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12 May

We are not amused, American Idol. It’s the sad, sad truth that James’ performances were one of the few things we looked forward to each week*. It’s been that kind of a spring. (Plus James Durbin is awesome.)

Now we have to amuse ourselves by skulking Hunger Games movie blogs, trying to imagine how well the actors fit their roles.

Okay. I only go there once in a while, but I did spend an otherwise useless hour today making Josh Hutcherson into Peeta Mellark — or at least a blond. Yep, that works. Easier to imagine now. That guy could decorate a cake and throw big sacks of flour around. Real.

*(James’s? James’? My name ends in an S, and I liked apostrophe-s, not s-apostrophe, but now the former looks wrong.)


Scream or Die!

29 Mar

In my blog skulking of late, I’ve found a lot of discussion regarding bizarre audience behavior on television. I don’t know if I ever believed it was natural or spontaneous, but I can tell you now for sure that it is not. It may be based in sincerity — I definitely spend a few hours in bliss, attending So You Think You Can Dance tapings — but they take that sincerity and crank it up to eleven (it’s one louder). Don’t even think about not enthusing.

Anyhow, in support of my claims, I thought I’d repost a piece I wrote a few years back describing my adventures in Hollywood one bizarre day. Enjoy.


“Look. The Hollywood sign.”

I tried to take a picture for my sister, who we’d roped into watching our boys all day, but my phone’s camera sucks. The sign looked like a dark blur. Just as well. My sister lived in that area for years doing movie makeup. It was more about geographical tracking than bragging about being somewhere she wasn’t.

The day was gray. The bus was dim, cold, full of groggy people. Quiet but for the drone of the motor and the hiss of the air vents.

I was wondering when someone would finally stand and say something to our group – forty of my husband’s coworkers and/or guests. Something like hello. Or welcome. Or Drew Carey has the flu today, so everyone giggling over the t-shirts they made to wear later on The Price Is Right is going to be sorely disappointed. Or anything.

I thought maybe they’d do it when we made it through traffic and got to our first stop, The Dr. Phil Show at Paramount Studios.


We pulled up in front of the building covered by a Wyland whale mural, and before the bus’s brakes were set, a blue-blazered audience coordinator was leaping up the stairs.

“Okay!” He was jarringly chipper for the early hour, his loudness a harsh contrast to the muffled sound before. “The show is starting! We have to get you all out of here and into the studio ASAP! No cell phones or cameras! Leave them on the bus!” Waving his hands, “Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

Suddenly, we were all on our feet, flinging electronic devices onto the bus seats as though they were about to detonate and running like mad through a roped-off line area and through security.

“Go, go, go!” They kept rushing us. “Dr. Phil is about to go onstage!”

Thirty seconds before, we’d been half asleep. Now we were racing into a studio full of screaming, clapping people. Music blared, the bass line shaking the floor. Lights flashed.

A toweringly tall Blue Blazer urged us toward seats in the front row of the back section. Other audience coordinators were waving their arms around, demanding that we scream, clap, act like Elvis was re-entering the building. Cameras were everywhere. People were going nuts!

Then this big mafioso type came swaggering out on the stage, waving blue Dr. Phil mugs. With a meaningful leer, he pumped one mug-filled fist toward a section of the crowd, and they went nuts. [Enter Man with Mugs, said the screenplay in my head. “Clap or the mugs get it!”] He did this a few times, urging bigger applause with a tight smile that also promised broken knees to those who didn’t comply.

Then another Blue Blazer was directly in my face. As the announcer’s voice thundered that the moment we’d all been waiting for was here, the man himself, blah, blah, blah, the Blue Blazer furiously scanned the crowd and then locked eyes with me.

With an imperious finger, he said, “You! With me!”

I was on the run again, across the center aisle and down a perpendicular set of stairs straight toward the stage. A shorter Blue Blazer directed me like a taxiing airplane toward an empty seat in the center of the second row. I didn’t have time to remove the “Reserved – Guest” card from my seat. I flung my purse down and obeyed the fleeing Blazer’s final orders to throw my hands in the air and scream like I’d won the lottery (mimed, of course – couldn’t hear words at this point to save my life).

And then he was there. Not Elvis, alas (or perhaps fortunately at this late date), but Dr. Phil. Maybe three feet away from me on the stage. So strange!

