Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Dominican Reunion

Last night I think I made up for all the drinking and the talking that I didn't do in high school. Dude, I had the best time and if this post is poorly written it's because I've got a hangover and I'm working on my first cup of coffee.

Everybody was (eyes filling with tears, bottom lip quivering with overly dramatic joy) so nice! I was nervous about seeing a couple of girls in particular because I know they thought I was a dweeb but when they saw me they both looked genuinely happy and said, "Genevieve!" and I exclaimed, in equal delight, "You!" I, uh, suffered a brain glitch and couldn't rememeber one of their names, BUT! that was ok because it turns out that barely any of us could remember each other's names. In a pinch you could just call someone Laura or Jennifer because out of the 200 girls in my graduating class, 198 of them were named Laura or Jennifer. We got together at Midcity Rock & Bowl, and some of us attempted to bowl but we all kept talking so much that I don't think any of us finished a game. There were people in my class who became phD's and marines who fly planes AND are moms at the same time. I can't even drink coffee and type at the same time right now.

After the party at Rock & Bowl five of us went out to another bar and just hung out and talked and drank. And drank. Chris drove home. But anyway, these four other chicks were girls I didn't talk to on a regular basis in high school, but I wanted to. They were funny and cool, and it turns out that they all (another gasp) liked me and thought I was nice. Apparently I was seen as sweet but painfully shy. That was a huge step up from my reputation in junior high which was more along the lines of a quiet tomboy shaped like a Wookie.

You know, the reason I set my book in a public school is because, even though The D.O.'s originated at Dominican, my worst school experiences were in the public schools in Luling. Dominican changed my life. I learned how to study there. Although I was shy, I eventually made friends there who I identified with and they were other smart, creative people. Befriending Jennifer led me to meet Fred, who led me to Christy and a whole group of people that I'm still friends with. There are times I wonder if I would have survived if I had gone to the Luling public high school instead of Dominican. The majority of the kids there were meaner, less educated, and in the late 80's there were fights and drug raids on a regular basis. I hear they've cleaned up the school now, but back then it was hell.

Anyway, I'm babbling and I have to get dressed and stuff for the day. And I've just got to call Jennifer and give her the dish!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

15 years is a long time. Right?

Tonight I'm going to my 15 year high school reunion. This morning I checked the evite hoping that someone that I was friends with would be there. It didn't surprise me that most of the people who confirmed that they were coming I either didn't remember or ran with a totally different crowd. And the reason that this didn't surprise me was that during the four years I spent at Dominican High School I spoke to maybe five people.

I went to six different schools from 1st grade through 12th, and I spent the majority of that time walking around by myself being taller than everybody. I was made fun of a lot by other kids, even other unpopular ones because I was lower on the nerd food chain, but what I didn't know then that I know now is that I kept myself in that place. The more they made fun of me, the quieter I became, the taller and more awkward I felt until eventually being quiet, awkward, and funny looking was how I defined myself. If my 33 year old self ran into a 14 year old version of myself I would call her a late bloomer. At 14 I called myself a loser. I didn't even make good grades like nerds were supposed to. I just daydreamed and stared out the window wanting to be somewhere else.

It wasn't like I never had friends, but they were few and they were more like people I talked to if I had to, like if I forgot a pencil and had to borrow one, or if I was forced to pair up with them in chemistry lab. That was before I discovered Kristen and Jennifer and we became The Bullshit Bandits. The Bullshit Bandits is another blog for another time, but let's just say that the three of us felt equally out of place in the world, and hated other girls we went to school with (it was an all-girls school - more cause for angst) who seemed so stupid and yet so sure of their place in the world. It was around senior year we began to write The Daily Dominican Obituaries, a ficticious, newspaper with fake, ridiculous obitiuaries about girls we didn't like. This was the inside joke among the three of us that I've based my young adult book on. I've changed a few things. The original D.O.'s were written from a nun's point of view and they were about students at an all-girl, Catholic school. In the book, The D.O.'s are written from the students' point of view at co-ed, public Martin Dylanson High School. But the premise is the same.

