1. How Fruit Bat turns into a horrific rendition of himself every week day at exactly 3:10 when he emerges from his small elementary school and into my waiting arms. And how that growling, thrashing alter ego of his lasts until he gets one hot dog, an allergen-free granola bar and some dried cranberries into his system. Then he is mostly okay.
2. How I'm about to get out the slow cooker again and am looking for decent recipes that do not involve cream-of-anything soup. Not that I am against cream-of-anything soup. I love it in all its forms (chicken, celery, asparagus and especially mushroom). But the dairy. It makes my hands itch. And it gives Fruit Bat some wicked hives. Not that he'd eat anything other than the foods listed above! And maybe some chicken nuggets. As long as they're not spicy. Oh, the spice. It is evil.
3. How I am capable of discussing things other than food allergies. Really!
4. How my Half Assed Kitchen blog is surpassing All Adither in traffic volume even though I treat All Adither like a fragile, gifted child whose hand I must hold while attending to Half Assed Kitchen in, well, a rather half assed fashion. The scrappy younger child who shrugs its shoulders and harumphs: Whatever. I'll take what I can get. I have no ads (which is FINE) or blogroll. But I am redesigning the banner. And am, in fact, planning an entire Half Assed empire (more polished and with a sister blog called Half Assed Home and better photography).
5. How a well-respected Seattle parenting publication has assigned me a story and, though I haven't done any reporting in a very long time, I'm excited and energized about getting out there and writing for print again.
6. How good hot tea tastes at 9:53 am PST.
7. How much I enjoyed the weekend. The sun! The husband who was around and who was helpful and sweet and who laughed so hard at Fruit Bat doing his 70s rocker arm wind up while Kitty Cat sang some unintelligible song that he almost cried (while I DID cry).
8. How you should go read these blogs because I think they're really good and because I've not done very well at promoting bloggers who I think deserve it (and because you're not on this list doesn't mean you don't deserve it. It means your turn is COMING).
Blogging is great. Blogging is fun. But blogging is not my Number One.
Fiction has always been my thing. (See my right sidebar in which I am a complete braggart.) Fiction has been my thang ever since Seventh Grade when Mr. Regentin heaped so much praise on my little stories and essays that I decided, Hey, I like when people say nice things about my words! I want to be a writer!
Though somehow, and it's still a bit of a mystery to me how this happened, once I graduated from Michigan State with a Journalism degree, I became a graphic designer.
So, except for lunch breaks at coffee shops where I would write furiously for one hour, my fiction took a backseat. A third row seat, in fact.
And then came marriage and kids and you all know what that can do to professional hopes and dreams. Fiction moved to the back of the bus.
Now, though, the kids are in school. And I have nine to twelve hours a week.
Sure, I spend a lot of that time vacuuming and folding laundry and hiding Hama beads so they don't get shoved up any nostrils. But I spend a good chunk of it typing away on my laptop too.
Stacy, from Mama-Om, has been critiquing me. She's amazing. She's pointed out places where my plot buckles and gapes. She's constructively suggested character tweaks that I never would've seen myself. All on her own time (which she does not have much of).
And I. I've been revising my ass off.
If something doesn't eventually come of this project I've been working on for almost 9 years, I will submerge myself in a bean bag chair and weep for several weeks on end. Or, more likely, I'll keep plugging away at short stories. Because I'm resilient like that. And I'm a little like an overeager, mouth-breathing teenage boy trying to feel up the publishing world.
I'm not sure I even know when to give up on this thing. I've been rejected by agents, but my reject letters seem to suggest that the manuscript is just a bit Off. And that it is fixable. And Good Golly, if it's fixable, I'm damn well going to do my best to fix it. Because...9 years.
My first chapter is over there in the sidebar.
Here's my second. If I don't at least get a blog post out of this tome of mine, then I don't care if we do eventually collide with Venus. Bring it on Milky Way!
The Goodness of Meredith Beam (which I'm considering renaming The Mating Habits of Fireflies)
Our boat drifts to
the perimeter of our willow harborage and branches graze our hair and click against
the outside of the hull. I reach over and pull in the anchor. Water streams
onto my feet and puddles beneath us.
says, “I’ve been smitten with you for quite a while.”
sounds so unlike a word he would choose that I laugh.
us into open water, he asks, “Do you want to go to the lake? Or back to ma’s?”
how much safer it will be out there surrounded by houses, docks and jet skis, I
say, “The lake.”
rows for a long time, until he sweats and starts muttering, “Fuckin’ oar.” We
switch places, the boat wobbling as we skirt each other, he holding my elbows
and me struggling to retain my footing.
take the handles, feeling strong and fresh. The boat is heavy with Brian’s
weight, but I row hard, throwing my body into every pull, burning off my sudden
carnal vivacity. I love the hollow clunk the oarlocks make as they rotate and
the small splashes as the paddles hit water. The lake, when we finally get
there, is an endless expanse compared to the narrow river. It is wide and
turquoise, rippling and gleaming. In the distance, small powerboats and,
indeed, jet skis scream back and forth.
of different sizes and stature edge the circumference, some set back with giant
lawns stretching down to the water and some stuck almost on the shore with
piers running up to the front doors. Most of the structures would be considered
cottages: square and single-story with screened porches. But the newer houses
are palatial multi-winged sprawls with massive skylights and great, curving
are small there, just a tiny aluminum speck lurching along under a sky so hot
it is full of frothy haze.
take a break, lifting the oars into the boat. I list over the rim, looking for
fish, but all I see is deep, dark green. All I hear is the slap of water
against our bow.
has leaned back on his hands. He says, “This is peace.”
do not feel peace. I exist inside mental pandemonium whose only saving grace is
that I am able to forget what is happening, or not, between Jay and me. Almost
forget there had once been lovely, little babies inside me, that my father is a
selfish ass and that a Martin Van Amber ever existed.
day before, Jay moved about Leola’s house with the precision of a soldier
gathering provisions for battle. He didn’t say much and when he did, it was
usually to ask where his tennis shoes or glasses were.
stalked around the house too, her hair in the pin curls I secured the night
before. She wore a sleeveless dress covered in shiny, beaded cabbage roses. She
looked glumly down at herself. “Is this okay?” she asked. Alternate outfits
dangled from her forearm. “What should I wear?”
