Friday, April 23, 2010

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Monday, April 19, 2010

A Good Son

Two days ago, Jake decided he simply must get rid of his uni-brow. Let me just say, it’s not a debilitating, socially unacceptable uni-brow. It’s the uni-brow of a half Puerto Rican, half pasty-white kid. Sure, he could use a tweeze—but he’s twelve. Must we begin those types of cosmetic rituals already? I just got the kid on deodorant, for Christ’s sake!

(see blog titled: Discussion Hygiene)

The un-brow discussion went on for over an hour. After outlining the two acceptable ways in which I could rid him of the pesky hairs between his eyebrows, he decided that waxing was out of the question, as well as tweezing. He even mentioned they both seemed like torture.

Yes, my sweet. Welcome to a woman’s world!

“I can shave it!” he exclaimed.

“Do NOT even think about shaving it, Jake.”

“Why?” he whined.

“Because, you could slip and look like your Nanna did for over a year. She accidentally shaved too much and then panicked and shave them both off. She had to draw her eyebrows on, and when they finally did grow back, they were never the same again.”

“Yeah, that’s funny.” He laughed.

“Not if they’re your brows, it’s not.” I sipped my mocha latte and decided I needed to put all of the Bic Shavers® in the house on permanent lock-down. It was going to be inconvenient when I needed to shave my legs, but probably better safe than sorry.

He sat quietly for a moment, pondering Mario from the (Mario Sunshine© craze) on the computer screen.

“I could be careful. I won’t slip, Mom.”


“But Mom, Mario doesn’t have a uni-brow.”

Ugh! Jake wants to be Mario. It’s bordering on pissing me off at this point.

“Of course he does. He's Italian. But he's a CARTOON so you can't see it. He's got a penis too, but you don't see that either, do you?"

“Mom, don’t say penis.”

“Fine, don’t shave your eyebrows, and we’ve got a deal.”

Another recent conversation involved a note I received from his teacher about him being insubordinate:

Jake wouldn’t pick up his hand sanitizer in class when directed to do so.

Mrs. D

“Jake, why wouldn’t you pick up the hand sanitizer if it fell on the floor?”

“It was all leaking and gooey. I didn’t want to touch it.”

“Um, yeah—it was leaking HAND SANITIZER, not raw sewage. Geeze.”

“I wanna’ be home-schooled.” Jake says this on a weekly basis.

“Yeah, that’s not gonna’ happen.”

“Why not?”

“Because, Jake. The one thing you really need as an autistic person is to learn to move around in the world with other kids and adults. That’s more important for you than the reading and math and stuff. If I home-schooled you, you’d never leave the house.”

“I like that idea.” Jake brightened only long enough to hear my retort.

“I don’t.”

He constantly tells me he just wants to be normal. Normal, normal, normal. If I could purchase some normal for the kid, I would have done it long ago. But normal can’t be bought, stolen, or cooked in the oven. If this normal business is going to be the death of me, Jake’s obsessions and compulsions are going to be the death of him.

“I had weird dreams last night, Mom.”

“What about?”

“Mrs. Faber was wearing pajamas at school.”

“Yeah? What did they look like?”

“I don’t remember. But I was doing the wiener-tickle thing…okay, okay, don’t say anything I don’t want to talk about it.”

His nightly questions about legendary creatures, whether or not the doors are all locked, and the validity of heaven’s existence have begun to take an alarming turn:

“Mom, would you or Dad ever push me off a cliff?”

“No, honey. Why would you ask that?”

“Mom, you were right. I think I need to get medication for these bad thoughts in my head. I just want to have a normal brain. I don’t want to ever hurt anyone, but I was in the shed playing with my sword and shield and suddenly I got the bad thought that I might throw it at my Dad or Bob. It devastates me, Mom. I have guilt in my heart. I’m sorry I didn’t turn out to be the kid you wanted.”

Oh God… My poor baby.

“Honey, you’re even better than what I imagined when I was pregnant. You’re sensitive and you talk about things that other kids would not say out loud.”

“I’m sorry I’m not the best kid I could be.” Jake wasn’t crying like I felt like doing. He was simply apologizing for what he presumed were his shortcomings.

“Jake, please understand you’re the best kid any mom could ask for.”

“Even with my autistic brain?”

“Yes, in fact I love your autistic brain the most. You’re the best kid, ever.”

“What about Jaxson?”

“Him too.”

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, buddy.”

“Are you sure I’m the kid you wanted me to be?”

“You’re much more than any kid I could have ever imagined. I love you just the way you are.”

