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I wouldn't be a writer if the glass was half full

Just as I was preparing to hit "publish" with immense satisfaction, I heard the sounds of Lily's shrill voice: "Eww, gross. Get away from me. Don't touch me."

Followed by, "Mommy. MOMMY. Ashlyn took off her poopy diaper, and there's poop all over the floor and the couch, and the dog is eating it."

This latest string of events ties in perfectly with today's themes of catastrophe, fatalism and stupid dumb luck.

I don't know how other writers get through the holidays -- especially writers with children -- but I've written nothing substantial since the last week in November, and I'm feeling rather bitter about the ongoing drought. Furthermore -- the powers that be having a little fun at my expense -- all the gossip shows are profiling new authors who share something quite depressing in common -- medicare.


What if the world does end on Dec. 21, 2012? I have less than a year to publish my book, and -- looking at the thing realistically…

My house is too messy -- I CAN'T WRITE

I'm nesting. I'm not pregnant or ever planning on becoming pregnant again. I'm nesting because our house is full of crap -- shiny bobbles, musical toys, farm equipment (?? ask my husband) -- which makes it difficult for a person with ADD to concentrate on breathing let alone writing.


I had a wonderful cozy room for writing and reading and hiding from my family, but somebody sent us a rather large play farm for Christmas. It's an awesome toy -- it has its own circuit board and all of the 9,999 pieces light up with the flip of a switch -- but it's taken over my dining-room table that seats 8 people. So I tore down my writing room today to make room for my children's toys.

The process started in Lily's room, where I filled two wardrobe boxes and two standard-size moving boxes with toys from just her closet. There's still shit everywhere. I realized about half-way through the process of clearing Lily's room that I didn't have any place prepared for …

Christmas is killing me -- slowly

I haven't written a word in eight days -- EIGHT DAYS of sitting on the floor sewing and sewing and sewing. My knees are sore. My back is sore. My hands are sore. My eyes are sore ... My body hurt less mountain climbing. But it's all for my children -- that's what I keep telling myself. I'm making heart-felt Christmas presents for my little girls, but the joy and the love are fading with every straight pin I step and/or sit on and every pop from every aging joint in my body (I haven't written "ARGGGG" in a long time). I have so much to write about and absolutely no brain or energy or motivation to spew the words.

I shall return. I promise. Unless I die.



My husband's a hoarder

It's official -- my husband is a hoarder.

He talks a lot of trash about my piggy habits, but he collects more garbage than a dumpster diver -- nuclear exit signs, rubber bats (the mammal kind), beer caps, melted candles, bread ties, expired coupons, patriotic Bics, broken pieces of shit, used stickers, every card he's received in his lifetime, decades old Halloween candy, lights for every holiday ... the list goes on and on.

I spent the entire day knocking out the 4-foot pile of junk that's accumulated over every surface of our  furniture and counters.

I filled most of a Rubber Maid with toys from McDonald's and birthday-party gift bags that Jerod -- not the children -- wants to keep around the house for sentimental reasons, I suppose.

I found vials of stink-bomb solution, shoelaces, crusty Play-Doh, a lifetime supply of bubbles, dried-out felt pens, half-sucked lollipops and some other stuff I couldn't identify.

The short of it: I'm falling asleep at the keyboa…

Harebrained plots

Imagine: The only child who pokes holes in her parents' condoms to get herself a sibling. The social outcast -- who seeking a day off from school -- tries to break her leg on the stairs. The underage smoker who tapes her school picture to her father's expired driver's license. The inexperienced driver who wrecks the family station wagon in the driveway and stages the scene to look like a bicycle accident.

My repertoire of failed plots and harebrained schemes leaves characters like Lucy Ricardo and Mary Clancy -- mother of the scathingly brilliant idea -- with something wanting.

Plotting is something of an addiction, really. And even now -- having been foiled in every dastardly deed -- I frequently entertain the most ridiculous scenarios perhaps to make life more interesting. But here's the thing -- the single most important tenant of plot-building -- less is more. Bold and beautiful schemes are a blast to ponder, but near impossible to execute.


The Forger

I had a dream …

Help -- I contracted poopy brain

Why am I a writer?

I could be a plumber or an architect or a serial killer or a psychiatrist or a banker or a goat farmer or a meth dealer or a lawyer or a cheerleader or a stripper or a tax collector. But I'm an emotionally disturbed writer with a butt-ton of issues.

