Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One Caesar Wrap with a Side of Humiliation, Please.

I know, this is like, a record number of posts for me this week—um, not counting November, where I listed my chocolate consumption every day while I was doing NaNoWriMo.

Today’s completely irrelevant and random entry is sparked by this vlog from John Green:

If you don’t know who John Green is, I would suggest you run, not walk to your nearest bookstore and buy “Looking for Alaska.” Then I would advise you head on over to the Ning and meet his brother Hank. Then I’d suggest you quickly become a Nerdfighter, because Yes: Nerdfighters are Made of Awesome.

So in this video, John is ranting about saying “Best Wishes” to someone he was talking to on the phone. He was kinda embarrassed about it because it’s not something you normally say to someone when you’re hanging up. Anyway, it reminded me of something that happened to me on Saturday.

I was eating out with my family; we were at a sandwich place and were standing in line. When it was my turn I ordered my chicken Caesar wrap or whatever it was, then the guy asked me what side item I wanted. This is how it played out:

Guy: What side?

Me: (after thinking for a moment….) Cheese.

CHEESE? What? UGH! The moment I said it I knew I sounded like such a loser. I mean, what was I thinking? That they were going to grate a pile of cheddar and sprinkle it onto my plate? That they were going to slap down a couple of slices of All-American Kraft singles? Cheese? Really?

I was So Completely Embarrassed. Once I realize what I’d said, I shook my head and said “Chips.” Because that’s what I meant. I wanted Chips. Not Cheese.

Really, you think you’re going to outgrow this stuff, and the daily mortification ends the moment you graduate high school, but it doesn’t. The guy I’m sorta married to but not allowed to talk about online has this rapidly growing list of “---isms:” stupid things I’ve said or done in his presence that he never lets me forget. Before the “cheese” incident the most recent was the night before when I pronounced “fowl” like “bowl.” What? And then there was the time we were in college, heading to a nearby town to get something to eat, and we passed a sign for a cheap motel. The rate was $39.95 but the “95” was really, really small. From a distance it looked like the 39 with a degree symbol. So I said: “I can’t believe its 39 degrees! It doesn’t feel like it!” It was night, but it was also Summer and probably more like 70/75.

These are the things I will *never* live down.

Now add to it the fact that I think Cheese is a side dish. (Sigh.)

It’s a good thing I’m a Nerdfighter and bleed “awesome,” because really, I can be *such* a dork sometimes.


Monday, February 25, 2008

An(other) Oscar Update...

Okay, since the blogosphere is completely inundated with Oscar posts today, I will quickly add my two cents’ worth, and leave it at that.

The dresses—yes, they were amazing (I agree that they were all “safe,” but generally very classy and beautiful, and yes, I covet each and every one of them).

The whole red carpet/Jennifer Garner/Gary Busey thing (check out Meg Cabot’s blog if you don’t know what I’m talking about: that was just weird. Talk about trying to extend your fifteen minutes…. Someone should’ve called security. Crazy D-listers.

Diablo Cody totally rocked it. I was so pulling for her, because really, only in America can you go from an exotic dancer to best screenwriter. I *really* hope we see more from her.

John Stewart: absolutely hilarious, as always.

So great that they brought the “Best Song” girl back to the stage to let her give her acceptance speech when the orchestra cut her off. I’m so sorry I don’t know your name: but the guy I’m sorta married to but not allowed to talk about online really digs you guys.

Also great: the slow pans to Johnny Depp. I’m also finding myself harboring this strange heroin-chic attraction to Daniel Day-Lewis.

I also thought it’s totally ironic that the A-listers were all in the front, and the people who MADE the movie—i.e. the editors and cinematographers and musicians, etc. are sent to the back of the room. It’s like: okay, so what if you made a documentary that could potentially change the world? And you know who these people were, because they had to cut to scenes from their movie/work to give them time to walk to the front. Not entirely fair, in my opinion.

One day I’d like to see George Clooney 15th row, center.

And Gary Busey: I hope you were in the third balcony. Back Row. Dude, I don’t even know how you got in….

Does anyone remember the year where those “second-rate citizens” were all in the back of the room and a microphone was set up so they didn’t even get to walk to the stage? How completely rude was that? Yeah, you just wrote best movie score, but we’d rather you give your speech to people whose backs are turned to you. I don’t know if it was the Oscars or not—but it was one of those awards shows. *So glad* they never tried *that* again. Idiots.

