The other day on this blog I was whinging about the picture of me on my splashpage. It was an older shot taken by my husband so we would have a pic of me to stick on the site. It was taken while Beautiful Maisy who is barely two was still a nurse shark and in it I am still carrying some pregnancy podge and have fuzzy unbrushed hair with cut-them-myself-with-the-meatshears bangs.
That picture wasn't actually a picture of me. It was Frumpelina Momwart, my alter-ego who bakes from scratch, REALLY APPRECIATES a good pair of backless Keds slides from the Target, and has a Pavlovian drool response to anything made by Pampered Chef. She's IN me, but she isn't the whole of me. She isn't even the sum of my parts.
So my friend Shawn Box took matters into his own hands. He demanded my webmaster name and PW and then he all on his own initiative made me a new splash using the same image map that Lily James constructed. He replaced Frumpelina with one of the pictures that Total Genius Photographer Elizabeth Osborne took for Warner to use on the book jacket etc. THANKS SHAWN YOU DARLING. (PS I now have to be very nice to him forever because I don't know how to change my webmaster name and PW, so if you ever come by here and find this site has been completely replaced with pictures of goats in lingerie or somesuch, you can assume I have righteously cheesed Shawn off.)
The pic on the new splash is Glamoricia McExpensiveHair. That's $125 dollar hair you are looking at. WHICH IS OBSCENE. I went to this chi-chi joint in the city and had SERGE go to town on my head and when I went up to the front and they handed me the bill I stroked out and they had to rush me to the hospital right after they finished running my amex.
She isn't me either, but I think she's a better frontman.
BY THE WAY, if you happen to be an agent of the IRS, please note that I would NEVER have 125 dollar hair for anything but the picture that's going on my book jacket and website, so SERGE is clearly a business expense and I ought to be able to deduct my hair without going to prison. La La La.
At any rate, go check out the new splash and let me know what you think!
Writer James Stevens-Arce came up with the idea that editors should start sending rejection haiku instead of the usual form letter. He penned some corkers -- here are my favorites:
We've seen this story
a million times before, but
some of those were good.
Much as the swallows
come back to Capistrano,
enclosed is your book.
coffin of your SASE. A
note. This can't be good.
James challenged us to come up with our own rejection haiku. Hmm. I have been officially asked by the state of Georgia to not, really NOT, for the sake of the children, OH PLEASE DO NOT write poetry in any form. But how can I resist James? I can't. With apologies to my home state:
We put your story
and a dog turd on a scale.
The turd had more weight.
Before you delve into Slang Squad Deux, the Squad Unleashed, you should probably go back and read the front half. Or it wont make sense.
SO ANYWAY, in order to say DAG YO or TRUE DAT with any sort of CONVICTION, you really need to be four things: Young, Black, Urban, and Hip. How many of these things am I? Well, lets see. Thirty-something. Not terribly young. I am so melanin challenged that the flesh of my winter legs has been known to BLIND people. Not black. My neighbor owns a goat. Not urban. By the time I knew who Snoop Dogg was, he had already fazizzled and was doing AOL commercials. Nuff said on the HIP issue.
I have a friends who are young and friends who are black, friends who are urban and ONE friend who CLAIMS she is still hip, thanks, but I dont have a single friend who could legitimately check off more than two on that four thing list. And there isnt any friend I have IN TOWN that can check off more than ONE. SO there is no reason for any of us to trot around DAG YOing and TRUE DATing, and yet we do, because of teen girl squad. And trust me, if a thirty-something white mommy in rural Georgia says True Dat or Dag Yo to me, it can only mean that she is testing me for secret membership in the cult of Strong Bad.
So anyway, that realtor team I told you about came over to pitch us some woo to get our listing, and the Good Ol Boy guy focused on Scott and the hipster black chick zeroed in on me. And so Scott and the GOB were deep into running numbers and marketing plans and probability tables, and the chick and I are talking about CURB APPEAL and how to make the house look SASSY SPICY HOT. And she had a good sense of humor and she and I kinda hit it off and we went from curb appeal to chatter, and somewhere in there, she forgot I was an older white unhip rural mommy for a second. So when I said something that was obviously true, she said, "True Dat." And then I forgot she was black, young, urban and hip for a second and I said "OH OH OH! TRUE DAT! YOU WATCH TEEN GIRL SQUAD???"
And then there was this moment, this really nice moment, where we realized what had happened, and we got tickled with each other and we stood there in my teeny guest bathroom, giggling like loons while Scott and the Good Ol Boy peered in at us from the doorway going WHAT? WHAT? And there was no way to explain it.
In other news, Loretta Swit is on Hollywood squares and she has had a pound of her butt-fat pumped into her upper lip. EXCEPT for that ill-conceived misuse of half her bottom, she looks extremely great.
If you aren't a girl, go away. Today is female biology blog as I stress about the DREAMHOUSE and eat my body weight in chocolate.
SO, let us begin with BABIES MAKE YOU FAT. They just do. And PS WHY are girls so DUMB I mean WHO CARES what you weigh if you are healthy????
Answer: me. Violently and passionately. A two pound difference on the almighty scale is the difference between a REPUGNANT surfeit of self-love and an equally repugnant spasm of self-pity.
Sam made me fat, and I lost MOST (but not all) of that except then Maisy came and made me fatter. Then while beautiful Maisy was a little wee nurse-shark of a baby, I could not fix it. I can't diet while nursing. Period. The beautiful nursing hormones make me peaceful and happy in my fat.
