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ass over teakettle

If I look strange at the moment, with my elbow in the air this way, it's because I'm patting myself on the back after finally spending time working on the new and aforementioned writing project. Do I sound like a preschool teacher, cheering on a charge who finally made a pee-pee in the potty? Forgive me. I ought to have more stamina, gumption, oomph, wherewithal or whatever it is that lets other people write circles around me. (Actually, I know exactly what it's called: Discipline.) Oh well. Better writ small than not at all.

That reminds me that I used to be able to write in tiny yet legible print. I could write an entire letter in the space taken up by a postage stamp. I'm not sure I could do it now. My eyes are having some sort of midlife career crisis. They still don't know what they want to be when they grow up. Tonight, at my mother's apartment for Sunday dinner, Felony wanted to show my Mom a YouTube video of dogs who "talk" (because my Mom has been reminiscing about how our dog, Honey, who died in 1993, used to say "Mama" whenever we rounded a certain corner on the way to my grandmother's house in Florida).

But the computer's sound wouldn't work and after futzing around with it for a while, Felony discovered that the speakers weren't plugged in. Then we had to crawl down behind the computer and the computer stand, heavy with outdated equipment, looking for the "audio" symbol stamped into the rear panel of the CPU box--without so much as a daub of paint to help us interpret the topography. Every time I tried to focus on the icons, they changed. It was like working a kaleidoscope. There was one picture that looked like a time-release capsule and two more that appeared to be palm trees. We decided the first one was a microphone jack (I was impressed that Felony could interpret that image at all, since it looked more like a microphone used by Hedda Hopper than Hilary Duff). The others must have been intended to resemble a radio tower sending out radio waves, and thus indicative of "audio," but of course, you can stand under a radio tower and not hear a damn thing.

But yes, in the end, we got it working and my mother was able to hear the dogs, who seem to say things like "Hello" and "I love you." In our family, such an artifact is worth large quantities of warm and fuzzy feeling.

teacher

Did you ever see the movie Rat Race? Kind of a nutty movie, but I like it. Anyway, if you did see the movie, you might recall the part when Cuba Gooding, Jr. commandeers a tour bus by convincing the driver that he needs to borrow his uniform. The bus has been chartered by a group of Lucille Ball impersonators on their way to an "I Love Lucy" convention. Gooding's character is only trying to get from point A to point B, in an effort to win a million dollars, and the bus will get him there. Unfortunately, he drives it off the road after an airborne cow hits his windshield. The bus suffers a flat tire and Gooding is despondent. When the confab of ditzy Lucys tries to cheer him up, he blows his top, screaming, "I am not a bus driver!" and "You think I would wear these pants?!"

That's how I feel about my teaching job. I'm very, very grateful for the opportunity to drive the bus, but no, these are not my pants.

The kids in my classes deserve a much better teacher. However, that teacher is currently unavailable. So they get me, because I can distinguish between Keats and Shelley, and I can say "iambic pentameter" and "onomatopoeia" without making a face. (Well, OK, maybe not onomatopoeia, which begs to be parodied like the kids' camp joke punch line that goes, "Ah Wah, Tah Goo, Siam.")

It could be worse--oh, it could be much, much worse--but I'm sorry to say it could be better. And I care--I do care--but only up to a point. There is just one subject I am truly qualified to teach, and I have never yet had the opportunity to teach it, because everybody wants to teach creative writing. I don't even think to offer anymore.

a dead king and a birthday boy

By the way, I dispatched the Goblin King yesterday, and now I wear his crown. I never managed to distract him with my slutty costume and perfume, though. In the end, I just had to be strong enough to kill him.

My son was watching when I did it. Afterward, we high-fived each other until our palms stung.

Wednesday is Jinx’s birthday. He’ll be eight. Yesterday his Dad took him to the skate shop here in town and helped him buy his first real, custom-built skateboard. So far, he is thrilled and reverent. If they made molded storage cases for skateboards, he’d get one. (Maybe they actually do make such cases; if so, I’m unaware of it.)

