nail shop parrots on winter break.

I am on Winter Break now (notice: I am writing again). I have 17 days to myself (mostly), with zero accountability for anybody else's brains or learning styles. This is what Freedom truly feels like.

Miss M is excited about Santa and opening presents in ways no words in any human language can accurately describe. On Monday, we are going to visit Santa Claus in person. She thinks he's an online amazon.com catalog: "Mommy, when I see Santa on Monday, I'm going to order a Frozen princess doll! And I'm also going to order a fake kitchen with some toys."

On Christmas Eve morning, we always decorate cookies with her cousins and some friends and make magic reindeer salad and oatmeal glitter for the reindeer. And then we watch a puppet show at my mom's (her Grammy's) Methodist church. (Off-topic side note: I have a deep-seated belief in Something Out There, but have serious issues with organized religion. For instance, I generally really dig Jesus but gaze with wary eyes on many of his followers. And I think there is more than one path to God and no one religion holds all the answers and it's arrogant to assume (a) you know which team God roots for the most, and (b) you know the mind of God in general. Still,  I'm a total sap for that moment we're all standing around with our fellowship-lit candles singing Silent Night and wishing Baby Jesus a big old Happy Birthday to You, Sir of Peace. In fact, I'm tearing up right now, just thinking of it.) And every year, we do Santa's Portable North Pole (PNP). Do you know about it? You should. Here's why: Santa's Message to Melissa. And no, I did NOT tell Santa he could go ahead and put little Miss M on his Nice List. If you'd been around little Miss M for much of 2013, you'd understand why. I mean, she'll make it...but by the skin of her teeth.

My Art of the Story class has concluded. I completely flaked and never wrote my 700 word story that I was supposed to for Assignment #5. However, I have one to write over the next 17 days for when we meet again. Because good news! About 6 of us in the class loved each other SO much, we've hired the instructor to continue the experience throughout January and February at a lovely local restaurant's private dining room. Food, drinks, storytelling, budding friendships, and merriment. Life simply doesn't get better than that, reader friends.

I'm in a quandry, though. Recently, I experienced some most awesome human interactions from which to craft stories: (1) the parrot lady in the nail shop, (2) the pregnant woman breaking up with her baby daddy during a football game, and (3) the crazy knitting lady at the craft store. Which one would you most like to read about?

That's what I thought. Let me tell you about the parrot lady in the nail shop:

When I went to get a manicure/pedicure two weeks ago, I sat down to wait for my chair to be ready, and some lady was speaking to some creature in an animal cage. Seriously. Speaking to it, encouraging it to cluck like a chicken. This lady is CRAZY, I thought, as most humans are wont to do when confronted with people who take avians into traditionally non-avian locations. After awhile, the lady took the animal from the cage. It was an African Grey parrot, and she sat in her spa chair nuzzling its neck and making grunting sounds at it--when not requesting it cluck like a chicken. Then, then.....they sat me next to her. This was most fortunate, because I happen to love being sat next to eccentric people with little regard for societal norms and standards.

So I'm to the right of the bird lady. On the other side of her is a pregnant lady texting on her phone. In front of us is a lady with her back to us, getting her fingernails done. The two nail shop workers are busy/deep in thought. Nobody--I mean NOBODY--appeared to be the slightest bit concerned or even casually aware that this lady HAD A PARROT ON HER KNEE.

Friends, it was too much. Too much. I mean, can we all just acknowledge that this lady in this nail shop had a parrot on her KNEE?? No. No, we couldn't; I was the only one willing to acknowledge and deal with. And I knew. I knew I could simply not just...sit there. I could not just sit there, get my nails done like no big deal, yeah a parrot in the nail shop, whatever. And then let the woman pack up her bird and leave, never once acknowledging: Hey Lady. Um, why'd you bring a bird into a nail shop?  Who in the world doesn't deal head-on with people who bring parrots into non-pet shops? 98% of the people at that nail shop two weeks ago, that's who.

Thankfully, my parents bought an African Grey parrot while I was in college. So I had a connection! I told the lady this, and let her know our African Grey had been called "Max." What was her African Grey's name? Miles, she responded. Mrs. Miles, actually.

And for the next 25 minutes she delivered a fascinating monologue about Mrs. Miles and the history of Mrs. Miles. For example:

*Mrs. Miles lays eggs every Spring. Laying eggs makes Mrs. Miles egg-constipated and hormonal, and this makes Mrs. Miles extremely vicious. Lynne (the parrot lady) had no less than 1,000 beak slash marks on her arms and hands.

*Mrs. Miles is toilet-trained. Yes, toilet-trained. And every morning when Lynne wakes her up, Mrs. Miles says, "I have to poop." Then she climbs out of her cage, over to the nearby bathroom, climbs up, and, well, poops. Isn't that magnificent? I think that's the most magnificent thing I've heard all of 2013.

*Lynne, her husband (god love him), and Mrs. Miles live with eight--EIGHT--cats. All eight cats are terrified of Mrs. Miles. Terrified. Mrs. Miles once tried to murder one of them, and she bit the tail off another. They all know what Mrs. Miles is capable of, and they furiously try never, ever to make eye contact with her. They give Mrs. Miles a wide, respectable berth when she's about.

But the most awesome part of the whole experience was when the lady with her back to us turned around and realized, "Oh my god! There's a BIRD! I heard some weird sounds; I thought someone was passing gas. I was trying to be polite and not say anything...but wow. There's a BIRD!" And then proceeded to tell us all how terrified she was of birds.

Then, the most awesome of awesome parts of the whole experience happened (and this is why I love other human beings so deeply and completely): the lady in front of us told Lynne she knew African Greys can go for 1,000s of dollars, and asked Lynne why she didn't sell Mrs. Miles and make some money? This was Lynne's very somber and quiet response:

"Oh, no. No, I wouldn't sell this girl here for $1,000,000. Mrs. Miles and I have been together a long, long time. I've seen her through a lot, she's seen me through a lot. We've been together through thick and thin, so she's worth much more to me than any money. I love Mrs. Miles and I'd be lost without her. I can't imagine the world without Mrs. Miles in it. She's my sweetest, best friend on Earth."

So. I walked in to that nail shop going: OMG! A crazy lady!! But by the time Lynne and Mrs. Miles walked out the door, I was begging for Lynne's phone number. I'd fallen deeply in love with both--just when I think the world is full of the nefarious and frightful, I meet a Lynne and her Mrs. Miles. People like Lynne and her Mrs. Miles remind me why this crazy little rock in the Milky Way is actually chock-full of sweetness and light, in spite of right wing talk radio and the Kardashians.

