Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Some Assistance, Please
My husbands boss was kind enough to give him (us, really) a fancy toy for Christmas, but now we're left with the job of filling a 30-gig-a-somethin' with music. Now, both of us used to be hip and cool and had giant CD collections...but that was then, and this is now, where we listen to the themesong to Blues Clues and sing the ABC's.

So, what I need is some recommendations for things to download - because even with our "giant" CD collections uploaded, we've still got a lot of room on this sucker.

Here's a general idea of what I'm looking for:

Music that inspires you: The stuff you listen to when painting, relaxing, daydreaming, writing, whatever it is that you do to express yourself. (Something that might be good for someone who's, say, working on writing a short story collection for her thesis...)

Music that gets you moving: Pretty self-explanatory. I'm looking for music to help keep me company while I work off the rest of this baby weight (Only three pounds left to go - Wee!)

Music that you could listen to forever: Basically, if you were on an island and could only bring a handful of albums, list 'em for me. I'm interested in finding really good quality stuff to try out.

Some other guidelines for recommendations:

* I don't do country. (Sorry, I just never got into it.)

* In general, I don't really care for music with expletives, though there are always exceptions (just warn me in advance if there are very harsh lyrics.)

* If the singer is named Paris, Britney, Lindsay or Christina, etc...I'm probably not going to be a big fan. In general, my tastes don't lean towards poptarts.

Otherwise, that's it. I'm pretty much open to anything and everything and really am looking for lots of eclectic suggestions - so fire away! (Please!)

Monday, January 29, 2007
I Am
This is similar to the I Am From that I posted last week. Mary at Owlhaven is hosting a contest using both of these formats, if you're interested take a peek - it's open 'till February 10th. Either way, it's another writing exercise that I enjoyed taking a stab at.

I Am

I am the dark-haired baby born in the mill city of Kerouac and cobblestones, born by the Merrimack and swaddled by a soft-spoken mother and a booming-voiced father. The baby who rocked her own cradle - hard enough to move it, enough to block the nursery door.

I am the child who played kickball and pirates and ran amuck in the land of make-believe 'till the sun went down and the neighborhood returned to itself - ordinary houses and square lawns, quiet beneath the sleepy glow of streetlights. The child who spent countless hours scribbling and typing, feverishly writing and saving her stories - her treasures in piles of paper on her closet floor.

I am the teenager who played soccer and clarinet, who went to conferences and retreats, and came home to two siblings - yet always wrote about feeling alone. Who dreamed of adventures beyond home, away from the place where her father yelled (and where she never quite learned to bite her tongue.)

I am the woman who left for college - for late-nights wandering Eastern European alleys and early morning train rides, elbow-rubbing-elbow with people smelling of onion and garlic and dirt. I am the woman who never really went home, yet now loves her family and friends and faith above all else - even above the wildness of her own heart.

I am the mother who loves cool cheeks pressed against her own and the lilting of Mom from her children's lips. Who goes crazy if she misses kissing them goodnight and whose bliss is found in the smallest of moments - in the warmth of her babies breath on her chest as she sleeps, or in the sound of her son's bare feet padding across the kitchen to wrap her in a hug.

I am a student and writer and part-time office slave, who loves coffee breaks and pay checks and who procrastinates at every possible turn.

I am the person stealing moments away from my family in pursuit of my own ambitions, who loses sleep over writers-block and mommy-guilt.

I am the woman who still rocks herself to sleep and will always love the land of make believe.

I am the woman who dreams of finishing a novel, of publishing a book, and finally finding time for all the little moments I'm afraid of missing along the way. But, more so, I am the woman who hopes to be simply satisfied, wherever the journey leads.


Saturday, January 27, 2007
So, I made the transition to "Beta" a couple of month's ago now and haven't done a thing with it. I didn't really see the point to the whole conversion, since nothing changed here. I saw other blogs with these "label" things at the end of the posts and while, I liked the idea of blog-organization, I had no idea really what they did, or could do for me, until I finally clicked on one.

And ta-dah! The labels actually serve a nifty little purpose. It's like pulling on a filing cabinet drawer, selecting posts that are only what you're interested in reading. So, I spent the morning going through (most - but not all) of my posts and slapped some labels on them.

