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. :)
Thursday, December 10, 2009Authoring Update
Everything is good, which means everything is boring. I mean, too boring for me to describe to y’all here, or to my cousins or my hairdresser when they ask me how everything’s going. Who wants to hear "Hey, another awesome thing happened in my career," or "Yeah, I’m working on another few projects" all the time? No one. I don’t even want to hear myself say it, you know? So I don’t say anything. I just go home and do work. Or do emails about work. Thankgodfully, I have a lot of projects going on now. I’m working like a mad man and am, in fact, about to go part-time at my day job in order to get more work done. If y’all know me in real life or have read this blog for a long time, you can probably imagine what a big deal that is to me and how happy I secretly am.
All that said... Let's talk about the next project you'll see. I have a new, real live novel, Lone Star Legend, coming out in January. Launch party is here in Houston, on January 28 at Brazos Bookstore. With wine -– they said I could bring some wine, and I definitely will.
I’ll also do a signing in Austin (at BookPeople) on February 5, I think the date is. And one in San Antonio, don’t know when yet. And I want to try to go to Dallas and then Los Angeles later in the year. But that’s about it, I think. As you’ve probably read by now, publishers have figured out that book tours don’t make as much money as they cost, and that’s why I never do them. So don’t hold out for signed copies, anybody. Instead, buy my book in January. Then, email me and tell me you bought it. Then, I will email you back, making the email say the words I would have written in your book if I’d flown to your town and met you at a bookstore table. And then you can print that email and Scotch-tape it to the inside cover of your book! Or, you know… you could always order a signed copy from Brazos Bookstore, and they’ll ship it to you. They're nice like that.)
(It kills me to write all that, all presumptuous about the possibility of people screaming for signed copies. But I kind of obsess over signed copies, myself, so I’m typing all that for my fellow OCD’ers.)
What is the book about? you might ask, because I’ve never yet told you. Is it about lone star legends? A little, yes, but that’s not the only thing.
It’s about a woman named Sandy Saavedra who lives in Austin and is super happy and proud of herself because she’s putting her journalism degree to work for a site called LatinoNow. And she’s scored a handsome grad-school-poet boyfriend. And even though her mom doesn’t understand anything Sandy writes, or even what she does for a living, it’s okay because they still have a pretty decent relationship, considering, relatively, since her mom drove Sandy’s dad away.
And then… bom bom BOM… a gossip-blog conglomerate buys LatinoNow. And they ask Sandy to stay on, but as a gossip blogger of the “bitch, pleeeeease” sort and not a Real Journalist.
All that’s in, like, Chapter One. So what do you think Sandy does, at that moment and for the rest of the book? Oh, and also, what do you think would happen if Sandy had a blog on the side, all along, into which she spilled all her uncharitable, secret, anonymous thoughts? And also, what do you think professional bloggers think of their fans and the people who comment on their sites? And how does it feel to make fun of people online for money? You know that I know, because I used to do that years and years ago, back when people were first learning how. And what happens when people don’t want to expose themselves on the Internet, but suddenly find themselves there, exposed? And what’s up with people who don’t even have Internet connections, or even want them – how do they live? How is that fathomable? That part I had to imagine, since I’ve been on the Internet since cavemen first drew cybersex hieroglyphics on Usenet walls, and now I only eat e-food and drink virtual gin with virtual diet cranberry juice.
That’s what my next novel is about, and Publishers Weekly says Sandy is a smart, funny heroine that y’all will root for. So I hope y’all will consider picking it up in January, maybe with the gift certificates y’all will receive this month from people who love you.
Did y’all see how Heidi Klum took my grackle costume idea, before I could even get the chance to implement? My costume was going to be better than that, and I wasn’t going to paint my face black.
I said this on Twitter a while back, so I’m recycling it here, but it’s important and bears repeating. Y’all will be relieved to know that, whenever I get the time, I continue my grackle research on patios throughout Houston. And recent studies at La Madeleine on West Gray have yielded important results:
1. Female grackles will eat butter, not just bread. They dip their beaks into it and it stays on them for a while afterwards.
2. Even if you put the bread near the butter, though, they will not dip the bread into the butter. They do not instinctively know that it tastes best that way, like I do.
3. Some female grackles like La Madeleine’s red jam, and some don’t.
Future research will focus on grackles’ (of both sexes) reactions to La Madeleine purple jam and orange jam. I suspect that they might like the purple, since it contains seeds.
In Lieu of a Christmas Newsletter
My family is doing well, despite my semi-regular bitching at them. Dat is steadily composing music and has about an EP’s worth of synth pop completed now.
Rory is studying multiple musical instruments and has been collaborating with his stepdad (aka “Pep-Pep,” for you fans of Tim and Erik). Rory has also remained on the Almost Honor Roll all year.
Dallas, who still lives with his dad, made First Chair in his instrument, which is pretty good considering that his high school’s band is super hardcore and competitive. They subsequently demoted him to Second Chair as punishment for losing his sheet music, but I’m content to ignore that completely. Dallas is also on Almost Honor Roll, in all advanced-level academic classes, which is pretty freaking good, considering that he spent half of junior high in “alternative” classes because of “distractions” caused by his Asperger’s.
Josh is about to get his first car, y’all. First car! And a nicer one than I’ve ever owned (but not new), due to a rare collaboration of his dad’s campaigning and my fiscal cooperation. Josh is very good and quiet and tall in general, although he did rebel against me mightily this year by shaving his head. I was upset and took to my bed, yes. But, in the end, I came back into the living room with newfound respect for my child. Josh is not on Almost Honor Roll and never really has been, but he passed Physics last year, when he was a junior, and I never even took it, so I’m satisfied with his academic achievements. Send him good vibes for his SATs next month, y’all. He wants to go to the University of Houston or University of Texas.
Toby has moved into his own little apartment. You might think it's just a bunch of moving-box lids that we brought home from my work, thrown on the floor in my office, but rest assured that it's his apartment, with different rooms (lids) for different purposes. He has his Resting Room, his Brooding Room, his Watching Room and his Room of Violence. You can tell the difference by the way he's marked up the corrugated cardboard in each.
Starbuck rapes our Christmas tree and steals its water.
See? Life is good. In the words of the immortal Joe Walsh: “I can’t complain but sometimes I still do.”
I hope y’all have the best December holidays you’ve ever had, peeps. I hope y’all are happy and warm. 6:09 AM # (11) comments
Tuesday, August 25, 2009now entering Hyper Lockdown Mode
I’m about to go into Super Hyper Overdrive Lockdown in order to meet my writing deadlines. What does that mean? It means that if I don’t answer your call, respond to your Facebook quiz, or agree to participate in your latest entrepreneurial venture, it’s not (necessarily) because I don’t love you.
My next novel is due on May 1. Before that, I have one kids’ book draft due on November 1 and another kids’ book draft due on… March 1, I think? So it’s time to buckle down. Wonder Write Powers, activate! Form of: getting pages down!
Even the knitting’s on hold now.
In other writing news… I think it’s okay to tell y’all now that I’m going to do Inprint’s Margaret Root Brown reading, here in Houston, in May, along with author Oscar Casares. Exciting, is it not?
Before that there’s another thing, but I’m not supposed to talk about it yet. But let’s just say that I’ll be visiting Austin around Halloween. I don’t yet know if I’m going to wear a costume. If so, I might be Minnie Mouse. So much is still up in the air….
My sister-in-law gave birth to two awesome twin girls. Which is fabulous! But then, of course, it makes people ask Dat and me if we’re going to have a baby, too. My other sister-in-law had a baby girl a few months back. Her sister is pregnant right now. Two sets of our friends are announcing their plans to try to have additional babies.
I see babies. I think of babies. I dream I’m having babies. The other day I made the mistake of taking a nap and, in my nightmare, I had given birth to twins. They were dangling out of me, still attached to their cords, and I was juggling them as we made our way to the hospital, where they didn’t want to give me a wheelchair and they asked me to have the placentas removed in a slummy housing project so as to score the hospital some kind of grant.
In this dream, my twins were boys. I don’t think I’d even know how to have a girl in my uterus, at this point.
Which is not to say that we’re thinking about having a baby. Because we’re not. I’m just telling you that the babies are all around us.
My real kids started school this week. Aside from some special State of Texas Vaccination Drama, everything ran smoothly. The kids have plenty of nice new skull- and electric-guitar-emblazoned t-shirts to wear, you’ll be happy to know.
My oldest is a senior this year. That brings up, to me, a lot of questions that are way more pertinent than the “Are y’all going to have a baby, maybe?” one. There are questions about college, after-school jobs, driver’s licensing and insurance, freaking prom, freaking class rings and yearbooks, girlfriends, curfews, Facebooks, the future…
You know. You know where I’m at with this, right?
That’s literally all I have time to say right now.
Isn’t that sad, kinda? More when I can. 7:02 PM # (1) comments
Friday, May 08, 2009You can tell I’m a Capricorn because…
I have rigid ideas about what’s right and proper and just and polite. Like I said earlier, the role of daughter-in-law is coming back to me now like riding a bike, and I’m intent on doing it the right/proper/just/polite way. That’s just how I roll.
I’ve been dating Dat for 6 years now and it’s funny to see how marriage changes the roles, in my mind. There are ideas and roles that I never bothered to analyze until now. Like this one:
It’s okay for a bachelor son to tag along on someone else’s Mother’s Day plans.
However, once that son marries, the couple formed must take responsibility for themselves by planning their own Mother’s Day observance.
Do you agree? You know what I mean? I’m wondering now if that’s kind of sexist, if it means that once a son marries a woman, the woman has to be responsible for that stuff.
But no… I’m imagining that bachelorette daughters are also allowed to tag along on coupled siblings plans, aren’t they? And if a son married another man, I think that couple would also have to step up their game, gender notwithstanding.
Really, there’s what’s polite, and then there’s individual family tradition. I think that politeness dictates respecting the traditions of individual families. When in Rome (i.e., your partner’s family), do as the Romans do (i.e., eat or pretend to eat Aunt Lucy’s Jell-O cake and don’t bitch about it).
