Sunday, July 31, 2005

Meet Our Dog. Just Don't Tell Her She's One!

I've posted an adorable picture of Domino before; however, the ones above reveal her for what she truly is . . . a freak. We've spoiled her by occasionally giving her a bite or two of what we're eating, if it's possible to break off bites and such. So now she sits and hovers and sniffs our chairs when we get up to see if crumbs are left. She cocks her head if we drop something on our plate, but then she sniffs the floor, as if she's thinking "Well, it looked like they dropped it on the floor."

At night, she goes into the bedroom with us and lays down while we do our nightly unwinding - goofing off on the computer, writing, reading, taking off makeup (just me - Danny leaves his on all the time :-) KIDDING!). If the light disturbs her, she sticks her head under the bed. She sleeps in the floor on my side of the bed, and last night she assumed her sleeping position before we turned the lights out. I happened to look over and see her head stuck under the pillows in the floor, so I had to get a picture. After taking that one, she stirred a bit and put her head on top of the pillow, and I tried to get a picture of that, but by the time I pressed the button, she moved so that her head was under the bed.

But you get the idea - she's a freak, but she's our little (well, big) freak and we love her to death!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Oh to Be Able to Eat Like Hummingbirds!

So the hummingbirds have been feasting off the feeder on my deck. Actually, one of them is hogging all the goods, and as you look at the pictures, I'm sure you'll be able to tell which one it is! :-)

They were fighting all afternoon, zooming around the back yard and all over the deck. One tried to come eat, but the fat one ran it off. Then another one perched to eat and the fat one came back to run it off. I think they're trying to double team her. I know it's a female because the males have red throats. There is a male who eats there regularly, I'll try to get a picture of him at some point.

Although, one will run the other off for eating there, but none of these hummingbirds will run off the wasps that try to get to the food. I had to go out on the deck this afternoon with the flyswatter to get rid of the pesky bug. Then pulling off the flyswatter makes the dog get in her house. Why I don't know, no one has ever raised that swatter at her, much less hit her with it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

5 Songs I'm Loving... This Week

I haven't been listening to my iPod that much this week, but I have managed to scrounge up five songs that I've enjoyed listening to.

1) "Ohio (Come Back to Texas)" by Bowling for Soup - I like these guys. They always have amusing, fun songs. I'm not sure I'd like a whole album by them, but I've liked the three singles I've heard so far.

2) "Wordplay" by Jason Mraz - This guy rhymes like Eminem and has an incredible voice. I'm looking forward to getting Mr. A-Z, which, by the way, is a clever play on his last name.

3) "O Chariot" by Gavin DeGraw - It's a little slower and more inspirational sounding than "I Don't Wanna Be," but the melody and piano work are nice. I like what I'm hearing from this guy.

4) "Sometimes" by Holly Williams - The granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr. is quite the talented songwriter. Her voice is not a phenomenal force. It's good, but it's earnest, and she's capable of pulling the heartbreak out of a song. This one has an aching ending: I wish I were an angel in '52 in a blue Cadillac on the eve of the New Year, and there I would have saved him, the Man Who Sang the Blues. Maybe he is listening right now. Such lovely, personal sentiment about her grandfather.

5) "Set Out Running" by Neko Case - If Patsy Cline had been born in the '70s, this is how she would sound today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Writing Prompt: Write About a Recurring Dream

The dream never happens the same way, but the thoughts I have during the dream are. Every once in a while, I dream about my friend Rhonda, who died more than five years ago from complications from diabetes at age 32. She had been a bridesmaid in my wedding just a month before, although she didn't get to fulfill her dream of being able to walk down the aisle. One of the groomsmen escorted her in her wheelchair.

Rhonda was a trip, plain and simple. You couldn't help but laugh while talking to her because at some point, she would say something to crack you up. Her husband, Lee, told me at her funeral that she loved to hear me laugh and that when she was down, she would call me to cheer her up.

We grew up at Aggie's house. Aggie was my and my brother's babysitter, but she was more like a grandmother. She had never had any children of her own, but she and her husband, John, were Rhonda's legal guardians. I, being five years younger than her, was Rhonda's shadow. If I could have had a sister, she would have been Rhonda.

Two months before my third birthday, we were playing golf in the backyard with a broomstick and plastic baseball. She swung back to hit the ball, but I was standing right behind her, and the stick cracked the skin open on the upper part of my left cheekbone. It took two stitches and a lot of tears to heal that injury. My mom still talks about come to pick me up and finding me, Rhonda and Aggie crying. Even up until the months before her death, the mention of that incident always made her ask, "You're not mad at me about that are you?"

The first time I dreamed about Rhonda was the night before the first anniversary of her death. I was at the hospital before she died, something I had not been able to do. I was standing outside of her room, looking in as she lay unconscious. Lee was in the next room talking to some people about the situation when I saw her eyes open and her head turned toward me. I called out to Lee, to anyone, that she was awake, but when I looked back at her, she was waving and smiling. I yelled again, but she slowly laid her head back down. Then she was gone. It was one of the few times I've woken up crying.

Since then, I've had many dreams where she and I are talking, and I have this wonderful realization that she's not dead - she's right here with me. I wonder to myself where she's been all this time, and I look forward to spending time with her again. Then I wake up, and the disappointment is devastating.

On the one hand, I'm thankful for those dreams. I like to think that she's trying to communicate with me through them. On the other hand, it's simply heartbreaking - as heartbreaking as seeing her in her son's dark brown eyes and mannerisms.

