October 29, 2011

Just for fun: The Flaming Lips!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The first time I ever remember listening to The Flaming Lips, and knowing who they were, was about seven years ago. I was at work and I was feeling really down about something or other.  Charles and I hadn't been dating long, and he could see how sad I was, so he sent me a link to a song. 

It was "Do You Realize" by The Flaming Lips, and when I heard the first line (Do you realize...that you have...the most...beautiful face...) I burst into tears.  And by the end of the song, I felt better.

Thus began a love affair with one of the freakiest, quirkiest, funniest bands I know.  Charles and I have watched documentaries about them, listened to our favorite album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (no, I'm not making that up...), and enjoyed them for years.

So when we heard they were coming here? To Charleston? Yeah, we got tickets.

The show was last night, four days before Halloween, and all of Charleston's freakiest showed up in costume (I lamented the fact that I'd forgotten my tutu many times...but that may have been the wine talking....Charles and I tailgated with our standard wine, cheese, beer and brownies.).  The were plenty of scantily clad women, men in drag, and even a really good rendition of Hunter S. Thompson.  People watching was spectacular.

And then came...the show itself.  Which was really more spectacle than rock-n-roll show, although there was plenty of good music too. 

The Flaming Lips love beautiful women. Let that be understood from the get-go.  As soon as Wayne Coyne, the band's lead man, was done warming up the crowd, the screen at the back of the stage started flashing with a 60's-tinted, psychedelic video of a naked woman dancing. Ok, I thought. So THIS is how it's gonna be, huh?   Then she lay down, spread her legs, and the band's grand entry onto the stage was literally through her...yeah...I'm blushing...it was through her vagina, ok??  Like she was giving birth to the band.

Wayne Coyne then did a bit of crowd surfing in a bubble.  So THAT happened, too.  It was surreal.

And then the music started.  And there was confetti.  And there were balloons.  And girls dancing on stage in skimpy outfits. 

I made it my goal to finally get to participate in the balloon-batting. I was surrounded by taller men, so they kept getting to the balloons first.  They'd sail close, closer, and I'd think, OK, it's my turn now!  But then...one of the tall guys would hit it first. And I'd be left disappointed, my hands hanging in the air, abandoned.  

Then it happened. A red balloon flew overhead, unnoticed by the boys. It flew closer, I jumped up, hands outstretched...and punched it way high into the air!! Hooray!  

And the band played on.  Women danced on stage.  Wayne Coyne cursed at the crowd in a loving, caressing way.  We screamed and danced and sang.  

Then came the laser light show.

And finally, when I was danced out and exhausted and my head was spinning from the amount of smoke around me (smoke machines and weed were everywhere!)....they played it.  They played my song.  

Here's a video of the opening to "Do You Realize."  I could only record the beginning, because, well, then I had to go dance my face off.  It was beautiful.  I loved it.

I loved the whole motherfucking thing.

October 21, 2011

Success, and how we know it

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about success lately.  You know, what it would feel like to be a successful writer, what it would mean. I want to know what I think it means, so I'll recognize it when I get there.

And then today I got smacked in the face with two excellent stories of success, and I realized...there's no way to predict it. It can be big, it can be small. But it's always different, isn't it?


My first success story of the day comes in the form of an old friend.  Back in high school, the Alban brothers were sort of mini-superstars in our little group of theater geeks and band dorks (I was in the Color Guard).  Angelo and Carlo were cute, they were super-sweet, and were both incredibly talented.  

I was happy to count them both as good friends, and one of my favorite high school memories is of the ride to either Giants Stadium or Madison Square Garden to see Billy Joel and Elton John. I was squeezed in between them in the back seat of a friend's car, and they spent the drive time singing Simon and Garfunkel songs for me. In particular, I still can't listen to "The 49th Street Bridge Song/Feelin' Groovy" without thinking of both of them.

Fast forward an embarrassing number of years, and those boys? They're still super-sweet. Still talented.  And Carlo? Well...holy cow, his one-man, self-written play has been running off-Broadway for a few weeks, keeps getting extended, and was JUST REVIEWED IN THE NEW YORK TIMES!  Seriously! Can you believe it?  He wrote about his years as an illegal immigrant back in high school.  When we were friends, he and his family were illegal. That blows my mind, because none of us had ANY idea.  How stressful was that? Well, I imagine his play captures exactly how stressful it was. 

