Dec 19

Not quite how I pictured the day going.

The Grand Plan today was for me to take the day off of work, run some errands in the morning, go to my annual lube and oil change at 10:30 (and no, I’m not talking about my car), and then meet my sister in Slidell to go to Mississippi and do Christmas shopping–with the hope that I would be able to finish up the majority of my shopping today.

I managed to pick up my cleaning lady on time and left her at my house, then did manage to get my car mostly cleaned out and vacuumed, but did not accomplish getting my oil changed (and yes, I am talking about my car this time) because the line at the Express Lube was long and they were not being very Express-y. Went to my annual checkup, had the usual ignominies inflicted upon me, was informed that since I am now forty I get some exciting new ignominies as well like getting my boobies squashed between two plates of glass, and then also informed that because I had come in with a specific complaint I needed to schedule an ultrasound because god knows I had not yet had enough foreign objects shoved up my nethers.

Anyway. Finally finished all of that fun and giggles, and went to pick up my sister. Since I had not accomplished oil change in my car, and since it is kinda overdue, I asked if we could take her car. She was fine with that, and so we headed to Mississippi.

We hadn’t even arrived at our first destination, when my sister coughed. Then everything fell apart.

Okay, I have to back up a bit. On Sunday, while Jack and I went to the Saints game and my sister was being kind and generous and watching Anna for us, my sister managed to take a bit of a tumble down the stairs from her attic. She’s been stiff and sore since then, but still generally mobile.

Until she coughed. Then she turned six shades of pale, and pulled over at the nearest possible opportunity. (General consensus was that she’d managed to finish breaking a rib with her ill-fated cough.) Needless to say, we did not continue our shopping. Instead I took her back to her house, where we ate chocolate and watched “The Devil Wears Prada” while Sherry tried to not move, breathe, laugh, hiccup, cough, or twitch.

Eventually my brother-in-law made it home, and he drove me back to my car (which had been left at my sister’s office) and I finally made my way home. At home, I discovered that there were two Netflix DVDs in the mailbox: “Flight 93″ which I did NOT pick, and “The Breakup” which I also did not pick, but which I figured would be a bit more entertaining and non-depressing than the 9/11 flick.

Jeeez, I though this was supposed to be a romantic comedy? This movie is a HUGE downer and not to be seen if you have even the slightest issue with anything your partner does. We watched the first hour of it without seeing ANYTHING that was funny, and finally turned it off, instantly feeling happier and more settled in comparison.

Finally I kicked both Anna and Jack upstairs and captured some time to myself. After I finish this entry I’m going to curl up on the couch with a book, and pretend that Christmas is not in six days and that I have presents for everyone, already wrapped and labeled.

I may need more alcohol for that last fantasy.

Dec 18

Enjoying Christmas

I have barely any of my christmas shopping done so far this year, but I’m actually enjoying the season, which is a bit of a rarity for me. Usually I’m a total stress-ball about this time of year, having to deal with a zillion different people for whom I need to get gifts, as well as the usual stresses of who is going where on what day–the perils of having scattered family all over the place.

But this year is fun, and I totally blame it on Anna. She’s utterly delighted at the entire concept. She announces with great regularity that she LOVES Santa, and LOVES Christmas, and LOVES Rudolph. She gets upset if the lights on the tree are not lit, and has already laid so much guilt on me for the fact that we have no lights outside our house that I know that before Christmas Eve, I’ll be out on a ladder nailing lights onto our house to appease her. She sings Christmas carols constantly while in her car seat, but it’s just so darn cute when she does that it’s impossible to get sick of it. Especially since she tends to be a bit liberal with the actual wording:

Rudoff red nose raindeah, has a shiny nose! And if you saw him! You would say we’re closed!

I’m counting down the days to Christmas as eagerly as any kid, just because I can’t wait to see how she reacts to Christmas morning.

Dec 17

Terse entry #2

Jack and I went to the Saints game today. They failed to win, but managed to clinch the division anyway.

While at the game, I took a picture of this sign. (It was taken with my phone, which is why the quality isn’t the greatest.)

Dec 16

Terse entry #1

I warned you that this weekend’s entries were going to be short and sweet.

So, I’m going to cheat a bit and give you a video of Anna at the playground.

