December 31, 2006

Last Meme of the YEAR = Booky Goodness Meme

In January, we retire the BUNNY BLOG and return to FTK. I WILL do one more meme, however,
and YOU KNOW it has to be the BOOBS STUCK UNDER THE BED IN PARIS MEME sicne that is NOT a bunny blog sort of subject, so that's a winner, and if you perpetrated the PARIS BOOB meme, I need a snail addy. I have yet to get an ADDY on the ABC meme – if you posted that, then you WON! YAY YOU! Send me a snail mail. If your meme is below, then you win, too, and I need YOUR snail addy.

I am REALLY enjoying the ABC memes and al simultaneously REALLY irked that the links don’t appear as links…I think the best way to link is to put the URL of the link as your URL so your name will be the link? Irritating. Perhaps Mr. Husband can enable HTML in comments, but then we will be back getting 1 million links to pages where can get penis drugs from TRUSTWORTHY SOURCES. I like to get drugs from people who use U for you and can’t spell the word erection.

FAVORITE spam ad for penis drugs so far goes to this misplaced modifier – I almost checked the box and let it be posted. Almost. But then not. It said, “Your small penis can turn the pages to a new life. Trade for a big penis!” Which really, size aside, if you can open a book and turn pages with the dern thing, it seems pretty AGILE --- you might not want to trade it in. JUST SAYING.

HAPPY NEW YEARS! I am surprised no one posted a resolution meme. Mine are too boring to discuss, anyway. They are probably the same as 90% of yours, except I have one to talk Scott into another pet and to get to name it Evil Weevil, no matter what it is. I hope it is a beagle! Because then I KNOW it will devolve in Eegle Weegle.

This BOOK meme ROCKS and it came from here You should do it. LINK IF YOU DO this cracks me up.
1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
2. Book #1 -- first sentence
3. Book #2 -- last sentence on page fifty
4. Book #3 -- second sentence on page one hundred
5. Book #4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
6. Book #5 -- final sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph:
And here it is:

I think they saw her sometimes, but they never talked to me about it.
“Brendan is going to burn in hell for the rest of time,” she said quietly.
I can’t imagine living for anything other than women. So I just carried the dishes to the kitchen sink, not even turning on the light.
No use whining about it.

For the record, my five books were…
Life is a Strange Place
Field of Darkness
The Hard Way
The Evil B.B. Chow
Cinnamon Kiss

Big love and people, GET A TAXI.

Posted by joshilyn at 11:46 AM | Comments (18)

December 28, 2006

ABCs of Me(me)

A- Available or single? Um, what? Aren’t these the same thing? Or is that Naïve?

B- Best Friend? LYDIA who is in WISCONSIN and who is leaving me comments like they are E-mails. HI LYDIA I did not get the email from Dan’s thing.

C- Cake or Pie? Cake! Because cake is more like bread. Lordy, but I hate that Atkins guy.

D- Drink of Choice? Coffee, or if you meant a different kind of drink, dirty martini. Filthy, even.

E- Essential Item? Cat.

F- Favorite Color? Orange

G- Gummi Bears or Worms? WORMS! Preferably in CAKE!

H- Hometown? Powder Springs, Georgia

I- Indulgence? Dried Cherries dipped in dark chocolate, and if I can have a glass of Shiraz with them, EVEN BETTER.

J- January or February? February. It is the festival of Birthdays here. Scott, Sam and I are 25, 26, and 27, in that order. Poor Maisy was a month late---the 29th…of March.

K- Kids and names? Sam –n-Maisy Jane, but ya’ll knew that.

L- Life is incomplete without? Scott. He is the best one. And I got him. I SNIPED him, even. Would do it again.

M- Marriage Date? Okay see, I can’t remember. I am VERY bad with dates. It USED to be engraved on my wedding ring, but… Scott got me an anniversary band for our tenth and I took the old one off and …I dunno. Threw it in the sea? Pawned it? A goat came and ate it? Anyway it’s gone and I have not remembered my anniversary since I think it was in May or March. Something with an M.

N- Number of Siblings? 1 Brother, Bobby, and he is ALL KINDS OF THE AWESOME.

O- Oranges or apples? Oranges but only REAL oranges. REAL are the ones that you pull right off the tree in your grandparents mini-grove. The skin is hot from the Florida sunshine but the flesh inside is cool and sweet. Sometimes you roll it around in your hands until the inside is all JUICED and then your DeDaddy pokes a hole in it with his pocketknife and suck all the pulp and juice right out. Sometimes he gives you one of those SOFT old fashioned peppermint sugar sticks, and you put that in the hole and kinda use it like a strew. That is ALSO all kinds of THE AWESOME.

P- Phobias/Fears? ROACHES. Being packed into the middle of a crowd.

Q- Favorite Quote? "Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck. "--Iris Murdoch

R- Reason to Smile?


Butt Art

S- Season? Fall. First kissed Scott in WINTER, but it was Florida, so it SMELLED like fall. I have liked fall best since.

T- Tag three people! I tag you and the two others who came in behind you. Leave the whole thing in comments OR do it at your place and link.

U- Unknown Fact About Me? Sometimes I call Lydia or Karen or Mir and when they answer I burp. YES! I BURP! Then I say, THAT WAS FOR YOU. BECAUSE I LIKE YOU SO, SO MUCH! Once I forgot who I was calling and aaccidentally did it to my mother. Who wondered where she went wrong for the rest of the afternoon.

V- Vegetable you hate? I like almost all vegetables. But I don’t care for a LOT of fruits…I really only like cantaloupe, pears, SOME grapes and REAL oranges. Oh. I HATE raw tomatoes, UGH! UGH! THE CREEPY SMALL SEEDS SUSPENDED IN A GLOBULOUS WASTELAND OF JELLY! But aren’t they secretly a fruit?

W- Worst habit? Procrastination.

X- X-Rays you've had? Teeth…

Y- Your favorite food? Crab meat!

