Tuesday, June 24, 2008

First Rule of Fight Club...

The hubby and I put up our pool for the summer a couple of weeks ago, and in that time, I have acquired the unenviable position of "Neighborhood's Coolest Mom".


Sunny or overcast, doesn't matter. I now have kids coming to my door in droves asking if they can come swimming with Ethan. I suppose I should be pleased that he has someone close to do fun things with. He's always been the odd kid out on our block, and because I may be a TAD on the overprotective side, it's probably my fault. Unlike many of the other neighborhood moms, I won't let him ride his bike, walk to a friend's house, or play in the street if I'm not there with him. He's only five, and even though this is a nice, family friendly neighborhood with fairly little traffic, this world is full of frickin' crazies.

Case in point: my neighbor across the street has just revealed that his new hobby is...

*wait for it*


Now, to really grasp why I find this utterly hilarious, you'd have to know him. He strongly reminds me of Michael Scott from "The Office"--bumbling idiotic blowhard with zero social skills and even less self-awareness. Even so, I kinda like the guy.

It's his wife who scares the bejeezus out of me.

If he'd told me SHE had taken up cage fighting, I wouldn't even have batted an eye. Her job as a principal of an alternative high school for lawless rapscallions and nefarious ne'er-do-wells suits her to perfection. She wears such a sour expression on her face, it wouldn't surprise me if even her vagina comes outfitted with a steel trap.

Actually, that would explain an awful lot.

So, imagine my surprise when Ethan asked if their kids could come swimming at our house, and he was told no because, as their daughter said, "Dad isn't sure about you guys."

Isn't sure...


Correct me if I'm wrong, but did I just get dissed by a brow-beaten cage fighting pantywaist?

Strange times, man. Strange times.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Who's Driving Anyway?!

Yesterday, Father's Day, we spent a good portion of the time on the road. Since it was to be my husband's special day, I did the driving, even though he is the worst passenger in the history of locomotion. Not that I could tell him that. No, as I've mentioned, it was his special day...


Thankfully, today is a new day, and I have a blog.

So, for your benefit, dear husband, here are all the responses I so graciously refrained from making yesterday. Feel free to refer back to this list anytime you require my response in the future, and my one-finger salute does not adequately convey my sentiments to your liking:

"The speed limit is 60 through here."
Thank you, talking highway sign. As if your HUGE numbers weren't clear enough, you offer the added benefit of verbal confirmation. That must come in handy for all those sight-impaired drivers on the road. Kudos to you for being so darned progressive!

"There's a cop. Slow down."
Sure thing, because slowing down from 40 in a 40 mph zone to, say, 32 doesn't look the least bit suspicious, and would in no way draw his attention. Well, except maybe for that long line of irate drivers behind me whom I have effectively impeded. When he pulls me over, I'll let you do the talking.

"Watch out for that guy on the bike."
Oh, thank goodness you were here. I was about to make him the latest addition to my ever-expanding "Cyclists of the Pacific Northwest" hood ornament collection. Had no idea there was anything wrong with that.

"Pass this guy, then get over in the other lane, and turn right...NOW! Aw, man, you missed it!"
Yes, I did. But what I didn't miss was that day in Physics class when my teacher explained the general theory that when two objects of considerable mass traveling at a certain velocity collide, they make a big BANG! I think it's called the Principle of Duh.

"Turn that way. Why are you turning this way?"
Well, my dear, when I asked you 60 seconds ago which way to turn and got no response, I decided to make an educated guess. Heck, the chances were 50/50 that you'd infer I'm a dumb ass anyway, and 100% that you won't be getting any of it for the rest of your natural born life.

Congratulations, jackass. You're a winner!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Never Spam a Writer

Dear Beloved,
What am I, a character in a bad Oprah movie? Just call me the Right Honorable Mrs. Avery A. Gray like everyone else. No, really, I insist.

Glory to God in heaven.
Trite, cliché. Nothing’s grabbing me here. Pull me in. Make me care.

My name is Mrs.Annen Joubert from South Africa. I am married to Mr. Abraham Benjamin Joubert, who is a farmer here in South Africa for many years before he died in 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child.
Okay, I’m gonna stop you right there. This is all riveting stuff—great human interest angle—but your tenses are all wrong. Are you currently married to a dead man? I’m not judging. Could be one hell of a hook.

He died after a briefillness that lasted for only four days.
Redundant. Don’t need to be beat over the head with his corpse. Unless the duration of the illness--I’m sorry, “briefillness”—is important to the plot, consider cutting this.

Before his death we were both born again Christians. Since his death I decided not to re-marry or geta child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited a total sum of $10. Million (Ten Million, U.S.Dollars) with bank in Europe.
Logic flow problem—why was he farming if he was a frickin’ millionaire? You lost me.

Presently, this money is still under the safe keeping of the Reserve Bank Recently, my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next Two months due to my cancer problems.
“Cancer problems”? Vague, Ann. Try to be as descriptive as possible. Paint me the terrifying picture with words like "oozing lesions", "fetid bedsores", or "HMO claims representative".

Though what disturbs me most ismy or better still a Christian individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in.
That disturbs me, too. Your syntax is atrocious.

I want a church or God fearing individual that will use this fund on, orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and give help to mankind.
Google “Christian charities” maybe? Weak plot device. Where are you going with this?

The Bible made usto understand that blessed is the hand that griveth.
“Griveth”? That’s not what my Bible says. Isn’t that like a cross between a lion and an eagle? No, wait, that’s a griffin.

