Monday, December 07, 2009

Meet Pebbles

Ah, little girls. Aren't they precious? I love the duality of them - dressed in pink, wearing a tiara, and ready to kick some Almighty Ass. I was surprised by the ferocity of my daughter, coming as she did after her big-hearted, gentle brother.

A short illustration of Pebbles at two: (she was always an Old Soul)
There is an altercation in BamBam's room. There are raised voices, then an extended, squalling screech and the sound of a door slamming. Pebbles' footsteps approach, to where I am peeling potatoes in the kitchen.
"BamBam won't share his Lego."
"Oh really? Did you ask nicely and say please?"
She heaves a dramatic sigh, and turns to go back down the hall. "Fine, I'll see if that works."

At three:
"Mom, I hurt my hand."
It looks fine to me, the knuckles are maybe a little red. I gather her to me, and lovingly inquire, "What happened, Sweetie?"
"I bumped it on BamBam's face."

And later that day...
BamBam comes to me, his hand on his throat. He's been coughing, and his eyes are watering.
"Mom, Pebbles just kicked me in the throat."
She comes around the corner to the kitchen, eyes wide, fiddling with a stuffed bear. "What? I was just showing him the bottom of my foot."

And last night a the supper table?
"...and then we found the Ghost king's hiding spot from on the map BamBam made, and after we beat him, we fought the Monster king, and now we're going to - "
"Dance with the Snow Fairies? Sing with the Mermaid princesses?"
"What? No, we're going to fight the ZOMBIE king...until he's DEAD!"
"Oh. Wow."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Oh, the humanity!

Lunch today was supposed to be tossed garden salad with pecans, white cheddar and raspberry viniagrette dressing, but I'm just not feeling all that. Instead, I am eating a freezer-burned pizza pocket, soggy on one side, and warm Crystal Lite. It's a little bit gross. I am happy. No, I have no idea what is the matter with me. I am not a person who always makes sense.

And this has me thinking about characters, and motivation. And the Laura Secord Toffee Crunch chocolate bar in my purse.

One of the things that distinguishes decent writing from really good writing, for me, is this simple thing. The ways that humanity is revealed in a character, by the simple admission that people don't always make sense. The book that most comes to mind here is the Poisonwood Bible. It's full of people I adored, and I just wanted to shake some of them. I felt so much, because I could see what they could not: their mistakes, misconceptions, flaws, blind spots.

This is a skill I would very much like to master.

But first, chocolate!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Slogging through the middle, knee deep in doubt

I've been doing a fairly good job avoiding the sexy other projects, new and old, that have been trying to tempt me away from A HAND TO HOLD. I know exactly what's happening - I'm staring at the Dreaded Middle, and thinking there just might be a way around, some way I might not have to face myself just now. But I do. And I must. The only way is to keep writing.

Yesterday I scribbled out a scene that happens outside my MC's point of view, and will likely not be included anywhere as I'm using first person. In this scene, Carrie's best friend Erin spills some private information to Luke - the new lover. This leads up to the fight that ends the middle and starts us on the chain of events leading to the climax.

I've been wondering how to stage the actual confrontation between Luke and Carrie. there are events in his past that make it hard for him to trust, consequently he is very big on honesty. Carrie hasn't lied, she just hasn't told him (about the night she overdosed on sleeping pills.) This feels like a big betrayal to him, so how does he act? How does he tell her he knows? How does Luke fight?

How does Carrie react? She's never seen him angry like this, she's shocked. She's finally allowed herself to love and be intimate, and suddenly he's shoving her away with both hands. I suppose she's angry. She knows how he feels about honesty, but she doesn't feel she owed him that information. That's private, and she's stubborn. Hmmm.

So I wrote out the conversation between Erin and Luke, just thinking that if I knew myself exactly what was said, I might have some insight into how Luke would react. I also figured out a bit more about where Erin's coming from. I'm pleased with it.

So today, odds are work will be busy. In between, I'll see if I can't get into Carrie's head a little.

But first, coffee!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sudden inspiration, or fruitless distraction?

Today I am almost frantic to work on my historical novel, THE WITCH OF BADENOCK. The main character keeps talking to me, but I've had such a hard time with that story that I've almost decided not to go back. It's the history part - I'm constantly doubting myself, is this accurate? Is that accurate? I should just say to feck with that, and write the story to please me and only me, because the truth is that's where the best stories come from.

So I might plug in to her later, but first I must work, work, work! Christmas cards to sign by the hundreds. Customers calling, customers leaving voice meessages and sending emails to follow up on their voice messages. I love my work, I'm just sick of it right now. I'd rather be writing.

