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, October 30, 2011

Improper Poll: The Candy Man

Today while I was in the grocery store checkout line, the Checkout-Dude asked me if the candy I was buying was for Halloween or for “personal use.”

At first I was speechless. I was buying four large bags, so all sorts of retorts crossed my mind. Ultimately I blabbed out the truth: it’s supposed to be for Halloween, but the reason I buy it so late is to prevent it from being personally used. Then I heard myself saying, “I try to hide it from myself, but I always find it.”

Sad to say, this is true. I also try buying the kinds I don’t like, but that’s pretty hard since I like pretty much everything, including Almond Joy—which, let’s face it— almost nobody seems to like.

Don’t you think he wouldn’t have said such a thing if I looked like I routinely snack on four large bags of candy? That’s what I’m telling myself.

Are you able to resist the Halloween candy? Any tricks I should know about?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #35

It’s time again for Book Blurb Friday! Thank you to Lisa Ricard Claro of Writing in the Buff for hosting this wonderful challenge to write a blurb of 150 words max designed to sell a book inspired by her picture. I loved this week's photograph, and this is overwhelmingly one of my favorite covers so far. My blurb this week is 144 words.
If God had ever spoken to Christopher Jostus, Chris had clearly never listened. Chris was a drug dealer, a thief, a wretch who hardly knew what the inside of a church looked like. But an old woman who had once made quite an impression on Chris began appearing to him. In a burning trash bin, in an alley, in his dreams. Each time she said the same thing: “God is calling you, son.”

And what’s more, God wasn’t calling just to save him. God wanted to put him to work helping others. Hard work.

Was it the drugs? Was Chris losing his mind? No one had ever bet on Chris before in his life. Why would God have such lofty goals for a drug-addled loser?

The answer that surprised everyone was because Chris could deliver. And Chris was perhaps the most surprised of all.

Saint Anthony once wrote about having gone into the desert on silent retreat and being assaulted by all manner of visions—devils and angels, both. He said, in his solitude, he sometimes encountered devils who looked like angels, and other times he found angels who looked like devils. When asked how he could tell the difference, the saint said that you can only tell which is which by the way you feel after the creature has left your company. If you are appalled, he said, then it was a devil who had visited you. If you feel lightened, it was an angel. ~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sub Notes: A Scary Halloween Story

I’m sorry to say this is not my story. This is an “as told to” story passed along by an elementary school teacher some time ago. I just thought it bore repeating and fits so nicely with Halloween.

There were several children in the family, all elementary-aged and under. At some point after the mother ran off and left the father and children, a well-known prostitute in town moved into the family’s trailer.

The children referred to her as The Nanny.

The children had been under The Nanny’s care for several weeks when Halloween rolled around. The school’s policy was that costumes were allowed as long as they weren’t threatening in any way.

The Nanny sent a note to the children’s teachers saying that the youngsters wouldn’t be attending school on Halloween because “Halloween is a day for SATIN!”

So instead of exposing them to such turpitude, The Nanny took the children to the local bar with her. Where the authorities eventually had to retrieve them after she got arrested and hauled off to jail for getting into a drunken brawl with another woman.

Ah, the fabric of humanity.

Happy Halloween.

Halloween is a day for SATIN! ~The Nanny

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Improper Poll: The Date with Superfluous Boobs

During my college years, I went out (once) with this guy. In my defense, I later found out a good friend of mine had also gone out with him and had an almost identical experience. In order to carefully protect this friend’s identity, we’ll call her Diborah, (Dib for short). In both our cases, when we’d first met him, he was cute. Slim, twenties. Had on a loose shirt that buttoned down the front.

Then, for the date, he showed up in a knit shirt. The tight one. The one that showed off the fact that he had positively enormous breasts.

“Huge ones!  Huge!"  was Dib’s comment.

Dib, as it turns out, did not even get the full treatment that I did. On my date, the guy also brought a couple of his friends along—the brofriends. The brofriends were presumably there in order to conduct a Cheech-and-Chong-like discussion…of me. In front of me. As if I weren’t there. They said things like, “Dude! This one’s okay, but what about that last one? That Shauna? Dude! She was hot.  But this one’s okay….”

