What I Read: March

The list for March is fairly short because I’ve been writing.  Wanna see?

lastgirlpart2This is part two of my soon-to-be released book “The Last Girl”.  I’ve been diligently trying to get it organized (it’s told in non-linear sequence) and edited so it will hopefully be available for public consumption in time for summer. I’m venturing into dystopian territory and I’m really nervous about how it will be received.  Kind thoughts and good vibes are welcomed at this point.

But don’t worry, I still read a handful of books, so let’s get to it…

“Naked Picture of Famous People” by Jon Stewart

If you haven’t read Stewart’s collection of essays, you should.  Just because it’s funny.  Like pain in the side, make it stop I’m gonna pee myself funny.  I decided I would read one essay a night before bed.  The first night I read about a Jewish kid’s weekend at Hyannisport with a young JFK and couldn’t stop giggling.  Even long after the better half had shut off the lights.  I decided I should probably save it for another time of day since Joe probably wasn’t too thrilled with my bursts of laughter throughout the night.  (One of the dangers of sleeping next to an insomniac – when they are lying awake and remember something hilarious, their giggling may wake you.)  I’m sure Joe was happy that I hadn’t read the piece documenting Vincent Van Gogh’s foray into AOL chatrooms.  I had tears flowing during that one.  And yes, it has been out a very long time, so some of it may feel dated, but it’s still good for a laugh.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The tale is much different from his classic “Remains of the Day”, but it’s just as beautifully written.  It’s one of those stories that doesn’t fit well into a genre at all.  It’s coming of age, Brit-lit with a sci-fi leaning.  Yes, it sounds strange, but it’s really quite lovely and dark. (Yes, to me a well-written dark book is far more entertaining than happy books.  I’m just weird like that.)  If you’re going into it expecting groundbreaking sci-fi, you may be disappointed as it’s more “fi” than “sci”.  So, willingly suspend your disbelief for this one.

I’ve not seen the movie, so I don’t know how it stacks up – in case you were wondering.

Never Let Me Go

Joe Jones by Anne Lamott

Lamott (an author I absolutely adore) calls this book her “sloppiest”.  I can understand.  The structure, dialogue and character’s actions were just… odd.  Still, I managed to get involved in it and while it’s certainly not my favorite book I’ve read, I enjoyed her descriptions of setting and character.  For my writer friends, her book “Bird by Bird” is a must-read.

Last (and definitely least)…

Persona by Amy Lunderman

I’ve made it a point not to write negative reviews.  I know what goes into writing a book, even a not-very-good one, so I don’t like to take away from what the author has done.  But I couldn’t even finish this one (which says a lot, considering some of the clunkers I’ve read in my life).  The book has a fine-enough premise which is one of the reasons I downloaded it.  It was listed as dystopian, which really piqued my interest.  The fact that the author forgot to capitalize her last name on the listing should’ve been a red flag. The grammar throughout the prologue and first chapter made me want to weep.  There were sentences I had to read and re-read several times in order to figure out what the author was trying to say.  In reading the reviews, several reviewers commented on the poor grammar and how it made the book unreadable.  Several apologists (I assume the author’s friends/family) came along and said basically, if someone loves to write then the grammar shouldn’t matter.  I say, “A big, hearty F-YOU to all of them.”  If someone loves writing, their first priority should be learning the language they are writing in.  A painter doesn’t go to paint a masterpiece without understanding how oils differ from acrylics or what brushes work best for what techniques.  They learn their craft and spend time honing it.  The language an author writes in is his/her medium and he/she should learn the ins and outs of it.

Or at least have the common decency to hire a fracking editor.

I love books, I love language, I love being surrounded by words.  I have spent my entire life on a journey to fill my head with as much information about language as possible.  Linguistics classes, literature studies, research, and reading.  It’s a never-ending quest for me.  When someone calls his/herself a writer, but has no respect for the language of their craft, it is an offense to those of us that do.  This book and others like it are the reason why so many self-published authors are not taken seriously.

