ASTEROID-CAUSED BACTERIAL MUTATION AND NO FOOD. PLUS FIRE.

Quote: “About one million sq kilometers (386,000 sq. miles) would have been devastated and the impact would have been equivalent to more than 1,000 tons of TNT exploding. – “A Sumerian Observation of the Kofels Impact Event”

You’ll notice the fish are gone.  Too much responsibility.  Plus, Jenn said they looked like semen.  One little click and they were gone, reduced to their code components.  An apt exercise for this week. 
 
I started a new novel on my birthday and my goal is to have the second draft finished by my next one.  I’m running out of time, but I got stuck on a detail.  You see, this novel is different than anything I’ve written before because it takes place in a post-apocalyptic world.  So….what WAS the apocalypse?  I skipped this at first because I wanted to get to the actual STORY, but it’s time.

I knew I wanted fire, but I wasn’t content with a regular old catastrophe.  I wanted the magnetic poles to shift plus massive solar storms to disrupt GPS and satellite information and then that super volcano in Yellowstone could also erupt, sending radioactive lava spewing all through Wyoming, Idaho, and parts of Canada.  But, that’s not enough. Because you can be scared of natural disasters, but they happen.  Or God makes them happen/let’s them happen. Whatever.  I WANT SOME BLEEPING ACCOUNTABILITY HERE.  

I’m talking antibiotic resistant bacteria and genetically modified food with nano viruses imbedded.  Endangered animals should fight back and start eating people.  Famines in Africa should start a Soylent Green scenario.  Extreme weather patterns because of climate change should reach down and suck people up to Oz.  Levies should break.  Scientists with goatees and white lab coats should frantically run from screen to screen of their instruments gibbering in fear as the planet reaches the tipping point.

 I started gingerly, in my imagination.  Sea coral is already dying because the temperatures of the oceans are rising.  So I delicately killed them all.  And the polar bears are goners so I finished them off.  A couple are moving south, getting it on with grizzly bears, but the majority floated away on melting icebergs, waving their paws at me.  Famine.  That’s been around forever.  But then I start to get creative.  The woman sitting in her minivan fretting that her children are late to ballet class because of traffic?  Giant frogs slammed into her windowshield.  I leave her fruitlessly trying to get her wipers to work and pop over to some corporate office where they are maliciously plotting to put cheap brakes in cars to save money and BOOM!  Now I’ve got a pile-up in action.  Which the plotters will be in, of course. Then I really get off on a tangent.  The Middle East.  Weapons of Mass Destruction (does anyone have one?), genocide.  It doesn’t stop, you know, what humans can and will do to each other.  So, I had to rein it back in.

I’m going with an asteroid.  Just a regular old asteroid – like the one researchers argue destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  Here’s some fun speculative trivia:  “Debris consisting of up to two-thirds of the (Kofel) asteroid would have been hurled back along its route and a flash reaching temperatures of 400 Centigrade (752 Fahrenheit) would have been created, killing anyone in its path.”

                Yup, I think an asteroid should do it.

Luddite

                   

Quote: “Maybe you left them in your car.” – nice lady at the post office.

                Please notice that the design of this blog has changed.  No really, PLEASE NOTICE.  I assure you that it was a struggle.  First I had to tap my foot and drum my fingers and whine, “But, I don’t know HOW to send e-mail notifications when I update this blog.”  Then, after a vigorous wrestling match with my internal resistance, I fixed my hair, took a deep breath, and girded my loins.  Because technology does not love me.  Even my minivan door mocks me by pretending to shut while I stand there, and then OPENING ITSELF the moment I turn my back to walk into the library.  Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but honestly I long for the days when Pluto was still a planet. 

                Earlier this week I filled out the registration form for the Gettysburg Writers’ Conference.  The form was online in Adobe.  There was a clear warning sign that you CANNOT SAVE CHANGES to the document.  BUT, at the top of the registration form it equally clearly stated the e-mail address to submit form, sample of writing, and statement of attendance.  Okay.  So, I’m operating under the understanding that e-mailing this form IS POSSIBLE.  I fill out the form.  Now what?  I scroll over the icon choices.  This is like a labyrinth!  Convent to a PDF takes me to a whole new website.  That’s alright, I’ll just download the form to my desktop. 

                All my answers erased.

