Tag Archives: writing life

7000 words

19 Jun

A little more than a month ago, I couldn’t think of anything big to write about, so I wrote about details. In 6000 words, I showed you pictures of little things in my garden that gave me joy that day. Today, I’m back in the garden to catch up on the cherry and apple trees, the red oak, the columbines, the imaginary campfire and the resurrected peony. I’ve also added a picture of a new little thing that gives me great joy.

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C? Si! 100 posts and beyond

21 Jun

I’m not ordinarily interested in anniversaries, commemorative dates and other forced significancies. I barely remember how long I’ve been married and don’t really think it matters much. Frankly, staying married is really just a matter of not getting divorced when things get bad. Things have always gotten better for us, so being married for 20 years is more luck than hard work.

I don’t understand why we have to celebrate birthdays, either. I get older every year; so do you. Why do I have to go out to eat somewhere really fancy on April 22? Maybe I’d like to go out to eat somewhere really fancy on June 26 or October 13. I’m considering putting tokens in a jar for all of the events we’re supposed to commemorate. Then, if we feel like doing it up one day, we can just take out a token and celebrate whatever we happen to pull out. So, if I want to, I can celebrate my October wedding anniversary in March.

Publishing 100 posts on Snide Reply, though, is apparently something to crow about. I’ve actually published 101, but I didn’t write one of them. I recently re-blogged a post from sweetmotherlover, a blogger I follow. Because I’m busier than a suburban mom driving her kids all over town to various summer activites, I decided to break my no-commemorations rule. I am celebrating writing 100 posts by re-blogging the first post I wrote, two years ago. Back then, I had about 35 followers. Last time I checked, I had about 144145147. Not the biggest following, but more than I ever thought I’d reach. I happen to think my first is also one of my funniest posts and hope you think so, too. Enjoy.

Thanks friends, family and followers! I’ll keep writing if you’ll keep following.

How WordPress Gave Me A Migraine but I Found Blog Love Anyway

19 Dec

Many of you know that WordPress, the service that manages my blog, recently featured my blog on its homepage. For those in the know, I was “Freshly Pressed.” For those in the don’t know, WordPress is the place on the Internet where I post my blog. Every day, WordPress, the biggest hosting service out there, picks the best of that day’s posts. They say they wade through more than 650,000 posts and who am I to argue.

The Monday before Thanksgiving, WordPress picked my post on gratitude. Now, WordPress promises that they will let you know if they pick your post for Freshly Pressed. WordPress lied to me. I found out I was Freshly Pressed when I checked email that day and saw I had, oh, say 100 emails from strangers commenting on my blog. I was shocked, amazed, astounded and all of those other words I tell my students to use instead of “surprised.”

I did not count how many people hit the like button or made some nice comment about that post. WordPress kept track of the activity on my blog, though. Over the course of two days, I had 3,450 views on my blog. A typical Monday prior to that, I would get about 3,400 fewer.

At the same time . . .

Many of you also know that we are broke. One of the expenses we’ve put off is veterinary care. That same Monday, my daughter was playing with her Littlest Pet Shop figures. “Mom,” she said, looking at something lying on the floor, “is that one of Pogo’s teeth?” It was, indeed, one of our dog’s teeth. Our dog can’t eat soft food without diarrh—oh, I mean—dire circumstances. His teeth are, therefore, tremendously important to me. I checked the checkbook and called the vet.

Vet expenses are one of those things that you think are going to be affordable in the “we can probably pay for it if we eat vegan for a month” category, but always wind up in the “we can only pay for this if we eat hay for a year” category. I never have to have a blood test before getting my teeth cleaned, but my dog does. So, blood test. His rabies vaccine had also expired, so rabies vaccine. Fortunately, he pooped on the waiting room floor, so I was spared following him around with a little plastic spoon to collect fresh turd. So, fecal test.  Total: $500.

I got Pogo home and went to my office, where I responded to probably 60 more comments.

At the same time . . .

It was Thanksgiving week. Thanksgiving is at my house. My house was trashed.

At the same time . . .

I’d been training for my first 5K. I needed to find time to run.

Comments answered, I went to the kitchen for a tea refill. Pogo’s face had swelled to the point that his tiny Papillon snout was nearly buried in bulging fur-covered flesh. We went to the vet. Injection to counter allergic reaction: $100 and we still hadn’t done the dental work.

