Warner’s art department has made me the most beautifulest cover. EVER. I can hardly go on. I look at it and tremble with love. Want to go see? ONLY go if you have a GOOD, GOOD connection because it is a HUGE file. RUN AND GO SEE like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi! Assuming you are a mongoose with a cable modem.
ADDENDUM: If you are on dial-up you can see a SMALLER fast loading version here! BIG THANKS dej! (dej is apparently the girl-version of Shawn Box.)
So at this cocktail party in New York I met the art director who designed the cover. VERY cool woman. SO cool. I am not just blowing smoke here. She’s cool so deep she’s practically cool on the cellular level. Okay, you know how when Meg Ryan’s husband got kidnapped, Russell Crowe went on and on about how he needed proof of life before they would pay? Well, here below I shall offer you PROOF OF COOL in four words. Ready?
She read the book.
This may seem like a no brainer. I mean, she’s designing the cover, so of COURSE you would think she read the book right? Right? *cough* Well. Let’s just say it doesn’t ALWAYS happen that way. A cynic would go so far as to say it often times does not happen that way. But I am not a cynic. So. Let’s just agree on her extreme coolness and let it go at that.
When I first saw the cover and met her, I GUSHED all over her, “OH! OH! OH! See how the girl is kinda CROUCHED over the wheel, hell for leather, with her shoulders set and tense, she’s all HUNCHED and VOLOTILE, roaring South on a mission with NO SEAT BELT? Well. That’s Arlene! You’ve pegged Arlene exactly!”
And she started laughing and she said, “Do you know what it took to get that shot?”
First of all, they were out in JERSEY because apparently Jersey is “the country” to people who live in New York. (Sticking a Weed in my Teeth and Snickering at Urbanites aside, I have to admit that the rail fence and the rolling green vine-covered hills and golden-brown frondy-wheaty things? It LOOKS like the drive you encounter post-Nashville.)
Anyway they get out to the shoot, and the convertible sent to meet them has headrests. SO it’s no good. One of the tech guys there says “Hey, my cousin has some kind of old convertible without headrests. And he lives out here in Jersey.” SO the whole crew sits around while he goes and steals his cousins car. Then they start driving up and down this little piece of road with the photographer perched precariously on the back shooting and getting ill as hornets with the model’s hair, which is not apparently BLOWING properly.
So they stop driving up and down, and set up all these FANS and the photographer still-shoots it and….the model’s hair will NOT behave. It won’t get behind the project. The hair has NO vision and is not being a team player.
BACKSTORY: Before the shoot I had the following series of e-mails (which I shall paraphrase) with Warner.
Warner: What color is Arlene’s hair?
Me: Long, dark and brown.
Warner: Are you SURE?
Me: Positive. It is long dark brown hair. Brown like a mink. Long like my wind. Dark like the darkling night of the new moon.
Warner: But what about in the sections in the PAST?
Me: Long. Dark. Brown.
Warner. What about the sections in the PRESENT?
Me: In every section in every time, her hair is long and also dark and also brown, it was longdarkbrown when she burst from the womb, she shall die in her bed at 80, surrounded by her grandchildren and her longddarkbrown tresses, she will go to heaven where it will be longdarkbrown into eternity, world without end, amen.
Warner: OKAY! SO LONG AND DARK AND BROWN! CHECK!
Back at the shoot, the Long! Dark! Brown! hair is still displeasing the photographer by refusing to react to wind properly. Finally, they march over to a farmhouse nearby and borrow a leaf blower. They park the car in the most Alabama-y spot in Jersey and rev up the machine and…*click!* Perfection.
In other words? The REASON Arlene-on-the-cover looks so tense and hell-bent and PERFECTLY ARLENE-ISH? Is that the poor model has been hunching around in Jersey all day long while they swapped out cars and drove up and down and berated her hair and she’s exhausted and HAD IT and NOW, JUST off camera, a techman is peeling her lips back and pouring gritty lawn detritus directly into her eyeballs by blasting her in the face with a leaf blower.
Hey. Whatever works.
PS AS SOON as Scott can make me a thumbprint version I will re-do the gods in Alabama page. HEY-- I DID put some of the blurbs up! And um um um! What do you think of the cover? And, um, Can anyone figure out what is showing IN ARLENE'S REVIEW MIRROR?
This whole contest has me thinking about NAMES.
If I had another baby, and it was a boy, I would name him Lion of.
Lion of Jackson. It is a GREAT name. It almost makes me want to have another baby so I can name him that.
If I got another cat, it would be a HONKIN' BIG mighty yellow tomcat and I would name him Feminists. I think more pets ought to be named for philosophies or social/political movements. I hope to one day have matching blue point Siamese kittens called Freudians and Communists. And if I get a puppy I am calling her Marxism. It's fun to say things like "Marxism has chewed my shoes up. Again!" Or I could say, "FREUDIANS! DID YOU PEE IN MY SOCK DRAWER!" And then my husband could say, "No, I think it was Communists."
My friend Matt lost a bet before he was even MARRIED, and now he is obligated to name his first born child “LASERBEAK.” Wow. Laserbeak Willer. Boy or girl, machts nicht. His wife is not exactly thrilled, but it is a QUESTION OF HONOR. I mean, a bet is a bet. And what’s thirty thousand dollars worth of therapy for your kid when held up against your honor?
As for the CHARACTER NAME…I STILL Like Evelyn best of all possible names. Evelyn Crabtree has a soft, almost helpless femininity, and yet a touch of Pathetic Grandeur to it. As if great things were expected of her, but Alas! It. Didn’t. Pan. Out. However, I have been given BY YOU NICE PEOPLE a new name I like almost almost almost as much. One that is not a major bath-products chain. Thanks to everyone who HELPED! I got just over 200 GOOD names--although SOME of you only sent one and OTHERS CHEATED and sent 10 or 12!
Most popular choices? Amber and Crystal were each sent in five times.
Grant of Georgia suggested Menona WHICH IS PERFECT. Can’t use it though. BAH. See, this character’s MOTHER is named ONA and her daughter is named NONNY. So. It sounds like a nursery rhyme.
Ona, Menona and Nonny
Set sail in a silver shoe
Ona, Menona and Nonny,
White trashier than me or you…
I also LOVED Leona, which I got from two sources, a woman named Janelle of Some-State-Or-Nother and my friend Jan. But --- same problem. Ona, Leona and Nonny. It’s still too Winkenny, Blinkenny, Noddy.
