Friday, December 31, 2010

Love and Rockets, aly

Best. Holidays. Ever.

The only alligator I've seen so far (left)
In 5 hours, the hus and I are going to complete our stretch of low-key holiday cheer (minus the Superbowl - a party we could actually host this year, with a TV that's finally bigger than a medicine ball - Valentine's Day, and Cary's March madness birthday - when he finally catches up to me and has to cut the ageism) ... We'll be heading downtown to ring in the new year the best way we know how, in a favorite place with plenty of liquids.

We have the game plan - the food, the transportation, the day after - all sorted. 2011 may be an odd year that bothers my even-number preferring self, but after zero travel, zero coordination, delicious holiday food I obviously didn't cook, not a speck of snow, and not a single person around to clean the house for besides our sloth-like selves, the close of 2010 will be quite content if it doesn't end in a swirl of sick. Even so.

It's becoming ritual that we begin the weekend with a cheap meal and a trip to Walmart for the next week's groceries. We also have to look at the entire wall of TVs and their tiny, often incomplete or incorrect spec labels, scanning for deals, and then end up getting stuck in entertaining aisles like flowers, bikes, and end-caps home to squishy pillows and musical cards sung by Hoops & YoYo.

We bumped up our grand night out to Thursday this week. So tonight we could take advantage of the childless New Year's Eves that may not last many more years. I really just couldn't wait any longer to try Taco Bell's new burrito. Seasoned fritos inside. Shit fuck yeah. What other treats will they cook up in the years to come? Will I one day eat M&M nachos with my teenager(s)? Some things never need change though. Like the Special K loaf (er, cottage cheese loaf, depending on what kind of Adventist you are) Cary makes me make even though he now knows perfectly well how to cut, mix and bake the thing.

Side note theory - the clientele at our preferred Bell seems to conduct drug deals with shopping bags from the mall next door.

Side note irritant - Publix, our only hope for veggie meat chili and soyameat for the darn loaf doesn't carry either. I'm a little disappointed the pastor here didn't know where exactly to buy canned veggie meat. Shouldn't that be mandatory for ordain-ation?
Hmm, canned meat. Now that doesn't sound so good. Some people like saying, you know, soy meat products are really high in sodium... Thanks. Did you know the CDC reports 9,000 people die every year from food poisoning, which typically involves MEAT... I like meat too though. But here we go: it's good when pilots have high enough blood pressure to keep blood in their brain when they're pulling Gs. So yay, we have an argument. So we special ordered our favorite sodium-filled fake meat - side note of happiness.

To reward the people who have read my blog this year, even just scanned its words and photos beyond tweets and Facebook albums, below is what happens when your aviator husband comes home with all his flight gear; he wants to do a photo shoot. Okay, I know, that's not really a reward - and I'm the one who really wanted to take the pictures.

But there will also be a Lady Gaga-esque Side of Honeydew surprise early in 2011. Stay tuned. (Maybe suck it up and physically follow or share me. Keep commenting - let me know what you want to see next year: title change? (still don't get it?) less about writing? more about marketing? more about sex? lies? videotape?) The unveiling will rock your world. Or just mine. Sorry again. But that's what blogging and reading blogs is all about. Selfishly-oriented observations about life for anyone willing to click, read and hopefully learn and relate - the honest to God good goal of writing.

She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife dog
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time
Til touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man

And I think it's gonna be a long long time...

Love and rockets,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Don't you love it when people say to just anyone with a few good or funny stories, you should write a book?

100 posts ago, (yes, I know I should spell out 100 if it's at the beginning of a sentence, but as long as we're blogging and not writing literature, and reading blogs and not newspapers, we might as well keep throwing correct writing to the wind ... So creativity can whistle in easily).


So, 100 posts ago, the first Side of Honeydew was sliced, around New Year's Eve 2010. One year later, my resolution to blog every day turned into more like a couple times a week. But a schedule was learned, habit and style explored. And only now do I fully realize the best things to write about when you're 28 years old are worth living first.

How else would you broach even a pathetic approach to the next great American novel with only a few decades of life under your belt? Like Annie Lamott says, "write where you are, write what you know." As much as writers understandably fight this advice sometimes, when you need to overcome writer's block - often enough to marathon your way through a plot line's thousands of words - the only way I know how is with the most honest writing. This is when your melting pot of experiences and self-deprecation comes in handy. And hopefully rings most true.

As 2011 dangles twinkly on the horizon, I think, bring on some more living - because that's the only way I have anything to say that comes close to being anywhere near worth reading. Unfortunately, I draw the line at "fucking and punching," Hank Moody. However, Jhumpa Lahiri - the youngest author thus far to win a Pulitzer at age 32 with the Interpreter of Maladies (2000), a short story collection to boot - is giving me a run for my money. Or lack thereof. Both of which make me want to channel Hank more than ever. Darn scruples.
Speaking of money and morally controversial television, the hus and I are enjoying our best purchase ever with things like Treksgiving (wholesome) and the Dexter season finale (gruesome).

The 52" HD LED Sharp Aquos (1080p, 120 Hz) and Black Friday blue-ray player have me watching television without glasses (maybe 3D one day though), blissfully streaming Netflix, and appreciating things like skin bumps and couch-side seats to Laker games.