Z- Zodiac? FISH!

Posted by joshilyn at 11:12 AM | Comments (25)

December 27, 2006

Bunny Meme the 1nth

I have made up FOUR prize packages. If I end up doing five, I’ll make up a fifth. They are all in identical envelopes. I have no idea which has what at this point, so it will go like this: If you win,you send me a snail address (U.S. I hope to the Good Lord, as stupid customs forms demand to know the content…) and then I paste your address on a random one. Probably all get mailed at once, next year, when we are done Bunny Blogging and have a real life again. Which happens January second. So I am told.

RULES clarification: Scott put all the suggested Memes in a word doc for me. To WIN, you have to have either pasted a meme DIRECTLY OR a pasted a specific url to a specific meme. Multiple Urls to multiple specific Memes are fine. ONE url to a PAGE full of memes does not count unless you say which meme you mean ON that page. This was YOU sharing memes you actively LIKED…

If the below is YOUR MEME, send me a snail addy.

The name of your first friend?

Susan. I have a picture of half her face I took with my first camera. She is the first friend I RILLY RILLY remember. Her parents had a pool table and it had a cover and that was our fort. We played Barbie’s under there. She told me what French kissing was under there and I thought I had never heard anything more disgusting in my WHOLE life.

The last book you read?

Something Blue Only Emily Giffen book I hadn’t read yet. My husband gave me a signed copy of her latest---Baby Proof---for Christmas, and I liked it so much I had to go back and read this one.

The setting of your first date?

A school fair.
You can read about it here. It was…double plus ungood. I count it because he asked me to meet him there and because I don’t remember my first car date.

The last time you cried? Yesterday, 10 AM.

The first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?

I vaguely remember that I saw a Benji movie. I don’t remember seeing it, but I remember fighting with my brother because he though Benji was dumb and wanted to see Space and Explosions. I remember the sweet feeling of WINNING the fight and marching triumphantly to see the movie I had chosen. I don’t think I won an argument with my brother ever before that moment. And possibly not ever since…

The first movie I REALLY remember SITTING IN A THEATRE AND WATCHING was CONAN THE BARBARIAN. I was twelve or thirteen, and we bought tickets to some cheerful PG pap and then all SNUCK into big-fat-R-rated Conan with realistic violence and graphic-ish sex with a witch in a tent.

It was a pretty BOLD move for me. I was a GOOD kid, you know? I was not a sneak-er out-er or a drinker or a rebel. I sat through the first third absolutely certain I would vomit into my popcorn bucket the very moment I felt the cold clamping paw of the MOVIE POLICE on my shoulder, felt hot cop breath on my neck (but not the GOOD way) and heard a brassy, loud demand to see some ID. My parents would be called. I would be grounded until I was deaddeaddead.

Then the Sex with a Witch in a Tent scene came on and my jaw dropped so far I banged my chin on the floor and forgot the police. I still have a moderately gross crush on Der Arnold-as-Conan to this day.

The last book you gave as a gift?

I gave a signed first edition of Lee Smith’s On Agate Hill to my mother in law. It’s super great and Lee Smith is SUPER, SUPER great.

The first concert you ever attended?

Indigo Girls at the Pub in Little Five points.
I had to get a fake I.D. to get in. I got a fake I.D. specifically to get in.
By the way – last Concert I ever attended? Indigo Girls Benefit concert in Decatur a couple months ago at the Decatur Festival of the Book.

All concerts I went to in between these concerts? About 35 counting bar bands, and of that 35, 30 of them were the Indigo Girls and the other five I had friends playing.

The last band (or solo artist) you gave up on? (You tried to like ‘em … you just couldn’t.)

Mostly the bands that play the songs. I don’t really like songs. ‘Cept Indigo Girls.

Your first job (aside from babysitting)?

I WAS A PUPPETEER!!!! No, really! A PUPPETEER! I did marionette shows in the mall and parents could leave their kids at the puppet theatre for 45 minutes.

The last job you hated?

When I dropped out of the third college I went to---heh---I got a miserable office job as, like, some sort of paper slave thing who SORTED and FILED alone in a little room for 6 dollars an hour. After a year of paper-slaving, I went BACK to school and graduated with honors. Never made a grade lower than a B after that year. Never never never wanted that job again.

The name of your first celebrity crush? Leanard Nimoy.

The name of your last celebrity crush? Johnny Depp. AND DO NOT say my taste has improved because I STILL contend that SPOCK IS HOT.

The first book that made you think, “Man! No matter how well I write, I could never in a million years have written that book?”

The Secret History

Unabashedly loved it and still do. It was a turning point in a way because HAVING that feeling about a book made me realize I WANTED to try to write books. I was still writing plays back then.

Last words. Aside from name and dates, pick THREE words to go on your tombstone.

Don’t plan on having one. According to my will, I’m to be cremated.
I want to my children to know their mother was a good person, happy, who loved well and was loved, and I want all these things for them, too.

That’ll do, pig.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:25 AM | Comments (7)

December 20, 2006

SUPER! Also Great.

I woke up this morning with an enormous railroad spike in my head. I could feel the thick large-salad-plate sized base of it where it entered my eye socket, then feel the smaller, saucer-sized exit wound behind my left ear. I could even feel the long end-spike, driven down into the mattress, pinning me to the bed.

Then I thought, “Wait. I don’t have any nerve endings in the mattress? How can I feel that spike IN THE BED?” And I realized that reality and I, we have broken up. After 38 happy years together, I’ve been dumped. Me and reality, we aren’t seeing each other anymore.

I called my best friend Lydia and told her about the split.

Her: Oh no. How are you guys holding up?

Me: Well, Reality is going to be FINE. Reality, I suspect, has already moved on, given the pair of sneakers and the underpants I left at his house to the Salvation Army, lost my phone number, and taken up with some hard case corporate lawyer named Sheila who knows how to blow dry her own hair.

