May 3, Houston: The big one -- the Inprint reading -- occurs at the Alley Theatre on Monday, May 3. Do not miss it or you'll be sorry. I'm not kidding -- I'm going to say the craziest, most intellectual yet hilarious stuff I can think of, and I'll be sharing the stage with the ultra sexy Oscar Casares, too.
June 24, Houston: I'm one of the peeps scheduled to read at Poison Pen, at Houston's famous Poison Girl bar. Besides me, everyone there will be ultra, *super* sexy. Come see me and drink!
June 26, Washington, DC: I'll be reading at the American Library Association conference. Come on down.
My other blog: Go read my the Houston Chronicle parenting blog (or my ChronMomBlog, as I like to call it) and make sure my kids won't resent me more than other kids resent their own parents.
Buy my new novel, Lone Star Legend. Already did? Well, buy a few more for your friends, then. :)
Friday, August 31, 2007Lindelodeon! Again!
Tucker Carlson has a violent brush with gayness, and Gawker commenters put it into perspective.
An artist's rendering of Britney Spears endorsing Photoshop in a Can.
M. Giant discusses The Man with the Yellow Hat's incompetent monkey parenting.
I very much love reading the Houston Chronicle online since they opened comments on each article. Chronicle readers get so awesomely passionate, whether second-guessing Dear Abby or weighing in on those slutty, slutty women who have sex with people they meet online. (Where is the study about men having sex on the first date? Why, in the year 2007, would we still care more about women's promiscuity than men's? Someone ask UT researchers for me.)
Did y'all hear that Maggie Gyllenhaal is taking over Katie Holmes' role in the next Batman movie? Check out what she says about how she'll set herself apart -- how she won't be "some generic lady in a dress." Normally, when tabloids report that one celebrity dissed another, it's completely exaggerated. But I did think this quote was kind of cold blooded. In an awesome way.
I never really understood the stereotypical gay man's obsession with old film stars... but these pictures and anecdotes are making me a believer. Either that, or they're making me a lesbian. Maureen O'Hara = beautiful. Hedy Lamarr = hot and surprisingly brilliant. Gene Tierney = dang, girl! Slow down with all that smoldering!
The Museum of Bad Art.
Jet plane earrings.
Crayon box earrings.
And one very interesting money box. 1:08 PM # (2) comments
Tuesday, August 28, 2007No One Knows What It's Like to Be the Fat Pants
Okay, so only some of y'all will recognize this feeling that I'm about to describe. But I'll go ahead and describe it. You know how, when you cross the peril-fraught borderline between PlusSizeLand and MissesWorld, suddenly PlusSizeLand, the land in which you've lived for so long, looks like total hell?
I've yo-yo'ed back down to the weight at which I can shop at the roomier not-plus-size stores, and in the Misses' sections of department stores. Granted, I'm only talking about tops and skirts, here -- not pants -- and I still have to root for XLs and the biggest of the misses' number sizes on those tops and skirts.
So I went shopping last week, for myself as well as for my kids, because most of my clothes have gotten cartoonishly big and I needed a few new things. First, I rooted through all the misses' stuff and picked out the few XL items I liked. Then, if I didn't get very much there, I'd shift up to the Women's World sections, or on to Lane Bryant.
And you know what? I didn't want to shop in those places anymore. Just looking at their mannequins made me feel ill. You know why? No, not because I hate my former fat self, or because I didn't want to be reminded of it. It was because women's plus size clothing is UGLY. It's so effing ugly.
You don't realize, if you've been shopping in plus size for a while, how categorically ugly it is. Or maybe you do, and therefore you hate to shop. That's how I'd been for the past couple of years. I hated to shop, and when I did shop, I only bought the simplest things. Black pants and solid color shirts or twinsets. For the weekends, dark jeans and black tops. Not because I wanted to dress like that every day, but because I didn't want the plus size alternatives -- pink pants with blue stripes, beige suits with sequined appliques, purple flowered dresses with purple polyester panties...
So, now that I can fit into misses' sizes (sometimes), I can't even bear to go back to the "women's" sections. It's too sad. It's like a former prisoner going back to see his jail. Why would he?
Plus-size retailers: Please make better clothes. Look at Old Navy -- they make the same clothes in all sizes. Granted, they're cheesy clothes that fall apart at the drop of a price tag, but they're equally cheesy for all sizes. Come on, y'all. Fat chicks want normal clothes, too.