I said, looking up from the Today show, which I had started watching only
because it was always on. “Anything, really. I’m sure people won’t be dressed
up.” I felt sorry for her. The rehab facility we decided on is in Standish,
Michigan—a tiny Lake Huron community. Not Betty Ford. Definitely nowhere she
would need fancy clothes.
went into our bedroom, where Jay was bent over at the waist, tying his shoes.
For the third time, I asked, “Do you want me to go?”
he said was, “I only slept two hours last night.”
sat on the bed. “Why only two hours?”
on his watch, Jay said, “Don’t know. I couldn’t shut off my mind.”
flopped back onto the mattress and looked up at the water-damaged ceiling:
brown spots puddled above the bed and near the window. I imagined the sheetrock
collapsing on us some night. I didn’t want to die in that house. “We’ll be so
much better once we’re out of here. I know it,” I said. “Once your mom gets the
drugs out of her system.”
shoved his wallet and keys in his pocket. The room smelled like his shaving
cream. He walked up to where I laid.
pushed up onto my elbows. “Bye,” I said.
Brian in line.”
won’t let him move from the couch,” I said and grinned.
flicker of a smile lit Jay’s face and he was gone.
I offer Brian food and we eat all of it–the pistachios and grapes and slices of
sourdough bread with chunks of cheddar cheese. We drink Cokes, the sun burning
our arms and tips of our noses, the current carrying us toward the lake’s
center. A ridge of dark clouds is forming to the west.
finally suggests we head back and I take up the oars and race the oncoming storm.
swap places again, at the mouth of the Old Crow. His strokes, after his rest,
are long and vigorous, the muscles of his forearms bulging under his skin, and
we move quickly, willows and houses whirring by.
we first feel rain, I think it is water sloshing up from the paddles. But then
it hits my scalp and shoulders. It drips randomly and slowly as Brian deposits
us to the grassy bank in front of his mother’s house.
scurry onto land, pulling the boat behind us. The rain is coming faster. I
gather the apple cores and empty cans into my arms and follow him, jogging, to
the basement door.
there is the WD-40 smell, the damp, the dusty boxes, goose bumps spreading down
my arms and legs, Brian tearing off his shirt, then his pants, reaching for me
and pulling me down to the concrete. I arch my back off the frigid floor.
“Wait,” I am saying. “Wait.”
lifts the upper half of his body and hovers over me. He says, “What?”
we just wait?”
rolls to the side like a stuntman diving over a burning barricade.
sits naked, elbows on his knees. His penis sticks straight out, halfway between
hard and flaccid. “What?” he asks again, his voice less alarmed and more
crawl to a dilapidated, box -laden recliner and perch on one skinny arm. My
mind has become a hollow basin around which I volley justifications. My husband
won’t so much as whisk against me as we sleep in the same small bed in Leola’s
house, where we’ve moved for the summer to help her break free of her
I want, really, is for Jay to stop me washing the dishes, or whatever I happen
to be doing, look me in the eyes and tell me he respects and appreciates me.
Then I want him to pull me to the bed (or the floor or the kitchen table) and
make love to me. Just for the fun of it.
it has come to this. Synapses in my brain spark and fray with guilt as the
phone starts ringing, purring through the walls.
cannot cheat on my husband, I think. I
am not that kind of person.
hard and steady, snaps over the concrete just outside the basement windows.
brother, who has still made no move to dress, says, “I hope we get lightning.”
I get all wigged out when I read stories about things that happen 300 or 2,000 light years away.
Perhaps I've watched too many episodes of Blues Clues or The Wiggles or some other intellect and soul sucking kids' show, but light years just do. not. compute.
Last night I came across a Reuters story about two Earth-sized planets that astronomers believe collided. They think this because they see massive amounts of dusty particles orbiting a sun-like star. Presumably, the dusty particles are what's left of "Earth" and "Venus".
The story ends with one astronomer asking, Could this happen in our solar system?
Let's hope the hell not.
First of all: Fudge. Novels. Coffee. First kisses and sunny days, warm breezes. And Hawaii.
I don't like the idea of all that going away. One bit.
The thing that sends me over the edge is the LIGHT YEARS.
Scientists are observing events that took 300 years to shoot through the universe and into our telescopes. That is, all the dusty particles they saw were floating around long before the US Constitution was written and ratified.
Surely, by now, another whole planet could've formed and sprouted new, intelligent life that knows how to make good soy lattes and creamy chocolate fudge.
Or maybe that is hoping for too much.
Pondering planet collision and light years makes me feel like a poodle chasing her tail around and around. So why do I try?
Why not just click over to Noggin while I wait for our solar system to explode?
See, you like me better when I talk eyeshadow and cat videos, don't you?