Lydia: And you?

Me: Me? Oh, I am Super! Great!

That was a lie. I think she may have suspected. My mental illness number just took a left at SATURN and is still going up. BUT, here on the Bunny Blog, let’s cheerfully wave at my number it as it passes overhead, looking like a shooting star, and then let’s ignore it. YAY!

Because of the railroad spike, I had to call Scott to bring me Motrin in bed before I could stand up. Because of the being PINNED, remember? Motrin is an AWESOME drug and I don’t understand why it doesn’t have its own parade with tickertape and floats and very quiet majorettes and marching bands with absolutely no drums. I managed to tilt my spiked head enough to dry swallow two of those blessed orange beauties.

Scott had to leave for work, so he said, “Do you want anything else before I go?”

Without thinking, I said, “A chest freezer and a membership in an organic meat club.”

It just came out.

He sat down on the bed and said, “Honey? Are you okay?

I said, “Me? I am SUPER! SUPER! GREAT!”

My pragmatic, solve-each-problem-as-it-comes beloved said, in a musing tone, “Well, okay then. But I don’t know how to find an organic meat club…”

I said, “Google knows.”

He looked at me with mingled horror and pity and said, “Baby. You really don’t want to type the words “Meat club” into Google. Trust me.”

I think he suspects me of lying, too.

MEANWHILE, I will STILL tell you about the Christmas Party thing tomorrow. It will be like Alice’s Jam, always tomorrow or perhaps yesterday, but never jam today.

ALSO meanwhile, I have a buncha folks I KNOW submitting memes, and I want to be fair, and I also don’t want to feel obligated to DO a specific Meme that doesn’t hit me right just because my MOM put it in, or NOT do a meme I would LOVE to do just because my best friend put it in and would feel like that wasn’t fair for her to win, as she knows me so well etc.

SO! Here is how it will work: I am not reading the comments. Scott is going to pull URLs and cut and paste memes into a document for me. Just the MEME. I will have no way of knowing who submitted it. That way I can do the memes based strictly on whatever meme takes my fractured fancy and HAVE A FUN TIME WITH THEM which really, at this point, I need a fun time. I need it. I need to not worry if I am hurting someone’s feelings by not doing the right meme which overnight somehow became this LOOMING WORRY, like “not picking the right meme” is this earth shattering TRUE possibility. I could RUIN LIVES if I pick the wrong meme. Um…yeah.

I’m sorry, what? How am I doing? Oh….Super great! I am Super. Super. Great.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:37 AM | Comments (26)

December 19, 2006

Meme-ing the Bunny Blog

OKAY! SO. I think we should talk about silly things for a week or two, and let the blog, for the rest of the month, at least, become an ABSOLUTE meringue. Fluffy, insubstantial, maybe even sweet. We will call it, THE BUNNY BLOG, and we will bounce over the hills and have puffy tails and look at meadows and butterflies and we won’t talk about our dead grandmothers. This is a sacred pact.

You know what would be good to have on The Bunny Blog? MINDLESS MEME FUN! Hit me up with some links to good memes in the comments OR HEY I KNOW! Let’s have a contest! We could name the contest “Invent or steal or link to a meme and win prizes” if we were very literal or we could call it Frank if we thought we were so super droll like that. But I think we should call it MEME-ing the Bunny Blog because it sounds fun.

Here’s how you play. In the comments, link to an existing Meme or describe a Meme you saw once or make a meme up that we can attempt to start RIGHT here on Faster Than---I mean, THE BUNNY BLOG. ANY MEME I elect to do before 2007 begins wins a random prize based on how much I like the meme and how much the commenters like how it turned out. There will be prizes like signed copies of my books, maybe a little fox doll if I can bear to part with any of my tiny remaining horde and if the meme is double super, maybe an audio book here or there, maybe a book I just finished reading and liked or maybe even some crap off my desk if the MEME is awful but I do it anyway. Whatever it is, I WILL send a prize to the first person who linked to the meme or the first person who made it up. This is good for up to FIVE memes.

You can put in MEMEs for a week (comments close after a week) and you can STILL win even after I have begun to do the first few MEMES.

If I am hooked on LESS than five Memes, then you are bad people and a penalty must be paid! What should it be---OH I KNOW! If you FAIL ME, I have to tell you the Boobs-Stuck-Under-the-Bed-in-Paris story that I swore I would never never never tell out loud anywhere. Or at least as long as my mother was living.

If I have to tell that story, then you will have failed me as human beings and Meme-ists. Really. And then YOU, ALL OF YOU, those who failed by not entering and those who entered Memes that weren’t BUN-TACULAR enough for the bunny blog, have to tell your most embarrassing story ever in the comments and the MOST BUTT CLENCHINGLY HUMILIATING ONE wins a signed copy of Laura Florand’s DELIGHTFUL thing they are calling a novel but dude it is so a MEMOIR… Blame it on Paris

Because I REALLY like that book, and because, you know, it seems appropriate. To blame anything we possibly can on Paris considering the boobs and the bed and all.


Tomorrow, while the Memes build, I will tell you about the Southern America Corporate Christmas Party Murder Mystery Game, alternately titled, WHY IT IS NECESARY TO HAVE AN OPEN BAR AT THESE THINGS.

Oh. Yes. I. Will.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:07 AM | Comments (44)

December 14, 2006

Jiggetty Jog

I’m home again, home again.
The funeral was good.
Things were done right.
I am tired.
I like simple, declarative sentences.

On the way in, we passed the White Oak Grocery Store. It’s about twice the size of a 7-11 or Tom Thumb, and less than half the size of a regular grocery. You can get flour there and motor oil and when I was a kid the cold drinks were in ice barrels as their only refrigerated case was full of milk and bologna.

