Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Plan (Entry 6)

This post has been removed for the novel's debut in April, 2012 . . .


    Elisa isn't your regular nerd.  She's not the kind of person who quotes Monty Python, or has a periodic table tattooed on her butt.  No she's a different sort altogether.  She carries a duct-taped Bible everywhere, wears bright-orange polyester pants, and dyes her hair with red kool-aid.
    Even though she tries slipping by apart from the crowds, it doesn't help that her best friend happens to be "The Boarder," one of the cutest and most popular boys in school.  He's not willing to let her go unnoticed—not until she goes to the homecoming dance with another guy.
   "The Boarder" starts acting weird after the date goes well, and Elisa begins wondering if he's only been looking at her as a friend or maybe something more.  She must choose between her best friend and "The Bad Boy," but will she make the right choice?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Some Inappropriate Memorial Day Humor

I know that Memorial Day can be a hard day for most people.  It reminds us of what we've lost and what we've gained.  It's an interesting weekend for me because I think of Zeke.  I also smile though because we have another boy (The Zombie Elf) who was born on Cade's birthday.   Their birthday falls right by Memorial Day if not on it.  So, even though The Elf will never replace Zeke, I'm so glad he's here.

Anyway, this story is a very embarrassing story about Cade's birthday years before The Zombie Elf ever came into our family.  This memory makes me giggle though and I figured you might need a laugh.

Warning:  If you are one of my gorgeous nieces or fun-loving nephews (Eon that means you!) do not read any further.  I repeat DO NOT read this.  This is inappropriate for your ever-so-darling eyes.

Love~ Aunt EC (the mature one)

Here goes . . .  This happened in 2005 on Cade's birthday.  Enjoy!


Cade and I weren't doing well.  I won't sit here and lie by saying we never fight.  It was a hard time.  Marriage (in general) is hard, but especially when you've lost a child.  So, for Cade's birthday I thought I'd get a sitter and take him out on a fancy date.

Grandma Gertie and Grandpa Roar drove all the way to California just to see Cade on his birthday.  They said they'd watch the kids while we went out, but the problem was, I couldn't get Cade off the computer.  He was quite involved in gaming and bullet bikes at the time and said he'd just play one more game--just one more.  Each time he played one more game though, another half-hour crept by until it was well into the afternoon.

I grew tired of waiting and while we sat in the front room, I decided to watch Zeke's tape from the camcorder.  I pulled a blanket over myself and we all snuggled into the couch and got ready to watch the saddest video our family owned.

It seemed like a great idea, a nice way to pass the time since Grandpa Roar said he'd help me transfer it onto a tape while we watched it.  

The video was terribly sad.  I saw myself holding Zeke's hand.  I prayed on the camera.  "God, please help Zeke live."  I looked through the screen.  "Isn't he darling?" I spouted.  "The doctor thinks he might be coming home soon."

I wished I could punch myself in the nose, throw my shoe at the screen.  I wanted to yell at myself, tell myself to shut up because Zeke had died, he'd never come home EVER!  Those doctors had been wrong!

The video switched from his life, to his death.  I saw Zeke's small body wrapped in a blanket.  He wore a Scottish suit and a little hat.  He didn't need the vent anymore because he no longer breathed.  I remembered holding his small body, willing him to take my health and leave me dead, but nothing could bring him back--nothing.  His hand had just gotten colder and it hadn't taken long for his body to stiffen around mine.

So, as we watched all of that, I started crying.  I sprinted from the room and screamed at Cade.  "Get off the damn computer!  I've been waiting for you all day.  If you don't want to go out for your birthday, then just say so.  It's your damn birthday!  Do what you want."

"Fine!" he yelled.  "If you're gonna act like that.  We won't go anywhere!"

"Fine with me!"  I slammed the door and stomped back into the terribly sad front room.  Gertie blew her nose.  Grandpa Roar cleared his throat and I knew his heart was breaking inside.  I wanted to punch something--someone named Cade.  Why had Zeke died?  Why!? And why couldn't Cade just spend two minutes with his family?

It got to the second-half of the funeral service.  Cade and I played a song for Zeke.  It was beautiful, powerful.  I remembered closing my eyes and wishing it would somehow bring me to Heaven's gates.  Tears slipped down my cheeks as I thought of Zeke's still body.  At the end of the song, even though I knew it had nearly killed Cade to play at that service, he looked at the camera, then me and Zeke's lifeless body.  He gave a speech talking about how much he loved Zeke, Ruby and I.

I swallowed hard.  Maybe it hadn't been the best thing to watch.  Cade had loved me back then!  I thought about turning it off and throwing the damn thing out the window, but that's when the video drastically changed.  I stared in shock.  It wasn't of the funeral anymore.

I blinked once, twice.  Something strange was moving in front of the camera.  It was like going from the saddest thing ever to the weirdest.

"What the . . ." Gertie said.

I put my hand to my mouth.  I gasped.  "That person's . . . naked?  Who is that?  What is . . .  Is that Zeke?"

"That's not a baby nut sack," Grandpa Roar said seriously.

All of our eyes glued to the screen.  It was terrible--terribly fascinating.  We scooted closer.  Who would feel the need to tape themselves naked?  The movement was so hypnotizing, I almost forgot where I was.  Who would do such a thing, on Zeke's funeral tape?  I couldn't fathom it!

I thought, still watching the butt on the screen.  Then it hit me.  Maybe I'd seen the butt before!  "Cade!" I screamed.  "CADE!  You need to see this!"

"I'm busy!" he spat.  "I told you, I don't want to--"

"But we're watching Zeke's funeral tape and there's something really weird going on here."

"Oh Shit!" Cade shot through the room.  He nearly ripped the door from its frame as he ran toward the TV.

"I'm telling you," Roar said to Gertie, "that's not a baby nut sack."

"But what is it and why is it swinging back and forth like that?"

Cade's eyes darted from me to the TV.  His face blanched.  He stood in front of the screen and fumbled with the remote.  I still saw everything though.  That big nut sack just swayed back and forth.  I'm not kidding, it was hypnotic!  I nodded.  Roar was right, it wasn't a baby nut sack.

Cade screamed.  "How do you turn this damn thing off?" 

Gertie stood, still watching the screen and hit the power button.  "Cade.  Is there something you have to say for yourself?"

He swallowed and looked back between Roar, me and Gertie.  "What was . . . why was . . ."

"It was Zeke's video!"  Cade finished and dragged me into the next room.  He shut the door and locked it.

"Why were you showing them that video?"

"Because it's Memorial Day weekend and you're too busy playing games!  The kids are sleeping.  I thought it might be a good time to transfer Zeke's tape too . . . hey, why are you getting off the subject?  What in the Hell was that?"

Cade slumped onto the bed and put his face into his hand.  He patted the bed next to him.  "You remember Valentine's Day?"

"Yeah," I said.

"Do you remember what I asked you?"

As I thought for a minute, I heard Gertie and Roar talking in the other room.  They were going on an on, discussing the various sizes of nut sacks.

"It was Zeke's," Gertie said.

"Since when does a baby move like that!" Roar said.  "You know what we saw.  You know!"

I tried holding in a laugh, but it was so hard, my eyeballs almost burst from the pressure.  I blinked the merriment from my eyes and looked at Cade.  "They are hilarious.  Anyway, I don't remember.  What did you ask me on Valentine's Day?"

"I asked if you'd want to watch a sex tape, of us.  You said 'no way' and so I hid the thing, because I'd already taped it, but . . ."

"SO, YOU'RE TELLING ME."  I shut my mouth for a second and without turning my face, I gave that man THE HAIRY EYEBALL. "THAT VIDEO WAS--"

"Of us," he finished weakly.

I heard the couple still debating in the next room.  "It wasn't that big."

"Open your eyes!  It was huge.  It wasn't a baby's!"

I suddenly laughed so terribly hard.  I couldn't hold the laughter.  I thought of the swaying sack, the fact that Grandma Gertie and Roar were still talking about it in the next room.  I thought of how long we'd watched the thing and that I'd been in it too!  I gasped, "You mean to tell me that you taped us having sex and that I just showed it to the world.  On your birthday?"

He nodded.

"The camera was aimed a bit high wasn't it?"

He nodded again.  We both turned beet-red.  We stared at the wall in front of us.  "It was a nice shot of your butt though."

Cade scoffed.

"But why would you put it on that tape?  We were watching Zeke's funeral and suddenly WHAM!  There it was, that crazy thing.  I think I'm gonna be scarred forever.  I knew I hated sex tapes!"

"The tape said 'Master' on it.  I didn't figure it had his funeral on it.  Plus, I didn't think you'd just show The Master Tape to the world."

"At least it got you off the computer."  I suddenly burst into another fit of laughter.

"Well, should we tell them what's going on."

I shook my head.  "No.  Are you kidding?  They just saw us naked."

I thought of how much I love Gertie and Roar.  I didn't want to tell them what they'd seen.  "You can't make me go in there?" I said.

"Even though most of the video was of my ass?" Cade slumped into my shoulder and I grinned.  Maybe sex tapes weren't so bad after all--that stupid thing had already brought us closer!

