Mistress of the Universe

Just for the sake of clarification (which I shouldn’t need, because if I was half a writer, I’d have been clear enough), the title of this post is in no way related to Mistress TO the Universe, which would mean something else entirely.  I simply wanted to express the female form of “Master of the Universe”. 

I got an R yesterday.  (R is for Rejection.  Let’s see Sue Grafton write that book.)  It was a good R (yes, there is such a thing) but it was an R nonetheless, and it broke my heart for all of 15 minutes.  After years of continued self-flagellation, I’ve trained myself to permit a pity party of 15 minutes after the receipt of an R, and then I have to go on with my life.  Knowing I had a limited window of time in which to feel sorry for myself, I packed a whole lot of misery into 15 minutes.  I doubted myself as a writer and as a human with a contribution to make in this world (other than the production of 2 kids and a few tons of stuff in the landfill).  Even though I’d sworn last night I’d stay “dry”–I had a vodka and lemonade every day of the weekend, but I didn’t write; alcohol pre-empts any attempt to write anything more comprehensive than a grocery list–I was sorely tempted to break that oath just to let my wounded psyche back away from the problem.  But I was good.  I didn’t do it.

The odd thing was that after the 15 minutes was over, I refocused myself.  I sat down in front of the computer—“pushed myself in front of it like it was an oncoming train” is probably more accurate—and opened Worlds Apart, went over the first scene and slashed away.  I think the result is much tighter—and may never need revision again—so I’ve posted it in the Worlds Apart tab.  I set to work on that scene with such intense focus that I felt like I was someone else.  Someone better, smarter, and stronger.

It made me realize, I haven’t been going about this the right way.  I’ve played it confident when it comes to the submissions I have out there, but I have yet to tell myself I’m a writer.  JR Ward, at the NJ conference, said anyone who’s set pen to paper with the intention of writing a book, and then completing that task, can call herself a writer.  Until now, I’ve thought I’m everything but.  Last night I decided yes, I am a writer.  I’m also a tech analyst (or whatever my paid title is these days), a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a yarn addict.  (“Crocheter and knitter” doesn’t have the same compactness.)

I’ve come to the conclusion, while my bipolar disorder is swinging on the high side, that I will see myself as a Mistress of the Universe.  I am in control of my life and my future, and what I’m not in control of, didn’t matter much anyway.  I will hold my head high and proclaim myself worthy of whatever I choose.  I am a writer.  Writing stories that people  enjoy reading is a facet of my Destiny.  It is unavoidable, and it is a challenge I look forward to taking on.

I am Mistress of the Universe, and I am in control.


Babies on Board

Good grief, not me!  🙂  I found this on the local news station’s website yesterday and I’ve been addicted ever since.  The Franklin Institute has installed a camera over a pair of nesting red-tail hawks, and I spent half of the afternoon watching.  I assume it’s the mama sitting on the hatchlings while the daddy goes out for food (and he brought back a mouse last night; eww), but when she got up and the two babies poked their fuzzy little heads up, I almost cried for joy.  I did scream to Ryan, “Get down here, now!”  Poor kid, he probably thought he was in trouble. 

I have the site up on my computer again today, and I plan on checking in on them once in a while, hoping for a peek to make sure the hatchlings are doing well.  One could lift its head and demand food, but the other could barely raise its head, though it did move around the nest a little.  It just amazes me how resilient animals can be.  These birds’ ancestors probably nested out in the wild, but these guys managed to make a home for themselves in the heart of Philadelphia.  Gotta love it!


Life is Still Good

Yesterday was a good day.  I got through my appointments (Alex’s IEP got me excited for the possibilities next year!) and came home to this video, which, if you haven’t seen it by now–and I can’t fathom that at this point–you should see it.  Granted, she’s had this talent all along and hidden it for 47 years, but if she can get up on a stage and turn people’s minds around by singing like this, anything is possible.  (Not to mention, I love that song.)

My friend Robin (writing as Hope Ramsay) found out she’s a semifinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest.  If you haven’t read her entry yet, you want to, believe me, and if you have read it, PLEASE go to the site and leave a comment so she can move on to the next round.  She’s a fantabulous writer and she’s my friend, and I’m thrilled for her!  (Did I also mention she’s a Golden Heart finalist?)

It was Tax Day but we already filed our taxes, so there was no sweat on my brow yesterday!

Then I opened the mail and found my mammogram report came back “normal”.  (What’s “normal” these days?)  Considering I had a biopsy last year that scared the ever-loving cr*p out of me, this is BIG.  On the other hand, I took the entire event and wrote it into a scene in “Worlds Apart”, where Luke is finally able to make contact with Kate while she’s under anesthesia.  Once in a while I go back to read that scene, to remember how scared I was.  Freddie Krueger has nothing on the OR in Montgomery Hospital.  (The staff was wonderful, but there’s nothing like being strapped to a narrow strip of a table in an oversized refrigerator while personal parts of your anatomy are exposed to the world.)

