Monthly Archives: November 2006

The One Time I Couldn’t

There are a lot of things you need to do when you move from one state to another. There are all the obvious things like connect the utilities, forward your mail, give your mom the new phone number. And the not so obvious things. Like registering to vote. Ah, you already know where this is going, don’t you?

Ten years ago, during a presidential election year no less, I was not registered to vote. Oh, I was old enough, and had a clean criminal record and proof of citizenship. But we had just moved. Ok, so we had moved eleven months and three weeks prior to the election, but it seemed like just yesterday. I was working full-time, the kids were little and had to be driven everywhere, and life was hectic. And I didn’t really forget, exactly, I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. The election was still weeks away and I took for granted there was plenty of time. No problem.

Until one day, someone on the radio said they hoped everyone had remembered to register to vote because it was now officially too late.

Too late? And I had not registered. I went that very day, hoping maybe I’d heard wrong and it wasn’t too late. Maybe they’d make an exception. Nope. No mistake, no exceptions. Oh, I registered all right. Just too late.

I spent weeks kicking myself and feeling horrible. Like a criminal. Disenfranchised. I never thought I’d use that word, it sounds so corny, but it is very accurate. Until then, I had voted in every election since the day I turned eighteen. Sometimes my votes were misguided — driven solely by party loyalty or influenced by factors other than the issues — and sometimes they were pitifully uninformed or cynically apathetic. But I had never before failed to exercise my right to vote.

Election day rolled around and it seemed everyone I saw, even complete strangers in the elevator, asked me whether I had voted. Unable to admit my own stupidity and unwilling to lie, I told everyone I usually voted on the way home from work. Which was true. Just not that year.

So, go ahead and ask me today. I will answer: “Hell yes, I voted. Did you?”

Because I remember all too clearly the one time I couldn’t.

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Post Script

POST SCRIPT: This is a separate entry because I’m not sure I can figure out how to add it to the last post without screwing it up.

Ahem. It has been brought to my attention that more than six people, maybe as many as nine, read this blog. Frankly, I am staggered by the concept. Geez. Just because I make a living in the world of finance does not mean I can count heads with any degree of accuracy. Especially when some of you are practically invisible and never deign to comment and the rest of you refuse to hold still so I can get an accurate tally. Not to mention the fact that some of you have more than one head and that just throws everything off kilter. Damn aliens.

So when I said that all SIX of you who read this blog had been pestering me with stupid, albeit charming, questions . . . well, you have to take into account that whole “thirty to fifty percent margin of error” thing you’re always hearing about.

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So, now it’s my turn to ask

This is multiple choice, short essay. Pick a question and answer it. Or, for extra credit,* answer them all. Feel free to write several comments, you won’t break anything. Probably.

1) Think about the last book you didn’t finish reading and, without telling me what it was or who wrote it (hey, it might be one of my friends), tell me what about the book made you put it down.

2) Or, if you’d rather, tell me the same thing about the last movie you couldn’t finish watching.

3) Think about the book you re-read the most often and tell me what emotion it evokes in you — that is, what do you feel as you’re reading, what makes you keep coming back to the same book, time after time. And go ahead and tell me what book it is, this is a good thing.

4) If you had to recommend one book for your mom to read, what would it be? Would it be the same for your dad? Why?

5) Has reading a book ever made you extremely angry? Why? (Again, please don’t identify it; we don’t want hurt feelings here.)

6) What do you feel when you think about a long winter weekend spent downhill skiing? Is there anything you’d rather spend a long winter weekend doing?

7) How many blogs do you read on a daily basis? Why?

8) How many books do you read in an average week? Why?

9) Compare your answers to 7) and 8) above and tell me something significant about that.

10) Make up your own question, something no one has asked you yet but the answer to which you’d really like to share with the rest of us. Extra points for creativity.

There. That ought to keep you all busy for a while so I can get some stuff done. I’ve got company coming later in the week and the house is a mess.

*Extra credit can be used to purchase merchandise on the BCB Merchandise page. You can’t find the link? Really? Keep looking. Take your time.

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Since you asked, and asked, and asked . . .

First of all, knock it off. Do you know how many of you people sent this email questionnaire to me? Too many.

Second, I do not reply to nonsense like this because it often carries germs that can wreak havoc with computers that don’t have the latest anti-virus software.

And third– well hell, if you really want to know, and since the six of you who sent it to me are pretty much the only ones reading this blog. . . but I’m deleting the questions I don’t feel like answering. C’mon, there were more than thirty of them and I’m busy here.

About Me: (this really should be changed to something more accurate)

What time is it: Is this a trick question? Do you not have a watch?

Full name: If you know me well enough to ask all these stupid damn questions, then you’d better know the answer to this one at least.

What are you most afraid of? Success beyond my wildest dreams.

Place of birth: Minneapolis, MN. There was a fire at the hospital the day after I went home, but I had nothing to do with that. Really. Something about faulty wiring on the holiday decorations.

Loved someone so much it made you cry: Of course I have. Geez, I’m a daughter and a sister and an ex-wife and a mom and a friend. Besides, everything makes me cry. Just ask my kids, who claim a bad weather report can make me cry.

Favorite Flower: Purple irises and yellow tea roses, together. Why, are you sending some? How nice. Thank you.

Favorite Drink: Ice water and unsweetened tea, hot or iced.

