Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh boy...

I started this blog to talk about all my impressions of being an American in France (again)... All the little cultural situations and snafus and differences and stuff. But I can tell that the blog will continue once I get BACK to the States. I am seeing the U.S. through French eyes... Through Franco-American eyes.

It became STARK this morning as I was watching the morning wake-up program on a network channel. They covered a particular station WJLA-TV who had done a report on breast cancer awareness at a local (don't remember where it was local) new station who used a BARE BREAST to show how a breast exam is supposed to be done. My first thought was, "so? this is news?" But then I saw some people react to the program. One woman said, "I think this is obscene, what if there are children in the room?" Another woman said that the station was just doing it for ratings. REALLY? It's a goddamn report about BOOBS. I SAW the report (with the boobs censored with a little white rectangle) and trust me, it wasn't obscene. It wasn't even sexy (and I actually LIKE boobs "that way"). It was clinical and informational. I am shocked and ANGERED that anyone, especially a WOMAN would ever be put off by bare breasts in such a light. I was even shocked that they referred to it as "nudity." It is crap like this that makes women scared to breastfeed in public. Ridiculous.

Okay. That's all. Just needed to vent. I guess my brain has been French-washed since I've been living over there.

Breast exams SAVE lives. If a bare-breasted exam on the news enlightens women on how exactly to do the exam, I say, "Bring on the boobies!!!" But, I'd prolly say that anyway. *grin*

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Thousand Words...

I'm going to let the pictures of my visit to the homestead-to-be yesterday speak for themselves... Enjoy...

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Funk is Thick...


I have a friend that fairly recently said, "Thank you for always being so positive." And when she said it, I was.

And I'm feeling guilty for not being that person anymore. I'm funky, y'all. I know, yeah, whatever, I'm pregnant and hormonal, blah blah blah. It's more than that.

It's the book. I truly am stuck. Today is the first time I've picked it up to work on it in a couple of weeks. I hate it. I mean, HATE. It's not what it's supposed to be. That, I know. I just don't know what to do about it. I am afraid that I won't get anything productive done on it before Nano. Part of me shrugs at that, but another part of me still feels that urgency. Then, there's this other part that says, "Jusssssssst letttitttttttt goooooooo." I'm no writer, y'all. I'm not. I'm a fraud. I am convinced. A writer would know what to do. Or would have some ideas. Or would recognize when something looks good. REading this book is like hearing my voice on an answering machine. Uncomfortable. I want to walk away. I want to finish it, send it off and THEN walk away. I want to quit. But I'm not very good at quitting. Instead, I just play Spider Solitaire, listen to old Amy Grant music and cry. I dip back into the manuscript every third hand or so I lose. I change a sentence or a paragraph and that's all I seem to be able to take before I run back to Solitaire to hide.

It's also this thing in my belly. I'm cramping. Not the contraction-type of cramping where I KNOW I'm about to miscarry. Just that dull ache that makes me feel like I'm about to start my period. And there was some pink stuff when I went to the bathroom. Not blood. I know not to get freaked out until I see real blood. But I worry a little anyway. Part of me says, "Oh well, wasn't meant to be..... again." Another part of me says, "Shut up, Bitch. That aint miscarriage blood. It's just pink dishcarge cuz you were constipated yesterday. Don't go holding the funeral service yet." I am pretty bipolar, so I should be used to two parts of me duking it out, but I'm not. It's only adding to the funk.

okay, I have other things to say but most of them are negative. I'll spare us both.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Piss and Moan...

Okay, I got some stuff to say. I warn, you though... It's just bitching. So, if you're not in the mood, better check back another day.

The neighbor is getting on my nerves again. Not the one directly underneath us who gripes about the kids running and jumping at 5pm on a Saturday (WHAT THE FUCK?), the one with whom we're supposed to be friends.

