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Showing posts from May, 2007

Where Was I?

I saw my friend Opal at work tonight and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Do you realize it's been almost a week since you've blogged? When are you going to blog?"

Oops.

Okay, in my defense:

A) I've had two weeks of out of town company that want to do EVERYTHING there is to do in the Nashville area. Yes, it's been fun. But I've been crazy busy.

B) I had no idea anyone would miss regular updates to this blog.

Sooo, I promised to blog tonight for Opal and I have (two new messages below this). I will be more consistent. I will put you before sleep, before email, before food - okay, that's last one is a bald-faced lie but still, you get the picture.

I've missed blogging.

I'm back.

How To Get Thrown Out Of A Volleyball Game

1. Give a friendly "hello" to the ref sitting up in his tiny silver chair above the net.

2. Assume that ref pays constant attention to the location of the volleyball at all times.

3. Spend entire time before game starts practicing only underhand serves so as to save your thunder for the game.

4. Assume that ref pays constant attention to the location of the volleyball at all times.

5. Serve underhand only at your first turn as server. This lulls the opposing team into a sense of complacency.

6. Assume that ref pays constant attention to the location of the volleyball at all times.

7. Believe coach knows what he's talking about when he tells you to serve overhand next turn.

8. Assume that ref pays constant attention to the location of the volleyball at all times.

9. Obey coach and serve overhand: use extreme care (some might call it timidity but they would be wrong) knowing that you do not yet have full control over your serve. Drive ball into net three times in a row and los…

Sleep

dawn will come
a subtle shift
of light as shadows
begin to lift

my eyes will open
a sudden moment
that rips at dreams
before i know it

and i will rise
and i will run
and i will do
what must be done

but until then
i'm captive here
where decadence
aligns with fear

and monsters swirl
past my thoughts
i try to sieze them
all for naught

i run through thorns
but cannot bleed
i hold the key
but am not freed

i breathe out passion
breathe poison in
cliffs fall away
and i dive in

i cannot swim
i cannot drown
i cannot fly
or touch the ground

the glorious
is possible
i find i am
invincible

so let the sun
draw back this curtain
that hides what might be
from what is certain

the promises i've made
will keep
and until then
i sleep

This Ain't No Free Show

I've lived in my current home for almost four years. 46 months, to be precise. In that time, I've grown to love and respect many of my neighbors and thought they appreciated me as well.

They did.

For very different reasons.

Our home sits at the entrance to a cul de sac in a neighborhood where yards are large and line of sight extends through several blocks worth of houses. In fact, the back of my home can be seen from a major road, two other cul de sacs, and from most of the homes on my own street.

A few months ago, one of the teenagers who lives next door and babysits for me often, dropped a most unwelcome bombshell.

She said, "You know your privacy glass in your master bathroom doesn't work, right?"

WRONG!

How am I supposed to know that? I never watch myself get undressed and into the bathtub that rests right below our large picture window. Apparently, I'm the only one who doesn't.

I ran upstairs and turned on the light while my husband ran to the backyard…

Well, I Feel Safer

Yesterday, my dad flew out from California to visit. My dad, as anyone who's kept up with this blog now knows, is the MASTER PACKER. Often, this skill involves the use of unusual containers to accomplish his mission.

My dad is also a gardener and, being from central California, has an amazing crop of boysenberries this year.

I love boysenberries.

I don't grow berries. I don't grow anything. I kill plants on a regular basis. I walk by potted plants in the supermarket and they cringe in terror.

My dad decided to bring some berries to me.

This is not easily done on a long flight.

The MASTER PACKER kicked into high gear and formulated a plan. He froze bags of berries and searched for a container that would keep them relatively cool and stop any leakage.

He found his answer in a large empty plastic cat litter bucket, complete with lid. Yes, my parents save these. Yes, he washed it first. He labeled the outside "Frozen boysenberries. Keep cool." I think he assumes more …

Missing Miss Snark

Those of you who are not authors and are therefore not addicted to reading blogs by literary agents, bear with me.

Two days ago, the online literary community lost one of our most influential (and most entertaining!) blogs. Miss Snark, the venerable literary agent from the 212 who dreamed of Clooney while stalking about in her stilletos and swilling bathtub gin, closed her blog.

I feel bereft.

