Thursday, July 24, 2008

Little Lawyer

The other day Oldest and I were chatting about camp, school, life, High School Musical and other topics of great importance to a 9 year old. We were having a lovely chat when she looked at me seriously and told me, "Mommy, I don't want to grow up. I want to be little and stay with you and daddy forever." Now this is nothing new. She, and the other two have been saying this for a long time. But this time she was so very serious. And this time, she is nearly as tall as I am. I can tell she doesn't like the fact that she is getting so big and can't easily curl up on my lap. She looks with envy at youngest who is still small.

"I never want to be apart from you!" Oldest announces.

"Well you say that now, but you might change your mind when you grow up," I say.

"NO! I will never change my mind!" she shouts. "I don't want to get married! I don't want to have babies! I just want to stay with my family forever."

"Oh that's so sweet," I say. "I should put that in a contract and make you sign it! Also put in a clause that you will never put Mommy and Daddy in a nursing home!"

"What's a contract?" Oldest asks.

"It's a legal document and it just puts in writing an agreement between people," I explain.

"But why would you need a contract?" Oldest asks suspiciously.

"Well I'd put it in your memory box to remind you of what you said. Cause people change their minds as they grow older."

"Well I said I wouldn't change my mind!"

"I know, hon, but you never know..."

"And what's a nursing home?" she asks.

"Don't worry about that sweetie, just agree that you will never put Mommy and Daddy in one and everything will be just fine."

"Well, a contract sounds like a good idea, but maybe you should also put in stuff about how much allowance I get and what my chores are and what the other girls chores are, you know?" Oldest asks.

"Uh huh," I mutter.

"I mean I should get more allowance as I get older, right? And when can I get my own phone? And when am I allowed to wear makeup? And what about Angus and Youngest? Don't they have to sign too? And I think you should put in that they are not allowed to play with my stuff unless they have my permission..."

"Ha Ha, I was just joking about the contract?" I cut her off. "Ha ha! Big joke! Forget I said anything. Just go play."

Later on I hear the three girls playing together when suddenly I hear Angus yell out, "What do you mean I have to give you my pokemon cards if I touch your stuff without your permission! I'm not signing that!"

Uh oh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh Writer Where Art Thou?

One of my favorite movies is "O Brother Where Art Thou?" by the Coen Brothers. It is based on Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, but is set in the deep south during the the Great Depression. The reason I bring it up is related to my manuscript but first let me give you the set up. For those of you who have never seen it, in the movie, George Clooney (Everett), John Turturro (Pete), and Tim Blake Nelson (Delmar) play escaped prisoners who are out to retrieve a hidden treasure. Along the way, 3 beautiful women (sirens) singing and washing their laundry by the river's edge, seduce the 3 men with liquor. When Everett and Delmar wake up, they find Pete is gone, and all that is left is his clothes and a large toad within them. So here is the scene from the movie:

So I am reviewing all the comments that Da Man has given me on my manuscript, most of which are incredibly helpful and wonderful catches. Towards the latter half of my story, the hero and his group discover a beautiful spot where heavenly maidens bathe and frolic by jade green pools deep in a mountain valley and the maidens inform my MC of the treasure he must find. On the paragraph after this scene Da Man had written the comment "We thought you was a toad!" I just about bust a gut laughing. It reminded me of how well he knows me that he knew I would find that hysterical. But it also reminded me of how many references and nods to other books can be found in most people's writings. While I don't think my book is completely derivative, it cannot help but have similarities with so many quest based novels.

If you look at Harry Potter or even the Chronicles of Narnia, you can see alot of concepts that are similar to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and look how successful these books have been. Eragon has been criticized as having the same plotline as Star Wars but told through the same world of the LOTR. And yet Hollywood even made a movie based on it (not a good movie, but still). Similarities occur everywhere, and what might be derivative to one reader may be fresh and new to another. For example, older readers criticized Eragon for being a hodge-podge of stolen plotlines and concepts from better novels. Yet young readers were opened to a new world of fantasy they had never seen before. And surely the success of the trilogy, speaks for itself.

If someone were to make a similar comparison to my novel, they might call it an Asian based LOTR. But would this be an accurate analysis of my book? I would hope not. I would hope that my creative East Asian mythlore take on the old "quest" devise would give it a completely new spin. I would hope my execution is what will keep it interesting and fresh and so very different from Tolkien's world. And yet to have your work compared to Tolkien would be an ultimate compliment. One that could bring a similarly themed book to a new audience.