Let me be completely honest and say... We're not really friends. I LOVE them. That's true. But it's mostly in a backscratching sorta way. We help each other a lot. They take Ryan to school in the morning so that he won't have to walk at a snail's pace with Lily and me. I pick their kid up in the afternoon. Some Wednesdays (cuz you'll remember, kids don't go to school on Weds.), I watch their kid (well, I don't really watch her, but I put up with her screaching and tattling because Ryan likes to play with her). Sometimes, when they know I'M overwhelmed, they'll let Ryan go to THEIR house on Wednesdays. Some days, when neither one of them can pick their kid up at school, I pick her up, buy her a snack and bring her home... SOME DAYS, I even help her with her homework. Some weekends, we take her with us (to play, to the park, running around). Sometimes THEY take Ryan. So, there you go. We swap babysitting, sorta. Our kids love one another like siblings, but I feel like we adults are like two pairs of parents-in-law. But the main thing is... We wouldn't really be friends if it weren't for the kids. I definitely appreciate them, as I said, but I don't like to hang out with them socially very often.

Why? Well, if you've been keeping up with this blog much, you'll know (and if not, maybe back up and check a few other months out). Our personalities, interests, beliefs and communication styles just don't mix well (and before you think it's a cultural-linguistic thing, it's not... Sam doesn't like hanging with them, either... in fact, he likes it even less than I). Oh, we'll have them over to eat every now and again. We see each other at the door here and there and cheer each other on superficially in our respective projects and whatnot, but we're not up late going all heart-to-heart or anything. Made that mistake before.

So... You know how on Mondays, I go pick Lily up from school, bring her home, feed her lunch and take her back to school? Well, they do that with their kid, too. I'll be honest and say that I arranged to have Lily's lunch-at-home day be Monday because I knew this fact (about their kid) and wanted to be available to help them out if ever they needed. So, when the dude told me last week that he was going to be busy or out of town or whatever on Monday, I volunteered to walk her to school with my kids, go pick her up at lunch time with Lily and even walk her BACK to school with Lily AND THEN, AS USUAL, pick her up after she and Ryan and Lily are done with their late Monday (they stay at the school for an extra hour on Monday afternoons to get tutoring). He said, THANKS! So, Monday comes, and the chick is surprised to see me at her doorstep.

"Oh, are YOU walking them?"

"Yep. Told him I would."

"GREAT! I'm running late anyway."

"No problem. I'll pick her up when I pick up Lily for lunch."

"No, let's go together. I'll be here, too."

"No, don't worry about it. I'll get them both and save you the trip."

"No, let's walk together. I need to get a few things on the way. Stop by and get me when you head out."

"Oh. Okay."

"Don't forget. Stop by and get me."

You can probably tell by my reaction that I did NOT WANT TO DO THIS. Yes, I'm a total bitch. Yes, I know she was trying to be sociable and that she was probably saying it out of thanks and whatnot. But let me let you in on a little secret........ She doesn't like ME either!!!!! When we are alone together (when she's not cutting me off, misunderstanding what I'm saying (um, mostly because she won't stop FUCKING CUTTING ME OFF IN MID SENTENCE), criticizing me, bossing me around, bitching about ALL THE WORK she has to do *eye roll*), we have nothing to say to each other. No, seriously. Like I said, we don't have the same communication styles, personality types or philosophies, so really it's like, even though we are speaking the same language, we're STILL speaking a foreign language. When she asks me to go anywhere with her, we almost always walk in silence. Okay, what's wrong with that? Nothing. But if I'm going to walk in silence, I usually prefer to do it alone. Just who I am. Why walk anywhere together if we're not going to connect? Just because we happen to be going the same way?

Here's the other ironic thing. When we're walking together without the children, I walk fast. The tense conversation (which I force and initiate) is peppered with her panting. Tough shit. Walking to Lily's school is my only real and regular opportunity for excercise (cuz walkin' back AINT and I'll get to that in a minute) and I like to walk briskly. I can tell that just this short walk a couple of times a day has made a difference in my health and fitness and I'm not going to sacrifice it because she wants us to physically go somewhere together (now that I think about it, maybe that's why she doesn't talk.... maybe it's cuz she can't breathe... maybe she oughta consider giving up smoking, then, huh?). The irony part is that once we HAVE the girls with us, I walk VERY, VERRRRRY slowly. Why? Because Lily is 3 and is plagued with the same flat (no, really, F.L.A.T.) feet as I. A walk that normally takes me 7 minutes at a comfortable pace (6 hustling and 5 jogging--how do I know this? I've left my appartment late before *blushes*), takes me 20 with Lily in tow. This is why I drop Ryan off at her house in the morning. Because when Ryan walks to school with Lily and me, he gets all whiny and starts trouble. If Ryan walks to school with their kid, Lily and I can leave at 8am and be at school on time at 8:20 without rushing. So, as we're walking BACK from picking up the girls, the chick and her kid are way ahead of us. This doesn't bother me in the least, as, since I've mentioned, we don't have anything of substance to say to one another. But I guess she feels guilty, so she keeps stopping and turning around and then waiting for us to catch up. The first time we did this little thing, I told her she really doesn't have to wait for us, because I'm not going to spend our whole walk pulling on Lily's arm while she whines about not wanting to walk fast. But, for some reason (courtesy or politeness maybe, which surprises me since so many other times she's not courteous or polite to me at all), she's waiting anyway.

