Sunday, July 30, 2006

Swimming Pool Theory of Life

When I was a kid, I would look at a swimming pool full of water but no people, and think how wonderful it would be to be in a certain section. If I could be floating right there, my life would be perfect. Or it would be better than it is. But then when I was actually in that section, life wasn't that perfect. Another section would look more inviting. Oh yes, that heavenly blue part right over there with the lapping waves. So I would make my way there, usually with the side stroke, but sure enough, when I got there, yet another portion of the pool would look better.

You can swim all around the pool and never find happiness.

I knew this was profound even at an early age.

Also once in a public swimming pool, somebody grabbed me in the crotch of my bathing suit and I thought I would be pregnant from it. I think I was twelve. I was horrified and thought oh boy, now I've done it, my stomach will get big and I will disgrace myself and my family will be ashamed. This is the best reason I know of to have sex ed in the schools, so kids don't think dumb things like that.

Here's another one. My girlfriend from a few houses down told me when I was around the same age that if you did get pregnant, you had to go to a home where a doctor "did it" to you a few more times to form the baby correctly. This did not actually make sense to me, but I didn't disbelieve it. Good grief. Can you imagine having THAT job? "Hi, I'm Dr. Mojo and today we'll be forming the pulmonary system of your baby."

My next post will be from Arkansas, depending on whether my dad's computer is working.

A bientot

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Living the Dream Redux

You think when you Live the Dream, that your days will stretch out languorously and you will have nothing to do, when in fact all kinds of crap-ola fills them up. Today I have to get the invitations out for a baby shower I am giving, pay bills, go to the post office, get an ink cartridge, geesh, I can't keep track. When I'm working I do this stuff with my left hand, but now events like this loom like actual chores.

Am writing a new book with a friend. I think it will be women's fiction, about a man and a woman--SHOCK!!! who meet at a birding convention. I'm excited about it. Anyway, I am going to start something on my own, but it's fun to have this project too. We are going to the Audobon Society today to check out some facts. Of course it will be about more than birds--stay tuned.

I have both air conditioners running today, one in my bedroom and one in the computer room. I suppose my electric bill will be higher. I already pay THREE HUNDRED FREAKING DOLLARS A MONTH for electricity, which I find appalling.

Short post today because of shower invitations. I'm a hell of a gal and don't forget it.

A bientot

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Getting some really good input/feedback on VICTORY. I'll be able to make changes that will strengthen the work. My buddy Mark in Australia is so insightful!!!! He just moved there too, from South America. I have to think that is a terrific culture shock.

The worst culture shock I ever had was moving to Little Rock, Ark. from Peoria, Ill. when I was 13. God. I was in eighth grade and rode my bike everywhere in Peoria. That was considered very declasse in LR. Girls were into charm bracelets and moutons. A mouton was what you'd call a fake fur. A short jacket. I had one chance to be popular when Paula, the teen queen of Forest Heights Junior High School, sat with me one afternoon in the bleachers during gymn class.

"What kind of mouton do you have?" Paula asked.

"What's a mouton?" Becky replied.

That pretty much sealed my fate. I was a geek, a dork, not popular. I counterbalanced this problem by pretending to be extremely stupid to my carpool mates, my only chances for friends the way I saw it. I practically acted retarded and boy, did they laugh. They let me hang around too, so as a strategy it worked. Then my mother sent me to Catholic school the next year and I had to start over. I was so miserable for the three months I spent at the public school. I ate a lot of candy as I recall and have always fought my weight since then.

I'm a sex bomb now, though. Haha. Weight loss hanging steady at 23 pounds. My hope is to reach my high school weight by Christmas.

Hope everyone is doing well.

A bientot

Sunday, July 23, 2006

One Week Left

Only one week left in beautiful gorgeous July, the only perfect month in New England. Thankfully, I will only miss one day of it since I don't travel to Arkansas until July 31. Off to the Cool Whip Quest.

Rainy weekend here, not so perfect as I said. I feel so secure and snug with my new roof, even though my bay window might blow out at any moment. I wish a bunch of guys with chainsaws would saunter through my property and take down a whole bunch of trees. Those tree guys get $300 PER TREE. MY GOD!!! I could easily spend six grand on tree removal. I don't THINK so. The squirrels look down with a bit of smugness, knowing this. I DON"T THINK SHE'S PAYING FOR THAT!!!!

I can hear the lawnmowers going now that the rain is over. In Arkansas, at least in Little Rock, you always see the women mowing the lawn, not the men. I wouldn't want that to catch on here. I hate to even mention it.

