Saturday, December 19, 2009

Later on, we'll expire, as we dream by the fire...

(I thought those were the correct lyrics to Winter Wonderland until about a year ago. Yep. I should really consider donating by brain to science.)
Words: shit-tons

Caffeine: midafternoon mocha
Evil Calories: Fudge, fudge and fudge. With a little fudge. Oh, and fudge.

First of all, since I know you're all planning to buy me Christmas presents, let's clear up any confusion. I do not need soap (or any incarnation of soap ie. body wash, body oil, body scrub, body butter, body brine, body engine coolant, body fertilizer etc). Nor do I need a dry heave-inducing sweater from the clearance rack at Sears. I know it's tempting because it's only 75 cents, but seriously, just walk away. I also have little need for a porcelain statue of a droopy eyed dog with a bonnet in its mouth. Yes, I know. I'm dead inside.

I do, however, need this:









Yes. It's a Princess Leia Polly Pockets fashion set. My favorite part is the little framed picture of Han Solo. Though, just between you and me, I doubt Princess Leia would ever have a framed picture of Han on her wall. That's just not how she rolls.

I would also settle for a Chia Pet, a Snuggie (zebra print, please) or the Clapper.

On another note, you all may (or probably not at all) be wondering what's going on with my writing. It's funny, because I notice that when I'm heavy into my writing, I rarely blog about it, and when I barely manage to eek out a paragraph over a three month span, I'll yap about my writing incessantly. So, read between the lines. I'm not talking about my writing. (Okay, well I am right now, but I'm just trying to make a point.) Not talking about my writing, meaning, things are moving, progressing, and I see something, sparkling off in the distance. Actually not in the distance. A lot closer than in the distance. We'll call it "just up ahead and slightly on the left".

SHAZAM! is all I have to say about that.

And lastly, I'd just like to take this opportunity to wish you, my faithful reader,
bonnes fêtes, which, thanks to my awesome sister and her drive-by, ambush emailed French lessons, I now know means "happy holidays".

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sip a nice hot cup of coo-coo

Words: 1245
Caffeine: morning cup + midday cinnamon spiced tea
Evil Calories: Milkshake from the Sander's store at the mall. Don't know what came over me. I blame Jon and Kate Goslin. Just cuz.

You know what I love? The mall at Christmas. Yes, it's a complete zoo and the parking lots alone are like an episode of American Gladiators, but there's a certain charm to it that I cannot resist. Of course, I love the decorations and the music and hung over Santa who looks like he's going to honk Milwaukee's Best all over a set of triplets in matching pink dresses. But what I really love are the people. You know which people I'm talking about, right? The little old ladies in high water green pants with their purses strapped around their shoulders, triple knotted and bungee corded to their waists to stave off the pickpockets after the thirty-two cents in their wallets (I can make fun because I will be one of these goofy old bats one day). The dude in the mustard stained Tasmanian Devil Harley-Davidson t-shirt sucking on a Super Big Gulp as he gawks at the sale window in Spencer Gifts. The angry man in ill-fitting slacks and a comb over. No one knows what has made him so mad. You'd think relying on four wispy strands of hair to give the illusion of a full quaff would make you more of a "glass half full" person, but no. He's pissed, and dammit, and you best get the f!@# out of his way, pronto! Then there's the disgruntled MAC girl on her fifteen, stuck in line at Starbucks behind an elderly couple who look as if they haven't left their house since 1972 and want to know what "expresso" is. And then my personal favorite, the people who decide to have defcon-5 shit-fits on the poor, underpaid sales people. I know it's frustrating when your 50% off coupon from 1987 is no longer valid, but that's no reason to go all Gary Busey. You do realize there are people who live with war in their countries, right? Just pay for your crap and SHUT IT.

I'm sensitive because I was once one of these poor, underpaid sales people. I lived in the Bay Area and worked at a Gloria Jeans in the mall in my late teens. One Christmas, I actually had a woman pour a Mocha on me because we didn't have the cow-in-a-moo-moo sugar and creamer set she was looking for. And then there was the guy who told me I'd live a long, sad, lonely life and die in a gutter with rats eating at my eyes because I wouldn't call the Gloria Jeans in San Francisco (who we had NO affiliation with) and have someone drive a pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain to his mother's house in Berkley. Cuz, you know, it's totally normal for a coffee shop to make house calls.

I'm much happier now just being a distant observer of the coo-coo pants behavior. (Though...okay, I DID elbow my way into the line at Starbucks and made the tween in front of me paranoid about her weight just to get my hands on the last banana chip muffin, but that's it. Other than that, I've been totally sane.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Does chapter 16 make me look fat?

Words: 1543
Caffeine: Harney & Sons Holiday Tea
Evil Calories: Someone please take the bag of Halloween candy. Please. My fat pants are starting to feel tight

I'm trying to decide whether or not it's good to get feedback when you're in the middle of your WIP. Even if you're on a second or third rewrite. It's sort of like getting dressed up, and asking someones opinion on how you look before you've had a chance to do your make up and put your shoes on. Without these final little details, you can look like a total shlump. And if you were to take someones advice to change your dress or wear your hair differently to avert any possible shlumpiness, you may end up not looking as fabulous as you could have had you stuck with your original plan.

I'm thumb wrestling with idea of sending my WIP out to a few trusted sources to get some feedback. Mostly because I feel like my WIP and I are floating out on the ocean in a bubble a million miles away from civilization. I'm pretty sure my writing has structure and that there is, in fact, a mildly entertaining story there somewhere, but I could really use a few smoke signals or a reassuring call from a coconut telephone.

Or maybe I just need donuts. With sprinkles. Yes, maybe that's all I really need.

On another note...how are all my Nano-ing mates doing? Feel like putting your head in the waffle maker yet? Yep. Me too.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something wicked this way comes...

Words: 1000
Caffeine: skipped morning cup altogether and went straight for a cappuccino because the boy woke me up at 6:00 to tell me that Spongebob doesn't have nipples. Don't ask me to explain because I cannot.
Evil Calories: was forced to eat chicken mcnuggets for lunch. They. Are. Disgusting.

Before I go into detail about the wickedness that will soon be invading my soul, I'd like to just take a quick moment to talk to my treadmill.

Dear treadmill aka Lucifer - You're fired. We've been doing this for many, many months now, and I look nothing like the girl on the infomercial. Screw you and the sales guy at Sears who claimed you were the most effective machine on the market. You're shaped funny and sometimes you smell like rubber scented poo. I hate you. Go away.

Anyhoo...

