Do you know about Myer-Briggs personality types? It's a series of four letters that indicate how you make decisions and function in the world--which is a fancy way of saying it is a personality test. I generally ENJOY personality tests because they permit---no, no they downright encourage--- a long, satisfying bout of selfindulgent navel gazing. But I do not take them seriously because, COME ON! Most of the tests are so obvious that the results can be SO easily manipulated. Especially the kind of quiz you find in Marie Claire and Cosmo (example: WHAT KIND OF INNER HOOKER ARE YOU HIDING?) because even a crack-addled orangutan could pick the "right" answers to get the test to confirm that they have the exact kind of inner hooker they ALWAYS secretly hoped they had.
But this Myers-Briggs thing is different. I think it's useful to know your type. For one thing, it has a practical application in that you can use the types in effective team building if you are some sort of corporate paper-jockey who understands buzzwords like "team building." Many corporations base hiring decisions on these types. I admit I fostered a certain skepticism until my husband took it as part fo the hiring process for a job, and it PEGGED HIM. Completely. And you know how I am always saying I married a tall version of my dad? I found out my father and my husband test as the exact same type. SO I think this test is useful...to a certain extent.
I say to a certain extent because the test has offended me. No matter how many times I take that stinking thing (and I first took it I would say 15 or 16 years ago---my dad was in human resources and he gave it to me), if I answer even REMOTELY honestly, it INSISTS I am a ENTJ. I think I am an ENFJ (aka a teacher) or maybe an ESFP (a performer) but no. The test insists I am an ENTJ. Also known as...THE FIELD MARSHALL.
Oh sure, they say THE FIELD MARSHALL has good points---we are energetic and charismatic and goal oriented and logical, but on the other hand, we are bossy and overbearing and it is unwise to stand between us and something we want. Because we will kill you. We will kill you and eat up your flocks and burn your lands and harry those of your line down to into hell, yea unto the seventh generation. FAMOUS ENTJ's through history include Lucy from peanuts, Margeret Thatcher, EVERY despot dictator jerkwad who historically tried for world domination via genocide and who, in their personal ads, claimed to be into long walks on the beach, disco, and oppressing the masses, Bill Gates, The harpies of Greek Mythology, Attila the Hun, Douglas MacArthur, Napolean Bonaparte, most people who work as executioners, many serial killers, and the DEVIL.
Okay, I made some of those up. But all the actual people I listed are ENTJs. Except Attila the Hun. No one knows what Attila the Hun's type was, because he had the guy who asked him to take the test cooked and then he ate him. So. But I suspect MOST of the Huns were ENTJs, and I DO NOT SEE MYSELF THIS WAY. Perhaps I am being hypersensitive and unrealistic about who I am, but I repeat...I do NOT see it. In fact I actively resent it! And speaking as a person who should OBVIOUSLY be crowned Rightful Empress of the Known Universe I HEREBY order it BANNED as inaccurate and cruel, and both Myers AND Briggs (and whoever that KIERSEY guy is) must be immediately be staked out alive in a patch of carnivorous turtles. So has it been written, so shall it be. Because I said.
But you can go take an online version of the Kiersey Temperment Sorter before my new law goes into effect.
My daughter has reached the age where she wants to tell jokes.
I remember when Sam reached the joke-telling watershed. To a three year old boy, NOTHING is funnier than a notoriously gaseous dog releasing a trumpet-like toot and then staring at his own bottom in surprise as if to say, What's going on back THERE? This dog, Lord love him, was SO stupid that his own gas surprised and amazed him EVERY TIME, and the humor of it never faded for Sam. They were a pair.
So many of the jokes Sam told at 3 and 4 had *cough* similar thematic elements.
3 Year Old Sam: What did the monkey say to another monkey?
Me: I don't know.
3 Year Old Sam: BUTT! *laughs until something ruptures*
Or he would tell jokes that made absolutely no sense to anyone but himself.
3 Year Old Sam: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Me: I don't know.
3 year Old Sam: GOBBLE! SNARK! HOOPENPOOP! *laughs until something ruptures*
Now Sam has reached the age where he checks 101 joke books out of the library, memorizes them all, and then tells them ceaselessly in a long string, over and over, every time we get in the car. It's like going to Kroger with Henny Youngman.
Sam: What did the duck eat with his soup?
Sam: *laughs hysterically* Yeah! Quackers! GET IT? Because a duck says QUACK, but you eat CRACKers. Get it? Get it?
Me: I get it.
Sam: What did the ghost have for breakfast?
Me: Booberry waffles. Sam you told these exact same jokes yesterday.
Sam: *laughs hysterically* Yeah, get it? Because ghosts say BOO! Get it?
Me: And the day before, And the day before.
Sam: What did the guitar say to the rock star?
Me: Please smash me into insensate chunks before he begins the elephant jokes.
Sam: No, he said, "quit picking on me." I don't get that one.
Me: Well, see, musicians use a---
Sam: What animal talks the most?
Me: The boy-child.
Sam: No, the YAK. GET IT? The YAK! *laughs hysterically* Like, YACK! Get it?
And so on. But now Maisy wants in on the action. She doesn't quite get the concept, but she gets the FORMAT.
Maisy: I have a riddle for you.
Me: Okay, Sam, hush a sec, let Maisy have a turn.
Sam: *grumble grumble*
Maisy: What does the donkey say?
Me: I don't know.
Maisy: HEE HAW! HEE HAW!
Sam: *outraged* Mom, that's not EVEN a riddle.
Maisy: I have another riddle for you.
Maisy: What does the donkey say?
Sam: That's not a riddle, Maisy.
Me: I don't know.
Maisy: HEE HAW! HEE HAW!
Sam: No, Maisy, a riddle goes like this. Why did the elephant cross the road?
Me: *Drives us off a cliff to avoid knowing even one more elephant joke.*
But last night, when Scott was putting Maisy to bed, she abandoned her Donkey riddle (which she has been telling ceaselessly for days and days now) and came up with a new one---she;s getting closer. It may not be technically FUNNY, and it may not technically MAKE SENSE, but at least this one has that kernel of truth that resides in the center of all good riddles:
Maisy: What is gooder than a pony?
Scott: I don't know.
Maisy: *leaning in and whispering in his ear* I am!
Yes, Okay, I DO Name All My Cars. STOP WITH THE MOCKING E-MAILS ALREADY. I get enough of that from SCOTT.
My family has ALWAYS named its cars. We had Guacamole Gus the Bus (bilious green VW van) and Didey (filthy white sedan) and Merry Miracle (the car that would not die). It was a big thing---the ritual naming of the new car, made even more special because it was a rare event. Jacksons are genetically programmed to drive cars until they start shedding huge chunks of themselves out of pure ancientness, and we don't admit we need a new one until we find ourselves trotting down the highway clutching a disembodied steering wheel with a scrap of sweaty vinyl seat back clinging to our thighs.
My very first car was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit -- a VW rabbit, natch. Because, see, you may not have known this, but WALT DISNEY before he came up with MICKEY MOUSE created a rabbit who looked really a lot like Mickey except with longer ears. I did not make this up. My Oswald was NOT lucky and in fact overheated violently if you stopped him while he was running. Even for a minute. Oswald could overheat at a long red light.
I didn't have a car in grad school, but when I married Scott I got a half interest in a sadly unnamed and unloved station wagon who kept running because it knew no one would care much if it died. Scott was fresh out of grad school and making an entry level salary, I was still IN grad school and making some money baby-sitting to buy little luxuries like toothpaste and Top Ramen (can't have one without the other, really) so we shared the car. We reached a financial nexus when Scott was promoted; suddenly we could afford to become a two car family. OH FRABJOUS DAY. I selected a new aquamarine Saturn (new to ME, anyway) and I spent DAYS ferreting out the perfect name for him, which, I think Scott had SUSPECTED he had married a complete whack job before, but it was smart to go ahead and confirm it for him before we had kids and he was truly stuck.
Finally, it came to me. He was FAUX FRAUNCH. See, because he was sexy enough to be French, but he was made in TENNESSEE, which made him FAUX French, pronounced as FRAUNCH by my friend Yvonne's Alabama aunt who told us, very earnestly, when Yvonne and I were 15, that if we ever 'went out with some rowdy-type boys, who were taking to drinking and what-all, and we didn't want to drink and all, being that we was the nice girls we was, we could simply order us a Perry-er water, because that was real sophisticated, and wouldn't nobody look down on us for not having beer if we was having Perry-er water.' Then she leaned in all confidential-like and said, "That Perry-er water is FRAUNCH, you know!"
I drove him until he fell into chunks, at which point my mom got a caddy (woo) and gifted me with her old car, which was only just beginning to molt. It was a huge Huge HUGE Buick that my mother had named Lovely Pearl or something else girly. My mother's cars always have romantical names. I gave the Buick a sex change (all my cars are boys) are renamed the new him "Boating for Beginners" after an early Jeanette Winterson novel. I called him Boating for short.
Our currant cars are a a Honda named Clovis Sangrail (Clovis is a recurring character in Saki's work, and the Honda is CLOVER green, so), and of course my Kia, Vincent Van-Go, he of the retractable ear. OH WAIT I forgot, Scott gave the Honda to my brother and dad gave Scott his SUV which is named, imaginatively, Suvie. My father DOES name his cars, but being my father (pragmatic to the point of mental illness) they have very FUNCTIONAL sorts of names. He now drives a HUGE Toyota truck, and it is named B-BOT---Bob's Big Ol' Truck. Scott's car shall remain Suvie because Scott says he LOVES "Suvie", which is Scott-code for "I don't want to spend three weeks discussing the cars imaginary personality in order to organically discover its inner name."
