Insane Dinner Conversations

At dinner tonight we were discussing important matters.  By “important matters” I mean completely random exchanges that make sense only to us.

Me: I went to JJ’s for lunch today.

Joe: JJ Abrams?

The Peeshwank: I was thinking Abrams too!!!

Me: Really?  YOU were thinking JJ Abrams.  Tell me, what show did he write?

P: STEVEN SPIELBERG!  I mean, Fringe.  I don’t know why I said Steven Spielberg.

Joe: Steven Spielberg is a play???

Me: Ooh!  Spielberg: The Musical.  I’m writing it.  Let’s see, there could be a song about ET… then a song about…

P: No!  Even better… Michael Bay: The Musical!

Me: Oh my Buddha, yes!

P: (singing) An explosion here, an explosion there!  (jazz hands)

Me: (singing along) I like to blow shit up!
Hey, hey, hey!
I’m Michael BAAAAAAYYYY!  (jazz hands)

Joe: (leaves the table)

That, my friends is how award-winning theater comes to life.

Explosion on Stage

The Act 1 Finale from “Michael Bay: The Musical”

The 30-Day Ab Challenge: A Fat Girl’s Descent into Madness

While finishing up the final edits of “The Last Girl”, I also decided to do what I could to try to slim down a bit.  You know, for bikini season.  (For those of you who know me personally, I’ll wait while you finish laughing at that visual.)
I started drinking that Plexus Slim that you see people shilling all over social media.  I was skeptical, but lo and behold, I’m down between 60 and 70 pounds right now (depending upon what day of the week it is).  I didn’t add any exercise regimen, just my usual chasing after The Peeshwank and going up and down stairs at various and sundry theatrical productions.

So when a friend posted info about the 30-Day Ab Challenge for the month of June, I thought, “Hey, I can do that.”
30day Ab challengeHere’s my day-by-day feedback…

Day 1: (15 sit-ups, 5 crunches, 5 leg lifts, 10 second plank)
Okay these sit-ups hurt a bit. 10 seconds of planking?  I can do that.  [8 seconds later] OH MY GOD HOW LONG ARE THESE LAST TWO SECONDS!?!

Day 2: (20/8/8/12)
I can do this. It’s only a few more reps than yesterday.  OH MY GOD MY TAILBONE! WHAT THE HELL?

Day 3: (25/10/10/15)
A pillow!  I’ll put a pillow under my tailbone for my sit-ups.  OH MY GOD, IS THIS PILLOW BROKEN? WHY DOES MY TAILBONE STILL HURT WHEN I SIT UP?

Day 4: (rest day)
Oh, sweet Mother of all that is right and good in the world.  A rest day!  This is amazing!

Day 5: (30/12/12/20)
Hey, these sit ups aren’t as bad as I remember.  Time for leg lifts… OH MY GOD! OUCH!

Day 6: (35/15/15/25)
I am ROCKING these sit ups!  WOOHOO!!
“Hey, P, count my seconds for my plank for me, okay?  25 seconds.”
“Okay… 1…..

“Oh my god, are you trying to kill me?”
“You know, if you want abs, you should just do planks all the time.”
“If I had the ability to do planks all the time, I’d HAVE abs.”
“Whatever, mom, they’re not that hard.”
“Just keep counting.  How many seconds am I at?”


“You’re a horrible little person.”
“But I’m a good counter.”

Day 7: (40/20/20/30)
“40 sit ups? Who do they think I am, Wonder Woman?”
40 sit ups later.  “I AM WONDER WOMAN!”

Day 8: (rest day)
“Oh my god, why did I drink scotch last night?  Oh well, let’s get this over with.”
Put on workout clothes.

Day 9: (45/30/30/35)
Ugh.  Just keep on keeping on.  Look at the skinny girl in the picture.  You wanna look like her, right?  You know what, screw her.  She’s probably never stepped foot in a bookstore.

