Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Two more weeks ... Two more weeks ...

Shhhh…that wheezing….do you hear it? That’s me, coming up for air from a work project from the filthy bowels of hell. It’s actually a well-intended and important project, meant to reduce binge-drinking in my county. However, the thunderous amount of tedious writing is making me want to binge-drink in the worst way. It looks like I'm in for 12-hour days and weekends at the office for another two weeks, unfortunately.

Guess who’s getting drunk on Easter?

That’s right. My elderly relatives.

And me.

Meanwhile, my personal life has become a hairball coughed up by Satan. Which is to say, not anything to be desired, and highly unattractive. Case in point: over the weekend, I actually said this to J: “Oooh! Tell me when it’s two o’clock. I want to watch Victory Garden on PBS.”

(Hmmm…something tells me the Lillian Vernon people were on to something by adding me to their mailing list.) Anyway, I related this “funny” anecdote to my brother, and he called me a loser. I replied, “I know you are but what am I!” and then punched him in the thorax.

Okay, I didn’t punch him, or say that. But I wanted to.

Also, there is book news! I spoke with my editor last week. The new contract is being finalized, and we’re looking at a tentative release in June of 2008 as a Ballantine trade paperback. I. Can’t. Wait.

In the meantime, when I’m not weeping with frustration at the office, I’m working on the next book.

In my free time.

Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!! Free time! *sigh* Sometimes I just crack myself up.

And before I forget, have you noticed just how many people are now appending their statements with “You know what I mean?” or “Do you know what I’m saying?” It’s becoming insidious. Stop this infernal trend now, before it’s too late!

Well, I best get back to work. That mile-high stack of paperwork in 8 point font isn’t going to analyze itself.

You know what I mean?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Tribute to my Mother ... (and Now I have that Danzig Song in my Head)

I have been tagged for a meme by Slouching Mom. The subject? Real moms, and all things about them. As I am not yet one, I shall write about my own dear mother. So without further ado, let the Mommery commence!

Real moms aren’t afraid to catch their child’s vomit in cupped palms, even if it’s regurgitated Hamburger Helper.

Real moms aren’t that surprised to see decorative Jackson Pollack-like artwork comprised entirely of poop on their child’s bedroom walls.*

Real moms go without new outfits for years, even wearing their own daughter’s hand-me-ups after they’ve gone out of style.

Real moms wear t-shirts that say, “When it comes to guilt trips, I’m a frequent flyer.” With no irony whatsoever.

Real moms tell you wistfully that they’ll probably be too old and crippled to play with their grandchildren before you get around to producing one.**

Real moms rush to your aide when you sprain your ankle, driving 45 minutes to bring you crutches, an ice pack, and concern. When they arrive, they berate themselves for forgetting to also bring soup and Ben-Gay.

Real moms obsess over the fact that you probably turned out this way because they neglected some minor developmental issue years and years and years ago.

Real moms sing lullabyes you remember forever.

Real moms have purses that could transport a pallet of landscape pavers. Inside, there will be dusty wads of tissues (some crusty at one end but deemed still usable on the other), four different kinds of lip balms, sensible breath-freshening gum, a ring of keys that could crush a small mammal, an envelope of coupons (many of which expired before 1989), a vinyl-clad checkbook, a tire gauge, a flashlight, a vat of Vaseline intensive care hand cream, a lint roller, a wad of insurance documents, a small medicine chest, a first-aid kit, a microscopic sewing kit, hand sanitizer, and the ugliest photo of you ever taken.

Real moms cook the best meals, paint the best crafts, sew the best quilts, and grow the best gardens. They never think their handiwork is the best, though.

Real moms are not afraid of mucous, but they are terrified that you will be attacked by terrorists if you move to Chicago.

Real moms fall asleep during movies, even ones they see in the theater, because they work too hard all week long.

Real moms aren’t afraid to break it down on the dance floor when the wedding DJ plays Nelly. And they don’t mind much when you laugh.

Real moms (and dads) tell you when you’re an insolent teen that if there is any justice in the world, you will have twin daughters someday, and they will be exactly like you.

So there you have it. Love ya mom!

*Please note that I was not the poop-smearing child. But I was the Hamburger Helper expeller.

**I should point out that this is a sentiment not actually spoken aloud by my mother, but implied. It is also a sentiment shared strongly by other parental figures in my life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Value of Pubic Humiliation: The Story of This Blog

When I was nine, my parents grew to believe I was dangerously close to teetering over the edge of a greedy, amoral abyss. I chalk this up to a series of painful episodes, beginning with the time I convinced every girl in my class to give me a My Little Pony at my ninth birthday party. Drunk with power, I then demanded my godmother return her practical birthday gift to me for the My Little Pony castle so my vinyl ponies would have somewhere to meet their dates. And she did! (I don’t recall what the practical gift was, but it might have been corduroys or a wooden box in which to store my plastic bracelets.)

I would have slapped me. In fact, I wish someone would invent a time machine already so I could travel back in time and slap some sense into myself that year. (But mom, if you're reading this, thanks for not slapping me.)