When the Kia dies I want an Orange Saturn Vue. By the time I drive the Kia into the ground, they will be making Vues in orange again. Betcha. HE WILL HAVE ONSTAR!!!!!!! I shall call him Pompeii and love him forever and ever, or until his engine melts into a single smoking lump and his doors fall off.
I've gotten a couple of e-mails asking about father's day RE: the father of my children, as opposed to my actual FATHER.
WELL. Allow me to shamelessly trumpet: I AM THE COOLEST WIFE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE.
First, I pretended to forget ALL ABOUT Father's Day. I am not sure he bought it, but I DID pretty much go for the Oscar with the self recriminations and breast beating!
"OH! OH! WOE! HOW COULD I FORGET! WAIL! TEETH GNASHING! NO CARD FOR YOU EVEN! NO TIE! NOT EVEN A WORLD'S GREATEST DAD KEY CHAIN! MY INADEQUACIES ARE TOO GREAT! I SORROW FOR YOU!"
Meanwhile, I had SECRETLY arranged for a sitter, and when she showed up, Scott said, "Oh Hi, Sitter, what are you doing here?"
And I said, "She is here because YOU are being taken out to see BATMAN BEGINS!"
And he got a hopeful gleam in his eye and said, "In the theatre? Like PEOPLE?"
And it was a VERY good movie. 2 thumbs WAY up.
I had also arranged for his good friend and his wife to meet us, and afterwards we went out for drinks and stuffed mushrooms and let the two men talk about issues of GREAT IMPORT, like had the movie caught the SPIRIT of the REAL BATMAN without being strictly canonical. AND How and in what degree had it deviated, and which artist drew what issues and blahblahblah until it sounded a little like adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons...wah wah waaah waaah wah.
When we got home, we sent the sitter off and stood together for a minute, and I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed him tight.
Me: *sweetly, staring up into his eyes* I love you, and I am very glad that you are the father of my children.
Him: Yeah. Me too...Cuz if I wasn't? I'd be mad.
That's my guy.
It's a GCC day!
Alison Kent sold her first book to Harlequin on national television. The sale was a featured segment on the “Isn’t It Romantic” episode of CBS 48 Hours. Since then, she has sold eighteen series romances, eight novellas, one non-fiction pop culture essay, and four single title trade releases to four different publishers. Alison is a 2005 Quill Award nominee for her February 2005 release, THE BEACH ALIBI.
Reviews of her SG-5 releases from Kensington Brava have compared the series to Mission: Impossible, James Bond, I Spy, Alias, and Die Hard, and the latest in the series, LARGER THAN LIFE, hit bookstores on June 5th.
Alison lives in Texas with her husband, four vagabond kids, and a dog named Smith. And she actually manages to write in the midst of all that madness. And she gives good interview!
JJ: Can you talk about selling your first novel on national
television? Were you surprised? How did they pick you? When did you find out this
would happen? Tell it like a story!
AK: I was such a pup when this happened! There had been a lot of buzz in
the romance community about authors being contacted by a producer at
CBS. No one knew exactly what it was for, and there was mucho fear that
they planned to do a tabloid style slam of the genre. I was seriously a
nobody, so imagine my surprise when I picked up my phone at work one
day, and it was this same producer. (Don Dahler, who can be seen now on
ABC.) He wanted to arrange to meet with me and film me as an aspiring
author working to sell to Harlequin. This, of course, resulted in a
panic attack and days spent cleaning baseboards and the inside of my
toaster. The crew came down for the requisite forty-eight hours and
followed me around. They arrived at my home before I drove to work and
wired me for sound. At this time, I was doing a lot of my writing by
dictating in the car. (Yes, it was quite the site, driving down the
tollway with an open van beside me, camera crew hanging out the door.)
We did an offical interview during my lunch hour, and then they came
that first night to my critique group. The second day, they met me
after work and followed me home, set up their cameras in the house to
talk about my process, etc. The interviewer was Susan Spencer, who
still works for CBS. Halfway into that interview my phone rang. I
picked it up, and it was the senior editor for the Harlequin Temptation
line offering to by my book, CALL ME. (Apropos, no?) What the final
edit didn't show was me asking her to hold on, turning to Don and Susan
and saying, "Y'all set this up, didn't you?" Truly, until that moment,
I was clueless that they had another crew in Toronto with Birgit
Davis-Todd filming her side of the phone call. What I learned later is
that they'd gone to Harlequin first looking for an author who had
submitted to the house to profile. I lucked out by having a manuscript
in the right place at the right time!
JJ: Books about SPIES are traditionally manly man reading material
written by men for men with lots of grunting and hairy scratching and
GADGETS---and yet your SG-5 series appeals to women. How are
you bending the genre to your readership?
AK: Honestly? I'm following ground broken by a couple of fabulous romance
authors who have written series featuring Navy SEALS and covert
anti-terrorist operatives. I've always been a big fan of adventure
movies, and consider what I'm writing to be similar - with the added
appeal of having women tame these big bad men. *g* I employ a lot of
gadgets, some manly man language, a bit of grunting - but no scratching
that I can recall. And the women are not just arm candy. They're quite
capable of wielding their own semi-automatic if necessary! Actually, I
was told long ago with my first book that I had a voice that would lend
itself to detective fiction - and this was before I'd sold a thing. Now
I'm having a ball combining my love for romance with my love for
JJ: A lot of writers read this blog---How do you balance X-treme
motherhood with a full time writing career?
AK: I'm very lucky and in a situation that's fairly unique. My husband also
works at home, and what kids we still have here are twenty-somethings
going to college and working. They come and go and fend for themselves
and make the motherhood part of my job almost redundant. *g* I so
admire authors who write amidst the demands of babies and toddlers and
kids in school. I remember sitting at my daughter's volleyball games or
my son's football games with a pencil in hand as I either edited or
jotted notes! My family has grown up used to writing being my job and
as much as they may grouse when I can't pop up and head to the movies or
the mall, they know where their bread is buttered. *g* That said, I
make sure - even at their age - to "play" with the kids daily, even if
it's no more than teasing and joking in the kitchen while we're all
futzing around on one of the nights we actually make dinner as a family!
Also, I don't clean. Seriously. I gave it up for writing. Our house
is now a home happy in its clutter!
Remember I got a new computer? Well. My old version of ICQ does not support Windows XP, or Windows XP does not support the old version, or whichever of them is supposed to support the other has refused to send the check. SO! Scott DLed and installed the latest version of ICQ on and...IT HAS NO SPELL CHECK.
Okay, well it isn't like I use spell check FOR my icq messages. Anyone I am ICQing is either a relative, a friend from the way back back, or a gaming buddy with whom I will shamelessly use the "to roxxor" as a verb. And any self-respecting spellchecker would IMPLODE if you tried to run "pH3^R mY 733+ness & mAd sKilzzZzz & tiNl< n0t mY n0d3!" past it.
But when I am writing, say, a business e-mail, to some academic smarty-pants who wants me to speak at a conference, I REALLY do not want to choke and say, for example, BREATH when I OBVIOUSLY mean BREATHE. And then sometimes you know how you will be writing along and suddenly a word you use every day, like, say, NECESSARY, starts looking FOREIGN AND ODD and you just HAVE to check it. My email does NOT have spell check. So it has been my habit to use ICQ for a quick check. See, ICQ is always OPEN. Now with new STUPID ICQ, I have to OPEN MS WORD every time, or open a browser and go to dictionary .com, or GOD HELP ME, I have to actually crack open a PAPER DICTIONARY! LIKE A PREHISTORIC SAVAGE! I might as well squat in a loincloth chewing my great aunt's remains and discovering fire.
Also I hate this new version because the GET LAID button is RIGHT BESIDE the SEND button. I keep accidentally opening the MEET SEXY SINGLES advertisement asking me if I want to meet TIFFANY, 27, who likes hiking and macrame and whose breasts are falling out of her tube top. You know what? I don't.
FOR THE RECORD, tech-master-mighty-code (AKA Shawn Box) DID hook me up with older, spell-checkier version that will work with XP, SO IT IS ALL GOING TO BE GOOD. EVENTUALLY. But Scott has not had time to install it, so here I sit with "necessary" looking completely BIZARRE and NO idea of how many U's are legally allowed to inhabit the word "RESTAURANT."
1) He is in Alaska right now, celebrating being married to my mom for 44 years.
2) He still likes my mom.
3) A LOT.
4) He will watch any movie. No matter how bad. I have yet to find one he won't sit all the way through.
5) He sat all the way through National Treasure.
6) And Powder.
7) When my brother was stationed in Germany and they complained about the terrible German TV (Example: There was a game show called Tutti-Frutti where contestants could do strip-tease dances to gain extra points. The contestants were not necesarily chosen for their physical attractiveness...), My dad got HBO and Showtime specifically so he could tape movies, any movies at all, and mail them to my brother.
8) Dad ALMOST ALWAYS cut the last 5 to 15 minutes off the movies he taped.
9) My father always tries to do the right thing.
11) When I was 4, my mom got me I heart Daddy/ Daddy's Girl Pajamas.
12) Because I was a daddy's girl.
13) I still am.
14) He was a soldier when I was little. An Airborne Ranger.
15) It's both disconcerting and comforting to have a father who knows 60 bare-handed ways to kill any date of yours that gets fresh.
16) He did two tours in Vietnam when my brother was small.