I've been sitting in the same spot all day cussing out every word in the English language, because there isn't one that says what I want to say.

I don't know what I want to say, which is 100 times more irritating than not knowing how to say something.
I have a serious case of poopy brain. It's been stalking me since Thanksgiving, and now it's here stinking up my writing and my mood -- aarg!
This week has been a blur of children and company and new jobs and family and holiday preparations and alarm clocks and voices in my head telling me to jump -- "Jump now. It's quiet down here ... Jump. Jump."
So I'm calling it a night, despite the hours I put in writing -- which pisses me off,…

Dude, I suck

Today was a very long day, and I can safely say I'm not man enough to make it as Homemaker.

I love my children, but I also love the feeling that I've accomplished something -- anything -- worth while. To illustrate just how lousy a homemaker I am: Ashlyn is sitting here beside me drinking the last bits of pop from the four cans of Coke Zero I have stacked on my desk. I'm sitting in my unmade bed writing my blog while Harry Potter babysits my daughter who's now emptying my pop cans into a cup that she dug out from god knows where.
Jerod left for work at 5:30 a.m. and it all went down hill from there. Some of it's bad enough that I don't want to share. And you know -- if you've read any of my previous posts -- that I love sharing everything. 
Here goes: I forgot to give the girls their toothbrushes this morning so they didn't brush their teeth. I dumped out two bowls of cereal before I happened upon the only flavor that Lily will eat-- which according to…

Even a fish would stay out of trouble if it kept its mouth shut

I'm an unhappy riser -- anyone who's ever had to wake me up will attest to this. They might go a step farther and tell you I'm a belligerent, rabid b**ch in the A.M. I am -- especially when I wake up late.

Mornings have always been a challenge. And most people know better than to pick a fight with me while the gunk is fresh in my eyes. But for whatever reason my husband -- once again -- strays from the pack in this arena.

Too bad for me -- I've given him a buttload of ammunition since I started this blog. And there, of course, is the downside to admitting your foibles to the world. Someone will undoubtedly turn them around on you, and you -- like me in many a heated argument -- will be completely disarmed by your clever diction.

And so I was this morning.

I woke to my daughters screaming playfully, but alarmingly loud in the bathtub. The time on the clock was 8:10 a.m. giving Lily just 25 minutes to get dressed, fed and out the door to school. And seeing as you can…

Bring on the gin and olives, please

Oh, to have some time and peace and quiet. I wonder what it would feel like to not hear any voices all day -- to not be asked to wipe someone's butt, or blow someone's nose.

I'm on break, but it's not really a break. Anyone with children knows that the work away from home is the break. You don't get lunches at home -- you don't even get bathroom breaks. You can try to close the door, but someone will barge in on you: 
"I have an emergency. My sister yelled at me, and I told her not to." Or, "The cat is under the bed, and she won't come out." Or, "I can't find my Lalaloopsy doll." Or, "Daddy yelled at me for breathing."

The joys of being home with children. I can see why housewives take to drinking. I'd have gin and cocktail olives for breakfast every morning with orange juice and vodka, if I wasn't operating under the delusion that I'll block out something here and there to work on my 50,000-plus-word…

Critics are like ... everybody has one

I was offered this advice today:  "Try writing something cheerful and funny for a change -- you've been awfully depressing lately."To which I said, "WHAT?"Do you watch the news? Who wants to get on the computer after being thoroughly brought down by the events in the world and read this depressing sh*t?""WHAT?""Well, if you're incapable of having an adult conversation ... " So -- in honor of That Person I will share another humiliating tale from my childhood, and make no mention of poverty and other stuff that annoys me.
Stars and Stripes Forever


It turns out my daughter Lily is a real patriot. She's been strutting about singing the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America non-stop since Veteran's Day. Her little voice belting out "for the ramparts of the free gave proof to the night that our ramparts were streaming ..." reminds of me of a rather embarrassing solo I performed at a summer camp talent show in 1987.�…

Don't call me simple

WARNING: The following post is a rant. Do not take it personally. I love you dearly, my dearly beloveds. I love making gifts -- and I enjoyed making yours, in particular. May your homes be filled with warmth and apple cinnamon spice. Bless you.