How many times you failed your driver’s license? Who says I have one? I’ve never failed any test, as far as I can remember.

Before this one, from whom did you get your last e-mail? You mean before ALL SIX of these? I think there was a really long one from Bob Mayer — it was a million-word history of the US Special Forces [from an online class of his I’m taking]. I should be reading that instead of answering all these questions. And there was one from the library, saying some books were due in a couple days — I should be reading those, too.

What do you do most often when you are bored? I’m rarely bored — the voices in my head are quite entertaining.

What time is Bedtime: It varies, but it’s usually way too close to the time I have to wake up again.

Last person you went to dinner with: Why? Did they become suddenly and violently ill?

Ford or Chevy: Among other things, my grandpa had a garage. My dad used to tell a story about how, when Ford first came out with a V-8 engine, it was really difficult for mechanics to work on it without special tools and after that grandpa hated Ford cars. My grandpa could swear fluently in Norwegian. I do a passable imitation. Dad said he’d never buy a Ford, even though he freely admitted it was a stupid reason not to. So, family tradition says Chevy. In two languages.

What are you listening to right now: I believe that sound is crickets.

What are your favorite colors: My daughter says it’s black; a direct quote: “I’ll only go clothes shopping with you if you promise not to buy anything black.” But I also like deep jewel tones.

How many Tattoos do you have: Wouldn’t you rather know what and where they are? Sorry, don’t have any. They expand and turn green.

How many pets do you have? Well, the cat has me, so maybe that doesn’t count. And I sort of have unofficial half-custody of a dog. I no longer have any fish, hamsters, guinea pigs or iguanas.

What would you like to accomplish before you die? To finish living. And to FTDB and see it published. And then another. And travel everywhere and talk to people. Maybe even ask them stupid questions.

What are your favorite movies: I have no idea; I don’t do well with names. Probably the ones that came out before special effects were invented — the ones with sexy banter and witty dialog that makes you think.

Beach or Forest? I’ve already spent way too much time at the beach with kids — and then cleaning up the sandy swimsuits, towels and other sunscreen-glazed, brine-encrusted paraphernalia — but I do enjoy a long walk on an empty beach in the winter months and I love watching the waves and the pelicans. Otherwise, it’s the forest. Or the mountains. And there is nothing quite like the wide open expanse of the plains, where you can see the curve of the earth.

DIRECTIONS: Now, here’s what you’re supposed to do. . . Wait just a minute here. Do you really believe for one minute that I am going to follow directions?

And maybe I have some questions of my own. But this post is already way too long, so look for them in the next one.

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Interruptions

I have noticed a trend lately in my phone conversations: they all get interrupted.

For instance, I’m talking to one of my sisters and she says: “So what are you going to do for — Did you finish that science homework? Well, go do it. Now. — your birthday this year?”

Talking to a fellow writer: “And the agent called me back and was really interested and asked — You should have been in bed ten minutes ago! Turn off that light! — to see a full.”

Talking to my mom: “And I just finished reading a really interesting book that I think you’d — oh, can you hold on? I’ve got another call — click.

Talking to my daughter as she walks across campus: “And yeah, so I was up till like one o’clock studying and I’m so freaking — Hi, Trey — hang on, mom — did you [hand covers phone] mrpffl, brmph, skrfpl, ok, I’ll see you then — mom? I’m back and God, I have so much homework and I’m so freaking tired.”

It’s not that I consider this behavior to be rude, because I don’t. Not really. It’s just life. And the funny thing is, not long ago it was my life. I used to create those same interruptions all the time.

Not long ago, picking up the phone and dialing a number, especially a long distance number, was guaranteed to set off some primal urge in my children to engage in activity that required my immediate intervention. Or it would activate some secret call waiting code and cause every person I know to call me at the same time.

Not these days. These days, if another call comes in while I’m on the phone I ignore it, knowing full well it’s a computer trying to sell me a satellite dish or a recording of a politician’s wife telling me to vote. And I don’t believe the cat has ever engaged in activity requiring my immediate intervention.

What no one seems to realize, though, is that their call has interrupted ME. And my writing. But if I tried to explain, they’d think: Yeah, yeah, big deal, it’s just words — you can get back to it later, right?

Right. After all, it’s not like lives hang in the balance.

And, really, what would my mom think if I suddenly stopped her mid-sentence and said: “Hang on, my heroine is trying to decide why, if she trusts this guy not to kill her, she can’t trust him enough to let him seduce her?”

Or if I said to my daughter: “One minute, my hero is trying to decide whether it might make his life easier to just kill her now rather than keep trying to get her to tell him the truth.”

And I’m sure my neighbor would understand if I said: “Let me call you right back about that geranium sale because, over in the back yard, the bad guy has just lit the match that will start the four-alarm fire that will have my hero and heroine putting aside their differences and fighting for their survival when they realize the house is on fire and they have to move the dead body before all the evidence goes up in flames. And I’m trying to remember whether I wrote the scene where the heroine took all those incriminating documents and hid them in a safe place, which is NOT in the house, or whether I just imagined that part.”

But no, I don’t do that. Has anyone ever heard me say: “Hold on while I finish writing this kiss.” Or “Just a minute, I think I’ve figured out an important motivation here, give me a second to get it on paper.”

No, you have not. But maybe that’s all about to change.

Just giving advance notice. From now on, you call me, you run the risk of being interrupted.

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