But at the end of the day, it is hard to know what interpretations a reader will bring to your book. I would never have thought my YA Asian historical novel would raise similarities to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" but that is the correlation Da Man saw. Was it a good thing or bad thing? I'm not sure. But I can only hope, that when the last page is turned, and the book is finally put down, that whatever interpretations were made added to the reader's enjoyment of the book.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 12

Da Man was in a particularly foul mood the other day and yelling at the kids for any perceived disrespect. In fact, he even went so far as to ban them from playing with their barbie dolls. This I did not understand. Ban TV, ban computer and all other electronic devices, ok - I get it. But to ban creative free play with their dolls and dollhouses? I'm not sure I would agree. So I had 3 mopey girls sitting on the couch next to me commenting on their daddy's bad mood.

Oldest - Boy is he cranky.

Youngest - No he is really really angry.

Angus - He's Crangery!

Oldest - Crangery? That sounds like a drink! A yummy drink!

Angus - NO! It's a Daddy drink. And it tastes really really sour and you make a sour angry face. (Angus makes said face. They all begin to giggle madly.)

Oldest- No when you drink it, it tastes real bad like horrible medicine and makes you want to throw up.

Youngest - No it tastes like throw up!

Angus - No it tastes like diarrhea!

The conversation has now been reduced, as usual, to disgusting bodily functions.

Me - That's enough! Stop with all that disgusting potty talk! I mean it.

Quiet for a few minutes, then the whispering begins.

Youngest - Mommy is crangery too.

Oldest - No that's a Daddy word, we have to find a new word for Mommy.

Angus (starts giggling) - She looks real mad and she's definitely cranky. She's Manky!

All 3 burst out laughing and start chanting "Manky Mommy! Manky Mommy!"

You know, I think I would rather be called Crangery. Manky sounds vaguely obscene.

In other news, Da Man is definitely in my good lists again as he managed to finish reading my manuscript in less than a week, a new reading record for him. To top it off, he gave me probably one of the best compliments I have ever received. He said that when he finished it he felt the same mixed emotion of regret and anticipation he had after watching the first of the Lord of the Rings movies. Regret that it was finished and excited anticipation to know there would be two more coming. I was actually quite moved by his comment. It is hands down the nicest thing he has ever said to me. I am verklempt!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scaredy cat

Copyright by Yves Lorson via
I'm from a family with apparent supernatural psychic abilities. All my life I would hear my parents make comments about a certain place having bad spirits or disturbances in the spirit world, etc. Even my sister could apparently sense a ghostly presence in certain areas. Whenever I hear my parents and my sister talk about all these ghosts around us that they can sense, it would always freak me out. In fact, a shivery tingly goose bumpy flesh crawling feeling passes me whenever I even think of their connection to the spirit world. In fact, I have that terrible sensation even now as I type. shudder.

For some reason, like the gardening gene, this sixth sense ability completely passed me over. There has to be a really really strong presence for me to feel it. And it has happened only twice in my life. Once, I walked into a building where I literally felt such a horrible feeling of malevolent evil that it frightened me so badly I ran out of there. I never knew what it was about that place that was so bad, but I would not have been surprised to find out that something really bad happened there. The only other time I sensed something otherworldy was passing by Ground Zero a year after the towers collapsed. I became nearly overwhelmed with a swirl of emotions, the strongest of which was incredible sadness, but it also felt scared and angry and so very confusing. But other than these two instances, I never sense anything else. It is an extraordinary blessing for me for I am a horrendous scaredy cat. Oh yes, loud mouthed, obnoxious, opinionated me is a big pansy. I can't watch ghost movies anymore. The Ring scared me so bad I had nightmares for months. In fact a few weeks after I saw the Ring, Oldest, who was about 4 or 5 at the time, walked over to my side of the bed in the middle of the night. She had had a bad dream. Trouble was she had long straight dark brown hair which was hanging down in front of her face, just like the girl in The Ring. To top it off, she didn't say anything cause she was still sort of sleepy, and just stood by my bedside waiting for me to open my eyes (I am a light sleeper) and notice her standing there. Well I did wake and I did notice her and I did scream my head off, which frightened her so much that she ran screaming back to her room and burst into tears. The next day I took her to the hair salon and had her hair chopped short. Yes I am a big baby.

