Monday, November 29, 2010

Miss Communication

Apparently, so I've been told, it's not in good form to abbreviate Babysitting Job to BJ.
So said my twelve year old son when I asked him how his first BJ went.
He just looked at me, made a kind of huffing sound, then looked away, saying "Mo-om" in a kind of pleading tone.
"Well, how did it go. Were you very nervous?"
"What are you TALKING about?"
"Your babysitting job- or as I like to call it- and I think it stands to reason, quite logically, BJ."
"You can't call it that!" he said.
"Why ever not?" I asked him.
But he just rolled his eyes and slunk away, with an annoyed kind of sigh.

And when I further insisted that he should set up a Facebook page advertising his BJ skills, he acted, if anything- disgusted.
"Write: 12 year old boy will perform BJ's. Very experienced. References available. Have certificate and training in CPR. Five dollars an hour. Available on evenings and weekends. Cash only. And then we can post a picture of your cute, little, angelic face."
He refused to even respond.
"I think you'll get a lot of response with that," I told him.
"Oh, no doubt I probably would," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "A forty seven year old man named Kirk who wears pastel cardigan sweaters."

I told my mom, indignant. "Gage doesn't want to do BJs to make extra money."
"What?" she asked, incredulous. "That's what you did, starting when you were eleven or twelve. You did almost the whole neighborhood. Every one had your number. On Saturday night, your phone was practically ringing off the hook, people were demanding your BJ services they were. People had to book you weeks in advance. We had to set up your own separate line, if I recall. The best BJ's in town, they said. You had a knack for it. Your father and I were so proud. Oh- and the money you rolled in!"
"Yes. The kids these days. They think we just came in off the turnip truck. Like we don't know nothing about what the kids are doing with the BJs and the marijuana cigarettes, or doobies, as the young kids call it."
"Oh I know," my mom said. "They don't know that we've all done BJ's. Even grandpa and I, back when we were young and starting out, did the occasional BJ."

Oh, the poor kid. We're traumatizing him.
I wonder why he doesn't want to hang around with us??

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reconstructing Rejection

Another day, another rejection.
I'm pretty much done querying, but every now and again I get the urge to send one out. Just for fun. Because I'm the kind of person who considers getting her hopes slammed into the wall repeatedly 'fun'- which is to say- sadistic. But I just can't seem to stop. It's kind of like slamming your hand in a car door. The first few times it hurts like a bitch. But once you've had all your bones pulverized, it doesn't do much anymore. Just kind of leaves you with you a not entirely unpleasant tingling sensation.

Here's the latest in rejection, I think it's lovely so I wanted to share it:

Dear Randine,

Thank you for your interest in (redacted). Though your novel
sounds like it has potential for the women's fiction market, I regret that
(redacted) must decline a reading of HAVING GRACE. Her fiction list is
keeping her working at capacity, and she would unfortunately not be able
to give your manuscript the attention that it deserves.

I wish you all the best with finding an excellent agent to represent your

It's sad to say because I'm at the point where I actually get pretty pumped about rejection sometimes.
If the rejection letter contains: a) my name
                                              b)the name of my book
                                              c) any kind of statement which seems specific to my project
                                           or d) the trifecta: ALL OF THE ABOVE!!
I get really excited.
Which is rather pitiful, but with so many agents these days moving towards the no response means no,  getting a response at all seems like- I don't know- a privilege. And any kind of personalized response is all the better. And honestly, I can't say that I blame them for going toward not responding. The sheer amount of queries they receive must be totally overwhelming.

So then I try to reconstruct what happened in the office:

October 25: Query received by assistant, Chloe - which ,by the way, love that name. Love it. I even thought about naming Payton Chloe, so I feel like I'm connected her on some level. Mind you, I feel connected with just about anyone who emails me. Even the spammers. Because I don't totally hate the idea of discount Vicodin.
At some point after: Query read by Chloe and flagged as a 'maybe'
(This I deduce because, statistically, most rejections from this agent come faster than mine did. Of course, this could just mean that it was caught in a spam filter, or the assistant was on holidays, or who knows what else. But I dream of a mystical maybe pile that I've heard of in query folklore, which is a step above the slush pile.)
Some point later on: Query passed on to agent as a maybe. Maybe she forwards all of the 'maybe's' as an attachment. Maybe she prints them off and puts them on her desk. Maybe she brings them at some kind of a team meeting. I don't know. Either way, it gets passed along.
Some point later on:  Agent reads query, considers it (briefly) but then decides to pass, telling Chloe to reject it, but nicely.

