Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Book of Dahlia

I've been AWOL from the blog for far too long, but I don't have a good, long post in me. Yet. What I do have to share is my love for The Book of Dahlia, which I bought today at 2 pm and finished at 9:30 pm. I read it at my computer when I was supposed to be working, and I read it in the tub until the water was cold. Dahlia is 29 and dying of brain cancer. But wait! It's not that kind of book — the one where the dying protagonist lives life to the fullest and inspires others through her graceful death. Dahlia is a self-described "fuck up" who wonders if anyone will mourn her "wasted life." She is one of the most interesting characters I've ever seen in modern fiction. It's gritty and harsh and funny and heartwrenching and you must add it to your reading list.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Last Wednesday, I got together with Laurel and Michelle at Oak Hill to talk about Snippy. Andrew Yeager from WBHM interviewed me about moving on after Lipstick, my first ever radio interview. I hope I didn't stink too badly. It is really difficult to give serious, thoughtful answers when two women are across the table from me with "oh shit" faces, hanging on my every word with dread. They were both so relieved at the end that I hadn't humiliated them! Bless their hearts, I did try.

Nadria, Nancy B., Bradford K. and Jane L. all stopped by to find out how they could help with Snippy and give us their input. They had some outstanding ideas, and I'm excited to see how the site will take shape. I may not be blogging much (not that I've been that much of a regular) as we get the site moving and all my creative "efforts" are focused on that.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Letting fingers do the talkin'

I was flipping channels this morning and stopped on Headline News as they were talking about the new trend of tweeting in church. Apparently, some megachurch is encouraging its younger worshippers to use Twitter to keep their friends in the loop about how "cool" religion is.

I'm pretty sure this is not a good idea. I grew up attending a small, rural Southern Baptist church. I don't know if this is true in every congregation, but in ours the youth (the 13-18 y.o.) sat in the back. One particular Sunday morning, we were drawing tribal headdresses on the photos of deacons in the program and writing insults to pass back and forth, as we usually did every Sunday morning. (I actually still have one of these notes, probably from when I was 15 or so; It was from my friend Jamie and says "You are a big dog. You are a slobbery, rabid dog, too." Only "rabid" looks like "rabvi" for some reason.) Anyway, something happened that morning that was so totally funny that people were falling out of the pew around me, snorting and doing that silent crying thing you do when something is so funny and you're in a place where you're not supposed to laugh. So then I started laughing at the reactions, still not knowing what was going on, and that's when the pastor stopped his sermon mid-sentence.

"I want to know what's so funny back there," he intoned, red-faced.
The entire back three pews froze as we realized he was talking to us, man. That's when 200 pairs of eyes swiveled from the pastor's face to ours.
"I said," the pastor bellowed, "what is funny about the word of the Lord? I see you snickerin', Tina Bennett..."

I don't know if he said other names because my entire world went into slow-mo, and that's when my daddy stood up from about 20 rows in front of me and crooked his finger at me, to silently say, "Come down here right now."

Has your father ever crooked his finger at you? When mine does it, it is not a good thing. It means I cannot believe that you are my child and if I could tear all the skin from your body with a switch I would do it. When the finger crooks at you, you do not hesitate, for fear of death.

After Daddy's finger-crooking, I slunk up to the front of the church in silence. I could feel the fury radiating off both my parents so I sat as still as possible and kept my eyes on the pastor the rest of the interminably long sermons. The urge to die out laughing was intense.

So as I'm thinking of these kids thumbing their iPhones and Blackberrys and what-have-you, I'm imagining my dad, at the front, crooking his finger at them. Don't make him do that, kids.

Monday, March 9, 2009

5 completely random things

Today was weird. I wasn't bored, exactly, but my mind had drifted off somewhere else. I hope wherever it went, that it was getting lots of sun and umbrella drinks. Anyhoo, I never could think of anything profound to blog about today. Then it hit me: no one blogs about the profound. Who would read that? So here are five completely random things that I thought about today, for those who are keeping score at home:
1. Are newspapers dying? Are magazines? Will people even know how to read in 50 years or will all our necessary info be downloaded in microchip form (or whatever is more sophisticated than a microchip in 50 years) so we can put forth no effort whatsoever? I read a few articles today about the death flop of print media, because I like to torture myself and my choice of profession.
2. My cats, Niblet and Benny, are masters of manipulation and mind control. They can see that I am focusing all my attention on my little screen, so therefore they wail and twitch and run about until I stop what I'm doing and follow them into the kitchen where they stare pointedly into their bowls. This will continue ad infinitum, between naps of course.
3. Ellen DeGeneres is really funny.
4. Tai chi looks like it would be a relaxing thing to learn, but man, is it boring. I made it 30 minutes into the DVD and she hadn't even started teaching the steps to the form. She did talk a lot about how master tai chi instructors' upper bodies "are soft like butterfly wings." That sounds nice.
5. This weekend I watched some Muppet Show episodes with John Cleese, Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore. I keep thinking about John Cleese being forced into costume complete with maracas as the Muppets sing "Impossible Dream" and laughing to myself. The cats just narrow their eyes, suspiciously.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Who you callin' Snippy?!

