Friday, February 24, 2017

Newbie Advice

Whether you are for or against immigrants coming to the United States, is none of my bees wax. That whole business is not what this post is about. This is simply advice for anyone moving here:

1. There is one article of clothing that is a necessity to your wardrobe: Micky Mouse. The most common is the one that I own, a gray tee-shirt with Mickey in traditional garb, hands behind his back, and smiling.

As we are a diverse nation, you are allowed to alter your selection. We even allow for various genders and animal types: Minnie Mouse for the women, Daisy and Donald represent the duck culture, Goofie no one's quite sure of, Pluto of the doggie kingdom, Chip and Dale from the underground tree rodents.

See how the 'melting pot' works now?

2. Pretend you are totally fashion insensitive, that you have your own character and style of clothing. Then, wear what every one else in your crowd is wearing. When you notice that your freshly dyed pink hair, that you paid top dollar for in the search to stand out from the crowd, is being worn by a huge percentage of the crowd, pretend you do not notice. Works every time.

3. Embrace ketchup on food. Be sure to include a puddle of it on your plate with every American burger and fries that you eat, then only use half.

4. Eat french fries weekly and do not question why they are attributed to the French--yet, I'm pretty sure they were started by our country Nobody quite knows why the credit goes to our European neighbors, and the fact that we don't really know is an embarrassment to us all. Avoid the discussion like politics, religion, and minimist modern art.

5. We are a nation obsessed with pets. Our dogs are friendly; no need for you to leap off the sidewalk in terror when you see one coming. Cats are fed foods for finicky eaters that cost more than premium wild salmon, and stinks. We have pet outfits that match the owner's wardrobe, bakeries that serve only furry four footers, massage for the stressed pooch, and aquariums that are more colorful than the Australian Reef Barrier.

If you happen to come from a background that believes in come-back Karma, consider requesting to be placed in an American, pet-loving home. You will be spoiled more than any Queen of Sheba.

6. Cars are a sign of status, smugness, culture and your world view. Practical sedans are for the efficient go-getter. SUVs are reserved for the Soccer Moms/Dads. Hybrids are for those of us who want to be sure you know we care about the environment more than you do (just please don't mention the fact that I drive twice as much as I used to because I so rarely have to buy gas). Sports cars are for those who love speeding tickets, and being pulled over by the highway patrol. Luxury vehicles let everyone know the driver has made it big in America and wants to be sure you are aware of the fact.

7.  When someone asks how you are doing, they don't really want to know. The acceptable way to answer is, "fine", or "good". Then, if you are feeling extraordinarily cheerful, you can add, "and you?".

To test this one out, try saying this quickly as you walk away, "I have six weeks to live. Have a nice day." Be sure they can hear you and speak clearly. It is a rare person who actually reacts to your response.

Don't think we are being rude in not listening to your answer. We are simply following social norms.
Because, really, we are a rather friendly bunch.

8.  Alcohol is drunk by types:
Wine is the classy way to get plastered.
 Micro Beer is for the aficionado, the craft masters of knowledge, edgy tasters.
Regular beer is for the regular guy/gal, seen most often at BBQs and kiddie pinata birthday parties (I mean the parents are doing the drinking, not the kids, silly)
Hard alcohol is for hard people. Also rumored to be for those on a slow suicide march.
Mixed drinks are for friends, If you partake in a fruity drink alone, you border on the edge of madness.

Hope this guide to living in the U.S. was helpful. It may not have been included in your Welcome to America brochures. But it is needed if you don't want to be labeled as a Newbie Geek.

Heather Leigh,
Non-Newbie Geek

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Humboldt Grass Description

Had I the tech savvy knowledge of how to click a selfie and then post it onto this fabulous blog, you would be able to see the beautiful view of the farm beyond our backyard fence. As I have yet to reach this climax of human knowledge, you have to read about it instead. Sorry.

There is a great, green field of knee high grasses being blown about by a combination of gutsy wind and oodles of rain. The angle of the rain before it hits the ground is barely a few degrees short of being parallel to the horizontal land. Beyond the field are pastures of piglets, goats, cows, one bull, and three horses.

It is a feast for my eyes for which I am thankful.

If only everything in life were so simple to describe. Yesterday, my sons and I drove for five hours to make an appointment. Being that the ride was through the rain, winding mountain roads, and plenty of dips and rises, I had to actually pay attention as I drove. The nerve. AND, as if being forced from a warm, comfy bed were not enough intrusion on my life, we had to leave at six thirty in the morning!

But don't worry, Gentle Reader (direct and intentional steal from Ms. Manners herself), I got my revenge on that trickster called human life: I stayed in pajamas today wearing my Christmas bunny socks. Sleep-in, no housework, kind of day.

You may be thinking that I am meandering around, poking in non-related paragraphs. But, oh, no. The joke is on you, oh Doubtful One. Being of revengeful mind, I spent the day writing my newest book. As it is about a couple who are not of the Earth but are living here anyway, it is a revenge on practical thinkers.

What does that mean exactly? Well, I am not sure. What I am sure about, is that it has actually made me have to think. Scary, but true. I have to conjure up what life for non-humans in body-less form would be like. And, figure out a plot for them to follow on their life-time on earth.

AND, being my first novel for adults (I quiver at saying adult novel, as then you may think I mean a naughty novel, which is not what I am writing.), I have to talk as an adult in the dialogue. With different perspectives from each character. Make it funny, yet grounded. Understandable without telling the reader everything that is happening, like a documentary.

Whew. Makes me want to go back to describing my backyard view.

One last thing that is difficult to describe, is why I associate tree frogs with my dear aunt, who passed away last year. They are not something that we ever discussed. Yet, every time I encounter one now, I feel giggly inside; somehow their cute, fat, laughable body shape and thin, straight mouth makes me sense that she sent them to me from beyond, as a way to get me to chuckle.

Last night, puppy Morris alerted me to one hiding on the side of our kitchen floor. Together, we trapped it under a plastic container and then rushed it to the front yard. I wondered what it thought, going from linoleum floor, to plastic dish, to wet grass and rain. As I heard the chorus of frog croaking of which he is sure to join, I sent a smile of gratitude to my aunt. She always could get me to laugh out loud.

Today I described my backyard view, challenging new book, and an aunt-derived frog. Feels like Sesame Street learning for the Writer's Soul.

Any descriptions you want to try? Post them in the comments section, I would love to read what you have to share.

Want to hear a kid laugh like my aunt still does for me? Buy a book from my Scout and Ellie series, They are just plain funny:
Scout and Ellie

Heather Leigh,
Author With Serious Intentions to Describe