So. I'm going to show up at this reunion tonight. Since I've become much, much, much, much, MUCH more outgoing in the last fifteen years I'm not too nervous about walking into a group of people I don't know that well without Chris, Jennifer or Kristen. Jennifer lives in Tenessee, Kristen has fallen off the face of the Earth, and husbands aren't welcome until two and a half hours after the reunion begins. I'm also sure that these people have changed as much as I have, and that most likely real life has beaten down the snootier ones. What I'm unsure about is if I should tell these ladies that the novel that I'm working on, the one that I've gotten the most professional interest in, is based on stories I wrote 15 years ago in which some of them died. Because I thought they were bitches. How would that conversation go?

'93 classmate: You wrote what?
me: An obituary about how you choked to death on a fake fingernail.
'93 classmate: I died?
me: Yeah, but it was only because I thought you were a fake bitch back then. I think you're totally cool now. And I don't write that kind of stuff anymore Well, I mean I am writing a book about it now. But you're not in it. I kill off other kids. Who are based on you. They're in my head.
'93 classmate: [silent]
me: So what do you do now?
'93 classmate: I'm a therapist. Here's my card. Call any number other than that one for help.

On second thought, maybe I'll tell them that I'm writing a western. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mother spits coffee back into cup at sight of pimple

Claire, my nine year old, my baby, my kid who still wants me to wave to her when she gets on the school bus, has a pimple! A PIMPLE is boldly sitting there on my daughter's chin as if she's aging or something. What's worse is that her mother is blogging about it. But dudes, you know what this means. That pimple is a beacon. It's an implication of things to come. Soon! And you know what that implication is, don't you? That's right! It means that I'm getting older. Ladies and gentlemen, that pimple is all about me! MEEE!

No, I'm kidding. She's moving from prepubescent to slighty pubescent. It's a beautiful thing if you can get past that fact that "pubescent" has the word "pubes" in it. It made me sad and excited at the same time. She's going to be such a beautiful woman, despite the acne.

Ok, I have to get the rest of my kids ready for school. Christopher wants a granola bar and a hamburger for breakfast.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Flying Screaming Monkey

Lords and ladies of the blog (I've always wanted to begin a post that way), I am the mother of a 4th grader...What? This doesn't shock you? It should. It shocks the living hell out of me. This means that every year since Claire has been in the the first grade, my family has been under the yearly threat of The Flying Screaming Monkey.

You see, every fall Mimosa Park Elementary participates in a dessert sale and every Mimosa student is encouraged to run out there and sell an assortment of cookies, cheesecakes and brownies. After three years of Claire (and last year Emma) participating in the sale, we have decided to bow out this time. Why would we turn down sweets, and pretty darn good ones in fact? Let's set aside the fact that every single grown up I know (man and woman alike) is trying to lose weight, and every single kid I know already has so much candy left over from Halloween that the desserts are just more logs on the fire. The bad part about the sale is that if they do well they win odd prizes that break a day later like a jumbo pen that vibrates wildly at the push of a button, as if it's been jammed into an electrical socket. And the worst part of the sale is that if they do VERY well (and with the blood sugar problem in my family they usually do) is that they win The Flying Screaming Monkey. Dude, that's its actual name.

Claire won it in the first grade. I remember that afternoon as if it just happened, I mean as if instead of spending the last fifteen minutes writing about The Flying Screaming Monkey, I just actually experienced the afternoon of The Flying Screaming Monkey. But I digress...I knew that the monkey was a prize in the sales drive, but I just thought it was some obnoxious little thing that made "oo! oo! aa! aa!" noises. The afternoon that Claire brought it home, she got off the bus and ran to me across the lawn. She was crying, shaking, and mumbling something about the monkey in her school bag.

