Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to read over the first draft of your novel.

I recommend sunglasses and a box of tissues.  Perhaps a bottle or two of wine.

Yes, this is my first time doing this.  My novel is still not complete, but it's been tucked away for nearly two years; I finally reached the point where I have time to finish, but I needed a recap to figure out where and how I left off.

It's horrible.

Why on earth did I use so much dialogue?  I mean, dialogue can be great, but who wants to read a whole spoken book?

Okay, maybe it's not that bad - maybe the whole thing isn't dialogue, but I'll be damned if it's not close.  I don't remember doing this.  Didn't I used to hate writing dialogue?  Why oh why would I have written this way?

I'm only on the fourth chapter and my stomach is already in knots.  Editing this garbage is actually going to be the equivalent of rewriting.  How do you do it?  Has anyone ever looked back on something and said, "Man, this rocks!"  Is it common to feel so worthless when reading a first draft, particularly a National Novel Writing Month first draft?  I sure could use some words of wisdom.  If it were up to me, I'd trash this thing and start over, but the practical side of me says, "Don't you dare."  I know I put a lot of hard work into this and I'm not about to walk away, but how do you trudge ahead?  Are you ever embarrassed?

Happy writing,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

About never revealing your plot.

As a three-time NaNoWriMo failure, there are a few words of writing wisdom I cannot impart enough, and I just broke my number one rule this morning, in my office, not 30 minutes ago:

Do not, under any circumstances, ever attempt to lay out and explain your plot.  To anyone.

This, ladies and gentlemen, would be me and my husband, the non-reader.

This, ladies and gentlemen, would be the number one reason I have never successfully finished any of the three novels on which I've begun.

I can hear you now as you begin to form your arguments.  "But wait a minute," you'll say.  "If I don't tell someone what I'm writing, how will I know if it's good?  I mean, it's my (husband/wife/child/significant other/parent/teacher/boss).  How can I not share my brilliance with him/her/them?"

Listen to me:  don't do it.

Here's why.

I'm going to tell you the plot synopsis of a book, and then I'm going to tell you another plot synopsis of the same book.

From - "The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers.  Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom."

I don't know about you, but that doesn't do too much for me.  Nowhere in King's review do you garner a sense of the sympathy you're going to end up feeling for Carrie...and you do feel for her, no matter how stone cold of a reader you pretend to be.

Now, here's a second synopsis of Carrie, from a random comment by Kathy on Goodreads:  "It's a gruesome and disturbing tale of a young woman with an extraordinary gift who, pushed too far by her religious mother and the relentless mocking of her schoolmates, wreaks a terrible revenge on those who've made her suffer."

That's my kind of review.  I see revenge, I see relentless behavior, I see a bold and brave young woman who fights back.  Not simply a "misfit" as described in King's review of Carrie.

Same book:  I'd read it after the second review, but probably not after the first.

Interesting, right?  Imagine, if you will, your sixty-something-year-old mother's review of one of the Star Wars movies as opposed to that of your thirty-something husband.  Big difference.  Huge.

So if you pitch your writing idea to someone whose tastes are just a hair off from your own, you're going to get that "deer in the headlights" look, and no matter how sure of yourself you are as a writer, I promise you that when you get that look from someone close to you, you're going to get knocked down.

I promise you that.

If that person truly loves you, they'll try to think of comebacks that won't hurt your feelings, like, "That sounds great, babe."  Or, "Oh!"  But you'll never get the emphatic and honest result you're looking for, because these characters are still yours.  The person to whom you're laying out your story hasn't met them yet and has no interest in whether or not they fail or succeed.  You are the one who loves them.  You are the one laying their story on paper.

This is why hardly anyone has read Forrest Gump in book form, yet everyone knows the movie.

Hold it in.  You love your story.  You're incredibly excited about it and you just want someone to share in your excitement, and that's great.  We get that.  I get that.  I do.  So when someone asks, and they inevitably will, sum up your story in one word.  That's all you give them - one word.  ("It's about fishing, Ma.")  You're the one who is pouring your heart out into the story:  tell them they must wait to read it until it's finished.  You, too, shouldn't try to sell your reader on a fragmented piece of your story.  Writing a blurb cannot be accomplished until you know how the story ends, so finish it.

Finish it.

I can't say it enough.  Finish it.

Don't let anyone inadvertently steal the wind from your sails.  It may happen, but you can prevent it in this situation.