(Everything I say about fatness has been said before, I know. I think Wendy at Pound already said this a long time ago, about how all the plus size clothes have weird sequined appliques and stuff. Hey, look, even better -- she said something a long time ago about how the media hates Torrid because if Torrid tells white teenaged girls it's okay to be fat, then fewer white teenaged girls will be available for mainstream porn. Hell yes, Wendy! I just remembered reason 37 why I love you, all the way back since before 2005.)
So, um... yeah. As my weight wanes, my bad clotheshorse habit threatens to return. See you at Ross Dress for Less, where I'm tunneling like a mole through the aisles.
(What is a clotheshorse, by the way? Does anyone know what that actually means?)
I hope no one was put off by that last topic.
I mean, I hope no one Googles my name and then reads stuff about my diet or my feelings about plus-sized clothing, and then decides not to give me a job, or not to give me a writing award, or not to look for me on Match.com, or not to be my cyber-friend anymore, or not to say hi to me on the elevator, or to mention me in an article about someone else's blog and call me a "whiny weight loss blogger."
Tomorrow or the next day, I'll tell y'all a story about real life, okay? I have this story that I've been reading around town, about a real person, and people who have heard it keep asking me why I don't publish the story or put it on my blog or print it out on fliers and circulate it via telephone poles. So... tomorrow. Or the next day, at the latest. I will tell y'all the story, and hopefully you'll like it. Prepare to qualify.
A Dangerous Obsession
A while back, I was talking to a professional-type person about stress and ways of coping with stress.
"I've been kind of stressed-out lately," I told her, "and I get irrationally worried about things... and so I've been coping with it by thinking about Christmas."
"Christmas?" she said.
"Yeah," I said. "Sometimes, when I get super stressed out by the whole single-mom-trying-to-support-three-kids thing, I let myself get obsessed with Christmas -- you know, what gifts I'm gonna give, what food I'm gonna cook -- instead of, you know, drinking or doing drugs or driving my car off a cliff. It's kind of weird, I know, but it really helps me to calm down."
She said, "Obsessing about Christmas is a waste of time. Have you considered Wellbutrin?"
It kind of hurt my feelings when she said that, so I left her office and didn't go back. Instead, I went to the library and checked out 101 Things to Make for Christmas and A Southern Living Christmas and Christmas with Better Homes and Gardens. I even tried something new and checked out a Thanksgiving cookbook.
And now I feel great. Now I feel just awesome, and it didn't cost me a copayment or prescription.
You know the part of Charlie Brown's Christmas special where the kids wave their hands all over the sad little tree and it turns awesome? Well, the tree is me. You know the part where Charlie Brown pays Lucy five cents to give him psychological advice, and then he leaves her booth feeling worse than before? That is not me. I am not Charlie Brown. See, Charlie Brown is a cynic. I, on the other hand, am a consumer. Get it? Charlie Brown is just reading the wrong craft books, and shopping at the wrong stores.
Okay. Just a little pin prick.
That's all. I just wanted to warm up my frozen fingers with some fast stream-of-conscious typing. Because, you know, Houston is the most air-conditioned city in the world, and therefore it's August and I'm freezing my face off. I'm wearing hose and a sweater and a wool skirt, because the AC is killing me in this town.
I told my boyfriend, "Oh, no, I accidentally dressed like an anime person today." And he goes, "You mean the sexy school girl?" And I go, "No, the frumpy maid who gets tentacle raped by her boss or whatever." And he nodded sympathetically. "I still love you," he said. "Shut up," I told him. "Stop your lying."
For lunch, we went to our favorite pho place, where I watched two Asian girls in grey pantsuits force a skirted Caucasian girl to eat a heaping spoonful of grass jelly, red beans, and packed snow. (Not really snow, but it looked like it.) And my Asian boyfriend was like, "I don't even eat that stuff," and I was like, "I know." And the Caucasian chick looked nervous as hell, taping her stiletto heel crazily under the table. I thought maybe her boyfriend was Asian, and she was having lunch with his sisters to be nice, and they were being subtly, psychologically cruel to her. Or maybe they were her bosses, even though they were all the same age. Because this Caucasian chick obviously knew her way around the chopsticks and the noodles -- she was slurping her food with the best of them -- but she was still nervous as hell. Maybe it was a gang initiation.
The sub-titles will no longer relate to the content under them. I have decided.
