I regret to inform you that Thanksgiving will not be held next year. Because I ate it.
That’s right, I ate the ENTIRE holiday. There wasn’t even enough Thanksgiving left to spread on some Wonderbread with some whole-berry cran sauce and make a decent sandwich. Sad, huh. *Burp*
TODAY I am suffering deep, deep feelings of repentful penitence and I did my usual 30 minutes of step in the morning and then went jogging after lunch and then came home and did weights and BY THE WAY, when I say “lunch” I mean “some leaves, with a side of ice chips.” And this routine shall continue until I divest my buttocks of the snarfed up holiday.
But…IT WAS SO SO SO WORTH IT. My sister-in-law made these Brussels sprouts in butter with leeks and Prosciutto that could SERIOUSLY make the most hard-hearted of atheists fall weeping to their knees to admit there is a God.
I KNOW! You are thinking “Ugh. No but…you had Fat Potato FatFat and Meatful Turkey and giblet gravy and Sister Schubert’s yeast rolls AND YOUR GREAT AUNT GLADYS’ HOMEMADE PECAN PIE with BLUEBELL ICE CREAM and you are nattering on about the…Brussels sprouts.” And to this I say. Yes. Trust me. They were the best part of the meal, and there were NO slouchers at this table. It is ALL in the butter. As long as the recipe calls for more BUTTER than actual vegetable, and as long as you follow the recipe and don’t try to muck around with MARGERINE, it’s all good, baby. Add the salted bacony goodness of the prosciutto and the mild bite of the leeks...perfection.
Appropos of nothing: Spell check CLEARLY has no taste buds and thinks that when I say Prosciutto I mean Prostitute.
Also not necessarily Apropos, but certainly worth SEVERAL thousand words, I have to show you THE CREATURE that will be returned to me should someone steal my eldest child. An AMBER ALERT will be released, and THIS PICTURE will be broadcast all over the airways. The Police will take a quick run down to South America and grab whatever monkey ate THE VERY MOST COCAINE and return it to me in lieu of my son. Who by the way? Will henceforth be known as “Calvin.”
That is all.
BUT! Scott showed me how to access my movable type thing from here. I can't access my e-mail though.
David was talking in comments about the new title. YEAH, I KNOW, I liked the old one too -- the working title of the new book was THE REFRIGERATOR BORDER WARS, which is an attention grabber, but it stopped making sense. See, it was called that because the titular border war originally began when Minor Character #7 got trapped in an old fridge in a spooky junk yard and smothered.
She was in there hiding from the sort of dog that tries to eat MILLA in RESIDENT EVIL -- well kinda. They were like those dogs except they were made out of DOG instead of hell-spawned oozing pizza. Okay fine, mine were regular dobermans...(dobermen?) but we just watched Resident Evil last night and I had bad dreams starring oozing undead dogs all night. ugh. <---digression.
ANYWAY, The point is, I realized that
1) There was no rational way to get that particular character into the yard in the first place. I know this woman. She WOULD NOT GO. I mean, I COULD have gotten her in there. I am the WRITER, so I COULD have sent a big wind to pick her up and hurl her over the fence. I could have teleported her. I could have had her wake up there with mysterious track marks between her toes and no memory. Whatever. But I could not get her in there without MAJOR contrivance.
2) Even if I managed to get her naturally and seamlessly in there...smothering is kind of...dull. Mostly you sit in a fridge and wonder how much oxygen you have left. Ho hum.
So Instead of sending her into the parts yard I sent the dogs OUT to eat her up on the street. Much better. But then I had made my title obsolete. Troubling.
So I TRIED to work a DIFFERENT fridge into the book, believe me. I REALLY liked that title. Several scenes had COMPLETELY EXTRANEOUS refrigerators popping up and trying to LOOK MEANINGFUL... They all failed. It's not an easy thing to do.
PROOF:Think of a famous movie scene, and then stick a fridge in it.
Imagine a fridge looming up behind Obi Wan and Darth as they battle on the death star.
Imagine 12 angry men and one refrigerator.
Imagine the movie producer waking up in his bed, and he rolls over and he sees....a miniature fridge. With a horse head in it.
You can't have Humphrey Bogart change PLAY IT, SAM to GET ME A BEER, SAM.
More lines that won't work:
"Hey. Rain Man, do you know this stainless side-by-side?"
"If you put it in the fridge, they will come."
"I see dead major appliances."
IT DOES NOT WORK.
IT CANNOT BE DONE.
Although I could think of examples all day. It's kinda fun. TRY IT!
So I had to go through the book and de-fridgify it in one great scything revision. It was one of the last three whole-book read-through revisions I did before re-titling it and sending it to my agent. I think I cut out a good three thousand words in that pass-through, all of which were trying VERY hard to make refrigerators seem SCARY, or AWE-INSPIRING, or LOVABLE, or, in one particularly ill-conceived passage, like a MANIFESTATION OF HOPE. The fridge that sprang eternal.
The new title works for the book and I like it, but. Yeah. I do miss it. I will use that title later, betcha, just as soon a thematically vital refrigerator presents itself in a book that, um, has war in it, that um, takes place near a border...
Or not. *sigh*
I am about to leap in the car and gogogo—we are spending Thanksgiving with my folks. I am in charge of making salad (like anyone is going to EAT LETTUCES on Thursday) and a special casserole. I call it Fat Potato FatFat. And it is the MOST DELICIOUS THING ON THE PLANET. It features SO! MANY! KINDS! OF! CHEESE! Also butter. Also heavy cream. Also potatoes are in there somewhere. But mostly? Cheese. I plan to eat four bites at LEAST before my arteries all shut down and I die, grinning maniacally with my cheesy, greasy lips.