I like the idea of working within the other family’s traditions and adding positive contributions that reflect your own personality. (Eat the Jell-O cake, plus bring your sage flatbread for everyone to try). I’m always struck by the attitudes of the people who post complaints to Yahoo Answers and such, who say stuff like, “Help me deal with my horribly rude mother-in-law! She is forcing everyone to do a White Elephant gift exchange! My family always does Secret Santa and I told her this and I told her I would not participate in the White Elephant and now she has the nerve not to answer the phone when I call her because I need babysitting!!!” I don’t know how people can live like that. Isn’t it difficult? Isn't there a simple rule you can follow to get out of those situations... It has a catchy name... Gold... Golden Something? The "Don't Treat People in Ways That Would Piss You Off" Gold Plated Rule? Google it -- it's a good tool.
(I’m not trying to brag on my own awesomeness here… I’m trying to brag on that of my family, who raised me to be tolerant and appreciative of difference, and to be brave about trying new things. That attitude has helped me in more ways than one.)
So, anyway. I think I’m telling y’all this so you can know what’s up with Capricorn women. Did I ever tell you that every woman in my immediate family sphere, when I was growing up, was a Capricorn? (Capricorn with Taurus moon, to be exact.) You’ll either think that’s fabulous or frightening, or else you’ll disregard it entirely because you don’t believe in astrology.
I don’t know if I really believe it or not, but “Capricorn” is good shorthand for “headstrong, slightly obsessive control freak who likes shit to run right.” And I come by those qualities honestly, through nature and nurture, and I like what they’ve done for me in life.
gross story for you
I woke up last Saturday to find that Toby had thrown up on my bedroom floor. No biggie – he has a sensitive stomach but its results are generally pretty solid and easy to clean.
Armed with a wad of toilet paper, I picked up the catfood-colored mass in one fell swoop. Under it, there were feathers.
“Oh, Toby,” I thought. He’s eaten a cat toy, or part of a pillow. He often eats things he shouldn’t. I felt a little guilty for buying toys that resembled mice with bird tails. Apparently, they were irrestible.
I used the edges of the toilet paper to pick up the bits of feather, which were all brown and wet. They held fast to the carpet, but I was persistent and plucked them out one by one.
The last piece poked my finger through the tissue. Poked it hard. Hurt.
“What the hell kind of feather is this, that stabs your fingers? This isn’t safe for inclusion in cat toys!”
That’s what I thought. Then I bent farther and looked harder to see the feather closer.
It wasn’t a feather.
What do you guess it actually was?
Did you guess “piece of plastic or metal”?
Did you guess “piece of bone, like maybe from a bird”?
No, but closer.
A giant, nasty, effed-up roach’s leg. Legs and smashed roach wings, sticking in the carpet. Wet from Toby’s mouth and spit on the floor.
Although I was completely disgusted, I was also glad (feeling glad while shuddering and pouring alcohol over my poked finger) that I can count on Toby to dispose of giant roaches that try to attack me in my sleep.
(Long-time readers know my experiences and fictional nightmares about roaches, and will therefore have even more insight into the role that Toby’s character plays in the story that is this blog. :)) 5:28 AM # (4) comments
Thursday, April 23, 2009I want to be Amish.
You know? I want to live in a house that I built and cook food that I gathered or raised myself. I want to sew my own clothes and knit my own blankets. I want to take care of myself and my family, and only occasionally have to weave baskets to trade for the things I don't know how to make. That's just a different way to live... a way that isn't based on spending 8 to 5, every week day, dealing with other people's egos. I don't like working with or around other people's egos. Not so often, you know?
The problem with being Amish is that you have to conform to their ideas about good taste, and you can't use electricity. Maybe I want to be a Mennonite.
Or maybe I just want to be a farmer. In the movies, when times get tough, farmers always say "Well, we're fine here -- we have enough to feed ourselves for the rest of our lives. It's the other people [their neighbors or love interests] I'm worried about."
I want to be like that -- where I rely on myself, and I'm completely reliable.
Really, I think all of that just means that I want to start my own business. Because I don't really know how to slaughter anything, and I'm too finicky to sew whole wardrobes out of calico.
Or else I'd be happy working in a room by myself, maybe. Making widgets according to written specifications. It's not the working that bothers me -- it's everything else.
It's not even about people being jerks. I could be in a building where every single person is competent and nice, and it'd still exhaust me mentally. I'm an introvert, okay? (People who know me in real life, stop telling me I'm not. I am! I want to live on a farm or work in a room alone!)
Every spring I feel restless. I want to get up and run out the door.
Last night, though, me and Dat and the kids put together one of those patio structures that Target calls a gazebo, but which is actually more like a canopy with mosquito netting on the sides. Dat and the boys put it together, actually, while I trimmed the pear tree above them. We got a new lopper (is that what it's called?) a while back and this was my first time to really use it, and it lops off the branches very beautifully. I did the pear tree so it'd be out of the canopy's way, then started on the oak tree on the other side of the back yard.
Tonight I want to finish those and then do every tree and bush in the front yard. I'd been planning to do that anyway, but now that I've felt the power of the new ... loppers... I'm excited. I love trimming the trees -- giving them little haircuts and making them feel lighter.
We have a bunny living in our front yard, randomly. When he was smaller, he fit through a gap in the garage door and so spent his nights there. Now he's bigger and we're guessing he just lives in the nandinas. We get home from work and he's there in the flower patch, eating weeds. He just watches us. We watch him. We say "He's growing." Then we go inside.
It's okay with me that this entry might be boring.
Sometimes it has to go down that way.
Life's just plugging along. Like the bunny, our wedding is growing. It's still an informal wedding in our house, but now Dat's parents are getting even more into it, and so they're inviting extra people. Which is fine -- I want them to be comfortable and stay the whole evening, and having their peeps next to them will make that possible. I'm starting to think the wedding might spill over into the front yard, though. We still have physics in which we have to work, you know.
We're gonna... transform the back yard into a fairyland or something. You know how people do that for weddings, sometimes. It involves Christmas lights, mostly. It's not difficult, I don't think. I feel confident in my fairyland transforming abilities.
At first I didn't think we were going to buy flowers, but then my cousin said she wanted to buy them for us, and now I'm thinking of many ways in which flowers will be called into service. See? It's a tumor. Weddings grow faster than rabbits.
That's all. Back to work! Happy spring.
Oh, one last thing, just to annoy my kids....
My kids didn't know that Ozzy Osborne was the lead singer of Black Sabbath. Really, now that I think about it, how would they have known?
They found out the other day because they wanted me to look for MP3s of Black Sabbath songs, and I searched for Ozzy's name. And the kids were like "No, Mom...." and then I told them, and then they were like "What? Oh. But.... I thought he was just a guy on TV." And I was like "That's why that World of Warcraft commercial shows him as the Prince of Darkness. Right? Get it?" and they were like "Oh-h-h-h...." and I saw their minds reconfigure around the world.
They're also learning which musicians are dead from ODs and which are dead from suicide, and which were ever called "the best [guitarist or drummer] in the world" and which dabbled in black magic or were rumored to have done so. That's important history, I think. Kids should know these things. Don't you agree? 5:34 AM # (6) comments
Wednesday, March 18, 2009Guess what? 25 Random Facts About Me!
because I have been inspired.
Now, all I have to do is think of 25 new things to tell y'all, apart from the stuff divulged in the 100 things meme I did back in 2005, and apart from all the other stuff I've told y'all over the past 12 years.
1. I'm going to do a reading/event tonight in which I'm supposed to talk about my creative process(es). For that, I've decided to give a 5-minute history of my writing career. It's my first time doing anything like that, so I'm kind of nervous. But I'm always kind of nervous about all the events I do, no matter how new or old the material. Unless they're readings for little kids, that is.
2. I feel that the best Easter candy is Russel Stover's creme eggs, in coconut-in-dark-chocolate flavor.
3. I like to go to the grocery store with my fiance. That's, like, a serious date night activity for us. Sometimes I think it's because we both experienced hard times in our youth. But usually I don't try to analyze it.
4. I'm getting married on May 23rd. (THIS NEXT PART IS SECRET - SHH:) At first I was a little bit sad because my future in-laws didn't think I was the right person to marry their son. Not sad enough to let it stop us, or to dwell on it on a daily basis, but kind of disappointed. But, recently, my fiance talked to them about it, and they voiced their concerns... and now they're coming to the wedding. And I'm happier/more relieved about that than I would have expected.
5. I'm actually a really good daughter-in-law. No one here knows that, because last time I served in that capacity, it was in a tiny town that no one cared to visit. And then I left my husband, effectively removing the possibility of further communication with my parents-in-law. But I know that they loved me, because they told me so, more than once. And I loved them. And I spent jillions of hours with them, and I did what I could to make their lives easier. And I enjoyed doing so, because that's just the kind of crazy I am. And, I have to say here that my ex-mother-in-law was way, way, WAY more opposed to that marriage (and more vocal about it) than my current future in-laws have been. So, in general, I'm optimistic about the new in-law relationships I'm starting. I can rebuild them. I have the technology. I am... the $6 Million Daughter-in-Law. I've just been waiting for the paperwork to go through so I can begin.
6. I didn't realize, until recently, how much I missed being a daughter-in-law.
7. If it were up to me, and no one's judgment had any effect on my life, I'd cut my hair short and never wear makeup. It is up to me, I know, but I live in this world. In this world, prettiness can be a kind of armor. So I put on eyeliner every morning, just like a knight of old.
8. I turned 37 in December. A while back, something made me think that I was "almost in my forties." So, since then, I keep thinking that. "I'm almost in my forties -- I don't have to deal with that." "I'm practically 40 -- I should know better." "I'm in my forties now -- shouldn't I be doing [x] by now?" So now, in my mind, I'm in my mid-40s. I completely, mentally bypassed the last three years of my 30s. Weirdest part: I don't mind. I like being in my 40s. It's giving me an excuse to break old habits and try new things.
9. My favorite thing I've ever written is what I believe the fewest people have read: the very last story in my very first book. Every time I think about that, I imagine musicians I admire whose own favorite songs probably don't match up with my favorites. And I have no sympathy for them, because I wouldn't change my favorite Pavement songs, even if Stephen Malkmus hated those ones the most. And then, in turn, I have no sympathy for myself. So what if I like the ant story best? That doesn't mean it's the best one or the one that resonates with anyone else.
