Sunday, May 31, 2009

Run for the border

Little Guy is closing in on two years old in two months time.

Right now he is a constant blur of mischief and mayhem. He bites and kicks and squirms and shrieks. He kisses me and then just as quickly clobbers me over the head with a toy. He runs up to me, all smiles, and then spits a mouth full of juice onto my leg. He rips my Anthropolgie catalogs to shreds before I have had a chance to peruse them.


I know this is the beginning of the worst of it, the terrible two's (and three's). When Girlie was the same age, I almost resigned my post as mother, wife, the whole enchilada. I hatched a secret plan to escape to Mexico with a new identity and as much cash as I could take from our joint account without leaving my husband and only child penniless.

I was going to alter my appearance and go by the name Shelly.

Back then I lived in Georgia. There would have been plane tickets, receipts, things to trace my departure. It didn't seem feasible, so I stuck it out. Now I find myself in Arizona where the only thing between me and Mexico is enough gas in the minivan to make the border.

So, how do you think I would look as a redhead?

Friday, May 29, 2009


When I stumbled into retail a few years back I felt like such a fraud. Though I had been a serious indie store stalker for many years, I had very little actual retail experience. My girlfriend, in what was probably a post-partum act of delirium, hired me to manage her hipster gift shop. Three months later she sent me to the gift market as a buyer with a list of vendors to visit and instructions to "just go ahead and order anything else cool."

So there I was, with someone else's credit cards, navigating thirty floors of products. I was terrified. I tried to bolster myself with the facts: I had a pretty good feel for the aesthetic of the store. I had list of previous orders to work from. I had a budget. I could cancel orders once I got back. Still, it was difficult to convince myself that I could pull it off without the safety net of experience to call on.

I like feeling like I am fully qualified to do something. That I have been well trained to make the right choices. That there is some knowledge base in my mind which gives me the undeniable permission to do whatever it is I am doing.

Which is probably why motherhood is such a struggle. And why slogging my way along towards being a writer feels so scary.

I don't have a literary background. My sophomore year of college, I ditched the English department and went in a different direction, ending up with a degree in computers. Then I chucked my corporate gig for a stint in retail. My mind is filled with tidbits of systems upgrades and five year color trends. Knowing that purple has been staging a comeback for the last three years (and failing to really take hold), isn't going to help me write a book or pitch an article. People who have been into this stuff for years mention things I have never heard of, like The Chicago Manual of Style, and I smile and nod and think yeah, what she said, then I go home and google it. I read, but I don't consider myself well read. I am usually too unsure of myself to use a semi-colon; I have a long way to go.

Yesterday, I signed up for a writer's weekend hosted by the Sun Magazine. The conference is touted as one appropriate for all levels of writers and I am just going to believe it. I think it will feel exactly like my first trip to the gift market. Intimidating as hell.

I did end up with a decent pile of orders at that first gift show. I did go on to own a store myself. Somewhere in between I started to feel legit. I think eventually I'll probably find my groove as a writer too. I have allowed myself to believe that you can get where you want to be with some persistence and a lucky break or two.

I just hate the part right before it happens.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ode to summer break

Oh summer break, how you shimmer with such excitement and promise!

You lure me in with images of cherry popsicles and dips in the pool and lazy afternoons spent lounging in the back yard. You tease me with summer reading lists full of delicious chick lit and vacation specials luring me onto flights to San Diego for only $49. You make me feel like things are really going to slow down, that the absence of school is actually a gift, and the freedom from the ten minute carpool line is something to be treasured.

But I am on to you.

I know that hidden within your mirage of sunny slickery lies an evil undercurrent; one feared by mothers everywhere. A threat so insiduous that one almost has to whisper when speaking of it.


So yes, I will endure you. I will pretend, for the sake of the children, and I will persevere.

But I will not be fooled.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


So recently we're in the car and Girlie announces that she isn't having babies. Ever.

I wonder if it has to do with her little brother and what a pain he can be. I worry about the age difference between them and try to decide whether I should have given in and just had Little Guy a little earlier. I wonder if Little Guy would have been Little Guy if I HAD had him earlier. I think about whether Girlie wants to be just like her aunt, my husband's sister, who has said the same thing. I wonder if my sis-in law will ever change her mind about that. I wonder if it would bother me if my daughter never had a baby.

