A Lesson from Magnum, P.I.

The Daily Life Text

MagnumPI_TSHere are the things I like about Thomas Sullivan Magnum, Private Investigator.

I like the ineffable cheer with which he greets everyone from a set of prickly guard dogs to a bunch of street thugs: “Hi, guys!”

I like that he doesn’t mind wearing the same shirts over and over–he’s been wearing the same King Kamehameha tank top for five seasons running now, or that nasty Army-green tank top, or one of what seems to be the same five Hawaiian shirts.

I like that he surf-skis, and doesn’t always compete to win.

I like that he talks to us.

I like that he’s writing a book.

I like that he puts friendship above a lot.

I like that he eats popcorn for dinner.

But of all these things, I love the most the fact that he drops literary references just often enough for us to be reminded that he is, after all, a smart, well-read little dooby.

Magnum as Dashiell! Two favorites in one! It’s like the Reese’s peanut butter cups of television shows!

Off the top of my head, Magnum has quoted Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, and Agatha Christie; and he dressed up as one of my favorites, Dashiell Hammett, for a 1920s party one episode.

This, like so many other things, reminds me of what I like about most of my friends. I can like a lot about each of them, but it’s almost always the idea that there is something unusual about each of them that makes them stick out in my head as individuals.

Larry has a bizarre obsession with Lonesome Dove. Alan loves to cross-country ski. Mr. Gooddirt has a really strange obsession with death metal. Aileen adores dogs, and, like me, makes up voices for animals; and Bill, although a buttoned-up , three-piece-suit-wearing entrepreneur on the outside, is internally driven to pursue waves and slopes whenever he can.

This is also what I like most about my work colleagues, and networking. What a joy, to find out something unusual about someone you only know through work!

Sure, these things may lead to friendship. But they don’t have to. Often, it’s enough just to know something interesting about the folks that  populate your life. After all, if you don’t think your personal life, or your personality, affects the business decisions you make, or your work methodology, you’re missing out on a key part of life.

What’s one thing that people don’t usually know about you? Tell me in the comments below. I’ll go first: I also make up voices for inanimate objects. Right now, at this very moment, my houseplants are talking to me. 😀

I Got Bette Davis Eyes, or How I Learned to Love Fake Eyelashes

The Daily Life Text

This could easily be considered an extension of my last post, about things you’d only ever do on a family vacation.

I thought this deserved its own post.

Guys, I got Fake Eyelashes. Like, not the goofy panty-waist paper ones that you glue on by yourself, but the fine-haired mink-fur-or-whatever ones that get glued on, eyelash by excruciating eyelash, to your own eyelashes. The whole process took two hours, a little bit over. The glue made my eyes water. One of the eyelashes got glued on funny and it poked me everytime I squeezed my eyes shut tight. I wasn’t supposed to rinse my face with water for five days; I had to pat it clean and dry, avoiding my eyes.

I did it with a best cousin sitting by my side (her treat) and a cat sitting on my lap, because apparently salons in Taiwan allow kitties. See?


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Idioms in Real Life

The Daily Life Text

That time when I slept like a dog


Except, I was in bed. And wearing pajamas. Woke up with a terrible crick in my neck. Gah.

My friend who is a rocket scientist

In fact, I know TWO people who are rocket scientists, but only one can reasonably be called a friend. The other one was a scientist on a nuclear submarine. The friend dismantled bombs for the Ministry of Defense in the UK. As a bonus, she is also…

My friend who watched paint dry for a living

Seriously. She worked for a paint manufacturer, natch, and it was her job to touch the stuff every once in a while to see how long it took to get really dry. As a reward for having the most boring job on the planet, she occasionally got to stand at great heights and throw stuff like nuts, bolts, and nails down at freshly painted (dry) cars to test chip resistance.

That time I had ants in my pants

I stood too close to a pile of dog food on the ground, under a dry overhang on a rainy day. It was in this house:

Taiwanetc 013

(Well, that’s the front gate, anyway, which is where the dogs sleep at night and where they get their kibble, too, just in front of the left-most door in the photo.)

All i was doing was saying hello to the dog after a night out with cousins. They were fire ants. Briefly afterwards there was a scene in which I ran down the great hall, trying to, what, outrun the ANTS IN MY PANTS? And my aunt swatting at my butt with a rag and yelling, “Take off your pants! Take off your pants!” and me finally taking off my  pants and standing there while both my aunt and Mr. Gooddirt swatted at my rear.

It was…yeah.


That time I compared apples to oranges

It’s true, they really are different, but they’re both fruit. Which is like, okay, not really ideal if you’re trying to say two things are completely different. My friend Mindy and I tried to get the twittersphere to come up with something different using the hashtag #applesto, but the results were meh. (I am still taking ideas, but the best so far has been “apples to wristwatches,” I think, although “apples to gaming die” is pretty strong.

What are your favorite idioms? Ever see an idiom in real life? Tell me.


A User’s Guide to Post-Residency*

The Daily Life Text

*Or, any intense period of Doing the Things You Love to Do Most.