I have some lovely new recipes to share, one for turnip gratin you can find over at Simply Recipes, and one for Bread Pudding with rum-butterscotch sauce and raisins.

For now, there's a customer at the counter who wonders why the computer he bought four years ago was fine then, but not now. (Sigh)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Because there's really only today.

Today, I will write morning pages to try to clear some of the static out of my brain. There are some family dramas that are looping through the old gray matter, and it's interfering with how much I enjoy my life. I'm a little rattled - I cannot find my center. These things shall not be tolerated!

Today I will eat a ham and swiss cheese sandwich with extra swiss. And whatever else gets in my way that looks chocolatey.

Today I will not answer any call originating from a 1-800 number. So piss off, whoever you are. I'm bloggin', heah.

Today I will remember that I am awesome - divine, even - and I expect you to remember that you are too, young lady.

Today I will remember the importance of gratitude.

Today I will reconsider the begining of the novel. I need another scene, 2-3K, to go before the graveside scene. Plus, I have not forgotten my halloween X. It's coming, promise!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Decisions slow in coming, but well made

"Stephenie Meyer was a stay-at-home mother to three boys, and she wrote TWILIGHT in three months. Nobody even knew she was doing it."

My husband didn't immediately turn from the television to address my remark, but when he did, the expression in his green eyes was cautious and a tiny bit resigned. We've had this conversation before. It never goes well. Why do I always bring it up again?

It's not about Stephenie Meyer, JK Rowling or any otherbody writer who has manged to type out enough consecutive, related words to tell a story. It's not about the fact that they did it while their lives were full of other commitments. This conversation is about the fact that I. Can. Not.

My husband is the kind of person who never walks away from an unfinished job. I know this about him, and if he's in the middle of something I know he needs to give it most of his attention until it is done. Behind this man is a list of fixed things and stuff taken care of that boggles my mind. I respect him, and all the people in the world that are like him. I want him to tell me that I can do that too. I can be like that.

Except if I could - if I was - I would have finished this effing novel by now.

The conversation lead into deeper and deeper emotional waters that churned with my frustration and feelings of failure. I wanted him to reach in and pull me out, tell me what a capable and effective person I am.

But my husband - he tells me the truth. Always. And what he said sounded something like: if I want to write a book - and he does not doubt that I CAN - I will have to crack down and Actually Do It. I might even have to stop wasting time on the internet reading blogs and such.
Damn that man. He really makes me mad sometimes. Clearly he just does not understand. (S)

But he also said a few other True Things. He said that I need to remember that I am a mother - and that I have always wanted to be a mother, and the children come first with me. Since I am away from them at work full time, I spend my home-time doing crafts with them, reading to them, baking with them, and screaming my fool head off at them. I take care of people. That is who I am, and it is good.

I like that. That makes me feel better, but still, I walk around with this thing I could not accomplish. Other writer friends - the ones on the internet, of course! - have told me and told me that I need to get myself a system that works. If I'm serious about writing professionally then I need to BE professional about it. Eventually they got bored of telling me this and wandered away. I don't blame them, actually. I have been moaning about this and beating myself up about this for years and It. Stops. Now.

I am a mother first, and that is just who I am. I am a business owner, and I have to be that too. I am proud of who I am wearing both of those hats. I am a wife too, and a very lucky one (as you can see.) I want to keep that in good working order. So all of these things are right with my world, and I think I forget to remember that.

I have made a decision: I am leaving the guilt behind.

I'm not letting myself completely off the hook, though. I can't face the prospect of leaving my writer-self on some deserted island. I will continue to write, and I will continue to ask more of myself, just without the anxiety that rides high in my chest when I don't get to the page. It's just too much drama, man. It's always there, in the back of my mind. And I am not a failure.

Let's face it: I am not finishing this novel this year. It's just not on. But I will build a better writing habit. I've decided that I will write something every day. No word minimums for now, just something - whether it's morning pages or a journal entry or a scene for the novel. I'm not giving up. I just want writing to be a joy and an outlet in my life, and eventually - some day - a success to add to these other important things I'm working so hard at.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A post, in honor of...what was I saying?

Every once in a while, I have a day through which I am forced to wander wide-eyed without the benefit of any attention span at all. Goldfish Day, I call it, and it's roughly oh, say, every 28 days. Today is that day. Blink. Blink.

In honor of Goldfish Day, some nonsense and trivia.

What do you get when you cross PMS with GPS?
A crazy b*tch who WILL FIND YOU.

25% of Canadians do not consume fruits or vegetables on a daily basis. According to a study cited by CBC, anyway. 40% - no milk or milk products. What are people DOING to themselves? And where is the chip dip?

