Dec 31


2008: I sold two books. I quit the worst job I’ve ever had. I started writing full time. I got more sleep. I cleaned my house more. I started bicycling.

Plans for 2009: Write more. Exercise more. Eat less. Spend less.

‘Nuff said.

Dec 30

Another Best!

Well, I’m tickled. Yesterday’s post earned a “Best of Holidailies,” which gives me two “Best of”s this year! Woo!

The funny thing (at least to me) is that this year there’ve been a few posts I’ve written where I’ve finished them and said to myself, “Self, now that’s not a bad piece of writing at all. If I were to win one of the Best Of thingies, this might be a post that would do it.” And, of course, none of those ever got a nod, while two posts where I jotted off something fun and interesting did.

Now then, there are a couple of lessons I could take from this. The first could be that obviously the posts that have received Best Of nods have been more casual and relaxed, and therefore are obviously more “me” or “from the heart” kinda things.

The second could be that maybe I’m just a really shitty judge of my own writing.

I’m thinking it’s the second.

Dec 29

The rest of the story

Well, most of it. I don’t have time to write the entire full-blown story with all the details and color commentary, but the gist of how Jack and I ended up together is as follows:

Back when I was a street cop, I was involved in an call that started out as a shoplifting, turned into a pursuit, and ended up as a shooting/possible hostage situation. During this incident, the suspect shot at another deputy and then tried to shoot me, only failing to do so because his gun jammed. (Note: This is the incredibly abridged version of that incident.)

Suspect was apprehended and arrested, and several months later the matter came to trial. The prosecutor was an older (than me), seemingly gruff man, and because my role in the incident and arrest had been somewhat significant, I ended up testifying for close to an hour. After the trial the prosecutor called me and told me I’d done a good job on the stand, and then told me he’d call me about coming to the sentencing hearing. (Note: Again, somewhat abridged, but you get the drift.)

Fast forward another couple of months. I was at court for some routine traffic-type trials, and a DWI attorney asked me out. I wasn’t too sure about him, so I asked one of my teammates to ask his wife–who happened to be a prosecutor–what she thought of this DWI attorney. He came back the next day and said, “Julie said, ‘Not no, but HELL no, but what about going out with Jack?’” I said something like, “Jack Who?” at which point my teammate reminded me that Jack was the prosecutor during the big shooting trial. I said something encouraging like, “Sure, what the hell,” and the next day I got a call from Jack, asking me out.

Jack told me he was interested in taking me to a restaurant in Ponchatoula, and since he lived on the side of the parish that was closer to Ponchatoula (and I lived on the opposite end of the parish) I offered to drive to Mandeville and meet him at his condo.

Now, a quick side note: During the trial, I was dressed like a Cop. I’d just been through a several-month period of extreme fitness and weight loss, and was in the best shape of my life, however, when one is dressed in combat boots, brown polyester uniform, and duty belt, with minimal makeup and short-ish hair, one does not necessarily look terribly feminine. Or cute. Or attractive.

For this date, I’d dressed like a Girl. I was wearing black, low-rise stretch pants, a fitted white blouse, I had makeup on, and my hair was nicely styled. I looked Hot.

I made it to his condo, and when I got out of the car he looked at me and said, “Y’know, I had no idea what you really looked like. You look nice.” It’s difficult to recapture the ho-hum nonchalant way he said that, but be assured, it was definitely without any sort of exclamation mark. (I did not know at the time that he has the dryest sense of humor on the planet.)

Anyway, despite that strangely lukewarm start, I got into his car and we headed to this restaurant. We ended up having a terrific time, and talked about all sorts of things. He was funny and intelligent and interesting, and after dinner we went dancing, and then went out to the lakefront and talked about a million more things.

Eventually we returned to his condo, where he asked me if I wanted to come in for a few minutes. I said Sure. We went inside, and he started to show me around the place. All was going well until we reached the master bedroom, where he stopped and said, “I don’t remember that being there.” (Referring to a wrapped present on his bed.)

When he said that, I went into Cop-Mode and said, “You should check the rest of your residence.” (I did not realize, at the time, that Jack is frickin’ deaf, and didn’t hear me say that.) I went back out to the living room, and then suddenly heard Jack’s raised voice saying, “What are you doing here?! You need to leave!”

I turned around to see a statuesque blonde coming out of one of the other bedrooms, and Jack with a horrified expression on his face. The first thought that flashed through my mind was, “Shit. My gun is in my car.” And so, I did the only other thing I could think to do: I folded my arms across my chest, leaned back against the kitchen table, and gave her a Cop Stare. I don’t know if she realized it was a Cop Stare. She might have been thinking it was a Drunk Bimbo Stare.

Anyway, whether it was my Cop Stare or Jack’s horrified pleas, she slunk out without causing any scene. I then gave Jack a Questioning Look, at which time he informed me that he’d recently broken up with her.

