Random Sunday

I wrote an entire post on You Again, hit “Publish Post” and lost all of it. It was a great post, too. Well, probably not that great. But I liked it. So here’s a Random Sunday. I’ll get back to you on You Again again later.

I’m playing the Spamalot cast recording. That was a good afternoon in the theater. Bob even laughed. Right now they’re singing, “He’s Not Dead Yet.” Story of my career.

I currently have four WIPs (Works in Progress) some of them more IP than others. I think that’s three too many, but I’m learning to be flexible because I love all of them.

There was a post-it note on my desk when I cleaned it off. It said, “getting caught” and under that “Goddess” and under that “Hawaiian shirts” and then up in the corner “Flying Bowl” with the symbol for woman under that. I’m sure this is vastly important but I don’t know what the hell it means.

South Beach Diet Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are delicious and come conveniently packaged in 100 calorie packs, which is great because all I have to do is count the pile of crumpled packs to know how many thousand calories I’ve inhaled.

Sara Ramirez is genius. She really earned that Tony. The Lady of the Lake and her Laker Girls. Plus she does a perfect faux Andrew Lloyd Weber heroine. I LOVE “The Song That Goes Like This.” “Once in every show, there’s a song that goes like this . . . They’ll all hum along, we’ll overact like hell.” In the Phantom boat, no less. “That’s the trouble with this song, it goes on and on and on.” I can’t wait until “The Diva’s Lament.” My fave. Well, that and “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.”

You really should go read Chris Merrill’s blog (http://doublecheese.livejournal.com/). My fave entry is the one where James does the Supreme Court poster at 6AM, but they’re all good.

I love “My Name is Earl.” It’s such a sweet show, and God Bless Jason Lee for that. Also Jaime Pressly is amazing.

Agnes, the heroine of the Crusie/Mayer WIP, bakes cake. Lots of cake. This was a mistake. But the chocolate raspberry is delicious.

Sara’s singing “Find Your Grail.” Very inspiring. I think she’s doing Whitney Houston but it’s hard to tell. Very pop princess power ballad. Sara can sing anything while being anybody. Yes, I am Sara Ramirez’s bitch. Deal with it. Ooooh, and now Tim Curry’s joined her. Best Broadway Musical duet EVER.

Some guy was nabbed a couple of weeks ago for stealing $200,000 worth of Legos. I thought for sure there was a short story in that, but it turns out that once you’ve said “$200,000 worth of Legos,” you’ve pretty much said it all.

If you put Peeps in the microwave, they get very big. Strangely, this is not the thrill you’d think it would be.

I have poker-playing clams. Better than Xanax are poker-playing clams.

Tea is the most comforting drink in the world. Especially peppermint tea on a cold night. With very small crispy cookies, because tea, unlike milk, does not lend itself to pigging out.

“Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.” Genius song.

Great buttons are underrated as a mood lifter. I have a jacket with retro flowers buttons, and every time I look at it, I feel happy.

Bob has a new watch. It’s big and black and has huge numbers and is also a barometer, a stop watch, and a compass. It even tells the altitude. Do you have any idea how tired I’m going to get of hearing what altitude we’re at?

Michael Lutin is the world’s best astrologer.

Oh, good, the Diva’s Lament: “Whatever happened to my part? It was exciting at the start. Now we’re halfway through Act 2, and I’ve had nothing yet to do. I’ve been offstage for far too long . . .” Every female character in a male-dominated story knows this song.

We have an alligator mascot for the road (my idea, of course) and when I realized that the figurine was genderless and our Moot is female, I glammed her up a little bit. Then I put her on the desk and looked at her for a couple of days and decided her hair was too long and trimmed it. Now I’m thinking it needs to be fuller, especially on the right. I don’t spend this much time with my own hair, but by damn, Moot’s gonna look good on tour.

Moot’s also going to see the Puffy Shirt at the Smithsonian next week. Assuming I can find the Puffy Shirt at the Smithsonian.

My cousin Russ Parsons, the famous writer (why, yes, I am bragging) says that the Smith family cranberry recipe is one of the most-requested holiday recipes at the LA Times. I vaguely remember this dish, mostly because it was one of the few my family did not cover with gravy.

Potato chips are a vegetable, right? Just checking.

Sara and Tim Curry are doing the reprise of “The Song That Goes Like This.” One of the great romantic ballads of our time, sung by two divas. Does it get any better? I don’t think so.