I stood among a gaggle of what looked like teenage girls from the corner of my eyes and pretended that my life’s dream had just been fulfilled, wondering what on earth prompted the Blazer to choose me to come on down. I wished it was American Idol or something where it would be fun to be down front. I had an unusual moment of self-esteem where I wondered if I looked cute that day or something. (Ha!) I wondered if it was because my shirt was purple, like two of the ladies in my row. Then, more like my usual morbid brain, I suffered a moment of paranoia that this was some bizarre form of intervention set up by my friends and family. Any minute now, Dr. Phil would look down and tell me to come on up. Then I’d be picked apart on national television and never show my face again. Luckily, this was not the case.

At last, it was time to sit, hands stinging from forcible clapping, and I suffered the pangs of self-consciousness, wondering how to sit and resist the urge to rearrange myself. Remember, not five minutes before I’d been half asleep on a gray, drab, silent bus. There had been no time for primping. Imagine someone coming into your room at dawn, shouting you out of bed, racing you downstairs and telling you to jump, scream, clap, make it convincing, and then have cameras aimed in your general direction that the entire world could watch you on ad infinitum.

So what was our show? A follow-up with a family of fourteen children who’d been abused by their cult-leader father. I hadn’t seen the original show – sorry, I don’t watch it – but the giant video screens filled us in. Cheerful.

Things calmed for a minute or two after that. He decided to redo the intro with a warning for parents to make their children leave the room before the episode began. He made a few different versions. I started to relax, nothing being asked of me for a minute. The girls next to me jingled and rattled as they adjusted their clothes, their bracelets, figured out how to fold their hands in their laps. Some older women behind me murmured to each other about how sad this one was, remember when they saw that show, etc.

After a minute, stage hands brought in a tan leather couch, an end table, and a matching chair for Dr. Phil, positioning them on tape markers. A glass of water was placed with touching reverence on a very specific spot upon the table. The audience, well dressed and hushed but for scattered rustling and coughs, made me think of being a little girl in church. All that was missing was soft organ music and beams of sunlight from the stained glass windows, sparkling with microscopic holy dust. But we had stage hands as altar boys, and the cameras substituted nicely for the eye of God. Or maybe Santa Claus. Catching your every naughty and nice moment. I tried to sit still. Wondered what they were piping in with the air in this place.

Show time again. Dr. Phil came back. More footage was shown of the struggles of the grown children of this family, and then three of the sisters came out. They were very near, since I was in the second row.

I listened and thought the craziest things. I obviously wasn’t genuinely in the moment. I was worried about how to hold my face. How to seem engaged enough to be worthy of my seat in the mosh pit without reacting to their story in an offensive way since they were looking right at me half of the time, it seemed.

I found out why it seemed like they were looking at me a minute or two into the show.

Someone on stage made a comment and the man directly in front of me said, “Amen.”

Another comment onstage, and he said it louder, “Amen!”

A moment later, it happened again — louder and more emphatically, “A-MEN!”

My jangly-rattly friends and I stared. Had he felt the church vibe, too? Decide to take a step further?

I had just enough time to wonder if maybe the audience got rowdy at this show, when Dr. Phil turned toward Mr. Amen and said something about how it seemed their brother had something to say.

Then I knew.

I was sitting with the family.

Lord. Hopefully not surrounded. I imagined trying to get a job someday and someone saying, “But aren’t you part of that cult? I saw you on television!” I hadn’t thought about the blue laminated “Reserved – Guest” card before that. I was so out of it. So not a morning person and so jarred out of reality.

Now I didn’t just worry about my face during the possible random audience shots. Now I had to watch my hands. Glancing at the monitor, I seemed to be in the shot when they would talk to those right in front of me – not only the brother but two sisters and their therapist. My hands were right at the level of the brother’s face, just to the side.

I am neurotically self-conscious in day-to-day life. Now I was inwardly freaking about what respectfully folded hands would look like versus the frightened clutching hands of someone under an interrogator’s lamp. I worried that they could see my stomach and strove to pull it in tighter. I could see from my peripheral vision that my hair was a mess and longed to push it behind my shoulder, but I didn’t dare move. I never saw my face on the monitor, just the zone between my neck and chest, but I’ll see when the show comes out just how terrible I looked. It’s all about me, right?

