Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Character Playlist

I was tagged by Kim at The Unbearable Writeness of Being to create a play list for the characters in my novel. This was challenging but a lot of fun. I tried to give a little insight into my characters without giving too much away. My novels a mystery and I'm keeping the details pretty tight until I get through the first edit. So here it goes:

This would have to be Juanita's theme song: "I Won't Back Down"

"Goody Two Shoes" for Victoria

"Somebody" by Depeche Mode exemplifies the relationship between Juanita and her husband Jack

Our victim, Savannah Hartmann is most definitely a "Man Eater"

Dennis Hartmann could find an epiphany in "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want"

Jimmy Gastone is my "Luka"

The intense Detective Rick Devine is living "Every Breath You Take"

Matthew Cashman is "The Gambler"

And Angus Kerwin, I'm pretty sure "Rock Lobster" is playing around his head most days.

Project 365 #26


Fortune comes when you're in search of inspiration.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Project 365 #25


Tonight's menu: Pesto Pizza, Cheese Pizza and a Swiss Chard with Extra Garlic.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Project 365 #23

Shooting While Driving

No deer or squirrels were harmed in the creation of this image. And I even managed to keep one hand on the wheel. My back-seat GPS unit was taking a break at that moment (but not for long).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Project 365 #22

One Crow

Crows are one of favorite parts of winter. As soon the weather dips below freezing they flock. Some mornings our entire yard is filled with them. Maybe it's because they have the attitude of New York City pigeons that I like them so much.

Today in the parking lot at ShopRite, this tree was filled with crows. It was like an homage to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. The moment I whipped out my trusty camera they flew off, all but this one who seemed a bit disconcerted by the quick retreat.

Toddlers Anonymous

"Hi, my name is William and I'm a Toddler."

It was while getting him dressed this morning as he cried telling me to go away because I wasn't putting on the right shirt (of course which shirt was the right one was his little secret) and then giggled wanting me to play with his toes that I realized there was very little difference between a toddler and a drunk.

Today was one of those where I felt like I was trapped chaperoning a pint-sized version of Peter O'Toole in My Favorite Year. I even found myself smelling his breath and checking his sippy-cup a couple of times just to make certain his grape juice hadn't fermented.

There was the happy drunk who gave me wet kisses and told me that he loved me. The one who flirted with everyone at ShopRite offering to share his drink with them. This happy fellow was quickly replaced by the angry drunk who insisted that he wasn't who he was nor was I who I am and then cried because I refused to agree with him. By the end of that conversation I wasn't quite sure who I was.

He fell asleep in the car and I smiled thinking all he needed was to sleep it off and he'd be his jolly old self but alas he awoke after ten minutes with drool on his chin and hurling accusations at me that I left his drink at home. Holding up his drink while driving was no match for his toddler logic which insisted that I left his drink home the other day (which I did). He didn't want "that one" (the perfectly good one in my hand) but "that one" (the one I left at home two days ago which doesn't really exist outside of the toddler conception of time and space). This went on for a while before he began singing the theme from "Arthur".

It's 9:30pm, my house looks like the remains of the biggest frat party ever and he's still going- singing songs and ready to put the lamp shade on his head. Help, is there a twelve step program for toddlers?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Project 365 #19

Hands, Hands, Fingers, Thumbs

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Project 365 #17

Robin's Wrong Turn

I could hardly believe it when I glanced out the window and found a robin sitting comfortably in the tree. When I see the robins hopping around the yard, it's my confirmation that spring is on its way. I think this was on a reconnaissance mission and took a wrong turn. Or maybe, even the robins know change has come.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a Day for Happy Tears!

The media was wed to the word historic to describe Barack Obama's inauguration today but it was such an inadequate description of what today meant.

Yes, Barack Obama is the first black man to be elected President of the United States but his election as President goes far beyond this first or any of the other firsts (first bi-racial President, first President of Kenyan ancestry, first President to be born in Hawaii). What the media has failed to realize is that it's not these firsts that define the campaign, election and the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Today was about the crashing roar of the people. Those who supported him, those who voted for him, those who were indifferent, and even those who villified him were listening today. I can not recall an inauguration in which the collective populace was willing to stop, listen and think. Today was a day where we grew up as a country and as people. I think we're ready to begin listening to one another, to begin a conversation. My tears were based on the hope that today was the start of transcending red and blue, black and white, rich and poor and all the other labels that separate us to begin working to create a our American dream. This is history in the making.