I also flirted for quite some time with both TAMMY (sent by Kristen and Amy), and TANYA (Sent by Kimberly). Jolynn (Mir sent it) was good, but just a SHI away from my OWN name. I also liked SISSY or CEECEE (sent by Caty).
Finally, early Tuesday, DAN of VIRGINIA sent in the right name…Melony.
Melony has that good “ON” sound I liked so much in LEONA and MENONA, but the emphasis is on the first syllable and it’s a short O, so it works. Also it’s very soft and helpless and pathetic and grand and 70’s all at once. I love it. LOVE IT.
BIG KISSES, DAN.
I hope that that’s short for DANIELLA because I am mailing you some CHICK LIT! And you get bragging rights long into perpetuity or until my editor hates Melony and changes it cruelly to Heloise. Whee.
I am now going to go begin the arduous process of picking out a new name for Evelyn Crabtree, so this your LAST CHANCE to enter The CONTEST TO WIN FREE THINGS!
Let’s say no more entries past 6 AM tomorrow?
NOW, I shall share with you…My New Beauty Regime. I invented it on the retreat.
1) Get very nervous about Public Speaking and throw up a bunch of chicken.
2) Don’t sleep for 36+ hours.
3) Cry a lot.
4) Take Tylenol PM and sleep on your face for six hours.
5) Draggle out and march around in the rain so your hair puffs up into humps.
6) Cry more.
AND THEN YOU WILL BE GORGEOUS!
I followed this plan over the weekend and was SO amazingly lovely that by the end of the retreat I am surprised people did not go BLIND when they gazed upon me. A few people, come to think of it, may have pulled their eyes out and stamped on them as I passed, but I don’t count that. I mean, like, spontaneously go blind. From my GLOW.
Another plus, I now know EXACTLY what I will look like on the day I turn 50. That is, of course, assuming that I pick up a giant heroin habit and drop dead about a week before the day I turn 50.
Or, in plain English…let’s just say I have looked better.
Okay---I may have come home looking like hell AND sick as a dog, but it was a fantastic retreat in other, quieter ways. I am RENEWED and making all manner of vows to be a better person.
We’ll see how that works out.
The CONTEST TO WIN FREE THINGS is still going on. So. Enter. It will run all weekend while I am away at a retreat and when I return on Monday I will read all the entries and Announce the winner on, say, Tuesday? How does Tuesday work for you?
I am having an engorged, slug-colored, oozing, twitchy NERVE about the retreat. Mental illness number is ON THE MOVE. And it ain’t going DOWN. I am getting DECKLOADS of all new CRA-ZI-OH! cards. It’s like The CRA-ZI-OH! Women’s Retreat Expansion Pack.
Here is a TINY SAMPLE of all the cards I am taking with me…
1) Fear of not sleeping AT ALL. I am an insomniac from WAY BACK and being in a room with OTHER PEOPLE who are NOT MY HUSBAND and trying to sleep fills me with dread and loathing. So I packed Tylenol PM. Which brought on…
2) Fear of falling heavily into a drug-induced sleep while everyone else is still up chatting and so, all unbeknownst to me, I begin RELENTLESSLY TOOTING and TOOTING and TOOTING while everyone else in the room giggles and rolls their eyes at each other and the whole rest of the weekend there will be fart-jokes surging all around me, deadly fart-joke-ian currents under the calm surface of a peaceful looking sea, and everyone will get them but me, and snicker while I say "WHAT? WHAT?" and YEARS LATER people who go on this retreat will STILL be talking about the legendary farter that blasted a hole in bed nine.
3) NONE of my especial friends can make it to the retreat. Julie has to work, Jan has kid-stuffs she can’t miss, and Vicki is still nursing her youngest and so therefore her breasts can not leave the state. SO! Now I have Fear of being seated at lunch between two people who have their best friends on the other side of them who will each turn their backs to me while I sit in between their cruel spines picking at the leaves I am eating because I am horrified at being away from my aerobic step and my ankle weights so I KNOW I won’t eat anything, just LEAVES, moistened and salted only by my weeping.
PS – THREE has HAPPENED before. I went to a church luncheon once and was seated between two people’s backs. I NEVER SAW A HUMAN FACE. Not even a PROFILE. Oh , well I did see the profiles of the two people across from me as they spoke exclusively to each other and never looked across the table. And that was the last time we went to THAT church.
See, here’s the thing. NO ONE EVER BELIEVES ME WHEN I SAY THIS. NO ONE, EVER, except my husband who knows me to the bone. But here is the truth. I’m shy. When I say it out loud? People laugh and point. And snort and say, OH YEAH YOU ARE SHY. Because I am LOUD and I never SHUT UP. But secretly in my soft pink middle? I am deadly deadly shy and being around people I do not know well makes me frantic and nervous and lip chewy and terrorized. No one ever believes me because The Lord knows I give good Ramona. But I am. SO.
EXAMPLE: I have a new friend named Vicky. Vicky is teeny and God hit her upside the head VERY hard with the pretty stick. She’s like, TV pretty. When she first started hanging out with my little clot of especial friends I became convinced that she didn’t like me because I am tall and have a larger frame than she does and am a total klutz. I can trip over DUST MOTES. Now that was VERY unfair to her. Vicky is NOT shallow like that. But she is so TEENY and CUTE that I felt ogre-ish and outsize around her and I projected all this onto her and took me several weeks to resign myself to the fact that maybe I wasn’t this HORRID SHAMBLING MOUNTAIN OF BUMBLING OOZE and yes, she genuinely was trying to make friends with me instead of just putting up with me because she liked Jan and Julie.
Yes, that WAS a week when external forces had pushed my mental illness THROUGH THE ROOF, but HELLO, it’s up there this week too. BLAH! I better go pack. We who are about to alienate every potential future friend in the universe by Tylenol PM induced super-toots salute you.
Yes. It's really a contest.
BACKGROUND: I have to change a character’s name in this novel. (Not gods. The follow-up book, tentatively title The Refrigerator Border Wars.)
I HATE THE FACT THAT I MUST CHANGE HER NAME. *pule* She’s a minor character, so I ought to just change it and SHUT UP, but but but. I do not WANT to. She IS Evelyn Crabtree. Evelyn Crabtree exactly sounds like her.
