Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And Then One Happy Day I Signed With a Literary Agent

So, I've been sitting on this news for a while, just to make sure I didn't dream it. Since I've pinched myself black and blue, and Sugar has read the copy of the executed contract and assures me it's real, and I've waited a month to make sure she didn't change her mind, I feel safe in sharing the happy news that I've signed with Denise Little, an agent with The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency.

I have an agent.

I say those words aloud to myself about fifty time a day. Sometimes I tell random strangers. People look at me oddly, but I'm accustomed to that, really. I mean, when you do things like run off with a man's vodka in the grocery store, you grow immune to the look that says, "Poor thing, she's Not Quite Right." Full sanity is highly overrated and, I suspect, boring.

Anyway, this year I have one more thing to be thankful for. (The list is long--I am ridiculously blessed.) Denise is enthusiastic, has been in publishing long enough to know the industry well, and is possibly the hardest working person I've ever come across. I count myself exceedingly fortunate to be her client.

Peace, out...


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Incognito Rock Star with a Sprained Derriere

You know that old Billy Joel song We Didn't Start the Fire? Sometimes my life is like that--one long rapid-fire series of events. But hey, I'm never bored.

When Sugar and I arrived home from two weeks in Indiana around tenish on Friday the 29th, we lugged our stuff upstairs, had a glass of wine, and collapsed into bed. Saturday morning, we had to fit our house tour and all the errands into a compressed time slot, because we were invited to a killer Halloween party in Greenwood,  ninety minutes away.

This was a Guitar Hero party, and we were supposed to go dressed as rock stars. All we could pull off was Sugar in his (typical) Jimmy Buffett weekend attire, accessorized with a captain's hat and shoulder parrot, and me in big sunglasses. I told our hostess I was incognito, and could be any rock star she wanted me to be. (For some reason, people kept calling me Tennille.)

The party was a blast--so much fun, good food, good company--but we stayed well past the pumpkin carriage's schedule, and spent the night in a local hotel instead of making the ninety-minute drive home.

We arrived back in Greenville on Sunday just in time to prepare for friends and family coming to our house for a cookout. When our loved ones left around tenish, we finished the laundry and repacked, as Sugar was leaving on a jet plane at 5:00 the next morning, and I was headed home to North Carolina to "handle" my father who was being obstinate about a gall bladder operation he needs. This, of course turned out to be a fool's errand, as Daddy is completely unmanageable, but I got in some quality family time.

I spent half the week with Mamma and Daddy, then went to Raleigh to "handle" another crisis involving my offspring. This leg of the trip was marginally more successful, and again, I got quality family time--always precious.

Then, when I arrived home on Friday last, I did a very stupid thing. I do not travel light. I have a large suitcase, which is always packed with everything I might conceivably need. (I'm nothing if not prepared.) As Sugar wasn't home yet, I carried this monster in my left hand, with my laptop and mammoth purse on my right shoulder, up the stairs. This arrangement required me to rest the suitcase on my left hip as I lugged it up the steps.

It wasn't until Saturday, when the lower back pain started, that the full consequences of my stupidity started revealing themselves. At a friend's house for dinner Saturday night, I had to keep moving from chair to chair to floor to standing trying to keep the pain at bay.

By three a.m. Sunday--mere hours before Sugar and I were scheduled to head BACK to Indiana--the pain in my left derriere was so intense I was nauseous. I nudged Sugar. "I hurt so bad I'm about to throw up," I said.

The love of my life mumbled, "Just relax. We'll go to the ER in the morning."

"Why do I have to wait?" I wailed.

"They aren't open now."

"It's the ER--THEY DON'T CLOSE." The louder wail woke not only Sugar, but likely the neighbors, and set several dogs to barking.

Sugar was up, dressed, and had me in the car within mere moments.

The doctor gave me a shot of something that allowed me to ride ten and a half hours in the car to Indiana, and five prescriptions. But, since the shot wore off, I can't sit. I can lie in any position that doesn't put pressure on my left derriere at all, or kneel at the desk and answer quick emails.

All of this to explain my absence from Jazzercise, Twitter, Facebook, my blog, and most human interaction for the last week and a half. I'm also over-medicated, so anything I do say should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Peace, out...


P.S. About the house... Your know that saying about how you can't go home? Sometimes it's true. When Sugar and I walked into the house we loved, the one that holds so many memories, we realized immediately the answer to what had mystified us a few years earlier: why did it take so long to sell such a great house?

Since we left, we've lived in new construction, and have grown accustomed to an open floor plan, nine-foot ceilings, modern baths, and windows that work properly. We're spoiled, yes. We stepped into the foyer of our previous home, and immediately felt claustrophobic.

The good news is, we can quit pining for what we thought we missed, and even if we never embrace certain aspects of subdivision living, we can fully embrace our new home and get on with life. This is a good thing, as we have a full one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When Life Sends You a Fruit Basket

We all know what to do with lemons, right?  When life hands us lemons, we make lemonade and add our libation of choice. Common sense, that. When we have only one choice, we make the best of it.
But what to do when life hands you a basket filled with mangoes, kiwi, and all manner of luscious fruits? I'm ridiculously blessed, and perhaps, sometimes, have too many choices. If I fill up on figs and strawberries, I won't have room for a peach, right? And I love peaches...

Saying yes to one thing always means saying no to something else. Saying no is hard for me. I spent years of my life so over-extended by commitments--okay, yes, I'm no longer talking fruit here, we're on time management, please stay with the group--that I was in need of an intervention and regular doses of that spiked lemonade.

But the need to make hard choices, embrace them, and not look back applies to so many things. (Leaving time management, on to life choices...it's all about the fruit...)

A few weeks ago, when I was explaining how Sugar and I are not cut out for subdivision living, I mentioned that we were working on a plot with our old neighbors--the ones we lived next door to for years in the house we loved, before I filled up on pears (decided we should live downtown, within walking distance to restaurants, etc)--to convince the interlopers who bought Barbie's Dream House that it was in fact haunted, and they must move to satisfy the spirits and whatnot.

Well, I guess it worked. I got a phone call a few days ago from said dear friends next door, who we'll call Wilson and Sandra, because those are their names. It seems the folks we sold our house to are interested in selling. Now, I have no evidence that Sandra or Wilson either one hid a tape player with a timer in the neighbors' attic that played "GET OOUUTTT" at 3:15 a.m. every morning, so we'll say no more about it.

Sugar and I have an appointment to see our old home and discuss details on Saturday morning. Right now, I so long to drive into OUR driveway when we get home from Indiana and be home again. Of course, there's the detail of selling the subdivision house...

But saying yes to Barbie's Dream House will mean saying no to some other things we really want to do. It will need new windows soon (two vacations we won't be able to take). And Sugar wants to replace the paneling in the den with sheet-rock. The master bath needs updating... Already we have a list of projects we're excitedly considering. The budget for all those projects would eat up a lot of travel.

