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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Running for Mom

New blog entry:
Tomorrow's Eugene Marathon & Team Christine

"If Mom could get on her bike through the pain and the tears, just to be able to go, I can do this."

On October 10, 2010, my younger sisters, my brothers-in-law and I ran 13.1 miles in the rain. This we did in memory of our mom, who'd lost her excruciating battle with neuroendocrine cancer six months earlier. Together--thanks to the loving support of our friends--we raised $5,015 in Mom's memory for the American Cancer Society.

As we neared the end, my sister Rachael got quieter. Each step was harder than the last, but remembering Mom's ferocious spirit in her final days gave Rachael the strength to persevere.

Tomorrow Rachael and Nick will run once more for Team Christine. It'll undoubtedly be a struggle, but most things worth accomplishing are.
Always and forever

Blogger not-versus blogger

New blog entry:
A new blogging project

A couple of my blogging buddies have participated in blogging projects connecting them to other bloggers. Those projects have seemed pretty time-consuming from the outside, but I've seen resounding connections spring from them.

When I saw reference to Tom Baker's I Would Like To Publish Your Favorite Blog Post project on Finding the Humor, my curiosity was piqued. I love spending hours tag-surfing as much as the next blogger, but I haftadmit I like the thought of having several bloggers' personal faves presented to me in one tidy bundle.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Road rage takes a spill! (or: “How parenting is making me a better driver”)

New blog entry:
Road rage on ice


Swearing is good for you.

OK, that might be a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s true that swearing may sometimes be beneficial (Why Swearing Helps Ease Pain: Benefits of Curse Words – TIME).

Does this mean I’m ready to send my toddler to pirate school? Nope. Am I going to teach him my favorite pain-relieving curse words? Also nope. That’s because, unlike most adults, he’s a ways out from knowing when it’s OK to drop the F-bomb and when it’s going to earn him (or his mom!) a scolding.

As you know if you read this entry, I’ve inadvertently dropped the F-bomb in my son’s presence. Li’l D latched on to it and repeated it the same enthusiastic way he’d exclaim, “Puppy!”

After that, I knew it was time to start really watching what comes out of my mouth. That’s easy when I’m not driving. I just don’t curse. But when I’m driving?

The face of road rage

Did you see that donkey-!@#!@#?! Or that DOUCHEBAGAMUS EXTREMUS?! And look at that foo–yo, you need to drive with your ass on the seat, not at the steering wheel!

I may step into the car all smiles, but my very vocal dark side takes over the instant I turn the car key. (My significant other, Ba.D., has asked me if I’m Italian. I don’t believe so.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From a high school alien

New blog entry:
Aliens Doing Headstands


With 20 years of journaling under my belt, I’d almost have to have one entry written on April 26. Right? Alas, I apparently had some kind of aversion to documenting my life on 4/26 of any year.

I break that cycle today, here, now! You are part of this proud moment. (About that look on your face–is that what “underwhelmed” looks like?)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christian then, Jewish now, but always full of love

New blog entry:
A happy Easter indeed


About a week ago, I got a message on Facebook asking, “Do you remember me?”

I wrote back, “HOLY COW. Do I remember you?!”

My childhood was marked by sequences of minor and major tragedies. Once in a while, those tragedies would go on vacation, leaving me and my siblings to enjoy mostly cheerful times. Many such times were with my mom’s friend D and her children. Unlike my mom’s other “friends,” D wasn’t interested in knocking my mom’s life to feel better about her own. She and my mom had good arguments and good times alike together.

The same was true of the relationships between my mom’s kids and D’s kids. Oh, how we could fight! Amidst the typical childhood squabbles, though, there were a lot of really sweet moments.

Many of my favorite moments were with D’s daughter H. She was simultaneously sweet and ferocious, so that I felt virtually invulnerable when she was around. Sure, she might have choice words for me if I said something stupid (moi? never!), but she’d also tell someone off if they looked at me wrong. She celebrated a couple of adolescent milestones with me, taking me out for bagels so that I felt like a big, worldly woman.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Heated storage unit? YEAH!

New blog entry:
Burning down the house

Know how long it takes to cook a high chair tray cover while heating your oven to 425 degrees?

I don’t know about your oven, but I can tell you the answer for mine: somewhere around 3 minutes.

My 18-month-old son loves our oven. Apart from our dog’s kennel, it’s the biggest, most awesome place in our apartment to insert oneself and/or one’s favorite toys. Childproofing mechanisms? Check it out, the oven’s even more fun: it’s a storage bin shielded by a maze!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boyfriends, exes and the totality of love

New blog entry:
"The love inside, you take it with you"

Please, please live long enough to meet your grandson.

In the early weeks of my son’s life, I called my mom in tears almost every day. “Crap, Mom, I just went to see another lactation consultant. I can’t make this work!”

My mom treated each of these conversations about breastfeeding as if it was our first conversation on the matter. Each time, she shared anecdotes, recommended research points, and told me she was proud of me for persevering as long as I had.