But she can’t be called that in this book because SOME DORK decided to make a lot of (admittedly FABULOUS) bath products and call his store Crabtree and Evelyn. You would THINK it was TWO dorks, wouldn’t you? One dork named Mr. Evelyn who joined forces with a Mr. Crabtree, and they conspired to RUIN MY BOOK by uniting their names forever in upscale malls all across America. I could have MAYBE forgiven them, because after all, they couldn’t have HELPED being born Mr. Evelyn and Mr. Crabtree. But - get this - they DO NOT EXIST.
The store was founded by ONE GUY. And HIS name was MR. HARVEY. He named the store after AN ACTUAL KIND OF TREE and SOME DEAD CONSERVATIONIST HE LIKED. What are the FREAKIN’ CHANCES? Why couldn’t he have picked Dogwood and Goodall? Weeping Willow and Bellamy? DILL WEED AND FREAKING JACQUES COUSTEAU? But no, he picked Crabtree and Evelyn, and now we hates him my preshusses, yes, we do. But we love his almond massage oil and ALL his gardenia scented craps. *sigh*
So I need a new name. Crabtree is NON-NEGOTIABLE because it’s a whole big family and I have 19 ZILLION of them running around and if I change CRABTREE I have to change EVERY OTHER CRABTREESES FIRST NAME to go with the new last name and it IS NOT BEARABLE. So EVELYN has to go.
CONTEST: Think up a new first name for Evelyn Crabtree. I am flummoxed.
1) A copy of Lani Diane Rich’s* funny and foul-mouthed Chick-Lit book TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR.**It’s not signed but I can FORGE her sig in it if you like. I can give her a really girly-curly signature using eighth-grade-cheerleader script that puts a heart instead of a dot over the i’s. *snicker* No, I am KIDDING. But I will send you the book.
2) Bragging rights, cuz I will use your substitute name in the book. You can get a copy when it comes out and take it to parties and get drunk and flip it open obnoxiously and say “See that name? I named that character. Used to be EVELYN, can you imagine? How dumb was THAT! Evelyn Crabtree! Yeah, like the STORE. HA! Lucky that novelist had ME around!”
Okay now the rules…
You can only enter ONE NAME per entry/e-mail. But you can have up to three entries, just in case you think of a better one later.
It cannot be Beverly. Well, it can. Go ahead and enter Beverly. But you will lose.
(I KNOW! It seems PERFECT on the surface---I mean LISTEN to it with the burr of the R and the nasty undertones of that center V….but it will cost you the contest. Because trust me, it can’t be Beverly.)
Your entry only counts if it is EMAILED to me (No comments section entries, although comments are as always welcomed and checked for 900 times a day)
In the event that two or more people send me the exact same name and I like it and use it, both/all the names will go into a Yankee’s cap my friend Matt sent me (so I could walk around New York and only look like a dorky tourist from the nose DOWN). My non-partisan seven-year-old son, Sam, will pull the winner’s name out.
If NONE of the names work for me, I reserve the right to pick my OWN substitute name and put EVERY ENTRANTS name in the Yankee’s cap and let Sam pick one. You STILL get the book AND bragging rights as described in the list of prizes. In other words, you can PRETEND you picked the name. I will back you up, should anyone ever ask me.
Now, to help you find the right name. Evelyn Crabtree is 15, pregnant, dirt-poor, barefoot, foul-mouthed, and from a small town deep in the wilds of Georgia. The year is 1976. So she can’t be named anything sophisticated. Avoid names like…GWYNETH VIENNA CRABTREE.
*The reason I am giving this book away is that I SKANKED an ARC (advanced reader’s copy). See, I could not BEAR to wait for the book to be released to read it. And it’s a Warner book. So I got Emily (my editor’s assistant) to snag me one, and I stuffed it unapologetically in my purse and dragged it off to my lair to read. When REALLY I should have bought one. Supporting her career and all, since I like both her and her writing. So NOW I will go buy one and give it away and keep my cheesily-skanked free ARC for MYSELF.
**Later I WILL have blog-based contests for signed copies of gods in Alabama , but it isn’t out yet. The ARCs are not printed yet, either, so I can’t skank one of those for you. BUT I WILL! WHEN THEY ARE OUT! FEAR NOT!
Remember how I said in an earlier blog entry that I don’t like songs? Well this weekend, I went to a MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL with my friend Julie. It was a three hour drive to get there through a bunch of…you know. Mountains. And glorious sunsets and trees, blah blah. I tried to cover my absolute un-moved-ness by making appreciative hmm-hmm noises as she clapped her hands in an enraptured manner over what looked to me to be “some bushes.” But Julie was unfooled. She realized that it’s not just songs. I also do not like scenery AKA the majestic beauty of the earth.
It is now universally acknowledged in my circle that I am dead inside.
In my defense? I DO like ANIMALS. I get MISTY over LITTLE DEERS and whatnot. And if you want me to OOOH over some landscape, put a lot of squirrels in it. Squirrels are cheerful. Or a raccoon! PUT A RACCOON! I also VERY MUCH like to sniff the heads of delicious little babies and am charmed and touched when little old creaky couples toddle past holding hands. So. If there was a pee-test for "having a soul," I betcha I could make the little line turn faintly blue.
IN OTHER NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I JUST THIS SECOND FINISHED the HUGE FIRST EVISCERATING REVISION on my post-gods follow up novel. And HURRAY! HURRAY! I LIKE IT. Thank GOD. About 11 recurring images/things that REALLY had me PUZZLED as to WHAT THE HECK I THUGHT I WAS WRITING ABOUT suddenly GELLED and I realized they were ALL connected and VITALLY THEMATICALLY IMPORTANT and also NIFTY. And the heavens opened and the ANGELS SANG.
LA LA LA LA LA, trilled the angels. Too bad I don't like songs.
I have to go dance around my house and be UNENDURABLY pleased with myself for 15 minutes before beginning the next round of revisions, seeing all the crap that still needs to get done, and sinking into a self-loathing funk.
I may be dead inside, but at least it doesn’t render me incapable of being emotionally unbalanced! And MOODY!
