Skip to content

Relocated….

January 2, 2013

Just a super quick reminder that my A Reason To Write posts are appearing at www.EllenWeeren.com now.

And A Reason To Read is here now.

Thanks and Happy New Year!

2012 in review

December 31, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 48,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 11 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Expat Blog Awards….

December 4, 2012

This is kind of exciting.

I’ve been nominated for the Expat Blog Awards for my writing about living in India.

If you have a second, please vote for me by leaving a comment here…
http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/466/a-reason-to-write

Thanks!

NaNoWriMo…..

November 1, 2012

National Novel Writing Month begins today – you can read about it over at www.Ellen.Weeren.com

Participant 180x180 (2)

There’s more to it than just writing….

October 29, 2012

Just in case you haven’t heard, this blog has moved over to www.EllenWeeren.com.

Please find my latest post there – There’s more to it than writing.

If you’d like you can subscribe to my new site to get emails whenever something new is posted. Just click over there and look in the left sidebar for the “subscribe” box.

Finding comparable titles …..

October 25, 2012
tags: ,

Today I wrote about finding comparable titles for your work in progress over at www.EllenWeeren.com.

My posts will appear there now so please considering following me there.

It’s all about branding…..

October 18, 2012

Everything I hear suggests demands that authors use their name as their brand.

Alas, I have a few online sites that have nothing to do with my name. So I have finally gotten brave enough to consolidate them in one place – with my name as my brand.

Please check me out at www.EllenWeeren.com.

Unfortunately, even if you already follow me here, you will need to follow me there. But luckily that’s easy peasy. Just enter your email in the “subscribe” box on the left side of the screen and you will get an email whenever I post something new.

The banner is not all fabulouso yet but it will be. If you think of other things that will make it better. Please let me know!
Thanks!

The new trend in soccer spectating….

October 15, 2012

I am not sure if spectating is a word, but you know what I mean – parents on the sideline.

I know. Oy.

At the past two games my daughter has played in, the parents from the opposing team sat on our girls side of the field. In fact, it is the third time this season it has happened.

Now, this certainly isn’t a crime against humanity. But it is annoying.

Bowling and golf have understood rules of etiquette. No one has to explain that you wait until the guy next to you bowls before you head down the lane. No one has to say “shhh” when someone is putting.  (Because sports etiquette is largely common sense.)

And no one should have to invite parents from the opposing team to sit on the side where their girls are sitting. Really.

My kids all started soccer when they were four. My experience has pretty much been that parents have mostly self-regulated and sat with parents from their own team.

It just makes sense. We are like-minded in our cheering for and disappointment of referee calls. We can mumble amongst ourselves about what is working and what is not working. We can be proud together.

We get half of the field – you get half of the field – like the invisible line my dad used to draw down the backseat of the car. Even steven. No crossing over. Not even if your arse is on fire. Stay on your side and we’ll have a peaceful ride.

The soccer league my daughter plays in has even incorporated this backseat guideline into its rules – they have drawn a not-so-invisible 50-yard line – parents are to sit on the same half of the field their kids are sitting on.

But then there’s this new trend that’s emerging. And it’s problematic. It creates immediate tension. Unnecessary tension. And parents feign ignorance. They claim not to know the rule – it’s only been that way forever – they claim to not understand why it makes perfect sense.  And then they go on to prove exactly why it makes p.e.r.f.e.c.t. sense. Hmmm.

When our hearts jump out of our bodies, put cleats on, and play a game of soccer, we are never going to see the game in the same away as another parent whose heart has jumped out of her body and put cleats on to play a game of soccer against our child. We just aren’t.

And that is fine. It’s really as it should be.

However, we don’t have to sit right next to each other.

The past two games have been especially disappointing.

In the first game, the parents of the other team lined up about 15 feet behind us. They had to stand to watch the game because they couldn’t see over us. No one sat on the other half of the field. Literally, everyone was on one side of the 50-yard line. They disagreed with calls and loudly commented on nearly everything, including our girls. It was distracting and obnoxious.

In the second game, we were in a high school stadium in bleachers – plenty ‘o room to sit. However, the parents from the other team sat at the very end of the field – across from where our girls were. We sat closer to the fifty yard line on our side of the field. But it was still too close.

These parents yelled at the ref, even claiming his calls were “impossible”. They yelled when they felt something should have been called in favor of their team and wasn’t. They cheered for their own girls when they fouled our team, encouraging them to “keep it up, all day long”. They were encouraging their girls to foul our girls – and hard.

That is where I draw the line. Encouraging a child to go after another child is not okay. It’s just not.

The best moment of the game was when the ref stopped the game for a foul. They thought it was going in their favor. The other parents cheered and stomped on the metal bleachers… until the ref pulled out a yellow card and presented it to a girl on their team. Ahem.

The graduation prayer….

October 12, 2012

So, the other day  I posted this story about my experience with bullying in high school and I mentioned that I gave a prayer at graduation. A prayer about hate. 

Well, holy prayer, I found it.

(Just know that it is not my best work). But I thought I would share it.

If you read the post on my experience, you might remember that I masked my message as a global message about war. Well, apparently, I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was. Twenty-five plus years later, it doesn’t seem so focused on global events but rather what was closer to my heart at the time.

Anywho, here it is…

Dear Lord

As we gather here together for the last time as the class of 1986, we thank you for our good times and our bad times – our joys and our sorrows.

We have grown tremendously since we first walked the halls as a freshman class. We have eagerly anticipated the day we could walk down the aisle and receive our high school diplomas. But now, many of us look to the future with a great deal of uncertainty.

We pray that you will guide us in the decisions we must make, the fears we will face, and the defeats we shall bear.

Help us put any bad memories of the past behind us and to be thankful for the joyful times we have spent together.

Teach us there is no going back. We must accept the past and fight for tomorrow.

Help us to remember that the enemies we meet in life, whether they be nations or individuals, are as frightened of conflicts as we are.

Teach us to respect the adversaries we encounter. Remind us that there is not a single person in this world unable to feel the pain that accompanies hatred.

But most of all, guide us to gain a true belief in ourselves.

Let us remember we can never be duplicated.

Help us celebrate our uniqueness and take full advantage of our abilities – so that we may build a stronger future for ourselves and our country.

Give us knowledge so that we will not repeat yesterday’s mistakes.

The wonder of our past is not that we have survived inquisitions or world wars. It is that we can still say we believe and we care.

This is our foundation for hope. A foundation that makes us stronger and will allow us to make a difference in this world.

Lord be with us tonight and in the future and keep us safe.

Let us remember that our future is dependent on our ability to care and believe.

Thank you for all of our blessings.

Amen

She could have totally kicked my ass….

October 8, 2012

I am not really sure why I feel absolutely compelled to write this post – right now. 

But I do.

So I will.

Maybe today one of my readers needs to hear this story – I am not sure – but I am going trust my gut and share.

This isn’t particularly easy for me – but I am going for it.

If you know me, you might not imagine that I was bullied in high school. I am pretty confident (okay, most of the time) and I am not afraid to stand my ground (pretty much ever). I’m not gorgeous or particularly hideous. In those days, I fit pretty much right smack dab into the middle of just about everything. Not too tall. Not too short. Not too fat. Certainly not too skinny. Not too geeky. Certainly not too cool.

In high school, I had plenty of friends and I had dates to just about every function – most of the time I had a boyfriend. I made good grades but wasn’t a total nerd. I owned at least one pair of Tiger shoes and a pair of Guess jeans. Had me a pair of Gloria Vanderbilts too. And at least 3 shirts donning that Lacoste gator. So I wasn’t necessarily setting trends but I wasn’t a fashion abomination. Continuously falling right smack in the middle.

Because I was President of the Student Government and an officer in several other clubs, I also had fantastic relationships with quite a few teachers – okay, maybe I was more nerdy than I realized. But, the point is – I didn’t ever have to walk down the hall alone – I wasn’t invisible to teachers. I knew lots of people and got along with most of them.

Except one girl.

I won’t share her real name – but she did not like me – not one little bit. (I guess I will call her Tasha – because that’s not really her name.)

Tasha hated me.

H.a.t.e.d. M.e.

I mean really hated me. Really, really.

Honestly, I didn’t really care so much if she hated me. Her impression of me wasn’t that important to me.

Remember – I was a pretty confident kid – I completely understood that her opinion of me did not define me. Just because she called me a bitch (or worse) every. single. time. she saw me walk down the hallway did not mean I was a bitch or worse. That was clear to me.

However, she could have totally kicked my ass. I was pretty afraid that one day she would realize her words didn’t work to hurt me and that she would turn to sticks and stones to try and break my bones.

It was painfully obvious to me that the only way to survive a fight with Tasha was to never get in a fight with Tasha.

She was in my face. A lot.

And I was scared of her. A lot.

But I would just walk down a different hallway. I didn’t come back at her with words and certainly never with actions.

My worst experience with her was one night at a party at the lake.

She found out I was there and came looking for me. Running up the hill with her friends, screaming, “Where is sheeee?”

Thank God I was in the bathroom with the door locked. (Teach your children to lock the bathroom door at a party.)

She pounded on the thin wooden door for what seemed like 15 minutes, daring me to come out.

Then begging me to come out.

There I stayed – behind that locked door – probably shaking – trying to guess what my best option was. Thinking what was the worst that could happen if I came out.

That was easy. She could have totally kicked my ass.

Totally.

So I figured my best plan was to leave. Quickly.

Apparently, Tasha didn’t like that little life-preserving decision of mine. Maybe she was tired of me turning away from her. I don’t really know.

But, she positioned herself in front of me – and in front of everyone else, she threw her drink on me. Right down the front of my shirt. The funny thing was I had borrowed that cute white sweater from a friend of mine. Who was also a friend of hers.

Of course, it was a red punch drink of one sort or another.

My theory remained in tact – the surest way to not get beaten up was to not get in a fight.

