Wednesday, June 27, 2007
How to be The Boss
Learn how to remove the child safety knob from the inside of your bedroom door. - Check

Wake your parents and younger sibling at 6 AM with the proclamation: I wake up! - Check

Demand crackers and juice by repeating the words over and over and over and over and over until you are finally seated and served. - Check

Wet your new pull-up diaper within five minutes of, well, pulling it up. - Check

Pee on the floor. - Check

Demand to be let into the bathroom where your mother is getting ready to take a shower. - Check

Squat on toddler-toilet and do nothing. Yet, refuse to get up. - Check

(Meanwhile, your sister will be crawling her way across the kitchen floor and - whoops -slide down in the mess you made, thus dampening the sundress your mother just put on her.)

Throw a tantrum when your father removes you from the potty so that your mother can take a shower. - Check

Refuse to put on a new pull-up. - Check

When all else fails, scream and bang your head on whatever surface is nearest. - Check

In the car on the way to your memere's house, ask "Momma? Boo boo?" and then point to the bug bite on the back of your mother's arm. - Check

Ask, "I kiss?" (and proceed to blow kisses) - Check

Sit back and watch as your mother's heart melts. - Check, check, check.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007
Long weekend. A good weekend. He brought me flowers, took me to a romantic dinner at a restaurant we haven't been to since the night he proposed. We visited with family, friends, each other.

And tonight I'm tired and unwinding. Cried warm tears over a ball bounced too far to the corner of the room. Possibly just overtired, emotional. Soaked in irrational fears and worries stemming from recent events in other people's lives - while I sit and simmer and wait for a shoe to fall here. But there have been no shoes. Only a ball, bounced beyond my reach and so I sat back in my chair, looked at my husband, and knew it was ok to cry.

Friday, June 22, 2007
Fair Enough...
Per Trapped in Colorado's suggestion, here are some pictures from my high school year book.

First, the "official" portrait. Professionally done, not too shabby. Also not representative of how I looked most of the time:

Here I am, in the courtyard with the rest of my graduating class:

And, standing proudly with my hand on the Red Shovel. My superlative was The Red Shovel Award - for being the best at slinging BS. (Mom was so proud.)

And finally, in the cafeteria. Note the smile previously mentioned (and my nervous composure.)

And, here we are this morning. Snapped about ten minutes ago - sans shower, the only make-up is residual from the day before (yes, I'm terrible and lazy and fall into bed without any ceremonious ritual of face washing. Something I would have *never* done in high school - heaven forbid!) I'm not saying it's perfect, I'm just saying it's better.

(Probably more pictures to come later. Five years ago at this very moment I was exchanging vows with my husband. I pulled on the dress an hour ago and it fit - so I think I'm going to gussy-up and take some pictures later. Who knows if it'll still fit in another five years...)

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Thursday, June 21, 2007
Ten Years Already??
Things are beckoning me to look backward lately. Emails from names I haven't spoken in nearly a decade are popping up in my inbox. Ah, the ease of the Internet, such a nice tool when plotting one's high school reunion.

My class was a small one - a public school, but there were under sixty students who donned caps and gowns over a decade ago. I read a poem at the ceremony. Something about not forgetting, about letting some small piece of us stay there, about coming home, eventually.

I forget now.

Now, the idea of returning is both invigorating and unnerving. High school was not the penultimate experience of my life - far from it. It was simply an obstacle to overcome, a hurdle to leap, an end to seek. And yes, on that overcast June afternoon ten years ago, I urged my classmates to look back fondly and remember 'the good times' - but the reality is, there isn't all that much I wanted to hold onto myself.

I didn't let anyone in, didn't get close, didn't have any remnant of my class receive an invitation when I walked down the aisle five years ago, didn't even speak to anyone after that graduation ceremony.

I seem to be good at walking away. Letting go. Moving on.

Yet, it is somewhat appealing to think of going back, now that I know myself better. Now that I'm not the nodding, smiling girl sitting at the cafeteria table, waiting to be spoken to and nervous about what to say in response.

I'm not looking to return with a sack full of bragging rights slung over my shoulder. I'm well aware that my fellow classmates have me outscored in that arena. Scientists, pharmacists, successful sales reps, accountants - all the things that matter on paper.