The White Oak has a cluttered porch and the paint is peeling in a particular way that tickles my spine with deja vu. I can’t explain it, but the building seems organic at this point. It is part of the landscape. It’s been standing in Northern Alabama for decades, and I bet if the hand of God had come down and grabbed the White Oak and lifted it straight up, I would have seen that it had grown a tap root, stretching miles down, punching through the dirt and then the slate and granite, so deep the fleshy tip would have been singed by magma.

When I was little, my brother and I (and whatever cousins were available) would pile into the bed of Uncle Bobby’s truck and go to the White Oak, riding like a pack of happy dogs, unstrapped and unsafe and uncaring. Uncle Bobby bought us pop rocks and RC cola. And fireworks, which were illegal in Florida.

Back then my brother and I collected Smurf figurines, and we would take them all to Alabama and get a METRIC TON of Black Cats bombs and bottle rockets and have Smurf wars. The BIG bottle rockets had good thrust, and we could bind prisoner Smurfs to the pole and shoot them up into the sky and explode them and watch them drop flaming back down to earth. Then we’d go out and find the bodies.

Every girl at school collected Smurfs---it was a big thing for a few years --- but I was the only one whose Smurfs all had melty looking burn scars and blackened limbs, their eyes scorched off their faces.

I haven’t seen or thought of the White Oak in twenty years, maybe more.
I had completely forgotten it existed.
Imagine that as a child you dreamed a tap dancing lobster in fishnets and a top hat. And then one day, when you were in your thirties, when you had FORGETTON the dream, you drove down the road, and there was your dream lobster standing on the curb beside a beer bottle, just hoofing away.
“Hello my honey, hello my baby, hello my ragtime gaaaaaaaaaalll..”

Seeing the White Oak was like that. It felt exactly that improbable. I could taste the faint, sweet ichor of a banana moon pie on the back of my tongue, like the ghost of moon pies past was stroking my gag reflex.

It occurred to me again that I have never yet written a novel where I DIDN’T murder someone in Alabama. I think of Jim Beverly, haunting the Kudzu. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is set in the Florida panhandle, but I cross the state line before I let anyone shoot anyone else. You can’t just go around SHOOTING people you know. Not in FLORIDA. Even in Between, Georgia, there’s a minor character who killed a man in a bar fight gone bad that took place in the state that calls itself The Beautiful.

Oh and it is beautiful, too. It is, it is. I spend my Alabama days now in Birmingham and Montgomery and Mobile---I had forgotten North Alabama, forgotten the shape of its horizons, the blankness of its deep greens and browns and grays, and the flat, exact way the buildings all look slightly abandoned to the landscape.

They buried my grandmother in rich dirt, thick and gummy with clay. Good Alabama dirt, deep sienna brown and dotted with white stones. I watched the big machines whir and jerk, spooning it over her, covering her until she was safe, until she was blanketed and gone.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:42 AM | Comments (21)

December 11, 2006

99 Things About my Mother and 1 Thing about her Mother.

1) My mother is Irish to her marrows.

2) She has the dark red hair and the green eyes to prove it.

3) And the temper.

4) I didn’t get the thick, curly auburn tresses (dernit), but she gave me the green eyes, same size, same shape.

5) When I look in the mirror, her eyes look back at me.

6) She gave me the temper, too. Oh, yeah. Believe it.

7) She grew up in Leighton, Alabama which is just north of absolutely nowhere…

8) Leighton is the town I thought of when I was making Possett, the town where gods in Alabama, a host of short stories, another short, early unpublished novel of mine, and several of my plays are set.

9) When my mother was growing up in Leighton and when I was a girl, visiting it with her, it REALLY had those three tin gardening sheds sitting side by side, with a long board nailed over their doors, and on the board someone had hand-painted the words “Fire Department, Police Department, Jail.”

10) They had a general store with an ice cream and hamburger counter in the back. My mother used to get me chocolate malteds there.

11) My mother’s life seeps into my fiction more than any other life.

12) Maybe even more than my own.

13) Genny and Stacia, the twins in Between, Georgia, for example, probably came out of my mother’s stories of a pair of deaf ladies who lived in Leighton. They were twins, and they owned a candy shop.

14) My mother’s daddy worked land that was owned by the kind of people who could afford candy like that.

15) The candy store sold fancy chocolates in ribboned boxes, but they also had a glass display counter full of what my mother called “fudges and confections.”

16) When I was a little kid, I had no idea what a confection was. I thought it sounded like some sort of fancy hat, and that’s what I pictured: My mother as a small red haired girl, staring through glass at trays of fudges sitting between fancy hats with long plumes trailing into the chocolate.

17) She still uses that word for candies, but now I think now it means hand-dipped creams. I am not positive, though.

18) My mother and her family lived outside of town in a little white house that looks a LOT like the house Arlene Fleet grows up in with her Aunt Florence and Uncle Bruster in gods in Alabama.

19) There was a rich man in town named Uncle Doc. That’s what everyone called him, anyway, and my Grandmother had sharecropped his land all through her girlhood. EVERY TIME they passed Uncle Doc’s fine house, my grandmother would say to my mother, “See that fancy house? That should be ours. It was built on the bones of my back. See those pecan trees? Those are rightful mine. I bent down to grub the nuts up off that dirt, every year. See that cotton field? I picked ten thousand bags of cotton, four hundred pounds each, and dragged them my own self to store it safe in my house. It filled my house up to the roof, and I slept outside in the grass all summer. That field is rightful mine, too.”

20) If she had a little extra money, my grandmother would take my mother into the fancy candy store with its fudges and confections.

21) My mother and her older sister could each choose one thing from the display case. One of the twins would pick the single piece of candy up with tongs and place it in a brown paper sack, like a lunch bag in miniature.

22) My mother had never seen little bags like that. She saved them long after the piece of candy was gone.

23) My mother was and is a raving beauty. Really.

24) She was homecoming queen.

25) There were two sororities in her high school. One was for the rich popular girls, and one was for good, sweet girls who made good grades, but who came from poor families.

