Suprise Suprise Suprise

Sheila’s post about suprise parties got me to thinking about, well, suprise parties!

I don’t have any horror stories, in fact just the opposite.

1. My sister’s 40th birthday party. She had earlier in the year gone to a 40th birthday for a friend. It was a catered, private dinner cruise. It was lovely. She said she wished she could do that for her 40th birthday, but she couldn’t afford it. When I looked into it, and even asking my granddad, and my dad to pony up, I couldn’t really afford it either, but I got an idea. I coordinated a suprise dinner cruise for her. I snuck into her house (ok, I had a key) and fortunately she had synched her Palm pilot with her address book on her computer, so I was able to nab her entire address book, and invite all her friends. Then, her boyfriend arranged a “dinner” for her with another couple. Steve told her, “Sorry I couldn’t do a private yacht, but we thought a dinner cruise would be fun.” and my sister pasted a smile on her face as they boarded the Hornblower boat and said, “How nice,” in that voice that was tinged with a little “oh you cheapskate I would rather eat at a nice restaurant.”

But when she entered the ship’s dining room she saw there were oh, say 30 or 40 of her friends– friends from all over the US– and family– also from all over the US and she was totally, completely utterly suprised. It was awesome.

2. 2004. The worst year of my life so far. (although 2006 is in a tie at this point) I was turning 40. My granddad had died in February. I had to find a job, find a new place to live and move. And I was turning forty. Oh yeah, and my sister had cancer. Real bad cancer. Stage 4 breast cancer. In her liver, her brain, her bones. She was in bad shape. And we were settling my Granddad’s estate. And everyone was totally focused on helping Debby get better, and nobody gave a shit about me. Poor me. My life sucked.

August. The week before my birthday. My aunt and uncle and my cousin Katie were visiting, to deal with more estate business, to go through stuff in the house… to visit my poor cancerous sister. No one cared about me. Poor me. And my sister, too tired from chemo, said, “Why don’t you come here for dinner.” So I said, “OK.”

“And why don’t you stop at Trader Joe’s and get some wine.”

Trader Joe’s was on the way, so I said, “No problem.”

It was weird that she insisted I stop at Trader Joe’s, not Ralph’s or Vons… Aunt Mary K and Uncle Bill had gone over earlier. Katie was in the car with me. And I as I turned onto the street where Trader Joe’s is… and turned into the Trader Joe’s parking lot, I notice a whole bunch of people standing around holding balloons…. and one of those trucks with a giant, mega sized basket, a basket for a balloon. And I see my Aunt Mary K, and my Uncle Bill, and hey, what’s my friend Julie doing? she lives in LA! and there’s Karin! and Tina! and Scott! and Ralph ! and Catheryn… and I stall my car, and the person behind me honks because I’m not TURNING. INTO. THE. PARKING. LOT. FAST. ENOUGH. But who cares! Tears are streaming down my face and I’m laughing and crying at the same time, because they do care about me. No one forgot my birthday. My sister remembered my birthday. She arranged a balloon ride for me. For me and a bunch of my bestest friends. She’s the best sister ever.

So long, farewell, etc 2006

I had in draft form this post about saying adios to 2006. It was a crappy year. I’m glad to see it go. But the truth it its not quite done with me. So I really can’t say goodbye yet. Lord knows I need to soon. I have things to do this year, that just aren’t getting done.

I really need to work on my book, Reconstructing My Mother. I’ve not been writing much, except blogging, and writing articles for welding journals, which really doesn’t count. In fact sometimes I wonder if I use up all my words doing these other kinds of writing… but the reality is that the memoir project is an emotional place to be and I’m not strong enough right now.

But now I have a deadline. I’m pretty much signed up for (not yet paid, so I can still get out of it) taking a Master Class in memoir at the Taos Summer Writing conference hosted by the University of New Mexico. Which is where I started this book in 2005. The teacher for the master class is the same one I took from before, Gregory Martin, author of Mountain City and teacher extraordinaire. He’s already given me the OK to come to the master class. Now I need to have a first draft done. It does not need to be pretty, it just needs to be done. And done by the beginning of June. What am I nuts?? don’t answer that.

