Thursday, September 30, 2010

Suspicious (Sub)Texts

Ever since this whole scandal with Tiger Woods, I make it a habit to randomly seize my husbands Black Berry and look at all the text messages he's written and received.
My husband isn't exactly Tiger Woods, I know. But he does work in the golf industry, and he does own a pair of golf clubs, and those hideous shoes. He uses obscure lingo like "eagling" and "birdying" balls.
"Is eagling good or bad?" I ask him, every time the word crops up. "I keep on getting it mixed up- cuz it sounds like it could go either way."

At first, I'll admit, I had some problems maneuvering the Black Berry.
"AH, I think I just took a picture of my foot! Oh, yeah. Ya, I did. How do I get it off of here?"
"What are you trying to do?"
"Read your texts."
"Well, how did you?... how is it?"
He takes the phone from me, looks annoyed, presses some buttons and then gives it back to me, the texts pulled up.
I click on one.
"Oh, shit. I think it's calling her now. It is. It says dialing. What do I do?"
"Well who are you calling?"
"Uhm... Katelyn?"
"No! Don't call her. She doesn't even work for me anymore!"
"Well, how do I hang up. Oh, no. I think someone just picked up."
He snatches the phone, has a brief convo with Katelyn, during which he apologizes to her and tells her that his two year old  (evil glare) got hold of the phone.
"What did you do?"
"I just clicked on it."
"Well, you don't click! You use the roller ball!"
"OK. I didn't know that. I don't have any fancy Blue Berry Contraptions."
And then he sighs.
Always the sigh.

Anyways, I am starting to get the hang of going through the texts.
Last night I hit pay dirt.
He accuses me of being paranoid, but the proof is in the pudding, even though I really don't understand that saying at all. Why would there be proof in pudding??

Anyways. Text number 1, from a girl named Leah: (And my husbands job, BTW, is a food and beverage manager.)

"Geoff. Sorry for the short notice but I really need to get off on Thanksgiving. Is there any way you could make this happen."

"What the hell!" I ask. "So you and Leah, huh?'
"No. She wants to get Thanksgiving off because her grandmother's coming in to town."
"Yeah, right. I wasn't born yesterday."

Text Number 2, from a girl named Bree:

"Geoff, sorry I couldn't come on the weekend."

"WTF?" I ask. "Are you going to deny this? That you couldn't close the deal for Bree on the weekend?"
"I asked her to come in for an extra shift on Saturday, but she couldn't make it in."
"Yeah, right. You have an answer for everything."
"Because there IS an answer for everything!"

Text Number 3, from a girl named Sasha, really was the last nail in the coffin.

"Geoff, sorry I'm late, not  feeling good this morning. Be there in10."

"She's pregnant!"
"She's not pregnant! She was late. For a shift."
"Yeah, because she has morning sickness, apparently."
"She doesn't have morning sickness. She has a cold! She took a Claritin and came in."
"I don't think she should be taking Claritin if she's pregnant. Is the baby yours? Or what?"
"Randine. Seriously! She's sixteen years old."
"Sixteen years old! For Gods sake, you could go to jail for that!"

Anyways, you can see that I have a lot on my mind right now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Never Forget Your First

Forgive me for misleading you, but I'm talking about manuscripts.
I just thought it would be a catchy title.
It might bring me a lot of traffic, although it may not be exactly the kind of traffic I want.
Once, someone stumbled across my blog by googling "here we go again nipple shot"
Really? I thought. Do I write about nipples on here?
Apparently I do, in My Life As A Shadowy Figure.
Which might explain why that post boasts the most page views, and continues to get new page views every day.
Unfortunately, I don't think it was exactly what they were looking for.
I feel kind of bad about that. Whoever googled that and came up with this blog must have been totally disappointed. Probably felt like throwing something at the computer.
Oh, well. You can't please everyone, can you?
Anyways, manuscripts.

It might surprise you to learn, Internet, that Having Grace was not my first.

My first manuscript was completed in 2006 or thereabouts, and the genre was romantic suspense.
It was called Blood Relative. I wrote in an attempt to prove to myself that I could, having had, to that point, several projects abandoned at various points in the story, mostly near the beginning.
I didn't query very widely for it. I think I queried maybe four people. (And my query letter sucked HARD, BTW. I don't have a copy of it anymore, which is good because I wouldn't even want to look at it. I think it started with "To Whom It May Concern." I shouldn't even be telling you about that. You'll probably hate me now, probably judging me like that lazy eyed cashier at 7-11 on the weekend. But we're cool like that, aren't we, Internet?  Anyways. It was bad, and  I think I want to shoot my four years ago self. If they ever invent time travel I think I'm going to do that. Except I wouldn't be here right now. Time travel is so complicated.)
The problem was, I wasn't in love with the manuscript myself, so how could I expect anyone else to be?
I might have been able to revise it, but I wasn't even sure where or how to start.
After sitting on it for a  while I finally had a revelation. I needed to just start over. Blank slate.
And so I opened my laptop and began anew, on Page 1. The idea for Having Grace was burning in my mind, and so I wrote it.