We walked into the other room after that.  We held hands as Cade confessed to what they'd seen.

"I knew it," Roar said.

"Cade!" Gertie paled.  "Well, I never.  How could you?  How could you tape something like that?  You don't tape that type of thing!"

So, we went on a date after that because both of us felt naked standing there talking to Gertie and Roar.  It was a horrid feeling, probably how we'll feel on judgement day.  Plus, I couldn't stop thinking how Gertie knew I wasn't a virgin--even though I'd already had three kids.

Anyway, I don't remember exactly what we did on the date, or where we went.  All I remember is that we had an amazing time and Cade quit playing video games quite so much.

"Why aren't you playing games all the time?" I asked him after that.

"Because it's a waste of time and bad things happen when I'm on the computer."

I may never get the vision of that swaying ball-sack from my mind, but I'll never forget how hilarious that day was.  After all, how many people can say a sex tape helped their marriage!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Date (Entry 5)

This post has been removed for the novel's debut in April, 2012 . . .


    Elisa isn't your regular nerd.  She's not the kind of person who quotes Monty Python, or has a periodic table tattooed on her butt.  No she's a different sort altogether.  She carries a duct-taped Bible everywhere, wears bright-orange polyester pants, and dyes her hair with red kool-aid.
    Even though she tries slipping by apart from the crowds, it doesn't help that her best friend happens to be "The Boarder," one of the cutest and most popular boys in school.  He's not willing to let her go unnoticed—not until she goes to the homecoming dance with another guy.
   "The Boarder" starts acting weird after the date goes well, and Elisa begins wondering if he's only been looking at her as a friend or maybe something more.  She must choose between her best friend and "The Bad Boy," but will she make the right choice?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Friend and The Nearby Church

I have a friend who is amazing.  She's poised and collected.  She always says the right thing AND does the right thing.  She's sweet and kind.  She'd make the perfect Disney princess and I've always wished I could be a bit more like her.

I'm not collected though.  I try to act poised and instead fumble while cracking jokes.  I laugh really loud and then talk about crazy things.  My friend would never talk about woman balls, or fart, not like I do.  When she was school president and homecoming queen, she won because everyone knew they could count on her to be amazing.  Was I homecoming queen?  No . . .  I didn't even try; I was too busy hiking and dying my hair with kool aid.

So, needless to say, my friend isn't like me.  I've tried to have more things in common with her.  This doesn't all stem from the fact that I really look up to her, it's that I wish we were better friends.  I want to hang out with her, be friends like in those black and white movies.  That would be neat.  We could sit in our civil war gowns and talk over tea.  We'd reminisce about some book we read and some quilt we'd just finished.  I'd laugh about her beau and she'd giggle about mine.  That's how things would have been if I was born years ago and my friend and I had more in common.  But I was born in the 80's and some things just aren't meant to be.

Anyway, I decided to go visit her yesterday.  I straightened my hair, put on some nice clothes and told myself I wouldn't say anything crass.  I'd be sweet and reserved.  I'd be the kid-sister I bet she always wanted, but when I got to her house, my plan failed miserably because she wasn't home.

I called her.  "Where are you?" I asked kindly.

"At the copy store.  I'm so sorry.  I didn't know you were coming."

"That's because it was a surprise," I said.  Twas a shame.  I told myself I'd come back later.  I had to, or I'd done my hair for nothing!  I hung up the phone and that's when The Zombie Elf told me he had to pee.

"Not now, sweetie," I crooned.

"Yes, mama! Yes, now.  I pee at Auntie's house."

"She's not home."

"I pee car?"

"NO!"  I stepped on the gas and squealed from the driveway.

"I pee.  I pee."

"No," I sang, "you don't."

"I pee road?  I pee car."

"Not on the road.  Not in the car.  I do not like pee near or far."

"Not in the house.  Not with a mouse?"

"Not in a house, or with a mouse, I do not like . . ."

So, that's not exactly how the conversation went, but it was pretty damn close.

 I swerved around a corner.  We waited at a T in the road.  "I pee road."


"Oh, I pee car!"  Glee filled his boyish eyes.  He smiled at me like he knew he'd won.

I nearly cried as I looked to the left.  I swore that my perfect friend was driving closer!  If I didn't act fast, she'd see me.  The Zombie Elf would be covered in pee and I'd say some stupid joke.  She wouldn't want to talk to me for a year . . .  I stepped on the gas and turned right.  Sure it wasn't a smart decision, but it saved me from heartache!

I sped down the road.

"I pee!"

"You won't."

"I pee road."

I looked everywhere.  There was no place for him to go.  His face turned red in the backseat.  He pulsed with frustration.  "Ahhh!" I screamed.  "There's nowhere . . . to . . . stop."

A light shone from the heaven's, I swear it did because suddenly, I saw a church on my left.  Sure we couldn't stop near someone's house, but my boy could have privacy in the empty parking lot.  I turned in.  The Zombie Elf looked like he was about to explode.  I parked, threw the door open.  We looked from side to side.  The only person around was some lawn maintenance guy on the other side of the church.

"Pee," I told The Elf.

"I can't."  He pointed to the church as if he knew I was making him commit a crime.





"I'll give you some gum."

He smiled and that's when the golden stream flew.  Too bad it happened right as the lawn maintenance guy decided to come convert us.  I put The Zombie Elf back in his seat and we barely avoided a bad thing.

The man came up to me.  "Are you a member?"

"Me?  No.  We've never seen . . . this place in our lives."

"Ummm . . .  You may not have seen this place, but God, He's been watching you."

What in the heck was that line?  Was the lawn guy moonlighting as a priest?  Was I supposed to confess to him?  I shirked back.  I'd committed a sin.  The guy walked closer, almost stepping on the watered grass.

"You know what I'm telling you?  God, He's been watching you."

"That's great."  He was getting closer to the pee spot.

"I like . . . God.  I can tell you do to?" I asked.

"You're acting awfully strange.  I think there's a reason God brought you here.  Is there something you'd like to share?"

"Well."  I stared at the guy.  "Do you have any background with this sort of thing.  Are you a pastor or a bishop or something?"

"God can use anyone.  His tools are many and His lessons are . . . many."  He smiled.  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive."

I thought about the wet grass he'd just stepped in.  I'd made my son pee on church property.  I gazed into that man's eyes.  I sent him a mental message, you're stepping in pee.  He tilted his head, obviously not getting the message. Maybe he wasn't as close to God as he professed!

"I've bought a ticket to Hell."

"And Jesus has ransomed that ticket."

"He ransomed something He knew I would buy?"

"He knows everything."

"So you're one of those Calvinistic people?"


"You believe in predestination, that God made some of us even knowing we would fail."

He nodded.  "Well, yes.  I guess."

"That's messed up."

"Wait . . . what?  Well, He knows everything."

"Even if we're going to fail?"


"So, you think He sets some of us up to fail."

"Yes . . . ummm . . . no."

"He created us, knowing if we'd eventually go to Hell, but He made us anyway?"


"So you think He set us up to fail?"

"I guess . . . no.  Wait, I'm confused.  Where is this going?  I just wanted you to become a member!"

The poor man's shoulder's slumped.  He trudged back to his mower .  I'd snuffed his happiness and he'd stepped in pee.  Before I left, I drove past and yelled, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I just hope you'll find peace."  He looked at me like I was a wacko.

"I will.  Don't underestimate free will," I said.

He nodded, that man who mowed the lawn diagonally and probably refused to make perpendicular lines.  I could tell he was formulating something profound, so I waited.  He talked then.  "Sometimes we're destined to chose, but we still control our own destinies.  Free will is more powerful than destiny?"  Was he actually asking me a question--as if I knew?  Hadn't he claimed to have all the knowledge before?

I smiled.  "That's what I believe.  We all have the gift of choice.  If it wasn't really choosing . . . then well . . . there wouldn't be a point." I smiled and waved goodbye.

So, sometimes things work in strange ways.  We can choose to make things different.  We can choose to pee on lawns.  We can choose to be cowardly Calvinists who never had a choice to begin with.  Either way, I decided I won't sit back.  Sometimes kids have to pee at the right time.  I think I was meant to talk to that man.  He made me realize that we choose who we are and how our relationships will be.  He made me realize that even though I'm not just like my friend--who's actually my sister and I was just too much of a pansy to admit it until now--we can still be buds.  It's all in our choices.  Some things are worth the choice.  Some things are worth the fight.

Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Predict the Future!

I did some research this morning.  Apparently there are loads of people with tips about how to see into the future.  I loved reading their insights.  Why?  Because I think it's hysterical.

Now before you go off judging me, give me a chance.  You might think it's funny too!

Maybe some people actually believe they have seer-like powers, but the fact remains, they're not Xavier from X-men!  This post is going to help you learn how idiots "see" into the future.  If you believe, maybe you can be the next Harold Camping.  I thought I'd post this since Harold Camping is an . . . idiot!


There are several different people who can see into the future.  I've labeled them below.

