May I just say, with Scott out of town for 9 more days, the LUXURIOUS SMACKY-SMOO mouth noises of all my animals as they ENDLESSLY lave at their nether portions are starting to make me INSANE. I have gone to three different rooms to perform chores in the last hour and EACH ROOM has been grossly over-full of an entirely different animal totally engaged in committing LOUD, MOIST, and OVERLY PERSONAL acts of grooming.
Also, on Failsgiving, I left a stick of butter unattended and the dog ate it. He even ate 90% of the paper. It makes his CEASELESS grooming sound to my fevered imagination to be especially greasy-mouthed and foul.
Also, on Failsgiving I was Cloverfield, the monster. I eated everything. I am up three pounds and have not yet worked out today because I am also EPIC FAILING at sleep without Scott here. My sad body is so tired that it just wants to be fed French triple cream cheeses and be put to bed. Instead I am putting it to laundry. And drafting. And critiquing manuscripts for a workshop. And whining.
I really have my nose to that WHINE grindstone, peeps.
I planned to get through my chores and then go SIT in a dark theatre with a GIRL FILM, the more cheery and mindless the better, but alas. It is 12;37 and I am only 1/3rd of the way through all the crap that MUST be finished before 3 PM when I have to go get the kids. I am so SLEEPY that am wading through my house as if the air was thick as half-set cherry Jell-O. And many of the things I have to do cannot be put off as they are prep for my kids’ piano recital, which is tonight.
May I say, secretly here, SHHH SHHH, just between us...and here it gets tragicly selfish and I deserve to be torn up by Elijah-bears, I truly do, acknowledged, but in the interests of oversharing out of pure exhaustion I will tell you: I really do not like piano recitals.
I go, and I smile and clap like a loon and make a great fuss because...My kids LOVE them. They are performance oriented. What chance did they have of NOT being performance oriented, with parents who met doing Summer Stock theatre. But my kids are also BOTH musically inclined. THIS they get WHOLLY from Scott.
At home, I admit, I DO like watching my kids play piano. But this is because I like my CHILDREN, not because I particularly like piano. Or music. Or songs. Other people's children are simply not enthralling geniuses like MY kids. Only MINE are TRULY riveting to watch as they hunt and peck their way through Angels We Have Heard on High. Oh and I also do not mind watching my friend Julie's children play. They are my kids’ close friends and I have known them since once was a fetus, one was a babe-in-arms, and one was a three year old karate chopping his way across the mats with my boy. So I’ll watch them with mild pleasure and genuine interest.
Most other people are dear and kindly and quite LIKE piano recitals because the kids are so cute and innocent, and all the dressing up, the kids foam around so excited to show their hard work...but except for multiple bar outings to see the Indigo Girls (and that was a lYRICS thing--I quite like and am often deeply moved by lyrics), I have never, in my life, gone to a place specifically to listen to music. I do not LIKE to listen to music. I don’t mind music being ON, as long as it knows its place and is properly backgrounded. I am partially deaf and totally tone deaf, and I have zero emotional response to notes.
I used to love to go the symphony, but truthfully? This is because I am a terrible insomniac and classical music helps me sleep. I would go to the symphony with my morally and artistically superior husband, and he would sit for 3 enthralled hours while I snuggled up onto his shoulder and passed into blissful, dreamless unconsciousness. This is how I know I do not snore ---because he has continued to take me to the symphony knowing I am only going to catch up on sleep. I am so tired I wish I could go to the freakin’ SYMPHONY right NOW, actually.
I would be bored sitting down to listen to YO-YO MA play cello, so you can imagine how I feel about watching a five year old who is wholly unrelated to me plinking through Rudolph, especially on 2.5 hours of sleep.
While all the children playing this evening are, I am SURE, VERY FINE CHILDREN INDEED, and while my children’s piano teacher is about the sweetest dearest lady on the PLANET, and my musically inclined children ADORE her and have worked their butts off practicing hoping to make her proud, and while they are QUITE excited to play for me this evening, and I am going to go, and I WILL enjoy watching them I will I will, and whileI began this sentence with WHILE I have no idea how to end it. SO I will just say, BLERG. And also, admit I am a bad human who just on her own blog publicly failed Mother.
The bitter irony here is that Scott, WHO IS BITTERLY IN IRONIC TEXAS, lives for these piano recitals. I told you he was morally and artistically superior, and also nicer than me and a better parent, and ALSO when he lies down to go to sleep he just GOES there, like flipping a switch, and STAYS like that, completely unconscious unless roused by wolves or burglars or the alarm clock or his foaming pacing incapable-of-sleep morally decayed Grinchlike recital-hating DEVILWIFE.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I SURE DID. I am now going to be SMUG about it, and you will forgive me, because next time I will write about Faily Failsgiving and confess to you all the crap I got wrong.
This year, we had Nana come up. She arrived Thursday, and on Friday morning, Scott had to leave town for 9 days. BOO. I tend to be a Martha. I panic when we have company coming and over-do, make too much of too many things, and cry secretly upstairs at least four times over my epic hostess failures. I stress so much over the turkey that I lose track of the people and the purpose. This year, I am SO thankful I decided NOT to do that. Instead, I called Honeybaked Ham and ordered a turkey breast, stuffing, and green bean casserole. Then I bought Sister Schubert rolls at Publix.
Crazy Farm Box has been rife with sweet potatoes (RIFE I TELL YOU!) so Scott made sweet potato casserole and sweet potato pie, which is like Pumpkin’s smoother, more delightful cousin-pie. I made Amy Go’s World famous Derby Pie, and that was that. The end. It was a lovely meal, as meals go, and the clean up took twenty minutes. I did not stress. I did not fuss. I did not start drinking at 2 pm, and I did not sneak off to cry even ONCE. SMUGTASTIC WIN.
When we went around the table to do our Thankfuls, I think I said something about family. Because my children were present. Role modeling, you know. But in my dark heart, Best Beloveds? I was secretly mostly thankful that I had already finished my Christmas shopping. SMUGTASTIC WIN 2. I usually do it on October but I have been so WRAPPED in this new book I missed October. Halloween appeared and gob-smacked me in the head, whang, and I blinked and said, Nov-em-wha??
