Drive It Like You Stole It

The coolest person in the world sent me this book.

I read it yesterday.

Yes, the whole thing. I had to occupy myself somehow between the commercials (actually I didn’t even watch the commercials, I don’t care that much.)

It was good, quite good. It made me want to write.

Something that I keep telling myself that I don’t really want to do, something that I can’t do. But then I think maybe, between when I’m done dicing tomatoes and when the quinoa is ready I can get a few minutes of writing in. Other people do it. Lots of people have told me how they did it (and by told me, I mean written it on their blogs or something… I know I’ve heard that anyway) I could do that too, right?

Sort of, but ultimately, nope.

I could write a book that way but I can’t make one up that way. In order to make up a story I have to have the characters walk around in my head for a while and in order for them to walk around they need a little space. And unfortunately for Emery and Jack and Justin and the whole gang, all space in my head is currently being taken up by bacteria with lophtrochus flagella and standard deviations, there’s just not any extra to spare.

I could probably write in snatches but I can’t plot in snatches. To really plot I’d have to let Jane and her enormous dog wander around in my head at the very least, while I did the mindless things like washing dishes or making dinner. But even that time is currently taken up by a mental review of the electron transport chain.

The thing is that, as much as I like to think I am good at multitasking, I am not good at multitasking. I am spectacular at prioritizing. (By that I mean that I’m really good at establishing an order and going through my tasks in that order, not that I always put my life in the correct order.) And at the moment right trending plot lines and the intererptide bridges of peptidoglycan cell walls have priority over Emery glowering at Jack while the female med student giggles up at him in an adoring way.

Most of the time I don’t mind it, really I don’t. I find the synthesis of bacterial spores surprisingly interesting (scatter plots not quite so much) I LOVE learning new things, I love the possibilities that I have before me. It’s just when I read a book with well written interesting characters that I’m a little sad that, while I may become the next Dr. Quinn, medicine woman, or that with all this microbiology and organic chemistry and statistics under my belt I may single handedly cure cancer, those possible futures don’t also include best selling author.

Not for a while at least.


I got out of work about an hour and a half early yesterday.  It was a beautiful day, about 65 degrees, slight breeze, the sun was shining in a Toy Story sky (you know the clear blue with the white puffy clouds dotting the sky).

The first part of the ride home is the best part of the ride home.  The hospital sits about half way up a mountain so the first part of the ride goes down.  Down through the U of U campus which is a great place to ride because the roads are twisty and turny but it’s a college campus so the people driving there are used to cyclist enough that it’s not too scary to ride the twisty  turny roads.  Because I got off early there were more than the usual number of cars on the roads and in a few places the roads go down to one lane without enough shoulder to pass me on my bike.  For a minute I felt bad for the people in the cars behind me but then I realized that the downhill was sufficient that I was going a good 25 of 30 and they shouldn’t be going much faster than that anyway.

Just off the campus I got stopped at a light and one lane over there was a guy on a fixie.  (A fixed gear bike is set up so without a freewheel which means that if the back wheel’s turning the pedals are too.  There’s no coasting.  It also means that you can (at least in theory) ride backwards.)  I’ve heard about fixies and their riders that they can stay on the pedals at a standstill and just roll the bike back and forth as needed to not fall over.  I had never seen it but it’s true.  Very interesting.

Around the corner, onto 13th E and Garth Brooks “Ain’t Goin’ Down til the Sun Comes Up” comes on the i-pod.  This song is just fun.  It’s upbeat and quick and a really good riding song.  I find myself pedaling hard enough that despite the fact that the road is relatively flat, I lose resistance (because I’m now coasting faster than I can pedal).

I make it to 8th S. and the road really turns down.  8th S is completely straight.  And it goes straight down.  I keep telling myself that one day I’m going to do it without hitting the brakes at all.  But not today.  Still, even with the occasional tap of the brakes I get to the light at the bottom of the hill with tears streaming from my eyes from the wind and a huge smile on my face.

