Thursday, August 30, 2007
To Summarize
So goes my day...

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Monday, August 20, 2007
We shop on my birthday. This has become our tradition - saves my husband the ordeal of maneuvering his way around a store in the hopes of finding the right gift. Not that I require a 'gift' to begin with. Still, once we're in the car, he asks repeatedly what do you want? And follows up with the reminder that, it's your day, you can get whatever you want.

A good cup of coffee? I ask. Check. We stopped by my favorite old cafe on the South Shore and each came away with a nice hot cup of goodness. Then we began perusing stores. What do I want? What do I want?

It shouldn't be such a difficult question. But it is.

We shop the clearance racks, hunt for the best pair of running sneakers at the lowest possible price. Score. And then I settle on a pair of birthday shoes, a BOGO deal at Payless and we buy a pair for Lila as well.

All the while, I'm thinking about what I want vs what I need.


A fabulous new camera to take sharper, better, faster, pictures of my family.

Plane tickets to Florida (so that we can get on a cruise ship in October)

More good coffee.

Membership to a decent gym (and the time to get there)

Fancy pants (new clothing in general)


...I realize there isn't anything pressing or urgent.

I have a home. I have vehicles that take me from point A to point B. I have friendship. I have love. I have, I have, I have...

And this makes me happy. Needs are met. Life is good. Wants can wait.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
My August
It's the damp end of the season, the month when the hair on the back of your neck clings to your skin. Everything sticks, even the air to your skin, your skin to your skin, the bend of your elbow, knees. All of it, a tangled mess of wet heat by the end of the month.

It occurred to me today as I ran a cloth over the counter top and watched bare-legged children race up and down the street through the window over the sink, that I haven't spent nearly enough time outside this season. That the season itself hasn't mattered as much as it should. A few BBQ's, evenings spent smelling like insect repellent and still slapping the suckers from my arms, neck, cheeks, while trying to cut chicken breast into pre-school sized bites - but otherwise, it might as well been March or October, the way that I've wasted the summer away. Working some. Typing not nearly as much as I should. Dragging myself through the mundane without paying much more attention to the glorious season outside, save for the occasional complaint that it's too hot, too humid, too...August-like.

At work, it's air conditioned, which is nice as I'm forced to dress in a standard issue sweater and pair of pleated navy slacks - the entire ensemble designed to create a uniform shapelessness amongst the women on the staff. I look like a light blue square, like a puffed-up pastel after-dinner mint, with a smile, of course.

I think about the time I'm missing at home while I wait for the minutes to blink by on the digital clock. 6:30, they might be on the deck, cooking out, swatting bugs. 7:30, probably bath time. I imagine my son giggling and asking for Lila to play in the tub too.

The sixty-year old woman beside me has a sour face and is quick to assure me that she is in fact the keeper of all knowledge. From tollbooths to organic cooking to opening restaurants in the mountains of Montana. She knows it all. Does it all. I make the mistake of telling her that I write. She does too, of course. Her ghostwriter has already told her that her story is a guaranteed best seller.

I sigh and steal a glance at the clock. 8:30, my husband is probably reading the Bible to The Boss and tucking him in. Lila, already asleep beneath the hum of the air conditioner in our room. While I stand and listen to an argument as it erupts with me in the middle, holding a slip of paper, scanning it like it holds some sort of solution to the discussion that's whizzing around my head.

The customer at the counter assures me, as soon as Ms. Sour Face has turned her back, that I have been wonderful and she will be letting the manager know that. I blink and think to say that I really don't care one way or the other. She could tell them that I cursed them all out for all I care. I'm not even really here.

9:00, he's probably sitting beneath the ceiling fan in his recliner. I'd like to think, perhaps, beginning the countdown to my arrival home, but I know that there's probably a game on, either sports or video, and that he'll be either sleeping or mid-level when I do eventually get to leave, driving through the dense night air, making my way home.

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Monday, August 13, 2007
Yo Baby
Because I have so much extra time on my hands to be thinking of things like contests involving brands of yogurt that I don't even buy - I started snapping pictures of Lila for a Cover Baby contest. Which one says to you "I love yogurt!" Or at least, "I'm so cute, you'll buy what ever I tell you to." I think that they're going for either look...

I have a little time before the deadline. Maybe I'll try to take her outside and get some pictures in the natural light too.

For those of you with super-cute babies and toddlers also -
here's the link to the contest (which also has information on getting a free sitting/8 x 10 picture from The Picture People when you enter...)

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Thursday, August 09, 2007
Publication and Rejection
After a long day of driving and working and then driving some more, this time with hollering, hungry and teething children kicking and screaming in my back seat, I finally returned home to find my contributor's copy of Quality Women's Fiction in my mailbox. And there was much rejoicing. Huzzah.

