I had warned her and warned her, too many times in fact, and now she wasn’t taking me seriously. Well, Saturday I’d had enough. I was tired of walking into her room and tripping over junk. I was sick of her saying she had no clean clothes because none of her laundry ever made it into the hamper. I couldn’t handle the near certain death of opening her closet anymore. Every time I went to put freshly laundered and neatly folded clothes in her dresser my head would explode. And I would chastise myself for caring that now her clothes were a wadded up, wrinkled mess.
As I said, I’d warned her so Sassy shouldn’t have been surprised when I entered her room snapping open a garbage bag. I nagged and cajoled until her room was spotless. It took SIX HOURS and FIVE GARBAGE BAGS! Six hours accounting for frequent bathroom breaks and a small sojourn for lunch. Five bulging kitchen sized garbage bags.
I used a rake to get the crap out from under her bed. In fact, I don’t know how surprised I would have been had I discovered actual crap.
I threw out puzzles whose pieces were strewn about because I’ll be damned if I was going to sit there and put them together to make sure they were all accounted for. Board and card games fared no better. Out went books with torn covers. I know! Blasphemy but I was on a roll.
I threw out every single Happy Meal toy I could get my hands on.
Many things ended up in those bags that I’m sure Sassy wouldn’t have been happy about had she realized, but I’m not sorry.
While I was laying on the carpet pulling out torn paper, dolls, candy wrappers, books, orphans and small animals from under her bed, I could hear the ghost of my father’s voice threatening to back his pickup truck under my bedroom window and promising to shovel out my belongings if I didn’t clean up my childhood bedroom.
Afterwards we were exhausted. My back hurt and my shoulders cramped. I know I worked at least as hard on that room as I did during the years of my indentured servitude working for my father on roofs and in ditches.
The Barbies and all her clothes are organized as are the Polly Pockets, Bratz, Princess Dolls, and Fairies. The books are lined up by size. Her clothes are on hangers or neatly folded. The shoes are lined up in pairs. The doll house toys are tucked away.
Sassy is pleased with the accomplishment. She promises to endeavor to keep her room tidy. Who wants to take 3 weeks in the pool?
We put up the Christmas decorations today. I can’t decide if that excites me or irritates me. By Christmas day, I’m so sick of the tree I’m ready to take it down immediately. It’s huge and hulking and in the way. At least for now, the tree is lovely and every surface of the house is covered in Christmas bacchanalia.
We’ve been collecting a Christmas village for the last couple of years. It started with a Nutcracker scene: 5 large porcelain pieces representing a ballet studio, a theater, a music shop, a bakery and a large castle. All of the buildings light up and several of them have moving pieces. For example, in the theater, the Rat King and Clara dance about.
My Honey has added all kinds of people and little vignettes to the village including ice skaters and snowball fights and stuff of that nature. We have scores of little tiny fir trees covered with snow and adorable snowy animals. Last year we added a toy store. There is a white cathedral we inherited from My Honey’s Nanny that fits in nicely as well. This year he added Frosty’s Tree Lot and a little scene of a deer eating a snowman’s carrot nose right off his snowy little face. He also replaced the Santa because he was mysteriously broken last year.
So how long do you think it took for the tree lot to be broken? Did you guess 35 seconds from when it was removed from the wrapping? Oh, you guessed too long. Did anyone admit to breaking the sign off? If you guessed Sassy immediately pointed at her brother, this time you would have guessed correctly. Of course he insisted it wasn’t him. Whatever. Our entire village had to be shored up with super glue before we could put it out.
My Honey had a conversation with the boy wherein he informed him, in no uncertain terms, that the Nutcracker Village was NOT to be attacked by GI Joes. The Nutcracker Castle is not COBRA command. There are to be no aerial assaults, no tunneling under the snow, and no open slaughter of the happy inhabitants of said village.
It is my opinion that next year we see if we can find a scale model of a little Red Cross Hospital to add to the village.
You know how sometimes you feel like the universe is trying to tell you something? I don’t know how My Honey feels, but right now, I’m feeling like the universe is hitting me over the head with a 2×4.
I’ve told you how from the very instant The Bandit approached Santa at Disneyland he told him how desperately he wanted a golden retriever. Remember how I told you, even though Santa gave him no assurances, the boy is positive Santa told him yes.
We just happened to be at the mall on Wednesday evening and, for probably the only time for the rest of the season, there was no line to see Santa. Damn it if the boy didn’t go right up to this Santa and pick up the golden retriever conversation right where they left off.
