Thursday, September 30, 2010

Question of the Day #703

Let's say someone gave you a fat gift certificate to your favorite bookstore. Awesome, right?

What would be the first five books you'd pick out?


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Question of the Day #702

"That girl gets around like a record," said G.

"He said he'd never get married. Then he folded like a beach chair," said J.

There are some very funny people around me, always coming up with good one liners.

Have you heard any good one-liners lately?


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Question of the Day #701

This question has been plucked straight from a series of messages between me and Carlos.

Carlos: "I just read a piece on The Daily Beast about the founder of Facebook. It was written by one of his classmates and it comes in the wake of the new movie The Social Network, which doesn't represent the guy in a very flattering light. It made me wonder if all these gadgets and communication devices we have now hurts us as a society or helps us.

Personally it's a mixed bag for me. I love being able to communicate with someone like you from a couple hundred miles away, but are we losing the personal touches of talking to someone face to face? I saw a MTV "True Life" episode that was about being too attached to your technical device or something like that. It was sad to see how these young people in relationships would ignore each other over their blackberry's, xboxs, and social networks. What do you think?"

Me: "Excellent question! Thank you! I will use it on QOTD. I haven't personally known any young people ignoring each other over technology, but I have seen a couple Oprahsodes that showed families who are constantly texting or playing video games and are challenged to unplug. When they do, they discover each other.

You and I weren't brought up that way, so we know to put away our cells when we're socializing with other people. But I can see how young people would have different boundaries. Interesting stuff."

So, bloggers, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Do all these gadgets and communication devices help us or hurt us?


Monday, September 27, 2010

Question of the Day #700

7oo Questions. Wow. And we're still having fun!

Anyhoo, did I mention that summer finally came to So Cal? I'm so happy that really bad things, like my car dying, can't kill my mood. I'm like a happy balloon. Unpoppable. Unstoppable.

That's right. Pump up the temperature, add some serious sunshine and I'm elated.

What elevates you to unpoppable, unstoppable heights?


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Question of the Day #699

Last night, H and I stumbled across some crazy stuff. We walked through a sandbox of giant moving hands.We headed towards the ocean through a suspension bridge of glow sticks.

We watched as the faces of singers "mooning" over karaoke were projected into the sky. Last night, in Santa Monica, a series of art installations comprised a massive party on the beach called "Glow."

The wacky art in motion was really cool. Weird. Cool. We loved it. Thousands of other people did too. Apparently, the party lasted until 3:00 AM.

We were kind of amazed that this sort of event was even taking place. Streets were blocked off. The beach was a free for all. Over 200,000 people were expected.

Overall, the whole thing was sort of crazy. But again, cool.

What crazy cool things take place in your neck of the woods?


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Question of the Day #698

You know how I've been complaining about how cold it's been? That the cloudy weather has been so depressing. That Summer never came to So Cal?

Guess who's here?!

That's right. Summer! She got to town on Thursday, heated up Friday and brought the most perfect sunshiny, blue-skied Saturday ever. And she's supposed to stay through Tuesday!


What extraordinary thing is taking place around you?


Friday, September 24, 2010

Question of the Day #697

Yesterday, I attended a funeral. During the burial service, loved ones played keyboards, guitar and bongos. They read poems, sang and danced by the gravesite in celebration of the dear friend who died.

It was beautiful and very much a celebration of her life.

In what unique ways have you seen a life celebrated?


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Question of the Day #696

I just perused my bank activity. It looks like this: supermarket, supermarket, bill, gas, supermarket, supermarket, supermarket, bill.

I know I'm just one person. But I love food and I love to cook.

Where does all your money go?


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Question of the Day #695

The search function on my blog is one of my favorite things. When I brainstorm questions, I search keywords to ensure that I haven't already asked something.

I just searched, "What's your favorite?" and discovered that so far we've discussed our favorite fruits, trees, colors, animals, ice cream, seasons, Christmas movies, board games, cookies, electronic devices, places to read, one hit wonders and so much more.

Do you have a current favorite something that you'd like to praise?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Question of the Day #694

A fat bolt just fell out of the desk chair I'm sitting in. I turned the chair over and searched for where it could have come from. I have no idea. And of course, I threw out the instructions my cheap IKEA chair came with.

So the bolt is on the floor and I am in my chair. For now.

What instructions have you thrown away that you wished you kept?


