Tuesday, April 29, 2008

little moments like this

The other day, Drew said the B-word.  I'm not kidding.  He looked right into my eyes as I sat at the computer on a SUNDAY - aargh - transcribing my little heart out - well, transcribing anyway.  He ignored the outdoors, the shelves of books, the football guys, cars, dinosaurs, construction paper - all of it, and had the audacity to say the two words that make every mother beg for help from heaven lest she bury her child in a stormy lecture too great for his little head to handle:  "I'm bored."

I glanced for only a moment at the books and writing and straightening I wished I were doing, skipped the lecture, and went to the rainy day shelf.  It's really not as well stocked as it should be, but I keep a few games and things there that they usually forget exist and can therefore rescue all the B-moments.  I pulled down this puzzle of the United States.  The border hooks together like any puzzle, but the states are cut individually and just have to fit together.  I used to put together one like this at my grandma's after the dolls and outdoors had lost my interest and she had put the elephant collection safely in its home behind the high glass door.  I became an expert at that thing.  I used to time myself - once I had the border together.  I pictured those pieces in my head so thoroughly that I would see them in the shapes my cheese and bologna would make as I bit into it.  "Look, Mom, it's Idaho!"

As you can imagine, I wanted to help Drew.  I thought surely he wouldn't figure out where Alaska and Hawaii fit down at the bottom, and he had no hope in the northeast - all those tiny little states that have to fit just so.  But after helping only a little and being - very kindly - shooed away, I realized that although I'm sure Grandma had to show me the Alaska thing at first, my memory of those times with the puzzle are just me and the pieces.  Working it out by myself, becoming a geographical whiz on the same humble coffee table where I had earlier created family groups from the elephants.  So I let Drew have his moment, and it was everything I could have hoped.   He learned the difference between Kansas City and Florida which were previously one in the same - "that place we go on vacation", and he had the joy of figuring it out all by himself.  All I really did - was take the picture.  Four of them.  

Sunday, April 27, 2008


At the moment, I am non-fictioning myself to death.  I'm loving every word - how to help your kids thrive in public school, (Going Public, by David and Kelli Pritchard), a Christian's perspective on filmmaking (Outside Hollywood by Isaac Botkin), and You Can Market Your Book by Carmen Leal.  They're all relevant, and I'm enjoying them.  In between these I also read both of Rosie O'Donnell's memoirs, and it was at some point after that when I started wondering just which wonderful story I'm going to pick up next.  I can't wait to get lost in a good piece of fiction again.  

While thinking of where I will turn first in choosing my next great read, I can't help but think about the Anne of Green Gables series, my previously mentioned favorite fiction series of all time.  When I found this picture online and discovered I could own these books for the small price of 55.70 per book, I practically ran to Michael with the news.  He informed me that our closets and shelves are already overrun by my many copies of the series.  The fact that these are HARD BACK fell completely on deaf ears.

So remember how I want to get a book published some day and wish I could be in a movie - at least ONCE - and hopefully go to the premiere?  Well, here's another one:  Book 8 in this series?  SHOULD BE A MOVIE.  And I want to write the screenplay.  I don't care what you think of the flowery sunsets or flights of imagination in the first several books, you can't possibly hate the last one.  It's based during WWI.  It has courage, sacrifice, comedy, romance, horrible sorrow, childish thrills.  It's completely awesome.  As I told my dad once - there's a scene with a dog.  Dude.  You will never get over it.  And it belongs on the screen.  I haven't even begun to summon the nerve to make the call to find out who owns the movie rights to this book, but I'm convinced when I find them I will in very few words be able to convince them that I am the perfect person to pen its screenplay.  No one could adore it more.  No one could be better versed in all the wonderfulness that led to this finale.  I want the job.  

At the very least, don't let the same person write it who did Anne of Avonlea (The Kevin Sullivan version).  I have yet to forgive them for squishing three books together that way and leaving out some of the best characters ever.  It was so uncool.  Mr. Harrison and Philippa Gordon deserved to be heard.  I want vindication, and I want an Oscar for it.

Hold on - that's a different dream.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

an ode to Lori's tree

This is the time of year when I always start rethinking my lifelong loyalty to autumn as my favorite time of year. I never completely change my mind because the relief of autumn after an exhaustingly humid Missouri summer is just too awesome and too long anticipated. The crackly leaves, the crisp air - love it.