I headed to my car, ever grateful that I still had my keys with me.

Tasha headed to her car. If I remember right, it was a jeep. I could be wrong on that. But I think it was.

Two girls in my class drove jeeps – the homecoming queen and Tasha. Funny little Southern irony there.

Anyjeep.

I drove on the dark hilly road along that lake scared out of my mind. Not knowing where I was going. No cell phone. No GPS. Just sheer adrenaline and prayer. Lots of prayers.

Tasha followed me very closely. And it was my distinct impression that several times she tried to run me off the road.

Yes, you’re right. She was mean as hell.

Somehow, I made it out of the woods in one piece, without wrecking my car and without getting in a fight.

That night I went to bed in that red-stained sweater, still shaking. I never told one adult what happened. In fact, I never really talked about it with my friends – even those who were there.

Tasha’s need to spew her hate at me seemed to quiet down after that night. Maybe she scared herself too. Who knows but I enjoyed a little respite.

She didn’t say much more to me until we were rehearsing for graduation. I was asked to give the prayer for the graduating class.

Tasha was my motivation.

My prayer appeared focused on the global picture of war and hate but it was meant for her.

Stop hating. Stop scaring. Now, I was begging her.

She pretended to shoot me as I walked down the stairs from the stage.

Finally, I said something.

“Oh, I think you got me this time.”

I must have looked ridiculous clutching my chest and pretending to be shot. But I finally felt it. Enough already.

Several months later, a dear friend of mine invited me to join her in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. She went to Auburn and they were playing Alabama (my favorite team).

My only reservation in going was that I knew Tasha had moved to New Orleans. Yes, I was still worried enough about her that I almost didn’t go.

The friend who had invited me reassured me – it’s a huge town, thousands of people are going to be there to see the game, you’ll never see her. What are the chances?

You can probably guess what the chances were – 100%.

We were walking down the street and, towards us, came Tasha.

My heart tightened and I had to catch my breath.

She walked right up to me and gave me the biggest, hardest hug.

WTF?

“I thought you hated me,” was all I could muster.

“Oh, that was high school,” she said and laughed.

Now we are facebook friends and we have joked about how much she hated me. Now she’ll know just how much she scared me, too. I couldn’t bring myself to laugh about that.

To be fair to Tasha, she has since shared with me that she thought I was mean to her friend – I thought Tasha hated me because of a boy who called me when he was “going with” her. Tasha said that she was defending her friend and was furious when her friend stopped being mad at me. I guess Tasha just couldn’t let go. To be fair to me, I don’t ever remember not liking this other friend or being mean to her. If I was, I am sorry for that.

As I said, I am not sure why I am supposed to share this story but I feel that I am.

Maybe there are some important things here. I will share what I think they might be…

  • Being nice is always the best option.
  • If someone comes to you with a bulling story, please do not tell them that they simply need to toughen up. Help them. It is really hard to share these things – if they thought they could handle it on their own, they would have.
  • There are books that can help you talk to kids about bullying. If you aren’t sure where to start, look here at Dinner A Love Story.
  • If your child is a bully – it’s not cool – he’s not tough, stop him now. Or her. (Boys aren’t the only bullies.)
  • If you are modeling bullying behavior for your child, stop it now. You are not cool and you are not tough. But I think you know that.
  • If you are bullying your own children, you might be creating bullies. Get help so you can stop the cycle. And get them help too.
  • Scaring someone is not entertainment. Buy a movie ticket.
  • It’s not always obvious who will be bullied. Even those who appear strong can be victims because weakness is in the eye of the beholder. And the beholder can be a vulture waiting to strike when no one is looking.
  • Those who are bullied will not always tell that they are being bullied.
  • Even if they have multiple safety nets.
  • If you are being bullied, tell someone. Someone you trust, especially if you are scared.
  • Red drink stains will come out of a white sweater with 409 and it’s good to lock the bathroom door at a party.

Photography Class – Take One…..And Two…

October 4, 2012

Two weeks ago, I took a photography class with a good friend of mine (we’ll call her Sally – because that’s her name) at the Washington School of Photography (WSP). In fact, it was this class – the Digital SLR Camera Primer with Sam D’Amico. The class’s tag line is “how to get your camera off manual mode”.

It was a marvelouso introduction to the terms aperture, shutter speed, ISO, metering, and manual mode. The only thing you really need to know before you take this class is whether or not your camera is a DSLR camera (that and maybe how to turn it on). Sam shared a lot of information and broke it all down into layman’s terms so that even I understood (most of) it. I learned so much in those three hours that I felt incredibly smart and incredibly incompetent all at the same time. I learned just enough to screw up my pictures really good. ;-) Seriously though, I took the camera off manual mode and practiced with different settings. And felt comfortable doing that.

Sally and I were inspired to learn more. We felt like we kinda, sorta knew what we were doing but we didn’t always understand why.

So, we contacted Sam for some private lessons. We liked the idea of taking the class together but, after a lady thanked me in the first class for asking so many questions, we figured we I might dominate the session too much.

Very honestly, Sam was expensive. Please know that it’s not that we doubted that Sam would be amazing – it’s just that, short of a contract with National Geographic, we thought maybe we weren’t quite ready to invest so heavily in our training.

I found Kim Seidl. Her workshop info is here.

Amazing.

And yes, I did take that fabulous picture. tee hee

Kim reinforced all that Sam taught us. Sally and I both agreed that we were soooo glad we had taken an intro class first. Apparently, we both learn best by repetition. And that’s not to say we’re slow, mind you – there is just a boat load of info to learn.

And then I came home and took these pictures…in manual mode….with either lots of light

or not so much light….

and of course one of the pooch…

I am especially proud of the one of Pepper because the room was dark and she was moving. Up until yesterday, I would never have even bothered trying to get a picture of her playing. (And just in case you are wondering, that is my son’s arm. He wasn’t willing to donate his face to the Science of my photography.)

Before our session with Kim, part of me was still asking WHY I needed take ever take my camera off of program mode – if the camera is smart enough to figure out what the settings should be, then why not just let it?

Now I understand the answer to that question. In the picture of my daughter in front of the window – the camera would naturally gravitate toward the lightest part of the photo and make her face darker – now my settings certainly are not perfect – but they are focused on her face. Aperture allowed me to make the background blurry and focus on her. In automatic mode, my camera wanted to use the flash and that put too much light on her face.

Kim kept asking us – what is the most important thing in the picture you are about to take? (detail, stopping motion, blurring the background, etc)

Then she would say – now, tell the camera that.

When we were relying on program mode – we allowed the camera to determine what the most important thing is.

The other thing that I will enjoy learning about doing (correctly) is stopping motion.

Now – remember I am an amateur, but here is an example of what I mean. These two pictures were taken within seconds of each other. See how one captures the drops and the other captures the flow? By using manual mode, I was able to tell the camera what was important to me. If I had used program/auto mode, the camera would have decided.


Now, you can see that the lighting is different in both pictures – that was based on settings. The available light did not change.

And if you are still wondering why you should ever take your camera out of its bag, nevermind out of program mode, consider hiring Kim to take pictures for you. She is truly amazing!

Anypic, if you see me with my camera, run the other way. I’ll be taking lots of pictures! 8-)

Places to hear authors speak in the DC Area….

October 3, 2012

by Ellen Weeren
@EllenWeeren/@AReasonToWrite

I just recently discovered these two things and I want to share them with you so we can all come out into the light.

Authors are speaking all over DC, and we’re invited.

Mark Athitakis

This well-known book critic publishes a calendar/guide of speakers throughout the DC area on his blog called American Fiction Notes.

Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
(This excerpt was taken directly from www.expressnightout.com)

Since Sixth & I was rededicated in 2004 (the building started out as a synagogue in 1908, then was an African Methodist Episcopal church for several decades, and is now a working synagogue again), it’s become one of D.C.’s hippest venues for indie rock concerts and big-name author appearances. Tina Fey’s sold-out reading and Q&A in April was the see-and-be-seen nerd event of spring, and the calendar promises an equally compelling fall. Some of Sixth & I’s programs are co-hosted by Politics and Prose, which doesn’t have nearly as much room. Expect a swarm when novelist Jeffrey Eugenides reads on Oct. 31. S.M.

Sixth and I Synagogue, 600 I St. NW,  202-408-3100 . (Gallery Place)

Connecting with Authors….

October 2, 2012

by Ellen Weeren
@EllenWeeren/@AReasonToWrite

In just the past few days, I have spoken with 4 well known authors. Shaken their hands, asked them questions. Gotten super inspired. And I now have signed books from all of them. Yea!

And just how did I do that, you might wonder. (If you don’t wonder that, stop reading now. 8-)  )

Well, I attended a panel discussion at Fall for the Book at George Mason. The discussion was focused on the definition of literary fiction v. genre fiction and if it’s even important to make the distinction between two any longer. The answer was basically that it’s nearly impossible to define literary fiction or appropriately capture its essence. Outstanding writing will be discussed without prompting from scholars and its words will be devoured – no matter what you call it.

My own definition/measuring stick will be that if a college professor picks up The Alligator Purse and discusses it in her classroom or if a book club can’t stop talking about it, then I will consider it Literary Fiction. (She says crossing fingers that one day that will happen.)

These three fantastico authors were at Fall for the Book…

Alma Katsu  – Alma inspired me because she was first published after the age of 50. There’s still hope for me! 8-) And her writing has gripped me – here is the start of her novel The Taker:

“Luke Findley’s breath hangs in the air, nearly a solid thing shaped like a frozen wasp’s nest, wrung of all its oxygen.”

That is some fabulous prose.

Louis Bayard is very simply a tremendous writer and a professor at George Washington Univ.

I also love the opening of The School of Night:

“Against all odds, against my own wishes, this is a love story. And, it began, of all places, at Alonzo Wax’s funeral.”