Or not.

Don't misread me, the magazine is quite lovely. The editorial is wonderful and the stories that share the pages with my own are each fabulous.

No, the or not, refers to how fleeting the sense of accomplishment is. It's the same feeling I dealt with upon the release of the Family Circle issue that featured my story. Sort of an anxiety, a sense of Hmmmm, so what's next?

And then this morning in my inbox were two rejections for two different stories, both from somewhat up-and-coming literary magazines, one still working on its debut issue. And, because I'm a nosey sort of writer who does such things, I had of course found various blogs relating to The Barn Owl Review - which, though it has not accepted my piece, still intrigues me. Having followed along with Mary Biddinger's blog for the past two months or so, I think that the poetry and stories that these editors do select will be solid, good reads.

Through Mary's blog, I also found the blog of one of the fiction editors, who posted about how he had started to send out rejections (um, yes, thank you) but also about how he doesn't feel particularly bad about doing so. I thought about this for a moment, not insulted at all, simply pleased with the honesty, I guess. I don't think it's cold, really.

If I'm being honest with myself, were I in the editorial chair surrounded by a sea of unsolicited submissions, yes, I would probably not feel badly about sending rejections either. Of course, there would be exceptions, if a story really struck a chord with me, but it simply wasn't right for the magazine I was working on, for example.

But ultimately, a rejection is such a small thing, in many cases a matter of a piece not fitting exactly right, like a puzzle, why spend time fretting about either giving or receiving them? Most editors are writer's themselves, each with their own history of rejection, so it's not as though they're unappreciative of the efforts of their would-be authors. And to be at least read and appreciated as a person willing to put their work out there, I suppose is good enough.

Well, not as good as a pat on the back and a Yes! Please, and send us more. But enough to keep one motivated to continue to find the space where her story is designed to shine.

(As I write this, my son is sitting at the kitchen table piecing together puzzles of his own, every so often calling out a triumphant "I did it!" - which is perhaps some of the best encouragement I can have as a writer, seeing my children working away at things until they master them.)

I came across this article yesterday by Jodi Picoult, about the trials of writing and publishing. It's not news. We've all heard the stories of various now famous authors who once collected their own stacks of rejection letters. Still it was reassuring, if for no other reason than because it serves as a reminder that this struggle to become an author is nearly equal parts talent and perseverance. And perhaps I'll luck-out and far more talented writers than I will fall to the wayside, unwilling to slog through stacks of rejections, thus paving the way for the likes of me. A woman on a mission.

And speaking of missions and challenges and such things - I'm doing well. Not writing daily though, due to obligations to my children and family and work - but when I am writing, it is hard and intense and for greater lengths. I'd say I'm at about 20,000 words, perhaps 25, I'll need to do an actual count.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007
Susanna of Mommy Inc, has tagged me to post eight (random?) things about myself...the perfect challenge for someone always seeking a way to procrastinate.

1. I steal men's clothing. Beginning with my father when I was in high school - I stole his tube socks, and then t-shirts from the seventies (as fashion had begun to repeat itself), then other shirts and eventually even a pair or two of (quite baggy) jeans. Now, my husband frequently complains that I wear his socks (what can I say, I heart tube socks) and t-shirts. I suppose I just love getting lost in over sized cotton clothing.

2. My favorite board game is Balderdash, though I hardly ever play it "correctly" (or using the board for that matter.)

3. Vin and I are going on vacation in the fall as a belated five-year anniversary present to ourselves....assuming that we can afford the plane tickets to get to the port that our cruise ship is leaving from.

4. I eat weird things. Tuna with brown mustard and Red Hot and tabbouleh if I happen to have it. Or the occasional dish of Salmon Balls (which, according to my husband, smell as disgusting as they sound. I think they're tasty though.)

5. My sister and I wrote songs as kids - with stunning titles like Crash-Boom-Bang or Cathy's Got a Boyfriend. We also had a rap medley about saving the earth. (Perhaps we should have propositioned Mr. Gore to use it in his documentary?) We went so far as to choreograph dances with our songs and then perform them on stage at our town's Talent Show. The songs were catchy and sort of fun, but certainly not talent show worthy.

6. My grandmother had wanted me to be named Melania, which as a child I often thought sounded too much like something you would order from the deli case. Now I think it's quite pretty.

7. I have never lost anyone close to me, and the possibility terrifies me.

8. I'll be in two weddings in September, one as a bridesmaid and one as a groomsman.

I'm afraid I'm not much of a tagger though, but if you feel so inclined to do this yourself do let me know.

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