Month: June 2013

And the Shnozberries Taste Like Shnozberries

Oh, that Mrs Fringe is so immature!

And excited by dumb things.  Like the fact that everything is continuing to grow in my little shop of horrors terrace garden.

The lavender is far from flowering, but if you touch the plants, your fingers smell like lavender.  If you put your face to the container overcrowded with chamomile plants/flowers, it smells like chamomile!

Dumb, but a gen-you-ine small thrill to this old city gal.

Random photos for my Fringelings while I’m cooking the week’s doggie gumbo.

Writing ‘Roids

Tractor-trailer crash on I-95

Tractor-trailer crash on I-95 (Photo credit: VaDOT)

Here’s the thing about writing, or being a fiction writer; with a very few well publicized exceptions, it’s a long, potholed, overcrowded road.  Most of those overnight sensations don’t really make it to the bestseller lists overnight, it just seems that way to those standing in the bookstore deciding what to buy.


A lot of people think they want to be writers, but they don’t write.  Or they don’t stick with it long enough to do the learning necessary to turn their work into something resembling a manuscript.  Some give up after one or two manuscripts that don’t sell, or x number of rejections, or x amount of time.  A lot of others do, and with work, perseverance, and luck they get published.  And then there are the long haulers.


People like me, who haven’t “hit” for whatever reason, but have gotten just enough encouragement and positive feedback on their work to keep going.  I don’t mean “my spouse likes it,” “my mom likes it,” “my third grade teacher told me I should be a writer,” or form rejections they’ve read and projected meaning into.  But people who supposedly have knowledge and experience of writing and the publishing world have read their work and said “keep trying, you’ve got something.”  And we do.


A long fucking haul.  If you’re a long haul trucker, you know you’re going to be tired, might get caught in traffic jams that leave your bladder spasming, and screw up your schedule.  But eventually, you’re going to reach your destination.  And then you’ll load up and do it again.

English: 1918 advertisement for Jubolitoires (...

English: 1918 advertisement for Jubolitoires (hemorrhoids) Français : Publicité pour les Jubolitoires, suppositoires anti-hémorroïdaires (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hemorrhoids will just be part of the job, and you’ll learn to sleep when you can in the cab of the truck, drink battery acid masquerading as coffee, and make sure you’re always stocked up on Preparation H.


But writing isn’t long haul trucking, the analogy leaves more than a little gap.  There’s no certain paycheck, no benefits, and no one pats you on the back in respect for honest and honorable work.  Plenty of hemorrhoids, though.  Swollen, throbbing, painful pustules that make you wince when you open that Word document. They come in the guise of writer’s block, rejection letters,  plot holes, awkward expressions on the face of your significant other, and plain old moments of why-the-fuck-am-I-doing-this.  Is it dishonorable to keep writing after x amount of time, or x amount of rejections?  Is it dishonest?  I’m not talking about people who say they write for themselves (God love you, but I’d rather earn my piles having another baby–and trust me, the last thing I want is any more babies), but those who continue to pursue publication.


If you’re another long hauler, please chime in here in the comments section, and let me know what your thoughts are.  What’s the donut pillow that gets your butt behind the wheel, again and again?



For the Love of Flip Flops

The last day of school for the year, hooray!!!!!!


Chalk (Photo credit: quinn.anya)

If I hadn’t remembered this (ha!) I would know by the fact that Flower Child woke up and got out of bed on her own this morning.

Summer to me means extra time with my kiddos, stepping off of the rush rush rush, beach bliss, and all the deliciousness of summer fruits.

Dark cherries, white cherries, fuzzy peaches, ripe mangoes, nectarines, watermelon!  And papaya.  Dear Husband, I don’t like papaya.  I don’t care how ripe it is or isn’t, what how nicely you cut it, how perfect your batida came out.  Papaya tastes like farts.  Sorry.

