Meet Sheila Curran. Iâ€™m a big fan of her writing, and Iâ€™m really pleased to have the chance to host her here as she talks about Everyone She Loved. I read it in galleys and wrote an early review, saying, â€œCurran is a beautiful writer, both witty and evocative, and she knows how to keep a reader riveted. I was up way past my bedtime, unable to stop turning pages. I had to know what happened to this family. Read this book, then pass it on to your dearest friend. She'll thank you." Hereâ€™s the skinny:
Penelope Cameron, loving mother, devoted wife and generous philanthropist, has convinced her husband and four closest friends to sign an outlandish pact. If Penelope should die before her two daughters are eighteen, her husband will not remarry without the permission of Penelope's sister and three college roommates. For years, this contract gathers dust until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly, everyone she loved must find their way in a world without Penelope.
Sheila Curran explores the faith one woman placed in her dearest friends, the care she took to protect her family and the many ways in which romantic entanglements will confound even the most determined of planners. A story about growing up and moving on, about the sacrifices people make for one another and the abiding strength of friendship.
If YOU want your very own signed first edition of EVERYONE SHE LOVED---and Sheila has graciously pitched in THREE---leave a comment on this blog entry before MIDNIGHT EST Friday, July 31st, and we will let the cruel and capricious gods of Random choose three winners. Official contest rules are here, shamelessly PIRATED from my friend Mirâ€™s cost-cutting shopperâ€™s site.
JJ: Your main character seems to be nothing like you. After all, you describe yourself as â€œA mess who is a wee bit selfish â€œ while Lucy is a neatnik who is willing to make huge sacrifices to raise her best friendâ€™s children . What DO you guys have in common or, if nothing, how'd you manage to inhabit shoes so different from your own?
SC: Lucy is my main character, though her lost best friend, Penelope inhabits the book in such a way that some people might find her my main character. Now, Penelope, who is highly imaginative to the point of hysteria and sometimes oversteps polite boundaries in her efforts to â€˜helpâ€™ people, well, thatâ€™s me. But Lucy, who is a painter, is more the person I would like to be. (Plus she gets to live on the beach which is on my bucket list.)
One commonality we share is the meaning we get from what we do. As I say in the book: â€œLucy loved her work in a way that was almost unseemly.â€ Thatâ€™s how I feel about writing. Itâ€™s always on my mind, even when I canâ€™t do it. Also, I spend a lot of time â€˜inside my head.â€™ This made me a push-over as a mother, not because I havenâ€™t believed in discipline and consistency but because I was so distracted I would forget to remember that I might have put my son in time-out and discover an hour later that he was happily ensconced with the video game I had forbidden during daylight hours.
I know a lot of people would say this is bad parenting but I have treated my children according to the golden rule. â€œDo unto others as you would have them do unto you.â€ Luckily, in our case, itâ€™s worked out, as both of our kids seemed destined from the womb to be the generous, sweet souls theyâ€™ve turned out to be. Anyway, Lucy is accused of being a push-over as well, because her way of loving her children is so accepting. This criticism of her plays into the plot and allows their father to override his best judgment when it comes to treating one of the girlsâ€™ eating disorder by isolating them under the care of a soul-deprived â€˜therapistâ€™ who practices tough love to the point of no return.
JJ: A lot of writers read this blog----how did you find an agent and sell your first novel, the SPECTACULAR Diana Lively is Falling Down?
The wrong way. I was so afraid of rejection that Iâ€™d send out five queries, get rejected, and decide the problem was with my manuscript. I didnâ€™t realize that finding an agent is as difficult and specific as finding a soulmate. So rather than continue my search, Iâ€™d begin a new manuscript. This went on for years and years, with a couple of twists and turns along the way.
By the time Iâ€™d written Diana Lively is Falling Down, some twenty years after starting to write novels, two people recommended that I try Laura Gross. I was certain she wouldnâ€™t like my work because I knew Laura had grown up in England and my characters were British. However, finally, I did send her my manuscript and when she called to tell me how much she loved it, she gave me a great compliment by saying that sheâ€™d expected me to have an English accent.
We went through a lot of rejections before Susan Allison, at Berkley, Penguin took it. Even then, it was a battle. As Susan says, she started it, loved it, but knew it didnâ€™t quite fit her list. She continued reading is as a â€œguilty pleasure.â€ Then she went to her boss, the publisher and said, â€œI know we canâ€™t publish this, but I loved it too much to reject it without having you read it too.â€ Then Leslie read it and liked it too. So they sat down and brainstormed where they might place it in a genre, and agreed to take the risk on me. Their courage in buying such a quirky genre-defying novel is something Iâ€™ll never forget.