I wish I lived closer to the city so I could make it in to see him perform. If you're in the tri-state area, I highly recommend you go see it for yourself.  Seriously - what a great way to spend a night?

To me, well, a great review in the NY Times is pretty much the epitome of success. It can't get much better. And I am SO excited for, and SO proud of my old friend.  You've made it, buddy, and I couldn't be happier for you. Congratulations!


My second story is the little one. But...well, it's worth sharing anyway. 

Tonight I asked Zoe if she wanted some lined notebook paper on which to practice writing her letters. The child is determined to learn to read and write as soon as possible, so I thought she'd enjoy it.  

She accepted my offer with glee, and sat down with paper and marker moments later.  Before I had time to fold even the first shirt from the pile of laundry next to me, she'd written Mom and Zoe in shaky, semi-legible marker letters. Then she wrote Nana (Charles's mom).  Then Dad.  

Then..."Mom, how do I spell married?"


"What about bear?" And then lion.  We spelled them all, and she wrote them all.

Suddenly, she popped up and picked up all three of her papers.  "Mom! Mom look! I wrote a story! It's a book!"

Her story went something like this. 

"Once upon a time, Mom and Dad were there. And so was Nana.  And then Mom and Dad got married. And then there came Zoe. And then one day, there was a bear. And then there was a lion. And that's the end.  See, Mom? See? I wrote a book, just like you!"


It's not Shakespeare yet, but if I'm going to measure my own success today, and my child's, it's going to be mighty high.  And I can't quite stop smiling about it yet.

October 19, 2011

Decisions, and publishing, and why I'm in a muddle...

Ok, I swear, I'm not trying to be all kiss-the-teacher's-butt here. I just really want to talk through an issue for a few, and my teacher happens to be the launch point.

(For the record, it feels REALLY WEIRD to say/type the words "my teacher" again.  Seriously. It's been nine years since I last had a teacher.)

Anyway, the teacher of the class I am taking is the fabulous Jenny Milchman, and one reason I call her fabulous is because she uses her own blog, her own real estate on the Internets, to allow other authors to post about their "Made It Moments."  You know, those moments when they looked around and said, "Man. I am writer. Hear me roar."  She's been adamant that you don't have to be a traditionally published author (i.e. agented, published by a big-time house with a big advance and tons of royalties) to have "made it," and today she stood by that statement by posting a Made It Moment for a guy named Scott Armstrong whose first book, independently published via Create Space, comes out today.

Did you hear that? He published his own book with the help of a company based right here in Charleston.

Not only that, but he started his book in early November, 2010, because someone (in his case, his daughter) challenged him to participate in NaNoWriMo.  Sound familiar? Yeah, that's because his story is also mine.

But here's the place where we diverge. He self-published.  He's going to start making money from his writing TODAY.  He's a published author TODAY.

Me?  The first time I finished my book, I immediately tried getting published via the traditional route, got nowhere, and realized deep inside that my book wasn't ready.  And I've been adding and editing since July because of that realization, working hard to make my book something of which I'll be extremely proud.  Because really...I wasn't, back in July, proud at all. But I'm getting there now.

And here's the other thing.  Even back in July, my book wasn't terrible. I've had people read it and love it who have had no visible reason to lie to me about their enjoyment. It would have probably sold some copies, and I could have moved on.

Scott's story really COULD have been mine. 

This is not to say that his book isn't as good as mine or that I work harder or anything. His book is amazing, I'm sure, if Jenny allowed him to post on her site.  I'm just...struck by the parallels, and wonder what compelled him to go directly to the independent publishing route, and why I feel compelled to go the other way. 

And I do still feel compelled to go the other way.  I want an agent. I want an editor. I want a publishing house to support my work.  Even now, even though I know exactly how slim my chances are to get all that.

It's all sort of thrown me into a bit of a muddle this afternoon, to be honest.  

Because...that could have been me. I could be a published writer by now. But I made the choice not to be.  I'm still making that choice daily.

Isn't that bizarre?

October 17, 2011

The King's Speech and other items

Did you know that, a long time ago, I used to write book and movie reviews on Charles's blog, the beautiful Ashcan Rantings?  

Really! I did! I think I was trying to get good at it so I could write reviews for a local paper like Charles used to, but I never actually pursued that path. And since I'm typically about five steps behind everyone else on getting to the theater or reading the Next Big Book, I gave it up as just another silly hobby.