But like I said - I'm in rethinking phase at the moment. Just look at this tree. It sits proudly at Lori's house down the street, and I can see it from my office window. That's fancy work-at-home talk for back porch patio doors that are broken and no longer open. But I forgive them for it now that they give this as a view. I even forgive the child who opened the door too fast and too hard too many times until it jammed forever in one final angry protest. Magnolia trees in spring have to be one of the most beautiful things EVER. Just look at one for 2 seconds - just drive by it for goodness sake, and see if your troubles don't melt like lemon drops. Which is my only complaint. Their glory is so fleeting. The blooms don't last nearly long enough. I know several houses in town that have them, and I always take those roads on purpose this time of year. But somehow I never noticed before that I could see Lori's from my very own window. It's so hard to be afraid or to feel hate, in this world that usually makes both of those things so easy, when it gives us trees like this. Thank God for spring.

in all it's glory

Monday, April 21, 2008

not just a tattoo artist anymore

So, remember the original poetry Drew was reciting in the car that sent John into a frenzy of grimacing and ear
plugging? I happen to have some of it here for you. Ahem:

The Color Rap
Green, green, Ding dong ding
Red, red, Happy head
Yellow, yellow, Lemon Pillow
Black, black, Looking back
- Andrew, copyright 2008

I think it's practically perfect. In every way. (Just like Mary Poppins). And you know it thrills my little heart to see his creative juices flowing. It's so amazing being a part of the miracle of bringing a child into the world, and so rewarding when they enter it and start bringing yet more wonderfulness with them - poetry, inventions, questions that you got too old and smart to ask.

In the case of this rap, though, I'm afraid there is further proof of my influence in Drew's life besides the creative urge. His pronunciation of "pillow". I'm afraid I say it wrong. Michael has been trying to tell me so for years, and I was all - who cares? So I say "pellow", it's not like "supposebly" or something. Most people won't even notice the E in my pillow. I only feel a little badly about this now, because after all he is in the formative years of pronunciation. Teach them wrong at this age, and they'll say basghetti their whole lives. (I love that one. And it took forever, but they finally say leaves instead of fleaves.)

So anyway - Drew writes a poem, and I realize how intensely he's been hanging on my every word. Gotta love that. And besides - yellow, yellow, lemon pillow - I think Seuss would approve.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

you should be sitting for this

Well. Perhaps I was due. Because I just got a huge dose of happy. I've signed with a literary agent who believes in my memoir and wants to try and find a publisher for it! I told Mom I wasn't going to blab about it on the blog, because I don't want to seem unprofessional. But the way life happened today - well, I just changed my mind.

She called yesterday at around - um - 2:25 and 45 seconds? And from that moment, I lost all sanity. My poor brother called seconds later and felt concerned that I would hyperventilate. I almost forgot my children at school, and that's when the sanity really took a turn for the dark side. I got them home safely but continued to ignore them while I called people and let out all the squeals that I had promised my family I would contain while actually speaking on the phone with the agent.

By evening I started to notice something. John wasn't himself. Usually easy-going, he had suddenly developed a very short fuse with his younger brothers. When I invited Drew along on the trip to McDonalds that was supposed to have just been John and I, John grimaced and held his fingers in his ears the whole way there (Drew was reciting original poetry).

I decided to watch and listen for a while before I talked to him about the sudden attitude. But in my head, it had already begun. The inevitable tailspin of our lives because I put my career above the care of my family. I had acquired a New York literary agent! And with it, the end of life as we knew it. We were going to be like the lottery winners who end up bankrupt with broken families. Yes. All of this because John held his fingers in his ears while Drew recited poetry. If you're shocked at my dramatic reaction to the events of my day, I have to ask - you have read this blog, right?

So here's the happy ending. I made banana bread. I'm not kidding. That's how everything became right again. It was this morning. We were out of milk, and I reached for a banana bread mix that John asked me to buy weeks and weeks ago but I had yet to whip up. Today, I baked it. The house smelled like Little House on the Prairie, and everything started turning. I went to take a shower while John devoured his breakfast, and eventually I heard a knock on the door.

"Yes, Baby?"

"Thank you for making banana bread, Mama. It was delicious! So thank you."

"You're welcome, John!"

And he's been himself all day. Goodbye Dateline sob story. Hello mother of the year.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

another thing I love

You know what I had to realize about myself at some point?  I didn't appreciate home enough.  Not home.  I think I appreciate the heck out of that.  My boys, the first one included, and the life we have in these walls.  But I mean the little town our life is in.  And the region.  And the state . . .  It's not that I didn't like it.  I've just been sort of indifferent to it.  But that's changing.  I'm trying to appreciate it all more, to have favorite things about it, reasons to stay.  

So here's a tribute to a place I love.  You're going to be bored at first.  It's Long John Silvers.  I know.  Chains shouldn't count.  Nothing with national television spots can be on my list of favorite local things.  But you have to see it.  It sticks out all by itself way before the mass of fast food chains further down the strip.  It looks like it grew up out of the concrete in the parking lot of the old Wal-Mart and current shopping - um - corner?  