Me? I'm a stay-at-home mom, living in a teeny house in another small town (albeit, in a nice little home) who putters around the fringes of the publishing world while spilling coffee and wiping up poo (occasionally at the same time.)

Of course, I love it - wouldn't change my life at all (save perhaps some of the diaper mishaps, I could do without those...)

No, I suppose I'm simply drawn in by the nostalgia of it all. It's been a long time and I find myself wanting to see the faces I grew up with, played soccer with, shared smelly bus seats with, laughed with, cried with. The faces of the only people who can truly understand the small part of me that was shaped by growing up rubbing elbows and grass stained knees with them, in that claustrophobic little town.

And yes, weighing a bit less, I think I look at least a little better now than I did in high school. So, of course, there's the vain sliver of myself who wants to be seen. Or to at least walk into the room with my head held high - and there's nothing wrong with that.

Now, all this reunion talk has stirred up the urge to watch Grosse Pointe Blank. My favorite high school reunion movie, with a great soundtrack to boot.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007
We received the news this morning that my husband's cousin has been diagnosed with very aggressive brain cancer - stage 4.

He is a kind, gentle man. A teacher, a husband and a father to a beautiful two-year old daughter whom he carried down the aisle at his brother's wedding only a few months ago.

I know that you don't all share my faith, but I'm asking for prayers. On knees, or not. At the computer or driving to work. While exercising or getting dressed or any moment that your mind and heart has space to share. Warm thoughts. Quiet moments. Anything at all you can give.

For healing for his body, but also for peace for his wife and daughter and mother and father, and all of us left with our mouths agape in the wake of the news that's rippling through our family.


Monday, June 18, 2007
Very late last night, actually, early this morning, the most phenomenal thing happened.

My husband and I laid in bed - talking.

Not the routine conversations. Not about The Boss's verbal development, or the latest story of his time spent in time out, or of Lila's latest feat (clapping her hands, by the way) - but real, this-is-why-we're-together conversations. About us, about life in general, from the grand-scheme of things, to the minutia of worries that run in laps around my brain. I don't think we actually stopped talking, both just drifted off to sleep - wrapped in the comfort of connectedness that can't be found simply by cuddling beside one another on a couch.

It was his day, Father's Day - but it felt like I was the one with the sweetest gift of all. Him.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Oh, you want that Unibound?
So yesterday, I entrusted my freshly printed thesis (now approaching two weeks past due) to the hands of the employees of a particular nationwide chain of stores, who advertise binding as one of their services. When I asked the couldn't-be-more-than-sixteen year old girl if she could bind it, she took the document quickly and mumbled something to the effect of Sure.

No questions asked, and so I assumed, that they only offered one type of binding, and hoped it was the type that I needed - unibound, like a book.

My sister and I waited for a moment, fingering through really pathetic father's day cards and super-sized permanent markers, while the teenage girl spoke to someone in the back about problems with the binding machine. Could you come fix it?

Now, here is where I should've stepped in. Should've made certain that they were attempting to do the type of binding that I needed. Should've made sure that things were ok.

Instead, I asked if my sister and I could come back for it in a few minutes - so that we could go and browse around a nearby store looking to spend gift certificates we each got for Mother's day.

Forty-five minutes later, we returned to the store, the manager was there this time, and I saw my plastic-spiral bound thesis sitting on the counter. My heart sank a little, knowing that they'd poked holes through the sides of the entire document, but it couldn't be that bad. I would simply take it, as I didn't specify that I didn't want spiral bound to begin with.

The manager apologized, said that he could photocopy the entire thing and unibound it for me on the spot. And so I flipped through the pages to show him the one particular page that couldn't be photocopied - the page with the signatures of my faculty advisor and my reader, with the final line blank and awaiting the signature of the program director.

To my surprise - it was photocopied already. Then I realized, the entire thesis was. And the original I had brought and handed over to the teenage girl? Well, the manager, now visibly flustered, embarrassed, upset, went to ask the teenage boy who had helped to fix the binding machine. Oh, we threw it out. And the trash is gone.

Apparently, they had punched the spiral binding in backwards the first time, thus decided to undo it, photocopy my entire thesis and then just hide the evidence - I thought we could get by with the copy. He said.