Anyway, if you ever want to see any of that (there are some good books and movies listed there, if you need a suggestion of what to watch/read next), just filter his blog on the Leah tag and you'll find me.  Just don't judge - I was barely getting started on the whole writing thang, and trust me, I'm still learning how to write decent sentences, even now.

But, that said, I realized late last week that one reason I enjoyed doing the reviews was because they gave me a place to talk about things I enjoyed.  And since I miss having that outlet, I hope you'll humor me as I start to talk in a more review-like way occasionally here on this blog.  I doubt I'll ever do formal reviews, but might as well keep recommending good stuff to my readers, right?

So...to that end...have you seen The King's Speech yet? (See above comment re: being five steps behind the times on almost everything.)

Charles and I got it from NetFlix months ago (I'm not joking - it arrived probably in April? And we've been meaning to watch it ever since...but it just so happens SOMEONE is always working at night!!* So we rarely watch movies anymore.), and we finally had the time to watch it on Friday night.

Let me tell you.  As a history freak who specializes in WWII, to me this was an amazing picture of a turbulent slice of time.  I mean, the monarchy-stuff was all incredibly interesting, too (I didn't know a British king abdicated his throne over an American divorcee!!), but the pieces of the movie that focused on the moment Britain declared war on Germany were incredible to me.  So gut-wrenching, knowing what we now know, to see the face of a young, Army-age man as he realizes he's going to have to go to war, and possibly die, for his country.  

Also incredible were the costumes! Ohmigosh, I love the clothes of the upper-crust society in the 20s, 30s and 40s.  Man, I want one of the future-queen's hats from that movie - soooooo beautiful and elegant.  

And really, so much has been said of the performances of the lead actors, but will it ever be enough? Colin Firth is so good at stammering that I feel uncomfortable for him. Geoffrey Rush is pushy, hysterical and lovely. And if I could BE Helena Bonham Carter for just one day, regardless of what role she's playing...well, that would be an insanely cool day, wouldn't it?

So anyway,  there you have it. I recommend The King's Speech HIGHLY to anyone who likes cool docu-drama-thingies.  It's a two-thumb-upper, indeed. 

*That person working at night? That's me. 

October 15, 2011

My book list! It's shrinking! My neurosis! They're growing!

First of all, today I am THRILLED to report that I have finally, after months and months of labor, finished reading George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons.  I finally know all the plot-points that have been giving my brother heartburn for a few weeks, and I, too, am mourning the (possible - you never know with Martin) loss of a beloved character or two. 

I called it "labor," as the book was over 900 pages and was a hardback, so that thing was heavy!  And holding it up while being all sleepy and cozy in bed was difficult!  So as sad as I am to say goodbye to the characters of Westeros and Meereen and Bravos (eek, I'm nerding out again), I'm happy to put that heavy tome away and pick up something...lighter.

At least, it's physically lighter, anyway.

Because, after months of reading an epic fantasy, what's more soothing than Meta Maus, the collection of stories behind the creation of the heart-wrenching, Holocaust-based graphic novels, Maus and Maus II


Hey, at least it's a tiny book, comparatively speaking. It doesn't hurt my arms to hold it up.

I started it last night, and was immediately reminded of:

1. Why I think Art Spiegelman  is so brilliant; and

2. Why I think my neurosis are getting worse lately.

Ah, neurosis. Why do you plague me so? You could be from writing, you could be from having a kid, but you are there and you are making me crazy!!

My first issue yesterday came during a meeting at work.  We were talking to a client who happens to be at a boarding school, and for some reason I started obsessing over the idea of sending little Zoe to a boarding school.  I started imagining what it would be like. How I would say goodbye. How she would cry, and I would cry. And then I realized...I was literally writing a scene in my head.  A horrible, terrible, sad scene that is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE! But there it was. A simple work meeting, and I was off and running on a new short story.

Then last night, when I started reading Meta Maus, I read about a man who was a prisoner at a concentration camp who had to choose between saving his own life, or that of his father and child.  He chose himself.

And suddenly it was all I could do to not cry, imagining being the person who had to make the choice. His life or his child's? His life or his parent's? How can someone live with themselves after choosing themselves over their CHILD? So there I went again, imagining. Picturing. Composing.