Anyway, I don't go there often, and every time I do - it makes me very happy.  First the workers.  They look sort of - well - tired.  And a bit tattooed.  Some of them very tattooed.  And many of them a little like they might be waiting for their next cigarette break.  But they are the salt of the service industry.  Every single time.  They act genuinely happy to give me the right sauce and to add those awesome little fried pieces of batter when they give me my chicken.  That's all I ever get there.  The battered chicken and cole slaw.  Those chicken strips are the most fattening delicacy I can't live without.  I adore them.  When I was pregnant the second time, they're almost all I ate.  And then there's this bell with a long thin rope dangling from it that hangs by the exit.  You're supposed to ring it if you think they did a good job, and people actually do.  And not only that, when you ring it, at least one - but often two - of the workers - counter and kitchen help alike - will yell out, "Thank you!"  It just makes me smile.  There may be a conglomerate on the billboard outside, but inside it's all mom-and-pop.  And I love it.  I'd love it more if it were called Small Town Guy's Shrimp Shack.  It would feel more like undiscovered treasure then.  But it's the closest I've got, so consider it appreciated.  And, no, it's not lost on me that I go to a seafood chain to eat chicken.  

Up next week:  Walgreens!  Just kidding.  Have you seen the price of toiletries there?

Monday, April 14, 2008


We'd like a house just outside of town someday.  I saw a dark wood floor I loved once, I'd like that in the dining room, along with lots of windows.

I'd like to get a book published someday and maybe a song and a children's book and a screenplay . . .  
I've gotten so many lovely notes and cards (and flowers!  Thank you, Harold and Lori) the last couple of weeks.  Cards and letters are highly underrated.  I think I'll start writing them more often.
I've had a few low moments lately, but no matter how low they were, Jake could always make me grin.  He's the sunshiniest creature alive, and I'm so lucky to belong to him.

At my niece's birthday party last weekend I let them paint my hair.  Hair painting:  Also highly underrated.  

Did I mention it wasn't cancer?

I need some new shoes and jeans.  I want to start doing my Pilates again.  I have yet to open April's issue of InStyle.  I have a stack of must-reads and tons more on the list.  I hope to actually put out flowers this spring - Grandma says May Day is a good time.  And don't I have the manuscript for a novel half begun somewhere?

Hello, Life.  I'm back.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A pathetic interlude

Once upon a time, Calvin built an awesome snowball to throw at Suzie.  It was bigger even than himself, to which Hobbes asked how he was planning to lift it.  Calvin's response? 

"Reality continues to ruin my life." 

That's unfortunately how I feel today.  My first night after surgery was greatly troubled by the world's worst roommate and her angry boyfriend.  The nurses kept riling him up by asking him to leave, and then leaving themselves, so that I was alone on the other side of the curtain wondering when he would decide that they were probably asking him to leave because I had complained about the blaring television at 1 a.m.    My second night was nonstop vomiting, although at home this time.  I feel sad and unmotivated.  And it's completely awful.  I don't have cancer!  It wasn't cancer, and I thought for sure I could handle anything if I could just get that news.  Instead, I feel like Calvin.  I'd feel so great if it weren't for reality. 

A friend today told me that the third day is always the worst.  Today is technically the fourth day after surgery, but yesterday might have been worse.  So maybe tomorrow will be better.  Otherwise, my poor surgeon, whom I usually adore, is going to get an earful.  If only I could lift the stupid snowball. 

I wrote a post just before surgery about reality t.v.  I'll post it now just below this one.  It goes along with the reality theme and will cheer us both up - what with this post being all gloom and doom.

the problem with reality

I'm pretty sure I could turn on any reality television show, and even if I had not seen it once up to that point, I would feel devastated and crushed for whatever poor person was eliminated from the contest that week. I. Hate. That. Part. When Steve Gutenberg was voted off Dancing with the Stars, I felt there was definitely no justice for the nice guys. He kept practically reading my own personal treatise about the show, every time he spoke. You know, it could potentially save the world. If not from trouble, then at least from despair. It's just such a happy thing - dancing.

And don't get me started on watching the American Idol kids fade from history. The poor things came so close to their chance and then lost it along with a great big lovely feeling that America itself was rejecting them.

But the one that takes the cake for me, and by cake I mean the prize for the worst elimination process in HISTORY, is Oprah's Big Give. This is just wrong, People. And I don't like it. "You didn't give enough. You're a loser. Go home." Didn't give enough? NOBODY gives enough. Not one of us. And it's exactly that kind of feeling - that even if you try, it still won't be enough - that keeps people from giving at all. It's a strange little game, and I'm not a fan.

They really shouldn't call these reality television anymore. I liked them the first time when they were called Game Shows and the winners at least left with some parting gifts. Where are the parting gifts in reality t.v.?! That's what I want to know. (This tirade excludes The Bachelor. Getting booted off that show IS your parting gift, girls, trust me.) The elimination process in reality t.v. is ridiculously outside of reality.

It's like I keep saying in regards to all the hopes and dreams we all have for success and greatness and getting discovered: Only one person can win a contest. But lots of people win at life.