I have to make a couple of disclaimers before I can even speak on the topic of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
DISCLAIMER 1: I readily acknowledge my complete and total failure as a housewife. I am untidy and dreadful and as long as the mold colonies that have established subdivisions and exclusive country clubs in my toilets aren't LOFTING SIGNS at each other that say "HELP! BUBONIC PLAGUE JUST MOVED IN AND THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD, DO NOT LET HIM USE THE TENNIS COURTS," then I think cleaning the bathroom can probably wait another day.
DISCLAIMER 2: I am married to a real man who eats quiche and does windows. He does at LEAST his share. And I whenever I can REMOTELY afford it, even if we have to EAT BEANS, I employ a maid service. SO what do I know about most cleaning products? NOT MUCH.
DISCLAIMER 3: I hate the animated character of Mr. Clean. The whole idea of him...the HATEFUL subtext...and especially The SONG. Oh, the song drives me up a tree. Let's sing it though. Let's sing it TOGETHER, since TALKING ABOUT IT has put it INEXORABLY in my head for the next NINE HUNDRED YEARS. But hey I KNOW! Let's rewrite the lyrics so it is honest.
Sing to the tune of the Mr. Clean song:
My husband is such a jerk
he will not help me with my housework
but my special cleaning product
has a big, gay friend to help me!
Because a girl needs a clean floor or she will be UNFULFILLED AS A WOMAN. And STRAIGHT men, obviously, can not mop. It would wither their sperms. And if your cleaning product came with a straight man, your withery-spermed husband would be threatened. But HEY, the GAY guy doesn't have anything better to do. He might as well pop in a utilitarian housework earring and come by YOUR place so y'all can do the FLOORS. Because as a DUMB GIRL you are incapable of doing the floors without a BIG MANLY (but unthreateningly gay) MOP PUSHER, and as a dumb girl, if the floors aren't clean you might as well OFF YOURSELF NOW BEFORE YOU BREED MORE UNWOMANLY MUTANTS.
It's CONTRADICTORY. It's OFFENSIVE. And the jingly little tune drives me UP! A! TREE!
But, taking all the above as givens. I still have to say...
THE MR. CLEAN MAGIC ERASER IS THE VERY BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE WORLD OF CLEANING PRODUCTS AND IT WILL TAKE ENTIRE CRAYON MURALS RIGHT OFF THE WALL LIKE MAGIC, LIKE MAGIC I TELL YOU, GENTLY AND WITHOUT HARMING YOUR PAINT ERADICATING THE MASSIVE MULTI-COLORED VOMITORIOUS MESS OF WOBBLY SCRIBBLE SCRABBLE THAT THE BABY SWEARS IS A DOG. *pant pant*
Come home, Mr. Clean. All is forgiven.
Remember this house that I love? Remember the state of Georgia? That I love? Remember my family and Scott’s family that we love all clotting up the South right near us? And Sam’s good school full of good teachers that we love? Remember my church I love and all my friends I love and THIS HOUSE WE JUST BOUGHT THAT I LOVE? Remember all that? Well. We do too.
We have talked about it and talked about it and talked. And we don’t want to move.
AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO.
Thanks, nice severance package.
Thanks, Warner Books.
We will be RIGHT STINKING HERE if you need us.
Tonight as we look at our finances and run numbers and realize that we don’t have to move, and that Scott has plenty of time – the kind of time that means he doesn’t have to FIND A JOB, but rather the kind of time that means he can be relaxed and particular and FIND A GOOD CAREER MOVE - I am thinking about my agent. Because we’re in this position BECAUSE of the nice severance…and my agent.
It’s a good time to blog him. I sent him to look at the website yesterday, so I feel today it is probably the safest moment to spill the beans on him. *grin* My reasoning: He just visited the site, and he triple-books his life, so he won’t be back for weeks, at which point this entry will have faded into gentle obscurity.
Here’s the thing: I know people always make jokes about their agents, and say they are sharks and blah blah, and it’s true that it takes a certain amount of ….what? Bravado? Aggression? Sheer Animal Will? SOMETHING to be an agent. But I LOVE mine.
1) He’s OLD SCHOOL, handshake, man-of-his-word ethical. We have no contract. We never have. He TOLD me up front what he would do, how he would do it, what his cut was, and how he would work it all out. Then he went and did it. The end.
2) He’s the reason I wrote gods in Alabama. See, before gods, I wrote (excuse me) a DAMN GOOD BOOK called 40 Dead Horses. And YES, okay, YES, looking at it now? I can see three HUGE problems with it. One, I have the end dead wrong. BLINDINGLY hideously wrong. And two, I keep you VERY distant from the main character during two PIVOTAL sections, and if you do not EXPLICITLY understand WHY she is making these two bad choices, you are going to hate her. And three, I have about 10K worth of self-indulgent, prancing words in there that do not serve the whole, they just entertain ME. So. I see why it didn’t sell. But at the time, I REALLY thought it would.
Then it didn’t sell, and I quit writing and sank into a funk and cut every writer (‘cept Lily) I knew out of my life and vowed terrible vows about never putting myself out there to be killed again and wept and railed against fate. And I sat in a pit POUTING like a BIG WANKER and REFUSING to talk to anyone in the industry until my agent, out of the blue, sent me this letter that said, in essence, the following:
Dear Spoiled Brat,
When I am going to see your next novel?
Love, Your agent who picked you out of the slush pile and still likes you and your work even though you are having a MONUMENTAL and RATHER BORING SULK that has gone on MUCH LONGER than anyone who didn’t ADORE YOUR SORRY SELF would put up with.
Okay that was subtext. But still. That was the GIST. And I RALLIED and wrote him back and told him when he could see my entirely non-existing fictional “next novel” and then I put my butt in the chair and WROTE it.
3) And 3 was IN 2, if you were paying attention. He pulled me out of the slush pile. I am one of the few who actually DID find an agent cold querying. Lily and I hit him with a query for a children’s book we wrote together (subtext: drunk.) And he liked us and picked us up and stuck around for four or five years and several failed projects and said things to me like “You really are one of my favorite writers” and NEVER BILLED ME FOR COPYING FEES even though I made him exactly zero dollars for YEARS.
The only thing I do NOT love about him is that he is a good thirty years older than me, and, unless I win 30 mil in The Big Game, he’s going to stinking retire before I do. Although watching him MARCH UNSTOPPABLY across the entirety of Manhattan with me panting and gasping in his wake, you would suspect I might retire first. But probably he will. AND THAT’S JUST WRONG. Because I don;t WANT any agent but him. Ever. See? From April of this year on, any agent who wants to rep me will be looking at my sales record and factoring that into his/her decision. Jacques took me based on my writing. Period. Jacques believed in my work, more than I did at times. And how can I not freaking love the man for that?