I deal really well with crises; I keep calm. I took my dog to the vet. I responded to the comments. I made the pecan pie. I trained for the run. No, crises don’t faze me. It’s the letdown afterward that’s a bitch.

I woke at 5 am Thanksgiving morning with a migraine. I took a thermonuclear pain pill and went to bed. I skipped the run. The turkey was great.

At the same time . . .

Things were still hoppin’ on my blog. In addition to the humbling praise, I received awards from two other bloggers:

the Versatile Blogger Award

and

the Liebster Award.

Both have strings attached.

Requirements:

•  Thank the bloggers who nominated me for the award. Totally up on that; a Southern woman raised me. I’m hoping it’s ok to combine the two. So, thanks to The Waiting, Nevercontrary, Katy Stuff and Aprillbrandon for the Versatile Award and CrudMyKidsSay for the Liebster.

Please check them out. They are great bloggers writing clearly and creatively.

•  Pass the award on to 15 (5 for the Liebster) other bloggers. Now, this was kind of a problem as I didn’t really read other bloggers. SHAME! I found them though and they’re listed below.

• List seven things about me you may not know. See FAR below. You don’t know these things for a reason, people!

The blogs you will check out and may like as much as I do.

A Clean Surface: sort of Martha Stewart with a life. Check out how to make a gingerbread house.

A Buddhist in the Rust Belt: just discovered this. It takes some . . . guts to be a Buddhist in Montana.

Kpgarcia: poetry and photos.

Boggleton Drive: really cool comic. Check out this gem.

Teachermother: writing about teaching and mothering. Duh.

Violet Sunday Studio: ART!!

People I want to punch in the throat: kind of like my blog only. The post on the Elf on The Shelf is priceless.

(Crap! We’re only at seven!)

Democratic Party of DuPage County: don’t laugh. There really is one. Is it bad to nominate a blog I edit? So what!

Renovating Rita: she’s got a recipe for latkes. What’s not to like?

Scribblechic: sweet musings on motherhood. (Yes, I can appreciate sweetness.)

Philosopher mouse of the hedge: the selling mistletoe story is about one of the best Christmas stories I’ve heard.

You’ve Been Hooked: tales from a bellman. Really. Funny!

(Twelve . . .almost there.)

The Anvil: Colonel Klink for President?

Kvetchmom: doesn’t every mom kvetch?

Huffygirl: a nurse practitioner on life and wellness

Whew! Done.

Now for the seven things:

1.     I match my bra and panties. Every day.

2.     I hate green peppers.

3.     I watched Jersey Shore. Once.

4.     I eat Hellman’s out of the jar.

5.     My hair turns orange if I color it myself.

6.     I don’t care how my alma mater fares in sports.

7.     I was a sorority girl.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your kindness and support. I’m loving the wild life on my blog and you’re the reason.

Janice

Mendacity

8 Nov

When my son was eight, he and I were cuddled up in bed reading or watching TV or something. I don’t remember exactly what we were doing, but I’ll never forget the conversation.

“Mom,” he said. “Will you tell me the truth about something?”

“Well, yes,” I said, hoping he didn’t ask a question I would have to lie to answer.

“Even if you think it will hurt my feelings?”

“Yes, of course,” I said, crossing my fingers.

“Mom,” he said, “is there a Santa Claus or do you and Dad buy the presents?”

Whew, I thought. Nothing about sex.

“Are you sure you want to know?” I asked.

“Yes, just tell me.”

I swallowed hard.

“Dad and I do the presents.” He stayed still in my arms, head tucked against the soft spot just under my shoulder. He sighed.

“That’s what I thought.” We cuddled for a little while longer.

That September, we went to China. We came home with a little girl. Not too long afterward, I started preparing for Christmas.

“Pretty soon,” I said to my daughter, “it will be Christmas. Santa Claus is going to come to our house to bring you toys. Won’t that be fun?”

My son happened to be passing through the room. He stopped, looked at me and said, “So, you’re going to lie to her, too?” We lied to her for seven years.

This year, my daughter turned eight. She wanted the truth.

“Mom, is there a Santa Claus?”

“Why do you want to know,” I said, expecting her to tell me she’d had it with the years of lying and deceit. “Did someone tell you there isn’t?” Like your brother, I thought.

“Oh, some of the boys in school said that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus and that their moms and dads buy the presents. Do you buy the presents?”

“Yes, we do.”

She didn’t need any cuddling, just went back to whatever she’d been doing.

My husband used to lie to me all the time. Here’s how it would go:

“Will you give our daughter a bath?” I’d ask.