In his On Writing, Stephen King offers to the reader an excerpt of "1408" as it appeared as a rough draft.  If you don't find strength in your own writing after reading that, well, I'm not sure what kind of approval you're looking for.  The bottom line is, the draft is going to suck.  You yourself while composing said draft are going to suck, and you don't know how much of the story is going to change before you write those final ending words.  Hold on to your wind, hold your story close, and finish it.

Cherstin, out.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Where the rubber meets the road.

We all know what they say about "best-laid plans," and regardless of which translation you prefer, it all boils down to the same in the end.

Needless to say, I did not wake up early and write.  Instead, I was treated to a fever and a sore throat and missed today's classes.  Eek.

I read an interesting article earlier and it has my wheels turning.  It was posted by a fellow Google+ user and it discussed the benefits of the Pomodoro technique.  In a nutshell, the technique is designed to increase productivity by resetting the rhythms of the body:  productivity is said to increase when the user works (or writes) for a strict 25-minute interval followed by a five-minute break.

Rinse and repeat.

There is a book that goes with it, and probably some other jazz, too, but I don't know if a book is really necessary - unless, perhaps, you happen to be fascinated with science and whatnot.  (I'm not even sure if science is included in the book, so don't quote me on that.  I just can't figure out what one would need a book for in this instance.)

If you're interested in giving it a try, as I know I am, there is a free Chrome extension called Strict Workflow that can be downloaded and configured for a 25/5 cycle.  I downloaded it and I think I'll give it a try in the morning.

Of course, we all know how that goes.

In other news, I successfully removed Google+ comments from my Blogger account today, so those who wish to comment will no longer be dragged through hot coals and forced to set up a Google+ account in order to drop some feedback on my posts.  I hope you'll take advantage of all the hard work I put into it, and please give me some feedback and let me know how the comment process works!  Hopefully it will be much easier and much more user-friendly.  Since I dumped my Facebook account, I have still had high traffic to the blog, but no interaction.  It gets sort of lonely over on this side of the interwebs - I know you're there, but I don't know much else.

I also was able to start the merge between my two Google+ accounts, and I'm not even sure when or why the split took place.  I thought it odd that my Google+ account didn't look the same when I came back to it a few days ago:  I wondered in which bush my old friends were hiding.  Today I realized the problem when I came across another Cherstin Holtzman.  Of course, Google+ recommended she and I should be friends.

Good on ya, Google+.  Thanks for the heads-up.

Her Google+ account was way cooler than mine - and she had all the friends I remembered having!  Imagine that.  Traitorous slime.

Apparently there is a seven day waiting period for the accounts to merge.  (If you need help with this, let me know.  I consider myself a Google Transfer Ninja Master after today's exploits.)  I'm not sure what's going to happen in seven days when new account and old account collide.  A paradigm shift?  Black hole?  Rip in the fabric of time?

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, just keep swimming.


(Sorry - Disney's Bolt has given way to Finding Nemo recently.  I quote both.)

Cherstin, out.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writers block, plot holes, and picking up the pieces: Oh, my!

I've been trying to resurrect the ol' blog as of late, but I'm realizing I have turned my tiny slice of the interweb into a one-way street, complete with potholes and road construction.  Possibly even flooding.

For the first time in a long while (read:  "first time ever"), I'm calling for interaction from the masses.  Yes, you there, in your old woolly socks.  Yes, you, eating a chocolate bar for breakfast.  You are the ones I want to hear from, because you are the ones that are here.

I'm going to start writing in the morning.

At this point, it's just past 10pm and I have no idea what I'm going to write about.  I know that somewhere around here, in one of these desk drawers, I have a partially-completed novel in the 33000-word-range.  I know that at this point, I'm not sure if the best thing to do is to give it a reread (considering it's been collecting dust for the past year --- okay, maybe two), or just plow ahead with a "best guess" at where I left off.

I know I put it away because I hit a snag, and maybe that's what people mean when they talk about "writers block."  If so, writers block is indeed pretty shitty.  I felt like I hit a brick wall, surrounded by concertina wire and alligators.  Inpenetrable.  It was a gaping plot hole.  I couldn't figure out how to get from point A to point B, but I realize now that it doesn't matter.  The rules and conventions of "our world" don't necessarily have to apply in the land of make-believe.  Science fiction writers do it all the time:  Just write it and make it believable enough so the validity of the action doesn't come into play.  No one turned off Minority Report because there aren't really telepaths that predict crime, right?


