Thursday, January 25, 2007

In my head...

A friend told me recently she'd like to spend a day in my head. Now there's a scary thought. Once I stopped laughing I told her certainly she had better things to do and she said yeah, but it would be an interesting experience. Not really. But since I can't think up anything else to write, here you go R, this one is for you.

You can't have a whole day, that would be cruel, and I left out all the really nasty swear words (I am not a nice person first thing in the morning) but this is what was in my head for about 15 minutes Tuesday morning after I got out of bed and was heading down the stairs and through the family room on the way to the kitchen:

…where the hell is the dog Quinc-- that's right he's not here this week at least I won't get ambushed on the stairs god that knee is sore this morning someday I’m going to have to get it replaced won't that be fun there is no way I can take that much time off w-- hi kitty, what are you so frisky about so now I find out my protagonist has a negative goal and that's harder to write like I needed to know that thank you oh there's that library book I need to return that today why is it so cold down here I'm going to need to wear a sweater today did I pay the car insurance I'm pretty sure I washed the red one I suppose I could wear it with the charcoal pants because the black ones are dirty OH MY GOD is that a mouse oh kitty that wasn't nice poor baby what were you thinking you should know not to come in here where the cat will get you maybe if I made the protag the antag then she would have a positive goal but no that won't work that's stupid [meow] yes kitty it's a lovely mouse thank you at least there's no blood this time [meow] no it isn't going to play anymore "oh nay nay" as John P-something would say my god that man is funny why can't I remember his name [meow] it's dead yes I'm sure how do people get up in front of an audience and do that wow this concrete is cold I should have put shoes on before I came out here I really need to sweep the rest of these leaves out of the garage maybe someday if I ever get home before dark I'll do that I wonder whether the chapter has 1099 reporting responsibility I'd better email L about that because that deadline is coming up yes kitty the mouse is all gone I can't believe that guy was Jack's brother god wouldn't it be fun to write characters like th-- well duh [meow] not like there's anything stopping you is there I need to stop stacking the mail on the kitchen table so I wouldn't have to look at it first thing every morning god that's annoying oh hell I forgot to buy contact solution yesterday well won't that be interesting [meowww] yes I know you're hungry, thank you for not eating the mouse [MEOW] let me wash my hands I need to remember to run the dishwasher before I go to work at least I don't have to wonder anymore whether to kill off that character since it's [MER-OWWWL] can you SEE me opening this can here a really bad idea to do that to your protag good thing I realized that's who she was before it was too late here you go kitty knock yourself out my sister said she'd call me this weekend and she didn't I hope she's ok god it's cold in here that picture she sent me of the dog in the sink was hilarious oh well the gas bill is going to be outrageous anyway it always is this time of year maybe there's some contact solution in the kids' bathroom I guess I have to stop at the store after work but I need to go to the library and damn they're in opposite directions I need to work on that financial statement tonight maybe we didn't pay anyone more than 600 dollars last year but I bet we did here's some fresh water kitty what date is that book signing next month I didn't write it on the calendar but I'm so excited SEP is coming Quincy would never eat a mouse would he oh gross no he wouldn't I'm sure he wouldn't I'll wear the yellow sweater it looks better with those pants he always licks my hands when I come home no that's too gross I have to remember to check the printer settings before I do the W2s because the new computer is just a tad bit off and there isn't much room for error on those forms maybe I can just order a pizza for dinner no wait I have stuff in the freezer thank god because I'm not going to want to cook I can already tell why is a negative goal harder to write damn it I don't need harder goals I need to finish the book I wonder how much it would cost to rent a place at the beach for a long weekend I could throw some stuff in the car and be there in less than two hours I bet it wouldn’t be that much this time of year did I pay my RWA dues yet I don't think I did too bad I couldn't get away until maybe June and then it will cost a fortune so maybe that's a bad idea since I haven't decided whether to go to Dallas I wonder whether DS is coming home for his sister's birthday this weekend maybe I should call to remind him so big deal it's a hard goal I can do hard this is not a problem I wonder whether I have all the ingredients for that cake…

And then I ate breakfast.