It's only Dec. 1, but it feels like Christmas Eve. Parties, crafts, shopping and all of the normal day-to-day chaos -- running after two small children, nagging my husband, cursing my mother's email about the top seven "superfoods" guaranteed to keep you bright and sparkly until the FDA labels them carcinogenic and suggests we eat cardboard.

I'm a bit of a party poop this evening, because it's that time of year when I dig out my artist's cap and get busy making Christmas presents for my dearly beloveds, who I'd happily shop for if I had any money.

I hear folks complain about capitalism and useless merchandise and corporate monsters and blah, blah, blah. The alternative -- homemade Christmas -- is a pain in the …

I almost died, seriously

I think my brain had the stomach flu on Tuesday. I felt it retching in my skull -- the dry heaves, retch, retch, blah -- over and over again. I told Jerod I felt like I was burning from the inside out and he put his hand on my head and said, "You don't feel hot."

I've had migraines -- this was a different kind of torture. The pain started behind my eyeballs and shot down my spine into my arms and legs and returned to my head. I gutted it out for a couple of hours and finally screamed for Jerod to take me to the doctor, who would certainly give me something to stop the pain. 
There I went being optimistic again -- big mistake, huge.
I sat in the doctor's office with Jerod and Ashlyn for an hour and twenty minutes. The nurses took blood -- so I got poked with needles. They made me pee in a cup -- so I got to stumble around the bathroom shared by hundreds of patients with shaky hands -- yee haw, urine. 
They shone lights in my eyes, and knocked around on my head, &q…

Sometimes broke is better

Husbands and wives kill each other over money and other little things like sex and kids and the division of household labor. It got me thinking that perhaps Jerod and I have been looking at our financial struggles all wrong.

There's little to be gained should one of us dismember the other -- some peace and quiet maybe. Beyond that there's debt, homework, dirty diapers, tantrums and tattle tailing, none of which any sane person wants to deal with alone. As long as we're poor the chances that Jerod or I will meet a suspicious end are negligible.

The holidays put me on this train of thought, because Christmas time has set the stage for many a knock-down-drag out in our household.

Take our first Christmas as a marital unit. A wife might expect something special under the tree -- a sentimental, thoughtful gift -- to remind her for years to come of that first magic Christmas she spent with her husband. 
My husband returned from Wal-Mart that year with his brother late on Christma…

late-night confession

I'm 34 years old, and I'm scared of the dark -- of ghosts and monsters and demons and psycho, deranged serial killers.

I try to sleep with the tellie off, but this panicky "I'm going to die" mantra goes off  in my head, and I hear my heartbeat in my face, and I leap out of bed and scramble for the light switch in order to find the remote.

Then I dream about Snuggies with zippers, Proactiv acne treatment, Nuwave ovens and poker tournaments.

Fact: I stole my daughter's princess night light.

Fact: I strategize escape routes before I go to the bathroom at night, because who knows what'll happen while I'm sitting on the toilet?

Rationalization: I feel safer when Lily sleeps with me -- I'd sleep with Jerod, but he snores too loud, and that's scary too, but mostly the noise keeps me up, and that's worse than being scared.

I'm a bumbling idiot

I got a phone call today about the project I described a couple of posts back
-- just a follow up based on some information I requested from iUniverse. 
Their consultant wanted more information about my story, and I think my tongue actually swelled up in my mouth and almost choked me to death. 
It was bad enough blogging about it, but talking about it -- I've never.
"Well -- um -- it's sort of about a murder kind of. This pastor gets -- um -- murdered and the whole town freaks out, and -- um ..."
It was awful. Really awful. Really, really, really awful. And I kept telling her how sorry I was for sounding like a crazy person.
"I've never talked about this to anyone," I panted. "I mean not even my family or my friends, and it's just sort of hard to talk about it like this."
She tried consoling me, but that's what everyone does with crazy people, because crazy people are scary.
I spent most of the rest of this afternoon constructing a blurb tha…

Playing house

Most girls play house. They pick it up in preschool before they know much about babies or spousal dynamics -- woman = wife + mother, man = father + husband, and babies materialize from nothing.