BUT FIRST – the GOOD news – I am SO scrutiating HAPPY because MY EDITOR FINISHED THE NEW MS and called me to say all manner of EXACTLY WHAT I HOPED SHE’D SAY. SO I can stop casting about in the murky depths of my shady-internet identity past and relax and do fun things like die of casserole and start writing this book I have had burbling on a back burner in my head. I’ll noodle with it until I get her editorial letter and can wade hip-deep into revising BETWEEN, GEORGIA. (That’s the name of the NEW BOOK! You remember my friend THE NEW BOOK, right? It's that one MY AGENT AND MY EDITOR BOTH LOVE! You know! THAT one! *pant pant dance scream faint*)
I’ve been so freaked out I haven’t been able to concentrate on work – NOT! LIKE! ME! I’m obsessive and I always have a project going. But not while I have waited to hear feedback on this book. You know, in a lot of ways, wanting to be a novelist is like wanting a WEDDING instead of a marriage. You don’t think about anything past the dress and the big day---that bell-filled glorious someday when your MS will find its one true editorial lovah who will gaze sincerely into its papery eyes and say "I DO! I WILL!" in a breathy and romantical voice. And okay, yeah – that’s a big one. That’s right up there on the scale of Life’s Sweetest Moments. BUT.
It doesn’t STOP there even though every NARRATIVE INSTINCT IN ME tells me it’s the PERFECT END! And I am a PLOT girl. I write character driven fiction, and, true, it leans toward the literary, but I LIKE A BIG HEAPING SCOOP OF PLOT. I like twists and entanglements, and I have a GOOD EYE for the right ending. And I have to tell you - that was IT!
You know the story, right? MS meets Editor, MS Loses Editor, MS gets in a terrible car accident and never shows up to meet editor on top of the Empire State Building, editor finds MS again, True Love Ensues. And trust me -- that’s the MOMENT! That’s the picture perfect shot, editor and MS engaging in black and white 1940’s kissing (with no tongue because, you know, yikes! Ever had paper cuts on the tongue? NOTHING worse.) and there Author stands weeping happily on the side like the mother of the bride, and the music swells and hearts burst and DAMMIT… NO ONE ROLLS THE CREDITS! And you actually have to get the elevator and march back down to your office and WORK. Wrong wrong wrong.
Whatever hurdle you jump – getting an agent, first sale, meeting a deadline -- there’s the NEXT one already LOOMING and you haven’t managed a breath yet. It’s crazy-making. And the ONLY thing that keeps you from pulling your eyes out and dandling from their stalks is that….well. Even in the bad parts? The years of rejection and woe and mental illness and blah blah misery-pain and whatnot and LEARNING TO TAKE CRITICISM and actually use it to make a better book instead of using it as a good reason to throw cutlery at people? EVEN THEN?
Writing, when you’re in the zone and discovering things and these pretend people you can’t stop playing with suddenly open up and you KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? It is the most fun you can have in the whole, whole, whole, whole wide world without ending up pregnant.
That kinda makes up for the no credits rolling thing.
PS Brooks, I will remember Gerrymanders when we return on SUNDAY. Oh! and I still have to tell you about THE MIGHTY PRONG. I will! I SWEAR very as soon as I get home. It will be dark here at Faster than Kudzu til then, unless I can SOMEHOW learn to update from my dad’s comp. Hmm---Magic 8 Ball says, OUTLOOK NOT GOOD.
So. Kimmi stories... (You remember my OLD internet alter-ego, Kimmi, right?) Kimmi found a BBS called DARKEST POETRY!
Oh! My! Goodness! Their web address was actually: www. Yes, we take ourselves waywayway too seriously around here. You may THINK you take yourself too seriously? But you are a RANK amateur. WE are going to the Olympics for it, k? .com
Basically, BBS surfers would come and post LONG poetry about how their busty deamon lovers would pull their broken hearts from their weep-wracked bodies and bite into the still beating organs as if they were delicious fruits EXCEPT that would have been a SIMILE, so, no, NOT like fruits, just, like hearts. Because there was NO FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE on dark-poetry. Just, you know, despair and hearts and brokenness and blood and dark deamon lovers and woe and angst. And torture. And outfits.
So, Kimmi wrote a poem and posted it. I still have a copy of this poem, and I am going to share the gift of her poetry with you here today. Brace yerself, Bridget.
I like Goats.
Goats are nice.
They eat Grass.
Sometimes, they eat tin cans.
It doesn’t upset their stomachs.
But if I ate a tin can,
It would upset my stomach!
Then I sat back and waited to be KILLED by the inevitable soulless howling fanged critics.
Here is the weird thing. IT DID NOT HAPPEN. All these terrible Terrible TERRIBLE poets turned out to be dear, sugar-hearted RABBITS with gentle paws. They must have gathered together and discussed how to handle Kimmi. Had they been capable of committing simile, they might have said, “Let’s pat her on the head as if she were Cindy Loo Who and we were a soul-sucking Undead Grinch-slash-incubus dressed in a really sexy black leather outfit. And a CAPE! With BLOOD ON IT! Oh wait, we are digressing, but, anyway, let’s get her a drink of perfectly innocuous unpoisoned lime Kool-Aid in a NICE PAPER CUP, no chalices or god-forbid human skulls, because she has wandered in here all INNOCENT and DUMB AS ROCKS and placed her poetry at our feet, and, like, it’s POETRY, man. It’s her inner core. So we have to be … KIND."
Do I need to tell you I felt about THREE INCHES TALL? When you go trolling for buttheads and come up with DUMPLINGS… oh MAN did I feel bad. I am sure all those dark poets will be one of the five people I meet in heaven etc etc, and indeed, I have taken some VERY valuable lessons from the incident that are MOSTLY STILL TRUE TODAY!
