I’m Going To Need Bigger Yoga Pants. And Probably a Cheeseburger.

Because this is my blog, and I get to do what I want, we need to talk about binge-watching. This has become a completely legit phenomenon in today’s society thanks to Netflix, Hulu, OnDemand, and even tv series on dvd. (If you’re old-school. Which sometimes I am. I need my Downton Abbey at my fingertips at ALL times.) Even our local cable provider is in on the deal now, hosting the brilliant “Watchathon Week” where they make seasons of hit shows available to marathon to my little introverty heart’s desire.

I can’t help but be both a little sad and relieved that this wasn’t really a “thing” while I was in college*.

On one hand, there’s no way that I would have been able to successfully juggle my 20+ credit semesters, practicing and performing ensembles if I knew that I had a couple of seasons of Dawson’s Creek waiting for me back at the dorm. (WHAT. It was the early 2000s.)

On the other hand, the idea of a lost weekend with my college friends watching smutty tv, not changing out of our pjs and imbibing some TOTALLY legal adult beverages with nothing else to worry about but maybe venturing to the caf for food is completely AMAZING. Kids these days, they’re totally not grateful for these opportunities. Back in my day, the most “social media” we got was posting angsty song lyrics as our AIM away message.

Oh yeah. I went there**.

Anyway, out of the blue I received a tweet on Friday from none other than XFINITY!

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What?! They noticed my obsession with the completely pants-meltingly  face-meltingly amazing “Outlander”?! I was intrigued, so I dm’ed them back.

And look what arrived for me in the mail!

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A complete Watchathon survival kit, including amazing Outlander Swag! Please imagine me jumping up and down for five minutes nonstop. Then texting Army Boy to show him, and resuming jumping up and down for ANOTHER five minutes.

Now, my only problem is deciding just what show to focus on.

Some of my favorites currently?

Outlander– OBVIOUSLY. I don’t even need to tell you how the story of a nurse from the 1940s who gets swept back in time through a stone circle and “rescued” by a clan of highlanders is my favorite thing right now. Ever. If you have feelings or want to have feelings, you should probably watch it. It’s on Starz, but the whole first half of the first season is available On Demand right now for Xfinity/Comcast customers. You can ALSO buy it on dvd wherever fine Scottish Men dvds are sold.

ER– Somehow Army Boy never got into this series! We’re buying a season at a time and marathoning it. Before tv doctors were Mc-Anything, this show set the bar high on medical drama. Noah Wyle! Young George Clooney! Alex Kingston! Anthony- do I really have to continue? Because I could. My college ritual involved putting on pjs and running across campus to watch every new episode with my bff Jeff.

The Only Way Is Essex– I’ve tried SO hard to get my friends as addicted to this UK phenomenon as I am! This show is available on Hulu, and is basically Britain’s answer to the Jersey Shore. Ridiculously attractive early-20-somethings hook up, fall out, and always look fabulous. I really want to hang out with them. Really really. There are 13 seasons available, so tuck in and enjoy!

Nashville– I KNOW. I have no idea why I’m so behind the curve on this one, but I’ve been watching it on Hulu and it’s just so juicy! Season one was a little slow, but season two picked back up with more music, more scandal, and loads of juicy relationships. Sometimes I find my eyes leaking from a particularly poignant performance. It’s so embarrassing.

The Originals– I never got into “The Vampire Diaries,” because I read the books back during Twilight Fever and was not impressed. The characters were flat, the setting boring, the vampireyness not too sexy… Needless to say I didn’t really give it a try. However, this spin-off series set in New Orleans with the “original” vampire family features witches and werewolves, and enough bitchy one-liners to keep me laughing. I’m watching this one on Netflix.

What else should I be watching on Netflix/Hulu/etc? Have you ever had a lost weekend due to marathoning tv? Pull up a chair, we’re all friends here.

This post was not really sponsored by Outlander OR XFINITY, I just got super excited. It happens. Now excuse me while I go put on even faker pants and resume sitting on my butt. For… science?

*- I just got invited to my TEN year reunion. From College. How did we get to this point?! Someone hold me.

**- since you asked, YES favorites did include Ani DiFranco, Jimmy Eat World and Dar Williams. Shut UP.

Txting Mr Darcy Gets PWNED: An Interview with Erika Mitchell (Part One!)