JJ: How did you come to realize you wanted to pursue writing as a career instead of a personal passion or a hobby?
SC: Hmnn. Well, for ten years I waitressed and bartended, then wrote grants on the side (which I still do for select clients) so itâ€™s not as though Iâ€™ve been able to work full-time (if you donâ€™t count mom, wife, housekeeper) for the past few years. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™m really prepared to do much else, to tell you the truth, though sometimes I look back fondly on my restaurant days and remember how that was a job you never took home with you. Frankly, though, I donâ€™t think I ever sat down and made a decision to do this â€˜as a career.â€™ I just couldnâ€™t not write.
This week I am at my SOUTHERN AUTHORS blog, and basically I am explaining the Better U program to a the regs over there, but I did put up BEFORE and AFTER photos---or more like BEFORE and HALFWAY pictures, as I am one week past the midpoint. SO. Please go look?
Because I heart you, oh my Eyebrow-Picture-demanding-Best-Beloveds-from-the-comments, I had Scott snap a pic of my grown up spa-waxed eyebrows. (I had never so much as plucked a single eyebrow hair before in my life):
Good to immortalize them, I think, because I doubt I will bother again. Scott does not like them. After I got home, he kept looking at me with this faintly searching expression. He had not read my blog yet, and I kept catching him sneaking sideways peeks at me with HIS eyebrows puzzled up together, trying to figure out what was different.
Finally I said, STOP IT! STOP IT! IT IS MY EYEBROWS. I GOT THEM WAXED.
Me: I think it makes my eyes look bigger! And I think it makes my cheekbones look higher!
Me: AND I LOOK YOUNGER. AND NICER.
Me: Oh, poot. You hate them. You hate my eyebrows.
Him: No. You just look...
Me: BAD different?
Him: No, not BAD different. Itâ€™s like someone elseâ€™s eyebrows have snuck up onto your face and are nesting on your forehead.
Me: *whining* Wahhhh! You reeeeeally hate them.
Him: No. I just like you. I like how YOU look. I donâ€™t mind you waxing your eyebrows if it is important to you but... Youâ€™re beautiful. You donâ€™t need it.
That shut the whining off right quick. Thatâ€™s like the 5,000 husband-point answer, right there.
Note to the home-peeps: If you live in the Atlanta area and are a big Kevin and Taylor fan (I am), I will be on 104.7 The Fish tomorrow at 7:15, talking about Better U. WHEEE.
We are on retreat, missing one member of our usual posse (ALAS, Renee couldnâ€™t come this time) but getting the words down on the pages. I am about 10% done with the draft of the new book, and I am finding the voice of the thing and feeling my way in the dark of the new story. It now has a working title. I am calling it THE OTHER MOSEY SLOCUMB, abbreviated TOMS. I love having a title. It makes me feel official.
I have been getting up at 5 and working all morning, and then in the afternoons going out with Karen and Sara for sushi and miso soup as a reward for my SUPER WORKINESS. I got stuck in a chapter all day yesterday that hemmed and hawed and refused to find its natural end, and after I FINALLY finished the draft of it and Sara and Karen said we should go get a little SPA LOVING from the inexpensive nail shop right down the street. (It was FANTASTICALLY cheap---but they also had a A+ health inspection rating posted, with a very recent date.)
Karen went off to get a manicure, and Sara and I decided to sit on the massage chairs and have our feet done. I LOST nail technician roulette. Sara got this guy named David and I got nameless silent girl in a Swine Flu Mask. David performed all sorts of WEIRD massage on Saraâ€™s calves and feet, once even going all VIOLENCE PLUS SHIATSU on her calves. (Forget rhythmic tapping, he was literally SPANKING her calf muscles with great thwacking whacks that went off like gunshots in the teeny shop, beating her legs top to bottom as if they had been very very very naughty indeed.)
Meanwhile over at my Throne of Lose, Swine Flu Mask girl went after my cuticles as if they were personally responsible for the death of her childhood cat, and then resentfully swiped some lotion around and went straight to painting my toes. She hunched over my feet, alternately painting and shooting David disapproving glances because Sara was still getting her heels slathered with strange, kelpy-smelling unguents. My toes were DONE and under the drier before Saraâ€™s massage section even ended.