I think I could have made it as a profiler.

Maybe I was a maybe, I tell myself, after reading it. It sounds pathetic, but hey, at this point, I have to take whatever props I can, meager though they are.

Anyways, at this point, whatevs.
It matters not to me, and I can say this honestly. The fact is, I realized only recently, I trust this crazy process. Trust it like I trust my own mother, which may be understating things since my own mother once almost let me drown to my death in my grandparents swimming pool, but that's beside the point.
The point is, I believe that when I am ready to be published, I will be. And if  I'm not ready, I won't be. Simple as that.
Maybe I'm just not quite there yet.
And that's OK.
Stephen King says the first million words are just practice. Even with all that I've written, this blog included, I'm not quite at a million yet. But I'm getting closer every day.
And when I query again for my next project, I will be much more informed, much more prepared.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How Not to Deal With A Cold

I have very little tolerance for people who complain about colds.
Which is weird, because that you would think that, being a nurse, I would be more compassionate about things like that. But I'm really not. In fact, it's just about all I can do to keep myself from rolling my eyes and telling them to shut it.

But I think it's precisely because I am a nurse that I find it hard to be compassionate. I've seen some crappy things, which I was going to elaborate on- but I won't. Suffice it to say there are worse things out there than a cold.

And so it is that when someone complains about cold symptoms, I find it hard to feel anything other than annoyed. Maybe because they sense this annoyance on my part, or maybe they just mistakenly think I care, they feel compelled to emphatically insist that their cold is THE WORST EVER and carry on in that vein, with lengthy descriptions of the type and amount of mucous that they are bringing up.
"Get some rest, drink lots of fluid," is my party line when it comes to other people's cold stories.
In other words: Suck it up, buttercup.

As such, I have always tolerated my colds well. I take Advil Cold and Sinus, and basically carry on as usual, with nary a complaint. "You sound stuffed up," they say sympathetically at work. I wave them off. "It's just a cold," I tell them pointedly. As if to say: You see? No big deal.

But for some reason, this weekend past, I became one of them-- the people who carry on like a cold is the Black Plague.
In other words, I may be turning into a man- namely, my husband.
I spent three days on the couch, in my pyjamas, with a box of Kleenex at my side.
Every time I coughed or sneezed I made a big production of it.
I went out and spent forty dollars on OTC cold products: DayQuil, NyQuil, Neocitran, Advil Cold and Sinus, Cold Effects, you name it I had it. By my bedside I had Saline nose drops, a Neti pot, a tube of nasal lubricant, and a humidifier.
My husband just looked at me when I was applying nasal lubricant.
I never did use the Neti pot. Pouring water up my nose just feels wrong. I couldn't go through with it.

Anyways, I'm feeling much better now, though it was touch and go for a while.
But it wasn't all bad.
Pretty fucking awesome. Better than Chardonnay. Just one tablespoon and you're OUT for the night. And if you mix the NyQuil with the Chardonnay, even better. To top it off, I break open three Advil Liquid Gels, pour the insides into the drink, stir it with a stir stick, top it with an umbrella: and voila: you have a pretty blue, minty drink, a pleasant buzz, a solid sleep, and no hangover in the morning.
Is it a bad thing to drink NyQuil when you don't, technically speaking, have cold symptoms anymore?

Anyways, other than that, things are going OK.
Except for my son. I should post a follow up to my last blog called "Conversations I never thought I'd have with my 13 year old son's principal" AKA- conversations that include the words "in school suspension."
Yes, I am getting a taste of being a parent of a teenager and I do not like it.
Being a parent to a two year old seems easier in some ways- even though it does involve trying to get a waxy blue film off all of my dishes after a crayon related dishwasher incident.
My writing is floundering in the midst of all this. At the end of the day I'm too exhausted to even get a few words in. So now I'm going to try writing in the morning. Waking up at six firm and writing for a solid hour before I get the kids up.
We'll see how that goes.
Anyways, have a good day!

