June 30, 2009

Better tUesday: Motivational Goodies and My Future Doom (contest!)

My friends at the AHA want to hook you up with MOTIVATIONAL GOODIES in the form of a Better U, Better Me Kit with a retail value of more than fifty bucks. Look, it’s full of win:

BetterU%2C%20BetterMe%20Kit%20Photo.jpg

o Super-cute tote bag for the gym
o BPA-free water bottle
o Go Red Grocery Guide to help you make heart-healthy choices at the store
o Go Red yoga mat
o Our signature red dress pin
o Heart-healthy snack, Craisins

Want one? I have two to give away. To enter, just leave your best tip for heart healthy living in the comments. I would especially LOVE some new healthy recipes (or a link to a recipe), even MORE especially, healthy crock pot recipes... I am getting bored with our usual dinners. If you HAVE no recipe and are tip-stumped, you can steal one of mine. Just cut and paste one of these:

---Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
---Try thin-sliced avocado instead of mayonnaise on your sandwich.

Just leave your tip in the comments before MIDNIGHT eastern time Thursday, July 2, and we will let the cruel and jaundiced gods of random decide who gets these cool things. The detailed rules are a click away, blatantly stolen from WANT NOT.

This week and the next are going to be HIDEOUSLY challenging because on Thursday, I leave for our annual beach vacation. I meet my WHOLE family there, all ten of us, so I only do 1/3rd of the grocery shopping. We plan to do a LOT of really fun things---rent a pontoon boat, see the Blue Angels practice their air show, long dawn walks on the beach, swimming, fishing, body surfing, snorkeling, so keeping my activity levels high is built in. BUT!

A huge part of this family vacation is ALWAYS the food. My sister in law makes her Satanic Chicken Enchiladas featuring about 213 types of cheese, I usually make a white chili that is as smooth as velvet thanks to a fat content equal to what’s found in your average chunk of whale blubber, my mother brings her famous cheese cake, my FAVORITE pecan rum cake and a triple chocolate cake she primly calls “Better Cake” because the real title on the recipe is “Better Than Sex Cake. “

It’s a decadent week. There are Cheetos in the pantry, and Chocolate Pop-Tarts, and Cap’N Crunch Cereal. WITH Crunchberries. Things that NEVER cross my threshold at home. All the time, they are there. Sometimes, we get crazy and have WINE WITH LUNCH like a buncha debauched Roman senators.

We go out to eat at a place that might as well be called FRIED UP HARRY’S CORONARY HOUSE OF GIANT PLATTERS. The portions there---one Captain’s platter could feed a pride of lions, and the Admiral’s platter could make every lion need some plop plop fizz fizz. You can get any kind of fresh seafood you want on these platters---shrimp, scallops, clams, fish, crab claws... but they all come fried. OR, if you really really really do not want anything deep fried, they are happy to “broil” you some shrimp and scallops. I put broil in quotation marks because they use that word to mean “completely submerge shellfish in melted butter and apply heat.”

I’ve never escaped from Beach Week unscathed by a few gained pounds, but I really want to try this year. If I can BREAK EVEN, just not GAIN any weight, I will call it TOTAL MORAL victory. Here are my goals this week, which have to change as I will not be commuting back to Georgia for six hours to attend boot camp four times a week.

---Continue to use WW to CHART everything I eat, even if it horrifies me. I read on the forums over there recently, “If I wasn’t supposed to EVER eat it, WW wouldn’t give it a POINTS value.” SO if I CHART, I will KNOW if I am splurging reasonably or if I have completely jumped the shark.

---Continue with my policy of FRUITS AND VEGGIES FIRST. Fill up on salad and fruit as I begin my meals, and THEN indulge in some Julie’s enchiladas, so the portion of SUPERFAT YUMMMMINESS that I need to feel full is smaller.

---Three Boot camps this week before I leave, and then a combo of beach walking/active swimming for at LEAST an hour every day. (This is going to happen without me even trying, I suspect. I love body surfing and snorkeling to see fishes and stuff, and I walk the beach at dawn ever day. It’s deserted then except for a serious fishermen like Mr. Nguyen. Remember him? And last year’s MORTAL DANGER? and I get to see the herons and all the little silly-footed panicky water birds and pelicans and one year I went swimming at 5 am and raninto a little pod of dolphins who parted and swam around me...love it.

---DO NOT EAT THE POP-TARTS. If I am going to splurge – and I AM, Best Beloveds---I will blow the calories on RUM CAKE, which is homemade and tastes like my childhood and which I can’t GET anywhere else. I will NOT waste calories on a sugary slab of petroleum by products that has less nutritional value than the BOX it came in. I WILL NOT. NOT EVEN ONE.

And while we are on the topic of deliciousness, my reward, if I do this all, will be to go to the theatre and see DEPP AS DILLENGER a week from Thursday.

LISTEN, in the comments, for your entry, if you have a tip for surviving vacation eating, THAT would be SO helpful. I recalculated my BMI today as part of week 5. It is 25.5, down from 26.5. 25 or less is considered a healthy BMI, and I am .5 away. I have lost over an inch and a half in my waist, and am down 7 pounds and change. I so do not want to blow it!
But I am weak, I am weak, I am weak, and the siren song of the Cheetos is MIGHTY.


Posted by joshilyn at 9:33 AM | Comments (85)

June 28, 2009

BETTER Shut It (A Better U Rant Against Mean People)

Disclaimer: I am not putting up the Better U logo because I am MAD and about to use bad language that the AHA may not wish to be associated with, i.e. Buttmunch.

Jennifer in Comments said, “I have been officially DEMORALIZED. And, therefore, hiding under the bed. I went to a doctor (NOT about my weight, or eating habits; about a SLEEP issue!!!) and he asked me "are you happy with your current weight?" Naturally, I said no, and began to explain the BetterU program, my goals, what I have been doing, etc, etc, INCLUDING how I have lost 11 pounds and 4.5 inches (overall). He interrupted me to inform that I was NOT in a SUPERVISED program (and therefore a very inferior one), then gave me a quick up-and-down with a jaundiced fisheye, and said, "I recommend that you see a nutritionist, because obviously what you are doing is not working."
•
• Chicken biscuit? Oh, #%&*@# NO!!!
•
• Pizza and chicken wings, anyone? Since 11 pounds and 4.5 inches is FAILURE, and I lack the nerve to point at a man with an M.D. behind his name with the BAD finger, I have been taking my anger out on myself in the form of carbs and fried proteins.
•
There are FIVE things to remember, here, Jennifer, and everyone else who has run into a set back, be it in the form of a mean person derailing you, a unsupportive person trying to tempt you to skip the gym and sit on the sofa and eat bonbons because if YOU change they might have to as well, or someone being HATEFUL and saying you are doing it wrong or not good enough because you are not doing it THEIR way.

The first and most obvious thing is, that doctor is a buttmunch. And people like that doctor belong to the buttmunch tribe. We belong to a different tribe and they do not control us.

The second thing is, no one program works for all people, even though ALL fitness programs are essentially the same thing. ALL fitness programs that WORK are merely different packagings around a couple of core ideas: Commit for a lifetime to better eating habits, learn portion control and find a physical activity that you like enough to make a near daily part of your life.

ALL GOOD PROGRAMS that are good for you and not FADDY crap that hurts you more than it helps are basically THIS. But the packaging MATTERS. For example, I HATE anything supervised and MEETINGY – I am NOT a joiner. I am terminally bored and unhappy at WW meetings, but I LOVE WW online. Some people like Yoga, but the whole being STILL and QUIET part with the chimes makes me want to put a knife in my eye. I am a BOOT CAMP kind of girl. I like yelling and running up and down stairs. Heck, some people like to Deal-A-Meal while sweatin' to the oldies. The package does NOT matter. The CHOICES are what matter---put those choices in ANY package you like, and go for it. BetterU works for me because it is SHORT TERM GOAL ORIENTED and VERY self-directed. I LOVE setting my own goals and rewarding myself. It is ALSO working GORGEOUSLY for Jennifer. If it doesn’t work for you, NO PROBLEM! Find what works, and do it. Your body deserves to be taken care of, because you live in it, and it is you.

The third thing is, the reason week four was all about finding a support system is because of buttmunches. And who is a buttmunch? (Hint: see the first and most obvious thing.) You must not let the Buttmunches GET YOU DOWN. The best revenge is notnotnot EATING FRIED MEAT AND CARBS. That only hurts you and PROVES THE BUTTMUNCH RIGHT. Do not prove the buttmunch right by abandoning a package that was working for you just because he is what he is. And what is he? (Hint: rhymes with Duttmunch.)

The fourth thing is, The best revenge is sticking with what WORKS for you, losing the weight, lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides and blood pressure, getting your waist under 33 inches, getting more stamina, feeling great and lookin’ good, and then calling him up and asking his desk staff to please pass on a message, and the message is, of course, the politest form of
“DEAR SIR,
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO SUCK IT.
LOVE,
ME”
that you can manage.

The Fifth thing to remember is, a feast of angry chicken and biscuits does NOT undo four weeks of work, 11 pounds, and four and a half inches. People who succeed at getting in shape are the NOT the ones who never fall off the wagon and land face down in a quart of Edie’s Grand Fudge Ripple. Everyone does that sometimes. The people who succeed in the long run are those who say, “OH WELL YOU KNOW I ate that fudge ripple *burp* and look, all I feel is bloated and weepy, and now I am going to climb back on the wagon, make myself my FAVORITE most expensive and delightful healthy thing for dinner – CEVICHE anyone? And put it all behind me.”

SO that’s what you need to. You ate the chicken. Oh well. That was THEN. This is NOW. What are you going to do NOW? Eat more fried chicken, or take the dog for a nice walk and have some fruit? CHOOSE B! We are all rooting for you to choose B. Especially the dog, who feels strongly that there are many fascinating messages in urine to decipher, if only you would just take him.

Also, there is a thing six that showed up in comments.
Rachel said: I bet he is a sleazebag who gets some kind of $ kickback from nutritionist referrals.