"What's the matter?" I asked, thinking I'd heard her wrong.
"Get it off! Get it off!" she hollered, afraid to move or touch the school bag herself.

And just in case you might think that I'm exagerrating her dramatic reaction, I refer you to any one of my readers who have known Claire since she was a baby. She IS drama.

I took off her school bag and again asked her what was wrong.
"The Flying Screaming Monkee's in there!" she yelled. "Don't open it!"
"Why? It's just a stuffed animal, right?"
I raised a hand to unzip the bag.
"NOOOOOOOO!!" she yelled, darting back. "No, Momma! It screams! It screams!"
"Claire, you're screaming. Is it louder than that?"
"Well, can I see it?"
"Do you want it out of your school bag?"
"Then I have to unzip it."
I rolled my eyes. "Well, what do you want me to do with it?"
"Throw it away!"
"Claire, you're being unreasonable."
I opened the front door and walked inside.
"Don't bring it in the house, Momma!" she hollered.
"Claire, I-"
"NOOOOO! Momma, nooo!"

I left the school bag outside the door and brought Claire inside, even though at the time I was more inclined to bring in the Flying Screaming Monkey and leave the Screaming Claire on the lawn. Besides, I wanted to see and hear this thing that caused so much panic. I mean, how terrifying could it be? I tried to distract her so I could sneak outside take a peak, but my daughter even at six was mind numbindly stubborn. She stood in the front room, shivering and glancing out the window as if afraid that the thing would unzip the bag and fly screaming into the house.

She was still trying to convince me to throw the bag away when Chris came home from work. I explained the problem, and Chris put a hand to his chin.
"Have you seen it?" he asked.
"No. She's terrified."
"It flies?"
"That's what the name implies."
"How does it fly?"
"I don't know."
He smiled devilishly and whispered, "Let's see it."
"Chris, she's scared."
"We'll take it in the back yard where she can't hear it."
"NO! NO! It screams!" Claire screamed.
Chris has never been a quiet whisperer.
"It'll be in the way back of the yard," Chris told her.
"Just stay inside. You won't hear it, I promise."

Now this is the part where our gender difference as parents kicks in. Whereas I relented in the face of Claire's horror, Chris grabbed the school bag, said, "Claire, you're being ridiculous," and went into the backyard. I followed, fussing at him along the way.

"I just want to see it."
"But Claire's scared."
"She's overreacting. You know you want to see it too."
"I...shut up."

Claire, of course, terrified but probably wanting to see it too, walked outside. For those of you who have never been to my house, my backyard is pretty big. It's a long way from the back of the house to the end of the yard, and we stood behind the wall of firewood so that Claire wouldn't have to see Chris unzip the bag.

When he pulled the monkee out of Claire's school bag, I immediately agreed with Chris. Claire had to be overreacting. It was a small brown monkee with a long skinny arms, like two wet spaghetti noodles hanging at its side. It wore a white scarf and had sweet, shiny brown eyes peeking out behind aviator goggles.

"How does it scream?" I asked, unable to imagine that the cute little thing could make any sound other than a baby's coo.
"How does it fly?" Chris asked. He fished inside the bag.
Claire was standing across the yard, sobbing.
"Claire, it's ok!" I reassured her. "It's cute."
"NO!" she exclaimed, hands over her ears.
"Ah ha!" Chris stood up with a sheet of paper in his hands. "Directions. It works like a sling shot. You pull the monkee back and let go."
"Is that when it screams?" I asked.
"According to this," he said, tapping on the directions.

I don't remember the exact mechanics of the Flying Screaming Monkee. I don't remember if Chris pulled the monkee's body back while holding the arms with the other and letting go or what. I just remember the scream. Chris stretched the monkee and that fucking thing screamed as if Chris had reached inside it and unraveled its intestines. It screamed, Chris, Claire and I screamed, Chris let go and the monkee's arms popped off of its body. The monkee's head and torso flew screeching across the yard on its first and final flight. Chris dropped the long, fuzzy arms dangling from his hand and Claire ran into the house, beside herself with terror.

