Tuesday, March 31, 2009
There's no particular reason. I went to bed early and actually slept through the night, but I have a fuzzy brain today. Spotty concentration. Flighty thoughts.
I'm working on a project and it's taking every ounce of energy I have to focus on the page. So I seek your advice. What do you do when the best your brain can seem to tune into is fuzz?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Since the birthday girls invited their friends, I got to meet a whole bunch of personal trainers, film and TV people and some women who looked like supermodels. It was kind of cool to look up from the grill at the mass of people on my deck and wonder who the heck they were.
We gobbled meatballs, lasagna rolls, chicken skewers and all sorts of tasty treats, popped champagne, sang "Happy Birthday," while the birthday duo blew out candles on a cake topped with icing scanned in from a picture of them and enjoyed an inpromptu 2:00 AM acoustic guitar jam session.
Last night should satisfy my party craving for a bit. Have you gone to a good party lately? If so, what made it special?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
And here's today's to-do list:
Sure, it's a lot of work. But by the time guests are popping meatballs in their mouths and oooing over cheezy strombolis and the dance party starts in the living room and the birthday girls are blowing out their candles between fits of giggles, it will all be worth it.
So, if you could make money off one of your favorite things to do, what would it be?
Friday, March 27, 2009
I was excited to see that Greg C. also appreciates flowers, but then I remembered from other blog posts that he has horrible allergies. Like dreading Spring allergies. And that made me sad.
It also made me wonder, what do you love even though it's not good for you?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
1. Health, Money or Love? (Pick just one!) I pick health. Without your health, loving well and making money would be very difficult, not to mention kind of worthless.
2. Briefly imagine yourself standing at the edge of a body of water. Do you imagine yourself by a creek, river, swimming pool, lake, puddle, reservoir, pond, ocean, or someplace else altogether?
Ocean. I love the ocean.
3. If you had to lose one of your senses and you could pick which one, what would you pick? Why? This is a tuffy. I couldn't bear to lose the sense of touch, sight or hearing. So it's between taste and smell. I imagine taste would be affected if you couldn't smell. But a lot of men lose their sense of smell and seem able to taste just fine. Since I'm a crazy foodie, I really would hate to lose the sense of taste. So I'm going for smell.
4. What one thing did you do in childhood that still haunts your conscience? It's not so much what I did, but what other people did that haunts me.
5. A life without books or a life without electronic media? This question makes a novelist like me want to vomit. Both options are bad. No electronic media means no Question of the Day. No books means living without the comfort of my oldests friends. There's nothing like escaping in a book. But, as a writer, answering this horrible question, my work could still be read via electronic media, therefore I'd have to go with a life without books.
I'm going to go hug my bookshelves now. What about you?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I think this somehow ties into Greg C's question about destiny and whether or not we chose our own paths. My gut answer is no, I wouldn't change anything, because my experiences led me here. As negative as some of them might have been, they formed the person I am. And I'm pretty happy being me.
Sure, I've made mistakes. Some pretty ugly big ones that are sooo not bloggable. But I've learned from them. I've felt the impact of the mistakes and I make conscious efforts not to repeat them. And I have to wonder who I'd be if I hadn't made them and learned from them.
I'm getting all sorts of philosophical and I'm not sure I'm even fully awake yet.
So, back to the question, if you could go back in time, is there anything you would change and why?
Monday, March 23, 2009
1. What is your all time favorite song? There are way too many. I'm going to go with my fave from High School. When I hear it, I feel young and a wee bit wild. T'Pau's one hit wonder - Heart and Soul
2. What song best describes you? 32 Flavors and Then Some - Ani DiFranco
3. What song can't you get out of your head this week? It's Not My Time - Three Doors Down
4. What song or CD do you own, but are embarrassed about? I know I'm supposed to divulge a secret Hanson or Jonas Brothers stash, but I don't have one!
What about you?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
"Here is something that I have always wondered. Do we have the ability to make choices or are they already predestined? For example, when you are offered the choice between two paths, is there in reality only once choice that you must make? You can try to think it through but in the end the path you chose is always the path chosen for you."
This struck a chord with hk: "Just have to tell you Greg C. I think about that a lot."
And Kristen wrote: "Greg C. has an AWESOME question!!! I always wonder do I really have any control over decisions, or am I just following along someone else's predetermined path for me? That's deep..."
I must not be very deep, because I don't think I get it. I mean, there's cause and effect, right? If I turn right at the bottom of the hill I'll end up in Hollywood. If I turn left, I'll end up in the Valley. Cause and effect.
