Thursday, August 28, 2008


Daily Stats:
Words: shouldn't it be Friday already?
Caffeine: morning cup so far
Evil Calories: I'm amping up for this weekend...we're having a bbq and I'm making cupcakes.
Reality TV: DVR'd finale of Sheer Genius (don't tell me who won!)

First, I apologize for taking so long with my next installment of "Tell Me What To Do". You must understand that the creative process is a fickle little thing, and cannot be manipulated or bribed with chocolate.

Okay, though that's true, the REAL reason it's taken me so long is because my computer is the biggest piece of poo ever in the history of time, and if I EVER stumble upon an extra $2K I will promptly run it over with my car, put the remains in a blender and burn the rest!

I was knee deep in the prompt from my devoted reader Rags, probably a good six paragraphs in, when my computer froze. Of course I had to shut it down, and when it rebooted, guess what it didn't save? Then I had to spend the rest of the day banging my head against the wall.

So, last night I accepted defeat and rewrote it the best I could. So, here it is!

The original prompt from Rags was:

We were together for 7 years, and I miss him. No. I miss what he was. By the end, it was torture to be with someone who resembles the man you love, but, quite simply, wasn’t him.

Rags had also mentioned that this was a true story, so I hope I've done it a little bit of justice.

Now, again, my disclaimer, it's in "bag of poo" stage, hasn't been edited, and I wrote it during the commercial breaks of last night's Project Runway (so if there's a "make it work" in there, you'll know why.)

We were together for 7 years, and I miss him. No. I miss what he was. By the end, it was torture to be with someone who resembles the man you love, but, quite simply, wasn’t him.

It all fell apart at Winslow’s Christmas Tree Lot. Our futile attempt to make it through the holidays. I huddled close to an enormous Fraser Fir, trying to shield myself from the wind, as Jason stood picking at a Blue Spruce with his phone plastered to his ear. Any moment he would look over, see me shivering; see my eyes watering and my cheeks turning an alarming shade of red, and he’d rush over and wrap himself around me.

It must’ve been the Fraser’s upward turning branches giving me a spark of optimism. It certainly wasn’t Jason’s demeanor. He was assuming his usual rigid stance, keeping his distance, letting the space between us breathe. Gasp. Choke.

I wiped my watering eye on my shoulder and stuffed both my hands into one glove. I used to be worth keeping warm. I used to be worth hugs and silly grins, phone calls at work making sure my day hadn’t gone pear shaped, homemade spaghetti dinners and late night emergency Cherry Garcia runs. But that was someone else. That wasn’t the man in front of me. This man may have looked like Jason. Vaguely sounded like Jason. But it wasn’t him.

It was like the man I met and fell in love with seven years ago went out for coffee one morning and never came back. In his place was an impostor who was trying to continue with Jason’s life. Only he forgot to upload the “Katie” file. The new Jason knew he was supposed to love listening to the Pixies and eating mustard on his burgers, but he didn’t know that he was supposed to love me.

A man stuffed into a pair of overalls approached and asked if I needed help with a tree. I looked over at Jason. He’d finally closed his phone, but continued to pick at the frosty needles of the Spruce.

“I think we’re still looking,” I told the man, trying to sound convincing, as if “we” were even looking. As if there was even a “we”.

The man left just as Jason finally let up on the poor Spruce. “Can we hurry this up? It’s fucking freezing out here.”

“I know, look.” I held out my one glove.

He glanced at it quickly, then resumed his fidgeting, this time with the button on his coat. The old Jason would have found that funny. He would have laughed, taken my hands and tried to warm them with his breath. He would have called back the man in the overalls and we would make a quick decision right then and there, just so he could get me back in the car to get warm. And we would end up with some poor, sad little Charlie Brown tree, but we would love it anyway, and we’d decorate it with strings of popcorn and candy canes, and we’d use all our presents to each other to prop up the branches. We’d keep it in the apartment far too many weeks after Christmas because we wouldn’t be able to bring ourselves to let it go.

“Earth to Katie,” he said, waving his hand in front of my face. “I’m going to wait in the car, just get whatever you want.”