The Hypocrite:
This person wrote (on the internet!) that once you've decided to master the gift of foresight, you CAN NOT tell anyone else how to do it.  This is the first step in mastery!

I have a slight issue with this.  If you aren't supposed to tell anyone how to do it, then why give away the first step?  Is he so much of a prophet, he's the only one on Earth who can break his own rule?  Plus, he looks like a nut.  I bet that's what Harold looked like before he became richer than sin!

The Optimist
This person thinks you can predict the future, by changing it!  All you have to do is believe.

Every time I have a hard time with life, I just look up Harrison Ford on youtube.  He has these amazing life-changing scenes in his movies!

If you have trouble with faith, just remember it's like a mustard seed and then watch this clip.

The God
I must admit--this is my favorite find of the day.  One guy said that seeing the future is very simple.  There's only one step; all you have to do is be your own God.

WOW!  That doesn't sound complicated at all *sarcasm*.  And that's how he said it too.  That's all you have to do.  Is he serious?  That's harder than hiking up Mt. Everest--without any legs!

Number one, God is GOD for a reason.  If everyone else can be "gods," wouldn't that diminish who God is.  It reminds me of that line in The Incredibles.
 "When everyone's super, no one will be!"

There's a reason He's God.  There's a reason the Bible only speaks of one God--it's because Syndrome was right.

The Con
This person says you cannot tell others what's going to happen until AFTER it happens.

What in the world is that!  Isn't that a bit obvious?  I want to do that.  It just sounds fun!

The Harold Worshiper

This person believes that if you predict poorly, God is trying to teach you a lesson.  Dig deeper inside yourself and find why things didn't come to pass.  Maybe your insight does have a root metaphorically.  If you thought someone was going to die, maybe they are about to experience change.  If you thought someone would have a baby, maybe new blessings are coming their way.

So . . .
This post isn't flaunting that amazing things don't happen (because spiritual things happen all the time).  It's just showing that enlightened idiots do surround us and apparently they all know how to predict the future.

On a side note, I had to write this today because The Hippie had a revelation last night.

"Mama," The Hippie said.  "We don't have school tomorrow."

"Yes, yes you do."

"No I don't."

I pulled out the school calender and showed her the truth.  "May twenty-seventh."  I tapped the page.  "You have school."

"No I don't," she whispered, like The Hypocrite probably would.  "I won't have school.  I just have this feeling."

"A feeling?"


Can I just tell you that I was so tired of hearing about predictions and the end of the world.  Even typing this makes my skin crawl with anger.  I hate how the media has to pick zealots and make them look like the norm.  I don't care what religion they belong to, it's just mean.

"What kind of feeling, honey." 

"Well, I could see it happening.  For some reason, I don't know why, we're not going to have school."

"But you did your homework anyway?"

"Yeah." She nodded.


"Well, some guy thought the end of the world would come and my library teacher said he still got money even though the world was dying the next day."

I crossed my arms tightly over my chest and tried to keep my laughter in.

"So, I figured I'd do my homework anyway."

"Why?"  I asked.

"Just in case my principle changes the future."

It's amazing what kids hear and what they understand.  I'm glad I talked to the Hippie (who actually still has school today) because she made me realize that there's a third type of person who can see the future.  There's:

The Sure Bet
This person has a following.  They teach children bad ideas.  They predict the future, give religious organizations bad reps, and may be judged for it when they die.  I'm not saying I'm any better, I'm just saying it might be quite the hearing--even better than O. J.'s.

So, what do you think of all this?  Are you tired of it like I am?  After reading my great tips, do you think you can see into the future now?

Oh and if you have time, google "How to predict the future."  There are some golden nuggets in there.  It's hilarious!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Library (Entry 4)

This post has been removed for the novel's debut in April, 2012 . . .


    Elisa isn't your regular nerd.  She's not the kind of person who quotes Monty Python, or has a periodic table tattooed on her butt.  No she's a different sort altogether.  She carries a duct-taped Bible everywhere, wears bright-orange polyester pants, and dyes her hair with red kool-aid.
    Even though she tries slipping by apart from the crowds, it doesn't help that her best friend happens to be "The Boarder," one of the cutest and most popular boys in school.  He's not willing to let her go unnoticed—not until she goes to the homecoming dance with another guy.
   "The Boarder" starts acting weird after the date goes well, and Elisa begins wondering if he's only been looking at her as a friend or maybe something more.  She must choose between her best friend and "The Bad Boy," but will she make the right choice?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Run-in With Sarah (Entry 3)

This post has been removed for the novel's debut in April, 2012 . . .


    Elisa isn't your regular nerd.  She's not the kind of person who quotes Monty Python, or has a periodic table tattooed on her butt.  No she's a different sort altogether.  She carries a duct-taped Bible everywhere, wears bright-orange polyester pants, and dyes her hair with red kool-aid.
    Even though she tries slipping by apart from the crowds, it doesn't help that her best friend happens to be "The Boarder," one of the cutest and most popular boys in school.  He's not willing to let her go unnoticed—not until she goes to the homecoming dance with another guy.
   "The Boarder" starts acting weird after the date goes well, and Elisa begins wondering if he's only been looking at her as a friend or maybe something more.  She must choose between her best friend and "The Bad Boy," but will she make the right choice?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Suave Spouse

My husband is hilarious.  He's only directly asked me to clean the house once in ten years.  He's never asked for a certain food for dinner.  He's never pressured me to do laundry.  He's never done any of that; I guess that's why the other day shocked me so much.

We talked about Ticket Tom.  He laughed, remembering the details Ger-tay had told him about the yard sale.  We sat smiling, holding each other, when suddenly my husband got a great idea.  He looked like Loki, planning a master heist.  His forehead turned calculating and his eyes darted about the room.
(Check out Siv if you like Norse Mythology; she's AMAZING! LOKI THE TRICKSTER)

 So, anyway, my husband who's such a carefree man, decided to play hardball.


On a side note, this picture is so my luck.  My husband and I posed, then for some crazy reason we actually started playing our instruments.  I got really into it.  A wind stirred, probably from the power of the music and the shade blocker . . . well, it just blew over on us.  I'd barely opened my eyes here.

The photographer (who's so amazing she'll even lie in dirt just to get the right shot) took the picture as the shade blocker fell on us.  It was hilarious!  I thought I'd just gone out for some pictures, I didn't know I'd get to have an adventure too!  Anyway, this picture shows us both stopping mid-song so we can catch the thing. 

If you'd like to hear our music, go here: Our Music: The Fifth Side

Back to the point . . . Cade looked around like Loki planning a heist.  One eyebrow raised, practically defying the other one.  "You know," he said.  "I'm not pointing any fingers here, or saying something about anyone, but if I was home and I had four kids that look very similar to ours.  If I was here ALL day, and had some free time.  I think I might consider going through the closets and getting rid of some junk."


"Yeah, just if I was . . . someone."

"Who looked like me?"


"Well . . . if I was you.  And I had some free time, I might just throw stuff away so I could help my charming wife."

"Really?" he asked, obviously unaware of how busy a mom's day can be.

He left to work and yesterday I decided I'd play nice and do what he said.  I put Thomas the Tank Engine on for The Zombie Elf.  I brought Doctor Jones with me and we opened the front closet.  Everything went great--for the first two seconds.  I found one pair of shoes to get rid of.  I smiled and sang.  Nesting had never felt so good.  I didn't have to suffer from pregnancy and I could still nest quite nicely!  I'd only found two pairs of shoes to give away, when Doctor Jones started choking.

She sat right next to me.  She wore a pair of boots (size 9) while she coughed.  I screamed, freaking out.  I swabbed her mouth, tipped her upside down and hit her on the back.  I held my own breath, hoping she would be okay.  I hit her over and over.  That's when she upchucked everywhere.  I guess she'd eaten a piece of cat food.

I cringed.  How is it that babies can still find crap EVEN WHEN YOU JUST VACUUMED?  What was a piece of cat food doing there anyway?  Doctor Jones can sniff anything out!  She's practically a super agent!

Well, things were bad, but they could have been worse.  Her agent-like aim hadn't hit the shoes, but had still nailed our new rug.  "I'm so glad you're okay, baby girl."  I really was.  I hugged her tightly.  It had been scary and traumatic.  So, when Cade got home, I had a talk with him.

"You know how if you were that girl who had four kids just like ours, and how you'd go through the closets and stuff?"

"Yeah."  He nodded.

"Well, I got rid of some things today."

"Really?" he smiled super big.  "Like what?"

"Two pairs of your shoes."

"My . . . shoes?"

I almost laughed.

He paused, hoping I'd made the right choice.

"I wanted to do more, but Doctor Jones.  Well, Doctor Jones ate some cat food . . . and . . . threw up.  But the great news is that I got rid of one more thing."

"What was that?" he asked, looking horrified about the cat food.

"I got rid of the rug."


"Because it's not washable and there are some traumas that not even a rug can bounce back from."

He suddenly laughed.  "The new rug?"

"Yeah, do you hate me?"

"No."  He smiled.  "But I am wondering, which pairs of my shoes you got rid of."