SO after she weaned, I started the SBD and the hardcore I-want-to-be-Julie-and-Jan style workouts, and I was sensible and slow and it took me a year to get to where I wanted to be. The sad thing is I had Lily make the website before I was finished shedding, so I am a size 12 on the old picture I used for the splash, and now I violently HATE that page and am of course TOTALLY incompetent at web design and can't fix it and put in a picture where I am not so chubbly and SHE won't because she says I am A MORON for caring. And she is probably correct.
ANYWAY The other day I went and got a new swimsuit (SIZE 8 THANKS MUCH) and I was standing and glaring at myself in the mirror and Scott came up behind me and before I could say anything he said, "NO! YOU DO NOT LOOK FAT, GOOD LORD WOMAN, YOU CAN NOT POSSIBLY LOOK FAT BECAUSE HELLO! YOU ARE NOT FAT."
And he had busted me because of COURSE I was about to ask. So I said, "I know. I am very thin and amazing--and do you know the best part about being in a size 8 swimsuit?"
And he said, "No what?"
And I said, "I am FINALLY valuable as a HUMAN BEING!"
Then we both got the giggles and fell over and I hurt my knee. THE END.
OKAY here is what happened – I got very distracted because many HOUSE DRAMAS are in progress. I am CHOCK full of bees waiting to see if this or that offer will fly and if we are going to get to MOVE AND GO TO THE HOUSE OF BEAUTIFULNESS AND DREAMS.
We need three things to come to fruition. Yesterday, one of them Fru-itted. Another will Fru-itt or not on Monday. SO --- I am taking a tiny blog break and expect to be back on it on Monday.
We are talking to realtors about various marketing plans to get our baby house sold so we can head for the dream house. One team that came over to pitch us was comprised of a sellers agent (a big-boned hardy white man with a great big booming southern accent---he might as well have been named Joe-Bob as he marched through our baby house in his crap-kickers *cough* my 13 year old nephew reads this blog *cough*) and a buyers agent (a very sylphlike and sophisticated black woman, no southern accent to speak of, wearing 300 dollar shoes.)
Now before this story makes any sense, you have to be in the know about Homestar Runner. My nephew Daniel turned me onto that site, and I have to say, a week without a a new Strong Bad email is a sad sad week indeed.
Strong Bad e-mail is one of those things like Monty Python. If you get it, you get it. If you do not, you probably cannot be taught. It isnt an acquired taste, Im saying. It either lines up perfectly with the giggle center in your brain OR you are one of those people who dont pop a blood vessel laughing when your friend Julies dog lets out an enormous fart that shakes her house to the foundations and then looks at his own butt in surprised reproach, as if to say, What were you thinking, butt?
The PINNACLE of Strong Badness is a series of animated movies that this animated character is supposed to have made himself called TEEN GIRL SQUAD. I think there are five of them now? But the one with the possum is best. At any rate, these three presumably white, presumably suburban, probably 13 year old girls bounce around macking on boys and getting killed by arrows and MSG all the while frontin like playas as they awkwardly fling around black urban hipster slang, e.g. frontin like playas. Its hilarious. IT JUST IS. Especially since Strong Bad himself does all the voices of all the girls on the squad. So its SOME GUY pretending to be Strong Bad pretending to be four seperate 13 year old white suburban girls who are ALL pretending to have street cred. COME ON. THATS HILARIOUS.
ANYWAY, without STRONG BAD and TGS, what are the chances that DAG YO would have made it into my 30-something small town southern mommy vocabulary-of-slang? VERY SLIM. And yet, there it is in the middle of my lexicon, sandwiched in between ill as hornets and off the chain. But it IS slang. That means I have never called up my editor and said, Dag yo, why is the art department ill as hornets? They are off the chain with this cover idea. Thats not the language I speak with her. With her, I speak Comfortable Business American. I subdue my Georgia twang and talk faster than I normally would, for example.
BAH I have nattered on too long about SB e-mail and SLANG and am out of time I will tell you what happened with the realtors tomorrow. Dag Yo. Peace out.
1) I couldn't fall asleep until midnight because I was having anxiety about selling my baby house and buying my dream house. I felt like my whole body was full of bees. I could not relax until I had made Scott go through all the possible ways this could play out and delineate our plan of action 500 times.
2) Once I DID fall asleep, the cat came in. This is the cat who was too fat to groom his own butt, so the vet put him on a strict diet. He came to sit on my head and mention that no one had come by to pour a half gallon of creamed herring into his food dish, and BY THE WAY, could someone get up and turn on the bathroom faucet so he could loudly laplaplap a FRESH drink, his bowl of water seemed a little tired. We hurled pillows at him until he left.
3) An hour later I had a dream in which I ran into Lee Smith at the Kroger, in the produce section. She said to me, "Oh, hey, I read your book, It was....um...fine. I just wondered as I was reading, 'Why so many adjectives?' I mean, you used a million of them, adjectivesadjectivesadjectives, always with the describing. Whats wrong with verbs? Or try some proper nouns or even a good article." Then she walked away. Woke up in a cold lather of sweat.
4) Cat came back about three to notice an ENEMY CAT had come into our bedroom and secreted himself INSIDE OUR FLOOR LENGTH MIRROR. He rightfully defended us against the intruder, hurling his enormous bloated body at the Bad Cat again and again. It sounded like the mirror was getting slapped with the meaty side of a Walrus. We hurled pillows at him until he left.
5) About 3:30, uncomfortable and forming a serious crick in my neck, I got up to go retrieve all our pillows.
6) At five, the cat came back and began having a LONG LUXURIOUS BUTT GROOMING on the foot of our bed. He was so EARNEST and INTENT on his important project that the SOUNDS of it woke us both up.
Scott: Hand me the pillow.
Me: Honey! He can groom his butt! The Diet is WORKING!
