Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

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  • Saturday, December 31, 2005

    Christmas in Wartime

    Ok, because you asked for it, a mini update, here at the last day of the year.

    Here’s my favorite Christmas Present:



    The title is “She Falls”. It is one of the last two of its kind.
    You know the artist.
    O gave it to me of course.
    I got him a combo bee veil-jacket. All he needs now is a smoker.
    Oh, yeah, and the bees themselves.

    So, the dirt. That’s what you really want.

    Well.

    Christmas didn’t happen. Not with O’s family.
    The sister-in-law didn’t want all the cousins to exchange presents together, because Middle Child would get too excited. So, she dropped our Boyos’ presents at the bookstore. (Actually, had her mom bring them in.)
    Of course, nobody had told us the plan.
    So, we wrapped presents on Christmas Eve, and O took them to his sister’s house.
    His plan, try to make nice. Wish her a Merry Christmas. See if we could come over early the next day, before my parents’ flight came in. Maybe, maybe, begin to mend fences, without kissing ass.
    Remember, my parents’ arrival at dinnertime was proclaimed

    LAME!!!

    by the sister.

    O’s family has never done Christmas Dinner. It’s always been a daytime celebration.
    All that changed when sister-in-law found out my parents’ plans.
    Then it was Christmas Dinner or Nothing.

    Lame.

    So, O went over. Got met at the door by the sister. He wished her a Merry Christmas.
    She yelled at him.
    She followed him back to the car.
    He slammed the door shut, which embarrassed him. He hates losing his temper.
    Dropped presents off at his parents’ house. Got a ration of shit. Invited his parents over on Christmas day. Came home.
    Next day. The boyos were adorable, looking at their gifts from Santa before opening them. We played with tinker toys and power tools all morning.

    O’s parents called. I invited them over, again.
    “Oh. Well, I don’t know. I have to cook for J. for tonight.”
    “Well. Ok. But if you change your mind…”
    O got another ration of shit, holiday-wrapped. Seems his sister met him at the door, and politely asked him in to talk. He stormed away without an explanation.
    Funny. Perceptions.
    One universe, many perspectives.
    Well, I’m sticking to O’s view. Call it previous first-hand experience.
    So, we spent Christmas together as a family of four. We waited most of the day to see if O’s folks would come over. Then the boyos wanted to go to the park, so we did.
    Of course, that’s when his folks called.
    Dad: “O. Give a call.” Click
    We called back. They’d already left.
    They said the next day that they’d wanted to come over, on their way to J.’s Ok.
    So, my parent’s got in, and we had a nice Christmas night, opening more presents. They left yesterday. It was a good visit.
    They babysat the boyos one night, while we went to a baby shower.
    (Yet another friend with fertility problems. That makes 5, including myself.)
    My mom invited O’s mom over. She got an earful about how we just don’t understand how hard it is to be J.
    Oh. Ok.
    Twins are nothing.
    The store going broke is nothing.
    My family 1000 miles away is nothing.
    Just like the infertility treatments were nothing.
    The break-ins were nothing.
    Getting fired for defending a 19-year-old girl from a 60-year-old pervert was nothing.

    Ok. Exhales the petty bitterness. Inhale love and truth and beauty.
    Ok. I’m done with the update. The boyos are finished with lunch, and want to play.
    I think we’ll head out to the back yard. The weather is beautiful.
    O’s gonna kill me for letting Colorado’s Big Weather Secret out.
    Anyway, have a safe, fun, happy New Year.
    I promise a bitter-free posting next time.

    Yarg. This is why I don’t keep a journal.

    Addendum: I'm not saying O and I are as blameless as new-born babes, and I'm not saying anyone has it easier (or harder) than anyone else. I'm just spouting here, because this is currently my only outlet. O gets embarrassed when he loses his temper, I feel the same when I whine. I'm blushing.

    Saturday, December 24, 2005

    The Settling Hush


    Marvin Hill


    The radio is being kind, and playing the entire catalog of Steely Dan, instead of Christmas music. Alleluia.

    The boyos are eating lunch, and being as close to gentlemen as two three-year-olds can get.