We get near the pharmacy, and she sees on the external clock that it's 12 10. She says, "Oh, I gotta get going. I have a colleague coming over for lunch to work with me and she's supposed to be here by noon."

Relieved, I say, "Great! No problem. Go on. I'll see you later." But then, she realizes that 12 10 is not 12:10 but 12/10... The date (they're backards over yere).

So, she says, "Ooooh, nevermind."

My heart sinks, because I'm really annoyed with feeling obligated to smile every time she turns around and waits for me.

THEN she says, as if we haven't already HAD this fucking conversation, "Yeah, you're right, it really IS an adventure to walk somewhere with Lily. I see now why you drop Ryan off at our place."

Now, not only am I annoyed, I'm defensive, so my return smile to her laughter isn't a genuine one.

THEN, when we get back to the building, we spot her colleague in the lobby. At that point, I'm "just a neighbor." So, now I feel snubbed.

I wouldn't CARE. Trust me, I'd forever and a thousand times rather walk to and from school ALONE (well, not alone, just without her... I don't even mind when it's just her kid walking with me). But since she's insisted we walk together now, I'm open to get my ego punched. WHATEVER.

Oh, there's more.....

So, their older kid is my babysitter. She's smart. Responsible. She speaks to the kids with authority when it comes to settling down and not getting crazy and not making a mess. BUT, she also doesn't just plop her teenage ass on my couch and let the kids fend for themselves. She actually PLAYS with them. Like, whenever she comes over, she feeds them dinner and then says, "Okay, I'm the cashier and you're the customer, okay?" or whatever. I've seen it. It's awesome.

And the other night, as I was helping her with her English homework, she says, "Hey, I'm free on Friday to watch the kids if you and Sam want to go out."

Well, it just so happened that Flavia and Gilles had invited us over for dinner. It was our first time going to their place and our first time going to ANYONE'S apartment without the kids. It was also going to be on the other side of town.

The thing is... Friday is pool night for all of the kids. Even the babysitter. She's on the swim team. And I guess, so is one of her friends who lives nearby. ANYWAY, on Friday afternoon, when I was talking to the mother, I said, "So, can she still babysit tonight." The mom hadn't heard anything about it. She said, "But it shouldn't be a problem. I'll pick the kids up from the pool, take them to X's house (a friend) and they can play with her kids. The Babysitter can come straight to your place with The Babysitter's Friend to watch your girls until Ryan and my kid come home with me." (confused? sorry.)

Now, here's where I start twitching. I like the babysitter. I trust her. I know her. She lives downstairs. But this other girl? Well, I DON'T know her and therefore won't trust her with my kids right off (have I mentioned I have a really troubled past with my OWN babysitters abusing me?). AND I know how teenagers are. One on her own is fine, but TWO together can get into trouble. I did it. And so did you. You know you were more responsible when you were alone than if you had someone to egg you on.

What made this worse is that when I told Sam, he said, "Oh... isn't that friend the slutty one?" Now, to be fair, I myself was "the slutty one." So, this isn't about being judgmental. It's about remember how screwed up I was and irresponsible.

Sam, right away, didn't feel right about leaving our kids with the two girls ESPECIALLY if the neighbor adults weren't going to be home (they were going to be a the babysitter's friend's parents' house... again, sorry for the confusion)... ESPECIALLY since we were going to be going a little further away (we usually only go to the movies, a five minute walk, but this time we were going to be a good 15 minute drive away).

