Thursday, June 30, 2005

Go me! Stop, sky!

FINALLY my revisions are finished, my new synopsis is in good shape, and I'm ready to take the whole thing to the post office. Or UPS. Or FedEx, given the difficulty Crash Test had arriving in Florida with the post office and UPS (complete messy story here and here). That is, I'm off if it will STOP. RAINING!!!

Today's Orlando Sentinel says that this is the second-rainiest June ever in our corner of the "Sunshine State." Normal rainfall between 7-8 inches for the month. This year, we're at 17 inches+ and rising. And yep, it's raining already this morning. Too bad, because


Hard to believe my youngest is six. She was patting my tummy last night and saying something about a new baby. Had to laugh at that one. DH has been to the vet. ;-)

Off to do some voodoo or something. Baby girl deserves some sunshine on her big day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gadflies 'R' Us

I've done it now.

I got fed up and spouted off to our local paper about the state of affairs at my high school, and they printed the column. Now that I'm out on my limb--I took a shot at our high school's community members, who are passionately interested in athletics and extracurriculars, but not so much so about academics--I'm waiting for the saws to come out.

To my surprise, so far the response has been very positive. I'm sure I've pissed someone off (I have a talent for doing that), but if I can knock some of the complacent out of their La-Z-Boys and get them to wake the hell up and pay attention to what their kids are doing at school, then it'll be worth it.

Let's just hope that limb I'm on is nice and thick.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Suzy Homemaker

One thing about summer for teachers--our normal routine gets completely shelled. When we're not in school, my sleep cycle goes haywire, I wander aimlessly through my messy house (Clean up? Please!), I waste way too much time checking email. Extroverts trapped at home with small children are not a pretty sight. There's no way I could be a stay-at-home mom. I'd be on the six o'clock news for sure. Our neighbor across the street stays at home with her three kids, all under the age of five. I admire the hell out of her--I couldn't do what she does.

Frankly, I think I'm a better mom when I'm working. I may have more time to do housecleaning during the summer, but I'm more patient and more fun with my kids when school's in session. Strange, huh? Takes all kinds.

Now that I've sufficiently guilted myself into doing something, I guess I'd better fold laundry before the pile of clean clothes blocks out the sun.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

Today's picks are innovators, pure and simple.


Normally, the rock 'n roll look doesn't do much for me (although I'd make an exception for Jon Bon Jovi--but that's a pick for another day). In Dave Grohl's case, though, I'm happy to throw that pickiness out the window. This man is brilliant. I never cared for Nirvana, but I own all of the Foo Fighters' CDs. Dave can do it all--and on the first Foo CD, he did; he played drums, guitar, bass, and sang all the vocals. After that CD sold a healthy number of copies, he found a band to support it. I've been wearing out my new copy of In Your Honor in the car, on the computer, on DH's iPod... Plus, he's hot. Beard, clean-shaven, soul patch, don't care. I'll take him.


Steve Jobs tilts against windmills. How would you like to wake up every morning and go mano a mano against the Evil Empire? Steve, though, loves a challenge. Apple Computer may be small, but it is mighty. Best design in the business? Check. Strongest operating system? Check. Cool factor? Check and double check. Hell, if you can get U2 to certify a special edition iPod, you've got it (whatever it is). When I sell a book, I am going to make Steve Jobs' stock price go up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


First day of summer arrived yesterday, and as per normal, someone in my house is sick. This time, DD succumbs. She has a fever, which we attribute to too much time in the pool and too little water to drink. Last night, she starts complaining that her throat hurts, and this morning, the barfing ensues.


It's fascinating that things that revolt you personally (I'd almost rather break a limb than throw up) have very little effect when your kid's the one suffering through it. She's throwing up and crying, and I'm doing the best calm, non-freakout mom routine I can muster. Two sessions of throw up, clean up, take a cool bath later, she's on the sofa watching SpongeBob and eating applesauce. Let's hope she can keep it down.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It's a Synopsis!