Day 10: (50/50/30/38)
Can’t.Do.It. 45 is my limit.

Day 10.2: (50/50/30/38)
I will make this day my bitch!

Day 11: (55/65/35/42)
P: Hey mom, 42!  The meaning of life!  This day is gonna be awesome!
Me: The meaning of death, you mean.  Jesus, how long is 42 seconds?!?!

Day 12: (rest day)
Oh, thank you Jesus.

Day 13: (60/75/40/50)
This. Sucks.

Day 14: (65/85/42/55)
While doing the 55 second plank:
Sweet Buddha, what hell hath I wrought in a past life to deserve this?

Day 15: (70/90/42/60)
I made it to 55 sit-ups and moved on.  I thought I would come back to them after I finished the 90 crunches (ouch), 42 leg lift (eh, not too bad), and 60 second plank (Okay, I admit it was only a 35 second plank).  I ended up opting for cappuccino instead.

Day 16: Oh sweet rest day, where have you been all my life?

Day 17: (75/100/45/65)
I did it.  It was not pretty.  There may or may not have been groaning.
Joe: There’s fuzz on your pants.
Me: There’s probably a lot of things on my pants.  I seriously need to vacuum.
Joe: Is this an unintended side-effect of the ab challenge?  More vacuuming.
Y’all.  I did a 100 crunches.  100.  Like triple digits.  WTF?  Who am I?

Day 18: (80/110/48/70/19)
80 sit ups, 110 crunches, 48 leg lifts, 70 second plank, and 19 “f*** you’s”.

Day 19: (85/120/50/75)
Oh, what fresh hell is this?

Day 20: (rest day)
The sun is shining, the birds are chirping. It’s such a beautiful day.  I hope it never ends.  No seriously.  Please, never end.

Day 21: (90/130/52/80)
There is a clump of hair on the carpet in the living room where I engage in my daily masochism.  My body has now staged a full-on revolt against the ab challenge.

Day 22: (95/140/55/85)
I was seeing stars at the end of the 85-second plank.  Isn’t that like a sign of head trauma, y’all.  This challenge means business.  Clearly.

Day 23: (rest day)
Wait, whaddya mean it’s not a rest day?  I thought it was a rest day.  Surely, it’s a rest day.  I mean, I’m all showered and dressed and everything.  It’s a rest day, right?

Day 24: (was a rest day, but isn’t anymore because I’m an idiot, so now it’s the first in a very long 4-day stretch. (100/150/58/90))

Day 24: redux (100/150/58/90)
Sweet lord.

Day 25: (105/160/60/95)
I started hallucinating around 80 sit-ups in.  The faces of Ren, Stimpy and Elvis stared down at me from the popcorn ceiling. By the 150th crunch I was asking them if they’d heard the good news that the Flying Spaghetti Monster had brought us.
Joe came into the living room to ask if I was all right.  The next thing I remember, I was in the shower.  I don’t know how I got there.  There are only 5 days left of the challenge and I’m starting to fear that I may not make it out alive.

Day 26: (110/170/60/100)
Gah… gah… gah…

Day 27: (115/180/62/110)
What hell hath I wrought upon my body…

Day 28: (rest day)

Day 29: (120/190/62/115)

Day 30: (125/200/65/120)

My abs still look like crap.


The Science Fair: Dante’s 5th Concentric Circle of Hell

It’s science fair season and I’ve never been more appreciative of my parents as I am at this very moment.  I had no idea.  I really didn’t.  I’m so sorry, Mom and Dad, for all the science fairs, dioramas, posters, projects and reports throughout the entirety of my education.  I have no idea how you survived without ever turning to the bottle.  For that alone you deserve sainthood.

The Peeshwank undertook his first big science project this year.  The prep began back in October.  He worked diligently in his “data journal”, collecting… well… data.  He had a plan and was following it fairly carefully.  He chose a fairly easy experiment because he knew he had some acting projects coming up as well as Odyssey of the Mind.  I admired the forethought he put into it and remember thinking, “My boy is growing up to be such a responsible young person.  This makes me so happy.”