This from a man with breasts that were bigger than mine. And the two men who were on his date with him.

Do you have any memorable first date stories?

Cam: Notice that I have not eaten any of the chocolates.
Mitchell: There were two levels. You know it and I know it.
~Modern Family

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #34

It’s Book Blurb Friday! Thank you to Lisa Ricard Claro of Writing in the Buff for hosting this marvelous challenge to write a book jacket blurb of 150 words or fewer to go with her picture. The goal is to get potential readers to buy the book.

This week I have 150 words.

~The Road Taken~

High school freshman Mackenzie (Mac) found her entire world shaken by her family’s move from Chicago to the town of Greenwood, IL. At a time in her life when she was struggling with who she was, now she had to deal with where she was as well. And Mac felt like a complete outsider in this rural area.

Everything changed when Mac bought a bike and began exploring the woods. When she rode down the path, she was inexplicably transported back to Chicago—to her old life—for the rest of the day, as if the move had never happened. The next day she was back to Greenwood and reality.

Desperately lonely Mac rode to her old life again and again. Until it became clear that her old life led to a disaster of tragic proportions. The question was, was it too late now to get back home to Greenwood?

“No matter how far you go down the wrong road, you can always turn back.” ~Poster in high school classroom

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Improper Poll: Fall

I just felled a tree. All by myself. And I did it using a saw that looks a little like a giant emery board. Well, really the tree was a weed, but this was a really big weed. Like, it was taller than my house and the caliper was at least 4”. And it was growing behind some giant shrubs, so I had to crawl into the foliage while leaves and what felt like bugs rained down on my head.  Afterwards I had to do my own bug check.

I am Paula Bunion. No! I am Sheena, mighty conqueror of forests!

Have you done something you’re proud of lately?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #33

Am happy to report that once again it is Book Blurb Friday thanks to Lisa Ricard Claro’s Writing in the Buff! The challenge is to borrow her picture and then “write a book jacket blurb (150 words or less) so enticing that potential readers would feel compelled to buy the book.”

My contribution this week is a mere 103 words.

~Take Me to Your Larry~

Larry Ponopolis had been warning the people of Camp Verde, Arizona for years: the aliens were coming. Larry, who lived in his Aunt Tammy’s trailer along with his large collection of pet skinks, had found proof in some hieroglyphs scratched on the walls of nearby Montezuma National Monument. But no matter how long Larry stood by the popular Lotta Tots drive thru holding up a sign that read “The Allens are Comming!” (spelling wasn’t Larry’s forte), no one paid attention other than to chuck the occasional tot his way.

Until, that is, the aliens really did show up.

And they asked for Larry.

Back by popular demand, SpongeBob Squarepants:
Psst, Squidward, I'm working in the kitchen...at night! Hey Squidward, guess what? I'm chopping lettuce...at night! Look at me, I'm swabbing the bathroom...at night! OW I burned my hand!..at night!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Improper Poll: Fishing for Tact

This is Fish Day for me—the day I clean out my itsy bitsy pond and get it ready for winter. It’s grueling and nasty and smelly work, so I’m taking one of many breaks.

Not too long ago my 18 year old daughter bought a beta, and the fish promptly died. So I went with her to the store to figure out what went wrong. Fortunately this store had a very knowledgeable manager who was willing to discuss all of the aspects of fish care with her. Every time the manager would bring up the nature of the fish’s condition, he used a euphemism. They started out very commonplace. The fish was a “floater.” It “went to that big fishbowl in the sky.”

But as he went on, his creativity kicked in. Even though the pet was a fish and the owner was a legal adult, the manager never forgot what I’m sure is a cardinal rule of pet shop management, which is always to respect the bereaved when dealing with a deceased pet. Lucky for us, he was loath to use the same phrase twice, so they got increasingly interesting. The fish “met the other fishes in fish heaven,” “went to live in the big sea,” and my personal favorite, “swam with the other fishes.”

