Month: October 2010 (page 1 of 3)

Cranky

So maybe it’s the Halloween thing, or maybe it’s that Husband left today for Hawaii, or maybe I should stop finding excuses. Whatever. Here’s what happened:

I was driving Kid 2 to her friend’s house for a Halloween party. She’s dressed as a huge fried egg with horns and a pitchfork. Get it? A devilled egg. Ha. As I’m driving her, we’re chatting. We’re on the north side of town, and I remember that I need a bag of frozen tortellini for tomorrow’s soup. So I said, “Maybe I’ll just go to [the grocery store on the north side of town], except that it sort of makes me cranky to shop there.”

She sighed. “Mom, no offense, but you’re sort of already cranky. How much difference is it really going to make?”

No offense? Is there another reaction to have when your 13-year-old daughter tells you you’re pretty cranky? Whatever, again. So I went to [the north-end grocery store] to buy my tortellini.

Guess what. I wandered the freezer aisles for several minutes to no avail. I found the fresh tortellini, and would have bought it, but it was ridiculously overpriced. I asked someone in a [north-end store] uniform. She said, “Frozen tortellini?” as though I had asked where they stack their frog’s livers. “Yes, Ma’am. Frozen tortellini. I’d think it would be in the freezer section.” She nodded as if she understood me. Then she asked someone else. Who said, “Oh, yeah. We’re all out.”

All out? I could feel the crankiness building to the bubbling point.

So I sighed, walked outside into the seriously pouring rain, and drove to the other side of town. The south-end of town, where the friendly grocery store lives. If you need to know exactly how much of a whiner I am, you really need to understand that my town is maybe, on a good day, two miles long. So it wasn’t a long drive. But it felt long. Cranky? Hmm. Maybe Kid 2 was on to something.

I parked. I dodged a lot of raindrops. I walked straight to the freezer section of my Very Favorite Grocery Market and grabbed a bag of frozen tortellini. Which was on sale. I was greeted by the cashier, who commented on my eyelashes (I totally dressed up for trick-or-treat in my fake eyelashes and fake hair ponytail, because my life is all glamour, all the time) and shared a laugh.

Question: Why did I even think I should waste 10 minutes shopping at the wrong grocery store?

Answer: Nobody knows. Only a cranky person would even attempt it.

Hanging with the GATE-ors

I just got back from a so-fun morning hanging with the 3rd and 4th grade GATE-ors at my Kids’ elementary school. (GATE is Gifted And Talented Education.) Our school has a great group of kids, and the cutest teacher ever.

She asked me to come in and talk to the kids about the “show, don’t tell” principle. Shall we let that sink in for a second? I had written 2 books before I ever heard anyone say those words, “show, don’t tell.” Well, okay, maybe not two whole books, but I certainly wasn’t nine. What a leg-up these little people are getting. I know what you’re thinking: And at such capable hands as yours, Becca.

Well, thanks.

So we talked about it. Then we wrote. It went like this. I wrote some sentences (very bad ones) on the board.

“Trevor was excited.”

“Meagan was tired.”

“McKinley was frightened.”

“Austin was angry.”

“Kelsey was happy.”

“Mrs. Pedersen was bored.”

Then I asked the kids to paint me a word picture, telling me about one of those sentences without using those words. Three or four sentences to show me those feelings. I did it, too. We wrote together in relative quiet for a couple of minutes, me with a clickable dry-erase marker (ah, LOVE) and them with furious pencil scratching on paper. I love me some furious pencil scratching. Then they read to me. They were awesome. They wrote what it looked like, smelled like, sounded like. They made up details. They put themselves inside a character’s head. They showed. For real.

Want to guess the sentence that nobody, nobody at all, chose to write?

Go ahead. Guess.

“Kelsey was happy.”

Not one. Isn’t that weird? I think it is. I’ve been remembering my high school English classes, specifically AP English with Mrs. Morris (who I am certain would never remember me) where I wondered out loud how come we never read anything with a happy ending. (Innocence and cheek, all at once.) She rolled her eyes at me from behind some really large, eyeball-distorting glasses and said something that was probably reflective of Tolstoy’s famous “Happy families are all alike.” So today, with this interesting (to me) piece of data, I was able to tell this pack of third-graders that you don’t have a story without some conflict. Character is most important, but no matter how awesome or adorable your character is, we don’t want to hang out with him until something troublesome/bizarre/dangerous/ironic starts to happen.

And they totally got it.

(But I still love me a happy ending.)

So thanks, Mrs. Pedersen, for having me come and play in your class. And see? I didn’t even burst into song. I keep my promises.


