I’ve been lucky to have met several bloggers over the years. As lovely as all of them turned out to be, I admit that I had my doubts.
What if they’re really ax murderers? What if they think I’m totally uncool?
What if I end up wearing a fake mustache, plaid earmuffs, and yellow yarn on my head in public?
Ayuh, that’s right. I met up with Jules from Go Jules Go AND Peg from Peg-o-leg’s Ramblings! I know!! INSANE!! I was delirious from the pure excitement and adrenaline. Or maybe that was because I pounded down a Blueberry Ale in ten seconds.
The best part was we didn’t even really plan (much) for this to happen — it was like fate, destiny, or pure coincidence. Jules is from New Jersey and just happened to be up here in Maine for Labor Day weekend. Peg is from Illinois and she and her family just happened to be up here in Maine for Labor Day weekend. And it was my birthday! I’m 29 for the 18th time. What a gift it was to chill with some bloggy peeps!!!!! (extra exclamation points absolutely justified)
After bribing Peg’s visiting family with lobster rolls, they graciously allowed me to hobnob with WordPress celebs Peg and Jules (and her adorable dog) on the Portland waterfront.
I tell you I have never been so giddy. Peg is exactly like you’d imagine from her blog times 100. She’s beautiful, bubbly, and hilarious. I’ve already met with Jules a few times, so it goes without saying she’s gorgeous, witty and totally rocks. The three of us had lunch, gabbed about stupid blog stuff, and played with vibrating lobsters
What? The restaurant handed them out to us so we’d know when our lunch was ready! Sheesh!
I’d love to end this post by bragging about how after lunch we jetted off to party on a rented lobster boat while we toured lighthouses and Stephen King’s estate, but that’ll have to wait until next year.
As if the six month winter of Snowmageddon wasn’t enough, now us Mainers have something else to bitch about. Our resident prolific bullshit artist, Governor Paul LePage, made national headlines last week by waging a battle of wits with our resident prolific horror writer, Stephen King.
When I say wits I’m only talking about one man. You guess which one.
Here’s how the brouhaha went down: Gov. LePage recently stated in his radio address something like, “Hey! Mainers don’t need no fricking income tax! Look at Stephen King! He lives in Florida! Yeah, that’s right! He’s an asshole!”
To which Stephen King responded with, “Say whaaaaat?”
Apparently, not only does King pay his share of Maine taxes with a million and change every year, I could have sworn I saw him last week at his part time gig selling Bean boots and maple syrup.
In typical political fashion, LePage immediately had his comments erased from the transcript and admitted to nothing on his part. Because clearly it was the news media’s fault for spinning their magic voodoo words to make him look bad. Oh, those pesky news reporters! Always inferring and assuming and hearing words come out of someone’s mouth and attaching meaning to those words.
The next day, Stephen King gazed out at the palm trees, took a long sip from his margarita, cranked up his a/c and responded with, “Be a man. Apologize.”
Instead LePage said in his standard “let’s make a lame joke and this will all fade away” way:
“Just make me the villain of your next book and I won’t charge you royalties.”
Oh! Oh ho ho ho! Oh man! You are such a riot, Paul! But I have news for you, I’m pretty sure all of Stephen King’s villains were based on you.
While we wait for King to unleash the homicidal sewer clown let’s have some fun. I love it when people make stuff up to fit their agenda.
Here, let me try… (keep in mind I am clearly not saying what I am saying. If you infer something, that’s your fault.)
**Local statisticians are stumped as to why Maine’s population is steadily declining. Governor Paul LePage lives here.
**In a recent poll, Maine ranked as the number one state full of idiots. Governor Paul LePage was elected. Twice.
Please, America, I’m begging you to realize these facts:
We did not elect Paul LePage. Eliot Cutler did.
51.8 % of us would rather suffer through ten more winters than one more term with Paul.
We’ve received approximately four feet of snow in a span of two weeks. This is the weather pattern we seem to be locked in until kingdom come: Big snowstorm, followed by 40 mph wind gusts then plummeting wind chill temps of minus-20. Two days later? Well good golly! Another big snowstorm, 50 mph gusts, plummeting temps. This weekend’s forecast? Endless snow until summer.
Conclusion? Clearly, Pa Ingalls was on crack.