For ten seconds, I think about all of these things.

But most of all, I am a little surprised by it. She is a girlie-girl who loves her baby dolls. I was the same way and I can't remember a time when I didn't want tons of babies. That is, until after I had my first one. Then I wasn't so sure.

I ask her why and she explains that she doesn't want to get married. Because boys are, you know, eeeewww.

And then the crazy thoughts clear and I think...

Yes they are, honey.

Yes they are.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Get with the program!

Every spring some actress pops up on the cover of People Magazine in a bikini. She is always of some advanced age (which in Hollywood is everyone over 25) and touts a program where she lost 40 or 80 or 300 pounds. Everyone applauds her bravery. Look! A bikini! On the cover of People! And they didn't even photoshop it (wink wink)!

This year it was Valerie Bertinelli, 48 years old, in a green string bikini. She followed the Jenny Craig program and got her life back "one pound at a time." Ha ha. We get the joke.

During her Oprah interview, Valerie admitted to hiring a personal trainer and cutting back her caloric intake even more drastically during the three weeks leading up to the photo shoot. She starved and did thousands of squats, despite the fact that they could have photoshopped those last three weeks in, which seems more stupidity than bravery to me. So she let them snap a photo of her at her thinnest and probably most hungry moment and we are all supposed believe that this is what a normal person can achieve.

I have noticed on some of the Mommy blogs that the dreaded build up to bathing suit season is in full swing. Everyone is looking for the perfect suit and possibly even a floor length cover up to go with it. Most of these gals are my age and almost of all them, as well as my non blogging Mom friends, hate the way they look in a bathing suit.
We have a pool, and though I try not to make a big deal about it, I started doing Weight Watchers online last month to get that last 10 lbs off. The weight began creeping on with the holiday cookies and the next thing you know my cute summer shorts from last year are too tight.

Weight Watchers has always worked for me because I am a checklist write it down see it right in front of you type of person. I am Italian and Southern, so the no carb no fat thing is never going to work for me. With Weight Watchers, I can have that stuff, but I just have to balance it out with other things. That means that sometimes I can't eat for the rest of the day, but hey, that donut was totally worth it! Anyway, I managed to get a few pounds off, but I still have a little more to go.

Which brings us back to Valerie Bertinelli and her supposedly un-photoshopped People Magazine cover. As the mother of a young daughter, I feel responsible for giving Girlie a positive message about beauty and her body. I don't say much about my own weight or use the word "diet" in conversations where she might be listening. I want her to know that I don't have to be perfectly skinny to be beautiful and neither does she. During the last month, I began to wonder if my spring diet on the sly and annual one piece bathing suit search contradicts the values I am trying to teach Girlie. If I can't be happy with the way I am, how can I teach her to be?

So this year, I dug out a bikini that I bought, but never wore last year. I am going to wear it though I am a far from perfect and I still haven't hit that ideal number. I am going to wear it without saying or even thinking one negative thing about myself. I am going to wear it for my daughter with the hope that doing so will take some of the weight off of this whole idealized beauty trap.

It's not the cover of People, but here goes: I am thirty six years old, weigh 136 pounds, wear a size 8, and I lost a whopping 6 pounds this spring. And here is my (real) unedited cover shot...

I'll let you know when they schedule my Oprah interview.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Ah, how the parties have changed. These days when someone cries or throws up, it means one of the little people has had a few too many of the bite sized cupcakes. We spent part of our time keeping Little Guy from investigating the workings of the mini-keg, a downsized homage to days past. We did have big fun though.

This morning we took turns taking catnaps, laid around listening to The Cure, and nibbled on leftovers. Later on, I will take Girlie to a movie.

Which, now that I think about it, is exactly how I would have spent the day after a party ten years ago.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What is she smokin'?

We've been busy all day smokin' pork and whipping up two kinds of BBQ sauce, a yellow mustard based called The Sting (of the Georgia Tech Yellowjacket variety) and a traditional sauce with a tangy bite called The Dawg (as in the University of Georgia Bulldogs).

Tomorrow we are hosting a southern cookout in the desert.

I sent out a few emails figuring most everyone was heading out of town and not one single person turned us down. Apparently, you dangle slow smoked pork out there and everyone comes running!

