Bats in my belfry

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I love bats. In my last house, I had a bunch of bat-themed stuff in the first floor half bath. I called it the batroom. (Ha.)

Two nights ago, I was in the middle of an oddly boring dream. Then some lightning started (in the dream) and thumping. But it was a dream so…par for the course right? But what jolted me out of my slumber was a very insistent THUMP, a BANG, and a lot of cursing.

The lightning was my husband’s flashlight. The thumping was him trying to get out of the way of a swooping bat as it soared into our bedroom.

“WHAT IS GOING ON?” I demanded.

“Uh…there’s a bat in the house…”

I put on my glasses. Sure enough, there was a little fluttery shape flying in circles around our ceiling fan. (We turned off the fan.)

I got up and put on a robe, because I am a sensible person. Husband, however, chose to deal with the intruder the same way he came into this world: naked and waving his arms around.

We got wee Batman to fly into the hall and then rest on the doorjamb of Thing 1 and 2’s room. Poor thing. But cute as could be. And no white nose, so that’s good. I got a towel and tried to gather him into it, but he took off and spent the next five minutes swooping up and down the stairwell.

Husband got a broom and opened the front door.

Me: Why are you turning on all the lights?

Him: I don’t know! I don’t know what to do!

Me: Turn the lights off, you don’t have any clothes on.

Him: Sara, it’s 4 a.m…..

Batman landed on a picture frame hanging on the wall. I gently laid the towel on him and he gave a tiny squeak.

Me: Crap. Did I hurt him? Why do you keep ducking? He’s not going to hit you.

Husband: I know, it’s just a reflex.

I stuck the broom up in the air, hoping Batman would land on it and I could launch him safely off the porch. Gently, bit by bit, we herded him right out the front door and back into the night.

Me: Thank god nobody is awake, you gave quite a show… This is why you need to have a bathrobe.

Husband: I’m going back to bed.

I’m not surprised we had a chiropteroid visitor. It’s an old house. I’m sure we’ll have more.

Book birthday

birthday book

On Tuesday (Or Sunday, if you ask Amazon……..) my first book came out.

A year or so ago, I listened to an interview with Tom Lennon (from The Odd Couple). The interviewer asked how it felt to have “made it” in his career. Lennon said something about having worked so long and hard that he’d built up sort of an armor. Not that it’s No Big Deal to have finally achieved success, but that it had been so long in coming it’s just a bit anticlimactic.

I feel this way, too. Muddy Waters is my third completed novel. It took about 18 months between initally querying agents to getting published. Before that, I queried the first two books for three years or so with varying degrees of success but no contract.

Writing your first book isn’t like winning the lottery. You’re not poor at 8:00 p.m. and filthy rich at 8:01. You don’t go from not-published to published overnight.

Is it like a marathon? Maybe. If you have tiny victories at random intervals and then by the time you cross the finish line, you’ve been running so long it’s all you’ve ever known and it’s just another day in your life, and then there’s still a 10K to run when you’re done with the 26.2 miles.

There were so many little milestones I celebrated but at no point did it feel like NOW THIS PART IS DONE.  There was the email from the acquisitions editor asking for the whole manuscript. There was another email asking for revisions. There was a call extending a contract. There was the cover design, the Amazon listing, the news that Audible would offer it as an audio book. There were a couple of meh reviews.

So when the book was actually alive and in the wild, it didn’t FEEL different, except that I have been anxious to the nth degree for about a week.* I don’t know what I expected but I don’t think this is it.

I’ve just been stressing over whether I’m doing the right thing with promotion? Is there something else I should do? Did I invite enough people to the launch party? Did I invite TOO MANY people to the launch party?

This is not to say that I’m not thrilled this has finally happened. But I get something now that I didn’t get before. I get the pressure we feel after putting something out there. I get why some authors write a book or two in the promised trilogy and then vanish. I’ve made a promise to the readers, to the publisher, to myself. And what if I can’t fulfill those promises? What if I do The Wrong Thing and the book tanks and everything sucks and my grand plan for the series is sucked into the hole?