Which is why I probably will not write my 700 word story for workshopping about that. I will probably go with the pregnant lady breaking up with her baby daddy via phone during a football game for the story. Word to the wise, friends: if you don't want to end up in some budding, unpubbed writer's short story for a writers' workshop, do not--DO NOT--have your crazy on display in public. Don't do it! For the record: turns out, Lynne & Mrs. Miles weren't actually crazy after all; they were sweet and good and kind and lovely. The baby daddy thing, however, was pure de-Crazy.

However, I might still add Mrs. Miles to the story--I think baby daddies who abandon their babies at the very last minute via phone during a football game should totally be turned into eunuchs by hormonal African Grey parrots. It makes a satisfying ending. It may win me a Pulitzer. And I'm totally dedicating my first novel to Mrs. Miles.


art of story

I'm taking a writing class called Art of Story. It's good; I love the people in my class. What I love most about people I meet in Writers' Circles and writing classes is the great diversity. Most writers are kind of eccentric to begin with; it's an introspective, solitary activity, and if you don't get out of the house or away from your computer, I think you spend way too much time in your own head. I don't know about you, but when I spend way too much time in my own head I typically end up in a fetal position in some corner, mourning my life and questioning everything. Every. Thing.

Anyway, from writers' groups and classes, I've met all kinds of people: Goth people with exactly 100 facial piercings and bodies covered in meaningful tattoos, quiet grandmas who like to write children's stories about reindeer, and some people who've never written a thing in their lives--they just got a notion in their heads that they've been called to write a novel. I've met other people who are the next Alice Munro (and I hate them) (no! I'm kidding--I just want to leech myself onto their brains and steal their magnificence).

Specifically, I've been asked not to write about my classmates on this blog, so I will not. However, I would like to throw out there into the ethos that I love them all. Eight of us went for drinks after class last week, and I sat and listened a lot and just absorbed their awesomeness and great senses of humor. I embrace their eccentricities and individual talents, and am supremely glad to know I share the planet with each one of them. I hope we find a way to keep in touch forever when it's over.

Our teacher (who says I can write about her, specifically), is chock full of knowledge about writing, good storytelling, and publishing. I love to listen to her talk; she's professorial and literary. I like people who use big words but in a way that anyone listening can use context clues and figure out what they're talking about. I think it's a talent.

Two weeks ago, our assignment was to go out in the world and eavesdrop on a conversation, then write a scene with a conflict and character development via action. I love this, and do it all the time. However, two weeks ago was a bad time for that. I ended up at a sports bar, which are notoriously bad places to eavesdrop on conversations. And coffee shops? Who the heck has time for those (except at 7:30 a.m. when your brain doesn't work)?

So I went to YouTube, found an interesting interview with one of my favorite actors and catapulted. It's not perfect--for one, I think it reads like a trashy beach novel, and I do not want to write those. Second, it has some character/story inconsistencies and one too many adverbs. I knew this going in, and sure enough, those are what they all pointed out. (Can I just say, though, that I think maybe adverbs are my writing style? Ernest Hemingway wrote really short sentences about fishing and bull fighting. William Faulkner wrote a lot of stream-of-consciousness and inner brain thoughts of characters. Amy Samson shall write with a lot of adverbs, and do so unapologetically.)

Anyway, this has been a good thing for me. It gets me out of the house, thinking about writing and proper storytelling, and gives me a lot of good assignments that keep me accountable, and keeping me accountable is probably the only thing that keeps me together. Were I not accountable to anyone, I feel quite sure I'd be a panhandler sleeping in a cardboard box right now. Or waiting tables at Hooters. One of those.

Our next challenge: to write a 500-700 word short story that includes character development via action, exposition, rising action, conflict, falling action, and resolution. And avoid adverbs and inconsistencies, which I will take a very good shot at. There's a lot to think about when creating story, and I like that. But it also hurts my brain and I have no idea where to start. The writing prompt (if we need it) is: pick an object in our house with a lot of meaning to us and either build the story around it or incorporate into the story. I can't think of a single object in my house with a lot of meaning to me (yes, seriously).

I am currently trying to come up with as many "What if...?" scenarios as humanly possible and go from there because I think all good stories ultimately begin with a "what if?" question that needs answering.

What if...I bought a plane ticket to Fiji tomorrow and didn't show up for work on Monday? (I actually know the answer to this question, and it's less than pleasant.) (See? Accountability.)


self-defense for your soul (and write your own life).

I have two favorite movies that have shaped, influenced, and impacted my life in gigantic ways, and the writerly connection is that they are both based on great works of literature: The Wizard of Oz and Living Out Loud. 

When I first saw The Wizard of Oz, I was maybe six or seven. I wanted to meet Dorothy--no, better yet, I wanted to BE Dorothy. She was country girl cute yet pretty wily, she could sing, and she had a very limber boyfriend named Scarecrow. She was 1940's hip (because I'm an old soul). This was back in the 70's/early 80's, before the age of the VCR, so I had to wait once every year to watch it when it came on network television in March or April (because this was also before the age of satellite and cable). It was The Event of the Year for me, second only to Christmas, and sort of like I imagine the Emmys and Oscars are if you have a job in Hollywood. Which I do not. Though I think I should. Except my skin is too thin and I'd be eaten alive.

Side story: when I was seven, we moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma. Living in Oklahoma is where I realized: wow, that thing that takes Dorothy to Oz is a tornado. And here in Oklahoma, what are there a lot of? Tornadoes! That's right! Woo boy! We're goin' to OZ, baby! COOL!  So, every day in Oklahoma goes like this: Could there be a tornado today? Why, yes. Yes, there could be, because this is Okla-tornado-homa. Kids in Oklahoma grow up knowing: today could be your very last day on earth. Because Tornado Watch (a constant in that state) means Maybe, and Tornado Warning (always looming on the horizon) equals Kiss Everyone You Know Good-bye. It's just how people live down there 350 days out of the year. Ask anyone from Oklahoma. They'll tell you. Congress really ought to do something about it (but we all know they won't because some of them still believe Jesus had a pet dinosaur).

So every day, there'd be a tornado watch which would often switch to a tornado warning suddenly and without provocation. My mom would start running around like a chicken with the head cut off, gathering up pillows, small brother, wayward dog, photos, jewelry, birth certificates, fresh underpants, etc...and she'd shove us all into our Safe Room (aka the guest bathroom tub because it was the lowest room in the center of the house), and I'd be running back and forth from window to window screaming, "Is it here yet? Is it HERE yet?? Is it HERE???" absolutely, psychotically convinced we were all about to be taken up in the air in a tornado where we'd see magnificent things like flying cows, rednecks in boats, and an evil spinster schoolmarm who'd turn into an evil spinster cackling witch right before our very eyes. And then we'd kill her with our house, skip down the Yellow Brick Road, and sing and eat over-sized lollipops with the munchkins. Happily Ever After, The End. Seven year olds are very concrete thinkers.