No amount of cookies were worth the trauma of that afternoon. In the years that followed we made sure that Claire sold just enough desserts to win the vibrating pen and not The Flying Screaming Monkee. This year, our friends and families fattened from previous sales, Claire and Emma did not participate at all. No to say that there hasn't been any screaming in the house. But no dismembered monkees.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I's confused

So. Now that I'm coming down from my sugar high I can talk seriously. sCKDVOEFHP E$T$ HNqw ddadWEGG WERHGRMF BAD:qepg$w$th????!!!!!! Seriously.

Yeah, I'm still a little hyper. But aaaaaaanyway, I need some advice. I turned in the last two chapters of my book to my critique group. This is a group of ten people, who are pretty good writers and they've given me good, constructive advice so far. We got together Monday night, and they all think that, with the exception of tidying up some unresloved character development, my ending is fine. I think Christy and Jennifer agreed with that as well, but they're also my buds so there might be a slight bias. Ever so slight. I don't think either of them would write the words "huh?!" or "cliche" on my manuscript, however, my critique group HAS written those things. They have no hesistation to level with me.

The main thing they disagree with he agent about is her idea that my two main characters would NOT get expelled from school when their hit list is found. Wait, did I explain that right? The agent doesn't think the girls would be expelled, but me and the rest of my critique group do. I've looked into this. Not only would the principal not want to risk keeping them there, but kids have been expelled for even slight threats lately.

I think what I'm going to do is this...I'm going to give closure to my poor, forgotten characters with their unresolved issues (because this is fiction, where there are answers to problems, resolutions over cocoa, and evil people to blame), and then I'm going to have the girls expelled. Because that's what would happen, especially when the school's lawyer tells them that it would be a liability to keep Judy and Ana (my heroes) around. The lawyer was my writing instructor's idea. With all this legal stuff somehow I forgot to include lawyers. I've thought of a much more powerful last scene, and I'm going to throw that in too. Then I'm going to send it to the agent and ask her what she thinks. If she says, "I love it!" I will pass out from happiness and exhaustion. If she says, "It's great, but we can't have the girls expelled" then I'll probably say, "Ok, I'll change it." Because, in truth, the crux of the novel is not whether or not they get kicked out. It's not even that their hit list is found, and what happens to them as a result. It's that all these kids start at the beginning of the book with wrong ideas of themselves and each other, and at the end they have a clearer view of things.

As long as that doesn't change then I won't have sold out or anything. Not that I might be up for selling out by the time all this shit is about to go to press. If at the last minute an editor says, "How about instead of two high school girls we replace them with two chihuahuas who talk when people aren't around?" then I might say, "Would you like that in Spanish or English?"

So does my plan sound good? Maybe? Gut feeling sound accurate here? Or is there a mostly, "we haven't read your book, please stop asking us" sentiment? O (sniff!) k. All right! All right! I'll stop being melodramatic! We buds? Good. Back to the damned edits (as they will henceforth be known).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Political thoughts on a historical night

I know quite a few people who swear they'll move to Canada if Obama wins the election tonight. What confuses me is that these are all hard core Republicans and Canada is, from what I understand, socialist. Which is exactly the kind of government they want to avoid? My aunt on the other hand is scared of McCain and what he might do to the country.

I honestly don't know what to make about any of this. Truthfully, I'm not scared of either one of them. They both seem to have their pluses and minuses, and as someone who comes from a state where there are politicians who have burned crosses on people's lawns I have to say that I'm not easily intimidated.