The game evolves in kindergarten when children discover that novel thing called pregnancy. Then comes every father's worst nightmare -- the day their daughters incorporate gestation into their play stuffing pillows or balloons down their shirts to replicate pregnant bellies. It's usually based on their desire to be mothers like their mothers and grandmothers. 
That wasn't the case for me. Pregnancy and having children in my mind was synonymous with being an adult. I mimicked pregnant women because I foolishly believed that people would take me more seriously.
Exhibit A: Plums for sale!
My grandma asked me once to rake up the plums that had fallen from her tree in the yard and throw them in the trash.
I wanted to sell them.
I made a sign and packaged the plums in little white boxes --…

I'd rather cut my leg off with a butter knife

My friends and aunts and parents sometimes ask about this "book" I'm writing. I don't like calling it a book, because a book is something that is published, and I don't know that anyone with a printing press will ever be interested in my writing. 
I'd rather refer to my project as a 50,000-plus-word story. Not that I've written 50,000 words -- that (50,000) is the goal, because a 49,999-word story is one word short of a novel.
I cagily evade inquiries regarding the aforementioned project, refusing to share so little as a sentence with even my closest friends and family members. This thing is personal to me. It's part of me like my children are part of me. The idea of putting it out there turns my stomach inside out. 
I can write and share a million diatribes against myself with little angst -- I prize my self-deprecating humor highest of all my attributes. 
I'm not nearly so comfortable with my serious bits. 
Please keep that in mind -- that I…

No pictures, please

I'm afraid of cameras like some people are frightened of spiders or water or heights or small spaces. See if you can guess why.










Barbies, by Lily

In my former life as a newspaper reporter I loved interviewing children, because their quotes were always amusing if not hysterical and ridiculous. It was with that in mind that I asked Lily to help me write a story for this evening's post. And though I'm biased as her mother, I'm fairly confident her story will amuse and at times even frighten you.


Our tale of woe begins in a play attic atop a a fine pink- and white-painted Victorian cottage, home to the Busher family -- Jon, Clare, Liliana, Cecelia, Olivia, Sophia and Ariana.

The girls were playing Barbies with Mother Clare, who was deep in Pride and Prejudice sprawled over a lavender pouf embroidered with white and yellow daisies.

The music of the girl's play voices amused Clare as she pictured Miss Bennett and Mr. Darcy sparring in the English countryside. The room was warm and smelled of cinnamon and apples.

Their blissful afternoon was interrupted by an explosion of breaking glass and leaden footsteps ascending t…

Number 2

Jerod's looking for the magical crack dealer our kids have hiding in the couch cushions -- a pipe pedaling leprechaun with stains on his teeth and rancid fingernails.

The youngsters are restless tonight.

Lily faked throwing up to avoid doing homework, and -- forgetting how close to death she was -- did a gymnastics routine on the kitchen counter. Ashlyn punched her in the stomach and laughed as I chased her all over the house demanding she go in time out -- "Go sit on the stairs. NOW."

Jerod's voice is booming through the walls and floorboards, "Stop ... get down from there ... what the heck ... stupid dogs ... you're supposed to be sick ... Ashlyn Dever ... No ... that's it ... Ashlyn, go sit on the stairs."

It's the kind of night when mothers and fathers look at one another with sad, defeated eyes and ask, "Why did we do this to ourselves?"

The blanket that covers the hole in back of the couch is blessed with Ashlyn's art work as…

Take the hint, dude

There's never enough time to do what you want -- in my case write. I keep hold of this silly delusion that one day I'll have enough time to take care of my kids, convince my husband that I've done my share, and write something worth writing that never once -- in the process of typing and retyping and doing and undoing -- made me punch a wall or swear at myself in the mirror.

I'm one day into a month 3-month leave, and I'm already in trouble for leaving the breakfast dishes in the sink, leaving pop cans on the counter, letting Lily abandon her shoes and socks on the kitchen floor, and not making dinner. I think I was supposed to empty the cat box too -- I didn't, obviously.

I went to the bank, though, and the store. I fed the cats and took care of the dogs. I kept up with Ashlyn all day and started sorting through the stacks of junk on the kitchen counter that serves as an inbox for mail, school work and random junk.

And here it is 7:30 p.m., and I'm writin…

"They don't get out much"

Saturday marked a new low for Jerod and me -- enrollment in the doesn't-get-out-much club for broke married people with children.

