April 2008

April 29th – I am winding up my online screenwriting course.  The group has whittled down a bit…perhaps life, jobs, family and having to actually study, read, watch movies and do work  was a deterrent for many of the students who thought the screenwriting course “sounded cool” since they always loved “Red Dawn.” 


Not for me…I managed to complete each and every assignment.  Never, ever, ever on time, of course, but I did complete them.  So it was interesting when I received a class announcement from the professor that all writing assignments had been graded and returned. Mmmm…not mine.  So I emailed the prof (and panicked), called the prof (and panicked), emailed the prof again (and panicked) and finally called the main office to get in panicked touch with him.  The student who answered the phone (who was clearly on a work-study program and couldn’t be less bothered) suggested that the prof didn’t check in at the office much and perhaps I should swing my and post a note on his door. 


“Well, that would be a bit of challenge, you  see. I don’t live in Chapel Hill.  I live in Charlotte.”


“Wow, why would you do that?” asked work-study student/receptionist extraordinaire.


“Well, I ask myself that a lot.  But since my house, family, husband, kids, job and LIFE are all I Charlotte, I figured it was a good thing to stick around here, you know? Is there any other way to get in touch with Prof?”


“Hmmmm, not really. Good luck!” Click. 


I am still in a panic, wondering if carving out time to watch “Terms of Endearment,” “Chinatown,” “The Killing”  and a Lifetime made-for-television movie was all for naught.  Stay tuned.


April 29th — Today was a banner day.  My face and sex life was plastered all over my local newspaper.   Of course, this is good news.   Once you write a book, one’s goal should be to sell the book.  And publicity about the book is a good thing.  But it was still nerve wracking.  What if the article is a bust?  What if the picture makes me look, well, sturdy?  What if no one…gasps…notices that an article was written about the book I just wrote?  Well, obviously someone read the article because I received my first nasty email.  I was equal parts horrified and intrigued.  Someone was upset enough to send me an email telling me off.  From what I could deduce it was an old fogey who was offended by the front-page placement of my article, the idea I would EVER talk about sex with my husband, how incredibly inappropriate the topic is and how she won’t spend a wooden nickel on such a book. I mean who ever uses the words “wooden nickel” anyway?  She was P-O’ed. 


Contrast this with the other old non-fogey person in my life, my 92-year old grandmother who, when shown the article today by my mom who was visiting her in the nursing home, called me right away. 


“Charla?  Charla! I have a famous granddaughter and a famous brother. If that don’t beat all!  I’m proud of you, girl, and I will be till the day I die.”  (NOTE:  You might think that day is not far off, but I assure you it  is far, far off.  She’s wheeling over to Winston Salem tomorrow to bury her younger brother.)


“Thanks, Ma. That means a lot.  How are you doing?”


“I’m doing good. I’m doing good. You know, we all can’t stay the same.  Some of us have to get old.”


Well, never has a truth been better told.  We can’t all stay the same and some of us, indeed, have to get old. So I would tell the meanie of my first rather nasty email that we can’t all stay the same, to quote my 92-year-old grandmother.  Some of us have to mix it up, and sometimes that means doing the deed daily and writing a book about it. So lighten up.  It’s a funny book. 





April 10th – On Thursday nights in Delray Beach, Fla., you can head to Ellwood’s Garage and Bar for warm beer, great burgers and the greatest Elvis impersonator on the planet. This guy comes out in the white bodysuit from Aloha Elvis and sings Elvis tunes (which are really everyone else’s tunes, as Elvis didn’t record much original music) to a standing room for AN HOUR!  Actually, it’s an outdoor corner bar and people are lined up on the street four people thick to get a peek at Elvis. And an hour is a really long time if you don’t love Elvis. Fortunately, everyone at Ellwood’s – aged seven to ninety five – loves Elvis.   Including my kids, who didn’t really know they loved Elvis until it was over and they asked if they could stay for the 9:00 show.  The Elvis in Delray has this cult that follows him all over South Florida. They wear shirts with his picture that say “Robert by Day…Elvis by Night.” They pass out cards so you can vote for Elvis as the Best Entertainer in South Florida (which he was won for the last five years straight, by the way, thanks to his loyal fans).  They hug and kiss each other as they all know each other from following Elvis all over the state and from the Elvis CRUISE they take together once a year (You got that right, Elvis and his fans go on a cruise where he is the entertainment every night). They dance in the aisles of the restaurant and take pictures of the Elvis poseur (as if they might never see him again).  In fact, Brad took several pictures of Elvis performing that night and I was appalled. 