Yeah, it kept me up for a while. And when I finally fell asleep, it was a sleep plagued with a nightmare so vivid, so detailed, that I know I have ANOTHER story to write.

Yep, it's never going to end. 

October 12, 2011

Stuff I'll do...after the book is done

I...never feel like I have free time anymore.  I...also never knew I had a Type A personality before.  But...if Zoe is a-bed and there's no laundry staring me in the face, chances are I will be writing or editing.

I have begun to obsess over these two things to a point that I think might just be a teeny-tiny bit unhealthy.  Because really, I get a little...high-strung...if I have not worked on my book on any given day.  Seriously, if it's a "day off," you will probably find me rocking back and forth in a corner.

Tomorrow...tomorrow...I'll be more productive tomorrow...it's only a day away....

So today I started thinking about all the free time I'll have when I'm done writing/editing my book.  It'll be like Christmas every day, won't it? Without all the pressure of Unedited Pages staring at me through my cute pink netbook. Without all the stress about "will it or won't it get published someday?"  Without all that darn work to do!

It's pretty amazing to think about all that free time. So then I thought about...what would I DO with all that free time?  Here's my top 10, in no particular order.

1. Take up knitting. God forbid I not have some project going on - I'd be asleep on the couch by 8:00 every night!

2. Pay more attention to my husband. He's in a sadly neglected state these days, since as soon as Zoe goes upstairs, I am frantically yoga-ing or searching for my laptop to begin my night job.  Maybe he'd like it if we watched more movies together like we used to.

3. Read all the damn books that have been collecting on my book pile. Among them: Feed, World War Z (no, I have NOT read it even though it's the top book in my current zombie-genre), Meta Maus (Charles just ordered this for me and it looks AMAZING), The Marriage Plot (another recent purchase - Charles is reading this one first, though), and maybe even Matterhorn.  Really. The pile. It's out of control.  And I WANT to read all these books, but I haven't had time!! 

4. Read On Writing by Stephen King.  There, I said it. I know it'll be helpful.

5. Find New and Exciting Dinner Recipes that Zoe will actually eat!  

6. Cut my dog's toenails. They really need it, but it's an hour-long task, and I don't have an extra hour to kill.

7. Work out. Harder. Longer. Kick serious ass. (I know I said I already work out at night, but I could kick it up a notch or three if I didn't feel compelled to sit down and work afterwards!)

8. Sleep better at night? I hope? Sometimes I get so keyed up by what I'm writing that I have a super-hard time falling asleep that night. If I wasn't writing, would I sleep better? Hmm...

9. Solve world hunger.  Yeah, I just thought I'd throw that out there. It could happen!

10.  And when I finish all that? Or, more likely because there are already new voices and characters in my head, I will...write. Another novel? Some short stories? Who the hell knows. But rats, I will get right back into my writing. 

So it goes.

October 10, 2011

Generation gap, my ass...

I remember being a kid and thinking grown-ups, especially those of my grandparents' generation, were some other race, possibly from Mars.  They were so different from me. They liked such different things, like smoking and watching CNN and reading the newspaper.  I liked running around and watching cartoons and reading the comics. 

It seemed like I'd never understand them, and they'd never understand me.

But it occurred to me yesterday that technology is completely modifying the perceived gap between generations.  Before she passed away, my Nana could email.  ALL IN CAPS, so it felt like she was maybe, almost yelling at you, but still...there were emails. We communicated on a whole new level thanks to those emails.

Then last night, something kind of cool happened.  

My parents and Charles's mom came over for Sunday dinner (venison chili - YUM!).  Zoe (reminder: she's three) was SUPER excited to show her Sassy, Pops and Nana how she could now play Wii bowling. Ohmigosh, it was such an exciting time for her, to be able to show off how she could press the right buttons, throw the ball and even occasionally get all the pins down. 

The first game was between Zoe and Charles, her coach.  That made sense...the tech-savvy dad helping his tech-savvy daughter show off her new skills.  I love watching the two of them play because Zoe is just as happy when Charles gets a strike as when she does, and for her, one pin or ten, it doesn't make a difference.  If something falls, she hops like a little toad.

Their game ended, and it was time for another. This time, Sassy stepped up. To be fair, Sassy is pretty tech-savvy herself, and she does have a Wii at home, so this wasn't entirely unexpected. But still, it was a game they could play on almost equal levels. In this case, the technology tool was the great equalizer (although Sassy did come away with the W).

