Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Genetic Anomaly

*g* You guys liked the plotbunny thing-- that's awesome! Thank you!

Other than that? It's mostly me, in a funk about testing, in a funk about the kids, in a funk about the end of the year and my horrible, horrible job.

My children are doing okay, I think--Squish has had some issues--I think she's REALLY tired. I've got a doc appointment on Monday--I'm thinking of taking a mental health day for that and just letting her sleep on me for a while. It might do her a world of good--she's needing some mom time. (She was pissing off the entire family tonight--I took her into the back bedroom and watched movies with her. She calmed down. It was nice.)

Zoomboy is being intense and cute--he spent an hour on my lap today, and that was nice. I think the problem is, Big T is staying after school for a club, and I have to go pick him up--this is SERIOUSLY cutting into our snuggling time. It's funny--I whine all the time about being a barcalounger or about not being productive. I've always seriously believed that the cuddling time was quality time--and now that it's being stolen, I'm seeing this is true.

Chicken is having 'friend' issues. Her friend is not quite as level headed as Chicken--so Chicken is doing the high school drama thing vicariously through her friend. I was in the middle of trying to tell Chicken not to get too involved, when I had a sudden montage of all the dumb-as-shit things I've done with my Crazy Friend Wendy. Everything from standing up to her old roommate (who threatened to beat me) to writing a break-up e-mail to her ex-boyfriend in Australia to walking through waist-high water in the storm of the century to let out some horses that had (heLLO!) already been let out--all of this shit, and I wouldn't trade these memories for anything.

Then I had a flashback to an argument I wasn't supposed to hear my dad and stepmom have. My stepmom had just gone to 'pick up' my dad, and she was reinventing his nether orifice, when he said, "But he's my friend!"

And she said, "That does NOT mean you have to stand with him in a bar fight!"

And he said, "But I didn't know the guy was an off duty cop!"

And she said, "Well, it's a good thing they're going to drop the charges against you!"

And he said, "Well--it was six to one. I couldn't let him stand alone."

And then I realized that she had to pick him up from county lock up.

And so I was having all of these flashbacks, and I looked at my daughter who looks just like me and therefore just like my dad, and she was telling me how she was running interference during lunch so her friend could break up with her big scary boyfriend and I swallowed the lump of barbed wire in my stomach.

"What, mom?"


"No--you're looking really weird."

"Yeah. It's just that my mistakes and character flaws were a lot more fun when they were just mine."

"Don't worry, mom. I'll be careful."

I don't know how careful you can be to guard against genetic defect. The point was brought home to me all over again with a conversation with my fourth period.

This morning, my fourth period asked me if I was really strict with my kids. "We bet you are--you're a teacher. You know what kids are like."

"No," I told them. "I mean, there are consequences for the stuff they do, but I don't yell at them a lot."

"No? Like how?"

"Well, like when Chicken screwed up and got sentenced to another year of P.E."

"How'd she do that?"

"The P.E. coach told her she hadn't taken one of her state tests, and Chicken said, 'Are you sure?' and the coach said, 'Yes I am--you need to take it today!', and Chicken said, 'Are you bullshitting me?' and the teacher said, 'Get out. You can't take it at all!'."

"And you didn't yell at her for that?"

"Well, she has to take P.E. for another year--I mean, pretty much, she will be punished for a whole year. Not much I can do to make that worse, right?"

"Oh *hell* yeah!"

"Yeah. But if I yell at her? If I tell her that was a dumbassed thing to do? She will never tell me another thing."

"Yeah... you're right Ms. Lane. I don't talk to my parents about 'nothin'."

"Yeah. And now she's got her head in her hands saying, "I'm a dumbass. I'm a total dumbass. I'm SUCH a dumbass. And I"m saying, 'Yup, honey, you learn from the best.' I mean, I can't BUY that kind of life lesson."

The kids thought I was very wise. I didn't add that I wished I COULD buy that kind of life lesson. Or at least have it excised from my genes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Rise of the Plotbunnies...

After trying to gently brace my editors at DSP for the fact that I may be working on some non-DSP projects starting in the summer, I was threatened (gently, and we shall not name who did the threatening) with the possibility of somebody feeding my plotbunnies radioactive chocolate carrots.

She did not tell me that she'd ALREADY DONE THIS, and I blame the following weirdness on her:

Rise of the Plotbunnies

Plotbunnies on the ceiling,
Plotbunnies on the couch,
Plotbunnies falling sinfully
From Jensen Ackles pouty mouth...

Plotbunnies under the table
Plotbunnies in my head.
Plotbunnies humping incessantly--
Who's keeping them well fed?

All I did was do some shopping,
For some bread and chocolate milk--
I forgot the bread and brought home instead
A plotbunny for this filk!

That plotbunny brought a brother,
And that's when things went really south...
They humped each other's brains out
While watching "Supernatural" on the couch.

I did not know with this breed
Of bunnies logic failed--
Both bunnies turned up pregnant

My husband took me to a ball game
To escape m/m romance with some sport...
The bastards and their families
Got busy humping ON THE COURT!

I thought the dustbunnies would up and kill them
Let natural selection run it's course.
The dustbunnies lost, but left in their wake
Dustbunny corpses by the score.

So there's no room for all the plotbunnies,
I'm singing the over-plot-ulation blues...
And a family of bunnies is singing harmony

I've got plotbunnies in my knitting,
Plotbunnies on kitchen shelves,
In an effort to stem the plotbunny tide,
I asked my editor for some help.

She said, "Sure, I'd be glad to help you!"
But I think the woman lied.
I found in my fridge a carrot cocktail
Of Viagra and Spanish Fly!