He turned, grazing the branch of Spruce. I watched as a handful of cool blue needles tumbled to the ground and blew around in tiny circles. The branch was now completely bare, sagging from the weight of the other branches. I pulled my hands out of my one glove, left the safety of the Fraser Fir, and followed him to the car.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

buy a brain

Daily Stats:
Words: 1000
Caffeine: morning cup + midmorning cappuccino
Evil Calories: scones (yes, again. I'm addicted. Shut up.)
Reality TV: something on Bravo

So, I've been doing a bit of selling on ebay lately. After doing some (very, very late) spring cleaning, I realized that A) I have a shit-ton of crap and B) there likely to be someone who will pay good money for said crap.

And I was right. Woohoo for me!

But, of course, during this process I've encountered the most inept people on the planet. Now, I need them to be a little bit inept in order for them to want my "last-season" cast-offs, but are they not teaching basic writing and grammar in schools anymore? Was that cut along with the music programs and drama clubs?

For example, I was selling a gently used Nine West handbag, and I get this question from a potential bidder: "Is bag red it looks pink in the pic, how mny timse used?" Okay, first, it says right in my description that the bag is RED (and p.s. put down the hookah, it doesn't look remotely pink in the picture). Second, there's this really, really fun new thing called PUNCTUATION!!!! You should use it. It might raise your IQ a few points (which will put you right above pound cake). And third, I think you're trying to ask me how many times the bag was used. I said in the description that it was only used 3 times. How do you get out of the house in the morning? It seems like the doorknob would be too advanced for you.

Now, I wanted to sell this bag, so I had to grit my teeth and send a non-insulting email back answering her lame-ass questions. In the end, someone who could actually form a sentence won the auction. I'm assuming the first "brainy" girl either forgot the auction was ending or kept trying to log on to her microwave.

*rubs temples*

Oh, well. The money I'm making is worth little bouts of stupidity I guess. Not that I'm making that much, mind you. Enough to buy a new handbag that I'll only use 3 times. of life.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Daily Stats:
Words: why am I up so early?
Caffeine: exactly one sip of my morning cup so far
Evil Calories: 4000 pancakes for breakfast
Reality TV: Tabitha's Salon Takeover on Bravo

Is anyone else alarmed and slightly disturbed that Madonna's new tour is called "The Sticky & Sweet Tour"? I mean, I get it, she's Madonna. She dry humped the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards before ANYONE else did (nowadays I think it's a prerequisite to get on the show). But c'mon, she's nearing 50! Give up the corset and the g-string! Honey, you're a BAZILLIONAIRE!!!! You can afford massive amounts of Gucci and Prada!!! Hit the big 5-0 with class and sophistication. It's either that, or go Cabaret, honey. Look at Cher. She had the good sense to turn her tour into one mammoth sized drag show. Outlandish headpieces and hoards of screaming gay men. That works. Cone bras and crotch shots...not so much.

The saddest part of all this is that there was a time when Madonna started making the graceful crossover to chic and sophisticated. Especially when Ray of Light came out. She was all zen and namaste and dressing in chic suits and had somewhat believable blond hair. But alas, she found herself way too "normal", I guess. And now she's just creeping me out. Eww, Madonna. Eww!

Friday, August 22, 2008

my nerves

Daily Stats:
Words: zzzzzzz...
Caffeine: barely my morning cup so far
Evil Calories: peach crisp
Reality TV: ANTM reruns

This week has been chaotic. My son (aka cutest child ever in the history of time) maimed himself not one, not twice, but three times this week, two of the incidents involving blood.

Now, I should preface all this by letting you on my little secret. I HAVE NO FREAKIN' CLUE WHAT I'M DOING! All I know is that a) my son is the coolest thing ever and b) he often times wants to eat ice cream for breakfast, which I highly respect. Other than that, my approach to motherhood is very "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-and-try-not-to-freak-out".

So here was our week. Saturday, he was stung by a Yellow Jacket as he was coming down the slide at the playground. Monday he lost his footing on the stairs, fell, hit his face and got a bloody nose, and Tuesday he tripped, fell on one his toys, and cut the inside of his lip with his tooth. My
"fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-and-try-not-to-freak-out" theory was out the window, replaced by "MY SON IS BLEEDING! THERE'S BLOOD! HE'S BLEEDING! CALL EVERYONE! 911, THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, THE CIA, NASA, THE IRISH MAFIA! HELP!"

The answer is, "yes", I was freaking out more than he was. Kids are frighteningly resilient. Within an hour of each incident he was back to normal, laughing, playing, asking for cookies (I request I also highly respect). However, I'm still a basket case. And eating peanut butter cookies hasn't helped.

