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August 2008

My mullet

DSCF4578 DSCF4579 DSCF4583This one's for you Rosie! At first I was like "no way am I posting a picture of myself looking like this. Are you nuts?! Ex-boyfriends and high school arch rivals could Google me and then what?!"

Then I realized the whole point of my blog is, you know, the naked truth. So here it is:my "Keith Richards meets Pat Benatar and goes on a bender" hairstyle.

Thank God for your supportive comments and a sense of humor or else I would not be getting out of bed until this hideous haircut grew out. Matt last night said he blames himself.

"If I'd been better in the past about noticing your haircuts you wouldn't have needed to say 'make him notice.'" Then he sang a little riff from Pat Benatar's "Hit me with your best shot." Funny, funny guy. Sam also thought it was hilarious cracking up in his high chair. I have a sneaky suspicion these two will bond repeatedly in mocking my little mishaps.


Retro is not always cool

Keith richardsThis is my new haircut. I really, really wish I was kidding. In fact, it looks worse than this because it's not the 70s and because I am not nearly as cool as Keith Richards. I don't know what kind of crack my favorite hair person was smoking when she went all Edward Scissorhands on me but Oh. My. God.

Even polite people try to tell me "it's not that bad" but helllllloooo I'm a Pisces, I see what you're not saying in your eyes, and it's something like this: dear God. What happened to you?

Amy asked if I was going to get a refund. Refund? Hell, I'm trying to figure out if I can sue for emotional damages. It's that bad.


Three things

I like alliterations. And lists. And having little "things" that I do to make me feel like I'm being the organized me I want to be.

I'm just a dork like that.

The three things originally started with my trying to pare down my "organize everything" goal to realistic chunks. Eventually my goal simply became this: don't need to move ten things to do one thing. For example, when cleaning the tray of Sam's highchair, it's nice to have a clear counter to lay it on. Or, when plugging in the computer, it's nice not to have three gadgets (and their cords) near each outlet. Or ... you get the drift. I decided to try to do three things, no matter how small, as I leave each room to see if that didn't add up to make a difference. I am amazed. I think in some circles this is called "picking up after yourself." Novel concept. Not that my momma didn't try to teach me all this stuff.

Three things I did work-wise this morning: started outlining Meet Mac, almost finished Chapter 5, rough, roughdraft of my column which is suddenly due a week early thanks to an unforeseen change in travel plans.

Three things I'm into right now: samples of sugar-free Malibu Rum (alcohol free) coffee flavoring, Snapfish and planning for my new office.


Isabella

First and last part of Chapter 1 - introducing Isabella

     “Well, she’s right about new people being obvious around here,” Camille muttered as she smeared grape jam on her whole wheat, dry toast. My sister Camille figures calories aren’t as bad if she adds them herself. She is obsessed with calories. I am not. You would know this if you saw what I ordered for breakfast: hot chocolate, with extra whipped cream, French toast with lots of syrup and powdered sugar. Also, I’m thinking about ordering dessert. Mom said not to push my luck but I think they’d give in on just about anything at this point because they want to make us all okay with The Big Move.

You are probably wondering what is The Big Move? It’s the reason we, the Edwards family, are having breakfast in what I think is called a “diner.” We are at this restaurant called Maggie’s Place because we have no kitchen, no food and no one to cook it for us. I can honestly tell you I have never eaten in a place like this. There are kitchen gadgets from the olden days hanging from the ceiling. Like, all over. Maybe they weren’t even called gadgets back then; it’s things like egg beaters, whisks, and other things I’ve never seen my mother use. Also there are signs for businesses that probably closed before I was born decorating the walls. They may, or may not, have been dusted since they hung in their original buildings. I love it. I am not sure if it is the restaurant I love so much or the fact that my mom and sisters look totally sicked out. My dad, as usual, is trying to make us look on the bright side. It is very obvious he feels guilty for making us move out here. This is how I know I will get dessert if I ask for it.