17) My mother wouldn't have any more babies until he promised her would not go back to Vietnam. So he promised. Then they had me.
18) 18 months later he went and fought in Cambodia.
19) He maintains that it was NOT Vietnam. Technically.
20) He has true blue eyes.
21) There's a scene in gods in Alabama where two young girls are going to go out on a double date, and the father gives them change so they can call him if they need him to get them, and folding money so they can go someplace and get a coke while they wait for him to come. My dad always did that.
22) But other than that the father character is nothing like my father.
23) I have never seen my father leave my mother without kissing her goodbye.
24) When I was about 11, my father started asking me on dates.
25) He woul dtake me out, just us, for dinner and a movie.
26) I would dress up. So would he.
27) Once we went to a french place where the rolls came floating in a little butterlake and it was dim and fancy.
28) Other times we went for pizza.
29) On these dates, he always opened the doors for me and asked me questions and really listened to the answers and told me things about himself I hadn't known before. When I got old enough to begin dating, I expected boys to treat me that same way, and I didn't like them much if they didn't.
30) His mama did not raise any fools.
31) He is very reserved.
32) A "Well done" or an "I'm proud" from my dad means more than a ticker tape parade from anyone else.
33) When I was small, "making a spectacle" was the worst thing a child could do. A spectacle was anything LOUD or BOISTEROUS in a public place that wasn't a park.
34) Any child who made a spectacle would get their ear pinched in his famous Vulcan Ear-Death grip.
35) But he never once spanked me.
36) I remember when my brother and I had been heinous we would line up for spankings, and stand waiting to be spanked in the hall while he went to get the cat o' nine tails... but I never actually got spanked.
37) MY excessively loud little children are a constant, ongoing, walking spectacle, and my dad NEVER. MINDS. AT. ALL.
38) One of my first memories is looking at the bottoms of my father's feet when he had returned from Cambodia. They were so thick with callouses, they looked like hooves.
39) He is very good at contract bridge.
40) And chess.
41) He had to retire early from the military because he'd been soaking in Agent Orange for three years and it made him very sick.
42) He contracted a rare cancer of the blood, and he was supposed to die.
43) My mother had an oil portrait done of him, so we would know what our dad looked like.
44) He was and is very handsome.
45) They tried to prep us for his death, and perhaps I got over-prepped, because I would say things like, "If I am not dead on Friday, can you take me to see the new Benji movie?"
46) He didn't die.
47) He is stubborn and mighty like that.
48) He went to college on a football scholarship.
49) He was a kicker.
50) He's only 5'9" or so, and back when he played football, in the papers they called him "The little man with the gold toe."
51) My brother, who is a non-athletic brilliantly gifted sculptor, joined the army and became an arborne ranger too. He got out as soon as he could and went off to be an artist.
52) I often think it must have been hard to be my father's son, because my father is both a quietly good man and a larger than life hero---it's a lot to live up to...
53) It was excessively easy to be his daughter.
54) It still is.
55) I married a man who is practically my father's clone, only taller, because you know I like the high shoes.
56) It was the smartest thing I ever did.
57) Two days before my wedding, my father took me out on one last date, just us.
58) He gave me away.
59) Scott and I had a huge wedding. HUGE. An evening wedding, very formal-- I had a train that ended in another state, practically, and hundreds and hundreds of people were there. Standing in the nave with my father, I panicked. For no reason. I just did. I thought WHAT AM I DOING!?!?!?! And then I looked at my dad, and I thought, "Wait a sec! If I don't want to do this, ALL I HAVE TO DO is say so to my daddy, and he will stop the whole thing and make everyone go home, and fix it all." And I looked at my dad, and I knew it was true. I immediately calmed down and realized I DID want to marry Scott, more than anything, and so I smiled at my dad and the slutty wedding planner threw open the doors and we walked down the aisle.
60) His middle name is Harold.
61) If I am spoiled (and Scott assures me that I am) he had a BIG hand in it.
62) He refuses to ever buy movie popcorn because he thinks the price is obscene.
63) Unless one of his grandchildren wants it.
64) They went to eat at a steak house once, and it was BAD, and after that, whenever dad and mom would pass one of those steakhouses my mother would say, "Remember that awful meal? Everything tasted like soap." And my father would grimace and say, "I can still taste it." FOR YEARS this went on.
65) They would probably still be saying it, except that chain went out of business so they never pass one.
66) I have his nose.
67) My son has his athletic ability.
68) My daughter has his WILL.
69) My mother asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance when she was 15 and he was 16.
70) That's not true. My AUNT pretended to be my mother and called and asked him because my mother was too shy.
71) He was captain of his high school football team.
72) My father makes the best cinnamon toast that has ever existed upon the earth.
73) On my right ring finger, I always wear the pearl ring he gave my mother on her sixteenth birthday.
74) My kids call him Papa.
75) My parents were married when Mom was 19 and he was 20---neither of them has ever been in love with anyone else.
76) Not even a little bit.
77) When we were teenagers, my brother and I would walk in my parents in a liplock, and we would holler, "EW YA'LL! YUCK! QUIT IT" and they would laugh at us and kiss anyway.
78) My other aunt used to call my father a tightwad and enrage me.
79) He IS very careful with money. <--understatement
80) He had a paper route from the time he could walk until he went off to college, and when he graduated from high school he had half of every dime he had ever earned on it. AT LEAST A NICKEL of each dime was sitting in a savings account.
81) He spent it on my mother's engagement ring, a gorgeous one carat round cut stone in platinum.
82) In my parents teeny tiny Alabama home town, no one had ever seen anything like it.
83) When I told my mother that my Aunt had called him a tightwad, my mother smiled a little smile I did not understand at the time, and said, "When it is important, your father will spend the money."
84) Mom calls it her Paper Route Diamond.
85) For their 30th Anniversary, he got her a new diamond. She calls that one the paper WEIGHT diamond.
86) The best gift he has ever given me is the ability to be unabashedly proud of the kind of man my father is.
87) The worst gift he has ever given me is a Ginsu Knife.
88) He made me learn to drive a stick shift before I could go get my lisence.
89) Both cats and dogs like him, but he prefers dogs.
90) He used to take my brother hunting, and I begged and begged to go too, and so finally he relented when I was about 4. My mother packed us a lunch and little bags of cereal for a snack and off we went to hunt. When we got to the woods and my dad got the guns out of the back of the car, I started asking questions and I realized "hunting" meant "shooting birds dead." My eyes got big and my lips trembled, and my daddy put the guns back in the car adnd took me and my brother on an all day nature walk.
91) Using the cereal as bait, we caught 900 million crawdaddies and brought them home in a bucket.
92) When we got home, I realized my father intended to boil and eat the crawdads, and my eyes got big and my lips trembled, because by then they all had NAMES.
93) We kept them as pets.
94) Overnight they mostly got out of the bucket and crept into the yard and died and stank like the very bottom of briny hell.
95) My parents live in Alabama in a pretty house on a hill they call The Nob. It has a fishpond.
96) My father wages a constant war with the fat-bottom raccoons who come and eat his goldfish, and the little deers who come and eat mom's tulips.
97) He understands logical syllogisms.
98) He never tries to apply them to me.
99) When my mother was in labor with me, and they were wheeling her away to the delivery room, he called after her, "Please, Betty, try to have a girl."
100) When I KNOW I am doing something wrong and my conscience tells me not to, the voice in my head speaks very calmly and quietly and deliberately, very succinctly, and it wasn't until I was in my thirties that I realized my conscience speaks to me in his voice, and so in this way he will be with me, being my good wise daddy, until the day I die.
That would be crash. As in I stupid crashed my stupid van stupid. DERNIT. I have these LONG LONG keys --- the keys are all in bunches hanging on a kilt pin, and now that it is SUMMER I am in shorts and the long keys swing and dandle and every now again they BRUSH my thigh in this revolting manner and it was driving me NUTZZZZZZZZZ so I got to a traffic light and I stopped and I was struggling to get the kilt pin open to take the NON-ignition key-bundles OFF so that they would stop TOUCHING ME and somehow while I was doing that my foot came off the brake, or it went on the gas or SOMETHING. I have no idea. Let's just say, my foot did A BAD THING and my van began GOING again and whanged into a truck in front of me.
And SPEAKING of stupid, I think the woman I rammed into thought I was mentally defective. I was in SUCH SHOCK. I made sure my kids were fine, and then I leapt out and she got out too.
Me: OH HOLY COW ARE YOU OKAY?
Woman I Hit: Yeah. It was just a bump.
Me: Because I just crashed into the back of your truck?!?!
WIH: Yeah I know. I was sitting in it.
Me: ARE YOU OKAY?
WIH: Yeah...and look my car has no damage.
Me: I just hit you! WITH MY CAR! HOLY CATS!
WIH: I do not see any damage to MY car at all, in fact. But look, your bumper got pushed down and your hood is buckled.
Me: OH WOW I WRECKED MY VAN! WITH YOUR TRUCK! WHICH I HIT!!! WITH MY VAN!!!Is everyone in your TRUCK OKAY? BECAUSE DID YOU SEE THAT??? I HIT YOUR TRUCK?!?!
WIH: Yes well, you hit me from behind so I didn't see it, no. *edges away from me*
Me: Should I call my husband? Or State Farm? SHOULD I CALL THE POLICE??? I HIT YOUR TRUCK! ARE YOU OKAY????
WIH: Yes, I am okay, and my truck looks to be okay, so um, you call whoever you want.
Me: I can call my husband! Want me to call my husband??? Or State Farm? I AM SO SORRY! ARE YOU OKAY?