Now, I am curious as to what is going on.

and then there was Julianna Baggott. The movie rights to her latest novel Pure have already been purchased. She writes across genres and audiences. And, she speaks in poetry. The way she expressed her thoughts was beautiful. I can only imagine the prose in her stories will be scrumptious.

This is what Julianne said on her own blog about the panel discussion. She asked if it was worth her time – she sold fewer than ten books and her child was sick while she was gone. To that I say, “Thank you for coming. When you signed my book, you wrote Best of Luck With Your Writing, Imagine Wildly.” I don’t know if inspiring me was worth missing her sick child. But I was inspired and so were many others.

Mark Athitakis was also on the panel. He is a book critic and manages a guide to DC area readings. You can find that here. I hope one day that he will review my book.

Yes, you are right. That is only three authors. The fourth was one of my absolute faves – John Shors. He wrote the magical historical fiction about the Taj Mahal called  Beneath a Marble Sky. And, if you’ve been following for a while here, you might remember this review. His new book is called Temple of a Thousand Faces and you can preorder it here.

John was kind enough to call our writers group and share his insights on writing. Why did he do that? Because he is awesomesauce – that, and we asked him to.

It is amazing to me just how approachable some authors are. They share a unique understanding of how challenging this writing journey is. And they are eager to see other authors succeed. They want to encourage and enlighten them/us/me.

So, if you are thinking that you really missed out on some great opportunities – have no fear – American University is hosting a visiting writers series and you can get inspiration from some amazing authors. You’ll find the calendar here.

Shorten that url……

September 19, 2012

by Ellen Weeren/@EllenWeeren

I just read a great article about twitter handles by Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson). Of course, I wanted to share it on Twitter. But the flippin’ url was a katrillion characters long. As you might know, Twitter only allows 140 characters. Even the new fuzzy math won’t allow you to squish a katrillion characters in to 140.

So …. I went to Google and they have this tool. It will shorted your url. Maybe that new fuzzy math will work after all. 8-)

And, even though Facebook doesn’t require you to use shorter url’s, it is a nice thing to do there as well.

A Book Review – Drinking Diaries….

September 19, 2012

It’s over here at A Reason To Read…

 

Book Review – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot…..

September 10, 2012

It’s over at A Reason To Read.……..

 

Force to Fly 2………

September 6, 2012

You may (not) remember that I told you one of my essays about living in India was going to be published in an anthology called Forced to Fly 2. Jo Parfitt is the editor and she asked for submissions.

I read through some of my blog posts and submitted one about the time I went to the Post Office in Delhi all.by.my.lonesome. (Which doesn’t really sound very brave, but it felt very brave.) Then I stood on my keyboard with my hands in the air and screamed, “Pick mine, pick mine. Oh. Oh. Oh. Please pick mine.” And then Jo did just that!

This is very exciting for me because this is the first time my writing will be published in an actual book – well, minus the literary magazine in high school. But that doesn’t seem to count as much as this does. This is very exciting.

The book contains humorous accounts of living abroad and will launch on Oct. 5th – don’t worry, you’ll hear (lots) more about it then. And it will be available on Amazon. Yahoo. Amazon will be selling something I wrote – seriously?

But Jo sent out the cover design. So, I thought I would share it with you!

Write/Blog what you know – or not……….

September 5, 2012

There is a ton of fabulous writing and blogging advice out there. One of the most familiar refrains is “write what you know”. I call BS on that  one. If you write fiction, you kinda sorta gotta write what you don’t know or it’s not really fiction. Hmmmm, right?

Another blogging mantra is “write what other people want to read”. That one frustrates the hell out of me. How are we supposed to know that, right?

The proverbial answer is to look at your stats and see what draws people to your blog. Then give them more of whatever that is.

Yikes. My most popular post ever is this one. It got nearly one thousand hits in one day. The key word that people used to find it was “writing”. Which would all be awesome if this post was anything more than an announcement of a writing contest being hosted somewhere else by someone else. Alas.

The post that consistently gets the most traffic on my blog is this one. It gets hundreds of hits every week and it is well over 3 years old.

Go ahead.

Ask me if it’s about writing….

Or the tremendous individual growth I experienced while living in India…..

Or about parenting….

Or anything else that I really care about….

Or even a tiny little book review…..

Ahem. The answer to any of those would not be yes.

It is simply a post of pictures of flowers I took while traveling throughout India. Most of the plants weren’t even really unique to India.

But.

This blog isn’t about flowers

or gardening

or writing contests

hosted by someone else.

And, you really don’t want my gardening advice. I pinky swear it!

In fact, this is what my very own plant looks like right now. 8-)

There are delish but there are lots of brown spots. So I am really, really sorry if you came here for gardening advice.

But if you came here for pictures of flowers, I have been taking some pictures recently. I hope you will enjoy these.

So those are some of the flowers that I have seen along the way. I hope you enjoyed them! ;-)

Fall for the Book at George Mason University

September 4, 2012

Every fall, George Mason University hosts Fall for the Book and gives readers an opportunity to connect with authors.

This year’s festival will run from September 26 thru 30, 2012.

The schedule of events can be found here. The list of speakers can be found here.

Some of the events require tickets, such as Alice Walker, Neil Gaiman, and Michael Chabon. Reservations for those authors can be made by emailing reservations@fallforthebook.org. Most of the other events are open to the public.

Many of the events are held at George Mason’s main campus in Fairfax, but some are not. So be sure to check the schedule for locations as well as times.

When I’m not writing…..

July 20, 2012

artwork from clipart.com

Which should be never. But, alas, when I’m not writing, I am usually reading something.

As for books, I write book reviews over at A Reason To Read. So many of my book choices are not my own.

But I am a big ole lover of magazines. And I have subscriptions to several. They are…

Readers Digest – I love how quickly I can read through this magazine and I love the jokes!

Writers Digest – author interviews, prompts, advice, contests – really just a little bit of everything.

Obscura Journal – this only comes out twice a year – but it couples beautiful photography with storytelling.

Poets & Writers – lots of info on contests, grants, and seminars.

The Writer – they tout themselves as having “advice and inspiration” for writers – that’s pretty much sums it up. Oh and some pretty wonderful author interviews and articles by top notch editors/agents.

The Sun - this is a lovely mix of interviews, non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Truly something for everyone – except the advertisers. This fun little gem has no ads.

The New Yorker - because there is something very old school in me that believes if you want to be a writer worth your weight in ink, you must at least know what’s on the front cover of this magazine.

And, yes, I have them all come to me in hard copy right to my mailbox. That way I am getting something besides bills. And, I can stick it in my purse in case I am stuck waiting somewhere, which almost always never happens. 8-)

Did I leave anything off the list? What are you reading when you aren’t writing?

Suzy’s Case by Andrew Siegel – a book review……

July 17, 2012

Over at A Reason To Read.….

photo from Amazon
http://www.Amazon.com

Not exactly “Thriller”……..

July 16, 2012

So my family went to see Cirque De Soleil’s Michael Jackson performance last night.

Ahem.

It was not at all what we expected.

We are lovers of Cirque De Soleil and of Michael Jackson’s music. Separately.

Together – Not. So. Much.

First of all, it is not a circus. It is a tribute concert. Yes, I would have loved to have known that several months ago when I decided family time was more important than college savings.

And to make it worse, it is a tribute concert with other people singing Michael Jackson’s music.

Ahem.

No one will ever sing his music as well as he did. It was a rookie mistake to even try. And their interpretations of many of his songs gave them a hard rock tilt. Ick.

Second of all, the show was minus the trademark “performance” aspect that has made Cirque De Soleil famous and, ahem, worth the money.

Speaking of money. This show is not cheap. At all.

The other things I did not like….

The bright stage light that shone directly in my eyes for about 5 minutes.

The fact that one of the men portraying the members of the Jackson 5 was Asian. Nope. Not kidding.

The pole dancer. (She was skilled but I have now paid – a lot of money – for my son’s first pole dance performance and have shown both of my daughters that you can in fact make a career out of that type of entertainment. Nope. Not fabulous.)

The gates to Neverland that took center stage for most of the first half of the show. Why even go there? It seemed in poor taste.

The very loud music.

The very large screens that constantly played videos that completely distracted from the human performers.

Just about everything else.

To quote the guy sitting next to us, “I could have paid $35 and seen that caliber of a show at Kings Dominion.” Ouch.

It wasn’t all horrible. There was an amazing disabled dancer. And a contortionist who contorted beautifully.

But that’s it.

We left at intermission and since it was 20 minutes long, we had plenty of time to skedaddle.

Another contest I didn’t win……….

July 11, 2012

Obscura Journal hosts a short-story contest where they provide two pictures and you bridge the gap between those photos.

I entered once before and did not win.

Well, I am nothing if not consistent. I didn’t win again. 8-)

But I don’t want my short little story to go to waste. So, I will share it with you.

Click here first to see the pictures (oh and I guess you can read the actual winner’s story if you must) …. then read on for my  interpretation of how those pictures make sense together.

Help Me

Thomas stumbled toward Ryan’s bed, leaned down, and shook his brother to wake him in the wee hours of a misty September morning. He raised his pointer finger toward his mouth and slowly uncurled it. Ryan started to speak but Thomas stopped him with his other hand, which reeked of marijuana smoke and cough medicine.

Ryan stretched his arms above his head and looked toward the retired milk crate next to his bed.  The hands on his grandfather’s watch revealed it was only 3:00 am. Ryan tilted his head, listening for the familiar sounds of sirens that often filled the night air. But this night was absent the common warning screech and Thomas’ urgency lost its logic. Ryan rubbed his eyes as Thomas searched for his brother’s shoes.  On the way out the front door, Thomas grabbed their sweatshirts and a crumpled brown grocery bag. Ryan grabbed his Rubik’s cube.