Scott: Let's kill him while he is thin. Hand me a pillow.
Me: You can't throw pillows at him for grooming.
Scott: Do you HEAR that. Whatever he is doing to his butt, it shouldn't be legal.
Me: He is chewing his butt like gum. He must have really missed grooming his butt, and this is a tender heartfelt reunion. Now I think I will go back to having anxiety about selling our baby house and buying the dream house! Want to go through the whole scenario and formulate our plan of action again?
Scott: Okay, just let me go down to the kitchen and shoot myself. I mean, make coffee.
The house, not the guy. The guy is our realtor, Jim. My GUY beloved is weilding the camera and does not appear. But the little squidget in the sundress IS beautiful Maisy who is barely two.
If you HATE it, this would be a good time to LIE in the comments. Because I will hear no besmirching smears against my one true love. *tromps off to make out with house.*
Beautiful Maisy is barely two, and she has a white tiger doll named Siegfried. He was named before the Eaten Magician Incident of 2003. I am sure a white tiger doll named Siegfried is already NOT pc. But there it is. We have one. He is Siegfried and any attempts to call him "Tiger" instead are met with a blank stare and a refusal to understand who that is.
That is not even the problem. The problem is, beautiful Maisy can not SAY Siegfried. She used to call him a word that sounded like Swfog. But today, in the Wal-Mart, she very loudly found a new way to incorrectly pronounce Siegfried. She says it so it sounds EXACTLY -- DEAD BANG EXACTLY --- like....faggot. Yes. You heard me. Faggot. Clear as a bell.
And this is the girl who has such a high, loud, carrying voice that she sets off the WHISTLE BEEPER my friend Jan uses to locate her keys every time she gets within a city block of the thing. In fact, Jan gave me a WHISTLE BEEPER because I am ALWAYS losing my keys, and it went off every time Maisy spoke, and Maisy NEVER stops speaking. EVEN when I shoved my keys UNDER THE SOFA CUSHIONS in the living room, Maisy could SET THEM OFF from upstairs. PS Did I mention the WHISTLE BEEPER has no off button???? I eventually took it into the backyard and beat it to death with a brick. 'Nother story. ANYWAY....
Sentences Maisy shrieked cheerfully at 500 decibels as she danced through the Wal-Mart:
---Where my Faggot?
---I love Faggot!
---Bye Bye, Faggot!
---I Broke it, Faggot
And then she held up her monkey in one hand and Siegfried in another and IRREPRESSIBLY chanted FAGGOT MONKEY FAGGOT MONKEY FAGGOT MONKEY for 2 aisles.
Right now she's running through the house yelling FAGGOT! FAGGOT! WHEE Ahhh YOU! as he has gone missing. He has gone missing because we have more errands to run, and Faggot is not coming with us, thanks. Monkey must go alone. We will not go barrelling through the Publix piping out cheerful little derogatives in a high-pitched peeping voice thgat carries for miles. NOT ON MY WATCH.
My house is deeply cute -- so deeply cute it is practically cute on the cellular level. And if you are not a family of four one of whom works from home and MUST HAVE AN OFFICE, you would LIKE it. I have taken TENDER DELICIOUS care of it for 6 years now. I have kept it painted and put in a new TRANE and LOVED IT DEARLY and I have installed a garbage disposal (Here "I" means "Scott") and I have kept it clean and in perfect repair (Here "I" up until recently means "a very good maid service") and LOVED IT but NOW I REALLY need someone else to come and take over loving it so I can HAVE AN OFFICE I am DYING of not enough room. DYING.
And tonight I found my house. It is MY house. It has EVERYTHING on my list of wants. It has NOTHING on my list of don't wants. It is in MY NUMBER 1 school picks districts in my NUMBER ONE neighborhood pick. It has over 90% of the things on my "This would be nice, but is not needed" list. I LOVE IT. I DOUBLE SCRUTIATING LOVE IT and if my house does not sell I can not have it and I if I can not have it my HEART will CRACKLE and SNAP and POP like crappy cereal and I will die. SO.
IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?
Lily: I DIED. Im so glad you wrote that down. When Sam gets a Pulitzer Prize for literature, as he no doubt will, you can look back on his early experiments with figurative language.
Me: Yes, seriously, he is seven and already master of the metaphor. And the drama continues . Sam and I went to the park yesterday with Caroline et al. I was getting ready to leave, and Sam was down by the lake with her and he went up to her and he said UM CAROLINE UM UM CAN I UM UM and she said WHAT, SAM and he said UM UM NOTHING and went creeping away. We started walking to the car and he said WAIT MOM ONE SEC and ran back to her and said CAN I HUG YOU BYE? And she shrugged and said sure and he went charging at her and flung his arms around her and squeezed her nigh unto death and she was yelling GACK ACK I AM BEING STRANGLED and they both giggled like toddlers and then he ran to catch up with me where I was standing with Carolines mother and DYING of love.
Lily: How old is she?
Lily: That is so sweet it is just MURDEROUS. Does she realize at all?
Me: NO! OH NO! And I am not sure it would matter if she did. I mean obviously she isnt going to throw her arms around him and say AT LAST! I HAVE FOUND MY TRUE BELOVED! But she wouldnt use it against him. Shed just think it was cute. Shes sweet, that girl. Right down to her center.
Lily: It's that beautiful transparency of spirit that kills. Its SO innocent
Me: YES! He has NO IDEA what he is feeling, and he doesnt process it at all.
Lily: God help the first person that makes Benny (her son) or Sam cynical. I will murder them personally. You and I can go on a murdering trip and kill them with axes.
