Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Four Inches

You are about to read my first attempts at screenwriting. The following scene is inspired by actual events.


A Man and a woman are in bed. The woman is of average size and is curled up like a cocoon, transforming her body into the size of a small child. The man is stretched across the bed with two pillows stuffed under his head and one tucked under his leg. He snuggles another pillow with one arm, and with his other hand, he clutches a jar of Vicks vaporub. He tosses and turns, shoving the woman to the edge of the bed.

(elbowing the man in the ribs)

You’re hogging the bed. Move.

The man wiggles in the bed, groaning.

I’m measuring my butt. It’s four inches.

No way. Your butt isn’t even close to four inches.

Give me your hand then. I’ll show you.

Husband reaches for Wife’s hand. She wiggles away. He reaches again, accidentally thrusting the jar of Vicks into Wife’s nose.

(throwing jar of Vicks across the room)


Why did you throw my Vicks?

It was in the bed! In my face!

Wife sits up. She is now yelling.

Why the hell are you sleeping with a jar of Vicks anyway? It’s giving
me a headache!

I NEED IT! I’m sick!

You’re so weird. Nobody sleeps while clutching a jar of Vicks.

She squirms again, fighting for a few extra inches of space.

You’re still hogging the bed.

(throwing up his arms in exasperation)

I told you! It’s four inches!

There is no way your ass is four inches! MOVE OVER!

At this point, when one of us busted out laughing, the conversation ended. I don’t know who started laughing first, but despite the fact that he felt horrible with his sinus infection and that I had just dealt with a crying child minutes earlier, we both just cracked up.

It’s a given that my husband hogs the bed every night. He uses about 10 pillows and while trying to get comfortable, kicks his legs around and destroys the blankets. I use one pillow, and if I sleep alone, I don’t even have to make the bed. In fact, you can barely tell someone slept in it. When my husband sleeps, it literally looks like a tornado twisted, turned, and ripped the sheets right off the bed.

With a larger bed, there would be more real estate to go around, but after sleeping this way for years, maybe we wouldn’t sleep as well. And even if we did, we wouldn’t be able to have such interesting conversations, or arguments, in the middle of the night. It is true, that last night, he was actually measuring—in the dark, with his hand, mind you—the distance from the edge of our mattress to the side of his rear. Because I was forced (after the jar of Vicks went crashing into the wall) to feel the mattress, I can verify that he was right: only four inches saved his butt, not his whole body, just his butt, from falling off the bed. That’s because the rest of his body was in the middle, and mostly on my side, of the bed. Imagine a letter V. That’s him. Upper torso on Wife’s side. Butt on his side. Legs on Wife’s side.

I suppose we could get a king sized mattress. That would solve this bed hogging issue. I wonder though: would we miss the issue? Every night, he hogs the bed, and it drives me nuts. Every night, I read with the light on until midnight, and that drives him nuts. Either way, when he is out of town for some reason, causing me to sleep alone, I admit to feeling a little lonely. I actually miss being thumped by the occasional elbow or knee. And when he is away from home, he never sleeps well. I doubt he would admit it, but I bet he misses my light.

In a marriage, we can fight and argue and drive each other crazy, but I guess if we can laugh about things, that always makes situations better. The things our spouses do that drives us nuts are usually the things we love the most. We may not admit it, but it’s true. In any event, a good sense of humor certainly can help. Marriage can be many things, as well as a great source of entertainment. When I’m particularly annoyed or frustrated, I always think, “if someone were watching this on a big screen, they would think we were quite funny.” I suppose that’s true for most couples, so we should laugh more. And, in our case, forget about mattress shopping. We’ll keep the queen.

Book Talk: Still reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Yes, I know, it’s taking me awhile. Not because it isn’t good; I’m just trying to savor it. And for once, I don’t have anything waiting in the wings anyway, so I might as well go slowly. I’m busy writing, and any leftover time I have to myself has been devoted to movies.

Movie Talk: Last night we watched the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. It’s something everyone should see, and I hope the success at the Oscars brings more attention to the film and the issue, especially with our politicians. Even my 6-year-old is aware of the issue and is dedicated to fighting global warming. Surely our government can be more committed.

Miles ran yesterday: five
Miles to run today: zero!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Laura Ingalls and Dog Chow

My daughter and I have gone Little House on the Prairie crazy. We’ve read the first book and have watched the first two disks from the first season. In fact, we only have one more episode on the Ma disc, and then we’re moving on to the Mary disc! How exciting!