They marched through the hazy mist with Ryan leaning back into Thomas’ left-handed push. The older brother was agitated and frantic. As keys jangled in his free hand, he mumbled to himself something about “money, a lot of money” and “how was he going to get it”. He stopped twice under streetlights to look more closely at the keys on the large brass ring, refusing to answer questions or even look at Ryan.

Thomas only let go of his brother’s shoulder when they reached the doors to the library. After a quick scan of the area, Thomas unlocked the glass doors. He returned his grip on Ryan and ushered him over to the olive green couch in the empty reading room. Then he motioned for Ryan to sit down and threw the brown bag onto Ryan’s lap. Thomas immediately started pacing and Ryan nervously worked to solve the puzzle in his hands and in his thoughts.

He knew too well that nothing good ever came from Thomas’ pacing.

Behind them, a man in a striped suit with his jacket tightly buttoned flung the doors open and rushed toward Thomas. But Thomas stopped him just inside the threshold and whispered, “Not yet. Let me leave first.”

“Hey Ryan, I’ll be right back,” Thomas yelled over his left shoulder, as the man escorted him out with the same pushing motion that landed Ryan in the library’s lobby.

Ryan set aside his cube and squinted at the books on the wall. They were all so thick with lots of letters in their titles. Without his glasses he couldn’t be sure but he imagined there wouldn’t be a single picture among their dense pages. He wished he had brought his comic book. Curious, he turned his focus to the bag’s contents – a piece of charcoal, a sketch pad, and a soft green apple.

Thomas knew Ryan loved to draw. He even complimented his work when he wasn’t too busy pacing. Just as Ryan opened the pad and positioned the charcoal, an older man came in through the doors. He walked slowly over and joined Ryan on the couch. As the man started talking about the big wall of books, his dusty scent distracted Ryan and tickled his nose.

Just after Ryan sneezed, the old man pulled out a handkerchief. He covered Ryan’s face with it and Ryan fell asleep gripping the piece of charcoal. His sketchpad dropped easily to the floor.

When Ryan woke up, he found himself on at least the second floor of an abandoned building. He noticed the charcoal was beginning to stain his sweaty palms. In his imagination, the air smelled like home and he hoped it was close by. He scanned the opening to the room below hoping for Thomas but heard only mumbling from beneath the rickety staircase. Out of the corner of his eye, Ryan saw a rat scatter away with his apple. He dropped the charcoal as he screeched.

Instantly, heavy footsteps pounded on the staircase until a shadow appeared over Ryan. His shoulders curled as he scooted into the corner.

The man in the striped suit fanned a stack of money at Ryan’s face.

“Your brother’s a real hero. He owes us cash and he gives us you instead. Turns out you might be worth more anyhow.”

Ryan could barely breathe as the man crushed the charcoal with the toe of his black shoe. Then, chuckling, the man lowered his pudgy finger into the dust and mockingly wrote “Help Me” on the wall and turned to go back downstairs.

Laughter erupted when he returned to the older man below. Smoke rose through the holes in the stairs and Ryan grew increasingly nauseous. The morning sun shone through the slits in the dilapidated walls and shed light on the true horror of his situation.

The rusty hinges on the front door groaned and Ryan heard Thomas’ shaky voice declare, “I have the money. Give me back my brother.”

“Oh thank God,” Ryan thought, grateful that the worst possible truth might not be real and that his older brother could still be his hero.

And then he heard a crack, as the man in the striped suit bent Thomas’ arm backwards to prevent him from reaching the stairs, “No, actually the boy is better. We’re keeping him. Someone’s coming over in a few to check him out.”

Thomas stammered, “No. A deal’s a deal. I have the money.”

“That’s right,” the man agreed, “but you have a lot to learn about the rules. When you’re late, there’s hell to pay.”

The jovial tone of the men shifted when Thomas clicked the hammer on his freshly polished 45.

“Whoa, there. We outnumber you. Don’t do anything stupid.”

“This will fix the stupid that’s already been done.”

Ryan fainted when the third gunshot echoed up the stairs. He collapsed just a second too soon to hear his brother’s footsteps on the stairs and the man in the striped suit pleading, “Don’t just leave me here, man. Help me.”

Focus on the writing……..

July 3, 2012

This is a classic case of “do what I say, not what I do.” 

Those who have been following along on my writing journey know that I have been busy with the work of becoming an author.

I have already talked with two literary agents about my novel. This one gave me tons of advice.

My title is decided – The Alligator Purse.

I have artwork.

I have fabulous beta readers.

My synopsis is done – the long and short version.

And I have all of three and a half chapters written. Yes, I agree. That is not enough to call it a “book” yet.

Unfortunately, all of the other stuff has just been putting the pencil before the eraser. Because even after my story is “done”, I will need to edit and edit and edit some more.

But right now I still have tons of basic stuff to do. Like, I dunno, write the rest of the story. ;-)

If you aren’t writing your work in progress (known as WIP), you don’t really need a fabulous title, cover art, agents, or even an audience.

I have been struggling with building a platform and making connections and have forgotten why I started all of this in the first place.

So back to the grind. Arse in Seat here I come….

And then there was artwork………….

June 26, 2012

My mother-in-law is an artist – although, she would never tell you that.

She has always liked to draw, but it wasn’t until the past decade that she started taking her artwork seriously. She has taken classes and paints whenever she has the chance.

So, who better than to create artwork for The Alligator Purse?

My mother-in-law, right? I completely agree.

And this is why………….

Oh my, I didn’t expect that I needed a disclaimer…….

June 25, 2012

When I started telling people I am trying to write a novel, most people were very excited for me. They ask the story line. They congratulate me on being brave enough to tackle writing a book. Some even offer to read chapters for me.

It’s all very fun.

But then, just the other day, a neighbor asked me, “soooooo, are the characters based on anyone I know?”

I was actually startled by the question. The Alligator Purse is most assuredly fiction. Neighbors, friends, and relatives need not worry.

But I guess this is something that all writers should consider when working on their books. People will start to get nervous that you might uncover some deep dark secret about them and reveal it to the world. Or that you will exaggerate their quirks for a laugh.

I personally cannot imagine writing a “tell-all” type book. That tabloid mentality does not appeal to me.

But that doesn’t make this t-shirt any less funny. 8-) You can get it on Amazon.

So, if you know me, don’t worry. You won’t be in my book. At least not on purpose. ;-)

The scarlet T revisited………….

December 17, 2008

UPDATE: After hearing much discussion from my neighbors about the letters they have gotten re: their trash not being appropriately located – well, I jumped to assumptions on this one – it turns out that the person who was on my property is not on the HOA board and is apparently not employed by the HOA board either. (That might lead to another blog about why he was here, but probably not.) So, I apologize for making assumptions and I pledge to better place my trash can – I cannot promise anything on the Halloween decorations though. I do my best.  Really, I do. I am sure to get a scarlet letter of one sort or the other but it will not be an A (ever) and it apparently won’t be a T either.

You know I am always trying to look at the bright side – so I will say this – our HOA is attentive – they read my blog after all – they may not be fans – but they read it – at least once.

I THiNK My PRiNTeR JuST GeSTuReD uNKiNDLy aT Me…………

December 16, 2008

If you read my post “things I learned today”, you know that my printer and I have been having some problems. In fact, right now we are barely printerspeaking. Well, I am speaking – begging, pleading, offering high quality card stock – all to no avail.
The printer is just sitting there.
Very smugly. Not printing.

I sent several jobs to my printer today and it just decided all by itself not to print them. It did not even send me a little error message letting me know of this boycott. No smiling faces telling me to take a hike. No ding suggesting I should check out my screen to find out what is happening. Apparently, my printer is on strike and is much too rude to tell me so. Hmph.

All the jams are unjammed, all the latches are latched, and all the plugs are plugged – both into the wall AND into my laptop – what else could be wrong?

It turns out that my printer is hungry and needs ink. Duh. And, for just the cost of one cup of coffee a day (which I don’t drink), I should be able to feed my printer. Yes, Sally Struthers is channeling my printer. And it’s not that adorable little united nations ink cartridge that has all the colors mixed nicely into one box that my printer needs (you know the one, the inexpensive kind that is already in my closet) – oh no, it’s the separate cyan AND magenta individual cartridges kind of ink (I must not print much involving yellow because that cartridge is still half full). FYI, Cyan and Magenta are really blue and pink – seriously, do even our printers have to be pretentious? It’s not even a laser. Hmph again.ink-w-person

This means a trip to Costco – it’s the week before Christmas and all through the town, everyone and their brother are probably at Costco. And I am still in my pjs all snuggly warm right now. And there is supposed to be some sort of wintery mix outside involving (possibly) ice. No, my printer and I are clearly not destined to become BFFs. It will be lucky if we are even still living together at the end of the day.

I just sent another job to the printer – now full of some of the fanciest ink on the planet – caviar ink if you will – and it made some noises and then N.O.T.H.I.N.G. Augh. Now it is just being mean. I don’t have to stand for that, right?

So I sat down. And I deleted the printer from my control panel and reinstalled it – turned it off and turned it on. Wah lah – success. I am printing once again. I am sure that we can print and make up.

Update – this morning I turned on my printer and it spit out all the pages I had been trying to print yesterday – whatever.

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens………

December 15, 2008

Ever since I starting writing this blog, I have begun reading blogs. Some people find me and lead me to theirs – which is tres cool. And, sometimes I stumble onto a blog. I am not sure how the great universe of blog finding works and I wish I had all day to read, read, read. But, alas, life is busy with facebook and all, so I have to limit myself.

But I wanted to share some of the blogs I am following with you. Many of these blogs are written by adults for adults and it turns out if you use some bad (or at least interesting) words every now and then, you generate more traffic. So for my Sandy Duncan readers (translation – anyone who might be easily offended), put your seat belts on – some of the titles and their content might surprise you. (And, nope, I don’t agree with everything they say.)

