Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ants in my pantry - Come join the fun!

It started with ants. Scurrying around my pantry floor in confusion—not me, the ants. At first I ascribed it to general ant confusion. You know, “Why are ants so confused?” “Because all their uncles are ants!”

I swept up the chips, cereal, and pretzel bits from the floor—along with a goodly number of ants, wiped the area down with an ammonia-soaked cloth and went to bed.

This morning they were back—en masse. It would take super effort to get rid of this problem—I would have to actually clean my pantry. My children steer clear when I embark on such a drastic measure—they want to stay out of the line of fire. Whether I’m tossing out cellophane wrappers containing two stale crackers and a trio of ants playing poker with the crumbs, or throwing out a verbal barrage of cursing their general pig-like forages through my pantry leaving snout-droppings behind—they run for cover.

The good thing about cleaning out your pantry is finding long-forgotten food—or better yet, candy that has fallen through the cracks. Did you know that washing ants off M&Ms takes off the color, as well as the ants, but the candy-coated shell s, while losing their bright hue, still protects the chocolate inside?

I also discovered why you shouldn’t rinse off cookies. Even I won’t eat food that has dropped into my kitchen sink. In my defense, the fudge frosting from the cookie wasn’t technically touching the sink—the soggy pile on which it lay protected it from contamination.

I finished off the package of barbeque chips that expired July 4, 2009 and washed those down with Doritos crumbs that were packaged in a “Win Super Bowl 43 tickets” bag.

After eating my weight in stale food, I searched frantically for some Tums. I noticed the ants were no longer running around in mass confusion. They were in an organized line—marching. I could almost make out little tiny picket signs. I searched for my husband’s magnifying glass and, kneeling down, I could almost make out their words of protest.

Now I don’t speak “ant” and reading it isn’t much easier, but I’m pretty sure the signs read :

• “Check your expiration dates!”

• “Deport the Giant Woman before she eats everything!”

• “Buy something good!

• “You’re stealing food from our little ant mandibles!”

• “Ants are people, too!”

I certainly felt in the minority. The LARGE minority. The HUGE minority with a can of Raid in my GIANT phalanges. A few minutes later, the plague of ants was gone, leaving behind a few of their little “anti bodies”. Kind person that I am, I gave them a decent burial crunched in a wadded paper towel in the “casket o’ trash”

The worst thing about ants in your pantry—when you’re on the floor sweeping and hand mopping to eradicate the food on the floor, you notice the dirt on the baseboards. When you wipe the dirt off the baseboards, you see the splashes of grimy hand and drool prints on the lower half of the door. When you disinfect the brownish streaks you’re pretty sure were chocolate, you touch the doorknob and realize either gum, honey, or the innards of something sticky prevents you from turning it. Next you’re chipping off something green and hard from the wall that you pray is a gummi-bear torso and not something else. Before you know it you have been sucked into the CLEANING VORTEX, churned about like a half lucid Martha Stewart who envisions a centerpiece on yon table when you’ve finally cleared the computer parts, ten days worth of mail, your last full deck of cards with one now missing, a dirty sweatshirt, your sons gym shoes, and the motor of a dismantled lawn mower. At least there was a partial Diet Coke under the mess.

I realize I needed an intervention (a.k.a. a nap). I go to the only place I know for sure is clean—the pantry. Lying on the floor I look up and notice a clear baggie, wedged in a corner, unseen from my former towering heights. I reach up, and—behold—two chocolate-covered cinnamon bears who have been hibernating for who knows how long. Arctic polar bears, judging from the white sheen of the chocolate. I pop them in my mouth, enjoying the stale chocolate soft-crumbly-chewy texture. Aahhh. Cleaning has its rewards!

Friday, August 6, 2010

2nd Alpha reader report

Again, ignoring sage advice from well-seasoned writers ...

My dear, sweet M-I-L returned the edit of the technological thriller manuscript my husband and I co-wrote.

Her number one complaint? Parts were childish.

Hello? Mom? Your child wrote it...Isn't childish good in this case?

The secret to happiness is:

Take EVERYTHING as a compliment!

I've been told that if your mother loves your manuscript, agents and publishers may well hate it; therefore, if your mother hates the manuscript, agents and publishers will likely love it!

P.S. stands for "Positive Spin" - try it!

P.P.S. I am a proponent of hyperbole and propositional fallacies

P.P.P.S. Thanks Susan--your input really is valued!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Be careful what you ask for--and WHO you ask!

One bit of advice always given to writers: Don’t give your book to friends and family to critique—they’ll tell you it’s good even if it’s better suited to line the bottom of a hamster cage.

I agree that advice is good, but not applicable in the case of my daughter—an alpha reader for the manuscript my husband and I have jointly written.

It is a technological thriller.

She is brutally honest.

She was the first to finish reading it, and she was the first to give her feedback—which went something like this:

“Your characters need better description”
“I didn’t like the ending, it was stupid”
“It needs more romance”
“I wouldn’t throw it away, it has potential”
“I think it is about 60% ready”
“Did you copy the plot from I-Robot?”
“FYI—you have too many acronyms”

We were a little confused. I tried recapping what I was hearing:

“So, except for the ending, the middle, and the characters, it was good?”

“Yeah, I liked the first chapter a lot.”

This is the same girl who asked me, right before I gave a talk in church—“Mom, do you know you have a mustache?” (What does she think I was waxing all those years?)

The very child who queried—“Mom are you embarrassed to go to the store because you’re so fat?” (Was it sitting in the middle of cookie aisle, burying my face in a bag of Oreos that clued her in?)

I guessed we asked for it!

It is our first attempt at co-authoring and we handle criticism very differently:

Me: Oh, I’m a failure! I guess we need to re-write everything. Should we re-name the characters? I should give up writing—except for the first chapter.

My husband: We’ll keep sending out alpha-copies until we find someone who likes it. Where’s the ward directory?

So if my husband calls this month to come home teaching—just don’t answer the phone. As for me, I’ll be at the store—in the cookie aisle.