True Confessions, or What’s Really on my iPod

by Michelle Gagnon

Recently my household has been debating the relative merits of lying (living with a toddler will do that to you-it’s amazing what a person will say to get them to eat their vegetables sometimes). And that got me thinking about the truth, and the complicated relationship most of us have with it. How honest are we, really? When there’s a passenger in my car, I make sure to tune the radio to NPR (which, if I’m being truthful, I rarely listen to), instead of the club mix station that jars me awake on a long drive (or a short one: again, the truth hurts). So I’ve decided to seize this opportunity to come clean about several things I’ve managed to keep quiet for years.

Music:

I have wide and varied taste in music. For someone in her late-thirties, I consider myself to be fairly hip (although I suspect most teenagers would scoff at my collection). I’ve not only heard of No Age, I own a few of their songs. But if one were allowed unfettered access to my iPod, you would also stumble across (gasp) Kelly Clarkson. “Good music to jog to,” I would say defensively (which would also be a lie—I only run when I’m being chased). Now I know what you’re thinking, there’s no real shame in listening to Kelly Clarkson, a lot of people love her music. True. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover…the soundtrack to the Broadway show Rent. A remix of the song “Holding out for a Hero,” from the second Shrek movie. And the pièce de résistance: LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.” Shocking, I know. But not nearly as bad as…

TV:

…what I watch on TV. I shake my head and tsk at cocktail parties when everyone deplores the sad state of programming that relies increasingly on reality shows showcasing our depravity. Then I go home and flip on “America’s Next Top Model.” I can’t help myself. When Tyra Banks reads the names off, one at a time, agonizingly slowly, emphasizing each syllable: “Only eight of you will continue on to become Americas…Next….Top…Model…,” I am absolutely riveted.

Mind you, I do have some standards. That Chef that apparently just screams at people for money? No need for him. Neither will I lower myself to watch anything that involves swapping family members, desert islands, trying to hook a millionaire, or D-list celebrities trapped in any sort of situation together. (Or singing. I’ve never really enjoyed watching people sing, for some reason). But “Top Chef,” “The Apprentice,” “So You Think You Can Dance”…I am your bitch.

As an aside, let me just mention that at one of those cocktail parties, a group of extremely cultured female friends was discussing how they only still possess their televisions so that they can watch films (with subtitles, I’m guessing). I joked, “Such a shame, now you have no idea what’s happening on ‘Project Runway,’” and they turned to me en masse and began to chatter excitedly, “Ohmigod, can you believe they voted off Kit? I was shocked!!!”

So I’m guessing I’m not alone in my shame. Just brand a big red letter “R” on my chest and let’s call it a day. Oops, I almost forgot the best of them all…

Movies:

Ok, this one I’m not so ashamed of. Heck, I’ve already said in other blog posts that “movie critic” would be my dream job, and it states right in my bio that my weakness is Hollywood blockbusters. Honesty at last, right? But in throwing that right out there in the open, I neglected to mention one thing: although I love movies, it has been a long, long time since I have watched what would qualify as cinema. I finally caved to reality and canceled my Netflix subscription, because I would invariably order a critically-acclaimed film, hold on to it for months, then mail it back unopened. I had a terrible habit of putting movies in my queue that a different Michelle would watch, a better Michelle, one who really enjoyed reading as she watched a movie. The real Michelle tossed that envelope on top of her DVD player with a slight twinge of guilt and settled in to watch “Independence Day” for the umpteenth time. On network television. With commercials. Terrible, I know.

So there you have it, skeletons marched out of the closet, dirty little secrets tromped out for all the world to see. Time to fess up: what are you hiding?


0

Welcome to…THE KILL ZONE!!!

By Michelle Gagnon

That sounds so ominous, doesn’t it?

So I drew the short straw for the inaugural Kill Zone posting. It’s a lot of pressure. I feel the need to write something weighty and momentous, a breathtaking post befitting the gravitas of a blog launch.

After a week of pondering, I’ve still got nothing. So in lieu of providing an illuminating perspective on an important issue, I’m going to do a whiny wrap-up of my recent book tour instead. With any luck, John and Clare have come up with something more impressive for their turn. A person can always hope, right?

