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While I Was Out

This is an ocelot. Apparently. When I said we had them living in our hair, I was picturing a type of weasel. I chose Ocelots because the weasel is an inherently amusing animal---even the WORD Weasel is an inherently amusing word. But no, ocelots are a darling thing you get when a house cat has sex with a big-eyed anime cuteness deity. ADORABLE! I WISH I had one in my hair.

I am not DEAD. Let’s be clear—NO ONE is dead. I am just crazy with pounds of WRITERY GOINGS ON.

I haven’t been blogging much, but not because I am dead and not because I am BUSY.

I mean, I AM busy. Of course I am. So are you. You’re not even sure when you last washed your hair, are you? Me neither. There could be whole herds of transient ocelots constructing whatever kind of thing an ocelot would live in all up in our head-nests, and we would be too busy to know.

Everyone in this freakin’ country is SO ridiculously over-busy they are probably ALL ocelot infested. We cannot all move to Greece, but maybe we should stop working for two every afternoon and eat little plates of Mediterranean cheese and olives and drink ouzo. Yes? Yes.

But I have always, since you have known me, been BUSY, and so have you. Good grief. And yet I and You have both found time to watch the first two seasons of Game of Thrones or ________, respectively. (Put your own current unhealthy obsession in the blank.)

DIGRESSION: Scott’s sister Allison—WHOM I LOVE—who is wonderful and kind and dear and smart and funny – decided to move to Stone Mountain, Georgia, about 25 minutes away from us. When she told me, to my ABIDING SHAME, the first thing I said to her was… “OH YAY! YOU HAVE HBO, DON’T YOU!” Nice.

SO obsessed am I that I just watched THE STATION AGENT because I have yet to see any of GoT Season 3 and I am in DEEP, DEEP TERRIBLE DINKLAGE DEFICIT, which is a real true medical condition that causes over-bourboning and sulkage. You should watch The Station Agent. It has the feel of a really good PLAY more than a movie. I wanted it to be 12 hours long as I could have watched and watched and watched those people forever:

DIGRESSION: I love Joe in that film. Halfway in, I turned to Scott and said, “Joe is the human incarnation of Doug the Dog from Pizxar’s UP.” Scott, when he could stop laughing and breathe again, said, “It’s funny because it’s TRUE.”

SO! It’s not that I couldn’t find the TIME to blog.

It is a writing/room/brain/space problem. I have been doing so much WRITING. I have been writing like SUPERCRAZY and using up all the droplets of writer-juice even down in the very most bottom of my brainpan.

SO! I haven’t had any of that very specific and particular kind of energy left over for any other kind of writing. I have even been very short in EMAILS because I can’t stand the extra TYPING OF WORDS.

I have sent emails to people I LOVE that have said things like “Yes. –JJ” And “THANK YOU THAT IS SO NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

It was all I could type.

What I have been writing is a SECRET SURPRISE THING the likes of which I have not written before. I will tell you about it As Soon As Ever I Can, but it was challenging and new for me. I am done with it now, done with a DRAFT anyway. I have a WHOLE draft I like, and I am revising – always my favorite part. I feel like I have all this room in my head now.

But here I am now. HI! I MISSED YOU! I AM SORRY I WAS GONE after I specifically told you that my absence likely meant tragedy.

I think I need to decide to blog like 2 or 3 days a week, all the same days, and then just actually do it. I don’t want to take blogging breaks this long because this blog is a weird, alive hub of small relationships.

HI! I remember you! Do you REMEMBER ME? I am the one with the very fine bushy red mustache.

After a break of this long, I feel weird and shy, which is DUMB, as we have known each other, you and I, for MORE THAN DECADE NOW. (Can you believe? We should get each other something. Wine, or the kind of gentle nit comb that can pick out all our ocelots without harming them.)

While I have been submerged in THE SECRET PROJECT, what might possibly be my favorite comment EVER to grace FTK happened—and, oh Beloveds, there have been some DOOZIES. SO you know this one had to be CRAZY good.

Anonymous said: I used to lick the church pews– when I was four or five. The flavor– it repulsed and delighted, simultaneously.

I am repulsed and delighted, myself. I love this SO much. I want to write about a person who was a pew licker as a child. An insubordinate, incorrigible pew licker.