And the time spent on all these projects could be spent enjoying family, volunteering, or taking up crop circle interpretation.

That house is special to us. We have so many wonderful memories there. It's home. But saying yes to it will mean making choices. It will mean fewer date nights out, fewer vacations, and less time and money for a long list of things we enjoy.

But I suspect if we can come to an agreement with the very nice folks who bought it, we will buy our home back. We'll eat the peaches with the juice dripping on our hands, having learned that pears are nice, but you simply can't eat all the fruit in the basket. You must choose.

And there's no place like home. (Clicking my heels together...)

Peace, out...


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why Excel is Like Duct Tape

Sugar, like many men, can fix almost anything that breaks with a roll of duct tape. It has uses far beyond those originally envisioned by its designer--as does MS Excel.

Not so long ago, in another life, I was a project manager. This is one of those job descriptions like "consultant," that can mean many things depending on the context, and while I once toured the Adam & Eve warehouse in North Carolina (purely professional--they had distribution needs, I had distribution software--though they did offer me a free sample of my choice) most of my days were spent staring at Excel spreadsheets.

So, when Sugar gave me the green light to make things up and write them down full time, (thus securing his position as a patron of the, ahem…arts) at first I was adrift without my lines and columns. I tried story boards, which in my case were foam boards with elaborate charts and pictures of my characters cut out of catalogs and magazines. But large foam boards were difficult to transport, which was a problem since my life most resembles that of a gypsy. I tried making notes about each chapter on index cards, but since I can't read my own handwriting, this didn't work out either.

At this, my larval stage as a writer, I had not yet considered the profound question of whether I was a plotter or a pantser. I had no clue that I needed to be one or the other, as I had not yet read the hundred books on writing that now have their own shelf in my bookcase, nor had I attended the slew of conferences and workshops that would come over the next few years. I was winging it. Hey, I'd READ a lot of books. Surely I could write one... Yes, in fact, I was that ignorant.

After a few months of experimenting and suffering from depression as a result of spreadsheet withdrawal, I figured out that Excel worked great as a writing tool. I've learned so much in the last few years, and as with any craft, I know I need to continue learning. But the one thing I've hung onto from those early days is the use of spreadsheets for plotting. (I now know that--big surprise here--I'm schizophrenic. I'm a plotter who turns into a pantser at the drop of a hat. (Okay, if you're not a writer, and you've read this far, a pantser is one who writes by the seat of his/her pants--organically. Her characters tell her what happened and she transcribes their story.)

I have one Excel workbook per project. Within that workbook, I have one tab with a spreadsheet for characters. This tab typically has columns for not only biographical info and physical description, but quirks that define the character. Another spreadsheet has a plot outline. This starts simple, with a beginning, middle, and end, and expands as I add lines for each chapter as the story comes together. When my characters take over and tear off on a tangent--and I love those days; those days are magic--I simply open the spreadsheet and document where they've taken me when we get back.

There is one danger in using Excel as a plotting tool for a novel: a reader cannot keep in his/her head everything that you can keep track of in a spreadsheet. I learned this the hard way, and had to rip out my first novel at the seams and remove an entire subplot and several characters.

On the plus side, Excel is highly portable, and I can read what I type into my lines and columns. Excel helps me maintain order in my virtual universe. If only reality were so easily organized...

Many plotters and half-breeds like me struggle with how best to organize their work. Check out Julie Weathers' blog post from yesterday. She has a copy of J. K. Rowling's solution posted.

Peace, out...


Monday, October 11, 2010

Clearly, Something is Wrong With Me

Driving along several interstates this past weekend, we passed multiple outlet malls. All had billboards miles in advance to alert travelers to the shopping opportunities ahead. At least one of the malls had movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other entertainment venues attached. We drove past each with barely a glance.

Most women I know love to shop. For some, it's their drug of choice--a stress reliever. Not me. Nothing makes me want to crawl out of my skin quite so badly as going into a store--any store--to browse. If I don't have a specific purchase in mind, I have no desire to go into a store. In fact, I balk like a mule every time my sister or a friend tries to interest me in recreational shopping. I just don't get it.

To my mind, there are way more entertaining things to do--like, maybe, watch concrete harden. I've tried to explain this, but I get blank, sympathetic stares.

And another thing... If I'm driving along, minding my own business, and have no pressing need for say, a clever new set of cocktail napkins that say, "I'm a hybrid--I run on chocolate and wine," or  perhaps a new set of wine charms, or even a scented candle, why would I stop to browse a store filled with such things?

I'm sure the hypothetical store would smell nice and be filled with displays of artsy things pleasing to the eye. But here's the thing. This store is filled with things that I don't know I want as I drive by on the interstate. I am content in my car. But if I stop and go inside the store, once I'm over being cranky at having done so, I will see things I want. Things that are not currently in my budget. And then I will be unhappy if I do not purchase them.

It's best I stay in the car.

Peace, out,



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What About Bob?

A few years ago, when the company I'd worked with for 11 years went out of business, Sugar and I decided it was time for me to give the writing thing a spin. I'd dreamed of writing and sporadically tried to fit writing into our lives for years without much success. Now it was my turn.

I've been a voracious reader practically from the cradle. I'd write what I loved to read, I thought. What I didn't realize was that my eclectic reading habits were producing a schizophrenic manuscript. It wasn't sure whether it was romantic suspense, a mystery, or women's fiction. I needed a critique group.

My first critique group--and one I still attend when I can--was the Greenville chapter of South Carolina Writers' Workshop. This is a great group--tons of fun--and for the first time I had the chance to talk to other writers about writing. One of the first friends I made was Bob Strother.

Bob is very low key. In fact, he speaks so softly that you'll miss what he says if others are talking in the room. And you want to hear what Bob says, because he's a smart guy and a talented writer. What I didn't know until much later is that Bob is also an ex-Marine (yeah, I know, Marines are Marines for life and all) and he may be soft spoken, but he could kill any of us eight different ways if he took a notion. Bob's a master of critique in that he can tell you what you need to fix without burdening you with how he would write it if it were him.

I've lost track of how many short stories Bob has published, but I've read many of them in our group. Each is well-crafted, and it's fascinating to me how different they all are. Some make me laugh out loud. Others are so creepy they have prompted me to ask his wife, Vicki, how she sleeps next to him at night knowing what goes on in his head. One was nominated for the Small Press Pushcart Prize.

Main Street Rag is publishing a collection of Bob's stories, Scattered, Smothered, and Covered, which comes out in February. It's available for pre-order right now, and I've ordered my copy. You'll want one, too. Just click the title link and it can be yours.

Peace, out...


Friday, September 24, 2010

We've Got to Do Better Than This

Y'all might have heard me Twhining (whining on Twitter) about my nasty cold this week. Here's the rest of the story. It's, okay, a little self-indulgent, but stay with me. There's a point.

