NaNoWriMo Week 2: Into the Weeds

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1: 24,506

Cool, procrastination music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: those moments when inspiration hits and your feet just take over the dance floor. Confetti helps, of course. And screaming.

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (goals achieved for 14 straight days in a row! Woot!):

Meggie was frantically snapping shots, running almost in circles around each couple as the groomsmen escorted family up to their seats, parasols aloft, and then took their place beside the chaplain. There was a pause and then, each bridesmaid, in a delicate swirl of pale green silk, carrying bouquets of cream with arches of greenery and ribbons cascading from the bottom, began their slow procession to the alter. I knew, without a doubt, what those ladies had sacrificed by wearing thongs under Spanx and walking through the sand in high heels. There was sand between their toes and misery in their nether parts right now, all in the name of love. Psh. The fact that they could slap smiles on top of that makes me proud of strong women everywhere. But also shake my head.

I saw a swatch of pale gray pantsuit through the gap. Finally, I’d found her. Then I saw a swatch of black tuxedo and a sinuous slink of white lace pause at the end of the sidewalk. Two things happened at once. Lizzy McEwen turned with her back to me, to let them pass, and a sudden gust of wind came around my corner. The bride shrieked and when the pantsuit moved forward, I saw white flowers flying away on the beach, tumbling down the sandy shore. Someone at Dandelion Daydreams was going to be fired today and it made me happy to think that I wouldn’t be alone on the streets tonight. My hands started moving before I realized that I’d had a thought. Snip, snip, and another snip later, my arm reached out from behind the bushes.

Ms McEwen cocked her head to the side just enough to see the voluptuous cluster of exotic pink flowers in my proffered fist and that it was attached to an arm in black sleeves that extended from nowhere. She seized the hibiscus and with one deft twist, the bridal bouquet was filled with pink. It had taken almost no time at all, and immediately the bride and her father were down the aisle. Ms McEwen waited for a beat, then placed a hand on the corner of the building, the other on her bluetooth, leaned over and made eye contact with me, frowning a real, live frown.

I felt like a mouse caught in a trap, waiting for its fate. She looked at me like I was an alien with two heads. “Eagle has landed, cake in place, Zach no-show with the accordion, and can the florist.”

Now who had two heads?

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I’m Gina,” I said, “I can explain.”

NaNoWriMo Week 1: So It Begins

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1:  12,391

Cool, procrastination music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: working from home where I can shout, shout, let it all out without coworkers giving me the side-eye or putting customers on hold. I can cough and cough and cough without missing any work days. I am deeply grateful that I am able to spend my time spinning straw into gold. (Watch the whole bit. You’re welcome.)

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (unedited because knickety-knack and we don’t look back, please refer to #1 and #5, above):

Currants and Cream Catering was having none of it. Loretta herself wasn’t here, but it was apparent that she had a bouncer hired as her representative. The catering commando stood squarely in front of the gorgeous Mr O’Donnell and from what I could gather from peering through the window, was calmly informing him of the error of his ways. I was next in line, and I cowered mostly behind the windowsill, watching in mute horror as Shane had a few words with her.

I couldn’t hear a word because the piano man had obviously ignored the fact that everyone else was in the house now, and he put forth an energetic rendition of Elvis’ “I Want to Be Your Teddy Bear”. I thought I could hear him singing along with his tune, softly. Some people really get into their jobs.

When the commandant was finished, Mr O’Donnell began speaking. I could tell by his arm motions and the cock of his head. As he proceeded, Ms Currants and Cream began to thaw. Her shoulders dropped a little. Her face softened. She took her tightly crossed arms down and put a fist on one hip. I shivered a little in the evening breeze. It wasn’t cold, but I was wet in places that had no business being wet. My toes were swimming in little champagne pools.

“Tiny Bubbles,” crooned the piano man.

The catering queen smiled. Who wouldn’t? Just watching Shane – er, O’Donnell – from the backside was a treat. I watched her nod once, say something dismissive, and take the hand that O’Donnell extended. Her smile grew and she said a few more things before releasing his hand but once she did, he marched away and into the house. We both watched him go and she had to bark my name before I turned back to the business at hand.

