I Love Your Eyeballs. And Fire.

Last night, Z sweetly professed his love for me. At least that’s what I chose to hear. Now, with the perspective of time, I’m wondering if it might have been a warning that certain body parts are the only thing between me and a puncture wound. He delivered the love morsel via the following unintentional haiku:
Looking a little tired, but still not stabbable.
I love your eyeballs.
I love your tongue and your hair.
I will NOT stab you.
Fitting, as SJS is now going to a Japanese immersion school. His accidental poem inspired the following, also in haiku. These are actual phrases uttered by my kids. They needed a little poetic adaptation to fit the form, but not much.
Lookit! Lookit dis!
I need to show you dis! Cool!
It came from my nose.
(Get a tissue. And if you don’t stop, you’re going to get your finger stuck up there.)
Have you ever seen
a guy with a face on fire?
That would be cool.
(This is from a kid who says he wants to be a “flamer guy” when he grows up. Whatever makes you happy, dude.)
And one from SJS,
Shoes worth begging for.
I need those new shoes.
Please! I only have 4 pairs.
Well, you have a lot.
(Touche)
And finally, me,
No, no! I said truck!
You must have heard me wrong.
I’m sure I said truck.
(I don’t think I need to explain myself. We’ve all been there.)
Do you have any of your own?
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I (sort of) WROTE (a rough draft of) A NOVEL (unfinished)!!

On a bit of a whim – which is how I tend to do most things – I decided at the end of October to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t like guessing at acronyms, that’s one for National Novel Writing Month. Admittedly, before October, I didn’t even know there was a NaNoWriMo. If you had asked me what it was, I may have even said “I don’t care,” and just walked away. Which is exactly what my husband did when I first asked him (he wasn’t trying to be mean, my timing was just really bad).

Anyway, the goal is to write the first draft of a novel, the equivalent of 50,000 words, in November. I started the month thinking that I would be happy with half of that. But now I’m at 50,248 words. I won!! And in NaNoWriMo terms that means getting access to this cool button!!

Okay, at least it’s not nothing.

The story isn’t done and it needs a lot of editing, but here’s an exerpt:
I spent the next couple of days in my room, by myself, allowing myself some self-pity, but I knew that it would be short-lived. I tried to call Peter a few times, but got the maid, who promptly hung up. Once I got his mother, who snorted before hanging up. I think I heard her say ‘trollop’ before she hung up. I heard the phone ring a few times, and I knew it was Peter. I think I found that I was glad when my mother or father hung up, as I was not prepared to have a conversation with him yet.

Did I mention the story isn’t done and needs a lot of editing? Keep in mind that the purpose was just to get the free-flowing words out on paper. And that there was some alone time and hanging up involved.

By the way: That husband who was grumpy at the top of this post? He spent a lot of evenings putting the kids to bed solo. Not always an easy task in our house. And he was amazingly supportive. He’s even started researching for me. He’s the coolest and I couldn’t have done it without him. Also, he’s never online and not on Facebook, so I can say things like this without him getting embarrassed.

Is December NaTerNoEdMo? (National Terrible Novel Editing Month?)

The Dancing Jacket

It seems appropriate that I post this on Father’s Day. My Dad, who is fabulous in his own right, learned from one of the greats: my Grandpa Mal. Yesterday I went to a great writing workshop where we were tasked with writing a very short piece about an article of clothing. The most obvious, for me, was a certain blazer that took on a persona of it’s own at my wedding. It became an ode to Grandpa. So, to the wonderful fathers in my life, Dad, Grandpa, and John, Happy Father’s Day!!

The blazer was the life of the party. It had its beginnings a long time ago and was reborn at my wedding.

I was the first of my cousins on my Father’s side to get married. Just before the ceremony, my Mother said, “Grandpa was going to wear a terrible jacket. I told him he could not!”
I didn’t know what coat she was referring to, but I knew that my mom was misguided in admonishing my Grandpa. I was disappointed that it wasn’t making an appearance.
Later, after the ceremony, as we were making our way around the reception, Grandpa mentioned something wistful about the coat.
“Your room is close. Go get it!” The bride had given her blessing, so he did.
The Blazer in Action

On the dance floor a handsome, mustachioed gentleman appeared. He sported a blazer of the finest polyester. White background, shades of red and blue weaving together into a plaid pattern that, sadly, you just can’t find today. Silky(ish) brown lining. A wide collar that has probably come back into style and will again.  

“Grandma and I used to go dancing every Saturday.” Grandpa’s friendly tanned face pulled into a grin, white caps showing.
He wasn’t dancing, just standing with the smile. “So, let’s dance!” I said. And we did.
When he got warm Grandpa Mal needed to take the jacket off, but the jacket didn’t seem to want to leave the floor. It quickly found its way on my brother’s shoulders. He insisted it had climbed onto his back of its own accord. Todd, once wrapped in the blazer, seemed to need to dance. An uncontrollable urge took over. He danced like he was on Soul Train, with a continued performance out of Solid Gold. His exuberant dancing tore a little bit of the seam in the lining.  
I put the blazer on. It compelled me to dance like a moron and like it.
It had become magical. It stayed on the dance floor, the center of attention all night.
And when the blazer made its way back to its true owner, Grandpa Mal, that’s when I could see the real magic of it. This amazing man was getting all the attention he deserved and had earned in his long life. Sure, it was just dancing after a wedding, but everyone knew who the star of the night was.
The blazer has made its appearance at several more weddings since then. Each time the lining is a little more worn, and it smells a little more like body odor. But also, each time the coat’s magical owner has strutted his stuff and by doing so has taught us so much about how we want to grow old: Happy, surrounded by family, and still willing and able to dance. 