I realized I was about to face MALL SHOPPING IN DECEMBER and that was enough to throw me into Christmas Blitz-mode. In two fell-like swoops, I went out and conquered over Christmas. I was able to do so for two reasons. One is that we have really cut back on the gift part of it because that's not actually what it’s about, so I had a shortish list, and the other reason was that I was driven by unadulterated terror.
You know that Target commercial with the evil hyper-cheerful blonde lady with the side ponytail, her cruel, thin lips slathered in redredred lipstick and the glint of maniacal shop-fever in her merciless, serial killer’s gaze? I REALLY believe in her. I believe in her fervently, more strongly than I believe in Santa. More strongly than I believe in FAIRIES, even more than I believe specifically in Tinkerbell at the part of the book where Peter ASKS the reader to believe in fairies and I can’t help but do it.
I think that blonde and about 500 million of her clones sleep upside down in below-ground tunnels with Visa cards clutched in their French-Manicured fingers (do French manicures come in red and green?) and I believe that on Black Friday, in lieu of spreading their chitinous black wings and risking the wing-span blocking their entry into automatic sliding doors, they all clambered and tore their way out of the earth, up up up through the green lawns of a garden home subdivision with pool, clubhouse, and tennis courts, leapt into outsize SUVs that have never poked so much as a rubber toe off suburban asphalt, and headed to Lenox mall, where they were MORE than willing to cut me over a parking place and delighted to de-hand me should I reach toward the last Hair Stylin’ Barbie head.
SO the day after Thanksgiving, while acts of merchandise-driven cannibalism and consumerrific depravity took place at shopping malls across the land, we ate leftovers, worked out, watched the White Collar marathon, played Wii, and went to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox. PS: He IS. And it WAS. I was sad to see there weren’t a lot of people in that theatre. I think they were all watching sparkly vampires.
Even if your kids are too young (Maisy) or too male (Sam) for sparkly vampires, Mr. Fox is competing with the biggerly backed and more mainstream A CHRISTMAS CAROL and PLANET 51, but both of those kinda leave me feeling tired. I have not seen them, mind you, so these aren’t reviews. I’m just saying why we went the Fox Route.
I look at this Christmas Carol and I think HOW MANY TIMES can we go to that well, especially since it has already been done perfectly at least three times, once (obviously) by Dickens, once by Alastair Sim, and once by Patrick Stewart. Four times if you count Patrick Stewart audio-book reading of the original as a separate thing, and I do, because Mr. Stewart’s performance requires it. Also, Bill Murray did Scrooged and I LUF him.
The other looks to be a bad mix of strained humor that offends even as it tries to be so politically correct that I thought the trailer was exhausting. It’s the kind of movie that, should one of the children invest their heart in seeing it, Scott and I do Rock Paper Scissors and the loser has sit through it with the kids. And of course Scott is out of town....being in Texas for ten days crushes rock, loses scissors under the bed, and burns up paper in a fire.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox, on the other hand, is delightfully under-played, visually interesting, and based (looooosely, but still) on a Roald Dahl book. It has George Clooney (win) Meryl Streep (superwin) and Bill Murray (Did I mention that I LUFFFF him?) I enjoyed it as much as the kids did – and that was a lot. Not since UP have I not only NOT SUFFERED during a children’s film, but actually considered my ticket money to be well spent. I highly recommend it, although it might leave the very littlest of littlies cold. The under five crowd, I mean. My seven and twelves were both enchanted from start to finish.
How did YOUR Holiday go? Can you smuggle up with me or do you have to wait for Faily Failsgiving to tell me? Did you see any movies? With Scott out of town I plan to treat myself to a REPULSIVELY estrogen-laden mindless and cheerful making matinee on Monday when the kids are back in school....Should it be Sparkly Vampires or Feel Good About Footballs or something else?
Amy Go has gone all pro! Last year she caught the shutter bug, and now she has her very own Amy Go Photo Blog. I miss her SO much since she moved. Stupid Kansas.
Also, peep this: One of the Best Beloveds works as a silversmith. I love this thing:
It is a fidget. You noodle with it. I need one as I am a leg jiggler and twitcher and a doodler. These days they call it being a “kinetic learner,” but we all know this secretly means “spaz.” Schools should start issuing little turtles like this. Especially to MY kinetic learning little monkey swarmers who cannot listen and sit still at the same time. One or the other, they can do, but either takes all their concentration. Choose: Jacksons cannot do both at the same time.
In response to the Grand Central catalog cover in the entry below, Karen Abbott called me, and we were talking about Seth Grahame-Smith’s upcoming title, which is, intriguingly, ABE LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. I liked his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because, how could I not? And this new one piques my interest as well.
Me: It’s just a good juxtaposition to begin with---inherently amusing. He’s so gangly and earnest.
Her: Oh admit it. You think Lincoln is hot.
Me: I do. I DO think Lincoln is hot.
Her: Okay well, historically, emancipation and social justice and a guy with a working class background rising to greatness with honesty. I’ll give you that one. That’s all pretty hot.
Me: Well, yeah, obviously I admire him, but I mean he is ZOMGAH! HAWT! Like, just physically. He’s smokin’. You know my type, and he is it. Lincoln is the Spock of presidents.
Her: *laughing* That’s true! He IS the Spock of presidents. I am more traditional, you know? Kennedy, Obama, these are out hot-most world leaders.
Me: I am going with Lincoln.
Her: I can’t judge you. I would have dated him. I mean, you put him up by Nixon or, God help me, Grover Cleveland...
Me: Or Polk...
Her: I have no idea what Polk looked like. Let me google image him....GAH! POLK IS HIDEOUS! ... No, no, wait, that was just a bad picture. Wow. No. Polk is fine. I would absolutely date Polk.
