Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yogurt Day!!!

Yesterday, I got up earlier than usual and hit the parc at 7!!! YAY!!! I haven't done anything terribly physical for over two months, but I've been reading a Hal Higdon (marathon guru) book and just couldn't sit still any more--heart murmur or not. So, I walked 10 mins., jogged 5, and walked another 15.

First of all, let me just say that the parc in the morning kicks some major tush!!! The place is nearly deserted. The only other people there are runners, little old ladies taking a short cut to do their shopping, old dudes on bikes and a weird green-caped lady who walks around the lake clandestinely tossing crumbs to the birds (I guess it's crumbs... It might be seed... Whatever it is, she sure knows she's not supposed to do it because every time we crossed paths, she all but lifted her head and whistled...). Not only that, there's almost always this mist on the lake--which is wicked placid except for little lines cut by the swimming ducks--and drops of dew on the flowers and trees. My running route takes me through the botanical gardens and alongside the greenhouses. I SO wish I could take a break from training and go in there... I get all Pavlovian and whatnot when I hear the sprinklers turn on. I can't WAIT to do some horti/agri research. But, mornings are my only time for training (and I'd never THINK to bring the kids with me because I'd spend all my time yelling at them not to touch).

Second, can I tell you just how crappy out of shape I am? The last 5k I did, I ran the entire thing and did it in under half an hour (24 mins, I think, actually). Well, yesterday, I did two miles in half an hour. What I don't get is that when I looked at my Garmin while walking, I was doing a 13/14 minute mile and while running did a 12/13. But I still only did two miles in 30 mins. I guess I must have slowed down during walking a couple of times and didn't notice. *sigh* It made me feel slow and crappy.

At least I was out there, though, huh?

This morning, I went out again. I did 10 min. walk, 5 run (and really running this time... a 10/11 minute mile... that's running for me at this point), 5 walk, 5 run, 5 walk and then strolled for about 5 or 10 for a cooldown before stretching. That made 30 mins altogether. Guess how far I went? a QUARTER of a mile farther than yesterday. Dammit!!! Oh well, I guess I'm going to have to cut myself some slack. I can't help but be all stressed out now that I know there's a REAL time limit on Houston. Then again, I guess it's better for me to start out slow and actually FINISH (by NOT getting injured) than to really push it and not be able to even go to Houston (which would be the case if I DO get injured).

People look at me like I'm a crazy person while I'm stretching. They all have there short, bouncy stretches they do, but I was taught a different, slower, gentler (and supposedly more effective) way of stretching. They all looked at me like I had a cupcake on my head. *shrug* Well, they're just gonna hafta keep starin'. I don't want to pull a muscle. So there!

Also, I felt like an IDIOT today because a guy asked me what time it was. I have this humongous Garmin on my wrist and I have never used it as a watch. I didn't know how to get the damn time to show up. *eyeroll* I made sure to get Sam to show me when I got home. Then again, maybe he was just feeding me a line (because the most common lines are "do you have the time" and "do you have a light"... I shouldn't flatter myself, I guess).


So, yesterday, I'm all set to spend the day experimenting with yogurt, right? Well, as I'm memorizing the recipe (I hate to stare down at stuff while I'm trying to work, so I always like to memorize the recipe... I know, you don't even have to say it, we all know I'm a weirdo...)... So, I'm doing that when the interphone rings. I pick it up and there's a guy downstairs who says he's from the post and has a package for me. This always gives me the shivers because just about any maniac could do that, right? But, we've been waiting for our forwarded mail from our AWESOME neighbor who has been checking it (because the Charlotte postal service HATES us and obviously doesn't want to forward our mail even though every time we call or write, they tell us that it should be forwarding...*sigh*). So, I buzz him in.

I call Sam to have him on the phone while I answer the door, just in case it IS a psycho, but just as the guy rings my doorbell, Sam answers and says, "Can I call you back in five?" So, I'm standing there, freaked out. I look through the peephole and see a dude, but I can't see if he's from the Poste or not. I take a chance. I open the door.

"Tenez, bonne journee." (Here, have a nice day.)

And with that, he's gone. Back in the elevator.

I take a deep breath. Whew!

