Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joshilyn Jackson: The Upsidedown Unthankful Meme

IMMEDIATE pre-blog digression: I say this entry is PG-13 because it contains a word that rhymes with...well. Nothing. Unless pesticles is a word? I didn't think so. ANYWAY, you have been warned: Pesticles ahead! Maiden aunties and grade school children, get thee hence!

Because it is almost Thanksgiving, the memes of the day are tempting me to hurriedly say three things I am thankful for and then bounce off to Alabama to begin a three day slavering bacchanalia that centers around my deep, deep, deep gratitude for nut pies and savory roasted meats. I have bad priorities, tra la.

I could quite hurriedly say, for example, that I am thankful for my family, because, Lord knows, I AM. I could say, I am thankful for digressions, because without them, I would not have a blog. And I could say, as a person who woke up jonesing hard for Ghirardelli, that I am deeply, burpingly, satiatedly thankful for the ziplock bag full of freezer burned dark chocolate chip cherry oatmeal cookie dough I magically found while rooting lunchlessly around the six bags of Jolly Green Giant testicle corn* that have built up in my freezer.

*To digress again (thankful!) rather than save the asterisk for the end and risk forgetting I put it there, I should explain that testicle corn is actually a just a regular bag of frozen corn kernels. I THINK of it as testicle corn because it is the same kind of corn, brand and bag size, that a woman at Publix was buying a couple of years ago so that her husband, who had just had a vasectomy, could press the cold veg to his, er, meat and two veg. Making him technically have meat and THREE veg, but who is counting? NOT. ME.

But I do and I do because the woman was loud, and on a cell phone, and had forgotten she was in public, and I am an enthusiastic and meticulous grocery store eavesdropper. (You should be careful what you say on the phone in the grocery. If I do not hear you and shamelessly steal it and put it directly into a novel, someone else will.)

The woman was saying to her friend, “Do you think he could put a bag of CORN on his testicles? The doctor said to buy him bags of frozen PEAS, but the peas are expensive and this CORN is on sale.” There was a pause where the other person talked---and truthfully, I would pay ONE HUNDRED FOLDY GREEN AMERICAN DOLLARS to know EXACTLY what the person said, because the woman listened very carefully and then said, quite earnestly, “No, it isn’t buttered.” <---TRUE STORY.

But everyone is going to do that meme. And then they shall ask YOU to say in the comments what YOU are thankful for, and you will say your family or your dog or your good friend (because, LORD knows, you are thankful for them) but that is EASY because your family, your dog, or your good friend are lovely things. What’s not to be thankful for?

Let’s you and I INSTEAD find one of our niggling little flesh thorns, the grating things that rub away at our tender nerve casings day by grinding day, and let’s find something to be thankful for in these …challenges. Can I say challenges without sounding like the perky comb-over dude who runs those corporate bonding weekends where you have to hold a spirit stick and cry at least twice? No? So be it.
CHALLENGES, I say, shamelessly.

I am going to look at a fly in my soup and call it protein. Or, perhaps I am going to look at the fly in my ointment and assume he is like the royal supper-taster of yore, helpfully making sure the ointment is safe for human topical application. Although I think the fly in that expression is actually dead, right? So perhaps I shall be thankful that he died in the ointment and can’t GET in my soup? Because I would rather topically apply a dead-fly-tainted ointment than eat a dead-fly-tainted soup, even if it was something really great, like crab and corn chowder.

Anyway, point is, we are getting jiggy with the THANKFULNESS MEME, and we are looking at something that drives us batcrap and trying to find a way in which we are Thankful for it.

Mine is Insomnia. My hideous insomnia has taken on a new form, in which I go right to sleep, but then wake up for at least fifteen minutes out of every hour. It sucks, but some good came out of it recently, and I am thankful for it. She said with gritted teeth. THANKFULTHANKFULTHANKFUL.

The good was because of this OTHER thing that makes me batcrap:

It looks NICE, doesn’t it? Lying in the dappling sunlight, dandling its lamb-like feet? HA, I say. It’s awful. I like most cats beyond all reason, but I do not like this thing you see pictured. This is mostly because if I try to TOUCH him, touch him in ANY way, even glancingly in passing, he rears back and gives me a PERFECT Charlton Heston “Get your paws off me, you damned dirty ape,” look.

He also will not play with me. He likes to take his furry mouse off alone and play. If I pull a string for him, he looks at me like he thinks I am demented. It’s quite patronizing. If he sees me WATCHING him play with his furry mouse, he stops, lest I suck some scant, vicarious pleasure from his solitary gambolings. I have courted him and courted him, courted with treats and love and kind voiced approbation, all fruitlessly, and after a SOLID YEAR of him not liking me I started to genuinely just NOT LIKE HIM BACK.