Finally! I've beaten the synopsis for my next book into shape. Thanks to some quick input from one of my fellow PowerPuffs, I now have a synopsis that doesn't make me cringe. I like the story, but you know how synopses are. Difficult. Mine usually come out looking like narrative barbells--detailed opening, detailed closing, and a lot of um--er--something happens in the middle.

This one's a bit of a progression for me. Sophie, the heroine of Crash Test, is late twenties and single with issues. Claire, my new heroine, is late thirties, single mom with issues. Here's a taste:

No one told me I’d end up a statistic. CLAIRE HOLLOWAY, divorced single mom, rotting away in a cubicle so I can pay for what child support doesn’t. It’s not bad, but it’s not what I signed up for. I sure as hell didn’t buy my own ticket on the Single–With–a–Sidecar Express. Nope, my charming ex–husband, BRAD, handed me my boarding pass a year ago, exactly a month after he met the nurse who’s now his current wife.

Mid–thirties are supposed to be my sexual peak. Right now, my peak looks more like a sand dune—a sand dune that’s looking none–too–good after a recent hurricane. That’s not hard to imagine when you realize the main men in my life are the husband who left me, my never–met–a– buzzword–he–didn’t–like boss, and my seven–year–old son, JORDAN. Jordan’s a great kid, but let’s just say that chicken nuggets from the drive–thru are no substitute for penne alla vodka with a handsome man.

I need to get out more.

I need a life.

I need to revive the interesting, lively woman who’s trapped inside that burnt–out, hollow–eyed mommy I stare at in the mirror every morning before I lose her altogether. But I have no idea how, and I’m not even sure who she is anymore.

So, what do you think?

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

Today, we travel to Merry Olde (what is it with that extra "e" anyway?) England four our picks of the week:


I know of no woman in the romance writing universe who doesn't get all fluttery during the Mr. Darcy-gets-out-of-the-bathtub scene in the A&E Pride and Prejudice. Not a few of us have been caught trying to see around that blasted bathrobe, but I digress. Hey, there's a reason Bridget Jones herself has a Mr. Darcy fixation, and that's Colin Firth. Second only to the bathtub (first in the hearts of the true romantics) is the mangled-Portuguese marriage proposal in Love Actually. We're not just infatuated with Colin. It's love, actually.


Anybody who willingly goes by the moniker "The Naked Chef" wins cool points in my book. Even cooler, though--aside from his obvious love for his wife and family--is his attitude toward cooking (more fun! less pretension!) and his willingness to address (ahem) meatier issues. His show Jamie's Kitchen helps young Londoners who might not have considered a culinary career--hell, who might not have considered any career--and train them as chefs. Better still is his new passion, shaming the British school food establishment. He's taking them to task on bland and downright nasty school food in Channel 4's Jamie's School Dinners. Read why at his website Feed Me Better. Hey Jamie--I have a largish urban school system in Central Florida that could seriously use your input...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Get to Know Your Friends

I admit it--I'm a sucker for stupid internet quiz email thingies (yes, I have an advanced vocabulary). Here's the latest one to land in my inbox. Thought you might like a peek into the "real" mimi! Feel free to add your answers in the comments section.

