November 30, 2008

Mouse Math

Right as we were leaving for Thanksgiving, I noticed that Cosy Mole Mouse was looking…peaked. Off. Not herself. She yawped her mouth at me twice through the glass---WIDE open, closed, WIDE open, closed. Then she died. BOOM, very fast. We gave her a standard gerbil funeral which involves a Target bag, powdered lime, and very little ceremony, but this one kinda got to me.

I KNOW, I know, they are Gerbils---they are ANCIENT gerbils, we had them longer than their fair share of months---but she was my favorite. Cosy was the sweetest of our mice ladies, the one who scrambled most willingly up into my palm, the most fetching to look upon….I LIKED her. A lot. She was also the mouse-lady who almost caused an international incident that I thought was going to end in Cosy being kidnapped by be-parka’d Swedish gerbil Ninjas, remember?

Alas. I’m sad she is gone. I liked her so.

Funeral over, car loaded, I became worried about the Neighbor Kid pet-sitting services not NOTICING if one or another of the remaining gerbils became PRETERNATUTRALLY STILL, and I didn’t want to come home to find the smell of a four days dead sister had driven the remaining gerbil INSANE. I rousted Alice and That Cross Dressing Poet Tennyson from their nested pile of daytime sleepiness in the Gerbil Cabin. I just wanted to LOOK at them and make sure neither was mouth-yawping and readying to join Cosy in the great Gerbil beyond. That’s when I noticed Tenny’s back legs had stopped working.

Front end? A perfectly good working gerbil.
Back end? Not so much.
I put the mice in the car and drove them to the vet when we dropped the dog off to be boarded. I was going to have them euthanize That Cross Dressing Poet Tennyson (I told the vet's assistant on the phoen that her name was "Tenny" Because it seemed easier) and take Alice with us so she wouldn’t be alone.

SO. I get inside the vet and drop the dog off, then I go back out to the car and get Tenny, who is flopped over happily chewing cardboard with her back legs stretched out behind her. As I watch she decides she wants a drink, so she paddles her front feet and slithers and drags her useless little hind feet over and leans up and drinks. SO the front end is REALLY working JUST fine.

I pick her up and discover her INNARDS are working because she immediately POOPS on me. SO. I take her in and she is looking around all interested and face washing and she eats a sunflower seed right out of my hands, and the vets assistant says, "Here, put her in this pet carrier" It is a HUGE cardboard box--- like cat size. "Because the vet is not here and he will do it when he gets back from lunch."

I look at her face washing and poking her nose about cheerfully, and I KNOW if I put her in that cardboard box and leave she is going to be scared and have no back legs and no sister and WHO KNOWS how long they will leave her there before someone remembers and kills her.

SO. I say, NEVERMIND! And I leave. Now both mice ladies weathered Thanksgiving and are home with me again. Alice is her usual self, by which I mean, spastic and a bit of a butt munch with bitey tendencies and escapey tendencies so of COURSE she is the magic gerbil who will live to be TEN. That Cross Dressing Poet Tennyson is dragging herself around, chewing cardboard, eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, and except for the I HAVE NO WORKING BACK LEGS thing seems quite cheerful. Every night she come sout at the usual time and nibbles the honey log and watches Alice run and run and run and runrunrun and run in the wheel, then they go curl up and sleep together after Tennyson drags herself back to the cabin.

When Cosy died, it was OBVIOUS Cosy was having some sort of awful THING happen in her body. She bowed and spasmed, and she looked... UNHAPPY and I was glad she died quickly. I think she must have stroked out or had a heart attack it was this fast. miserable thing. And when Snickers got sick and died, it was obvious that last day that Snickers felt CRAPPY. There is NO indication that Tennyson feels crappy at all, so I can’t see putting her down just because her back END is not working…right? Or…Bah I am sad about Cosy, Tenny is my second favorite, and I just do not know what to DO.

Posted by joshilyn at 3:40 PM | Comments (19)

November 25, 2008

The Upsidedown Unthankful Meme

Today I posted at my group blog where I share space with a bevvy/herd/slew of Southern authors. NOW, I am going to BOOT CAMP at church where people will hit me with cruel, vigorous language to make me run like Bambi’s mother until my heart explodes.
And by awesome I mean, help.

Meanwhile, on the group blog, YES, VIRGINIA, WE ARE DOING A THANKFULNESS MEME.
Sort of.