Obvious one's and then random ones -
Myself, Ramblings, Writing Life, Loss, Preggo, Rantings - just to name a few. Sure, I admit, I got a tad a carried away...Uh, there's even one called Fatness. But I justify it all, considering that it provides a valuable organizational service for my blog readers. Right?

(Oh the length's I'll go to, to avoid homework...)

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Shape of Things: Thursday
Day started off easily enough. The Boss stayed sleeping as my husband left for work, Lila woke to eat but quickly fell back asleep, allowing me to visit dreamland again as well.


At 10:30, I finally hear Boss-man, whining in his room. This usually happens a bit earlier, and normally, I'm greeted by a big 'ol smile and a "Hi!" when I open his door.

Not the case this morning.

No, this morning, he was on his bed - with a shoe on (good for him!) and a diaper of poop...beside him on his blankets.

Have I mentioned that there's nothing I love me than cleaning poop from carpets, blankets, dolls, various toys, and, of course, my wriggling toddler, all before I've had my first cup of coffee?

I haven't?

Oh, right, that's because it's not my favorite way to start the day.

It's my own fault though, I should've suspected something was awry when he didn't even fuss until 10:30.

So began my day.

Now, it's naptime and while checking my email, Yahoo is kind enough to update me on 'top stories' And what's this? Tyra Banks has gained weight? People are concerned?


First off - why is this news? Why is a 161 pound 5 foot 10 inch woman a headline? Of course, I realize that there's an entire network devoted to tracking the lives of celebrities, and I'm not blind to the photoshopped tabloids filled with the 'latest celebrity scandels!' (Oh my!) - I guess I just didn't even realize that Tyra Banks rated at that status.

Or, maybe she doesn't. Maybe her biggest career move, aside from the Emmy-worthy America's Next Top Model and her talk show (that tackles the tough issues - such as, "How to apply make-up like a supermodel"), was to pick up a fork and put it in her mouth...with food on it!

Really, shouldn't there be some party or something somewhere that a (former) supermodel actually managed to eat a sammich or two?

Instead, there's this whole controversy (apparently, from what I've skimmed in the yahoo-news story) involving her recent weight gain. She has even been referred to as "plus-sized" by morning talk show anchors on major networks.

You know what? If
she is plus-sized, sign me up. I'd gain 30 or 40 pounds if I could look that good carrying it.


Wow, apparently I'm having a sarcastic, moody sort of day.

You see what happens when you start your day with poop instead of coffee?

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I Am From...
I found this earlier this morning over at Owlhaven (from there, you can play follow the link to find its origin in the blogosphere) and I fell in love with it. It's instant inspiration for the museless blogger - and so I tried to tackle it as soon as naptime struck. I'm sure I butchered the actual recipe for it, and I'll probably continue to play around with it, but for now, here is my first attempt.

(Also, I think this sort of writing exercise will come in handy in character development. I may use it on my Stealing Season characters, as I need to have that story finished in a matter of weeks to send off to my faculty mentor - Ack.)

I Am From...

I am from bicycles on hot pavement (gravel twisting beneath the wheels), from Popsicle sticks and skinned-knees on cool concrete steps, watching the yoke-yellow sun sink and streetlights stud the sidewalk.

I am from picking blueberries in the backyard and tagging tar-pocked telephone poles, playing kickball in the shadow of Silver Hill. I am from early morning Atari - Miner Fourty-Niner and Boulderdash, belly-down on the carpet. From Betwitched and I Love Lucy, with ginger ale and soup, and my mother's cool hand on my cheek.

I am from van-rides cross-country - from McDonald's pancakes on sticky LA mornings and pop-up trailer's set up at dusk. I am from lantern-lit, Tupperware suppers of beans and barbeque and from sandy footprints on rickety docks, feeding ducks from plastic bags of stale buns.

I am from my father's omelets and hash sizzling on Sunday mornings. From fried bologna, (curled into butterflies, spitting on the stove) and coffee ice cream frappes in Donald Duck cups with red straws, nearly too thick to suck.

I am from nightlights casting shadows on the ceiling and from listening to my sister's breath across the room. From my mother's silhouette - hands folded, kneeling between our beds. And from Pig Latin and laughter long after she'd left.

I am from advent calendars and Christmas eves with popcorn and a big-bulbed tree. From the chimes of golden angels spinning round a carousel of candles, and the soothing cadence of the Christmas story lifting from my mother's lips.

