Archive for June 2010

The Kid and his Clothes

June 29, 2010

Last spring, Prince was invited to a party.  It was a Sweet Sixteen party for a friend at school.  It was a very formal, Black and White kind of deal.  A soccer fiend who is at his most comfortable in athletic shorts and a tee shirt, Prince is also very particular about his clothes.  Shopping trips with him are horrendous because of that.

Slacks, shirts, shoes….socks…..it doesn’t matter.

I guess I should have realized what I was creating when I insisted – from an early age – that his clothes at least….match.  What he was wearing never seemed to bother him except when it came to socks.

He gave me fits about socks.

He didn’t like the seam at the end of the toes so we searched and searched to find some without seams.  And that was back in the olden days before manufacturers began catching on to his fetish.

It went on for years.

And then around mid elementary school he started having opinions about everything he wore.  The fabric had to feel right.  The colors had to be nondescript.  The neck had to be plain.  The length had to be just so.  The brand had to be the right one.  He drove  drives me nuts.

It hasn’t changed.

So since he didn’t have anything that was appropriate for the party, I wasn’t looking forward to a shopping trip to remedy the situation.  Neither was his Dad.  Neither was he.  But one evening  just before the big event we stopped in at my  favorite clothing store (and my only charge account) to ‘just look.’

He had nixed the idea of a jacket or suit right from the get go.  Slacks were on sale.  We found a black pair that he liked rather quickly.  Moved on to the shirts.  We had decided that a black shirt with a white tie would be the ultimate of cool.  White tie?  Check.  Since he was feeling so good about finding slacks and a tie so quickly, I snatched up a couple of black shirts and sent him off to the dressing room to try them on before he had a chance to say ‘not now.’  His dad and I waited outside. 

A shirt came out.  A very nice, silkish black shirt.  ‘Put it back.  Its too…black.’

A second shirt came out.  A heavier, cottony shirt.  “Put it back. It doesn’t feel right.”

HRH and I were rolling our eyes and shaking our heads and…almost….snickering about the dilemma.  We were never going to get out of there.

Meanwhile, the Princess, who is generally bored and disinterested on shopping trips that don’t involve pet stores or sporting good stores or skateboard anythings, meandered through the mens wear by the dressing rooms and asked, ‘why are we buying clothes for him?’  She stopped dead in her tracks when we said he had been invited to a party.

‘Someone invited him to a party?’

‘Wait….someone invited him to a party?’

Another shooper was standing by and covertly keeping an amused eye on my daughter’s obvious confusion.  I thought she would lose it when the Princess’  eyes got even wider as I reminded her about the  formal sweet sixteen party for his friend.

‘Wait……a GIRL asked him to a party?  Now why would she do that?’

Honestly, Princess, you can’t figure it out?

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FanFiction.Net

June 28, 2010

I am not quite sure how I happened upon FanFiction.net.  I think I was reading something written by someone else that I found at a fan site.  All I know and understand is that this web site kicked my long dormant writing needs back into high gear.  I had been floundering as a writer.  And as geeky and as wierd as this post may sound to the ‘normal’ reader and/or writer, I will be forever grateful.

I have written before about my long standing fixation with the television show ‘ER’ and how difficult it was to break a 10 pm Thursday night ‘habit.’  I have written about taking a 3 day dream trip to NYC to see ER’s Maura Tierney strut her acting chops on stage.  And I have written about how important writing has been to me since I was a child.  I think – somewhere in these posts – I have written about original aspirations to be a television writer.  I am ALWAYS rewriting things other people have written if they don’t turn out to my satisfaction…..or if I want to know more.  And that is the case with Fanfiction.net.

You can choose a television show, movie, play, anime etc. to write about.  You can continue a story line or character you are intrigued with or you can invent your own.  You can write the back story of a situation or character to round it out in your own mind.  You can post your story for others to read.  Readers can post a review of your piece….or not.  At any rate, the program records the ‘hits’ on your story so you can see of people are reading it. 

And THAT is very intriguing. 

I wrote seventeen pieces for the ‘ER’ section of Fanfiction.net during a  two and a half year period.   There are a number of other things posted on various fan sites that were part of writing ‘competitions.’  (Writers are given the same perimeters and a set time to finish and post a piece to be voted on or judged.  It was fun to see the different perspectives that evolved in that manner.)  I experimented with different styles of writing, discovered a lot about myself as a writer and had a tremendous amount of fun.  I gathered a small circle of internet friends who also wrote for ‘ER’ – people who gave me advice, support and lots of positive feedback.

All of my fan fiction stories revolve around this couple:

Abby Lockhart and Luka Kovac

Brought to life by actors Maura Tierney and Goran Visnjic.