But back to the pond. The above is an old picture. Sad to say, since Bob’s recent demise at the age of eight, I am down to two goldfish—Leopard and H.C. Bob was my favorite, though. It appeared to have been natural causes, at least. He turned into an angel fish.  Swam up the river Styx.  Kicked the chum bucket. Bought the hatchery. Swam toward the light down the big porcelain tunnel.

Do you have any entertaining euphemisms for death?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Blurb #32

Once again it’s Book Blurb Friday, a fantastic meme from Lisa Ricard Claro’s Writing in the Buff. The challenge is to borrow her picture and then “write a book jacket blurb (150 words or less) so enticing that potential readers would feel compelled to buy the book.”

I’m still in sci fi mode. Can you guess what genre I’ve been reading lately? My blurb this week is 122 words.

~Where Angels Tread~

Will Freeman had always led a weird life in his 27 years. Good luck? Bad? He had a knack for attracting both. Or so he thought…until he met a strange young woman named Rayne who kept telling him the same crazy story: Will’s official title was Pawn. She and Will were tokens chosen by “Angels” in an extraterrestrial game of chess.

Their game was to interfere—to throw circumstances in the way of each other’s chosen Pawns in order to bet on how they would respond. Could Will and Rayne team up and somehow beat the Angels at their own game? And if so, how?

Or was Rayne herself a plant to see how Will would respond?

Or was she merely insane?

For he loved her, as you can only love someone who is an echo of yourself at your time of deepest sorrow. ~Orson Scott Card

Oh, tartar sauce. ~SpongeBob Squarepants

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sub Notes: The Fire Drill

I’m subbing in a high school that never warns subs about pre-scheduled fire drills. Which is just mean.  So of course this particular school has them all the time.

Fire drills are a nightmare for subs. Imagine being charged with keeping track of 27 people you’ve never met before who are pretty much trying to lose you. And they’re all the same age and look surprisingly alike. And they know the surroundings much better than you do.

When you’re a sub, the problem with fire drills isn’t getting the kids out of the building. It’s keeping track of them while you do, then knowing where to take them. And getting them all back in again, of course.

Subs pretty much have to follow the kids, at least enough to know which are theirs and where they meet up outside. So once I tried following a girl in a red shirt. Later I found out I had managed to pick the only new student in the classroom. She didn’t know where she was going any more than I did, so we both ended up getting lost. If you’re lost, you are considered unaccounted for, and the fire department has to plan to go in after you. It’s all pretend, of course, but the fire department doesn’t enjoy even pretending to go in after you. Which is understandable.

One problem is that when you’re my age, they all look alike. If you decide to follow what looks like a distinctive plaid shirt, for example, when they all come pouring out of classrooms in thundering droves, suddenly there will be at least ten distinctive plaid shirts. And high school kids are big. They block your view.

So one of the last times I tried to follow several students at once. I kept repeating to myself what I was following. I kept repeating dreadlocks, flower-and-skeleton shirt, t-shirt with the word “bong” on it, girl-who-looks-like-the-girl-who-plays-Bella. Lost Bong Shirt immediately. Dreadlocks walked away, but I managed to track him down. Kept Bella Look-Alike in sight, but she was petite, so that made it hard.

In the end, I made it to the right place thanks to Flower-and-Skeleton kid, who was big. Hooray! But it turned out Flower-and-Skeleton had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. He realized I was following him and took it personally.

He never forgave me for it.

Most people fail in the art of living not because they are inherently bad or so without will that they cannot lead a better life; they fail because they do not wake up and see when they stand at a fork in the road and have to decide. ~Erich Fromm, The Heart of Man; Its Genius for Good and Evil

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Improper Poll: Full of Rocks

I have a small hobby that most people never notice—except, ironically, middle school aged boys. It’s ironic because I imagine middle school boys don’t notice much about me at all. But what they invariably notice is that I often wear…rocks. Sometimes it’s been a little game, to see which rocks I have on today and if they can name them.

While many of my friends grew up dreaming of diamonds, I dreamed of jaspers with distinct veining. And now one of my personal indulgences is wearing rocks. That’s why my little avatar wears turquoise (or more likely dyed howlite or aventurine).

Do you have a weird hobby most people don’t know about?