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Mar. 14th, 2011 | 09:04 pm

 I had this strike back on the pregnant comments idea.I wanted to take all kinds of pictures of me doing unpregnant things.

Like playing football.

Rock climbing.

Moving couches.

Payback, baby. Payback to all those people who think it's okay to rub my belly and say things like I discussed last week.

But then that's not really payback when you think about it. And also, I can't play football, rock climb or move a couch right now. Plus I'm not (seriously not) one of those cute pregnant girls who should pose naked on the front of magazines or wear tight pants or bikinis or talk about how they can run five miles at eight months pregnant. I'm regular. Huge regular.

But still.

I was thinking if I really did do that, I could maybe write a book to go with the shots. Like a picture book? But then that'd scare kids. Or a memoir--about my belly. Or a coffee table book. Because you know you want a book of large pictures of an extremely pregnant woman laying out in your living room.

Anyway, that occurred to me. The other thing that I've been thinking about is books. Recently I read this article on the top 100 books by PW. (Yay to Ally for making the top childrens books). I was thinking how I hadn't read very many of the books on the adult list so I decided to check some out. I picked one author in particular that I felt like I should read--like as a book person, I should have at least read on of their books. I went to the library and checked it out.

It was a fat book. A very fat book and I felt smart just holding it. I was excited to get home and start reading. So that night, after the kids were asleep, I dove in.

The writing was beautiful. So beautiful and I didn't know a lot of the words--I should have been looking them up as I read but I didn't. The book was about a family in the midwest that was fractured--the kind of stuff that I normally like. Normally. But something was missing. As I read, I was trying to figure out why I could not get attached to the story. I kept reading, hoping I would like it more. Hoping I would be more engaged in the action but it was not happening. Finally, by page 300 with 300 pages still to go, I closed the book.

I am not going to finish it.

I don't usually do this. And it's not for moral or ethical or whatever reasons that would make me seem noble. It's just that, I did not care for one character in the entire novel. Not one. I mean they were well-written. and round.and full of flaws. But I didn't like them. Or care what happened to them. How can that be? How can a book with such acclaim have characters that are so frustrating?

I normally would keep going. Keep reading for the sake of saying I read it. To feel good about having read it even if I don't like the characters but can appreciate the writing. But lately I've grown impatient. I want to feel something when I read. I want to feel a range of things when I read. I want the book to change me, to pull me into the world, to make me think about my own life when I read. This book didn't do that.

How do they judge the best books of 2010? How do you judge the best books? What do you want out of a book? Because really, an author is asking a lot of his/her readers. He's asking them to spend hours with him. Hours. He's asking them to put aside other things, other books, other people, other responsibilities and spend quality time with them.

How do you choose your books? What do you want out of the experience? Why do you read? Do you ever close a book? For what reasons?

And last of all, what books do you feel everyone should read?

Okay. That's all.

I'll post of picture of me skiing in a bikini next week. Because that is totally happening.

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Pants

Mar. 7th, 2011 | 09:50 pm

 Lately I’ve been a little sensitive about my size. I am a pregnant lady, no doubt about it. And this is my third time being a pregnant lady so I should be used to it by now.

Right?

Every day last week, every day, sometimes twice in a day, someone has made a comment about my size.

“Whoa! Are you having twins?”

“Holy cow. Any day now, right?”

“Oh my, you are gigantic. Does it hurt to walk?”

One lady in church, across a crowded room said, “Oh my gosh, Ann Dee! You are huge! When is that baby coming?”

I sort of flipped out right then.

TWO MONTHS! I yelled. TWO MONTHS!! ( the whole room staring at me now). AND IT’S NOT TWINS! I added, for effect.

She nodded. Okay. Okay.

I turned, my head held high, and waddled out of the room.

In the car I told my husband about it.

I may have over-reacted a few minutes ago, I said. About my, umm, size.

You? Over-react? Never, he said.

Ha ha ha.

The day before we had been out raking up leaves, getting ready for spring. I’d leaned over to pick up a pile and my pants split. My only comfortable semi-wearable maternity cargo pants. Split.

I gasped.

Cam and the boys looked at me. What? Cam said.

Look,I said, showing him the hole.

What?

LOOK!

You just did that?

Yes, I just did that.

Then he started laughing. LAUGHING.

You’re laughing?

Uh huh, he said.

You. Are. Laughing.

