Monday, August 31, 2015

Texting The First Day of School

First day of a new school for my tenth grade son. Not only is it his first day, it is his first day at a big school. The other ones have been charter schools with just over one hundred students. This one has twice that in the tenth grade alone.

So here is what I don't get. With all of the social media around, the ease with which we are constantly on our cell phones, and e-mail as addictive as chocolate covered caramels with sea salt, why am I not allowed to talk with him at school?

It should be so easy. All I'm asking for is this. I could text a little question, like how is my big guy doing on the first day of school? Made any friends yet? Teachers realize how awesome you are? Kids being polite and respectful? Who did you hang out with at lunch time? If they are future friends, will they be a good influence on you? Anyone offer you drugs?

I don't think that would be too much to ask on one text.

Then my fourteen year old could reply something to the effect of 'yes, mother. All of the kids are nice. We are studying in the library together after school. All of the teachers recognize my brilliance. Everybody likes me. Thank you, Mother, for showing an interest in my student career. I appreciate everything you have ever done for me.'

That sounds realistic, right?

Okay, maybe it sounds about as realistic as the fourth Scout And Ellie book that I have just finished the rough draft of. Probably more likely that a giraffe will move in next door to us and start dating the elephant living in the cottage in our backyard.

But if I can imagine that happening, I can tell myself that my kid would ever in a million years text me such a message.

He will be home in less than an hour. Guess I'll have to wait until then for him to tell me that school was fine, grab a bowl of cereal, and disappear into his bedroom to play video games. Any other parent out there relate to that?

Maybe I can hack into his Face book page and find out what he is posting to his friends. Then I will know what happened at school today.

Wish me luck!

Heather Leigh,
Social Media Dreamer

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Blond Libra Cliche

For me, the best way to make a major life decision, like whether or not to go swimming at the gym, is to not think about it. Because with my brain waves of reason, comes the knowledge that the water is cool, not warm. I might get a chill here, people! Do you realize that it takes me a full lap of hardcore crawl stroke to even begin thinking about adjusting to the water temperature? A full lap!!! No wonder I have to pick up my swimsuit, run out the door, drive like a maniac, and plunge into the pool before my brain can bring reason in to my awareness. It's a miracle I ever leave my house.

As I was staring at the bottom of the pool last night in my expert swim style (I did get an 'A' in all those college swim classes), I thought about how clever I am to have tricked my mind into getting into the harshly cold (heated) gym swimming pool. How I just do what needs to get done to keep body and spirit healthy.

But then, as I reached the end of the edge and prepared to switch to the breast stroke, I noticed the Nike check mark on my swim suit. I'm sure we all know their slogan: Just Do It. And then it hit me like a ton of freezing water. Just doing exercise without thinking about it, was marketed long ago by a major corporation. I am nothing but a sheep to the sales tactics of an exercise company. Some sales executive out there is just laughing at my folly, my self delusions.

I am nothing but a Nike cliche.

Is there nothing original about me? I thought that the way I laugh so danged loudly was a unique Heather thing. But then I read on Face book that Libras are naturally loud laughers. So there goes that one. I thought I was clueless about so many things, but then I see my hair in the mirror and remember I am just another blond. And a natural one at that, so there is no hope for smartness anywhere in my life.

Chocolate and wine are the building blocks of joy and bliss. But that is true for like every woman in America! The first draft of every story I write is crap, but Hemingway knew that about himself before I was even born! Loving my kids? Duh, so do mothers all over the world.

There has got to be something that sets me apart from the billions of other humans in the world. I mean, I want to be my own snowflake--not some cheap imitation.

Hey, wait! I got it! I can worry about all of this in just one twenty minute swim session. Hah! How many of you can come up with this much self doubt and angst in one work out. Yeah, so take that, you Nike executive. I am my own woman.

Hear me roar!

Oh, wait. That's another saying from a decade ago.

Oh well. I've still got a few more decades of living. Maybe I can figure out something that sets me a part from the crowd.

Any suggestions?

Heather Leigh,
Just another human

Monday, August 24, 2015

British Tea and Bumper Stickers

Now I will be the first to admit that there are many things which I do not understand. However, after reading a bumper sticker the other day, I got this one right off the bat. It read, "If you don't know the language, Go Home!" Good thing I got this. Otherwise I might have thought that this referred only to the people who didn't know English. Because since the local Yurok tribe was here way before the Europeans, this comment must be aimed at everyone who does not speak in their dialect.