New music loves - I highly recommend you check out Missy Higgins, Eric Hutchinson, and Tristan Prettyman. Hey look, my grapes have seeds today! Life is full of surprises.

I need to write my punishment scene for M:A today. I think I have it planned out, and if the customers would just let me RELAX already, I'd type it out.

Try this. Get some Sherrif cooked banana pudding, and prepare it according to the package directions. Pour it into oven-safe bowls, timing it so it's setting for about 45 minutes before dessert. Then you mix 1/4 cup of brown sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon. When it's time for dessert, top the bowls with a hefty sprinkly of the cinnamon sugar, and 5-6 slices of sliced banana. Pop them under the broiler until the sugar melts and bubbles a bit. You're welcome! (And that's fruit AND DAIRY, Canadians. Scientific fact.)

So, I'm going to have to answer these voicemail messages, and I'm thinking maybe it's best if I get back to people before they get angry. It's much harder to focus on what they're saying when they're yelling at me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In which summer is over, and the time to blog is nigh

Has it really been over a month since I blogged? Really?

The truth is, I actually blog in my head all the time. I plan what I'm going to say about whatever shiz is going on at the moment, and I just skip the unnecessary step of posting it to the intenet. because, you know, same difference. (This is how I can tell when I'm not writing enough, I start describing everything in my head.)

But for those of you who are actually following along - or are trying to - I see you and I loves you. Here is a quickie version of my life lately.

We took an end-of-summer camping trip with my parents and it was all sorts of wonderful. Sunny like crazy. We went to the beach, we watched the kids, we swam in the ocean, we drank beer. We ate a lot. We sat around the campfire on warm, starry nights. We might have had more beer. We did not drink a lot of water. That's how we ended up meeting those nice firemen the day we went to Sandspit and I wasn't feeling so good. No, really, not good. First my thumbs curled toward my baby fingers, then my hands curled toward my elbows, and my arms curled toward my chest. I couldn't keep them still. Close sounds were far, far things seemed close. My husband was talking, saying something unimportant like "What is the matter with you?" and "Ok, we need some help now." My legs were numb. I couldn't form thoughts into words, and I didn't really care. I was just too busy being sick.

So that's what dehydration feels like. Hunh. Water, anyone?

And then we worked a little more, and then we went to my parents' cottage. We made up nicknames for each other, like Leggy McTallsky (my sister), Jealous McShorty (me), Wacky McLoonybin (mom, who else?) Grumpy McKnow-it-all Jr and Sr (my husband and my father, peas in a pod) Noisy McStinkyfeet (my son) and Temper McScreechyson (my daughter.) We ate birthday cake, we walked beside the ocean. We flew a kite. Dad and Hubby installed a new washer and dryer. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

Now, it's workworkwork, and Mercury is in retrograde again. Go ahead, laugh. Forgive me if I don't join in; I've been hung up on, threatened, and told off more in the past two days than I thought was possible. People are out of their minds. And no, I don't believe in astrology, but this thing works. We'll have a stretch of crazy people, bizarre situations, and someone will say, is Mercury in retrograde again? And it is. It works.

So I called my husband, and I asked him to meet me at Costco after work. Bulk therapy coming right up.

I have been so out of touch...I miss people!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bizarro Thursday

Yesterday was a write-off. I managed to keep a smile on it most of the time, even when the one guy asked me if I've been saved by Jesus.

Today I feel good, even though I was up late again. New Moon. And the shower tap exploded at around midnight, woke up the littlest. It actually could have been the shockwave of my dear husband's frustration that woke her - nearly silent but felt all through the house nonetheless. It raises the hair on the back of your arms, your skin goes cold and then warm again, it messes up your hair, and you tiptoe away laughing and hoping he won't notice.

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, right. I hereby declare that today I WILL BE EFFECTIVE. I will harness the full force of the almighty caffeine buzz. I will eschew all forms of distraction.

Like this blog. And yours too.
See ya!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gang Agley

Sometimes, when a day starts out gang agley, it wants to keep going in that direction.

And I thought today might be like that, because I was late getting to bed. Or rather, I was late getting to sleep. You mothers know the difference. There's the midnight call from the littlest - the one with such a knack for knowing when Mummy has just drifted off. And then, while I was getting her settled, I just had to listen to her talking in her sleep, and laugh quietly to myself because she really never stops arguing, even in her dreams. And then I noticed how much she's grown, and I was watching the splay of her little limbs in the lamplight, and reaching out to touch her from time to time when I just needed to.

And then I was reading New Moon, and it isn't the least bit boring.