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As Camille and Dad took turns reading parts of the new reporter lady’s letter out loud, I felt sorry for her. It is hard to be new. But at least she is an adult and doesn’t have to worry about making friends and stuff.  It is a lot easier for adults than kids to move to a new place. Well, adults besides my mom. I am a little worried about her. I love her but she is not like the other adults. As far as I can tell, most adults know how to take care of themselves. I’m not so sure my mom does. And that is why I’m not sure about her having to take care of all of us. Luckily, I ordered a big breakfast so I won’t get hungry again for awhile.


Emma

First and last parts of Chapter 2 - introducing Emma

Good thing I’d already gotten the job because the interview was a disaster. It’s fair to say I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into when I took this internship and rented an apartment site unseen in Vineyard, Oregon, population 832. It’s so small they can confirm at city hall that it is in fact 832 people because even though Albert and Ellen Murphy passed away in the spring, a new family in town balanced things out. This is good news, I am told, because it takes a long time to get the signage corrected.

            All I knew was that I had to get out of town and on with my life stat.  I didn’t have time to shop around for the perfect internship like my roommates, one of whom ended up staying in our apartment and working at the Herald actually earning a paycheck or my other one who scored a cush job working for a public relations office in downtown Seattle for the Experience Music Project. Free concerts every weekend, mandatory engagements at swanky restaurants and fancy bars for networking where just a part of a day’s work for Talia these days.

            Then there’s me. Instead of beautiful Bellingham Bay or lively downtown Seattle, my, uh, pad overlooks the alley between my currently-under-construction apartment building and the grocery/deli/video store. I can’t complain about this to anyone because it would beg the obvious question: what the hell were you thinking?

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            Frankie mocking me, just made the assignment more stressful. I’d prefer writing an actual article about anything over this damn “Meet the Intern” letter. Roman wanted me to write all about why I chose Vineyard. But I didn’t think the truth would make a very good first impression. Plus, it’s private. I’m here to report other people’s secrets, not my own. 


Nicholas

First and last parts of Chapter 3 - introducing Nicholas

My clothes are still in boxes and my business cards aren’t back from the printers but I’ve already had my first face-off with the crotchetiest of Vineyard City councilors. Who do these yokels think they are anyway? I’m proposing something that will put money in their pockets and breathe some life in to this hicky little town. Instead of being grateful they act like I’m offending them for suggesting the town could use the revenue for things like sidewalks, an updated water treatment plant and maybe even pay for some police officers. Not that the volunteers don’t do a fine job, but come on. The one officer on duty gets called to deal with everything from the classic cat in tree scenario to—this is no lie—goat roping.

True story. Our first week in town I was walking around Main Street with Isabella, my youngest, scoping out the pool and park when I saw a uniformed officer chasing a goat around the park with a rope dangling desperately from his right hand. Kids looked on calling out instructions between cannon balls . Some of them, I’m sure, were expert calf ropers. In fact, it was one of the teenaged lifeguards who finally roped the goat, wrestled it to the ground and tied its legs together as my daughter and I looked on in astonishment.

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I left the meeting feeling confident things would eventually go my way. They almost always did. To tell you the truth, it was rare for me to have setbacks in my professional life. My personal life however, is a completely different story.

On the surface everything looks fine, I suppose. We are the kind of happy you see in the pictures that come with purchased picture frames. Oh, we’ve had our good times. Plenty of them. Just not recently. And by recently I mean in the last, say, decade. The crazy part was I didn’t even realize anything was wrong. I didn’t ever stop to think about the state of our marriage. It just was. I counted on Vanessa to do what she always did, just as she counted on me to do the same. And then ten years happened. We had money, a bigger house and older kids. And the sex life of nuns.  I don’t think either one of us was truly satisfied with how things turned out but what was there to complain about? We were healthy, financially secure, and had all the reason in the world to be happy. But we weren’t. Worse than that, we just kind of accepted it without talking about it.

