Sunday, July 31, 2011

When Harry Met Sally is My Lullaby

November 23, 2009

Continuing on with digging into the old journals for entries I never posted, I thought I'd post this one from November 2009.  I was supplementing my income (not by much ha ha ha) by substituting in the City of Charlottesville schools.  Some days I was in a high school ESL class and sometimes I was walking kindergarteners to the playground.  I was glad when my business picked up enough not to need it, but I really loved being around this huge variety of kids, especially when sometimes the 1st graders seemed wiser than the seniors.  Also, I was watching When Harry Met Sally almost every night to help me fall asleep.  The last line mentions emails that I got from Megan and Barbara, two old friends of mine that I spent some fine summers with a long time ago. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

You Know You're Over 35 When...Nutella Secrets and Other Revelations

This is a repost from January 2010, and it's one of my favorites. 

*You write in your journal: "I don't have time to be listless, tired and fat."

*You realize not only do you have time to be listless, tired and fat, but you also have time to write about it.

*You've discovered that the extra ten pounds is socially helpful (women aren't bitches and men don't give you shit), but you lose them anyway, or you don't because you're not sure which way is better.

*You used to buy the Nutella and share it, and then you bought Nutella and hid it, and then they found it and they accused you of hiding it, and so now you buy two Nutellas and you still eat from the "house" Nutella AND your stashed Nutella.

*Your friend gives you earrings and a new top for your birthday...but she also takes you by the shoulders and says "You're still a young woman!"

*You realize that the only thing you have leverage against anyone is that they might end up on your blog. So you come home from the library thinking, "That librarian better watch her step. How dare she accuse me of putting my coffee cup on that book. I could SO write about her (and ruin her) TODAY!"

*You've learned that when a librarian gives you shit and wants to charge you $49.95 for a book, you just simply ask if there is anyone else you can talk to, but you want to say, "I will cut you."

*You write one entry in your journal for the day and it says, "Sometimes I hate the sound of people eating, most especially the sound of someone trying to get every smear of a bite out of a yogurt cup or someone trying to finish soup in a mug, especially if they are in a hurry or think they are starving."

*You write out all of the words of your text and you use punctuation: i.e.: "patience isn't a virtue, it's what I call the old me" and "say more to me than 'k'".

*You think this in the lingerie store: If I wanted to lay my tits down on twin beds, I would shop at IKEA, not Victoria's Secret. What's with all the stuffing? I'm shopping for a bra FOR my tits, not a bra WITH tits. Big difference.

*You realize that the plan you just made to go away with your girlfriends to the beach is the best plan you've had in a long, long time, but quietly you're a little dismayed that this is what Anne Rivers Siddons has always been writing about...where you and your friends are now and where you're headed. Oh geez....

*You barely have time to pick up the medication for the anxiety and lack of sleep, much less examine why you need medication for anxiety and sleep, but you really think you SHOULD make time to examine this, and thinking this makes you anxious and makes it hard to fall asleep.

*You're not afraid to recommend the hypnotism cd that's helping you fall asleep.  You would've never done that at 34.

*You don't know if it's the salt scrub or the Emergen-C, but your skin is glowing and people comment and you don't know how you'll keep your skin glowing when you spend most of your time worrying that a van is going to plow you down from the back while you are walking the dog.

*You wonder how it can be that it's almost 20 years since you've been in high school, and now suddenly, in the clicking of one year, your Facebook list is almost up to 300 and you're happy to see all their faces, and you think that it's weird that there's nothing about Facebook that freaks you out (but you see why it freaks out other people --it's because people freak out other people) and most of all, you're not amazed at what they look like, but that they're out there, now so easy to contact, and they have children--that's the part you love the most. You think your mother would've enjoyed Facebook, too, sitting quietly at the computer in the evenings, drinking wine, looking at people's pictures, saying hello in the most casual way.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Meaning According to John Gardner

While I'm away on a little vacation, I thought I would bust out some old journals this week that have never been posted, just for a sense of consistency and letting you know more about my story.  Let's July 2010, I was working on a draft of Dirty Barbie and Other Girlhood Tales.  I needed to submit the script in early August to the Lee Street Theatre in NC, so I'm sure that had most of my attention.  My husband is a John Gardner enthusiast, so I think I found this quote in a book of his on novel writing.  This is a kind-of Wizard of Oz speech...that you have everything that you need and everything that means something to you is worth sacrificing something else for.  I hear that. 