The feel of the sun on my skin.   The scent of cocoa butter.  (Hey, I have dry skin, ok?) Flower Child’s glee on the beach, wind blowing, waves breaking, entrepreneurs with carts and Hefty bags plodding through the sand with an ocean wet towel draped over their head, “Cold Water HE-ah! ColdWater, ColdSoda, Cold Beeeer!  If you don’t drink beer, you’re gonna die!”

thinking about next week

thinking about next week (Photo credit: Makz)

Ok, there’s only one guy who says the last one, but it leaves a lasting impression, and you look for him if you haven’t packed enough drinks to last for the afternoon.  Also true, I can’t remember the last time I drank a beer on the beach, probably before I had children.  But still, it’s part of what comes to mind when I think summer beach day.

The city does tend to smell a whole lot worse in the heat.  The temperature bakes into the concrete, mixes with old dog piss and rises up in waves that try to suck you down like a rip tide.  Most buildings try to minimize this by hosing down the sidewalks at least once a day.  If it weren’t for the filth factor, you could probably bake a brick oven pizza directly on the subway platform by the time we get to August.  And while most of me loves the heat, in the past few years my nerves–literally–don’t.  If I’m out walking when it’s hot I get this weird painful zinging buzzing down my arms and spine.

The best part of summer in the city is my neighborhood.  Quiet.  Half of it empties out, people take off for their country houses/beach houses.  Sometimes my suburban friends will even come to visit me, there are parking spots to be found.  Certainly quieter than my bedroom at this time of year.  Our air conditioner doesn’t work well, and it isn’t properly set into the sleeve, so it sounds and feels like I’m trying to sleep on an airport tarmac.

Have to bring the girl to school.  We should be on time, the day is only two and a half hours long for this last one.  What does  summer mean to you?

Cooling off nyc style

Cooling off nyc style (Photo credit: *Bitch Cakes*)

Mrs Fringe Wants a Do-Over

Against the rules.  Cheating.  Rupture in the time-space continuum.  But isn’t that the true definition of being a grown up, when you comprehend you don’t get any do-overs?

Fine, how about some duck tape?

Fix everything

Fix everything (Photo credit: Anders Illum)

Duck tape for a cracked life.  Because you can’t really undo what’s been done or start over.  But there are people out there who seem as if they can fix just about anything, create just about anything, with a roll or ten of tape.

Others get stuck staring at the crack.  First they pretend it isn’t there, then they can’t look away.  They touch it, push on it a bit, whip out the tape measure and chart its progress, and finally, run their tongues over it and curse the fact that their tongue is bleeding.  How about a little duck tape for use as a bandaid?

English: This is a tongue

English: This is a tongue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last year, I got tired of swallowing iron.  Unfortunately, I hate the feel of sticky fingers.  Seriously, even the thought of syrup on pancakes makes me shudder, because I hate the stick factor.  Which leads me to think about my unnatural and unhealthy love of butter.  It’s smooth, it’s comforting, it’s easy. But I’ve gained ten pounds this year, and it hasn’t fixed a damned thing.

My knee jerk avoidance reaction is to say I need spiritual duck tape.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  Appropriately obscure, everyone can project whatever they’d like into it.  I think Mrs Fringe has been this for me–and God knows I project whatever I want onto these pages.  Soon enough I’ll be hitting my one year blogoversary.  It’s been great, and I hope it will continue to be a cyberaddress of fun and navel gazing for a long time to come.  Not enough though.

I think women, in particular mothers-of-a-certain-age, tend to stop right here.  It’s ok, dear, a little spiritual crazy glue is all I want.  And if it isn’t all I want that’s ok, it’s all I need. See?  My fingers don’t move, my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth, and my lips are sealed shut.

It’s time to figure out how to use the damned duck tape for more than adhering myself to the same old shit.




Officially, but not exactly.  Happy belated Solstice!  A few more days, and the school year is over.  Today is a lazy day, and you get a lazy post to match.  I’m ready for summer, and so is Flower Child.

Speaking of flowers, remember those seeds we planted?  First blooms!



Morning glories taking over--but no buds yet.  The vines are now taller than I am.

Morning glories taking over–but no buds yet. The vines are now taller than I am.

Alyssum, with bunny tails behind (no blooms for the bunny tails yet)

Alyssum, with bunny tails behind (no blooms for the bunny tails yet)

Apparently my farming skills are on par with my photography skills; sometimes I’ll hit, mostly I won’t.  Still, I’m dreaming of a garden.  Flowers and veggies and fruit trees, oh my!

