Regularly Scheduled Existential Despair
Last month I promised to start posting once a month. I’m already behind schedule, mostly because I’ve been delayed by my biannual identity crisis. September brought cooler weather and the unshakable compulsion to rethink all my life choices. What’s the point blogging mid-existential crisis? Is there a God? Should I blog? Maybe I should have. I can live-tweet it next time.
At least my identity crisis made sense this time. I mean, I just sent the girls back to school. I sort of felt like someone has been banging pots and pans with wooden spoons right next to my head for three months (my kids are loud). September 6th, I dropped them off and mentally I was like, “Go time, Sam. Save the cheerleader, save the world!” but in reality, my ears were still ringing and I was even more disoriented than usual. Who am I? What is my purpose on earth? How can I contribute to the family income, be there 100% for my kids, and write another book? Also, I should potty train the two-year-old. Questions without answers, obviously. (I’m classifying potty training as an unanswered question, fyi.) It’s so important to avoid thinking about these things. You gotta keep your eyes fixed forward, make dinner, and try not to eat too many handfuls of chocolate chips.
In my confusion, I spent a couple of weeks writing a paranormal YA mystery. That was a new take on an identity crisis for me. Or not. I forget the last crises. Now, I’ve come back to my senses. This weekend, I’m starting a rom-com. Obviously, that is the most sensible thing to do, at least in my weird little slice of reality. Gotta build my author brand and I have two rom-coms coming out this year, assuming everything goes as planned.
Of course, nothing will go as planned. The books will probably come out in 2020 and I won’t even remember what they’re about. But here goes nothing. I’m writing a rom-com. I don’t expect any other major existential despair until I finish it and wonder why the hell I wrote a romantic comedy. My life is Groundhog Day. That’s life, though–every morning you wake up and you can either do a little good work and be a nice person or take a groundhog over a cliff Thelma & Louise style. I’m going to do my best to not kill any groundhogs. If that last paragraph didn’t make sense to you, rent Groundhog Day and get a pizza this weekend. You’ll have fun.
Happy almost October everyone!
Until next time,
So I haven’t posted since October. That is a looooong time. If anyone out there is still reading my blog, greetings and salutations! Actually, I know a few people are still visiting the site, emphasis on visiting. I like to take the time to read and enjoy my spam comments now and then. (Hope you appreciate that, spammers!)
A guy by the name of Nike Air (or maybe it was Movie Forum) said, “I am visiting this web site dailly and obtain fastidious data from here all the time.” I love that he claimed to be visiting sambohrman.com daily, despite the fact that I haven’t posted new content in about nine months. I should make him the president of my fan club (my mom isn’t into official roles). I also liked this one: “After six hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your site.” That’s A LOT of googling, brother! Not to mention, how did he know he’d arrived at his destination when he found my site?? Side note: I’m just assuming those commenters are male because I watched Silicon Valley on HBO and it reinforced my assumption that most people in front of computers have a solid pin connector. Or maybe they’re robots? I don’t know enough about the spamming industry to fully imagine the spammers themselves. Anyway, Silicon Valley is AWESOME. I highly recommend.
Now that we’ve gone through my spam folder, let’s get to the news. Since my last post in October, I’ve written two books. Yes, I know that sounds crazy to most of the population and it’s the reason why I stopped posting, the second reason being that I think my mom is my only reader and I talk to her regularly anyway (Hi, Mom). As for the books… One of the books is a young adult romantic comedy set at a summer camp. It involves twin sisters, mistaken identity, and at least three kissing scenes. It’s called Breaking the Rules of Revenge, as far as I know. God knows when it’s coming out. Soonish. I’ll scream it from the rooftops when I figure it out.
The second book is an adult romantic comedy. The working title is Love Doctors, though it will definitely be renamed. The name Love Doctors is wildly unpopular at the publisher. This one is a little dirty, so I hope no one I know reads it. Feel free to buy it, though! It’s headed to the editor soon. No release date yet, but expect it during the next school year.
If you want to keep up to date with big news, sign up for my newsletter. I plan on sending one out before book releases, book sales, or big events worth mentioning. Also, I’m going to start posting here once a month. Expect to hear from me again in September!
FYI: the guy in the photo is Ernest Hemingway. That’s pretty much how I look when I’m writing, too. It’s a very romantic and outdoorsy process.