So, in just one week, I will once again be subjecting myself to the mind altering, soul squishing, self-esteem destroying phenomenon known as NaNoWriMo. (If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, go here.) Now, there are some people I know who claim that the 50K word goal is a total cake walk, but for us normal humans, 50K words in 30 days is a-freakin'-lot. That averages to about 1600 words a day. This can often result in bouts of hysterical crying and cramming pencils into your eye. Even with the best word sprinting schedule, at some point you end up totally Barton Finking out. That being said...YOU SHOULD DO IT! It's a great creative work out and at the end you find yourself with the makings of a novel (I said makings. Meaning, mostly it will look like a steaming pile of garbage, but in between the moldy socks and stinky banana peels, you'll find some sparkly little nuggets of joy).

If you are NaNo-ing, please add me as your buddy so we can go coo-coo together. Then go visit my sister, Amy Ellis at Girlworks, and convince her to do it, too. She thinks she can be all relaxed during the month of November while I descend into the seventh level of creative hell. Ummm, no way. If I'm going down, I'm taking her with me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dead banners and zombie babies

Daily Stats:
Words: yep
Caffeine: morning cup so far
Evil Calories: made homemade caramel sauce last night, and for a brief moment I thought I was going to set myself on fire, but I didn't and it was super yummy with Empire apples.

Due to minor technical difficulties, and the fact the blogger seems to have teamed with the forces of bad hair days to work against me, my banner seems to have disappeared. A normal person with wits and forethought would have their banner in a file somewhere on their computer as back up, but I am not a normal person with wits and forethought. I sometimes where my slippers outside and have occasionally put my outgoing mail into the return slot at the library. So, until I can figure out which portable hard drive my banner file is hiding on, I'm going simple (meaning I'm far too lazy to actually walk upstairs into the office, turn the light on and look around).

By the way, has anyone noticed that it's FALL???!!!! My oh-so-favorite holiday ever. Crisp leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, cider mills and fresh-out-of-the-fryer-then-eat-four-and-go-directly-to-the-hospital donuts. And, of course, Halloween. There is no measure for this love I have for Halloween. Maybe if you lined up cupcakes and about 400 Clive Owens, you could get a vague idea. And naturally, whenever anything Halloween related is on TV, I watch it. Like last night on the Food Network, they had a pumpkin carving challenge. I figured they'd have cake decorators or sculptors, maybe that Goodfellas-like dude from that Cake Boss show. But no. They had professional pumpkin carvers. Yes. Professional pumpkin carvers. I don't remember that being listed in any of our career planning material in school, do you? And, get this, one of the judges was the president of the haunted house association. I SO want that job. "This year I'd like to focus on splattering brain matter, people. And eyeballs! I want eyeballs launched through the splattering brain matter! And zombie babies. In skinny jeans! Yes, zombie babies in skinny jeans swimming in eyeball launching splattering brain matter. Go team!"

Actually, if I were really the president of the haunted house association, I'd kick it totally old school, like those old Disney haunted house records. Those. Are. Freaky. It would be all about subtlety. I'd take the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night approach. Ghostly screams, doors slamming, chains dragging. I think people should use their imaginations more instead of having splattering brain matter, eyeballs and zombie babies spoon fed to them. When you have an active imagination, you don't need a whole lot to scare the ever loving crap out of you. All you need are a few small suggestions, and you'll fill in the rest.

Of course I wanted the boy to dress as a Jedi for Halloween, but his obsession with robots trumped any of my ideas. I liked it better when he was 2 and I dressed him as Yoda and there was nothing he could do about it. Now he's all full of opinions. What. Ever.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Geeking it up

Daily Stats:
Words: some
Caffeine: morning cup so far
Evil Calories: suspended due to fear that I won't fit into my winter clothes from last year. Will live on shaved ice salads for a week until I work up the nerve to try them on.

This past week has been a momentous one in our house. My darling son has started to enjoy his very first Star Wars toys. (For the record, I had intended on my 12" Boba Fett being his first toy, but our evil feline monster ate his clothes, wookie scalp and rocket pack before little dude was born. Just FYI, they did not make Boba anatomically correct. Poor guy.) Now, I admit that I was a little more excited than he was as we stood in the toy isle at Target, mostly because after digging around I found a Han Solo action figure (the one where he's dressed as a Storm Trooper. Hello, nurse!) And, okay, I did have to keep dragging darling son's attention away from the Transformers toys behind us. "No, no, who cares about the Optimus Prime voice changer helmet! Look at the R2-D2 with sound effects and remote control!". (Note to the lady in head to toe Juicy Couture and four inch heels who was passing by and looked at me like my head was a knock-off Fendi - just FYI, You'd look better with more hot pink eyeshadow. And, perhaps, with my shoe crammed up your nose.)

Anyway, after a thorough deliberation over which toy to purchase (meaning the first thing I could grab before darling son had a thermonuclear meltdown over me refusing to buy a Hanna Montana guitar), we ended up with a Snow Speeder action set with a probe droid and Luke and Dak action figures. He thinks Luke's Lightsaber is a bat and keeps calling Dak the UPS man, but he is running through the house with the speeder making spaceship sounds. Gotta start somewhere, right?

On a lighter, less totally geeky note, I finally found long lost chapter 3. See, I was sitting at the library the other day writing and went into my "poo lives" folder to find and older version of chapter 3 that I thought might have some most excellent material, and I couldn't find it. Of course, much cursing ensued, especially when I considered that it may have been something I didn't get chance to pull off my old computer before it bit the dust. However, I dug around one of our portable hard drives and, sweet mother crap, there it was. Crisis averted. I would have been very distraught. Of course, I opened it and went, "geez, no wonder I scrapped this hunk of drivel". But, there were two valuable paragraphs I managed to pilfer. I love me. Through the oceans of crap, I sometimes manage to spew a few gems.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

If I had time in a bottle...or a Starbucks

Daily Stats:
Words: yes
Caffeine: morning cup so far
Evil Calories: Cherry pie, raspberry scones and chocolate chip cookies. Yes, sometimes all at the same time.

Okay, I have a plan. I know this makes you happy because surly you've been sitting by your computer going, "when is that crackpot going to come up with a plan?". Well, your wait is over. Because as I was fidgeting with my hair this morning trying to give the illusion that I sort of care about my appearance, I suddenly realized that I now have something that is more valuable than a shopping spree at a Macy's 1 Day Sale (okay, nothing is really more valuable than that, but just go with me, kay?) No, no, it's not wisdom or love or anything cheesy like that. It's time. Yes, time. See, darling child has started preschool, and though it's been a bumpy ride trying to convince him that a) school is fun and b) mommy would never, ever leave him, except for this small block of time where I do actually leave him (paging Dr. Freud), it dawned on me this morning that once I get over the trauma of dropping him off, I have TWO AND A HALF HOURS TO MYSELF. TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Funny how that can perk a distraught mommy right up! So, my plan is to head to the nearest library/Starbucks after dropping darling child off at school and reacquainting myself with that little old thing called MY BOOK. Hello, it's been almost a year. I'm almost fully engulfed in lameness for not finishing it already. And, I figure if I'm at the nearest library/Starbucks, I'll be close enough to darling child's school that if he consumes massive amounts of paste or gets a globe lodged in his eye, I can easily come to the rescue. So, there it is. Rock on with the plan!!!!