So, here’s to April and a month of good books!

I won at Car Line this morning

What?  You didn’t know Car Line was a game?  Well, it is.  Mainly because I’m a nerd-girl living with two hard-core gamers.  And I won this morning.

We started our quest to deliver a sleepy-eyed Peeshwank to his blustery prison sentence (it’s in the 20s today with a 10-degree wind chill, because: Spring in Arkansas, yo).  We turned the corner to see a line of campers all the way from one end of the school property to the other.  After discussing our strategy, we made our way to the front of the line.  Even though The Peeshwank had lots of loot to carry (60lb backpack, lunchbox, OM supplies, and his bass) we decided to show these n00bs how it was done.

We quickly realized we had apparently leveled up over Spring Break and were approaching an epic boss battle.  This boss: icy school driveway.

The boss had victimized not one but two vehicles ahead of ours – both of the players had apparently spent all their XP to upgrade their chariots: 4WD monster SUVs, tires bigger than The Peeshwank, NRA life memberships, etc.  Their giant wheels were spinning in place though.  The boss had disabled their special abilities.

The Peeshwank looked at me, a fearful look in his eyes, as I yelled “LEEROY JENKINSSSSSS” and easily delivered him over the ice and to the front door.

He threw me a fist bump as he exited our little mid-size sedan and I could hear his cry of “GET PWNED N00BS!” as I pulled away.

That’s how you win Car Line, y’all.

Hummer on Ice

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

You know, sometimes you have these great intentions – you lie awake at night and say, “Tomorrow I’m going to challenge myself.  I’m going to do something that scares me.”  Then you wake up the next day and once the coffee starts flowing, it’s back to the same routine?  Just me?

Last week I did one of those things.  It was scary as hell, but I did it nonetheless.

In early February an acquaintance of mine put out the call for submissions for a show featuring live readings about motherhood.  Last year I envied the women involved for having the guts to get up and share their stories about motherhood to a sold-out theater.

I spent twenty-four hours pumping myself up.  I had a piece ready to go.  It had already been signed off by my partners-in-crime/rocks-that-I-lean-on, Tina and Pam.  They gave me pointers and told me I’d be fabulous.

I submitted.

Three weeks later, I was asked to attend the live auditions.  Those happened Saturday.

I got up a little early to make sure I had time to apply make-up and dry my hair (read the previous blog post for more on that ordeal).  I picked out a cute dress, realized that I didn’t have a perfect pair of shoes other than flip-flops to go with it, and quickly changed into my “safe” outfit – black sweater, black pinstripe pants, a pair of my favorite heels.

The trip down to the auditions was riddled with traffic and I showed up only minutes before my scheduled time.  A fellow author friend (Hi, Phyl!) was waiting for me to give me hugs and encouragement.  We chatted a bit and then I trekked up the stairs.

The ladies casting the show welcomed me and I took a seat, thinking, “no big deal.  I’ll just read and be done.”  But the second I started to read, my anxiety issues took the driver’s seat and for the first few paragraphs I could basically hear my voice quavering and see my hands shaking and I was powerless to do anything about it.  I was knee-deep in the middle of a panic attack.  I stopped, took a deep breath and apologized.  The ladies were understanding about my pause and I went on.  The voice shaking slowly subsided and by the second page of my story, I felt I had it under control.

I got some polite laughs from my small audience and made it through the piece without crying, passing out, or vomiting so I’m calling it a win.  As soon as I was done, I was able to chat perfectly fine, like the panic attack never happened.  I’ll never understand this body of mine.  Seriously.  I can sing to a packed bar, tap dance to a full theater, jump onstage and dance with Sir Mixalot while my roommate ceremoniously slaps his ass as he charms the concert goers with his tales of big butts, and coach a gaggle of OMers through spontaneous practice.  But sitting and reading to three people = panic attack.

So, here’s to trying something new!  Yes, it can be scary, and like me you may be turned down when it’s all said and done, but challenging yourself is rarely a walk in the proverbial park.