Miss Snark was my daily breakfast stop. My lunch stop. My just-before-bed stop. I was addicted to Snark. She offered insights into the publishing world, gave impeachable advice for landing an agent, and volunteered hours of her time to critique hooks, queries, and first pages.

She did it all as only Miss Snark could - with inimitable style and scathing wit. She was at once brutally honest and startlingly compassionate. She called a spade a spade, whether in saying a piece of writing was far from ready or in revealing an unethical agent or contest as a scam.

She honored writers, individually an…

Why Don't They Do THIS At The Olympics?

Despite the fact that I am fairly uncoordinated (oh, okay, "fairly" doesn't begin to cover it but hey - this is MY blog. I can say what I want.), I love sports. Maybe it's my fiercely competitive nature or maybe it's the chance to scream bloody murder at some poor schmuck in a black and white shirt but I do love sports.

Recently, I discovered a sport in which I truly excel.

Power shopping.

Before all you men reading this can complete that (very unattractive) eyeroll, I'd like to point out that there is NO WAY on God's green earth you could enter a shopping mall at one end, wearing adorable but slightly uncomfortable shoes, and exit the other end having purchased three nicely coordinated outfits (jewelry included!) that took eight stores, seven dressing rooms, and three escalator trips to accomplish.

In an hour and a half.

This is "sport" at its finest.

It takes teamwork - one person enters the dressing room while two others power-walk the store, …

Lemonade?????

Two years ago, I worked as a waitress for a restaurant that was just opening. (Note to self, don't do that again...) We had a fairly full service bar, including sixteen wines to complement our Italian food. The owner, who possessed a shockingly small amount of common sense, decided that we should all taste the different wines so we would know how to describe them to our tables.

Fine and dandy.

Two problems. One, his idea of wine tasting was to fill a styrofoam cup 1/2 full and hand it to you. (16 of those...you figure out the alchohol content). And two, he decided to do this right before the restaurant opened for the night.

I don't drink.

I have excellent reasons for this, not the least of which is my complete inability to tolerate anything but the smallest amount of alchohol.

I was ordered to drink.

I sipped carefully of each cup - never draining it eagerly like many of my fellow waitresses were doing. I knew I had an empty stomach so I was deliberately taking not more than …

Let That Be A Lesson To You

I inherited my cat, Taz, from my parents when she was 1. ("Inherited" sounds like they died when really, it was just that they constantly rescue cats and had 5 or 6 at the time. I got married and moved out - I took a cat with me.)

Taz is a gorgeous black and white cat who lives her life with confidence and the occasional side of attitude.

She was a kitten when we rescued her and her digestive track took a while to adjust to her new, consistent food supply. In fact, for the first month or so, her digestive track was so bad, she would fart - copiously - all the time.

Especially when she jumped into your lap. Something about the force of her landing caused major gas to erupt.

It stunk.

Badly.

My dad was usually on the receiving end of this treatment as a) he would sit in his recliner and she viewed that as an invitation to join him and b) he has a nose sensitive enough to rival a bloodhound. (Many a day we watched him scowl and sniff and announce to everyone that there was poop in …

Deep Thoughts...

My mother is coming to town today. I always look forward to her visits - we hang like old friends most of the time. Look out shoe stores! (I seriously need my own shoe closet...)

It's funny that even though I love her and I know she loves me, a small part of me waits to see if I measure up. This isn't a fault of hers but more a part of my personaltiy and how I view myself in the sea of women friends and family surrounding me.

My mom was always quiet, soft-spoken, smart, totally organized, remembered every detail that needed remembering...

Of the above, I am smart.

That's it.

I know that doesn't mean something is wrong with me. I think it's natural to take the examples of femininity and beauty around me and internalize that as the "standard".

The problem, of course, is that while I do love girly stuff like goregous shoes and manicures, the resemblance stops there.

I am rarely quiet. I am outspoken and bold though I try to be kind. I'm hardly ever organi…

If You Have Any Poo, Fling It Now!

*borrowed the title of this post from my favorite line in Madagascar*


Some people just need a crash course in basic manners. For example:

1. Don't shovel food into your mouth and then chew with your mouth wide open. While your mastication process is fascinating, I'm already familiar enough with the whole procedure that I'd rather not view it. And please, DON'T SPEAK. I prefer to eat my food sans crumb spray from your gaping mouth.

2. Don't neglect to RSVP for an event and then grace us with your presence anyway. I may act happy to see you but you are so NOT getting my share of the brownies I carefully portioned out with my guest list in mind.

3. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR DOG TO POOP ON MY LAWN AND THEN LEAVE IT THERE. It may come as a shock, I realize, that I do not consider it my job to shovel YOUR animal's fecal matter. If I happen to know where you live, I'll gladly return the doggie presents to your front porch (don't think I would? You don't know m…

Mini-vans of the World, Unite!

Mini-vans get a bad rap. Men (and women!), swear up and down they'd rather ride a Vespa cross-country in the dead of winter than own a mini-van. Commercials for new multi-passenger vehicles are quick to point out that while they can fit your whole family and a dog as well, they are NOT a mini-van.

Those of us who own a mini-van, regularly abuse it. See this for a perfect example.

Now, it seems, mini-vans are fighting back.

A few months ago, I was driving my kids and two of my friends to meet my hubby at the zoo. I drove through an intersection - turning left - and heard what sounded like a thousand marbles being dumped on the pavement.

Turns out the window on my sliding door decided that was as far as it was willing to go. It didn't swing out and drop. It didn't crack and fall. It simply stood still - while the rest of the van kept going - sliding along the side of the van until crashing to the pavement in our wake.

I thought that was bad.

This is worse.

A pastor in our chur…

Bowling for Idiots

I am a talented woman.

I can speak in front of crowds, unplug toilets, write songs, poetry, and novels, and make a 20 minute drive to work in 11 minutes flat. (Of course, if you're reading this and you are a Williamson County Sheriff, Paul, or my mother, that last bit isn't true at all.)

But I cannot bowl worth beans.

Last night, I went bowling with friends and bowled an 81. I was PROUD of that! I bowled 1 strike, 2 spares, and only 4 gutter balls. That is a miracle of no small proportion.

Let's look at my previous attempts at bowling:

1. Last year, we went bowling as a family. The kids got bumpers on their turns. My hubby, over-ruling my vociferous protest, would not allow me to have bumpers as well. Something about "no grown woman needs bumpers to bowl". Right. The result was this:

Hubby - 190 or something equally irritating.
8 yr old - 90 something.
6 yr old - 70 something.
5 yr old using the time-honored granny approa…

Contest Update

The results are in: I didn't win this contest but I had some excellent competition and the winner deserved the prize. This was a fun and educational experience all around. (Now, off to put Alexa into another dangerous situation...)

Well, all the first round winners have their 5 pages posted and critiqued over at fff and I've read through them all. I love discovering new literary voices that mesmerize.

A few of those entries were so incredible to read. I had a few of those moments when time seems suspended and all other distractions fade as I was captivated completely by an idea, by poetic prose, or by a truly distinctive voice.

I feel honored to be part of this group of "second-rounders" and think there are several strong contenders for the grand prize.

The winner will be announced Thursday. I'll keep you posted.

My To Do List

1. Marry the man I can't live without - Check

2. Graduate from college - Check

3. Dye my hair an improbable shade of pink -

4. Cold-cock myself in the chin with my own breast - Check

5. Tour Ireland -

6. Tour Merced, California - Check

7. Knock myself silly on my own diningroom table - Check

8. Be on a game show -

9. Do a stand up comedy routine -

10. Star as a murderer in a film (highschool film, but still, I killed like nobody's business) - Check

11. Be mistaken for Marilyn Monroe -

12. Win a writing contest - Check

13. Unplug three toilets in under three minutes - Check

14. Publish a novel -

15. Meet Amy Grant - Check

16. Understand and appreciate Kafka -

17. Front a rock band -

18. Pretend to front a rock band - Check

19. B…

Wardrobe Malfunction

I do not embarrass easily. Chalk it up to my lifelong lack of grace and coordination. Blame it on my own big mouth and my propensity for landing in awkward situations.

Whatever the reason, I am a hardy little soul when it comes to potential "move-to-Tunisia-and-change-your-name-to-Melba-Zitzuphat" moments.

Take the church's Christmas musical my ninth grade year. This was a huge to-do, with all the bells and whistles. A cast of high schoolers with period costumes and painted sets. An adult choir with over 75 members backing us up.

I had a starring role.

I practiced hard. I played the part of the stereotypical strict, irritable, old-maiden teacher faced with a class of rascals. My costume was a black suit from the forties and a yard stick (all the better to slap your knuckles with, my dear).

It should have been my shining moment.

