Archive for March, 2012

To Everything…there is a season…

So I was on my way to work this morning, and this minivan started tailgating me. They were close enough for me to see who the driver was, and it was a very determined looking older woman. I could see she had at least two other relatively older women in the minivan with her. I’m not used to being tailgated on my  serene county road by anyone, let alone a demographic that is not known for offensive driving.

When I got to town, I realized what the rush was about. There was a garage sale at the local community center. People were swarming in like flies to a carcass. Now it made sense. With the unseasonably warm weather this year, the sales are starting early, and this is one of the first big garage sales of the year.

For those of you who are not privy to the cultural nuances of Wisconsin (or the Midwest in general), there are four season openers that mark the arrival of spring. There’s Fishing Opener, (one of the few times any acting governor bothers to acknowledge that the state exists north of River Falls), Planting Time (mostly for farmers, but we all get the consequences of smelly fields, and the rewards of yummy food), Construction Season (only a happy occasion for people who make their living doing it), and Garage Sale Season.

Garage Sale Season is big here because so many of us are afflicted with LCS, and the idea of paying so little for what someone else paid so much for, well, it’s exhilarating. The bragging rights (although extremely understated when recited) alone are just priceless. “See these (fancy-smancy name brand here) jeans? Got them for a dollar.” It’s probably a bad thing that this passive-aggressive behavior is rewarded and perpetuated, but it is usually a symbiotic relationship. Normally people have garage sales to get rid of crap. If those jeans are taking up space in your drawer because they don’t fit, or they aren’t your style, they’re not doing you any good, right? Make a buck and get that space back.

Unless you just happen upon a sale (which is not that unusual), there is a method to garage sale-ing. If you can only do one day, normally it’s Saturday. You have to start early because the good stuff is usually gone by 10:00. Most sales start at 8 or 9. You scan the local advertiser, take out your trusty road map (if you’re hard core, you could be covering two counties, maybe fifty miles), and map in order of which sale is closest to you. Then off you go. I always hope that I find at least something at each sale because I perpetually feel guilty if I have to walk past the poor person who went to all the trouble to set up the sale and I didn’t find anything. I at least try to smile and tell them thank you.

When the economy is bad, sales usually suck. It’s inevitable. Part of that problem is interior designers made garage sale-ing trendy. Suddenly everyone thinks their crap is special and expect you to pay for that specialness. They seem to have forgotten that you put on a garage sale to “get rid of stuff”. Making any money is secondary.

Oh, and in my opinion, it’s bad manners to bargain at a garage sale. I will not sway on that. If you are doing it right, garage sales are an exhaustive undertaking. You have to sort stuff, price stuff, clean up areas to display stuff and hide what you’re not selling. You have to advertise, put out directional signs, get a cash box together, set up a place to put the tags so you can count up the money at the end of the day…you get what I’m sayin’.

Someone went to a lot of trouble to put that price on that item. Unless the proprietor of the sale has decided that it’s getting late and there’s too much crap left, at which point it becomes “half off the tag” or “a dollar a bag” (like chum in a shark tank, if you have LCS), the price is what it is. I know you want to try out the skills you learned at that market in Mazatlan, but it won’t be welcomed here. Sure, we’ll smile politely, but secretly your brazenness will be scorned, and we will be cursing your name amongst ourselves before you leave the driveway. Consider this fair warning. Happy Sale-ing!

Reading in Milltown: wonderful!

So far, I have yet to meet a librarian that I didn’t like, but the Friends of the Milltown Public Library have set the bar really high in terms of hospitality. It was a wonderful turnout of ten people including Poet and one my editors, Debbie. I don’t think I laughed so much at a reading yet, so it was a lot of fun. Kind of a dry spell between this last reading and New Richmond. Guess I’ll just have to do some more writing.

You can’t trust anybody these days…

As the third book, “Cop Incognito,” gets going, I’m noticing a pattern starting to emerge. There is a severe lack of trust with many of the characters in this third installment in the series. And, you know what? I’m happy with it.

There are some fantastic writers out there whose whole job security depends on the steadfast, unwavering nature of their heroes. These characters are always strong, always right, always morally correct. Doubts, schmouts. Well, bully for them.

My characters are not good at being saints. Sometimes they do some really stupid shit. They make mistakes. They make poor decisions. They lie. They cheat. They swear. They have sex, sometimes regrettably. They have prejudices and preconceived notions about the world around them, based solely on their ingrained beliefs, and, yet, I really feel for them.

Life is not easy. Choices are not always cut and dried. Sometimes it simply comes down to the consequences you are willing to live with. Even though my characters live in a world completely in my control, that doesn’t mean I’m going to make their lives easy. Why should they get off? I don’t get to.