(Wait.  Are there?)

Have you ever had to work around a plot hole?  Have you ever had an idea for a great beginning and a great ending, but couldn't quite make the pieces fit?  If so, what did you do?  How did you turn frustration into success?  I'd love to hear some examples or ideas.

In the meantime,
Cherstin, out.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Blowing smoke.

Haven't we been here before, you and I?  I was just about to tell you that I'm filling out a scholarship application--the one where I need a nomination, a few letters of recommendation, and a few completed essays where I tell you all about how terrific and deserving I am of the Outstanding Graduate award.  Weren't we here at another time, in another place?

Maybe it's just deja vu blatantly lurking around every corner.

I'm not sure, but I hate the idea of talking about my "greatest accomplishment," or my advice to new students to help them be successful.  I feel like I'm selling a used car.  I'm not sure if that analogy makes me the salesperson or the car, but neither is good.

(Not saying anything about used-car salesmen that hasn't already been said, mind you.)

Anyway, it's been a few days.  Things are good, minus all the rain.  The backyard, again, has turned into a bayou.  I wouldn't be surprised if we had gators.  We've got a ton of frogs and mosquitoes, and with the few coyotes we've seen around the neighborhood, an alligator would be the least of our worries.  It's getting all "National Geographic" up in here, and I'm not talking about the topless ladies with the plates in their lips, either.

Yesterday evening, I decided to dye my hair to hide my roots and greys, and I'm not sure what's been going on with my selection in boxed haircolor lately but somehow "light brown" on me translates to "half-shade above black with non-subtle green undertones."  To celebrate my ugly locks, I decided to chop about a third of it right off.  I know that pisses my husband off because I happen to be an "over the sink" hair-cutter, and he's a former plumber.  There are so many things I've been doing wrong all these years and he never fails to make me feel a wee bit guilty about them.  Did you know, for example, that despite the "Septic Safe!" rating on Quilted Northern, plumbers actually do not recommend that particular toilet paper for your septic tank?  It's true.  My husband tells me to use Charmin, which we all know leaves a ton of lint despite what the talking bears will tell you.

Bears lie.  Enough said.

On that note, I guess it's time for me to go blow some more smoke up my own ass and try to earn this scholarship.  Ohhh, a woman's work is never done.

Til next time,
Cherstin, out.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Spouse, Ver 2.0

It is happening again:  I can't sleep.

Something happens to a mother's hearing just after delivering her baby:  It goes bionic, and it stays bionic for at least four years.  (Her hearing, not her child or her placenta.)  But the hearing purposely does not go bionic on a 24/7 basis because we honestly don't need to hear everything.  It goes bionic only when the children are asleep, in case of--you know--danger.  Or bears.

Bionic hardly covers it.  I have been asleep in my bed, door closed, and I have heard the sound of a falling feather hit the roof of our house, shaken off a flock of birds flying overhead.  I sat up, opened my eyes, and shouted, "Whichever one of you boys just threw that grey and white feather needs to knock it off right now!"

True story.

But once I'm up, I'm up.  My mind doesn't seem to give a shit if this is happening at 6am, 4am, or 2am.  Once I've crossed that pivotal point where I'm actually reacting to something I have heard, I start thinking about household shit.  "Nothing like a 2am laundry fest," I might say.  Or maybe I ponder the really strange, like, "I know the people in the Febreze commercial can't smell the mess while they're blindfolded, but that doesn't mean the mess isn't there."  And then I'm baffled at what the Febreze commercial is really trying to tell us, because isn't a bad smell a sign that something somewhere needs to be cleaned up?  If you spray Febreze, then aren't you just ignoring the chicken carcasses and fish bones your party guests left behind?

I'm so confused.

Anyway, where this truly becomes and issue of Good vs. Evil is when a mother with a baby monitor is married to a husband who snores.  (For the record, "Sleeping Me" is Good and "Sleeping Husband that Snores" is Evil.)  The baby monitor says, "Sleep lightly, dear Mother, and I'll alert you to any noise or problems."  The snorer in my other ear is killing me.

Do you know the sound of a lawnmower running over a golf ball?  That is what I am waking up to at my house on a "many-times-a-night" basis, but it's only happening to me.  My husband somehow selfishly sleeps right through it.  I've never heard anything like it, and it's only amplified because Caleb hasn't turned four yet.  From what I remember with Aidan, that was when my hearing went back to normal.  I could even sleep through my own alarm clock.  No joke.

