Saturday, April 27, 2013


There is a man sitting next to me, telling a story. It is not a good story, but he is telling it with great enthusiasm, waving his hands and raising his voice. He is speaking to another man and we, this other man and I, are listening carefully, waiting for the climax of the story. Of course, they don't know I'm listening; me, with my nose buried in a book whose pages I haven't turned. Me, trying desperately to read the story on the page - the good story - but instead, distracted by this loud man and his spectacularly shitty story. 

He is wearing brown suede shoes and pegged jeans and a button down, striped shirt, buttoned to the top. His hair is mousy and the part is crooked and it is still wet from the shower. He is young, younger than me, and dresses from the decade before he was born. 

He stands abruptly and walks away - they started without him and he scrambles to catch up. What was he talking about? What was the point? Was he simply talking to fill a perceived empty space? I must know and don't care, and I'm disappointed in him for leaving me. 

A woman sits down next to me, in the row of folding chairs against the wall. I cross my legs away from her and lean away. My bag is in the chair to my right, creating a safe zone of personal space. I am too conscious of other peoples smells, their body heat and proximity to me makes me strain to hold my arms close to my body. I am uncomfortable, but moving would be incredibly rude. So I sit, the lesft side of my body tight and tense, taking shallow breaths through my nose. 

I will be here all day. 

There are stragglers in the hallway. Some of them talk, too loud and too fast, in that superficial way you talk to people you don't really know, or don't really like. Those people you run into at the grocery store and are forced to make small talk while you desperately try to remember their name. These are the people who always seem to know so much about me, making mention of my children and life events, while I stare blankly and search the dark crevices of my memory for a name. Who are you? I want to scream, but I smile and nod and ask vague questions and look for a conversational exit. 

I crack my knuckles and the woman flinches. It's a horrible habit and one I've had since I was a child. I do it so often I'm hardly aware of it. Sometimes, I'll do it out of nervousness in a quiet room and the pops erupt like rifle shots, pinging off walls and making old women gasp. I mumble sorry and wonder what I'm apologizing for. 

My knee is cramping and my rear end is falling asleep. My shoulders are up around my ears and the shear effort of leaning my body imperceptibly away is making my jaw clench. I uncross my legs and lean forward and reestablish the personal space barrier. Twelve minutes. I feel like thirty minutes is the minimum I have to sit here before I can move without seeming rude. And then, I can't simply move to another seat. I'll need to go walking around this giant, unfamiliar space, pretending to find great interest in things like bronze plaques designating memorial meeting rooms. 

I wonder if Richard Blythe lay on his deathbed, his mind resting easily knowing he would be immortalized by a bronze plaque outside a meeting room. There is a continental breakfast laid out on the table below it, and businessmen and women  who are torn between the joy of missing a day of work and the pain of sitting through a seminar on increasing profit margins read it while waiting for the person in front of them to dig a disc of cream cheese out of a paper cup with a plastic spoon. 

Richard Blythe - immortalized, recognized, forgotten by the time they get to the muffins.

Eighteen minutes. 

She moves. I am released from my prison and yet highly offended. She has broken the spell and I find myself suddenly hungry for muffins.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Flashback '70s Style

I'm working on something - and by working, I mean looking at a lot of old photos and talking and thinking and not actually writing, but the writing is just all that thinking put on paper. And sometimes that takes awhile.

In the meantime, I am loving the horrid decor choices of my parents during the 1970s.

Exhibit A, 1974:

Where to begin.

Firstly, I look adorable. Cute dress, cute hair, awesome watch. The kid behind me with the nice tan and unfortunate hair? No idea who that is. Raggedy Ann? Bitchin. I also got a matching Raggedy Andy that year, so I can only assume he is lounging on that amazing green shag carpet.

It's hard to pick what my favorite thing in this room is. The Fisher-Price castle to the right? The killer sound system perched atop the pillars in the background? The hanging tassel of what was no doubt one of my mom's fabulous macrame creations? Or maybe it's the preponderance of dried flowers? Look behind me on the right and you'll see those awful, tall, foofy things that shed like a dog and made your nose itch. I have no idea what they're called, but if you were alive during the decade of disco, you know what I'm talking about.

I would kill to know the titles on the stack of 8-tracks on the floor. I wore out my mom's copy of Elton John's Madman Across the Water. I remember...HOLY SHIT. There it is. My favorite thing about this photo - a life sized, golden plaster statue of a cobra. A golden cobra says you mean business. A golden cobra says, "Hey, I may have a shitty stereo, but did you notice my golden cobra?". 