After all that, we decided we'll go through the closets together.  That should be easier and then I won't chuck stuff that Cade wants to keep.

The main point of the story is: I tried.  I wanted to get rid of some stuff, but it wasn't in my cards.  I guess I'll try again later, maybe when Doctor Jones is sleeping.  Do you ever have moments like this?  Has your spouse ever become you (hypothetically)?  Has your kid ever eaten cat food, miraculously survived and then destroyed a new rug?  I'd love to read your stories.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ticket Tom and The Yard Sale Fiasco

Ticket Tom has been my arch enemy.  It started a long time ago . . . 

For years, I'd heard about the guy, how he gave my friend a ticket because she took her dog into a No Dog Zone.  I heard how he gave tickets to people who left their trailers parked next to the curb for over three days.  Ticket Tom fined my neighbor for having a fire pit.  He fined my friend for having grass that stood too long!

I saw the guy driving in his little Code Enforcement car, but I never met him.  I never got to see him up close . . . not until my yard sale.


I thought it would be great to have a yard sale.  I planned in innocence because I didn't know what lurked in the future.  I knew I'd get rid of a bunch of things.  Plus Grandma Gertie would help me and then I could spend time with that woman I love to be around.  Sure, I'd have to put up a ton of neon signs, but as soon as that was over, things would be great.

Gertie helped me watch the kids while I taped signs to poles and stuck others in city grass.  I'd made twenty signs--a bit excessive, I know--but I was that excited to sell stuff!  I only ended up placing ten signs.  I was really proud, so I leaned back in my minivan's awesome seats and drove like I was a Viking sailor.  I went to do a drive-by past the signs I'd taped first.  I turned my oldies music loud and grinned toward the rising sun.  But when I drove past the first signs, they weren't there!  I went to the next signs.  They were gone too.  I gulped my steaming coffee, looked like a bull with red fuming out its ears.  I drove to the next sign and the next, until I saw Ticket Tom, driving away from the scene of the crime where he'd just pulled another sign.  That stupid Code Enforcement car looked cute as he drove away, and I wanted to sock that ex-cop in the nose!

I called my neighbor.  "What the heck?  Does he have the right to do that?"

"I guess so.  City regulations states that you can't put signs on any city property.  You can stick the signs in people's yards though."


I felt lucky I'd only used half the signs.  I called Gertie and told her I'd be a bit longer because Ticket Tom was the devil in human guise.  I drove to people's houses and asked permission to put signs in their yards.  I met some great people, even had lemonade at one house and a cookie at another.  So, after I met a bunch of people, including a cashier from the grocery store, I went to the last corner.  The house reeked of pomposity.  They had this immaculate yard and decorations that made me jealous in an "I love flamingos" sort of way.  I knocked on the door once, twice, but no one answered.  That's when I decided to put my sign there anyway.  I smiled like the Grinch, that one time, before Christmas.  I sneaked, picking my legs up high and looking from side to side.  I drove that sign into their yard, and then as if the thing didn't have my address on it, I jumped into my car and drove away.  I felt cool then, like a one legged kangaroo who's still got it and can win any butt kicking contest!

I couldn't believe I'd just stuck my sign into some schmuck's yard.  I giggled, remembering how I'd heard about kids doing that, except the kids had been way cooler--what they did was epic.  They'd take realtor's "for sale" signs and put them into other people's yards.  I guess it was pretty funny when the occupants would call the realtor.  "Why is your sign in my yard?  That's no way to get our business!  When we sell our home, we'll never go with you.  Never I tell you!"

So, anyway, I wasn't that neat, but still pretty damn cool.  After I'd stuck the sign, proving my woman balls had obviously dropped, I went straight home to my driveway of bargains.  Grandma Gertie bartered and sold, she laughed and joked.  She'd done a great job and I had to giggle as I watched a man who kept annoying her.  "Ten cents?" he asked, holding up a game system.

"No.  That's five dollars," Gertie said.

"Ten cents."  He pointed to a T. V.

"Ten dollars."

"Ten cents."  He pointed to a doll.

"No, one quarter."

He handed her a dime, snatched up the doll and walked toward another section of the sale. 

"I said, one quarter!" Gertie stomped after him because no one gets away with stuff when Ger-tay is around.

As I laughed and watched the yard sale scene, I almost forgot about the sign and my crime. I told Gertie about Ticket Tom and my signs.  I told her about the one I'd stuck in some random person's yard.

"Good Lord, girl.  The sign has your address on it."

"I'll pull the thing as soon as the sale's over."  I winked.  "Hopefully the person won't care anyway.  I wouldn't care."  I paused, but I wouldn't put flamingos in my yard either.

While we talked, The Ten Cent Man stayed around, perusing through everything.  I watched him and nearly fainted as he neared a pile that looked just like THE CONTENTS OF MY PURSE!  The Scribe or The Hippie had dumped my purse, on top of a blanket in the driveway.  I'd offered them a portion of the sales, just as long as they got rid of their old toys.  I couldn't believe they'd emptied my purse!  At least they had the decency to leave some things out of the sale, like my wallet!  They'd dumped my make-up, some papers, a sewing kit.

I paused as I watched the man go through the stuff.  He grabbed a handful of items-- including my driver's license!  I'd get those girls.  They'd kept my wallet, but left out my license!  I watched him stick my license inside the pile he held.  He sauntered toward Grandma Gertie.  Instead of offering ten cents, he looked guilty shifting from one foot to the next and said, "one dollar?"

"No.  No way!"  I ran up and plucked my license from the pile.  "One dollar for a license?  Are you nuts?  That's worth way more! You can have the rest of that . . . stuff."  I fumbled through the pile.   "You can have the make-up and sewing kit, for a dollar, but not my license."

"Ten cents?" he asked sadly as I took the license away.

"One dollar."

"No, ten cents."

"I said . . .," my voice turned low, "one dollar."

I was about to get into a full-on brawl, when the code enforcement car drove up and smoked to a stop.  I nearly dropped my license on the ground.

You should have seen the awesomeness of Ticket Tom as he stepped from the car.  I'd always heard about him, how he used to be the best cop until they forced him into a retirement "code enforcement" job.

I stood several yards away, but almost smelled the power emanating from him.  Everyone stopped and stared.  I know he commanded our full attention because he stepped around the back of the car and exhaust fluttered around him, like dry ice at a rock concert.  Plus, he'd ticketed almost everyone there.  The Ten Cent Man saw Ticket Tom.  He dropped the contents in his hand, and as he got in his car and drove away, I wished I could follow.

Ticket Tom held up a sign with a wooden post taped to it.  "Who had the gall . . . the shear audacity . . . to put this IN MY YARD?!"

"Oh my gosh!  You're the flamingo . . . yard . . . dude," I sputtered.  My woman balls, cringed back into a non-dropped position.  My voice felt small.  I didn't seem cool anymore.  I was a mouse, facing a beast of a man!  A criminal who'd almost sold their license to a ten cent immigrant!

"Who did this?" he barked.

"It was," I raised my hand, actually raised my hand like a kindergartener, "sir.  Tom, sir.  It was me."

"You . . . put a sign, without permission . . . into a code enforcer's yard.  And, you know my name?"

I didn't know what to do.  I was about to shrink back, but then I stood strong.  The license in my hand must have given me power--since licenses are like that.  "I'm sorry, sir, but you took all my other signs down."

"There'll be a hefty fine for this, a hefty fine."

I felt my insides turn to saddened mush; my yard sale profit would probably just cover the fine.

"You wanna bet," Gertie said at my side.  "You can try to bully the rest of these people, but you can't bully me!  This girl is trying to make some money.  She just wanted to have a nice little yard sale.  She has a bunch of kids.  She works from home and takes care of a family.  It's people like her, who live in this community that make it so you can even have a job and you want to fine her for advertising a yard sale?  Haven't you ever been young?  Haven't you ever needed to make a dime?  Have a heart, Tom.  Show some compassion."  Her words hung in the air like a powerful storm.  I stared in awe; Gertie had transformed into Ger-tay!

He slowly put the sign at his side.  He looked at all the people around.  He glanced at me and then Ger-tay.  "You know what," he said.  "It is Saturday.  Today is my day off, but if I ever, if you ever put a sign in my yard again . . ."

"I won't," I said.

He drove off after that and my girls bounded outside.  "What was that about?" The Hippie asked.

"Oh, nothing, but I do have something I need to ask you.  Which one of you decided to sell the stuff inside of my purse?"

They looked at each other and pointed.

"Why, why did you do it?"

"Because," The Scribe said, "we thought it might be worth a lot."

"You think?  And you tried to sell this?" I held up my license.

"Well, yeah," The Hippie said.

"We didn't think anyone would buy it.  Plus, who carries a picture of themselves, around in their own wallet?"

I put my face into my hand.  "Someone offered a dollar for it."

"And you didn't sell it?" The Hippie asked, stunned.

"Heck no."

"Wow," The Scribe said, "they must have thought you were awfully pretty.  We didn't think that would ever sell."

I laughed again.  "This is what says I can drive a car."