You are cordially invited to play. I have most definitely shown you mine.
Please to come over to A Good Blog is Hard to Find and show me yours?

Posted by joshilyn at 8:21 PM | Comments (9)

November 23, 2008

Stupid Van Tricks

I have long hated my van. It has many tricks to make me hate it more each passing month. For example, for YEARS now, if I make a right turn when the van is CHILLY, it puts on a emergency brake, just a HAIR, and then BONG BONG BONGS at me until I pull the release. The NEW trick, for THIS winter, is to put on the emergency brake every time I turn right, and then BONG BONG BOONG incessantly at me, no matter HOW many times I pull the release, until I make a left turn. HEH.

Today we went to early service, then took The Hateful Van to 1,000 different centers of well lit, music filled naked avarice to complete our Christmas shopping. Sam and Maisy were in the backseat, playing out Act 14,569 of the unending passion-play of Pokemon/Sonic pretend they began about the time the Christmas shopping started, which for me was right after Halloween..

Sam: Who do you want to be this time?
Maisy: Sonic.
Sam: I was thinking I would be Sonic.
Maisy: You are always Sonic. When do I get to be Sonic?
Sam: Well I can think of three reasons why you can never be Sonic.
Maisy: *indignant* Why?
Sam: First of all, what gender is Sonic?
Maisy: What?
Sam: What GENDER is Sonic.
Maisy: Hedgehog.

PWNT! Of course, she still did not get to be Sonic. Sucks to be the youngest. But she ended up being happy with whatever they decided. She got to be a …Shadow Rachel? With Were-Sonic capabilities? OR SOMETHING. Anyway she agreed to be this thing, and the game went on and on and on and on and on through store after store and drive after drive until I thought my head would pop off.

Finally, heading toward home, I said, “HEY GUYS!!!! Let’s put the game on pause and sing Christmas Carols!!!!”

SO the kids and I belted out the FOULEST and most off-key and relentlessly loud version of AWAY IN A MANGER ever perpetrated.

My favorite childhood Christmas book describes that song as sounding like “a closet full of mice,” and that’s on a good day. Sam and Maisy and I were more like a closet full of punch-drunk, foot-hurty, off-key Mice. SOME of us *cough me cough* have ZERO natural musical ability, and, in fact, SOME OF US *cough me cough* don’t even LIKE songs, but I was at that point in the day where I liked songs more than I liked hearing the HOOTY WHISTLEY BEEPY SOUND EFFECT MOUTH NOISES that come with the endless adventures of Sonic and the Shadow Rachel and their were-morphing battles against Vaguely Asian-Sounding Evil.

SO, Scott, who LOVES songs,drove stoicly through the noise, suffering our HORRIBLE singing as if it were as necessary as a root canal, but maybe not so pleasant. We got to the last ASLEEP ON THE HAY and each of us sang HAY in a different key. So then we all SWAPPED keys trying to get with each other, and we all missed. Scott winced, then blanched as we all swapped keys AGAIN trying to sync up, and once again, failed utterly.

Finnally, the last discordant HAY faded, and there was a good three seconds of silence. Scott mopped his clammy brow, relieved. I got the giggles.

Me: Hey Scotty? Should we quit our day jobs? We could travel around listening to this LOATHESOME VAN boinging at every right turn and earn our soup by singing at county fairs.
Scott: Lord, no.
Me: OH COME ON! We would be just like the VAN TRAPP FAMILY!
Scott lifted a weary and cynical eyebrow and said, “You mean, dead?”

HEE! Not even Thanksgiving. But we are in the spirit here already.

Posted by joshilyn at 3:25 PM | Comments (17)

November 20, 2008

For the Record

1) I LIKE rats. I like rats who are domesticated, reasonably sized, and personable. Pet rats have pointy noses that go whifflewhiffle and soft fur. I myself had a pet rat named Simon who was white and rode around the house on my shoulder, nesting about in my hair. I also like hamsters, gerbils, mice, and am UTTERLY charmed when I hear those clucky little noises made by guinea pigs.

2) I do not like WILD disease-filled clumpy-haired garbage dwelling filthy PLAGUE rats, slick and oily with hanta virus and rabies and bubonic death, who are the size of fetal Buicks, who POP OUT of garbage heaps and SLAVER menacingly before bounding off to further wreck the economy buy refusing to buy domestic. There is one JUST LIKE THIS in New York. I KNOW. I SAW him. Twice.

