So, I got a day job, and I had a schedule going. Get up, write a book, work out, go to work, come home, fall into a coma. Working from home you forget how tiring work actually is. At home, I could take a nap in the middle of the day and claim I was on a conference call when I blew off email for a few hours, but once you go into an office, that’s over.
Funny thing. I thought I had the schedule all worked out and things were trucking along. The kids were getting fed, the animals were pissed (but in a house full of three cats, when are the animals not pissed), all was normal. Except… you know what I forgot about scheduling?
Blogs. Reading them. Writing them. All of it. Oops. You guys and my Lynda.com classes fell off the list entirely. And do not even remind me of the Italian I was trying to learn. Dios mio!
And then there were those infamous words, “Do NOT download Triple Town. It will suck your days away.” Anyone want to guess what three out of four people in my house now do with expendable time? Thank you, Regan Black.
And while we’re on the subject of losing track of time and Regan Black, have you read her stuff? Have you? I’m telling you, she’s the best undiscovered paranormal writer out there right now. No, I do not make a profit if you go look her up on Amazon, and yes, you should still go do it. Like elves and stuff? Think Kresley Cole only lighter. Yeah, she does that. Want darker futuristic? No problem, she does that too. She’s why I don’t write paranormal, so if you’re looking for something to read this weekend, and are going to be stuck inside because Tropical Storm Amanda/Amelia/Something with an A is coming, go pick up her books.
They’re way better than Triple Town and those damn evil Pandas!
OK, no we didn’t. We talked about it because Regan Black’s cats keep hiding stuff under there. But we didn’t really have a second bucket… or motivation. If the cats are dumb enough to put their toys under the fridge, they don’t really need them.
For all of you currently scratching your heads, it’s Writer’s Weekend. That wonderful weekend when I get together with my best friends and we talk writing, and eat and drink, and get caught up on everything, and eat and drink, and cackle and spew coffee on the laptops, and eat and drink, and you get the idea.
These women don’t freak out when they find out I’ve never done a tequila shot. The give me a silent look of “what rock did you crawl out from under,” grab a lime and another shot glass and that’s that.
I’m fairly sure this is what sorority sisters do when they get together. Maybe not. We talk A. Lot. about writing. We talk about our characters as if they’re real people, we lust after Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and a bunch of other hot men, and we all eat things we shouldn’t. For me, that’s pretty much every food on the planet, including the two donuts I had for breakfast.
Leave me alone. If you can’t have Iron Man for breakfast, donuts are a close second.
This morning I got up and Regan looked at me and said, “When are you giving up the fight and walking on the beach. You know you’ll feel better.” Which is just one of the many reasons I love these women. They get me.
Normally, I don’t fight the call of the beach. But it’s Memorial. Day. Weekend. And the beach is 30 minutes away. So going to the beach is a production. Unless it’s 8:15 am. Then it’s really easy to park in the parking meter area, walk the beach for an hour and leave before you have a sunburn and when everyone on the beach is still happy.
Anyway, she was right. I walked on the beach and now it’s all good. When I win the lottery, you’ll find me living on the South Carolina coast. With three other writers and a large company of imaginary friends, er, characters.
And I get to stay for another whole day. That’s one more potential walk on the beach before I have to go back to reality.
My devoted readers will remember that the weekend Girl Scout Cookies were delivered, my household went wheat-free. If you’re new and you stumbled here hoping there was some uber-secret Get Girl Scout Cookies now that girls aren’t selling them site, sorry to disappoint, but stick around.
It’s now been a little over two months without wheat, or mostly without wheat (there have been a couple of celebration meals that included pizza) and I feel…terrible. Everybody loses weight when they give up wheat. I was losing, on average, .25 pounds a week, and that was with me working out. I was losing strength, losing energy, my stomach was a mess.
Luckily, when I started down this little path through the amber waves of grain, I also scheduled a doctor’s appointment because according to everything I’ve read (yes, on the Internet), I have no hormones, and probably no thyroid. OK, I may have them, but they’re totally out of whack.
The happy day of my doctor’s appointment finally came around two weeks ago. We talked forever (more than the usual 20 seconds at a regular doctor’s office), and he and I agreed that I was probably allergic to something I was eating instead of wheat. My concern was that it was more than one thing, and I wasn’t really interested in taking the time to figure out what it was, when for the low, low price of $200 and five vials of blood, I could find out what I was allergic to.