Sam decided he wasn't going. He would stay with the kids and let me go by myself to my friends' house. I was mad, but he was adamant. I said, "okay, I'm going to give her the excuse that you don't feel comfy leaving the kids alone with a teenager and going that far away if there aren't going to be any of us four adults in the building."

And that's what I did.

Her answer? "Well, we're only going to be five minutes away."

*sigh* She trumped my hand.

So, I said, "Oh yeah. I forgot they lived so close. Okay, nevermind then, since you'll be available in case of emergency."

It all worked out fine. The Babysitter came (ALONE, thank you), fed and watched the kids and put them to bed while Sam and I went out and had a GREAT night at F and G's place.

Flash forward to later Monday night... I go to pick up all of the kids. I get Lily first, of course, because Ryan's tutoring always seems to run late. When I get to the front of Ryan's school, the neighbor chick is standing there, smoking, waiting for her kid (who, again, I thought I was picking up). For some reason, seeing her smoke freaks Lily out, so Lily sort of avoids her until the cigarette is gone. *shrug* As usual, the kids' thing runs late. So, now, she starts talking to me. Asks me if I want a ride since she has the car. I don't but I say okay. She says it's cold, she's cold, she can't seem to warm up. But I'm standing there sweating, as I do.

She says, "The Babysitter was really hurt the other night when I told her that you weren't going to let her babysit. She was worried that you didn't like her any more. That you didn't trust her. That you didn't think she was old or responsible enough to watch the kids without the adults in the building. I told her it was more about Sam than you, but she was sort of disappointed anyway."

I decided to come clean, because I don't want this Babysitter to think I don't trust her. I absolutely do. So, I say, "Well, to be completely honest, it was more about the Babysitter's Friend. We don't know her. Plus, one teenager is fine, but more than one can potentially be cause for concern. I mean, sure, we were worried about being farther away than usual, but then you reminded me that you'd be close."

Her mouth fell open. "No, no, no. My daughter is not easily distracted from her responsibilities. Oh, no. When she's in charge of something or is responsible for something, she is not easily distracted. Plus, the two of them (babysitter and her friend) often watch the two younger girls (other daughter and babysitter's friend's little sister). We leave them with the older girls all the time when we adults go out together."

Now, I feel like I've insulted the Babysitter even more. But this whole thing is NOT about the goddamn babysitter... it's about the "slutty" friend. So, I say, "Look, it's not about the Babysitter. It's about the friend. We don't know her, okay?"

"But she's responsible, too."

"That may be. But we.don't.know.her." And this I say with emphasis. Let me inject here, that usually when we're talking, I'm so uncomfortable that I slip into my uber-accomodating, smiling persona... I nod my head and smile a lot. I hold my tongue when I disagree with her because I know it won't do any good and that she'd probably just CUT ME THE FUCK OFF anyway if I tried to dispute her, so I don't usually try. But THIS time, I wanted her to understand that this had nothing to do with me being some quirky American blond woman who stays home eating bon bons all day. This had to do with a mother protecting her young, no matter HOW the fucking neighbor lady felt about it. So, I reiterate, "I have a long history of babysitters in my life. Bad ones. Abusive ones. So, I don't let just anyone babysit my kids. And Sam? These kids are his life. It's all he does. Go to work, come home and be with his kids. He has no hobbies, he has no friends. He only has his kids. So, both of us are protective--for different reasons--but still valid ones. We LOVE and trust the Babysitter. But we were not comfortable with the friend being there because we just.don't.know.her."

At this point, she looks like I've punched her in the face. She's hurt. Maybe because the Babysitter's Friend is HER (neighbor lady's) best friend's DAUGHTER. And maybe neighbor lady feels like her friend's daughter is like a daughter or neice to her. Either way, I don't give a fuck and I'm not going to apologize for my decision. I'm also not going to continue to justify it or defend it. I'm not HER child, I am an EQUAL for crying out loud, even if I do spend most of my time smiling and nodding so she won't talk to me.

So, to get her to shut the hell up, I call Sam and say, "Hey... Ryan's still not out of his tutoring yet. He's like 15 minutes late now."