When I was home for Christmas, I bent over to get something, and my shirt rode up in back and my mother said, “Why, Jennifer, that almost looks like you have a tattoo.” Eagle-Eyed Jo is seventy-nine but she can spot the top curl of an antenna at thirty paces. I said, “That is a tattoo, and what are you doing looking at my back, huh?” She said, “I’m your mother,” which makes no sense but it’s worked as a justification for anything for fifty-six years, so I let it slide. Then she said, “How is it that you get the tattoo and I’m the bad one?” I thought, “Because it’s my world, the rest of you are just local color,” but I didn’t say it out loud, I’m not that dumb. Then she said, “Well, now you have to show the family,” at which point my nephew Jacob, who had been trying to snicker quietly, gave up and snickered out loud. I said, “Let me think. No.” She said, “Well, then you have to show me,” and she’s my mother, so I did. Then to pay her back, I said, “When you get one there, it’s called a trailer trash license plate.” She said, “Jennifer!” so my work was done, but then my dad said to her, “Well, I guess if Jenny has one, you need to get one, too.” And I thought about taking my mother to Mother’s Tattoo and Piercing in Covington and saying, “Give her a nice red heart with a banner that says ‘Born to Vacuum in High Heels.’” But she said no. Another fantasy shot to hell.

Then my niece wrote my daughter and said, “It was the best Christmas ever.”

I love the end of Spamalot. They sing “I’m Not Yet Wed,” and everybody gets married. To perfect strangers. Kind of like a bad romance novel, except this is really good, what with the big “Find Your Grail” wedding number and the even bigger finish with the confetti–I had the BEST time at this show. You just leave it smiling all over the place. Bob practically skipped down Fifth Avenue afterward. Okay, he didn’t, if you didn’t know him you couldn’t even tell he’d been there.

I might have skipped down Fifth Avenue, though. I LOVE THIS SHOW.

Okay, next week a real post, swear to God. In the meantime, always look on the bright side of life.

And if you ever get the chance to see Sara Ramirez in ANYTHING, go.

Mare 12: Well . . .

So it’s the last day of Mare and I wrote exactly 0 words. Must be a new world’s record. But we got the book plotted and I know what the last scene is (that’s HUGE in fiction) and we all had a wonderful time. And now I’m heading south to Doom Boy and image coaching, and not a moment too soon for the image coaching.

Must go pack. And get my speech notes together. And finish the laundry. And find out why the cat is sitting on the basement steps, staring at me malevolently. Bob looks at me like that. So does Eileen, for that matter. Hmmmm.

Oh and Mare is due in April, so you’ll be hearing more. But for the next week, I’m going to be over on He Wrote She Wrote correcting Bob’s interpretation of things. It’s a full time job.

Mare 10: Mission Accomplished

And tomorrow we go home.
We worked on the book all day today while we drove and had lunch by the ocean and we’ve got the structure blocked out. So we can all go to our separate states now and work on our sister’s story. And we need to meet again to do the final draft, putting them all together.
So we had a beautiful day and did good work and now we’re going home, tired but happy.
It was a good, good trip.

Mare 9: Nothing But Good Times

I’d love to write about everything that happened today but I’m so tired I’m falling over. In short:

Eileen and Krissie and I worked all morning.

Then Mollie came and we went back to La Ripaille the French bistro on Hudson Street where the food is incredible and where Eileen and Jen and I had had lunch the day before, and the maitre d’ hugged me. So I’m going back.

Then we worked on the book and discussed business for the rest of the afternoon until Dale Burg came, at which point we laughed harder because Dale is hysterically funny. And she quoted Nora Ephron who said that at the beginning of every relationship, the role of crazy person is up for grabs. And I wondered who had grabbed it in the partnership so I asked Bob in e-mail. No answer so far. I also don’t know who it is in the Eileen/Krissie/Jenny collaboration (we’re trying to think of a name for it), but basically, I think we’re all nuts.

Then we met Mollie’s significant other who had dinner with five women without flinching.

Then we went to Mary’s for cake because she was closing forever tonight. Very sad.

And then we came back to the apartment and ate cake and had a wonderful time.

After which I convinced Eileen and Krissie to start blogs so they could talk about Dee and Lizzie. Eileen says her first blog entry is going to be “Jenny Made Me Do It.”

Then they went to bed and I picked up my e-mail which included several from Bob, three of which read, in their entirety, “We’re doomed.”

And tomorrow we’re driving out to the Hamptons because none of us have ever been and we might want to set the next book out there. Because we’re pretty sure we want to do this again.

There’s more, but I’m exhausted and I need to get to bed because I have to get up and drive across Long Island tomorrow with Eileen and Krissie screaming “Road trip!” out the windows.

Have I mentioned I’m having a wonderful time?