Dec 15

Weekend update a day early

I’m continuing to slog through the rewrites of El Novel. It’s actually starting to gel together into something that might possibly Not Suck. I’m up late working on it since I know I’ll have zero opportunity to do so this weekend. I’ve completely given up trying to do any writing on the weekends. It just never works. Tomorrow I have another (and hopefully my last for a while) signing, this time across the river in Harvey. If I have any loyal fans from Harvey who read this (HA!), feel free to drop by the Barnes & Noble and say hi.

(I’m not going to hold my breath.)

And then on Sunday Jack and I are going to the Saints game, which is damn near guaranteed to be a fantastic time, especially since my sister (grudgingly) agreed to watch Anna while we’re at the game. I’ll probably need to write my Sunday entry early, just in case.

So, yeah, journal entry writing is the only writing that’ll be happening over the weekend.

Dec 14

If not for holidailies

Yes, this is definitely one of those days that the journal would be entry-less if not for the challenge of holidailies. One of those days where nothing was too spectacular or interesting. Nothing was too terribly out of the ordinary or worth spending too many sentences on.

We posted four bodies this morning: a murder/suicide, a week-old decomp (peeyoo!), and a man with a heart the size of Kansas (sometimes a big heart is not a good thing.)

On the way home from work I spent half an hour dialing the number to a local radio station because I KNEW the answer to their quiz. For half an hour the DJ kept coming on and urging people to keep trying because no one was getting it right. I never did get through, and someone else won the prize. Phooey.

I went to the gym and worked out. Have I mentioned that I totally frickin’ hate my gym? Well, I totally frickin’ hate my gym. We had to leave my wonderful metal-head powerlifting gym because there was no childcare, and so we transferred to a more popular mega-gym which has fantastic childcare. I love the childcare, but hate the gym itself. It’s not friendly at all. No one talks to anyone else. The cardio machines are always crowded, and I hate the way the free weight room is laid out. Hmmph.

Anyway, I worked shoulders and abs, then did half an hour of cardio. Woo.

Picked up the kid, then went home, made a turkey sandwich, and helped Anna go poopoo on the toilet. Anna sometimes has a hard time getting things to come on out when she’s on the potty, and so when it’s a tough one she wants me to hug her while she’s trying. So, I knelt on the bathroom floor and murmured encouragement to her and hugged her and rubbed her lower back while she valiantly pushed out a respectable fart.

I gave Anna a bath and then Jack took her upstairs to put her to bed. Anna is such a creature of routine and habit that Jack and I have decided that it works best if just one person attempts to do certain things. When he puts her to bed it takes a whole ten minutes to get her to sleep. When I try, it takes and hour and a half. On the other hand, in the mornings, I can get her fed, dressed, combed and brushed in nothing flat, while he ends up dealing with shrieking meltdowns if he tries it. Anna knows when things aren’t being done just right.

And finally, as I listened on the monitor to Jack reading Anna a bedtime story, my youngest stepdaughter called to tell me that she felt lousy and had thrown up but she’d just started her period and maybe that was it and what did I think she should do? I wondered briefly why she wasn’t asking her mother this, but I think that my role with her has become one of much-older-big-sister, and I guess sometimes you just need sometime to say, Yeah, that sucks, and you should try taking an Aleve and lie on a heating pad, because when I start MY period I feel like crap the first day too and drink lots of water and eat something plain like crackers. And that’s not really the kind of thing you can hear as easily coming from your mother, I think. I dunno, but I thought it was kinda cool that she called me wanting some commiseration.

So now Anna is asleep, I’m getting ready to watch the episode of “30 Rock” that I recorded on the DVR earlier, and I’m finishing up this post.

See? Not much to the day.

Dec 13

My hyperawareness of mortality

There’s something to be said for dealing with death on a daily basis. It makes a person more grateful, more appreciative for the life they do possess. It also makes a person more aware how incredibly fragile life is, how sometimes just the merest breath of chance is enough to take it away. It makes a person face the reality that death can be unspeakably unfair, and horrific and tragic accidents can befall anybody, no matter how nice or mean or good or evil the person is. It takes decades for a person to reach full growth, and sometimes more to reach potential, and yet it can be wiped out in the space between one heartbeat and the next.