10. Sometimes I worry about Norm MacDonald. I was watching SNL, live, the night he accidentally said fuck and then immediately realized he'd get fired for it. He was fired. Then, after that, his career did a long, slow slide. I saw him on the Comedy Central Bob Saget roast, and he still looked sad, but you could also tell that his colleagues loved him. They joked about his gambling addiction. That made me worry about him more than before. I don't know why I worry about him, in particular. But that happens to a lot of people, right? You feel some weird connection/intuition for a certain celebrity or stranger, and you carry them around in your mind, right? Like a lot of people worry about Jennifer Anniston, or like Ben Folds worried about Muhammad Ali. I worry about Norm MacDonald. I hope that he's okay.
11. I fantasize about speaking every language.
12. I fantasize about having the psychic power to answer any question truthfully, and charging people (anyone) $500 a pop to answer their questions. Scientists' questions would be answered during weekly press conferences, though.
13. I fantasize... not about having the power to heal people, but about having the power to prescribe the perfect diets for them. I mean the diets that would make them healthy and happy.
14. I fantasize about having the power to perform telekinetic, painless, instant platic surgery on people. Because, you know how you'll see someone, and they're obviously self-conscious about some aspect of their appearance? Like a mole or their teeth or something? Well, I fantasize about having the power to fix that for people, without them even knowing it's being done.
15. All those fantasies mean that I'm a narcissist. Every time I take the personality disorder profile quiz thing, it says I'm mostly a narcissist. Which kind of annoys me, because I don't believe that I am. But then, people I admire score high on narcissism, too, so at least I'm in good company. Second-highest scoring for me is OCD. So what? I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Unless you're a clean-freak OCD'er, like our friend Cathy, because then it's just too much stress. (I like to converse with Cathy about various compulsions, but then I feel bad for her when she stresses about the cleanliness and germs.)
16. The score I don't get, and the personality disorder for which I have the lowest tolerance? Is histrionic-ness.
That means "attention whores." I especially hate being around attention whores who are boring -- that's the absolute worst. Second worst is catty attention whores who, for some reason, believe that I have something they want. Then they start trying to compete, and I never want to engage in that. I just want to get away. Actually... I've had histrionic friends, but they have to be interesting, and they have to have different taste in men, so that there's no competitiveness. In that case, I'm okay with them.
17. Really, this isn't 25 Random Things About Me. It's 25 Things That Have Been on My Mind a LOT Lately, Because I'm Slightly OCD and Think About the Same Topics Over and Over Until I'm Sick of Them. Thank you for reading, if you're still reading along.
18. I used to think that I'd hold my old grudges forever -- you know, like "She'll be sorry when I'm published and then I see her in public and she has to feel stupid about that time she said my writing was trite!" -- but it turns out that I don't. I work as hard as I can, and I forget about the old petty stuff because I feel like I've grown so far away from it. You know?
19. I worry about my kids way more than I let on. Sometimes I lie in bed at night having long, long strings of worries about them. But I choke it down because I don't want to be like Nemo's dad on that movie Finding Nemo. When I saw that movie, I cried super hard whenever his dad was on the screen. Because I totally empathized with that (fish) man, and I've never even had kids who were eaten by sharks. But, yeah, I don't want to bum out my kids like that. So I keep that stuff to myself, as much as possible.
20. I'm proud of the way my kids have turned out, but don't like to say that to people too often because it seems like a compliment to myself. But it's (mostly) not -- my kids are good kids. They were born good and worked to get better, independently of me or my parenting skillz.
21. Sometimes I want to post more pictures of my family online, but then I worry. Worry, worry, irrational worry....
22. I'm simultaneously excited and anxious about writing my next book.
23. I'm waiting to see if the last kids' book I submitted will get published. Trying not to be anxious about that. The kids' books get rejected way more often than you might imagine. Which doesn't feel too fabulous, but it toughens me up. It's all a business, you know. This writing stuff, I mean.
24. I feel bad/guilty/annoyed when I write an entry here and people feel compelled to reassure me about whatever I complained about. I always feel like I'm just venting/ranting/babbling, but then, if it comes off like whining or needing comfort, that bugs the crap out of me and I feel like I somehow betrayed myself. (But if it doesn't sound like whining, but people just want to offer comfort/reassurance, anyway, then that's okay.)
25. I don't like to need anyone. I like to be independent.
Whew. I did it!
The end. 5:58 PM # (9) comments
Thursday, March 12, 2009getting married
Part of the reason I’m marrying my boyfriend Dat is that we share many of the same values and beliefs. Like “Art is a priority” and “You should never do something just because everyone else does it.” We’re no Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre, but I do enjoy the home life we’ve created for ourselves, in which the dining area can become the crafting area and music practice isn’t considered noise and fake birds can populate any space for no other reason than their cuteness.
Some of our values might make the act of getting married seem like an oxymoron. But, as so many of y’all know, there are jillions of reasons to get married other than “because I want a big day that’s all about me just like everyone else gets to have on TV.” So we’re doing it for those other reasons. Of course, we want the wedding to reflect our values. Meaning, mainly, that we don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a ceremony that has no personal meaning for either of us.
I went through the old dilemmas that braver women than me have lived through before I was even born. Like: Are we getting married for ourselves, or for others? and then: Even if we’re getting married for ourselves, what do we owe our families and the people who care about us and feel invested in our relationship?
Even though other couples have answered these questions admirably and come up with workable solutions, it’s really a case-by-case kind of thing, isn’t it? No two couple and no two families are alike, so you have to work with what you have and not stick your star-shaped block into the octagon-shaped hole.
Here’s the solution we came up with. Here is what our “wedding” will be:
1. On a Saturday morning this May, we will get married at the courthouse downtown. This was going to be just us and the kids, but one of my cousins really, really wants to be there, so we’re opening it to anyone who wants to show up.
2. Right after that, we’ll have dim sum. Because dim sum has great cultural significance in Dat’s family’s culture, of course. No, just kidding. It’s only because we like dim sum a lot and use any excuse – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Ash Wednesday – to eat it. Again, we planned it to be Dat, me, and the kids, but we’re imagining that some of my family might want to attend. So we’ll invite Dat’s family, too. Anyone else who wants to attend is free, as we live in America, to show up. But we’re only paying for ourselves and the kids and our parents. :)
3. That night, we’ll have a party at our house. At that party, we’ll have wedding cake and champagne. Maybe appetizers, too. Or brisket, if someone wants to bring a brisket. Maybe some potato salad. Or maybe sushi. The food part hasn’t been worked out yet. But we’ll have a cake and champagne, for sure, and a few more people we know will be invited.
4. In June, we’re going to Hawaii. (Not the kids – just me and Dat.) That’s our honeymoon. In Hawaii, we will eat dim sum again, if they have it. If not, we’ll just eat everything else.
And that’s it. That’s what it’s gonna be. Now that that’s settled, we’re actually looking forward to it. You know? I mean, we were always looking forward to our marriage, but now we’re actually excited about the wedding, too. (I don’t want to be a person who looks forward to her wedding and not her marriage. That’s a commonly used recipe for unhappiness, in my opinion.)
Do I sound defensive? Right now, there’s a message in my Inbox from a certain person. I can’t see it until I get home tonight, but I kind of don’t want to look at it, anyway, because it’s undoubtedly in response to my recent Facebook announcement that I’m planning our wedding. Earlier in our engagement, this person was trying to plan our wedding for us. I love her, but she’s one of the people who comes over to our house and says stuff like, “Why the hell do y’all have fake birds on your bookshelf? I don’t get it.” So I don’t really want to get into a discussion about the wedding with her. If I were rich and wanted a big wedding, I’d hire a planner. But first I’d show that planner a bunch of photographs of random things that we think are cool, and I’d watch his/her face. If s/he made a wtf face, I’d know s/he wasn’t right for us. You know?
something else that’s related to the stuff above, but which I’ll discuss in third person
In case anyone’s curious, here’s a list of possible reasons that a married couple might decide to have separate bedrooms:
1. You both want your own space, not just for sleeping but for other things – fashion, hobbies, decorations – that might occur in your bedrooms.
2. You have completely different sleeping preferences. Maybe one of you needs the door open and the other needs it closed. One of you can tolerate the light on the cable box and the other can’t. Both of you like to sleep with your arm under your head, but you face each other and therefore your elbows are at odds. One of you needs cats posted at the foot of the bed throughout the night, and one of you can’t sleep with cat hair in your lungs. And so on, and so forth.
3. You can’t afford separate houses. :)
4. You see that, often, elderly couples sleep in separate bedrooms, and it’s not only because they’re more comfortable that way, but also because they’re so old that they no longer care what anyone thinks of them. And you think, “Why do I have to wait until I’m older, to stop caring what people think?” And you don’t care what people think, and you want to be comfortable.
5. You realize that sleeping in the same bed is neither proof of romantic love nor a guarantee of a satisfying sex life.
6. You enjoy attention, and therefore you enjoy having people come to your house and say, “Oh my god, WHY do you have separate BEDROOMS? What’s WRONG? Are you guys breaking up? Are you guys secretly gay? I thought you guys liked each other. I don’t understand. What do you mean, you like it better this way? What’s WRONG with you two? That’s not what married people DO. What do you mean, you like your cats to sleep on the bed? That’s DISGUSTING.”
Just kidding on that last one. That one goes on the cons list. But, hey, it’s one of a very few things on the cons list, apart from “can’t yet afford a house with separate bedrooms.”
I’m not telling you guys this because I believe you’re the kind of judgmental that needs an explanation. I’m telling you guys this because maybe some of you want to sleep in separate bedrooms and are going over the rationale, compiling lists of pros and cons. In that case, you’re welcome to my reasons.
… feeling like you’ve created your own space in the world -- you and your partner -- that doesn’t need anyone else’s approval. Or maybe that’s what codependence is? I get those two confused...
Just kidding. Ha. Love is... worth sharing, right? I feel protective of the people and things I really, really care about, which is why you don’t see me posting a lot about my relationships with Dat and my kids. But I know some of y’all have been following this journal for a long, long time, and that some of you identify with the main character in it (heh) in certain ways. So, for the sake of the story and its readers, I’m sharing with y’all that, after careful consideration, I’ve found love worth making into a legal entity, and a relationship that I believe will create long-term, overriding happiness for me, for him, and for our family.
And, in sharing this with y’all, I’m sending out good vibes and hopes that y’all have found or will find the same. 6:27 AM # (21) comments
Wednesday, March 04, 2009The Laminator
Two jobs ago, I worked at the Houston branch of a big ol’ global insurance corporation, nestled in the top floors of the second-highest skyscraper in our downtown. Within the very center of that organization, we had a laminating machine.
