Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, no matter where you are or what you have planned today.  I hope your day is fulfilling and contains all the sweetness life has to offer.  I have been more than busy, but who isn't?  There is still time to enjoy moments with friends and family, and always, there is always, without a doubt, ALWAYS, room for dessert!

Here's some virtual pie for you this holiday season.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A New Smile for RJ

This is a shameless plug for my friend, RJ. Here is the email that his better half, my friend, Tigger, posted this morning:

"As some of you may or may not know RJ was kicked by a horse back when he was 18. 1 month after getting his braces off. It destroyed his mouth and the doctors and dentist were not the best when trying to get his mouth put back together.

Anyway, 1-800 dentist is doing a contest, $30,000 for dental work for the most voted video. This is where I need YOUR help. Please go on line and vote for RJ's video. you can vote once a day until Dec 1st.

Here is the link
http://www.1800dentist.com/my-smile-bites/robert-p-glendale-ca-dentist-fall09

Thanks"

Please vote for RJ so he can feel confident about his smile again! :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goldenrod

Excuse me, please, for not blogging much lately, but I have a good reason, or at least, a few of them.  I started another new book, one others will read in the future, not one already published.  Yeah, I have a new child.  Her name is Goldenrod and she is 6,300 words old.  She's taking those first non-expositional steps and I feel I can trust her not to fall down the staircase without watching her every second.  I'm still revising Seneca, and preparing for class in a couple weeks, along with the day job, the child, the animals, turning 40, and taking care of various stages of crisis in my life.

For instance, I opened the door to the house last night after braving the icy wind to receive my FACULTY ID from the community college (woohoo!) and I immediately turned to my son and accused him of spilling sour cream on the carpet without telling me or cleaning it up.  Yeah, it smelled that bad.  Turns out, broccoli needs to be taken to the garbage OUTSIDE and not left inside overnight when it doesn't steam and stays a frozen lump in the vegetable steamer and no one eats it.  My son wasn't planning to eat it, anyway.  So I didn't eat it, he didn't eat it, and the cats pretty much steered clear of the trash can.

And if the smell of rotting broccoli in a closed-up house won't pull you out of a creative haze, nothing will.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Something to Say and Editor's Day

Hi, my name is Anna, and I am in my thirties.  A coworker reminded me that I only have today and tomorrow remaining to say that, so I am saying it in abundance.  I am in my thirties!  I am, I still am!

I decided only to blog if I had something to say, and I think the above qualifies, don't you?

Also, Editor's Day this weekend was awesome and fantastic and other fun, exclamatory words, and I am so glad I was able to hobble around and make my way there!

Among those I had the pleasure of seeing were my past instructor and mentor, A. LaFaye, and her daughter, Adia.




I also was ecstatic to see Nancy O'Connor again, who completed the MFA program with me at Spalding University in Louisville, KY.  Here is Nancy on the right, and me on the left.




I met a ton of new people, and listened to some great speakers, and learned a lot.  I also was very pleased with my manuscript critique, and am revising the first three chapters of Seneca to submit officially to the esteemed person who performed the critique.  I am stoked, and life is good, but busy.

I'm glad I actually had something to say, and will try to think of more things to blog in the near future.  I hope life is great for everyone reading this!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Life vs. Blogging

That silly little thing called life keeps getting in my way of the truly important things, such as blogging.  Today at lunch, I plan to catch up on as many of your blogs as possible, because frankly, I am in withdrawals.  Even coffee and Nutty Bars can't console me.  I must satisfy my blog addiction with blogs, and only with blogs.

It's like trying to quit smoking by sucking lollipops.  It doesn't work.  Believe me, I've been there.  I quit, but not that way.  I digress.  I have a review to write, and if I would stop leaving the book to review at my house, it would be posted already.  Don't give up on me yet.  I'm still here.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this little gem:





This is where I go to create word searches and crossword puzzles for people when they have a birthday coming up.  Maybe I'll make one for myself, since it's that birthday time of year again creeping up on me soon!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Constant Characterization

Sometimes, when I watch a movie, or read a book, one thing will stand out to me and grab my attention.  This time, it was a movie again.  I'll Believe You is one of those movies that Netflix has decided to grant streaming priveleges to for a while.  Catch it while you can!  I did, twice.
What really hit me about this was the characterization.  Each character is distinct and constantly acting as only they would, complete with quirks, linguistic differences, and unique dialogue.
Basically, the story is about a late night talk radio host who is fighting to keep his show on the air.  His show, is called "Hey, I'll Believe You," and features Big Foot sightings, the Loch Ness Monster, and discussions regarding UFO's.  A first time caller sparks a commotion in his small community, and a mystery begins to unravel.
In the meantime, the viewer is introduced to an eclectic cast that is true to character throughout.  The station manager is self-absorbed and selfish, and shows this by stealing food from the company fridge right in front of his employee, after asking if those intials were his and learning that they were not.  One character is obsessed with hoses, and creates nozzles that shoot rubber ducks out of his swimming pool.  Another is a high school science teacher who can create fire with her saliva.  And yet another is a police officer who uses his radar gun to time the speed of a mosquito.  Each quirk says something about the characters that expository dialogue would have only mangled.  I won't even tell you about the Chris Elliott character.  You'll have to watch to see.
I was so impressed with the whole "show, don't tell" philosophy put into action throughout the movie that I watched it again.  I will probably watch it another time, or even more, because every time I see it, I notice something that I missed.
This is some of the richest writing I've seen on the screen in a very long time, and I'm impressed.  Definitely not your lowest common denominator blockbuster, and probably won't win any awards, but maybe it should.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sent from my PDA as kind of an experiment

*Note:  Apparently, when blogging from my PDA, I can submit blogs without titles!  LOL  And here are the shoes.  :-)  What a great day!!!  I don't know how to save the spacing, though, so let's just consider this an experiment that is, shall we say, a tad avant garde?

I slept blissfully through the night and slipped on my brand new real
people shoes which are pink and grant wishes. The shoe genie granted
me the wish of a n afternoon spent enjoying balmy breezes, fresh baked
goods, and jazzy Beatles songs played on keyboard under a tree in the
park. All concerns regarding my medical stuation are gone with the
wind, and aside from a brief brush with unpleasantness early on, the
day has turned out to be exquisite.

Thank you, Shoe Genie!

I wish I could attach a picture of my shoes here but I am blogging
grom my pda. Much awesommeness just in that!!! Anyway, I uploaded
the pic to fb if you are my friend there. I will upload it here
later. Right now, I am going to continue walking and allowing the
breeze to massage my scalp while I listen to music and breathe deep.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

To Walk or Not to Walk

I haven't been blogging lately, sorry, but I had plenty of time at two separate doctor's visits yesterday, and the auto shop the day before, to observe humanity, to read, and to curl inside myself and hide while my foot was poked and prodded and pulled.

Unfortunately, there is an issue with the lack of authorization for physical therapy, and my ankle is not where it should be on the healing scale. I think it is fair to use the word depressed to describe my total state of being ever since, oh, even before the surgery, but this week, it blasted in super force. So I wasn't ready to face the blogging world, or the other world (there's some overlap, but not much), and I hibernated for a while. And now I have been forced to take action I didn't want to take in order to try to obtain physical therapy, and to resolve some other issues with the medical "care" I've been "receiving." So that upsets me, along with everything else that complicates my life that is amplified because I'm upset about the health situation.

It breaks my heart (literally, because my blood pressure is through the roof and I suffered palpitations into the early morning hours today) just knowing that I could have been spared from pain and swelling if only the physical therapy had been approved, and no one, NO ONE, cared enough to authorize the referral for that OR for the daily pain in the other ankle, even after the second time I requested both, in writing.

They sent me a form letter, called me by someone else's last name, and wrote me off. I guess I'm expensive, but I'm worth it. I have to believe that or I would just crawl right back in bed this minute. I might do that anyway.

