Wednesday, December 29, 2010

130 Ain't Bad...

My goal for the year was to read 100 books, and blog 365 times. Overzealous wretch that I am, 52 books and 130 posts isn't too bad, I guess. This will officially be the last time I write this year. The next few days hold much travel and coordination of events, so I'm going to be realistic rather than overzealous. See? I have improved a bit this year.

We're meeting The Ex-Wife tomorrow to hand off the boys so she can have them for New Year's. Aria has opted to stay with us. She has a very difficult time sleeping anywhere but her own bed, which I totally understand. I was that way when I was younger, too. I've gotta say, it's surprising how much she takes after me if you consider the utter lack of DNA we share. I'm happy for that. Not the lack of DNA, mind you, I'd give anything to wave a magic wand and make her my biological daughter as well as my heart's daughter. I'm happy that we get along so well and enjoy each other's company. Before she came to live with us, I was filled with anxiety that, if the day ever came, she would not like to live with me. I'm overjoyed to find that, not only does she like it here, she doesn't want to be anywhere else.

Tomorrow is also cleaning and grocery day. I clean one house in Goshen, shop at two different grocery stores, and come home to clean our own home. Then it's an hour and a half to Fort Wayne to relay children and an hour and a half back. I think Aria's coming with just so she can see her mom, if her mom actually comes. It might be her step-dad, in which case I'm not sure if she'll want to make a three hour round-trip to see him. But she might do it anyhow, just to hang out at the Fort Wayne mall with us. We're fun peeps.

I've found that our little dog enjoys wearing clothes. I bought him a little Santa Paws shirt for $1.25 at Target the day after Christmas, and he burrows his head right into it when I try to put it on him. They say that little dogs enjoy the warmth and the feeling of having something close around their bodies, which is why he burrows to begin with. It is comforting to them, apparently. I wonder if I bought him one of those Snuggies for Dogs, if he would worship me like he worships his daddy. I doubt it. He still looks upon me as 'the woman who sleeps next to Daddy'.

My dog (the awesome, fluffy husky) had a major concern today. Our smoke alarm battery was running low, so it randomly beeped for quite awhile. She sidled up to us, staring at the offending noisemaker, which began to spout a computerized woman's voice repeating "Fire!" several times. I've never seen her quite as upset. I think she really thought there was a fire, and was expressing her concern that the rest of us were not panicking like she was. She kept glancing back and forth at everyone in the family, like we should follow her to safety but she was confused because she couldn't smell any smoke.

Or maybe I'm overinflating my dog's sense of interest in our lives, and she just didn't like the loud beepy noise.

I found several new family members on Facebook today -- a few cousins, and a couple of aunts and uncles. Basically all the cousins on my dad's side of the family. It'll be nice to keep in touch with them!

Next time you hear from me, it will be with renewed energy, a fresh start once again, and a more positive outlook. I want to thank you all for remaining with me all year long, reading and commenting, brainstorming and praying, caring and sharing. I am grateful for each and every one of you, and I will do my best to continue this endeavor with brand new vigor in 2011.

Happy New Year to all!

SJS

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Christmas Post

I beg you to forgive any typographical errors, as my fingers are somewhat frozen. There are two opposing thermal bookends in our home. Our living room is huge, and has a big bay window, so it's extremely cold out there. Our bedroom, on the opposite side of the house, has three heat registers so it's usually boiling hot, especially in the middle of the night. However, for some reason, I'm lying on top of the covers in our room and I'm very, very cold. I've linked this piece of information to the fact that the ceiling fan is on and the closest register is closed. However, my utter lack of desire to stand up and fix these things points to me remaining cold for the duration of this post.

Christmas was pretty low key. We spent a couple of hours with my parents and little sister one night, spent an evening with "the gang" one night, had our Christmas morning alone with the kids, and spent part of Christmas day at Steve's parents' house. We ate too much in general all week long. This is the time of year when I begin making resolutions in my head that I know I'll never keep, so I don't bother to write them down. I'm being published again in the Good Neighbor News, this time about New Year's resolutions. I'm also being published in either MiChild or Family magazine which is distributed throughout Michiana, and I'm pretty excited about that one! I really enjoy talking with the editor, and she's giving me some idea of the direction she wants me to take with both magazines. Right now I just want to get my name out there wherever I can, and build up to something... somewhere... that pays! I'm meeting again with the pastor's wife after the new year so that we can solidify our agreement and begin our real work (which is paid, of course, but I was talking about getting my own work/stories/poetry/ideas published and being paid for it).

