Monday, January 25, 2016


Becoming a parent forced me to become more of a planner and much less spontaneous in my decisions. Actually, I’m not really sure how spontaneous I’ve ever been—I suspect it’s more of a desire than an actual personality trait of mine, but regardless, once I had kids, all traces of that trait went out the window. Planning ahead is the only way I can keep sane and organized.

With that comes knowledge of the weather. Between making sure my kids are wearing somewhat weather-appropriate clothes (honestly, they’re teenagers so my influence is significantly less than it used to be) to answering my husband’s frequent question, “what’s the weather going to be like today,” I’ve become the family meteorologist, with expectations of a much higher track record than properly trained and paid ones.

Luckily, I have a friend on Facebook who is an amateur meteorologist and loves to post weather predictions, backed by his study of a variety of models and maps. His record is much more accurate than local media pundits, so for major storms, I rely on him to tell me what’s going on.

Needless to say, for this snowstorm we just had, I’d known about it for days. As had everyone else. Except unlike almost everyone around me, I wasn’t worried. That’s not to say I shouldn’t have been, but I have a very laissez-faire attitude when it comes to weather. I live in New Jersey. Unless it’s snowing in July or dust storming in January, I don’t worry. That 70-degree weather in December? THAT concerned me. The potential of a blizzard in January? Pfft. It’s supposed to happen.

Will I go to the grocery store? Of course, but that’s because I go to the grocery store every freaking day. Somebody needs something or runs out of something or I just can’t plan my meals far enough in advance to avoid the place (in spite of what I said above about planning). What I don’t do is buy enough French Toast ingredients for a week just because we’re having a storm for a day or two.

Deck pictures? Um, I’d rather see them in the warm, sunny weather, when you’re enjoying their purpose. Actually, I’d rather be invited over to actually enjoy your deck (and hopefully a BBQ or something). Sure, it’s an easy way to show how much snow you’ve gotten, but I have the same amount at my house, give or take a few inches. And if I don’t, I will shortly—remember, I live in New Jersey. It snows here every winter.

I’ll admit to loving the photos of your kids playing in the snow. And your dogs and cats (although seriously, who makes a cat go outside in the snow???). They’re cute, but then again, I love seeing photos of your loved ones regardless of the weather.

Funny stories about snow clearing? Bring it! Comments about how weathermen have the most stable job in the world? Go for it—who else can be wrong every single time and still have a job. Pretty nature photos? Love them! Snow is beautiful, especially if you don’t have to clear it or drive in it.

But really, people, we need perspective. Snow in winter is normal. Stocking up on twelve gallons of milk, five loaves of bread and four dozen eggs is not—and is horrible for your cholesterol.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Holding Pattern

I’m in a holding pattern. I hate holding patterns.

I’m waiting for responses from editors, through my agent, for submissions. I suspect, having taken this long, that they will say no.

I’ve finished one other manuscript and am in the process of editing it. Now that I’ve finished the first draft, I’m kind of losing motivation for this part, since this is where I identify all the problems and try to fix them, without completely hating what I’ve written. Add in my suspicion that a rejection is coming very soon (see above), and the cloud of negativity grows. But providing I can get past it, I’d like to have the first round of edits complete within the month so I can send it to one of my critique partners. She’ll read it for plot—does it make sense, is there a story arc/character arc, etc., is the tension sustained throughout. And then I’ll fix all the mistakes she identifies.

In the meantime, I’m also working on a second manuscript. I wrote 54,000 words and got stuck. This is the one I started on one of the college visits my daughter and I went to. While she was sitting in the hotel room doing homework, I started writing. 5,000 words later and I wanted to keep going. So I did. Until I got stuck. I met with my critique partner last week and she did a great job unsticking me. But that means I have to rewrite those 54,000 words. I’m going through from the beginning and trying to do that now, with the goal of getting it in decent shape to do serious writing on it in February.

February is my writing chapter’s novel-writing month. We aim to each write 30,000 in a month. It breaks down to a little more than 1,000 words a day, so it’s totally doable as long as the stars align and no one has a crisis. If I can get my edits done this month, I can move forward next month and hopefully reach the goal.