I bet she is exactly right! He brought the topic up, ignored your success, and tried to refer you to his own guy -- there was somethign in it for him. That doctor is SUCH a buttmunch.

Posted by joshilyn at 4:01 PM | Comments (39)

June 26, 2009

Because I am CLassy Like That

Dear Men,
Please go away today. THANKS. I LOVE you guys, you know I do, but this is a lady post for ladies. Love you! Come back tomorrow! I will discuss FISHING! Or Boobs! All that stuff you like. But not today.
Shoo,
Joshilyn

Dear Commenting Best Beloveds,
Please, Tread carefully! Speak gently, and strictly in euphemisms. You know, for all I write some ....let’s say, VISCERAL, shall we? VISCERAL books, (and some might say GRAPHIC. Some might even say EXPLICIT. Some might even say GRATUITOUS but I sniff disparagingly at Those Particular Somes and say, “I had my reasons...”) Even so, I am personally quite prudish. I feel this post is borderline, but I am erring on the side of RISK and *cough* PUBLIC SERVICE, so I am ditching propriety.
With pursed mouth and a total willingness to disappear comments,
Sister Mary Evangeline Joshilyn

Dear Little Children,
Go away! Come back in 5 to 15 years, when you are a teenager or a grown up person. If you wandered in by accident, let me suggest you go HERE instead. You will like it.
Love,
Miss Joss, Former VBS Recreation Director and Veteran Sunday School Teacher

OKAY SO...I sent the following email to several friends:

Hey Ya’lls, Do you think I can blog this or is it too risqué and maybe oversharing:

You know how I call all doctors The Vet, right? People look at me so funny when I say, “Maisy has a tummy ache, I think we have to take her to the vet,” but it is habit now. The whole family does this – except Scott. Also, the kids and I call our plumber toilet man. And we call the man who came today to give us the first estimate for replacing the dead AC The Expensive Unswelterator. Scott calls them Dr. Lastname, KEVIN, and PAUL, respectively. And, he says, respectfully. He is trying to get me to STOP with the wiggetty whack job titles in lieu of, you know, actually learning people’s names. Today we had this conversation:

Scott: You need to call your doctor about getting the final stitches out of your tongue.

Me: Blerg. I hate going to the tongue vet.

Scott: You mean you hate going to DOCTOR JOHNSTON. You need to go, though, honey. And if you can call about Sam’s laser tag night with Youth Group, I will do all the follow-up calls about the AC.

Me: Okay sounds good. OH HEY, you know what? It is summer. I should also call the Cooter Vet to schedule a check-up and a mammogram.

Scott: ...did you just say, THE COOTER VET?

Me: WHOOPS, um ...Maybe? No. Surely not. I deny everything.

Scott: Good LORD, woman. Suddenly, Toilet Man seems like a GREAT job title.

MY FAVORITE RESPONSE to “Can I blog this” was from Anonymous Friend. She said:

Yes, you can blog it. I hate the CV though. I had to see mine last week. I refer to my appointment rather obliquely by quoting "Goosey, goosey gander, whither do you wander" (upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber).

Did you know that Injection Nurse is an actual job title??”

Holy non sequitur, Batman! But SUCH a welcome subject change. Now I am asking, DID you know Injection Nurse is an actual job title? I am horrified beyond all imaginings.

And now, I justify my tacky blog entry and lack of discretion! Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain...watch instead my waving hands as I turn what could have been a SERIOUS breach of propriety into a public service announcement:

I only REALLY posted this risqué overshare to, uh, ENCOURAGE all ladies over 40 to call YOUR CV and schedule a mammogram! It is the right thing to do. If you are in your thirties, a baseline mammogram taken NOW can really help a tech spot changes EARLY, and early detection = WIN. CALL TODAY!

Peace out.

Posted by joshilyn at 11:30 AM | Comments (35)

June 24, 2009

We Interrupt This Blog to Wet Our Pants (In a ladylike way, of course)

Oh hi.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming just made the 7/7/09 New York Times Bestseller list.

This is my FIRST time to ever ever ever get even a toehold there. I am just...fancy. I am fancy.

Dear EVERYONE at Grand Central who read the manuscript and said, OH YES I LOVE THIS let's make it a lead title and get the cover JUST right and make sure the handsellers know about it and sell it to the Germans and spread the word,

Dear beautiful Handsellers who read the ARC and and the hardback and liked it enough to want to put it into the hands of readers and say, THIS ONE, YOU WANT THIS,

Dear Dear Best Beloveds who bought the book for themselves and their moms and siblings and best friends, who chose it for their book clubs, who talked about it with their friends and on their blogs and facebook pages and who liked it enough to go on review sites and say so...

Thank you.

The only thing, THE ONLY THE ONLY THING, that gets a book into the hands of readers is word of mouth. The only thing that works is...ya'll. The folks listed above, who read it and liked it enough to want to share it.

This is just a very good day for me. Because of you. Because of you. Because of you. Thank you SO FREAKING STINKING WEEPING CHAMPAGNE DRINKING MUCH.

Posted by joshilyn at 5:55 PM | Comments (66)

June 23, 2009

Picture Pages Part Whatever: A Blog in Images

First off, I have to give a shout out to my peeps at Barnes and Noble West, in Madison, Wisconsin. Led by Fearless Jeanne, these SEXY BEASTS have chosen THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING as their hand sell title for July, and can I just say, WISCONSIN? REALLY?

Thank you SO MUCH for dipping the landlocked toes of Wisconsinites into my ghost infested murderous Southern waters. Or well, not landlocked. You guys have some LAKES up there I heard? *grin* I kid, I kid – I lived in the Midwest for seven years, and loved it, but eventually the snows drove me home... I am having a bit of a Sally Field obnoxious THE MIDWEST LIKES ME me moment, but do not worry, Jeanne and co, I am going to TRY to refrain from driving straight north to kiss every blessed hand-selling one of you on the lips.

NOW ONTO THE PICTURES. The first one is titled: That Irony, It Is So Ironic...

Just after I lost my entire AHA international spokesmodel crap-bucket over eating a FRIED fast food breakfast item, and just after my husband comforted me by saying, “Honey, stop. You didn’t eat a BABY,” I go to Kira’s blog, and learn that Mir DID. She totally ate a baby. And yet she still wears size four pants. I KNEW I should have chosen to eat a baby over that wretched chicken biscuit.
mireatsbabies.jpg

This next pic is titled: Fan Girl HOLLAHHHHH!

It is MY book sitting next to a TANA FRENCH book in a Texas Airport. My book is sidling over to Tana French’s book, clutching a note that says, “I like you! Do you like me? Please check one ____yes ___no ___Maybe I have not read you yet.” My book wants to hold hands.
airportGIRL.jpg

This next photo is called: FREE TO GOOD HOME OR LABORATORY TESTING FACILITY

May we discuss BOGGART for a moment. My SCUMBAG auxiliary cat. As you may recall, this is The Year of EVERYTHING BREAKING AT THE SAME *&#(*@#)&# TIME. Our material possessions have decided to band together to try to get us---the original DEBT-O-PHOBIC Dave Ramsey FREAKS---- to accumulate WHOLE HERDS of crippling loans, and they intend to continue to suicide and explode and melt and die in spectacular unfixable ways until that goal is met. THANKS MATERIAL POSSESSIONS!

We already had to replace, in the last 6 months, 2 cars whose repairs would be more than double their value, 2 unfixable melted-hard drive computers, and THREE “we are going to stop flushing to protest the war” toilets. NOW the AC has died---right at the FRONT of a Georgia July, when the afternoons are about 98 degrees ---- and died in such way that the REPAIR would cost more than HALF what the replacement would cost. And all the guys we have out to look are saying the system is 17 years old, and the repair could last a couple of years...or a couple of weeks. NO way to know. SUPER.

How does this relate to the Buttheaded Cat Demon I FEED and allow to poop in a box in my house? Well, you know, my issue with him is that he won’t let me PET him. He ignores me, and hurts my feelings, and rejects me. We have had 4 different Air Conditioner guys come by to give ESTIMATES, and BOGGART has cooed and purred and made Bbbbrrrrrtttting noises and pressed against the legs of EVERY ONE OF THEM. I offered to pack him up in a sack, paper or plastic, their choice, to take along, but all declined. Curses.

To add insult to injury, Scott lay down to read in the baking oppression of our un-air-conditioned sweltering living room...and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED:

lapcat.jpg

He’s never done that before, and Scott was so flummoxed he whipped out his phone and documented the moment, lest when he told the story, I decided to have him drug tested for hallucinogens. Bog has NEVER snoogled with a concious me, NEVER, though I am the girl who drove 2 hours to the Alabama state line to SAVE HIM when a small shelter posted a Craig’s List add saying they would have to put down 42 kittens the next day if someone didn’t come get them. Scott says Bog only did it because it’s SO HOT that the LAST thing anyone wants is a heat-emitting furry object coating ones legs like an alive electric blanket with a gas problem. Also, Boggart pointed the tooting end at Scott’s face. So. Seen in this light, it is a bit more in keeping with his general behavior.

Last pic is called: And Now I Have Arrived.

This KILLED me. I had a library date in Gadsden. A few weeks before I went, the library sprung a BUNCHA roof leaks, and they packed up and temporarily moved to THE GADSDEN MALL. They call the branch “The Mallibrary.” It was cool – I spoke in a big open hallway in front of a department store. We had a good turn-out, and several people who had not come on purpose got caught up in passing and sat done and listened and then went down to the way-cool Gadsden Books-A-Million (they were so nice to me there) to give one of my books a try. YAY.

On the way out of the parking lot, I saw that for the first---and probably last---time in my life, I was on A MALL MARQUEE. Like, in between the Sear’s sale announcement and the TIME AND TEMP. The last line of the message was still UNFOLDING when I took the shot (you know how they animate those messages) but it is readable. HEE! I AM A FEATURED MALL ATTRACTION. Like Dip-N-Dots.
marquee.jpg

Posted by joshilyn at 5:20 PM | Comments (18)

June 22, 2009

The Better-Mint of Minty Me Continues. Fresh! (and contest winners at LAST!)