“I don’t want to disappoint you.”

“You never disappoint me, Jake. You try very hard, every day. Harder than any kid I know. Do you understand that?”

“Yeah, I do have to try pretty hard every day.”

God, but I love that boy…

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Agent/Writer Snark Duel

Over the span of a year, in an effort to lure a literary agent into representing me, I have recieved my share of rejection letters. In fact, I don't have a computer chair. I am, at this very moment, sitting on a stack of rejection letters. I've also got a 'rejection ottoman' for my feet and my 'rejection desk' is almost complete.

Rejections aren't fun, but as writers we simply must not engage in bitter responses to rejections we feel are unfair. We must suck it up and stifle the urge to call the person on the other end of the e-mail an ass-hat.

Rather than tell them what an idiot they are for not liking your work, perhaps something like this might be in order: "Thank you for all of the 'tough love', which has now sent me forth into the querying world armed with a better knowledge of what a proposal is. I will now and forever be grateful that you pistol-whipped me into submission.'

Not everyone is going to like your work. No biggie. Take what you can learn from the situation and move on.

My partner in crime, soul-sister and person I plan on taking over the world with, Kat Nove, had an inspired idea after reading a particularly witty response I sent in response to a rejection letter.

So, without further ado, here is the High Priestess of Hilarity, Kat Nove—playing herself—while I have the distinct privilege of playing Hortensia P. Schlemecker, agent extraordinaire.

Subject:  Query
Date: May 6, 2010

Dear Agent,

I’ve read everything your client has written and I’m a huge fan, weighing in at approximately 465 pounds. It occurred to me that if you enjoy representing an author who writes in that particular genre, I’m your man, or I could be if you’ll float me a loan for a sex change operation.

Attached is a list of my published work in obscure zines, along with the first three chapters of a book of observational satire, which I promise to finish the moment I send this email to you.

Please, please, please, please consider representing me, because if you don’t, the next thing I write will be a thinly disguised personal ad in Chubby Chasers Magazine. SWFFBG (single white female fat butt guaranteed) Will Put Out for Thick-Sliced Bacon.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours in desperation,
Kat Nove
Subject:  re: Query
Date: May 10, 2010

Dear Ms. Nove,

First off, I have quite a few clients, so it would have behooved you to point out which one of them you were referring to. Second, it’s always best to at least make your query appear as if it’s not being sent to fifteen-hundred other ‘Dear Agents’. (Hint, hint—I have a name. Use it.)

Did you even check out the agency website? Oh, how I wish noob (agent-speak for newbie-slash-boob) writers would follow submission guidelines. It certainly would have made this self-flagellating bit of prose easier to wade through. 

What exactly is your book about? Your query gives absolutely no indication. You appear to have a fun sense of humor, but I have no clue as to the message you’re trying to impart. Is this merely a ‘look at me’ book? I can’t even tell whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Perhaps this was your lame attempt at writing in the ‘voice’ of your protagonist. God, I can only hope that is not the case, (another noob mistake) but the query is just psychotic enough that it could very well have been your intent, however misguided.

If you’d like to try this again, I’m willing to play along, but please keep in mind that I’ll only humor you one last time. I recommend that you look at our blog and click on the link that discusses a real proposal/query (depending on whether your submission is non-fiction or fiction). And also peruse our submission guidelines.

Hortensia P. Schlemecker
Schlemecker Literary Agency
Subject:  re: Query
Date: May 10, 2010

Dear Hortensia:

You don’t mind if I call you Tense, do you?

Thank you for pointing out the link to submission guidelines. My work station forces me to sit back in a comfortable chair with my feet on a stool and the keyboard and one of five cats in my lap. Therefore, my bifocals often prevent me from observing links, typos, misspelled words and other assorted details I always assumed fell under the job description of copy editor.

Now that I’ve leaned over with my nose to the monitor and read your submission guidelines, in the spirit of mutually beneficial camaraderie, let’s begin again, shall we?

My book of observational satire, If I Can’t Wave Like a Princess, I Must be a Loser,features essays which had your client, Cecily Riverdance calling me “the whole demented package.”

From the Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k) work-related rant contest winner Crap World - to my contention that government-mandated vasectomies are necessary in For the Sake of Humanity, Step Away from That Sperm - each essay illustrates that nothing is immune from my sarcasm. Not world leaders - Ruling the World by Playing Drunken Volleyball; not Scripp’s National Spelling Bee winners lacking basic social skills – Switching Teams; and not even man’s best friend – The Difference Between Cats and Dogs.

