Month: September 2009 (page 1 of 3)

True Story

Once upon a time there was a very young Mommy who had one sweet, beautiful, well-behaved child. (Oh, stop. This is all true.) This happy child loved her Mommy and followed her around, sat still for hair-doing, and went to bed without any fussing.

The young Mommy thought, “I must be the best Mommy God has ever blessed with a perfect child.” She thought, “I am going to do this again and again, because I am so very, very good at it.”
The Mommy watched her happy little girl play with her dolls, being a sweet littleMommy to them, singing to them, kissing their plastic faces. The Mommy said, “Yes, indeed. We should do this again.”
So the Mommy, in the family way once again, spent her days watching her little girl play, vomiting in the toilet, and playing at the swimming pool. The sweet child patted her Mommy’s back and sat gently on her lap for many, many stories every day.
Then one day, the Mommy watched this sweet, happy child playing littleMommy games with her baby dolls. And heard these words: “Smarten up, baby.” (Have we mentioned that this sweet little girl was almost, but not quite two years old?)
The Mommy feared that she had ruined something precious. All was, perhaps, lost. The good, wonderful Mommy could no longer assume that because her child mimicked her sweet-Mommy words, she was only a sweet Mommy. Because now that the good girl also copied her impatient-Mommy words, that would have to mean (gasp) that she was an impatient Mommy. A burned-out Mommy. A real, live, human Mommy… just like everyone else.
Turns out that the timing on this was inspired, because it was Very Important for this Mommy to learn that lesson. Because the next child was healthy (mostly) she was beautiful (in a bald way) but she was not happy. Not ever. Not for a year and a half. That’s eighteen months. Seventy-eight weeks. Five hundred and forty -six days. And nights. And the Mommy carried on. She learned that sometimes God just gives us gifts. And sometimes He sends us challenges. And sometimes, when we’re ready for it, He lets us see that our challenges are also great gifts.
Epilogue: Once upon a slightly later time there was a nearly middle aged Mommy who had four sweet, beautiful, well-behaved children. Not one of them was perfect. Not one was constantly happy. But they were all loved, all wanted, all appreciated, and they all loved their sometimes burned-out, tired, cranky, sometimes fun, silly, happy, always human, always learning Mommy.

A List

So yesterday afternoon while I was mowing the lawn sans iPod, I had brilliant blog-post ideas. They were flowing. Funny ideas, insightful ones, serious and ridiculous ones.

Um, gone.
This is why real writers keep notebooks or carry cards – like those white index cards. Husband does. Unlined 3x5s are his favorites, and he always has a pen with him. Okay, maybe not while mowing the grass, but maybe so. You never know. But that way, when genius strikes and the muse sings, you write it down instead of counting on your brain to hold on to the beautiful ideas.
With the lack of beautiful ideas, I’m going to tell you what’s inside my purse. Lucky, lucky you.
The blue scarf is technically tied to the outside, so maybe that doesn’t count. Let’s go inside.
In the outer pocket:
estee lauder lipstick, #24 in spiced cider*
dramamine, less drowsy formula
mailbox key
orange highlighter with post-it flags inside
altoid smalls, wintergreen flavor – mmmm.
In the inner pocket:
target brand eyedrops
neosporin + pain relief
4 feminine hygiene products
a smashed pack of trident “minty sweet twist” gum, mostly full
7 (200-mg) ibuprophen tablets in a zip-bag (snack sized) for road trips and movies
1 mint that looks pepperminty, but is probably cinnamon, from a restaurant somewhere
Inside the purse itself:
my falling-apart pink wallet (which holds, among other things, my drivers’ license, cards from subway, america first c.u., costco, library, health insurance, macy’s {that one’s a gift card}, ann taylor, discover, zion’s bank, a coupon for kohl’s that expired 3 weeks ago, receipts from the market and $10 in cash + some coins, but not many because apparently that’s free range for the Kids)
a copy of bright blue miracle (never know when that will come in handy)
a cool leather-bound notebook (4×4) for holding all my brilliant ideas that come when I’m not mowing
a pad of yellow post-it notes
a torn piece of paper with the name “M. Hospodarsky” on it (which is just the coolest name)
a ticket to a football game
a pouch-type wallet thing that holds emergency makeup (covergirl simply powder foundation in creamy natural, c.g. super thick lash mascara {names can be deceiving}, a silver c.g. lipstick which is for some reason open, and now all over my hands, but also really obsolete because there is also a wet-n-wild lip pencil that cost me 79 cents and it has earned my undying devotion over the years** and may continue to be my favorite beauty product forever) and a bunch of papers, including Kid 2’s 12-year-old well-check reciept, tickets for the train, outlet coupons that expired in august, a cardholder agreement for a card I’ve never used, and a pack of treetop fruitsnacks – for emergencies on the road***
a pack of skittles which doesn’t really tempt me
a grocery list****
a spare contact lens case
a pencil that says “click it or ticket” – I just love threats from the law
3 pens, 1 green, 2 black
2 pennies
a wrapper-lid from a pot of wendy’s honey-mustard dipping sauce (which I don’t eat, so I’m not really sure how that one happened)
So the point of this exercise? Apparently to remind us all that cheap makeup is a good thing, and that no matter what, a girl who likes to talk (or write) will always find something, no matter how trivial, to say.

