Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Improper Poll: Petrifaction

Many thanks to Val Thevictorian of Unbagging the Cats for inspiring this week’s Improper Poll question with her entertaining tale of a mummified MacDonald’s cheeseburger (see “Gone Furniture Fishin’"). That incident reminded me of the year my college roommate unearthed a petrified pizza slice from beneath her bed while moving out for summer vacation. Just as Val stated, it was perfectly preserved but shrunken, like a voodoo shrunken head of the food world.

Years later, when my daughter reached the age where they get those little kitchen sets with the rubber food, she would own a rubber pizza slice that reminded me a whole lot of that petrified pizza. Have you ever found mummified food?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #4

Thank you to Lisa Ricard Claro of Writing in the Buff for hosting Book Blurb Friday! Each week, she posts a fictional book cover (as opposed to the cover of a fictional book!) so that we can write a blurb of 150 words or less to go with it. Here’s mine, at 148 words.

But first, thank you to new blog followers Margo Benson, who is very clever with writing prompts, and Sandra Davies, whose blog is richly layered and artistic. Welcome!
~Unhappy Berthday~

The brochure promised dinner and an exciting melodrama performed with audience participation onboard the “Romantic Railway’s Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre.” Jane Miller thought it would be a fun way to celebrate her 40th birthday—while putting a little excitement back into her stale marriage to Tom. Little did she know that they would plummet into adventure like a runaway train….

When the character named Miss Eliza Pettypants turned up murdered in Berth 19, everyone marveled at how realistic the actors had made it look…until they realized that the unfortunate Miss P. wasn’t acting. Worse, the authorities seemed to suspect…Tom. Good old trustworthy Tom? What Jane would uncover while trying to solve who really killed Miss Eliza Pettypants was more remarkable than any theatrical production. And worst of all, Jane kept arriving back at the same destination like a circling train: Was Tom really a murderer, after all?

An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind. ~Buddha

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Le Bon Voyage

My daughter recently left for her senior trip to Paris. We stood in the black predawn in front of her school while some of the fathers loaded luggage, and I watched her getting ready to go off and have the experiences that I hoped would make priceless deposits into her bank-of-life. Oh, the flashbacks!

When she discovered that her first name is French, we had to check out language books at the library. One year she wanted a computer language course so she could study over summer. To this day we still speak what I call “Pepé le Pew”—a mix of the words and phrases I remember from junior high and high school liberally interspersed with English and made-up words that I’m sure should be French. But over the years she grew to instructing me, gently and politely, and recently I’ve noticed that her Pepé is completely lacking in Pew….

One year it was the Madeline books, the dolls, and the clothing. She painstakingly constructed a replica of the Eiffel Tower out of tongue depressors for a school project, and I found myself going on late-night emergency tongue depressor quests.

Once when she was little she proudly announced, “I know how to French kiss!” I stared at her gap-toothed grin and tried to sound nonchalant. “Oh?” She leaned in and gave me a peck on each cheek. “That’s how French people kiss!” she chirped. How I smiled back at her, bigger and bigger! “Yes,” I said. “It is, isn’t it?”

She is no slacker, working hard as she has at various jobs to earn money for the trip (in addition to paying for things we can’t afford since the divorce), while still putting aside some for her college. For nearly a year now, she’s been getting gifts with a decidedly French theme. She’s slowly accumulated new cameras and passport holders and luggage tags and gadgetry. We’ve been through the paperwork and the checklists again and again.

Now I hugged her close in the dark parking lot. She has become La Tour Eiffel, this thin, strong girl who towers over me, and I now am L’Arc de Triomphe. It might be her bank-of-life, but I was the one who felt rich at that moment. And I kissed her cheeks au revoir, and I sent her off to become her own fine (French!) future self.

“…little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.” ~Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Improper Poll: Gone Furniture Fishin’

I recently had to dig through the sofa cushions to look for a highlighter one of my kids had borrowed. I was shocked. Counting both the sofa and the loveseat, I found: 2 pens, a very smashed dryer sheet (they are evil and they follow me), a small Christmas bow, a piece of ribbon, 1 pink Easter jelly bean, a chocolate-scented colored pencil, a tiny black decorative feather, the remains of a candy wrapper, and (amazingly), the highlighter I was looking for. Guess I should be checking under the cushions more often, but I had no idea that you could hold a scrapbooking party out of the booty obtained…beneath our booties.