Would you like to read a few sample essays? If so, Men You Better Pause should be a good starting point as it lists how 24 of the 27 symptoms of menopause have personally affected me. You might find they’ve affected you in other ways.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kat Nove


Date: May 28, 2010

Ms. Nove,


I should have guessed it was Riverdance. She’s a half-bottle of Stoli away from a twelve-step program. But her books sell, so who am I to judge?

Let me explain something to you as if you were a fifth-grader. I don’t care how many obscure magazines, e-zines or blogs you’ve had the privilege of being published by/on (notice the italics— you’re playing fast and loose with what the word published really means). The same goes for contests. From the ABNA's to Faulkner's, blah, blah, blah, it’s all white noise unless the award’s got Guggenheim in the title— or Oprah, herself, is thrusting it into your sweaty hands. 

There's a reason we agents are as irritable as Dick Cheney’s bowel after a bucket of greasy chicken. It is because we constantly see very talented writers passed over for those who have written the newest vampire tome about angst ridden teens, not to mention former Vice-Presidential candidates from Alaska who have little to say but a huge platform from which to spew it. When you’ve got Young Republicans and the entire NRA creaming in their skivvies for a signed copy of your latest book, then you can write what you want.

It’s truly a sad state of affairs, but it is what it is. And here’s what it is: Beelzebub is driving the gravy train we call big publishing at the moment. Rather than stoking the engine room with coal, he’s tossing in shelter puppies and the virginity of pre-pubescent girls, lighting a bonfire sans intégrité under all our asses. It’s just easier to give someone like Heidi Montag, or that disingenuous James Frey a publishing contract than take a risk on frou-frou literary ventures or works of actual merit.

Sure, writers are free to submit to teensy-weensy independent and university presses if they wish to have their three hundred page masterpiece bound and edited so they can pass it out at Christmas. Perhaps impressing Uncle Horace and cousin Jezebel is important to you, but nobody’s making any money on that deal. And I’m not in this ménage a mal for the giggles. 

So, tell me how your work is commercially viable. Do you know what a proposal is? It’s that little thing you should have sent to me in the first place, covering the information any agent needs to know when you are proposing a work of non-fiction. It’s the document that I would be required to pass around—no doubt with considerable re-structuring on my end—to publishers. I’m not sure why, but you writers can’t seem to put a proposal together to save your literary arses.

Have you ever seen Glengarry Glen Ross? Right now you’re Shelley Levene. I need you to be Ricky Roma, get it? Channel a bit of that used-car-salesman vibe and sell, sell, Sell! yourself to me.

My cat died yesterday, and because I’m feeling all mushy and charitable, here’s what I’m going to do—but, make no mistake, my patience is wearing thin—below, find the guidelines for a real proposal. 

COVER- Title and subtitle; genre, word count, author’s name, address, phone, fax, email

CONCEPT STATEMENT- Briefly state your target audience, why they need this book, why your book is unique or timely, and what it offers that other books don’t.

OVERVIEW- How you came to write the book. This is the ‘meat’. Work in your ‘voice’ because this is the most important part of your proposal.
PURPOSE OF THE BOOK - How will it benefit readers?

THE AUDIENCE- Here’s a biggie—who will buy your book? Why do they even want or need it? Providing statistics is usually a good idea.

COMPETITIVE BOOKS- Here are your title comps. What else exists out there? Where is it shelved? How is your book new, better and different?

MARKETING OF THE BOOK- How would you market your book? Bookstores, book clubs, Internet, clubs—anything outside a bookstore.

AUTHOR’S PROMOTIONAL CONTRIBUTION - Tell me everything you’re prepared to do to make your book a success. Here’s where you play my bitch.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR- Background, experience, and why you are the best person to write the book.


Can you see how what you sent me might look like a big ole’ pile of arbitrary absurdity? Are you trying to say you’re the next Eggers or Sedaris? If you are, you better be able to tell me you’re better… and why.   

How hard is that, really? Jesus I feel like you writers need to be coddled these days, and while I’m not completely unwilling to stroke whatever it is you need stroked, you’re going to need to tell me why I should be jerking you off. What do you have to offer me in return?

Christ, I need a margarita. Your next e-mail better blow me away, otherwise you’ll be relegated to the hulking abyss that is my spam box. I’ve given you way more of my time than anyone deserves.

*RIP Kitty-Kins*

Hortensia P. Schlemecker
Schlemecker Literary Agency

PS- The only positive thing I have to say about our communications back and forth, so far, is that you haven’t written another book about a single Mom surviving divorce against all odds, or an alcoholic/drug-addicted thirty-something that has ‘daddy issues’. If I have to wade through any more of these self-pity-fests, I might be forced to gouge out my eyes with a tuning fork.