But life goes on, and I know that she and I will talk again one day - a day when she won't be in a wheelchair - and we'll dance around to "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" or maybe "Funkytown," because she was never one to dwell on sadness. So I can't either.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Writing Prompt: In a State of Disarray

My house is in a state of disarray. It's really quite pathetic. I've told my husband that we should just take a rake and scrape together all the tufts of dog hair that litter the carpet. I'm afraid the next time I open the shower curtain something will wink at me and say, "Hey, honey, how's it goin'?"

I've said before what a terrible housekeeper I am. I let things pile up. I put things off. I don't want to start things unless I can get it all done. I suppose it's that perfectionist mentality creeping in. I think part of me rebels too - rebels against what's expected of me. When I was young and I had to clean my room, I would put things away, but some things I wanted to leave out. My mother, however, would come back and require to put everything away. Leaving all that stuff out looked like clutter to her, and she's truly an everything-has-its-place-and-everthing-in-its-place person. My husband tells me that I'm unconsciously rebelling against this conditioning. I suppose that's true. I think it's also because I'm lazy.

The one thing that brings me consolation comes from watching those shows on TLC or HGTV where someone comes in and organizes a filthy house. Those houses are so ridiculously messy that it makes me feel better about mine. It's like being overweight and feeling more at ease with yourself when you see someone bigger than you.

For now, I have the first week in August off from work, and my husband has three of those days off with me. I see some serious housecleaning in our future.

Some couples go on romantic vacations; we plunge ourselves elbow deep into dust, dog hair and mildew. Now that's a way to keep the spark in our marriage.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Here Comes the Pain Again

Sorry for the Eurythmics reference and sorry for the lack of substance in this week's posts. I've been battling stomach pains all week, and folks, that. Is. Not. Fun. Last night consisted of more hours of tossing and turning, getting up to drink some milk, sitting up just to change position and just plain out crying in frustration that I was so tired but unable to sleep because of the pain.

Luckily, I had a doctor's appointment already scheduled for this afternoon for a physical, so I'll just add this onto the bill. I just wish there was something I could take for the pain, but I don't think anything exists.

Perhaps the pain will take a break tomorrow, and I can get some actual writing done.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

5 Songs I'm Loving... This Week

I thought I'd make this a weekly thing - perhaps every Wednesday. After all, I can't listen to the same songs over and over again every week. So here are the songs I'm enjoying this week.

1) "You and Me," by Lifehouse - It's a really sweet song, and the rhythm of the strings and guitar makes me feel like I could waltz around a big ballroom in a pretty, flowery, flowing skirt. Alas, my husband doesn't dance. Perhaps I could just imagine Michael Vartan - mmmmm......

2 "Beverly Hills," by Weezer - It's not a head-banging song like Green Day, but it is a head-nodding song. At least, I can't resist nodding my head.

3) "This Is How a Heart Breaks," Rob Thomas - Just a good groovin' song.

4) "God Put a Smile on Your Face," by Coldplay - It has a piercing guitar strum to it with a driving drumbeat that's almost sexy. No wonder "Alias" used it for the episode where Sydney and Vaughn "consummated" their relationship. :-)

5) "Maybe I'm Amazed," by Jem - Yes, this is a cover of the Paul McCartney version, but it's very well done - minimal instruments, lovely backing vocals and clean piano playing. I also love the ending, where the music fades to just the piano and bass. It's a nicely done cover.

And that's all you'll get from me today, because my brother dropped by to store some stuff in our garage and hung out for a while. I'll try to post some actual writing stuff tomorrow.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Today, You Get Nothing

I haven't been able to post a writing prompt because I've been home sick today. I woke up in the middle of the night with the horrible, writhing pain in my stomach that makes me think of the Aliens is about to pop out of it. I didn't fall asleep again until about 5:30 am, and I was back up at 6:15 toasting frozen waffles just so I'd have something on my stomach. It helped. I managed to fall asleep again, and I've slept most of the day.

I've been taking Nexium for almost two months for what I thought is an ulcer, but maybe it's not. I didn't eat late, didn't lay down for four hours after eating and didn't even eat pepperoni pizza. So I don't know what's going on. Dammit, I don't want to have some tube/camera/light stuck down my throat.

Oh well. I did get a short story idea from one of the writing prompts. I started it last night before going to bed. We'll see how that goes.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to eat a peanut butter sandwich and drink some milk because my digestive system hates me.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Crossing into Four Digits!

By tomorrow, I'll have crossed over the 1,000 mark in visitors! I'm very excited. Plus, I've moved up one in the TTLB ecosystem. I'm now a Slimy Mollusc - never been quite so happy to be slimy.

Thanks to all who have dropped by and to those who have added my site to your links. I truly appreciate the advertising.

And here's to at least 1,000 more! :-)

Odds and Ends for Sunday

We went to Barnes & Noble today because I needed a new journal. They have a good selection. Part of me wanted to get the large, spiral-bound pastel colored book with a Monet painting on the front. I thought maybe I'd just write poems in it when I finish them. Then I realized that I'm always editing stuff, so writing a poem in there is useless because I'll always want to go back and change it. I stuck with the same black, spiral-bound journals that I've been getting.

Danny, with his eagle eye for clearance items, pointed out the book Fiction Writer's Brainstormer. I've never seen it before, but it was only $6 - so what the heck. If anyone has read it and found it informative, feel free to let me know. I'll post my thoughts once I start reading.

