Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fa La Love it, Fa La Lame

As Christmas day fast approaches, I find myself listening to Christmas music ferociously, trying to pack it all in before my eleventh month fast and cursing myself for not taking advantage of the previous four weeks to listen to it more often. Of course, one does run the risk of acquiring Christmas music burnout, but that's better than regret. So here are my much anticipated (?) top five fave Christmas songs and top five Christmas songs that I wish I had never heard:

Top Five Fave Christmas Songs:

5. Walking in the Air—Peter Auty. This is from Raymond Briggs' The Snowman movie. It is the most moving piece of music and even my kids love it even though it's not about talking snowmen or reindeer that fly . . . though, it is about snowmen that fly.

4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Just sweet and simple and poignant. Makes me want to cry without knowing why.

3. Twelve
Days of Christmas. I used to love singing this with my family as a child, especially when I got to sing the "fi-ve gol-den riiiiiiiiiiiiiiings!!!" part, though I'm sure that no one else enjoyed it when I belted that out. Saying that I'm tone deaf is putting it nicely.

2. Happy
Birthday Jesus—Alabama. Really anything on Alabama Christmas, volume one or two, but I picked this one because I love that Alabama isn't afraid to say Jesus in their songs about Christmas like it seems a lot of people are these days like there's something offensive about perfect love. I grew up listening to Alabama Christmas and I hope these songs mean as much to my kids one day as they mean to me.

1. Oh Holy Night. This is the epitome of Christmas music. It gives me chills every time.


Five Christmas Songs That I Wish Would Go Away:

5. Little Saint Nick—Beach Boys. Good grief, Little Saint Nick. Seriously? Seriously?

4. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. This song disturbed me to no end when I was a child. What is Mommy doing kissing Santa Claus? Mommy is only supposed to kiss Daddy? What kind of Mommy is this that goes around kissing big men in red suits? I get it now, but I still feel kind of weird when I hear this.

3. Twelve Things at Christmas that are such a Pain to Me. Yeah, there are things at Christmas that are annoying, but those are also things that make Christmas so great. Why complain about them? Just deal with it. Unless we're talking about the five Christmas songs that you wish would go away, then . . . complain away!

2. Anything by Mariah Cary, Clay Aiken, or anyone else who irritates me. If you irritate me January through November, then you irritate me double that at Christmas. God help me if Nickelback ever puts out a Christmas CD, I just might have to boycott Christmas music for good.

1. The Christmas Shoes—New Song. So insanely overly-sentimental that it borders on maudlin. I just googled this song to see who sings it and I accidentally opened up a page that played it. I'm still twitching from it. Many of you may think that I'm being mean by saying that this is the worst Christmas song of all time, since it is about a little boy who wants to buy some shoes for his mother who is dying AS WE SPEAK!!! But . . . come on people! Anything that tries that hard to make me cry is just going to make me scoff it instead. For one thing, I don't believe it. I don't believe that this poor boy in rags goes out on Christmas Eve by himself to buy some shoes for his dying mother. I just don't believe it. I don't believe that the cashier would hear his sad tale and then tell him that he didn't have enough money to buy the shoes, unless they where Jimmy Choos or something. I don't believe that the man in line behind him would wait for the boy to ask for the money before he gave it to him. I just do not believe it. Also, it bugs me that the narrator is so proud of himself for giving the boy money, "Well, I laid the money down, I just had to help him out." Good grief, I hope so! I think Ebby Scrooge himself would have given the boy the money.

So there they are—the good, the bad, and the ugly (the ugly is me singing them). I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Nostalgia, My Old Friend

Holy cow I love snow!

I never really knew this about myself. I always thought that I was a warm weather, sandy beaches, salt water, coconut suntan lotion kind of girl, but apparently I've been a closet snow nut all along. Ask me if I think that there is nothing more beautiful than snow falling lightly to the ground and then creating a blanket of pristine brilliance on my front yard and I will say, "Oui, oui." [To all of you doubters out there who said that I should have taken Spanish instead of French in high school because I would never use French—well, I just did use my French, so there. Oh, and there was also that time in Charleston when I befriended a drunken French sailor and conversed with him for several hours and every time I said something to him in French he responded, "No speak English." True story.]

This surprising love of snow probably has something to do with my childhood and the years I spent growing up in Alaska.

It's kind of like how I was really excited when New Kids on the Block were on television a couple of weeks ago with that other group . . . what's their names . . . Boystreet Back or something. I watched the performance on YouTube way more times than I am comfortable disclosing to all of you. Not that I'm ashamed to admit that I'm a dork, but I don't want anyone to realize just how deep the dorkiness actually runs.

After seeing their triumphant (?) return on national television, I was overcome with a desire to go to another one of their concerts. Yes, another one, because I went to one back in 1990 when I was twelve. At least, it said on the ticket that New Kids on the Block were the ones singing and dancing up on the stage, but it could have been some new kids that lived on my block for all I knew, I was so far away.

And no, not one of them saw me sitting way in the back of the stadium on like the 100th row and decided that they were in love with me and wanted to marry me that very day. Not even Danny. I know, I was shocked too!

Well, Husband was appalled that his (mature?) wife would entertain notions of driving several hours away to see New Kids on the Block. I must say that I was surprised at his appall. He requested an explanation for this strange desire of mine and I had none to give.

You can't really explain something like nostalgia.

Like the jeweler in Breakfast at Tiffany's who expresses satisfaction that they still put prizes in boxes of Cracker Jacks because it gives one a sense of continuity. Why should he care what they put in Cracker Jack boxes? Really, he doesn't care. He just cares that something that existed when he was a child, still exists.

Since I have lived in the southeast for my entire adult life, I quite forgot about snow and the effect it has. It's nice to know that it's still there and it still smells the same and it still sticks together to make the ideal weapon in a snow ball fight and it still rolls up nicely to make a snowman (though that is quite a bit more difficult now that I am not as close to the ground as I was the last time I saw snow). In the same way, it's comforting to me that New Kids on the Block are still performing the same songs they did when I was a child and they're still all bubble gum and lame. Is that really so hard to believe?

So, the weird thirty-two-year-old lady who is outside catching snowflakes on her tongue and frolicking in the white winter wonderland, making snow angels and throwing snowballs at her kids is not crazy, as it may seem at first glance. She's just reliving some fond childhood memories . . . and probably singing "You got it . . . the right stuff," in her head the whole time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

How I Write

All these bestselling authors out there are selling even more books about how they went about writing those other books. To me this is a little like an artist painting a picture of himself painting a picture. But . . . if it's good enough for bestselling authors, than it's good enough for an unpublished author of three completed novels and about a dozen novels with the first chapter written. Yeah, me.

There are two ways that I write.

Way number one—Husband/Children will be at work/at school/away for the weekend/sleeping/playing at the neighbor's house/all of the above and I will think to myself: I should take advantage of such a divine opportunity and write something. Yes! I will write undisturbed!

I turn on my computer.

Wow, this computer is filthy, I need to get some of those computer wipey things. What the heck have I spilled on here? I think it's milk. I shouldn't eat cereal in front of the computer anymore. Ooh, cereal, I'm hungry. I'm going to have a bowl of cereal.