Growing up, my parents loved telling ghost stories from the old country. And for some reason, their ghost stories were a million times scarier than anything you can read in the horror section at Barnes and Nobles. Their stories were always about real people that had really horrible things happen to them for doing things their parents told them not to do. They didn't need to turn the lights off and shine a flashlight in their face. All they needed to do is start with "Once there was this person..." in that serious quiet way they had, and my hair would rise off my neck. My mom's stories always had a murdered child or girl in them while my dad's stories were famous for the unexpected scary ending. My dad is the king of the long drawn out dramatic pause. He could really drag out the tension and suspense in a story with his dramatic pauses. Only problem was sometimes the pause started as a pause but ended as a memory lapse, at which point the suspense would be ruined. One time, in the midst of telling the dramatic conclusion to a particularly horrific ghost story, he fell asleep. I didn't realize he had fallen asleep because I had my eyes closed in fear. I only opened my eyes when he started snoring. I got real mad and poked him. He couldn't remember the end of the story. Til this day, I don't know what happened to the girl trapped in the closet with the decapitated body of her murdered boyfriend and the blood hungry forms of her now dead friends pawing at the splintering door.

But the thing is, what made their stories even scarier was when they would end a freaky story with a personal anecdote about how they were reminded of that story because on their way home that day they passed by some spot where they were opportuned by the murdered spirit of a child seeking its mother, or they felt the malevolent presence of evil spirits seeking to do harm. One time, my mother told me that there was an evil spirit of a child murderer lurking in the mailbox at the corner of our street. For a year, I walked all the way around the block to avoid that mailbox. One night my dad thought it would be funny to tell me that a ghost lived in floor of the hallway leading to the bathroom and that sometimes in its desperate attempts to take form, it would tickle his feet as he walked past. During the day, I would try my best to tiptoe across that floor, pulling a spiderman and nearly climbing the walls whenever I inadvertently stepped on a creaky floorboard. But at night, I would risk peeing my bed not to have to walk to the bathroom. I secretly think that they would do this to me and run behind their bedroom door and laugh their asses off at me. I was a difficult kid, always getting in trouble, always in the principal's office. This was their way of getting back at me. Sickos.

So when I had Oldest, Da Man and I had moved into a larger 2 bedroom apartment in a brand new building down the street from our old building. The new place was built on a site that had an abandoned warehouse. We'd been living in the apartment happily for several months when my parents came down to visit and stay in the baby's room with Oldest. Next morning, my Dad came out and complained that he didn't get any sleep. The moaning and groaning of disturbed spirits had kept him awake all night. My Mom announced that something terrible happened at this site. All of a sudden, I get a tingly disturbed feeling along with inadvertent shudders and wonder why it is I didn't sense this before we moved in and made this terrible mistake. A month later, my sister came to stay for the summer and began to tell me similarly, how there were lots of sad, bad and angry spirits at our location. That tingly feeling became a full firehouse alarm and I began to campaign strongly for us to move to a new house. A year later, we finally moved into our current residence. But before bidding on the house, I compelled my sister to come and walkthrough the house with me. Only after she proclaimed that she could sense no spirits anywhere, did I agree to buy the house. We've been living here happily for seven years now. And I have no intention of ever moving out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why your husband should not be your beta reader

Da Man is one of my beta readers because he demands to be one. He used to be a law review editor in law school so he thinks it makes him an editing genius. I was not too keen to hand it over. After all, it took him 6 months to read my first manuscript. Yes, 6 months. When someone you respect takes a long time to read something you wrote, you feel as if you are imposing upon them and that your work is really crappy because they can't make themselves read it. And unlike my beta readers, who I know have busy, hectic lives and I am just grateful for any time that they can devote to reading my work, I can see just exactly what my husband does in his free time. Like endless hours watching cheesy late night cable shows, going fishing, playing soccer, playing basketball, lifting weights, surfing the internet for I don't want to know, going to Sports Authority, talking on the phone way too long, sleeping on the sofa, picking his nose and scratching his ass. But mostly he watches way too much TV. He watches TV so much I think an antenna should start growing out of the top of his head. And everytime I see him watching TV, I think, WHY ISN'T THAT BASTARD READING MY BOOK?!!!!! Yes, it took him 6 months to read my first manuscript. But it was also 100,000 words long. At least this time, my new manuscript is only 52,000 words. Maybe this time he might be a little faster? I was unsure.

But he said he wanted to read it and I really do value his opinion so I gave it over to him, with the caveat that he needed to make it a priority and read it sooner than later. He printed it out and told me he would bring it to the beach and read it over vaca. After all, there would be plenty of downtime at the beach to read. I was hopeful. Well, we got to the beach and LO AND BEHOLD, he forgot his copy of my manuscript at home. Hmmmmm. Mortified and seeing the steam rising from my ears, the thinning of my lips and the reddening of my face, he promised me that as soon as we got home Friday night, he would devote the weekend to reading it. Yes I was disappointed and sad about it. But he promised, again, and I was sure he wouldn't break another promise.