Writing for established characters is as easy as it is challenging – especially when you are working with characters as well played as these two.  You can picture them in your mind because you have seen them on screen.  You know their verbal inflections, their physical cues, their emotions, their history.  The trick is to stay in character and make your readers see the same things you do.  And its tricky.

Abby and Luka had  lived a hard scrabble life in Chicago from seasons 5 to 14.  Co-workers, lovers, ex-lovers, attached to others, unattached, co-workers, friends, lovers again, parents together and finally married, seperated by an ocean, seperated by a blackout, together again.  Both were gone by the third episode of season 15…..living happily ever after far from County General’s emergency room madness.  My first piece however, was written after the  episode ‘All About Christmas Eve’ in December of 2006 in which Abby – in the last few seconds of the show – informed Luka that she was pregnant   The series then went on a holiday hiatus.

For THREE weeks.

Without knowing what their outcome was going to be, and extremely frustrated about that, I began the story, The Things We Do, and posted chapter one on December 22nd.  Reviews were favorable and people were reading it.  I posted another chapter.  Three months and twenty one chapters later, it remains the most popular of all of my Fanfiction pieces.  I am not sure why.  Its the one I stumbled the most on.  And yet it offers a blissful Luby life that definitely did not play out on the show.  That happy Kovac family – an AU or ‘alternative universe’  story line – has been continued in The Rules of the Road, A Camper’s Guide to Family Fun and Christmas in Croatia.

While writing The Things We Do, I began to realize that there was a relationship that I wanted to see on the show and didn’t.  And that was a friendship between Abby and Susan Lewis.  So I started the story All We’ll Ever Need – continuing the AU story of Susan Lewis, her husband Chuck, their son Cosmo and her niece Susie.  I was writing both of them at the same time. 

Susan, as brought to life by actress Sherry Stringfield, is fun to write.  I love Susan.  I love her smile, her laugh, her snarky sense of humor, her self confidence, her attitude…..and her hair.  Even when its messy it looks good.

Seriously.

Her niece, Susie, was last seen on the show as an infant and heard on the phone as a 5 or six year old.  I imagined her into an incredibly bright and beautiful 13 year old and she has evolved from there.  Their story intersects with the Kovacs in Camper’s Guide, Christmas  in Croatia and plays out side by side in Duplex

Back stories fill in some of the ‘holes’ that a television drama is unable to spend time with.  Lockhart IS Better tells the story of Abby’s first marriage to Richard, who has popped up on the show at various times.  Letters From Luka is how I imagined his life before showing up on a boat.  Its basically a series of letters to and from his parents in Croatia as he travels through the Great Lakes on a sailboat.  I kind of lost my muse on that one.  It still needs a clear ending.  Wild Cat  began as a piece for a competition and the first chapter is about baseball and the Luby baby’s first birthday.  It has evolved into the back story of Abby’s parents – Maggie and Eddie.  It also needs to be finished.  I was having trouble writing about bi-polar symptoms and needed more research.

Sometimes a character serves as a stepping  off point also.  In Primary Colors the back story of a little girl from the season 12 episode, ‘The Human Shield’ intertwines with Abby and Luka’s.  Juliette Gogolia, played ‘Sydney’ a kidnap victim that was central to the entire episode and brought the Luby love story back into play.  My ‘hook’ was the use of primary colors interwoven through each of the seven chapters.  There was something red, yellow and green/blue mentioned in each of them.  Kinda cool to write…and a bit sad.

Another minor guest character in the episode, ‘No Place to Hide’ – Ruthie Poole – became a central character for Abby and Luka’s story about their life after ER.  The show moved Abby and Luka to Boston, where I picked up their story in This Time.  I really enjoyed writing this because it was fun to have the family created by the television writers carry on with their lives.  It was a place to write about some resolutions.  Especially between Abby and her mother – a television relationship created between Tierney and Sally Field.  It’s their ending as I imagined it to be.

When I was struggling with descriptive writing, I started the story Just Looking.  Its basically a series of scenarios in a day in the life of Luka and Abby that uses descriptions and just the words ‘just looking’ ‘ throughout.  It is an ongoing challenge….and fun.

My favorite story – and in my opinion the best one – was the fifth story I wrote for Fanfiction.net.  I started it after the season 12 climatic ender – 21 Guns.  If you didn’t see it – it was pretty spectacular.  The ER is shot up (Quentin Tarantino style), Luka is strapped to a gurney with a tube in his throat and a pregnant Abby is last seen passed out on the floor in a pool of blood.  That’s where they left fans for the SUMMER!  Spoiler information was still weeks away and I was going nuts.  Seriously nuts.  So I began writing a possible story line.  In Heartache,  I did the unthinkable.  I killed their baby.