Anyone have any tips on how to just do it? Even 5 minutes a day seems like to too much right now. It’s like I’m sabotaging myself. I mean I just spent 1/2 an hour creating this post when I could have been working on my book. So now I have to beat myself up about it which just makes it worse. And I know I’m doing it and I still can’t stop.

Amy Wallen and Me at the Semi Permanent Ink Spot

get outta my way I'm gettin' some wine This is a picture of me at Amy Wallen’s book launch party. No, I don’t have a picture of Amy, this is my blog. It’s all about me!

Seriously… it really was all about Amy Wallen, and her book MoonPies and Movie Stars… as it should be. Amy is the hostess of First Friday Open Mic a production of San Diego Writers Ink, which is where you’ll find me most first Fridays of the month. Amy is a terrific hostess/emcee even if she is a bit anal about the 3 minute rule. She is also a great writer, which I knew before I read the book because I’d heard bits and pieces read pre-publication at said open mics and at writing workshops I’ve attended with Amy. Beyond that I would consider Amy a friend, and I can’t tell you how happy I am for her. She has put in the time and done the hard work and written a book I can heartily recommend.

Ruby Kincaid, bowling alley owner extraordinaire, sets off to California hot on the tail of her daughter Violet, who left Devine Texas four years earlier…. to complicate matters she doesn’t know how to get in touch with Violet, who had been recently spotted on the t.v. as the new Buttermaid (it’s better made). Along for the ride is Ruby’s her crazy carousing sister Loralva (so she can get on The Price is Right) and Imogene, Violet’s mother-in-law (who’s a sour puss but has the Winnebago for travelling and the money)… then there’s Bubbie and Bunny, the kids Violet had left behind.
Moonpies and Movie Stars has been reviewed now in the LA Times, and the Washington Post (A World Gone Madcap by Louis Bayard)so I won’t do a review here, but I will say she has written what I consider to be one of the best sentences ever:

“Aunt Loralva says let’s get a move on– Hollywood, California here we come!” Ruby’s heart stopped somewhere between Hollywood and California. It snagged on the comma.

I just love that line, “It snagged on the comma.” Get this book. It’s fun. And you’ll want to eat a Moonpie…. even if they do taste a bit like sugar covered cardboard.

I still love Leah

Even though Leah Peah didn’t participate in my Tag You’re It post. These things are silly anyway (sorry Sheila). I think I only did it because I was looking for something to post anyway, and why not reveal my weirdness??

So 2007 has come. I spent the last week cleaning my room. I polished my wooden bookshelves with lemon oil, and because I bought a new matress– the first new matress I’ve ever owned in my life– I had the opportunity to vacuum really well under said old matress before the new one was delivered. And while I was at it, I vacuumed in all the corners and crevices. And while I had the vacuum out, I decided to go get some of those Space Bags so I could free up some linen closet space. What fun it is to pack those bags and suck all the air out rendering them flat! Yes, I lead an exciting life. But seriously, it feels good to start the new year off with a very clean room, and space in my closet.

And while I was going through my closet, I pulled out more things for Good Will: a sweater I inadvertently put in the dryer (which had linted up my black jeans but good), a shoe rack, a sheet set and a couple of blankets (don’t worry I still have linens for guests), some shoes which although they may be really cute are horrendously uncomfortable. Over the next few days, these items will make it from the reading loft to the trunk of my car, and hopefully end up at the Good Will before long. It sure feels good to get it out of my room.

I still have paper work to go through, but I did manage to sort out a lot of things into various piles: recycling pile, shredding pile, and the I still need to deal with this stuff pile. It’s a work in progress.

So here’s to 2007, and all the possibilities! especially now that I have room!