And sure enough, the package IS our forwarded mail. I open it up because I've been waiting for 1) my rejection letter from the agent of my dreams and 2) the little book-like, framey thing they give you when you graduate--I didn't get to walk though I paid the grad fee, so I want my damn framey thing and they promised to send it to me but it hasn't ever come *fuming*.

The first thing I see when I open the package is a manila envelope. It has my handwriting on it. So, I know it's the S.A.S.E that I've sent the agent. He has returned my manuscript. My shoulders slump. Do I open it now, or do I go make a cup of coffee (or open a bottle of beer) first to postpone the disappointment? I figure I can drink a beer afterward. I open it and sure enough there's a letter in there. I don't have the heart to read it. But then, I see they've written something in handwriting. Wow... I usually only get photocopied rejection letters. How nice of them to reject me in handwri--WAIT!!! WAIT A COTTON-PICKIN' MINUTE!!! That says "full ms"...

I'm confused. Everything sort of spins around me in slow motion. I hear my voice but it sounds like a record on slow speed. "Whuuuuh?" Then it hits me. I understand. And that makes my heart drop into my stomach. My head spins even more and I have to sit down.

They want to see my FULL MANUSCRIPT!!!

I call Sam and I can barely tell him. I feel like I'm going to throw up. I get out what has happened and he says, "That's cool. Can I call you back in half an hour?"

You can call me back whenever you want. You can not call me back at all. You can pick up a hand full of mud and throw it at me for all I care. They want to see my full manuscript!!!

Am I making this clear? This is the agent of my DREAMS!!! I met him at a conference where I signed up to have an interview with a DIFFERENT agent to pitch a DIFFERENT book. I met this guy at the elevator after I had had a couple of beers and when I found out that he represented Young Adult work, I pitched my book. Right there at the elevator. He even told his agent friends to go on ahead of him so he could sit down right then and there and hear my pitch. I then spent the rest of the weekend practically stalking him. I went to a couple of talks he did and just fell madly in love with everything he said. He said that he wanted new authors with promise but that wanted to be molded. That's me. He said that he wanted authors who were okay with exclusivity because he wanted a strong, long-term relationship. That's ME!!! And on and on. Then, the last day of the conference, he and I broke away from the rest of the crowd and sat on the floor and talked about my other book (the one I went to the conference to pitch... and he liked that one too!!!). As other author-vultures (a pretty common species of writer) came over to smile and nod and get his card, I mouthed that I had to go. He interrupted whomever was gabbing to tell me, "send the first one first." One of the happiest moments of my life. (I won't tell you the long story about how my car broke down in the parking garage and how Sam had to drive all the way from Houston to Austin WITH both kids (I was pregnant) on FATHER'S day to help me, or how the car broke down every time we stopped at a red light or how we had to leave the car in north Houston and come back for it later and how it barely made it into the Toyota garage to get fixed... *sigh*... No, I won't bore you with THAT whole story... *snort*).

Anyway, you'd think that I'd go right home and get to revising the story (because, DUDE, I wrote that novel during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and it needed some WORK) so that I could send it to him, right?


I was set to move to Charlotte, NC within, like weeks. Plus, I was in the throes of my masters studies in Library and Information Science, so I spent all my spare time (*chuckle* I already had two kids!!!) working on papers. Then we actually moved to NC. Then, I had my baby. Then, I had one more semester of school. Then, we moved to FRANCE!!!! You getting all this? It took me over a year just to do a first revision. I sent what I had written to my writing buddy in Houston (hey B!!!) and she went over it with her fabulous comb. I've got a few peeps reading it to let me know if the content is authentic and if there are any discrepencies. I'm hoping to have that done by the end of this weekend so I can send the FULL MANUSCRIPT to the Agent of My Dreams (AMD) on Monday morning. *deep breath* Ah... gets me every time!

So, cross your fingers on that.


