I Promise You Won't Learn A Thing From This Blog

The official blog for author Ashley Chappell. Check back every week for a few laughs at my expense or, if you know the love-hate process that is writing, commiseration.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Life Beyond the Glare

I came across this entry in one of my favorite geek blogs: Kill Your Cable And Habit (Note: if you don't receive newsletters from Steven Savage you're missing out on some seriously good stuff). The first thing I wanted to do was cheer in the knowledge that YES there are others out there who have also said goodbye to television programming dependency.

Hi. My name is Ashley. I haven't had a drop of cable TV since spring of 2006.

Do I feel tempted now? I used to in the early days, the cold turkey days where it felt like all I needed to make my stressful day better was one hit of 'Modern Marvels", or one of the variously syndicated versions of "Law and Order." But in those days, one hit - even one of the TBS re-runs - would have been one too many.

That blasted TV, that beacon of passive entertainment, was the siren to my Argo. It didn't matter what was on - if it was a hemorrhoid commercial you'd still find me sitting in front of the flickering glare completely mesmerized for the 15 seconds until something else came on. My hobbies suffered, my social life (such as it was) suffered, and my house cleaning habits were non-existent. Who can think about spring cleaning when "Gray's Anatomy" is on???
Yes, this was me.
Zombies are cool.

Since the day I took the plunge from Mt. Comcast things have changed dramatically for me. For one, I became more disciplined in my writing and completed 3 novels, the most recent of which landed a publishing contract for me. I took up new hobbies in climbing and sailing and even took a few art classes that were a great investment of time. And while I can't say that my housekeeping skills have improved, I CAN say that I've helped build a cedar fence, installed floors, and learned carpentry and trim work among other things.

Now I won't say that there aren't still shows that I dearly love - "Big Bang Theory" and "The Walking Dead" being two biggies on that list. But these are all available online, as are full seasons of other things that I love such as the various "Stargate" series and Battlestar Galactica. They're available online, on demand, and on MY schedule without annoying commercials. The last time I tried to actually catch one during its original airing I felt completely ADD by the end of the flickering commercials all trying to vie for my attention.

Never again. With options out there like Netflix and Hulu, who needs the digital version of crack to derail the bigger life that I want to lead? Not this girl, never again.

Hi. My name is Ashley. I haven't had a drop of cable TV since spring of 2006 and I'm here to say: Yes, there IS life beyond the glare.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Contracts and Postal Subversion

Heartbreak! Angst! And Gnashing of the Teeth! *Pause for dramatic collapse into strategically placed divan*

I'm fine, thanks for asking, but FedEx has just found itself off my Christmas list permanently, as will all evil-doers who get my hopes up only to dash them against the rocks. I suppose a little background is in order here..

To start with - my lifelong dream began coming true this week when I accepted an offer from a publisher for my first book deal. Oh yes, squeals of joy abounded and still are. See my Facebook announcement here for the squee. Since agreeing to terms I've been anxiously awaiting the contracts in the mail all week (actually, since the moment I hit 'Send' in the email back to the publisher in evident denial that snail mail doesn't work like email). So imagine my excitement when I get home from work last night to find a FedEx sticky on my door from a delivery attempt. I did a quick little tap dance in what was probably my 413th celebration this week.

The sticky said I was required to be there and present photo ID to receive the package, so I decided to take a couple hours of my much treasured and minimal personal leave from work and wait for it this morning.

Picture me here: The clock is ticking so slowly; the cats are fighting for the warmest spot on my lap; I'm trying to read while checking the time over, and over, and over, and over.... And then the door bell rings, causing me to launch two cats and one book into semi-ballistic orbit as I leap from the couch to get my hands on what I just know has to be the contract and thereby the gateway through which my dreams come true.

Now picture me here: The clock has now frozen and I'm standing in front of a slightly nervous FedEx guy as I hold the parcel I nearly ripped out of his hands in excitement. The only thing I see, however, is the name on the package.

Not. My. Frackin'. Name.

FedEx had the wrong house with the wrong addressee and it just happened to coincide with the time that I was expecting one of the most important packages of my life, which, in hindsight, will probably arrive via standard mail while I'm gone and without fanfare because hey, that's how real life actually goes.

So for now I'm back to obsessively checking the mailbox and putting those happy feet on hold...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"The Little Mermaid" and Other Evil Deeds of the Disney Empire

Steven and I watched “The Little Mermaid” this past week in a moment of nostalgia. The last time I watched this movie was through roughly 16 year-old eyes, but this time around I realized something that I never would have caught onto in the flower of youth: This movie might be single-handedly responsible for the misery of my generation.

Ok, gross dramatics aside, I do still love this movie in spite of its inherently evil nature. I admit it freely and I’m even STILL walking around belting “Part of Your World” at the top of my lungs (much to the dismay of anyone in earshot). I dare anyone to watch this movie and try to keep the tunes from taking root in that spot in your subconscious just between the brain and the vocal chords. It can’t be done.
So where does the evil come in, you ask?

 “The Little Mermaid” premiered in 1989 when my generation was around the 8-12 year-old mark; in other words, the age of spongehood when we soak up every little input around us and hardwire it into our emerging picture of “The World and How Things Work.” Now let’s take a look at some of the lessons we would have taken from this legacy of Disney and see why things probably didn’t work out quite right for us in the long run.

1.      Fathers always favor the prettiest daughter and give her everything she wants. That’s a recipe for some violent sibling rivalry, alright.
2.      Hotness is the primary requirement for marriage. Not a new misconception, but for some reason it’s easier to believe Disney about love than it is to accept the fact that the sky-rocketing divorce rate just knocked Cupid out of orbit.
3.      Money, especially title and/or royalty, is the secondary requirement. I think we all know how this one works...
4.      See that hot 16 year-old that you know nothing about? You should make out with her. For proof, see soundtrack for “Kiss the Girl.”
5.   Only the beautiful people get to fall in love and be happy. Seriously? When I think of some of the 'beautiful' people I've known I'm pretty sure their happiest relationship is the one they have with the mirror.

Now, with this in mind, take a look at the romantic history of all of us Generation Y-ers. You’re nodding your head with empathetic understanding now, aren’t you?  I have to wonder... Did Disney intend to litter our lives with broken hearts, false hopes, and completely skewed concepts of what a successful relationship really entails? Unless the magical corporation was investing in tissue and ice cream ventures all along, well, probably not.