Until next time,
The Cable Guy So Gets Me
That’s the statement of a housebound woman. But, moving onto my story…
The cable internet guy arrived as we were about to leave this morning. He first came into the living room, which was an explosion of child paraphernalia and children using furniture like a jungle gym. It was like that scene from Home Alone when twelve people are trying to leave for Paris, except I just had to drop two kids off at school. I think it’s worth mentioning that the guy had already waited on the stoop with my compost bin, which is currently filled with coffee grounds, a pumpkin, and five gallons of rain water; a.k.a., a pumpkin floating in a giant bucket of cold coffee. He didn’t mention it. I feel better about my home when I think of it as the Weasly’s place.
The cable guy asked a question I didn’t understand regarding our half-assed router set-up, so I brought him to my husband who was foraging for socks in a loose pile of laundry in his boxers. I kept trying to explain to my husband that the cable guy was here and had a question, but he was too focused on socks to look up. Finally, I said quite loudly, “The cable guy is in the room with us.” That’s when Harley noticed he was half naked and standing next to the cable guy.
In that moment, I felt one with the cable guy. I was like, “Dude, do you see what I’m dealing with here?” and he was like, “Whoa, this is some crazy shit.” Maybe I read too much into that glance, but it was a moment. Thanks for that, cable guy.
In other news, I inherited a rusty metal box. See picture below (slightly obscured by applesauce on the lens). I half expected to find Gwyneth Paltrow’s head inside of it, but no, it is filled with documents from 1947. Basically, it’s all of the junk mail and fliers from my great grandfather’s kitchen circa 1947. His kitchen is now boxed up in my kitchen. Deep, huh? Actually, there is some dispute about who gets the box. That’s what happens when there’s nothing to fight over—you fight over nothing. Which takes me back to the living room and the kids…
Uno: A Game of World Domination
Last Sunday morning I woke up and played Tic Tac Toe and Uno with my six year old while drinking coffee. Even at the time I knew it was one of those moments I’d look back on fondly as the years wear on. At the same time, I gained a deeper appreciation for people living in deeply flawed political systems, the kind of places where you have no voice or chance of financial success or freedom, the kind of place where you only make strides because the government decides not to extinguish your tiny flame of hope (yet).
This is basically what it’s like playing Uno with Daphne. Her Uno cheating is flagrant and overblown. She always gives herself all of the exciting cards and me none. Each game takes approximately ten seconds because she crushes all opponents with her flagrant cheating. Then she spread propaganda about her prowess and Uno success.
Back when my oldest daughter, Lila, was in her cheating at Uno phase, she was subtler. She marked the deck and would boldly deal herself extra Wild cards right in front of the other players. We haven’t played Uno for three years because Daphne would army crawl from the room wailing every time Lila won. Also, it made family gatherings uncomfortable and not just because of the wailing. My brother came down hard on the Uno cheating. For him, every game of Uno is a moral crossroads. His kids might turn out better than mine.
All of our actions are a little like a game of Uno. The rules of Uno are just stated more clearly, which makes her manipulation more obvious. Winning at dinner or bedtime is a more nuanced game, though a game she plays just as well.
Yesterday the scoreboard in our house looked like this:
Mom: 0 Visiting Team: 5 (I’ve chosen to refer to the kids as “The Visiting Team.”)
My biggest failings: The kids won dinner, bedtime, TV time, and the middle of the night. At dinner, I was beaten by a sack of brown rice that took about five hours to cook.
Uno has betrayed all of our strategies. But the kids haven’t won yet. I’m playing the long game. I fully expect them to stop cheating at Uno and sleep through the night eventually. If they don’t, their spouses can blame me.
In other news, I think I’ll be writing another book soon! More to come on that…
Entangled Blog Hop!
I’m so glad you stopped by my website!! If you haven’t been here before, my name is Samantha Bohrman and I write for Entangled. My first book, Ruby’s Misadventures with Reality, is about a modern day Dorothy juggling her career, too many hot guys at once, and an unexpected mystery.
I figured I might post some Halloween-y stuff for this post, so I decided to look for Dorothy costumes online. I thought the people below had clever ones. I didn’t notice right off that they were missing their pants, etc. Pants or no, they’re pretty impressive costumes. Personally, I’d feel reluctant to paint all of those parts. So just in case you were wondered, I will not be painting myself blue for Halloween. Even if I was into that, I live in Minnesota and it’s supposed to snow. I’ll be wearing a hat that makes me look like a scarlet macaw is roosting on my head. I’ll probably pair it with pajamas.
If you like those costumes, you might also like my book! It also contains some costumes, a Wizard of Oz theme, and brief (but thrilling) nudity. Unlike the above picture, it doesn’t happen all in the same scene.
