Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Parent-hazing (Sick Baby) and a Bit of Sap to Go With That

I'm a real parent now.

I've passed another initiation rite.

Last night my son woke up at midnight because he threw up in his crib. Then he threw up for several hours every twenty minutes or so. He was finally able to fall asleep in my arms and then just wake up to vomit into a blanket as he cried.

So it turned out that Stoker and I only got about two hours of sleep. Like idiots we've been going to bed around midnight. You see the problem?

Anyway, Stoker called the experience parent-hazing and I think it fits. I mean, it's not just the no-sleep thing. It's the holy-hell-my-son-is-in-serious-pain-and-I-can't-stop-it. And that is really hard. Even though we know that most likely, this isn't too serious. It's just real pain. It's just the "WTF is this vomiting nonsense? It's unnatural," he seems to think. You know what I'm talking about. It's one of those human things and it's weird and no one likes it.

Hearing him cry every time it began and while it was happening was kind of hard. I don't want to sound like a wimp, but you get pretty attuned to your child and when they hurt, you tend to hurt, if not a bit more because you want to protect them from that.

He seemed to feel better this morning, and was even playing despite the terrible diarrhea that set in around six-thirty am. And then I fed him some solids, and then he vomited all over me, the couch, himself, and the living room, around four-thirty (as you can tell from this description, it was crazy projectile vomit). So the solids were a dumb idea.

Let me just say that I really admire and feel for the parents of children who suffer more than what my son is going through. You really get taught a lesson by the universe, or life, or mother-nature or whoever, just when you think you have a handle on things.

So, I ought to go to bed right now, because I just heard my son cry and I have a feeling that it will be a long, hard night again. I'm glad I don't have to face this stuff alone. Last night his dad was the real hero. I'm incredibly thankful for both of them.

Corbet gets a stubbly kiss from dad during a Sunday drive up Provo Canyon. 
Notice the grocery bag in a tree to round out the shot. Nature is beautiful!

Corbet likes everything dad likes and wants to do everything with dad. 
Dad feels the same way! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Conway Twitty (Who I Loved BEFORE "Family Guy"): You've Never Been this Far Before

I can't believe it was four years ago that I first posted a Conway Twitty video. Time flies.

Sometimes you just want to listen to Conway and sometimes you need to watch him singing, and see those bedroom eyes and all those smoldering glances. He's really great.

And I mean, real sexy, right?

I can't remember how, but it was while I was in Nashville that I really got into old country music. I think it was the astronomical number of used records at stores like The Great Escape. It was inevitable that I began looking through the country albums and began buying them as well.

Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner (Stoker got to work with him!). Anyway, also, one time Mel Tillis flirted with me at Starbucks. Flirt. What a disgusting word. I can't believe we've allowed it to stay in the lexicon.

Anyway, there's something real about old country. I love it. It's even better to listen to now that I no longer live in Nashville.

And you know what, I'm trying really hard to be generous and mature and refrain from looking toward the east and saying, "Good riddance, you bastard," to Nashville. I even did a "things I'll miss about Nashville" post. Honestly, it's a great place. But the humidity was a real jerk. And I'm extremely grateful to have it behind me.

In all honesty, I don't miss it (except for the Mexican restaurant).

I just had to get that off my chest. Whew! Thanks.

Tonight I felt like posting a Conway video again. I love him. It's a tradition of sorts, for me to post about Conway. I think I'll keep doing it. Because I love him. Huge crush. Stoker totally understands. He's glad I have crushes on dead singers. Otherwise, he'd worry that I'd run out on him. I'm a real desirable woman.

A once in a lifetime woman.

Who has crushes on dead writers (Chekhov).

Here's the video. Watch. Enjoy. Fall in love with those bedroom eyes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Deal with Other People in All Situations

Did I ever tell you this?

I think the world is so much easier to deal with if you just pretend that everyone else is an alien. I mean, when you go to a restaurant, instead of deluding yourself that you have anything in common with the other patrons, just imagine that you're basically at the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars.

The regular nightly crowd at the neighborhood Chili's.