Author photo courtesy of E. Mitchell

Today, I am thrilled to host my very first REAL LIFE PUBLISHED AUTHOR (yes. Caplock was necessary) for an intimate fireside chat. Ok, let’s pretend it was intimate and fireside. Without being creepy. I should really just stop talking now.

When Erika asked if I wanted to do a giveaway of her book, I jumped at the chance. We’ve been blogfriends for a number of years, and I thought it would be fun for the rest of you to get to know her as well. We’ve discussed everything from weddings to surviving the zombie apocalypse, and it’s been a blast to follow her evolution from newlywed, to new mom, to published author.

Without further ado…

When I first started reading your personal blog, you were pregnant with your son Aidan and working for Bottle Your Brand. What led you to take the leap into writing full-time?

I’m not sure whether to blame my husband or my son for that decision! The older Aidan got, the less he slept. I used to get all my work and writing done while he was sleeping, and the shorter his naps got, the grumpier I got trying to fit it all in. Wes, being the supremely supportive man he is, told me to stick with the writing if I had to pick just one extracurricular activity.

How do you balance working from home and being a mom? Are some days easier than others?

It’s a precarious balance, to be sure. The problem with being a stay at home mother is that there’s ALWAYS work to do around the house. I’ve had to train my brain to ignore everything but my writing when it’s time to work. So long as my son sleeps, my husband doesn’t need anything, and there’s no housework to be done, writing is super easy! *snort*

What drew you to writing thrillers?

I started out writing chick lit, but couldn’t seem to stop writing in clichés. My brain tends to function as a perilous, thrilling place anyway, so I decided to give thrillers a try. They’re so much fun to write, I’m not even sure they qualify as work.

How much of Pwned came from personal experience?

Other than Sean’s writing in a coffee shop, I made it all up. I interviewed as many gamers as I could to get a feel for the culture, and I learned how to play Starcraft and watched a whole bunch of tournaments and livestreams, but other than that I made everything up on the spot.

When I was in college, the guys I lived me insisted that I play by “Bumke” whenever I wanted to join their many games of “Halo”. The main character of PWNED goes by the gaming handle CaptainObvious. What is YOUR gamer alias?

Smokey. I was drunk when I christened myself with that moniker and I have absolutely no intention of changing it.

There are so many directions that I could go with that… but some things are best left unsaid. Bumke out. Niner.

Are some of the characters in the book based on people that you know in real life? Can you give us a clue as to which ones?

Some of the people in the book are real-life professional Starcraft rock stars. Day9 is a gaming commentator, and Tasteless and Artosis are the official English Starcraft gamecasters for the GSL, but I’ve never met any of them. I try not to base my characters off people I know, but I’ll pick up quirks or mannerisms from my friends and family and throw those in there if I’m feeling spicy.

How did you know that you had a really promising novel with PWNED? What prompted you to take the step of working to get it published? 

I came up with the idea for this book after watching my husband watching Starcraft commentary. He introduced me to the world of esports and I thought it could make for a fun thriller. When it was done I knew it wasn’t The Great American Novel but I figured it was an entertaining read at the very least. I figured I’d put it out there and introduce some more people to professional Starcraft and esports.

It’s certainly a very different basis for a thriller than the typical “murder/espionage/theft/monkey-virus” plots that came before.

Who do you trust to read your work before you’re ready to publish?

The people I trust to read my stuff before it goes live are so few I can count them all on one hand minus my thumb. They’re the rare friends/family who will actually follow through when they say they want to read my stuff.

How much do you typically outline before you write? 

None. I’m what’s known as a “pantser”, which means I write by the seat of my pants. I basically meet my characters, get them into trouble, and then watch and see how they get themselves out of it.

Norman, the novel’s antagonist,  devises a complicated scheme to keep Sean, his biggest rival, detained in the US and unable to compete in the GSL (Global Starcraft League) tournament. Did you have a basic idea of his trickery before you started writing, or did it come to you as you advanced the plot?

I had to research Noman’s trickery quite a bit, so I had a really good idea of what it was going to look like. His character arc took me by surprise, though. I wasn’t expecting him to change so much.

He certainly doesn’t follow a typical plotline for a villain. And… I have to admit this… the whole time I was reading, I kinda pictured him as a younger Wayne Knight (aka “Newman” from Seinfeld). Nervous energy and all!

You’re a California native, and live in Seattle now- how much research did you have to do to convincingly set parts of your novel in Washington DC and Korea?

