Wednesday, April 25, 2007
While We Were Gone...

Trip, originally uploaded by Mellahoney.

The drive was long. Farmland whipping by our windows, bugs splattering windshield, pit-stop style eating in greasy highway restaurants, feet cramping, legs sleeping, babies not - until finally, we arrived. Southern Illinois, or as we have affectionately dubbed it, Illatucky. My sister-in-law and her brood live on three acres of grassy hills and trees and brush, in a 1970's style maze-house that takes you up and down three floors in a circular pattern. We left with snow in our yard, and arrived at their doorstep with children running barefoot in shorts, dirty from playing outside. It was like driving through seasons, even through a snowstorm, and finding summer. Sun. 70's. 80's. Shorts and t-shirts. Lemonade and ice cream sundaes.

We hiked in the Crab Orchard Refuge, spent a day at a the St. Louis Zoo, played in castle themed parks while the kids got dirt under their nails and bruises, well, everywhere. By the end of the trip, The Boss was officially a boy - banged and bruised, he took his lumps and kept right on playing.

He ran away multiple times, giving me several heart-in-throat moments as I ran towards his screaming, not knowing where (or how) I would find him. But he was always fine - twice barefoot along gravel roads, opening (and closing) doors and running down stairs and through backyards. I'm seriously considering slapping a GPS tracker on him. Or putting him in an invisible fenced area. At the very least, bells or a harness.

We met our newest niece, just two weeks old and petite with slender features and long limbs (waif models everywhere would be jealous.) And today we're going to meet our newest nephew - who arrived while we were miles and miles away, Monday night (against my explicit instructions for him to stay put 'till I got home...)

And, while away - my thesis returned to me, ready to be revised (ugh) - and so while I'm back, I'm not quite yet. Even though I have things I'd like to write and post, for the next week I'll need to be revision-focused...and blogging will come in bits. Like this.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Nobody Home
We're away. Visiting family.

Eight children. Six adults. One roof.

Dial-up internet. (Ugh)

See you when I get home...

Friday, April 13, 2007
Thinking, Thinking, Thinking...
The incredibly sweet duo of Junie and Skye have nominated my blog as a Thinking Blog.

Considering that my mental (and emotional and physical) state lately feels more like that of a toddler with her shoes on the wrong feet and her pants on her head - I'm quite touched. Now, the only responsibility related to being nominated for such an award is to then go ahead and nominate five other bloggers who inspire you to think about things. At first this seemed like a no-brainer task. Until I started listing off all of the blogs that I regularly either lurk or comment on and I quickly realized that my list would be too long.

But, I'll try.

1. Zhoen is remarkable - incredible writer, fascinating pictures, and, as you may have noticed if you've been reading my blog for a while - she's my source for interesting meme's.

2. Teri may think that her life is chaotic, and I'm sure it is, but her blog is always a rich and interesting read - and she posts amazing pictures (lately of food, which inspires me to want to eat fresh, healthy, fabulous things.) And - she just got the most intricate tattoo on her forearm, worth checking out.

3. Dylan and Co. appears at first to be simply a journal of the author's son - but she often writes very thoughtful, inspired posts that challenge me, as a 'young' woman, a mother and a Christian. And she's just a plain sweet individual.

4. Then, as far from family oriented you can get, there's Darkmind - who writes bizarre, but often amusing and always interesting things on his site.

5. And, of course, the incomparable, LJ. She writes, she beads, she plays with photoshop, then she writes some more. She is one of the first blogs that I began reading regularly, and one of the ones that I still have trouble even commenting on, because her posts just sort of leave me in awe.

Is that five already? Drat. You see, I could go on and on...for more good reads, I direct you to the list of Places to Wander on the left. And if you have any sites you'd like to recommend, please leave a link in the comments. I'm always looking for more interesting, thoughtful places to wander.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007
So, I think that the only way I can add people to the invited readers list for Stealing Season is to add their blogger email address to the "invited" list. Apparently, I can't just add people using their blogger name.

So, if you don't mind shooting me an email (so that I can have your address to add) - I'd be happy to put you on the list. And I promise not to sell your email address to spammers. Honest.

