My Word Is. . .

Your Word is “Hope”

You see life as an opportunity for learning, growth, and bringing out the best in others.

No matter how bad things get, you always have at least a glimmer of optimism.

You are accepting and forgiving. You encourage those who have wronged you to turn over a new leaf.

And while there is a lot of ugliness in the world, you believe that almost no one is beyond redemption.

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High-Five Friday

Five happy things from my week:

1. Really good writing week. Really good. And I intend to have a good writing weekend too. I’m getting better at making my writing time a priority and not feeling (too) guilty about it. It helps that I’m waiting for the next batch of my current proofreading project to arrive. It sure is easier to devote time to writing when it doesn’t have to compete with work obligations.

2. I’m getting a free book! I love free books. There are five books coming out this year that I’m already looking forward to reading: Silksinger by Laini Taylor (the sequel to Blackbringer), Lips Touch also by Laini Taylor (I think this is going to be a good year for her), the sequel to Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. And the other book I’ve been looking forward to is Sophomore Undercover by Ben Esch. And that’s the book I’m getting for free—YAY! He posted on his blog that he had a few left to give out, I emailed, bim, bam, boom, free book for me. Sophomore Undercover will be his debut novel, out in February I think. I initially read about him on Alice Pope’s blog and was intrigued, so I clicked the link to find out more. He’s hilarious. He’s got some blog posts that really crack me up. (There’s some pretty funny banter that goes on in his comments too.) But it was the author pic on his website that prompted me to subscribe. It’s not your run-of-the-mill author photo, that’s all I’ll say. He strikes me as a unique voice to the young adult field, but at the same time his humor reminds me of a bunch of my high school and college friends. If his book is half as funny as his blog and website, I suspect he will quickly find a fan base.

3. I found out that the ALA Midwinter Meeting is going to be in Denver this year. This means more free books!

4. I also found out that two of my favorite friends are expecting a baby. They are going to make fantastic parents, and I am super-duper excited for them.

5. I’m trying something new with my resolutions this year. I joked about them in an earlier post, but honestly, it bummed me out that, of the goals I’d set so optimistically in the beginning of 2008, I couldn’t legitimately check any off my list by year’s end. That’s not to say I didn’t accomplish anything in 2008—I accomplished a ton. Just not the things on my list. It wouldn’t be a big deal to me if I had looked at the resolutions on my 2008 list and thought, well why did I want to do that? Sometimes our priorities and aspirations change in the course of a year. But my 2008 list is pretty much all things that I still hope to accomplish in 2009, so I feel like somewhere along the path of last year I was sidetracked from working toward the goals that are most important to me.

Okay, #5 is starting to feel like a downer. Where’s the happy, right?

Well, for this year I made a list of year-long goals, like I usually do. My vision of where I hope to be and what I hope to accomplish by this time next year. But then what I did, which I didn’t do last year, is also make monthly and weekly goals. I haven’t planned out the whole year or anything. I know that would be futile because of that whole “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” deal. I only looked at January and thought what do I want to accomplish this month? What do I need to do this month? What am I capable of accomplishing this month? And then I did the same thing for this week. And guess what? It looks like I’m on track to meet my weekly goals. So, high-five!

Any high-fives from your week to share?

Have a good weekend, everyone!

“We left the Packard on the street and took
two rooms at a boardinghouse where the wallpaper
slumped and the lightbulbs buzzed and browned.”

Isn’t that wonderful description? Sparse, but a picture immediately forms in my mind. I love especially “lightbulbs buzzed and browned”. It’s from So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger. A book that I’m enjoying a lot even though it’s taking me forever to read it. (Not the fault of the book.)

Just wanted to share. That is all.

On Tap-Dancing Monkeys and Time Machines

My gym was packed tonight. I had to wait ten minutes just to use one of the lowest-on-the-totem-pole cardio machines: the stairmaster. Which can only mean one thing: Happy New Year!

We’re a few steps into 2009 and, personally speaking, so far so good. My husband and I rang in the New Year by making a nice dinner (don’t ask me what—it’s only been six days and I can’t remember. But it involved the stove and more than three ingredients, so it was real fancy pants) and watching Back to the Future. Boy, that movie holds up well. And the soundtrack: awesome. I think I need to put Huey Lewis and the News’s Power of Love back on my gym mix. I could have sworn I’d seen the movie somewhat recently but as we watched it I realized there were a lot of parts I’d forgotten. Huey Lewis’s cameo as a judge when Marty McFly and his band try out for the school show, for example. And: “The Libyans!” And: “Great Scott!” Or Marty McFly’s 1955 mom calling him Calvin Klein because she thinks that’s his name sewn into his underwear. And how excellent Crispin Glover was as his dad.