July 21, 2010

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Whatcha, Whatcha, Whatcha Want?

Here are a couple journal entries from earlier this month. 

July 6, 2011
I teach classes for teenage girls.


July 5, 2011
 I do not teach classes about falling into a jar of Nutella, but I could. 

Because I've always kept a journal, I hope that most of them will get burned or used in sleep clinics or in the lost art of handwriting classes.  But when I write with the intent of making some meaning of a day and not repeating my long list of complaints or flaws, I don't feel like burning them.  When I remember to draw, I feel like sharing. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Foresight and Hindsight...Advice From Every Direction

I asked some friends to answer these questions:

1) What advice would you give your 18 year-old self?  2) What advice do you think your 75 year-old self would give you right now? 

I loved what they had to say...

From Caite...
Write more. Don't be afraid to ask questions. What you think is a big deal is, in fact, not a big deal. When you meet him in two years and he breaks your heart, try not to cry so much—he's not The One anyway. Try to enjoy exercising and do it more regularly (hint: you might like yoga or dancing). Don't skip class so much in college to watch TV—you own "Dawson's Creek" on DVD, for goodness' sake. Kiss more boys. Spend even more time with your grandparents; you'll miss them when they're gone. 

What 75-year-old me would say: 
Read more. Develop your memory. Make someone laugh every day. Love hard and often. Keep up the good work. 

From Betsy...
Dear 18 year-old me,
Behold the glass ceiling!  If you want to play with the big boys you really have to figure out the rules of the game, you can't trust that your talent or intelligence or good looks will get you on the field.  And, once you know the rules, are you SURE you wanna play that game?

From my 75 year-old self,
Pretty good start, but keep opening up.  There's a new you or an old you clawing her way out -- stay open to her.

From Arrietta...
To my future 18 year old self: Get into a good college. Please. I need to have a life.
My future 75 year old self would say: Calm down, girl. It's gonna be okay!

From Billy...
Dear 18 year-old me,
Get ready to Rock! You have 15 years of non-stop thrill ride ahead of you. Bands, world travel, moon bounce boxing (don't ask)! Ride the snake!
Love, 38 year old me.

Dear 38 year-old me,
 Get off that snake! Its unbecoming, and not age appropriate. You are almost 40. Stop asking college kids, “Where's the party at?" Hang out with your son at the Children's Discovery Museum. I know that place sucks, but he will love you for it, and he is amazing.
 Also, invest in Robocorp.   Also, use the profits from your Robocorp windfall to buy a bunker, a laser rifle, and a water purifier. NOT THE ROBOTIC KIND!
Finally, my back hurts.

From Archie...
1. To my 17 y.o. self:
 Don't waste your energy on that girl in English class. You'll not meet the true love of your life until you're well into your forties. Don't worry, it's worth the wait. Until then, relax and have fun.  Watch your weight, and if you want to keep your hair, cut some off now and put it in a baggie.
 2. From my 75 year old self:
I told you that girl would be worth the wait. You both should ease up on your kids, they're only young once. Watch your weight, and cheer up. They found a cure for baldness.

From Amy...
I would tell my 18 year old self to enjoy being 18! You have the rest of your life to be older! Appreciate your young, healthy body, fall in love more than once and follow your dreams because it is ALL possible at 18!

My 75 year old self would probably say almost the exact same thing and she would add... slow down and enjoy this time with your children because they will also be 18 before you know it. Thank your parents/ grandparents and tell them you love them because you never know what tomorrow will bring. 

From another Amy...
Oh -- so MUCH I would say to my 18-year old self!! Beginning with "boys are not your reason for existence! Keep your eye on the future!" 
75 year old me would say "I wish you had kept yourself in better shape -- there's a lot of fun things left to do!"

