Saturday, May 30, 2009


Okay - so we saw UP. I'm thinking it may be a five-star film. I need to see it again to be certain, though.

This film was made for 3D. Husband, the film guy, could tell you how the 3D was used as a cinematic something-something to express emotion when the action was feverish or whatever, but to me, it was just a lot of pretty pictures. Really pretty ones.

The back story was told in the most remarkably sensitive, beautiful way - without dialog to get in the way of "Image producing Feeling." I managed to love a character whose voice I never heard (adult Ellie). She becomes a leading force in the film without being present. Art-film stuff, huh?

The characters are likeable, even lovable - and I wasn't expecting that. The old man, voiced by Ed Asner, looked (in the previews) like a grumpy caricature. Not at all, it turns out. Flawed but redeemable characters, great dialog, prefect delivery, random surprises that I will not give away, and a few lines we'll be saying around our house for weeks to get a laugh ("Squirrel!" "I have just met you and I love you.") and gorgeous animation.

And don't look away laughing when Russell gets hit in the face by the tent pole. The welt over his eye disappears by the next moment, and you might (if you're a sicko like me who laughs when a kid - especially a cartoon kid, but maybe even my own kid - gets hurt) not want to miss that.

(Side note on the 3D glasses - they are much improved. By the last 20 minutes, they were sort of squeezing my head, but no carsickness from the 3D.)

Great summer film. GO SEE IT! VOTE TODAY! (and let those Hollywood types know what real families like in the theaters)

Over and out. And up, up and away.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer starts Now - Ready... Go!

Hooray for the last day of school! Everyone was up early, dressed and with hairs bee-utiful before 6.30. It's like the first day of school, but better - because nobody has to go back tomorrow. Or next week.

We're planning the summer of "stay-cations" this year. We are going to explore the wonders of our state - at least ten of them. We'll start with a waterfall hike tomorrow (ease them into it and all that) and work our way into the state parks that we've never visited.

If I were a good mom (or even someone who tries a little harder) I'd plan theme days around the visits, like where you make papier-mache models of the sites you see. I am not remotely that kind of good, however, so we'll just try not to whine more than 45% of the time we're in the car, travelling here and there.

Today we're going to see UP - I hope I love it. I generally adore the Pixar shows, but seriously, that WALL-E just about turned me off films forever. If I want an environmental message shoved down my throat, I can watch the nature channel from my bedroom. In my pajamas. (Okay, I really can't, because I don't have any of those cool pay channels - and that is because I don't want environmental messages shoved down my throat, if you know what I mean.)

But Husband has been showing the kids these "Up-isodes" on his phone, which are really clever and funny - so I have high hopes (um, really no balloon-pun intended). And I'm hoping for a preview of the next Pixar release. (**Toy Story 3? Oh, goody! Please, please!**) Besides, I just love going to the theater to see a movie. And eat much popcorn.

* Side note * Husband bought the tickets, and the 3D glasses. Uh. The glasses. I have a long and here-to-fore undocumented history of getting carsick watching 3D movies. He bribed me into submission with many flattering words and the promise of a large bucket of hot buttered popcorn. (Get it while it's hot! Get it while it's buttered!) But we put the glasses on for a gorgeous family photo before the kids left for school, and they're not too bad. Not as lame as the old plastic-filmed, red and green, paper glasses, and no as uncomfortable as the ones you wear in the "Bug's Life" show at Disneyland. So I'm putting on my brave face and taking my popcorn with a Dramamine chaser. Stay tuned. Review tomorrow. Same time, same channel.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The music in my head

I woke up this morning with the Depeche Mode song "Somebody" in my head. I have not heard that song since maybe the last high school dance - but maybe, maybe some DJ played it at a dance in college (not that I hit the dance scene too much then).

It has been a very, very long time since then.

Strangely, I can hear every word in my head, and the 80s angsty-alternative thrum is crushing my brain. Not that it's a bad song. I wouldn't say that. It just has never been my style, and I can't fathom why (why? WHY?) it came to me today.