The Scribe gasped.  "How much are you selling it for?"

So, that was the first time I met Ticket Tom.  I had to write about him today, because I just found out that he retired.  I met his replacement last weekend, my grass was too long.  Anyway, I'll have to save that story for another time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Meeting in a Trunk (Entry 2)

This post has been removed for the novel's debut in April, 2012 . . .


    Elisa isn't your regular nerd.  She's not the kind of person who quotes Monty Python, or has a periodic table tattooed on her butt.  No she's a different sort altogether.  She carries a duct-taped Bible everywhere, wears bright-orange polyester pants, and dyes her hair with red kool-aid.
    Even though she tries slipping by apart from the crowds, it doesn't help that her best friend happens to be "The Boarder," one of the cutest and most popular boys in school.  He's not willing to let her go unnoticed—not until she goes to the homecoming dance with another guy.
   "The Boarder" starts acting weird after the date goes well, and Elisa begins wondering if he's only been looking at her as a friend or maybe something more.  She must choose between her best friend and "The Bad Boy," but will she make the right choice?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rumor (Entry 1)

    I have to admit that I'm really apprehensive writing this. It's a hard part of my life to share, but maybe that means it's something I should do.
    So, with complete nervousness, here's the beginning of my memoir about how I fell in love. I know the start is a bit rocky, but it will get better, I promise.
    Here we go . . .

    Looking back, when I got married at seventeen, I didn't know I would end up as a homeless street musician. I didn't know I'd run away with a practical stranger. I didn't know what turn of events would bring me there or help me find myself, because before all that, I was completely lost. I guess it all spawned from one day when everything turned sour. That particular day started with gossip and ended in an exorcism. One single day, is the main reason I ran far from everything, why I ran to Hawaii.
    I'm not sure how the rumors started. I couldn't even tell you who set them in motion. All I know is that they exploded in history class. People talked as if I wasn't there. I heard them whispering. "Did you hear about Bible Girl?"
    Eager silence followed before the voices hissed louder. I didn't want to hear their words and instead of facing my problems, I stared at the chalkboard. It blurred in my vision. The history of England changed to a mushy river as I pretended I wasn't in the room. I couldn't believe how callous my classmates could be. I put my hand by my neck and calmed my breathing. Their judgment stayed behind me though, deliberating over what I'd done. I closed my hot eyes and tears split across my cheeks. I blinked, once, twice, but the chalkboard still looked blurry.
    "And to think, she always talked about Jesus."
    I saw myself burning in the fires of Hell. I just knew I'd go there because of my poor choices. I'd been a good Christian and then ruined it all, my reputation, my salvation . . . everything.
    I couldn't swallow. As much as I tried, my throat wouldn't cooperate. I sat, fighting with my own nerves when one of the cutest boys in school bent down next to my desk. I wiped my eyes and glanced away to the right. My hand slid to the side of my face and blocked him from seeing my tears. He asked me a question, one single question that would haunt me for years.
    I couldn't breathe. That damn chalkboard looked like it was right next to my face. The ceiling and the walls pulsed closer. The cynical voices grew too loud and I wanted to scream.
    The cute guy next to me closed one eye and pointed. I focused on his hand and told myself to calm down. "I know why you did it." He stroked his chin.
    I wouldn't let him see me cry. I wouldn't show those kids my weakness, but I knew I was about to explode. I burst past the jerk, slammed my homework on the teacher's desk and left.

    It wasn't that my life was bad. It really wasn't. A bunch of things just spiraled out of control. Maybe it was my three jobs, one of which kept me up until two in the morning. Or maybe my ailing faith and the two best friends I'd lost. Whatever the problem, everything had gone incredibly wrong, all in a matter of weeks.
    I bet you're wondering why a Bible Girl could be so unhappy. What could make someone stuff clothes in their locker and want to run away? I guess it wouldn't make sense to an outsider, not at this point. That's probably because I'm starting in the wrong place. I should go back a couple years earlier, to when things were simple. Back when I had unending faith and the innocence of a saint.
    I guess where this story really starts is when I met a guy in the trunk of a car. It was quite romantic, in a funny sort of way. So, let’s go back to when I was fifteen and thought I was in love.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Pimple Eater--some things you can't bounce back from.

I was in ninth grade the first time I saw it.  Sure I'd seen elementary kids eat their own boogers.  I'd watched a kid chew the ABC gum from under his desk.  I'd even seen a guy make some mystery bubbles in the swimming pool.  All that stuff was gross, but nothing compared to the day I met The Pimple Eater.


He was this kid, well not THIS kid, but he was a kid who sat by me in history.  He had a crush on my friend (who was gorgeous) and I'd always felt bad for the nerd with a crush.  Well, I felt bad--until I saw him eat his own pimple.  First he squeezed it, then in slow motion everyone gasped!  I swear the whole class saw the crime and kids called him The Pimple Eater after that.

I had nightmares about him and couldn't get the imagine from my mind.  He'd eat the thing and his face would turn into a massive zit.  "You are what you eat!" he'd say.  It was a terrible dream, portraying that some things are worse than death!

I'm not sitting here, claiming I was better or that I wasn't a major nerd in ninth grade.  I'm probably still a nerd.  But in ninth grade, I was even worse.  If you don't believe me then I need to post my Science video.  I was so proud to be spouting about charges, why the melting point for ionic compounds is higher than molecular ones, why some sea model could represent electrons existing in metals.  It was awesome--A worthy--at least I thought so at the time. 

So, anyway, years later when I was twenty, after I'd had the Scribe and Zeke had passed away, I met up with one of my old friends from high school.  She was always so much fun.  She'd tell you exactly how she felt.  She didn't hide a thing and I've always loved that about her.

As we walked around the mall, which is NOT my favorite place (I despise shopping unless it's at a secondhand store), we started talking about junior high and high school.  She laughed.  "I think we both look much better than we did back then.  People probably wouldn't even recognize us."

She'd always looked awesome, but for my sake, I hoped her statement was true.  I'd been the nerd I told you about before.  But to top things off, some people had called me Bible Girl.  It wasn't the worst nickname out there, but it wasn't the best.  They called me that because I always carried a Bible with me.  I'd read it so many times, the cover fell off and I duct-taped the thing together.  I wrote scriptures all over the cover, drew pictures about people finding Jesus. My goal all through school was to tell people about God.  I'm not saying it was a bad goal, but that was all I did.  While other people played soccer, sang and had fun, I dropped out of marching band and all my other activities too.  Instead, I became a goal-oriented teen and started a Bible study.

My friend stopped pushing The Scribe for a minute and asked if she could buy her a cookie.  I nodded and as they walked away, I realized we were almost in the very center of the mall.  Now, like I wrote before, I don't like malls, but there's something magical about being in the very center of one.  I stepped to the side, until standing directly under a beautiful glass dome they'd built into the ceiling.  I looked up, using the center of the mall, like it was a megaphone to God.  I saw the blue sky beyond the dome.  I know scattered rays of light spread around me and the tiled floor under the dome.  I thought about my high school life, wishing I'd had a bit more fun instead of completely sacrificing my school years.  I wondered if I'd made the right choice, if I'd even impacted anyone's life for good, wondering if it had been worth it.

That's when someone stood next to me.  I turned expected to see my friend and The (baby) Scribe.  It wasn't them though, it was a gorgeous man!  He looked at the dome.  "I love the mall," he said.  He was well over six-feet tall.  He had a jaw, chiseled into perfection, green eyes and short-black curly hair.  I had to clear my throat.  Was he an angel?  I'd just been praying to God, had He sent an angel to tell me I'd been on track?

"Ummm . . . the mall.  It's not my favorite place, but I guess this part isn't bad."  I pointed to the ceiling.

We stared at it for a while longer.  "So, I don't think I've seen you around here before.  I would have remembered," he said.

Was he seriously talking to me?  I couldn't believe he'd even want to talk with me.  Did people like him even talk--his muscles were huge!  Plus, he was supposed to be one of those guys who can't formulate a sentence.  That proved it, he had to be an angel.  I giggled really hard.  Then thought just in case he wasn't angelic, I needed to do something.  Somehow I put my hand to my face so he could see my wedding ring.  "I've been here once before.  It was with my husband.  He's a great guy.  He likes the sport's store."

"Wow, you got married young.  I always wondered what happened to you after high school.  When I saw you, well I kept thinking maybe we could go out sometime."

I turned to him and squinted.  "You know me?"

"Of course I do.  You were one of the only kids who didn't call me . . .  You know what, I'm glad I saw you."  He grabbed my hand and squeezed it.  "I need to tell you 'thank you.'  You were one of the only kids who was still nice after . . .   You never called me The Pimple--well you know. You never called me that.  You were always nice and you never judged me."

I gasped.  I felt like we were in the fairytale about Beauty and the Beast.  Could it be?  Had that pimple lover turned into a prince?  Then the vision hit me, the same one I couldn't get from my mind years before.  I remembered him picking his zit.  I remembered the slow, very tragic journey it made to his mouth.  I remembered what his face would look like as a big white . . . head.  I thought of his right hand which had initially carried the zit to his mouth, the one that still clutched my hand.  I wanted to scream.