    O is working a short day, and bringing home dinner. God, I love that man!

    The coyotes are safe for now (more about that later), and the falcon is back. He had a tasty meal of sparrow under one of the pine trees.

    We’re still not sure about Christmas day plans with the psychotic sister-in-law. Apparently, she’s managed to somewhat alienate her parents now as well.

    My parents get in Christmas night. I can’t wait. Neither can the boyos.

    Colds are dissipating. Mine is being kept at bay.

    The De La Clowncar family is sleeping through the night. Go Sleep Lady!

    Des Moines Girl got her Woody! (heh heh hehe heh I said Woody)

    All is calm, all is bright. (Famous last words).

    Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, belated Solstice, just another regular old day in December, etc.

    de nada.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    Heavy Sigh




    The boyos are sick, but on the mend. I'm feeling better. O is still ill. The chicken soup I'm making tonight should help. Oh Lord, I dread December. I'm so tired. It's so cold here. The brightest spot has been, as always, my dear friends and readers. Mr. Clowncar and beloved family, up for the weekend. You still lurkin', Lil' Peewee? Des Moines Girl listening to me pour everything out on Sunday afternoon. I'm glad things are going better for you. I'll hold my breath until Christmas Day. Fantastic news, Julie! Glad to see you are in a better place, Popeye. Family and holidays are like flint and wood. I am dreading this Sunday. Everything's a mess. You can probably guess who I'm ready to burn as a Yule Log. She's hurting O. That's not a good idea. Turning him (again) into the Family Garbage Heap.
    Anyway, I'll play it cool. Follow his lead. Throw her off.
    Piss her off. I did finish a short-short (Thanks LPW), for a horror contest. 815 words. Just needs some polishing. Written in a day, as we were decorating for Christmas. When else? Life's what I look at in a mirror, everything backwards. O'd blame my lefthandedness. Gotta go. Bread dough's ready for the oven, and the boyos are probably beating me to it. Good news. I'm going into Christmas 3 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm back in a size 5. Woo!

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Dogs, Coyotes, and Foxes


    Dreaming Beast, Marvin Hill

    It’s still cold here, but not so much. My dogs have been barking, and my ankles and knees too, but this morning brought some relief. Poor, abused things.


    The sun’s so low now, that it doesn’t touch the front yard at all, except for the afternoon beams cast over the fence. They have melted a diagonal path across the lawn to the cherry tree; a carpet of green-brown grass rolled out for I don’t know whom.


    The other night, O and I listened to the coyotes, their howling set off by sirens. Coyote howls are tightly-wound orange spirals spinning out to the moon. Some local dogs joined them, but their straight blue domesticated yelps do not possess the same wild strength.


    The foxes are bedding down under the junipers again. Red furred gypsies, they wander the area, moving along to the next camp in the morning light. A flash of red, and one vaults to the top of the fence, runs along it like a squirrel, like a tightrope walker, until leaping into the next yard. They keep their sounds to themselves.

    Friday, December 09, 2005

    Tricky Devils



    "Tricky Devils" Marvin Hill - www.marvinhill.com

    Yesterday was actually a really good day. My post would lead you to believe otherwise, so I thought I’d clarify. Reading and writing are tricky devils; I guess that’s why the angel who introduced them to mankind is considered fallen.


    I had a fantastic time, going out(!) to lunch with one of my Constant Readers. She needed to get out too; her father just suffered a “small heart attack”, and she lives 1000 miles away. She’s the person I want to be when I grow up; poised, intelligent, open to learning new things, and in constant control of herself, if not her surroundings.


    I had the duck curry – tender slices of duck with the mahogany skin crisped and curling, wedges of green-striped eggplant the size of limes, crinkle-sliced zucchini, all in a curry the color and heat of a summer sunset. The warmth hit me like good whiskey, like Tullamore Dew. The conversation was even better. She’s a photographer, and we talked about her new camera, and her up-coming trip to India. We compared Thanksgivings. I didn’t go into too much detail, since she’s a mutual friend of mine and my sister-in-law’s (no, I just spew out my frustrations to a billion bloggers instead), but I got an earful of what she said about O and me. Constant Reader had a Thanksgiving, (the likes of which haven’t been seen since Popeye stumbled into that (708) Norman Rockwell painting) complete with “what I’m thankful for” speeches, and a ping pong ball tournament. Good stuff.