WIH: BYE THEN!
She leapt in her truck and fled with me calling SORRY! SORRY! ARE YOU OKAY??? after her. I looked at my poor buckled hood and and took three deep breaths and got myself together and climbed back in the van. Maisy was nervous and Sam was righteously idignant.
Sam: Mom. You crashed Vincent. (The van's name is Vincent Van-Go. BLAME SCOTT! He cannot, God love him, resist a pun)
Me: I am aware.
Maisy: I don't LIKE that bump, Mommy.
Sam: Was that my very first crash? Ever? or did you crash me into anything when I was a baby and I don't remember.
Me: No, I did not CRASH YOU as an infant.
Maisy: Don't make that bump no more.
Sam: Mom, we could have been completely killed.
Me: Oh, for the love of Pete, Sam, we were going 6 miles an hour.
Sam: Maybe you should try to drive a bit more carefully, Mom.
Then I turned around and snatched him out of his seat and ate him in two bites. Is there anything more delicious than a sanctimonious 8 year old? Piquant yet sly, with a smooth oaky finish. AHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
I do not often speak bluntly and unkindly about my fellow human beings. Not on this blog, and I try not to in life as well. TRY being the operative word. Gossip is my very favorite sin--it's probably the one that will put me into hell. One day I'll slip this mortal coil and go tumbling out of my body, all the way down, and while I am being prodded experimentally by the pointy sticks of the toasting demons, one of them will hold up my ledger and say, "Tut tut It says here you tried to be a good wife and mother, you were kind to little old ladies, you gave to charity, but then on the other hand, you LOVED you some sloth and some gluttony, and your books had all that cussing and the somewhat graphic ex-say---not to mention the VIOLENCE *tongue cluckings*, so you were teetering on the edge, and then look, right here. The gossip. It JUST tipped the scales. Now let's go strap a thousand pounds of luggage to your back and, you know, set it on fire, and then I will show you to your room."
All that freely admitted...I met an idiot on Tuesday. God love him.
I was in a book store, so he kinda blindsided me. Book stores are not the idiot's natural habitat. But there he was, bless his heart, clutching an oversized paperback that lists all the literary agents in the U.S to his chest and watching me with an odd and carnivorous gleam in his eye.
I was out of town for the last two days (hence the no blog entries) and on the drive home I passed a bookstore. I went in, as is my wont, and introduced myself to the folks that worked there and offered to sign the copies of gods in Alabama they had and etc. They were a nice bunch and one of them HAD READ THE BOOK AND REALLY, REALLY LIKED IT! TRA LA! SO. That's always fun. I was having a good time. The woman helping me went to find the "signed copy" stickers, and when she left me, the idiot who had been creeping through the stacks on his sly underbelly saw his moment, and he pounced on me.
Idiot: *touches book* You wrote this*
Me: Yeah, I did.
Idiot: I saw this in Entertainment Weekly---'sposed to be a really good book.
Me: Well, I'm proud of it.
Idiot: What's it about?
Me: *Tells what book is about and ends with...* so I hope you get a chance to read it.
Idiot: *whiffs his nose in faint surprise and then looks at me as if I had just suggested he eat an alive kitten* Oh, I won't READ read it...*leans in confidentially* See, I'm a WRITER.* *holds up the book of agents. He was showing it to me as proof of his writer-ness? I think?*
We stood talking for a little---he grilled me pretty relentlessly about my publishing house and agent, wanting to know how he could best approach them. Let's put aside for a moment the PERSONAL here. Which, okay, yes, It's plain old-fashioned BAD MANNERS to say to a writer, "Oh I am not going to read your book, good grief, why would I want to do THAT? But can I say I met you when I approach your agent?" But... quite frankly, that has happened SEVERAL times without me feeling the need to blog about it. I answered him the way I have answered the three or four others who have shamelessly said the same thing to me; I told him the process for querying my agent (or any other) which he already knew. Then he told me all about his writing. He likened himself to a more literary Michael Crichton, but then admitted he hadn't actually READ ANY MICHAEL CRICHTON. Let's pause here and boggle for a moment. OKAY! We have now left bad manners and gone directly to stupid. Talking to him, I got the distinct sense that he didn't really much LIKE TO READ. At least, he hadn't read much of anything that I could determine, excepting, of course, a HOST of books about how to write books and a separate whole nother host of books about how to sell books. He had spent hundreds of dollars in book stores and had emerged from the experience UNSCATHED by the READING OF ANY ACTUAL BOOKS.
I find this to be so MINDBOGGLING I can hardly go on. It's a little bit like having someone tell you that it is their lifelong ambition to be a cowboy, and then having them add, "Of course I think horses are stupid, and cattle don't smell that great, and I'm very fair, which means I BURN easily, so I've never been what you might call 'out-doorsy,' but Lordy, honey, my be-hiney looks mighty fine in some butt-less chaps."
So I told him what I think is the absolute truth: If you want to be a writer, you need to love books. I do not KNOW a successful writer who isn't an avid reader. Writers need to eat books and make out with books and shower with books and cuddle books and only go to sleep so we can dream books. You need to read every good book you can get your hands on, and you need to read some spectacularly BAD ones as well ---- NOT ONLY because you will learn more about writing a seamlessly shifting POV by spending some delightful hours with TO THE LIGHTHOUSE or CUJO (depending on your tastes) than you will learn by reading one thousand articles called "How to shift POV,' --- but because it is such a glorious and ceaseless and reliable and unending source of learning, and beauty, and NOT LEAST AMONG READING'S MYRIAD PLEASURES, entertainment. AND DO NOT give me that crap (as this young man did) about "OH BUT IF I READ BOOKS WHILE TRYING TO WRITE BOOKS WON''T THAT MESS UP MY OWN VISION." No. It won't. In fact, that's why God made books outside your genre. If you are writing hard-boiled mysteries, Jane Austen is NOT going screw with you. In fact, IF YOU PAY ATTENTION, she will teach you to infuse a scene with sly humor. *tries to climb off soapbox, fails, pops back up*
People ask me why I don't have a WHAT I AM READING icon on the side of my blog, and it's because to change that side menu you have to muck with the CODE and that always ends with me wrecking the whole site, and then Scott has to spend four hours fixing it, and the icon would change too frequently for me to ask Scott to keep up with it. This week, for example, I read the second in a series of VERY FINE mysteries by Julia Spencer-Fleming (A Fountain Filled With Blood) right now I am ALMOST done with Jim Fergus' CHARMING and intensely readable speculative western, One Thousand White Women. I should finish that this afternoon, at which point think I am going to reread some Kaye Gibbons or start on Marshall Boswell's series of interconnected short stories called Trouble With Girls depending on my mood. OKAY! NOW I AM DONE. *Gets; off soapbox.* Well...almost done.
I got on my soapbox and told the idiot all this, and I closed with something like, "I swear to THE LORD I'm not trying to make you buy my book here. I'll shamelessly tell you that it is a good book, but hey, it may not be your cup of tea, whatever. That's okay---but you need to go find out what your cup of tea IS. Put that reference book back and go spend the 30 bucks on, I don't know, why not start with writers named Michael. Off the top of my head i can think of Connelly and Chabon and Cunningham and if you are comparing yourself to him you need to read Crichton and those are just the Michaels that have last names starting in C and HEY! while you are at it, buy some freaking DICKENS."
I do not think he heard me.
I told a friend of mine this story on the phone yesterday, and she didn't think I should blog it. She was worried that, besides being tipped over into hell by the snark-gossip-factor, the guy might come to my website and find this long entry discussing his idiocy and feel terrible. But good grief, this is a BLOG, which last time I looked was a text based medium, and the guy, by his own admission, DOES. NOT. READ. I'm safe as houses.
See you in hell.
I AM SO PLEASED to get have Mindy Friddle here talking about her debut novel, THE GARDEN ANGEL which came out in hardback last year and is poppin' fresh delicious now out in paperback. You know how I can't read good southern fiction when I am working? I've mentioned it before---it can screw with my voice, and if it is both exceptional and dealing thematically with the sorts of things that interest me, I find myself wondering why I even bother to TRY to write when ____ already exists. I call it Haven Kimmel syndrome. Well.
Friddle's book gave me this complex in spades.
I found THE GARDEN ANGEL because my agent is a friend of Mindy's editor, and my agent asked her editor to ask her to read my upcoming debut novel, and, if she liked it, to say a few kind words about it. Finding blurbers sometimes feels like MIDDLE SCHOOL, it's all very, "This girl asked her friend to ask me to ask you if you like her? DO YOU? Please check one! ___ yes ___ no ___maybe but (circle one) a) I am too busy and important to find out just now so BACK OFF I HAVE A DEADLINE for the love of God, foam foam, B) I am currently not doing blurbs because it said on the bathroom wall I was a blurb whore and my agent said I had to stop putting out blurbs this year, or C) I don't do blurbs because it is a terrible system of author oppression and I hate the very thought of them and PS I think less of you for asking, or D) My mental illness number is very high just now. Outlook Not good. Try Again later."
Anyway, she did agree to read the book and she did like it, and she wrote a fantastic blurb for it. My agent sent me the blurb and said some VERY admiring things about Friddle's work, and that's how THE GARDEN ANGEL got on my radar.
