Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 | Author:
Trust me, watching the finale will make you feel like the people in this picture.

Trust me, watching the finale will make you feel like the people in this picture.

When Wes and started watching season one of True Detective, Wes was surprised to find I was hooked. “What about this show interests you so much?” he asked me. It was, after all, a slow-moving story line, precisely the kind I’ve proved allergic to in the past. Shows like The Wire and Battlestar Gallactica, shows that most people love, bore me silly. To say Wes gets frustrated by my impatient taste is neither an understatement nor an overstatement. It is, simply, the truth.

Why, then, should True Detective be any different? I wasn’t even much of a Matthew McConaughey fan, and the story wends and weaves through twenty years of secrets and mysteries. Sounds like classic Erika eye-roll territory.

I decided then and there that what I want most in a show is the following:

Interesting people doing interesting things in an interesting way.

It must have those three components or I just can’t seem to sit still or engross myself in the story the way I want to. Season one of True Detective had all these in spades. I loved what they did with that story and the acting was perfection. I tuned into season two hoping for much of the same. I actually liked all the actors in season two, so I was optimistic that I’d enjoy season two as well.

No. Such. Luck.

I suppose I need to add a new component to my  list:

A cogent story line with an ending that justifies the story’s means.

There’s just a level of trust a viewer invests in a show’s writers. Trust that the long journey will be worth it in the end. Trust that the heartbreak and sacrifices made along the way will prove worth it. Trust that, even if we don’t get it in the beginning or even in the middle, that it will all make sense in the end and we will finish the last episode grateful to have hung in there.

Whoever was responsible for the story of season two violated that trust in every single way. I agree completely with the reviews that say the second season could have benefited from a room full of writers as opposed to just the one guy at the helm. I’d like to think a collaboration of writers might have saved it from itself.

Maybe not, though. I don’t know. All I know is that my list of qualifications for enjoying shows is getting longer and that’s a tad worrisome. Maybe I’ll just stick to reruns of Scrubs, The Office, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, House M.D., and Arrested Development...

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Category: Opinionated much?, Reviews  | Tags:  | Comments off
Thursday, July 16th, 2015 | Author:

Early on in our marriage, Wes and I didn’t really have to be apart very much. Barring three weeks apart when my dad passed away, we were pretty much always together. Now that Wes is this big-time important software genius, though, he’s in demand. He has to take trips a few times a year to facilitate the projects he’s working on, which means I’m left to hold down the fort alone.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am an exceedingly capable person. I can run a household efficiently, teach my children to read, and do it all with a perpetually clean kitchen. I’m awesome at my job.

The thing is, though, I’m maybe a little too efficient. If Wes isn’t here to insist I settle down and relax, I end up doing overly ambitious things like mopping the garage after the kids go to bed (long story), yard work well past the point when I should stop, or vacuuming the stairs when my post op knee should be elevated and iced after a long day.

I can't imagine why a massive earthquake would terrify me so much. This isn't horrifying AT ALL.

I can’t imagine why a massive earthquake would terrify me so much. This isn’t horrifying AT ALL.

Perhaps the best example of the beneficial way Wes affects me is what I am heretofore referring to as the Earthquake Freak-Out of 2015.

Perhaps you read this article earlier in the week? Paraphrased, it basically says the pacific northwest is due for a massive earthquake that will essentially liquefy the ground we stand on and result in a tsunami that destroys everything west of I-5. Infrastructure will collapse! No water or food or shelter! Run for the hills, we’re all going to die!

Now, I am an anxious sort of person anyway. After reading this, I did what any reasonable person would do: I called my best friend and freaked her out, too. But after I did that, I brooded and fretted and ran through various emergency scenarios in my head. I made plans. I rearranged my pantry so bottles wouldn’t come crashing down. I read survival guides.

What I did not do, however, was call Wes, because he was busy and couldn’t break away long enough to talk me down.

For two days I lived like this, always on the alert for the tell-tale dog freak-out that would herald The Really Big One. Thankfully, some earthquake experts on Reddit did an AMA that was comforting, and later that night Wes finally called me. We spent half an hour discussing our emergency plan and deciding on which supplies to keep on hand. We designated our emergency out of state contact. We discussed contingencies. We picked emergency kits.

But seriously, it took Wes half an hour to talk me down to a calm, non-panicked state. Two days is a long time to spiral out in larger and greater concentric spheres of worry, and there was no one here to help me parse my crazy for me. As I said, it’s not so much that I can’t function without Wes than that I function maybe a little too well without him. Brain going a million miles an hour with nary a safeguard in place.