Monday, September 20, 2010

Question of the Day #693

Yesterday's book club met at Skylight Books, which is a supercool independent bookstore. We ate delicious brownies and discussed Albatross by Josie Bloss.

Albatross is a twisted story about a love triangle, but more so, about how someone can get in your head and convince you that you're worth less than you are. We book clubbers agreed that the message was an important one, especially for teens. Josie Bloss does an amazing job of subtly creating the most uncomfortable moments where as a reader, you're cheering for the MC, Tess, to walk away, but knowing that honestly, as painful as it is, she won't. And that most other kids wouldn't either.

It's through a skillfully crafted series of those moments and warnings from that little voice in her head that she's finally done.

Tess's parents were so well drawn. That's a really hard thing to do as YA writer because the focus is on the teen and parents are so...secondary in the teenage world. The mother in this book was thoughtful, smart, realistic and believable. And I really admired how Bloss wrote the father. She did an excellent job of showing how Tess's history with her father created an opportunity for another abuser to slide right in and manipulate her. He was realistic and cutting but it never hammered us over the head. A perfect blend of subtly and cruelty.

The combination of a great read and meeting smart, fun readers made book club totally awesome.

So, what are you reading?


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Question of the Day #692

This afternoon, I'm going to attend my first book club meeting. Considering all the reading I do, it's funny that this is the first book club I've ever been in. I'm excited to celebrate books!

Have you ever been in a book club? If so what did you like about it?


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Question of the Day #691

I'd like to do a little market research regarding market research.

I just filled out an online survey about my last travel experience. It took about 10 minutes and was fairly painless. But I did wonder whether or not my "additional comments" section, where I typed in what annoyed me, would actually be read and considered.

And because I questioned whether or not my input would actually impact the company's processes and / or services, I questioned why I was actually spending 10 minutes on the survey. Unlike my supermarket, which invites shoppers to fill out a survey and then enters them in a drawing for a $100 gift card, this company offered me nothing for my time.

Which gave me pause. I mean, do I have get something in order to give my feedback?


So, how do you feel about surveys? Do you fill them out?


Friday, September 17, 2010

Question of the Day #690

YA Writer, Amy Spalding, invited me to join a book club. The first meeting is coming up and the read is Albatross by fellow kt literary client, Josie Bloss.

In the Acknowledgements, Bloss thanked her mom for saying, "Don't have a wishbone where your backbone ought to be."

That's been stuck in my head for a week.

What quote has resonated with you lately?


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Question of the Day #689

It’s like this
I ease my bedroom door open
The air conditioner hums as I step into the still hallway
Through the darkness, I reach for the railing
And tread down the carpeted stairs
Skip the third
And the fifth
Lean to the right

At the back door
The house holds its breath as I pull on the knob and step outside
Crickets sing as my feet meet the smooth slate, still warm from the day
I tiptoe
Until I reach the neighbor’s lawn

Dew splatters my ankles as I burst into a run
Down the street
To the next
And the next
Pebbles dig into my soles
But I keep running
Heart pumping
Flesh tingling
Giggles rising

Headlights beam through the trees
So I duck behind a hedge
Catch my breath
And start again

Racing through the warm summer night
To get to you

What's better than summer love?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Question of the Day #688

Last night, H and I babysat K. (Total tangent: That read like an alphabet book, didn't it?)

We played with walkie talkies and ran around as K protected us from monsters.

"Ahhhhhh! I'm killing the monsters!" K yelled. A lot.

"Save us! Please save us!" H and I squealed.

"BAM!" K karate kicked the air.

Suddenly the floor vibrated with bass and a booming beat. The three of us stared at each other as concert-loud music shook the apartment.

"I think the neighbors don't like our game," I said.

"Let's play something quieter," H suggested.

"Who wants to talk about wii?" K asked. "Raise your hand!"

H and I raised our hands, marveling that the neighbors had really just super sonically blasted hip hop to shut us up.

How do you deal with neighbors when they annoy you?


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Question of the Day #687

I met with my critique group last night. I'd sent them the first few pages of the story I've been researching. As always, they brought up excellent questions. What's the bigger secret? Why is M able to see the things she sees?

Excellent questions. Questions I don't have answers to right now. And that's okay. Sometimes you just have to get your butt in the chair and trust that the answers to the questions will present themselves, right?

(A resounding "right!" would really boost my confidence right about now.)

What questions are you waiting for answers to?