3) Patti LuPone should be declared a national treasure. If you live in or are going to be near the NYC area before March, you SHOULD go see GYPSY. It’s a near perfect show, and LuPone is a MIRACLE in it, and I do not understand why it is closing after only a year or so? We were in a full theatre, and on a Tuesday, so. Maybe LuPone has other things to do and they feel she cannot be replaced by someone from American Idol? If so? GOOD CALL, but still. It rates an ALAS.

4) I will NEVER understand how ANYONE ALIVE can think that someone who has 11.5 million dollars lying fallow in darkest Abidjan would want to thrust this money willy-nilly into the bank account of a stranger…especially when “investor” closes his letter with, “please, if you are interested, reply me urgently . I remain bless while expecting your prompt co-operation.”
People with 11.5 million lying around to invest also have multi-lingual secretaries to make sure they do not sound like the instructions that come with toys made in Japan or something Babble fish came up with after smoking a hookah fulla magicweed. HOW DOES THIS SCAM KEEP WORKING? And if it never works, WHY must I clear 30 offers of MILLIONS out of my box while emails from Karen go directly into my SPAM?

5) I enjoy reading books by Sara Gran.

6) Today my own book feels like that HALLWAY in every horror movie, the one the person goes RUNRUNRUN-ing down, and the person can SEE the end, but the hallway keeps STRETCHING and STRETCHING and they never get there, and then something terrible eats them.

7) The something terrible that eats them is probably that New York rat.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:34 AM | Comments (20)

November 18, 2008

What I Did on my Winter Vacation (So Far)

I am in NYC staying at Karen’s Deluxe Apartment in the sky. It’s very nice! She has the top half of the fourth floor, so that’s pretty deluxe, but it IS a fourth story walk up so it DOES feel a little in the sky when one is dragging a GINORMOUS suitcase up to it. It is in a romantical old building that makes me want to say, I LIKE IKE.

I drafted half a chapter yesterday, so I think you should give me a cookie.

Walking down to the subway I saw an ENORMOUS BOUNDING RAT being enormous and bounding. Horrifying. Then before I was half recovered, I saw another one scuttle frantically out of some trash and go under a parked car to slaver and wait to inject rabies into the ankles of whatever hapless driver came along and tried to enter the car. Karen says it was the same rat, that New York has JUST THE ONE and I should not worry.

I suspect she is lying to comfort me, and that my friends Rat and Other Rat have manymanymany friends and relations living here in the city, which is fine, but MUST they leap about between buildings with such joi de ratvive? RIGHT WHEN I AM LOOKING? I need them to be STEALTHIER. I also need them to be less WHARFY and HUGE---I prefer my rats to come at least a shoe size smaller than possums.

We did go to ELAINE's, which was THE place to be if you were at all litty and chic and aspiring in 1984. We spotted neither Tama Janowitz nor Jay McInerney slumming in the bar of Brat Pack origin, so that was disappointing. ALSO, they did not have absinthe. Not even the new fake kind, which I think ALL bars should stock in honor of Paris in 1890, but maybe since we are talking about 80's NYC we would have had better luck if we had simply asked for a pound of blow. We did not; I am passing fond of my mucus membranes. I settled for a dirty martinis. Filthy, even. And a salad of raw beef.

I came up to attend an industry party, and it was like nothing I had ever been to before. It was just plain NEAT to see 60% of New York publishing gathering in a room together all talking made me feel odd and proud --- like I was somehow strangely a teeny working coglike PART of something large and lovely.

On the lighter side---I was going to play a little drinking game with myself, where I took a drink every time I heard someone say, "We should have lunch." I quickly realized that that way lies alcohol poisoning and brain death.

I am going to get back to work now (iwillnotgoplaypathwordsonfacebook iwillnotgoplaypathwordsonfacebook iwillnotgoplaypathwordsonfacebook iwillnotgoplaypathwordsonfacebook iwillnotgoplaypathwordsonfacebook iwillnotgoplaypathwordsonfacebook iwillnotgoplaypathwordsonfacebook)

Posted by joshilyn at 10:37 AM | Comments (20)

November 14, 2008

Double the Fictional Doom

I am out of words this week. I put them all into Chapter 12. The only words I have left are sarcophagus and prestidigitate, neither of which would fit even remotely into Chapter 12. NOT THAT I DID NOT TRY.