But, I still had feelings for my first, at least the idea of it. Eventually, I reworked it into what is now my work in progress, Deal Breaker.

In Blood Relative-- basic plot summary: a young girl gets involved, for various reasons- most of which are boring and have to do with her back story, with an older man and gets married after only a brief courtship. Problems ensue when his estranged teenaged son shows up on their door step one night. The teenaged boy has problems, which quickly become evident. Things begin to go wrong- dismembered animals, missing local girls. She begins to suspect her stepson, but her husband doesn't support her, makes her feel like she's losing her mind, and eventually she begins to suspect her husband as well.

Anyways, the concept of the prodigal child returning speaks to me still, and I decided to rewrite it as a rom-com. Put a shady, sulky male as the step child and you have a ready made romantic suspense.
But substitute it for a sulky teenage girl and you have a ready made romantic comedy.
So I began writing Deal Breaker, which has- essentially, the same set up- a young girl who gets married- for reasons that have to do with her back story- to an older man after only a brief courtship (Although, ICK, I hate to use the word 'courtship'. It makes me think of Mormon Fundamentalists or something for some reason. Oh, God, I hope no one finds this blog by googling "Mormon Fundamentalists". I'll get hate mail for sure.)
The setting, I guess, sets the two apart.
In Blood Relations, the setting was in a remote, rural location characterized by heavy snow storms and frequent road closures.
Deal Breaker is in an urban setting.

It didn't seem like a big switch to go from romantic suspense to romantic comedy.
I think it's because when you have conflict, you have comedy. Or, at least, the potential for it.
Well, depending on the conflict.
If the conflict is being chased by an axe murderer, comedy might be a hard sell.
But I'm exactly that person that who sees the humour in even gruesome scenarios. "We'll laugh about this some day," I often find myself saying.
Throw something bad at me and I laugh at it.
Seriously, I've laughed at funerals.
I've laughed when Alex was locked in a car.
I've laughed when my kids tried out their first swear words.
My husband gets mad at me about that, and I laugh at that, too. "Go take your blood pressure pills," I tell him when he gives me that look. "I'm not going to do CPR on you if that throbbing vein in your forehead explodes. I'm too tired for it. Makes my arms sore."
Because damn it if it isn't fucking hilarious to hear a two year old say "Shit!" when he spills his juice, or whatever.

Anyways, sorry about the length of this post.
I hope it wasn't too boring for you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend Woes

All things considered, my weekend was pretty good.
Except for the dead animals in my back yard.
We had some company over on the weekend, and THANK GOD they weren't of the high fuluting variety, they were low faluters (whatever faluting is), which was good, but even still I was kind of mortified when a few minutes after the kids had gone outside to play in our backyard they all came rushing in.
"Your back yard is full of dead animals!"
"What?" I asked, feeling a cold lump forming in the pit of my stomach.
"I just stepped on a dead mouse"!
"Oh God! Just stay inside," I said, herding them in and casting my cat a spiteful glare.
"It's okay," said the oldest, a ten year old boy. "The mouse is gone now."
"What did you do with it?" I asked, another knot forming.
"I picked it up and threw it over the fence into the neighbors yard."
I handed him a bottle of antimicrobial soap and shepherded him to the bathroom. "Wash your hands," I said as I liberally pumped soap into his hands.
The neighbors will hate me, and I can probably count myself out of a fruit cake at christmas, I thought, but I'll have to deal with that later.
I donned a pair of latex gloves, feeling fortified by the sharp snap as I pulled them on. With a garden trowel in hand, I set to work at the grim task or removing small animal carcasses.
I found three mice and three beheaded birds.
It was disgusting.
Never get a cat for a pet.
Just don't.
They look cute and cuddly, but if you've ever felt the squish of a dead mouse give way between your toes, it's really not worth it.

And then I take my darling children to the store to buy Slurpees, the day being uncharacteristically warm.
"Cash or debit?" the cashier asked.
"Cash," I replied, pulling a twenty out of my wallet.
"That's good because our debit isn't working right now."
"That's okay," Payton said. "My mom's debit card isn't working right now anyways."
I shot her a look of silent reprimand.
"It works," I told the cashier. "She just..."
"What?" she asked. "Remember, the bank called and told you not to use it."
"That wasn't..." I said, looking at the cashier plaintively. "That was just because my debit card got used at a store that's been involved in card copying. I got that all straightened out," I said, pleading, my voice slightly desperate.
I was tempted to go over to the ATM and print off a bank statement and shove it in his face to prove my point.
And then I realized that I was defending my financial situation to a sixteen year old boy with greasy hair and a lazy eye. What's the point, I thought with a sigh.
He looked at me, still skeptical.
Although it was hard to tell with lazy eye being so wandery.

And then today, I'm drinking my coffee, and Gage, my oldest calls to me. "I'm turning the coffee off.  You're wasting energy when you leave it on all day. Just leave it off and then if you want another cup later you can microwave it."
I think they must be taking a unit at school about energy conservation.
Thanks, school.
Now I'm drinking cold coffee.
Meanwhile, he's got every light on in the basement, the TV on, the XBox on and the computer on with thirteen unclosed screens.