And yet he is in my house. Eating kibble I buy and racking up vet bills and shredding my furniture. Indoor cat life being what it is, I am obligated to support this little yellow jerk for a at least a decade, maybe two. So, since he is my responsibility until death takes him, I have been trying to find something to like about him, ANYTHING, really, because SURELY he cannot be a purely AWFUL little cat in all ways, right? RIGHT? RIGHT???

And then, THANKS TO MY NEW FORM OF WILDLY IRRITATING AND EXHAUSTING INSOMNIA, I found out that Boggart actually does like me. Secretly.

Boggart is a secret snuggler.

He waits until I am dead out, which with the old form of insomnia would have been about two am or so. When I am dead to the world, he CREEEEEEPS into my room on his insidious pink-padded feet, and he cuddles up as close as he can get to me, and there he stays, all night.

I have found him there every time I have woken up, limply and blissfully tucked into my neck or armpit or the bend of my knee. If I stir or move at ALL, he leaps away and hides and pretends it never happened. But then if I am very still, and feign snoring, he comes creeping back to press himself up against me and make sly biscuits and PURR. He STEALTH purrs, under his breath, and marks me with his scent glands by face rubbing. Insomnia sucks, but I feel much more warmly toward Boggart now that I know he is a secret snuggler…

SO what’s yours? What thorn can you find a reason to be thankful for this season? I really want to know. Put yours up in the comments here or on FTK, or blog it meme-style and link in the comments here or on FTK? Over-sharing inquirers (read: me) want to know.

(OH! LASTLY, because it is Thanksgiving and because Roxanne asked, I am linking you to the beautiful and bigger-butt inducing recipe for Pure Irish Love, also known as Fat Potato Fat Fat.

To your mouth, I say, “You’re welcome!” and a handwritten sympathy note to your arteries is in the mail. With that check. Yeah.)

Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson lives in Powder Springs, Georgia with her husband, their two kids, a hound dog, a scurrilous Boggart-thing, three aging gerbils, and a twenty-two pound, one-eyed Main Coon cat named Franz Schubert. She wishes their neighborhood was zoned for goats. Both her SIBA award winning first novel, gods in Alabama, and her Georgia Author of the Year Award winning second novel, Between, Georgia, were chosen as the #1 BookSense picks for the month of their release, making Jackson the first author in BookSense history to have Number 1 picks in consecutive years. Her latest, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, is now in bookstores!


Jess said...

LOL I love this post. And Schubert, a secret snuggler?! I never would have thought. My friends have a cat that looks (and acts) just like a gray version of him.

Let's see. I am thankful for my recent ER visit and asthma flare-up. Without which I would still be over-stressing myself out and being high-strung and crazy instead of forcing myself to calm down, re-assess, and find joy every day on the train even when I am sitting next to a chain smoker and trying to hold my breath for forty minutes. So, yes! ER visit, good!

RuthWells said...

I lost it at "No, it isn't buttered."

I am thankful for people who are so stupid they make us laugh at them.

I am also thankful for the pointy-pokey torture of acupuncture, because it makes my back feel so much better.

Kalynne Pudner said...

I have so much twisted unthankfulness that it wouldn't fit in the comment box. So it's on my blog:

THO said...

(third try here. Maybe I'm meant to be meme-free? Maybe I'm not thankful enough??? Huh.)

As Melvin in As Good As It Gets says, "I *hate* pills, very dangerous thing, pills. Hate. I'm using the word "hate" here, about pills. Hate."

I am thankful for St John's Wort (pills), phytoestrogen (pills), vitamins B, C, E, and the rest of the alphabet (giant horse pills), plus all the supplements like echinacea (pills), zinc (pills), and EFAs (pills) because, while the make me gag and belch vitamin fumes all day, they do make me more human, easier to live with, and relatively healthier.

Roxanne said...

Oh, man, I had not even quit laughing from the non-buttered testicle corn (and I am forever grateful to the loud woman who didn't know you were listening to her pricey peas vs. cheap corn phone call for inadvertently giving us that story, sweet mercy!!!) when I found that after all of those weeks of Boggart nursing your earlobes, then entering a dismal period of feline puberty, he does, indeed, still love you.

And thanks for the Fat Potato Fat Fat shout-out. . .truly, it's become part of the holiday.

Rene said...

I am truly grateful that, before Thanksgiving at grandma's, my 6 year old finally lost her front tooth that was hanging in a "snagletooth" sort of way. I don't enjoy the toothless look but it sure beats the single hanging front tooth look!

Anonymous said...

I am thankful for my 16 year old son. He is very busy breaking rules, testing my patience, and avoiding homework. Playing video games, watching cartoons and napping on the couch alternate with arguments, and threats to run away. He is eating Thanksgiving at a friends house, so he doesn't have to eat with me.

But you know, I would not be 16 again for all the money in the world. It was awful as I recall. He still comes home, still talks to me, still makes me laugh, and even though he hates it, he follows most of my rules, most of the time.

