LISTEN TO ME, ALL YE DARK GODS OF REAL ESTATE! SEND UNTO ME A BUYER FOR MINE LOVELY HOME! It is a cute home actually, and now that we have it all SPIFFY so it will show well, I am sort of in love with it and a little sad to leave it. BUT. I have to have an office. I am currently trying to draft a novel in in my converted dining room, open to the world on two sides, with the family room TV blaring....I used to have an office. THen Maisy got born and took it.
The BAD thing about my cute house being ON THE MARKET is that it has to be IMMACULATE all the time in case someone wants to come peruse it. Luckily, I am a WONDERFUL housekeeper who likes NOTHING more than to frisk around in pearls and heels, cheerfully dusting, while my children sit quietly in a row on the sofa, reading PILGRIMS PROGRESS aloud to each other.
And if you believe that, I will not only sell you my home, but some lovely prime swa--- real estate in Florida.
Last night the In-Town met. I read a chunk of chapter 6 that I've been re-writing and re-writing. I have rewritten it so much in such a short amount of time that I can not get any sort of feel for how well it is working. The things I felt uncertain about were not brought up by anyone, so either I HAVE it working now OR they felt it was too troubled to be fixed. *grin*
And we talked about violence and how much I seem to heart writing about violence. I said some sort of thing about why, about how what happens after violence always interests me as a writer, especially when ordinary people do violent things. I am not terribly interested in violent people doing violent things. Professional killers shoot people. And then in the aftermath of that they go shoot more people or perhaps get paid. That's not what interests me, unless the professional killers are John Cusack.
I also like writing the violent scenes themselves. I like plunking down a whole bunch of folks in the middle of a whirlwind of random destruction, or more likely, something deliberate, something being perpetrated by someone innocent of the idea that there is cause and effect and events have consequences, or someone who knows and who loses control anyway. And then in the middle of the chaos, I watch and I see what these people will do. Because really, in extremis, that's when characters act the most like themselves, and sometimes that's what it takes for me to see what is at the core of them.
You never know a character so well as the moment after you light them on fire. <--truism.
Valuable lessons I learned while drowning in QT's bloodpit of a movie:
1) Uma Thurman is 'scrutiating beautiful. There is nothing that can be done about it. You can make her look like one eye is puffed shut and knock her teeth out and incrustulate her with blood and all manner of foul excretions and splashy pus and awfulness, and STILL she is radiently lovely. It's very wrong of her.
2) If you want something to be more violent than anyone could ever imagine anything being, and yet you do not want an NC-17 rating, all you have to do is suddenly go to animation or black and white, so that the spurting blood showers are cartoons or at least not red. And then you get an R.
3) It IS possible to make a film that is both NOT an actual snuff film and more violent than ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO. And who would have thought THAT?
4) Using bad language is not shocking anymore, and movies that try to shock by using the very worst of all the bad language that there ever was overnovernover in ways that are supposed to be unexpected just irritates the audience. I found myself wondering if QT's target audience was 15 year old country French girls who have had a convent education.
5) If you can find a way to cast Lucy Liu in anything as anyone, DO IT. Really.
6) I want to see the sequel.
I like to read crimne fiction -- when I am drafting, I can't read lit-fic, especially not anything SOUTHERN -- I save that stuff for times when I am revising or lying fallow. But I can't NOT read, so I read stuff about cops and detectives and lawyers. And I heart Dennis Lehane. I was reading his Patrick Kenzie books for years before Mystic River made him a household name. And recently, a friend asked me to splain why I like him. SO here is why:
1) He's competent. He's flawlessly beautifully competent. You have that
PEACEFULNESS you get from knowing you are in good hands that allows you
to read with WORRYING whether or not a sentence or a character is going
to suddenly be woefully mishandled in a book-ruining way.