I have weird sinuses. A deviated septum and a hollow flat bone that's not supposed to be hollow or flat combine to make my sinuses drain poorly, or so says the ENT guy who did the CAT scan on them a few years back. (I know, TMI, right?) Because I also have chronic allergies, he wanted to perform surgery to correct the problem.

Oh nay nay. I don't believe in elective surgery. Even when it's not elective, those release forms you have to sign give me pause. After some trial and error, the ENT and I came up with a routine to manage my sinus woes. An important piece of this is a steroid spray, Nasacort AQ. I've tried other brands. For whatever reason, they don’t work for me. It's like squirting water up my nose, except they also give me a headache. For years, my primary care physician has been renewing my Nasacort AQ prescription.

Then, (as I understand it) because our current insurance company was going to raise premiums a substantial amount, Sugar's employer changed insurance providers from Insurance Company A to Insurance Company BCBS. This was August 1st.

On August 12, I went to get my Nasacort AQ refilled, and the pharmacy clerk at Walgreens told me that BCBS would not pay for it unless the doctor’s office filled out a pre-authorization form. (Excuse me, but when did writing a prescription stop being enough authorization from a doctor to give me medication? Used to, you only had to get pre-authorization for surgery.) She said she'd fax it to the doctor right then, but it might take a few days, did I want to pay the full amount for the prescription?

I was completely out, and knew from experience that letting the medication lapse during ragweed season was NOT a good idea, so I said okay. I nearly choked when she handed me the slip to sign. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS for a bottle of nasal spray. WTF?

But I paid it, because I needed it, and I thought SURELY by the time I went back to get my next refill, this would all be straightened out. Oh nay, nay.

A week or so later I got a call from my doctor's nurse. "Dr. (Redacted) would like you to try Flonase because your insurance company won’t pay for the Nasacort AQ." I asked her to please look at my chart and she would see that I had already tried Flonase and every other nasal steroid manufactured in our galaxy. She looked. She saw. She said she'd call me back. She didn't.

A week goes by, and I call the insurance company. They haven't received the faxed form from the doctor, but they'll be glad to fax another. I called the doctors office. They're having trouble getting Insurance Company A to pay for it...

I explained (without losing my temper) that I was no longer with Insurance Company A, but with BCBS. Okay, the nurse said, she'd try them. I never heard anything else from her, but I figured the SNAFU had been identified and corrected.

Oh nay nay.

When I went to pick up my prescription at Walgreens on September 12, the pharmacy clerk informed me that BCBS was still declining to pay for the Nasacort AQ, but did I want to pay full price?

Ha! I fell for that last month, thought I. I will call and straighten this out in the morning. So I did not get my prescription, even though we are still in ragweed season. I was living dangerously, but figured I could get this worked out quickly. Oh. Nay. Nay.

I spent the next week going back and forth between the doctor's office and the insurance company, who are apparently plagued by sunspot interference on faxes that travel between the two places. Both report having no trouble sending or receiving faxes with anyone else.

Then, last Saturday, we went to my sister's house for a cookout. Someone there was a carrier for a cold virus. I'm not pointing fingers, but my niece had a runny nose, and my brother complained of "allergies." All I know is that Sugar and I both came down with heinous colds in less than 24 hours.

Monday morning at 5 a.m., poor Sugar had to get on a plane, regardless. I stayed home and by Monday afternoon, I was feeling good enough to go to Jazzercise. Big mistake. By Tuesday morning, I was much sicker than I had been to begin with. There was a perfect storm in my sinuses. Ragweed, cold, no Nasacort AQ.

By this morning (Friday) I had green gunk in my head and my chest, and I was coughing so much my throat felt like it had been carved up with razor blades.

I called the insurance company yet again this morning, but they were having system problems, and the recording advised me to call back after 11a.m.

I called the doctors office and made an appointment ($35 co-pay). He must have thought I looked and sounded rough, because the antibiotic prescription he gave me ($60 co-pay) is, according to the leaflet written in 3 point font that they give you with all drugs now, ALSO USED TO TREAT ANTHRAX. I am not making that up.

When I explained my Nasacort situation, he regaled me with stories of having received faxes from insurance companies at 3:15 a.m., with a refusal to pay coming in at 3:30 a.m. because forms had not been submitted in a timely manner. I do not doubt him.

As I left the doctor's office, on the way to Walgreens to pick up my prescription, I called BCBS back. Their system was up. And no, they had not received the fax from the doctor on the Nasacort. I called the doctor's office back. The clerk said, "Wait a minute, you were just here? Why didn't you talk to the doctor about it?" I explained. (I did not yell at her.) She told me to come on back by and talk to the nurse. When I finished at Walgreens, I did just that.

My regular doctor (not the guy on call today who I'd seen earlier) came out, apologized, said the form was on her desk. They'd just gotten it two days ago, she said. Today, they faxed it back.

But, no one at BCBS can confirm receipt due to the volume of faxes they receive. I had the Nasacort filled. I paid the $138.99. Again.


What about all the poor souls who have prescriptions for life-threatening illnesses who have to go through all this crap? The ones who can't afford to pay exorbitant amounts for their medications? The antibiotic, by the way, would have been $193 had I not had insurance. I asked.

What about the ones with cardiovascular conditions who would have had a stroke from the stress?

I'm sorry, but WE HAVE GOT TO DO BETTER THAN THIS. For the love of sunshine and blue skies, we've got smart people in this country. Some of them are doctors and insurance executives. Some work for pharmaceutical companies. Heck, some of them are even in the government. Surely, someone can figure out a better way.

I know legislation has been passed. I still don't know what's in it. Does anyone? I'm not saying it's good or bad. I'm saying I don't have a clue what the impact to me or anyone else will be or when we can expect to see it, and I'm not sure anyone else knows either.

Here's what I do know. If memory serves, Sugar's company pays his portion of the insurance and part of mine as well. But the part we pay ourselves (however it's divided) went from $412 per month to $465 per month when we changed to BCBS, but that was less of an increase than if we'd stayed with Insurance Company A. Our co-pays also went up.

So far, the only change I can see that was caused by the recent legislation is that beginning January 1, we will have to have a prescription for over the counter drugs if we want to use our health savings account to pay for them. And we can no longer use the Visa card attached to our health savings account, even if we get a prescription for aspirin, cough syrup, or Alka-Seltzer. I will have to fax receipts to the HSA manager and wait for reimbursement from our own account.

More paperwork for my doctor, more paperwork for me, and more paperwork for the folks that manage our health savings account. But so far, nothing is cheaper.

Is this really the best we can do? Really?! I hope like hell it's not.

Peace, out....


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Managing the Voices in My Head

I love novels--so much that I may need an intervention, or possibly a support group. I typically read books that fall into the mystery, suspense, or thriller genres, though I do enjoy the occasional women's fiction or romance novel. And I sometimes pick up a mainstream or literary read, especially if it's a Southern novel. (I love everything Joshilyn Jackson has ever written.)

