Friday, March 30, 2007

FYI (I love you, my few but proud commenters!)

For those of you who comment, I'm sometimes responding to comments by commenting on the same post. There doesn't seem to be much RYC'ing out here in the non-xanga blogland. Plus, other people don't have to read my response and go, "Huh?"

Hope this isn't too annoying. It's not like you HAVE to read my answer; if I really need to tell you something, I'll email you.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

True Mom Confessions

There’s a blog called “True Wife Confessions” that I checked out a few times, wondering if I could get any ideas for stories. Nothing really seemed fresh and interesting enough for fiction; there were a lot of affairs. And who knew how many women dislike their husbands’ hygiene? I felt sorry for those women. But as for the women who confessed to maxing out credit cards in secret—I felt sorry for the husbands, in those cases.

Anyway, I thought I’d tell you a few of my “True Mom Confessions.” (I don’t have any marital confessions, and if I did, I wouldn’t be posting them here!) If these make me a Bad Mom, so be it. That doesn’t mean I’m proud of myself. (You can tell me your True Confessions to make me feel better, if you want to.)

  • If my child picks up a piece of food off the floor, and it’s actual human food, and it’s from today (i.e. not stuck to the kitchen floor from last night’s dinner) then I don’t sprint across the room to snatch it out of his mouth. I think, “Eh, whatever, he’s already put it in his mouth, what’m I gonna do at this point?” The five-second rule is more like the five-hour rule in our house. I realized it had gone too far when I told Miss Pink to share some Goldfish crackers with her brother and saw she had scattered them on the floor on purpose.
  • I use the TV as a babysitter. In fact, I’m doing it right now. I’m sorry, and I hate it, but it’s the only way to get:
    a) some kinds of things done, like writing;
    b) a little peace and quiet, which is absolutely necessary for my mental health.
    It has been this way since Miss Pink stopped taking naps. Sometimes I fantasize about the day when Miss Pink is in kindergarten all day and Mr. Blue will be in preschool.
  • I look at the poop in a poopy diaper before I close it up. I don’t know why I do this. I certainly don’t enjoy it or anything. But if I am ever called upon to describe my son’s last few poops, I could do it!
  • Earlier this week the words, “Stop waking me up! I am NOT going to get up to get you something to drink!” came out of my mouth, in a not-very-nice tone of voice to boot. I felt awful as soon as I said it, as you might imagine, even though a) I was half asleep, having gotten up too early with the teething baby; and b) she had already woken me up at least three times for things like changing the channel. As soon as I got coherent enough, I apologized. Although I did fantasize about working in a cubicle with NO CHILDREN ALLOWED. I would be married, just CHILDLESS. And I would have more sleep, and more money to spend on SHOES.

All of this confession is another way of saying, your children can be the light of your life and the apple of your eye and all that and they can still irritate the hell out of you. And then you realize what a jerk you can be.

Today, though—today was a good day even though it’s rained all day. Pizza for dinner and Miss P and I are going to see the Disney Princesses on Ice. Today I have no confessions except to say that even when I complain, I really wouldn’t trade any of it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Week in review

I've been keeping a writer's journal for the past couple of weeks. I've always had a notebook to write things down in...but would go for quite a while without actually writing things down. Apparently there's a reason every creative writing book and class tell you to keep a journal and write something every day: because then you start to notice things more, and your subconscious kicks in, and all of a sudden you have all this Material.

A lot of that material is going to end up here. This entry is from an exercise in a book called What If... which has a lot of suggestions to jump-start your writing (if you write fiction.) The "assignment" was during a week, to write down 10 things that made you happy and 10 things that annoyed you. I decided to modify it to "up to 10 things" because I had more things that made me happy than annoyed me. And I'm an easily annoyable person. So yes, I realize this makes me a lucky girl.

1. The cilantro-lime rice at Chipotle

2. Eating at least half of a bag of Starburst Sour Jellybeans (over several days, mind you, but it was still a lot of jellybeans) and sharing them with Mr. Blue

3. When Miss Pink told me she didn't have to pray for what she wanted; God had already heard her mention it because "He has excellent hearing."

4. Mr. Blue "answering" a pink plastic cell phone by putting it against the back of his head

5. My friend R inviting Miss Pink over for pizza and a movie with her daughter from 6-9 pm tonight. Too bad we don't have anywhere to send Mr. Blue.

6. The lyrics to the Lyle Lovett songs I've been listening to. It's such a shame, 'cause you've been so good up till now...

7. George Pelecanos' book Hard Revolution has made up for the other disappointing books I've started reading this week.

8. The cluster of people waiting outside the library for it to open. They made me feel that all is not lost for Western civilization.