My immediate response was to go out and try to buy it because if someone is going to be kind enough to read me and blurb me, the least I can do is read her back. I had a hard time finding it. The first two stores I went to had sold out (the book went into 4 printings so demand exceeded supply). I finally clued in that I should call The Alabama Booksmith (Jake has stores and hidden pockets of the very best EVERYTHING southern) and sure enough they came through for me. (HUZZAH!) SO I got it home. I KNEW it was southern, and I was working to deadline, but I started to read it ANYWAY, like a moron. I was maybe 30 pages in when I threw it across the room. I was SO DEVASTATED by its perfect pitch. BUT it was so GOOD and ENGAGING I kept going back and picking it UP again. LIKE A MORON. THREE TIMES I started this book, once getting as far as 75 pages in before I would hurl it away and go chew the carpet, stiffening into a rictus of agony because it was so. very. perfect.
It was the first book I read the MOMENT the draft of Beween, Georgia was finished, and it's one of the best books I read last year. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. These people, these funny quirky hapless adorable real people...Especially Elizabeth. I WEPT three times reading this book and giggled out loud more times than I can count, and when I finished it the first time, I immediately went back and reread the last three chapters just for the grace notes and the way Friddle doesn't let everything work out all glossy and plastic, but how the end leaves you bouyant and hopeful ANYWAY, and it's perched right now on my REREAD shelf, sandwiched by THE BITCH POSSE and TRUTH AND BEAUTY (a very nice seat indeed) and it's on my list of books I give as gifts because if you do not like this book you very possibly have NO soul and are, in fact, a golem.
In SHORT, I highly recommend it. I ended up getting to meet her while on tour (I had a stop in Greenville) and she's ALSO a nice person, which always makes me happy. You so want the writers you admire to turn out to be decent human beings, you know?
So I have said all this without saying what the book is about, but...honestly the book itself is MUCH better than a quick flap perusal would lead you to believe. I think this is NOT the jacket copy writer's fault---it's a hard book to sum up in a few sentences. It is pitched like this: "In Sans Souci, South Carolina, talk is cheap, real estate even more so. No one knows this better than Cutter Johanson, a gruff tomboy who waits tables, writes obits, and makes every effort, however comical and in the face of her mercenary relatives, to avert the sale of the dilapidated ancestral home. And despite her plucky resolve, all appears to be lost---until she strikes up an unlikely friendship with Elizabeth, a shy and fragile academic who puts both their fates on the mend." Only 5,000 times better and funnier and huge-souled and engaging than that little blip of whats-it-all-about would indicate. And if you waded through all this adoration-filled babbling, you WIN, because now Mindy Friddle gets to talk;
JJ: To whom did you dedicate the book, and, if we may be so bold and intrusive, why?
MF: I dedicated my book to my parents. They're both huge readers...my dad still reads, like, three books a week. As a family, we used to hit to bookstore every Sunday after a big lunch. It was part of our family ritual. They spent a fortune in books for us. I figured they earned the dedication.
JJ: One of the book's many strengths is it's strong sense of place---your characters are intimately connected with it and the writing itself is grounded in place. This reads as...personal. Can you talk a little about your own "sense of place?"
MF: Well, that's a great question. I'm fascinated with how cities gradually swallow towns and communities. It happens everywhere, of course, not just the South. But there's something elegaic and melancholy about an abandoned once-grand homestead, especially when it's betweeen a Hot Spot and a Wal-Mart. You wonder, hey, what happened? That family, that community, used to have high hopes. And is there anything more forlorn than a shuttered textile mill? Or the burned remnants of one?
As for my own "sense of place"-- I'm an Army Brat whose also a South Carolina native. Both my grandmothers stll live on the same street in Sans Souci, South Carolina ( a milltown where I set the Garden Angel).
So I had the advantage, as a child, of being steeped in southern tradition and also seeing a bit of the world. I now live in a historic neighborhood in Greenville, South Carolina--in a bungalow with squeeky floorboards and glass door knobs.
JJ: The publication of THE GARDEN ANGEL is a bit of a Cinderella story in that it launched quietly and became a true word-of-mouth success. I believe you went into four printings in hardback? You told me "It's good to be under-estimated." There are a lot of writers who read this blog ---can you talk a little bit about the value of being underestimated in this indistry?
MF: Hmmm. I must have slipped some burbon in my iced tea that time we were having lunch. Seriously, though, yep, there is value in being under-estimated in this publishing business. And, okay, I've got on my rose-colored glasses on here, but here goes: It's been my understanding that when your novel is published, when it launches out of the starting gate, there will be those who will believe in its success (the
shortlist: your mother, your editor, and your agent). And if you're lucky, there will be others as well: publicist(s), bloggers, booksellers (Booksense, B&N Discover, Borders New Voices, etc.), reviewers, librarians. Some authors will have huge advertising budgets behind them, many won't. But it's important to remember that as an author there's a LOT you can do to reach more and more readers (which is the point, after
all) and to give your book "legs" to help it gallop around the track.
You can expand or plan your own tour, send out press kits and postcards, start your own blog, tap into the book club circuit, build relationships with booksellers. And speaking from experience here, I rarely turn down a gig. From the business side, hopefully the book will go into more printings and you will earn out your advance quickly and even receive some royalty checks. That means you are not only meeting but exceeding your publisher's expectations, and that's a great feeling, certainly, and hopefully good for your writing career, as well.
Pam McNew has some poems in an upcoming anthology, and the editors-that-be asked her (as these people often do) for a short AUTHOR BIO. She wrote the usual, "Pam lives here, does this, wrote that, and now I shall close with a detail, Small and Personal." The end. I AM FOR THAT. I never like author bios that try to be all wacky-funky..."James Blade wears only purple in protest of injustice and lives entirely on seeds and punk music," or worse, mystical..."Joanna Everpoo spends her days dancing off moonbeams, word collecting, and heeding the siren call of her muse..." Yeah. Sure she does, and can someone please pass her a big glass candy jar full of lithium?
I always suspect people with bios like that are 19, and this is their first poem/story/piece published, and that they are going to want to DIE when they look at it again in ten years. Also, I am ANTI muse. I don't like writers to say that their MUSE is lost or that she is loud or demanding or that they cannot find her. I realize this will get me killed. I realize people LIKE to talk about their muse, and everyone does it, and they do not wish to be asked not to. It is a meaningless convention so in use that it's practically conversational shorthand---heck, EVERYONE gives muse updates, many people I GENUINELY ADORE and respect claim to have one, but I cannot resign myself to it. In fact, if I was a multi-bulti-twillionaire, I would pass out big fat checks to anyone who promised sincerely to STOP IT. I find talk about people's muses to be embarrassing, as if they are casually nattering on about their troubles with a hairy butt mole. If you HAVE one, okay, but why bring it up? Like that.
ANYWAY, Pam McNew wanted to write herself a DREAM BIO, you know, uncensored and, more importantly, UNTRUE. A writer friend, James Stevens Arce, picked it up and told me about it, and now I feel it is officially a MEME. So here is mine, and I breathlessly await yours:
Some people call author Joshilyn Jackson The Space Cowboy. This is probably because she has been to space, and also paradise, and also to the desert (on a horse with no name), and she has even been to me. In a former life, she was the Egyptian Sun God Ra, and that's why she holds her hands like that. She currently captures her prey by half pouncing and half lassoing them, and she can capture several prey items at one time. She feeds on one specimen while retaining the others in her quivering, lashing appendages. She thinks you look tasty.
Okay I stole some of that from a description of the common house centipede. But it is MY dream bio and I can have quivering, lashing appendages IF I WANT. Also I love how it says it HALF POUNCES and HALF LASSOS. How do you half pounce? How do you half lasso? Any creature that can do BOTH AT ONCE is something I want to be, even it does look like the fanged and gelid hairball of my cat's worst nightmares. ALSO IT IS VENOMOUS! LOOK at this thing:
But the description, what with all the half-lassoing, reminds me of that Oscar Wilde short, The Picture of Dorian Gray; Wilde can't keep up with what his characters are doing physically. He'll have a man who is standing in the garden with a cane in one hand and a hat in the other begin casually lighting cigarettes and fumbling with his pocket watch, apparently with his spare tentacles. I betcha Oscar Wilde's prose characters could half-pounce-half-lasso in their sleep.
I better go...the PRO-MUSE-RS have probably already launched their grecian draped assassins to send me to sleep with the fishes.
Or worse, with the common house centipedes. *shudder*
I am TINGLINGLY AWARE that tropical storm ARLENE is heading FOR ALABAMA!!! (For those not in the know, Arlene is the name of the heroine of gods in Alabama) If this Arlene follows in the footsteps of her namesake, it is certain to become a hurricane and take out half the state. I hope for Alabama's sake that the storm version of Arlene quietly patters some gentle raindrops onto the upturned face of Mobile and then sits down and shuts up in a mealy-mouthed, ladylike and utterly UN-Arlene-like manner.
BUT the piece of me that does sidewalk yoga to avoid stepping on cracks is trying to READ what this all MEANS...ANYONE HERE UP ON THEIR SIGNS AND PORTENTS???? I am not good at omens. Real life and proprty damage aside, in a strictly "fingers on the planchette" way, is it GOOD if it becomes a hurricane or BAD? If it damages the whole state is that a JUDGEMENT on me? If it fails to damage the whole state is that a judgement on THE BOOK? Someone who is a bone-roller and a dream interpreter needs to explain the inner workings of MoJo to me in relation to this storm...
...WHICH IS YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS away, my doctor tells me (my doctor is PRETTY), but the calcium and plant estrogen supplement industries want me to think I better start chewing little chews IMMEDIATLY lest my bones snap and I sprout 3 black, floaty chin hairs, right now, here, in the middle of my thirties. Well, okay. They are chocolate flavored, those chews, so PASS 'EM ON OVER.