2) He's direct. He doesn't fuss around with LANDSCAPE and and grind at
you until you can not escape understanding that the fading lovliness of
the dying bush is lo, like unto her own fading beauty, WEEP. Like, okay,
I loved Snow Falling on Cedars -- LOVED it -- it was gorgeous and had me screaming YES YES YES at the end -- you have to love a book with such a strong center. BUT.... one thing bugged me...IT WENT SO FREAKIN ON
about the FREAKIN' TREES WITH SNOW ON THEM! YES YES I GET IT ALREADY! MOVE ALONG!
3) You THINK he's plot driven, but really, he is tricking you. He's
absolutely character driven. He does something HUGELY in Mystic River
and QUITE A BIT in his genre fiction that I really admire and that I
tried to do in gods in Alabama. It's where you take this ENGINE of a
plot, a big splashy suspenseful violent can't-look-away train wreck of a
plot that is slippery and slick and clever, it twists away from the
expected like a live thing, and you set it gently on top of a host of
much subtler layers, so that the reader can read on any number of levels
and have a good time. You could read Mystic River for a book discussion
group or on the beach while drinking fruity rum drinks.
4) He writes with a moral center -- his books come out of a place where
there is right and wrong ABOVE the subjective, which means his conflicts
are meaningful, and yet he is totally uninterested in preaching -- just
writing from a place that understands actions and consequences, even if
his characters do not.
There are more reasons having to do with an EXCESS of style and he has a
nice black sense of humor that appeals to me. But I rented KILL BILL. So.
PS Also, although I had been a fan for years before I ever saw a
picture, he is, scuse me, not at all painful to look at it in a
pug-Irish way that's speaks to my potato-covered genomes. And COME ON
that never hurts.
SO -- Go read a A Drink Before the War.
My husband has been in Vegas for 16 days now.
Last night I dreamed I was in the beach house my family gets for a week every summer. I was sitting on the sofa, watching a movie, and my dad and my sister-in-law, Julie, were sitting on one side of me. My mom was sitting in a chair nearby, my brother was on the floor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was sitting on my other side. He had long hair gathered back into a pony-tail and it was streaked with gray. Der Arnold was hitting on me pretty hard.
I kept saying, ARNOLD, REALLY, QUIT IT! I AM MARRIED! ARNOLD! MY PARENTS ARE SITTING RIGHT THERE! GOOD GRIEF! He kept blowing in my ear and murmering at me, but I was very firm with him. Finally he said, I MUST RESORT TO CALLING FOR A HOOKER TO BE SENT! and stomped out in a huff.
So. Pop quiz hotshot.
WHO needs their husband to come HOME NOW PLEASE.
Beautiful Maisy is barely two, and she is very beautiful, and she is puking. All over EVERYTHING. Every 30 minutes. All night long, ALL NIGHT, I tried to hold a bowl for her, and she screamed NO!NO!NO! And pushed it away with her feet. I am considering going out and lying in the street until a truck comes and runs mercifully over my head.
Scott is out of town for another week. My house is on the market and must be kept immaculate if I actually expect someone to buy it. It currently smells like a puke-abbatoir, like the legendary puke graveyard where all ancient pukes instinctively go to die.
She has puked THROUGH layers and layers of old towels to get puke into 4 sets of sheets and two matresses and I am on the last set of king size sheets. This last time I FINALLY convinced her the bowl was her friend, the bowl was there to help...I think with enough spin put on it, I can MAYBE work the whole "this time she puked in a bowl" thing up to be a reason not to kill myself.
I feel sorry for her and BUT -- I also have this DREADFUL RAGE AT FATE because after WELL OVER 3 WEEKS of NOTHING WORKING and STUCK BOGGED HORROR in the new novel, I finally have chaps 6 and 7 shining in my head like water bubbles, fragile and gleaming with ephemeral perfection and I had childcare set up for the next several days to write them and I got 17 pages done yesterday, 17 EXCUSE ME VERY GOOD PAGES, a MONSTROUSLY good day and a wonderful omen of the kind of week it would be--BUT! OH LORDY BUT! It will fade if I don't GET IT OUT NOW and I can not WRITE. All can do is pat a sad baby and hope to catch her vomit in a bowl because all my sheets are in the drier still, and I am all alone, with no Scott, and Scott is my good right hand and my heart and my SPINE.