What? Oh, you were thinking my plan involved a solution for our real problems, ie. no job and house falling apart? Geez, gimme a break, I'm not Wonder Woman, people. I mean, yes, yes, I'm fully aware that if things don't change within the next few months and darling husband can't find a job, I'll have to dig out my "non-fat pant" clothing and go back to work myself. But the thought of it kinda makes me want to throw up in my mouth. So I'm not thinking about it until it actually has to happen. Until then, I'm holding on the delusion that I'm the next JK Rowling. What? It could happen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A New Hope

Daily Stats:
Words: jackhammers on my kitchen floor
Caffeine: morning cup so far
Evil Calories: I can't even talk about it. Kitchen has been out of commission for a few days, so we've had to resort to fast food. Why does everything at McDonalds taste like it's been fried in ass?

So, as you've probably noticed, I decided to change my banner again. I had to get rid of my zombie eye. It was scaring the children. Plus, I like the image of this woman. She looks annoyed, yet slightly hopeful. Kind of echos how I've been feeling lately. If you've missed all the fun, allow me to catch you up. Darling husband's company went "poof", potential new job in Denver went "poof", one of our cats went "poof", and a pipe in our kitchen floor went "poof". It's been a trying couple months to say the least. Oh, and say goodbye to Sexy Beast. Soon he'll be going "poof" into the arms of a new mommy who can afford a $900 computer. I'll be purchasing an $80 hard drive for my old Powerbook. Yes, the one that died the slooooooooooow, alarmingly noisy death back in March. The one that gives me copious amounts of rage. The one I've threatened to run over with my car and put the remains in a blender. Yep. Rough times, people.

Funny thing is that I know what we're going through is simply an echo of where our country is at the moment. We don't hope for the same things we used to hope for. We used to hope for more money, better jobs, bigger houses, nicer cars, better clothes, more, more, more! Now we just hope we're able to keep what we already have. Though I've had momentary delusions of winning the HGTV Fall Fixup sweepstakes, I really just want to keep my house. If some little corner of the universe could flex its muscles and just make that happen, I'd be a happy camper. I'm not even asking to keep my house and be able to fix the 473 other things wrong with it. I'll be happy to take it "as is", with the carpet stained and the doorwall window cracked and the basement still tore up and looking like the unibomber's family room. I have a fabulous imagination and am totally willing to pretend like we live in a hip, industrial loft with all the exposed brick and slab floor. And, okay, I'll even give up on my hopes of one day having landscaping that doesn't resemble the side of the I-75 freeway at 8 Mile. If we could just move "keeping the house" to the top of the to-do list, that would be super great. Kay? Kay.

In other news, I've written exactly zilch in my WIP. With all the "poof"ing that's been going on, I'm afraid to touch it, lest my MC will just lurch out of my computer, punch me in the face and run away. I'll work up my nerve one of these days. Just not today. I already spilled coffee all over my favorite fat pants and got a bobby pin stuck in my hair. Maybe tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

long time no bloggy

Daily Stats:
Words: no words, just long, heavy sighs
Caffeine: morning cup + midday iced mocha
Evil Calories: have successfully perfected my cinnamon roll recipe. Have also perfected my fat-assness in the process. Woot.

I know, I know, I've been away for a while. Don't act like you didn't miss me. Admit it, you've been checking daily to see if I've returned to regularly scheduled snarkiness. Well, here I am. I wish I was popping in to report utter fabulousness, but alas, I'm really just here to mope and feel sorry for myself, something I don't normally practice or condone. However, life has been serving up some serious sucker punches lately, and, well, I'm not made of wood, you know.

To sum up without boring you or making you outclick before I finish - a) hubby's company went under, so we're currently unemployed b) house is falling apart, kitchen smells like moldy bottoms mixed with tangy socks and basement keeps flooding and c) they stopped making my favorite flavor of Triscuits. These are the dark times, people.

So, needless to say, I haven't really been in the mood to write as much as I've been in the mood to freak out and panic. It's really hard to do both. But, in the moments where I sit down with a nice glass of Rose' (my new favorite summer beverage) and chill the hell out, I have contributed quality material to my WIP. I keep having this vision that the moment the bank comes to take away our house keys, I'll get "the call" from an agent, kind of like that movie The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio where she wins the jingle contest right when the family is about to lost the house and disband.

Of course, that means I actually have a) finish and b) query it around, which sounds like a lot of work. With all this panicking and freaking out, my plate is pretty full.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Mighty Wind

Daily Stats:
Words: home
Caffeine: morning cup
Evil Calories: peach pie and peach pancakes. Peachy, peach, peach.

For the last three weeks I've been visiting The Great Northwest, my former home, and also the home to my MC. While I always resided in Seattle, my MC busts out of the city, ventures through the mountain pass and ends up in a little town 80 miles southeast called Cle Elum. Funny thing, though...being the consummate city dweller in my eight years of living in Seattle, I'd never actually been to Cle Elum. And since I've moved away, I've only ever stopped there to gas up at the Safeway while making the long drive from my parent's house in southern Washington during my summer visits. Since I really had no clue what the real town was like, aside from piecing things together from Google, on this trip I managed to talk my mom into letting me take a photographic tour though the town. I should mention this took approximately six minutes, and that includes doubling back to reshoot the house where my MC rents an apartment.

I should back up a little. I didn't actually think I'd find the house where my MC lived. It just happened. See, when I write, I do these little "visual reference boards" where I find pics of everything in my story - towns, houses, apartments, cars, restaurants, parks, offices - whatever pertains to the story (thank you Google images!). When I made the board for my current novel, I got on Realtor.com and found houses for sale in Cle Elum, and found a house that would be perfect...it was big and had a large upstairs/attic with windows that could easily be an upstairs apartment. So, while I'm driving around the little residential streets just to get a feel of what the houses near the downtown area look like, I turn a corner and holy-crap-on-a-crap-cracker, there's the house! Of course, I started flipping out (luckily I've been flipping out about bizarre things since before I could walk, so this didn't faze my mother). It was the strangest feeling...this house that I've been staring at for months and months was suddenly in front of me, and it was exactly what it was supposed to be. Even the sidewalks, the street and the houses next door were pretty much exactly the way I saw them in my mind. Spooooky, no? Anyhoo, I took about a thousand pictures of it, then had to go back just to get more from the other angle. And it didn't end there. Even the building where the cafe is supposed to be in in perfect proximity to not only the house, but to an old movie theater that plays a big part in the story, as well as an Italian restaurant. It was like suddenly being dropped into my imagination. I was half expecting to see a dark haired girl walking down the street carrying a tiny, growling dog that resembled a mop with teeth. (That would be my MC manhandling the grouchy, free-peeing dog she's left in charge of.)