So one day, after a particularly harrowing near-miss by a friendly, locally-grown tornado, my mom grabbed me and sat me down on the sofa. She asked, "Amy, why are you so excited about tornadoes? It sounds like you want a tornado to hit our house while we're in it. Do you want a tornado to hit our house?" So I outlined my big Trip to Oz travel itinerary, and as my mother listened, she grew very very somber. When I finished, she shook her head sadly. After a big sigh, she carefully stood and walked to our living room bookcase. She took down a gigantic tome called NATURAL DISASTERS OF AMERICA. She placed this tome on my skinny, innocent seven year old knees as if it were an ancient copy of the Bible and she said in a dark, ominous tone, "No, Amy. No. The Wizard of Oz is just a make believe story. Tornadoes are real. Tornadoes kill people, Amy. If a tornado hit our house, it wouldn't take us anywhere. It would smash us to smithereens and we'd all be dead. Do you understand what I'm telling you? Tornadoes are horrible, evil things. Oz doesn't exist but death by tornado does."

And then she opened up NATURAL DISASTERS OF AMERICA to page 1,965, a page splashed with pictures of house (and people) all smashed to smithereens.  I spent the next 6 hours of my young life perusing this book of NATURAL DISASTERS OF AMERICA, learning all about the different ways Mother Nature can, and will, kill you.

Epilogue to this sad childhood memory/side story: Talk therapy for childhood traumas can only take you so far, and so if the world is to be destroyed by a global wind-like disaster I would be the very last person you'd want on your Apocalypse Team. I will be cowering, in fetal position, under something like I do right now in my pantry beneath the corn cans. I'd be the kind of drowning person who'd hold onto the lifeguards trying to save her and end up drowning all of us; I'm sure lifeguards are warned never to attempt to save people like me. If there is ever a natural disaster, just leave me! Just leave me. Save yourselves.

But here's why I continue to love The Wizard of Oz in spite of my mother's maternal destruction of her innocent daughter's magical dreams: The Wizard of Oz has ingredients for an important life recipe. Every child should be exposed to it. Yes, every child! Even though, okay right, there are freakish flying monkeys and, of course. You're absolutely correct, cackling witches are NO laughing matter. Listen, whatever. Just do like I've done with 4 year old Miss M and tell your scaredy cat kid to just suck it up. When they grow up, they can get a good therapist and they'll be fine. Mostly. (But do save the natural disaster tomes for when they're emotionally mature enough to handle the disappointing realities of Mother Nature's dark side.)

The moral to the story/life recipe of The Wizard of Oz is that the access to all your dreams coming true is already inside of you. Whatever riches of treasures you think you'd like, they're in you already--you don't have to look very far at all. And I like that, even though my mother's actions one afternoon sent me reeling into years of panic attacks during windstorms (yes yes yes! Any kind of wind), I like that she did a really wonderful motherly thing that day even as she destroyed my childhood magic: she never pointed out to me that the story of Oz is actually about believing in and depending on yourself; she let me discover it in the movie myself. You had it in you all the time, silly little goose! And get away from that window--it's the most dangerous place you could possibly be in a tornado!

The other movie that has impacted my life in unimaginable ways is Living Out Loud. It's an obscure movie made way back in 1998/1999, starring Holly Hunter and Queen Latifah, and it was based on two short stories by Anton Chekov. Every time I find myself and/or my life in flux, I watch this movie, sometimes 400 times in one weekend. It's about living life on your terms, learning to say no to other people's bullshit, and a whole slew of other things I constantly forget even after having gone through a a whole butt load of bad life and romance experiences over the last 41 years which you'd think I'd learn finally, but no because that's simply not how I do things. So thank god for DVDs, and Richard Lagravenese, who made this movie. It is not lost on me at all that Richard Lagravenese is a man who made a really sensitive, thoughtful movie about a woman who learns to live out loud after living so silently for so long, which makes Richard Lagravenese a rare find. (For that matter, so was Anton Chekhov.)

At any rate, every young girl starting at age 16 should be exposed to this movie; I am certain my life would have taken a totally different course had I been exposed to this movie by age 16. (You can drag out the tome about natural disasters by age 16, too. By age 16 a person is big enough. Just don't show them page 1,112 which has a man stuck in an earthquake fault crack as if he's about to be swallowed alive by the planet. That's...just stay off of that page, okay? Be gentle with your fragile mind. Mother Nature is a nasty b-word.)

Mostly, I think I'm thinking about learning how to know yourself down to the very center of the very core of your very deepest abyss because I'm thinking about how the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and who we'd like to become and what we're truly capable of become our past, present, and future realities. We can constantly rearrange our passages and rewrite our endings, as well as a lot of our middles. But you know what I've realized over the years? This is a dirty endeavor, writing a story about yourself, for yourself--mostly because of the many, many people who want to either help you write long passages of it, or just flat out insist on writing it for you (helicopter writers).

So learning how to (a) find your story and then (b) write it is not for the weak of spirit. I mean, a lot of these helicopter writers who like to tell other people what their stories are don't even know the difference between there, their, and they're. Don't even get me started on the misuse of your and you're. It's a real struggle to find your dreams and live out loud when you're trying to write while following the rules of people who are completely inept at proper grammar mechanics.

Elizabeth Gilbert, one of my writing heroes, says she thinks all women, but especially young girls, should travel to foreign (and not so foreign) places and learn to feel through the loneliness of traveling alone. Isn't that a great metaphor for life? Learn how to travel, solo. Learn how to take your walks around a strange place in the world during the day, eat dinner, and then be okay with being by yourself from 7:30 until dawn the next day. Because when you can do that, you can find yourself. Which means hopefully you'll know yourself so well, you won't ever end up sharing any part of your soul or your life with a helicopter writer who wants to write your story, because, thanks but no thanks, you've got this. And when you find yourself, you don't even want other people who are really prolific writers who know how to spell and use contractions correctly to write your life, because you've learned that everything you really desire is already inside of you--it's been in you all along. Just like Dorothy does in The Wizard of Oz and Judith does in Living Out Loud. And Elizabeth Gilbert did, period.

I wish I could teach a class for young girls ages 14-18 about this (gentle, sensitive boys welcome as well). I would like to teach a class on self-defense for the soul: we would watch gentle, thoughtful movies like  The Wizard of Oz and Living Out Loud and write down our thoughtful thoughts about their gentle recipes. We would read books like Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott, and Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. We would take individual field trips to different European countries of our choice, walk around their cities alone, eat dinner alone, go to sleep alone, and then meet back at the classroom in two weeks to write our essays. As an extending, culminating activity, we'd go all Walt Whitman and spend two weeks in nature in silence and thought (which, by the way, I did this in high school, but surrounded by other high schoolers...who are notoriously BAD at taking people like Walt Whitman serious). At the end we'd write our final essays and share.