PSS- Did you just accuse me of being menopausal?
Date: May 29, 2010

Dear Tense Hor,

I’m sorry if you got the impression I accused you of being menopausal – that was not my intent. Though I will mention that if you chase a Midol with one of those many margaritas you seem so fond of, the effect is quite pleasing.

Your suggestions have been so helpful to me I feel the urge to return the favor. I’ve found that instead of using a tuning fork to gouge your eye out, you might consider placing canned tuna on your eyelids and lying still on the floor. Then your cat can do the job for you. Oops! I forgot your cat died. My condolences. Whatever method you use, I bet your eye patch will give you that certain sex appeal which attracts both ophthalmologists and pirates, but won’t exclude women in case you are a lesbian.

Below you will find my book proposal, which I completed weeks ago, I just delayed sending it in favor of playing video poker.

If I Can’t Wave Like a Princess I Must Be a Loser
60,000 words
Kat Nove
666 Underworld Drive
Blahburg, TX 78028
(210) 555-1974

The target audience for my book includes two groups of diverse readers – those who are obsessed with popular culture and those who are not. This collection of satiric essays contains something for everyone with a sense of humor. From global events to my extremely weird live-in boyfriend, readers might recognize themselves on the pages. And who doesn’t like reading about themselves, other than indicted alleged pedophiles?

I decided to compile my essays into one book due to encouragement and constant nagging from members on the writers’ workshop I joined for the sole purpose of having my work edited for only $39.95 a year. “BLOG THIS!” they all screamed in unnecessary uppercase, so I did. Now my website is attracting over 2,000 hits a day, only 1,998 of them Russian porn bots.

There is a need for this book, in that the market is inundated with cookie-cutter books in every genre. Self-help books all point out that diet and exercise will help with weight loss/thinking positive causes good things to happen/and co-dependence is bad. Christian fiction demonstrates how Amish women can churn butter with a particular hand motion to attract their bearded suitors. Teen fiction demands high school girls turn their backs on man’s deep-seated moral imperative that necrophilia is to be avoided and therefore spend 250 pages lusting after cute and pasty vampires. Mysteries these days contain way too many crime solving cats, dogs, pastry chefs, and quilters.

The reading public needs a well-written book by an author who is not a drug addict, alcoholic, or slut—and whose self-deprecating humor and comic timing guarantees her likeability. If I Can’t Wave Like a Princess, I Must Be a Loser is that book.

Once I’m a guest on Oprah everyone will buy my book even though they won’t know why they want it or need it. A conservative estimate of sales is 23,000,000 – the number of viewers who watch Oprah each week.

This book will be compared favorably with Jane Connick Black’s Raw Potato Duchess series, Lottie Navarro’s Dorky Girl phenomenon, and Cecily Riverdance’s charming Southern essays, which almost make me want to visit the deep South. Almost. While these books are hilarious and have earned their well-deserved success, mine is edgier with not only more laugh-out-loud lines per page, but more curse words.

My marketing plan is in place. Not only will social networking be involved, but as a book manager in a nationwide chain, I can guarantee orders in quantity and product placement due to the fact I have documentation of hours worked off the clock to complete required assignments. In the store I manage, associates will be under strict orders to push my book or they’ll lose their jobs.

Oprah is a given, but I also have newspaper reporters and radio personalities angling for exclusive interviews once the book is published. I intend to promise all of them exclusivity.

My quick wit and superficial knowledge of nearly everything makes me the perfect candidate for a worldwide book tour starting in New York, then on to London, Paris, Rome and anywhere else airborne volcano ash isn’t involved. I love the ocean and am immune to seasickness so a book tour cruise might be in order. If I were one of the Seven Dwarfs, Bashful is the last one I’d be. I’d be Brassy, the one with balls larger than his diminutive head who can stand up before a crowd and make them roar with laughter and clamor for the chance to spend $25.99 plus tax.

I’m prepared to engage in speaking engagements, as well as get engaged to be married to anyone you choose as my lifelong mate. I’ll wear a blood diamond engagement ring on my finger or through my nose. I’ll file for a very public and nasty divorce as soon as book sales begin to slump. I’ll bring my own table, tablecloth, chairs, clever decorations, bottle of water and catheter to book signings.

Within six month’s of signing a contract I will deliver you a completed manuscript, hopefully by email as my printer is out of toner.

