Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Have a Statue of You In My Closet

Pin It The manuscript I'm currently trying to beat into submission (so that I can start the long process of having it simultaneously rejected by hundreds of literary agents) starts off with the heroine dragging a friend along to help her spy on the boy she's in love with. They hide in the bushes and watch in comically stalkerish dismay as the guy picks up his thin and pretty date for the evening.

Did you know there could be comically stalkerish dismay? Because there can. The reason I know this is that back in my (oh so wild and crazy) single days, my friend Becky* and I performed The Stalking not once, not twice, but THREE times.

Becky and I were really good friends. People said we were kind of nuts, which at the time we took to mean, "Aw, they are delightfully quirky and eccentric and cute." But really, looking back on it, I think mainly they just thought we were nuts.

Becky had an enormous crush on this cute guy we knew who I'll call, oh, I don't know, Mike.

Mike was tall and friendly and hilarious. If we'd lived anywhere near an ocean, he would've been a surfer. As it was, he was a wakeboarder and a snowboarder and he was seriously cute. If Becky hadn't had a crush on him, I'm sure I would have picked up the slack.

Becky and Mike went on a few dates, but eventually Mike's interest kind of waned. We all still hung out together, but he stopped asking her out. He would flirt with her, call her late at night and generally mess with her head, but he didn't want to actually go out with her.

You see the problem, right? Sadly, Mike was just not that into her. This was before that was actually a recognized condition though, so Becky and I spent many, many, many, many nights discussing where "this thing with Mike" was going. I empathized my heart out over the situation, partly because I was in the middle of my own never ending, totally doomed crush on a boy who just wasn't that into me, either. (Jerk.)

One night Mike invited a girl he was seeing, Katie, over to his house. He was going to cook dinner for her or something like that. Becky was seriously bummed so we went out for ice cream. Because eating more food? TOTALLY THE ANSWER TO OUR PROBLEMS.

Anyway, we were driving around that night and decided it would be a good idea to drive by his house. Just once. Just to see what was going on. I was pretty sure Mike wouldn't remember my car. I mean, he'd only seen it twenty or thirty times and it was a very inconspicuous, thirty year old, bright orange tank of a Volvo. We were practically in stealth mode.

We parked down the street from Mike's house. We slouched down in our seats, giggling, and watched the front door for a while but nothing really happened and after a while we got bored.

Becky was seized by the desire to just KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. Something was undoubtedly going on. Our lives would obviously not be complete until we knew what it was. So we did the only thing that made any sense at all.

We snuck around into the back yard of the house behind his and peeked over the cinderblock wall.

(For the record, Mike's neighborhood was brand new. A lot of the houses were still being built, or were finished but empty. The house behind Mike's was not occupied. So we were trespassing, but only technically. Are you seeing how that makes it all better and marginally less disturbing?)

Unfortunately, the blinds were partly drawn and we couldn't really see much. I could kind of sort of see the top of Katie's head, but that didn't really give us much information, and did not help to contribute to the intelligence we were trying to gather re: why Katie and Mike were sure to break up any minute now, so that he could come to his senses and propose to Becky.

We debated jumping into the yard to check things out, but that seemed a little TOO stalkerish. (It was good that we had boundaries, don't you think?)

At this point we were laughing and egging each other on and just kind of having fun and being crazy(er). We went back out front and walked across the street and down a few houses, then laid down in the grass so that he wouldn't see us if he came outside. (Since the grass was approximately two inches long, I'm sure we were very nearly invisible. We were BRILLIANT.) We laid there and talked and laughed and laughed and laughed for at least an hour until the door to Mike's house opened and we ran shrieking down the street toward my car.

Yeah. I'm sure he didn't notice THAT.

We thought we were so clever, but really, two chubby blond girls running down the street toward an ancient orange Volvo? In retrospect I'm guessing it probably wasn't that hard for him to figure out who we were.

But he never said anything, as far as I know. And it turned a really crappy night into a really fun one. Mission accomplished.

Man. You have no idea how badly I want to link to Becky's blog right now, but I think if I did that, and outed her, she would kill me dead with a knife.

But I don't think she should be embarrassed. After all, I'm sure you've all stalked someone before. Right? RIGHT?


Just me then?


*I realized a little late that my friend might not actually be o.k. with my posting this story for the universe to see, so I've changed their names to protect their privacy.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Pin It We're dealing with Things this week.

