Saturday, October 22, 2011

FWA Conference–Day 2

*Woke up at 5:00am.  Again.

6:47am:  Double checked for wallet before leaving the house.

7:10am:  Arrived at the conference and had more eggs.  Yum.

8:30am - 4:00pm:  Attended break-out sessions, took tons of notes and learned a lot.

4:23pm:  Was asked by the President of FWA if I would be interested working at the conference next year, helping with agent interviews.

4:24pm:  Like any professional, I asked the President of the FWA if I could have time to think about it and thanked her.

4:25pm:  Turned on my heel and did a mini fist pump.

4:26pm – 10:04pm:  Spent the remainder of the day in a haze of conference bliss and networking.

11:23pm:  I am so exhausted but I’m having a great time!

Friday, October 21, 2011

On being prepared

I decided to buy a drink for one of the agents I had spoken with earlier in the day, only to find out I had left my wallet at home. 

She graciously paid (because we had already ordered) and then offered me a seat at the faculty table during dinner. 

I am an idiot. A very lucky idiot. 

Sent from my iPhone

How to promote your blog

Here is a great link with tips on how to promote your blog:

I've pasted the text below:

Promoting Your Blog

This is in no way a science or guarantee; it's simply a few suggestions with which many bloggers have found success.
Set your blog to Send Pings. When this setting is activated, your blog will be included in various "recently updated" lists on the web as well as other blog-related services.

Activate Your Navbar. Do this and you might start to see the effects right away! One of the features on the Blogger Navbar is a button called NextBlog - click it to visit the next Navbar-enabled blog.

Install Email This Post. If you use Email This Post on your blog, people will be able to forward your posts to friends. This may not have an immediate impact on your site stats but it enables others to publicize your blog for you.

Turn on Post Pages. By publishing every post as its very own web page with Post Pages, you ensure that your entries are way more link-able and more attractive to search engines.

Turn on your site feed. When people subscribe to your site feed in their newsreaders, they're very likely going to read your post.

Add your blog to Blogger's listings. When you add your blog to our listingsit shows up in Nextblog, Recently Updated, and other places. It's like opting-in to traffic.

Write quality content and do it well. If your "style" is bad writing, worse grammar, no punctuation, and an ugly design, that might be okay for a niche crowd. But the idea here is to achieve mass appeal, so fix yourself up a bit.

Publish regular updates. Simple: the more you blog, the more traffic you'll get.

Think of your audience. A good way to build an audience is to speak to one in particular. When you keep your audience in mind, your writing gains focus. Focus goes a long way toward repeat visitors.

Keep search engines in mind. There are a few things you can do to make your blog more search engine friendly. Use post titles and post page archiving. This will automatically give each of your post pages an intelligent name based on the title of your post. Also, try to be descriptive when you blog. A well crafted post about something very specific can end up very near the top results of a search.

Keep your posts and paragraphs short. Strive for succinct posts that pump pertinent new information into the blogosphere and move on. Keep it short and sweet so visitors can pop in, read up, and click on.

Put your blog URL in your email signature. Think of how many forwarded emails you've seen in your day, and just imagine the possibilities.

Sumbit your address to blog search sites and directories. People look for blog content at Technorati every day, are you on their list? You should be. Submit your blog's url to TechnoratiDaypopBlogdexPopdex, and any other site of that ilk you come across.

Link to other blogs. Links are the currency of the blogosphere and it takes money to make money so start linking.

Install a blogroll. It's a very simple yet effective social networking scheme and it has the same result as a simple link if not stronger: traffic! So if you don't have one yet, sign up for a blogroll and get that link-list going.

Be an active commenter. This is in the same vein as linking. Most comment systems also provide a way for you to leave a link back to your blog which begs a visit at the very least. So if you feel inspired, leave a comment or two in your blog travels. It behooves you.

Enable Following on your blog. Following a is a great way to keep your friends updated on the latest activity on your blog. New blogs will have this blog feature enabled by default, but for older blogs you will have to enable it from the Layout | Page Elements tab.

Live Blogging from the FWA Conference

The Florida's Writers Association Conference is in full-swing and the excitement is contagious!I will live blog throughout the conference to allow my hoards of fans to follow my progress. Networking and negotiating moves fast! Refresh often!

*Woke up at 5:20am

7:03am: Arrived at the hotel and received my name tag and goody bag.

7:08am: Found a seat next to a Senior Exhibitor and Publisher at the breakfast table.