Recently I was reading a very well-written Southern mystery, something I would ordinarily be incapable of putting down. But I struggled to stay engaged in the book. It's written from three different rotating characters' perspectives, and they get roughly equal stage-time. There isn't a clear main character. This made it difficult for me to become invested in any of the three candidates. I understand that this is purely a subjective preference. Certainly, other authors write this way, and other readers enjoy these books.

Maybe I've always been this way, but I've only recently noticed that I prefer books with only one narrator. The occasional, brief chapter in the villain’s (or love interest's) point of view doesn't bother me, but I want to experience most of the story through the eyes of one main character

Maybe this is a response to an increasingly complex world, but I want my reading entertainment to be focused. I don't mean I want it delivered on a fifth-grade level. But I like slipping into a character's skin and experiencing her/his world. It's harder for me to stay in character if I have to keep switching roles.

Or maybe I just need to keep the number of voices in my head at a manageable level.

Peace, out...


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I Love Minor League Baseball

Last night was the last home game of the season for the Greenville Drive, the local class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. You might be wondering what kind of name The Drive is for a sports team, but I couldn't tell you. Lots of people in Greenville wanted to name the team the Greenville Joes in honor of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was from the Greenville area, but whoever is in charge of such things at MLB wouldn't hear of it. The controversy, et cetera. I digress.

The total experience of watching a Drive game at Fluor Field in the West End of downtown Greenville is sublime. The field itself is only five years old, and it's modeled after Fenway, with its own Green Monster and everything. From the bar-top tables at the 500 Club, where we like to eat dinner, you can see not only the ballgame, but the Greenville skyline and Paris Mountain. Okay, the 500 Club makes most excellent fried pickles, just so you know.

When the weather is right, as it was last night--not too hot or humid--the evening air is soft on your skin. Greenville supports its team, so, even on a Tuesday night, there was a respectable crowd. The mascot is a big green frog named Reedy Rip'It (in honor of the Reedy River, which flows through downtown), and he along with a few cheerleaders kept the fans entertained and engaged. Okay, I love singing Sweet Caroline with a stadium full of people.

There was a bench-clearing altercation at the bottom of the fifth due to some unfortunate comments made regarding a play at home plate. This led to led to chest-bumping, then a full-fledged brawl. No one was hurt, but two players on each team were ejected, and the game was delayed for fifteen minutes while the officials sorted out who was getting tossed. We were sitting just to the left of home plate, and had ringside seats.

Anyway, the whole package is just fun. Big League games are fun, too, of course. But something about the scale of a single A game is just more accessible to me--more intimate. And at $9 a pop for box seats, we can go whenever we feel like it. We sang, and cheered ourselves hoarse. It was a blast.

Despite all the singing and cheering--not to mention a bottom of the ninth war party, complete with an aboriginal war dance by one of the pep team members in a grass skirt--The Drive lost last night. The South Atlantic League Championship series is tied at one game each, and moves to Lakewood New Jersey for games 3-5.

But it was a fun way to spend the evening.

Peace, out...


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

In Which Sugar Hatches a Devious Plot

I am a book lover. We have many, many books in our home, and shelves measured in miles, not feet. I have on many occasions proclaimed to family, friends, and random strangers that I will NEVER own an e-reader, because I love the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of paper, the flap copy, for heaven's sake!

Sugar has always nodded like he understood, and never once argued the point. He had no dog in that fight.

But then I mentioned how we needed another set of bookshelves, perhaps a row in the not-yet-completed family room downstairs. I'm working my way through my to-be-read stack (which has its own bookshelf), and as I add books to existing home-library shelves, they are becoming overstuffed. I don't have room to work in more books by my favorite authors. Clearly, action must be taken.

But Sugar's vision for the downstairs room is more "Jimbo's Tiki Bar" than family room. He did not welcome the suggestion that yet more bookcases might be part of the decor. Still, he didn't press the point.

Now, next to my books, Sugar knows I love my iPhone. He's a smart man, and one day he comes home from a company meeting with an iPad. I don't doubt his story that this is business equipment, necessary for presentations, etc. BUT, I'll say this: He's been waving that thing under my nose every chance he gets, showing me one cool app after another.

Then, he started downloading books. He's already got most of Lee Child's Jack Reacher series on that gadget. "Look, it's back-lit," he says. "I don't even need a book light."

For the first few days he had it, he'd demonstrate the fabulosity of the toy, but wouldn't let me play with it. When he had me in a mad frenzy to try it out, he let me read a few pages. Okay, it had me at "browse, download, read." I love books, but I'm an instant gratification junkie.

Thinking I would have to talk him into this pricey new toy, I casually said, "You better stop showing that thing off, or you'll have to buy me one."

Here's where he made his mistake. He didn't protest quite enough. He worked up a weak, "We'll have to see about that."

And I knew. I looked at my true love square in the eyes and saw the truth. He had done the math. The iPad was less expensive than more bookshelves. And it would not interfere with his plans for a man cave downstairs.

I have been had. But, hey, I'm getting a new toy. Everybody's happy at Chez Boyer.

Peace, out...


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some People are Just Not Subdivision Material

Up until three and a half years ago, we lived in a neighborhood. There was no overall theme--the homes were whatever style the owner chose, and the lots were anywhere from half an acre to four acres. We had two acres with a brick house built in the sixties that I absolutely adored. Sugar called it Barbie's Dream House, and it was. It was Southern traditional--big front porch, screened porch in back, lots of big oak trees in the yard.

But... we travel a lot, and two acres of yard plus a large house with fifty-year-old parts that needed continuous maintenance made us think life would be less complicated if we had less to take care of. Small house, big scrapbook, we said to ourselves. Simplify.

I REALLY wanted to live in downtown Greenville, where we could walk to dinner, or to Falls Park, and could ride our bikes through the park trails without having to load them up on the bike rack. Sugar was not so keen on this idea, as ninety-five percent of the real estate in downtown Greenville is condos. "But our back yard would be Falls Park," I said. Sugar gave in on the condition that we would rent for a year, and if we liked it, we'd buy.

We sold Barbie's Dream House, and moved into a 1,200 square-foot condo half a block from Falls Park. Despite all the amenities of downtown living that we both loved, within six months we were both claustrophobic. No patio, no deck--no place for Sugar's grill.

We started looking at new houses, ones that didn't need anything done to them. The beautiful homes in neighborhoods that border downtown Greenville were older than the one we'd sold, so we looked further out. A subdivision, we thought, is the middle ground. Half acre yard, new house.

Covenants and restrictions? Oh, those are just to protect your property value--to make sure folks don't put up outhouses and such in the backyard. This is the fiction we were sold. Don't ever let anyone tell you this.

