Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You can now call me Aunt Jess

Guess who has a new nephew to corrupt? That’s right! ME! I’m only kidding about the corrupt part, because he is sweet and perfect and wonderful. And while some may argue that those traits can make for the most entertaining corruptions, I simply love this little boy too much to buy him a synthesizer and drum kit for his sixth birthday or feed him nothing but Skittles and let him stay up late to watch Weekend at Bernie’s and Caddyshack II and set off firecrackers when he comes to visit.

My sister did such a fantastic job in the delivery room. No drugs! No screaming! (Well, mostly. But I only did it that one time.) She almost made labor look easy, like a Dr. Suess poem: Give birth while you sleep! Give birth in a Jeep! Give birth lying down, give birth with no frown! (Well, easy except for that one part that caused me, her childless sister, to curl into a numb ball of terror in the corner. Kidding again!)

I’d never witnessed a real, live birth before. And it was amazing. I freakin’ CRIED, alright. And then I drove home at three in the morning, so dog-tired and sentimental that I actually listened to The Scorpions’ “Wind of Change”* in its entirety (remember, I was overtired), smiling goofily nearly the whole way and thinking things like, “my new nephew makes me want to be a better person” and “if we work together, we can change the world.” Babies are just such hope-inspiring little people. They make me want to join a commune and give up my place in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Well, after today they do.)

He is eight pounds / eight ounces, twenty inches long, alert, strong, and his back is kind of hairy. I just love him. The trick will be figuring out how to wrestle him away from my parents, who have already begun to spoil their first grandchild like it’s a competitive event.

And do you know what else? I’m his only aunt! And I’m the Godmother! Do I sound like I’m kind of bragging? I guess I am…this is all so very exciting.

I promise I won’t turn this blog into the New Nephew Photo Gallery. Unless you want me to. Do you? Have I mentioned his cute little mango-shaped head tucked into that snug little knit cap? And his adorable button nose and wide, wondering eyes? He already has many hobbies, such as sucking on his teeny-tiny fist and winning hearts and minds. He’s very talented and brilliant. I will post a picture or four-hundred when I have some.

Sidenote: my mother told me that when she was in labor with me, the doctor brought in six student interns to observe my birth. Isn’t that something? And I’ve been an attention-hog ever since.

So tell me some birth stories. How were you born? How were your children born? How was the universe born? How about the concept of the spelling bee?

I’ll start: when my younger brother was born, he came out peeing and the doctor said, “It’s the fountain of youth!” Okay, your turn!

*This was playing on the radio. If you ever find this in my CD collection, please schedule an intervention and restrict my access to things like checking accounts, flammable materials, and microphones at public events.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'll take my corn creamed, thank you

So Saturday we went to a friend’s wedding reception, which was lovely. Everything about it was lovely, except my hair, because India’s monsoons were blown off course this weekend and made landfall on my head, and also in a multi-county area in southwestern Wisconsin. The Governor declared a state of emergency, and now I’ll never get these flashing orange highway barrels out of my hair.

Here’s another thing that wasn’t so lovely about it: I ate corn on the cob in public. Yes! Voraciously, too. Because at one point I happened to look down at my chest (which, I’m not really all that prone to do at random intervals, as it’s pretty much a straight view to the ground; my sister was born with all the interesting topography in the family) so anyway, I glance down at my chest and am HORRIFIED to discover that my corn-on-the-cob ingestion has been so enthusiastic that I actually sprayed starchy juice all over the area where a bib or nice medallion should have gone. Just call me Typewriter Teeth.

Oh, but that wasn’t the least lovely part of all. Later that evening, droplets of corn juice still glistening on my chest, tidbits of kernel likely lodged in my molars, I stepped up to a live microphone with two pals (one new, one old, both likely annoyed) to sing every word from Don McLean’s “American Pie” to a hapless crowd of strangers who are now probably in line at the audiologist, still openly weeping. Later, I launched into a toneless rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Think.” I should have taken her advice before publicly shaming myself in such fashion.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the evening’s details; let’s just say they involved Burger King, hydroplaning, a wrong turn or two, and yes, multiple colors of wine, I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear.

But my goal today is to share a cherished childhood memory with you, as captured by the magic of Kodachrome. May I introduce to you 3-D Night--1982?
Please don’t adjust your monitors; that spectral glow truly is the color of my forehead. My mom, brother, and I are about to watch The Creature from the Black Lagoon scissor-kick into our living room courtesy of these stylish, cutting-edge cardboard spectacles I brutally forced upon my family in a fit of second grade despotism. (The side-effects of vertigo and blindness were only temporary.) I especially like the wacky yellow rolling high-chair that I seem to be wearing as a hat.