Me; *google imaging* I kinda like the looks of Grover, too. He looks firm and resolute, that’s attractive. Oooh! Lookit Polk! Those manly eyebrows! Polk is VERY cute, actually.
Her: We need to do this all day. We need to stay on google images and go look at ALL the presidents and memorize their names in order of date-ability.
Me: As opposed to, say, working on our books.
I am pleased to say we managed to control ourselves and STOP disrespectfully google imaging presidents as if they had posted on match.com and we were time-traveling singles with a yen to be first lady.
Today the thing that is making me batcrap seemed to fit better at my other blog, so please come help me fix-o-spand my freakin’ vocabulary over at
When we REALLY start this 5FP thing, come January one, I will blog there every Tuesday and you will just know I am there on that day, always. But for now, the five of us are just catch as catch canning as pre-program stuff comes up we wish to blog about. I am trying to keep the food-fitness-body crazy contained over THERE, and the book-family-pet-work-non-specific crazy over HERE.
Over here, filed under YAY, which is south of Crazy and has a mild climate and lovely fruit trees, the catalog came from my publishing house. This is the front cover. LOOK at Rose Mae Lolley looming up all curvy and red-delicious over The Park next to the likes of Scott Turow and Nelson DeMille. Not bad dates for a mouthy girl from the wrong side of the tracks just north of Nowhere, Alabama. Not bad dates at ALL. *starry-eyed grin*
If the question is, am I finally back blogging at FTK today, the answer is, OOPS, no.
If the question then becomes, But it LOOKS like you are, then I have to say that that is actually more of a puzzled statement, but probably you tilted it at the end in that kind of up-lilt that can make just about anything into a question. This is why we have emoticons, to indicate tone, but what little face indicates “I up-lilt this puzzled statement into a question???" I don’t know what emoticon face says that, but let’s assume you knew and that you used it, so that the puzzled statement WAS a question. Then the answer is, Nahhhh. It’s just another re-direct.
Because I have a new project!!!!111oneone!11!eleventy. It is a blog about food and five women and ten pounds and vile competition, and it is called...
When I did the BETTER U program with the AHA I learned something about myself. I learned that IF I feel I am in competition, I will do things I would NEVER NORMALLY DO. Such as get up at 4 am to go to 5 boot camps a week. And not have chocolate martinis.
For the record, BETTER U was NEVER a competition, but try telling that to the black gob of pirate-flavored tar I keep in my chest to push my blood around. I lost a little over ten pounds, went down a dress size, and dropped my bad cholesterol by 44 (!!!!) doing BETTER U. Once it was over, though, I just STOPPED trying and straining. I have for the most part maintained my BETTER size and better numbers...but...
Alas, as we have discussed, Better is indeed good, but in this case better is not gooder ENOUGHER.
DIGRESSION: HI! I USED TO TEACH YOUR HELPLESS LITTLE CHILDREN ENGLISH! You should probably look to left sidebar, pick out one of my very fine novels thumbnailed on either side of the tweet box, click on one of the links to book vendors listed below the covers, and purchase it, just to be sure I never never never attempt to instill the laws of English grammar in America's youth again. It’s a public service, really. Also, Christmas is coming, and if I do say so myself, my books make excellent teacher gifts and presents for your read-y friends and relations. /digression.
ANYWAY. I have a new project. It is extremely collaborative. I had the idea and importuned four other fine writers who are also extremely mentally ill and competitive to come on board. Mr. Husband and Mir did the coding. Lydia and Gray took care of the design. Kira JUST HAD A BABY, leave her alone, she is doing PLENTY. Besides, yesterday she went all by herself and got a GRAVATAR ----which she says must mean, “a VERY SERIOUS avatar,” but which is actually that little picture of our faces at the top of each entry so you know who is blogging.
If you want to know WHY we are doing this, other then obvious mental illness number related reasons, Mir explains it perfectly here.
And if you want to know what Soilant Green is ACTUALLY made out of I have a new entry up on the main page.
By the way? Speaking of competition? I tagged my first entry "Twilight,” “Robert Pattinson,” and “panties," so it is sure to get MAAAAAAD hits --- and perhaps a different kind of “mad” comments from twihards. *grin*
Please go check it out and tell me what you think!
I just got home after ABANDONING YOU eternally and realized... Today is my day to blog over here...
So I did.
Except for the part about tanning. I do not tan. I either slazz myself in SPF a million or I turn pink and peel like a crackly shrimp. The Irish, we are a BOG people.
Anyway, I am leaving for the airport. I am taking the next 5 days off from blogging as I am trying to get 3 - 4K a day drafted, and if I blog it won’t happen. ALSO I signed up for NaNo under a SUPER SECRET name to get access to the enticing blue word count bar which is fun to watch as it moves inexorably RIGHT. Also, it makes me accountable, as my husband can go look and SEE it slide right and know that I am actually WORKING at Super Fabulous Resort and not just charging 120 dollar citrus sea salt toe refreshment pedicures to his Amex. Larlarlar!
Since I already started working on THE OTHER MOSEY SLOCUMB, I am definitely CHEATING at NaNoWriMo, but on the blue bar I am only counting words I write in November, so it isn’t AWFUL cheating. If you are NaNoing and want to know my SUPER SECRET NaNo name, here is a a purely awful Golem-Bilbo style riddle I dreamed up in less than 45 seconds, and I SO apologize for the embarrassing forced rhyme at the end:
My first fronts for “Folks,” Or did back in the day.
My second? Its mirror in every way
Letter for letter, same second and first,
My whole is a streetname, like “cops” --- only worse.
And just when you think you have got it, my Wench,
I smile slyly and tell you, “The spelling is French.”
Agnes Scotties, Momwriters, my BoBly WOWers, crit partners and TOM – you know my secret name. PLEASE NO CHEATING and NO TELLING OTHERS or spilling in the comments so they can cheat. I want to see if some riddle genius can actually SOLVE that mess above. It is close to impossible. But .... you read that and manage to know my SECRET NANO NAME, you too can supersecretly check up on me and make sure I am not supersecretly slacking on the beaches. There may be mysterious other prizes as well, but nothing great because I want you to try to DO IT FOR LOVE AND FUNSIES. I love riddles. It is a sickness.