We did the actual experiments over our extended Christmas break and once again I was ecstatic that the boy had chosen not to wait until the last minute to do it.  He had been turning in his data journal each week and so far had 100s at every checkpoint along the way.

Then it was time to make the display board for the big day.

My thought: glue a bunch of pictures from the experiment and some shiny letters at the top and call it good.

Teacher’s thought: a THIRTY THREE PAGE powerpoint explanation of what should and shouldn’t go on the board.


We had two days to get it done.  Keep in mind he had school all day, OM practice until 5:00, then Les Miserables rehearsal immediately after that until bedtime.  The Peeshwank spent his downtime at Les Mis rehearsal typing up the info that needed to go on the board.  The next day I did that thing that I hate to do.  I helped him by formatting it all so it would look nice on the board.  No problem.  The printer would give me fits throughout the day, so that made it a longer process than I had hoped.

I was The Peeshwank’s hero that night.

He quickly assembled the board and it looked great.

Then the next morning happened.

P: Where’s my data journal?

Me: What do you mean?

P: I can’t find it.  I have to have it.  All of this is due today!

[panic is evident in the boy’s voice]

Me: Where did you have it last?

P: In my backpack.

Me: Then it’s in your back pack.

P: It’s not.  I checked like a thousand times.

Me: Check your room?  The car? 

[this goes on for several seconds]

Me: Well, we have to go.

In the car there the discussion continued.  We discussed being responsible and the fact that I couldn’t bail him out on this one and that it fell on him.

P: I’m going to fail.  It’s worth 100 points of the grade.

Me: Well, you turned it in on the 15th for a checkpoint.  Your teacher probably still has it.

He insisted she returned them and that he had it in his backpack.  His freakout level reached Defcon 1.

Me: Look.  You don’t have rehearsal tonight.  If you can’t find it at school, we’ll make another one tonight and you can just take a late penalty on it or something, k?

He livened up a bit and went to school just slightly less freaked out.

I got home and Joe and I tore the entire house apart looking for the DDJ (damned data journal).  We moved furniture.  We checked the freezer (Pooh bear was once found there when The Peeshwank was an even Pee-ier shwank).  We looked under mattresses.  We checked everything.  No sign of the DDJ.  P texted me from school.  It was not there either, but his teacher would let him turn it in late without a penalty.

I went to the teacher’s website and started the process of printing out all the forms, charts, tables, etc. that P had used in his DDJ.  Every time I would hit print, the printer would freak out.  (I’ve had it for the better part of 9 years.  It’s the grumpy old man of the tech world.)  So I would have to turn it off and back on again to clear the error messages.  Which made it reinitialize on my laptop, which in turn would give it a new printer name which I would them have to update in the printer queue.  Wanna know how many times this happened?

Yep.  16 times that a-hole of a printer did this to me.

Yep. 16 times that a-hole of a printer did this to me.

Because, of course it reloaded 16 times in the span of a single day.

This is me:

But I persevered.

The boy got home yesterday afternoon and said, “I’m gonna watch Breaking Bad and get this done.  Because: science!”

I sat down in the library and breathed a sigh of relief that everything was printed and ready to go for the boy to redo the entire book.  (At last count the DDJ had been 35 pages of research and data.  A pretty big undertaking.)

And then the boy gasps and yells,

“You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

[a pause while I ponder what I could’ve possibly missed during my printing trials]

“Mom!  Did you know there’s a secret pocket in my binder?”

The original DDJ had been in his backpack the entire time.

I had wine for dinner.

2014 Is Bringing Big Changes To Our Happy Home

Yesterday, the first day of a shiny new year, I sat down on the red couch you’ve all heard so much about and continued reading a book I had picked up earlier in the day.

The Peeshwank walked in and exclaimed, “What are you doing?”

“I’m reading.”