Really, I'm just bored. I want to be back home again, at night, signing more school papers for my kids and hearing that their second day of school went well, even better than the first. I want them to be happy and prosperous. I want us to make Christmas crafts, like a family that's happier than the ones on TV. They want me to read them a book at night. They said the last Harry Potter would be fine, even though they barely remember what happened in any of the previous. "What happened in the last one?" I quizzed. "Uh-h-h-h..." said my youngest. "Dumbledore died," said my oldest, now fifteen and six foot two. (Oops, spoiler, sorry.)
"Okay," I said. "Tonight, we read."
We got a new cat during the summer, and her name is Starbuck, (and please don't email me nagging stuff about pet ownership), and she's kind of tripping out right now. "You never told me you had three kids," she said, when they got home from the summer at their dad's. "I had them for you," I told her. "Now you can get them to pet you, instead of always bugging me." In response, she shed a hundred cat hairs on my pillow case, then slowly walked away, under the bed, to wait for me to sleep, and then to wake me up at 4 AM with noisy cat toys.
We got her from the county shelter. Don't go there unless you want to go home with 3 or 5 new pets. It'll make you sad, seeing all the pets that are waiting there for no one. I put some pictures on my Flickr page, but you can hardly understand them because my camera phone was in a bad mood that day. It made my cat all blurry. But that's okay, really, because I want to respect her privacy. She's not really recognizable in the photo, and Starbuck is her psuedonym. (Her real name is "the cat.") We bought her a water fountain for cats. She only likes it sometimes.
The Carousel of Other People and Their Hormones
My cube-mate has quit her job, and she'll be replaced by the most beautiful woman in our company. Which is fine with me, because the most beautiful woman in our company is also very nice. But it's funny... some of our men are pre-swarming. They're coming by, all like, "So, Gwen, how've you been? Heard you're getting a new neighbor, huh? Yeah, so, um... do you have any sprocket reports or widgets I can lend a hand with, today and every day from now on? Here at your desk?"
And I feel like telling them, "You know, it's okay if you want to use me as your excuse to be near Beautiful Chick. But don't start doing it until she gets here, okay? Just leave me in peace til then -- it won't hurt my feelings."
Other, other people are having the other kind of feelings - not the attracted, but the repulsing. Over at his job, my boyfriend has fallen prey to a Bitter Old Woman. You know -- the kind who is miserable and self-denying, and therefore has nothing better to do than to hate on happy people. The kind who stays at her desk on her lunch hour and monitors how many minutes everyone else spends at lunch with their friends. The kind who has no one to talk to, and so makes careful note of others' personal conversations. The kind who, instead of trying to elevate herself from her own misery, spends every minute of her work day working to drag others down, down, down to her miserable level.
So I sympathize with him. I know that type very well.
I don't care if you've got ten babies.
See how I quoted that song above? "I don't care if you've got ten babies, you can work the stick in my Mercedes"?
I don't have anything to say about babies or cars. That's just a lyric that runs through my mind at random moments. 12:16 PM # (25) comments
Thursday, August 23, 2007Things I Do When You're Not Looking
I listen to other people's conversations. Not in the eavesdroppy way that some people do it -- listening for something interesting and giggling within at my naughtiness -- but in a very concerned, involved way. I listen to people talk about the most mundane things, and then I form huge bubbles of perception around each person, and then I worry about them. In fact, I don't even need to hear people talk in order to do this. I'll see someone on an elevator -- the look on her face, her body language, her clothing -- and I'll suddenly know way too much about that person. And I'll worry. "She needs to quit worrying about her kids," I'll think. Or, "I hope she has enough money saved for her retirement." Or I'll think about the kind of man she might be happy with, and then worry that she'll never find him. I get way too involved, and then I'm tired and frustrated with the world at the end of each day, and I wonder why.
When I meet someone new and their personality type isn't immediately recognizable to me, I'll become semi-obsessed with working out the details of that person's personality. My secret curiosity about that person is insatiable, until I learn enough to feel I have them all worked out.
Sometimes I will teach myself to mimic the person's voice. Sometimes I'll take my interactions with and eavesdroppings on that person and fashion them into quick stories with beginnings, middles, ends... and punchlines. Always punchlines. Then, I'll tell the stories to my friends.
Some of my friends have their favorite characters. "What's Olga doing today?" my friend Ashley will ask. And I'll tell the latest story I've collected about Olga. If it's someone who continually yields good stories, then I will start to love that person, secretly. I'll love them so much, and know them so well, I'll be able to make stories about them long after I've ceased to know them in real life.
I don't think my favorite characters know the way I feel about them, or that they could ever guess. Either that, or they're already my friends, and they've learned to put up with me applying creative license to their lives.