Welcome to the long dark puke-filled tea time of the soul.
PS. yes I realize I am a DREADFUL HATEFUL EGOMANIAC who has a GORGEOUS WONDERFUL BRIGHT LOVELY PERFECT ADORABLE ADORED BABY, and this baby has SAD SAD blue eyes and is MISERABLE, puking every half hour and then saying "I'M OKAY! I'M OKAY!" right after each puke in this PITIFUL BRAVE REASSURING LITTLE voice, and WHO DO I FEEL SORRY FOR?
Me. Because I can't WRITE.
Freaking stupid worthless artists! EGOMANIACAL, we all are. We ought to be drowned, every one of us, we should be taken out and drowned like too many kittens.
I don't write poetry because I am very bad at it. I sincerely feel the NEA should pay me a grant to NOT write it. BUT then my friend Jill sent me this thingy, it's her assignment from her creative writing class. COME ON YOU TRY IT, it's kinda fun. Here is whatcha do:
Write a poem (or POME as we say in Georgia), minimum of 20 lines. You MUST use the following:
1. the name of your hairdresser (or body piercer)
2. your favorite fabric
3. your favorite color
4. your favorite spice
5. your favorite sound
6. the strangest thing you've ever seen in snow (any snow will do)
AND the following words
8. combing (NOT in any way related to hair)
10. cave (as either a noun or a verb)
you MUST have:
2 instances of alliteration
2 instances of assonance
1 instance of synethesia ("He's a smooth talker")
SEE? That could be fun. I also suggest that you add a rule -- you must do this after consuming 1.5 glasses of Shiraz (if you are a lightweight). If you have a stainless steel liver, you'd better down the bottle. Here is my 1.5 glass attempt:
Would The David be Art if Michelangelo
had sculpted him as if he were peeing in the snow
Sling over one shoulder, both hands on the pen to write,
'Michelangelo Rocks, and I am one of them.'
Then the Shiraz got to me and I fell asleep. The worst part is, I STOLE Jill's hairdresser's name. That's just LOW. But...David is SUCH a usable name and mine is named something like SERGE and I am not even sure how to spell it. I feel SHAME. I think I am done. If you need me, I will be sitting by the mailbox waiting for my federal GRANT-TO-PROMISE-TO-NEVER-WRITE-POETRY.
I was talking with some friends about HUSBANDS and why they are not terribly ROMANTICAL when wives are usually girls and girls almost universally like romance.
My husband very rarely sends flowers and when we go on dates it's because I organize 'em and find childcare. I like to pretend to be grown-ups at the sort of restaurant that has a wine list and no kiddy-menus, but he is just as happy with a date that goes like this: family dinner, rent-a-movie, put the kids to bed, catch a little woo.
BUT I DO NOT CARE! That's FINE! You know why? Because---HE DOES THE LAUNDRY. All of it. Every time. I can not tell you how romantic I find this to be. And now that he is out of town for three weeks the depths of my appreciation have sunk to well below sea level. My appreciation is now SO deep that the fish do not have EYES down here.
Oh sure, he tells me I am beautiful, and he kisses on me all the time, and he knows his lines in the DO THESE PANTS MAKE ME LOOK FAT conversation, and that's all well and good romancifully speaking, but NOTHING gets me in the mood like a man who will gather, tote, wash, dry, fold and put away dirty clothes.
And he takes my children away for weekends to give me alone time in the house to write when I have a deadline. SO SO ROMANTIC. And he's tall and I just LIKE that, which is appropos of exactly nothing, but he IS tall and I DO like that.
So when he sometimes forgets Valentine's day--WHICH HE DID TWICE IN A ROW BY THE WAY (2002 and 2003 HA!) -- I just shrug and eat half of the box of chocolates I got him and make out with him anyway.
