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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Have I Been Doing This Too Long?

This will be brief, since I am due to meet the kindergartners for yet another field trip in a few minutes.

But speaking of my kindergartner... yesterday I took him to the pediatrician. Nothing serious, but we all had a nasty head/chest bug a couple of weeks back and he's still been pretty irritable and complaining of a headache. Since my version of this bug--naturally--went into a sinus infection, I wanted to be sure it hadn't done the same with him.

The waiting room was full enough when we got there that I could tell the doctor was running behind. Sure enough, more than half an hour ticked by and still we waited. My son was getting wiggly and restless and I was wishing we'd had time for lunch before this appointment, because my stomach was threatening to make embarrassing sounds. I sat near a window, restlessly flipping through a magazine; my son knelt in the chair beside me, staring out into the parking lot at the people and cars going by.

"Mama?" he said. "What's F-O-R-D spell?"

"Ford," I said. "It's a car manufacturer." (Yes, the next question was "what's man-fax-shurrr?" but we'll skip that part.)

Next it was "Mama? What's D-O-D-G-E spell?"

I answered him in that distracted mom voice we all use.

Then it was "What's B-M-W spell?"

Again, I explained.

Finally he said "What's G-M-C?"

Still only half paying attention I replied "Goal, motivation and conflict."

"Huh? What's that?"

Then I realized what I'd said. Hmm... do you think maybe I've been doing this writing thing just a little too long? LOL.

Off to meet the kindergartners at the local garden center and learn how plants grow ...Hope it's warm and sunny where you are!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why I Hate Spring

Admitting that around here—especially after the winter we’ve had—could be dangerous. But with the first taste of spring-like temperatures this past week, I’ve been reminded once again why I hate this time of year.

It’s not that I enjoy those long, cold winter nights. But I like the way our winter schedule works. Dinner at 5:30, followed by homework and baths for the kids, then some quiet time either watching TV or reading with the kids. Nice. Simple. Relaxed.

Here is our spring schedule. Boys head outside with dad when he gets home. Around quarter of six I start calling out reminders that dinner is in 15 minutes, and tell them to put the toys away, come in and wash up. No response. Even the dog ignores me, and “dinner” is his favorite word!

By five of six, I’m getting angry and frustrated. Everyone knows dinner is at six in this house-I run a tight ship! I start making threats. I’m still being ignored. My husband is as bad as the boys, because of course, in spring the not-so-young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of… his convertible. The hood is open and only half his body is visible as he tinkers with the love of his life, preparing to get “her” on the road soon.

Boys continue to ignore my calls until I start the major threats, taking away game and television privileges, play time, having friends over, breathing, etc.

By 6:20, dinner is either cold or overcooked and this is when my family begins trooping back in. Since my backyard is an unrecognizable swamp territory after the melting snow and spring rains, there are eight muddy feet plodding through my doors. Four that belong to children, and four furry ones. At least the dog knows enough to stop in the doorway and let me wipe his paws.

My boys leave a trail of wet, muddy feet , socks and shoes --because boys cannot resist the lure of mud. Sliding in it. Rolling in it. Throwing it at one another. Reveling in it. You get the picture. I take one look at them and realize that hand washing isn’t even going to come close.

Take those muddy clothes off and get in the shower, I bark (thank Heaven for downstairs bathrooms.) Now I wrestle them, one at a time, into the shower and have to stand watch. There is an unspoken rule with my boys that when you get into the shower, you don’t wash—not so much as a toe—until the hot water is depleted. You dance, you play, you splash, you sing, you make up silly songs about your penis. This is why Mom has to stand there like a drill sergeant, squeezing huge dollops of shampoo on heads, ignoring the screams of “it’s getting in my eyes!” and “not so hard!” when I slap the wet washcloth on them and start scrubbing.

I shoo one out with strict orders not to run around wet and dripping, but to go directly upstairs, dry off and put on clean clothes (it’s important—really important—to specify clean clothes). I begin the torturous process with the second boy, thanking God once more for contraceptives and the fact that by the time my second one came along I was too darned old and too darned tired to try for boy #3. (And yes, since I have four nephews and two boys of my own, there is no doubt. It would have been a boy.)

Once the second son is out of the shower and issued the same strict orders, (after shooing son #1 off the couch, where he has been sitting in his wet towel watching TV) I am drenched, dinner is forgotten and my mood is … well, let’s just say there’s smoke pouring from my nostrils and flames shooting from my eye sockets. I’m tired and frustrated and long past hungry. It’s now close to seven o’clock and I’ll be lucky if the kids are in bed by nine. There is no hot water left, so my winter time nightly ritual of a long, hot soak in the bath will either have to be forgotten for tonight or I’ll have to suffice for a very fast, very tepid shower.