2. Driving in big snow is bad. Me no likey driving in big snow.
Yesterday was a breather for us Mainers. Instead of the usual foot or so, we only got about five inches of sloppy, heavy, slushy snow. And because the teachers here don’t want to be stuck in school until mid-August, they kept schools open.
This meant I had to fire up my little tin can on wheels (Prius) and make my way down unplowed back roads that would make Vin Diesel shit his pants.
On the plus side, now my driving skills are spectacular. I managed to pull my own Tokyo drifts at every intersection and narrowly missed being crushed by a city snow plow who apparently mistook my car for a roller skate.
Sadly, I survived to face another day trapped in the Antarctic Circle. Help me. Send hard liquor.
3. The only reason we still have a shred of sanity left is because the Patriots won the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, I didn’t watch the game. I was too busy suffering from a monster sinus/ear infection that rendered me incapable of lifting my head off my pillow. I did manage to listen to the score in between my moaning and groaning. But when I heard the Pats were down by 10 points in the fourth quarter, I threw a few more balled-up tissues at my husband and shut off the TV in disgust.
The next morning my 81-year-old mom called me (she’s a huge Patriots fan and never misses a game):
“Did you see the game? BEST GAME EVAH! BEST SUPER BOWL EVAH!
Tom Brady got MVP and he sure does deserve it! What with all that crap about him deflating balls. Tsk! Tsk! Good lord! How ’bout the Seahawks stick a deflated ball in their pipes and smoke it? Huh? Deflated balls!
But that halftime show! Oh god! That was terrible! Just awful! Katy Perry was out there prancing around with some sharks! So stupid! And her chest is just too big! Way too big! She needs to cover herself up more. Hello! We don’t care that you have a big chest! And then she sang a bunch of songs and just floated away! Well guess what Katy Perry? You sure ain’t no Lady Gaga, I can tell you that!”
4. Getting around town is like navigating the maze in The Shining.
With all this nonstop snow, just venturing outside for a walk or a short drive is a hazard. In some places the drifts are taller than I am. I went downtown to pay my oil bill and had to park three blocks away and hike through the snow because they closed down the entire town for snow removal. Yes folks — the snow here is so bad, they close towns. This was my town’s main street this morning:
As you can imagine, trying to drive around corners when the snow banks are this high is loads of fun. Is there a car coming my way? Will I pull out onto the road straight into the path of a tractor trailer truck? Who the hell knows! So every stop sign I come to, I just say a prayer and gun it.
5. My kids love the snow.
I suppose I should give up and follow their example, huh? Tomorrow I’m installing a hot tub and mini-bar.
So maybe I’ll get back to blogging more once I can take a break from all this shoveling and snow blowing and heavy drinking. I have faith one day it’ll all melt and form one giant tsunami so we can finally begin our Mud Season From Hell.
Our culture doesn’t do so well with death. We don’t like to talk about it or even think about it.
Except for people who were born and raised in Maine. We’re more down-to-earth types who treat death like it’s a bad dentist appointment. Yeah it’s gonna happen to you one day so you might as well suck it up, deal with it, and move on.
My 80-year-old mother cheerfully sat down with me last week to go over her old family photo albums again because, “I might not be here tomorrow.” She has told me this every single day for about 15 years.
Anytime I try to plan something with her, she gives the same response.
“Hey, Mom! Want to drive up to Bar Harbor and see the ocean this August?”
“Sure! But I might be dead by then.”
“Hey Mom! Wanna go to L.L. Bean’s with me this weekend?”
“Sure! But I might be dead by then.”
“Hey, Mom! Want to go out to dinner tonight at that Italian place?”
“What — you’re not planning on dying later today?”
“Well, I’m hoping I die during the meal. Serves them right. They don’t serve Sanka.What kind of a place doesn’t have Sanka?”
So once again last week we sat down to sift through old family pictures because she might die at any second. Her albums are full of faded sepia toned photos displaying the typically stern, emotionless faces of my relatives from the early 1900s.
I’m convinced the photographer must have yelled out the directions, “Frown! Frown harder! Look miserable! You’re sullen! No, I need more sullen! Dour! Do dour! Great! Hold that pose! Yes! You’re sad! Profoundly sad! Hold it! Hooold it! Perfect!”
