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First Booksigning This Weekend!

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For those of you in the Southeastern Michigan/Northwestern Ohio area, I wanted to mention that I have my very first book-signing event this Saturday.

Come out and buy a book!

See what a dork I am in real life!

Event info below. Remember, you can keep up-to-date with my events at anytime by checking my Events Page. Thanks!

Saturday, March 28, 2015
11:00AM – 2:30PM
Author Fair
Adrian Public Library
143 E. Maumee St.
Adrian, Mi 49221
517-265-2265

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

The Hart of Alabama

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Why is it that women always seem to be looking for and finding love in Alabama?

It happens in the movie Sweet Home Alabama. It happens on the TV series The Hart of Dixie. And in the book called The Wind Could Blow a Bug.

I am writing this post in honor of the season finale of Hart of Dixie airing this Friday. While the CW has thus far stayed mum, the cast have all been pretty public that this is the end of the series.

Hart of Dixie's Wilson Bethel

Hart of Dixie’s Wilson Bethel

You probably don’t remember a little blog post I wrote three years ago about Hart of Dixie. The link is here. And I still feel the same way. That the show just never quite lived up to its potential. And a large part of it might be that the show has several fundamental connections to The O.C. The O.C. nailed it with almost every episode. Maybe I just never got used to the slower feel of things in Bluebell. Hell, the first season was over before I realized I was supposed to have paid attention to the background townsfolk every week. That made re-watching season one, and watching new episodes going forward, much more enjoyable.

Josh Lucas & Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Josh Lucas & Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

A few weeks ago, I was daydreaming on a cold Michigan winter day about sunny Alabama (or at least as it is portrayed by various other location shoots on my television) and a thought occurred to me:

Hart of Dixie and Sweet Home Alabama have a few things in common.

1. They both feature petite career women from the big city.

Rachel Bilson as Dr. Zoe Hart and Reese Witherspoon as Melanie Carmichael, hoity-toity fashion designer. And in both cases, the big city is NYC.

2. They both feature a blond guy who looks amazing with his shirt off.

Wilson Bethel as Wade Kinsella and Josh Lucas as Jake Perry.

3. They both include a dark-haired man as the “logical” choice in the love triangle.

Scott Porter as lawyer George Tucker and Patrick Dempsey as rich guy Andrew Hennings.

4. The lead female in both instances seems to only be sure of her “bad boy” choice once he makes something of himself. (Which, HELLO, totally NEGATES the “bad boy.”)

Wade gets series about owning his own bar, while Jake takes his love of glass to the next level.

5. They both include weddings affected by storms.

George and Lemon’s wedding was pushed from the town square into the old, rundown fire station, until it was eventually called off altogether. Melanie runs from her groom Andrew as the winds pick up and the rain starts to pour.

Lesson to be learned here: No outdoor weddings if you are a fictional character in Alabama.

6. They both include a friend with a big mansion house.

Lavon’s large mayoral mansion is the setting for many of the high-jinks in Bluebell, including the guest houses where Wade and Zoe reside.  Melanie holds her ill-fated wedding with Andrew at the Carmichael estate.

These are just a few of the things I noticed off the top of my head.

I will be very sad to see Hart of Dixie go. It may not have always fulfilled my craving, but I faithfully watched it every week. Sometimes Hart of Dixie nailed it. Like when Wade has to sing Crazy Earl down off the roof, and we discover that Crazy Earl if actually his father. Or when Zoe makes a date with the mysterious stranger in town, only to find out he is Wade’s brother.

I don’t know what the writers originally planned for Zoe’s love life, but it was always Wade for me. <3

Zoe playing doctor with Wade

Zoe playing doctor with Wade

Did I wet your whistle for some more romantic adventures in Alabama? My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Spring: Time for Self-Improvement

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Do you really want to look back on your life and see how wonderful it could have been had you not been afraid to live it?
–Caroline Myss

I seem to be having a bit of a mid-life crisis. But, “You are not that old!”, you say? Well, thank you. And the people in my family don’t live to be very old, so, I kinda am.

I decided I needed some self-improvement in my life.

All at the same time, I started:

1. Taking St. John’s Wort supplements to balance my mood.
2. Reading a book called Warrior Goddess Training by HeatherAsh Amara
3. Reading a book called Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild

I think I forgot to add caffeine...

