Waiting for the Click



I’ve been restless lately. Antsy. Impatient.

If I were a dog, I’d be running in my sleep, chasing something just up ahead. If I were a toddler, I’d be fussing over something shiny I can’t quite reach and can’t ask for.  If I was a summer storm, I’d be building.

Part of me—possibly a part I should either pay attention to more often or keep better medicated—seems to believe that a change is coming.

Maybe good, maybe bad.

But different.

The first time I felt like this, I’d been working in a bookstore in my hometown for about a year.  Something clicked, and within two weeks, I’d taken the GRE, applied to the nearest university that offered the degree I wanted in the shortest amount of time, and dragged my husband across state lines and a hundred miles south, so I could get my MLS.

The second time, I was working a perfectly good library job five minutes from our house—decent hours, decent money. I was reading through a professional listserv and clicked through to an ad for an open library position three towns and a river-width away. Within a month, I’d applied for and accepted the job, which offered better hours and great money.

The third time, I was seeing an endocrinologist because of some problems, including a two-year spate of amenorrhea that was interfering with my hopes for a second kid.  One day, in a panic, I made an emergency appointment with him, because I was suddenly showing most of the symptoms on his Call Us If sheet . . . and discovered that I was pregnant with Sunny. “First egg out of the chute,” the doctor told me.  “You beat the house odds.”


This time . . . I don’t know. Yet.

There are several possibilities.

My new boss arrives next month. I have several queries still out for Pigeons and submitted a few poetry articles to a local magazine. My kids start school in less than a month.

Work, writing, family . . . could be any of the three. Or none.

Could be indigestion, for all I know. That gastrointestinal thing that’s going around. A spike in my metabolism. A caffeine overdose. Mental exhaustion.

Or maybe I’ve slipped into an Alice Hoffman novel.

Hard to say.

But I’m not just standing still.  I’m preparing.

Rest assured, I’m not stockpiling firearms or boom clay or petitions or placards on sticks.

It’s worse.

I’m cleaning.

I spent several hours last Thursday spontaneously mucking out fifteen years of accumulated stuff from my cubicle. I’ve spent this week finishing up the little things I’ve been putting off and arranging my current projects in neat, logical order.  There’s an opening in another department and I’ve sent a letter to HR.

I sent out a new batch of queries on Sunday, and also offered warnings to my go-to Gun Expert  and Locksmith Friend that I was amassing long lists of of questions for them on my new project.

I ordered my kids’ schoolbooks—whose idea was it to have 6th graders take Latin at $115 a pop for textbooks?—and plan to go through their closets tonight to see what we need to fix/buy/borrow/steal to comply with the school dress code.

I balanced my checkbook and paid my bills early.  I ran a box of stuff through the shredder.

It’s like reverse nesting: I’m clearing my buffers and freeing myself to follow—or dodge—whatever comes my way

You could argue that all this prep work is going to make something happen and that I’ve been busy fulfilling my own prophecy.  You’d probably be right.

At this point, I don’t care why it happens or even what happens, just that it does.


Because on Friday, I found out after the fact that I’d painted my nails in “Walk Away” rose.

If this is a clue from my subconscious/brain chemistry/the Deity of my choice/the Universe/Ms. Hoffman/Fate, it’s stopped trying to be subtle.

Bring it.



Three (and a half) Things that Made Me Smile This Morning*


Sunny’s Practicality

“What do you want for Christmas, honey?” I asked my six-year old, perhaps a month or so later than I should’ve.

“A real horse,” she said.White horse in field

“Where would we put him?” I asked, opting for the space argument instead of the financial one that usually works better on her older sister.  “We don’t have much yard, and the garage is pretty full.”

“He can stay in my room.”

“Horses can’t be house-trained, honey,” I said, envisioning wall-to-wall newspaper and a pooper scooper the size of a snow shovel.

“I’ll walk him every day  Two times.”

“Doesn’t matter—they don’t hold it, they just go whenever and wherever they are.

“Oh,” she said, her little brow wrinkling.  And then she smiled. “He can stay in your room, then.”



Murphy the Snail Finger Puppet

Because he’s a snail.

And a finger puppet.

And just look at that little face.

Murphy The Snail

He was found in a museum gift shop this weekend, and I carried him around on my forefinger from the time I discovered him on the rack amongst  the bunnies and puppies, seals and robins, hedgehogs and otters, sharks and etcetera—they have an remarkable selection—to the moment the clerk said, “Do you want a bag, or are you going to wear him home?”