I’m stopped at the light at the bottom of the hill.  Have a little drink, adjust my headphones.  The light changes and just as I get back on the pedals a guy blows right by me. He’s cruising.  I assume that he’s still working off the momentum from the hill.

We get stopped at the next light together.  “Sorry for passing you like that, I just was coming off the hill..” he says.

“No sweat” I reply, “If you’ve got the momentum use it.”

“Yeah,” he says, “but then you get stopped at this light.”

“This road’s awful for that,” I say, “I ride it all the way across the valley and I inevitably get stopped 7 or8 times.”

“How far do you take it?” He asks.

“I ride from 13thE. at the top of the hill across to the Jordan River Parkway Trail (about 13th W)”

“Oh wow, you are going all the way across.” he says, “do you do that everyday?”

“No, once a week” I say, ” every Tuesday.”

The light changes.  We both get back on our pedals.  He’s faster than I am.  Not surprising, most people are faster than I am.  But he’s not so fast that I lose him altogether.  He slows to make a turn and I wave goodbye.  “See you next Tuesday,” he says.

And I ride across the valley.  8th S. has a bike lane all the way across so I don’t have to worry too much about cars and despite what I told the guy at the bottom of the hill, today I’m only stopped at 3 lights on my way to the trail.

I pick up the Jordan River Parkway Trail, a paved trail about one lane wide, and roll through the first of a series of parks.  I have a choice here.  I can take a right and ride into a neighborhood and then back to the trail, it’s the technical route of the trail, or I can go left and go over “the jump” and along a dirt trail back to the official trail.  I’m feeling good, I take the jump.

I hit it just right, going quick but not too fast.  I hop over it and then onto the trail and for just a minute I get to pretend that I’m some kind of mountain biker, rocking the single track.  Then I’m back on the paved trail.  I roll through some sort of garden.  I’m not sure what park this is, it’s too far north for me to be very familiar with the area but it’s lovely, flowering shrubs, benches, fountains.

Out of the park, across the street and I keep following the river.

As I cross one street and get back on the trail, I pass a bench with three teenage boys sitting on it.  As I approach I see one hand something to another of them.  As I pass I see all three with their hands suspiciously tucked out of sight.  And I smell pot.  I find myself giggling, I can’t help it.  I feel good.  So good.  “I know what you’re doing” I holler over my shoulder at the boys, I just can’t resist.

Following the trail, river on my right, I see ducks and pheasants.  The train gate is open which I love.  When it’s closed I’m forced through a series of switchbacks designed to slow riders down so that they don’t get hit by a train.  It’s a noble endeavor, but I can’t do the switchbacks on my bike and I’d really hate to have to get off.

Across the train tracks and down under an underpass.  I keep rolling, feeling good.  Feeling fantastic.

It occurs to me as I cruise along that I would be sad to miss this, to miss the way that I feel.  Yeah, I’m sweating, I’m breathing hard, but I feel amazing.  This is why I have a body, I  think this is why I wanted a body, why I fought for one.  Suddenly that whole concept makes a lot more sense to me.

I make it to the duck place and I wonder if I’ll see the girl on the horse again.  Last week there was a girl galloping (cantering? ) a horse through the muddy sandy “beach” by the pond. she’s not here today, but she’s been here or at least someone on a horse has.  Dodging horse pies becomes a game that I play as I ride along.

I’m listening to Green Day and planning on taking the long way around to my house when I realize that if I take the short way I’ll be home in time for Sean to go to mutual.  I get off the trail and hit the roads for the rest of the ride.  I have to be more careful here.  The drivers on the west side aren’t as considerate of cyclists and there are no bike lanes.  Still I make it without incident, sprinting down the street to my house faster Alison, faster I chant in my head.  I always sprint down my street, may as well end the ride with a bang.

And then I roll into my driveway.

With a commute like this.  How could you do anything else?  It almost makes me sad that I only work one day a week.