Now, here's something my MC could tell me about living in Cle Elum. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever wear a short-ish sundress. Since the town sits at the base of the Cascades, there this little thing called WIND. Like, circling, gusting, no-matter-which-way-you-turn-it's-going-to-mess-with-you wind!! Currently, I owe a heartfelt apology to the poor family sitting inside Quiznos just trying to chow down on some turkey and bacon sammies. I know you weren't expecting a peep show outside in the parking lot. If I've traumatized your children, please just forward me the therapy bills. I was simply trying to lift my child out of the carseat, and at 31 pounds, this is no longer a one armed endeavor. I couldn't hold the boy and keep the bottom of my dress out of my armpits at the same time. I promise the next time I pass through town, I will be thoroughly clad in my fat pants.

Speaking of fat pants...here's a fun new blog that you should visit!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I've been thinking...













Daily Stats:

Words: some
Caffeine: morning cup + midday iced latte
Evil Calories: brownies, peach crisp, homemade ice cream
Reality TV: Life on the D-List

Oh, dear, sweet little blog. How I've been neglecting you. I feel bad, but you have to understand, outside of your fun little boxes of words and pictures and links, there is a great big world where there are some pretty nifty things. Nifty things can be distracting to a girl like me. And, to be honest, dear, sweet little blog, I've been feeling lately like you don't fully represent the awesomeness that is my life. You certainly give props to one of the main things I have mad love for - writing. However, my other passion - food - has been elbowing me for some time in the spotlight, so I'm trying to figure out how to nurture both of you at the same time.

I wonder, dear, sweet little blog, if you would be willing to share some cyberspace with the foody side of me. Or, perhaps it's best if I give it its own room. After all, you've had this all to yourself for a long time now. I can't ask you to suddenly clear out half your closet. Where would we put all your shoes?

I guess, dear, sweet little blog, you'll just have to stay tuned, and when I suddenly adorn you with a curious little link to your sister site, please know that, though I will love you both the same, you will always be my first baby.

Monday, June 29, 2009

You people are wrong in the head

Daily Stats:
Words: 4 or maybe 2000, not sure which
Caffeine: morning cup + midday iced mocha
Evil Calories: currently addicted to chips and salsa. Mainly the chips part.
Reality TV: it's far too embarrassing to admit

So, I have this nifty little thing on my blog called SiteMeter. It basically tracks every visit to my blog. Yep. I'm watching you. C'mon, get that finger out of your nose and, for god's sake, change that shirt. You've been wearing it for a week now.

No, seriously, I can't actually see you (but you should still change that shirt and keep your fingers out of your nose). But I can see where you are and how long you stayed. AND, it also will tell me what search term you tippity-tapped into google if you happened to simply stumble upon my blog. And, as it turns out, some of the more interesting search terms that lead to my blog are "I'm too sexy for my cat", "I'm too sexy for my heels" (both of which have this post to thank) and...wait for it...wa-a-a-a-a-it for it..."cat sexy in heels".

Okay...if you are one of these "cat sexy in heels" people and you are reading this post, please step away from the computer, grab the yellow pages and try to find yourself some urgent, low-cost shock treatment. Or just jab a fork in your eye. Or maybe even take your brain out and soak it in bleach for a while. Seriously, what's wrong with you? You're embarrassing your mother. I think you should leave. Everyone else can stay and play, even the "too sexy for my heels" people. Though, I suspect you have a certain...ehem... "need" that my little ol' blog will not be able to fulfill. But after you find your weirdo-rama smut, c'mon back for some nice, wholesome entertainment.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Let them eat cake

Daily Stats:
Words: breathing
Caffeine: morning cup so far
Evil Calories: 400 therapeutic cookies
Reality TV: Chopped

I'm one of those people who reminds myself that no matter how grim my life seems to be, there's always someone else who's been dealt a harder hand. Yes, things have a taken a harsh downward turn for us, but I'm quite certain that there are handfuls of other people out there nosediving straight to crapsville. We're not nosediving yet. We're just circling it slowly, which still gives us time veer off into greener grass. But I'm not here to post about how things have gone slightly ass over teakettle in my world. I'm here to post about cake.

Yes, cake. I don't mean the Betty Crocker boxed mix with the tub of chocolate flavored trans fat. I mean CAKE:








































(That last one is the cake from our wedding! It was so awesome, even though the frosting turned everyones lips blue)

People always ask were writers get their ideas. I, like many, get mine everywhere. A simple trip to the grocery store can spark an idea. So can sitting on the couch like a sloth watching the Food Network, which is where inspiration pounced on my head last night. I realized that I'm missing a huge opportunity in my WIP. I love cake. The love to look at cake, eat cake, and when I'm feeling frisky, I love making cake. I love the whole concept of cake. No one is ever sad or suffering around cake. Cake means people are happy. Then I thought, duh...why am I not writing about cake? I mean, hello, one of my characters runs a cafe the revolves around cake, yet the plot of my story currently has little to do with the actual cake. It's just a backdrop. But the thought of bringing the cake into the spotlight makes me giddy and happy, and I'm all about the giddy and happy right now.

Obviously, this opens a whole new door of research. Sugar arts, fondant - and probably five thousand other things I know NOTHING about. But my MC knows nothings about them either when she first walks into the cafe, so we can figure it out together. So, in the next few weeks if I ramble on about frosting or post pictures of demented experimental sugar flowers, just roll with it. K?

Monday, June 1, 2009

I'm old

Daily Stats:
Words: where's my walker?
Caffeine: morning cup + midday iced latte
Evil Calories: chocolate chip muffins that came out like bricks (but I ate them anyway, cuz chocolate chip bricks are still yummy)
Reality TV: ANTM reruns on Oxygen

For reason that are still beyond explanation, I wandered into a dark corner of the internet today and found myself watching the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Yeah...um...I just have one tiny little question. WHO THE CRAP ARE THESE PEOPLE? I know who Andy Samberg is and I know what's her drink from Twilight...Kristin "can't act my way out of a paper sack" Stewart and Cedric Diggory from HP who plays the girly vampire dude - but seriously...the rest of them...no clue! There are a bunch of Vanessas and a few more Kristins and some chick with slicked back hair who just sat in the audience and tried to look all sexy and brooding but instead looked like she had a bug in her brain. And then these Vanessas are being nominated for their "breakthrough" performances in High School Musical part 435. I realize these aren't the Oscars, but pu-leeeeeeeeeeeeez!