The show went on. The siblings bickered. He said, she said, you’re lying, no you are, etc. I could hardly concentrate. It was just that surreal to me. And I must be a closet narcissist because I kept having thoughts that any minute now, these people might stand up, explain they were all actors, and the show was really all about me after all. Man do I need coffee to be a person in the morning, and I had none yesterday.

Despite all my paranoia, I was having a good time. I swear. It was very interesting.

I thought the commercials were odd. In the mid-nineties, I went to a taping of Bob Barker’s The Price Is Right. They did the show in real time, and Bob would talk to the audience during commercial breaks. On The Dr. Phil Show, he’d say they were going to take a break, a Blue Blazer would clap threateningly in the wings, and we’d all join in. There would be about ten to fifteen seconds of silence, and then we’d all be urged to clap again by the extra loud hands of that same Blazer. Just enough time to wiggle in your seat for a second and glance up at the infinite lights and cameras.

As we entered maybe the fifth or sixth commercial break, a Blazer was abruptly at the end of our aisle, glaring at us. The two girls to my right and I had just been adjusting our shirts, rearranging our hands, wiggling in our seats, and I thought maybe we were in trouble, were being switched for more obedient audience members. He did, in fact, bark, “You three! With me!” Out we went, and he took us back up to where I’d started – first row of the back section. I waved to my husband. They ran out with more chairs for us, and we sat, confused.

I think what happened is they needed our seats for the family members on stage. They came out into the audience for the last shot. Because that was pretty much it. I didn’t even hear what they said or did. It was too quick. And then Dr. Phil left the stage, we all went “nuts,” and then the Blue Blazers were barking at us to leave in sections.

And now I remembered that no one had ever talked to our group that morning. We didn’t have badges, didn’t know each other, had no instructions, and we were being released into a very crowded alley of sorts with more Blue Blazers on patrol, peering at people, calling out things I couldn’t understand. All I knew was there was no Price Is Right on the itinerary anymore, as was the original plan, because I’d done my Googling the night before.

At long last, I thought that one of the guys in the crowd might be with us. I asked him, and, yes, he was. We were pushed aside by some speeding Blue Blazers. The crowd pressed in on us, deafening as they shouted over the din of the HVAC ducts overhead. He didn’t know what we were going to do, but he pointed out the woman who was supposedly our leader.

I worked my way over to her, and she didn’t know the plan. They were calling around to see what to do. She didn’t say anything about TPIR, and I didn’t ask. So more milling ensued, trying not to lose sight of her in the sea of humanity.

Remember: Our phones were on the bus. We were hours from home. If we got stranded, we would be in some trouble.

Coffee arrived, and we joined the throng. I took just one sip, however, before remembering the activities that follow coffee drinking. Mournfully, I watched as my warm, heavy cup fell with a thud into a nearby trash bin. Didn’t need to worry about bathrooms in that chaos.

More roar of the crowd. More roar of the HVAC and other assorted machinery.

And now the Blue Blazers were shouting at us again in the language of Peanuts adults. Out of the wah-wah-wah-wah, I gleaned that the second taping was seating. The anonymous crowd began flowing toward the studio door. My husband said he saw some people from our group in the line. We saw no signs of Fearless Leader. Should we go? We decided yes and allowed the tide to wash us back into the studio.

In we went, and this time a smiling Blue Blazer took us directly to the front row – but all the way to the far left, so not prominent.

This time, we got to hear more from Man with Mugs. This time he was Man with CD Collection — bribes/rewards for a few extroverted audience members. He was the crowd warmer. He warned us of the things I’d figured out on my own before – don’t you dare fidget, pick, adjust, etc. (“Remember, you’re not watching television. You’re making television!”)

After he gave away his prizes, doing the old, “Hi, how are ya, where ya from?” routine, the music and lights went up, and, for some reason, a video of Cher appeared on all the screens. Her music blared, and they set about riling us all up into a screaming mob again. The madness began anew.

This time, the show was about men who needed to re-examine their dreams of a career in music versus taking care of their families. A little more humorous than the last show but still sad at points. David Foster advised them on their prospects – but just from a taped video on the big screens. Actually in the studio was Kimberly Caldwell from American Idol. She was the final guest, advising these guys on how to balance their dreams with their responsibilities.