And most of my relatives died young of a horrible disease. It’s a miracle I exist at all. My mother points her shaky finger to every person in the photo, tells me his or her name and how they died like she’s rattling off her grocery list.
“This is Charlie, died of tuberculosis. He was 35.”
“This is Charlotte. She died of tuberculosis. She was 15 years old.”
“Oh, and this is Sarah. Died of tuberculosis. She was four.”
“What happened to the dog?” I ask. “Please tell me he made it at least.”
After a few more photo albums filled with tuberculosis, my mom likes to throw in a zinger, probably to see if I’m really listening.
“Oh! And this is your great-great uncle Fred,” she smiles brightly and points to a handsome young man sporting a snappy blazer and smoking a cigarette. “He was a pilot and flew his plane straight into the side of a mountain, killed instantly.”
“Wait — are you sure it wasn’t tuberculosis that got him?”
“Darla!” she scowls at me. Then she clears her throat. “Well, actually yes. The coughing is what made him crash the plane.”
My eyes bug out.
“I’m kidding! Kidding! Oh no, the poor man just slammed straight into a mountain! Boom! Never had a chance!” my mom yells, throws her head back and cackles.
There are times in your life when all the day-to-day bullshit is stripped away. When nothing else matters anymore. Maybe it was my body’s refusal to give in to hypothermia as I laid trapped on the frozen driveway. Maybe it was my stubborn inner will to survive no matter the odds.
Maybe it was the fact my mother and brother stood in the window of a warm house just feet away, sucking down my cup of hot coffee.
“Dammit!” I groaned as I rolled onto my knees, still gripping the handle on top of my cat Conan O’Brien’s carrier. “We’ve got to get up this hill!” I cried, my voice muffled by the eerie sound of icy tree limbs cracking in the distance.
I put my entire weight on top of the carrier, using it for support as I struggled to my feet. I slid one foot forward only to slip and fall to my knees again. “Well, Conan,” I whispered to the orange tufts of fur poking through the vents, “I guess walking is out.”
“Ywwwwoooooar,” he said.
I quickly decided the only way up the steep hill was to traverse in a zigzag pattern.
On my stomach.
How long would this journey take? My guess was at least a half hour. That’s if I didn’t slide back down. If only I had something that wasn’t covered in ice. Something that would dig into the glazed hill like a mountain climber’s crampon.
“MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! MEOW!” Conan protested.
“Sorry, bub. But mama needs her java.”
I heaved Conan’s carrier in front of me a few feet to gain some traction and dragged my body across the ice. It’s working! I plodded on, the promise of a cup of piping hot coffee swirling in my mind.
With each climb we slipped back down a few feet, but I was certain we were gaining at least a few inches with every attempt. My mom still stood in the window, offering me a frown and a slow half-hearted wave of her hand for encouragement.
I imagined how my death would be reported on the local news that night:
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP? WOMAN AND CAT DIE FOR CAFFEINE-FIX
JAVA-JUNKIE SUCCUMBS TO ELEMENTS, MIRACLE CAT USES DEAD BODY FOR SHELTER AND SURVIVES!
Our grueling ascent up the hill continued as I repeated the process for another 20 minutes, growing weaker with each cat-toss. I’d allow myself to rest only if I reached the grove of white birch trees in the center of the lawn. Inch-worming a path up the hill on my knees, I soon developed a rhythm: Cat. Crawl. Slide. Cat. Crawl. Slide.
Finally, we reached the front steps. My brother reached out to haul us both to safety.
“Hey! You made it!” he said, knocking back a slug of coffee from his mug.
“Yeah, thanks for your concern,” I said between slurps, already two cups of cold coffee settling in my stomach. My mom’s power had gone out almost as soon as I arrived.
We stood out on the back deck looking at the dark forest in silence. Every few minutes a heavy tree limb in the distance cracked, booming like a shotgun blast as it crashed to the ground.
“How the hell you get here?” I asked. He had finished his shift at L.L. Bean’s distribution center down the road and walked to my mom’s house the night before.
“Oh, I was stuck on the ground for over an hour on the soccer field. Had to crawl most of the way. Might have blacked out a few times. At one point, I thought death was near. But whaddya gonna do?” he shrugged in the typical Mainer way.