** Disclaimer, I do not actually recommend the consumption of this beverage, or at least- not in large quantities.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Conversations I Never Thought I Would Have With My 13 Year Old Son

First of all, I can't even believe that I'm using the term '13 year old son' in reference to myself.
He's not, officially, 13. His birthday is fast approaching, though. And I'm sorting out some of my feelings about being the parent of a teenager. To commemorate this,  I'm working on a blog post called "13 things I want my 13 year old  to know" that I plan on posting on his birthday, which should be good.
And by 'working on' I mean- I have the title tentatively worked out, and a basic draft- 13 short paragraphs in which I tell him something I want him to know.
So it's coming along quite well.
Anyways, even I am interested to see how it will work out. Already I'm like- 13 things kind of seems like a lot. I should have done this when he was 1, because there's basically one thing I want him to know: Lift the seat when you piss.

But he's growing up, which has lent itself to some interesting conversations.
Last night he was telling me that a police dog was at his school as some sort of drug awareness program.
"Oooh,"  I said. "Did you get to sample the drugs?"
He just looked at me, all annoyed like.
"Well, how can you be aware of them if they don't let you try them, even just the one time?"
Another pointed look.
"Did the dog sniff your crotch?"
"Why would he even do that? Why would you even say that?"
"I don't know. That's what dogs do. Don't you just hate that when a dog comes up to and starts smelling your crotch?"
"That's, like, never happened to me."
"Really? Never? I thought that happened to everyone."
"That's just disturbing," he told me.
I guess, in retrospect, I might have just asked a normal question like what the dogs name was or something like that. I always think of the right thing to say after the fact.

And then Alex went into my purse and pulled a tampon.
"Alex," Gage said, taking it away from him. "Don't play with that. It's a tampon."
I surge of pride coursed threw me.
My son. I had taught him well. Even his own father didn't know the difference between tampons and pads. They were all lumped into a fuzzy category called "lady products" that he didn't care to discuss.
Once, during a pad commercial, Gage referred to them as tampons. I corrected him.
"What's the difference?" he asked.
"It's a pretty big difference," I pointed out. "The pad stays down and out. The tampon goes up and in." I said, using hand gestures.
"Gross," was all he said.

Now he was dismantling the tampon.
"So how does it work," he asked. "It just goes in there like this?" "Oh," I see, he said, as he pushed in the applicator and saw the absorbent material.
"This just looks painful," he said. Which, kind of it did because it happened to be a Super Absorbent Plus.
"Alex's head came out of there. OK," I told him. "And yours, too."
"Ew," he said. "So what's the string for?"
Honestly, I never thought I would have to tell him about this stuff.
Don't they have a module at school? that he could take?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Strange Entrance Paths

I'm slightly nervous about some of the traffic that my blog gets.
All traffic is good traffic.
At least, that's what I thought.

That was before I found out that someone googled "How to get rid of blood spatter on jeans" and ended up spending seven minutes on my blog.
A possible- nay, probable, murderer has been on this blog.
Maybe more than once. I feel sort of vaguely threatened by this.

The phrase "Carrying my boss's baby" has also brought traffic.
I bet they were disappointed to read that that has basically nothing to do with this blog. In fact, I'm not sure where, if at all, it even says that anywhere on here, except for the fact that it's the vague plot promise for Having Grace, maybe it's mentioned somewhere, I don't know.
I feel kind of bad for this person, pregnant with her boss's baby and looking for advice, and coming up with this- where the landing page was "Fun with Condoms."
That probably only made her feel worse.
And I thought about reaching out and trying to give some advice to someone in such a situation- but honestly- I don't really know what to say. Carrying your boss's motherfucking baby? Really? Really?
Dude. You're screwed.
Literally. Figuratively. Everything.

And four people have apparently found this blog by googling "Flirting, Pizza Delivery"
I have a feeling that they were probably disappointed when my page loaded.