I think I was the only fan fiction writer to take the leap and do it too.

I put almost 28,000 words into that 23 chapter story and got a whomping 135 reviews.  This doesn’t count the private e-mails I received before I removed my address from the site.  People were ready to lynch me.  How dare I imagine such a  sad end for a BABY????  The first chapter is a heartbreaker.  Then, like most of my work, it evolves into a study of a relationship that has gone through the worst and comes courageously out the other side.  It brings Abby and Luka full circle at County General.  It has also received a FanFiction ‘Hall of Fame’ award….and I love it.

Seventeen pieces at FanFiction.net have garnered me 211,762 internet ‘hits.’  I have accrued 804 reviews and am still getting them today….four years later.  And I am writing my own – original – stuff again.  I am creating characters and building scenarios and writing descriptions and designing my own plots.  And I have FanFiction.net to thank.

The website  is a fun place to ‘hang out’ if you have time on your hands.  Or if you like to read.  Or write.  There are over 5,000 ER stories posted there.  Glee has almost 7,000, Charmed has 12,000, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has 39,000 and Punky Brewster has 4.  And there are more categories for movies and books plays, games comics and animes.  Some written stories are outstanding and others are not.  All of them are someone’s attempt to share ideas……and write.

Leave a review for the writer.  It really does make our day.

As for me, I really need to work on The Mouse and the Mayflower again.  I have my families from the Duplex at Walt Disney World.  I keep seeing the esteemed Dr. Luka Kovac wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears…..or a Goofy hat.  Gotta go write about it.

Titles are links that should take you to the web site for that story.  Enjoy!

Pictures….or ‘Shots of My Mom’

June 15, 2010

Had to pull up some pictures today.  The kiddos need new pass cards for their new soccer seasons.  This requires two of the same shot – 1 and a half by 2 inches.  School pictures would do but do think I can find any recent ones??  Of course not.   So I sorted through my digital files for just the right ones to crop and copy/paste and print.  Prince is VERY persnickety about having his picture taken AND which pictures he allows the ‘public’ to see.  It amazes me that he is so shy in front of the camera.  Poor kid was ALWAYS in front of one camera or another from the get go.  I have boxes and boxes and boxes of prints to prove it.  Poor Princess was watching us go through them one day with a perplexed frown on her face.  She wanted to know where all of the pictures of HER were.

I have many, many of her as well…..but they are stored in digital folders and on disks.  She is my cyber child in more ways than one.  We bought a digital camera shortly before traveling to Russia thinking it would be easier to deal with there…..and it was.  But I have been printing her pictures lately – and tossing them into the box where I have been collecting all of our photos.

My sister and I grew up with a box of pictures.   It was a flat cardboard thing that was stored in the cubby space over my parent’s cedar lined closet in their bedroom.  Some were fastened into black paged photo albums but most of them were loose.  It was a fun, rainy afternoon activity to get the box down and pour the pictures in the middle of the living room floor to sort through them.  We did it often when I was growing up.  At least twice a year or so.  Every picture had a story or a ‘remember when…’ attached to it.  We would pass the time sharing stories, asking questions and totally forgetting the names and places of the older ones.  Sometimes I wish I had written some of this down.  Some times.

In this recent gathering up the pictures for the box I purchased, I ran across some wonderful old ones of my parents.  I was telling my Mom about the envelope I found –  which I think are  batch I secretly slipped away from HER box when they were packing up to move to Florida years ago.  Shhh.  Don’t tell….   I commented on what a gorgeous little girl she was.  I had to repeat that for her.  Several times.

“I never thought that I was particularly pretty,” she said. “Everyone always fussed over C (her older sister).  I just came along after.”

Wow.  But then I think about my own gorgeous 14 year old and her fussiness about the ONE hair that stands up on the top of her head in this year’s school picture or this week’s crop of teen acne….and the truely handsome Prince’s fussiness about what he allows me to film.   (‘Ten seconds, Mom.  Just TEN seconds.’)  And I think about my own reluctance to sit in front of a camera.

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we never see for ourselves what other people see in us.  Its a shame because I wonder how this person’s life would have transpired had she known for the beginning how really, really beautiful she was…..and is?  Would it have been any different?

Here is my Mother at four, eight, ten (my favorite!), fourteen, nineteen, twenty-something….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

…..and newly in love with the Charlie Brown wannabe that became my Dad. Wonder if he really knows how lucky he was to get such a catch?

Probably not.

Why?