1. What time is it? 10:26 am
2. Name as it appears on birth certificate: Mary Louise Gaston
3. Nickname: ML, Mimi, Mama
4. Missing: the housekeeping gene
5. Eye color: blue-grey
6 Place of birth: Ft. Campbell, KY
7. Favorite foods: pasta, Mexican, chocolate, unsweet iced tea
8. Ever been to Africa? not yet
9. Ever been toilet papering? Nope--too geeky in HS to participate
10. Love someone so much it made you cry? Still do
11. Been in a car accident? Yep.
12. Croutons or bacon bits: Yep.
13. Favorite day of the week: Tuesday
14. Favorite restaurant: Enzo's
15. Favorite flower: tulips
16. Favorite sport to watch: baseball
17. Favorite drink: bourbon and seven or a whiskey sour
18. Favorite ice cream: Ben & Jerry's Phish Food
19. Disney or Warner Bros.: Warner Bros!! Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc are my heroes ;-)
20. Favorite fast food restaurant: Panera
21. What color is your bedroom carpet? wood (we ripped the carpet out after the hurricane)
22. How many times did you fail your driver's test? zero--and I took mine in a stick shift VW Rabbit!
23. Before this one, from whom did you get your last e-mail? Jenny, my college roomie
24. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Chico's or Pottery Barn
25. What you do most often when you are bored? nibble, check email, read
26. Bed time: I turn into a pumpkin by 10
27. Who will respond to this e-mail the quickest? Kathy already did!
28. Who is the person you sent this to that is least likely to respond? Possibly Mitchell, depending on how social he feels today
29. Favorite TV shows: CSI
30. Last person you went out to dinner with: my whole family
31. What are you listening to right now? cartoons in the background, Seal in the car
32. What is your favorite color? purple
33. Lake, river or ocean? river
34. How many tattoos do you have? None. I don't pay people to cause me pain.
35. Have you ever run out of gas? Twice.
36. Time you finished this e-mail: 10:31 am

Monday, June 13, 2005

Finally! Revisions!

I was beginning to think my revisions were coming by Pony Express. After the "dangerous fiction" episode with the Department of Homeland Security, I figured the trip down by relatively benign UPS would be, well benign.

Wrong again, Fluffy.

I get a call from a dispatcher on Friday evening saying that the delivery person had been all up and down my street and found the 1200 block, but not my house at 1131. Couldn't find the 1100 block. Gee, brain trust, there IS no 1100 block--my house, for some unexplained reason, has an 1100 series number. That's what I get for buying the model home. Even if the model home was built in 1970. But I digress.

So I give the dispatcher detailed directions to my house. No package over the weekend. Do you know how anxious you can get waiting for revisions from the agent? Anxious. Monday ticks by, and by the time 6 pm comes and goes, I'm annoyed. I call UPS. The package is on the truck and should be delivered before 7. Right about that time, I can see the truck behind my house, in the cul de sac. The phone rings--it's the driver trying to find my house. I try everything short of semaphore code to convince him that he's found the house--I can SEE THE TRUCK, for heaven's sake--and finally get him steered around front, where he hands off the package like it's a brick.

I restrain myself from dancing into the house. Even better, once I finally pry all the packing tape off, the cover letter is complimentary. Turns out I have less to revise than she thought, and maybe we can get this out quickly. You betcha. I'm hoping to be one of those fabulous "sold at conference" stories. Hey, a gal can dream--and after the horrible karma this poor manuscript has had so far, it's the least the universe can do.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

DH and I are in love with the movie Down With Love. It's a love letter to those 60s sex comedies that are all twinkle (heroine) and charm (hero), wrapped up in a bow of good humor and nudge-nudge double entendres. You know, good dialogue and clever writing. Our kind of thing. Anyhoo, I'd be down with these two gentlemen in a heartbeat:


Men in kilts are some of the most delicious specimens on the earth. Scotsmen rock! My current favorite Scot is Ewan McGregor. I mean, who else could go from playing a heroin addict in Trainspotting (not a good look for him at all, but I digress), lovestruck Christian in Moulin Rouge, an American Army officer in Black Hawk Down, and the fanciful younger self of Albert Finney in Big Fish (another family favorite). Plus, he's got the goods to be Obi-Wan Kenobi. The force is with him, that's for sure! Anytime, Ewan; anytime. I don't care what you wear under the kilt.