I Have Got to Stop Doing This

The first problem is that I let myself go weeks without blogging.  That may not be a problem for any of you (in fact, I’m willing to bet that there are a few of you who are a little relieved when I don’t blog (you’re welcome for this summer BTW) ) but for me it’s a problem because my goal was to blog at least once a week and for those of you non math majors blogging every three (or four) weeks is not blogging once a week.

The second problem stems from the first.  Any time I’m not blogging pressure is building up.  When I’m blogging regularly I don’t notice so much, very little pressure builds up in the course of a day or two.  Even a week is not too big of a deal but by the end of three (or four) weeks there is considerable pressure.  What pressure you ask? (Yes, I’m aware that you don’t care) the pressure to write a really good post.  After three (or four) weeks I feel like I have to have something really good to blog about something that will, ideally, explain my absence but more importantly, explain why I’m back.

I feel like I have to have this post that’s great, that makes you laugh — or chuckle at least — or better yet, makes you cry.  A post that makes you realize that I’m a fantastic blogger and that you’ve missed my wit and wisdom terribly and that blah blah blah.  My returning post can not be about my workout today (which was really hard so hard in fact that I only did half of it which was a little sad because I have in the past done more than half of it (although I’ve never actually finished that particular work out) but today I did do it harder than I’ve ever done before (squatted lower, jumped higher, did all the push ups on my feet rather than dropping to my knees) so I’m actually not too disappointed.  Especially when I factor in the fact that I noticed today that the helper girl (you know the two people who stand behind the “instructor” and do the workout all with perky smiles on their faces) was totally phoning it in!  Her squats were not deep, she was hardly jumping at all (she did not drop to her knees but I’ll bet (I have to bet because I find it hard to watch the TV while I’m doing push ups) her form was not good) I don’t blame her.  It’s a stinking hard work out (as evidenced by the fact that I did not finish it) .  But I thought it was funny.)  See?  That’s not a good retuning post!

Neither is the one I was thinking about about the fact that the deadbolt on the back door broke –luckily when we were all inside so as to not be locking someone out (although now that I think about it I’m not sure how (or) why being locked in in so much better than being locked out) — and after pulling it apart and deciding that it could not be fixed, Shaun went to fairly great lengths to replace it (after having spent the day just using the front door) so that we can have a back door that looks like this: Let’s move past the dirtiness and the marks on the door left by the venetian blinds (yes, I know how to fix that I just don’t really care) and look at the fact that on this door, right next to the lock, I have not one but two broken window panes that have been expertly “repaired” with cardboard and duct tape.  Yeah, we’d better hurry and get a new deadbolt in there, we wouldn’t want to leave our house exposed.  (In our defense (pun intended) that is corrugated cardboard and there are two layers of it.  We’re totally safe.)  See?  Again, not a great blog post.

I also though about posting about the very nice guy on the Jordan River Parkway Trail that I was riding yesterday who helped me with my tire (I had a flat) and perhaps to mention that while what we tried (pumping it up) didn’t work,  (because the problem with my tire wasn’t something that could be repaired on the trail, or indeed at home, it can only be repaired by throwing that particular inner tube in the garbage) I appreciate the effort just the same.  And I got  a lot farther than a I would have if he hadn’t helped me out which was good because I still had to walk a fair bit.  Also that I really need to start carrying a cell phone with me when I ride.  And possibly that I got really lost on the trail but I love that I live in Utah so I always knew that I was going in (more or less) the right direction and that I would eventually end up some where that I could identify.   And I did.  I just have no idea how I got there.  (I’m very visual and I can’t find anything without a mental map.  Unfortunately I can’t get my ride yesterday to coincide with my current mental map.  Good thing I can map my ride it and see an actual map and then I’ll be fine.)