I explain things to my kids. I got this from my dad, I know, because he used to answer our questions with long, round bubble strands of beautiful tangents. But I try not to do it like my dad did. Whenever my kids ask a question, I form a mini lesson around it. As succinctly as possible, I tell them the truest answer I know, then give them examples from their own lives, then talk about how the answer could affect them when they grow up.
I like to think that I'm good at this; we have long conversations in which all three kids share their perceptions of whatever topic we're on. Normally, this occurs in the mini van on a long drive home. Sometimes, we supplement our discussions by looking things up on Wikipedia when we get home. The other day, our topic was cologne. We talked about the purpose of cologne, signature scents, skin Ph levels, and our own (my boyfriend's and my) philosophies on just how much cologne a person should wear. (My boyfriend and I agree that your cologne should only be detectable by someone who knows you very well.)
When we got home that night, I let the kids smell various colognes I had, and test the most gender-neutral ones on their own skin. Since that night, we've gently pointed out to my youngest that the Axe spray deoderant he likes is not serving any of cologne's higher purposes.
I feel like there are hundreds of things I'm responsible for teaching my kids before they grow up and move away. I want to cover all the things I should have known before I left home. So far, we've talked about cologne, credit scores, the stock market, renting vs owning, sex, sexual orientation, healthy vs unhealthy relationships, insurance, checking accounts, interest rates, politics, religion, and morality. But there's still so much more I should tell them. I hope I have enough time. 6:52 AM # (3) comments
Wednesday, August 22, 2007Linkelodeon
(i.e., Sending You Somewhere Funnier or More Interesting)
(i.e., what I've been emailing to my friends lately)
This Onion article supposed to be satirical. And, in general, I prefer Banana Republic's and Ann Taylor Loft's "classic" style to that of the Gap. But, in my mind, this is how all men should think about their clothes, and this is how classic and variable all clothing should be:
This Gap Sweater is Fucking Awesome.
Over at The Atlantic, B.R. Myers points out a bunch of emperors who aren't wearing clothes. (This is a big old article about books. Only read it if you are hardcore into books, like I am. Oh, and you have to be hardcore into literary bitch-slapping, too.)
Pop-cult worlds collide as the captain of Serenity goes back to OLTL. Do you know what I'm talking about? Did I just out myself as a geek/loser on two fronts at once?
I heard there was gonna be something called a Maker Faire in Austin this October. I got all excited, thinking it was like a craft fair for hipsters. (With, you know, the ghostly, sad-faced felt animals and appliques and prints that hipster craftsters are always making.) I thought we could go there this fall instead of going to the Ren Fest, which never changes. But then I scoped the web site and saw that this Maker Faire appears to be more about recycling/reducing/reusing, and science. And... bleh. Anybody been to the one in San Francisco? How was it?
There's this site called BookTour where you can look up your fave authors and see if/when they'll be reading at a place near you. I'm telling you this because my editor asked me and her other authors to please register on it. I don't have any readings listed yet, because I'm lazy and bad. But when I do have some readings to report, they will be there. Also, I think my fellow author/blogger Rob might have some stuff on there, so you can scope him out and then tell him he owes me kickbacks for sending you to see him.
The classic mother-daughter talk, simplified.
In case you don't read Gawker or any other site where authors get ridiculed, I'm here to link you to old (yet fascinating) drama.
1. Pulitzer-prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler sent an email to his grad students, explaining (in extreme personal detail) the facts surrounding his wife leaving him. The email got leaked.
2. Robert Olen Butler got upset with Gawker for putting his email online.
3. Robert Olen Butler explains himself, in even greater detail.
As always, the comments are scathing. Only click those if you're hardcore into scathing, literary, super-wrecky trainwrecks. 6:55 AM # (8) comments
Thursday, August 16, 2007I feel simultaneously old, proud, and broke.
My son wants an electric guitar for his 15th birthday.
Maybe I'll dig up my old Led Zeppelin chord charts for him, while I'm at it. Ah, youth. Ah, memories. Ah, wasted lessons! Anybody got a cheap guitar for sale, let me know.
Houston, I love you, but you're stupid.
How hard is it to drive without touching your car on the other cars around you? It's too hard for people who take my freeway home, apparently. Especially the people entering/exiting on a certain exit. Every time the DJ says, "And there's a wreck on [Gwen's freeway]," I say, "Was it on [the exit where 90% of the wrecks occur]?" and the DJ says, "Yes, Gwen. Yes, it was."