On the plus side, in the event of an emergency we’ll be equipped to survive for a week. Our kids will have food, water, and first aid supplies. Wes and I will be able to coordinate even if we’re in different places when the disaster happens. Providing none of us suffers substantial injuries, we’ll all likely make it out in one piece. So I guess you could say, the Earthquake Freak-Out of 2015 wasn’t an altogether waste of time.

Something good came out of it, and I don’t just mean an excuse to reorganize my pantry!

Category: A Touch of the Crazy  | Tags: , ,  | Comments off
Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 | Author:

Carer and patient on crutches smlUp until May 21, 2015, I had no idea what life on crutches was like. Being possessed of a decent imagination, I could have offered some educated guesses about the various hardships and indignities of life a la crutch, but until two aluminum struts are your absolute best friends every hour of every day, you can’t really know.

That is, unless you read this post. After you read this post, you will have a true insider’s view of the crutch life. It’s the next best thing to being injured enough to need them, really.

  • The first thing you need to know about crutches is that they’re tricky to learn, especially if you’re high on painkillers while you’re trying to get to get the hang of them. You’ll probably fall a couple times. It’s really best to avoid being alone if you can help it.
  • Pants/shorts with pockets are now a necessity, if for no other reason than you’ll want your phone on you at all times in case you fall. True story: I tried to get a water bottle from the garage for myself, fell down while trying to go up the steps back into the house, and had to lay there on the garage floor yelling for Wes until he happened to walk close enough by the door to the garage to hear me. A cell phone in my pocket could have saved me a fair bit of indignity.
  • A wet wood floor is a hazard. A wet tile floor is basically a death sentence. If your crutch slips out from under you, you’re going down and, because the floor is wet, now you’re all wet too. Tiny steps are the only way to escape unscathed.
  • The palms of your hands will develop calluses and hurt all the time. The worst time is in the morning. The first crutch of the day hurts the worst.
  • You will also get burns on the side of your torso where the top of crutch rubs against you every time you walk. Fuzzy accouterments like Crutch Buddies can help, but you’re still going to feel the burn.
  •  Every able-bodied person in the world is doing their best to park closest to the door. Best get yourself a disabled parking pass ASAP or you’ll be doing a lot of resenting as you sweat and hobble to your destination past a sea of people who can all walk and yet are parked closer to the door than you are.
  • Let people be nice to you. Let them open the door for you. Let them help you bring your groceries to the car. It’s okay to need help, and it’ll make them feel good.
  • Grocery shopping on crutches is a nightmare and way more work than it’s worth. Riding those motorized carts around the store, however, is a hoot. I highly recommend it, especially if you have little kids who want to ride with you.
  • If you do happen to have little kids while you’re disabled, know this: They will steal your crutches while you’re sitting down. You will be stranded until they give your crutches back. They will think it’s hilarious.
  • This might not happen to you, but it sure did to me: Your thumbs will hurt horribly, as will your wrist and forearm. Even someone brushing up against my thumbs was enough to make me suck in my breath in pain. I wince just thinking about it!

All this sounds pretty great, right? It’s not. At all. The great part comes later, when one crutchless day you wake up and realize your palms don’t hurt, and neither do your thumbs. You look at your torso and realize there are no sore red burns there, and you can walk through a narrow doorway without inching through it because you no longer have crutches to either side of you.

I’m so SO glad to be on the other side of my crutch experience. Walking is still difficult and I get tired quite quickly, but man it feels good to be using my own two feet again. If you see someone out in the wild using crutches, remember this post and try to be extra nice to that poor soul. It ain’t easy out there for crutchers.

Category: Lifestyle  | Tags: ,  | Comments off
Wednesday, July 08th, 2015 | Author:

Wow. Almost three months between posts. I think that may just be my longest ever break from blogging. It feels weird.

So much has happened since April 20. I survived two weeks of solo parenting while Wes was away on business, my trusty laptop Optimus died right in the middle of writing something, I had surgery on my knee that morphed into something way more intense than I was planning on, I led a session for the PNWA (dream come true!), I saw the new Jurassic World movie, and I developed a deep, fervent hatred for the crutches that have been my more or less constant companions for the last seven weeks.

Where to even start?!