Hopefully I won't regret making the site private. It's just that because it has so many random stories, with random phrases and bizarre characters, it seems to be getting stumbled on by people hunting around the internet for bizarre things. I mean, really weird, like, "grandma's pantyhose" or "rub mommy's thigh" - Odd stuff. Stuff that makes me uncomfortable.

And while the people doing the searching probably just peek in and realize the site is neither A) Granny-porn or B) A place for the discussion of the Oedipus Complex - they leave. Still, since the site links back to my "real life" - where I discuss my kids, with photos and all, I'd feel safer if the oddities of the internet weren't merely a click away.

But, like I said, anyone who wants access can have it. Just need to send me an email (link on the left) to get your name added to the list.

The Stealing Season
I've made this blog private - which only means that people searching for things like, say "white bits in my stool" (seriously, someone came across it that way) won't stumble into it. Of course, I'll grant access to anyone who would like it - just send me a note so that I can add your email to the permitted list.

The Uses of Self Doubt
That was the title of a seminar I attended last semester. And it was surprisingly helpful, sitting in a roomful of author-hopefuls, listening to a well published author discuss his many (many) rejections. Ten years earlier, he was a student at a fantastic MFA, writing alongside people who have gone on to be wildly successful, while he still struggled. Sure, he's published and well received now, but for a number of years he was like me. Circling around the publishing world, looking for the best (least painful?) way in.

Somehow he turned rejection into a driving force, or he used it to hone his craft - or something. Somehow self-doubt turned him into a better, successful writer - yada yada. All I remember about the seminar is that I felt empowered. If he could do it - suffer through years of rejection - only to come out the other side critically acclaimed and successful - then so could I. After all, haven't all writers, even the great ones, suffered rejections as well? What matters, he said, is getting in the game. Get your work out there.

And so I did. Rather hastily, I played around on Duotrope one afternoon at work and found literary magazines that accept online submissions and simultaneous submissions as well - and I fired away. And now I'm waiting, crouched by my inbox, desperate for a blinking box to pop up that says "you have acceptance" (er, I mean, mail.)

It has been a month, and I'm growing impatient. I told my husband that I don't think I'm cut out for this - I'm far too impatient. Even for rejections. At this point, I really want anything. Shoot my story down already so that I can polish it a bit and then send it back out there. If it's not right for you - so be it. Just let me know so that I can move forward.

My husband asked me to stop torturing myself. To stop waiting for responses. Like I'm miserable. But no, I'm too new and green to this to be miserable (yet) - for me, the newness of submitting work is exciting. Even when the rejections come - at least they're a verification that I'm in the game, that I'm out there, trying. (Note: I may refer back to this post in, say, a year, and scold myself for being so naive.)

So, in preparation for the rejections I'm sure to receive, I've been searching around blogs for posts on their personal experiences with the dreaded form letters, the thin envelopes, the emails that catch you off guard when they blink into your inbox with the cheerful "You've Got Mail" - I've been searching blogs to read other aspiring author's experiences with rejection. Knowing that writers can't resist writing, even about the bad stuff, I knew I'd find a rich resource of rejection woe's in the blogosphere - and I was not disappointed.

A pair of rejection tales, one from a writer and one from an agent discussing how it is to be on the other side of things - when you're the one sending out 100 rejections a week:
What Rejection Tastes Like
The Baseball Metaphor

Distraction no.99 is a site I stumbled upon in my search and enjoyed. She is an emerging writer who so eloquently tackles the joys of attempting authorhood - and she has posted several entries on rejection, a couple of personal favorites here:
Double Rejection Day
Side Effects of Rejection Letters

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Around the Blogsphere
After I took the time this morning to recount my busy weekend, I did my rounds through the blogosphere and was blessed by a couple of posts in particular. While I had typed out all of the periphery of Easter - the dresses, the candy, the kids and feasts and family - I neglected, aside from a two word snippet, to even mention the purpose behind the holiday. Meanwhile, while I visited with Grandparents and attended an Easter Cantata (forgot to mention that), Kathy over at Mudlark Tales wrote a beautiful post about Good Friday. And for Easter Sunday, I was touched by this that I found over at Dylan and Co - in which she also explains the history of traditions such as the Easter Bunny and colored eggs.