I've got plotbunnies in my laundry,
And peeking out from under the bed,
The ones under the bed look wicked,
And especially well fed.

My only hope is my writing dragon,
Who snorts in my head and roars,
"I'm hungry bitch, come feed me,

And still they're busting from cages,
From dirty dishes and dusty halls.
Some are big as 240K,
And others are quite small.

Oh help me with my plotbunnies,
They're running sort of rife...
A story that started w/two guys and a cat
Has taken over my whole life.

My parents offered me a 'Practicality Gun'--
And told me to point and shoot...
But crooning or zooming or snuggling or grooming
Or cuddling or noodling or fluffing or boodling
Or running or jumping or flirting or humping
The fact is the gun is moot.
I cannot load the goddamned gun.
The humping bunnies are too damned cute.

*Honestly, it's been sort of a depressing two days... take the filk and run with it folks, it's as happy as it's gonna get tonight:-)

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Don't talk to mommy. She's EDITING.

Honestly, folks-- that's all I've got. I got Making Promises to edit this weekend, and "Phonebook" to sneak in the middle, and my entire weekend has been a blur of my own words.

I sort of wish it was a blur of J.R. Ward's words. I REALLY wanted to read Lover Avenged.

I was also going to write a rather crucial letter tonight--but my vision is blurring, and I think I have to give up on the computer for an hour before bed.

Oh yeah. There were kids and shopping and blah blah blah blah...

But I have realized that I have to take something back.

I used to say that writing and knitting made me the most boring human.

I was mistaken.

What the writing and knitting couldn't do, the editing has done in spades. I'm officially too damned boring for words!

Oh yeah.Curious goes on sale tomorrow.

If anyone buys it, let me know what you think!!!

*Edited to add: Sherri-- DSP puts their anthologies out on Kindle-- no worries. It takes about a week!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"We are up way too late..."

Lots of writing news today... I mean, more than I can believe.

First of all-- Get a load of this! Yeah-- that's Keeping Promise Rock in audiobook, and since I didn't realize it was going to be released that way (either I'd forgotten, or I'd just never really looked close enough at anything coming my way to see a release date) coming home and finding the audio files in my inbox was just A-FREAKIN'-MAZING.

I can't explain the giddiness of hearing someone else read the damned book to me. I don't even LISTEN to audiobooks on a regular basis, but, yup, I've listened to big, sweeping swathes of this one.

At first, it was just so Mate and I could giggle like third graders whenever the narrator said 'fuck'. Mate was like, "Yup... some people work in oils, some people sculpt in clay, but you, you work in profanity." (For those of you who have seen 'A Christmas Story', that will be much funnier.)

Then, it was for me to get (unfairly) mad because the narrator's voice--and the voices he did-- do NOT sound like the voices in my head and it pissed me off.

But, eventually, after a couple of chapters, I made two realizations.

The first--and the one most audiobook listeners come to, from what I understand, is that NOBODY sounds like the voice in your head. This is a man, reading several different voices, several of them female. If Benny sounds like a grown man doing an impression of a teenaged girl, well, that's because at this point, SHE IS. It's not the guy's fault he doesn't have teenaged girl in his repertoire--he's doing his best, dammit.

The second--and the one I was most surprised by--was that the guy really IS very good. Once I got over the 'this is not the voice in my own head' freak-out, I realized that the narrator was a total professional--his voice was engaging, cadenced, and if Benny was his weak-spot, well, he differentiated EVERY CHARACTER'S VOICE, and he did it well and with emotion, and that's all you can ask. I was VERY pleased when all was said and done, and I think the professional doing the reading did an OUTSTANDING job.

And, well, it was someone READING MY BOOK OUT LOUD and DUDE!!!!! Can I just giggle and dance around the kitchen again? It was awesome.

Oh yes-- and a reminder that Curious is out on Monday. WOOT!

And (I said this was big writing new day) I had another story accepted--this one is the one with the Beauty and the Beast cover. (I can't wait to publish that cover on the blog and website when it gets closer to the release date... I'm SOOOOOOOOO excited about that cover--you'll have to see it to know why!) The thing about Truth in the Dark, the Beauty and the Beast story, that I really love--and that a lot of you will really love--is that it's first person fantasy. Truth in the Dark IS a faerie tale--a back-to-my-roots, flawed narrator, magic-around-every-corner sort of affair, and it's being published by Dreamspinner and not by myself. Between this story and Litha's Constant Whim, I feel like the publishing world is getting to see the real me--and I'm so relieved the real me is getting out there and might actually be marketable to boot.

And this is sort of writing non-news, but it's still news.

I was offered (and am going to refuse a little later in the day) a contract for Vulnerable from a smaller press.

I know--I know! I've been BEGGING for a contract, for another press to come and publish this book for me, and I was SO excited when she sent me the acceptance letter and the contract. But...

But, it's a very small press, and I'd have to give up some things in return for wider distribution and a chance to re-edit--things like control over my cover art--that I'm not comfortable giving up. It sounds silly, I know--all of the good things I'd be getting back, and I don't want them because of cover art control?

But people love this book. Really love it. I just CAN'T give it to someone who's going to put a half-naked hottie on the front, and not even let me say, "That's NOT the spirit of the book."

I'm going to hate writing this letter--you all know how superstitious I get about spitting in the face of the gods. And this woman has been nothing but kind and patient to me. But signing this contract right now would take Vulnerable OFF the shelves RIGHT when Litha's Perfect Whim goes online--and if people like Whim, they're going to want to read Vulnerable, and I can't do it.

I feel like complete doo-doo, oh yes I do-do, and that's the truth.