Translation: I have been drafting like a MANIAC. This is going to continue, as on Sunday I head into New York for three days to see my editor, go to a Book of the Month Club party thing, and begin drafting the VERY LAST SECTION OF THE BOOK. I can see the end on the horizon (whee!), but it looks a LITTLE too much like Titus Andronicus right now to please me. WHen I think to myself. I SHOULD KILL ALL MY CHARACTERS IN A FIRE, WRITE "THE END," AND GO GET A COCKTAIL…well. This tells me I am souring, and it is time to leave my sour little room and drag my sour little self off to draft someplace ELSE.

I was working at Starbucks, but that way lies fat, fat madness. MMMMM. STARBUCKS. SO I decided to go REALLY someplace else….someplace where, “Let’s take a break, Karen,” could mean “Let’s go to Half Price Tickets in Times Square and see if we can’t snag decent seats for GYPSY.” VIVA NEW YORK. I like walking up and down the streets of Manhattan when I am getting barn sour. It makes me cheerful and energetic and less likely to end a book abruptly with a good old fashioned massacre.

MEANWHILE, wordless, I offer you pictures instead. Worth thousands, sayeth the bard.

My friend Jill, who has a MILD J.R.R Tolkien obsession (and here I use mild as in the sentence, “The Huns felt a mild interest in overrunning China.” That kind of mild) and she sent me some pictures that absolutely prove the human race is doomed. YAY!

Jill SAID: “Here is the first-ever pictures of planets outside our solar system. Using the latest techniques in space technology, astronomers at NASA and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used direct-imaging techniques to capture pictures of four newly discovered planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. It looks like this:





Anyway, if that DOES turn out to be the eye of Sauron, then I will tell you the rest of the POPULAR GIRLS SAGA in the afterlife.


Posted by joshilyn at 3:30 PM | Comments (17)

November 11, 2008

The Genesis of Popular Girls, or A Mental Illness is Born

Remember I told you my favorite show ONCE AGAIN got moved and I was worried it was a death knell? HUZZAH! Life got a full season pick up! It comes on on WEDNESDAYS now, the meaty delicious filling in the Knight Rider/Law and Order sammich, and let us all as people of taste and sense watch with the fervent dedication of a cult. I need it to be picked up for next year, thus prolonging both my will to live and the idea that yes, Virginia, smart, well written shows CAN survive on Network TV.

If nothing else, it will stave off the day when every channel but HBO and Showtime have nothing but reality programming. Especially since HBO and Showtime spend only 1/10th of their time making good TV (Sopranos, Dexter) and the rest is devoted to recycled movies, sporting events, and late night soft core pR0n, NONE of which interest me in even the slightest. VIVA LA LIFE! LIFE FOREVER.

Meanwhile, we were talking about how we make friends…

The concept of The Popular Girls started in grad school, when I got a friendy-crush on two theatre department chicks named Beth and Rasa. They had long, shiny hair. They used lingo. They had an off campus apartment where people and beers comingled to watch this hot new show called “Friends” everyone was talking about. They were NOT popular girls in the traditional sense of. well, you know CHEERLEADERS or whatnot. They just looked like people I would like---funny and quirky and kind and strange.

I had a class on modern playwrights that was open to both English AND theatre majors. We sat on different sides of the room. Beth-and-Rasa of course sat with the grease-painted, a-little-too-slutty-for-class-and-all-black outfit wearing THEATRE people. I sat trapped with a bunch of Language Literacy and Rhetoric girls who wore thrift store dresses from the 70’s and glasses so ugly they were an effective form of birth control. Those people in all earnesty used words like hermeneutics, which is UNFORGIVEABLE, especially since not a ONE of them knew theurban dictionary definition…

I wanted to hang with the theatre crowd. I would come home and give a Beth-and-Rasa report to Scott every class day, repeat all their cool-girl insights into Artaud, and proclaim that they TOTALLY GOT IONESCO without having to PARSE HIM UP like the LLR harpies. I called them The Popular Girls, and I wanted to hang with them, but I was TOO DARN SHY TO CROSS THE ROOM and SPEAK.

So. I decided to audition to be friends with them.
I am SUCH a sad specimen, and PS, why do I TELL you these things? Is it a lack of shame or or a lack of tastefulness?


Our prof was in the habit of having us READ sections of plays aloud whenever they appeared in the textbook. She encouraged us to read “expressively” and “read it like an ACTOR,” which gave the LLR folks hives. Looking ahead in the book, I saw we were about to come upon a section of Sophie’s lines lifted from Uncle Vanya.