    Oh, and our waiter called me ‘Miss. MISS! He couldn’t have been a day over 22. So I can forgive him for coming over to our table 4 times to tell us about his photography show, and trying to get an ‘in’ with Constant Reader at the Botanical Gardens. I’ve been there. Shit, I’m still there. More power to him for trying to network.


    I’ve discovered a new toy online, called Pandora’s Box. Just go to www.pandora.com. Type in a favorite song, and it generates a play list of songs with similar characteristics. It does a good job of matching things like voice, time, instrumentation, etc., but at the same time, it doesn’t quite grasp the geist of a song. Still, it’s a good way to discover new music, and it’s something to keep your ears busy.

    I haven't yet tried the experiment of putting in U2, but I imagine that if I do, every song every recorded by Coldplay will pop up.

    Typing in 'Kate Bush' produces an interesting, if not accurate, play list. There are the usual suspects, like Tori Amos, and Vienna Teng, but a few surprises as well. I had to laugh when a song from Jesus Christ Superstar came on. Then there were The Carpenters, like broccoli on pizza. (Eat it! It’s good for you!). But, I was quite pleased with one song by a group called Over the Rhine. The song was ‘What I’ll Remember Most’ and the lyrics I caught were:


    Angel or demon
    You know that they can share one bed
    I've laid awake so long
    I've got them both inside my head

    This is what I'll remember most about dying
    So many moments like ghosts
    Slipping through my hands in vain
    You were 80% angel
    10% demon
    The rest was hard to explain


    If I were a superhero, my power would be synchronicity, as O can attest.

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Above us only sky


    Stars Marvin Hill


    Here's my obligatory "Tribute to John Lennon" Post.

    25 years ago, I saw my dad cry for the first time. "He's dead," I heard him whisper to my mom. "Why would somebody kill him?"


    My birthday is Feb. 9th, which my dad likes to point out is the day the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Sheeeew.


    My favorite John Lennon lyrics are, "Some kind of druid dude, lifting the veil."


    The last time I saw my dad cry was 20 years ago, the morning my brother didn't wake up.


    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    The History of Hell's Half Acre


    Marvin Hill Winter

    I wrote this a while back, just before we moved in. That was about a year and a half ago. A lot has changed.


    Hey, Lisa, if you've made it here, check out the previous posts about Thanksgiving, and Metatron Speaks.

    After the second burglary, we decided to put the old homestead up for sale. City life had been fun, especially in Denver, but with the neighborhood going downhill, and our little family doubling in size (twins), my husband, O, and I decided it was time to move to the ‘burbs.
    We thought the hard part would be selling our house, and that the fun part would be looking at all the great new places we could potentially call “home”.

    Uh-huh.

    The houses we looked at were truly dreadful. It wasn’t a matter of me holding out for a solid marble kitchen, or O wanting a ten car garage. We were looking at houses with serious foundation problems, 1/8" wide cracks running through walls, things like that. And these were the ones around $240,000. You should have seen the ones that were going for a measly quarter of a million(!) dollars. We were both starting to think, “Hmmm...maybe break-ins are a small price to pay for a house that isn’t falling down...we could add on to ours and hire private armed guards...yeah...”

    The only house we’d seen that I’d considered moving into was cruelly snatched away by a higher bid. I was still pining away for the Jackson house, as I call it, the way I’d pine for Colin Firth if I’d ever had even a remote shot at him.

    So O calls me from work one night and says he’ll be home late. He’s found a house on line that looks pretty good and he wants to go take a look at it right away since it’s only been up for sale for two days.

    I’m thinking, “Hey! Not fair You got to pick out our first house!” The housing market in Denver was so hectic the first go around, that O put a contract on our current house before I’d had a chance to look at it. Luckily, we have very similar tastes, and it was the best thing we’d seen. 50 offers – all higher than ours – came in after our contract was accepted, so he did the right thing. But, still!

    I was all ready to not like it just on principle.

