Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Head Scratchers and Funnies

Not sure what to post as I fill time waiting on a nudge on a full. For non-writers, a nudge on a full means that an agent requested the full manuscript of my finished story, but hasn’t yet got back to me with a rejection or The Call. I waited ten weeks, and then sent a nudge email. It’s tricky, because you have to keep the nudge confident, but not cocky. You don’t want to sound whiny or needy. It’s kind of a fine line between being a pest and having the right to some closure on the whole thing.

Anyway, here are some funnies things that happened at work. I wish I had pictures to go with them. Please use your imagination.

A small girl eagerly waved me over to her line one morning before school started. She had something to show me. I expected the usual such as a much too close-up view of her gum where she lost a tooth, or the old favorite ‘it’s my birthday’, the ever amazing ‘I got a haircut’, or maybe the thrilling ‘these are my new shoes’. Instead, she pulled forth from her backpack a pink balloon. She proceeded to blow it up using only her— gasp—NOSE. Needless to say, I was enchanted with her undeniable skill and, truthfully, proud she wanted to show me. Ever tried it? She has a lot of lung power.

During a social studies lesson in the not too distant past, we were studying the fact that people live in different types of structures. The teacher began to quiz the class about what kind of homes they lived in, apartments and houses being the expected response. One little girl lived with her grandma, and she was having trouble with the question. She didn’t quite understand. “Does your grandma live in a house or an apartment,” the teacher asked. Completely straight-faced the tot replied, “My mom says grandma lives at the casino.” There you have it folks, social studies can be hilarious.

I once shared a school year with a pair of fascinating twin boys. Like a lot of twins, they were pretty small, making them even cuter. One was in my classroom and the other twin had a teacher across the hall. One day we noticed “Brian” limping. You get a lot of wardrobe problems in kindergarten. Shirts turned wrong-side out or backwards, jeans that won’t button, even (believe it or not) jeans on backwards (ouch). Of course, we see a lot of shoes on the wrong feet. This looked like a case of shoes that needed to be switched. I looked closer, trying to judge. Brian’s feet continued to puzzle. Both of his shoes curved in the same direction. How could that be? I’d never seen the like. He had on two left shoes. Brother in the other room had on two rights. Is that a case of two wrongs don’t make a right?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Say thanks today to the active service members that allow the rest of us to live uninterrupted lives. Their bravery, sacrifice, and commitment shelters this country and makes it possible to forget we’re a country at war. Thanks also to the former military men and woman, among them my husband and dad, who formed the line between us and chaos. They may have moved on to other professions, but they played their part in keeping this country great and would be the first to step forward again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Today I went back to work after a bad cold. The kind of cold that makes you miserable. A cold that stops up your head and leaves you with a constant cough at the same time. A cold you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, with the exception of whoever left home and gave it to you in the first place. They can have it back and to spare.

But after some medicine that started with the letter A, and then included close to the entire alphabet in the rest of the name, I’m better. Apparently if your med is not in line for a glossy T.V. commercial than the longer the name the more effective it must be. Five days it predicted until the end of suffering and five days it was.

A whole crew of first graders demanded to know where I was for two days. As soon as they learned I was sick, the interest vanished. Sickness has no glamour. I should have said I went to China, or, better yet, a Justin Bieber concert. That would have won their little hearts and made me a star. Next time.

In all my spare time at home, I didn’t write a thing. Instead I, strangely, spent my time sleeping when I wasn’t moaning. Sorry family. But it did give me time to remember some priorities. There’s the usually family, health, and work, but I was thinking about writing priorities. Just why was I writing?

Was it solely with the goal of being published? To earn gobs of money or to make myself famous? To impress my friends and relations? To entertain? For myself because it’s my passion?

I don’t think there is any one answer that fits the bill. It includes parts of all of them. It would be nice to be published, and miraculously earn gobs of money (not counting on that). I’d love for thousands to read my work. That’s the ambitious side of me. But that’s not the whole story.

I also enjoy hearing from beta readers that like my twiddle of stories. I like when people think a short is funny. If your coffee shoots out of your nose then I’ve done a good job. I also feel happiest when I’m writing. Creating. What could be better? There’s no reason I can’t accomplish all those goals, with luck and no more colds. But I’d better keep my head on straight on not make meeting them the end all of life. I’m keeping in mind what’s important. Making myself happy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pep Talk

My first passion is writing. My second is my day job. I work in a first grade classroom, helping a special needs child. My life is filled with funny comments, the gross, and the weird that only a five year old going on six can produce. It’s exhausting. It can be tedious. But it is oh so rewarding. There’s nothing like being out for a day and returning to have a child hug you around the hips (that’s as high as they can reach) and declare how much they missed you.

The other day was pumpkin day- a crazy mix of science, writing, and math standards with a whole lot of hectic. Separated into small groups, the teacher gave each group a pumpkin, paper to catch the mess, and a big spoon for those averse to using their hands. The object of this insanity being to remove all the seeds and count them. (Consider how long it takes a first grader to count to over one hundred or put seeds into piles of ten, and you’ll get an idea of why I’m tired every night.)

Did you know a kid’s first instinct for cleaning their hands of yuck is to shake them? Did you know that pumpkin goop flies when kids shake their hands? Pumpkin goop, of course, is inevitably attracted to the nearest available adult. That’s a scientific fact.

As I was hurrying from group to group, I noticed a boy holding his spoon in front of his face, staring intently at himself. His exact words, to himself please note, were: “Who’s the handsomest person?” The answer being obviously him. My first reaction was to choke off a giggle while looking to the other adult in the room to see if she caught it. She did. My second was to wonder that he used the word ‘person’. Odd choice for a five year old.

Later that night, I got to thinking about it again. He was just doing what we should all be doing, remembering to give himself positive words. As writers we all doubt ourselves. The agent rejections roll in by the dozens with approval small and far between. When we beta read for others, we’re usually focusing on the negative. What could be fixed or scraped.

In the hustle and bustle of life, don’t forget to give yourself a little pep talk of kind words. It’s the best advice I could give to anyone, writer or not. So who’s the most wonderful, talented writer? You are. And don’t forget it.