1) Sometimes there is nothing to be done but say gracious and sincere thank-yous for the mercy of strangers and less-than-sincere but KIND interest in your poetry, and creep away feeling ashamed of yourself as you gently close the door on the way out and never try to mess with that group again.
2) On the other hand? Guys who write poetry like that will almost ALWAYS be kind to a girl with a C-cup name.
3) THEREFORE! I needed a better venue and a less CUTE sounding alter-ego if I wanted to REALL Y troll up some buttheads.
Thus was born THE MIGHTY PRONG. Ill tell you about him next time…
By the way, I have been VERY GREAT this weekend. A nice, low mental illness number and relatively calm good cheer abounded. This is probably do to the healthy dose of living opium I had the good sense to marry. He HEADLOCKED ME on Friday and marched me to the phone and made me call my editor BEFORE she could have reasonably gotten the book placed in her hands.
Me: I JUST NEED TO KNOW SOMETHING. I JUST NEED TO KNOW.
Her: I am not reading the book this weekend, and if I do not have time to read it next week I will call you and assure you I am STILL not reading it.
Me: HOW DIDYOU KNOW THAT WAS THE SOMETHING?
Her: I did not become an editor yesterday.
Me: (Babbles incoherently and with almost no segue about racial profiling in the South. I have no clear memory of my exact speech but I MAY have used the word “Gerrymander.” Incorrectly.) *
Her: (backing slowly away from the phone) Okay! That’s, um fascinating! And apropos of, um, well… Nothing! Nice talking to you and all, but I need to go!
Me: YOU MEAN YOU NEED TO “GO, AND NOT READ THE BOOK.”
Her: That’s exactly what I mean. I need to go and NOT read it. Pinky swear.
Which strikes me as SUPREMELY ironic. I think of all the years I spent trying to get NYC editors to read my work, and yet NOW I am having a lovely weekend EXACTLY BECAUSE I know for a fact that one is NOT reading my work—it’s an anomaly. It’s crazy. And truthfully, yes, okay, I want her to read the book. I am excited to have her read the book. Just not right NOW…. I was SO enjoying the preening.
* This is a reminder to me to after Thanksgiving to tell you about GERRYMANDER the way we use it in this house, and also how we say COLANDER, and why I can’t stop saying “VERY GREAT.” This is all the same story. SERIOUSLY, remind me. I will forget as I sink into a food-coma over Thanksgiving.
Goats yesterday, Goats tomorrow, but alas! Alas! Never goats today…I cannot write about Kimmi Hearts Goats because I am SO busy preening. And I have to preen FAST --- I am on a tight preening schedule that will end tomorrow.
Remember I was on tenterhooks all week because my agent was reading my new MS….well, wait.
Between us monkeys? This book, the new one? I freaking love it.
But what does THAT mean? Not much. I mean, I wrote the dern thing. It is my especial pretty bunny I like to pet and pet and pet. Asking me is kinda like asking my MOM. Who, by the way, thinks it is a GREAT book. But … she would probably think it was great if it was 100K words of musings on love and the single hedgehog because SHE IS MY MOM! Her high opinion of her children’s art and four bucks will get you a small latte at Starbucks.
But my agent – he is NOT my mom. He has always played it straight with me and if he thinks things aren’t working he says so. He says it gently and with exquisite manners and with regret DRIPPING from his kindly voice. But he SAYS it. And then he makes me fix everything, and he won’t send the book out unless he LOVES it. Not just likes it, but ROMANTICALLY KISS-FACE loves it.
I respect the CRAP out of that man.
And? Let’s just say he is over-nighting it to my editor. We talked for quite some time, and words like ORIGINAL and ASTOUNDING and PROGRESSION AND GROWTH AS A NOVELIST were bandied about, and for the record, *I* was not the one saying them.
In my usual PRETENDING TO BE COOL manner I was saying “mmm-hmmm, that's an interesting take” and “Ah, I am so pleased you think so,” into the phone and then I hung up and screamed and went leaping from the sofa to the armchair and back again, hooting and whooping until I banged my head into the ceiling fan and had to sit down.
Beautiful Maisy Who Is Mostly Still Two watched me spasm all over the family room with mild interest. She said, “Mommy! Are you pee-tend to be a monkey?”
And I said, “No, baby, I am pretending to be Harper Lee. On cocaine.”
CLEARLY I am going to be UNENDURABLE for the duration.
I spose it is lucky for everyone that the duration will be about 20 hours.
Tomorrow, my editor gets it and I will be revisiting LUNATIC SPIRALING OF FRAUGHTNESS that will require all manner of mental shenaniganisms to keep myself distracted until she finds time to read it. In other words, the goat story WILL happen.
But today? Fugeddaboutit. It’s WOOTY time.
Ah! The fecund virtual world of the 1990’s! BBS-es were hothothot, chat rooms were proliferating like rabbitses, the phrase “A/S/L???” was being invented and NO ONE TOLD THE TRUTH when they answered it. A fascinating time, and one that I chose to spend
1) Reading (things like) Artuad’s The Theater and Its Double,
2) Taking Myself Way Too Seriously
On a good day I could manage all three simultaneously.
Long about 2 am, when options one and two had become burdensome, Kimmi would wend her way to a chatroom. Here is a (heavily edited down to three people for the sake of clarity) ACTUAL LOG of KIMMI INFESTED CHAT I that I have apparently SAVED TO MY HARDDRIVE and MOVED from computer to computer in a pile of other files. I have moved this file through FOUR COMPUTERS NOW.
Kimmi: Is this a room to talk about Cananda?
BigRocket90: Want to go to Private?
Kimmi: Oh yes! I do! Is Private in Cananda?
Kimmi: I am not from Cananda though but I want to go to Cananda very bad it is my dream to go to Cananda I am saving for it but it is very hard to save enough the ticket will be thousands of dollars because I am all the way in Illinois.