Did he still eat zits?  Was it some crazy disease?  If he kept holding my hand, would the disease creep up my arm and into my brain?  Maybe I'd want to eat all of my post-teen zits too!  I looked at him again.  To think, I'd wondered if God had sent a message from an angel!

"Hey, Andy," my friend said as she walked over from the food court.  She nearly laughed when she saw my face.  She knew exactly what I was thinking.  "Wow you clean up nice," she said to the guy.  "I never would have thought you'd turn out into, well turn into an underwear model." 

The Pimple Picker blushed and I wanted to scream again.  Why was he still holding my hand?  If there's one thing you don't do, you don't go to the center of the mall and hold someone's hand, that's almost as contractual as marriage!

"I've been working out a lot," The Pimple Eater said.  "It's amazing how much people can change after high school.  Is this your kid?" he asked her.

"No."  She laughed.  "She's Elisa's, who's married, but I'm still available."

He finally let go of my hand and I felt like I'd been hand raped!  I turned, cooed to The (baby) Scribe.  I acted like I wiped her face with a baby wipe and then I discretely wiped the pimple eating disease from my hand.

After we left the mall, I turned to my friend.  "You gave him your number?  You recognized him, and you gave him your number?"

"He's hot!"

"But he probably still eats his pimples!  He did it when he was fifteen.  That's not something you quit doing.  Once an eater ALWAYS an eater.  You can't date him!"

"Come on, Elisa.  You were pretty nice to him.  If you weren't married, you'd date him."

"Absolutely not!  Sure, he's cute, but nothing's worth dating a pimple eater!"

"That body sure is!"

"Oh yuck!" I said.

She started giggling.  "You should have seen your face when you realized who he was.  I knew the exact moment it hit you!  That was hilarious!"

"I was just thinking about how I was Bible Girl . . . and how I wasted years and didn't help anyone, and then he just came up and . . . and raped my hand!"

She laughed so hard the The Scribe laughed just for the sake of laughing.  "Hand rape!"  She calmed down after a minute.  "Well, it sounds like you did impact someone's life.  He couldn't stop talking about how nice you were in school."

I blinked.  I rolled down the window and closed my eyes as the words hit me.  I felt bad for being judgmental.  Sure God views all sins the same, but Eating Pimples?  Suddenly I knew who the biggest sinner was.  It was me!  I'd become a judgmental, mean, prudish sinner.  I'd worried about his eating disorder--about standing in that contractual place in the mall--about dumb things, when I should have been viewing him as an awesome person.  

"I totally judged that guy," I said.  "And he'd been there at the right time.  I'd asked God if my high school years were worth it, and then some guy basically walked up and told me they were."   I turned to the window again and asked God to forgive me.  "I feel really bad," I said.  "I hope God will forgive me.  Do you think that guy knew I was judging him?"

"Mr. Hand Rape?  Absolutely not.  You're really hard to read unless people know you.  Don't feel bad about it, I'll make it up to him."

I turned to her and rolled my eyes.  "You're still going to date The Pimple Eater?"

"Heck, yeah.  Like I said, he's hot!"

So, I learned that I need to stop judging people who eat pimples, my friend may be blunt but sure is open-minded, and that maybe my teen years weren't a waste after all.
That being said, what would you have done?
Do you think I'm terrible for judging the guy?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to Win a Writing Contest: Part II

A few months ago, I decided that to win a contest I must first become a judge.  After all, you should keep your enemies close.

I judged a romance writers' contest.  I thought it was a great thing to judge because the contestants were really good and they wrote steamy things.  I'm normally not into "steam," but it was still fun to read for a change.  I'm normally a fantasy gal, but lately all the fantasy stories have started sounding too similar.  For example:  Lonely young man has no purpose.  Lonely young man is told he's the chosen one.  Lonely young man embarks on a quest that involves going to many villages with pubs where he will meet fellow travelers (usually one dwarf and one human warrior).  They travel.  Then lonely young man decides the power is in him.  Blah!~  Get the point?

Anyway, it was nice reading a different genre.  I have to say though, that I read these during the busy sewing season and as dumb as this is, I grew bitter.  Two creatures landed on my shoulders during that time.  They whispered in my ears.  One was my fairy godmother, who wore a darling dress that I've been thinking about making, and the other was the demon of literary hate!  The demon looked like this guy, just a bit smaller.


I kept thinking I shouldn't be wasting my time judging.  Who was I to judge writing, when I'm a seamstress?  Sure I've done A TON of editing over the last few years and I write about two hours each day, but that didn't qualify me to pass judgement on others.

I didn't know what to do, until I talked to my Mary Poppins mother.  "The people in that competition are depending on you.  They're expecting feedback that will help them grow as writers."

That's when I knew I couldn't let the contestants down.  I put on my big girl panties and read 'til the sun went down.  I read about romantic vampires, fairies with boobs, warlocks and goblins, warriors and Hades.  I read about them all, and they were all in love.  It was a great lesson in how to write romance and I loved every minute.  I jotted down my scores on the sheets and even wrote additional comments that I thought would be helpful.  I suddenly knew why Judge Judy liked her job; it's fun judging people, that's why!  I felt empowered and helpful, like I could walk on stilts and live.

I submitted all my comments and score sheets to the administrator.  She told me she got everything she needed and then you know what happened, I didn't hear from her for months.

During those agonizing days, I heard that an agent would be the one to decide on the winner.  That made me shake like my neighbor's three-legged dog.  I didn't like thinking an agent would see my judgmental comments.  I wouldn't have volunteered if I'd known a Indian-food-loving-agent would be reading my scores.

That almost made me cry.  So, when I got an e-mail from the administrator, I didn't open it for a whole day.  The title of it read something like: Thanks Judges!!!

I thought about it all day and night, before finally getting the nerve to open the thing.  The administrator had posted the contest's winner.  She'd also thanked all the judges and forwarded an e-mail from the final judge--the rumored agent!

The forwarded e-mail said something like this.  I'd quote it exactly, but then the agent would have to find me and kill me.  If there are three things I've learned about agents, it's that they love Indian food, they don't like getting stalked and they DO NOT liked getting quoted.  So here's my version:  "Please send my thanks to the judges.  Their comments were very helpful. Also, send a extra thanks to Judge 14, the comments were especially rewarding."

Who was judge 14?  Who the Hell was that?  I went about my day and thought how I'd worked my butt off judging that thing.  Even though I'd been busier than snot in September, I'd done my best!  I couldn't believe someone had out-judged me--Hell, I'd even written on the extra judging sheet.  Then a thought hit me.  How did I know someone had out-judged me?  I wasn't sure.  Maybe I was judge 14.  I ran down the stairs.  I almost fell over the baby gate and a huge bin of fabric.  Could I be Judge 14?  Was it possible?

My stupid computer wasn't on.  I tapped the desk.  It loaded sl-ow-ly.  Then finally it purred with life.  I looked for the judging sheets.  I'd deleted all of them.  I looked again, in different places.  I thought about e-mailing the administrator and just telling her to give out that person's name.  If it wasn't me I wanted to know.  If it was someone else . . . well, I never wanted to meet them.  So, when I was ready to curse that stupid judge 14, I found the file.  I opened it, scanned to the judge number.  My heart froze.  There it was.  My dreams had come true.  I could fly.  I could go to the depths of the ocean and not implode!  I was JUDGE FOURTEEN!

I called my brother and told him the news.  "I'm judge 14."

"You're who?"

"Judge 14."  I said it very seriously as if telling him something amazing, like I was the first woman president or that I'd just eaten cheese on the moon.  I know I sounded classy as I told him the whole story.  "Some person, on a forwarded e-mail, said my comments were rewarding."

"So, who won the contest?"

I paused.  "Come to think of it, I didn't check.  I guess I already knew . . . who the real winner was."

"Ummm . . . you?"

"Yep."  I chuckled.  "The real winner was Judge 14."

My brother almost chuckled, almost, but then he swallowed it instead because he knew it wasn't a time for laughter.  It was a serious moment; he spoke with a judge!  "I'm well . . .  I'm proud of you . . . judge 14," he said as if knighting me.  

"Thanks, Shane.  That means a lot.  I just wish I could send that agent a query and sign it with my new name . . . Judge 14."

He laughed.

"Well, I hope you'll have a great day at work."

"You too, Elisa . . . I mean judge 14."

Anyway, it was one of the best days of my life.  I've decided that one of the keys to winning a writing contest is to make sure you ARE NOT a contestant.  If you want to win, you must be a judge.

Now that I know what my writing pseudonym is (Judge 14--I just had to throw that in here again), I'd love to find out what yours is.

You can generate your name here (I can't wait to read it!):
Superhero Name

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to Win a Writing Contest: Part I

I won . . . or not.  So, not really, not in the traditional sense.  The truth is that I suck at contests.  The only two contests I've ever--almost--won were years ago.  But keep reading, I think I discovered the key to success!