I eat cereal.

Hum, there was something I was going to do . . . yes! . . . I was going to write computer wipey thingy on my shopping list.

I write computer wipey thingy on my shopping list.

Okay, I should write some since I have free time. Let me open up Microsoft Word. Okay, that's taking FOREVER to open. I'll get on-line real quick. Ooh, look, Keane has a new album out, I should download that.

I download Keane album and listen to it while I do my toes or something.

Ehh, I don't really like this one. I think I'll listen to it again. I still don't like it. Okay, I'll listen to it one more time and then I'm going to write.

I listen to album one more time.

Okay, I kind of like it. Now I'll write. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time." . . . wait, that sounds familiar. Hmm, let's see . . . what should I write about? Maybe something about a boy who's really a wizard only he doesn't know it and he goes to this secret wizarding school and it can be call Warthogs or something!!! Wait . . . I think that's been done already. Hmm, I'll check Facebook while I'm thinking about what to write.

I check Facebook.

Wow, that girl who sat next to me in study hall in the tenth grade had a ham sandwich for lunch. That's really . . . not interesting.

You get the gist.

Way number two—I will be in the middle of cooking supper/folding laundry/helping kids with homework/cleaning the house/all of the above when a few sentences of inspiration will hit me. I run to my computer to turn it on, only to find that the battery is dead. I delve into the laptop bag, unable to find power cord. I race around the house and finally find laptop power cord hanging from ceiling fan with a GI Joe guy attached and only find out later that power cord was the essential element in an elaborate device meant to defeat Cobra.

I plunge the power cord in the wall, repeating the inspiration sentences over and over in my head. I turn the computer on and hop from one foot to other like my kids do when they have to use the bathroom REALLY bad.

The chicken needs to come out of the oven, so I quickly take it out while repeating my inspiration sentences that are being infiltrated by words like, "Mom, watch this," and "he hit me," and "how do you spell Powhatan?" I yell quickly at children that if they just don't speak for five minutes, I will buy them each a pony.

My computer asks me if I want to update my whatevs and I yell at it too. Finally, I get on Microsoft Word and type furiously at a twenty page per minute speed with three children screaming in my ear and me shushing them the whole time. I decide that my main character has no children.

Husband comes home from work and mutters something about how I am always writing. I decide that main character's husband is a deeply understanding man who loves the superfluous doings of his dear wife.

Children try to see how many times they can say, "Mommy, watch this," before I throw something at them. (Not that I ever have, so you don't need to call child protective services just yet.) I decide that my main character lives on a dessert island all by herself, with no hope of rescue. I think I'll title it: A Hundred Years of Solitude . . . Sounds Like a Good Start.

But . . . when main character is without all a sundry distractions, then main character can't do what she most wants to do. It is only with a few essential, sometimes irritating, elements that main character can achieve what she most desires.

Who said that art imitates life anyway?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snuggie as a Buggie in a Ruggie

Some of the most embarrassing words that I have ever uttered: "Excuse me, but do you carry Snuggie patterns?"

A few years ago when the Snuggie came out, I had great fun mocking the strange little thing. A blanket with arms indeed! Oh, and I will just be dying to wear this contraption to sporting events? Yes, I would love to walk around looking like a Jedi knight while cheering on my team. Thank you for the marvelous invention!

However, much to my surprise, the pesky little things caught on and this year First Son requested one for Christmas. Well, I sloughed off the idea until it occurred to me that this could be one of those "opportunities" to use my sewing machine (Hollie bites nails in excitement)!

So, fleece was on sale, McCall patterns were on sale, and all other sorts of stars lined up for me to create a Snuggie for First Son in camo because he is dead set on being an Army fighter pilot when he grows up and . . . it just so happens that he would quite love to walk around looking like a Jedi knight while cheering on his team. Hmm.

Well, I finished with my project (btw, McCall's claims that it takes one hour, but it took me four sessions of two hours each and we all remember our times tables, four times two equals, not one, but EIGHT!) and then something ghastly occurred to me—I want a Snuggie too!

It really is the perfect thing for our house, which is a two-story construction with only one thermostat on the first floor. If anyone has ever lived in such a construction then they know exactly what I'm getting at. It's quite true what they say about hot air and its desire to rise to higher ground.

While downstairs on a cold day, one will have teeth chattering and find oneself drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate, hot tea, and coffee, all jacketed and covered in blankets. However, as soon as one ascends the staircase, removal of all but the most essential clothing is imminent.

Yet another reason why this would be the perfect frat house: [Frat boy to girl at party: Oh, indeed this downstairs bathroom appears to be occupied, why don't you accompany me upstairs to use that one (wink wink to frat brothers). Yes it is rather warm up here. You could remove that bulky sweater and place it in my room, just down this hallway.]

I shouldn't be left alone with my thoughts for too long.

So, in conclusion, the Snuggie has gone from totally fool to totally cool all because of a few chilly Virginia days and a really poorly designed house. What other surprises lie in store for me?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let’s Talk Turkey

Ah . . . Thanksgiving . . . a chance to be with family and friends . . . a chance to remember the unlikely cooperation between two very different peoples upon which this country was founded . . . a chance to eat as much as you want without being stared at strangely . . . a chance to wear those old maternity pants once more so that you can eat as much as you want without being stared at strangely.

Love Thanksgiving.

But . . . T-day has brought something disturbing to my attention. It seems that certain members of my family may be under the impression that I am an actual bona fide grown-up. Just to be clear, I am not a grown-up, I just play one in real life.

I . . . my dear friends . . . I . . . was in charge of purchasing the turkey this year. Yes, I know you're impressed.

This came about because in my interest of convincing Husband that it is in the family's best interest that I not get up at six o'clock in the morning to go to an actual job, I have begun clipping coupons and perusing the sales flyers for local grocery stores . . . yes, I have. I know, you're impressed again.

Anywho, in my recent perusing I found turkeys on sale for 39 cents a pound. I didn't know if I should be impressed by this or not, so I texted Mom about it because she has discovered a fascination with the text in that it allows one to communicate without having to actually speak.

Mom says (Beep. Beep.): yes, good, go get one.

Now, I know better than to know that she knows that 39 cents a pound is a good price. In fact, Mom knows that I know that she doesn't know what is or is not a good price on a turkey. And I know that she knows that I know . . . but, we have to pretend like we know what we're doing or else we'll all starve on Thanksgiving.

Now. If it were my mother-in-law that we were speaking of, I would have no doubt in her ability to know what a turkey should cost the week before Thanksgiving. This is a woman who once, no lie, told me where I could get Jelly Belly's ten boxes for ten dollars the day before Easter when I expressed my dissatisfaction with store brand jelly beans. How the heck does anyone know what Jelly Belly's cost????

I'm not a great shopper.

I don't really like it. I don't care that I can get it ten cents cheaper at the store down the road. I will pay you ten cents to let me have it now. I want to be awed when people tell me what they have found on sale, but I find myself either bored with the information or jealous that I didn't find it myself. But . . . I know that to find it myself would mean that I would actually have to go out and go shopping more often . . . and . . . I would rather just pay the higher price.