So on Sunday I went to lunch with my friend Alice and an interpreter I just met named Bethany. I originally met Alice doing research for a book I am writing right now called The Refrigerator Border Wars. Alice is a 50-something year old woman with type one Ushers syndrome. One of the characters in my book is a 60-something year old woman with type one Ushers Syndrome. Which is a medically accurate way of saying both Alice and my character were born Deaf and went completely blind by the age of 45.
Stop for a second. Think about that. I mean. Crap.
ANYWAY. Because of some thematic things having to do with the family’s shared traits, I needed my Deaf-blind character to be independent and self-sufficient and I didn’t know if you can be these things AND Deaf-blind. Until I met Alice. And um. Yes. Yes, you can. Or ALICE can anyway. She baby sits her grandkids every day while their parents are at work and she does all the regular gramma missions like bakes them brownies and keeps fish and etc.
I don’t get to hang with Alice as much as I would like because my sign is PATHETIC – I can grind out finger spelling and know maybe 30 signs. So we talk on the phone and we go out to lunch whenever I can get an interpreter to come with us. This time the interpreter was Bethany, this certified-to-be-adorable young woman with a yard of glossy brown hair who was SO sweet and funny and charming you could DIE from it. Just the most relaxed, easy going human ON THE PLANET. ANYWAY, Bethany meets me at Alice’s so Alice can show me her TTY system (a Braille teletyper that Alice uses to talk to me on the phone via the Georgia Relay Service). Then we decide to go eat, and Alice wants to go to Cracker Barrel.
I don’t know where it is.
Bethany doesn’t know where it is.
OH NO PROBLEM. Says Alice. I KNOW WHERE IT IS.
Stop for a second. Think about that. I mean. Crap.
Her husband is watching the game so it’s just the three of us and the ONLY ONE who knows where the place is can’t see. Or hear. But okay. Off we go.
And Alice gives us directions. I don’t mean she does it from memory. She doesn’t say “go two blocks to Jerry street and take a left” I mean she sits there quietly in the car and signs, OKAY GO LEFT NOW when she FEELS we are at the turn. And this Cracker Barrel is a good twenty minutes away and we have to do a stretch down highway 75 and she knows WHEN WE ARE COMING TO THE EXIT. I mean. CRAP. I can SEE and HEAR and I get lost trying to find the BATHROOM IN MY OWN HOUSE.
SO there’s a wait and we shop and we all buy a bunch of dorky-cute Halloween stuff because it’s on sale. It’s a good day. But after lunch? I can’t even GET OUT OF THE PARKING LOT THE CORRECT WAY. Seriously. We IMMEDIATELY turned the wrong way. OUT OF THE PARKING LOT. Alice had to patiently fix us and get us back to her house.
I have so much I COULD blog about. What with my continuing spiral into flaxseed meal based madness and all. I can now make salmon croquettes and meatballs and red velvet cake that is crammed FULL of the stuff---I am doing everything but hiding it in my kids’ toothpaste.
Or I could blog about the letter I got from a member of the literati who is tight with my agent. He read the galleys of gods in Alabama and REALLY LIKED IT. In fact he says I am not the illegitimate love child of Joyce Carol Oates and a hen as previously suspected. Says I am CLEARLY the illegitimate love child of Sappho and Ellen Gilchrist. Which, OKAY! SUITS ME! HI MOMS! But then he bemoans my heinous number of typos and crimes against grammar. Best sentence in his letter:
“At one point I was prompted to wonder how a mind so brilliant could be so consistently baffled by something as simple as the possessive plural.”
HA! And I’ll be creeping under the bed to DIE now because HE IS RIGHT. In WARNER’s defense, certainly not my own, let me add that my agent inflicted upon him a copy that had neither been line edited nor copy edited. The raw stuff. AND OH! You should have SEEN the copy editor’s notes. She was working in purple pencil and most of the pages looked like they been attacked by a manic version of Harold, hopped up on a big bowl of crack-loops cereal and out for blood. Humiliating.
But instead I am going to get deadly, deadly earnest and tell you I got a call from the owner of The Alabama Booksmith (a RIGHTEOUS indie bookstore in Birmingham….they have signed first editions of SO MANY Alabama/Southern authors and people like Pat Conroy and Cassandra King are always just, you know, DROPPING BY. It’s a FAB store. If you live anywhere around there, GO GO GO, and also get on their mailing list because they will tell you who is going to be there signing and chatting and hanging. And they do online sales just like Amazon except they have all probably read the book you are ordering... *cough*support-your-local-indie*cough*) Anyway the owner called because he had read the galleys too (Please GOD the copy-edited version…) and he REALLY LIKED IT (and here I pause to say HUZZAH!) but then he asked a question.
He asked which character I most strongly identify with, in my heart. The book is not at all autobiographical, but I wrote it, so I have to be hidden in there somewhere. And I answered without thinking about it, and the answer that popped out was, “I’m Florence.” Florence, you must know, is a 50-something, bitter, pedantic, dried stick of a woman, a virulent racist, tough, bloody-minded, a steel magnolia with ZERO magnolia. More like a steel lump of steel. She’s made entirely out of corners and brickle-burrs and bile.
And right after I said it I thought WHAT DID I JUST SAY??? HELL NO, I AM NOT FLORENCE. But when he asked me, that’s what popped out of my subconscious. So I had to examine it. And you know what? I am. I am, dernit. I am Florence. I’m younger, I’m not a racist, I’m not terminally bitter. But Florence is in me. She is the me I am most afraid of becoming.
See, Florence, long before the book began, lost her son, and that’s why she's Florence. Like her, I am held hostage to the world in the form of my children. Sam and Maisy are the sum total of my heart. And sum total of my heart is even now, EVEN AS WE SPEAK, out in the world wandering around, probably in traffic. It’s unendurable. It’s unendurable. How do we go through every day with them OUT THERE on their bikes, among snakes and lightening and predators and mean kids and rabid squirrels and Hanta virus and all manner of destructive chaos? IT IS NOT TO BE ENDURED.