    He came home and I asked him what he though of it. “Well,” he says, “It’s a great house...”

    And I’m thinking, “Here we go again. A house he loves that I haven’t seen.”

    “...But you’d hate it. So never mind.”

    What?
    “I’d hate it?”
    “Yup. But it’s sitting on half an acre. And it’s huge. Oh, and there’s an arched brick fireplace that is just incredible - you’d love that - oh, and a vaulted ceiling in the...”

    “But I’d hate it?

    “Yeah, you’d hate it.

    “Is it falling down?

    “Oh, no. It’s really solid. No cracks at all. All brick outside. And arched windows...

    “What about the neighborhood? Is that why I’d hate it?

    “The neighborhood is great. Very quiet and peaceful. It borders Greenwood Village. It might even BE Greenwood Village, I’m not sure.

    Blink blink.

    “So....will you PLEASE tell me WHY I would HATE it?

    “Well...it needs a little work inside.

    “A little work?

    “Yeah.

    “Ok. Define, ‘a little work’?

    “Well, there are these mirrors.

    “Mirrors.

    “Mirrors. Like, ten of them. In columns on the wall, like bars. A foot and a half of mirror, a foot and a half of wall. A foot and a half of mirror, a foot and a half of wall, and so on. Ten feet high. Floor to ceiling.”

    “Hmmm. Can they be removed?”

    “They’re attached with Liquid Nails.”

    “Is that bad?”

    “That’s bad.”

    “Hmm. But they can be removed?”

    “With some work. We’d have to patch the wall afterward.”

    “That’s why we have a good handyman on call. Anything else?”

    “The bathroom.”

    “What about it?”

    “It’s green.”

    “Green?”

    “No, GREEN.”

    “Paint?”

    “Tiles.”

    “Hmmm.”

    Green. And the toilet too.”

    “It can be replaced.”

    “Lots of work.”

    “But it CAN be replaced.”

    “Sure. I guess. There’s other stuff too...”

    “Harvest orange shag carpeting, right?”

    “Nope. Beige.”

    “Ok.”

    “But a bit old.”

    “Holes? Stains?”

    “No. Just a little old.”

    “What about the kitchen?”

    “You’ll hate it.”

    “Why?”

    “Needs updating. Ugly cabinet doors.”

    “Ok.”

    “Counter too.”

    “But the kitchen itself is in good shape? Nothing weird about it? Not really, really dinky?”

    “Kinda small, but not as small as the one we saw yesterday. About like ours, but square instead. Pergo floors in the kitchen and dining room.”

    “O?”

    “Yes?”

    “I want to see this house tomorrow.”

    “You’ll hate it. I think there’s too much work.”

    “What’s Dave’s (our realtor) number?”

    “Here.”

    Dial dial.

    “Dave? It’s Rebecca. How are you?”

    “Hey, Rebecca! What can I do for you?”

    “Well, I want to see the house you just showed O.”

    “Really? He said you’d hate it.”

    The next day, Dave and I pulled into a neighborhood I didn’t know existed, and I thought I knew that particular area. Previously, we’d be on our way to a house, passing nice-looking neighborhoods, and then we’d turn onto a street where the houses had peeling paint, “for rent” signs, dented garage doors, etc. Inevitably, the house we’d pull up to would be one of the worst, and you could almost see it listing to one side, like a ship about to go down in a storm.
    This was different. We were turning into a neighborhood I wanted to go into. Well-kept houses. Landscaping you could appreciate even in the brown days of January.

    We pulled up to a brick ranch with arched windows. Funky! It kind of reminded me of a church, but I liked it. This wasn’t your ordinary square block ranch. Dave worked the key lock box while I studied the big brick planter built into the front porch. The evergreen bush in front of it would need trimming so that you could see it from the road...

    We walked into a huge front room. What would I do with all this space?

    “Mirrors,” said Dave, pointing to the wall to our left.

    Oh, yeah. Mirrors. Oh, man.

    Mirrors. Floor to ceiling.

    But...

    We went on in. The bedrooms were to the right, and there were three of them on this floor. Two more in the basement. I looked in on the Green bathroom.