I was much more relaxed for this show, knowing what to expect, being in a really close but less prominent seat, being allowed to sit with my husband. It was fun.

At the end, Kimberly Caldwell came out and sat about eight seats away from me in our (curved) row. It was so strange. I remember watching season two of American Idol during Hollywood week and the whole “story” they created, vilifying her versus Julia DeMato. I grew to like her as the season progressed, and I’ve seen her host shows and do red carpet stuff, get asked out by David Cook on live TV. I was more excited to see her than Dr. Phil. Nothing against him. I just never watch his show, but I’m a fan of American Idol.

The second taping ended, and we were shooshed into a different chaotic, industrial alley/holding pen. After a long minute or two, we saw our fearless leader handing out phones from a box – I guess a few people didn’t want to leave theirs on the bus. But no one said anything to anyone else. What the heck came next? We didn’t know. It was hard to find a place to stand without getting knocked around or glared at by Blue Blazers.

At long last, a Blue Blazer shouted that our group’s bus was that-a-way, so, obediently, we boarded. Gratefully scooped up our phones. Other people followed. The woman in charge took a halfhearted head count, and then we droned off again into the brown scrub and smog where, within moments, everything we’d experienced turned into a hectic fever dream, impossible, leaving us with a two-hour ride back to a reality far less technicolor than that offered up on reality talk shows.

And, so ends our field trip. Now we have to tape Dr. Phil every day until our shows air. They “couldn’t” (or wouldn’t) tell us when they would air. I can’t wait to see what the shows look like finished. And I hope that if I made it into any of the final shots, I look less like an idiot than I felt.

That's me on the upper left in the gray/purple


Oh No U Don’t

24 Mar


Every time I call a business that uses voice recognition to navigate menus, I just know they’re secretly listening, smothering laughter, and whispering, “She sounds so stupid!” Shouting and over-enunciating are not famous for making one feel dignified.

My desk is covered with rumpled bits of paper bearing what I hope to be genius, the missing Lego pieces in this hamfisted sculpture of a novel. It’s been a good week for that — little bits of inspiration hitting me from all sides, sending me scurrying for napkins, old receipts, crayons, what have you. It’s lovely, and my desk is a satisfying mess.

So I’ll be diving into that for a bit.

In the meanwhile, enjoy this random bit of 1980s Sesame Street fun (featuring Smokey Robinson) that I discovered today while reading reviews of last night’s Motown-themed American Idol. (Go James Durbin!)

On Suns & Moons

19 Mar

I woke this morning to the sound of dragon’s fire. Darth Vader breathing slowly. After flailing weakly, trying to make it shut up, I realized. This is not normal. This sounds like that time…*

Up I stood. I peered through the blinds to the south. No.

Disappointed, I pried open a few blades of my eastern window blinds. YES! Hot air balloon.

A single spire of St. Basil’s Cathedral floated just outside my bedroom — well, just over the rear neighbors’ roofs. It floated in yellow-red-blue glory no more than ten feet above the houses, occasionally pulled upward a few feet by a blast of flame. Howdy tourists! A new reason to keep the blinds drawn when sprawled out in bed. Who knew? Such is life on the outer periphery of semi-desert wine country. The same thing that makes life in these exurbs difficult without a car makes for the occasional picturesque awakening.

I watched bunnies frolic in the mown grass yards of the sole row of houses between us and rural scrub as the Russian spire became the world’s largest bouncy house in the fields beyond. When it gave up with one last floppy swoon, I gave up going back to bed and got online.

Tonight, the moon will be closer to Earth than it’s been since 1983. (Supermoon — sounds like it’s going to don a cape and save the world from evil.) This morning, a pseudo-sun came closer to my house than ever before. Let’s hope these are good omens and will bring me some writing energy in addition to interesting views out my back windows.

Wishing you all a super Supermoon day!

*At some point in the 1990s, a hot air balloon skimmed close to the roof of my parents’ house, and we all ran out onto their deck to watch its passage.

Life in the Bermuda Triangle

9 Mar

What do you get when you combine the following?