So don't be surprised on Friday if I'm all nice and snuggled down in my bed in my flannel pajamas that let out in the waist to make room for that second helping of pecan pie that I had which we all know is like 150,000 calories a slice or something while you are circling a parking lot looking for a spot so that you can elbow your way through crowds to get five dollars off an X-Box.

Good luck with that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Knitty Gritty

I have discovered the greatest invention known to man. Indoor plumbing? Vaccinations? Those really cute grey suede shoes I bought the other day? No, no, and no. Size 50 knitting needles. OMG!

I've seen these knitting needles before and always scoffed at them. They're as big around as a baby's arm and something about them just looks . . . well, kind of vulgar. I was loathe to try them.

But . . . I wanted to knit some blankets for my sofas to replace the giraffe print ones that we've had for, like, ten years (that I still dearly love, by the way). I've been saying every winter that I was going to do this, and still, I never quite get around to it. The whole task seemed so incredibly daunting. It takes me a couple of weeks to knit a scarf. Two entire blankets would take eons!

But, the giraffe print was starting to get on my nerves and I found this pattern that claimed it only took six hours to complete. The reviews were excellent with everyone exclaiming how quickly it worked up and how easy it was. I was hooked (pun intended) even though one had to use the vulgar needles to create it.

So I bought my needles, feeling very silly as I checked out and started on my six-hour-throw. I was shocked that in just two sittings, I was half-way finished! And it was so easy!

I really do love to knit. It's fun and relaxing and I like to say, "Yes huh, I did too make that." But it is sooooooo time consuming. Usually, when I go to knit something, I'll start off all excited, thinking about the baby for whom I'm knitting and how the little blanket with cover him/her up at night and I'll get all wistful. Then after a couple of weeks, I'll lose steam and start thinking to myself that a scarf is really a better present for a baby because everyone will be giving blankets, no one will give the poor thing a scarf. Then a couple of weeks will go by and I'll start using the knitting project as a coaster and I'll have spilled a couple of cups of coffee on it and then I'll just say, "Forget it! I'll get them a gift card for Target!"

But with my new needles, a whole other world has been opened up to me. I'm proud to say that I am morphing quite nicely into a crazy old lady with a roomful of yarn. Now I just need a couple dozen cats to make it complete.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marrow of Life . . . Tastes Like Chicken

Papa Thoreau said it best: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life . . . to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

For me, sucking the marrow out of life must mean staring cross-eyed into a fire for as long as other obligations permit me. I must admit, I don't do much when I go into the woods. And by woods, I mean a campground at Virginia Beach where I could hear traffic and helicopters go by non-stop for two days. Probably not what Thoreau had in mind, but the closest that I could get this past holiday weekend.

I did learn some very important lessons on this camping trip though. If one is cold at night in a tent, all that one needs to do is have a baby, let it age 3-5 years, place said child in sleeping bag with self, and one has a nice mobile heater that is safe and cuddly, though maybe not so clean.

I also discovered the career that I will be perfect for when it comes time for me to re-enter the work force. Yes folks, I will be joining the fire department. I can envision it. The alarm rings for a house fire and everyone jumps into their gear and slides down a pole. I pull on my blue jeans and crocs and follow after. We get to the house that is ablaze, the heat is searing, my eyes are watering, there is danger of the house next door catching fire as well. The fire marshal walks up to me with a long stick. "Go stoke the fire, Hollie," he says. I approach the blaze with my stick and prod a few times and it is extinguished immediately.

If my home owner's insurance knew how hopeless I was with fire, they would have to give me a discount.

But seriously, what is it about the woods? I mean I'm tired, stinky, dirty, cold, the place where I'm sleeping is crawling with granddaddy longlegs, and I'm happier than I could ever be in a heated house with indoor plumbing.

Am I the crazy one, or is it everyone else?

Can't be me.

Right?

Right?

Right.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yeah I’ve Got Your Squat Right Here

Fit people must just be naturally happier than the rest of us. I don't get how these aerobics instructor women can be so cheery first thing in the morning. Maybe it's because by the time I get to the gym I've already done my get-your-butt-up-and-get-moving-because-if-I-have-to-take-you-to-school-because-you-missed-the-bus-I-am-not-going-to-be-happy-do-you-hear-me-not-happy exercise routine for an hour before I even get to the gym in the morning. Whatever the reason, they annoy me.

Here's a typical Wednesday for me:

8:15 a.m. at home

Me (to daughter): Come on girl, let's go, hurry, hurry, hurry, I've got my cardio core class in a few minutes and I don't want to be late. I love cardio core. Love, love, love it!!! I can't wait!

8:30 a.m. aerobics room at YMCA

Little Miss Ball of Energy: Whooooo Hoooooo! Good morning everyone!!!! Let's start running in place! Whoo Hoo! Cardio core, let's go! Let's get those heart rates up!

Me (internal): Crap, I forgot! I hate Cardio Core! Why did I come to this class?

L.M.B.O.E: Whoo Hoo! I didn't even have coffee this morning!

Me: What? No coffee? Blaspheme! No one should speak of such things in my presence.

L.M.B.O.E: Whoo Hoo! Who's heart rate is up?! Cardio core! Whoo Hoo!

Me: Do you think anyone will notice if I leave?

L.M.B.O.E: Whoo Hoo! Everyone stand on your Bosu and jump up and down a bunch! Keep jumping! Keep jumping! Let's do 100 squats! Yeah, keep going!

Me: Bite me.

L. M. B. O. E: More squats, more running, don't you feel so great?!?!?!?!?!

Me: Oh and don't think that you have that perfect body because you live at the gym either. You just got good genes. You're just lucky!!!! DO YOU HEAR ME? JUST LUCKY!

L. M. B. O. E: Okay, time to stretch, everyone relax.

Me: I LOVE cardio core!!!!!! I can't wait until next week!!!!!!

There are times when I find it difficult to be me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Green. It’s the New Black

The lady on the news who seems to know so much was giving out tips on how to stay healthy this cold and flu season. Well, naturally my ears perked up because I am quite the sickly girl. In fact, I get sick so often that instead of getting sympathetic noises and offers of soup and OTCs when my head suddenly fills with mucus, I get a rolling of eyes and an are-you-serious leer.

So, smart lady on TV says to eat lots of yogurt. I smile. I already eat lots of yogurt, no problem there. Smart lady also says to drink green tea. Ooh, green tea, it sounds so healthy, like something that they would drink somewhere really exotic like California.

I go to the store for my green tea to ward off the winter ills and see that it is loaded with antioxidants. My initial response was, Yes! Antioxidants! That's fab! I have some oxidants that I've been wanting to fight!

But then, immediately, my skepticism reared its head. Hmm, you know this is one of those words that smart people on TV throw out there and tell us that we need, but they don't tell us why. What exactly is an antioxidant? Maybe I like my oxidants. Maybe I need my oxidants.

So I get my oxidant fighting, cold-battling green tea and bring it home, promising myself that I would drink a cup every night. So the first night, I'm all reved up and start the pot of water for my tea and Husband asks if I'll make him a cup of regular tea while I'm at it. Well, the water takes . . . like . . . forever to boil and then the daggone tea has to steep forever and by the time it's ready, I forgot why I wanted it in the first place! They must be very patient in England.