I may or may not survive motherhood, but I know for sure that my son will sail right through with no problems. Well, as long as there are cookies, mac n' cheese, hot dogs, ice cream and several copies of Monsters Inc. in the house.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So, here we go...

Daily Stats:
Words: 1000
Caffeine: morning cup + midmorning cappuccino
Evil Calories: the most decadent chocolate chip banana muffins ever. I've eaten seven in the last 24 hrs. I can't stop.
Reality TV: Flipping Out reruns

Okay, peeps. I have posted the first installment of my take on your ideas. Thank you to anonymous for the prompt. I'm sure you had something else in mind when you suggested "I opened the door and heard the shrieking", but you're talking to a girl who still can't make through a full episode of Ghosthunters without her ears plugged and her head buried in a pillow.

Now for my disclaimer.

I wrote this in exactly ONE hour. It is in, what I like to call, the "bag of poo" stage. It hasn't been edited or proofed. It's full of holes, inconsistancies and may not make much sense. I whole point of this exercise is to just go. Don't stop, don't edit, don't think, just go.

So I went! And here's what happened.

Original prompt left by anonymous:
"I opened the door and heard the shrieking."

My take:

I opened the door and heard the shrieking. It was my mother’s pitch-perfect shrill, usually reserved for Burt Reynolds sightings or half-off sales at Spiegel. I walked into the living room, expecting to find her clutching a new flounced-sleeve cardigan and a glass of champagne. But instead she was clutching my sister Emily.

“May!” came another yelp from my mother. “Or June! Yes, we could have gardenias everywhere!” Her eyes darted around the room, as if gardenias were suddenly sprouting from the walls.

Emily nodded, looking like she had a hanger crammed in her mouth. I considered quietly backing out of the room, hopping a plane for Bermuda and calling in a day or two to find out what the excitement was all about. I knew that plastered-on smile. The result of that pesky little eight year-old inside of Emily, still seeking approval. I wanted no part of that smile.

“Annie!” Finally my mother noticed me. “Your sister’s getting married! I’m thinking lilac for your dress!”

Normally the thought of having to wear a puffy purple abomination would require me to breath into a paper bag. But I was distracted by the words “Emily” and “married”. Something was amiss. Clearly something had happened in the five hours since I shared a plate of crab wontons with Emily at Shanghai Terrace. She left with her half eaten General Tsao’s chicken, on her way to break up with Jeremy once and for all, and apparently I had stumbled into some kind of glitch in the space/time continuum. It was the only logical explanation.

In Chicago traffic, anything is possible.

Jeremy was boring, disrespectful and he cross-contaminated the peanut butter with the jelly. Those were the three ironclad reasons she gave for wanting to bring their two-year courtship to and end. I sat and listened, nodding intently, agreeing. Seedy pink streaks in the peanut butter. Horrible. He should be dealt with for sure. I didn’t bring up the other woman she’d suspected he’d been sleeping with. Or the cash missing from her purse. Or the fact that, every once in a while, he would suddenly don a British accent for absolutely no reason. Kicking Jeremy to the curb was the best idea she’d had in years. I would have hitched my trailer to the most absurd red flag just to see him go.

I looked at Emily, her forced grin looking like it could mutate into a gag at any moment. I waited for her speak. Surely she left Shanghai Terrace, broke up with Jeremy, went for a drink, met Bono, the only man she ever claimed she’d marry in a heartbeat, and, after attending an impromptu fundraising event together, he proposed and now she was going to be Mrs. Bono, assuming his respect for condiments was up to par.

My mother planted her hand on her hip. “Well, for God’s sake, Annie, say something!”

I cleared my throat. “Something.”

She let out of huff. “Oh, don’t be bitter. It’ll happen for you.” She looked around anxiously. “Someday.”

Suddenly I was back to my Bermuda plan. Even before she added the “someday”. “You’re getting married to Jeremy?” I finally managed to say, trying to sound breezy.

My mother sputtered. “Of course to Jeremy! Who else would she be marrying?” She gave me that look that suggested I’d spent my formative years eating paint chips. Then she turned her attention back to Emily, her hands flapping in excitement as she began rattling off tasks. Calling churches, finding florists, picking centerpieces, using heavyweight linen and a transparent sheet of velum for the invitations. With every word, Emily turned a different shade of green. Then my mother was gone, up the stairs. I could hear her dividing her time between digging through the cedar chest in the spare room and commiserating on the phone with my Aunt Nancy.