The Fabric of my Life

It’s not like I go shopping all that often. Or really, almost at all. Once or twice a year, I’ll get the Kids new jeans and shoes, and somehow the rest just happens. But shopping is not something I do particularly often, or particularly well. And shopping with Husband? Is a thing of beauty, mostly for its infrequency.

He’s actually a good shopper. He has patience, for a while. He generally knows exactly what he wants. (And then maybe he finds it and buys it twice. Or three times. Maybe…) He’s got an artist’s eye, and can tell me if he thinks something looks good.

But know what looks good to him? Synthetics.

Husband loves fleece.

I love cotton.

He loves fleece so much that I wonder if he really knows that he’s wearing someone’s recycled plastic beverage bottles. I’m not telling him. It might burst the bubble. But as we were at the Columbia store this weekend, looking for a sweatshirt, he tried on seventeen (or so) things, and I didn’t even find one single thing that I wanted to put my arms into. I certainly found things I wanted to pet. And pet I did. Mmm. Soft. But not particularly wearable (for me).

I want cotton. I want a sweater. Or a thick, heavy hoodie. Or another sweater. With a cotton T-shirt under it.

Snuggling on the couch, I want my red cotton woven blanket – the one that plays a little pink these days. (*Disclaimer: I just got the softest, most pettable white fleece blanket from my sweet SIL for my birthday. It is so awesome. It is called the Baby Seal, and everyone in the house covets it. It lives on my bed and I will not share. Because I don’t want to ever have to wash away its perfection.)

And please, for the love of all that is holy, will someone tell towel manufacturers that we hate fleece towels? Why, why, why would anyone want to get out of the shower and wrap up in a water-resistant towel? I understand softness. I do. But a towel should be absorbant. Is this so much to ask? Cotton towels. Big ones. And we can learn to dry them on low heat. We can. If we do this, they will stay soft longer. And they will still be made of cotton.

Cotton yoga pants. Jeans made of denim (no thank you to spandex). T-shirts. Lots and lots of T-shirts. Good old-fashioned cotton hoodies. And sweaters.

This is the fabric of my life.

Bookish Fun

If you are going to be within a hundred miles of Provo, Utah next Saturday, October 30th, you really ought to go to the Provo City Library’s Teen Book Fest. Now, come on. How often do I tell you what you “really ought” to do? Nearly never? That’s what I though. But this? Is going to rock. There is a ticketed Keynote speech at noon by… are you ready? Scott Westerfeld. I am not kidding. (*shiver of fangirl anticipation*) Tickets are gone. But.

(Did you think I was going to give away a ticket? That would have been cool. But I don’t actually have one to give. Or to go. But I have not yet lost hope. Nor should you. Read the link about standby possibilities.)

There is so much other cool stuff going on, including something like 20 authors, local and national, who will be speaking, writing, signing, drawing (no, really – there’s an interactive graphic novel wall) and entertaining. Had I been invited, I would surely sing. But Provo City decided not to let me within 20 meters of a live microphone. Just kidding. But not really. I will not be within 20 meters of a microphone. But I will be going – as a witness to the magic. Some authors I LUURVE will be there. Check out the Participating Author page and tell me if that does not thrill you.

Ally Condie?* Ann Cannon?* Sara Zarr?* Kristen Chandler?* Lisa Mangum?* Fifteen more that I can’t do on auto-recall? (Sorry. I’ve got 4 Kids. Blame them.) Not to mention (again) Scott Westerfeld! I feel Ugly and Pretty and Special just thinking about it.

*Did you think I linked to all their pages? Oh. Sorry. I just wanted to make the post pretty. And Ally’s book that comes out next month (MATCHED) has a girl wearing this color. And Ann loves treats, and this is the color of red velvet cake. And I once saw a picture of Sara wearing a really excellent blazer just this color. And Kristen writes about Yellowstone, and this looks like tree trunks to me. And Lisa’s books have yellowy-golden glowy covers. So I was just being clever. Not helpful. Maybe we should all get used to it.

Happiness, Beatles Style

When the Kids left this morning, I hit “play” on the computer, because I needed a little music to help me through the Cinderella-scrub of the kitchen floor. (See? It’s Friday. Kitchen floor Cinderella-scrub day.) When I hit “play” the computer started singing to me whatever someone listened to last. That would be the Beatles. My Kid 2 is in a Beatles love-phase. I had one of those. It lasted about seven years. And I’m still sort of in it, except it’s more like a minor crush now. I love them when I have time to think about it. Or when I hit “Play” and they start to sing.