Then, after their game, Zoe turned to her Nana and said, "Nana, do you want to play with me?"

Nana...doesn't always get along with technology. She'd rather be outside in her garden (weather permitting) than inside with her computer, but she is a little on the competitive side. So she stood up and let Charles show her how to play Wii bowling.

By this time, we were all laughing hysterically, cheering each successful throw and teasing about each gutter ball.  We were three generations under one roof, from very different parts of the country, united by one simple, easy little game.

I know lots of things can bring people together, but think about it. A three-year-old keeping up with her grandparents? And her younger, hipper (hahahaha) parents? That's pretty stinking amazing if you stop and consider.


In other news, I'm still plugging away on the book.  I have a handle on how it's all coming together, it's just going to take some time. I'm still pleasantly surprised by my writing on the latter two story-lines - I guess I really have learned something in the past year or so.

Phew. My one year anniversary of being an unpublished novelist is coming up.  Maybe I should celebrate?

October 7, 2011

Learning by learning, dammit

Last night marked an historic occasion.

I, Leah Beth Soltis Rhyne (whew), went back to school! I'm like Rodney Dangerfield only...not...so....gross...I hope...

Heh, seriously, though, you know I was nervous to get back into the whole classroom-mode thing, even though in this case the classroom was my bedroom.  I literally had back-to-school stress dreams all week. You know the ones - you show up to class, thinking you're on top of things, only to find out the class has already been meeting for six months and tonight is the final exam, and you don't even know what the class was about? Yeah, I had that one twice this week.  Add that to some random work stress, and you can imagine how high strung I was by last night.

And...I was out of wine.  So sad. 

Class started at 7, so by 6:45 Zoe and I were watching little videos on my little laptop so I could be ready for when the Great Video Call came to get things rolling.  Sadly, when it came at 6:53, two things happened.

  1. Zoe melted down completely at being unceremoniously kicked out of my room, and
  2. My sweet little pink netbook couldn't handle the stress of a conference call (although I've made a million Skype calls to my brother in London on this same box), and it all but exploded.  Literally, I think there was steam coming out of the USB ports. 


But, luckily I am used to technology glitches (seven years in the software industry has taught me something), so I didn't panic completely and instead bullied Charles into giving me his Mac (RIP, Steve Jobs), then installed the latest version of Skype on his machine, and was back up and connected by about 7:15. Phew.  And I didn't completely lose it.

Of course then, even after Zoe calmed down from her initial breakdown, she totally freaked out at the prospect of going to sleep without my help since I was JUST IN THE OTHER ROOM.  It was difficult to focus on anything while I could hear her crying, but Charles was the hero of the night and did his best to make her happy, so eventually she settled down.  Next week, I will try bribery...

Anyway, the class itself was mostly introductory, but it seems like it's going to be a great group. Lots of different genres covered, lots of different writing/editing styles.

I'm still fighting against the advice I'm now getting from two places (Charles has been telling me this for months, and now my teacher is saying the same thing) to "drawer" my book for two months after this latest round of edits.  I know it's the right thing to do...I get that. It's just...I'm impatient.  But still..I think I am going to try it out and see how it goes. So for anyone waiting for my next draft...you may just have to wait a little longer.

But maybe not.  Maybe I'll send it out first...and then drawer it after...

Or maybe I'll see how the next seven weeks of class (and editing) go.  How will it turn out? It's a mystery, but that's the fun of writing, isn't it?

October 5, 2011

On (almost) meeting your heroes

Several weeks ago my mother called me. 

"Did you hear?" she asked excitedly. "Elie Wiesel is coming to Charleston!  He's giving a talk at the Sotille Theater on Sunday!"

I almost dropped the phone.  Elie Wiesel? Really? The man who survived Auschwitz, who came away from that Hell-on-Earth experience with enough presence of mind to become a great, insightful writer of his generation?  Coming here? To Charleston?


I've wanted to hear Dr. Wiesel speak since I was a teenager and never had the opportunity, even growing up an hour outside New York City, where I'm sure he spoke frequently.   I've only seen one Holocaust survivor speak in public (and I wrote about it here on my husband's blog, years ago), and it was enlightening and impossible and horrible and amazing. Since I've spent much of my life researching the Holocaust, the possibility of going to see Dr. Wiesel in person was almost overwhelming.