Now, I’m off to take The Peeshwank to yet another in a long line of auditions that he will breeze right through.  Clearly the “audition with the greatest of ease” gene skips a generation in this family.

Next time, I'll just take a flask with me.

Next time, I’ll just take a flask with me.

Yes, the Sir Mixalot thing actually happened.  And it was just as awesome as it sounds.

Top 5: Signs Your Hair is Too Long

I decided awhile back to grow my hair to donate to Locks of Love or some other similar wigs-for-cancer-patients charity.  My hair grows really fast, so I figured I’d let it grow a little while, cut it, and smile in the fact that I’ve done something nice for someone else.

But right when I was ready to get back to my normal just-under-the-chin length, the better half let me know that he really liked it long.  So I decided to continue growing it, that way when I cut the requisite 12″ off to donate, I would still have enough length to keep him happy.

I realized this weekend just how far I’ve let it go…

So, here are some signs you need to pick up the phone and make an emergency call to your stylist:

5. You have to pin it up to go to the bathroom.  (Sitting down on the ends is one thing. Sitting down on them on the potty… EWWW!  Disclaimer: This has NOT happened to me personally.  Swear.)

4. It gets caught in your waist band when getting dressed.  (I wore a tie-back dress the other day and damn-near gave myself whiplash when I bent down to put on my shoes.)

3. Your shampoo budget rivals the car payment.  (The better half figured out that I had been dipping into his shampoo stash.  It’s hard to sneak increased hair product usage past someone who has very little hair to speak of.)

2. You’d put your hair in a cute sock bun, but when you pull it straight up, you can’t reach the ends.  (Two words: arm cramps.)

and…

1. The last time you saw your stylist was right before she went on maternity leave.  Her “baby” is now two.  (Actually she’s almost 2 and 1/2, but who’s counting?)

I think the better half will be okay with my decision to go back to my usual short length.  I suspect he’s tired of getting slapped in the face with half-wet hair every time I toss and turn at night.  I’m sure the fact that I start singing “I whip my hair back and forth” whenever it happens doesn’t help matters either.

Chewbacca

Hi, I’m here for my 1:30 shampoo, cut and style.

I Whip My Hair Back and Forth (the best version)

Red Carpet Decisions: A Conversation With Myself about Dresses and Such

Y’all are aware by now that I’m a total fashion nut.  (Click here if you don’t believe me.) Well, this weekend is the big one.  NY Fashion Week is but a faint memory and the Fairy Godmother of Red Carpets is a mere 3 days, 23 hours, 28 minutes, and 57 seconds away.  It’s time to make a decision regarding which dress will appear on yours truly when I walk down the carpet on my way to my Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  (It’s my 5th nomination and 4th win… like anyone was going to beat “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” that year.)

And so the bickering with myself begins over which dresses best suit me and which ones are not likely to be stolen by the likes of Buffy.  I have to take into account the better half’s stipulations which are:

1) Cleavage.

and

2) “Whatever you’re comfortable in, sweetie, as long as there is cleavage involved.” (He boldly pronounced Katy Perry the best dressed at the Grammy’s.  My rap album wasn’t nominated this year, so we decided to skip the ceremony or else he would’ve been contractually obligated to declare me the best dressed.)

Without further ado, here we go:

I first saw this little number by Diane von Furstenberg.  I love the color.  It meets the cleavage requirement.  It seems a little plain though.  I mean, I’m the gal who can be counted on to BRING THE DRAMA to the carpet, right?

13oscarsMoving right along to this stunner by Monique Lhullier.  I love the ombre which is really en vogue right now.  I refuse to do it to my hair, because that just looks ridiculous and people need to stop it, but on a dress?  Yep.  I like it.  It still seems a little on the safe side though…

13oscars3

Oh, Carolina Herrera, you little devil you.  Tempting me with that fabulous collar.  The better half would never approve and the satiny silk would look ATROCIOUS on my body, but THAT COLLAR!