Mare 8: Lots of Good Work

Well, we’ve been working our Triple Goddess butts off here and getting a lot done. We’ve worked out a starting structure, figured out a fantastic climax, had lunches with editors, and managed not to kill each other, although I think both Eileen and Krissie are tired of hearing, “When Bob and I do this . . . ”

It’s a very different process we’re doing, but there are some similarities, mostly in the way I annoy them, too. Eileen and I had lunch here in the Village with Jen Enderlin, our fabulous editor (Krissie of the multiple publishers was off having lunch with a different editor), in a great little French bistro (and yes, I AM the luckiest woman in the world, don’t think I don’t know it) and Jen said she’s going to market the book as a novel, not an anthology, which is exactly what it is since the stories are interwoven and interlinked. I am SO excited about this book, about the story and the way it’s being written.

One thing I’ve learned from writing with Bob (Krissie and Eileen moan in the background) is that writing with somebody else forces you to move outside your comfort zone and try new things. And while Krissie and Eileen and I have much the same value systems, we have very different voices and story worlds. So this will be a book about three women who really are three different women because they’re written by three different women, plus I’m going to have to accomodate my plotting to theirs, so it’ll all be new. I’m jazzed.

Another way this is similar to the work I do with Bob is that we disagree, occasionally heatedly, but it’s never about who has the most words or about ego, it’s always about what’s best for the book. Eileen and I were going round about structure, and she said, “If we do it that way, we’ll lose readers.” I didn’t agree, but it’s the kind of argument that’s about the best way to tell the book, not about who gets her way. And Krissie the peacemaker says, “Let’s try it both ways.”

Which is funny because she’s writing Lizzie, the peacemaker middle sister. Eileen is writing Dee, the caring, efficient, bossy older sister who mothers everybody (have you MET Eileen?). I’m writing the reckless, distracted, impulsive, erratic, really annoying younger sister. Funny that their characters are so reflective of their personalities and mine is nothing like me.

So tonight Eileen is going to see O’Neill because if you’re Irish in New York and O’Neill is playing someplace you have to go. I’m staying in because if you’re German in New York and O’Neill is playing someplace, you’d rather be dragged through a hedge backwards than go. And Krissie’s staying in with me, so we’re going to work on our homework (Eileen’s is done already, of course, and made into packets) and then send out for pizza when Eileen gets home.

Really a lovely night in NYC. Nothing but good times ahead.

Mare 7: Eileen, Krissie, and Jenny, Together Again

Well, we’re all here in New York, and after a late dinner with Meg at the White Horse where Eileen humiliated everybody by asking what kinds of Chardonnay they had–just have a beer, Eileen–we came back and worked on the plot of the Miss Fortunes and laughed pretty damn hard. There was that moment when Eileen said seriously, “Okay, so the three guys are chained naked on the mountaintop and then?” that will live in surreal memory (no, that’s not going in the book), and the three of us trying to untangle and layer the supernatural element, the sexual element, and the community element so they echoed each other instead of confusing things, and about forty other things I can’t repeat here because they were too lewd but also funny as hell, and now we’re breaking for the night to start again tomorrow. We actually got quite a bit done, although to do it we had to reference Buffy and The Waltons and discuss the erotic significance of motor cycles, plus Eileen brought packets with maps and all her character stuff done, I brought the Mare character stuff and then realized I hadn’t done Crash, so my homework was only half done, and Krissie hadn’t done any of it. We were meant for each other.

Tomorrow, we get the plot lines down and figure out exactly what happens in the climax so that we can write our separate novellas all heading for the same ending. This is going to be SUCH a good book.

So I’m working, I’m really working. Honest.

Mare 6: I Heart NYC

Well, I’m in New York and can I just say this is the greatest place on earth? Thank you.

Spent the day with my brilliant beautiful daughter, Mollie, because it’s her birthday, and we walked around and talked. And then we had omelets and talked. And then we walked and talked some more. And then we had coffee and raspberry chocolate cake and talked. And then we walked and talked back to the apartment where I’m staying and then we sat and talked some more. Truly a wonderful day. We got six hours in before she had to go back to her significant other who also wanted birthday time, and now I’m here getting ready to get my notes together for Krissie and Eileen tomorrow and maybe order a pizza.

In the meantime, the frog is a Christmas ornament from Hobby Lobby that I bought because I thought, “I’ll need that someday;” the Girls in the Basement are never wrong. Will check into music selections. And that screaming you hear from the South is Bob because we’re reconfiguring Agnes after only 20,000 words. Which is always what happens to me, but a new experience for him. Well, actually, it’s the second time; it happened on DLD, too. He just e-mailed me and said, “We’re off the outline already!” Yeah, what’s your point?

