Friday, July 30, 2010


Right now, because I am almost entirely crazy, I promised all three of my kids that I would help them re-do their rooms - at the same time. In fairness to my sanity, when we moved here, it was a DIY job, with chairs and bureaus shoved into corners at 2 am so we could unearth the box storing the clean underwear. Things have sort of remained that way, and now the kids are pretty much due actual furniture that remotely matches and  they can fit into.

Rooms are really important to teenagers. I'm trying to recall when writers show that emphasis, but I'm not coming up with any titles. They come home exclaiming how "cool" someone's room is, how amazing the colors/posters/speaker system/flat screen is and how much fun being in that kid's room was.

Chances are, you can remember your room as a teen. I know I spent a fair amount of time organizing it, finding spots to hide my diaries (I kept two; one my friends read at sleepovers and one that I wrote "the truth" in - )

I'm also working on revisions to a middle grade novel and what I'm finding is the prevailing sense that everything takes longer than I thought. And also the feeling that I am never going to finish anything. Here are a few notes from my recent undertakings:

Emma is doing her room in hot pumpkin, fuschia and zebra stripe. I kid you not.

She can't believe how beautiful this combination is. Her 'tween friends are all in OMG agreement that this is going to be THE room. No wonder they're a difficult age to write for...

Christopher believes that his fourth grade spelling folder, his last two hundred candy bar wrappers and his wet bathing suit create a force field around his bed that will keep the dark forces away. I can't think of any other explanation for some of the things I am finding as I strip his room down to the carpet and paint.

Philip can't part with a three foot high plastic penguin that blew onto our lawn during a snowstorm. It wears a Darth Vadar Halloween mask. Above that is a large, plastic hand puppet of Godzilla's head that Philip has given lip rings to and a few other piercings. Let's just say it's not a room Martha Stewart wants to die in.

I go back and forth between the mess of laundry baskets, bookshelves and paint cans and the mess of my WIP. In both revisions, I keep adding and deleting as I go along. The one wonderful aspect of revising a manuscript instead of a room is there is no one saying, "Mom, are you KIDDING? Why are you putting THAT into the donate pile? It's not like it has an odor..." I can sort of do what I want with the story which, at this point of the summer, is starting to look better and better.

After a few days of revising the kids' rooms, I've changed my mind that the rooms would be easier to tackle. If you had a choice, which would you prefer to strip down and redo - a room or a manuscript?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Of Bums and Blogs

Many thanks to Tiffany J., who created a website for Light Beneath Ferns. She's a really talented, artistic teen who has much more patience and timeliness than I do - not to mention technical ability. More on Tiffany when she gets her own website up and going (sorry T.J.J. -just a slight push there)

And here's another kitten picture I really like. We should probably stop calling them "the kittens" at this point, since they just turned a year, but they may be stuck with that name in the way BabyCat is now two or three years old and still BabyCat. (She was feral so the shelter couldn't be exactly sure of her age)

I have been a total blog bum, sort of like the kitten picture, and a bum in many other ways for the past couple of weeks. I went down to Long Island for a few days and left Dad in charge of the kids. I left food in the fridge, the kind made with simmering and vegetables and seasonings, but they ordered pizza both nights.

The rest of the time I've been cleaning out a scarily crowded basement, working in the herb garden and figuring out what I want to write/work on next. I haven't been around the Internet at all, but I'm sort of back now in the way anyone can be back on a computer during nice weather.

I have to thank Jemi for the The Versatile Blogger Award which she awarded me back in...maybe June? It's been awhile. In any event, the rules are:

1. Thank the folks and link them
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass along to 15 bloggers
4. Comment on their blogs to tell them of the award

But since it's summer, and half of the bloggers I read regularly are on a temporary hiatus, if you read this blog, consider yourself nominated. That's the great thing about blogs; you can bend the rules into circles. Ok, so seven things about myself:

1. I almost never watch t.v. It makes me a total misfit (that's right, just that, and nothing else) I don't know anything about those sexual selection shows or any of the plots of the medical dramas. It just bores me.

2. When I do watch tv, the kids run from the room because I like to watch weirdomentraries like: The Boy With Three Ears or The Woman With the Ninety Pound Tumor. It's kind of a weapon: "Ew, Mom's watching TV!!!! It's another of those medical nightmares!"

3. I could be a bum. Very easily. I have no work ethic. Maybe that's why I like cats so much. Their occupation is preening between naps. That sounds pretty much ok to me. And a little bit, it describes a fair amount of my adolescence.

4. Speaking of cats, I get really scared when I think about the kids leaving and look around at the amount of books and cats I already have in my middle age. My fear is turning into one of those grotesques in Charles Dickens who lives with too much dust, too many memories and way, way too many cats. I mean, I'm sort of there now...

5. I can't stand writers who take themselves oh so seriously. You know, the kind who meet you and give you an autographed bookmark five seconds after saying their names and launch into a long explanation of their latest plot struggles. They seem so angsty and pained by writing it makes me wonder why they do it at all.

6. When I can't sleep, I look at real estate on the Internet. Not local real estate or anything I could buy. I go on tons of virtual tours. Last night, I was all over Rhode Island.

7. When I write, I have at least two full time stories going. I work on one or the other depending on my mood and my latest ideas. Other writers tell me this is a very, very strange way of getting anything done. So I never tell them that I often choose between three simultaneous stories. There have to be others who write like this.

And that's it, for now. If you've read this, you have my nomination to do one of these. Since mostly writerly types stop by here, I can vouch for their versatility.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Post Graduation

That's Coco, one of the kittens Emma got last year. She's a lot bigger now, but I still think she is one of the world's cutest cat sleepers. Maybe her posture is a metaphor for the end of the school year. Kids seem so exhausted by the end of June.

 Christopher didn't get much of a chance to relax. He graduated and at eight o'clock the morning after his graduation, he began a college summer program. Remember I'm the mom who always told the kids they could sleep over OUR house; I never really let them sleep over or go to camp or do any of that normal stuff. So I just paid the price when I dropped him off.

He made me swear not to cry or embarrass him in any way in front of his new roommates, so I cried before and on the ride and in the parking lot. Then I was cool. Really cool. We organized his room and took a walk around campus and went to the orientation barbeque. Still cool. So what if it felt like someone was ripping my lungs out? I acted like Christopher was going for one of the sleepovers finally at someone else's house.

It was almost time to leave and the counselor suggested I show him the laundry room. I was explaining how to work the machines when he looked at me, then at his I Touch. He had been looking at that device all through the orientation and all through my advice lectures and all through the long, boring introductions to things like the bursar representative and the tutoring center hours. I finally said,  
 "Christopher, you have to pay attention. I'm not driving down here just so you can do wash."

He looked back at his I Touch and said, "I was just thinking how great it would be to have a Mom app on my phone." Okay, so corny. But it did me in. I got to that line, then I started crying. Fast forward: he's doing fine, and he brought home a huge load of dirty laundry. I have him until tomorrow, but I'll be cool when I drop him off this time, Mom apps and all.

And in other good news, one of Philip's friends is in the process of making a website for Light Beneath Ferns. I haven't seen it yet, but I will later on tonight and I'll post a link to it here. They may not want to learn how to do their own laundry, but teenagers come in handy in a lot of other ways.

It's a little harder to get to the computer with everyone home, so I'm a little more behind than usual, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Fourth!