*sigh* So yes. Writing news--some of it has been on my mind all week, and I just decided to share. Thanks for listening!

Oh yes-- about the title!

Mate and I went to see a movie last night. We saw Kick Ass! and it was a dark comic masterpiece--hilarious, and REALLY disturbing at once. Think The Breakfast Club goes Quentin Tarantino--there were moments that just sent chills up your spine and not in the cool way that sports movies do. Anyway, when we got back, I checked my e-mail out of sheer addiction, and, sure enough, there was another rat-pellet of ego-meth in my box. Elizabeth had sent me my contract for 'Truth in the Dark', and I was so tickled. I responded right away, and before I went to bed I saw another message from her.

It read, "We are up way too late."

I had to giggle. Yup. It's getting to be a way of life, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh, you are not going to BELIEVE this.

And there's a whole lot to not believe.

* My windshield wipers broke--on the freeway, coming home in a rainstorm. I have a nice divot in the glaze on my windshield to prove it. So Mate told me he fixed it, and during the next rainstorm, it came apart again, and I fixed it. During the next rainstorm, (yesterday morning) it came apart again. And so there I was, at the gas station, looking at it and feeling stupid--I mean, I'd THOUGHT I'd fixed the fucking thing.

And then he came. The GUY in the TRUCK. Mostly, all I saw at first was the utility truck, and I thought, "Good. A truck. This has GOT to be better than Mate or me--I don't care if it's a 400lb man with no teeth, he's got TOOLS!"

Imagine my shock and mortification when the guy who got out looked exactly like this!

Now imagine me going all starry-eyed and weak-kneed as he walked up to me and offered to fix my windshield wiper. I don't know what I said as he walked away, besides, "Thank you!" but what I wanted to say was "Oh PLOT-bunny!"

Alas, nothing's as good as it looks. Plotbunny fucked up the windshield wiper too. The guy who actually figured out why it kept breaking was the solid, middle-aged bald black man at the auto part's store who tried three different sizes and bragged about his children while he was ringing up the blade that fit. Seriously? By the time I drove home and the damned wiper worked, I would have had three more children for that guy. I LOVE him. But that's okay-- I got a twofer-- I got Plotbunny, AND the guy who could fix my car!

* Yesterday, Zoomboy got into the car and he was SO excited. I was a little late picking him up, which meant that he got to spend an extra fifteen minutes with his bestie, Sam.

Chicken was trying to talk to me and Zoomboy was trying to talk to me, so I made her hold off so Zoomboy could tell me, "Sam is my B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-FF! Do you know what that means?"

"Yeah," I said, "It means that he's your best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-friend!"

"No! It means he's my best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-best-BOY friend, FOREVER!"

Well, at this point, Chicken and I looked at each other and thumped our fists over our hearts--cause it was cute, and it did sort of gettya, you know, right THERE.

And then Zoomboy said, "We're going to be together forever. And we're going to die at the same time and be BURIED together!"

AT which point, Chicken and I looked at each other in complete horror, and Chicken said, "Good feeling gone!" And I shook my head in absolute agreement.

Boys. Go figure.

* We had a fire drill today during our STAR test. In the rain. It was my 4th period class (whom I have not hated all year) and they looked at me and said, (verbatim) "Miz Lane, are you shitting us? Seriously? We're working our asses off, and some asshole pulled the fire alarm and we have to go out in the rain--are you shitting us?"

And I said, "Here--let me go see what the other teachers say..."

And they said, "They're all meeting under that overhang--go conversate, Ms. Lane, because we are NOT going out there!"

Alas, they did go out there, but I was really heartened by how hard they were trying. I had to rip one kid away from his test--this kid had never finished a STAR test before--he'd always gotten suspended beforehand because he felt they were bullshit, but he was trying with this one. I must have told him six times that I was proud of him-- wasn't enough.

* And finally? I've updated the website but now I have to update it again. 'Making Promises' was GOING to be released in late June, but since DSP is also putting out the Whim story ('Litha's Constant Whim') which is a Little Goddess novella, well, I wanted it released as close to Litha as I could get it. Little Goddess fans have poignant feelings about Litha-- this should make the day a little less bitter. So 'Making Promises' is coming out in July/August, and 'Litha's Constant Whim' are coming out in June/July, and 'Phonebook' and 'Gambling Men: Raising the Stakes' is coming out around then too, and 'Curious' is coming out next week, and so is the audio book version of 'Keeping Promise Rock'. Uhm, wow.

I must be busy!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Watch out, or I'll go Shrek on your ass...

Okay-- my third period has currently trumped my second period as a nightmare beyond nightmares. This class can spend the entire day talking, one person at a time, one scattered remark at a time--and when I lean back to wait for them to finish, they have LITERALLY spent ten minutes ignoring the fact that their assignment depends on listening to me speak.

I hates them, with the burning passion of a thousand nova suns.

So, keep this in mind when I tell you I was having a pretty good day today.

We were talking about the American Dream, which I break down with a writing prompt about being 'politician rich' or 'rockstar rich' and which, thanks to some supremely bad government between 2000 and 2008, the students have managed to link together. Trust me, there's not a one of them who is not aware that our head of office was a coke-snorting, military wash-out of a C-Student--and I love them for it.

So, I'm feeling playful-- because this has been sort of a fun day for me--and I've got a rolled up piece of paper in my hand and I'm wandering around the room, smacking desks when people start talking. It's not really making anybody stop for any length of time, but it is a lot more fun than the time honored, "Student x, y, & z, could you please be quiet?"

And then a miracle happens. Absolute silence. Everyone is ACTUALLY THINKING ABOUT THE DISCUSSION. Can you hear the angels singing? I could. Oh, wait...