I was also getting into lots of trouble at school. Here are just two samples of my bad behavior from that year:

1) My friends and I regularly tossed our classmate, Nikki B., into the school dumpster during noon recess. For fun, I guess, though I doubt Nikki enjoyed it much. Skinny and rich enough to have a pink, ruffled canopy bed and all the Barry Manilow tapes, she made an easy target. (Nikki, wherever you are, I apologize for being such a jerk.)

2) My teacher, Mrs. Bradford, caught me pointing to my special girl area during a spelling test in a vain attempt to make my friend Melanie laugh. The spelling word was “hose.” I think you can figure out what I was getting at, loosely. (Wasn’t I terrible?) I had to push my desk into the hallway and shamefully confess my meaning behind the pointing. Actually, I didn’t confess; Melanie told on me. (Sidenote: is it me, or is the word "hose" kind of easy for a third grade reading test?)

CCD wasn’t getting through to me, probably because the nuns were more than a thousand years old and I wasn’t down with the whole confessional booth thing. Plus I was still singed from a mortifying church incident: when charged with merely doing the first reading during mass for all of the K-8 classes, I didn't know when to stop and kept right on reading, all the way through the gospel. My teacher (Sister Shameonyou) stood up and thundered, "NO!!!"

So despite money being tight, my parents shelled out the bucks for the complete set of ValueTales books in an effort to get me back on the right track.

Did anyone else have the ValueTales books when they were a kid? They’re still on my old bookshelf at my parents’ house, their sun-faded spines advertising the lesson each book aimed to instill: responsibility, fairness, honesty, determination, courage…

I think I had almost all of the books, save for “The Value of Laughter: The Story of Lucille Ball” and “The Value of Conviction: The Story of Cesar Chavez.”

Here we have Canadian amputee Terry Fox, who taught me the value of facing a challenge. Years later I would employ the skills I developed from this book when facing a particularly arduous challenge called “dating.”

Though Nikki never exacted revenge for my torments, not to worry. Junior high did. And payback was indeed a bitch. But that’s a post for another day.

A portrait of the artist as a young a-hole, at right.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Baby Got (a Bad) Back

Remember how last weekend I threw my back out again because I’m about as physically toned as a lump of overcooked squash? Well, that was mere child’s play in the wide range of incidents that can lead to back muscle failure and pain that can only be described as a “Viking War of Hurt,” or maybe “Sauron’s Evil Eye Burning into You.” Because last night I slipped on our icy front steps on my way to take the dog out to do her pre-bedtime business.

For one split second my entire body was parallel to the earth, my eyes cast towards the stars (“I’m flying! I’m flying, Jack!”). And then I crashed onto the front stairs on my back, emitting a hoarse bark upon impact that could only have been uttered by Phyllis Diller with a wad of phlegm stuck in her throat after accidentally surprising two burglars in her living room. My head bounced off one of the risers, my rear connected rudely with the wet sidewalk, and the edges of the stairs stamped a blazing ladder of pain across my back, focusing mostly on the low spot I nursed all last week in my poorly self-directed rehabilitation plan.

And then do you know what I did? That’s right. I did what any mature, well-adjusted woman who’d experienced an ambulatory mishap would do. I started crying like a two-year old. I sat on the front steps in my wet jeans and bawled while Daisy just turned around and cocked her head at me like, “Let’s get the show on the road, Blubberface!”

So I did. I gingerly stood, still crying, determined to coax a turd from my constipated dog’s butt. (She’s been soiling throw-rugs at night, and I was getting fed up.) Have you ever seen a grown woman limping around on the curb, begging her dog to “Make a poopie. Please make a poopie right there!” while crying? Trust me; it’s as pathetic as it sounds. Thank god it was dark out, and winter.

Then this morning I heard some scraping noises outside and looked out the window to see a 176 year-old woman successfully navigating our ice chunk-strewn sidewalk with use of a walker. Which did nothing for my self-esteem. (And also my sense of self as a responsible homeowner. I threw out armfuls of dog-friendly de-icing pellets seconds later.)

But Saturday night was certainly fun. We saw one of our favorite bands in Milwaukee: Trampled by Turtles. I’ve blogged about them before; they’re a punk, alt-country bluegrass band, and very good. This was the first time I’d ever seen a bluegrass band stir up a mosh pit, and it was a satisfying as it sounded. Many laughs were had at the expense of my Caucasian brethren as they attempted to transcend a Navin Johnson-like state of rhythmic ineptitude. (It might sound mean-spirited, but it wasn’t, because many of the “dancers” were so drunk they would raise their arms and seconds later, look in wonderment with half-mast eyes at their raised arms as if to think, ‘Hmmm. What’s my arm doing up in the air?’ And then they would break it down in a hideously off-beat manner.)

Anyway, I clung to the edge of the mosh pit, tapping my foot and showing the world my poorly developed sense of movement like it was nobody’s business. A good time was had by all. And despite the fact that I had drunk only 7-Up that tasted as if it was reincarnated diaper soakwater, I still woke up with a hangover from the second-hand smoke.

PS: I know I semi-promised pictures of Daisy leaping in glorious canine fury at the water heater, and I took some shots, but they didn’t really show the full range of her antagonistic relationship with the unit. And who wants to see anti-climactic, poor representations of an event after the fact? So I’ll post some other photos later this week. Of exciting things like the baby heliotrope and delphinium seedlings I have sprouting under lights upstairs. Aren’t you pumped just thinking about it?