Monday, July 24, 2006

Must ... Finish ... Revisions

Forty pages to go on the book in one week and it's hotter than Jabba the Hut's taint, which is really doing a number two on my creativity. Also, I've possibly become more boring than caulk from the 1950s, which is way more boring than modern caulk. The highlights of my days now include: 1) monitoring the baby birds on my front porch; 2) ordering shit I don't need online; and, 3) walking Daisy the Incredible Canine Mop. You know, they say owners tend to look like their dogs, and if so, I'm in serious trouble. If I'm walking around with dingleberries on my ass and a dead leaf stuck to my face, you will tell me, right?

But enough about me. What's new with you? I truly thank you for bearing with my slothful updates these days. But I'm finding that I do my best work more cloistered than a Trappist monk. Which facilitates a social life about as full as Nicole Richie after a public meal, but hey, I do what I can.

Random thoughts: when you were younger, say between the ages of 17 and 24, did you rub the sweaty back of your neck or the bridge of your nose and then stick your grubby, greasy fingertips into the frothy head of your beer to more quickly disburse the foam? The other day I had a flashback to a time when my friends and I actually did this at house parties and I thought, My GOD were we gross!!! Who on earth thought of that neat little trick? A syphilitic panhandler?

Also, what on earth does a Sergeant at Arms do? Is he subordinate to the General of Legs? (Sorry about that...I told you my brain's on auto-pilot for any non-book related issues. Just ask my family. I'm driving them crazy with my poor listening skills and subpar personal interaction of late.)

Finally, is anyone else as addicted as I am to the Sunday night Adult Swim lineup on the cartoon network? (Outing my true geekiness here.) Whenever I'm crabby all I need to do is hum "Jefferton ALIVE!" from Tom Goes to the Mayor and I start smiling.

Okay, that wasn't the last "finally." Here is the ultimate finale. Pictures from the garden I haven't yet killed. (Also known as the Procrastination Series.) See that monarch caterpillar? I got all excited and bought bird netting and everything to protect him so I could watch his magical transformation into a beautiful butterfly, and then on Saturday some asshole blackbird ate him.


A vertical view featuring how goofy the one blue Delphinium in the back looks. (I planted five of these babies, so hopefully they'll fill in and look less scraggly soon.) What you're not seeing: a clump of purple coneflower, white clips campanula, red impatiens, purple petunias, coral bells, lady's mantle, bee balm, catmint, alyssum, and a family of leprechauns that claim to relatives of David Caruso.

Bert the Bluejay.*

Clyde,* our resident Chipmunk. He's currently hanging out in the pile of lumber awaiting placement in our new garage.

My poor, defunct caterpillar, now likely so much bird splay on someone's freshly washed windshield. The circle of life, my friends. Sometimes it really sucks.

*Names have been invented solely for blogging purposes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Brownies, anyone?

Okay, I am NOT going to post anything about how hot it's been lately, because you'd have to be living in a movie theater in Nome, Alaska not to have either experienced this misery firsthand, or read about it online, or watched ongoing coverage of it on the numerous ADD cable news channels that purport to keep us informed. All I'm going to say about this heat is that it resulted in a very peculiar symptom for me. That is, I watched the beginning of an old MacGyver rerun in which MacGyver attempts to befriend a motley troup of teen gang leaders stranded in the wilderness by ... baking them brownies in a rock oven.

I'm not joking. Now, had it not been so hot, I wouldn't have been prostrate on the couch, sweating from even my fingernails, and I may have missed this pinnacle of entertainment.

Today there was a domestic disturbance across the street which resulted in a visit from a Man in Blue. It was an incredibly unsettling verbal and physical altercation between our new wheelchair-bound neighbor and his teenage son, culminating in the son shouting at his father, "F*ck you, punk-ass bitch!" before running off behind the house.

Who needs Jerry Springer? Just come over to my house. We'll put some lawn chairs out front and I'll make popcorn. No, actually, maybe I just need to bake that kid some brownies in a rock oven. That'll settle him down. MacGyver knew, man.

Honestly, it's like living next to an active volcano.

In other news, our driveway is almost finished, an adorable family of baby finches (brood #2 for the season!) has hatched in one of the hanging baskets on our porch, I'm making progress on the revisions, and if you missed Amy Sedaris & her tumbling routine on The Colbert Report last night, you missed a good chuckle. I'm almost finished with Melissa Bank's The Wonder Spot, and now thanks to Jen Weiner's blog, I have discovered Jonathan Tropper.

Like I need any more ways to procrastinate on writing the difficult new scenes.

Speaking of which, I need to return to the muse before she calls me a punk-ass bitch and runs off behind the house.

UPDATED TO ADD: I have to put in a plug for fellow writer Diana Peterfreund, whose debut novel Secret Society Girl launches today... how exciting is that? Diana is an awesome, talented, and hard-working gal. She coordinated the Stiletto contest the year I entered and has said very kind things about Riding with Larry Resnick on her blog. Let's help this woman reach the top of the bestseller lists. Go, buy, read, enjoy! Off to order my copies.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Is that a pulse on my blog? Yes, it is!