“Yes, right away,” he would say.

Ten minutes later, I would find that our daughter was still dirty and he was still playing card games on his computer.

“I thought you were going to give our daughter a bath,” I would say.

“Yes, I’ll do it right away. As soon as I finish this game,” he would respond. My brain would then explode trying to figure out if our daughter would get her bath immediately or when he finished his game.

Turns out, “right away” does not mean immediately. Silly me, I thought it did. In my world, right away meant that my husband was that very minute standing up, pushing his chair away from his desk, looking for our daughter and marshalling her upstairs for her bath. In my husband’s world, right away means, “in about five or ten minutes.” So, my husband was not lying when he told me that he would give her a bath right away. And I was not lying when I told him he was full of crap. He no longer tells me he will do something “right away.”

I don’t lie very much. It’s not that I’m not good at it. I’m a fairly convincing liar, but I was raised Catholic. When I lie, I do it well because I was told to always put forth my best effort. But then, the lie eats away at me. Even though I haven’t called myself a Catholic since I was 14 years old, I squirm and sweat, convinced I will be discovered and I will burn in a hell I don’t believe in for all eternity.

The range of lies I tell and squirm over is wide. I have lied about the beauty of everything from babies to bridesmaids’ dresses. “Yes, of course, I would love to wear a teal lace riding hat for your wedding. I’m sure I’ll wear it again and again.” I have lied about interior decorating, hair color, any number of peoples’ cooking and macaroni necklaces.

I will lie to the March of Dimes next year when they ask me to be their Mothers’ March volunteer. I accepted the task this year after copious amounts of pressure on their part. The volunteer kit came. It sat on my counter. I vowed to do it. I never did. I felt terrible. Next year, I will lie and tell them that I just don’t have the time. Someone else will volunteer, I know they will.

I have a friend who, like me, was raised by a Southern woman. We were taught never to say anything impolite or unkind. My friend is adept at finding something truthful to say in even the most horrendous circumstances. At a friend’s (terrible) movie premiere, she said, “What an exciting night this must be for you?” This is a woman to be admired and feared.

The lies I tell most convincingly are those I tell myself. Recently, I’ve been trying to write fiction. It goes slowly. Still, I enjoy it. I allow my husband to read it. He reads it. He responds favorably. I feel good about his responses. Then, my lying brain gets to work. I convince myself that he can’t possibly be telling me the truth, that every thing I write is terrible drivel and I am, in general, a talentless hunk of female flesh. When I tell my husband this, he rolls his eyes. He can’t win. He goes back to his card game. I go back to beating myself for thinking that I am a talentless hunk of flesh.

I told my kids that I was sad that Santa wouldn’t be coming to our house any more. They looked at me and said, together, “Why?”

After recovering from the shock of them doing anything together, I said, “Neither of you believe in him. I’ll wrap your presents and I won’t have to stay up ‘til midnight waiting for you to go to sleep so I can put the presents under the tree.”

“But I still want the presents under the tree,” my daughter said, pouting and looking extremely sincere. My son did his equivalent of pouting, which comes out something like, “Meh.”

So, we’ll pretend that we believe in Santa. I’ll stay up until midnight waiting for my kids to fall asleep so I can put their presents under the tree. I’ll enjoy it and that’s the truth.

Copywrite 2010 by Janice M. Lindegard. All rights reserved.

Things That Go Beep In The Night

1 Nov

My sister and I loved to play “cars.” We would draw an elaborate town on a large blackboard with roads, houses, a police station, a pet store, a grocery store, a toy store. Each of the stores had its own parking strip. We lived in the suburbs, after all. Then, we would take our brother’s cars and drive around, blowing noises through our lips to simulate driving and saying, “Beep, beep” for the horn. I’m pretty sure we didn’t let our brother play with us while we were playing with his cars. At the very least, we probably made the rules so complicated that he gave up. One day, my dad found him banging away on his cars with a sledgehammer.

There was a lot more horn honking when I was a kid. Noise pollution became a big issue and ordinances were passed. Overnight, it became illegal to honk your horn in frustration. Overnight, irritated drivers went from honking their horns to flipping their birds. Cars stopped beeping. I wonder, do children still “beep” their horns when they play cars, or do they flip each other off?

