Body for Life, the Universe, and Everything

Being a description of the author's thoughts on the experience of participating in the "Body for Life" Challenge, questions of great philosophical import, and randomly selected topics of no significance whatsoever

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Location: Missouri, United States

In no particular order, I'm a professional lettering artist, a yoga practitioner, a cat lover, a vegetarian, a reader of everything from books to cereal boxes, married to a very attractive guy named Tom (nope, no kids), an exercise enthusiast, and a lot of other things I don't care to admit in a public forum. I have a BS in applied math that I haven't used in over 10 years, and I can put both feet behind my head. What else would you like to know?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Books, animals and soap operas

Last night, about 2 a.m., I finally finished the edits on the first draft of Tom's NaNoWriMo novel. He knows I'm done, but I don't think he's looked at what I did yet. He finished the book four weeks ago today, and I read it a couple of days later and started editing a few days after that. The editing process went much more slowly than I had expected. I mostly did about 20 pages at a time, and there were 128 pages before I started adding my notes. I really do think it's a good story, although it's not gem-polished yet. Ever since I first read Tom's novel, I have had it in the back of my mind as I read other books (published stuff)--I think I've probably read about twenty books since then. I make comparisons and think about techniques the author used, in whatever book I'm currently reading, that might make Tom's book stronger. I'm a pretty decent proofreader, but I don't consider myself any better an editor than the average person who is intelligent and loves to read. I really hope Tom gets the opportunity to have someone better at it than I am to edit his books.

When we went to the local NaNo TGIO (Thank Goodness It's Over) party on December 1st, the coordinator was agitating for both Tom and me to participate next year (something about getting more couples doing NaNo). I felt very intimidated by the concept of writing a novel, and later I figured out why (at least, I think this is why): I write a lot, but except for school assignments (always short pieces), it's always been nonfiction writing. Autobiographical or informational. Letters to friends, this blog, information for my website, things like that. I suppose I could write something that was autobiographical but thinly disguised as fiction, but that seems a bit silly. And I don't have a strong desire to publish. Okay, it's not the desire that's missing, it's the belief that I might actually write something that someone would want to publish. I think it would be great to be a published author, but I don't really believe that's where my strongest abilities lie, although I might have some skills in that direction.

A couple of days ago we had an unexpected backyard visitor. I was at the kitchen sink, and I glanced out the window and noticed a brownish blur in an odd place (I didn't have my contacts in). I squinted at it and then told Tom (who was napping on the couch), "There's something on the pool cover. I think it's a hawk!" He jumped up with considerably more energy than I expected and came to look. "Yep, it's a hawk, all right!" (He had LASIK surgery about a year ago, so he doesn't have vision issues any more.) I rushed to the bedroom to get my glasses while he kept watching. The hawk was apparently getting a drink off the top of the pool cover, as many animals come to our backyard to do in the winter. I was a little worried about the possibility of the hawk (and other creatures) getting poisoned from the chemicals in the pool water, but Tom said that most of the water on top of the cover was probably rain or melted snow rather than leakage through the cover from the pool. We watched the hawk standing on the cover looking around for a few minutes, and then it flew over to our fence, so we moved to the bedroom to get a better view of it, and I snagged our bird book along the way.

The hawk hung out on our fence for long enough that we were able to narrow down that it was a true hawk rather than a falcon, although it wasn't there long enough for us to determine the subtle differences that would have told us which of the three varieties of true hawk it was (goshawk, sparrow hawk, and I forget the third kind). Based on the information in the bird book, we were pretty sure it was a young one, although that deduction was simply from the markings. It was very similar in appearance to the hawk we encountered on the Katy Trail back in September as we were setting out for a bike ride, but the one in our backyard seemed to be considerably smaller--perhaps crow-sized, where the one on the trail was maybe half again or double that size. On the other hand, the one in our backyard was at least ten yards away, and on the other side of the glass, so the perspective was a bit different because we didn't get quite as up-close-and-personal with it as we did with the hawk on the trail, which I got within about a yard of (Tom was a bit nervous about me getting so close to it, because it looked like its talons could have taken off my arm if it so chose, but the hawk didn't act nervous or threatened, and I watched it carefully when I was that close). It really was a thrill seeing the hawk in our backyard--we don't usually get wildlife that's quite that wild in our neighborhood, although one night we saw an owl roosting on a mailbox in the next subdivision over while we were out for a walk. That was another exciting experience!

I am now going to attempt a modified version of the post that was lost in the wilds of the internet a few days ago. It had to do with Tom's friends.

Most of Tom's friends are, and have been for the 20+ years we have been together, women. (I am used to this by now and it is not generally a problem.) Women (and men too, for that matter, but especially women) find Tom a sympathetic listener, and they talk to him. A lot. I mean A LOT. Due to Tom's involvement in community theatre, especially community college theatre, many of them are young and often full of self-created drama, although not all. Younger, older, reticent or overdramatic, they all talk to Tom. And then he tells me about their stories (unless he has been asked not to do so just yet, in which case he respects the confidence). I am continually astonished at the soap-opera qualities of his friends' lives. In the last few years he has listened patiently to the ongoing sagas of the following friends:

--A girl who got pregnant on the first date, decided she didn't want to get married until the baby was old enough to be a flower girl, and, as the icing on the cake, is now (several years later) worried that her parents (who have had a collection of spouses since they divorced each other, one of whom is still married to the mother) are having an affair with each other;

--Another girl who was on the verge of moving out of the apartment she was sharing with her boyfriend due to problems in the relationship, who then two weeks later announced that the two of them were engaged;

--A thirtyish lesbian friend, with a good job, who owns a house with her girlfriend and is now trying to get pregnant (via artificial insemination), who was told by her mother (who has been married about six times) that her life was too unstable to bring a baby into;

--A barely-twenty-something who seems to only date much older married men and therefore gets her heart broken a lot;

And in just the last couple of weeks:

--A 17-year-old in her last year of high school, with many talents in the performing arts, who has been poised to begin (next year) both college and an excellent career performing for hundreds of people, who just announced that she is pregnant, by her college-student boyfriend, an individual who is universally referred to (even by her on occasion) as "the idiot."

--A forty-something who revealed that her husband, who makes quite a bit more than she does but whose finances are completely separate from hers, was (in her view) likely to throw her out of the house (owned solely by him) if she crossed him in the matter of replacing, with strictly her own money, the beater vehicle she has been driving for some ridiculous number of years, and who, by the way, is still clearly in love with his ex-wife;

--A friend who has been yammering ad nauseam about how wonderful her marriage and husband are for the five years or so they have been married, who suddenly announced this week that they are splitting up because they never spend any time together, since he spends every free waking moment on computer/role-playing games (they are both about thirty; isn't it past time to reduce that kind of activity?), and to top it off, he already had a date lined up less than three weeks after they tentatively decided to split up (although they are still living together); this was not exactly a surprise to Tom and me, since the husband (according to the stories I heard about the times when the two of them were in one of the off periods of their on-again/off-again romantic relationship) seemed to feel a need to always be sleeping with someone or other, and didn't seem to care much about the relationship involved. The line he gave her, when she told him she thought maybe they should split up and she wanted some time to think about it, should be bronzed as a classic: "Well, let me know by next Wednesday."

Who needs television when you've got friends like this?


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