So then, today, it was raining. It's raining a little because Tropical Depression Ernie (or whatever they named it) is edging its way into town. It might be followed by Hurrican Dean, and it might not. But that's beside the point. The point is, it started to rain, and therefore several people in Houston automatically lost the few driving skills they had. There was a multi-car pile-up on my freeway this morning. There always is, every effing time it rains. Not when it storms, and not when it hurricanes... all it has to do is rain, and people are wrecking all over the place.
People. Put down your cell phones. Put down your eyelash curlers. Stop texting on your Blackberries. For the love of God, stop working your Sudoku puzzles. (I swear to God on the Bible, I saw a woman doing that on the freeway the other day. While driving! Granted, traffic was stop and go. But still!)
If you know in your heart that you aren't a very good driver, or that you're easily distracted, or that you're really bad at judging distances and brake times... Please, please, please put down all your other stuff and keep your eyes on the road. Damn it. Seriously, people. Get it together. What would you do if you had to live in a city where it snowed? You'd be dead by now, wouldn't you?
Also: If you know your car's a piece of crap and it's likely to stall on the freeway, take the effing feeder road, instead. Or, at the very least, ride in the freeway's rightmost lane, so you can get to the shoulder if anything happens. Leave the middle and left lanes for people who can afford tune-ups and gasoline, okay?
I know no one who needs to is reading this. I know there'll be some jacked-up, time-consuming accident on the way home this very afternoon, in fact. Screw it. I'm doing happy hour after work. I'm not driving home til dark.
Food Patterns and Vanity
Do you ever get into a certain food flow? Like, a craving that lasts a long time?
Right now I'm really into eating eggs and toast for breakfast. Every day. I think I've had eggs and toast for about 18 days straight now. My body, it needs the protein. It wants the bread and butter for comfort, too. I'm thinking about buying a toaster, actually, so I don't have to outsource the toast production all the time. But I know the minute I get one, I'll stop wanting eggs and toast. I'll go back to Special K Protein, or Generic Version of Special K With Strawberries, instead.
My other food flow, lately, is plums. Plums are pretty awesome, don't you think? They don't get mushy as fast as peaches, and they don't get mealy like nectarines. And their skins hold everything in, and they're a compact, almost cute size, and they only have, like, 40 calories each. And you can eat almost the whole thing, apart from the pit and the stem. They're like cherries, but bigger and cheaper, and less susceptible to mold. So I'm really into plums right now. (You're like, "Uh, thanks for that info," right?)
Today, in other calorie-related news, I finally lost enough weight to wear this shirt that I've been holding onto, without its buttons popping off my chest and putting out somebody's eye.
Which isn't too crow-worthy, in the grand scheme of things, because that just means I've fought back down to the same weight I was at a year ago. And I still have quite a ways to go to meet my goal, which is "the weight I was at 2 years ago."
And the seasons, they go 'round and 'round, and the yo-yo diet goes up and down. I'm singin' 'bout a carousel of fat...
(Sorry, Joni Mitchell. Sorry!)
I mean, none of this really matters, in the grand scheme of things. But, at the same time, I'm happy to be wearing this shirt again. 11:57 AM # (10) comments
Tuesday, August 14, 2007Rejected, Dejected
Is there anything as non-physically gut-hurty as getting a rejection letter in the mail? For any reason?
It's so painful. It's like someone breaking up with you, but remotely, so that you don't even get a chance to rebut or protest, much less any chance for closure. Whatever you were hoping might happen is now never going to happen, and you didn't even realize how much you were hoping for it until you found out the potential didn't exist.
The moment you see the letter, you know. Whatever you were doing the hours before, retroactively it gave you no pleasure. Because you got rejected. Someone said you weren't good enough. And they didn't even tell you to your face. By the time you got the letter, the person who sent it was riding around town in a BMW, with no thought of you on his mind. He's partying on his yacht with his pretty blonde girlfriend, and he already forgot your name. And you just have to take it, and move on.
If you're lucky, you will stop being sad and start getting mad. "I'll show him," you'll say. And, if you're lucky, you really will. You will move on and do something so awesome, the person who rejected you will wish he hadn't. And you'll have your closure, if you even remember his name by then.
But you won't remember his name, because by then, he won't matter anymore. If you're lucky, that's the way it'll all go down. Good luck.
I forgot to tell y'all that I had two new adventures last weekend. One: I had clothing altered, for the very first time. That doesn't sound like a big deal, maybe, to people who get stuff altered all the time. But to me, it was. I was even kind of nervous about it, as I stood in line for a dressing room and watched the man pinch and chalk up everyone else's clothes.
