What I’ve been doing since I last posted a month ago, most of which you probably don’t care about, including: a publication, a nomination, going to the opera, and four-wheeling!

Hi, Internets! It’s been a while. Over a month, I see, which is not very long in human time but very, very long in internet time, thanks in large part to the instant-gratification engine that is Twitter.  As I understand it, if you don’t update your blog every other day or so, people stop caring and you become irrelevant. I have three things to say to that: 1) Grow some patience, people. I’d hate to see what happens when you have to wait for water to boil. You probably walk away and forget about it, don’t you? Don’t you? Actually, I do the same thing. If my kettle didn’t have a loud whistle on it, my apartment would have burned down long ago. 2) If I updated this thing every other day, it would be a very boring blog, and you would all know way too much about my eating habits and how much I talk to my mom. 3)  Thanks for not un-following me during my long absence. That’s pretty cool of you.

Anyway. Here’s some of what I did during my month-long blog sabbatical.

I found out my story “Upper Middle Class Houses” from Third Coast is being nominated for a Pushcart Prize (HELLLLLZ YES!), making that my first Pushcart nomination, and Third Coast is also nominating it for inclusion in New Stories from the Midwest. Both of these things are beyond amazing. Thank you, Third Coast, for publishing the story in the first place and then believing in it enough for both these nominations!

My story “Lady Killers” will be coming out over at Whole Beast Rag in their TAMMY issue. This is cool for multiple reasons, the foremost of which being that Whole Beast Rag is a very exciting, very intelligent, extremely cool new publication that is way more smart and edgy and provocative than I ever thought I’d be. I’m no Nate Silver, but I feel safe predicting that this magazine is going to go places. The second reason this is cool is that one of the editors actually emailed me and asked me to submit. I tried to play it cool and pretend like that happens to me all the time, but in reality, that was my first-ever solicitation from a journal. (!!!) After I forwarded the email to my best friend and my husband with the title “Holy Crap I Think I Just Got Solicited??!!?!” and jumped around my office/storage room a bit, I realized I actually had to come up with something to send them. In summary, this lit a fire under my ass and I spent most of October writing like mad. I got some great starts on several new stories, and the story I ended up sending them was a piece I actually started three years ago. Sometimes it takes that long to write a story. Which sucks. But man, did it feel good to finally finish it.

Fun fact: both of the aforementioned stories involve porn. I just realized that. I wonder what this says about me. (To any family members reading this–that was a joke! What’s porn? I don’t even know what that is! DON’T READ EITHER OF THOSE STORIES.)

I also picked up copies of Best American Short Stories and Best American Nonrequired Reading, because, hey, my name is in the back of both of them. I had to get a sales girl to point me to the fiction anthologies because I could not for the life of me find them. (This is because they were for some reason on the bottom two shelves of the erotica section.) As I was headed to the register, the sales girl asked me if I had found what I needed, and, I couldn’t help myself, I opened one of them to the back, showed her my name, and went, “Yes! And look! I’m in here!” To which she replied, “Oh, wow! And you got two copies? You should totally get two.” In response, I showed her the front of the other, different anthology, and said, “No, I’m in both of them.” This was maybe the most smug, gloating, self-congratulatory exchange I’ve ever had. But whatever. I was excited.

Other non-literary things I did:

I went to the opera for the first time ever. Our seats had an EXCELLENT view of the chandelier.

…And not much else.

The opera was Rigoletto, which involves a court fool (Rigoletto), his virgin daughter Gilda, a lecherous Duke who takes droit du seigneur waaaaay too far, another guy who puts a curse on the Duke and Rigoletto because the Duke bedded the guy’s hot wife (still not sure why Rigoletto was also cursed for this), and some sort of pirate/assassin.

Lots of stuff ensues. The Duke falls in love (read: lust) with Rigoletto’s daughter, who he doesn’t know is Rigoletto’s daughter, and basically gets her to fall in love with him by using a series of the WORST pickup lines ever, set to song. At the end of their courting scene, they do that You hang up! No, you hang up! No, you hang up! Okay, I’ll hang up. . . JUST KIDDING I DIDN’T HANG UP! thing that silly love-struck people do,  and I was like, Wow, that’s been going on since forever.

Anyway. Everyone at court is really mean to Rigoletto, because A) Rigoletto makes jokes about them all the time (because he’s the COURT FOOL, guys), and also he has a hunchback, and B) because royal court is apparently just like the cafeteria from Mean Girls. What the heavens are you wearing, Rigoletto? You know that on the Lord’s day of Thurs, we all wear our oxblood tunics! Not our crushed-up berries tunics! GAH. Now we have to kidnap your virgin daughter and possibly rape her, though the script won’t be clear about that, preferring to leave it to your lascivious imaginations.

So maybe it’s a bit more extreme than Mean Girls.

Since this is an Italian revenge opera set in the 16th century and written in the 19th century, there is, of necessity, an extreme amount of secretiveness and miscommunication. Nobody knows what the hell is going on. Rigoletto’s daughter is a teenage girl, so she totally didn’t tell her dad about her new boyfriend. Who, by the way, she thinks is a student and not the Duke, because the Duke overheard her saying something about having the hots for poor students. (Obviously, the girl has taste.) Rigoletto doesn’t know his daughter is being kidnapped and actually HOLDS THE LADDER for the kidnappers because he’s drunk and blindfolded (?????) and doesn’t know what he’s doing. The Duke doesn’t know his beloved is Rigoletto’s daughter, so when the court tells him they kidnapped Rig’s kid, he’s all AHAHAHA GOOD SPORT, CHAPS! (The Duke, interestingly enough, is the great-great-great-great-several-more-greats-grandfather of both Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.)

I can’t even explain to you all the convoluted paths of miscommunication and general treachery. But eventually, both the Duke and Rigoletto get wise about what happened to Gilda. The Duke finds this out first, and upon realizing the beloved Gilda is in the building, runs off-stage doing the Renaissance equivalent of unzipping his fly. When Rigoletto finds out, he scares the crap out of everyone at court by being, well, SUPER pissed off and also very drunk, having understandably drowned his sorrows after discovering his daughter was missing. Then, also understandably, he goes and hires an assassin/pirate to kill the Duke.

Some other stuff happens. I was tired of reading the subtitles on the subtitle teleprompter thing above the stage, and there was a fog machine in the last act that I was really enjoying watching, so here my comprehension slags off. But pretty much what happens is the assassin kills Gilda instead of the Duke, and Rigoletto is all alone in the world and totally heartbroken, and the Duke is in the other room merrily boinking the assassin’s sister. Not kidding. The moral of the story seems to be: Rich People Win.

I have no idea if this is an accurate synopsis or not, so don’t use it in place of SparkNotes or anything.

What I learned from this is: I don’t think the opera is my thing.

Also in the last month, since we can’t be classy and cultured all the time, the husband took me four-wheeling.

Obviously, I am a natural.



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