Greetings, salutations, nanu-nanu. Geez, time does fly in summer! I still don't feel like I've caught my breath from my recent travels, because now, instead of soaking up the sun in the backyard, relaxing by my flowers (which are living! So far! Thrilling!), I hear the roar of engines in my driveway all day. It's just like I'm driving next to a stream of semi trucks all over again. But don't get me wrong, I'm very pleased with the result of this noise. Because by the end of the week, we'll have a concrete driveway in which we can park, grill out, play basketball, leak oil, play shuffleboard...and then, a real, live garage in which to store all our crap. Oh my goodness, it's like we're finally catching up to Levittown! The cockles of my heart are all fuzzy and warm.

And believe it or not, despite the noise, I'm making progress with the revisions--150 pages down, 180 more to go in the next two weeks. I'm trying to keep the poop jokes to a minimum, but they're sneaking in. We'll see what makes the final cut later in fall. The bad thing is that I'm neglecting the blog, because my creativity has been siphoned for the time being. I'll just have to rely on the old standby: regaling you with the dull and sometimes embarrassing minutiae of my life.

Basically, I can sum up the last week this way: Spy on new neighbors ... make homemade cherry barbeque sauce ... spy on construction workers in driveway ... water flowers ... "help" install new back door ... finish reading a new book ... spy on driveway guys some more ... try to keep up with and make sense of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie ... spend a completely sober evening with old college roommates and still have fun ... and so on and so forth.

Yes, as my last "event" indicated, I spent a low-key, alcohol-free, yet engaging evening with friends this past weekend, and this thought passed through my mind at one point in the night: THEN--pass out on a toilet after eating quiche prepared for an entire roomful of drunk people by tipsy roommate clad only in underwear and an apron. NOW--fall asleep while watching Little House on the Prairie with same roommates. But? The Sunday morning high-starch brunch at a local diner was still the same, minus the headache and general crappy feeling.

While I was gone our other neighbor's 18 year-old son had a party. One of the attendees knocked on our front door around 10:30 at night and asked if the party was at our house. I mean, anyone could assume so, given the lack of music, booze, babes, cars, jello shots, and fun. I'm just relieved J didn't crash the party or buy them beer.

Anyway, I'll be back to blog again early next week if I don't melt in the heat. And no, it wasn't me that passed out on the toilet. I was the one who took the picture. Peace out.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Finally Home!!!

Okay, I’m finally home for awhile. And I’ve never been happier to be back in Wisconsin. I really don’t want to do any driving for a long time. Not even to the store for toilet paper. I’m going to learn to weave my own from dandelion leaves, of which there are a multitude in my yard. I’m not even going to get in the car if the end of the trip holds a promise of Culver’s ice cream, because not only would this necessitate me getting into the car again but Hel-LO, it’s “Show me your back fat” season, people! I refuse to even get in the car should a trip to the emergency room be in order due to a tumble down the stairs; I’m taking that broken ankle and hobbling my crippled ass all the way to triage the old-fashioned, bipedal way. At this semi-random point I must thank my excellent hostess in Boulder, Michelle, who put up with me for a third night after my original flight home was cancelled. And thank you to Aunt Sue, who threw one hell of a shindig in Minnesota this past weekend.

Anyway, I hope you all had a great “Loud Sounds of Money Being Burned” I mean Fourth of July holiday. Don’t mind me. I’m just crotchety because several of my neighbors enjoy celebrating our nation’s independence from Great Britain by detonating bottle rockets, firecrackers, and what could very well be a land mine at regular intervals late at night. And all day. Boy, it’s a good thing my dog loves loud, startling noises! They calm her nerves and put her right to sleep. It’s like a doggy sedative!

Next week will be interesting. We’re having our driveway excavated and I need to really get cracking on the revisions, so I’ll learn if I have the ability to concentrate despite loud machinery crashing around in the background. My money’s on “No.”

(this statement in parentheses serves as a segue.)

Here’s a recent highlight from one of the last few days in the car. J and I were following his parents home from Minnesota on Sunday; they planned to drop by the home of their former pastor and his wife, since we were in the neighborhood and all. Gracious hosts that they are, they fed us lunch and good conversation during our brief visit. Unfortunately, I was feeling quite spacey from the heat and endless, endless days of driving I had just logged. Plus, I was constantly trying to account for the whereabouts of Daisy, who has a tendency to furtively shit in people’s bedrooms if you’re not watching her. Especially if the carpet is new or white. So I wasn’t paying attention when Pastor John turned to me at one point during the meal and asked, “So Jessie, are you limber?”

He asked it rather quickly, in between a conversation with J’s parents about their former church. I froze. What had he said? Limburger? Lunder? Linver? Is this some kind of Lutheran sect or denomination? I looked helplessly at J and his parents across the table. They stared back at me. Time stretched out, and somewhere I could hear a clock ticking and children aging. Just as I began to form the words, “No, I was raised Catholic,” Pastor John added, “Flexible. Can you touch your toes?”

I barked a laugh. “Ho no! I most certainly can’t.” Apparently he was telling some story about a very bendy girl that once worked at the church and could have joined the Cirque de Soleil if she wanted. She was that talented.

So that’s what can happen when you’re not paying attention.

I’ll post more pictures from the trip later this week. In the meantime, I’ll be working on improving the novel and fuming over my new neighbors across the street, whose radioactively giant dog has crapped (hugely) in our yard three times since they moved in a few weeks ago and whose cat has murdered two baby bunnies under our porch. I can hear the man of the house shouting for the dog now, which is probably blocks away crapping on someone else’s lawn as I write this.