Well, Husband's tea looks all dark and luscious and decadent and mine looks . . . green, barely. It looks like I steeped some lawn clippings in hot water. And it tastes . . . green.

So are these oxidants really that bad? Does anyone know? 'Cause I might just deal with them another way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No Soup for You!

I have discovered a culinary delight unlike any other.

Don't know if anyone reading this has ever had the pleasure of La Madeline's restaurant, but it can only be described as extraordinary. I stumbled upon this particular pleasure after a very interesting night in Dallas in which Husband and I were escorted to Gilley's for a lesson in the Texas two-step where I constantly berated him—

Me: You're not pushing me!

Husband: Sorry.

Me: You're still not pushing me!

Husband: You want me to push you?

Me: It's called leading, Husband.

Husband: So . . . pushing . . . good?

Me: Tell. Me. What. You. Want. Me. To. Do. Using. The. Pressure. Of. Your. Hand. On. The. Small. Of. My. Back!!!

Husband: So . . . I don't get it.

Anywho, after that fun experience and a ride on the bull from someone in our party, rest assured that it was not I, we went in search of ice cream for a pregnant girl in our group, rest assured that it was not I, and stumbled upon La Madeline's (which does not, in fact, serve ice cream). To make a short story long, they had the best tomato basil soup that I thought I would ever eat in my entire life.

I think that no longer.

If you're a fan of tomato basil soup, you must try this recipe!!!! Like . . . right now!!!!

In a large pot, simmer 1 large can of peeled roma tomatoes (or whatever kind of tomatoes you can find, fresh peeled and seeded is the best, but who has time for that?) with about 3-4 cups of tomato juice over medium heat for 30 minutes. Puree tomatoes with 14 fresh basil leaves and return to pot. Add ½ cup of heavy cream and ¼ cup of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Heat through.

The original recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream and ½ cup of butter and strict instructions not to deviate or substitute from this in any way!!!!! My butt grew, like, three inches just reading that, so I halved it and it was still divine. I also tried it with half and half instead of heavy cream and it was ehhh, not terrible but not as great. If you're going to eat it every once and a while I say go with the heavy cream, if you want to eat it every single day like me then you might want to do the half and half.

Get some fresh bread to accompany the Nazi good soup and sit back and smile. It will make you wish it was winter all year long.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Freedom’s Just another Word . . . Not Anymore

"Have you read Jonathan Franzen's Freedom?" "Have you read Freedom?" Have you read Freedom?" Yes, this is the question that I can't seem to stop pestering friends, family, unsuspecting strangers, and even small children with.

But the real question is: Have YOU read Jonathan Franzen's Freedom?

It's possible that I may recommend it. Me, Oprah, and every person able to decipher the English language who has been fortunate enough to come across it.

Usually I scoff at the Oprah Book Club. I hate the idea of people reading something just because Oprah said so. I hate the idea of myself following in all those people's footsteps. I hate the idea that she's going off the air and she will never recommend one of my books!!!

However, I was tired of feeling left out of the Freedom conversation and I read some reviews on it before I knew what I was doing. After reading the stellar reviews, I knew that I must read it or die.

Just so you know, this isn't a book that you read. This isn't a book that read and put down and pick up again. This isn't a book that you read a few pages of if you get some time at the end of the day. This isn't a book that allows you to go about your day while you're not reading it.

This is a book that you live, that you absorb. If you can pry it out of your fingers, you don't merely put it down, you wake up from it. You remind yourself, no, that's not me living in the Victorian house in St. Paul, that's a character in a book . . . or is it? No. It's not me. It's a character in a book. It's a story. It's a story that I am reading.

This is a book that makes you resent anything else that you have to do—like eating, sleeping, bathing, helping kids with homework—because it's that much less time that you have to read it.

This is a book where you hop into someone's head and stretch out for a while. Franzen doesn't draw a picture of his characters, he crafts sculptures and then breathes life into them. And I really want to know what woman gave away all of our secrets? Who told Franzen how women really feel?

I mean really: "Richard looked her over carefully, piece by piece. It felt to her as if, with each new piece of her that his eyes alit on, she was being further tacked to the wall behind her, so that, when he was done looking over all of her, she had been rendered entirely two-dimensional and fastened to the wall."

How did he know that is exactly what it feels like to a woman to be ogled by a man? Who told him these secrets of ours? Franzen gets it. Not only does he get wrecked women, but also selfless men and ego centric rock stars and boys finding their way and suburban politics. He gets all this and he shares it with us in an amazing prose that left me salivating for more and a little depressed and a little drier in the tear ducts when I was done.

The entire book reads like a five hundred page poem—tragic, lyrical, evocative, nuanced. It really helped me to see the worth of my novels and I am of a mind to print them all out and use them for what they deserve—bird cage lining, bacon grease catchers, aids to start a fire on a cold day.

My only negative is that I got a bit sick of the political idealism in the book and felt like he wrote the novel as a platform for his political beliefs. Though his liberal characters were fully fleshed human beings, the conservative ones were caricatures of actual people. If I was from another planet and read the book, I would think that all conservatives are backward thinking, emotionally stunted people. It was like Franzen didn't take the time to understand these (minor) characters because if we try to understand someone, there is a big possibility that we may also sympathize with them. There were points when the politics were a little tedious and all I was thinking was: get back to the story, get back to the characters! But I forgive him because of the anti-cat sentiment at the end. We all know that cats are evil creatures.

So now the question is: Are you going to read Freedom?

Friday, November 5, 2010

They’ve Got a Month for Everything

November is upon us which means that NaNoWriMo has begun. For those of you who are not writers who routinely troll the web looking for tips on getting published, NaNoWriMo stands for National November Writer's Month, or something or other. The purpose is to write 50,000 words in the month of November (BTW, 50,000 words is almost never enough for an adult novel, just to let you know) and you "win." Don't ask me what you win. I think it's one of those things that my lazy five-year-old will do. If he wants something, but doesn't want to get up and get it he'll say, "Whoever gets me a blue crayon, wins!" Funny enough, but my two other children will usually run to get the blue crayon. He is wise beyond his years.

I've never done this before because usually with writing I need someone to tell me, "Hollie, STOP WRITING!!!! It's three o'clock in the afternoon and the kids are still in their pajamas and today was a school day, ya know!"

And I'll say, "Lemme just finish this chapter and I'll get them to school."

But lately, I've kind of lost some of my umph. I don't know if it's because we moved recently and I'm still settling and trying to get my reality straight before I delve into fantasy. Maybe I've lost heart because of piling rejections. Maybe the writing thing was just a phase and I've moved on. Whatever, the reason, I miss it.

I miss creating worlds and characters and then being surprised by those very things that I created. I miss writing something and then stepping back and reading it and saying, "Daggone it that's good!" I miss taking humorous/tragic/ordinary things from my life and giving them to someone else to deal with. I miss knowing for a fact that everything is going to work out in the end one way or another.