Looking back, this year has held quite a bit of heartache and hallelujahs. I lost my grandfather in February, but my family is closer than it has been in years. I had my hours cut at work, but I've gotten some writing opportunities that I never expected. Approximately 479 of my friends had babies while I've remained frustratingly infertile, but all three of our teenagers are healthy, well-behaved, and have good grades. We racked up some rotten debt, but God's provided for all of our needs and most of our wants, we have a roof over our head, clothes and food, and we're making a dent in the debt as much as we can... should have it taken care of when we get our tax refunds this year. I gained weight but... well, if I'm looking for a bright side to that little nugget, I guess it makes my chest look better when I'm kinda tubby.

I highly recommend a movie called "Easy A". It was comedic, intelligent, and poignantly true-to-life.

It's official. Unless someone brings me 48 Little Golden Books STAT, I will not make my 100 book goal. I'm only slightly perturbed at that. I prefer to think positively. This blog was to reinvent myself, and I certainly like myself more at the end of the year than I did at the beginning. There are a tremendous number of things I'd still like to evolve where my personality and such are concerned, but it's not like this blog expires... I still own the domain (technically, my friend Ben does, but he's my techy guy) so I can just continue in January doing whatever feels like the next best step for me as a person and as a writer.

I think it's time for me to immerse myself in a hot bubble bath with a nice cup of tea and a magazine. I'm hoping I get a chance to post again before the new year, but we'll see.

Until Next Time,
SJS

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Long Weekend

His first car. Our son bought his first car on Saturday morning. It's a 2000 Mercury Cougar, bright yellow, all leather interior with a 6-CD changer and he got an amazing deal on it. This was the car I took a picture of last week and brought to him. That day, he took it to the BMV and got a registration and plates, got a new battery and two new tires, and we haven't seen him since. Okay, that's not precisely true, but it certainly feels like it. He's been shopping, picked up a 'friend who is a girl' and went to a movie, took his brother to work, visited his grandparents, went to church and youth group, and who knows where else. I'm happy to report that I will not have to wake up early this week to take him to work. Nor ever again, now that it occurs to me...

I'm not sure whether to celebrate or sob. I'll get back to you on that one.

In other events, we rented a couple of movies this weekend. "Inception" with Leonardo DiCaprio was pretty good, albeit a little longer than it needed to be. "The Kids Are All Right" was much, much better in my estimation. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening made a perfect couple, and the story was very believable. It led me to articulate a little better something that's been bothering me.

Though I consider myself a Christian, I rarely listen to Christian radio and I despise Christian news in particular. More often than not, it is judgmental in nature and attacks people who are pro-choice and people who are homosexual. I'm especially avoiding these stations this week because I have no desire to hear what they have to say about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" being repealed. One of the major things that bothers me is that they have some sort of fear that, if gays are allowed to marry, they take this as some kind of a threat to the definition of family. How can this be true, in any way, shape or form? The divorce rate overall hovers around 50% and the divorce rate among couples who consider themselves Christian also hovers around 50%. How can it enhance family values to prohibit these men and women from sharing in the benefits that other married couples have available to them? How can it detract from family values to allow them to adopt children, to provide a loving and caring home for a child who would otherwise be left without parents? How often do straight couples become foster families for children only to abuse and harm them further? And perhaps what upsets me the most is, even if these people consider homosexuality a sin, how can they in good conscience judge or condemn others when they themselves are sinners as well? The bible clearly states that all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), so what gives them the right to attempt to legislate against what they consider the sins of others when they are themselves free to sin in their own way? How is their sin all right and the sins of others damnable? (Take this all with a grain of salt, please, because not all Christians feel that homosexuality is a sin, or that homosexuals are going to Hell. I certainly don't feel that way.)