I have several books in the works which are part of the Loser series. If I Can’t Wave Like a Politician’s Wife I Must Not Be a Loser; If I Can’t Do the Wave at a Dallas Cowboys Game I Must Be a Football Loser and If I Can’t Wave Like a Trained Seal at Seaworld, Shamu Bit My Flipper Off Which Makes Me a Loser.

I have attached the first three chapters of my book. Thanks for your time and consideration.

Kat Nove
Subject:  Midol & Margaritas
Date: June 5, 2010


(May I call you Kat?)

Strummin’ my pain with your fingers…

You’re quite the wing-nut, aren’t you? How do I get myself into these things? If the first three chapters of your book are any indication, you’ve got yourself an agent. I like your spunk, your snark, your joie de vivre, your willingness to pimp yourself out en masse.

BUT—and there’s always a but—I’ll need to see the complete manuscript. Forward it immediately and you’ll have my final answer by next week, barring any unforeseen complications like more feline deaths or terrorist attacks.

Kat, I feel like I know you, already. And if I’m accurately reading between the lines, you and I might just make a great team.

(Hint, hint—Did you hear Melissa and Tammy broke up?)

Hortensia P. Schlemecker
Schlemecker Literary Agency

Subject:  re: Midol & Margaritas
Date: June 5, 2010

Dear Hor,

Words can't express how grateful I am (but perhaps a singing telegram?) at the prospect of signing with your successful and reputable agency. I know you and I will accomplish great things together in the publishing world. In the real world, my boyfriend does cook every meal and clean the litter box, so for the time being he's a keeper. If you're fond of fatty meat-based meals, we'll have you over for dinner some night.

Attached is the completed manuscript.

Thanks again for your confidence that we'll be a good fit.

Kat Nove

Subject:  Ridin’ the Oprah Train!!!!!!!!
Date: September 12, 2011


You are not going to believe the e-mail that just popped into my inbox!
Subject: The Oprah Winfrey Show
Date: 9-12-11

Ms. Schlemecker,

Hello! My name is Lydia Martin and I am writing on behalf of Ms. Winfrey. We are putting together a line-up for sweeps week next month and Oprah would love to have your client, Kat Nove, on our program the second week in November. The theme of the show will be ‘Breakout Writers & Entertainers’.

Boy, 2011 was her year, huh? I bet it seems like only yesterday that you signed her as a client!

I hear congratulations are in order, by the way! A little birdie nesting on the industry grapevine tells us Imagine Entertainment is producing If I Can’t Wave Like a Princess I Must Be a Loser, and Sandra Bullock is attached to play Ms. Nove! But, what a boon to get Jeni Decker as the director! Her Star Rating is up 247% this week and shows her at 98% on the Tomatometer!

Anyway, If you could get back with us as soon as possible, and Ms. Nove is amenable, we could begin the pre-publicity process.

We’ll look forward to your prompt reply,

Lydia Martin
Producer, The Oprah Winfrey Show
Harpo Productions
Kat, I’m heading over to Travelocity to book a vacation for January! I bet Figi is nice this time of year… 

God do I love owning 15% of your snarky ass!

Hortensia P. Schlemecker
Schlemecker Literary Agency
Subject:  re: Ridin’ the Oprah Train!!!!!!!!
Date: September 12, 2011


Hey, that's pretty cool. Did I ever mention to you that I've never watched a single episode of Oprah? I bet when I tell her that, she'll think it's pretty funny, huh?

Do you think it's okay to wear my baggy faded jeans, the ones with those holes caused by my fat thighs rubbing together? Oh! And my plaid sneakers? I know they're kinda beat up, but they're so damn comfortable.
Can't wait to see you in Chicago!

Subject:  re: re: Ridin’ the Oprah Train!!!!!!!!
Date: September 12, 2011

You're killing me, Nove.
Subject:  re: re: re:  Ridin’ the Oprah Train!!!!!!!!
Date: September 12, 2011

I know.

NOTE: Both Kat Nove and Jeni Decker are currently seeking representation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lemons, Lemonade and Shit Pebbles

This morning, Jaxson did something that left me gobsmacked. If you read the previous posting, you know that the little autistic-ragamuffin recently went through a poop-tossing phase. (1)

I feel it important to illustrate another aspect of his recent ‘savant-ness’, so as to ensure my readers understand that there are brilliant spots of clarity and overall extraordinary bliss-ments (blissful moments) that also happen on a daily basis.