I've been reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and I have to say that I'm thoroughly enjoying it. She shares some excellent advice, especially for those who are more of a novice in the writing craft. I've been writing since college, but I really haven't made a commitment to my work until now. I've been a writer at work, seen my byline and gotten a sense of pride in that, but now I'm ready to take the next step - to really concentrate on telling the stories I want to tell.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Well, I Screwed Up

The Internet is such a blessing and a curse at times. The convenience of being able to communicate with people hundreds of miles away is diminished by the fact that miscommunications still occur. Today, I sent an e-mail to someone who I don't know all that well, and I was making light of a situation that I probably shouldn't have. So I unintentionally insulted this person. I'm not going into anything more specific than that, but I just wanted to express my apologies here, in case this person happens to surf by.

People who know me know that I would never deliberately insult someone. It's in my nature to kid around. Hopefully, if this person gives me a second chance, they'll know what I mean.

Writing Prompt: Write About a Theft (Grab a Snack; This One's a Long One)

I keep coming back to my time in Rock Hill when I've done some of these recent writing prompts. It was barely a year of my life that ended ten years ago, but apparently, I have a lot of material (or perhaps issues) coming from that time. Anyway, when I saw the topic of a theft, I immediately thought about the time my suitcase was stolen out of my car in the parking lot of my apartment - all because of R.

It was the weekend of the spring horse race in Camden, which is an hour and a half from Rock Hill and 45 minutes from R's house. I drove to his house on that Friday night, and then we got up the next morning, met my college roommate and proceeded to the racetrack. Our spot was beside the grandstand, but a lot of R's buddies had spots in the infield, where you can stay all day and not even see a horse. After the first race, R went to visit his friends, and I didn't see him for the rest of the afternoon.

When the whole event was over, he still had not come back. Someone went looking for him while my best friend, Tiffany, and I went back to her parents' house. Once there, we got the idea to play a joke on him and make him think I had left, which is actually what I should have done. He fell for the joke - probably because he was completely smashed - not long after this, we headed back to his house.

I was driving, of course, which was a good thing because he passed out in the passenger seat. I was furious. I had come to spend the day with him, not a drunk, and now I was supposed to take him home and tuck his smashed ass into bed? Oh, I didn't think so. We weren't even halfway there when I knew that I was dumping him off and going back to my apartment.

I had to shake him and yell his name a couple of times to rouse him up. He stumbled out of the car and up the front porch steps, and once in the door, he headed straight for the bathroom. I breezed past his brother in the kitchen who asked what was going on. "Nothing," I said, but it was obvious. At times, I can mask sadness or anger, but most of the time, I'm a walking emotional billboard.

"He showed his ass?" R's brother asked.

"He's drunk off it is more like it," I said. R's brother stood outside the bathroom door, and I could tell from the groan that he heard R throwing up.

"What are you going to do?" he asked.

"I'm going back to my apartment."

"Yo, man," he called out to R. "She's going home. She ain't putting up with your ass."

I was in the guest bedroom, throwing clothes in my soon-to-be stolen suitcase when R came in and tried to hug me. I would be having none of that. I shoved him off, zipped up my suitcase and made my way out the front door. I threw the suitcase in the back seat, remembering that R's cooler was in the trunk. Not wanting to step back in that house to let R talk me into staying, I left it in the front yard.

I fumed all the way back to Rock Hill. When I got back to my apartment, I was still so mad that I forgot about the suitcase and left it in my car. Normally, this wouldn't have been a big deal, because at any other time, all my doors would have been locked. However, in his drunken stupor, R had not locked the passenger door, and in my pissed-off pandemonium, I had not noticed that the door was unlocked. So during the night, someone got into my car through that door and stole the suitcase.

They got a cheap 35-mm camera, some clothes, my driver's license and the ten bucks I had stuffed in my camera case. R took a lot more.

At first, things seemed to be okay. He called the next day, and we talked. He apologized. I might have apologized for leaving the way I did; I don't remember for sure. I thought we had put it behind us. Four days later, he called, and I knew something wasn't right. When I pressed him about what was wrong, he wouldn't say anything.

While I needed only a couple of seconds to realize what was going on, it seemed like an eternity passed. The realization started as this sickening feeling in my stomach. Then it was fear clutching at my throat, and then it was sadness springing from my eyes. He still wouldn't talk, but by God, I was going to make him.

"Just say it," I told him. He stalled for a second. "Say it," I repeated.

"This just isn't going to work out."

In his opinion, we were too different. According to him, he had been contemplating breaking up for a couple of months and had discussed it with his buddies - the same buddies that send their women into the kitchen to fix their mixed drinks on New Year's Eve. I could only imagine what their advice was. He was also embarrassed about my leaving his cooler in the middle of the front yard, and somehow, although not by me, word had gotten around town that he got drunk and his big-city, college-educated girlfriend dumped him off at his house. That's what happens when you live in a small town.

I'm not saying he was wrong about us. He wanted a girl who would dote on him, and I definitely wasn't that girl. Still, to this day, I just feel like I was duped. I was so ready to fall in love, but I wasn't sure when I first met R that I should get involved. Then, I could see that he was enamored with me, and I thought I'd be safe.

When I think about that stolen suitcase, I think about how R stole innocence from me - and not just physical. He took that unspoken, undeniable, undefinable desire for true love, and once it was gone, cynicism took its place. Even though I've been happily married for five and a half years, I still hate the fact that R was the one I chose to fall for.

So the moral of the story is that if you want to protect something, you're responsible for making sure all the doors are locked.

Just Some Observations...