So, I was sitting there being all snarky and pissy and judgmental, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Duh. I'm old. AND MTV is no longer cool. It's been overrun by douche bags and muffys with highlights. So, it's not just me getting old, it's MTV going through a midlife crisis. If MTV still played...oh, gee...what were those things...hmmmm...let's see...oh, that's right...VIDEOS, perhaps I wouldn't suddenly feel like I need to find myself a walker and look into a career as a greeter at Walmart.

I'm still convinced that we (Gen X-ers) were the last great generation. We had Nirvana and Wayne's World and Reality Bites. Ethan Hawke vs. Zach Efron? C'mon! (and if there are any Gen Y-ers reading this and you only know Ethan from Training Day...get thee to Netflix and add Reality Bites to your queue!)

So, who's old with me? C'mon. I know you're out there...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Revision quest

Daily Stats:
Words: some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue
Caffeine: morning cup + midday cappuccino
Evil Calories: pretzels with peanut butter and little hunks of dark chocolate
Reality TV: ANTM reruns on Oxygen

Today I visited my old stomping ground, the cafe at Barnes & Noble. It's been months since I parked my keyster in the cozy little corner and tippity-tapped an entire day away. Funny thing about revisions, though. When I'm working on the first draft of something, I just go, go, go and go. Revisions are a different story. I can only go, go, go and go for little sprints before I want to tear my head off and throw it at someone (preferably the girl yammering at top volume on her cell phone about, like, how, like, so annoying Evan is, like, he totally, like, bugs, and, like, did you see what he was wearing? It was, like, so bananas. BTW, I thought "bananas" was good, but Evan apparently was not dressed well. So, "bananas" is bad now?) Anyway, revisions for me are a lot of stop-start-stop-start-go back-stop-start-go back-go back-go back-go back-start-stop-scream-stop-scream some more-start-stop. The whole process makes my brain go squish, which is why it's good that Barnes & Noble has cheesecake.

I don't actually eat it, mind you. I just watch while gaggles of rail thin tweens cram their cake holes. I hope they know that some day they will no longer have the metabolisms of rabid weasels on crack.

And on a more introspective note, it occurred to me today that I might, might be dragging my heels just a teeny, weeny bit on revisions because revisions lead to a completed manuscript, which leads to queries, which leads to rejections, which leads to me hiding in my closet freebasing Funyuns and Hostess products. But, I'll delve deeper into that psychological phenomenon when I'm having a better hair day. I'm already in a fight with my bangs. I have no room on my plate for further self doubt.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Creepy eyeball and my cousin Brad Pitt

Daily Stats:
Words: I hate regurgitated hair-balls
Caffeine: morning cup + midday iced latte
Evil Calories: ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce that unexpectedly turned into that chocolate shell stuff you get at Dairy Queen which made us almost weep with joy
Reality TV: Tori & Dean

I'm still very much on the fence about my new banner, so if you see it come and go over the next few weeks, don't be surprised. It's okay, but I look WAY too nice. I am nice, but perhaps not the "tea cozies and masterpiece theater" nice the picture is alluding to. I mean, just below the picture and to the right, I illustrate my firm belief that Rachel Ray is the anti-christ. There's kind of a disconnect. Besides, I find my enormous zombie eye a little disturbing. If you stare at it for too long you might try to eat someones brain.

In other news, I had yet another dream last night about my cousin Brad Pitt. Yes, again. I've lost track of how many dreams I've had where Mr. Jolie is my cousin. I really can't figure out where this stems from. I'm not exactly a fan, I don't find him dreamy and I most of the time feel he couldn't act his way out of a paper sack. But last night I found myself off in dreamland in some weird triangular apartment with mustard colored walls, trying to convince Brad that he should have some Breyers Slow Churn ice cream instead of the regular because it had 1/2 the fat (this stems from a discussion my husband and I had before bed - have you ever looked at how much fat is in regular ice cream? Frightening! It's a wonder our arteries don't just slam shut). So, Brad says, "I'm sick of dieting," and I said, "You don't have to diet, just don't inhale trans fat at light speed." And then he stood up and his pants were really tight...not good tight, like busting at the seams tight, so I said, "Ummm...don't take this the wrong way, but those pants make you look like ten pound of shit crammed into a five pound bag," and he dropped his shoulders, let out a long sigh and started doing push-ups on the table. Then my dad walked in and started talking about a house fire (he's a fire chief, so this is quite normal) and my mom walked in with a casserole (she's Lutheran, so this is also quite normal). The end.

Well, sort of "the end". There was something about ghosts and then somewhere in there I broke my salad spinner and I was very upset.

Why can't I dream about cool things, like ninjas or flame-throwers?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Makeovers and makeunders

Daily Stats:
Words: 4. Or maybe 700. It's hard to count when you're editing because you're using a lot words you already wrote. (note to self: thank self later for writing so many usable words.)
Caffeine: morning cup
Evil Calories: Demonic chocolate chip cookies. They are made entirely of evil.
Reality TV: Fashion Show

So, as you can probably see, I'm playing around with some different looks for my bloggy blog. Not sure about this banner yet. It didn't quite come out like we hoped. I look like an advertisement for a British adaptation of an E.M. Forster novel. Oh, well. I've been using Gimp, which is the knock off version of Photoshop, and although I realize that it's free, I'd still like to find the geek squad who created it and give them gigantic wedgies. I can dig minor quirks, but when I'm yelling, "OHMYGOD, YOU SUCK DONKEY BALLS!" at 7:00 in the morning, clearly some serious tweaks need to be made. Especially when 7:00 in the morning is prime writing time. Curse you, nerds with greasy t-zones. If you'd stop playing World of Warcraft for three seconds, perhaps us dead broke, pseudo-creative wannabes wouldn't suffer so.

Speaking of writing...

By show of hands, who here writes in their head as they're trying to fall asleep? It's unfortunate that they haven't invented some kind of telepathic wi-fi brain-to-hard drive downloading system. They really need to get on that. (Of course, it would also record the completely asinine things I often think about while falling asleep, like what Jabba the Hut looked like as an infant, or why the hell the Shamwow guy is wearing an earpiece. I think it's supposed to be his microphone, but I'm convinced he's really getting directives from zombie aliens who want to eat our brains.)

I've been in a nasty stand off with Chapter 1 lately, though I've been at a loss to figure out why. But last night as I was dozing off, my subconscious elbowed me in the eyeball and spelled it out. Two words: Information dumping. Aha! I sprung out of bed (7-8 hours later, mind you) and opened Chapter 1 again. DUH!! Chapter 1 should be in traction from the amount of crap its trying to relay. So, I've taken a hatchet to it, and we're getting along much better now. Thank you, subconscious elbow to the eyeball!

