Monday, August 29, 2011

Guess Who's Back, Back Again


Okay, not exactly. I have a few more obsessive little polishes to do before I hand it in to my editor and then she’ll give me notes and I’ll get emotional and defensive about her notes and then I’ll whine around the house for a bit and actually do what she suggested, but THE BIGGEST PART OF ACTUALLY WRITING THE BOOK IS OVER!!!

Your first clue is that I’m here again. It’s pretty tragic when one of the ways I coaxed myself to finish the book was to promise myself I could write blogs once it was over. Perhaps some time this fall or winter someone will take me aside and quietly explain the concept of relaxation.

Because I’ll have the time to hear about it! BECAUSE THE BOOK IS DONE!!!

Except for the parts I have to do.

The summer passed in a haze, most of my time spent staring at this very screen. I understand the weather was wonderfully mild; when I came up for air this weekend, it was a bracing 612 degrees outside. I know I can’t complain about weather, what with Irene having been inappropriate with much of the East Coast (Consort looked up his childhood home and discovered it’s now lakeview property, the lake in question being Saw Mill River Road). But, honestly, it’s completely undelightful outside, the weather having that sullen, slightly dangerous vibe one associates with the teenagers who hang around gas stations, pointedly staring at you while you code in your ATM while they suck back on generic versions of Gatorade. I walked the dog this morning and by the time I got back everything was coated with a film of dust and gasoline, including my teeth.


Except for the parts I have to do.

If you kindly and generously offered to help and I didn't end up getting in touch with you, please accept my apologies. I could have done another entire book about the voices of homeschooling. It is as I suspected; the reasons people homeschool are interesting and varied. I hope I give this group the kindness and attention it deserves.

Every other living thing in the house had a nice summer. Well, Consort spent a lot of time on conference calls and I think several things in the house got upgraded in technical ways, but he did those things in shorts and he hummed a lot, so I have reason to believe he was content. The dog found a new place to sleep and seems nothing short of ecstatic about that. He also made a new dog friend in the neighborhood who is perfectly happy with being barked at, ignored, or mounted. I’d get involved, but they both seem consenting. Daughter had several kinds of camp, none of which were sleepover and none of which were proximal, so we spent a fair amount of time in shipping mode. The cars did not have good summers, but I stopped asking after their emotional state years ago, because they’re whiners. Daughter also, thanks to an inspired idea by my mother, was introduced to several classic musicals on DVD. She enjoyed most of them but fell exuberantly in love with “Oliver!” choosing to watch it multiple times. I’m pleased she’s pleased without ever needing to hear “Where is Love?” ever again.


She also started making friendship bracelets. You can’t see them, but it’s safe to assume my wrists are very colorful right now. I’d feel very friended, very popular, but it’s more accurate to say that she’s making them at such a clip right now that I’m just the easiest place to offload them. Once you’ve given one to every single friend in your life and you’ve made three more in one evening, you look at your mother and think, “Eh, why not.”

The cats ate at least one beetle each this summer so they’re totally content with how the season worked out. They also kept up a rigorous schedule of staring at a blank wall, then tearing around the house and screaming and then sleeping or, as the professionals call it, cross-training.

Speaking of cross-training, Consort and I finally watched all five seasons of “Friday Night Lights.” Trust me to be the last person to get to anything, but one episode a night was absolutely glorious, a total respite from thinking about homeschooling or book-writing about homeschooling. It was a soap in the best possible way and I was sorry to see them leave—I mean, I was sorry to see the show end. I still think Matt Saracen is real, though. And I’m worried about Luke.

The rabbit hates heat and indicates that by sitting places shady and glaring at the sky. The death-nap, however, is sacrosanct, and there is no mid-day so hot Dr. Bunstein won’t flop on his back, roll one eye back in his head and give me the creeps.

The book is due to the editor on September 1st; Daughter’s online classes began August 22nd. This means that we never had time off this summer, someone was always working. And while I can’t say it was the most exciting summer of our lives, and will never be in the top-five relaxing summers of Daughter’s childhood, we came through it all right. I have a smiling, singing child and a ton of bracelets to show for it.