Since we all got laid off February 13, Laurel, Michelle and I have been tossing around the idea of starting a new website that has the content we really want to do. Strong personal essays, interviews with our favorite women, book reviews, lists (we love lists), etc. And one where we are free to cuss and carry on like the jezebels we are.

Last week we decided to go for it, but then came the hard part — what the hell to name it. "Vagina Dialogues," though intriguing, was out. So was "The Dish," because there's already a cable gossip show called that (and hosted by the girl who played Topanga on Boy Meets World — I hope she gets better material soon). We considered "Zelda," as an homage to Montgomery-born Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, who was known for thumbing her nose at Southern social mores of the time. Her story's a bit too tragic for her name to be the title of an uplifting (we hope) women's site, so we passed on it, too.

Then at lunch today with Laurel, inspiration struck. We were bitching about past workplace indignities when I mentioned being called "snippy" whenever I spoke up about something. "That's it!" Laurel said. Laurel's standards are higher than mine, so if she liked it I figured I better jump on board, too. I'm actually pleased as punch with the name, and although it's a bit inside joke-y, I think it sums up pretty well what our site's voice will be like. We will often say things that would get us in trouble at a corporate-owned magazine. I'll write more about it once we launch the site April 1 —

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Hatch house, frosted with snow

I felt too bad to enjoy the snow on Sunday, but my wonderful mother-in-law Doris captured this image. It makes our weird little house look almost cute!

The painful truth

I woke up Sunday with a headache, a really bad one that started at the back of my head and radiated up and out until my whole head throbbed. I must have taken 10-12 Advil during the course of the day (including 3 Advil Migraine tablets) but it never even took the edge off.

Around noon, I went back to bed. When I wasn't sleeping — fitfully — I was doing some not-so-pleasant thinking about why I felt so bad. See, I wake up almost every morning with a headache. Most days they fade not long after breakfast, but sometimes they stick around for the rest of the day, or even days. I've seen my doctor about it and she's prescribed Treximet, but the pills are incredibly expensive. But she also told me something I didn't want to hear — I'm fat and out of shape and I won't feel better until I do something about it.

Just writing that is embarrassing, although I can't imagine that anyone who's ever seen me would argue (and if you would, that is very sweet of you, but it's not honest). Since I moved to Birmingham 10 years ago, I've struggled with my weight. Well, "struggled" wouldn't be the right word since that assumes that I actually put some effort into it. I did try to work on it for a couple of years, going to the gym for 2-3 hours a day, drinking Slim Fast and falling into bed every night before 9 pm, exhausted but hungry. It was hard, hard work and my tantrum-throwing inner child would show up at least once a week demanding a cheeseburger and cocktails, which I would overindulge in and ruin my progress for the week.

I achieved nirvana while Royal and I were in Germany for a year. Bored, I spent lots of time at the gym. We only had one car, which Royal took to work, so I walked everywhere. We ate the good, hearty German food with gusto, but I managed to lose weight from all the activity. I came back to the US lighter than when I'd left (and, for the first time in years, quite infatuated with my toned body).

Unfortunately, it didn't last. Our first meal back in Alabama was at Hamburger Heaven. You just can't get a good cheeseburger in Germany. Then I had to have Mexican about four nights in a row, as that's not popular in Bavaria, either. A few months of this and no activity later, and I was back in the fat clothes.

Fast forward a few years, and things have only gotten worse. I no longer even pretend to eat healthily. When I have a craving — which is often — I dispatch Royal to the Pig for our crack of choice, Little Debbie snack cakes. We can polish off a box of Swiss cake rolls or fudge rounds in a matter of hours. Royal is definitely an enabler, but only because I allow him to be. He only wants me to be happy, bless his heart. And being unhappy is what got me to this point in the first place. I have been depressed for many, many years and was officially diagnosed last summer. I am taking Wellbutrin, which helps tremendously, and seeing a therapist. But while those things give me the tools I need to make a change, they can't actually make the change for me. I have to do the work. And that's where I've been stuck ever since.

Anyway, confessional blog posts like this always make me cringe a little bit, but if everyone in the world — or, the five people who occasionally read this blog — knows about my problem, then I can't pretend there isn't one any more. I am not so vain as to worry about the number on the tag inside my jeans, but I do worry that, at 35, I'm experiencing the pain and discomfort of someone 20 years older (and also out of shape). It's keeping me from doing the things I want to do and it has to stop. Today.