What stumps me whenever I try to have a concrete opinion on an issue is that I gather as much information as I can to make a fully informed, correct decision. Let's see...what issue can I bring up that won't make my readers huffy? I don't think there is one. Ok, let's say the war. No, too crazy. Let's say abortion. Is there a soul in the embryo/zygote thing at the moment of conception? I don't know. I think so, but I don't really know. NOBODY knows. Nobody will EVER know. People can passionately believe one way or the other and they can debate about it, sure, but are either of them right? ...Oh you think so huh? Prove it. Oh, you can't! Because you're not a fucking zygote and neither am I. An abortion doctor is never going to hear a cry from a pregnant woman's belly, "Wait! I'm full of soul!" So this leaves me rather perplexed. I'd rather not kill anything, soul or no. Maybe it doesn't have a soul, hell, maybe my children don't have souls. I don't want to kill them though. BUT abortion is tied in with all these other women's rights issues that I am definitely for. Plus it's usually tied in with sex education, and safe sex stuff and these are also things that I'm definitely for.

So...I don't fucking know. I kept thinking the older I got the more sure I'd be about these types of things, but every year I'm less sure than before. I like America, and I like democracy and all that, but sometimes I wonder when we'll fall and how close we are to that. Because every world power, since the recording of history, has fallen. Even Rome. Everything has a life cycle - people, land, government, I mean everything. I guess that's why this big change that everyone keeps talking about, this big change that will come to pass when Bush is out of office, doesn't scare me. Maybe it should. Maybe this is the time the country will fall, but then maybe that time isn't for another couple hundred of years. I think things in the near future will be interesting anyway.

Ok. Those are my thoughts for the night. Feel free to disagree with, correct, or root for my ramblings in the comment section. Should I really have chosen abortion? Well, yes. It's one of the things I agonize over - don't want to repress women but don't want to kill potential women (or men)! Ahhhhhh! Anyway, opinions are welcomed and appreciated to add to my already overactive brain.

So as I was saying...

The other night I lead the discussion in Al-anon. The way it works when you moderate (atleast in my groups-I go to a couple of different meetings) is you pick a topic and find a reading that pertains to it. Then you open the floor to discussion. I picked loneliness because I've been struggling with that, and read a page from Courage to Change. What I thought was funny is that when I looked in the index to see if there were any daily thoughts concerning loneliness there was only one. While insecurity, faith, control issues, honesty and trust had several pages to refer to, loneliness stood alone. Hee hee.

It struck a chord with those people. They told me it was a great topic and one lady who's been in the program for 15 years said that she's never heard it as a discussion topic before. My sponsor said, "This was a really good discussion, Genevieve, thank you for bringing up something that I really didn't want to talk about." That was actually a compliment. In the program they talk a lot about loving detatchment, meaning you can love your addict without enabling them and without allowing them to take over or make your life a nightmare. This, as you can imagine, is a tricky business. It takes a sense of balance that we as insitnctive caretakers don't have unless we go out of our way to learn it. Plus, it can make you lonely. Crazy as I know this sounds, I miss the chaos. I'm used to living in it. It's not completely gone, I mean, Chris is nuts in a way that I think only engineers can be nuts, but the craziness has lessened a tremendous amount since the beginning of the year.

At this time last year I couldn't get the thought of mutilating myself out of my head. Things had gotten that bad. Whenever I feel guilty and worthless my brain takes a turn for the bloody and it's always against myself. I didn't really want to kill myself and I didn't give into the thought of cutting myself, but I became obsessed by the thought of it. At around this time last year I was laying down in my therapist's office because I couldn't sit up or move much. It was like wet cement was slowly hardening in my veins and it became harder and harder to move, as if lifting my head would break rock in my body.