My blogging BFF is Lola at Sassy Mama Says. She leaves me (a lot of) comments, so how can I not love her. And she is true to her name – SASSY! In fact, she is the recipient of my first ever blog award. Which is only fair, because she gave me my first and only (sniff sniff) award. Lola gets the “I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid award.” She promises not to run it over with her jeep. We’ll just have to wait and see if she can really keep that promise.

i-refuse-to-drink-the-kool-aid2

Next is Loco. He is a black American living in Japan teaching English. His blogs are long – but there is always a point. He has had a rough life and sometimes he comes across as pretty angry. But he is definitely worth reading. Especially as an American who is about to travel to distant lands. Since he is in Japan and is learning a lot, he gets the “ah, grasshopper” award.

ah-grasshopper

There are several Americans living in Delhi who write blogs. Mrs. Smith is one of them. She home schools her 7 kids – who, by the way, provide her with a lot of material. She inspires me because she can find the time to write. I have no (legitimate) excuses! She does not write as frequently as she used to, but her blogs make me very excited for our new adventure.

i-homeschool-7-kids

BadAssGeek gets my vote for a great blog title. It’s pretty BadAss. And he starts every post with “in which”. So, in Which I like his blog name, here is his award.

in-which1

There are some other blogs I really like too. I don’t know them well enough to award them yet, but I am definitely a fan.

Miss Disgrace – a young single parent with a great way of writing things

Black Hockey Jesus – As far as I can tell, he is neither black nor is he Jesus and his blog is really titled “Wind in Your Vagina” which is a quote from his 4-year-old daughter – it’s not meant to be vulgar (at least that’s the impression I get) – although I am sure his title attracts more traffic. If the title offends you, you should probably also know that he uses his imagination a lot – so if you are a literal reader – enter with care.

There are a few other blogs I check in on but they aren’t too busy posting  a lot – so when they start sharing more, I will tell you how to get a looksy at those too.

But for now, these are a few of my favorites things. And, no, I do not like it when the dog bites or the bee stings.

The Scarlet “T”………

December 15, 2008

UPDATE: After hearing much discussion from my neighbors about the letters they have gotten re: their trash not being appropriately located – well, I jumped to assumptions on this one – it turns out that the person who was on my property is not on the HOA board and is apparently not employed by the HOA board either. (That might lead to another blog about why he was here, but probably not.) So, I apologize for making assumptions and I pledge to better place my trash can – I cannot promise anything on the Halloween decorations though. I do my best.  Really, I do. I am sure to get a scarlet letter of one sort or the other but it will not be an A (ever) and it apparently won’t be a T either.

You know I am always trying to look at the bright side – so I will say this – our HOA is attentive – they read my blog after all – they may not be fans – but they read it – at least once.

belated boo……..

December 13, 2008

This blog is late – I do know that Halloween was well over a month ago, and I am just now posting about it. Sorry ’bout that – but I was not yet blogging at Halloween-time and these pictures are too fun to not share. And there is no way on God’s green earth that I will remember to share these at the appropriate time next year. Especially since I will be blogging from God’s brown earth in India where I am not even sure they celebrate Halloween.

I have also decided that blogging might be my new scrapbooking (I am too far behind on that to even dream about catching up – but blogging starts now – well, okay maybe a month before now – but I am already caught up – and I don’t want to not scrapbook blog these. I wouldn’t put all your boo’s in one basket – but lucky you. 8-) )

Anyboo -

This is Flower at Halloween.  A headless Flower nonetheless.

flower-standing

She made her own costume.

This is Bear on Halloween. He just got glasses. He is in 6th grade and is confident enough to turn his new eyes into a complete costume. Nerd bear. He also made his own costume. (and I want to add that he also has contacts – he did not have to wear his glasses on Halloween.)

img_36661

This is Angel the hip hop dancer on Halloween. She also made her own costume by putting on a hat and acting like a lunatic. Not too much of a stretch really.

img_3719

These were the best costumes my kids have ever had. They cost me a total of about $7.35. (And, don’t be surprised if I tell you that includes the bottle of wine I bought for myself. I made my own costume too – I went as the mother who got to stay home and pass out – I mean pass out candy – because she had three very generous parents shower her with temporary single-parent sympathy.)

Just so you know, I am never spending money on Halloween costumes again. (As for the wine, well it’s a consumable – it must be replaced. I am pretty sure that there is some diwine law of the universal that will confirm this.)

Things I learned today……

December 12, 2008

If you miss the white elephant gift exchange at your book club because your son is throwing up and you have to leave early, your friends will not pick the best gift for you out of sympathy. They will take it as an opportunity to get rid of share the gift that nobody wanted with you. Even if they pretend they are really sad when you leave early and promise to take care of you and your white elephant needs. At least I didn’t get my own gift back. Whew. (thanks Jill)

You could get a pretty nice set of ornaments though. And your daughter will steal them to put on the kids tree. There is no justice in this world sometimes.

Michele makes delicious Christmas candy and I can apparently eat an entire bag in one sitting all by my lonesome. Some things are better left unshared. Yum!

When my son is sick, he likes to be waited on hand and foot.

I do not miss being a waitress. Not even a little.

You should never open a bottle of Sprite that your seven-year-old hands you. No matter how cute her smile is. Never ever.

Sprite is sticky when it dries.

There are a lot of great writers out there in the world of blog.

I would like to visit Japan.

Envelopes with silver foil on the inside don’t feed through the printer so well  – at least not my printer – and I just happen to know my way around printing envelopes. And it did not matter how many different ways I tried it. Really.

My printer has a printer cartridge latch – I did not know that – now I do – and it must be shut. I am going to have to devote some time to figuring out what this is, where it is, and how to close it. I might be breaking up with my printer.

I am glad I did not try to make my Christmas cards this year. I can barely handle printing the envelopes. You’ll see.

Costco only gave me half the envelopes I ordered – even including the ones I totally demolished. That kind of stinks.

I really miss the people who are not on my list this year. I was very sad to delete the addresses for my Grandmother and my Great Aunt. RIP.

They both passed away before Christmas last year – but apparently I did not have it in me to delete them from the list just yet. I was not super close to either one of them but I miss the possibility of getting to know them better. My grandmother was very funny and I miss that  sense of humor of hers. A lot. She was funny, sometimes cranky, and always old. It’s a great combination (especially if you don’t live too close).

A lot of my friends moved this year.

I send out way too many Christmas cards.

My family really likes staying at home in our pjs on a very cold and very windy day with nothing to do but being waited on hand and foot.

Apparently my children have no problem whatsoever sitting in front of the tv for several hours – hours upon hours – that is, as long as food and drink are brought to them at regular intervals and placed directly in line with their peripheral vision – within reaching distance.

My cats do not like to go outside on very cold and very windy days. They are purrfectly intelligent little furballs.

The cats use the litter box more when they don’t go outside. Oh goody.

A nap would have been nice today. It did not happen.

I am no where near done with my Christmas shopping, but I do have a good handle on it.

My son’s stomach still hurts. Do you think it had anything to do with the chips and dip I let him have for dinner? Maybe that wasn’t a good idea. Hmmmmmm.

I think I really am going to have to reschedule that MothER of the Year ceremony. Bummer.

Oh yes, you know what happened next…..

December 12, 2008

Yep, I went to book club last night because Bear felt fine. All day long – he felt just fine. And I don’t get out much – so off I went. Thank you very much!

He made it through the whole day of school. No issues at all. He felt fine when he got home. He ate tacos for dinner with a nice big glass of milk. Yummy. (Note to self – I might need to rethink that meal selection whenever someone says they have a tummy ache. Hugs and Kisses honeybun. Sorry for that.)

I was there about an hour, eating very yummy scalloped potatoes and even better green beans and I got the call from my mother-in-law.

Bear just threw up. Twice.
I think he wants his mother. Now.
In fact, my mother-in-law wanted Bear’s mother home.
And now would be good for her too. Right Now.

Exit stage left.

So I sent number one hubby an email saying that I anticipated a long night – Bear was sick. Very sick. And I will call him in the morning when WE wake up. So, HE called us at 7am. Yeah. Thanks. Brilliant. I think I might have hung up on him. Ooops.

Bear feels better – well, Bear is very tired and his tummy muscles are sore. They got quite the work out last night. But he feels well enough to eat goldfish crackers and drink apple juice. He did not ask for tacos for breakfast. Shocking. He also feels well enough to play absolutely every Wii game we own – which isn’t many – but he is trying them all out.

As for me, well, I have a busy day ahead of me. I need to reschedule my MothER of the Year ceremony. Lots of details to coordinate.

My tummy hurts……………

December 11, 2008

That is what Bear said to me this morning.

And, just by the way and fyi, this is the morning that I am going to get all of my Christmas shopping done. Yep – all of it. I even have a list and coupons.

If you are a parent or ever had a parent, you might already know that these are words that most parents dread – really all parents dread these words whether they are working for a pay check or just working for the love of the job – especially on a school day – and even more so on a school day right before Christmas.

Now, Flower had her appendix out at 7 – it was an emergency – it was scary. So, I tend not to ignore tummy aches. They make me an intsy bit NERVOUS. Beyond my family’s history with tummy aches – there’s the whole throwing up thing – which isn’t so bad for the person who is just doing the hand holding – but then it has to be cleaned up – I know – GROSS! And the other option really isn’t any better.

But – TODAY – honey, really? How bad does it hurt? I dunno.

Bear crawled in bed with me – now, I have to say that was nice. He let me rub his back and his tummy and he actually snuggled – isn’t he good to me! Don’t forget he is a 6th grader so these moments are rare – and I will take them absolutely any way I can get them – even if he has to suffer a little.

We tried all the tricks – go to the bathroom – a glass of water – go to the bathroom – take some medicine – go back to the bathroom. Then he asked if he could turn on the t.v. – progress. He feels well enough to hold his head up to watch t.v. This could be okay.