“But you read in the yellow chair.  You’re like Sheldon.  That’s your spot!”

“New year, new spot.  Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf.”

“But… that’s your spot.”  He points over at the empty yellow chair.  “This is where I nap.  Where am I supposed to nap if you’re reading in my spot?”

“Now who’s acting like Sheldon?”

Bazinga! Mug

I know I’ve been absent for a bit on ye olde website, but I promise to get back to making daily writing a priority.  The Peeshwank’s career and my volunteering at the theater started to take over our lives, so I’m working to take back some time to work on MY passion.  Yes, I’m learning to say “No, I don’t have time for that” in order to continue following my own dreams.  It hit me on New Year’s Eve that for the first year since 2009 I hadn’t released a new book.  I vow to never let that happen again.  As long as I am mentally and physically able to write, I will write.  No excuses.

And so, loyal readers, “The Last Girl” WILL be released this year come hell or high water.  If not, grab your torches and pitchforks and meet me in the front yard.

I’ve also got some other fun works that I started during NaNoWriMo that I can’t wait to finish and share with you.  Plus the YA series that Joe and I are writing together.  So many manuscripts!!!  I love looking through my computer and seeing all the work that I’ve been able to do thus far.  I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m up for the challenge.

Best wishes to you all!  Cheers!

Doctor Who, Minecraft, and a Donkey Named “Danger”

As you all know, we’re nerds.  Big ol’ sci-fi, video game, comic book loving nerds.  We’ve raised The Peeshwank to follow in our footsteps because, let’s face it, nerds are the best.

So this series of conversations made me laugh a lot more than it probably should have…

In the car:

P: Danger is dead!

Me: Excuse me?

P: Danger.  He’s my donkey in Minecraft. [He assured me it was NOT a reference to Anthony Weiner, although he giggled a lot when Joe asked him if the donkey’s first name was Carlos.]

Me: Oh.  What happened?

P: Well, he was just standing there when Jerk McCrapface came up and murdered him.  Murdered him!  Right there in front of my house!

Me: I’m sorry.  Why did you let… um… Jerk McCrapface come to your house.

P: He told me he was a Doctor Who fan, so I let him teleport to me.  But I think he must’ve been lying.  A true Whovian would never kill another Whovian’s donkey, would he?

Me: No.  Absolutely not.


Rest in peace, Danger.

Later in the library:

P: I still can’t believe that guy killed Danger.  I’m so mad.

Even later in the living room:

P: I’m gonna find the guy that killed Danger and raid his home.  He’ll be sorry he ever laid a finger on my donkey.

"Hello.  My name is P-dog Jenkins.  You killed my donkey.  Prepare to die."

“Hello. My name is P-dog Jenkins. You killed my donkey. Prepare to die.”

At dinner:

P: I’m still so mad.

Me: Well, how did he kill the donkey? I can’t imagine it’s very easy to kill a donkey.  They seem pretty resilient.

P: He punched him in the face until he was dead.

Joe: So, he was beating a dead horse?

Me: [giggle snorting laughter]

P: What?  I don’t get it.

The Peeshwank: Silly White Kid to Siamese Prince

Most of you know, The Peeshwank is currently appearing in “The King and I” at one of our local theaters.  A lot of people have asked for pics of the young one’s transformation from pasty, bespectacled white kid into a Siamese Prince.  I’m nothing if not accommodating, so here you go:

Step 1: Take one REALLY white kid.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, the works.

aIMG_3419Step 2: Dye his hair appropriately.

He grabbed a blanket to cover up, so as not to blind us all.

He grabbed a blanket to cover up, so as not to blind us all.

Step 3: Cut hair into a mohawk and spike.  (Got 2 B hairspray is the best for this portion of the program.)

Step 4: Crazy eye make-up.  Liquid liner is the only way to go.

Still looking a little goth though...

Still looking a little goth though…

Step 4: Spray tan the munchkin.