We might’ve gone along like that forever were it not for a business deal that took me across the country to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. I wouldn’t describe myself as a very spiritual person, but when I drove through Eola Hills, I felt like I was home. I was more myself that weekend in Oregon than I’d ever been before. Except for one major mistake. I cringe to remember it but can’t bring myself to feel actual regret because it was the catalyst for everything that followed.

It’s hard to explain what happened exactly. Even to myself. And especially to Vanessa. I’ve tried over and over again. I told her about the shock of seeing my pale, haggard face in the tiny American Airlines bathroom mirror. I was like the slow unraveling of my sanity finally came to a head and it was clear what I had to do. Crazy as it was.

So here we are, across the country and moved out of our old life on the threshold of our new one. I’m not necessarily proud of how it all came to be, but I can honestly say that as I look around the farm and watch my girls exploring a new part of the country, a new way of life, I’ve never been happier.

 


Vanessa

First & Last part of Chapter 4 - introducing Vanessa

I’ve had enough meltdowns to know one was coming. It was getting harder to take a deep breath and too early in the day to start taking the edge off.  My stomach growled. I was starving but I’d gotten out of cooking breakfast by faking a headache so I couldn’t very well join the kids and my husband at the table. I surveyed the chaos around me: half-opened boxes, crumpled up newspapers and piles of bubble wrap. How in the hell am I going to figure out how to put this home together? The panicky feeling rose in my chest. I grabbed my purse off the counter as I came through the kitchen and announced I was headed into town for some groceries to make dinner.  Nicholas did that thing with his eyebrows that lets me know he’s not quite sure if he should believe me.  I flashed him my best prom queen smile and bailed.

I swear to god if the kids ask me one more time “where does this go?” I’m going to slap them. A real leave-fingerprints-on-cheek kind of slap.  These flashes of rage come more and more lately. They scare me but I’m not sure what to do about them besides try to get away from whatever causes them. Which, unfortunately, seems to be the girls. And my husband.

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“Well it ain’t me, babe. Cook your own damn dinner, you know what I mean?” I couldn’t tell if he was irritated or amused. He looked me up and down, pausing for a moment before summing me up, butcher style:  “Let me guess. You don’t do raw meat. Never touched it before in your life, right? So what brings you to my booth? Your chef quit?” I fingered the edge of my thumbnail. What is the matter with me? Instead of telling him off I felt myself welling up. I turned to leave.

“Never mind, then. Thanks for your time.”

“Wait. Wait. Wait,” he rose. “Are you… are you crying?”  He was around the booth with his arm on my shoulder before I could get away. I shook my head and tried to hide my face.        

“Bullshit, you are too. Oh, hell. Here.” He held up the edge of his white apron. “Don’t worry it’s clean.”  Before I could stop myself, to my horror—and probably his—I spilled my guts to the butcher. An hour later I came home feeling slightly embarrassed but pleased to initiate phase one of the secret cooking class Mac agreed to. It was a compromise from my original plan but will do for now. All I have to do is use the tongs Mac loaned me—until I unpack the ones I pretended to have—to put the steaks in plastic bags with the sauce he gave me. This is called marinating. Then, I put the bags in the fridge and tell Nicholas barbequing is his deal. The girls, I figure, are old enough to start doing some kitchen chores and should be able to manage to turn the vegetables I bought into a nice salad. There. Dinner’s done. I am going to have to figure out a better system soon, though, because the thought of going through this three times a day for the rest of my life makes me want to make my cocktail a double.

 


Changing points of view

After working on the format and outlines for Pants on Fire for what feels like forever, I think I am maybe starting to hit a rhythm. Daily, steady progress seems to be the key for me. My new goal makes me laugh but it's at least 1,000 words a day. Or 300. Every day until I type The End.

Isn't every day a little excessive?

Well, no Oprah. Actually, I found that stepping away from the project for more than a full day screwed up my momentum. As did waiting until I had big pockets of time to work.

