Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Stupid Shit I Read in People Magazine (March 3 edition)

"The truth is, and I know this is corny, I fall more in love with Portia all the time." Ellen DeGeneres

So I closed my magazine, put down my coffee, and walked over to Corb, all spread out on the living room couch, watching some such nonsense. "Corb, do you fall more in love with me all the time?" I asked.

Corb grimaced and put the TV on mute. Clearly I was interrupting something vitally important, like the thousandth time he's seen Under the Tuscan Sun. "What is it, Ted?"

I pointed to the magazine in my hand. "It says here in this book that Ellen DeGeneres falls more in love with Portia all the time. And I think that's beautiful. So I was just curious. Do you fall more in love with me all the time?"

"Oh. Well, hmmm." Corb sat up and pushed his glasses back. He thought about it for a minute, and then he looked me straight in the eyes (with those beautiful blue eyes that he has). "No, Ted, I don't fall more in love with you all the time."

What? Is this the response that one wishes to hear from one's true love? Shocked to my very core, I said, as eloquently as possible. "What?"

"Well, of course, I love you," he replied, sanely and sensibly. "I'll love you forever. But, do I fall more in love with you all the time? I mean, we've been together for ten years. There are days you drive me crazy! But then there are times that I do love you more than ever. It just depends on what day it is. Sometimes even what time of the day it is. Sometimes even what minute of what time of the--"

"Okay, okay, I get it!" I lifted my magazine up, threatening to whack him with it. "Some real love you turned out to be."

The truth is, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I mean, that really is real love, isn't it? Love means knowing the other person well enough to understand that there are certain times when you just want to beat the crap out of them. And that's okay, because there are also certain times where you love them so much it hurts. And there are other times where you feel kind of somewhere in between, and even worse, some times where they mean about as much to you as the slippers you're wearing on your feet. You know they are there, and you like them, they're comfortable, and maybe even, they smell a bit. And that's it. And it's okay. 

For example, Corb is not a big hugger. He lets me hug him, but it can't be for too long, and I am the exception rather than the rule, because he really doesn't like hugging anyone else. I personally suspect it's because his mother pushed him down a flight of stairs when he was younger. 

Some days, when he is sitting at the computer playing The Sims, I will sneak up behind him, wrap my arms around him, give him a great big hug. A great, big, huge bear hug. More often than not, it drives him crazy! He will push away, say he wasn't prepared. Say he's concentrating. And then I will get mad because he pushed me away, and then we will bicker a little bit.

He also feels the same about when my feet get too close to his legs in bed.

And yet, there was this one time, about a year ago, when I was feeling particularly anxious about something. Maybe it was the plight of the diminishing bee population, I don't know. Maybe it was something serious. And Corb came over to me out of the blue and said, "Get up."     

 "Get up?" Okay, I got up.

He held out his arms. "I heard today that if you make it a habit of hugging the person you love for one solid minute each day, you'll actually live longer and feel calmer. So come on, let's do it. Give me a hug, Ted!"

I shook my head. "But you hate hugs."

"But I want to live longer." And then he made a funny face. "And I love you. So, come on!"

Ever since then, whenever I need it, all I have to do is to ask him for a minute hug and I can get it, on demand. Of course, it's on his terms: not while he's sitting at the computer, and always standing up. But it's nice to have, you know? And a minute hug is really good, by the way. Just that moment of body contact, that embrace, that reassurance, can be all you need to move on. To endure. To overcome. To aspire to bigger and better things. 

So, the moral of the story is, I'm okay with my version of real love. It may not be bigger and deeper, each and every day, but it's solid and it's honest, and it works for us. Works pretty well, actually.

It may sound corny, but it even makes me fall in love with Corb all the more...every so often.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How I learned to love the voices in my head.

My friend Mary Ann Peden-Coveillo graciously asked me to write a guest post for her blog, Skewed Notions, promoting my book, Pictures of You. Mary Ann, thanks for giving me the chance, and for allowing me to repost it here! 

I mean, you never know where inspiration for a story is going to come from, right?

Take my novel Pictures of You. I know the exact place and time that the idea for the story came to me. It felt like a revelation, so much so I actually had to sit down.
Pictures of You 1600

I had just given my daughter her first driving lesson. It was a beautiful spring day. For some reason thought it would be funny to tape the experience and post it to YouTube. And that got me to thinking: what if one day you woke up and found videos of your life posted on YouTube for everyone to see that you never wanted anyone to see?