Mood Enhancers: I think I forgot to add the caffeine…

I read the books at the same time because although Rothschild’s book is based in Christianity and Amara’s book is based in Shamanism, they cover similar territory.

Self Talk, Soul Talk explains that even if you are only calling yourself an “idiot” silently in your own head, you will eventually begin to believe it. Part One of her book helps you to identify the bad thoughts in your “thought closet” as she refers to it. OK. Check. Lots of badness in there.

Part Two of her book is broken into seven things that you should tell your soul. Her section on “hope” explained it in a way I don’t think I have ever thought of it before. I underlined passages as I read, and the book might work better that way for me. To go back and just review key passages, instead of trying to make sense of a whole chapter at a time. This isn’t a bash against her book or writing style, it is the fight in me trying to resist change.

Warrior Goddess Training was more interesting to me because the information was being presented to me in a new way. While I have never attended a Sunday church service regularly, I have grown up for decades in the USA where I have been surrounded by Christian ideals every day that I have always failed to fully understand. Warrior Goddess Training is based on ancient Toltec tradition. The book is divided into ten lessons where you find your True Warrior Goddess self by accepting how you are instead of feeling bad about it. “Our deepest healing occurs when we learn to be our own best friend, companion, and cheerleader,” Amara writes.

Amara discusses how there are three parts to yourself: your judge self, your victim self, and your Warrior Goddess self, who sometimes just has to tell the other two to shut the f’ up. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.) There was an activity in the book where the reader was asked to rewrite the old stories from your past that you keep telling yourself, but that are no longer true. I found that exercise pretty helpful.

“When you open your heart to yourself, quirks and all, you change the world.”
–HeatherAsh Amara, Warrior Goddess Training

Both books lost me when they tried to tie their ideas to a religious/ideological framework. Rothschild used tiny phrases from the Bible to illustrate her points. While they were nice, I am always skeptical if you can’t even cite an entire sentence to illustrate your thoughts. It is easy to take things out of context that way. That is how all the political ads words on TV come election time.

While I liked the positive sentiments in both books, at the end of the day they both didn’t sit right with me. Self Talk, Soul Talk says to me that I have no control over my life, because it is all God’s plan. In Warrior Goddess Training, it states: A Warrior Goddess does not try to control life or even understand it. Our job is to consciously choose what we are aligning with and then let go…

I must be a control freak, because if I can’t have control of my life, then why am I here on this planet at all? And it goes against what I believe about the Law of Attraction, that you can bring the things you want to you. I have lived and seen that for myself. Not always, but enough to believe.

So, I now know what good stuff I should be putting into my mind and heart, but I still haven’t changed my thought processes to make those things my default. I also haven’t cleaned out the old junky stuff that is bothering me. I think I would benefit from reading the books again, individually. Maybe then the information would sink in better.

I think, overall, the St. John’s Wort has been most effective. Mostly because I can’t remember to change my thinking many times a day, but I can remember to take a pill three times a day. And, you know, there is always the placebo effect…

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

What I Learned This Week – 3/22/15

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This week I have learned that I am watching Netflix original programing faster than I can review it for you.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt I devoured in a week. It was offbeat and fast-paced, but I could follow-it, unlike 30 Rock, the previous show by creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

I can’t get this joke out of my head: “That man could sell snow to an Eskimo. Or a Pontiac Aztek to…someone.” See more about Pontiac Azteks here.

I love the theme song for the show, which appears as a autotuned mash up of news coverage from Kimmy and the cult’s discovery. I especially love how it is used in a long story arc to illustrate the dangers of today’s instant celebrity.

I just started watching the new Netflix drama Bloodline. I am watching it because I LOVE Kyle Chandler. (Homefront fans, head over here.) I also like Linda Cardellini.

But after two episodes, I am not a fan of this show. It has that shaky camera-work that directors think is cool, but it just annoys me. You have a budget; go buy a tripod. And the storytelling is very slow-moving. And so far, I don’t really like ANYONE in this family. How am I supposed to root for anyone or care about them? They could all go get blown up on a boat for all I care. And Kyle has experience with that on Grey’s Anatomy. It feels like a series that should be on HBO or Showtime. I am not really into those.