So I had to work today, which is kind of a bummer. We usually have to work at least one Saturday a month, but we get two days off at the beginning of each month to make up for it. However, I'm on an even shorter schedule where I get five days off. It's a nice break that lets me work on my writing, but what have I been doing? BLOGGING!

Anyway, when we work on a Saturday, the company pays for lunch, so that's cool. Today, lunch came from Jason's Deli, somewhere I've never eaten before. I looked at the menu that was passed around and decided to get a chicken sandwich with provolone cheese, and I wrote down that I wanted sour cream and onion chips, because most delis have flavored chips, right?

Apparently not. When the food came, I got plain chips. No biggie, but then I opened my sandwich and saw this huge white glob on one side of the croissant. I thought, surely that's not mayo, because - DAMN - that's way too much, even if it is Duke's! So I dabbed my finger and tasted it. IT WAS SOUR CREAM! Some idiot thought that the sour cream was meant for the sandwich and not chips. How could someone think that? Who eats sour cream on a sandwich?!

Fortunately, not all was lost. I scraped off as much sour cream as I could, and the chicken on the sandwich was really very tasty. Luckily, I had some plain chips. Oh, and a pickle spear - can't forget that.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Some Things About Me, Part Deux

For #1-14 go here.

15) Things I can't keep track of: umbrellas, nail clippers, my checkbook, my sunglasses (and they're prescription), candle lighters.

16) I love drinks with finely crushed ice, which is virtually impossible to find these days. Most fast-food chains don't have this type of ice, except for Sonic and Zaxby's. Many times, I have to go to one of those Mom and Pop greasy spoons, but man, those drinks are so refreshing. And I don't have to worry about cracking my teeth on the ice when I eat it, because that's another thing I do, eat ice.

17) I still like Hootie and the Blowfish. I was never fanatical about them, but I always like their albums. Were they overrated? Perhaps, but I'm still a fan. Sue me.

18) Pet peeves: self-importance, unsolicited advice, leaving a grocery cart in the parking spot (especially if it's in the one I want to park in), habitual tardiness, drivers who stay within inches of my back bumper

19) For someone who never has money, I'll sit with my calculator and figure up how much money we'll have left over at the end of each week. And I'll sit and compute ahead for weeks, even months. Danny calls it my "Calculation of the Earth's Rotation." If he catches me doing it, he asks if we're going to fly off course toward the sun. Smart-ass.

20) I can't stand the sound or feeling of metal against my teeth. I think this stems from the traumatic experience of having braces in elementary school.

21) I have never cut grass in my entire life, but I'm sure that will change when my husband reads this.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What If...? A Writer's Panic

In a moment of frustration and desperation yesterday, I thought, "What if I never get anything in print? What will I do if I just end up rambling the rest of my life and never make any sense of anything and never finish anything I've started?" I mean, sure I've been writing something almost every day. In fact, I need a new black, spiral journal from Barnes & Noble. It's taken me two years to fill half of the journal, but since February I've almost filled the second half. Unfortunately, I haven't been working any on the novel I started years ago.

I used to blame my lack of inspiration on the anitdepressants I was taking, but now that I've been putting my "ass on chair" (Thanks, Urban Semiotic for that phrase), It's as if the floodgates have opened. However, I haven't been directing energy into my novel. I can't seem to finish chapter two, and while I have some idea of what will happen, I just haven't worked on it.

So is it laziness? Maybe. Perhaps I'm having too much fun blogging. I think part of it is also my perfectionist mentality: I don't know whether it's going to be good enough at the end, so I'm afraid to go any further. I want to tell the story; I really do. I want to figure out what these characters are going to do with the "outside forces" that will affect them.

Part of me wants it to be accepted. I want other people to read the story and like it, identify with it, care about it. I hear some novelists say that their first novel is shoved in a bottom drawer somewhere in their house, and I'm horrified. I don't want to spend weeks and months working on something that I'm going to eventually put away forever. Hell, why not set it on fire in the front yard?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

You'd Think I Grew Up in a Barn

My husband is always amazed by movies, shows or videos that I've never seen. Last night, we were watch a video of Bryan Adams "Cuts Like a Knife" on VH1 Classic (God, I'm so old.), and I made some sort of remark about the video. Danny asked, "You've never seen this before." I told him no. These days when this happens, he merely shakes his head. Occasionally, I'll get "I can't believe you haven't seen (insert name of movie/show here)!"

The truth is, my parents weren't big on entertainment when I was growing up. Sure, we had a TV, but we didn't get cable until I was a junior in college. (So, thanks Mom and Dad, for letting me miss out on the years when MTV actually played videos!) If I wanted to see videos it meant staying up late on Friday to watch "Friday Night Videos," which I did every once in a while. We had a VCR when I was in middle school, but we used it mainly for taping "Days of Our Lives" and "Another World." After all, my mother and I had our priorities.

Movies weren't really big for us either. I never saw Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back at a movie theater. I did see Return of the Jedi, though. I think the first movie I remember seeing was Hot Lead and Cold Feet. It was at the drive-in around the corner from our house. Ah, drive-ins, you definitely don't see those in the south anymore. People might think of southerners as being dumb, but we're not about to sit in our cars on a muggy summer night to watch a movie when we can sit in an air-conditioned theater and do the same thing! We got rid of that institution a long time ago.

I also saw E.T. when it came out and bawled like a baby at the end. My parents took us to see Gremlins when I was in the sixth grade, and my dad hated that movie so much that I don't think he went back to the theaters until he and my mother went with another couple friend of theirs to see 50 First Dates. My movie-going experience is far inferior to Danny's, but it's not a result of my parents' being strict. They weren't forbidding me to see them. We just didn't go.