Anyways. I should be going now.
Have a happy Monday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Creative Financing

"It's called creative financing," I told my husband when he reacted with less than enthusiasm about the fact that I had recently acquired a new (low interest!!) platinum Master Card. I really tried to sell him on the low interest rate, but it didn't seem to matter.
"It's called going into debt," he said with a dour expression on his face. "And creative is bad when it comes to finances. Very bad. 'Creative' and 'Financing' just don't go together."
"Mmm," I said, pausing, as though thinking about it, but really I was thinking about something else, namely the trip to Mexico I was planning on booking ASAP.

"We can't afford to go to Mexico," my husband said for the millionth time on that matter.
Which was true, to a certain extent. There wasn't exactly money in the bank to fund it. But that's where the creative financing comes into play.
"We can't afford not to," I told him.
"What the hell does that mean?"
I wasn't exactly sure, but I had heard Suze Orman say it once, although it sounded much more convincing coming from her. Why I was even watching a crap financial show like that, I can't imagine. She must have been on Oprah or something.
In fact, I think she was.
People in the audience were asking her if they could afford this or that, and she would give her take on it, which was usually no, by the way. According to that lady, from what I could gather, it was all about squirrelling all your money away like chipmunks during- whatever- monsoon season. Whenever they do the bulk their storing. I don't know. I don't know that much about chipmunks and their habits, quite frankly. 
Anyways, in this one instance, a lady asked if she could afford a divorce.
Suze broke down the numbers.
Sadly, she couldn't. They were up to their eye balls in debt, house was being foreclosed on. They had like seven kids, no savings.
But she said yes!
She said "the reason being: there are some things in life that you can't afford not to do."
And I know that sipping tequila in the sun is a divorce not, but- but I quite honestly feel that if I don't get a vacation at some point, I might as well reserve a room in a mental institution sometime soon.
Quite honestly, I feel that I left a piece of myself there last year. A piece that, who knew, wasn't opposed to drinking daiquiris at ten in the morning.

Leaving Mexico last year was tough, to say the least.
We took the kids to the beach, dug our heels into the sand, looked up at the sun.
"Feel the sun on your face," I told the kids. "And try to remember that feeling," I said, knowing that we would return home to a city blanketed in snow, amidst a winter that was dark and oppressive and unrelenting.

Later, as our cab pulled away from the resort, Payton looked up at me, tears threatening to spill from her eyes, her chin wobbling.  I squeezed her hand, and she smiled at me through the tears, a sad sort of smile, which made me start crying, which made her start laughing. "Mom! You're crying!"
And then we were both laughing and crying all at the same time.
"We won't say good bye," I told her. "We'll say "see you later!"
And only with that were we able to board the plane, and watch Mexico disappear beneath us.
I feel the need to go back there physically, viscerally.
Hopefully we will get there, somehow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things I Don't Understand

Things I Don't Understand...

-The "Emergency Feed" button on my paper towel dispenser at work. I cannot,simply cannot, imagine a paper towel emergency, and I have a pretty good imagination. I have never been in an emergency situation and had someone yell "Get some paper towel, medium absorbency, STAT."

-Why the makers of Canesten, etc, produce, market, and distribute a seven day treatment alongside a one day treatment. Especially when said treatment involves a giant, disgusting suppository. I mean, who's buying the seven day treatment? It's not even cheaper than the one day treatment.

-Why my shampoo bottle contains the warning "For external use only."

-Why my daughters bathing suit, size 6X, has a built in bra in it. Really? Really? Six year olds need bras now? WTF.


-Why the label on my underwear contains the instructions "lay flat to dry. Low iron." I mean, I'm not going to lay my underwear flat to dry and have it draped all over the house, much less iron it. I wear it on my ass for Gods sake!

-The show Intervention. Last night, after a long day at work and dealing with a great many things on the home front, I finally sat down after the kids were in bed, poured myself a glass of wine, and settled in to watch some TV. It happened to be Intervention. Let me tell you, if anything can make a person not enjoy a glass of shraz at the end of the day, it's that show.  It kept on showing all these grizzly statistics about how drinking destroys people's lives. Grim faced addiction counsellors speak on camera that drinking alone is a "major red flag."
I took a slow sip of my wine, tentatively, feeling it burn uncharacteristically as I swallowed.
"It's not my fault that my husband works such long, bloody, blasted hours."
And now I'm talking to the TV.
Probably another ":major red flag.
It ended up that most of my wine down the sink.
That's the last time I watch that show, y'all.
Anyways, have a good day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

On Friday, when I picked up Alex from daycare, I noticed something on his nose. A red dot.
By Saturday, there were several red dots. I wasn't sure what they were, so I did what any good mother would do.
I googled it.
I typed  "red splotchy facial rash" into my search engine and diagnosed him, tentatively, as having Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Which is, apparently, quite serious.
Lethal, even, it said.
I looked at Alex, who was noisily playing with his trucks. He didn't look at all like the picture on the Internet, where the afflicted was laying on his back, mouth agape in an apparent cry of distress, his body covered in angry lesions.
But still. I decided I had better take him in.