He nodded. Kept raking. Why would you wear those pants to do yard work anyway. You should have changed into sweats or something.

The boys were staring at the hole in my pants and I was seething.

Later. When we’d moved to the front yard, I said, sweat pants?

What?

Sweat pants.

What?

That’s what you say when your pregnant wife has an extremely dramatic event happen to her.

Extremely dramatic event?

Extremely.

What did you want me to say?

Maybe something like, oh I’m so sorry. Or, it doesn’t matter. It was probably just the way you bent over. Something, you know sympathetic. Why do you have to always respond to me like a man?

He looked at me. Why did you split your pants like a man?

Let’s all take a moment to think about this question.

What does this have to do with writing? Nothing. So why am I writing it? I don’t know. Did I start laughing after he said this? yes. Do I think I’m a little irrational and overly-dramatic? Maybe. Does that make me a better writer? Probably not. I just wanted to warn anyone who may see me in the next eight weeks . . . beware and whatever I say, don’t take it personally. I’m not responsible.

xo.

P.S. Who wants a writing marathon?

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Your Life

Feb. 14th, 2011 | 11:23 pm

 Today I am going to make a heart-full plug for keeping a journal.

1. I don’t keep a journal.

But I wish I did. I wish I did for so many reasons. Like I want to remember what it is like to stay up all night with my little guy who has a fever and tells me he loves me but he is not better and he needs a popsicle. I want to remember how frustrating it is to not have a shirt in the house that fits over my belly. I want to remember how some days I want to crawl into my bed and never get out.

2. My mom didn’t keep a journal. Except she did. There is one. And then one more. The first one is when I was little I think. It’s short. Like half a notebook. I haven’t read it yet because I don’t know where it is. The second one is when she started to forget things and thought she should write stuff down. I haven’t seen this journal. My sister just told me about it.

I want to keep a journal because it would make me a better writer. I was walking through the parking lot at Macey’s on Saturday and I watched a guy stare at a girl. She was working there, picking up carts and he was staring. She didn’t notice. Or maybe she did because she kept flicking her hair and what if they knew each other? What if he was waiting for her to get off her shift and she was flirting? Or maybe they used to date and now they don’t and she has a new boyfriend but secretly she wishes she were still with Stanley, the boy in the parking lot, because he always looked at her like that. Or maybe he’s a stalker. The possibilities are endless. I wish I wrote about the people I saw everyday. The things I thought. The way I thought them. Did I think this way five years ago? Did I have the same daydreams? Am I different now because I drive a mini-van?

3. My mom was one of my best friends.

When I was a teenager, our church group always was always trying to get us to do service. Service, service, service. Most the time, I was fine with it, (except when we cleaned up that one park and I was picking up things and I was naive and didn’t realize what I was picking up until one of my leaders started yelling at me to put it down and then everyone turned and looked at me and I still didn’t get what I was holding and then when I found out I almost died) so usually I was fine with it. But going to visit old people. That always got to me. We’re going to go sing at a retirement home, they’d say and my stomach would turn. There was something about those places. The smell. The sadness. The wheelchairs. The extreme awkwardness I felt when I stood in their room and what was I supposed to do?

Tell them your name.

Hi. I’m Ann Dee.

Ask them about their childhood. They love to talk.

So I’d say, what was your childhood like? And some of them loved to talk. Loved it. Others didn’t. And I’d stand some more. When we would finally leave I’d be relieved. Glad not to have to go back soon.

There were some things I didn’t understand back then. Some things I still don’t understand. First of all, all of us matter. All of us have stories. Millions and millions of stories. And they all should be told. Maybe in novels, maybe in memoirs, but for sure in journals. Everyone, all of them, all of us, we are someone. I forget that sometimes. Like the lady who flipped me off the other day when I guess I cut in front of her? Did I? And then why would she do that? But she’s a person and she was probably having a bad day and I am not the best driver and what is her story? I forget that everyone is living out their own world. Their own tragedies, their own triumphs, their own everythings. We are all so much alike. and different. But alike. We should be writing it down. We should be talking more. We should be telling more. So that we never feel alone. So that we aren’t scared of people or assume things about people or discount people or like people (ha ha ha).

4. I asked the people at the place where my mom spends some of her days what I should buy her for Christmas. Actually I made my husband ask because I don’t do well on the phone–especially with caretakers for my own mom. Can you tell me what my mom likes to do these days? Because I have no idea.