Now, lots of things beep. I have a timer that beeps until it’s reset. I use it to force me to do things I really don’t want to do. Say, for instance, that my basement looked like a haz mat dumping ground. Anyone with any amount of brain would be reluctant to enter such a basement. Anyone with any amount of dignity would not want to be the owner of such a basement. Let’s assume I have some small amount of dignity, therefore, the basement must be detoxified. I set my alarm for 15 minutes, then I enter the basement and begin detoxification. The alarm beeps and I am done. It will probably take me a year of 15-minute increments, but eventually my basement will only be nasty instead of downright scary.

I use my timer to allow me to do things I want to do, too. Like napping. I really like naps and science supports me in the value of napping. Left to nap unperturbed, I would nap for hours. Of course, if I nap for hours, there will not be fifteen minutes left in the day to detoxify the basement. So, I set my little timer for 25 minutes and I nap. Then, I get up and have a cup of tea. Then, I see that the mail has come so I go get the mail. Then, I realize I have to pick up my daughter. Then, I realize we have no milk, so we go to Target. Two hours later, we go home to make dinner. After dinner, I need to spend quality time with my family. Eventually, I realize that I have somehow forgotten to spend fifteen minutes in the basement and vow to descend to the pits the next day.

Lots and lots of helpful devices beep, besides alarms. Smoke and CO detectors beep. When we lived in Chicago, our CO detector started beeping in the middle of the night. I was relieved to find that it did, indeed, beep loudly enough to wake us. We pushed the little “shut up” button. It didn’t stop beeping. We called the fire department. The Chicago Fire Department is an awesome thing. They arrived quickly and in full dress. Two of the firefighters, dressed in their helmets and their big yellow coats, went through every room in our house. It was a four-year-old boy’s dream come true. They found no CO leaking anywhere. They did find a dead battery.

We have brand-new smoke detectors in our Naperville home. Every one of them is new, replaced just four years after moving here. You may wonder why we replaced all of our smoke detectors. We had to; they all went bad all at once. Naturally, they did it in the middle of the night. We determined that there was no fire. We reset the alarms. Two hours later, they all went off again. We reset them. One hour later, they all went off again. We reset them. Another hour went by, they all went off again. Then, in the morning, they mysteriously stopped. A very nice electrician charged us only a little bit extra to come that very day and install brand new detectors.

The new detectors don’t just beep; they also scream. They may even be cancer detectors. Whenever I broil meat, which has been shown to produce cancer-causing agents in food, the kitchen detector starts beeping and screaming, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” Because all of the detectors are linked, the ones in the upstairs hall and all four bedrooms start screaming, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” as well.  Needless to say, I don’t broil meat very often. I bet they’d let me broil eggplant.

The new detectors scold as well. Recently, they began beeping and saying, “Low battery.” The first time this happened was in the middle of the night. I didn’t hear another admonishment for at least eight hours, then, “Beep. Beep. Low battery.” Another few hours went by. “Beep, Beep. Low battery.” As all of the detectors speak with the same generic woman’s voice, it is impossible to figure out which one is scolding you unless you are standing right next to it when it scolds. So, I gathered all the nine-volt batteries I could find and started changing batteries. When I ran out of batteries, I went to Target for more. Please tell my husband that it is not ridiculous to pay $150 for nine-volt batteries.

I felt secure and safe in the knowledge that my smoke detectors were backup-powered for another year. Then, I heard, “Beep, beep. Low battery.” I had no idea where it came from. I stood very still and silent, waiting for another scolding. Nothing came. Enough minutes passed that I grew impatient and noisy. “Beep, beep. Low battery.” I was sure it was coming from the upstairs hall, so I went up there. I waited. Nothing. I got busy and noisy. “Beep, beep. Low battery.” I was convinced it was coming from the first floor, so I went down there. Nothing. Then, it started beeping more frequently.

I played Marco Polo with the scolding smoke detector for an hour before I finally figured out that it was in the toxic waste dump. I decided that I needed a nap before I could face the basement. I set my timer, closed my bedroom door and snuggled under my covers. Just as I was drifting off, my daughter pounced on me saying, with gritted teeth, “You must fix the siren right now, before I go insane.”

So, I changed the battery. Now, the only thing waking me up in the middle of the night is my daughter.

Copyright © 2010 by Janice M. Lindegard. All Rights Reserved.

So Much Life, So Little Time

25 Oct

I used to have a cell phone that would dial anyone I wanted. All I had to do was say, “Dial Dad,” and the phone would dial my dad. I thought that was a pretty cool feature. I pictured myself flipping my phone open, saying, “Dial Dad,” and resting my fingers while the phone did the work.

