29 April 2008

Dear Mr. Stephen King:

First, I hope you and Tabitha are well. Forgive my intrusion into your life, but I have some questions regarding publishers. I considered mailing this to your home, but concluded the chances of you getting it are as remote as you reading my blog.

So… when you were an up-and-coming writer, did you have to submit the first chapter of Carrie or The Shining on bright, white paper; double-spaced with one-inch borders with your name and title of the book in the header, along with the page number? Were you required to use only Times Roman or Courier font at 10-12 pts?

Did you have to write a catching, all-consuming synopsis of the story for the remaining chapters of your book which (amazingly) fit on one page? Were you also required to place in one cover sheet your accolades, your education, the reason why you wrote the book, why you think there’s a need for said book, how many other books like yours are out there and why yours is different, and how much you’d be willing to kiss the a$$ of the publisher if they took your book seriously?

And then, after winning The Dixie Lee Connor Award for the best children’s or Young Adult Manuscript at the 2005 Harriette Austin Writers Conference in Atlanta, Georgia and an agent swooped in to represent you – did that same agent rape your words and make you change your story/story line no less than 40 times before Ann Schwartz of Random House Children’s Books got so fed up with your agent’s antics she threw in the towel and you found yourself adrift on a desert island… again… without a publisher… without an agent… ?

Oh, wait, that was me…

I’ve considered getting on stage, wearing a cone bra and gyrating to songs professing my virginity… becoming famous for my boobs, then writing a children’s book (after my SEX book goes national)… maybe then the publishers would notice me.

Unfortunately, I sing as well as Madonna writes…

I’ve been picked up for seven of my children’s books by an independent publisher, but I’m beginning to wonder if I'm doing this correctly. I’m a babe in this ink-eat-page world, and although it may sound as I am bitter…. I’m not. Just in need of some guidance, and to know I’m not alone in this writing world.

I’m sure you’ve gone through all this. I remember hearing you speak at the Children’s Literacy Center’s sponsored reading of Insomnia in Colorado Springs. You said you covered your wall with rejection slips. I know exactly how you feel. I hear Dr. Suess was rejected numerous times before he was picked up by a publisher, and that knowledge gave me hope until I heard (don’t know if it’s true) he only got published after he took the job of editor in said publishing house and published his own books… then, of course, JK Rowling’s story – which gives hope as well… like a band-aid applied to a severed arm.

Oh well, I don’t think you can help me, but it’s been cathartic just writing it all down. Thank you for your time. You’re one of my favorite travel agents. I appreciate your skill and talent for transporting me to another place, another time, and a different life with the stroke of your pen. Maybe someday I can return the favor. Thank you again.

Enjoy & In Joy
S

28 April 2008

Soaking in the tub...

...mind on auto-pilot, I began to make a mental checklist of things. I’d like to share one in particular.

Ten things I miss about living with a significant other:
1. Relief is just a nudge away for that middle-of-the-night back itch you just can’t reach.
2. Sitting on the veranda, watching the sunrise/set and talking quietly over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
3. Falling asleep in warm, loving arms; bodies close and snugly.
4. Waking up to breakfast in bed.
5. Getting a cup of tea brought in when your head can’t leave the pillow or your butt can’t leave the throne.
6. Discussing the latest news or movie you’re watching.
7. Sharing a bowl of ice cream on the couch.
8. Long, hot showers together.
9. Discussing and deciding what we want to do together.
10. Sharing chores and responsibilities as two.


Ten things I like about living alone:
1. A backscratcher is just a reach away – and it doesn’t yell if you utilize it in the middle of the night (same goes for BOB for those other kinds of itches).
2. Sitting on the veranda, watching the sunrise/set and thinking quietly over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
3. Having the whole bed and all the pillows to myself.
4. Waking up, going to bed and eating whatever and whenever I want.
5. Not being self-conscience about the smells emitting from both ends when you’re sicker than a dog and smell worse than a dead one.
6. Being able to hear the TV or movie because no one is talking.
7. Having the whole carton of ice cream to yourself.
8. Long, hot shower without having to share the spray.
9. Doing whatever I damned well please.
10. Having only to clean up after, or cook for one.
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18 April 2008

Run, Jack, Run!