7:14am: Choked down some buffet-grade scrambled eggs.

7:18am:  Modified my name tag.

7:21am: Stuttered out my pitch to a publisher and decided I neeed moooore coffeeeeee.

7:48am: Passed out my business cards like Halloween candy and headed to my first breakout session on e-publishing.

7:51am: Went pee.

8:42am:  Butt started going numb.  Shifted in my seat.  A lot.

8:45am - 5pm: Wrote 2500 words in notes which has made it difficult to live blog.

11:43am: Was called upon for a question in a break-out session and the presenter called me "Lady in Red."  The name has stuck.  I'm wearing this color all weekend.

12:00pm: Ate a conference grade cheeseburger from the buffet and half of a deviled egg.

12:36pm:  Suffered from heartburn.  Took a Zantac.

1:20pm:  Felt relief.  Peed for the 7th time.

5:15pm:  Met with two agents and pitched my book idea.  Things look promising!

5:26pm:  Ran home to let the dog out.

5:48pm:  Took a prophylactic Zantac.

5:49pm:  Restocked business card stash.

5:51pm:  Rushing back to conference for reception and dinner.

6:14pm:  Casually approach the friendly and informative agent I spoke with earlier during the panel discussion, thank her for her time and offer to buy her a drink.  She accepts.

6:15pm:  Order a glass of White Zinfandel for my lovely book agent friend and a glass of Chardonnay for myself.

6:16pm:  Dig into purse to retrieve wallet and begin blindly groping the walls of said purse for a wallet that is clearly missing.

6:17pm:  Realize I have left my wallet in my briefcase at home and I have NO MONEY. NONE.

6:18pm:  Desperately look at the bartender, pleading with my eyes, “Dude, hook me up!  She’s an AGENT!”  Bartender is so not getting it.

6:19pm:  The Agent graciously offers to pay for her and my drink and I want to crawl under a table and cry.  She calls me over to a table to talk. 

6:24pm:  We are hitting it off fabulously (despite the fact I’m a bumbling idiot) and the jokes start rolling.

6:32pm:  She laughs at my wit and sarcasm and then I did the UNTHINKABLE.

6:33pm:  I RAPPED my book pitch to her.  To the tune of Paul Revere by the Beastie Boys.

6:33pm:  Other people looked at me.  Me - The Lady in Red.


6:34pm:  She loved it and laughed!  She told me I need to include that bit on the “About the Author” back jacket of my book.

6:45pm:  We were ushered from the lovely patio into the dining room for dinner. 

6:45pm:  Lovely Agent offered me a seat at the FACULTY TABLE so we could continue our conversation. 

Holy shit, I ate dinner with an AGENT!

Today was a good day.  More to come tomorrow!

*Thanks for the support, Everyone!*

Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 Florida Writers Conference – Part 1

Tomorrow I am attending my first writers conference, namely the FWA Annual Conference.  It is held in my home town, literally minutes from my house which means I don’t get to stay in a nice hotel and have people make my bed for me every day have to incur the costs of lodging or pack, well, anything at all! 

The lack of packing has thrown me WAY off my game.  I’ve not made lists of items to pack or lists of things to do, broken down by day and I’ve not made a list of my lists.  I’m pretty useless without my lists. 

I did manage to have my business cards made and delivered on time.  I am pleased with the design and my name is spelled correctly (with all those i's and n’s and s’s, even I get confused sometimes). 

I’m not thrilled with the quality of the card stock, even though I ordered the premium quality.  They feel kinda cheap and thin, like I bought the business card stock at Office Max and printed them myself.  The good news is that I only ordered 500, so I’ll be able to re-order from a different vendor in oh, 6 years or so. 

I was thinking maybe I’ll tape a blow-pop to them to spice them up a bit, and if I’m feeling really industrious I can even include a pirated copy of Kidz Bops 19 album.   Works for birthday parties!  And besides, who doesn’t love a blow-pop?

Sometime before tomorrow I need to create memorize perfect my book pitch.  I need to sell myself and book idea to agents and publishers in 30 seconds or less.  I should probably come up with an ending to my story.  Yeah, that’d be good.  I was going all “just let the story tell itself” until I realized that potential agents want a pitch that includes the entire story. 

Maybe I should sing my book pitch.  Or set it to a 1990’s rap song and change the lyrics to tell my story.

“Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell

about this chick and her husband she don’t know so well.

It started way back, in history

With husband/wife, another bitch and infidelity!”


