Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Day Came Today--at the Hair Salon

When am I going to learn to keep my mouth shut? Especially when I'm around a younger, hipper crowd? Maybe it has something to do with my impending forty-second birthday, or maybe I'm just not that good at comedic reference. But you would think I would have learned this lesson by now.
I went to get my hair done today. As I was checking out, three twenty-somethings stood behind the counter and one of them complimented my newly cut and colored coif.
"Thanks." I smiled and tossed my hair back and forth. After all, having my hair done does make me feel like a new woman. "It's bouncin' and behavin'."
The three women suddenly seemed much younger than my original estimation. Perhaps they were in their late teens? They stared at me quizzically. One of them even had the nerve to go slack jawed.
"You don't remember Agree shampoo? It smelled like different kinds of fruit--you know, strawberries, sour apples? And the commercials always had this blond tossing her hair around. She'd say, "I love Agree shampoo. It makes my hair bouncin' and behavin'!"
The three girls exchanged glances and smiled awkwardly. Maybe they weren't even in their late teens. Maybe they'd just purchased their first training bras.
But do you think their embarrassed looks stopped me? No way, Jose! Onward and downward I fell into the death spiral of middle-aged patheticness.
"I guess you don't remember Love's Baby Soft, either?" Then I did the unthinkable: I started singing the commercial's song--you know, to jar their memories. "You can try hard, or you can try soft. Love's will get 'em every ti-i-ime..."
The girls shook their heads. "Love's Baby Soft?"
I took another stab. "Underoos?"
"I'm a Pepper, he's a Pepper?" Beads of sweat began to dot my forehead. "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too? With the guy from An American Werewolf in London swinging on the lamppost like Gene Kelly in--"
That's when I felt the bony finger of reality tap me on the shoulder. I turned and saw Father Time shaking his head in dismay. Stop while you're (sort of) ahead, he seemed to say. If this trio wasn't around for such pop culture phenoms like the ones I'd rattled off they sure as heck weren't going to recognize Gene Kelly and Singin' in the Rain.
They smiled sheepishly once more and one of the shrugged her shoulders. "Sorry, Mrs. Lost in the Way-Back Machine."
I waved my hand and smiled--laughed at myself, really. I guess it's good I provided some laughter for them, too. "That's okay, girls." And as I exited the salon I said under my breath, "Your day will come."
So how many others out there are like me? What commercials/products do you remember from way back when?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The "Out" Crowd

I'm having a tough time making my way through the 3rd draft of my current WIP. I think part of my problem has to do with reading message boards on the Absolute Write water cooler, which I think is a great site. Whenever I read posts about authors who've attracted an agent's attention I learn it's because they've written a "YA, urban fantasy" novel. What the ??? I don't write this kind of fiction. I'm writing lit fic for women about issues I feel pertain to the every day woman. I'm not seeing agent excitement about my kind of writing. It's a little disheartening. I guess I'm not part of the "in" literary crowd. I know I should write "what I know" and about issues that move me and I should write for myself, blah, blah, blah. Unless I develop a teenaged vampire blessed with superpowers who harkens from some subterranean netherworld to fight the wrongs of humanity I don't think I'm going to see the light of day in the publishing world. Agents and publishers say they don't want gimmicks, but this kind of fiction feels gimmicky to me. Publishing is a business like any other and those involved want to make money. That's the bottom line. If actually publishing a novel is the be-all and end-all for me I guess I'd better trunk my current novel and get to work on my "YA urban fantasy." Whatever that is. Maybe I should come up with a whole new genre: the middle-aged female suburban reality novel. Sound sexy??

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Great Time to be Alive!