Now. I had PLAYED that part. It remains one of my favorite plays and may well be my favorite role I have ever had in theatre. It’s poor Sophie talking about her completely unrequited love for a country doctor, and her own ugliness, but under that, she is saying how she HATES that he respects her and her mind and how vile it is to have him value her friendship and see her as sexless---she wants to be a woman to him, and she is not, and it is a terrible speech because it has HOPE in it, and there IS no hope, and she hopes anyway. It’s lovely and human.

I knew EVERY note of it, all the meaning behind the simple lines. I knew the nuances. On top of my history with the part, at home, before the fateful class, I WORKED on those lines with Scott. He indulged me. Because he, I suspect, knew I was bat crap crazy BEFORE he married me. “Should I do this thing with my wrist when I say the part about hearing those women at church say I am so plain?” I would ask him plaintively, doing a wrist twitch thing, like an unconscious TICK. "Sure, baby," he would say, and then presumably go back to grinding up lithium to sneak into my O.J.

Later I would realize I had seen that wrist twitch thing before – when Disney's Little Mermaid overhears that PRINCE ERIC is going to marry that chick who turns out to be the SEA WITCH. *sigh* What righteous source material. Ah well, look, we can’t all steal from Lawrence Olivier…

ANYWAY, we got to that section of the book, the prof asked for a reader, and my hand shot up before she got all the words out. Then I did those lines like I was auditioning for STINKING BROADWAY. I mean, I blew it out. I projected. I did the wrist twitch thing. I TEARED UP, and then at the end let two big fat tears PLOP onto the page. Then I dashed them away and grinned while Beth-and-Rasa and the theatre people clapped and hooted in appreciation and the English deprtment people all shifted EVER SO SLIGHTLY away from me, as if they had only just now noticed my third eye and the tentacle. After class, the LLR girls BARRELLED out swiftly to go talk about what a LOON I was, but I did not care...because Beth-and-Rasa came over and asked me to come audition for a play they were working on.

I came home that day JOYFUL because I knew that two weeks into rehearsal I would be comfortable with them and we would end up friends---working together on a project like a play does that. And sure enough, soon I was sitting on the theatre side of the room, happy and in a place that felt like mine. But good grief, what’s wrong with HELLO! I AM JOSS! WANT TO GET SOME COFFEE AFTER CLASS?

Those were the ORIGINAL popular girls, but I have retained the term and the methodogy…GAH must go get kidlets at school. Sadly, there is MORE to this. Heh.

OH! LASTLY, and it goes in this entry because it can ALSO ve filed under “pernicious and unforgiveably self-indulgent navel gazing” I got a note from Lydia. I am pondering it. She said, “You blog differently when you’re writing. I just went and read your last few blogs – you have that “I’m writing” sound. I remember this from your last book. Between books you sound more like you’re talking. It’s weird!”

Posted by joshilyn at 1:45 PM | Comments (18)

November 10, 2008

A Brief and Clinically Depressed and Wrinkly and Saggy and Old Digression

We will get to the topic of what a freak I am tomorrow, when I tell you about the time I LITERALLY used hand gestures stolen from Disney’s animated version of The Little Mermaid to audition to be friends with a girl named Beth. Yes, I AM actually THAT weird. Perhaps Beth was, too, because it WORKED.

…MEANWHILE, You may have noticed I am blogging less. I may have noticed you noticing because you may have sent me several e-mails about it. Yes, I am only blogging two or three times a week, but not because I do not love you, OH NO. It is only that I am at that place where The Book Is Go, and I am very seldom noticing things that are happening around me. I live in fictional Texas these days. Look for me to emerge back into being less hermit-y in a couple months.

MEANWHILE, I am thinking of completely giving up on aging GRACEFULLY. I am, after all, the girl who could always be counted on to trip over dust motes. I have never done ANYTHING gracefully, so why should getting old be any different for me? I think I must have already stumbled over forty and landed face down in LITTLE OLD LADY HOOD, as all the college kids I taught last week relentlessly called me ma’am. Any minute I am expecting to be set upon by boy scouts, who will force-march me across the street as part of their Help The Elderly Whether They Want Help or Not Badge.