Fast forward to 1979.
The times, they are a'changin'. We've moved to North Carolina, and my folks are missing their cowboy home, so they went Western. 70s Style.

In this photo we have me, dressed in a fashion forward stripey shirt, embroidered khakis and brown shitkickers. Seating next to me is my brother Shane, rocking the corduroy overalls and his own pair of boots. As a todder, Shane had curly hair. Which is weird, because no one in my family has curly hair, which leads me to believe that my mom was perming his hair. It is a trick to make thin hair look fuller, one she would duplicate on my poor father in the early '80s.

In 1979, my parents loved Waylon, Willie, weed, and the color brown. Not necessarily in that order.

The pile on the carpet is shorter, but the color is still delightfully pukey. The books on the mantle are a series of Time-Life books on the Old West. I spent hours looking at the miners, chiefs, cowboys and gunfighters. I was sure that one day I'd be flipping through them and see a picture of my dad.

This is around the same time my mom started painting statuary. Cowboy and Indian busts and figures came into our house an alabaster plaster and were painted and stained and fired and placed on every available flat surface, or hung on walls next to mirrors framed with horse collars.

When she wasn't painting, she kept macrame-ing. Sitting on the floor with the end looped around her big toe, smoking cigarettes and watching Gunsmoke. Our house smelled like Marlboros and jute for the better part of a decade. One her finest pieces can be seen in this photo, holding some truly lovely dried flowers.

Brown flowers.

And next to that, the brass spittoon that never held anything and the HOLY SHIT PLASTER RAM THAT GOES WITH NOTHING.

I don't know what inspired my mother to buy that monstrosity. I mean, I understand macrame. I understand shag carpet and plaster statues and I even understand the golden cobra (because cobras, by the very fact that they are motherfucking cobras) are badass.

But giant plaster rams are just weird. Even for the 1970s.

(Hey, while I'm working on this thing I'm working on, why don't you go to my review of Epic Mom and enter to win a copy. I'll pick a winner by this Friday!)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Epic Things

 You may have noticed I've been scarce recently.

But instead of doing important things, like writing books or reading books or making dinner for my family on a regular basis, my mind has been sucked dry of productivity and creativity because of silly piece of mail.

From Ogden, Utah.

The (resourceful, respectable and always delightful. and fair.) IRS sent out an Examination Form for our 2010 taxes.

Some folks might call that an 'audit'. Some folks might call it bad names, but I wouldn't. Because I have faith in the kindness and generosity of the Internal Revenue Service.

We're a few days away from the deadline and almost finished and I have learned two things about the year 2010:

We had our third child.
We were not good record keepers.

One might have something to do with the other.

During this month, I have had little mental respite except for those magical fifteen minutes where, if the weather is good and Henry is asleep, I spent my time in the car rider line at school, in a terrifically wonderful way.

I read Epic Mom: Failing Every Day a Little Bit More Than You, by my friends Julie Harrison (MOV of ) and Marianne Walsh (

Yes, it's funny. Yes, if you have kids you'll completely get it. Even if you don't have kids, these stories are about your family - they're your moms or your sisters or you. But where a lot of the mom-humor around slips into dumb husband and poop jokes, Epic Mom never insults you. Julie Harrison's tongue is usually firmly in cheek, and then every now and again she says something that is so amazing that it makes you sit up straight in your chair. Julie is crazy prolific. She posts regularly, usually every day. She has published books. Plural. She is everything I wish I could be, but lack the drive and commitment. And style.

Marianne Walsh is like a pair of yoga pants. Her stories are comfortable and warm and I feel like I'm at my own kitchen table, only with less screaming and vomit. I can see Marianne and I curled up on a couch in a couple of Slankets, eating popcorn and watching Alf.

I've also spent the past week marathon-watching the first season of Glee. I'd never seen it, and I'm on like Episode 17. I don't really watch TV, so that is a whole shit ton of TV for me. I think Glee is a different post, though. 

The book is pretty fantastic. The stories are blog post-ish in length. They're sweet and funny and smart and perfect to read in the car rider line. Julie and Marianne were kind enough to send me a copy to review, and not only do I recommend it, I recommend it as a gift for friends, family, coworkers, random strangers on the internet.

So, now I am going to blow your mind - I want to give YOU a copy. That's right, I am going to purchase one copy of Epic Mom and give it away to one lucky commenter on this post. I am a horrible blogger, and I don't pay enough attention to you folks who come here. I lost a follower this week, and I was going to come here and whine about it and give a big F-U to the person who unfollowed me, and then I saw it was my mom.

Buy the book.
Comment, and maybe win the book.
Keep good tax records.
Be nice to your mom.