Then I remembered that Biggest pulled out a tooth just before bed, and brought it to me on a bloody tissue, a new hole in his grin. (When am I going to get used to the way he changes?) So I found some money, and crept up into his bed. It was a quest, let me tell you. The boy has seven pillows, Pokemon cards and Bakugan toys, four books and two long legs tangled in a Hot Wheels comforter for me to get around, just to fetch an itsy bitsy tooth from the farthest corner of his kingdom. (We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.) Note to self: tell him the tooth fairy likes the tooth left at the top right corner of the bed, next time.

So it was something like 2am before I got to sleep, so I arrived at work five minutes before the store opened.

There was a car parked in my spot, and the owner of it had one foot propped on my window ledge. He was staring through the darkened Window, and I called him a very rude name (under my breath) as I pulled in beside him. Seriously, man. The sign says we open at 9:30. The door is locked, the lights are off. Back off.

He's a courier, and I'm grateful for that because it means I can just sign his paper and take my box and then he'll move his car out of my spot and I can open the store on time. Right? No. Turns out, he's also an A+ certified Computer Technician from Fancy College in Who Cares. And he'd love to work with us? Maybe even just on weekends? For free? No?

My first customer wanted to know why one of the processors on my website has the letters NA beside it. I told him it was because it's on allocation, and my vendors have (temporarily) stopped providing pricing on it because they have no stock. He assured me that there were other stores in town who have it, for $169. I told him that was lovely news.

Sometimes, this shitty stuff just sinks through your skin and colours your outlook for the whole day. And when you're dealing with the public, I find you usually get what you expect. If you approach a person expecting they're going to be a pain in your ass, that's how you will perceive them. I know this. I take a lot of deep breaths.

And when I am standing in front of someone who does not value my expertise or appreciate the time I am taking, when I can feel anger rising, I focus my inner eye on my littlest's sleeping face. I think about talking with my biggest, quite a while after he was supposed to be in bed. I remember that this is not my life. They - and the man who gave them to me - are my life.

And I have it pretty damned good.

Friday, July 17, 2009


We spent a wonderful 5 days camping in PEI with the kids. It was sunny almost every day - much better than the two rainy long weekends we spent there last year! We went to the beach, we went to the playground, we made our own sundaes, we burned the crap out of two bags of marshmallows, we looked at the stars, we played shuffleboard and we played basketball and we answered not one single phone call.

I tried to read at the beach, but I couldn't stop watching the kids - their healthy little bodies sunwashed and sandy and busy, with nothing but blue sky and ocean as a backdrop. Jellyfish and crabs. Sandcastles and plastic shovels.

Each has their own way of meeting new friends - BamBam just goes over to the other kids and starts talking. That works. Pebbles prefers to play with older girls. It's funny, physically she's the same size as the toddlers, but she knows she can't really play with them, she's three and they can't communicate at her level. She's more comfortable with kids BamBam's age, so she just goes over to them and stands there until they notice her, and then she gives them a big smile and they immediately adopt her.

There was a country music festival in Cavendish with Tim McGraw and Big & Rich, we didn't do that. Camping neighbours on both sides of us did, though. The kids on the left were decent, but they did keep us up late. I had my revenge on the wee buggers - I got up at eight o'clock and fried bacon. At'll teach 'em. The folk on the right left a huge pile of puke in the grass - nice. We were glad when they all left, and the new people were much quieter.

Anyway, I am back at work, only now with a suntan. I have Stuff I should be doing, but I don't wanna. That's irrelevant, I know. Hi ho, hi ho.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Best Laid Plans

Today, supposing I get time, I'm going to have a look at my subplots. I might even try making a line graphy-thing, with colours and notes and arrows. Thing is, that really doesn't sound like it's any more organized than the yarn-snaggle that's in my head. There's a notebook somewhere I have a list of scenes I've written, more or less in order. That'll help.

I did my morning pages today in between fending off an ant attack - those little buggers are everywhere. At least the kids aren't collecting them in jars any more. Pebbles was mad at BamBam and decided to get revenge by letting all his out - in his bedroom - and of course he reciprocated. So, that happened.

Why did we let the kids collect household vermin in jars? Because they were quiet for half an hour while they did it, that's why.

Off to organize keyboards and vacuum the floor. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writer Wheaties

Last week I set 2 goals - get up early to write and write 500 words on Friday. I didn't do either one of these things.