We haven’t gone on vacation in a long time, no plans to vacation this summer either, but we are planning on some day trips.  We talk about doing this every year, and then budget, timing, illness, all kinds of not fun things get in the way.  And the beach.  The call of the beach is normally louder than anything else for me.  But this year I believe we will venture out a bit.  Of course there will be beach days, but there’s something new, some part of me that wants to check out greenery outside of the confines of the New York Botanical Gardens.

Sending good thoughts and peace to my cyber friends dealing with these horrible floods in Canada.  Be safe!



Venecian Masks

Venecian Masks (Photo credit: ChaTo (Carlos Castillo))

This morning I made Flower Child scrambled eggs for breakfast.  She thought it was her lucky day.  Nope, I didn’t get to the grocery store yesterday morning, and that’s all I’ve got.  The last two slices of bread are for her lunch.  I would have made a smoothie, but there’s brown crap running from the faucet this morning, and the blender is still sitting in the sink waiting to be washed from Nerd Child’s smoothie yesterday morning.  This also means I didn’t want to make another bowl dirty by beating the eggs first.  What the hell, mixing them in the pan with the spatula is the same thing, right?

Fake it ’til you make it.  Kinda sorta.

My motto is probably more along the lines of  fake it ’til it’s bedtime.  Out of standard, practical for a school day breakfast fare?  Scrambled eggs.  Haven’t done laundry?  Wear dress clothes.  “Oh, Mrs Fringe, look at you!  Doing something fun/special/important today?”  Why yes, yes I am.  Pretending I haven’t worn every last t-shirt I own.  Except for that Dallas Cowboys one circa 1981 with very inappropriate holes worn through it, that for some reason I never toss when getting rid of old clothes.

Feel like crap?  Makeup.  Double crap, can’t remember where I last put my makeup bag.

Gained some weight over the winter and too lazy to work out?  God bless the designer who decided empire waists should come back into style (five years ago is too still in), along with seamstresses of flowing skirts and A-lines.


Housewife (Photo credit: garryknight)

Doubting that you’ve pulled off or can pull off a fun, light beach read type novel, cause let’s face it, you aren’t all that fun and lighthearted?  Keep going, start the next one, only have this one be dark, not fun, and not likely to be spotted on the boardwalk.  Wait, this doesn’t quite fit with the equation, does it?  Hmm, well, at least I’ll have a writah-ly-type excuse when this one doesn’t sell.  Angst isn’t for everyone, after all.

Given that I’m so fucking excellent at faking it, I can’t imagine why I haven’t yet made it.

Suckage and Despair, Chapter 438

English: Danebridge Church Choir singing al fresco

English: Danebridge Church Choir singing al fresco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sing along, now.

There are glorious highs and lows to writing.  The highs come from when you know you’re clicking, a sentence is exactly what you want it to be, you’re in a great rhythm, being productive, you look at a completed piece and think, “yes,” this is worthy of submission.  The lows, of course, are when you’re struggling, unsure of clarity, convinced that the work you’ve dedicated hours, weeks, months, years to is absolute crap.  Lows also come in the form of letters/emails where the salutation states, “Dear Author,” and continues on to blah blah blah too much boring suckage, move along.

There are a few areas of writing where I’m fairly confident, and ride those highs.  Logically, it makes no sense, I shouldn’t have any highs or confidence without validation.  But they’re necessary in order to pursue this insane, frustrating road.  Some days I wish doing laundry could give me that high.  Today is one of those days.

I have an idea, and I want to roll with it.


Pencils (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve begun the new WIP.  Here’s my high/low paradox.  One of the areas I’m normally confident in is openings.  I’m pretty good at hitting that “right” first sentence or three, just enough for a reader to want to know where the fuck I’m going with this.  I’ve got, for now, the right opening scene, but my opening sentences aren’t strong enough.  Even for manuscripts that rely heavily on atmosphere and characterization, you’ve got to hit the ground running.  Maybe especially so.  Being a lunatic, this naturally leads me to wonder if it’s time to give away my favorite pencils and have a party with the delete button in my documents section.