So I will be a part of this NaNoWriMo thing this year. If anyone wants to sign up, it should be fun. They also have these forums where you can meet up with writers in your area and write together and stuff. I may pass on this. Us writers, we're not the coolest crowd of people. You know those kids in high school who the geeks and nerds rejected? Yeah, that's us.

Sorry if I've hurt any feelings out there, but if this is true about you, then you probably already knew it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boo! Scared ya didn’t I?

Another Halloween has come and gone and still . . . the Great Pumpkin didn't come to visit Lionel in the pumpkin patch. Poor Lionel. I'm kind of like Lucy, I always had a little crush on Lionel. Really, you have to admire a man (or child) who doesn't care how stupid he looks, doesn't care what anyone thinks about it, doesn't care about the taunts of his sister—he's carrying that blanket by God!

Another Halloween has come and gone and still . . . my boys kept up their streak, three years running (which is like fifty years for a five and seven-year-old) of dressing like characters from Star Wars. This year's costumes were quite nifty geek-spotting-radar devices. Anyone who didn't know who they were, we knew were cool. If someone came yelling, "OMG! Look it's the father/son duo of Jango and Bobo Fett!!!" we knew they were geeks of the highest order.

Another Halloween has come and gone and still . . . I ate my weight in mini chocolate bars like I swore I wouldn't do. But, I have made a deal with my body that if it takes the chocolate and distributes the fat from it evenly over my entire frame instead of depositing it all on my thighs like it is wont to do, then I will take it to the gym five days a week for the next two months. We'll see if my body holds up on its end of the bargain. Traitorous thing is known for reneging on its deals.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Soapy Suds Swishing So Sweetly

If you ever came to my house to watch me do laundry (and why wouldn't you???) you would witness a strange scene of me sniffing everyone's (clean) underwear. To be fair, I sniff the other articles of clothing when they come out of the dryer, but I don't feel weird about it until I get to the underwear. I have a little obsession with clean laundry and the way it smells and the sound of the dryer, ahhhh and the washer when it fills with water and churns the suds around and around and around and then around and around and around the other way. Look, I'm getting all wistful and stuff.

I enjoy laundry so much that I count laundry as one of my hobbies. It's a good thing I love it, because with three kids and two active (sort of) adults in the house I have a lot of it to do, so I might as well enjoy it.

In college I had to write a paper called Zen and the Art of _______. The purpose of the exercise was to make us understand the pleasure that could be attained in everyday, menial tasks. Now, I finally get what they were trying to teach me, like, fifteen years later. I can get as much pleasure from folding lovely, soft towels as I can from doing something really spectacular.

I gotta be honest, I so did not get this at eighteen. I think I rattled off a paper about how much I LOVED, of all things, are you ready for this? . . . seriously, I don't think you are . . . no, for real, it was . . . ironing. Ugh!

I mean I get laundry, it's clean and warm and it smells good and it's all crisp and the hum of the dryer and the swish, swish of the washer and the way a new dryer sheet feels between your fingers . . . okay, I really like it, but ironing! Ironing is sweaty and dangerous and, good grief, you gotta make sure everything is laying flat first or else you put creases where you don't want them and sometimes the kids will run in the kitchen while I'm ironing and I worry that someone will trip on the cord and the hot iron will fall on their head and I have a real to life scar from ironing that I'll have, like, forever!

What was I talking about? Yeah, I really like to do laundry. Plus, it's the only time that I get to quote Shakespeare in my everyday life: "Out damn spot, out I say, one, two." And let's face it, everyone could use a little more Shakespeare in their life.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mum’s the Word

Yeah, my front yard has been looking kind of bleak, I get it. But this is a rental, and try as I may, I just can't make myself care too much about this house.

However, the weather was turning all pretty and cool and the fall flowers were all out and displayed at Lowe's and stuff and I got a wild hair and suggested to my three-year-old that we plant some flowers. Of course, as soon as the words left my mouth, I wished that I had them on a fishing line so that I could reel them back in. But . . . it was too late. She heard me and worse, she liked it!

I tried to ignore the planting flowers suggestion, but she woke up every morning and reminded me. Then I tried procrastination, telling her that we would do it next week, because I was far too busy checking my e-mail and editing books that won't ever be published to even think about planting flowers. Then, she woke every morning asking, "Is it next week?"

I guess my conscience started to get to me. Pesky thing.

So . . . I took the anxious little child to Lowes and let her pick out the poor daring plants that wished to be sacrificed in my front yard. Really I admired the beautiful purple blooms for giving themselves over to me. I mean, seriously, it's remarkable that three kids have survived under my care when zero . . . no lie, zero, plants have.

You know, I even feel a little sorry for the plants before I bring them home to die. Sometimes I'll apologize to them at the store—"Yeah, I know that you guys could have gone home with the lonely widow who dotes on her plants more than I have ever doted on another human being, but . . . you got stuck with me. But, you can't always choose who you get stuck with, so you just got to make the best of the situation. Look on the bright side, you'll get transplanted, I can guarantee that, and you'll get watered at least . . . well . . . maybe once, though it could be . . . like . . . four times if I can get my seven-year-old on board with the whole green thumb project. You know, it's possible that I could turn my life around and start caring for you guys. So . . . there's a chance that you'll survive beyond two weeks . . . if it rains . . . a lot."

So now, in addition to the beautiful dead tree in my front yard I also have an assortment of mums in various stages of decay and I put some pumpkins in there to make it all festive and yes, gourds because . . . I don't know why. I guess just because I'm a stay-at-home-mom and that's the kind of thing that we do to feel productive.

Yep, gourds.

That's my life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where is Waldo? For Real. Where He Go?

My five-year-old told husband the other day that he should dress like Waldo for Halloween. I looked at husband with squinty eyes and said, "Yeah, you do look a little like Waldo." He raised his eyebrows at me and I added, "Only way hotter, of course."

So, husband asked me, "Can you make a Waldo costume?"

I responded, "Uh, can pigs fly? I mean . . . wait . . . they can't so, what I meant to say was, yeah, of course I can!"

Now, don't get the wrong idea and think that my life is so void of things to do that I ran out to Wal-Mart that very day for Waldo-Costume-Making-Supplies. No, of course I didn't. I waited at least a day. So, if you want to make your very own Waldo costume for Halloween, all that you need is:

  1. 1 ball of red yarn
  2. 1 ball of white yarn
  3. Long sleeved white t-shirt
  4. Bright red Duck tape
  5. Husband willing to dress like Waldo

So . . . all you do is make a hat with the yarn starting with the red and work it in the stockingnet stitch for a while and then switch to the white. You know, knit the purls and purl the knits, 'cause it kind of looks a bit more manly than a regular stitch and stuff. And then make a pom-pom with the red yarn by wrapping it around two circles a bunch of times and then a bunch more and then wrapping more yarn around it and you know, you have a pom-pom. I totally should write a book on knitting hats. Right?

Then, take the shirt and do a row of red duck tape and a row of nothing until it looks like a Waldo shirt.

Then, wait . . . where did the husband willing to dress like Waldo go? Oh, wait . . . wait, wait, wait . . . now the Coast Guard wants to send him to Florida during Halloween?!?! What? Who cares about Homeland Security, I spent all this time with Duck tape and yarn and stuff to make this great costume. How can the Coast Guard be so callous???