It works! I often get frustrated with other patrons. Like, I stare at them and wonder who taught them that it was cool to go out in public in a ratty old Corona tank-top, the kind that show off the rib-cage. You know you love them. Right. Completely. So sexy to see that arm-pit hair. 

Or my favorite is when conversation is impossible due to the nearby table of drunken women talking at the top of their lungs and laughing obscenely at EVERYthing.

But when I pretend the loud strangers next to me are from the planet Skaro, suddenly they're no longer a nuisance. I just laugh and all is well.

 Skaro: Home of the Daleks AND the offensively loud aliens at the neighboring table.

This method not only works for eating at restaurants (where I first learned this Jedi-method), but almost anywhere in public. It's particularly fitting at Wal-Mart, the only place I'll currently buy groceries because of the astronomical savings. What I DON'T love about Wal-Mart is the creeping sense that I'm the only one there from planet Earth.

When I apply my everyone-is-an-alien coping mechanism, I really AM the only one from earth. And suddenly, it all makes sense. This is actually the ONLY time the crowds at Wal-Mart make sense, in fact. They're all aliens. So it's totally normal for people to swipe their carts at you and make snide remarks when you park your cart in front of the apples....because, you're getting apples....and of course they're annoyed. They're Klingons. They get pissed about EVERYTHING.

"No, I will not battle you for twenty Gala apples, there's more over there. It's cool. There's more apples. Put away that bat'leth, please," I find myself saying quite often, and not just about apples, mind you.

I only wish that I'd learned this life-saving trick back when I was going to indie-band shows and other very crowded venues. I would have been so much cheerier, especially when I finally got a view of the stage and some tall dude suddenly positioned himself in front of me. Rather than cursing him out beneath my breath, I would have just laughed and said, "This always happens when Wookiees come to shows," and found another spot.

 And then Han said to me, "You wanna get out of here?" And I said, "Yeah." And he punched the Wookiee in the face and we left. We ended up at a nice little coffee shop where there weren't any Wookiees blocking my view. All in all, it turned out to be a good night because I'd met this gorgeous smuggler. Well, I didn't know he was a smuggler at the time. All I knew was that he looked good in knee-high boots and in those pants with a stripe on the side. And he had this smirk. You know the kind. The kind you want to kiss. All this happened because a Wookiee was blocking my view at the Minus the Bear show. Life is crazy like that. And perfect. Han and I are still together, if you want to know.*

This is gold, this method. Use it. Use it well. And remember, all of us really are from completely different universes.

*"How My Life Was Turned Upside Down by a Wookiee" by Nicole Grotepas

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Future Islands: Two Songs and a Live One

Ok, trust me, it's hard to choose two songs here because nearly every song is just amazing. Like, breathtaking amazing. Like, the kind of amazing where you scream a bit and go find your best friend, and force her to listen to the album as you drive around town aimlessly. Those are good moments.

Anyway the actual videos aren't that great. "Inch of Dust" is better than the other one, though.

I listened to these two albums as I did this epic run up Farmington Canyon in Utah. The run was pretty fantastic. It was essentially six miles up, four thousand feet or more in elevation gain. The perfect music for such an insane run.

And then I had an injured foot for a couple weeks and had to bow out of the Ragnar: Wasatch Back race I was training for. Ha. Ha.

Was it worth it? Yes, yes, I think it was.

I just watched someone's live version of "Inch of Dust" on Youtube and it was fantastic. Yes, Sam Herring, the singer, is a bit crazy, reminds me of Jack Black being all intense. I love Jack Black, so what does that tell you?

Yes, it means I love Sam Herring. His lyrics are phenomenal. His singing is emotional. You just don't get that these days. LOVE. Big fat love.

Here's a beautiful live performance from NPR. Man, there's just something about his voice. Kills me. Hope you love it. Seriously, you better love it. Or else.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Note from Alexander the Great's Mother. Kidding. It's Just Me. Nicole.