Easter Whirlwind, I mean, Weekend
Visited two sets of grandparents, had breakfast with old friends (some visiting all the way from CA), played Phase 10 until way past my bedtime (which means I got crabby, and not just because I wound up losing in the end), stuffed plastic eggs with sugar, turned a miniature Red Flyer wagon into an Easter basket and stumbled into an uncomfortable bed at two in the morning only to wake up and search for eggs before seven. Praised God, visited my childhood church with the pastor who still wears the same brightly colored tie on special occasions. Came home to feast with family, watched as sugar-charged boys raced through the living room, only knocking into one another once. Ate too much. Went to work. Picked the kids up from Memere's, where they'd fallen gently to sleep, and dragged them back home with us, where we suffered through a night of baby stirrings followed by a morning of poop-scapades with The Boss. Whew.

In the midst of it, I managed to snap a few pictures.

Ah, Springtime. Hunting for eggs with windchill of 30 degrees.

He may have a touch of OCD...

Wagon 'o fun.

Sitting pretty before church.

And then discovering how tasty ruffles are.

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Friday, April 06, 2007
Happy Friday!

I couldn't ask for a happier, more pleasant baby girl.
(And now that my thesis draft is in the mail, she has got a happy Momma too.)

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007
God Help My Children
These are the words that come out of my mouth countless times on a daily basis:

Referring to The Boss: Bud, Bubba Ganoosh, Monkey, Monk, Babes, Xan the Man, Man with the plan (His list has shortened with age. When he was an infant he was referred to in typical mommy-infant babble, the most prominent one being: Bugaboo, and yes, there was a song written around this pet name.)

Referring to Little Miss Lila (pronounced, Lie-lah, just in case there was ever any confusion. I've been told that it looks like Lee-lah):

We start off ok - mostly phrases revolving around her name: Lila Bean, Lila Loo, Lady Lila

However, this deteriorates into what can only be described as nonsensical chatter: Lady Cakes, Baby Cakes, Boogie Baby, Booga Shuga

Then my poor husband gets home and I have to restrain myself from showering him with such verbal clatter. It's difficult and I don't always catch myself before dropping a sing-songy Vinnie Voo.

This doesn't seem to bother him (much), although he does ask that I restrain from attacking him with tickling him in the same goofy manner that I do The Boss. Apparently having your wife come at you wide-eyed with a huge smile and exclaiming "I got-choo!" while poking her fingers under your armpits is a turnoff.

Who knew?

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Lately, I've started feeling exposed.

More so, dread. A fist in my stomach. Anxious - but without provocation.

Driving home from a perfectly enjoyable evening with friends, my mind will start filtering through the conversations of the evening - things I said, how I responded to things other's said - and I start flipping through mental images of myself, trying to reconstruct in my mind, whatever folly I must have committed to feel such a sudden rush of embarrassment, that horrible swell from your stomach, like after you've crammed your foot in your mouth.

But as I said, it's without provocation. Logical Mella knows that she didn't say or do anything to warrant feeling like an idiot. Yet I do.

Same goes for writing, lately. Shortly after the whole Family Circle debut, I started to get waves of nausea at the very thought of people reading that story. I still haven't been able to pick up a copy of the magazine and read anything aside from the judges comments or the editor's note. And since then, I've begun to go through inner monologues after submitting work to other magazines. And, even after posting things here or on my other blogs. I contemplate taking down The Stealing Season all together. Simply because it's a place where I'm vulnerable. Exposed.

I'll probably think of this post on my drive home tonight and discuss with myself whether or not I should've posted it. If I should take it down.

Run. Hide. Squeeze my eyes closed and pretend that the world can't see me if I can't see it. (Oh, if only that were as true as my little Boss-man thinks it is...)

This can't be normal. These waves of anxiety. Perhaps, they're related to stress, to finishing things with my MFA, to graduating again into an unknown future. Or, maybe it's a fear of failure as I begin to submit work elsewhere - my stomach ties itself in preemptive knots, awaiting the rejection letter or email to come (as the little devil on my shoulder tells me it surely will.)

But, I do wonder if this is more than self-doubt or stress. And while I'm thankful that for the time being, I'm still listening to the logical side of myself, the one who assures me, they're not all going to laugh at me - And that, no, I'm not a blathering imbecile. It's still not a good feeling, this whole pit-in-your-stomach, state of constant fretting.