I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are nota good Christians and I don't want my husband'shard earned money to be misused by unbelievers.
Whoa, red flag, Ann! You’re alienating a huge percentage of your potential readership. Consider changing “unbelievers” to “Koreans” or “Polacks”.

I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision.
What decision? Avoid foreshadowing.

I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord.Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall holdmy peace. I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health because of the presence of my husband's relatives around me always. I don't want them to know about this development.Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated here in
Well, since you’re spouting Scripture, might I suggest a gander at Leviticus 19:11-12.

With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I'll forward your personal information to the bank in Europe so that they will contact you as the legal owner of this fund before transferring the fund into your nominated Bank Account in your country.
Personal information? My name's Avery. I'm a Gemini. I like long moonlit walks on the beach and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Now where’s my money, beeyatch?

I will also issue you a letter of a authority that will empower you as the original-beneficiary of this fund. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shepherd.i will stop here becouse of my health Hoping to hear from you as soon as possible. Read Hebrews13:15v16 New Living Translation
Blah, blah, blah. Talking past the close.

Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.
You assume much.

Mrs.Annen Joubert.

This Story Needs More Cowbell


Or less cowbell.

Or it has just the right amount of cowbell, and I shouldn't change a thing.


As if my inner critic weren't demanding enough, I've kicked my own ass by asking for outside opinion from the two critique groups I belong to on the first chapter of my most recent work.

Although everyone thus far has loved the story overall, they've had mixed opinions about the elements that make it up.

More internal dialogue.

Less internal dialogue.

Just the right amount of internal dialogue.


Believe it or not, I view this as a positive thing. When I'm critiquing a story that really doesn't need much editing, I still feel compelled to point out any and every little thing I can possibly think to mention because I don't want the writer to feel cheated out of a proper review. If all I said was "Looks good," they'd think I didn't take it seriously.

I'm really hoping that's what's happening here, 'cause I've gone over that chapter so many times my eyes are crossing. And that is not a good look for me.

If you have a Critique Circle membership (and are not easily offended), you can find my chapter here. It will be in review until the 17th.

Just don't tell me it needs more cowbell. I find I'm plumb out.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Like the New Digs?

The beautiful, vivacious, and oh so clever Bee visited Chez Gray on Friday, and inspired me to change things up a bit. She even imparted to me the super secret location of an ultra clandestine website that features some awesome background images. (I'd tell you, but then she'd have to kill me.)

So, thanks for all your help, Bee! I sense a windfall of Starbucks in your future...

Unfortunately, since I've been pouring all my creative energy into my writing lately, I have nothing to post worthy of a grand unveiling of this magnitude. So, I'll be resorting to a musical guest.

Hey, I think Weezer's funny.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On Writing

Writing is hard.

(You can quote me on that.)

You'd think someone could have clued me in to that before I, you know, tried to, like, do it.

Oh, I'm not talking the physical act of putting pen to paper. I got that part down years ago. (I might even still remember how.)

And I'm not even talking about the commitment of energy and time--sometimes years--that go into crafting a story. If writing is a passion, these costs are negligible. (At least until the divorce papers are signed.)

No, the most difficult thing about writing is...dealing with other writers.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love writers. Heck, I can't seem to open my front door without tripping over some far better than I. (Or is it 'better than me'? I always get those confused.)

The writers I'm referring to are the ones who frequent critique boards and writers' forums and rant about words like "it".

"It" is passive.

"It" is non-specific.

"It" makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spork and pour salt in the festering wounds.

Yowza. Is "it" really so bad?

"It" seems to me like "it" has a fairly useful place in literary lexicon. After all, Dickens didn't say "12:45 was the best of times, 12:45 was the worst of times..."

Alas, new writers are often inundated with these types of opinions, and though many are helpful in terms of tightening prose (I'm lookin' at you, "that"!), there seems to be a widespread movement of word genocide taking place.

"And" is evil.

"There" is the devil.

"Was" is obscenely pornographic.

What's next? "The" boils rabbits alive?

I guess my point is, it's not those words alone that make a story unreadable. The world's worst writer can remove every evil, passive, non-specific, bunny-boiling word from their work, and it still wouldn't be worth the paper it's printed on. Conversely, a great one can write in nothing but adverbs, and still be praised for their genius.

At least, that's what I'm hoping. I really truly am.

Monday, June 2, 2008

You Caught Me

Clever Miss B. She let the cat out of the bag. I probably wouldn't even have mentioned anything, but you know it's bad luck to have an unbagged cat just wandering around your blog. So, yes, I'll admit it...

Yesterday was my birthday, and I am now officially on the after-30 downhill slide.


I was hoping maybe no one would notice. Maybe I could go on in Blogland being youthful and spry and thirty forever. But, no. Someone had to go and be resourceful.

Darn you, Burrows, and your well-organized flash cards o' personal information.

(Who does that, really? I mean seriously...)

Okay, I'm not mad. And I probably would have mentioned it anyhow, because I wanted to thank Dapoppins for watching Ethan for us Saturday night so we could go out to dinner and a movie (Iron Man, good). And my buddy Meghan, who doesn't blog, but reads mine and NEVER comments, for hand delivering some beautiful yellow hybrid lilies. And my husband, who, despite getting me nothing, refused to be one-upped by Meghan (not hard to one-up a big, fat goose egg, dear), hand picked one of my own roses off the trellis.

Aw, shucks. You shouldn't have. Really. But considering you spent $6,000 on my present last year, I'm gonna let it slide. Just this once.

Heck, at least it wasn't an alternator or something.

So, yes, I'm old now. Go ahead and let me have it. Just, uh, use caps lock, would ya? My eyesight ain't what it used to be.

You know, before yesterday and all.