Attention everyone: I have an announcement to make. My son, Corbet, has officially learned how to point and say, "Ah." Sure, when someone ELSE'S kid does it, it's just yeah, you know? Oh. Huh. Cute.

But when MY son does it, he's demonstrating his superior intellect. He's not even a year old yet. The boy understands POINTING. He might as well be writing out complex equations that calculate the wind-speed velocity of the slope of a rocket ship. I have no idea if that's a thing, but it sounds intense.

Anyway, when he does it, I melt and laugh and give him a big fat smooch.

 Corbet on his first swing as a big kid. Well, big-GER than when he was a newborn in a swing. That's his dad's hand. 
Beautiful hand. And the boy is beautiful too, if I do say so myself. And I do.

So that's fun. It makes up for the three or four interruptions of my good nights' rest. Which isn't a good nights' rest at all, unless I were to go to sleep at ten. I don't, so every night's sort of hellish. I SHOULD, but I don't. When else am I supposed to read if not in bed, before falling to sleep? There's no time the rest of the day.

Corbet is also walking like a brand new colt. His legs are a bit wobbly, and he falls a lot, but he's actually learning to stand in the middle of the room. Any new walker understands how difficult this is—free-standing, you know. Instead of crawling to a stationary object, he's realized he can make his legs straight with his hands on the floor and then sort of rise up.

It's pretty amazing when you see it.

Additionally, he's been attempting to run. He usually falls, but that doesn't seem to stop him from trying again. Lately he's taken to walking to my Simple Human garbage can (that made me throw up when I was pregnant!), opening it, and taking trash out.

That's pretty awesome. The best is when it's got cat vomit in it (my orange cat seems to have a weak stomach and throws up once a day at least) and Corbet pulls the paper towel out with the cat vomit in it.

 Orange cat with a weak stomach. Also works as a window security system.

Ok, so that only happened once and then we learned our lesson. Cat vomit goes in the OUTSIDE garbage can. Plus it stinks something delicious.

Something delicious. To describe a bad smell. I like it.

It's adorable and I know it doesn't bode well for the future, but I can't help but laugh when Corbet heads to the garbage can and I say, "Cor-BET," where my voice goes up on the last syllable, like "Oh no you DOOON'T." He laughs and squeals and runs for the corner where the garbage can hides. And I run after him. He laughs like crazy. 

I laugh too, of course. How can I resist? It's hilarious to me that he's learned there are forbidden things that he'll get in trouble for. Sometimes he shakes his head and turns away, like he really knows how to mind. I wonder how long THAT will last.

Maybe forever. Maybe he'll be a perfect saint, unlike his mom and dad. One can hope!

Right now he's in this phase—Stoker keeps saying everything's a phase—where he wants me to hold him ALL the time. It's a bit inconvenient, but I try to enjoy it, knowing that at some point he'll never want to cuddle, he'll only want to play and be as far from me as possible.

That happens, right?

Being a mom is pretty great. I can't wait to teach him how to take over the world. I've got my lesson plans all laid out and soon, I'll begin guiding him toward world-domination. He'll be a great ruler. It's going to be awesome.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ostriching and Generalizing Great Literature

First off, I missed a huge opportunity by living with my head in the sand.

Last weekend there was a rather important writing conference like ten steps from my front door. There were a couple of agents attending that I would have liked to meet and I even have two novels essentially ready to pitch. I put one up for sale on the Kindle store already, but my intent is to still try to get representation with it.

Is that kosher? I have no idea. I guess I haven't really looked into it. But it doesn't matter because I keep writing anyway and will never stop. So I'll always have something to sell. I like to keep forty irons in the fire at once. That way I'll never die. Unfinished business, right?

My goal is to live forever. I'm sure I can. I'm sure they'll have the secrets of immortality unlocked by the time I'm sixty-five. If not, I'll just keep living as a Methusaleh sort of character.

Ok, and another thing I'm thinking about is how derogatory and limiting the term "chick-lit" is. I mean, what gives? I swear I've mentioned this before, but we don't call books that are merely written for a general audience "dick-lit," but I'm thinking we should. Forgive the crassness, please, I'm simply trying to illustrate a point.