So I just have to laugh it off when Danny says "How could I have married you without knowing whether or not you have seen (insert name of movie/show/video here)?" Somehow I don't feel as if my childhood was that deficient because of it. I stayed in my bedroom, listened to '80s pop music and wrote cheesy love poems instead. Wasn't that a much more valuable use of my time?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Writing Prompt: "Long Afterward, I Came Upon It Again..."

When I was 15, my grandfather - my mother's father - died. That whole year had already been filled with all this angst over things I really didn't have a need to be angry about, but when he died, I was mad at the world. Then my grandmother found a poem in his Bible. Before this point, I had always written poems. For four years I had kept a five-subject, spiral-bound notebook with poems - terrible, sappy, teeny-bopper love poems for the most part, but still my poems - and I actually still have the book today. At times, I would write at least one a day for a couple of weeks.

Occasionally, I would take something I'd written to school for my friends to read. They would fawn over me and beg me to write one for them. I was more than happy to oblige, enjoying all the attention. Before my grandfather's death, however, these were just poems. I had bigger plans. I wanted to be a singer/songwriter. I got a guitar for my 13th birthday and took lessons, and I planned on moving to New York when I was 18 to pursue my dream.

For a while after my grandfather's death, my world stopped. He was only 58 years old; we were supposed to have more time with him. It was the first time I lost something that I took for granted, and I was devastated. When my grandmother shared the poem she found in his Bible, the whole family was surprised. None of us ever knew him to write. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help the family, and he didn't get his GED until he was in his early fifties. The poem was a simple but heartfelt prayer for God to help him show others how good life can be as a Christian.

Seeing that poem and the one I found later in another Bible that my mom kept, I realized that someone else in my family had the desire and a basic ability to express himself through writing, and everything clicked into place. My writing wasn't a fluke; there was a source. I scratched plans for New York because I knew that I had to write.

Monday, July 11, 2005

5 Songs I'm Loving Right Now

1) "Wreck of the Day," Anna Nalick: Desperately close to a coffin of hope, I cheat destiny just to be near you. What an awesome line.

2) "One Moment More," Mindy Smith: They lyrics are simple, but with the elegant orchestration and her pure, haunting voice, this song is just beautifully heartbreaking.

3) "Holiday," Green Day: Come on, how can you not bang your head and pump your fist to any Green Day song? Okay, perhaps "Good Riddance."

4) "Beautiful Life," Fisher: You know the Toyota commercial with the rolling wheel? This is the song playing. It's just such a happy-go-lucky song. As a matter of fact, it's on my iPod's Happy-Go-Lucky playlist.

5) "Elysium," Mary Chapin Carpenter: She is such the ultimate songwriter. This song just gradually builds into this beautiful crescendo, like you're driving up over a hill and the valley is laid out right in front of you.

My favorite lines: Sometimes you get there in spite of the route, losing track of your life and what it's about. The road seems to know when to straighten right out, the closer you come to Elysium.

And: I could wonder if all of it led me to you. I could show you the arrows and circles I drew. I didn't have a map. It's the best I could do on the fly and on the run.

Oh, to write like her.

My Top 5 Most Romantic Songs

... in no particular order because I just can't choose!

"The One," Elton John: In the instant that you love someone, in the second that the hammer hits, reality runs up your spine and the pieces finally fit. That does it for me.

"In Your Eyes," Peter Gabriel: The untraditional love song made even more romantic by the scene from Say Anything when John Cusak holds the stereo over his head and plays the song.

"She's Got a Way/She's Always a Woman," Billy Joel: Okay, I'm sort of cheating by including an extra song, but I always group these together because they are similar. I've loved these songs I was young. When I was in middle school, I always hoped I'd meet a guy who'd hear these songs and think of me. Yeah, I was that stupid.

"I Shall Believe," Sheryl Crow: It just oozes unconditional love, that dangerous kind of love that blinds you to all faults. For guys, of course, it's carte blanche to do whatever they want and lie about it. :)

"Possession," Sarah McLachlan: Talk about your raw passion. She's ready to be quite aggressive, which is incredibly scary and incredibly sexy.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Hear That? It's My Biological Clock Going Off

I nearly gave my husband a heart attack Friday night. No, you pervs, not that way. Between one of our coworkers and his wife having a baby last week and another couple we're friends with adopting two toddlers from Kazakhstan, baby fever has set in.

Danny and I were married five years in December, and both of us want children; however, the idea scares the hell out of Danny. So when I made the comment over dinner Friday night that I wanted a baby, I thought he was going to drop his knife and fork and keel over in the restaurant booth where we were sitting.

Granted, some things have to happen before we call the stork (because that's how you get babies, right? KIDDING!). The most important thing is that I have to lose weight. I know, why lose weight when I'm just going to gain it when I'm pregnant? The thing is, I'm really overweight - the kind of overweight that makes carrying a baby unhealthy for me and her/him. I've read the medical advice, I know what needs to be done, but I'm also running out of time. By the time most of the women in my family reach their early 40s, the batteries in their biological clock start fading. Or, in technical terms, The Change starts. I've always hated that phrase, "The Change." The words make it sound like invasion of the body snatchers. Well, I guess it might feel that way from the way some women talk about it.