By the next day, though, we knew it wasn't meant to be. Apparently only friends of the "benefactor" who'd made Dr. Wiesel's visit possible (i.e. shelled out tons of cash, I'm sure) would be allowed into the actual theater for the live talk.  Tickets were available to see a live video broadcast at various spots downtown, but unless you knew the nameless benefactor, you couldn't actually be in the theater with Dr. Wiesel. And I'm not connected enough to the Charleston Jewish scene (or at all, actually...I don't belong to a synagogue) to have any idea who the benefactor was...


I wanted to be in the same room. To breathe in the same air. To smell the same smells and hear the same sounds.  He's a legend, after all.  At least to me.  If you never have, go read Night now.  As soon as possible.

So I didn't get to see Elie Wiesel speak, but I admire him still, and love that even at 83 years old he is still making a difference through his Foundation, and he's still educating the world, one speaking engagement at a time.


So...I didn't get to hear Elie Wiesel speak, it's true. And he's a hero to me, that's also true.

But I have more than one hero!

I've spoken numerous times on this blog about how much I've always admired the writing skill of one Stephen King.  His yarns have rocked my world from the time I was eight years old and saw bits of The Shining for the first time.  Then when I was ten and the TV-movie-version of It came out.  Then when I was thirteen and it took me a full school year to actually read It, because I kept having to tuck it away under my bed because it scared me so much.

Well. This year, Mr. King is stepping out of Maine to attend the Savannah Book Festival, and guess who got tickets to see his closing remarks on the final night???


Charles and I are the proud owners of tickets, and we are so excited!! Not only will it be our first full weekend away since Zoe's birth (she'll stay with my parents, which I think they will LOVE!), but we'll get to see Stephen King! Live and in person! We'll breathe the same air! Smell the same smells! Hear the same sounds! 

Maybe get him to sign a book? Can it really be true?

Anyway, I'm going to be bubbly-excited about this until February, and you can be sure I'll be on the lookout for the perfect dress for the occasion. 


Ah, heroes.  It's good to look up to people.  Along that line, I'm sad to hear of the death of Steve Jobs.  He changed the world. Not everyone can say that.


P.S. At the insistence of several people on Facebook and Twitter who encouraged me to "grow a pair," I did sign up for the Published and Polished online class! It starts tomorrow! I'm so nervous I could yak!!

October 2, 2011

Those who can do...teach?

I posted a few weeks ago about making a connection with a super-sweet writer who was teaching a class up in New York.  I'd initially emailed asking if she'd ever do anything online, and she responded with kind words, great enthusiasm and a lot of helpful information.

After a few emails, the chain dropped and I honestly thought that would be the end of it. Because really, what published, working, functional writer has time for a little wanna-be girl like me?

To my great surprise (and delight...yes, I just said delight), I got an email from her last week saying she'd found a way to take a new class online.  It will be all about getting your novel in publishing-ready format, with all the spit and polish needed to make it really shine.  There will be discussions by other published writers, tips and tricks for what works, and lots of information on the many options suddenly available in the publishing industry (Self-publish? Hmm...yeah, I've thought about that...).

Of course I'm interested! Of course I want to take this class! I've just finished (again) my first draft of my silly little book (tentatively titled, by the way, The Zombie Killers), so any tips on getting it ready for submission would be excellently timed.  Right?

Of course!

But then...even though I'm excited, and even though I really, really want to do it...part of me is TERRIFIED. Because I haven't been in a classroom setting since I graduated college (ooof!) nine years ago.  Because I'm literally making this whole "be a writer" thing up as I go, flying by the seat of my pants, hoping to make it work on my own. (Holy cliches, Batman!!!) Because I have NO IDEA what I'm talking about half the time.

I don't want to pay a ton of money to sit at my computer and sound like an ass! And really, the chances of that happening are pretty damn good!

Plus, there's the whole issue of the class being during Zoe's bedtime...how much do you want to bet that almost every week, I'll have to go answer some crazy three-year-old request or give an extra 32 kisses before she'll go to sleep for Charles?   The odds are good in Zoe's favor, I'd say.

But I really really really want to take this class.  The teacher seems amazing.  She was recommended by an literary agent.  She's published lots of short stories, and she sold her first book (it's coming out next year).  I'd be stupid to pass this up.

I think I just need to grow a pair and sign up...all will be well....and if I sound like an ass? Well, it wouldn't be the first time, and it won't be the last.