Project 365 #16

It Begins

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's Been a Long Time

I'm home after dinner with the ladies from the book club I've never had the chance to attend. While sitting there laughing, joking and eating great food, I realized it has been ages since I've enjoyed the company of a group of women with no children around.

It's not just moving from the city to the country to explain this. When I lived in the city it was still hard to get a group of women together for a night out. It was easier to negotiate a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. Married friends with kids had to negotiate child care arrangements with spouses and sitters. Single friends were dating or in the process of finding dates. One on one with a friend was okay but getting a group together could take months and months of phone calls, emails and cancellations.

I was certain this dinner was not going to happen. I waited for the email or the phone call. This afternoon when I saw an email with the subject line: Tonight's dinner, I was convinced it was a last minute cancellation but it was only a reminder.

There was a little conversation about children, none about husbands and some discussion of books. Mostly we laughed and ate heartily (with not one mention of calories). Now I think I'm going to have to do this more often.

Project 365 #15

Dog Toy

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Brain Freeze

I've been trying to stay focused these last couple of days but... but... it's so coooooold. I'm pretty sure my brain froze two days ago. It's hard to write when the wind chill dips to an uncomprehensible number (below zero might as well be infinity to me).

Then this morning when I woke before 5am and my nose was as cold as my dog's, it hit me. The idea of the century- HIBERNATION. This could be the answer to the whole global climate crisis. It was all a little hazy as I drifted in and out of consciousness as the eternal battle between discipline and comfort waged but the concept is simple enough.

A dedicated portion of the populace willing to sacrifice for the common good spends the blustery winter sleeping peacefully under flannel sheets and down comforters thus cutting down on fuel oil, exhaust emissions, electricity usage and all the other harmful aspects of our modern life. Once spring arrives, this heroes will be well rested and ready to be productive citizens once again.

They may suffer from extreme body odor, bed sores, morning breath reminscent of a rotting corpse, and an insatiable desire to raid their neighbor's garbage. I may have come up with a solution for these side-effects but then I drifted back to sleep again deciding to take the research slow and enjoy a mini-hibe (better known as sleeping in). Stay tuned for further updates and keep the noise down, some of us are sleeping.

Project 365 #13

Empty Nest

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Project 365 #10

Gene Kelly on the Wall

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Frustration of the Long Distance Writer

5 pages a day. That was the goal. Unfortunately life is conspiring against me. BB has given up his naps and has a the energy of kid who downs six Red Bulls a day. Now I'm lucky if I can eek out a page a day.

It's not just the fact that BB has given up, what I like to call my sanity break, but the mountain of chores that have piled up around me for months. I feel like all the king's horsemen trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again when it comes to keeping this house above the chaos into which it threatens to descend whenever I become seriously productive.

So I'm now revising my goal, 3 pages a day until I can rise above the chaos or get BB to learn to meditate for about an hour a day.

Project 365 Photo #8

Morning Moon

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Time for a Name Change

I've had it. I'm tired of calling myself a stay-at-home-mother. Stay at home? I left the house on at least five occasions this week alone.

I've hated that this title ever since I chose to give up full time work for full time mothering and household maintenance (although I should have read the fine print stating no time off for weekends, vacations, holidays or sick days).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the job even through all the whining, spills, unrecognizable stains, and the repetitive disorder which inflicts uncontrollable bouts of deja vu forcing you to repeat the same statements or acts hundreds of times in one day. Through all the battles and tears (even those of the kids), diapers, boo-boos, and vomit, there are these creatures that make you go all weak in the knees despite it all. I love the job. It's the title I hate.

Stay at home for me conjures up images of home arrests, security bracelets, and guards posted outside of doors. Is it any wonder people usually give me that pitying look when the conversation veers into the dreaded "what do you do?" moment. Over the years (13 to be exact) the most common reply has been to say something along the lines of "Oh, I wish I got to stay home too," before moving on to someone who gets to leave their house. It's like telling a prisoner in solitary confinement how lucky they are to get some "me" time.

Popular culture shows working mothers as strong, confident, chic women ready to take on the world. Heck, they even have their own magazine. Your stay-at-home mother, on the other hand, is seen at home or, if she is out of the house, trapped in some massive SUV (which really is like a house) schlepping kids from one activity to the next. Is she confident? Is she stylish? Nope, her hair hasn't been washed in days and she's wearing the same sweat pants for weeks praying no one will notice. Do we get a magazine? Nope, all we get is sympathy from those looking at us through the fog of sterotypes.