At this point, my sister and I can both see the restraint that the manager is taking to stop himself from tearing the kids head off - he points to the useless, photocopied, spiral bound book and tells me that of course, they're not going to charge me for it.

And so, we left. Disappointed, obviously. A bit aghast that they would've thrown away the original document I brought in - even if they had damaged it, it was still mine. I'm pretty sure that the director of the program won't fail me for the lack of the two original signatures, but I'm certain that a photocopied signature page is not what's expected from me.

Then - my sister and I decide to stop and get soft serve ice cream on our way home. (Ok, we'd been planning it all along - we're ice cream fiends...) And my first cup of coffee soft serve of the season - which cost me a whopping $5 - was bad. I mean, bad. I didn't realize just how bad until we were in the car, almost back to my parent's house. It was tangy. Icky. Not coffee-flavored at all.

My mother took one bite, and spit it out over the sink - Oh, that's spoiled milk.

And then, as though my day of disappointments couldn't get worse - I bought some blueberries on my way to my evening job. Something sweet, but manageable while working. Of course, they too were bad. Mealy, dry, disgusting.

But, at the end of the day - at nine-thirty last night - I came home to a husband who helped carry my sleeping children from the car, and we sat together and unwound. And I thought, what a nice day.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007
Ready, Or Not
I've been on a spree writing lately - a fine thing to do, considering the amount of debt I have amassed in the past couple of years. New pieces, most revolving around the similar themes - the very same ones that have been such an integral part of my work for the past year or more. Motherhood, pregnancy, loss, etc.

Shocking that these would be at the forefront of my mind, 'eh?

But the reality is, I'm trying to approach similar feelings from various perspectives, various storylines, etc - trying to compile a collection of pieces that best reflect the feelings themselves, rather than stories that specifically pack a certain punch, so to speak.

Then again, according to my thesis reader, punch is what I should be doing. She did enjoy my work, but then challenged me to approach my writing future with bigger, more dramatic scenes. Drop some babies out of windows, so to speak. It's fiction, have fun with it.

And so I tried, in the Not-Yet-Titled piece, to do that. (Although, no babies were harmed in the making of the story...) The piece is back up at The Stealing Season.

And, tonight, I'm in what must be a writer's far inside myself that I'm wishing I'd left a trail of crumbs to lead me back home. Back to the house, with the husband watching basketball, and the babes sleeping soundly in their little corners. But alas, I'm left here to wander, and I fear another story approaching...


Thursday, June 07, 2007
More Good Things
Blessings, not entirely deserved, but humbly appreciated.

Some extra money, an unforeseen bonus in my husband's check.

An acceptance from a literary market I submitted to nearly three months ago.

An extra-long grace period before my student loans kick into repayment mode.

Now if I could only make my attitude. This knot in my stomach. This slothful way that I approach the day, indoors, at the computer or cleaning something sticky left behind in trails by my kids. This sort of non-existence, existence. Change.


We shower.

(Oh yes. I have big plans, ladies and gentlemen. Big plans.)


Change of Plans
If I'm still dreaming about characters, their story isn't finished. First draft or not, I pulled down the untitled story I mentioned in my previous post.

There are still a couple of other new first drafts of pieces up there, but this last one isn't quite ready. I need to take a day or two apart from it, let the characters talk to me a bit, add/subtract/revise, then see if I'm able to sleep at night without them.

If so, it'll go back up.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007
New Stuff
Several new bits and pieces up on The Stealing Season. I've been in a zone lately, not much for eating or sleeping, and when I am doing anything else, my brain is pretty much awash in characters and plotlines.

Could all be a mess, but that's what that site is for anyway. A workshop. Speaking of which, if anyone can think of a title for the latest story (the one so cleverly dubbed "Title?") - you'll win a prize. Yeah. That's not a bad idea. If someone suggests a title that I wind up using, I'll send a prize. (Most likely a book...seeing as I have so many.)

If you don't already have access to The Stealing Season and would like it, just send me an email (link's at the top.)

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Geek Love

My husband and I are geeks. Case in point, we watch the National Spelling Bee and root for contestants as though cheering on teams in a Superbowl.