Care to share any writing epiphanies you've had while slipping off to dreamland?

(Oh, btw, if you have a moment, go visit my writery friend Debra at Write on Target. Today is her 100th post, and she's giving away some fab prizes to mark the occasion.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fairly-odd-something

Daily Stats:
Words: too many, none of which were my own
Caffeine: morning cup
Evil Calories: Cookies n' Cream ice cream - only because my son asked for it and I've heard that denying your child's innocent requests for ice cream might negatively effect their SAT scores later in life.
Reality TV: Millionaire Matchmaker (I'm not proud of this)

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

...
say a little fairy god-something-or-other lands on your shoulder and tells you that you are destined for wonderfulness once you actually do the thing you truly want to do. It's an interesting topic and one that was discussed this week in my lovely little writers group. (yes, I have a writers group! And it's a "live and in person" writers group, as in they come to my house and I make brownies that (sometimes) come out really yummy (when I don't accidentally add an extra egg to the batter) and we sit and talk about writing! It's just about the coolest thing ever and I highly recommend you try it! Forming a writers group, that is...not adding an extra egg to brownie batter. That sucks.)

So, what would you do if you knew you could not fail? Would you make writing your number one priority? Would you stay up late, wake up early and forgo basic daily grooming just to get those extra seconds to put into your work? Would you tell everyone you know to rally behind your efforts because your fairy-god-something said that you were destined for greatness? Because before your fairly-god-something landed on your shoulder, there was always the tiniest sense of futility to your writing efforts. You could hope, dream, send happy thoughts out into the universe, but in the back of your mind you knew it could end up going no where. But now you know, because your fairy-god-something told you that awesomeness awaits, and fairly-god-somethings don't lie.

Now, here's where I have one of those "a-ha" moments. Shouldn't we be going along as if our fairy-god-somethings really did land on our shoulders and told us of our pending greatness? We're writers. We spend our days suspending reality. Why should this be any different? Yes, it may take us a step into the "nuttier than a fruitcake" forest, but I'd be willing to bet most of us already have a pretty good campsite set up there. (Mine has a tent with an indoor swimming pool and a ski-ball arcade. Thursday's are tournament nights. Bring your A game, sucka!) Remember, writers are supposed to be weird and wacky. It adds to our charm.

So, from this moment forward I'm working under the guise that I've had a visit from my fairy-god-something (who has currently taken the form of Tim Roth since I've spent the last two days ODing on episodes of Lie to Me on Hulu before they expire). He doesn't actually land on my shoulder...he just sits down at the my desk and hands me a cappuccino. Plus, he wears Prada:













As fairy-god-somethings go, he's pretty darn good.

Who would your fairy-god-something be? And what would you do if they told you that you could not fail?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Several levels of batty

Daily Stats:
Words: a metric shit ton
Caffeine: morning cup + midday iced cappuccino
Evil Calories: chocolate chip cookies (I may or may not have stood in the kitchen for twenty minutes chainswallowing the entire batch.)
Reality TV: Millionaire Matchmaker

a) Just so we're clear, you CANNOT get "swine flu" by eating bacon. An intestinal bug, maybe, but I don't think it's even biologically possible to contract a flu virus from something that is a)dead and b) cooked at 400 degrees for twenty minutes. I understand the mass media's need to keep us all scared shitless of everything, but c'mon peeps. Use thine noggin.

b) Currently I hate chapter 1, which is bad because there are 31 more chapters that need to be revised, yet chapter 1 is all up in my face giving me static. Trying to rework it is like trying to jello wrestle with a porcupine. I want to punch chapter 1 in the face, give it an enormous wedgey, freeze its bra and dip its hand in warm water while its sleeping, but I can't quite figure out how without doing serious harm to Sexy Beast.

which leads me to...

c) I must find my center. I must breathe. I must trust myself. I must do all that crap I tell everyone else when they're armpit deep in dry heave inducing revisions. I must not go postal on Sexy Beast. Sexy Beast is my friend. Chapter 1 is my friend. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

d) Those "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" people on TLC really bug me.

e) I can do this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Motivational Posters

Daily Stats:
Words: okay
Caffeine: morning cup + midday cappuccino
Evil Calories: Coconut madeleines (I heart you, Ina Garten!)
Reality TV: Biggest Loser

I couldn't resist posting these, because I feel I must share anything that makes me laugh so hard I almost spew Ritz crackers out my nose. Thanks to the fabulous Amy Ellis for sending these to me and almost causing me to embed flecks of Nabisco treats into my brain.

*WARNING - MATURE LANGUAGE BELOW.
DO NOT VIEW IN THE PRESENCE OF CHILDREN OR OVERLY SENSITIVE ANIMALS! IF YOU OFFEND EASILY, DO NOT SCROLL DOWN (OKAY, IF YOU OFFEND EASILY, WHAT THE CRAP ARE YOU DOING HERE??)

(by the way, I have NO idea why there's a big blank space down there before the comments. Blogger gives me rage.)























































































































































































































Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bow-Chica-Bow-Bow

Daily Stats:
Words: shiny
Caffeine: morning cup + midday cappuccino
Evil Calories: chocolate chip cookies, massive amounts of sushi for dinner last night (I'm on the fence whether this is actually evil. I did have to lay down after because I was so full. I really need to learn to stand up and take little walks in between spicy tuna rolls.)













So, my fellow writery/blogging friend, the talented and witty Debra Schubert over at Write on Target, nominated little ol' me for the prestigious Sexy Blogger Award! What does one have to do to have their blogging considered sexy, you ask? Well, here's what Ms. Legs-for-days-Debra had to say about me (seriously, check out the pics on her blog. She has stems to die for):

Vivi's the bomb. She's an awesome writer, keeps us updated on "evil calories" and thinks Rachel Ray is the anti-Christ. How sexy is that?

Never in a mil' did I think my propensity for sugar and my firm belief that Rachel Ray should play the next Pinhead could elevate me to "sexy" status. But if the shoe fits...

So, in order to accept this award highlighting my blogging sexiness, I must list
FIVE SEXY THINGS ABOUT MYSELF! (I have no idea why all that is in pink, so don't ask.) Then, I need to pass this award along to bloggers that I think bring a little sexy somethin'-somethin' to our blogosphere. Wow, no pressure or anything.

Okay, let's start with the
FIVE SEXY THINGS ABOUT MYSELF! (again, no idea why it's all in pink.)