Me: Yes, I will have to take whoever she eventually is by her snotty hair and drag her to a dingo patch and tie her down, smeared with delicious mustards.
Lily: Ah yes, a dingo patch, good plan. What the hell is a dingo patch?
Me: A patch full of dingos. Natch.
ATTENTION: Mothers of First Grade Heartbreaking Snotty Power Tripping Egomaniac Beauties in Bud --- Lock up your daughters at puberty, OR make them be kind to my son, OR resign yourself to having them eaten by the wild dogs of Australia. Im afraid these are your only choices.
SO I have been through gods in Alabama once with a fine tooth comb and am now going through again double checking my decisions. I will be done by Wednesday. I WILL. OR I will hurl myself off the high high cliffs onto the jagged rocks below where I will lie dead and broken until the tide comes in and allows the hungry crabs to eat me. One of the two.
Here are all the things no one ever told you about copy editing, but if you plan to be a novelist, you should know so you do not get blindsided.
1) You are not THAT stupid. AND you can write. Really. EVERYONE's book has little squirrely marks on every page. Or everyone I know and was able to ask SAID they did.
2) It's good to LIE. If you get copy edited and all you have is like, one or two little squiggly lines per chapter, and some OTHER writer calls you weeping and says THIS HAS COMMA SPLICES AND SPLIT INFINITIVES AND CRAP I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT OR DECIDE OR CLARIFY OR CHANGE ON EVERY PAGE your answer is an IMMEDIATE and CHEERFUL, "Of course it does! That is totally NORMAL! Come away from the cliff, we can drop down chicken legs for the crabs!"
3) COPY EDITS are really IT. The END. The LAST CHANCE. Fix everything. Even if you are behind on your schedule for the second book which is due ANY MINUTE, stop. Put it away. Copy Edit. Because once the thing is type-set. that's it. That is pretty much your book. Oh sure you can correct a mis-spelling or whatnot, but it will cost the house a LOT of money and irk them, and at that point you can't suddenly rip out a whole chapter and replace it. The way you send it back to the production editor is the way it will be, world without end, forever and ever, amen. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING THOUGH.
4) STET is your friend. By every change you have to write OKAY (as in the change can stay) or STET meaning CLAWS OFF, YOU HARPIES. I was upset because the copy editor unsplit all my infinitives and here down south, we SPLIT them. We also LOVE to end a sentence with a good preposition. In copy editing Rock-Paper-Scissors, I play like this: Clarity drowns Voice, but Voice beats the crap out of Correct Grammar.
And you can pick your nose... etc etc.
I have discovered that NOW, smack dab in the middle of my 30's, I have a LOT in common with Me At Sixteen (except she had a nicer rack). I am STILL as easily invaded as tofu. If you set me next to anything for even a little time, I pick up its flavors.
This means I have to choose my friends a little bit....carefully. It's not good to set an open tofu package near the cat box, metaphorically speaking. So that's why I don't spend a lot of time with, say, crack smoking, venereal disease-addled violent felons. I mean, there are some things you KNOW you do not want to pick up. But less obvious flavors can slip in under the radar.
I have made a GRAVE error in my friend selections of late. GRAVE.
See, my in-town friends USED to be Julie and Amy. This was good. Both of them believed that if sentient molds weren't plotting a coup in the fridge, the housework could wait. And sure, JULIE was a whole-grain fitness free-weights nutburger with 1% body fat, but Amy thrived on cocktails and chocolate and thrice weekly jazzercise. And sure AMY had 4 walk-in closets an almost cosmic understanding of accessorizing, but Julie lived in Levis and felt like if she had on mascara and little lip-gloss, she looked plenty cute, thanks. SO hanging out with them, I could never clean my house, then pick Julie-ness and dress like I was at summer camp, and pick Amy-ness and just take a brisk walk before I had choc-tinis for dinner.
But Amy MOVED to KANSAS and now my in-town friends are Julie and Jan, and WHOOSH, all of a sudden I am having to Become a Better Human Being.
1) Jan is in Julie's 1% body fat club. They both work out like LOONS and have VISIBLY TONED....everything. SO. NOW I get up at 5 am every morning and do thirty minutes of step while wearing ankle weights and then do another half hour of resistance training. EVERY. DAY. If I keep it up for another 15 years, I can perhaps go to the pool with them without longing for death.
2) Jan is a domestic goddess---her house SQUEAKS it is so clean, and Julie put her house on the market and next thing I knew, her homeless dust camels were standing out on the street lofting "Will Work for Food" signs, so of course I immediately fired my maid service and am now giving my bathroom tiles a weekly scrubbing with a toothbrush and bleach. The scary part is, there are moments when, high on lemon Pledge fumes, I actually feel a TINY bit fulfilled as a woman. Pass the heels and the pearls, June.
3) BOTH OF THEM are HEALTH CONSCIOUS EATERS! Now I don't eat white flour or sugar and I look askance at red meat and have replaced all rice and pasta with NOT JUST COUSCOUS but whole grain ORGANIC couscous, THANKS.
Jan is a girly-girl with and Amy-style wardrobe and MULTIPLE hair care products, and if Julie ever gets it in her head to go on a TLC make-over show and forevermore wear nothing but heeled strappy sandals, I am DOOMED-DOOMED-DOOMED. Thank GOD red wine is an anti-oxidant or I would also be doing all this self improvement dead cold sober.
Caroline is about to bloom. Oh, you should see this girl. Long slim legs like a pony, fresh skin with a smattering of freckles, bright eyes. She's already a beauty, but she's still in bud. Lithe as a whippet, she smells a little like a blade of grass. That fresh green smell of something about to open and unfold with blossoms and color and all manner of mysterious perfumes. She is standing right on the very very edge of her young womanhood, teeter-teeter, and any second, she's going topple, right into it all, headfirst. But not yet. Not today.