Photo: facebook.com/BloodlineTV

Photo: facebook.com/BloodlineTV

I will continue to watch at least a few more episodes to see if it improves.

There, you have been updated.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Finding Imperfections

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When I was in college, I worked at a gas station convenience store.  It was there that I learned of my latent love of finding food past its expiration date.  It was like being a detective!  After I found all the food that was expired, then I would find items that the expiration date was soon approaching.  Baby food was good for this.  No one in two years ever bought baby food at that gas station.  I started checking the dates in other stores.  I just couldn’t help myself.  I learned that a nearby grocery store’s lunch meat selection was a great place to find goods past their date.

I also like to find grammatical errors, especially in printed signs, labels, and paperwork.  It gives me a thrill.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  My writing is in no way error-free.  I am sure you can find many of them on this very blog.  But, I just expect that printed items would be proof read a few times before going to print.  Labels on products from China with bad translations are such easy targets. They don’t count. Recently I found a typo on the ABC.com website. Hello! You are owned by freakin’ Disney. You can pay someone to proofread the website.  Maybe me;-)

This obsession carries over to other things as well. I get giddy when I see a business that is clearly closed, who have left for the night and their neon “OPEN” is left on. There was a towing business on my back way home from work who would more often than not forget and leave their’s on.

The manual I had for my Pontiac Aztek had a very blatent error in it. (I sooo wish I would have scanned it so I could show you. But, alas, it is now gone with the car. To Florida. Lucky car.) On one page, it said that you must close the tailgate before you close the glass liftgate, or you would risk breaking the glass. Several pages later, it said that you must close the glass liftgate first before the tailgate, your you could break the glass. (For the record, the first one was correct.)

Four Paws Safety Seat Support Harness

Four Paws Safety Seat Support Harness

The packaging on the Four Paws Safety Harness never ceases to make me giggle. It actually says, “Helps protect your pet from injury while driving.” It makes it sound like the dog is actually going to be driving and steering the car. I realize that maybe to someone in England or something it might sound proper. But it seems like it would sound more universally appropriate if they rephrased it to just say “Helps protect your pet from injury while riding”?

I used to go with my husband to visit his mom at a nearby campground. She had a neighbor that would let us borrow their golf cart to drive around in. Right on the steering wheel was a list of how to operate it correctly. There was a typo on it.

AT LEAST three typos on this!

AT LEAST two typos on this!

Do you see? Those are the kind of idiosyncrasies that drive me crazy. Not so much grammar on social media, because that is just a lost cause. But printed materials: labels, signs, books. They should have some degree of accuracy, shouldn’t they?

And now I would like to put my eyeballs where my mouth is. I want to use this talent for good, instead of evil.

I am going into the editing business. I will proofread books for things such as grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization. I can also do services like typing up resumes or other documents. Let me know what you need, and I will let you know if I can do it. Please check out my new “Editing” page. I will list all the details there as they become available.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you could possibly use my services.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

There Is Still Time to Enter!

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In case you missed it, I have a great giveaway going on for a FREE copy of my book The Wind Could Blow a Bug!

The Wind Could Blow a Bug by Jennifer Friess

The Wind Could Blow a Bug by Jennifer Friess

Contest ends at midnight EDT on 3/18/15.

For complete details on how to enter, please read here: http://imnotstalkingyou.com/2015/03/12/excerpt-the-wind-could-blow-a-bug-chapter-19/

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Excerpt: The Wind Could Blow a Bug – Chapter 19

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I am happy to offer you another excerpt from my debut novel, The Wind Could Blow a Bug. Chapter 19 takes place after Jane and Wade have broken up, and she is exiled off to college. Jane is depressed because she no longer has Wade, but she also has no other friends in her life either. Her existence is empty.

And, to make your bookshelf feel less empty…

I WILL BE GIVING AWAY TWO COPIES OF THE WIND COULD BLOW A BUG!

The Wind Could Blow a Bug, Jennifer Friess

The Wind Could Blow a Bug, Jennifer Friess

I will give away ONE COPY to someone who comments on this very blog post here at ImNotStalkingYou.com.  Click on “Leave a Comment” below. When it asks for your email, be sure to use one I can reach you at if you are the lucky winner. (Note: Your email will not be displayed to anyone but me.)