13oscars2And now for some Scarlett O’Hara realness.  Ulyana Sergeenko, you are my people.  When Seacrest asks me about my dress, I’ll just smile and shyly say, “I saw it in the window and just couldn’t resist.”  Joe will have to wear his Rhett Butler finery which I’m A-okay with.

13oscars5

But, wait.  What’s that, Vivienne Tam?  You want me to look at your Fall 2013 line?  Okay, I’ll give it a looksy.  Ooh…

Y’all, I think this is the winner.  Graffiti.  That’s what the Oscars have been missing.  I’m sure Viv could do a slight adjustment on the neckline to fit within the better half’s guidelines, right?  I mean, come on.  Graffiti.  On the Oscars Red Carpet.  If not me, then who?  If not now, then when?

13oscars6

JLaw, hands off.  I called dibs.

Tadashi Shoji has already provided me with my after-party dress.

13oscars4And yes, I will be wearing it with lining.  I don’t plan on drinking THAT much champagne…

But graffiti.  Y’all.  Seriously.

The Boys and Their New Computers: A Conversation

My dudes got new computers this week.  They’re big and shiny and allow them to game at optimum efficiency.  The Peeshwank immediately started live-streaming on Black Ops 2 to a global audience, because apparently playing a video game just isn’t enough and there are evidently poor saps who get their thrills by watching other people game.  Yeah, it makes no sense to me either.

During his most recent live-stream, The Peeshwank was fighting zombies with some of his new little undead-eradicating friends.  He was yelling such things as “Come at me, bro” and “LEEROOOOOOOY JENKINS!” as he and his buddies were high-fiving one another over something that was apparently quite legit and Joe pipes in from his own gaming adventures:

“He’s got 99 problems, but a zombie ain’t one.”

I suspect I’m going to have to move my writing studio out of our library/office if I ever want to get work done again.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 wallpaper 6

This is about what The Peeshwank’s room looks like right now…

Fun with Homonyms: Vow and Vowel

Back by popular demand!

These aren’t even homonyms, but lately I’ve seen a string of newly engaged ladies misusing them, so apparently some clarification is needed…

When you say, “I can’t wait to say my wedding vowels…”

All I think is, “Yeah, because a wedding without vowels is just a wddng.”

Come on, ladies, we can do better than this.

the_more_you_know

My Geriatric Peeshwank

The other night something brought up the topic of pipes – I think it was some commercial for the local pipe shop.  You know the one that features some guy doing his best Cheech and Chong impersonation?  Peeshwank just rolled his eyes and said “Dude, we know you’re a pothead.”  I told him not to judge, because the shop possibly sold regular tobacco pipes too.

Peeshwank: You mean like the pipes old men smoke?

Me: Yeah.  Those are pretty popular with a certain crowd.

Peeshwank: They’re so cool looking.  I can’t wait to be an old man. I’m going to have an old-man-pipe and sit in my rocking chair on the porch in my red robe and my fuzzy slippers.  It’s going to be awesome.

I thought about The Peeshwank’s closet and the things he covets most in the world.

His assortment of bow ties and suspenders.  His collection of canes.  (Seriously, everywhere we go, “I wonder if they have a souvenir cane here?”)  His love of seersucker suits.  His disdain for all those “newfangled” cartoons that make no sense.  That damned robe he wears All.The.Time.

The Robe of Doom.  It's grown into its own lifeform.

The Robe.

There’s always “a nip in the air” and the desire to have a cat in his lap while he lounges.  He rolls his eyes when children get to screaming and yelling and acting like a bunch of… well… children.  He can yell, “Get off my lawn!” with the best of them.  He’s crotchety and persnickety in the morning, up until he has that first muffin.  He bakes bread and relishes in a nice bowl of soup by the fireplace.

When someone passes us at a high speed in a parking lot, he shakes his fist and yells, “Slow down!  It’s a parking lot not a racetrack, you heathen!”