No. Not angels. It was Snottana's (pseudonym eerily reminiscent of her personality) iPod.

"Snottana-- could you turn that down?" Now, Snottana and I have had our run-ins, and quite frankly, I'm to the point where I don't care if she passes or not. A kid calls me a fat fucking bitch a couple of times and then denies it when I SAW THE WORDS COME OUT OF HER MOUTH, and I get my steel plated loincloth on and hope they break their toes when they try to kick me in the nuts. So at this point, she can flame out and burn--but I've finally got something rolling with these kids, and she's not taking them down with her.

She ignores me.

"Snottana--hey, Ellie--could you get Snottana's attention?"

Ellie tries, and Snottana ignores her. She's got her sunglasses on, and she's staring straight ahead, and she's not going to turn her iPod down or even acknowledge that she's doing something wrong.

I go up to her desk and say, "Snottana, could you at least turn that down?"

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you."


"Snottana, turn down your iPod."

"I can't hear you."

"Snottana, get out of my classroom please."

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you.'

Now I'm about a foot from this kid's face, and it occurs to me, that she's told me four times she can't hear me from where she's sitting. I figure I'll assist her.


I scream it, loud enough to hear me through the open window across the quad, loud enough to knock this kid over with my coffee breath, and loud enough to gleek shit at her that I ate last week.

"Okay," she says, her voice quivering with injured dignity, "I'll get out. I'll get out and go tell the office what you did. They laugh at you when you send people out you know."

"Yeah they do," I tell her, knowing it's the truth. "I write the funniest referrals in the entire staff. I'm frickin' hilarious. Now get out of my room."

We had a decent class after that--still a lot of talking, but I was thinking when it was over. According to our stats and our horrible test scores, 40% of our students are supposed to be proficient or advanced in my subject. I looked at my stats and did my math, and realized that 25% of the students in MY room are proficient or advanced in my subject.

The fact is, I have, in the past, run my classroom with a very Rousseau type of idea. If I reinforce the idea that every student is responsible for his or her own education, I will create an atmosphere in which students will work with me and help to monitor themselves in order to facilitate their own learning.

This does not work when students have no interest in furthering their own education.

Students who will sabotage their own test scores (as I know this student--and some of my other students will do or have done) have absolutely no interest in furthering their own education.

I don't think our government counts on these students when they tell us we're not doing our jobs because our kids' test scores aren't high enough. I don't think they count on kids who can show blatant disrespect for an authority figure (and not just me--I know this kid had been this sort of high-octane heifer-bitch for most of her other teachers) taking their bad attitudes into the classroom. I don't think they count on disenfranchisement at all.

I do know that this kid seemed surprise that she would elicit this sort of response for me. I don't know why it should. I don't understand her AT ALL. Her actions are completely random to me--it seems like she'd understand random in her bones.


Okay, in better, happier news, Squish and I had a VERY funny conversation last week. We left late in the day because of a staff meeting, and as we assumed our place in the parking lot that I-80 had become, she looked around her unhappily and said, "Mama, what is this place?"

"Well, honey," I told her, pursing my lips, "this place is called Traffic."

"Mama, I do not love this place."

"Nobody loves this place, honey."

"Mama, make all these people get out of our way, so we can leave Traffic."

"I can't, baby. They hate this place too--they're trying to get out of here just like us."

"Mama, why do they have a place like Traffic?"

"Traffic is the place everybody goes between the place they're coming from and the place they want to go."

"This is not a very good place. I'm going to build a place called Shampoo, and it's going to wash away this place called Traffic."

"You do that, sweetheart--you do that, and I'll go to your place called Shampoo."

I'm going to remember that for a long time. The next time I'm sitting in I80, I'm going to hear her voice saying, "Mama, I do not love this place..."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mom Logic

"I do not understand my mom,
Why is that, you suppose?
I ask her if we can go out to eat,
and she says, "I like your clothes."

My brother asked her for a car,
She said, "I like your smile."
He said, "I do to, and thank you, mom,"
And that's all they said for a while.

My sister said "More dvd's!"
And Mommy said, "More fruit!"
My little sister wanted a stuffed animal
And mom said, "They're sort of moot."

I said, "What about my bunk bed!"
Mom said, "In the dog's ear!"
I'd look in there but they're infected,
So I'll wait until they're clear.

So today I asked her if
We could vacation in the south,
She said "I'd love to, honey--
But Disneyand's kitty's mouth!"

I bet it isn't in there--
At least not for me to see!
But when he gets back from the vet
Maybe he'll lick some Disneyland on me.

So I do not get my mom at all,
But she's right about one thing.
Money doesn't grow on trees,
even if it's green."

Love, Zoomboy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Soul Selects Her Own Society

Okay, I admit it. I really don't have anything pithy to say along those lines--but I was teaching Dickinson today as sort of a reward to myself for not strangling any students so far in the year, and I had an epiphany. (No, it was not that all of Dickinson's poetry seems to sing well to Yellow Rose of Texas--but I do understand that's true!)

It was actually a literary epiphany. It was sort of cool.

The thing is, Dickinson tends write mini, twelve line, 65-75 word essays, and I totally got that today.

Don't believe me? let's look at that title piece.

The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —

I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —

The first line is a thesis-- an oddly worded, richly imaged subject and opinion line. An essay thesis.

Okay. Wow. Is it true?

The Soul (like a queen) holds her own court (society) with her chosen people. And like a queen, She holds court in her own little chamber, behind closed doors. No one else can get in. The divine Majority was the mention that the kings and queens, got heaven's vote--they literally had a 'divine majority' when working with a government. So, essentially, although reason may say, "that's bullshit!" and emotion may say, "I'm lonely, bitch!" the Soul has made her choice--she votes them both down, and she wins.