And whoa! is this good news for me. Because now I get to go to England! I've always wanted to visit that place. I mean,  how much fun is it going to be to mess with those palace guards. I'm thinking that if I stage a faux fight between my teen aged sons, those guards will go so crazy, they will show finally some emotion: break down, and run away screaming. I mean, that's how I handle it.

After that, we're going to eat authentic fish and chips from the top of that humongous Ferris Wheel that you can see from outer space. And I've always wanted to buy a book from that Shop from that movie 'Notting Hill'. Wonder if Hugh Grant still owns it. He really is the cat's meow (that's U.S. slang for a really good looking person).

Think I could get lucky enough to meet my movie star crush, Alan Rickman? I just hope he doesn't wear his Snape professor cloak around the neighborhood. He was much more attractive in his turn of the century outfit in 'Sense and Sensibility' (best Romance book and movie EVER)!

I'll bet my boys will want to ride that underwater death claustrophobia-inducing traveling contraption that goes from England to France. I'll stay above ground and hope they make it back alive. Of course, they can't stay in France, because they don't speak the language.

The only real concern I have in this whole moving back to England after three hundred years away, is how that little island is going to hold all of the native English on it's shores. I mean, I don't really understand the mechanisms of how these things work, but it seems like that many people on one island would just sink it.

Maybe that's what happened to Atlantis. Everyone who spoke Atlantian and had left the island, all came back at once. They too would have all sunk the island. Wow, now returning to England has got me worried.

Geez Louis. I don't think the plan for us to return to England where we all speak the same language is going to work. Dang it. Perhaps if we all learn to speak the Yurok language, or whatever the dialogue was when us outsiders arrived, the original inhabitants will let us stay in the country. We can all promise to waste millions in their casinos. That might up the antie and convince them to let us back into the country.

So there goes my dream of moving back to England. But who knows. Maybe Alan Rickman will be buying a book at our local shop and he'll meet me, and be so enthralled with my humorous ways, that he'll invite me over for tea. It could happen.

Heather Leigh
The Understander of Bumper Stickers

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Suffering of Flies and Writers

Please know that my oldest son not only loves animals, he is also a vegetarian. So when I write that he pulled the wings off of a fly today, it was an accident. He was annoyed with the buzzing sound and was trying to put it outside. The wings just kind of fell off, he said.

Poor fly.

And while that fly will most certainly die, I feel a long distance kinship with it as I write the rough draft of Scout and Ellie, The Giraffe Next door. Okay, work with me here, people. It's not as though I had my legs cropped off, or my computer taken away, or any thing drastic like that. But well, sometimes it feels pretty close.

I mean, the last chapter, was it too whiny, slap-sticky, dull, or telling? Did the dialogue flow or sound even half-way realistic? That chapter about the apple orchard. Did I describe how messy it got in a comical enough way? Is the entire book going to be a cheap imitation of the rest of the series? Like a knock off Gucci bag from Tijuana?

Every day I am committed to writing a chapter a day. The only thing that allows me to go back to continuing the next day, is remembering that 'the first draft of anything is shit', as per Ernest Hemingway. Not that I could even be worthy of standing in his Writing shadow. But writing shit the first time around is something I hold dear to my heart as a connection with his greatness. It's in the revisions that I will never catch up with him.

So at night, after the chapter day, is when the torment wakes me: Was this Juvenile Humor chapter book funny in ANY way.

How I ever sleep is beyond me.

Tonight I'll have even more to worry about. We tried to get to that fly, but it keeps hiding in the window sill. My son says we should just leave it to become a spider's dinner. But that seems beyond cruel to me. I mean, can you imagine dying wingless, alone, and stuck in a web? I say we should kill the little guy to save him from more pain. It's the least we could do.

Wingless fly and dull humor story for kids. Why am I even on this planet if that is all I can produce in a whole day. I think I'll just quit now and read 'The Help' for the rest of the night. At least then I can know that there are good authors out there--and be supporting them with my silent accolades of appreciation.

I'm going to hum 'The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow' with Little Orphan Annie to get myself to sleep tonight. And pray that tomorrow, humor will come my way and spill out onto the keyboard as I write. Could happen, right?