Do you guys mean that we're fooling ourselves if we think we're making any choices at all? That Fate is merely going to get us where we're supposed to go? How does that work? Let's say Fate decides I'm supposed to win my Printz Award for my fabulous YA novel, but I chose not to do the work? Then how's that going to happen?
Or are you saying that things are meant to be a certain way? That in the end you end up where you're supposed to be no matter which road you take?
I'm totally lost. Greg C., hk, Kristen and anybody else who has a grip on the concept, will you please decode the destiny question for me?
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Last night, among other things, like Cowgirl Camp and Rainbow Parties, we discussed great novel openings. We read the first sentence from Mario Puzzo's The Godfather, "Amergio Bonsera sat in New York Criminal Court number three and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her."
Frankly, the majority of us didn't feel compelled to move on.
Then we read from John Irving's, The World According to Garp. "Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater."
That got me. I wanted to know how she wounded him. And why.
We talked about what makes a great opening and I thought about my favorite. In YA circles, it's a little bit of a no-brainer, the example that's often given. But I know that in the bookstore, I read the following opening line and that line only, and then bought the book.
"It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate and a stomachache."
That's from Laurie Halse Anderson's award winning YA novel Speak.
I woke up still thinking about novel openings and since a lot of you are big readers, I'm wondering, what are some of your favorite book openings and why did they grab you?
Friday, March 20, 2009
I'l kick it off:
1. What is one food could you not live without? Cheeseburgers.
2. What one person could you not live without? My mom.
3. What do you do when you can't fall asleep? Try to avoid negative thoughts.
4. What super power would you have? Fight evil.
5. What one thing would you change about yourself? I'm trying to make better decisions.
6. Have you ever lived in a country other than where you were born? If so tell us about it, if not do you want to/would you? No. I haven't. But living somewhere else sounds fabulous.
7. What is your first memory as a child? Playing with David and Lisa Mockover at 4 years old.
8. What comfort food reminds you of "home" or being a kid? Special Spaghetti.
9. What's your favorite vacation? Why? Renting a beach house by myself on a cliff on the central coast in a tiny town where there's nothing to do but stare at the ocean and write.
10. Where do you just have to visit/travel to before you die? Everywhere.
All right. You're up! Wanna play?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
What intriguing inquiries would you like to share?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
And I'm glad I did. My friend Jimmy played an acoustic U2 tribute. I walked in to "A Sort of Homecoming" and reminded myself to dig out those old CDs. Then an Irish band played traditional Irish music, complete with strings. People danced in crazy hats, green sparkles and lots of shamrocks.
I really enjoyed the celebratory feel to it all.
Did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? If so, how?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Let me break this down for all of you who are not writers.
The Newbery Medal is an award "given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."
It's not usually awarded to mainstream contemporary fiction, which is what I write.
So I have always envisioned receiving a Printz Award, an annual award in the U.S. for a book that "exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature."
I figure that's a little more attainable. I've never even contemplated a Newbery. It's so out of reach. It's like the zillion dollar lottery ticket that's never going to be in your pocket or the seven figure bidding war when all you wanted was a book deal.
I've made major decisions based on attainability. Like when I chose a writing major over a vocal major, because in the long term, I knew I had a better chance of making money at writing than making it as a rockstar. I've gone for certain jobs based on whether or not I knew I could get them. Don't get me wrong, I aim high, but usually within reach.
When have you aimed high and actually hit the stars?
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I posted a bulletin board on the wall that faces my desk. Every morning and throughout the day when I'm working and writing, I see the Printz Award seal I enlarged, printed out and posted, the NY Times Bestseller list on which I cut and pasted my novel into the #1 slot, and business cards of people I'd like to work with, etc.
Maybe we can help each other increase our positive powers. What tools do you use to visualize your future or trigger positive thoughts? Notes? Reminders? Quotes?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
So Stacie, who had always dreamed of being on The Price is Right, decided that she was going to get on the show and win a range.
She talked about it every day for weeks. "You just wait and see, Suzanne! I'm gonna win a range!" She'd call home and talk to family and friends. "I'm gonna be on The Price is Right and I'm gonna win a range!"
She announced it. Repeated it. Went on and on and on about it.
We thought she was nuts.
At the time, Margie was scheduled to visit and our buddy Matthew agreed to join us, because why not? He'd be up at 4:00 AM anyway. So, in the dark, on a stifling summer morning, we crept out of the house and joined the masses in line to be on The Price is Right.