And while I'm sort of on the subject of the way women talk about these life stages, let me just say that I've also never understood why TV shows practically glamorize girls' getting their first period. The mother dotes on her daughter and smiles and cries and says, "Oh, you're a woman now." Yeah. Congratulations. Welcome to 30-40 years of monthly cramps, bloating, crying fits crabbiness and disgusting bodily functions. Here's an Always or a Tampax and some Midol. Get used to them. I have to say, my mother never got all joyful when I got my first period; she offered sympathy. I also don't know of any other girls who heard the whole "you're a woman now" speech either. And for the record, no, you shouldn't be marking these dates on your calendar!

Aaaaanyway, the point is, my biological clock is ticking rather loudly now, and I've got a lot of things to do before I can even think of shutting it up. I know I can't wait until everything is perfect - having enough money, having the right job, being the ideal weight - because that will never happen. I'm realistic enough to know this; however, the situation can and needs to improve to make sure that my possible - and hopefully imminent - pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible. Wish me luck, and feel free to send smelling salts for Danny!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I'm an Idiot

It's been several days since I last posted, and I realized that I haven't said anything about the London bombings. I thought about posting that night, but I don't think I'd could say anything different from what anyone else is saying.

But I would like to state, for the record, to anyone from Britain who happens to surf by my page, that I am deeply sorry for what has happened. It is a sad shame that you've had to experience this type of tragedy. You're in my thoughts and prayers. God bless.

Writing Prompt: It Was His Idea of a Good Time

Let me tell you about R's idea of a good time on the one and only New Year's Eve we were together. (For those of you who have missed an earlier introduction to R go here.) New Year's Eve 1994: the first time I was dating a guy on such a holiday. Granted, R wasn't the most sophisticated guy in the world, but I still had this vision of us at a party where there were music, lots of people and lots of interesting conversation. I was 0 for 3.

We spent New Year's Eve at his buddy's house, where more of his buddies had gathered to watch a college bowl game. All of these buddies had their respective significant others with them, but the stereotypical divide had happened. The men were in the living room watching the big-screen TV while the women gossiped in the kitchen. R quickly ushered me there when we arrived, and I took a seat as he went on the back porch to draw nectar from the beer keg.

The basic party foods were served - wings, chips, dip, sandwiches and such. In the middle of the kitchen table was the drink mixing station, complete with at least five different liquors and assorted beverages. Apparently, the women had set this up here so they could make sure their men had a fresh drink in their hands at all times. The women in my family have always done a lot for their men, but they have never sat around waiting to serve them. I don't care if it was New Year's Eve. If my husband were to win the the freaking Nobel Prize, he's still going in the kitchen to fix his own damn drink.

Of course, I didn't have to worry because back then, I didn't know how to mix any drinks, and I barely drank. Small talk was made, but after the introductions, I didn't have too much to say because, first off, I knew no one they were talking about and second, I had nothing to contribute. Not to mention that I felt as if I were suffocating from all the cigarette smoke as they puffed away, including the pregnant lady of the house. I don't mean to sound like a snob, but I really had nothing in common with them. I can't even remember the specifics of all the topics. I do, however, remember the French tickler incident.

I knew from a couple of weeks beforehand, that R had this French tickler in his wallet. He had showed it to me, and it looked like a condom in its package, and while I had a good idea of what it could do, my inexperience kept me from realizing its true potential. Before midnight, R and his buddy were quite smashed yet out on the porch getting a refill from the keg when the door opened and this round, pink balloon-looking thing floated into the room. It seemed to turn in slow motion to reveal three tiny nubs near the top. Within seconds, my curiosity turned to horror. At the same time, the women at the table began hooting with laughter. They apparently knew what it was also. By that time, R bounded through the door and grabbed the swollen tickler, all at once confirming that it was his and leading the women to believe that our relationship involved much more experimentation that it actually did.

Mortified doesn't even come close to describing my emotion at that moment. Some could probably blow it off - pardon the pun - but I was only 21, in my first serious relationship and among a group of complete strangers. R maintained that it was his buddy who tossed the tickler (love that alliteration?) into the kitchen, but R had to have taken it out of his wallet for the whole incident to happen.

I can sort of laugh about it today - maybe because it was only the second worst New Year's I'd had or maybe because it wasn't the worst thing R did during our relationship - but what keeps the whole event from being totally hilarious is the fact that it was just another example of how he was just too immature. A lot of guys are that way, even ones who are older, but sometimes I just wish that I had gotten rid of the immature guys at an earlier age.

But, you know, it makes for good material. :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Things My Body Hates

1) Chef Boyardee: A few hours after eating one of the chef's concoctions (or any canned pasta dish for that matter), you'll find me in the bathroom puking my guts up and praying for death every 30 minutes. Frozen spaghetti entrees do the same thing, so I avoid all of them like the plague.

2) Maybelline makeup: Wearing anything from this product line makes my eyelids itch and turn red. Then they dry up and form a lovely layer of white, crusty, dry skin that flakes into my eyelashes. I look like a leper.

3) Watches: Any sort of metal watch makes my wrist breakout in a rash. Luckily, gold bracelets don't do the same thing. The only other relative who had this problem was my grandfather. Just goes to show that I seem to inherit the worst from all sides of my family.

4) The sun: My skin doesn't turn that lovely golden brown. My "tan" is a darker shade of red, more like a burgundy color - or maybe cranberry. Then I freckle. I gave up trying to tan in college, so hopefully, I'll avoid doing any more damage.

5) Pepperoni pizza for supper: Somehow while I sleep, the pepperonis summon the devil, who takes his fiery pitchfork, jabs it into my esophagus and gives it one huge twist.