So I took him to the doctor, reluctantly. I am naturally suspicious of doctors that work on Saturdays.
All of the legit doctors work Monday-Friday. The ones that can't afford their malpractice insurance have to pick up an extra shift. But I had no choice. It's not my fault these things always crop up on a weekend.

I took a seat next to someone after registering, offering an apologetic smile. She looked a little nervous when she saw Alex's little splotchy face.
I felt kind of bad sitting next to her, because it would be sad if she ended up catching Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from him, being that it's lethal and all.  Although, being a tick borne illness, I wasn't sure if she could catch it like that. Nonetheless, I promised myself that I wouldn't let him share a straw with her, which I probably wouldn't have anyways-- being that I'm naturally suspicious of people that want to share sodas with random kids.
It took a long time, but finally we were called in.
The good news is that it wasn't Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Google lied to me.
The bad news is that, whatever it was (the doctor wasn't sure himself) - it was quite contagious.
So yesterday found me driving my little splotch head up to Candle Lake, to be with his grandma and grandpa, since he can't go to daycare for a week or so.

I miss Splochy Splotch.
Even though he's actually pretty bad, and he does have a propensity to throw things at me. And bite sometimes, although not very hard. It doesn't hurt that bad and doesn't leave any marks, so it's all good.

But anyways, it will be OK.
I have a busy week this week.
I'm  going to attend my first writing function: a reception for the new Writer in Residence here.  Saskatoon, I'm told, has quite a supportive writing community and I should be out there, meeting people. For some reason I've always been nervous about using the title 'writer'. Even on here, you'll notice it says 'wannabe writer.' 
But it's time to stop being a wannabe.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beautiful Distractions

Tonight I bathed my kids, rinsing suds from their hair, water rushing down their backs in soft, streaming rivulets, the scent of Johnsons soap hanging in the air.
I put their pyjamas on. We sat down and read stories. Payton is learning to read. I pointed words out to her carefully. I cleaned the kitchen. I put a load of laundry in. And for once in my life, I was grateful for these tasks. These wonderful distractions that smell of baby soap and laundry detergent and bubble gum toothpaste. Their warm bodies that press against me when we read in a slow cadence. Their incessant, sometimes overlapping, chatter.
My beautiful, noisy, distractions.
I reflected tonight on the irony that I complained bitterly that these same distractions made it nearly impossible for me to write Having Grace.
And now that the writing is done, it is these same distractions that keep me sane while I watch and wait for word on my full.
Life has a certain structure to it. A loose and chaotic, but charming nonetheless, structure.
What am I so afraid of? I asked myself as I tucked my little kids into their respective Princess and Toy Story beds, hair spilling across their faces, back lit by the soft glow of a Sesame Street Night Light.
In many ways, I am already rich.
In many ways, I am already successful.
In many ways- in most ways, actually, I've already made it.

I remind myself why I write.
Not to be represented.
Not to see my name in print (although, OK, I wouldn't totally hate that.)
Not to get rich.
But simply because I enjoy doing it.
And because I honestly don't know how not to do it.
So I've let it go. Whatever happens, happens. With Tricia, with anyone. With Having Grace, with any future projects.
My manuscript is my baby, yes, to a certain extent.  But I have real babies.
My beautiful, wonderful, distractions.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Words I Dislike

Here is a list of words I dislike.
It's a short list, because being writerly, I like most words.
But not these ones:

Guesstimate: This is a guess/estimate hybrid. I find it very annoying. "Guess" is implied in "estimate" and vise versa. One or the other will do but meshing them together in an attempt to make yourself sounds smarter or more precise is just not cool with me.
Pick one.

Ridonkulous: Okay, this is not a word, strictly speaking, although, according to the urban dictionary, it apparently is.  I have heard this "word" crop up in conversation from time to time. I guess it is supposed to mean ridiculous, but for some reason, the person feels compelled to infuse the word "donkey" in there, or whatever "donk" is supposed to be short for.
Someone used it last week during a conversation, which shortened our convo considerably. Coincidentally, she was wearing Crocs. "Ridonkulous" seemed a perfectly apt word for a Croc wearer. Maybe that's why I hate the word. Maybe if she would have been wearing nicer shoes, I would be writing "Words I Love" instead.
But I doubt it.

Nekkid. This word is supposed to mean naked. Well, I guess that much is obvious. But I really hate this pronunciation. It seems high school-ish to me. Juvenile. Although, to be honest, I don't really like the word "naked", either. I would prefer not to hear the word 'naked' in any sentence, ever, except for in reference to the wine "Naked Grape." I do not want to hear about anyone in their unclad state. But if you are going to say naked, if you must- (although, honestly, I don't see why you must), then say it properly, at least. Give it the respect it deserves.

And this isn't a word, per se- more a category of words, but I also dislike it when people use random nouns as verbs.
 Eg) "I corkscrewed the ball over the fence."
WTF is that supposed to mean?
These types of impromptu verbs seem to crop up mainly in the context of sports stories, which by the way- I also dislike. Don't talk to me about sports, as a general rule. Unless you're Tom Brady. For you I would be willing to listen.