It’s Saturday, quite windy and nippy (nipply) outside, so we’re all hanging out in the living room doing our own things. I’m busy writing something with my brilliant soul-sister slash side-kick , Kat Nove, so my ass is planted in front of the computer. I assume her ass is similarly planted, as we speak. (I don't know for sure because she lives in Texas, poor thing, and I'm in Michagan. The Gods wisely decided to plop us millions of miles away from one another, lest we get up to general trouble-making and decide to take over the world.)

But, I digress...

Jaxson grabbed a black Sharpie® (2) and sat down next to me with a spiral notebook. I didn’t pay much attention to what he was writing, but when he trundled off to his room to play video games, I bent over to retrieve his scrawled pages.

…well, suffice it to say, I had a moment.

Below is EXACTLY what’s on the two pages he filled with cute second-grade boy penmanship:

The boy
kicks girl
boy stands

A boy
Mo & the g

Okay, let’s stop for a minute and take a deep, cleansing breath before we continue. (3)


Is it just me or are there some actual phrases that make sense? And what is the kid trying to tell me with all of the Obama/Biden ACTUAL WEBSITE address information? (4)

It only takes about three seconds for me to start putting the pieces together. There’s no way he’s just free-associating thoughts and writing them down. He’s eight years old. He can’t even know who Barak Obama is!

I look around the room and it all starts to come together. His pages from school are neatly lined up on the table; activities where he’d been asked to fill in blanks and write phrases next to pictures. For instance:

The boy stands.
The girl kicks.

Okay, so mystery number one, solved. He’s copying things from the pages. Still, the handwriting looks good!

As I continue to scour the living room, my eyes light upon the Obama/Biden sign I’ve kept prominently displayed on my wall. (5)

So, like Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects, the kid has culled tidbits from his immediate vicinity to tell his story. And what is his story? I think it’s this:

“Look Ma, I can write!”

Well, good for him! So he’s not a savant and won’t be counting toothpicks at a glance like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. So what? Who needs a toothpick-counting kid? My kid is writing PHRASES! He’s looking at a picture and putting actual words together, correctly spelled, to form coherent thoughts! Hot damn, life is a mini-miracle!

The moral of today’s story is this: When life hands you lemons(or shit pebbles), you CAN make lemonade (???)! (6)

I’m going to color my hair now. It feels like a 'Hot-Tamale-Red' kinda’ month! Yes, people—I’m feelin’ myself today!



1- For my concerned readers, I will happily note the phase seems to have momentarily subsided—along with my suicidal thoughts!

2- It’s possible that later I might find the alphabet scrawled all over the bathroom walls in his handwriting and it will permanently and indelibly be part of the general ambiance in said bathroom. That, coupled with the 6 Renuzit Air Freshners®, and the regular stench of ca-ca ensures I will now and forever be considered a sad commentary in the manner of “You know you’re a white-trash hot mess when…”

3- By the way, his handwriting has dramatically improved. It’s legible, and even sits on the college ruled lines quite nicely, albeit his letters are two lines high. But it looks damned good!

4- He’s a frigging genius, that’s what he’s telling me!!

5- Yes, the website is, in fact, written on the bottom of the red-white-and-blue sign that once proudly sat outside my house in order to torment my redneck McCain/Palin loving neighbors. It was torn down three times, and every time I put it back up. Now, it will forever be part of my living room décor.

6- I don’t know where I’m going with this little analogy, but you get the general drift!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


We’re having more scatological issues in my house. Yes, dear readers, the shit hit the fan, yesterday. Not literally, but bad things are happening and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to ride out this excremental tsunami with my sanity intact.

For the past few weeks, Jaxson (8 year old, barely verbal autistic boy, for those of you NOT following my life like a rabid All My Children or American Idol fan) is having more toileting issues.

I thought all the feces drama was behind us when he took that first ca-ca on the toilet, and even recorded it on his digital camera for posterity! Yes, brotha’ I’ve got it on film! Filmmaking is his newest obsession and no less than fourteen digital video cameras have paid for it with their lives. One after the other have met their demise as Jaxson runs around the house capturing his tomfoolery digitally before he plays it back for his own amusement, eventually putting the camera in the toilet or under the running tap.

So here’s how it looks on film:

The long wait as his plaintive stare takes up the entire video screen, while the camera sits on the edge of the bathroom sink, facing him. The look of revelation in his widened eyes as he peeks from the camera to the contents of the bowl beneath him, then back to the camera with his brow furrowed, wondering if what he’s just done is something he might want to repeat. Him wiping himself with a look of disgust before tossing the soiled toilet paper and standing to pull up his undies before flushing.