I got the answers on Friday, ironically, while sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office so his vampire assistant could take yet another vial of blood. So I open the email and find out that I am allergic to literally everything I have been eating since going wheat-free. Basically, I was trying to commit suicide with parsley and pineapple. Not together. That would be gross.
I’m allergic to goat’s milk. I’m allergic to casein, which is found in all cow’s milk products. I’m allergic to almonds, pistachios and cashews. Melon. Yeast. Vanilla. Mustard?!!? Really? Brussel sprouts, so Totally Awesome Step-Mother can now stop telling me I should eat them because she has a great recipe. To be fair, she does have a great recipe, but I won’t be partaking anymore. Also, I now have proof that I am allergic to several types of fish and shellfish. And peanuts. Cranberries. Bananas. It’s a really impressive list.
In my typical fashion, I think I took the news fairly well. I calmly left the doctor’s office and drove to the nearest Cook Out where I ordered a CHEESEburger. On. A. BUN. With MUSTARD. French Fries. Onion Rings (which the last time I checked, involved wheat). And a Mint Chocolate Chip milkshake. If I could have found a way to add beer to the mix and really load up on yeast, I would have.
Yes, I got serious about this on Saturday. I didn’t have dairy all weekend. Yesterday, I had to make a cake for a Boy Scout Court of Honor. Since I wasn’t eating it, I used wheat. No, I was not about to waste $8/pound special flour on Boy Scouts.
Here’s where things got interesting. While making the cake, I had about two tablespoons of cake batter (containing wheat and milk), and probably the same amount of frosting. Both homemade by me. And totally worth it. Until about twenty minutes later when I started itching like fury and my allergies flared and my stomach decided I was the dumbest person on Earth.
Seriously?!!? I’d been off milk for 2.5 days! I’m still itchy today. Which might have something to do with the fact that my Boy Scout popcorn “contains milk ingredients.” Crap. That was just not something I thought to check. Stupid cow.
Oddly, while I cannot eat any cow byproduct, I have no allergies to the cow itself. Hello Filet Mignon. Goodbye parsley. And yes, I really am allergic to parsley, which is maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever had to admit.
A few days ago I was volunteering at Snarky Daughter’s school. It’s a small school, so if you show up at all during your kid’s years there, you’re pretty much guaranteed to know the entire staff. So it didn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure out that the Career Counselor was having a rough week. It was Tuesday.
We started chatting and I learned he was back in school getting his Masters, and we were talking about how became a school counselor, etc, etc. Eventually it turned to my day job search, which after a year, continues to be a chorus of, “You were a finalist, but we went with the person who had twelve years experience in exactly our field.”
We moved on to the maybe it’s time for me to go back to school, get a degree in something else, rack up some student loan debt (two years before Snarky Daughter goes to college) and find a new job.
Me: I’m not against going back to school, but I need to decide what direction I want to go. If I could find my passion before I made a move…
Counselor: Sometimes you need to just take a leap of faith. Find a program you like and trust you’ll find a job on the other side.
Me: I lack faith. You know in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indy has to take that step and trust that there is a way across the bottomless chasm (is there any other kind of chasm)? And he does it? Right. I’m the one turning around saying, “I’ll face the Nazis.”
But something he said clearly resonated with me, because within ten minutes I was changing my attitude. For the last six months, I’ve been putting my life on hold because I didn’t have a day job. I’m not trying to meet anyone because I’m afraid I’m going to have to move. Why would anyone want to date an unemployed writer? No, I won’t be serving another term on the PTA board because I can’t promise I’ll be here come fall. On and on it went, with me turning away from life because I might move this summer.
But on Tuesday, with the help of the counselor and then my hairdresser I decided to change it up. Instead of putting my life on hold because I might move, I’m going to start living and assume that the job will find me.
I thought I was good with all of this. And then last night I had a horrifying dream that while trying to park my car the brakes didn’t work and I went flying over the edge of a small version of the Grand Canyon. In dreamland, I didn’t have my seatbelt on, and yet remained in my seat, and knew that if I could get my seatbelt back on before the car hit the ground, I’d be safe. At the last second I got it back on, and sure enough, the car and I were fine.