I want somebody to share, share the rest of my life...

I don't want to be tied to anyone' s strings; I've carefully tried to steer clear of those things...

Share my innermost thoughts, know my intimate details...

I want somebody who cares for me passionately...

And when I'm asleep, I want somebody who will wrap their arms around me and kiss me tenderly. (Seriously? I much prefer to stay asleep.)

All those things I detest, I will almost like...

Really? These were the lyrics we swooned to during the last song at a dance? Sheesh. Come on. I'm driving to mee the sisters for a surprise birthday breakfast, and all I'm saying is, I better get a new song lodged in there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chocolate and Physics

I'm not really a chocolate person. I mean, I'll eat it, and once in a great while I'll crave it (but usually in connection with butter toffee). But for some reason, I had a few of those Andes mints in my purse. I think they were from the Olive Garden, which would mean they've been in my purse for many months (like maybe since November - ick). Because, you know, I don't eat them.

And here's the physics part: If one places a foil-wrapped chocolate confection in a warm place, say a car, for several hours, one may find one's foil-wrapped chocolates pressed into whatever solid object rested near them.

Such as my compulsive pile of pens.

In my purse are at least 6 pens, not counting the orange highlighter (with sticky flags - joy of my heart), pencil, and lipliner (Wet-n-Wild #666 - dont' read anything into the number; it's only the greatest 99-cent beauty product in the free world). You never know when you'll need to write something down, or highlight something, or change the clock in the minivan, or rediscover your sexy lips. A girl needs to be prepared.

I went to a small, chummy meeting of writers today to discuss marketing strategy and a possible teen book club. When I went after my favorite green-inked pen, it took a tug to dislodge it from the side pocket in my purse. Hm, says I. How odd, and sort of gross. When I clicked it to get the inky part note-taking-ready, it was covered in a very yucky small blob of re-hardened once-Andes-mint. Sort of brownish-green and (okay, writer in me is being clubbed by mother in me, because no matter how many good descriptions there are for this yuckiness, none matches the simplicity of just laying it out like it is) looking like something that should be contained in a diaper.


I'm a big girl and managed to wipe it off and laugh it off. Fellow author and mama Ally Condie surely noticed the resemblance to pooh, but managed to keep her disgust hidden.

Best part? The moment author friend Lisa Mangum (The Hourglass Door) borrowed the pen to jot down some brilliance and barely took a second glance at the smear of brown lodged there.

Note to self: Need to stop stockpiling food I'm not likely to ever, ever eat - especially the kind that melts.

High School Revisited, and General Transcendence

So once upon a time in high school and college, I had this best friend. He was a guy. He was sweet and talented and clever and smart (almost as smart as he thought he was). We were best friends for a couple of years, and then I got married and sort of got myself a new best friend, know what I mean?

Well, thanks to that inter-ma-net thingie, we've lately reconnected and it's still fun. He's still funny and probably still thinks he's a little smarter than he is, but that's totally okay with me. He's happily married, and finding joy in his life, and taking his profession by storm and all that jazz.

So there's this part of me that still wants him to be proud of me, and I'm somewhat tempted to send him (or his wife) a copy of BBM. But there's this possibility that he may connect just a little too much with the boy-best-friend character. Can I actually send him a book and say these words: This is not about you?

I've already said it to my steptwin. I've already said it to my parents. I've already said it to my brother, and there aren't even any brothers in the book. For heaven's sake, are we all looking for ourselves, or what? Do I look for myself in the books I read? Even the ones written by people I've never met? Maybe. Sometimes. Maybe that's why I get disappointed in the dumb things characters do and say. Maybe that's why I cheer for underdoggies, or celebrate the girls who come to terms with their imperfections (specifically body-image ones).

Does everyone do that? Is that why we read? Are we looking for ourselves in these characters? Is it the same as having indirect adventures? Or is it more introspective (don't you love that word?), about finding what needs fixing and changing?