I will also give away ONE COPY to someone who comments on the post containing the link to this blog post on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/imnotstalkingyou2. (Note: Only comments on the Facebook post with the link to “Excerpt: The Wind Could Blow a Bug – Chapter 19″ are eligible to win.)

One entry per person per site per day. Contest ends at midnight EDT on 3/18/15. Winners will be selected and notified on 3/19/15. The two winners will be asked to provide their mailing addresses to me so that I can ship them paperback copies of my book. Your address will be used for no other purpose.

If you WOULD like to stay in touch with me and my writing antics, please feel free to sign up for my author updates at THIS LINK (signing up at this link DOES NOT enter you into the contest).

Thank you so much for support!

If you missed the other excerpts, you can find them here:

Chapter 1: http://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/12/04/excerpt-the-wind-could-blow-a-bug-chapter-1/

Chapter 2: http://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/12/30/excerpt-the-wind-could-blow-a-bug-chapter-2/

Chapter 11: http://imnotstalkingyou.com/2015/02/02/excerpt-the-wind-could-blow-a-bug-chapter-11/

19

Jane had thought (hoped, prayed) that when Wade heard about the Rileys’ divorce, as he surely would, that he would come and get back together with her. If nothing else, that he would at least call to check on her, see if she was alright. Because she was not.

But that was not his problem anymore.

That call never came.

Part of what made being with Wade so great, was the fact that Jane felt whole. It wasn’t just that she was happy for a change, but that he was the other part of her whole and he made her feel complete. A day just somehow doesn’t seem complete until you’ve been close enough to a guy to smell his masculine scent. Maybe that is why days and nights without him blended together as only big chunks of living; no more, no less.

Jane continued to work at the Diner, making eye contact with customers as little as possible. Wade no longer came in. She put in her two weeks notice before she left for school. Donna was very choked up when Jane’s last day came. Donna was the only one Jane would miss in Oakley. Well, and of course Wade. But Jane tried not to think about him. She tried not to think about much of anything.

Jane began to pack up all her things. Anything she wanted to keep would have to go with her to college to fit in her tiny dorm room. Stuffed animals, old school work, and treasured toys all had to be boxed. The house had to be completely empty and neither of her parents had offered to keep any boxes for her at their new residences.

Jane ran across the address she had found on the Internet for her birth mother. She ripped it into a million little pieces and threw it out her bedroom window, to watch the pieces flutter in the wind. One thing she was positive of: she could not bear to have one more person in this life abandon or reject her. Especially the one who had started the vicious cycle in the first place.

When the day came, Mr. Riley drove her the four hours and forty-five minutes up to Clark College in Burkeville. He helped her carry her boxes into her room. He gave her a kiss and a hug, and then he was gone. Jane sat in the center of the room, surrounded by the still-sealed cardboard boxes containing her entire life, starving, and cried. She didn’t know where the dining hall was or where to get her food card. She could hear other students in the hallway and knew the logical thing to do would be to ask one of them. But she just could not face anyone right now. Due to a paperwork fluke, she had a room all to herself. Although, it would probably only feed her desire for solitude.

Jane had never felt so alone in her life.

Jane felt lost at college.  Once Clark College had provided her class schedule to her and they had her money, it seemed like they had no more support for her.  Where was the cheery recruiter who had assured her there would be advisers, career counselors, dorm monitors, and all sorts of other imaginary-sounding positions to support her with her academic endeavors?  Jane had no idea what she wanted to major in.  God, she wasn’t going to join a sorority, that was for sure.  She supposed she could join the college newspaper, but even that seemed pointless to her now.

Jane was on her own, to get herself up and get to her classes on time, to get her homework done.  Despite her growing depression, these things were second nature to her.  Her responsible behavior made her seem like she had it together more than her fellow classmates.  They were not used to self-discipline or the freedom to party.  They often showed up in their pajamas, late for class, sometimes with incomplete homework.

If Jane’s suffering showed more outwardly, maybe someone would have reached out to offer her help.  But her suffering was mostly silent and invisible to anyone who didn’t already know what her regular personality should be.  She wasn’t walking past people in the halls missing an arm, leaving a river of blood behind her.  To anyone she passed, it would just look like she was having a bad day.  As such, if no one person took interest in her, then no one would realize that one day strung together into two days, which then became a week, a month.  Depression was invisible.  It made Jane invisible as well.