While we were there, Sara scheduled an eyebrow waxing, and I said, casually, that I had never had ANYTHING waxed, and I had never plucked a single eyebrow either. I didnâ€™t think this was that weird, but Sara and Karen looked at me like Iâ€™d just confessed I had never tasted cheese or seen the moon. APPARENTLY a lot of people shape their browsâ€¦who knew? I told you I have no girl skills.
They dragged me to the back and threw me down on a white table and told a pretty brunette with a popsicle stick and a pot of molten candles to cut loose on my face. The first time the â€¦.what do you call her, that wax-and-paddle person? Waxing engineer? Brow technian? Sadistic yet perky Rip-master? When she pulled the first strip, my closed eyes popped open and the phrase, â€œSON OF A VERYBADWORDâ€ exploded out of my mouth.
According to my friends, I had the last acreage of pristine uncharted eyebrow territory. The final wild west eyebrow frontier. NO MORE. It has all been settled now, and me and my new friend Sheriff Tweezer have been given the sacred charge of maintaining order.
ITâ€™S VERY WEIRD. My eyes are bigger and my cheekbones look mystically higher. And yetâ€¦ I keep saying, â€œWhat if my EYEBROWS are angered and they grow back looking just like Frida Kahloâ€™s? Or GROUCHO MARX's?â€ But I have to admit it makes a BIG difference. Like an eyelift, only ten dollars.
â€¦the one I still miss, lo these many years later, is Mr. Camel Special Light. He was TERRIBLE for me---all my friends said so. I LOVED him, and yet he was actively working to harm me, and I wouldnâ€™t leave him.
He slowed me down and made me puff and gasp on stairs, and he made my hair smell unforgivably bad. And yet he remains TO THIS DAY the most beloved all my abandoned former vices. In fact, if I was told with absolute surety that the planet would blow up tomorrow, destroying all life, and it absolutely could NOT be helped, I would choose to spend a portion of my final hours with him. I dream about smoking some nights, long luxurious lung-heating puffs of beautiful addictive drugness. MMMMMM!
So how did I quit? Over and over, thatâ€™s how.
Most people who successfully quit do it like that, over and over, setting the pack down and walking away, and failing, and going back, and then trying prescription drugs and acupuncture and gum and patches and hypnosis, walking away from cigs with help from various tools until they come to the time when it works and they are done smoking.
But if I loved him SO MUCH, was it worth it to ditch him?
Yes. Absolutely. I discovered there are things I love really a lot MORE. If you are trying to quit, make your own list â€“ it may help you make THIS time the one true final time.
1) I love my husband more. Scottâ€™s dad died of lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking. Scott never pressured me hard or got mad, but watching me smoke made his eyes sad, every time.
2) Running and hiking and swimming with my kids. As a smoker, I was always out of breath.
3) Working out. People who have never dedicated long term fitness routine think endorphins are a myth. I USED TO THINK THEY WERE A MYTH! But oh no, they are true and real and make the WHOLE sky all diamonds. The pleasure is very similar to nicotine, actually, a more intense long flying feel of pleasure while engaged in the activity, followed by lowered stress and being generally a more pleasant person to be around. Amusing coincidence: Sweating up some endorphins and puffing up some nicotine BOTH make you smell bad.
4) Food. REAL actual simple foods, like PEARs, taste AWESOME post-smoking. As a smoker, pears taste likeâ€¦. Nothing. Chewy, watery nothing. Grease and salt were the things that registered on my numbed buds. And yes, I know people say they gain weight when they quit, but with the improved lung capacity I exercised more, and I found things did not have to be salty and greasy to taste good, so I actually lost weight.
5) MONEY. Good lord the stupid things are five bucks a pack! Thatâ€™s more than a Fancy Latte! Thirty bucks a week, at a minimum, and thatâ€™s a dinner out, or a matinee movie for the whole family.
6) Not dying of lung cancer and not getting chunks of your throat taken out so you have to talk like a robot through a hole in your neck and not having to wheel a little oxygen tank around while you slowly drown via emphysema with lovely crisp ungettable air all around you. It is SO SUPER FUN to not smoke, instead. Try it â€“ you will like it.
Anyway. If you are trying to be BETTER, this is one thing that will improve your life and heart health in almost every possible way, immediately.
It can be done.
You can do it.
You want to start HERE with part one.
SO there is this fellow I know, an ON THE SCENE guy, well imbedded in the Atlanta arts community. Heâ€™s a writer, and quite a talented one. I have worked with him on a couple of local literati events and I think highly of him and I have a good deal of professional respect for him. We are going to call him....William.