The laminating machine was easy to use. You tucked a piece of paper – letter or legal size – into the correspondingly sized clear plastic folder (that was a little longer and wider than the paper), then fed the plastic/paper sandwich into the machine. And it would melt the plastic around the paper, coating and sealing it to form an un-rip-able, un-water-damage-able document.
I’m not talking about the kind of item you could buy at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, though. This machine was industrial strength – all metal. You could burn your fingers on it, if you weren’t careful. I mean, it cost more than $49.95, for sure.
The laminator was on a counter in the corner of a break room, accessible to anyone. Above it, in a cabinet, there was a seemingly bottomless supply of laminating plastic. I don’t know whose job it was to order that plastic. Maybe it was done by angels.
I don’t remember ever having one work-related document that needed laminating, and I don’t remember seeing anyone else need to laminate something for work. Unless you counted the wallet-sized cards one of the department heads had her assistant make, with the cell numbers of everyone in their department printed on them in painstaking WordPerfect table format. And yet, we used that laminator like there was no tomorrow.
The woman who trained me at that company showed me the laminator on my first day and confided that she’d used it to make her daughter place mats and flashcards, all with Tweety Bird motifs. Because her daughter liked Tweety Bird, you see. One of my friends at that company, the best Exec Assis they ever had, used it to make decorations for her department. Along with the GBC binder, the laminator helped her make activity books for the children of all her friends, too. My fiance (who I met at that company, but who I hadn’t met yet, at this point in the story,) tells me that he and his coworkers laminated everything they had, just for the hell of it. Just because it was fun to use the machine. The melting plastic had a particular smell, like chemical grilled cheese. When your document came out, there was a short window of time during which the OCD-inclined could press at the plastic with improvised squeegees or the backs of their fingernails, to press out any air bubbles lingering under the clear lava. Watch it turn from matte to shiny. Then it dries, shiny to matte.
One slow work day, I used PowerPoint to create a restaurant menu on a legal-sized sheet of paper. It was for a fictional café, named after my son, that served easy-to-pronounce dishes at easy-to-add-and-subtract prices. I modified a piece of livestock clip art to give Rory’s Café a down-home, yet contemporary logo, and did the menu front and back in coordinating color scheme and font set. I made four menus – one for each member of our family – then laminated them. It only took an hour or two, altogether. As I fed the menus to the laminator, coworkers passing the break room waved at me. One or two came in to see what I was laminating, to be impressed and make note of the idea as a future project for their own kids. Something to do on a slow work day, maybe with grapevine or fish clip art, an Italian or seafood restaurant, Taylor’s Bistro or Zachary’s Fish Shack...
I took my menus home and presented them to my youngest son, then five (who was fascinated with restaurants from an early age and is only more so now, six years later). He was rendered speechless. See, they weren’t just pretend menus. They were laminated, and that pretty much made them real.
For the rest of that evening and week, we played restaurant, with my youngest son serving as waiter, host, chef and owner of Rory’s Cafe. It was gratifying to see him play this way, with such confidence and authority. And reading and math skills! (He’d been so shy since the events surrounding the separation.) One of my best friends at the time said, about the changes I’d noted in my son, “Well, he’s the proprietor of a small business now. That gives a man confidence.”
Because of the laminator, you see. Laminating documents makes an impact.
Back to the point I’d intended to make when starting this story: I didn’t know, at the time, why the corporation kept the laminator around and kept it so well stocked with supplies. As I said, there was nothing work-related, really, that needed coating in plastic.
But now, looking back, I like to imagine that the management there saw what people were doing with the machine, and had enough snap to see how happy it made us. The laminator was our toy/tool for exercising creativity. Someone with power realized that, thought it was a good thing, and gave the order to keep it in the budget.
To whoever that person was, if you existed: thanks. 8:47 PM # (4) comments
Friday, February 06, 2009Want to win a copy of my newest novel?
Then go to Loida Ruiz's skirt! blog and enter her contest. She's worried that the contest questions are too difficult and that's why no one's entered.
Let me know if you agree and I'll post the answers here. :)
Having finished and submitted revisions on my second novel, I'm now just waiting for my editor to read the whole book and write back and say, "Oh my god, Gwen, we have never before received a perfect manuscript... until now!!!1!!! ZOMG!!! You don't have to do any more revising or editing, please just lie back and have a cocktail! Good work!"
I'm pretty sure that's what she's going to say.
There are 7 or 3 billion other projects I need to start right now. But I think I'll take a weekend to myself, first.
I admitted to my fiance today, "I don't think I feel comfortable unless I have a project to stress over."
He just made this face, like "Why are you telling me stuff I realized years ago?"
You know when I'm happiest? Don't laugh at how cheesy/hipster/ironic/cheesy this is, but it's when me and my brats are playing Rockband together, and we get to a song that all of us like enough to sing out loud.
I can't explain how awesome that is, but it is.
My fiance's a musician, and he's been writing a bunch of new songs lately. He won't let me sing on them because I sing too well to mimic like a pop vocalist (or something), but sometimes I help out with the lyrics and melodies. Last night I ad-libbed a new melody to one of his own songs, and he said he liked it better...
and I don't even care if he ends up using my melody, but I liked making it up. It brought back all the good memories of making up harmonies with my friend Tania in the church choir, nine billion years ago, and writing songs with my high-school rock band 8 billion years ago, and working as the receptionist for a local arts org (7 billion years ago) and being allowed to sing in its halls with the student musicians.
And I don't know what my point is, because you either know what I mean already, because you do music, yourself, or else you don't know because you don't.
But, hey, if I were to stop and ask myself what the point is to everything that gets posted here, maybe nothing would get posted, so....
I have a lot more to tell y'all but
not enough time yet. So, more later, while I'm on break. More in a couple of days. Because I missed writing to y'all, here, too. It's another something that makes me happy. 6:01 PM # (3) comments
Wednesday, January 14, 2009Let's get the cyclical stuff out of the way, first.
1. Lost weight but then gained weight, trying to lose weight, yo-yo-dieting is not good, Gilad, Sharon Mann, CathE, Shimmy, I mean I still like myself no matter what size I am so don't worry, but I don't wanna buy new pants, blah blah blah. Carrot cake.
2. Something happened and then I felt sorry for myself and then I told myself not to and now I'm moving on.
3. Publicity. Writing. Day job. Stress. Pause for gratitude and acknowledgment of good fortune. Publicity. Writing. Day job. Stress.
We went to the book store today.
My boyfriend (fiance) was really excited and he took a picture of my novel on the Noteworthy Paperbacks table. But I wasn't excited about the books on the table, because I had a lot on my mind. I'm finishing up my second novel right now. My editor sent my agent and me a mock-up of the cover for this second novel, and it looks way more beautiful than I could have imagined it. Whoever does my covers and picks the fonts -- I love y'all. Thanks for being awesome.
So I was thinking about that and thinking about sales figures and thinking about scheduling. And then we got home and guess what came in the mail. An advanced copy of my next children's book! So now I'm thinking about that, too.
We might get laid off soon.
And it'll be okay, as long as they hurry up and let us know, as soon as they know. The not-knowing is worse than the knowing, I always feel.
I get to read some poems tomorrow.
And I'm kind of excited about that. I haven't read poems out loud in a while, and it's a slightly different mindset from the fiction or the prose.
Thinking about it makes me want to make another chapbook. This time, I want to make one in Kindle format, because
Oh, my god, forget whatever else I was saying...
I got a Kindle for Christmas! A Kindle!
My boyfriend, Tad, said he had a lot of trouble acquiring my gift this year. And I was puzzled, and hoped he hadn't gone through too much trouble.
And then I called Tad's friend Mark (psuedonym) to see if Mark thought that Tad would like the gift that I bought him. (Nintendo DS Lite, Pokemon edition.) And Mark said yes, that he, oops he means Tad would like that very much.
Then Mark said, "It's so funny that you called about that, because Tad asked me if I thought you'd like your gift, too."
And I was like, "Really?" And then I realized that Mark was being an info-hoarder and a tease, and potentially a spoiler, too, so I said, "Mark, don't tell me what Tad got me, or I'll drive to your house and kill you."
And he promised not to tell me and ruin my surprise. Then, right before he hung up, he blurted, "I just have to tell you that all my friends who have what Tad got you, play it all the time!!!"
And I yelled "Damn youuuuuu!!!!!" but he'd already hung up, so I had nothing left to do but spend the next 52 hours wondering what in god's name Tad could have bought. Something to play. Something that Mark's friends would play all the time. Hmm. A Rock Band thing? No, because we have all that. A Nintendo DS Lite, Pokemon edition? No, because I'd spent weeks pretending I didn't even know what that was (to throw Tad off track).
An electric guitar? No.
A PSP? No.
A... board game? Maybe.
Tad got me a board game. But a board game that was hard to get. Hmm. An old Parker Brothers ouija board? A special-edition Trivial Pursuit?
I couldn't guess. I gave up trying.
And then, Christmas morning (Okay, I'm lying, it was Christmas Eve, well before midnight, but), Tad handed me my gift and said, "This is something you've been deserving for a long time, baby."
A vacation? No.
A vacation day that I don't spend working? No.
A set of 800-thread-count sheets?
No! I opened my gift and it was a freaking Kindle!
Seriously, I almost cried. I think I did cry, a little. Because that's the kind of thing that, if Jay Leno walked up on the street and said, "Would you like a Kindle?" I would of course accept, but that, at the same time, I'd never ever expect someone to buy me, or ever imagine buying for myself.
So he gave it to me, and I won't get into a long explanation of how it works, because you can just click the link or google it and find out, but, long story short, it worked so beautifully that I immediately downloaded and read 5 books. Within, like, 3 days. It was so insane. I was taking it everywhere and just tearing up the reading. And the only reason I'm not reading more books on it right now is because I'm supposed to be finishing my own book, so I forceably took the Kindle away from myself. I mean, I took it out of my purse. But, as soon as I finish this book I'm writing, the Kindle goes back into my purse and I'll read 8,000 more books on it.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "OMG, Tad is the nicest boyfriend in the world." Either that, or you're thinking, "Buffalo wings would taste so sexy right now, I'd even eat them cold." But, either way, you're only partially right.