Break-up scenes with an old flame, or the day you went to school with your fly down. What if the scenes became progressively worse, and couldn’t possibly have been taped, and you had no idea who was sending them or how they had gotten hold of them? How powerless and out of control—not to mention scared—would you feel?

I was off and running. Mapping out the first few chapters, imagining scenarios. Constructing it as a Young Adult novel, because for some reason, that’s the creative medium I work best in…and always, as a 16-year old girl, for some reason. Probably better not to ask.

That’s when the really scary things started happening. Like my own personal unwanted YouTube video, my main character started to speak to me. Made herself known. And I realized this girl wasn’t who had I initially envisioned at all.

You see, I originally intended to write the story as a strict YA thriller, with your stereotypical girly girl young pretty teen-ager who all these awful things happen to, but who wins out in the end. But as I progressed with the story…about six or eight chapters in…the true Ashes16 increasingly started to assert herself. She wanted to become so much more than that. And one morning, as I was lying in bed dreaming about her life and her world, I realized, “Oh, wait. This is a girl with gender issues. This is a girl who really wants to be a boy. And not just any boy…she wants to be her dead brother.”

After that, to me, the book really came into focus. I had always viewed it as a ghost story, but in seeing who Ashes was, it became clear to me that the story was as much about being haunted by the memories of your past as it was about an actual haunting. When that fell into place, I realized the real point behind Pictures of You was about giving voice to those hiding in the shadows—and not just voices of the non-corporeal variety. It’s about those who are unable to talk, or too scared to speak their own personal truth—for even if Ashes is a self-described YouTube addict with a very public social face, she still wears a mask. She still feels different, every day of her life. She’s still hiding a past she desperately needs to come to terms with and a sadness that she dares not reveal to anyone, especially herself.

There’s a lot to be said for giving in to the voices inside your head. At least in the case of Pictures of You, I think the book was made stronger for the experience. So let this be a lesson for you, sinners: creative schizophrenia can sometimes be a beautiful thing. Would you mind taking a look at the story and letting me know if you agree?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Coming soon.


Well, the day is almost here.

With the cover art complete, I've spent the past few weeks working on finalizing the layout. I now have a print version and a Kindle version almost set to share with the world. It's not been easy! Although I find that I really do like the mundane problems that come with formatting. For example, I actually typed the entire version in Courier New, and when I stripped that out to create a clean unformatted version to start working from, I ended up with a ton of reverse quotes at the end of dialogue. Very annoying.

Still, that's almost past me. Above you'll see a peak of what the final cover looks like. The logo only...and thanks to everyone who helped to weigh in on which one they liked best!

I promise to give everyone a full view of the cover art, a description of the story, and a place to actually buy a copy very, very soon. Just a few more days and another goal of mine will be complete! This is a terrific feeling..

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tedwords Picture Parade: This week's project

party table

This week's project involved getting something underneath the lowest hanging chandelier. I banged my head on it a few weeks ago and almost passed out. It hurts! Annie did the same at one of our family pot roast parties and had a bump on head that lasted a few days.

But actually, truth be told, this project was a few weeks in the making. The table we purchased at Pier One a while back, and once we had it set up, we started thinking about getting comfy armchairs to circle the table. Perfect for playing board games, you know? But then we started scouting out antique stores and realized how expensive a proposition that would be. So, we ended up picking four armchairs at Home Goods--two differing types of fabrics, but connected by the rows of silver studs on running down all the chairs. Also, they bring out the two main color themes in the room: gold and blue (my beloved lime green twenties couch is still in this room, too, but I know something will be done with that someday. (A day that will make me tremendously sad.)

Just in time, too. This past week-end, Theo decided to hold a Super Smash Brothers party for about ten of his friends that started Saturday afternoon and lasted until Sunday afternoon. And after Valentine's Day, we have our next game party planned: Cards Against Humanity. My goal for this place to be Party Central is coming to pass!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


sugar bowl

Oh, the dinner party? Oh yes, I really was meaning to talk about that one.

I mean, it went fine. Of course, Corb had way too much in the way of pot roast (and his mother was forced to foot a fifty dollar bill, as a result), and OF COURSE, Aunty Carole was completely overblown and obnoxious. She made a huge show out of presenting us with hand towels that we probably won't be able to use and an ugly "Home Sweet Home" sign that Corb's mother had cross-stitched many years ago. She also pissed Corb off by going on and on about how his grandmother (who suffers from Parkinson's) was better off dead than the way she was living now and she just hoped that the good lord would see fit to put her out of her misery ASAP.