On Thursday, my friend Daren Wang had asked me to come speak at a very cool event sponsored by The Decatur Book Festival. 100 Atlanta Area book clubs came together for wine and desert and book-talk. I spoke on a panel with Emily Giffin and Susan Rebecca White.
I didnâ€™t know Susan, but she turned out to be charming and I have her debut in my TO READ pile---the SHORT pile, by the bed, with about five books I shall read this summer in order of my random mood. That location is an indication that I am pretty excited about Bound South. I DO have ANOTHER to read pile, well, not a PILE so much as a slough pit of books I MAY read that is fermenting itself into a slum and the older books are no doubt breeding dirty little feral Dickensian orphan-type book babies that forming up into gangs and planning to perpetrate crime upon the tidily boxed city of abandoned VHS movies.
Giffenâ€™s books are ones I buy reliably in hardback because I can never QUITE wait for PB. If youâ€™ve never read her, I THINK this is my favorite, but there isnâ€™t really a bad place to startâ€”they are all good. (Except do NOT start with SOMETHING BLUE â€“ it is a SEQUEL and I have this weird THING about sequels â€“ like, if you do not read sequential books in order the universe collapses. SO if you want to read SOMETHING BLUE it is imperative for the safety of the planet and life on earth that you read SOMETHING BORROWED first.)
Emily herself is LOVELY, but she is---to ME anyway---a tiny bit intimidating. Sheâ€™s so...PRETTY and TOGETHER. She tells her hair what SHE WANTS IT TO DO, and then HER HAIR GOES AND DOES THAT. Not fathomable. She seems to know instinctively which color of gloss looks good with her complexion. She understands ACCESSORIES.
Me, I have very few girl skills. But knowing I was going to sit by Emily and not wanting to look like a BAG LADY, I did RADICAL THINGS, things I had not done in MONTHS such as put in contacts. I even deployed a team of paleontologists to execute a dig under my sink, hoping to unearth my liquid eyeliner. Not only did I PUT A PRODUCT INTO MY HAIR post shower, but I then BLEW IT DRY. Like a grown up. It was very exciting.
Also, ---THANKS BETTER U!---- I found this week that I can fit back in a BUNCHA clothes I have not been able to squeeze into since BOOK TOUR, and so I got dressed in something I used to LOVE that always used to make me feel confident.
SO I go to the event early, and I am hanging with my friend Tom and I am feeling QUITE pretty, for me. I have on a fitted blue T and a skirt that is flippy and swirly and I have on ballet flats instead of heels so I am unlikely (or, less likely, anyway) to trip and I am ABOUT to publicly speak which means my energy and nerve levels are both high. I am a little....SPINNY. A little TWIRLY and GASPY and UP and CHEERFUL. Maybe the TEENIST BIT spazzy. *cough* In other words, I am AMPED UP. To eleven.
I see my friend William (This is NOT his name. His name is GEORGE.) and I go over to say HI, and he says â€œOh I want you to meet a colleague of mine who will be working with us on this workshop you are going to teach,â€ and he turns to call over a guy standing nearby just as my friend Tom says my name behind me, so he turns and I turn and I am feeling a pretty and SPINNY, so my turn is VERY quick and light, meant to allow me the pleasure of feeling my skirt swirl around my knees, and my arms extend out a little from my body, palm forward, fingers slightly curled into a cup, and I turn and William turns and there is a...convergence.
My hand converges with William in a place where my hand has absolutely NO BUSINESS converging.
Let me be more explicit.
My hand converges with William in THREE places my hand has absolutely no business converging.
This is NOT a VIOLENT or painful intersection of my hand and....William. It is also not a glancing or grazing or BRUSHING PAST where I would not even notice, or where I would assume my palm had met, say, his THIGH, and just say OH SCUSE ME and go on. No, itâ€™s a perfect tab A slot B meeting, and therefore, though BRIEF, it is INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS to both of us what has just converged with whom's whatnots. And we kinda both LEAP BACKWARDS out of our skins and stare at each other and our abandoned skins turn the color of RADISHES and the friend he was calling over to introduce has SEEN this, clearly he has witnessed the convergence because his mouth has dropped open and his eyes are as round and wide as ripe figs.