Maybe I can wear an eye-catching t-shirt that reads:

F*ck the Grammar Police!

Um, Blow-pop anyone?

blow pops

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unimaginable Idiocy

When I was 15 years old, my boyfriend lavished me with gifts for Christmas.  I got perfume by Guess, CDs by Erasure and Wilson Phillips, and my first pair of Dr. Martens.


Doc Martens

Lastly was a fragrance set from Victoria’s Secret, nestled in adorable container that resembled a mini hat box.  I loved that little box – almost as much as much as I loved my own.  I was prudish and virginal, but my boyfriend bought me something from Victoria’s Secret!  It wasn’t sexy or scandalous, but it was from Victoria’s Secret, damnit so it felt sexy and scandalous and I wasn’t going to let anything happen to that little box.

(I apparently felt the same way about my own box because I held out on my poor boyfriend until I was in college.)

Anyway, I still have that little, circular box; I use it to store fingernail polish (the one from Victoria’s Secret).  I have 18 or so bottles of fingernail polish stuffed into the little box, some of the bottles as old as the box itself. 

Although nail polish storage seems a mundane assignment for my beloved box, don’t let it fool you.  My box has followed me through high school, college, 11 moves, marriage, parenthood and has survived the anarchy of my closet.  It is my hidden treasure, disguised as a mere vessel for vials of nitrocellulose.  It is the last trinket I possess from my first love.

Saturday night I was rummaging through my closet looking for my Wilson Phillips cd 32-gig thumb drive containing my cool and current music collection, when my box fell from the top shelf in my closet and landed with a sharp tink!  Thinking that didn’t sound good, I calmly picked up the box and brought it to the kitchen sink. 

I am very cool under pressure.  I always keep my head about me, yes I do.  I’m the person you want around when the shit hits the fan.  Just sayin’. 

The pungent smell of formaldehyde wafted from inside.  I unzipped the lid, tooth by zippered tooth, steeling myself for the unseen horrors.  Lifting the top, I found a bottle of blood-red nail polish had shattered and oozed its sticky contents inside my box.  I took in a sharp breath (got a little contact high in the process) and took immediate action.  I channeled Maverick from Top Gun: You don’t have time to think up there.  If you think, you’re dead. 

Save the polish! I thought and grabbed bottle after bottle of blood-red spattered mess.  I’ll just give these a quick rinse, ooh a shard of glass!  Get that! Quickly, Shannon, before any more of this skin-staining PAINT gets all over you!

Yeah, this is where the Unimaginable Idiocy makes its garish entrance. 


It was about this time that I started vigorously rubbing my hands together under the tap and I discovered the paint was filled with tiny shards of glass.


Fingernail polish remover!  Certainly that will work.  Let me just douse my hands with it and rub…HOLY SHIT THE LITTLE CUTS OHMYGODSOMEBODY! SAVE ME FROM MYSELF PLEASE!!

Mineral spirits?  Nope.

When all else fails, I turn to Google.  Google knows everything.  Google told me to just soak my hands in warm water for 20 minutes and the polish would just wipe right off.

Google lied. 

I walked around with “blood” on my hands for two days before it finally came off.  My skin now feels like sandpaper from the abuse of harsh chemicals and I’m left staring at the remaining victims of this tragedy.