The whole "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy angered me from the moment I first heard the expression. We're saying, "it's totally fine for you to fight for your country, to defend our freedom, to put yourself in danger, to risk your life for all of us - but it's not okay for you to be completely honest with us about your sexuality because that makes us uncomfortable"? Really? And what honor those must have to serve under those circumstances! They are so dedicated that even though their country is telling them they're basically second-class citizens for being homosexual, they simply hide it and fight for the rest of us anyhow!

The entire premise of Christianity is to emulate Christ. To be servants. To love others. To give and forgive. How is this message being passed along if the first thing people think of when they think of Christians is that superior, holier-than-thou attitude? It angers me that I feel like I have to apologize for other Christians. I do plenty of apologizing for my own mistakes, but it upsets me that these people are giving the rest of us a bad name. It upsets me so much that I wrote an entire book about it. Hopefully I'll get it online at the beginning of the new year.

I'm still reading "From Dead to Worse", the next Sookie book. It's all right. The maddening pattern of Sookie being in a relationship with someone and that person randomly disappearing for an entire book is sort of becoming redundant. I kind of hope Quinn doesn't come back, though. I don't dislike him, I just don't care about him. If I don't care about a character, they need to die. In books, you know. Not real life.

Time to listen to football while I read. Back to work tomorrow... couple more small things to buy for Christmas for the kids, and then I'll be ready for the holiday!

SJS

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Subway Experience

So, this is the place. I'm sitting in the Subway (restaurant, not the dirty gritty place where you catch the underground train) where my husband goes every day after work. As often as possible, which is pretty much every day. He lovingly invited me to join in his reading time whenever I wanted. And, like a vampire, I accepted the invitation and might do so from time to time unless he rescinds it (in which case I might float backwards out the door, but I doubt it.) Apparently I've been reading entirely too much Sookie Stackhouse. True Blood Season Three is available for pre-order, Amazon keeps telling me every other day. I think Amazon is spying on me at night.

Our oldest son has a work party to attend this evening, to which he was allowed to invite his family. So the husband and I are going. I was fairly certain that 'family' meant spouses and kids, but Zach's pretty excited to have us come, and his boss said it was all right, so we'll be there. He looked at a car last night in Middlebury, but it wasn't exactly ... how should I put it? Oh... drivable. There's another car in the mix... I took a picture of it today to show him, so we'll see if he likes it or not. I think it's pretty sweet.

The Subway crew seems nice, which is a complete 180 from the Subway in Middlebury.

I suppose at some point I should do some Christmas shopping... Amazon sent me a few things. Maybe they spied on me when I opened the box? They could have little cameras in there... "Oh, she's reading Sookie Stackhouse novels, maybe she'd like True Blood Season 3 when it comes out... we should ask her on a daily basis if she would like to pre-order it at a reasonable price with free shipping until she caves like a spelunker." Or maybe I'm paranoid. Either one of these situations are equally feasible in my mind. I know they can spy on me because of the little Google Map satellite dude. You can click on him and drag him and drop him on a map and it will show you what he sees which, if you get close enough, is my house. The little Google Map satellite dude can see my house from my driveway. FROM MY DRIVEWAY. And if he can get that close, he can look through the window and feed information to the people at Amazon. I'm just saying.

I think I scared the little girl in the next booth when I made a mad dash for the booth my husband likes to sit at when it became available.

I've had a bend-over headache all day. You know that feeling you get when you drink a Slushee too fast? Brain freeze? That happens to me sometimes when I bend over to pick things up. It goes away quickly, but it's been happening all day long, which is irritating. I think it's lingering from the caffeine withdrawal headache I had last night because I chose a margarita over the rest of the Mountain Dew in the two liter. To be honest, the Mountain Dew might have won had it not been two days old. If I have to drink it out of a two liter, it's got to be fresh. Bubbly. It should go 'ffffrrrrssshhhhhh' in my face when I open the lid. I wonder if you can catch OCD? I think I got a case of it from my husband.

I really wish I had the money to get my engagement ring fixed. There's always something else that happens before I can do that. This time it was a mix of Christmas and my car getting fixed, though that was a lot less expensive than I'd dreamed it would be. And it runs almost as well as it did when I first got it. I'm anxious to see what my gas mileage will be at the end of this tank. I can already tell it's better than what it was before!