I think I would keel over and die if someone used a combination of these words on me.
As in: "I guesstimate that he would feel ridonkulous nekkid."
If you are ever stuck in a conversation with me that you want desperately to get out of, that will work.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

State of Disaster

I spent seven hours last night reading my manuscript.
I recant what I said yesterday about still laughing out loud when I read it.
There was no laughing out loud. I have now, officially, read it too many times. I'm kind of starting to hate it.
It makes me sick. Literally. I got motion sickness from scrolling through the document, and a headache as well.
And my house looks like a pack of rabid animals ransacked it, which in a way- is exactly what happened.
At one point, I glanced into the living room to check on this kids. They were supposed to be watching Marmaduke. Alex was sitting, sans diaper, on a pot.
And no, when I say 'pot' I do not mean 'potty.'
I mean an actual pot. 
"Where's your diaper?" I asked him, alarmed.
"In the wagon," he said.
"Why did you take it off?"
"Because I pooped."
Oh God. Which was bad enough.
But then I caught the dog in a compromising position with the diaper.
This morning when I woke up and opened the fridge I found the entire crate of juice boxes I had bought for back to school opened, with straws poked in them, some in various states of emptiness.
"I did it!" Alex said, proudly.
Note to self: do not leave two year old unattended.
Well, in retrospect that should go without saying.

It was with some happiness that I hit the send button and sent that blasted manuscript away.
But then when I crawled into bed, I started second guessing everything. I should have changed that, I should have looked at this or that- even though I did, but I should have looked harder. I remember that feeling of intense vulnerability from the last time I sent out the full.
It almost made me wish that I hadn't brought any of this on myself at all.
But not quite.
Anyways, at least I didn't have to print it off this time.
But then I started to become paranoid and agitated that it got lost in the cyber world. I still don't completely trust my hotmail account since it was hacked, though I did recover everything and they say it's OK.
Note to self: Never give your password to so called Hot Mail Account Manager.
In retrospect, that, too sounds like it should be obvious.

Anyways, things are out of my hands, at least for the time being.
And now we wait.
And restock the juice boxes.
And the cookware.

Monday, September 13, 2010

State of Shock

I had completely abandoned any and all hope that I had for my manuscript, Having Grace. The querying process was wearing me down.
So I was surprised to open up my inbox this morning and see this:

Dear Randine,

Thank you for your query. I enjoyed reading the pages you sent of HAVING GRACE and would love to read more — would you please send me the full MS as a pdf attachment?

Many thanks, I’ll be back in touch after I’ve had a look.

I read the first sentence, thinking 'here we go again', another rejection: "Thank you for your query, however..."
I about fell off my chair to see the complete and utter lack of that hated word "however."
It's against my better judgement to post anything on here about it.
If the agent reads this (Tricia, her name is. Don't you just love it? I could really see myself bonding with her, calling her "Trish" someday.), it makes me look - or sound- desperate.
I mean, if a guy asked you out on a date, and you said yes but then you read on his website that he nearly fell off his chair when you said yes, you might start wonder about him. Personally- I might run the other way.
But I think it should be OK.
No one from New York is reading this.
So I will spend tonight reading through my manuscript for the billionth time.
I just can't send it out without reading it first, once again.
But no matter how many times I read it, I still laugh out loud, which you wouldn't think I would since I wrote the thing and I know exactly what's coming next.
And then we will wait and see.
This is my third request. I'm expecting another rejection.
Sometimes, honestly, I wonder what I'm more afraid of- being rejected, or not. It sounds stupid. Maybe it is. But sometimes I wonder: can I really bring it?
But, we'll cross that bridge when we get there-- and I'll use 'when' instead of 'if', even though I'm kinda tempted to use 'if.'
And I'm using 'we' instead of "I"-because whatever happens next, you guys will be there to help me through it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Whips, Chains and Blood Spatter- What I don't want to see on my Jeans.

Even though I poke fun of certain people for making certain concoctions, I must admit that I, myself, am going the way of describing tomatoes as 'real nice' and wearing 'mom' jeans.

We get the Good Food Box every two weeks at work, and it has become a major event in my life.
I lift the lid and peer in, curious and strangely excited about this weeks selection of fresh, local produce.
"Baby potatoes!" I exclaimed to a coworker. "And lemons!"
I was feeling tingly all over. I could make roasted baby lemon potatoes!
"Corn on the cob!" my other coworker said, pulling out ears of corn.
"Fresh cilantro!" I said, bringing it to my nose and inhaling deeply.
We had hit the jackpot!
I am so looking forward to going home tonight to make a nice, hearty fall soup.
I would put the recipe on here- but I don't want to be one of those people that posts recipes for soup on her blog, complete with photos and annoying captions, pictures of their kids in their home sewn Halloween costumes and biblical passages-- not that there's anything wrong with that.
It just ain't me.
At least, not yet.