Rest assured, though, if you find a tin man or a scarecrow in my book, he will be the kind of guy you might enjoy seeing in nothing but silver paint and a tin foil hat. Today, someone on my street team (Hi Dana!) introduced me to a man she refers to as “Gandy Candy.” My hero never goes swimming (perhaps a mistake on my part!), but if he did, I’d like to imagine him like this:
Thanks so much for dropping by my website! For a chance to win an e-book of Ruby, please leave a comment. I’ll send a free e-book to two random commenters. Make sure to stop by the rest of the sites on this list for more trick or treating!
Total Eclipse with Children
Lunar eclipses are cool, but sometimes I just don’t care. I’m tired and there is TV to watch, books to read. Who has time to look up? Especially when the kids have completely sucked you dry. We were going to let the kids watch the eclipse, but at 6:30 I couldn’t imagine spending another fifteen minutes with my offspring. Definitely not three hours. My husband saw the look on my face and informed the kids, “They canceled that eclipse.”
After we finally got them in bed, I changed my mind. We hauled them into the driveway to watch the super blood moon. The toddler wouldn’t go to bed anyway, so it’s not like I could watch Austenland and drink a glass of wine (plan A). I’m using the term “watched” loosely. The one-year old pretended to mow the lawn and chased the cat while I chased him. My six-year old spent an hour arranging beanie babies so they would have an optimal view. My eight-year old read a book. My husband shone a spot light through everyone’s hands to see veins and climbed around in the tree house. My mom looked overwhelmed until she stood up and serenaded us with Total Eclipse of the Heart. I noticed some of the neighbors drinking beer and lounging. They were mostly sitting in chairs.
Here’s a picture of my toddler enjoying the super blood moon in my husband’s garage. (I’d prefer to distance myself from that mess.)
My mom could only remember one or two lines of the song, but the lyrics, which came to me later seem apt, especially the falling apart line: “Once upon I was falling in love. But now I’m only falling apart. It’s a total eclipse of the heart.” I might also be suffering from a total eclipse of the heart. Kids eclipse a whole lot of things. I don’t know which end is up anymore.
Speaking of that, you should watch the literal video version of Bonnie Tyler’s music video. It’s hysterical. Watching it tonight, it strikes me that it’s a pretty accurate portrayal of living with children, at least in its total randomness and all the spilled beverages at the preppy table scene. When you watch it, just imagine the ninjas and zombies as six-year olds. Imagine more juice boxes, toys, and Bonnie Tyler’s dress wrinkly and stained.
I should have known super blood moon would be more like a Bonnie Tyler video than an episode of The Wonder Years. Little kids don’t process things like lunar eclipses in chairs. They process them while running through the neighbor’s lawn in special moon-watching pants. That’s alright, though. The next blood moon, which my husband informed me will be in thirty years, I’ll get to do the whole thing again, except the crazy people mowing the lawn in the dark will be my grandkids, if I’m lucky.
Remodeling and Romance
Marriage is a series of compromises—where to eat, where to live, kids. It’s never ending. Some compromises stand out above the dull roar of everyday tacos-versus-hamburger negotiations. Some failures also stand out. For instance, this fridge.
This fridge is currently in my family’s living room. It stands, a dirty white symbol of our failure to compromise, not to mention my husband and myself. It’s aging poorly as the kids slowly destroy it. It freezes all my lettuce, not to mention my warm feelings towards my spouse. Before we can move the fridge into the kitchen, we need to purchase: 1) a smaller refrigerator and 2) and a new oven.
Today, the husband and I dragged the kids to Sears with moderately high hopes. I selected an oven while my husband was in the restroom. It took me three minutes. When he came out, he gave me a dirty look and asked the Sears guy about a stove with duel fuel and a split oven (ironic when you consider he only makes tacos).
We did however stop and spend a lot of time looking at this thing:
Crazy good deal, huh?! I’m not sure what it is. Husband thinks it’s an air purifier and will save us from dying of mold-related complications. I think he’s considering going back for it.
Last year the same thing happened. We went shopping for appliances to solve our fridge-in-the-living room problem. We couldn’t agree on a fridge, but we did buy this:
It’s some sort of high-powered fan. Harley was impressed with its large motor and it was only $90. Note that it’s still in the original packaging. Photo was taken today. Harley also purchased a fake Christmas tree on one of these trips, ironic given that we can’t have a tree until we move our fridge.