I wish I was happier about it. I wish I was more at ease. I wish I felt less stress that my book is finally a reality. I wish I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering when I will sit down to finish the second book, or terrified that I’ve missed some awesome opportunity.

 

*It does not help that I also lost my job last month, and as I haven’t had a single interview, my shoulders creep ever-closer to my ears.

300WP: Your First Kiss

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I was never the girl picked for kissing in truth or dare. I didn’t have boyfriends in grade school like some of my other friends. I was super-shy, awkward…the usual cocktail of adolescent horror. So by the time I got to high school, and not only made friends, but started dating, it was a new world.

My first boyfriend was a year older than me and I knew him from lunch. He sat with some of my friends. I saw him at a homecoming dance, and we talked and danced (awkwardly). Before he left, he asked for my phone number, which I wrote on the back of my dance ticket.

Neither of us could drive, so for our first date, he and his parents picked me up and dropped us as the mall. This was back when one of the malls in my part of town had a movie theater and a food court. We ate at (I think) KFC, then we went to see Mermaids (which remains one of my favorite movies ever–that scene where Christina Ricci comes in with the pumpkin on her head cracks me up every time).

His parents picked us up after. I thought it was weird that they both came, but he was an only child and they were older parents so maybe they were just really protective? They parked in the front of my house, but my family always went in the side door. It was a blessing, in hindsight, although maybe he wouldn’t have kissed me if they’d been able to see us from the car.

We said our good nights and then before I turned to go inside, he grabbed my arms and pulled us in. Oh my lord, this is really happening, but why is his tongue out?? He wound up sort of mashing his tongue against my front teeth.

Then he was gone.

I went inside, wiped off my teeth, and realized I’d just had my First Official Kiss. And it had been weird.

We went out maybe one more time, again with his parents as chauffeurs, and sat together at school whenever possible. This was before the days of cell phones and we all used phones that were stuck in the walls at our houses. So he and I talked as much as we could.

I got out of the shower one night and my mom said he’d called. When I called, back this conversation happened:

Me: You called?

Him: Yeah, I just called to tell you that I’m not going to be able to talk on the phone tonight.

Me: Um…okay…

Him: It’s just that the State of the Union address is on tonight.

Me: (Half-joking because I was fourteen) Oh so the president is more important than me?

Him: At this point in our relationship, he is, yes.

I broke up with him a few days later in the 1990s version of a text message: via note passed between classes.

I went on to successfully date a senior from another school, a misunderstood rebel type, and then finished off high school with my first long-term boyfriend. Lotta good kissing after that first rough start.

300WP: Back to School

Today’s prompt:

If you had the time and resources to go back to school, what would you study?

Psychology. I think in another life, I’d be a counselor or psychologist. Mental health is important and fascinating and I love listening to other people’s problems. I don’t think I could do children’s therapy. My sister is a social worker and I couldn’t deal with abused kids. I think marriage counseling would be interesting. Or family counseling.

Huh. That’s all I really have to say about that.

300WP: Do you use coupons?

extreme-coupons

Today’s Writing Prompt: Do you use coupons?

No. I mean, yes. Sometimes.

I use coupons for things like oil changes or kitchen stuff at Bed Bath & Beyond or BOGO shoes. I like Groupons sometimes. But I don’t bother with grocery coupons or stuff like that. I used to try, for a while, but it’s a hassle and I have better things to do with my time than scour the Sunday papers for little bits of paper that I then have to keep track of until I go to the store. And I’ve used the apps like Cartwheel, but it feels so fiddly and I don’t really feel like I get that much out of it.

Someone told me once that manufacturers don’t do coupons for us, for the shoppers. They are doing it for their own good, and YOU don’t save more money than they MAKE on you. It’s uneven.

I use loyalty cards in a couple of stores.

Also, I don’t use the products there are coupons for. Take toiletries. I can’t use anything with chemical fragrance in it (that is, anything that isn’t literally from the plant) or aloe. I use store-brand cleaners. Also, I hate those coupons that are like, “BUY SIXTEEN BOXES OF OATMEAL AND GET THE SEVENTEENTH FOR HALF OFF!”

TLDR: No coupons.