There have been Workplace Injuries, which required Special Conversations with Very Important Officials and even a consultation with an attorney to make sure that Things Are Being Handled Correctly.

The people who are masquerading as doctors tell us that the injuries are Possibly Severe and Life Altering, but also Possibly Not Severe and Life Altering, and that really, it All Just Kind of Depends - on whether or not you consider things like running, and hiking, and bending over, and picking stuff up, and oh, I don't know, being able to perform the normal functions of police work an essential part of life.

I hate it when my life involves so many capital letters.

I'm hundreds of miles away from where all of these Things are taking place, so I'm mostly trying not to think about it - trying not to fret and stew over What It Means. Luckily, I'm incredibly busy right now, between my kids and the five tons of freelance work that's popped up over the last few weeks.

If you ran into me at Target or something, unless you're my mother or my husband I doubt you would know anything was wrong. I've become compulsive about looking on the bright side, and I'm not sure if it's because a) it really does make me feel better, or b) I feel like it ought to make me feel better, or because c) YAY, denial!

But the truth is, I'm kind of tired of Overcoming Challenges in a Positive Way. I'd rather just - coast along on the Lazy River of Being in a Nice, Calm, Boring Rut. Sign me up for some of that, please.

P.S. It IS possible to gain ten pounds in two weeks. In case you were wondering.

P.P.S. It's cracking me up that in the Amazon ad on my blog (scroll down on the right hand side), the showcased books are all by Stephenie Meyer. Apparently Amazon has determined that the readers of this blog LOVE Twilight. :>

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Confessions of a Sneaky Mom

Pin It 1. Sometimes when my kids and I are sitting at the piano singing together, I'll get irritated because I want to sing the princess part and they just want me to be quiet and play the piano. (Little princess part hoggers.) They have zero interest in hearing me sing. I might as well be dead. Or more accurately, I might as well be an electric piano.

2. When my kids are irritable and bored and at each other's throats, I sometimes like to help them bond by pitting them against me. I tell them to go clean the playroom and not to come out 'til it's sparkling clean. They'll angrily trudge in there, but a few minutes later I'll hear whispering and the sweet sounds of plotting. Every so often I'll bellow out "You'd better be cleaning!" and I'll hear them giggle because they are SO not cleaning. They get along independently for hours because, hey, THEY SURE PUT ONE OVER ON MOM.

3. Sometimes I put them to bed really, really early. There are days when it's either put them in bed early or completely lose my mind. It works out great because a) I'm not yelling, b) they aren't that great at telling time yet, and c) they're happy as clams playing in their rooms, thinking they've tricked me into believing they're asleep. If I need to walk by their rooms, I just stomp my feet extra hard so they have time to jump in bed and pretend they're snoring. (It almost makes me proud, what good fake sleepers they are. They do the slow breathing and everything.)

4. Cereal for dinner is not a rare occurrence, but that's ok, because it has 14 essential vitamins and nutrients. Or so I've heard.

5. Once, I read this article about how they are starting to think soft plastic toys might actually be dangerous, so I went around the house and bagged up all of the Polly Pockets and My Little Ponies and put them away in a closet until I could do more research. They found the bag when we moved and they were so excited about it that I've just - let them play with potentially carcinogenic toys. Because, wheeeee, cancer is fun!

So spill in the comments, por favor. What are your true mom confessions?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I feel like throwing up right now...

Pin It
All of the times I’ve imagined getting rid of the dog, it never went like this.

He’s been irritable and growly lately, his behavior moody and unpredictable, trying to run away each and every time we let him go out to pee. He's been snapping at the children, nipping them and growling. A visit to the vet revealed nothing, his vaccinations are up to date, and I’ve been at a loss as to what to do with him.

Suddenly this morning, he bit Abby, hard, unprovoked. It wasn’t a gentle warning nip. It was a hard, deep bite, leaving deep bleeding puncture wounds and a bloody scrape on her forearm where he swiped her with his paw after he bit her.

I agonized for a while, then called Animal Control. I didn’t do it lightly. I hate the dog, but my children LOVE him. But biting and hurting my kids? That’s where the line is.

They told me they would quarantine him for ten days, then give him to the county shelter, where he would undergo temperament testing (whatever that is). If they determined that he wasn't a danger, they would adopt him out to a child-free home.

I talked to the kids about it, but they’ve heard me threaten the dog so frequently that they didn’t really take me seriously. When the animal control officer showed up at the door, they all started to cry.