We were guests at a wedding. A beautiful wedding on a boat in Seattle with free food and -- insert the Imperial Margarine music here -- an open bar. This was a big letter day for the Bacharach-Trenchard duo, because we never go out anymore -- two kids, no money, no energy -- blah, blah, blah.

Case and point: Our last date was more than a year ago -- dinner out. I was on the rag.

Our social life features delivery pizza, on-demand movies and comfy dinners with friends and family. We have no complaints, but it's nice to go out now and then.

I'd marked the wedding on our calendar in red marker with hearts and stars and smiley faces.

It could have been our wedding for all the fuss we made. But -- as I said -- we hadn't done a proper date in ages. It was nice having something special to look forward to. We dug our fancy clothes out of moth balls …

"You're a mess"

I'm a lot like Pigpen -- the Peanuts kid beleaguered by filth. I'm messy. I cook messy, do my hair and makeup messy, get dressed messy, fix my coffee messy
-- I clean messy.

My husband hates it, and I hate that he follows me all over the house to catch me in the act of making messes -- and the moment I turn my back on something that's not where it belongs he jumps out like a jack-in-the-box and scolds me. It drives me insane -- explode-out-of-my-skin homicidally insane.

It occurred to me last night while I was angrily rolling out a pie crust -- swearing because the dough was too warm -- that Jerod -- my husband -- is my Grandma Kay's revenge.

She popped into my head first because she'd disapprove of my swearing. Then in mid chuckle -- my mind's eye picturing my grandmother clap her hands and chirp something disciplinary like "don't be so ugly" or "I'm very disappointed" -- I felt something soft and slippery glop between my toes.

A …

Toni said it's OK

I made a pie tonight with my girls and started to write many things that sucked rotten eggs. That's all the hag with a horrible headache can muster tonight. Until we meet again --
"When I sit down in order to write, sometimes it’s there; sometimes it’s not. But that doesn’t bother me anymore. I tell my students there is such a thing as “writer’s block,” and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.TONI MORRISON

The printed word: Is it dead?

I'm fed up with this debate -- technology versus ink and paper, or anywhere-with-an-Internet-connection versus obsolete newsroom. It feels like someone is poking around my insides with a sharp stick -- I'm fumbling in the dark for an anchor, because my tidal surge of rage and anguish is receding with every feeling I've ever had, and I hate it.

Every now then when I talk about my past life in the newspaper business, a well-meaning soul will flash me an "awe shucks" expression and explain -- as if I didn't already know -- that "newspapers are dead," or "we live in a paperless society."

If you want to be a paid journalist nowadays you need better than solid reporting skills -- you need to be a blogger and a tweeter and video capture-er and a coder and a ...

I tried reading an article last night about hacker journalism, and I got lost in the first two sentences.

I can't argue with the business bloggers and the suit-wearing executives who i…

Count your blessings

I've been following this story about a 2-year-old boy who went missing in Bellevue on Sunday after his mother reportedly left him alone sleeping in an unlocked car. She told police she had run out of gas and walked with her 4-year-old daughter to a Chevron station. She claims that her son was missing when she returned to the car an hour later .

And here's the kicker: She was arrested two years ago for leaving the same child -- a newborn then -- unattended in a car while she and her then-husband went shopping at Target. Who knows where the boy is -- whether or not his mother has anything to do with his disappearance.

Hearing these stories sets off  my crazy-mommy instinct to grab my kids and hug them til their eyes nearly pop from their sockets. We're all guilty at some point of taking our children for granted. It's especially hard when I come home from work and Jerod says, "I'm sick. Here's the kids. I'm going to bed."

Ashlyn is climbing the book…

What if ...

I think I've mentioned once or twice that writing sometimes feels like death -- or what I imagine feels like death, because I've never come close to dying as far as I know. It might feel more like childbirth without drugs -- which I DO NOT recommend and can say with authority feels much worse than running out of words to put on paper. So it's not as bad as death, but it's quite maddening when you want to say something and have nothing to say. I'm always curious how other writers manage their demons. Many refuse to speak on the subject, while others write long winded how-to manuals or -- worse -- advise would-be authors and journalists to do something else -- so screw them. 
My demons are topics. The words come out fine when their focused on something I care about, but sometimes I really don't give a crap -- then writing is hell, like I'm standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open -- I'm starving and there's a million things to eat but…