Hm. What does that say about me if I pull for the villain on occasion? Or if I absolutely cannot care what happens to the sweet, innocent heroine?

Remember when you were a kid, watching a show on TV, or a movie, or whatever, and saying "I get to be ____." - Like calling a character? Did you want to be the nice one, or the interesting one? When I was in High School and first heard Les Miserables (the musical) I wanted to be Eponine, the terrorized, ravaged, heartbroken child of the streets. Who wants to be the sweet little ingenue? (Not to mention that the writers clearly agreed with me, because Eponine's songs are so much cooler than Cosette's - but I digress.)

So finding yourself in a story and connecting with a character are not necessarily the same thing, right? Because I hope I'm not the only one who finds myself in one character, but wishes to be a different one...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kid 2, to the Rescue

Kid 2 came with me on the 4.5 miler yesterday morning, just after my moaning post. She gave me ideas. Or talking to her and listening to her I thought of a couple, anyway.

Oh, so this is why I had kids. Now it's all becoming clearer.

Not only that, but I discovered that she can almost keep up with my walking pace these days, and although she can jog faster, I can jog longer. (Not long, you understand, just longer.)

So hooray for writing, and ideas, and consistency, and girl-kids and holidays.

And long walks.

Monday, May 25, 2009

WIP semi-trauma Ramblings

Yeah! A thousand words before kids are up. I should do more, I know, but I have this tiny problem. At half-way through my first draft, I still don't know exactly what my main character wants. Oops. It seems clear that she wants to be accepted, but that's already fine. Because even though the people she wants to break in with are mean to her, yadda, yadda, she has a nice group of friends.


I need a hook.

She needs for some reason to be unacceptable. Or to want something else that's too hard to get. What would a freshman at a prestigious boarding school want? An upperclassman boyfriend? (Yeah, she wants that.) Academic recognition? (Who doesn't? They're channeling into the Ivy League.) A magic wand? (Just kidding.) I know what she wants in her Sophomore year, and her Junior. Do I bag draft one (year one) and skip to the next? Here's the problem with that. I get distracted so easily, I may dread coming back to first year.

Maybe I need to introduce a competition where she can either excel or sabotage her nemesis. Then I'll just need to give her the skills to succeed (and a nemesis - we all need one of those). And here I sit, staring at the wall, wondering what the competition should be. I think I need to go for a walk. A long one. Without music, just to fill my brain with many, many fine ideas for intrigue and contest.

Or at least burn off last night's popcorn indulgence.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dead Muse Update

I know how you were all concerned. I won't leave you wondering. The Muse returned this morning. Turns out she really likes to have me to herself - first thing in the morning, when all the house is quiet.

So I get a thousand words put in, and I even know what to write next (!) and all is well.

I'm off to plant my garden. This will bring me great joy in a couple of months, so I will put on my happy face for the not-so-fun parts today.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dead Muse?

Oh, dear. I think my muse might have died. She is certainly not perched on my shoulder right now, whispering sparkling and witty dialog into my ears.

I took a small break from my word goals for the past couple days to do schooly stuff with my kids (like authory visits - some fun, some YIKES - and chaperoning to a great production of Treasure Island with the Honors Lit classes). Now I'm having issues getting back into my mojo.

My muse may have died from neglect. Can that happen in two days?

Maybe she's just on holiday.

I'm going to leave her dead/vacationing and get some other stuff done. (Yeah, I'm totally stalling. I've even been on FB already this morning. I have no character at all.) Like finishing my re-read from a few days ago (I got distracted at Chapter 7 and then got a free book in the mail. It's like a drug - I can't stop, even if I don't particularly like it) and cleaning some exceptionally dirty parts of my house. You don't want to know. Really.

And grocery shopping, because even if we cannot all write, all can eat (thanks, Ms. Austen). And one more school visit. And 3 loafs (loaves?) of wheat bread. Oh, and a shower. Because, you know.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

At the Dinner Table

Kid 2: Death is the number one killer in America. Warn your friends.
Kid 3: Isn't death the number one killer in, like, Japan, too?