26) My mother was in the SECOND sorority.

27) Girls from the FIRST sorority were always prom and homecoming queen.

28) My mother won anyway.

29) The being a raving beauty part helped.

30) It ALSO helped that the captain of the football team was her steady fella.

31) When she was 19, she married that same guy, and I know him as “Daddy.”

32) They got married so young because her father wouldn’t hardly let them out of his sight.

33) They would sit out on the porch swing talking with the lights blazing, and my grandfather would stand at the window and stare out them.

34) At nine o’clock (or whenever he wanted my daddy to leave) he would lean out of the door and say “Let’s all play mouse. Everyone go to their own little house.”

35) When my brother Bobby and I were little, after church and lunch on Sundays, my mother would say, “Let’s all play mouse. Everyone go to their own little house.”

36) Then my brother and I would have to go be quiet and play and read or nap in our rooms at one end of the house while our parents, holding hands, would disappear down the hall to their own room.

37) At the time, Bobby and I didn’t get why Daddy thought that mouse thing was so funny, but he’d grin and grin every time Mom said it.

38) My mother and I spent my entire young womanhood locked in a huge battle of wills----matching Irish tempers, remember.

39) If ANYONE ELSE went to war with me, my mother would turn on a dime and stand beside me and be my best ally and defender and slaughter them and lay waste to all their cattle and slay their families lo unto the seventh generation.

40) Then she and I would fight some more.

41) We don’t fight now.

42) I finally figured out it was dumb to fight with someone who is so constantly on my side.

43) Remember when I told you
100 things about my father ? And I said that it must have been hard growing up as his son, trying to live up to the kind of phenomenal human being my dad is, but that it was supremely easy to be his daughter? Well, it was hard being my mother’s daughter.

44) She’s intimidatingly beautiful and elegant and understands accessories.

45) She is naturally gifted at everything girls are supposed to be good at—perfect wife, devoted mother, capable of organizing and running a busy household on a shoe string budget with grace and aplomb, while I was (and still am) a wild-eyed scabby disorganized spastic tomboy who, at 38, still doesn’t know how to blow dry her own hair.

46) My brother says it was supremely easy to be her son.

47) My recipes may still be on crumpled scraps of paper scattered in fifteen different places all over the house, so THAT was a lost cause, but she did manage to teach me how to be a good mother.

48) It took me a long time to realize I didn’t have to be like her for her to value the weird things I am good at, and for her to think I am the best daughter.

49) When I fought her, I was fighting myself, because I was trying to be her and mucking it all up.

50) One day, I quit trying to be her and started being me instead.

51) I was terribly afraid that she would see me as a failure.

52) Instead, she said to me, “Joshilyn! I think you are finally growing up!”

53) She’s proud of me.

54) She’s proud of my work, although SECRETLY she wishes I hadn’t used the F word QUITE so many times in gods in Alabama.

55) She is, no really, the best grandmother on the planet. Bar none.

56) She will play LUCKY DUCKS for AN HOUR after I would have dug out my eardrums with forks to escape the incessant mechanical quacking.

57) She is capable of ACTUALLY listening to Sam talk about Pokemon cards instead of just saying MMM-HMM and YOU DON’T SAY whenever the child has to pause to breathe.

58) On one side of Mother’s family tree are the Clardys.

59) It’s hard to find a living Clardy. The ones who didn’t die because their livers leapt out of their throats and squirmed away to escape the constant barrage of homemade "licker" all shot each other.

60) My grandfather was a Baptist preacher and so my mother was not allowed to go dances because dancing was a sin.

61) Movies were also sins, and so she never saw them growing up.

62) She still prefers a book, and constantly read to me and my brother when we were growing up. She also let us go to movies.

63) When she got to high school my grandfather would forbid her from going to dances with my dad, and then my grandmother would make her a dress in secret and use hidden stores of the money she made sewing to buy my mother department store white gloves so she could go.

64) My mother has what she calls a “critical eye.”

65) She can SEE when things are wrong in any physical space.

66) Her home is called BJ’s Knob because it sits up on a hill.

67) And because she names things like homes and cars.

68) She’ll put out little things on a table: An antique crystal candy dish, a small oil painting on a stand, a dried clay ash tray that was clearly made by either a 3 year old or a dyspeptic, blind weasel, and they will somehow all work together and be perfect, colors and shapes balanced and harmonious.

69) I suspect she is magical.

70) Her critical eye is her blessing and her curse.

71) It’s a curse because she is driven insane by imperfections no one else can see.

72) While BJ’s Knob was being built she looked at the skeletal frame and said, “That wall is in the wrong place.”

73) My dad poo poo’d her and the architect poo poo’d her and the builder poo poo’d her and later, after it was built, she got a tape measure and the plans, and sure enough, the wall was six inches off.

74) She could see the six inches missing from the unbuilt room, when not even the builders could.

75) It is her blessing because she can take leftovers and scraps and hand me downs and make a place beautiful and welcoming. She can do this in the kitchen, too, just go into a wasteland of a fridge with nothing in it and find an old packet of frozen chicken and some olives and come out 40 minutes later with a beautiful meal.

76) Every place I have ever lived, any room that looks like a HOME and not a just room with crap in it, she has done for me.

77) She did my peaceful crocodile green office with its spots-n-stripes mod-pod window treatments where I am sitting to type this.

78) She based the room on one of my most valued possessions --- a signed, limited edition Rene Van Den Neste.

79) It’s a surreal wasteland with a melting cat and a fat unmelted cat sailing across the green sky on a space-slash-flying-pirate ship with breasts. She is not crazy about it.

80) She made the room be a beautiful place that sets off my painting’s colors and draws the eye to it because she knows I am crazy about it.

81) Mom was supposed to be a boy. The family already had a much adored girlchild they had named Ruby Jewel.

82) Mom was called Emmett O’Neil Grissom in the womb, and when she came out an obvious non-Emmett, no one had a name ready for her.