The rest is all proof and explanation.

There's the Soul, looking down from her little chamber window, and she sees the human traffic begging for her attention-- the Chariots pausing-- but really? She doesn't give a shit. It doesn't matter who's asking to be let in, either. Kings, Emperors, fathers, lovers-- screw 'em. The Soul is a divine Majority, and she just wins.

She's given lots of people-- like, say, the entire town of Amherst Mass.-- from which to choose from, but she's picky. One person will get in, and then the Valves of her heart-of-Stone attention are shut, and she tells the rest of us to piss off.

The Soul does, indeed, select her own Society.

And that's short and pithy--but then, so is Dickinson. In a way, it's not poetry--pretty much every tiny, calculated, perfectly crafted little word-piece I went over today had the same structure. The kids even recognized it-- we teach them format from the cradle:

Thesis/ (or, in the case of one paragraph)Topic Sentence
Concrete Detail
Concrete Detail
Concluding Sentence--

That's the paragraph structure we give them when we're teaching them to write. If you consider that Dickinson's metaphors serve as both concrete detail and (as you're explaining them) commentary, you can feel the entire organic nature of the process.

It was a cool realization-- especially because we're in testing season, and I LOATHE testing season.

The thing is, we take hits for not exposing the kids to every standard on the state test--and they divide stuff into genre. My stand has always been that if you can interpret poetry you can structure an essay. It is all manipulation of language to this weird, hardwired format we have in our heads from the first moment we heard our parents bullshit on the back porch on a long summer night. Any guy on his second six pack can still remember-- you make the idiot statement first, and then you have at least two pieces of proof to back it up.

"See, the thing is... we all... just build walls, man. That's it. We build fucking walls to keep people out! And it's true, man. See, for starters, once we get a friend, we can just watch the whole world pass by beneath us, dude. And it doesn't fucking matter, because, we've got our peoples, don't we? Yeah, buddy, I'm talking to you. So, like, the fucking King of Drunkaria could be on my fucking doormat man, and I'd like tell him to piss off, cause I've got my people, right? Man, and once that gate's closed--man, it's like a fucking stone wall! See man... like I said, we just build ourselves some fucking walls!"

So there you go. You've got a thesis, you've got proof and explanation, and you've got it in three languages. You've got it in the unparalleled minimalism of Dickinson's poetry, you've got it in my half-arsed essay format, and you've got it in Drunken Idiot-- and it's all the same message and it's all the same critical thinking skill, and that should be that, right?

Except we're moving into Idiot Land with our testing now-- where we treat kids like idiots and they're sure we've lived in their land for all our lives. Every time we teach to THE TEST with TEST STANDARD'S A, B, AND C lined up in nice little ducks, we've just denied them the ability to make that jump from poetry to prose to drunken idiot all on their own. Every time we tell them they're learning something because 'it's on the fucking test' we're denying them the intrinsic benefits of what we're teaching, and we may as well be up in front of the class singing the goddamned Yellow Rose of Texas, because gods know, that's going to be on the fucking test too.

So, the thing is, our school is offering extrinsic rewards for testing. If a kid gets an Advanced on the test, they can turn that in for a 10% grade increase in this semester's grade. Now, personally, I think that's kind of awesome. If we make the test the be-all and end-all of their educational carrot, there has GOT to be something in it for them. After all, we're teaching to the fucking test because there's something in it for us, right? Job, prestige, the right to hold up our heads at teaching bragging sessions or have spiffy T-shirts printed out with our API scores emblazoned on the front. (I shit you not, Chicken's school does this. They also get specially made up pens.) We have systematically slaughtered every bit of intrinsic value in the subject that we teach by pinning the whole fucking shebang on the fucking test. Is it any wonder that our kids need an extrinsic carrot to find the purpose in things? We've taken the real purpose of literature right on out of what we're doing.

Which, I guess, is a convoluted way of addressing a colleague (esteemed, but, I felt, not necessarily thinking things through) who felt that we were flushing our integrity down the toilet by offering the kids a grade incentive.

Buttercup, that turd done been flushed.

I'm going back to Dickinson now. She's got this poem about Much Insanity is Divinest Sense, and that puppy makes me feel right at home.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A few whapping moments!

1. Chris sent me this link. I like it, Alot, I really really do!

2. I whapped a student on his big noggin today. He deserved it. I was standing up in front of class, and heard a conversation near my desk (where no students are supposed to be ever.) And there's This Kid who has given me grief all year, and he's trying to plug his bootsy-assed, jimmy-rigged, piece-of-carp phone charger into my new work computer (the one with the .docx program that makes everyone nuts!) for the third time in two days.

I hauled ass across the room and whapped that big goober upside his outsized noggin. He ceased and desisted. I told him to sit down before I called his mom (who works security) to come and help me whap him upside the outsized noggin until he could sit down, shut up, and put get his shitty electronics away from my goddamned computer.

I, uhn, think I used those exact words.

3. I showed Chicken and Big T the above link. Big T says that he seems to have Alot of shit. I told him to get rid of it--that's a bad breed.

4. Chicken told me today that she has a 'type'. She calls it the 'pot-smoking douchebag' type. I asked her to please change her type before she started dating. She said she'll work on it.

5. Chicken was doing her vocabulary today. She said, "Mom, can you believe there's a word here with a definition of 'holier-than-thou'?"

I said, "Yeah-- 'sanctimonious'."

She said, "How do you DO that!"