So, I have this awesome homemade Waldo costume ready for Halloween. Any takers?

And don't even think about suggesting that I go as Waldo if you value your life. Though I may seem quite self-deprecating, trust me, it's all an act. I'm as vain as the next girl and . . . really . . . red and white horizontal stripes???? I don't think so.

There, I've said it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Running on Empty

Let's talk about this exercise thing I've been doing lately. I gotta tell you, I'm not really lovin' it like I should. In fact, the only reason that I still go to the YMCA four times a week and stay for at least an hour, honestly, is that I don't want the child care staff to think badly of me. I suppose that this is one of those times in life that it's good when you care what other people think about you.

I mean, really, if I got off the treadmill when I wanted to, I know they would look at me sideways and say, "You're done already?" Those times when I stay longer than an hour and feel all good and empowered and stuff, I check the sign-out sheet and there is always someone who signed their kid in before me who is still somewhere in the gym sweating their butt off (or yakking to someone in the locker room is what I tell myself). Seriously, though, what are these people doing?

When I run outside and keep a good schedule of running, I can do it (outside) for longer than an hour. But . . . running on a treadmill, I'm totally bored after, like, five minutes. I'll read the CNN closed captioning thing for a while and then they'll go to a commercial and I'll look at the girl next to me out of the corner of my eye and she'll be, like, walking really slow and I'll think—Wow! She's lucky! She gets to walk, while I have to run. How come I can't just walk? Why is she so special? You know, I think that walking is supposed to be better for you than running. Maybe I should walk too. Yeah, I think my heart rate is too high anyway. I bet if I checked it on that automatic heart-check thing, it would be like "Danger, Danger." So, I should walk.

Then I'll look down and see that I've only ran a half mile and I'll think—Holy cow! This would only have been a warm up if I were running around the neighborhood. There's no way I would walk if I were at home, I'll keep running. Hmm, but there's a girl on the other side of me and guess what, SHE'S WALKING TOO!!!! I think that walking is the new thing, I should try it. Yeah, I'll walk. Wait . . . that other girl was just warming up and now she's running too and oh no! she's running faster than me!!!! I can't compete with her, I'm about to die and I've just gone three quarters of a mile and I think my heart is going to explode!

I think my biggest thing is that I don't like for other people to watch me exercise. I'm not the most graceful of girls and my run is really more of a glorified walk and . . . I just feel silly. But I like the way it makes me feel after and I like the break from the little one during the day and I like to be able to button my jeans from time to time. So I do it. And I tell myself, "You don't have to like it, you just have to do it." And then get up the next day and do it and the next day and the next because, it's worth it. It's just sometimes hard to remember that when your heart is about to erupt and you can't control your breathing and your legs feel like rubber. But it always is. It's always worth it.

So get up and go, Hollie.

Yes, right now.

For real, turn off the computer and get your butt to the gym.

I mean it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Self-Doubt and Other Things I Wish Had Been Wiped Out in the Flood

I did it. It's done.

I have cut and copied and pasted and edited and deleted and rewritten my novel . . . again. Now, I am ready to send it out into the world again for another round of rejections . . . again. Perhaps it sounds as if I am being a bit negative, but I like to think of it as preemptive self-pity.

Querying a novel causes so much self-doubt to well up inside of me that when I look in the mirror I expect to see a fourteen-year-old girl who is worried that no one will ask her to the dance.

When I come up with an idea for a novel and when I am writing a novel, I feel so good about myself that sometimes I giggle at inappropriate times. I'll read the New York Times bestseller list and picture my name on it. I'll visualize myself sitting at a table at Barnes and Noble asking eager fans, "Who should I make it out to?" I will even go to bookstores and find where my novel will be shelved one fine day (between Sanders and Seth if you want to know).

When I'm editing my novel, a little hole opens up inside of me and some of the good feelings start to drain out. I find myself going red with embarrassment when I see some of the things that I've written. Maybe I'll even bang my head on the kitchen table a few times and mutter, "stupid, stupid." But then I'll fix the book and patch up the hole and tell myself, "Okay, maybe not the bestseller's list, but still a table at Barnes and Noble."

But when the rejections start rolling in, that is when the hole is blasted open and I can't believe that I ever thought that I would ever, ever have a chance at being published and look at all the hours and hours I've spent crafting this novel and no one even wants to read sample pages and don't they know that in the seventh grade my English teacher told me that she would be surprised if I didn't make it as a writer one day and oh, wow I feel so stupid for ever getting my hopes up and I'm never ever going to get my hopes up about anything ever again and I'm never ever going to ever try anything new and oh yeah, I even burned super tonight and I can't do anything right why do I even try to do anything, I am a failure at every single thing in my life, it shouldn't even surprise me anymore!!!!!!

It's true, I think this and more. But . . . at heart I am a cheery person and only sometimes a brooding artist, so I usually bounce back . . . eventually.

With every rejection, it gets harder and harder to keep sending the book out there, because it's one more person who doesn't think it will succeed and if they think it won't succeed and they're the experts, why should I think it will?

Ants. That's the other thing I wish was wiped out in the flood. Ants.


Monday, October 18, 2010

I Was a Poet and Didn’t Even Know It

I find myself to be of two minds about poetry. There is a part of me that wants to discuss it with everyone I meet and go to open mike nights at arty bars and recite my original works and send my poems off to be considered for publication. Then there is another (larger) part of me that wants to deny that I have any idea what poetry is and disavow any knowledge of poems I have ever written and even wipe my hard drive clean of said poems and maybe even smash my laptop in case some computer savvy person came along who knew how to restore deleted files.

Poetry can be a little embarrassing.

Writing fiction is fun. You get to create all these characters from nothing and give them these traits and an interesting past and none of it has to have anything at all to do with you unless you want it to. You can't do that so much with poetry. My poems come from a part of me that I barely even know exists and most of the time, I don't want to know it exists.

It boggles my mind that so many poets and songwriters can just put themselves out there in the public like that. I can't imagine the bravery it takes to show someone your soul and then ask them to tell you straight up what they think about it. What if your soul isn't really as unique as you thought? What if it's kind of creepy or just plain weird? What if you think that you're all deep and inspiring, but really you're like Nickelback, out there thinking that you're saying something profound when really you're just making me want to bash my radio in?

I mean, come on, "And this is where I went to school, most of the time had better things to do." Yeah, no duh, I can tell you didn't go to school much by your inane lyrics and complete inability to be subtle in your songwriting. Clearly, Nickelback missed the class on metaphor. Just because you put words on paper and then put these music note things around them and then sing those words with a gravely voice, it does not mean that it's good, or even that it's music.

Total aside—but stop leading them on people! I mean it, stop buying their albums! You're just encouraging them!

So, if you're expecting one day for Hollie Sessoms to be crowned Poet Laureate or to see me up there at a presidential inauguration reciting something I scribbled on a paper towel whilst I was doing dishes one night, let me just tell you—what's poetry?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sew Good

So, I really like Halloween.