I am thinking about AGING... Or rather, people around me have put two big SCOOPS of aging-thoughts into the raisin bran of my brains.
My agent, who is well into his 60's, had a birthday on Saturday. Last time I was with him, I couldn't help but ask in a panicky voice if he had any plans to retire. This is my AGENT. MY Agent. The one who picked me out of the slush pile, dug me up from tens of thousands of queries, from thousands of partials, from hundreds of manuscripts. I had no sales record, no publication beyond a few short stories in lit mags, and he read my work and said, "Yes. You. Absolutely."
He has become my friend as well--I GENUINELY like him, and if he DID retire he'd still be my friend... but. I DO NOT WANT HIM TO RETIRE. He said he wouldn't. And I clutched at him and said, "EVER????" And he said, "Not ever." So. I am holding him to that. But I do not like him to have birthdays.
He has more than three decades on me, and assuming I continue to write good books and assuming readers continue to buy them and assuming I don't I go trit-trotting under a bus because I am deep, deep in my head having conversations with people who do not technically exist and not paying attention (and these are all pretty big assumptions), he's statistically likely to get out of the industry before I do. Even if he NEVER retires, one day he'll gracefully slump down dead onto the Manhattan pavement, probably just after a truly superlative lunch. (Which, you know, that's how I'd like to go too, come to think of it. If I get to pick, I want the lunch to be at Blue Hill (home of the milk fed hen)though that would actually be GREENWICH VILLAGE pavement I was gracefully slumping down dead on, but hey, let's get real. I mean, I have some pretty cute shoes, but I KNOW most of them aren't good enough to die in IN MANHATTAN...But I digress.)
My best friend in the whole world turnd 33 today. HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY LYDIA. It's a big year for her because 33 is the age at which her Ultimate Idol, Herman Melville, wrote Moby Dick. Which means this is the year she has to write HER Moby Dick, before the GOUT or THE CONSUMPTION or some other wierd, artistic disease leaps on her and kills her in the middle of Melville's prime. She called me this morning.
Lyd: Hi. I am thirty-three. TODAY. This is the year I have to become profound.
Me: Maybe you should start reading Stephen Jay Gould. Scott keeps leaving his essays all over the bathroom. I could send them to you.
Lyd: No, crack-smoker, I am not reading Stephen Jay Gould. I have to find another way to become profound. Maybe I should look deep, deep, deep into my heart.
Me: Lord help me, NO! Please do not. I will give you fifty dollars to NOT look deep, deep, deep into your heart.
Lyd: Well, but I have two small children. I've examined my schedule, and my options for becoming profound are limited. I pretty much have to find ways to become profound in the car. While driving.
Yeah, me too.
And then today I got an email from someone who was looking for inspiring quotes about growing older from women over 35...She was very circumspect. She said, and here I paraphrase, "I looked at the picture on your website, and I am not saying you look OVER 35 or anything, but if you HAPPEN to be 35 (or over), (NOT THAT YOU LOOK IT), I'd appreciate a quote."
At the bottom she had pasted a couple of quotes she had already gleaned, one from a novelist I TRULY admire, and of course her quote was pithy and brilliant and inspiring, and made me positively LONG to cross the finish line into my forties so I can STOP being such a WANKER and become all wise and powerful and womanly and stuff.
AND SO, I called another friend and we batted around ideas for pithy, inspiring things I could say in the WAKE of this brilliant quote. That degenerated rather quickly, and I WASN'T EVEN DRINKING. We came up with about 100 TERRIBLE, AWFUL THINGS to say about aging, and we were laughing SO HARD that I would love to share them with you, but ALAS, this is the ONLY ONE I am willing to put down in writing out where God or my mother might find it:
"I hit 35, and I realized I wouldn't want to be 17 again for a million dollars. There wasn't one thing good about being 17...oh except the boobs. Ohhhh, the boobs; fearless in their perk, relentless in their bounce, with nipples that could stare right into the sun and. not. go. blind. Of course at the TIME I had NO idea what to do with them." *bursts into noisy sobs for the squandered boobs of youth* "But turning 35 was good too." *sniffle* "Mostly."
Yeah. I am going to hell. Not very inspiring. I will try to be more inspiring tomorrow, though I suspect that I am not GOOD at it. Nor am I even remotely related to pithy. I don't even think I have pithy's phone number. And if I got it? Pithy probably wouldn't take my call.
I am a bit flummoxed about what to write about---in a BIG picture way. I mean, there is always MINUTIA. Which is all I blog about anyway, I mean, I'm traveling all over the country to places I have never been and seeing, you know, WONDERS and stuff, and I blog relentlessly about trying to get chips out of a hotel vending machine and naked bathtub spider attacks. That's just what stuck. SO, clearly this is not a blog that's concerned with WORLD EVENTS.
And hey, I don't need a book tour to write about spider attacks. I can do that ANYWHERE. But I suppose that I am lookin for the angle, for the IN---the in for ME. My IN to the blog. What's my DRIVING FORCE here? What's my purpose? There has been, since I began, some sort of mission. And sure I got distracted from the actual mission about 4 times a week. I have the attentuion span of a crack-rabbit and I am all about digression, LORD KNOWS, but I need something from which to digress...
When I started, I said I was blogging my way from sale to publication. But…Publication happens. And so it did happen. Two months ago. (pause for little happy dance) SO.
Then I blogged the tours, presales and author. Weeks of merciless travel, happy to have an hour on an airplane to blog whatever tiny moment out of the last 24 - 48 hours glowed in some way. But tours end. And it ended. SO.
So now I am blogging…what? Newts, mostly. But that’s my life these days. I am all about newts.
I guess I am trying to decide what this blog is ABOUT, holistically speaking. As soon as I know, I'll tell ya. Or, maybe you can tell me.
OH The MUCH NEGLECTED VIRTUE REPORT! GAG! I have completely lost track of what day we are on. And I am NOT doing well AT ALL, people. Well, no. I am VERY virtuous all day, actually, but the day dies with the sun at a little after 8 PM, so that's when I order chinese food and uncork the shiraz. 20 days of virtue do a butt NO GOOD if they are followed by 20 nights of slatternly behavior. I may have to admit total failure and start over. Sometime. Not today though. The bottom rim of the sun just touched the horizon, and Scott has gone to get Hot Garlic Wontons and this delicious thing the menu calls NO MSG SHRIMP BASKET STEAM. Somebody pass me the corkscrew.
Scott starts his new job tomorrow. I'm SO proud of him and happy and thrilled and, because I am me, I am also just a leetle freaked out.
On the one hand I am pleased because he is SO excited and this job looks very challenging and fulfilling to him. So, that's good. And I am the most security minded person on the planet, so Scott having a job with stuff like health insurance and paid vacation and a vision plan and a 401K makes me feel as warm and pleased as a little pork-frank plumping happily in a puff pastry blanket. On the other hand, I keep counting the jobs that we have now in this house, and when we add in Scott's NEW one, I see FOUR. Four FULL TIME jobs.
1) Going to his office and being busy and important and having incomprehensible paperwork and a desk (his)
2) Raising kids and running a household (ours)
3) Writing novels (mine)
4) Promoting novels (also mine)
Ever since we had Sam, we have ALWAYS had THREE full time jobs. Scott made the money, I wrote the novels, and together we raised babies and ran a household. We just ADDED promoting novels to the list when gods in Alabama got close to it's publication date, and SIMULTANEOUSLY Scott's old company closed its Atlanta office, so we SUBTRACTED his job, holding us steadily at three. But this is FOUR NOW. Whole new ballgame. And 2.5 of them are MINE. Everything I need to do THIS WEEK, THIS MONTH, THIS YEAR is rising up in front of me like a tidal wave, and I am scared I will begin to drop vital balls and become a miserable failure who writes half-realized novels and half-assedly promotes them while halfway-raising crack-addled shoplifters who both hate me and demand I pay for therapy. I'm scared. I want to QUIT all 2.5 of my jobs, stop writing, cancel all of my interviews and bookstore visits, and sell the children to friendly gypsies who will raise them up to be tanned, barefoot, well-adjusted, pony-thieving acrobats. Then Scott could have his new job and I could start a totally different new career. As an advertising executive.
I THINK I WOULD BE VERY GREAT. After all, as a veteran insomniac, I watch a lot of TV! I KNOW commercials.
I can see which ones are UNBEARABLY stupid (The pepto-bismol dancers)
I can see which ones are actively going to harm the product (Fetal Rat Demons who look like they are so SOAKED in disease that they are practically DRIPPING bubonic plague, standing NEAR your sandwiches and singing WE LOVE THE SUBS!!! LET'S LICK DISEASE ALL OVER THE SUBS! WITH OUR PINK, FETAL DISEASE-SODDEN TONGUES! WE LOVE THE SUBS!)
I can see which ones are very very good (VONAGE! Hoo hoo! Woo Hoo hoo! Hoo hoo! Woo Hoo Hoo!)
And I can see which ones ought to be ILLEGAL to the point that MAKING ONE is a capital offense (all prescription drug commercials, but especially ones about herpes or erections, all feminine hygiene product commercials, but ESPECIALLY ones that involves someone pouring blue liquid onto a sanitary pad, sneaking up behind a woman in a white T-shirt, and WIPING her with it, and while we have the chair warmed up ANYWAY, let's execute whoever dreamed up the animated foot fungus guys leaping under toenails. Because, ew.)