I believe there are three kinds of people on any given Architectural Review Committee:

Type One, the well-meaning sorts, who volunteer because they want to do the right thing, give back, etc. These are the minority, and they will be worn down to a nub by the rest of them, and likely take to strong drink.

Type Two are dragged in kicking and screaming, or perhaps convinced when they've had a few martinis, by their friends who are Type Ones. Type Twos will hide when trouble starts, and it will.

Type Three are the folks who want to be in charge. They have a driving need to decide what is best for all, and then shove it down their neighbors' throats. They will rule the ARC in any homeowners association because they are the most invested. They crave POWER. Likely, they were bullied in high school.

Two and a half years later, we love the house, but have ascertained that we are not subdivision people. We're rebels. If, on Saturday afternoon, we decide we want to put a trellis in front of the air conditioner compressor, we don't want to have to draw a picture, fill out forms, and wait FORTY-FIVE DAYS for the Architectural Review Committee to approved it (or not).

And don't get me started on the trees. The ARC has tried to dictate which trees we can plant and in what configuration. Thankfully, the attorney who drew up the covenants and restrictions assures me this is unenforceable, not covered in the covenants and restrictions, and ridiculous.

We're currently working on a scheme with our old neighbors--the ones who live next to Barbie's Dream House--to convince the folks we sold it to that the place is haunted so they'll leave. In the meantime, I'm thinking of taking up sculpture and creating a heinous piece of orange and pink yard art with tassels and old shoes stuck on.

Peace, out...


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jazzercise: The Cult

Okay, the thing with Jazzercise is, you really can't quit. They won't let you—I’ve tried. It's like a cult: Once you're in, someone has to send a team of deprogrammers to kidnap you out.

I had every intention of quitting earlier this month. But, as Betty (who power-guzzles her Kool- Aid) pointed out, my strategy was faulty. I went on a day when both Precariously Perky Julie and Casey, The Queen of Pain were there. I should have known better. They gave me all kinds of reasonable-sounding arguments why it was in my best interest not to quit. I caved.

Then, I went out of town, again, like we all knew I would. Since I didn't get home until after the 15th (the cutoff date for cancellations in any given month) I'm in through the end of September. This, of course, was their plan.

But... I figured I'd go ahead and fill out my cancellation for next month ahead of time (having come to my senses) when I drug myself in there yesterday.

Jules was ready for me. When I walked in the door, she shoved a clipboard at me and told me to fill out the form. Okay, I started doing that. A few lines in, I realized I was filling out the "I agree not to sue you if you kill me" form that everyone has to fill out once a year. I scratched my head. It wasn't time for me to do this. "Why do I need to fill this out?" I asked.

The place was full of people—Jules had some kind of special going on. She was very CONVENIENTLY too distracted to answer except for an over-the-shoulder, "It's the release."

Well, I knew THAT. I looked at her sideways. "You're just trying to distract me from asking for my cancellation form."

She trilled a laugh, tossed her ponytail, and quickly engaged in a serious conversation with someone behind me related to childcare.

“Here, Susan.” One of the class managers handed me a ticket. “We’re having a drawing today.”

When I turned back, Jules was chatting up a potential recruit. She had no time for my nonsense.

The crowd was moving toward the dance floor. All I could do was drop the clipboard and move with the group. It was that or be trampled.

After an hour with The Queen of Pain, I was too tired to argue with them.

Resistance is futile. At least I'll be 24 forever...

Peace, out...


Monday, August 09, 2010

In Which I Cancel My Jazzercise Membership--Again

Every few months I realize that I'm not home enough to make regular Jazzercise participation a reality. It's more like something I really want to do, and so, in one of my alternate realities, I Jazzercise daily. Here in the real world my attendance is not so regular. But the draft to my checking account is.

So, every now and then I go in and fill out a form to cancel my draft. Precariously Perky Julie (who owns the place) is no dummy. You can't cancel by civilized method like email or phone. You have to go there and fill out a form. Which makes you think, "Well, if I can drag myself in there to fill out the stupid form, maybe I should just put on my dancing clothes and go dance." I have done this several times.

Every time I go through with the cancellation, I email Jules a day or three later and say, "Never mind." Because every time I cancel, my schedule shifts (because Sugar's does) and I end up being at home because I don't typically go with him on a trip if he's flying. Precariously Perky Julie WILL allow you to cancel your cancellation via phone, email, smoke-signal--whatever. Like I said, she's no dummy.

Today is August 9th. We are 221 days into 2010, and I have MAYBE been to 15 Jazzercise classes. I'm thinking I need to come up with an exercise plan I can actually execute. I've decided to make an iPod playlist and dance in the family room--just do random Jazzercise moves I've learned over the years plus whatever the music moves me to do. I think I'll call this Spazzercise. If I'm out of town, I can Spazzercise in the hotel room.
Since I've already paid for August, I'll go dance with the Queen of Pain today. That way, I won't have to have the argument with myself about whether or not I should just go (because I can today) or cancel. I'll do both.

I'll let you know how long it lasts this time.

Peace, out...


Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Need a Packing Intervention

I'd planned to post more pictures from The Mother of All Road Trips, and write something about our time in every city. But, I'm leaving Tuesday for RWA Nationals, and I have to start packing.

You'd think, maybe, since I just got back from a three-week trip, that I'd have a clue how to pack for six days in Orlando. I thought that, anyway. Until I started reading all the blogs on how and what to pack for Nationals.

Many conference veterans advise things like, "Pack one skirt, one pair of pants, and four tops that you can wear with either." Huh? My sister packs like this, but this is SO not me. I need choices. Who knows what mood I'll be in on any given day? Besides, we're going to be in ORLANDO, which is one big sauna in late July. I can't see myself wearing anything twice, but that's just me, and I have some well-documented neuroses.

Then there's the perennial travel advice, "Bring things you can wear during the day, the slip into evening by changing shoes and accessories." While this SOUNDS like common sense, my wardrobe simply does not lend itself to this strategy. You really can't just slip on pearls and heels with khaki pants, a lacy tank, and a sweater and call it evening wear.

My favorite advice was from the woman who advised taking only nude underwear because it works with everything. Okay--this advice I needed months ago, because I don't have time (or money) to shop for all new underwear between now and Tuesday. I guess I'll just have to try not to show mine.

But I really do need a new laptop case. And a "little black dress." Oh, and some Downy wrinkle release. Gotta go shopping. Maybe I should pick up that underwear while I'm out...

Peace, out...