Monday, September 13, 2010

Question of the Day #686

After just one night in Jersey, the "aw" in talk, walk and call snuck back into my speech.

And after spending a week with my mother, yesterday, when I entered a bathroom and saw myself in a mirror, I caught myself walking like her. My laugh also sounded similar and my hands gestured like hers.

I didn't realize I'd been picking up on that stuff and I was surprised when I noticed.

Who have you found yourself emulating lately?


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Question of the Day #685

Yesterday, as I sat at the airport bar watching people drag carry-on's through the terminal, I wondered if they were arriving for vacation or for business. Were they coming home after long trips? Just starting one?

"You must meet people from everywhere," I said to Susana, the pretty bartender who served me a beer and buffalo wings.

"I've met some pretty amazing people." She leaned on her elbows and raised an eybrow. "I waited on Matt Damon once. And you know what's weird? He's pretty tall."

"He is? He always looks like the short one," I said.

"I know." She turned to a customer on the other side of the bar and took an order.

I thought about the time I ran into an old family friend at O'Hare in Chicago. And the time in college, when on a flight to Boston, I saw a friend from my hometown.

"Do you know who Chuck Liddell is?" Susana asked as she punched an order into the computer.

"Yes." I remembered the episode of Entourage when Chuck Liddell punks Johnny Drama and challenges him to UFC fight.

"I'm a huge fan," she said. "And one time, I saw him walk by so I ran out from behind the bar and chased him all the way to baggage claim."

She tapped her long nails on her cell phone, then showed me a picture of her and Chuck.

"I had to get my picture taken with him," she said.

I laughed.

"That's awesome," I said. I pulled out my notebook and started writing.

As I paid my tab, I handed Susana my card and told her about The Question of the Day. I asked if it would be okay to write about her.

"Sure, I'll totally read it," she said.

"Excellent. Thanks!" I said and walked towards my gate.

And just like that, another airport connection was made. What airport connections have you made?


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Question of the Day #684

Yesterday, I made a new friend. This is Skylark. She lives at Liberty Hill Farm in Vermont. She's a milking cow.

On the farm, I met calves, heifers, bulls and milking cows. I watched them graze, laze, get fed and milked. I learned that every other day, Cabot Cheese picks up the milk to make cheese with.

I loved it.

My Vermont visit has been like one giant, super fun field trip.

What "field trip" have you taken lately?


Friday, September 10, 2010

Question of the Day #683

"Mommy, where does ice cream come from?" I asked repeatedly, only about three summers ago, until my mother finally took me to Ben and Jerry's for a factory tour.

At the factory, we watched a moo-vie about how Ben and Jerry took a simple idea and turned it into a thriving business. Then we got to stand over the production room and watch as pints were filled with crunchy, fruity, chocolaty goodness. We learned about the Testers, whose job is to taste Ben and Jerry's creations all day long.

While I seriously contemplated a career change, I noticed that every once in a while a pint was chopped in half and someone examined it to make sure that the ice cream to chunky goodness ratio was on target.

The whole thing was fascinating. So, for the last few days I've been following my mother around asking, "Mommy, where does milk come from?"

She got the hint. Today we're going to visit a dairy farm and I'm super excited to peek at the inner workings of the dairy industry.

What inner machine have you had the privilege of learning about?


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Question of the Day #682

While enjoying the view from my parents' mountain porch, my mother and I poured over her high school yearbook.

"This guy drives a 'hot 67 Chevy'." I pointed to the blurb underneath a classmate's picture.

"And his favorite phrase was 'for crying out loud'," My mom said.

"Ooo! I'm writing down all the slang. What else did people say?" I asked.

"'Get serious!' 'You better believe it!' 'I amost care.''' She shrugged sarcastically at the last phrase.

"Hilarious," I said.

"What are you? Some kind of nut?" She said.

"Huh?" I asked. "Am I acting nutty?"

"No. That's what Luisa used to say." My mom pointed at the yearbook where the phrase was highlighted.

"Ohhhh." I laughed and continued note taking.

Now I have my own fabulous little slang dictionary full of 60's phrases.

So, what phrases did you use in high school? And are they still "cool"?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Question of the Day #681

As we pulled out of the airport parking lot, my mother said, "Oh! I have a great cemetery to take you to."

"Really?" I asked. "What's it like?"

"It's down a long gravel road, next to a river. The headstones are really old. You're gonna love it," she said.

"Awesome," I said.

Then I laughed.