To celebrate this one step closer to being published (please, oh, please, oh, please!!!), we took the kids to Les 3 Brasseurs (you know, the resto they had up in Lille with the flammekeuches thingies... the pizza-esque thingies, cuz kids eat free on Tuesday night). I'm not going to bore you with the whole story and all its ridiculous details. What I will tell you is that 1) Right away when we got there, we were seated next to a physicist with whom Sam used to work when we lived in Lyon nearly ten years ago--he and his wife and four kids... I wasn't really in the mood to socialize, so I didn't much, and felt sorta guilty but whatever, 2) We ordered the kids steak hache which is essentially HAMBURGER PATTIES but when they got to the table of RAVENOUS children, I noticed a little red speck on Ryan's French fries... I stuck my knife into the hamburger to cut it and blood EXPLODED out of it... Same with Lily's... REALLY?!? I mean REALLY??? You serve RARE hamburger patties to CHILDREN??? I freaked out and held it out to the world, I didn't care who took the plate, dammit, I just wanted the bloody circle of meat away from my child--call it mother's instinct or something. But Sam just laughed at me. The waitor walked by and Sam said--as though he were sorry for "bothering" the waitor--"Excuse me, would you mind having them cook this a little more?" It came back within a minute or so. I KNEW it wouldn't be cooked (how many hamburgers have I made in my life?), but I dug my knife in it anyway... no blood explosion but still mooing meat. I took a huge gulp of my beer to calm myself. Sam proceeded to let the waitor walk by like FIVE times. In the mean time, my kids are eating French fries for dinner.

I know smoke was coming out of my ears. I was TRYING to control myself but I was SO MAD AT SAM for just sitting there. Or acting like I was the one overreacting. I mean, who's side is he on, anyway? The resto's? So, after I griped at him and expressed my disappointment, he asked the waitor--again, with a tone that said, 'excuse my bitchy wife'--to send the burger back with "no red at all." I had a clear view of the kitchen--which he obviously didn't know, or didn't care because he nearly threw the plate toward the chef and threw his hands up in one of those classic French gestures that means "*^%$#@ Americans"--and he and another guy stood there bitching about it. REALLY? What a waste of time. This time, and I'm not being paranoid when I say they did it out of spite, they kept the damn hamburgers for fifteen minutes. When they came back, they were nearly black.

What have we learned from this, children? Have we learned, "Well, I'll never come back here?" Oh, no. Because in France, they don't give a shit if you come back or not. That's your prerogative. Have we learned, "Let me speak to the manager about sending raw beef out to children?". No, no, no. Managers don't give a shit. And apparently--according to Sam--French children grow up eating raw beef "and none of THEM appear to be sick." No, what we've learned is that this whole episode was our own fault. Had we ASKED for the beef to be well done, it would have been. Shame on us for ASSUMING that the burgers would be cooked to well-done. Shame on us for ASSUMMING that the waitor would ASK how we wanted our burgers cooked. Well, we know for next time, right? Because we HAVE to go back... the kids' meals are FREE on Tuesday.

And that brings me to the most embarassing part... I thought that Sam's colleague probably didn't speak great English (why did I think that? Because Sam TOLD me that.), so I didn't hold back in the expression of my disappointment and anger. Then, later, the colleague asked if the kids liked their food. Sam shook his head. "Not interesting enough?" And Sam said, "Not COOKED enough." Then the colleague looked RIGHT AT ME and said, "Well, we can't really complain, can we? Since they are free, after all?" I'm sure my mouth fell open. I just filled it, once again, with beer.

I did overreact. I forgot the meal was free. But the whole thing would have played out EXACTLY the same way had they NOT been free. I assure you.

Okay.... So, today's the day. In fact, now is the time. I'm going into the kitchen to make the yogurt. Wish me luck. I'll report back. It takes about 6 hours... Just in time for you all to be rolling out of bed.


Rachel said...

Congrats on the manuscript!! That's awesome, exciting news!!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome news about the manuscript :)

StaceyF said...

Wow - That is great!
Congratulations on the manuscript... and keep up the hard work - some of us still can't do a 13 minute mile and work at it all the time :)

Catherine said...

Wow! Congrats on the manuscript. You sounded so smart when we did the interview. I had no idea you were a writer... I often tell my husband that you are so good at describing everything French that you should write a book about the way things really are... The burger story happened to us numerous times. They seemed to never get the meat right, and we also sent our meat back a few times only to have it come back exactly the same. I'm sure you'll get published. You have talent, girl!

Joelie said...

Catherine... actually, I did write a memoir about my first year in France. I'm thinking about re-writing it (because you know, translations are a scam) in French and marketing it in France so they can see an American's genuine impressions of living in France as an etrangere. Your comment has my wheels turning again...

Lori said...

Congrats on the manuscript!! That's wonderful! Seriously doing the happy dance for you!