And was it just me—or did the Oscars seem more “global” than usual? I heard a lot of foreign accents—which is good, I suppose. I loved Javier Bardem’s acceptance speech and message to his mom. Two years of college Spanish and I didn’t understand a word he said. Sorry, Dad. Oh, I did hear the word: “trophy.” I did.

Oh, and the tribute to all the wonderful actors/writers/directors/producers who’ve passed away—that absolutely sucked. The music was all wrong, and really—Heath Ledger is worth so much more. I mean, I saw tributes on You Tube that were better than that. These people Died . . . make me cry!

So, what did I learn from all of this? Red is Good. Former strippers are full of talent and endless creative potential. And Gary Busey is psycho . . . but I think we kinda knew that already.


Friday, February 22, 2008

I. Want. To. Be. A. Loser.

Yeah, I admit it. I wanna be a loser. Now I know some people would say: Dude, you’ve so got that taken care of. Because yes, I bump into things and drop things and I’m just *so* clumsy. I subscribe to Mental Floss magazine and check the website everyday. I enjoy reading the newspaper. I’ve evolved into a trivia geek and I’m a self-described aspiring history buff. I write. I read. I teach. I’ve watched Titanic at least a hundred times…

YES. To some, I Am A Loser. . .

But that’s not the kind of loser I’m talking about. This weekend I want to be an Oscar Loser. As in: I was nominated for best supporting actress but was totally overshadowed by some over-rated over-paid Hollywood starlet . . . which now makes me: A Loser.

And I want to be a loser because of two simple words: Swag Bag.

Apparently (and I’m not up to date on the whole Oscar stuff because, face it, I haven’t been to a movie theater in almost two years), but apparently if you’re an Oscar loser you get a bunch of cool stuff.

Cool stuff like:
A trip to a California spa/resort
A $2500 diamond-encrusted dog charm
A trip to the Caribbean
A $20,000 watch

A total of $40,000 worth of goodies. Wow. Unfortunately, if you wanna take that trip to the Caribbean you have to pay for your own airfare.

So, if I found out this Sunday that yes, it’s official: I’m a loser, here’s what I’d do:

Immediately head to the California resort for my spa treatments. Come home. Sell the dog charm. Pack up the family and head to the Caribbean (airfare cash comes from the dog charm, because really, a dog who sometimes eats its own poop does NOT deserve a diamond charm on its collar). When that’s said and done: come home, sell the watch, put a down payment on an SUV and . . . go shopping.

(Sigh.) Being a loser never seemed so wonderful. And if the losers get all that great stuff, how amazing is it to actually be a Winner?

I know. And I should go into the whole “she just got paid ten million bucks to star in that movie why does she need a freakin’ watch when she can buy Rodeo Drive?” rant but I’m not. It’s true . . . but I’m not.

For now I’ll just settle on being a loser, the best way I know how, which means finishing that game of Trivial Pursuit DH and I have on hold because for the first time ever…

I’m actually winning.

Love, Leigh

P.S. Thanks for all the great comments about gardening and my black thumb! It must be a writer thing, and now I don’t feel so bad.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Flowers and Philosophy...

So it’s February, which means that my daffodils are blooming. Not MY daffodils, though, because I didn’t plant them; I only pick them—around three a week to put in a vase on my fireplace, if only to serve as a reminder that Yes, spring will be here soon. Of course, it’s 70 degrees outside today. What’s more spring-like than that?

The truth is my thumb is black. I can’t get anything to grow. And it’s sad, really, because every year around this time I go to Lowe’s and see the new seed display and think something crazy like: I really should grow my own pumpkins this year. Pumpkins? What? I know. But more than that, I love flowers. In fact, I waste between 3 and 5 dollars every year buying seeds that in the end just Do Not Grow. I don’t understand, really. I’ve even tried wildflowers—I mean, they grow from nothing on the side of the road, right?

Ha! Not for me, they don’t.

Funny how I can sit down every night for 2-3 months and end up with a 70,000 word novel, but I can’t grow sunflowers. I mean, I’m obviously not doing something right. Maybe I over-watered them? Or didn’t water them enough? Maybe I planted them too early and the cold weather killed them (yeah, it’s 70 degrees in February, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be 40 in April). Or maybe I planted them too deep . . . or not deep enough? It’s all kind of complicated, really. I know there’s this thing called “directions.” You should know that I follow them. I swear I do. That’s what baffles me.

Still, I know that in a few weeks when I head to Lowe’s I’ll see that seed display and want to try again. The same little bug bites once a year. I’ll even consider buying a potted plant—something pretty for the inside of my house. The problem is—while I can’t make the seeds GROW—in the case of potted plants I murder what was already living. And for that, I feel heinous.