Eventually, more family members arrived and we spent a few chilly nights sleeping on the living room floor inhaling toxic kerosene heater fumes. Soon a rumor spread through town that a place not too far from us had power. Not only did they have power, but food. Hot food. And running toilets. It was risky, but we were determined to make the trek.
But nothing prepared us for what we would witness once we arrived at the restaurant:
The zombie apocalypse.
A long line of people snaked out the front door of Friendly’s, all of them hunched over, their hollowed faces weary from an ice storm that was now dragging people into their second week with no power in sub-freezing temperatures.
“Unga bunga ugga….” mumbled an old man with a scruffy beard as he shoved past me to get in line for a cup of broccoli and cheese soup, maybe a Caesar salad if he was lucky.
Civilization was finally breaking down. In horror, I surveyed the line of people in front of me to find a sea of disheveled unwashed clothes and dirty matted hair. A pungent cloud of collective body odor hung over the crowd. Women young and old had abandoned their make-up routines, their faces revealing dark under eye circles and pasty white skin. It was chaos.
But we survived. Us hearty Mainers conquered the Badass Ice Storm of 1998 and lived to tell about it. It’s taken me 16 years to break my silence as I still suffer from nightmares. But I managed to learn a thing or two.
Things the Ice Storm Taught Me:
Power is good.
Don’t feed your cat a steady diet of cheeseburgers and milkshakes because you might have to haul his ass up an icy mountain one day.
Maintaining good hygiene is the most important thing in life.
Eventually, power was restored across the state of Maine.
Darla did get to eat her grilled cheese and bacon that day at Friendly’s.
Darla’s mother lost power for 5 days.
Darla’s apartment had no power for almost 2 weeks.
Darla’s toilet was replaced by her landlord.
Conan O’Brien lived a good happy cat life for the next four years and was never used as a crampon again.
I’m a seasoned Mainer, I’ve dealt with brutal winters for most of my life. But nothing prepares you for the moment you’re forced to use a cat as a makeshift tool to inch your way up an icy mountain or face certain death.
The year was 1998. I was 27 and living alone with Conan O’Brien, my fat orange tabby. I had just finished my shift at work and walked outside one night to find my car encased in a thick layer of ice. It took me an hour to chip away a small window to see well enough to drive home.
Huh, I thought. This sucks.
I arrived at my apartment to find the power already out. The following day the freezing rain the local weatherman predicted would end only intensified. Frigid air seeped in at night, hovering around 20 degrees. I went to bed wearing 12 layers, my winter coat, hat and mittens.
Huh, I thought, my teeth chattering. This really sucks.
On the third day of the ice storm I woke up to find Conan sitting on my head for warmth. He normally wouldn’t go near me unless I fed him. I tried to shove him off my face but my arms had gone numb from the cold. I sighed and a frosty mist shot out my nostrils.
Huh, I thought as he dug his claws deeper into my ear and settled his butt onto my nose. This sucks an incredible amount.Must be the end of the world as we know it? But I don’t feel fine.
No power meant no coffee. A monster of a headache crept across my skull. Dear lord, what was next? I shuffled to my bathroom to discover my toilet was full of icy water and had cracked. Never knew that was possible. I also knew I had to get to a place with power or warmth or I would end up like my toilet.
So I crammed a meowing Conan into a cat carrier, threw a few things in my bag and chiseled the ice tomb off my tiny Ford Fiesta. My destination? My mom’s house 20 minutes away. I knew it was crazy to attempt. But I prefer to not slowly die from hypothermia.
My neighbor warned me most of the major roads out of town were closed. Unfazed, (or just manic from caffeine withdrawal), I slowly drove out of my driveway onto a skating rink. Power lines were down everywhere, lying across the icy roads like dead black snakes. Trees hunched over in despair, their branches touching the ground under the weight of an inch of ice. It looked like hell had finally frozen over.
“But I need my coffee!” I said to Conan. He let out a sad cry.
As I gingerly slid onto the desolate main road, a Central Maine Power guy repairing a frozen power line waved at me to stop. I tapped the brakes, skidding and fishtailing in slow motion about 100 feet. He skated over to my window and said, “Are you crazy? You really shouldn’t be out here.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said. Conan howled.