So today’s improper poll question is…am I the only one with gross sofas? Or have you ever found anything interesting under your cushions?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #3

Many thanks to Lisa Ricard Claro of Writing in the Buff for hosting Book Blurb Friday! Each week, she posts a picture of a pretend book cover so that we can write a fictional blurb of 150 words or fewer to go with it.

But first, welcome to new blog followers Tony Benson (who is giving away books in a blog contest), Ellie Garratt, who currently has some great advice for writers, and Dominic de Mattos, who writes science fiction and so much more!

Here’s my #3 at 114 words:
~ Meeting Eddie ~

Stellah Rescher was a pampered debutant living a quintessential life of ease until everything she knew was shaken by the discovery that her biological father is really Eddie Frye, an alcoholic former candidate for the priesthood who is in and out of mental institutions.

Now this veritable stranger needs a life-threatening favor of Stellah, one that she doesn’t know if she can deliver.

In this delightfully gripping exploration into identity, responsibility and growth, the reader is invited to embrace this complex cast of characters as they struggle with the question of what it means to have a rich life. Meeting Eddie is more than a tale. It is a date with the human spirit.

“A very wise friend once told me she believes part of our journey here on earth is to forgive our parents….” ~Becky Povich

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Improper Poll: Inner Rumblings

I have a noisy stomach. Okay, it’s not my stomach that’s noisy, but my whole digestive tract. The noise seems to be completely random in nature and is not associated with illness or any other forms of urgency. It’s as if my innards just occasionally decide to throw loud parties which involve lots of celebratory shouting without consulting the landlord, as it were. The medical term for this, which a friend told me and not a doctor, (because I’d be WAY too embarrassed to mention this to a doctor), is borborygmus. Apparently I have borborygmus.

So anyway, once in a small, intimate college classroom during a particularly quiet discussion, my evil borborygmus tenants decided it was a major holiday.

“What is the significance of the peach in that scene?” the professor asked. “Bbbllllorrrgglllorrrglorrgeeewww?” my intestines answered.

Really. What can you do? I couldn’t blame it on someone else. They all knew it was me. If I’d sat there just turning various shades of red to red-purple, that’s just pathetic. I had no choice but to laugh. I also apologized. People smiled and nodded. Ah yes, close to lunch time…but of course we all knew they were really just being kind because it wasn’t my stomach growling, but my intestines. My borborygmus. And it wasn’t so much of a growl as it was a drunken-sounding shriek.

The professor waited politely for the topic of my noisy digestive tract to die down and took another stab at it. “What does the narrator mean by saying….”

“Bbluggglelugglelugglegrrrrorrrrglloorrrg?” my intestines interrupted. This time, everybody else laughed. Except the professor. He didn’t laugh.

Should I have excused myself? I still wonder this. But that just seems like running away, which is exactly what it would have been, and all I could think of was that if I ran away, at some point I would have to show back up. And then I would be the Girl-With-Borborygmus-Who-Also-Ran-Away. Because-of-the-Borborygmus.

So I just sat there and laughed again—while turning various shades of red to red-purple—and mentally stomped on the floor of my intestines to warn them to shut up and stop throwing wild keggers because the rest of us were trying to have a quiet, serious discussion up here. Alas, the intestines paid no attention though the classroom became focused on nothing else. Everyone was eventually engaged only in listening for the next entertaining noise my digestive tract would make. The professor released the class early in disgust.

So I have the enviable distinction of possessing intestines which are able to cancel school. And you’ll be happy to hear that’s not my only bodily function story. So today’s Improper Poll Question is: Do you have a story about bodily functions, either your own or someone else’s?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #2

So far I am really enjoying Lisa Ricard Claro's "Book Blurb Friday!"  This is only #2, but I've begun to look forward to it as my TGIF break after work.  I believe she posts the new ones on Thursday nights, but I don't allow myself to look until Friday, and then I write whatever immediately comes to my head.  I guess a little like a writer's Rorschach...which is literally a scary thought this week.