Things I Wish I Hated

1) Mayonnaise: I must have it on any sandwhich, but it'd better be mayo and not that Miracle Whip shit, which is just nasty. I will eat a sandwich plain if all that's available is Miracle Whip. Better yet, put a jar of Duke's mayo on the table; those of you from at least a tri-state area should know what I'm talking about. I hardly know of anyone born and raised here who doesn't know to use Duke's mayo.

2) Sleeping: I could get so much more stuff done.

3) My iBook: See previous reason.

4) Shopping: My bank account would be much healthier.

5) Chicken fingers and french fries: My waistline would be much healthier.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Writing Prompt: Write About a Time You Cried

Wow, there's a lot to choose from, but since I was sort of in the mood to talk about living in Rock Hill, I'll start there. I couldn't tell you what the date was, but I know now when I had the worst cry I had in that town.

I graduated from Columbia College in 1994 with quite a list of accomplishments - magna cum laude, member of Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership honor society) and Sigma Tau Delta (English major honor society; we didn't have sororities), editor of the literary magazine junior and senior years, and co-chairperson of my class' entry in the annual skit contest (which we won two out of the three years). If I sound proud, it's because I am. You won't find me blaring these accomplishments from my car as I drive around, but I've always been proud of what I did in college, probably because I always felt second best in high school. But here I had lots of friends, and professors praised me and my work, especially when I decided to go to grad school. I felt as if I were on a pedestal. "Carla's going to grad school." It was this sing-songy chant, and it went to my head.

A month before graduation, I fell in love with R. (I'm not using the names of people I no longer communicate with.) He was not a college guy. He lived in a small town about an hour away from Columbia. We met at a wedding my roommate was in. (Insert oh-no groan here.) There I was, head over heels with this guy who was just as smitten with me. I was accepted in the English MA program at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, and I still remember a classmate of mine saying, "Wow, Carla, things are really working out for you."

A year later, everything fell apart.

I got a graduate assistantship, which in order to keep required taking three courses, but the job paid only $340 a month, which was my rent payment. I could have found a roommate, but she (because my mother would not have allowed a he) would have been a stranger. If you've read #14 on "More Stuff About Me," you'd understand my decision to go it alone, so I took a part-time job at Sears at the mall in Pineville, a Charlotte suburb 20 minutes north of Rock Hill. Twenty hours a week at Sears combined with twenty hours a week as a grad assistant combined with three classes made Carla a very stressed girl. Classes were harder than I expected, and while Winthrop professors were supportive, the adulation I enjoyed at Columbia College was gone.

Fortunately and unfortunately, R was 30-45 minutes away; he was my knight in shining armor and my crutch. That relationship was my first serious one, so I wanted to spend every free minute with him. The euphoria wore off quickly. I could tell you several stories about how he was an asshole, about how he infuriated me, about how he made me cry, about how he ultimately broke my heart - but oddly enough, crying over him is not the image I remember.

I remember getting out of bed in the middle of a night when R was staying over, walking over to the back window in the studio apartment and praying that I wasn't crying loud enough to wake him up. I looked out over the concrete parking lot, across the railroad tracks that hosted a train every morning at 4:30 am and shook the glasses in my cabinet, and above the warehouse right beside the tracks to the pitch black sky dotted with stars. I remember feeling hot tears streaming down my cheeks and cold linoleum freezing my toes. Thoughts kept running through my head: I was out of place and in over my head, and I had no one who understood. I don't remember how I quit crying. I realize now that the depression was settling in that night. It was making its reservation, holding its place for a later time when I would be even weaker, when my times were not so good.

I ran from Rock Hill, that tiny college town that couldn't hurt a fly saw the last of me in June 1995, two months after R and I broke up. I packed my stuff and got the hell out of Dodge. I drove out of town, dumped gasoline on the bridge, lit that baby and watched her burn. It was the first time I didn't finish something. I'm not proud of how I left, but I don't regret it either.

My "Fan Base" Is Spreading?

I was surfing my regular blogs today and found that I'm listed in another person's blogroll. That makes two total (unless you count my husband's blog which makes three), so now I'm included at my buddy Matt's site, 1000 Black Lines, and at Fictional Perspectives. I'm quite excited, as I'm sure you can tell.

Unfortunately, I dropped a level in the TTLB ecosystem. I'm now a Crunchy Crustacean instead of a Lowly Insect. :-( Any help would be appreciated. I know it seems silly to think it really matters, but it makes me feel special.

Anyway, I'm working on something longer to post later. I should get around to that this evening. Until then...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Writing Prompt: Write About a Voice

So, in keeping with the "rules" of A Writer's Book of Days, I ran with the first thing that popped in my head: "His voice was like honey." I know, I know, I groaned when I first said it as well, but I went with it anyway. It turned into a poem, and I tried to keep it from being cheesy. But here it is in an early form. As of now, I don't have a definite title. I'm thinking simply "Honey" or maybe "The Existence of Bees." I don't know. If you have something constructive to say, feel free to leave me a comment.

His voice was like honey.
The sound made me want
to be the wand -
to dip myself in his words,
to coat my mind
in his verbs,
his nouns,
his phonetic sounds -
to drizzle them in the air
so that everyone could hear
the sweetness -
not fabricated,
not calculated,
not orchestrated,
but simple,
When he stopped, my thumb ached
to sweep across his lips in case
a lingering trace
was left to taste.
And I had never been so pleased
about the existence of bees.

