Friday, December 31, 2010

Out With The Old, In With The New

I’ve always considered New Year’s Eve an arbitrary holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I like having the day off work (yea, I have the day off…public sector employee, remember), and I’m a sucker for all things sparkly and bubbly and filled with shredded bits of colored paper . . . but dressing to the nines and drinking ‘til you drop merely because 365 (or 366) days have passed seems so random. Kind of like the publishing industry. (Seriously, people, what lands one girl-in-love-triangle-solving-work/identity/body-image-crisis-with-the-help-of-quirky-gay/bawdy-sex-addict-best-friend story on bookstore shelves while another languishes in manuscript limbo, mocking you every time you fire up the ol’ laptop?) Despite my existential misgivings (Because, yea, I go there…why even have a calendar year? Isn’t every day essentially the same? Why even have days? If a blog is posted and nobody reads it, was it ever written?), I kinda like the idea of a New Year. Of giving in to the illogical notion that the act of opening a fresh calendar has real meaning. That the slate is wiped clean come midnight. It’s a Jedi mind trick, to be sure, but one I’m embracing with gusto this year. Rather than dwell on my anemic daily word count and the fact that I’m still not published (and all the other personal failings I won’t bore you with…you should see the refrigerator still sitting in the middle of my kitchen after 6 months), I’m choosing to let it go. To exhale fully when the clock chimes 12. Because only then can I breathe in the fresh, creative, hopeful air of 2011. I’m guessing it smells like rainbows and unicorns. Wishing you a year filled with your own brand of awesome. Catch ya in the double-ones.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All We Want For Christmas

When I was but a wee girl, my mom would bring home the big fat JCPenney catalog each year lo around early November. (Check out some sweet shots from the 1976 catalog. I was a fetus, of course.) I’d spend hours flipping through the pages while drinking fresh-pressed apple cider and eating homemade spice cake in front of the fire. Okay, so maybe I actually sprawled on our green shag carpet drinking store-bought egg nog and eating Vienna sausages from the can (don’t judge me–we all did it), but the catalog part is true. I’d make my Christmas wish list by marking items with one, two or three stars (depending on their desirability) in between sneaking peeks at the lingerie section when my mom wasn’t looking.

Like most adults, I stopped making a Christmas wish list at some point—probably around the time I realized my three star items included a washing machine I didn’t have to start with a screwdriver and a holiday without one of my kids on antibiotics. But I miss those days spent with the JCPenney catalog—when you couldn’t simply click a mouse and have anything delivered overnight, when a dickie was a perfectly viable clothing option, when the Carpenters ruled the Christmas airwaves and that offensive Christmas Shoes song didn’t exist. So, in honor of those times, we are making a Christmas wish list this year—a writer’s Christmas wish list. This is what Kris and I would like to find under the tree Christmas morning:

1. A sequel to One Day by David Nicholls titled The Next Day: J/K, It Wasn't Emma On The Bike; It Was Really That Asshat Dexter

2. Some sort of device that allows us to go to the bathroom without leaving the computer. A Stadium Pal for women, if you will. Because you always have to pee just about the time you finally get into a writing groove. It's a law of nature.

3. A computer program that reads our otherwise brilliant sentences and fills in the brackets.

4. You know the Deluminator? That thing that Dumbledore gave to Ron Weasley? It looks like a pen and when Ron clicks it, he can extinguish or create light? I want one of those. But for apostrophes. (I’m coming for you, first, Sacramento International Airport. What do you mean “Shuttle Drivers’ may not assist passengers with their bag’s?”)

5. A kit that takes all the words we write each day on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, IMs, and e-mails, and converts them to useful prose for our various novels. Can you imagine the boost in daily word count?

6. For the various Dictionary Powers-That-Be to stop (for the love of all that is good and beautiful in the world, stop) adding made-up words to the dictionary. Turducken?! Really?! And don't tell me to chillax.

7. Pat Conroy's South of Broad rewritten with a modicum of meangingful character development and without the sociopath father/serial killer/rapist/pedophile/foreboding nail polish-graffiti artist. (Yea, you read that right...nail polish-graffiti artist) Still love you Pat, but that was wrong.

8. A Mucinex-like pill for writer's block. Literally hacking up the block seems like a great solution.

9. Grammar Girl as my new next door neighbor. We'll drink wine, she'll mentor me, and under the dark cover of night we'll enact vigilante justice on rogue apostrophes everywhere. (And because, really, any girl who calls grammar tips "quick and dirty" is okay in my book!)

10. An audio recording of 6-8 Black Men by David Sedaris. If you know it, ‘nuff said. If you don’t, Merry Christmas. (It's in three parts, but TOTALLY WORTH YOUR TIME . . . though I can't vouch for the homemade video images)

Happy Holidays to you and yours!!