Sam says, "I'm right behind you." And he is. I turn around and he's there on his bike with Lolo on the back. Just then, Ryan and the neighbor kid come out and squeal and play with the girls. Ryan has forgotten his jacket so I tell him to go back in and get it. I'm thinking, hoping, crossing my fingers that since I know Ryan will take for-freakin'-ever to get his jacket, that the neighbor lady will just leave without me. And she does.

"So, do you want me to wait and give you a ride home?"

"Nah! Thanks anyway. We'll just walk."

And we do. And I hold my children's hands all the way home as if I'm never going to see them again. Because in this land where my relationship with my neighbor-friends is so wishy-washy and complicated, my children have become my friends. I don't know why, but I feel like they're on my side. LOL. I know they probably wouldn't be if they had a choice. I'm not a very cool mom. I yell a lot and I say NO a lot and I make them behave themselves at the table and make their beds in the morning and NOT play with their private parts in public, so I'm not really their friend in that way. But holding their hands, I feel comforted. Relieved. And so glad to be alone with them and to NOT be sitting uncomfortably in her car.

Right here's where I could tell you how the night only got worse. How the tension of that encounter added to the fact that while I spent an hour and a half making dinner, Sam did NOT help Ryan with his homework and then while I'm trying to help Ryan with his homework, Sam tells me he's going to the movies, meanwhile Lily is ALONE in the goddamn bathtub YELLING out "Papaaaaaaaaaa" and I throw a crazy fit (complete with throwing things) and tell him he better not EVER AGAIN leave my 3 year old in a bathtub full of water EVER again, and does he understand me? I could tell you how I sat in the kitchen in the dark wondering how the hell I could be so goddamn crazy as to want to have ANOTHER child with him when it only means that I'll be essentially doing even MORE by myself. I could tell you that I thought up ways to NOT come back from NC/VA. I could tell you I thought about divorce.

But it wouldn't matter because it blew over. I pulled it back together. Oh sure as shit, everything I thought and felt is still valid. It's just that, on the days when I don't have the neighbor terrorizing me, I'm usually strong enough to hold things together. Oh sure, I still tell myself that as soon as these children are old enough to truly fend for themselves (I'm talking college) that Mama's ass is going to be on a plane to somewhere FAR away from Papa. I'm joining the damn Peace Corps (and hoping I'll find some damn peace). I need to be around adults who understand me. Who don't spend all their time thinking about themselves, money, sports and how to "get theirs." People who don't sigh and pout over every little measly thing!!!! People who fold their own shorts. Who offer and LIKE to help out in the preparation of meals. Who take pride in doing everything they do--even the smallest thing--to the BEST of their ability just because it's the right fucking thing to do. I'm going to find those people and grow old with them when my kids are all grown and gone. If I live through it.

There you go... if this post hasn't made you wanna shoot yourself... well... good!

Monday, October 12, 2009


As usual, I spent the week finding all kinds of things to write about and now that I'm sitting down in front of the computer, I'm drawing a blank. I mean, I started this blog to let you all know about the frustrations and rewards of being an expat in France, but the blog has become, well, an on-line version of The Joelie Show. I can't say that that will not continue because, frankly, it's good for me to have a place to vent. Thanks for indulging me.

However, because I promised to do so, I'll talk about the kids now and through them, expose a little of the Franciness.

So, Ryan is reading. In French. At first, I was appalled to find out that the school doesn't teach them the alphabet. They don't. There's a book. Every few pages, there's a two or three sentence paragraph about this girl named Justine. the children are taught to memorize these sentences so that they can eventually recognize full words. That makes them feel like they are reading, I guess. Problem is... Wait, have I already talked about all this before? I feel like I have. ANYWAY, the problem is, teaching them this way doesn't give them the tools they need to read on their own. So, in the mean time, I've been teaching Ryan his alphabet, the sounds that go with the letters in French, the syllables that make up French words and I've made flash cards to go along with all of this. Ryan might hate me when it's all said and done, but at least he's reading and will be able to apply what I'm teaching him to learning to read in English (which I decided to put off until he had established a good reading foundation in French... I'll probably work on it more after the beginning of the year).