And today, God help him, my son loves her. My son-- seven, knobby kneed, scabby, a constant blur of spastic motion, obsessed with weaponry and martial arts, believing equally in Jesus and Magic and The Infallibility of His Father---He's all boy. His manhood is this distant island on the far horizon, and yet he loves beautiful Caroline to distraction. With absolutely no self-awareness, with no angst or self-examination, with no understanding, with nothing. He just loves her. He just does.
In the car today on the way over for a playdate with Caroline's little brother, Spencer, my son asked if Caroline would be there.
Me: Yeah, I think Caroline will be home.
Sam: Oh Man! Oh Boy! Caroline! *happy silence* Mom, I know Caroline is older than me, but let me tell you something. She is really my friend.
Me: I know, sweetie.
Sam: No really. She talks to me. She's my friend. And I like her. I like her 100%. I mean, I like Spencer too, but, let's say I like him 99%. But I like Caroline 100%. She's like treasure. Like what some people would call silver or gold, that's what I call Caroline.
Me, I'm getting weepy in the front seat while my son waxes poetic about a girl. Not, I am sure, for the last time, but certainly for the first. And he's burbling over, so uncomplicated and honest in his adoration that there's hardly anything at all in it of the young man he will become. There is barely half an atom of his manhood there. But it's enough. It's enough to show me the future, to make me weep. It breaks my heart. And I think to beautiful Caroline---to all the beautiful Carolines to come---Oh sweetie, don't break his.
20+ hours of copy editing in the last 4 days has sucked the life out of me, and yet here I am VALIENTLY blogging! Pet my hair! I demand it! I am only blogging because I am getting complaining emails from BUTTHEADS who NEVER COMMENT but who still feel entitled to EMAIL me and fuss if I skip a day. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BUTTHEADS! And yet I feel incapable of being even REMOTELY amusing due to EXTREME copy editing brain deadness. If I was a copy editor, if that was my ACTUAL JOB I had to do forever and ever every day world without end amen, I would pull my eyes out and dandle them from their stalks after about 15 minutes. I want to go find my copy editor and KISS HER ON THE LIPS and say THANK YOU THANK YOU MY LORD THANK YOU. She found every comma splice there IS.
My house still has not sold. BAH! Over at my friend Kiras blog, she is yapping today about a real estate agent who is actually out loud named MR. DICK CROOK.
OH, speaking of Mr. Crook, except without the Mr. or the Crook part, IF YOU FOLLOW, maybe I can blog about the marriage enrichment Bible class my husband and I are attending on Thursday nights.
Now you have to understand, my husband is a great big smarty. Double smart. Thinks deep thoughts. He is smarter than me, but I do not mind. Much. Especially since he does not have to back up his smartness by feeling a lot of deep feelings. I do not like men who FEEL things and write poetry about it and experience weldt angst. I like GREAT BIG TALL DARK HAIRED MEN who understand plumbing and like to eat meat and speak mostly in grunts and clicks and never NEVER navel gaze. But SMART is good.
My husband not only READS Stephen Jay Gould, he UNDERDSTANDS him. k? Not only does he understand him, he ENJOYS him, k? So the revelatory tone of most simply-pimply OMG SO PATRONIZING self help books makes him dizzy. HE IS DOING A GOOD JOB IN THIS CLASS. So far he has read the book and avoided going psycho critical reader and eviscerating it in the middle of class.
I said to him very sincerely before we began, "Please baby be NICE, this is for fun because our friends are taking it, so enjoy hanging out and enjoy the VERY GOOD discussions and the very sincere wisdom of the teachers who have been married for like 65 years and do not let the BOOK make you homocidal." And he is doing it. It's very amusing to watch him valiently try to look serious and interested as he reads that he should write down lists of positive AFFIRMATIONS he can read to me at the end of the day.
SAGE ADVICE: Did she cook a good dinner? TELL HER!
His idea is to pair up specific AFFIRMATIONS with specific sexual favors, like "HONEY! FABULOUS CHIPPED BEEF!" ought to earn an under the table grope.
LAST THING: I lost my mind from all the copy editing and wrote 5 page hand written letters to lee smith and michael chabon today -- if I could PICK ONLY 3 people to ask to blurb my book-- oh lord thats hard -- I am a voracious reader and I tell you of the 35 I listed, they all FREAKING ROCK, but if I could ONLY pick three... I would say Smith for sure then Chabon or John Irving or Christina Schwarz ALL OF WHOM make me DIE OF LOVE book by book every time. Or maybe Anne Patchett? ANNE LAMOTT. Alice Seabold. See, too hard. But ANYWAY, even under the pernicious influence of copy-editing I was too intimidated to even query Irving. So. I only managed to write to smith and chabon because I know people who know them so could say "HI remember your dear friend _____? Well (s)he gave me your address SO BY THE WAY HI PLEASE READ MY BOOK I LOVE YOU."
ME = BIG GIANT WEENY.
Being copy edited is a humbling experience.
In front of the copy edited version of gods in Alabama that I am OKAYing and STETing is a list of every character who appears in the book. The copy editor makes a list of all character names, place names and made-up words so that she can check them for consistency, so she will notice if Jean becomes Jane at one point, see?
I look at this list of characters in the book I wrote a year ago, and I think, who the heck is CINDA? Who is DAWNA? Who is GRETA??? All these people are IN THE BOOK. Perhaps they are waitresses. Or pets. I have NO memory of them and all of them sound like C-cup blondes. I OUGHT to remember them. WHO IS DAVEY BUD FREEMAN??? Wasn't he on LETTERMAN? Well, he is in the book. He first appears on page 211. Oh RIGHT, he is a BABY.