I remember when I was pregnant with Maisy – I almost never wanted it to end. Even though I HATE pregnancy and would never, never do it if I didn’t get a BABY at the end. Even if I got, say, my own TROPICAL ISLAND at the end, I wouldn’t do it. Nothing but a baby would make me sit through that. Anyway.
With her, I almost never wanted the constant misery to end. Because Sam was already five and bounding around like a goat up mountains and running like a lemming into the sea…and I knew, I knew, even as she kicked viciously at my bladder, that this was the last time I would ever feel I could adequately protect her. It was the only time in her life, when, at every moment, something would literally have to get THROUGH ME to harm her. I didn’t understand that when I was pregnant with Sam. I didn’t understand how he would be so immediately separate from me, so immediately and perfectly himself, and so immediately vulnerable.
But now I can see that that Florence was conceived in me on the morning I first felt Sam quicken inside me, felt that almost imperceptible flutter, the suggestion of a shadow of movement, touching me inside where nothing had ever touched me before. And there is no way to birth her. She is in me. Long after my babies left my body and became these independent and busy creatures who think they are immortal, Florence stayed. And she’ll be with me as long as I am living.
Holy screaming CRAP but I AM ON AMAZON!
Somehow being on a VIRTUAL bookstore is making the book seem REAL. How weird is that? I am TOTALLY having a bunch of delicious kittens. I am practically shooting delicious kittens ACROSS THE ROOM I am SO pleased.
This will change soon, one assumes, but RIGHT NOW it says the book is scheduled to be released on December 31st, 1969. WOW, apparently I wrote the book as a FETUS! MAN but I am good! 1969 release! How many writers do you know who have written a book WHILE BEING A FETUS???!? Just the logistics of getting a computer up into the WOMB are TOO HORRIFYING TO CONSIDER. And yet! I managed! YAY ME! And um --- YAY my MOM, that's COMMITMENT to your child's success, lemme tell ya!
Also, my first Amazon review has already been written by my brother who HAS NOT EVEN READ THE BOOK YET. Since he will not be posting it on actual Amazon, I shall post it here for your enjoyment:
Big G, little g, what begins with g?
Startling and intimately evocative, bound with pathos, yet exotic and
labyrinthine, "gods in Alabama" sets a new high watermark for American
fiction. Freshman author Joshilyn Jackson has instantly revealed herself to be the America's Favorite of tomorrow. This reviewer read the book twice in a single sitting. I keep it handy for reference, or a simple caress, at all times and, such an impression has been made on my psyche, that I cannot bear the idea of being physically parted from my copy. My typing finger is paralyzed by impotence as I seek in vain for the hyperestimatous adjectives fit to praise the merits of this work. I know that James Joyce gnashes his teeth in hell at the literary shadow cast by the appearance of this marvelous book. 5 Stars plus 2.
Can you tell I used to work in PR?
I give him 50 points for the use of hyperestimatous and a farther 300 points for being so. darn. cool.
My friend D-Jay Linketty-Link has been trolling the web again, this time to prove that there IS such a thing as a pointy headed nose viper. THANKS, JAY! YOU’RE COOL, JAY ! I WILL NEVER ASLEEP AGAIN! JAY!
I feel like I could have gone my WHOLE LIFE without seeing that and been PERFECTLY FINE. So of course I had to share it with you. If only to ask…what is THAT GUY’S mental illness number, huh? I don’t think I can COUNT that high. Guys like him do make me feel pretty good about ME, even as I am giving the entire neighborhood colon-blasting cookies and having a sudden and uncontrollable urge to LEARN MACRAME so I can inflict HANGING PLANT BASKETS or every hapless relative I possess. Compared to NOSE VIPER GUY, I’m like the poster child for brain-wellness.
OKAY, now the crapulence. It is squatting on my house like Joyce Carol Oates if she was NOT a well-respected and famously prolific author. More like if she was a crop-blight. More like if Joyce Carol Oates could split herself into seven hundred THOUSAND tiny pieces and each one was a starving locust. (DIGRESSION: I kind of suspect that Joyce Carol Oates CAN split herself into seven hundred thousand pieces, but if I am correct, if she can? In her defense, let me say that none of the pieces have scissoring, cruel mandibles that they use to ravage the crops of peaceful villagers. JCO’s pieces are ALL much too busy WRITING NOVELS. Seriously. That woman can turn out a novel – and usually a darn GOOD novel – in less time than your speediest Granny can knit an afgan. Even if the granny was hopped up on crank, just ONE tiny slice of JCO could KICK HER BUTT.)
OH! Another digression --- This is BAD SCIENCE (sorry, Kim) but oh well. I have here used SQUATTING and JOYCE CAROL OATES in this entry without any of the other trouble words. I am going to watch this entry to see what manner of foul spam it attracts! Which will prove…NOTHING. Because I have no control post with JUST squatting and another with just JCO, but it WILL entertain me and MAYBE even keep me out of bars.
Okay the bad crapulence is this: Remember the whole thing about we JUST MOVED and I am in my DREAM HOUSE and I am happy as whole crowds of clams? Yeah. Well. Three weeks later, the company decides to shut down its Atlanta office. Heh.
If Scott wants to stay in his industry, we have to do A BAD THING that starts with M and rhymes with Prove and I am SO VIOLENTLY AGAINST IT I won’t even say it out loud. But we would have to go to one of four places:
1) Earthquake Central.
Pros: My good friend Jill lives there! HI JILL.
Cons: SO far from my family, HUGE cost of living increase, FILLED with grain-and-nutburgers who will encourage my inner food lunatic until I am living on macrobiotic tofutti-creamcicles.
2) Murder Capitol USA
Pros: Close to Family. Still the South. Julietta is there if she can stop macking on her new hot architect for fifteen minutes and remember she's my friend.
Cons: HELLO? MURDER CAPITOL OF THE USA???
Pros: Near Disneyworld, a chance to FINALLY really become bi-lingual or at least raise kids who are (it’s shameful NOT to speak at least two languages) and also, Christian Troy MIGHT REALLY EXIST!!!!
Cons: Far from family, Roaches as big as your head, and Christian Troy
MIGHT REALLY EXIST!!!!
4) THE CESS PIT.
Pros: The only Pros in the CESS PIT are the hookers. I am not going. I HATE it there. I would sooner pick the rinds of bologna from the TRASH of my NEIGHBORS than go live in this hateful hateful crapulent place.
Cons: Who cares, I am not stinking moving there the end.