So no blog updates til Tuesday, but...tweets? 140 characters? THAT I maybe can manage! I am going to try to TWEET from my cell, which should show up in the widget here on the blog. Tweety Twial and error. Tweet by fire. I hereby and forthwith eschew all manuals, FAQs, helpful friends and How To pages. I shall Tweet by the skin of my chinny-chin-chin via Google searches, skim-reading, and my most especial pet favorite cussings I save solely for moments when I am stymied by technology, and with that I give a shouty outy HULLO to my new DELTA-FRIENDS in the runway line when we are still allowed to use electronics!
I am going to be a fun seatmate.
If I do not Tweet, you will know my phone defeated me. Also, let me apologize in advance just in case I destroy the earth’s oceans or accidentally create sentient life as I trial and error my tipsy-topsy way into new technology. I LOVE New Technology actually, but I hate learning curves. Oh well, at least I am fighting off my inner old crank, the anti-boob one who spent yesterday standing in a furry bathrobe hollering, YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN and adding “shenanigans” to my vocabulary.
Monday I impulse bought the above book to read on the plane---that fantastic cover caught my eye, and I like the title: Dismantled. I flipped it open when I got home just to read a page or two and four hours later I closed it, having gulped and gobbled the whole dern thing and not gotten any work done. HEH. I was plumb worn out. I can’t wait to read it again because the author has got a HUGE VOICE, but I could not slow down and listen to her.
I was zooming so fast due to the unendurable WHAT NEXT factor that I am sure I missed lovely turns of phrase and wordplay—such voice. But also plot, and you know I like a big scoop of plot. I haven’t been so riveted since I discovered Tana French. Someone compared it to The Secret History, one of my favorite books of all time, and, yeah, I can see that, too. I was talking about the book with Karen and it turns out I know the author’s agent---really great guy. I dropped him a line, and I hope I can get her here for a 3Q.
Okay, pray me traveling mercies, wish me mighty word count, and I shall see you on the tweet-side, Oh very most Best of all possible Beloveds.
Whoosh! That was the sound of my hit count trippling as boob-hunters surf in from Google. WHEE!
Today Mir blogged about how she was reading a blog she likes and BOOM, her eyes were attacked/treated (it’s all about perspective, isn’t it?) to a naked boob picture of the Bloggess. YARG! And it is Not That Kind of Blog. She was wondering why she doesn’t mind a good, funny boob story, but she doesn’t want to SEE said boobs a’boobsin out at her from a jpeg.
The Comments. Are. Hilarious.
Most women are saying, yes, yes, goodness, put those things away!
And most men are saying, quite earnestly, No, No the human body is lovely, let’s ALLLLL take our boobs out. Oh wait, we have none, but in solidarity for boob showing, we will sit RIGHT here on this sofa with a beer while you do that, and PEE ESS if you do not take your boobs out SOONEST you are very prudish and probably oppress breastfeeding MOTHERS and can we get a POLE in here? And some good lighting? And just out of idle curiousity, where was this boob pic, Mir? Can you link?
It’s almost as if the men had another agenda...
Me? The only Facebook friend offer I ever turned down had a panty shot for her profile photo. If that makes me a prude, super, sign me up to sit at the prude table. I don’t want to see that. It's a visual overshare. And the overshare in ANY format makes me wildly uncomfortable. I ALSO, for the record, do not like strangers sitting beside on busses and launching into an explanation of the effect their mental health medications have on their bowels. Too. Much. Information.
The context of the nakedness/subject MATTERS. I do not mind Mir’s boob stories on her blog because of context. The TONE of that blog is intimate, chummy, very come-sit-by-me-and-let’s-dish, self-deprecating, and friendly. A good, funny boob story there is expected because the blog entry FEELS like a chat with an amusing friend. This is a very DIFFERENT context then a stranger on the bus with a bowel story.
A (very young, very pretty) friend of mine (who did not need it) recently got a boob job and I have seen her boobies several times since then, checking on how the new girls are settling. But she and I have a high level of comfort with each other. CONTEXT. I do not want to check the boob job results of a woman I just met at a punch-and-cookie PTA mixer.
And do not give me the nudity as ART thing here, My Beloveds. We aren’t talking about art. We are talking about the casual flashing of a blogess. I am reacting to the every day idea that we should all just take our boobs out and go to Starbucks. For the record, I do not want to go put a modesty drape on The David, much less get all Victorian Pope on his butt and chip that thing RIGHT OFF and paste a fig leaf over the spot.
DIGRESSION: Do you know one of the Victorian popes did that? De-penised all the Vatican art with a chisel and pasted the leaves on. Can you IMAGINE that trash day? I picture a Dempsey Dumpster full of sad marble man-removals and a crew of very puzzled Sanitation Technicians. “What are those? What IS that? What....oh. Yikes.
Mir, I think you have been remarkably non-judgey on this. I say, let’s all be a little MORE judgy. I wish everyone would just PUT THEIR BOOBS AND JUNK AWAY, THANKS. Not just boobs---BUY A BATHING SUIT WITH A BACK PANEL IN IT, this BUTT FLOSS bikini thing is getting insane and looks itchy and unsanitary. Also JEANS good LORD, I am so so tired of seeing the butt-plumage of teenagers in those awful low pants. I ALSO emphatically do not want to see the butt plumage of women who are OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER muffin topping along after their butt-be-plumed daughters. DEAR PANTS MAUFACTURERS STOP IT THANKS AND PEE ESS YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN.
And yet anyone who has read any of my books will tell you I am probably NOT a prude. I just value modesty. What’s wrong with NOT showing your boobs to everyone? What’s wrong with setting a standard where we say, I have an IDEA and it is THIS, let’s ALL not casually show our boobs to everyone as if our boobs were a cheese sandwich. I see several male hands raising in the back, hee! And I love that about men. I love that men want to see boobies with such fervent dedication. I love when my husband’s eyes kindle and his gaze drifts as he looks at me. I don’t want to change that dynamic; it is super.