We waited and waited and waited while Stacie told everyone in line that she was going to win a range. She told the interviewers, the people from Germany (who didn't speak English) and the group of old ladies in matching sweatshirts from Florida.
As we sat in line forever, I complained about being tired, hungry and hot.
She kept repeating, "You just wait and see Suzanne! This is all going to be worth it! I'm gonna win a range!"
We finally got into the theatre. The music played and the crowd cheered and suddenly the announcer said, "Stacie Schifino is the next contestant on The Price is Right! COME ON DOWN!!!"
The four of us jumped all over each other. Stacie ducked out of our huddle, ran down the aisle and put her bid in on a tennis bracelet. Ding! Ding! Ding! She won it! She barreled up on stage, leapt on Bob Barker and nearly knocked the poor man down.
After he got his bearings, he said, "Stacie, today you're going to play The Clock Game. Do you know how to play The Clock Game?"
She squealed, "YES!"
"Good," Bob said. "Because YOU have a chance to win this BRAND NEW RANGE!"
And the showcase doors slid back and revealed a brand new range.
Stacie screamed, pointed one hand at me, the other at the range and yelled, "Suzanne! A range! I'm gonna win a range!"
Matthew, Margie and I stared at each other. Jaws dropped.
And she won it.
The thing is that it was 1995. Way before The Secret, and all this hooha about The Law of Attraction. But now that I think about it, 14 years later. Stacie envisioned herself on The Price is Right, winning the range we needed. She believed it. Professed it. Chanted it.
And it happened.
This is a great example of how telling yourself that you're going to do something and envisioning it makes it happen. So I wonder, when have you had success using the Law of Attraction?
Friday, March 13, 2009
K looked my way and said, "I don't eat olives either."
"Really, why not?" I asked.
"I just don't like them," she said.
"I ate too many and threw up once," I said. "I also don't like uni because of the texture and I think mangoes taste like body odor."
"I don't like avocado because of the texture," H chimed in.
And right then, like magic, the question of the day was born.
What foods don't you eat and why?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I unplug the washer and dryer when they're not in use. If I'm not reading under my reading lamp it's not plugged in. The TV in my bedroom hasn't been plugged in since last summer. My showers are shorter. I don't drive as much and the idea of going to a movie, play or concert is laughable.
Clearly, I have made changes. But there's one thing I can't give up. And that's eyebrow waxing. I may be broke, but I don't need to look like I'm broke. And overgrown facial hair not only looks bad, it makes me feel bad. And I'm trying my best not to feel bad.
It's $10. (God bless those girls at the hole in the wall salon.) $10 I'm willing to spend to maintain my sanity and my sass.
What's one luxury you just won't part with?
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
When other friends of friends kept moving from the east coast, we expanded our Hollywood hangout to include the house next door, which had a pool. And every Saturday morning, the 10 of us could be seen from the apartment buildings' balconies above, lying out poolside, in bikinis, blasting Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill."
We threw ridiculous parties. Cheered each other on for auditions. Listened to each other's worries. We ate family dinner together every Monday night. We took long drives, exploring LA, played Questions around the pool, and yes, we sometimes fought over guys.
And every once in a while, we went skinny dipping.
The flats of Hollywood can get stifling hot. You'd think that breezes have been banned there. We didn't have air conditioning. And on summer nights it was hard to breathe and impossible to sleep. So after the first splash, a chorus of cannonballs usually resounded.
Living there was the best time I've ever had.
What was your favorite living situation?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
There. I said it. Announced it to the whole wide world.
Crap, crap, crap.
So, I'm going to go for a walk. I'm going get my blood pumping and think positive thoughts while I look at the trees, the hills, and the animals. I'm gonna shake it off.
What do you do to shake off a crappy mood?
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Yes, that's the one. Pride in my stride. The way to create that is to spring forward and finish my revision. Soon. Very soon.
How will you spring forward?
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Now that's love.
What's the biggest thing you've ever done for love?
Friday, March 6, 2009
Next week's pot is worth $500.
If I won the $500, I would pay the DWP, the Gas Company, Direct TV and my cell phone bill. Boring? Yep. Helpful? YES.
If you won the $500, what would you do with it?
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I grabbed a napkin, pulled a pen from my purse and began to scribble out his words.
"Like you're ever going to find that napkin again," Ron said, laughing.
"She does this every night. You should see the lists she wakes up with," H replied.
It's true. Wherever I go, I constantly jot down notes. In the morning, I discover bar tabs, napkins, business cards and coasters covered in scrawl. After all, you never know what might make a good question.