I don't know what to do about Ryan's craziness. He's crazy. I mean that he's bonkers. The kid can't act normal. "Normal." He is the sweetest, most sensitive, funny, happy, smart kid I know, but at the same time, the most inappropriate, hard-headed, whiny and annoying one. Okay, not the MOST whiny and annoying but he runs a close second. There are moments he will sit in the library and "read" book after book. He'll also play quietly, building airplanes and buildings and cars out of his Legos. He'll sit at his desk and draw these great pictures of construction sites, rockets flying to space, volcanoes erupting, scenes with green trees and sunny skies with puffy clouds in them. He's a really cool kid and I'm proud to be his mom and to have the privilege to know him. I moon over him while he's sleeping. He's so peaceful and gorgeous and little and soft and beautiful with his long black lashes on his cheeks. He giggles in his sleep and is probably the snuggliest child I've ever met. He wakes up with a smile on his face.

But, the few things I'm a stickler about, he can't seem to manage to rein in. Like, the whole table thing. I've said over and over that the table is the only place that I want the kids to act "appropriately" I want them to sit AT LEAST facing their plate (we'll tackle where the gangly appendages are supposed to stay at a later date). I want them to finish the meager helpings I put on their plate, finish their half-glass of water (and we're talking about a 1/4 cup of water), NOT talk with their mouths full, NOT play with their silverware, NOT stand up in the chair, NOT make ridiculous noises... you know? I just want table time to be a time we come together to be somewhat civilized. And I think teaching my kids this is giving them a great gift, even if they don't see it as one right now.

Ryan understands and obeys most of the rules. He eats pretty well and always finishes. He almost always agrees to at least try one bite of whatever is on his plate. But I can't get that kid to stop masturbating at the table. I understand wanting to combine two pleasures--eating and well, you know--but it's just not something I want him thinking is okay to do. I mean, in spite of the rule "The only places you're allowed to play with your penis is 1)in your OWN bed or 2) in the bathroom" I find him gearshifting on the couch while watching TV, in my bed when he wakes up in the morning, and as I mentioned, while eating. I don't want him to get a complex, so I tell him over and over that I KNOW it feels good and I don't have a problem with him doing it. Everyone plays with their private parts. But I ask him, "Do you see me or Papa playing with our parts while we're cooking? Driving? Doing laundry?... NO, you don't SEE us playing with our parts, because playing with one's parts is PRIVATE, only to be done when one is ALONE."

Lily's big problem is that she likes to stare out the window. I'm sure you've seen our view. It's gorgeous. The ancient Roman hillside, the old buildings mixed with the modern, the lush green (and now autumn-y) trees, the river below. It's beautiful, I'm the first to concur, but her staring is making us late for everything. She takes FOREVER to eat. The problem is that I usually end up getting sick of waiting for her and I end up feeding her! So, when I'm not sitting next to her, she doesn't eat (I also think this has something to do with not getting to be "the baby" for very long before Lolo came along). They've even said that they have a problem getting her to eat while she's at school. It's not the food. When she's hungry and NOT staring out the window, she eats like a champ and all by herself. But she's just sorta... lazy, I guess. I hate it, but i think that I'm going to have to stop feeding her and just freakin' usher her away from the table when it's time to get ready, whether or not she's finished. Sux, but that may be the only way to teach her to eat.

Lolo likes to stand or get down. She HATES sitting on her chair. I don't mind her being on her knees so she can reach her food, but the standing or the constant getting down and running around the table is a problem. The problem... is Sam. He either doesn't enforce the rules at all, or he just yells at her with a mean face. She doesn't believe him or just isn't scared of it. It makes for a cacophonous and miserable eating experience for the rest of us. The GOOD thing about Lolo's table habits is that she has a nearly insatiable appetite. And she LOVES "French" food. She's a big bread eater. Cheese (even the stinkiest... she keeps saying "encore!"). Yogurt. She just keeps on eating.

Even if I feel like every meal is "school" around here, it seems to pay off, for the most part. Whenever we go to other people's houses to eat, they seem relatively well-behaved at the table. Always asking if they can be excused. Always oohing and ahhing over the food. Always finishing their plates and drinking their waters. That makes me happy and proud and it seems to impress the French (and I admit, I sorta care).