The last episode we watched was when Pa decided to take Ma on her second honeymoon. To my daughter’s enjoyment, Mr. Edwards ended up babysitting the girls. At one point, he shot a hole through the roof, lost Carrie, and served the girls snake soup for dinner. Despite his failings, my daughter, like the Ingalls girls, is quite a fan of Mr. Edwards.

This morning, she was singing “Old Man Tucker.” She only knows the tune, so she was substituting words for the song Mr. Edwards is always singing.

“I wish I knew the words, honey,” I said. “Maybe I can look them up for you.”

“Oh,” she said. “On Laura Ingalls dot com?”

At first, I cracked up, but then I ran to the computer, and sure enough, does exist. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m sure Laura Ingalls would be!

Other news, my son is successfully completing our version of toddler boot camp. With persistence, patience, and much love, the chief has been knocked down a notch. We all, including my son, are happier for it. He’s eating with utensils again, successfully finding his way to the toilet, and is spending much less time in the Time Out chair.

As usual, he keeps us laughing with his strange revelations and comments on daily life. This afternoon on our way home from preschool, he said, “Don’t worry about me, guys! I’m just soooo flusterated, okay? Don’t worry though. I’m fine.”

Book Talk: I finished and loved, loved, loved The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian. It’s suspenseful and will keep you guessing until the end. I raced through it and was happy to find a wonderful twist waiting for me at the finish. This is the fourth novel by Bohjalian that I’ve read, and I’ve enjoyed them all.

This one reminds me of an early work of his, Midwives. Reading that novel was one of the first times I can recall gasping aloud at an ending. The surprise gave me the chills and forced me to get on the phone and call someone. The Double Bind offers the same and much more. I especially loved the many references to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

If you haven’t read Gatsby before, please do. Other than Pride and Prejudice and The English Patient, it’s the only novel I reread each year. Beautiful prose, memorable characters, and mostly Jay Gatsby himself are what pull me back to the story time and time again. It is a must-read, and if you intend to read The Double Bind by Bohjalian, be sure to read Gatsby first. Can’t tell you why. Just trust me.

One more thing: I’m pretty certain that nobody is reading this blog; however, the next piece of information will serve as a test. If my sister is reading, I’m certain (if I don’t hear her cackling all the way from the north side of town) that she’ll respond and make fun of me. If my parents are reading, they’ll respond and be concerned. If my friends are reading, well, depending on which friend you are, you might be concerned as well. If you’re the friend who logs onto blogger as Dick Hertzer or Don Keyballs (yes, this is an actual friend of mine that I claim with much love), you’ll probably be laughing as well.

The news: I fell in my kitchen today. I had just finished mopping the floor so it could stay clean for approximately three seconds before the dog and/or children trashed it. Just after trapping the dog and his dirty feet outside and warning the children to stay off the slippery surface, who do you think comes waltzing into the kitchen to fall on her ass? Me. Not only did I fall, but I also managed to crash into the dog food bowl and send dog chow flying as far as the couch in the living room.

Go ahead, Sister and Friends. Laugh. However, you should know that I almost cried (yes, it hurt that much), and I have a swollen hand to go along with my bruised hip and knee. I’m sure, despite the diabolical side you’re all showing right this second as you’re doubled over laughing, that you’re all deeply concerned, and I thank you for that. Calls of concern are welcome at any time.

What I’m reading: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Miles to run today: 4

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Chief

My son thinks he’s a dictator these days. Since birth, he’s had such a sweet, gentle disposition, and suddenly, he’s a little tyrant. I guess I should rephrase that; he isn’t really mean, but it’s very clear to all of us that he definitely thinks he is the captain of this ship.

I’ve already raised one kid through the toddler years, so my experiences with my son shouldn’t be surprising. After all, it isn’t rocket science; everyone knows that toddlers like to feel in charge and be independent. Yet, every now and then, I’m still shocked when he stares me down, smiles, and defies me.

This morning, we were reading his favorite truck book for the millionth time. It was a wonderful moment. We were covered up with a blanket, and he was snuggled up beside me while listening intently. I was right in the middle of, “a grapple truck has a claw that can pick up strangely shaped loads” when I was interrupted by a rattling sound.

“Look, Mommy,” he said, smiling and shaking his Diego Rescue Pack stethoscope. “It’s a shaker.”