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Things I Learned on the Road Trip

Here are a few things I learned on our recent odyssey:

  1. My mom will dance on Beale Street (literally ON the street--she would not go into the clubs) and have her picture made with the large rooster outside The Red Rooster bar. This caused my reality to bend a little.
  2. The Mississippi River isn't all that wide in Memphis. I've always imagined it as a mile-wide river the whole length of the thing, but it's not. It's a mile wide in places.Someplace in Minnesota it's nearly 11 miles wide, but in spots, it's only about 20 feet wide! I'm sure I must have learned this in school, but so much has fallen out of my brain over the years. I've flown over the Mississippi many times, but had never seen it from the ground. Crossing it in Memphis and again in St. Louis on the way back was very cool.
  3. Graceland isn't as large as you might think. (My dad had to go there.)
  4. Oklahoma City is quite lovely. I'd picture all of Oklahoma like the black-and-white parts of Kansas from The Wizard of Oz. (We were in Oklahoma City the day of the flooding, and that was scary. We nearly had to swim out.
  5. We visited 18 states in three weeks. Every one of them was beautiful, and watching the landscape change gradually from mountain to plains to desert and back to mountains is fascinating. I thought I would sleep in the car, as we drove about 8 hours every day on the way to California and back. I never closed my eyes.
More later. I learned a lot on this trip. I'll never forget it, both for all the beautiful country we saw, and for the gift of three uninterrupted weeks spent with Jim. This was the most consecutive time we've seen each other in the errr... some years we've been married. It was wonderful.

Also a very special gift was spending the time with my parents while they are still young and active and loving life. Here's to you, Wayne and Claudette!

Peace, out...


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Mother of All Road Trips

The Husband, (aka Jim, aka Sugar) and I just got home late Saturday from a three-week road trip from our home in Greenville, SC to San Francisco, then Napa. We took my parents. For their 50th wedding anniversary. (Note: Yes, they had me VERY late in life. I was a miracle baby, in fact.)

I'd told Mom and Dad not to worry about how much they packed--"take whatever you need," I said. They took me at my word. I myself am not a light packer, and I think it's safe to say that the result was that we hauled more stuff to California than your average family moving west in a wagon train.

So, it took a while to pack and unpack all that stuff, and I've been unplugged for a while. I'm catching up on email and laundry. Planning to drag myself in to Jazzercise today so The Queen of Pain can start working some of what I ate off my derriere.

Trip highlights are too may to count, but coming soon.

And, my dad was well behaved. He didn't show his tongue to a single soul, though he looked at it in the visor mirror a lot when he was riding up front.

Peace, out...


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Number One Reason I've Had No Time to Blog

Things have been intense lately. I've been traveling almost non-stop. Here are a few highlights from the road:

  • Last visit to Indiana, while we were on a side trip to Amish country for pickles, the police raided our hotel. They brought the drug dogs and everything. Seems one of the locals had rented a hotel room to hang out at the pool and smoke some weed. Someone must have reported the smell. This was big news here, as we're in a very wholesome, family-oriented part of Indiana .
  • Last trip to Jasper, AL, we NARROWLY missed an F-3 tornado, which formed virtually on top of us, then moved on to the next county where it did a lot of damage. I love Jasper, but I am SO not going back there in spring or summer. The Husband has strict instructions he can only work there in fall and winter.
  • On a happy note, the hotel in Jasper now has a Belgian waffle maker. The Queen of Pain now has a few waffles to work off of me when I get home.
  • I made a quick trip home to Faith, where I spent most of an entire day chauffeuring my dad (who is young and perfectly able to drive himself) to various doctor's offices so he could talk to the poor receptionists and nurses about this curious coating on his tongue and throat. Now, most folks will call and make an appointment to see the doctor. Not my daddy. He doesn't like dealing with the automated answering machines that require him to press one to make an appointment, et cetera. He just drops in. To his credit, this has proven to be effective in that these nurses will do ANYTHING to get him to stop showing them his tongue. I can relate, which explains why I was driving him on this fool's errand.
As exciting as all of this is, the number one reason I've had no time to blog is that I've been busy lurking over at Do the Write Thing for Nashville where I've been busy plotting my strategy for scoring some of the goodies.

I had my heart set on the manuscript consultation by none other than Janet Reid. I've had a little ebay experience, so I strategized waiting until the very last minute and placing one bid--but WAY before midnight last night the bidding got too rich for my bank account.

Then, I set my sights on five days at Kari Lynn Dell's ranch in Montana--only to be quickly left in the bidding dust. This one is still open, and a bargain for anyone who has ever wanted to go to Montana. I think the bidding closes at midnight tonight.

I hear that tomorrow Barbara Poelle and Holly Root have a combo meeting at RWA or BEA going on the block. I'm glued to my PC. but I have a sinking feeling this one will go for big bucks as well.

Y'all check it out--there's a lot of great stuff being auctioned for a great cause!

Peace, out...


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Chick-Fila Cows Perform a Public Service

I love a cheeseburger as much as anybody--more than many folks, actually, if you take into account the vegetarian and vegan sectors. Grilled Angus beef on a sesame seed bun, with extra cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and Heinz 57. Yum. My mouth is watering and it's not nearly lunch time.

And don't get me started on grilled stuffed filet mignon. The moaning might disturb other hotel guests.

I'm a fan of the cow, is what I'm saying--always have been.

But, I'm also something of a...ahem...hypochondriac. Yeah, I  know, you're shocked and all.

So, when I read this article on page 2 of today's USA Today, I immediately started inventorying my symptoms. The article states that "A program set up to test beef for chemical residues is not accomplishing its mission of monitoring the food supply for dangerous substances... The health affects on people who eat such meat are a 'growing concern.'" The article goes on to say that in 2008, "Mexican authorities rejected a U.S. beef shipment because its copper levels exceeded Mexican standards." The rejected meat was sold in the U.S.

Our beef wasn't up to Mexican standards, so it had to be sold in the U.S.???

It's not just copper. (I'm still not clear on how the copper gets into cows, but some of the bad stuff comes from pesticide residue in the cow's drinking water.) Also, antibiotics are a problem, among them PENICILLIN, which I am allergic to. The article gave a chart with contaminants, some of which I can't pronounce, and SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR. These include oxidative stress (wtf?), renal dysfunction, and death. And those are just the copper-related symptoms. Call me a quack, but death is a pretty serious SYMPTOM.

I had reconciled myself to living with the threat of Mad Cow, now this.

It's enough to make a girl turn to tofu.

Peace, out...


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Somebody Gets It

I accidentally turned on Dr. Phil yesterday. Nothing against Dr. Phil, I'm sure he's a great guy and all, but I  don't do daytime TV. But, I'd stayed up far too late reading, slept in, and, as is my custom, I flipped on the TV while I had breakfast. I was outside my usual time slot for breakfast. Typically the news is on. That's a whole nother rant.

I was fumbling--pre-coffee, mind you--with the remote, trying to turn the channel, when I heard this guy say, "I tried that low-carb diet. I snapped."

He had my attention. I have SO been there. Several times, in fact.

I squinted at the sign for the day's episode. "The Ultimate Fat Debate."

Oh. Dear. Tara.

They had my attention.