The worst part isn't the noises or even the snoring, though.  The worst part is the absolute raw anger I feel when this stuff starts happening.  Two am is no longer a good time for me.  Like, if you were planning a surprise party for me and wanted it to be a lot of fun, I would highly recommend avoiding the hours of 2am to 6am.  No good.  Everyone but me seems to be partying at those hours nightly.

So what's the solution?  I know I'm not the only person married to a snorer.  It's getting so bad that I'm half-temped to sleep in my new office.  No kidding.  Other than constantly waking and telling him to roll over and stop snoring, what are my options?

I'd love to hear some ideas that don't involve duct tape, but at this point, I'm willing to listen to anything.

Enjoy your weekend,

Cherstin, out.

Friday, September 20, 2013

YA fiction - Why do writers assume?

I've been attempting to resurrect my blog as of late.  Pick up the pieces, blow some dust off, and put this shit back together.  Make it functional.  Maybe even feng shui.

(I wouldn't hold your breath.)

I realized tonight that a lot of YA authors are also bloggers, and a lot of said YA author/bloggers are keen to put bits and quips of their current work for the public to peruse ... and it sucks.  It's awful.  There is a difference between telling a good story and being a good writer, but I'm not sure they realize that.  It does, however, give me a ton of hope for my own writing, because if people are truly getting shit like that published, then by God yes there is a place for me in the market after all.

On that note, I'm off to bed.  We can discuss this further if you'd like.  Or we don't have to, either.  I want your feedback - no more one-sided conversations.  I'm going to break out of my little bungalow over here and start being social, so drop me a line and let me know you were here while I slept.  In the morning, I'll come by your neck of the interweb woods.  We'll have coffee.  A cigarette.  Whatever you're down with.

Cherstin, out.   :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The stuff of nightmares.

I couldn't sleep last night.

It had nothing to do with my toothache.  Instead, I found myself laying with my head on my pillow, unable to block the horrific images pushing their way in though the outer edges of my consciousness.

It was Aidan and I on a plane.  Said plane was about to crash.  I grabbed him and held him and told him I hoped I'd see him again, told him how much I loved him and how proud of him I was.  How happy I was to be his mom.  How I always felt like the luckiest person in the whole world.  And I laid there in bed wondering if I'd be able to be strong enough for him, if I could make it all okay even in those last short minutes of our lives.

Is that f'ing horribly psychotic or what??

I'm going to be honest:  I never knew fear until I was a parent.  I thought I did.  Hell, I watched the evening news.  I even did my time in the Army.  I knew what "life" was all about.  But nothing can ever prepare you for the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that is involved when you give life to another human being and then have to suffer with not being there 24/7 to make sure they don't do something dumb.

Dumb things that have happened that eventually gave rise to my "Fuck yeah, parenting" t-shirt:

  • One got his foot totally wedged in the boards of a pallet.
  • One dropped a 12" x 12" block on his big toe and lost his nail.
  • One attempted to shave his face with a razor I left in the bathtub and cut his lip open.
  • One tried climbing his dresser and got pinned beneath it.
  • One leaned on the glass shower door and it opened - he fell and split his neck open on the metal frame and had to get four stitches.
  • One swatted a wrought-iron candle holder with a broomstick and it crashed onto his toe - he lost his nail and a whole lot of blood.
  • One fell backward off the couch and hit his head on the tile floor.
Seriously?  Seriously.  And listen, before you go and judge - I consider myself to be a damn good parent.  Kids are just ... well ... they're kids.  And that's that.

I feel like this should be a Bounty paper towel commercial.  On that note, I'm off to do something productive.  I'm sure somehow, somewhere, there's an accident waiting to happen.

Cherstin, out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DUN DUN DUNNNN ... The dreaded dentist appointment.

I did it.  You know the shit is serious when I go ahead and make my own dentist appointment.  It's not until October 1st but I'm pretty sure he's sharpening his scalpel, dulling his drill, and practicing his evil laugh even as we speak.


Probably bloodying up his white lab coat, too.