She never told me what he’d said, but I was to remain a gainful employee of Currants and Cream Catering at least through the next week. This dinner was the prequel to the main event and if O’Donnell had put in a good word for me, it seemed that she was going to at least keep her word and not fire me until their contract was completed. This meant a wedding. A glorious affair next Sunday at the Hotel Del Coronado itself, the crown of San Diego, the historical monarchy of the coast, the next gleaming paycheck with my name on it.

I left with the catering truck and never saw him again, not even when I peeked through several windows while we packed our boxes and stacked leftover trays in their gleaming perfect kitchen. He was taller than a lamppost with a flaming red top. How hard could it be? But there you have it. Story of my life. What are you gonna do? It was really sweet of the guy. If I couldn’t thank him, I could at least pass on his good karma to the next klutz I met.

I passed the piano on my way out with the last box.

“You can stop now. Unless you know anything from the 80s?”

Tiki torches bounced their light off his smile.

I listened to his tune all the way home in my head. A deep rhythmic, rebellious, perfect for a wedding and my new job, rendition of “Another One Bites the Dust”.

****************

When I told Jen the story, she went nuts.

“You did what?” she questioned, “And Loretta took you back?”

She spooned mashed peas into her eleven month old.

“Loretta is pretty tough about her reputation. I can’t believe it.”

“It wasn’t my fault,” I began, “accidents happen, you know.”

The Forgetful Files Hotline

Hello and thank you for calling the Forgetful Files Hotline.

Your call is important to us.

Please choose from one of the following options, as our menu has recently changed.

To connect with the winning entry for our Father’s Day Writing Contest for Fame and Glory, please press ONE.

To hear the chirping crickets that came with that contest, because apparently Jolie has zero friends or perhaps all of her readers don’t actually have father-figures in their lives or maybe they don’t know how to type or probably they only kept the memories of when their dad caught them sneaking in after curfew and they just don’t think that’s funny, please press TWO.

To join Jolie in her Pity Party, please pour a cup of tea and press THREE.

For an explanation of why a fake entry wasn’t used to pretend there were at least two hundred entries submitted, even though Jolie can speak fluent “imaginary friend with a funny father story”, please press FOUR.

If you know your party’s extension and want to bring delicious flavor to it, please press FIVE.

To find out where Jolie and her dad spent Father’s Day, and to make sense of our recent Instagram photo, please press SIX.

If you would like some elevator music while you wait to be connected, please press SEVEN.

For a sneak preview of an upcoming blog subject, please press EIGHT.

If all you really wanted was five minutes out with the girls, because, seriously, if you had an extra ten minutes it wouldn’t be writing stories for a contest, please pour some pinot grigio, hide in the closet, and press NINE.

If you feel you have reached this number by mistake, please press TEN for verification.

Thank you for calling the Forgetful Files Hotline, and have a nice day.

 

Father’s Day Writing Contest for Fame and Glory

Let’s get this party started!

I’m hosting a writing contest for the next ten days, and the winner will have his or her story posted right here on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016. Get the rules below.

I’m extending it to actual Father’s Day, in case something happens on the 19th at the last minute and you just have to spill.

And also, so that the winning story will make you feel slightly better about your own Old Man.

I mean, if you knew that one of the family games in my youngest years involved stand-up improv in the living room, which involved my parents asking each child to act out a random word, and it always began with emotions (“Okay, now I want you to pretend you just got your very own puppy.”) and ended with awkward (“Right. So this time you have to be an appliance. You choose and we’ll try to guess what you are.”) then you wouldn’t roll your eyes so hard over the ways your own dad embarrassed you.

Riddle me this: have you ever pretended to be a blender, and did it so well that you brought down the house and ended up labeled for life?

I’m so thankful that television has evolved since then, and now you can watch other people do the blender on America’s Got Talent from the safe anonymity of your darkened couch.

So let’s have a laugh, or at least a groan. It’s short, have fun, play with it.