I didn’t wear him home, thank you.  I was driving.

Jane named him.  I was thinking Morton, but he totally looks like a Murphy.

Murphy The Snail 2

What he’s sitting on is the half thing that made me smile, because it’s the half-completed next scene from my WIP,
and I get to use straightjacket metaphorically for once.

(genre thing — best not to ask, really)



The Grapes that Stole Christmas

This is the season that our research patrons and volunteers and vendors like to give us cookies and fudge and chocolates and so forth.

And heaven knows, we appreciate it.

But this year, one of our favorite volunteers brought us these:

Grape that Stole Christmas

Grinches onna Stick for second breakfast!



*Not including Lyra’s latest post, which she published yesterday, but I caught first this thing morning. Gingerbread House metaphors and Elf Beer. Awesome.

Retiring The Bag

Those of you who have been around since last October might remember The Bag:

The Bag

I love The Bag, because I can schlep around an unholy amount of stuff in it, up to and including my Netbook, a couple of legal pads, two pounds of printed manuscript, and everything the kids claim they’re too tired to carry.  It has side pockets for my Phone and library ID and keys, inner pockets for my wallet, and secured zippered partitions for the stuff I don’t want falling out of it in public.

It’s been my constant, loyal companion for over three years and has never let me down, strayed from my side, or complained about being used as the family oubliette.

Unfortunately, The Bag of Holding, as Watson calls it, isn’t The Indestructible Bag, and has, over the past month, become The Disintegrating Bag.  The leather(ish) is peeling off the straps, the inner pockets have unsewn themselves, and large holes have appeared in the bottom lining, though which a lot of  . . .  stuff . . . has gleefully disappeared.

So yesterday afternoon, Watson and the kids and I went on a quest to find a New Bag.

Watson thinks I need to downsize—the woman carries something the size of a paperback book that’s just big enough to hold her phone, money clip, and keys—but the idea doesn’t sit well with me.  There’s a certain comfort in the slow separation of my shoulder joint under the weight of my ready possessions.

The kids think I need more color in my life, but I tell them that’s what they’re for.  Besides, black—aka, the One True Neutral— is the safest choice for someone who  has a total lack of interest in navigating the many rules, regulations, and risks involved in matching, deliberate non-matching, or flippin’ winter whites versus, I don’t know, autumnal aubergines?  ‘Sides, it matches the tats, yo.*

I wanted one as close to The Bag as I could get.

After searching through piles of the Good, the Bad, and the Oh My God Look It’s An Enormous Chartreuse Jellyfish, I narrowed it down to three possibilities. All were in leather(ish), as the store didn’t carry any in kevlar and I like to pretend that  ripstop nylon isn’t me.**  All were roomy and had a multitude of pocketses.

“That’s not a bag,” said Watson, pointing to the one on the end. “That’s a suitcase.”

“No, it’s . . . okay, yeah, fine.” I said, reluctantly deciding that I didn’t need something big enough for Sunny to climb into—if only because she would.

Of the other two, only one fit comfortably under my arm, its straps settling perfectly into the groove compressed by The Bag.  It’s slightly smaller, but it came with a free mini umbrella—and was 40% off.


I bought it, brought it home, and began the solemn ceremony of Changing Bags, which consists of upending the first one, giving it a couple of sharp shakes, and sorting through the results while the family makes pointed remarks.

At the end of its benevolent reign, The Bag contained (in no specific order):