In other news, I was chitchatting with an old professor just prior to my second class today when I mentioned I had been thinking about ditching due to a toothache (in conjunction with the fact we would be discussing Sylvia Plath in class today - I couldn't figure out which would have been more depressing).  I bit the proverbial bullet and stuck it out, entered the classroom, .. and within five minutes, our teacher dismissed us because he couldn't get the projector to work, and we were going to watch a documentary.  Yes.  Triple word score.  I swung by previously-mentioned old professor's office prior to leaving campus and thanked him for the good karma.  Maybe it's time to buy another lottery ticket.

There's an open mic at school tomorrow night - I feel like I should attend.  Like, I have to attend.  It's for my own sanity.  I was considering reading a series of vignettes I wrote (thankfully, they have nothing to do with the dentist), but I think the series is a bit longer than the token five minutes, so I guess I'll be dusting off some old poetry.  I wish I had some new shit, but hey, I don't.

But I should.  I should have a ton of new shit to read.  I mean, I've got the new office, the new desk, the new faux-wood blinds.  I've got the dogs to keep my feet warm.  I've even got a few scraps of paper with ideas on them.

That's about it.

What am I waiting for?

Cherstin, out.


Oh. emm. gee.

It's happened.

Monday night, I called my darling husband after class to find out how the baby was feeling, how the night went, and if we needed anything from the store.  The answers to numbers one and two were pretty self-explanatory, but I was informed I needed to stop at the store on the way home.

For more Reese's cups, please.

Knowing I'd just purchased a bag of them on Saturday night, when I stopped at the store while out shooting pictures for my photography class, I put my foot down gently.  I told my husband, "Babe.  You don't need those.  You're going to regret it."

He thought about it for a second and then said, "Okay.  How about some mini-Kit Kats then?"

It's like he purposely doesn't get it.

"Alright," I say.  "I'll stop at the stupid store."

While I'm perusing the Halloween candy aisle, I happen to come across a goodie that I haven't seen in years - the ol' Lindor chocolate balls - with the raspberry in the center.  It's got to be the raspberry.  When I worked at Books-A-Million, I remember popping these things like they were breath mints from the Joe Muggs side of the store.  Yes, Reese's single cups AND miniatures for my husband, one bag of Lindor raspberry chocolates for me.

About seven chocolate balls into the bag, I started feeling it, and by "it," I'm not just talking about my underwear shrinking.  I'm talking about the toothache.  "No problem," I say.  "I'll just eat them on the other side of my mouth."  Great idea, poor follow-through - the toothache that had begun decided to never go away.  I'll bet "Lindor" actually translates to "linger" in real life.

Now I'm chomping Advil like no one's business.  The little guy is home with me this morning until we can be SBTG - Saved By the Grandma.  I've got the possibility of a group project today in English Literature.  My face feels numb.

There are still ten or so Lindor raspberry chocolates calling my name.  I'm wondering if I can chew in such a way to avoid my teeth completely.

Till next time,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

More cowbell.

Caleb came home from daycare today with a fever of 102.5, which is odd because none of his other body parts appear to be out of whack.  Normally, it goes like this:

fever + runny nose = sick,
or maybe
fever + sore ear = sick,
or even
fever + throwing up = sick.

So now I'm just all confused.  Last night, he laid around like a fat tick on a dog, didn't eat his dinner, and went to bed at 7pm.  This morning, he woke up acting normal but didn't want to eat his most-favorite breakfast of the month:  applesauce.  I did somehow convince him to eat a green ice pop, but mostly by pretending I didn't care if he ate it or not.  (He's two.  It's self-explanatory.)

Time to bust out the bleach and the hand sanitizer.  I'm not necessarily a germaphobe, but I am the one in the house who always seems to get it the worst, and I get it the longest.  If it were a contest, I'd be psyched about it, but it's definitely no contest.  There is no blue ribbon for being the best at being sick; there's just a big trail of tissues and lozenge wrappers.  Considering I'm back in school full-time with the majority of my classes on campus, please refer to Sweet Georgia Brown - ain't nobody got time for that.

In other news, my 9-year-old can't seem to remember to bring his notebook and agenda home from school each day.  The kid can remember every combination of items on Minecraft, but can't remember to put two things into his backpack when the bell rings.  I don't get it.  The first mishap landed him three days with no Nintendo DS on the bus, which is usually enough to do the trick:  he's got to remember three days in a row and then he gets his DS back.  This time, however, on the last day of punishment he decided to forget his math homework at school, resulting in loss of DS and computer privileges.  I hate this whole computer generation.  I mean, I dug the shit out of some Ms. Pac Man, but "this whole electronic age is a bunch of bullshit," she types, ironically, into her wireless laptop.