And as for jeans- well I am still not quite at the elastic waist band stage of things, I fear that I might not be too far off.
My last foray into jean shopping did not go well. The term 'unmitigated disaster' comes to mind, to which you might think I'm merely overwriting things here- but this is not flowery overwriting. This is the truth.

First of all, I had to wade through a million pairs of size two and four jeans to even get to a size 8.
And that pair still looked super tiny. I looked at them, skeptical.
"They're supposed to be tight fitting," the girl assured me.
"Are they all so tight fitting?" I asked.
"That's the style," she told me.
I wasn't convinced.
"Is there anything- a bit looser fitting?"
She held up a pair of cargo pants with a chain hanging from the waist. "But maybe not quite that loose," I qualified. And maybe less chainy, as well, I thought to myself.
She shifted her weight from one foot to the other and sighed, snapping her pink bubble gum loudly.
She stalked off across the store, brought back another pair, which were scuffy looking with wide tears across the knees and something that looked like blood spatter splotched randomly on the thighs.
I wasn't trying to be difficult.
But was it too much to ask to get an article of clothing that didn't have a chain hanging off of it or look like it was recovered from a fatal rollover scene??
Apparently it was. I looked at the jeans with open disapproval.
"Is there anything- sort of plain looking?"
She looked at me like I was speaking another language.
Maybe I was.
She threw a pile of jeans at me in a light wash ans showed me to the change room.
Every pair I tried on waist such that it fell right on top of my pubic bone, leaving a bulge of unsightly fat hanging out over top of it.
I took in my side profile, trying to convince myself that maybe- maybe, with the right shirt, say- it could work.
I looked like a recovering alcoholic still working down the beer belly.

Anyways. These days,  I wear trousers. Black or charcoal dress pants.
You can dress them up or down and it's much less complicated than jean shopping.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

That Ghoulish Goulash

I am telling this story third hand.
I, myself, did not make this goulash, and I want to make that very clear, for reasons which will soon become apparent. However, I will tell the story in first person POV, as it is easier for me this way.
The person involved has asked that her true identity shall not be revealed.
This story is based on actual events.
It may be disturbing to some readers.

I had visions, certain  ideas, as a child, that when I was a parent, I would
1)Not have any rules at all whatsoever
2)Not dress in typical 'mom' fare-- ie) light washed, elastic banded, pocketless jeans with a lavender Tshirt with a flower pot applique- or any kind of applique.
3)Not use the term: "I'll give you something to be sorry about."
and lastly: 4 never, ever, not ever, no matter what--serve my kids 'goulash' for supper, or anything icky for that matter.

Needless to say, point #1 went out the window shortly after my first born started walking.
On two and three, I am still holding strong.
On four, I transgressed, rather incidentally. It's not like I just woke up one morning and said "I'm going to make goulash for supper." It was something I kind of fell into.

I was looking at the leftover Shepard's Pie, wondering what could be done with it.
It was composed of: Ground beef, peas, carrots, and mashed potatoes.
There was about half a pan left. It was on the second day, and I knew that if it didn't get eaten soon, it would be garbage.
So I threw it in the crock pot, an idea forming in my mind.
I opened the cupboard, and withdrew a can of stewed tomatoes, which I would later describe as "real nice" tomatoes- by which I meant diced, not whole. (As an aside: Describing tomatoes as "real nice" is something which I didn't think I would ever do, either. It has me, quite frankly, kind of scared that it's all going to shit. I might as well break out those whitewashed elastic jeans that go up to my ribcage and applique T shirt.)
I added some macaroni to my concoction, which looked concerning. Grayish, slightly congealed looking hamburger at the bottom, covered in grayish patches of potato masses. Stewed tomatoes floated at the top, with peas and carrots poking out at random.
I looked at a can of corn, pondering it. But then I shook myself out of that line of thought. "Fuck.No," I said out loud.  "I can't really be thinking about this."
This was getting out of hand.

"Did the kids eat it?" someone would later ask me.
I hesitated. "Not initially. But they did after I added ketchup and Cheez Whiz."

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Sixty-Thirty Rule.

A summer sale was held at the lake.
No. Not a sale.
A blow out.
I only intended to buy one thing.
But it wasn't my fault that they had the cutest, cutest pair of Quicksilver board shorts for Alex.
Or the cutest, cutest Roxy bathing suit for Payton.
And other stuff. So much other stuff.
"Don't do it," my sister in law said, looking at the price tag for the board shorts, size 3. "Let's just get out of here while we still can."
But it was too late.
"Save yourself. It's too late for me."
Already I was recalling his current swimwear with disdain. I had bought it at Superstore! It was cute enough, but it looked kind of babyish with little orange shark fins on it. This one was so much nicer, with a blue and gray plaid print. So sophisticated looking.
I couldn't- wouldn't- dress him in that drab, substandard swimwear. Not for another day. Not when I had such a vastly superior product in my hand.
And for 40% off, no less.

In the end, I saved sixty dollars on my purchases, which is pretty awesome.
"But how much did you SPEND?" Geoff wants to know, cutting me off practically in midsentence when I was telling him of my purchases.
"It's not the point," I told him. "The savings speak for themselves. The sixty dollars I saved is practically money in the bank."
He hates it when I say that. "But it's not money in the bank!"
"I know that," I tell him. "Hence the use of the word 'practically'"
He just sighs.