The dogs are everywhere. It’s like a conspiracy.
We went to dinner tonight and afterwards walked across the parking lot to the bookstore. As we approached the door, I felt an itch of panic. I could see a tail wagging through the glass in the double doors. And then I remembered The Golden Retriever Rescue Organization is at this particular bookstore all the time.
Before I could even get the warning out of my mouth, the door opened and there was a very happy, wiggling, tail wagging golden.
“You have got to be kidding!” my husband exclaimed.
“There are more in the children’s department,” the man holding the leash helpfully informed my gleeful children.
My Honey and I just stared at each other with our mouths hanging open. Of course they’re camped out in the children’s section. Where the hell else would they be?
I looked around the store a bit and my excited children towed their father to the children’s section. After a few minutes of aimless wandering, I headed over to where all the giggling was coming from.
My son and daughter were rolling around on the floor with three of the sweetest goldens you’ve ever seen. These three dogs were like the international ambassadors of lovely dogs you should bring home to lay at your feet and look up adoringly at you. There is no glimmer of the insane dog that will inevitably come to live at my house.
I just don’t know what we’re going to do about this situation. I’m beginning to feel cornered by the universe.
Sassy and The Bandit went to school Monday and Tuesday of this week with the rest of the week off. My Honey annoyingly also had the same days off from work which was really convenient since I wouldn’t have to scramble to find them a sitter. On Wednesday, My Honey decided to take one of his finals for school, a practical exam that would take approximately three hours. He arranged for the kiddies to stay with his mom for a couple of hours.
As he was getting them ready to go, he asked The Bandit several times if he had on underwear and, consequently, several times he told the boy to, “Go put on underwear right now!”
When they left the house, he asked one more time, “Are you wearing underwear?” and the boy nodded the affirmative.
So my children had a grand time with their grandmother. They all did a bunch of work in the garden and in the process got soaking wet. Back in the house, Grandma stripped the kids of their pants with the goal of putting them in the dryer – the pants not the kids, although… So there stood my son in the laundry room t-shirt and absolutely nothing else.
“Grandma, I don’t have any underwear,” he told her needlessly since there he was in all his nekkid glory, willy flapping in the breeze from the air duct.
Grandma found him a long t-shirt to wear until his pants dried.
My Honey related this story to me with a rather high level of exasperation.
“I told you a zillion times, you can’t just ask. You must do the butt pat.”
“He told me he was wearing underwear. I can’t believe he just lied to me like that.”
I laughed at his naivete. “Why? He was born to lie to you. He does it nearly constantly.”
It’s true. The boy has the face of an angel and is as likely to lie as budding felon. Now he’s only five, so he’s a tremendously bad liar, but sometimes, as his father was this morning, we are too busy to get the 100 watt light bulb out and question him properly.
You can be sure, before we left the house for Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s, the “butt pat” was performed.
It’s that time of giving thanks again. It’s one of my favorite holidays, and you don’t even get presents. Who’d have thought? But it’s true. I love food and family, and I’m not totally selfish, so short the receiving of presents, this is a perfect holiday. AND it’s nowhere near as stressful as Christmas. Darn near perfect, if you ask me.
I thought I’d share a few things I’m grateful besides the obvious healthy, family, job and home.
That if the Idiot Dog refuses to adore me in the manner I’ve come to expect from my canine companions, at least the cat does. The older he gets, the more affectionate he becomes. He is my near constant companion as I work late into the night. My fuzzy little Ginger companion. Thank you, Geddy.
I’ve said it before, in fact very recently, but the fact that my husband and best friends and close family are so funny. Throughout the mundanity of life, the day to day drudgery of working for a living, the beat down of bills, and how alarmingly exhausting raising children is turning out to be, it’s so life affirming to surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard your stomach aches and various beverages come out your nose. Thank you, Brothers and Sisters and Family.
I’ve said this before, too. In fact many, many times on these very pages, but having an agent is a beautiful thing. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I constantly question if what I have is talent or just a momentary flash of good luck, and it’s sometimes hard to believe the words of validation from those close to you. No matter how wonderful it is for Kelli, Ava, My Honey or my mom to tell me I am a good writer, I am funny, my talent is real, for someone who is hoping to profit off you to believe in you is more validation than a fragile artistic ego can hope for. Thank you, Kevan.
This is silly, but I am so thankful for books. I imagine you all can appreciate this sentiment. If not, I’m very sorry for you. Thank you brilliant authors who’ve come before me – Bryson, Lee, Shakespeare, oh just the pantheon of men and women of letters. Thank you thank you thank you.