It's been worth every second since 3 a.m. that dark morning, even curbside at the Navy Exchange, forced to NaNoWriMo in a small beach chair surrounded by weirdly humid November air.

When there's time - or when we're so sick of staring at computer screens and cockpit diagrams - we laze on our gratefully hand-me-down and luckily plush couches to watch The Next Generation in the best kind of marathon to run. Sometimes Top Gear. The American version is coming along. Sometimes Shake it Up!. When Cary's not in the room. The result is though, I can barely turn on the midget TV in the bedroom. It's painfully small. I best work harder to avoid death by squinting if I ever want to watch TV horizontally again.

With the novel in edit mode, and freelance jobs underway, I picked up a quilting project under the very kind hand of a friend willing to help. It's quite fascinating really. And relaxing. The fabric store filled with happy, knowledgable seamstresses. The hum of the machine. Family Guy playing in the background. It's not fucking and punching, I know. But it's stitching and bitching, as my oracle says.

And Cary picked up Primary Flight Training. The week after Thanksgiving, he began primary school at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field. It's been less intense than API so far, but more of the same. Long days. Heftier studying in segments. A lot of tests this coming week. He's specifically in Training Squadron 3 (VT-3), a Red Knight. And the Knights were assigned the T-6, officially.

He'd kill me for saying this, but the Red Knights wear red T-shirts under their olive green, canvas-y feeling flight suits - and it looks really cute, er sharp; it matches their VT-3 velcro patch and everything. It’s also Christmas-y. This is all very important, you see. For pictures and memories and Top Gun reenactments.

Whiting is home to other cooly named flyer squadrons including the HT-8 Eightballers, made up of helicopter pilots. And the HT-28 Hellions. I seem interested in this now, but when Cary was showing me around Whiting Field for the first time, before his mandatory class on marriage in flight school (hee hee), I just wanted to go eat a sandwich. But I really am proud. And full now. He’s leading an exciting life that one. He should write a book.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Resurrecting Rhett

Outside of a Dog blogger preps for November
Last November was the longest month of my life. Well, maybe second to that last month of marathon training - in effing December or January most likely - when you run 40 plus miles in frigid weather, looking at desolate, frozen fields, which make you wanna kill yourself that much more. And when you make it back inside, and your ears are burning from warming up too fast, and you wanna rip the soles of your feet off so you can rub their muscles better - and your hips and knees feel like crunchy peanut butter and applesauce... Yeah, the 10 days shy of the grand Noah's arc-dom of novelizing period was second to that.

My blue period, like any other's, was inspired - but not without more bumps than snazzy thoughts. The NaNoWriMo community was pretty cool, constant threads of encouragement and write-ins at local coffee shops and bookstores, where unbeknownst NaNoWriMos probably wandered the stacks - and great pep talks from people like Lindsey Grant and Lemony Snicket.

Their words made me wanna keep going. Because I knew I wasn't alone in the whirly writing and reading worldAnd like they say - if you can touch just one person, with even your crappy rough draft of a story or script, even with comma misuse and overused words and errors like forgetting about the dog you gave the main character, be-lovingly name Rhett after Scarlet's beloved. (And here one wastes time marveling at how clever they are at name-giving and hyphenating.) But you still have to resurrect the red, furry guy in chapters 1 through 5. Keep the faith, they say, because the payoff is worth it. And it is. All zero dollars of it.

Because here's what I learned over the course of 50,375 words in no particular order (wink) -

  1. Writing is all about you. And them - those like you. Who want to read what you write because they like what you do, whether they admit it or not. It's fun. Pure and simple. For everyone involved. Clean and wholesome. Well, kind of.
  2. Ideas gathered over months, even years, can be very helpful when you have writer's block. Names, places, phrases, situations. String some of them together, weave them in - for stuff that resonates and carries your plot from one point to another. Take a break. Go people watch. Visit another city, another house. Because the world on pages mirrors the living no matter how hard we may try to fight it.
  3. Person (you know, first, second, third) and tense are important to decide early on. But if you wanna change your mind, go for it; that's why God invented Search & Replace, and applications like Bean - Mac freeware made with writers in mind.
  4. If you think you've got the right stuff, or, more importantly, just absolutely love typing your whimsies into a glowing screen for a couple hours a day, it might be worth trying out or investing in another program or two that can help you map your story - so you can avoid having to bring dogs back from the dead, or skip a date you promised, or miss out on a character that would have been a dream development, or a thought that could be the very last poignant sentence before THE END.
  5. Don't edit. Don't criticize or chastise. Don't worry about people reading it. Just write what you know, where you are, and what you like - you can answer to the peanut gallery later when you're paying an agent and editor to do that for you.

Now I raise my non-stemmed wine glass to the people who kept me going. Kept asking, kept counting right along with me, kept overly inflating my amateur ego. Thank you oh minds I love to pick, actions and stories I love to mimic. Keep on. Live long and inspire.

Aly Lawson's first novel, The Innocents, will be available at the Lawson house come spring, in the form of a freebie, keepsake proof - which I will probably hide upon anyone visiting with the potential of asking after it.