Must go revel in being in New York for awhile and then work on Mare. Back later.

*****

And now it’s later. Bob keeps saying he’s going to fix the plot of Agnes, so my plan is to leave him to it because he’s going to do it anyway. Very singleminded, our Bob. Also this is Mare Week in NYC, Krissie is arriving tomorrow morning and Eileen tomorrow afternoon, so I’m just going to do Mare all week, although I’ll end up brainstorming with Bob in e-mail while he obsesses on turning points. Tonight I got the Mare plot outlined (HA, like that will last) so that we can compare notes tomorrow. I’ve never collaborated with anybody but Bob before, so this should be interesting.

At least Krissie and Eileen won’t try to write the history of the Gatling Gun. Although there may be paragraphs about shoes. An ENTIRELY different thing.

Mare 5: Characters, Sharing Of, Part 2

At 3:30 AM I finally finish a really bad Agnes scene, but at least it’s finished, and then I read ahead to Bob’s next scene and he’s done the exact same things. And I turn to the e-mail computer to tell him it’s his fault so he knows when he wakes up in the morning, and before I can hit send, I’m getting e-mails from him, which he’s writing thinking I’ll be getting them when I wake up.

So at 4 AM, Bob and I are arguing about what the hell happened that we got our signals crossed (except now I know it’s my fault for not reading ahead first). And we have a phone interview to do at 11 this morning, so we really need to get to bed. But instead, we type at each other. We really need to get lives.

And of course, in the meantime, Mare languishes. And tomorrow I head for NYC where I’m not positive I’ll have an e-mail connection. So possibly this was not the best time to do the 12 Days of Mare.

But at least here are the answers to the Mare questions that I’ll be giving Eileen and Krissie:

Hair:
Dark brown, almost black, with navy streaks in it, the kind you can’t see until you’re up close. Yes, really navy, she added them.

Eyes:
Brown

Height:
5’8″, about 140

Favorite Food:
Pot stickers, trail mix

Favorite Music:
Working on this. Back to you later.

Favorite attire choices:
Vintage stuff. White poufy prom dress with the bottom eighteen inches of the crinoline cut off so people can see through the bottom of the skirt, worn with a black cardigan and black heart-shaped sunglasses with rose-colored lenses, black flats. Plaid school uniform skirt with white tank top that says “Mother’s Tattoos,” knee socks, Keds. Black capri pants with black flats and a Mickey Mouse baseball shirt (the kind that buttons up the front). Levis (regular cut) with white lace camisole and white chenille jacket made from her bedspread from when she was a little girl with a large Cinderella done in chenille that was the center medallion on the bedspread on the jacket back.

What their room looks like (something as a place setter, even, if you
don’t know yet):
Since they move so much, she keeps every room the same. She’s been buying up vintage curtains for years, so she just hangs them from the walls in every room she gets. Most of them are in blues and greens and lavenders, in velvets and silks, and a lot of them are worn and motheaten, but she hangs them in folds so you can’t tell. Her room always looks like an underwater tent. She has a iron day bed with curlycues on the ends, and she has it covered with a bedspread she’s had since she was a child and there was money, a beautiful stripped silk coverlet in gold and blue and lavender. Lots of gold and green and blue and lavender and black velvet, silk, and satin throw pillows she’s found at Goodwill or thrift stores or made from curtains that were too worn to hang. Lots of them. A big cushy purple pillow on the floor in front of the window for Pywackt, so he can sleep in the sun during the day. At night, he sleeps on the daybed with her. The bedside table is more wrought iron, an old outdoor table she sanded the rust off of and painted lavender. Her lamp is pink glass and it has a gray silk shade edged with pink feathers. The rug on the floor is an old oriental, navy faded almost to gray. Holes in places. She pins pictures from magazines, posters, etc to the hangings on the wall, changing them out when she gets tired of them or they’ve completed whatever thought she hung up there to inspire. Her one extravagance is South American nichos of the Virgin of Juquila, little homemade shrines that she buys on eBay. She has six of them, including one big one that wiped out a week’s salary. She calls her Biggie J and adds a flower (silk) to the shrine whenever she wants something really important.