WHY DO I TRY??? I might as well let my elbows get rough and use a jug of dollar-ninety Vaseline Intensive Care lotion on my FACE instead of shelling out for the twenty buck Oil of Old Grocery Store Moisturizer because APPARENTLY I decided to SKIP any sort of VIBRANT middle age…

Today, I went hiking with my friend Julie. We go every Monday, death marching up and down a gentle mountain near an historic battlefield. Julie is a little younger than me – maybe 35? Her son is my son’s BFF, and her daughter is my daughter’s BFF, and her LITTLEST is three and goes on the hike with us in his 50 million dollar overland stroller that you could SERIOUSLY use to forge a path over the Adirondacks.

Today, we passed this older fellow, probably late sixties, and waved and smiled as trail etiquette demands. He grinned down at Julie’s toddler and said, “AW! Is that your grandbaby?”

Julie, WILDLY affronted, said, “NO! That is my son.”

And this gent, abashed not at all, said, “Oh, I didn’t mean you. I was talking to your mother.”


Then I set on him like a harpy and rent him in twain and JulIE and I ate his intestines while he was still alive and screaming.

I think he got off easy, really.

Julie said he was hitting on me, but if you are 68 and think you have a SHOT I must be looking pretty ROUGH, wouldn’t you say? Yikes.

We hiked on and I said, “WHY do I try? WHY even pursue FITNESS? AND I put LIP GLOSS on before we set out, and not ENTIRELY for the MOISTERIZING LIP-PROTECTIVE QUALITIES…forget it. I am going to lie down here in the grass and cry and eat candy. YOU go ahead and work your butt muscles, daughter-mine. You can pick up my corpse on your way back to the cars.”

She still made me go on the hike, but I have to say, it was one hellacious ugly way to start the morning.


Posted by joshilyn at 12:33 PM | Comments (29)

November 7, 2008

ACTUAL Part 1 of The Popular Girls

It’s a euphemism.
They aren’t really popular. (I think I am past the age group that actually has a thing that can be called “popular girls.” With a straight face, anyway. Dearest God, I HOPE so.)
SO they aren’t actually popular, and sometimes, they aren’t even girls.

The popular girls is what I call the people in a NEW place--- new city, new church, new school or job---that I think or hope will end up being my friends. They seem kind and fun and smart and quirky, and I want to hang out with them. I know eventually, if I stay in the new place, I WILL be comfortable with all of them and friends with some of them, but just then, in my newness, I don’t see how it will ever come to be.

I am SHY. (Shut up. I am TOO. I am shy on the inside, where it counts, SECRETLY.) People laugh when I say that because I am also terminally loud, but you can be loud and shy at the very same time. Trust me. When I am the new girl, I feel like a stork in a department store. The me-stork does not have a Macy’s card or opposable thumbs, and I do not belong. I feel that ANYONE can tell in a GLANCE that I do not belong, and they are all irked that I have showed up at ALL because I seem like a flappy thing that will break the fine china and drop storck poops and babies all over the sale racks.

I hate being new. It’s like all at once, my skin doesn’t fit on me properly. I twitch around inside it, trying to unrumple it and have it lie flat like a proper skin.

The popular girls are all already set in their comfortable routines and slots and friendships, and I have to either find a place for myself, or move on. If I see a place I might fit, people I might really get along with, my immediate response is become COMPLETELY unable to speak to those people. AT best I sneak around the edges of the conversation, leap in to deliver a funny oneliner, and then my puffy tail goes bouncing over the hills and away. The more I like or admire someone, the less likely I am to be remotely comfortable around them.

I have learned that, if I leave it up to fate or sit waiting for people to come sit by me and take me in, it never will happen. My shyness often looks like stuck-itty uppity-ness, my awkwardness is a sign that reads, “HI! I DO NOT LIKE YOU! MOVE IT ON ALONG, BUB NOTHING TO SEE HERE.” So, when I go to a new place where I am going to spending significant amounts of time and energy—church, town, job or school--- I have learned to PLAN to make friends. I gird my loins up and FORCE myself to say pre-thought up opening lines as if I am Sara Jessica Parker (circa Square Pegs, not Circa Sex and the City, which is a whole another kind of popular girl. *COUGH*)

GAH…. I meant to make it sound LESS freakish than it actually is by giving you A Brief History of Popular Girls---putting it in a context, you know? But I will have to do that next time, as I have to run go teach.

So cntext free, I will simply say, if you want to STICK in a new place, it’s vital to have a posse. Isn’t it? I feel SUPER weird telling you this, because I think it is a SUPER weird thing to do--- I plot to make friends the way ninjas plot to assassinate people, although mercifully with less innards. Other people seem to just NATURALLY manage to connect to folks, but I never have.