    Ok. So it was green. Actually, only the counter and the tiles around the bathtub were green. All replaceable. Heck, tiles can be painted.

    “Show me more.”

    The master bedroom had a 3/4 bath. Coming from a house that only had one bathroom, all I could say was, Yippie! The other two bedrooms, while not giant like the (sigh!) Jackson house, had two arched windows each. Big charm factor.

    The dining room’s Pergo floor was in good condition, unlike some I’d seen that were popping up due to the house heaving. The chandelier would have to go.

    The kitchen. Or should I say, The Kitchen That Time Forgot. I’m not even going to try to describe the kitchen. Well, ok, it had these white cabinet doors, which doesn’t sound too bad, except that they had these grooves routed into them to form a kind of grid. The edges had been painted salmon pink. But the best (or worst) part was the handles. Bronze arrows – weapon-type arrows – mounted dead center in each door.

    But...

    Through the kitchen, I could see the family room.

    Oh yes.

    Vaulted ceiling. A beautiful brick fireplace with an opening that arched like the windows. Built-in bookshelves on either side.

    Umm hmmm.

    Whoops...more mirrors on the wall. Oh boy. However...

    Through the glass doors in the family room to the back porch. The half acre stretched up before me.

    Yes, up.

    O hadn’t mentioned the hill.

    It was quite steep, and I had my doubts as to how much we could actually use. I wanted a big garden. I have this pipe dream of feeding my family healthy, organic food grown from the labor of my own two hands, and selling the surplus in a roadside stand. I’ve even got a logo and a name picked out for my business cards – The Urban Farmer. Stalks of wheat in front of skyscrapers. Cue the "Green Acres" theme song.

    This yard was vertical, mostly.

    The hilly part must have had a dozen trees and bushes. From out of the unmelted snow poked tall grass. Weeds, xeroscape or ornamental, I couldn’t tell.

    I could plant wildflowers. Dozens of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, lilies. A pretty little park.

    Hmmm...

    And a terraced vegetable garden.

    HHMMMMMMM...

    The basement. Basements have always given me the creeps. The only basement that hasn’t given me the creeps is the one in the (sigh!) Jackson house. This one, while not setting off my fight or flight response, was not very pretty. But, the floor was solid and flat, and the other two “bedrooms” actually received a fair amount of natural light. Oh, and there was a pool table. O tried to act nonchalant about the pool table, but I know better. He’s picturing "pool night" with the guys. I looked for a place to hang a dart board.

    Back upstairs.
    “Ya know, Dave? I think I like this house.”

    “Really?”

    “What do you think of it?”

    I have come to trust Dave. There have been some houses that, while looking ok to me, have set off a warning buzzer in Dave’s head, and there have been times when we’ve walked out without seeing the whole place. He, too, liked the (sigh!) Jackson house and was disappointed when we didn’t get it.

    “Well,” he said, “I think this is a really good house. They want $225,000 and it’s appraised at $275,000. I always think resale value, even though I know you guys are planning to stay in your next home for many years, and this place has great resale value. Half an acre lot. You can’t find that in the city. In 20 years, that’s going to be priceless. The mirrors...they need to go. The kitchen needs updating, obviously. But this is a good house. I’d say it’s second to the Jackson house.”

    He forgot to sigh before saying Jackson house, so I added it mentally. It was a good compliment, comparing this house to that one.

    In the car on the way back home, I told Dave I wasn’t worried about selling our house. My cell phone rang.
    “You hated it, right?”

    “Actually, I liked it. O? Owen? Are you there?”

    I honestly thought my phone had gone dead.

    “You’re joking me.”

    “No! I’m serious. I liked it.....O? Still there?”

    “You liked it?”

    “Yes!”

    “Serious?”

    “Serious.”

    “Ok. We’ll talk about it. Oh! We have a showing tonight at 4:30.”

    “Great! Talk to you later.”

    I closed the phone up.

    “Great news, Dave. We’ve got a showing today at 4:30. These are the people who are going to buy our house.”

    He laughed. “Sure! Why not?”

    Well, they did. And we put in our own contract on this house; which I’m calling the My Fair Lady House. Good bones, just needs a little refining.