I was at a friend's house the other night and we saw a family of owls in the barn next door. It was dusk and hard to get a good look, but it was pretty exciting. There seemed to be at least four of them flying out of the barn and all around, making noise too. Like a twittering, not a "hoo" as generally reported.

Giant turtles make a "WHO" sound when mating, I was told. One turtle is on top of the other one (not a totally original idea) and the bottom one says "WHO?" I guess maybe the top one then says "ME!" Or maybe "ME, WHOOO DO YOU THINK?" There's no accounting for animal behavior.

My daughter-in-law had a lizard that grew to be 5 feet long. Her mother (my d-i-l's mother, not the lizard's) used to let it run around in the house and she said delivery people were afraid of it, particularly the mailman. Can you believe this? It's name was Zamboni. It would crawl up the curtains and pull down the curtain rod and the entire curtain apparatus bang!! onto the floor. The mother eventually donated it to the University of Connecticut and the lizard now travels in a circulating scholarly presentation of some kind. Watch for it if you live near UConn.

We're in the middle of civil twilight right now--I hope everyone is being as civil as possible. SHUT UP--OH NO I'M SORRY, COULD YOU KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN?

Good manners are so rare.

A bientot
still not writing

Friday, July 21, 2006


I've done nothing for days. I don't sleep well at night and I usually get up by 7am whereupon I get immediately online and do emails with a friend. Then phone calls. Then reading. I haven't written anything for a while so I guess I'm taking a break. Since my dad's computer in Arkansas doesn't have Word, what would be the point of getting all engrossed in something? If I know myself, I will probably do just that immediately before getting on the plane.

It's almost time for my girlfriend and I to go to the Clinton pool. It's a public pool nearby and you'd have to say on the low-class side. We fit in. Our suits are old and not very fashionable. We hang our towels over the chain link fence and lower our cellulite into the cool water. We try to go on the hottest day of the year. One year we went and I lost a contact lens. Three or four scuba diving kids tried to help but it was never found. My friend and I top off our day with a visit to Dairy Queen. It's one of the highlights of the summer.

Mmmm, Dairy Queen, let's have a moment of silence for that. I adore aerated plastic ice cream, especially dipped in chocolate. I freely admit I have no taste and don't really care for Haagen-Daasz. I mean it's okay, but it doesn't compare to DQ. I wonder if they still have Dilly Bars, not that I would these days. Not being the hot sex bomb that I now am--cough cough.

But I digress. Back to my summer sloth routine: I usually try to leave the building once a day and that might be a trip to the library or the bookstore or the mall. Nothing too taxing. Grocery shopping (yes, still at Hanna-Hanna-Hanna) is my most arduous task and I bitch mightily to myself about it.

An evening's activity might be reading or anacrostic puzzles or talking on the phone or any of the above. And you know what? It's never dull.
Most of July is past now--HISSSSSSSSSSSSS.

La plume de ma tante


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Favorite Places to Sit

I still love to sit on the front steps of my parents' house in Little Rock. Many cars whiz by there now because it has become such a busy shortcut between two other roads. I still think someone might go by that I know.

I love to sit anywhere I can see Keuka Lake, NY. To me it is the most beautiful place in the world, probably because I spent summers there as a child. It's my emotional center in many ways.

I like to sit on my brother's back deck, overlooking Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. Far off in the distance a bridge can be seen and I always joke that we are going to count the number of cars that go across. I've never been on the bridge so that I could look over at the house and have that "backwards" feeling. Well, that is probably my normal feeling in life anyway.

I like to sit at the Nashoba Regional High School track in Bolton, Mass. It's peaceful there and my kids all performed in various ways on its field, my boys in football and my daughter in the band. I like walking around it too. I get good ideas there. It feels like my kids are still there sometimes. I look for them as I walk.

I like to sit on the rock behind my house. It's a great big flat thing and you can lie down on it. Used to be you could see the sky through the pine trees, but the forest has encroached and now you can't. This is making me think of mowing the lawn and feelings of guilt are encroaching also.

Finally, I like to sit on my own kitchen stoop. I guess I'm a stoop sitter. It feels natural to me. You never know who will drive by, or in my case, in.

Bien sur,


Monday, July 17, 2006


It's done for now. I say for now because it's out with three readers and based on their input, I may or may not have more work to do. It came in at 85,111 words. I think that is about where COUPON GIRL was too. Weird, those word counts.

But I'm satisfied with it. I'm excited by it.

And just when you feel excited, that's when you have to start something new or you will go crazy. It has many hurdles to go through before seeing the light of day.

