Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Short List of Don'ts.

Don't leave lip gloss on the table.
Don't leave candy on the countertops.
Don't leave paper in the printer tray.
Don't leave the computer on at night.
Don't leave the DVD player unattended. Ever.
Don't leave Dr. Pepper in a glass anywhere in the house alone.
Don't say the word "Starbucks" if you're not actually going there now.
And finally, don't attempt to anticipate where the mind of the 3 year old is going next...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dear Santa, I'm ready for presents again.

For some reason this year, Christmas advertising began before Halloween was over. And at the crack of dawn on November 1st, mass retailers and retailers in masse blew the dust off their ornaments and unboxed their trees, a full three weeks before Thanksgiving! Perhaps I'm telling my age here, well okay, I'm 33...but when I was growing up we didn't think about Christmas until Thanksgiving was over and done with, all of us fat and full on broccoli casserole, macaroni and cheese, Aunt Sharon's famous slaw, and a host of other things that family and friends made and brought to dinner at my grandmother's house. Every Thanksgiving after we piled onto the couches and chairs, our bellies popping out like surprised eyes, someone would ask one of us (the children at that time) what Santa was going to bring us for Christmas. At that point, the ball was rolling. Talk of Santa and Rudolph and sleigh bells (even if there was no snow in Georgia) and of course PRESENTS was non-stop until December 25th. We'd walk down in the woods behind my grandmother's house and check out the trees, looking for the perfect one to chop down when we weren't so full anymore. If it had rained enough that year we'd have a nice full tree with no empty spots that we had to fill with decorations, but if there had been a drought, we'd wind up with a little Charlie Brown-ish, scraggly tree that we usually liked better anyway. Now when I was a kid, of course I wanted presents, but I never really got that many. At some point along the way to becoming an adult, I turned off the "want presents" switch and decided that I'd give to others and that would be my source of happiness and fulfillment. For years this was how it went, and for years I was perfectly happy. Several years in a row my husband and I "adopted" two foster children that one of our friends was caring for. We didn't give each other gifts because we didn't have that much money back then (still don't). But with the money we had, we bought the children new clothes, new Nike shoes, school supplies, and we even gave them our gently used but very nice Trek mountain bikes one year. Their eyes lit up like new stars in the sky. We had them over for dinner and they spent the night. And as undomesticated as I was, I even cooked for them! That was a great feeling and I admit, probably did surpass the pleasure I could have gotten from just getting presents. Of course. The last three years we've concentrated on our child and what we could do to make Christmas special for her. When she was only three months old, for her very first Christmas, we bought her a tree and a fancy schmancy set of colorful lights that had 8 different blinking selections! She would sit in her swing and stare at those lights for hours. The next Christmas she got the tree again, with the blinky lights, and we got her the Radio Flyer Retro Rocket whose seat vibrates when it BLASTS OFF TO JUPITER! Last year she got a whirlwind trip through Toys R Us and we dropped over a hundred dollars on little things to delight and interest her. And we decorated the tree again with the blinky lights. Oh yes, Christmas is fun when you're giving to others. I've enjoyed it all very much.

But I've decided that all good things must come to an end.

This year, I want presents! I want something for myself! I want a real present, wrapped in pretty paper and a nice bow under the tree all for me. And I don't want to know what it is beforehand. The years that my husband has given me a present, save 2 out of 12, I've known what it was because I've been forced to pick it out. Not this year. This year I will do something I've not done since I was seven years old.

I will make a list.

Now list making is not my strong point, you must understand. I don't even make grocery store lists. I never made lists at work. I never made lists when I was in college. Lists confuse me, generally speaking. I can never decide which order to put things in and it seems like I'm wasting time when I could be just sporadically and spontaneously working on things that I could put on the list if I wanted to. If you have a list, you gotta check things off. If there's no list, then I can leave projects unfinished in case I get bored later! Never know.

But this year I'm going to depart from my usual habits altogether. No Ms. Nice Guy. No Ms. Benevolent. None of this "oh don't worry about me" stuff. Uh uh. I want presents. Oh I imagine that I'll get the kid something, because she's cute and cuddly and that's my job as a full fledged adult parent, but I still intend to receive, receive, receive. :)

Here's the list so far:

Tiffany Frank Gerhy "fish" bracelet (the one with the black rubber cord).

Apple IPhone.

Anything STARBUCKS of course.

Patagonia Cordalette pants (in chanterelle)

Patagonia retro-x vest (in any color but natural)

2 new tires for my car

The new Bruce Springsteen CD.

