Saturday, August 23, 2008

Give me the Funny Farm!

Please!!! Give me the funny farm! How many of us writers dream about the scenario that Chevy Chase laid out so well in his hilarious movie? Well, at least the successful writer part. That film came on one of the networks the other day and I just had to laugh. Of course, it's the wife who ends up the successful book writer, while dear hubby learns to stick to what he writes best—a sports column. Here I am, hoping to make a smooth transition to a new house in a new state and daydreaming about that fabulous house with the perfect little writing space for me and lots of space outside. Of course mine would include a horse barn and a few acres to ride on. How likely is that? Sadly enough, not very.

But where we are headed offers a lot more of one or the other for our money—land or house. I doubt we can get both. I am hopeful, however that there is at least one extra room for me to claim as my own, after years of having a little station amidst the plastic clutter of my children's playroom. One could argue that being surrounded by toys and kids would be inspirational for a writer of children's books. But an army Fisher Price Little People™ amputees (thanks to Whitman the Wonder Pup), the raging refrain of "Mama, will you play with me?" and the head-banging strains of Guitar Hero™ tend to take the bloom off my literary rose a bit at times.

Give me a room with a row of windows on one wall and a line of bookshelves all around the rest. A door, a real door that I can close! A little shelf for Ruthie. Give me a barn where I can think up the next bestseller while I muck out stalls, saddle up my horse, and run the paces. Ahhh...give me the Funny Farm!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


As Chuck would say..."Rats!" And I couldn't believe it, but that's what my realtor said at 8:30 this morning. Yes, there has been some interest in our house already, (YAY!) but one couple got a little freaked out by "the rat in the basement," as they so coldly put it. Their agent included a smiley in the email to my realtor, but still...

Come on folks! She's adorable! She's in a cage! She has pink litter!

Well, we had another showing tonight and we've decided to throw a blanket over her cage for future showings. Poor disparaged girl. But...they people who came through tonight are interested. No offer yet, but they're thinking. We have another showing tomorrow.

Sorry Ruthie. If it's any consolation, the blanket over your cage was the blankie my grandma made for me 30-some years ago. That's some love!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Experience is What You Get When You Didn't Get What You Wanted" ~ Randy Pausch

...And some of us have a lot more experience than others! An amazing man shared these words of wisdom, as many of you may already know. I never met Randy Pausch, but even from a distance, his spirit has touched me.

Given our recent trials, (BTW—Ghost Hunk is safe and sound in GA, now) these words ring in several truths about my own life. But even more, I look back at my more-than-averagely wretched childhood...and believe me, it was...and I believe I wouldn't be who I am today without all that misery. And could some of that be what drives an artist? I mean we all know the stereotype of the tortured painter or anti-social writer. And does that really mean that we have a better understanding of the universe? The more misery the more enlightenment? I don't know.

When it comes to my own work, my characters could certainly use a lot of "experience" or I'd have some pretty boring books on my hands. We know that problems are really what drives a story. Conflict. Challenges. Especially insurmountable challenges. But also a great depth of emotion and deprivation.

It's good to keep this gem in mind as I construct my next YA...and the rest of my life.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Always a Wrench in the Works—Hrumph!

Literally...Ghost Hunk set out for GA yesterday with a buddy, and they got no farther than VA. The car started overheating. At first they thought it was the luggage rack they had added to the top of this fabulous VW bug (not suited well for towing or car carriers). I'm glad our dear friend Marc is with him on this journey. He called this morning to say it could be the thermostat or the head gasket! Big difference! Why does there always have to be a wrench in the works? There is no cash for this situation. Once again, we'll have to rely on a friend and it's wearing us both down.

This kids are dealing with things all right. Ghost Son is awesome...constantly reminding me that he loves me and that he appreciates how hard I am working. (Give that kid some extra squeezes!) He really had a hard time letting go of Daddy yesterday, but he pulled through. Ghost Daughter exhibits her trepidation differently. She said goodbye as if Ghost Daddy was heading off to the market. But when it came to leaving the house so the realtor could show it or getting her bath later, the little gremlin of grief reared its ornery head. But I was able to help her pull those emotions out and really look at them so she could deal with them a little more effectively.

And this morning, I had two cuddly kids crawl into bed for a good long ghost cuddle. We'll get through this. Another showing scheduled for Thursday...maybe we'll get to GA a little sooner.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Here We Go...!

My heart is in my stomach as I watch Ghost Hunk pack up his clothes and as much of his teaching material as he can fit in his VW Bug (which ain't much, folks!). Ghost Son is really struggling with the whole separation thing. But Daddy has given the man some good jobs to distract him—like helping Mama around the house and keeping things ready for those showings.

Speaking of showings, our house officially went on the market Tuesday afternoon, and we have our first showing tomorrow afternoon. (Whoa, stomach!) I've stripped down the basement so it doesn't look so much like a toy war zone. I still have to touch up paint and scrub down the half bath and clean up the laundry area... My head hurts just thinking about it.

In the meantime, I've status queried my favorite agent possibility. Another reason to hold my breath. I think if I survive the next few months, I can handle almost anything. This kids are going to have a tough time, but I have to say, I am awfully proud of Ghost Daughter. At the dinner table the other night, we were talking about the move and trying to find all the positive stuff. GD wanted to go back to the Waldorf school, but she'll have to start the year at the public school. Bummed at first, she brightly smiled and said, "I'll meet new girls to be my friend in first grade!" And then she thought for a minute and added, "And in Georgia, I'll have a whole bunch of new friends to meet!"

Gotta love that!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

OMG—No Do-Overs? The Woman's Mid-life Crisis

So here we are, in our 40's, getting ready to start over again. How did that happen? We all know the stereotype: Man in mid-life crisis ditches his wife for a 20-something blonde bimbo and trades in his family sedan for a completely impractical, fire-engine red, sporty convertible with a mega-engine that announces his manhood 15 blocks before he arrives. (BTW, Ghost Hunk is no stereotype). But how does it work for a woman? I mean do we really think we are that superior that we don't suffer some kind of break down?

I think I have that one covered. It's not that flimsy sense of lost youth that men love to blame for their asinine behavior. No, it's more than a vague sense of our own mortality. It's that brain-numbing, heart-freezing realization that there are no do-overs. That we can't go back ten years and fix things. Those mistakes we hoped would just wash out with the years suddenly start bashing the back of our brains to a pulp and remind us that we can't do it over. We did that bone-head thing, made those wrong choices, and there is no going back. That's what snatches my breath away the instant I think about it. That's what makes my heart suddenly seem so fragile, like I could drop dead any minute and I didn't do it right. Mortality ain't so vague, afterall.

As a mom, my first thought is, "How do I fix it?!" I count all those times I lost my patience with my kids or failed to hear them or gave the wrong advice and wish I could erase it. It's overpowering, this sense of disappointment, of failure. I can see why prozac is such a hot seller in the over-40 group!

But I have to believe that do-overs are irrelevant, because in the end, it's the sum of our experiences, good and bad, that make us who we are. If I did everything right, my kids would be absolutely irretrievable messes! They would never have learned how to handle pain, how to accept imperfection--in others and in themselves. It would be like the Lotus Eaters--so blissfully ignorant that happiness would have no value.

So while my stomach flips 360 degrees and twists itself into a pile of knots whenever I think, "OMG—No Do-overs?!" I have to remember that I'm learning how to be human every day of my life (all the way to the end of it). And I'm teaching my kids how to be human, too.

Perhaps it's not a crisis...but a breakthrough.