Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Want to Ride My Bicycle.

Today I bought a new-used bike. I've been wanting a cruiser for a while, after owning a cheap 10-speed for years that I hated. I've just never been much for hand brakes, and when I look back on my childhood bike-riding heyday, I always stopped the flow of traffic with my feet.

Stefan recently purchased a two-bike rack, and ever since that happened we've both been scouring Craigslist for a deal. Today we spent the entire day examining bikes, test riding them around neighborhoods on James Island and in parking lots.  One guy had a ton of bikes, all rusty and weathered, that he claimed he'd found "in dumpsters, on roadsides, and just anywhere." We tested a couple, thinking he'd perhaps lower his prices to something sensible for an old beater, but nope. He asked a price that I knew I could beat--and I did.

I ended up getting my new bike thanks to a young woman from Summerville, whose recent pregnancy made her "too lazy to exercise," she'd said. I scored a bright blue cruiser and a helmet for practically nothing, and the bike is pretty much new.

I've already ridden around my neighborhood twice. Oh, how it brings back memories of riding around my grandmother's neighborhood, singing songs at the top of my lungs, flanked by my best childhood pals, from morning until dark. So carefree.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Who's Afraid of Hurricane Irene?

 I suppose I'm happy to be working from home today, and not going to the office or even to Mt. Pleasant at all. But when you're a true coastal gal who has been through way worse, a few rain bands and some wind doesn't  quite make me want to head for the hills.

Hurricane Hugo back in 1989 wasn't as bad as Hurricane Katrina, but for South Carolina it was an absolutely terrifying night. I remember sleeping in my grandmother's bed along with my grandmother, sister, AND mother--we were all scared to death. All night long we heard trees creaking and the house creaking. We tried to peep through the windows with our flashlights, but we saw nothing--it was like looking into opaque blackness. Now that I look back on it, why would we want to see? The sight of trees bending that far to the ground would not be comforting.

The next morning, the sky was blue and the air was filled with the fragrance of sap from broken limbs. My mother's new Toyota had been crushed by a Pine that fell on top of our carport. Our beach house in Litchfield was flooded. The power was out and neighbors walked the streets, helping each other out. My friend Gayden and I mourned the loss of a particular tree we loved.

Today, I'm sitting at home with Genessa, just like in January when we had the ice storm scare. I'm eating leftover macaroni and conducting phone interviews. It seems like a pretty regular day, aside from some windy rain.

Irene, thanks for the time off, and thanks for sparing Charleston the worst of you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Paranormal Romance, Anyone?

So, I've started tutoring for the Fall, and that means I've been scouting out good reading material for an almost-teenager. 

Um, have any of y'all been to the teen section of Barnes & Noble lately? It's been taken over. See below. 

"Teen Paranormal Romance" is apparently its own GENRE nowadays. The Twilight-sucking-blood-horror-boyfriend-craze has taken over entire SECTIONS at your friendly, neighborhood bookstore. 

I don't know about y'all, but the YA lit I read as a kid had very little to do with vampires, the undead, and other such nonsense. But wait! It gets even stranger. Right when I was beyond disgusted, sure that all the good literature was nowhere to be found in teen-land, I saw this. 

What is it? A copy of Wuthering Heights. But what does it look like? A copy of Twilight! I mean, I get it--Twilight was popular. But does that mean that every book needs to look like it? Even the catch phrase at the top says "Love Never Dies!" Sheesh. 

Suffice it to say that I won't be giving my tutoring client any book that even slightly resembles something from the "Teen Paranormal Romance" section. What does everyone else think about this? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fall Preparation.

While Fall hasn't *quite* started in our fair city of Charleston, plans for the season certainly have. Among my own are:

A road trip to Memphis, TN with my best gals, to see our friend Kim Thomas' art opening at the Memphis Museum of Art.

Volunteering for the new Reading Mentor program through Trident Technical College. I'll be sharing book experiences with school-aged kids and discussing the importance of literature.

Tutoring another kid in creative writing.

Contributing to the South Carolina Goodwill Fashion Blog, Trendy Thrifty Now.

Covering awesome stuff for the Charleston Scene, like the Pour House Mural Competition, The Charleston Green Fair, and the Open Arts Expo.

Whew! Full speed ahead!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Building Friendships the Modern Way?

 I can't help but notice how many new friendships have been fostered strictly over the internet. I'm talking about people you go to for real advice and sympathy via facebook and email--and then become close enough online to later visit that person on a road trip! Has this happened to anyone else, because it seems to happen to me frequently.

For example, a lot of the ladies I went to high school with did not speak to me when we were teenagers. Let's face it--i was a dorky outcast. But now, we talk online on a regular basis. And NOT just small talk--I mean we talk about the real issues in our lives--love affairs, job problems, and the like. We even make plans to grab drinks when we're home over the holidays!

It makes me wonder--are they hungrier for companionship now that they're adults and life is a bit more difficult? Or should I take this to mean that I'm just loads cooler now and they want to see what kind of gal I've turned into? Either way, my lunch card is full!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don't Judge a (Children's) Book by its Cover...

This morning I went to a meeting with the Andy Thomas crew for the first time in a while. (He's the guy whose book I co-wrote, The Job I Need Needs Me.) Since I hadn't been with the team in quite some time there were new people to greet, including the young mother of a two-year-old little girl.

As soon as we all sat down and prepared to start the meeting, the little girl started to cry because she didn't want to be put into a high chair. More accurately, she started to HOWL. Very loudly. In fact, the whole Earth Fare building seemed to be looking at our table.

Oh my GOD, what a spoiled brat! I thought to myself and probably to everyone else by the look on my face. It was obvious the little girl just wanted her mother's attention. Finally, in efforts to calm her down, her mom gave her a chocolate chip cookie and the kid settled into chocolatey silence. The meeting went on as planned, although it was hard to focus with the kid smearing goo all over her face and hair right beside me. I looked over at her and caught her gaze while the rest of the folks in the meeting discussed sales, networking, and whatever else.

Have you ever caught a two-year-old's gaze? I mean a stranger, not your own children or your family members. It's such an honest look. I think we actually communicated. I could tell by the sheepish look in her eyes that she knew she had misbehaved for no reason.

At the end of the meeting, I spoke briefly to the mother and said goodbye to the little girl, whose name was Reese.

"Can you say goodbye to Denise?" her mother asked her.

"Bye-bye 'Neese!" She waved her chubby hand at me, and my heart just melted. I found myself thinking maybe she wasn't a brat, after all. In fact, maybe her mother was going about it all wrong, giving her cookies and movies on a portable dvd player. From the look I saw in Reese's eyes, she's capable of good, old-fashioned reason.

Sometimes I can't wait to be a mom.

But it'll be after I finally get sick of partying and buying handbags.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Here we are, in the last month of Summertime, and I'm enjoying a leisurely weekend at home in Florence. It reminds me of when I was a kid in college, and I'd come home for a while before heading back to campus, into the world of debauchery and drinking. I would "recharge" my batteries in Florence for a bit by visiting family and old friends, taking a break from the party, and getting back to my roots.

This weekend serves the same purpose for me now. Next week I have the usual abundance of writing to do, interviews to attend, people to see, and classes to teach. But for now, I'm sipping a cup of coffee on my Mom's couch and having the most peaceful morning I can remember.