3 Minute Fiction

I finally submitted an entry for NPR’s 3 minute fiction contest. The rules are: 600 words or less, one charachter has to tell a joke and one has to cry. I had two entries, but could only submit one. Here’s the one that didn’t make the cut:

The Big Wheel                                    
“I might pass out,” I gasped.
“Don’t think about how high up we are,” James tried to reassure me. “What a beautiful view.”
James had been hesitant to go to Paris at first, not being much of a traveler. But I had dreamed of this trip, and any time he would suggest a city in the States my one word response was: “Paris.”
Finally we arrived. James was clearly in love.
I was shocked at the garbage, graffiti, panhandlers. Despite parts of it being beautiful, it was still a city with the same challenges we saw at home.
I tended to do this – to build up my expectations too high, and so I occasionally managed to create devastating disappointments for myself. I always thought the grass was greener elsewhere and didn’t seem to learn that lesson easily.

 

flickr/korakore

 

Despite my acute fear of heights, I let him talk me into going up in the Ferris wheel, La Grande Roué at Jardin de Tuileries, in an effort to renew the romantic mystique I could no longer find. But it was too late, the curtain had been pulled back.  
James began to tell jokes to distract me. “What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino?”
“Elephino,” I gulped. “New one, please.”
“Okay.” He thought for a moment, “What’s the quickest way to a man’s heart?”
“Don’t know.”
“Just smile. That’s how you won my heart.”
I rolled my eyes. “I was already fighting getting sick.”
He gave a weak grin and I realized guiltily that he was being earnest. “Any others?” I asked, trying to sound upbeat.
“What do you get when you cross a donkey and an onion?”
Just then the big wheel lurched to a halt. We were nearly at the top. I groaned as the car we were in swung like an autumn leaf threatening to part with its branch. I tried to focus on the Arc de Triomphe instead of failing bolts.  
“You know, it was only meant to stay up for a year.” During our stay James had developed a habit of conveying what we called factlets. This one was particularly ill-timed.
I must have turned white. “Not appreciated.” 90 feet below us other lucky riders were disembarking.
“I’m sorry!” He said “That was bad. I didn’t mean…” he trailed off.  
He put his arm around me through more stops and starts. Just the day before we had skipped the Eiffel Tower – James didn’t like the long line and I couldn’t face the spindly, looming frame. Now I was controlling my breathing, wishing to be earthbound, sad about Paris, mad that James insisted on this ride. I wiped the tears off the bridge of my nose.
 Out of the corner of my eye I saw James fumble with something in his pocket. Somehow I knew what it was as he held the little velvet box against his thigh. Not now, I thought. Maybe not ever.
“I feel like I’m going to be sick,” I said hurriedly, not giving him a chance to place it before me, pretending I hadn’t seen. “This is the worst idea,” referring not just to the ride.
We had finally reached the end. The attendant opened the door as James put the little box back in his pocket.

Sing It To My Face!

I really like musicals. I like the drama and the costumes, the dancing, the lights and music. I like imagining I have that level of talent. Most of the time it’s good old escapism for an evening. But sometimes I can’t overlook that corny thing that pulls me out of the moment. It’s when I look at the actors on stage and think: that would never happen.

The same thing occurred last night when I went to see In The Heights at Keller. It is inevitable that two people in a musical or opera will end up singing into each other’s faces. This usually involves the woman holding the man’s face, then the man grabbing her hands and pulling the two of them close with their hands grasped between their heaving chests. About half the time one or the other throws their hands away and walks in a dramatic circle around their portion of the stage. The only exceptions are Rent (because the characters are sometimes two men, but really, they do the same thing) and Avenue Q (because they’re puppets).

I could be a director of one of these things.

Could you imagine if we did that to communicate with our partners? That would never happen. Although, I think it would actually be an effective way to get your point across. Especially with men who are not great at reading emotions. You’re upset that he hasn’t been helping with the housework or needs to spend more one-on-one time with the kids? Sing it to his face! Loud! Want more attention while she’s watching Project Runway? Grab her hands and make puppydog eyes while you sing!

God, that would get old fast.

So while I was watching Benny and Nina (Arielle Jacobs, who has a fabulous voice) sing into each other’s mouths, it sort of distracted from the story. It’s a bit formulaic, because Daddy never thinks anyone is good enough for his daughter. Otherwise it’s really good and I shouldn’t get pulled out of it over staging. If you’re not familiar with In The Heights – and you’re already forgiven if you don’t know of it – the you should know that I may be being a bit harsh on it. It won a bunch of Tonys in 2008.