After the sinking horrors of the fried chicken biscuit affair, and especially with it being on Monday, with Weight Watchers Online pestering me to log my weight every time I go to track half an apple or some Kashi Vive, I found myself sneaking out to visit my illicit lover, The One True Scale. I know I said I was going to stop. And I am. Really. I WILL completely stop, TODAY even, and I did stop today, mostly, just after I toted him up to the One True Bathroom tile and stood on him.

(Aside: Lord it’s a good thing I never tried heroin, because I am not a good addiction-kicker. I am also not a GOOD SCALE HIDER. I always remember exactly where I put him, and I sneak him up the stairs with me for a quick morning tryst more than I care to admit.)

I was horrified to see that, 22 activity points aside, I had gained over a pound. I said a VERY bad word. I got back on. THEN The One True Scale said I had gained 9 pounds. I said 9 VERY VERY BAD words. And I thought, “That is one hella-mighty chicken bizkit!” Then I got back on and he said I weighed 97 pounds.

I was tempted to go ahead and log that on WW just to see if they deployed anorexia intervention teams. But no. I got on it again, and it said Lo. I took this as a direct compliment. THANK YOU! I said. I KNEW IT HAD TO BE LOW! Or at least Lower. But Scott said, no, the whole irritating waffling about and lying was a demand for BATTERIES.

SO I sacrificed a pack of gleaming silver AAA beauties to him, and The One True Scale was pleased. He responded kindly, by telling me that, in fact, I had lost half a pound. Chicken Biscuit or no. YAY. He is back in the garage, and I am back VOWING to concentrate on my HEALTH – remember my health???—and not my VANITY. I am doing this for my heart and my KIDS, not my BUTT and my skinny jeans.

Most days anyway.

I have to tell you, scale angst aside – I feel GOOD. I feel really, really good. This upped exercise regimen, and the way I am eating (chicken biscuits aside), here in week 4 I have more STAMINA and I am rising up perkier than usual. Anyone else noticing a change in ENERGY levels? I feel strong in my body and it’s a cool feeling. Minty cool, even. You?

GOALS:
1) Continue my exercise goal of 4 boot camps a week, plus either 90 minutes on the elliptical or walking the dog or swimming. I am mixing it up a little to stay FUN. Also, the dog likes it.
2) Continue eating FRUITS and veggies FIRST,with every meal, for a minimum of 5 servings a day.
3) Continue to TRACK my food and exercise using the tracking tool I chose.
4) NEW GOAL: Get support by telling at least 5 more people that I am doing Better U, and asking for their help in various ways, including inviting a new friend from Church to go hike with me, and telling the people at an upcoming dinner party not to undermine me if I skip dessert or only have a bite.

REWARD: A new read! I have my family Beach Week in July, and I have 3 books saved to read already. Three will get me to MAYBE Tuesday.

Right now I am reading a FANTASTIC book called In The Woods. Halfway in and I am worse about sneaking off to tryst with it than I am about stealing time with The One True Scale. DYING TO KNOW HOW IT TURNS OUT. If you have read it, PLEASE no spoilers. I despise even mild ones! If I meet my goals, I will pick up the sequel, THE LIKENESS for more Beach-read-y-goodness.

And now, speaking of one of the three books I have in my beach bag already, here are the winners of The Pretend Wife.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
56 -- Posted by Cass at June 18, 2009 3:02 PM
54 -- Posted by Darla at June 18, 2009 2:46 PM
10 -- Posted by Rachel at June 18, 2009 8:56 AM
Timestamp: 2009-06-22 22:22:14 UTC

If this is YOU, send me a snail addy to Joshilyn at joshilyn Jackson period com and I will pass it on to Ms. Asher.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:40 PM | Comments (22)

June 20, 2009

The Bad Bad Chicken

I can’t post winners yet because I am on my laptop, and I can’t cut and paste the comments on it because it is horrible. SO. The contest is CLOSED, and I will roll for winners as soon as I am HOME to do it on a computer that doesn’t make me want to hurl it at a wall. I COULD do it from the laptop, but it would take 20 minutes instead of 3 minutes, and I would cry. OH YES I WOULD.

I’ve had a week. I am so physically TIRED that I am a weepy weepy sack of weep. Instead of simply biting off more than I could chew, I unhinged my whole jaw like a natural born python and swallowed a WHOLE elephant. If you have ever been on Weight Watcher’s, you will understand how OVER I have done it when I tell you that I have earned---COUTING CONSERVATIVELY MIND YOU---at least 22 activity points on WW in 5 days. Ten points of it on Wednesday.

I taught 5 PE classes a day in VBS, had a good friend in from out of town, and have done four bootcamps, two hikes, waterskiing, a swim across a lake and then a swim back, the last half pulling an exhausted third grader who hung like a sack of rocks in his life coat. I. AM. TIRED. My whole body hurts.

I say all this not only to whine and have you kindly pet my hair (although, to be brutally honest, that’s a factor *grin*) but to put the following event in a CONTEXT of I AM SO FREAKIN TIRED.

On the LAST day of VBS, I got up, ate half an apple and some Kashi Vive, and headed to church. ALL WEEK, I virtuously SHUNNED the teacher snack table, which was laden with hydrogenated oil muffins and grocery store fakey-cakey donuts. I am NOT wasting calories on stuff with no nutritional value that doesn’t even taste good. One day, someone brought it HOMEMADE MONKEY BREAD with toasted pecans. Oh hellsya, I had a small piece, but I tracked it and did not feel even a tick bad. I am trying as part of BETTER U to not eat stuff just because it is THERE, but instead choose to indulge in a reasonable portion of my very most favorites, so a treat feels like a real treat.

BUT FRIDAY---I was SO tired, and someone brought in sacks and sacks of fried chicken biscuits. I don’t care about them that much. Almost all fast food leaves me cold. AND YET! My tired eyes, already glazed, positively frosted over, and a chicken-eating brain worm that had been living here-to-fore undiscovered in my spine shot control tendrils up into my brain and I sat there EATING FRIED CHICKEN IN A BISCUIT, trying to stop after every bite and not stopping.

Finally I made myself get up and walk away. I felt stuffed and logey and unhappy. I called Scott, almost in tears and blubbered out my BRAIN WORM fried chicken story, wail wail, and then went RIGHT to abusing myself for my lack of self control and etc. I would probably STILL be sitting there fussing and blessing myself out if he had not interrupted me.

Me: And I just SAT there, like a big DUMMY and I ATE IT, I ATE the fried CHICKEN, WHY WOULD I EAT THAT?

Scott: Honey. Stop. Stop. You ate a piece of fried chicken. You didn’t eat a BABY.

THAT made me laugh and I got over myself a little. I asked him about the plan for this weekend (He is GOLFING with my dad while I do a library date in Gadsden) and he was going over the schedule, and he ended it on some kind of QUESTION and I didn’t hear because I was trying to calculate fat grams.

Scott: Joss? Are you listening?

Me: Oops. No.

Scott: Were you back obsessing about that stupid biscuit?

Me: Yes. I was just thinking about the fat grams, and in retrospect, it might have been a better choice to go ahead and eat the baby.

Scott. …Well. You’ll know next time.

Posted by joshilyn at 1:09 PM | Comments (25)

June 18, 2009

3Q with Bridget Asher (and a contest!)

I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on THE PRETEND WIFE ever since I was so thoroughly charmed by Bridget Asher’s fierce and funny MY HUSBAND’S SWEETHEARTS last year.

Asher (a pen name of Julianna Baggott) writes the kind of books I like best: fast-paced, hopeful, sometimes funny, sometimes wrenching, and the layers are there if you want them. They are re-readers, meant to be first gobbled up guiltlessly at the beach while sipping a fruity beverage, and then read again for the underbook, which has plenty of fodder for thought (and book club discussions). I’ve already got THE PRETEND WIFE in my beach bag to take to Destin in a couple of weeks.

If YOU want it in YOUR beach back --- in signed first edition form, no less – just leave a comment on this blog entry before MIDNIGHT EST Friday, June 19th, and we will let the cruel and capricious gods of Random choose three winners. Contest rules are here, shamelessly PIRATED from my friend Miriam. Here’s the skinny on the book:

What would life be like with the one who got away? For Gwen Merchant, love has always been doled out in little packets—from her father, a marine biologist who buried himself in work after her mother’s death; and from her husband, Peter, who’s always been respectable and safe. But when an old college boyfriend, the irrepressible Elliot Hull, invites himself back into Gwen’s life, she starts to remember a time when love was an ocean.

What does Elliot want? In fact, he has a rather surprising proposition: he wants Gwen to become his wife. His pretend wife. Just for a few days. To accompany him to his family’s lake house for the weekend so that he can fulfill his dying mother’s last wish. Reluctantly Gwen agrees to play along—with her husband Peter’s full support. It’s just one weekend—what harm could come of it?

But as Gwen is drawn into Elliot’s quirky, wonderful family—his astonishingly wise and open mother, his warm and welcoming sister, and his adorable, precocious niece—she starts questioning everything she’s ever expected from love. And as she begins to uncover a few secrets about her own family, it suddenly looks like a pretend relationship just might turn out to be the most real thing she’s ever known.

ashercover.jpg

JJ: You’ve said that you sometimes feel like a pretend wife yourself. What does that term mean to you and how does the novel relate to your own life?

BA: The Pretend Wife tells the story of a woman who’s been married for three years and then runs into her college boyfriend – the charming and irrepressible Elliot Hull -- who works his way back into her life.

If you went back in time – circa the late 80s, early 90s – and found me and my college girlfriends in a bar called Gators in Baltimore – which, frankly wouldn’t be that hard to do as we spent most of our time there – and asked us to pick the least likely to get married, I’d have probably won. (Well, there’s this one other friend who went on to date two Olympiads and had already broken up with a wealthy Brit who was older than her father by this point. She might have beaten me, but I’d have been in the top two.) I found it hard to invest in long-term relationships. I might have been kind of impaired – an emotional A.D.D. type. I sometimes broke up with guys without even realizing I was doing it. Maybe I suffered from a form of break-up specific Tourrettes.