I love people. We all have whole universes tucked away inside of us. No one, looking at Anonymous today as he or she does her job and goes to Kroger for some apples, NO ONE would know, would they? Anonymous could be your very own sister, who sat by you and stole tiny, secets laps of pew-flavor while you were doodling on the Order of Worship flier.

OH, How I love us, all us people. How endlessly interesting we are.

SO CATCH ME UP. What secret thing have YOU been doing, all this first third of May?

27 comments to While I Was Out

  • Martha

    I have been secretly training to run my first 5K this Saturday. I’m 51 and have never been a runner before. The only person who knows is my husband. I’m not telling anyone unless I finish it. Is that secret-y enough? Also – I am not telling my mother some stuff about my kids because I don’t want to deal with her judging them harshly. Aren’t grandmothers supposed to love their grandkids unconditionally? Just wondering.

  • ebethnyc

    I love the Station Agent. And I had the good fortune to pass Peter D. on the street and managed to get out that I love him on GoT but forgot to mention Station Agent. and Elf.
    Next time, it’s just “love your work.” (There’s only so much one can get out in a split second exchange, esp when trying to be surreptitious.)

  • I love the Station Agent too. I gather Peter Dinklage did a Richard III production at one point that i would love to have seen. He is super talented and also seems like he would be fun to hang out with over beer and pizza.

    I have been at a writing retreat (The Porches in Lovingston VA) for the past week, writing and staring at manuscript pages, and so i think i crosseyedly misread a phrase up there as “genital nit comb” and was super alarmed for a moment.

  • I don’t have ocelots in my hair, but an angry, ugly, possessed ocelot jumped RIGHT out of my eyeballs and vocal cords simultaneously this morning and roared righteous indignation ALL OVER one of my school administrators who said something patronizing and dismissive to me as I was disciplining some thugs. I was not in secret–what she said or what I said–as we were in the hallway, but most of the middle schoolers were too busy being middle schoolers to notice. Except for one–who came to check on me. This one is one that HATED me with blinding, white hot, hatred until February. She would IGNORE my daily salutations as well as my directions so much did she dislike me as a teacher and a human. Then, I helped out at a track meet where she was long jumping. I talked to her there where she couldn’t ignore me, because kids get confused when they see you somewhere you normally aren’t and they forget that they hate you. And she decided that I’m okay. She is a universe that is EXPANDING. . .I, on the other hand, have universes full of ocelots ALL UP INSIDE my own universe today obviously. But I fear my ocelots are merely weasels in ocelot clothing.

    I am ready to read your next novel and SURPRISE writing.

  • Chris of the Woodwork

    You are a scholar and a gentlewoman whom I adore, ocelots or not.

    I can’t get over the fact that you actually ANSWER emails, even as busy as you are, even if they are short and to the point (see above).

    I am secretly writing, and so wish I could find a critique group in our area. Alas, they are all full or meet out in West Jehosophat or during the day (I work), or whatever.

    All of them DESERVE ocelots. And genital nit combs.

  • Gail

    For the first third of May I have been
    1) Working on my dissertation
    2) Avoiding working on my dissertation (this takes a variety of forms–see 3 and 4)
    3) Learning that the doctor who told me I wasn’t physically capable of getting drunk was wrong
    4) Watching seasons 1-3 of Jonathan Creek

  • I would love to have an ocelot in my hair. I’ve been just nutty busy with normal things, like my kids. My daughter and I volunteer at an animal shelter every week (I could write a three hundred word essay on that), and getting my 13 year old son through some really horrible teenage stuff that gives me hourly heart palpitations. I’m praying for summer. Praying for sanity. Praying for happy hour 🙂

  • Jill W.

    Good to see you back. This recent blog post by Alice Bradley is full the peopleness that you (and I) love. I read it and the comments and thought “the world is just awesome (Boom dee ah-dah)”


  • I’ve been secretly getting sucked into YA Urban Fantasy. Yessiree. I’m all leery of it, yet cannot stop. See, I read the series with the sparkly vampires and they were horrible. And I was completely sucked in. I could not look away. It was sad really. So I’ve been sort of, anti-getting-sucked-into-books-about-hormone-addled-teens and more all about books that make me feel like an adult and make me use my brain.

    Anyway, here I am, being all sucked in again. I haven’t found this particular author to know only one descriptive word. She seems to actually own a thesaurus and maybe even have writing talent. So. That’s my secret doings this first third of May.