My daughter, Jack, wore a dress to school yesterday – not knowing/remembering the all-important, timed, 1-mile run in gym class.

She had try-outs for the talent show after school and wanted to look nice while she played “Ode to Joy” on her recorder… through her nose. (She got in, BTW)

So, now she tells me they’re pulling her out of lunch recess to do the run… because we all know how important running is in school.

“Wait! Stop running around with your friends!! Come over here and run so I can time you and let you know if you’re acceptable in our society.”

I never understood why they have track day at school. Ironically, it’s the only school mandated activity which hasn’t been cancelled due to discrimination.

Marci and her classmates had to sit in the courtyard for art class the entire past year because their wheelchair-bound classmate couldn’t get up the short flight of stairs to get into the quad classroom. It would have been humiliating for him to be carried, they tell me, so the rest of the class sat out in the elements – driving rain, falling snow, chilling sleet, blustering wind, freezing cold, glaring sun, blazing heat (Do you like all my adjectives? Did I go too far?) – all because he couldn’t get inside with dignity.

This year they have a ramp.

This little boy cannot run, so why haven’t they cancelled track day? I know running in elongated circles when running isn’t your thing is equivalent to being carried up the stairs for some kids: No dignity involved, here. I guess the grooming of the jocks begins in elementary school, and somebody needs to be last, so thems who are first can judge how first they are. Goodie! After all, how fair would it be if only thems who can run fast and enjoy said activity got together and beat on their chests to see who’s best? How much better it is to have the little ones whose legs aren’t formed, who read more than sweat, and are better crushed by failure because little Johnnie passed the finish line five minutes before they even came around the bend? Don’t worry – they’ll undoubtedly receive a “thanks for being a good sport and participating in this race even though it goes against everything in your nature and desire just so Johnny could beat more than the one other person in the school who enjoys racing and competing” award.

Neener, Neener, Neener – I can run faster than the losers!!! - Some say it builds character to lose. I say it grows uncertainty and inferiority complexes… and an extreme dislike for gym and gym teachers everywhere. (BTW - What does it build in the ‘winners’? Certainly not character.)

And, thus, the hierarchy of social status begins. Separating the wheat from the chaff. Amazingly, not for brains or goodness, but for sheer strength and brutality.

(I’m not implying all jocks are neither intelligent nor kind – I know a few who are both.)

It’s not until these amazing children of insight, intelligence and artistic ability become adults and are able to make their own choices (i.e., to not participate in barbaric activities like, say, the Olympics… which, if you remember is housed in Colorado Springs where they place smelly armpits above elementary schools… so they’ve already begun the de-evolving of the human condition) and are big enough to not be picked on by the apes who can toss a football… and catch it… society can see their worth; their limitless possibilities.

Only kids interested in music join band and honor choir in elementary school.

In jr. high/middle school, only kids interested in art sign up for the art classes, etc.

But everyone, throughout all levels of ‘lower’ (as apposed to higher) education, is required to take classes like: English/Grammar/Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies/Government… and gym. …and the thems-in-charge put most of our money into the ‘gym’ part to education’s detriment.

Could somebody please explain that to me?

But, it gets better. Now, at the end of every quarter they give out meaningless, paper awards to all the kids for various reasons like… reading faster; doing homework; showing up for school everyday and on time; being the teacher’s pet… you know, stuff like that. So much so, now any kind of accolade is mundane and commonplace. We give our kids rewards like we give our pets treats – every time they jump high enough or don’t poop in the wrong places.

Why do we have to stroke their egos for doing their jobs? It used to be a ‘reward for a job well done’ and now it’s just a ‘reward for a job done’ – every time the job gets done. In some cases, it seems they make up awards to ensure most of the kids have a reason to walk on stage at least once. (I feel for the kids who don’t even merit a ‘made up’ accomplishment reward. How sucky is that?)

I don’t know what was wrong with waiting until 6th grade (or the final grade in elementary school) to give out awards to the graduating students who deserved an award - not just because they did what they were supposed to do anyway.

Hey! Wait a minute… I got up this morning on time. Where’s my bleeping reward? Knick-knack, Paddywhack – Give this dog a bone, here!