* actually a little orange for me, but not bad with the right outfit (black)
**it’s # 666, but that is just a coincidence, I mean it.
***mine, if necessary
****that’s another post entirely – bet you can’t wait

Just a Suggestion

You know me, I’m always full of it – I think somehow that my opinion is relevant. Hm.

Well, today, I’m just saying, you might want to try this. Here’s what I just had for lunch:
Carrot slices (a real, full-sized carrot, remember? Not baby nonsense) and cucumber slices (salted) and brie on triscuits. Little slices of brie melted in the micro-nuker on Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil triscuits. This is the best lunch I’ve eaten lately where nobody else was involved with cooking for me.
And then, about writing – the book signing was fun. I met lots of nice people who, among other things, write good things and love fine foods and share their cute babies and wear great jewelry. (Not all the same people had all those great qualities, you know. But among the group, all that was represented.)
Husband is working at home today, so he’s taking Kid 4 over to the driving range for his lunch break and they’re going to hit a few golf balls. Soak up these perfect autumn days, right? I’m going to mow the lawn (eventually – maybe I’ll read something fun out on the patio first…). This morning I got some outlining done (in a notebook on my bed, because I was terribly _______ (cold or lazy or maybe industrious, you decide).

An Event

Hey there – I’m doing a book signing on Saturday morning (um, did I neglect to mention that earlier? My bad.) I’ll be at the Orem Seagull (Center street and State) from 10:00 till noon. I’d love to see any of y’all who are in the neighborhood. We can talk books and … well, there must be something else we can do.

– m’Kay, bye!

Inspired

I’m feeling all inspired by my bloggy-friend Kim. She is struggling (I was going to say battling, but that sort of implies more physical work than being on bedrest – you know) with troubles in a difficult pregnancy. She’s winning. Baby C is growing. But it’s not easy for Kim, of course. And she’s doing an amazing job of continuing her job as blog-inspiration-mama.

Her post today (except it was posted yesterday, at some point after I visited) talks about validation – specifically validating her own sadness and suffering. It made me think of a thing I’ve thought before. Want to know what it is?
One of the greatest compliments I can give a person is to believe that they have a struggle that is at least as big a deal as any I’m going through. I have a tendency to see these remarkable, beautiful, strong women around me and think (very quietly) well, of course she has it all together. Of course her house is clean and her kids’ bangs are trimmed and her PTA work is done and her meals are balanced – because she doesn’t struggle like I do. Her life is just EASY.

And you know what? That’s mean. It’s wrong. It’s inaccurate. And it doesn’t do me (or anyone else) any good.
There is something going on. I have no idea what it is. But just because this one has perfect kids, I shouldn’t assume that her heart is light. Just because that one has a great car, I shouldn’t figure that her family never has money concerns. Just because this one, from the back, doesn’t even look pregnant when she’s about to deliver, I shouldn’t assume that this pregnancy is any easier than any of mine were. Just because that one laughs so easily, well, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a huge disappointment hiding behind her smile.
I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. I will assume that there are aches. There are worries. There are heartbreaks in every life, and somehow I can channel a little comfort in that direction just by recognizing that fact.

Fiction

I staggered into the pantry to grab an orange. That would do it. A glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice would wake me up. After that, everything would feel right.