“It’s official,” I announced over my tepid Bud Lite.  “You are OLD – you’re taking pictures of people you don’t even know.  Only old people do that.”  My mother, by the way, had spent the morning photographing a red fox darting across the back yard/golf course at their house.  I mean, what DO YOU DO with those pictures?  Who do you show them to?  And, really, what do you say?  


At the end of the show, which concludes with a rousing rendition of “How Great Thou Art/Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” everyone is in tears, including the fat Marine from Jersey who served in Korea.  Even Brad is holding back a moment.  And that’s when I realize that while I have absolutely nothing in common with anyone in this seedy bar, Elvis is community. If you don’t like Elvis, there’s something wrong with you…seriously wrong.  You can disagree about whether you like young, movie star Elvis or old, fat, alcohol-addled Elvis, but you can’t not like a man who could sing everything from Sinatra to Three Dog Night and make it sound like his own.  A man whose only Grammys (three) were for his gospel recordings.  A man who courted and married a 14-year-old, who is now on “Dancing with the Stars” with a face that doesn’t move.  Really.

April 12th — We just spent a week in Florida and it was GLORIOUS!  That’s a word my mother uses and we like to nudge her a bit about it.  How was your weekend? “It was GLORIOUS!”  How was the weather? “It was GLORIOUS!”  How was that new restaurant?  “The food was GLORIOUS!” I have to admit, that despite everything that went wrong with weekend, it was a glorious vacay.  The thing is we flew Skybus to Florida.  Cuz Brad and I are so freakin’ brilliant and on the ball and we grabbed these ridiculously cheap tix from Greensboro (yes, I know we don’t live in Greensboro, but being so freakin’ brilliant and on the ball, we didn’t care) and arriving in Fort Lauderdale (yes, I know my parents don’t live in Fort Lauderdale, but being to so freakin’ brilliant and on the ball, Brad and I didn’t care).  We’re even high-fivin’ as we board an ORANGE plane manned (or should I say fe-manned) by cute young flight attendants in black t-shirts with pithy airline sayings who later sell us bottled water for $6.  Still, I’m undeterred, basking in our brilliance…   


A mere 48 hours later Skybus is kaput, out of business, ceasing operations…no more rides on bright orange planes.  And we’re stuck in Florida with my parents who, while quite welcoming to us for 10 days, do need us to leave after those 10 days.  And all of a sudden I don’t feel so freakin’ brilliant and on the ball.  In fact, I feel kinda stupid, because now we have to figure out how to get home.  Well, really, we have to figure out how to get to Greensboro, because that’s where our car is parked.  And we have to get home with obscene amounts of luggage that includes golf clubs, tennis rackets, a whole bag of shoes and some new circes I picked up here and there because the shopping is so GLORIOUS! 


We found an affordable flight on Delta and booked it post-haste.  We did not feel brilliant and on the ball, only extremely fortunate.  So twe got up at 4:30 a.m. to leave for the airport at 5 a.m. to make our 7:20 a.m. flight to Orlando (which is only a 30 minute flight).  We then  had a four-hour layover until we caught our 12:20 flight into Greensboro where we will load up our car with eight pieces of luggage and head home to Charlotte.  GLORIOUS!

April 12th — I have a GE update and wanted you to know right away. No, I do not have a shiny new fridge sitting in my kitchen.  NOTE:  If you’re confused by why I care about GE in the least, please refer to my GE letter to Jeffrey Immelt.  