So. I have NO IDEA what will happen next. And I hate that because I DO SO enjoy the illusion of control. But oh well. Tra La La!
Look!!! This appears to be me, rolling with it.
I have been silent because we have here in my house been sharing around a fast but furious stomach flu. Yick.
Yes, we are going to talk about the big crapulence. BUT NOT TODAY. I am still peeking at it sideways, trying to decide how I feel about it. The GOOD part is I am not panicking or distraught or even much worried. I discovered I have all this weird strong FAITH in God and my husband, probably even in that order. Who knew?
And now I am going to tell you two things you did NOT know. If you knew BOTH of these things? Without me telling you? I will send you a prize!!!
I BET YOU DID NOT KNOW…
Joyce Carol Oates is not ONLY the name of a well-respected and famously prolific writer. The very name is ALSO a drug-addled, snot-filled, priapic, poker-playing sex-toy magnet. Ask me how I know. Go on. Ask.
OKAY. THIS IS HOW. I have MT Blacklist, and it KILLS. SPAM. DEAD. I spam-hunt most every day, and I rarely have huge drifts of spam blanketing my comments anymore….except in this one entry. EVERY MORNING I will have at least one but as many as SIX new spam comments in this entry about Joyce Carol Oates.
Texas Hold-Em sites, nakey-booby sites, ads for prescription drugs that can do everything from clearing your nasal passages to keeping your wife happy, and GRAPHIC ads for bedroom hardware so DOUBLE-PLUS YICKY that the state of Georgia says it is ILLEGAL to possess them. Or even LOOK AT them, actually. These are bizarro thingies so OBSCURE and CREEPY that it’s probably illegal to KNOW THEY EXIST. I know I wish *I* did not know they exist. These are the sorts of things that promote trips to the emergency room, cruelty to animals, and less than kind jokes about Richard Gere.
I have READ and RE-READ the Joyce Carol Oates entry and I cannot for the life of me see why the spambots track it like Papparazzi after Paris Hilton. If you have ANY THOUGHTS on the matter, shoot me an e-mail or hit the comments section. Is there, for example, some word I do not know is dirty in there that is acting as spam spider bait? Is there some turn of phrase that indicates I (or Ms. Oates) have allergies or trouble maintaining an erection? PLEASE. LET ME KNOW. IT IS DRIVING ME UP TREES AND OFF CLIFFS.
I BET YOU DID NOT KNOW…
Saturday, October ninth is YELLOW FEVER DAY! That’s right! IT IS! Here in Georgia we will be celebrating this perky and fascinating disease. I like to think of Yellow Fever (or Y.F. as we in the inner circle call it) as “the little epidemic that could!” If you are in or near Georgia, and you want to watch a bunch of actors draw purple circles under their eyes and pretend to languish while other actors stick rubber leaches on them, feel free to join me at YELLOW FEVER FEST! Come on, you KNOW you want to. It’s the sort of thing you almost NEVER see unless you regularly gobble hallucinogens. If you can not make it, you at least have to look at the pictures of Yellow Fever Fests Past.
PS Don’t EVEN try to claim the prize for pre-knowing both these things. I will never believe you knew BOTH. Come on!
Sorry. But comfort yourself with this: It was a crappy prize anyway.
ADDENDUM!!!! I JUST went to upload this entry and saw ALL NEW SPAM on the Joyce Carol Oates entry. This time for Cheap Cigarettes. Sex drugs gambling and now smoking…IS THERE NO VICE LEFT ON EARTH THAT IS NOT ACTIVELY PURSUEING JOYCE CAROL OATES??
Thanks to the BIG CRAPULANCE that is squatting on my house, I am having conflicting desires.
1) I desire to eat BEAUTIFUL COMFORTING SUGAR. I would like to walk around lapping up great granulated mouthfuls of the stuff, straight. I could put it in a nosebag and attach it to my face.
2) I desire to drop 5 - 7 pounds over the next six weeks in preparation for the Holiday Food Orgy that is fast approaching.
There has to be a happy medium between EATING ALL THE COOKIES THAT CURRENTLY EXIST IN NORTH AMERICA and not having cookies at all. But if I MAKE or BUY cookies. I will eat them all. Immediately.
Solution? Make TERRIBLE cookies. Make AWFUL gritty disgusting cookies chock full of VIRTUE and NUTRITION. Then when desperate I can choke a couple down. SO! I had a mission!
I went to Publix and started looking for possible ingredients that
a) Sound/smell/look like nothing a human would want to ingest
b) Are so fibrous they say “ONE TABLESPOON KEEPS YOU REGULAR! FOREVER!” on the label
c) Can even so probably be made into cookies. Preferably somewhat edible cookies.
AND I WON! I found my key ingredient! I came home VERY pleased and prepped for an experimental Bake-A-Thon while my husband skeptically watched me unpack my wholesome groceries.
Me: Publix is carrying Flaxseed meal now!
Him: And Birkenstocks? One assumes?
Me: Shut up! I am going to INVENT HEALTHY COOKIES!
Him: And grow out your leg hair?
I hit the web and found a SHOCKING number of cookie recipes with flaxseed meal in them. And not just COOKIES! People are VOLUNTARILY putting this crap in EVERYTHING! I found recipes for TUNA NOODLE FLAXSEED CASSEROLE. Fancy!
After a few DREADFUL FAILED PROBLEMS, I came up with a combination of about three existing flaxseed meal cookie recipes and threw in a few ideas of my own to up the FIBER count further. And INVENTED WORKING COOKIES. I was going to name them "Virtue Cookies," or possibly "Certifiable Loon Cookies" but then I called my friend Lily to tell HER about them and together we came up with a MUCH better name for when we market our entire product line of WING-NUTTY FOODS (now with Horse Medicine!) and become Billionaires. So, I proudly present to you:
Mrs. Colon’s Butterscotch Scrubber-Dubbers
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 vegetarian free-range Omega-3 Boosted hen egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. flour
½ c. whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats (NOT quick cooking or instant, Use REAL oats!)
2/3 c. flaxseed meal
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ c. skim milk
1 c. Butterscotch Chips (optional, but you are on crack if you do not put these in. These are the GOOD part.)
Walnuts with or raisins instead of Butterscotch chips might not go amiss, if you like that sort of thing.