The good news is that at least I can wean myself out of the walking boot a few hours at a time in the next six weeks. I need to find new shoes for work, because I can't wear the tennis shoe on the other foot anymore. There is hope for my mood, though, because a friend of mine at work sent me a couple CD's of hand-picked better-than-coffee music to assist in the healing process.  Also, everyone knows what cheers women the most: shopping.

Want to go shopping with me?

I like these because they have built in arch supports and can go with either pants or skirts:


I also like these:

Hooray for human shoes!

Of course, I'll never wear heels again, but those aren't comfortable, anyway. I'm just glad I can walk.

Maybe someday...someday...I will be able to dance to the music playing on my speakers. But today, I will be happy knowing I can walk across the room and turn it on myself. A month ago, I couldn't even do that.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fail Cake


Or should it be Cake Fail?  Either way, it's a disaster.  Delicious, but still in ruins.  Kind of like life sometimes, when it is crumbling apart around you, but still holding on to surprise goodness when you least expect it.

I offered to bake a cake for my son's friend's birthday.  He wanted chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, and Pikachu on top of it.  No problem.  I bought the Pikachu toy to put on top of the cake, and didn't even consider making one out of marshmallow fondant.  Well, only for a minute.  Then I bought the toy instead.  I didn't want to spend hours rolling and dying fondant only to end up with a mutilated Pokemon that no one would recognize.  I wanted everyone to know it was Pikachu, and for me to focus on the cake instead.

I used to bake cakes all the time, and decorate them, too.  I can do this, I thought.  Okay, so it's been a few years, and I knew I would need to dig around in the kitchen and possibly the garage for all my baking paraphernalia, but it sounded like fun.  A creative outlet, something nice for someone I care about, and the potential for several forks full of yum.  Win-win-win!

That's not quite how it happened.  Friday night, I dredged up so much baking stuff that it made me want to concoct yummies for a week, in all different shapes, sizes, and flavors.  I had forgotten how much kitchen stuff I have!  I haven't used it in years.  So I washed the pans, set out the non-perishable ingredients, and dismissed the thought that I should bake the layers of chocolate fudge cake the night before and freeze them overnight.  I was too tired, and my feet hurt.

So I woke up early Saturday morning, eager to begin the baking experience.  All went well.  The cakes were in the oven, the homemade fluffy chocolate frosting was licked off a spoon by myself and my son, and the fudge filling sat in a bowl, ready to become the cake's luscious secret.

When the kitchen timer went off, my son ran down the hall and alerted me, and then stood next to me as I took the cakes out of the oven and we both almost fainted from chocolate fume overload.  Life was smelling pretty good.

I placed the cakes gingerly on the racks to cool, and waited over an hour.  That should be enough time, right?  They didn't feel warm anymore.  I forgot that I wasn't exactly dealing with pound cake, and that the consistency of the cakes was, well, chocolate fudge, as in, very moist.  And crumbly.  This is exactly the reason why you are supposed to freeze the layers before attempting to assemble the cake.

Upon transfer to the cake base for frosting and carrying purposes, the bottom layer broke in half.  No problem, I thought, after batting back tears.  I can fix this.  The fudge filling served as a glue to keep the two jagged pieces together.  Problem solved!  I was on top of the world, or at least, this cake.

Next, the perfect, whole, top layer.  Careful, careful, almost there, and BAM!  Top layer in a million pieces, crumbs everywhere, sitting on top of the fudge filling.  I held it on with both (clean) hands, and tried to squeeze, pinch, and rearrange it so that it was still circular.  That didn't work.  I then attempted to smush it into the fudge filling and hold it still while wielding a rubber spatula with the other hand and pressing my precious homemade frosting firmly against the sides of the cake.  That just causes mush in the other direction.  So I put more frosting on the other side of the cake.  And on top.  And then all over the counter, when it fell.

I knew I couldn't present this cake at the celebration today.  I knew I couldn't present this cake to any discerning human being.  If it wasn't chocolate, I would have given it to the dogs.  I was shocked when my son asked for a slice.  I explained that the only way I could serve it was by scooping it onto a tilted plate and mopping up what landed on the counter.  He was fine with that.

He said it was the best cake he has ever eaten.  It's just ugly.

I guess that kind of sums up my baking experience for now.  I won't be creating anything in the kitchen again anytime soon.  I can't handle this kind of disappointment on a constant basis.

I guess it kind of summarizes life, though.  Just when you think all is going well, bam, a cake falls on you.  Sometimes it's chocolate, and sometimes it's mud, and the only way you can tell is to taste it.  I'm glad this one at least tasted good.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Storm

A storm passed through on my drive to my house after work last night.  It was magnificent, powerful and sudden, like a stallion galloping through the sky.  And then, just as suddenly, it was gone, and all we had left was the faint scent of moisture in the ground before the desert sun evaporated it.

Sometimes I feel like creative energy is much the same.  Right now, I can only smell a hint of it in the air.  But it will return.  Soon, I hope.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Visuals

Here are the visuals from yesterday's awards post:

Thanks again, ladies, and enjoy passing these along to other bloggers.
Sorry I don't have much more to say today, but I'm really tired. The dogs kept me up all night again, and the smoke in the air makes breathing a chore. I also tried to walk too much yesterday, and my ankles are complaining. Enough whining from me. Enjoy your day, and I'll try to think of something coherent for tomorrow's blog post.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Awards? Wow, thanks!

First of all, thank you to Lazy Writer for the Splish Splash Award for those who have dazzling blogs. Also thanks to Fiction Groupie for the Super Comments Award. I need to pass the Splish Splash award on to other bloggers now, who also blink like diamonds in the sea of bloggerdom. I am still fairly new to Blogger, having been a myspace blogger for far too long, and so I am touched that you guys would include me in your bloggy embrace. I don't have an image for the Splish Splash award, but I further extend it to:

Some Blogs I Frequent Daily, and Have for a While:

1. Stephanie Faris of Stephanie's Blog (she also receives the Super Comments Award)
2. Fiction Groupie

Some Blogs I Recently Discovered:

3. Natalie Whipple of Between Fact and Fiction
4. Angie Lofthouse of Notes from the Writing Chair
5. Jaime Theler of BookMom Musings

Thank you, ladies, for dazzling me with your thought-provoking and entertaining blogs.

I can't just write about awards, though. There needs to be some meat in my post, and not just sugar. Not that sugar isn't the most important food group. Just that sometimes you need a nice and spicy chicken taco with just the right amount of cilantro and monterey jack cheese. Oh, forget it, now I'm hungry. Must. Finish. Lunch.

Oh oh oh! I know! Food-related, but then what isn't, in my world? Last night, I tried Shabu Shabu for the first time! I'm in food heaven! Yum yum yum! What's the newest food trend you've tried lately, and did you like it? I should mention that I was a vegetarian for eight years, and eating meat is a reallllly big deal for me, especially red meat. So that speaks volumes for the Shabu Shabu experience all by itself.



Friday, August 28, 2009

Have a Fun Weekend!

ImageChef Word Mosaic - ImageChef.com

In Media Res

You know how we, as writers, are supposed to always begin our stories with the main character's moment of change, otherwise known as throwing the reader into the tale en media res? I found a glowing example of this in a movie I watched last weekend, and I thought I would share its brilliance and simplicity. Since I like to have backstory clearly defined in my mind, and usually need to be reminded not to slam it on the reader, but rather to feather it in gradually, I found this helpful.

One of the opening scenes in Careless depicts the main character, Wiley Roth, returning to his apartment alone after working at a drab job in a bookstore. He goes to the kitchen, and a microwave sits on top of the freezer. He opens the freezer, and it is filled with Banquet frozen meals, minus room for five or six boxes. He opens the cardboard expertly, pokes holes in the plastic with a fork kept on top of the microwave just for that purpose, and sets the timer. Next shot, we see him reading a book on his couch, mindlessly forking the heated meal into his mouth.
Now we know that this character lives alone, doesn't cook, can't afford or doesn't choose to buy the more expensive frozen meals, and that his life follows the same pattern and routine every day. Except, of course, for today, the moment of change, when he finds a severed finger on his kitchen floor after his meal. Where does he put it? The freezer. And we are already familiar with the contents of the freezer.