Yep – then he asked if he could take a shower – he felt well enough to walk. Yippee. (Totally unrelated – It was funny that while he was in the shower he asked me if he should wash his hair. Kids ask the funniest questions – well, let’s see – it’s already wet, the shampoo is right there, you could have washed it in the time you asked if you should wash it – I’d go with yes, go ahead and wash your hair.) Then he was able to get dressed and he asked for breakfast – watch out school bus, here we come.

He never had a fever and never got sick. He just woke up on the wrong side of feeling good. But a shower, a bagel, and a couple little trips to the bathroom made everything better. He knows my cell number – I will never be more than 10 minutes away from his school – he can call me anytime and he knows that. So, later spater – I am off to play Santa.

And, one more by the way, it’s raining like crazy today – this should be fun.

The pen is not always mightier…….

December 10, 2008

NASA, knowing that astronauts would need to write in space, spent millions of dollars inventing a pen that would write in zero gravity. And invent it they did.pencil-fat-with-squiggle

Russia – well, they used a pencil.

I have not verified this story because I am not even sure how I could. I know NASA does not have a blog marked “Oops” or a top ten list of things they learned not to do while spending tax payer money. It ain’t gonna happen.

But, I also have not even tried to verify it because I want it to be true. It is a great story of lessons learned – and forget Aesop’s fables – we can learn so many lessons right in the here and now – and all without even trying to convince ourselves that a fox would actually want grapes in the first place – with all due respect Mr. Aesop – that one was a stretch.

I can even imagine the planning sessions where the scientists were all taking notes in pencil and writing on the chalk board. I am quite sure someone even suggested that the answer must be right there in front of them. It can’t be that hard. Really, I can hear them saying it. Scratching their head with the end of the pencils. Sharpening them while thinking of new ideas. Erasing the ideas that did not work so well. They might have even said – well, that didn’t work, back to the drawing board. I wonder if they drew and colored space ships with their kids at the end of the day – with crayons. Hmmmmm. Maybe little Johnny is on to something.

And I do not see this at all as a criticism of Americans – I think it highlights our strengths. We are a smart, determined, well-resourced group that can solve just about anything. But I think sometimes we need to remember we don’t have to invent a new pen when a pencil will do.

Note: It turns out that regular pencils proved to be dangerous in space because they could catch on fire (details) and that the space pens (after the initial investment of a lot of money to invent them) were actually cheaper to purchase than the mechanical pencils NASA was using instead of regular pencils. Whatever – that is not the point. (get it – not the point?? I crack myself up – really – that was a good one.)

We interrupt this blog for an important bulletin…..

December 8, 2008

For a number of reasons, the kids and I will now be leaving for India right around February 1.

As I sit watching…..

December 8, 2008

As I sit watching……they swim….

Some people think that we are crazy for participating in year-round swimming. (No, we aren’t the get up at 4:30am and practice before school kind of crazy – but we swim year-round in addition to soccer, basketball, dance – and, oh yeah, this little thing called school.) I can see why they think we are insane – it’s one more thing that we add to a list of many other things to do. But it’s one more thing we love!

Swimming is fabulous for a million different reasons and we loved it before we ever heard of Michael Phelps. Yes, my friend, we were country when country wasn’t cool. (Although, I have to admit, Mr. Phelps does make us love it even more.)

I love swimming because just about anyone can do it! When we go to practice, we see all kinds of people swimming in the exercise (aka lap) lanes. There is a man that I swear weighs 600 pounds – at least – and he swims ( yep, “swims”, not floats) for a solid hour. He is not fast – but let me just say, he is faster than I would be – and a lot faster than the bench is that I sit on as I watch him swim. There are women that just might be older than 100 (not really, but close). There are little babies splashing around. It is a universal sport. And, yes, it is a sport. And, a sport, that if you learn how to do it, just might save your life one day – how can you argue with that?

I have no delusion that my kids will be going to college on swimming scholarships – frankly, that is not the point for us. I hope that they love swimming enough to continue doing it at some level for the rest of their lives.

I love the team aspect of swimming. Being on a team with kids of all ages is a wonderful experience. There are relays and practices with kids of all abilities and ages. You can cheer for your teammates and swim with them. But you also swim in races against them. This is a unique aspect of swimming – you are teammates and competitors. You can be happy for your opponent and inspired by them to do better.  The team part of it is what keeps Bear most interested in swimming. He loves the relays. And if he earns himself a spot on a relay team – all is right with the world.

Swimming is also the only sport in which all three of my children can be on the same team and participate in the same meets and practices. Swimming is great like that. Their practices are at nearly the same time and are at the same place. It’s a 3-fer! Bonus.

Next, swimming is a black and white sport. The coach does not have to like you for you to swim or for you to qualify for a meet. No one has to pass you the ball in order for you to score. This is a beautiful thing. It is about you and the wall – and how fast you can get yourself to that wall. Even if you are the slowest, most awkward swimmer on the team, you can realize your own improvement in a measured way. If your time drops, you have gotten better – wah lah!!!!!!! Be proud, be very proud.

And it is about rules and procedures – a gentleman’s game if you will – you wait in the water until everyone is done swimming – no matter how long you have to wait – you wait. You shake hands at the end of your heat. You have to swim the strokes technically correct or your times don’t count – except freestyle – even I might be able to squeak that one out without disqualifying. But nothing is given – it is all earned. What a concept.

If you improve your time – excellent. If you keep your time consistent – very good for you (for that can be hard to do). If you add a lot of time – well, reality bites – you have to sort that one out for yourself. The how and the why of it and if it really matters to you at all. No hand holding here.

And if you want to get better – guess what YOU have to do – work harder. No one can do it for you – not even your mom – no matter how much she wants to. Awesome.  (And a note to parents, myself included, the kids are submerged in water with a cap over their ears. They can’t hear us screaming at them cheering for them. And for those of you who whistle – stop it. No seriously, I mean it. Stop it.)

And, of course, it is great exercise. Swim for an hour – you are tired. Benadryl beware – you are about to be knocked out of contention as the number one sleep aid for tired parents who need their kids to sleep  just a little.

Another fabulous thing is that swimming is a two-year sport. You are in it for the long haul. Swimmers swim in age groups – 8 and under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and then finally 15-18 (yes, that must become a real test of commitment). You get a year at the top of the age bracket – and then – humble pie – a year at the bottom. It is not sprint – but a marathon. Stick with it and you’ll be very, very glad you did.

Let’s not forget that it is also wonderful cross training for any other sport. And it is a low impact sport – not too many injuries. Bonus. Bonus.

So, call me crazy – but I am off to the pool – and yes, in the winter, it is an indoor pool. Outdoor anything in the winter is a deal breaker for this taxi driver/ cheerleader they call mom.

Note: If you live near Washington, D.C. and have any interest in trying year-round swimming, the Potomac Marlins are great. You can check them out at www.potomacmarlins.com. Tell them I sent you!

And the stockings were hung…..

December 6, 2008

This year, when I think of the gifts I want to give my kids, I don’t think of what I can wrap and put under the tree. I think of confidence…laughter (not to be confused with happiness, they have to find that for themselves)…integrity…love… security…determination. Gifts I can wrap around their hearts – gifts that can seep into their personalities. Gifts that can help them understand their potential (not realize their potential, but understand that they have it, – again, realizing it is up to them) – gifts that will shape who they are going to become.christmas-sprig-with-cranberries

I am realizing that as they get older, I have a chance to mature and focus.

That is their gift to me – perspective.

This year, it’s going to be hard for us to give them tangible (translation – material) gifts. Which is a gift in and of itself. So, Number One Hubby and I decided to give them the gift of family, amazement, memories, and laughter. It is a gift we are re-gifting – a gift our families have given to us.

We took them to see Cirque De Soleil.

We went to dinner first and just simply caught up with each other. It was lovely. We had lots of time – no rushing. Then off to the circus. We were dazzled, amused, amazed, and very much entertained. We laughed the whole way home as we recounted our favorite parts and marveled at how the artists managed to do any of what they did – right before our eyes.

The circus was fabulous and we would highly, highly recommend it. But that wasn’t the gift. It was the time together. The memories and the laughter. We created wonderful memories that I know will last at least a lifetime. Maybe memories that will even last thru generations, I can hear them now…….remember when we all went to the circus…. and then, prayerfully, later to their own children, when I was your age………………………..Now those are gifts worth giving.

More reason I miss Mr. W………….

December 5, 2008

6th grade math.
(Yes, this is a repeat, but not because I am lazy, but because it’s not getting any easier.)

Mr. W lets me sleep in.
(I had completely forgotten about this one – but it is a big one.)

Number One Hubby let me sleep in while he was home for Thanksgiving. And, while I slept all nestled in my bed, he and the kids decorated the house for Christmas and hug the stockings by the chimney with (out) care. He is good like that. That is why you might see mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe.

On the other mornings that he would let me sleep in, Mr. W would make the lunches for school, get the kids breakfast and then take them to the bus stop. Have you been to a bus stop in the morning lately? Baby, it’s cold outside. Today I learned that 2 degrees Celsius equals about 36 degrees Fahrenheit. (I also learned how to spell Celsius and Fahrenheit.)

Maybe I am not so big on spelling either.

Have a mentioned that I am not a morning person?

Our dishwasher has this unique (translation…..unnecessary) feature that allows you to actually turn it off. Not just have it not running – but truly turn it off – like a light. Mr. W feels that it saves on our electricity bill to turn off the power (what about the over 100 recessed lights you had installed, honey – oh, I forgot, that’s different -never mind). So, every time I filled the dishwasher (no, he didn’t do that – he didn’t want me to miss him too much) I would have to wait for the dishwasher to “initiate” before I could start it. It was annoying. Now, I miss that part of my day and I think of him every time I run the dishwasher.

I bought 2 white t-shirts and 1 off-white t-shirt yesterday. Mr. W would laugh at that. More white shirts? He would laugh. I miss sharing the tiny details of the day with him that never quite make it into our phone conversations.