Is it so wrong to want to be universally liked? Not even universally respected, just liked. I like almost everybody I know. I can't think of the last time I said, "I hate that guy" about someone outside a book.

Can't everybody just like me back? It's not so hard, really.

About school visits...

... well, they can't all be great.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The things I'm not doing right now (abbreviated)

Laundry (but it's doing itself, sort of - in the dryer)
Garden (still barren, but weed-less)
Dinner (but we're eating with friends, so it's minimal prep on my part)
Writing (obviously)
Sunbathing (I came inside 15 minutes ago)
Playing with my kids (nobody's home but me)
Worrying (about anything)
Exercising patience (about the 2 current submissions)
Exercising anything at all (again, obvious)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Doing the Work, Needing the Heart

I know I mention this something about me regularly, but once again, I have failed to do my writing first, and now I drag to the computer to do it. Why, oh, why can't I be one of those Women of Character who fill their whole days with importance and meaning? Why do I peter out of energy and inspiration after ten a.m? I do stuff after that (see how I need to justify me?) but it's rarely dazzling or inspired or fabulous. Its more like folding laundry or vacuuming or running carpool. And dinner, for which I muster excitement proportional to my hunger.

I want to get hungry to write.

But until I do, I will continue to bang it out, to pound keys till 500 words issue forth.

This is completely counter to the best writing book (for me) "IF YOU WANT TO WRITE" by Brenda Ueland. She says if you force it, your spirit dies and your writing is crap. (She never says that. She is a woman of character as well as manners.) She says, among other things, that the creative power is there, and we have to get ourselves out of the way and let it sing out of us. Okay, she's brilliant, really. But sometimes I am among the weak and needy who create lists of to-dos, ready to cross off and see my progress. And I am among the weakest who put things on the list already accomplished, so my progress looks better than it is.

Oh, the shame.

But Ueland's best bit is about how criticism kills, and how the only constructive devices are true applause and cheering.

I love the sound of that.

Bring it on.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Class Visit

Just got home from a terrific authory-visit. One great 8th-grade class, many excellent questions, 2 varieties of goodies to eat (I brought those, not exactly a bribe, but close) and lots of laughs. It was excellent. Thanks to Mrs. Garloch for having me, and to Kid One, who made sure I made it to the correct class on the correct day. Barely.

Word Count Update

25, 012. WOOT WOOT!

One half of a crappy first draft! But a draft with potential. Lots. And a funny MC. And some very great guy characters with flaws and hopeless goals. And love triangles (my favorite) and mixed messages and misunderstandings and soccer legs.

Yeah, half a draft!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reading the Writing

I've done some fun writing today, and now I get to do something I haven't done in several months. I get to read over a manuscript that has been sitting. It's technically been sitting on the acquisitions editor's desk, but also on my computer. Today I'm printing the first half of it, taking it outside and reading it in the sun. With shade, and the Elton sunglasses.

I'll take a pen and write in where changes must be made.

I'll take a highlighter and star where I still laugh. (Here's hoping there will be some highlighting done.)

I'll see if it is utter trash, or worth some more work.

I'm excited to go into it. I've been through about 6 drafts of this, but right now marks my longest break from it. I believe in breaks. Some people are good with short breaks of a week or two. I tend to still think my crappy work is pretty funny until I've distanced myself from it for at least a couple of months. So there we are... several months later, and I'm off to check it out. Reading like a reader, an editor.

If I come back to the computer smacking my head repeatedly into the keypad and bleeding from the ears, we'll all know that it's time to begin another draft.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sunshine and Happiness...

Sunshine = happiness. As much as I love the rain, I really do think I deserve to see the sun for at least a couple of hours every day. Oh, yeah. This is why we live here. I can almost forget the long, long winter when I remember that even on snowy cold dreary days, there is generally some sun.