HGTV is like a crack dealer and we’re all a bunch of crack ho’s, strung out and binge watching International Househunters. When compressed into a twenty-three minute show headlined by the undeniably cute-times-two Property Brothers, remodeling looks like a great idea. Not to mention, there is an underlying romance to the idea of remodeling. There’s the American dream, picket fence piece, but more fundamentally, a house is a nest. No one wants a half-assed bird nest. In reality, remodeling is a dirty white Maytag stuck in the living room for a decade. Property Brothers, I’d be mad if you weren’t so cute. (I hope that wasn’t too many metaphors for you. I know it was a lot to keep up with.)
Needless to say, remodeling will make it difficult for me to write a romance novel (slotted for November-ish). How am I supposed to think romantic thoughts with the refrigerator of marital doom looming in the background? Maybe I’ll get one of those cute little Chinese screens to hide it.
I’m signing off now to spend quality time with my husband. We’ve successfully compromised on a television show. Actually, we’re watching a sci fi, but he told me I’ll like it because Halle Berry is in it.
Until next week,
Beyond Ted: Naming Characters and/or Your Children
Confession: I name all of my male characters Ted, at least until I think better of it. Sometimes Todd. My current MC is Roy. My brain is a Ted factory. All Teds come prefabricated with a vague resemblance to Keanu Reeves. I must have seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure at a highly formative moment. Three weeks ago I had a baby, my first boy.* I spent weeks working on lists of names. Naming my baby, who I did not name Ted, gave me some insight into picking a name.
Baby name websites are helpful. My favorite is Nameberry. I created my son’s list of potential names from Nameberry. I particularly like this website because of its carefully curated name lists. Examples of name lists include: cowboy names, antique baby names ready for restoration, and “the exoticizer” (a guide for making normal names exotic). It even generates a handy list of names similar to Ted or whatever your go-to name might be.
Most people don’t want their kid to be one of five Khaleesi’s in the kindergarten class (a surprisingly popular name this year). Likewise, most writers don’t want their main character to have the same name as every other MC in the agent’s inbox. In my many hours spent stalking agents on Twitter, I’ve seen plenty of comments such as, “OMG! Why is every character named Bailey today?!” Sure, the agent’s decision will be based on writing quality, concept, salability, etc. Still, it can’t be helpful if your MC is one of twelve Bailey’s in the submissions inbox. I recommend plugging potential character names into Baby Name Voyager. The site will show potential name’s popularity over time graphically.
A few weeks ago I went to see Rainbow Rowell speak. She shared some naming advice of her own. Rainbow (I’m on a first-name basis with her in my head), mentioned that she picks out character names before she starts writing. Once a character has a name, he or she becomes more real. Rainbow also mentioned that she doesn’t use “find and replace” to change names because a different name changes the way sentences sound. The names, she said, become an integral part of each sentence. The “th” in Beth is a soft sound that can’t be replaced to her satisfaction with a name like Peg or Katrina. The new sound changes the landscape of each sentence and undoes carefully constructed prose.
Crowd sourcing can also be fun. You can help your friends procrastinate and get a helpful reality check. Here are a few baby names from my list with comments from my friend Carol. (I ended up picking a baby name from her approved list.)
Maynard: Yes. But you must raise him in Georgia.
Maurice: Some call him the space cowboy.
Dalton: Dalton. Kind of sexy. Sorry I just called your baby sexy.
Nicolai: Russian ballet will love him!
Finally, I recommend picking a name that most people can pronounce. You don’t want readers stumbling over complicated names, unless you’ve written a 250,000-word sci-fi. In that case, all bets are off.
*Baby is now one and a half. I’m reposting this sucker because I took Labor Day off! 🙂
The Play House, An American Horror Story
I had a BBQ at my house yesterday. Some of my writer friends came over with their kids. The night kicked off when the swing set in my backyard half collapsed. Then, two kids went through some rotted boards in the playhouse. In an incident unrelated to the play house drama (a screaming/weight lifting contest mishap if you’re wondering) one child called her mother and insisted on immediate pick-up. She ran screaming from the home as soon as her parents pulled up (Hi Cristina!). Besides that it was fun. We drank a few glasses of wine and chatted. Seriously, though, next party’s at your house Kristi.
My cat brought his own meat to the event.
The play house, though. It had such a grand start. My daughter drew up the plans and my husband and kids built it together. So much love and energy went into making that thing. Then, the kids enjoyed it for approximately one weekend. Now, three years later it’s rotting in the backyard. Tonight, the husband shored it up a little. He didn’t want to finish fixing it in the dark, so I’m sitting next to him while he watches a show called Monster Hunters. The hunters are looking for a Florida Skunk Ape. They’re trying to lure one in with a scent cocktail of human and orangutan vaginal bacteria. I would like to blame this programming selection on Harley, but it was the result of a compromise. He wanted to watch a sci fi show. I wanted to watch a documentary, so we let Lila pick. According to Netflix, someone at our house already viewed this program. No one is willing to admit to it, but I can say with 100% confidence it wasn’t me.
