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

Sunday, November 28, 2021


 So I had a massive fasciitis flare up yesterday and I've spent pretty much all day stoned on Flexeril and Ibuprofen so let's see how coherent I am.

... probably not very.

See, I know I promised to blog more, but I've discovered that when things get super intense, I get super quiet inside. It's like I can only deal with a little bit of something at a time, so I smile, get through the social sitch and then process everything later. 

Unless shit is really bad, in which case I run for my room to cry, but that's something I try not to do a lot.

Anyway--so remember when it rained super much a lot? We were all pretty stoked that it happened, and still are--although we need it to do that about three more times, plus snowing in the Sierras for me to be comfortable showering every day. But when that happened, Chicken's apartment got flooded, and when the landlords came to assess the damage they found mold--that they sort of refused to remove or pay for. So Chicken's roommates decided to move--who can blame them?-- but they wanted to move out into their own apartment because they're a couple. Chicken can't afford her own apartment because fucking California rent, and as a result, asked to come home.

Her old room had been remodeled for Squish, so we said, "Sure--you don't have to pay us rent, but you have to do most of the remodel on what is now the storage room." She's in the middle of student teaching right now, but, well, Mate and I are in the middle of our own jobs which pay the mortgage on this crumbling piece of crap, so we knew it was going to be stressful but that was what we could manage.

The last two weeks have been her mad scramble to order her siblings around to clear out the room. She was super stressed thinking it wouldn't be done, and ignoring the fact that her father went in to work on it during the downtimes. Super small house, not a huge room--two people, maximum, can really get a handle on the work there. So she would get here and go, "OH!" And then stress out again because she had to be moved in by today.

She is moved in by today--thanks to a fairly herculean effort by almost everybody but me, because I mostly get in the way with jobs like that. My job was a little smaller--I had to get ready for Thanksgiving and then cook. We were having Chicken's roommates over, and my own dog walking buddies, and it was a large gathering for our mall, crowded house. I got it done--and even got some of the leftovers taken to my bio-mom the day afterward--but yesterday, my foot started cramping up. Being on my feet for three days, apparently, followed by a long stint of driving with not enough walkies. By last night, getting to the bathroom was super painful. Today, like I said, I spent the entire day stoned on Flexeril and Ibuprofen while my family and household changed shape around me, and my oldest, Big T, asked me why our family was like this?

I ran out of patient answers. I don't know why we're like this--why are our bathrooms falling apart, Big T? Your father was going to use his sabbatical to fix one of them, but he spent the whole time teaching you to drive. Why are our couches falling apart like they are? Well, you and your brother have been flopping your asses on them like trampolines for going on ten year now! Why do we have so much yarn?      Because buying the yarn keeps me from losing my shit about the house--yes, I'm aware it's a self defeating cycle, but when was the last time anybody offered to help dad with a house chore unless it benefitted you personally? And I realize this isn't entirely fair--mine and Mate's choices are our own, but  Squish has friends with much nicer houses too which I've heard about all week, and generally having your kids call you white trash is rough on the old self esteem.

I don't know what to tell them--or rather, I do, but what I want to say isn't polite. It's probably being in pain--and being on painkillers--because I can usually handle their criticism better than this. It might also be the worry that having one more person living here is going to change our dynamic for the worse. Or that our living room is so full of crap we can't fit a Christmas tree. I don't know--whatever it was, I know I didn't have a handle on my emotions or my ability to rein them in today.

Which is too bad.

Because I had a really nice Thanksgiving. All of that cooking was appreciated, both by Chicken's roommates, my family, and Bob and Sue. Bob is my dog walking buddy and Sue is his charming wife, and I have to tell you that when I talk about a full house, we had a six-Chihuahua Thanksgiving.  Chicken brought Carl, her roommate brought Guest-dog Gibbs, Bob brought Dude, and I had my own three to add to the mix and Thursday was raucous and delicious and fun. 