June 8, 2010

HRH and I were out driving today as we ran a few errands….in the middle of which the Princess called to say she was out of her medication for the asthma nebuelizer that we keep at school.   We made a quick trip home for the meds and took them to her middle school so she could take a treatment.  On the way home we passed by a large local farm and saw cars lined in the field by the seasonal selling stand.  People were standing in line – waiting patiently – for this…

There are only a few things in the food realm that I have absolutely no desire to ever – EVER – have cross my palate ever EVER again.  This food is one of them.

I used to urp up spinach even when I was a baby getting it from a jar.  My mother was constantly trying to feed it to me because I was always testing  low in iron.  And I continued to urp it up unwillingly.  She finally gave up.  I never had to eat it…..and I barely forgave my cartoon hero for chugging it straight from the can.

But Popeye had a friend who loved hamburgers and so did I so the spinach thing was redeemable.

Almost.

And  I have long made my peace with spinach.  I enjoy it tremendously today…..as long as it isn’t cooked.

As long as it’s leafy and green and speaking to me from a salad bowl.

Spinach I can handle.

But NOT asparagus.

I don’t care if its fresh or canned.  I don’t care how it is cooked.  I don’t care if you DO know of a wonderful way to prepare it that is GUARANTEED to delight me and get me over this phobia.  I don’t care if its wrapped in bacon or dribbled with lemon butter or served with the juciest cut of sirloin or grilled to perfection with saucy ribs.

I don’t care.

Asparagus can stand in the field and bloom into delicate little flowers and

I.

WILL.

NOT.

CARE.

I can’t stand the way they taste…..or smell….or look.

And I can probably thank my mother for that.  And my cousin.  SHE is the one who loved asparagus. 

And I happened to love liver.  My mom’s liver recipe.  Liver…pan fried to stiff sweet perfection and drowned in carmelized onions. Yum. 

My cousin hated liver.  I hated asparagus.

So my mother’s dinner time dilemma of pleasing one and not the other was always solved by serving both….at the same time.  While D complained of the liver and relished the asparagus, I was loudly whining about the asparagus and chowing down on the liver. 

I could never understand WHY she just didn’t serve either when we were together?

Just like I have no idea WHY people will stand in line – in the rainy cold – to fill their plastic bags with fresh asparagus from the farm stand?

Why?

The Evolution of a Soccer Mom….finally!

June 5, 2010

Long ago – when they looked like this….

 ……..I was a reluctant ‘Soccer Mom.’  I wasn’t really ‘into’ the sporting world any more.  But I dutifully drove them to practices and games and tournaments.  I washed uniforms and stressed about grass stains and mud stains and the safety of cleats and headers.  I dutifully dealt with smelly shoes and smelly socks and smelly jerseys.  I dutifully provided the oranges slices and the juice boxes and the snacks when it was our turn.  I dutifully sat in the sun/rain/snow on the sidelines and rooted for goals and corner kicks and all of the ‘assists.’  I dutifully insisted on fair play and good sportsmanship and demanded that my children always listen to – and respect – their coach.  And I dutifully pretended that I understood and could actually SEE an ‘off sides’ call.  Heh.

Fortunately we have been blessed with good coaches who demanded the same sportsmanship and respect from all of their players…most of the time.  And that was a good thing because I……was a reluctant soccer mom.

Soccer is a year ’round sport it seems.  Fall season.  Indoor seasons.  Spring season.  Summer training/camp season. 

I was a seriously reluctant Soccer Mom. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I was very proud of my children.  Very proud of their interests.  I supported what they wanted to do.  However, I would rather have had them obsessed with something in the fine arts…..painting or drawing or dance or  instrumental music or drama.  Something that I had a vested interest in.

This spring, however, I have been enjoying watching my children play.  I mean REALLY enjoying watching them.  This is our 12th spring of soccer clubs.  I don’t think I have ever been involved in ANYthing ‘organized’ for 12 years. 

Seriously.

 But this spring – for some reason – their games seem more….exciting….and I don’t want to miss one of them.

I get to see them like this……

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 …..and it makes it all from all of those years seem worth while.  To see your teenagers pounding down the length of grass – working WITH others  – skilled and dedicated to doing their very best……makes it all worth while.  All the moves and the grooves and the kicks and the stops…… the fluid sprints and powerful strength seems….awesome.  Its been fun to see them work through their mastered plays and  frustrations and ……joy…. in doing something satisfying to them.  Its fun to see their excitement and satisfaction and enthusiasm when another team member achieves something they have been working on.

I am a Soccer Mom.

An enthusiastic Soccer Mom.  At last.

I am also dismayed.

This weekend is the last of the spring season games and you know what?  I can’t wait for the next round of games and practices and tournaments to begin. 

Seriously.

Now if I could just get them to pick up their own stuff once in a while…..or maybe clean their rooms???