Anyways. Google really does hate me. This is what it sends me for traffic: fornicators and possible (probable) murderers- because I don't care what you say- if you have blood spatter on your clothes and you're googling how to get rid of it, you're a murderer.
I've watched CSI, I know this much is true.
What I'll have to do is make the title of my blog posts less sinister sounding. Although, in retrospect "Whips, Chains and Blood Spatter" wasn't a really good name for a blog post, and I could see how it could misrepresent the blog and attract an unsavory element.
Ditto for "Fun with Condoms"
Come to think of it, I'm even starting to question "Strange Entrance Paths"

But it's not all bad news with Analytics.
Two visits from NYC, which makes me, of course, wildly speculative that it's an agent.
Of course, according to the same statistics, I've also had 17 visits from Latvia.
So it could be a coincidence.
Most likely it is.
But a girl can dream.
It will give me something warm and fuzzy to think about as the temperatures her plummet. I woke up this morning to a city blanketed in snow, pretty- yes, but a bitch to drive in. Although, I like the term I heard on the radio this morning- "It's not a blizzard," the overly cheerful announcer said as I spun my wheels trying to get through an intersection. "It's called- getting slizzered."
Well, I don't know what slizzered means, but I like it. It felt kind of right, somehow.
I wonder what kind of traffic that will bring.

Well, whoever you are, wherever you are, reading this: thanks for visiting. Even if you did just click on it because you thought maybe it was porn.
I mean, hey, we've all been there.
Okay, not really, but still....
We don't judge.
Well, we try not to.
And to the murderers out there: I do know how to get blood spatter off of jeans. Saline solution. If you contact lens solution that will work. You pour it on the spatter liberally, blog, rinse, repeat, then launder as usual and it should be good as new.
I only hope that my advice is timely enough.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hip to Be Square.

We took the kids water sliding this weekend, which seemed like a good idea at the time.
I find myself saying that a lot- it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Things rarely go so well as I envision them.
I envisioned:
- A family of five frolicking in the pool, splashing gently, heads thrown back in laughter. The kids looking very cute in their trendy bathing suits. Later, we would order pizza and the kids would high five us for being such cool parents. After getting the kids settled- which would be a quick and easy process- "Time for bed, Kids!" we would say and they would leap up, "Swell! We're awfully tired!" We would tuck them into their beds, peer at their sleepy faces and pull the covers up around them. Geoff would kiss me on the nose and we would agree that we have the most wonderful kids in the world.

Then Geoff and I would go down to the lounge for a glass of wine, whereabouts we would gaze intently into each others eyes. "I'm so lucky to have you," Geoff would say, and I would, of course, agree with him on that.

What I ended up with:
-A pool crammed to overflowing with kids, who all seemed to be overweight-- this obesity epidemic is for real  and not just something they make up on Dateline for ratings- you know how they have those  "teenage epidemic" segments which sound really scary and sinister and it always ends up to be some obscure thing.
Anyways, these overweight kids all had a strong propensity towards cannon balls. I clung fearfully onto the kids as I stood on the sidelines, wiping heavily chlorinated water from my eyes. Alex continually tried to take his shorts off, insisting that they were WET. Payton wanted to play this game where she lunged at me.
And my husband?
There was a football game on. So he was in the room.
"Well, I don't like going in the water," he said.
"And I do? I'm scared of the water slide and I can't fricking swim."

At ten pm, I was tired and ready for bed. Geoff looked me.
"You're tired? Really? Already? How could you be?" he asked, accusatory.
"Well, it's no picnic in the park getting the three of them ready, packed, changed into bathing suits, going in the water with them." -although in all honesty- Gage is old enough to do everything on his own, so really there are two, but that's not the point.

And then the kids go and tell Geoff that he's cool and I'm not!!
What a slap in the face that was.
I was like- "But he didn't know even what a disco stick was!"
The first time he heard "Love Game" by Lady Gaga he was like "What the hell is a disco stick?!"
Gage and I just looked at each other. "Well, it's a metaphor," I said.
"What do you think it means when they say "I want to take a ride on your disco stick?" Gage asked.
"They can say that on the radio? What the hell?"
Gage and I just looked at each other. "They can say that and a lot worse," we told him.

But I think I am getting uncool.
OK. I've always been uncool, at least a little bit. But I think I'm getting uncooler.
I noticed that I've started saying bogus, hokey things that flaky moms say.
Payton comes up to me. "Mom, Alex did hands on."
"Alex," I stay, sternly. "Did you do a hands on? You know we do hands off. Hands are for helping, not for hurting."