As I sit amidst the construction site that is my office (more on that later) my thoughts are consumed with the meaning of this day--the celebration of Martin Luther King and the impact his beliefs and work have had on our society. The United States has come a long way in the 45 years since his famous speech, and I can only imagine what he'd say tomorrow if he were still alive. I wish he was here to comment, because I know he'd say something eloquent and profound and I know I'd learn something. I can also only imagine what it feels like for the millions of African-Americans in this country as they finally watch one of their own move into the White House. I don't mean to mitigate the occasion by making it a black-and-white thing; but if I were African-American, I know I'd be over the moon! I have to be honest and say I wasn't sure I'd ever see a black president in my lifetime. I believed we'd see a white female at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue before we saw an African-American man. Boy, was I wrong!
I was a big Hillary supporter. I even changed my political affiliation in order to help her win Ohio in the primary. (I was an Independent before). And I'm even more embarrassed to admit that when push came to shove I voted for John McCain in the general election. Truth is I didn't feel passionately about either candidate. I really wanted Hillary to be the Democratic presidential nominee and when those hopes crumbled, I kind of lost interest. I know. Hard to believe, especially if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. How could anyone not have been swept up in the exuberance that was Barack Obama's campaign? It does seem odd, especially now that I feel very hopeful and excited about him being our president. Let's just say I arrived "fashionably late" to the party. ;o)
Before November's election i listed the pros and cons of each candidate. I just didn't feel strongly moved one way or the other. It was disheartening to feel such apathy just hours before I went to vote. I'd never experienced that kind of indifference before. But a number of things bothered me about Mr. Obama, the least of which was his skin color. (I'm not going to belabor those concerns now because that's not what my post is about).
I'm not embarrassed to admit that I got it wrong. I hesitated in the voting booth and made the wrong choice. I am confident the rest of the country got it right, and I am eager to watch tomorrow's events unfold on TV. I'm happy that my children--that all of us--will witness history in action when Mr. Obama is sworn in as our 44th president. Tomorrow at noon will be another one of those, "I remember where I was when" moments. I've had a number of them in my lifetime and unfortunately, they've mostly been sad occasions: when John Lennon was murdered; when President Reagan was shot; the space shuttle disaster; and of course, 9/11. It warms me to know I'll be able to say with pride, "I remember where I was when Barack Obama was sworn into office." I'll be able to tell my grandchildren that I was sitting by myself in my family room when it happened. So Dr. King's dream may not be fully realized just yet as there are still strides to be made when it comes to race relations in the United States, but a large chunk of his reverie will come to fruition in less than 24 hours. Half of me still can't believe it's happening.
As for my office...my husband, talented woodworker and perfectionist that he is (thank God!) is building bookshelves for me in hopes that someday, when my picture is taken to show "the author at work at home" (ha ha) it will look like I have a real literary-style study/office. I'm kidding. I just need more bookshelf room and he likes doing projects that involve cutting wood with a saw. He's even thinking of installing a gas fireplace--even more worthy of a writer's office! I'll never want to leave the room! I know they'll be wonderful once they're finished, but for now this is what will surround me when I write over the next couple of months:

I'll keep you posted on his progress!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's My Blog and I'll Vent if I Want To!

It's beyond frigid here in northeast Ohio, like I know it is elsewhere. This is the window in my outside garage door. Beautiful, I think. The kids have off from school today. I'm hoping my daughter's riding lesson is cancelled as well. I don't want to hang out in that barn that's already cold enough. It's -12 and -25 with the wind chill, I believe. A good day to stay in and rent a movie, but first I feel the need to vent.
I'm feeling down this week. Down about my writing and the chances of getting my novel published, down about my weight and dislike of workouts, down about well-meaning friends/acquaintances who think they can comment about said weight and dislike of workouts (you can't, BTW, no one can!) down about agents and publishers who don't even acknowlege my submissions (I know...everyone's busy). (Dan, if you're reading this, don't get mad at me...I'm just venting frustration). Ugh. Sorry. Had to purge that publicly. I waiting to hear if my Six Sentences have made it into their next book and also on short story I submitted for another lit journal. I really hope both of these pieces see the light of day. It's these small victories that keep me going.
Okay. Excuse me while I hoist up my boot straps. I did open my email and receive a positive note--my blog was randomly chosen from the lottery at Query Tracker and I won an upgraded membership for one year! They're also going to post the link to my blog on their blog. Woo hoo!! I never win anything. Maybe this points to brighter things in my future. And if you're someone who's visiting my blog from the link on their web site, welcome! I'm not usually this forlorn. I think the cold's gotten to my brain. Stay warm, everyone!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Have Very Talented Friends!