83) Eventually the county doctor had to send his paperwork in, so he wrote, “No Name Baby Girl Grissom,” on the birth certificate.

84) My mother did not know she hadn’t ever been named until she needed a passport to go overseas (Daddy was army) and had to order a copy of her birth certificate.

85) She asked her parents how she came to be called Betty Joyce, and her mother told her that one day, when she was several months old, Aunt Nadine passed through the room and said, “If I’se you, I’d call that baby Betty.”

86) It stuck.

87) I loved it when that movie Clueless came out and coined the phrase “Bettty” to mean “beautiful girl.”

88) Ruby Jewel and Betty Joyce both thought they had country girl names, and so they where allowed to name their MUCH younger sister.

89) They named her Susan Regina because they thought it sounded sophisticated.

90) My mother named me Joshilyn Elizabeth.

91) To this day NO ONE but my mother knows the reason for the silent H in the middle of my name. When people ask me at signings why my name is SPELLED Josh-a-lyn but pronounced Joss-a-lyn, I have a host of answers.

92) Sometimes I say, “I don’t know. You want my mother’s phone number? Maybe she will tell you. She has never told me.”

93) Sometimes I say, “My mother is from rural Alabama. They spell stuff funny down that way.”

94) Sometimes I say, “My mother says she saw it written like that in an old family Bible diary or journal or something?” but I have never personally seen such a book.

95) She also used to tell me it was the Old English version of the French Name Jocelyn, but I studied Medieval theatre in grad school, and the old English version is actually Joslin, which was a boy’s name.

96) Betty is short for Elizabeth.

97) Joshilyn sounds like a longer, more elegant version of Joyce.

98) As a child, I didn’t see the way our names are connected or realize that Joshilyn Elizabeth grew out of Betty Joyce, but now I see they are so so close, they are practically the same thing.

99) That’s a metaphor.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

1) My grandmother had a long, full life. She was 84 or possibly 86---no one is sure, as she, like many southern women, lied about her age. She did a lot of things in that time, good things and bad. She experienced horrible sorrows and had beautiful triumphant moments and lived a host of plain brown forgotten days where she did her work and slept and rose to do it again all the same. But of all the things she ever did, good, bad, or indifferent, the best thing, the very best thing, was to make and raise the extraordinary woman who became my mother.

Sara Lee Grissom 192? – December 9, 2006.
Godspeed, Gramma.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:34 AM | Comments (28)

December 8, 2006

3 Questions: Lola Douglas

Guys – I have to LEAP into my car and head to Alabama nowrightnow, so I am turning the blog over to Lola Douglas today. I wish MY name was Lola.

She writes a YA series about Morgan Carter, a has-been-at-16 starlet whose mom gives her a make-under and moves her to the Midwest to live a normal life after a near overdose outside LA's Viper Room.

True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet is the first book in the series, and this November, the sequel,
More Confessions was released.


Kirkus says, The continuing travails of 17-year-old Morgan … come across with delightful zing, yet address serious subjects. … Douglas manages the lightest of styles while delving into deep issues for adolescents. Fun, breezy entertainment with thoughtful undertones.

Heeeeeeere’s LOLA!

JJ: What writers influenced your work and how and why?

LD: I’m not sure I’d even know where to begin! I definitely think my writing voice first emerged from reading countless teen magazines, watching tons of television, and devouring book after book. This would be when I was a teen myself. Then, over the years, I got into writing scripts and screenplays, and of course I journaled (definitely prep for the Starlet series!). I think I’m kind of a sponge – I’m influenced by just about everyone and everything. If I had to pin-point a single author, though, I’d definitely say reading Meg Cabot inspired me to want to write a diary-format book.

JJ: How did you research the life of a starlet? Books and Google?

LD: I’ve had a subscription to Entertainment Weekly since its inception, and before that I used to read Premiere. My fascination with Drew Barrymore is well documented, and of course I can’t get enough A&E Biography, Inside the Actor’s Studio, and E! True Hollywood Story. Google comes in handy when I’m looking for specific details, like what kind of sundresses Marc Jacobs did in the summer 2003 collection, but a lot of it is … well … made up. I mean, I’d worked in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so a lot of that came from my time there. But seriously? Even if I’d had Lindsay Lohan whispering in my ear, I’d still have to make stuff up. Because that’s what being a novelist is: making stuff up.

JJ:Tell us about your fascination with Drew Barrymore.

LD: It probably started with ET, which I saw in the theater something like seven times. I even had an ET-themed birthday skating party in third grade. But there's this movie she did in the 1980s - IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES - about a kid who gets caught between the divorce of her super selfish parents. She decides, in turn, to divorce them. I really connected with that movie. To this day, I still bawl like a baby over the closing credits.

Anyway, Miss Barrymore and I are around the same age, so when she went into rehab as a teen, it affected me in a personal way. Kind of how I felt when River Phoenix OD'd my freshman year in college. I read Drew's autobiography, LITTLE GIRL LOST, when it came out, and discovered we had a lot in common in terms of our relationships to our real-life parents. I've always felt like she's kind of a spirit sister. Watching her career evolve - her comeback via playing Amy Fisher and starring in POISON IVY to forming her own production company and climbing her way to the top of the date movie ladder - there's just something so inspiring about how she keeps reinventing herself, and how she's such a survivor.


Posted by joshilyn at 8:47 AM | Comments (5)

December 7, 2006

Proof of Life at 80 Proof

Scott is out of town. I am now on day ten of Scottlessness, and, you know, it seems like I should now be MORE than ready for my special jacket with the long long sleeves that go ALL the way around. Twice. And the type of fat crayons that can easily be held between the toes. BUT…I think I am doing pretty dern good. For me.