But now I'm a pro. Now, I could easily go into any tailor's and have something else altered in the future. Who knows -- I might even become one of those annoying obsessives who has her pants taken in and taken out, over and over, back and forth, until the tailor finally tells me, "They look fine. There's nothing I can do. Please go home now."
(There was only one woman like that at the tailor's I went to last weekend. She took it pretty well. She accepted his advice and went home.)
Adventure Two: Shawarmas.
Oh my gosh, seriously -- why didn't one of y'all tell me how good shawarmas were? Y'all need to tell me these things in advance. I ate a chicken one last Saturday for the first time, and it tasted so right. And now I can't stop thinking about it. The phantom taste of the garlicky sauce comes over me, late in the afternoon, and I say to my boyfriend, "Oh, Jesus, I have to get a shawarma."
And he says, "There's no shawarma place around here, baby."
And I say, "Why not?"
I scream, "WHY NOT?!?"
Also, the place we went last weekend had something called Rose Drink, in one of those old-time lemonade/fruit punch/Orange Bang dispensers. I tasted it, and it seemed to be rose water mixed with food coloring and sugar. It was good. If they'd offered a sugar-free option, I'd have drank a gallon of it. But they didn't, so I was safe. Safe from another sudden addiction.
More Stuff Later
TTYL, y'all. I have a lot more stuff to tell you, but I don't want to overwhelm you now.
Oh, wait. Here's one more thing.
This morning, I was carpooling to work with my boyfriend, and I was reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and enjoying it more than I'd expected to.
(See, when I'd first started it, I'd thought, "Oh, god. Not another super-passive Japanese man narrator!" And I was right -- that's exactly the kind of narrator he turned out to be. But the other characters are interesting, so they've kept me from throwing the book aside for another.)
So I'm telling my boyfriend, aloud, what I just told y'all parenthetically in the paragraph above. And then, Eddie Grant comes on the radio, singing "Electric Avenue." And I say, "Aw, hell yeah," and I sing a few lines of that before going back to my book.
And then I get to this crucial part of the book, and I turn to my boyfriend and say, "I knew his wife was cheating on him from the beginning. He found out she was, then he started thinking that she ran away with her lover. But there was some stuff earlier about her brother being sort of incestuously perverted, and I'm starting to think the brother kidnapped her."
My boyfriend shakes his head. "You're talking about the book, right?"
"Okay. Because I was about to say, 'Damn, you sure know a lot about Eddie Grant.'"
And I laughed heartily at that. But then I thought, shouldn't I know more about Eddie Grant than I do?
"I'm gonna look Eddie Grant up on Wikipedia," I said.
And I did. God, I love Wikipedia.
FIN. 12:19 PM # (6) comments
Wednesday, August 08, 2007The Plant Whisperer
If you give me an office plant that's been neglected, I will bring it back to life. On my desk, that plant will flourish.
You know why?
Not because I water it more than you did. No. Not because I put it in the sun.
The office plant will do well on my desk because I'll love it. See?
How do you love a plant?
Do you talk to it each day, so that the carbon dioxide comes out of your mouth and nourishes the plant like its oxygen nourishes you?
You just love it. You don't have to tell it. The plant knows.
Also, I regularly remove the dead leaves from my plants. And sometimes I do talk to them, then. But just about regular stuff. I don't say anything sappy or overdramatic. Just stuff like, "Look at you. You're looking nice. Let me get this crap off your branch -- hold still." But that's about it.
I have this plant on my desk now. I rescued it from the desk of a bitter person who left our company. When I got the plant, it was sad, but now I have to say that it looks pretty happy. Recently, I made the decision to cut off about 85% of its foliage, because it had gotten very leggy and sparse while on the bitter person's desk. It was kind of risky, cutting off that much, but I felt that it was time. And, while I did it, I actively felt love for the plant. It sits where I can see it as I type, and whenever my eyes make contact with it, I take a split second to think of it with love.
And now it's bushy, and happy, and it's even putting out a new little arm to reach the sun.
Plants are pretty simple beings. They're just like pets or babies or cars, in that they're happy to be loved, and you don't even have to say it aloud.
I feel like I've been super busy lately, and yet when my friends say "What's going on with you?" I can't think of anything to tell them.