  • strep throat
  • lingering influenza
  • migraines
  • an emergency root canal, extraction, crown, and fillings for one’s kindergartner
  • a husband working long painful hours
  • a broken axle followed by a complete engine fail on one of your two (aging) cars (leaving you stranded since said husband has the other car with him at work day and night)
  • ongoing deposits of mutilated rabbit parts in your side yard from some unknown predator*
  • etc.

My month! Woohoo!

It’s all made extra special by the fact that we owe $$$ in taxes this year, and that we have a bad, bad, bad case of The Economy, doing things previously unknown outside of games like Monopoly or Life. So, yeah, this one-car situation? It’s gonna last.


Nevertheless, things go on. I haven’t had a single speck of inspiration for blogging, and I’ve been kind of caving it from the outside world (working on a long hermit beard), but I’ve been reading like crazy, and, better, I’m writing. Nothing special. Nothing good. Nothing important. And that makes it all the better. I just sit down, dim-minded, and I go, just see what happens. I’ve written 22k words over the past two weeks. I’m grateful. It’s made a big difference.

I also have the distraction of American Idol — hours of frothy television I’m actually happy to watch this year. Let us never speak of last year again. (And, if anyone cares, I’m rooting for James Durbin and Casey Abrams.)

So, relevancy shall return, but, for now, I leave you with a few funnies. First, a short from Britanick Comedy. Second, an ad that makes me happy — cats with thumbs!

*[ETA: The predator revealed itself today — a redtail hawk who ate two pigeons in our yard to entertain my children.]

I Require an Aslan Doorknocker

21 Jan

Dear Certain Moms at My Sons’ School,

I look like Attila the Hun in sweats or basic crewneck t-shirts and jeans. That’s why I don’t wear them like everyone else. You’re younger, thinner, and richer. I’m older. I get to dress weird. So don’t give me those looks.

Also, the reason you have to honk at me to move forward in line while dropping off my son is not because I’m stupid and using the phone or texting. It’s because I’ve been idling for twenty minutes and started reading my Nook and got pulled in by the pretty writing and forgot where I was. So I’m stupid and using a device — but literarily. You see the difference now. And don’t give me that look.

Thank you for your time



My first grader is reading The Chronicles of Narnia right now, and I’m just giddy. Mr. Untitlement read the first few books to them at bedtime, and my son read Prince Caspian on his own. Now he’s on to one of my favorites: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I took him to see the movie the other day.

Which leads me to wonder…

Why is there no Voyage of the Dawn Treader play set? Where is the toy ship with the plastic people and talking mouse? Where is the plastic Eustace As Dragon figurine?

Thimbles and thunderstorms!

All the toys are from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Prince Caspian. They have a plastic version of every critter in the battle from PC, but no Dawn Treader? Come on!

I fell in love with a set of Aslan/White Witch bookends during my shopping quest, however. Must save up. Gollum and the Watchers of Rauros are getting lonely. (I’m entering my forties. It’s mandated by law that I collect figurines as I age. I’m going to make mine as strange as possible, though, and imagine them lurking in dark corners of an imagined future home library where all the books have gilded spines. If The Stand had figurines, I’d… Well, I’d probably avoid those. M-O-O-N — that spells nevermind.)

Weeklong migraines are not good for me.

Shorter, more useful posts soon.

The Anniversary of DOOM

16 Jan

I’ve noticed something recently.

Nearly every blog I read is roughly one year old.

Now, why is that?

Is it near the one year mark that one hits one’s stride and gains a widespread following?

Or…should I be…afraid?

What precisely happens to a blog that’s, say, one and a HALF?

[Insert Twilight Zone theme]

(Don’t give me that “because they all started as a New Year’s resolution” song and dance. I detect something more sinister. Because it’s more entertaining that way.)

P.S. — Hi, entire writing blogosphere! I’m reading Save the Cat, too! Great book. And I love how he saves the cat on page xv of the Introduction. A perfect, engaging example to prove he knows what he’s talking about.

What Were They Reading When You Were Born?

10 Jan

A fun dealie-bobber, courtesy of the fine folks at the Office of Letters and Light today. We’ve all seen the site where you can find out what the number one song was on the day you were born. Now there’s a literary version!***

If you go to Biblioz and enter the pertinent data, you’ll find out the fiction and non-fiction bestsellers from the week you were born. (Be sure to use the correct date format of DATE-MONTH-YEAR, not MONTH-DATE-YEAR.) Then your job is to come back here and report your findings in the comment section below.