She said, "Do you have any plans to kill yourself?"
"No," I said. "I don't want to die. I just don't know how to make it through the day."
"Do you want to hurt yourself?"
"Why do you want to do that?"
I told her that I thought I was a terrible person and a worse mother. I understand the reasons why I thought that, but looking back I wish I could go into that office and give myself a hug. I was always hard on myself, but this was ridiculously extreme. The night before that counseling session Chris had taken me to the emergency room. He'd called my therapist because I told him about all my selfdestructive thoughts and he was scared. She told him to take me to the emergency room because they both thought I was really suicidal. I remember being in the examination room at East Jefferson hospital before the doctor came in. I was lying on the bed when I turned my face to the wall and saw that someone had scrawled in pencil (and I swear to God that I am not making this up), "Kill me 100x." It's when I read that that I realized I didn't want to die. But, as I told my counselor the next day, I didn't know how to live. There was so much selfhatred in that sentence "kill me 100 times." I didn't want to hate myself any more. But to move from that would be to reinvent myself. I'd been so guilty, so weak, such a pushover, and so fucking enabling of every addict in my life, that I knew I was going to have to reinvent myself. I needed to clean the slate in my head, unlearn all of my destructive behavior and learn how, in fact, to make it through the day. Oh and the reason I didn't end up in the psyche ward is because it was too crowded, bu the doctor and the nurse were really sweet people. I don't remember a thing they said, but that they were coming from a sympathetic place.

I'm writing all of this because looking back at the mess I was then, I'm proud of myself for how far I've come. I am learning how to lovingly detatch, even though I'm lonely now and then because of it. I look in the mirror now. I couldn't do that a year ago, not without frowning. Once I even spit at myself. I don't want to hurt myself anymore. There have been times lately, when I feel guilty about something, that I'll have have a flash thought about punching myself in the arm or the head. But it fades because I've learned so many other ways to deal with my guilt.

I'm hoping that all of this helps someone else. Even someone who was disturbed enough to punch herself in the head can turn around. I've still got a long way to go, but I'm not my worst bully anymore. (insert the happy emoticon of your choice)

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Tired...6:30 pm and oh so tired. A friend of the kids slept over last night and they had fantastic, grammar school sleep over fun. They went to bed at 11:00 and woke up (all three of them) at 3:00 in the morning. Simpson's Halloween Special! My dad just called to remind me that it's coming on. Even with all that my parents and my sisters have been through, The Simpsons remains a family bond.

And since there's only another half hour before the show begins I shall give some quick updates. We had a good Halloween. I was afraid we wouldn't because it was just me and the kids. I've never taken them trick or treating without a possey of friends and relatives, or without Chris. But it was great! A neighbor down the street, the parents of Emma's best bud Eryc (Eric with a 'y'), were taking some of the neighborhood kids for a hay ride. Never one to pass up hitchhiking if there's a four-wheeler and a trailor involved, we jumped into the back and toured Luling in style. Eryc's dad Jeremy drove the kids from house to house, and when he stopped mine would hop out of the trailer and run towards the candy. Once Christopher ran across a neighbor's lawn chanting "Candy, candy, candy, candy!"
"Christopher!" I hollered. "Say 'trick or treat!'"
And he obeyed most passionately, but the poor boy slurs his r's so what he threw back his head and cried, "TWICK OR TWEAT!"
He was a firefighter. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to wear that costume because he's been a firefighter for three years in a row, but he was most insistent about it. Emma was a princess with heels, a tiara and all that, and Claire was an army girl. That was something she wanted to be last year, but she wound up as a witch. This year, though, she looked pretty kick ass in a different way (cause witches are pretty kick ass you know). Black boots, camoflauge T-shirt and pants, hair back in a high pony tail and black smudges under her eyes. What did I dress up as? A mom in jeans and a T-shirt of a skull with head phones on. Anyway, it was fun watching them go from house to house. I talked to my neighbors ocassionally but mostly I sat back and watched them collect the loot. If I hadn't lost my camera in Disney World I would be able to show you guys. So you're just going to have to imagine it. For those of you who have never seen me before I look EXACTLY like Audrey Hepburn.

I will also share a little recovery info. I'm on the second step. After I meet with my sponsor this week I'll be onto the third. Also I moderated my first meeting, meaning I got up and talked in front of everybody.

AH! The Simpsons. To be continued...