Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Need a Sash

I've earned a badges...

"Fictional BFF" badge.  "Ethan Emerson," my cooler-than-cool male protag, is my fictional bff.  Only my real-life bff, Jessy, knows how deranged I am when it comes to him, and it will stay that way (if she knows what's good for her).
"Query Letter" badge as explained by Merit Badger: "How to write a query letter: Rip still-beating heart from chest. Attach to paper. (Use rubber bands or binder clips, not staples.) Insert into envelope. Don’t forget to enclose an SASE!"  Yep, pretty much.  That's what I've been up to for a few months.
Ah, but the above leads to this: the "Manuscript Request" badge, and nothing feels better than when I get the request for full or partial!  Got one last week that made me sock my husband and step on my daughter's toe as I hugged her.  Good times.

All badges from

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

But What Does it Mean?!?!?!

My daughter had a recent, long-term assignment: a mini biography about a famous person of her choosing, on a Wheaties box.  (Very ingenious assignment, I must say.)  My daughter, being the cool cat that she is, chose Jack White; she's been his #1 child fan since she was in pre-k.  Honestly.  She heard "Hello Operator," and she was gone.  I now have all the music on my iPod, but there was once a time when, if I wanted to hear The White Stripes or The Raconteurs (The Dead Weather wasn't in the picture back then), I'd have to go into her room and snake the desired CD--she has them all.  She has posters of Jack all over her room, and she also loves anything and everything red, white, and black.  Diehard.

Back to the Wheaties box, now that I've proven her adoration.

We sat in front of the computer, searching for pictures of Jack for the front of her box, and we came to one I particularly liked.  Her reply was, "Oh, yeah--I saw that one at school today.  People thinks he looks like you in that picture.  They were like, 'Hey, Air, that one looks like your mom!'  I agree--he does look like you in that one."  Let me post the picture in question.  It is not my picture (obviously); I have no claim to it--I've lifted it from (credit when credit is due!), but there's no other way to show what I'm talking about without posting it alongside the picture of me...

Jack White

Okay.  It's the hair, right?  Honestly, I don't know how to translate this.  Should I be insulted?  Is this a good thing?  I still have no clue, but I think it's supposed to be a good thing, because Jack seems to be a popular dude in my daughter's school.  He's all kinds of awesome, anyway--talented to genius-level, artistic, and cute as all get-out (yes, mama is glad her kid's not a Bieber girl--the posters are much more to my liking ;)  ).  Alright, I resigned myself to it being a positive thing, and I moved along.  Until yesterday...

"We were discussing the color of your hair after school, and no one thinks it's dark brown.  It's black.  Everyone says so."  WTH?  Why am I a subject for fifth graders after school?  Are most moms talked about (other than "Your mama is so fat..." jokes)?  Am I a freak to them (most moms there don't talk to me, so it could be a distinct possibility)?  Am I a rockstar (sounds egotistical, but I was floored when a girl came up to me in the school hallway and asked if I was Air's mom, then proceeded to tell me that she'd been to my website and loves my fairies.  Truthfully, she said it like she wanted to ask for my autograph--how cool is that?  It completely shocked me, but it made my week.)?  And when I walk the halls of the school, if my daughter is close by, there is usually a chorus of "Hey Air!  There's your mom!  Your mom is here!" and taps to her shoulder.

But what does being the repeated topic of after school conversation mean?!?!?! Most people wouldn't think twice--"It's just a bunch of kids, for heaven's sake!"  They'd think.


Fifth grade was hard on me when I went through it.  I was "THE FAT KID."  And when kids talked about me, it was for nothing good.  In fact, even though I lost the weight before my freshman year, I turned goth in high school for that very reason--gave people something external to talk about, rather than give them the possibility of talking about something that bludgeoned the internal.  Back then, being odd was taboo.  Now, being different is the goal, and the purple hair that my friends and I got tortured for back in the day is even on Barbie.  Is there a possibility that, as an adult, the quiet eccentricity that I've maintained all these years (but that I've toned down to a respectable 30-something level) still doesn't resonate with the people who were the "elite" of my generation but earns me a spot of "cool" with their kids?  As a writer of Young Adult fiction, I can tell you that it'd make me proud if it were the case, because kids aren't "just" to me.  Kids are brutally honest and complex, and it takes something to earn their respect and attention (I was a teacher--I know this, not always with good outcomes).  