Anyway, we have some serious Griswold action happening. In between episodes of Monster Hunters Harley tries to make the American dream come to life in our backyard. Every now and the I snap an adorable photo and post it on Facebook or slide it in the photo album. Now, this physical manifestation of our American dream is crumbling before our very eyes. It’s sort of like the rose in Beauty and the Beast. The boards rot one-by-one in an echo of our actual deferred home maintenance. If I sound a little dramatic, it’s probably because I went to the State Fair yesterday and I haven’t had an hour of adult time in about five days. As a family with young kids it’s seriously hard to keep all the balls in the air. There are so many people that need to be taken care of. We need to feed them, teach them useful skills, take them to the fair, make them eat vegetables, and pay to have their teeth straightened. Not to mention, the adults are supposed to stay happily married. Seriously, who thought up this shit? I bet they didn’t have kids. That plan needs more funding and more people. I’m beat.
For me, reflecting on the play house explains why Family Vacation resonated so deeply with so many people. It is such a perfect portrayal of our quest for the American dream. Most of us are in the family truckster with Aunt Edna strapped to the roof and a dead dog tied to the bumper. And Wally World is closed. That movie came out twenty years ago, but I’m still right there with it. The play house is our Wally World.
Before: Look how cute it was!
Three years later.
This doesn’t even do it justice. The swings are hanging off at an odd angle and my six-year old dangled out the window and added some graffiti to the front. It says, “To Daphne. To Silas.” Some of the letters are backwards.
Here are Kristi and I enjoying the party as we watch our children incur minor injuries on unsafe, even by German standards, play structures. I guess the lesson might be that with good friends and a sense of humor we can make it through anything. Still, I would also like a trip to Hawaii. I picked up a brochure at Costco last week. Apparently, it’ll take more than a crumbled play house to beat the Griswold out of me.
Summer, I Can’t Wait to See You in Pictures
I have two more weeks before my kids go back to school. On the one hand, I want it to be over. I’m wiped out and need a breather. We’ve been partying hard for three solid months and have ridden all the rides and seen all of the bears. No one ever sleeps at the same time. Seriously, the kids sleep in shifts.
On the other hand, I’m sad (weepy sad because I’m exhausted). Summer is filled with precious time with my kids. There is at least one moment each day when I can’t believe how lucky I am, snuggling with the baby, reading a book with Daphne, or being surprised by something cool they did. They are the kind of moments I imagined when I thought about having kids way back when. Here’s the rub: In my pre-child musings, those moments were sandwiched between other activities that I recognized as sane. Here’s a possible line-up of moments: 1. dishes, 2. reading on the couch, 3. child playing with toys while I read the newspaper.
Here’s a more realistic string of activities: 1. Kids screaming at each other because they can’t agree on a Netflix program, 2. Me yelling, “TURN OFF THE TV.” 3. A really sweet moment reading with Daphne that is interrupted because I realize the baby is coloring on the toilet with a mascara wand (high quality department store mascara, by the way). 4. Everyone is suddenly starving. It will tun out they were only hungry enough to eat a stolen popsicle while I cooked something they won’t eat. 5. Daphne finds the mascara I should have thrown away. I think about googling the dangers of using mascara that has been previously dipped in the toilet, but decide it’ll probably be fine.
As you can see, number three was really nice. I love reading with the kids. However, those sweet moments are almost never framed by anything other than chaos, housework, or guilt because I’m letting them gorge in front of the TV. That’s why you have to have a photo album. You can see the sweet moments in isolation without a soundtrack of Katy Perry and screaming in background. I need to update my photo album so I can relive summer in silence this fall. It’ll probably make me cry.
Summer is just one more example of how life is out balance, at least my life. Why do we still have a school schedule that follows the harvest? I bet France doesn’t do that anymore. I wish my kids could go to school for four hours a day most of the year with a couple of weeks off here and there. That wouldn’t be ideal for people with full-time jobs, but I doubt summer is either. For my part, I’d have more energy for them and time for work every day. That isn’t going to happen, though, so I’ll send them off to school with a quivering lip in two weeks, sad because I want a break, but not that much of a break, until we do it all again next summer.