I shall now present to you the evidence, and you shall decide my fate. Numbers represent all the circumstantial evidences that prove, on some level, I am completely losing my crap and should be darted from a safe distance and put somewhere quiet with the soft walls. LETTERS will be bits of evidence from the defense, offered up to show that I am fundamentally maintaining at least a small PACKET of crap and should therefore be given a an ENORMOUS adult beverage (with OLIVES) as an attaboy:

1) At the Atlanta Press Club cocktail party thing last night, signing books, my invite said something like FESTIVE HOLIDAY COCKTAIL WEAR which to me means “break out the ‘scrutiating shoes and the universe’s shortest skirt.” Which I did. And I wore these objects with a satin and knit keyhole top in a color so scarlet Hester Prynn probably would have cut it up to make herself a fancy Christmas A. BUT! When I got there, everyone was in suits. With sedate blue ties. Even the girls. I looked like a hooker and pretty much either kept my coat on or sat behind my signing table, hunching down to hide as MUCH of me as humanly possible and winding my lower half in the table cloth.

A) Even so, I did NOT sneak over to the UPS party in the next room and hit their OPEN (not cash, mind you, OPEN) martini bar that featured PEPPERMINT MUDSLIDES in a martini glass rimmed with little minty candy crystals that my new BFF Connie assured me had been soaked in delicious mescaline. EVEN THOUGH I WANTED TO and I feel like just ONE of those would have made me forget my inappropriate attire. TWO and I might have forgotten my NAME.

2) I met a snarky and delightful creature named Connie (featured above) and after fifteen minutes of conversation I told her she was new BFF. Then I signed her book in pink gel pen with a little HEART over the i in Connie. OH YES I DID.

B) SHE gave me the pink gel pen and said use it to sign, so, dude, I can really only be blamed for the heart.

C) I went to Publix and, with the nutritional requirements of my growing children in mind, I righteously selected a one pound packet of 92% lean ground sirloin, organic, from cattle raised with NO antibiotics or hormones, especially that human growth hormone which I am CONVINCED is the reason 2/3rds of the girls in my son’s third grade class needed FREAKIN BRAS last year.

3) In a weepy fit of MUST FEED THEM SOME DAMN THING BEFORE PARTY exhaustion and desperation I combined the above with a box of Hamburger Helper Cheesy Texas Noodle Thrill. I think it had been in the back of my pantry since 1993.

4) I got CCORNERED by an AWFUL and self important person who published her book with a TRULY horrible publisher that is pretty much a vanity press.

DIGRESSION: There are HORRID "publishing houses" out there. This one pays a DOLLA|R for your book you spent 18 months writing and screws its “clients” on rights while using language that makes the writers THINK they are being “traditionally” as opposed to “self” published. Their authors get rooked six ways from Sunday. And here let me say, if you EVER decide to self publish, then for the love of Pete, use LULU or some other legit business that is up front about what you get from them and who does NOT touch, take, borrow, steal, look at, or even lick the very tippy corner of your rights.

4 Con't) Anyway, she came up and spoke to me SO PATRONIZINGLY. She picked up my book, glanced at it, said it “looked cute,” and then went into a pitch about why reading her “SERIOUS” book would probably make me a better person and a better writer, and I sat there and let her. Just sat there. Let her earnestly explain that New York publishers (um, like MY publisher for example) only spew out reams of dumbed down stuff that panders to the masses while things with true literary value fall through the cracks.

WHY! WHY! WHY did I not give her the hairy eyeball and say, deadpan, “That’s TERRIBLE! I had better alert John Updike. He is going to be DEVASTATED.”

WHY????? Nope, I sat there ate her spoonful of poo and smiled and said NADA.

D) OKAY. So I doormatted until she went away on her own recognizance. ON THE OTHER HAND! I did NOT go leaping over my table and rip out her throat with my teeth and then prance around gargling her blood and shrieking NOW WHO IS CUTE??? HMMM, LITTLE SORRY PUDDING? NOW WHO IS CUTE?

Which, with Scott gone – DAY TEN WE ARE ON --- I SERIOUSLY think I deserve maybe FOUR sanity points for that. So…padded room or olives. Ya’lls call.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:41 AM | Comments (21)

December 5, 2006

And you CAME and you GAVE! Without TAKING!

OKAY --- your comments on the BAD SONGS kept me giggling like a loon and made me remember things best forgot, but that are going to make a great and terrible CD. THANK YOU.

I also spontaneously, or perhaps because I was rubbing elbows with YOUR horrifying tune-memories, remembered a TRULY DEBILITATING MISERY of a song, but I can’t remember the name. I remember however, ALL THE LYRICS! ALL! I think I could sing it beginning to end without ever faltering, and if I wondered why I failed utterly at learning Japanese, it’s because I had already stuffed my BRAINS full of song lyrics in the 80’s. You never get those cleared out, apparently.

I could do the whole thing, betcha, but there is a SPEECH in the middle---the singer stops and natters in a tearful heartfelt tone about babies and make up sex in the marital bed, and I couldn’t say the speech, I am sad to report. The first verse went VERY like this

Hey LADY, yeah, YOU, lady,
looking at yer life, you’re a DISCONTENTED MUHHHHHther.
And a Regimented wife, I’ve no doubt you DREAM about,
the THINGS! You’ll never do,
but I wish someone, hadda talk with me, like I’m GONNA talk to you…

PATRONIZING MUCH? Anyway, then it goes on as this woman who has apparently whored her way across both Europe and Asia gives a suburban mother the benefit of her venereal diseased wisdom.

I think I remember the lyrics because it was a PERFECT “My Heart is a Fart” car game song. If you’ve read gods in Alabama, you’ll know My Heart is a Fart is a game I made up that I protagonist, Arlene Fleet, plays as she and her boyfriend drive down from Chicago to rural Alabama. I’ve been playing it for YEARS and it beats the STUFFING out of the Alphabet Billboard game.

