Sunday, May 27, 2007

Condimentally speaking

For two full days I have been submerged in mustard.

Allow me to explain.

I am entering the National Mustard Museum Seeds of Passion writing contest. The grand prize is no small amount. Therefore, I have spent the last 48 hours laboring over a tongue-in-cheek second chapter and synopsis for a romance novel centering around the Mustard Museum and it's new chef-in-residence, Isabella Martinique.

I have eaten mustard smeared hot dogs. I have contemplated exotic mustard concoctions and mustard recipes. I have sat on my butt reading and re-reading my chapter.

I am mustarded out.

My only consolation is, should I win, I love the idea of touting myself as the "Seeds of Passion" Mustard Museum writing contest winner.

On a side note: A friend of mine wrote about a list of things she wants to do before she dies. Honestly, I don't know what my whole list would include. But I can say this: I want to be able to pay all my bills on time at some point before I die.

And maybe visit the Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin to receive a $5,000 check.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It will happen, won't it?

I dropped my kids off this morning for the last day of school. This is always a weird, sentimental time for me because I don't take change very well and because it's the end of another chapter. When my youngest darling leaves 1st grade forever, I can't escape the fact that my child-rearing years are flying away like dandelion petals on the wind.

Having said all that... Woo-Hoo!!! Yippee-Skippee!!! They are growing up!!! I've been raising babies for over 22 years, 10 of which I spent either pregnant or breastfeeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

People told me I would miss having a baby to cuddle. Um, no. They told me I would miss breastfeeding. Are you kidding? And I was told that some day I would regret not having the pitter-patter of little feet running through my house. With as many kids as I have, spread across as many years, I fear that day will never come. I'm sure I'll have grandchildren before Savannah's grown up and moved out.

And boy, won't having grandchildren be fun? I'm going to be the grandma from hell. I will love them up, spoil them rotten, and send them right back to momma and daddy. Hee-hee-hee.

Who says I don't have goals?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Top 10 Things That Suck About This Graduation Time of Year

1. I never graduated from anything other than Defensive Driving.

2. Running into people you knew in high school who DID graduate, are still dumber than rocks, and make more money than you.

3. Trying to figure out an appropriate graduation gift (A case of beer? Gift card? Crotchless panties?)

4. Coming up with an appropriate response when the graduate explains his 5-year plan, which includes professional surfing, touring inland China, and becoming a UFC champion fighter - not necessarily in that order.

5. Graduation parties - which are not parties at all, but rather a gathering of older people who "remember when," younger people who are waiting for the older people to leave so the real party can start, and kids who are just there for the cake.

6. Realizing the graduate is younger than most of your CD collection.

7. Sifting through a crowd of sweaty people you just fought for a parking place, trying to find a seat where you can see more than the person's head in front of you, then sitting through hours of hard-to-hear speeches and hand clapping before having to fight the same sweaty masses back to the car.

8. Pomp and Circumstance.

9. Maternity graduation gowns.

10. Inevitably, the guy who streaks naked across the stage to get his diploma doesn't have a cute butt.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I might have to get up off the couch

I attended my 12 year-old daughter's band concert tonight. Two hours later my butt still hurts.

The evening took me back to my orchestra days. I played the violin from the 4th grade until halfway through my junior year of high school. It's hard to believe, I know, but there was a time in my life when there was no doubt what I would be when I grew up. A concert violinist.

I loved playing music, especially chamber music. Being in a concert orchestra, when everything clicks, is like being swept along with the tide. Your fingers begin to automatically find their place, you feel it, you get into a groove. It's a wonderful thing that happens - to become a part of something bigger than yourself, something that can't exist without all the different, individual parts coming together to make a whole. Wonderful.

But I especially liked playing chamber music. With a smaller group of instruments the harmonies are more distinct, the intertwining melodies dance around each other and sometimes join to make an entirely different sound. It's more intimate.

I played in a trio with two girls in school. Laura and I played violin and Jeri played the cello. We were good together, won a few contests, performed at my sister's wedding. Who knows where we would have ended up if we hadn't drifted apart, if we'd realized how talented we were and made a go of it?

But life happens, doesn't it?

Jeri ended up moving away and Laura went to a different high school. I decided violin was too hard and dropped out of orchestra for drama class. Not long after that, I dropped out of high school altogether, got married, got pregnant, etc. Yay, me.