She doesn’t have a bureau, just stacks of old suitcases that look like freeform bureaus that she’s collected over the years. Her favorite is a complete set of sixties pink luggage, but most of it is forties mid-sized suitcases in the yellow-brown color that was popular then. She has one big reading chair that she dragged home from Goodwill and patched over the years with pieces of curtain material so now it has a custom patchwork/crazy quilt look, all in those deep water colors, plus she adds anything else that catches her fancy now: weird buttons along the sides, scraps of lace and doilies. She learned to transfer photos to fabric, and she’s now thinking of how she can put the family photos on the back, like a gallery. And last year she added a big footstool which is in the process of being recovered, too. She has books and notebooks and sketchbooks and CDs scattered all over, but her Mac laptop is always stowed carefully under her bedside table. Her iPod, a Christmas present from Dee and Lizzie three years ago, is always with her. And she lines her shoes up along the baseboards of whatever room she’s in, so she can see them in all their glory, although her shoes are nothing compared to Lizzie’s. Sometimes she goes into Lizzie’s room just to stare at the glory that is Lizzie’s shoes.

Idiosyncracies(besides the obvious)(bite nails? pick nose?):
Bites her upper lip when she’s stressed
When she loses control of her emotions, things move, so she crosses her arms and hugs herself a lot, trying to keep everything in

Method of transport:
Walking. She walks everywhere because she needs to see everything. Mare really is about the journey, not the destination.

Sun Sign:
Scorpio with Virgo rising.

Tarot signifier card:
Queen of Swords

Political party:
Independent

Magazine subscriptions:
Can’t. Too easy to track them down. But she buys The Week every week.

Favorite Book:
The Uninvited by Dorothy McCardle. After that, anything by Terry Pratchett.

Favorite TV Show:
Buffy reruns and Veronica Mars, although she has a real fondness for My Name is Earl.

Favorite Movie Genre:
Romantic Black Comedy. Fave: the fabulous Grosse Point Blank. Also loves A New Leaf. Prizzi’s Honor. Thinks Mr and Mrs Smith was over-hyped.

Favorite Flowers:
Marigolds and Blue Hydrangeas

Expression:
Faboo. Your mileage may differ. Jeez.

Movie star crush: As in, I”ll go see anything with . . .
Cary Grant, John Cusack (although Identity tried her loyalty sorely), Steve Buscemi, Wallace and Gromit, Cate Blanchett.

Pet, Familiar:
Pywackt, a cat who used to be something else until Lizzie sneezed at the zoo one day.

Creative outlet:
Collage. She collages her walls, she collages her chair, she collages her outfits, and now she’s starting to collage old thrift store posters and paintings she’s found. Tries hard not to raid Dee’s art supplies, but sometimes she must.

“In a previous life, I was . . . “:
Morgan Le Fay. Only like, you know, good.

Favorite Muppet:
Kermit, although Animal holds a place dear in her heart.

Favorite Buffy character:
Clem
Okay, no, Spike, of course.

The thing she’d never do:
Lie.

The thing she’s always wanted to do:
Spend money like it was water. Clothes, fabric, books, art supplies, anything she wanted, just buy it, even though she knows she ends up with better stuff when she has to work for it and make it herself.

Childhood toy that’s still in her room:
A stuffed green velvet frog with gold filigree patterns and a gold crown on its head. She kisses it nightly. Hope springs eternal.

Mare 4: Characters, Sharing Of

I worked on Agnes all day today and I’m about to go back to her, but we’re doing something with Mare that’s really different from anything I’ve done before: Eileen wants character charts, lists of things so that we know each other’s characters better. I don’t do character charts when I write alone because I discover that stuff as I write, and I don’t do them with Bob because he doesn’t care (“That’s back story,” he says, “Do not create any more back story, we’ve got too much back story already”), but Eileen and Krissie are female and they want character. Go figure.

So here are some of things Eileen asked for:
Hair
Eyes
Height
Favorite Food
Favorite Music
favorite attire choices
what their room looks like (something as a place setter, even, if you
don’t know yet)
idiosyncracies(besides the obvious)(bite nails? pick nose?)
methods of transport

And then I added:
Sun Sign?
Rising Sign?
Tarot signifier card?
Political party?
Magazine subscriptions?
Favorite Book?
Favorite TV Show?
Favorite Movie Genre?
Expression? (Jeez.)
Movie star crush? As in, I”ll go see anything with . . .
Pet? Familiar?
Creative outlet (Dee’s is painting . . .)
“In a previous life, I was . . . ”
Favorite Muppet?
Favorite Buffy character?
Favorite ice cream? Dessert?
Favorite food? Favorite meal?
The thing she’d never do?
The thing she’s always wanted to do?
Childhood toy that’s still in her room?

I don’t know how much help it’s going to be, but it’ll definitely spark discussions over dinner in New York.

And now, back to Agnes . . .