Sometimes, I really do get no respect at home, do I? (It does help that we had the word today in class. *snicker*)

6. I got Zoomboy and Chicken today, and they'd walked about a block and a half from school. (They do that when I'm a little late.) Zoomboy had to pee. Really really bad.

I stopped at the nearest fast food restaurant (Carl's Jr., of the kick-ass banana-chocolate chip shake--no, I didn't drink one, but I did gaze longingly at the one Chicken gota) and Zoomboy and I ran inside so Zoomboy could go inside the men's room and pee.

"Ahhh... ohhh... ooooooohh... oh boy... ahhhhhhh... aaaaaaaahhhhhh...."

Yep folks. That was my son. At a public restroom. I leaned against the wall in the hallway and laughed until my stomach hurt. OMG-- this kid and bathrooms--there oughtabe a law!

7. I am working, at present, six pairs of socks. I'm so doomed.

And that's about all for a driveby posting... oh yeah. Wait.

General consensus is that showers and licked dangly bits are a far preferable mix. And in the course of the debate I remembered this particular story:

Mate and I once made an ill-advised cross-country bus trip during the summer. The bus that we were taking from Chicago to Philly (I think--it was nearly 20 years ago) got over crowded, and the a/c broke down. If you can imagine the sweat-fest caused by that situation in 100 degree heat/ 90 % humidity, be my guest. Anyway, when we got off the bus, Mate called his dad in Philly and told him, "Yeah, Amy's in the bathroom, trying to get cleaned up."

Mate's new stepmother was from Wales--she said, "Isn't that lovely, that bus stations in the states have such wonderful facilities."

That's when Mate had to explain that I was standing on a toilet, trying to freshen my pits with boraxo and a wet bandana.

Yup, folks, I've got to say, if I'm running the world, there's gonna be showers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Bathroom Post

Okay... the first part of this is a bit, shall we say, scatological... if you have a problem with that, skip down, where things get a little more Freudian.

I got home from grocery shopping to the following conversation:

Mate: "So, Zoomboy went to the bathroom, and you know what he said?"

Me: "Do NOT go in there?"

Mate: "You wish. No, he said, 'Dad--the poop is above the water!'"

Me: Blank horrified silence.

Mate: (Pulling out his camera phone) "See, I've got a picture."

Me: (Now horrified on several levels) : "OH. MY. GOD."

Mate: (A little sheepishly) : "Yeah-- I'll delete that picture right now."

Me: "Yeah, you do that--and I'm gonna get that boy some FRUIT!"

Okay... if you got through that one, you may have an opinion on this next one. Eric, I heart you muchly, but our conversation about indoor plumbing spawned a little rant--mostly because you're not the only one I've had this conversation with (my mother!), and most people are not nearly as nice as you are about it (mom, I know you're not reading this!).

So, given that, Eric just finished giving me some notes on my Beauty and the Beast story (heretofore known as 'Truth in the Dark') and one of the things he made note of was, that even in a fantasy story where I make my own rules, it just didn't seem to be fitting to have showers in the bathroom.

And I said why not? If the Egyptians had indoor plumbing, and the Romans had hot and cold running water, why would it be so out of the realm of possibility for a Victorian-style fantasy to have showers in the bathroom? After all, the technology would exist, we just didn't place a high priority on it as a culture, right? Let's assume, since I'm writing a fantasy, that this alternative universe had better priorities than the most of Western Civilization.

And Eric said, "Yeah, but it doesn't really fit."

And I said (but not to Eric, because he was doing me a favor and I really appreciate it, but this rant has been building for a long time with a lot of other people so I thought I'd make it public so I didn't take it out on him...) that anything I write in which two people were going to be licking each other's dangly bits was going to have a shower in it. Because, let's face it, the odds of a shower existing in a bathroom of a fantasy world is much higher than a blowjob existing outside of that bathroom withOUT said shower. Am I right? Who's with me? I say, let all fantasy readers make a point of accepting indoor plumbing as a given, because if this is a fantasy world, and we get to make the rules therein, INDOOR PLUMBING W/HOT AND COLD RUNNING WATER SHOULD BE ONE OF THE RULES.

So, are you guys with me? Or am I rowing the 'shower in the bathroom' rowboat alone?

(Or, more likely, did I completely lose you with the first part of this post?)

You know, either way, let me know...

Friday, April 9, 2010

In which I attend my own snoozefest...

Honestly, there's nothing to report.


I'm almost done editing Vulnerable. Huzzah! It hasn't taken very long... I mean, SERIOUSLY--with the exception of the novellas I've been writing, it's the shortest full length piece I've written. I mean... DAMN.

My internet was dead for much of today... sort of a bummer, since, not only was I home with Squish on vacation, but she was sick too. I actually had PERMISSION to go to the yarn store in Rocklin today (I'm hunting and killing an elusive color combo... if anyone knows the whereabouts of cobalt blue/orange sock yarn, do let me know. Be vewy vewy qwiet... I'm hunting fibew...) and I didn't. She just felt like such immense carp... poor little booger snot.

That hasn't kept her from charming the socks (snicker... I just finished a pair of Red-Heart socks for her in Tequila Sunrise... she loves them... wears them all over the house, no shoes--which is why they're done in Red-Heart and not, say, Cherry Tree Hill or Kureyon...) off of anyone we pass. Yesterday it was the guy wearing most of his clothes while driving around a rather dodgy looking bus stop in his little electric trolley. She smiled at him through the open car window and said "Hi!" He looked surprised and then waved at her, smiling a rather toothless smile. I gaped at him, not realizing that my kid was going to try to establish a lifelong connection with a disenfranchised member of the bus stop population through the front seat open window of the crapmobile, and then smiled when I saw how charmed he was.