There are days in my life when I really wish I had a dream interpreter. Yeah, this one is pretty clear. I need to take a leap of faith. Apparently I will survive. And no, I’m not going to put in a link to Gloria Gaynor because now that I’ve mentioned her, you’re all singing along anyway. You’re welcome.
If the job finds me here, great. If I have to move, guess what. Life will go on. Wherever I go, I’ll still be writing romance novels, so I’ll be happy. And I will have experienced life in the meantime.
Which just goes to tell you how today is going since it is both Monday, and raining. I actually love the rain, but I was really looking forward to working in the Garden Office today. Instead, I have to sit here and enjoy the flowers that got damaged when I was potting the plants. Notice the beautiful Blue Moon Beer vase.
So, I’m sure you’re all wondering how I was doing yesterday after Saturday’s Tackle Every Yard Project Imaginable. Well. Yes. The dog got me up Sunday at 6:45 to announce that she had to go out. (I really want a dog door.) So I rolled over and whimpered. Let the dog out, and went back to bed.
Twenty minutes later, I got back up with more whimpering, decided a full yoga workout was not in the cards, what with breathing hurting and all, let the dog back in and opted for working on one part of me at a time. Went back to bed with my Kindle and started a heavy-duty thumb workout with the Next Page button. After an hour, I figured I was ready to face the day.
Had some oatmeal and Advil for breakfast and then started baking, with occasional stretching added in. Then I got serious. Brownies. Oatmeal Cookies. Jell-O. You know. Everything a kid would like to take to school for a lunch treat. And yes, all wheat-free.
While the cookies were going, I went a little crazy and decided to change the sheets on my bed. Because, you know, it’s Sunday and I lead a really exciting life. Also, it was too cold to go hang out in Garden Office. While I was at it, I thought I’d flip the mattress around because that’s cheaper than buying a new one that lacks a crater in the center.
Let’s talk about how much a mattress weighs. I’m sure that under normal circumstances they weight what 50 pounds? Maybe? Whatever. Let me tell you, after digging all the holes, etc on Saturday, I had the arm strength of a butterfly. So that mattress weighed about 300 pounds.
Since I needed to take a breather halfway through moving it around, I noticed all the dust collecting around all the spindles on the bed. I love this bed. It’s a gorgeous Arts and Crafts style thing. There are two reasons never to buy this bed. 1) It’s a dusting pain in the ass. 2) All your friends will make bondage jokes when they see it. Every. One. Of. Them. I didn’t realize you all lived in the gutter with me, or that you thought I had that much fun in bed, but whatever.
It took over an hour to dust this bed because the only way you get the dust off the spindle bases is with a toothbrush. Also, I had to stop every eight minutes to drop dough on a cookie sheet.
Finally, a lifetime later, my room was clean. No worries. I had a window open so you know everything was covered in pollen again by dinner. Yes, I know. I have allergies, I shouldn’t have open windows. But I’ve been locked in the house all winter and it needs airing out.
So, cleaned my room, cleaned the kitchen. Scrubbed the kitchen floor with a Magic Eraser mop head and if you haven’t tried one of those yet (and you have linoleum) you’ve got to try it. It’s like a before and after photo from a Mr. Clean commercial. And no, I did not take those before/after pictures because it would ruin the mystique that is me.
Romance writers. We have awesome sex all the time, have perfect husbands, and pristine kitchen floors. You’re buying it, right?
Onward through the day, I finally hit the Garden Office. Heaven! Wrote, did some research, and watched the Ex and Scout Son kill themselves replacing the belt on the lawnmower so that Snarky Daughter and I could mow the lawn after dinner.
Made dinner, mowed the lawn, took a bath, and read a really cute, sweet romance, Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros. Basically, Sunday was a day of doing really easy chores and watching other people work really hard fighting a lawnmower.
It’s just part of the glamorous life I lead as a romance writer.
Getting dressed today, my finger shot through the lace of my bra. No real surprise there since, like all the others, this one is about three years old. Yes, I need new underwear. But 1) I hate buying underwear, and 2) I was hoping to be able to buy smaller underwear.
