Archive for October, 2010

… and that blog features grammar mistakes!

Sign on the window of a Savannah house

Thanks, Rachael, for the contribution!

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My time in California was all about observations.

I observed nature at its best.

I observed punctuation at its worst.

And I observed the habitats of the best and worst celebrities — at a safe distance.

Steve Carell's house

George Lopez's house decked out for Halloween

Miley Cyrus' gate

Yes, let’s call it “observation” and not that unpleasant other term: stalking.

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One of the greatest parts of my job — and there are many great parts — is that I get to travel to different high schools to give workshops about writing. Today, I was at Idyllwild Arts Academy to talk about writing for the Web and new media.

The school reminds me of the Camp Fire Girl camp I used to attend: Camp Toccoa. They are both all woodsy and have log cabins and wooden signs. Idyllwild is sleepaway high school, otherwise known as boarding school.

Here’s a view toward the library where I gave my presentation.

I’ll bet you couldn’t tell that Idyllwild is in Southern California. It’s in the San Jacinto Mountains between Palm Springs and Los Angeles. That scenery is VERY different from the landscape I drove through to get there. What follows is my interior monologue as I made my way from I-10 to California 243:

Scrubby scrub tumbleweed dust dirt this place is so dry tumbleweed loofah scrubby scrub scrub hey now here are some boulders wow there are lots of boulders is that a joshua tree this is getting kind of high this road is curving what is the speed limit great now my radio station is gone but I’m not going to stop to fix it let’s shut it off who is texting me right now must focus on this expletive road and holy cow this road is steep and expletive there are no expletive guard rails why wouldn’t they put in guard rails oh my God it’s raining now too and this road goes on forever and I’m afraid I’m going to drive off the side there’s expletive fog expletive now fantastic where is this expletive place I don’t want to die holy expletive elevation 6,000!

There are no guard rails in places I think there should be guard rails:

And this part of the trek reminded me of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, and the road to El Yunque in Puerto Rico:

It was a harrowing journey in the fog in a rental car. Clearly I made it alive, and the students in the workshop were worth the trek.

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Rejecting the rejector

My fat took the letter well, and seems to be going away quietly. At least according to the YMCA scale, which reveals that there’s five pounds less of me.


The miracle of eating heathfully and exercising more. What a novel concept!

Since I began my exercise class extravaganza, I’ve also invested in more appropriate outfits to replace my T-shirts and sweats.

My taste runs more along the lines of this:

Rebecca Romijn, appropriately clothed

rather than this:

Kim Kardashian. Oh HELL no.

And you will NEVER catch me dressed like this, even if I manage to lose every single ounce of fat:

Jamie Lee Curtis in "Perfect," wearing an outfit looking not-so-perfect in the glow of 2010

Struggling through the torture of “Awesome Abs” today also helped tamp down a minor disappointment: McSweeney’s* did not like my open letter as much as my friends did.


Oh well. Rejection is nothing new for a writer.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
~Samuel Beckett
Or, alternatively,
I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, ‘To hell with you.’ ~Saul Bellow


* A friend suggested I submit it for their “Open letters to people or entities who are unlikely to respond” section.

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Error extravaganza

My friends have been blowing up my inbox with examples of errors in the wild. My favorite is this one from Cheryl and Steph:

They’ll eat anything in Hartsville, S.C., apparently.

Heidi, Elizabeth and Rachel sent this one:

It is a cornucopia of apostrophe and quotation mark misuse.

Finally, Charlotte (an always-reliable source of fodder for this blog) sent this image. “This on our ‘heterosexual’ luggage tags,” she wrote.

The company is more progressive than most of the country. I should celebrate all progress, I guess.

Thank you all, and keep ’em coming!


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An open letter to my fat

Dear Body Fat:

We’ve been inseparable for years, ever since we started hanging out while I was pregnant with my first child. I must admit that I did not like you at first, but you grew on me. Soon we started doing everything together: clothes shopping, sitting on the couch watching TV, and eating. It seems our relationship really revolves around meals, doesn’t it? Meals, and the Beer of the Month Club membership, of course.

I know you may not want to hear this, but it is time for me to move on. I think you began to suspect as much when I started writing down the substance of the meals we shared. I know you had hope for our relationship during Trish’s birthday weekend. I’m sorry if the beer, butterbeer, margaritas and mixed drinks gave you the wrong impression. It was my way of celebrating the choice to say goodbye to you.

You may have thought Zumba was a passing phase. And why wouldn’t you? You know me so well, and know that I loathe group exercise situations. But that should really prove to you that I am done with you for good. If Zumba didn’t raise a red flag, then I know the MVE Pilates class did. I felt you quaking during that class, and I’m sure it was from fear.

I’m sorry, but our relationship really is over. I’m ready to meet up again with dress sizes I haven’t seen in years. I’m ready to feel happy about photo opportunities. I’m ready to breathe evenly after climbing a flight of stairs.

I wish you all the best, and I’m sure you will find someone new who will love you more that I ever did.


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Parenting 101

Perhaps I’m too strict. Or perhaps I had kids late enough in life that I remember that people without kids don’t usually like to be bothered by kids. And sometimes even people with kids don’t like to be bothered by kids.

