Monday, January 30, 2006

Saint What?

My old high school, Mt. St. Mary's Academy in Little Rock, Ark., changed its name a few years ago to Mount St. Mary Academy. Well, lah dee freakin' da. I'm here to say I don't like it.

What's wrong with St. Mary's? That's what everyone calls it anyway. Knowing that I'm saying it wrong makes me feel restive and rebellious. It puts me back in Sister Corona's library when I was compelled to roll an orange on the floor.


I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when the decision was made.

NUN 1: So, Sisters, it's decided. We're now Mount Saint Mary Academy. No more "apostrophe 's.'" I don't want to hear any sibilant sounds following our name.

NUN 2: Yes but Sister, that sybilant 's'...."


NUN 2: Yes of course, Sister, but what I meant was that that "apostrophe 's'" has been, well, a tradition.

NUN 1: We have to show the world, Sister, that we are up with the times.

NUN 2: Yes Sister.

NUN 1: The world does not live by tradition alone.

NUN 3: That's not what you said when we were talking about the..............

NUN 1: NEVER MIND WHAT I SAID THEN. Think about what we're doing. We're moving ahead in the millennium.

NUN 3: Yes, Sister. There could be controversy, you know.

NUN 1: Oh come on, Sister Eterna, I don't think we're going to get death threats over it, do you?

NUN 2: Actually, Sister, Becky Willis, one of our really old alumni, has written in stating her intention never to follow the directive.

NUN 1: I remember her. And Sisters, I'll just say this. Consider the source.

La plume de ma soeur

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Favorite Funniness

I love FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS when the guy takes the huge Cadillac into gas stations and tries to have more air put in the tires than they're supposed to have. The White Whale, was that it? It's funny every time he does it.

Also the scene in Dan Jenkins' BAJA OKLAHOMA when the man draws a line down the middle of the map and tells his ex, "you get this side of the country and I get this side."

I loved the skit on SNL many years ago when they introduce all these bewigged and bejeweled aristocrats into the ballroom and the last one is "Lord and Lady Douchebag." Then they continue to address the lord with such things as, "Tell me, Douchebag, isn't your father serving in the House of Lords also? There seem to be a lot of Douchebags in Parliament these days." Usually a joke only gets one laugh, but that got a huge laugh every single time.

I also used to like the Goat Man or whoever he was who drank from the baby bottle.

My mother always liked Church Lady and would stay up late to see it. It's pretty funny becaue she WAS the Church Lady for many years.

I love Eddy Izzard. I love his imitation of the squirrel as it eats and nervously looks about. "Did I leave the gas on?"

I love James Thurber's "If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomatox." I also love Thurber's story of his French gardener who taught him how to drive.

Favorite favorite movie scene--when Joan Cusack, left at the altar and still in her wedding dress, stands up in the bar room or maybe she walks outside and screams, "IS EVERYBODY GAY?"

More later.

le chien andalou

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Extreme Makeover

These financial makeovers get my goat. I get all excited to read them and then there's that one line that ruins it. Can you pick it out?

Ron and Betsy can retire in five years. But first Ron needs to get a job that pays double what he makes now. Then they need to invest in mutual funds, blah blah blah. YEAH, OKAY.

Margaret can get out of debt and keep the bank foreclosure at bay in just a few steps. First, she needs a new stream of revenue. Then she needs to sell her house and invest in annuities... WHAT KIND OF NEW STREAM? HOOKING?

Andy and Brittany want to buy a house. That dream will happen for them if they STOP HAVING BABIES and SAVE A LITTLE MONEY INSTEAD OF BLOWING IT ON WEED.

I might have gone overboard on that.

And another thing. How can these people lay bare their souls and their private finances the way they do? Ann and Carl have a severe credit card problem. [Hey Ann and Carl? Your NEIGHBORS are reading this] Ann never met an APR rate she didn't like. They are massively in debt and it's doubtful they can ever get out unless they divorce, which seems likely given Carl's late nights and Ann's continued friendship with the convenience store guy. [the teachers at the SCHOOL are reading this] Carl's mother lives with them and charges two hundred dollars a week at Macy's in addition to her dental problems, which Carl and Ann pay for.[and your MOTHER is reading it and figuring she might as well hit Saks]


Anyway, class went pretty well today, although students are still trying to add in. Two today want to, and they have missed four classes. Four!!!! That's five hours of instruction. They won't have a clue what is expected on the research paper. Oh well, lallalalala. I just don't understand why they are adding so late. Oh well, my boss at Hannaford's wouldn't let me off to come register.

