Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good thoughts

I have spent the last 28 hours (minus a little sleep) getting filled up with things to think about (and eventually blog about). Here are a few of them:

Does every writer write with an agenda, and if so what is mine?

How do I write a virtuous book that is also fun (not cream cheese)?

When writing about redemption, how much of the darkness do I need to show in order for the "brought back into the light" part to be effective?

Were "Gremlins" and "Goonies" actually important cinematic pieces of my childhood?

Why are there, in every group discussion, attention whores; and how can I avoid the tragedy of becoming one myself?

If something is being described as "moral" for it's lack of overt sexual encounters, do I need a new word for my kind of moral? (the kind that suggests and explores consequences, expects a little personal growth, and requires a character to do something for the good of someone else?)

Why do people ask me my opinion about things?


Is it such a "consumery" idea to think that art should entertain? Discuss.

What works of art do I engage with, what kinds do I not, and what makes that distinction?

What are the merits of rice vs. orzo and vice versa?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


What about this?

I never quite know what to think when my favorite kiddo books go to the Big Screen...

But I'll suspend judgment till October 16th.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I didn't write my words yet this morning. I did get in 80% of my situps, so there's something to feel good about. But the rest of the day is about doing stuff for other people. I hope I'll get to the writing part at some point.

Hey - if I keep going here, does that count? If I make it to 500 or 1000 words on my silly blog post, can I count it?

(*No, no madam, no you may not. This is not writing. This is thought vomit. It counts for thinking, and for typing, and maybe even for connecting. But this is not your writing.)

Thanks, Mom.

(*You're welcome. Go write something in the seventeen minutes you've got left to yourself.)

Yes, Ma'am.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday random

I haven't posted for a few days because I've been outside loving the spring. It's on hold right now, though, so I can sit here and watch the snow out the window.

I'm working on a story that's turning out very differently than I'd thought it would. First drafts are pretty fascinating, aren't they? Here I thought I was telling a story about A, but when I write it seems to be more about B, and when I read it over, it may actually be all about C.

And then there's the part where I wonder if it's any good at all.

But the notes look great. So there.

I'm waiting for a reply from the publisher on Book The Second - the reply that was supposed to come mid-February. Hopefully this week I can hear something. Something like, "This is brilliant! We cannot live without it! Here is a fat advance check! If we only publish one thing in this year of tight budgets, it simply must be your book!" I mean, I'd settle for that. You know.

In children news, the kids all slept on the family room floor in the basement together last night. I love days with no school (totally not related to the snow - we don't have snow days around here. It's the end of the term, so teachers are at work and kids are home - yay!) So we can all just wake up when the desire strikes, and do our thing all day long. My favorite.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Its coming. I can feel it.

The frost is still shining on everything, at least until the sun hits it, but then - yeah! warm is coming. Sun is coming. Even a little sunburn is coming.

We're scootering and biking and walking and raking and standing without shivering and loving it!

Hooray for you, Spring.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Yeah, I know. Nobody cares. And although I know it's true, I still need to write them down. And it's best to do that somewhere pretty public, where people may know if I succeed and will surely know if I fail.

Here they are:

100 sit-ups every day (I go 40/40/20, because I certainly can't do 100 at once.)
500 words each day, before the kids get up (I could try for 1000, but I need to start out reasonable. Besides, the kids are all up by 6.30, and, come on.)
1 new book to read each week (new = new to me - not just rereading my favorites.)

Everything else is frosting. (Okay, that's not true. Some other things are already habits, and not included in this list.)

See, the thing is (obviously) I'm not big on expectations for myself. And also, I have to be the Mom, which means, among other things, that most of my day is not my own. But when I get these things done I will feel Oh-So-Accomplished.

And that is good.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Things I'm usually good at, just not today (or yesterday)

* Sleeping. Okay, that's not quite what I mean, because I'm getting really good at falling asleep before 9:30. But the staying asleep until a decent hour is not happening. This morning? 3:03. So I've written my 1000 words (or very nearly 1000 words) and read my email and finished my first 3 glasses of water and am ready to do 30 minutes of yoga. But by 2:00 this afternoon, I'm betting I'll be feeling it.

* Grocery bargaining. I am a compulsive grocery list maker. And I plan my week so I don't have to go more than once. And I generally just shop the perimeter of the store (produce, deli, dairy, meat, ice-cream freezer). But yesterday, with the entire family in tow, I spent $100 on next week's meals (not too bad) and also junk. White bread. And bagels. And hamburger buns. 2 bags of Dirty Potato Chips. I am not usually a potato chip girl, but possibly because I'd never had these before. Oh. My. Yummy. (Sour cream and onion. And salt and vinegar. Yes.) I also came home with a bag of Buffalo wing / bleu cheese Doritos, which were free (long story about how cute my local grocery market is). Yes, there was fruit, and I feel almost entirely redeemed about what's hiding in the pantry by how pretty my huge fruit basket looks. And we bought veg, but not enough to make me feel good about the white bread overload. Oh, and did I mention chocolate milk? Who am I?