1. My neck. It's long. According to my hubby, this is a good thing. I always thought I looked slightly ostrich-like. But apparently this is sexy. It's funny because I spend very little time on my neck. But now I'm thinking I should start investing in scarves. Hermes, naturally. Also considering bedazzling my neck from time to time. Must first investigate whether the glue will give me a rash. I'm fairly certain flaming red bumps would not be sexy.

2.
I write. Okay, I think it's sexy. But I'm convinced only writers find writing sexy. Everyone else thinks we're a bunch of weirdos.

3. I can cook my ta-tas off. Hells, yeah. Life is too short to eat shitty food. I HEART cooking. Last week I believe our dinner menu consisted of spicy corn chowder w/homemade tortilla chips, slow cooked pulled pork tacos with a cabbage and pickled onion slaw, and ham and asparagus frittata. I love making things from scratch and I DETEST prepackaged convenience foods. In this country we've been hoodwinked into thinking we can't make anything. I mean...frozen mashed potatoes??? Prefab pot roast? Seriously? And they try to make you feel like you're saving time/money. It's BS peeps. Come stay with me for a week. Mama teach you how to make some good eats.

4.
The fact that Dumb & Dumber is one of my favorite movies. It's true. I've probably seen it about five million times and the part where they eat the hot peppers still sends me into hysterics. As does Lloyd's daydream sequence where he fights the chef, the part with Harry in Mary's bathroom after Lloyd put laxatives in his tea, the part where Lloyd sees Harry and Mary together and starts to dry heave, and hubby's favorite, when they show up at the fundraiser and Lloyd sprays breath spray into the bad guy's eye.

5. I can throw a punch. First, let me say, I am NOT one of those crazy girls you see in a bar starting a fight with another girl over a fugly dude in a Kid Rock t-shirt. But I took kickboxing for many years and I can/will go all Jean-Claude Van Damme if I need to. I was taught well. Of course...my kickboxing instructor is now in prison for having questionable relations with an under-age girl, but still. (ever hear of Ken Levy? Yeah...he got himself into a bit of pickle.)

And now I have to pass the sexy blogging torch:

First one has to go to Bonehead Racing. Okay, so he hasn't updated his blog in about a year. He's still smart, handsome and happens to be married to me, which is awfully convenient. He likes to talk about tires and turbo injected thingy majiggers and torque modulated bla-blas, which usually makes me glaze over, but he can also make me laugh until I pee my pants. Now, that's sexy.

Second goes to Amy Ellis over at Girlworks. Of course I have to give one to my own sister! Clearly this "blogging sexiness" runs in our DNA. She's smart, her writing rocks and she's a total Star Wars geek. Hubba, hubba!

And lastly, I've got to give one to my girl Elizabeth over at Inside My Oyster. She's funny, her writing is amazing and her passion for digging around, finding the truth and telling it unabashed is inspiring. Plus, she looks like Laura Dern. I mean, c'mon. If you look up "sexy" in the dictionary there's a picture of Laura Dern. It's a no brainer.

So, thank to Debra for passing along this illustrious award. I will try and live up to the blogging sexiness that is expected of me. But mostly I'll just keep eating evil calories and throwing holy water on the TV every time 30 Minute Meals comes on the Food Network. That seems to be working for me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm goin' in, people

Daily Stats:
Words: okay go
Caffeine: morning cup + midday cappuccino
Evil Calories: AMAZING chocolate chip cookies that my dear friend Jessica brought me for my birthday. I've been chain-swallowing them by the handful.

I know I said we needed time apart. We weren't getting along and we were so sick of looking at each other we had nothing but curled lips and stink-eyes to share. I vowed to stay away until at least the end of May. But I can't. Because writing a book, that, for some sick and twisted reason you were meant to write, is like being in love. Real-life love, not cliche, stereotypical, birds chirping/butterflies fluttering, fakey frosting with sprinkles love. Real-life love can make you feel sick, can give you a headache, can make you question everything about yourself. It can make you feel like a dull, talentless sub-human with fat ankles. But you can't just walk away. You have to grab it by the ear and make it work, because you've come too far; put way too much of yourself into it. And even though you may appear silly, deluded or just plain stupid, you believe, in every nook of your bones, that you can make it work.

So, starting tomorrow, I am beginning my rewrite on AC. I've got my checklist all ready:

- fridge stocked with grapefruit flavored seltzer water
- desk candy jar fully stocked with Runts
- playlist assembled on iTunes (featuring Apres Un Reve, Op 7 No 1. If you haven't tried writing to this song, you should).
- gardenia scented hand lotion
- picture of The Brain from Pinky and The Brain on bulletin board
- box of tacks ready to maim above mentioned picture of The Brain, because he represents my stinky-faced inner critic and he can go suck it as far as I'm concerned. If he gets in my way I'll go medieval on him. I'm not kidding.

So, breathe...namaste...bonsai...wax on, wax off...paint the fence...there is no spoon...yadda, yadda, yadda...here I go...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Copious amounts of "duh"

Daily Stats:
Words: up
Caffeine: morning cup
Evil Calories: Let's not even talk about it, okay. Life is about moving forward and not dwelling on things like onion rings, coney dogs & cheesecake

Does anyone else have spring allergies that make your head feel like it's part cotton candy, part lava-lamp? I hate it with a fiery passion, and no matter how many allergy meds I take, I still feel like my head is about to fall off and bounce away. What's funny is that I notice odd things when I'm cavorting around town. Thing perhaps I wouldn't notice if my head were clear and non-slurry like. When I was at the mall, I bypassed all the spring handbags (clearly I'm ill) and zeroed in on the men's fragrance display. Namely, the men's Hummer fragrance that is now available for douche bags nationwide. Yes, Hummer. Because, you know, nothing says "sexy" like smelling like the gaping hole in our ozone layer. "Gee, babe, you smell like the death of our planet." "Thanks, it's my cologne. It reinforces my manliness when I'm going 90 on the freeway in the pouring rain, cutting off insignificant, fuel efficient vehicles and taking up 4000 parking spaces at Whole Foods."

Anyway, the other thing that suck rocks about having a head that feels like it's made entirely of Easy Cheese is that I find it slightly challenging to write anything worthwhile. However, I shant let the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition pass me by. I encourage all of my writery/blogging friends to participate as well. There are several different categories and the grand prize is $3000 and a trip to NYC. Although, you do have to pay to enter a MS, but, c'mon, what brings us more joy than shelling out $20 so some half stoned skater dude in the mailroom at Writer's Digest can spill Mountain Dew all over our work? Gives me warm fuzzies just thinking about it.