I have been playing outside enough that I assumed I had a pretty decent base tan, so Monday I spent a couple hours in a lounge chair with Miss Elizabeth Bennett. My sunglasses had gone to work with Husband, and I managed to sunburn my eyes. My whole self looked pretty pink, but I knew that would fade in a day or two. But the eyes. Ouch.

So yesterday when I went to mow the lawn and dig pretty yellow flowers out of my grass (Husband refuses to call them weeds) I slathered on the sunscreen, especially on my eyes, and wore the Elton John sunglasses to cover every possible part of my face.


I seem to have forgotten, just for a minute, what happens to my face when I put sunblock on it.

Hideous. Atrocious. Swellings. And. Lumpiness.

Two summers ago I went camping with a bunch of teenage girls and woke up the last morning (after a day in the sun, administering sunblock to backs and shoulders all day) unable to open my left eye. In all the sunblocking of the campers, I'd put quite a bit on myself, both on purpose and indirectly through my ridiculous habit of touching my face. Oh, the eye. It was, in fact, swollen to the size of a softball. Some of you may be thinking I exaggerate. Sometimes I do. In an effort to reclaim some sense of legitimacy, I will amend the softball statement. The eye in question was actually the size of half a tennis ball, sliced down the middle and stuck to my cheek. I had to ice and press and stretch and wash for an hour before I could put in my contacts, allowing me to wear sunglasses so as not to frighten the fainter-of-heart campers. There is a very long story about finding a working dermatologist on that Saturday afternoon when I returned home - it involves phone calls to three counties and a very over-the-speed-limit drive - only to have him require prednisone (the evil medication that may reduce my swelling but guarantees me an extra ten pounds). For the record, I opted for the extra pounds in order to show my face in public.

So today, I am again the owner of a couple of swollen eyes. Not bad enough to see a doctor (because I don't have to show my face until Friday in any *lighted* public settings), but bad enough that I'm still in my glasses.

Somewhere out there, there may be a sunblock that doesn't do this to me. If I ever find it, I'll probably still not use it enough. Because I love the sun.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Piece of Dinner Table Conversation

Kid Three: We could cut off his tongue and sell it on eBay.
Kid Two: Yeah, just like Vincent van Gogh.
Kid One: Vincent van Gogh did NOT sell his tongue on eBay.

All those studies that tell about how the formative moments happen around the dinner table? I'm just saying, I hope not.

Can't write.

It's not writer's block, exactly, because I don't actually believe in that. It's more like apathy.


I can't write right now because I can't seem to care right now.

This happens occasionally when I do something else besides writing when I wake up. Today it was coercing a dirty kid into the shower and then back out again, plus a little (a very little) weight lifting. That's what I did instead of getting right on the computer, and now I don't feel like writing.


But, Becca, you say. Here you are, writing.
Well, I say, sort of.
Are you not typing, right now? you ask.
But it so doesn't count, I reply.

And we both know I'm right.


Monday, May 11, 2009

hens and musical theatre

Remember Mary's eggs? Well, something got her chickens. When I say something got her chickens, I mean something wandering around town managed to get through fencing, past guard goats and her boxer dogs, and snack on her chickens. All of them. I didn't ask for any details, and I'm sure my imagination is on overload, making it scarier than it needs to be (I'm guessing cougar, but it could easily be hawk).

In any case, Mary needs new chickens. She told me yesterday that she's ready to go pick them up Tuesday. She wants Kid Four and me to join her on the chicken-fetching errand. He is ecstatic to be involved. So, tomorrow we go buy chickens. I wish they were for me.

Tonight my cute niece Rachel stars in Annie at her school. This school does the most quality musicals ever for a junior high. I'm totally looking forward to it. And she's adorable, and gifted, and sweet, and so I can't wait.

And after the jobs are done, and the errands run, I am very excited to try out my Mother's Day patio furniture. Husband bought two reclining lounge chairs ("for the reader in you, not so much for the writer in you"). This is such a good idea! I'm rereading "Pride and Prejudice" (because why not?), and it is supposed to be a perfect day to be outside.

Go, Monday!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


My sister in law just sent me this funny video for Mother's Day. People with left brains are so clever.

