My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

The Sun Is Hot!


The Conference

The writer’s conference was, once again, inspiring and helpful. I braved I-95 in the pouring rain (rush hour both ways on Friday) but all the accidents were on the other side of the highway. On Saturday, I took the second to last parking space (free) under the state library. Score! It’s so lovely to have a car that fits into a “compact only” spot.

My first page did not get read this year but I did meet briefly with an agent. Of course, it’s pointless in a way because I don’t have a completed manuscript to submit yet. Perhaps this time next year I will. I’ll keep her contact information, naturally.

The best part was hearing Jeannette Walls speak. Near the end, during the Q and A part, I thanked her for writing the book and told her how much it meant to me. “My sister and I have had a lot of conversations about this book. Until we’d read it, we thought we were the only ones whose mother wrapped up “found treasures” (what others might call trash) as presents.” While I’ve always admired my mother’s trash picking abilities, it’s not something that’s easy to explain to other, more average, people.

Jeannette sat up straight in her chair as if she’d just sat on a tack and smiled, “The hair on the back of my neck just stood up,” she told me and said how many people she’d met who’d had similar experiences to hers and that what she’d thought would be a shameful experience admitted to the world had been quite the opposite.

Naturally, I bought a copy of her book and had her sign it. She wrote, “To Claudia – a kindred spirit.” That was worth the whole rest of the conference. I got lots of good practical advice and a lot of ideas for essays. Perhaps, I’ll even get off my ass and finish this damn novel. Anything’s possible, right?

Afterwards, a number of people came up to me and thanked me for making the comment. I think, though, they were more struck by Jeannette’s reaction than to what I said. There were a couple of people in the audience who know my mother. I haven’t a clue what they thought. One woman, who’d won first prize for the short story contest, chatted with me as well. We talked about the positive effect the book might have on people who might be in a position to help a child like Jeannette, that knowing that people could live like that may cause a teacher, for example, to pay more attention to signs that a child may need help. May need something as simple as a meal.

And, then, Jesus slipped out. I’d had an inkling he was lurking within but I try not to judge strangers until they reveal themselves. She began talking about some singing or book group or something at her church and then mentioned some line from Proverbs as if I’d have a clue what she was talking about. It always amazes me that Christians can’t fathom that others don’t know what they mean when they mention a Bible passage, “You know, John 6:14,” they’ll say with a knowing smile. I have no idea what I’ve just referenced there. Perhaps I’ll look it up later. Could be interesting.

Da Nasty!

So, on Sunday, it was the marathon of chores. Food needed making, clothes needed washing, butts needed wiping, and brains needed attention. Check, check, check and check.

Dusty was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and got a ride on the neighbor’s horse Ely. Hopefully she’ll be invited back on soon. She’s been dying for a horse ride since she was old enough to express the need.

Dinner was a bit of a comedy of errors. I managed to burn the rice by turning my back for three seconds. Burnt rice is an unpleasant odor. It permeates even the unburnt portion. Dusty proclaimed that is was “the baddest tasting rice ever” and furthermore was “da nasty!” Even Red spit out a huge mouthful. In to the trash can it went. Oh well.

I also added a couple of cups of soup to the food processor and the liquid began to leak out of the bottom at great speed. It was a Keystone Kops rush for paper towels as I lifted the processor bowl up and over the soup pot, dumped it all out and started over, making sure the blade was firmly in place and scooping out only chunks of corn and sweet potato instead of stock. Oi! At least the soup wasn’t da nasty.

Dusty then wrote a story on a doodle writing board: The sun? The sun. The sun is hot!

We all enjoyed the story so much, we read it out loud in a number of ridiculous voices.

The sun?

The sun.

The sun is hot!

And don’t you forget it!


6:54 p.m. ::
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