Since I started doing DDP Yoga back in October, I’ve lost about six pounds and over 13 inches. I’m thrilled about the inches, verklempt about the pounds, and keep hoping that I’m going to step on the scale one morning and see some serious weight loss. So I keep avoiding buying new clothes.
Exercise. You’ll lose the weight. Go wheat-free. You’ll lose the weight. Do all of the above, you’ll lose one pound a month. Yeah, I know. Have my thyroid and hormone levels checked. I’m on it.
Anyway, back to my underwear and too much information. Between being a romance writer and buying in to all those ads in Glamour, I believe a woman’s underwear should be sexy and match. Every day. Well, not so much when I work out, but the rest of the time.
So, I was searching through the panties (why do I feel like I’m five years old when I use that word?) at one of those nationwide department stores, trying to find a pair that matches the bra in my hand. I know they exist because, hello, there’s a five foot photo of some hot model wearing them on the wall.
“Can I help you?” Because the only thing better than shopping for sexy underwear is getting help from a complete stranger.
“You could find the matching panties.”
“Not going to happen.”
I stop rifling. “What do you mean?”
Get this. They want us to buy the underwear in sets, but they don’t ship them that way. They ship the bras in one shipment, and the panties a few weeks later. AND most stores only get one or two panties of each size compared to the 20 or so bras they get, so if you’re not the first one there, you’re outta luck.
I still can’t figure this one out. I mean, the designers designed them to go together. We want to buy them together because, secretly, deep down somewhere, we’re hoping Johnny Depp is going to show up, strip our clothes off and see us in this underwear, which will make us look as hot as the model in the ad. Our significant others want to see us in them because they don’t really believe we’d throw them over for Johnny Depp. Plus, they know the odds of Johnny Depp showing up (slightly better since he broke up with his girl friend, but I fear I have a better shot at winning the lottery), so they figure they’ll score.
And they’re probably right, because when we wear sexy underwear, we feel sexy. So everyone, even Johnny Depp, wants us to buy the panties and the bra together.
Apparently only the guys in logistics want us in grandma panties and bras that hide everything from our armpits to our waist and lack lace. I’m not sure what that says about them.
Maybe by now they’ve figured things out. And maybe when I go shopping, I’ll have lost some more of those pounds.
I think I need to get rid of all the tables in my house. You’ll recall a few weeks ago, while minding my own business and picking up a pen or something, the coffee table jumped out and viciously bit my forehead. That still sounds so much better than my depth perception failed me and I banged my head on the corner.
At 5AM this morning (is there any other kind of AM?) I woke up from a totally weird dream where I was being laid off, rolled over and smashed my eye into the corner of the nightstand. Regan Black will kindly stop laughing as I managed to do basically the same thing at her house last year.
I’m not sure which is a worse omen for a job interview, a dream that you’re being laid off — they gave notice by giving you and 8×12 HOT PINK envelope, because that would be subtle — or giving yourself a black eye four hours before said interview.
What I do know is that instead of a final read-through of the job description, I was matching my eye makeup to the quickly growing bruise on my eyelid. It should be stated at this point, that I’m not a makeup girl. I barely know how to use it, and until a year or two ago, I had one set of eye shadows. That I even had cream, green and brown eyeshadows, let alone knew how to use them together, is a miracle.
I’m not really a klutz. Really. But I am beginning to think I need to have an eye exam because the tables are getting seriously pissed about something. And they’re taking it out on me.
No, I don’t crave bread. I’m not a big sandwich person. But I would gladly kill for some crackers.
According to the book, people who don’t eat wheat will eat 300-400 fewer calories than people who eat wheat. I’m not sure how this is possible since all I want to do is eat everything that is not wheat in the hopes it will taste like…wheat.
See, this is the problem with binging on wheat last week. Now I’m going through withdrawal. Yes, there is wheat withdrawal.
But it will be worth it. And with all the time I’m saving by not stuffing my face with crackers, I am writing. And since I’m cranky, you know I’m torturing my characters.
They don’t want wheat. They want… well, we all know what they want. But they’re not getting any either. Hopefully by the time they do get some, I’ll be through my withdrawal and a happy camper again.
Have I mentioned the 9 cases of Girl Scout Cookies that are still in my living room? I ordered 8 boxes of cookies before I got this great idea. Snarky Daughter bought 2 boxes, and Scout Son bought 1. That’s 11 boxes of cookies We. Can’t. Eat.