We have a great deal of Beatles in our computer music library. Which I recommend. Because there is actually a great variety of Beatles music. You may not believe me, but I believe me. In fact, all our kids have an honorary Song. Kid 1’s is “Life Goes On” (the Desmond and Molly song) and Kid 2’s is usually “Good Day, Sunshine” but is now ever changing, because now that she knows more of their work, she craves a really bizarre drug-culture song like “Come Together” or “Yellow Submarine” or “Lucy in the Sky” – who’s Kid is that? Kid 3’s song is “I Will” and Kid 4’s is “Here Comes the Sun” (but after 3 sisters, we spell it “the Son.”) (The Kids say mine is “Paperback Writer. I try not to be offended.)

And, scrubbing the floor this morning, I heard this:

“Wearing the face that she keeps in the jar by the door…”

and

“Fish and finger pie..”

and

“I sat on the rug, biding my time.”

and

“Day after day, alone on the hill, the man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still.”

and

“It’s coming to take you away.”

Maybe Halloween is sinking in against all my better judgement, but really? Is that creepy to anyone else?

So then, I get a dose of real, honest, British gladness:

“Happiness (bang-bang, shoot-shoot) is a warm gun.”

Starting Over

It’s the good kind of starting over – the productive kind.

I’ma tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I was a young mom with little kids*. I loved that job. I was pretty good at it. My kids were funny and smart and obedient. Not particularly coiffed or well-dressed, but if I had to choose something to skimp on, that would be it. So upon that time, I had this little gripe. It was this: I do the same things, over and over every day, and nobody (I think that meant Husband and Kids) notices if I do it. Only if I don’t do it. Like the dishes and the laundry and the diapers and the cooking and the vacuuming and the bathing and the bill-paying and the reading and the singing and the playing. If I skip it, you can be sure everyone would notice. But when I keep doing, it feels like wasted effort.

Do you know this feeling?

If you’re there, right now, I’m here to tell you that it will end. And I’m not here to tell you that you will miss it. But you might. I’m just saying. But hey, the thing is, that too shall pass, and the day will come that when you spend a day doing something, it will Stay Done.

This is a great thing, no?

Yesterday I started a new writing project. It’s not Top Secret or anything, but it’s also not really in the Let’s Share This zone yet. It’s different than what I’ve done before. And at the risk of sounding like an infatuated girl at the brink of a new romance, I think I really like it. It’s fun. It’s new. It’s different. It’s short. (That’s not new. That’s standard. But still, it is short.) And the pleasure of opening a new blank document and typing around on it until, a thousand words later, I’m laughing and kind of can’t wait to show it to my Kids? That is the good kind of starting over. And even if I decide sometime later that this should never, ever see the light of day? I can keep it in my file, the one behind the bumblebee icon on the computer, the file where there are plenty of stories that don’t deserve the light of day. Some of them full book length. But they are there. Written. Started, and kept from day to day.

I can’t look back on that and say, “Wah. Nobody noticed that thing I did. Maybe it didn’t even happen.”

Well, I can, but I shouldn’t. And I won’t.

Because it did happen. And it can happen over and over, every day.

Happy writing!

*Now I’m a young mom with big kids. Funny how that works, at least in my own head.

And how shall we celebrate?

(*trumpet fanfare*)

Ivie is turned in to the Publishers! After 3 drafts and then a longer third revision than I estimated, she’s fully dressed and ready to be seen.

I’m interested to see how this pans out. It’s strange that my self-esteem isn’t so tied up in this book as it has been in the past. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I’ve suddenly lost my neuroses (how would you even recognize me then?) but I’ve grown a tiny sprout of confidence.

Want to know what that looks like? It looks like, hey, this is funny, and I don’t even have to ask anyone else if he thinks so. It looks like, this feels different than anything else I’ve ever done, and that is fine. It looks like, if Current Publisher doesn’t care for it, someone else will.

Isn’t it bizarre?

And now, to the celebration part. Today I get to:

* start a new book (writing)

* start a new book (reading)

* make bread, white

* actually clean the bathrooms I threatened to clean yesterday

* clip the plants that need to be winterized (this is always a good idea that somehow never leaves “good idea” land, but maybe now. Maybe)

And you? What are you celebrating?

Contests? Free books? Oh, Joy!

I’m featured today over here, at “I am a Reader, not a Writer” (although, you know, I’m both). Miss K, the bloganista, is hosting a giveaway, so go on over there and get your name in the hat. If you win and already own copies of my books, well, hm. Christmas is coming up, right? And you probably know someone, somewhere who doesn’t have both BBM and MRRO. So go. Visit. Sign up on her site to win books.

Because who doesn’t love winning free books?

(Except you. I wasn’t actually talking to you.)

In other news, I started a new story this morning. It is fun. This is all you need to know right now, but I promise Many, Many details will come.

You have been warned.