Normally I have no patience for neurotics, but I'd be happy to make an exception for David Hyde Pierce, the brilliant creator of Dr. Niles Crane. David Hyde Pierce makes neurosis lovable. Plus, how can you resist a man who's willing to play "Brave Sir Robin" in Spamalot, the Broadway musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, one of the top ten classic movies of all time? "Urbane" and "witty" don't sound too pompous when you're applying them to someone like David Hyde Pierce. I could go for urbane. That, and some really brilliant fettuccine carbonara.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Kick 'em When They're Up, Kick 'em When They're Down

Florida school grades came out yesterday. To no one's surprise, the richest high school in our district got yet another A, while my inner city school got an F. Again. Much kvetching ensued. TV trucks parked all over, reporters clamoring for a quote. We hid out back. We're sick to death of media. With all due respect to the people I know and love who work for newspapers, etc., media shills suck. I hate local TV reporters. Vapid, sound bite-obsessed vultures. All lip gloss, no brain, if you get my drift. Spare me the doom and gloom. Don Henley pegged them twenty years ago, and he's still damned right:

I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something, something I can use
People love it when you lose, they love dirty laundry

Well, I could've been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear, give us dirty laundry

Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em all around

We got the bubbleheaded bleach-blonde, comes on at 5
She can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
It's interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation? Is the head dead yet?
You know the boys in the newsroom got a running bet
Get the widow on the set, we need dirty laundry

You don't really need to find out what's going on
You don't really want to know just how far it's gone
Just leave well enough alone, keep your dirty laundry

Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're stiff, kick 'em all around

Dirty little secrets, dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
Love to cut you down to size, we love dirty laundry

We can do the innuendo, we can dance and sing
When it's said and done, we haven't told you a thing
We all know that crap is king, give us dirty laundry


We worked hard. We did a good--hell, a great--job with the hardest kids in the county to teach. Vaunted A school did only one percentage point better with the lowest students they have than we did with the lowest students we have, and they're a hell of a lot lower than Vaunted A school's. I double-dog dare them to trade places with me for a week. I doubt many of them would make it to Friday.

Okay, I'm over it. Back to something far more productive, like stuffing my face with chocolate.

Monday, June 06, 2005


I've been waiting by the mailbox for a week now, hoping that today will *finally* be the day my revisions arrive from Dream Agent, but noooooooooooooo........

Then tonight, long after New York has gone home for the day, DH informs me, "Oh, Paige Wheeler called this morning right after I got off the phone with you." Keep in mind that I answered at least five calls from my home number today, and he mentioned this not at all during any of those calls. I considered killing him on the spot, but once he relayed Paige's message, I was so busy laughing he earned himself a stay of execution.

Paige dropped my manuscript in the US Mail last week, and today, it ended up back in her office looking, as she said, "like an elephant had stomped on it." The Department of Homeland Security, in all its misguided wisdom, took one look at the manila envelope containing The Crash Test Dummy of Love and thought to itself, explosive device.


As I said, I'd be pissed if this weren't so funny.

This must be my year. I've been sailing through airports with nary a squeak (I rarely fly), but this past year, they hand me a ticket with the dread "S" all over it and I get searched for the first time ever. I opened my suitcase after my trip to RWA National--it was heavy thanks to all the free books--to discover one of those "we searched your suitcase" tags from the aforementioned D of HS. What is it they say? It's not paranoia if they're after you.

Branding must arise from this. I'm thinking, "An EXPLOSIVE read!" or "Mimi's books are DANGEROUS fiction!

HAAAAAAAAAhahahahahahaha. Back to waiting. Probably for UPS this time.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

It is MONSOON season in Central Florida. Seriously. We tend to have wet weather quite often--every day at 4:00 pm during the summer--but the past week has been ridiculous. Suddenly, we're Seattle. We're talking rain every day, all day, for the past seven days. The Weather Channel isn't predicting any change for the next week. Scattered thunderstorms every day through June 14, and that day might be partly cloudy. Might be.

The National Hurricance Center says that all the rain might be a good thing. Apparently, all the really nasty hurricanes like Andrew and Charley hit when we have much-lower-than-average rainfall in the Sunshine State. Too much sunshine, and you get whacked by a 125+-mph vortex of doom. Great.