A week after Christmas, we were commuting to work. Tad was driving, and I was reading the hell out of my Kindle. After 40 minutes of that, I turned to Tad and said, "Baby, do you mind that I'm reading instead of talking to you while you drive?"
He said, "Baby, why do you think I bought you the Kindle?"
Rim shot, people yelling "BURN!" But then he said just kidding. But I knew he was only mostly just kidding.
But, best of all? I didn't even care. I went back to reading my YA sci-fi novel, and I was happy. 9:42 PM # (8) comments
Saturday, January 10, 2009Things to Do
1. Tell y'all how it feels to have fiance living with us now. (Hint: awesome.)
2. Update the "events" list above this entry with readings in Chicago, Austin, and Rockdale, TX.
3. Obsess over the honeymoon trip I'm planning where y'all can see it and add your opinions.
4. Give away a book or two as prizes in a contest I will fiendishly devise.
5. Show y'all some pictures of cornish hens and stuff.
Soon, soon, very very soon.
Labels: domestic6:34 PM # (0) comments
Thursday, January 01, 2009Happy New Year
I didn't get very drunk last night, but my fiance did. Just before he hit senseless oblivion, however, we counted down to zero, and this is what he said:
2009 is going to be our year. In the future -- in 2015 -- we'll kiss on New Year's and say, "Remember all the stuff that happened in 2009? That was awesome."
When he said that, I felt the chiming of a universal truth.
Happy 2009, people. May it be a year for you to remember fondly in 2015.
Labels: domestic4:03 PM # (5) comments
Monday, December 22, 2008Merry Christmas to my cats, who don't know anything.
Yesterday we gave the cats a new, expensive scratching post. They weren’t as grateful as you might imagine. But that’s how cats are – it takes a while for them to appreciate new things.
Last night I was petting Toby on my bed and I realized that, not only was his fur kind of oily, but he also stank. He stank like greasy fur and the cat litter lodged between his toes.
“Let’s just give him a bath right now, I guess,” I said to my boyfriend/fiance. My boyfriend was happy because he always wants to give the cats baths, but I’ve been telling him no for the past month because it’s been too cold.
We took Toby into the bathroom and closed the door. My boyfriend turned on the water and began to fill the Cat Bathing Bucket. Suddenly, Toby realized what was happening and began to cry.
“OW,” he said. “OWR!” Really loud and vibrate-y, like a siren. I hate it when he makes that noise. It breaks my heart. But he needed a bath.
He ran and hid behind the toilet while we prepared the water. When I went to retrieve him, he clawed at the tile floor, trying to hold on. “OWR!”
I felt so terrible. We washed him fast, and he cried and tried to scramble out of the tub. Usually he doesn’t hate baths that much, but for some reason, he was scared as hell this time. Clumps of dirty hair rolled off his body. We shampooed twice with Jonathan Frieda’s shampoo for blonde women and rinsed him as quickly and thoroughly as we could. I squeezed him dry. He cried. We rubbed him with two towels and swaddled him with a third. He stopped crying. He didn’t want to admit that he enjoyed the swaddling, but he always does. We let him go and he shook like a dog, then ran to hide in the laundry hamper.
(I’m lying to you. What I’m calling a “laundry hamper” is actually a laundry basket filled with and surrounded by dirty clothes, all mounded under my antique walnut vanity.)
It was Starbuck’s turn, and she knew it, and she wasn’t happy. My boyfriend had to push her from under the bed with our broom. She didn’t make any noise – just stood there looking like the saddest person on Earth while we washed her with the same blonde shampoo. (It was the only shampoo I had without excess fragrance or body-building properties.) She also liked the swaddling but pretended not to. (They make sad faces, but their ears are no longer pressed back.)
No matter how hard they licked themselves, they couldn’t get dry. So my boyfriend and I hauled them back into the bathroom prison and turned on the blow dryer. Last summer, the blow dryer scared the crap out of them. But now, in winter, they liked it. They didn’t want to like it, but they did.
They didn’t speak to us for the rest of the night.
This morning, though, they meowed at me when I woke up. Later, I sat down to put on my tights and they swarmed to get petted.
I swear to you, they had these attitudes like, “Pet us! Feel how soft and not-greasy we are! Feel the difference! We’re clean!”
I want to believe that they understand, in the end, that taking a bath makes them feel better. But I’m a realist, so I know they’re probably too dumb. They probably just think they got clean by licking themselves a lot after all that torture.
Some people celebrate Spring, instead.
A fellow carpooler asked us, “Do y’all celebrate Christmas? Have you got all your shopping done?”
And I thought it was nice of her not to assume that we all did celebrate Christmas – a carful of Caucasians in Texas. It was considerate of her, or at least polite. It probably looks rude or nosy in print, here, but I promise you the way she said it sounded perfectly friendly and polite.
So the other day, I asked a rider the same thing. “Are you celebrating Christmas this year?”
“Yes,” he said pleasantly.
“Have you got all your shopping done, then?” I asked. Just making conversation.
He exhaled audibly. “Actually, I don’t really celebrate Christmas.” He told me his ethnicity and the country where he was born. It was one where they don’t do Christmas. He explained that, as his wife and kids were American, he was obliged to do the secular stuff that everyone else in our neighborhood does. But really, Christmas wasn’t a real holiday for him.
“Oh,” I said. “So… Do you do Ramadan, instead?” I pronounced Ramadan two or three times, all wrong. I’ve seen it written but don’t often hear it aloud.
“No,” he said. “That’s the Saudis. We celebrate….”
He didn’t say the name of what they celebrated, but he explained it. Spring solstice (equinox?), for two weeks. With fire and symbolic colors and baskets of things that start with the letter C. And visiting friends and family. And that was their major holiday for the whole year. It sounded nice, but he sounded sad. Of course, because he can’t really celebrate that holiday here. He can’t take two weeks off work, even though his boss would probably be empathetic. There are always meetings and things that he can’t miss. And even if he could take two weeks off, no one around him could. He said their celebration was supposed to start on a Wednesday and progress with different activities each day. He said, “I try to do most of it, in small ways, on the Saturday nearest the Solstice.”
I said, “That sucks.” I tried to imagine living some place where no one celebrated Christmas. I’m sure I could swing it, if I felt like I was making a better life for my spouse and kids that way. But of course, I’d still be a little sad each December.
Because I’m self-centered, I made him change the subject and tell me about the food of his people. I like food a lot, and I’m always on the look-out for new food to try. He described his cuisine in detail and told me which restaurant in town was his favorite. As he was an educated and well-traveled person, he was able to describe things pretty well and find comparisons within our overlapping experiences. He was polite and candid, and I asked him if it’d be okay for me to show up at his people’s restaurant dressed as I was. He said yes, that all flavors of people went there and no one cared. In exchange, I gave him directions to my favorite Turkish restaurant in town. He’d been to Turkey and loved the food.
You think I’m going to end this section with some smarmy conclusion about people bonding across ethnicities. But I’m not. I just wanted to share with you that I learned about a new kind of food, and that I’m always down with other people who like to eat.
Some people celebrate Santa Claus.
Last night we went to my sister-in-law-to-be’s house for her yearly Thai food dinner and gift opening. (She’s not Thai, but her mother-in-law is, luckily for all of us who love curry.) So we were there, me and my fiance and all of his family and a few family friends, and I was sitting next to someone who happened to be a Catholic, and she turned to me and said, “So what are your boyfriend’s parents doing on Christmas?”
I said, “Nothing. They don’t celebrate Christmas.”
She gasped. “Why not?”
Me: “Because they’re not Christian.”
Her: “Yeah, but they still celebrate Christmas. Right??”
Her: “Why not?”
Me: “Because they’re not Christian.”
Her: [blank look]
Me: “You know – they don’t believe in Christ. So they don’t celebrate Christ’s birthday….”
Her: “Yeah, but still… Santa Claus. Hello – SANTA CLAUS.”
Me, quickly, mercifully deciding not to explain that Santa Claus doesn't exist where they were born: “Okay. This is their Christmas, today. They’re celebrating Santa Claus right now.”
Her, with audible relief: “Oh!”
Really, they’re going to celebrate Santa Claus Day by crossing the state line and gambling. But I didn’t want to confuse the issue any more. She changed the subject, then, to my uterus and how soon she could expect to see a baby pop out of it. That conversation was just like the one portrayed above, but longer and with more in-depth explanations. 6:14 AM # (8) comments
Thursday, December 18, 2008After typing the section below, I see that we’re a bunch of “ironic” people.
We went to Hobby Slobby last night and, man, were there a lot of shoppers in a bad mood. I felt bad for them – why in gosh’s name do people do things that make them unhappy for Christmas?
We went to get packing for the baked goods we will make in our Seasonal Elf Bakery Sweatshop. My kids wanted to look at ornaments. They pretended they wanted to h8 on them (“Black ornaments? What’s this for, an emo tree?”) but then I realized that they secretly wanted a Christmas tree. (“Mom, if we don’t get this for our tree, then I’m gonna buy it and put it on the end of a stick and use it for a weapon.”)
We have a yearly tradition at my house. Everyone says they don’t want/need a tree. Then, I have a burst of nostalgia and/or plant fetish, and I buy a tree, anyway. Then, I force everyone to get off the video games and help decorate the tree. Then, I totally OCD out and yell at everyone for decorating it wrong. Then, I end up decorating it, myself, while everyone else watches TV. Then, I turn on the tree lights and demand that everyone bow down and pay homage to the pagan shrine I have erected. Then, the kids go back to their video games.
So, see me sniping, three paragraphs up, about people doing stuff that makes them miserable?
Every year, I force myself to admit that I’m not a very pleasant tree-decorating-mate, and I tell everyone it’s okay if we don’t get a tree.
But, every year, the kids subtly hint that they want or expect a tree.
I can only conclude that they like having me yell at them, and like watching me get all perfectionist/insane, and like seeing the lights and the eventual presents.
My boyfriend is the one who doesn’t want a tree this year. But we’re overriding his vote. He just doesn’t understand the mysteries of our rituals. Neither do we, apparently. But it’s okay.
Don’t laugh at my weakness, Cold Hardy Types.