Hey.  Shut up over there.  It's bath time.

Cherstin.  Out.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Some semblance of normalcy.

Yesterday, my husband and I worked on finishing the "new" office - the room that my dad had been working on before he died.  We really didn't have an idea for a lot of the finished concept, so we ended up winging it.  Minus a serious floam incident (that's spray-on insulation, for those not "in the know"), everything ended up just fine.  That floam though...holy crap.  That stuff is something else.  So much floam escaped from behind the wall underneath the window that I had to remove the wall this morning and cut the floam apart with a huge bread knife.  I wanted to eat it - you know, the whole bread knife thing - but I refrained.

The blinds my husband bought were the bees' knees - they really made the whole room pop.  Probably not much has been said about "faux wood," and maybe not much will be said about them when we're all dead and gone, but if there is one technological advance that should be given more credit, it's faux wood blinds.

And floam.

Then we had another "great idea."  Casually over cigarettes, my husband says something to me about how I could have the couches from the lanai and put them in my office, if I so desired.  I jumped all over that like white on rice, and told him I'd take them as long as he'd help me bring them outside in the sunshine first so I could wash the grossness off them before bringing them into my pristine lair.  (Okay, it might not be pristine but no one wants their office to smell like dog and cigarettes.  Only the dog should smell like dog, and if the office smells like cigarettes, I'm going to wonder who's been smoking in there, which may, in turn, force me to light up in there just to test my theory, and before you know it, there's a burn mark on my new desk.  Dammit.)

With the couches safely outside, I have brilliant idea #2 - let me clean the couches off with the hand-held attachment for the carpet cleaner.  The couches can then bake and dry in the sun, and everyone wins.

Sidebar.  We have had these couches since 2010.  We got them when I was pregnant with Caleb after seeing them featured in a circular from American Signature Furniture.  In our excitement over the cheap price ("THREE PIECES FOR $777!"), neither my husband nor I test-drove the couches when they were in the store, so we never realized the cushions weren't removable.  Can you believe that?  Non-removable cushions?  When future generations are oogling over the concept of faux-wood blinds, I hope they forget about the abomination that is "non-removable cushions."  Eek.

Now, back to cleaning the cushions:  Back when the couch was new, I was terrified of my water breaking, but when I saw the filth that came off that couch yesterday, I realized amniotic fluid would have been a blessing.  The rinse water was black.  Blacker than black.  As in, "Hey, what's blacker than black?"  Answer:  "That."  I immediately wanted to call up everyone who has sat on that couch in the past year and apologize.

Now the couches are in my office, and all seems right with the world --- except the lanai.  It's too empty.  I'm thinking about making some pallet benches.  Anyone in?

Till next time,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Status quo: Art imitates life.

If art imitates life, please tell me which artist painted "Portrait of Two-Year-Old Pooping on Tile Floor," because I'd like to hang it in my husband's office.

Also, if it could be the version where just after the painter finished, the child steps in the poop, tracking it across the floor, so his mother scoops him up into the bathtub to wash it off, and while initiating said wash-off, the mother happens to turn around to see that the family dog has just eaten said poop, that would be great.  If you could happen to capture the horrific look visible on her face at just that moment, that would be terrific.

Ahhh, art.  Life.  Children.

Other than the poop fiasco, things are going much better around here.  I'm reading so much Chaucer that I'm starting to dream in middle English poetry, so that's weird but doable, but I found myself awake this morning at 4am.  It wasn't that I just popped up on my own, but rather that I heard the sound of the dog wretching, so I jumped out of bed to let her out.  While on the porch, I decided I'd have a cigarette:  you know, celebrating 4am and all.  What I hadn't considered was the internal conversation that would take place during the whole smoking thing.

I mean, we all know smoking is bad, right?  That's been established.  I remember my mom bringing reams of copy paper home when I was a kid - ones that had been misprinted or that they didn't need anymore.  It was the paper with the holes in the sides, where each perforated sheet was attached to the one following it.  The paper was a pale green.  Anyway, I remember rolling out about 10 feet of the stuff and making these huge, obnoxious "No Smoking" signs, complete with pictures of blackened lungs and yellow teeth and dirty ashtrays with butts spilling out the top - you name it.  I'm guessing they taught us that in health class - you know, "Fifty Ways to Aggravate and Convert Your Smoking Parents."