Jane just went a full hour without thinking about Wade. That must be a new record. Just yesterday, she made it a full 30 minutes without seeing his face in her mind. This morning, she got through 45 minutes (almost all of The Price is Right) without hearing his voice in her ears—oh, that sexy, fun voice.

No, I won’t do that to myself, Jane thought. Even though it seemed harmless enough, letting her mind wander back to the days with him, it really only made things worse. There may be a day, sometime in the uncharted future, when she could look back on those memories without it being a problem. But for now, it hurt much less if Jane shut out all the thoughts of him, good and bad. If she didn’t think about him, maybe she could forget that he exists altogether. That would make the pain hurt much less. If only Wade still loved her, then she wouldn’t hurt at all.

You would think it would be easier to not think about him, being away from the places where it all happened. But somehow, the fact that she couldn’t go back to those places made it all seem like it was a movie or someone else’s dream. It was the same way with his face. She was afraid she would forget what he looked like. She had no picture to remind her. This made her mind seem to hold on to those memories even more fiercely.

Jane glanced at the clock and realized it was time to go to her on-campus job in the dining hall. The arrangement helped pay part of her tuition. It wasn’t like working at the Diner. There she had been out in the dining room, if you could call it that, with the customers. Here, she was mostly in the kitchen. First, filling pans with food, then scraping and cleaning them. There were other students who worked in the kitchen as well. They were polite to Jane. But usually she was not part of their conversations.

“Hey, Jane, there is a party tonight,” Sally said.

“General admission, $2,” Jake added.

“Everyone welcome,” said Andre.

“Eh, I don’t think they mean me,” Jane replied back, making a face as if she smelled something bad.

“Are you going to the party tonight?” Dan asked, as he walked into the kitchen. He had either not heard the conversation or caught only the tail end of it.

“Ya, Sally and I are,” Jake answered him.

“Are you going to the party tonight, Jane?” Dan inquired.

“I’m not going. I think I’ll stay in my room and catch up on some things.” Jane knew while the posters around the campus said “Everyone Welcome” in thick, black copier ink, they did not mean her.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Whalers on The Moon

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We are very fond of Futurama at our house. I decided it just wasn’t right that I hadn’t shared this little ditty on the blog yet. So, here is the song “Whalers on The Moon from the second episode of Futurama, titled “The Series Has Landed”. Fry is super excited to visit the moon for the first time, only to discover in the year 3000 that it has been turned into “Luna Park”, a poor-man’s version of Disneyland. The song is sung on a boat ride that is supposed to be a rip off of the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Remember This? Wes Nile

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The only known photograph of the band Wes Nile, 2003

The only known surviving photograph of the band Wes Nile, 2003

In January 2003, Wes Nile was the next big up and coming band. Everyone was talking about them. They made all the music industry magazines lists of “Up and Coming Bands to Watch” and “The Big Albums of 2003″.

Simon Cowell called them “Dreadful.”

Critics criticized Wes Nile for playing into the West Nile virus scare, which was at the height of its hysteria. Founder Wes Nile debunked critics by publicly showing his birth certificate, displaying his birth name as Westley P. Nile.  Of course, he had it tattooed onto his butt when he revealed it at the international press conference.

Other members of the band were Eas Nile and Dee Nile. Other members C. Nile and P. Nile rotated in and out of the band, depending on who was feuding with who.

In June, their debut album was supposed to be released, but got postponed until September. They were scheduled to appear on Saturday Night Live that week as the musical guest. Wes Nile assured NBC that they would do the show anyway, but failed to show up on Saturday night. To fill the air time, the SNL cast members sang “1000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

Lorne Michaels was furious and promptly banned Wes Nile from any future appearances.  This helped to fuel their popularity.

Similar absenteeism happened when they were due to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman.

In the meantime, their songs “Punk Rock Pollock” & “Hop Shamock-a-Lok” became chart-topping hits, despite being only the sounds of screaming and crows.

Sadly, it is unclear which charts those were, as a freak fire at the Billboard offices destroyed all records for only the year 2003.

Wes Nile was announced as the headliners of First Annual Michigan Mosquito Festival. It was supposed to be the first step to make a mends with their fans who were quickly becoming disillusioned by their reputation as no-shows. It would also serve as the first stop on their universal concert tour, due to culminate with the first concert on the moon, although there is no record of NASA ever condoning such an en devour.