Just sitting there. Taunting us. Well, me. Because I am letting the kids have a cookie a day. At this rate, we’ll be out of cookies by Christmas.
All you folks who give stuff up for Lent? I have a whole new respect for you. Because that binge thing last week? I am paying for it now. The interesting thing is I know I’m not hungry as I’m lusting after crackers. I feel full. So I tell The Voice in my head to shut the hell up. I am not hungry. Because I’m not.
Channel your inner Gloria Gaynor here:
At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side…
I want to be healthier than my mom was. Yesterday I told you about how much pain I was in last week when I was eating all the wheat. But today’s Day Two and the pain is almost completely gone again. So is the swelling. I still have a headache, but I blame the coffee table.
Now, I just have to make it through Day Three. For those of you who haven’t ever tried cutting carbs out of your diet, Day Three is the day from hell. It’s the day the cravings are typically the worst.
Channel Gloria again. I will survive. I will survive! I will survive!!
When I started telling friends and family that my family was going wheat-free beginning this week, the resounding response was, “Why?”
It’s a complicated answer, but here’s the basic deal. Studies are now showing that wheat isn’t good for us. In fact, it’s really bad. It’s been connected with increased symptoms of diabetes, asthma, allergies, migraines, Autism/Asperger’s, depression and a whole host of other things. The list is really long. And it contains pretty much every problem my mom was having when she died one month after she turned 65.
When I started listening to The Wheat Belly Diet book in the car two weeks ago, I got worried really quickly. Not only were my mom’s health issues on the laundry list, but so were my biggest issues (pain, inflammation and migraines) and Scout Son’s.
So I came home from a job interview and said, “Hey, guess what? We’re giving up wheat.”
But when I started sharing everything I learned, everybody was on board, even Sarcastic Roommate.
I know what you’re thinking. She’s crazy. Wheat’s been around for centuries. How can it be bad?
Well, here’s the deal. The wheat our grandparents and all the generations before them ate, had 14 chromosomes. But it was a bitch to grow. It’s tall. It’s prone to bugs and disease. So in the ’50s, scientists got the great idea to genetically alter it. And then did it. Today’s wheat is dwarf wheat, easier to grow, drought and bug resistant. And with 42 chromosomes, it’s barely related to the wheat we used to eat.
Now if we’d done some, I dunno, animal or human testing before releasing our miracle wheat on the population, we might have figured out that what we’d made was a health issue monster. But there were starving people to feed worldwide, and money to be made. And realistically, I’m not sure we had the testing know how back then to realize there was a problem.
Today, we know better. So, today, no wheat.
Want some more joyous data about today’s wheat? It triggers the same responses in the human body as heroin. Enjoy that bagel! And when you get off of wheat, you go through the withdrawal symptoms equivalent to quitting smoking. Headaches. Crankiness. Lethargy.
Now, I questioned some of what I read. I mean, seriously. Inflammation? Headaches? Pain? But last week, wanting to look and feel my best (and because we had all these wheat products in the house), I ate wheat. Hell, if I could have rolled around in it, I would have. I ate more wheat than I have eaten in months.
And I felt like shit. By day 3 of Eat the Wheat, I was ready for Vicodin for every injury I’ve had over the past ten years, and a bunch of those places were swollen again. I had headaches, stomach aches, and was always desperate for my next meal. It was insane.
So I was really happy when Day One came around. But I won’t lie. There’s some withdrawal going on here. And I have a humdinger of a headache, although that may be because the coffee table jumped up and beat me in the forehead. That’s the only possible explanation, because the other option is that I didn’t see the corner there, where it’s been for the past five years.
Anyway, it’s the end of Day One, I’m cranky and I have a Jumping Coffee Table induced headache. But I didn’t have wheat, which is saying a lot considering my family bought a total of 11 boxes of Girl Scout cookies from Snarky Daughter. The kids are tapering off wheat and can have a cookie a day. I’m trying to stay clean.
I live in the country. Living in the country means mice. I keep my stuff in air tight canisters to make sure there’s no food available, but they’re mice. They think newspaper is food. To be fair, some of the cereal in here tastes like newspaper, so…
Anyway, I keep the house clean, keep the food locked up, but I live in the woods, so mice. I pay a nice quarterly sum for there to not be mice. Every three months the guys come in with their bait, which I long ago decided was a fine way of dealing with the issue. You see, I used to trust the cat.