But today I am celebrating. Over there is the big sheet cake I promised. It's not just any sheet cake either. It has three layers with whipped cream in between. One layer is chocolate with hot fudge twirled through it. The other two are white--and the frosting is deep dark chocolate with raspberry sauce lettering: VICTORY.

Please help yourself.

I just realized that for all intents and purposes I started this diet at the same time I started the book. Total weight loss--23.5 pounds. My knees don't bother me (though that could be because I'm not teaching).

So I'm proud of that too.

Now if I could only clean the house.

Vive le Windex,

Saturday, July 15, 2006

House Paint

In my travels lately I have noticed a number of houses painted in extremely strange colors. I'm sure this is more typical of New England since we by and large don't have brick houses. Everything is clapboard and they all have to be painted.







These houses are always on main roads in medium to large cities. Sometimes their shutters are in disrepair, but not always. Sometimes they are in perfect condition. I imagine the owners sitting out on the porch in their madras bell bottoms and striped polo shirts. The men's pants come to mid-calf when they sit in a chair. God, I hate that. Men should err on the side of too-long pants. There. I've said it. The truth shall set you free.

Also, men should keep their fingernails really short.

In truth, men's fashion is easy. You shouldn't notice a man's clothes. That's the way I feel about it.

Next time I post it will be time for cake.

A bientot

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bastille Day

Actually, Bastille Day is tomorrow, I think.

The middle of the summer, I always think.

I may have to travel soon to Arkansas and it will REALLY be summertime there. They are housebound in much the same way as we New Englanders are in February. You can't play tennis and I guess people play golf, but I don't see how. HOT HOT HOT. My father proclaims every morning that "it's cool outside. Let's open up the house." This means let's turn off the air conditioning!!! Pretty soon everyone is sweating to death, whereupon he will allow it to be turned on and then pretty soon, because it's set to 72, everyone has beads of sweat on their upper lips. Home sweet home, eh?

Is every family weird?

I guess they are. My parents came of age in the Depression so to them, the wolf is always potentially at the door. That's why they keep bags and bags of Cool Whip containers in the kitchen. The vista of these containers in the refrigerator is vast, although usually my dad puts masking tape on each one and labels it. PEAS. CHICKEN. PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE (his favorite, though Mom and I don't like it). Each LeMenu tray is kept and stored. Someday a LeMenu tray will answer the door and my parents will be under the sink. How many can a house hold?

I accused my mother of watering the salad dressing last year and she said, "well, it goes a lot further if you do that." I'm sure she's right. I guess that's why she waters the mashed potatoes too. Have you ever eaten spaghetti sauce with kidney beans in it? That may have broken up my first marriage, haha. And the spaghetti itself, the pasta, is frozen and thawed, frozen and thawed, over and over again. The closest thing I can think of is rubber bands.

But from them I have learned how to live small. It's a skill I hold close. I have also learned to throw things out with abandon. Dare to throw!!!! That's probably why my house is so spartan. I like to think I can pack up and get out of here in 15 minutes. It would take my parents two years.

My mother is ill and not getting better.

Nothing will ever be the same again when she is gone.

Sorry for sad thoughts again.

La plume de ma tante

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Living the Dream

Today would have been the day I started my summer course, so I have to appreciate yet again that I am not working. Yaaaay!!! I will be very refreshed when it comes time to stand in front of a class in September. Good thing too, since I am teaching six sections of exactly the same thing. However, it will be confusing as all hell since two sections are one hour, two sections are an hour and fifteen minutes, and two sections are an hour and a half. I remember last fall when this one woman in class would always say, "we already did this." God. She kept me honest. I'd just as soon do the same handout twenty five different times.

I got a new book of anacrostic puzzles and can't wait to start in. I still haven't quite finished my crosswords. Talk about getting my money's worth--I bought those babies last Thanksgiving before my trip to Arkansas and I still have them. Anacrostics are far superior to crosswords, but when in a pinch I will do them. ISN'T THIS FASCINATING?

I downloaded a song!!!! It's Billy Joel's "And So It Goes." It's incredibly sad and I've always loved it. We optimists every now and then like to weep our eyes out at some tearjerk thing or other. I had a physical today and the doctor stuck his head in and said, "I have a med student with me. Is that okay?" What could I say? WELL, IS HE CUTE? Geez.

Finishing up the formatting of Victory and that will be that. I will make a big announcement here and serve cake. Don't miss it.