Still not quite there…

Step 5: Add a blingy costume and a couple of other Siamese Prince photobombers and VOILA!  Transformation complete!

Now go get tickets to come see the show and marvel at the majesty of it all: the singing, the dancing, the costumes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

What I Read: June

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

This first half of The Chaperone is absolutely engrossing.  The latter half moves by at a break-neck pace though, leaving one feeling as if the author wanted to squeeze as much as possible into the book in as small amount of space as possible.  The premise of the story is fantastic.  A young Louise Brooks (prior to becoming a famous silent film star) is accompanied to NYC to attend a prestigious dance school.  Louise is irreverent and smart-mouthed, but open-minded to new experiences, while Cora (her companion) is a little more prim and proper and less open to what was becoming acceptable in 1920s society.  It’s a lovely ride through 1920s New York and Wichita, Kansas.  As I said, the ending left me a little deflated – how many epiphanies can one character have in 20 pages or so?  But all in all, it’s a good read.  It’s also apparently being made into a movie, which I’m really looking forward to.  I love the 20s and seeing the fashion, etc. on the big screen.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

The Bean Trees

I absolutely love Barbara Kingsolver’s work  – and this book did not disappoint.  Kingsolver is the creator of one of my favorite characters of all time (Ada from “The Poisonwood Bible“), so I went in knowing that I’d more than likely find new characters to fall in love with.  Taylor, Turtle, and Lou Ann make a unique little family that I did indeed love.  Lou Ann’s various neuroses about all the crazy ways a child can die in the everyday world made me laugh out loud quite often.  She reminded me of all those fears I had when The Peeshwank was just a baby.  The story is a much simpler story than the epic Poisonwood Bible, but tells as engrossing a tale.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Cover of "Under the Dome: A Novel"

Yep.  I’m a Constant Reader (as King refers to his legions of fans).  I have been since I was about 12 and my mom found me rifling through her book collection after being thoroughly bored by the offerings of my school library.  I started out with some of the scarier (to a 12-year-old girl) novels – Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot, etc. then graduated on to The Stand at 15.  There’s not a thing of his that I’ve read that I haven’t liked.  Under the Dome represents King at his best.  He’s built an entire cast of characters under that dome, each one depicted as only King can.  The town dissolves into a Nazi-esque regime under the thumb of the good-ol-boy Big Jim in which if you’re not with him you probably wanna watch out for a knife in the back (or a gold plated baseball to the head).  Living in the South I’ve met countless people who resemble Big Jim in some way or another which makes this story that much more chilling – these are everyday people.  They could be your neighbors.  Yet they are at war in their small picturesque town and there’s no way anyone outside the Dome can help them.
I decided to read this one along with the television miniseries, but after the first episode and the following letter from King, I went on and blasted through the rest of it without waiting for the show to catch up.  Honestly, it’s just one of those I can’t put down even if I wanted to wait for the show to catch up.  It’s King at his finest and probably one of my top three of his – along with “The Stand” and “On Writing” and “Misery” and “11/22/63” and “Needful Things” and… oh forget it.  It’s like asking a mom to decide which kid is her favorite.
As for the miniseries… part of me is enjoying having no idea what’s going to happen next.  It’s like reading “Desperation” and then watching “The Regulators”.  Same dome, same character names, but everything else… different.  Another part of me though, would love to see the events of the book played out on the screen.  Of course, it would never live up to what I see in my head when I read the book.

This month has been crazy (I know, different month, same excuse) with doing local theater (if you’re in the area, come see The Peeshwank in “The King and I” at Rogers Little Theater) and a couple other film projects (here, here, and here), so I haven’t had as much time to read as normal.  I did start my umpteenth re-read of “Much Ado About Nothing” though because…

Shakespeare + Captain Tightpants = AWESOME.

Shakespeare + Captain Tightpants = AWESOME.

Review forthcoming… as soon as a movie theater in Arkansas will man up and decide to show the danged movie.