In all honestly, I never thought I’d get married. I was pretty sure that once my friends moved on, I’d hole up in my parents’ attic and be a spinster writer, a post-virginal Emily Dickinson. I’d write about flies.

And so it was a shock to everyone that I fell madly in love with Dave, was engaged in a couple months, married in less than a year – at twenty-three. This seems insanely young now. In fact, I’ve recently taken to referring to myself as having been a child bride. Marrying Dave was spontaneous, reckless, and it would have been stupid, except that it works.

I still feel like a pretend wife, honestly. I often think about my marriage as Gwen does in the book -- in very abstract terms. Dave and I both often hold it at arm’s length like scientists studying the mating patterns of prairie dogs – which, in fact, are monogamous. What is marriage? How does it work? How does it fail? What do we need from each other? What do we want and fear? And in what ways a real marriage make us whole?

(As for the character of Elliot Hull, he’s a conglomerate. The argument of whether Gwen slapped Elliot in a bar or simply grabbed his face very hard is an important argument in the novel – and one that I had with an old flame, a decade after the event. We still stay in touch. I still claim I slapped him, and he still says I only grabbed his face, hard. This is an ongoing point of contention.)

asherHS.jpg

JJ: Did the novel require a lot of research?

Sometimes you set out to write something that you know is going to require a lot of research. Other times, you wander in, whistling a little tune, ready to write about matters of the heart, things that will require digging around in the murky waters of your own past, yes, your own psychological silt, but not having to sort through the dusty archives of Special Collections. But then you’re unwittingly seized by a need to know many things you never thought you’d need to know – things you didn’t know that you didn’t know. This was the happy go lucky wandering into, whistling a tune, kind of novel that turned on me …

For this novel, I researched the verbalizations of fish. Yes, how fish communicate to each other. I had no idea that fish talk when I began the novel, but they do. A lot. I know this, and now you know. Some of you may even remember the National Geographic that came to your house in 1979 that included a flimsy record of endangered humpback whales, singing. That little tidbit, for example, surfaces in the novel.

I also had to research Otis Redding, ice cream (okay, that wasn’t mandatory, but I really wanted to nail the details), updates to Baltimore’s cityscape, house staging, nesting eagles, things regurgitated by owls, bridges, gustnadoes (like tornadoes but smaller), and edible flowers. I did not eat edible flowers, but I did eat plenty of ice cream – all research-related. Trust me.

JJ: I have eaten the edible flowers. I would eat them again. You should go RE-research that, focusing heavily on candied violets. Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

BA: If you write a novel entitled The Pretend Wife and in that novel a marriage gets, well, let’s say upended by the appearance of an old flame and if you’ve embedded little true specks from your own life – even if heavily mixed in with lots of stuff of the imagination – and you do NOT dedicate the book to your husband, you’re not a good person. It’s pretty straightforward. And you’re an especially bad person if your husband is truly the love of your life and you just kind of forgot to mention him. There will be coal on your anniversary – well-deserved coal. And so, for many, many reasons, I have dedicated this book to my husband Dave, real as real can be …

Posted by joshilyn at 7:01 AM | Comments (115)

June 17, 2009

VBS: Today’s theme word is SCREEEEEEE!

I am running recreation at VBS this year. (That’s Vacation Bible School, for non-Southern, non-Christians, and every southern Christian family, from the devout to the Holly-Lilies who drive through church on Christmas and Easter, send their kids to one. It’s like SUPER cheap day camp with Jesus, and we are ALL about it in the South.

There was something in the job description about nurturing young somethings and infusing them with...something, but I feel like my ACTUAL job is “get the mulligans out.” That means that I sit in my church’s gym sporting a sweaty pigtail, and every 30 minutes a large group of children comes to me directly after snack, all sugared up on pudding and vanilla wafers. I tell them some rules for a game, and the rules are different, but the game is VERY VERY similar.

Every game I have chosen or invented involves RUNNGINGRUNNINGRUNNING up and down the gym and SCREAMINGSCREAMINGSCREAMING as they run. In fact, If I had had NO planning time, I could have ditched all the team choosing and shenanigans with bean bags and hula hoops and simply said “LETS PLAY RUN UP AND DOWN THE GYM WHILE SCREAMING! GO!” They churn the air until it is as thick as butter, and they leave my station sweaty and grinning and with a little of the edge off, ready to maybe sit and maybe even LISTEN to the next teacher.

Most jobs in VBS involve helping group after group of hyper kids who have NOT been to gym yet glue macaroni to paper (and the walls, and each other) and then you sing the MARCH IN THE INFANTRY song and send them on. The last 4 VBS’s I did, I ran the nursery, with its attendant grumpy babies and DIAPERS, which, once you get PAST diapers you really do not want to go BACK...

I never really liked VBS before. It was a thing I did because, you know, I had kids, and they LOVE it, and if you don’t get enough volunteers, it does not go. In fact, last year, it coincided with my beach vacation, and I tried to look sad about missing it while my eyes gleamed with unquenchable mirth. BUT THIS? Recreation? I REALLY like this job. I am having SUPER fun. Seriously. I want this job every year. I am trying to pee around it in a circle and mark it as my territory.

The stories I will take away from here, plus the extra calories I am burning, make it PERFECT for me. My favorite story so far? The one I am going to be telling in bars for the next ten years?

Yesterday, with the second graders, I was trying to explain the rules to “Have you eve asked a _____ for a _____” (You put kids sitting in a circle on tape exes, with one less X than you have kids. Each kid asks a question in that form – Have you ever asked your mom for a trip to Six Flags?, for example, --- any kid who answers yes has run around the gym. Screaming. And try to get to a new tape X. The last kid standing, the one with no tape X, asks the next question.)

While I was trying to explain the rules, the big-eyed, muppet-headed, floppy-haired darling boy child started tugging at my sleeve.
“Just a sec,” I told him. I kept on explaining rules, or trying to, when he tugged again.
“Hold on,” I said,” and soldiered on.
I was almost done, when he tugged a third time, and when I glanced at him, his big eyes were shining with desperation. He REALLY needed to tell me something. I suddenly realized this might involve a toilet and a genuine emergency, so I told the other 26 kids to hang on, turned to him, and gave him my full attention.
“What do you need?” I said, softly and kindly, and he fairly GLOWED with relief to have my attention focused on his important message.
“Your nose is big!’ he said. “Like Pinocchio’s!”

There was a brief pause, during which SEVERAL responses RACED through my head and were rejected. My favorite ---the ONLY one I had a hard time NOT saying, was to shake my head in a sorrowful manner and intone in a low, grave voice, “Sometimes bears come up from hell and eat little rude children. It’s in the Bible”*

In the end I said, “Okay! I need to finish the rules now!” and moved on. HEE! It did make me pause and wonder what my own loud and overshare-y little children were saying to THEIR teachers.

*Yes, yes, I know the bears in Second Kings did not COME UP FROM HELL to eat the naughty little children, but...it would be a better story if they DID.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:29 AM | Comments (22)

June 16, 2009

Better tUesday (and better late than never)

I would like some whine with my low-fat cheese, if you do not mind: Our AIR CONDITIONER DIED. Yes, died. In a Georgia June that decided on the day of the ACs demise to stop pretending it was May and start frontin’ like AUGUST. The kicker is, my friend Amy-Go comes in town today with her three boys, and I have a COOKOUT scheduled at my house---5 adults and ten children coming over to swelter and eat grilled meats and squashes. SUPER.

In BETTER news, I have I made my goals last week, and now I get a Land’s End Swim Suit. YAY. Also, as I mentioned before, the SLOW movement of the scale is bothering my motivation, so I put it away (mostly). It’s HARD to break up with your scale. I keep SNEAKING off to have illicit little TRYSTS with it. Even when I hide it way down in the garage. And then it says BAD things to me, so I slip it under my bathrobe and run it upstairs, firm in my belief that One True Scale only speaks truth when it is resting on the One True Bathroom Tile (one over from the sink, two back from the wall). OH! SCALE! I WISH I COULD QUIT YOU!

I was WHINING about my SLOW scale progress and my inability to stop peaking to my friend Amy. Not Amy-go. This is Amy-Boot-Camp. Amy-BC told me to MEASURE instead---I did so yesterday, and HELLO! I’ve lost more than in inch in my waist in the first 2 weeks pf Better U. BETTER WAIST! THAT makes me feel better about the stupid scale. Which can STAY in the garage. For now. Probably.


I am KEEPING my same goals (Veg/fruit FIRST with every meal/snack and 4 boot camps and 90 Elliptical minutes this week) and, per the advice of the Better Me Coaching Tool, this week I am going to TRACK. Those are my goals. If I eat it, or if I...bounce on it until my heartrate goes up, I will log it. By the way, that tool? It can start your 12 week program ANY WEEK you want, so even though we are on week three, you can get the tool and start your own program next week---you have NOT missed thew window. Better You Opportunities are like subway trains or the boyfriends of those Sex in the City chicks... Another will be along in juuuuuust a minute.

The AHA has a printable paper tracker you can use, and an online tool called MyStart! Online Tracker. If those do not float yer wagon train across the river, I googled “fitness food exercise online tracker” and got a good twenty options to pop up immediately.

I myself am going to SHELL OUT for Weight Watchers online, because I KNOW how to use their systems and can thus avoid having to LEARN anything. I don’t want to learn to use another tracking system when I already know how to work one. *burp* My brain is full. If I try to make my old, full brain learn a new system, I will NEVER be able to learn Japanese. That’s just logic.