In addition to reading books here and there, I've also been reading a lot of commentary in my Bible. I have the New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha. I've never read the Apocrypha before, which is the non-canonical books that are not traditionally used for doctrinal purposes. I re-read the New Testament this year (all of those books don't count towards my 100 since I've read it all before), and then there is a lot of informational pages before getting to the actual Apocrypha. Geographical information, explanations of the 'evolution of the Bible as we know it', telling all about the different versions and when and under what circumstances they were translated and published, weights and measures and other info. I just have another two chapters of that and then the books of the Apocrypha. I'm not sure what to expect, because I don't know anyone else who has ever read them. There's a book called "Bel and the Dragon" which sounds pretty interesting to me...

I decided that I need to start a Christmas Club for next year. I'm sick of it coming to Christmas and having no money to buy gifts with, worrying about how to pay the bills over the holidays, and charging up the credit cards when I don't want to put another cent on them. I figured if Steve and I each put in $10 a week from our tip money, we won't even really notice it's gone, and then in November when we get it out, we'll have more money than we ever have for Christmas before! (I know, it's not a lot... that should tell you how meager things usually are for us at the holidays!)

Speaking of the holidays, I want to talk about a few songs that irritate me. One just because it's annoying, and one because it makes me mad. First, "Christmas Shoes". I'm not a big fan of any song that is written for the sole purpose of bringing its listeners to tears. I find those songs particularly sappy and usually refuse to listen to them. So when I first heard this song, it just annoyed me. The premise is that this little boy goes into a store to buy some pretty shoes for his mom because his dad says she's going to meet Jesus tonight, and he doesn't have enough money for the shoes so he looks at the next guy in line and expects him to pay for it. Yes, that's the actual premise of the song. But, you know... it's all prettied up and stuff. But what bugs me is, if your mom is going to die tonight, what are you out buying shoes for? First off, spend time WITH her! You're never going to see her again! She's dying! Second, how are shoes going to help anything? She's going from a bed to a coffin, she's not walking anywhere. And the lyric is something about how he wants her to look pretty when she meets Jesus tonight. He's Jesus! She already looks pretty to Him! Shoes are not going to help this situation in the least, so put them back since you can't afford them anyhow and you're just making the guy in line behind you feel obligated because you're little and sad looking. That's akin to begging. Actually, it IS begging. You belong at a subway in Italy trying to confuse tourists into giving you money to help them buy tickets. *See Italy Blog

The other song that bugs me, and for a real reason, not just because I'm a jaded cynical wench... "It's Called Christmas (with a Capital 'C')". Here, the song begins with a comedian in the background making fun of people who celebrate things other than Christmas. Talking about how it used to be okay to say "Merry Christmas" to a Jewish guy, and no one thought anything of it. Ha ha ha. And the whole song is upbeat and rhythmic, in a brainwashing sort of way, with people chanting about how everyone should say "Merry Christmas" because apparently if you say "Happy Holidays" it means you're not a Christian. Well, here are a few newsflashes for you: #1, not everyone IS a Christian. #2, YOU are not a Christian if you're making other people feel bad about themselves for not being a Christian. #3, saying the words "Merry Christmas" does not make you a Christian. And #4, for the love of God, saying Happy Holidays encompasses not just Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, it also takes care of the end of Thanksgiving and the New Year! So, even if you say Happy Holidays to someone, you can still in good conscience feel superior in your fake Christianity because you celebrate Christmas and they don't. Okay, that might have been a jaded, cynical rant anyhow. I just didn't know it was going to be until I wrote it.

The husband showed up -- time to stop writing and start reading. It takes up less space.

SJS

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday, Icy Sunday

I knew when it rained last night that we were in for it. Frozen roads this morning prohibited us from going to church, so I'll attempt to download the service from last week on my computer. Although I'm not sure if the problem is the computer, or Facebook, or what, but I cannot upload a three minute video to Facebook in under six hours for some reason. Grumble.

I made a pretty good pot o'chili today for lunch, and grilled cheese. I also did some deeper cleaning in the kitchen, because it was pretty dusty on the walls and ceiling. I've been doing laundry all day, and catching up on my devotional reading, and the rest of the stuff that sadly falls through the cracks all week long. I'm awaiting the Bears-Patriots game, rooting for the Patriots but feeling a bit guilty because I'm also a Bears fan. It appears, by looking outside, that the roads are not improving and that perhaps those who are big fans of "Snow Days" might get what you most desire tomorrow.

