Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Half-Promises

This is what I mean to get to in 2008:

  • Shop my novel around and get a 13 million dollar advance
  • Reading more
  • Smaller clothes
  • Firm bedtimes for the kids
  • A rock band
  • Travelling

How about you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lou Holtz and the Christmas Miracle

I was at Wally and Snap’s house a couple of weeks ago waiting for my kids to get their shoes on or something. Wally was watching college basketball, which usually causes my eyes to roll back in my head and my legs to crumple with boredom. It was soon halftime and who should appear? This little old man who proceeded to deliver a locker room speech to the team that was behind.

At first, I thought, how annoying is this. I mean why would anyone want to hear a locker room dressing down? Certainly, the people who could benefit most, i.e. the losing team, would be occupied by the rantings of their own coach. Wally and I continued to small talk, but it began to trail off as we both became captivated by this little firecracker of a gnome. Some of what he was saying was chock full of sports cliché, but what he was saying was right on the money. It made me want to go out there and be a better part of the team and I couldn’t care less about basketball, college or otherwise.

And then he captured my heart forever with his closing line to the losing team. He said directly to the TV, “Just remember: The only thing between Chump and Champ is yoU!” and he pointed right at us. Wally and I both stepped back in astonishment, looked at each other and laughed, amazed.

“That was awesome! Who is that guy?” I asked.

“That’s Lou Holtz, the greatest coach ever and a phenomenal motivational speaker,” he explained.

“Oh my God, that was a great line!” I said, always looking for new gems of wisdom in small packages. “I’m going to have to remember that one!”

“I know! I’m going to post that line on my door at work,” he said.

Wally’s works in sales. He’s a huge Notre Dame fan and a former linebacker. It’s funny that we are such good friends because Wally is not the kind of person I’m usually drawn to when looking to make friends. He’s loud. He’s conservative. He hunts. He’s very masculine. He’s got a healthy ego. When I first met him, he made a crack about how Doc, who was a stay-at-home dad at the time, had found his “sugar mama.” I was offended immediately.

But one summer evening, Wally, Snap, Frank, Doc, John, Michelle and Mark were hanging out at the Tiki. I was talking with Michelle, but I kept catching snatches of Wally’s conversation. I heard keywords, like: Jacksonville, Uniontown, pageant dresses, Tammy, website…

Michelle and I had wound things up and I turned to Wally and said, “Did you say you were from Uniontown and you have a friend in Jacksonville? I have friends down there too, who are from Uniontown.”

“Yeah, my sister and her family live there. She makes pageant dresses and I helped her set up a website to start selling them,” he replied.

“Do you know someone named Tammy…I can’t think of her last name…she’s from Uniontown and lives in Jacksonville…maybe her last name was Jones?” I said, racking my brain for her maiden name.

“Was her last name Banks?” he asked.

“That’s it!” I said, pointing at him.

“Dude,” he replied, “That’s my sister!”

“Oh my God!” I said, “I dated her husband, Hot Lemon!”

“No way!” he said.

“Yes!” I said.

We both got goose bumps and marveled at how small the world is. Suddenly we had a lot in common and a lot to discuss. Ever since then we’ve been super awesome buddies.

But I digress…

Shortly after I was introduced to the amazing Lou Holtz, through Chris and ESPN-8, The Ocho, I learned that I was Wally’s Secret Santa for the Tiki Christmas party. Awesome, I thought. I can’t give up the word awesome. I have tried to eradicate it from my vocabulary numerous times, with no success. It’s more addictive than heroin, I presume, having never had heroin, but I see movies…I know how it works. I wouldn’t dive down a nasty toilet to retrieve “awesome” but, I can’t seem to give it up.

I planned my trip to Borders to pick up the book, Wins, Losses, and Lessons, Lou Holtz’s autobiography. I wasn’t able to get to get there until the night of the party. I stopped first at Old Navy and bought myself some metallic jeans, which are awesome, and some fleece tops so I could have something special to wear to the party. To me, metallic jeans = special. I was listening to my iPod so I didn’t have to hear one Christmas song. I was by myself and Christmas shopping…it was heaven.

I made my way down to Borders and opened the door for my fellow shoppers. I stepped inside to a hive of activity. As usual, I must stop and take things in when I find myself in a store. I need to orient myself, go over my list mentally, take a deep breath, swear I won’t by anything off the list, and let the anxiety rise and lift out of the top of my head. As I scanned the horizon, I saw the sports section and made my way over to the football shelf.

The books were supposedly alphabetically by author and I wasn’t having any luck finding it. Besides, this older gentleman was standing in front of my scanning the shelves himself. Annoyed, I made the short trip over to the customer service desk, where a Santa-hatted youth was standing trying to look busy.

I asked her for help and she led me right back to where I was. That guy was still there too. Finally she spoke into her headset and inquired if there were any of Lou’s books out on any of the display tables. I don’t think her headset actually worked, it’s window dressing for seasonal help to make them look like they can really help you.