Bag of holding Contents1—Keys
—Library ID
—Aquaphor hand ointment
—Hand sanitizer
—A sharpened pencil
—A pair of wrapped chopsticks
—The metal backscratcher mentioned above
—Six pads of a feminine nature (assorted sizes, because female biology is nature’s favorite practical joke)
—Six laminated wooden double-pointed needles (size 2)
—Seven pens, including a green Sharpie, a green highlighter, and one with Get Crap Done printed on the side.
—A refillable scribble book
—A three-year pocket planner
—A one-page bio of Roald Dahl from my short story group, on the other side of which are notes on the third chapter of my new WIP
—An unopened pack of peppermint gum
—A pair of sunglasses, miraculously unscratched***
—My husband’s lighter, last used to light Sunny’s birthday candles—in early April
—A cloth bag of cinnamon pot pourri
—A book of Mark Twain quotes
—A memo pad with my star sign on it
—A CPR Face Shield
—A EMT-issue barf bag in a comforting green
—Leftover nausea meds and motion sickness pills (which explains the bag, sort of)
—A flash drive the size of my pinkie fingernail
—Half an inch of blank 3×5″ cards
—My wallet (contents various)
—My checkbook
—Three Very Important Appointment Cards
—Twenty-one dollars and seventy-six cents (a forgotten Visa gift card from last Christmas, and change)
—A stack of Eagle River brochures (Hodag!)
—A big yellow paperclip
—Three marbles
—A woven nylon rope bracelet in pink camouflage that I suspect Mom dropped in when I wasn’t looking^
—Fourteen crumpled receipts, three used sticky notes, an elderly peppermint, two empty Splenda packets, several No Longer Important Appointment Cards, two crumb-filled ziplocks, two wads of paper with chewed-gum centers, an odd collection of blue metallic paper stars, and a crumpled bookstore bag in which all of this was stuffed before I decided I needed a photo.

The last five items (and half of the eighth) were set aside as I turned my attention to organizing the rest into its new home.

It all fit. Even the umbrella.

New Bag of Holding

Long live The New Bag!


Because I keep getting tassel flashbacks from that Chartreuse Jellyfish.

What’s in your pocketses?


*I’m . . . I’m so sorry.  I don’t know what happened just then.

**It clearly is, but not in that particular shade of puce.  No, really.  Hush.

***Okay, yes, I bought them at the same time as the bag, but it still counts as a miracle.  Believe me.

^She bought three, two for the kids and one for herself, but Sunny defied her nature and wanted the purple one and Mom and Jane don’t do pink.  So I guess it’s mine by default . . . or she thought I’d never find it in there.

Unpacking The Bag

I’ve been running around all day getting ready for tomorrow’s drive to Cleveland: going to the bank (for toll money) the grocery store (for diet Pepsi and snacks), the library (to return a couple items and pick up a couple more), doing (and repairing) laundry, gathering up the truly impressive number of charging cords I think I need (I really do, though), learning Watson’s GPS (loaned so I won’t run off the road reading the directions and will instead veer off a bridge listening to them), making many piles of the things I’m taking (from the many lists I made yesterday), and trying to fit them all in two or three pieces of luggage.*

One of these pieces is my purse. Or, as my family calls it, The Bag:

The Bag is one foot by two feet, has eight pockets, and can easily fit a family of four, or at least several not-so metaphorical tons of their stuff.  In order to prep for this trip, I decided to clean out The Bag and then restock it with only the things I need for the trip.

But first, Watson made me weigh it:**  Seven pounds even.

I was impressed—it seemed heavier than that.

The content  varies from day to day, but this is what I’ve been schlepping around with me since the last time the contents of The Bag were allowed to settle:

Library ID
Aquaphor hand ointment
Hand sanitizer
One Barbie purse
One mint box containing a lucky rock
Five pads of a feminine nature
Four pencils, three with broken points
Five pens, including a 2″ one with pink ink and one green Sharpie
One beaded bracelet
An excellent book
One planner
One scribble book with “Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake” on the cover
One small graph-paper memo book
One CPR Face Shield
Six laminated double-sided knitting needles
A powder compact
A quarter-inch stack of 3×5″ cards
My wallet (contents also various)
Three dollars and eight-one cents (two bills and change)
Twenty-three crumpled receipts
The guarantee for Rocinante’s new windshield
One Splenda packet,
The plastic ball from a gumball machine toy
The butterfly zipper pull from Sunny’s jacket
A half-inch-worth of my business cards
One tablespoon of loose fortune cookie crumbs

I sorted out all the stuff, sharpened and capped the pencils, pitched the trash, gave back the things that weren’t mine, repacked the bag with only the essentials, and weighed it again.

Five pounds, six and three-fourths ounces.  That’s not so bad—and now there’s room in there for my three-pound Netbook, which was the ostensible point of this exercise.***

All that’s left to do before I head out at six o’clock tomorrow is . . . yeah, I’d better hit publish and get going.

See you on the Ohio side!

What’s in your pocketses?


*And then unpacking them, because I promised Sunny she could help when she came home from school.

*She also thought I should take that first image of it, before I emptied it out.   This would have been easy, if it weren’t for a certain furry-bottomed photobomber showing off his best side every single time I focused the frame.

***And also a blog post, I won’t lie.