If I have to tell him how much I spent on any given item, I use the sixty-thirty rule, which is as follows:
If it's over a hundred, just say sixty.
If it's less than a hundred, just say thirty.
And if it's under thirty- you don't- technically speaking- have to tell him anything at all.
Because at that price, they're practically giving it away.
This seems to keep him happy. And I know that there is a certain, slight, deceptive quality to it, but I think that Geoff actually does prefer it this way. I think we have a certain, unspoken, agreement that if I spent too much money on shit we don't need (which is virtually everything in his books) that it's better for everyone if he doesn't know all of the details.

Except the kids always rat me out. Alex will walk into the house with a new toy and tell Geoff "My mommy buyed this for me," in a slightly taunting quality. Geoff just looks at me pointedly. "Yes," he says to Alex. "Mommy buys you everything, doesn't she? She just can't say no to you. But she can sure say no to Daddy." And then another, longer pointed look.

Anyways, needless to say, we made it to the lake safe and sound.
And it was pretty good. Other than an apparent mouse infestation.
"Is it dead?" I asked my mom the day before we departed to stay with them at Candle Lake, referring to the  mouse she had told me about the previous week.
"Oh, yes," she assured me. "Dead. Very dead."
So I proceeded with my plans. Make no mistake. If I had known that the mouse was alive, I would have called the whole thing off. I don't do mice. I can't do mice. Like, not at all. I can't even watch Exterminator shows where they portray mice.
So we were at the lake and things were rolling fine. We were at the beach,  watching the kids play in the water, and we were on our second beer. "Did you have a late night last night?" I asked my brother, innocously.
"Ya. Kind of.  Dad and I were up half the night exterminating."

My blood went cold.

"What?" I asked, looking at my mom, stricken, and then at my brother and back to my mom again. My mom shot my brother a look.
"Just kidding," he said, shaking his head. "No. There's no mice. That was- a bad joke."
"If there's a mouse in that house you guys HAVE to tell me. I seriously need to know."
They continued to look at each other, both of them hesitating.
At that point I could tell that, obviously, there was a motherfucking mouse in that house. Their hesitation told me everything I needed to know, even there was a part of me that didn't really want to know. Ignorance is bliss, sometimes, and I think this was definately one of those times.
"Well, there's not a mouse, per se. More like- mice. Plural. We caught the one- but now we think he has brothers. There have been- sightings."
I wanted to cry.
I wanted to die.
I wanted to throw myself into the water, weight my pockets down rocks, and not come out again.
Except the water looked pretty cold, the tide rough and white capped.
But I did it. I stayed in that mouse house. And it wasn't half bad.

I hope you had a good weekend, as well.
And I will post those pictures of Alex in his board shorts soon, and you will see what I mean.
I had virtually no choice in the matter.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grim Statistics, Speed, and Ineffective Threatening Techniques: My plans for the Long Weekend.

We're going to the lake for the long weekend, which I was pretty excited about. Until I drove to work this morning. And heard this: "Your chances of dying in a fatal collision on the highway doubles on the long weekend"- said in sinister tone, which suddenly becomes light, adding: "Please drive carefully."
What the Fuck.
I don't much like the fact that there's a chance I might die out there on the highway, period. The fact that it has just doubled, as of midnight tonight, kind of has me freaking out.

So I plan on leaving tomorrow morning instead of tonight. As early as possible- 7:30. Get on that highway before all the drunk people.
7:30 is too early to be drunk, isn't it??
I think anything before 10 am is too early to be drunk.
Buzzed, maybe, yes, okay.
But if you're drunk on your ass at 7:30 am then you might have a problem.
Unless you're still drunk from the night before. Which is another story. Then you don't have a problem. You're just awesome to party with. Or you overstay your welcome. Or you're on drugs that make you stay up all night- "uppers" "meth" "speedballs"
I know all the lingo.
I watch Intervention.

Anyways. We're going to the lake tomorrow. Hopefully we will make it there.
I am considering whether or not to buy the kids a portable DVD player so they can watch a movie on the way up. The drive is two and a half hours, which doesn't sound half bad, but when I'm on my own (which I will be, of course. Honestly- if I ever get married again, it will not only be to an Irish dude, but to someone with a nice 9-5 job, a tax accountant or something. Not a food and beverage manager.) with the three of them, it's not pretty.
Frick, who am I kidding? Even if Geoff is with me, it's not pretty. He doesn't do anything. Last time he got mad at them, said if they didn't stop fighting they were going to have to walk.
That totally backfired.
"I want to walk!" Alex said, trying to break free of his restraint. "Walk!" he kept on calling.
Yes, threaten a kid that's writhing against his restraint system that if he doesn't stay quiet we're going to let him free.
That should work bloody brilliantly.
For the rest of the way there he screamed to get out and walk.
Way to go, Geoff.