Let's see....that's all for now! If I think of anything else, SANTA, I'll let you know. You can thank all those retailers and gadget makers and advertisers for giving me so much more time to think about presents this year!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Did I try?

When I started this blog I stated that I wanted to be a famous writer and at the time was working on something that I realized quite soon would turn into a real manuscript. I thought it was fun to talk about being an author, to hold the fat stack of papers in my hand, to smell the ink after I'd printed it out on my not-so-fancy inkjet printer. I've wanted to write a book since I was thirteen years old. What I have now is a document that could potentially be a book although now I'd have to go back and add stuff to it, simply because I've lived more of my life since finishing it the first week of August. Things have changed. I have changed.

But in my quest to be a famous writer, I found much more satisfaction just doing this blog. People who are serious about actually publishing a book do much, much more than what I did on behalf of trying to "publish" my book. I emailed an acquaintance who is a local book publisher, and whose wedding I just so happened to be at. I told him I was writing a book and he expressed a small interest in me - we at one time were going to meet, but we never did. He never was told what the book was about and never read one word of it. I don't think I ever even mentioned the title to him. I emailed a lady with Skirt Books and told her I had a memoir and she gave me some advice: memoirs are hard to sell. It was never about "selling" the book anyway. I got excited simply because I was able to write over 50 thousand words. That's quite a feat. Made my fingers sore!

People who are actually trying to publish a book get agents, hire editors, craft proposals for advertising and marketing, have money to put into the process and have much more experience than me. Not only did I not have the time to do all of that, I didn't have the financial resources either. I got excited about the prospect: about what it would be like to hold my book in my hands. But I didn't actually try to get it published. I have no rejection letters and there's not a book by me on the bookstore shelves. If you try, one of those two things will happen.

Ariel Gore says that when you write a "manuscript" that it's a good start. That the manuscript becomes something to work with. You can't make bread without kneading some dough. So a first draft of something that started as a personal reflection one night in late June and grew to be over fifty thousand words in one month isn't a publishable thing anyway. I knew this. I asked smart people and they told me this. But I wasn't let down because in all that typing, and in all of that self discovery, I noticed something. I'm already a writer. I don't need to publish anything to be a writer. I don't need to make money to be a writer. All I have to do is write and have fun doing it. I'm happy with this blog. If anything else ever happens to me and somehow I have a book deal, it'll be just as much a suprise to me as it is to you!

Perhaps that is disappointing news to some of the people who may have been following the excitement in the air when I first started this blog. I'd still like to be a famous writer though. Let's not forget about that...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things I thought I'd never say and more.

The number one thing that came out of MY mouth that I never ever thought I'd say: "Baby don't rub the grape under your nose before you eat it!" And one thing that gave me great pleasure to say (after my 3 year old tells me not to tell her what to do): "Listen, I'm your mommy and I'll tell you what to do until the day I die." I still smile when I think of that...it is as if she sealed her fate.

I have gained a new and tremendous respect for women who stay out of work to raise their kids all by themselves. It's not easy, but it is very rewarding. Lots more cuddling, lots more hugging, lots more spontaneity and the bond grows deeper the more time you share with them. In my first month as a stay at home mommy I've discovered the library, I've walked the parks, I've cleaned my house and I've cooked more meals than I did in the past ten years. I've remembered my grandmother's funny lines and teachable moments, and I've awakened a part of myself that I didn't really know was there. I've become more loving, more soft, more honed in to this little child that I brought into the world. I've never thought about exactly how to teach a child to recognize letters or draw a house. I've learned that washable markers come out of clothes easier than soft young skin and I've found many a grape floating in my toilet.

I don't know what's around the bend for me, but however long this lasts I'll hang on to every minute. I love my little boo, no matter how many times I have to watch Peter Pan to keep the peace. Tick tock.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween

Trick or treat, smell my feet, gimme something good to eat. Here's the sweet little Candy Corn all ready to go out for her very first trick or treating adventure! I made that little candy corn thing myself. After my first two weeks of being a stay at home mother (ahhh!), which of course I never, ever thought I'd for one second be, I am starting to get the hang of playing, being crafty, using my imagination again, and teaching my little tot about the ins and outs of the world. I bought her a Memory game and taught her how to play it and she's beaten me at every game since! Seriously. Forget being smarter than a 5th grader. I'm just gonna try to outsmart my 3 year old...