I recently found Jeri again and I hope we can get together soon. The last I heard of Laura, she was married to a veterinarian, had some kids, and was teaching math in Clear Lake. I don't think any of us would change anything. But I daydream sometimes about "what if."

What if I ever actually lived up to any of my potential?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Progress Report

It's Tuesday and I've done fairly well with the whole positive thinking thing. I only told one person to kiss my @$$, and that was a relayed message.

Well, actually it was an entire law enforcement organization, but that's only because they're perpetuationg a rumor about me that is untrue.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunny days and changing ways

Things are settling back to normal, kind of. My butt's still dragging and everything feels about 1/2 a degree off center still, but I don't know why.

Anyway, I've spent the last two days frolicking in the pool with my kids and reading Stephen King's "The Shining." I'm toasty red and I've probably aged my skin another 10 years, but it's been great.

While soaking up the sun like a lazy lizard yesterday and getting inspired by King's interesting word usements, I overheard my seven year-old daughter tell her friend, "I'm going in now, my hair is all jacked up."

I almost swallowed my tongue. But haven't we all been there?

Speaking of which, a friend recently called me out on being so negative about my looks and I'm taking that to heart. I've decided to enjoy who I am, even going so far as to venture into public sans makeup occasionally. I've also stopped melting my hair into submission every time I wash it, opting instead to let it curl the way it wants every once in a while.

It's a very freeing thing, this being who I am business.

In fact, I like it so much I've decided to try an experiment. I'm going to try to order my thoughts and conversation in purely positive ways. You know the old adage, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. It will probably last half a day, but I'm going to try anyway. We'll see what happens. It's just as easy to think of the good as it is to comiserate over the bad.

If the world tilts on its axis, we'll know I succeeded. The last time I had a fit of optimism, I caught my hair on fire.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What a trip

I'm back.

I had a wonderful time and learned a lot more about hurricane crap than I ever wanted to know. The B & B where I stayed was not what I'd imagined, but it grew on me; by the time I left it felt like I was leaving my second home and I wished I had more time there.

Galveston has an indefinable affect on me. It's a very old town and my family has a history there, so maybe it's the ghosts that get under my skin. I don't know, but I love it. The weather was beautiful, the companionship perfect. I slept well for the first time in ages, and even the food tasted better. I guess I needed to get away.

Anyway, now it's back home and back to reality. Boo-hoo.

Reality is over-rated.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A little after-dinner whine

Ok - I'm slacking again. I've had a busy last few days.

My sister came up on Friday to watch my kids while I go to the hurricane conference this week, and we've been running around like crazy trying to get things in order. Tina let me drop the kids at her house on Saturday so I could get some stuff done, then came over later for fun and frolicking. Sunday was laundry, laundry, laundry, and today was shopping, shopping, shopping.


Tomorrow I leave for Galveston. It's sad when you have to go to a hurricane conference to get some peace and quiet.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What I do all day

I have spent the day researching women authors who interest me, specifically, Shirley Jackson and Dorothy Parker.

Shirley Jackson most notably wrote the book "The Haunting of Hill House" and the short story "The Lottery". Dorothy Parker was a humorist in the 20's and quite a character. She's been one of my heroes for as long as I can remember.

I wonder if it's an omen that both women died of heart failure? Jackson died at the age of 48 in her sleep; Parker lived much longer, into her 70's. I imagine the contributing culprits in both cases were the then-fashionable habits of smoking and drinking combined with a writer's sedentary lifestyle. Good thing I quit smoking!

In an intro to one of the Shirley Jackson sites, the writer (not Jackson), explains how she came to be a fan. She says at the age of 14 she was a loner, ugly, anti-social, and a bitch. As such, she felt an affinity for the female characters Jackson creates in her stories. Which struck a nerve in me.

I believe every woman has felt this way about herself at some point in time, if we're being honest about it. And if we're being really honest, every woman has - in actuality - been all of those things.

I've always thought I would write a fluffy romance or adventure novel, but that's not where my heart is. My heart is in exploring women and their relationships with each other. It's a complicated and multi-faceted subject. And so much more interesting to invent characters with depth.

So, women it is, in all our glory, wickedness, and pain.

My peek today into the life of Dorothy Parker delivered a new favorite quote: When asked to create a sentence using the word "horticulture," she replied - "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think."

I love it.