From Ashley...
To me at 18:
Take babies seriously.  They are not puppies.  The most important person in your life will be your babysitter.  Take time to learn history and geography.  Even if you have to buy those books for dummies...don't let yourself'll be so proud when you turn 40. 

To me from 75:
Make it a point to enjoy your husband and children every day as if it's your last.  Even if they are driving you CRAZY!...Now you are ready for the best part. 

From DeeDee
Hey, D put down your beer and listen to this:
--don’t bitch about money…save it…you were right, you ARE a late bloomer..stop drinking…you’re actually allergic, not weak...stop eating flour and sugar…you’re actually allergic, not weak...go ahead, keep doing what you’re doing…you entertain me…but please write about it...when you get to that intersection in Memphis in ‘95…YIELD!!!...ask questions until you’re 75, then you can give advice...stay in the moment and you’ll stop leaving your wallet on the backs of toilets.

Hey, D, I'm about to get my daily massage, so let me quickly give you some advice:
the universe likes speed -- follow-up on stuff every day; other people won’t, and it will make all the were right, wrinkles ARE good bullshit protectors...exercise every day…it lets the chips fall off your to understand (and practice) your own divinity…and give up TV…well, you can keep 3 shows...okay, that was 80 episodes of 30 Rock you just watched on Netflix…I thought you were really’s never too late to evolve about money, girlfriend…please save for Europe…I want you to go to Paris before I die...understand this clearly:  flour and sugar promote tumor growth, not personal growth...ask questions until you are my're at your best when you're seeking...go to bed exhausted, not anxious...snacks are for kids and dog-training – eat what you’re going to do…you entertain me…but please write about it...I can't believe you still don't get this --one more time:  when in doubt, take a shower.

So, share the love below and ask you friends how would THEY answer these questions (and answer it yourself, too!)?

Monday, July 25, 2011


"Developing self-esteem requires an act of revolution, or several mini-revolutions, in which we begin to separate from group thought and establish our own authority."  --Caroline Myss

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Girl in the Pink Sweatshirt

This started as a writing prompt from Down the Writer's Path
but all I wanted to do was make it a Stieg Larsson book.

photo by Andrei Niemimäki from Turku, Finland (Girl with a balloon) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Roughest Courage

Stanback Hall, Catawba College, Halloween, 1992

"I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage.  When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know."
--Emerson, from "Friendship"

The word "blessed" is losing it's sacredness for me. People say it so often.  So, I'll say that I'm damn lucky to have my friends.  I know that I don't know all that I will know about women's friendships, but what I do know is that they seem more and more tied to my life's work. 

 5 Quiet Moments of Friendship
  • yoga with Phoebe
  • watching Ashley put on her wedding dress
  • riding the train to NYC with Jennifer
  • getting a pedicure with Amy
  • the long drive to Maine with Sarah in her jeep
5 Loud Moments of Friendship
  • my bachelorette party with penis straws
  • a peace rally in DC
  • a 1990 Counting Crows concert in a dirty basement in Charlotte
  • Thursday nights at Catawba
  • in the van after winning a tennis match 
5 Sad Moments of Friendship
  • when grandparents die
  • when parents die
  • when time flies
  • when they can't ask for help
  • when you can't ask for help
5 Happy Moments of Friendship
  • when the babies come
  • when you realize they are a badass
  • when they know you well enough to pick on you
  • when you make something together
  • when you get to have a long talk after a long absence
 5 Woo-woo Moments of Friendship
  • I think of Jenny, then the phone rings and it's her
  • finding out Elaine was from Mooresville, too, and feeling like IT all made sense
  • a psychic described to me Mrs. Mott (exactly!) and told me she was there to help me -- always
  • seeing my friend's faces in their children
  • figuring out that Toad the Wet Sprocket on the radio is always a sign from Carrie
I'm having more woo-woo moments all the time.  I think I know why.  I think women get exponentially wiser and more attuned with the world after 35, or at least that's what's happening to me.  Maybe it's due to extra love and extra loss and getting less willing to deal with crap and more interested in truth...and much, much more willing to fight for girls and other women.