â€œTHAT DID NOT JUST HAPPEN,â€ I shriek immediately. â€œTHAT DID NOT. WE ARE NOW PRETENDING THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. OKAY? OKAY! SO WHO IS YOUR FRIEND?â€
And William says, â€œJoshilyn, meet Steve.â€ (This is not his real name. His real name is CLAY.) and I say hi, and then William says, â€œSteve is A LOT more excited to meet you than he was, say, 2 minutes ago.â€
Well I had ALREADY died. But I died AGAIN. But at least it got me laughing.
I told known hellcat and reprobate Karen Abbott (who is friends with William) later this whole story and BECAUSE she is Karen Abbott of COURSE the first question out of her mouth was, â€œSo, tell me, do you think Williamâ€™s wife is a happy woman?â€ I said, â€œI would say so. Emphatically.â€ She laughed and said, â€œHow badly do you wish you DID NOT KNOW THAT?â€ And I said, â€œFervently. I SO wish I did not know that.â€ There are things you want to know about people you work with, and things you really do not. This is B. Especially since I am sure to see this guy again VERY soon, at the DBF.
I am wondering how to greet him. Karen has offered me A THOUSAND DOLLARS to walk straight up to him and greet him by saying, â€œHEY DUDE! HOW THEY HANGING?â€ But I think that money is safe safe safe in her bank.
Next book event, I plan to dump wine on someone at the START of the evening, and have done.
I am a creature of rare social grace---the GAZELLE of the dinner party. If you have ever seen video of a springbok or Thompsonâ€™s gazelle sprinting and curving and reversing at 80 miles an hour, pronking joyfully upwards, executing long-legged flying leaps sideways and then landing and bending and tearing off in another direction entirely...thatâ€™s me.
Now imagine a GIANT springbok engaging in these behaviors in your kitchen. Yeah...Sorry about all your crockery. And chairs. And walls. And the guests with concussions and hoofprints in their hairdos.
Up until this week, my most socially awkward memory of all time---the one that could make me feel the hot liquid rush of shame-creep come up my spine lo these sixteen years later--- was sitting on an airplane flying up to see Scott in Chicago for the first time after we had mentioned to each other that instead of being BFF, as we had always thought, we were actually quite madly in love.
We were (OF COURSE!) living all the way across the country from each other and were (OF COURSE!) both in serious relationships when we made this discovery, so we just kinda TABLED the discussion and went to our respective homes in our respective cities to respectfully end our respective relationships---we didnâ€™t want to start out by being sneaky or cheaty. We wanted to start RIGHT.
So, after the dust had settled and we were both free agents, I got on a plane to Chicago, and went to have my first date with him and make a planâ€”because there MUST be a plan. (I am so enamored of HAVING A SET COURSE OF ACTION that when my friend Mir sees my name on the caller ID, she answers the phone by saying, â€œWhy, hello, Plan Cat!â€)
Without a plan, I get antsy, and I had just exploded my whole THE REST OF MY LIFE plan with no solid replacement. When I took my seat on that plane to Chicago, I had just given up a full ride to a grad school in Georgia, put everything I owned in a U-Haul and moved back into my parentâ€™s house on the strength of seven years of best friendship and a midnight to four am conversation about love that took place in my momâ€™s backyard gazebo.
After we were airborne, I ordered a glass of red wine to calm my nerves. I took two sips, and the third time I reached for the glass I BATTED it brilliantly sideways in a spectacular arc, and the wine splashed and sprinkled itself ALL OVER the woman beside me. Not even a molecule landed on me. I was spotless, and she had wine droplets trembling in her BANGS.
I apologized profusely and blotted her down, and the stewardess came with warm, moist towelettes from first class and sent her to the bathroom with club soda to repair it as best she could, and when she came back I explained---no, I OVEREXPLAINED--in a mortified babble how nervous I was and about Scott and love and Scott and upended life and NO PLAN and Scott, and the poor woman graciously accepted my apology and we resettled ourselves and the flight attendant brought me a replacement glass of Shiraz on the house. I did not even get to taste that replacement wine. Because the FIRST time I reached for it I tipped it over and dumped the entire contents in my seatmateâ€™s lap.
OH. YES. I DID.
We repeated the WHOLE cleaning and apologizing and overexplaining process, though somewhat more FROSTILY on her side, and I refused a replacement wine. For obvious reasons. And then had to sit there for more than hour with this POOR DAMP SHIRAZ-SMELLING LADY....GAHHHH.
That was, hands down, my MOST socially awkward moment, a memory that SHONE brilliant blush red even in the TREASURE TROVE of graceless, spastic, socially awkward moments that have plagued my gazelle-at-a-dinner-party life.