It doesn’t matter if I’m going to change the beginning later, delete it, shift it, whatever, I’ve got to hit the right note starting out.  For me.  It’s my crazy process.

It’s Sunday, and I don’t generally write on Sundays.  They’re my day for general wallowing.  I didn’t write yesterday because of computer issues, so I want to be productive today.  Big Senile Dog and Little Incredibly Dumb Dog are looking at me, wondering why it’s 11am and I haven’t fed them yet.  If I go into the kitchen to feed them, I’ll be faced with the sink overflowing with pans and dishes from last night’s dinner.  So I’ll have to wash them.  Once they’re washed, I’ll see how messy the counters are in general.  So then I’ll have to clean the counters.  Clean counters will remind me of the layer of dust in the living room.  I’ll dust, and then realize I should wash/polish the doo dads lining the windowsills.  Then I’ll remember the laundry pile, be too tired to sort and bring the laundry downstairs to get involved in laundry wars when I still have to make dinner, and remember I was supposed to be writing.  Then I’ll remember why I didn’t write, because what should be a high for me is currently a low.  Proof of suckage.

Is it bedtime?

Under the covers

Under the covers (Photo credit: Being a Dilettante)

And Happy Father’s Day to all!

Alert the Authorities

Professor Kobb

Professor Kobb (Photo credit: gothicburg)

Something I’ve noticed in a lot of areas of life these days–highlighted in the blogosphere, everyone’s an authority.  Why?  How is this?  I’m an average gal and as such, I’m an authority on…

Nothing.  That’s right, nothing.  Tons of blogs and bloggers out in cyberspace, the number larger than degreed professionals, and yet, so many are “experts.”

I write, and sometimes I blog about writing.  These posts are about my process, my experiences.  Certain aspects of my process and my experiences have a common thread with some other wanna be writers.  This doesn’t make me an expert.  And if it did, what would my expertise be in?  Wanna beism?  If I am ever published, it will still be my experiences, not writer’s rules to live by.

Sandro Botticelli - Madonna del Magnificat

Sandro Botticelli – Madonna del Magnificat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even within the blogs of professionals on writing, the advice and rules vary widely from blog to blog, professional to professional.  Subjective. Don’t get me wrong, I love books on writing, I own dozens, and have read dozens more, by published authors, well published authors, agents, and editors.  Some are useful, some are motivating, and many more I’ve kept looking back to the “about the author” page to figure out how and why this book was published.  But it was, I bought it, others bought it.  So there you have it, proof of my lack of authority on writing.

Sometimes I blog about parenting.  Again, my experiences. How in the world would I tell anyone else what would work in their home, for their children?  I have three kids, each quite different from the next.  If I have to tweak my approach for each of my own three, I think we’re well out of the realm of tweaking if I’m talking about someone else’s kids.  Subjective.

Sometimes I blog about being a woman.  Again, there are certain common experiences in being a woman that most of us experience.  I can only speak to being an undereducated woman in New York.  But there are more and different experiences for a woman who doesn’t have children, doesn’t get married, lives in the suburbs, lives on a farm in Kansas, has a PHD in electrical engineering, lives in Kuwait.  Tons of “women’s” experts out there.  Such high authorities, in fact, they’re going to tell all of us what to do with our bodies, how to have a relationship, and how much money we should earn.  *This is definitely fodder for a whole other post.  Maybe an article.  Maybe a book.  Oh wait, I don’t have a platform apart from being a woman and living as one.  See?  No authority here.

Uterus Embroidery Hoop Art

Uterus Embroidery Hoop Art (Photo credit: Hey Paul Studios)

I blog about living in New York.  I was born and raised here.  I can guarantee the woman living up the street in her brownstone doesn’t think I’m an expert on life in New York.  Trust me, her New York is different than mine.  I know, it’s hard to trust someone who isn’t an authority, but try.

Sometimes I blog about reefing.  If you saw the sad state of my tank at the moment (running dark for a few days to kill a green hair algae outbreak) you’d snicker.