Truthfully, I am not very romantic either. I have to look inside my wedding ring to remember when my anniversary is. *grin* But let's not tell him that because for V-day this year I got a buttload of Burt's Bee's skincare AND balloons AND flowers AND little twinkling pink X-mas lights strung up all over the house. AND he still did the laundry. *sighs and looks lovelorn*
So my friend Jan came over to help me put in some Impatiens because I dont know anything about plants except how to cause them to die. (Forget they exist until they dry up into sticks--works every time.)
I had my friend Julies kids over, and Jan has a peck of her own, so we had about 14 million kids between us. We put the little girls down for naps threw the monstrous herd of boys into the backyard. I have a VERY rural Georgia backyard. I have a shed! Heck, I have a CRICK! Here take a look.
So we are putting in the impatiens and Jan goes to make sure no one is on fire or spurting arterial blood, and then I hear her, screaming my name from all the way on the other side of the house and my heart stops because I imagine some boy or another with snapped shards of bone jutting through his skin, so I go tearing through the house and as I come out on the back deck I can see all the boys are fine, swarming around the fort, but Jan is coming up the stairs, panting in horror, and she has snake face.
So I say, Is it a snake? Because I know that face, the eyes opened so wide that the whites show all the way around with the eyebrows going up up up as if they intend to rocket off the face altogether and establish orbit.
And Jan says YES YES YES IT IS A SNAKE A HUGE GIANT SLAVERING EVIL DEVIL SNAKE.
SO I trot on down with her to make sure it isnt a water moccasin we get those passing through once in a blue moon. They like the crick, and I like to have my husband remove their heads with a garden hoe. This snake is nice though, just a crabby black and yellow regulation Georgia yard snake. Hes a bit over three feet long and a little irked with all the fuss. We call the boys over to look at him and he gets even crabbier and slithers off into the ivy to sulk and hopefully eat any mice that might be considering coming in the house. Because, BY THE WAY, my cat is worthless.
And here is what I like about my life: I can drive 23 minutes and be smack in the middle of downtown Atlanta with giant buildings and public transportation and restaurants that know what buffalo mozzarella is and some decent theatre INCLUDING right now that play about the guy who falls in love with a goat. And yet I have a crick in my backyard, and a snake that we christened LaRoux McMouser.
I went to my son's school today and had lunch with him. Wow. I had forgotten cafeteria food. I am not sure what the food was, but it was a sloppy, gelatinous mass of gray with gray pieces in it. It sat and quivered on top of some exhausted rice.
You know those moths that have specific wing patterns that make them look like bark and when they perch on the right kind of tree you can't see them? WELL, if this lunch perched on some vomit...
This is why I pack my son's lunch every day. I pack it full of nutrition, and he assures me that this dooms him to Geekhood. I pack his lunch, so therefore he will spend his junior prom hunched down in my basement rolling dice as he tries to whack a Balrog with his +12 vorpal blade of righteousness so his dark elf can level up.
That's actually how I spent MY junior prom, I tell him. AND IT WAS A DARN GOOD TIME.
1) My husband is in Vegas for 2.5 more weeks.
2) My house is on the market, and must be kept immaculate at all times.
3) My son put Something Evil down the toilet, clogging it up a grinding, awful, serious manner.
4) A plumber costs 150 dollars just to come to your house and say "Wow. He sure did put Something Evil down this toilet." (Costs more to actually get the S.E. out)
5) Did I mention that my husband is out of town?
These are the facts of the case -- I leave you to draw your own conclusions.
*trudges off to get the plunger*
Answer: No. No, thank you. Really.
You have to imagine that answer as FERVENT. And by fervent I mean....okay pretend you are suddenly woken from a dead sleep, late late in the night. You are alone in your bed. A man is standing over you and he has swirling eyeballs and long, pendulous drool strings and a blow torch. He says, "Would you like to be set on fire?" And you say, "No. No, thank you. Really." Fervently.
See how it is now?