We know what to tell THAT bozo, don't we, boys and girls?

La plune de ma tante

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Modest Success


I'm too ashamed and horrified to put my real weight on here, but let's do it this way. I started last Monday at 6.5 (I won't say the decade). That astounded me in such a ghastly way that I decided to start the weigh-ins the next day, Tuesday, when I was down to 5.





WOOOOOOOOOO!!! Okay, so now I am going to stay away from the scale. I already know that when you are on a real diet, getting weighed is a bad idea. There's nothing more you can really do for yourself and constant scale-gazing only leads to depression.

I mailed an ARC to an Important Person today, so I have my fingers crossed for that. I had my students in the library for the research presentation and it was, it was, not bad. I always do this at the beginning of the semester when I still don't know them all. One guy is chatting with one girl and that is going to have to stop. Love can bloom somewhere else, not in my class. I AM THE LOVE GRINCH.

Someone suggested that I try to interview Hannaford's for the information I need on VICTORY (my wip). That's a funny one. THEY OWE ME. Haven't I shown remarkable restraint lately in not mentioning H? Still no t-y's either.

C'est la guerre

Monday, January 23, 2006

Snow Day

Ah, what a great surprise!!!! Although I hope I can get out so to mail the arc (advanced reading copy) to where it needs to go. It doesn't look good for getting out right now.

No weight change, which really has me bummed out. I was certain there would be a loss today. I suppose I'm going to have to get on an artificial plan of some kind. I might browse through the South Beach Diet book, which I borrowed from Christine and have never returned. I'm 3 and half pounds more than I was last March 1. I'm either slowly gaining or or on a diet. No inbetween and it PISSES ME OFF.

This will give me some good writing time today, though I may have to rip everything out when I find out what the real scoop is on shoplifting and stealing scratch tickets at grocery stores. That's right, kids, stick around for tips on crime.

The worst part of snowstorms around here is the possibility of power failure. Power failures are not cute. They're not romantic and they're not fun. Here in lovely central Massachusetts, you can't flush when there's no power. I always say it has an immediate laxative effect on everyone in the house.

A bientot

Saturday, January 21, 2006

All Faces Seen

That's right, I've seen all the faces that will be mine this semester.

Each student makes his/her own fashion statement, of course, and is unique and individual, etc. However, one thing is still true.

They all look the same.

The young men wear baseball caps. Some of the hats are perched a bit to the side, with the bill pointing in another direction. This I think is supposed to look like a rap star that they all know about. It gives them a jaunty, if foolish, air. I'm starting to see some longer hair on the guys, tendrils curling around the ears. Of course this could be more of a financial consideration than anything else. The girls wear very clingy, tight clothing and show plenty of midriff flesh, even in winter. Both genders have tattoos and piercings. A young man last semester had what looked like two black buttons in his nostrils. Big ones. I have enough trouble keeping my sinuses clear, could I even imagine having buttons up my nose as well? I stared at first but then got used to it. He was a nice kid.

I saw a picture recently of some movie star or celebrity in her wedding dress--with her tattoos on open view. YUCK. I don't suppose I could add comments such as, WHAT WILL YOU LOOK LIKE IN YOUR WEDDING DRESS as I go down the attendance roll? After all, the deed is already done.

No weight change. Sigh. I'm trying to make life changes, not be on a diet. I'm trying never to eat fried food, never to eat ice cream, never to have carbs at dinner. And no food at night. Won't this work?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Progress on the Diet:
Today is the first day. Or it might have been yesterday, but I really think it was today. I haven't blown it yet.

Progress on the Semester:
Since adjunct faculty aren't allowed to park in the faculty lot, I had to park in the next universe today and then walk back to campus. Good thing it wasn't 30 below. I left my car in front of somebody's house and hoped for the best. Plus I wore my black boots and my feet were "keeling" me by the time I returned three hours later.

The young man who'd had me before for English 101 didn't show up today. Maybe he thought better of it. "I'm outta here, man. She's a cast-iron bitch," is what he could have thought. Or who knows. I was friendly to him, too. The classes are huge right now and I hope other people start dropping out soon. No chit-chatters yet, but I suppose it's only a matter of time. My personal theory is that I get more slackers in the springtime than in the fall. STudents who take 102 in the fall are usually older, transfers, or they've placed out of 101. The group I have now more or less all came from 101 last semester. I don't have a good sense of what they are like yet, but I'm learning the names. A few made good comments. I asked them to come in with a research question in mind and several of them didn't bother to do it. Everyone seemed to have the homework essay. I wish it could stay being the first week all the time. All that hope is so enjoyable.