One thing I did do was begin reading The Artist's Way. This morning I started my day with morning pages, and while I'm not new to the idea of needing to get to the page early in the day, I did find this a help in making sure that my writer-self gets her wheaties. She has been chattering nonstop in the back of my head ever since and I wish I hadn't given her so much coffee. She says there should be a benefit dance at the restaurant for, I dunno, someone worthy. And I wish I could tell you her other idea - it's just PERFECT - but it's a major spoiler and I may want you to read this book someday. It ties two major subplots together, and it comes right before the climax. I'm very excited about this. (woot!)

In fact, I'm going to sketch out the bones of this scene today. I don't know the location yet, but since we all know it's going to be rewritten a gazillion times anyway, I'll just do the writing now and the worrying later.

Something else I've been thinking a lot about is soundtrack. I've heard writers say they had one for their book. Do you do this? I think it's intriguing, but I need silence to write. Then the other day I realized that hey, I DO do this.

Once I listened to one song all day. Over and over. There was something in the tone, something in the lyrics that was exactly what I was trying to capture in a scene I was working on. It set the mood perfectly, and I didn't want to hear anything else. I just wanted to stay in that emotional location. So while I was doing the writing I had quiet, but in between moments when I was actually at the page, I was letting it steep in the music, letting the music infuse the language to make it come out feeling the way I wanted.

Carrie's song right now is Somewhere In Between, by Lifehouse. You know it, but here are the lyrics (more or less). In case you're bored.

I can't be
Losing sleep
over this
No I can't
And now I cannot stop pacing

Give me a few hours
I'll have this all sorted out
If my mind would just stop racing

Cause I cannot stand still
I can't be this unsturdy
This cannot be happening

This is over my head
But underneath my feet
Cause by tomorrow morning
I'll have this thing beat
And everything will be back
to the way
that it was
I wish that it was just that easy

Cause I'm waiting for tonight
Then waiting for tomorrow
I'm somewhere in between
What is real
or just a dream

Would you catch me if I fall
out of what I fell in
Dont be surprised if I collapse
down at your feet again
I don't want to run away from this
I know that I just don't need this

Cause I cannot stand still
I can't be this unsturdy
This cannot be happening
Cause I'm waiting for tonight
Then waiting for tomorrow
And I'm somewhere in between
What is real
or just a dream

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Morning

Spent a few moments this morning going over the calendar for the next two weeks, and egads. There is at least something every day, many days have two things going on - Taekwon-Do class, Baseball practice, Preschool party, Father's Day Dinner #1, Father's Day Dinner #2, birthday party, oh, and don't forget to get ready for camping. Shee-yikes.

Pebbles had one of those mornings when she hates that I'm going to work. Her face is swollen up from reactions to bug bites, and she's miserable. She wants me to hold her, but I need to dry my hair, get dressed, put on makeup. Finally, I am done and we dance. Then she wants to play, but there is no more time. She cries. I get irritated. I am horrible.

I rush out the door - remembered my lunch today, hold the applause - but when I get in the car I remember that I have no freaking gas. DH is at the window yelling for me to wait. I shut off the car, go to meet him and get my phone, thank you. Need that. Back in the car, frazzled, frustrated, overheated and late, I turn on the music and what do I hear?

Jackson Browne. Running on Empty.

Very funny, Universe.

Filled my gas tank and figured that if I took the highway and busted up the sound barrier I just might make it on time.

And I did. And I'm thrilled to be here, let me tell ya.

So today, I'm aiming at 500 words. I just have to find the zone. But first, coffee.

Monday, June 15, 2009

2000 new words!

I don't have an exact count, but this week I added roughly 2000 words to AHTH. It feels good to have my life (sort of) under control and to be creative again. The process fascinates me.

It works best for me when I write in the morning, before my head gets crowded and my thoughts start to shout at each other. I write everything I know or can put in words at that time. I might try to capture a scene, or a feeling - or something I've been struggling with lately - weaving places with conversations and action. I just suck, sometimes. Then I leave the keyboard, do some other things (empty the dishwasher, fold clothes, go to work). If I can get that writing time in the morning, my mind keeps working on that scene even while I'm busy. I will find a way to create more depth or color, or solve a problem, or fill in a blank. I jot things on paper, and it makes me happy.

Sometimes someone else will (unknowingly) fill in a blank for me. I needed a name for a ghost. A little-girl ghost. Clara? Nora? No, no, eew. Something old-fashioned, foreign, a little mystical. Then one Sunday Pebbles and I were playing with her doll.

"Miss Artinne wants her lunch now. Miss Artinne needs to go the the doctor."
"Artinne." She says it almost with a French accent, with a 't' so delicate it feels like a bubble bursting on your tongue.

So of course I used it, because it is just exactly what I wanted. And how would I have even known what she was giving me if I hadn't been tuned in, turning that problem around in the back of my mind? Life has a way of feeding the writing, if you let that happen.