Last night, I quizzed my husband on completely absurd and wonderful words from these new books I received in the mail yesterday. The Gilded Tongue provides language(s) of origin, parts of speech as well as uses in sentences - which meant that my husband could ask questions about the words, just as they do on the Spelling Bee. He did quite well, actually, closing his eyes and spelling the words out on his palm. Meanwhile, I sat and flipped through the books, just reveling in the abundance of words.

Fun, interesting, bizarre bits of language, oddly ordinary in their meanings. Or, as the subtitle of The Gilded Tongue suggests, Overly Eloquent Words for Everyday Things.

They're fantastic.

(You know, if you enjoy indulging your inner geek as much as I do.)

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Monday, June 04, 2007
Someone came across my blog by searching the web for "Load in Pants"

Perhaps it's time to stop reporting on all of The Boss's diaper mishaps.

Sunday, June 03, 2007
Not to be Taken for Granted

Good things. None earth shattering or life changing, or even long term consequential. But still good.

- My son is staying dryer longer and using the toilet for what it's intended for (as opposed to using it as a neat-o place it squat and read nursery rhymes) - and that alone for me is reason to stand up and cheer (which I do.)

- My father was retired for exactly 24 hours before landing an ideal job. (Long story, but now with a happy ending.)

- I went to church this morning wearing a skirt that I haven't worn since before I was pregnant, ahem, the first time I was pregnant. It's actually one I haven't worn in, oh, five years-ish. I was so excited that it not only fit, but looked gooood, that I almost took pictures of it, but then I regained sense and thought, it's just a skirt (and I did just email pictures of my bootay in a pair of honeymoon age shorts to some friends from college - so really, I think my vanity quotient for the month has been met.)

- I also saw my sister sing her final concert with a local A Capella group she has been with for the past few years. It was amazing. Her talent is one of those things that, having grown up with it, I tend to take for granted. This is my sister, she can sing pretty. Yeah. But, to hear her last night was like hearing her for the first time. Smooth, strong, effortless, moving. I cried, actually.

My husband and I drove home discussing the wonder of her voice. It's hard to explain to him how far she has come, from being a teenager with a pretty voice, a solo-in-the-choir-pretty voice, performing Amy Grant during church, to what she is now - a woman who can sing. From having a perfectly lovely voice, to being simply stunning.

Of course, I was hardly her biggest fan. My nephew stood on his father's lap, pointing and saying "Mama!" while she sang. And he cried too, but he was not moved by the music so much as he was afraid she was leaving him when the group walked off stage.

- And tonight, I wrote two stories...or at least two starts of something. It doesn't matter. It was writing - for writings sake, not for school or packets or theses - just writing because I like it. And it feels good.

- And also, in case I hadn't mentioned it in a while, I have two of the cutest children alive (though one of them hardly sits still long enough for pictures anymore...)

All good things, worth not taking for granted.

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Friday, June 01, 2007
Time for a change.

I think. (At least, I decided to go ahead with a blog-overhaul when I realized that the banner from my previous design was on the fritz this morning.)

Still some kinks to work out, but overall, I was pleased with how easy it was to modify my site.

What do you think?


Almost two years ago, we were in our condo during a sweltering summer evening. Heat that sticks to you, sliding on your skin as you move, thick heat. Miserable, suffocating, horrible heat. And The Boss was teething.

I mostly remember him screaming, waling from his crib, and then in my arms, unsoothable. Uncalmable. Making himself hotter, his skin clammier and stickier with each scream - as I held him, nearer and nearer to myself, to my own warm body, humming Jingle Bells, of all things.

And eventually, walking, humming, pressing his head against my chest, his limbs began to dangle, giving up the fight and just moving with me as I swayed us both in his nursery.

I remember thinking at that exact moment, how precious this time is - the time when they're holdable, when they're no longer from head-to-toe than my torso, when I'm able to simple hug them 'till they're sleeping.

Lila is at the same stage now. Teething. Needing cuddles and soothing humming. Summer's coming. Life is repeating itself, in a sweet, comforting way, while my older child spins around my calves on the floor, offering me plastic hot dogs and telling me to put Lila down to play with him.

But I can't put her down. If I do, this time will pass - quicker, perhaps. And I'm just not ready to let it go.

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