Innocent Victims

Friday, October 07, 2011

Book review: Be Mine

Be Mine by Laura Kasischke
Harvest, Orlando
  Be Mine
Be Moved
Be Mine by Laura Kasischke is a story about Sherry Seymour: a middle-aged English professor, a wife of twenty years and a mother-turned-empty nester. Sherry is content in her average, middle-aged life. But this is not an average, middle-age story. On Valentine’s Day, Sherry finds a note in her inbox scrawled with the words, “Be mine.” The idea of a secret admirer titillates Sherry’s imagination, and her husband’s loins. Excited by the idea of his wife being the focus of another man’s amorous intentions, Jon encourages Sherry to seek out her petitioner. As the notes become more frequent and intense, the notion of a lover settles nicely into Mrs. Seymour’s psyche. Through some seductive reasoning and a strong implication from her son’s childhood friend, Sherry finds her man and begins her libidinous affair. Laden with post-coital guilt, Sherry confesses her adulterous trysts to her husband. And he likes it! He even asks her to talk about it while he has sex with her. And she does. Spreading herself [thin] between her possessive lover and her perpetually aroused husband, Sherry finds her behavior makes her feel extremely sexy, slightly bamboozled and a little sore. The “coitus descriptus” is enough to bring any middle-aged woman out of menopause, with descriptions steamier than night sweats in July.
“He kissed my shoulder, where he’d bitten me before. He ran his tongue down the inside of my arm to the elbow. He moved down to my legs, kissed the skinned knees – first the left, which had begun to heal, and the right, which stung under his lips and made me flinch. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, then moved back up, kissed my shoulder again, and then moved down my arm, from the elbow to my wrist. He kissed it. He bit it lightly. He took the wrist in his hand and pinned it over my head, then the other. He said…”
I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination, although Kasischke fills in the gaps graphically.
Sherry Seymour continues with her double-duty sex life while the winter melts into spring. She seems to show little remorse from her infidelity, admitting she is having fun; besides what’s the harm if her husband doesn’t mind?
Meanwhile Sherry struggles with her maternal guilt. Her son, Chad returns from college and she doesn’t recognize the boy in the man before her. Kasischke’s poetic and heartfelt descriptions of the mother-child relationship are spot on. She is able to capture the subtle nuances of motherhood in concise and effective passages. The dichotomy of philandering wife to devoted mother creates a sense of unrest, ultimately adding to the brilliantly built suspense of the novel. Kasischke erects a solid, likeableness in Sherry Seymour. When Sherry’s husband takes his fantasies to a new, dangerous level, sympathy for Sherry swells. Both men involved demand more of Sherry, sending her life into a tailspin that threatens her job, her marriage and her son.
Be Mine is an erotic and poignant novel, with a building suspense that erupts in an unforgettable and unexpected climax.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

So “F-ing” cute

In his preschool class, Max is working his way through the alphabet, one letter each week.  We have such fun finding words each week, ya know words like “eradicate” and “elusive.”  Max’s favorite was “epithelial.”  I think I see a future in the medical field!  Especially after he stuck out his tongue and showed me his Ebner glands and drew a picture of the Ebola virus!  “Mommy! Look!  Eh-eh-epidemic!” 
This week, naturally, is “F” week.  While we were getting ready for school on Tuesday morning, Max told me we need to work on our F-words.  I need no help at all with my F-words, thank you very much, but of course I never, ever drop an F-bomb in the presence of my little darlings.  Ever.
“F-f-fall!” Max exclaimed!
“Great job, Maxwell!”
“F-f-fire truck!”
“That’s right, Buddy!”
Looking around the bathroom, he started adding f’s to random words:
“No, Sweetie, those aren’t words.”
“That isn’t a word either, Max.”  I thought I could use this line of denial to deter him from stuttering obscenities during circle time.
“Yes it is, Mom!  Listen! F-f-fuck! Fuck!”
“Ok, fine.  It’s a word. But it’s a really bad word so don’t you dare say that at school or you’ll get into big trouble and have to sit in the office all day! And your teacher will wonder what kind of effing mother I am such that my three-year-old knows the F-word and can probably use it in context. 
I F-f-finished brushing his hair and just waited for him to F-f-flip me the F-f-finger before running off but instead I got a “Fanks, Mom!” and he tossed me up this one:

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Dear Sam,
Happy birthday, Bananas!  What a whirlwind year five was, and here we are celebrating your 6th birthday.  Looking back over the last year I think of all the things you did and the things that happened to you and I’m glad to have a new year, a fresh start. 
You started your fifth year with a selfless deed – you donated all your birthday gifts to a local ministry to help kids in need.  You pulled each gift out of the box and placed them in Sister Rose’s lap, pausing to show her each one so she could get a good look.  You hugged her tight before we drove away and I watched you look out the window at the happy kids waving to us from the dilapidated front porch.  What were you thinking in that moment?  Did you realize what a mature and wonderful thing you did?  You never even complained about not getting birthday gifts that year.  You astounded me that day.
A few months later you were struck with that horrible infection.  You were faced with daily visits to the doctor, surgery and antibiotics that couldn’t fight the bacteria.  We both learned how to take deep breaths and focus on happy things during the frequent and painful bandage changes.  You cried and screamed and when I finally lost it and cried with you, you hugged me and rubbed my back.  You are so strong, Sam.  You overwhelmed me that day.
In the spring you rode your bike around the block all by yourself.  It was the first time I’d let you out of my sight while playing outside.  Your smile was breathtaking when you came around the corner that first lap. The freedom was exhilarating!  You must’ve gone around 11 times.  You pumped your legs to straighten your wobbly bike before taking off again, smiling at me each time you passed.  You made me smile that day.
This summer saw more medical drama as the lingering effects of the strong antibiotics took a toll on your tummy.  What started as a stomach bug turned into an endoscopy and an overnight stay in the hospital.  You couldn’t eat for days and you were in such pain.  The MRSA was gone, but it wasn’t finished with you yet.  You steeled yourself and made it through another horrible ordeal.  “If I drink the chalky stuff that the doctor wants me to drink, can I get a red Light Saber, Mom?”  You did it.  You are so tough, Sam.  You touched me that day.
Kindergarten started and you transitioned seamlessly.  You have made new friends and you are such a good boy.  Do you remember we were late on your first day because you had to poop right before we left?  What a funny memory we made!  You came home one afternoon and told me you were chosen as Student of the Month for displaying the character trait of “respect.”  Wow! What an accomplishment.  You certainly have my respect.  You impressed me that day.
Five was a good year.  You learned a lot, you endured a lot.  I can’t believe how different you look; you are growing up before my very eyes.
Sam 5      