But don't get me wrong. I am really looking forward to the big crowd we'll have. Tonight it occurred to me that we have friends again. After moving 2000 miles with two kids in tow, I thought I might have lost my friend mojo. Who knows, with any luck I might have a few too many beers and give that Sally Field "you really like me" speech.

People really love that.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What ales me...

So I have been on a quest to get Sweetwater Ale, an Atlanta beer that I swear I have had since moving to Arizona. I would like to serve it alongside the southern style smoked pork we are serving at a BBQ this weekend. BBQ & southern beer; I have a theme going.

Because I was desperate and probably a little delirious from the over 100 heat, I went to Walmart earlier this week just to make sure they didn't have it. I don't know what possessed me to go there, except it seems like they have everything and usually it's pretty cheap.

From the get-go that place just ticks me off. First, I have to navigate the enormous parking lot which is full of random loose carts. It makes my blood boil when people won't walk the extra TEN feet required to put a cart back into the cart returns. And, somehow, Walmart shoppers are the worst of the bunch. Really people, I am thinking the cart full of 2 liter Diet Cokes aren't going to help much if you can't bring yourself to walk a few feet out of your way. Oh, and maybe put back the gargantuan bag of Cheetos. But, I digress.

Determined to get my beer, I grab an orphan cart and head for the double doors. I pass the obligatory old lady greeter, dodge the towering display of 2 for 1 packs of men's knee socks, and weave through the rows of pink terry zipper front night gowns, after which I finally find myself in the grocery department.

They have a whole aisle for chips. I am not kidding.

Anyway, I cruise past the chips and keep looking until I spot the aisle labeled beer & wine. I head that way. Here is where the whole story takes an ugly turn.

Turns out, Walmart does not have a decent selection of beer. Maybe this shouldn't surprise me, but it does! You can get a bag of chips the size of a small child and a jar of 700 pickles for only $3, but don't go to Walmart for your beer.

They had more wine than beer. I am not kidding.

So, no Sweetwater Ale. And no more trips to Walmart. At least until I need more of those pickles... one down, 699 to go.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Unlike the real world, cyberspace doesn't easily forget your gaffs.

I first experienced this back in the good old days when our only form of "social networking" was via email. I hit "Reply All" on a group message and made a snarky remark only intended for one of the people on the list. I tried to cover my tracks by playing it off as a joke, but I am certain everyone knew. For years after that I could barely reply to a message without double checking the contents and the recipient list.

Recently I showed up red faced in the comments section of a friend's blog. Emboldened by the glass of wine on my desk one evening, I pecked out a comment intended to be funny. On second thought, maybe not so much. Of course, it was too late. My friend removed the comment and I was completely horrified. I cyber-apologized, she understood, and the offensive thing was erased. But still, for a little while, it was out there.

Sometimes I regret little snippets of things I have said in this blog. Even when the content is okay, I certainly wince at the way I wrote it. And then there is the way that your twitter messages can come across short tempered and testy. You can sound upset! Depending on your punctuation! I am thinking of that poor woman who twitted about smothering her kids when they wouldn't go to bed (she was joking) and then found the police at her door (they weren't in on the joke). Facebook kills me too. How many times has my witty banter been marred by a typo? How many times has it not really been witty? More than I can count.

Sometimes nothing beats a face to face conversation. Remember those? You can see that the person is joking. You can tell who the comment was intended for. You can quickly apologize for an ill timed bit of snark.

But, put it out in cyberspace and you may as well have spray painted it on your front door. For the most part, you can't easily take it back.

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled, I have an idea for a post that I will probably live to regret.

I wonder if they have cyber-therapy? Or is it more like cyber-detox?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Extraordinarily ordinary

So a few blogger/writer friends and I had a long discussion about blogs a few weeks ago. We picked apart the concept of blog identity and what makes certain blogs stand out. Lately this whole "why blog" thing has been swirling around in my mind. I do it mainly to keep my brain going a little. As I have said before, I consider this a little jog for my writing skills. Sure, I am not going to win any races at this pace, but it keeps me moving.

A while back a friend who has a pretty well followed blog and who recently picked up a paid blogging gig told me I should come up with something specific about myself to blog about. A unique quality.

Though I am trying hard to, I can't seem to come up with anything.

Look, I even made a list.