I am from church on Sundays and the knowledge that God is Good. I am from Amy Grant in my stockings and scripture based books on Easter mornings. I am from palm branches twisting in my fist and ticking my nose. I am from the faith that He is risen, He is risen indeed.

I am from a grandfather who lost his name, who died before my father was a man. And I am from Dawn's smoky kitchen with Victor slumped in a recliner watching Dances with Wolves. From my cousin's picking on spiral ham and drinking bottle after bottle until everything blurs into laughter.

I am from paper bags filled with photos and from albums yet to be filled. I am from home video's of junior high band concerts and talent shows - of science fairs and soccer games. I am from journals, with scribbles over every spare space - stacked away in boxes, in closets. I am from memories as cozy as sinking into soft sheets, and replayed as effortlessly as closing my eyes.

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Monday, January 22, 2007
On the Bright Side...

My Bunny, originally uploaded by Mellahoney.

She's smiling a ton now. So much personality. So much to say and do - yes do, even at less than three months old. This girl is busy - sitting up, cooing,trying to roll over, reaching and grabbing - a big smile for each accomplishment. And, of course, I'm absurdly proud of her, her constant cheerleader for each little acheivement.

If only we could have this sense of awe for ourselves as adults, marveling at the things that we can do - and if we could always be as eager with anticipation for the things we have yet to accomplish.

Because, my goodness, she smiles over the tiniest of things...

Smiles, originally uploaded by Mellahoney.


I don't want to talk about it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007
Here are my random, scattered thoughts on the first Saturday that I've been home in month of January.

Are we done yet?
Since Christmas, we've been running, running, running. Across states, between parents houses, to and from campus, to and from doctors, away from ice storms and blackouts. Finally, yesterday evening, we arrived home. And I think we're done. For now. I hope anyhow.

Holy Crap-Pit, Batman!
Yes, we're home and it's wonderful. But between our jaunts to and from holiday festivities, to and from Ohio, to and from Cambridge and then parents houses, etc, etc - we haven't exactly been neat in our brief stop-over's here at home. And we haven't exactly had the time to clean. Until today. So now, we're looking at a L O N G Saturday of cleaning...and I do mean, cleaning. The house has never been such a pit. I'm actually considering just taking a blow-torch to it and starting over. It's going to be one of those days where I'm dragging a huge gallon-trashbag around the house throwing away everything that isn't either living or too heavy for me to lift.

(Husband is currently cleaning out our freezer - we lost power for a couple of days - and he's now showing me how things defrosted and refroze, thus need to be chucked...)

Writing = Hard.
Finding time for it is, anyway. Time and mental energy have both been at a premium lately, and I can't seem to spare any for my "craft." I have enjoyed checking out some new sites that were recommended at one of the seminars I attended on campus though. For any fellow wordsmith's out there, check out
Duotrope - for a ridiculously comprehensive list of all the publishing markets, with constant updates on response times from just about every literary (and non-literary) market out there, and other random things. It's a great timewaster, and (best part), it's free.

Scale say's what?
Yes. I try not to write about it here, because it's not the most interesting fodder for people to be reading - and it's so painfully adolescent, and I wish I were above it - but, I am very weight conscious. And now that we're two and a half months post-partum, I'm really hitting the "Gah! When am I ever going to feel normal again?" phase of dealing with my body. Sure, I'm able to fit into pre-pregnancy clothing, but the fit isn't quite right, and I'm still uber self-conscious. I actually think I feel better naked than I do all wrapped up in clothing that can pinch rolls where there isn't really any fat (for example, the almost ever-present back-fat that appears when wearing a bra - yet disappears into a smooth line when the bra is off.)

The fact is, I know that my body isn't bad (inherantly, it's good, it's strong and has given me two kids), but my perception of it isn't always good. And thus, my interactions with food become battlefields of - can I afford those calories? Or, how much time would I need to spend on the treadmill to counteract that bag of popcorn?

So, according to yesterday's weigh-in, we've got seven pounds to go.
(I'll try not to document this whole drama as it unfolds, but highlights may appear.)

And finally, Go Patriots!
Because, I simply can't bear for my football season to be over, I'm counting on a big win over the Colts tomorrow. Sure, sure, sure, everyone's saying this is "Manning's year" - but, you know, just about everyone picked LT and the Charger's over my boys too, and they came out on top.