* Taking care of my kids. I am attending a writer's conference these 2 days. It's one of my lazy kinds, where I just sit and listen to writerly advice and funny stories, write down all sorts of ideas about what books I could read, and flash my book at prospective writers to give them a little hope. But I am totally not caring for my kids. Yesterday I had them all out the door by 7.20, including the one with the cough and runny nose. Guilt, maybe? Yea, I guess so. I came home at 6 to a table full of finished homework and dinner coming out of the oven. So it turns out they don't actually need me. But they're sure cute.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I'm starting to take just a little responsibility for my kids' music lessons. Kate's been taking violin lessons for over four years (three of them with wrong teachers) and I'm just beginning to sit down with her to count out her measures. And to do note reading theory with Ellie and Matthew. Some part of me (large) knows my limitations (as in I do not play an instrument and never really learned this stuff), and some part (not quite as large, but still looming) recognizes that I pay someone monthly to teach them this stuff.

But it's like school. If I were the mom who expected the teaching to all be done by the teacher, I'd have the kids who learned only what curriculum was in the actual classroom. But since I'm the mom who expects (demands) earlier, later, deeper, and generally beter learning, I have very bright (yeah, gifted - so what?) kids who like to learn.

The point? If I want them to be gifted at their instruments, I should push for more, better, and extended music learning too. (But do I? Really, only if they care.)
A thing I do not feel guilty about: I just fed two hungry 5-year-old boys a toasted bagel and orange slices while I snuck around nibbling really good salami slices and Brie cheese.

A thing I do feel guilty about: My friend came over and got a book, and she was so kind, giving me the sweet "I'm so proud of you" feedback that I love and adore. Then she said, "Look at what you've done. You have something to leave behind." And I was sad. Because if I have one thing to leave behind, I don't want it to be any book, even if it's wonderful. I want it to be happy kids who grow into happy adults and have their own happy families. And I wanted to tell her that, but she didn't think it was such a permanent, physical thing, so I let it go. And maybe I shouldn't have.

Maybe here's what I should have said: "You have three beautiful kids. They think you're wonderful, even the 14-year-old girl. They have strong, healthy bodies and strong, healthy self-image. They love the Lord, and they love being a part of a family. Nobody could leave behind anything better than that."

Next time, I'll be ready.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mr. Bale

Okay, I'm not obsessed. Im no kind of stalker. I'm maybe not even what you'd call a fan. But I've been thinking about Mr. Christian Bale this morning. Hm. Happy thoughts. 

(*Disclaimer - I don't know this man. I don't think we're friends. I haven't seen all his movies. I don't know his wife's name, or where they live, or whom they hang out with, or what either of them were wearing to any party ever. I'm not, I repeat, any kind of stalker. I don't even read entertainment reports, except maybe the headlines on GoogleNews.)

My Bale thoughts may have been sparked by Matthew's morning playlist choice "Newsies." Disney Musical, early nineties. Haven't seen it? For shame. Netflix it right away. Among other things, a late teenage Christian Bale sings. And dances. And wears a cowboy hat over his cute floppy hair. It's a classic happy, feel-great historical fiction WITH SONGS!

And so I've been thinking of other things I saw him in. For instance, Batman Begins. Love it. Too violent too often, but so great. And come on, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman? I'd love it before I saw it. And although The Dark Knight was a little too, well, dark for me, I thought he was great in it. 

Also Swing Kids. Remember that? I saw it once (a little weird for me, I'm a compulsive re-watcher) and remember it being hard and sad, but again, with some fantastic music: I'm hearing in my memory Ella and Duke Ellington. Yummy.

And a production of Midsummer Night's Dream, where he was Demetrius (I think) and he was very cute (I'm sure).

And speaking of Shakespeare, do you remember that Kenneth Branaugh Henry V? Which was (too long but) utterly beautiful? And the second best scene in it, where King Kenneth carries that sweet dead boy (wait for it) across the battlefield in that excruciating, breathtaking, gorgeous one-shot, five-minute, heartbreaking, sweeping moment? I get chills just thinking about that. And the boy? Mr. Bale, who else? (*Third best scene: King's speech to his soldiers - a masterpiece. And best scene: Bring on Emma Thompson for the classic exchange, "I cannot tell you." "Can any of your neighbors tell?" HA! Love the Emma.)

But what about my favorite of all, Christian as Laurie in Little Women? Did any of you just want to shake little Jo for totally missing that boat? Yeah, I know it's supposed to be historically accurate and all that, but come on: Laurie vs. the Old German Guy? No contest. 

So here I am, sending out a little Christian Bale-style love today. Just because.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


You know the days when you've committed yourself so far that you technically need to have three bodies to do all the things you promised to do? Yeah. Like that. 

All week.

A wise woman said that too many commitments can be a sign of love - it reflects all the people you're willing to sacrifice for. That is a lovely sentiment. 

Or else I just forgot how to say no. 

In any case, stretched thin in all ways metaphorical.