I have a friend who lives in the DC area, so I picked his brain quite a bit for the NSA scenes. As for South Korea, Google is an author’s best friend! I read tour guides, pored over maps, and watched so many weird South Korean YouTube videos I could cry.

While we’re on the topic of research, what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever caught yourself looking up for the purpose of a novel?

When I was writing Enemy Accountant, I had to look up Rules For a Gunfight (seriously, go Google that. So fun!) and how to assemble and work with C4. As for PWNED, I did a lot of research on private planes, which was fun, and also on the parts of The Patriot Act which deal specifically with potentially seditious information on personal computers. The legal aspects of PWNED are meticulously researched and as true as I can make them without getting personally arrested.

Dun dun dunnnn!!! Ok, in case you haven’t entered our GIVEAWAY yet, you must want to after reading that cliffhanger! Make sure to check back tomorrow for the conclusion of my chat with Erika, and feel free to give her a shout out on Facebook. She’s really as awesome as she seems. I promise. 😉

City Mouse, Country Mouse

Last Thursday was a perfect example of all the things that I love about living in a small town in the middle of nowhere. I can go from shopping in the morning with Mom and spending far too much money at Sephora (Hi Army Boy!)(Crap), to making the rounds at the yearly town fair within a matter of hours. We’re a short drive from the nearest “city,” and a decent train trip from NYC and DC. And I can take photographs of animal genitalia.

After spending money on the many powders and potions that we women count among our secret weapons, I got home late in the afternoon, and shared tales of my girls’ day with Army Boy. Not knowing my schedule that day, we hadn’t planned anything definite for dinner. Instead, we were going to hit up the Fair to take in the sights and indulge in the naughtiness of fair food.

We pulled into the parking lot at the high school, and left our car for the walk to the fairgrounds. As we passed the high school football field and watched the crowds of people all drifting toward the same location, I was struck with a wave of nostalgia and rightness. I feel so lucky to have the chance to buy a house in the town that I grew up in, with a man who has the same desires as I do for a home and family.

When I was a middle and high school student, Fair week was a huge deal. It was the first chance to see some classmates you hadn’t seen all summer, and to take stock of how everyone had changed. Someone had a new hairstyle, someone had gotten hotter, and unexpected new “couples” had emerged.

Last year, one of our first dates was to the Fair. We still hadn’t clarified the fact that we were “dating”, since he was still “married.” We made the rounds, and sat in the massive food court area surrounded by food trucks to engage in the true fair sport: people-watching. It was a limited success, since the people we ran into happened to be his wife’s brother. (Awkward!!)

This year was a totally different perspective, now that we’re engaged and have chosen to make our life in town. We were imagining bringing our kids there in future years, and seeing the whole experience anew through their eyes.

Initially, we wandered around the grounds for a while trying to decide what we wanted to eat. I used the opportunity to snap some pictures and try to capture the feeling of the atmosphere. We meandered back to the livestock area, and watched children squealing with delight as they held baby bunnies and visited with calves in the petting zoo. I made sure to take a picture of the first place-winning rabbit for one of The Yezel’s sisters, because it was SO FLUFFY!!@! We saw the sheep getting lined up for the show ring, and visited with the huge, passive cows as they were eating their dinner.

In true going-to-hell fashion, Army Boy announced that all the cows had made him crave a cheese-steak, and we headed back to the main fairgrounds to get some dinner.

I saw that a booth from the local radio station had been set up, any my favorite morning show djs were there. Typically, I would have gawked a little bit and walked away, being afraid of looking like a “nerd.”

The last year of spilling my guts on the Internet has taught me something- have balls (my lord, I talk about balls alot in this post, don’t I?). Do what you want to in all situations. Be authentic to yourself, whether it’s being a nerd, a know-it-all or a hopeless fangirl. You won’t regret being genuine.

I handed Army Boy the camera, and we went over to the booth.

“Hi!” the female dj greeted us warmly.

“Hi! I love you guys, do you mind taking a picture with me?” I asked.

“Sure!” The male dj replied, and they both came out of the booth to meet us, shake hands and take pictures. The male dj is a New England transplant, so we were able to swap stories of vacations in New England and trips to Block Island. They were amazingly cool, and I’m so glad that I “nutted up,” so to speak. Now I have a super cool picture of the 3 of us.