It got cold for a couple of days and everyone who grew up in Houston was sad, and everyone who grew up elsewhere rolled their eyes at us. But it’s okay. I found a new way to mini-bond with strangers – just walk up to sad, shivering people and say, “You were born here, weren’t you?” And they were, and so was I. And we’re all cold and sad together, and we can take comfort in the weather-related misery that loves company. And we can draw a line in the sand – not a Mason-Dixon line, not a Tree Line, but a Parka Line. Sand Truck Line. Snow Tire Line. I’m on the side of the line where we don’t like to have that stuff. We like it warm.
Two days later, it’s warm again. Of course. Our gods only give us as much burden as we can carry, right? The return of the warmth feels, to me, like the first hour your nose is unstuffed after weeks of sinus issues. You know that feeling? The extreme relief, accompanied by promises that you’ll never again take the default state for granted? And you’re just talking out your butt, because you’ll go right back to taking it for granted within a day? Yes.
I don’t have anything not-cloying to say.
I’m all like “Yay, I love the birds! Ooh, it’s warm! Yay, a restaurant! Ooh, the parts of Christmas that I don’t dislike!” Sorry. I’ll go back to complaining and ranting soon.
I have to censor myself very firmly right now, because I’m really bad at keeping secrets, okay? You know how, when you have vertigo, you avoid standing on a cliff’s edge because you’re scared you’ll be unable to keep from accidentally jumping off, despite your self-preserving instincts? That’s me right now, with the secrets. I’m like “Oh man, I better not type anything, because I might type what I got everybody for Christmas and then put it into my blog editor and hit Publish and then hit Yes, I’m Sure I Want to Publish and then I won’t delete it, and then everyone will know and the surprise will be ruined! Yikes!”
I’ve already almost-ruined it two or three times, now. In fact, I’m pretty sure everyone knows what I’m getting them and is just pretending not to, to be nice. *Le sigh.*
Let me go ahead and hang up with y’all, then. Let me go ahead and talk at y’all later. Happy December 25 if I don’t talk to you before then. Happy other days that you consider special. 6:12 AM # (1) comments
Thursday, December 04, 2008Now I have time to be stressed out.
I haven’t written here lately because I’ve been under some stress, and I never feel like talking on the blog (or to anyone) when I’m under stress. But now it’s all over, thank goshfully.
If I were in an airplane crash (God forbid; knock on wood), I already know exactly how I’d react. Cool and alert as hell, I’d put the oxygen mask on my face then put masks on everyone else. I’d pull out the floatation device seats, hand them out, calculate the distance, count it off “3, 2, 1, inhale!” and then swim everybody to safety. Then I’d go back for the more valuable plane cargo. Then I’d help with the rescue/recovery. Then I’d clearly and cogently debrief to the authorities.
Then, I’d go home, where I’m safe. Then, I’d go to the bathroom and throw up. I’d climb into bed, trembling, and cry. I’d cry for two hours, probably. Then I’d fall asleep and have a nightmare or two. Then I’d wake up and be ready to start a new day.
I’m guessing I’d do all this because that’s how I usually react in less major catastrophes. Except that I rarely throw up afterwards – it’s more like momentary nausea and retching.
Last week I finished my second novel and turned it in the night before deadline. (Extended deadline, actually, but that’s okay.) Also, last week, I had extreme Family Court drama that magically resolved itself on the same day that I turned in my novel.
And now I feel… relieved, right?
No! I feel stressed! I feel all knotted up and uptight and downtrodden. I feel crazy and unsafe. I feel scared.
I’ll probably try to cry a little bit tonight, before I go to sleep. But there’s hardly any time. I have a lot of stuff to move on to. I think I’ll just move on, instead, then. Sometimes I find that stress is the best distraction from my stress recovery. :)
(This is what you call Type A personality. This is what it takes for me to succeed. Don't feel sorry for me. Be happy for me that I'm this crazy, because the sickness is what makes the dreams come true.)
shout out to Carl Jung
Do you ever have a recurring bad situation that makes you question your existence and your karma and all that? And you think “Why does this keep happening to me?” because you believe everything happens for a reason, but you can’t think of one single reason for this crappy stuff to keep happening to you over and over again?
And then, finally, you find the one silver lining in the crappy thing, or you realize the one lesson it’s taught you?
And then, the moment you have that realization, the crappy thing stops happening?
Yeah. That’s happened to me a few times. It happened just the other day, in fact. And I’m very, very relieved that the crappy stuff seems to be over.
Thanks, Carl Jung!
I’m excited about this weekend. Here’s what I plan to do:
- Go see that movie Milk
- Go to the Turkish restaurant with the super fabulous dolmas that are not called dolmas in Turkish
- Start shopping for xmas presents for my brats, since they’ll be at their dad’s house and therefore unable to see what I’m buying them
- Go to an Indian restaurant in my neighborhood that a real live Indian person from my neighborhood said was good. (I totally, gauchely but desperately, hit up an Indian stranger during a carpool ride. I was like, “I’m sorry to be rude, but are you Indian?” He was like, “Um… yes.” I was like, “Can you please tell me if there are any good Indian restaurants in our neighborhood, because the only one I’ve found isn’t very good.” And he was like, “Oh! Yeah, sure.” And then he told me where two of them are. Thank gosh, because I was starting to have the Butter Chicken DTs and I can’t be driving all the way instead 610 for treatment all the time.)
Despite my irrational feelings of discomfort, which are probably only Seasonal Affective Dysfunction, anyway, things are pretty awesome.
Even the carpooling has been awesome, lately. I’ve been talking with a lot of nice/cool/smart people, and that restores my faith in humanity and makes me happy to be alive. The other day I met a geologist who seemed like a really decent person. Another day I met a guy who’s sort of obsessed with ballroom dancing and he told me a lot of fascinating stuff about that scene. I met a Republican precinct judge’s wife and a former Democrat activist precinct judge on the same ride, and that was a good chat.
I continually meet legal secretaries who have hilarious or shocking stories to tell. I often talk with older peeps who have insightful viewpoints on local issues. Sometimes the people are witty and we laugh, and that’s good, to laugh with strangers.
Today a transplanted Floridian and I gave a woman advice on what to buy her grandkids for Christmas, and I felt like we did some serious good. Usually, if I’m driving, I just drive in silence. Especially with men, who don’t care if you talk or not. Also, I like to concentrate super hard on my driving, so that everyone is comfortable. I’m currently obsessed with learning to brake my van as smoothly as possible, because my van has annoyingly tough brakes. Sometimes, though, I’ll get yakky with people and talk away the miles. Either way, it’s good. I don’t mind my commute anymore, now that I’m doing the HOV all the time. Even when I’m not talking to people, there’s always a lot to see out the window. I love my city, despite its flaws, so it’s good.
Some of you might consider this big news.
My boyfriend (fiancé) is moving in with us. I feel like I already told y’all that, or like most people reading this assume he lives with me, anyway. But...
(saying this next part knowing, and knowing that you know, and knowing that you know that I know, that plans like this are likely to change and shift and grow)
we’re thinking about eloping now. Or just going to the courthouse or whatever.
See, we’ve never been as worried about the wedding as we were about the marriage, and particularly about the physical love nest. So we set a long engagement, and kind of set the timeline around the housing market. Because we didn’t feel we could be married until we’d secured a house in a certain area. And that’s not feasible until at least two years from now. So, while we were in deep talks about that, people around us were asking about the wedding. And we’d be like, “Um… two years from now… string quartet, samba band, and DJ.”
But now, the stars have aligned such that it makes more sense for us to live together in my house. And, now that that’s happening, we’re like, “Wait, why do we need a wedding, again?”
It’s kind of like: living together was the final step, so why do we need an expensive middle step? You know?
It’s kind of like: why spend on a wedding, money that would be better spent on, say, a trip to Europe? Where we could hire an Italian homeless person to pose as a priest for a few photos to send back home? You know?
So, that’s where it’s at right now. In case anyone’s interested in that aspect of this eleven-year-long narrative. Plans subject to change, of course. Subject to Pricing, Funds, and Comp. Everything on Earth is subject to change, right? Even rocks, albeit very slowly.
(Every time I write “soon” for a subtitle, I think of the My Bloody Valentine song of the same name. Do you?)
Pretty soon, I’m going to announce dates/times/locations for readings for my novel, Houston, We Have a Problema, which is coming out January 9th.
I’ll go ahead and tell y’all right now that there aren’t going to be many physical readings. I feel guilty about this, because every time someone’s asked me in the past, I’ve been all glib, “East Chickenfoot, Arkansas? Yeah, sure, I’ll do a reading there in January or February.” But it’s not actually like that. My publicist peeps have done the math, and they think online and media efforts sell more books than physical readings around the country.
So… if you’re a book blogger or media peep who wants to review my book or interview me or otherwise be involved in some way when this book comes out, now is the time to tell me, so I can put you on the list or put you on the calendar. Actually, tell me also if you’re hosting any literary events or own a bookstore and would like to have me visit. I’m not supposed to invest a lot of time/energy/$ in readings out of state, but I am going to do a few, even if it’s only for the excuse to travel around a little and write it off on my taxes. :)
So, yeah. Contact me now. Our operators are waiting to take your call. Buy my product. Get a giant one for her pleasure and doesn’t leave you. All systems go. See you soon. And thanks.
Gwen 6:08 PM # (13) comments
Tuesday, November 18, 2008obligatory Thanksgiving gratefulness
The other day I was thinking about writing a "thankful for" list for this blog, and immediately got whiny and self-pitying, in my mind, over all the little things for which I'm not grateful this year. Then, right after that, I had a Thanksgiving Miracle Revelation: All my worries are first world worries. (I learned that phrase from Jackie.) That means all my problems are trite things that 98% of the people in the world wish were the only things they had to worry about. Things that the me of ten, five, or even two years ago would have been happy to trade for my worries of the moment. Things like "zomg, when am I gonna be able to fix the shower in one of the bathrooms in the house that I can still totally afford because I got a prime loan and not an adjustable rate mortgage?" And like, "I'm so sad I barely have time to write these things that people are paying me to write after I get home from the job where I'm well paid and respected for my skills!" And things like "Oh noes, I have to consult with my traffic court lawyer on this BS ticket scam that East Chickenfoot, TX is trying to run before my license comes up for renewal a year from now."