The finger stands out among the frozen meals, and voila, his life is changed forever.

Now if only everything I write could work out that well. What do you do to make sure your backstory doesn't interfere with your beginning, the moment of change?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Health Not

I was filling out an emergency information form at work today, and one of the questions was the name of my medical insurance carrier. Instead of writing “Health Net,” I wrote “Health Not.” I did not mean to say that, but there you go, the truth slipped out.

Yesterday, I wrote a scathing letter to my primary care physician with a cc to Health Net Member Services regarding the lack of referrals for physical therapy on the ankle where surgery was performed and for treatment for the ankle that still needs surgery.

It occurs to me that I would never be allowed to display such utter incompetence and a total lack of compassion and honesty in my workplace, nor would I ever desire to do so.

Since the doctor’s office does not offer a fax number or an email address for patient usage, I sent the letter via Fed Ex, and they should receive it today. Either I will obtain my referrals, or I will use my PPO portion again to aggressively seek “care.”

Health Not. Yeah, that’s about right. Sorry if I seem a little bitter, but I never knew how the primary care physicians seem to exist in order to prevent care instead of provide it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Brains Devoured

Zombies ate my brain. I was in a meeting all day today, and not one of those fun ones where people talk about books and writing, but one where they ask me questions relating to database restructure. Hopefully, my grey matter will regenerate overnight. ~hits pillow facedown~


Zombie Letters from e-zombie.com

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Editor's Day at the Santa Ana Zoo

I am so excited that I am recovered enough from surgery to attend this year's Editor's Day at the Santa Ana Zoo in October, hosted by SCBWI! Last year, I could barely walk. Now I can still barely walk, only with the boot and the crutches, but it's a better situation, and I think I can make it through a full day of walking around by that time.

I heart SCBWI events. It almost killed me not to attend the big conference in LA. I mean, it was just down the street! Or freeway. Whatever--it was close, and I didn't go. I was there in spirit, though.

So now I get to go in October and I'm giddy! Why? Because! That's why! So there! Oh, you want real reasons? Okay!

1. OC SCBWI puts on great events. The speakers and the editors who are attending this event are top-notch, and every word they say should be memorized and applied to my writing. The digital recorder gets new batteries for this day, for sure!

2. One of the speakers, A. LaFaye, is not only one of the best children's writers ever published, but was my instructor at Cal State for four years, and the person single-handedly responsible for my MFA. Okay, I did the work, but she told me about Spalding, encouraged me to apply, and wrote a letter to help me be accepted. I think that's a lot, don't you? She was always patient and supportive and knowledgeable, and without her I would not have come so far with my education. She made learning fun, and helped me to realize that not only could I become a better writer, but that I already was one. I owe her much, and hope that someday I can be as positive and influential an instructor for others like myself.

3. A couple other Spalding alumni will be there, too, possibly, so that makes it even better! I get to see Nancy! And possibly Christine! Yay!!! And I get to network with new people from SCBWI, who are always so positive and helpful. Really, it's a great crowd.

4. It's a week before my birthday, so it's my present to myself.

5. It's at the zoo, and we all know I'm an amateur zookeeper, so it will be nice to see animals that OTHER people care for, instead of me!

Speaking of animals, my son is awake now. I'm going to hunt down Harry Potter showtimes and see if I can convince him to shower and get dressed before Noon on a Saturday.

If you are in the So Cal area, I strongly encourage you to attend this event! You can join SCBWI and receive a discount on registration, and the membership alone will be worth your money, even if you don't attend. As a matter of fact, if you are a children's writer, I think it's the law that you join. Or, at least, it should be!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Be Careful What You Ask For

I wanted a dream that I could use to start a story, or just for a story idea. I didn't count on an epic dream involving mysterious characters in the snow and possible zombies. The anti-hero is almost too dark. He scares me, but not the heroine, who is better than me, and is gutsy and clever, and she will persevere. And zombies? Hey, that's nothing! It will be a fun story to complete.

I guess I should pay more attention to what I think about before going to sleep. I was discussing eating somebody's brains as opposed to their heart. You know, that classic question of, "If you were a zombie, what body part would you prefer to eat?" We've all asked ourselves that once or twice. Right? Right?

So I have another YA metaphysical thriller begun in a Word document on my desktop. If I have to dream, I might as well get some use out of it all!

Actually, the reason I'm dreaming is because I'm not writing enough. If I didn't dream so vividly, the creative energy would explode in a sticky rainbow of goo all over my desk. I guess zombies are better than that. They will save me from the goo, because now I will be writing more than before.

If you were a zombie, what body part would you prefer to eat?

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Keep on Blogging

As a follow-up to yesterday’s entry, the dreams from this morning were not as conducive to fiction as the one from yesterday.  All I could remember from the time before the dogs woke me up at 1:22 a.m. was thinking that a giant, juicy spider was lodged between my little toe and the one next to it, and was biting me repeatedly.  Then, two and a half hours later, when I finally went back to sleep, I dreamed that someone was sitting next to me and biting my ear.  When I pushed them off of me in my dream, I woke up to a perturbed cat who wanted breakfast.  Another day in the life of an amateur zookeeper begins.  That reminds me, I really need to make arrangements to get the lizards back from my friend’s house in the mountains.

 

I’ve been reading a bunch of new blogs lately, and commented on a couple, but will comment more when I’m not at the day job.  Breaks and lunches only last so long and sometimes I actually do eat during my lunch break, too.  Chew, comment, swallow, that’s how you do it, right?  It’s nice to see so many different perspectives out there.  You’re worth the time in my busy life.  I love feeling connected to other writers.

 

Writing is such a paradox.  Writing is lonely, because we sit and pound out the words, shunning showers and balanced meals, and we can forget that other humans exist.  Yet, we also must network and expand our horizons to understand the full gamut of human emotion and experience, so we know many people, and we live and love, and are tons more social than the average bear.  But never both at one time.

 

I guess blogging is the middle ground.  Writing, yet connecting.  That’s what makes it special to me.  What keeps you blogging?

 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Putting a Gag on the Inner Critic

Me, sitting down to type, mulling through piles of ideas in my head.

Inner Critic: You can't write that!

Me: Why not?

Inner Critic: It's not literary enough! It's too personal! It's too deep! It's too shallow! It's not funny! It's raunchy! It's not for kids! It's not even for adults, that one, really, you should just ctrl-a and hit delete, for the good of mankind, go ahead, do it now, I'm waiting. You know, there's always the fireplace. Remember when we burned those books of poetry you wrote in 1985? That was a nice, warm night. We could do that again. S'mores sound good right about now. Hey, got any popcorn? We could watch a movie. Something that someone wrote that other people enjoyed and has passed the test of time and numerous audiences. Or you could just find a formula and follow that or, I know! Write an outline. Write several outlines. That way you don't have to fill in the blanks.

And then we could eat chocolate!

Me: Gets old sock, and menacingly approaches Inner Critic.

Inner Critic: What are you doing? Anna? Anna?

Me: Smiles.

Inner Critic: Shrieks in terror,then shuts up.

Me: Sighs in relief.

Inner Critic: Mumbles unintelligibly from the corner.

Me: Starts typing the first thing that comes to my head, no matter what it is, for the sake of opening up the door to every single opportunity, creatively, that comes along.

_______________

The moral of the story is: just freaking type. You'll get some good gems out of it. Others you may not wish to keep. What you think others will like, you may not end up liking.

Write what you would like to read, or to see on TV or in a movie.

Write what makes your kid laugh. Just to see him smile and hear him laugh. Isn't that enough of a reward?

Someday, other kids may laugh, also. And if they don't, well, at least he did.

Just don't let your inner critic make a pincushion out of you and paralyze your fingers, like mine did.

She looks good in the sock. I think she'll wear it for a while. It suits her.