Actually, honestly,  it was me who made that threat. I cannot lie to you.
I don't know what I was thinking.
It's not the first time I've made a no good threat.
Last month when Gage had a dentist appointment he presented himself wearing a ripped pair of wrinkled jeans that were way too short on him- he looked like one of the kids I saw on a Dateline special- Children of the Appalachia.  I told him to go change and he refused.
"If you're not going to change, then I'll just leave you at home."

Wait a minute. What did I just say??

As soon as I said it I knew it was a mistake.
"Sweet," he said, throwing himself back on the couch and picking up his DS.

Anyways, I don't care what Geoff says. The DVD player is an investment in myself and my sanity- possibly my safety. Last time I drove home from the lake with those kids I made it home in under two hours- and we stopped for lunch in PA. I accomplished this feat by first of all going way too fast, and secondly by passing nearly everybody that I saw, even if I was driving myself straight into oncoming traffic.
They'll swerve, I thought.
And if not, I'll either die on impact or be brain damaged enough that I cannot hear the constant bellowing of poorly sung Usher songs alternated with Dora songs alternated with urgent demands to go poopy and soothers being thrown at my head.
Either way, NO DOWN SIDE.

Have a good long weekend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

A list of things I did this morning as the day of my 33rd birthday dawned:

-tried to recover my stolen hotmail account, which as it turns out, isn't easy. I have to know the IP adresses of every computer I've ever logged onto my hotmail account and the dates and times. Two days ago I had no idea what an IP address was. Now I know all too much.
Hotmail "Agents" are now investigating. The whole thing is very clandestine. They give me secret passwords that let me into secret websites where they communicate with me on secure servers.
Honestly, when I pictured myself communicating with agents this is not what I pictured.
I wouldn't even care about my hotmail account if it weren't for the fact that I still have twenty some outstanding queries with that adress on them-- a seperate account that I created for this sole purpose.

-phoned the water company and told them that I made a payment on my account and could they please, pretty please, not disconnect my water. That lady did not seem very excited to hear the news that I had made a payment. If anything she sounded bored and irritated.

-Went online and made a payment.

-Tried to convince Alex that it's my birthday and not his. He does not like this. He does not accept this.

-Cut Paytons chicken quesidalla into neat triangles for her lunch today, wrap them and put them in her lunch kit with her Tinkerbell ice pack that she made me buy. I was like, seriously? An ice pack for your lunch kit? We never had those in our days. You just kept your lunch stuffed in your locker all day, and if you got salmonella from it, well, that was your problem. Then again, I didn't exactly get chicken quesidalla triangles in my lunch.

Anyways, as you see- the day is shaping up to be very fun.
Geoff and I have some plans later to go out for supper, and I look forward to that.
Not so much for the food aspect, but for the drink aspects.
Have a good day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flirting with Pizza

Do you think it's bad if some of all of my closest relationships are with people in the fast food industry?
Forget I asked that. It probably is.
But lately the only people I seem to talk to- besides my kids, which, unless you want to call "Get down from the table!" a conversation, I don't actually, really 'talk to'- strictly speaking, are food service workers.

I order pizza for supper.
"Hey, it's Randine," the pizza guy calls out to some other guy when I phone in my order. "We were wondering where you've been. I've got a two word joke for you: Midget Shortage."
I laugh. Not even a fake laugh- I'm ashamed to say it. This is the best conversation I've had all day.
"Will you be getting the pepperoni again?" he asks.
"You know it."
And when I get there to pick it up they tease me by telling me that my total is $35,000.25
"That pizza better have golden pepperoni on it!"
And we all laugh.
And then they say "Just kidding, it's 35.25."
"Oh, you got me again!"

I take my pizza and ribs, and notice that they (accidentally?) gave me two pounds of ribs instead of one.
This is the problem.
The pizza people fall for me.
I had to dump my last pizza delivery person for the same reason.
Am I just too irresistible in my sweat pants and pony tail?
Or are they watching too many *ahem* 'mature' movies with a pizza delivery inspired plot??
Or maybe they mistake my bi weekly pizza orders as some sort of romantic interest??
But it's not. I'm just that lazy.
And possibly slightly delusional.

And then today, I go to pick up my lunch at EE Burritos, which is also generally a biweekly occurrence.
I see the cook/server/maybe part owner sitting on the couch nursing a baby. A baby!! I couldn't believe it. I feel so out of the loop. I feel like Geoff, except with more hair.
"Wha? You had your baby?" I ask her, sitting down next to her, taking in the baby, who is, incidentally attached to her nipple.
This does not deter me.
She tells me all about her-- 7lbs 6ozs, a great sleeper, a good nurser.
"Her latch looks great," I can't help but comment. "But I can't believe you had her- you were just here last week!"
"I know," she says. "My water broke in the kitchen! I probably shouldn't be telling you this- I know you eat here all the time." ("But we're down like that", is the implied message.)

Honestly, I'm starting to get a vision of my funeral: a roomful of people from various fast food places, all sobbing gently "I'm going to miss her Quesidalla order every Wednesday.", but then checking their watches and sighing "I've got a delivery to make."
No one will eat the finger food.
It will be a disaster.