Right hand reached up for the juicer as left hand went for an orange. But instead of lifting out a firm, heavy, juicy orange, my fingers went right through a piece of rotten fruit. As the adult around here, I should have tossed the orange into the garbage can and moved on. But I couldn’t move on. Not only couldn’t I move on, I couldn’t even move out of the pantry. I dropped to the floor and buried my head in my knees. I sat there, gunky orange rot on my fingers, hunched and sobbing, for far too long.

Oranges gone bad, this is cause for tears? Okay, well, I had just spent far too much money on a case of fruit from the roving produce man who visits my house a few times a year. Somehow I always manage to buy what he’s selling, even though his samples are always tastier than what I end up with. And now I was the owner of thirty pounds of rotten oranges. And I wanted a drink. I craved that juice, and now I couldn’t have it.

I know I am capable of near-hysterical acts of drama, but even to me this seemed a little over the top. I wiped the slimy orange parts off on my sock and took a breath. Not a deep breath, because I was still folded in half over my knees, but a breath. In. Out. In again.

What was really wrong?

Isn’t that the question?

What was really twisting my heart to the breaking point so that an overripe piece of fruit could bring me down?

And do you know what? It was nothing. Nothing and everything. There was no major trauma. Everyone was well. Most everyone was happy. Small inconveniences like gnats in front of my eyes were suddenly wood slivers under my nails. The weight of all that needed doing pressed heavy on my back and shoulders, and I knew I simply could not handle it.

I could not be the person I wanted to be. I could never measure up to what I expected of me. I couldn’t be a perfect wife. I couldn’t even be a decent mother. I was a lame friend, a bad sister, a horrible neighbor, a hack writer, and I couldn’t even make a glass of orange juice without breaking down.

I needed a vacation. A maid. A nanny. A pedicure.

Or maybe just a hug.

(This is fiction. I’m fine. None of this even happened, except me needing a maid, and maybe a pedicure. It’s just an exercise in writing – the prompt was “good things gone bad”.)

Emotional Outbursts

So this “writing prompts” thing is cool – even if I never see any of it again, it’s helpful. This morning, I used the word wrapped and wrote a couple of things from it. I could do more. Weird, how finding a word that seems so obvious, so specific, can open my eyes to feelings and emotions I’d not really considered. I keep these in a computer folder called “emotional outbursts” and that is where some of my book starts come from. I’ve written a scene that became a piece of a novel (twice). The novel didn’t necessarily hinge on that scene, and neither time was that scene the beginning, but both times I was able to so clearly see the characters, their motivations, their fears and their anxieties that those characters came alive to me right then. I just had to do that little job of writing a novel around that scene.

If you’re interested, one of those was the scene in Bright Blue Miracle where Leigh and Germ are in his kitchen, the scene leading up to his saying “she makes me feel like you do.” That was the first thing I wrote for that book, and I still love that scene (at least in my head. It does me no good to go back and read it now, I’d only find things I wish I could change, you know?).
The other is from the forthcoming Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. It’s an almost-kiss scene that takes place at a wedding reception (and in a pink dress), and it appears in the book very close to how I originally wrote it. At least, I think it does. I should see edits very soon, and I’ll see how much has changed…

Pruning

After shuttling all those cute Kids out the door this morning, I grabbed the pruning shears and went to work on my overgrown shrubs. Sometimes I find myself picking up one branch and carefully, gently, snipping it so the new leaves will grow just so. Other times (most of the time) I hack.

Lunge.
Chop.

Attack.
Wield the trimmers till my arms shake with the effort of keeping them over my head.
It’s like editing, you know? (See? We’re doing a writing post today – did you see that coming?) In careful editing, I sit and moodle* over just the right word or phrase to get my point across. I work gently to convey an emotion or a nuance.
Then there’s the highlight-and-delete parts, where huge chunks of my writing fall at my feet in clusters, and I gather them up in my arms and haul them to the trash.
And (cue the point) when I’m done, whether with the careful, precise snips or the giant jaws of the cutters, the shrub (or the story) looks neater. More organized. Cleaner. More ready for what’s next, whether that’s publication or autumn. And either way, my hands are shaking at the end, hoping that it’s all going to be beautiful later.

* I stole (borrowed) this wonderful word from a near-perfect writing book by Brenda Ueland called “If You Want To Write.” I totally recommend it. The book. And the moodling.