________________

Inner Critic: (mumbling) I'll get you! And your little dog, too!

Me: You can have the dog. But that's another story.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

I'm feeling the crunch of the economy. Right between my teeth. Personally, I prefer creamy, but my son insisted on using up the extra crunchy first for our sandwiches today. He is on a field trip to a nearby lake with his summer day camp class, and needed to brown bag it today. I thought that since I was making his lunch, I would have the same lunch, and it would be ALMOST like having lunch togther. Nauseating, I know, but no matter how much he resents helping me around the house, or with anything at all, because of my leg, I still miss him. So, kid, cheers, because this bite of PB&J is for you. I'll be digging it out for hours.

And now the song is stuck in my head, too.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Night of the Living Crutch

I haven't been as available to the blogosphere as usual lately, and that trend shows signs of continuing indefinitely, so I apologize to any fellow bloggers who may feel slighted by the absence of my comments. I shall attempt to make it up to you in bits and chunks, as time will allow. And thank you for permission to ramble.

And now for some random anecdotes in no particular order:

1) Halfway to the doctor's office, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my brain, I mean, my crutches. Chivalry being alive and well in my world, my son offered to be my "living crutch." When the doctor arrived to the exam room, he asked where my crutches were. My son piped up, "It's Night of the Living Crutch," and even though it was daytime, we all enjoyed a nice laugh because he thought of that all on his own!

2) If you order the Volcano Box from Taco Bell, get a big drink, and situate yourself close to the water for refills. It tastes good, though.

3) No, I haven't done any writing lately. Or reading. Or blogging. My mind has completely surrendered to Robot Chicken. Thank you, Seth Green!

4) If you sent me a children's book to review, I ransomed two of them from the post office yesterday. They traveled as far as the kitchen table, and await my attention. I have to admit, I'm excited to write my first reviews. Please look for them soon!

5) I received an absolutely lovely postcard from Russia in the heap of paperwork the post office finally allowed me to touch and keep for myself. You'd think I was a ... nevermind, that's like shouting fire. I had to show them the boot and the crutches were real before they would believe it was really me, and they wouldn't even help me carry it all to the car. Anyway, thanks to Kit, I now must locate and appropriate some Russian finery such as crown jewels and wear them to an author's interview. Can't wait, want them now!

So, what duties have you been shirking lately in order to eat fast food and watch Adult Swim, I wonder? Or if not Taco Bell and time lapse photography action figures, what are the sins that allow procrastination on your end?

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Movies Based on Books from My Childhood

Kid: Mom, there are lots of movies about books when you were young that are...well, they're GOOD!

Me: Yes, movies sometimes start that way, you know.

Kid: How?

Me: As books!

I know, it's hard to imagine. And I do think I have a glisten or two of youth left in my frail bones.

Today we watched The Phantom Tollbooth, starring Butch Patrick, produced in 1969. I explained to my offspring that this was what the world was like the year I was born. Not cartoonish and containing magical tollbooths or dogs with watches growing out of their sides, but rather with telephones with cords, and avocado green floral-inspired wallpaper that will seem to suck you in to a cartoonish netherworld if you stare long enough.

After the movie, we talked about enjoying the life you have and not being bored and lazy for no reason at all. We chatted about how Milo learned to appreciate all the wonders of the world around him, and how maybe the world my kid lives in isn't so bad, either. We agreed that it was ironic that Milo, the great time-waster, ended up becoming best friends with time itself.

Then he wanted to see another movie inspired by a book from my youth, which is apparently over, gone forever, blown away as dust in the breeze.

I remembered mentioning at a previous residency for grad school this great children's book I read as a child about two kids who hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and how I found that adventurous and brave and daring when I read it, but I couldn't remember the name. At the time, the other students insisted this book was called From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I thought they were incorrect. I remembered a much shorter title. But then again, by any name, it was a good read. So I looked it up on Netflix, and I found it on Play it Now. We watched that one, too, which inspired the quote from my son above.

They were right, and I was wrong. Then I imdb'd it, and voila! It wasn't always called by that long, yet unforgettable, title. The book was, yes, so I don't know why I couldn't remember that. But the movie was originally called The Hideaways. I knew it was something different. Now I have seen the Lauren Bacall version, and I want to see the Ingrid Bergman version. I wonder if that's on Netflix Play it Now, also? I love Netflix. Have I mentioned how I love Netflix? I have Youtube to thank for the first movie, though. I hope I don't get anyone in trouble by mentioning that. What impressed me the most was that there are also available on Youtube videos of a guy reading The Phantom Tollbooth, chapter by chapter. From a book. Even though there is a movie available.

Now, if you will excuse me, I do wish to finish the book myself, even though I have already seen the (not true to the book) movie. I explained that to my son, also, and he just shrugged, and said, "They did the best they could."

I thought he was going to be an engineer or an artist when he grows up, but now I know otherwise. He will be a screenwriter, because that is where his sympathy lies.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Tribute to The Phantom Tollbooth



I decided to re-read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I don't remember a lot of it, so I'm re-discovering as I go along.

Do you remember Milo and Tock? Milo is "every boy," or "every child," and he is consumed with boredom and laziness. Ennui rules his every breath. (I just like that word. Say it with me: ennui. Don't you feel sophisticated?) Tock is a Watchdog. Literally. A watch and a dog. But he goes "tick" instead of "tock." Milo assembled the Phantom Tollbooth from a mysterious box in his bedroom and drove into the Lands Beyond, starting with Expectations, where all you can do is wonder. Just ask the Whether Man! Milo's travels then expand to the Doldrums, where he arrived by letting his mind wander and by "not thinking at all."

For procrastinators everywhere, I present a quote from Milo's visit to the Doldrums.

"As you can see, that leaves almost no time for brooding, lagging, plodding, or procrastinating, and if we stopped to think or laugh, we'd never get nothing done."

"You mean you'd never get anything done," corrected Milo.

"We don't want to get anything done," snapped another angrily; "we want to get nothing done, and we can do that without your help."


Yay! Oh, me, me! I can do that, too!

Aside from the 1961 writing style (annoying dialogue tags and an unnecessary adverb), I quite enjoy this so far.

Sometimes, when writing, I feel like scratching my head in confusion, as Milo does here at the entrance to Dictionopolis.

"I never knew words could be so confusing," Milo said to Tock as he bent down to scratch the dog's ear.

"Only when you use a lot to say a little," answered Tock.


Oh, I would never do that. Never. No writer would ever do a thing like that. Not even if they have a word or page count deadline looming the next day and they needed to pad a few pages with dialogue about sipping tea. Never I would use extraneous or superfluous language to fill a page. Unnecessary, nonsensical, additional, avoidable, repetetive, random, redundant, exorbitant, and/or haphazard dashes of linguistic irrelevance are not in my writer's toolbag.

Not me.

While in the market at Dictionopolis, Milo and Tock run into the Spelling Bee and the Humbug, who disagree and cause a mess. Or maybe Milo causes the mess, because he is blamed for it.

The Humbug throws out this little gem to the Spelling Bee:

"A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect," roared the Humbug, waving his cane furiously.

I'm just going to ignore the dialogue tag and the unnecessary adverb. But really, I spell things correctly 99.99999999% of the time. I believe my intellect functions adequately, possibly more than adequately, depending upon many factors, including sleep, and pain levels. This statement from the Bug to the Bee seems to me to be similar to the old adage, "Those who can't write, edit." I have done both, and both are challenging positions. And believe me, without a writer, there's nothing to edit, so both sides should just quiet down.

Speaking of arguments, when Milo and Tock find themselves sentenced to prison for six million years for making the mess, they meet a Which. Not a witch, but a Which. Her name is Faintly Macabre, and her job in the past was to pick which words for used for what purposes. She was jailed because she became stingy and decided to keep the good words for herself. They eat them, you see, and most are quite tasty, juicy, and sweet. Now the only things Faintly is allowed to eat are sugar-coated punctuation marks, such as commas and exclamation points.