I have A Thiing that I'm practicing and I'm going to record The Thing on Saturday. I have a lot of work to do first. I hope I don't get stage fright.

La plume de ma tante

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

First Day

The first day of a semester is always exciting, always optimistic, and nearly always great fun. Today was typical of that. The new students seem combed, washed, and generally ready to rumble. A number of smilers in the class, which I always love. I think I am a smiler myself when I am in an audience, or at least I try to be.

I'm expecting my ARC's very soon--advance reading copies. This is serious. I don't want to waste them, but of course I don't know how many there are.


My poor mother is out of it. She packs every day to go see HER mother who has been dead for 50 years. My heart breaks when I talk to her. Sometimes I just tell her that I'm glad to hear her voice. And you know what? I am.

I think I'm dieting. I'm eating a banana. Here's hoping.

J'ai envie.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Blight of the Earth

You know that mid-winter night when it's 15 degrees and the door itself is frozen and a tree limb that is too close for comfort keeps hitting the house and it sounds like something creepy and haunted and you look out the kitchen window into the driveway and everything looks like The Blight of the Earth? That's tonight.

Not that I didn't have a good weekend. My girlfriends and I over-caloried our way through the Cape and had a grand time. We also watched the Patriots lose the big game and that was too bad, except it was fun seeing Bill Belichick say
"motherfu-----er" on television.

On our way home tonight, we stopped to see MATCH POINT and it was gooood. Very Crime and Punishment. I have dreams like that sometimes and those are the ones I am happy to wake up from.

A bientot

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tree Schmee

Who cares about lingering Xmas decs when school is coming up so fast?

I put in final grades for two students who had to take Incompletes. The "fainter," who did not show up for the final, has not contacted me and her phone number is disconnected. Her grade will now turn to "F." I wish she would get in touch.

It's been a full year since I had a real asshole in class. I figure I am due, big time, but am hopeful to keep the streak going. Especially since my boss is going to be sitting in and evaluating me on Feb. 16. I am trying not to let my blood pressure rise just thinking about it. The thing about assholes in class is that you can't always identify them at the beginning. They hang back. Their habits don't bother you at first, but then by three weeks in, you want to leave town.

I remember the guy who ran some tutorial program at Fitchburg State. We sat together one afternoon as the brand new freshmen were walking in. This guy looked at them through hooded eyes and said, loudly enough for me to hear: "Which one of you will make my life a living hell?" I'm trying to be more positive than that.

I'm thinking about posting my actual weight on here and then keeping a diet log.


A bientot

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tree still not down

When I first moved to New England, lo these many years ago, I was stunned to see all the Christmas wreaths still on front doors in March. March? Some of them stayed up into the summertime.

Now I'm doing it.

I try to do a few minutes a day on the tree. This is the way I do things. Slowly and methodically. Any normal person would get sick of it and just say, oh for christ's sake I'm getting it done right now. And then they would do it.

But I'm special.

I'm also moving forward a little bit every day on VICTORY. Right now I'm still bogged down with one of the characters, the professor woman. I feel as though I might be tearing along at good speed if I only had the main two protags to work with, but I cling to the professor because she makes the story more complex. Like cilantro in the guacamole, which I always forget.

Still haven't made my decision on what to have at Betsy's Diner this weekend. Their corned beef hash is spectacular, so that might have to be added on.

When will I start the Big Diet?

Stayed tuned.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Taking Down the Tree

Putting up the tree is so much more fun than taking it down. I've been using the same tissue paper for decades and actually, it gets softer and nicer with age, I find.

1) Tissue paper
2) Scotch (I guess, though I loathe it)

1) Everything else except tissue paper and scotch

I went to Hannaford's today for two reasons. One, when it snows, I don't like the bowling alley parking lot at Stop and Shit, and two, I'm basing my new book sort of kind of on Hannaford's. I desperately need to interview a person who works at a grocery. I have a million questions. What are the security systems there? How do they protect against inventory loss? Gosh, it sounds like I'm writing a grocery crime drama. I am, in a way. I have two characters that I like and the third one I may dump. She doesn't seem real to me yet, which is funny because she's an English instructor at a college and has more in common with me than either of the other two.