So I'm reading a Sophie Kinsella book right now and it's genius. PURE genius. I appreciate it on many levels, one of them being that I'm a writer myself and know how difficult it can be create humor in writing. Perhaps it's easy for Sophie, she seems like the type for whom it might come easy. I haven't read a "chick-lit" novel in some time, so I'm really enjoying it.

Normally I guess I read "dick-lit" because I read things that are not written for women. See? I mean, if you're going to call something that's just about people having hilarious conversations and experiences "chick-lit," then isn't everything else by default meant for men and therefore "dick-lit"?

Ok, so I'm being a bit obtuse, yes. I'll give you that. But it really irks me that Sophie Kinsella's books are being categorized in such a way that if a man wants to read it, he's by default totally emasculating himself, YET if a woman picks up a Hemingway novel, she's being smart.

Totally blows.

And I love Hemingway.

This all relates to feminist theory, and the whole male-gaze bull-crap which also really irks me. The nature of genres and categorizing is to make things easier and I appreciate it all in many ways, but I also think it's highly unfair and a rip-off to target-market in this way. I'd like to be able to say to my husband:

"Hey dude, you really really need to read this Sophie Kinsella book. It's freaking hilarious." And be able to have him say:

"Sure," without being under the impression—given to him by genius marketers and advertisers—that he's about to embark on something that will just bore the hell out of him because it's like, you know, shopping or something (given, some of her books are about shopping, yes, but not the one I'm reading).

Sorry, I must be feeling a bit sweary tonight. I just said hell and it felt right. Yes, I've had one of those long days where you just want to draw a bath, sip some champagne (I don't drink, but it might be relaxing), read, and say, "Calgon, take me away!" But instead I'm writing this blog post and getting more riled up the more I think about the marketing injustices created by absolute genius marketers.

"Hey," I'm sure they say, "better to have an audience than to be lost in the mess of books and bookshelves."

"See," they say, "her books would have ended up falling into those categories without our help. We just did what would come naturally anyway. And we marketed to a built-in audience."

Yeah? Well, they also intentionally give her books pink, flirtatious covers that supposedly attract women also. Right? Pink is well-known to be a woman-magnet, and it's not even that we've been socialized that way! It just happens!

Right. I know. I've watched my son pick between dolls and cars, and without any sort of prompting he picks cars. I'm not joking. I understand these things.

I just find it wrong. Look at an equivalent author to Sophie Kinsella and Helen Fielding, Nick Hornby. Does he get categorized into being meant just for male readers? No. I've read all his books. He IS the male Sophelen (combo of Sophie and Helen). Nick's books are considered to be just literature. And women can pick them up, read them, and be considered up-to-date.

Anyway. Meh. Bleh. I know I'm swimming upstream here, griping about things that are just, well, the nature of our civilization. It's like trying to stop female singers from singing in loud, screechy, high-pitched voices because it grates on your nerves, you know. They ought to sing in more mellow tones. After all, they have a freaking mike in front of their mouth, don't they? Just sing normal.

But no. They can't. They think loud is better.

Sorry. I'm sitting in a coffee shop, the speaker's right above me, and it's a girl singing to high heaven at eleven the entire time. My ear-drums are shot. I need some ear-muffs.

Well, there you have it. Irritated about everything. But really not. I'm pretty excited that Sophie Kinsella is so good, and all the men out there who don't read her books because she's called chick-lit are idiots. Their loss. A woman wouldn't hesitate to pick up, say a Tom Clancy or Nick Hornby and let them be judged for their writing and not their genres/category.

I guess that's why the world is OUR oyster. Us. Women, I mean. Because we're less limited by societal perception.

Somehow. I know that makes sense. I'll figure it out later. I need to figure out this music situation or else I'm going to die of irritation.

Sing normal!

Oh, thank heaven. Ear-pluggy type ear-buds, life-savers that you are. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Incredibly Difficult Task of Naming a Book, Plus How to Deal with Rejection

I'm trying to come up with a title for my young adult novel. I wrote it a few years ago and had a bunch of cool people beta read it. Mostly the feedback was positive, but I had one friend really slam the protagonist.