I really should blog about the Pea’s 8th birthday, which is today, but honestly I’m not really a fan of birthday posts (except for yours, I love yours) so I’ll probably just say Happy Birthday to the Pea and leave it at that.  (For that matter, I could blog about my 12th wedding anniversary which is tomorrow but I probably won’t, I hit the anniversary once –read it here, it’s good– and that will probably do it for the next few years.)

The third problem (I’ll bet you forgot that I was listing the problems I’m having with this blog) is the layout.  I’ve had numerous comments on the layout here in the Wonderland and they’ve all been positive (which I love) and honestly I really really like the layout, I like the colors, I like that it’s feminine without being overly feminine and I used to love that the text portion is wide.  Now… not so much.  See the wide text thing is great if you’re going to write really long posts, or if you’re going to, say, post chapters of your book as blog posts (which is the reason that I wanted the wide text thing in the first place.  And I’m sure you’ve noticed how often I’ve posted chapters of my books as blog posts…) but if you don’t have much to say it can be daunting.  I write what feels like a decent length post and then post it only to click over and see that it doesn’t even fill the screen.  (Right there, I can see the next (last) post peeking up at the bottom of the screen.  I can see its title, I can even see the first line or two.  Heck I’ve hardly written anything at all. *Hangs head in shame.*)  So I’m thinking about changing it but, that’s a lot (and by a lot I mean some) of work, I’m not sure I’m up to it.

So there you have it.  The reason that I’m not blogging, or that I haven’t been blogging or that… oh forget it.

Look What I Got!!!!

Happy Christmas everyone. How was your day?  Mine was fantastic!  It started the night before with a special gift from my husband (that is none of your business) and then we had a great Christmas in which none of my kids cried because they didn’t get what they wanted.  They did not cry because what their brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, or random stranger got was better than what they got.  They didn’t cry because they didn’t get the thing they’ve always wanted (never mind the fact that they didn’t bother to put it on any list anywhere an only bothered to mention it to their mother at 6:30 on Christmas eve.  They didn’t even cry because it was someone else’s turn to open presents.  (There may have been one incidence of crying related to some hitting and a disagreement over a toy gun but really folks, that’s nothing.)  See, look at the joy:

The Princess (Yes, they’re all wearing the same pajamas, because I made them.  How cute is that?!)

Now I know that we’re supposed to focus on what we gave and on the time spent with family blah blah blah, but I got the coolest gift for Christmas and right now that’s what I’d prefer to focus on.

See, I got my book.  Published.

It turns out that my father and my brother are crazy (I understand that my sister may have been in on it as well)  and they decided to publish my book for me.  So they edited and formatted and designed a cover and all the other stuff that you do when you’re publishing a book (with the exception of notifying and getting input from the author for obvious reasons) and then they published it.  Look how cool it looks:

Only, you know, with a lot less glare.

But COME ON, you have to admit, that’s a cool gift.

So how as your Christmas? Did you get what you wanted?  What you didn’t even know you wanted?  Because if not, I’m told that there are a few copies left from the big first printing run (of ten copies) I could probably even get the author to sign it for you.  Heck, I think I’m going to buy one.

Waxing Rhapsodic

I have that feeling again.  That fragile, scrubbed clean, wistful feeling you get when you reach the end of another life, the conclusion, or is it just the beginning? of another story.  I’m restless and tired and the edges of my vision seem to have shifted slightly as if the color has suddenly taken on another texture, the air a slightly different and unfamiliar shape.

I get this every time I finish reading another book but at some times it’s more pronounced than others.  Mostly the spectrum is controlled by the depth of the book, the deeper the book the deeper the shift in my reality.  Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos has produced a slight ache somewhere in the vicinity of my creativity.  I long to write.  To write something, anything but preferably something beautiful and moving and pregnant with meaning and possibility where a pause in conversation or the shifting of one’s weight, the most innocuous movement that in real life, at least in my life, would go completely unnoticed is heavy with import and opens vistas of insight.