The best bit of advice the Which passes on so far is this:

"An ill-chosen word is the fool's messenger."

A bit of writerly wisdom, indeed. Of course, this proverb was intended to make the people of Dictionopolis stop using so many words so the Which could eat them all.

Here's my bit of wisdom to all writers everywhere today: Don't let the Which eat your words. Type them as fast as you can! You can always edit later. Don't keep the words inside, even when you visit the Doldrums. As Tock said to Milo, "It's bad enough wasting time without killing it."

And as Milo recognized when he escaped the Doldrums by starting to think again about anything, anything at all, "how much could be accomplished with just a little thought."

For instance, I didn't think I had anything to say in a blog this afternoon. Hm. And I've only read through chapter five so far!

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Monday, August 3, 2009

FrankenAnkle Strikes Again

Just call me FrankenAnkle. Go ahead, it's got a good ring. It sounds better than FrankenFoot, although there is technically nothing wrong with that name, either. It's slightly less exciting than the WereVampire, which is a character in a book my son and I thought of together and is more or less written in our heads. You see, a werewolf was bitten by a vampire, and, well, that's pretty much the story. He rampages through town, the mob chases him out with burning torches and spiky-sharp pitchforks, and even the children put their DS's in their pockets to participate in the madness and mayhem.

But it's not Halloweeen, you say? You're right. It is only Halloween in my sock. Underneath the silver glitter and purple argyle lie the hideous scars that only a mad scientist could love. Even with my clever disguise, the pain reminds me of their presence. So it's no use to hide them or pretend they do not exist.

The good news is that someday they won't hurt at all anymore, and instead of looking as if I am a rag doll pieced together by somebody's well-meaning blind grandmother in the dark, I will appear as if moonbeams have kissed my skin and gentle fairies have blessed my foot with the power to walk again.

In the meantime, I guess I'm free to fiendishly roam the streets at night, wearing my Borg Boot of Doom, stealthfully clanking along with my crutches, searching for victims to die of fright when I slowly peel away my sock and expose ... nah, I wouldn't do that to YOU! No pictures today.

Coming soon, to a bookstore near you:

FrankenAnkle Takes a Shower

FrankenAnkle Drives a Car

FrankenAnkle Sleeps Through the Night

FrankenAnkle Goes Back to Work


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Monday, July 27, 2009

What I Should Be Doing Today vs. What I Actually Have Done Today

Things to do today:

Contact pharmacy. List stuff on ebay to sell. Bake a cake using the ancient frozen strawberries that are taking up room in the freezer. Apply for more adjunct positions at online colleges. Write out "what each character wants" for one of my WIP's. Do character mapping for same WIP. Return a phone call. Stay awake. Write a blog. Design a t-shirt. Redo my web pages. Redo my son's web pages. Upload photos from this weekend. Make a list of things to ask the doctor. Try not to think about having to go back to the J-O-B. Call to see if the air conditioning is fixed. Pay for said air conditioning to be fixed.

What I actually have done:

Contacted the pharmacy. Thought about t-shirt design. Wrote quasi-blog. Answered e-mail. Poked around on Facebook. Memorized entire Threadless catalog. Stopped by Cakewrecks. Discovered that I discarded the baking powder, so it's either a sponge cake, or a coffee cake or muffins made out of pancake mix, or no cake. Wished for more cream cheese to top with salsa. Sat on couch. Took bath. Got dressed. Brushed teeth. Wondered if son has a jacket because it's overcast. Talked to Angel for a few minutes and filled him in on witty t-shirt slogans at Threadless. Tried to stay awake. Made plans to use zuchini and onion for dinner. Defrosting sausage.

Favorite t-shirt slogan of the day: "Procrastinators: Leaders of Tomorrow."

What I plan to do right now:

Turn on Netflix and close my eyes. Just for a few moments. The day is still half full.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

This boot was made to walk all over you.

It was a mistake to think I could accomplish anything practical during recovery. I am forced to believe, finally, that the body really does need the time off just to rest. My plans for getting some writing done flew out the window. My brain is made of mush. The consistency of the mush changes throughout the day. Right now, it is firm enough to allow me to type. About three or four o'clock this afternoon, it will shut down and become gruel-like in texture. It will dribble into a senseless heap inside my skull. At this point, all I can do is close my eyes and wait for it to form into a gelatinous mass wiggly enough for me to knee walk all the way to the bathroom.

This frightens me, because I am supposedly less than a week from returning to work. All that means is that I will be able to drive again, and sort of walk. I do not know how I will find the energy to get dressed in the morning, let alone drive the 40 minutes to work, and then work 8 hours, then drive another 40 minutes back, then clean the house, take care of the animals, do homework with my son, feed my son, and maybe do some grocery shopping, etc.

Of course, I will still be in a cast, but it will be a different type of cast that will allow me to stomp around like a giant borg. I will have to continue to wear clothes that are no longer than just below the knee. Or maybe long skirts, but that will appear funky. Let me draw you a picture from the top down: nice hair and make up, delicate jewelry, graceful top, long, flowing skirt, BIG, CLUNKY BOOT on one leg, and brace and tennis shoe on the other leg. The boot will look similar to this:



I hope I can take it off to shower and sleep, but I doubt it. I miss showers.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Let's Hear it for the Boy!



Since my kid will be with his father on his actual birthday and for a few days afer that, we plan to take him out and force him to have loads of fun TODAY! He will be eleven soon, but some days it seems like he will be 24 much sooner. He has been such a helper since my surgery. He has learned responsibility and cleanliness and many lessons in patience. He now knows how to sweep, clean the toilet, make instant coffee, do the laundry, and watch and listen for the screams of falling women. He can and will fetch ice for the injured, even if he is in the middle of a video game. Most importantly, he has figured out all by himself how to look at a crying woman who cannot walk or sometimes even think, and take her hand and tell her she is the prettiest, nicest, smartest, most wonderful person ever born, and sound like he means it.

For all of these new lessons, he will be rewarded, and not just by being able to take them into his life and learn how to care for himself (he's already awesome in the kitchen). No, not just that. More immediately he will be rewarded with LASER QUEST!!! And PIZZA!!! Starting...NOW!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

A Day at the Fair



Unfortunately, this is the best of the three pictures taken of me at the OC Fair yesterday afternoon. The other 124 pictures are of the boys having a tremendously good time in the carnival section. That is the only section we visited. We didn't get to see Al's Brain, even though we are big Weird Al fans. And yes, I am in a wheelchair in public here for the first time. There is no way I could have lasted all those hours on the knee walker. Katie pushed me around like a saint all day, even though two capable boys were with us.

They were a little busy doing little boy things, like this:



They both won hammers, and Max won a banana, but AJ won a blue monkey and a green frog, too. Basketball and water gun, woohoo! I got to carry those around on my lap, and it was fun. AJ ended up giving Savannah the frog after dinner. But Blile the Monkey, named for his blue smile, was kept for AJ himself, and hasn't left his side since he fell asleep last night.




Even though I was pushed around in a wheelchair, I'm still tired. You wouldn't think this would constitute as exercise, but there was that one time we got stuck trying to go over the bumps on the electrical wires (or was it a ditch? we got stuck a few times) and the wheel fell off, along with the leg holders. Some strong man who just happened to be there at the fair came along and lifted the wheelchair with me in it out of the whatever it was and put the wheel back on the chair. Or maybe Katie put the wheel back on. It was a blur. But we got back on four wheels and enjoyed the rest of the carnival portion of the fair. Holding on to the wheelchair frame over the many ditches offered ample opportunity for arm exercise.

The boys had some shaved ice, and we all split some cinnamon sugar yammies, and then we met the big boys afterward for a nice dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. I've pretty much been sleeping ever since then, but I'm awake now. The crowds and the sunshine and the exuberant children and everything else has taken its toll on me. But if you asked if I would go back again today, the answer would be yes!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Are You on Quack?!