I miss my laptop. It’s really hard to be a blogger without a laptop. I stared at my phone many times, thinking I should really write something, but always talked myself out of it because iPhone screens are small and typing on one for any length of time is unpleasant and exceedingly avoidable.

As for surgery, I went in for meniscus tear removal and woke up to an overwhelming wall of pain that only went away after I smacked it down with a handful of pain pills. It turns out the cartilage on the bottom of my femur was scraped away to bare bone and my surgeon needed to drill some micro fractures there so I could grow new cartilage. It’s really quite upsetting to come out of surgery expecting to be off your feet for a few days only to find out you’ll be on crutches for at least six weeks.

As of tomorrow, I’m seven weeks post op and just today took my first un-assisted steps. My left leg has completely forgotten how to walk and, were it not for my ace physical therapists, I’m fairly certain I’d have a limp for the rest of my life. Lucky for me, my physical therapists are the bee’s knees AND the cat’s pajamas, which means my recovery has been smooth sailing so far.

Yes, I’ve fallen. A couple times. Stupid crutches. I tell you, though, crutches and Percocet do not mix. That’s a steep learning curve and it really hurts to fall off of it.

I’m getting there, though. My first steps went well and I have the feeling that I’ll be really solid on my feet by the time we leave for Cannon Beach next month. My goal is to walk on the beach. Pretty ambitious, huh?

For those of you who have noticed the long lapse between posts, I’m sorry. Recovery and running a family from the couch are somewhat time-consuming. I haven’t worked on anything writing-related (including promotion of the new book that just came out in April {oops}) since May and I miss it. I’m usually in New York City shmoozing with other thriller authors at ThrillerFest right about now and believe me, I’ve noticed that physical therapy and healing are not as fun as roaming Manhattan left to my own devices.

I’m on the right road, though, and am very nearly back to a life I recognize. In answer to the question in the title of this post, life is what happened to Erika Mitchell. The good news is, I survived it and live to write about another day. I’m back! I think. I hope.

Category: Lifestyle, Writing  | Tags: ,  | Comments off
Monday, April 20th, 2015 | Author:

It’s been a busy couple of days for me in blogger land! I had two guest posts go up on writing blogs within a day of each other. If you’re of a writer-ly bent and have some time to burn, head on over to Writer Unboxed to read my advice on handling awkward author situations, or click on over to Live Write Thrive to learn how to craft suspense in a novel. I’m really proud of how they both turned out, let me know what you think!

I was also interviewed on A.C. Fuller’s podcast Writer 2.0 last week (told you it’s been busy!) and the resulting episode is really fun. We cover all sorts of interesting topics like why my first book, PWNED, sucks, whether North Korea is a real threat, and a bonus conspiracy theory about beloved 30 Rock characters. Check it out, if only to hear how often (and loudly) I laugh.

It's okay if I touch you. I'm gonna tell the others later that our presence must be antiseptic, but I'm special and the rules don't apply to me.

“It’s okay if I touch you. I’m gonna tell the others later that our presence must be antiseptic, but I’m special and the rules don’t apply to me.”

In non-Erika-is-everywhere news, Wes and I watched The Lost World (a.k.a. Jurassic Park 2) and you know what? I remember that movie being a lot better. And making some sort of sense. Then again, I was a child when I saw it for the first time so that might explain the disconnect.

Seriously, though, unless a twelve year old wrote that script, how did that ever pass muster at a major studio? And for that matter, how did Crichton feel about them turning his awesome female lead character, Sarah Harding, into a self-righteous imbecile?

I mean, one minute she’s feeling up a baby Stegosaurus while she arrogantly assures Malcolm she’s been living around predators since she was twenty, the next minute she’s bringing a baby T-Rex back to their trailer and then acting all shocked when the baby’s parents come looking for it and beat the crap out of all of them. Afterward, she concludes that her actions changed the T-Rex’s perceived territory boundaries. Why didn’t she think of that before absconding with their baby? It’s okay, she had a lot on her mind, what with wearing a jacket stained with baby T-Rex blood through a jungle. It’s hard work making it that easy for vengeful two-story tall predators to find you so they can eat you.

I remember The Lost World being a solid, entertaining read. I even recall liking it better than Jurassic Park. Here’s hoping Jurassic World is able to live up to the legacy of mind-rupturing awesomeness set by its predecessor. I seriously still, to this day, get goosebumps listening to the Jurassic Park theme music. Amazing.

Save us, Chris Pratt. You’re our only hope!

Category: My Books, Reviews  | Tags: ,  | Comments off