Sam 6
For year six, you told me you want to learn how to ride a skateboard and how to read better.  You can do it, Sam.  I believe in you.  I love you as everything I see.  Happy birthday my sweet son.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Time management and priorities

I finally decided after five weeks (FIVE WEEKS) that it was time to go see the doctor about my sinuses.  This whole kids-in-school thing has thrown me off my game because I usually only wait a good month before remembering to take care of myself.  What? I thought my nose was stuffy for 35 days because getting up at 6am is not humane, at least not for this girl.  I swear, were it not for Pledge Week on NPR coupled by my deepest wish for them to just shut the hell up already, I’ll give you money if I don’t have to listen to you ask for it anymore, Sam would have missed the entire week.  Don’t worry, Number 34, the responsible one, called out into my brain each morning that this time school actually counts.  Number 6 told 34 to fuck off and I dragged myself and ALL of my personalities out of bed.  My head pounded because it was still dark outside and my face hurt because, well, I didn’t know why.  It just did.

So five weeks later with a head full of snot thick enough to lay bricks, I headed to the doctor.  I couldn’t believe the diagnosis.  Wait for it…wait…I have a sinus infection!  Crazy, huh?  Whooda thunk?  I guess it’s not normal to have post nasal drip ALL THE DAMN TIME.   I am also three pounds heavier than the last time I weighed myself, (which was 12 pounds heavier than the last time I happily weighed myself) but it was totally because I was wearing jeans and shoes and earrings and I had not had my morning constitutional.  Hot.

But there is good news!  I got a prescription for some really strong antibiotics which will knock this infection right out and likely turn my girly bits into an Easy Bake Oven.  I got some steroids which will catapult my appetite into Do-I-Have-Any-Maternity-Pants-Around-Here-Land.  I also got some nasal spray that feels like I’m shooting liquid wasabi into my brain, it BURNS! BURNS! but then quickly subsides and leaves me with that watery-eyed buzz I get every time I eat sushi. 

In a pout, I shopped while I waited for my prescriptions and I filled my cart with yogurt.  I plan to OD on acidophilus to avoid the yeast party in my pants.  I also caved and bought a cinnamon broom that looks full and festive when there are 25 of them in a basket, but pretty stringy and pathetic on its own. 

photo (3)

By the time this broom loses its smell, I’ll be back to my old self and ready to ride it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

Baby in Kindergarten 
My baby got out of the car today and walked away from me. I sat behind the wheel and watched his diapered bottom toddle down the breezeway, watched as he stumbled and caught himself with palms flat on the sidewalk. Tears filled my eyes as he straightened himself, as much as he could with the wide stance and sway-back swagger of a toddler. I was in disbelief the elementary school allowed my baby to enter its doors. I blinked away tears that threatened to fall and my son turned back to smile at me. He waved at me, as if he was wiping the steam off the bathroom mirror. With each swipe of his hand a year was wiped away and I smiled back at my five-year old. He turned his slender shoulders as a teacher touched him on the back, guiding him to his classroom. I glanced at his skinny, endless legs atop shoes that looked too big to fit and I could still see his chubby legs that once carried him across our carpeted family room floor. I took a shaky breath as Sam disappeared into the building. I pulled out into the school zone and maintained my speed all the way home.
Freed at last! I had five and a half glorious hours during which I didn't referee a fight, answer unanswerable questions or listen to Dora screaming from my TV. I didn't listen to Kidz Bopz, I didn't eat my lunch standing at the kitchen counter, and I didn't use my “mom voice” until the day was half over. I'd waited for this, longed for this freedom and now that I had it I felt, well changed.
I had such mixed feelings about school. I felt as though I was starting a 16-year sentence that would govern my life schedule, sleep schedule and sanity. I couldn't take off to the beach on a random Wednesday, and I couldn't have pajama day with the kids just because we felt like it. I realized unlike preschool, attendance mattered.