If you have some woo-woo moments (inexplicable connections between you and a friend), I'd love to hear about them.  I wish you quiet, loud, sad, happy, and weird moments with your friends, and I wish you the time to sort them (the moments AND the friends) out.  Do yourself a favor: do not speak ill of other women, even those who are not your friends.  They are some other women's friends.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Screenwriting Sunday Mornings

There is a movie I've been writing with five of my friends.  A comedy.  We've been working on it for almost two years.  We used to meet every week.  Now we meet every two to three weeks for longer sessions.  Bree calls them writing advances, not retreats.  That's Jen's feet in the middle. 
Six women agreeing on one plot isn't always easy.  We laugh.  We say no (you have to fight for your guy).  We move the cards around. We're going to get this puppy down until the weight feels just right in an agent's hand.  Until you know these people like we know them now.  This place we've made with these people who are just on the verge of owning us.  The best of two good endings is becoming one.  We have a deadline now.  Christina is to the left but you can't see her because she told me not to take her picture. 
That's Kate.  She's keeps us in formatting heaven even when we put her through formatting hell.  Many, many drafts.  Two years later and type, type, type.  Now we have a new space.  This crazy simple little house with a skylight.
That's the zucchini bread that Phoebe made.  She added less sugar.  Not everybody can make it everytime.  No biggie.  You just keep writing.  Some people have said to me, "How do you ever agree?"  Some people have said, "I want to do that."  Let me tell you, the combined drive of six women is in a special, unnamed cookbook that only some have seen. So find your group and your own Sunday morning.  Get a teapot going.  Make some bread.  Write.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Redemption Value

I bought a beautiful bottle of water.  I started staring at it when I was trying to avoid writing. I blamed a new friend for distracting me.  I turned on Pandora.  I blamed Ingrid Michaelson for distracting me.  I pitied her for just wanting to be o.k.  I can't identify.  I perpetually, always, consistently, relentlessly want to be more than o.k.  Except on airplanes.  On airplanes I just want to be o.k.  Back to writing and avoiding writing.  Staring at my water bottle I saw in all caps on the back in bold, larger print than anything else:


That's only for Connecticut, New York, and Oregon.  Here in Virginia...nothing.  There's nothing but the consuming and the throwing away.  No value for taking it back where you got it.  Note:  I don't throw my bottles away.  I leave them places:  beside chairs on the floor at meetings, other people's houses because they offer me tea, at the gym, on windowsills.  I don't face the end of my water bottle.  Other people have to recycle my bottles.  They better not be just throwing them away or I would GET SO MAD.  I get down the road and I think damn, there goes another water bottleThis beautiful bottle claims to hold water that is "eternally pure".  Well, at least something in this picture IS eternal.  I have re-used this particular beautiful bottle about 10 times, which makes me better than o.k. but far from perfect.

a buying back, a repurchasing, a conversion of paper money, a releasing, a ransoming...salvation

I wonder...(in the way Carrie does on Sex in the City right before the music starts) I holding on to anything for ransom?  Is there anything that I would like to buy back?  Repurchase?

Yes.  I would like to have back my ability to love rollercoasters.  My stomach can't take it anymore.  Does that mean something metaphorically like, "If you can't take the rollercoaster, stop being a drama queen." (no exclamation point available where drama is dead).

I'd buy back (with all the babysitting money I never saved) the feeling I had on the last day of 7th grade. Riding in the back of a truck on the way to a sleepover.  Total joy.  Total freedom.  Other endings have been gleeful, but never as free and windy as that one.  Sometime after that laws got wicked serious about seatbelts and I started missing people. Endings got bittersweet instead of just sweet. 

I'm holding approximately 10 books for ransom and their owners either don't remember or don't negotiate with kidnappers.

"You did then what you knew how to do.  When you knew better, you did better." 

Maya, Maya, Maya, why you gotta do this to a girl?  Why do you have to expect so much?  Why do you want me to be more than o.k.?   