    In the following days, I spent a lot of time thinking about the (sigh!) Jackson house. Like obsessing over a lost love, I tossed and turned at night, picturing every little detail, a hundred impossible scenarios. I felt like I’d been put into an arranged marriage with My Fair Lady. I didn’t want to feel this way, this buyer’s remorse before I’d even bought the thing. But, I just couldn’t picture any of our furniture in it. I went on this way for a week. Then, one morning, I had an idea, just a little one, for decorating the room with the fireplace. After that, I got excited. I could make this work. Heck, I had the opportunity to design the kitchen the way I wanted it. And then there was the neighborhood. Quiet, with the best school district in Colorado. No more graffiti, no thugs threatening me as I unload the boys from the car. And we’d have front row seats to the Greenwood Village fireworks in our own back yard.

    The half acre back yard.

    You know, with the vegetable garden.
    Yeah. This could work.

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Words of the day




    For O: Treppenwitz - (German) clever remark that comes to mind when it is too late to utter it.

    For Des Moines Girl: Schlimmbesserung - (German) a so-called improvement that makes things worse.

    For Anthrax de la Clowncar:
    BUZ-BAZ - (Ancient Persian) A showman who makes a goat and monkey dance together.

    For Popeye:
    PANA PO'O - (Hawaii'an) To scratch your head in order to help you to remember something you've forgotten.

    For my various lurkers (you know who you are):
    FUCHA - (Portuguese) To use company time and resources for one's own purposes.

    For me:
    YUYIN - (Chinese) The remnants of sound that stay in the ears of the hearer.


    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    Well? How did I get here?



    Ghostwriter -- Marvin Hill


    Have you ever been somewhere, somewhere fantastic, where things made you laugh, and gape and you hated to leave and when you did you couldn't wait to get back there again?
    Did you return much later, only to find that you didn't recognize it, not because it had changed, but because you had?

    That's how I'm feeling about the chapters I'm now trying to "edit." I wrote these suckers years ago, back when the world seemed a brighter place, and so much has changed now, I've changed, to the point where I cannot even begin to hook them up to the Story So Far.

    I spent all summer working toward them (chronologically), amazed that these chapters, which I thought would take place much earlier in the book now looked like they were falling in around page 200...then 250...then backed all the way to 275...and now that I stand on the threshhold, I'm reading the first one and thinking, "God, how am I going to reconcile this stuff to What's Gone Before? It's so much fluffier, and the mindsets of the characters are so different, but this is what I've been working toward, and now it's practically useless.

    Yarg.

    I guess it's a good sign, maybe, that my writing has gotten better, and that the story has evolved into something so much richer (or maybe just more complicated, which might be a bad thing, I don't know). I had high hopes of writing my way to these "fun" chapters, chapters that had flowed out of me during my 25-minute-lunch-hours at the Company Where I Sold My Soul (I even based a scene in one of these Hell chapters on this company's break room), and, once there, just doing a bit of light editing, and ba-boom! 30+pages added to the book, leading into More Fun Stuff to Write, a dramatic little turn of events, a big surprise, a tragicfunny climax, and an ending that, while standing on its own, leaves enough open for at least two more books.

    Nope.

    Looks like more writing. The place I'd wanted to get to was just a pretty mirage.

    You know, though, looking over it again, it's not completely useless. I don't think. But I'm going to have to do some fancy footwork to explain the Unliving City, and why the sky is yellow, and the necessity of traveling through the sewer that isn't a sewer unless you think it's a sewer, in which case that's all it has ever been. Until you change your mind. (Hint -- it's quantum physics, folks).

    Ok, I think I just answered my own question. Now, back to reading "Three Roads to Quantum Gravity."

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    This Post is a Train Wreck

    Yesterday I was outside on the swing, barefoot, the windows and back door open. Today, it looks like this:

    And this:

    Whew. Boyos have been asleep for about 45 minutes. An uphill battle to get them to nap lately, though God knows, we all need it.