With all that good news behind me, just wait.  If I thought yesterday was a good day, just wait ’til we see what today has in store!

Harry is “Outtahere”

The incomparable Harry Kalas passed away today.  Being someone who pays attention to words, I’ve noticed how everyone’s been saying, “Harry Kalas passed away,” not “Harry Kalas died.”  It’s just too hard to think of him being gone, so “passed away” seems the easiest way to put it, and for Harry, it just fits. 

I feel like I’ve lost my grandfather all over again, partly because Harry died the way my grandfather died:  suddenly, with no warning, and in the location he loved the most.  (For Harry it was the broadcast booth; for Grandpa, it was the garden.)  I cried most of the way to picking Ryan up, and I cried again when the radio station rebroadcast Harry’s play-by-play of the top of the 9th in Game 6 last October.  It wouldn’t be so bad but when Scott Frantzke’s voice cracked as he talked about Harry, I lost it all over again. 

Harry will be missed.  Baseball in Philadelphia (and sports, since Harry did voice-overs for NFL Films, too) will never be the same.  We’ll miss you, Harry, but we know you’ll be watching the game with Whitey, and wherever you are, we know you’re smiling. 

I took this picture at the Phillies Phestival last July.  I found it interesting—and somehow, appropriate—that sitting beside Larry Anderson in his shorts and sandals, Harry showed up in his crisp powder blue suit and white shoes.  Ever the class act.  🙂

Harry Kalas

That’s John’s hand holding the ball Harry had just signed.  It occupies a place of honor in our collection.

Maybe This IS Heaven

I’m on (so-called) vacation this week and in trying to keep off my feet for a few hours, thanks to the heel spurs (that I keep mistyping as “hell-spurs”) in my right foot, I turned on the TV and went looking for something to keep me sitting for a while.  I landed on “Field of Dreams”, which I watched for about the 300th time.  Not complaining, mind you.  🙂

It refreshed my memory where I keep getting the dialog wrong, like “I would’ve played for food money” (not “meal money”).  It also reminded me of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham.  Too many similarities to sit and type in one afternoon.  I’ll forever fear I’m him, that I had one chance, it didn’t work out, and if I’d stayed and done what I wanted to do, it would’ve been a “tragedy”.  I don’t know what that other thing is that I should be doing, and I think that’s where the biggest fear is. 

It’s all about passion.  No surprise that’s one of my all-time favorite movies, EVER.

Who’s Your Hero?

I went to Ryan’s parent-teacher conference this morning.  For the most part he got glowing reviews.  He raises his hand, he answers questions, he asks questions, and he understands how to solve problems.  Clearly I did something right, right?

His communication teacher (BIG props to Mrs. Schreiber at ENMS) shared his Bio-Sketch on his personal hero, his grandmother.  I called and read this to her, then transcribed it into an email.  While I understand his logic, I can’t help but shake my head that my own efforts in his life remain unrecognized.  Read on:

BIO-SKETCH                          3/5/09
Ryan Jones
Now at sixty-five years old, my grandmother is my hero.  She is currently in Florida escaping the northern coldness.  Her name is Darlene Kempert, but I like to call her Grandma D.
The reason she is my hero is because she shows me that it is alright to make mistakes and be different.  She’s shown me this in her actions.  When I had an ear infection she told me to use a q-tip, then the doctor recommended against it.  Even when she made a mistake she did the right thing afterward, in this case she got me a hot pad to dry out my ear cannal.  Somehow I could barely open my mouth, chew, drink, or even speak because of the infection; first she gave me jelly bagels, (not a good idea) then tried easier to chew meatloaf.
So for all she’s done I say thanks Grandma D, for help with the ear infection, for letting me make cupcakes, frost them, and sprinkling them.  But most of all, thanks for paying me for working and allowing me to play on the computer.
grade:  Very Good, 20/20. 
I guess he forgot the night his fever spiked at Shriners and I had to wake up every half hour to drip an ounce of water into his mouth so the nurses didn’t have to put an IV in his jugular.  No, that wasn’t hero-worthy, but meatloaf was.  Yeah, I’ll remember that when I’m writing his college tuition check. 

Exhaustion Will Do That To You

Last night I turned into a snippy, foul-mouthed witch in spite of the fact that I’d just come home from a lovely time at the local autism support group. 