Made-up words that appear in the book include Candy-asses, lookit, nutburger, and unfornicate.
I overuse the word little to an OBSCENE degree. She has taken out about 50 thousand uses of it. I will use the word 5 times a page without blinking. Apparently, I REALLY LIKE THE WORD LITTLE. I also like JUST and EVEN, but NOT half as much as that PRINCE among words, LITTLE.
Also she notices repetitions of words that are close to each other. For example, I ACTUALLY WROTE THIS SENTENCE AND SAW NOTHING WRONG WITH IT FOR 50 THOUSAND REVISIONS:
"The bottoms of his high-tops almost brushed the top of the highest heap."
All in one sentence we have bottom, high, top, top, and high? OKAY! I revised it though! It is now much better and more "Me-ish.". It now reads:
"The little bottoms of his little high-tops littley touched the little top of the littlest high little heap little little little."
11 more chaptters to go! *STET STET STET*
I have before me THE COPY EDITED VERSION of gods in Alabama.
Color me DAUNTED. Pencilled squiggles in various shades are prancing mysteriously across EVERY PAGE. I have yet to hit a page with less than two little symbols infesting the writing. One notable page had over 20. I have no idea what any of these little symbols MEAN. I have to write OKAY or STET by every one of them. Okay means, "Okay to make the change that the little symbol is indicating you wish to make, so it is probably too bad I have no idea what the little symbol is indicating..." STET means "Please get your little symbols off that, thanks, because whatever it is you are objecting to, I did it ON PURPOSE."
My production editor is named Penina. SHE IS VERY PATIENT. I can tell she is very patient because I have called her 90 thousand times to ask about various little symbols and she has not yet dispatched a sniper to put a bullet in me. Or maybe the sniper is hung up at airport security.
DIGRESSION: In Chicago, post grad school, I had a job grading papers for a correspondence school. Scott's job paid our rent, but this little job let me be home with Baby Sam and still afford luxuries like food and electricity.
There were three kinds of students.
1) Home schooled children named Rahab and Malachai who had exquisite penmanship. I could grade one of their perfect essays in about 4 minutes.
2) People in their 30's and 40's wanting to get their diploma. Once again, four or five minutes to grade.
3) Expelled drug-ridden rebel naughty Sloppy Drunk James-Deany-Teenies whose parents had tied them to chairs and super-glued pens in their hands and said WRITE AN ESSAY NOW FOR THIS CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL OR WE WILL PERSONALLY KILL YOU. These papers could take an EON to grade as I had to make as many corrections to their sheets as the copy editor had to make to mine.
ACTUAL SAMPLE SENTENCE:
"In Oldendays you would have drive an oxen instead of the car of Nowdays."
In an essay entitled "My favorite Pet" I found this gem: "I have a dog. It is a poddle. It is a poddle named Penina."
I got so tickled with this Penina Poddle essay that I showed to Scott, and Penina Poddle entered the lexicon as a Thing to Call Babies. Girl babies were Peninas, and Sam was The Poddle all the way until he was three and became, at his own insistence, a mutant ninja turtle with an invisible pet cow named Ontag. At which point Penina Poddle sort of became a catch all phrase meaning anything sweetsy, and we even ended up making up a THEME SONG for Penina Poddle. You have to sing it like a rat-packer, and it goes like this: PENINA PODDLE! PENINA PODDLE! SCOO DA BE DEE BA! (repeat until death)
Now I have a production editor. Also named Penina. And every time I call her to figure out what a little symbol means (which is about every 15 minutes) she answers her phone and says "Penina" and all the rat-packers start singing the Penina Poddle theme song in my head. SCOO DA BE DEE BA! Not very condusive to making MS decidions that are, as Penina assures me in her cover letter, PERMANENT AND UNCHANGEABLE AND REALLY HOW THE BOOK WILL READ FOREVER AS WE ARE ABOUT TO TYPESET IT IN STEEL AND CONCRETE.
SCOO DA BE DEE BA!
I am beginning to hope the sniper comes soon.
I am in the sort of pain where, when a bad wave of it comes, your vision kind of clouds over and sounds mute themselves and you smell only the insides of your own nostrils. All your senses dampen and muffle themselves, so you can better experience the radiating core where a nerve just beneath a tooth of yours is saying PAIN! PAIN! PAIN! to the brain, over and over, in pulses, as if if thinks the brain is STUPID, as if it thinks the brain didn't get the message the first 900 million times.
Sadly, THE NERVE IS CORRECT. The brain IS stupid. And in its defense, the nerve has been sending little twinges of *polite cough* discomfort* polite cough* for days and days. But the brain ignored it. The brain said, "I do not feel you nerve, so shush, and anyway I have a CLEANING in July, And I can mention these little twinges then la la la."
Because the brain has a bad spot in it, like a bruise on a peach, a soft irrational blue-black rotting thumbprint of rabid uncontrollable phobic fear, and the spot is labelled "DENTIST."
At my dentists office, they have a BIG NOTE on my file that says "total psycho, handle kindly and administer many drugs" written in BRIGHT RED 72 point font. For a CLEANING they put me in a procedure chair and strap on the gas. They are gentle and patronizing and speak in soft tones and pet my hair, because otherwise I leap up, ripping at the bib, shrieking, trailing spittle, and the last they see of me is my puffy tail boucing away over the hills.