I later found out that “recently” meant the day before. [insert eye roll.] Apparently she had thought that I was someone else, and when she saw that I was not the someone else who she thought I was, she was hideously embarrassed enough to not want to cause any sort of incident. (To be honest, I actually felt kinda sorry for her.)

But, despite the eventful end to the evening, I went out with him again. After the third date we were definitely “an item.” Six weeks later he asked me to marry him. By May we’d found a house to rent and had moved in together. In July we were married.

Seven years later, and we haven’t killed each other yet!

Dec 28

It was seven years ago today…

Rainy, yucky, chilly day. Needless to say, we spent the majority of the day inside.

However, on December 28th, 2001, Jack and I had our first date. We were married the following July, but somehow we end up forgetting that anniversary every single year. But we always remember and celebrate the anniversary of our first date. It was a memorable date in many ways–not the least of which was finding his ex-girlfriend hiding in his apartment when we got back there. Actually, the entire story of how we met and got together is pretty interesting, beginning with the guy who tried to shoot me when I was a street cop.

Unfortunately, it’s a little too late tonight to get into the whole story, so I’ll have to see if I can work up a better summary for tomorrow. :)

Anyway, since it was our anniversary, we braved the weather and went out. Nothing major or fancy–just some appetizers at a local sushi place, and then a movie. We went to see Marley and Me, which was a really great movie, and far more deep and touching than the previews would have one believe. One scene in particular really hit Jack and me hard because it was a damn strong echo of a very painful experience (FYI, the link will be a bit of a spoiler for the movie.) But even without that, I think that anyone who remains dry-eyed throughout the movie is obviously made of stone.


As a side note: Yesterday’s photo essay was taken by my husband a few weeks ago while we were having brunch at one of my favorite restaurants. I didn’t realize he was taking the pictures until much later, and I’d forgotten about them until yesterday when I pulled Christmas pictures off of his camera and saw those as well. I don’t think it would be possible to capture the moment any more perfectly.

Dec 27

A test of wills, in pictures

The Kid submits a request to foment chaos:

The Mother denies the request:

And reinforces the denial with The Look:

Then continues the denial with The Direct Look:

The Kid capitulates. The Mother celebrates her victory:

The Kid plots more chaos:

Dec 26

Bloody Christmas!

I woke up at 5am so that I could put the presents under the tree for Anna. (I was afraid that if I left them there all night, the cats would pee on them.) Jack woke up a bit later and we read the newspaper and drank tea while we waited for Anna to wake up.

And waited.
And waited.

Finally at 7:30 I went in and woke Anna up. “Anna! Santa came!” After a few repetitions of this, she finally woke up and became appropriately excited. She opened her presents, seemed quite happy with her haul, and then it was time for last minute cleaning since the Entire Family was coming over at 2.(The Entire Family included all five of Jack’s other kids, all five grandkids, spouses and boyfriends of the kids, mother of the kids (yes, that would be the ex-wife, with whom I get along quite nicely), husband of the mother of the kids, brother of the mother of the kids and his wife and kids, mother of the mother of the kids, my sister and her kids, and my mother. I’m sure I missed someone in there.)

Everything was going great. I had the timing of everything down pat, and I figured I’d put the turkey in the oven so that it would be finished about half an hour before everyone arrived.

That plan held out until Jack spoke to one of his daughters who told him that everything was, in fact, supposed to start at 1pm. Since it was 10 at the time, I proceeded to have a minor freak-out.

But, amazingly, everything came together, I finished the cleaning, people arrived shortly after 1, and when the turkey as finished I assigned one of the mensfolk to carve it. Everything was going great.

Until the eighteen-month old grandkid smacked his head into the edge of the dining room table and opened up a significant gash on his forehead. I did the sensible thing and yelled for my sister-the-pediatrician. She proceeded, with utter calm, to a)comfort baby and get him to stop crying, b) create a makeshift pressure bandage from one of my cheap Walgreen’s kitchen towels and a hair pony, and c) assess the injury and inform the parents that it really needed stitches in order to avoid a fairly significant scar. (My brilliant contribution was yelling for my sister in the first place.)

While the parents were getting stuff together to take the kid to the ER (since all of the Urgent Care type places were closed for Christmas), another kid came in with a nose streaming blood. Fortunately, that one was a minor issue, and was easily dealt with by her mother. But there was definitely more blood than I’m used to on a Christmas!

We waited until the parents came back from the ER to do the gift exchange, and fortunately the ER was fairly empty. They made it back shortly over an hour later with a glued-together kid, and the rest of the gathering went smoothly and with no further bloodletting.

Overall it was a pretty terrific day. Everyone got along, we ate too much, we laughed a lot, and injuries were minor. What more could you ask for?

Okay, less blood for Christmas would probably be a good thing, but I don’t want to be too demanding.

Dec 25

Very Christmas

Very large number of people over today for Christmas celebration. Very full house, and only one trip to the ER. Very nice Christmas overall. Very very tired. Very disinclined to write a more coherent blog entry at this time. Very much writing this last sentence just to get to the “minimum” of fifty words for Holidailies.