Each time, I hung up the phone with a smile. Yeah, I can do this thing! Then I’d remember my mom’s failing health and start crying anew. I prayed time and again that she’d live long enough to meet her grandson on Thanksgiving.

Planning my Thanksgiving trip to Eugene was a feat. I had the intellectual capacity of a My Little Pony but had to coordinate a combination of land and air travel for no fewer than three people. All my travel up to that point had involved searchin’ and purchasin’. Nothing more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bad goals! Bad!

New blog entry:
The beat goes on

April 19th. It is somehow already April 19th.

Can someone explain to me how this happened? I was just wishing everyone a happy new year, and now I’ve blinked to find the year’s already waving a welcome to May.

There’s some good to this. I’ll be visiting and visited by a handful of dear friends over the next few months. I’ll meet the new lives just ushered into the world by friends. I’ll geek out hardcore at SDCC, where I’ll have the sense to buy next year’s tickets in advance. (I’m serious. None of this Ba.D.-sweating-it-out-while-clicking-”refresh”-hundreds-of-times business.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Insidious & my horror movie rating system

New blog entry:
Poltergeist 2011

"I kinda hate you right now, Deb."

My friend Elsha whispered these words to me in the middle of Insidious. She and her boyfriend Dave had joined me for the movie despite--like me--knowing very little about it.

Let's rewind a bit. On September 29, 2008, I described my personal horror movie rating system as follows:

There are four stages of horror movie success for me:
(1) ABYSMAL FAILURE: The closest I come to screaming is yawning, a lot
(2) MODERATE FAILURE: I have moments of interest that almost, almost verge on fear
(3) ALMOST WIN: This is characterized by me unconsciously lifting my feet off the floor just in case the monsters I'm suddenly suspicious live under the theater chairs try to eat them. Still, I've pretty much forgotten the movie by the time I reach the theater door
(4) WIN: That evening, I sleep with the light on. Just in case.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Schizophrenia, cancer & motherhood

New blog entry:
Teaser . . . Sunday?

March 3, 2010 (fb)
Deborah Bryan just got a call from her sisters asking if she wanted to thank mom for anything. Among others, she thanked her mom for: life, three amazing siblings, encouraging her childrens’ dreams, laughter through hardship, demonstrating the importance of true apology, and of course calling one of Deborah’s boyfriends stupid for saying Rache was prettier.

I posted this status unwitting to the fact my mom had barely more than a day left to live, if you could call the suffering she endured in her final days “living.”

This status update is now part of a 93,000-word source document containing every tweet, Facebook status, journal entry and blog entry referencing my mom. I’m composing my portion of a three-sister memoir recalling one mom’s descent into schizophrenia with frequent reference to this document.

Schizophrenia’s onset seemed pretty sudden the summer of 2003. Sure, Mom had always been colorful, but that was when I could no longer deny there was more than eccentricty at play. “Wait, guys, does Mom really believe Conan O’Brien is doing testing on her? And we’re in it with him, and the Cheshire Cat?” My source document illumines that my mom’s fingernails were cracking from the strain of trying to hold on to her sanity for years before that seemingly sudden onset.

After The Big Bang Theory's season wrap party . . .

New blog entry:
The relativity of success

Some days, “success” means running a marathon, writing the last chapter of your novel, or summiting K2. I’ve done all these things, of course.

Other days, “success” means resisting the compulsion to crawl under your work desk and clutch the contents of your inbox tightly while pretending they’re your favorite teddy bear. If you had a teddy bear, of course, which you don’t because you’re not five years old anymore.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Remembering the bigger picture

New blog entry:
Wait, is that Kenny Rogers?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find you sometimes look so intently at one face in a picture that you forget there’s anything else in the picture: OMG my crush is so dreamy so dreamy so dreamy. Wait, is that Kenny Rogers in the corner?!

That’s what it’s like when you edit something. You get so focused on one component of the work–the flow of the words–that you stop seeing the overall story they combine to create.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Color blind, or color impervious?

New blog entry:
Race & my mother's footsteps

"So it's gonna be biracial."

These were my mom's words when I showed her a picture of me and my future baby daddy.

These words could have been uttered with just about any kind of emotional inflection imaginable: humor, rage, disregard, antagonism. As actually spoken by my mom, they might have been about a trip to the supermarket or the day's weather: "Oh, fancy that. Another cloudy day in Eugene!"

I told my mom drily, "Yes, that does tend to be a consequence of having a white mom and a black dad."

That was it. That was our entire conversation on race before my mom passed away almost a year later. Frankly, it was a much more exhaustive conversation than I’d expected on the matter, which–knowing my mom–I hadn’t even realized would warrant note.

Much more important to my mom was the question, “How’d that happen?” When she asked these words immediately after I announced that I was pregnant, she wasn’t asking for a refresher on sex ed. She was asking, “How’d my presumably lesbian daughter end up pregnant?”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Phooey on you, insurmountability!