We continued down the windy road through the ice-encrusted landscape, maintaining a steady clip of about 15 mph. I was hoping I’d make my trip to my Mom’s and have a hot cup of coffee before the end of the world. Although I had a feeling the end was already upon us.
As my car crept along I-95 for over an hour, I noticed I hadn’t seen another soul in any direction the entire drive. Even the plow guys knew better. Conan’s meows intensified.
My harrowing ordeal in the car finally ended when by some miracle I reached the bottom of my mom’s driveway. Her house sat at the top of a steep hill. I glanced up at the warm yellow light streaming out her front windows. Unfortunately, the thick layer of ice that coated everything between the house and my car would prove to be my final yet greatest obstacle.
The car would need to stay in the street, there was no time to waste. I grabbed Conan’s cat carrier and stepped outside onto the crunchy driveway. I slipped and fell down immediately, still managing to hold onto the carrier. Now lying down on the ground flat on my back, I looked up to see my mom and brother in the front window waving enthusiastically at me. I reached over to the car to try to lift myself up but it was no use, everything I grabbed onto was a slippery icicle.
Great. Now I was trapped on the driveway, with no way to pull myself back up to my feet. This was how it was going to end, dying from exposure, a mere 100 feet from the coffee pot.
Conan cried again and a thought sliced through my foggy, caffeine-deprived mind.
“Conan,” I whispered into the slats of his carrier. “Get ready, buddy. We’re gonna get up this godforsaken hill if it’s the last thing we do. Just might be the last thing we do.”
Last week an amazing thing happened. I met two WordPress bloggers in person.
Yes, bloggers are actually human. They exist in an alternate reality I like to call “real life”. And online relationships can turn into genuine friendships. I know, crazy!
Jules from Go Jules Go and Rachel from Rachel’s Table decided to make the trek up to Maine. Not only to possibly catch a glimpse of Stephen King or enjoy the local cuisine — but to see me.
My mind reeled as I imagined all the shenanigans we’d enjoy. Maybe we’d visit L.L. Bean’s at 2 am and try on flannel bomber hats while chugging maple lattes! Or we’d have a pajama party and stay up all hours of the night giggling about boys while braiding each other’s hair! (but if one of them even so much as dared hide my bra in the freezer I would go home immediately)
But first, they had to do the seemingly impossible — drive the six hours up 1-95
(aka The Big-ass Pothole Highway to Hell) to reach me.
Unfortunately, their epic adventure was filled with obstacles like horrible winter weather, a flat tire, and a late-night rescue via tow truck somewhere off 1-495 just north of Boston.
They were supposed to be in Maine Thursday night. I got a message from Jules late that night as I sat anxiously by the phone crafting their friendship bracelets. They were stuck on the side of the cold dark highway with a flat tire.
I thought they’d never arrive. Maybe they could hitchhike? Hop on a scooter? Catch a free ride in the back of a UPS truck?
Fast forward to Friday night — a full 24 plus hours after they had left for Maine — still no blogger peeps. They were trapped in Massachusetts at a repair shop, the victims of endless paperwork and tire rims that had to be “special-ordered”.
I looked wistfully over at my punch bowl full of gin and ginger ale and wept. Why, universe? Why keep us kindred blogger spirits apart? It’s so not fair!Who will drink all this gin? And devour my 50 ft. long Subway with extra pickles?
Well, I would, of course — but it wouldn’t be half as fun without my friends. Maybe more like 10% less fun. I do love my gin and pickles.
But I never lost hope, they would get to this godforsaken frozen hell of a state eventually!
A new day dawned Saturday and they were finally safe and sound in Maine. I booked it to Freeport, giddy that our blogger meet-up was finally becoming reality.
It was so worth all the hassle.
We managed to cram a lot of fun into those 24 hours we had together.
We ate food.
Then we ate more food.
We laughed while drinking and eating.
It was pure magic.
Well, until Jules chose not to heed my warning to “never feed the bears” in the L.L. Bean parking lot. She learned her lesson the hard way.
Thanks Rache and Jules for everything. I love you both.
Be sure to visit their extended version of our bloggy meet-up here at Go Jules Goandhereat Rachel’s Table.
(I’m hoping they don’t publish those photos of me drunk with a lamp shade on my head, weeping and belting out “I Will Survive” on karaoke night.)