However, I was excited about the things Sam would learn. I was anxious to start a routine with him and build a foundation from which he'd grow his academics. I hoped I wouldn't push my perfectionism issues onto my son. I wanted him to give it his all and for him to know I’d be happy with that. I needed to BE happy with that, even if that meant my child wasn't the smartest, or tallest, or best-behaved. I realized wanting your child to be their best is much different than being the best. Was that a lesson I was able to impart? Could I accept the imperfections within myself and show him I loved him without conditions? Wow, I thought.  Kindergarten is so much harder the second time around.

So there I was. The culmination of everything I'd taught Sam for the five short years I'd had him came to this. He started school and left the security of my arms. As he learned about math, science and language arts, I'd  learn about my child. I'd learn what he is like when I’m not around. I would see how he handled peer pressure, academic pressure and his personal pressure to succeed or be cool. I imagined my little Sam standing in the middle of a circle with hundreds of different paths shooting out from the center. Which path would he choose? Would I still make an impact when he was gone so many hours each day? How would I let him choose his own path with the knowledge that one day he'd fail and all I could do was help pick him up? How involved should I be? When was being an involved Mom a hindrance to a child’s growth? Should I join the PTA?  Was it just a grown-up version of high school student council? Was I ready to be involved in the politicking and bullshit that surely went along with the bake sales and fundraisers? How would I feel when Sam would rather spend time with his friends, or alone in his room than be with me? How soon would that time come? Would school change my son or would it simply bring out the traits that had been simmering beneath the surface all along? Would Sam be a leader? A nerd or a jock? How would he find his place on the social web or did any of that really matter? Would he share his day with me or give me one-word answers when I ask him how his day was? Would his teachers encourage him about learning or would the dreaded standardized tests ruin his potential?

These questions and worries swirled in my mind as I wandered through my silent house. The toys were picked up, the kitchen was clean, and the laundry was rolling. I shook the sadness from my shoulders and plopped down on the couch. Hm, I kinda like the quiet. I could get used to this. I closed my eyes for a moment when my phone alarm went off.
It was time for pickup.
Boy in Kindergarten

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Lady Gaga - Wake up!

My two little boys love to tell jokes.  Most of them go something like this:

"Hey Mom!  Why did the chicken cross the road?"

"I don't know, why?"

"Because he's a party coconut-head!"

Knee-slapping, belly laughter ensues and then my two-year old repeats the same joke verbatim.

I crack up right along with them, and when I'm feeling especially charitable I will throw in a knee slap of my own.

Yesterday however, my son told me a joke that was actually funny!

He asked, "How do you wake up Lady Gaga?"

I have to admit, he got me that time.  I genuinely laughed and listened as he told me another:

"What do you call a teacher who doesn't fart in public?"
"A private tutor!"

I was in hysterics!  Who knew my 5-year old had such a sense of humor?  More to the point, where was he getting this stuff?

It was my little guy's turn to tell his jokes, so we all quieted down, turned toward him and waited for the parroting to begin.

He asked, "How do you wake up Lady Gaga?"

Yep, I'm pretty sure that'd do it.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Lovely Bones: A review

A haunting tale of a young girl who was brutally raped and murdered by her neighbor, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold chilled me to mine. The story hooked me immediately when Susie Salmon, the main character, states, "I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Susie took a shortcut while walking home from school when she was lured into an underground hideaway kept by her neighbor. There she was raped and killed. Sparing gore or graphic content, Sebold created a scene that was chilling and downright frightening. (Being the scaredy cat that I am, I almost walked away from the book after this scene because I don't. do. horror.) However this is a ghost story of a different kind. The story is narrated by Susie, from heaven, as she keeps watch over her grieving family. The changes Susie sees in her family are both sad and heartwarming. Susie sees that through her death her little sister is able to blossom as she no longer resides in Susie's shadow. 