I did it. I was imagining happy little families out in the happy little maternity ward waiting room, reading happy little stories, awaiting my birth.

Which books were they, I wondered.

Well. Lemme tell ya.



Is it any wonder I turned out the way I did?

What were your books? I look forward to the answers.

*** Brilliant reader M. Howalt pointed out that BibliOZ can be used as a tool for writers who are researching a particular time period for their stories!


7 Jan
Vivian Maier self portrait

Vivian Maier: Nanny or Great Photographer?

See the video below…

A late nanny’s possessions reveal hundreds of thousands of negatives, tremendous unknown talent, and a vivid portrait of mid-century Chicago.

I want to go to Chicago. I want to help scan the photos. I want to see them all.

This is the kind of story that makes me greedy — unearthing history, art, and the mind of the mysterious photographer. One hundred thousand moments of Ms. Maier’s life & Chicago history, many never before  seen.

And that’s what makes it most exciting of all — that there is still uncharted territory, new treasure to be found.

Naturally, I’ve been waxing philosophical about the story. I won’t bore you with the details, but, basically, I’m thinking about how we can see exactly what the photographer saw and get a feel for her opinion on each subject, but we will never know the exact story or what she was thinking. And maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe the raw image and the viewer’s reaction is the story.

With a writer, you can read the story and what the author was thinking, but you can only catch a glimpse of the actual images in the author’s mind. Unless the author is a talented artist, no one will ever see what they see, no matter how evocative their descriptions. And maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe the images created in the readers’ minds are more important.

But back to Vivian Maier…

I have a box of glass stereoscopic slides from the 1920s-30s, showing random scenes of Chicago. One thing I love about them is they’re not professional — just amateur photos from a family who lived in the Beverly Woods neighborhood. They aren’t as clear or artistic as these, but they’re pretty nice, and they are in 3D, which adds an element of magic to unguarded moments of the past:  horse-drawn buggies mingling with automobiles downtown, landmark buildings surrounded by others which have since been torn down, old cemeteries, an airship over skyscrapers, their rather Edwardian living room, etc. And you feel like you can reach right through the age spots, peeling corners, and scratches into that black and white world. Grab it. I hope that someday I can scan them before they decay too far.

The Misery of a Happy Song

30 Dec

Ever had a story or experience change the entire nature of a song for you?

It happened to me when Kurt Vonnegut used Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” in Mother Night. Nazis and spies and betrayal, oh my. Diana Ross will always zap me back to the morning of a heart-rending breakup. And, for no reason I can pinpoint, the song at the beginning of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sends me into reeling, anguished, superstitious panic. The song has a name. I don’t want to think about it enough to remember it. I felt that way about the song before that movie existed, and the movie’s theme of intentional amnesia/buried memory  just makes it worse.

Those examples are due to external associations, but I can cause the shift myself, especially since I took up writing.

I’m writing a novel, so obviously I can’t actually set a chapter to music, but I do have songs that evoke scenes in my head when I hear them. One is “How Can I Be Sure” by the Young Rascals. I’d wanted to use it somehow, but it always seemed cheesy for a happy scene, verging on Eighties Musical Makeover Montage territory. Then my sister told me I had to use it. Always one to obey orders (not), I complied because I’d had a twisted idea.

Funny how making a happy waltzy song the soundtrack for the violent end to a controlling, abusive relationship changes it altogether. Why did I ever think that was a happy song? It’s creepy! And paranoid! Rather threatening. And, if I listen to the singer’s voice now, he sounds rather desperate, bitter, jealous.

But maybe that’s just me.

I also cry my eyes out over songs like “Warmth of the Sun” and “Something”. Again, my fault.

Still, seriously, look at these lyrics!

How can I be sure
In a world that’s constantly changin’?
How can I be sure
Where I stand with you?

Whenever I
Whenever I am away from you
I wanna die
’cause you know I wanna stay with you

How do I know?
Maybe you’re trying to use me
Flying too high can confuse me
Touch me but don’t take me down
[that last bit sounds like a threat]

Whenever I
Whenever I am away from you
My alibi is tellin’ people I don’t care for you
Maybe I’m just hanging around
With my head up, upside down
It’s a pity
I can’t seem to find someone
Who’s as pretty ‘n’ lovely as you
[sarcasm or obsession?]