Except, of course, for the parts I have to do.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Everything About It Is Appealing

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Something Stupid

You know how you download something and the first 97% downloads in four seconds and the last 3% takes so long you bequeath the download in your will? That’s what writing this book is like. In the book’s defense, it might be going faster if I didn’t keep doing this:

“I need to confirm that statistic. Let me just grab it online at this beneficial but dreary website. Let me just take a little break after doing such creditable and mature work. Where to go, what to do...oh, look! Internet cats!”

So many cats. The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee alone can hang its head in shame for the all-nighters I’m going to have to pull to catch up.

But this is not why I’m writing this blog. I’m writing to avoid writing. Some day, a sympathetic mental-health professional and I will look at this together, but right now I’ll tell you about my friend Veronica and how she and I discovered what I suspect might be a Great Truth:

All men have one awful t-shirt.

Veronica’s husband Jack works on sitcoms as an Assistant Director. Ergo, he has a wardrobe which would be the envy of any eighth-grade boy, consisting mostly of cargo shorts, t-shirts and cheap tennis shoes. Recently, one of his friends on the set grew extremely tired of Jack’s look and insisted she was taking Jack for a makeover. Within four hours, she made him buy flat-front khakis, lose the old-man jeans and purchase shoes from someplace besides Costco. I commended Veronica on having the kind of self-esteem where she’d let her husband shop with another woman and she snorted, “Are you kidding? I gave her a gift card to PF Chang’s for getting him out of those clothes. He certainly wasn’t going to do it on his own. She was firm with him.”

I sighed, “Could you send her over?”

For the most part, I wouldn’t feel the need to send Consort off with a female friend to get upgraded. There is one item, however. It’s a green t-shirt with an image of a smiling man holding up a mug of steaming something. The logo reads...

"How about a nice cup of shut the f*ck up?"

Isn’t that lovely? Aren’t you jealous that isn’t in your closet? Consort is so close to perfect in so many ways, and the frat-tendencies in him are barely perceptible but he owns that t-shirt and he thinks that t-shirt is funny. After years of wincing every time I stumbled across it in the dryer, after countless tiny-dramas when the t-shirt “accidentally” ended up in the trash can, only to be saved at the last minute by Consort who’d surmise my sudden good mood had something to do with waste disposal, we’ve come to an agreement. He may wear the t-shirt around the house when doing something smelly, something likely to leave a stain of some kind on the t-shirt which would thereafter render it unwearable. He may not leave the house in that t-shirt, not even to go to Home Deport where, yes, he’d be likely to find other men who thought that t-shirt was a hoot, but where there might be families with corruptible small children.

Speaking of small children, this t-shirt led to my having to explain to Daughter that the First Amendment meant her father could wear that saying in the house but it didn’t mean she had the right to use it in the house.

I loathe that t-shirt.

I’d pay good money for some young woman to look deeply into his eyes and say, “Oh, no” as she doused it with lighter fluid and briefly warmed the backyard. All of this, I told Veronica, who sighed sympathetically.

“When we got married,” she said, “Jack had a Chachi—you know, “Happy Days” Chachi?—t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. He loved that thing. It took me eight years to get rid of it. He also had a Gumby t-shirt I had to hide because he kept trying to wear it with cut-off jean shorts. I tell you, I had my work cut out for me.”

Readers, this is where you come in. Jack and Consort are different men, raised in different states, great guys each in their own way but very dissimilar people. And yet each has, at one point, owned and irrationally loved a stupid t-shirt.

The question is, if you are a man, do you have a stupid t-shirt?

Do you know it’s a stupid t-shirt?

Do you care that the significant other in your life flinches when you pull it out, or is that part of the pleasure?

Do gay men have stupid t-shirts? I know there are gay men who aren't fixated on fashion but isn't one of the basic requirements of male homosexuality that you don't wear stupid t-shirts?

Do women have stupid t-shirts? Are the loved ones in their lives arranging to spill bleach on them?

Women, have you ever loved someone a little less because of a stupid t-shirt?

To what lengths have you gone to get a stupid t-shirt out of your life?

And to everyone: What’s the worst stupid t-shirt you’ve ever seen?

(Please don’t let it be “How about a nice cup of shut the f*ck up?”)

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Summer I Might Have Drowned

(Waving "Hi!" at everyone)

As of today, I have exactly one month in which to finish my book and hand it in. Between the book and driving Daughter to all the places she's attending camps so I can finish said book, I've been a little busy,

But know that you're on my mind and I eagerly await writing for sport again.

The pets send their regards.