There are days that just don't start out properly, you know? A client takes too long describing his woes, I lose my train of thought. I can't get very deep into POV when the phone is ringing. So here is what I will do. I will start getting up a little earlier, say three mornings a week for now, to write for half an hour before I start my day.

I also have a book called "The Artist's Way" that I will read, I know some people swear by it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What is it with people?

Well, it's been quite a week. Full moon, people are crazy. Oh, you don't believe in that stuff? Perhaps you've never worked in retail:

There was the very old man who fell asleep in the driver's seat of his minivan outside the store. We were speculating that he might actually be dead, until a fire truck went by and woke him up.

There was the girl who backed into a sandwich-board sign and tried to flee around the side of the building, only she hit the corner and scraped all along the side of her car.

There was the woman who came in raging about how she can't send email through one ISP's mail server when she's connected through a different ISP's wireless service. Cause, you know, I should be able to fix that. I'm the boss of the internet, right?

There was the woman whose father bought a computer from us SIX years ago and never had a single problem, only now she can't find his Windows disk. I shouldn't charge her to have my technician reload that system, just because she can't find her disk. She will be pursuing this. She's taking this to the next level. She's calling MICROSOFT.

And last but not least? You ready? There's the man who drives that red sportscar, who used to have such a great job? He went outside in the parking lot and PEED ON THE GROUND NEXT TO MY CAR. He's the winner. He's the only customer I ever banned from the store.

All in the last 7 days.

Let's talk goals

Spent the better part of yesterday's work day (I'm self-employed - it's allowed) going through the first 30K of A HAND TO HOLD. It's been about a year since I put any serious effort in, and I needed to get a feel for where the story is. I had questions: is it as good as I thought? (Yes, in parts) Is it as bad as I thought? (Oh, definitely first draft, Baby!)

The foundation that I had wanted to lay is there. It needs pieces added, but it's workable. I need to look at the pacing, and I have things to figure out, but I know what scenes I will write next. And that is all I need.

Today I am planning some new words, and this is a Good Thing, because here we are nearly halfway through the year, and I have another 60K or so to go. This would have been the death-rattle for my goal of a completed first draft if this were last year, but the kids are bigger now, a little more self-sufficient. I can still do this. I will do this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I am so good at this.

technician: "Not to cause widespread panic, but we're reaching desperately low levels of cable ties back there."

me: "Don't worry. I wrote it on a postit. Need...cable...ties."

technician: "You are so good at this job."

Friday, May 22, 2009

In. Box.

Through the two-way mirror above my desk, I watched the woman approaching the counter and indulged in an eye roll. I've seen her before. I'll probably see her again.

I tried to project professionalism and efficiency (instead of frustration and impatience) while she fumbled with the zipper on her fugly bag, and opened her laptop.

"My email comes in," she explained with an awkward laugh, "and it goes to my Inbox. Why does it keep doing that?"


"It's an In. Box. That's what it's for." Stop. Try to understand. "Where did you want it to go?"

"Heh, heh." She shifted from one foot to the other. Her computer finished booting, she opened her mail. "My friend sent me some messages, and I didn't get them. She said to call, but I decided to come in..."

The missing mail was in her spam folder. I spent 10-15 minutes showing her how to check the messages and move them - to her inbox, of all places. She thanked me, put her laptop back in that horrible bag and she left.

She didn't even ask if I wanted any money.

I want to fix this, but I'm not sure how. I mean, sure, it's only a few minutes of my time, but this is my workplace. I'm not here to do free tutoring, and I'm really starting to resent these people who just assume of course you can just go ask Cindy, she's really nice. How now, to tell someone that I want to be paid for my time and expertise?

And it's my fault, because I didn't used to mind. I thought of it as an investment - I put in my time and effort with this customer, and when they need to buy something, they will come back.

Ha ha, suckah. No, they don't. They buy a freaking Dell, and then they STILL come asking me questions.

Assertive is hard for me, and asking for money is awkward, but I'm going to fix this.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I hired a girl...and I liked it!

About a month ago I stood looking around my office at stacks of paper (peach, white and blue, some sorted, most not,) while the phone was ringing in my ears and I knew that I Absolutely Must finish four kinds of government paperwork before 3 pm. I was tired, stressed, and missing my kids, and a voice in the back of my head was whining I wanna go hoooooome. That's when something broke. I think it was my Brave. Or maybe it was my Stubborn.

Either way, I started setting up interviews and have again been blessed to find a sensible, hard working and caring girl to dig me out from under this mess. She is part-time, and she spent her first twelve hours hole-punching, alphabetizing and filing peach, white and blue papers. TWELVE HOURS OF FILING. And she stayed!