PPZcover.jpg

Between the Lands End Swim Suit and joining WW to get that tracker, I need a CHEAP reward this week...How about this: IF I track track track all week like a good, good pack of hound dogs chasing criminal brownies, I will skip all the reading/work/crap I am SUPPOSED to do and give myself two or three hours on Sunday afternoon to crack open my hot, fresh copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that Scott got me as a present in San Antonio. It’s the Jane Austen classic, now infused with “ultraviolent zombie mayhem.”

I’m in.


Posted by joshilyn at 7:42 AM | Comments (14)

June 14, 2009

OFFstar (and contest results)

You know I LOVE me some ON star. It came with the Good Cat, and those crafty ONstarians, they are like crack dealers in the schoolyard, telling me the first hit is free. I already wonder how I shall ever do without them when the trial is over…

But they started doing something that I THOUGHT might make it easier. Usually when the ONstar call is over, they say, “Have a great day, and thanks for using ONstar.” FINE. But then, a couple of weeks ago, they CHANGED their log off. Some Safe-tier than-thou wienerhead in the upper echelons of ONstar decision making decided that he should force the employees to sign off by saying, “Have a great day, DON’T FOR GET TO BUCKLE UP FOR SAFETY! And thanks for using ONstar.”

They said it every time. They HAD to say it. But VERY often you could hear the STRAIN of fake-enthusiasm or apologetic embarrassment in their tones.

Since I recently confessed that my BIGGEST pet peeve is being corrected when I am NOT wrong, you can IMAGINE how charmed I was to sit, cradled safe in the arms of my already properly fastened seat belt, and have a disembodied car voice remind me I should BUCKLE UP FOR SAFETY. Also NEVERMIND that the vast majorities of cars equipped with ONstar are newer models, and they come standard with those smart (and smart-ass) seats that beep with incessant shrill beepings should you start the engine without the driver’s belt engaged.

It made me want to go FIND whatever stiff-spined pucker-butt-mouthed disapproving rabbit of an ONstar exec thought this was a good idea. In my fantasy I would pop foaming and google-eyed into his office and shriek, ”DON’T FORGET TO NOTMAKE ME WANT TO PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE! FOR SAFETY!”

And then I would punch him in the face.
So he could see how very unsafe it is to forget to not want to make me do that.

I really. Really. Really. Hated. it, but I didn’t; want to take my irritation out on the kindly ONstar voice who was giving me DIRECTIONS, especially since I am POSITIVE they did not rise up as a unit and ASK to remind everyone they talked to to buckle up. Like MOST poo, this came from above and rolled downhill. But at the same time, I SO HATED it. I could not let it rest, and eventually I came up with a response. For the last two weeks, my conversations with ONstarians have ended thusly:

ONstarian: Have a great day, DON’T FOR GET TO BUCKLE UP FOR SAFETY!

Me: Thanks! And don’t YOU forget to eat five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day!

*pause*

ONstarian: *sometimes puzzled, but mostly giggling* Thanks for using ONstar!

Either this was a timed event in conjunction with some sort of national safety week or the like, OR I was not the ONLY unamused person. As of 10 days ago, the helpful advice about seatbelts has been bud-nipped, and I like to think I had a small part in indicating a high negative customer response to the initiative (And don’t you just KNOW the smugwump who instigated it called it an INITIATIVE! Gurgle.)

OKAY – contest winners. The gods of Random favored the early comments this time. Perhaps those of you who commented the second day presented a less-than-blameless white dove? with gray tipped wings, perhaps? Or a cracked beak?

The following commenters need to send me a SNAIL MAIL ADDY (Joshilyn at Joshilyn Jackson dot com) and I will have the publisher get your books RIGHT out to you.

Here are your random numbers:
5 (Posted by Susanvl at June 11, 2009 9:49 AM)
25 (Posted by Pamela L at June 11, 2009 1:07 PM)
33 (Posted by Jill W. at June 11, 2009 1:47 PM)
Timestamp: 2009-06-14 19:05:34 UTC

OH – several people have asked how I find these authors for 3Q. Well, a couple of ways. If I read a book, and I REALLY like it, I google the author for contact info and e-mail them or their publicist. Also sometimes publishers send me books, and if I REALLY like them, I will contact the author or publisher and invite them. OR if I notice a writer whose other books I have really enjoyed has a new book out, I will google and email and ask them. Very simple. I just ask….worst case scenario, they don’t havew time, and I just ask someone else. I read a lot.
And I have two more interviews and contests lined up for the rest of June, so if Random Number Generator spat upon your soup this time, perhaps next time he will love you better…

Posted by joshilyn at 3:36 PM | Comments (21)

June 11, 2009

3Q with Tess Callahan (and a contest)

We will once again steal Mir’sContest Rules but the SHORT version is, leave a single comment by midnight EST on Friday, and three of you will win a first edition copy of Tess Callahan’s dark and lovely debut novel, April and Oliver.

aprilandolliver.jpg

I just finished this a couple of weeks ago, and I really, really, really liked it. It’s the story of two childhood friends whose lives are re-entangled after the death of April’s brother, Buddy. Intense April chooses self-destructive relationships while Oliver, a happily engaged law student, seems to have it all together. I found it to be…sexually fraught with a tricky undertow to it, so it was constantly pulling me to places that I didn’t see it going. It’s beautifully written and ultimately hopeful, and I put it on my reread shelf because it’s so nicely layered, and yet I had to know what would happen so I read through the first time very quickly.

Library Journal says, “Callahan spins a dark, gritty tale of love, yearning and choices while presenting engaging characters and substantial action that packs more than a few punches. Wise beyond words."

JJ: Your main character, April, seems to be nothing like you. After all, you are a mother and teacher with a stable life, and she is a bartender who gravitates toward dangerous men. What DO you have in common or, if nothing, how did you manage to inhabit shoes so different from your own?

TC: True, April is impulsive and I am cautious. She fills up a room with her presence and I have a tendency to disappear. She provokes conflict and I avoid it. Nevertheless, we have things in common. Our fathers both tended bar, although the fictional Bede, April’s father, did it for a living, whereas my dad did it as a second job on Saturday mornings at an old-timers’ neighborhood pub. Unlike April’s father, mine was gentle, kindhearted, and together with my mother, gave my siblings and me a stable upbringing. Like April, I spent time with my dad at the bar, just hanging out with my Shirley Temple. I spent more time in bars under the age of ten than I have since.

Also, I share April’s appetite for reading. Many of the books strewn around her apartment are ones I myself have taken an interest in.

Lastly, I understand that kind of bottomed-out self esteem that says: Any guy who is too nice to me must have something wrong with him. Fortunately, I got over that. There’s hope for April, too.

Oliver is closer to my personality. He so wants to do the right thing, but sometimes is out of touch with his inner compass. I loved art and writing as a kid, but never considered them as career choices. On the surface, they just seemed too impractical. Deep down, I think the prospect of harnessing my own creative power was too terrifying. Who knew where it might lead me? Instead, I got a master’s degree in education and taught English abroad. It wasn’t a bad decision, since it allowed me to travel. But even then, I couldn’t keep myself from writing and sketching in my journals. Thank God for that, because disowning your own power doesn’t mean it goes away, it just means it exists without a driver, like a runaway car. Oliver repressed his intuitive, nonlinear self, which made catastrophe not only inevitable, but necessary for him.

tesscallahan.jpg

JJ: A lot of writers read this blog. How did you sell your book?

TC: I have collected enough rejection letters to make a bonfire. To boot, I never handled them well. They are always so disappointing. But the truth is that over the years I sent many things out before they were ready, and it took me time to hone my skills. I don’t really regret that, because failure can be an enormous teacher. I gave up on the idea of publishing, and discovered that I am a good teacher and could draw a great deal of satisfaction from that.

Nevertheless, I kept writing because it is what I do. I worked on April & Oliver on and off for years, periodically stuffing it in a drawer for long stretches. It was my good friend, novelist Sasha Troyan, who encouraged me to haul the manuscript out one more time. Having been away from it for so long, I reread the manuscript with a blend of satisfaction and horror. Because so much time had passed, and because I myself had changed, (the stretching effect of parenthood), I could clearly see what rang true and what did not. It was as if I was reading someone else’s manuscript, and knew precisely what to fix. When I was satisfied, I sent it to agent Anne Edelstein, who sold it in two days. In short, I sold my book thanks to the badgering of my writing group, as well as a good deal of luck, and a lot of stubborn persistence.


JJ: What is the relationship between writing and motherhood like for you?

TC: On the surface, it appears that the huge demands of parenting compete with writing. Certainly, I would have more time to write if I were not a mother. I thrive on having chunks of time in which to immerse myself in a manuscript, but as all parents know, dealing with interruption is part of the job description.

Nevertheless, I feel that parenthood has made me a better writer. My children keep me grounded in the here and now. If I ever start veering toward fluff or dishonesty in my stories, I only need to hear my daughter talk about her school day, or watch my son feed his turtle, to know what is real and true. Parenthood pushes and pulls you through a wide range of human experience, which can only deepen your well as a writer.

JJ: That's interesting to me... Motherhood changed my writing. I think my work was somewhat colder, less connected, less empathetic and certainly less hopeful before I had kids. But you are correct, I had a lot more time to WRITE then...Thanks for a great book, and for stopping by FTK. I look forward to reading whatever you do next.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:48 AM | Comments (82)

June 10, 2009

Contest Winners

Karen Abbott was mightily impressed by Jezebel.

Karen: It is the best scarecrow I have ever seen.

Me: I believe you. I also believe every other scarecrow you have ever seen was sporting a Punkinhead and eating teenagers.

MEANWHILE, contest results. If you did not win, fret not – I have a a brand new 3Q with an author whose book I just finished and really enjoyed lined up for tomorrow morning, complete with prizes. So. If you are listed below, the Random Number Generator likes you best. Some people do screen shots but I don’t know how on this new comp yet, so you will have to trust me. I just use the random roller and do what it says. I am a slave to math like that. Here is the cut and paste:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
14
53
90
Timestamp: 2009-06-10 20:34:03 UTC
And the winners are
14) kris at June 6, 2009 11:45 AM
53) Posted by Tracy at June 7, 2009 9:52 AM
90) Posted by shawn at June 9, 2009 10:59 AM
If the three of you would please email me your snail addies I will get those right out, probably on Friday.