Years ago, the cat worked fine. No mice. Then the cat had the audacity to die. OK, yes, she was old. Well, older. Now the Ex was sort of in an anti-indoor-animal phase, as he has been for the past lifetime or two. Not his fault. He grew up in the country, with the mice, where pets stay outside. And he’s not really a cat person. He’s not a writer; it didn’t come with the job description. I get it.
So, I was trying to be thoughtful and not get another blasted indoor pet. We were going cat-free. After all, we had toddlers. That was more than enough fun for any household. Right. No cat.
One night, I’m home from covering some school board meeting for the local paper. I’m on deadline, so it’s 11ish and the story’s due at midnight, and I can’t get it done. The words aren’t coming. There are only so many ways you can talk about how we need another high school and nobody’s going to pay for it, and I’d used those ways up over the past four years.
I glance up from my laptop, and there next to the bookcase, looking as editorial as ever, is a mouse. He looks at me, I look at him. I outweigh him by an elephant, so you’d think he’d bail. But he just keeps staring at me and washing his whiskers. So, writing being a lot like the Superbowl and other sports events, I yell at him. At least HE is in the room and can hear me.
Look, Mouse. I’ve got an editor ten miles away waiting for this story. I don’t need you supervising too.
I swear he shrugged his shoulders. Then he meandered back behind the bookcase. I calmly explained to the Ex that people in the country have cats for a reason, and three weeks later, we had Replacement Cat. Who understood the cat job description. Within a week, no mouse sounds or sightings.
We also kept a steady supply of outdoor cats. No, I do not want letters on this. I live in the middle of nowhere. People dump cats out here. They’re basically feral. I feed them, get them fixed, make sure they get annual shots, and let them live outside. We have a shed where they get protection from the weather. And they kept the rodent population down.
Unfortunately, over the years the coyotes have kept the cats down. Or the hawks have. Not sure which, but over the years, the cats have disappeared and I haven’t had new drop-offs.
So now I have mice, and three cats, living in harmony. Apparently they all signed the Magna Carta or something because the mice eat the mouse bait and go die somewhere. I know this because the pest control guy and I are really confused. The bait disappears completely 2-3 weeks before he’s due to come out. I know this because the cats start hanging out at the pocket door where we put the bait. All. The. Time.
But I never see a mouse. I don’t hear a mouse. I can’t smell dead mouse. No sign of mouse except the bait disappears. And we can’t figure out where they go to die. But it doesn’t appear to be in my house.
But I had to get the pest guy involved because since Replacement Replacement Cat came onto the scene, she didn’t read the cat job description. On the rare occasion that she catches a mouse (that would be ONCE), she kept dropping it and toying with it. But he was fast, and she dropped it next to a spot where the baseboard didn’t quite match up and goodbye mouse. She wasn’t bothered by this. I was furious since she’d dumped it in my bathroom.
But apparently Sophie believes anything other than guarding the door is beneath her. She weighs about nine pounds. Stumpasaurus Rex, so named by the vet because an accident as a stray kitten left him one leg short of a four-pack, weighs in at 11 pounds. If he could catch a mouse, he’d just flop down on it and suffocate it. But, as I said, they seemed to have reached a parlay with the mice: we don’t see you, you’re good.
Then, there’s Pretty Princess Kitty. Snarky Daughter named her Athena Aphrodite. Her name is bigger than she is. The runt of her litter, she weighs five pounds. She cleans her whiskers just so. She washes the Doberman’s ears because clearly the dog can’t do anything right.
And yesterday afternoon, she killed a mouse. I’m so proud.
The other two cats may have signed the no-kill agreement, but they didn’t sign the no-eat agreement. The reason I found out about Athena’s act of bravery was because she was growling and running away from the other two, who were quite interested in her prize.
She was not happy when I took it away from her and tossed it where all dead things go: into the woods on the other side of the electric fence so the dog can’t bring them back.
Being a good owner, I gave her a prize: part of a Pill Pocket. And then I did the happy dance because there is a killer amongst us. It reminds me a lot of the Killer Rabbit in Monty Python.