One of the contests was when I told a Hell of a short story.  I was supposed to stick with the original tale, but I got completely off track and ended up telling a different story.  It went from a boring plot about rice pickers, to an epic adventure of love, lust and greed.  The rice paddies were filled with far more than water; they were filled with passion and adventure!   I'm not sure why, but the judges loved it, and even though I broke the rules, I went to the finals and won.


The other contest, was a music contest.  It was for a scholarship to a University in Missouri.  A bunch of talented musicians lined up outside of an auditorium.  Everyone looked frazzled and nervous.  One cellist kept tapping his case like he was playing a song.  Another guy hummed softly.  I knew we were all there to be serious, but I couldn't stand the tension.

"So, how in the heck are ya?" I asked the girl next to me.  She wore her Sunday best while I wore torn jeans and a purple tank top.  "You nervous too?" I asked.

"I'm fine," she whispered.  "But I'm trying to hear what's going on in there.  Could you please be quiet?"  She pointed to the door.  We all knew ten judges waited inside.  We'd have to play for them, and the winner would get a full ride.  I knew the rules.  We were supposed to play one of the classical pieces selected for our instrument.  We'd hand them the sheet music and then play the song.  I thought about all that when a flautist opened the door and walked out.

A lady in blue-framed spectacles came after her.  "Elisa Beth?  Elisa Beth S.  Do we have an Elisa Beth S.?"

That's me.  I clutched my sheet music and violin which hadn't been in its case since I got there.  I looked into all of the judges' faces.  They seemed hard and cynical.  A couple appeared a little nicer than death, but the others didn't look nice at all.  I really thought they should loosen up. 

I walked toward them, got ready to hand them my sheet music.  But as I looked into the first judge's eyes, I couldn't do it.  He looked like that bad guy in the Popeye cartoons, just with some carpet for hair.  Maybe he'd been hit as a child.  Maybe his sweetheart had broken his will to laugh.  I suddenly got an idea.  I knew what I should do to help. I've always been so impulsive and I guess there's this huge part of me that wants to make people lean back and smile.

I thought hard.  In my heart, my true gift is creating songs, not regurgitating something that's a hundred years old.

I set the sheet music on the edge of the long table, before I walked to the center of the stage and turned my back on those stuffy people.  As I put my violin up, the light swarmed around me.  I felt strong and brave, like one of those beautiful women on a romance cover.  I smiled at the empty seats and then I played like I owned the place.  I ignored the judges' shocked responses behind me.  One woman whispered about me being the only one who'd turned my back on them.

Picture taken by: Shear Luck Enterprises

As I played, I forgot about stuffy, carpet-wearing judges and thought about God instead.  I imagined how He could create everything in one breath--assuming He breathes.  I thought about the majesty of our world and the one I hope will come.  I dreamed of an eternity, playing my violin for God.  Wouldn't it be amazing to just play for The Creator?  I can't fathom how awesome that would be.  So, that's what I played, the song I'll play for God someday (and maybe even Zeke).  I just hope I'll be wearing boots, a leather jacket and playing an orange violin because a lot of music is actually in the presentation.

The notes rang high and strong.  I know I killed it because when I turned around, several of the judges stood and clapped.  "Beautiful!" one said.  "You wrote it?  That was amazing!"

I nodded.

"Absolutely stunning!"

"That's beside the point!  You didn't follow the music.  We specifically asked . . . that all contestants follow the classical sheet music," the grumpy carpet man stated.  "You've wasted our time."

"Wouldn't it say far more for your school, that I can read AND write music?" I asked.

"But we don't know that you can read music.  All we know is that you break rules."

"I'd be shocked if we find someone better than her today.  Even if we do, she's shown character and that's what our school really needs.  I'm giving her the best score so far."

"As am I," another judge said.

A few of them agreed, but some of them huddled together and I knew they planned my demise.

I left after that and a few hours later, one of the judges actually delivered my score.  "You would have won," she said, "if you'd played the sheet music like you played your song.  A few of us pulled for you, but Gary . . . well, Gary wouldn't budge."  She handed me the papers.  "He still gave you quite good scores though."

I nodded as I looked at his notes.  He'd written in bright red on top of the paper: Poorly dressed and extremely disrespectful.

Why had I been so impulsive?

"Who won?" I asked.

"A nice kid named Benny.  You were much better though."

I smiled.  Good ol' Benny.  I liked that kid.  So, maybe some of the judges thought I'd won, but I'd still lost the scholarship to a cellist named Benny.  "He was nicely dressed.  Was he respectful too?" I asked.

"Totally lacking in personality."  She smiled.  "You know what, if you ever come check out our school, stop by and see me.  Maybe I can pull some strings.  I'm not making any promises, but I'll see what I can do.  I really like you and so do some of the other judges.  That song was something else, what were you thinking about when you played anyway?"

"I was thinking about Heaven.  About how I might suck as a person, but I'd still like to play for God someday.  Have you ever read that scripture about our good works even being like filthy rags?"

She nodded.

"Yeah, that sucks 'cause if I don't make it into Heaven it would still be cool to play my violin at Heaven's gates.  I'd be like the poor girl, who'd always wanted to be rich."

The lady laughed and smiled.  "Romantic idea.  Why didn't you tell us that story.  That would have gotten to Gary for sure."  She went to leave and then turned around one more time.  "So, if you're still interested in our school, you'll come to see me?"

"You bet cha."  I winked and I never saw that lady again.

Anyway, the first rule to winning a contest is knowing who your judges are.  That's why I decided, if I ever want to win anything, I must think like a judge.  So, a few months ago I judged a contest; I became Judge 14 and learned far more than I expected.  I'll tell you all about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Scribe is My Roomie

Don't ask why The Scribe always insists on doing blog-worthy things.  Don't ask why she constantly calls me from school, pulls dastardly pranks and makes me smile.  Don't ask why she ALWAYS eavesdrops, or why trouble follows her like a lost puppy.  I think it's because she's a character . . . a goofball in the making . . . a kid who knows how to have fun.  Why? you ask.  Why, bring this up now?  Because she's done it again.

She might even be as rad as this kid:

A few days ago my neighbor's sweet little sister came over.

Do you remember Melynda from:
Crazy World

Well, her little sister comes to visit me sometimes and I absolutely love it.

Her sister is sweet and beautiful.  She's going to have a little boy and I swear he'll be cuter than Superman on a Sunday!  Anyway, she has a roommate and I decided to give her some advice which was probably unnecessary.  I blabbed on, wanting to feel involved, important.  "You need to set some rules before the baby is born.  Maybe tell your roomie she'll need to be quiet after a certain time at night.  Oh and label your food.  Like your almond milk.  That stuff's expensive!  There's nothing worse than a roomate who's always eating food that's meant for you or the baby."

"Label the food?  My sister said the same thing, but do people actually do that?"

"Absolutely."  I nodded, suddenly acting knowledgeable about something I knew nothing about.  God forbid, I actually talk about something I know.  But it felt good saying the word "roomie" like I was really cool or something--like I was wearing tight jeans and becoming epic!

So, she left and I was a saint who'd never labeled food in my life.

I went about the rest of my day.  The air tasted crisp and clear.  I suddenly knew how Philosophers feel. Sure they probably have no idea what they talk about, but they still feel like they're helping people.  That's how I felt--incredibly helpful--that was before God taught me another lesson this year!

I woke up at eleven p. m..  I heard someone rustling around in the fridge.  It reminded me of The Break-in.  I thought of Jill's targeter even though no one has been messing with her house lately.  I tip-toed down the stairs, slowly, flinching at every creak and stopping at every wooden moan.

"Mom, is that you?" The Scribe asked.

"What in the heck are you doing?"

"Getting a snack."

She was such a greedy raccoon.  A bunch of items rested on the counter like she'd gutted the entire fridge.  "How many snacks did you plan on having?"

"Ummm . . . just one, but I wanted to see them all together, you know, before I made my final decision."

"Put everything away!"  How could the kid even see?  No lights were on; the only light came from the gutted fridge.

She hurried after that and did what I said.  I folded my arms and watched from across the room.  It took a few minutes, but far less time than I'd expected.  I gave her a piece of bread, patted her buns and told her to GO TO SLEEP!  I sighed at the closed fridge and the kitchen counter.  She'd cleaned it well.  The only thing left was a black magic marker.  I stared at it, wondering why it was there and not in my sewing room.  That made absolutely no sense, but then again, it was late and I wasn't thinking like a scribe.

So, the next morning, we all cluttered into the kitchen and got ready for breakfast.  Now, if you've read about mornings at my house, they're not a pretty thing.  Breakfast . . . is going to kill me!

We opened the fridge and that's when I discovered I should never play Philosopher again.  I should never give advice about being a good "roomie."  I should never even use the word "roomie."

I turned to my oldest daughter, that nine-year-old with hearing better than Potter's owl in book two!  "Why does everything in the fridge have your name on it?"

"Because, I'm your roomie."  She put her hands on her hips and beamed with responsibility gone wrong.  "I heard you talking to Melynda's sister.  You said she should label her stuff so her roomies won't eat it."