SO Brain ignored the nerve, and on Saturday, the MINUTE my husband left town, the MINUTE I was all alone with two tiny children and could therefore not take any SERIOUS pain meds, the VERY DAY my DENTIST LEFT THE FREAKING COUNTRY, the nerve had had just about enough with the discomfort mentioning and decided to TRUMPET ABOUT AGONY instead.
SO it hasn't been a good weekend. And I am about to leave for the SUBSTITUTE dentist's office, and she doesn't KNOW me, so it is not going to be a good day. *glumps down more valium* I have learned a valuable lesson though. Oh, it's not "next time a nerve begins twinging, go to the dentist immediately." Nothing actually USEFUL like that.
I have learned this: When playing biological rock-paper-scissors, Brain cuts nerve discomfort, but agony wraps brain.
I like drama with my morning coffee. I specialize in building up the egos of molehills. I think it's fun, I think it's funny, and I quite frankly enjoy living my life in glorious technicolored hyperbole. It keeps me out of bars.
But today nothing bad happened at all.
It could have. Here are some facts:
1) Scott (Mr. Husband-of-me) went to Home Depot.
2) I called Ultimate Pizza to ask them to deliver dinner.
3) Last weekend, Scott's mother told Sam a long story about how Scott used to walk to the corner to meet HIS dad after work.
These things are not related, except somehow they became related in my seven year old son's head. Sam heard me calling for pizza and ASSUMED his dad went to get it, and the Nana story was germinating down in his loamy fertile brainfields, and lo, a wonderful idea sprouted.
Sam came up to me and said, "Can I go meet dad?"
I said SURE! thinking he meant "Can I go squat in the yard and watch for the car" when really he meant "Can I go haring up the road, leave our subdivision, and then attempt to run across a supremely busy intersetion where I will be squashed like a bug or, if I make it across, may I enter a large shopping complex and wander around seeking my father among strangers until I am abducted by a truckload of slavering pedophiles?"
SURE! I said cheerfully. SO off he went. He left the house and went hiking to meet his dad (who was way across town at Home Depot) at Ultimate Pizza...and I was blithely getting my house ready to show on Sunday and not worrying at all because Sam is seven and he plays in the yard all the time. I was thinking I would maybe peek out the window and make sure all his limbs were still attached every ten minutes or so...no biggy, life as usual, la la la.
A few minutes pass. The phone rings. It is an acquaintance from church, Misty, forever more to be known Beautiful Lovely Gracious Adored and Observant Brilliant Beloved Misty, or BLGAaOBB Misty for short, or perhaps just The Hand of God. BLGAaOBB Misty lives WAY on the other side of my neighborhood, and she was turning into our subdivision when Sam came trotting out the front of it, making a beeline for his date with Death-by-Squashing.
Misty has a boy Sam's age, and this THANKFULLY struck her as an ODD and INSANE thing for a 7 year old to be doing. She stopped and, in her role as Hand of God, put his butt in her van and called me and said, hesitantly, in a carefully nuetral and non-judgemental tone in case I was actually a BIG HEAD CASE, "Um Joshilyn did you tell Sam he could walk up to The Ultimate Pizza and meet his dad?"
At which point my head popped right off my neck and I shrieked WHAT?!?!??! WHAT?!?!?! and I ran to the yard to see it was absolutely EMPTY of any sort of perfect and beloved boychild, and my heart gibbered in fear and horror even though by the time I knew anything about it he was already sitting, whole and unharmed, in the highly safety rated Nissan Quest of The Hand of God.
Honestly, atheists make me crazy.
OKAY. If you read this blog semi-regularly, you may be coming to the conclusion that I am a bit of a HIGH STRESS individual. Not really a take-it-easy, go-with-the-flow, serenity-now kinda girl. In fact, you would not be surprised to learn my high school classmates voted me "Most Likely to Stroke Out Before 40."
Right now, several things are conspiring to make me crave medication, and at first they may not seem connected, BUT OH YES THEY ARE TOO. Here are the things:
1) My house is on the market.
2) MY BELOVED ONE-EYED WRETCHED PILE OF CRAP (aka Schubert the cat) went to the vet because he has Butt Dandruff. The vet said, "The reason the cat has butt dandruff is that you have allowed him to become SO VERY EXTREMELY AMAZINGLY FAT that he can not groom his HINDPARTS." (My vet, a curmudgeonly old country Georgia type that crashes around in boots yanking out baby cows and spitting brown juices, actually did not say "hindparts." He said "ass." But my 13 year old nephew sometimes reads this blog, so I am going to pretend he said "hindparts.")
WELL, my vet gave me a very stern talking to about CATS and WILLPOWER (they do not have any) and said if the cat is fat, he is NOT a bad cat. Rather, I am a bad person.
SO I put the cat on a diet. Now my vet is pleased with me, but the CAT thinks I SUCK.
The cat has decided to show his displeasure by running ahead of me every time I go into the kitchen, and as soon as he ascertains that I am not on a mission of kibble-bowl-filling, he stands up and RAKES HIS CLAWS DOWN MY KITCHEN CABINETS. LEAVING LONG HIDEOUS GAPING WOUNDS. Which (Remember number 1? Because here is where it all comes together.) I would just ignore except, MY HOUSE IS ON THE MARKET. (See! TOLD YA!) No house hunter puts "Gaping wounds in the kitchen cabinets" on the PRO side of a pro and con list. *sigh*
SO in order to DISCOURAGE the cat (without beating him), I have taken to throwing water at him every time he stands to rake his front claws down the kitchen cabinets. In fact, I try to remember to CARRY a little cup of water with me INTO THE KITCHEN every time I am going in there to NOT feed him, so I am all PREPARED.