1. I am a terrible driver. At least once a year I manage to hit a pole, a mailbox, the garage door. Maybe a blog about the scrapes I actually avoid or the money I could be saving by not having my already paid for in cash car in the shop on a yearly basis.

2. I used to own a retail store. This might be interesting if I still owned a store, but I am guessing that stories about what happened, say two years ago, are going to be a bit of a snore. Still, I never lost money at that business, so maybe some kind of advice column. I could call it Advice from a chick lucky enough to get out before the bottom fell out of the economy? Okay, maybe not.

3. I am from the southeast and now I live in the southwest. Maybe some type of pioneer inspired entries where I trade fried okra for fish tacos? Mint juleps to tequila shots? Wait, that sounds like a food blog. Plus then I would have to be completely honest about the whole tequila thing. Scratch that.

So there it is, I am extraordinarily ordinary. Suburban housewife crabby about her children. Maybe even my mother with a blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Toe-tally in love!

I am not always easy on myself, and can be quick to pick out every little bump, ripple, and dent. I don't like my squishy post baby stomach and have never been a fan of my boobs (either one of them, especially the left one). My skin is usually a disaster and my brows must be plucked into submission. I think I have nice eyes, but I can't seem to get past my permanently creased forehead to actually focus on them.

But, I love my toes.

It all started around ten years ago when I was living in downtown Atlanta, freshly married and living in a fantastic 1920's condo building just one block from all the best pubs and restaurants. We had a pretty tight click of friends there, all married with no kids (except that one poor girl, and lordy, did we ever judge her). One of our friends was a gorgeous blond, tall and skinny, with perfect little perky boobs, all her own. To top it off, she was a photo stylist, so she always seemed to have the scoop on the cool before the cool. She was, of course, completely insane, but we all loved hanging around her. I think I might have even had a girl crush on her for just a little while.

One afternoon we were out shoe shopping and she glanced over at me and then squeaked out "ohmygodletmeseeyourfeet." She told me I had the cutest toes ever and she totally envied my feet. Whatever, I told her. Your feet are cute too. Then she let me in on a dirty little secret.

She went to a nail salon and had a fake nail put on her big toe. Her real big toenail was a tiny little dot, hardly worth painting!


Yesterday another friend posted a homeopathic cure for ingrown toenails. I'll have to file that one away. You see, I always take really good care of my toes. They are after all one of my finer features...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hot stuff

Congrats to Hubs on finishing another killer race! They each have a challenge and this one was the heat. He said that the swim and bike were some of the best he's had. After the first two miles of the run, the over 100 degree heat started kicking in and slowed him up a bit.
He's got his eye on the Soma Half Ironman in late October. He says he'll have to work on some conditioning specifically for the heat. Since my idea of battling the heat usually involves getting neck deep in the pool with a cold drink, he's on his own for that one!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Go Daddy!

Hubs is participating in the Tempe International Triathlon tomorrow, so today will be spent relaxing, getting together his running, swimming, and biking gear (makes me tired just thinking about it), and finally shuttling his bike to the race location where he'll pick up a packet and his race number.

Tomorrow, he'll swim 1500 meters (just shy of a mile), then bike 24 miles, then run 6.4 miles. For fun.

I can't tell you how much I admire him and enjoy watching him prepare for these things. He takes it pretty seriously, but somehow manages not to get completely obsessed. His relaxed but focused approach is something that comes very natural for him, and I see it so clearly on the days leading up to a race. I just try get as close as possible to him and hope that some of it rubs off on me.

UPDATE: So tonight over dinner, he's giving me that look, and I'm all "But honey, your race is tomorrow, most serious athletes, don't, you know..." and he's all "I'm not THAT serious of an athlete."
Uh huh. I see that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Catalog

I remember exactly when it happened. I was sitting on my couch, leafing through the mail I had picked up from my box earlier, when I spotted it. I picked up the phone and immediately called my best friend.

"Well, it's official. I can now move on to the next phase in my life."

"What are you talking about?" She asked.

"Pottery Barn. They have a kids catalog. I think I can be a mother now." I was twenty eight, had been with my husband for ten years, married for five of them, and was looking for a sign.

"You're crazy," she answered, "are you forgetting the minivan?"

"I could learn to like it."