Get this: he called her a b----! Can you believe that? I mean, really! Come on! A b----! Thanks JOE!

Oh yeah, his name was Joe. He was pretty cool even though he slammed my firstborn. I mean, that's basically what it was. Ha ha. His girlfriend/wife (I don't know what to call her except "seriously cool chick"!) also read my book and she was awesome. I think she also thought my protagonist was a bleep. Seriously.

So because they felt this way, I obviously had to rewrite the entire damn thing. What happened is, I believe I queried five agents and when I didn't hear back I considered myself a failure. That's how I am: hyper-sensitive. It's very hard to write query letters, if you don't know, and it really blows to sit down and compose five individual letters tailored to specific agents and to not hear from them.

And why are they individually tailored? Why do that? I mean, doesn't it take forever? Yeah, it does. But if you've looked into it at all, you've heard the scathing things agents have to say about writers who send out generic form letters. They WANT you to speak directly to them and if you don't, you're in the doghouse.

Which is why when you don't hear back, it's considered rejection and you feel that all your time was wasted. And then you think, "I know, I'll enter Writer's of the Future, win, and then get published because I'm so awesome." So then you focus on writing a million short stories and proceed to forget that you should be marketing your finished novel.

And then you don't win Writer's of the Future because the contest is crap, but in the meantime, you've become a million times better as a writer and you look back at your first completed novel and you think, man, this is awesome. I mean, some of it, and I can't just let this brilliant concept go to waste. 

So then you decide to just, you know, fix it up. A little. Fixing it up a little turns into an entire rewrite. You've changed the characters, your protagonist is suddenly way more immature yet empathetic, and you've shortened the plot drastically. Basically the only thing that stays the same is the skeleton. Well, one leg of the skeleton. The rest is totally new.

This is why you don't rewrite. Unless you're like me, and you're effing CONVINCED this is the most brilliant concept to have landed in a writer's brain since J.K. and Stephenie got coffee and outlined their books together while planning to take over the publishing industry for twenty years.

Ok, I'm not THAT convinced. Or that cocky. But I loved it and couldn't just let it die as a first novel. I needed to revive it.

And the first installment is done (now I need to rewrite the second book, which I finished a while ago). I just need a decent title. One that exudes awesomeness. All I can think of is "Hunger Games." Or "Twilight." Or "The Sorcerer's Stone and the Hungry New Moons."  "The Chamber of Secret Edwards and Bellas." None of those sound very good. They're missing something. Like sense.

I will keep plugging away at it. And then, I don't know, I will design the most frickin' cool cover ever to grace the pages of the Amazon Kindle store. Ha!

My carpal tunnel is acting up. I have to stop typing! Argh! Curse you, CTS!!!!!

New Domain Name

The astute reader will notice that when they typed in the old address, they were redirected to a new address. That's right! Yeah!

I merged the blog and the web site. Why? Why not. Or should that have a question mark? Should THAT have a question mark? Should THIS have a question mark?

The time is now 11:04 and I'm asking redundant questions. I should be in bed. I just wanted to post a small little blurb about my new domain name triumph. It was difficult. I couldn't have managed it without Stoker. I actually called the domain registrar because I was so confused and they told me they couldn't help me. What a low point!

Lately, I've been on a rampage of telling people and businesses what I think when they let me down or disappoint me or try to screw with me. The guy at the registrars is lucky I didn't do that for him.

Or maybe, MAYBE, maybe I've learned to be a better person?

Yeah, that's it.

I'm seriously trying though. I'm just weak. WEAK!

So anyway, if you've got my old address on file, if you really do love me like you say you love me, you'll bookmark the new address, or follow me, or write down this new address with my hard to say and spell last name.

Goodnight. Dream of unicorns and rainbows and little garden gnomes. I'll be here, probably having dreams about China taking over the universe and/or the typical ex-boyfriend dream where I'm picking between Stoker and a former lover.

SPOILER: Stoker always wins.