WELL the other day I was having my 35TH Nervous Breakdown over these blurb letters--my editor's assistant e-mailed and I needed write several MORE after I thought I was done.
SO I call my friend Jill and weep copious stress tears, and am toting a little cup of water around bcause I know in a moment I am going to go in the kitchen and eat 14 pounds of dark chocolate. So I am talking to Jill, WEEP WEEP, and trying not to stroke out, and trying to pick up toys because someone is coming later to see the house, and I am having a hard time managing the weeping and the water cup and the phone and the toy-picking-up because I only have 2 hands and 4 working braincells to devote to each task.
So I am talking to Jill, WEEP WEEP, and I think, "I need to get rid of one thing so I can pick up toys, can't be phone, talking on phone, better get rid of this water cup, why am I carryingf a water cup? Oh, right, it is to dump on the cat!" So I am talking to Jill, WEEP WEEP, and not thinking very clearly and I clock the cat sleeping peacefully on the sofa and WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT IT dump the water cup on him, because THAT IS WHAT THE WATER CUP WAS FOR.
Needless to say, the cat was not best pleased. Also needless to say I felt like the MEANEST GRINCH LIVING because there he is BLAMELESSLY sleeping and I...oh my. It does not bear further examination. Or rather, I can't bear any. SO.
I have a friend named Jay who moved to Arkansas and now sends me links to BIZARRO news stories. He says these two things are not related. *looks skeptical* Jay is the SURF MASTER and if it is inapropriate, unpalatable, hilarious and bizarre all at once, HE CAN FIND IT. And if he can find it, he sends it to me. I have been TRYING to make him do a LINK OF THE DAY blog, because my LORD he sniffs out TRAIN-WRECKS! I mean you can not LOOK AWAY from these news stories.
Here is the one he sent me yesterday, and if you do not go read it, the rest of this blog entry will make NO SENSE AT ALL. Plus, its just....astounding. So make like Rikki-Tikki Tavi! Run and find out!
Jay: *Sneeze Sneeze Sneeze* I'm having a sneeze attack. Which, if I pass out, would be about as bad as a caesarean, apparently.
Me: Do not trouble me with your nose issues. I am very terribly busy and important. Currently, I am searching for "man mows his testicles off in bizarre lawn accident" articles to send to you as a THANK YOU for the SELF C SECTION article.
Him: The strongest man in america is a woman in mexico.
Me: And he is clinically insane.
Him: Every time Gig (Editor: Mrs Jay = Gig) complains about childbirth henceforth, I shall say "How bad can it be? A 5 ft tall mexican woman gave herself a c-section without anesthesia!"
Me: Yeah, tell her that. That will get you laid, betcha.
Him: Also, big mega props to the dad for going out drinking when his wife is due and not coming home until after she's been in labor for 12 hours, performed a c-section, passed out, come to, ruined a sweater, and sent the six-year-old for help.
Me: Yes, it's nice work if you can get it..... Hint: You can't get it.
Him: Hey, this swill's not going to drink itself!
Me: You do not have the resume, my friend. you can APPLY, but trust me...never gonna happen.
Him: I bet he was pissed if it was his sweater.
Me: BAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA *snork* *choke* *gasp* OH MAN! HA! That line deserves a prize. Also! You just wrote my blog entry for tomorrow! Hurrah!
Him: Really? I been trying to break into the blog for months!
Yes. Really. See Above.
Before any of this makes sense, you should know I am in a secret friend program....or I WAS. AND if you ARE my secret friend, you should not have a hurt feeling just because I am locked in mortal combat with you for most of this blog. Because really, yes, I understand this is an internal drama mostly between me and me. You may put on a nametag that says "Catalyst" and go get a soda from the icebox.
HERE WE GO!
I had a secret snit fit and got secretly angry with my secret friend and am now secretly not speaking to her. AND I DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHO IT IS THAT I AM NOT SPEAKING TO because....say it with me...she is SECRET.
QUERY: On a scale of 1 - 10, how mentally ill is this?
She did NOTHING wrong, really, she just has SUCH bad timing. I was handwriting all these letters to AUTHORS I ADORE asking for blurbs-- and to say it was not going well is an understatement. To say I was a BARE moment away from TOTAL BRAIN IMPLOSION is STILL understatement.
I wrote every author an individual letter, based on WHY I liked their work etc etc -- BUT -- ONE THING I put in EVERY LETTER was a variation on "I know you have 10 million things on your plate and a deadline, but it would mean so much to me if you could just find a moment to read my novel and, if you enjoy it, say a few kind words." SO I am essentially asking my SUPERHEROES for a moment of their invaluable time, and WHILE I am flogging myself through letter 18 or so, I get an email from Secret Friend saying blithely "OH OOPS I GUESS I HAVE BEEN NEGLECTING YOU THIS WEEK BUT MY GOODNESS I AM SO BUSY I HAVE NOT HAD TIME FOR YOU."
At which point I fell on the floor and wept and bit at the carpet and writhed and wailed "OH OH OH MY OWN SECRET FRIEND IS TOO BUSY FOR ME WHAT MAKES ME THINK ANNE TYLER HAS TIME???"
It is a good thing she remained secret, because my husband is the one who had to peel me off the floor where I lay foaming and weeping and he had to ply me with wine and hot baths and juju fruits until I was no longer in immediate danger of spontaneous combustion, and he REALLY does not need to know who she is.
1) Does the explanation make my mental illness score HIGHER or LOWER? What is it now?
2) I SO wanted to blog the SECRET FIGHT, but WHAT IF SHE SECRETLY READS MY BLOG? Now that the cat has eviscerated the bag and scampered joyously away up the street, I ask you, Should I have blogged it??!? or not??!?