My kids are coming home from their dad's in a couple of weeks, and then the school preparation maelstrom will begin. Hooray. That hooray is sarcastic, but I will be glad to have my kids back because, without them (this is very untrendy to say but I'll still say it), my life doesn't seem to have a lot of purpose. I mean, I spend the whole summer saying, "Wait... what am I doing? Why am I doing this? Should I just get drunk now? Should I just lie on my bed til my kids come back home?"
Just kidding. Sort of.
I'm pretending I might write another book now. Go back to work on a book I've already started, I mean. In theory, I should have been doing that all summer long, the whole time the kids were gone, but I didn't. I just couldn't. And that's okay. Sometimes mommies just need to rest. And drink. Right?
Just kidding. I really haven't even drunk that much lately, because alcohol has lots of calories. A glass of red wine has, like, 70. Michelob Ultra Light has 95, and it doesn't even taste good. The frozen sake belinis that Mo Mong sells for $2 on Monday evenings? I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing they're 200 calories each. And, as y'all know, I am counting them. See, I just counted a whole bunch of calories in this paragraph, alone.
Speaking of Calories
The other day, in one of those cheap, photo-full celeb mags, I saw a picture of manorexic Steven Tyler (lead singer of Aerosmith, who sings "Sweet Emotion," which I've decided is one of the best rock songs ever made*).
And... Steven Tyler was quoted as saying, "Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels."
And I know he didn't make that up -- he's just quoting some gay icon from the '70s or something -- but the image of him saying that has stuck within my brain.
"Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels. [Swee-ee-ee-eet... ee-mo-o-o-o... shun!]"
And I disagree.
Things that taste as good as being thin would feel, in my mind:
- carrot cake
- lemon-filled donuts (from Shipley's, though -- not from some assy chain)
- high-quality cheesecake, maybe
- creme brulee with ginger crust
And that's just the desserts, off the top of my head. That's not even getting into all the other categories of good-tasting food.
However, I can see that a piece of carrot cake probably tastes exactly as good as it would feel to fit into a dress from one of those boutiques that doesn't carry my current size. I mean, walking into Charlotte Russe or Forever 21 and trying on a cute dress, even if I end up not buying it because I don't want to look all mutton-as-lamb... probably feels as good as a lemon donut tastes.
And so I'm still counting, and resisting, and lifting weights with the sadistic woman on Fit TV. But I still like myself, too. I don't have to be as bone-thin as Steven Tyler in order to like myself. Thank God.**
I'm practicing healthy techniques for coping with stress. The main one is, "Don't be bottling up all your stressful thoughts inside." So, in that spirit, I'm going to share with y'all something that's been making me very sad.
Something is wrong with the shower in my master bath, in the house that y'all might remember I bought exactly a year ago.
The shower is leaking water into the floor somehow, and it wets the carpet and the pad underneath, and it's starting to rot the bottom edge of the door frame.
And it makes me sad. And I know it needs to be fixed, but I'm also imagining that fixing it is gonna cost more money than I have at the moment. The shower stall is encased in wall tiles -- it's not one of those fiberglass deals. So, it all has to be broken apart, probably. *Sigh*.
So that's been in the back of my mind, and I'm trying to gather together the money to fix it. And I'm trying not to spend more than 10 minutes of each day mentally cursing the hucksters who sold me this house, wishing for them to have as many problems with their new house as their neglect has caused me. (Seriously, though, if you guys are reading this, I hate you both and dearly hope for instant karma to get you.)
I think I'm supposed to feel better, now that I've unburdened myself like this. I can't tell yet. Well, whatever.
Talk to y'all later. Send me good plumbing vibes, would you?
* One time this guy told me that the Clash's "Rock the Casbah" was the best rock song ever made. While I agree that that's a very good song, I personally don't believe that the best rock song ever made would have piano.
** Okay, so not only did someone else already write a blog entry using this exact theme... but she name-checked carrot cake, too! I tip my hat to you, Laura Moncur. 12:06 PM # (9) comments
Thursday, August 02, 2007My boyfriend is way funnier than me.
Witness the gmail exchange.
Me: I just learned a new phrase. "I'd tap that like a woodpecker." Baby, I would tap you like a woodpecker.
Him: Awww...thank you, bunnycup. Woodpecker: "That's the best piece of ash I've ever put my pecker in!"
Labels: my sex life6:06 PM # (2) comments
Wednesday, August 01, 2007How to Be an Artist for Money
The other day I took my kids to a trendy toy store. While browsing the girly section, I came across a pack of four tiny journals, all in complementary oriental floral schemes.