And, I mean, we have plenty to eat and plenty of air conditioning and/or heat as we need it, and more clothes and toys than we can use in a year, and our cats are fat. And we're healthy, knock on wood. So... thank God, right? Thank God for everything we have, and for the Indians feeding the pilgrims that day and giving us yet another excuse to chill out with our family and friends and eat more than usual. Life is good. Thank y'all for existing, so that your silent existence would force me to think of a list of things that would reveal to me how very, very lucky I am.
A lot of crazy stuff is going on with my day-job company, just like it is for all of yours, I'm sure. Here's hoping every one of us ends up where we need to be. A couple of our friends have been laid off recently, and we're crossing our fingers for them.
One of my friends has been sick as hell, and my fingers are crossed for her, too. Most of my friends are doing well, and I'm glad.
I'm super, super busy til December 1, polishing my second novel. After/amongst that, I'm gearing up to promote the first novel and the second kids' book. Between those, I'm hosting Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve at my house. My cousin is hosting Christmas this year, and she just told me that we might have to break down and form a Super Family Style Tamale Assembly Line, Just Like Back in the Day. I like to think that my first kids' book (see Tamale book, linked at right) was part of the inspiration for that scheme. :) The part you don't see in the kids' book is one of the cousins saying "And, while we make the tamales, we'll drink wine." But it might have been implied. Hard to say -- hard to interpret one's own work, to be objective about one's subconcious literary intent. You'll have to read the book and read between the lines. Are Ana's cousins drinking wine while they spread the masa? You will have to be the judge on that one. Then you'll have to let me know. This year I want to try to make my friend Letty's mom's "drunken tamales," which are filled with beans and cabbage. Sounds weird, but tastes freaking awesome. Believe.
Okay, no more stream of conscience blogging.
It's time to get back to work. Everybody pray for me, that I can work super hard and get everything done. I'm sending good wishes to everyone out there who has art they want/need to complete, whether they read my blog or not. Because I'm starting to believe that's one of the best things people can do to stay happy while navigating our vale of tears: make art when you feel the need. Despite time constraints. Despite the negativity of others. Despite the nagging feeling that you're supposed to be doing something else.
If I don't talk to y'all before Thanksgiving, I hope you have a good one. If you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, then I hope you have a bunch of really good days in November. 6:42 PM # (14) comments
Sunday, October 26, 2008soon
I never write, I never call. Soon, though. Almost finished being busy here. Literally, I don't know how I get everything done.
Last night I dreamed Matt Damon and I ran into each other and got to talking and catching up on what was happening with our mutual friends. In the course of our conversation, we admitted to each other that we'd always had crushes on each other. No, not crushes... we were in love.
I made out with Matt Damon. We told each other in great detail how and when and why we each knew we'd fallen in love with the other. Then we realized that each of us was currently unmarried.
"Note to self," I thought, "Break up with my fiance next time I see him." Because, as much as I loved my fiance, I knew that I had to take the once-in-a-lifetime chance to find the ultimate romantic happiness with Matt Damon, who was so obviously, probably my soulmate.
Matt Damon and I made out. I decided I'd tell my fiance we should take a break from our relationship for a month, to make sure we wanted to get married for absolute certain. During that month, I told myself, I would date Matt Damon. I decided not to divulge that part of the plan to my fiance, as it would only hurt him. Also, that way, if it turned out that Matt Damon and I were not really soulmates, I could just get back with my fiance and move forward.
I thought my plan over and could see no problems with it. Matt Damon stepped away to speak to a mutual friend. I rode a very long swing that was hanging from the sky. I swung in great circles and picked a giant almond from a tree in an orchard full of giant-almond trees being tended by Miss Carmen Abrego.
I swung back to the park and Matt Damon was waiting for me. We kissed. Then, my fiance appeared at my side. "Oops," I thought.
When I Woke Up
I realized how silly the whole thing was. Because, in reality, my fiance loves me very much, and I love him. So I know that, if Matt Damon were to come to me and tell me he'd always loved me, I could totally go to my fiance and say, "Baby, Matt Damon says he loves me. Can you and I break up for a month so I can see what's up with that?"
And I know he'd say, "Sure, baby. I know you really like Matt Damon, and I wouldn't want you to miss out on that chance."
Also, Matt Damon is married to someone who seems really nice. So, the whole point is moot.
I'm getting older.
And I'm not sad about it. It's not a bad thing, to lose patience for immature people. The best thing is that you can walk away from them without worrying that they'll stop liking you, or that they'll call you old or stuck-up or boring. You won't care about petty shit like that anymore. It's really kind of awesome, the not caring and the walking away.
This blog entry's gonna kind of suck because I have no time to write it. No time to craft. But y'all know why and y'all know that it doesn't diminish the undying distant affection that I feel for each of you. Y'all feel that great impersonal artist-to-viewer love and want to reciprocate it in terms of book sales. Don't you? Don't you? Doncha just wanna, and make it all real to me? Give me the excuse to have been doing this for so long? Create my pay-off? Give me the royal nod? Vote with your dollars? Pay my commission?
Sure. Love y'all for doing so. Y'all are the bestest.
Halloween is over for us
because we had our party last night. Next is Thanksgiving, which I'm hosting this year, so I'll have to get pretty obsessive and then OCD about every aspect of that. Then comes Christmas, which we aren't really celebrating since it's the year for the kids to spend it at their dad's. And, weirdly, although you'd think I'd mind and I would've agreed with you a year ago, I now kind of look forward to the non-Christmas years just like sophisticated people always do in short-story collections.
You know -- in award-winning short stories, people are always travelling in other countries on Christmas day and feeling only slightly melancholy, but still experiencing meaningful things that have some parallel or counterpoint to some aspect of the narrator's previous Christmas experience. And the story ends on something poignantly tragic or quirkily literarily beautiful.
So it'll be like that for me this year, except that instead of a non-American country, I'll be in a dim sum restaurant. And, in addition to all the drama and angst and metamorphosis that always takes place in my head (and is painstakingly detailed there, and then recreated later on the phone with someone, late at night), I'll have a culinary adventure, as well. Doubtless. Probably in the form of a dessert -- a new-to-me formation of red beans and dough.
And it will be magical. The stuff Nobel Prizes are made of.
P.S.: If there were any particular excuse for me to leave my fiance for Matt Damon, it would be because my fiance keeps trying to pretend that he doesn't know what American Thanksgiving food is. He keeps talking about brocolli rice casserole, and I keep getting mad to the point of tears while describing acorn squash and sweet potatoes. "Orange not green!" I cry. "THE COLORS OF FALL!"
I say we "keep" doing this and by that I mean once per year. We already had that talk this year, so it's out of the way and we can move forward. He promised to try. I promised to try to show him. (I show him the recipes, and he cooks them.) That's what being engaged means. It means a compromise. Before the compromise comes, it means making a concerted effort to figure out each other's personal traumas and mental scars. His is autumn foods for Thanksgiving, which he knows all about and only pretends not to know about even though he's been in this country since he was two. Mine is autumn foods for Thanksgiving, which I know all about because I obsess about it every year that my family cooks beans and rice instead.
Being engaged also means
calling each other fiance and fiancee instead of boyfriend and girlfriend. I know that now, because everyone keeps telling me. "Did you just say 'my boyfriend'? I thought you guys were engaged. Are you engaged or not? Isn't that an engagement ring you're wearing? Do you wish you weren't engaged? Have you called off the engagement?"
No, Mr. Damon, we haven't. The engagement is still on. But, like I told y'all, it's a long engagement. And the problem is, I can't say the word fiance without feeling like Sigourney Weaver in that episode of Seinfeld where she keeps saying fiance and Elaine says, "Maybe the dingo ate your baby."
I know what people are worried about. They're worried they're going to get cheated out of a wedding. Particularly a wedding that Tad and I have slaved and OCD'ed over, which means that it'll be the best wedding anyone's likely to see in their lifetimes in this town.
Don't worry, people. We're still engaged, and we're already obsessing over the wedding in our spare time.
Okay, that's all.
I was looking for a clip of the dingo quote for y'all, but couldn't find it. Sorry.
I'm thinking about getting a new car, by the way. Maybe two weekends from now. Send me New Car Financing vibes if you want. Or, better yet, just preorder my book.
(Impersonal, Distant, Nonetheless Heartfelt Love,)
Gwen 5:36 PM # (9) comments
Tuesday, October 14, 2008My work is under stress.
My company is going to be sold, no one knows to whom or when, and we already know what our severence packages will be, if applicable, but I have no idea whether it'll be applicable to me.
I wish that, if I were meant to get laid off, they'd do it RIGHT NOW. But they won't, of course. They'll wait until some date in the murky future. Something I can't control. I'm trying not to want to control it, then.
Last week I wanted to tell you guys a bunch of stuff about my work and all the extreme, literal-national-news-type drama that's going on, and all the misconceptions and the un-fair-ities, and my giant mission to make people understand what's really going on, and the media distortions, and how much it hurts to have one's hard work disregarded and one's company's reputation completely trashed without warrant by all that stuff,
but this week I'm just over it. Which is probably for the best, because I don't need to get in trouble for blogging about my job.
Toby is going to the vet tomorrow.
He has a jacked-up claw on his right hind leg. The jacked-upped-ness of it has a scientific name that I can't remember how to spell, but you've seen it on humans -- especially on their pinky toes. It's when the nail gets all hard and crusty like a rhinocerous horn, and you can't even cut it with the clippers anymore.
Poor Toby -- he's had it for a long time, it looks like. I only just realized a couple of nights ago. Now I know why he's been more and more lethargic. His toenail is sticking out way too far, and it probably bugs him to walk. I don't think it hurts him, but it most definitely probably bugs him.
I trimmed as much of it as I could with the biggest toenail clippers in the house, and that seemed to help a little. Already, he's been more mobile and lively. (And evil, but that's probably just because of the full moon. Starbuck's more evil, too, and her claws are fine.)
So I'm taking him to the vet tomorrow so they can mess with it. I don't know if he's going to need surgery or medicine or just regular professional single-claw trimmings or what. Something in the future that I can't control. We'll see.
Things in the future that I should be able to control but am finding it hard to because I have, like, zero personal time lately.
Namely: my writing.
Also: I need to redo this Web site.
That's all I can say without having stress-related stomach stress.
