What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

A Tacky Turkey November 25, 2015

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 1:46 pm
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When I was super little, my mother was still quasi-determined that we spend time with our extended family. And Thanksgiving is a time for family.

We would drive over to my grandfather and step-grandmother’s house. My step-grandmother was not the maternal type or a good cook. One year, she tried to microwave the turkey. Yep, you read that right: microwave the turkey. I ate only olives that Thanksgiving. It was a sad, sad day in my little life.

The last year we attended Thanksgiving, I was sick. So sick that I was allowed to sleep on the couch instead of being forced to spend time with my cousins.

My nap was eventually ruined by the police pounding on the front door. My cousins had gotten bored and decided to break into my grandfather’s garage to see why the garage was locked. Of course they set off the fancy alarms and the cops showed up five minutes later. There was lots of yelling. My grandfather was furious. But on the upside, my mother decided that we didn’t need to attend the family meals anymore. We started eating Thanksgiving dinner at home. My mother never once tried to nuke the turkey.


Under the Table October 31, 2015

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 2:59 pm
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I grew up around the census. My mom started working for them on and off when I was three, which was a lot of years ago. And therefore, I think it is perfectly logical to blame the federal government for my unnatural obsession with Lunchables.

See, when I was three, my mom’s census office was in our dining room, which made for a super easy commute for her, but there were a few drawbacks. Like a three-year-old who just wanted to be loved and didn’t care that the American people needed to be counted to ensure important things like proper representation of districts in government. I just wanted to be loved and fed all the time.

My mother’s secretary at least provided the food. And not just any food. Lunchables, which to a three-year-old is just about the best thing on God’s green earth.

Little tiny sandwiches of meat, cheese and crackers easy enough to put together all by yourself. In small enough portions that you can eat the whole thing and with a juice box to boot.

I was in heaven.

But I couldn’t be bought with just a Lunchable. Sure, I would happily eat it, but I wanted to be near the great barer of Lunchables. So I would sit under the dining room table at the secretary’s feet, munching my Lunchable as the American people were counted. Important governmental things were happening. Things that ensure our rights as American citizens, and I was there, munching on overly processed meat and cheese. I was a part of democracy in action. It was a three-year-old’s dream come true.

And now whenever I feel overwhelmed, I have the urge to crawl under a table and eat a little Lunchable. Maybe with a Reese’s, maybe with skittles. Either way, it takes me back to an earlier time. When life was simple and my silence could be bought with a juice box.


#GratefulAuthor August 17, 2015

My mother has always been a little indulgent. Not like buying my sister and me the coolest shoes that all the kids had to have, or buying me a puppy any of the million times I asked for one. More like my sister decided that she desperately needed to go to summer camp, so my mother became the camp’s arts director so my sister and I could go to camp for the summer. Or when I decided I need more dance classes and she found another studio where I could moonlight.

But my favorite was the day my sister decided she needed a bag of cement. My sister didn’t know what exactly she needed the cement for, only that it was vital that she make something out of it.

Most parents would probably have refused to by their thirteen-year-old a bag of cement, and even more would probably have been furious when that child proceeded to ruin a chunk of grass in the backyard, experimenting with the cement until that child managed to produce a thing that almost resembled really sandy art.

But the best part of the story is today my sister is a ceramic artist and art professor. And it all started with my mom sighing and buying my sister a bag of creepy concrete.

For me and writing, it was not so difficult to get the supplies to begin. (more…)


Conductor Down! August 12, 2015

When I was a freshman in college, I was cast in an operetta. Not as a singer, as a dancer. A male dancer. You see, when the music department had cast the show, they hadn’t bothered to cast any men for the big cancan scene. By the time they asked the dance department for a few boys, there were no boys left to be had. So, being a girl with broad shoulders, I was cast as a male dancer in my first college show. It was also the first time I ever performed on stage with my husband.

A lot of the story isn’t interesting. I had to learn to do coffee grinders and a half-a-hand stand. I wore a bow and slicked my hair back.

No. The interesting part was the conductor. It was a university, so most of the pit were music majors. But the conductor played the piano. It was a fine arrangement that you see in a lot of regional theatres that can’t afford to have a person just to use the baton.

The problem was that this conductor was a raging alcoholic. (more…)


The Stuck Siren May 16, 2015

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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I grew up next door to a volunteer fire department. And by next door, I mean I could stare into their window from my bedroom window, which provided quite the education on the occasions when the firemen hired strippers.

While I appreciate that firemen, whether volunteer or otherwise, put themselves at great personal risk to help others, these men were just plain dumb. It usually showed itself in little ways that most of the village didn’t notice and my family was only privy to due to our proximity to the firehouse side door.

Like the time all the eighteen-year-olds joined the department and started hanging out at the fire station all the time. It took the chief a while to realize that the vending machine he had installed that doled out dollar beers with no one to check IDs might have something to do with the boys’ enthusiasm.

But the time that really took the cake was when the firemen decided they needed a summer project. They all got together and dry-walled the ceiling of the firehouse, boarding over and covering up the hatch to the roof where the fire siren sat. But that’s no big deal, right? What Fire Department needs a way to get to their fire siren? (more…)


The Hair Hacker April 27, 2015

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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When I was little, my parents used our house as a Bed and Breakfast. To me, that mostly meant having ten minutes to find every sock I had lost in the house when someone called from town and wanted a room for the night. But every once in a while, there was a guest that stood out.

There was one regular who came to the Inn all the time. He was divorced, and every time he had his two girls for the weekend he would bring them to the Inn. I don’t know if he didn’t have room for them at home or if he just didn’t want to be on his own with two children, but whatever the reason, two weekends a month he would show up. One of the girls was a little older than I was and really cool, but the little one was just a little crazy. She was always nice when we played together, but she had a very strong desire to cut her hair.

Whenever this family was coming, my mother would have to go through the inn and hide everything that could possible cut hair. Sewing scissors, nail clippers, everything.

If you forgot a Swiss army knife, that kid would find it and start chopping off chunks of her hair! (more…)


My Kingdom for a Poodle Barrette April 18, 2015

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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I’ve been a little stressed. Between performing, editing book three in The Tethering Series, and getting the blog tour for the release of book two ready along with brushing my teeth, I’ve had a lot on my plate. And I’ve found more and more lately that when I’m really stressed, I want a plastic poodle barrette. You know the ones I mean. Those cheap little hair clips that come in a pack of different animal shapes. I want a pink poodle, and I want to clip it in my hair, dammit.

When I was three we had a Swedish exchange student. I loved her. I wanted to spend all of my time with her. Unfortunately, though the exchange student spoke English, she was not well versed in overexcited three-year-old. (more…)