They told him coloring books. For 3-5 year olds. She loves to color.

I wanted to scream. They don’t know my mom. They don’t know the mom who made me learn how to drive a stick shift on the steepest hill in the county even though I was begging to go somewhere flat and even though the clutch was burning out. They don’t know my mom who sat the piano with me for hours forcing me to practice the same run on the violin over and over again. They don’t know my mom who worked for years as a teacher and a librarian–stern but kind. The type of woman you never ever ever wanted to disappoint. They don’t know my mom laying in bed with us reading the Secret Garden. They don’t know my mom.

Or maybe I don’t know my mom. anymore. Sometimes I wonder what is real. I want everyone to read her story. I want everyone, the people everywhere, to know her. KNOW HER. And then, I want to know her. I want to know my mom now. I wish she could keep a journal. I wish I could find her. Find out where she is. Find out what she is thinking. Find out if she knows that I’m so sorry. I’m so so so so sorry.

I think we should write books.

But I think we should also write our lives.

I ramble. Sorry.

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Valentines Message

Feb. 7th, 2011 | 08:25 pm

I'm going to be here more.  I hope.  In any case, here is a cross post from Throwingupwords :

I feel extremely flattered by Carol's Monday post for so many reasons. I will name just a few:

1. Carol Lynch Williams said she was jealous of me???? ME?

  • the woman home schooled her five beautiful girls all while writing a gazillion amazing books.
  • all her girls worship her
  • she is a gifted teacher and runs a mega-successful conference that helped me get my start (you should all go, it really has it all)
  • she has like four books coming out in the next year or so and the one coming out in March got this STARRED review in Kirkus:

This absorbing portrait of a 13-year-old girl and her struggle to cope with her mentally ill mother transports readers to hope, fear and horror.

Lacey just wants to be ordinary. She wants to have a friend and to work at the library, but her apparently psychotic mother dominates her life. The girl must take care of Momma, instead of the other way around. When her mother disappears, Lacey confronts not only her own fears but also her mother's desperate illness. Momma constantly talks to Lacey's dead "Granddaddy," who tells her to do bizarre things. Granddaddy's latest request, however, might get both of them killed. Far more frightening than a ghost story, the novel achieves complete realism as Williams shows readers events through the eyes of a young girl whom the child-protection system has failed. Nevertheless, Lacey has so much spunk that readers are sure she'll survive. The author has crafted both a riveting, unusual suspense tale and an absolutely convincing character in Lacey. The book truly is miles from ordinary, in the very best way.

Outstanding. (Fiction. 12 & up)

  • I have read this book and it is amazing. And scary. And outstanding. Everyone should read it.
  • She is a strong wonderful mother and person and writer and everything.

2. Carol said I love my boys and my orange couch is proof? Ummm, my orange couch is covered in ball point pen which I have no idea how to get off. Does this prove I love my boys or I'm a lazy mom? Either way, it was nice to get something good out of the ruined couch ordeal.

3. The book that Carol is talking about, the one that I have been blah blahing about for months is not done. In reality, it's a mess. The fact that Carol spoke so highly of its messiness was something I needed. It needs so much work. SO MUCH WORK. But I figured some things out and it's nice to have someone say that maybe it's going to finally be a book that people will read.

So there are more reasons why the Monday post made my day, but most of all, it's nice to have good friends who cheer you on. I think this is especially crucial for all of us writers. We need each other. We need to be able to commiserate and complain and laugh and cry and reassure and all of that. Otherwise we'd never get anything done. Novels are hard hard hard work. Anyone who says differently is lying or crazy or extremely gifted and we won't talk about them.

I think that's all. It is Valentines week and I had planned on talking about kissing and romance and how I am so so so bad at writing that stuff but I'll save that for another time. Instead for this Valentines message I'd just like to say thank you. Thank you to all my friends. All my dear dear dear writer friends, my non-writer friends, my blogging friends, my reader friends, my non-reader friends, my student friends, my teacher friends, my agent friends, my editor friends, my everybody friends. You all have saved me over and over again.

Love and chocolate,

ann dee

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My Return.

Mar. 16th, 2010 | 10:09 am

I am here because I miss it. And my journal misses me. Remember when you used to apologize to your journal for being gone so long? I'm so sorry I've been gone so long

This weekend there is a writing marathon.
If I don't reach my goal, bad things are going to happen.
If I do reach my goal, good good things are going to happen.