AND for contest part two, the winners were:

Carrie of Carrie On Baggage and
Sharon of “I have no link for you as she posted on facebook and you can’t see it if you are not her facebook peep.” Whew, Glad that is not actually a blog, as the title would be a little cumbersome.

THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!

Posted by joshilyn at 5:04 PM | Comments (4)

June 9, 2009

The Garden that Love Built; The Scarecrow that Crack Built

(Psst. Don’t forget, BOTH of the contests to win free books end tonight at Midnight EST.)

My blog, Faster Than Kudzu, is the natural habitat of all things hyperbolic. An understatement is a rare and welcome creature, so brace yourself, Bridget, I see a shy little understatement peeking over the wall. Oh, look. He came in. See him? He’s hiding on the other side of the semi-colon; I do not like to garden.

To give you an idea how under this statement truly is, I shall reveal to you that my facebook peeps and I recently played around with a HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW ME quiz app. One of the questions on my quiz was

2) Which of these loathesome things do I like best?
a) Maggots
b) Yogurt
c) Gardening
d) Roaches
e) Dentist's Chairs

All those things are loathsome to me, but the correct answer, the LEAST loathesome of all those loathsome things would in fact be A) Maggots. Most people guessed gardening, but no. I actually have nothing particular against maggots, and many particular and sincere hatreds associated with gardening. As a child, when naughty, a common punishment was weeding. Now, when I crouch in a garden, my stomach muscles tighten, and I begin to feel I have been a very bad girl. (Not in the good way.)

Also I don’t like vines or vine-like plants like squash plants with thick leaves because I am absolutely sure there are roaches in them, lurking about, hoping to leap onto my hands with their rustle-y roach feet and run straight up my arm. Also, plants turn brown and die in my house, and this hurts my feelings. And I purely hate HAIRY LEAVES. They shouldn’t be. It makes me suspect they SWEAT. I do not want to touch hairy sweaty leaves…You see how it is?

But at the same time, I WANT to not loathe gardening, because last year Scott and I became Communist Presbyterians and our church is currently growing a vegetable garden and donating the produce. Putting in a vegetable garden is such a pragmatic, un-aesthetic thing to do to a church yard, and it is SO EXACTLY like this church and the people there it is pretty much a tangible metaphor for who they are---who we are---as a community.

The garden is emblematic of the reason we dubbed it the Communist Presbyterian Church the first time we visited. (Communist Presbyterianism is not ACTUALLY a denomination. As far as I know.) It’s a pet name. It took about 67 minutes of being there before we fell in love with every single Pinko in the building. We visited ONCE and haven’t missed a week since, because we wanted to be better people ourselves just from the being around them.

This little community---they have ideas. They say things to each other, things like, “Hey, we have all this LAWN, maybe we should use it to grow organic produce for folks who don’t get a lot of fresh veggies….” Then other people rally round and start getting fencing and seeds and putting the time in until it ACTUALLY HAPPENS. That’s why we’re there. In a bigger sense, I believe that’s why we are here. So.

It makes me wish I didn’t loathe gardening.

I went to see Mary, one of the women who has made the garden happen, basically to tell her how COOL I think she is, and she tried to enlist me into the ranks of the rake-holders. There I could not go. I said, “I really would rather be baked and eaten by file-toothed Morlocks, but, that said, is there anything ELSE that is not actual gardening I could do to help the garden?”

Her eyebrows raised and she said, “Can you make a scarecrow?”
And I, clearly poisoned by the secret wad of crack a demented barrista must have slipped into my latte, forgot that I am NOT crafty or mechanically or constructionally inclined, and said, “Sure I can!”

So, this week I made a scarecrow.
She is very very scary, I will say that.
She has demonic goat ears, trampy pink lipstick, pigtails, broad shoulders, long apelike arms, and no feet. She is held together via prayer, yarn, staples and an indecent amount of duct tape.
Her name is Jezebel:

scarecrow%20kids.jpg

The kids helped a LOT. They learned very little about how actual, well constructed scarecrows are made, but on the plus side, I am willing to bet that their here-to-fore profanity-limited vocabularies have really benefitted from listening to me try to make the freakin’ hands stick on. But we got her done and today we went by church and our friend Robert helped us ground her.

It is my dear and worthy hope that she does not fall into chunks before this growing season is over.

It is my dear and worthy OTHER hope that she puts many crows directly into terrorized therapy, so that the beans can peacefully and far-from-me do whatever it is they do on their creepy, hairy-leafed, roach-coated, loathsome vines.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:10 AM | Comments (25)

June 8, 2009

The One True Scale’s Application for Deity Turned Down: Film at 11


If I gave myself a grade for the first half of last week’s GO RED challenge, I think it would be an E. E for EPIC! FAIL! I claim oral surgery as a SUPREMELY valid excuse. You cannot eat salad with stitches in your tongue. You know what you CAN eat? Ice cream. Also, mashed potatoes. Soup was not manageable, but nice, creamy BISQUES worked juuuuust fine.

You know what else you cannot do? You can’t work out on opiates. Ever see a movie with an opium den in it? I just watched a movie in which Johnny “Yum” Depp is being led by a slinky lady to a cushiony pillow pile beside a hookah in a dim room. Yeah. I did not see any treadmills in that opium den scene, nor medicine balls. Very few racks of free weights. There is a reason for this. It is a side-effect of opiates called “Extreme Droopyness.”

I spent Monday, Tuesday and most of Wednesday lying in bed, riding a dragon named Lortab, and watching UNFORGIVEABLE television. I make a lot of fun of CSI Miami, but I realize I only thought it was a bad show because I had never actually SEEN what a bad show looks like. While on the opiates, I lost the remote and could not dredge enough energy up from the depths of Extreme Droopiness to search the bedclothes, so I just put my glassy gaze on whatever came on next. Wow. Hours and hours of The Real Housewives of Someplace Glamorous, and Millionaire Matchlady, and a Fashion contest thing that was EMPHATICALLY not project Runway, and The Real Housewives of Somewhere Else. Good lord, I was appalled by the behavior, horrified and chilled by the casual meanness and OVERSHARING, and yet I could not look away....

By Thursday, I was SO bored, and my jaw was starting to feel CLENCHED. I rose from the bed, unsaddled Lortab to take ride with my old friend Motrin. If I hadn’t already PRE-given myself my reward, I would have earned it Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I ate many soft, mild fruits like cantaloupe and bananas. I replaced the mashed potatoes with South Beach Mashed Potatoes, topped with some parmesan cheese (which makes a huge difference IMO and STILL better for you than buttered potatoes.) I went to two boot camps and rode my elliptical twice. I put ALL the leftover ice cream down the gullets of the herd of almost-pubescent boys that came galloping through my kitchen on some sort of Pokemon fueled mission. Almost-pubescent boys are like BLACK FOOD HOLES– you can put ANY food-like items down them, in any amount, and they gallop away and back and clamor for more. I got myself some sugar-free popsicles and these low-fat ice milk pop things called SKINNY COWS.

This morning, I got up, and as I sidled toward the One True Scale, I realized I was having a very HEY VANNA! SHOW US WHAT SHE’S WON! kind of moment. I wanted to get on the scale, because the SECRET under this HOLY LIGHT of HEALTHY LIVING I am smugly exuding is this simple truth: I want to get back in my skinny jeans. I want that MORE IMMEDIATELY and MORE OVERTLY than I want to “not drop dead of heart disease." Not dropping dead seems theoretical. My skinny jeans are immediate and REAL.

I realized, too, that if I got on the scale and it had not MOVED, or if it had moved wrongfully UP, I would SERIOUSLY lose motivation.

Wow. NOT GOOD.

I decided not to weigh myself today. In fact, I put the ONE TRUE SCALE away under the sink. Poor OTS! It is probably terrified there in the dark, all shut in. It’s never BEEN away before. It is used to me communing reverently with it each and every morning, and taking its mystical answer to my eternal question as a basis for the how the WHOLE rest of my day is going to feel. NO MORE! I am not releasing it from cabinet-jail until I have my priorities on straight. Or STRAIGHTER. I am not going to base my rewards (or my value as a person) on a NUMBER on a scale. I am, instead, going to concentrate on treating my body like the freakin’ temple it is, and base my rewards on THAT…

If your scale is moving too slowly and that slowness is sabotaging you---and remember---exercising is going to build muscle, so you may lose INCHES more than you lose pounds--- consider putting it away and concentrating on other parts of the program.

GOAL TIME – got your goals, rewards, barriers and strategies planned? Share in the comments, please, so I can “borrow” your goals and rewards when I need some next week.

MY GOALS: Adapt three regular recipes I love---1) Meatloaf with 2) Mashed Potatoes, and 3) Crock Pot Chicken and Grits casserole---to be heart healthier. I will be lowering butter content, invetsing in more Land o Lakes fat free half and half, changing out ground beef for low fat ground turkey, etc.

I will go to FOUR Boot Camps and paddle my Elliptical for 90 minutes (in 2 or 3 sessions, not 90 minutes at once...)

MY BARRIERS: My husband is out of town all week. I am not motivated to cook---I want to make easy things like frozen pizza or eat fast food. I have added stress because he is not here to help me wrangle my mutant children, who have already lost their INDOOR VOICES. They are on SUMMER volume, which is So. Much. Louder. than School year volume.

MY STRATEGIES: I will make many, many plans with FRIENDS this week. The plans will be centered around an activity, not a food thing like LUNCH or GET ICE CREAM. My plans involve swimming and hiking and parks and running in sprinklers. I get adult conversation, which lowers my stress, I get out of the house, and my kids have fun and get TIRED and maybe turn their evening volumes down a few decibels.

I will make easy crock pot dinners so I don’t hit 6 o’clock and feel to tired to cook but NOT too tired to drive to DQ for Chili Cheese Dogs and Blizzards.