And yet I had one this morning. A roach. In my dishwasher. Clickety-clicking around the outskirts of my dirty coffee cup when I went to put in soap. AND MY HUSBAND HAS LEFT ME. For THREE WEEKS. To work in VEGAS. *spits*
Scott is my officially designated roach-killer, certified by God and assigned to me by the federal government with the understanding that I can not DEAL WITH THE EXISTENCE OF ROACHES much less interact with them forcefully and then dispose of their twitching, clicky bodies with the long feelers and the racheted leg hairs and the NO VISIBLE EYEBALLS *gives self the wig*
My first impulse was, of course, to simply close the dishwasher and not open it again for 3 more weeks. And not go in the kitchen. Or the downstairs, really, in fact, we could just live on the back deck inside a protective ring of citronella candles and Combat roach motels. But I realized that was nto a viable option because the deck has SLATS and roaches could come up through them and touch me as I was sleeping. So the dishwasher roach had to go.
I turned and grabbed the COMBAT SPRAY off the top of the fridge and when I turned back around to face the dishwasher he was GONE. Maybe inside the coffee cup. Maybe out the washer altogether. In a PANIC I started spewing Combat all over my DISHES, breathing in clouds of noxious burnt-sugar fumes as I gunned half the the can onto the dishes my children EAT off of, but I didn't think of THAT until every one of them was glistening with a fresh, shiny coat of virulent poison.
SO. I slammed the door and ran the dishwasher. When it got finished I found the roach in the strainer thing. Drowned or poisoned or drowned in poisonous waters, who cares. Limp and dead. JUST HOW I LIKE 'EM. I got a wad of about 57 paper towels and screamed the whole time I was plucking him out of there and running outside and shoving him and the paper towel wad deep deep into the foul outside trashcan. Then I ran the dishwasher again to get the taint of roach water off the dishes, and then AGAIN because, you know, poison, and children eating, and I just now finished running it a fourth time for sheer neurosis.
I am currently drinking a cup of coffee using a formerly-poison-coated cup. So. If this is my very last blog entry, you won't have to ask why. BUT should I by chance LIVE, I wanted it noted for the record that I KILLED A ROACH ALL BY MYSELF and this is HUGE, this is an ACCOMPLISHMENT. I strongly feel I deserve some sort of parade and maybe a tiara or a plaque. Perhaps a generous cash award. Whatever those Nobel guys get.
That is, by the way, Rosemary Daniells writers workshop It's all over the South, and if you live here and write you have probably heard of it. She's charismatic--and very genuine I think. In a weird way it was the opposite of reading Sara Gruens first novel; I like Sara as a person so was relieved to find her book was good. This was the same thing in reverse---I had long liked Daniell's writing and so was relieved when the person was good.
They have a guest come to each meeting -- usually a writer or an editor or an agent. This time the guest was an Atlanta local boy, Jack Riggs. His debut novel, WHEN THE FINCH RISES, came out last summer from Ballantine. I quite liked it---especially the character of Palmer. In an odd way, Palmer reminded me of Owen Meany. The writing---Riggs is a master at taking southern images--so familiar they are practically STOCK-- and he draws you along into them, and you go, yes yes, I know this, mmm-hmm, lalala, and then they suddenly dog-leg in a totally unexpected direction and you find yourself saying "HA!" out loud. Nice.
There was a buncha writery talk, and Jack read a scene or two, and then we broke to eat pot luck and drink wine. Someone brought a lizard bread -- it was a loaf of white bread from a Cuban bakery and it was molded into the form of a reptile--maybe a crocodile? Inside it had a LINE of raisins in a marching row from the mouth to the tail---right where the animal's digestive track would be.
I went to Zona Rosa last night -- visited -- and I have a lot to say about it but I will say it tomorrow. Today I am too in love.
OH my girl child is KILLING me, I could die of this. She is so earnest. Whatever it is she is saying -- and no one knows, no one can understand her -- but whatever it is SHE REALLY MEANS IT. If there is a Great Pumpkin, he will come to her pumpkin patch very first, that's how sincere she is. She is SO sincere that she does not seem to have a sense of humor.