One more free week, although it's already filling up. Plus I'm going to the Cape next weekend, yaay!!!! Already planning to eat at Betsy's Diner and trying to decide what I should have. Chocolate chip pancakes may get the nod.

Also this week I have to line up two bookstores for signings in May. Maybe I'll tell them I wrote THE HISTORIAN.

A bientot

Friday, January 06, 2006

Oh what a Web Site Will Do

I'm feeling somewhat jazzed up about my ever-progressing web site, which took some giant leaps yesterday. It should be ready very soon.

Also I wrote a friendly but pushy letter to the president of ValPak, asking if I could get into their newsletter, speak at their meeting, sell books there, and all kinds of intrusive questions. I hope he remembers me.

Tatnuck Bookstore closed down this week, so that squashes my inaugural book event. Now I have to think of another place. Worcester was my first choice because that's where I WAS the coupon girl and if there were any of my former customers hanging around, maybe they would show up. Although I hope none of them are insulted, haha.

Walking around with a precariously balanced front crown has its benefits. I can't eat too many things.

I'm very suspicious of all hats in my house.

A bientot

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A True Story--don't read any further

Unless you can take it. Thanks to my friend Liz for suggesting I put this here.

This really happened to me yesterday.

Whenever it snows and I go out to the street to get the mail, I wear
this fleece hat that perches year-round on the coat pegs in the
hallway. It's the only time I ever wear it, mostly because the hat was
a gift from my son to my daughter and it isn't really mine. I guess my
daughter doesn't want it because she has never taken it with her. I
like it because it's warm and it keeps my hair dry. I pull it way down
almost to my nose.

Stay with me.

So while it snowed yesterday I put the thing on and went out to get the garbage toter androll it back down the driveway. It was
slippery pushing that sucker. I came inside, took off the hat, threw
it down onto a kitchen chair, and continued my morning (mostly consumed
by a Dental Drama).

A while later, I put the hat on again and
walked out to get the mail. Surprisingly, not much of it after the
long holiday. I walked in, took off the hat, threw it down, and a dead
mouse fell out of it onto the kitchen floor.

I took a lot of deep breaths. The big question is whether it was in the hat
for both trips or just the last one.

Oh my Christ.

I hope I'm not scarred. I should keep washing my hair for a week.

J'ai envie

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

One Thing Different

One thing different about being older is the weight of thoughts. When I was a kid, I used to wake up and my first thought would be "something good might happen today."

That has changed.

I's not that I think something BAD might happen, but I no longer immediately hope for the best. Well, duh. It's called experience and maturity in some quarters, I suppose. Still, I miss that feeling.

Annoying Problems to Face Today:

Dental Drama (don't ask)

removal of Christmas decorations (right now it totally looks like the height of the season here at my house)

Try TRY to make progress on VICTORY. I remember on CG I had 16,000 words and my friend Liz said, why don't you do it all in one voice. So I know very well that what I'm writing right now today might end up shitcanned. I'm so fraught with doubts, that's the main problem. I'm waiting for the day when I feel that sure sense, that "this-is-it-ness" (borrowed from Alice Walker) and then I'll know I'm on track.

Ain't feelin' it yet.

Plus I always worry about snow on my roof.

My friend Martha O'Connor is digging out from horrible flooding in northern California and my heart goes out to her. That's what you call REAL problems. Hang in there, girl.

La plume de ma tante,

Sunday, January 01, 2006

First Dress Theory

Many years ago, my girlfriend and I got on the bus and went to downtown Little Rock and shopped for prom dresses. Within five minutes, I found a good candidate, turqoise chiffon, satin belt, the right length (short by today's standards). Well, of course I wasn't going to buy the very first dress I looked at. You can't do that. So we continued on our rounds. We did this all afternoon. We went everywhere. Truthfully, I can't remember what my friend bought or didn't buy, but I know one thing.

I never found anything better than the first dress. Luckily, it was still there late in the day and I bought it.

This became the pattern of my life in some ways. The first thing was always the best. Dresses, houses, boyfriends (there are some exceptions), etc. Then later, I was always killer at auditions and kind of "lost it" by the time of the actual performance. The first thing I tried always worked best. The first play I wrote, the first technique I tried in class. So now, of course, my deepest worry is that CG, my first pubbed book, will be the best I can ever do.

Oh stop whining, you say. I will.

Can you tell I'm having trouble getting a focus on my present work in progress? I just can't figure out where it is going. I have plenty of atmosphere and am drawing a more and more intricate background for it, but where is it GOING? What is the STORY? These are problems, my friends.

And so good night.

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