In Joy & Enjoy
S

12 April 2008

Community Service

My eldest sent me this email joke... and I just have to post it (or the aliens will come to take me away):
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One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he asked about his bill and the barber replies, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.'
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The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber goes to open his shop the next morning there is a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.
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Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.'
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The cop is happy and leaves the shop. The next morning when the barber goes to open up there is a 'thank you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.
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Later that day, a college professor comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.'
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The professor is very happy and leaves the shop. The next morning when the barber opens his shop, there is a 'thank you' card and a dozen different books, such as 'How to Improve Your Business' and 'Becoming More Successful'.'
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Then, a Congressman comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.'
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The Congressman is very happy and leaves the shop. The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.
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And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the members of our Congress..............Vote carefully this year.

And nothing but

I find these truths to be self-evident:

1. The pizza won’t cook unless and until you actually put it inside the oven. All the pre-heating (sorry, James - heating) aside, eventually you have to remember to put it in there.

2. The pizza will burn if you forget to remove it from the oven. I promise.

3. Kids won’t eat burnt pizza… unless you tell them they can’t. (So, tell them they can’t, already. Problem solved.)

4. No matter how many times you tell them, your kids will never remember how to put a new roll on the toilet paper dispenser, or just how much toilet paper is ‘enough’ already.

5. The phone will always ring… or your nosy neighbor will walk right in the second you sit down on the toilet seat, or step naked into the bathtub… unless you plan ahead and take the phone with you, and lock the front door beforehand, that is.

6. The day you plan an unbelievably fun activity (outside the realm of being a Mom), school will be closed, or on delayed start due to nasty weather or disaster, or your child will wake up with a fever.

7. The paint/nail polish/varnish/glue won’t dry until and unless you touch it to see if it’s dried yet, only to leave a nice smear or fingerprint, and you’ll never be able to convince your children to not test this theory.

8. No matter what you do for your adult children; no matter how much money you’ve already given them for rent/car payment/college – they’ll never remember not paying you back and insist it was their sister, not they, who borrowed last time and “can you please lend me some money since you ALWAYS lend her some” in a you’ve-always-loved-her-more kind of way. (Don’t worry, you’ll get paid back when your grandchildren borrow from them and ‘forget’ all about it.) If you have viable proof of said loan, you’ll get the “do you have to remind me and make me feel like crap when I’m already stressed enough?” speech.

9. No matter what kind of Mother you are, you will always be blamed for their woes and hardships; they all end up in some kind of counseling session complaining of your lacks and mistakes… I guarantee, if Mother Theresa had a daughter, she’d end up in counseling, too. Make no mistake about it. So, you may as well suck at being a Mom, 'cuz you’re gonna get blamed for everything anyway.

10. No matter what you teach your children about the evils of cigarettes and drugs and alcohol, they’ll listen to their friends before they even see your lips move. If their friends are ‘into’ it – they will be, too. Get over it and hope they come out of the ‘stupid tunnel’ before the light at the end of it turns out to be an on-coming, fast-moving train. Repeat after me: “This, too, shall pass.”

11. The exact moment you shampoo the carpet or mop the floor, little Susie (or one of her friends) has fat-finger-freddy disease and spills her cherry kool-aid… but, she can’t just spill it. No! She actually tries to catch the falling cup (bless her heart) and instead catapults the cup into the wall, successfully spreading red, sticky mess from wall to wall, and half-way up. Surprise! (Where’s that person with the boobs? Clean-up in aisle four, oh-mighty-boobed person - the only person alive who knows how to hold the mop just right…)

12. There are more truths, but the truth is my men-o-pause-al brain forgot the rest. I guess I’ll just update as needed.

Thanks for playing.
Enjoy the ride,
S

11 April 2008

Survey says...

You know, I’m really not political at all, but reading my blog you may get that impression. I apologize for misleading you. It’s just something about somebody else telling me what I SHALL have or I SHALL do or SHALL NOT do ticks me off a bit.

I SHALL have health insurance and car insurance… I SHALL pay taxes. And, I SHALLN’T beotch about it. Yeah, right… Bee Eye Tea Ee Em Ee!

What I want to do is write. And read. And play. And laugh. And be. And be in joy. And enjoy.