Really, I need for them to win, because watching them is one of my favorite completely unrelated-to-writing distractions. And lately, I've needed that.

So, if your team didn't make it to the final four - say a prayer for mine. (And also, say a prayer that I'm not holding my daughter if they lose - I tend to throw things in fits of blind rage.)

And that concludes the wrap-up of randomness zipping through my brain at any given moment in time. Now, to deal with "The Pit" - maybe I'll post pictures when it's all clean.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007
He left her in the summer - after sharing a home, traveling with her cross-country, taking her to meet his mother, asking my father-in-law for her hand in marriage - after all this, he simply left. Started pulling back into himself, piece by piece, slowly until Sil was forced to ask the uncomfortable and the obvious, what's left?

At first, I was worried. Afraid she'd revert to her hardened self, afraid he'd damaged her, nervous that the new, soft Sil that I'd come to appreciate and love would be lost again beneath a layer of anger and disappointment and hurt.

But the world didn't collapse and she did manage to survive, somehow intact - allowing herself the time to be wounded and healed.

And then he called.

Days ago, he called and then arrived at her doorstep with a three-beer glow, asking to come in and talk. Which led to cuddling, which her - open again to the possibility of him. Of them. Of a Spring wedding and a romantic honeymoon. Of saying goodmorning over coffee in their breakfast nook or falling asleep together on the couch. Open to the possibility of life lived with him. Again.

But, like some horrible cliche, he left her with little more than a thin promise to call that turned into her checking her phone, hoping that she wasn't taken advantage of.

But she was.

And I'm baffled. I guess this is where my naivete comes in, but I'm just in awe that people can be so callous and detatched and hurtful - that this cliche scenario is real.

Monday, January 15, 2007
And so begins...
The ridiculous and long process of revising everything and preparing for life after grad school.

I've enjoyed being able to say I'm a mom and a grad student - as though the addition of those two little words somehow justified my existance as a writer with purpose.

But what happens after June, when I've submitted my bound collection of short stories and I've taught my graduate seminar? Who will I be, as a writer, after the diploma's are all handed out, and I no longer have deadlines and mentors, to keep me actively working?

What happens when I'm "just a mom" with her MFA in a rather unmarketable field? Few profitable jobs are looking for creative writing MFA's - aside from adjunct teaching positions at local community colleges.

So, where will I fit in, when my success as an author will be entirely on my shoulders?

Though, I guess that's where it's been all along. Writing programs only provide a safe place - a forum to discuss the craft and the doubt that comes along with it. Success is all dependant on the writer themselves. Success goes to those with the largest stack of rejection letters - because those are the writers who are actually striving - submitting. And because eventually, if the stars align, and their work meets just the right readers at just the right moment, a letter will come with the word Congratulations in it.

But, in the meantime, I am still a student - and there's much to revise. I've posted the other piece that I workshopped (and then rapidly revised) at my recent residency over at the Stealing Season, if you're interested in quick read. It's a story that I posted there back in October, but was in need of a little more depth, or so they recommended at the workshop.

I felt it was revised enough, because I stopped dreaming about the characters - they let me rest. Hopefully, I did them justice.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Here's something new that I'm working on - one of the pieces to smooth over this semester and hopefully put into my thesis.

If you've got the "I'm bored at work" sort of feeling, take a

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Monday, January 08, 2007
Last semester began over the weekend.

Things I've learned so far:

1. I love being alone in a place where no one really knows me. It's like hiding, ducking out of my humdrum life for squandered hours here and there and getting to return to myself - to the me that's silenced by Spaghetti-O's on the floor and smears of Balmex. The me I pushed aside for my children, to carry them I gave my body - but to raise them, I gave the me I've always known. The one who secretly thinks terrible things like If I were living each day like it's my last, I'd be on the other side of the Atlantic...and then I realize that in that perfect, idealic existence, I'm walking the cobblestone streets alone.

Thankfully, before I can delve too deeply away from myself (my mommy-self) the subway car jerks to a halt and my daydreams are scattered like the Cheerio's I'll be sweeping up when I get home.

Sitting in the workshops, I'm creative-me. I'm curious and interested and, before we begin, I'm quietly listening - absorbing the gentle chatter of non-parental conversations sprinkling around me refreshing as rain.