Until last week.
When I managed to top it.
To be continued...
Oh yes, it is time to don your Hammer Pants and Meme along with me.
Yesterday, a casual acquaintance said, â€œYou know I hope you donâ€™t take this the wrong way, (uh-oh) but you look like a famous person to me (double uh-oh) and I always hesitate to say so because people may think the person they look like is gross (UH-OH) but you kinda look like, to me, that pop singer, not that you DRESS like her, (Um???) that pop chick, you know, um...Katy Perry.â€ (Oh. Really? Howâ€™s that crack treating you?)
Bored people on the bus and at parks must play endless rounds of â€œWhat celebrity does this guy look like?â€ in their heads, because thatâ€™s the SECOND time I have heard I look like Katy Perry this month. Second time. Apparently crack is still quite popular. No, no, I jest. Sheâ€™s my virtual twin. I can see it. COUGH*
*And here we understand that COUGH means, â€œWhy yes, I WOULD look just like Katy Perry, if I had lips. And was twenty years younger. And thirty pounds lighter. And forty times prettier.â€ But we will just encapsulate all that in the code word COUGH and nod and say, YES, YES JUST LIKE KATY PERRY. (COUGH)
SO hereâ€™s the meme---post a recent casual photo of yourself, and tell your most flattering celebrity comparison, one or more of your most COMMON celebrity comparisons, and the one that made you almost punch someone in the face. I take Miss Perry as my most flattering. Hereâ€™s me a couple weeks ago, just at home working, not an author shot with professional hair:
And here are the celebrity look-a-likes, for good or ill, that I have heard more than five times each:
Paula Poundstone, Stockard Channing and Rosie Oâ€™Donnell. There is also a cute younger (by this I mean YOUNGER THAN ME, so, maybe 29 or 30 year old) who plays THE BEST FRIEND in a lot of stuff. A character actor, you would know her if you saw her, but her name escapes me. elizabeth from comments has told me several times I look like her. I canâ€™t remember her name.
And here is the one that almost inspired me to violence. â€œYou know donâ€™t take this the wrong way, and you are REALLY prettier, but in a weird way, you look like Rod Stewart. If he was a girl.â€
Can someone explain to me how to take that the RIGHT way??? I thought i had the worst one EVER until Karen Abbott told em that when she was little, someone told her she was a dead ringer for BOWSER. You know. From Sha-Na-Na. DOH!
If you do yours, PLEASE LINK BACK in comments. I want to see.
And I donâ€™t want any. THANKS. Yes, yes I know I need it to LIVE, but this weekâ€™s Better U program describes Cholesterol as â€œa soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream.â€ It could not possibly sound less appealing. Next theyâ€™ll be telling me a triglyceride is â€œa roach-like, scuttling object that peeks out from behind the kidneys and gnashes its mandibles.â€ GAHHHH. Pass the oatmeal.
My cholesterol was borderline high before I started BETTER U, and now that it has been DESCRIBED I donâ€™t want the extra, thanks. I barely want a healthy amount. Lord, but the liver is a repulsive organ, and this saddens me because Iâ€™m Irish, so I am genetically predisposed to have a MIGHTYMIGHTY LIVER.
My people are scrappy bog dwellers, and perhaps we DO NOT tan, but we comfort our pale selves with the knowledge that we have the Livers of Kings, OF KINGS, I tell you, and I have always been PROUD of my fine, fine liver. Especially on days like today when I return from a beach vacation with what I call â€œa savage Irish tanâ€ and what others call â€œa faint patina of beige over the paper-white, only truly noticeable if one holds SNOW or A RECENTLY BATHED BICHON-FRISE up close-by for comparison.â€
So I had well deserved Irish Liver Pride---Meggie, pass the Jameson!--- AND YET THE WHOLE time my liver was making SOFT FAT-LIKE WAXY CRAP and sneaking it into my blood. You canâ€™t trust ANYONE these days. I think itâ€™s the word WAXY that really skeeves me---makes me feel like I should be diligently swabbing out my veins with Q-tips. Gahhh. Ah well. At least I can still claim kinship with Samuel Beckett.
OH â€“A SPEEDY Digression for taking care of business. I have not gotten SNAIL MAIL ADDIES for either of the Better U Kit Winners. Edj of the blog PLANET NOMAD (Comment 57) and Emily (Comment 78). If I donâ€™t hear from them by THURSDAY at midnight EST. I shall ask the gods of random to reroll.