After that, what can only be described as gluttony began. I was on a very specific mission for two staples of deep fried cuisine- pickles, and twinkies. I’d heard raves about each from various sources, and made the Fair my excuse to totally indulge. The pickles quickly became a disappointment, as we’d staked out the fried veggie stands and not come across anything of the pickled variety.

Alas. Woe is me. Where are the funnel cakes?

Army Boy followed through on his threat to eat a cheesesteak, while I enjoyed a gyro. We also split the mythical funnel cake, and started to make our way back to the exit. On the way, I had to stop and get my yearly indulgence: cotton candy. No, I’m never growing up.

We were also suckered in by the stand of a local maple syrup producer, and treated ourselves to a bottle of the good stuff. There are very few items about which I’m a food snob, and real maple syrup is one of them. You just can’t beat it.

Just when we were almost out of the crowd and our wallets were breathing a collective sigh of relief, I spotted it.

“DEEP FRIED TWINKIES!!”

I grabbed Army Boy by the arm, feeling like I’d found a mythical treasure. “Look!” I pointed, slightly manically.

“Oh no,” he looked at me fearfully, still stuffed from our previous culinary conquests. Within minutes, there were two golden Twinkies spinning lazily in a hot tub of oil, ready for us to demolish them.

We tried, in all honesty. Had we left out the previous fried delight, it may have been possible. There’s only so much saturated fat that human beings can consume in a short period of time, and we both reached our limit. My lack of gallbladder started protesting strongly that THIS IS A BAD IDEA, and we called it a night after just a few bites.

Those few bites were totally worth it, and completely heavenly though.

The day after, I had a killer case of heartburn and felt in need of detox. But I considered the evening a smashing success. Deep-fried Twinkies, schmoozing with local celebs and seeing the biggest pair of sheep testes ever encountered… I’d say that about covers it.

My Front Lawn Is A Brothel.

Tonight, Army Boy and I had the brilliant idea that we were going to bake cupcakes.

This story? Totally not about that.

We were in the kitchen doing dishes, and enjoying the smell of delicious baked goods wafting through the room, when Army Boy turned to me with a puzzled expression.

Talk about a clusterf#%k

“Is the tv on?” I listened for a minute, and heard something that sounded like ducks quacking.

“No, but the window’s open…” I said, drifting toward said window. As I pushed aside the curtains, I was completely unprepared for what was taking place on my front lawn.

It was AN ORGY. Of the duck variety.

Three male ducks were totally gangbanging a female. And they were all quacking at the top of their hearty duck lungs.

*cue Barry White*

“OHMIGOD!” I yelped. “It’s duck sex! Duck sex on our grass! Looklooklooklook!!” I pointed frantically toward the feathered ball of writhing ecstasy on the grass.

“HOLY. CRAP.” Army Boy paused, sponge in midair. “Where’s your camera.”

Fortunately, it was close at hand, as we were recording the cupcake apocalypse that we’d created prior to baking them. Red Velvet batter really looks gruesome before cooking.

I grabbed the camera and tiptoed to the front door, having absolutely no qualms about being a peeping tom in this little session of winged porn. Unfortunately, we have an older front door which is impossible to open quietly, and it alerted the ducks to my presence.

The female managed to take advantage of the distraction and darted toward my neighbor’s property, but the males quickly surrounded her again, honking as one hopped on top and started going to town. I barely had time to fire off two shots, and suddenly the event was over as suddenly as it had started.

I stepped back from the door and looked at Army Boy, unsure whether to be stunned or start laughing hysterically.

The ducks were puffing their chests out and flapping their wings, all four of them stretching as if to say “Was it good for you?”

“You know what this reminds me of?” AB mused. “The scene, from ‘500 Days of Summer’?”

If I were remotely confused, he proceeded to act it out for me, puffing his cheest out and strutting jauntily, while quacking out the melody. (If you’re confused? The video is below. :))

That sent me over the edge, and I was reduced to sitting on the floor, laughing until tears came down my cheeks.

Our elderly neighbors are probably scandalized. First, two whippersnappers move in with their little silver cars and their satellite dish, and now there’s fornication all over the place.

Don’t even get me started on what’s going to happen when those eggs finally hatch. There’s going to be an episode of Maury, with that damn envelope and two different “You are NOT the father!” verdicts… Those ducklings are going to need a shitload of therapy.

This neighborhood’s really going to the dogs I tell you.