“Yep. It’s a shaker.” I smiled and continued, “The grapple truck can carry anything from—”

“Mommy!” he said, elbowing me. “LOOK at the shaker.”

“Yes, honey, I see. It’s a shaker. Now, do you want me to read the truck book?” He nodded. “Okay. The grapple truck can carry a load of bricks—”

And now I’m interrupted again, except this time he’s singing Jingle Bells. I stopped reading and sat the book on my lap, thinking I would watch him sing the song while he shook the “shaker.” Once he finished, I assumed we would go back to discussing the fine points of a grapple truck.

I was wrong.

“Mommy!” the dictator said. “READ!” I frowned. He should know me better than that. The dictator frowned back. “Mommy. Read. Please.”

I picked up the book and continued while he began singing Jingle Bells again. He sang the chorus seven times while I read about a gantry crane, forklift, and a platform loader. My daughter walked past and muttered, “You guys are weird.”

My thoughts exactly.

Later, while I was applying mascara, my benevolent little despot appeared by my side. He said nothing, but I could feel him hitting me on the rear with something I could only assume was Bo, his stuffed bear and best friend.

“Mommy. Say hi to Bo.”

“Hello, Bo!” I said in a cheery voice. “How are you today?”

“Mommy. Say hi to Bo.”

I sighed. “Hello, Bo.”

“Mommy! LOOK at Bo when he’s talking to you! Please!

Ah. Of course. How could I have forgotten that it’s rude not to look at someone when they are speaking to you?

Since my daughter’s 6-years-old now, I know we will survive these challenging toddler times, and I also know, that someday I will miss them. Often, I see him running behind our couch or on the other side of the kitchen counter. Except for the top of his head, he’s hidden, and I always smile at the little tuft of hair that appears to be dancing along. At that moment, I also get sad, realizing that someday there won’t be anyone that small running around our house. Mothers of toddlers often wonder how many times we can hear the phrase, “No! I do!” Or, “I do it myself!” But we have to sit back and enjoy it. Someday they’ll be teenagers, and we’ll be hearing the same kinds of words, except they’ll likely be accompanied with some profanity. I guess these days aren’t so hard after all.

Other thoughts: I’m very angry at the friend who suggested giving up chocolate for Lent. And I’m really angry at the friend who brought five boxes of Girl Scout cookies over to my house the other day. I’m surviving, but this is definitely going to be a long, long 40 days.

What I’m reading: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

Miles to Run today: Zero!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

First Loves and First Kisses

“Bubblegum, Bubblegum in a dish!
How many pieces do you wish?”

This was the game my daughter and I played for twenty minutes while waiting for JC Penney’s to open this morning. It was actually kind of fun, and I have to admit that I was impressed at how she was able to knock me out of the game every single time. I tried to teach her one of my favorite little hand-slapping games from back in the day thinking she would love “Down Down Baby,” but sadly, she wasn’t impressed.

She most definitely did not like the last line and frowned when I said, “I like a little boy, and he likes me!”

“Mom,” she said, blushing. “That’s not funny.”

I shrugged, feigning ignorance, although I knew what she was referring to.

It’s Jordan. The boy. The one who is not her “boyfriend but just a friend that is a boy.” The one she talks about constantly. She can barely say his name without smiling or giggling, and she also keeps his school picture in her treasure box. Granted, it’s the only school picture she has (apparently the rest of the kids didn’t hand any out. I know she didn’t.), but nevertheless, it’s in the treasure box right along side a ticket stub from a football game she went to with Daddy, her money, and a flower from Mommy’s wedding bouquet. I think it’s safe to say that, although she insists her feelings for him are purely platonic, I’m certain that she has her first crush.

Some would be shocked and say, “A crush? She’s just in kindergarten!” But I don’t. After all, she knows the rules; in fact, she tells everyone, “I’m not allowed to like boys or have a boyfriend until I’m 15-years-old.” Surely this will keep her emotions in check until at least her sophomore year of high school. Right?

Okay, so maybe I’m kidding myself. She’s going to like boys. Do I wish she would be completely oblivious to them? Sure, but then again, she’s so much like me in so many ways, and I admit to being crazy about boys when I was younger. I don’t recall any particular boys in kindergarten, but then again, I spent most of that year crying because I was quiet and shy. (Stop laughing, Friends. I was shy … once.)