My past, I suppose, makes me wonder a little more than the next person about the "why" and the "what."  For now, though, I'll take the positive outlook on it all.  Being told I look like Jack White is far better than what I used to hear out of fifth grade mouths.  And if the kids who don't know me swing to thinking I'm "okay," maybe even a bit "cool," maybe one day my own will, too.  I doubt I'll ever hear it from her mouth, but maybe she'll at least think it.  After all, apparently I almost resemble her hero.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Next. Life. Watching. Through. Love. Start. Until.

Once again, I've waited for the blogging gods to hammer me with an least a to run with, easily; I've waited for a month--through a season changing and through many life things, but nothing.  And then something as random and banal as running a Facebook app happened.  The innocence of finding out the top words I use in my status updates became akin to me hitting some tarot reader's parlor.  My #1 used word revealed that I'm a true member of the Western world: "time," with my next top rounding out to be the names of my daughter and husband and the word "crow"--surprise.  But then an interesting pattern emerged from the chaos, and the toss of the dice and randomness of it all came together in a message for me.  Bundled into my top words was a particular string that's bounced between my brain and heart all night, all morning:

Next. Life. Watching. Through. Love. Start. Until.

There are times that it's easy for me to watch through love: when the Fall leaves glow like stained glass through my windows, so golden and orange in the soft Eastern sunlight, that my house is lit and warm because of it.  When my husband looks at me--really looks at me--and smiles, and I feel his love for me down to my pinkie toes, and my heart is full.  When things are going right and easy.  When money isn't tight.  When my loved ones are healthy and close.

But there are other times that I don't watch through love at all (and I will admit, I will never be Zen enough to look at certain people with love, just for their innate humanness--maybe that's for another lifetime...or six down the road.  Maybe.).  There's no watching through love going on when, despite the best planning and scheduling, the cat throws up and the dog needs out RIGHT NOW but first does her perfect-spot walk through of the yard, and I'm already late because my straightener tweaked my hair (and I blew 20 minutes I didn't have obsessed with fixing it--to no avail--only to give up worse than when I started), and I head downstairs where I pause to look at the outfit that my daughter chose, and I see flashbacks of Punky Brewster and imagine suspicions of other parents thinking neglect that make me have to go through the harangue of fussing with her to start again, and we finally get in the car and it's on "E." :::deep breath:::  Nope.  No warm glow of loving the moment there.

Or times when my back hurts, and I'd rather curl up and read or clean a toilet than make another night's dinner and hear how gross my daughter thinks it is.  Or when the walls of my home are closing in on me from the piles of stuff that my daughter and husband accrue and deposit for later.  I'm not going Stepford, but I wonder how my attitude would change, at least a little, if I consciously watched through love.  Time is arbitrary, and unless someone is dying, there's actually more than enough of least my daughter comes downstairs clothed, even on her most questionable fashion days--I'm not raising a kid who wants to push the nudity envelope yet--she's just...creative (and what am I always telling her?  Better to be "weird" than boring--I guess she listens!).  Dinner--it's for my people, to bring them close, keep them healthy.  And I have food to give them--I am lucky.  The piles of stuff?  That's a tough one for me, but (again) it proves they're close by.  

All the things outside of my home that annoy me?  Maybe I can slow down enough to be amazed at the little, elderly man shuffle-pushing the grocery cart down the middle of the aisle in front of me--it takes a certain something to do that, after all, and he's earned the right to slow down to the pace that suits him (I love old people, and I am awed when I picture their child-selves next to them, knowing that they've remembered the wonder that they had back then..."watching through love," perhaps?).  The people I'd rather not have in my life, who come into it due to circumstances...well, those circumstances aren't permanent, and I have the people who mean something--who I would choose--close by, and they strengthen me.  The days that seem like my head will explode if one more thing is added--I suppose it's comforting to know that those days aren't every day, and for one reason or another, something in the Universe has decided that I have the brains and the skill to make it through them (and the ability to say "no")...and the world won't pop off its hinges if I don't finish everything.  Maybe watching through love also means loving myself enough to go gently on myself when I need to--I don't do that well.

Of course, the whole thing translates into bigger, world-type things, but, personally, I need to start small in this lifetime, since I'm starting out as a curmudgeon.  It makes more sense to "Start. Until" than to wait for the next life to begin.  No better time than the present.