Fourth of July Memories

The other night as I was talking to my younger cousin about plans for July 4th, I began remembering some of the "celebrations" from the past. When my brother and I were in elementary school, we spent the week of July 4th at my aunt and uncle's house. Their kids, our cousins, were several years older, so staying there was like hanging out with the cool kids at school. For July 4th, my cousin Tommy would spend almost all his money on fireworks, and we would sit under the carport and watch them soar into the air or scuttle around on the ground. The next day, the fun was definitely over because we had to pick up all the bits of paper that survived the flames and explosions.

One year, we had tremendous thunderstorm on the afternoon of July 4th. My cousins and their friends stood on the carport watching the storm pass over, despite my aunt's predictions that they would be struck down by lightning. My brother and I, however, were easier to convince to stay inside. My uncle got the bright idea to take a potato from the pantry and toss it in the yard so the water would carry it right by my cousins and they would think it had washed away from the garden. I think they fell for it only at first, but I, being so young, felt a sense of excitement from being included in the joke.

When I was a teenager, I always spent July 4th on a trip with the youth group from church. (Read one story about that here.) In college, I was usually working, but most of my friends lived out of town, so there wasn't anyone to hang out with.

Just after I turned 23, I dropped out of grad school to get a "real job," and one of my coworkers invited me and a few others over to her house (well more like her parents' house) in the boondocks for a cookout. That event became a tradition until she got her own place several years later. We'd eat, drink, play pool and go swimming, and after dark, her dad and her boyfriend would light up the hundreds of dollars worth of fireworks they bought. The rest of us sat on blankets, swatted mosquitos and prepared to run at any moment from a stray sky rocket.

Perhaps the reason I love fireworks on the Fourth of July is because they remind me of these good times - the ones that always ended with my sides and my cheeks sore from laughing; my voice hoarse from trying to talk with everyone else; my skin sticky, my hair frizzy and my clothes damp from the humidity; my ears ringing from the fireworks popping and the endless chatter; and my mind etched with memories that never seem to burn out.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Writing Prompt: Write About High Tide

Okay, it's a rough draft, and I had trouble with this topic for some reason. I suppose it was just one of those days when the muse was eluding me, but I came to the paper anyway (pat on the back for me). So no laughing, please!

I sit and watch you
yourself on the sand.
Then you glide toward me
like a tongue.
My toes anticipate being licked.
Each extension brings you closer,
and I wait to see how far you'll come.
Then you retreat,
leaving me longing
for your return.

Fitting in Bits and Pieces

Today we were at my husband's grandparents' house. He and my mother-in-law were putting in a window air-conditioning unit in the kitchen. Danny has been having some trouble with his elbow, which wasn't helped with carrying around an air-conditioner, so we asked Grandma for some sort of pain reliever. Unfortunately, she informed us that she and Papa can't take anything like Tylenol or Advil because they're on blood thinners, which apparently keeps them from taking almost any kind of medication. But Grandma felt determined to find something. She pulled box after bottle of assorted drugs out of that cluttered cabinet, and before giving up she said, "Well, Danny, I have some stool softener. Do you think that might help?" Then she giggled, and I almost fell off my chair laughing because, I don't know why, hearing an elderly woman giggle is one of the funniest sounds to me. It's like hearing Yoda being silly in Empire Strikes Back - it's just totally hilarious.

So no drugs for Danny as he, his mom and Papa put in the air-conditioner. As Danny tried to attach the adjustable sides, he found (much to his delight) that the screws wouldn't fit the holes. Then Grandma brought out two pill bottles, placed a paper towel on the table and poured out all sorts and sizes of screws, nails, nuts, bolts and braces. Just when I thought how incredible her collection was, she reached under the sink and pulled out not one, not two, but three pint-sized jars full of metal pieces. Some of these things looked older than me, and none of them seemed to fit anything else.

Of course, sometimes I feel like I've done the same thing with my writing. I've collected all sorts of notebooks, scraps of paper, legal pads and computer documents - bits, pieces and sketches of things that don't fit together or anywhere else. But then Grandma told me something today about those all those screws. She and Papa were in the car, waiting for the traffic light to turn green so they could leave the grocery store parking lot, when Grandma spotted a extremely long screw on the asphalt. She told Papa she was going to get it, despite his threats to leave her if she did so. Knowing he's all talk, Grandma opened her car door and retrieved the screw. Within hours of arriving home, Papa had a board come loose in his workshop and eating the words he had said earlier, he asked for the screw she had picked up in the parking lot. What do you know? It was a perfect fit.

I guess I'll just have to hold onto my bits and pieces until I can find a place where each one fits.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

More Quotes About Writing, Part 2

Good grief, it's July already! Time to turn over to the next section in A Writer's Book of Days. Here are some quotes and advice I liked as I was reading:

"I will go so far as to say that the writer who is not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium." - John Steinbeck

"Writing is love, a mission, and a calling, and how and where and why you write are very critical issues." - Lynn Sharon Schwartz

"I shall live badly if I do not write." - Francoise Sagan

"If you don't risk anything, you risk even more." Erica Jong

"Don't always be appraising yourself.... Besides, you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable." - Brenda Ueland

"If thou are a writer, write as if thy time were short, for it is indeed short at the longest." - Henry David Thoreau

"Instead of moving horizontally on the page, stay with the moment or revelation and go down - down - down, vertically, deeper into complication, keep going down and uncovering harder things to say about the same thing." - Amy Hempel

"Name yourself writer. When people ask what you do, say 'I'm a writer.' Writing may not be the way you support yourself, but identifying yourself by your day job doesn't give your writing the position it deserves.... When you name yourself writer first, you affirm the place writing holds in your life." - Judy Reeves