At the same time, I don’t want to see boobs out of context. Your right to swing those things ends where my gaze begins, unless I deliberately put myself in a context where boobs are likely. R rated movie? I expect I may see some boobs. And if Viggo Mortensen is in it I expect I will see many many things that I can never never never unsee.... Friendly chatty blog? No. Nude beach? Boobs. The mall? No. Breastfeeding mom? I do not expect to see boobs, but if the kid get s a good blanket grip and tugs, it could happen, and I am sympathetically amused because I have been THERE. Stinking babies with the blanket tugging! Disney World? I saw a pair at Disney because this woman was wandering around in overalls with NO TOP OR BRA on but I surely did not wish to see them there. Friend has a new boob job? I expect I will see some new boobs. Total stranger has a new boob job? CONRATS OR WHATEVER, and pls keep your clothes on. Context. CONTEXT.
Are we so far gone that we are accused of being JUDGY MCJUDGERS if we say, “HEY! I KNOW! Maybe we should only show our boobies to people we REALLY REALLY ESPECIALLY LIKE and who would like to see them, which by definition does not include ‘everyone on the internet.’”?
If so? I am super comfortable with being judgy then. If you need me, I will be sitting here in a rather cute full coverage blouse, harshly judging naked people. If you have a top on, you are welcome to join me.
It used to be so simple! I would strap the baby in the car safety seat bucket, hand the bucket to Scott, and say, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH OH BEAUTIFUL FAMILY NOW GET OUT.
After a few years, we upgraded the bucket and got a new baby to put in it and added a booster seat for the little kid formerly known as the baby, but the concept was the same. Three or four times per book, Scott would go to one grand-parental home or the other to STAY FREE and eat his mom’s homemade fudge or play 18 holes with my dad and let the babies be noozled and spoiled.
Me, I would stock the house with cup-o-noodles, celery with ranch dip, and cheap shiraz, and I would spend 3 – 4 days in my pajamas, doing the miserable sweaty work-part of novel writing, the part I do not love, the part I would never do if I did not HAVE to in order to get to the fun parts: Drafting.
The 10 or 15 thousand words I got in those stretches would grow via months of delightful and pleasant revisions into a quarter or a third of a novel. When I had that third or fourth up and reasonably running, I would sorrowfully come to realize I needed more raw material. Then I would kick them all out AGAIN and slog back into the swamplands of miserable drafting. Lather, rinse, repeat until a BOOK formed.
This is how I wrote my two drawer books, this is how I wrote gods in Alabama, this is how I wrote Between, Georgia. It was a great system. I LIKED it. Alas, by the time I was drafting The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and then Backseat Saints, my children had--- COMPLETELY WITHOUT PERMISSION, mind you--- morphed from squishy potatoes who smelled like lavender and squalled and waved pink pig feet around when they were displeased into...people. Actual people with plans and lives and permanent transcripts and responsibilities and vocabularies who had replaced foot waving and squalling with, “NO, Mom, I have a big project due in English and the Science Fair is this weekend. I can’t go to Nana’s house.”
There is never a time when all three of them can GET OUT OF MY HOUSE for 4 days at the same time. So now I have to get out. And I can’t go stay at the FREE places Scott usually stays because these homes are full of my family which makes them the same kind of pleasantly distracting as the home I just left.
I have a crew of about five rotating regular writing buddies who retreat with me...We converge in a house or hotel or borrowed vacation home and we flog each other onwards and then meet for cocktails and whining at the civilized hour of 4 pm or whenever we hit the word count. No one is allowed to play until they hit the word count. VERY motivating. But alas, the timing was not working out for any of my usual retreaters to have me in.
So my terrible, miserable plan was to go hole up in this SUPER cheap business hotel with kitchenette that I can get extra more double cheaper with Scott’s hotel points. It is in this hideous piece of Atlanta, like the IT TECH center of Georgia, very full of Industrial parks and office parks and Cheesecake Factories where engineers in wonky ties blink at each other while gobbling power lunches and talking in ones and zeros. I have done this before. It is EFFECTIVE, because I know as soon as I have 12 or 15K I can COME HOME. I once drafted 13,500 words in 56 hours just to be able to get out of there.
That kind of retreat is all stick and no carrot.
SO then I got the idea that staying in an armpit would be more fun if I was not ALONE, but was with a person who was doing NaNo or who had some other hideous and unreasonable deadline. I called Lydia and said that I would begin to drive toward Virginia if she would begin to drive toward Atlanta. We would meet up in the middle, check into a Holiday Inn Express, put on pajamas, hose the beds down with Lysol, and work side by side in friendly-competition-slash-solidarity, 4,000 word-a-day minimum, DRAFTING NaNo style, all raw material, no finesse, last to hit the word count buys the Mango-tinis.
IT WAS A GREAT PLAN. I only saw two cons.
1) At the civilized hour of 4, when we put on shoes and left the fetid room, we would find out that Holiday Inn Expresses do not have bars AND that the point on the map that was directly in between us was situated in a dry county, and we would then be forced to commit ritual seppuku by the complimentary cookie basket in the lobby.
2) Not only is the midpoint DRY, it is in the middle of South Carolina and last time we were in South Carolina together we ended up having some weird virus induced hallucinations at a Shell Station and then tag team vomiting for what seemed like YEARS. Bad, bad Mojo, the two of us converging in that state.
Those little snafus aside, it was a great plan, until her childcare fell through. No go. It was back to the IT TECH all stick no carrot plan all alone in the hotel-with-kitchentte.
I was whining to another one of my usual retreat friends and she said, “I am in the same boat --- I have to have a couple of quiet days, so I decided to go down to Super Fabulous Resort on the Crystal Blue Beaches of Magicland. I am going to be there ANYWAY next week and the room has two beds....want to crash with me?”
UMMMMM. It took about 15 seconds on the Delta site to figure that, using Miles discount and being flexible about dates, I could FLY to Magictown for about half the cost of the stay at the hell pit. SO. Thursday I am going on retreat, fancy lady style.