Okay, look, all the above paragraphs seem very blah to me. WHO CARES? Why am I even WRITING about it? *eye roll* I don't even know. I'd love to write about all the quirky things I see on the way to and from the kids' school, about interesting exchanges with teachers, vendors at the bakery, cashiers at the grocery store... and I do have things to say... they're all just trapped in my head right now.

Here's the deal. *sigh* I wasn't going to say anything because I don't wanna have to write the dreaded retraction later, but I can't keep babbling on like this, letting you think I'm in my right mind when really, fairly, I'm not.

I'm pregnant. There you go. I'm a few weeks pregnant, I'm ecstatically excited (even if I didn't get down to a size 7 before it happened... um... not even a size 14 *cringe*). I'd be lying if I said I was scared because I'm not. I feel pretty pregnant and I don't feel imminent doom like I did from the beginning last time. I would have told you the DAY I found out (October 6) but, I wanted to spare YOU the possibility of having to read another one of those posts where a few days or weeks later, I tell you I've miscarried. And then you'd have to feel all sad and uncomfortable and whatnot. Blah blah blah. Truth is, now that almost a week has passed, I'm not really afraid of miscarrying. Go figure. I feel pretty secure about this pregnancy. However, if I DO end up miscarrying, PLEASE don't feel like you have to do the pity stuff. I'll just tell you and we'll move on, okay?

On that note, I'm gonna go get lunch ready. I'll TRY to pop back in here when I actually have something INTERESTING to say.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Literary Laxative

I'm blocked. Here's the problem. I have the memories of things that happened long ago. The reality in my head. A tome of images and conversations and emotions. But when I go to write them down, I get lost in the crafting. You see, when I TELL these stories, they coem out kinda funny in a dark and sad way. I TELL stories the way both A. Burroughs and Mary Karr WRITES them. With humor and eloquence and animated gestures. When I go to write the stories down, they change. This is why I feel justified in saying, "I'm not a writer." I'm not. If I were, then I could get these freakin' stories down on the page in essentially the same way as I do when I tell them verbally. You would be horrified and laughing your ass off at the same time reading them. Instead, the reader FEELS the weight of the story. The importance I've given it. There's so much PRESSURE.

That's part of the problem. Another part is detail. Every day, every hour of my pregnancy was important in forming what happened in the end.... to me. But not every reader wants to know the long detailed story about me meeting a guy on a Greyhound bus and making out with him because he told me that I looked like a model. UNLESS I write it in a way that horrifies and makes you laugh. The hard part about doing THAT is that I have to ADMIT what a dumbass blonde I was back then. And I don't even really have any problem with that. Not really. I guess I'm just having a hard time putting into REAL and accurate WORDS just how much of a dumbass blonde I was. Or, I'm having a hard time doing it while horrifying you and making you laugh at the same time.

THEN there's the problem of TIME. For one, this story happened 15 years ago. Though the images are still clear in my head, though I remember nearly every conversation word for word, when I go to write things down, I have a VERY hard time not infusing my present into the past. BUT, according to the AMD/JMC (aka the agent), I need the book to read as if it happened not so long ago. So, I have to do BOTH. TRY to tell the story as I know it happened, without trying to turn the Joelie that stars in it into the Joelie who's writing it (vice versa?), WHILE AT THE SAME TIME making the reader feel it just happened. I ABSOLUTELY see the value in this. And THIS is the finished product that I've always wanted... Memoir that reads like fiction. Where the details are real and accurate but alive. But..... I'M NOT A WRITER!!!!!!

I'm a storyteller. I'm a chick with a bunch of fucked up stories to tell. Stories that could help people. Stories that need to be told, simply because I survived them fairly unscathed.