I never did get the phone to dial my dad. I never did get the phone to be able to dial anyone. I never figured out the voice dial feature. I felt bad about it. “You are a typical over-a-certain-age technology user,” I said. “You’re old and set in your ways and you can’t figure out something that a 15-year-old could probably do in his sleep.”

What happened to the woman who early adopted technology, I thought? What happened to the woman who bought a one megabyte Mac and could keep that puppy running no matter what hung it up? A fifteen-year-old, say my son, for instance, can manipulate technological devices like he shares DNA with them. How could it be, I thought, that I could not do something that my son, with whom I DO share DNA, can?

The answer came to me after trying for two weeks to get some writing samples to appear in an attractive manner on a website.  I was backing the car out of the drive, taking my son to yet another lesson or doctor’s appointment or school function. He was sitting in the passenger seat, oblivious to his surroundings, fingers flying over his iPod Touch. He was likely selecting a playlist, but he could just as easily have been programming a nuclear warhead.

And it hit me: he has no life.

My son embraces technology because, really, what else does he have to embrace? He sits in his room with his computer for hours at a time. If there is a new technology that interests him, he can spend hours, literally hours, trying to figure it out.

I, on the other hand, can spend about twenty minutes, none of which are uninterrupted.

Here is roughly how my website adventures unfold. First, I do a Google search to determine what my options are for hosting and building my website. While I wait for the results to pop up, I hear a disturbing noise from the kitchen. Upon investigation, I find that the cat has sent another teapot over the counter edge. There are china chunks swimming in a pool of warm tea and sodden tea leaves. I clean up the china and tea, all the while cursing the cat. Time up. Kids start coming home.

The next day, I decide I have iWeb so I’ll use iWeb. I watch the iWeb tutorial on the Apple website. This takes so long that I have no time left to do the actual work. Time up. Kids start coming home.

The next day, I realize my samples are printed on paper with ink. This is no longer an acceptable format for samples, though my ultimate goal is to be paid to produce actual writing that will be printed on paper with ink. I scan the samples between folding laundry, making snacks for my daughter and her friend, letting the dog out, letting the dog in and cleaning up after the cat, again.

The next day, I run errands. I do the grocery shopping, which requires trips to two stores. I go to the dry cleaners. They have lost my comforter. I add “buy new comforter” to the to-do list. I go to the library. I am an efficiency demon in the library. I have selected my book online and put it on hold. My book is waiting for me. I grab my book and head for the self-check lane. I scan my card. I have been in the library for less than two minutes. My account activity pops up. My daughter has $18 in late fees. I slink over to the “you didn’t get your books back on time, you slacker” line and my efficiency goes straight out the window. I pay the fees, I get in my car. My time is up. Kids will be coming home soon.

The next day, I am defeated. I do nothing about getting the samples onto my website. I wonder why I even need a website. Surely there are writers who don’t have websites.

The next day, after my husband assures me that all the good writers have websites, I return to the website problem. I actually make progress. I find an iWeb template I like and start building my site. Of course, I feel bad about myself for not making the thing from scratch. I can make a chocolate cake from scratch, why can’t I make a website from scratch? I remind myself that plenty of people make and eat cakes from a box and enjoy every bite. I soldier on.

The next day, the website is complete except for the writing samples. The children are not due home for at least two hours. I have run, I have made phone calls, the dog is in his crate, the cat has been fed, the teapots are out of reach. In short, uninterrupted time is mine. I prepare the writing samples web pages as if I know what I’m doing. I drop the scanned writing sample images into their intended places. I am almost out of time. I save the changes and visit my website. I click on the samples page. The samples look like crap. They are too small to read. Time up. Kids coming home.

I am really good at a lot of things. I can fold a fitted sheet so you can’t tell it from a flat sheet. I can drive while handing a juice box to a child in the back seat. I can get two kids to eye doctor appointments on the same day, right before dad gets home and still have dinner on the table at the regular time. I am really good at these things because I do them a lot.

Fifteen-year-olds are really good at working with technology because they do it a lot. They have no lives, they have to fill the time somehow. I, however, have too much life and not enough time to live it. So, I can’t whip out a website as quickly as I can a batch of cookies. I bet if I make those cookies sugar cookies and I make them as big as my son’s head, then he’ll help me fix my website. If I make a lot of cookies, I bet I could even get him to program my cell phone.

Copywrite 2010 by Janice M. Lindegard. All rights reserved.

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