I said all that to say this: I just got an email from my friend saying she was sorry but we did not score a room with an ocean view. This is dire. It means that we will, from our gossamer sheeted cloud beds, have to look at some sort of gorgeous rolling golf course, or perhaps a glisteny blue pool surrounded by elaborate flower gardens instead. OH NO! Said I. POOR US! But secretly I suspect we will somehow bravely manage to soldier through it.
At the business center hotel here in Georgia? The “fitness center” is a single, ancient treadmill facing a TV with 4 channels and no sound. My room last time smelled faintly of feet and VERY strongly of ammonia, and it had a charming view of an industrial park, so, even if she had invited me to stay with her in a former janitorial closet with 2 cots and a single window facing a Nudist sanctuary full of old hairy-butt men who are all drunk and trying to learn the Macarena, I STILL STILL would have said yes yes yes thank you yes that is completely AWESOME of you.
Super Fabulous Resort aside, the best part is, I shall have a shoulder to shoulder fellow word-counter pinging me in the competitive gland to keep me going. AND! I shall have good company when comes the civilized hour of four PM.
I just Tweeted. ALL BY MYSELF! *preen* I realized I was never going to call Mir and have her teach me how so I went with my tried and true method of farting around with a thing until I accidentally break it, except here I think that instead of breaking it I may have accidentally used it correctly. UNPRECEDENTED.
If you are following me on Twitter and I have indeed successfully Tweeted and you have witnessed this, leave me a comment now and say so as I do not trust the whole shady business.
Mir says I can Tweet from Facebook or at least WHILE updating my Facebook. She says I can Tweet from my cellular phone. I can even Tweet via my Facebook using my phone, so now I am going to go fart around with all that stuff. I think the most likely object I can accidentally break as I fart around is the phone, since I can’t drop Facebook into a toilet.
Or perhaps I should just say I have not YET discovered how to drop Facebook into a toilet. I am sure if it can be done, I am the girl to do it. I have destroyed one off-brand Blue Tooth and severely injured my old flip phone via dropping them into a toilet and a cat’s water bowl, respectively. Also, I ran over another generic Blue Tooth with my car, so do not underestimate my ability to destroy. I could have all of Facebook unutterably perma-borked by tea time, if I REALLY try to learn how to use it all unsupervised-like.
I found the whole 140 characters thing to be sweat-soakingly exhausting, because I want my tweets to be good. I have heard my Twit-addicted friends dissing on those who tweet boring things (“I am eating a muffin. It is a good muffin!”) and dissing even harder on the poor souls who really, really, no REALLY overshare (“Good news, friends! I pooped!”). So I have to find my TWEET voice and the size restrictions are hard for a person so prone to hyperbole that I can use 140 characters to get across the concept of “and.”
If I was not afraid of overtweeting, and if my publicist was not following me on twitter meaning my publishing house might hear about things I tweet, I would tweet this: If I do not get a break from all this CRAP PILED UP ON MY STOOOOPIT TO DO LIST I will never finish this book. NEVER. Ever. Much less on TIME.
Even Twitter is writing out a TO DO list for me, it looks like this:
What to do now:
1. Tell us what you’re doing in the box above
2. Find some friends and follow what they’re doing
3. Turn on your mobile phone to update your friends on the go
Notice Twitter includes the compellingly sexy crossed out parts that make me feel like I have accomplished things when really I am sitting in here sweat pants and as of yet I have not even accomplished LUNCH.
Also, in the next two weeks, I plan to start group tweeting (sounds dirty) with 4 of my friends because we have a new SECRET PROJECT involving my favorite hobby, which you probably think is playing Pathwords on Facebook, but math proves that my actual favorite---- based on time spent doing it---- is unquestionably “having body dysmorphia.” So. I will be tweeting about THAT, too, as if there is one thing I have learned from my recent forays into mad fitness...Better is never quite good enough. JACKSON, OUT!
(That sounded cooler in my head. More like Tina Fey hollering, “Lemon, out” on 30 Rock and less like a failed Tito project.)
I am having a hard time finding the will to DRAFT. This is reasonable, because I HATE drafting. You don’t see me springing out of bed all eager to clean out my garage, either. One day in late October, I started working out, and I said to myself, SELF, I said, The front part of the book is in pretty good shape. It is TIME. Today! I draft. In a little. First I will finish my work out. BUT...I shall DRAFT as SOON as I am done.
I worked out for two and a half solid hours.
I would think, “Go draft, or 40 more push-ups?” Then I would choose the push-ups. I finally did go work on the book and drafted a thousand words, but the NEXT day I was SO sore I just decided I couldn’t possibly lift my arms to draft. You see how I am?
It’s not like I have stopped WORKING. I open my novel file, virtuously, and several hours later I find I am still tinkering around in, say, the back half of chapter two, trying to get the voice perfect, and not forging ahead. Noodling. Unraveling and re-raveling are MUCH more fun than the part where you have to do the initial RAVEL. This is the part I LIKE....Oh how I LIKE to revise. I like to revise so much it is probably unholy.
SO, I thought I would sign up for NaNoWriMo. The idea is, you write a 50K novel in a month. You are not supposed to start until November one...oops. That said, if I GET 50K I am claiming winnerness and marching about triumphantly lofting pompons and hooting.
I signed up under a secret name because, er, I am CHEATING. I am a big old stinkly cheater who cheats. By cheat, I mean I already have the front chapters written. NaNo has rules, and you can go read them and they will tell you that beginning your NaNo book before November is cheating.
I think it is fine to cheat as long as I man up that I am cheating. More than that; I shall cheat with aplomb and glorious pride. Panache, even. If I can use NaNo as a carrot---or a stick----to get THROUGH the part of the book I do not like doing (drafting) so I can get to the part that makes my little red boat bob up and down all happy in the water (revising) then hellzya I am going to cheat, and I will Sleep. Just. Fine.