We often kid with my kid that he's on crack, meaning sugar, because that is his drug of choice. He gives hyperactivity new meaning. Speedy speech, eyes darting, he becomes the life of the party, even if we are just sitting in the car. It doesn't take much sugar to bring him to this state of supernatural bliss. He craves sugar as strongly as I need coffee in the morning just to unsluggify my brain. So I limit his sugar intake, and monitor his diet carefully. Of course, there's nothing I can do when he is at his father's house. But then it becomes his problem, and if he wants to deal with that behavior, that's on him. Just don't feed him Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew and drop him on my doorstep. Caffeine is not an option for my kid, ever. Sugar does enough damage by itself. At least he sleeps well on the nights he indulges.

I do have a point here. Since my surgery, I have been on a couple different types of pain pills. The first ones were much too strong, and I was assigned a new medication when the cast was put on. After the experiences with the first pain pills, I was hesitant to take anything at all that was stronger than Motrin or Tylenol. I disliked the memory loss, inability to think, nausea, constant shaking, lack of motor skills, and the tendency to pass out without a moment's notice from the first part of recovery. All of that falling off the crutches really left an impression.

But the pain persists. Even almost a month after surgery, there are times when pain shoots up my leg and stops my breath. It comes out of the blue, and it won't go away. Then the throbbing in my heel begins if I use the knee walker too much, and then my knee feels like the bone is exposed from kneeling, and the "good" ankle complains about overuse of the tendon, and then the incisions on the "bad" ankle feel raw and not unlike hamburger meat. This causes tension to radiate out from my neck and shoulders and gives me a nice, big headache to complete the experience. At these times, I break down and take a pain pill.

After about fifteen minutes, it feels like the effects of drinking two glasses of wine. I am a lightweight, so maybe for the more experienced drinkers out there, it would feel like just a pleasant buzz that moves you away from the scene of the pain about a hundred feet. You can kind of watch the pain, and you know it's there, but you are just kind of curious about it. You can ask your body if the pain is still bad, and your body will respond, "Pain? Oh, that. Well. Um. Tomato?" And you sigh and lean back against the pillow and close your eyes.

And then it's three hours later. I hate that part. All the writing I could have been doing!

So my kid is on "crack," meaning sugar. And I am on "crack," meaning pain pills. But we don't like to use that term because someone might take us literally, and no one is REALLY on "crack." So we call it "quack."

"Are you on quack?!!" We will ask each other this when anything nonsequitur pops out of someone's mouth. And the answer, for me, at least, lately, is "Yes." I wish I wasn't, but the pain is in control. Not forever. But for now.

Apparently, I have been acting more and more normal the past couple weeks. I now have the ability to complete sentences. I no longer ask if someone has walked the goldfish, or other quack-induced questions. I can smile and laugh when appropriate. I find more to smile and laugh about. I cook dinner. I can handle an hour, sometimes longer, in the park. I fall less often. I remember conversations most of the time.

However, I am not entirely myself. Not just yet. I need a little more time to recover. There are still times when I may be smiling on the outside and grimacing in pain on the inside. I feel I have been enough of a burden on my friends and my son and do not wish to complain over a certain amount. Although I know I do still complain, I could complain more. But I don't. And if I look at you funny after you ask me a question, I may not comprehend exactly what you just said. If I look puzzled after I have uttered a sentence, I may not be aware of exactly what I, myself, just said. Sometimes I'm afraid that I still do not make sense. That I may have said that the salad is baked and the cereal is frozen and that I need fingernails for my iced tea. I mean, really, the words don't come out right sometimes. So I am a little nervous about speaking at all.

But since a lot of time has passed since the surgery, and I appear to be doing well, others, even those who see me each day, seem to expect me to be myself already. But I'm not.

Even if I look like a duck, and quack like a duck, I may not actually be a duck. I may just be a goose. On quack.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Silly Soon!

I was granted a glimpse of possibilities for the cover of Silly Moments today, and I am so excited! I can't share with you, but I can just say that the book and the coloring book and the t-shirts will be available soon, so please hold on and don't forget about Silly! It's going to be a baby's picture book, so it's geared for ages 0-7, and I may be a little biased here, but I think anyone of any age just might find themselves liking it a little bit! I love happy anticipation!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tribute to Friendship



Diane's funeral/memorial service is Saturday. Her body was cremated, so there was no rush. She passed on June 23rd. Three weeks is a long time to wait, and a long time to think. I put off my tribute blog for a while, but did write it last week, when she wouldn't stop bugging me to do it. Today, at lunch, she was sitting next to me again, as if to say, "Remember when we used to do this? Remember when this was us?" Yes. I do remember. And so I looked through my old Flickr albums and found some photos. Then I used Picasa to make a collage of some of the them.

The photos begin with her 50th birthday party, which really was a surprise. I took time off from pre-faire build to attend. She hated parties when they were for her, but she took the time to decorate my office for my birthday a couple years ago, even though she didn't work in the same building anymore.

Halloween. Thanksgiving. A bridal shower tea party for one of her daughters. A newborn grandson. A Christmas party for work. She forced me to go to that and even let me wear her black velvet jacket.

And of course, hot tea at lunch. Always hot tea for every meal. I can't even eat without thinking of her.

At lunch today, my friend asked me if I plan to speak at Diane's memorial service. I said that it would depend on how much I would be crying at the time. I really thought I would have it under control, be dry-eyed and glib. But then, I thought that about right now, too.

And I was wrong.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Can Has Pain Pill?

Reasons why I should have stayed in bed today:

1) My laptop is unhappy, and rebelling at every chance. It needs to be restored, but I hate to lose stuff, so I have been putting this chore off. I can't put it off anymore. It will be a clean slate tomorrow morning. No more freezing. And I can't wait to be able to print again, and view pdf's!

2) I burned my arm on the waffle maker this morning, AFTER I made the great waffletastic mess of 2009 all over the kitchen counter, and also down the side of the stove where no sponge may ever reach. Ow.

3) I knocked over my plate of waffles with cream cheese and raspberries all over the living room floor and rug. I had to clean this up with a wet towel provided by my sick son who resents having to do anything at all for me and probably thinks I should be able to walk by now.

4) The kid is hacking all over the place and refusing to listen to reason. Please just blow your nose!!! Take your medicine. Blow your nose. Take your medicine. Blow your nose. AAAAAAGH!!

5) I'm trying to wean myself off the pain pills so that I DON'T spend the entire morning of each day in bed. I have things I need to do. I need to work on Seneca. I need to revamp my CV and apply for online English professor posts. I need to be able to think clearly and stop dropping things on the floor where I can't reach them from the knee walker. I need my brain back and fully funtioning! But it hurts. Ow.

6) It's time for another pain pill. Maybe I'll quit whining for a little bit after it kicks in. Maybe the kid will finally clean the toilet. And blow his nose. And take his medicine. I've given up on the yogurt. That will never happen.

*Note: Title taken from Lolcats. "I can has cheezburger?" Classic.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Doctors and Wheelchairs and Yogurt, Oh My

I hope everyone's Fourth of July was fantastic. My kid acted up, so it was a fizzle-out for us until fireworks time, which was pretty fun. It's still hard to get around, even with the knee walker, and when the cast presses on my heel due to gravity, it causes me to grow weary and sometimes a little bit crabby. So, a couple happy pills later, we made it through to the day after the Fourth of July. The food was good, though. Now that I can move around the kitchen a bit, that means we can enjoy lemon pepper chicken, corn on the cob, and apple pie more often. But life is not all lunch and dinner. (Sometimes there's breakfast, too!)