That wasn't the only part of the day that was great, either. At noon, we popped the turkey into the oven and then Mate, Zoomboy and I went up to my dad and stepmom's to visit with my stepbrother and stepsister, and while I see Casey a couple times a year, I do NOT see Todd--and it was really good to be in the same place with them on a holiday. I was so happy to get a chance to see them--and we got back to our house before the turkey was done, so I felt like a fantastic meal planner right there.

Friday, I took some leftovers--and a Chihuahua--to go see my bio-mom. Now, some of you are thinking,  "Why not Geoffie?" which is fair, because she's the cutest and the best behaved. But Ginger will bark at strangers--but not at friends. Geoffie will bark at friends because she sees the bork as sort of a "Hey, how are you?  Yeah? How's that going?" and she will bork at people as they are scratching her behind the ears because it's only polite to keep the conversation up. But Ginger, once you pick her up, as long as there's no other borking, will simply curl up in your lap and cuddle. 

So that's all she had to do while I spoke to my biomom. And there I was, holding this neurotic dog who was looking around the picnic area skeptically when Ginger spotted her mortal enemy: a chicken. This dog--who is not too graceful anyway, because her legs are like way longer than her body did this tremendous SPLANG off the picnic table to get that damned chicken. She didn't, of course--I had her leash looped around my wrist because I try not to be stupid. Anyway--the moment was hilarious and I think Alexa enjoyed her pie, and, well, it was another good day.  We will not mention the moment when I got home and discovered that the room--which had been repainted this glorious "hushed rose" color that I adored had been "splattered" Jackson Pollack style with red in an attempt to be "ironic". I'll be honest--I cried. Foot was starting to hurt, I was tired and emotionally drained, and I hadn't expected the pretty room to be transformed into a murder room while I was gone. It through me. As an apology Chicken went and got some purple and some white and used that to splatter the room, and the effect was actually much better.

 Also good was that yesterday we were able to tell Chicken to stay home and do homework while her father finished the floor in the room--and he did. It took him forever, but he had ZoomBoy to help and he should be proud of  the results.

So, yes--we're thankful. But there was also a lot going on there. I mean, a six-Chihuahua Thanksgiving and a murder room nervous breakdown would normally be their own headlines, right?

But with any luck--and a lot of ibuprofen--I should be able to walk by Tuesday and perhaps the world won't feel quite so out of control. And while I was laid up today, I managed to finish the last of three projects that I needed to photograph tomorrow so I can have a layout in the Sierra College Community Outreach education website--and I might also get to teach knitting and crochet and not just writing through them, so that's fun too!

And that also would have gotten its own headline. 

See? This has been some week.

And I am still thankful. Taking deep breaths and counting to ten, but thankful. Remembering that it's every child's job to think their parents are idiots at least once in their lives, so still thankful. And grateful for heavy duty medication so I might be able to walk by Tuesday and, yes, still thankful.

Also, I'm probably ready for bed. Don't do drugs, kids. For fuckin' real.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

18--but still my ZoomBoy

 I mentioned this on FB but ZoomBoy has new goings on in his life! For one thing, he's got a job--it starts on December 2nd, and it's in fast food (Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers, which is new for our area) and he's so excited! He's currently volunteering to help his dance teacher, and while she says he has to learn to be more engaged before she pays him, that's exciting too.

He's also planning to get his drivers permit. Woot!

And he was freaking out a little. "I'm going to be a grown up! It's so scary!"

And I shit you not, the day after he had this freak out, he was about to leave the house in his black dance pants. 

"Zoomboy? Are those on inside out?"


"Don't worry about growing up too fast!"

I mean, obviously not.

Anyway--he turned 18 today and when we asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, his answer was very... him.

For years when he was little, we'd tried to do the big birthday parties. Grandparents. Zoos. Skating parties. Whatever. Every damned time he picked one or two kids and said, "I just want to do something with them."

"Something like what?"

"Fun. We could play Legos."

"O... kay..."