I knew it was the first of the month AND the end of the quarter, so I was prepared for the day at work to be crazy.  I was so prepared for it that I got ahead of myself and made sure everything I had to do was spot-on before my manager laid eyes on it.  By 10 I was in shock, thinking I might be ahead of the 8-ball for a change.  Wwhen the 12 noon deadline came, I got the final entry for my accrual, from the India office.  Unfortunately the analyst I usually work with was “on holiday” yesterday and today—how did she get the time off?  If I’d asked for a day off at quarter close, I’d hear the laughter from across the parking lot—and her replacement had no idea of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.  He insisted a 3-year prepaid contract could be accrued for the entire 3-year period and not for just the 6 months from the start date to the end of the quarter.  (It’s called “recognized or earned revenue.”)  I was more than just a little perturbed, and it took some doing but I managed to correct his way of thinking.  It also meant I had to double-check his numbers, which put me back behind the 8-ball again.  It also put me in an upstairs manager’s bad graces because I had to go home to get Ryan.  Apparently we’re not supposed to have lives at quarter close. 

I went home, got the boys, and fixed the lingering problems, then got my stuff together for the support group meeting.  Mind you, I got up at 5:30, worked through lunch to 2:30, got home at 3:15 and finished work at around 5.  By 5:30 I was on the road to the meeting and potluck dinner to celebrate the group leader, who’s moving at the end of the month.  (We’ll miss you, Cindi!)  We cleaned up afterward and put everything away and headed up to the meeting but by 8, my eyes were itching and I could barely sit upright.  (Not a great idea that I wound up with the rocking chair.  Zzzzz…)  I collected Alex and went home, only to find my manager had emailed questions to me at 6:48, then emailed me again at 7:12 asking a co-worker to fix things on the accrual “since I haven’t heard from you”.

John watched me go from cheerful but tired to snarling and nasty in a split-second.  He even ducked out of the kitchen. 

I managed to calm myself down (and this morning I withdrew the nastygram I mailed him last night), and around 9:20 I went to watch Lost and knit a few rows.  By 10 my eyes were drifting shut, and I was out cold by 10:30.  I haven’t slept that hard in ages, but that’s what exhaustion will do to you. 

Today’s looking slightly better, but work isn’t letting up.  And to think I still have contest entries to read and judge, but I have next week off and that makes a world of difference.

Idol Worship

I watched “Cupid” last night.  It wasn’t easy staying awake that long—I had to keep the work computer up to check for end-of-month issues, including looking for a contract needle in a haystack; I baked and iced 2 dozen cupcakes for the potluck dinner; I did my laundry; the boys wanted to eat their dinner too; and I found a scrumptious recipe for parmesan tilapia—and at around 9:30 I seriously considered going to bed and checking out the show online today, but I couldn’t do it.  I really wanted to see how the reincarnation turned out. 

It was worth staying up for!  Sure, Bobby Cannavale isn’t Jeremy Piven, but he’s “making the character his own”, and he does a really good job.  (Watching him spinning those martini mixers made me jealous.  I can’t even juggle a checkbook.)  I was rooting him on to see that row of beads move, and when it did, it was like watching the shot Corey Fisher made to win the game for Villanova over the weekend.  Yaaaay!  Sarah Paulson wasn’t what I expected for Claire either, but she also makes it work.  It’s a mixed emotions thing, though; I loved her in “Studio 60”, so to see her in something else means there’s no chance “Studio 60” is ever coming back except on DVD.  <sniff>  But knowing I have “Cupid” to look forward to on Tuesday nights will make up for it.  Rob Thomas’s “Cupid” definitely works for me.  I couldn’t have been happier if Aaron Sorkin had produced the show.

I have two creativity idols, people whose minds are so far above my plane of thought that I could only hope to be a fraction as effective as they are at using words to evoke feelings and sensations.  (They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but they can do it in 500 or less.)  Aaron Sorkin and Diane Warren.  I still miss “Sports Nite” (there are clips on YouTube; any chance that show can be reincarnated??) and “West Wing” (I love Obama but I’d have voted for Jed Bartlet in a heartbeat, provided he brought his entire cabinet along) as well as “Studio 60”, as mentioned above.  You can’t just pull dialog like that out of your proverbial…well, you know.  The characters were brilliantly developed.  Those shows made me want to bow down to the TV set whimpering, “I’m not worthy.” 

Diane Warren’s music might lean toward the sappy romantic, but I live for that stuff.  “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”?  “Can’t Fight the Moonlight”?  “Look Away”?  “Where My Heart Will Take Me”?  Whether you’re a romantic at heart or not, how can you not love that?  I looked her up in Wikipedia and realized I don’t have half her stuff in my iTunes but when I get home (and when the Conficker virus threat has passed), that will change.  She sinks right to the heart of the issue.  She can tell an entire story in 3+ minutes the way I wish I could with an entire book.  It’s a goal to shoot for but I’ll miss the mark purely by comparison. 

At the end of Sonnet 29 is: 

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

And it reminds me, I can do this.  I may not be as good as they are, but with a lot of work and effort, maybe it’s something I can shoot for.  “Ah but a (wo)man’s reach should exceed (her) grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?”  (Thank you, Mary Brouder, for putting that in our yearbook!!)