How can I be sure
I really, really, really, wanna kno-o-ow
I really, really, really, wanna kno-o-ow

(Oh oh oh …)

How’s the weather?
Whether or not we’re together
Together we’ll see it much better
I love you, I love you forever
You know where I can be found

How can I be sure
In a world that’s constantly changing?
How can I be sure
I’ll be sure with you


The Young Rascals – How Can I Be Sure lyrics


Is it just me? 😉

Literary Christmas Genius

25 Dec

Proof that my sister is a creative genius.

Oz gift theme

This is the third year in a row that she’s created a literary theme for her gifts. I love them.

This year was The Wizard of Oz.

  • Ruby slippers (literally slippers)
  • poppy seeds
  • lions and tigers and bears (oh my)
  • emerald earrings (green crystal & silver, she made them)
  • apples (a la the angry trees in the movie)
  • a silver heart frame (tin man)
  • a book of word puzzles (scarecrow/brain)
  • a bottle of Professor Marvel’s Liquid Courage for the Cowardly Lion (mini wine bottle with a custom label she created)
  • Wizard & Gale’s Wicked Witch Repellant (bottled water with a custom label she created)
  • a gingerbread village to represent home

Last year was Alice in Wonderland.

  • tea
  • teacup
  • drink me (soda)
  • eat me (a cupcake, not shown, eaten)
  • pea soup (more pepper)
  • marzipan (in lieu of mushrooms)

The inaugural year, 2008, she did Little House on the Prairie.

  • a “tin cup”
  • sticks of candy
  • little heart-shaped, golden-brown cake
  • a shiny new penny

On Snippets & Scarves

10 Dec

I like to knit. I can knit like the wind (or…something that actually, um, knits) as long as it’s in a straight line. I only find time to knit about once a year, so I lose all my knitting wisdom and have to start over from scratch. But man am I good at those long fringed rectangles I call scarves.

Since NaNoWriMo ended, I’ve transferred my compulsive energy into pounding out stitches instead of words. At first, I felt guilty. It seemed like procrastination or escape from my stories, but I realized the other day that it’s actually more of a meditation tool. Instead of sitting blankly before my laptop with nothing more to show at the end of the day than a few lame Facebook posts and useless knowledge gleaned from StumbleUpon, I now have a fuzzy and functional work of art and all the purls of wisdom (yeah, had to go there) I gained from each stitch. (Insert weaving stories comment here.)

I think it’s my inner editor who knits while the rest of me goes into self-hypnosis, listening to my novel’s soundtrack and daydreaming the stories I want to write.

Inspiration is like a cat. Chase it, and it runs, skirts around the sofa, shudders as you touch it, then spends an hour cleaning your stink off its fur. Okay, maybe not that last part. However, if you’re doing something else, inspiration is all around your ankles, slithering and striking its forehead against your leg, begging for attention.

And inspiration, like an ornery cat, loves a wiggling ball of yarn.

Now I just have to get back to the writing so that my prose doesn’t suffer the fate of my knitting skills.


Anyone have other suggestions for productive procrastination? Because I don’t want to go back to alphabetizing the lint on my living room carpet…


My NaNoWriMo novel is taking a hiatus right now, but I’ve been putting a few scenes out there for the world to sample. I have three sample chapters on my writing site, and, despite my terror, I read 500 words of a chapter to my regional NaNo group this past weekend. No one hurled rotten tomatoes. I’ll take that as a good sign.

I’m also submitting a 500-word snippet for the following blogfest (click image for link):

As always, it comes with the terror of showing my writing and the worse terror of putting it out there and getting nothing back except the faint, sparse sound of crickets.

I look forward to reading others’ excerpts, though.

(P.S. – Went to the happiest amusement park on earth again yesterday for my birthday. Thursdays trump Saturdays, every time. People were thoughtful, polite, friendly, and said crazy things like please and thank you and sorry. Also, my soda was topped by a birthday candle floating on a lemon slice, it being my special day and all. I’ve never blown out the candle on a Diet Coke before.)