I'm not trying to add more fuel to the cultural wars here between mothers who work outside of the house and those that work from home. I'm just trying to get an update to our image- a little p.r. razzamatazz.

For you moms like me who've been dissatisfied with the stay-at-home moniker, the next time someone ask what you do throw some title at them that knocks them off balance. Maybe an out-in-the-world-mom or a domestic resource manager. Or try just printing up your job description and just handing it to them, smiling gleefully as they sift through all the pages. Hey the President of the United States has a massive bureacracy to help him get the job done; you on the otherhand have only your wits. Whatever it is you tell them just make sure it's more colorful than just being someone who simply stays in the house.

Project 365 Photo- # 5


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Never Ask A Writer these 10 Questions

  1. Is Your Book Finished Yet? If I'm not doing the happy-dance of ecstasy don't bother asking.
  2. Are you writing one of those Harry Potter books? Yeah except my guy is named Larry Trotter.
  3. Am I a character in your book? Yes, you and every other person I've ever met because who has time to create characters.
  4. Did this really happen to you? Once again, you've seen through me and know that I find dead bodies and solve crimes every day.
  5. Did you hear that Joe the Plumber got a book deal? AAAHHH!
  6. Is your book going to be just like [insert famous author's name here]? No mine is more like a Stephen King meets Toni Morrison with a wee bit of Tolstoy and a hybrid of The Da Vinci Code mixed with The Secret Life of Bees but only in the horror/gothic/romance/literary/sci-fi genre.
  7. Does it really take that long to write a book because my cousin/uncle/old college roommate wrote a whole book over the weekend? Unfortunately, I'm stuck with the old-fashioned notion of creating a story with a wider audience than my immediate relatives or stoner pals.
  8. Isn't that the same story [insert famous author's name here] just published? Just go away so I can cry now.
  9. How many different words do you have to use to write a story? Believe it or not this was an actual question asked of me while riding the NYC subway years ago.
  10. Are you sure it should take you this long to write your book? Could you be doing it wrong? This is where the writer imagines your death from a thousand paper cuts.

Project 365- Photo #4

Light Show

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kiss At Your Own Risk

Those little lips approached and what could I do? I saw the runny nose, heard the cough. I could have turned away, given him the cheek but the arms locked around my neck and SMACK right on the lips.

The result: He's bouncing around with a minor cough. I'm shivering, achy, sneezing, suffering from a stuffy nose.
All I want to do is . And the way I feel now, I'd gladly squeeze in between these two.

Project 365- Photo #2

Pine Cones

Monday, January 5, 2009

Project 365- Photo #1

Still Life With Canine

Project 365

So I just can't resist taking on yet another challenge!

I discovered Project 365 yesterday and thought, "I'll do it!" A photograph a day for 365 days, how hard can that be?

Well let's see what I come up with around day 237. I'll probably be taking pictures of each toe as I slowly run out of ideas. I'm just hoping I actually remember to post. The mom-frazzled brain is not what it used to be.

Here's to my digital camera- my new best friend.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

How Big Does a Moat Need to Be?

When I took over the play/guest room last year, I thought I had it made. Finally I had a room of my own. Oh the writing I was going to get done in my office. I figured I'd be on my fifth novel by now. Hah! The moment I step inside the RED ALERT button flashes signaling all offspring to initiate attack maneuvers.

"Mommy!!" It begins.

The rule: If the door is closed do not disturb me unless there is blood. What do my clever brood do to get around the rule? They open the door. Nothing says welcome like an open door. And the battle for my sanctuary is fought. Lately, I've given up and wander like a nomad through the house with my laptop searching for some spot where I can be left alone. My office has quickly turned into a repository of papers and debris (in other words junk).

But this must end. I need a place to write. I'm reclaiming my office. This will mean waging war against tricky adversaries intent on separating me from my keyboard. I wonder if our town zones for a moat. It's either that or huddle with my computer under the stairs typing out my story a word-a-day. Oh the challenges of life with children. Who knows, maybe I'll turn into the MacGyver of writers.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Wondering Why

Why is it so hard to do the things that are good for you?

I know I should be in bed so that I can get up early in the morning and write but instead I'm watching a movie and checking out blogs. I guess it could be worse. I could be watching a movie and checking out blogs with a big bowl of Breyer's triple chocolate ice cream.

Tomorrow when my alarm goes off around 5am, I'm hoping this will be the morning I kick my legs from under the covers and get up, shake the dust from my eyes and write before the day begins.
Wish me luck.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Zen and the Art of Running With My Dog

Fantasy and reality blur when it comes to my canine pal. The fantasy comes when I imagine the perfect dog- the ever faithful loyal companion at my side. Reality is a completely different story.