Rules to Win:

  1. Short and Includes a Dad: It must be 500 words or less and include something funny about or involving or somehow incriminating mentioning your dad. Moms, if you want to tell a “dad story” on your Hubby, that works. If you’re the dad in question and you pranked your kids, fine.
  2. Clean and Fun: Remember, not only is this a Rated G family blog but we want to laugh. As Dave Barry always said, “You can’t make this stuff up.”
  3. Full Disclosure: The dad in question must know what you’re submitting. Make sure you won’t be written out of his will if you tell the whole world-wide web about the time he pretended to be Santa, got stuck in the chimney, and the police had to pull him out. Make sure your marriage will remain intact. Trust me on this one.
  4. Fame and Glory: Oh, yes. Names are up to you. I recommend sticking to my method of never naming names, but I am happy to give your name full credit for the submission or keep you anonymous. Up to you. Let me know.
  5. Deets: Submit your entries starting now. Contest closes at midnight, San Diego time, on Sunday, June 19th, 2016. Judging will occur on Monday, June 20th. All entrants give me, the blogger, sole discretionary use of all submitted materials. Runners-up may be referred to in the June 21st blog and/or posted at a later time.
  6. How To: Click on my “Contact Me” page (above menu) and send in your entry. It’s easier to type up your story in any word document format, then copy/paste it into the comment box there. Leave your name and email so I can contact you back if you win. You can leave the “website” box empty.

When it’s in there, click “submit” and the whole thing will land in my laptop for judging.

I was sitting around in a group of friends one day, and my blog came up.

“Do you find,” asked one guy, “that people tend to behave themselves more than usual around you, now that you write? In case they end up in one of your stories?”

“Actually,” I replied, knowing exactly to whom I was speaking, “I find that they act up more than usual, in the hopes of making it into one of my posts.”

I let this sink in for a moment.

Then I said, “You know, the fame just calls to them.”

I continued, “Everyone wants to be noticed, but I’m pretty sure most are rather particular about what they’d like to be noticed for.”

One gentleman spoke up, “I really enjoy your stories.”

“Really?” I asked, “you read them all?”

“Well,” he replied, “I hear them all, which is a different thing. My wife sits across the table and makes me listen as she reads them.”

Oh.

“But,” he said in her defense, “I would just sit there and ask her what she’s reading and why she’s giggling and generally annoy her to bits otherwise, and apparently that’s not her version of a good time, so this is a fairly decent compromise.”

Well.

“Tell your wife that if there’s something on her mind that she needs you to hear, just let me know. I take requests.”

 

Bond Beneficiary

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it can sprout up through the humus of old piles of stuff, and when it’s ripe, you pick it.

My daughter, alone, found enough loose change under her bed to buy Christmas presents last year.

My son finally cleaned up a teetering pile of paperwork stashed in a corner and a crisp $20 bill fell out of an old birthday card.

I hope he thanked whoever it was at the time, because he did the Happy Dance for a solid half hour before it burned a hole through his pocket.

And once in a while, I find five dollar bills in the pocket of my jeans. Usually it’s only a couple of bucks though, because, debit cards.

And also, kids.

Last week’s search for a photo turned into this week’s discovery that I had a few prisoners left in the Jumanji box.

There actually was an old savings bond in that stack of memory mulch and it had secretly ripened four years ago.

I won it in 1982 in a county-wide writing contest with an essay titled “How the Declaration of Independence Affects Me Now”.

In 1982, the Declaration of Independence affected my grades.

In 2016, it’s gonna be my national treasure…all the way to the bank.

Stop everything you’re doing right now and pay attention.

If you have ever acquired a savings bond and stashed it away to “mature”, go dig it out and take a look at it.

Like wine, they have a time limit. You can only stash it away for so long, and then you’ve got vinegar. Mine is a series EE and after 30 years, it has all the interest on it that it will ever get.

I looked it up, and so can you: there are millions of dollars of savings bonds going UNCLAIMED because everyone stashed them, forgot about them, or don’t realize that they are as good as they’re gonna get.

Dare I say it?

It’s time to scythe through the jungles of your house and find your own ancient relics.

Face value is $50.

The contest people paid $25 for it at the time.

Today, I cash that puppy in for $146.00.

This is pretty great stuff *Happy Dance*.

Of course, it was made out to Miss Jolie Maiden Name at her original teensy house in the hood.

But Mr Roosevelt himself is next to it, and he’ll vouch for me.

He was there and witnessed it all.

And he took it seriously, watching me open and close the lid for over thirty years, playing his part in the game.

Hmm.

Unlike a certain award-winning writer, he hasn’t antiqued a bit.