                BUT THAT’S OKAY.  Because I knew my adversary and I had PRINTED IT OUT.  Re- fill in the answers on my desktop form.  Now what?

CANNOT SAVE CHANGES. 

Okaaaay.  I select the ‘e-mail this document’ option. Now I’ve got you, computer.

Computer laughs at me.  FREEZES.

I surrender.

                Outside it is seventy degrees and my babysitter and twins are frolicking and gamboling.  I need them to know that I am suffering in here so I go outside and bring them into my (semi-) orderly study to show my babysitter, whose native language is NOT EVEN ENGLISH this computer gibberish.  She looks at it.  Shrugs her shoulders, but I feel vindicated.  I print out the rest of the documents and look for a mailing envelope.  Which I don’t have.  So I go to the store and buy a pack.  To come home and address the envelope and get back in my car and drive to the post office.  I pay $1.30 to mail the whole thing and am ready to get home because I’ve spent HOURS NOW on this one task of my to-do list. 

                I can’t find my keys.  So I can’t leave.  And the lady behind the counter and the line behind me…everyone starts looking around this tiny post office for my keys.  And I’m dying of embarrassment and wondering whether I can walk home.  “Maybe they are in your car?” one woman suggests.  And I nod and escape and go out to my car wondering if they are in there, should I break a window to get them out and if so, with what should I break said window.  But, never fear, the driver’s side window is down.  The keys are in the car.  In the ignition.  AND MY CAR IS RUNNING.

                “Did you find them?”asks helpful postal customer as she walks past.  “Yes!  Thank you.”  Smile, wait for her to drive away.  Bang head against car frame, get back in, put the key back in, re-start the car and drive home.

                I tell you about this task that should have taken fifteen minutes AT THE MOST so you can appreciate how much that little white box at the top – the one that says ‘subscribe’ and you enter your e-mail address – extracted from me.  How I had to go to RSS Feed for idiots (and how can RSS stand for both Really Simple Syndication AND Rich Site Summary?  Really?  Pick one) and then youtube and then STILL struggle to even get myself signed up for my own blog.  But I did it.  For you.

Please understand how much I love you, dear Reader.  And comment on the fish.  They might be dead soon, I’m not sure if I was supposed to download fish food.

Sherri

Acting Out

“Acting out occurs when a child doesn’t get focused attention.  Spend one-on-one time with each child or you will regret it.”  Notes from Mrs. Deb Long’s parenting class.

                My sister gave me a head’s up about 4th grade: killer on girls.  It began straight out of one of my psych. books. “I’m fat.” “I’m not going to eat candy anymore.”  “I don’t want dessert.” “I’m going to eat less carbs.”  I understand that this is an age where children start making choices and I remained calm and coaching, showing her the BMI scale, discussing how calories equal energy, all the discussion points on the next page of the psych manual.

                But when she didn’t want to come to the table to eat dinner with us saying “I’m on a diet,” I was done.      

                The next morning I spoke to a mom whose daughter had battled eating disorders for years and almost died twice.  I printed out three pages of info from a website for kids and hustled Dido from the school bus into the minivan for one of our mother-daughter dates, asked her where she wanted to eat.  Then I gave her the papers and told her to highlight three things she hadn’t known before reading the article.

                Sitting outside of McDonald’s (yes, I see the irony) I talked to my daughter openly and honestly about not liking your body, about feeling like you aren’t pretty enough, good enough, smart enough. About how food is not an enemy, it’s a way to take care of yourself so you’re strong and beautiful.

                And as I waited for her response, I started remembered things I hadn’t thought about in years.  About writing down everything I ate in a day and then going to the gym and working out until I’d burned off the same number.  On the treadmill, CD walkman (remember those?) clutched in one hand because it would always slide off the display and the earphones where the sound faded in and out through the foam coverings.   Or the scales.  Sitting turned around in my minivan waiting out the silence, I remembered the step-on scales where you have to set the line exactly at zero or it looks like you just gained two pounds (or lost two pounds and the rest of the day was like walking on clouds).  Or the huge chunky scales at the gym like they have in the doctor’s office.  Those were seldom good.  Wake up, go to the bathroom, walk around a bit, but don’t eat or drink and THEN FINALLY take your weight.  It’s the best number you’re going to get.  Because you have to drink water while you do cardio or you can’t go as long and you don’t flush the fat.  I remembered throwing up.  Not into a toilet – THAT’S GROSS – but into a plastic grocery bag.  Make sure there isn’t a hole at the bottom or the sludge drips out.  Ideally the same bag you just brought home full of the junk you ate without tasting.  And then throw the whole thing away.   Your throat hurts and you ruined your streak of not eating, but at least you got SOME of it up.   Meandering around the mall looking for the perfect spoon to trigger the gag reflex.  Long enough handle, but not square tipped because that would hurt the sides of your throat.  And lots of toothbrushes because bulimics have bad breath and stomach acid can erode your back teeth.  And vitamins because if you don’t eat enough then your nails can break and your hair looks dull, but take the vitamins AFTER you purge, because the other way is just silly!  Because doesn’t everyone look at their vomit to see what food they can identify?