And then, that's what he'd do. Have the kids over to play Legos. And eat cake. That was it. Nothing big. Friends to play with. Whee! I remember one birthday party when he ended up under the kitchen table with one kid playing with his new toys. All the other kids were outside with a piñata, but ZB had his bestie, and they were happy.

We stopped with the big parties after that btw. 

Anyway, this party--this most prestigious of ages--was no different. 

"What do you want?"

"I dunno."

"Dinner out with Grandma and Grandpa? A trip to the movies with friends? Pizza at our house with friends--"


"That's all?"

"Yeah. Pizza and ice cream cake."

"You don't like ice cream."

"No, I don't eat it because it's bad for my digestion and I want you all to live, but once a year is fine."

"Okay. What ki--"

"Cookies and cream ice cream cake."

"Done! Pizza! Your D and D buddies--what are you going to do in our crappy house, pray tell?"

"Play PS4. Watch Arcane. It'll be fine."

And it was. 

Of course, in the kitchen, I got to hear the story of how Big T and his fiancé got engaged--and here I'm at a conundrum. They sent me pictures right after he asked, and she's sporting the ring--which is a sunburst of opals--and it's adorable. It's a selfie and it's all the things  a mother wants for her child during a milestone like this. They are so happy--makes me tear up.

But it's not my picture to share. It's theirs. And while they probably wouldn't mind, it just wouldn't feel right. But I'm so happy and proud for them both. I could have listened to their engagement story all night.

Or I could have watched ZoomBoy and his friends talk in teenager nerd, perfectly happy in each other's company, perfectly relaxed as long as none of the rest of us were in the room.

Or watch ZoomBoy, Squish, and Chicken decorate the kitchen with a streamer featuring flags and realize that ZoomBoy has a secret fetish for flags and can name most of the ones on the international waters banner that I got for a con event.

Or hug my husband and go, "Hey, we managed another milestone, and they seem to be okay. For the moment, they're all okay."

I could do all of that forever. I mean, T is going to be 29 in December, so that's nearly 29 years of crossing my finger at every heartbeat check and thanking the powers that be that all hearts are accounted for. 

What's another eternity and counting?

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Where It All Comes From

 Over twenty years ago, when I was writing Vulnerable, I was writing the part where Cory was swimming in Lake Folsom. Now, I had grown up swimming in Folsom, and I loved it--but I wasn't so fond of the long weeds growing up from the bottom that would wrap their vines around my ankles. Freaked me out. I thought they were eels, although eels were probably not a thing in the lake. (FTR, this is something that has probably not been a thing over the last seven droughty years--the water has to be still and clear-ish for the weeds to grow up so long from the bottom, and there just hasn't been enough of it.)

Anyway--so I was writing that scene and I thought, "Hey, I should have a vampire grab her ankle! That would be freaky! It would freak me out, that's for sure!"  And I did! (It took me two more books to justify just what in the fuck that vampire would have been doing, lurking and rotting in the bottom of the lake to grab her, but by God, I did it!) Anyway, you'd think doing that would work out a few demons, right? I'd be able to swim across the lake just fine? 

Not so much.

Swimming in a lake has become a supreme act of bravery. I mean, I'm a good swimmer--when I was at my height of water aerobics, I could tread water for twenty minutes with my hands above my head on an off day. But those long fronds, wrapping around my ankle, dragging me down to the trash and the dead fish and the gravel below... Yeah. Couldn't do it. Last time I was in the lake I was swimming out to the buoys when suddenly I had a full-body wriggle, an absolute freak out. I had to float on my back for five minutes just to keep swimming. Dude. Scary.

So suffice it to say, "working your problems out in fiction" is not as straightforward as people might think it is.

But on the other hand...

Ten years ago, I'd finally been called in to be deposed by the super pricey lawyer Natomas School District had hired to fire me. (The hypocrisy of that--gah! Still burns!)  Anyway, after an exhausting day of having my blogs read back to me, I asked my lawyer rather pissily (I was beyond tears by this point--it had been over a year) exactly what the fucking school district wanted from me.