I'd like to draw people's attention to my talented writer's group cohorts. My friend, Diane, who started our writing group and has just had a chapbook of poems published. She's also had poems published in different journals, and she self-published her first novel a few years ago. Please click on the Coexist link on the left hand side of my blog to find out how to order her chapbook. Having a chapbook published is a big deal for a poet. Diane is very talented and I think anyone would appreciate her work. She's also a talented artist! My other writing friend, Dan, has just self-published his first novel, Nadir's Fire. You can find Dan if you follow the link for Jeff's New Motorcycle. I'd planned to take a picture of both books and upload them here, but I can't seem to find my copy of Nadir's Fire anywhere...(ahem, Dan. I've yet to receive my copy, but I guess I could go on Amazon and find it myself...). Please support these talented writers. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, January 12, 2009

This is another thing I deal with when it snows: a dog who loves to dig in the snow and come inside full of snowballs!! Our dog, Divot, is a hound, so his nose goes right into the dirt--snow or no snow. You can sort of see some of the trails he's created with his nose in that top picture. When he starts tracking a scent, there's no getting him back inside. We call his name, (to no avail) and shake the bag of dog treats to grab his attention. We love him dearly, but hounds are something else when they think they're about to nab a bunny or mole or squirrel. There's no breaking that centuries-bred concentration. When he finally agrees to come inside, we have to deal with snowballs caked on his muzzle and paws. We try to get them off with a towel, but they end up melting off and we're left with small puddles in our kitchen, dining room, hallway and family room. I can't imagine my life without dogs, but I can envision a life where I never slip in another snowball puddle!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This is one view from my back door this morning. We've already got about 6" of snow on the ground, and more is falling right now. We're due for another 4-8 inches. This is what it's like living outside of Cleveland in the winter--like God is shaking powdered sugar all over us. Now I know what it feels like for cakes and cookies and whatever else we shake powdered sugar on! A snowfall like this is beautiful, but I realize I'm only saying that because it's a Saturday morning rather than a Monday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Beginning to Fade...

I almost clicked on "delete my Google account" this morning, but thought I'd give blogging another go. I'm finding that I just don't have the time or drive or inspiration to post every day or every other day. I appreciate it when the bloggers I follow post frequently, yet I can't maintain this standard for myself. Also, it seems to take energy away from my own writing. I'm working on the third draft of my WIP, although I'm not sure why I'm even doing that. With all the bad news in the publishing industry and agents and publishers saying they're hesitant to take on new writers and new projects I wonder why I continue at this point. It's so depressing at times. The other day I followed up on some of my submissions from earlier in the fall. I checked one publisher's web site--one I felt I had a good shot with--only to find a disclaimer saying they're no longer accepting submissions. If anyone had submitted to them prior to "Black Wednesday" we can contact them to check the status of our project, but they're not publishing anything new at this point. And this is a publisher who publishes fiction from first-time authors. I was crushed. My husband says this is probably a good time to just buckle down, put my nose to the grindstone and keep working while the publishing industry waits for the dust to settle. I guess he's right. Maybe I will have more time to blog after all.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!!!!

My family and I arrived home this afternoon after more than a week visiting family back east . We had a great time--saw the Rockettes at Radio City, went tubing, ate too much and just enjoyed being with loved ones. We were eager to get back home, though. We missed our routines and our doggies, Molly and Divot. After a lot of barking, tail wagging and licking we punched the message button on our answering machine and received a not-so-pleasant message from a disgruntled neighbor couple who apparently have too much time on their hands. They'd called with a gripe about our landscaping and how natural "debris" from some of our plants floats into their yard. They were nasty and rude. My husband and I bit our tongues and forced ourselves to take deep, cleansing breaths. What a way to start the New Year! We discussed what's truly important in life and counted our blessings. This is what I wish for everyone in my life--disgruntled neighbors included--to always remember what's important, to count our blessings and be grateful. Life could end tomorrow and how humbling would it be to face the time we've wasted consumed with the most trivial of matters. I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2009, and I hope no one reading this gets their undies in a wad over Mother Nature and the debris she drops here and there. Life is just too darn short.