1. When Miss Pink yells across the house, "Mommmmmmy! I want strawberry milk!" and then proceeds to throw her cup in my direction--oh no, that does not work on me, if you were wondering.

2. This woman in my neighborhood who, I swear, every time I drive by, is outside talking on the phone. It's not a cell phone, but a cordless. What, she doesn't own a couch? The fact that she is a large woman who doesn't wear enough clothes and doesn't appear to own a comb, either--that bothers me too. I don't know why.

3. Today I followed up my one and only workout of the week by buying a quart of ice cream.

4. Apparently it was Senior Citizen Day at Wal-Mart.

5. I will never again let the baby eat two boxes of raisins in one day. I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dinner date

Another question. If you could have an elegant dinner alone with anyone presently alive, whether you know them or not, who would you want it to be?

Um. Let me think. First of all, it doesn't matter if it's an elegant dinner, as long as the food's good. I won't pick someone I know, although many of you are good company, because come on--I can eat with you anytime. And I don't want to eat with someone who intimidates me by their beauty or their fame. I don't think I'd have enough in common with most actors to have a conversation, and I don't know enough about a lot of writers to choose. (What would I say to a writer? "How do you get your ideas?" Please. They hate that.)

So I'm going to say the talk show host Dennis Prager. He knows how to talk in an interesting way and how to listen. He's not just interested in politics but also in moral issues and relationships. I think I'd have a nice time talking to him.

Who would you want to be your dinner companion? Your criteria may be very different than mine--you may want someone gorgeous, so if the conversation flags, you'd have something nice to look at. That's okay.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Super Family

You don’t know it yet, but you are reading the blog of a superhero.

Although I am not the most powerful superhero. Not by a long shot. I’m not even the most powerful superhero in my own house! That’s because my four-year-old daughter has decided we are a family of superheroes. And of course, she is the most powerful superhero among us, because it’s her story and she makes the decisions. Any superpower she can dream up belongs to her. (And when you’re four and you have to do what your parents tell you all the time, it’s the ultimate in fun to fantasize about omnipotence).

Without further ado, I’ll let you in on the secret of our superpowers. You are the only ones who know this. Well, you and EVERY SINGLE PERSON WE MEET IN A PUBLIC PLACE. It’s getting a little old to explain to unsuspecting adults what she’s rattling on about. Plus, the way she spills secrets, if we were superheroes, the bad guys would be having us for breakfast. I mean, we don’t even wear those magic glasses that apparently make Clark Kent look so different that no one recognizes him when he takes them off to become Superman.

But I digress.

Anyway: Miss Pink has become Windy Girl. Her main superpower, as she describes it, is, “I freeze the bad guys with my wind and they can’t move.” She can also use this power as a practical joke, as when she told her parents in the car, “I froze you! So you can’t move.” But she was gracious enough to inform us that she didn’t freeze Daddy’s hands or our mouths. Since we were driving in the car and talking, this was all we needed, so we thanked her.

Windy Girl also co-opts other powers; she can fly, and she has inherited her parents’ ability to shoot webs and to become invisible (more on that in a minute). She loves the wind, as you might assume, but also the sunshine, which she controls as well (not sure how that works).

The father in the family is none other than Spider-Man. This is because Windy Girl saw Spider-Man 2 on TV and was entranced. (Yes, we let her watch a movie rated PG-whatever. You wouldn’t have had the heart to turn the TV off either.) It did not scare her and I think it is sweet that she thinks enough of her dad to make him her hero.

The baby is Radar Boy. I actually named him this for his uncanny ability to locate an open toilet or dishwasher—his latest trick is to climb up and stand on the open door.

As for me, I am named Invisible Mom. I’m not sure why this is my name since I am never able to become invisible when I truly want to, such as when I am trying to take a shower and there is someone crying and banging on the door the whole time.

I’ll leave you with one last anecdote. Yesterday Windy Girl came over to me, sighed, and in a world-weary voice proclaimed, “Mom, I’m tired of being a superhero.”

“Okay, honey, you don’t have to be a superhero all the time. But why don’t you want to be a superhero?”

“I’m just tired of saving the world all the time. It’s hard work, you know?”

Yes, my dear, I do know.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Label Me Happy

When I was a teenager, I was a label snob.

I’m ashamed to admit it, because it is so far from the person I now want to be, but it’s true. I desperately wanted to wear the right labels and I felt more confident when I was wearing something that other teenagers would call “cool” or at least acceptable.