And therefore, this month is a holding pattern. Setting everything up for next month, without actually taking big strides forward. Patience has never been my strong suit, but I’m trying. And that’s about the best I can do right now.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Winter Break

Winter break is over and whoa, boy, it was a doozy.

That’s not to say it wasn’t wonderful—it really was. We were all home together and spent quality time that we haven’t been able to since school started. But I think I might have carried my “the kids need a real break” too far. As usual.

Both girls have had a difficult school year, and winter break is the one break where we weren’t looking at colleges or trying to get a million things done. So I wanted them to have time to do whatever they pleased (within legal limits) and with whomever they wanted.

Banana Girl informed me that ALL her friends, even the ones who never go on vacation, were going on vacation. The General (formerly The Princess—Star Wars fans will get the reference) needed to empty her room for the painter to come the Monday she went back to school. My mom volunteered to help in any way necessary. So I figured we were covered. We’d do a little shopping, get some chores around the house done and if any friends were actually available, we’d see them. My mom would take the girls a little to give them a break, and all would be great.


Banana Girl wanted to reorganize her room and closet, so for Chanukah, my parents gave her a trip to The Container Store, which they planned for over break. She also wanted to bake, so my mom planned to teach her how to make piecrust (and of course, a pie to go in it). She wanted to play her new Monopoly game with her friends before they left on vacation, and to have all of her friends over before break ended.

The General wanted her best friend from camp to spend a couple days with us. Her friends from her summer Israel trip wanted to visit their counselor who was visiting New York City. And she wanted to help celebrate her NFTY friend’s birthday. Plus she needed to clean her room.

I wanted to do something fun for New Year’s Eve.

Here’s what happened:

The General’s camp friend arrived the day after Christmas, plunked her bags down and we drove to Garden State Plaza for shopping. Remember that story about the massive traffic and the person who sat in the parking garage for FOUR hours trying to leave the shopping center? Well, that person wasn’t me, but we were there. Banana Girl and I shopped while The General and her friend went off on their own. Biggest mall ever, most amount of people I’ve ever seen. O. M. G.

The next day, I dropped the General and her friend in town and hosted Banana Girl’s 3 best friends here for a board game-playing afternoon—one of which involved whipped cream (I have no idea why).

The day after that, I dropped the General’s friend at our meeting spot for her to return home. One night to ourselves.

The following day, five of the General’s friends from her summer Israel trip came over and spent the night, after which I drove them to the train station to go into New York City to meet up with their counselor for lunch. The highlight of that experience for me:

Me: Where are you meeting E?
Them: Penn Station.
Me: Penn Station is pretty big. Maybe you should narrow it down?
One of them: Well, he’s really, really tall.
Me: Maybe you should narrow it down (the best I could do without screaming)?
Them: The entrance.
Me: There are many entrances.

I thought I showed a lot of restraint not screaming at them, nor mentioning sex slaves or human trafficking. Yay me. They all made it back to where they were supposed to go.

In the meantime, my mom helped Banana Girl empty her room and closet to organize. I avoided looking and tried to plan something for my husband and I to do New Year’s Eve.

The General talked about having plans with her friends for New Year’s. Said plans remained vague. Banana Girl invited a friend over for New Year’s Eve. The General finally made plans with her school friends to go out to dinner for New Year’s Eve and volunteered us to drive home. There went my plans.

The day after New Year’s Day, I drove the General to meet her NFTY friend and to spend the night, then hosted Banana Girl’s seven friends here for the evening. The following day, we picked up the General from her friend’s house.

Last night there were only four of us in the house. All night. Today they are all gone.

What did I learn?
  • Be careful what I wish for.
  • Teens who love to play board games warm my heart.
  • Having friends in lots of different groups is awesome.
  • Despite being beyond clueless, teens can actually make it into NYC, through Penn Station and back onto the train and home in one piece.
  • Leading a new driver out of our neighborhood and down the hill to navigate the fog is a small price to pay for ensuring her safety, and I know other moms would do the same for my teen.
  • Watching the ball drop with my kids and husband, regardless of how many “others” are there too, is perfect.
  • Despite my doubts, it is possible to clean out a room by a deadline.
  • Closets can get organized.
  • Mondays are amazing.