MY REWARDS: Swimsuit season is UPON ME, and I have not bought a new suit in three years. Mine are all sprung. If I do all this, ALL, I will get a fancy and expensive (and hopefully flattering) new bathing suit from Land’s End instead of going to Kohl’s and picking one up off the sales rack.

Need more? My links page (in the sidebar under the thumbnail of THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING) has quite a few POSSE PEEPS who are Better Uing. And don't forget, Tomorrow is Better Tuesday at MamaLaw...
   

Posted by joshilyn at 10:42 AM | Comments (19)

June 6, 2009

Three Q with Me and You

Finally, The CONTEST I promised, what? 2 weeks ago. You can win pink socks! Ok, not really. But you can win an autographed copy of the poppin-fresh The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

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There are two ways to win. The first way is the standard…we will steal all the official rules directly from my bargain-queen friend Mir over at Want Not, but the basics are, you leave a comment on this entry before midnight, Tuesday June 9th and you are automatically entered in a random drawing to win one of three signed copies. If you already bought The Girl Who Stopped Swimming then
A) You are so pretty. I LOVE your hair. Let’s hold hands and skip through this meadow together, singing.
B) You can give that one away and have a signed one for your own sassy self, or
C) You ask for your signed one to be made out to someone else for a birthday or thank you gift, or signed plain for an emergency OH CRAP I FORGOT TO GET A GIFT gift.

There is also a second way to win. (This is an EXPERIMENT, and we will see how it goes.) If you help Spread the Word that TGWSS is out in paperback to your Internetsian Peeps via your blog or Facebook or MySpace, you can be entered in a second drawing. It’s easy. You tell folks about the book and link to an online book vendor (You can find links to IndieBound, Amazon. BAM and B and N in my sidebar) or heck, you could link back HERE. Then send me an e-mail ( Joshilyn at Joshilyn Jackson dot com ) with a link to your blog entry , and I will enter you in the second drawing for two more signed copies. This pool, I imagine, will be much smaller.

The questions came from YOU guys----from e-mails that I cleverly saved in my in-box. So here is a little bit about the book, and then 3Q with, er, me, and I SWEAR I won’t get cutesy and welcome myself to the blog or, you know, thank myself.

Quilt artist Laurel, her game programmer husband, David, and their 13-year-old daughter, Shelby, lead a seemingly charmed life in a serene Florida suburb. But when the ghost of a drowned girl awakens Laurel, the veneer of that life seems ready to crack beyond repair. Can Laurel trust her flamboyant, outspoken sister, Thalia, to help as old family secrets emerge with dizzying speed? With the appearance of a ghost on the first page, you'll feel compelled to race to the end, but slow down for Jackson's great descriptions-you'll be rewarded for the effort. Jackson illuminates not just the complexities of family love as a source of safety and support but also the complexities of danger and death. The life-affirming epilog provides satisfying closure – Library Journal

"...a great tale [that] builds to an exciting and violent ending, one that surprises and yet seems to fit."
-USA Today

"A ghost story, family psychodrama, and murder mystery all in one. Jackson's latest is a wild, smartly calibrated achievement. A-."
-Entertainment Weekly

You: Are your characters strictly drawn from your imagination or are they based on characters that you know?

Oh, they are all made up – but bits and flashes of many of my friends and relatives sneak in there. No character is a definite version of, say, my Aunt Niner but I can think of four characters that have one or two of Niner’s quirks, and probably a few other characters owe a little something to Niner and I don’t even realize it. That’s always the way – I see little bits of folks I know peeping out of characters who are also wholly themselves. The exception to this rule is CHILDREN. I can’t make up KIDS… they are too weird. I also can’t use my own kids because I am too close to them to see them objectively----either that or they actually ARE the cutest best smartest kids in the universe.

Shelby (the pre-teen in GIRL) is heavily based on my niece, Erin, when she was that age. Erin-at-five was also the basis for Fisher in Between, Georgia. Erin is fifteen now, and a track star, and the book I am working on now has a fifteen year old track star in it…hmmm. Coincidence? Absolutely. *cough*


You: What is your Pet Peeve?

Me: People who correct me when I am not wrong. My children, for example, love to correct me by getting more or less specific. This is a TYPICAL type of conversation we have 3 – 10 times a day.

Me: Aw, look at that cute dog!
Either child---or both in patronizing tandem---in patronizing tones, looking down their patronizing noses: Um, Mom? That is a JACK RUSSEL TERRIER.
Me: WHICH IS A KIND OF DOG, YOU LITTLE BUTT HEADS, GET OFF MY LAWN.

Except I stop, with great effort, after the word dog.

You: Oh. Um, I meant as a WRITER.

Me: OH! My bad. People who think adverbs are evil. Adverbs are NOT evil. Should they be used sparingly? Yes. But see how sparingly changes the meaning (and the answer) to the question? Well. Sometimes, they are the most expedient and correct way to say the thing you are trying to say. It isn’t just ADVERBS, I guess, it’s any sort of dogmatic treading along the virtuous path of rules-for-writing. You hear people say, “You can’t write a readable book in the second person,” and then Tayari Jones comes along and does it perfectly. Or they say, “If you do not write every day at the same time you will never finish a novel,” except I am incapable of brushing my freakin’ teeth at the same time every day , and yet I write novels for a living.

That said? I think I am going to TRY scheduled writing hours and word counts for the next two weeks, mostly just to see if I can do it. For fun, and also because one of my rules is WRITING SCHEDULES ARE NOT GOOD and I don’t even want to be dogmatic about my OWN rules for writing. If it works, do it, no matter what the rules say.

You: When will the next book be released and is it a mystery?

ME: The new book is called BACKSEAT SAINTS and it will release in spring of 2010.

I don’t consider myself a “plot-driven” writer. I think of my books as character driven, but I do LIKE plot, so I use a commercial engine for most books. I would say THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING uses a murder mystery engine, as does gods in Alabama. BETWEEN, GEORGIA is built like a family dramedy. Backseat Saints is my first run at using a thriller for an engine. It’s a high tension book, but not a murder mystery. Plenty of murder though---I have yet to write a book where someone doesn’t get killed in Alabama. *grin*

Good luck guys, and thanks for reading!

Posted by joshilyn at 8:45 AM | Comments (96)

June 4, 2009

On and Off The Big Drugs

I have broken up with Lortab. Things were not working out between us. The pills were making my jaw clench and my shoulders feel tight and weird. I also seemed to be MOODIER than usual, which WHO NEEDS THAT? On a good day, my moodiness meter goes all the way to eleven. (That’s ONE MOODIER, for all you smarty-pantses who got my Princess Bride reference yesterday and are on the alert for more cult film salutes.) Most importantly, I was doing things I did not necessarily REMEMBER doing, and I am odd enough when conscious and fully in control of my actions..

Tuesday I was SO LOOPY from the drugs I ought not to have been allowed to operate even the lightest machinery. Toenail clippers and spring-operated toilet paper dispensers should have been put firmly out of my reach. And yet I apparently did quite a LOT of emailing. Today, 24 hours Lortab Free, I am wondering who all I said what to, and why on earth my husband gave me my laptop when (I have no memory of this) I hollered imperiously from the bed that I needed it DESPRITLIKE.

I have gotten quite a few confused notes from people responding to plaintive, opiate-driven missives I sent. My favorite is a VERY KIND if somewhat bewildered note from a publicist (Named Miriam), who is responding to a monstrously whiny rant I CLEARLY MEANT to send to my friend Mir, just dripping with lunacy and writerly angst. A regular e-mail to send to a close friend, but a HUGE overshare to dump on a distant colleague.

Also, I keep finding things in my kitchen that Scott says I bought. According to Scott, right after the surgery I said I was fine and that I should be taken to Target to pick out cream based soups to eat. DOCTOR'S ORDERS! I was VERY convincing. And insistent. Now I have mason jars full of weird, sea foam green, generic brand asparagus soup stacked in the pantry. While wandering the aisles, drooling and bleeding, I found a shelf full of discontinued wines and stacked the cart full of ‘em. Now I have several murky bottles of plonk from bizarrely named vineyards, haling from countries and regions not really known for wine making. Utah? Really?

Target has a Starbucks in it, and according to reliable witnesses, I swung by, ordered and drank a caramel lite frappucino, no whip. I have NO memory of this, either, which is a SHAME because I LOVE them. I wish I at least remembered the frappucino.

I would make an appallingly bad junky. I do not like drugs, they do not like me back, and I go off of them at the very first given opportunity. I am now eating a respectable amount of Motrin and self medicating with iced caffeine. Last night, my mouth was really bugging me and I could not sleep, so I got into the Irish painkillers. I put chunks of fresh pineapple, strawberries from my co-op box, half a ‘nanner, some Mott’s Tot’s 40% less sugar fruit juice, TONS of ice and 2 oz Stoli citron into the blender and called that dinner.

Slept like a lambkin.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:00 AM | Comments (17)

June 2, 2009

A Word from Judgey McFailerson

I am full of EPIC FAIL over here. Also full of stitches. Also full of delicious Lortab. Remember that little THING IN MY MOUTH ? and the oral surgeon who scared me to death by LOOMING at me and telling me he wanted to give me some gas and hack it out but that I was probably going to end up with a speech impediment?

Three weeks ago I went to see a different oral surgeon, one who did not seem like he wanted to yank out half my mouth with a hacksaw, one who showed me a diagram of the tongue and explained why a 4th grader could remove the hemangy-whatnot and not hit a nerve, considering where the nerves are and where the hemagy-whatnot had decided to live. One who talked to me like a PERSON. One who said I clearly needed to be PUT TO SLEEP with an IV full of drugs.

I have needs-gas-to get-a-cleaning level dentophobia, so when I say I FORGOT I had scheduled that procedure for this week, you understand that “forgot” is a euphemism for “psychologically blocked from my conciousess due to extreme terror.” So yesterday I put up my blog post, went to grab some fresh cherries, and Scott said, “Babe, you can’t eat this morning. You are having anesthesia…”

FAIL ONE: I have so many stitches in my mouth it feels like a mean caterpillar with fuzz on top and razor-feet has moved onto tongue and is dancing in place there. It hurts to EAT things, so how can I START every meal with VEGGIES when I can’t eat anything? I am living on protein shakes, frozen juice pops, and cold corn bisque, two of which are fruity-veggish, so. Best I can do.