Years later, Richard Branson claimed in his best-selling biography “Story of a Rich British Guy Who Likes the Color Red” that he was in secret talks with them to “make the magic happen.”

Festival organizers reported that Wes Nile did in fact show up to perform. Unfortunately, unforseen circumstances prevented them from taking the stage. The festival was cancelled because their fans had used too much bug spray and the fire Marshal ruled that, with the stage pyrotechnics, there was too much of a fire hazard.

No future Michigan Mosquito Festivals were ever held.

Their debut album was yet again postponed by the record label. This time, indefinitely. The name of the album, “Bite Me”, and the group photo of the band above had already been released. With the album in limbo, the universal tour was canceled.

Not much remains of the Wes Nile legacy. All their most hard-core fans had significant brain damage from the bug repellent at the Mosquito Festival, causing severe memory loss.

In 2005, Westley P. Nile ordered all this fans to send in their CD singles of the band’s only two hits. He no longer felt they were the bands best work, and didn’t want them out polluting the world. Fans resisted, so he offered to send each fan a $100 check upon receipt. The next day post offices had lines around the block of people sending back CDs.

Westley never made good on his promise to pay up.

He later hacked all the computers of fans who had digital files of his music. Westley was put on trial, but was found to be criminally insane, due to the fact that he believed himself to be a robot.  He claimed he had plugged a part of his anatomy into his computer to upload and download the files.  This was never proven or dis proven in court.

Eas Nile became a best-selling author, specializing in alien erotica. Unfortunately, her success allowed her to over-indulge in her love of cheese. She tried to build a house made out of cheese, but was almost killed by The Plague when mice over-ran the place.

Dee Nile married P. Nile, but they soon divorced when he could not remain faithful.  Dee became an author, writing about cheese-related tragedies. Her books were not successful, due to the premise being too unbelievable. Instead, she started a successful blog which featured a new pizza recipe daily. She tours college campuses regularly.

C. Nile became a glamorous and edgy pop star in Czechoslovakia under the stage name “Cadonna”. Due to strict embargo rules, her music is not available here and cannot be posted on YouTube.

P. Nile has since fathered ten children by ten different women. In order to pay his child support, he has become one of the leading pimps of Albuquerque.

Rumors swirl occasionally on Myspace of a reunion, but that seems doubtful while Westley is still in the asylum.

Wes Nile touched so many people, for such a brief period of time. Every now and then, I will see a faded, worn “Bite Me” bumper sticker on the back of a car, and a tear comes to my eye, for what might have been…

Feel free to share your own memories of Wes Nile in the comments below.

Repost: College Sucked

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On Thursday I will be posting another excerpt from my new book, “The Wind Could Blow a Bug”.

The book begins with the lead character, Jane Riley, as a senior in high school. She gets her first boyfriend, then graduates. That is when things begin to fall apart in her life. She heads off to college seeing no hope in her life, and suffering from depression. The excerpt on Thursday will come from that section of the book. I wrote it heavily from my own influences. To get you prepped, here is a post I wrote over 2 years ago about how much College Sucked. Enjoy.

And come back on Thursday for a BOOK GIVEAWAY as well!

This was originally posted on 2/26/13. You can follow this link to the original post and comments here: http://imnotstalkingyou.com/2013/02/26/college-sucked/

I always measure my experiences in life to how they would be portrayed on a sitcom. As you might expect, my own experiences often play out much differently than in TV Land. College would be one of these.

College sucked. On TV, everyone is always a joiner who participates in every student activity. They make friends they will have for the rest of their lives. They go to parties. They learn to be deep thinkers. They find their soul mate.

Me? Not so much. I was a commuter with no car for 3 out of my 4 years of college. While waiting for my ride home every day, I had to kill hours in the library. There are only two friends that I made in college that I still keep in touch with. I never went to a single party. I am not a natural-born joiner. I joined some sort of academic fraternity that never had any activities just so that I could get a sweatshirt with Greek letters on it. Then I felt self-conscious in it and never wore it. I submitted some of the depressing poetry I wrote while killing time in the library anonymously to the college literary magazine. They published a couple.