What’s worse: I’m part of the lineage of a master gardener—he’s the one who planted the daffodils, I think, which is why I don’t touch them, and why I’m glad to see them return year after year. Because you know, if someone works really hard to make the world a prettier place than he found it, far be it from me to go and screw it all up. I can’t say that I don’t have fun trying (to make the world more beautiful, that is—NOT screw it up!), and I can’t say that I don’t enjoy the thoughts of what “could be,” but it does get a little disappointing year after year when I plant something and it doesn’t grow. I mean, I’d like to make the world a prettier place, too.

It just looks like, for now at least, “words” are my seeds.

Okay, I didn’t mean to go all emo or get philosophical on anyone today—maybe next time I’ll talk about Britney, or my “really” red hair and my now fluorescent roots, or about that time in high school when I used two different hair straightening products on my hair within a week, and I thought my hair was gonna fall out . . .


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Darts and Laurels

Darts: to sinus infections and stomach viruses. We’ve been sick off and on for the past month and passing it back and forth to each other. Thank God I’m feeling “normal” again (whatever that is, right?) but I wonder for how long?

Laurels: to the amazing seamstresses over at If you’ve never seen their work, check out the clothing forums. Amazing. Project Runway potential written all over them. I ENVY them. I want to BE them. Or maybe I just want the clothes they make?

Speaking of Project Runway…

Laurels: to Jill, Rami, Sweet P, Chris and Christian for rounding out the top five on Project Runway. Three of my fav’s are represented. Go me! Now I want their clothes…or to be able to Make their clothes.

And um, laurels to Ricky, who didn’t cry for like, the first time all season even though he was booted. What was up with that? He burst into tears Every Time he was questioned about his designs . . . and then later in his interviews. It actually became a running joke between me and the guy I’m sorta married to but not allowed to talk about online: the guys on PR cried more than the girls. Why didn’t Ricky cry when he got auf’d? I was almost disappointed. Good for him for keeping it together, though . . . I guess.

Darts: to Red Hair Dye. Specifically Garnier Nutrisse True Red. You were supposed to make me look like the girl on the box! What Happened? I swear, I think there is some anti-red barrier that my head can’t break through. I want red hair! None of this auburn mess. I love auburn, don’t get me wrong, and my hair isn’t destroyed or anything so it’s not True Red’s fault . . . it’s just that my hair is *so dark* it hardly looks red unless I’m in the sun. I *don’t* understand.

Maybe it’s fate telling me I’m not meant to be a redhead. Maybe, if I actually accomplished the red I wanted I’d look so pathetic I’d beg that guy I married to run to the store to buy a box of Chestnut or Medium Ash Brown or something. Maybe Fate is doing me a favor: stepping in every time I dye it to keep me from looking like a loser . . . I wonder how much money I’ve spent this winter trying to go red. A few more wasted attempts and I could’ve paid a professional to do it for me.

Red. Is it really so hard? I mean, what’s a girl gotta do?

Laurels: to me, for finishing my training this week so that I can start teaching online.

Laurels: to steady paychecks.

Darts: to distractions (like sewing and ebay and craftster) which are keeping me from finishing my revisions.

Darts: to me, for letting distractions distract me.

Laurels: for another day to *get things done.*

Have a great one!

Love, Leigh

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Revisions, OW! And 25 Things...

Okay, so it’s about time I updated, right? I mean, it’s only been a week. *Crazy* week though, as I’m training (to teach online), I have a sick kid at home who’s decided she can’t sleep anymore, and REVISIONS that just arrived.

Yes, Revisions. I have mixed feelings about revisions. (These are for a book I just wrote, and were sent to me by Agent). I go through varied emotional stages when revisions arrive. First, I’m kinda offended because I’m supposed to be the greatest writer in the world, right? I mean, the first draft is always the best—no need for adjustments. (Ha! Hardly.) But then I start to “see the light”, and once I really start considering the suggestions I realize that agent/editor/etc. is right on target. Then I get excited, because I know the revised manuscript is going to be *so much* stronger than the original draft. So, I’ve already gone through the downer stage, where I’m dreading going back through and making changes to what I already thought was perfect. I’m getting to that *eager* stage now. Hopefully this will shape up to be a VPW (very productive week).

Enough of that, though, because today I’m going to talk about One Wish (OW!)

I ran across this in Joelle Anthony’s blog. It’s 25 things that commonly appear in YA/MG novels. So, I compared OW! to the list to see how trite and stereotypical and formulaic my writing is. (This so could’ve blown up in my face.)