“Gotcha!” he proudly exclaims as the turd disappears into oblivion with a loud flush.

Life was good! I finally had two autistic kids who were wearing real underwear! Poop has played such a large role in my life, I was glad to see it go; like killing off an unneeded member of a TV series once they’ve worn out their welcome, and then some.

Nicolette Sheridan on Desperate Housewives comes to mind. (I never watch the show, I’m just assuming.)

Anyway, things were going well… until smells started emanating from Jax’s bedroom. Smells that only belong in the restroom, and even then aren’t particularly welcome. But I’ve got strategically placed Renuzit Air Fresheners® in my bathrooms, six in each ( okay, that’s a wild exaggeration…but not by much) so at least there’s a faint aroma of powdery-fresh-scent hovering over the oppressive stench of shit.

But I panic when I begin to smell those ‘aromas’ in other rooms in the house. I start getting Vietnam-esque flashbacks of Jax tossing dirty Pull-Ups® over the fence as daily gifts to a former neighbor, or cleaning the ass of my twelve year old with Aloe-Scented Luvs Baby-Wipes®, or hours of sitting on the bathroom floor, sobbing, trying to get either of them to evacuate.

So, here I am, smelling those smells, not only when Jax flies by me on the way to the refrigerator, but every time I pass his room in the hallway. A quick inspection of the room leaves me with no answers, so as he runs past me again, I grab Jaxson’s arm, tuck a finger behind the waistband of his Fruit of the Loom® undies and take a peek inside.

Yep. Houston we’ve got a problem, all right. He’s not wiping well. Or, should I say, not at all, based on the golf-ball sized chuck of excrement I notice flattened between his ass-cheeks.

The other egregious violation of my sanity that has been popping up is the fact that I’m finding dirty underwear all over the house. Under the sink, pushed into the back of closets, in his underwear drawer spending a little too much quality time with the CLEAN skivvies. Behind the TV in the living room, under my bathroom cabinet…I’m like a human bloodhound, sniffing my way to a trail of stinky underwear.

For two weeks this has been happening.

My assumption, up till now, was that Jax was having problems wiping, so he’d put on another pair, and then, when he realized there were skid marks, or skid pebbles on said undies, he’d remove them and fetch a clean pair. Whereby, the underwear itself is becoming sort of a faux toilet tissue; cleaning off a bit more of the ca-ca each time he changes them.

I am literally buried under a four foot mound of dirty underwear and have taken to washing a load of undies a day. Three boys live in my house. Three penises to trickle pee-pee on my toilet seat, three booty-holes to leave skid marks. That’s us: Three Men and a Lady. Well this lady had patience once upon a time, but that patience is worn threadbare-thin.

So, back to yesterday—yes I know I’m waxing and waning, but give a girl a break! Everywhere I go, it smells like SHIT!

So after I drop the kids off at school—while Jaxson complains the entire way that his tummy hurts and I ignore him, thinking he’s manipulating his way into staying home because it’s the first day back from their spring break—and as soon as I get home, I put on my latex gloves, grab some plastic bags and assume the position: Scat Detective.

As God is my witness, I will get to the bottom of the newest smells wafting from Jaxson’s room. I check the closet. Nope. Check his drawers, nope. I pull all the sheets and covers off his bed and wash them. Nope, still smells like shit.

God Help Me! I fall to my knees and sob for a little while, as Sugar, my Australian shepherd licks away my salty tears. “Where is it? Where is the smell coming from?”

The dog has no answers for me, so, I decide the room has just soaked up Jaxson’s daily funk. I will scrub the walls, clean the carpet, bleach the entire room down. I start to sing as I begin to move the furniture out of the room, “I’m gonna scrub, scrub, scrub that stench right outa’—”

Woah, Nellie!

At first I wasn’t sure what the clump of brown substance stuck to the ceiling was. As my eyes trailed downward, I saw numerous small, brown smudges at the seam where the walls meet in the corner of his room. This smudge-trail leads downward to where Jaxson’s TV sat atop a caddie-cornered dresser.

A tiny whiff of discernment blew across my subconscious, but as the human brain is wont to do when something so horrific, so painful, so unbelievably disconcerting is about to sink in, I turned a blind neuron and wouldn’t allow my sub-conscious to pass the information along to my conscious mind.

There is no way. There is no way what I think is happening, is actually happening. If it is, I am turning in my keys now. It’s over. Mom has officially left the building and I’m going on permanent sabbatical.

I held my breath as I leaned over to peek behind the television, not because it smelled, but because I had that feeling you get as you sit in a packed theater and the only African-American cast member in the horror movie is slowly making their way down the stairway to the darkened basement, alone.