                Yes, mom, Dido finally says, waving the paper.  I understand about all this.  I read about it in one of my books.  Did one of the characters have an eating disorder?  MOM!!!  I just want you to know that anorexia is a thief, Dido.  It steals your thoughts and hurts your body. It’s not worth it.  Every person is fearfully and wonderfully made.  I KNOW MOM.  You can talk to me.  About anything.  I know mom.

                We went in and she had the two cheeseburger value meal – ketchup only.  She sat with me, we talked about school, we laughed a little.  I didn’t say anything more, just noted that she ate everything and didn’t go to the bathroom afterwards.  Then we went home.  I waited to write this until a couple of weeks had passed to confirm that this episode was a test – to see if I’d notice.  She’s my oldest and like me in so many ways – shy and controlling and sensitive and caring way too much about what other people think. An introvert who escapes through books and sometimes wants to be the characters, wants to be special. But she’s already special.  And Dido, when I show this to you in a few years, I want you to know that I SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL NOTICE YOU AND LOVE YOU AND FIGHT FOR YOU AS FIERCELY AS I BATTLED EVELYN’S LEUKEMIA.

I Chose This?

Quote: “Time for another one?”  Husband sent me this question with a forwarded e-mail about a deal on diapers. 

Obviously this was a joke, but Husband should know better as we I’m infinitely suggestible.  And I loved being pregnant.  Each time was a different experience.  Yes, I yakked all the time, but overall it was worth it for the secret of having a little being inside, kicking and fluttering, and doing whatever little people do when they are swimming around.  And who can argue with the result?  Baby(ies) wrapped in the white hospital blanket with blue and pink border stripes.  Knitted cap popped on the head.  So… pretty risky of Husband to suggest another.  However, common sense and an iud prevailed.  I love my four children, but have NO PLANS for more.  Which brings me to this week.

                What is going on in 2012 that women once again have to fight for access to contraception?   Family planning and birth control are brilliant.  I’m actually a little flummoxed at where to begin a defense because to me it seems so self-evident that women – no matter how much money they make – should be able to have healthcare and the choice of when or if to start a family. 

                This past week wasn’t fun.  I spent all day Monday sitting in clinic with Evelyn.  Then Sylvia’s cold developed into a double ear infection. Up ALL night with her crying in pain despite the Tylenol that I AM NOT STINGY WITH.  Then Evelyn wakes up and starts crying because she’s on steroids and she has SEEN ME IN SYLVIA’s bed.  And this indignity is not to be borne.  So the three of us move down the hall to my bed where all are comfortable and stretched out except Husband who rolls out of bed and leaves for work even earlier than usual.

                Off to the pediatrician and then to the pharmacy and then home for first dose of antibiotic for Sylvia.  Meanwhile I’d given Evelyn her 6mp first thing in the morning and then poured her steroid into a sippy cup to take with us except you can’t slurp smoothie through the top so I’d also brought a straw.  Did the parents in the waiting room wonder why I kept forcing this drink on my four-year old while she cried and I balanced the clipboard on my lap because OF COURSE we’d changed insurances since the last visit and NO I don’t have Husband’s ssn memorized and I start to ask him via text, but then think that might not be secure because you must always protect your ssn and so I call him and he tells me the number, but I can barely concentrate because the receptionist is angrily pointing to a sign that reads, “Use of cell phones prohibited in waiting room.”

                So, no work on my novel this week. And I have the cold complete with runny nose and achy face.  But, I signed up for this.  I also signed up for weeks full of snuggles and delight.  My choice.  And my little slice of joy this week was the check I put in the mail to Planned Parenthood.  I also support BirthRight, a local Christian center.  Both are part of my belief in the right to family planning.