My car is ready for the shop. The nice gentleman at Mullet's Service claims that it's just in severe need of a tune-up, but I can't help but think that it's something more than that. There are now 176000+ miles on the old Saturn. If it just needs a tune-up, I'll be pleasantly surprised. The appointment, which I scheduled three weeks ago, is for tomorrow, so I'll be dropping it off this evening, borrowing my mother-in-law's vehicle for the day tomorrow and hopefully getting it back in tip-top shape tomorrow night. Cheap. Hope. Hope, hope, hope. Pray.

Coughing has migrated to an uncomfortable place in my chest. I am greatly displeased. I had explained to the coughing that it needed to remove itself completely from my person, but apparently it thought that if it snaked its way into my chest and lower throat, I might not notice it's continuous presence. Wrong, coughing. I hear you, I feel you, and I abhor you. Get the hence. Take heartburn with you as well.

I'm reading "All Together Dead", which is the next Sookie Stackhouse novel. Things happen sort of slowly in this book, but are more interesting than the last couple of books. I'm glad that Bill is fairly invisible most of the time in the last few books, but I'm not a big fan of her current boyfriend. (Spoiler alert, somewhat late. Sorry.) There doesn't seem to be a point to dating Quinn. So he's a weretiger, big deal. So he has a heartbeat, unlike your last two hook-ups. Whatever. I do wonder who they're going to choose to portray him if/when they use him in TrueBlood. I'd pick Billy Zane and make him buff up a little.

By the way, you heard this here first, and if it ever happens, I want kudos for the fantastic idea: The movie Labyrinth needs to be made into a Broadway musical, with Neil Patrick Harris playing the Goblin King and Cobie Smulders as Sarah. I realize they're both in HIMYM, but they can take a break for awhile, I say.

Soldier Field appears to be prettttty snowy.

It's the perfect day for chili and grilled cheese, so I'm glad I made that earlier, but it's also the perfect day for hot cocoa with marshmallows and cool whip, which I believe I'll make sometime very soon here. If there were eggs in the house, my daughter and I would be making cookies!

Touchdown New England!

Off to do more laundry and make that hot cocoa... maybe read a little more while I watch the Patriots smoke the Bears on their own field, and then feel slightly guilty when I gloat internally.

SJS

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Subcutaneous Tears

Yep, just below the skin. Today, for absolutely no good reason whatsoever, I burst into tears at work. A little back story...

When I was fifteen, my parents had my little sister. There are no kids in between us, just my older brother and sister, so I was the baby for fifteen years of my life. I wasn't fond of the idea of having a little sibling, because teenagers are (among many things) the most selfish creatures on the planet. Most of them figure that out later and quickly mature into the realization that there are other things the universe centers on besides themselves. At any rate, doing the math, when I went off to college, Savannah was only three years old. This is also known as the cutest stage of childhood. As much as I never would have admitted it at the time, she was adorable and I missed her while I was away.

So, when I would come back and visit, it was a big deal. I didn't get home as often as I wanted to, but, when I did, one of our favorite things was to put music on in our basement, and I'd throw her into my arms and dance around like crazy, twirling her and fake-dropping her only to grab her at the last second and lift her back into my arms. And the whole time we'd be belting out Rod Stewart songs along with our CDs.

Today, while I was alone in the kitchen at work washing dishes, no customers or co-workers anywhere near, "Maggie May" came on the radio, and while I was singing along, smiling, I burst into tears.

My sister is eighteen years old.