Every time I have to deal with a dead child I can’t help but think of my own daughter on that table, a similar tragedy or sudden illness happening to her. I try so hard to appreciate her, to savor every moment with her, but I sometimes fail, as all parents do from time to time. There are times when I don’t want to spend any more quality time with her, when I just want her to go to bed so that I can get some work done. But then something happens that reminds me to appreciate the time I have with her, that pushes me to remember the lilt of her laugh, or the delighted shriek she makes when I pick her up and swing her around.

People wonder how I can do the work that I do. It’s gross, it’s smelly, it’s shocking and obscene.

But it reminds me of how fortunate I am, and for me, that’s what makes the job worth doing.

Dec 12

Committing mass murder

They say that good writers are not afraid to murder their darlings.

Or maybe they can still be afraid, but they do not hesitate to murder their darlings.

Okay, maybe they hesitate too. Maybe they agonize and debate, and tell themselves that their darlings surely don’t mean to inflict the harm, the hurt. Their darlings are really good and decent, and don’t deserve to be slashed mercilessly. Their darlings, their precious beloved darlings are just misunderstood. Perhaps they are merely in the wrong place, or presented in a poor light.

No. The only way to deal with them is to hunt them down, stalking the errant prose with cold precision. No mercy can be shown to them, darlings though they may be. The blood of the writer must be like ice water as she brutally slices away at them, letters and punctuation spattering the walls with literary gore, hacking away at the gobbets of story, character arc weakly pulsing as the plot dribbles away and forms a sticky pool on the page. Only then can the writer drop the knife with a wet thud as she takes a shaking breath, dragging an imbrued hand across her face. Then she can kick aside the lifeless meat, and gather up the pieces she can use, the parts of her monster that she is certain can be given new life.

Sometimes the darlings simply must be murdered.


In other news, I realized this week that I needed to completely rewrite the first two chapters of my novel, which is forcing changes to the rest of it as well. Unfortunately, it really was needed, and I think it’s going to be a MUCH better book for the murderous rampage. This will add at least a month to my projected finish date, but I figure that’s better than finishing it up and realizing that it’s wrong.


Dec 11

Another side of parenting: Stepmomming

My youngest stepdaughter (18) came over tonight because she needed help with her physics project. Yes, of all the people in the family, I’m the one she calls on. “You’re the smartest person I know!” she wailed piteously as she handed me the sheet with her (due tomorrow) project on it.

I’m getting really good at High School Senior Physics Projects. Sheesh.

Anyway, that’s why today’s entry is sparse.

Dec 10


Shockingly enough, Anna slept until 7:30 in the morning. I’m still stunned that the child slept 14 hours.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining.


This morning, after Anna’s dose of milk and “Wiggles”, she grabbed my hand and dragged me into the dining room, whereupon she plopped down onto her stomach to peer under the christmas tree. A few seconds later she got up again, a pitfully forlorn expression on her face. I had to explain to her then that she had to tell Santa what she wanted for christmas, and then had to wait for Santa to come and bring the toys.

See, I want her to believe in Santa, at least for a few years. I don’t ever recall really believing in Santa. It’s not that my parents ever actively disabused me of the notion that Santa Claus was real, but at the same time they never really tried to make me believe that there was a fat guy who lived at the north pole and delivered toys in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

But I want her to believe. I want her to experience–even briefly–that pure acceptance that there is magic and wonder and incredible stuff in the world. I’m hoping that when she gets older and has to give up that belief, that maybe that acceptance of wonder and magic and special will linger, even though she will have to accept that there is no fat guy at the north pole who rides a sleigh.

We took her to see Santa today, i.e. we took her to get her picture taken with the mall Santa. It was worth paying $25 for one 5×7 and 4 wallet sized pictures, though, because this is one of those mall Santas that really is a big white-bearded guy, not just some teenager in a fake white beard. I was expecting Anna to freak out at being put on the lap of a total stranger, but she didn’t. She just looked at him in awe and wonder and sat quietly with a small smile on her face as the picture was taken.

After the picture Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She got a coy smile on her face, looked at me, then looked back at Santa and said, “A PUPPY!”

A puppy.

Then again, her belief in Santa may not last past this christmas morning.

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