And on that note, I'm off to see my comforting, don't-take-yourself-so-seriously husband who always seems to be able to untie my knots, one way or another.

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Tagged by Jacopo, I had to scrounge through the recesses of my mind for Five Things that I haven't revealed on my blog before. I'm afraid that rather than interesting facts, what I've come up with is "my brain is mush-here's some babble."

The problem is, having been typing away here for well over a year now - there isn't much that I've never touched on. In fact, I'm not sure there is anything new under the sun - which leads directly into my first thought...


I ascribe to the ecclesiastical everything is meaningless mentality when it comes to the big picture and the focus of things here on earth. This isn't to say that I don't stress about life (as the archives of this blog will tell you quite the contrary), however, when I do reach a place of peace it's because my focus is shifted away from myself. We live modestly, with modest income. We are WalMart shoppers, (should be) penny pinchers, used-car drivers. Our stress levels rise with the price of gas, of milk, of life. But, like repeating a word over and over again - to the point that it sounds like slush in your mouth and you can't quite remember what it means - life loses its meaning when you focus on it too hard. At least, it does for me. And so I lean back and look a the wide sky, at the horizon dipping over the edge of the road, at the sun setting - and I remember how small I am. How small I'd still be, even asleep on a bed made of money, in a mansion set on a hill. How small we all are.


I am thin-skinned, shy and quiet - preferring to write rather than socialize, read rather than talk. I'm also loud and raucous and will approach strangers without apprehension.

I sometimes wonder if I have dual-personalities.


There is something strange about me. Something that attracts strangeness. Something that made a man at an autoshop cross a busy street to give me his boss's business card as I passed by (walking to the grocery store on a lunch break) - because he wanted to meet me.

Or, a 35-ish divorcee on a cruise with his elderly father, who approached me out of the clear-blue, to thank me for my presence on the ship - even though I was married ("I'm sure everyone notices that ring right away") he wanted to be sure that I knew that I'd made his trip so much better, just by being there. Odd. (And a tad creepy, as my friend and I went on to discuss after he left...)

I've had many, many random and bizarre moments like these - and it's not because I'm cross-a-crowded-street-beautiful or stunning in a stalk-in-a-crowded-cruise-ship sort of way - it's not. I'm fairly positive that there is simply something strange about me. Perhaps it's overactive pheramones, of the weirdness variety?

In any event, as a result, I have met an assortment of strange and wonderful people, men and women, all drawn in by my apparent weirdness quotient (including my husband - who, oddly enough, captured my interest by completely ignoring me when we first met.)


I'm bored with weight loss/body obsession. I feel like Danny Glover from Lethal Weapon when it comes to questions of diet or the scale - "I'm too old for this..." Bottom line: I feel good. Too good to spend more than three sentences discussing it, either here, or with people in person.


I believe God speaks in unconventional ways. Through CD players and alarm clocks. Through airport ticket-tellers and checkbooks. At least, He has to me. But that's an entire other blog entry - or four or five.

And now that my first thesis draft is just about ready to be shipped off to my mentor - I've got to go research the heck out of the subject for my graduate seminar (the final requirement before I can officially graduate and begin paying back Sallie Mae.) But this was fun. Writing a post that wasn't entirely thesis-related. Hopefully I'll have time for more actual blogging in the near future...

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Monday, April 02, 2007
Rainy Monday
After a busy weekend of visiting inlaws, helping friends move, visiting childhood churches and celebrating siblings birthdays (whew!) I managed to do a little more dusting up on the last piece for the thesis. It's still only the first draft and I haven't done line-editing yet, but it's up on The Stealing Season along with Only in Bellington (the two pieces I needed a new brain to look at.) They're both long stories (longer than what I'm used to writing anyway, which is probably why they've been such an effort for me), but if you're interested in helping out, you can let me know if they at least make sense. I'm sure my advisor will have much to say about ways that they can be sharpened and fixed to be thesis-worthy, I just don't want to send her something that is blatently incoherent.

And now, if nap time continues to go smoothly, I'm going to let my brain relax a little while working on a meme, thanks to