Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Journal at 13

Fellow writer and friend, Jill Wolfson, is doing a Dear Diary project on her blog. She's invinting authors to give her a snippet from their diaries when they were 12-14years-old.

It so happens that I've kept journals since I was thirteen. You'd think that at some point I would have gone back and reread through these tomes, but beyond a few times that I’ve flipped through some of the later ones to reminisce about an event, nope, I haven't cracked any of them open.

I realize now, that I should have, if only for the entertainment value. Wow, I was silly at thirteen. For example, my sister got married that year so this event got a lot of page time in my journal. I understand why I wrote about my worries--they were mostly because my parents thought she was too young to get married. (She was the oldest so I hadn't realized at that point that my parents thought 32 was the respectable age to marry.)

But the weird thing is, I described every detail of the day including the wedding luncheon and the reception. I wrote about the red punch, (it was so good I breathed it in) how many forks were used, (three, and they were silver) how many pictures were taken of the bride and groom (at least 250) and I even drew diagrams of where we stood in the reception line, what the cake looked like, and the poles that marked off the dancing area. I have no idea why I felt the need to record all these details. Did I think someday we were going to reenact the event? Was I writing it down to make sure my reception was just as fancy? Did I think archeologists would one day unearth my journal and need it to understand wedding rituals of the 20th century?

I have no idea. It was the only bit of information I didn't write down.

I did find some of my other observations on marriage interesting. I wrote:

I wouldn't mind being married. Sometimes I just want to get away from it all, from my parents, from all the things I do around here that I wish I didn’t have to do. (Obviously I had getting married confused with taking a vacation to Disneyland. Hello, when you get married you have to do all that stuff you wish you didn’t have to do plus some. I guess I thought elves came to pay the bills and stock the fridge.)

I wish I could get away from school and all its popularity groups and the struggle for boys and all the homework. (Okay, granted, I had a point about that. I don’t miss junior high.)

My sister looked so happy, so peaceful. (Of course she did—she no longer had to spend all of her time planning reception details.)

Then I went on to talk about my cousin, Jill’s wedding reception—luckily without the details about every food on the table or what color the napkins were.

Jill looked absolutely radiant! It was then I really decided that I was really going to look forward to my wedding. I even started a wedding fund which I now have a little over 10 dollars in. (I have no idea what happened to that fund. I probably spent it on chocolate in later years when I grew more cynical about men.) I wonder what it would be like to be with a man, have his children, and live together for the rest of our lives, forever. It’s a big step getting married. I hope I find the right guy. (I did, and it’s wonderful—even if I didn’t get ribbons on the poles to mark off the dancing area for the reception. Come to think of it, I didn’t get a band or a dancing area. I think I should show my journal to my parents. They owe me some ribbons and a band.)

By the way, at Jill’s reception I caught the wedding bouquet and then afterwards one of the waiters who worked there asked me to marry him. He was just kidding. I said, “Yes!” That was fun! (No wonder my parents worried their children getting married too young.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Job satisfaction

I’m the first to admit that being an author has its downsides. It’s a hard field to break into, it often doesn’t pay as well as . . . say, a pizza delivery job, and if you’re lucky and do get a book deal, you have to live through revision letters. Trust me, they aren’t pretty. I hold many angry conversations with my editor about his revision letters. Some conversations he actually gets to hear. My husband generally hears the rest.

But every once in awhile something comes along that makes me say: I’m so glad I have this job. This time it was a paragraph I read about why mosquitoes are attracted to certain people. (I just figured mosquitoes were like men and had peculiar tastes, but apparently there is a real scientific reason.)

Here is the paragraph:

The researchers separated human volunteers into two groups—those who were attractive to mosquitoes and those who weren't. They then put each of the volunteers into body-size foil bags for two hours to collect their body odors. Using a machine known as a chromatograph, the scientists were able to separate the chemicals. They then tested each of them to see how the mosquitoes responded. By attaching microelectrodes to the insects' antennae, the researchers could measure the electrical impulses that are generated when mosquitoes recognize a chemical.

Note to guys who want to pick up women. These job titles will not impress us:

1) Test subject to see if mosquitoes prefer your blood.
2) Person collecting body odors of test subjects
3) Researcher who attaches microelectrodes onto mosquitoes' antennae

Yep, I love my job

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Problem With Wikipedia

Once while I was talking about researching stuff for my novels, I told one of my author friends, Jon Lewis, that my editor made me find a native Italian speaker to look over the Italian phrases I put in How To Take The Ex Out Of Ex-boyfriend. Jon laughed a lot about that. He said one day he was going to write a book on research called: Wikipedia, It's Close Enough to the Truth
For Me.

And granted, he may have a point. You can find anything on Wikipedia. I had to learn some stuff about martial arts and--bam--Wikipedia has the history of, origins of and names of dozens of different types.

I was marveling about this to middle daughter. "I don't know who spends the time to write all of this stuff," I said. "I haven't even bothered to write the page about me."

"There's a page about you?" she asked.

"Yep," I said. "I have no idea who wrote it, but it lists all of my books." To prove the point I typed my name into the search engine. It gave the basic boring information about me and then said, She lives with her husband and five children one of which is named Gaston. In "Just one wish" it is comically and truthfully stated that Gaston is believed to be the coolest.

Hmm, apparently Gaston's friends know how to edit Wikipedia and are adding their own opinions.

See, that's the problem with Wikipedia.