The guy who was undone by the low carb diet turned out to be a comedian, John Pinette. This guy is FUNNY, and he is so after my own heart. Talking about his personal trainer he says, "I don't do ups. Sit ups, push-ups, chin-ups... I do downs. I can sit down, lie down...gimme a cheeseburger, I''ll wolf it down..." Some of his clips are available online. In another clip from this routine, he says, (as I have often maintained to The Queen of Pain herself) "Ups defy gravity. Gravity is a law, and I obey the law."

Aside from the comedian, Dr. Phil had a panel, and I gotta say, they weren't nearly as entertaining. Although, there were a few places where I thought they were going to go all Jerry Springer. That trainer chick from The Biggest Loser, was on, along with some guy with a shirt that said "No Chubbies." They were squaring off against a group of VOLUPTOUS women from groups like The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. These women were (justifiably) NOT HAPPY with the chap in the "No Chubbies" shirt. I couldn't look away.

But, I did hie me to Jazzercise yesterday, and defied gravity one more time.

Peace, out...


Thursday, April 01, 2010

You Can't Tell That Here

I went home last week, to Faith, the little town of about six hundred, with one caution light, where I grew up, and where my parents, my brother and his family, and a slew of other relatives still live. I got into the whole ancestry thing about a year ago and was shocked to find out how many people in that town I'm related to and never knew it. I digress...

Dad is retired, and mostly he spends his days looking up imaginary symptoms on Web MD. He needs a hobby. Mom refuses to retire, mostly because staying home doesn't look all that attractive. Anyway, Dad and I went to The Faith Soda Shop for breakfast one morning--several mornings, actually. Side note: One would think that somebody who spends hours a day on health-related websites would stop ordering sausage and egg sandwiches with mayo for breakfast, but not my daddy. I'm just saying...

One morning, we walked into The Shop, and the couple who'd lived around the curve from us my entire childhood sat in a booth just inside the door. I graduated with their oldest son (and played in the creek with him, and fought with him, and love him like a brother). Their faces lit up when they saw me. You can't find that just anywhere...

I said, "I'd know these folks anywhere," and went over to chat. I hugged them, and they hugged me back, and it felt like I'd never left. There were a few other familiar faces in The Shop that morning. After we'd eaten, Dad and I made our way to the register to pay. We passed another pair of faces I knew well. This couple, parents of another guy I graduated with, lived a block and a half away from the house my parents still live in.

We exchanged the usual hey-it's-good-to-see-you kind of things. Then, Arlene patted my hand and said, "John just had a birthday, are you older, or younger than he is?" She was trying to pin down if I had already turned the same age as John, or if that was upcoming. She knew we were about a month apart.

I didn't answer immediately. Age-related chit-chat is not my favorite.

She said, "How old are you?"

I didn't miss a beat. I said, "Arlene, I'm twenty-four. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it."

She laughed out loud and said, "You can't tell that here."

Now, in Greenville when I tell people I'm twenty-four, they look at me oddly, like perhaps I'm Not Quite Right, but no one has ever called me on it. In Faith, most people have a general idea how old I am, and many can tell you exactly what year I was born.

My eyes misted up. There is something so compelling to me about being in that place where, even after I've been gone more than...err...a few years, folks know me. Makes me think of that Cheers song...

I love Greenville. I do. We have friends here, and a lot of Jim's family lives here. There's a beautiful downtown, with a river running through it, and restaurants of every description. There's culture. Diversity. Costco.

But, on any given day, if I walk into any restaurant on Main Street, odds are, there won't be a soul in the place who knows me, or can tell you approximately how old I am, or remembers the time I painted the old shed in the backyard five different colors (on the outside) and turned it into a weird sort of clubhouse where I could have hang out with my friends with minimal adult supervision.

Lord, I'm homesick.

Peace, out...


P.S. This is NOT an invitation for my Greenville friends and family to discuss my age. The official age of all Jazzercisers is 24. It's a rule.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's No Wonder We're So Screwed Up

On long car trips, I occasionally wax philosophic. I ponder the big questions. Last Monday, as we were speeding along some interstate or other on our way to Nashville, Jim The Husband (AKA Sugar), remarked how it felt like SPRING was in the air, even though it was still cold, and the trees still bare. Something in the air smelled of possibility.

This made me ponder the whole cycle of life thing--new beginnings, things sprouting anew from the dormant womb of Mother Earth...okay, I know, I went around the bend there, but you get the idea. The cyclical nature of the universe captured my imagination. Everything important is round. The Earth, the sun, Godiva hazelnut oysters--okay, they aren't really round, but they are roundish.

Things go 'round in circles... Everything has a natural beginning and end...

Of course, I went off on a tangent. If everything starts anew in spring, WHY DOESN'T THE NEW YEAR BEGIN ON MARCH 20th?

I asked Sugar about this, but he was busy fiddling with his Blackberry and wasn't paying good attention just then. He did mutter something about the Mayan calendar actually being more accurate according to some folks

Now THERE'S a thought that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. We haven't seen the movie yet--it's in our Netflix queue. But if the previews are any indication, it doesn't end happily.

Now, you may wonder here if I paid attention in school, or perhaps went to school in one of those Southern districts that gets so much attention in studies and whatnot because children can't read. The answers are yes, and no, respectively. Any gaps in my education I blame on that bicycle accident when I was eight where I got the bad concussion. It impacted my memory. Some things I simply cannot remember.

Which is why I am so thankful for Google.

For any of the rest of you who suffered head injuries as a child, daydreamed in class, or possibly attended a sub-par school district, January (named for Janus, the Roman god of doors) was not always the first month in the Gregorian calendar. March was, originally. Ha!

It was changed around 450 BC because that's when counsuls were chosen or some such. (Yes, this is an oversimplification, but y'all can Google for the details if you want them.)

Between politicians monkeying with our calendar because of elections, and springing us forward to save energy, our systems are completely out of balance with nature. It's no wonder we can't solve the big problems like HEALTH CARE and WORLD PEACE. We're fundamentally screwed up.

On a side note, I did get the Tweety Bird Yellow out of my hair.

Peace, out...


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I Cannot Think With All This Blonde Hair

Hair color is not an exact science. Even the colorist who has been making you ash blonde with platinum highlights for many years--okay, not THAT many--can accidentally make your hair yellow.

I know, because this happened to me, and despite two rounds of toner, I still look like Tweety Bird. And now I'm out of town, so the HIGHLY SKILLED colorist who accidentally made my hair bright yellow can't do anything else to fix it. (She really, really is highly skilled--I'm not being snarky at all because I have a YELLOW HEAD.)

It doesn't seem prudent to walk into someone's shop who's never done my hair before and ask for color correction, so I'm stuck until I can get back home.

The worst part is, I think all the chemicals have effected my brain. I can't seem to string two sentences together. Everything I write I end up tossing the next day. I'm either brain damaged, or just in such a foul mood over what I see in the mirror I can't function.