In first grade though, I do remember Doug. He was the big man on campus, a total stud, and thanks to the influences of his older brother, taught the rest of our class the fine game of kissing tag. Of course nobody ever got kissed, but we all ran around with lips puckered trying to catch our first loves.

In the beginning of the year, it seemed as if our whole class played during recess, but by the time May rolled around, it was mostly girls, and of course, Doug. I guess the rest of the boys gave up when they realized that they were chasing and puckering and chasing and puckering, but no girls were chasing them back. Every girl in first grade was running and sweating and puckering like crazy, but chase those other boys? Of course not. We were all too busy chasing Doug.

To our dismay, nobody ever did kiss Doug. He wasn’t just a “fox,” he was fast and elusive. Aside from kissing tag, we all tried to impress Doug, but no matter how quickly we crossed the monkey bars or how far we kicked the kickball, Doug remained out of reach. Even being placed in the Bluebirds Reading Group (the # 1 smarty pants group) wasn’t impressive to Doug. He stayed single until he moved away in the second grade, and nobody has heard of him since.

Yep. It was our first experience in the painful world of unrequited love, and for my daughter, I suspect the Jordan craze is the same thing. I’m certain she thinks he’s “cute,” but mostly, I think she just wants to be his friend. According to her, everyone wants to be Jordan’s friend, and he just doesn’t have a lot of time left for her. Unlike me, she seems mostly unfazed by that fact. I would have cried and probably sulked behind a tree at recess. But not my daughter. When talking of Jordan’s busy recess schedule, she just smiled and said, “Oh well. I have other friends. And they like me and think I’m funny and nice. I suppose that’s all that matters.”

Yes! You go girl!

I so, so, so love my daughter for everything she is. She has a warm, sweet personality and a silly side that loves to giggle and be tickled. She’s also very compassionate and often thinks of others and prays for them. And I am so thankful for her strength, determination, and the fact that she likes herself. Am I scared about her liking boys? Maybe a little, but I’m way more afraid of her losing her innocence or self-esteem. If we can somehow keep all of that in her, then maybe boys, and really anything, won’t be much of a problem.

What I’m reading: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
What’s on deck: The Jane Austen Book Club
Miles to run today: 5
Number of Calories Hopefully Burned while Running: one million! Yeehaw!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Oh ...Leo

I watched The Departed last night and can proudly say that, yes, my love for Mr. DiCaprio is officially rekindled. I've never stopped admiring him; I just haven't spent much time with Leo lately. Last night, I was reminded why I should.

It's obvious that he's an incredible actor with three Oscar nominations and a list of films like What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Blood Diamond. And yes, I do admit to enjoying his performances and believe he is the best actor of my generation, but honestly, I just love, love, love to look at him! I admit it. No philosophical "Leonardo DiCaprio's the next Marlon Brando" talk from me. He's hot. Plain and simple.

If, you're like an old friend of mine who's always thought of Leo as too thin and boyish looking, well, check out the prison scene in The Departed. For a brief second, we see Leo working out. It's just a quick flash, so pay close attention, or use the "slow" feature on your remote like I did, and you'll see that Leo is definitely boyish no more. That boy is ab-tastic for sure.

Aside from rekindling the flames of desire for Leonardo, I spent the weekend taking care of my daughter who has been sick with strep throat. We read many books and watched tons of movies, including Flicka (Tim McGraw! Yeehaw!). Despite her fever, headache, and cough, she's been a real trooper and has complained little. We've both been enjoying our extra snuggling sessions.

At this point, my son is showing no signs of feeling anything other than a severe case of orneryness. Is that even a word? Anyway, the other day, he walked into our garage and stood beside our car and stared at it for a couple of minutes before sticking out his tongue and licking the door.

"Honey, why did you do that?" I asked.

He shrugged and wiped his tongue on his coat sleeve. "Because I wanted to do it last noon."

Translation: I wanted to do that yesterday. How interesting that he had been planning and contemplating such a move for 24 hours.

I asked, "Was that gross?"

"Yes, Mommy," he said. "I'm not goin to do that again. Not today or last noon."

Hmm. So glad he had that revelation and won't be licking cars again any time soon.

The agenda for today: Run! I slacked on my running last week, and the race is 60 days away! Yikes. I'll also be washing sheets and disinfecting the house while playing nurse.

What I'm reading: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
What I just finished: Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley and Persuasion by Jane Austen