NaNo is a tool for writers---not a contest. I am not taking anything away from anyone else by cheating. The only prize for winning is crowing that you won. If I get 50K drafted I will crow like a glorious rooster on fire with hen-love at dawn of the first day of the new millennium. I will also crow that I cheated, that I had already started the book. Larlarlar.
I think I am fine with it because I see NaNo as a tool. You USE tools to accomplish things. In this case, my goal is making a novel. My goal is not “using this tool correctly.” Maybe with POWER tools you have to follow the manual or risk cutting off your thumbs but in THIS metaphor it is more like...um...a screwdriver. And I use screwdrivers to whang the side of tight jam jar lids so they will unscrew. Which is not what it is technically FOR, but if it WORKS, I get jam.
And everyone likes jam.
But I still want to WIN, really really win even though the book is not fresh, so I will not count those PRE-November words. Instead I will try to draft 50K words here in November. I already have 4,444. (I have claimed 4,445 on my NaNo page because the REAL number word count gave me seemed so IMPROBABLE.) Some of my NaNo friends list are barely pushing 3K. Of course, some are at 13K or even 15K, but I am pretending not to see them.
My friend Thomas was at 3,875 yesterday, while I was at 3,550. When I got to 4,444 I sent him a loving little note that said, “I AM AT 4,444 SUCK ON THAT,” or something equally ladylike and charming. Then I went smugly off to sleep.
I am SO competitive, NaNo may actually work. I woke up this morning just NOT IN THE FRICKEN MOOD to draft. (No shock there.) I was front lining excuses, saying to myself, SELF you could draft but you REALLY need to get a jump start on Christmas shopping, when this little Thomas-Bomb email landed in my in-box.
“Excuse me while I clear my throat... ahhhhhem....5,546. BOO-YAH!!!”
I would love to discuss NaNo some more with you, Oh best beloveds. But I have to go draft. 6K or DIE, Thomas, and oh yeah, this is ON.
Oh! Best of all possible beloveds, ALAS! The random number generator has been rolled and it only loves one of you. That hateful machine shuns all but the delicious STACEY, of comment 4, who said:
I still want to know how to do the effortless chignon! More questions! Posted by Stacey at October 29, 2009 7:06 PM
If it makes you feel better, I would be happy to meet up with 92 of you who a) did not win and b) are not the 2 spambots selling Canadian Pharmaceuticals. We would gather for the purpose of forming an angry mob with torches and pitchforks. OR! If we all agreed to wear buttless chaps and carry rifles and a hangin’ rope, we could form a posse!
Chaps or torches, either way, our purpose is the same...to rise up and hurt the RNG until its stuffing comes out and it is heartily sorry. If we do so, I am sure next time the RNG will be more like Solomon and have Hollis cut the book into 93 chunks as if it were a hotly contested baby. (I say 93 because once again I am leaving out the spambots.) Then Hollis could send each of you about three pages.
If you are STACEY, please shoot your snail addy to Joshilyn at Joshilyn Jackson dot com. I will pass that to Hollis and LO! YOUR LOVELY SIGNED COPY OF Trailer Trashed SHALL COME TO YOU!
When last we spoke, I was in the Way Back Machine, pretending it was a SLIGHTLY Back Machine, and also pretending it is relevant to tell all your Halloween stories in November. As I recall, you were standing just to my left, politely pretending that you thought it was relevant too.
October 31 was the coldest rainiest dog-butt-ugliest hellacious night in the history of Georgia, but I had Harry Potter and a ballerina with intense candy needs, so I was resigned to tramping around in it. In the spirit of eating something not made entirely of sugar as a sort of buffering stomach pad, the kids and I met my friend Julie and a couple of her loin-spawns at Cangelosi’s for pizza-n-salad dinner.
Cangelosi’s is right next to The Wine Shoppe, and as we pulled in, I said, “Guys, this is my favorite liquor store, and I don’t see Julie here yet, so I am going to pop in and buy some stuff.” The Wine Shoppe is my favorite because it is locally owned by a guy and I THINK his dad and his dad’s friend, and all three of them are ALWAYS in there jawing the kind of jaw that makes me feel I have entered the secret and usually male-only world of the old fashioned Barber Shop. (Or SHOPPE, in this case.)
Maisy was BBBBZZZZTTTT* with excitement. So BBBBZZZZZTTTT that I looked at her, jittering and vibrating the air around her with enough vim to register on the Richter scale, and then I looked at the shelves and shelves of expensive liquid inside shatterable glass and said to her, “WAIT BY THE REGISTER with your brother, this will take two minutes.”
I trotted back to red wine and grabbed a bottle of a delicious old friend and a new-to-me Cab Shiraz blend. When I came up, my over-excited and over-friendly daughter was over-sharing with the Wine Shoppe Triptet of yacky gentlemen. Maisy was saying “---Mummy Fairy was too expensive, even though it came with spangle wings, so I am being a ballerina, except this is NOT a costume, not REALLY, it is my REAL recital tutu from last year which I usually only wear once, to my ballet recital, but this year mom said we should do Halloween cheaper so I am wearing my REAL DANCE RECITAL outfit, as a COSTUME, when it is really for SERIOUS BALLET. Can you BELIEVE IT?”
All three of the gentlemen were trying to look very grave and nod in a serious manner that indicated they understood that BALLET was seriously serious, and all three were shaking so hard with suppressed chuckles I am surprised one or another of ‘em did not shoot a kidney out a nostril. I set my wine down on the counter and said to my daughter, “That ballet recital tutu cost almost a hundred dollars, so yeah, Maisy Jane, you are wearing it again, and in fact, you might be getting married in it.”
She looked so horrified and affronted at the very idea that all three fellas LOST it.
I dropped my wine off at the car and we walked down to Cangelosi’s. Julie was already waiting in the doorway. My over-excited, overshare-y daughter spoke AGAIN. LOUDLY. In her high piping clear little voice, announcing to my friend Julie and what must have been seven tables of teetotaling and moderately aghast Baptists: “We are not late! We had to go next door and buy a LOT OF WINE. That is my mom’s VERY FAVORITE LIQUOR STORE.”