"Well," he said, slowly, "I think they wanted your students to have never heard of Amy Lane, or know that you wrote for profit, or were successful at all."

"But I'm an English teacher--shouldn't they want to know that it can be done? That writing is important? That fiction means something?"

"Well, not this administration."

"But that would be like cutting myself in half and getting rid of the best parts."

... And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where Chase in Shadow came from.

Now, I didn't know that's where he was coming from at the time. I had no idea. I just knew he bloomed inside of me full grown and pretty much sprang from my head, like Zeus. I knew this kid. My situation was very different--and not NEARLY as painful or as dire as Chase's, let me be clear--but I had a small inkling of what it was to be expected to hold the best of yourself back because the world was too ignorant to know better.

That core of Chase--that was me--and that despair he felt... well, that was a lot of other things that have been worked out in a lot of other books.

But I didn't realize that until later. 

It was like the Locker Room was, in essence, my goodbye to teaching. Or Solid Core of Alpha was what it was like to make the choice to write. Or Bitter Moon was my hope for a better world for my children. Or Immortal was me, making the choice to write slower, interact with my family more, be present in my children's lives, and allow the art to come.

I didn't know that's what those books were as I was writing them. I just wrote. And then they were done, and a year later, somebody said, "Where did that book come from? Where did Beneath the Stain come from?"

"Well, I grew up in a small town, back then, it had less than 3,000 people in it, and we marched the band through main street on homecoming..."

But like I said, you don't realize it until later.

I've been getting a lot of feedback (GOOD!) about the Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club books--and I'm so tickled. I didn't expect them to do particularly well--and they did. Something about them... something... well, it hit people right where they needed to be hit.

Maybe it was the isolation, and how everything in the neighborhood that they used to understand had gone to hell. 

Maybe it was that they'd suppressed their deepest desires until magic ripped them from their mouths, because they couldn't hold them back anymore--and it all ended up okay.

Maybe it was how they were locked into a situation with people they loved, but it was still hard to hold on to what was true.

Maybe it was one character's quest for passion, or another character's inability to see past the labels he'd worn since childhood when he was doing his best to fix things, or the two characters locked in the same house or--

OH. Oh. Okay. 

I didn't know it at the time--and I swore I'd never write one. 

I would absolutely never, ever write a book about the pandemic, about lockdown, about the careful living we had to do in our own souls and how hard it was to let our real wants escape when there was nothing we could do about them. About how our real emotions were frightening and how we could end up locked in the same house with someone we loved without being able to speak to them, and how the world as we knew it was suddenly a place fraught with hidden dangers.

I'd never write a book about the pandemic--but it seems I've written three of them (the first one was written in 2019) and I set them in a safe place, of magic and wonder, where we know it's all going to be okay in the end.

And that's really what people want to see. The part where it's all going to be okay in the end.

And it's been a minute since I finished that last book, and I'm still boggling. I hadn't realized that's what I'd set these books up to be until today, when someone wrote to tell me they loved the books--and I thought, "I wonder what was in them that touched so many people."

And I almost didn't want to write this blog, because I didn't want to spoil that odd and wild magic that had made these books take one of the scariest things in our lives and make it fun and goofy and harmless. But I thought maybe I should write this blog, because people should see that it can be done. That sometimes writing, disappearing into your own head, is the only way to take the scary thing and make it doable. And sometimes, whether it's pandemic crafting (*raises hand guiltily*) or shotgunning stupid sitcoms (*hand still up*) or shotgunning audiobooks while walking around the neighborhood (*arm getting tired*) the things we do to the the scary thing and make it doable are MAGIC. And its Hedge Witch magic--the comforting kind we all possess. 

It's a dark and stormy night as I type this, and here's hoping the power stays on, and here's hoping the roof doesn't leak and here's hoping I can walk the dogs tomorrow before they remember there are other places to poop. 

And in the meantime I'll go write about Jackson and Ellery, winning impossible victories for the side of good, defeating evil with strength and determination, and I'll remember this is magic, and I'll perform it some more.