They were totally devastated.

I tried to explain it to them, how we couldn’t risk having a dog who bites, how I could never forgive myself if I kept a biting dog and something more serious happened, how my friend’s son was unexpectedly mauled by the long-time family dog and permanently disfigured.

They didn’t understand. All they understood was that the dog they loved so much was leaving, being taken away in the back of an animal control truck.

Abby tore away from me. She ran down the block after the truck, screaming for him to come back, please come back. It was awful - one of the most heart wrenching things I’ve ever seen or heard in my life. I carried her back into the house, inconsolable.

She loves that dog so much. She hugs him and loves him and carries him around and pets him and talks to him. She draws pictures of him and tells him stories and sneaks him treats and sings to him.

She was (and is) beyond heartbroken. She sobbed, “Mommy, please don’t let them take Wicket, please, please, it doesn’t even hurt at all anymore, he’ll be so good, I promise.”

They choked out questions in between sobs. “Is he coming back?” “Is he gone forever?” “Mommy, I love him, I love him, I love him.” “Please let him come back, Mom.” “Is he gonna be happy?” “Will they take care of him?” “Can he come back if he’s good?”

All I could do was hold them and stroke their hair and cry with them and tell them how very, very, very sorry I was. And I am. I’m so sorry. I'm devastated for my children, and especially for my Abby, who I found sitting by his crate tonight, weeping.

When she said her prayers before she went to sleep, she said, "And please bless Wicket to be happy and good and..." and then she started to cry again, and I had to lie down next to her and hold her until she fell asleep.

The horrible thing is that I don't know if I did the right thing or not. I tried to err on the side of caution, on the side of protecting my kids from harm. But I don't know if it was wrong or right. I just don't know, and I can't stop crying about it, knowing how much they are hurting, how deep of a gash I've inflicted on their tender little hearts.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why I Think Twilight Sucks, and Other Important Thoughts





Jessica (who I found through Stephanie) just confessed her true feelings about Twilight, and because of her bravery, I am ready to come out of the closet.

I read it last week. EVERYONE I know has read it, and most of them loved it. Since I'm a total romantic sap, I was expecting to love it too.

You guys... I SO didn't get it. I thought it was very meh, starting with the main character, Bella (otherwise known as the Queen of Meh).

(Ooooh, do you hear that sound? It's me, getting delisted from 50 Twilight loving blogs at once. But I CANNOT BE SILENCED.)

Ugh. She was so boring and stilted and dead inside. I kind of wanted to slap her. My theory is that Bella actually has Aspergers Syndrome and also a really bad inner ear infection that destroyed her sense of balance. Because, come on. She can't consistently WALK without falling? She should go see a specialist or something, right? Why didn't she do that? Why didn't her parents have her checked out?

She was very annoying and I didn't get the whole martyr thing. She's on a date with a guy who has admitted that he isn't all that sure whether or not he's going to SLAUGHTER her as the capper to their date, and she thinks it's exciting and romantic? The girl has some serious issues.

I thought she was dull. I didn't get why Edward would be interested in her in the least. I mean, other than his preference for her biological fluids. Which seems kind of a shaky basis for a romance. Plus, she kept reminding us how he was all cold and dead. Gross.

And then there was Edward himself. Pompous, stilted, fatally unhip Edward. I get that the author was going for a 1911 language vibe, but come on. He hasn't been in a COMA for the last hundred years, he's been hanging out in high school. I don't know if it's a good thing when the romantic lead reminds you of Kelsey Grammar. Or rather, would remind you of Kelsey Grammar if Bella weren't constantly reminding us about his topaz eyes and his muscled chest. Did you know he had topaz eyes and a muscled chest? Because he did have topaz eyes and a muscled chest. Did you pick up on that? It was subtle, you might not have caught it.

I hated how he told her what to do all the time. He was so controlling and kind of ambivalent about whether or not he was going to eat her. I was like, dude, take a stand. Just go ahead and eat her, put us all out of our misery. But he didn't. (Maybe that's book three, I don't know.)

There was no build-up to their romance. One day he hated her (because he was trying not to eat her), and the next day they were both in TRUE TRUE LOVE with extra stalking. I thought the whole watching outside her window thing was incredibly creepy. If he was human, Bella would be filing restraining orders all over the place.