Of course, all this was before caffeine. Things usually pick up a bit and get more interesting after that, thank god. As a matter of fact, once the other voices wake up and join in, it becomes downright entertaining.

You'll just have to wait for the book to see what they have to say.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

You decide

In general, when I am unusually quiet it is more than likely due to one of four reasons:

1) I am listening and thinking.

2) I am deeply hurt.

3) I am coldly furious.

4) I can't think of a single thing worth saying.

I am quite certain none of you reading this need permission, let alone urging, but what the hell: be my guest, go ahead and speculate.

ADDENDUM:

Good grief. Judging by the emails that clogged up my inbox while I was at work today, half of you think the reason I am quiet lately is either 2) or 3) -- god only knows what the rest of you think. Maybe that you were the cause of either 2) or 3) and so now you are cowering under your beds?

OK, granted, those two things do make me quiet. Mostly because I have learned the hard way that communicating under those circumstances is a really, really bad idea. I tend to say things I mean and then can't take them back. Just ask any of my sisters.

But lately? No. Lately I've been doing a lot of 1). Add that to a couple of recent work weeks that are pushing 50 hours and I end up with a good bit of 4). I'm exhausted and my brain is full of numbers. All the words are squashed down at the bottom and can't get out. Not very interesting. So I thought I'd give you all something to talk about while I was at work today. Huh. Little did I know that one of the things that makes YOU all quiet (apart from all those emails), is the thought of ME being hurt or angry.

Geez, people. I mean, it's nice that you care, but really. Unless… maybe you all know something I don't? Maybe there is some reason I should be either 2) or 3)? Hmmm. Interesting.

Nope, thinking about that is making my head hurt.

You know, I'm so tired right now, it would be almost impossible for me to work up a good 2) or 3). Actually, if you've been harboring a secret wish to do something to me that might cause either 2) or 3), this would be a great time to do it. I doubt I'll even notice.

It's a pretty sad day when I give you one little rhetorical question to contemplate and you all refuse to even speculate.

So I'll be specific: What makes you quiet?

Other than this post, that is.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Are you saving it?

I believe everyone has some small piece of outrageousness inside themselves. Some people cherish and nurture it, letting it out to play with great regularity, rejoicing in the resultant laughter and skinned knees and wild flights of imagination.

Other people hide it away as if they must protect it, hording it for that rainy day when it might be acceptable to release it, just a bit, if only for a little while. Still others repress it and beat it down into submission until it sits there cowering in the darkest corner of their soul, cringing at the mere thought of fresh air and sunlight.

Those others are the people who save the good crystal for the grand occasions that never come, reasoning instead that there are small children scattered about who might break it. The same people who hold back that truly fine bottle of wine, waiting for just the right moment, hesitating because there never seems to be an event quite special enough.

I imagine them arriving at the end of life only to find they have a bottle of expensive finely-aged wine, all the special occasions it might have commemorated and the special people with whom they might have shared it faded into the mists of distant memory. Realizing they have a pristine, heirloom quality crystal bowl that holds no memories of the Thanksgiving when Great Aunt Betty sneezed while serving up her third helping of black cherry jell-o and dropped the spoon on the edge, leaving a stain on the tablecloth and a chip in the bowl whose origin was destined to become a fond and oft-told tale in the fabric of family history.

For too many years, I have been that cautious, careful person. The serious, responsible adult. The one whose role it was to tell others, especially my children, to be careful, mind your manners, watch your step. After all, what will people think?

But that person wasn't much fun and wasn't especially happy. Or particularly interesting.

It's a slow and sometimes painful process, but I'm learning to release the outrageous part inside of me that longs to run free in the sunlight and laugh with abandon. The part that thumbs its nose at convention and tradition and instead embraces vitality and honesty and delight. The part that doesn't give a good damn whether anyone approves and, frankly, hopes that maybe someone won't.

So come on over and we'll make some jell-o in that Waterford bowl. I'll break out the Dixie cups and we can pop the cork on that dusty, heady bottle of wine. We'll make some memories and live some life. We'll have fun and we'll be outrageous. And we'll laugh. And live with no regrets.