This is when my husband, who has been outside putting away bikes, scooters and skateboards, and lovingly studying his emerging lawn, blissfully unaware of the events unfolding indoors, has the nerve to walk inside and ask “what happened here?”

I really hate spring.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Long time no talk!

Thirty days has September, April, June and November; all the rest have thirty-one ……. Except for February, which has three hundred and twelve!

Okay, so I made up that last part. *G* I don’t know if it was the extra cold temperatures, or the head and chest colds my kids have brought home one on top of the other (including a bout with strep) but February was a looooong month.

Wish I could say it was a productive one!

So what have I been doing with myself? Ingesting copious amounts of Vitamin C, for one. Not that it helps. *G* Sooner or later I forget to take the supplements or run out of OJ and the next thing I know… I've got what they’ve got. Sometimes I think it would just be easier to not take the Vitamin C, get the cold and have it over with. *G*

But I digress. Today's’ post is really about music. The way it affects the muse (I’m sure there’s some correlation there between those two words, but am much too lazy to go look it up.) Anyway, I know of many writers who have specific music on as they write—music that helps them relate to the scene they’re writing. I’m not one of those writers. I’m one of those poor unfortunate souls whose brain would go haywire if I did this—the words in the songs would mingle with the words in my head and create … mass confusion. (My husband would tell you that I cannot chew gum and drive at the same time either. Sigh. Sadly, he's right. LOL) Just don't tell him I said so!)

I listen to a lot of classical music when I’m writing. Not because I’m a snob, but because there are no words, LOL. However, when I’m not writing, I listen to music that reminds me of my characters or their dilemma, and that helps me brainstorm ideas for scenes. Also, since I tend to be a “talking heads” gal in that first draft—with lots of dialogue and no real physical actions between my characters, the music helps me tap into emotions. But I learned recently that music has been playing a role in shaping my writing for a long, long time.

Let me explain. Four houses down from the house I grew up in, lived two little girls the same age as my sister and I. The older sister was a year older than my sister, the younger one a year younger than me. (They also had a brother, LOL, but we didn’t play with him much.) Anyway, our parents came to be good friends and many weekends were spent at one or anothers’ houses as our parents played cards and had a few beers and hung out. We had a lot of games we liked to play, and I won’t bore you with what they all were, LOL. But one of our favorites, particularly when it was too cold or too wet to play outside, was to dress up and put on a variety show, like Carol Burnett or Bing Crosby or Tony Orlando did waaaay back then. Their mom didn’t mind if we wore her high heels and pretty dresses. We’d put on our favorite records and each give a performance for our imaginary audience. Along with singing and performing was dancing.

There were two records in particular that I liked to play over and over. One was by The Four Seasons, the other by the New Christy Minstrels.

I’ll get to those Jersey Boys in a minute, but last summer, I happened to find a New Christy Minstrels CD and lo and behold, the list of songs was very familiar. I popped it in as soon as I got into my car. What was a amazing to me was how the “cowboy” songs like “ride, ride, ride” and “rovin’ rambler” put the same images of men riding the hot, dusty trail in my mind that it had back then. In those moments of re-living my childhood I realize just how profoundly that music had affected me all those years ago. Could this be where my love of cowboys and the old west came from?

Onto the Four Seasons. One of the ties that bind my best bud and long-time CP Kat and I together is a love for the music of The Four Seasons (and yes, Sherry was my favorite song to dress up --red dress, of course--and dance to back in the variety show days, even if I had no idea what a twist party was. )

So when we heard Jersey Boys was coming to town this winter, we knew we had to go. Together. My husband would not enjoy it, and neither would Kat’s. But such a luxury isn't in this SAH mom's budget. I was deeply touched when Kat received tickets to the show for Christmas and asked me to be her date. *G*

Well, we had a blast. I was so excited I almost didn’t mind the large head directly in my line of vision, who seemed to tip her head to the left just as I tipped mine to the right—and then back again. But my toes are still tapping and my kids are already complaining about me playing my Four Seasons CD’s over and over. LOL.

And as for how their music has affected my writing, I listened to them a lot while writing The Model Man. (Not actively writing, of course, but while doing other things and thinking about writing.) Somehow, it helped me dig for those emotions my editor wanted to see. *G* Guess it worked.

Does music play a role in your writing? If so, in what way?

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite moments from the show.

The Struggle is Real Week 8: When Life Hits Back

  It’s been nearly two weeks since my last post. Did anyone notice I was missing?   But I have good news/bad news.   The good news. I wr...