And then there was this morning.
Both of the pop 40 radio stations were playing songs that I couldn't stand to listen to. One of which was a remix of "I've had the time of my life," which started off quite promising. I turned the radio up, a rush of nostalgia coursing through me. And then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, this techno like beat starts up and the whole thing goes to shit. The other ones most predominant, and possibly only lyrics, were "I'm awesome."
You're not awesome, I told the radio, feeling irritated.
So I turned it to the easy listening station, "just to see" I told myself.
When I heard Hewey Louis and the News playing my heart quickened. I started tapping my fingers on the steering wheel. "It's the p-p-power of love," I sang along.
And then I realized. Hewey Louis and the News!!
I turned down the music,  looked around, feeling self conscious.
Ah, screw it, I thought, turning it back up again.
What image, exactly, am I holding onto, or trying to? I thought, driving my fifteen year old minivan with a "Baby on Board" sticker on it and CJWW bumper sticker- from a previous owner, in my defense.
But it is, after all, hip to be square.
That's what Hewey himself says.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Sorry it's been so long.
It's been a busy week. And by busy I mean lousy.
My husband decides he needs to go on a vacation, on account of how "overworked" he is, which honestly, I don't understand. I mean, he works at a country club. Like, literally. It can't be that bad. Anyways, he wanted to go golfing, and go to hockey games and the like. At first I was like "Whatever. I can handle the kids by myself. I always do, anyways,"which was meant to be a jab at him, but of course he doesn't get that. He's like "Cool. Thanks, you're awesome. See you Wednesday."

I've said it before and I'll say it again- being passive aggressive does not pay.
 My advice: just be aggressive. F the passive. It'll get you nowhere. Except for stuck at home with three kids.

A mere few hours after he left I was already starting to feel overwhelmed. My morning consisted of various complaints, lots of whining, lots of hitting, subsequent time outs, potty training mishaps, a dog that ran away, and several renditions of Alex's creative spin on "Oh Canada," which contains the line "I can't fix your trampoline" which is also sometimes "zamboni."
By nine fifteen I was feeling like a caged animal.
Caged with other animals. Annoying ones, like hamsters who look cute at first but then then they just keep on digging and digging and getting wood chips everywhere, and running on their wheel which keeps on squeaking, and then suddenly you look at their big hamster teeth and their cheeks all puffy cheeks and you suddenly have the urge to take that little hamster and gouge his eyes out.
Like that.
So I decided to take them out. "I just need to get out of the house," I thought.
That was a mistake. It's kind of like those people,, who have bad marriages and they think that having a baby will fix everything. But then you just end up with an even worse marriage, a lack of sleep, a perpetual puke stain on your shoulder and bladder control problems.

Rule Number 2: If your kids are driving you crazy at home, they're only going to drive you crazy in public. Which is worse. Cuz then you're in public. With crazy kids. And you can't even yell at them or threaten them that if they're not good you'll go get Shadow- which is a dog that they're scared of.

Brunch did not go well.
The person sitting behind us may or may not have suffered a mild to moderate concussion after Alex threw a fork at him. He tried to climb on the table, spilling his orange juice in the process. Which might not have been that bad, except for the fact that Alex had shredded all of the napkins, which I sat back and let him do, maybe even slightly encouraged it, because after all-- he can't give anyone a concussion with a napkin.
"Alex," I told him, tyring to be firm. "You are going to go in time out right away."
Payton looked at me. "Where are you going to put him for time out, mom?"
"Touche," I said.

Anyways, when my husband came home it wasn't one of those emotional reunions you see on TV where the woman runs and lunges at her husband, wraps her legs around him and shrieks with excitement.
It was more like: I thrust Alex at him, who'd recently had another potty mishap. "Welcome home. He shit."

And then the next day he didn't even want to get out of bed.
He was like "Ohhh, I'm so exhausted. I need a vacation to recover from my vacation."
And I was like "You're not getting any sympathy from me, asshole."
Like seriously? Maybe if he hadn't drank his weight in beer he would be feeling better.
And his weight in beer, BTW, = a whole lot of beer. Like, A LOT.
Okay, that's kind of mean.
Anyways, that's why I haven't been around.