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Showing posts from October, 2011

Ha-we Potta, Mommy

Last night -- when I started this post fully intending to publish it by my self-imposed deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday through Friday (Saturdays and Sundays are optional) -- I was watching How to Train Your Dragon with Ashlyn. This was worth celebrating as it marked our apparent graduation from the Deathly Hallows and Michael Myers to something light and cheerful.

We've watched the first installment of the final Harry Potter story some 20 times since it's Oct.8 premier on HBO. It's the only thing to do in my bedroom as far as Ashlyn's concerned. Every Saturday and Sunday morning -- every weekday afternoon upon my arrival home from work -- Ashlyn leads me up the stairs chanting "Ha-we Potta, Mommy. Ha-we Potta." 
If I'm in my room writing I can set my clock by the protests that go on in the hallway outside. The muffled giggle and thunk-thunk of a small fist hitting my door are followed by a few moments of quiet, in which I can hear her breaths getting quic…

F block

There's a song I like to sing when I'm having a bad day. It mentions chain saws and ripping people's heads off and fat lips and blood stains. And that's how I'm feeling right now for no particular reason other than I'm tired and my house is a mess and my kids are noisy and my husband farts too much and I haven't gotten any substantial writing done in weeks. Boo hoo -- right?

I have this block of wood that I salvaged from the scrap pile when Jerod -- my bless-ed husband -- framed in our basement in Pullman. It's about the size of a brick, and I picked it up one night after Jerod and I had a knock-down-drag-out over something really important like a wad of my hair in the bathtub or his tapered Levis that made him look like a 50-year-old Bible salesman. I wanted a bat, but all I could find was a block of wood.

I kicked it across the garage a couple of times. I beat it with a hammer, and I kicked it some more. I needed a comeback to whatever zinger sent m…

My favorite geeks

Imagine a little girl in pink granny glasses. Her haircut gives her a boyish look and she’s dressed in a purple checked sweater with red high waters and electric-blue duck shoes. A couple of kids on the playground tell her how cool she looks, and -- not comprehending their sarcasm -- she smiles brightly and thanks them.
That was me -- the dork in ginormous glasses. I answered to many names in elementary school -- loser, duck feet, four eyes and a few others I'd rather forget -- smart, pretty and fashionable I was not. It felt like the end of the world back then. All the popular girls braided each other's hair during story time at the library while I picked my nose and talked to myself. 
I'm not ashamed to admit it. I was a dork -- as big a dork as it's possible to be -- and it gave me character. I think Lester Bangs said it best : "Good-looking people don't have any spine. Their art never lasts."
No one called 4-year-old Paris Hilton -- or Lindsay Lohan or B…

Nothing happened today

I'm the lady who locks her keys in the car while the engine is running on a rural road where driveways are marked by signs that read "Trespassers will be shot on sight." I'm the lady who backs her car into a ditch looking for a haunted cemetery with her best friend on Thanksgiving, and then on Christmas gets pulled over with the same friend -- who threw a cigarette out of the window -- going 15 miles-an-hour over the speed limit with a busted tail light. And -- if you think all I need is a bus pass -- I'm also the lady who waxes her legs on a work night and can't get the wax off and pokes a hole in her down comforter while she's sleeping.
That's me -- a ticking time bomb -- a disaster waiting to happen, always. And though I complain quite frequently that my luck is the lousiest luck in the world, I thrive on the drama. A conversation that starts with "my husband lost his job the day after our daughter was born" is much more entertaining than…

The voices

I hear voices. Sometimes they talk all at once, and I can’t distinguish one from the other or what they’re telling me. They talk to me at work and in the car -- always at a time and place that is wholly inconvenient. I pull my hair and tell them to shut up. And then, when I’m open to them -- when I’m ready with a pen and paper to jot down every word -- they shun me except to rant on my mediocrity.

During my dark years of unemployment, for instance, the voices -- and I’m only guessing here to excuse their vicious diatribes against me -- were apparently sick on vacation or robbed at gunpoint or detained at Customs. I tried to write in their absence, but my words were dull and clumsy. I consulted my good friends Merriam Webster and Will Shortz. I read a lot of books and highlighted words and phrases that inspired me. But I couldn’t write a word without my voices. I decided to give it a rest -- if I focused on something else the words would come eventually.

I blamed it on television. I…

I've always been a bit peculiar

I return from the brink of death with this sweet recollection from childhood:
I navigated a very peculiar phase in my fourth year of life on this a planet – a sort of Dr. Frankenstein period in which I attempted through various methods to engineer a playmate. It began on Christmas with the excruciating disappointment that all children feel upon receipt of their last package – that inevitable “where’s the other stuff I asked for?” moment. Santa Claus forgot to stuff a sibling in my stocking. And there hatched the first of many schemes to expand my social network.

I wished to become a mother hen – which to a 4-year-old who doesn’t grasp the basic principles of procreation means sitting on eggs from the ice box.
The plan was very simple.
Step 1: Build a nest in my bedroom.
Step 2: transfer one carton of eggs to aforementioned nest and sit.
All but two of my unborn friends were smashed – tragically – in their nest of fancy throw pillows and freshly laundered blankets from my parents’ bed.…

On the bus

"Now you may ask, what if my characters won't talk to me? What if they won't even visit? The only answer is to think and think some more, and then go out and read and look and listen some more. Do not sit and mope. Do not sigh. Do not throw up your hands and give up on the whole project. Do not go back to the drawing board. There is nothing more depressing than an empty drawing board. No, go back to the world, which is where all characters originally come from." ALLEGRA GOODMAN
I crossed paths with a pair of Natural Born Killers tonight. Their voices grabbed my attention as I strode through the sunlit plaza connecting my office building with the transit center.

The man -- we'll call him Mickey -- dressed in blue Adidas track pants, a wife beater and a flat-bill DC baseball cap -- was scratching violently at his face and arms.  His girlfriend, Mallory -- in a matching wife beater -- screamed at Mickey from across the bus bay, "Stop f***ing picking at yourself…

My enemies

There's a 2-year-old named Ashlyn, a kitten named Maggie and a 6-year-old named Lily running laps around my room. Maggie is squeaking and the kids are screaming "mommy," and "kitty," and "mommy," and "don't do that ASHLYN," and "MOMMY."

This is a typical Saturday morning minus the kitten who joined our household last night. I try to wake up at 4 a.m., but I never quite manage to climb out of bed before 6. Then there is the ritual of cursing at the empty coffee pot. I tell my husband on Fridays to set it up before he goes to bed,  but he invariably forgets the delay brew. And then I must play the waiting game with my coffee cup in hand and no caffeine to get me rolling.


So, I sit down to write at 7 a.m. By this time the kids are awake, and they want attention. Jerod -- my husband -- is cleaning out the cat box and fixing something for the kids to eat, but that doesn't stop me from yelling at him, "I'm trying to wri…

A stupid endeavor

Writing about writing -- or trying to write and failing -- is stupid. I have the time to write this, I should be writing something else.

But This is my experiment. I'm a perfectionist, and it often happens that I sit down in front of my computer with a million ideas bouncing off the walls of my brain. They're screaming they're so excited to get the F out. I manage to pound out a few sentences before this lunatic inside of me seizes on a misplaced comma or an awkward word and takes over.

An entire day will pass -- my ideas die in utero, my head hurts ... A single, perfect sentence stares back at me from the monitor, and then it's time for bed.


This is my diary of drivel -- my place to rant about family and politics and whatever else is gumming up the works inside my brain. In other words, don't bother me I'm writing, will serve as a laxative for my literary constipation.