A bientot

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Readers are important, especially what are called "beta" readers. They read your book before you send it to the agent. Before you send it anywhere important. I have had four beta readers so far on Victory and they have all helped me enormously. One reader will read for humor only. This part wasn't that funny to me. This part was. Another reader will comment on plot lines and how they hang together or don't hang together. You never know what a reader will pick up on.

I try to read for my friends as well. I know what they really want is a general impression. Do I like it? Is it interesting? Do I want to know what happens? Does one part seem too long? Also, the people I read for understand that it's all casual. If I thought someone was going to dutifully sit down and take every suggestion I gave, I wouldn't feel as free to give any. Get me? I don't take every suggestion either. But if three readers tell me the same thing, I have to take that seriously. If they all three give a different opinion on the same issue, I do what I want.

Some scenes you write and they come out almost perfect the first time. When I wrote my play PEPPERS, PAUL, AND ELIZABETH, I used a borrowed typewriter and the whole thing just spewed out onto the page. I don't remember making any revisions. But then other things are labored over, changed, then changed back again. My ending scene in Victory, or almost the ending scene, still needs a bit of sharpening. I still need one surprise in there and then it will be right. Hah!!! Like that's easy.

Lists help. I like lists. Also just sitting down and spending time on it helps. Ideas can thud into my head and through my fingers.

Uh oh, this post is taking on the ME! ME! ME! theme.

One more beautiful July day spent. I guard them jealously on all our behalves.

A bientot

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Summit

Humans love to be at the top, the very high point. I was on the top of Mount Wachusett yesterday, the first time in ten years. It felt good. Here I am and don't try to stop me. It was hazy and you couldn't see Boston as you sometimes can from there. It didn't look like anyone lived down there. You couldn't see McDonald's or Arby's. I had hoped to see some hawks cruising around in the thermal gusts, but they were somewhere else. Possibly at McDonald's or Arby's, I guess.

It's a good place to go. It ain't Pike's Peak. It's not tarted up with vendors selling bumper stickers and slick brochures. It's probably been this way for 50 years or more. A plain black and white poster shows the silhouettes of various hawks. Turkey, carabara, okay I made that up because I can't remember the various hawk types. There must have been 10 or 12. Somebody studies that stuff.

I'm ready to finish Victory.

I have a whisper of an idea for my next book. Nothing more than a picture, a sense, but maybe a story.

By luck, a former student of mine took two dollars from my car to drive up the mountain. He didn't remember my name and I didn't remember his. A good reminder to me of something, I'm not sure what.

July is the very essence of perfection in New England. It's green everywhere and warm. Birds trill and sing and some of them squawk. If I get reincarnated as a bird, I hope I get to be one with a pleasant song.

Not much to report.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A New Day

Getting through my revisions on Victory. Right now I'm reading parts that seem good, so I'm whipping through them without changing much. When I get to the end I'm sure that will come to a screeching halt. What was I thinking when I wrote THAT?

I saw Fourth of July fireworks last night in Boston (from the Cambridge side) and though they were spectacular, the hassle of driving home afterwards was just about enough to deter me from the experience again. My favorite motorist is the one sitting in a grid-locked intersection of cars, who decides WHY NOT START HONKING?

New roof still holding, though one small slat, or shingle I guess, has come dislodged from the others. I need to call Home Depot and bitch about it. It's so pleasurable to look out my window and see a storm coming and not be in abject fear.

July is the one month in New England that is PERFECT. 85 in the day, 65 at night, anyone who leaves here in July is crazy. Also very beautiful and green.

HELLO VICTORY has been suggested as a title and I think I like it.

A bientot

Sunday, July 02, 2006

table hockey

I'm not talking about air hockey where you stand there and twirl those stupid little levers and players twist around and move up and down. I'm talking about real low-tech table hockey.

A long board with two holes, one on either end. A block in front of each hole, two mallets, and one puck.

I am AWESOME at this game. I was champion of the recretation league in Peoria, ILlinois a number of years ago (cough cough). No one can beat me. I had a group here tonight and we played. I'm a kind and generous winner, though, and I instruct people on how to get better.

I'm obnoxious.

One of my old friends actually said this tonight at my kitchen table.

"This is my place. This chair at this table. I always liked to sit here so I could just walk outside and pee."

"What?" I said.

"I always liked to sit here so I could just walk outside and pee."


I never knew that.

It's hot and humid in New England tonight. I may run the air conditioner in my bedroom even though it is noisy. I always think I hear a TV set on or people talking behind it. It weirds me out.

Started on revision of Victory. I feel enthusiastic and have found a new reader, so that motivates me.

A bientot