He’s a fun kid to buy presents for because he figures out exactly what he wants, keeps it in his heart for months (or even years), and he doesn’t get distracted by piddly crap along the way. But this birthday gift he actually bought himself, with money he made from a modeling job. I didn’t arrange for the modeling gig, mind you. It came his way via the choir he’s in with his sisters.

I didn't go to the skate shop, though I took Jinx in the first time to get an idea of what would work best for him. Turns out I have an unpleasant connection to the shop's owner and I didn't want the owner to figure out who I am (if he hasn't already). It's something that happened a long time ago; I didn't do anything wrong, nor did he, but something terrible and traumatic happened back then and we were both there. It was horrible for me but twice as bad for him, I imagine. Anyway, I don't even know that he would react badly. I just didn't want to make either of us feel uncomfortable.

the goblin king

My son sits on the back of my chair and says, "Let me do it, Mom. I can beat him." There is no one like a child for implying that one is entirely incompetent.

I do everything they say I should do in the haikus: I wear my harem girl costume and perfume. I mooch the loveliest buffs I can get, I chew all manner of gum acquired south of the border,* I drink alcoholic beverages with funny names. I have ninety-five HP to my name. I am a level 7. I am not insignificant.

"Here is your ass," says the Goblin King. He is an angry little man. My feminine wiles are wasted on him; he cannot be distracted. In his presence, I feel like Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot.

I ask my son to tell me where he thinks I went wrong. It is not a gentle request; I am being facetious, sarcastic, snide. He knows I am not angry at him. He grins like the proverbial sheep (though, being a city girl, I have never seen a sheep grin).

Tomorrow I will have more adventures. I'll let my son try. He is a clever boy, age seven, not insignificant. Maybe his feminine wiles will outpace mine, and he will smite the Goblin King when I could not. We will change places; like Grendel's Mother, he will go to the mead hall and bring home my arm.

Maybe it is all an elaborate metaphor. It's really about the Eucharist! Should I buy goblin fruits from goblin men, smear their juices on my lips?

On the bed next to me, my daughter's regular breathing sounds like the sonar you hear in those submarine spy movies, or an underwater documentary.

* Whoa--just had a crazy flashback to a South Carolina tourist trap called South of the Border, which I loved as a kid but haven't thought of in at least a decade, maybe two; is it still there?

vegetative

I am trying to be my own best friend. I am adamant about not wanting to go back on Effexor, but there's no question that I'm depressed. The depression is situational; it makes sense. I try to work with it. I say, "Get more exercise, that helps," and it's true. And I refuse to overreact when I catch myself wondering whether a person who gets carbon monoxide poisoning will experience brain damage prior to dying. (In other words, if a suicide is interrupted, will the person survive unscathed or will she be vegetative?) Just because I think about something doesn't mean it's on my to-do list.

But. Friday was one of the worst days I've had. Yesterday and today, my spirits were more elevated but my thoughts were still very doom-and-gloomy. That means instead of wanting to die, exactly, I just want to disappear. I feel unequal to the task of rebuilding my life. My motto seems to be "I give up." When I do try to imagine my future, I get panicky. I don't know what to do about anything. I just keep trudging along. Que sera sera.

potboiling

Potboiler
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A potboiler is an artistic work (usually written) created for the sole purpose of making money quickly or to maintain a steady income for the artist, thus implying that artistic values were subordinate to saleability.

The word was derived from "to boil the pot": in other words, the author wrote the book to keep a pot of food boiling. (See pot boiler.)

One of the most famous potboilers is
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens[1], demonstrating that works written primarily for money are not always of subpar quality. ...

Yes, indeed, it is time to boil the proverbial pot, my darlings. If I can find a picture of the Great Man himself, I will put it up over my desk now. One must always think of Dickens at a time like this.