He does know I bought Christmas dishes. He also knows I did not need Christmas dishes. But he does not care because he knows I really love Christmas dishes – even if we might not use them for the next two years. He is probably laughing at me for that too. Or maybe I should say laughing with me. ;-) (And, yes they are also white.)

My prayer list has gotten so long that it’s hard to remember it all. And now I find it necessary to pray every night.

Sleeping alone still stinks.
(Also a repeat – but a self-explanatory repeat, I believe.)

Cool Rider……..

December 4, 2008

Grease was a great movie – but Grease 2 now that is a classic. Michelle Pfieffer probably does not brag about playing Stephanie Zinone but she was great and I love, love, loved the song “Cool Rider”. We even played it at our last birthday party. Cooooool Rider, cool, cool, cool, rider…………………..

swimming-204
Number One Hubby used to own a motorcycle. It was pretty cool – as far as motorcycles go. And I know he would admit that I did not give him a hard time about owning, or for that matter, riding it. He actually spent more time working on it than riding it. He’s a smart guy – he took the whole thing apart – sent parts out to be chromed, painted, and jazzed up in one way or another. Then, by his lonesome, put the whole thing back together. Amazing. Very impressive.

Oh yeah – there was the one little issue with the brakes – but he got that fixed. Apparently, he didn’t quite put those together exactly right. Details.

I even rode on it ONCE (before he took it apart). However, I am not a big fan of my kids parents both being on a motorcycle at the same time. Call me boring – but it’s just not worth it. So you can imagine how I feel about moving to India right at this moment.

Still no decisions…

No more -ER………….

December 3, 2008

I am going to distract myself from making quite possibly the biggest decision I have ever made and vent a little.

You all know someone pERfect like the lady I ran into on Monday – they are pERfect, their husbands are pERfect, their kids are pERfect, their house is pERfect, their life is pERfect, even the plaque in their teeth is pERfect (oh nevermind – they don’t get plaque) and they make us craziER than anyone else. I have a “friend” like this. And I had the good fortune to see her earlier this week. Oh lucky, lucky me. That will remind me not to stray too far from home again.

She honestly told me how much bettER her kids were than mine at, well, simply evERything. She did not exactly say it – she is a mastER at trying to be subtle while bragging, but I am very good at reading between the lines – thank you vERy much. And, I know when you say that it’s too bad my daughter did not receive the Nobel Prize for litERature at the young age of 9 (oh honey, she still has plenty of time), but you must be off to buy a new outfit for your own child’s cERemony – I get it – I am pERfectly insulted.

And, FYI, I happen to think my own kids are pretty great – it’s my job –  so hER sitting next to me and telling me that hER kids were bettER at evERything on the planet than my frumpy little ragdolls – well it might be a little tough to keep my new year’s resolution of not hating the people who drive me pERfectly insane. And it made it even hardER to keep my good sense about me and not push hER down and take hER lunch money to give to some poor child who was less pERfect but hungriER than her own lovely offspring.  ERRRRRRRRRR is right!

And, don’t worry, she is not from my neighborhood. She doesn’t have time to read my blog – well, between the MENSA classes for her two-year-old and the upcoming space flight for her other little blob of pERfection and hER own vERy important job of telling absolutely evERyone how wondERful her children are, she simply does not have time for my silly little blog. Oh, believe you me, the world would stop spinning if she stopped talking about hER own children long enough to actually read about someone else’s kids – yeah – it is not going to happen. No one will be able to figure out who she is. (And no detective, she is not one of my Facebook friends.)

So anyway, I was watching Oprah not too long ago and Oprah was talking with women who have read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. These were woman who actually chose this book to read because they realize they are far from pERfect and they wanted to find ways to bettER themselves. I liked them already.

And, there was a woman who read the book and decided to stop trying to be any more “ER” than anyone else. She was not going to try to be prettiER, richER, skinniER, smartER or anything else more than anyone. She lost some weight because she stopped obsessing about what she looked like compared to other people, she enjoyed spending time more with her kids because she wasn’t worried about how they compared to other kids, and, in general, life just got easiER.

So I am going to try it – I am not going to be more ER than anyone else. Well, except maybe nicER than my sweet, misguided friend mentioned above. Dang, have I lost my focus already? ERRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Message from the Director….

December 2, 2008

When all the recent excitement in India began, I immediately started logging on every day to the American Embassy School website – hoping for guidance, looking for an enhanced security plan, and really just stumbling in the dark for security assurances. Well, their website was under construction – perfect! But I kept checking and today I found this message from the Director…

Dear Parents and Colleagues,

Recently I had the privilege of hearing former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair speak on the condition of the world.  He emphasized that the battle against terr*rism cannot be won with better security alone; that more important is the teaching of tolerance through an education that values cultural diversity.  This is why our mission of  “enabling responsible global citizens” is so important.  Someone once said that the last person to know why humans kill one another died a long time ago, leaving us without an answer.  AES exists to prepare young people to create a better world.  Each day we see that possibility here at school and in our community.  These children, being educated with children from around the world, truly represent hope for a better tomorrow.  Perhaps they will learn the “language of sleep.”

When They Sleep ~ by Rolf Jacobsen

All people are children when they sleep.
There’s no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.

They pucker their lips like small children
and open  their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when  no one will do anybody harm.

If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would drift in.
—- God, teach me the language of sleep.

Thank you for your continued support through these troubling times. It is a privilege to serve this wonderful community.

Sincerely,
Bob Hetzel
Director

Note from me –  There was another b*mbing today in India – on a train – so far, 3 people are dead and about 30 injured – if you are interested in more details – follow this link. Number One Hubby is not in India this week. This b*mbing occurred far to the west of Delhi on the other side of Bangladesh. It does not appear related to the events in Mumbai. Apparently, these terr*rists were not sleeping. It’s really too bad – a little nap would do us all some good.

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four…

December 1, 2008
tags: ,

Remember when decisions were that easy? When you had to make choices, you just had to know how many pieces of bubble gum someone wished. And “olly olly oxen free” meant everyone was safe. It was that simple. We’re done playing, it’s getting dark, time for dinner – olly olly oxen free. And if that didn’t work, there was the famous 8 ball – it knew everything. (And, the best part was, if you didn’t like the answer – just shake it again.)

Okay – I just went on Wikipedia to make sure I was spelling Olly Olly Oxen Free right and found this out…

The exact origin of the phrase is unknown, but etymologists suspect it is a childish corruption of the German “Alle, alle auch sind frei!”, (literally, “Everyone, everyone also is free!”), which is purported to have been a cruel joke often played upon Holocaust victims by their jailers. At any particular time, a prisoner might be released, immediately upon which the phrase would be shouted. Any other prisoners who also left would be killed further down the road by Nazi soldiers.

Again, I just don’t know what to say.

Back to my dilemma. Number One Hubby and I have had a few discussions. We didn’t make any real progress. I am more aware of geography, politics, religion, and conflict than I ever imagined I would be. I am actually reading the newspaper now. I learned how to share the evil of the world with my sweet children without scaring the beejesus out of them. And I still do not know what to do.

P.S. and, yes, I tried the 8 ball – it just keeps getting stuck on an edge – no help whatsoever.

Dan Quayle watch out…

November 30, 2008

Recent world events have given me reason to consider stop writing this blog. But it’s been a lot of fun and I am not ready to throw in the pen just yet. So, you will begin to notice that there will be some things misspelled or spelled in strange ways. Forgive me. And Dan Quayle – watch out. I am going to put that whole potato”e” controversy to shame!

And names will never be accurate. Locations are likely to be misleading.

In future posts, you’ll see what I mean – and I have corrected my naivete in some earlier posts. I get to put my creativity to use in a whole new way. Poetic license just got a whole new meaning. I hope you will continue to enjoy following my blog – and if you have questions, just ask! /me

if it walks like an ostrich, talks like an ostrich…

November 28, 2008

And sticks her head in the sand like an ostrich – Yep, I am going to keep my head in the sand for one more day. So this post has absolutely nothing to do with India.

Rock on Angel…

Yes, that is a picture of Angel with the brand new pink ELECTRIC guitar my mother-in-law just gave her for her birthday. They went out for Chinese food and then shopping together to pick out her present. I can hear the collective sigh from all of you weighing heavy in the air. What was she thinking? And yes, there was even momentary talk of including an amplifier but Bear figured out the guitar took batteries – no amplifier needed.

But please, no pity here.

img_5011

Our house has a basement – she can play it there. 8-) Seriously though, she LOVES it. She has already written at least 6 songs. They are all about Pooh Bear and the lyrics – well, they’re pretty much the same. (I get it – he is really cute. But she found 6 different ways to say it.) Tracy Chapman need not worry. No grammies will be stolen away this year.

Last night, after Thanksgiving dinner, the kids all performed a concert of sorts. Our little twin nieces banged on handmade tambourines, Flower played her recorder and her viola, Bear and our nephew banged the top of a plastic laundry basket (hey, a drum by any other name would sound as loud), and Angel rocked on with her pink electric guitar. And we all sang jingle bells together. It was a beautiful thing. So thank you Oma and Angel – Rock On!

I hardly know what to say…

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. And today I am most thankful that number one hubby is here safe and sound on American soil. We enjoyed Cirque De Soleil last night with a new appreciation for the safety of the good old USA. It was a nice distraction – we enjoyed a very slow dinner without watching the news. We disappeared in to the laughter of the crowds. It was magical and it took us completely away from our worries.

Right now our children are blissfully unaware of what happened yesterday in India. We are enjoying cooking with them and are looking forward to having our family here to hold hands and say a Thanksgiving blessing before dinner. We are especially grateful that number one hubby’s brother will be joining us after serving in Iraq for 15 long months. We are more appreciative of that service now than ever.

We are thankful for your prayers and well wishes. And, we are going to enjoy the luxury of putting the madness of yesterday to the side to bask in the best America has to offer – family, too much food, football, and the peace and quiet of our little street.