I wonder when I read books like this if people really see the world this way?  Are there people who really read the body language of the people around them this closely? Never mind baking a chicken “filling (the)… house with it’s gold tinged aroma”?  Am I somehow the only one who doesn’t see these things?

But I do when I read books like this and maybe with practice I can, at least occasionally, when I’m looking at my life rather than at a book.   I really need to work on that.

Meet the Mental Company

I”m not sure if it’s summer doldrums or something about the air quality this time of year but my thoughts are again turning to writing.   It was a bout this time of year four years ago that I wrote On the Table and it kind of seems like I get this every summer, NaNoWriMo be darned (this is a family blog afterall) , it’s August for me.

This year I tell myself repeatedly that I don’t have time to start writing a novel, I’m going back to school in two weeks  for heaven’s sake!  And I don’t.  But these people keep walking around in my head.

So I thought I’d introduce you.

I have a whole cast of characters for a fantasy novel wandering around.  Most are unnamed as of this point but there’s the leader of the band of thieves who’s bored because nothing’s a challenge anymore.  There’s no rival as far as thieves go, and running the gang is boring, and weirdly administrative and not the slightest bit interesting.  So she’s looking for the next big score.

Then there’s the farm boy, his village has been razed, he was the only survivor and he’s now going to find his brother who left home before he was born, because he needs someone to take care of him afterall.

There’s the serving girl that the farm boy runs into early in his journey, she’s a guardian, some kind of rare something (genetic mutation? religious sect?  I’m not sure yet) who are compelled to guard their charges (as selected by the universe) her charge is the farm boy.  She’s not happy about it.  But it’s a good thing for him because he’d be toast without her.

Then, of course, there’s the wicked despot (a fantasy book just wouldn’t be a fantasy book without a wicked despot) he used to be the general but he staged a coup about a year ago and now he’s running the country into the ground.

Never fear, our band of miss-matched and reluctant warriors is here…

There’s more to it of course but hey, I might actually write it one day, I don’t want to give  away too much.

Then there’s the light and fluffy beach book.  None of these characters have names either (apparently those come later) but our heroine is some kind of Hollywood personal assistant, aspiring actress? something who runs into the current Hollywood heartthrob.  She disdains his advances, something he’s unused to, the usual wackiness ensues…

Nothing ground breaking there but I think it would be fun to write.

Too bad I can’t write it.

This Is Not a Public Service Announcement

See, I just entered and give-away.  I don’t usually bother but they’re giving away some cool stuff and I figured why not?  Right?  And I get another entry  if I blog about it and post a link.  So I’m doing it.  But really I’d prefer it if you didn’t follow the link and if you didn’t enter and if you stayed far far away.  Because, let’s face it, the more people who enter the less chance I have of winning.  So I’m not going to act all nice and sharing and all that crap and tell you that you all ought to head over so that you can have a chance to win.  Seriously, stay away.

There’s more that I should blog about, I have several posts rattling around in my head but I’m grumpy and I don’t feel like it so I’m going to post this video instead for any of you who live under a rock and haven’t seen it yet. And while I’m at it can I just say that I’m pretty new to the whole Buffy phenomenon (well, that’s not technically true I’ve been a fan of the movie for years but I’ve just started on the show) so I didn’t really know her story (particularly in regards to Angel) but can someone please explain HOW SOMEONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT BUFFY COULD THINK THAT TWILIGHT WAS AT ALL NEW or even particularly interesting?  There’s even an episode where Buffy can read everyone’s thoughts except for Angel’s!  Talk about taking a story that was interesting, switching a few parts around and calling it new.  (In her defense, it’s my understanding that Stephanie Meyer never watched Buffy.  I’m not saying that she stole the idea or plagiarized or anything nefarious, I just don’t understand the phenomena.  (And I should be so lucky as to have an old idea hit like hers did.))  I guess it’ just goes to show that there really is “nothing new under the sun,” see kids, the bible’s right after all.

Oh and head on over to Mormon Mommy Blogs and enter the give away, there’s lots of good stuff going.

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