  • OMGosh, Jill W!! That link made my day!

  • My meds quit working, so I was angry and sad and crazy for a bit. And I could barely eke out any words of substance. Now, I have a lovely new med and I want to smile at everyone and wear skirts and kiss my boys’ foreheads AND I am writing away on a previously-shelved project. Turns out, it was just my crazy insisting the story sucked and I can’t plot anything and I need to just quit.

    So, Yay! Drugs!

  • Kathy

    What is wrong with me that I also know exactly what a pew tastes like? I don’t remember being a pew-licker, but reading those words a memory of a taste and texture surfaced completely to my surprise. I did spend a lot of time in churches as a kid, so I guess it’s not too surprising that at some point I got bored enough to lick the pew.

    I’ve been a long time reader, and am always so pleased to see a new post!

  • What I have been doing BESIDES cultivating herds of wild ocelots in my hair? Hm. Well. I think it’s been roughly equal parts of reading all of Brene Brown’s books and growing as a person (ew, I know!); blogging; and midnight crying jags. Yeah, that about sums it up.

  • Therese

    Oh, this -> “…we should stop working [at] two every afternoon and eat little plates of Mediterranean cheese and olives and drink ouzo.”
    Yes, please.

    Secretly? I have been wringing my hands over my own not blogging. My blogging, in fact, has been super secret too. Also? invisible. Bleah.

    And gentle/genital nit combs made me laugh and maybe snort out loud at work.

    p.s. I used to work with a super nice engineer whose last name was the German word for weasel (ehrman). He, in fact, was not a weasel but one of the nicest, sharpest young men I’ve ever worked with & for. He was half my age when he was promoted to head of the engineering dept I worked in and I was thrilled. And, he didn’t mind when an ermine (a winter-white weasel) showed up outside our building one winter and I named it after him.

    p.p.s That moustachy photo of you I thought first had someone doing a middle-finger version of bunny ears behind you, and then I thought, oh no, it’s a noose and that’s why your head is lolling. Then I realized that my imagination is perhaps a bit overwrought and my perception is borked. You are lovely.

  • JK

    Dearest JJ: Please do not refer to things living in hair. I teach at a private school, and every year, we have the oh-so-delightful task of nit-checking for a couple of weeks on end. Except this year, because of reinfestation, it was months. And then it stopped, long enough that I forgot which kids have dandruff and which ones have odd freckles on their scalps, long enough that my degree in phrenology lapsed. And then, three weeks ago, it started again. Believe me, I would much prefer to find ocelots in my students’ locks to finding the lousy nits. But let us not wish anything upon the pates of anyone, please, please.

  • Linda J

    Welcome back from the undead. You were missed! A draft already? Wow it must be a heck of a secret.

    My life has been turned upside down. My old mans daughter moved in with her baby. Then a week later she at the ripe ole age of 21 got bloodclots in her leg. So my life has been taking care of mama and baby, doc appts, blood tests, and move related phone calls. Oh and my own appts, finding out that after a fall in NOVEMBER the doc wants to do surgery on my knee. The problem is that my ankle is worse than my knee. I don’t see how I can manage a walker on an ankle this bad. But with all the care I’ve been providing…she gets to pay me back.

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    SO HAPPY to hear that you have been busy WRITING, and even better that it is something new and exciting. I most definitely would not want you to be blogging instead of writing because I am in serious JJ book withdrawal and the more you write the sooner I get to read your delicious stories. Also, I am glad that you are not dead.

    I have been writing for a while now, but most recently I have been working on a story that is more secret than the others because it involves something I didn’t think I would ever have the courage to write about. Only my husband and my son know about these secret writings. I don’t know if anyone else will ever be able to read it either, because my mother would freak out.
    Chris of the Woodwork – I hear you! I have been searching for a writing group for FOREVER and have yet to find one.

    Martha -I am running a 5K on Saturday too and feeling my age (48)! You go girl!

  • Martha

    Michelle-who-is-Shelley – Yay for both of us! I have a big bottle of Tylenol waiting for me for when the race is over.

    May we both have fleet feet and ample lung capacity!

  • Wendy R.

    Hooray for ocelots and Game of Thrones! If those two things can’t sustain a writerly flow, I don’t know what can. Congrats on the draft!