So today's question is brought to you by Ron. What if you were a fruitfly and you only had three days to live? What would you do?
I'd throw a three day party with my family and friends. Like a wedding gone astray. Really astray...
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I met her when I was 10. I had braces, frizzy hair and desperately needed to wear a bra. She was blonde, tall and lean and she could dance. We'd put on shows for my mom's friends when they had dinner parties. She'd whip around the living room to songs off the Flashdance soundtrack while I belted them out.
When we got to highschool, my braces came off and I learned that the best way to wear curly hair is to let it go its own way. She stood taller, bolder and danced her way through every party in town.
We worked the same shifts at a hair salon, scrubbing heads. Rinsing perms. Washing out color. All the while she watched, picking up tricks and tips.
When our hearts got stomped on, we helped each other pick them up, rearrange the pieces and carefully put them back together.
Whether sneaking out her window late at night, throwing parties when our parents were away or going after the wrong guys, we usually sought out trouble as a team.
And when she became a hair stylist and began working in a NJ salon, I fled to college in Boston. I met new people and learned new things, but always came home for porch talk and late night rounds of questions with the one person who already knew all my answers.
And even though we've lived on opposite coasts for the last 15 years, not much has changed between us. The slightest shift in the way she stands tells me she's upset about something. I immediately know whether or not she likes or dislikes someone upon meeting them. And she can read my mind when I'm pulling my straightest poker face.
We've been through breakdowns, deaths, divorce, illness, and other things I don't dare type out. We don't always agree and sometimes we even fight. But she is a forever friend.
Do you have a forever friend?
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
He wrote back, "Ask people what they wear when no one is around and they are certain no one will drop by."
As I looked down at my hot pink jammie pants with red and white polka dots, my white fuzzy slippers, red thermal shirt and red hoodie and reached up to feel the frizzy knot of hair I'd piled on top of my head before bed the night before, I realized that Christian is a genius.
So what do you wear when no one is around and you're certain no one will stop by?
P.S. - Thank you Christian!
Monday, March 2, 2009
She rolled her eyes at him and snapped, "Really?"
He attempted to smile said, "Well, yes, really, it's my seat."
In an effort to be helpful, JL, next to him, leaned over to the girl and said, "You know, some tables just opened up outside if you'd like to sit."
She shot up, wacked her purse against the table, yanked her hoodie off N's chair, huffed a "Whatever!" and stood four feet away from us, kind of hovering, for the next hour or so.
So when N and JL stepped out again, she sat in his chair again. Then she actually slid JL's chair around the table's end and put it opposite her so her friend could face her. The other four of us at the six top stared at each other.
I leaned into her, gave my most gracious smile and said, "Seriously. They just stepped out. They'll be back in two minutes."
She rolled her eyes at me.
I turned to my friends and said, "Am I gonna have to get all Jersey on this chick?"
C's eyes bulged. M's shoulders haunched and JC giggled, anticipating the upcoming drama.
The guys returned, stopped and stared.
N walked up to the girl and said, "Hi. Can I have my seat back?"
She rolled her eyes again. (Which I must say is the biggest third grade move I've seen since third grade.) Then she blurted, "No!"
In an attempt to be patient, he said, "This is ridiculous. This is my seat."
She started yelling and finally he told her to get out of the chair in a less polite manner. And finally, she did and went straight downstairs to complain to a manager.
We were dumbfounded. I'd never seen anything like it. And she didn't seem drunk, she just seemed mean.
And maybe I'm naive or maybe just a hermit, but I rarely encounter mean people. My friends and I talked about this and stunningly, to me anyway, N thinks the population is 70% mean, 30% nice. JC thought it was more like the opposite, 70% nice, 30% mean. I told them I felt like people are 95% nice and 5% mean.
They looked at me like I'm a moron.
So I want to know, how often do you encounter the mean? What kind of mean to nice ratio does your world offer up?
Sunday, March 1, 2009
When these days come, all I want to do is drive. I love to get in the car, take the top down, blast music and sing my guts out as I wind up Mullholland or coast along the PCH.
Driving is a family thing. My father loves to drive. He'll spend entire days cruising around wine country, snaking through vineyards on windy, tiny roads. When my father was growing up, my grandfather would gather his family on his rare days off and they'd drive through Pennsylvania farm country.
My Granny also craved the road and drove until she was 89. She said it cleared her mind. And her daughter, my Aunt Rosemary, also drives when she needs to ponder something. Often ending up parked at the beach, consulting the ocean for its opinion.
It's a Casamento thing.
What are some family behaviors that you've latched on to?