I don't know that this week's weather is any better. We'll be hacking our way out of the weeds with machetes at this rate. My hair is exploded. That's the only word for it. Exploded. Natural curls and humidity are not a pretty combination. As a bonus insult, we don't even get a break when it stops raining--none of that freshened air feeling for us, no siree, Bob. More temperatures in the 90s and ridiculous humidity. Your makeup melts off before you can get out of the house good.

Sunshine would be nice, Lord. I love mushrooms, but on my pizza, thanks. I don't want to turn into one myself.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Cinderelly, Cinderelly!!

You could operate on my kitchen floor right now. Right now, that is. Give it ten more minutes with my two monkeys, the twins from around the corner, and the two dogs, and it'll no longer be that clean.

How clean, you may ask? On my knees with a scrubber sponge, a bucket of suds, and a rinse bucket. I could practically hear the mice singing the work song: "Cinderelly, Cinderelly, all I hear is Cinderelly!" Every once in a while, though, it's good to get down and dirty with your kitchen floor, especially if your kitchen floor is as down and dirty as mine was. Ewww. At this point, though, even those two bitchy English broads from How Clean Is Your House? would be impressed.

Since we're in total renovation and cleaning mode around Chez Mimi, we're back on the job of touching up the paint in the laundry room, priming and painting the new back door--the one with the glass in it, yay! (although I keep seeing light back there and yelling at the kids to shut the door, since that's the only way natural light used to get in there)--patching, priming, and laying the new floor, and waiting for the big, burly men to deliver my new washer and dryer. Ooo! Go me.

I won't morph into a domestic goddess overnight. I need to spend some serious time and energy with the Flylady this summer, but maybe by the time school gets back in, I'll have a normal house.

Whatever that looks like.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

June 1 marks the first day of Gay Pride Month. Central Florida has an interesting relationship with its gay citizens. One one hand, we host one of the biggest gay parties in the country--Gay Days at Disney (not that anyone around here is willing to say so officially). On the other hand, we can't make up our minds whether to embrace our gay citizens (Orlando does have a lesbian City Commissioner, after all) by flying rainbow flags from our decorative lampposts or distance ourselves from them, since flying rainbow flags apparently invokes the wrath of God. We like gays, so we get hurricanes, or so Pat Robertson claimed, in one of his dumber, more insensitive moments.

I'm with the rainbow flag coalition, thanks to some wonderful gay friends and my more wonderful gay brother, so this edition of the Bed/Dinner List has a twist--the ladies I'd pick if I were so inclined.


I don't usually go for bad boys, but if I played on the other side of the street, I'd be all over Angelina Jolie. There's just something about her--her balls to the wall attitude, her compassion (she's a UNICEF ambassador), her fearlessness--that makes me willing to overlook the spooky stuff, like the blood vials and marrying Billy Bob Thornton. If Brad Pitt does have something going with Angelina, I can understand that. Next to Angelina, Jennifer Aniston is a size-zero, well, zero.


I enjoy funny people. Ellen Degeneres is funny people. We share a love for pantsuits and dancing. She knows the highs (Emmys) and lows (cancellation) of show business. She certainly knows relationship heartbreak, so we could dish. Plus, I could have her teach me how to speak whale.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

New Pup!


Originally uploaded by invergarry.
School's out, so today we picked up our new baby. It's been a while since I've had a puppy in the house, so the whole housebreaking/crate training thing seems new. So far, so good--he's been great! The kids--our personal ones and all the neighbors' critters--are in LOVE. So are we.

What's in a name? Here's the Cliff's Notes version: In college, I sang in the choir. I didn't have the voice to sing at our annual Madrigal Dinners, but I did have the warped sense of humor and the acting chops to be the court jester. Since then, I've collected jester memorabilia from engravings from the 1930s to Odie from Garfield, complete with a bell hat and a slapstick. This puppy's mama's call name is Revel. At traditional Twelfth Night celebrations (that's Epiphany or Three Kings Day--the twelfth night after Christmas), the court jester takes over the castle as the master of revels. Makes sense to us, so...

Introducing our new baby, Chilcote Master of Revels, aka Jester!!

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