If this country and its Congress had its priorities on straight, there'd be a class like this in every high school. (Actually, if this country and its Congress had its priorities on straight, I'd be Secretary of Education and Arne Duncan would sharpen my pencils and Michelle Rhee would be my coffee girl. But I digress.)

Just thinking today. Out loud. Happy there are no tornado watches on the horizon.


micromanaging travel people stories.

I have not edited or revised my story Emmaline. I don't know why; maybe it's the cheesy ending. Maybe it's the fact I can't get out of my day job until 5:00 pm at the earliest. Which is about an hour and a half better than last year--maybe next year I'll be able to leave by 4:00. Big plans, small steps.

I am writing right now: sitting at a computer, typing. Which means I *could* be revising Emmaline instead of typing randomly into the silent blogosphere. It is on my to-do list for today (revising Emmaline--typing randomly into the silent blogosphere was not). Along with meal menu planning, grocery store shopping, laundry and folding two baskets of laundry that have been sitting in my closet for 4 months. No, seriously. Four months, because laundry has been too much for me to handle (what hasn't been? Please add cleaning the kitchen, dusting, vacuuming, and toilets to this list. Of these five, toilets are the worst. I'm very tempted to go back to outhouses, and please know I type that with a very grave, serious face. Outhouses were a smelly but brilliant concept, and really only undoable in the dead of winter during a blizzard, which is when chamber pots came in handy) (I would not be able to handle chamber pots, by the way).

Really, I'm just here to write so I can keep my writing muscles conditioned, so if you have something to do (i.e., laundry to fold and put away, toilets to clean), may I gently urge you to click off this web page, shut down your computer, and go do it? Nothing worthwhile is about to happen here, and also I'm not feeling creative today so I really just have another list of random thoughts to share:

1-I can't imagine anything better in Life than people watching. Have you tried it? I like to watch people and try to figure out how they got from point A (babyhood) to point B (wherever I am watching them). Why does that old lady have a full arm sleeve of tattoos? When did she get them and why? Why is that lovely young couple sitting at the table across from me just staring sadly at their plates, not saying a word to each other? What happened? Where is that lady without pants on going with that big animal trap cage and long white blanket? Oh, there she is again! Where did the trap and blanket go? And where did she get the big maroon umbrella from? What just happened? Are the animals okay?!?

Story is everywhere.

I recently discovered this Facebook page: humans of new york. I think every city should have one (actually, there may be copy cat versions of this page for different cities worldwide all over Facebook, and I've just been too lazy to look for them). So many stories, and so many sweet human beings. And sad ones. It's my suspicion that even our most hardened criminals may have some sweet, sad life stories to tell. Even my 4 year old, who hasn't lived on the planet for long at all, has at least 4 sweet, sad life stories to tell (and she will tell them all to you, if you promise to take her on an outing to the park or somewhere).

2-I would like to take a trip. A Big Trip. I have never traveled outside the USA (Bahamas and Mexico don't count; they are too close), and I think it's incredibly important to travel outside of our confines and cultural comfort zones. Americans in particular, because we're such a huge country with so many travel-within-the-USA options--if you think about it, we really have a lot here: deserts, mountains (both rocky and green), beaches (tropical and rocky), many different kinds of forests, swamps, frozen tundra...I could go on. And we have 50 different states, each with their own sub-culture and personality. You could spend a lifetime just getting to know and see America.

But the planet is so vast, with so many different ways of life that are drastically different from the over-arcing common one we share here, and I would like to go see it; I think Minnesota would be a vastly different experience than what I'm used to here in Georgia, yet I wouldn't really be stretching my cultural comfort zone by going to Minnesota, would I? I could find a Starbucks there. And about 100 Wal-Marts, too (sadly).

I would like to visit somewhere in the world that has no idea what a Wal-Mart is. Or at least sit in a coffee shop in Mumbai and do some people watching. Or try to figure out someone's story in a restaurant in Italy. Or wonder about pants-less people wandering the streets of Argentina carrying animal traps around. Because I think humans all over the world are very similar at our core, but the why's may be vastly different, and I like that. Also, one of my big writer dreams is to write irreverent, off beat travel articles and I can't exactly do that if I just stick to one country (or, I suppose I can, but then I'm not stretching my cultural comfort zones and that's my point).

So, in typical insulated American style, of course I've decided to dip my toes into the world oceans by starting in the UK. They speak English there (mostly--sometimes I do need subtitles, and maybe a slang dictionary reference), and of course they have Prince Harry (thank you thank you, England!). My great great grandmother came from Wales, and I'd like to go there. And Scotland, because maybe I'll run into Gerard Butler or James McAvoy, and of course they have men in kilts there. Sometimes. And Ireland makes the best cheese and butter and stout beer ever.

What I'm saying is I'd like to stretch my cultural comfort zones, but in baby steps. I think Europe is a good place to start and then I'll be ready to stretch big and wide, with the intentions to end big--somewhere ancient and dangerous, like the the pyramids of Egypt. I hear it's dangerous in that part of the world now, and my prayer for them is that they are able to sort themselves out and my prayer for us is that we let them do that without forcing unsolicited advice or help onto them, because usually when America tries to sort other countries out without asking, "Hey, would you guys like a little help?" and then respecting them if they say, "Thanks, but no. We'd like to do it ourselves," they seem to end up hating us and it turns into just a big ol' mess and eventually some terrorist group forms and does something atrocious. In fact, I'm sure one reason the Middle East has to sort themselves out right now is because of our inability to not micromanage.

3-Micromanagers. Why? WHY??? I think if you feel the need to micromanage things or people, you've already lost the war. Forget the battle: you're drunk on power, and it's cost you the war. You're drunk, go home.

I need to fold and put away laundry and add food to the house (we have no food). And grade papers. Go deal with Emmaline's cheesy ending. Figure out how to budget for a trip overseas. Go find some interesting people to wonder about.

I'm so busy, yet I waste so much time. I should hire a micromanager to fix me, shouldn't I?


a list of random writerly thoughts

1-I have finished the story of Emmaline (including one crap ending, because I needed to wrap that thing up). If anyone reading this would like to be a beta (test) reader for it, let me know--it's completely unedited, and god knows when I'll find time to edit/revise it. But I'd love any kind of (constructive) feedback.