This week (7) we are lowering Cholesterol via healthy eatings and exercise-ings, and I am down with that. But the part of the program that REALLY is speaking to me this week is the section on self-sabotage. I am AWESOME at sabotaging myself. One, in particular, hit home:
All-or-None Thinking â€“ "I didn't walk even one day this week. I might as well give up on trying to fit physical activity into my lifestyle."
I DO THIS, I DO THIS! But with food, not exercise. I think things like, â€œI ate ice cream. Lookit that, now I undid my WHOLE GOOD VIRTUOUS DAY. I might as well eat an entire box of Capâ€™N Crunch now because it is all RUINED AND KILLED! IT WILL NEVER BE OKAY AGAIN! PASS THE CRUNCHBERRIES! NOM NOM NOM."
This week I am going to try to catch myself doing that and quit it---it is a habitual thing with me, a common pattern of thinking I . Recognizing when I am doing it and QUITTING is my MAIN GOAL. Each day this week, I will make a conscious effort to identify my ALL OR NOTHING thinking and QUIT doing that to myself. This on top of the VEGGIES FIRST food initiative, tracking via weightwatchers, the four boot camps plus 90 minutes of elliptical, ALL my previous goals carry over, world without end amen, and if I DO ALL THIS, I will get new brown Ballet flats as my current ones are ancient and in a reprehensible state of scuffed disrepair.
BY THE WAY, yesterday was the start of WEEK 7! We are halfway done becoming Better. Howâ€™s it going for you?
Ate pounds of grilled gulf shrimps and blackened grouper and haricots verts. Ate Sun Chips instead of Cheetos and pretended this was a wise and virtuous choice. Walked on the beach, usually twice a day, sometimes three, for forty-five minutes to an ninety minutes a shot, usually knee high in balmy waves, with my ipod strapped to my arm. I walked for more than 14 hours worth of audio book. (Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Neil Gaiman)
I spent even more more audiobook hours lying poolside watching my children not drown in the pool. (Stieg Larsson) I had wine with lunch. I had naps. I had protein shakes. (I may or may not have added Kahlua to them. *cough*) I had REALLY a lot of rum cake and more than a little â€œbetterâ€ cake. I read some very, very good books (Little Bee, The Likeness, Twilight of Avalon, and a couple of ARCs) I began two other crappy books and threw them in the laundry room less than 20 pages in. Vacation is too short to read bad books.)
I ordered virtuous things in restaurants and then ate fried things off other peopleâ€™s plates. I played WoW with my niece. I organized and participated in 6 boot camps over the ten days. I swam every day. I stuck to a great diet for 4 days, slipped on the fifth, outright stumbled on the sixth, plummeted on the seventh through the tenth , ending with a pizza-Bacchanalia and something I invented called a â€œLiquor Floatâ€ which featured ice cream, dark chocolate chips, and several kinds of liquor. (I am a GENIUS. If only I would use my powers for good...)
What I did NOT do on my summer vacation:
Work. I wrote less than 2K of my new novel. I did not answer e-mails or return phone calls. LA LA LA. It was an excellent vacation.
I am horrified to step on the one true scale tomorrow.
Favorite Beach Story:
My nephew, who used to be an 8 pound potato who slept on my chest, smelling of sweet milk and talcum, is now a high school graduate. He is tall with a gorgeous, confident smile and a tousled mop of bright blonde hair. Heâ€™s a supertlative athlete with the requisite broad shoulders and trim waist. By sheer coincidence, one of his close friends who was on the football and soccer teams with him was at the SAME beach place.
The two of them wandered down to the shore where cute little girls in bikinis taught them how to surf and giggled and peeked sideways at the twelve pack worth of abs the boys were sporting. One day, it was grey and rainy, and the waves were scarce and the bikini girls were scarcer, so Daniel and his friend decided to go fishing.
My dad had all the equipment down in his truck, so the three of them set of for the elevator, talking about the best spots and what weights and hooks to use. The elevator paused a couple of floors down and an older lady got on, maybe in her mid-fifties. She was wearing resort casual clothing, and had coifed hair and a clutch purse and sensible but attractive shoes. She had on lipstick. The boys were in swim trunks, barefoot and bare chested, sandy and tousled, and my dad was in his jogging shorts and an old T-shirt.