"How crazy do we sound right now?" I asked.

"What do you mean?" She asked and giggled.

The new project I keep referring to involves a cemetery in a small town. Since those aren't easy to find in LA, Mom found one in Vermont. So last night, after dinner, we grabbed a camera and a flashlight and drove down a dark, tiny lane to the cemetery.

Headstones marked deaths from the 1753 - 2008, sadly including many children. Water rushed by on three sides of the plot, where multiple rivers met. Ferns sprouted from the mossy grass.

Surprisingly, it wasn't creepy. The cemetery felt peaceful. And I wondered if the cemetery in my new book should also feel serene.

So much to think about.

What strange things have you done for research?


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Question of the Day #680

My new project takes place in the early 60's. So yesterday my mom and I discussed key events of that time.

"Kennedy got elected and Chubby Checker did The Twist," I said.

"Yes, and every Sunday night, we'd gather in front of the television and watch the Ed Sullivan Show. It was an event."

"I'll have to include that," I said.

"I still remember the night Elvis appeared," she said. "My mother and father were so appalled! They couldn't get over the vulgarity of his gyrating."

I giggled.

"What?" she asked.

"It's like that with every generation. Remember when Madonna did 'Like a Virgin' in a wedding dress?"

"I was so upset!" she said.

"And what about when George Michael released 'I Want Your Sex'?"

"That was horrible!"

I laughed.

"And how about when I was reading Judy Blume's Forever and you found out 'Ralph' was not a person?"

"Oh my god," she said and groaned.

"Exactly," I said.

What pop culture appalled you or your parents?


Monday, September 6, 2010

Question of the Day #679

I'm too tired to pretend to be creative today.

What are you too tired for?


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Question of the Day #678

This morning, after breakfast, the groom offered a Listerine breath strip to his nephew. B hesitated and put the strip in his mouth.

"Put it on your tongue. It'll dissolve," said the groom.

B moved his tongue around. The breath strip wrapped around his front tooth, turning it green. With a puzzled look on his face, B put a napkin to his mouth. A tuft of napkin stuck to the green tooth.

"I don't even know what to say to you," the groom said.

His nephew struggled to get the breath strip out of his mouth while the adults at the table tried to hold our laughter in.

Hilarious as the Listerine breath strip incident was, I totally get it. If I were B, I'd be thinking, "What the heck is this thing and what is it supposed to do?"

What weird invention has you puzzled?


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Question of the Day #677

Over a tray of Cheerios, my beautiful little niece puts her hands over her eyes then pulls them away, peekaboo-ing Auntie Suzie. She wiggles in her high chair. Pushes the seat with her hands. Moves her legs around the post that holds her in.

But she's stuck. There's no escaping the high chair.

What's got you stuck?


Friday, September 3, 2010

Question of the Day #676

I asked my brother what he wants me to make for dinner and he said, "Meatballs."

So predictable.

What meal do people request when you're cooking?


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Question of the Day #675

This weekend, my friends J and T are getting married.

I love weddings.

I love getting dressed up. And the moment the groom sees the bride at the end of aisle. The excited family members. Music. Dancing. Reuniting with old friends and feeling like we just hung out last week. Tearing up during the father / daughter dance. Crying through the toasts. More dancing. Finally, piecing the night together over breakfast the next morning. (Like suddenly remembering the dance moves of the crazy guy in the picture above. And then asking, "Who was that guy?")

What do you like most about weddings?


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Question of the Day #674

Yesterday I was craving a cheeseburger. The craving started the day before, when I thwarted it with chicken, but by yesterday I had to eat a burger. So I went to the pub with E and gobbled down a delicious California burger and savored every last french fry.

When we were finished, E asked, "Do you want to play pool?"

"I can't play pool," I said.

"Yes, you can," he said.

"No, really. I'm horrible."

"When's the last time you tried?"

"I don't know. Like high school," I said.

"You might want to try again." He cocked an eyebrow at me.

"Okay, fine," I said. "But don't make fun of me."

"I won't," he said.

I sank a ball or two. I also missed most balls so ridiculously that a normal person would have laughed at me. But E didn't.

It was fun because E didn't do that thing that guys do. You know, when they tell you how you should hold a pool cue or baseball bat or golf club and say, "No, no, not like that. Like this." And all the fun of trying gets sucked out of the moment.

He just let me play. And I wasn't very good at it. But it was fun.

What have you tried lately that surprised you?