Eventually I gave up waiting for her to contact someone who gave a crap and said, “Well, maybe I’ll find something else.”

“Do you want me to order it for you?” she asked

“No,” I replied, “I need it for tonight.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t find it,” she said.

“It’s OK,” I’m sure I’ll find something else.

My guts sank. Wally and I are friends, yes. But we are vastly different individuals. We really have very little in common other than our weird arrangement of family and friend connections. I had a sure-fire gift idea and it fizzled out like a wet bottle rocket. Damn. I started to make my way over to the music section, where I intended to by a CD for Doc’s Secret Santa gift, when the older gentleman stopped me.

“Hey,” he said, bemused, “I’m looking for that book too!”

“Really?” I said, finally realizing why he was in my way.

“I’m going to go look over in business and management for it,” he said, determined.

I followed him over there and we had no luck. Who knew this was such a popular book? We shared stories about who we were buying the gift for. He groused that he came all the way up here from New Philly to come up with nothing. We wished each other luck and went our separate ways.

I went over to the music section and found what I was looking for no problem for Doc’s Secret Santa, of course. I began to feel a bit disgruntled. I looked at the games, the CD’s. Nothing was striking a chord with me. I was attached to finding that book for Wally. It represented one of the few moments where our differences disappeared and we enjoyed a common moment. Damn.

It was getting late and my stress level began to rise. I started scanning everything and anything. Cook books, no…investment strategies…no…ya-ya sisterhood of the traveling pants…no. And there it was: Lou Holtz’s miniature face looking up from me from some random table. One copy of Wins, Losses, and Lessons! “It’s mine, mine, all mine!” I thought to myself as I snatched it off the table and tucked it in my arm. Giddy with the joy of finding a needle in a fucking haystack, I made my way toward the cash register. I passed by the business section and saw a nice add-on for Wally’s gift: A desk set containing a pen, paper clip and something else, that all fit together as a shiny airplane. It was really cool and I was done shopping.

“Excuse me, miss?” someone said.

I looked up to see New Philly walking briskly toward me with something in his hand.

“I found it!” he exclaimed, joyful, “Would you like to have it?”

I wilted inside, overwhelmed by his generosity and ashamed of my Daffy Duck reaction to finding what I thought was the last copy. No way was I handing mine over.

“Oh, no thank you,” I said, reaching for my copy, “I found it too! See?”

“Oh that’s great,” he said, “I knew you were looking for it and I was going to give you this one.”

“Well, now we can each have a copy,” I said, “It’s a Christmas Miracle!”

“Yes it is,” he said.

“Merry Christmas,” I said.

“You too,” he said.

We smiled at each other and went our separate ways. I made my way to the cash register warm with the Christmas Spirit.

Thank you, Lou Holtz, for joining friends and strangers together as teammates and causing one of many Christmas Miracles this season and beyond. To paraphrase you, Lou, It is a fine thing to have Christmas Spirit, but the ability to discover Christmas Spirit in others is the true gift.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Riley Blogs: The Golden Star

As I gazed out the window, there was lots of snow. i couldn't go out because I was really sick. So out I went and when i got out the door, there was a strange thing outside. And I said, "What is that?"

So, I looked closer and then I knew what it was. It was a golden star! And then I touched it. So, I found it and I brought it inside and I put it in my room. I turned on the light and the then the star went on it was so bright, I fell onto my bed!

And then, I couldn't breath since it was so shiny and big. I had to run out with the star and I had to build a rocket ship to zoop it up to space. But when I got there and I put the star in space, it fell out of outer space!

I had to get back to earth and put it back where I found it. It just followed my like Mary Had a Little Lamb. So I went outside, and then I couldn't see the star anymore. I turned around and the star was following me! I just hopped of that cozy place, out of my home to look all around to see what it was. It was a very cozy house. And then I saw another cozy house when i reached a very nice place. I ran to the nice place and when right in it.

I hopped in it and I was so warm, I wanted to go fishing, but the lake was frozen. So I hopped out the door and I just squeezed.

I made my own house out of snow and by summer the house melted because it was made out of snow. So I went home through Caterpillar Lane and to my own home.

The End.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

God Bless Lightning McQueen!