Dec 24

The Fat Man cometh

Anna is at the absolutely perfect age for whole-hearted belief in Santa. It’s utterly charming.

We made cookies this afternoon, although “make” is probably too strong a word, since all we did was cut slices off of the tube of pre-made sugar cookie dough. Once they were all on the cookie sheet, it was time for the sprinkles–which of course ended up everywhere. And then there were extra sprinkles that had to be cleaned up, which then turned into a game where we were giants eating tiny sugar people and sugar buildings. But the cutest thing was when we pulled the cookies out of the oven, and we each ate one–to be sure they were good enough for Santa, y’know? Anna took a bite, then looked at me with a big smile and said, “It tastes like Christmas!!”

After dinner we pulled up the NORAD Santa tracking website, and were able to see that Santa had already taken care of Japan, Russia, Asia, and all the way over to western Europe, and was apparently about to cross over the ocean. We (of course) told her that Santa would only come if she was asleep, at which time she announced that she was very tired and ready to go to sleep.

I know it will never be like this again. Next year she’ll have enough doubt that she won’t be as completely enthralled, as overwhelmingly willing to suspend all disbelief . I’m savoring it this year, and if, by some chance, she does still believe in Santa next year, then I’ll consider myself fortunate instead of feeling disappointment.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

Dec 23

Cleaning, writing, shopping… the usual.

The minutiae:

Spent some of the day cleaning the house. Since we’re having the ENTIRE clan (all sides and extendeds, including an ex wife and her family) over on Christmas, I’m trying to make the place look like the Nice House it has the potential to be, instead of looking like a clutter bomb went off in here–which is how it usually looks, especially if I let my family actually come inside.

Did some more and various shopping today, and also stopped at the coffee shop and managed another 1700 words. I’m finding that the coffee shop is a nice change of pace from my Lair, but I don’t think I could handle working there all the time. However, with all of the errand-running I’ve been doing, it’s the easiest solution right now. I think I’m on track to finish the incredibly shitty first draft of this book by the end of this year, but I can already see that the edits are going to probably take longer than it took to write the draft.

The miscellaneous:

I am utterly nerdly in love with Avatar: The Last Airbender. I am so glad I have a kid, because otherwise I might never have known about this show. It’s billed as a kid’s show, but man, it has some awesome worldbuilding, incredibly deft writing, and complex themes that can challenge adult viewers. And, all of the “bending” is very martial arts based–and very well done, as well–which gives me a total nerdgasm.

However, I realized that I was probably watching too much “kid” TV when I recognized that the voice actress who plays Azula on Avatar is also Sam on Danny Phantom.

Nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd. :)

Dec 22

I remembered to take notes today!

The Kid is on her Christmas Vacation, but since there is no way that I can handle having her at home while I’m trying to write AND do pre-Christmas stuff, I enrolled her in “Christmas day camp” at our gym. This day camp had the added benefit that they do a lot of physical activity, and the kids are returned in a state of utter exhaustion. Woo! Early bedtime!

As soon as I dropped her off this morning I had to head to the Verizon store to deal with the crisis du jour, which actually happened last night when Anna threw a stuffed dog at her daddy and tipped half a glass of wine onto my cell phone. Fortunately the phone itself was not damaged, which meant that I was able to pull all of my data and settings off, but the keyboard was completely non-functional. Also fortunately, the wonderful woman at the Verizon store took excellent care of me (especially after seeing how much I send Verizon every month!) and was able to deal with the insurance company and hook me up with a replacement Blackberry right then and there. Cost to me: $50 for the deductible. I know that there are many people who say that the insurance isn’t a good investment, but I know that I’ve had to use it several times for various people on my account, and it’s more than paid for itself.

After I took care of the phone issues I went to the coffee shop to get hot chocolate and maybe get some writing done. I wasn’t really in the mood to go back to the house, which turned out to be fortuitous since I ran into Erica Spindler at the coffee shop. She’s an incredibly friendly and absolutely delightful woman, and she seemed very excited to hear about my book sales. And, I managed to reach my 2000 word goal for the day in about two hours. Go me!

Then it was back the house for a bit more writing, as well as dumb things like house cleaning and laundry. However, in the evening we once again made use of the supernatural creature known as The Babysitter, and Jack and I went to a really terrific cocktail party type thing at another house in the neighborhood. The incredibly cool thing about this party was that apparently the host had been talking up the fact that I was a novelist, and thus during the party I had no less than a dozen people ask me about my writing and the book. (This is why it’s good to have an “elevator pitch” of your project. It’s terrific for explaining the book to complete strangers!) Even cooler was when the woman who puts together the newsletter for the country club asked me if I would be interested in being interviewed and featured in the June newsletter, just in time for my book’s release. Yay! Free publicity rocks!

Very full and productive day, and now I am going to bed.

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