FAIL TWO: I am on RIGHTEOUS pain pills (so forgive the extra lortabbed typos I am sure to have in here), and cannot DRIVE to boot camp, and also I am SO sleepy and floppy from the Lortab that I think my exercising would consist of drifting about and giggling and trying to hop and falling over.

FAIL THREE: Scott is leaving town for close to two weeks day after tomorrow, so my reward pick was DUMB. He read my blog, saw the planned reward and gently reminded me that in my marriage vows I had SWORN to never to see Sam Raimi films without him. I think I picked that vow out in lieu of that thing about “obey.” SO I doped up on pain meds and went with him.

Anyway, the doc said I should be off the pain meds by Wednesday, so will THEN try to eat SOFT fruits and veggies first, and get to the remaining Boot Camps. I consider “had surgery” to be a valid excuse, and if I make my goals Wednesday– Sunday, I will reward myself with a small goody. I think a new shade of toe polish and a child free hour to read-a-good-book while soaking my feet and then giving myself a nice ready for sandals pedi.

SO – Drag Me To Hell was good, hazy fun, if you like that sort of thing and are on Lortab. Scott was nto onLortab and he liked it a lot, too. But now I have to borrow a phrase from MOM101 and be THE SANCTIMOMMY

Dear three separate parents in the theatre last night,

What possessed you to bring LITTLE LITTLE INNOCENT children to a movie called DRAG ME TO HELL? No one in a movie called DRAG ME TO HELL will learn a valuable lesson about sharing. No one will make a new friend, or learn to respect each other’s differences, or give a helpful shoe tying demonstration. You should assume, given the title, that it is more likely that demons will come and graphically pluck out people’s eyeballs. If kittens come on screen, they areMUCH more likely to be murdered than to sing songs that help you memorize the planets in our solar system.

Why yes, I AM judging you. That was INSANE. Please go take a class that focuses on the meaning of the words “age appropriate content.”

Judgmentally yours,
Joshilyn

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats

Two of these kids looked like second graders, and one… if he was going into second grade, he will by the tallest kid in his class. He looked 6. Tops.

And I AM NOT PERFECT. And I am also not a SLAVE to ratings. I probably would have taken Sam at 7 or 8 to Star Trek, no problem. I saw 7 or 8 year olds in that film, and did not blink. But that was ONE end fo the PG-13 spectrum. There was some naughty banter, a good photon torpedoing or two, short skirts, bare green-skinned slinky midriffs, and yeah, okay, some genocide, but the distant “ALAS! You blew up my planet!” sort, not like Schindler’s List.

If Maisy was a different KIND of child, I would have taken her, but Maisy gets VERY involved. She was genuinely terrified in two scenes of UP. Not oh-gasp-dramatic-fake-scared, but like, trying to crawl into my body cavity and whimpering.
During one scene, I had to lean down and whisper comfort.

Me: The little boy does not get eaten by dogs at this time.
Her: HOW DO YOU KNOW?
Me: It is a G rated movie. He will NEVER be eaten by dogs.
Her: WHAT IF YOU ARE WRONG THIS TIME AND DOGS EAT HIM???
Me: *lying* I went and read spoilers online to be SURE! He will not be eaten by dogs, and then later the good guys win.

She relaxed. And guess what? The little boy did not get eaten by dogs and then the good guys won. SORRY TO RUIN UP FOR YOU.

Drag Me To Hell is different, in my SUPER RIGHTEOUS OPINION. Drag Me To Hell is CHOCK fulla GRAPHIC EYEBALL PLUCKING and bodily effluvia and vomiting maggots and… it’s NOT okay to take little kids to it. It kinda messed with my enjoyment of the film, to be honest, watching this genuinely gross-out graphic spoooooky stuff and thinking about it entering the innocent brains of kids more specced for Fairly Oddparents. What do you think? Should I have SAID something? Talked to a manager? Or sat silently in judgment as I did? What would you have done?

Posted by joshilyn at 9:44 AM | Comments (38)

June 1, 2009

Better U, Week One

AT LAST! June the Oneth is here. I am about to become Better. Last night, in preparation, I took my kids to see UP in 3D and accidentally strapped a feed-bucket full of candy corn on my head, nom nom nom. I, uh, thought it was the 3D glasses when I hooked it on my ears? Or perhaps I wanted a SHARP CONTRAST between the sugar-coated mouth sweats of yicky yesterday and the beautiful, Better-filled grilled chicken on organic greens festival I have planned today. *cough*

I read through Week One, and I have set my goals and rewards. Have you?


Goal One: Ride Elliptical for 45 minutes three times and attend Boot Camp at least three times. (This ups my weekly elliptical time by thirty minutes and raises Boot Camp from 2 to 3 times. My eventual goal is to work up to 4 boot camps a week, but OUCH if I jump from 2 to 4 I will be too sore to move. BABY STEPS, remember?)

Goal Two: Eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, FIRST with every meal. This means at breakfast, I eat a banana, THEN cereal. At lunch I dip carrots and bell pepper strips in fat free Italian dressing FIRST, then see how much of my sandwich I want. I eat veggies first at dinner, and when I am full, all the veggies will be gone, but there may well be bread or some of the entree still on the plate. This goes for snacks, too. Celery sticks or an apple FIRST, then if I am still hungry have popcorn or trail mix.

If I meet these two goals, I shall be rewarded. They have some pretty cool reward suggestions on the site, like buying a (fashionable/cute/flattering) set of workout clothes (I should pick this one week…I currently wear ratty, cut-off sweats and my friend Lydia’s 20 year old, hole-filled, men’s XL Road Ponies T-shirt, the super-soft and comfy one I stole from her in 1998 when I moved away from Chicago, and WOW, I sure hope she isn’t reading this…)

Another reward suggestion was scheduling time for a long soak in a bubble-filled tub. Add a book and that sounds like heaven... Summer vacation is here, and up until yesterday it was RAINING and my kids were stuck inside and I could not (forgive the TMI) go into the bathroom to pee without having to have a conversation through the door that began with doorknob rattling and plaintive tappy-tapping and calls of “Moooom? Mooom? Are you in there?” and ended with me shrieking like a harpy, “MAY I JUST PLEASE USE THE BATHROOM IN PEACE AND THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT WHAT KIND OF JUICE I BOUGHT? YOU TINY FASCIST MOTT’S TOTS OBSESSED DICTATORS?”* so the idea of banishing my children to the basement playroom, getting the (VERY GOOD) galley I am smack in the middle of reading and soaking my boot-camp sore muscles for an hour in blindingly hot water chock fulla bubbles that smell like gardenias is AWESOME.

*For the record, I did NOT actually call my beautiful children “tiny fascist Mott’s Tot’s obsessed dictators.” Well. Not out loud.

But I did not choose these things. Will you think I am too unendurably geeky if I confess my reward for this week, SHOULD I MEET MY GOALS, is to go to the theatre sans kids, like a grown-up, with my husband to OUR kind of date movie, which is to say, Drag Me to Hell. If your answer is, “Yes, that is unendurably geeky,” then please assume I went with the bath thing.

If you have not seen UP, may I recommend it as a possible reward, whether or not you have kids? It is one of those RARE family films that is not a trial of misery for the parents. Scott loved it and I misted up three times, laughed out loud fifty, and was so enchanted that in the car on the way home, I called half my cell phone list to tell them to go. We stacked the enjoyment deck by buying tickets for an 8:10 showing, when the audience was older kids, teens and adults. If it’s in 3D near you, it is worth the extra dollar for the goggles. We saved money (and our hearts) by eating a nice (HEALTHY!) dinner at home before, and passing on the transfat soaked movie popcorn and 5 dollar Icees.

MY FATAL ERROR: I stopped by Target for antibacterial wipes (I am always scared of getting pink eye off the 3D glasses) and while there I picked up some items from the “craft supplies needed” list for one of the little camps Maisy is doing this summer: 2 inch foam balls and…a BIG bag of Candy Corn. THERE I was in the theatre with my bag from Target. About halfway through the film, the candy’s life expectancy started dropping, going from “Eternal life, preserved in Elmer’s glue” to “About 10 seconds. 10…9…8…NOM NOM NOM. Oops, I meant 3 seconds.”
Well, at least I won’t make THAT mistake again. And I shared with the family. SO.

ASIDE: I keep getting e-mails and comments from you long-time readers, snickering about the Better U bio that calls me, “happy-go-lucky.” HEE. My favorite response was from a Best Beloved who pulled the “happy-go-lucky” line off the Better U site, cut and pasted it into an email, and then asked, in all caps, “HAVE THEY MET YOU??!?!?!?” Okay! Okay! It is kinda funny, but I strongly suspect the AHA is being kind. Happy-go-lucky is, I suspect, a EUPHEMISM for “Grinning Spaz.”
See also: “Neurosis-filled twitchy-pants.”

Oh, I have a couple of Posse Blogs for you., I actually have FOUR, but I can’t find one. She left her URL in the comments instead of emailing it, and I have the organizational skills of your basic Panda bear, so I can’t find it now. I have hunted through comments, twice, and I know it is there SOMEWHERE, but I also, apparently, have the finding-lost-things skills of your deluxe-edition legally blind Panda bear. SO. If you are blogging your Better Uing, please EMAIL me the blog addy and I will add it to my links page.

Fat Man’s Daughter

12 Weeks to an Awesomer Me

Results Not Typical

AND OF COURSE, my peeps at MamaLaw:
   

Go forth, and do Better!
(And leave a note in the comments or on my wall at Better U---I want to know your goals and rewards, too. It will give me ideas for goals and rewards to try next week.)

Posted by joshilyn at 7:38 AM | Comments (14)