That there is a lock on my bathroom door – and not for the reason you may think. Locked in the bathroom is the only place I can have a moment’s piece in my home. Between Sassy, The Bandit and Idiot Dog, this is the only place I can have a phone conversation. I am remarkably adept at ignoring pleas from the other side of the door. I can sit on the side of the tub and read or chat in my little sanctuary. It’s the idea place really. If I get cold there is a fuzzy bathrobe on the door and warm heater in the ceiling. If I get thirsty, there is plenty of water. If I drink too much water, well that’s rather obvious, isn’t it? Thank you, working lock!
I hope your day of Thanksgiving finds you thinking of other things your thankful for besides the obvious. Have a wonderful day. I’ll be thinking of you all while I’m trying to keep the food on my plate from touching – because that’s just icky.
I had a really good talk with my agent today. I just want to say again how much I love her. She is a really good match for my personality. It doesn’t hurt that I make an effort of “reigning it in” with her. I torture Kelli, Ava and My Honey with all my really big moments of angst. It is my desire to retain my agent so I never want her to know what a basket case I really am. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? I kid. Sort of.
Anyway, we talked over some ideas for the current book she has out to the publishers - there are still two editors we’re waiting to hear from, and we talked about the next book – the one I’m currently writing. I am going to endeavor to make this next one a lot darker. You’ll note the other book I’m reading from the panel on the right. Of course, I just happen to have that reference book in my library. It’s absurd the number of obscure reference books I own.
We also talked about my existing novellas. Something is afoot. We’ll talk about this more later as things get underway. For now, let’s just say something is in the works and I am ever so happy to have an agent. It really makes an author’s life so much easier.
I think Agatha Christie was a bigger genius than anyone gave her credit for.
Never do anything yourself that others can do for you.
Oh, do I have a list of things I don’t want to do anymore.
- Wash my car or fill it up with gas. Oh do I hate this task. I let my car run dangerously close to an empty tank simply because I hate stopping at the gas station so very much. I don’t know why really, it’s just so inconvenient. Although, I’ll let you know how inconvenient it is to actually run out of gas – it’s bound to happen eventually.
- Mop. I don’t think I even have to explain this odious task.
- Cook dinner. I hardly ever do it, but if I never had to do it again, I’d be a very happy woman.
- Pay bills. It’s just so depressing.
The list could go on and on and on and on…….I wonder where you’re supposed to find these people that do all this stuff.
This is an email exchange between Ava’s husband and me. Everytime I think of this, I crack up. Is it any wonder I love these people.
Hey There Young Lady ( say it like a drunk sailor from Singapore )
Just found the receipts for the cables. It came to $21 with the tax and and shipping.
Give it Ava so that she can pretend to give it to me, so that I may never see it again
Hahahahahahahahahahhahaha. You made me snort! I figured you’d never see the money so I brought you a present as well.
(Say that like a cheerleader from Iceland)
It’s always good to surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard you snort. The Sister’s have short hand for this phenomenon. We call it Nose Coffee for when you shoot coffee out your nose when reading one of our texts.
Thank you Ava, Kelli, My Honey, Kurt, and Ed. I don’t know what I’d do without you.
We had an early Thanksgiving at my dad’s wife’s daughters’ house. Did you get that family tree there? I really hope none of those people read this blog because there is no way I can’t tell you about it. This was the kind of thanksgiving they make comedic movies starring Chevy Chase and Vince Vaughn. It all started with a phone call from my father, literally as we turned on his street, wondering where we were. We were told to be there between 5:30 & 6:00. According to my phone it was 5:31. This is fairly typical so I didn’t feel much more than a rudimentary annoyance.
We got in the house and there were a ton of people. People I didn’t know, or necessarily even want to know. More people poured in and kept trickling in even after dinner. All told there must have been around twenty-five or thirty people there. People I’m not related to at all. Thanksgiving is historically stressful enough without having to have it with a herd of people you don’t care one whit about. That’s not true. I love my dad, and that’s what I kept reminding myself the entire evening.
I love my dad. I love my dad. It was like a mantra.
I was asked to bring deviled eggs. Thank god, because otherwise my kids would have eaten nothing but pickles and black olives the entire night. Otherwise we had turkey leather and instant mashed potatoes. But none of that is why I am compelled to tell you this story.