This book had a distinct mood change from frightening to enlightening and Sebold was able to do so seamlessly. A brilliant break-out novel for Alice Sebold.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book review: I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood

The title of this book caught my eye as I was wandering slowly and kid-less through Target.  I picked it up and read the first paragraph and cried.  I'd had *that* day as a stay-at-home mom and even a few sentences of understanding were enough to reduce me to tears.  Well, that and I was 6 months pregnant.

I loved this book for the refreshing honesty the writers used.  As a former career woman turned mom, I felt by reading the words of these two women, I was immediately their friend; I was in the club.  I found myself reading each sentence faster and faster, hoping to find an answer hidden in the pages.  Sometime after my feet went numb from standing too long in one place, I decided to purchase the book.

I thought then that I would like to bring the same feeling to my readers - root them to the spot as soon as they began reading and only bring them back to reality when nature called.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to be your own boss

I once had a career. I was in software quality assurance, which is to say that I found bugs in software. I was paid to be an anal-retentive nitpick. I wrote reports on the work software developers labored over and detailed step-by-step how to recreate the problem they created when writing their code. An editor, of sorts. I am a likable person, but my job was not a likable position, for when one saw an email from me, it meant that I had found fault in their work. I was always polite and professional but worst of all, I was good. Although it was generally accepted that good quality assurance was essential to a software team, QA members were not particularly appreciated by the developers. No one likes to be told that their work needs work. It was not uncommon for developers to get frustrated with me when I would return for the third time explaining that the image was still 2 pixels off. Honestly, it down right pissed them off. Can you blame them, really?

So it is funny to me that I'm fledgling writer, laboring furiously over my keyboard to produce the best work I can with the hopes that I can get my work past an editor or audience with the likes of me.

It is poetic justice, if you'll excuse the expression, that my career of fussing over the small stuff ended abruptly and my new career of motherhood began. The adjustment was horrendous. There are still days that I can't comprehend that I can't write a bug report and have someone "fix" my two-year old's toy throwing phase. It doesn't compute that being so good at my job of noticing and seeking out the problems would only bring me heartache and feelings of failure as a mother. About the time my second child was born, I realized that I cannot approach motherhood the way I approached my job. I don't have as much control over my day as I did when I worked at a desk. My husband, a program developer himself, has a hard time grasping this concept. Logic-minded like me, he doesn't understand how things can go so awry so quickly or how I can't just re-code myself to get a different outcome. You can imagine how well that conversation goes. I constantly tell him that to know it is to experience it and until he has done both the corporate job and the Mom Job, to just kiss me lightly on the cheek and ask if there is anything he can do to help.

Today however, I had a thought. While I was driving through the school zone, painstakingly staying under 20 mph so Old Man crossing guard wouldn't wave his knotted hand at me to slow down, I leaned my head back on my headrest and tried to tune out the demands of my two small children coming from the back seat. I thought of my husband, sitting in his cubicle, wearing headphones and working at his own pace. I longed to be back in that environment where my bosses were not two and five and were at least somewhat reasonable. I looked in my rear-view mirror and I pictured my two sons in little suits with little comb-overs, discussing the next software release and the possibility of outsourcing the code. I imagined little cell phones in their chubby hands, beeping every few minutes with meeting reminders and incoming emails. I even laughed out loud at how easily I could handle the corporate environment again after meeting the demands of motherhood. I drove home with a wistful look and evil twinkle in my eye as I imagined my husband's bosses acting like my bosses. For my own perverse pleasure, I came home and wrote out this scenario:

Rob, imagine yourself at work. You just walk and as soon as you sit down at your desk, one of your three bosses starts yelling at you, "ROB! I WANT THAT FIXED! I WANT THAT BUG FIXED, ROB! I WANT THAT FIXED! I WANT THAT BUG FIXED NOW!"

You say, "OK, Boss1, let me just log on to my computer. One second..."

But your Boss1 keeps yelling, "I WANT THAT BUG FIXED!" over and over.

Meanwhile, your other boss yells at you from across the office, "ROB!? ROOOOBBB!"

You call out, "Yes, Boss2?" but he still keeps shouting your name. You find the urge to scream, "WHAT?!@!, but you realize this is unprofessional and you can't do that, so you sigh, get up from your desk to go seek out Boss2. Boss1 is still yelling in a very high-pitched voice about that bug. You turn and assertively tell Boss1 that you'll have it fixed for him in one minute.