JoeBlow: You could just drive.
Kimmi: No because the ocean.
JoeBlow: Do you mean…the lake?
BigRocket90: Want to go to private chat?
Kimmi: Yes I do! Do they speak French in Private Chat? Because the Chat part is French for cat! And last time I was here chatting about Cananda a Canandian man said they speak French in Canandia but I thought they spoke English with a funny accent like Crocodile Dundee who was really cute I thought but no because this Canandian man last time said they speak French in some Cananda places but I don’t speak French except for cat I can say in French. It’s “chat.”
JoeBloe: Hey. Moron. It’s spelled “Canada.”
Kimmi: I want to go to Cananda and see the dingos.
And so on. Usually DD would be in the same chatroom with one of her characters. Whoever could get the ENTIRE ROOM to put their character on IGNORE first, won.
BY THE WAY, are you wondering why I am blathering on and on about INSIGNIFICANT VIRTUAL events that happened more than ten years ago? And am threatening to continue to do so ALL THIS WEEK? I cannot TELL you why. But I can tell why it is NOT:
It is NOT because my agent has my new MS. It is NOT because he is POSSIBLY READING IT RIGHT THIS SECOND! It is not because I am having multiple nervous breakdowns ever since the package containing my new book was accepted by my agent at exactly 5:46 PM on Monday which I DO NOT know because I CERTAINLY NEVER checked the UPS tracking system 500 times a day until it was placed in his hands.
Want a more recent conversation? I have had this one about 900 times since yesterday.
Me: What if he hates it?
Scott: He won’t hate it.
Me: Do you think he is reading it right now?
Me: So he finished already and he hates it and he is trying to think of a way to tell me gently that the first novel was a fluke and I should go get a different job.
Scott: He has had it less than 24 hours.
Me: I could become a pet embalmer.
Scott: No, you couldn’t.
Me: I bet it would be depressing. All those sad, dead cats! Lying so still! And glassy-eyed! Surrounded by weeping children! I would fall into black sorrow and get addicted to Atavan.
Scott: Then it is a good thing you don’t have to be a pet embalmer.
Me: I bet it would make my hair smell like formaldehyde ALL THE TIME, no matter how many times I washed it.
Scott: Would you like some Atavan right now?
Me: I bet he hates it. I bet he already read it and he hates it and that’s why he did not call. Who wouldn’t hate it?
Scott: ANYONE WHO HAS READ IT.
Me: That’s like a textbook answer. I mean, PERFECT. How come you just ACED that without BLINKING and yet you can’t EVER seem to win, “Do these pants make my butt look big?”
Scott: There is no way to win that one.
Hey! LOOK! OVER THERE! SOMETHING SHINY!
Tomorrow I will write about KIMMI HEARTS GOATS and then see if I can dry swallow the new SUPER-SIZED Tic-Tacs! IT SHOULD BE A REALLY FUN DAY. Especially if you are Scott!
Today we are getting in the way back machine with that DOG? Remember that cartoon dog with the glasses? If not? You are probably too young to read this entry. *grin*
A long, long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was very irresponsible and had a gross-average metal illness number of MUCH-HIGHER-THAN-NOW, some fool put a stamp on a piece of paper, thereby allocating for my use a giant pile of theoretical money and throwing wide the doors of academia.
I never SAW the vast bulk of this money, you understand, but mysteriously my tuition and housing was paid and the dining hall waved me past the register when I appeared with a tray full of Random Casserole. I did see some of it--- on the first of every month, exactly enough cash to keep up with my monthly tequila intake appeared in my checking account.
I had two close friends in grad school. A wilder-than-me friend and a designated driver friend. DIGRESSION: If any of the parents of the three of us are reading this? Assume YOUR kid was the designated driver. She probably was. Unless you are MY parents, in which case, ignore that funny MONTHLY TEQUILA NEEDS joke (Ha! Ha!) and assume *I* was the designated driver.
Late in the night, after the clubs closed (NOT THAT WE WENT TO CLUBS, OH THEORETICAL READING PARENTS, JUST AT AROUND THAT TIME,YOU UNDERSTAND), Designated Driver and I would crouch in front of her computer monitor surfing for these new fangled amazing things called CHAT ROOMS. We were like cavemen who had just discovered FIRE. Oooooh! Ahhhh! I’d be drinking Liquid Yorkies (I know it sounds like a Small Dog Frappe, but really it is Peppermint Schnapps in chocolate milk, and no, I am not kidding. Drank that. Called it that.)
Remember, this was WELL BEFORE the dawn of time, and as we discovered this new and untamed virtual world, we came to an inescapable conclusion: We were THE ONLY REAL GIRLS ON THE INTERNET.
90% of everyone else fell into one of two categories:
A) Guys trying to find REAL GIRLS who were willing to go into private chat rooms with them
B) OTHER guys pretending to be girls who were willing to go into private chat rooms with Type A guys.
That was it. Guys on the make. Guys pretending to be girls on the make. And us. Real, live, actual girls, 50% of whom were blasted out of their MINDS, and 100% of whom had ZERO interest in going into a private chat.
Since walking into a chat room with a name that even SUGGESTED female-ness meant being instantly swarmed by Guy Type A and snipped at and attacked by Guy Type B, and since I was generally WAY WAY less than sober, (HA! HA!) we started creating FAKE PEOPLE to go into internet chat rooms, and thus the games began. DD and I were unmarried and childless at that time, and therefore more nocturnal than your average Opossum. We’d be in chat rooms from 2 to 5, easily.
My favorite creation for a LONG time was probably KIMMI. I Loved being KIMMI. KIMMI’s modus operandi was to have an obviously female name ---and a C cup sounding name at that--- and to be WAY TOO STUPID to understand or respond coherently to even the MOST BLATANT INVITATION into a private chat.