As they neared the ground floor, my dad said, â€œOh, did you guys remember to get the shrimp out of the fridge?â€
Daniel said, â€œDoh, we forgot the bait!â€
The elevator landed and the lady stepped to the open door and then paused. She looked Daniel and his friend up and down and then said, â€œYou boys are the bait.â€
She stepped through and swayed away, leaving all three of the fellas still standing in the elevator with their jaws unhinged as the doors closed behind her.
The gods of RANDOM have chosen who shall win the BETTER U BETTER ME KITS. If you are one of the peeps below, please email me a snail addy to Joshilyn at Joshilyn Jackson dot com.
Comment 57, made by Edj of Planet Nomad
Comment 78 â€“ Emily at July 2, 2009 at 2:33 PM.
If you did not win, and you are sad, you can TRY AGAIN. I see my fellow bloggers over at MamaLaw have three more kits up for grabs, and their contest runs through the 13th of July. You can enter over at their blog---these are super cool women, you will like it there.
I shall be blogging sparsely as I am at the beach, but I will tell my fellow better Uers that UP UNTIL last night I was WINNING by having a super-perfect, exercise-centric and healthy eating Better vacation. Last night the SUN CHIP INCIDENT happened, followed by RUM CAKE GATE and SHIRAZ-IQUIDDICK and then I ran aground like The Exon Valdez into a continent of ice cream. OOPS. But. I am about to start winning again.
Back on the wagon, starting NOW.
In more cheeky and uplifting news (and by this I mean, news that actually uplifts your cheeks) a REALLY fun exercise is to wade out into the sparkly gorgeous ocean, about thigh deep, and then walk-run-wade-march as fast as you can for as long as you can. I did half an hour of it before collapsing, and DUDE, my gluteous maximus is SORE and feels so EXERCISED that it is surely busy becoming a Non-Glutinous Minimous.
With the back of the Good Cat packed near to bursting and my metaphorical loins girded (I say metaphorical because in reality I donâ€™t think I have the girdable kind, and yet I think I am psychologically ready to vacation without eating, say, Florida...) I am heading to visit my mother-in-law for a couple of days, and then on to the beach.
I got an email from Anonymous Friend (she of Goosey Goosey Gander Euphemistic fame) on the subject of Cheetos, which, in her lexicon of treats, are better than homemade rum cake. She believes the gods on Mount Olympus had powdery fingers stained the color of sunrise when they finished supping on their â€œAmbrosia.â€ She didnâ€™t want to enter the contest because, you know, she is my FRIEND and if the gods of Random picked her it would be awkward---but she did want to pass along HER tip for heart healthy living:
Three days ago I took a snack pack of Cheetos in the back room, sucked every last atom of orangey goodness off each one, and then fed them to the dog.
HEE! Thanks! Thatâ€™s a great tip, but I doubt the AHA would recommend it. Itâ€™s like...eating Mortonâ€™s. I wonder what the fat/calorie count on a Cheeto is when you donâ€™t eat the ACTUAL Cheeto. Also, I suspect that leads to a Very. Gassy. Dog. My favorite part of the story is the CLANDESTINE nature of the Dog/Cheeto/Girl rendezvous. Itâ€™s a back room deal for sure, destined to remain secret because (sadly) Cheetos did not return from this assignation. And you KNOW the dog is not telling.
In further Questionable Nutrition News, Orla sent this link to a Florida news story about a woman who tried to SUE Capâ€™n Crunch (Yes! She sued the good Capâ€™n!) for duping her when she learned that his CRUNCH BERRIES are not an actual fruit. For FOUR YEARS she scarfedthe â€œberriesâ€ down, thinking she was getting one of her five-a-days. Poor lady. Truly, I blame Pepsi, the parent company, because they are tricksy hobbitses at Pepsi, and not to be trusted. I say this because I ate the blue pill, Nemo, and am thoroughly enslaved to Coco-Cola via a combination of well-targeted marketing, geography and the superior flavors of diet Cherry Coke.
My favorite part of the story? Down at the bottom it says, â€œThe judge also noted that the lawyer in the case had previously been denied an attempt to sue Froot Loops.â€ Because, you know, CLEARLY FROOT refers to a real fruit, or a bunch of them, perhaps a pear-banana-crunchberry hybrid. *sigh* I wish to bring a class action lawsuit against that lawyer, actually, for wasting taxpayer money and being a weasel.
Donâ€™t forget you have until MIDNIGHT EST to enter the contest to win a Better U, Better Me Kit. As per YOUR advice I am taking my FANCY red yoga mat with me to the beach and shall run my OWN boot camps, alone if I must, instead of just cardio-swim-walking-snorkeling.