“Reading Molly’s blog is like hanging out with your funniest friend. If you like humor served with a side of wisdom, keep reading Life with the Campbells.”
Rhiannon Paine, www.rhiannonpaine.com 

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THE INTERVIEW

As most of you know, I have a book coming out at the end of February. Keep the Ends Loose is a coming of age story about a girl and her average family that go haywire one summer before she enters high school. You might want to pre-order one right this minute: There is a link on the sidebar of this blog–handy and convienient!

Anyway, I am very hopeful that this book will be a success. Having a successful book means that there is a “buzz” created around your book, and as a result, other people want to talk to you about your writing, your book, and your brilliant insights on life and the world. I am not that  brilliant or insightful. I have also not been interviewed much in the past. So I have been doing some research on what actually constitutes a good interview, so I can practice up for when somebody actually contacts me for one. So far this hasn’t happened, but I tell myself that it is early days.

Here is what I have found out. To be good in an interview, you have to lead the person questioning you away from the usual interview fare (“when did you discover that you wanted to be a writer?” BORING) to more interesting questions. This is a real skill involving the segue. So I would say this, “I honestly never wanted to become a writer. But I always got A’s on my term papers, so I guess it sank in that I had a little talent with words. But guess what happened to me last week when I went into the basement to put the laundry into the dryer?” Now this would turn the course of the interview into a lively discussion about spiders, and both the interviewer and I could have a meaningful exchange about our worst fears.

Interviewers always ask the person they are interviewing for “tips.” This is unnerving, as I imagine readers or listeners pulling out notebooks and pencils, waiting for something really useful. All I can think of that might help would-be writers out there is to limit the use of the words “like” and “very.” So I need to bone up on this: maybe I should talk about how important “show, don’t tell” is. The fact that I am lousy about showing and perfectly comfortable telling is probably not important, right? I can develop some sort of take on this (note to self: find out what “show, don’t tell” actually means).

Good interviews always seem to have a great story. The person interviewed overcame a huge obstacle, walked across the desert all alone in uncomfortable boots, kicked a huge drug habit, or nearly committed suicide. Tough one. I guess I can tell the story about the time I spit on my collar during a job interview to see if the sweat I felt rolling down my armpits into my brassiere actually showed on the outside of my blazer. Then I had to figure out how to cover the dark spit spot on my lapel, or at least have a logical explanation for how it got there while the interviewer briefly left me alone in the room. Ok, check.

I like that Lipton man. You know, the guy with the index cards who asks all the celebs he interviews what their favorite swear words are, what sounds they like the best, and what jobs they would do if they could choose any profession? I am ready for him.

Shitballs, cat purr, and the person who gets to name all the nail polish colors for OPI.

Ok. I think I am ready for my interview. What? You want to know if I always knew that I wanted to be a writer? Guess what I found in the basement this morning?

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JUST YOUR AVERAGE JOE

I read an article recently that made a lot of sense. The gist of the article was that our common perception of what is “average” has been vastly inflated by the media. The result is that most of us think what is “normal” is actually far above it. Let me cite an example: Granite countertops. Whenever I watch HGTV, all the young couples looking for their first home absolutely insist on granite. I mean, they actually say things like, “Granite countertops are a must. If the house doesn’t have them, we are afraid that’s a deal breaker.”

The article went on to say that all of this is an illusion. We need to stop feeling that “keeping up with the Joneses” is an indication of our relative merit as humans in this society. In actuality, most of us are “regular.” And regular people have Formica countertops.

So if one were to visit the homes of a whole bunch of middle class (I am pretending that this still exists) Americans, you would find a lot of things that HGTV might scorn. But this is ok! We are ok! We average Joes actually have a lot to be thankful for and actually proud of:

We have really great basements. Yeah. Full of old furnaces, sports equipment, and cat litter boxes. It doesn’t matter if it is musty down there. And there is plenty of room for lots of stuff. So we can save all of our kid’s school projects and those rusty lawn chairs that we plan to spray with Rustoleum. They will be as good as new!

We don’t have three story great rooms that make even the biggest sofas look tiny. Our heating bills are manageable, because we have regular, normal, eight foot ceilings in there. And we don’t have any chandeliers, either. Those things are a bitch to clean, unless you have a seventy foot ladder or a cousin named Wallenda.

We have one sink in the bathroom. We just take turns getting ready for work. And we have no idea what “en suite” means. Because we don’t have to.

We have one fireplace.

We don’t really like kitchen islands. Because you have to keep walking around them to get to the other side, where the pots and pans are. Then you have to walk around them again, carrying the big soup pot. And we don’t really appreciate pot fillers, either. Because filling a pot while it stands on the stove is ok, but what is wrong with just getting a pitcher of water and pouring it in there?

We live simply. We stand in the tub to take a shower. We wear bedroom slippers, because our floors aren’t heated. Our houses have three, maybe four bedrooms. Media rooms? If we want to watch a movie, we turn on HBO on our normal sized TV screens in the living room. We eat in the dining room, around the table that seats six. We go swimming at the Y. We think two thousand square feet is just fine.