SAMPLE: The other night the cat made an obscene noise with his bottom -- a long whistling hiss of air, puncuated by pauses and burbling. My son clutched his stomach and fell over cackling like a crack-smoking hyena -- I thought he was going to burst all his blood vessels at once. Her? She walked over to me and put her hands on my knees and stared up into my face and told me what she thought about this whole cat-gas thing with widened eyes and distressed eyebrows.
I plan to make her wear little dresses and socks all summer, until people think we are part of some religious group that equates pants with sin. If only she would grow some more hair so I could staple pigtails relentlessly to the top of her head! IF ONLY! IF ONLY!
WARNING: this entry contains repugnant truths
SO my washer broke. In a permanent, all-I-can-do-is-make-a-fultile-grinding-noise way. The washer, she won't
go. Period. And I have 2 little FILTHY children who are breeding grounds
for filthy filth and filthiness.
After 10 days of FIGHTING with the warranty company and NO ONE coming to
fix it and VISIBLE LINES OF SMELL beginning to radiate from our rooftop,
we just said SCREW IT and went and bought a NEW washer. THE CATCH: they
could not deliver it for a 9 days. SO. It is supposed to come today and
LET ME TELL YOU things have reached CRITICAL FILTH MASS here. I have a
couple of times toted baskets of putrid socks and underpants over to my
friend Julie's house, just to keep us all from getting some dreadful
parasitic lung fungus, but still...it's bad. I am afraid D-FAX is going
to come take my dirty little children.
AND MY CHILDREN HAVE NOT HELPED. This is the week that my son decided,
for NO ILLNESS RELATED REASON, to sit up in the middle of the night,
puke approximately 19 quarts into his bed, and then turn around so his
head pointed away from the puke without waking anyone up or asking for
help. He spent the rest of the night flailing about kicking puke all
over. I have a huge baggy of the world's most VILE sheets and when I
finally open that bag a fanged and sentient puke-mold monster is going
to pop out and suck my brain right out through my nostrils.
This is the week that my toddler decided the VERY BEST WAY to poop is to
sneak away, remove ALL ones' clothes, and then poop. Certainly not in a
DIAPER. Or god forbid a TOILET or POTTY CHAIR. Just more like, in
whatever pile of dirty clothes is closest.
SO. You can imagine.
I thig I hab allergies.
Evidence: My eyes are streaming. I have a yellow van, except it was silver and white when I bought it. My throat is bothering me. Atlanta is number 3 on the pollen index with a bullet.
What else could it be?
Answer: A vampire.
Just finished Sara Gruen’s first novel, RIDING LESSONS. I know Sara from a writer's list serve I moderate and you almost hate to read stuff by people you know -- especially if you like them, and I like her -- because OH CRAP! what if it sucks? What if it is sentimental or purple or fraught. THANK GOD the girl can write. No, I mean, REALLY. Excrutiatingly pleasurable to read.
Especially if you like Ponies.
We're going to eavesdrop on the In Town Atlanta Writer's Group, my critters and cronies and fellow writing junkies. I'm still yammering about The Reading of the Sex Scene from The Refrigerator Border Wars, the book I am working on now. I pitched this book to my agent and editor as "Lighter! Funny! Definately lighter than gods, a feel-good book! PERKY EVEN!"
Hmm. And how is that going, Joshilyn?
Oh so glad you asked! Let's see what my critters had to say!
*rewinds tape to the Tuesday meeting of the In Town*
Person 1: I think this is a good place for a sex scene. It's seems right for this book to have some good sex in Chapter 2, pacing-wise.
Person 2: Yes, and it's kind of a nice break from all the violence.
hmmm. Well *I* think it's a funny book. In places. I'm trying to keep it light but these big black dogs keep leaping out and eating dear old ladies and this one character, Bernese, will NOT stop shooting everything that moves. These people are off the chain.
One guy at my crit group reminded me that Chekhov said, If you have a gun hanging on the wall in Act One, it better go off in Act Three.
To which I respond, OH NO ANTON, I say we yank that booger down and start blasting away while the overture is playing.