Does it make more sense if I add that while I may be utterly inept at naturally MAKING friends, once I have a threshold of comfortableness with folks, I am good at HAVING friends? Or no? Are you all looking at me like I am Chandler on Friends, that time he confessed to having a third nipple?


Posted by joshilyn at 8:26 AM | Comments (26)

November 4, 2008

The Popular Girls (Part ½)

It is important to know that LIFE has moved to Wednesdays, and even more important that you watch it with fervor and dedication—you should prolly name all your babies Damien. Watch it ONCE and you will watch it MORE< I pinky swear. It is the best show on television, the end. Please watch because if it gets cancelled because they keep MOVING it I will die.

HI! I AM…doing something. I can’t say what because I don’t have the vocabulary—not a vocabulary that doesn’t want to make me throw up in my mouth, anyway---you know I categorically refuse to say that I am growing as a person.

Because…How do we feel about experiencing personal growth, Oh Best Beloveds, here at Faster Than Kudzu? SAY IT WITH ME, LOUD AND PROUD: We do not do that here. It’s tacky.

I am about to go willingly hike up a mountain as soon as I finish this blog. I am going because it’s aerobic and I MIGHT see a deer, not to experience personal growth. I don't want to even read about other people going up mountains, especially if they have to experience a wordy wise chunk of personal growth at the top. I'm like, yeah buddy, ANYONE can grow as a person on a soothing mountain while hoovering up BEAUTY and SILENCE. Tell me how to experience some damn growth when your car is full of hollering pre-teen boys who smell like feet. THEN I’ll be impressed enough to allow you the cliché.

I am NOT growing as a person, but I am making some choices. Just an example: I am working VERY HARD to be less competitive, VERY HARD, and learning to play for the FUN OF IT -- new concept -- is part of that. I have instituted family game night, and we play every Friday and often I lose the game, but I have only lost my temper TWICE in like 9 times now. THIS IS HUGE.

My old game-play concept was the total annihilation of all my enemies. I used to play Euchre the way Conan the barbarian played AXE.

And yet I REFUSE to say I am trying enjoy the game itself, trying, GOD HELP ME, to be more JOURNEY and less GO GO GADGET TO OUR MIGHTY DESTINATION. There is no way to SAY that without sounding like a buttmunch. The vocabulary of self-improvement is nigh unto UNENDUARBLE.

It sounds like therapy speak and that drives me BATCRAP. Please understand – I am not against therapy. I would be willing to be saner, myself, if only the VOCABULARY of mental health didn’t make me want to stab things. When people in therapy say, “I need to DO THE WORK” I want to hand them a card for HABITAT FOR HUMANITY and a hammer and say, “THAT’S THE WORK. Let’s you and me go do it.”

The vocabulary of improvement makes me SUSPECT that to “experience personal growth,” you have to either smell like patchouli and do unspeakable things with quartz, or go the other way and lie on a sofa saying cruel things about one’s mother and gobbling great heaping handfuls of Abilify. (And speaking of enraging vocabulary…ABILIFY? Are you KIDDING ME? How literal/suggestical can you GET, drug marketers? ABILIFY, Hmf, forget that. I am waiting for the SEQUEL pill, which will be named HAPPILITATE)

So, I will just say: I am tryingtryingtrying to be kinder, every time. Yes. Again. Stop looking at me like that.

PS: I know making fun of people who say, of their therapy, “I need to do the work,” is not kinder. It is, in fact, NOT KIND AT ALL, but it’s the same thing as me calling the Irish cruel names and making jokes about alcoholism and potatoes. I am Irish, and I am never mocking THEM, I am mocking US, from the inside out.

So, I confess here that I learned the maddening vocab of therapy while IN therapy. It was important and good for me to spend some time with my eyes turned inwards to peer into my own brain. This was how I learned enough about myself to realize that I believe empathy is more important than actualization. So. I confess. I have indeed said, of my therapy, out loud and with earnest, wide eyeballs, “I NEED TO DO THE WORK.” I also admit that NOW I want a time machine so I can pop back right fast and SMACK me one.