Oh but maybe not. That's scary too. I have been out of corporate America for quite a LONG time long. So so so long, in fact that one might say I was never IN IT. That is a TRUE STORY! I have never had a real, grown-up CAREER type job. I dropped out of college to be a professional artsy-fartsy playwriting tequila-hoover who made money acting and cooking and mixing tequila for others, then went back to college, stayed in the warm wombly haven of academia for grad school, did a little sporadic teaching as an adjunct, and then became a professional mother and wrote novels... Hmmm. It may take me a little to become aclimatized.
I suspect my MOM-ism might have RUINED me. I mean, I have more PETS than I have power suits. And maybe my commercials would be all TAINTED by crazed domesticity. Like, this morning I was sitting downstairs moisterizing my heels and staring at The Little Pets as they toodled about in their aquarium. I LOVE the lotion I was using (Formula 308's Le Couvent des Mihimes Verbena and Lemon) and I was thinking up slogans for it, a product I GENUINELY feel is superior, and here is what I came up with:
Formula 308: Be as Moist as a Newt!
Yeah. Kinda makes the fetal rat demons look appealing, huh? I ran it past my son, and he improved it:
Formula 308: You'll be as moist as a newt, but you'll smell better."
See, I think a TRULY successful ad executive would have a natural propensity to associate things with BOOBS, not NEWTS. I would probably be a great big failure. *sigh* SO I better keep the kids. I've grown fond of my ratfinks over the years, and anyway, Sam and Maisy wouldn't have fetched much; they are skinny little things, and I hear gypsies pay by the pound. Also, I can't stop writing. I seem to be compulsive about it. SO I'd still have that job ANYWAY. And I am learning that I enjoy the heck out of touring and meeting bookly folks and yacketing about writing and reading, so why give up something that is essentially pleasurable...
In all seriousness---these 2.5 jobs I have are the best jobs in the world. The very best. And I just want to do them well, you know? All of them. And not screw up. It's so SCARY. I HATE failing. I hate being a failure. I hate it to the point that sometimes it hampers me --- I get too seized up imagining the ugly possibilities to even TRY to do what I want so badly to do. I go THARN, staring into the headlights of my life like Fiver in Watership Down, miserable and shaking and immobilized.
I'm not THERE right now. I'm okay, my mental illness number is UP but hasn't broken free of earth's atmosphere and reached ORBIT yet, but...my good right hand has a brand new job of his own, and I'm spooked. Scott says it will be fine though. And he is usually right about these things. So. It will be fine. Right? Right.
Virtue Report: Mostly Virtuous and somewhat less drunk.
First, a confession...This is a reconstruction of an actual conversation I had yesterday at a shameful 3 pm...
Kira: So how is your vow of VIRTUE going?
Me: Very well. Except I am drunk.
I pretty much STAYED mildly drunk yesterday. I had about 18 people coming over to my house for potluck supper, and I needed to make chicken and (whole wheat) pasta and etc, but I was incapacited by (I am trying to be delicate here) Lady-Type Abdominal Pain. And people, the motrin was not cutting it. SO. I had Scott make me the most virtuous cocktail I could think of (Absolute Citron with club soda, lime, and a splash of cranberry.) Which, one cocktail SHOULD NOT = hooty, come on! EVEN I AM USUALLY A MORE EXPENSIVE DATE THAN THAT! Except I was being SO virtuous because I knew I was going to eat ECLAIR CAKE LATER, so all I had eaten was a bowl of (high fiber, low sugar, whole grain) cereal early and then a big salad at about noon. I had no HELPFUL FOOD PAD to cut the alcohol. The vodka came roaring pure and undiluted directly into my blood stream, so that I still had the Lady-Type Abdominal pain, but I did. not. care. I was a very cheerful and obliging hostess, I am sure. ("I love you guys...you guys are, like, my best friends," etc etc)
I DO NOT COUNT the cocktails (yes, plural, as I administered them "as needed" from 3 pm on yesterday) against my VIRTUE-NESS, because they were CLEARLY medicinal. As for the rest, I did...okay. I mean, there was eclair cake, people. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? But I made people LEAVE with all the sugar they had brought into my house, and expect to be both more virtuous (and hopefully more sober) today.
AS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE FALLEN OFF THE VIRTUE WAGON, I ask you again, SO WHAT? There is no START OVER. There is no FAIL. There is only, "shrug it off and do better today."
Meanwhile, here is all the news that is fit to print from Chez Mild Headache We Are Pretending Is Not a Hangover.
1) REMEMBER THE CRAPULANCE? It was squatting on my house at the end of last year. Well....It has LIFTED. Scott starts his NEW BEAUTIFUL DREAM JOB on Monday. HUZZAH! HUZZAH! The pink shoes were kinda in celebration of the offer letter coming, so really if I complete 20 days of virtue I should get a completely different reward pair. <---girl logic is a beautiful thing. And anyway, nothing says VIRTUE like lettuce-green slingbacks.
2) After only three days of Virtue (one of which I spent pretty much BOMBED as previously confessed, film at 11) My fresh-from-the-dryer favorite jeans slid on more easily and buttoned with no need to lie down on the bed and make savage-piglet-being-killed grunting noises. It's the water. 8 glasses of water a day will peel the water-bloat right off IMMEDIATELY, which is very satisfying and motivating.
3) The battle cry of NEWT'S FOREVER has prompted my children into giving The Little Pets individual names. The smallest newt is Maisy's, and she named it Daisy Flower. Sam's medium sized little pet is called Spotty Newt, and my newt, the biggest, is now known as Fig. (Think about it.) I think they are TOO SMALL to show up in pictures. FIG is maybe a half-inch?
4) I wish I had stayed mildly drunk TODAY as well. ALL I WANT FOR DINNER IN THE WHOLE WORLD IS TATER TOTS, and no one will let me have them.
Remember how the BOY TRIBE in my neighborhood was engaged in the rampant mass murder of tadpoles, dredging them out of the pond behind my house and placing them in tupperware and bombing them with whole animal crackers (that dissolved into gill clogging sludge), keeping them long after they died, still calling them by their names and dropping still more crackers into the filthy water and insisting they were JUST SLEEPING until the sad, sad little bodies WITHERED into BLATANTLY DEAD tad-husks? Yeah. Boys. *sigh*
I wouldn't let Sam keep any until we had gone to PETS BACKWARDS R ALMOST AS EXPENSIVE AS CHILDREN (with nods to Dave Barry) and spent many bright, shiny pennies on a tank and a "bubbler" and fake coral reefs and real water grasses and gravel AND tadpole food...which doesn' exist by the way. I asked a PETSMART employee for some.
Her: Oh, there is no such thing.
Me: But... what do I feed tadpoles?
Her: Oh you just boil a little cabbage up for them every day and maybe chop up some...
Me: HA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHA. No, but really, what do people WHO HAVE LIVES feed tadpoles?
Her: *hands me a little jar of Aquatic Frog and Newt Feed*
So last week, the tadpoles were established in the De-Lux-O-Riffic Tad-Mansion (deluxe because it had those little amenities the other would-be tadpole environments in the garages of the BOY TRIBE members lacked. Just little luxeries, like, say, OXYGEN) and they ate the Aquatic Frog and Newt Feed up like it was mother's biscuits.
I liked them. I enjoyed watching them, keeping the tank clean, arranging the aquatic grasses and building a little pebble island for when the frogs-to-be emerged wanting a beach. I really liked how the bubbler gurgled and made the room sound cheerful. I especially liked how they were TEMPORARY.
"Eventually," I told the children over and over, "Tadpoles become frogs, and you release them."
"These are not FOREVER PETS like WAFFLES," I told the children again and again. "They are VISITORS IN OUR HOME. We can't FEED frogs, who will want to EAT GNATS and such! So we can ONLY have them until they change."
I was VERY clear and emphatic. Tadpoles=JUST PASSING THROUGH on the trip to FROGdom. FROGS= NOT FEEDABLE BY US. We worked to NOT get too attached...they do not even have individual names, for example. They have been collectively named The Little Pets, and they spend their days happily hiding amonst the grasses and purporting to be educational.
Which, they aren't really. Not INHERENTLY.
I realized HAVING tadpoles around don't teach nobody nothing. No one is standing near the tank and having bits of KNOWLEDGE ABOUT AMPHIBIANS seep into their brain pans via bubbler osmosis. SO. We got on the internet to research what sort of frogs they might turn into, and see what stage they are in now, and how many stages there are, and what their scientific name is and blah blah and the more we looked at different tadpoles found in Georgia, the more I came to realize that these things...these little pets...they were NOT tadpoles. Not at all. I had no idea WHAT they were.
Until on one tadpole page I saw a sentence that read, "Newts are often mistaken for tadpoles" and the word newts was a LINK, and I clicked it and up popped a picture of...The Little Pets.
Me: Holy cow! The Little Pets are...Newts. No wonder they liked the Aquatic Frog and Newt Feed!
Sam: COOL! NEWTS! WHAT DO NEWTS TURN INTO???
Sam; COOL! BIGGER NEWTS! And they eat the newt feed, so we can KEEP THEM! OH COOL! NEWTS FOREVER!
Maisy: *arching her back and raising her hands like an Mary Lou Retton sticking her landing* Newts! Fo'ebbah!
Sam: NEWTS FOREVER!!! HURRAY.
Maisy: NEWTS FO'EBBAHHHHHH! HOOWAY!
Newts. Forever. Okay then.