Friday, we spent the whole ride not talking to each other because he is an ASS and got mad over something so trivial that I am too embarrassed to even write about it. he sulked for 3 hours straight, dropped us all off and drove off to sulk some more. He then spent the night watching stupid MTV shows all night long and not once cracking open my manuscript. Saturday night, after noting my Botox-like expression, he picked up the manuscript at 1:30AM and tried to read it. He got about 7 pages in before he crashed for the night. Sunday, he slept til 12, lumped around all day and didn't even try to crack the manuscript open. Monday, I thought for sure he would take it with him to read on the metro ride back and forth from work. But no. It lay abandoned and forlorn, next to the sad little pile of blankets on the floor he must now sleep on. Part of me feels brokenhearted that he has so little care for my creation. Had the roles been reversed, I would stay up all night to read whatever he had written. But he would rather watch Cribs or endless hours of boring fishing shows. Yes, I am a little hurt.

Last night, as he slept, I watched him, oh great love of my life. He likes to sleep with his arm raised over his head, a position of such peaceful repose. I looked down on him, sprawled out on the floor, and think to myself, I'd like to wax his armpits and show him what true pain is all about. His armpit hair is nice and long too. It would really catch the hot wax well. The amount of pain would be excruciating. I tingle with anticipation of his horrendous scream of agony. But wait, is waxing his armpit torturous enough? Who would even know of his shame? Perhaps an eyebrow instead? That may be just as excruciating, but adds the element of humiliation. Yes, his left eyebrow, cause he likes to sleep on his right side. I'll do it from behind, so I can race out of hitting range. Maybe that'll teach him to break another promise.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Over at Jason's

Hey everyone, I've got an entry up at Jason's for his latest contest. Please pop by and take a look. As usual, his contests always gets the best entries. It's always a blast to read them all. Mine is called Speed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Back to Normality - I hope

Beautiful Beach copyright by Esther** via

We just got back from the beach. But not the beach above. That would have entailed flying. No, instead we drove to a local beach in Delaware where the brown muddy waters are about as inviting as an ice bath in a blizzard and the crowds of people with their blankets and chairs encroaching upon your space could have made Mother Theresa a sinner. But it was the beach, and it was for the kids.

We debated whether or not to go at all due to Youngest's walking pneumonia. But Oldest was finally getting better and Angus had been all cured a week earlier and they would have been crushed if we had cancelled. So we went back to the doctor and got his professional opinion. He said we could go provided we monitor her progress and watch out for any problems with her breathing. What he failed to mention was that the disease turned our normally even tempered, happy-go-lucky, sweet 4 year old into a nasty, angry, whiny, screaming, irritating, demanding, foul horrid monster. Everyday there would be a minimum of two horrendous temper tantrums lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour. Where she would scream, howl, rant and rave like a madman for some perceived offense, like asking her to pee before leaving for the beach. Unfortunately my husband is as stubbornly pigheaded to get his way and when Da Man and Youngest would go head to head, the rest of us all suffered, including our family friends who came on vacation with us. The only good news about her ugly temper tantrums was that the doctor had asked me to make sure she would do lots of deep breathing exercises to work her lungs and keep them from collapsing. All her shrieking and screaming gave her all the deep breathing she needed for the week.

In an interesting bit of karmic energy, on our last day at the beach, Youngest had a singularly bad meltdown right on the beach. A friend of the girls had accidentally kicked sand in Youngest's face and had gotten in her eye. No amount of consoling and bribing would settle her and she refused to leave the beach, instead proceeding to shriek bloody murder about her eye. For nearly an hour after finally shutting up, she would continue to whine, sulk, brood and be particularly nasty to her family and friends. She finally fell asleep for a nap under the umbrella and me and Da Man sat on chairs right behind her, revelling in the semi-quiet.

The waves had been acting up, forcing us to move our blankets back earlier, but we were definitely on high ground and in a spot that the waves couldn't get us. Our blankets were at the top of a high incline safe from the waters. That is, until a huge monster wave built up in the sea, racing for the shore, at a good five feet height over the heads of those standing waist high in the waters. Angus had gone inside with my friend so I looked to see where Oldest and my friend's son were. They were standing halfway between where the water was supposed to stop and our blankets. The wave when it hit them, came up to their armpits and thundered by up the incline and onto the blankets where Youngest was sleeping. The split second that I realized the wave was coming at us, I had jumped out of my seat, reaching for Youngest, but I was a second too late and the wave rushed over her. The scream she emitted is one I will never forget and hope never to hear again. I could not have gotten to her faster, the wave was too fast for me. But I did grab her just as the wave hit so she didn't actually swallow any of it.