But really, it boils down to this: we need to stop watching HGTV.

 

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FLOYD GARNISH IS ETERNALLY RUMPLED

I have a real love for characters. As some of you know, my first book was full of them. Well, now I draw their pictures and write about them. It’s a habit! So if you don’t mind at all, I will post a character when the whim strikes, along with my regular blog posts. Meet Floyd!

Some people are crisp people. You know the ones: they have their dry cleaners deliver all their shirts hanging and with extra starch. They wear business suits during the week, and linen clothes on casual days. Their linen doesn’t ever crease. These people don’t sweat much, either.

Floyd Garnish is not one of the crisp. He belongs to another category of individuals altogether. Floyd is unable to remain wrinkle free for even five minutes after getting dressed for work. Floyd’s wife, Jenny, cannot for the life of her understand this, because she uses extra starch on his shirts, and although they can’t afford dry cleaners, she works very hard to keep Floyd’s suits clean and presentable: Jenny bought a steamer just so she could remove the rumples from Floyd’s suits each night.

Floyd swears that he tries. He has very crisp intentions every single day. But here is what happens, more often than not: Floyd takes his coffee with him in a car cup each morning. Jenny doesn’t endorse this, but she knows that we all need our coffee. So invariably, Floyd manages to slop just a few drops on his shirt or tie as soon as he leans over to get into the car.  Oh, and Floyd is a slumper. He finds that it is much more comfortable to scrunch down a bit to the left as he steers. He listens to the Golden Oldies station, and steering and scrunching while humming just makes the long drive to the office more palatable somehow.

As Floyd arrives at French and Harbottle, Certified Public Accountants, he salutes Verna, the receptionist, hoisting his coffee mug. Verna always flinches—Floyd spills.

Once at his desk, Floyd gets down to work, but this requires concentration. For Floyd, it is impossible to really focus unless he rolls up his sleeves. Of course, sometimes Floyd forgets to remove his suit jacket first.

French and Harbottle is a third generation accounting firm. The grandchildren of the original founders, Benjamin French and Seamus Harbottle, now run the company. They are Regina French and Harold Harbottle, respectively. And there have never been crisper executives. Regina’s suits swish with authority as she heads up the hallway toward the boardroom. And Harold? His shirts are so stiff he bends only from the waist.

The firm has many clients. Clients with all sorts of complicated business arrangements. Tentacles reaching from balance sheets to balance sheets all over the world. And whenever there is a glitch? If one of F and H’s clients in Toledo runs afoul in an audit? Or if a client in Chicago needs some sorting, STAT? Who gets called in to unravel everything and save the day? FLOYD.

It is, in reality, just an illusion, this crispness. Because underneath all of that starch and swagger, perfectly creased collars and confidence? It’s all of the Floyds of the world. They lean in.

Sketches

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FLU 101

Are you one of the few people in the US who hasn’t had the flu yet? You might need some tips from the rest of us who have had it. Follow these, and perhaps your flu experience will be more pleasant and fulfilling!

  • For heaven’s sake, stock up on tissue. I find that the kind with the lotion is overrated. Your nose will get all chapped anyway. So:
  • Stock up on Vaseline. Actually, this is an understatement, because anyone who bought a jar of Vaseline in the last twenty years still has a lifetime supply in that jar. But if you don’t have any at home, get that one lifetime jar. Rubbing it on your nose and lips is soothing. I am not certain that it really heals anything, but when you are at death’s door, soothing is a good sensation.
  • Don’t be afraid to call your doctor’s office, or page your doctor at midnight. Remember, this is what he/she signed up for in med school. They are paid for this. Get the idea of “I don’t want to bother him/her” right out of your mind! My doc was great, and he told me to use both Nasacort and Afrin one right after the other. My nose really hurt, but he was right, clearing out my head did help slow down on the stuff running down my throat that made me cough my lungs out. I won’t use the “m-word.”
  • Go ahead. Moan around. You have earned this.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. I hate fluids.
  • On one of your repeated phone calls to your doc, be sure to get a narcotic cough syrup. This will be the only way you will be able to stop coughing long enough to sleep. And the pleasant buzz is just a nice little side benefit.
  • Plan on coughing for weeks.
  • Plan on complaining for weeks.
  • As long as you have symptoms, you are contagious. So this is another great benefit. It gets you out of stuff like grocery shopping, working, and going to the gym.
  • Facebook is a good indicator: when you no longer see posts from your friends about how horrible they feel, then maybe the worst of the pandemic is over. It might be safe to go out in a few days. Oh, and it also might be time to stop posting agonizing details about your own cough, how many days you have been wearing the same pajamas, and the last time you took a shower.

I am feeling much better now. I must admit though, that I am a little nostalgic for the good old days of my virus, when I called my doctor so often that it was kind of like having a new boyfriend…

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I OPENED THE WINDOW, AND IN FLU ENZA

I am on sick leave. Hand me a Kleenex, will you?

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