"Whatever. We're meeting at Neighbors for happy hour. Bring the catalog."

And there it was, something I could finally relate to. Pages of perfect children's rooms filled with themed items you could purchase and sprinkled with fun vintage pieces that you couldn't. I could see myself with one of these rooms. Still hip and stylish.

It would be two more years before I took the plunge and found myself pregnant with our daughter. At that time, the celebrity baby boom had barely begun, and the"it"girls adorned themselves with a small dog in a leather bag, not a small child in a sling. I poured over the pages of my Pottery Barn Kids catalog and decorated my daughter's room in a vintage travel theme, mixing in antique Eiffel towers and old postcards. Rachel on Friends was pregnant too.

Of course, just weeks after she was born, the room looked nothing like I expected. I had to throw a towel over my cute chair so she wouldn't spit up on it, the pillow and throw blanket once carefully tossed over the back, now lay crumpled on the floor behind it. Eventually, I had to put away the things I had carefully chosen for her bookshelf. Rachel's baby never moved, but mine sure messed up the room I designed.

So much of becoming a mother is about reconciling the ideas you had about yourself, your child, your home, to the actual situation you are given. I wish I could say that seven years later, and with a second child, I don't occasionally cringe at how little my life resembles that stylized version of motherhood (just yesterday, dusting the now mostly empty shelf in Little Guy's room, or this morning, where the coffee table has been taken over, not by stacks of expensive wooden blocks and clever children's books, but by cheapie plastic toys, the worst kind of bottom feeder types that came from who knows where). Still, it has gotten easier. As my kids have gotten older, my expectations have also matured. Their rooms have become a reflection of who they are, not who I am. And as for me, I don't give myself too hard of a time for staring at the pretty pictures. And the minivan?

Still learning to like it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Luck of the draw

A friend of mine recently mentioned that lately she has been sleeping in until 8 or 9 AM while her husband gets up with their son. I caught myself just before I said something like lucky you. Her husband was recently laid off, so really her stroke of fortune is just a small perk, a sliver of something nice, to get her through a pretty tough time. I can relate to her situation, though my husband was lucky enough to get laid off a few years ago when the economy was a little more cooperative.

Another friend who has a son just a few months older than Little Guy recently tweeted from the hospital where her son was being treated for a broken femur. Lucky us, this hasn't happened to Little Guy, though I can think of a million times when it easily could have. Lucky her, it wasn't worse. He'll get the ridiculously inconvenient spica cast off in a few weeks, and the whole incident will become a testament to her resilience as a mother of five boys.

A few weeks ago, my grocery store had a sale on pints of Ben and Jerry's ( just $1.50 each!). This, on the same week I renewed my efforts to get that 7lb muffin top gone by summer. Just my luck, I thought. I bought some anyway and stuck it in the spare freezer, where my husband retrieves them and indulges in a lucky treat.

Really, the difference between a little bad luck and a lucky break is just a matter of perspective.

Today, I'll finish up my short story, one that I have now overworked like a piece of dough, and pray that it will still rise. I'll send it off, not really counting on anything big. It might not be a winner, but this week I felt pretty lucky to have something to focus on other than runny noses and requests for more juice.

Anyway, wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No! Yes!

Little Guy's cold has now moved into a hacking cough. I could hear him up coughing throughout night. Though he never called out for me, I am sure he got as little sleep as I did. Today I can predict there will be lots of clinging and more coughing. I'll have to put aside most of what I hope to accomplish and hang on to him until he feels better. Hubs is out of town this week, so I will do it all by myself.

Little Guy is just a few months shy of turning two. He has hit the stage where his first reaction to any question is "no." Of course, he doesn't always mean it, so you can ask him if he wants another cookie and the response goes something like "No! Yes!" It is annoying, but on some level I totally get it. A two year old's actions are in so many ways a very clear representation of the inner struggle we all have to control things.

Today I will pack a lunch and shuffle Girlie through carpool. I'll wipe Little Guy's dripping nose and pick him up when he whines for it. I'll fold laundry and fix drinks. I'll get Girlie to swim lessons and supervise her homework. I'll make dinner and get everyone to bed. I'll spend the day thinking about, but not working on, the short story I need to hammer out for a contest deadline.