In related news, it is after seven, and everyone in my house is still in bed. Okay, that isn't really related news. But they are still in bed, and it ought to be recorded. It is good, good news.

My eleven-year-old was invited to a conference in Washington, D.C. next summer. She is very excited to go, but I'm requiring her to earn some of the dollars. One thousand of them. Do you have any idea what a thousand dollars looks like to someone who has never had an allowance? Yikes. She must be freaking. Anyone have great ideas for a kid to earn loads of money?

Few things make me smile like listening to Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Kate Winslet do "Sense and Sensibility." (Kid One thinks Hugh Grant looks ill through most of his scenes. I think he's adorable. Thoroughly.) I had it on last night while I rolled into scrolls a few hundred copies of that Mother's Day tribute we discussed last week. Husband and Kids One and Two sacrificed time and fingers to help. Yeah for them.

When I bring flowers in from the gardens, why do my tulips droop to the table while my daffodils stand tall? The bouquet looks stunning for about eight hours before the tulips start to fall. How bizarre.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Why must the wind blow ALL NIGHT LONG? I think I must have gotten some sleep, because I felt myself wrenched into wakefulness several times by the sound of my windows straining against the gale.

I am grouchy, wretchedly grouchy, and I have just a little too much day ahead of me to wallow in it.

Time to get over it. Ready? Go.

Okay. Feeling better. But I'm going outside right now to throw the wind chimes in the garbage can.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

More Body Image

Like any form of self-esteem, a positive body image cannot be given. No manner of nice things that people say to me are going to "make" me see myself any differently. Like any other version of self-esteem, a positive body image needs to be earned.

Here's where one facet of my problem lies.

I have convinced myself that I will deserve to feel good about me when I am XX pounds and size 8. (I almost wrote XX again, but I really, really don't want to be that size!) But I need to have a different goal. The final is nice, and I think even reachable if I give up all things tasty, but there has to be something more consistent. I need to be able to say to me, at least a few times a week, "Go, you. Good job. You may now feel good about yourself."

I say that when I do a good job exercising, but I have been woefully deficient in exercise consistency. So I need to retake control of that. I choose how I move during the day. If I want to feel good about me, I need to choose to move more than I don't.

I say that when I make good food choices (but more often when I avoid the bad ones). This is not my best talent. I am, in fact, really good at baking and cooking all things butter-based. Bread included, because, duh - who wants bread without butter? And I know this about me - I show my love, both inside my home and abroad, with white flour and sugar. And caramel. And more butter.

I say that when I fit into clothes I love. I say it when I surprise myself with a good hair day. I say it when I have a photo taken that looks better than reality. So I need to decide to do the things that will earn those words every day. Every day I should choose to earn some love for my own self. By walking more, being in the sun more, eating fresh crunchy things more...

I'm going outside now - see ya.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Learning to say NO

I'm sure I was good at it in some past part of my life. I don't know any two-year-old who can't say it. But I seem to be defective in the saying-no department these days. A couple years ago, I started down a path (a beautiful, tree-lined path) of saying no when I needed to. It was great. I felt just a tiny twinge of regret for the things I had to deny - just enough to remember why I would say yes when I did.

But then somehow I've slipped back into the yesses. I seem to always be eager to help, to go, to take, to make, to write, to deliver, to attend...

When did I become the YesMan again? Why do the words "it's my pleasure" always seem to accompany a lurch in my guts? It should be my pleasure. I like to do stuff. I like to be with people. I like to be thanked. Oh, there it is. I think I've just made a discovery mid-blog. I want someone to say thanks for the things I say yes to.

Will someone say it?

Don't count on it.

It could happen. I could be appreciated now and then. Or maybe the people who are asking for my help are so overwhelmed with their own responsibilities that they don't really remember that I'm there, doing this little thing I said yes about.