Over-Thinking

Quote: “It must be exhausting to be you.”  Susan Thies.  My friend who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, literally needs about five hours of sleep a night, just got back from Israel, and is a whirlwind of do-gooding adventure and activity.  I took it as a compliment, but I’m not sure that’s how it was intended.
Imagine me clinging to the side of a cliff, my feet on the very thinnest lip, rocks falling around, my fingers bleeding as I try to scramble for better purchase.  Then the camera pans out and you see me, another me – with a bullhorn – standing on the ground 12 INCHES below saying, “Just step down, Sherri.  It’s a one foot drop.”  The other me, the cliff Sherri, shaking her head.  “I’m not sure how long I can hold on anymore.”  That’s been my week.

I have inconsequential choices – AND I KNOW THEY ARE STUPID — but I’m stuck endlessly going back and forth, pros and cons.  Analysis Paralysis.  So, I’m going to do it right here: Sherri-to-Sherri.  And then it will be over.  Because my mid-week idea that it would be easier to make decisions if I drank more coffee did not mean that it was easier to make decisions.  It meant I was twitching in bed at 2am debating the pros and cons of getting out of bed to go down to the study to write out my questions.  So I didn’t forget any…except wouldn’t it be better if I did forget the questions because then I ….  It’s frustrating to see someone act or think like that.  AND SHE IS ME.

So, here goes.

Sherri on the cliff says:  I have a little spot on my nose, should I go to the doctor?  I’m too young for skin cancer and I use sunscreen all the time, but somehow it doesn’t seem right.

Sherri with the bullhorn: Yes, go to the dermatologist and get it biopsied.

Done

Sherri:  I was thinking about buying tickets to the Meyerhoff to see The Tao of Drumming.  It looks like an exciting performance, but Husband was lukewarm.  I don’t want to plan it and then I feel responsible if he doesn’t like it.

Sherri:  Just buy the tickets.  Can’t be responsible for Husband.  If he doesn’t want to go, invite someone else.

Done

Sherri:  Should I go to another yoga class on Friday?  I like it and I do have to use up the class card before April 3rd.

Sherri:  No.  You had nachos and a bottle of wine last night while watching Whitney.  Get your ass on the elliptical and burn 500 calories.

Done

Sherri: I still haven’t pruned the plum tree out front.  It’s a good height for where it is – shading the library, but what if the plums are up too high to reach?

Sherri: Too late, spring is here.  Besides, last two years crazy wind blew most of the green plums off the tree.  You’ll be lucky if you have that problem. 

Done (by not doing)

Sherri:  Is it appropriate to ask Anna to take the truck in for its oil change?   She’s the primary driver, but she might feel uncomfortable with the situation.

Sherri: Anna is very capable.  She will tell you if she is uncomfortable.  You make the appointment, give her 45 minutes off early to do it, and handle the payment.  Worry about the minivan’s oil change.  That’s you.

Scheduled for 2pm today.

Sherri:  I didn’t shave my legs last night because the bathroom smelled like bleach…

Sherri: Stop!  Shave your legs while showering after your elliptical exercise.  You are not on Survivor or stuck in a cabin in a blizzard in Montana.  Keep your legs shaved.

Sherri: I’ve lost excitement about this section of my story because the literary agent said it seemed a bit silly and off the deep end.

Sherri:  She based that on two sentences in a summary.  Stop sulking and write the actual part out before you give up because it’s not good enough. You’re 43K words in. Do not stop now.  Meet your goal for the week – stop working on your blog and write 800 more words before the kids get home from school.

In progress

Sherri: I saw an instructional meeting offered for voice over acting.  That’s always been a dream of mine – voices for animated movies or being the voice on audio books.  But, I don’t know what this meeting would tell me that I don’t already know.  Hard to break into, helps if you are in L.A. or New York, a lot of times *real* actors get first shot anyway.

Sherri: A Dream and you’d even think of not going?  Stop being stupid.  Send in the registration and check.

Done

Sherri: I’ve decided to attend the Gettysburg Review Workshop. It’s during the last week of school and close enough that I can drive and the price works. 

Sherri:  And?

Sherri: That’s it.

Sherri: Well then fill out the application, write a deposit slip, send in a sample of your writing and let’s go!

Going to Do