~The Groveyard~

The large Overton family couldn’t wait to move from the traffic and crime of the city to their peaceful new home in the woods.  But they soon found out that it wasn’t the pastoral escape they’d once believed.  One by one, the pets began to disappear.  Were they really all running away?  And then, when the family decided a tire swing was just perfect for that big apple tree out back, the unthinkable happened….

Where was little Nikky Overton?!

Just when things couldn’t get any worse, a mysterious child began to appear in the swing with a message:

Don’t.  Touch.  The Apple Tree.

(105 words.)

Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who. ~from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Truth Revealed

Maybe I exaggerated a teensy bit, but I do estimate that you couldn’t get a brush all the way through my hair for almost a decade. It was clean and everything, and the Rat’s Nest was usually hidden from view (especially for things like my Romper Room debut), but it lurked there mainly because no one in my family could withstand the blood-curdling screams emitted during attempts at Rat’s Nest removal. And cutting was out of the question. I was proud of the fact that I could sit on my hair.
Am pretty sure the candy striper who finally removed it, whose name really was something like Debbi, was a sadist-in-training who was eventually hired by a lesser known dictator to extract military secrets from prisoners of war.

I did learn to juggle in my late thirties. Not well, but to me it fulfilled enough of a lifelong dream just to learn to keep three balls in the air at once. Now if only I could do that figuratively....

I thought you’d think I’m too much of a “Carol” to have partied with Grace. This was not her heyday, by the way, and I was young enough—and she was sedate enough—that at the time I didn’t fully appreciate who she was.

When I picked the lie that I did, I forgot to consider that some of you might think it was impolite even to suggest that I can’t sing. I've had a long time to reconcile myself to it. My non-singing is so legendary that I giggled guiltily even typing such a whopper.

When my oldest was a newborn, I decided I would sing him to sleep just like those nice TV moms. I mean, how could he have any taste about the quality of my singing voice? Tabula rasa, right? So I took that swaddled baby and I rocked with him in the rocking chair and softly sang “Desperado,” because besides my horrible voice, I can never remember words to songs—except that one. And it didn’t sound too bad, if I do say so myself.

Even more amazing, it worked. He fell asleep in my arms. I was so proud! And then I noticed under the blanket…yes, I promise this really is true…his tiny fists were mashed firmly against his ears.

Plus I later read that newborns often respond to horrible noises by falling asleep.

As they grew, darned if those little “blank slates” didn’t moan, “NOOOO! Mom, STOP SINGING!!!” if I sang around them. Except during renditions of “Happy Birthday to You,” when they only snickered.

Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind. ~Buddha

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just When You Think It’s Safe to Blog About Boogers….

You win two awards! Hooray!! In the order received, thank you so much to Linda O'Connell of Write from the Heart, good friend and inspirational writer who truly does write—and live—from the heart. Linda ever so tactfully emailed me about the booger post; did I mind having my work showcased…now? I told her the truth: my writing has been as blocked as my sinuses lately. That’s okay…I think maybe this is helping to jolt me out of it! And I think I'm supposed to post a picture of myself blogging, so here goes, but I couldn't clean my desk without compromising crucial Post-It note placement, so I didn't.

And thank you to Jules of Trying to Get Over the Rainbow, whose posts always seem to touch me deeply whether they are funny, serious, or—amazingly enough—both at once. In her case, I understand that I am supposed to tell you four truths and one lie. See if you can guess the lie:

1. I once partied with Grace Slick.

2. People have always told me I should be a singer.

3. I was on a show called Romper Room when I was four. The teacher had a mike around her neck with a long cord, and I remember tripping on it and choking her a little bit and almost pulling her over. At the end of the show, she had that Magic Mirror thing she’d look through and say, “I see Johnny, and I see Beth, and I see….” And I squinted and stared and searched, and she couldn’t see anyone. She was lying! I was horrified.

4. I didn’t grow hair until I was about three. Once I finally got hair, though, no one touched it. Maybe they were afraid it would fall out again if they messed with it any. So my hair just sat there, unbrushed, and grew longer and longer. A knot formed at the nape of the neck that became legendary in my family as “The Rat’s Nest.” As the hair grew longer, the rat’s nest grew bigger.