So 4 o'clock in the A.M., I'm standing outside in the pitch black having a smoke, waiting for the dog to finishing hurling, and I start thinking about my life and what I'm actually doing.  And it hits me - I'm almost 40 years old, and I'm pretty sure I've heard news reports before about people in their 39's and 40's dying of cancer attributed to smoking.  And I start asking myself why?  Why can't I shake this?  And part of me says, "Well, look at your mom.  She's got good genes - she's still smoking and she's fine."  And then the other side of my conscience answers, "Yeah, but your grandfather and your father died from throat cancer.  And your other grandfather died of colon cancer.  So that's three strikes right there in your family branch."

And then I just get mad and swear I won't smoke anymore ... and I don't ... until 7am when I wake up for real.

So that sucks.

Anyone else out there pushing 40 and still doing ridiculous shit they should have stopped doing right after high school?  If you're one of the ones who successfully quit, how many times did it take you before it stuck?  I've tried to quit before, and I'm good at quitting, but I'm horrible at not picking one up six months later and insisting I can just have one.

In other news, there's an open mic night at school on Thursday.  I'm reworking one of my short stories, seeing if it can be spun down to a comfortable reading length.  Hooray.    :)

That's me, in a nutshell, and I'm out.

Friday, September 6, 2013

New Moon on Monday

"New Moon on Monday" - Released January 1984
Songwriters: Rhodes, Nick / Le Bon, Simon / Taylor, Andy /         Taylor, John / Taylor, Roger Andrew

Shake up the picture the lizard mixture 
With your dance on the eventide 
You got me coming up with answers 
All of which I deny 
I said it again 
Could I please rephrase it 
Maybe I can catch a ride 
I couldn't really put it much plainer 
But I'll wait till you decide 
Send me your warning siren 
As if I could ever hide 
Last time La Luna 

I light my torch and wave it for the 
New moon on Monday 
And a fire-dance through the night 
I stayed the cold day with a lonely satellite 

Breaking away with the beast of both worlds 
A smile that you can't disguise 
Every minute I keep finding 
Clues that you leave behind 
Save me from these reminders 
As if I'd forget tonight 
This time La Luna 

I light my torch and wave it for the 
New moon on Monday 
And a fire-dance through the night 
I stayed the cold day with a lonely satellite 

I light my torch and wave it for the 
New moon on Monday 
And a fire-dance through the night 
I stayed the cold day with a lonely satellite 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IN REAL LIFE. Or, "the time I deactivated my Facebook."

With all the blase-bullshit going on, I chose yesterday to deactivate my Facebook account which left me time to actually get some writing done.  Yes, I blogged, but in addition to the blog, I also jotted down and fleshed out a few story ideas in an attempt to squeeze something delicious from my cerebrally-controlled phalanges into the pages of another speculative fiction anthology.

(Thanks, Duotrope - hopefully my "annual fee" will actually pay for itself considering you started charging in January and it's now September.  Better late than never.)

Strange, though, the feeling of "disconnectedness" I have when I don't have a Facebook window open.  It almost mirrors the feeling I had last weekend, only this time it came as a result of my own decision; yet I still feel like I owe people an explanation or something.  Which I don't.  Considering most of the people on my "friends list" have roughly 300 people on their "friends list," so they won't even notice one is missing.

(I'm almost willing to bank on that.)

The strange part about it is that I'm no longer sure where to get my news...or my dog videos.

And now I'm back in writing mode, which translates roughly into the panic one feels when they load their grocery cart with food for the week and then realize--after the cashier has rung their purchases--that they don't have their wallet.  Meaning, I have a super cool idea for a story, I just don't know where to begin.

So the whole "living sans Facebook" thing is a reality, and so far it's a good one.  I'm honestly not sure if I'll ever go back.  Maybe I should have passed out some contact information before I took off--there are a few people I'm going to miss--but if they are crafty enough, they should be able to find me.  I mean, hell, there's always Google Plus.

(Okay, that was a joke.)

Cherstin, out.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bittersweet symphony. As in the song.

Or maybe as in my life.

If they say, "Pride comes before a fall," I guess there's no point in ever feeling confident and secure in your station in life, and that includes committed relationships.  Or maybe you can feel secure, but even if that's the case, you'd better not mention it.  At all.  To anyone.