Forget what the kid who lives next door told me about how it's the devil's holiday, 'cause I don't buy into that. It's just costumes, candy, and cacophony (sorry, I needed another "c" word) to me. Of course, the way that some of these young girls dress like they just want to have an excuse to look like a prostitute—well . . . maybe the kid is on to something.

But I don't love it for the inappropriate costumes or even the gooey treats. I love it because it gives me an excuse to sew something that doesn't have to look perfect, because it's only a costume for crying out loud!

It's possible that sewing isn't the best hobby for someone like me to have. That is . . . someone who comes from the school of It's-Good-Enough. We're taking applications for spring semester, by the way. But, even if I'm not great at it, I still love sewing. Just don't ask me to hem your pants unless you really hate those pants and only want to wear them to the Headbanger's Ball.

Unfortunately, as my kids get older, it gets harder and harder to get their "permission" to sew a costume for them. How mean would it be for me to say to my seven-year-old that I don't care that he wants to go as Jango Fett from Star Wars, I have a great pattern for a scarecrow that I'm dying to try out and he needs to suck it up and just be the dorky kid in school for once!

Lucky for me, I still have a three-year-old and though she is headstrong, she is still quite impressionable and a few slight of hand tricks on my part, like ordering Wizard of Oz and making her watch it over and over and telling her that we might get a dog that looks like Toto (I meant stuffed, but she doesn't have to know that) and voila! I have my Dorothy.

Once she saw reason and decided that Sleeping Beauty was ooh so stupid and Dorothy was ooh so glam, I headed to the fabric store to pick up my Dorothy pattern and gingham and broadcloth. I took my goodies home and started perusing the pattern (Simplicity #4139 for those of you who want to try it) and only then remembered—I am a terrible seamstress!!!! How will I make this lovely pleated frock????

Honestly, truthfully, I didn't understand the first five instructions. In fact, I barely understood the instructions on how to cut out the material. I freaked a bit, because even though sewing may seem economical, it's actually quite expensive. I spent almost $40 on supplies for the Dorothy costume.

So, I took a deep breath, I took a step back, I relaxed, maybe I had a glass of wine, and I started from the beginning and did everything that they told me to do, even if I didn't understand it. And I ended up with a pretty good imitation of a Dorothy costume if I may say so myself! I was quite pleased. Just don't walk behind my daughter on Halloween because it's possible that there may be some defects in the back where everything didn't quite meet up the way that it should have. Not that there are . . . it's just possible.

Good life lesson to be had—taking a step back, a sip of wine, following the directions, and just trying something new, can somehow, sometimes work out okay.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dancing about Architecture

You know that movie where Angelina Jolie falls in love with Ryan Phillippe when he has blue hair. I would totally google it and tell you the name, but that's a whole thing and I don't really feel like doing it. Anywho, there's this one scene where Ang and Ry (that's what I call them when we're hanging out) are talking about love and Ang says to Ry, "Talking about love is like dancing about architecture." That's sort of how I feel about writing—writing about writing is like dancing about architecture. It's nigh impossible and a little pointless. But I'm going to do it anyway.

For me, writing is . . . not an option. I don't ever say to myself, "Hmmm, maybe if I get time today I'll write," or, like I've heard some writer's do, "I will sit down and write 3,000 words today no matter what!" For me, when I want to write I MUST!!! Resistance is futile. I HAVE to do it. These phrases or images will come to my mind and I literally have to get them out of me or else fear that they will bore a hole in my head and get out that way and then I'll never see them again and I'll have this ugly hole in my head that I'll have to do something about. Though losing the images is a little more frightening then having a hole in my head.

The relief I feel when I do get these words out is indescribable. I am in love with my words. I want to marry my words and have babies with them. I want to snuggle by the fire with them and toast to our future. I want to grow old with them and hold their hand when I'm on my deathbed and whisper in their ear that I will see them on the other side.

I have tons of hobbies and the balance with writing and real life is the hardest one to attain. I don't feel like I'm going to go crazy if I don't finish knitting that blanket. I don't put PBS Kids on for hours a day (I know—bad mom!) so that I can plant mums and arrange them around pumpkins and gourds. I don't sit for so long that my butt goes numb from sewing pajama pants because I was transported to another world. I don't sacrifice anything for my other hobbies because these other hobbies are merely rearranging elements that already exist.

Writing is different. Writing is creating something from nothing. Writing is escaping for a moment. Writing, on a good day, is discovering that you're a little in awe of yourself. Writing is making your dreams come true even if it's only on paper. Who could resist that? Who would want to?

Anyone care to dance about that with me?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rocks, Sticks, and Other Fun Things

My family and I made a great escape to the woods this weekend. The drive out there was like a car chase with me checking behind us every ten seconds to make sure that real life wasn't tagging us, trying to ruin our weekend. When we arrived at the woods and the quiet engulfed me and a peace settled on my shoulders, I felt pretty sure that we gave real life the slip. My tongue lolled out of my mouth, I started panting, and I didn't really stop until the camping trip was over.

There's something about being in the woods that makes me realize that almost every single thing that I do each day isn't real and I don't even know it. I don't know how often I feel bored during a normal day. I always have plenty to do, but I'm usually bored doing those things.

In the woods, I can stare at a tree or a fire for hours and not feel bored. I can sit in stillness and listen. My kids can be utterly entertained by a pile of rocks, a few twigs, and a really cool feather. I can wake up in the morning and do so much before I have my first cup of coffee (this is unheard of at home). We can walk for hours and see nothing but trees and leaves and not have anyone mention the words Mario or Brothers one time.

To be fair, at one point while we were hiking in the woods, I looked down at my feet and thought to myself—you know, I'm going to get me some really cool hiking shoes for the next time we do this. Ooh, and maybe I'll get some of those crinkly khaki pants with the pockets all over. Ooh, ooh, and I'll carry a backpack with nothing in it but water, cliff bars, and trail mix, and I'll carry a walking stick, and I'll fix my hair in pigtail braids and when I take the braids out, my hair will be all cool and wavy. I smacked myself for being in the middle of such natural beauty and only thinking about how I wanted to fix my hair. I guess that some of real life caught up with me. But I am totally wearing my hair like that next time.

The morning we were leaving, as I sat on an ancient land once occupied by the Occoneechee Native Americans and looked out onto the glistening lake . . . yes . . . a speed boat went by and brought a poem to mind from dear old William Wordsworth. I will leave you with this today.


The World is Too Much with Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Vampires . . . We Gotta Talk about It

Everyone has some pretty interesting things about them. I'm sure. Most everyone. Well, some people. That crazy guy at the YMCA who sings along with his ipod quite loudly while lifting weights, most definitely. Well, I'm no different from him . . . that is, I have a few interesting things about me. Like . . . I've never lived in one place for longer than five years (and the one place that I did live in for five years was hell and made me never want to try it again, excuse me very much Anderson, South Carolina), I lived in Alaska as a child, I was directly across the street when the bomb went off at the Atlanta Olympics, I had three kids in four years, my third kid weighed 10.1 and was birthed by VBAC (if you don't know what that means then google it 'cause I'm not discussing that here), and I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever eaten a Big Mac (or a Whopper for you Burger King fans) ever. But the one thing that most people find most interesting about me is that I don't have cable and haven't had it for years.