By the time you find Boss2, you realize he didn't need you after all. Your patience is wearing thin and the day has just begun. You walk back to your desk and hear your phone ringing. You answer and find Boss3 is calling. She isn't as outwardly demanding as Boss1 and Boss2 but is still needy in her own way. When she senses your haste, she asks, perturbed, "Do you have to go or something?" You reply, "Yes, I'm sorry Boss3, I can't talk right now. Boss1 and Boss2 really need me right now." She sighs and hangs up. She hasn't yelled, but you know you've made Boss3 unhappy and will pay for it later in your job, somehow.

You hang up the phone with a frustrated shake of your head and think of looking for another job when it smacks you square in the face that you're in this job for life! At least with Boss1 and Boss2. Even after they retire, they'll still be your bosses. Forever.

Heavy with that thought, you begin to work on the bug that Boss1 was screaming about earlier when you receive an email from one of your favorite co-workers. He has an issue and is asking for your help. You perk up a bit because you really like this co-worker and you are happy to hear from a professional peer. Due to the demanding nature of your job, you haven't spoken to this co-worker for quite some time, and you'd love to assist him with his issue. It is one of the few pleasures of your job. You attempt to answer the email while you're fixing the bug for Boss1. You know this will detract from the attention you give to Boss1's needs, but you tell yourself that it is only for the time being and you're working for Boss1 all the time and you deserve a little break.

Three sentences into the email to your beloved co-worker, Boss2 comes and stands at the entrance to your cubicle and you realize that he has shit his pants! He literally shit his pants and he is just walking around stinking the whole place up. He doesn't care. He'd leave the shit in there all day if he had his druthers, but then he'd end up with some nasty rash and it would ultimately be your fault, so you say, "Boss2, I think you need a change." But Boss2 doesn't want to be bothered and he runs away from you and starts throwing office supplies all over the floor. He is happy tossing paper and toner and dry-erase markers all over and you have to distract him long enough to convince him to change his pants. You even do it for him (because we all know bosses are mostly helpless.) After you wrestle with Boss2 to wipe his ass for him, you schlep back to your desk and just plain ignore the fact that he has returned to trashing the floor with office supplies. On your way, you step on a thumb tack and curse Boss2 under your breath, but then you realize you can't really be angry because he is after all, only a boss.

You're back at your desk and you review the email that you started to your co-worker. You realize that it is incoherent and grammatically incorrect, and you'd really like to start over and do a better job, but you know he'll understand because he has bosses too. So you send it off and return to the task of fixing bugs for Boss1 when suddenly you hear Boss2 shriek! You jump out of your chair and think he surely must've gotten his finger caught in the paper shredder! You race through the office to find him (he could be in any one of the numerous cubicles) and when you finally spot him, you stop with your heart racing and palms sweating, breathing hard. You find that Boss1 is standing next to Boss2 with the stapler in his hand. You don't see blood and you open your eyes wide asking the question with your expression, "What the fuck is going on here?" when Boss2 screams and yells and cries and you can barely understand him, but you get something about Boss1 took his stapler and he had it first! Boss1 starts talking in that high-pitched boss voice and he is getting louder and louder and argues that Boss2 has had the stapler all morning and that he really needs it and it isn't fair that Boss2 gets the stapler all the time! And you take a deep breath in through your nostrils and you calmly say, "Boss1, don't you have your very own stapler, just like this one?"

Boss1 squeals back, "Yeah, but it's out of staples!"

You reply, "Don't worry, Boss1, Rob can put more staples in your stapler," (you find that talking in the third person is often soothing to bosses.) You turn to Boss2 to ask him to come and get you next time this happens, but he has already retreated into the break room. You shake your head, realize it is almost lunch time and you haven't peed all day.

You make your way to the bathroom, one of your favorite places at work and you plop down on the toilet seat like a beanbag that has been dropped on the floor. You just sit. Quietly. You sit on the cool toilet seat with your pants around your ankles and you put your head in your hands and you hold yourself for a second, dragging this piss out as long as you can. You close your eyes and pee. When you open your eyes, you see the small feet of Boss2 toe-to-toe with your feet, and he is holding on to your drawers like a ballerina holds on to her bar. Boss2 has snot smeared on his face and glue in his hair. Finally, you lose it. That's it! You've had it! You lose your ever-lovin' mind on Boss2 and you yell, "WHAT?! CAN I PEE IN PEACE? PLEASE!?" And right there in the bathroom, with your boxers grasped in his chubby little hands, Boss2 melts into tears. You throw your head back, look up at the ceiling tiles and think to yourself, God, if only my wife worked and I got to stay home all day with the kids.