2-I discovered Michael Erard today. He's an author, journalist, and linguist. He also wrote an interesting article once for the New York Times about escaping your own shadow when you write. Two things about this article:

(1) I loved this quote: "I'm a dancer who walks for a living." (Aren't we all, Michael? Aren't we all?) (Maybe not all of us--I think Charlie Sheen may just have discovered the magic to dancing through life for a living.)

(2) Structural priming/Syntactic persistence: you repeat patterns you've read or said earlier in your own writing (and, I guess, talking since we're dealing with language here). Basically: don't read or write anything you don't want to repeat later in your own writing. Turn off the Web (Michael! What?!?!) No email, no twitter, no facebook, no blogs, no books, no essays, no newspaper articles, no nothin'. Before you write. Because it'll pattern up in your brain, and your brain will want to write stuff like it just saw on that one friend's Facebook status update in your newsfeed and that friend can't spell for shite, so don't do it! Do Not Do It.

Which I think is (a) good, sound advice, (b) really hard to do, and (c) I'm going to try it, but poop, Michael Erard, do you understand how frickin' HARD this will be for me and my addictive personality to come to grips with? Man.

Please note: Michael Erard has an open invitation to any summer barbeque at my house from now until infinity. He sounds much smarter than Charlie Sheen, and--just going off from what I perused briefly on his website--I like him. We could smack mosquitoes off our arms and legs and talk story well into the evening, gorging on ribs and smoked chicken legs. (I hope he's not a vegan.)

(3) Jason Isaacs. I discovered him much earlier than today, and have written at length about my embarrassing lust tremendously innocent and very pure admiration for him. He's not a linguist, but he is a very good actor and just seems to be an all around very nice, decent human being. Who maybe needs a personal assistant willing to sort socks and screen calls and cook dinner for him? (I'm just grasping here--what do actors of stage and screen have their personal assistants do? Is there a school for it? And could a 4 year old indignant girl tag along for much of it? And, more importantly, would Jason Isaacs leave me alone long enough each day for me to write blog articles into the silent Internet atmosphere and maybe craft a crap story here or there?)

Anyway, I digress. One of the reasons I am most drawn to this man (besides the British accent and wolf-like blue eyes) is that, in many interviews, he talks a lot about storytelling, and people who worry about storytelling are exactly the kinds of people I like to invite over for barbeques and sit on my back porch with, getting eaten up by mosquitoes, talking shop. He talks about what good storytelling is and isn't, and that makes me want to clean his toilets for him and I hate toilet cleaning.

Here, according to Mr. Isaacs (via my summarization and interpretation of several interviews I've watched or read) is what good storytelling is:

(1) You start with a "what if?" question and go from there.

(2) In the process, you spend much of your time building character, and you build character by attempting to figure out what makes people tick: what makes people fall in/out of love? what makes people hate? why do good people do bad things and vice versa? etc etc.

So here's my thing about this:  I have a lot of "what if?" questions, and it sounds like that's a good start. My personal irony is that I'm asked--all damn day long--a lot of "what if?" questions by people under the age of 10 (including one under the age of 5) who craft stories much the same way crazed monkeys like to throw feces at each other, which means me hearing any phrase starting with the words "what if..." is sure to make my right eye start twitching wildly.

Although, now that I've written all that, I suppose I should and could do a writing craft lesson on using your "what if?" questions as a spring board to write a really good personal narrative. "What if we're just in the bathroom doing our business and a big 5th grader comes in and starts throwing toilet paper at our heads?" (actual "what if?" question I recently received) would make an excellent premise for a really interesting coming of age story, I bet.

(4) My fifth metatarsal. It's still broken, but I'm allowed to walk on it in regular shoes. I go back in a few days for some (hopefully) final x-rays. It slightly aches if I'm on it too long, but it doesn't hurt, and I'm told it may never really heal. Even so, I'll be able to walk, hop, run, etc on it because it's pretty solid and not going anywhere. If it starts hurting, I'll probably have to have a pin put in it. I'm fine with this, and just joyous to have both feet back on the ground and the use of both hands while upright again. I will never, ever take walking for granted again. I will never, ever climb a fence again...okay, maybe if it's the Apocalypse and there's fresh, clean water on the other side of a fence. But other than that, no! I have softly closed the chapter on my climbing fences dreams. Sometimes dreams must die.

(5) School has begun again. I am tired. I am tired, exhausted, knackered, wasted, drained, fagged, faint, fatigued, empty, played out, petered out, pooped, run down, haggard, overtaxed, tuckered, done in and done for, worn out, and really really droopy. Sundays are sad, and Mondays are so so hard. I am, at this point, one of those people who works to live for the weekend. Jason Isaacs had something to say about that, too, in this video I saw on YouTube, and I felt wistful and not a little bit jealous of him at the end of it.

We'd talk about that, too, on my back porch while eating barbeque. I'd ask for his advice on how to find a vocation that is what you love (particularly one in the arts, which are notoriously hard to break into and make a decent wage at), and then we'd ask Michael Erard for his thoughts as well, and also to please pass the citronella spray.


hormones and words.

I have started....a story. I think it's just a short story, and I really have no idea what it's about or where it's going. I put what I've written so far (rough rough ROUGH draft with zero editing, please be kind) in my ::snippets:: section. I just felt like writing a story about an older lady named Emmaline who no longer cares what people think of her. I bet this is because lately I feel the need to find my inner Emmaline, bring her out, and parade her around shamelessly and with abandon.

I am hormonal, have been since about Tuesday, and each day has been progressively worse. Some activities have lightened it: swimming at my sister in law's neighborhood pool with my little girl (I felt practically whole-bodied again!), going out for dinner with former work team members/people who are precious pieces of my heart. I think it's important to note here that every activity that has lightened my hormonal festering has involved me getting out of the house. (With one exception: I took Melissa to the library on Tuesday, where we were shushed 3 times and I almost broke my other foot trying to carry the bag of books we'd put on hold...I feel this may have begun the hormonal rage.)

The problem with leaving the house is this: I have to be on my good foot, which means my broken foot swells to elephantine proportions, and this is not good, according to my orthopedist and "sports doc" on ehealthboards.com. Which gets me worrying. And then I get pessimistic and annoyed and begin having thoughts that go something like: Really. I'm going to be walking on July 3? I don't think so orthopedist. What the heck do YOU know? Sports doc and all the other experts on the fractured metatarsal board at ehealthboards.com seem to think otherwise. (Please ignore me when I get like this: I'm just wallowing.)