What I do have is a digital antenna, a nifty piece of equipment that gives you hi-def channels for, F-R-E-E! I love that word! What's also great about this device is that you can turn it away from the signal or stand right in front of it during the Ryder Cup and drive your husband completely crazy with minimal effort. Fun!

As you have probably gathered from the fact that I don't have cable, I therefore am not a huge fan of the television and were it not for an elongated ball covered with pigskin and Ian Somerhalder, I would be quite content with no TV at all in my house.

But . . . there are some things that I know to be true.

  1. I do have a TV in my house
  2. Ian Somerhalder has quite the nice physique and smoldering (yes, I said it—smoldering) eyes
  3. I heart Vampire Diaries
  4. I am blogging about Vampire Diaries

I gotta admit that when I first heard of Vamp Di, I was quite the skeptic. I mean, seriously, aren't we trying a little too hard to ride the vampire bandwagon, people? But, one mere episode and I was hooked like a starving fish on twenty pound line. Though I admit that the abs and eyes were probably (okay, definitely) what drew me in, I gotta say that what is keeping me are the amazing characters and stellar storylines that are so unpredictable that they have me shouting, "OMG!"

I think I've come to understand that what I love more than anything is a sympathetic villain. I mean the good guys who always make the right decisions get very tedious in a very short period of time. And the bad guys who are always trying to create evil and chaos make me feel all dirty inside. But someone who messes up and sometimes messes up big, but still shows that he can be compassionate and kind, that's someone who looks kind of familiar to me—because, really, in true life, the lines between good and evil are blurry and shifting.

But let's talk about this whole vampire thing, shall we? What exactly is the appeal, mainly, for women? Do we want someone to love us so much that he literally wants to drink our blood? Is it just the age-old desire for the bad boy and, let's face it, our desire to make him turn his life around for us? Is it merely the escape from reality, the idea that a whole other world can exist right before our eyes? Maybe it's a combination of all of these. All I know is that I don't think the fang phenom is going away anytime soon and as long as the vamps all look like Ian Somerhalder, I don't really want it to.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You’re Dead and I’m Done

You're probably wondering what I'm reading right now, aren't ya? Well, fear not, you need no longer wonder, 'cause I'm gonna tell you. It's possible that compared with most writer-type-people (and definitely my husband), my taste in books is a little on the low-brow side. This doesn't bother me as much as it should. I think I'm beginning to understand that as my age progresses and my maturity level doesn't exactly progress along with it, that it's possible I may be a little shallow. But I'm okay with that. I have deep thoughts, I just don't have them that often and when I do, they make me giggle a bit.

So, it should come as no surprise that what I'm reading right now is Charlaine Harris' Dead and Gone, or . . . maybe it's Dead to the World, or . . . maybe Dead—It's the New Black, or . . . something like that—a Sookie Stackhouse novel. Clearly, since I'm on like the 100th book in this series, I quite enjoy the little world that Harris has created and find her characters fun and amusing.

But . . . I'm sad to say that if I make it through this novel then I'm hanging up my Stackhouse Groupie Pants. I devoured the first several novels in the series and dreamed about them at night and thought about them when I wasn't reading them, but these last few I've had to choke down like dry turkey on Thanksgiving. It's like I know I should want the turkey because it's Thanksgiving and all and I'm eating it out of respect for the holiday, but I'm not really enjoying it. Or . . . maybe I just hope that the turkey will get right to the point and realize that she really loves Eric for crying out loud and stop sleeping with 7 foot tall bald men that turn into Tigers (gross)!!!!!!!

I think this is probably the normal reaction when you're reading a series like this. It's like a sitcom and we all know that Ross and Rachel can hook up, but they can't officially "get together" until the series finale. I get that this is what is happening in these books as well, but it's a lot easier to watch a story develop very slowly once a week for thirty minutes on television. It gets a little frustrating that after nine books Sookie still doesn't know if she loves Bill or Eric, or maybe she loves Sam, or maybe even Quinn (ewww!), or maybe even Alcide, she could love him ya know.

Also, each book has to stand alone, so with every book, Harris has to remind the reader what came before. It is quite tedious getting through that when you already know what came before. It's like listening to a person tell the same story over and over again because new people arrived at the party and they just have to hear it. Plus, I get the mystery/thrill of the books, but how many dead bodies can one person stumble upon??? I mean, I'm thirty-two and I've never seen one dead body outside of a funeral home. Is there something wrong with me? Why aren't people dying around me? How come no one I love ever dies? Why doesn't cool stuff ever happen to me? Clearly, I need a break.

So, goodbye Sookie, farewell, adieu, au revoir, gesundheit. And remember, we'll always have Dead until Dark.

Monday, October 4, 2010

So . . . I Guess I’m Blogging

Okay . So . . . yeah, apparently I'm blogging now. Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are about this fact. You see, what had happened was that I was straightening my hair this morning and as I picked up one mottled clump of hair and prepared to sizzle it between two extra hot plates of metal so that I could achieve the sleek straight hair that all of the magazines say I should desire, I suddenly said to myself, "I think I'll blog. Hmmm, good idea." (Not out loud of course, that would be crazy!) So here I am.

Hi.

I mean I signed up for this blog, like, a year ago and it's just been sitting here doing nothing. And it already had my name on it. See up there, yeah, that's me. And it also had all these nifty tidbits of info about me like . . . I really enjoy listening to Keane, and . . . I like to write, and . . . maybe sometimes I run, and stuff. So, I've got that going for me and that's good.

So . . . what to blog about? Hmm.

Well, let's start with me and go from there. On the outside, I am pretty much your typical mother of three stay-at-home-mom who drives a minivan and makes cupcakes that look like animals and sews my kids Halloween costumes whenever they let me and who almost always has a knitting project on my nightstand along with my paperback book and alarm clock that rings at 6:30 in the morning so that I can get up and iron for my husband, fix breakfast for my family that I can't eat because I'm always watching my waistline and pack lunches for everyone who is leaving the house and then I go to the gym because of the waistline again and get home and play Barbie and make lunch again and clean and cook and get the kids from the bus stop and then do homework while cooking and cleaning and keeping the other kids entertained and then do more cleaning and bathing and reading (for kids) and tucking in and set my alarm clock for 6:30 the next day. Sound familiar? You're probably thinking that you've met me many times in your life. But actually, I'm not that woman at all.

Well, who am I then? I like to think that I am a writer. I feel like I'm deluding myself if I say this, but it's true. I am. I am a writer. I've written three novels and am actively seeking representation for the third one. I still love the first two and am trying to revise them in the hopes that one day they too will be ready to make the query rounds. But even if my mom is the only one who reads these novels, that's still okay, because the joy of getting them published can only be marginally better than the joy I received from actually writing them. I have other hobbies as well to keep me occupied because I feel like I've been getting more and more stupider since I had children, but the writing is the king of the hobbies and is really less of a hobby and more of an obsession.

I feel a bit foolish for starting this blog. I have the same questions going through my head that I did when I wrote my first novel: Who cares? Who would want to read this? Why, oh why would they want to read it? But I got over that feeling around chapter 20, so maybe I'll get over this one too. We'll see!