Surely, we have decisions to make – but thankfully, they can wait until tomorrow.

Now I lay me down to sleep….

November 26, 2008

Many nights, I will be honest, not every night, but many nights I say a prayer before I go to sleep. It’s always silently and it’s always while I am laying down with my eyes closed. And it usually while I am trying to get warm.

Somewhere along the way, I must have been taught that prayer time was really meant to be a time to be thankful.  I remember when I was younger (even up until high school, and probably even college), I would thank God for all the animals I ever owned. I could still recite you the list. I won’t bore you with it – but I could.

Even the goldfish that I won at the fair – who sadly did not live to see his first birthday – was included in that list for decades. You probably know that game that you play by tossing the ping pong ball into the field of glass bowls – if yours landed in a bowl with a fish – wah lah – you have a new pet. It is the stuff that Dr. Suess books are made of  – one fish, two fish. Anyway, I named mine Fred. And, I thanked God for him for many, many years.

Now, when I pray, I am not so worried about the pets. But I do pray for anyone traveling, anyone alone, anyone scared, anyone ill, and anyone who is not with us anymore. It is a weird combination of things. But it is my little mix of concerns for the world. A reminder to myself that I am not the only one with issues and that, really, my issues ain’t so bad.

This mantra of mine started when my husband started traveling more for work. I am not a big fan of flying (yeah – good thing I am moving to India) but I am even less of a fan of Number One Hubby flying. So when he started flying pretty frequently, I started praying more.

I am not Catholic – so I am not sure why I felt guilty about praying just for him – but it felt selfish. So, I started including anyone who was traveling – not just my hubby. Then my father-in-law got cancer and I started including anyone who was sick, not just my father-in-law. You can see my neurosis at work.

So, this Thanksgiving my night-time prayer will once again include many well wishes for those with concerns in this world and an extra thanks for all of my blessings.

Yesterday, my clever little Bear came home and showed me something he learned at school. He held up a glass with slurpee in it and said, “is this glass half-full or half-empty.” Bear, my dear, it is very much half-full – and it tastes yummy too – see how lucky I am.

I am off to count my blessings and to say a prayer that you have many blessings too. Happy Turkey Day – gobble gobble.

On the way to DMV…

November 25, 2008

Several years ago, not too terribly long after I quit working (translation – still worked my butt off but quit receiving a paycheck for said work) and shortly after Sept. 11th, I lost my drivers license. If there ever was a time to not lose your drivers license, I can assure you this was pretty much it.

juniper images

juniper images

I am guessing that it is likely a universal truth that at every DMV you need two forms of identification to replace your drivers license – and at least one should have your picture and the President’s signature notarized in triplicate – thank you very much. Let’s see – I lost my id with a picture (that’s why went to the DMV) – and I used to have a badge for work, but I turned in my employment badge with a picture – yep – when I quit receiving a paycheck. So, up to the line I go. I had my social security card, which I knew would not count, and my birth certificate, which even if it had a picture, it would not have been a recent one. And, apparently foot prints don’t count either. Who knew?

The clerk, as I will politely refer to him, was not impressed with the baby stroller and my tale of woe. But he was willing to help – or so he pretended. “Let’s see ma’am, maybe you have a pay statement with your social security number in addition to your birth certificate.” Yeah – not so much – remember I quit getting paid for my work. “How about a tax return?” Yeah – also not so much – my husband’s pay information is on that – remember – I don’t get paid anymore. And not for nothing – those are not documents that I normally just happen to have on me. If you need a Cheerio or a goldfish cracker – I can help you with that.

“Oh, I see.” I confused this pause with empathy. He quickly corrected my misinterpretation by saying, “well, ma’am (which made me feel old – great – this just keeps getting better) why did you quit work in the first place? You know those kids aren’t going to appreciate it anyway. You would have been better off staying at work. And, you know, we have to be very careful THESE days. You never know who is plotting what.”

Okay, I know stereotyping is bad – but look if you know me, you know I don’t exactly fit the profile of a terr*rist.  Seriously, if I was a terr*rist, I would not be in the DMV line in the mall with a baby and a stroller. I would have my underlings make me any id I wanted and I would have gladly denied myself the two hours of sheer pleasure I got that day.

I turned around and looked at the sign behind me. It still said DMV – but apparently our DMV now provided career and parental counseling. Well, isn’t this my lucky day?

My former working self would have demanded to speak to the manager. I would have explained that this is no way for me to be treated. I would have been furious – and, of course, if I had still been working, I probably would not have been insulted in the first place. But, I needed a drivers license and I could tell he was considering giving me one. Bastard. He was cracking. And I left with drivers license in hand.

Fast forward to this week at the bus. Flower had left her viola at home. She realized it at the last minute at the bus stop. She got on the bus and then she had the bus driver stop – she actually got off the bus with tears in her eyes and pleaded with me to bring her instrument to school. I did. (Usually I would say “too bad” but they were practicing on a different day that week than they normally did.)

That afternoon, she got off the bus and ran up and hugged me – really hard. And said, “Mommy, thank you so much for bringing my viola to school.” Huge smile on her face – and then mine. First of all, it melts my heart when my kids say Mommy. And, then she thanked me totally unprompted. Take that, Mr. DMV clerk – and to hell with a paycheck – there are some things money really cannot buy.

Sugarplum fairies danced in my head…

November 24, 2008

This weekend Flower and Angel danced in the Nutcracker. It was called “Nutcracker in a Nutshell – All Jazzed Up.” If you ever get a chance to see this version – do – it’s shorter – it’s sassier (translation – not too heavy on the ballet) – it’s a win all around.

Flower was a Hip Hopper (I told you, it’s not your grandmother’s Nutcracker)

img_4760

and a Mirliton (ribbon dancer – don’t worry, I had to look it up when they announced her part – you’re not alone on this one).

Angel was a Bon Bon and a Chinese (some things are still recognizable).

img_47211

And of course, they were great – and blah blah blah. I will not bore you with every little detail of their performance – I have the DVD if you insist on seeing just how great they were. However, …

My girls are similar in a lot of ways. But, this weekend I was privy to another one of their differences.

Apparently at the end of each performance, all of the dancers line up at the bottom of the stage to sign autographs. And, many of the people there knew just what they were doing. (Something about tradition – after every show – shhhhh, don’t tell the newbies) Clearly, I did not know about this little “after show” arrangement. DANG! Bear and I just sort of sat in our seats as the crowds dispersed and wondered what in the heck Angel was still doing up on stage. Angel was standing near the row of dancers in the front who were signing autographs – she stood there very patiently waiting for someone, anyone to ask her to sign their program.

Bueller, Bueller.

Not realizing what was happening, I hurried her to get moving.

Now, it’s not that I don’t love the Nutcracker and it’s certainly not that I did not love absolutely every second of them being on stage – I did! But, I also sat in the parking lot for hours with a very bored Bear while they practiced every Saturday afternoon for the past 3 months and then I sat through the 4+ hour dress rehearsal. I even arrived an hour and a half early for both performances to make sure I had great seats with my general admission ticket (those of you who know me can stopped laughing now).

And then I sat through performance number one – knowing full well that performance number two was on the horizon. I clapped until my hands hurt – I took a million pictures – my heart swelled with pride – and when it was done, well, I was sort of ready to go home. We’re doing this all again tomorrow, right? Let’s go.

Angel cried. OMG she cried. “No one even got the chance to get my autograph.” Huh? Really? Sweetie, you were the best Bon Bon ever on this planet and a great Chinese dancer, but, honey, most people want to get autographs from Clara and the Nutcracker and the Snow Fairy – you know, the leads – aka, the stars of the show.

“No, mommy, they would have wanted mine too if I had just been there long enough.” Okay then.

Forget the 529 for college savings – it’s all going to the therapy fund as of now.

She cried again going to bed. A lot. I felt terrible and a little amazed by her insistence that the world had been cheated. Note to self – cancel self-esteem classes. Instead, sign Angel up as the instructor.

Now, Flower, she came down right after the performance and did not even try to sign autographs. She didn’t see the point. She did not want to get or give any signatures on her program – thank you very much. It was very fun – but I am done here and there is a Burger King cheeseburger with my name on it somewhere close by. Let’s go. That’s my girl!

Lucky for me, Sunday’s performance was attended by grandparents. Now, I know why they are called “grand”. I shared my little story with them and they stepped up to the plate stage! When the show was over, Flower and Angel came down to thank them for coming and they, with pen in hand, asked for their autographs. They both complied with big smiles on their faces. It was kind of magical. Definitely worth the price of admission and the hour and a half wait in line and the practices on Saturday and learning how to put their hair in an “official” Nutcracker-worthy bun and, and, and …..

img_4965

img_4972

Afterwards, Flower went to change. Apparently she felt sufficiently famous.

Angel – well, she marched her little Bon Bon self right back up on that stage – and wouldn’t you know it, two people (without any prodding from me whatsoever) asked her for her autograph. Little ole Angel with her little ole Bon Bon part. No more tears were shed. By her or me.

Skype, Skype, baby…

November 23, 2008

Do you know about this service – first of all – it’s free – yippee – and second of all, it basically lets you talk via the computer with anyone else with a computer (think conference call) – yep, no matter where they are. Even in India. And, if both parties have a camera on their computer (and are willing to turn it on), you can see who you are talking to (think video conference call). It’s very cool. And it is why I can still remember what number one hubby looks like. ;-)

Anywho, you can subscribe to the service (did I mention, it’s free) at www.skype.com. If you decide to sign up, please let me know your contacts login – we can keep up!

On another note – I added a subscription link to my blog – it’s on the top of the column on the left-hand side (it’s under the heading “subscribe to this blog” – yes, I am very clever). If you click on the link and enter your email address – you will get an email when I add a post. You will have to confirm your subscription in your email – it’s easy, schmeasy to do. And, that way, you won’t miss a thing!