We drove away and she hummed to herself. "See, mom! Everybody loves me!"

*gurgle* Yeah, sweetie. Everybody does.

I've read a book cover-to-cover-- Patricia Briggs 'Silver Borne'- I love Briggs. She can kick the ass out of the pacing slugs, that is for damned sure--her books just ROAR by... love her. L.O.V.E.

I've eaten enough chocolate to sink the ass of an anorexic supermodel. Sigh. I need to get it off the fucking kitchen table while I write, that's what I've got to do... simple in theory, but more complex in execution. There's not another place in the house to put it, more's the pity.

I've caught up on some television. If Squish hadn't felt like crap for the last two days, I might even have folded clothes--but she felt like crap, and I was doomed to life as a barcalounger. Worse ways to spend a day? Yes. More productive? Well, that too...

Oh--wait. I have done something good today. I took the dog for a drive.

See, the thing is, the dog is content to be an ottoman for most of the year, but every now and then she remembers her vet's visits with great fondness and starts asking to leave the house. Two weeks ago, she just ran out to investigate life-- all I had to do was open the car door and she came back, looking for a ride. I took her around the block.

Today, two days after her vet's visit, she heard the lead rattle as I walked by it, and stood up, looking all excited. I put her on it and took her in the car to pick Chicken and Zoomboy up from school. They were so excited to see her--and she got to go somewhere. It was really a good moment, considering the dog and I haven't spoken for a while. About four years ago I kept trying to take her walking and she kept giving herself kennel cough because she's retarded. I decided you can't cure self-inflicted-retarded-dog syndrome, and she's been left on the mercy of other people in the family for walks ever since.

So today was special for her--and I might do it again. After all... dogs drool. All the fucking time. And it's not like my car is all that special inside anyway. It's almost like an improvement, right?

And... that's it. Life in the snail-trail...

*happy sigh* Isn't it WONDERFUL?

ETA-- Oh yeah-- I may have forgotten to mention this. You all know that Making Promises is due out in June, and Curious is due out on April 26th. But sometime this summer (and that's the most specific date I've got) two short stories that are sequels to the stories in Curious will be out as well. (Their titles are Gambling Men: Raising The Stakes and Phonebook-- I'll send you links when they hit the DSP website.) Also, (and there is no guarantees for this one, but I love this story and I wrote it expressly for DSP and it has nothing to do with the Cory-Verse even though it's fantasy) I submitted my Beauty and the Beast story to DSP as well. I changed the name to 'Truth in the Dark'--and I'm very proud.

So, lots to chat about in the writing front--I just didn't want to blather on about it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Time Capsules

It's funny-- I know that some of us write to preserve memories of our families, friends, or pets (Chaos... I know you're out there... and Mayhem, Sekhmet, Pepper, LuLu and Havoc too...) It's true--these blogs really DO serve as time capsules--I know every time I put a conversation from my family on here, that it's one more story more likely that I'll remember when the children have moved out and I'm left hoping I did right by them. (No. Can't possibly have done right by children as awesome as mine. It's a curse of having awesome kids...)

So, I'll remember that tonight I told Chicken's Spanish teacher that her nickname was Chicken and that he offered to call her "guyena" (sic) which means 'lady chicken' in spanish when the other students couln't hear. I'll also remember that it was payback for remembering to tell me she wanted me to attend open house TWENTY MINUTES before the damned thing started, and that I feel as though we're even now, but she might not.

It's a good story-- it's worth remembering.

So, keeping this in mind, I was reluctant to open Vulnerable to give it a much needed edit in order to submit it to yet another e-pub. (Wild Horse Press-- apparently I have a connection.)

I was afraid of what I'd see. After all, after blithely publishing the thing, I had been both praised for my originality and pounded into the pavement, bloody, broken, and barfing, for the things I did wrong--namely sentence punctuation, although a couple of people confused this with 'simplistic writing'. I was afraid I'd open this up and find the same arrogance with which I perpetrated my first blogging errors (some of you remember those...) or that I wrote like a third grader, or, (even worse) that I was undeniably brilliant that first time out and the cosmetic errors hid the fact that I will NEVER WRITE ANYTHING THAT GOOD AGAIN!!!

Oddly enough, my fiction is not serving as a time capsule in quite the same way as my personal writing is.

It's a good story. It is. It's something I'd like to read, and I'm damned proud to have written it. The punctuation errors are NOT as bad as everyone says they are, and they are NOT the be all and end all of this good story. The continuity errors, while embarrassing, are NOT as bad as some I've seen in edited texts with big paychecks behind them. Of course I was not as in love with my own prose back then as I am now, so it is a good deal shorter--and leaner--than I write at the moment, and my experience with arcing a plot was not as polished.

But that doesn't mean it's not good. That doesn't mean it's not worthy of all those people who loved it in the first place. It is, in fact, something to be proud of, crappy editing or not.

Cool. Time Capsules--besides embarrassing the children (which is a good reason all in it's own) I'm finally getting to see the point in keeping them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sorry 'bout the radio silence...

But I figure you all knew where I was.

Yeah-- sometimes life really DOES trump blogging--not often, I'll grant you, but when it happens, well, it's best just to let it.