Today I went to a shopping center in my neighborhood and felt like hitting everyone in it with a two-by-four containing a single rusty nail. From the incompetent punk kids who work at every single retail establishment in this zip code, to the punk kids who perambulate in every shopping center because they have nothing better to do, to the shitty, shitty drivers, to the trollish old women who exist only to give strangers unsolicited ugly looks.
I was cranky. I was bothered. Then I realized, I always get this cranky right before Halloween. And I always get a little fatter, too. And stressed about looking fat in my costume. And preemptively background-stressed about eating or not eating on Thanksgivng and Christmas.
I don't think it's all about my weight and eating, mind you.... No, that's only one part of the annual holiday emotional ferris wheel. (Didn't want to say "roller coaster," but you know that's what I actually meant.)
And... yeah. Here it goes again. Whatever. I'm tired of it. Purposefully refrained from tailgaiting the asshole who'd been tailgating me. Tried really, really hard not to hate every single person. Succeeded in only hating half.
Tomorrow is another day. Another phase, another degree in the sun rays' refraction. Anohter chance to be a better person. Wish me luck.
I think I should go to sleep now. First I'll do a few Variety Puzzles from my Dell Variety Puzzle book, and then I'll go to sleep.
I'm going to be a "pirate vixen." Josh is going to be a pirate. Rory's going to be the guy from V for Vendetta. The Guy Fawkes guy, I mean. Tad's going to be Jesus. Toby's going to be a cat with a refurbished claw. Starbuck's going to be a little bitch.
It's gonna be awesome. We're gonna have fun.
Leave a comment telling me what you're going to be for Halloween, if you want. Put a link to your Flickr when you get back your pix. 9:06 PM # (6) comments
Monday, October 06, 2008Life in the Stranger Danger Lane
Someone finally let me in on the secret -- you can put your life in the hands of strangers, in the mornings as well as the afternoons, by getting picked up at your local park-n-ride and hitching a ride into the HOV lane.
Someone on Twitter tried to explain this to me -- said it was called "the slug line" in their city. But I'm such a car-town noobie, I didn't understand what exactly it meant.
You can ride with strangers downtown, for free. You can listen to strangers talk about their lives, and no one makes eye contact.
If you're me, you can try picking up your own hitchers one day. You can pick up two men at 6 AM in your mini van. After they're in your car, you can notice for the first time that your mini van contains, in order of nearness to your passengers:
- one torn cover of a Victoria's secret catalog
- one girdle, with all price tags, that someone other than you bought last Halloween
- no fewer than three pairs of shoes that smell very, very bad
- the contents of a busted box of emergency OB tampons, rolling all over the very back seat
You know I'm freaking awesome, because I turned around and saw all that, and then I just shrugged. And flowed down the road with my NPR on. Driving like a champ, even though my two male passengers were watching like a hawk, waiting for me to drive poorly. Sticking out my hand when I had to stop short, saving the life of the stranger on the passenger side, as if I'd given birth to him, myself.
The guys were good sports about it. I told them I'd pick them up at the same time next day. But I was lying. Next day, I caught a ride with someone else I'd never seen before. Another silent social contract. Another new face that never looked directly into mine.
The Sad Cowboy
I've been trying forever to tell y'all the story about the sad cowboy singer who works (worked?) at Larry's BBQ Buffet on 290. But I never remember.
Or else, like now, I remember but I can't tell you because I'm too tired. I'm so effing tired right now, I don't even know how I've typed this much so far.
I have a lot of stuff on my Master To-Do List. A lot of work I don't have time to get done.
So the cowboy has to wait. That's all he ever does, anyway. Wait and sing, wait for tips. Wait for someone to cut him a break.
I'm not supposed to tell you this, but
Shh -- one of my children went to his first dance on Friday night. First dance, first date. Shhh! Don't tell him I told you.
We were so happy to see it all go down. It was incredibly normal. Not like my first dance and not like my boyfriend's. But the two of us knew how a first dance was supposed to go, so we worked hard to make it happen for my son.
The girl he went with turned out to be a dud in the most cliched sense. ("I'm mad at you now." "Why?" "Figure it out.") But I'm even kind of glad for that. I pegged her from the start and was hoping they wouldn't start dating for real. I have the feeling I'm gonna be one of those picky-bitchy moms, for whose sons no girl is ever good enough. But oh, well. Everyone has faults, right? Even cliched ones, sometimes. 8:58 PM # (6) comments
Monday, September 01, 2008domestix
This weekend we made (I made) picadillo, rosemary chicken, and a loaf of white bread. And sloppy joes, which I'm not counting because the recipe wasn't good and they came out too sweet. This weekend we also made tomatillo salsa with tomatillo from the farmer's market. And it came out awesome. As did the chicken and the picadillo.... The bread came out crustier than we expected, but the inside was still very good.
Remember I told y'all I'm trying to cook more -- that I've been inspired to cook more. It's working, actually. One of the biggest lessons I learned this past week, though, was that not every recipe book is trustworthy. And that, when you make a crappy recipe from a crappy recipe book, it doesn't mean you're a bad cook. I think I used to get caught up in weird beliefs like that. Now I know I can just tear those recipes out of my binder and move forward.
(I don't want to get all into this here and now, but I've kind of become a disciple of Nigella Lawson in the past couple of weeks. I've joined her cult. Some people say her recipes aren't so great, but I don't care because her words are insightful and have been helping me get over some old psychological barriers to cooking. It's helping me to feel better not just about cooking, but about other domestic and womanly spheres.) (I say I don't want to get all into that right now, and that's because I think it'd be more proper to write her a fan email, first.)
The Love That Dare Not (and Is Physically Unable to) Speak Its Name
Toby is having emotional drama lately. Here's the stuff I wasn't ready to tell y'all earlier in the season -- the stuff I wasn't sure y'all were ready to hear.
Toby is forlorn because he thinks he's my boyfriend. He's my boyfriend, but he can't have sex with me, and I keep having sex with some guy who comes over every weekend.
That's about it. That's the sum of his dilemma.
Every afternoon that I get home from work, I find Toby waiting for me on my bed. He always meows or purrs at me when I come in and take off my work clothes. He often persuades me to pet him, rather aggressively. Sometimes he makes what I can only describe as "sexy eyes" at me.
At night, Toby must sleep on my bed. Usually he sleeps at my feet, like a good boy. And that's nice. But once in a while -- maybe once a month (when the moon is full? when I'm especially fertile?) -- Toby will wait til dark and walk up to where my face is and try to... what? I don't know. I never get it. He gets all up in my face and rubs his face against me and meows and does the sexy eyes and reeks of cat manliness, basically, in general.
And when he does that, I pick him up and say, "Toby, no! I'm not that kind of girl!"
And that's usually enough to make him quit. But, if he doesn't, I say very firmly to him, "Toby, you're a freaking cat, and I'm a human being. It's not going to work out between us. QUIT."
And then he quits. And then we're happy again. And then Starbucks meanders into the bedroom, and then Toby date rapes her. (But not really. She likes it. She even looks at me over her shoulder, like, "Don't be jealous, you old prude.") And then I throw a pillow at them and they go rent a hotel room. And everybody's happy, and life goes on.
Until Tad shows up.
Whenever Tad is here, Toby skulks. He hides in one of the kids' rooms, or behind the dryer, until Tad leaves. All weeked long, I mean.
Or else, Toby waits until night, when Tad and I are asleep in my bed. Then, he walks into my bedroom and sits there and stares at me in the dark. I wake up sometimes and see him doing it, and he has the most bitter, sad, jealous, and -- I'm sorry, but -- hilarious look on his face. He's like, "You bitch. You beautiful, faithless bitch."
Or else it's like, "Some day, Tad.... Mark my words. Some day you'll be sorry you tangled with me and dared to touch my woman."
And then I reach out a hand to him, and try to coax him to the foot of the bed. But he just turn on his heels in disgust and walks away.
There. My secret is out. Now you know the truth about me and what I am:
I'm a cat tease.
May as well tell the whole truth...
Starbuck is a drug addict. She's addicted to catnip, and I'm the one who got her hooked.
I grew these stupid catnip plants in the back yard, thinking it'd be fun for the cats to have around, right? And, at first, when the plants were small, I got a kick out of picking the young leaves and garnishing the cat's food with them. Only Starbuck noticed. She'd arrange the leaves on the floor and sort of roll around in them. How cute, right?
Well, like all domestic pleasures undertaken here, the catnip eventually got forgotten. It got big and bushy, and I noticed that it didn't smell minty, anymore. It smells like weeds now. So, I figured it was defective (or else actual weeds had overtaken the plants when I wasn't looking) and I quit using it...
until today. Today, I went out to work on my plants a little, and I cut off all the flowering stalks and put them in a vase, as I am wont to do, and the catnip had started almost-flowering, so I cut a big hunk of it and brought it into the house. And, like the lazy slattern I am, I threw the big hunk on the floor near the cats' dishes, then walked off and forgot about it.
Five minutes later, I heard Tad yell, "Dammit! Stupid cat!"
As he explained it later, Starbuck was rolling on the catnip with a dazed look on her face, and went he went into the kitchen, she snapped out of her trance, jumped up, and knocked her water bowl onto the floor.
"Oh, man," I said. Then, ten minutes after that, I was doing laundry or something* in my bedroom. I was standing near my bed, and I suddenly heard Starbuck underneath it. She was meowing in a weird way and thunking against something. Like rolling around or running in circles, bumping against the underside of the bed. And meowing, weirdly. In a possessed way, sort of.
I didn't even want to look at her. I was kind of scared I'd see her looking creepy, like Ren and Stimpy or Cow and Chicken. So I ignored her, but made a mental note not to give her anymore catnip. It's too strong now. It's too pure. Too uncut.
A few minutes after that, she quieted down and I got down on the floor to have a look at her. She was lying there very calmly, but also kind of wary. Seriously, her eyes were saying, "Whoa. That was a bad trip, man."
Not in a bad, bad way... not bad enough to actually worry or take her to the vet, you understand.... But in a hungover, "I've learned my lesson, no more catnip binges" kind of way. You know how that goes, I'm sure.
Poor Starbuck. The teen years are so hard. Hopefully she'll stay on the wagon and take care of herself.
I think I'll uproot the catnip and plant regular mint in its place.
*Okay, I wasn't doing laundry. I lied to you. I was flipping through a cookbook, trying to make last-minute decisions about which recipes to xerox before returning them all to the library.
Domestix! 9:41 PM # (6) comments