Walking home, I peek in boutique windows or ethnic markets and am tempted to pause. To stop my fast foot-to-concrete pace and just let myself slip into aisles of foreign stores, fingering linens or knick-knacks or bags of strange sweets, until I forget where it was I had been in such a rush to return.

Except, I can't. My mother-in-law can only watch the children so many hours in a day.

So I instead descend the million-steps to the subway, stare at the bricks, the rails, the dirt, the smudges of footprints on the thick yellow "Do Not Cross" line.

And I wait.

2. I love being home.
Because he runs to hug me within ten seconds after I walk through the door. Because his hair is soft and his cheeks are cool and he smiles when he looks up and calls me Mom like it's a word he invented - just for me.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Since it's nearing midnight and I'm up with the chills/running nose/aches/sore throat evil virus that won't let me sleep easily (I belong on a Nyquil ad) - I thought I'd attempt a mindless meme. Something to jog the 'ol brain. This is one that I've seen around in a couple of different variations - most recently, I spied it over at Darkmind's page. Thought I'd give it a go...though I don't think I'm quite strange enough to hold much interest.

Six "Strange" Things About Mella:

1. I was once fired for stealing a kiwi. In high school, I worked at Victory Supermarkets, wearing a bright blue blazer and crisp red bowtie I scanned smalltown people's groceries through the check out lane after school and on weekends. The day of the Kiwi was a particularly busy one at the 'ol market - so busy that the manager on duty requested that I take my lunch break as quickly as possible (re: pay for the lunch that I was buying after my break, when the lines died down. ) So, I got my lunch together, slices of turkey and some rolls, a York Peppermint patty and two kiwi's and settled into the bright green break room to eat.

Turns out there was a "Victory Cop" on duty that day - thin, rat looking guy, with a trucker cap and slicked hair. He came in, not after me, but after the produce employee that he'd been eyeing all morning who made the mistake of taking a cucumber with him into the breakroom - without paying for it. I was an afterthought - he stopped by to explain to me what was going on, produce man in his grips, when he realized that he hadn't asked to see my receipts. At this point, all that remained of my lunch was a single kiwi, for which I had no receipt.

Long story short - I showed Rat-Cop the upc codes I'd peeled from each of my purchases (for scanning after lunch) and explained that I'd been told to eat first, pay later - but the MOD denied everything (wouldn't want to go against store policy, you know, telling employees to pay after eating) and I was canned. It was the first and only time I've hyperventilated. Breathing into a brown bag really does help.

2. When I was little, I used to draw pictures of hands with long colored nails and fancy rings, and cut them out to play with like paper dolls. I also used to stash my Barbie dolls in the crack between my bed and the wall - I'd take them out after lights out and put on shows - sort of like soap opera's. The dolls weren't necessarily clothed, but that didn't seem to matter. It was all about the storytelling.

3. I flex my abdomen everytime I'm riding in a car - like doing a perpetual crunch. Somehow it makes me feel better about sitting still for the I'm toning or burning calories or something.

4. My husband is the only person I've slept with. And, this is probably the strangest thing about me for some people, he's the only person I've ever actually wanted to sleep with. Even if I didn't live by the Christian moral compass that I try to, no one ever really did it for me, 'till him. Having said that, I did do my share of searching - kissing frogs, so to speak - looking for what all the fuss was about, and I would probably have been considered a tease had most of the guys not genuinely respected me.

5. I've had hepatitis and Mono and lice all at the same time. Big glands, yellow eyes and snowdrifts of dandruff from scratching at those little buggers. If that doesn't say attractive, I don't know what does. Ah, Romania...good times.

6. As an eight year old, I was convinced that I was either going to start a professional basketball league for women (and be the first star in it) or be a published author. Unfortunately, someone beat me to the WNBA (and I stopped growing at 5'5), and that leaves us here - evil-virus infected at midnight and procrastinating when I should really be working on that whole second aspiration.


I found out today that a story I submitted to Glimmertrain's Short-Story Award for New Writer's Contest is a finalist.

In an email they informed me that though I did not quite make the Top 25, the story did "make it a long, long, LONG way through the judging process (top 3%) and is a finalist"

No money, no mention on their website - but still, I'm happy to be a finalist. And I still have something to work towards - Top 25.

In other news - my house has been infected by an evil virus. Fever's abound. Coughing, snotting, mess everywhere.