Le Clown, author of the hugely popular and super-duper magical blog, A Clown on Fire, recently asked if he could drop by my fair state for a quick visit — maybe chow down on a few hot-buttered lobster rolls or share a shot of blueberry maple syrup.
Naturally, I jumped at the chance.
A clown? In Stephen King’s home state?
It reminded me of something, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it….
Yeah, you don’t wanna miss what happened when
She’s a Maineiac met Le Clown.
Click below to find out if he survives. (insert long, drawn-out maniacal laughter here)
Recently, after endless months of intense brainstorming, some marketing genius came up with a new slogan for our beautiful city of Portland, Maine:
Yes. Life’s good here.™
Yes. That’s the slogan.
It was all over the local news. Some people (businesses) loved it. Many people (the rest of us Mainers) hated it.
A huge part of successful marketing is coming up with clever branding; a way to get people to automatically associate something with something else and I forgot what the hell I was talking about. Oh yeah. You need a good hook. Something catchy and original. Like “what happens in Vegas, stays in Zach Galifianakis’s pants.”
Yes. Life’s Good Here.™
So I took it upon myself to come up with my own slogans. Ways to lure people into this
L.L. Bean-snowshoe-n-Mukluk-wearing, maple syrup-swilling freak show of a state.
Making sure they don’t confuse OurPortland— a place known more for beer guts, plaid-clad rednecks and cow chip throwing contests — for that Other Portland. You know the one — where patchouli-steeped people prance about on environmentally-friendly bicycles while smugly eating free-range chicken and guzzling overpriced lattes.
I can see why people mix us up.
So please. Come here. Because:
Yes. It’s pretty damned cold here.
Yes. The thermometer can go that low.
Yes. I can’t feel my eyeballs.
Yes. I’m wearing fleece underwear.
Yes. That’s All I’m Wearing.
Yes. And I’m outside getting the mail.
Yes. The Winter Makes You Crazy Here.
Yes. We’re Talkin’ Stephen King Nutso.
Yes. This Is Why Stephen King is a Wackadoodle.
Yes. We Have the Worst Governor in History Here.
Yes. Most of Us Did Not Elect Him.
Yes. I Plan On Voting For Stephen King Next Time.
Ayuh. We Have the Worst Accent Heyah.
Naw. Me No Likey Propah Grammah.
No. We Don’t Much Care For Portland, Oregon.
Yes. Portland, Oregon Can Bite Me.
Really. You Have a One-Way Ticket to Portland, Oregon?
And. You’ll Give It To Me?
Yes. I Will Move As Far Away From This Frozen Tundra of Hell As I Can Get. Well, At Least Until July 4th When We Get That One Day of Perfect Weather. Then I’ll Leave Again.
Any other ideas for a slogan? Any slogans you’d like to add for your own state? Any one-way tickets to your state you’d care to share with me?
(disclaimer: Yes. I really love Maine. Yes. I was born and raised here. Yes. I wear plaid.)
Hey guys–all of you who’ve been here awhile and all my new readers, too– I’m about to go on a little blog hiatus for the next few weeks. Maybe ship the kiddos off to summer camp (yeah, right) do a little gardening, drink a few beers, pass out in the pool….y’know, your typical wholesome family fun.
I hope that once the effects of the PBRs, chlorine fumes, and sunscreen-poisoning wear off, I’ll be conscious enough to start posting again sometime late July.
Be sure to come back for my
She’s A Maineiac’s Second Anniversary Blog-a-palooza post on July 21st! (Yes! I’ve actually been blogging that long! I know, it’s nuts, right? My husband thinks so.)
There will be another rockin’ video! Much better than the last one even!
There will be danger!Mild Profanity! Cool music!
Also, another vlog! Where I do something very embarrassing!
And…maybe…some disastrous baton-twirling!
And my first contest! You might win something!
(oh, so NOW I have your attention? I get it, you only want freebies…I understand)
Until then, I’ll miss you all.
See you July 21st, I hope!
(Feel free to use the comment section below for your own amusement during my break. Post hijack at will, chitchat, have private convos about the latest in blogging gossip, share recipes, discuss climate change–but please– keep it friendly while I’m gone….and if anyone else I know gets FP in the next month, here’s my comment in advance: Congrats! WOW! Well deserved! I love you and I’m not just saying that!)