Emily and I were left staring at each other in silence. She shifted around in place, wringing her hands. “What?” she asked, giving me a look suggesting that I was the one who’d had the colossal lapse in judgment; as if it were I who initiated the launch sequence on the mother-of-the-bride-zilla upstairs. As if our lunch never happened. Did I even bother reminding her that she’d referred to Jeremy as “that little dickweed” several time, or that she had already begun laying the groundwork to sleep with the guy from her accounting department?

But this is what Emily did. She’d mess up, close her eyes, plug her ears, and launch into a rousing rendition of “la-la-la-la” while the world proceeded to fall apart. Only this time I couldn’t just stand on the sidelines and watch. I was going to be right there with her, humming along.

Wearing purple taffeta, no less.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Did I really say that?

Daily Stats:
Words: some, some and then some
Caffeine: morning cup, midmorning iced latte and late afternoon iced latte (it was an allergy meds day...need I say more?)
Evil Calories: 10 pounds of homemade mac 'n cheese
Reality TV: Project Runway reruns

First, I want to thank everyone who played along with my last post and left a prompt for me! I know I said I would pick one, but they were all so good, I think I'll do all of them. So, stay tuned for my take on your idea.

And, then, by far the coolest thing I did this super cool and uber-talented fellow writer Elizabeth did a little Q & A with me for her fab blog Inside My Oyster. You can read it here. Or you can just sit there on your duff and eat Oreos. Whichever.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

tell me what to do

Daily Stats:
Words: ...wha?
Caffeine: morning cup & midmorning iced latte
Evil Calories: is it possible to OD on banana bread?
Reality TV: Project Runway

I keep trying to do some "creative bench presses", but every time I try and rouse my brain it slaps the snooze button and dozes off again. Lazy bastard.

A few years ago I took a creative writing class, and our instructor (who I'm fairly certain was stoned the entire semester) would give us a "prompt" at the beginning of every class and we'd have to write something from his prompt (and while we wrote, he'd go spend some quality time with the vending machine). By prompt, I mean he'd either give us a basic plot (ie. A man wages war on his package of Twinkies) or an opening sentence (ie. "Her eyes sparkled in the sunlight as she walked toward me, and I knew it was all over.") His were always a little "out there" (go figure), but it was a clever idea. And it worked. At least to get things churning.

Now, here's the tricky part. I can't just come up with a prompt on my own. I need someone to give it to me. And since the only people around are my wobbly, wheezing cat and my 2 & 1/2 year old son, the only suggestions I'll get are "chew on your leg for 7.3 minutes" or "put cheerios in your nose, it's fun". So, dear reader, I need your help. It can be anything...plot idea, first sentence or just a general situation. You can even leave it anonymously if you're feeling shy. Then I'll pick one and post what I've written.

(and if no one participates in this, I'm going to feel like the biggest ass and I will promptly pour my sorrows into massive amounts of chocolate.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Brain idle

Daily Stats:
Words: there will be words...oh, yes...there will be words
Caffeine: morning cup & midday cappuccino (foamy goodness)
Evil Calories: orange current scones
Reality TV: Project Runway reruns

I have become brain dead. My creativity has taken sloth form. I have mental flab. In the last month, I have not written one substantial thing. A few paragraphs here, a few run on sentences there. Nothing to show. Nothing to ponder. Nothing to feel good about. Just my "Poo Lives" folder on my computer desktop, which currently holds all my "in progress" writing. "Hello, lame ass!" it says when I open my computer. "Remember us? We're disjointed and full of holes. FINISH US!"

Yes, yes...pipe down. I hear you, "Poo Lives". Just be patient. One cannot just simply dive into ocean without taking a few belly flops into the pool first. Must first get the creative cesspool swirling.

Stay tuned, dear reader. For I may need your help.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thank you, come again...

(Okay, enough with the pink. Unless it's in cream form on top of a cupcake with sprinkles, it just isn't the same)

Daily Stats:
Words: ahhh...home
Caffeine: morning cup & mid-day iced latte from my trusty little Barista espresso machine (yes, I hugged it when I got home. So what?)
Evil Calories: "welcome home" donuts
Reality TV: Project Runway, Shear Genius

I've decided that being a writer sucks ass. Well...being a struggling writer sucks ass. I'm sure being a published writer still sucks to some degree. Perhaps not to the "ass" degree. Maybe to the "armpit" or "big toe" degree.