Tune in tomorrow for the first installment of VICIOUS CRUELTY WEEK
aka Tales From the KIMMI Files.
Okay, my friend D-Jay Linkmeister Linky-Link (AKA Jay) sent me THIS NEWS-ISH STORY
Well, FIRST, the most obvious and important thing we can take away from this? WIENERS seem to give one a richer, glossier pelt! The perfect thing to combat dry winter hair! I wonder if wiener-shaped tofu sticks work? I am roaring full steam ahead on my latest health-nut-and-whole-grain train. If ONLY Tofu-dogs didn’t LOOK like plank-shaped cave-fish that have lived in darkness so long their eyes have not only grown over but been SUCKED BACK into their skulls and re-absorbed into the BRAIN.
Digression: OH! SPEAKING SIMULTANEOUSLY OF WIENERS AND CREEPY ANIMALS... I was talking with my friend Mir (subdigression: peep her cool site re-design) about this DOG named WEENIE on a kiddy show called OSWALD. GO LOOK AT HIM.
That dog gives me the screaming willies. Because, think about it. His FACE is on the hot dog part. You could LIFT THAT WHOLE SECTION OF DOG right of the bun and have a legless, pulsing, dogheaded meat-thing, all barking and pink and squirming. And then flopping around in a blind panic would be this pasty-white STEAMED AND LEGGED BUN. UGH! UGH!
Nightmares, that dog gives me. /digression.
Back on topic--- Jay feels VERY strongly that this means my next book should be titled:
Because It Was Hurt, and Because We Had Wieners
Which would be a fabulous title, assuming Imaginary Potential Reader had seen the Little Foxes news story and read either the Stephen Crane poem or Joyce Carol Oates’ book and ALSO come by this blog often enough to clock my endless and ongoing idolization of Joyce Carol Oates.
PS my friend ANNA has MET JCO and that completely FREAKS ME RIGHT ON OUT THE DOOR. Because JCO is the tiniest bit fictional to me in the same way that the Grand Canyon is fictional. I have seen pictures of the Grand Canyon, I have seen BOOKS by JCO, but these things are not ABSOLUTE PROOF of existence. If you follow me. See, it’s possible that the Grand Canyon is done entirely with CGI, and it’s ALSO possible that the novels of JCO appear whole and perfect at astonishly regular intervals on the desk of whatever editor has made a deal with the cosmos to be gifted in such manner.
By the way! This week here at Faster than Kudzu it is Vicious Cruelty Week. I shall tell all my KIMMI stories. Including but not limited to…Kimmi Meets Canada, Kimmi Hearts Goats, and In Which Kimmi is Vanquished by The Mighty Prong. SO there’s THAT to look forward to. Also I am working on a SEKRUT PROJECT and I am failing miserably! HUZZAH! If things do not turn around for me, next week I will probably ask for your help with THE SEKRUT PROJECT. It is SECRET so I will have to make a mailing list of somesuch, WHICH I NEED TO DO ANYWAY. I will see if I can’t come up with a cool prize or whatnot.
HEY! MAYBE THE ARCs WILL BE READY! (!!!!) If so you could win a signed ADVANCE READER’S COPY of my book!
Yesterday? I ate the whole world. There is now nothing but a single lonely sandwich, orbiting the spot where the sun used to be. Before I ate it.
YESTERDAY WAS A SOMEWHAT STRESSFUL DAY, up until I ate it. I ate the day just after an entire sack of Michael Season’s Smoky BBQ Soy Protein Chips and just before I ate FRANCE. France was good. I had it with a Béchamel sauce.
Today I am back on my regularly scheduled pre-emptive strike Holiday diet, and I am sticking to it and relaxed and joyous because, oh my friends and oh my foes, THE NOVEL IS DONE! THE! NOVEL! IS! DONE! I am ABOUT to trit-trot happily off and stick it in the mail.
I am so SMUG and PLEASED that I should probably be beaten like naughty eggs. BUT COME ON! I can have fifteen minutes of smug pleasedness, can’t I? Can’t I PLEASE?
Because really? I have never written a novel while trying to edit and promote the previous novel and with an ACTUAL CONTRACTUAL deadline standing behind me. An anthropomorphized, vicious deadline that loomed over my shoulder as I tried to work, extending its big round head on a long STRETCHABLE neck so it could come over my shoulder and turn around block my view of my monitor and stare me in the eyeballs and grin at me with great big gleaming teeth, you know the kind, LAWYERLY teeth, perfectly square and white, teeth that look like Chiclets, so you KNOW they have to be Porcelain veneers, and say, “I am a contractual deadline. I am zooming toward you in the form of a date. I wonder if you will make it. A REAL writer would make it, you know. JOYCE CAROL OATES? She would TOTALLY make it, and um, HER book would be GOOD.”
And today? This morning? I DID make it. SO THERE, DEADLINE. Stick that in your teeth like an unsightly chunk of spinach and then go grin at someone ELSE. And PS? I just finished reading the book, my last once-over before off it goes…and I LIKE it. In fact, excuse me, but I LOVE it. I do! I love it! Which is good, considering I’ve just spent the better part of fifteen months of my life on it. SO THERE, DEADLINE. And I hope that news is sweet enough to give you a cavity.
It certainly tastes that way to me.
I know I am SUCKING WIND, okay? You do not have to tell me. I am losing my regularly scheduled BLOGGING TIME this week because I am trying to get my MS in the mail by Friday. SO. I hope to suck less wind next week. I am CLOSE! I am to the PROOFREADING point.