I think the main thing that annoys me is this: I don't like it when the heroine is stupid. And Bella is. If I knew my boyfriend was a serial killer, and he invited me to come over and look at his knife collection, and I said yes, would that be amazingly romantic? Or just kind of stupid? But Bella repeatedly says she doesn't care if he kills her, because she loves him. Wuh?? Wuh in the wuh wuh?

I also didn't understand why her dad wasn't raising holy hell about letting her see Edward at the end. If my daughter freaked out after a fight with her creepy boyfriend, took off, disappeared and then reappeared with said creepy boyfriend in Phoenix, where she just happened to fall through a window and end up in the hospital - I don't think I would be encouraging my daughter to continue to date him. You know? Is it just me? Is her Dad supposed to be delayed?

Jessica thought it got better near the end, but I didn't. It was like Stephanie Meyer got tired of writing about their romance and just threw in a random evil vampire. Random characters who hop in late in the novel - not so scary. (I thought it would have been more scary if they would have pulled in the space vampire from Buck Rogers. Because that episode gave me nightmares for YEARS.)

I get it, some people like the whole bad guy thing, the whole "my love makes you dangerous" vibe. I guess I can sort of see it. I mean picture it, if you were married to someone completely sexless, like Mitt Romney or something, fantasizing about dangerous-romantic-vampires might be just the ticket. But for ordinary women? What is the appeal?

Clearly, there IS appeal in the whole dangerous vampire-romantic-fiction genre. I just don't understand it. (Other than Buffy and Angel. THAT I get. But they're completely the exception. I think it helps that he doesn't want to eat her.)

So please enlighten me. Did you like Twilight? If so, WHY? Why why why why why?

UPDATE: I've had to close comments. Not because of the conversation you see in the comments, but because I got a few pretty obnoxious anonymous comments (which I ruthlessly deleted, because I'm drunk with power) from people who obviously have even MORE feelings about Twilight than I do, and I'm not in the mood to deal with them.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Flakes - Not Just for Dandruff

Pin It I'm almost completely unpacked. I'm down to living room books, bedding and laundry, if the box labels can be believed. (Bow before my crazy mad unpacking skills.)

This is possibly a new personal unpacking record. I credit a caffeine rush fueled by copious amounts of Diet Dr. Pepper and the fact that until about an hour ago, I had no internet. NO INTERNET FOR FOUR DAYS people.

It freaked me out to be so cut off. How would I get information? About things? And places? And hours things were open? And locations of stuff? What if I urgently needed to post something on Craigslist?

I needed some information last night and I couldn't find it in the phone book. I had no idea what to do. I paced for a while. I talked to myself. I repeatedly tried to bring up Google on my computer, on the off-chance that the internet might be working, sighing each time I saw the PAGE NOT FOUND error. "Would you look at that," I would mutter in surprise, "I don't have internet."

It was a frightening time. I'm glad it's over, but I think it was kind of good to unhook the internet IV for a couple of days. It was kind of cleansing, like a good enema.

(Um. I've never actually HAD an enema. It just sounded funny.)

(I just thought I should clarify.)

(Because I don't want you all sitting there thinking about me having an enema. That's just not a mental picture anyone should have.)

(So I should probably stop talking about it, don't you think?)

It feels so good to be home. Tonight I let my kids stay out until long past their bedtime. It was a beautiful night and they were having so much fun with a gang of neighborhood kids. I was making brownies (so domestic) (also, no internet) and had the screen door open. I could hear them all out there playing some kind of game on the trampoline - with much laughing and giggling and shrieking and carrying on. It was music to my ears.

I was a little surprised to realize that I'm kind of embarrassed about the whole fiasco. I didn't think I would be, but I am. I guess I thought I'd sort of evolved past caring what people think.

(Internet: Oh, Sue. You thought you'd evolved past having a little dignity? Or a healthy sense of shame? {{The Internet collectively shakes its head}} )

It's not the financial stuff.

It's not.

OK, fine, maybe it's that a little. In retrospect, coming out of the blog closet and giving everyone my blog address right before we moved might have been just a tad hasty.

But really, I think it's more that I feel so badly for imposing on people twice. Asking people who helped us move out a few months ago to help us move back in. Seeing people who came to my farewell night out and having to say, "Oh, HI! Good to see you! Oh, by the way, that whole moving thing? JUST KIDDING." (And if someone gave me a farewell gift, should I give it back? Because really, what if they think this was all just a ruse to get them to send me stuff?) Should I hang the completely wonderful picture they all signed for me when I left, or would that just be weird now that we're back? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Walking around the neighborhood on the fourth of July, running into friends and acquaintances, waving to people driving by in their cars - it felt so good. Seeing the kids with their friends and realizing we are back home, next door to the most awesome neighbors ever (more on that tomorrow)? Worth every drop of embarrassment.