My sister called it “circus woman hair.” I was enormously flattered. I thought circus women were the most beautiful creatures in the world, and in fact aspired to be The Lady Who Dangles from Her Hair. She had this big, boofy hair, and they attached something to it and hoisted her up and spun her around in her sparkly costume like a human disco ball. It was the coolest thing in the whole world.

I figure The Rat’s Nest existed from age three until I was hospitalized for pneumonia at age ten and an ambitious candy striper insisted on combing it out. In addition to the agony I went through, what she extracted from my head resembled a small poodle and looked big enough for a whole family of rats. My hair was half its size when she got done. I figured there went my career.

5. I learned to juggle as part of a midlife crisis and still have a bit of a circus fixation.

And now, I pass these awards along to:

Valthevictorian at Unbagging the Cats.  I’m so proud that my nose-picking post inspired deeper analysis. And her Toenail Rug made me laugh so hard, my whole screen shook because I forgot to take my hand off the mouse. And the malcontent story….

Ella over at Ella’s Edge is a mother, poet, artist, and probably lots more I haven’t discovered yet...but I'm looking forward to reading more.

Sioux of Sioux's Page is either a kindred spirit or maybe that's just wishful thinking, but I always get a refreshing laugh at her clever, fun posts.

There were more I wanted, but I currently can't see anyone's followers including my own, and it's very frustrating that this has happened on top of not being able to see a lot of pictures.  If anyone knows what the deal is, please let me know! 

I hate, hate, hate being left out. Whether it’s not being picked for a team or being picked for a team and then showing up and realizing that the team doesn’t exist or that the sport doesn’t exist. I should have known…poop ball. ~Michael Scott, “The Office”

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Improper Poll: Multiple Pick Jackpot

I dearly love the frank honesty of a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless, but whose birthday is today—HAPPY BIRTHDAY). We were discussing nose piercings, and she commented that she would never want a nose stud because it would impede nose picking. I agreed that would be a hazard. In fact, I’d worry that the inner apparatus would actually trap boogers, thereby necessitating further pickage.

I think I have the wrong look for a nose piercing, anyway. When my daughter was in middle school, one of her friends told me I look like my name should be Carol. I was shocked. No offense to Carols—it’s better than looking like a Tammy, mind you (because of course Tammys wear frosty blue eye shadow and tend to burn down the trailer court when they throw flaming frying pans at their common-law husbands)—but still. A Carol? The horror—she was right. And a nose ring just wouldn’t go on a Carol. If I had even halfway-good abs, though, I’d definitely get a navel piercing.

So today’s Improper Poll question is a multiple, and you get to pick (ha, get it?!) one or more to answer:

Would you get your nose pierced?
If your nose is pierced, is picking difficult for you?
If you had to have one piercing other than the ears, what would you pick and why?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Blurb Friday

First...oofdah, what a week! I hope to have time to blog about it later, but for now, please know that I can't wait to get back into blogland and check out all I missed this week.

And now I'm excited to try a new meme begun by Lisa Ricard Claro of Writing in the Buff. Every Thursday evening she'll post a photo of a pretend book cover. In 150 words or less, we are to write a blurb that should go on the back of the book. Then we link from/to her site.

I thought I would play with this too long, but when she posted the photo (below), I wrote up something right away and giggled my way through it. Thanks, Lisa!

~The Deadly Sins~

Envie Prideland was a sixteen-year-old shoplifter who was tired of living in the poor part of town…until she accidentally stole the diary of snooty classmate Sinclair Greedly.

The secret that Envie discovered about Sinclair and her charming surfer boyfriend, Luston Slothby, would not only cause her to rethink her kleptomania and her struggles with poverty, it would leave Envie struggling to save the life of the unfortunate new girl in town, Gluttoni Angership.

This must-have young adult novel…will steal your heart.

(81 words.)

And welcome to new blog follower Ella of Ella's Edge!  I'm so flattered you stopped by and decided to come back!

“I used to be fun, but I had to give all that up. You can’t have two fun parents. You know that kid, Liam, who wears pajama pants to school and pays for things with hundred dollar bills? Two fun parents. Mark my words.” ~Claire in “Modern Family”