My two closest friends were at two other colleges in two different states. It made for a very lonely time in my life. My best friend came back home after her freshmen year (she HAD found the parties), which was better. But she was attending the university across town, so we never saw each other except at night.

I also had an undiagnosed, then diagnosed, stomach problem during this time as well. So I felt miserable physically as well as mentally!

It was overall the loneliest year of my life. I don’t really think I look forward to coming back in the fall. -JLF 4/27/95

My other friend, my asbestos friend, had an even worse college experience than me. I told her this week how I was going through my old college free-writes to get a true sense of the misery to work on my new story (and this blog post). Her reply?

“I don’t think I could relive that time. I’ve blocked much of it out & I think that’s for the best.”

She has told me a few of her great miserable stories, including being sick with mono and all alone, and donating so much blood for money that she passed out in the parking lot at the donation place. (Those are two separate occasions. I think.) But my favorite story is the one where she takes her life back into her own hands. It’s the story where during her last semester she realizes college is making her miserable and she is an adult. She has her own job and her own place to live. She just leaves the campus and never turns back. She is my hero:)

I did not leave. I stayed, hoping to get my MRS. degree. I only went to college because my mom told me I had to either do that or get a job. I had gone to school for K-12 years. I had never had a job. I picked the option I was familiar with. I should have got a job. Now I have a Bachelor’s Degree and I am applying to entry-level store jobs at Meijer, Cash Advance, and Family Video. And they are not hiring me.

Compilation of 2 No Doubt drawings I made while in college

Compilation of 2 No Doubt drawings I made while in college

I had my first boyfriend for a month my freshmen year. After it ended, from my old writings, I seemed to be lonelier than before.

When I was in high school, I had a few hours after school everyday before my mom got home from work that was my time to myself. In college, I had no privacy. My mom was my ride. If she was home I was home and she drove me nuts. (This is probably the only way my college experience was worse than my asbestos friend’s.) My bedroom didn’t even have a door. I would stay up late to do homework, and find myself watching Beavis & Butthead marathons on MTV instead. I always said that I could feel my brain cells rotting away as I watched that show. I think it helped numb my depression. Then my mom, who always slept on the couch in the living room where the only TV was, would wake up. (Yes, I went to college in the Dark Ages. My college had text-only Internet my freshmen year!) She would ask me,”Are you watching Beaver & Buttface?” I mostly watched it for the music videos, which sucks, because any version released on DVD has only limited music videos. How much did I watch them? Here are a poem and some fan artwork from that time:

Lovin’ the Boys
By: JLF
3/7/95

If I make a video
Can I get on that show?
First I would have to make
A really cool video
You know,
One with lots of guitars,
And riffs, and drums.
I would stumble around
In a really short dress
And scream all the words
Really, really loud.
I would put in some shots
Of farm animals and livestock,
And throw in a toilet
(To give them something to talk about).
Then I would send it to New York,
To that video channel,
And wait every day & every night
For them to put my video on that show.
They could sit there on their couch
In their dirty T-shirts & stinky shorts
And watch my video.
That dark-haired guy and his dumb-blond friend
Could belch and fart
And yell “Fire! Fire!”
Then they would deem my video
As “Cool” or “Sucks”,
By how short my dress was,
How loud I yelled,
And the fact my video had only one
Toilet in it.
But I would be happy
Because I got to see my video,
With one of those yellow, pointy
signs with their names in it
In the corner of the screen.

And that would make it worthwhile. . .

Illustration I made based on a video that Beavis & Butthead mocked.  (My son likes this pic a lot.  Maybe I should be concerned about that.)

Illustration I made based on a video that Beavis & Butthead mocked. (My son likes this pic a lot. Maybe I should be concerned about that.)

I ended up getting an on-campus job, so I started interacting with my classmates a little more. It also got me out of the library. I got paid (!) to wait for my ride. That helped a little.

Then I got a better boyfriend. I couldn’t find him at college, because he was still in high school. (I should have flunked!) Those who know me know he is now my husband.

Then I got an off-campus job too, in addition to those other things. My best friend worked at the convenience store too, and helped me get the job. People who know me know it was one of my favorite jobs. I liked it so well that I saved up my earnings over the summer so that I could buy a car so that in the fall I could keep the job while I finished college. (Most people get a job to get a car. I got a car to keep a job.)