“No!” the audience screams! “Don’t do it. Do not open that door!”

And then I saw it. Or, saw…them. A pile of brown nuggets in various sizes on the carpet behind the dresser. I looked up at the faint smudges on the wall, and back down to the carpet.

Flinging poo. He’d been flinging poo. Which meant the poo would have been in his hands first, a prospect I am still unable to process. From his hand, it would have to sail through the air, hit the wall, and then fall into the convenient space behind the TV/dresser in the corner of the room.

This newest series of unfortunate events will most likely cause me to go back on the Lexapro I was so fond of—until the co-pay went up to fifty bucks and I decided feeding the kids was more important than my mental health.

Obviously we’re not over the scatological hump in my house. It seems, either Jax is saving his excremental offerings for a later day, or he doesn’t like sitting on the toilet. I have no idea what’s going on in his mind, because verbally he can’t tell me.

So, he’s using his actions to show me he’s got an issue. Now, it’s up to me to figure out the ‘why’ of the ‘what’.

Why is he flinging poo? Why did he have a hysterical meltdown when I found him—later that day after I spent hours cleaning up the shit behind his TV—holding a handful of shit, just about to hide it under his Spider Man chair?

Why did he freak out when my husband held him down and I cleaned his ass with wipes, then forced him to wash his hands with anti-bacterial soap?


It’s always about the why, and I’m getting tired. I need a vacation. I need to have a hot, steamy affair with someone who will do exactly what I say at any given moment and not talk back, scream, or fling poo. (If I’m listing my wants, I feel I should be specific, here. God’s got a wicked sense of humor.)

I need control because my house is quickly spinning out of it.

I need a nap.

I need a pedicure.

I need a maid.

I need someone to deliver me a mocha latte every morning and say to me, “Have a good day” and mean it.

I need to take a bath without being interrupted.

I need a full day without worry, without anxiety, without the stench of poo.

I need a house that consistently smells fresh as a daisy. Apparently, I want to exist within the confines of a feminine hygiene commercial.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s asking too much.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Discussion: Hygiene

Jake is 50% tortured kid, 50% laugh out loud funny 'life commentator'. A little autism goes a long way and a lotta’ autism can either make you want to take a dull lady Bic to your carotid, or pee yourself a little because you can't stop laughing.

I’ve never taken a pink, disposable razor to the vein in my neck, but I have lost bladder control on more occasions than I’d like to admit.

A trickle, people. I’m not incontinent. Yet.

The other day I had to bring up the hygiene thing with Jake. See, while his brother Jaxson—the much-less-verbal-8-year-old-autistic-son—still has that sweet, new-kid smell, his older brother is starting to get…gamey.

Here’s how that all went down:

ME: You put deodorant on after your morning shower, right?

HIM: No, I don't like the way it feels when I put it under my arm.

ME: Well this is one of those times when you just have to do it, even if you don't like it.

HIM: Fine.

ME: And you use soap to wash your body, right?

HIM: I don't like the way it feels either. I just use water. I never use soap.

ME: (gasping!) Never?!?!?!

HIM: No, why? The water cleans me.

ME: Jake! That is unacceptable. You will wash with soap…(and I proceeded to be very specific as to which areas of his body must receive a full lather, because his autistic mind is very literal) You must wash your penis, you must wash your balls, you must wash your face— oh wait, not in that order. Start at the top—

HIM: Why the top?

ME: Go from cleanest to dirtiest. Wouldn’t you rather wash your face BEFORE your butt so that if there are any poo remnants you won’t get them on your face?

HIM: Ugh, okay, okay! Gross, Mom!

ME: So, start with your hair, then your face, then your armpits and stomach and arms and chest and THEN penis, balls, butt—

HIM: Mom, stop saying penis and balls and butt.

ME: I just want to make sure you get—

HIM: I get it!

ME: You better, or I will come in there and wash you myself, Jake! How horrible! Seriously, you’re twelve years old and you never use soap?

HIM: No. Well, I wash my hands with soap a lot.

ME: Jake, you know how you don't like seeing inside someone's mouth when they eat, or smelling someone's stinky breath?

HIM: Yeah...

ME: Well then I think you shouldn't expect people to stand next to your stinky body.

*Then he thought for a minute and sniffed.*

HIM: (finally) You mean those smells I've been smelling are ME?!

ME: Yeah, probably!

HIM: No wonder people ignore me.

I snorted, then started laughing, and then had to go take care of a hygiene issue of my own.