Preheat oven to 350
In bowl 1, Cream butter, refined sugar, and brown sugar. Beat the egg and vanilla into the mixture. In bowl 2, Mix flour, wheat flour, oats, flaxseed meal and baking soda together.
Combine contents of both bowls, add milk and stir 'till soft dough forms. Mix in Butterscotch chips and/or walnuts.
Drop by level tablespoons, 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen, unless you eat a bunch of dough and get salmonella from the raw egg.
Bake for 4 - 5 minutes on the top rack of the oven, then move the pan to the bottom rack and cook for 4 - 5 more minutes. IF YOU DO NOT DO IT THIS WAY THEY WILL BURN UP AND BE GROSSER THAN THEY ALREADY ARE FROM HAVING FLAXSEED MEAL IN THEM. Let them cool and then eat them. No, really. Eat them. Do not be afraid! They keep you regular! And they ALMOST TASTE GOOD!
No, no, they DO taste good. SCOTT ate them. Of course, he had to march around the house singing “She can bring home the Country Morning bacon-shaped soy strips, fry them up in a pan…” etc etc, while he did it. And he calls them “Digestive Biscuits.” BUT HE IS EATING MORE OF THEM EVEN AS I TYPE.
If you do not trust his jaded palate (and the man has after all been married to me for ten years and has therefore endured QUITE A FEW culinary shenanigans), consider THIS:
My KIDS ate them. AND the neighborhood kids ate them. ALL OF THEM asked for more and MANY of them recognized the objects they were hoovering up as cookies.
A big fat crapulance is squatting on my house. I am not ready to look at it. I will instead focus on some tiny little crapulances gamboling about at my feet. LA LA LA I DO NOT SEE YOU, LARGE BAD THING. Instead here is a brief tour of the tiniest of the tiny mayflies swimming in my cream of crap soup:
1) I can no longer call Beautiful Maisy Who Is Barely Two by her rightful moniker. She has TURNED the corner. She is now two and a half. Still heartrendingly lovely though, so THAT’S a plus. But oh oh oh how did my tiny squirrel-pop of a baby become two and a half!?!?
There are all manner of horrific consequences to this change from “Barely Two” to “Heading for Three with a Bullet.” Not least among them: The Death of Faggot.
That is correct. You heard me. Faggot is no more. I wave a sad handkerchief in farewell and usher in the age of “Sig Fig.” Somehow, he is not the same tiger…But at least he can go to Wal-Mart.
2) Sam’s team lost their fourth soccer game in a row today. But the good news is, they lost FOUR TO THREE!!!! Usually the gap between their score and the other team’s is so wide if it were a person it could legally drive. Or even drink. Or even collect social security. Sam, who is usually the world’s MOST competitive little booger ALIVE (wonder where he gets THAT??) seems oddly QUELLED at soccer games and hangs back politely. Turns out he was missing out on a KEY bit of information that could radically change his playstyle.
On the WAY to soccer I had a BIG TALK with Sam about not nominating himself for every possible star, and asked him to notice the other kids’ strengths and to nominate THEM for a bit of glory, too. I was pleased to note he did so. After the game, we went to Publix to get milk and whatnot, and Sam saw one of his teammates in frozen foods. He waved cheerfully at the kid, but as soon as they turned the aisle he was DYING to tattle.
Sam: I nominated him for best defense. But not best sport. He was a very bad sport today.
Me: Oh no. What happened?
Sam: He didn’t wait his turn. Other kids would be kicking at the ball, and he would get in there and fight with them for it and kick it while they were trying to kick it.
Me: Um…You mean he took the ball from kids on ya’ll’s same team?
Sam: Not JUST our team. He took the ball from kids on the other team too. And that was REALLY rude mom, because our coach said today that THEY were the VISITORS.
This seems like a job for a DAD to explain.
I have decided I am all about hiring cleaning service again if I can find the money....I had to fire my GOOD CHEAP ONE because they were making me CRAZY by showing up either 4 hours late or 4 hours early, WHATEVER IT TOOK to speed up or delay their arrival so they could arrive on the EXACT day at the EXACT hour I had arranged childcare so I could write.
This happened like, SIX TIMES IN A ROW. It got SILLY.
They would call and say HOW IS TUESDAY AT EIGHT AM FOR YOUR CLEANING.
I would say YES PLEASE my house is a STY please come but it HAS to be done before NOON because at noon the baby is going to my friend Julie’s and I have to work and you know I work from home.
They would say OKAY! SEE YOU AT EIGHT AM! Then they would take ginsu knives to their own tires or go all Munchausen’s and force their children to projectile vomit or get lost in a swamp or just sit outside in my bushes GIGGLING and waiting until they saw the baby leave. And THEN they would ring the doorbell.
Which might not have been that big a deal EXCEPT this was in the old house. My dining room with 2 HUGE OPEN DOORWAYS was my office. It was open to the entire downstairs. In they would come, rattling their cheerful buckets, ready to make my life better, prepared to be greeted with smiles and diet cokes and my usual SLAVERING gratitude that I feel is the RIGHTFUL DUE of any human being willing to take responsibility for scrubbing out my plague soaked evil toilets.
But instead of my usual Pavlovian delighted prancing, they would be met with a glare and a terse HI. YOU ARE FOUR HOURS LATE AGAIN AND I AM WORKING. I HAVE A DEADLINE. AND THIS IS THE FIRST 10 MINUTES OF THE ONLY TWO HOURS THIS WHOLE FREAKIN WEEK I DON’T HAVE THE BABY HERE. PS HI.
Then they'd say SORRY and troop in and they would tiptoe around PALPABLY being QUIET and pecking at the fixtures with soft and silent dustrags and HUNCHING UP their backs to CREEP past each doorway and asking PERMISSION for each part of the cleaning process... "Is it okay to vacuum while you work? Is it okay to run the water? Is the squeak of the mop TROUBLING YOU?" and so on and suchforth until I KILLED THEM AND STUFFED THEIR BODIES IN THE PANTRY where they are to this day, one assumes, smelling up the new owner's soup can labels.
But now that we are moved I have AN ACTUAL OFFICE with doors THAT SHUT. So even if they came RIGHT during my working hours, I could shut the doors and then not have to commit mayhem and bodily harm on women that I always used to greet with palm fronds and parades through the kitchen on the back of donkeys because HEY WHY NOT, the floor was just about to meet it’s long-lost friend, the mop, anyway.
I love this house.