The entire cast of America’s Most Wanted and Cops were there. I know that sounds cliche and, as a writer, I strive to avoid cliche but I’m at a loss. Let me tell you about a few of them and then you decide.
THE DRUGGIES. Oh my, were these two wasted. I’m not sure of the relationship to anyone – but that could be said of almost everyone there. The only people I was 100% sure of were my brother and his wife. They were husband and wife or something. I couldn’t get too close, or rather I didn’t want to because of the smell. My Honey best described it as the “smell of unwashed ass”. Crude but remarkably apt. At one point, the woman staggered into the kitchen and trapped me there. When I finally escaped, with watering eyes and the beginning of a migraine, she followed me out to the living room where she confronted My Honey about his status as a fireman. She was completely positive she’d met my husband in church (!?!) and that he was a fireman. He is not, as much as I’d like it to be true to fulfill my own ridiculous fantasies, a fireman. Her husband was another thing entirely. He never spoke a single word the entire time we were there. Instead, he sat in a chair and did an excellent impression of Charles Manson. In fact, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if he jumped up and used one of the plastic knives to carve a swastika in his forehead. It was all very unnerving. My Honey and I argued much of the way home about which was the worse scenario: to be trapped in a small space with a tweaker with a Cheshire Cat grin and unfocused eyes or to be stared down by Charles Manson all night. We still don’t have a clear winner.
THE BIKER DUDE. The chapter president of a well known biker club (I dare not use the word gang) was also present. I know he is president because his leather vest said so and I’m not of a mind to argue with a leather vest. Despite his mildly intimidating demeanor, he was actually quite funny, and My Honey and I chatted with him quite a bit. In fact, he showed me pictures of his chihuahuas from his phone. I know – good imagary right? Fairly early in the evening, before their cousins showed up, my kids complained about being bored. Mr. Biker offered to take my kids into the back room and teach them to assemble and disassemble automatic weapons in the dark. I said OK. Hey, they need to have skills. Besides, I want my kids to have lots of new experiences, and I don’t think their Episcopalian private school is going to teach them that particular talent. I kid. I only hope he was also kidding. I’m not sure though because he also repeatedly suggested we let them play with steak knives.
THE OTHERS There were others who I would have been better able to describe if I wasn’t so fascinated by the Druggies and the Bikers. I hate to sound elitist, but sometimes facts are facts. I left the party feeling super intelligent and very classy.
My brother and his wife were the first to flee. Chickens. Taking their lead we followed right behind. I love love love that this event was held on a school night. I was able to politely refuse any leftovers with the truth that I have to make two pies on Thursday. We’re going to my Mom-in-law’s for the real turkey day. I am confident it will be nowhere near as blog worthy as last night.
Thoreau has always been a favorite of mine. Perhaps, he’s a left over of my self-righteous youth – when everything was much more black and white. His appeal is strong to anyone who holds conviction of mind and spirit in high esteem. He lived a life of very little compromise.
But then I read this and I find a whole new side of Thoreau to admire.
When it came to book sales, well, let’s just say Henry David Thoreau was no J.K.Rowling. Now considered a minor classic, his 1849 breakthrough A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers sold so poorly that children would travel to his house to get a look at the “strange man…[who] had written a book no copy of which had ever been sold.” That was an exaggeration, but only slightly. In fact, Thoreau’s publisher wrote to him asking what to do with all the unsold copies piling up in his office. Thoreau took 706 remainders, which he stacked in his attic and tried to sell to anyone who dropped by. “I now have a library of nearly nine hundred volumes,” he confessed at one point, “over seven hundred of which I wrote myself.”
Oh good grief. I’m not too proud to tell you, I’ve been having a quiet nervous breakdown. For some reason, I was so delusional that I assumed once I got an agent, the worry was over. I never had a doubt publishers would be lining up to buy my manuscripts. The agent was the hard part, now the money and fame rolls in, right? I wouldn’t say I was really that delusional, but honestly, it never crossed my mind my manuscript wouldn’t be picked right up.
The editor who inquired if I was interested in a series ultimately passed. She sent an email to my agent saying,
“I absolutely love Amylynn’s voice, and her characters roped me in from the very beginning. She is a very talented writer. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that the story hook itself is different enough to stand out from what is already a very crowded shelf. So, regrettably, I will have to pass. If Amylynn writes anything else in the future, I would love to take a look. I would love to find a project for us to work together on!”
All of that is wonderfully flattering all the way up to the point where she passes.
We’re still waiting on three more editors. And I’m trying not to be depressed and to keep on writing. Admittedly, it’s hard.