300WP: Hotels

 

Write about a memorable experience you  had staying at a hotel. 

I had just started working for a major corporation in my hometown and my new team was having a big meeting in Miami. I was so excited to see South Beach and check out the salsa scene.

We stayed at the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in: right on the beach with huge rooms and beds, an enormous bathroom, very fancy products on the vanity. There was also a very famous pop star staying at the hotel, so I knew this was a posh place. The country mouse in the city, as it were.

The first night we were there, my boss had a poolside reception for the group we had assembled. She handed me her corporate credit card and told me to open a tab. I went to the bar, which was super-swanky and beautiful. I was gazing around, waiting for the bartenders to help me.

I heard a guy next to me ask for six glasses of Sambuca and a draft beer. The bartender gave him an odd look: not many people in this part of the world order Sambuca. It’s an anise-flavored liqueur and something of an acquired taste. And the guy says, “Yeah, I don’t know, they’re British. They like Sambuca. I think it’s disgusting.”

The way he said it, so smug and like he was trying to impress this bartender, made me want to see what this jerk looked like. He was standing directly next to me, wearing a nice suit. Sort of a Midwestern heftiness to him, sandy hair.

He saw me and said, “Oh, are you like, English or something? You like Sambuca?”

I said, in a perfect London accent, “What did you say?”

He paled. “Oh, so…you’re British? I mean, I just never met anyone who liked this stuff.”

I said, in my cool accent, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I happen to like Sambuca.”

At this point, the bartender is smothering laughter and this guy is backpeddling as fast as he can.

I finally broke into a grin and said in my regular voice, “Nah, man, I’m just  messing with you. I’m from Kentucky.”

His face went totally blank. “So you’re…you’re not…”

“I’m not English. I was just messing with you.”

He smoothed his tie, turned, and left. Didn’t take the tray of glasses the bartender had prepared. Or his wallet.

I consider this my first real improv experience with the Yes, and… technique.

300WP: An interesting date

low-poly-heart

Continuing my exercise of using the 300 Writing Prompts book, I randomly opened to a perfect prompt for today:

Write about an interesting date you have been on, good or bad

I did Match.com for a while, after my boyfriend lost his damn mind and moved to Florida without me and we broke up (Spoiler: he’s my husband now, and we are in our twelfth year of marriage). And the majority of my weird dates were then.

Mostly they were just a little awkward. One guy looked fantastic on paper. Well-traveled, had a good job, family lived all over the world. But the date ended up being like sitting in a sales pitch for a time-share. He kept doing that thing salesmen do where they use your name repeatedly. “See, Sara, I’m a real entrepreneur. I have this business I’ve built up and you know, Sara, it’s just great. Sara, do you have a job you love?”

If you know me, you know I’m prone to stupid puns and dry one-liners. This guy was totally immune to my puns and wit. I would say something I thought was kind of funny and he would pause, look at me blankly, then continue whatever he was saying.

Sense of humor is like, number one in my book of Important Things, and this guy was not scoring well. This is going to sound completely sexist, but he didn’t ask if he could walk me to my car or anything. I think he might have actually shaken my hand before he marched off to his own car.

I went on a second date with a different Match.com guy and it was after a really long day at work. I was tired, but still looking forward to the evening. But literally every 15 mintues he would ask me, “Are you okay?” I kept saying, “I had a really long day at work, I’m just tired, but I’m good.” It got really annoying after the first nine times he asked…

My first date with the above-mentioned boyfriend/now husband was interesting. He picked me up after he got off work and we ended up at a cool restaurant in a cool part of town. Things were really going well and he totally laughed at my stupid puns and dry one-liners. We were too late to catch a 7:30 movie but in our movie discussions, he brought up Silence of the Lambs, which I had never seen.

We ended up renting Silence of the Lambs on our first date.

But I didn’t really watch the movie, and not for the reasons you think. He sat on the far end of the couch and didn’t say a word. Didn’t look over to see if I was totally freaked out, no physical contact or anything. I assumed he was just not that into me.

Turns out, he just thought it was a really good movie. He gave me a DVD of it some years later as a gift.