    I’m not sure if you’re the Archer-watching type (I’m not, I absorb through my husband unwillingly) but I can’t resist adding this:

    PS Feldheim says hi. He’s off to James Jones and Faulkner-Wisdom this spring 😉

  • Wendy R.

    Ha, I suck at HTML, apparently. The highlighted linked text above is supposed to say “I’ve never seen an ocelot!” Not sure why it decided to grab that sentence instead!

  • Jen the Goddess in Virginia

    Hrm. May. Bought a house; left on a week-long work trip 3 days later; left the unfinished packing and moving and caring for 2 dogs and a 6-month-old to the husband while I was gone; husband’s grandfather died the morning of the move while I was half a country away; movers sucked and were slow and awful (making his day even worse); got home the next evening after many flight delays; unpacked for a day; left a day and a half later to drive to Kentucky for the grandfather’s funeral (after driving 30 minutes to drop the dogs off with my parents) with the 6-month-old in the car for the 8-hour drive; spent 3 emotionally-fraught days visiting and laughing and loving and sleeping on terrible guest beds in multiple relatives’ houses while caring for a baby who was very off her regular schedule (but was so, so amazingly awesome); got home in the evening after another 8-hour drive; had a baby who finally had her meltdown in the middle of the night so I got 3 hours of sleep before I had to go back to work again; got in-laws staying in our house for 2 days on their way back from the funeral and my parents coming tomorrow with a truckload of furniture for our new house and I’m scheduled to be on a radio show for Mother’s Day on Sunday…and my head might explode. Or be filled with ocelots. WE ARE SUCH THE BUSY PEOPLE, WE FTKerS!

  • edj

    I have been deathly ill. First we had to go to a conference all the way across the country in Philly, which meant getting up at 3 to catch a plane at 6. (We live in Portland) And it was snowing in Denver so we were late and missed the first session of the conf. Then, next morning in Philly, we had to get up at 3 again only they called it “6”, this imaginary time they all believed in. In the evenings we walked all over Philly and found some great hoagies and some real characters. Remind me to tell you about the guy in the deli who called me sweetheart and yelled at us all. Then I came home and got the sickest I have been since COLLEGE. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I had to spend 2 days in bed, and I am coming off 4 days in bed and I’m ready to go back to bed. It’s ridiculous. There you have it–my first 1/3 of May. Oh the conf was great and we made some new friends–not on the subway though.

  • dramamama

    jeez, is the first third of may already gone? i’m still back in like march……
    that’s how many ocelots are tangled in my tresses!

  • My own current unhealthy obsessions: The Big Bang Theory, Bones, How I Met Your Mother. (I swear I could combine them all into a gigantic filthy double – or is that a triple – entendre without even trying.)

    When I’m not glued to the TV after a full day of work, writing, marketing and being a mother/driver/cook, I’m reading… wait for it… wait for it… Someone Else’s Love Story! Woot-woot!!!!

  • Margaret

    I haven’t been blogging in so long that I don’t think anyone would notice if I *did* blog again.

    I have been busy being stupid, crazy ill with bronchitis, mild pneumonia and a sinus infection. So I haven’t been up to anything interestingly secretive.

    My hair is crazy curly, and I don’t brush it out very often. Now it seems like I haven’t done the brushing in MONTHS and there might be an entire clan (pack/herd/nest) of ocelots in my hair.

    The Season Finale of Survivor was last night. That is my guiltiest of pleasures.

  • I got a new job and a new agent and I figured out what contentment looks like (oddly like living with an amazing man and having his three amazing kids come over regularly and being all domestic while also writing and such).

    WE MISSED YOU. I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOUR BOOK (both SELS and whatever this new secret thing is because yes.)

  • Preparing for the book launch and succumbing to frequent and ridiculous anxiety attacks where I convince myself that I am mot doing enough to ensure the launch is a success so it is all going to be a big failure and my publisher will not make any money so they will decide not to publish the next one and I’ll end up drunk &/or homeless on my mother’s couch begging for Prozac.

    How do you do this?

    Oh, on the bright side, I was tapped by someone in my company to work on a super secret R&D project for one of our most demanding customers which is crazy exciting because I am a boring Finance Analyst type and I’m never asked to do fun, creative projects.