VIRTUE REPORT: Still extremely virtuous, but my FIRST big VIRTUE CHALLENGE is tonight---supper club and eclair cake. HEY! By the way, if you are playing 20 Days of Virtue, and you, like my friend Mir, are BLOGGING IT, send me the URL! I will post a link to your virtue updates, and we can all follow each other's progress as our tad-butts morph into... SMALLER BUTTS! SMALLER BUTTS FO'EBBAH! HOOWAY!
Okay, today is a GCC day, when a guest author in my club of lady writers pops by. Let me say, I have 500 errands to run today, but I after I read Shanna Swendson's answers to my traditional 3 QUESTIONS, I added "go buy, ENCHANTED, INC" to my to do list. It's an AWESOME interview. She's funny and smart, and I want to read this book.
If you follow this blog, you know I read VERY eclectically. I would say maybe half of what I read is contemporary literary/commercial fiction by people living and writing right now: I like Michael Chabon and Haven Kimmel and Christina Schwarz and Cassandra King and Pat Conroy--that kinda thing. The other half of my reading breaks down like this: Maybe 20% of my reading is re-reading, classics by dead people I love and some contemporary authors I read over and over, 10% thrillers/mysteries (usually involving cops or lawyers), 10% sci-fi and fantasy, 5% Experimental fiction, and 5% Chick-Lit. I read 100 books a year, easy, so all told I probably buy/borrow/beg/steal/read 5 Chick-Lit books a year. This will be one of them. ANYWAY, here she is---bet she hooks you, too:
JJ: If you could have a magic power (just the one, mind) what would it be? Why?
SS: I thought about a number of things that would make my life a lot easier, but
I think the one that sounds most appealing to me would be to be able to
clean house magically. I'd love to be able to wave my wand or say the right
words and have all the dust disappear, everything rush back to where it
belongs, the floors to be clean, the dishes to wash themselves and the
clothes to clean themselves and put themselves away.
I'd love to live in a clean and organized house, but housework is so low on
my list of priorities that it never gets done. It would free up time and
energy if I could do it magically. (And, yes, I hear there are these things
called maids who will come to your house and clean it for you, but I'm the
weird kind of person who would feel compelled to clean the house before the
maid got there, so it wouldn't save me any time.)
JJ: Sci Fi and fantasy have historically been seen as something for
menfolks---You think about The Sword of Shannara, and you picture a
read-to-tatters copy of it sitting on the table of some gamer-geek guy
who spent his college years crouched in a basement, missing the Sigma
Poo Delta winter formal to roll 12 sided dice with his equally be-geeked
buddies, trying to make his saving throw against that dern balrog. (I
was probably down there with them, by the way, reading the back cover
and saying, "Hey, can I borrow this???") Chick-Lit, on the other hand,
is for what seems to be an entirely different species: women who almost
universally went to the winter formal, and in VERY nice shoes. So it
seems to me this hybrid you've written might have a very braod base of
appeal. You get the smarty-princess Chick-Lit readers, and you also hook
goobers like me, who play WarCraft and yet are still brought to tears at
the site of a pair of strappy Jimmy Choo's. Where do you fall on the
scale of Princess-to-Goober? I can only assume YOU must be some sort of
SS: I like to think of myself as what I call a stealth geek. I generally look
like a Chick Lit kind of gal, with my extensive shoe collection and cute
clothes, but I'm a geek at heart. I do own a read-to-tatters copy of The
Sword of Shannara. I spent three hours last week waiting in line just for a
good seat (I already had tickets) for a sneak preview screening of
"Serenity," the movie spin-off of the Firefly TV series. I've flown across
the country to meet in person with people I met on the Internet while
discussing TV shows. I've even gone in costume to a Renaissance festival.
I suspect in my teen years I was more an outright geek, with no Princess at
all in me. I didn't date. My only date in high school was a mutual mercy
date to the senior prom (I hung out with a bunch of guys who were planning a
big group excursion to the prom, and there was one guy in the group who had
asked several sophomore girls, only to be rejected, so the other guys
convinced him to ask me so the whole group could go together). I spent my
weekends at home reading and attempting to write. When I went to college, I
was in geek heaven because I found a bunch of people just like me! We all
crammed into someone's dorm room to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation (it
was brand-new then, and we were so excited to have new Star Trek!). We went
to the movies repeatedly to see The Princess Bride, and could quote all the
lines. We had Star Wars marathons. I was still just one of the guys, though.
I think I started the gradual transformation to external princess/internal
goober while I was in college. I was majoring in broadcast journalism and
interning at a TV station, and all the reporters were chic and stylish. I
knew I'd have to look like that to get a TV job. Then I went to work in
public relations, where you also have to look pretty stylish. I cringe at
what some of my earlier attempts at style must have looked like. It's taken
about fifteen years of subscribing to Glamour to get to the point where I
don't feel like a fraud when wearing stilettos and a pencil skirt, and I
doubt I'll ever be a true fashionista.
The downside is that now I sometimes feel like I don't fit in anywhere. I
went to a science fiction convention earlier this year, and I looked like I
was in the wrong place with my high-heeled boots and low-waisted boot-cut
jeans and stylish sweater. But I still feel like the geeky girl with braces
and glasses when I'm in other settings. That's the plight of the stealth
geek, the person who looks normal on the outside but who's still a geek at
Oh, and my social life hasn't really improved much since high school. It
seems like all the nice, geeky guys were taken when I wasn't looking, and if
I ever meet a guy I'm interested in, I freeze, turn red and can't manage to
form a coherent sentence, so I end up playing it totally cool and pointedly
ignoring him, which isn't all that effective for conveying my attraction.
I'm not sure that the fantasy readership and the chick lit readership are
really that far apart. The real chicks are too busy out there having a
social life to read all that much. It's the goober girls who are sitting at
home, reading, and they usually read widely. The chick-lit lifestyle is as
much a fantasy to a lot of us as anything involving elves. I do think I'll
have a larger male readership than most chick lit novels. I've had favorable
reviews in fantasy and science fiction publications, including one by a male
fantasy writer, Charles de Lint, who reviewed the book as a fantasy novel
but mentioned that maybe there was a hint of Bridget Jones to it. (Ha!
Little did he know that he was reading chick lit!)
JJ: You sold your first novel two years out of college? HOLY CATS. Well
done, you. And now you are writing for Ballentine, one of the mighty
dozen in NYC. Quite a few emerging writers read this blog, so can you
talk a little about the process of building a career the way you have
chosen to do it?
SS: I don't know that I'd recommend that anyone else build a career patterned
after mine. I've had so many fits and starts along the way. When I sold that
first novel, I had no clue what I was doing. I'm now almost afraid to look
at that book. I should have bought up every copy offered used on Amazon or
eBay before this book came out so no one could find it and read it after I
became a little better known. I was so naïve, I felt like all you had to do
was write a book and send it in, and someone would publish it. I sold five
books relatively easily, and I'm sure I'd find most of them terribly trite
and sappy if I tried to read them now.
So it came as a rude awakening when I hit a big, ugly brick wall. My editor
left New York to go back to Colorado and become a park ranger (true story).
The line I was writing for folded. Suddenly, I couldn't seem to sell
anything. I went eight years without selling a book before I broke through
again and sold Enchanted, Inc. to Ballantine.
I think maybe if I could go back in time and do things over again, I might
have waited to try to sell that first book. I'd have tried to learn more
about the craft and about the business before trying to break in so that I
could have had a more consistent career path.
On the other hand, that first phase of my career was a good training ground
for this phase. I was able to learn how the publishing process works ahead
of time. None of those earlier books were that widely available, so this is
kind of like a first book for me. I'm getting the first book experience, but
with some knowledge behind me. I know now just how difficult it is, just
what the dangers are. This "first" book is so much more meaningful to me
than that real first book was.
My main advice to emerging writers would be to write your book -- that book
no one else can write -- even if it seems to be crazy. I almost didn't write
Enchanted, Inc. because I didn't think there was a market for it. I got so
caught up in the market idea and writing what it seemed like people were
buying, and none of those books sold. It was when I wrote something for fun
that I broke through. You also have to be persistent if this is really what
you want to do. Even though it got very difficult during all those years
without a sale, when I was flinging projects out left and right and racking
up all those rejections, I couldn't make myself stop. I felt like the next
one could be THE one, so I kept trying. It eventually paid off.
I like her. And Now...
I started to say, A LIVE REPORT FROM THE TRENCHES, but....ew. Considering we are talking about BUTT SIZE, that was just, ugh. It came out FILTHY somehow. So I will instead say, HERE IS THE VIRTUE REPORT:
Day one SUCKED! SUCKED, I tell you. But I was SO virtuous---you better shield your eyes lest my holy light blind you with its sweaty, sugar-free glow. I have a HEADACHE from no sugar. AND 1 day = 5% done! HUZZAH! And I already got up and worked out and ate a meagre and nutritive breakfast. Also, I would already like a Key Lime Martini, rim the glass with BEAUTIFUL SUGAR, K Thanx. HEH. And it is 9:17.
My first BIG CHALLENGE will happen THURSDAY, when I have 5 other couples over for POTLUCK and my vicious friend Pam brings her WORLD FAMOUS ECLAIR CAKE.
How did you do, oh my little tribe of the virtuous? TELL!
DISCLAIMER...I am NOT DOCTOR PHIL, out to save the collective big butt of Amerrica. Who is this about? Me. What is this about? MY JEANS! But I do want to say to anyone who blew day one, SO WHAT. Do better on day two. You do NOT have to start over, there is no penalty, you STILL get to wear the shoes you already bought. Just shrug it off and say, SO WHAT! You are pretty, you are human, you are going to try to do better today! RIGHT??? RIGHT! SO! We soldier on!