The next week she gave me unmitigated sh*t for letting a customer take advantage of me. I like her.

So, the office looks great, and with the help, I'm feeling about a hundred pounds lighter and more hopeful about the future.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Meet Zee

This is Zee. We originally named him this because when we brought him home, and the kids were so anxious to play with him, all he really wanted was to sleep. Now, though, we know he is also:

Clum-Zee (oop-Zee!)
and sometimes Lay-Zee.
Oh, and he bites. (Ow-Zee!)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Burning the pile

When I was a little girl growing up in the country, once a year or so, it came time to Burn the Pile. I live in suburbia now, and we don't set huge fires on purpose there. But it's nice to see that things haven't changed at home.

Friday, April 03, 2009

My Ta Da list

Throw out your To Do list, it's such a drag. Start something new. Start a TaDa! List. Celebrate your own effectiveness, be bold in your estimation of what you can accomplish - because You. Are. Fabulous.

Here's mine for today.

Answer the phone every time it rings
Go to the counter every time someone comes in
Receive, label and put away product (8 boxes so far. Who ordered this stuff??? Oh yeah, me)
Create and distribute e-flyer for April
Calculate real value of inventory (8 pages left, 45 lines per page)
Calculate EHF charges remittable for March
Calculate source deductions remittable for March
Calculate Worker's Comp remittable for March
Check, label and put away replacement procuct for three RMAs received two weeks ago
Find a wireless mouse in the shape of a pen that is readily available through my distribution channel
Change the ads on the mobile sign out front
Erase and update prices on the markerboards
Update prices on the website for cases, systems and video cards
Clean the windows
Clean the microwave
Take out the garbage
Order more product as required
Answer voicemail and email and endless questions (how do I make the "at" symbol?)
Pee (G)

At least, that's what I know about so far. And yes, it'll be a miracle if I get half of this done.

But nevermind.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


It's spring, and I'm in the mood for some fresh beginnings. Aren't you? And since life is mostly made of the littlest moments and small personal choices, I will start by adding some Good Things to my life, right now.

Today I'm learning the words to The Rainbow Connection, so I can sing it to Pebbles at bedtime. Just FYI, she also likes:
Carolina on My Mind, James Taylor
Something in the Way She Moves, James Taylor
You've Got a Friend, Carole King
Rocket Girl, Doc Walker
Run for the Roses, Dan Fogelberg

Also, I am going to be more conscious of the things I am grateful for. A shadow on the ground, because it means the sun is out. Thick, dark chocolate pudding. Customers who love my store. Being able to see the ocean from work and home.

I will do the things I love. I will bake something delicious on the weekend - maybe colorful thumbprint or M&M cookies with the kids. We will dunk those cookies in tall glasses of fresh, cold milk - manners be damned. And we have a birthday party for Pebbles on Sunday - she's three, or maybe thirteen. Sometimes I can't tell.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Yesterday I took Roo back to the vet, and I did what I needed to do.

My heart hurts.

I'll spare you the details, and say only that in the end there were no more questions. It was Time.

I guess the heart knows after all.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We're hanging in there

Today a salt fog rolled over the city and knocked out the power for three hours. And no, I didn't know that could happen either. While it was dark in here I dusted, I put some papers in alphabetical order and I checked over my cable inventory. Confirmation: it's in a sorry state.

Uncle is somewhat stable for someone whose heart has failed. He's on a pump that moves his blood for him through massive tubes sewn to his heart that pass through the front of his chest. He is heavily sedated but my Mom can still make him grin. His body looks a lot different but he's definitely in there somewhere.

Pebbles says he has a broken heart.

His first heart attack was 19 years ago, and they figured he had 5 years to live. There have been many technological advancements in this past decade - there are smaller versions of the pump that he's presently on that can be inserted right into the chest. There is a slight possibility of a transplant. We have hope.

Also hanging in there, my cat Roo. My husband says it's like caring for an infant - he feeds her many times a day, coaxing her to eat and drink, keeping her clean and carrying her to the litter. We laugh and call it Kitty Rehab. He makes her get up and walk around, and he has some medicine he's been giving her. She still wants to be close to us and she seems to be gaining weight and strength, so we hope that a few weeks more will make a big difference. I don't know what we'll do if she doesn't improve. I'm not thinking about that yet.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The sneaky bum.

We're driving home in the car, Pebbles and me. It's dark, it's shitty weather (surprise!) I'm listening to the radio, and hoping that she won't fall asleep on the way.