When do you just STOP screwing up?  When do you know better AND do better?  I'm not talking about being perfect.  I'm talking about old mistakes.  When do you stop buying the unhealthy peanut butter?  When do you start opening your mail every day?  When do you accept an apology and move on?  When do you mean "I'm sorry" and then be sorry enough to actually CHANGE?  When did pouring bleach down your drain become an act of rebellion?  Why do you keep telling that stupid story the same stupid way?  Can you stop projecting your stuff?  It just got all over my new shoes.  Can you pull the venom out of your sting?  Can you stop stinging (or singing)?  Are you re-infecting yourself with feelings?  You big dummy.

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds."   

Bob, Bob, Bob...can you say more about this mental slavery?  I think the value of redemption is worth the drive to Oregon (and I know someone you can stay with).  It's worth pilgrimages.

There must be a place where blog promises go to die, so I won't promise to never buy another water bottle, but I'll say I know better and I'm going to do better.  I've been buying organic peanut butter for awhile.  I'll return those books.  I'll sing a freedom song (about being o.k.).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Girl, Put Your (good) Records On

Denise and Kris at the Inn at Court Square...Charlottesville...April 2011

Older siblings take very seriously the protection of the cool, or the passing on of the cool, or the prevention of the crap.  My sister didn't really care whether I got caught up with drugs or alcohol or bad men.  What worried her more was that it appeared I was heading down the dangerous path of stupid music, stupid books and stupid movies.  She made a snob out of me.  With my grocery store novels and notorious shape-shifting abilities, I was raising red flags. I became her reluctant Eliza Doolittle, and I'm so glad she schooled me.

Her approach changed over time.  At first it was sly...through Christmas gifts.  One Christmas I got U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday.  This was my first "big girl" album, and it was her first real attempt to make a respectable woman out of me.  Home from Christmas break and disturbed that I was still rocking out to the Bay City Rollers on 33s, she simply said, "I love them."  Then she got reactionary.  After I told her (with enthusiasm) that the woman I was babysitting for had "every Danielle Steele book in the world" and how I was pumped to have total access, I found a used copy of JD Salinger's Nine Stories (click there to read Eudora Welty's 1953 review) on my bed.  I could really only get into "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" but I think she felt there was hope for me. 

She fought all my other influences.  Discovering my obsession with Mommie Dearest on HBO got me a trip all the way to Charlotte to see The Breakfast Club, which was just one of those moments for me -- like 2 of the best hours of my 12 year-old life to that point.  I am eternally grateful not to have needed "8 hours and 54 minutes to ponder the error of my ways".  My mom liked to play Kenny Rogers on Sunday mornings, and I was watching MTV nonstop, but my sister and brother were both members of the record club, so we had every "good" album out there.  Even though my radio station still finds it's way to mainstream pop more than I would like to admit, I can hold my own in a "name that tune" contest on classic rock.  

I've really only known her to have two lapses of taste of her own.  1:   a nasty little period of contemporary country which scarred me on a trip to California.  You listen to "Thunder Rolls" a hundred times and tell me if you don't get pessimistic about love and life.  However, it is a ballad and I do love ballads, and so I only hate the repetition, I don't hate the song.  Some good things are ruined by a couple of my friends from high school.  Luckily, she stopped doing that and went back to classic rock, new good folk, and some occasional world music.  It would be forgotten for sure if it weren't for my periodic taunting and unwillingness to let her live it down (like right now).  2:   she highly recommended Jennifer Aniston's Marley & Me, but I now know that was a good cathartic movie for someone who had just lost a beloved golden retriever and that she was obviously out of her mind with grief. 

My sister, Kris, is responsible for turning me onto Joan Armatrading and Paul Simon's Graceland, which I think is the most perfect album ever in the world.  It is my deserted island selection.  She found out only recently that when I was in college I saw U2 when they were touring Zooropa.  Ah, I saw it...a little flicker of pride AND jealousy.

We recently discovered that we both like John Hiatt.  I would follow her blindly to the movies or through a bookstore.