Thankfully, I don’t think I was the kind of snob who rejected others because they weren’t wearing the right brand. I don’t remember ever doing that. I was more the type of kid who asked for a Polo shirt with the embroidered horse and then got upset when her mother brought home a knockoff that had a horse on it—but didn’t have the rider holding the polo stick. Not okay at all—everyone would know not only that I didn’t have the money for a real Polo shirt but also that I was a pretender. I never realized that there were lots of kids who were worried about the same things I was.

But I definitely noticed those who were decked out in the most expensive things, and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be one of them. Fashionable clothes seemed to me like a requirement for membership in a secret, exclusive club. Once you were in, you’d understand. I never got in, so I can’t tell you the secret.

My parents were understanding, so they helped me out to some extent. I had some brand-name clothes, but not a closetful. Most of the Polo and Guess? clothes I had, my mother found at outlet stores (a tradition she and I still continue for ourselves and my kids today—why pay retail when you don’t have to?) If I wanted a bigger-ticket item, like a pair of shoes or a purse, I had to wait for my birthday or Christmas. The first pair of shoes I wanted was when I was ten or eleven. I wanted a pink pair of Reeboks with tiny strips of blue and white leather woven into the toes like basketwork. I waited for those shoes. I was so happy to get them. They went perfectly with my pink L.A. Gear sweatshirt and acid-washed denim skirt. I was careful how I walked for the first few months. After that they got a little scuffed up and just became regular tennis shoes. Plus, the little strips of leather got twisted and the shoes were not even pretty anymore. But now I had my heart set on a pair of Cole-Haan loafers. Surely they would be my ticket.

As I said, label obsession happens to a lot of teenagers. I laughed when I heard an old Billy Joel song recently: “Have you heard about the new fashion, honey? All you need are looks and a whole lot of money.” Yeah, those two things are always necessary to be popular. Or one at the very least. Gorgeous people get invited to the party; sports ability gets you in; and money never hurts in that regard. I knew girls in college who weren’t really pretty at all, but you didn’t notice it because they had perfect haircuts and clothes and the kind of unselfconscious arrogance F. Scott Fitzgerald made a career out of documenting in his novels. As for me, I hung around on the edges of whatever crowd I was attached to and waited to grow up.

I’m sure that most, if not all, teenagers, spend a lot of time moping around feeling like a square peg trying to wiggle into a round hole. I don’t think I would have much to say to anyone who didn’t feel like a weirdo sometimes—someone who was a Golden Girl or Guy in high school—because a feeling of being different has defined every aspect of my character. (You can’t be a fiction writer if you aren’t delusional enough to think you have a different take on things. It’s too discouraging otherwise.) Yet I also know that I am not that different, that pretty much everyone else I know would not go back to high school for any amount of money. Anyone who tells teenagers, “These are the best years of your life” is either sadistic or delusional, I’m not sure which. When people used to tell me that, I’d think, “If that’s true, I might as well kill myself now.”

Luckily it turned out not to be true. I like being an adult, except for the paperwork (and even that’s easier than it used to be, now that I can pay bills online). I think what I like about being grown-up is that I know who I am. I like to dress as well as I can, but what I wear doesn’t define me. I like to look good, but I’m not worried about being rejected for not wearing the right label. Which is a good feeling.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

This took longer than five minutes

I haven't been blogging because my husband was out of town last week. We were staying with my parents and their desktop computer is broken. Plus I spent a lot of time following the kids around as they discovered yet another breakable object in Mamaw's largely un-childproofed house (but at least we didn't break the computer! My dad did.)

In other news, I'm disciplining myself to write AT LEAST five minutes a day of non-required stuff, whether journaling or (gasp!) fiction. Five minutes doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a good discipline to begin and I usually end up finding more time to keep writing once I've gotten going. So some of that stuff may start showing up here. Right now I'm writing about my teenage years--you know, back in the Dark Ages before the Internet and TiVo. It's riveting--riveting, I tell you.

Unfortunately, you're not going to get that today. Instead, I'm going to post the next couple of answers to the IF questions. So far I'm keeping my word to answer all of them since they are in random order in the book. It's not my fault if they are boring. But maybe you will find them riveting; who am I to say?

If you could eliminate one type of insect permanently from the earth, which would you get rid of?

Easy: mosquitoes. (Also known as the state bird of Louisiana, as my husband told me while we had our blood sucked romantically right before he proposed. I could've done without the skeeters.)

If you had to eliminate a single type of animal forevermore, which would you choose?

I'm going to say feral hogs, because I cannot see any use for them and I've heard they reproduce so rapidly that attempts to control the population are failing and they are very destructive. However, if I wanted to be really controversial and incur the wrath and hatred of a LOT of people, I'd say that I wouldn't really care if I never saw a house cat again. Did I say that out loud? Please don't throw things! *ducking and running*

The baby is awake and I'm hungry. Have a great day.