I just think that sometimes directors should make these people a little more real. I mean, even when John and I were falling in love we didn’t do anything like that. How about staging it the way real people live* life. Like lounging at opposite ends of the couch. Or standing in the kitchen talking while secretly wondering who is going to bend and do the dishes first. And not singing.

I guess that wouldn’t work after all.

*Please note: apparently there is an exception to this singing into each other’s faces thing. Apparently it IS the norm in Finlandto do it. I don’t know. I’ve never been.

The Littlest Realtor

My son came with me to view a home with some friends this morning. He ran around and checked out the vacant house, but mostly he was just concerned with running around in circles with his friends,.

It made me think of how different the two kids are. At about the same age, my daughter was more interested in the house itself and playacting that she was just like Mommy. She was also much more verbal (first kid and girl, you know the deal). Her perspective and interest have since changed. Or maybe I should say disinterest. She declined to come with us to the house and instead stayed at home, snuggled in with her Daddy. Perhaps mommy’s job has lost a bit of its allure. Perhaps she agrees with those who think it wll take nearly a decade to recover and doesn’t see it as a great career option. Anyway, here is a re-post of something I wrote on Active Rain a while back. I thought it was interesting given the differences in the two kids…
I’ve been a working mom my daughter’s entire 2 ½ years. It’s part of our routine. She came with me to preview homes when she was only two months old. Every summer my husband will walk her by houses that I’m holding open.
On the Merry Go RoundBeing able to work around and with my daughter is part of what makes real estate a great career. It provides my daughter with some special insight into what mommy does, too.
The other day I heard her playing in her room with her dolls.
“You like this house,” she said to her baby.

My ears perked up and I tried to listen in without interrupting. In her little two year old voice and pronunciation, she was showing a house.

“There is a master bedroom and that’s your bathroom. And you like the closet.” Around Portland’s East side there is a lack of master suites with good size closets. Apparently even she has noticed.

“It’s a pretty house and that’s the sidewalk. It’s not my house but you should live here,” she gave her dolly quite a sales pitch.

A few weeks back I previewed some houses with her for a client. I thought she’d be bored so I tried to hurry through. It was a vacant house with a very large living room, so I left her running circles around the room while I ran upstairs to glimpse the bedrooms. When I came down she was in the kitchen.

“Are those new, Mommy?” She asked, pointing to the appliances.

In the living room, she asked if the fireplace worked. And when I tried to leave without checking the basement, I quickly was re-directed downstairs. “You need to look down there,” she insisted. “To see if there is water.”

You hear all the time that kids are like sponges. I know it’s true, but it still amazes me. How do they pick this up so quickly?

The same afternoon when I overheard her acting out Realtor games with her dolls, I asked her what she had been playing.

“Nothing,” she dismissed it. “Just only looking at a house.”

“Oh, was it fun?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s my work.” She said before she changed the subject.

The best realtors I know are honest, hard working, balance work and family, and have other people’s interest at heart. If my daughter wants to do that, then she has my blessing. I hope to live up to those standards myself. I get a little help daily from the smallest realtor I know.

Let’s DO This Thing

For the record, let me just say that I think that people who Blog are crazy. They often share too much and are probably a little narcissistic. But there’s a “but.” I like to read them, it’s nice to see that others are as weird or normal or whatever as you, and it’s fun to write. And, maybe, I also find myself gazing at my reflection a little, too.

Not my lieteral reflection. It’s a little too uninteresting for my taste. I like a little bit of the exotic. But reflection in the dictionary’s “fixing of the thoughts on something” way. [I wanted to insert a pic of me looking reflective in a mirrored reflection. It was A) too silly and 2) Um, when did I get those sunspots?]

Last weekend I skipped my college reunion. Let’s just say it was my 10 year reunion. Just say. Instead I went with some girlfriends to the coast.We relaxed and drank fancy drinks and talked and had an impromptu dance party and talked more. (BTW, happy birthday Jen).

Arch Cape with the ladies

 

We weren’t there for any sort of retreat, but there were a few conversations that felt a little bit that way. We had a support group for floundering carreers. We had a kumbaya session on how we actually really like our husbands. I realize the cheeziness of it, but it was really nice. I left the weekend feeling really good about life and my place in the world.

As I was driving home I thought, no, reflected on this. I decided that I’m finally feeling inspired to actually write instead of talking about writing. So here it is. I have no idea who will read it, but it doesn’t really matter. I have friends who support me, kids who love me and a solid rock of a husband who both loves and supports me. I’m going to write whenever I can.

Then I got home and walked in to flopping, boneless, tantrumish kids. I realized that taxes were due and I hadn’t even started them. I was behind on paperwork for a couple of transactions for work. Ugh. What was I feeling just a moment ago? Inspired? Yeah, I’m having trouble locating that feeling again.

No, no, scratch that. The kids are fine, they just missed me. The taxes, after pulling my first all-nighter since the aforementioned college, are all done. The paperwork is fine thanks to my fabulous transaction coordinator. It’s all good.

Let’s DO this thing. I say this knowing that with so many projects I start out strong and energized and lose momentum a little too easily. I have some problems with follow-through. No, really I do.

So (for now) let’s DO this thing!