Imagine, if you will, waking up at the crack of dawn to cook a feast - a huge feast; everything from scratch - and you slave over that feast the entire day, only to just stick it in your fridge and have it go bad. And you can't even enjoy it because you're so sick of looking at it that all you want is the drive-thru at Taco Bell. Now, take that feeling and multiply it by a gazillion. That's how it feels to write a book that goes nowhere.

As my son would say, when Gossie the gosling looses her bright red boots..."she hot-bwo-ken"

Like I said. Being a writer sucks ass.

You know, it would be a lot less ass sucky/hot-bway-king if writers could query agents about their books before they actually write them. Sort of like how journalists query editors. "I have this awesome idea to interview Bubba Bo Bob down at Bubba's Chicken Shack about how he likes to cook his food inside the engine of a '57 Chevy, and I also plan on tracing his roots back to Redneckland. I will also examine the questionable length of Bubba's pants, as this is a very important subject for today's youth." You know...then the editor says "yay" or "nay" to the Bubba Bo Bob article, and if it's a "nay", then the writer moves on to another idea, sanity still intact. But aspiring novelists have to cash in their sanity, pour every ounce of their soul into a book, and THEN ask agents if they think it's a good idea. It's all ass-backwards if you ask me.

Therefore, I am seriously tempted to query my current WIP right now, before I'm done. Before the hot-bwak-ing stage. Query the hell out of it, and if no one wants it, then I move on! And I can skip the whole "beating self over head" stage too!

Of course, with my luck, someone would like it, and request a partial, then a full, and then I'd have to come up with some lame ass excuse like, "ummm...well...I could get you the full, but my arms fell off and I can't use my computer. But I'm on experimental medication, and they're supposed to grow back within six to eight weeks. Can I get it to you then?"

See...sanity cashed in. Cha-ching!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

You can never go home again...

(Forgive the pink background. I had a Dance Party with Holly Hobby cupcake from Cupcake Royale in Ballard and it must have seeped into my brain. I now feel pretty, oh so pretty...)

Daily Stats:
Words: no more yanky my wanky, the Donger need sleep
Caffeine: morning cup & far-too-late-in-the-afternoon iced latte
Evil Calories: ALMOST ate lunch at Jack in the Box (or Jack in the Crack, as we used to lovingly call it) but opted for Quiznos instead. Still evil, but less "get me to the hospital now" evil.
Reality TV: zilch

They say you can never go home again. Of course, they usually mean this in more of a spiritual sense. However, sometimes you can never go home again. Literally. Meaning, you can never go home again because they've flattened half a city block in your old neighborhood to put in stacks and stacks of "modern, cool & efficient" condos (read: tiny, overpriced shoe boxes).

*shakes head & sighs heavily*

I know, I know...Seattle is an ever-growing mecca of uber-urban-chic. I get it. I was part of that uber-urban-chic back in the 90's. I lived in a matchbook sized apartment two blocks from Broadway. I'd get my coffee every morning from the Vivace cafe and, as I walked to my job at an "I'm so hip I could puke" music company, I'd give my change to the overly pierced/tattooed homeless kids sleeping on the bus stop benches. But the kids are gone, the Vivace cafe is gone. Even the music company packed up and moved to California. "Oh, yeah, they really cleaned it up and put it a bunch of new posh restaurants" a friend of mine said. "Isn't it great?"


It's not great. It makes me feel old and frumpy.

Anyhoo, we're back in windy/dirt encrusted Goldendale for a couple more days, then back home to the midwest on Tuesday. So many things I need to get back to. Writing. Running. Not eating like a Beluga whale. Funny how your standards drop the closer you get to the end of your vacation. I almost ate at Jack in the Box today. Divine intervention prevented it (or the fact that they were terribly understaffed and after 10 minutes of waiting at the register while the employees just gave us weird looks, we finally left).

However, if you live in the Seattle area, go to La Carta De Oaxaca in Ballard (it's pronounced "wa-ha-ca". I kept saying "waks-ca-ca". That's wrong.) The food is exceptional. Just ask this boy. He was seen eating more beans and rice than a two and a half year old should be allowed to eat. There is sure to be interesting smells coming from him over the next few days.