When this story, the story of my pregnancy, happens, I'm a dumbass blonde. I'm weak, naive, desperate, lonely, lost and well, stupid. I really was all of those things. But in the writing, I can HEAR my dialogue becoming too sophisticated. Even my THINKING is more sophisticated than I know it was at the time. Okay, I know that some of this is inevitable, of course, without me traveling back into time and just interviewing my dumbass blonde past self. BUT, IF I make Then Joelie (TJ) THINK and ACT like Now Joelie (NJ), then the character in the book is not just naive and lost, she's just plain fuckin' crazy. Because no one in her right mind (and I do assume here that I am currently in a state of somewhat "right mindedness") would have made the mistakes and bad decisions that TJ did. I would NOT make those same mistakes and bad decisions today... But the WHY of that is because.... ding ding ding... I ALREADY MADE THOSE MISTAKES (well, TJ did).


Another problem is that I feel rushed. I have put pressure on myself to finish this thing by a certain date because for some reason I feel some urgency. Like, I have to get it out on paper and the way I want it before I die. Or if I wait too long, the agent will forget about me. Or if I wait too long, the subject will no longer seem timely OR Heaven for-fuckin'-bid someone else write a similar story (and probably BETTER than my OWN).

The other reason I feel rushed is that I have three full days in which I can actually write. So, on those three full days, I tell myself I had better get crackin'... Clock in, sit down, tap out the message onto the page, for crying out loud. But I don't. I feel so pressured and rushed that I don't do anything. I'm starting to see the book as "WORK." I know, it SHOULD be my work. I SHOULD be able to sit down and do it. I mean, that would make Sam feel better, probably. Make him take me more seriously as a writer. Make him see that I mean it when I say I want to get this book done. Problem is, because I'm thinking of it as work, it's becoming WORK to write. *sigh*

And to add to the wah wah wah, I have OTHER THINGS I want to do, believe it or not. I WANT to freakin' WORK OUT during the day while I have some child-free time. I've pretty much maintained my weight but I can feel my general "fitness" slipping. I also want to READ... I mean, have you noticed how long it took me to read my last book (granted, some of that had to do with the pace of the book itself)? I WANT to research for the farm--find local wheat, sugar, milk and meat sources so that we'll have a place to get those things while we get our own farm set up, etc.

I SHOULD schedule my day, shouldn't I? Write in the morning, work out in the afternoon, read in between household chores on Wednesday and in the evenings, research for the farm on Sundays. What do I end up doing? Nothing. Eating and playing on Facebook. Revising a paragraph or page here and there, but not doing anything than trimming the fat. I'm not BEEFING up the manuscript at all (to follow with the analogy).

Things are going to have to change if I want to "have it all," huh? I'm going to have to find some discipline somewhere (got any I can borrow?).

I'm hoping this trip will help. What? You don't know about the trip? Oh yeah, I haven't WRITTEN IN HERE IN OVER A WEEK, have I? LOL! Wellllll, because our real estate agent represents both us and the seller, she can not be our Power of Attorney (conflict of interest). So, one of us has to fly over there for the closing. Since Sam has to work, that "one of us" would obviously have to be...ME! *happy dance* And even though I could fly over there and take care of things over the weekend, I'm leaving a full week early and using the trip as a WRITER'S RETREAT (not that I'm a writer or anything, *wink*). I'm going to hole up in the hotel all day. I'm going to write WHENEVER I WANT. I'm going to work out at the hotel gym or the Y *gives Lisa puppy dog eyes for guest passes*... I'm going to swim in the hotel pool and sit in the hotel hot tub. I'm going to eat the hotel breakfast and partake of the nightly hotel cocktail hour. I'm going to have coffee here and there, lunch here and there and a dinner here and there with friends I didn't get to spend too much time with on my last trip. And then, I'm going to drive up to Lynchvegas and close on my new property. AND hopefull get a "green" sheetrock wall hung in the basement (to cover the one wall that is covered in insulation) before I leave to come back here. AND, no matter WHERE I am in the book, I'm going to PUT IT DOWN on Halloween night and start NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) at midnight.

*sigh* Okay. I feel better now. I know, I know, I haven't updated you on what's going on over here. About Lolo's birthday and how the kids are doing in school (cuz there IS stuff to say about that), etc. but I can't right now. I'm taking the day off to hang out with friends. To clear my head. To flush out all negativity. To just.... chillllll. Monday, I'm gonna start my new schedule. I'll keep you posted on it, yeah? I might come in here later today or tomorrow to catch y'all up on the Frenchness, but for now I'll say, taker easy.