I also ruined some perfectly delicious King Arthur Cinnamon Rolls with Grapefruit zest. I am sad.

I think that's all. I hope I see you soon.

Love, Ann Dee

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Blog with my friend Carol Lynch Williams

Dec. 7th, 2009 | 10:21 am

I never blog but I want to. I really want to. I was talking to Carol (of The Chosen One fame) and she said she had the same problem. So we decided to see if we could guilt each other into it by blogging together. We're going to have readers of the week, book reviews, writing exercises with giveaways, author profiles/interviews, guest bloggers and then regular blog posts where i talk about diapers and people.com. I hope we can really do this.

Come see.
If you want to be interviewed/donate a book/have a book reviewed/discuss your personal issues, just let us know.

I'm going to try to update my livejournal more often too. Since this is my first blogging love.

Okay.
The end.

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.

Nov. 11th, 2009 | 10:51 pm

No one knows this but sometimes I hide from my kids.
No one knows this but sometimes I sleep with my bra on.
No one knows this but sometimes I let myself get squashed.

One time everyone thought I was sad but i wasn't sad I just didn't feel like talking. Or laughing. Or eating.
I didn't.
But I wasn't sad.
We have never lived inside my head, she said. How do we know?
Because we're all human, he said.
So?
So.
So I don't know what it tastes like when you brush your teeth and you don't know what it feels like when my kids slaps me in the face.

Do we talk to each other? Do we not talk to each other? Have you ever sat in a room full of people and picked at your jeans and smelled the onions coming off you and watched while things got hot and tight?

Oh.
Okay.

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Letter #1

Oct. 5th, 2009 | 09:32 am

Dear My Life,
How are you? I'm okay. We've been living at my sister's house for awhile because our new old house is not done or near done or will be done any time soon. That's fun. Sister is very nice and they have a new new house with heat and soft carpet and a big large TV that plays pinocchio and Tom and Jerry and Mickey Mouse on demand. Heaven.
One day my husband had a birthday. It was last week. I got him a big mac to celebrate. With cheese. Does cheese come on a big mac? Did I make a fool of myself at the drive thru when I said "Big Mac with cheese?" Didn't think about it at the time, I just really wanted to surprise him with an extra special treat. With cheese.
Another day I took a shower.
And then another day we went to Thanksgiving Point and saw the new soil to market exhibit that is MORe than awesome. Plus there was a worm farm, some chocolate milk and baby rabbits.
None of these days had any writing. Except for the grocery list that was actually quite literary. I tried to show not tell.
Oh and I had an awesome interview with lovely friends Sara Zarr (New Book ONCE WAS LOST released on that very day!! Can't wait to read it) and Emily Wing Smith last Thursday. It will show up sometime in Salt Lake City Weekly. My hair was very sleek. 
I think that's almost all of everything.
I hope things are going well for you. Like you aren't so depressed that you wish you were rollerskating in hot pink sweat pants instead of scraping off wallpaper and being impatient with the people you love. I also hope you are eating healthy foods that are made with things like carrots.  Maybe we should get together soon for lunch or a swim or something.
Much Love and Marriage,
Ann Dee

P.S. Please attend to two year old who is crying that he has "a lot of boogers, Mommy. Get them, get them."
P.P.S. Remember how Debra Schubert has a blog and had an invited guest on her blog named Daisy Whitney and Daisy listed Everything is Fine as a part of her YA indoctrination list? Remember that? That was the best. Thanks Debra and Daisy. Do you want to come to lunch or for a swim too? Okay.


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Mom

Sep. 14th, 2009 | 09:27 pm

The first day of college, I almost threw up. I don't even remember what the classes were, what the homework was, how huge the professors seemed. All I remember was I wanted to die.
So I called my mom.
BAWLING.
I'm coming right now, she said.
What? I said, mid-sob.
I'm coming to get you.
Fifteen minutes later I was in her car.
Where are we going?
You'll see.
What about work?
It's fine.
Then she pulled into the movie theaters.
My mom and I saw GI Jane at 1:30 in the afternoon on a Monday afternoon. We even got popcorn.

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See?

Aug. 25th, 2009 | 09:20 pm

"Just as you cook with what's in season, you write with what's most congenial to your life at that moment; you go with what your natural tendency is." Ian Frazier

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