One problem.

I was a size 4. The suit was a size 18. There was no time to alter. The costume manager decided safety pins would do the trick. …

My Personal Standard

I recently heard a writer say there is no such thing as good or bad writing. Our writing is as good as we think it is and we should bolster our spirits with this knowledge whenever we hit a roadblock in the publishing world.

I do not agree.

This is like the current elementary school trend of giving N's and S's instead of letter grades or the club sports systems that no longer hand out trophies or announce winners at the games.

Are we so worried about our self-esteem that we are willing to completely lower the bar and remove even a hint of competition or standards? Does it really make us feel good about ourselves when we don't have to work for anything at all?

I don't think so.

I think we will drown in a sea of mediocrity if we aren't careful.

I am NO GOOD at math or science. Even if I choose to apply myself, the concepts refuse to make sense to me, my brain rejects them outright, and I struggle. I never did well in math class. So what? Should I have been give an &…

They Make Shampoos For That

Ooooh, he's going to kill me when he reads this.

So, tonight at work two of my friends got into a little friendly battle with each other. Since I use nicknames here rather than give away true identities (who knew working in a restaurant could be so James Bond?), I'll call them Waif and Dragon-master (I'm calling him that to try to earn a way back into his good graces...).

Dragon-master got Waif with some ice. Dragon-Master taunted Waif throughout the night. Dragon-master played mind games because that is what he lives for.

Waif got fed up and came to me. We talked. I commiserated. She mentioned a plan to get him back that consisted of dumping one tiny packet of sugar down his back. Guaranteed itch for the rest of the night. It was a good idea.

I had a better one. Like an idiot, I opened my mouth. (Why do I call myself an idiot for that? Because Dragon-master is one of my best friends. Because honestly, in any battle at work, I'm on his side first. Because he kno…

The Mechanical One

My parents are coming out to visit soon. Every time my dad comes to town, he likes me to have a list of projects for him to tackle. Anything from a squeaky door to installing a new fuse box makes him happy.

He's always been the mechanical one in our family.

My childhood is filled with memories of my dad fixing, building, and installing. My dad always seemed to do everything right.

Until one Christmas.

Christmas is a big deal in my family. We decorate the day after Thanksgiving and go all out. Ornaments, tinsel, and lights galore. Nativity scenes, candles shaped like trees, garland, and one very special brass-plated candle holder with cherubic angels flying over the top of the flames, ringing little bells as they go.

You know the piece. You light four skinny little candles and heat causes the angels to fly. The only drawback to it is that to store it, you have to break it down into small pieces.

Some assembly required.

No problem. We have my dad.

This particular Christmas, he sets …

Less Equals More

When I completed my first novel, I was proud. Excited. Thrilled. Confident that it was perfect as-is.

I sent queries to serveral publishers and agents. When my manuscript was requested within a week from a major publisher, I was proud. Excited. Thrilled. Confident that the editor would see my novel as perfect, as-is.

When she replied to me a month later that she loved the story but the length was a problem and if I chose to edit it, she would reconsider it, I was not as proud, excited, thrilled or confident.

She wanted 30,000 words edited. Erased. Gone for good.

30,000.

That's a 3 with four zeros after it.

That's a lot of words.

I was determined to do it. I was worried my story wouldn't survive the chop. When I finished the edit, I cut 32,000 words and my story improved immeasurably. Fast-paced. No extraneous anything to detract from the suspense or character-building. I grabbed the reader from page one and said, "Hang on, it's going to be an exhilarating ride.&qu…

Chess Pieces

This weekend we went to a cookout with some friends. As we sat around chatting, one father mentioned that he and his son like to play chess together.

My father liked to play chess with me as well. He has this gorgeous hand-carved chess board from his time in Italy. The pieces are rendered in blonde or chocolate colored wood.

When I was in fifth grade, we moved from Oregon to California and had to rent a house while we looked for one to buy. This house was fine on the outside but I kid you not, the inside was ugly enough to give you an unpleasant shock every time you stepped in the door.

Flat brown argyle pattern carpet (who knew they made that??) in the bathroom with brilliant turquoise and green and white patterned wallpaper (if that somehow sounds attractive to you, take a moment to slap yourself silly) and a bright, rainbow striped shower curtain that oddly enough contained not a trace of brown, turquoise, green, or white (in other words, nothing that could remotely be considered to…