I hope people haven't written us off as THAT family, but if the price for all of this happiness is being known as the neighborhood flake, then I'll take it. I'll embrace it. Here I am, Highland.


Ready or not.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Breaking Up Is Not Really All That Hard To Do

Pin It Dear Las Vegas,

I don't think this letter will come as a surprise. I mean, you knew it was coming, right? You and I - we've known each other a long, long time, and this on again, off again thing we've got going? It's gotta stop.

The thing is, you're getting on my nerves. You just think you're so hot. And yes, I won't deny it. You ARE a hot little number. Everybody knows it. You don't have to prove a point. One hundred and twelve - it's just a little extreme, don't you think? All of the other western cities, they're not such show-offs. You could take a lesson. (Just don't look at Phoenix, he's incorrigible.)

But I've had enough. I'm leaving on Friday, heading for greener pastures with my trusty moving truck. By Saturday, you'll be a distant memory.

Oh, maybe I'm not being fair. When I left you back in 2004 I swore I'd never be back, never ever ever, that I was DONE with you forever. After I left, I made fun of you behind your back for years, telling everyone how much I hated you. And yet, when I ran into a rough patch and came crawling back a few months ago you showered us with higher salaries and fancy new parks and access to family and friends. You do have your good points.

The truth is, I could probably overlook all of it - the strippers and the gambling and the late nights and partying - but I have to be honest with you. There's someone else. He's someone I had a four year relationship with, and I've tried, I really have, but I just can't get him out of my head.

Remember that one night, when we were driving back into town and I was mad at you because of your skeazy billboards? You were all, "FREE ADULT SUPERSTORE 24 HOURS," and I was all, "I hate that you hang out with people like that. They're turning you into a sleazebag," and you were all, "LARGEST SELECTION OF ADULT BOOKS EVER," and I was all, "Oh, Utah, how I miss you," and you were all, "SERIOUSLY WE'VE GOT A LOT OF ADULT STUFF IN HERE - HEY, wait a minute. WHO'S UTAH?" And I was all, "Um. Never mind. Nothing."

It almost got very awkward, but then we turned off into a residential area and you got distracted and started yammering on about square footage and desert landscaping and low low prices and you forgot all about my little slip up.

I was surprised you didn't see right through me. Because my lover Utah? He had me in his sweet, sweet, ruggedly outdoorsy yet freakishly clean cut spell even then. If loving him is wrong, I just don't wanna be right.

Shut up! Don't talk about him like that. He is NOT schizophrenic and moody. He just - runs a little hot and cold. Sure, he might get all up in my face during the day (kinda like you actually) all "Look at me, I'm so hot - go away before I scorch you with my hotness," but when the sun starts to go down he cools off and wants to be a good boyfriend again, and he gives me sweet, sweet sixty degree temps to prove it. Yeah, sometimes he freezes me out. But I can live with that kind of moody. Oh yeah, baby, can I ever live with it.

It's gonna be a little awkward for us, Las Vegas. I'm gonna be back to visit a lot. My friends and family are here, and I know they have to deal with you, so we'll probably be a part of each other's lives for a long time. Just - not like this. Not anymore.

Do me a favor, will you? Treat my friends and family right. Don't be mad if they come visit me and my new man. After all, they might love me, but they like you too. During some of the worst parts of our relationship, they kept telling me all of the good things about you. When I called you a sleazy dirt bag they said, "Awww, Sue, he's not so bad. You just have to look for the good parts." They were pulling for you. I mean, they want me to be happy, but they were also sort of hoping we could make things work. In the end, I think they knew it just wasn't meant to be.

If I could give you some friendly parting advice, I'd tell you to hang out in the suburbs a little more. They're a good influence on you. Stop spending so much time hanging out with strippers and county commissioners, don't crush beer cans on your forehead, and try to go a little easier on the porn, o.k.?

I hope you know that I'll always care about you.... In a vaguely repulsed but still sort of caring way.

Thanks for all of the memories.

Sort of fondly,


P.S. Don't try to contact me, Las Vegas. I won't even have internet until Wednesday, and you know how I feel about the phone.