I am tired of the Paula Deen controversy. It's been chewed up and spit out at this point, much like her, and I'm not sure what else good, non-prejudiced people not harboring resentments in their hearts are supposed to say or feel about it now. I liked it a few weeks ago when we all linked arms and stood strong against prejudice and racism and started buying Cheerios like the dickens. Even the people who are now all angry and mad about how Paula's getting treated were in agreement--leave that interracial family alone, they aren't bothering you! In America, we can kind of shine like that; we're good people when we see people getting beat down for no real reason other than them trying to live a life.

Which is why I think so many are rushing to Paula's defense. I just wish they were doing it in ways that didn't sound like excuses for what she said. If Paula Deen jumps off a bridge, how many will jump with her? Quite a few, if the internet is to be believed.

Please know: I do feel for Paula; I hate to see people get fired for speech, especially in a country that promotes free speech and all. But dammit, I abhor what she said (and, quite frankly, think her brother Bubba needs intensive talk therapy, possibly medication) and it should be addressed. So yes. Got a little hormonal/cabin fever/stir crazy, started reading commentary under news articles posted in my facebook news feed (tip: NEVER a smart idea when suffering from hormones and cabin fever), and then started seeing people I know and love talking about it, qualifying and excusing what she said. So I spoke up, in sort of hormonal way. One, because I have made a pact with myself to ALWAYS speak up when I see or hear prejudice, and two, because I was pretty frickin' hormonal and had had enough.

Needless to say, it did not go well.

Anywho. I have not written any freelance blog articles. I've been over at blogmutt looking for some, but what these people requesting articles written for them actually seem to need makes me want to get a bunch of push pins and stick them repeatedly in my brain. I would rather write about angry Southern older ladies, painted up for Dia de los Muertos, taking naked pictures of themselves flipping the bird at nosy, busybody townsfolk. This will not earn me a single penny (sorry friend Becky, if you're reading--I think I promised you a fancy Subway lunch with my first article's earnings). Writing short stories that lack direction is much funner (I know that's not a word; I just like it better than "more fun").

I feel like I need to end this article in a sort of pithy, witty, really wrapped up kind of way. But my kid is demanding access to abcmouse.com, and so I'm going to abruptly end this without a single ounce of closure for you.

...Except to say: please don't make excuses for the n-word, or get angry about black people getting to use it. Sometimes, people just get to do things you can't, and there's nothing you can do about that. And please don't get worked up about people calling you cracker or honky and nothing bad happening to them. Because first of all, cracker and honky both have the hard "c" sound in them, and I once read an article somewhere about writing comedy that said words with the hard "c" sound always get laughs. And second, because the words cracker and honky, if put in a boxing ring in a world championship fight against the n-word and all its ugly and hateful history, would be TKO in half a second flat. And if you don't believe me about that, gather some of your friends, black and white, to stand on a street corner and scream these words at each other. Every single one of you will look absolutely ridiculous, but I'd bet half a million dollars I don't have the people getting the n-word screamed at them will be the winners (nobody wants to repeat that kind of history, unless they wear hooded sheets to cross burning rallies).


every summer has a story: mine is titled "Blessing in Disguise"

I have written, but not decently. Mostly, my writing practice takes place in the form of sporadic, long-winded Facebook status updates. Because when Life poops down poopy poop on me, this is what happens: (1) I crawl into a cave of self-pity grief and moping. The End. (There is no (2)...when I started making this list, I thought there would be a (2), but then I realized, nope. There is no (2). Just self-pity grief and moping.)

Since I last posted about genre-finding, I've experienced a series of unfortunate events, as Lemony Snicket would posit (there will be a more comprehensive list for this part):

1- After 12 years of classroom trailer teaching, I asked for--and was granted, thank you thank you thank you--a move into the building. But this also meant I had to pack up an entire classroom of stuff in a mere 5 hours (for those who think a mere 5 hours is plenty of time to pack up one little ol' classroom, let me laugh wildly here and suggest knowingly, "One does not simply....pack up...an entire elementary classroom in a mere 5 hours." Show me someone who thinks this is an easy human possibility, and I will show you someone who works closely with or for Michelle Rhee and her Corporate Education Reformer Friends, and/or someone who has spent minimal (MINIMAL) time doing actual classroom teaching as a legitimate job. One does not simply...pack up...an entire elementary classroom in mere hours and certainly not if they're doing it on their own, all by themselves.

Or, in my case, when they do, they end up breaking something. See below:

2-In my packing furor, I lost track of time (and also, you know, maybe ignored the softly suggested "get out!!" announcement over the PA system at 6:45 pm) and got locked out of the school but into Classroom Trailer Land...thus, I could not get out of the back part of school due to the locked outside gates and also could not get through the school to ultimate freedom due to the locked building doors.

3-I'd heard urban legends of certain teachers successfully climbing one area of the back lot chain link gate and decided if THOSE gals could do it, I could do it. I mean, who cares that I hadn't been to a gym in over 9 months and am pushing 42 with very little upper body strength?? SHE climbed that gate?? Oh snap, this is easy peasy. I immediately summoned my inner movie stunt woman/Spiderman super hero (who lacks a certain sense of danger and common sense, all at once) and climbed. And I made it! I made it over! Friends, I was over that gate, on the other side, minutes from getting into my car all triumphant and strong. I was thisclose to being An Official Urban Legend(tm).

4-Here's the problem (every good plot has one): (a) I was wearing flip flops and (b) I lost my grip just as I was about to make it off the fence. I landed, rolled my left ankle, and landed smack on top of the left top side of my left foot. My fifth metatarsal decided it wasn't up for full weight bearing on top of it that day and cracked (wimp). Yesterday, I found out via an update x-ray my 4th metatarsal decided to crack a little as well. Had I just cracked my fourth metatarsal, this would have been a minor inconvenience. It was that 5th one that has caused all the problems (wimp). Because, heh, who knew? If you're going to break a foot bone, you'll probably break the 5th one, and the 5th one is the one you have to stay off of if you fracture it in just the right (wimpy) spot. Which I did.

And thus the grief process began: 6-8 weeks of my summer gone...okay, not totally gone, but extremely reduced and limited. No big trips, no pool time, a cancellation of my plans to start Being a Runner again, all summarized by a rather large break down/freak about on being physically able/ready to get my new classroom ready before my teaching contract officially requires my presence and begins again.

And can I just interject here with a big dose of reality: Isn't that sad? My first thoughts were not: Woo! Lots of time to rest! Just what I needed after this crazy year! No, no. My first thoughts were: What if I can't get back to work in time??? (Though, in my defense, please note: I need to be at least back to 80-90% by mid-July, because ha! Teachers don't simply...get their classrooms ready for a new school year the week they're required to come back. That week in elementary school is unofficially known as Meetings Week, which is kind of like Shark Week only bloodier.)

Still, I think it's clear: SOMEbody needs an intervention....please keep reading, because I did get one.