According to today’s Wall Street Journal, GE’s profits fell nearly 6% below expectations, due to many business factors, including a weakness in their consumer product line (i.e. – their line of GE Monogram refrigerators that SUCK).  You’re not gonna believe this, but apparently GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt apologized to shareholders.  I know, I’m shocked, too.


I mean, did I hear boo from Mr. Immelt after GE ruined not one FAMILY HOLIDAY GATHERING, but two FAMILY HOLIDAY GATHERINGS due to a faulty fridge and inanely incompetent customer service reps?  Well, we all know the answer to that.  Did Mr. Immelt feel the need to give me (a GE stockholder, too, I might add) a ring to fess up that it was a little much that I talked to nearly 16 customer service representatives and never got my issue “resolved.”  Nah.  Did dear Mr. Immelt ever wonder if he should change the toll-free consumer number from 1-800-GE-CARES to 1-800-Y-BOTHER? Nope.  Perhaps if GE had tended to it’s knitting and sent me either a NEW refrigerator or a competent repair technician in a timely manner, Mr. Immelt wouldn’t be kissing investor booty and wondering if his golden parachute will be jacked anytime soon.  Stay tuned…I’m sure the plot will thicken.


This whole blog phenomena is still pretty new to me so I called this blogging/website expert (a friend of a former colleague) to see if she could help.  She was nice enough in a drill-sergeant “you can’t handle the truth” kinda way. 


And her truth was that I should be blogging daily and that was the single biggest favor I could do for myself.  Really?  Because my therapist told me loving myself was the single biggest favor I could do for myself.  And my hairdresser claims that getting my hair colored every EIGHT weeks is the single biggest favor I could do for myself.   And the Evil One tells me that working out three times a week until my eyes bleed is the single biggest favor I can do for myself.  Me? I believe a glass of wine everyday around six is the biggest favor I can do for myself.  So in the spirit of Charla – I do nothing.  (Not even the wine part).   I am completely paralyzed by the idea of blogging daily that I don’t blog for three weeks straight (I’m hoping my dozen fans noticed my panicked sabbatical).  In the meantime, I wonder what I am capable of doing daily.  Well, I eat every day, I sleep every day, I drink three Diet Cokes every day, I call someone I love to chat every day.  I email every day.  I used to have “you know what” with my husband every day.  I brush my teeth every day. I shower (but don’t wash my hair) every day.  I take in the mail every day.  I try to love my kids every day.  Ugh, surely that’s enough?    

March 30th —  Brad and I are sitting in the airport this morning waiting for a flight to Florida.  Just the two of us.  Our kids are at home with his mother while I tag along on his four-day business trip to Heaven.  We’re zoning out, basking in some hard-earned silence and Brad turns to me. “What are you thinking?” 


“Do you really want to know?”  I ask.


“Sure,” he replied, thinking, I’m sure – how bad could it be?


“I’m looking at that guy’s loafers thinking they would look good on you, but knowing they’re probably too funky for your taste. I’m looking at that family of seven and listening to the dad who talks too loud because he thinks we should all marvel that he is managing five kids so well in an airport. I’m thinking it’s not my fault he has five kids so don’t look at me for some award or something. I’m looking at the guy listening to his IPod thinking I should really download some more music onto mine and finally figure out how to use the darn thing.  I’m looking at that heavy woman over there wondering if she’s going to need a seat belt extender on this flight. I’m looking at that woman in her  lavender wind suit and gobs of jewelry and thinking how could she thing that is possibly a good look.  I’m looking at what that woman’s reading because I’m ready for a new book and I wonder if that’s a good one.  I’m trying to remember if I put that last load of clothes in the dryer or if they’re mildewing to high heaven. I’m thinking about going to the bathroom before we board. I’m watching that six-year-old guzzle a full-leaded, caffienated Coke and hoping to Betsy that he doesn’t sit near us.  And I’m wondering if I remembered to pack my hot rollers.  Want me to keep going?”




I didn’t think so, I thought.


Brad followed up with “Does your brain always do that?” 


“Of course, doesn’t everyone’s?” I replied.


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