TRULY, it is not that I don’t want people who need therapy to GET therapy. I had a bad half-decade once, and the therapy I went through taught me some valuable things that helped me NOT BE DEAD of my own bad choices now. Many of my friends from this period are missing, or dead, or have been or are in prison. I LIKE not being dead, I would have HATED prison, I am too loud to be a success at going missing, I love my peaceful, cheerful life, and I want people who need help to get help. I just don’t want them to pick up that VOCABULARY.

Must we have LINGO?

I am a person of faith, and I will also say that sometimes the lingo of Christianity drives me batcrap, too. Lingo is nothing more than fetal clichés, and also a way use language to say THIS IS MY CLUB I AM PART OF. PS, YOU ARE NOT IN IT.

BAH I digressed didn’t I? And I was going to tell you about the popular girls. They snap their gum. They wear pink socks. I am deliberately not looking for them. I will tell you about them tomorrow. I will call this part ½ because we didn’t even make it to part 1.

IN RELATED NEWS that may seem more related to popular girls than personal growth but absolutely is sister to both, Scott and I found a church. It is Presbyterian. I am trying VERY hard not to make the joke about how it feels like we were predestined to end up there. But oh look. I failed.

Before we started attending, all I knew about Presbyterians was that they believed the road to hell led RIGHT STRAIGHT THROUGH Disneyworld. My childhood friend Marta’s parents had to SNEAK AND LIE and say they were going to Yosemite National Park when they took her there, or they would have been drummed out. It wasn’t a denomination I had ever previously considered, but NOW I think Marta’s folks may have been some sort of strange, mouse-hating OFFSHOOT of Presbyterianism, because we have found church doctrine to be comfortable and familiar, like a friendly neighbor who owns that nice yellow house right between Mr. Lutheran’s place and the Methodist family homestead.

More importantly, I have never cared very much about the brand name on the label of the church I wear---this is a good and earnest church with a yen for hope, a bent for community service, a thousand pounds of heart for every droplet of lingo, and they like The Little Mermaid JUST FINE. While I am emphatically NOT going to grow as a person there, it has renewed my ongoing herkyjerk learning curve of how to be kinder, every time. I am kinder. Every time. Or anyway, I WILL be kinder. Starting any second. Starting maybe even now.


Posted by joshilyn at 9:18 PM | Comments (21)

November 2, 2008

On Brothers

Girls who grow up with an older brother are slighty different from girls who are first borns or who have older sisters. I grew up with an older brother, and it shaped me…my heart still goes BOOM-pat at the thought of Conan the Barbarian head-lopping his way across a bloody battlefield.

My Barbie never got into the suave and metro Ken. She preferred to mack on my brother’s GI Joe. In fact,she often kicked off her platform sandals and teamed up with Joe for rousing adventures. My brother plotted these escapades, so it was all about BIG GUNS, and that is in no way a metaphor.

The stories began and ended with Barbie and Joe platonically blowing the CRAP out of bad guys. The ROMANCE happened LATER, when Bobby had gone off with his friends. That was when I STOLE GI Joe out of Bobby’s Action Figure Foot Locker Storage Unit and staged hasty, lavish, illicit and sparkly pink marriage ceremonies. They featured hyperbolic VOWS and plastic kissing.

Girls my age ALL collected SMURF action figures. However, only MY Smurfs were battle scarred. Many had suffered limb loss and horrible melting deformities from all the fireworks wars my Smurfs fought against the shell casings of the locusts that appeared abandoned on the tree trunks and the lawn every springtime.

Now I am raising a daughter who came along five years after my boy child…and her childhood is like mine in a lot of ways:


Here you see Princess Tinker Fett, elite fairy assassin and laser-magic expert. This is the WEIRDEST Star-Wars/Disney Cross over since Darth Vader put on a lion mask and leaned out of the stars to say USE THE FORCE, SIMBA. (Though how on EARTH a SITH LORD got so careless as to allow wildebeests to smash him in the FIRST place, I will never know.)

That’s the ring leader in the background at the piano. FOR THE RECORD, Sam is doing an AWESOME job with his piano lessons. I was only going to get them for the musically inclined Maisy, who wanders the house singing her woes and triumphs ala Les Miserables all the day, and in perfect pitch, too. But Sam wanted to take lessons, so I got him some, and he is REALLY keeping up with practices, has burned through three books and can play several songs from memory.

Perhaps he is secretly musically inclined? Or perhaps it is that his piano teacher is young and sweet and lovely and blonde. Whatever his motives, the kid is learning some piano, and I am right proud.

Posted by joshilyn at 1:29 PM | Comments (18)