After a breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs with garlic, and bagels, (have I mentioned I can move around in the kitchen again?) the kid's rattling bark of a cough brought us to the doctor's office today for him instead of for me. I thought I was doing so great, scooting around a lot lately. And then I hit the threshold of the doctor's office, and before I could catch myself over the change in terrain, I pitched forward onto my face with a squeal, and landed on all fours, including my cast. Angel was parking the car, and the boys were ahead of me. Two men standing in line rushed to my assistance and uprighted the knee walker, and tried to get me into a wheelchair, but I was too embarrassed. I got back up and didn't cry. I really didn't. Then Angel came in and made me get in the wheelchair anyway. That worked out for the best, until the boys left my knee walker downstairs because they didn't bring it up in the elevator. Angel went back and retrieved it, though. And I got to keep my leg up. I thought about letting a nurse look at it, but it wasn't my doctor's office, and I am not a patient under the same plan as my son is, because his father covers him under his separate insurance plan. So I didn't want any hassles, but I really did mess up my knee a bit during the fall, and my foot wasn't thrilled about the experience, either.

Anyway, the kid has antibiotics now for his delightful, all-night cough, and he has to eat yogurt to keep himself from having side effects. Getting him to eat yogurt was a chore and a half, and he didn't even finish one four-ounce container of it. He says it is purple poison that makes him want to vomit. I offered him some of mine, since it was pink, but he said no to that, as well. Weird kid. He doesn't like spinach, either.

At least the kid is behaving better today than yesterday. I hope that continues, and it will, until the next time I ask him to eat yogurt, I predict.

I almost forgot. I'm setting a goal for myself. Tomorrow, I'm plotting out the plot points of Seneca into an outline so I can rewrite it more easily. And if I don't do something productive toward a writing goal each day, then at the end of this recovery time, I will be very disappointed in myself. That means one goal each day, and I am going to try and track those goals here on my blog so I have some accountability. It's kind of like Weight Watchers, but with writing. Write Watchers. Only I'm the only one doing the watching. Maybe I should copywrite that term. Hm.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Castitude

Castitude. It's an attitude of gratitude induced by leg-cast-wearing humility. Castitudinations for today include:

1) Taquitos and sludge.
In our search for "real guacamole," we failed. The good news is it's so awful that Angel won't eat it and that leaves it all for me. Wait. That's good news? The real good news is that I am able to knee walk myself to the kitchen and warm up my own taquitos now. Bon appetit!

2) Denim capris that fit over my cast.
When I learned that the cast would go up to my knee, I wondered over the tapered legs of my favorite denim capris. Visually, I didn't think they would work. But this morning, I braved the precarious perch, hovering over my knee walker, tugging and pulling my pants on. It's so great to be free from elastic waste shorts today! I feel almost stylish. AND I found a black v-neck shirt in the recesses of my suitcase that I haven't worn since the surgery. It's a whole new me! I insist on getting out of this house at some time today. I even wore mascara.

3) The absence of free range ants in the living room.
Last night was going to be a good night. It was, it was, it was! Until the ants decided to congregate en masse over whatever AJ spilled on the rug. Since I am stranded on the island of the longer couch near the dining room, I did not notice the great pasta and cereal spill of the love seat archipelago. However, when Angel sat down with dinner after a long day at work, he settled down into a pool of ants. Tonight will be much better because the ants have been vacuumed into oblivion.

4) Being able to explain the webcam in the bathroom so that guests return again, unafraid.
Yeah, there's a webcam in the bathroom. Sorry I didn't tell you before you went in there. Don't worry. It's for the snakes. Sorry, Katie. Glad you're coming back today!

5) Arming my friends with the knowledge that when they IM me, it may be Angel answering them instead of me.
Enough said. Sorry, Cathy. Although, I read the transcript, and that was pretty funny stuff!

6) Time to write, even if I'm in sponge mode presently.
I might just rewrite the first chapters of Seneca tomorrow. Really. For real! No, I mean it. When I asked Angel if there was anything at all, anything, really anything, he needed done today while he was at work, he calmly repeated (because he's said it before) that I could perhaps, oh, I don't know, WRITE SOMETHING???

Oh. Did you mean me?

7) Looking forward to the imminent arrival of the cast cover and back (cast) scratcher.

I am better than last week, which is all that matters, right? My hip and the bone graft site and radiating from it are giving me issues. More so than ever before. I will need to get used to it, because it will last for "several months." Otherwise, I am dreading having to get in and out of the bath with a trash bag on my leg again. That's hard with my big posterior. I freaked out a day ago because I thought a drop of water drizzled into my cast. I am so afraid of itching! I had an itching spell one morning from 3 to 4 a.m., and I used a chopstick because that was all I had, and I hurt so bad later, and the itching just wouldn't stop! It kept getting worse. So I ordered a pink plastic back scratcher from ebay and hopefully it will arrive soon. Otherwise, this is expensive, but I'm thinking about ordering one.

Hey, does this count as writing? I only have four more weeks to go in my butt-on-couch recovery. I'd better get typing! My nails are far too long.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pictures

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the case of Silly Moments, the sketches I received this morning are worth more words than can be contained in any dictionary! I am so excited! AND there will be a coloring book edition of the book, as well as the illustrated version! So much fun! I am so pleased. The sketches display the vitality of the book, along with the homey feeling and the sweetness of the child-cat interaction. This is a baby's picture book, but it is a feel-good book for all ages, too. The child being read aloud to, along with the reader, will both come away from this book feeling like there is joy in the simplicity of life.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Diane



I wasn't going to devote a blog to Diane. I wasn't going to share how I feel with anyone. After all, these are my feelngs, and if I choose to keep them to myself, who's going to stop me? Who's going to care?

She would. She does. She cares. That's her, always caring, for everyone. She is here right now with me, I don't care what anyone says. I can only touch her with my thoughts and emotions, but she is here. And she wants me to not only get this out, but to share it. I don't know why, and I don't know what to say, exactly.

I feel that it has been communicated to her already, all the emotion, and the history and the gratitude and the feelings of inadequacy in reciprocation for all she's done for me and Andrew and then the acceptance of the need for me to RECEIVE and then the thanks for that, as well. I need to absorb her friendship into my life and carry on. Take all those lessons about family and friendship and giving and receiving and use them as I go about my business. Kindness and caring, all of that. Those are heavy lessons to rely on when the going gets tough, and she reinforced all of those for me. So I'm lucky to have them, and to have had her in my life.

I am reminded that it is the time we spent together that was the most special, and that we made that time, even though we were both busy and preoccupied, and that the time you make for others is really time you make for yourself. And if we hadn't made that time for each other, we wouldn't have had the time for ourselves. So it is a gift, the time, to relax, to think, to feel, to share the thoughts and feelings, and to experience the world together. It's so much better than alone. And if you are lucky enough to find someone who clicks with you and streams along on the same wavelength, or at least the one traveling close enough to you to collide happily from time to time, then you need to treasure that time together. And when the tears are more cleansing than sad, you know you can go on.

I could list specifics and try to count endless Cobb salads at Lilly's Place, which no longer exists, and all the nights when I was at Cal State after work and my son was with her, and the weeks when I was at Spalding and my son was with her, and all the family events where I was invited and did attend, and the long phone calls, and the topics of discussion (mainly men, for each of us, but that subject is fodder for many conversations), and the shopping trips and birthdays and Christmases and Thanksgivings where I would normally be sitting alone, but was instead included in this boisterous family atmosphere and embraced as someone worth knowing and wanting to have around.

But if I listed all that, it would take forever, and seriously, I need to get on with my life and stop hiding in the corner, because I am now armed with the knowledge that I don't have to do everything on my own, and I can count on some people, because there are some trustworthy humans in this world. You just have to know how to recognize them, and when you see them, you need to hold onto them, because you never know how long they will be here to spend time with you. And when they call and ask you to lunch, your answer really should be yes, because you are robbing yourself of a lot more than calories if you decline.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fax: Stranger Than Fiction

And the adventures of a reluctant patient continue. When I was last at the orthopaedic surgeon's office, I was told I needed four things: an X-Ray before the next ortho appt., the film or disk of the X-Ray, an appt. to see the ortho again, and then to go to the place where the CAM boot will be fitted and then given to me. In my Norco-induced haze, I attempted to communicate through the pain that I can only return one time. ONCE. I cannot drive, as my right leg is non-weight-bearing. I am an hour and a half away one way. I have to rely on my friend to take me, who also has a life (and three children) of her own. No way could I possibly return three or four times. Please, could this all be handled on one day?