    I have a choice. Let them nap, gain an hour or two of midday sanity, and then get them back to sleep around 10 at night, leaving O and me no time to ourselves. Or, keep them up all day, endure crabbiness from 2 o’clock on, and get them to bed around 8:30-9:00, giving us some free time together.

    We’ve been out twice together, boyless, over the past 6 months. I haven’t been away from the house since Monday night, when we schlepped the boyos to the bookstore so O could get some work done, and they could see their grandparents, and we left angry anyway, because O’s sister called (knowing we were there) and kept grandma on the phone for half an hour.

    I’m a bit brittle right now. I’m sorry if I’ve seemed flippant in any of my dealings. I’m sorry right now for bitching, when I could be getting some actual writing done.

    That, and my parents have tried calling 4 times today. I do not pick up the phone because Dottie is with them, at some damn play or another in Chicago, and I know it’s a ploy for her to talk to the boyos. I will not let that happen. She called 5 times one day, and 9 the next. I turned the sound all the way down on the answering machine, and erased each message as it came in.

    Ok.

    Ok. This is just stupid cabin fever talking.

    I might get out tomorrow, if O gets back from skeet shooting early enough. We’ll be Unexpected Guests ourselves, at a Christmas Party in Boulder. The hostess invited us, sight unseen, a couple of days ago when we bought a pair of stained glass windows for the cathedral from her off of Craigslist. She’s an interior designer, and we’ll take some manuscript leaves up to her, to see if she has any clients who might be interested. Beautiful things. I’m in love with one that has some intricate vine and flower work, from a book of hours, 1470. There’s even a smudged fingerprint from the monk who painted it. He didn’t even know that the land I now live in existed. This is fascinating to me.

    And will somebody explain to me why I can't get the fonts to stay consistant thoroughout my posts?

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Thanksgiving, Part II



    The Day of the Turkey arrives. Some of us blasphemers joyfully don our (hypothetical) Church Lady Aprons, and, wise virgins (ridiculously hypothetical) that we are, have spent the last three days preparing for the Feast. We have prepared stuffing. We have prepared corn pudding. We have prepared the Loaves and the Fishes, and lo! miraculously they have multiplied into Toasted Pita Chips with Two Kinds of Dip. We wait with longing for the Turkey Brined in Many Tasty Ingredients to complete its cooking, so that we may complete the gravy from its Sacred Juice and Drippings.

    The first guests arrive. It is the (hypothetical) mother-and-father-in-law combo, in high spirits and joyful unto the smell of the Brined and Roasted Bird. (Hypothetical) Mother-in-law assists some of us blasphemers with preparations for the feast. Joy.

    Other guests arrive, including the (hypothetical) brother-and-sister-in-law, and their (hypothetical) three children. She has brought unto the kitchen counters food amassed to feed an army. She has made everything, minus the turkey, including appetizers, stuffing, cranberry sauce and rolls. And lo! she has brought profanity into Hell’s Half Acre: powdered gravy packets. She dumps everything, and departs for the other room. Alas, what she has brought is cold, and must be warmed in the oven, but alas again, there is no room in _that_ inn. So, we must wait another 45 minutes before the feast can commence.

    Oldest Nephew cozies up to some of us blasphemers with a dvd, asking to watch it. When told yet again that the tv is off limits for the twins at this point in time because they are helpless tv junkies who become impossible to deal with when the bloody box goes off, oldest nephew sulks off, and later, some of us blasphemers learn that our hypothetical husbands were, at the same time, assaulted by their hypothetical mothers about watching a dvd “just this one time.” This does not sound like a big issue to some of our hypothetical blog readers, I’m sure, but Des Moines Girl at least can attest that this is an ongoing problem in this hypothetical family, herself having witnessed the takeover of Hell’s Half Acre when the domestic demon was out of town with her on a writer’s retreat in Mouse-World.

    In the meantime, (hypothetical) sister-in-law provokes a fight with her father, in front of her (hypothetical) friend, regarding a conversation that she had no part in. So, father-in-law seeks heaven in the kitchen, where, in his words, “My daughter-in-law doesn’t bite my damn head off.” Father-in-law piles up delectable shavings of Turkey Brined in Many Tasty Ingredients along with garnish, and proceeds alone to the family room, where he empties out a crate of firewood, sets it on its side, and begins his Thanksgiving feast alone. He has been cast out.