Fortunately, while I do not possess tremendous good sense when it comes to assessing my own physical abilities and limitations in regards to tackling 6 foot chain link gates, I do possess a fair amount of good sense when it comes to who to surround myself with in regards to people and friends. Carol, one of my dearest friends, intervened and reminded me that these things, while upsetting and frustrating, are often the Universe's way of sending us a Big Message that we were probably ignoring over and over when It was attempting to communicate to us in the form of little subtle message. My Big Message appears to be: Slow Down, Rest, and Go Pin a Butt Load of Crap on Pinterest. Also, Read and Write.

So I have given myself 2 weeks of Slow Down and Rest. For the next 4 weeks, I will focus on Read and Write. And this will be a blessing in disguise kind of summer. I will have lots of time to focus on helping my little girl do some reading and writing (which I did NOT have time for this past August-May), and I will have lots of time to focus on doing some reading and writing for myself (which I did NOT have time for this past August-May). And maybe, along the way, I will train myself to notice when I'm going too fast. I am certain I will train myself to listen to messages on the school intercom that are telling me to leave (except, can I gently suggest that the "Time to Leave Now" soft, subtle alert would be more effective if done in an ominously threatening and very loud evil, deep and gravelly ghost-like voice that goes something like: GET OUUUUUUTTTT NOOOOOOWWWW!!!! DANGER IS IMMINENT!!!! ? I think something like that would have lit a fire under my butt 2 weeks ago...or not, because I'm notoriously obtuse when existing in my own little world).

In addition to all of that, I feel this may help jump-start my freelance writing career. I have been accepted as a writer at Blog Mutt, but have done zero writing due to time constraints (of which I have few to none, now) and initial shock at how long broken bones actually take to heal. I fully intend to hop over to Blog Mutt and see how many websites need an expert on broken fifth metatarsal bones--I feel that, due to the extensive Google research I have done over the last 2 weeks, I have enough information to start a new career as a fifth metatarsal bone knowledge doctor. I couldn't do surgery on your fifth metatarsal, but I can give you more information than you actually asked for or originally even wanted (it's a trait I inherited quite honestly from my father). I hear Blog Mutt pays $8 per article, and I figure if I can find enough bone-centric articles to concentrate on over the next 4 weeks, I can accrue at least enough money for a new pair of orthotic shoes just in time for School Year 2013-14.

And I had good news at the orthopedist's office yesterday after my update x-ray. Bones, which take a notoriously long time to heal (4 weeks for soft callous formation + 2 weeks for hard callous), can be tricky...every bone heals differently, and every person has DNA factors that contribute to bone healing time. I appear to have been fortunate with bone healing DNA (thanks, mom! thanks, dad! thanks, other ancestors who also contributed!), and my bones are already showing signs of being on the mend. And so I have relaxed a bit, and have decided to stop shaking my fists at the Universe, my poor gauge of physical fitness/decision-making under crisis, and my wimpy left foot bones for being such girlie men. I will take the next 4 weeks I've been ordered to stay off my left foot and read, write, and write some more.

I will also look at the positive side of things (another message I think the Universe was using both hand to yank on my face to look at, just like my only child daughter does when she needs me to focus): I can still drive, I will have a slightly bionic right foot/calf/thigh in another 4 weeks, amazing upper body strength (ironic, since that's exactly what I needed 2 weeks ago when I was on top of the gate), and my brain still works (most days, but never on Mondays and not while climbing gates).

And, when not out and about with my 90 year old woman walker (complete with tennis ball feet for easier sliding mobility), my mom and stepfather brought me a cool, ergonomic office chair to wheel myself around the house with (until you can't balance on both feet, you never think about needing feet to use your hands...it's an interdependent relationship most people with full feet use just don't consider--I've been out in public since the accident, and I am painfully observant of this. In fact, I spend a lot of time watching able-bodied adults rush about and I just want to grab them and go, "Do you know?! Do you even KNOW?! You have no idea how easily your whole world can change just by one foot! Say THANK YOU!). And, of course, I have, once again, become aware of how stupendously helpful and giving other human beings around me and in my life are when the going gets tough.

Grace and Thanksgiving, much like feet and hands, just seem to work best together. And that's probably on purpose, via some type of Universal Law of Physics.

I remain convinced my left foot is a wimp, though I'm being much kinder to it now during our heart to heart conversations about wellness and healing. I'm sure the Universe broke it to teach it some sort of lesson as well.


writerly confession in genre.

 Writerly Confession #1: I'm struggling to figure out what type of genre to write in. I think I want to write literary fiction; I like character development way more than plot. But when I grab Poets & Writers magazine from my mailbox each month and start flipping through it, I see names of people featured in articles as if I--a writer reading about other writers--should just naturally know who these obviously very important people are. And because I haven't heard their name ever, does that exclude me from the fancy writer people club? I sort of sense it does, or at the very least puts me off in a corner by myself at all the fancy writer people cocktail mixers.

Writerly confession #2: I dig romance writers. Not the romances they write--just the actual people who write them. I've never been on a romance writer's blog or website where I haven't thought: I'd totally go out to a lot of dinners and coffee dates and wine tastings with this chick.

The thought of writing beach read romance books really appeals to my bank account. It also appeals to inner 9th grade Amy who was totally addicted to Danielle Steele books, not even caring about all the run-on sentences and the over use of the word "and." I was in love with her formulaic plots with just the character names/physical features changed. Danielle Steele taught inner 9th grade Amy all the formulaic finer points and how to fix shallow romantic problems. Inner ninth grade Amy completely aspires to be the next Danielle Steele. I'm sure Danielle and inner ninth grade Amy would have great fun at lunch dates, shopping for Coach bags and other shallow things.

Writerly Confession #3: But I just don't think I could write convincingly about someone's superficial romantic issues or about someone's hot throbbing whatever and not feel I was somehow contributing to the delinquency of a society already on the fast path to a quick downward spiral. No, wait! I could, I totally could. But only if I wrote under a pseudonym. But if I wrote under a pseudonym, maybe me and my cool romance writer chicks wouldn't have friendly wine parties since they wouldn't know my true identity so they could call me up and invite me...and so then, what's the point? I'd have all this money in the bank but no co-workers to spend it on wine and pithy yucks with. AND I've furthered societal downward spirals. I think that's a literary equivalent of selling one's soul to the devil.

