tax season spring! May is crammed with holidays, birthdays and weddings. Hint: Mother’s Day, which is bizarrely close to Cinco de Mayo when even white people drink tequila to celebrate something…um, regarding Mexico. I’ve been running a million miles an hour to prepare for DFWWWCon this weekend and after a week beating up the poor flashbacks, I figured it was time for something fun. And nothing lightens the mood like death :D.
I’ve recently hit 40, which means most of my mail consists of flyers for AARP, discounts on hearing aids and prepaid funerals. Yay. Nothing to make a woman still feel young and sexy like a prepaid FUNERAL.
My family is pretty strange when it comes to the subject of “death.” And not like anyone is, per se, “normal” about death, but my family takes weird clean OFF “The Munster Family Scale” and lands us somewhere into the domain of a cross between Rob Zombie and Monty Python.
“The Zombie-Python Scale”?
Likely, this laissez faire attitude stems from a number of primary causes (beyond the obvious answer “mental illness”). One? Occupational. Mom was a nurse and came from a medical/military family. Dad? All soldiers and farmers.
Yeah, talk about gallows humor.
The second factor? Genetic. I come from Vikings, and science has “proven” there is a genome embedded in our DNA that demands that, upon expiration, our bodies must be placed on a wooden ship in the middle of an All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet, then piled in gold, pushed out on the water and set on fire.
Fire, fire, heh heh. Heh heh. Fire.
Sadly, I have yet to find a local government official who will grant me a permit to be set afloat in my cousin Randy’s bass boat into Benbrook Lake then shot with leftover fireworks. Just kidding. Not about the permit, but the leftover fireworks part.
We’re TEXANS and there NO SUCH THING as “leftover fireworks.”
Anyway, when I was in the fifth grade, my teacher died, which really sucked, not just because my teacher died, but that it was the WRONG teacher. MY teacher, Mrs. Emmet, was awesome. The Demonic Embodiment of Science Education I had to spend an hour a day with, however, DID NOT die. I think it was because she was feasting slowly on the souls of fifth-grade children…
…and the guinea pigs near her desk that kept dying under strange circumstances (which were never fully investigated).
No, Demon Teacher lived, and is probably still alive today because she likely possesses a painting that ages in her stead. AWESOME Teacher is the one who had the heart attack (and DEMON Teacher looked strangely younger the next day).
But I digress…
The school, being confused and benevolent, brought in a grief counselor. Though, looking back, I think the grief counselor was the same dude wielding a leaf-blower earlier that school year. Grief Counselor told us to go home and discuss the subject of death with our parents then write a paper.
THANKS. Thank you for scarring me even further for LIFE.
So, I go home and ask my mom how she wants us to handle her passing on. Her answer? Taxidermy. She wanted to be made into something useful, like a lamp. She was even gracious enough to allow my brother and I to share her. I could take Creepy-Mom-Lamp for six months and brother could have her the other six months.
Yeah, right on that, Mom.
My Dad? He wanted to be cremated then his ashes strapped to a rocket and spread in space, an idea which everyone thought was sheer lunacy until Gene Roddenberry made it “cool.”
And I imagine the only reason CPS wasn’t called when I turned in my paper was because it WAS the 1980s. This was back in a time when it was permissible to banish your kids who wouldn’t stop running through KMart to go sit in a 110-degree station wagon and fight over a single Slurpee.
Fast-forward to 1999 and my father passes away. Since NASA and I weren’t exactly close and their security people already knew what I looked like, the rocket idea was out of the question. This meant Dad’s ashes went on a high shelf in my closet until I could make another plan. Then one day, years later, I’m all cleaning out my closet.
WTH is that blue box? I don’t remember putting that….*reaches and box falls*
OH HOLY HELL!
Yes, it was my father. In…my…shoes.
You CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP, PEOPLE!
I had to vacuum up my father, and he’s now laid to rest with cremated flip-slops, cat fur, dust bunnies one of my favorite earrings, and I hope that makes him happy after being a smart@$$ about that “being blown up in space” crap.
And it is now 2014 and Mom is still intent on the whole “taxidermy” idea, though I’ve informed her that I’m going to have her stuffed in the squatting position so she can water my front garden. Strangely, that threat hasn’t bothered her enough to deviate from Taxidermy Funeral Course.
I’m happy I’ve broken the Cycle of Weird, though. My husband is Clean-Cut-Boy-Scout-Air-Force-Military and he wants to be buried in a graveyard with a tombstone where we can go talk to him and bring flowers and chocolate offerings like NORMAL PEOPLE.
Me? I want to be cremated and made into a diamond so my son has a ready-made engagement ring for his beloved. How could a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law be ANY closer? THAT is family (and being frugal—Hey, “waste not, want, not”). It’s also a great excuse to gain some extra weight. A skinny dead mother-in-law is good for little more than a tacky nose ring, which might impress some young Waffle House waitress from the trailer park, but not a gal suitable for MY boy.
But a mom-in-law with some MEAT? I might make a nice 2 carat solitaire. Not large enough to catch a Kardashian gold-digger, but big enough to impress a young lady with more than a G.E.D.
So, yes, I want to be made into a diamond (princess cut, of course), but NOT before my consciousness is uploaded into a microchip and implanted in Hubby’s head…so I can keep annoying him for eternity.
You know, *rolls eyes* NORMAL :D.
Okay, yes maybe I’ve gone off the reservation with this post (not the first or last time), but the whole “made into a gemstone” idea seems better than taking up space in a grave…that is later claimed by imminent domain and then the city builds something super-depressing over you like a Baby Gap.
***This is why all Baby Gaps are haunted, btw. It’s “science.” Don’t argue***
Then there is the made into a tree thing, which is a close second choice, but in Texas? With OUR weather? That’s just DELAYED CREMATION.
What are your thoughts? Well, maybe you don’t want to share those, unless you have some cooler ideas. Not “cooler” ideas, though cryogenics holds promise *rubs chin contemplatively*.
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
I will announce April’s winner after waking from the conference coma early next week.
If you want more help with plot problems, antagonists, structure, beginnings, then I have a FANTASTIC class coming up to help you!
CLASS COMES WITH HANDOUTS AND FREE RECORDING.
Understanding the Antagonist
If you are struggling with plot or have a book that seems to be in the Never-Ending Hole of Chasing Your Tail or maybe you’d like to learn how to plot a series, I am also teaching my ever-popular Understanding the Antagonist Class on May 10th from NOON to 2:00 P.M. (A SATURDAY). This is a fabulous class for understanding all the different types of antagonists and how to use them to maintain and increase story tension.
Remember, a story is only as strong as its problem ;) . This is a GREAT class for streamlining a story and making it pitch-ready.
Additionally, why pay thousands for an editor or hundreds for a book doctor? This is a VERY affordable way to make sure your entire story is clear and interesting. Also, it will help you learn to plot far faster and cleaner in the future.
Again, use WANA10 for $10 off.
I’ll be running the First Five Pages again at the end of May, so stay tuned.
And, if you need help building a brand, social media platform, please check out my latest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.