    Mother-in-law joins him, plate in lap. Hypothetical husband of some of us blasphemers has no idea what’s going on, since he’d been downstairs gathering chairs for the dining table which shall now be emptier. He attempts to bring the prodigal father and mother into the dining room with fruitless results. Sister-in-law, in the meantime, loads up her plate, (and her wine glass again, alleluia). I (whoops, I mean, some of us blasphemers) go downstairs to round up the five youths, in time to hear the oldest (7 years) proclaim, “It’s torture time! Her are my diabolical instruments of torture!” After a brief lecture on world events and how inappropriate torture is, up they all go. At least I haven’t caught him showing my eldest 3-year-old son any on-line porn this time, which is why I forbid my children to go to their cousins’ basement anymore.

    So, the Feast begins, family unity in two rooms. Hypothetical husband is ready for seconds when sister-in-law begins to sit down next to him in the booth. “Oh, I was going to get up,” says husband to his sister, prompting much gnashing of the teeth without the wailing. At which point, sister goes into the living room and sits on the floor to eat her meal. Now we (hypothetically) have family unity in three rooms. And some of us blasphemers must dab at food stains on the carpet after our Happy Day is over.

    Still wearing the Church Lady Aprons our (hypothetical) mothers made us, we sit down between our Unexpected Guest, and the Pariah Guest, who is the mother-in-law of our (sadly unhypothetical) sister-in-law. We have always gotten along quite well with the Pariah, since she has always been courteous and kind to us. We talk about art with the Pariah, and wedding plans with the Unexpected Guest, and we act as if nothing is out of the ordinary.

    Sister-in-law returns to the family table after husband has left, and proceeds to apologize to Unexpected Guest, in the words, “Sorry. It’s like I was telling you on the phone, my dad is weird. My whole family is weird.” (Lamentations 6:6,682,728). At least by now, she’s mostly intoxicated.

    Later, when the signs have come to pass, and it is time for dessert, four, not five pies emerge, and the lament is heard, “Didn’t you make the chocolate torte?” (Lamentations 6:6,682,729). To which some of us blasphemers reply that we had been told to refrain, but that we had supplied ample everything else. There is now the wailing that did not accompany the gnashing of teeth earlier.

    Finally, Hell’s Half Acre is purged of her unclean guests. There is no thank-you, hypothetical or otherwise, from the sister-in-law.

    Anyway, the Public Service. I propose that all families gather with the name of their Weird-or-Drama-Queen Relative on a piece of paper. The papers go into a Sorting Hat, and each family draws a new name. One family’s Weird Relative is another’s Unexpected Guest, and all goes smoothly. (apparently, my own Unexpected Guest was, indeed, her own family’s Weird Relative, and I thought she made a lovely addition to Thanksgiving, seeing as she actually sat down at the table, spoke, and brought an apple cobbler.)

    Ok. I’m done bitching. Sloppy, hard-to-read, but that’s my Thanksgiving.

    de nada.

    Just blogging around

    The guys, all three, are out for the afternoon. Bliss.

    I read an interesting little blurb on Poppy Z. Brite's site: http://www.livejournal.com/users/docbrite/

    "In our conversation, she (Poppy's new editor) said something about its being nice to work with a writer who puts a lot of thought into the first go-round. Do a great many writers send in sloppy drafts and expect their editors to fix them? I can't imagine doing that, if only because I could never trust an editor that much."

    This is amazing to me. I couldn't send a sloppy draft out of simple embarrassment. So maybe I do have a chance, if I keep working and make this thing the highest-quality draft possible.

    Ok, back to writing the Thanksgiving update.

    85,500...

    ...words written. On the button. Chapter 25. 270 consecutive pages, a bunch more that aren't. Almost to Hell.

    Speaking of Hell, I'll update Part two of "How I Spent My Favorite Holiday" here soon. I've been holding Penemuel's hand instead, which is what I am supposed to be doing, instead of complaining about events beyond my control.

    Wow. Blogs turn you into a whiner if you aren't careful.