Friday, April 10, 2009

my week

Daily Stats:
Words: some
Caffeine: morning cup
Evil Calories: see below
Reality TV: ANTM reruns on Oxygen

Last Sunday morning, I woke up to this:














Monday morning, I woke up to this:














So, I spent the week making these:














However, not wanting to compromise my recent EIGHT POUND weight loss and ending up with this physique...


















...I sent them to work with hubby. Because I'm counting on those EIGHT POUNDS to help me convince the world that, even though I'm going to be 36 tomorrow, I am still young and chic:


















...and not:



















Because I swear that just a week ago, I looked like this:












(note the stylish eyepatch and homespun haircut. Love ya, mom!)

Anyway...happy weekend everyone! Oh...












...and Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Excerpt

Daily Stats:
Words: some
Caffeine: morning cup + lunchtime cappuccino
Evil Calories: evil fudgey brownies
Reality TV: ANTM reruns on Oxygen

I'm having one of those days. I'm sleep deprived, the darling boy is coming down with a cold and has spent most of the day using me as a pillow, and a snowstorm is fixing to dump on us at any moment. I was going to post, but when I dug into my bag of wit and charm, I came up empty handed. So, instead I decided to post an excerpt from chapter 6 of After Charlie. There's no particular reason, other than when I went to pop in and say hello to my vacationing AC folder, it was the first chapter I opened and was reminded how much I miss my girl Annie. It's not edited in the least, so it may seem clumsy and disjointed, but whatever. It's me. Currently I'm clumsy and disjointed as well.



Chapter 6

On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Annie received a strange call from a total lunatic. She wasn’t in the midst of a huge celebration surrounded by mingling friends about to slice through layers of sponge cake and butter cream when the phone rang. She was alone, watching the X-files and picking mats of yellow and white fur off of her cat, Poe, who, at nineteen pounds, had a rather difficult time tending to task by himself.

Aiding Poe in his grooming process wasn't exactly the way she'd envisioned ringing in her leap to adulthood, but when she dug the cordless phone from between the cushions of the couch and answered, her world took such a deep and neck-wrenching plunge that dander-ridden tufts of tabby hair where heavenly in comparison.

“How would you like to come to California for a weekend?” where the first words that came barging through the receiver, the voice abrupt and deadpan. It wasn’t that Annie was shocked that after fourteen years, her mother was making an attempt at parenthood; it was that, after fourteen years, these were the first words that her mother chose to say. It seemed not much had changed; that her mother still didn’t deem Annie fit for basic social pleasantries. No “hello”, “how are you?” or even a simple “happy birthday”. Her next words were, “There’s great shopping in the city. You should see for yourself. They have an FAO Schwartz too.” Annie wanted to pause the moment, pull out a pen and paper and begin making well arranged, bullet-pointed list of how flawed the conversation had been so far. Starting with the offensive non-greeting, moving on to the fact that Annie lived in a city and she was well aware of the shopping to be had, jumping then to the fact that she, her mother, had the audacity to suggest what Annie should or shouldn’t see, as if she’d been living in a barrel inside a cave for the last fourteen years and hadn’t seen anything worthwhile and thank God she called and decided to make an attempt at being human so Annie could finally live, and lastly moving on to the fact that, though her mother may have missed this little detail since she’d been away and missed so much, Annie was no longer seven, and the dangling of an FAO Schwartz in front of her face had little effect.

Annie would later realize that the pain stretching from her forehead all the way down to her pinky toe was absolute, unadulterated dread, and there wasn’t enough sighing, groaning or burying her face in her hands to capture just how much she did not want to go to California. Of course, to her dad it was a Greek tragedy in the making. Go meet your mother, the cold, cavernous void from whence you sprang, soak up all the irony, study all her nuances for signs of guilt and regret, have tense, metaphoric conversations, grope for answers, but end up leaving with more questions, then come home, write it all down in iambic pentameter and call it something deep yet quirky, like
Regret is a Bologna Sandwich on Rye.

Annie agreed to go, not because of her dad, but because of that little pest inside of her, nudging her, like she was passing a crumpled, overturned car on the side of the road. She didn't want look but she had to, just to see how bad it was. To say they were the worst three and a half days of her life would be far too mild a statement, since it limits the horrific weekend to just her life, when more accurately it would have been the worst three and half days for anyone in the history of time had they been forced to live it. Within five minutes of Annie’s mother picking her up from the airport (out on the curb at baggage claim, mind you, not actually parking or coming inside) they’d covered every topic (“how was the flight?” and “are you hungry?”) and every moment from that point on was drenched with a unnerving silence that made Annie’s skin hurt. Her mother had remarried a balding, alpha-male know-it-all with three kids from a previous marriage, who acknowledged Annie only when she accidentally unplugged their Nintendo 64 to plug in her alarm clock. There was no actual trip to the city or to FAO Schwartz and instead her mother offered to drop her off at the mall to shop on her own. When her mother wasn’t shirking her parental responsibilities, she’d just sit and nod along with her husband while staring out the window, seemingly as unattached to her current family as she had been to her last. On the last day of the trip, Annie broke her oversized sunglasses, came down with a horrible sinus infection, and discovered as she was packing that their evil Siamese cat had been using her suitcase as a litter box.

It was unclear why the distinct, prickly memory of that weekend suddenly hit Annie while she was re-filling coffee cups at the counter, looking up every so often to see Pepper Ann giving her little nods of approval from across the cafe. Just a few short minutes before, she'd introduced Annie in way that made everything in the room feel like it was letting out a long, relieved sigh.

“This is our friend Annie. She’s giving us a hand today.” She said it proudly, without apology, without that slight cringe that read, “I’m sorry she’s not Phoebe, but we’ll push through.” Our friend Annie. Not even our new friend Annie, just our friend, giving it weight and history. Our friend, instantly fusing Annie into a close-knit circle, which made her feel strange and content. And the customers didn’t protest or reject Annie’s attempts at small talk. Even the silent shriveling Len, who hadn’t seemed to notice her going from customer to pseudo-employee, put on his best fork-raise when she filled his coffee cup.

Her world - the one laden with boxes of letter and absent parents, traveling sort-of Aunts and silent, empty condos, estranged jobs and retreating friends – immediately lost its luster compared to the world of “our friend Annie”. She wasn’t usually one to entertain thoughts of a being a different person and heartily subscribed to the theory of the grass always seeming radiantly greener on the other side. Every life had its pitfalls, and yes, she could sit around imagining herself four inches taller, boobs a cup size bigger, hair thicker, wallet fatter, friends nicer, career sounder, but it would do nothing but make her feel worse when she when to live out the less impressive life she already had. But as she delivered eggs benedict and a sausage omelet with well-done hash browns to table six, passing Pepper Ann, who was itching the end of her nose, but still managed to smile and make it look effortless, she was “our friend Annie”, snuggling into it like a thick, wool pea coat.