A little voice came from the backseat: "Mom, my bum is sneaking out."

I turned down the radio. "Um. Your what?"

"My bum!"

I glance over my shoulder. She's strapped in to her five-point carseat, just like I thought she would be. "Oh, well. We can fix that when we get home."

"It's a long way, Mummy."

"Yes, that's true I guess." I turned up the radio, hoping she'd get interested in the music and forget about her little problem.

"Mummy, I need HELP!"

"Allrightallrightallright." I pulled over, went around the back of the car, skidding and slipping on the icy shoulder, went back to the driver's seat to unlock the doors, and finally managed to get where I needed to be. I tucked my hands down on either side of her little self, and sure enough, a soft warm tiny bottom. I tugged up her tights and got back in the car.

"Thank you Mummy.

"You're welcome. No more sneaky bum?"

"No more sneaky bum."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Un-depressing post, as promised

The Call

Found out today that a family member is in intensive care, in a coma, his heart failing. As I listened to the details, this song was playing on my computer. I thought it rather poignant, beautiful in the most painful of ways.

Enough with the dreary stuff! Happy posts coming.

thanks guys!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The next long weekend is WHEN?

At some point earlier this week it occurred to me that the next time I have two days off in one week will be Easter weekend. In freaking April. This realization made my steps slow and heavy, and all my enthusiasm crept away to hide somewhere warm. I started scowling at the phone when it rang, instead of picking it up with a smile. I started leaning on my desk, face smooshed in my palm. I felt completely overwhelmed.

You have to figure this out, I told myself as I drove home through yet another snowstorm. You can't just give up and hire someone. You have a plan. You have to do this yourself. Make it work, dammit.

Susan talked the other day about things we have to keep learning in life, and I know one of mine is the importance of regular exercise. I know I always feel better when I'm active.

But I don't want to, I thought at 11:04 pm as I sat on the edge of the bed, contemplating the alarm clock. I know it will probably help, but I don't want to get up early to work out. (Yes, it was that whiny.)

And so I didn't.

But then school was cancelled, which meant I didn't have to make BamBam's lunch or be on hand to harass him through the Getting Ready process. I put my body on the elliptical trainer and said: Now. Go.

Partway through my workout, I realized that DH had awoken and was just laying there, watching my behind.

Showered and dressed, I made my way to the kitchen, to find said husband putting the finishing touches on a monster-sized salad for my lunch. And that's when it hit me.

I'm not doing this on my own. I haven't been. There's this man, who works in the rec room at night, who takes care of the house and the kids, who puts gas and windshield fluid in my car, who cooks my dinner and loves me from the most unflattering angles. And makes me a salad, because it's good for me and because I look like I might be on a health kick today.

The exercise helped, but so did the reminder that I do have him. He really is a treasure. We're doing this together, and we're going to be fine. We're going to make it work. And, he reminds me, there's nothing stopping me from closing the store on a Saturday - Just Because.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So my cat just looks like shit.

The verdict is in. For the price of two week's groceries, we are assured that our cat is stubborn. I am giddy. I am so relieved, so grateful.

There is no evidence of liver, kidney or thyroid malfunction. No obvious tumors, no diabetes. No heart trouble. The vet says she's surprised how healthy Roo is, considering how she looks.

She is dehydrated and underweight. (15 lbs down to 7.8) Apparently, she hates her food and simply won't eat it. And because both cats eat from the same bowl, we didn't clue in that she was starving.

I've just got to say, this would never happen to me. (S)

Her muscles have deteriorated to the point that she is working very hard to move around, and that is why she pants so heavily. Poor old girl. We'll stock up on the extra-stinky, extra-gooey canned yuck that she seems to prefer.

Thank you for commiserating with me on this. I really thought we were losing her, and your comments were a really big comfort.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

...and Roo goes to the Vet

The nose knows, I thought to myself this morning as I carried Pebbles up the hall to the kitchen. We both blinked in the light, and I put the kettle on for my coffee. And so does the heart.

There it was, right by the back door. Pee, again. I cleaned it up with a rag, some bleach cleaner and a heavy heart.

Before I left the house, I kneeled beside a cardboard box tucked beneath an end table. Inside it, curled up on a green towel, my sixteen-year-old cat watched me with sunken but adoring eyes. She's lost a lot of weight just lately, her legs and paws are painfully bony, and her sides heave with the force of her purring.

"I love you, Roo."

Soon, I will have a call from my husband with The News. I'm hoping for a bladder infection. Have you ever hoped for one of those? Me, neither.

In the meantime, in that place deep in my chest where Truth lives, I think I know otherwise.

I'm afraid it may be Time.