I wasn't sobbing because that makes me particularly ancient, although that thought does cross my mind from time to time. I was sobbing in part because I don't have much time for her these days, and in part because she doesn't have much time for me. Between a husband and kids and several jobs, a boyfriend and job searches... it's just rough to get together these days. We have one of those relationships, though, that transcends such things. We catch up on the phone or email, and when we do get together, it's as if there's no huge age gap between us. We counsel one another, laugh and cry together, complain and rant, shop, eat, and laugh some more. It will help greatly when she has a driver's license... *HINT* It's funny how I think of my 18-year-old son as a kid, but my 18-year-old sister is ... well, my sister! :)

I finally made the Chinese food tonight that I'd been planning to make earlier in the week. I had all the ingredients, and was very much anticipating it. Five minutes before it was finished, I went to get the eggs from the refrigerator to fry up and put into the fried rice. No eggs. My loving 16-year-old son hard-boiled the rest of the eggs. All of the rest of them. Seven of them. No one in this house ever does anything with the eggs. And then, randomly on the day that I fully expect to use the eggs that have been in the fridge for two weeks without fail... no eggs. I made him go to the neighbor's house with a dollar to offer to buy a couple from them, but they weren't home either. I took this to mean that my cashew chicken fried rice was not meant to have eggs in it tonight. I was greatly displeased. My tummy is still a bit unsatisfied. But that could be because I am greatly displeased that there is no chocolate in this house, either. Who does the shopping around here, anyway!?

Oh.

My meeting was canceled today, so I had some unexpected free time. I went to Concord Mall and did a little Christmas shopping. There's a little used book store where the Waldenbooks used to be, and his prices are fantastic! Check it out if you're in the area.

The husky continues to bound in the snow for long intervals of time, and wants to be outside at all times. The min-pin continues to gaze longingly at the Christmas tree in hopes that we'll allow him to use it as his own personal indoor toilet. I dread spring each year, because the little dog won't jump off the deck to do his business when there is snow. He thinks that three steps outside the door, directly on the deck and preferably up against the house, is the perfect place if we must put him out. And another thing: I have GOT to figure out what sort of drug dealers the previous owners were, because the big dog will not stop licking the floor in the living room. It's like someone dropped some awesome powder in there, and after three years of living here, she still hasn't licked it all up. She's obsessed.

I'm sufficiently tired of writing at the moment, and I would like to search the house one last time for chocolate and then go to bed, disgruntled, and read for awhile.

SJS

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Only 50 More...

Okay, so today I reached my fiftieth book. I realize with a sardonic smile on my face that most of you are rolling your eyes at me, knowing I never had a chance of making it to 100 books by the end of December. And to you people I say...

Yeah. I know. But don't rule me out yet. I'm sure there are fifty Little Golden Books I haven't yet read, and I can make it happen if I want to sink to such a level.

So, there's snow on the ground. Not a big fan. Well, I sort of am. It depends on my mood and the amount of time I have to spend driving in the snow. I dislike the cold, but I love the way the yard looks covered in white. I dislike the ice, but it sparkles a lot and I do like shiny things. (My daughter says she does not have A.D.D. ... she has A.D.O.S. which means Attention Deficit OOOOH SHINY! I think she gets that from me.)

I'm sincerely debating whether to get out of bed and dig out the Christmas decorations and the tree from the basement, since I lack sufficient funds to buy a real tree this year. The other half of me is really enjoying staying in the warm, cozy bed with my sick husband while we watch football. It's kind of nice having nothing to do all day long, and it's such a rare occasion that I feel like embracing it.

This writing job could be the provision I've been praying for. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it is. She mentioned perhaps giving me an advance, and if she did that right now in December, there's a chance we could have a decent Christmas after all. Believe me, I'm not all materialistic or anything, it would just be really nice to finally be able to give everyone some nice things for Christmas one time. Every year I feel like I should apologize for the lack of coolness in our gift-giving. The only person I've even gotten a single thing for Christmas for yet is my cousin who is stationed in Korea, and that's only because I had to send it out by December 5th or it wouldn't make it there in time for Christmas!

I finished "Definitely Dead" this morning (well, probably afternoon). I'll be starting the next one later in the day, most likely. If I get the gumption to throw on my robe and wander into the office/library in the next room. We'll see.

My creative juices are not flowing much today either, so with my apologies I'll end this and hopefully have something interesting to report to you tomorrow.

SJS

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Strength Will Rise

"Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord".

Probably a scripture, but also a pretty good song. The post I wrote about Thanksgiving, the things that are hard to be thankful for, they're mostly about waiting. Waiting to have a baby, waiting to get out of Middlebury and into a bigger city... and waiting to be a 'real' author... all things happen in His time, if they are meant to be.