For the past I don't know how long, Lucy has refused to sleep in her bed. She doesn't like it, she says. It is a twin bed with a rather firm mattress on my great grandmother's old bed frame. I admit, I can't sleep on it either. It's like sleeping on a mounded rock.
Her alternative? To sleep in our room. We've tried everything to get her to sleep in her room short of locking her in, which I'm opposed to. I never liked the idea of locking a kid up. I didn't even use a playpen very much for my kids. I'd rather they be free and deal with the consequences. We've tried letting her fall asleep on our bed or the couch and moving her to her own bed, but she'd always get up and join us anyway.
So, I had a brain wave. I took down that antique bier and put her toddler bed back in her room. We were at Walmart today and I bought her a Lightning McQueen bedding set, which includes sheets, a comforter and a pillow case. I also got a TV/VCR from my Dad, who had about 8 to spare. The sheets are light blue with little Lightning McQueens and checkered flags. The top sheet is connected to the fitted sheet at the bottom, so it won't come loose. The comforter has a giant LM on it and the pillow case features Lightning on one side and Lightning and Mater on the other. Lucy loves it.
As I write this, it's 6:21 p.m. Both of the girls are in their jammies and snuggled up in Lucy's room watching Kipper. If I play my cards right, they will be out by 7:30! This after months of 9:30...10:00...11:00 bedtimes. Maybe now, Doc and I will have some quality time together after he gets home from work at 8:30. Maybe, too, I'll be able to get some writing in.
Phew. It was worth every penny. I hope.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Egad! A Week!

I'm sorry, I haven't posted much. My timing has been off. By the time I've gotten anywhere near the computer, I've been too zapped to write. I'm going through a bit of a dry spell at the moment. Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's Been Ages Since I've Been Tagged

Some Guy did it. With any tag, there are rules; here they are:

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.So, here goes:

I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)

My first idea was to put the applesauce in the microwave. Hey, I was still tired. Could I scoop some out and put whipped cream on it? No, too solid. Why was it so damn cold in here? I walked over to the thermostat and saw that the heat hadn't clicked on all night and the temperature had dropped substantially overnight. Now, tired and hungry, I opened the access panel on the heater. There's the problem: why was someone cooking a duck in here? (SamuraiFrog)

I bent down and scooped up the uncooked duck carcass. There was no way I was going to let it go to waste, especially considering I had applesauce on hand. I placed it in a roasting pot and went back to reset the heater. As I continued to wake up, I realized that my roommate had spent the night at his girlfriend's place and couldn't have put the duck there. "How the hell did it get there?" I wondered. Just then, an already odd situation became even stranger. The lifeless duck animated, flapped its featherless wings, and began to speak. (Some Guy)

"So," he quacked, "What's with the Spiderman p.j.'s? What are you, 12? God, this place is a dump."

The duck looked around, apprising the place like he was being filmed for Flip this House.

"See," he indicated the ceiling with his scorched wing, "There's water spots on the ceiling! You've got a leak...and your vinyl flooring is warped...and your furnace is shot." The duck shook his head and folded his wings in front of his chest. "We've got a lot of work to do in six weeks."

I rubbed my eyes and blinked, "What?"

"Get yourself some coffee, throw that damn applesauce out and grab you're keys...we're going to Lowes." (Flannery Alden)

I tag:
Evil Genius
Hot Lemon

The Next American Idol Single

If they run the songwriting contest again, I have a winner for the winner. Picture a teary-eyed/sweaty youth singing this baby:

My future was uncertain,
Too many things in my way
I didn’t dare to dream for fear
Of scaring my dreams away

But now the light shines down on me
And I can find the way to go
Love has made me see
That I can have forever today


Forever today
We’ll chase our dreams together
Our fears no longer matter
Nothing stands in our way
Forever today

Every sunset, every dawn
And the moments in between
Stretch out before my eyes
Better than any dream

Take my hand and walk with me
See all the beauty on the way
Of dreams come true
Forever today

[Chorus x2] and fade out

By the way, if anyone wants to write the music, I'd appreciate it. Make sure it's sweeping, grand, full of strings and chimes and that it has lots of room for glory notes.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I'm sitting here looking at the Christmas tree. The tree sits in the corner of the living room, near the bookshelf. It's a little crooked, but it makes the angel on top look straight. There are ornament's missing and the tree skirt is behaving very immodestly. I scowl a moment, readjusting the ornaments in my mind.

The kids have done this. They love to sit in the corner, read books, and whisper to each other. A breeze of frustration furrows my brow. But then I look down and see, among the board books and picture books, is the big red Dictionary I've had since college. And I realized: I may not be able to afford to get them the latest and greatest gadgets and toys. But I can give them this: a memory. I started to see our future: They will be in college (Harvard) and too serious about their studies to date, so no boyfriends. They will be home for the holidays and we'd be sitting around the fireplace and one of them would get lost in thought while looking at the Christmas tree.

"Hey, Sister," Lucy might say, "Do you remember when we used to sit behind the Christmas tree?"

We'd all have a laugh and feel very warm. I'm pulled back into the present and begin to reapprise the Christmas Tree Situation. Let it lean.

Holiday Quiz

Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you’re home. Carol Nelson

Is this true for you? If so, why?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Proud Moment In Parenting

The kids were playing with the manger set. They each wanted to play one of the characters. Christopher wanted to be God.

"Where is God?" Taylor asked, looking for a miniature representative among the manger action figures.

"Is this God?" asked Christopher, holding up one of the three kings.

"No," said Riley, "That's God's evil minion."