How about another favorite of mine, being broke?  Let’s be honest, I’m pretty excellent at it.  I have had the requisite hundred thousand hours of practice.  Or have I?  The guy who lives on the church steps might not think so.  I’m guessing if he read Mrs Fringe he’d call me out for being a fraud.

I think this leaves dog poop.  Mrs Fringe is an authority on dog poop.

Then again, maybe not.

It’s subjective.

Dale Chihuli giant blue poop Walmart bag sculpture

Dale Chihuli giant blue poop Walmart bag sculpture (Photo credit: reynolds.james.e)

Hey You!

It’s I! Or is it she?

The Three Faces of Eve

The Three Faces of Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned last week, I’m now obsessing over planning my next manuscript.  Today’s obsession, what point of view (POV), tense, etc.  These choices will have great impact on the overall tone and voice of the narrator and by extension, the novel.

First person (I) is and has been very popular for quite a few years now.  Generally speaking, I prefer third (she).  I like the distance that third person offers, with the flexibility to draw in close. First person, in my opinion, too often feels breathless.  It’s the acquaintance you run into on your way home who you smile when you recognize them, “Oh, how nice, I can’t remember why I lost touch with Mr Z.”

talk so fast

talk so fast (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

Five minutes into it, “I’m glad to hear how he is, what’s going on in his life.”   Ten minutes into it, “This has been lovely, but I really have to pee.”  Twenty brain-numbing, eyes-twitching minutes later, “This is why I stopped returning his calls.  For the love of God, make it stop!”

Second person is brilliant when it’s done well, but very few know how to do it well, and I have my doubts about my own ability. The whole goal in fiction is the suspension of disbelief.  Pulling that off while directly addressing the reader?  Might well be beyond my pay grade.

Wondering why I’m having this angst if these are my thoughts on POV?  Me too.  Except I have a certain way of writing, getting started.  There’s always a very clear opening scene in my head, and I write it.  This scene may or may not remain the opening, may or may not end up deleted, but it’s what gets my fingers clicking on the keyboard.  Or pencil to paper, if it’s been too long since I’ve last written. The problem is the opening scene I’m “seeing” for this story is in first person.  Fine if this was a short story, but I don’t know that I want to write an entire novel with that “I” voice.

And just because I know you’re all dying to know about the rest of this Fringey writing process, I usually have a song that is going through my head as I’m planning a new story.  Here’s this one:

Hear that bass track?  That’s the framework I’m seeing, the pacing.  A little dark, a little ominous, but it keeps moving forward with that rhythm.

1001 Questions of Mamaing

Happy Saturday, Fringelings!

It’s been an exhausting week for me, lots of ups and downs, how about you?  Two highlights.  One, Nerd Child is home for the summer, hooray!  It was a seventeen hour day yesterday, much of it spent driving in torrential rains that seemed to call for an ark, but he’s home.

What’s the other highlight?  SnapinTime, from The Voice from the Backseat very generously donated her limited time to watermarking some of my photos of Flower Child’s artwork, so I could share it here.  Thank you, Snapin!

I love looking at art, and so does Flower Child.  We’ve spent quite a bit of time in museums together.  My sweetie has a real talent.  It’s newly discovered, or perhaps it would be better stated to say newly unlocked.  I can’t say why, for sure, but it emerged after receiving an iPad to use for schoolwork.  Is it the preservation of energy (a precious and finite resource)?  Excessive fatigue is one of the most, if not the most, debilitating features of her struggles.  I don’t know, but as a mama who watches her struggle with so much–yet she always holds on to the positive–and as a person who is hard pressed to draw a stick figure, this work makes me weep, literally.

Flower Child is indeed, special.  Her thoughts take twists and turns that can be difficult to follow, and clarity is connected to how she’s feeling physically.  The drawing of the dog and bird looks like it was done by a different person, no?  This was a work she produced last weekend, when she was unwell and “crashing,” as we call it, for lack of a better word.  Not completely crashed, because then she’s hard pressed to hold a pencil.  After several hours of rest, sleep, and her evening meds, she produced “woman with dreds.”

I’m hoping to figure out a way to get her art lessons this summer.  We need someone who will be flexible and ok with these inconsistencies, and sympathetic to the &*$#% budget.