I should become a writer like Erma Bombeck & just write about “stuff”. -JLF (found in an old college notebook)

So, ya, college sucked for me. I can enthusiastically say that not everyone enjoys themselves at college. Accept this post and the accompanying writings below as evidence. Probably the worst time of my life. When my son gets old enough, I don’t know how I will ever be able to keep from talking negatively about it. I kind of feel about it the way I do about the Lord of the Rings films. I want my time and money back. I want my four years and my $18,000 back (I got a lot of scholarships).

Untitled
By: JLF
4/8/95

There’s a party tonight
General Admission – $2
There’s a party tonight
Everyone Welcome
Are you going to the party tonight?
I don’t think they mean me
Are you going to the party tonight?
Everyone would be happier if I didn’t
Everyone’s going
But I am not
Everyone’s going
I’ll stay home and listen
to my own silence.
Sometimes a person
has to look through the thick, black
copier ink lettering
And realize that circumstances
and situations and history
are the things that really predict
who will attend the ball
and who will stay home.

The Driving Rain
By: JLF

It is 9:06PM. It’s raining. I have a half a tank of gas. Will this be the night. Will this be the night I keep going and don’t look back?

I could change my life right now. It would be just as easy as changing channels on the television. I can see all my different options spread out in front of me, and the television channels just keep going. There is the music video channel, blaring sounds and images. There is Channel 25. All Hitler, All the time. The third reicht of the Chicago area. Heil! Channel 25. Then the weather channel. Do I want rain or do I want sunshine? Which road will lead me to what type of weather?

Oh. I’m on the road back home. But I still don’t have to go there. This road is so boring, so familiar. A person could die on a road like this and the drivers who travel it every day would probably not notice the body for months. Was the light I just went through green or read, not that it would really mater. The slick road is completely vacant of other cars. The only tire marks I can see on the wet pavement are in my rear view mirror. I could slip out of town now, right out of the city limits. No one would see me, no one would be the wiser.

God, to just keep driving. To have no pre-planned destination, no over-analyzed goals—it all sounds like a dream. For the first time since I walked into Kindergarten on Experience Day and was assigned a seat and pencils and crayons, I would be in charge for myself. New mothers complain about not having handbooks to care for their new children. It is too bad they don’t make handbooks for the children, to help figure out what is right for themselves. I feel like I have never done anything I truly wanted to in my entire life.

One more road until home. Is this it? Well, a few times I have done what I wanted. There was the time I went to the carnival by myself, and I kept playing games until I won a stuffed animal. But I felt as though everyone was staring at me because I was by myself. (I am always by myself. I am at this very moment.) I got a stuffed animal that day. But it wasn’t from the guy I flirted with or the games I tried the hardest at. I got my little stuffed bear from a crooked game and, even though I know that, I still think of him as a lucky charm.

Should someone as naïve as I be roaming around the nation’s highways? Probably not.

Ahh—I just passed the drive to my house. But it wasn’t a brave, meaningful decision of symbolism as I had hoped. I simply got too caught up in my petty thoughts. But there is always a last refuge of a coward. I click on my turn signal for the next road, like reflex. I will turn around and make my way back to the same house and my same room.

Tonight—tonight I just couldn’t do it. Rain can be romantic, but it is also scary. A half a tank of gas, well, maybe I’ll try it when there is a full tank. Maybe I’ll try it when I have more courage, or more caffeine coursing through my veins. Maybe I just need something more to run away from than familiarity.

So, I pull in the same driveway, unlock the same door with the same key, and walk through the living rom. I flick on the TV without even turning on a lamp, enjoying the flashes of blue that light up the room instead. I turn on the Weather Channel and see what it will be like tomorrow.

I hate life.
By: JLF
8/96
I hate life. I hate life. Life sucks so bad. My life is just one f***ing blackhole, which I don’t know what that is because I am too lazy & distracted to bother to read my astronomy book to bother to find out what a f***ing blackhole is! And why do I have to come back to f***ing school, which I f***ing hate! I have only had panic attacks while I had to go to school since I was in, like Kindergarten. I HATE SCHOOL! It makes me feel all yucky inside. It makes me feel dark & gloomy inside. It makes me feel like I do when I think about death–> DEATH, how stiffling & cold & lonely & empty it will be. That is what every second at school feels like to me…

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