By the way---- I hate proofreading. At this point it’s MOSTLY all about AVOIDING proofreading. DIGRESSION: I could proof from now until the fabled cows come home, marry, produce offspring, and die and I KNOW the MS is going to be a FESTIVAL of typos. You should have SEEN the copy-edited MS of gods in Alabama. The copy-editor used purple pencil and the MS looked like BARNEY had come by and personally EXPLODED into chunks and scriggly symbols and splashes and globules that stuck all over EVERY PAGE. So. KNOWING I’m going to DO A CRAPULENT JOB is probably a big part of my apathy.
I SHOULD be proofreading and printing out chapters or at LEAST blogging to keep the blood moving through the chunk of my brain that does the writing, but HERE is what I am doing instead:
2) Contemplating how I shall celebrate World Toilet Day! (November 19th! Do not let WORLD TOILET DAY! sneak up on you and pass you by! Mark your calendars and plan your celebration NOW!)
3) Making lists and searching baby sites for the name that I am going to give THE BABY we are going to adopt because I cannot ever be pregnant again and so am immediately having some sort of HORMONAL LUNACY episode that I fear will only be assuaged by something in a pink woolly blanket that has a sweet-smelling head and teeny, fat feet that look like pork chops. (Front running names: Magnolia, Prudence, Emmaline, Patience, Lisbet. Scott is pushing for Grendelina which shows he is NOT TAKING ME SERIOUSLY. He says MAGNOLIA proves that *I* am not taking me seriously either to which I reply, “If you think I wouldn’t slap Magnolia on a Birth Certificate faster than Miss Scarlett slapped Rhett, you are SERIOUSLY underestimating the strength of this little mental illness episode and you better get serious about combating it if you don’t want to GO TO CHINA.) Digression: In the first draft of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett was named PANSY. Can you imagine! Pansy O’Hara. PANSY just this SECOND entered my top 5, by the way. Too bad, Lisbet.)
4) Watching Season 2 of The Sopranos on DVD. HEY! BY THE WAY! Here is a CUTTING EDGE and EXCITING NEWSFLASH for those you who, like me, apparently entered a broom closet in 1998 in order to play Pictionary with granola-eating, HBO-less cultists while waiting for Hale-Bopp to SWING BACK AROUND:
The Sopranos is a REALLY good show!
5) Doubling up on my cardio and adding reps to my resistance so my abs can look JUST! LIKE! DREA! DE! MATTEO’s! (Actually, I would settle for abs that looked “just like Drea de Matteo’s if she had two C-sections and no personal trainer.” But even that doesn’t seem VERY LIKELY if I won’t stop sneaking into my son’s bedroom and pilfering whole crowds of mini Butterfingers from his pumpkin.)
Those are my excuses for sucking wind in the blogging department. But really they all boil down to this: I am not blogging much because I am very busy NOT proofreading.
Pathetic. Maybe I will go actually do some work.
You go play with Mr. Picassohead!
Okay – this won’t make a lot of sense if you do not know about the GREAT! BIG! LOVE! So click already. Go on. Take the link. Double Dog Dare Ya.
The Great Big Love faded over the summer. They just didn’t SEE each other. But then – fall came, and our family and the family of beautiful Caroline went to the movies. So we get there and it’s PACKED and there are few places with seats for all us and Sam keeps us milling out in the aisle and won’t let us sit. We try to go in the aisle and he blocks us and foams rabidly and rearranges us all in terrible, nonsensical, yet ultra-casual ways until we figured out what he WANTED. Which was to sit by beautiful Caroline. And so, once we were all arranged THUSLY, he subsided and allowed us to troop in.
And Caroline was a great sport about it, really. She’s eleven and blooming and interested in lipgloss and he is a scabby-kneed creature who spends half his time as a ninja, slaughtering imaginary bug-people. So, it’s not like I see a big immediate FUTURE here. But if the kid wants to sit by her in the movies and moon, and if it does not mortify beautiful Caroline, then fine! Whatever.
Now, Caroline has very long hair. It’s streaky and pale and falls a good five inches below her shoulder blades. After the movie, the bottom half of her long luxurious locks were … wet. More than wet. Her hair was SOAKING. So her mom asks her what happened to her hair and she doesn’t want to say, and she doesn’t want to say. Until finally she cracks and says.
ALL THROUGH THE FILM, Sam was STEALNG little pieces of her hair and stuffing them surreptitiously into his mouth. He spent the ENTIRE FILM sucking covertly on the ends of her HAIR. And she would notice and take the piece of hair BACK, and then, a few minutes later, when she was rendered helpless and inattentive by a good action sequence, his little grubby paw would creep over and get another strand and tuck it into his mouth.
And I was thinking, LORD! BUT! MEN! ARE! WEIRD! Even in tiny BABY form they are just….weird. But then I reconsidered and OKAY, yes, that is BIZARRE. But maybe it isn’t men.
See, I remembered TODD. This boy in my elementary school. Who was moonfaced and stocky and towheaded and whenever I glanced at him indirectly his fledgling male beauty blinded me and sent me plummeting, dizzy and helpless, off of playground equipment. I was maybe eight. Todd was nine, so he was about as interested in girls as he was in International Politics or discovering a really good recipe for coq au vin. In fact, he actively thought of me as one of a tribe of disgusting foreign objects, riddled with cooties.
But OH how I loved him in my Fresh! Pink! Heart!
I used to take my LITTLE DEBBI SWISS CAKE ROLLS into the restroom and FRENCH KISS THEM, and then I'd sneak back into the lunchroom and offer them to TODD in this ultra-casual, I’m-just-not-hungry way. I would creep to the side and clutch the wall to stay upright, swooning as I watched him eat my spittle.
So. Maybe it isn’t men. It’s something though. EITHER it is LOVE, and LOVE IS WEIRD and makes you do bizarre things involving saliva, OR…it’s me. And I have poisoned my darling son with bizarro spit-fetish genes.
Tick tock tick tock… I am thinking.
I blame Love.