Every now and again surveys go around the email-coaster and you’re supposed to fill in the blanks with your own answers and send them on. From now on, I’ll just send a link to this blog, because – once and for all (until I change my mind) people – these are my answers (for the moment, anyway):

What’s your age?: today? 45… the day after my next birthday? 46
What color are your eyes?: The right one is denim blue with a golden circle around the iris, but if you don’t get close enough it just sorta looks green. The left one is just like the right one.
What’s your weight?: 125-155 lbs, depending on the weight of the world. I weigh much less on my home planet.
What’s your height?: Are you kidding me? You never ask a lady her height. What are you, an idiot?
What’s your sign?: Slippery when wet? No, Cancer
What’s your favorite precious stone?: Tanzanite
What’s your favorite metal?: Gold
What’s your favorite color?: Azure
Who’s your favorite actor?: Do they have to be alive? Okay, then - Female? – Meg Ryan & Kathy Bates; Male? - Tom Hanks & Owen Wilson – to name only two of each.
Who’s your favorite author?: (Besides me?) Stephen King and Elizabeth Berg – to name only two.
Who’s your favorite singing sensation?: (Besides me?) Michael Tolcher, Rob Thomas, Sarah McLaughlin – to name only a few.
(My sister always asks what I did with the money. I always answer with: “What money?” Twixt she always replies: “The money I sent you for singing lessons.” And then, I always say: “Let that be a lesson to you!” Yeah, we’re always fun like that.)
What are you wearing?: (no, wait, that’s what guy said on the phone to me last night… right after the really heavy breathing…never mind)
What’s your favorite food?: Anything edible – I am carnivorous, not because I hate animals… but because I love plants.
What’s the last book you read?: A New Earth, by Eckard Tolle
What’s the last movie you watched?: Horton Hears a Who
When’s the last time you cried?: When I filed/paid my taxes.
What inspires you?: Life
What’s your biggest fear?: Outliving my kids
What’s your pet peeve?: Pet Peeves
What disgusts you?: For one - Liars of every shape and size, regardless of their reasons for lying. Another – pedophiles and pimps (Yes, I’m also talking about the scumbags who produce/buy/promote the wonderful “Girls Gone Wild,” and the like, Videos – who, in my opinion, are all of the above.) And, watching people eat bugs. And other stuff like that.
Do you believe in God?: Not as a person, but as a concept – yes.
Do you believe in Jesus?: Not as a person, but as a concept – yes
Do you believe we are alone in the Universe?: No, it just feels that way sometimes.
What’s your favorite flavor?: Wow, that’s a harder one than the God/Jesus questions - Ice cream?: Pistachio; Coffee?: Chocolate; Imitation (as in candy)?: Strawberry, Cherry or Raspberry;
What’s your favorite aroma?: baking bread, vanilla, lilac, the smell of my children’s breath (after they’ve brushed their teeth)
What’s your favorite candy?: Hot ‘Males; Good ‘N Plenty; Licorice; Cinnamon Bears
What’s your ideal car?: ‘65 Mustang convertible
What was your favorite toy as a child?: Boys… as an adult it’s Men.
Do you have any regrets?: Yes, answering these surveys.
Have you ever died your hair?: Well… I’ve never killed it, if that’s what you’re asking.
Have you ever permed your hair?: Yes, but more like temped it ‘cuz it didn’t stay that way for very long.
Have you ever had surgery?: yes – a bazillion times… or, it could be less. I lost count.
Have you ever had vanity surgery?: Just my eyes – had lasik
How many surveys like this have you filled out?: More than I’ve had surgeries, that’s all I know.

Anything else you’d like to know about me? Just ask – I’ll answer any question you may have.