This creature looks calm and collected here. She even looks like the pooch of my fantasies but she's so much more:

(sung to the tune of the Slinky jingle)
What walks down stairs, alone in the night,
and raids the garbage can?
A dog, a dog, a mischievous cur!
Everyone knows it's Kisses.
It's Kisses, it's Kisses, the crazy,barking mutt.
She's barking. She's growling. Everyone knows it's Kisses.

Okay, it's pretty lame but I'm feeling a little loopy tonight but you kind of get the idea. She's not your normal cuddly creature. She growls and wags her tail at the same time, steals food, throws up and then decides to eat again (then throws it up again thus continuing the vicious cycle). She runs away at the slightest opportunity. She barks at people, animals, UPS and Fedex trucks (but not DHL), cars, leaves, grass, snow, trees, birds (except for crows), insects, shadows, air, family members and strangers- all with a deep gusto. She's moody and she's not exactly certain what her name is. And she's obsessive about rubber squeaky toys. So why, why would I choose to take this creature running with me?

Fantasy and reality converge once again. The fantasy Kisses runs alongside me. We run at the same pace- silent partners. The reality- she pulls the leash, flings herself at passing cars, chases leaves, weaves from one side of me to the other until she almost trips me up in the leash. She starts off every run the same way running like a cartoon dog, her back legs touching her front, tongue hanging out of mouth and ears flapping wildly.

Running is my form of meditation. It's where I connect with nature and my best ideas begin to percolate. And into this peaceful world I've brought Kisses.

As irritating as she is there's this moment once we've passed the cows that scare her into standing up on her hind-legs for an abnormally long period of time, when she slows down and we're side by side, my foot steps in rhythm with the patter of her nails on the ground and we become silent partners in the early morning stillness.

Of course the moment passes as she begins to panic that this is some plan I've hatched to abandon her in the woods and the pulling begins again but the pleasure comes in never knowing when the spell will be broken.

So tomorrow morning, while most of you are sleeping peacefully in your beds, I'll be out on the road with the girl of a thousand "No's".

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's New Year's Day, Where's the Change?

I woke up this morning later than I wanted (who could have imagined four and half hours of Season 4 of I Love Lucy could make you feel hung over). My house is still messy. I still need to lose 25 pounds (ouch) and my book isn't close to being finished. It's the same as last year.

When I was a kid I loved the idea of the arrival of a New Year. It was this opportunity to start fresh. It was like being born again without the diapers and having to learn all the basics (so I thought). New Year's Eve would find me writing down my impossibly long list of Resolutions. Resolved: I will no longer be this Sandra Hamlett but a more perfect version.

Then I'd wake up on New Years Day snuggled within my warm covers, sleep dust in my eyes and still glowing with the memory of the list that was going to bring me to perfection. Then sometime after breakfast when the day still marched to the same precise rhythm it always did and I'd already violated half my resolutions, I'd give up on the whole idea of the transformative power of a New Year and return to the comfort of my flawed self until the next New Year's Eve.

At 41, I've given up on the whole idea of resolutions. I choose manageable goals (no more than 5) instead. Unfortunately I'm in a rut and have been recognizing the same goals for the past couple of years without actually achieving them. 2009 is the year I go beyond goal recognition towards goal achievement. Let's proclaim 2009 the year of Project Management (how unsexy is that?)!

So without further ado here are my five goals for 2009:
  1. FINISH MY NOVEL- I must have a readable draft by the end of the year.
  2. FREELANCE- For as long as I can remember I've been wanting to become a freelance writer but procrastination has always stood in the way. I'm determined to have a real byline this year.
  3. FINANCES- We must get control of our finances and stop living by the cross-your-fingers-and-hope-it-works-out method that we've been following. I want to create a budget and stick to it.
  4. HOME IMPROVEMENT- There's a list of small projects taller than my toddler that needs to be done around here. Most of them would take 20 minutes or less but we've been putting them off for years.
  5. SEW- My wonderful husband bought me a sewing machine for our first Christmas in our new house five years ago and I've avoided it like the plague. There's something about the whole mechanical process that scares me. Give me the most complicated knitting pattern and I'm game but turning on the sewing machine makes my heart race.
So here's the big scary list of goals. Now the real trick is to treat them like projects and manage them throughout the year. I'll be checking in to let you know about my progress. So what are your goals, hopes or dreams for 2009?