Let me tell you a little story.

A week or so ago, disgruntled with my pre-Thanksgiving weight (knowing that I'd be putting on a few more pounds that Thursday), I packed my gym bag in an effort to force myself to go to the gym after work on Tuesday. I have the best of intentions when I pack. I make sure that everything is in there: sports bra, bathing suit, workout clothes, towel, body wash, etc. so that when I arrive at the gym, there is no reason for me not to walk in, work out, shower, enjoy the Arizona room and maybe the hot tub, and feel good that I finally did something productive. After work, however, I feel like dragging my espresso-smelling body to the car, going home, and taking a nap. Inevitably, I have this argument with my brain while I drive - am I going to turn towards the gym, or home? This time, tail between my legs, I drove to the gym. I hadn't packed a book to read while I walked on the treadmill, so I was very close to talking myself out of the entire workout, but at the last second I decided I'd pick up a cheap-o magazine at the Martin's next door and get myself in the gym. If I got through the door, then I'd be sure to at least walk on the treadmill. And so it was.

As I entered the cooldown period on the treadmill, Kelly walked over. Kelly has been my 'gym girl' for as many years as I've been going there. She works at Fitness USA, has for 12 years, and we always chat when we're both there at the same time. But this time, she walked up to me with purpose. Kelly let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she didn't even want to be there today and had, in fact, almost left early, but she had been hoping and praying that I'd show up. (I have not been there for a couple of months, by the way.) She said, "You're involved in theatre, and I wondered if you knew anyone who would be willing to write my pastor's wife's life story into a play?" Bang. Theatre and writing. I said, "Yeah. Me."

From there, we had an hour-long conversation while I feigned my workout routine. It was very inspirational, and we learned a lot about each other. After all these years, neither of us had ever spoken about our beliefs. And yet, here she was praying that I'd show up, staying at work waiting... and something talked me into going to the gym at the last second, while the only thing I wanted to do was go home and take aforementioned nap.

And this, kids, is how I got my first real, paid writing job. I am working on a seven-month project, writing and editing both the play version and book version of the life of this lovely woman. That's all of the personal information I can accommodate you with, but suffice to say that while waiting might be the hardest part, it's well worth it in the end.

And, as my good friend Marla says, "Props up to J.C."

In other news, I'm reading the sixth Sookie Stackhouse novel, and The Ragamuffin Gospel concurrently. This Sookie novel is less Sucky. Well, it's pretty good, actually. Back on par with the ones before it, at the very least. Both Steve and Amberly say that the next one is really good, so I'm excited about that.

Our son is taking his S.A.T. as we speak. I'm nervous FOR him. He's an excellent student, but test-taking has never been his strong suit. He brought home the study materials and has been working on them by himself. I tried to force a real breakfast on him this morning (he hates eating breakfast, much as I do) but he refused. I told him he had to have SOMETHING, so he ate some Pop Tarts and milk which I guess is better than nothing. After all, he IS 18. I can't really force a breakfast sandwich down his throat. He's halfway through the test right now. I remember how nervous I was taking the S.A.T. and the A.C.T. back in the day. This one is graded on a much different scale than it was back then.

I finally received my copy of the Good Neighbor News, in which my Christmas story was published this month. I think you can read it if you click on the link and download the PDF. There was a typo -- they printed "Miracle OF 34th Street" instead of "ON". That was definitely not my typo. I think. Hehe. But it's pretty cool to see something I wrote in print. Also, I've been emailing back and forth with the editor of "Family Magazine of Michiana" and she said they are looking for great local writers, and asked what I'd be interested in writing. They have research/interview articles for which they pay, and personal exposure articles for which they don't. Right now I'm just trying to get my name out there as much as possible. This is one of those situations for which the adage "When it rains, it pours" actually becomes positive!

There's a sticky smudge on the McDonald's window next to me that's been driving me nuts for the last two hours. You'd think I'd stand up, get a napkin, and wipe it off. No. The fear lies within me that, the moment I do that, it'll just smear into a larger smudge and then I'll have to ask for Windex and paper towels and next thing you know I'm the official Window McCleaner.

Here's hoping that the last two hours of testing went well for the boy, and the next two hours go even better! :)

SJS