Eddie and I do not let our children run amok in restaurants. We refuse to be that family with the ring of detritus around the dinner table. I don’t need extra napkins because my children WILL NOT make a mess.

Yes, maybe I’m too strict. Or maybe I’m considerate.

I certainly would not allow Dominic and Gideon to amuse themselves by turning deck lights at Tubby’s Tank House off and on, off and on, etc. The mother of young Artemis and Arcadian (yes, those were their unfortunate names) had no such qualms.

My friend Pam and I were trying to have a nice quiet evening. Thank you, idiot mother, for ruining that plan. It will not scar your children for life for you to tell them to “cut that out right now.” You can correct them. That’s your job. Artemis and Arcadian will have plenty of friends in their lives (well, maybe). They only have one mother. Show them how to act!

And if you are unable to make them behave in public, stay home.

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I finally had a Friday off and I spent most of it going to two more group exercise classes: Pilates and Line Dancing. (In case you are counting, that makes five group sessions this week. Five!)

To me, Pilates is what we used to call “calisthenics” back in the ’80s. We weren’t all fancy then. All we had was Jane Fonda and her legwarmers.

Now there are balls, mats, elastic bands, weights, etc. At this class, there was also a sweaty, inflexible man next to me who grunted as he exhaled. Jane never grunted. I don’t think she ever sweated either.

By the time my abs were screaming a sound only dogs could hear, it was time for the next class. Even though it’s supposedly geared toward seniors, I was excited about line dancing. I still mourn the death of Stetsons on Mall Boulevard, which is where, many years ago, I two-stepped my little heart out a couple of times a week.

The class consisted of the instructor, me and two other ladies. I had what I never want in a group exercise session: individual attention. And I was the youngest by at least 20 years.

Subtract two, add me, and that's the class.

At least I didn’t complain. Eleanor complained. Loudly. About a variety of things. Some elderly ladies seem sweet and kind, like Betty White. Eleanor was like Betty White’s older, bitter, spinster sister.

I shouldn’t judge, though. At least she was there and trying to stay active. Rock on, cranky cottonhead!

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Working my way through the YMCA group class schedule makes me feel like a certain girl who has a fondness for bears (and breaking and entering).

Stacie’s Zumba class was too fast.
Bobbi’s Zumba class was too slow (and filled with snotty women).
Ellen’s MVE Pilates class may be just right.

I’ll still go to the Zumba classes — snotty be damned — but I may go more often to MVE Pilates. MVE stands for “maximum versatility exercise” and there is a torture device involved: a special chair for all kinds of acrobatic work.

I did this maneuver, but with much less grace.

Oh HELL no.

After 15 minutes of Cirque du Soleil, I was questioning my sanity. After 30 minutes of trying various “poses,” including the especially heinous one that is pictured second from the right in the collage below, I had sweat dripping off my nose. My nose! And my nose was running too!

But the instructor and other victims were very nice and helpful, and I feel like I got a great workout. And I didn’t die. So I’ll be back.

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Convicted serial killer accused of fifth slaying

From Staff Reports

BLOOMINGDALE, Ga. — Convicted serial killer Maggie The Dog is the only suspect in the murder of Shelly The Chicken. Shelly’s father, Eddie Concepción, found the bird’s body Sunday night in the back yard of the family home. Maggie’s younger sister, Mona The Dog is listed as an accomplice.

“I knew the dogs were a little too anxious to go outside,” he said. “Mona was not returning to the house, so I got the flashlight and started shining it around. I saw the two legs and knew.”

Warning: Graphic image

Concepción reported that Shelly must have left the side yard while the family was at a birthday party at Monkey Joe’s. When the family came home, it was dark. According to Concepción, they did not know of Shelly’s escape when they let Maggie and Mona outside.

Shelly’s mother, Beth Concepción, was clearly distressed. “We had a breakthrough yesterday,” she said. “She finally came up to me and wanted to be petted. We were making such progress on her socialization!”

According to the family, neither Shelly nor her sister Jeanne had ever left the side yard. However, sources close to the investigation reveal that Beth had said both chickens were about due for a wing clipping.

Beth reports that Jeanne, who shared a coop with Shelly, is holding up well under the circumstances.

“She just seems really sad and lonely,” she said. “I’m afraid this tragedy also will push back egg production.” Neither chicken had produced an egg yet.

Maggie had been convicted of the March 2010 murder of Trish La Gallina and the April 2009 murders of Trish’s three sisters. She had done time inside the house and outside on a leash before being released on parole.

On behalf of his delinquent dogs, Eddie is asking for understanding and forgiveness.

“I don’t think we should have chickens. Either train them to be guard chickens or get rid of the dogs. Chickens and dogs cannot coexist,” he said. “Apparently, there is some kind of code we don’t know about that Maggie is forced to enforce.”

Eddie’s son Dominic took additional steps to ensure peace in the Concepción household.

“Dominic had a talk with Maggie and he said that she’s not going to [kill] again,” Eddie said.

The family held a private service in conjunction with trash pickup.

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