I enjoy reading the stories in your magazine each month, but I never thought something like that could happen to me until a few nights ago, when...
This is how I have to begin.
I KNOW! Okay? I know. This opener will force-march me into an airplane lavatory where I will NO DOUBT have to make out with Joyce Carol Oates. (She's tall. I just decided. And so am I, and itâ€™s TINY in there, you know, so one of us has to stand on the toilet and OF COURSE Joyce Carol says, â€œHow many famously prolific geniuses are in this lavatory and do you think they want to be the one standing on the toilet??â€ playing that whole LITERARY ICON card, so I clamber obediently UP THERE and Iâ€™m such a KLUTZ that I probably slip off the lid and now I have one foot stuffed down the hole and it is turning inexorably and forever blue in that astringent cleaner. TEN BUCKS says I end up contracting hepatitis.)
But I canâ€™t LEAVE because MEANWHILE, squatting on the sink? Depending on me and Joyce Carol? Is a sleek, deep-chested, and beautiful man named Rocco (WOW! I just noticed! He looks SO MUCH like Michael Chabon!!!) and he has been UP UNTIL THIS MOMENT sadly impotent for his ENTIRE LIFE and he is snapping pictures like James Spader in Sex, Lies and Videotape, except heâ€™s EVEN CUTER, and heâ€™s suddenly just now for-the-very-first-time (sings Madonna, who is probably IN HERE WITH US) discovering his --- umâ€¦letâ€™s pause here.
I told you, that sentence? It is how I have to begin. So itâ€™s not like we can avoid the airplane lavatory and the hepatitis FOREVER. Iâ€™m just saying, letâ€™s take a break, maybe smoke a cigarette or some opium, and blame the entire writers-gone-wild orgy on a blog essay contest I decided to enter.
You have to start with one of three opening sentences. So the penthouse thing was not my ONLY option. I COULD have started by saying â€œJust when I thought my life couldn't get any crazier...? or I could have gone with, â€œBefore I had kids, I thought ...â€ BUT COME ON. You KNOW just about everyone is going to pick those, right? I mean, who is going to start a blog entry with the Penthouse Letter opener?
And a host of OTHER artsy-fartsy boogerheaded dorks who think we are MORALLY OBLIGATED to hit the road-less-traveled running to prove that we are just. that. cool.
When really? If were WERE that cool? We wouldnâ€™t try so hard to stinkin? PROVE it, now would we? Do you think for ONE second JOYCE CAROL OATES would feel obligated to use the Penthouse opener? NO. Sheâ€™d sit calmly in first class, laptop open on the fold out seat tray, and sheâ€™d order a GIMLET or some ABSINTHE from her delicious friend, Rocco-the-Chabonish-looking-steward. â€œJust when I thought my life couldnâ€™t get any crazier,â€ sheâ€™d type, and by the time the pilot turned on the fasten seat belt signs she would have, oh, I donâ€™t know, probably won Blogging for Books and PS finished up that pesky little novel she started last week.
Me? Iâ€™m still trying to ooze cool like James Dean as I make my fraught way through two paragraphs of quasi-porn just to prove I can START with the most limited of the opening lines and still get a decent essay out of it. Just to prove Iâ€™m special. Iâ€™m different. Iâ€™m amazing. Iâ€™m just like you.
Thatâ€™s it in a nutshell. Thatâ€™s the thing in me that drives me. And before I had kids? I thought it was part and parcel of the standard writerâ€™s mental illness packet. Nurture, you know. Something I grew myself along with my rabid fear of dentist chairs and my endless, unconsummated flirtation with eating disorders. But as it turns out, this is different. I did not grow this thing. This thing is in the genes. I know. Because I see it in my son. Seven years old and already he has this hungry thing in him. I've seen it in him since his birth. Look at me, it says, look at me. No, really.
When the Upwards Christian Soccer Awards were being given out, and the coach held up the white star, the award for being like Jesus, and asked the team, â€œWho do you guys think best exemplified Christ today?â€ It was this thing that sent my son roaring to his feet, raising both hands to the sky and shouting. â€œMe! That was me! I?m JUST like Christ!â€
And now that I have seen it in him so young? I can look back and find it in me through every step of my memory. My need from Pre-school on to be every teacherâ€™s pet. In high school, I had the lead in almost all the school plays. In college, before I went to my first sorority pledge party, I dyed my hair Morticia-Black. I slunk in and immediately found the one girl with bi-polar disorder and MULTIPLE tattoos. Soul sister. We spent the evening leaning together against the wall, relentlessly mocking the procedures and speaking in subtext.
Hi. Iâ€™m slumming. Because Iâ€™m different and special.
Yeah? Me too. Iâ€™m different and special, too!
Oh, you DONâ€™T say!
Same thing in graduate school. I picked for my friends the two best writers in the program, partially because they were good, and I respected their work. But. Also. They were the girls who came up with BIN RACING. Sitting in the mail bins and making the boys push us FAST FAST FAST through the hallowed halls of academia, shrieking as we exhorted and flogged our steeds. Before the FIRST MONTH of our tenure there, each of us had had a separate and unrelated spanking from the head of the department. Rebels with matching MAC lipsticks.
Do you see me now? Good.
And nothing has changed. I am THIRTY-FREAKING-SIX and I have spent the decade of my post-grad-school years of my life feeding this thing. Throwing myself at hundreds of agents, DO YOU SEE ME? Until I found the one who said yes. Then asking him to hurl me in front of the chariots of New York editors. SEE ME? DO YOU? SEE? SEE? And writing from the back alleys of my brain, from my liver and my spleen, spilling everything I have out of me and meeting all rejection with cries of â€œAH, YOU PHILISTINES!?â€ and redoubled determination, coming back even louder next time, to make you DAMN WELL LOOK AT ME. Because I am smart enough and good enough and pretty enough. Because Iâ€™m so damn special. Because Iâ€™m different, just like you.