"That's because she bought it!  I bought all this stuff."

"So, no one can eat anything with your name on it?" The Hippie asked.

The Scribe nodded.

"Then what are we going to eat?"  The Hippie looked through the fridge.  "I don't see anything with my name on it."

"Here's something,"  The Scribe said and handed her a Capri Sun.  "That has your name on it."

"A drink?  Does any of the food belong to me?"

"Well," The Scribe sorted through the fridge, "I wasn't thinking about you when I went through the fridge.  I mean, I thought about you when I found the Capri Sun.  But I didn't really think about you until I got to the closet."  She opened the pantry.  "I put your name on the peanut butter."

"You put everyone's names on the peanut butter!"

"And you spelled mom . . . mum," I said.

"'Cause it sounded cooler that way."

I wanted to tell her how trying to be cool and using cool words is foolish.  About how I'd used the word "roomie" and it had brought about my downfall.  I refrained though as shock hit me again. I pointed.  "You labeled the pantry . . . too?"

"Yep.  I was down here a long time before you woke up.  So, are you proud of me, or what?"

I really didn't know what to say.  If we lived by her system, the rest of us would starve.  Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe we could live off of peanut butter, but it wouldn't be a fun life.  I told everyone to sit down. 

"I'm going to make eggs, sound good?"

"Yeah, but I think," The Scribe paused.  "I don't want to make this weird, but I think those are mine."

I took another peek into the fridge.  Almost everything had The Scribe's name on it: the eggs, milk, juice, even the pickle jar!  "Is there anything in here that's not yours?" I asked.

"Yeah," she grinned, "the tuna casserole.  You guys can have that."

So, I made a big boo boo.  I SHOULD NOT have given advice to someone.  I SHOULD NOT have used the word "roomie" since that obviously leads to bad things.  I SHOULD NOT have been surprised after I saw the marker on the counter!

The Scribe ended up labeling everything again.  I made her put EVERYONE"S names on EVERYTHING.  Except the tuna casserole.  We ended up just putting her name on that.

Anyway, it all ended well and The Scribe even got to practice her cursive.  What a kid; I never know what to expect!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mary Poppins and the Pretending Pastor

The whole cruise I kept teasing my mom.  I wanted to buy her a manicure or pedicure, a facial or a massage for Mother's Day, but every time she refused.

"Why?" my Viking father asked.

"Because I had all that stuff done before we left, so I could relax here."

I had to admit, she did look perfect in every way, just like Mary Poppins.  Part of me always wondered if she inspired that story.  There's just something magical about my mom AND her ability to raise winners.  Sure I don't think she's ever owned a dress exactly like the one shown below, but she has some traits that are JUST LIKE Poppins!


She has brown hair, blue eyes.  I saw her by a lamb once (it wasn't an illustration, but it was still a lamb!)  Plus, my mom has this huge purse that can hold the world inside of it.  Whenever she opens the thing, I'm always expecting her to pull out a lamp or a hat stand.  It's the most absurd thing you've ever seen in real life!

So, to top off all that perfection--because you know someone's truly perfect when they have a Poppins' purse--my mom is sweet and gorgeous too.  I've written about that before.  She was the beauty queen for her entire county.  Her talent was playing the drums.  Picture this . . . someone as awesome and polite as Mary Poppins, playing the drums better than Animal on the Muppet's or Tool's drummer, Danny Carey.


My mom will sit down at the drum set, smooth back her immaculate hair, pull her skirt up so she can reach the pedals and go to town making beats you've never dreamed of.  My mom's in her sixties, she looks like she's in her early fifties, but when she plays those drums, her spirit shines like she's younger than me.

I love that woman and am super protective of her; I think that's why things went so poorly when we met the Pretending Pastor.

When we got on the airplane to fly home, my mom, the baby and I sat next to a nice Japanese lady.  We'd just barely found our seats, when I watched a handsome man pass by the four of us.  His conniving eyes lingered on my drumming mother for a moment, then he took his seat which was rows behind us.  Now, I'm not sure how he did it, but somehow he traded seats with several people until he'd found a way to trade with the Japanese lady next to us.  Before we knew what hit us, that man in his fifties, slithered into the seat next to my mom!

"I've always loved window seats," he said smoothly.

"And I'm just happy as long as I'm toward the front of the plane," my mom said.

Somehow they continued talking, him eagerly and my mom politely.  "Thank you, Jesus," my mom said when the babies handled the take-off well.

"Did you just say, 'Jesus?'" the man asked.

My mother nodded.

"What are the odds," he said.  "I'm a pastor!"

Really?  I nearly groaned.  If he was a pastor than I was a famous musician!

"When did you meet Jesus?" my mom asked

"You first, when did you . . . meet Jesus?"

"Well, I've loved Him since the 70's.  I guess it started before that, but I gave my life to Him in the 70's."

"Me too."  He smiled so wide I saw his white teeth.  He had a strong jaw and a romance cover face, but I'd had enough of his act.  I cleared my throat.

"Really?" I eyed him sceptically.  "What do you think about the book of Acts?"

We stared at each other.  I thought of my Viking father at the back of the plane.  I wished he would come up and pummel the Pretending Pastor.  My mom smiled, having no idea the guy was a wolf!

"So," I prodded again. "The book of Acts?"

"That's actually . . . the book that brought me to Jesus." 

"And First Samuel?"  I folded my arms.

"I always liked . . . Samuel.  The book brought me to Jesus . . . too."

"Really?" I glared.

"Samuel was . . . a strong tool of the Lord."

Yeah, I'd met "tools" before.  I thought I was looking at one, but my mom still had no clue.  The only person she seemed upset with was me.  She gave me "the look," the one that means I'm not being polite.  I remembered that look from when I was two. 

My mom gave me "the look" again, then turned to the man.  "He was a strong tool.  How wonderful to be dedicated to the Lord at such a young age."

I shook my head and patted Dr. Jones (my one-year-old) who my mom held.  That's when the baby suddenly reached for the con-artist.  What was going on?  Did she like him too?  Had everyone bought his lies?  My mom actually gave that man MY BABY.  "I need to get some gum anyway, do you mind?" she asked.

"You gave him the baby?" I said into my mom's ear.

"He's a pastor," she whispered back. 

I rolled my eyes at the man.  He held the baby as far away from him as he could.  He treated her like a deadly animal and showed me more than his words ever could.  I know it was horrible, but I prayed for the baby to puke on him.  I prayed that my sweet child . . . would poke him in the eye, punch him in the face, let out a Number Three OR SOMETHING.  Instead, Dr. Jones just kept reaching for him even though she was so far away, she just swatted at air until she turned and broke the TV Screen in front of the man's seat.

My mom gasped, and stopped going through her purse.  "Oh, my.  I'm so sorry."

"Sure," he laughed.  "You somehow get a nice man to sit by you, then want him to babysit and now he gets to pay for a damaged TV screen?"

"Do you always refer to yourself in third person?" I mumbled.  "If you would have held her like a regular person . . ."

"What?" he asked.  "Did you say something?"

"Nothing.  I just wanted to show you . . . "  My mom still had her purse out because she couldn't find any gum.  That's when I got a great idea.  I stuck my hand into the Poppins' purse.  My mom's eyes went wide as my arm disappeared inside the purse.  "Wait, I'll find it . . . I'll find it," I said.

"Find what?" I know my mom wanted to deck me. 

"I'll find . . . how much stuff do you have in here?  Oh, there . . . there it is!"  I pulled them out--two passports.  "I'm so glad I saw you put these in there."  So, while the man still held my baby, I opened up the two passports.

"What a nice picture.  It's beautiful."  He pointed to the picture of my mom and I instantly closed that passport and shoved it deep in the bottom of the purse.  "Not that one.  This one.  You see this man?" I opened to the first page.  "This is my father.  He's a tough guy, the kind you don't want to make mad.  Some people even say he's as strong as a Viking.  He," it was time to pull out the big guns, "He has a Harley."

The man turned a bit lighter, but not enough.  "You wanna know the greatest thing about my father though?" The man didn't respond.  "It's that he's sitting on row eighteen.  He's sitting in this very plane.  I bet he'd love to talk to you . . . about religion . . . and things."  The man turned completely white.  He instantly gave the baby back, and after we told the stewardess about the TV screen and she'd somewhat fixed it, the pretending pastor pretended to fall asleep.

"What got into you?" my mom asked after we got off the plane.

"That man was hitting on you.  Didn't you hear him saying how beautiful you are?"

"He was just being polite."

"Ummm . . . no.  It's a good thing I was there to look after you."

She laughed so hard.  "I'm glad you're so protective, but did you see his face?  I still can't believe you pulled out dad's passport."

"Well, sometimes you do what you have to.  That creep's just lucky he didn't meet dad.  If he had, more than first Samuel would have changed his life."

My mom laughed really hard.  "Sometimes it's nice knowing that your kids are watching out for you."

"You bet they are," I said and my mom hugged me.

So, my question for today is:  
What would you do if someone hit on your parents?  Did I do the right thing?