He’s been known to say, “I just don’t understand kids these days” on many occasions.  I’ve heard him tell friends, “It’ll make sense when you’re older.”

He’s an 87-year-old man in a 12-year-old’s body.

Recently, he had a pain in his leg after a cross country meet.  One doctor told us he just pulled/tore some muscles and to walk on crutches for awhile.  When the pain still hadn’t gone completely away after two months of crutches, another doctor sent us to an orthopedic specialist.  More x-rays were done and it was discovered that The Peeshwank had a small fracture in his hip that was almost completely healed.

A broken hip.

Congratulations, Peeshwank.  You’ve officially earned your Old Man card.

IMG_2965 copy

What kinda hooligans would graffiti this wall? Hmmph. Kids. *grumble grumble*

What I Read: January

To be a good writer, you have to read.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life and I love recommending books to friends, family, and total strangers on the street.  I decided to use this platform to let you guys know about books I’ve discovered along the way.

This past month’s reading list is as follows:

Joe recommended these to me since we are currently writing a sci-fi YA series together that kind of follows this same theme.  The books are a lot of fun.  Lots of exploration of other worlds that are completely different from any planets I’ve read about before.  They are a little dated because they were written in the 80s before “cell phone” and “internet” were part of the everyday vernacular.

I really wasn’t prepared for the depths this book goes to.  I can’t say too much without giving it away.  If you’ve steered clear of it because the movie promo made it look like a light-hearted romp, you may want to rethink it.  It’s way darker than I imagined and a lot more grown-up than most novels set in high school.

Speaking of dark.  This book is full of serious cray-cray.  It’s another one that I can’t say too much about without giving any of it away.  Just know that it’s an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller and I loved it.  Go read it.

David Wong has a sense of humor I can totally get behind.  He’s irreverant and intelligent and foul-mouthed and grotesque.  Monsters and demons and Molly, the wonder dog.  Both books are a fun read for anyone who is a fan of the horror genre.  “Spiders” was my favorite, though, as far as plotline goes.  “John Dies” is all over the place, but it wouldn’t work any other way.

spiders

This is the sequel to Hall’s “The Line” about a dystopian future.  This is a nice follow-up to the first book.  They are short, easy YA reads if you have younger readers in your house that are looking for something exciting, but still age appropriate.  The main character, Rachel, is a tough, brave character in the same vein as Katniss Everdeen.

My favorite genre of fiction is dystopian.  Some of my favorite novels of all time are A Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, Brave New World, well, you get the idea.  This one now ranks right up there with them.  It’s positively brilliant and something I believe, along with A Handmaid’s Tale, should be read by every woman.

What can I say?  It’s Neil Gaiman, for crying out loud.  The man’s a genius.  It’s a scary, strange road trip that introduces us to the human forms of many different forgotten and not-so-forgotten gods.  It’s a study of the human spirit, mythology, and why America is “a bad place for gods”.  Very entertaining.

Take the movie The Prestige and mix it with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and you may have scratched the surface of this tale of rival magicians set against a backdrop of a mysterious circus.  It’s beautiful and enchanting and… well… magical.  One of the most inventive books I’ve read in a very long time.  Along with When She Woke, it’s going in my top 25 of all time.

It feels like I’m forgetting one or two.  If so, I’ll add them to the February list.

Happy reading, friends!

And if you haven’t yet, you definitely wanna check these out.  Wink, wink.

Getting Ready for the Globes

The Golden Globes red carpet starts in a few short hours and I’ve finally decided on my dress.  Hopefully Buffy won’t pull another stunt like last year.  But just in case, I wanted to show y’all the dress my stylist and I decided on for tonight’s festivities.  If anyone else shows up in it, you saw it here first.  You hear that, Anne Hathaway?

Y'all know I love a print on the red carpet.

Y’all know I love a print on the red carpet.

My acceptance speech is still pretty much the same as last year.  I’ve been too busy writing new novels to revamp it.  Mea culpa.  I’ll do better next year.