And I wonder---whatâ€™s it going to take to feed this thing? Feed it full. To make it lie down. To make it be still and be quiet. To stop its ceaseless clamor, because I cannot, will not, wonâ€™t ever again, must not let what this hungry thing wants push me into words or actions that are in direct opposition to what *I* want.
And now I am going to tell you what I want. And I am going to try to tell you with no irony, and not hiding in my humor, but to tell you plainly my most beautiful, secret dream. I will pause here and make for you some great-big-dewy-sincere eyes and then I will say it, baldly, with no superlatives. No caps. I will say it with absolute integrity. Ready?
I want to be a good person. More than that. I want being a good person to be enough.
Because there is no end to feeding this thing.
Letâ€™s play pretend. Letâ€™s say, it all works out and EVERY dream of mine, no matter how far fetched, comes true. Let?s say Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a last ditch bid for Oscar, options gods in Alabama. He wants to play Burr. (Never mind that Burr is 28. And black. Arnold is the freakinâ€™ TERMINATOR. He can play Burr if he wants to.) And letâ€™s say Der Arnold wants me to write the script. And, um, play the lead opposite him. And letâ€™s say the book wins the Pulitzer AND the NBA and letâ€™s say I am the FIRST PERSON in history to get Oscars for Best Screenplay AND Best Actress in the same year and then I am declared PRINCESS OF GEORGIA and then they CHANGE THE NAME OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY to Joshilyn-Ville.
Do you think thatâ€™s going to do it? Do you think this thing in me will release a mighty burp and settle down to sleep forever so I can go HELP SOME FRICKINâ€™ ORPHANS? Letâ€™s say it already happened. And I am in first class, flying high over Joshilyn-Ville just after the Oscars, tiddly on champagne. And I open my laptop up and I see this essay contest. And thereâ€™s that one sentence that I KNOW most people are not going to choose. I mean, COME ON. But I have everything I ever wanted, so I have nothing to prove. Right? Right?
But before I can pick --- and I SWEAR this part is TOTALLY TRUE, OKAY? I look up, and sliding into the cushy chair beside me is Joyce Carol Oates, saying , â€œHello,â€ to me, all big eyed and breathy, and Rocco the Steward is offering us Key Lime Pie-Tinis and saying, â€œAre you ladies in the mile high club?â€
Just when I thought my life couldnâ€™t get any crazierâ€¦
Remember when I showed you my most beautifulest cover ? Here. Look at it again.
And remember I asked you to figure out what was reflected in the REARVIEW mirror?
See, I was thinking it was some sort of FLOWERED VINE or BUSH, but then in comments, David Gray made it seem very plausible that it was actually a chunk of the car.
But we were both wrong. My friend Jay BLEW THE IMAGE UP and then did that CSI-style computer wizardry thing and where they ZOOM IN on a teeny piece of an image and clarify and then ZOOM IN MORE, lather rinse repeat. After several hours in the lab, analyzing, he could make out what it was quite clearly.
What’s the subliminal message THERE, huh?
In other news, you can thank Shawn Box for THIS little treat. You know... people with a mental illness number THAT high always make me feel pretty dern good about treading water in the just-barely-over-my-head portion of the crazy pool.
Julie came over and we took all four of our ratticake sugarhounds Trickertreating last night. A man was sitting out on his porch with a special treat for the kiddies. We approached the porch and he made the offer. Very baldly. It went something like this:
Man: Hey. Kids. Want to touch my piglet?
His exact words. LUCKILY he was clutching an actual alive piglet. So. He was NICE but he needed to rephrase. Badly. At any rate, I took him up on his offer and can now give you a bonafide piglet touching report.
Piglets have very damp, cool noses. Felt like a dog nose, but PREHENSILE. Tiny bit of creep factor there, imagine a long flat damp dognose the squirmed around. On the PLUS side, piglets are bristly LOOKING but softish feeling. This Piglet made very endearing snorky-snorky noises and pushed his head up into my hand. Either he liked being petted or he was an ITCHY piglet.
The touch-my-piglet man made TWO unsubstantiated claims.
1) He said it was a pot-bellied piglet but…it looked like a big old regular meat pig piglet to me. It was as big as a pot belly already and pink and fat and baby-faced and clearly preparing to explode into 40 – 60 pounds of hammy goodness. I think he was SAYING it was a potbellied piglet because they are classified as PETS and our neighborhood is not zoned for livestock. He BETTER NOT raise that piglet in his backyard like a neighborhood dog and then EAT IT.
2) He claimed the piglet was litterbox trained. He IMPLIED IT, actually.
Me: Is the piglet house trained?
Man: He HAS a litterbox.
Me: HAS or USES?
Man: Hey kid, you there, behind. Want to touch my piglet?
Two more things. Absolutely unrelated to, well, anything.
1) Yesterday c asked in Comments if gods in Alabama would be released in the UK. YES! YES IT WILL! And in AUSTRALIA! The rights sold at the big bookfair in Frankfurt. WHEEEEE! I am such a geek that all I can think is OMG!!! WILL IT HAVE A DIFFERENT COVER?!?!?
2) I have this friend I used to play Ultima Online with – really cool guy. He was going to make a new character, and if any of you GAME then you KNOW what a PAIN training a new character is. So, anyway, he made this character and he named him LION CLAW and he spent months working on him and building him up until the character was KICK BUTT and could, like, whup up on dragons and do all manner of quests and such. And then one day he realized that LO, all these many moons ago, he had MADE A TYPO. And his character he had spent hour upon hour developing was NOT NAMED LION CLAW AT ALL.
He was actually named….Loinclaw.
Which does NOT bear thinking about.
So. Anyone want to touch my piglet?