Or the ducks.

Cohabitation Update: Spiders and Centipedes and Stinkbugs, Oh My!

First things first, I have to say THANK YOU. I waffled so much about whether or not to publish my last post. Did I really want to go there? And talk about GOD on my blog?! 

Shockingly, I got some amazing feedback on that post. It was all extremely well thought-out, expressed and most importantly respectful. Wow.

After playing Insect Vigilante for the 50th time this morning, I was inspired to write an update on how things are going over here at Casa de TxtingMrDarcy.

We Got Bugz.

That is all.

Actually, no, that’s not all. But it continues to surprise me the sheer amout of life this one small house can hold. When we initally moved in and started cleaning, it was the spiders. All shapes and sizes, all of which required me to shrilly summon Army Boy and force him to commit insect homicide.

“That’s great!” family reassured us. “It means you have a dry house!”

“Dry is good,” I agreed to Army Boy. “I don’t do spiders, but I REALLY don’t do centipedes.” *shudder*

Guess what we started seeing next? BABY centipedes. Down in the basement. And where there are babies?

There are MOMMIES AND DADDIES. *shudder shudder gah gah gick gick ew!*

Sure enough, we saw our first monster running across the living room floor that evening. Again with the “Aaaaaaarrrrrmy Boooooy!”

These live in my basement. For serious.

(Here’s a secret: When Army Boy is home? There is no way in hell I am going near these beasts. But when I’m by myself, and the only way to dispose of them is to just woman up and squash em? I totally can. I just did about 10 minutes ago before throwing a load of laundry in. Yes. I am proud. You could have put a saddle on this thing. Much like the pony spider from a few weeks ago. It was the Kraken of centipedes. YES I saw “Clash of the Titans,” I’m a nerd. Would you have expected any less?)

Then there are the Stink Bugs. These are the James Bond of the Insect World. You make sure that all of your windows are totally sealed and that there is no way they’re getting in? And as you stand there with your arms crossed in triumph one will inevitably saunter across your window, all “Whut. You think you’re keeping me out? HA.”  As anyone who has dealt with these knows, if they see you coming to squish them they will employ their most effective weapon against you- stinkage. Now you are stuck in a sealed-up house that smells like ass and bug guts. FAIL.

We’re still having issues with our plumbing, which is unsurprising since it is an older home that was unoccupied for about 6 months. That doesn’t mean that I handle it in a mature way when my sink backs up YET AGAIN HOLY GOD, but I can accept that things could be worse.

The house almost seems to be aware of its limitations, because when we fired up the air conditioning for the first time this week (It’s upper 80s here in PA. And migraines are fun. The end.) it worked like a charm.

Army Boy and I are doing well with adjusting to living together. Apparently watching my mother run a house for years paid off, allowing me to easily switch to the mindset of noticing that the floor needs to be vacuumed, the bathroom could use to be freshened up and we’ve got at least one load of laundry to do. Meanwhile, Army Boy thinks in a more linear way. Plus, he’s completely wonderful at offering to get things done before I get home each day.

Quite frankly, I thought it would be more of a struggle to adjust to each other’s habits and idiosyncracies, but for now I’m going to consider myself extremely lucky and go with the flow.

As long as the flow doesn’t include more insects. BLEEECH.

Home is Where the Less-Than-Three Is

Here at TxtingMrDarcy, when we decide to do something, we do it FAST.

Except for, like, maybe The Sex. Because sometimes that’s just not cool.

See? That was a tangent. And it took me only one sentence to both overshare AND completely get off topic. I’m back now. Promise.

Since changing our focus to House Hunting, Army Boy and I pursued it with an almost rabid determination.

Sort of like My Fascination with Random Capital Letters.

See? Did it again. Damn Tangents.

Anyway, it appears that we were, in fact, successful adults. In the next few weeks, we will be preparing for the inhabitation and introduction of “Casa TxtingMrDarcy.”

In other words, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE.

*omgsquee!!*

Of course, we’ll know more after the inspection (YES, I watch my HGTV and TLC, dammit!) and other arrangements later this week. But the important thing is that after a weekend of incredible OMG and omg and OMGNOWAY and omgcrap… We made an offer and it was accepted.

I now return you to your normal, non-ADD Tuesday morning.

(ps- is ‘inhabitation’ even a word? do i even care? shit, i’m TIRED.)