This Friday I’ll be posting at The Debs. Could be a great kick-off to the last full weekend in August, but I’m not making any promises.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Girl Who Cried Title Change

Well, well, well. Now I come to you, somewhat sheepishly, to say that after further consideration, the folks at Random House have decided that the original title of Riding with Larry Resnick is the best fit for the story.

Here were some alternates I came up with, just in case:
  • Not Quite a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • A Million Little Reeses Pieces
  • A Mechanical Bull and an Inflatable Jesus Walk Into a Bar…
  • Ice Water for Women Who Feel Like Elephants
  • There May be a Reference to a Vagina (Somewhere Around Page 182)
  • Stuff your Piehole, Worship, Feel Affection for Many Things
  • The Threatening Book for Women in a Certain Demographic

In other news, I’m making progress on the next novel. I have one—maybe two—weeks left to crank out as many pages as possible before I return to work. (Doesn’t the phrase “cranking out pages” really exemplify the care one gives to the literary craft?) I’m at the 54,000 word mark, which is just over the halfway point. This is the place in the journey where little imaginary cheerleaders are lined up along the route, dispensing refreshing Dixie cups of water and clapping as sweaty writers plod past, their faces etched in desperation. I’m the one gasping and wheezing towards the back of the pack, waiting for my muse to break (second) wind.

I am also mere days away from being an aunt, and I have a front row seat in the delivery room. My sister has authorized us to speak to the medical community on her behalf should an issue arise and she’s too busy, oh, I don’t know, screaming in agony to reply. (By “medical community” I mean whoever earns a paycheck to catch the baby when he skedaddles into the world.)

At our house, we don’t have to worry about little people traipsing out of hoohas, or things like breast milk storage bags. (Speaking of, did you know that the breast milk of vegetarians has a slightly greenish tint? It’s true! This is certainly not knowledge gleaned personally, but you can rest assured that I'm not lying.)

The most urgent issue at our house is a surplus of monarch butterfly eggs in the milkweed patch, which led to the insect version of a scene from Schindler’s List in the yard the other day. I simply don’t have room for them all—painful decisions had to be made.

It also led to me asking my mom last Sunday, “Hey, do you want me to send some eggs home with you?” Which cracked me up, because over the years, my mother has asked me the very same question, only in reference to eggs laid by their chickens.

Mom declined the eggs, but I can’t blame her. They would have made a very teeny-tiny omelette.

Butterfly release count so far: 9
Chrysalides on deck: 6
Caterpillars still chew-chomping away: 9
Eggs yet to hatch: 4

Cute video of a monarch release from Sharon the Birdchick in Minnesota, who captures the grand finale much better than I could have. (Love her background music.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Seventy-six Tan-gents in the Big Parade

The big news on my end is that Random House is considering a possible title change for Riding with Larry Resnick. At first I was dismayed; I’d grown used to Larry, and the thought of bidding him farewell made my stomach shimmy and shake. But here’s the thing: I am a teeny, weeny fish—a shrimp really, maybe even more like a krill or phytoplankton—in a vast ocean of authors, just trying not to be swallowed up by the James Patterson whale sharks of the world. Not only that: three years ago, I was nurturing a nice collection of rejection letters. Change the name of my novel that’s actually going to be published? Go for it! Heck, I’m just happy to be here!

So there may be a title change, but my stomach is no longer doing the Jane Fonda over it. And what will the new title be? I have an inkling, but I hesitate to even hint about it until things are firmed up. I do believe I like it. As always, more to come…

And now, queue up the Parade of Tangents!

First, check out this baby shower cake. Is this not the most adorable thing ever? Look at those cute little Wallace & Gromit faces! And they’re completely edible!!!

Alas, our digital camera died one week after this shot was taken. Can anyone recommend a sensibly-priced, user-friendly digital camera with just enough features to take fantastic photos? I know, it’s kind of a tall order. Here’s one of the last photos I took before the camera clutched its chest and keeled over. This one might even be in my book, because we got permission to print black and white photos at the beginning of each chapter. (Yay!) And the coolest thing ever: I took most of the photos during my road trip last year.

Moving on. Now it’s time for the latest installment of Just How Territorial Is My Dog? Today during our daily walk Daisy spotted an old, discarded toothbrush on our neighbor’s lawn. She trotted over to it, sniffed it, and yep—you guessed it—peed right on the mashed bristles. I still don’t know quite what to make of this.

Edited to add: Today, Friday, is my first post over at The Debs. I am honored to join this fabulous group of writers and look forward to sharing the next year with them. My first post is about movies, which I’m a little obsessed about. Just a little. Stop by and say "hi!"