I begin with scaffolding. I need plot elements. If you have any spare plot elements lying around, please send them. You've heard of stone soup? I'm making plot soup, and I really need it to boil.

why I am not cool

It's not that I'm too old. Not exactly. It's that to be cool, or hip, or whatever the terminology is now, one must be edgy, and I'm not. Actually, that's not quite right. I am in many ways edgier than the edgy people, if you take into consideration the median distance strangers keep when they are obligated to sit near me. But I don't have a tattoo, piercing, self-mutilation scar, or niche sexual fetish. I don't have any bumper stickers on my car, angry or otherwise. I don't look edgy. I have freckles. I look like a fishwife.

Anyway, it matters not. I was just looking at someone else's web site, thinking about the differences between us. On the inside, maybe not so much. On the outside ... well, she's got the look. One time, a few years ago, I tried to cultivate a hipper look by getting my bangs cut short, like Bettie Page. Except instead of looking like a hipster, I ended up looking like a runaway from an adult daycare facility. It was as if the hairstylist accidentally snipped a hundred points off my IQ. That was about 14 inches ago now, and I am not eager to recreate the experience.

to chat or not to chat

I've never been one to hang out in chat rooms. But I'd rather do that than hang out in a bar all night. When my kids aren't with me I'm at loose ends. I'm too tired to work. Where do people go? Suggestions, advice, I'll take anything.

reptilian love

My son is asleep, and the cat is asleep next to him, and their hair is the same color in this light. I can't remember ever hearing anyone say cats are nocturnal, though all the evidence seems to point to it. Housecats seem never to be lumped together with bats and possums and barn owls. Of course, Rufus is sleeping now, but only because we make him tired, I suppose. To a cat, we are tiresome. That's rich.

I tried to feed him a tiny piece of cheese earlier and he wouldn't even smell it. The bastard. I wanted to say, "You know, most cats love cheese." I know that because they always have cheese-flavored cat food available in cans. (Not that I give him cheese-flavored canned cat food; I'm just making the point.) He acted as if I were trying to poison him. Oh, I know what you're thinking. She's just projecting her own insecurities onto the cat. She's just anthropomorphizing. Right. OK. Well, you weren't there, were you now?

Fine. I'm all wrong about the cat. Big surprise there. You want to hear anthropomorphizing, you should talk to my neighbor Clothilde. You can really learn a lot about what people (people such as Clothilde, anyway) think of you when they attempt to psychoanalyze your pets. Wait for the sentence that begins, "I think he's feeling lonely/stressed/anxious/afraid..." That's the one that will contain a perceived failing of yours. It's all our fault, you see.

All I know for certain is that my dogs bring out the love for my cheese. They're all over me even when I don't have cheese. I never have to wonder whether the dogs are on my side. Dogs make sense to me. That gives me a good feeling. I love Rufus, too, but it's not the same. Loving Rufus is more like encountering a really cool tree lizard in your neighbor's yard and then plucking it off your daughter's blouse, as it makes its way swiftly toward her beautiful face, only to have the tree lizard bite a hunk out of your ring finger, causing you to fling the lizard into the grass with tremendous gusto, likely causing it profound bodily injury, even though you never meant to hurt the damn thing in the first place and were only trying to help some other neighbors save it from their own stupid dog.

Yes. Loving Rufus is more a kind of guarded reptilian love.

Feeling sad because the Crocodile Hunter is dead; killed by a stingray. He was only 44, and had much crocodile-wrestling left in him.

let's hope for charming

OK. I've had a couple of false starts, clearly. Will this be yet another one, or will the third time be the charm? For what it's worth I've been keeping a diary somewhere else that has almost a thousand entries. I say this not because it's interesting but to bolster my own confidence.

A lot has happened in my life since I was last here--three years ago! My marriage went bust (very recently) and now I'm trying to remember who I am when I'm by myself. Also looking for distractions that I won't regret later. Thus.

Of course, I still have my three delicious children. We sort of cut them down the middle (or at least that's how it feels sometimes).

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L. A. Jones

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