Once I heard someone say that before you commit to anything (ANYthing) you should say "Let me check my calendar. I'll get back with you." Then you have time to formulate your refusal, apparently. I need to write this down, tape it to each phone, tattoo it on my forehead (which comes in handy if I'm on the phone while looking in the mirror) and say it to myself like a mantra.

Let me check. I'll get back with you. I'm so sorry, I can't help you with that. Good luck.

Yeah, right. Like that's going to happen.

But it could, it could. Maybe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Husband is watching / listening to a photo tools tutorial in the other room (the room where he can ask for spelling assistance without leaving his chair). I want a tutorial. The guy showing him around his new program is so gracious and polite. He even lets him know when the program is about to take over. Nobody ever warns me when someone is about to take over my life. His tutor-man also has a calming voice to tell him about regions of interest.

Are you with me?

I want to be shown regions of interest. Seriously.

He's also a validating voice of reason. He even says things like "isn't that great?" and "let's talk about..." and "If you'd care to look over at the window, you'll see..." I feel very respected by this voice from the other room.

I can think of several days in the past week or so that would have been better had I spent a little time with Mr. Tutor-man. He could have talked me down from a few temper-filled moments. I wonder if Husband would think me odd if I had Tutorials every morning, just for a few minutes...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Word Count

I'm close to 20,000 words on my new project. That's 20,000 out of 50,000. Can we all say "Nearly half way"? Yeah! Party time when I hit 25,000, sez I.

I shall bake something with much butter in.


Life is feeling short. Isn't it weird how days can seem to last forever, sometimes even hours (see Star Wars: The Clone Wars), but then life as a whole appears so fragile.

My grandma is 92. She's precious. Lately, she's been more and more fuzzy around the edges - not remembering some grandkids (mine are still recognizable, so far) and wondering why she's out doing things.

I just got a call that my friend's husband is in the ICU with a blood clot in his brain. Ack. "They" say he's going to be fine, but hey, guess what. "They" dont' actually know that.

Days like this I just want to call all my friends and sibs and give them a little love, you know? I'm kind of shaky with the delicacy of it all. I've got to go hug my kids.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mother's Day Talk

I get to give a 3-5 minute thingy at a Mother's Day fiesta next Saturday night. If you're planning to be there, skip this post.

Here's what I think I'm going to say.

When Moses was shepherding his father-in-law’s flocks, he saw a bush on fire, flaming but not being consumed. He found that a little strange. He said to himself, I’m going to take a minute and check this out. Because here’s something you don’t see every day. I wonder why the bush isn’t burnt?

Because he stopped and because he looked, the Lord spoke to Moses out of the bush. He called him by his name, because that’s what the Lord does, and he asked Moses to take off his shoes. “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning said: Earth's crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

And only he who sees

takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

How do I become the one who sees? Can I figure out when the presence of God is near, when I’m on Holy Ground, and remove my shoes? How can I find the divine in the drudgery?

When my kids were little, needy and demanding and helpless, I’m afraid my first reaction to a burning bush would be to toss a bucket of water on it. One more emergency to deal with. One more demand on my time and sanity.

When they were bigger, I think my reaction would be different. All right you people. Who has been playing with matches? You know the rules. You’re all busted.

Some days, don’t you feel too tired to care? After work and dinner and cleaning and dishes and homework and dentist appointments and practices and laundry and family night and concerts and presidency meetings and emergency room visits and games and meets and matches and scripture study, could you (like I could) look over your shoulder as you flop onto the couch and say, “Huh. That bush is on fire. Hope it doesn’t singe the furniture. Pass the remote.”

And when the kids are grown and gone, are there times we peek under beds and search out fingerprinty windows, desperate to regain a tiny portion of that sweet innocence, only to ignore the flaming bush in the middle of the room?

The Lord wants us to recognize the “great sight” in our path. He rewarded Moses for turning aside, seeking out the miracle. We will also be rewarded for seeking out the miracles.

There are plenty of barefoot moments in motherhood. Some of them are messy, some of them are funny; some are precious and sweet and sacred. All these moments testify that God is near.