Because even as it gets longer, life gets shorter every day. And you will never get another chance to celebrate this moment. Yes, this one. Right now.

What a shame it would be if you saved it for later. Because all too often, later is too late.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Role Reversals and Other Shifts in the Universe

It seemed like just another typical Friday night, me sitting on the couch, reading, trying to decompress after a hectic work week, a glass of wine and bowl of stale pretzels at my side. Until my daughter’s best girlfriend came over and they ended up sitting on either side of me in the same room, loudly debating the merits of going downtown to a dance club.

I was successfully ignoring them -- after all, I was reading a good book -- until I heard my DD say, “And it’s pouring down rain outside, which is dangerous to drive in, you know.” She thinks she’s invincible, since when does she care about a little rain?

Then her BGF said, “Plus it’s already after eleven and by the time we get downtown it’ll be like almost midnight and why do we want to pay five freakin’ bucks to go stand in some club and watch people be all weird?” I thought that was the whole point.

Thoroughly distracted now, I said, “Or you could just stay here where it’s safe and dry, pay me five bucks, and watch me be weird.”

“You know, you really are weird,” said BGF, “What’s this I hear about you talking to people on the internet all the time?”

“Yeah, mom,” said DD, “that’s just dangerous, you know.” What is this, an intervention?

“Dangerous how?” I asked. This I’ve got to hear.

“You don’t know those blog people, you only know what they tell you,” DD said.

“That’s true,” said BGF, “and do you have any idea how easy it is for people to track you down once they know your name?”

“That’s what ax murderers do, you know,” said DD. What does she know about ax murderers?

“No one knows my real name,” I said, trying to placate them, even as I make a mental list of all the people on the internet who do indeed know my real name. “Besides, I’m pretty sure none of them are ax murderers.” And if they are, probably none of them want to kill me.

“You don’t know that. And people can be very persuasive,” said DD. “They can get you to tell them where you live and then just show up one day.”

“This is how people end up dead,” said BGF. What people?

“Yeah, but I have Quincy the Wonder Dog to protect me,” I said. [Yes, that’s his real name -- it’s OK, he isn’t overly concerned that someone might track him down to steal his identity or corrupt his virtue.]

“Mom, you know all someone would have to do is feed him a Kleenex and he’d be their best friend for life.” True. Not likely to happen, but true.

“Plus these people might just want you for cyber sex,” said BGF.

WHAT did she just say to me?

I’m trying hard to keep a straight face, which is damn near impossible when you’ve just choked on a pretzel in the midst of a snort of laughter.

“Mom, this is so not funny,” said DD. Yes, it is. This is the funniest thing I’ve heard in weeks.

“I really do not think that is going to be a problem,” I managed, “mostly I’m talking to other women who are just like me.” Mostly.

“Yeah, that’s what they tell you,” said DD. “They’re probably pretending, waiting for you to get comfortable talking to them.”

“I’ve been talking to some of these people for months now, I’m pretty sure they aren’t pretending.” Much. “Besides, we’re just playing, having fun.”

“You are so na├»ve,” said BGF.

“There are bad people out there, you know,” said DD.

This is when it dawned on me that I’d had this conversation before. Many times. I’d just never been on the receiving end of it.

“You both are very sweet (and completely delusional), but I really think you’re worrying for no reason,” I said.

I paused for a second, but the newly reawakened rebellious teenager in me just couldn’t resist. “You know, I think I’m going to write a blog post about this…”

“Oh. My. God! You are SO weird!” How they managed to say this at the same time, with the same inflection and intensity, is beyond me.

They left the room in a huff, no doubt convinced I am a marked woman, one mouse click away from complete disaster.

So I guess you all should consider this fair warning. Those of you with nefarious intentions who are hiding just down the street, around the corner over there where I can’t see you, waiting for me to be lulled into a state of complacency before you launch an attack -- and I now suspect your numbers are legion -- be aware that I am being defended by two ferocious teenagers and a highly distractible 85-lb black lab.

Plan accordingly. Bring Kleenex.

I am going to go see whether I can catch that turnip truck and climb back on before it gets too much further down the road.