Big deal. I have tons of pretty journals at home already, stacked in drawers in date order. I use them to record the more depressing moments of my life -- the stuff that's too grind-down-y to report here in cyberville.
But these were pretty, so I picked them up, and saw that, lo and behold, they were not journals at all. They were... [drumroll] make-your-own books! For only $6! "These little books of blank pages," they said, "are all ready for you to write whatever stories you like." On the back of each one, it said "This Book Belongs to ________."
I got so excited, at that point. A myriad of thoughts ran through my head. These thoughts, in rapid order:
- OMG, I can make my own books!!
- They can be about whatever I want!
- I don't have to show them to my agent or any editors!
- I don't even have to show them to anybody!!!
- They're already bound and stuff! All I have to do is write them! Oh my god, I have so many ideas! I'm going to buy these right now! This is going to be so effing awesome! I'm so happy! Yay!!!!
I bought them, along with all the stuff my kids put up on the counter for me to buy. (Gyroscope, hackey sack, primordial ooze. They know that anything over $6.99 is pushing it.)
In the mini van, as my boyfriend chauffered us around, I told him about my little books and all the plans I'd made for them. "That's great, baby," he said, in the same way you say it when your child brings home a Mothers' Day card made of finger-painted coffee filters.
But, already, more thoughts about these little books were flooding my head. Different thoughts than before. See:
- When am I going to have time to write these little books?
- Maybe, instead of writing little books, I should be writing big books that I can actually sell. Or, at the very least, looking into applying for a second job, so my kids can eventually go to college.
- What if... what if I write the little books -- still about whatever I want -- and then, if they're good, I rewrite them on a Word manuscript and submit them to my agent?
- What if I do that and my agent hates them?
- Maybe I should just quit trying to write. Really, what could I possibly write that would be more marketable than all the books already at Barnes & Noble? Plus, it's not like print publishing is even that profitable anymore. I already know this. What am I doing? Why am I wasting my time? I should go back to school and get a Masters in something that'll pay more. How am I going to pay for college for three kids? How am I going to retire with anything to eat more than cat food? I need to quit wasting time. I need to make some money. Or, at least, buy some lottery tickets...
Late that night, I told my boyfriend, with a tremulous chuckle, that the purchase of the little books had somehow turned into an existential drama, in my mind.
He said, "Baby, you have to express yourself creatively in order to be happy. You know that. Just write in your little books. Try to relax and be happy for a couple of hours."
While he snored, I thought more thoughts:
- He's right. Screw it -- screw the whole effing world. I'm gonna do it. This week, I'm gonna write a little book. If people call while I'm working on it, I just won't answer my phone. I'll turn off my phone! I'll... I'll call in sick to work!
- Then, I'll proudly put my books up on my bookshelf. "These are the latest books I've written!" I'll tell people when they visit. "I published them myself!"
- No. No. No. I have to hide them under my bed. I don't want my kids to look back, years from now, and know that I was goofing off, making little books for no reason, instead of working a second job to buy them Nintendo Wii.
- I think I might be going crazy, because that was, like, a record-time swing from manic to depressive. Maybe I should see a therapist.
- No. Remember last time, how that therapist hated your guts? And she said, "You might want to be careful with all that sex you're having. You could get a yeast infection"?
- Remember the one before that... how you liked her so much, and then she liked you, and then y'all spent every session talking shit about her other patients? That was wrong. That was not productive.
- Okay, so this time I will look harder for a better therapist. What time is it? Does this hotel room have a phone book? I wonder how much you can glean about a therapist from their yellow page listing.
- I knew I shouldn't have bought those little books. I knew they were too good to be true -- just a siren call for failed writers and bad mothers. Nice waste of $6, Gwen. That could have bought Josh half a used textbook.
- Ooh... I know. My first little book can be about used textbooks, and how it makes them sad when college kids write uninspired notes in them.
- Hey. What if the little books come out good, and my agent wants to sell them?
What is the point, then?
The point is: Do not date a not-bestselling author, and do not have a not-bestselling author for a parent. And don't have kids until you have college funds already matured for each of them. And don't get married, either, unless he's rich and about to die. And get a better career path, now, before you have to wonder if you need one. And you can't win the lottery if you never, ever play.
No. The point is, actually: Sometimes you think you need fancy little journals, when, really, all you need is anti-anxiety medication.
No, just kidding. Seriously, seriously, just kidding.
This is not a cry for help. This is just a note to self.
Self: Take some time to relax. Please. 6:33 PM # (7) comments