Conversations With Mancub

Mancub in his natural habit. He's got it pretty rough, folks. Warning: this may be hard to read, like the "Arms of an Angel" dog commercials.

Mancub in his natural habit. He’s got it pretty rough, folks.

Warning: this may be hard to read, like those “Arms of an Angel” dog commercials. Not really.

Yesterday, I made it home kind of late. After teaching my night composition class, I was hanging out with my sweet friend Katie who just had an operation in which THEY BROKE HER FACE. Actually, the doctor broke her nose in an effort to reset and repair sinus issues that have been making her miserable for years. Anyway, I showed up at her house with Tacos and Tom: the best sick buddy combo ever. Tacos from Rusty Taco and a Tom Hardy movie. In this case, Wuthering Heights with Tom as Heathcliff. And before you ask. YES she likes Tom Hardy and YES she wanted to watch it…I know some of you were thinking that this was some sort of bullying on my part because Katie was poor and helpless with her broken nose. All you naysayers can just go to h.e. double hockey sticks because she loves Tom Hardy too.

Anyway, back to Mancub. It’s his first week of summer vacation and I’m already struggling with how to keep his butt from permanently growing into his desk chair as he “catches up” for lost time (meaning the annoyance that is high school) on his favorite past time: video games. During the school year, we don’t make him clean the kitchen (his normal chore) on Wednesdays because that’s when he goes to Youth Group with Watergirl and he needs time to do his homework and practice (theoretically) his horn and do the various good Samaritan deeds he does throughout the community and his many other philanthropic pursuits. Well, here’s the rub. It’s summer–so he doesn’t really have homework. He has youth group but that’s only for a couple of hours.

I’m over at Katie’s, selflessly hanging out with my medicated friend watching Tom Hardy (hey-she would have picked it if she had a choice! I swear) on Katie’s supersoft bed in her immaculate apartment when Nate calls. He’s asking for money to go to this restaurant called the Cotton Patch tomorrow for lunch. I’ve been there: it’s ok…good not great. However, it survives in Tyler for two reasons: it’s a family restaurant that serves everything deep fried. I bet I could ask them to deep fry my sweet tea and they would.

Restaurants have a hard time surviving in Tyler unless they are pretentiously expensive and serve all manners of booze. This one restaurant called “Double D’s” caused a big ruckus when it opened across the street from the high school and next to Toys R Us. That’s just good marketing, folks. Eventually it went out of business, so then it became some kind of chicken shack and now it’s for sale again.

Mancub knows I don’t carry cash so he’s learning to plan ahead where this is concerned. Never mind that he and Watergirl just went to Chili’s earlier (with the sisters). But I stopped by the ATM for him anyway. I also stopped by and got The Engineer and I some frozen custard. I didn’t get the kids any because I’m mean.

I came in the living room with the custard and Mancub’s like, “Did you get me some?” Um, no. I’m the meanest mom around, and sometimes I gotta remind him of that. Plus he just said he was avoiding junk food for “a while.” He gets this from me. Awhile means one thing when I’m dieting and another when I’m doing something painful like watching Sci-fi.

Earlier, he and Watergirl were making juice in the kitchen. They juiced an entire pineapple, some carrots and anything else they could get their hands on.They might have considered juicing the chihuahua but he’s mostly fat pockets which is not healthy.When they were finished, Mancub left the juicer exactly the way it was and didn’t rinse anything off. He gets THAT trait from his dad. Apparently if you just leave your dishes lying around or kick off your dirty undies next to the shower, it disappears like magic–presumably by our invisible butler named Jeeves.

If you’ve never juiced before, you should know that juice pulp, when left on a juicer, takes approximately ten seconds before it magically turns into a hardened, ancient oatmeal consistency that somehow manages to become part of the molecular structure of the juicer. The pulp clings to the juicer parts like the Gosslin kids used to cling to Kate before she got the hair extensions.

“Nate. You didn’t clean the juicer.”

“Oh yeah. It’s my day off.”

“I’m sorry? Day off?” I ask, with a slight lilt in my voice that suggests that I don’t understand English.

“Yeah. Youth group day.”

“How does that translate to “I get to leave a bunch of crap for mom to clean up?” In case you really thought we had a butler named Jeeves.


“Plus, what do you do today that’s left you so exhausted? Sleeping in? Hanging out with Watergirl? Napping? Watching reruns of Avatar? Fighting off creepers in Minecraft? I know these are all extremely taxing activities but I’m gonna have to ask you to clean up that juicier.”

So he did. Call CPS if you must.

5 (Creepy) Signs You Might Be Reading a Southern Gothic Novel

What the heck is a Southern Gothic novel, anyway? Is that even a real thing? I know you have lost sleep over this very topic so I’m gonna clear it all up right now. Don’t worry–the Prof is on it.

We know the term “gothic” has some pretty bold characteristics:

  • People being buried alive (ala Poe’s “Cask of Amontilad0”).
  • The entrapment of the helpless female (ala Wuthering Heights).
  • Themes of isolation coupled with suspense (see King’s The Shining).
  • A really bad snowstorm or rainstorm to add to the mood (and to lessen the chance of escape)… again, The Shining.)
  • A handsome, brooding and often mentally unstable hero (again, Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights makes me sigh. I mean, we all know he’s completely cray-cray but guess what. We don’t care.

(Especially when Heathcliff is played by Tom Hardy. My friend April LOVES him practically as much as I do.)

(Note: if you have not watched this version for free on Netflix, WALK AWAY FROM THIS BLOG RIGHT NOW AND DO IT. You will NOT be disappointed.

These are all characterisitics  I would connect with the term “Gothic.” So what makes a novel “Southern Gothic?” Here are some traits I look for when labeling a book with this particular genre.

1. The story is set in the American South, no matter what the time frame. A great example is To Kill a Mockingbird. Occuring in Alabama in during the time period of “The Great Depression,” this story fits nicely into this niche.

2.Something super creepy happens. For example, keeping Boo Radley (To Kill a Mockingbird) locked in the basement of the spooky house nobody goes into. Yeah, that’s creepy and unusual.

Or, there might be a ghost wandering around trying to connect with the living in the South. It doesn’t count if it’s South Jersey. For some reason, a haunted trailer just isn’t as frightening as a haunted mansion.

Or, when the Dollanger kids (Flowers in the Attic) get locked in attic of the old house in Virginia for a couple of years. That’s pretty unnatural.

3.Lots of secrets. Secret loves, secret horrors, secret secrets. For example, in Toni Morrison’s Beloved…many secret unhealthy events occur that are not necessarily something I’d bring up in a blog. Let’s just say the effects of slavery hang around even if we try to pretend they don’t. If you’ve never read Beloved, DO IT. IF YOU DARE.

4.There’s usually an element of people stuck in time. For example, people who are racist just stay racist because they are isolated in the South and don’t get out much. Or, people who won’t move on and accept change because they can’t or won’t. This usually leads to scary events — and more secrets.

Speaking of secrets and Southern Gothic books, my novel War Eagle Women has all of the above: secrets, check. Entrapment? Check. Ghost/supernatural event? Check. A hella rainstorm? Double check. Dysfunctional family? Check.

Maybe you should CHECK it out. Get it?

WarEagleWomen2_850 (1)

Want more info? Here’s the link. If you are an Amazon Prime member, it’s available for a limited time for free.

More about Southern Gothic books in my next blog.