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    Sunday, May 29, 2005


    I have a confession to make. I am a massage junkie. I am totally into paying a complete stranger to rub my body for money. I've had massages on cruise ships, in hotel rooms, at spas where writer's conferences were being held, and once there were even these lovely Balinese twins who massaged in perfect synch, every motion of one mirroring the other. (Hey, get your minds out of the gutter! This was in a legitimate world class spa on a cruise ship!) After a long day of sitting at the computer, my shoulders, neck and back are usually tied up in fist-like knots so I have no problem indulging myself in the luxury of a massage at least once a month.

    For over a year, I had the best masseuse on the planet. Jenny had the tender, healing hands of an angel and best of all, only charged $45/hour. But alas--she was forced to give up the business after being sidelined by a nasty car wreck. I can assure you that her suffering has been NOTHING compared to my own. (Just kidding, Jenny!)

    After three months of suffering in silence, I finally decided to pay her replacement a visit. She was a small woman with short arms, but the long blonde braids should have tipped me off to her torrid past as a Soviet gymnast. From this moment forward, we will simply call her...Helga. Before she began, I told her that I knew I was "knotty", but she didn't really have to apply pressure point therapy because I was more into relaxation than pain.

    Apparently in her language, this translated into, "Hurt me, mama. I like it rough."
    This was a not a massage. It was a mugging. She attacked each body part with equal ferocity and soon I found myself silently praying, "Please, Lord. Just don't let me be paralyzed from the neck down when I leave here!" I struggled to muffle my whimpers of pain and cries for mercy by biting the face rest. While she was pounding my glutes, she informed me that "she had a lot more male clients than females." I could only assume that this was because she had killed most of her female clients.

    My dread grew when she wrapped a towel around each extremity in turn and began to tug with all of her strength, telling me that "one of my clients was 3/4 of an inch taller after I finished with her." I silently began to give thanks that at least she wasn't going to try to stretch my neck. That was right before she came around the table and said cheerfully, "Could you lift up your head?" and proceeded to wrap the towel around my throat.

    After I had limped home, iced various body parts, and made sure I could still wiggle all of my fingers and toes, I related the full extent of my suffering to my husband. He simply blinked at me and said, "Why didn't you just get up and leave?"

    "Leave?" I sputtered. "Are you out of your mind? I was just trying to survive!"

    Later, it occurred to me that it was a valid question. Why didn't I leave? Was I afraid of being rude or embarrassed? Did I think Helga might chase me down and put me in a headlock? I finally decided that there's just something about lying on a massage table wearing nothing but a sheet and your underoos that makes you weirdly passive.

    If you don't hear from me again, you'll know that "Helga" has internet access.

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Teresa Waxes Eloquent on STAR WARS

    Christina Dodd e-mailed me yesterday and was worried about introducing a controversial new subject on the Blog. That's right. She was afraid we'd bring down the wrath of the universe if we politely pointed out that the last STAR WARS movie, STAR WARS II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES...well, to put it reeked.

    Of course, legend has it that George Lucas divorced his wife between the first trilogy and the second and that it was his wife who did most of the actual writing on those original scripts. One of my main problems with the last movie was that I LOATHED the Anakin character and don't see how I can possibly have any regrets when he goes "bad" because all he did was snarl and sulk like some horrible constipated teenager for three hours. (I can't help but ponder an alternate universe where Leo Dicaprio didn't turn down the role.) The romance dialogue between Anakin and Queen Whats-Her-Face made me want to crawl under the seat AND get Natalie Portman another agent. As the moments crawled by, I kept thinking the movie would NEVER end.

    We were with our friends Brian and Vonda when we saw it and me and Vonda finally completely lost it during the Yoda fight when he started "yipping" and doing backflips like Miss Piggy channeling Xena while on amphetamines. We were laughing so hard we were crying and our husbands just kept glaring at us for ruining this pivotal moment of the movie.

    I have to admit that I'll still grudgingly give Mr. Lucas my money to see the final installment. But the recent influx of commercials is a little jarring. How can I take Darth Vader seriously when he's strangling M & M's and his storm troopers are lighting the ovens at Burger King? Should I be impressed by Yoda's wisdom when he's hanging out at some diner with Chewbacca having a soda?

    The main impression I've carried away from these new films is a keen appreciation for...the extraordinary charisma of HARRISON FORD!!! As inventive and wonderful as those first three films were, his wise-cracking swagger is what gave them their heart. (And stole mine.)

    So you can have my money, Mr. Lucas, but my heart will always belong to Han.

    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    Teresa Confesses She's "TSTL"

    Okay, I have a confession to make. I'm TSTL. That's right--My name is Teresa Medeiros and I'm too stupid to live. The first day we moved into our new house, I ran the car into the garage, effectively wrecking both of them. After listening to the song LIFE IN THE FAST LANE by the Eagles at least 10 million times since the 70's, I just figured out the line that says, "There were lines on the mirror" is talking about cocaine, not wrinkles. Only today I risked life and limb (and my beloved Jag) to drive to Starbuck's during a terrible thunderstorm/tornado watch because I couldn't bear to live another moment without a Mocha Lite Frapuccino Grande. So I consider it a personal affront when readers say that they can't stand heroines who are too stupid to live. Just go ahead and kill me now, why don't you? (For other examples of my stupidity, you may contact any of the other Bloggers on this loop by private e-mail and a comprehensive list will be provided to you.)

    But seriously, I hate almost any black and white rules that put limits on my fiction, either writing it or reading it. I want to write about all sorts of characters and my very favorites are characters who make mistakes and learn from them. One of my favorite themes is to follow a girl as she makes the journey toward womanhood. And you know what--girls often do foolish, impulsive things, especially in pursuit of love. Things like climbing out of a window in a ballgown like Lottie in ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL. I love that Connie brought up Lolly in the classic romance JUST A KISS AWAY by Jill Barnett because it was Jill who once said to me, "I love to write about people who make grand and glorious mistakes and who suffer terribly for those mistakes and who are better people for it by the end of the book." Isn't character growth the very definition of well-written fiction? So many things that we used to simply call "a plot" are now dissected mercilessly on the internet as "characters that are TSTL" or "Big Misunderstandings" or "Mary Jane heroines". If we avoid all of these things, then eventually we won't have anything to write about except perfect (and boring) characters and the romance genre will continue to grow even narrower in scope.

    Every one of us has suffered through that moment in the horror movie when the heroine decides to creep down into the cellar all by herself with only a flashlight for a weapon to investigate the mysterious noise. I may shout, "Don't do that, you idiot!" but it doesn't usually make me stop watching the movie. (And while we're on the subject of flashlights, how come those people on CSI don't ever just turn on the freaking lights?!?!?!)

    I would also like to argue that there are all different kinds of smarts in this world. In my book SHADOWS AND LACE, when Gareth asks Rowena how long it's been since she's eaten, she says, "Four days" and holds up three fingers. Is she stupid? No, just uneducated. I once had a fascinating conversation with another writer about Jed Clampett of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Was he stupid? Nope, he was innocent. There's a distinct difference. Was Lucy Ricardo stupid because she managed to get herself into all of those messes? Nope, she was funny.

    I'm a very open-minded reader. Give me characters I can care about and I'll let them get away with murder (sometimes literally). I only have one hard and fast rule--the hero must never, EVER kick a kitten.