And why the jump between 1,00 and 300 words as a goal?

I'm glad you asked, Oprah. Same thing. I'm motivated by goals that challenge me but are still "doable." Ideally I'll have more 1,000 + word days but frankly, for me, some days 300 words on top of brushing my teeth and starting a load of laundry is a huge. I mean in addition to keeping the kid alive.

So this morning I hit my goal: 1,200 words. I'm finished with the first two chapters and most of chapters 3 & 4. Each one is written from a different character's perspective. Initially I had Isabella and Emma in first person and Nicholas and Vanessa in third. Which was weird. I was nervous about writing a male character in first person and I thought it was really weird to have only one POV in third person. So the last couple weeks I've been working at revising Vanessa and Nicholas' introductory chapters. I think I finally got it and can keep plotting along.


Off the cuff psych profiles

Matt doesn't read my blog but I told him I was hoping for comments on this and he says: Oh, I don't have to read your blog to have comments. What's the question and I'll give you comments. He surprised me with the following super-detailed pseudo psychological profiles on my characters.

  • Nicholas: He goes by Nicholas instead of Nick? Hmm. Kinda uptight, tall, thin, maybe balding a little bit, wire rimmed glasses, decent looking guy – kinda prissy, comes off a a little prissy but actually pretty down to earth. Sober, likes to laugh but doesn’t do it just at the drop of a hat. Professional but kind of hippy dippy, kinda granola. Matt has started saying "hippy dippy" more since he read my first couple drafts. It is funny to me to hear him unintentionally quoting one of my characters.

  • Vanessa – urban, very curly hair, pretty but maybe a little bit on the trashy side – like she wears a leather skirt when it’s maybe not appropriate. Probably pretty volatile. Acts sweet but she can turn on you. Probably not a professional, checkered past. Vanessa’s the girl who offends your mom when they first meet and you marry her anyway. And then you pay for it.  
  • Virginia – how old? 40s? Okay: A professional, probably has a couple kids either teenagers or out of the house, successful career she went back to – dresses professionally maybe more formally then the environment requires but not over the top. The least casual in the office probably. Doesn’t wear much makeup, not because she’s granola but because it’s not something she values. When she thinks of herself she doesn’t see her own face. Very friendly, almost flamboyant when she’s in a good mood but her relationships are either professional or casual and always fairly superficial.
  • Emma:16, blond, kind of an airhead, so light a blond that you almost question if it’s a platinum bleach, very happy and positive to the point where some people take it as unprofessional or too familiar maybe. She deals with nervousness or fear through laughing even at inappropriate moments, like her grandma’s funeral when she was six. And not just laughing but laughing uncontrollably at some random stimulus that strikes her funny.
  • Ginny -  Jenny, like a female donkey? Oh my gosh, honey. Well, Ginny is … wow what is Ginny? Ginny is an over achiever, would be called a workaholic except that a great deal of her overachieving is spent in her own garden or something … she’s most comfortable in denim button up shirts and overalls or pinstriped button up shirt … what she feels most herself in. Really energetic. One of those people who seems to have a ton of momentum already going when other people are just showing up for work, she happily stays until other people leave without ever drawing attention the fact that she’s staying and then goes home and does her thing with her goats and her garden.
  • Isabella – (Vanessa's daughter, right?) looks up to Vanessa and attempts to model herself after her but recognizes qualities she doesn’t like and doesn’t want to embrace. She’s really pretty but doesn’t think she’s as pretty as her mom because she doesn’t dress like her mom but she doesn’t like how it feels to dress like her mom so she always feels like she’s the ugly duckling or something. And because of that she works really hard to win approval from her mom.  Pretty smart and talented, she musical, and maybe even a really pretty voice. She’s kind of shy doesn’t make friends really easily maybe has some other family members that she’s really close to, she gives the impression of feeling out of place wherever she is, even by herself.