Yesssssss. Slinking past the Baptists to our table, I decided her LAST announcement justified almost ANY number of pilfered mini-Butterfingers.
*That is completely a word. You knew exactly what it meant.
Firstly, I forgot to say when the contest for Hollis’s book would end. Let’s say Tuesday, midnight EST.
AND YES I know Halloween is OVER and I should have told you all this last week, but I have been VERY BUSY preparing to cheat at NaNoWriMo. (Are you NaNoWriMo-ing? Well. There will be more on this later. I swear it by the cat-fuzz lint balls sticking to my pink socks.)
When the first of the Halloween costume catalogs came, my children snatched it and ran off to decide who they would be this year. This was a bittersweet occasion; my son had already announced that this would be his last year trick or treating, as NEXT year he would be a TEENAGER. (Excuse me. I have to pop into the downstairs coat closet for heaping hot serving of mental breakdown with a side of shrieking, NO NO NO, at the heavens in horrified denial....Okay. Back.)
I may have gotten MISTY, remembering a fat wad of black-haired baby stuffed in a punkin’ suit, but he would have none of my days of yore crap. “I can’t help outgrowing trick-or-treat, Mom,” he said in patronizing tones, then added, magnanimously. “Next year, I’ll just help Maisy eat her candy. After all, you always say we end up with too much, and it isn’t good for our teeth.” What a guy!
Sam claimed the eldest’s child birthright of going first with, well, everything, including catalogs. He flipped a few pages, then waved at a picture of a black clad fella holding a long wickedly curved sword and announced he would be, “Whatever kind of ninja that is.” No one felt any need to alert the media; he’s been whatever kind of ninja is shown with the most lethal-looking weaponry since he was 5 and we moved to this house. He doesn’t even particularly LIKE ninjas---at least, not the way he likes, say, Transformers II or anything Star Warsian.
But the ninja costumes are always pictured with the (sold separately) katanas or morning stars or double death daggers. He always talks me into the weapon accessory pack, and the day after Halloween, when the costume itself is an abandoned heap under some dirty towels, Sam can be found in the cul de sac, meeting up with a troupe of neighborhood boys who have also been some sort of ninja every year since time immemorial. Tradition dictates that they should get cranked up to eleven on mini-Twixes and then beat the ever living crap out of each other.
Maisy announced she was going to be a “Sparkly Pink Mummy Fairy.” Um YEAH. You heard me. I told her good luck finding a SPARKLY PINK MUMMY FAIRY costume because there is no such silly thing, and why didn’t she just be a space princess slime monster, or a vampiric winged mermaid zombie duchess. And didn’t I feel stooooopit when she showed me the picture? YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SPARKLY PINK MUMMY FAIRY.
OKAY! Said I. Sparkly pink mummy fairy and ninja with poison drip death blade of despair. Got it.” Then I looked in the catalog at the prices. GARG! The mummy-fairy costs forty bucks and doesn’t come with tights or shoes. And the NINJA? You don’t want to KNOW what they were asking for a black polyester jumpsuit with elbow ties. I said, “Throw the catalog in the pile of 100 million other catalogs we are sending to recycling without ever even OPENING, and hey, kids, DON’T WORRY I AM SURE SOMEONE SOMWHERE IS GROWING MORE TREES. HEH. We will go burn us a heaping scoop of irreplaceable fossil fuels and find these costumes...elsewhere.”
So we went to the Halloween store, and it was thirty to forty bucks for a costume with no accessories. We went to Target. Best deal on ANY kind of ninja? $29.99, no accessories. YIKES. So we braved the good Walmart, because I had seen on TV that Wal-Mart had costumes for 12.99.
WARNING: WHAT FOLLOWS IS A BITTER AND MODERATELY HATEFUL DIGRESSION, BUT PLEASE EITHER SKIP AHEAD OR FORGIVE ME BECAUSE IT COMES FROM A WOMAN WHO MOVED TO A SMALL TOWN TWELVE YEARS AGO AND WHO NOW LIVES IN THE SUBURBS:
“The Good Wal-Mart” may seem like an oxymoron. I am not a Wal-Mart fan. But THREE Wal-Marts have sprung up like evil mushrooms in the horrifying wake of urban sprawl that has all but defeated my small town. When we moved here, there was NO Wal-Mart, and NO mall, the guy next door had PIGLETS, and, not coincidentally, there were 97% LESS women who are either over forty or who live hard enough to LOOK well over forty ---whatever, they are OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER---sporting tramp stamps that one can see clearly because they are wearing butt cleavage jeans from the juniors department and tube tops and clear plastic stripper shoes as they march around with shopping carts yelling on their Bedazzled cell phones about what happened on Cougartown.
So now we have a good Wal-Mart, and yes, good is a relative term here. One Wal-Mart smells like feet and the kind of antiseptic they use in government-run old folks homes. The second smells like a TROVE OF HIDDEN CORPSES and the kind of antiseptic they use in government run old folks homes. The third one, which smells ONLY like the kind of antiseptic they use in government run old folks homes, is by process of elimination The Good Wal-Mart.
OKAY! ANGRY DIGRESSION OVER! RESUME READING.
They did have costumes for $12.99. If you wanted to be Thomas the Tank Engine and could wear a size 3T. CLEARLY one has to begin this Halloween shopping thing sometime before October 29th.
My kids ended up being Harry Potter (black track suit he already owned, $1.99 round HP glasses, eyebrow pencil to draw on a lightning scar, a stick from the yard as a wand, and a plastic sword from the dollar store so he can beat the ever-living crap out of his friends later) and a Ballerina (pink and black tutu with genuine diamelle spangles from last year’s dance recital). And you know what? They LIKED it. They had JUST as much fun running through the icy rain with their friends and screaming and gathering horrific amounts of free sugar as if I had shelled out almost 100 bucks for costumes and accessories.
Lesson learned, Universe. Of course...I learned it here on the last year one of ‘em will be trick-or-treating, but still. Lesson learned.