You find a station playing slow country songs or easy listening ballads.. Then you chat til a good song for it comes on. You want it to be slow moving and have either AABB or ABAB rhyme scheme, and if you are FAMILIAR with the song its MUCH easier than trying to do it cold. Cold Heart Farting is for well practiced experts. Try it with something you KNOW first. You listen carefully to a line, and then you interrupt and sing OVER the next line. Your replacement line should
1) rhyme
2) make sense coming after the line you just heard
3) be WILDLY scatological
4) or dirty
5) or both.

For example, I remember very clearly in the song above a line that went

Oh, I've been to Niece
and the Isle of Greece
where I sipped champagne on a yacht
I've moved like Harlow
to Monte Carlo and showed them what I got

I remember replacing the second half with

Moved like a harlot
With Bart and Carl, and bit
Johnny on his spot

Trust me when I say this was a MILD replacement. It degenerated from there, but man do the drives go fast…remember this game as you head home for the holidays. Because nothing says "Christmas" like 26 consecutive fart jokes spicing up the Harry Connick Jr. Marathon on EZ FM.

We haven't played in a long time---since Sam started understanding ENGLISH, actually. BUT NOW we got an AWESOME DVD player that you can hook up in the car for long trips and it comes with headphones for the kids. I heart, and with both kids ear-challenged and watching MADAGASCA|R, we may have to break out the old Heart is a Fart scoreboard and have a go for old times sake...

You knwo what's awful? I think I secretly just LOVED that song, game or no game. Yarg!

Posted by joshilyn at 5:04 PM | Comments (16)

December 4, 2006

What Elephant? In Fact, What Room?

I am about to link to something that makes me happy. WARNING! Once you hear this something, you can’t ever UNhear it. You will have heard it FOREVER. You may even find yourself singing it at volume 11 (that’s one LOUDAH than ten) at the Kroger while feeling up unsatisfactory avocados seeking the one that has a little GIVE to it, and not finding it and having to buy one that’s pretty much a ROCK and stick it in a paper bag and hope that by tomorrow it will be delightful.


Speaking of SONGS and things that make me happy and emphatically not speaking about elephants, my friend Karen Abbott and I have agreed to exchange mixed CDs for Christmas. We are supposed to give each other songs that have some sort of PERSONAL meaning or history to them, but MOST importantly, these should be songs that are in some way...humiliating.

Like, just for an example, remember Mr Misters TAKE THESE BROKEN WINGS. You would think, if I had ever liked that song, just LIKING IT would be embarrassing enough, right? It’s unendurably milksoppish, even when put in the context of the 80’s where a little sop of a milk came standard with every ballad. BUT liking 80’s pop in the hard light of the grunge-fest that followed is not simply NOT embarrassing enough to make the Christmas CD cut. It has to be PERSONAL.

In order for TAKE THESE BROKEN WINGS to get on, I would have to be protesting that NOT ONLY did I never like it, but I ALSO never played it 32 times in a row while practicing kissing with the long tall cool drink of bedpost I had cleverly named Rick Springfield. (OH, RICK!!! YOUR LIPS ARE SO FIRM AND MANLY!) OR worse, the bedpost that sat OPPOSITE of Rick, which I liked to think of as….no, I am not kidding here…Conan the Barbarian. (OH! CONAN! YOUR ENORMOUS CLEAVING AXE IS SO FIRM AND MANLY!) Hey, I had diverse taste in men.

But I will not be putting Mr Mister on the CD. Because even though I DID have boy names for my bedposts and practiced kissing on them relentlessly, and even though my memory insists that I did, indeed, play and replay and replayplayplay Mr Mister while this Girl-Bedpost snog fest went on, it never happened. Google---an altogether more reliable creature than my memory---tells me Take These Broken Wings charted in 86. By then, I had traded my canopied four poster for a brass day bed with a trundle and had graduated to kissing REAL boys. Yes. On their actual lips.

And when I think about it --- I didn’t actually LIKE that song even in 86. Truly. By 86 I was driving a little VW rabbit named Oswald and blasting MOTHERS LITTLE HELPER which I called "Vintage Stones" and you know, THAT just made the cut --- talking about it---I remembered that. YAY --- SO that's one.

The problem I am running into is that even then, at the tender age of all my best humiliations (I had a MULLET, for the love of Pete, a MULLET!!!!) I did not like songs or notice songs or clearly remember songs and associate them with key moments. I remember PERFCECTLY what the air smelled like the last night of yellow river survival camp when I was thirteen or so and the boy I had liked for TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS finally came over and asked me to dance and then kissed me while we revolved in a slow and lazy circle to….some song or another, who knows. SOMETHING was no doubt playing, as we were AT A DANCE.

Music was and remains so much background noise. I don’t think I ever actually LIKED a band, like, actively cared enough to SIT and listen to them until I discovered the Indigo Girls in 1986 or 7, and there simply isn’t anything embarrassing about that. In fact, it’s something I am REALLY proud of --- when I FINALLY found a band I liked, HEY! By complete accident! They turn out to be fantastic musicians! Wheee! I haven’t ever LOVED a band like that again, not ever, and they are the only folks I have spent money to see play LIVE. I don’t think I've ever been to another concert…although there are now songs whose LYRICS get to me in intense ways and I kinda dig SKA.

BAH – I don’t even remember the songs that were OUT AND POPULAR very well. I remember TAINTED LOVE and I think I liked it. I know I liked DURAN DURAN but that was more about tight British man pants and big hair. OH! I remember some song that said someone was going to paint something cherry red. I liked that. GAH It's hopeless.

HELP ME REMEMBER SOME SONGS. Think humiliating. What songs would you put on your CD? Because if you can’t maybe SPARK off some sort of memory chain with your own humiliating song-likings, Karen is going to end up getting a CD that does a 39 minute loop of THE BAG OF CRABS song and ends with "Vintage Stones." Because nothing says Christmas like a big ‘ol bag of crabs and some sedatives, I always say.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:19 AM | Comments (41)