And away we go…

My Book Tour, aka “Death March with Signing Pen”

Just to clarify, I’m not really complaining. I’m know that I’m lucky to have books published, luckier still that people appear to be reading them, and that foolish booksellers allow me into their stores armed with my bookmarks and refrigerator magnets. I love bookstores in general, and I’m a shameless performer, so the opportunity to get up in front of people and pontificate is something you’ll have to pry from my cold dead hands. That said, as I enter week four of my book tour (which I’ve officially dubbed “death march with signing pen”), I have come to notice the downside. I’m truly a homebody at heart; I love spending ninety percent of my time locked indoors with little but a keyboard for company. So being gone for extended periods of time is not only wearing, it makes me start missing things…

1. Food: I have no idea how a person manages to eat dinner during these tours. I leave my house around 5PM to get to most of these events, and then I generally get home around 10 or 11PM. Most local restaurants have closed by the time I’ve finished reading, and when I get home I don’t have the energy to assemble a bowl of cereal. Seriously, I haven’t had a hot meal in weeks. I’m wasting away. I’ve developed a theory that this is how Lee Child remains so svelte.

2. Television: I’m way behind on my programming. I’ve actually had to delete things from my Tivo UNWATCHED to make space for more critical shows. Which presents a horrible conundrum for me: though I have yet to watch the HD version of “The Science of Sleep,” I had intended to watch it someday. Will it be on again in the future? Can I really risk deleting it in favor of an episode of Project Runway?
Which leads to my next concern: as far behind as I am on my regular series, I’m completely in the dark when it comes to reality shows. This might not seem grave to some of you, but when my husband has a better idea of who might win “So You Think You Can Dance” than I do, things have gone horribly awry.

3. Company: I can pretty much guarantee that if you do more than a few tour stops with the same author, the two of you will quickly adopt the worst attributes of an old married couple. So it was with Simon Wood and I. Early on, we found each other charming. He chuckled at my “accidentally killed off my main character” story, I gasped during his “trapped at an underground fight club in Tulsa” anecdote. But the bloom quickly faded, and by week three we were sniping at each other, rolling our eyes, and generally behaving like the main characters in “The War of the Roses.”

4. Family: Granted, this should have come first. You know things are getting bad when your kid stops recognizing you. All right, I’m exaggerating (I am a writer, after all) but after being gone for five days, then heading out for a different corner of the Bay Area every night, it does become a little surreal. Plus, I reflexively tried to sign my name on my toddler the other day. Not good.

5. Beds: Of course, at times the beds have been the least of my problems. There was, for example, the Days Inn behind the strip club in San Diego, with all sorts of sketchy characters lurking in the corridor outside my room. But a month of sleeping on strange beds does tend to wreak havoc on my spine.

6. Flights: I’m not a nervous flyer; in fact I used to look forward to getting on a plane and going somewhere exotic. Now that I’ve spent the past four weekends getting on and off planes, I have a few…let’s call them helpful suggestions…for the airlines. For instance, why not take off on time? I swear, I haven’t been on a trip in over six months that didn’t experience a two-to-five hour delay at the airport (or better yet, on the tarmac). And hey, is it really so difficult to have some form of nourishment available? I’ll pay for it; I would just love to be able to purchase that twenty-dollar mealy sandwich on the plane if I didn’t have the opportunity to grab one during my two mile-long sprint from gate 1 to gate 50 as I changed flights. And while we’re on the subject, consider turning off the seatbelt sign from time to time (an especially good idea during that three hour-long stint on the tarmac). When the person next to you maintains a running monologue on the size of their bladder, as the flight crew flips through celebrity rags and growls at anyone attempting to get out of their seats, it becomes abundantly clear that the glory days of civilian jetsetting have drawn to a tragic close.

So, anyone else have war stories to share? Best comment receives a signed edition of my first thriller THE TUNNELS. If you don’t win, console yourself by signing up for my newsletter at www.michellegagnon.com and I’ll toss your name in the hat for an Amazon Kindle, iPod Shuffle, Starbucks gift certificates, and other fabulous prizes.

Michelle Gagnon is a former modern dancer, bartender, dog walker, model, personal trainer, and Russian supper club performer. Her debut thriller The Tunnels was an IMBA bestseller. Her latest book, Boneyard, depicts a cat and mouse game between dueling serial killers. In her spare time she frantically watches television in an attempt to make room on her tivo drive.

0