New blog entry:
Pens & pitchforks

“oh nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”

This was Sarah’s exact response when I gave her a couple-sentence synopsis of The Monster’s Daughter’s sequel. It mirrors my own sentiments when I read the book’s concluding paragraph about two weeks ago.

In my case, the feeling didn’t come out of the blue. It started in mid-March as a fleeting, almost imperceptible discomfort in the pit of my stomach when I read a scene about midway through the book. As I continued my first revision and moved nearer the book’s conclusion, my discomfort grew more and more pronounced.

It was a full week after I’d finished my first revision that I was able to pinpoint the source of it. In the same conversation excerpted at the beginning of this entry, I told Sarah, “i do believe life can be very shitty sometimes, but i am troubled by this degree of shittiness.”

During and after that conversation with Sarah, I despaired at the prospect of having to scrap the book in its entirety. If I had to do that, I’d have to do the same for the third book. Despite Sarah’s suggestions there were many ways to avoid a total rewrite of TMD 2, I knew there was absolutely no way I could keep the story’s core and simply retool it. None! I’d have to do a total rewrite.

Oh, how I despaired!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Take two

It's come to my attention that some folks don't like shouting out their name across the interwebs. It's also been pointed out that some folks in that group might rather enjoy a free ebook of The Monster's Daughter. This can be expressed simply as follows:

Vampire Venn

In deference to y'all in the middle there, I'm just going to tweet the coupon code tomorrow morning. I'll disable the code after 25 downloads (or end of day, whichever is sooner--you did see that I'm in contracts, right?).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

TMD! All free-like!

My, how things change over the course of ten weeks!

I released The Monster’s Daughter in late January of this year. I’d run it through beta readers for their invaluable feedback and spell checked it a dozen times. I’d read through it myself even more times—so many times, in fact, that I wanted to banish Ginny, Montana and vampires from my brain forever. If only doing so were as (comparatively) easy as demolishing vampires!

When I published it then, I swore I was done. I wasn’t going to touch another semi-colon or sentence again. I totally meant it, too, and I did a great job sticking to my guns for roughly 24 hours. In what feels like the eternity since I decided those pop-cap guns weren’t worth sticking to, the book’s gone through an editor and a copy editor. I’ve made some small but significant revisions. I’ve had the book formatted to look like one you’d find in a library because it actually belongs there.

Now I can also say I’ve rejoiced in holding that truly final, truly beautiful book in my hands. The Monster’s Daughterwon’t be for everyone, but I’ve heard enough praise from readers to know that it will definitely be for some.

If you’ve read a sample and think The Monster’s Daughter might be your kind of book, today’s your day! Let me know in comment that you’re interested in getting The Monster’s Daughter as a free ebook. If you do so by noon tomorrow PDT and you’re one of the first 25 requestors* (between WordPress and Blogger), I’ll send you a Smashwords coupon redeemable on April 7, 2011 PDT. If your comment doesn’t fit both those criteria, fear not! I’ll likely give away a couple of print copies in the near future.

Also, the creepy infomercial guy waving to you from over my shoulder wants to remind you the ebook is only $2.99 most places ebooks are available. Even if you didn’t get a free copy, that’s just 299 pennies more than free!

If you’ve just heard about The Monster’s Daughter or if you’ve been cheering me on since 2004, I want to thank you so much for sharing this ride with me! It’s truly the company that’s made it a ride worth taking.

* I’m giggling as I write this, because (a) I can’t for the life of me imagine 25 “requestors” and (b) using the word “requestors” makes me feel like my contracts career has taken over my entire brainpan!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A video of pre-parent, shenanigan-loving me

New entry:
New hope!

As I mention in my bio and elsewhere, I didn’t expect to enjoy motherhood. I had a special wariness in my heart toward babies, who I perceived as writhing, screaming, non-communicative balls of blubber who served no real purpose save to drive their parents crazy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


New blog entry:
Elementary school vampires

Elementary-school appropriate witch? Check. Mummy? Check. Werewolf? Check.

I was excited to teach my Japanese elementary school students (shogakusei) about Halloween, which was my favorite holiday throughout childhood. A lot of that was due to its proximity to my birthday. What's not to love about presents and candy and two consecutive days of celebration?

It wasn't all about my birthday, though. Some of my enthusiasm for Halloween was related to my early love of horror. I'd loved the genre ever since my mom found six-year-old me sneak-watching horror flicks from our hallway. Forbidden stuff, ooh!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Please don't tell me you liked it!

New blog entry:
A simple "thanks"

Ohsoawkward. Ohsoawkward.

These were my thoughts when a neighbor-turned-friend told me her feelings about The Monster's Daughter.

The funny thing was, she loves the book. Her primary comments were that: (a) it reminds her of who she was as a teen, (b) it's evoking so many feelings for her and (c) it's helped her understand feelings she couldn't quite put her finger on before.

I love it when I have those "aha!" moments thanks to someone else's words. So why is it so awkward to hear I've inspired them?