And all the while, I'll be thinking "No! Yes!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

That snot funny

Little Guy recently learned how to blow his nose. Since he has a cold, oh, every other day, I was pretty excited about this particular milestone. I hold the tissue up and say blow, and he does it. Sometimes he even holds the tissue himself. I thought back about how long it took Girlie to figure this out and thought it was nice that he picked this one up a little earlier.

Until he learned that it was so much more fun to just blow the snot out without a tissue in sight.

So now I chase him around the house, with the tissue in my hand, while he squeals in delight and blows snot everywhere.

Snot funny. Really.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Great job!

At 4:30 AM, I got a text from Hubs' boss thanking me for a great first year on the job. Of course, the message was really for Hubs. His boss has my cell number from a time when Hubs had to use my phone and he gets mixed up on occasion. He is in Boston today, so it was 7:30 AM his time, hence the crack of dawn message.

After checking my phone, I laid in bed awake, unable to fall back asleep, thinking about the last year. I am so thankful we made this move. I love living out west. I have had a chance to reconnect with one of my closest friends at a time when we had all but given up on living in the same city again. I love the changes I have been able to make to the pace of my life, even though I miss my store and I really miss working. In so many ways, this move, this year, and being at home full time, has been a new role for me too. Really, a supporting role.

When I owned my business I didn't have a boss to send me a congratulatory text message, but there were tangible things, like sales numbers and press about the store, to let me know if things were going well. It is a little harder to gauge where I am now. I suppose I could just roll with it, but that really isn't my nature. I like concrete things, evidence, an A, a promotion, an admirable P&L.

Maybe I will just pretend that message was really for me. Great job. One year down. On to the next one.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The reading

Last night I stood behind a microphone for the first time since college. As I heard my voice filtering back through the speakers, I became instantly reconnected to my younger self.

The girl who won first in my state high school speech contest. The girl who went to college on a debate scholarship. The girl who declared herself an English major and thought she might head to law school. The magic of having everything ahead and nothing behind.

At the end of it, I felt her slipping away again. It was like running into an old friend at the airport. Surprise, utter joy, a brief exchange, a promise to reconnect, a hasty goodbye, then a twinge of sadness.

Still, it was so great to run into her.

Happy Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day to all of the amazing women in my life, and especially to my mom! Though our relationship has and always will be complicated, I know you love me with all of your heart and you gave me everything you had, not the least of which is some great writing material!

I love you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mothers Who Write Reading

Come join me this Saturday night! I will be reading a piece I wrote at the the annual “Mothers Who Write, Mothers Who Read” Mother’s Day Weekend Reading. You'll hear my piece, plus tons of other fantastic writing by some really talented women.

Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 6 p.m.
Stage Two, Scottsdale Center for the Arts
Please note: Some material may not be suitable for children

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Later tater

Goodbye Mrs. Potato Head!

Though you have been with us for some time, it is now time to part ways. In all honesty, you never lived up to the hype. Sure, it's hard to be entertaining once your nose has been chewed by the dog. And, of course, things were never quite the same after your hat was tossed in the trash. But, in all fairness, it never stayed on anyway. I guess I could have popped it back on your bumpy little head, but I was angry and in pain after stepping on it, pointy side up, for the hundredth time. You would have done the same, except your feet always fell off anyway. Still, it wasn't my finest moment.

I guess there was supposed to be some lesson in your female potato-ness, but I don't think the kids ever got it. No one ever called you Mrs. or even Ms., preferring to simply call you Day-dohead. And though you occasionally showed some spunk, with an ear for a nose or a goofy smile for an ear, most of the time you were a largely uninspiring example of the feminine ideal, gloved hands silently clutching your handbag, smile frozen in place. Fifty years ago you were clever and ironic, but now your novelty has worn off and you are going to have to come up with a few more tricks to keep up with this generation.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It ain't easy being cheesy


This week, I have been going back through my work from my writing class to rework certain sections based on the feedback I received. I haven't touched my book in weeks because I need to make the shift from first to third person and rewriting it is going to change everything, but I have picked up a few pages and reread them.

It's funny how weeks later you can read something you wrote and loved, swooned over even, and suddenly it sounds like complete junk. The same thing happens with my blog entries. A brilliant insight becomes a dimly lit sentence, possibly a contradiction, and worst of all, cheesy.