(The direct link to Joelle’s blog is here:

Here’s the list, and here’s how One Wish stacks up:

25 Things that Commonly Appear in YA/MG Novels

#25 – Vegetarian teens with unsympathetic meat-eating parents. No. Wrenn (the main character in OW!) eats too much of whatever she wants. Zoe (her best friend) has Unsympathetic Vegetarian Parents . . . Thank God for Burger King.

#24 – Shy or withdrawn characters that take refuge in the school’s art room/ compassionate art teachers. No. Shy character decides she wants to be a star . . . and ultimately finds herself on stage. No compassion from the drama teacher.

#23 – A token black friend among a group of white friends - usually it’s a girl, and she’s always gorgeous. No.

#22 – A tiny scar through the eyebrow, sometimes accompanied by an embarrassing story. No scars.

# 21 – Using the word ‘rents for parents, but not using any other slang. I don’t think I used this word, and as for slang, I’m really big on the so’s, like’s, and whatever’s.

# 20 – A beautiful best friend who gets all the guys but doesn’t want them. Zoe is gorgeous, and Wrenn is jealous of her at times, but there’s only one guy for her: a dude she met online but hasn’t met.

#19 – The wicked stepmother who turns out to be simply misunderstood and it’s all cleared up in the climax. No wicked stepmother, just a mom who’s starting to date again, and trying to “figure it out” like everyone else.

#18 – Authors showing their age by naming characters names they grew up with (i.e. Debbie, Lisa, Kimberly, Alice, Linda, etc.). I have a Wrenn, Zoe, Steven, Chase, Bree, Tabitha, etc. How old does that make me?

#17 – Parents who are professional writers or book illustrators. Wrenn’s mom is personal assistant to Mitzi Monroe (a local news/talk show host). She hates her job.

#16 – Using coffee, cappuccino, and cafĂ© latte to describe black people’s skin. No.

#15 – Main characters named Hannah and making a note of it being a palindrome. No Hannahs.

#14 – Younger siblings who are geniuses, adored by everyone, and usually run away during the book’s climax, causing dramatic tension. Wrenn’s younger sister, Karly, is beautiful and popular (everything Wrenn wants to be) so yes, Wrenn is *so* jealous of her, and this does cause a few problems.

#13 – The mean-spirited cheerleader (and her gang) as the story’s antagonist. Nope. No cheerleaders. Just the most popular girl in school (Bree Donnelly). But truth be told, Wrenn winds up being her own, worst enemy.

# 12 – A dead mother. Nope!

# 11 – Heroines who can’t carry a tune, even if it were in a bucket. Ha! Zoe can’t carry a tune. Wrenn has an amazing voice—amazing enough to land her a part in the school musical, despite the fact she’s carrying around a few pounds more than she’d like to.

# 10 – Guys with extraordinarily long eyelashes. No. In fact, Steven is a nerd and Wrenn doesn’t even know he’s alive at first. But then she comes to her senses and realizes: “He had amazing eyes. They were blue and clear, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I hadn’t noticed them before.”

# 9 – The popular boy dating the dorky heroine to make his former girlfriend jealous, and then breaking the heroine’s heart. No.

# 8 – The diary, either as the entire format, or the occasional entry. No.

# 7 – Fingernail biting. Um, maybe?

# 6 – Characters who chew on their lip or tongue in times of stress – usually until they taste blood. Ew. No. Wrenn may bite her lower lip every now and then, but it certainly doesn’t bleed. Blood makes me nauseous. I can’t even write about it.

# 5 – Raising one eyebrow. Um. Sometimes?

# 4 – Main characters who want to be writers. No. Wrenn doesn’t know what she wants to be, except popular. Everything else is just a bonus.

# 3 – Calling parents by their first names. No. But Zoe does—because her parents insist.

# 2 – Best friends with red hair. No red hair! Zoe is blonde, and Wrenn’s hair is dark, dark brown (almost black, even) and she eventually becomes a blonde.

And the number one thing found in YA novels…

#1 – Lists. No lists!

Okay, so that’s how One Wish stacks up to the stereotypes. What that means, I don’t know. Hopefully that I’ve written a semi-decent story? That girls will find a little bit of themselves in Wrenn? That my book isn’t identical to every other book out there? (Based on this survey, that is.)

Ugh. Can’t worry about that now. It’s only February. I still have 3-4 months until publication. Besides, I’ve got Revisions to work on!

And all that talk about red hair reminds me . . . I’ve got some serious dark roots to fix.

Have a great week!

~Love, Leigh~