Because just days or weeks ago, I can't remember which at this late date, I was talking about my husband in a hypothetical sense, as in, "He and I are married, but that doesn't mean that tomorrow he won't change his mind."  Of course, I shuddered as I said that, thinking it was inconceivable.  Unimaginable.  I would have thought it to be next to impossible.

And now I'm not so sure.

So - did I, somehow, bring this shit upon myself just because I made an off-hand remark in a different context?  After a weekend of him taking the kids on vacation, then not sending pictures or calling in some sick attempt to "punish me" for not going, suddenly I'm seeing another reality and it ain't pretty.  It's a reality that involves time-sharing.  A parenting plan.  And the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach, but not for reasons you would think.  I'm not mourning the imagined separation of he and I, but rather what kind of pain and confusion it would cause our two-and-a-half-year-old son.

Yes, our son should be way up there on my list of concerns, but why wouldn't I be worried about myself and our relationship?  Why wouldn't the loss of our marriage cause me to feel the same knot in my stomach?

He went on this vacation despite the fact that something wasn't right ahead of time.  The night before they left, my husband went to bed without telling me goodnight.  First of all, I'm usually the one to go to bed first, but I'd lost track of time in my new office.  Even if I do go to bed first, I always always always tell him goodnight.  I give him a kiss.  I ask him if he wants his alarm clock set for the same time the following morning.  The usual.  What kind of person sneaks off to bed and leaves their wife awake in the back room?

So that was the first sketchy act.  Of course, it didn't mean much at the time but coupled with the events of this weekend, it means everything now.

Imagine, if you will, chastising a spouse for not being able to go on a road trip because he or she has work or school commitments.  Would you?  Would you essentially tell the person you love that they are in effect ruining the weekend?  Letting the kids down?  Breaking promises made to family and friends?  Keep in mind, this is coming from a man who has considered going down the entrepreneurial path and opening his own business, so he has been willing to consider a future where his own commitments may prevent him from spending his "free time" away from the home or office.  Yet when it's me who can't get the time -- who can rarely get the time -- to pack up and drive 13 hours each way to watch a football game, it is simply unimaginable.

I was treated as a pariah, and I'm not being overdramatic.  Not only did he leave on bad terms, he stopped for a hotel just three hours away from home.  As in, "I'd rather leave immediately and sleep anywhere other than at home, even though it's going to cost me a hundred bucks."

Saturday morning, he called me to find out if my mom and step-dad were stopping up there as they'd mentioned they might do six weeks ago.  After that phone call (and the news from my mom later in the day that they were also unable to make it), I never heard back from him.  I talked to him Saturday morning around 11am and didn't get another phone call or news of their whereabouts until they strolled in the door Monday night around 7pm.

And you want to know what really gets me?  You want to know the thing that really burns me up?

The first words out of his mouth were these:  "Why didn't you call me all day?"

If I would've had a brick to shit, I would have.

You know what happens to a strong woman when you shun her, make her the bad guy, and don't call her for almost three days?  She realizes maybe she's better off without you.  She realizes that life is more simple without cleaning up your dirty dishes and your food-covered wrappers that you leave every night on the end table.  She realizes that she misses her children, and that she'd pick up after them in a second--she actually misses their messes--but you?  Not so much.

She also realizes that if she has married into a family that is so quick to pass judgment and condemnation simply because she couldn't make a fucking three-day vacation, then maybe this isn't exactly the family she should have married into.  God forbid, next time, she get sick.

I'm here again.  The same crossroads.  The same shitty suspicion that something isn't right with the world.  The same shitty suspicion that made my ears burn.  The recipient of the same "Fuck her:  she's not here, so forget about her" advice.

Maybe my heart would be broken if I weren't so pissed.  Instead I spent the first day of the weekend worrying if the boys were okay, the second day wondering what his excuse would be, and the third hoping and praying that the boys just made it home safe.  Today, with the kids at school, I started being pragmatic and making plans for my own future.  I have never lived my life in such a way as to imply that I needed him - it's a two-way street.  But there is only so much that a person can take and only so much they can be shit on before they decide it might be a good time to pick up, dust off, and GTFO.

So, to wrap it all up, a great big thanks to everyone who took the time to give my husband such excellent advice this weekend.  And dear husband, as for your plan ahead of time to "not share any pictures or videos" with me if I didn't come?  So glad that worked out for you and you were able to "stick to your guns."  Yeah, you showed me alright, and for that, I hope you remember that you reap what you sow.