My darling boy, I am so grateful for you, and I hope you know that all I do, I do for love so that you will grow up to be healthy and strong and have choices to achieve what I know to be your tremendous potential.

And I am grateful for a place to say this, even though you'll never know it was me.

zobabe said...

OK, holy cow. I needed that laugh. THANK YOU, genuinely. As for my "challenge," I broke my jaw eating a piece of caramel (yeah, I know, wth?). Why am I grateful for that? It keeps me from eating solid food, like, say, Taco Bell steak soft tacos. Even mac and cheese hurts like heck. And while today of ALL days is a miserable time to have to drink protein shakes instead of eating turkey and green bean casserole, it could be worse. And if I lose a pound or two as a result, yay! Broken jaw=bad, forced liquid diet=good. Heh.

C~ said...

Whoa. So many things to comment on...first, a three day slavering bacchanalia... I had to ask someone what a bacchanalia was. LOL Thank goodness I got tra la.

You should be careful what you say on the phone in the grocery. If I do not hear you and shamelessly steal it and put it directly into a novel... Or on a shirt. I cannot help the eavesdropping...people really do talk so loud. My store is riddled with stuff that has spewed from someones mouth when they cluelessly had coffee, dinner or a conversation within 10 feet of me. I. CANNOT. HELP. IT. Example one: http://www.cafepress.com/cyndisstuff/2127859 Example two: http://www.cafepress.com/cyndisstuff/6132386

And, yum. I am so down with the crab and corn chowder...but no flies for me, thanks. Ew.

My cat was so annoyed at me for kidnapping him [he was a rescue] from his other mama [who could not handle him and 6 other cats] that I was sure he was planning to wait until I fell asleep and rolled over, so he could bite through my spinal cord at the back of my skull and then eviscerate me. If you don't believe me, look: http://www.flickr.com/photos/write2b/444016172/in/set-72157600123701417/ He? HATED ME. Somehow, he realized I was the one that fed him and cleaned his box, etc and was smart enough to figure out I was OK. One day he jumped up on my desk, strolled over to me and smashed his forehead into mine. Ow. I found out from Zoe that it was not his first outward attempt to render me unconscious to exact his vengeance...but instead, a sign of affection. Hmmm. Now? He is lounged very much like your lil punkin', behind me in my recliner as I type. This was after we moved to TX: http://www.flickr.com/photos/write2b/2096022977/in/set-72157603407464240/ So. While he can be a PITA when he wants to sleep rightnexttomyface or talk to me every minute of the day...I am so grateful that he loves me...unconditionally and completely. He's my sweetheart. Sad, but true.

Susan Cushman said...

My "thorn" has to be the juxtoposition of the joy of last weekend in Fairhope, Alabama (Southern Writers Reading--missed you, Joshilyn!)over and against my 80-year-old mother's hip surgery in Jackson, Mississippi on Tuesday, and the ravages of anesthesia upon her Alzheimer's-ridden mind. I'm thankful for my many, many, many safe trips between Memphis and Jackson and the Gulf Coast. Read more about it all here: http://wwwpenandpalette-susancushman.blogspot.com/. Great post, Joshilyn. Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Jo said...

BTW- Fat Potato Fat Fat works with leftover mashed potatoes too. I made my husband peel extra so we could make it the day after.

River Jordan said...


Nobody blogs like you in the whole world. And I feel for you with the insomnia. I remember days of being a teenager and sleeping sound till noon.

Happy Thanksgiving and Thank God for creating corn!


Anonymous said...

I'm sure glad I'm not married to you.

Rebecca said...

I am most definitely thankful for crazy southern authors whom make me laugh so hard I have to hang on to the wall to catch my breath. And for my wonderful friends who get me to read books that I might otherwise have stuck my nose up at when I passed them by at the bookstore. Okay, there have been a FEW I could have done without like (insert whatever title you please, mine was "The Bitch Posse"), but for the most, I've enjoyed and, yes, even grown, from reading them.

Kudos on that "Library Journal" review of the new book. I can't wait!

Rikki said...

I tried to leave a quick comment, but ... no. I am going to have to blog about this - my brain is way to whirly!

alala said...

HA! Boggart is a teenaged boy! He totally is! Let's hope he outgrows this phase.

Um, I know why it matters that the corn isn't buttered: the peas or small-frozen-things-in-a-bag need to be able to change shape to fit the area-to-be-frozen, and buttered frozen corn is too clumpy. And, I hasten to add, I know this because long ago I was a DANCER and I frequently had ANKLE sprains and such. NOTHING to do with testicles, honest.

And I guess, in a thorny way, that I am glad I didn't pursue the career in dance, even though I miss it every day. My ankles are certainly grateful.

femtastic said...

I know I'm way too late, but honestly I had to have the holiday to find the right challenge for which to give thanks. But it's there now for anyone still at the party. Thanks! (grin)


dirtman said...

Yep, this is right down my alley. I can tell life is good at your place!