Either way, I'm on the verge of heading to Walgreens for some L'Oreal.

Monday, March 01, 2010

On My Own Recognizance

So I'm back in Indiana this week, last week was Kentucky. I've had no access to Jazzercise--well except for the DVD's I can use in the hotel room. I actually did this one day last week when the exercise room was full. Doing Jazzercise moves on carpet is less than optimal, but I tried. (Aerobic shoes don't slide on carpet.)

I've been using the treadmill, elliptical machine, and/or bike for an hour every day except the one, and I have to say, exercise is painfully dull when you're watching the news instead of moving to the groove. Also, NO ONE in the exercise room taunts me with a microphone, or yells when I slack off. I've come to depend on that.

I really don't enjoy watching the news anyway. The only time I watch it is when I'm in the exercise room and someone else has it on. As if exercise wasn't depressing enough...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

Last year around this time, Precariously Perky Julie devised a particularly brutal Jazzercise set. It was full of what my husband refers to as "Man-Hater" songs. Songs with lots of punching and kicking to lyrics like "Why'd you lie to me...good for nothing type of brother" (Anastacia) and "I'm not in love" (not the original by 10 CC but a remake).

The Queen of Pain used to have sets like this back during the unfortunate phase between He Whose Name Cannot be Uttered and when she found her True Love.

PPJ roared and  foamed at the mouth while teaching this set. At the time, I thought we really needed to find poor PPJ a man because we were all paying the price for what the last one had done--she like to put me in traction. I started to blog about it, but, then I thought, the poor girl is obviously upset about a recent breakup, so I didn't.

Fast forward to this year's Valentine's Day set. Same songs. Same growling. Same pain. At one pint, she shouted, "Angry hips!" WTF? I allowed as how this set seemed familiar, and I asked her, "Jules, are you mad at the same man from last year, or is this a new one?"

"ALL MEN!" she howled.

Hmm... this explains it. Women who look like Julie are without a man for one of three reasons: One, their romantic interests are not of the masculine variety (pretty sure that's not the case here); Two, they have some sort of screw loose, and no matter how gorgeous they are, they keep running men off (you know, women who boil rabbits and such--again, not the case--PPJ is a sweetheart when she's not kicking our rear ends); or, Three, some jackass has put them off men for good. They simply have decided they do not want another man, have adopted multiple cats, and watch a lot of reality TV.

This is our Julie.

This situation is not irreversible, but it requires a special man to repair the damage done to a woman's psyche after she has been jackassed. I'm thinking that the clientele of Jazzercise of Taylors should perhaps mount a search before next Valentine's Day. And, round up a posse to hunt down whoever did this to PPJ. We are paying for his jackassery.

Time for my aspirin...


Monday, February 08, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Okay, so I wasn't thrilled about coming home (where I have to make my own bed, breakfast, and afternoon cookies) but now that we're here, I'm warming up to the place.

No matter how nice the folks are everywhere else, OUR PEOPLE are here. Some of them, anyway. Our family's a little scattered, but there's a clan of our relatives and friends in Greenville, and I do miss them when we're gone.

Also, hotel beds have come a long way, but none of them is quite like the one in our room at home.

And, while hotels have treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, and indoor pools, at home, I can go to Jazzercise and dance while being mocked by an insanely thin ALIEN. As I've mentioned a time or two, The Queen of Pain is gorgeous (but once again completely flat-chested now that she's finished the final phase of her most recent birthing ritual--no more shimmying in her class--BLESS HER HEART). But, I think she'd be a little less cranky if she ate something besides salads and grilled chicken with steamed vegetables every day. You just know she's NEVER had a Mega Moo Mocha Moo Latte.

I want credit towards my 100 club T-shirt--which now takes 150 classes to earn--for all that huffing and puffing I did on treadmills, etc., but the Queen of Pain is having none of it. This is patently unfair, as I can't attend class while out of town, but have been working our regularly--okay, semi-regularly. I think I'll appeal this ruling to Precariously Perky Julie. I'm not holding my breath...

Off to take some aspirin and soak in the tub.

It's good to be home.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

I May Have Gypsy Blood

Last year I spent some time on Ancestry.com tracing my family tree and Jim's. Okay, Jim is part Cherokee, and I really wanted to see if we could document this. No, I was not angling for a casino check to support my writing habit.

Anyway, I found no evidence of gypsy blood on my side of the family, but there was one branch I couldn't trace past four generations, even though we ordered the DNA test that was supposed to put you in touch with your dead relatives.

I'm now thinking perhaps these folks were gypsies...nomads...vagabonds.

Because I am loving this mobile life style. We're headed home tomorrow, and I DON'T WANT TO GO. The Hilton Garden Inn and/or a Hampton Inn now feels more like home to me than my own house. I have the system down here. And I don't ever have to clean or cook...


Maybe we'll sell the house and just live in hotels. They even have a party room for Karaoke night...

I wish this didn't appeal to me so much.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Once More, From the Top

Well, at least this year I got my first post in during the month of January. It takes me a while to recover from the holidays, and with seven family (and several friend) birthdays in January, it feels like the holidays last until February.

Anyway, I'm traveling with Jim, using the hotel room in whatever city he's in as my personal writer's retreat. We're in Warsaw, IN right now, and today I worked in the swimming pool and spa room, which is all glass, and watched it snow. Yes, I do know how lucky I am. I really, really do.

Along with the usual New Year's resolutions, I've vowed to update the blog a little more frequently. It's really a waste of fodder not to, because so much material just falls right into my lap by virtue of my being a little nutty, and 98% of my family being certifiable. (Note: If you are reading this, and you are a member of my family, no, of course I did not mean you! YOU fall into the 2% of my normal blood relations.)

Things just happen to me... For instance, I always sleep with a glass of water by the bed in case I wake up thirsty. Lots of people do this, right? Well, when we're traveling, it's usually a bottle of water. (Yes, I know about the landfills and whatnot, but I just cannot drink warm tap water from the bathroom in the hotel room, out of a glass that has been gathering germs in the bathroom for who knows how long, no matter how clean it looks. I'm SO SORRY about the landfills, and will try to reduce my carbon footprint in other ways as much as possible.)

Anyway, night before last, I woke up, partially, and reached for my water bottle. When no water gurgled out of the bottle into my parched mouth, I tipped it up a little more.

No water.

I tipped it back further, and squeezed the bottle a little.

No water.

It took me a minute, in my groggy state to figure out that the cap must be on the bottle. I tried to unscrew it, but was having trouble. Then I noticed that the top of the water bottle didn't feel right. And WHAT was that goopy stuff on the side of my mouth and on my hand??

Well, turns out it was Jergens Total Nourishment, and I had been trying to drink my lotion.

I ran to the bathroom, rinsed out my mouth, and downed a whole bottle of Dasani.

I am now careful to put the lotion on the far side of the nightstand.

But this stuff happens to everyone, right?