From a writer’s perspective, and as someone who is working on a mystery, I particularly noted how well small details were planted that come up later for an important storyline or for comic effect. Enough attention is drawn to the small detail that you notice it, but the main focus is on something else in the scene so when it ends, that’s what you’re left thinking about, not the small detail. For example, in the beginning of the movie Marty is talking to his girlfriend Jennifer. They’re walking through the town square and in the background there’s a table of people trying to raise money to save the clock tower. One of the fundraiser people interrupts Marty and Jennifer’s conversation, so you definitely notice the fundraisers, but they’re just an aside. It’s Marty and Jennifer’s conversation that is really carrying the scene. Marty’s worried about his musical future, they’re making plans for a special date. At the end of the scene Jennifer’s dad shows up, and she has to leave. She needs to give Marty her grandmother’s phone number so she grabs a flyer from the fundraising table, writes on the back, and hands it to Marty. He tucks it in his pocket and the flyer is totally forgotten until he pulls it out in 1955 and it provides Marty with the answer for how he can get back to the future. I was marveling at how well that was executed, because things like that can easily come off as too convenient or coincidental, but this really didn’t.

We also saw Jersey Boys last Friday, which I’d seen once before, but it is so worth seeing multiple times. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a fantastic musical. The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. There’s a lot of swearing, so it’s definitely not kid-friendly. But it’s very well done. Creative staging. Funny. Well-told story. The first time I saw it I was surprised at how many of their songs I know and like. I was like a broken record to my mom: “I didn’t know this song was theirs. . .”

I guess I’ve started off 2009 with a lot of nostalgia and looking back, haven’t I? 80s movie and one of the great boy bands of the 60s. Odd since this is the traditional time for looking forward and goal setting. I’m a big time list maker, so usually I’m all over drafting up my resolutions. I opened up my file of resolutions for 2008 recently and was surprised to see that not one thing on the list could be checked off. Not one! Which gives me pause in drafting up a new list. I’m inclined to go one of two ways. I’m thinking along the lines of this:

1. Wake up every day.
2. Go to sleep at some point.

Or this:

1. Adopt an orphaned monkey.
2. Teach him to tap dance.
3. Get on America’s Got Talent with your tap-dancing monkey.
4. Win America’s Got Talent.
5. Impress David Hasselhoff so much that he asks you to sing a duet with him on his next album and film a video featuring the tap-dancing monkey.
6. Turn David Hasselhoff down, but take a picture with him for next year’s holiday card. Score!

Right? Either aim so low I’m sure to succeed or so ridiculously high I can look those superior resolution achievers in the eye and say, “What? How about you try to find an orphaned monkey in Colorado and tell me how well that works out for you.” I’m onto something here, aren’t I?

And now, for a little mix of nostalgia and present(ish) day all wrapped in one musical ball of fun. . .

Biff sings!

High-Five Friday

Five things that made me smile/laugh/happy this week:

1. Yesterday when I checked the mail, it was all holiday cards.

2. First snowboarding day trip of the season last weekend. We did our favorite weekend routine: Pack the car the night before, roll out of bed at 5:30am, get on the road by 6. Get to the ski resort around 7:30, have coffee and breakfast, be at the lifts first thing when they open. Snowboard until we’re pooped, head home early afternoon, and beat the traffic. It was an excellent day of snowboarding–3 inches of snow the night before, and a light snowfall while we were out. It stayed around 30 degrees so it wasn’t too cold. And I hardly fell at all.

3. I spent most of Sunday baking holiday cookies while snow fell outside and holiday tunes played in the background.

4. We went out to dinner with friends and their toddler-age daughter kept pointing urgently down the aisle whenever Santa was mentioned, like she thought he was in Chili’s with us. We finally realized that she was pointing at an elderly woman who sat with her back to us and had white hair and wore a red sweatshirt with a white collar sticking out. She also made me laugh with this crazy little dance she’d break into at random moments. (Our friends’ daughter, not the elderly Santa-look-alike woman.) And another funny: Our friend the father asked her, “Who’s the man, Sammie?” clearly expecting her to reply “Daddy!” but instead she gleefully tapped Big Bird on her placemat. And also, the look of both amazement and agreement on her face when she and I were looking out the restaurant window at the cars in the parking lot, and I told her that the blue car was probably Cookie Monster’s because they are both blue. Kid time is always a highlight of my week.

5. Christmas is next week and I’m traveling home. Knowing that I will be getting a good dose of family-time and also quality time with my California cats is definitely smile-worthy.