Writerly Confession # 4: I feel like I should be writing for children or young adults; that's where my expertise has pretty much been for the last 18 years or so. But I'm not sure I want to write for young adults. People around me say: go write the next Harry Potter series. But I'm not into Harry Potter things. In fact, I'm not into Harry Potter, Justin Bieber, Dungeons & Dragons, Comic Con, Selena Gomez, Nickelodeon shows, and whatever else motivates youngsters these days. I've moved on from those things, and when I interact with young people now, it's as an adult, not an equal and they need to do their homework and respect my authority and follow the rules because I said to, The END. I have a very real suspicion people who write for young adults don't think like this or write to kids like this, and that's why young adults love their books so much. I love kids and despite what I sound like I genuinely enjoy hanging out with them; it's just that I think 95% of their problems are ridiculous. I mean, they don't even pay taxes yet.

Writerly Confession #5: Women's Fiction. I am one. Wouldn't I know how to write to/about/for other women? But I just don't know if I could write women's fiction that wouldn't end up getting shelved with all the Romance Writer/Danielle Steele chick lit books. I just don't think my women's fiction writer skills are sharp enough quite yet.

Then there's Sci Fi, which--I like Science, and kind of consider myself to be a logical, Science-y kind of geek girl in spite of my real bend toward hippie spirituality and reluctance to let go of magical thinking. But (Writerly Confession #6): I'm just  disinterested in writing fiction about it (doesn't it feel like an oxymoron anyway? Science (fact) Fiction (not fact)?). And there's Horror, but I'm squeamish about blood and guts and I'm terrified of ghosts (though I have been known to hunt for them on occasion. It's true: I'm an odd dichotomy of a person).

Man, I'm really in a quandry here, friends. Am I over thinking this? I think I'm over thinking this. I bet I should just write and let other people tell me what genre I'm writing in.

Writerly Confession #7: Wait. Did I...I think I just found my genre! I will call it: The No Genre genre. Or the Let Other People Tell You Your Genre genre. Phew! Thanks for staying with me while I figured that out.

Writerly Confession #8: I really like typing and saying the word "genre." It feels fancy. And French. In fact, if I ever end up at any fancy writer cocktail mixers, I will pepper my talk with this word and the phrase "je ne sais quoi" a lot. (The other really swank French phrase I'm familiar with is voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir, but I think you're only allowed to break that out with Aretha Franklin or people you're very close to and it's considered highly inappropriate at fancy cocktail mixers.)



Hi, I'm Amy and I'm a writer. Technically, I'm NOT a writer. Technically I have a day job that gives me a nice paycheck once a month, provides health insurance, and puts food on my table, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head (these last three are really important things because I get pretty nasty-tempered when my blood sugar crashes, I have a slight problem in malls and at Target, and I think I'd make a really crappy homeless person/panhandler).

But I still like to call myself a writer (lower case w), even though I've never been published. And, uh, haven't done a lot of writing over the last few years. It's that last one that's really putting a cramp in my writerly aspirations.

Never been published: I've only sent one piece out to one place and it was promptly rejected.  This didn't stop me from writing; I'm just using it as an example to illustrate how very little focus I have when it comes to writing: I've written for years and years and years, and I've sent out exactly one piece, to one place, five years ago. The End.

I've been fascinated with words since I found out about them--a story my mom likes to float around about me is that, when I was 6, I liked to read the Wall Street Journal. (I wasn't actually reading the Wall Street Journal--just picking out all the sight words I was learning. Did you know the Wall Street Journal is chock full of grade school level sight words? It's true--go read one right now and count them all. I'll wait.) And ever since that one story about the owl family that delighted my 2nd grade teacher, I took my Wall Street Journal sight word reading skills and applied them to writing stories. Second grade narratives were followed by 7th grade sci-fi attempts, which were followed by bad romances featuring really classic, romantic figures like Michael Jackson.

Back around 2001, I wrote a piece reflecting on the sudden death of my dad and shared it with some family and friends who all said: this is good! (because that's what family and friends are SUPPOSED to say, homies). But then I shared it with some strangers who said the same thing. And then I said, "Well, maybe I should write some more and share some more with more strangers." And I did. I wrote some more and shared some more with strangers (of the non-publisher variety), but lost focus and here we are today.

Not writing: I haven't written a lot over the last 2 or 3 years. I could say this is because I had a kid, and that's why. But a lot of people have kids and still find the time to write books or music or paint or ski or lose 100 pounds or whatever, so it's just kind of an excuse I like to throw around. I use it for why I no longer run/work out, too, by the way. In fact, I find kids are really convenient for excuse-making, as well as fetching things from the kitchen for you. I'm not suggesting that's why I had one, but I'm also not denying it.

Not writing. That's pretty big, isn't it? You can't really, you know, get published if you don't have anything thing, say for example, written down that's kind of, I don't know, ready to be published. Can you call yourself a writer if the only writing you ever do is in your head?

Lately, I've thought a lot about writing while not writing. Once upon a time I wrote every single day. In fact, in my head I still write every single day; it's just that nothing from there ever makes it to paper or a computer screen. But the act of actual writing, sit-butt-in-chair-and-write writing? Not so much. You'll see me waste time on Facebook and Pinterest a lot. I spend a lot of time with my butt in a chair doing that. You'll see me Googling odd and bizarre things like "hot celebrity men a girl can daydream about." I do a lot of googling about things like that while butt sitting. I think I alone am responsible for the 10,000+ hits on Gerard Butler, Clive Owen, and Jason Isaacs' unofficial fan pages.

But that's not really writing is it? And if I really want to be a Writer (capital W), I suppose I'll have to sit down and do that. My writer/ spiritual hero Anne Lamott says you're supposed to do this if you're a writer, and if Anne Lamott says to do it, writerly people: you do it!

Anyway. The whole point of this blog is writing. Writing about writing, posting snippets of stuff I've written, and occasionally doing what I do best: mourning my life in writing, for all the world to see and judge and comment on (is that not why the concept of blogging even started in the first place? I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere on technogeek.com back in the early 2000's).

If you are here because I found your blog and stalked you into visiting mine, HI! I'm glad you gave in and came here. If you are here by accident, I'm sorry? Maybe you'll find something useful (sometimes I like to write about pairing the perfect bottle of cheap wine and grilled cheese).

If you are Clive Owen, Gerard Butler, or Jason Isaacs or one of their agents, could you please leave me a note with information on where/how to apply for a personal assistant job for you? I am good at: writing blog entries that ramble off into incomprehensible tangents, putting a load of laundry in the washer and then forgetting about it for 3 days, and pairing cheap wines with grilled cheese sandwiches. In fact, I can't believe no one in Hollywood knows how to pair cheap wines with grilled cheese sandwiches, and I think that's wrong, a complete travesty. You should hire me to rectify that for you. (I'll need to bring my 4 year old along on most jobs, but she's very adept at tippy-toe walking and having melt downs in public so it'll be an awesome experience for everyone, I promise!)