Heather Leigh,
Owner of the wingless fly

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bikes and Pooh Bear

I'm a Libra. And whether or not you believe in such things as the stars determining our personality traits, there is at least one that is so accurate it makes me squirm. I am indecisive. And it's not so much being indecisive, it's that I see all sides of an issue so clearly that choosing one is akin to me pulling out my nostril hairs with a set of tweezers. One hair at a time, it hurts.

So when my teenage sons get me into the middle of their brotherly issue, I want to run for cover in our neighbor's bomb shelter. Or at least eat a box of See's chocolate covered caramels. Probably both at the same time. At least that I am decisive about.

Tonight there was a HUGE debate over the fourteen year old going for a bike ride at dusk. The back light had been broken yesterday. The eighteen year old insisted it wasn't safe, the younger that he would ride on the bike lane with a front light in a low traffic area.

Now this is not as bad as it sounds. In our area of town, he might be passed by one or two drivers.

But then those two go back and forth with this big argument, wanting me to have the final say. How can I do this? I'm a Libra, for goodness sake. Indecision is our trademark here, people.

In the end, I called in my Mom veto. He had to work out at the gym instead. Now watch, he'll probably wind up falling off the treadmill and winding up in the emergency room. I'd never hear the end of the whole bike safety argument again.

What happened to the good old days when they argued over whether or not the Incredible Hulk is a Superhero? Now at least, most disagreements still center around DC and Marvel comic plots and characters. They haven't strayed far from their major arguing ground.

We could have a heated discussion on the need for beans and legumes in the life of the vegetarian. That I have a stance on. I'm also good with the benefit of limiting the use of adverbs, the cuteness of piglets, and that Winnie the Pooh is one of the all time best advisers for writers. See, there are things I am firm on.

But iffy subjects that change with the setting of the sun? Just count me out and go to the gym.

Heather Leigh,
Supporter of limiting adverbs in writing but don't ask me about much else.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dangers of Rice Writings

My children had the audacity to let me cook rice while writing. They should know better. Here I am, this innocent, sweet, naive writer attempting to undertake a new story AND feed myself at the same time.

After setting the timer for fifteen minutes, I coyly bounced into the waiting, loving arms of my computer chair. The screen was all ready set with Chapter One of The Giraffe Next Door, next in the Scout and Ellie chapter book series for 7 to 9 year olds, waiting like a happy, tail-wagging dog for her owner to get home.

All I had to do was jump in and start. And oh, what a beautiful start. I'd been thinking about the new love flame for Ellie, his personality, problems that may come up, and hilarious situations they could get into. Oh man, this is the good stuff for the writer.

I mean, can you imagine writing about that crazy elephant dating a giraffe? With Scout being forced into chaperon position? The fun of it is making me giggle as I write. That first scene, with the tree branch and a car sunroof--oh fudge, talk about a good time.

Who was I to blame if my time in author zone-out due to to bliss issues blocked my ears from ever hearing the timer go off for rice? I mean, for goodness sake, there were two teenagers in the house doing their own things in their rooms. They should have been watching out for their mother! If after all these years, they don't know well enough to not let me mix cooking with writing, well, I don't even know. If the house had burned down, and all of their stuff sent up in ashes, they have only themselves to blame.

So those two are just danged lucky that I actually remembered the rice only twenty five minutes after the timer had went off. The bottom of the pan was barely even scorched. And the fire alarms didn't even go off!

Okay, okay, okay. Now I know that you greedy readers are going to want a sneaky peek at what may or may not happen with Ellie and Udoka (that's the name my son and I agreed on for the giraffe. It means 'make peace with others' in one of the African languages). Well, there MIGHT just be an apple picking scene. And their might just be an apple flinging, giraffe neck, elephant trunk major fight going on. But don't get your high hopes up on that one. In this rough draft stage, who knows what will stay on the page. The possibilities are as unlimited as a spider contemplating a new web.

Whew. Writing is like the most fun a human can have on this earth. Well, no. First Place always goes to hanging with my boys.

And speaking of those radical kids, I'm going to have to remind them to make me stay away from the stove while writing. Playing with fire and words is too dangerous for this world to handle.

Heather Leigh,
writer in dangerous situations