Do you remember the first time you took your fussy baby out of church and walked the halls, muttering about why am I doing this? I’m getting nothing out of these meetings, and we’re disturbing everyone within a fifty-foot radius only to have that little person hang over your shoulder, lean behind you, point to a painting of the Savior and say “Jesus.” Remember that you didn’t even think that child knew that word? Remove thy shoes.

Remember the time you came downstairs because you heard someone crying? Grumble, grumble – these kids are always fighting. I’ll give them something to cry about. Here you come, ready to dispense justice, and find your youngest cradled in the arms of an older sibling who’s kissing away the hurt and coaxing a smile and a laugh from behind the tears. Take thy shoes from off thy feet.

Remember that one time – that one time – you got that note, that email, that text that said, “Thank you, Mom”? Remove thy shoes.

And watch them, as adults, choose each other as best friends. See them seeking out each others’ company. Listen to them laugh together, remembering the happy times that are buried somewhere in your memory, under piles of muddy shoes and broken dishes and dents in cars and angry words. The memories are there. Take thy shoes from off thy feet.

We can train our eyes to see the “bush afire with God” – to notice the things that could not be, without the influence of the Lord. If I want that gift, that ability, I only need to ask for it, to work for it. To write it down when I see it.

And when we stop, and remove our shoes from off our feet, we can hear the Lord call us by name and remind us that the place we stand is holy ground, the position we hold is ordained of God, the people we nurture are really His children.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May! And extra eyes

We made it once again to May. Not that you thought we'd get stuck in April, but you never know...

Okay - painful family moment last night. We were going to play a game with our kids (Catch Phrase, because everyone can do it) but Kid 4 really, really wanted everyone to experience the DVD he'd gotten from Netflix. Since we don't actually know how to deny that kid anything, most of us gathered around the couch in the basement for "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." (Interesting note: Kid 1 chose to barricade herself in her room with a book. She KNEW.)

Oh. How. Awful.

I stared at the timer on the VCR so many times that the force of my brainwaves almost made the clock run backward. Seriously? We're only 14 minutes into this? Still? I made it to 30 minutes (my goal) and then hopped on the elliptical for the next 30 (still in the room, but distracted by my own heart rate). The last bit I escaped upstairs for balancing the checkbook (see? that's how bad it was - I'd rather be doing math), coming back for the final minute or so of typical Star Wars ending: heroic shot of the winners, standing in front of some pretty background. Even Husband, a big childhood-Star-Wars guy, thinks he may have gotten dumber watching that show.

Mr. Lucas is the prime example of why you need a second pair of eyes on any project. I don't pretend to be any kind of Star Wars franchise pro, but I'll admit that the '80s movies were fine - and not just because I love Harrison (the early years). But the episodes I, II, III? Ouch. It's like watching a muppet movie without the clever dialog, and no fun music. Since Mr. Lucas owns all control over the franchise, he's filthy rich. Good for him. But it also means nobody else gets a say in the project (like, please, please don't really put that Jar-Jar guy in these films, or yes, we love Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson, but could we please give them some intelligent dialog so we can hear those gorgeous accents?).

When I write, I crave second eyes. Partly because some piece of my bizarre (I was going to say "perverse," but I don't want you to mistake that for "perverted") sense of humor might leak into the story and give some reader the wrong idea. Partly because I need to know where, specifically, readers are only reading words on a page - as opposed to reading my mind. Partly (I'm a big girl, I can admit this) because I like to hear people laugh when they read my stuff, and I like to hear them tell me it's good. But mostly because extra eyes can add weight to the judgement that this project is worthwhile. These characters are likeable. This plot is interesting, or important, or fun.

So, the point: Get someone to read everything. Lots of someones. Trust some feedback (but ignore your aunt who adores you and the sister who picks you apart too brutally) - especially the consensus parts (everyone hates my Jack the Ripper musical? Really? Everyone? Hmm. Maybe I should rethink that).

More eyes beat your eyes. Hey - I should market that.

Or not.

Just have people read your stuff, agreed?