I always tell myself that if my efforts turn out one or two really great sentences then it was worth it. And that I am still in the very early stages of taking this stuff seriously. And that I have the rest of my life to get better at it. And that I am not alone in feeling this way. And who cares, it's really just for me to judge anyway (but oh no, I am my worst critic, better to be judged by others). Scratch all that, I am just not going to beat myself up about it. Nope.


Even now I want to end this by saying that I need more cracker, less cheese.

But there I go again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


A friend of mine who also has two small children recently commented that she didn't know how I found the time to work on my writing.

I told her that I have given up cleaning the toilets.

That isn't true entirely. I always clean the hall bathroom. It is the one the kids use and the one guests will see. But the master bath sometimes gets a little scummy. The fact is, it bugs me a little.

I keep a pretty orderly house. At the end of each day, I like putting things away, wiping down the surfaces, and starting over fresh each morning. I don't leave dirty dishes hanging around in the sink. I don't leave the art supplies scattered in the office. I pick up the random discarded shoes and straighten the couch pillows. I make the bed every damn day, even if it winds up being towards the evening. It's my thing.

But recently I came to the conclusion that I can't possibly keep up with everything and still find time for myself. Not the most earth shattering conclusion, I know. I am almost thirty seven years old and apparently a pretty slow learner.

So I am learning to let go a little and prioritize. Right now, glittery words are more important than sparkling toilets.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A new stage

Girlie performed in her first grade school play last week. She belted out the songs with gusto, and didn't miss a line on her poem, all with a huge smile on her face. This, from my gal, who has always held back a little and never been the one to take center stage.

I watched her from the audience and was completely blown away by her presence.

Not in any my kid is gonna be a star kind of way, but more in the wow my daughter is an amazing person kind of thing. She was gorgeously unselfconscious and for just a moment I was a stage mother wanting to soak in all of that energy for myself.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Finding some meaning

Every Thursday night for the last few months I have been participating in a writing workshop.

It means that Hubs has to come home on time, which really means slightly early, since he is never home at what I consider to be on time anyway.

It means that I should have two pages, around 1000 words, written, edited, rewritten, and finally printed 15 times, ready to be read aloud and critiqued.

It means that I need to have dinner ready early, myself showered, my kids occupied, my materials packed, and a pen and paper handy.

It means that as soon as Hubs gets in the door, I have to run out saying thereischickeninthefridgeandveggiesonthestoveItoldGirlieshecouldusethecomputerLittleGuyiscrankyandohbythewaythefishisdeadloveyoubye

It means that for two hours I get to hang out with tons of talented women, who also happen to be mothers, and listen to amazingly crafted sentences.

It means an occasional drink after with "that part, with the thing, in your piece, I loved that."

And, really that means everything.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sick of it all

I woke up to the sounds of scuffling in the hall bathroom. It was 2:30 AM and the second or third time I heard Girlie getting up, so I peeled myself out of bed to investigate.

I poked my head in the door and she said she wasn't feeling well and then broke into a cough. I didn't even have to press my hand against her flushed cheeks to tell she had a fever. I got her some water, dug out the humidifier and Tylenol, and took her temp. Her fever was fairly low, but I gave her some Tylenol anyway turned on the ceiling fan and the Hello Kitty nightlight and tucked her back into bed.

As I slipped back under the covers, Hubs asked me what was going on. I told him Girlie was sick.

"Keep an eye on her." He mumbled.
I knew what he was thinking. The damn Swine flu.

"I know." I whispered. "But her fever isn't very high, and she wasn't achy, so I think it's just a run of the mill virus."

Sure enough, this morning her fever was down and she is feeling a little better. I am keeping her home from school today and hoping that she'll feel fine by the weekend.

So we'll continue washing our hands, like our President advised us to, and wait out the latest crisis du jour with the rest of the country. I dug out the Purell, which I am careful not to overuse, and we'll keep that handy too.

Still, I know that the little bottle of antibacterial goop can't protect us from the worst thing we have ever seen. The Fear Pandemic. We'll worry ourselves to death over oil, money, a flu we caught from the pigs, bankruptcy, Mexico, our mortgages, the layoffs, and the list goes on and on and on.

And we'll all die, just inches from a keyboard tweeting or texting or blogging our last pithy remarks.