The monster wave reached nearly to the boardwalk, it was so big. The entire beach was filled with shocked people picking up the mess the waters had made of their stuff. Everyone's stuff got washed several feet away. It could have been worse. The undertow was pretty bad and could have swept Oldest and others into the sea, but it didn't. My cell phone got corroded and my camera got f**ked up, but my pictures were safe and my smartchip card was fine. No one can control Mother Nature. I'm just glad it wasn't worse. We were quite lucky.

Youngest is still a little cretin at least once a day, but we are hoping and praying that she snaps out of it as she gets completely cured. Otherwise, I will go completely mad. While we were at the beach, I had no wireless access and my laptop got screwed up trying to get the foreign wireless access so I am now working off my kids computer until my laptop gets fixed. Another headache I shall have to deal with. Sigh. But at least things, I hope, are starting to normalize. If not, don't be surprised to read a headline, Crazed Mother of 3 climbs Washington Monument with bare hands and suction cups singing "You are my sunshine" and flinging a variety of different snack foods and juice boxes at the crowd below.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nothing funny to say

After my last post, Youngest kept getting sicker. We kept going to the doctor but they couldn't figure out what was wrong. Meanwhile she kept getting sicker. Finally today, we found out she has a bad case of walking pneumonia, right before our annual beach trip. Oldest has also been diagnosed with beginning pnemuonia. Both are now on heavy duty meds. I've been surrounded by sick, whiny, crying children at home and sick, whiny, crying students at school. Hopefully now with medication, the girls will all get better. I really hope so. I haven't had a good nights sleep in weeks and this continuous cycle of sickness in the house has made me absolutely miserable.

So my inability to blog and visit my favorite blogs has now been explained. I have no idea how much longer I will be out of commission. But I can only hope and pray that Youngest and Oldest both get completely better soon so they are no longer so miserable.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Zombie Mommy

It started with Angus. I shall blame her. She came home from the last day of school with a cough and fever which came and went for a week before I finally took her into the doctor and found out she had walking pneumonia. Feeling like a terrible Mom, I immediately bought her a toy to try and cheer her up. Now she keeps whining that she is still sick and requires more toys to make her feel better. Bad Mommy.

4 days later, just as the medication has begun to make Angus feel a little more like herself (so that I can finally yell at her that I am not buying anymore toys for her, and that's final!), I have to rush Dumb Man to the emergency room with a badly sprained ankle and hamstring injury from playing soccer. He comes home in a cast and crutches and a bad attitude. Instead of feeling sympathetic and sorry for his injury, I feel very sorry for myself who now has to deal with another whiny injured baby in the house. Put upon Mommy.

5 days later after lots of cranky, whiny Dumb Man behavior and having to drive his dumbassery back and forth into Washinton, DC and still make it to work myself, and take all the kids back and forth to camp, and grocery shop, and cook, and clean, and do never ending piles of laundry, Youngest comes down with a vicious case of the stomach flu. 48 hours of chronic barfdom (seriously the little thing lost lots of weight cause she was just puking up saliva and bile) with very little help from gimpy and I am beginning to look and smell like a zombie. Stinky Mommy.

4 days later, the earache Oldest has been steadily complaining about for over a week seems to be getting worse so I take Oldest to the doctor. I've been to the doctor more times in this two week period than in the entire year and it just so happens to be the cute, sexy in that smart geeky way, doctor that I totally have a crush on, except I look and smell like crap and am at the point of just not caring anymore. Cute doctor tells me Oldest has a severe infection with a blood blister in her ear leaving me feeling terribly guilty and remorseful and so I immediately drag Oldest and Youngest to Target to buy them toys. Angus stays with her auntie and gets nothing. Rotten Mommy.

1 day later, I wake up with a horrible headache, aches, chills, fever and a terrible sore throat. And to top it off, my stomach is not feeling too hot causing me to run back and forth out of the bathroom and sweating like a ravenous fat man at an all you can eat buffet. Zombie Mommy.

The only good news from this whole ordeal is that:

1. I lost 4 pounds which I shall immediately put back on as soon as I feel well enough to eat an entire pan of brownies by myself.

2. I finished my YA manuscript. I was on a mission to finish and finish I did. Am making some revisions and getting ready to send it out to my beta readers. But the first installment of the Seven Kingdoms trilogy set in ancient Korea is done. WOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Now I shall go rest my weary little zombie head. I shall come visiting as soon as the urge to gnaw on my extremities passes me.

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