After some argument, which mainly fell on my deaf ears, due to the narcotics and the nausea and the pain, I reiterated that I would only be able to return once. How could this please be accomplished? It was explained to me that the cast cannot be taken off without X-Rays first. The ortho is not allowed to take the X-Rays because I have an HMO, even though I passed a door at the ortho's office that said, "DO NOT ENTER, X-RAY IN PROGRESS."

My PCP, through my HMO, must authorize the X-Ray, and would likely prefer to do it at their own facility on a separate day from the ortho appt., and then will take a day or two to process the film and then I would have to return to that facility to pick it up to take with me to the ortho appt. The other option I have is to beg the PCP to please, pretty please, with sugar on top, allow me to go to an imaging place nearby that has the ability to take the X-Ray the same day as the ortho appt. and put the X-Ray immediately online for the ortho to see. I was told by the girl at the ortho office that I need to explain the situation clearly and request earnestly that I be allowed to visit the imaging place on the same day as the ortho appt.

After I returned from the dr.'s appt. and settled in on the sofa, I called the PCP and explained the situation to the nurse, who sighed in frustration and explained to me that I was supposed to bring the piece of paper with the radiology exam request on it straight to their office, which was already an hour and a half away from me when I called. I asked if I could please fax the document to her attention, and she said I could, and that when she received it, she would ask the doctor what the doctor would like to do. I asked if the fax number was on their internet site, and she said it was.

I discovered that the fax number is NOT on their internet site, nor is it available through any google search. The next day, Friday, I called her office again, and asked for the fax number to reach the nurse. I was given a number, and thanked the person who provided it to me. That number woke up some nice lady twice this morning, who yelled through the phone that this was not a fax line. So I called the doctor's exchange today, and was transferred to Urgent Care, who gave me yet another fax number for the nurse. This number rings eternally. The doctor's exchange does not have the fax number. There is no e-mail address available anywhere, not even on the internet. A search for the owner of the medical group's domain was not helpful, as no fax numbers or e-mail addresses were provided there, either. Three subsequent attempts to have the doctor's exchange transfer me to Urgent Care were fruitless, as the single line she is given to transfer people to is constantly busy and she cannot take a message.

So I have this lovely fax that I wrote on official "me" letterhead, explaining the situation, pleading my case, and begging for mercy. And it will never see the light of day or be submitted to the perusal of a doctor or a nurse, because the medical group still functions technologically 100 years behind everyone else.
_______________________

One more phone call to the Urgent Care was successful. They only have the wrong fax number also. BUT they provided their two fax numbers, and then when they receive the fax, they will interoffice mail it to the correct office. They explained that there is no e-mail address for their offices at all.

Huh.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

Yesterday, Katie took me and the boys to the doctor's office for the fateful appointment. Because I predicted painful stitch removal, I took a pill for pain before we left. By the time we arrived, an hour and a half later (because that's how far away it is), I was loopier than a loon, shaking, and trying not to vomit. I also used the knee walker for the first time to get from the car to the lobby and then to the exam room. I don't have great balance to begin with, so the shaking really added that extra element of adventure.

Anyway, so I cried like a baby when they took the stitches out. They did put a cast on my leg. This was best case scenario, so I'm happy. But the entire experience was painful, and each medical professional who came in contact with me commented that the pain meds were much too strong. They took me off those pills so fast it made my head spin. Actually, the room was spinning. And it just wouldn't stop.

So now I have new pain pills, and I was able to practice with the knee walker in the aisles of the pharmacy when we got back in this area. And the cast is much lighter than the splint. Later, Cindi came over and brought dinner, nail polish, Sharpies and my own custom scented lotion. I feel human again, and with sparkly toes!

Today, I was able to move around on my own, and even made it to the living room with relative ease. I need to determine how to carry things, but just being able to go from one room to the other is so huge that I can wait for the rest of it all.

Since AJ was supposed to visit with his father this weekend, he and I made the trek to the meeting place. It took me 12 minutes to knee walk over there, and the heel of my cast was pressing heavily on my foot. I thought I was going to topple over a couple times because of rough terrain. One minute before his father was supposed to pick up AJ, he called and said that he isn't going to pick him up this weekend after all because he has to work Sunday. So we made the trek back to the house. In the heat. Past large stinging insects. Over bumps in the asphalt. All the way back. And then I tried to go up the stairs. I tore up my knee on the threshold, trying to crawl in. Then I raised myself up by using a chair and the crutches and AJ retrieved the knee walker from outside. When I transferred myself back to the knee walker, I slipped and fell into the counter, twisting my ankle inside the cast just enough to evoke a scream that they probably heard in the middle of the ocean. AJ settled me on the couch and brought me ice, and here I am, not crying anymore.

Each day is a little (or a lot) better, but it's still a long road to recovery.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Untitled Blog Blurb

Yesterday, Diane passed away in her sleep. Amid a flurry of phone calls, I decided not to blog about it. Instead, I chose to talk to her in my mind, and I said everything I needed to say. I'm not going to repeat any of it. Or at least I'm not ready to divulge how I feel about this situation. I may never be. So be it.

On another note, I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning, early, to which Katie sweetly offered transportation and company, and I am very grateful.

One of three things will happen tomorrow:

1) Best case scenario: I get the splint off, stitches out, and a cast on.

2) Doable scenario: I get resplinted for a little while before the cast goes on and the stitches are removed.

3) Unthinkable scenario: I have to have surgery again.

I have fallen so many times that my splint has shifted under the bandages. This cannot bode well for my appointment tomorrow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grocery Shopping in the Bedroom

I thought I did the grocery shopping online. I mean, well, I guess I actually did do the grocery shopping online. It took over an hour. I might as well have been at the store, with all the "browsing the aisles" and "shopping from lists" I did at albertsons.com.

I even updated my preferred member card number and provided a correct mailing address (I usually don't bother).

I sat here with my leg propped up and iced evenly on both sides, sucking down water and Vicodin, purchasing bananas, grapes, yogurt, juice, applesauce, anything my heart desired, all a click away.

I threw in corn dogs for the kid, who should arrive sometime tonight, and some taquitos, and even chicken pot pies for Angel just to make him laugh. Well, we would eat them, too. Not the kid, he's too picky. But Angel and I would eat the pot pies. I could easily demonstrate that I can still deliver the pot pies, even from the bedroom. What a woman! I would surely be accomplishing some super feat of virtue by making sure that poor Angel didn't have to wander around the grocery store for an unknown amount of time, scratching his head in pursuit of REAL guacamole. I chose the correct brands, amounts, and ingredients. I had it ALL FIGURED OUT for him.

Proudly, I shouted across the house, "Sweetheart! I just finished the grocery shopping! Where would you like to pick it up?"

"No way!" He was astonished and amazed and awestruck and all the things he should have been, appropriately. I was patting myself on the back so hard that house shook. Or maybe that was...never mind.

Anyway, so I looked up the pickup address for the store, and we were both a little tiny teeny bit disappointed that the closest Albertsons did not participate in this program. However, one only a few miles away was available, so I clicked on that location, and we were both still pleased.

Then I looked at the timetable for pickup. Where was today? I searched and searched. What were all of these confusing Mondays and Tuesdays on my screen? Where was...where was...Sunday?

"Oops. I guess I should have checked that first. Sorry." I apologized profusely. "Well, at least I can print out the list and you can use that when you go shopping." I smiled. Sort of.

"Great." His enthusiasm waned. He picked up the printed list and asked me to keep it all together. "You don't want me to go NOW, do you?"

"No, no. It can wait. Thanks."

He went back to the living room.

And here I am, me and my laptop, visions of applesauce dancing in my head no more. I saved the shopping cart, just in case, but did not complete the order.I thought I had done such a good thing.

Blast you, Albertsons, and your dastardly incomplete advertising. Next time, you will lose, because I will order in advance, before the bananas turn brown!