On Friday night, I got home from work completely wiped out. I mean... just... braindead and destroyed. More ready for a break than I possibly have been since Squishie's very first year. And then I returned a call from my stepmom--turns out, Easter had been moved up a day, and that phone call was my 12 hour warning. (What--your mother isn't a time lord too? Because mine will tell me when we're celebrating holidays, birthdays, and why I shouldn't be tired after running for eight hours on crackers and fruit roll ups.) After spending that night in tears and stressing--because, hey, I may have mentioned, I was all ready to be overwrought--I managed to go shopping the next day and spend all of our food money on chocolate and toys for the kids the next morning. (I don't know about you, but sudden deadline advancement does NOT make me the best shopper in the world). Mate boiled the potatoes and I made the potato salad thinking "Hey--at least I bought this stuff earlier!" and completely overlooked the fact that in my week long coma, I bought garlic powder with parsley (and whose sadistic idea was that? Fucker.) instead of garlic salt and my potato salad tasted VERY different than it usually does.

But all that was detail. The landscape was, we moved Easter up by 24 hours to keep us out of the rain, and my little kids ran around for the entire day in the backyard playing with their cousins. The landscape was, my big kids got together with the kids they'd grown up with, told jokes we wish they didn't know and generally had a good time connecting with family.

It was a very good day.

I had a moment though.

The oldest of the 'cousins' (okay--none of these 'cousins' are related by blood) is now 24 years old. He walked up to me and said, "Hey Amy!" and I got my hug (because he's a good kid, that's why,) and I suddenly flashed to Sal, the young man whose funeral I attended. Much was made about Sal being the oldest of his cousins, and I suddenly realized that I'd had the family experience through my kids and their lives if not through my own of being one of a reconnecting group of young people--and that Dillon was very much like Sal in his roll of oldest. I looked at this kid--whom I've known his whole life--and almost burst into tears.

Of course, me being me, I solved this problem by telling him, "Hey--if your Aunt Amy starts looking at you like you have an incurable disease and tearing up, here's why."

Sweet kid--he listened sympathetically, and then made me laugh. I know some awesome young people--I need to remember that.

Anyway, I've got some pictures but they're on Chicken's camera--I'll see if I can't get her to load them up! In the meantime, I've got some conversation snippets for you... and some wishes that you had a good day yourselves!

This one is Zoomboy, who still believes in magic:

"Hey mom... the Easter bunny has *spies*!

"How do you know the Easter bunny has spies in our house?"

"Because he knew that I wanted the tree frog with red eyes stuffed animal for April. I told you that every day and he KNEW!"

"Yup. The Easter Bunny has spies in our house, go figure."

This one is Dillon, 'Oldest Cousin', holding court:

"Okay, Aunt Amy, the thing I don't get, is, if you're gonna do vampire/werewolf/dragon porn, how come there aren't any lesbians?"

"Cause that's not the sort of thing that flips my switch, darlin'."

"Yeah, well, if you ever start writing about lesbian dragons, let me know. Because THAT'S some shit I would READ!"

This one is Maiden Teacher Cousin, asking me inappropriate things about my book research:

"But... how do you know how to DO those things?"

"Uhm... you know... it's... it's sex. I've been doing it with the same person for twenty-three years. You, uhm, get, you know. Creative."

"But I don't even like REGULAR sex."

"You know, I think I hear Zoomboy calling... I've got to go..."

This one is me talking to Oldest Cousin and my Crazy Friend Wendy after Zoomboy asks us what our 'most secret fear' was. His, by the way, is Zombies.

"My secret fear? My secret fear is attending a funeral in the biggest Catholic church in the city, with all sorts of political figures, the entire high school football team, a bunch of my colleagues and three news crews, and having my underwear roll down off my ass underneath my skirt as I walk to my pew."

Oldest Cousin nods his head sagely. "Well, gee, Aunt Amy--that sounds like a really, uhm, SPECIFIC kind of secret fear."

"Well," I replied, "It is NOW!"

And this is one I had with my husband as I was making potato salad. (I actually sent this to one of you not long after it happened... it was just too good not to share.)

I was wrapping up my Beauty and the Beast story and trying to get a quote from Mate. The idea was, I could dedicate the story to him... you know,

"This is for my husband who can always spot the _______________ under the gooey, creamy exterior."

Sort of a 'see below the surface' idea, to, you know, fit into the 'Beauty and the Beast' motif.

His initial ideas were... uhm...

"Chocolate. I can spot the chocolate under your gooey, creamy exterior."

"Chocolate? OMG-- that makes me sound like sugar shock, waiting to happen."

"Well... you're sweet all the way through!"

"Can't you spot something... you know... different? My inner super model? My core-of-steel-determination?"

"Your Louisiana hot-link?"

"OH. MY. GOD."

"Yeah, that was a bad one. What do you want me to say-- like I said, you're just sweet all the way through!"

"But I want there to be something better on the inside than the way I look on the outside!"

(In complete desperation--seriously--I had a kitchen knife in my hand because I was cooking, and the poor guy was cornered...)

"But there's nothing WRONG with your outside! How am I supposed to answer this stupid question anyway?"

I'm keeping him--and woe betide anyone who tries to stop me:-)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pegging Empty

You guys know when you're driving, and your empty light starts flashing? You can usually count on what I call 'the bounce'--'the bounce' is when it LOOKS like empty, but suddenly you have an extra eighth a tank to get you where you were going.

Like most teachers, I hit 'the bounce' in the week before any major break from school.

So, before the funeral today, I'd had my bounce, and I was running on fumes.

I don't even SMELL like gasoline anymore.

Tonight's yummy yummy hot guys episode helped--but once again, it was damned sad, and poor Dean... guys, he's losing faith by the second. I need Sam to jump in there and help him out, or I'm just gonna lose it on that show! Annnnnddd...

Listen to me. One more example of how I need my active fantasy life to get me through the day. Anyway, Squishie had a little mini-party at her daycare today, and that was nice. I may talk about the funeral later--but not now. Now, I'm going 'wordless' for a little while. Some pictures, some youtube.... you guys can join in my chill...