Enjoy & In Joy
S

07 April 2008

Mate's Soul

On MSN.com today, I found this article:

Is This Your Soul Mate?
By Amanda May

You can find it here:
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Anywho – basically what she’s saying is you should know a person BEFORE you jump into bed with them. No? Really? Hmmm… What is this world coming to when you need to know them before you fight over a pillow and an equal share of the covers all night?
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Here are the questions to ask, according to Amanda (I do not dispute her claims here, just wanted to answer the questions for you... or rather, for myself... or, whatever. You know what I'm trying to say... write... whatever:
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Question #1: “If your company gave one-year paid sabbaticals, what would you do for that year?”
I would take one day at a time. Life is too short to plan a year vacation. Who knows what would/could happen in that year. On September 10th, I'd be willing to bet there were many people scheduling flights from their offices in the WTC.
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Honestly, who could answer such a question honestly? Maybe the question ought to be: “What would you like to do?”
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I would like to travel… but you never said anything about anybody giving any extra money, so unless I had a really, really good paying job, well… I guess the only travelling I would be doing would be with my favorite travel agents: Stephen King or Elizabeth Berg. Turn a page and escape to other worlds, other problems, and other adventures.
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Question #2: “Will you share an embarrassing moment with me?”
I suppose I would… but why would you like to be embarrassed with me? Can’t you do anything on your own?
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My most embarrassing moment involves an Oklahoma town gas station's restroom, a string of toilet paper, my pants and a room full of patrons buying gas and waiting for the one, workable restroom… You fill in the blanks. Let’s just say I cannot show my face there anymore…. Or my backside, for that matter.
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Question #3: “If your house were on fire, what’s the one thing you’d make sure to save?”
My a$$... and the a$$es of my children. But we covered this subject on a previous blog.
Here’s your assignment if you wish to accept it: Find the blog and read what belong-ings I would ‘save” from a fire.
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Question #4: “What’s the biggest misperception people have about you?”
That I am ignorant… or that I’m not ignorant.
That I like doing housework and other menial tasks.
That my head is as big as a melon… wait – which melon are you referring? You may be right.
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Question #5: “What’s the one life experience you want a do-over on?”
(oh, yes, she did! Miss Amanda ended her sentence in a preposition...)
I think I’d like to change the way I was born. I hear the water-birth is so much more of an enjoyable experience (than the slice ‘em/dice ‘em procedure Mom went through). If I’d only been born that way, maybe I would be a less/more ignorant person than you think I am.
I wonder if my Mom would be willing to re-do the whole thing so I could have my do-over.
Remember – my no-you-ain’ts neighbor done tole me to ‘go back to where I came from… or else.” I still think my Mom would object, don’t you?

Now it’s your turn. Are we “soul mates,” or what?
Brooklyn-based writer Amanda May has written for Redbook and other publications.

06 April 2008

Shades of Gray

My daughter, Jack, came up to me yesterday. Seems they were doing a section on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln and slavery in America. I, however, was mopping the kitchen floor, like all other menial tasks allotted to the female of the species… because we have boobs; I guess they keep us balanced from the weight of the broom/mop/dust rag… but I’m off topic.

“Mom, are we North or South?”

(clueless Mom)

“West, baby girl.”

“No, I mean. Are we on the side of the North or the South?”

I put down my mop and looked at the paper she held.

“OH! Um… Neither, babe, most of our ancestors were in Europe during that time… except, of course, our great-great something-or-other, Chief Red Eagle, who was in the West at the time.”

She looked at me as if I had said we were living on Venus.

“But were we on the side of the North or South? Do we believe in slavery? Were we racists?”

“Uh… Well, slavery is not a good thing, but it’s not a racial thing. It’s a human rights issue. Not all slave owners were white, and not all slaves were black.”

She looked at me like a fish in the headlights, and not for the first time I wondered what the history books aren’t teaching our children. Or how political correctness is re-writing history…

“Sweetie,” I said, “People were brought over here from all over the world, from all walks of life to work on the plantations, the railroad, the infrastructure… some were made to make dental impressions in clay to bind them into servitude. They called them ‘indentured slaves’ and once they came to North America, they found they were unable to work off their indebtedness, just like others who were sent here from their own counties; sold by their own people into slavery…”

I saw her blank eyes looking back at me…

“But were we on the side of the North or South?” She asked again.

And, seemingly that’s what they’re teaching our children – the “black” and “white” of it – so, like any good parent in this situation, I said:

“West. Get over it.” Then, I picked up my mop and continued mopping the grime from the floor and realized the only slaves left in America all have boobs and are all named “Mom” by their owners.

pass the popcorn, please!