1. Upon landing at home airport, immediately feel lost and bereft due to one of the three following reasons:

a. Am no longer scheduled to the eyeballs and therefore have no idea where to go.

b. Am too used to having only two places to go (home, school) and am therefore boggled by many choices (BAGGAGE CLAIM? GROUND TRANSPORT? BATHROOM? WATER FOUNTAIN? SNACK STAND???)

c. Am ridiculously hungry due to morning spent mooning around friend’s apartment, wondering where other friends are and then realizing they are nowhere near because residency is over.

2. In automobile home from airport, sulk because spousal unit is not a writer and therefore must be terrible company. Anyway, spousal unit is in midst of annoying in-car-speaker-abled conference call and cannot hear you talk anyway. Put hands over ears.

3. Upon arrival at home, spread baggage all over kitchen. Refuse to clean up. Sprawl on couch, morose. Remove brassiere without taking off shirt because cannot be arsed with anything. Pull blanket over self; stare at ceiling.

4. Remember have tons of lavender souvenirs in suitcase and therefore suitcase must smell like Whidbey Island. Open suitcase. Ignore spousal unit’s cry of joy that you are actually doing laundry so soon after arrival. Root through all clothing until find all lavender souvenirs. Leave mess. Bury face in lavender things.

5. Eat egg salad for dinner.

6. Remember that have not watched TV in 10 days. Therefore am clearly in need of 6-hour marathon of Inspector Lynley reruns. (Based on Whidbey-Island-based novelist Elizabeth George‘s mystery series!)

7. Run out of Inspector Lynley reruns.

8. Eat egg salad for breakfast.

9. Check facebook, Twitter madly for news of Whidbey MFA friends. Remember newly-downloaded Instagram. Check that, too.


10. Set up computer at kitchen bar because cannot stand sight of office.

11. Scribble in awesome new diary from friend.

12. Feel better.

13. Peek at deadlines. Feel immediately worse.

14. Get hiccups. Postpone conference call by three minutes due to hiccups. Hiccup through conference call.

15. Peek into office. See souvenirs from graduation, letters from friends, last Sunday’s NYT magazine.

16. Feel better. Answer e-mails.

17. Clear wall for scenes from needs-dusting-off novel.

18. Send query letters.

19. Put away suitcase. Do laundry. Imagine spousal unit’s joy.

20. Feel better.



Verbagram, the Grilled Cheese Edition: A Tall Tale*

The Daily Life Text

Verbagram: (n.) A thingamajibber in which I make up for my crap food photography by telling you a story about the food in question.

A few months ago, this happened:

Don’t quite understand it?
It’s okay. It has taken me lo! all these months to process it myself.
Here is what happened.
We went to our local brewery for the first of their Food Truck Fridays, which is, yes, when food truck arrives at brewery. The truck that week was the Grilled Cheese Truck. It was late getting there and late setting up, which is why Mr. Gooddirt had something like two and a half strong beers before he got into line.
Presumably the ABV contributed to some kind of food-related myopia, because when he delivered our food to the table he dropped off two normal grilled cheese sandwiches, one for me, and one for my friend, and an order of tater tots, and then he weaved a little and said, “Be Right Back,” and then he came back with another two handfuls of grilled cheese.
Well. I thought it was two handfuls of grilled cheese. Basically it was two grilled cheese sandwiches, each stuffed with mac and cheese, and slapped together. The whole thing was glued together by another layer of mac and cheese and more pulled pork.
The woman who is sitting next to Mr. Gooddirt is most likely laughing because she can’t believe he is trying to explain the thing to her and eat it all at the same time.
Also, it arrived in two containers and weighed about as much as a brick.
The next morning Mr. Gooddirt smelled like bacon and could not roll over onto his belly.
True story.
*Not really very tall. In fact, just normal height.

The Name Game

The Daily Life Text

Mr. Gooddirt is incredibly good at nicknames. He comes up with them on the fly, and they’re always accurate and evocative and appropriate to the situation. There’s no profession for this, I don’t think, otherwise we’d be living large.

He comes up with the best ones when he’s half-awake.

A few examples:
The other night I went to the bathroom and bumped into the laundry rack on the way back. It made a metallic rattling noise, and I, an angry whimper. From the bed:
“What’s happening over there, Jinglebanger?”

When Sprocket is feeling happy, he trots just ahead of Jim and me and looks backwards, over his shoulder, at us, while he’s walking. The combination of movement and situation makes for a funny walk.
Mr. Gooddirt: “Well, hello there, Wobbles.”


Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night feeling very displaced. The automatic reaction is to reach for my phone or my ipad and find out what time it is. I duck over the side of the bed and turn it on so the LCD doesn’t disturb the light-sleeping Mr. Gooddirt. This is usually a totally failure, because he snorts awake and says something like:
“Whatcha doing, Glow worm?”

I cannot figure out how he does this. It seems to be some kind of formula:

Noise or action

Try as I might, I can’t reproduce his results. Gah.

NB: This is on my mind lately because my next work, I think, is a resurrection of the MG novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo a while back. There are talking animals. I would like some of them to be well named.
These are the things which addle my brain.