Note to self: never tell anyone that their grandmother deserves to die. It will not be taken well. sugar bowl

But really, as obnoxious as Carole was, the bigger story from that night for me involves the tale of THE SUGAR BOWL.

You probably all have something similar. A china set that's been in your family for years, that perhaps your grandmother collected. A set that's been passed down from person to person as if it's the most valuable treasure in the world.

Mine was from my Nana Mitchell. An Old Willow tea set in red, made by Alfred Meakin. I have an incredibly vivid memory of where she used to keep it. Nana lived in an in-law apartment downstairs from us, and all her good dishes were displayed in a glass china cabinet that was probably the most valuable thing she owned. I remember going downstairs to visit her every night, and having her make me toast and tea. As she'd crochet, the two of us would watch TV, and I well remember the sight of the china cabinet next to the television. When Mom and Dad sold the house, the new owner had only one request: to keep Nana's china cabinet. Mom and Dad let her keep the cabinet, but stored the china away in boxes.

And, handed them to me, two weeks ago, when we had my dinner party for my folks. It was a real thrill, getting the gift of something Nana cherished so much. That Mom entrusted them to me...well, it meant something. Something big.

So at one point during the Corb family party, I ended up talking to Corb's mother. And I was feeling a bit guilty that we had been talking to badly about her for the past week, what with the insistence that we buy TEN FREAKING POUNDS OF POST ROAST and that we invite Corb's "beloved Auntie" over.

So, in a moment of weakness, I foolishly said, "Oh! I just have to show you what my mother gave me last week. It's this beautiful china set that had been my grandmother's." Then I moved over to the cabinet where we stored the china. And then (mistake number two) I picked out what seemed to me to be the most interesting piece: the sugar bowl. Diana's face beamed as I lifted it up to show it off.

"Well, isn't lovely!" she exclaimed. "Do you mind I hold it?"

"Of course not," I said, and handed it to her. (MISTAKE NUMBER THREE MISTAKE NUMBER THREE)

(You can see where this one's going, right?)

"How lovely," she said. "Who made it?"

"Oh...I'm not sure..." I replied.

"They probably have it engraved on the bottom," she said, and turned the sugar bowl over. Including the cover, which had not been taped shut.

And that's all it took. In an instant, the cover of the sugar bowl had disconnected from the rest of the bowl, and plummeted to the wooden floor.

Time literally stood still for me. I watched as, in slow motion, that cap made its way down to the ground, and, gravity being what it is, smashed into fifty tiny little pieces, all across the floor.

"Oh! Corb's mother cried out.

"NOOOOOO!" I shrieked. No, really. I shrieked. I let out a huge womanish howl of despair.

Corb's mother looked mortified. And from what Corb tells me, I looked like I was going to cry.

And then, Aunt Carole tried to take over. "DIana, get over it, you broke a goddamn dish, just deal with it!" she screamed out.

"I can't believe I did that. I am so sorry," said Corb's mother.

"It's...it's..." But I couldn't bring myself to say it was okay. It wasn't.

"Ah, it's just a dish, it'll be fine!" continued Carole, even though neither of us were paying attention to her. "Diana, stop looking like that, just go and get a broom and pick it up and--"

"Please stop that," said Corb, quietly but firmly.

"What's that?" asked Carole, a bit surprised.

 "Stop talking. It's not helping!" Carole looked at him, shocked. But amazingly, that shut her up.

Well, at least something good came out of it.

Anyway, I could tell from the look on Diana's face that it was completely a mistake, and that she felt just awful about breaking a precious family heirloom from my grandmother. She did offer to pay for a replacement, too, and wrote Corb a note the day after saying how sorry she felt. (Although, given her insistence that Corb needed to personally invite Carole by phone and apologize for neglecting to have invited his dearest auntie in the first place, I think he would have been well within his rights to insist that she needed to call me and apologize.) And from what I learned from an antique dealer the week after, it may not be that expensive to replace either. A lot of the family china is actually relatively common. At least, the cups and plates. I don't know about sugar bowl covers.

Still, it's the significance of the thing. Mom had entrusted me to be keeper of the family china, and my first week on the job, I blow it. I am not happy about that. Nana, if you're up there in heaven reading this, I promise to do better with the rest of the set! Believe me, Corb's mother will never touch any of your antiques, ever again.

Anyone have any suggestions on how I can find a replacement? All I need is the cap to the sugar bowl. If you have any thoughts, please send me an email or comment. I want Nana's tea set all in one piece...at least, before my mom finds out!