I am on the verge... of a nervous breakdown... or greatness... it depends on the day.

Her Fearful Symmetry

I just finished an advance reading copy of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I should begin by saying that The Time Traveler's Wife is my favorite book. I have loaned it... and lost it... many times. It's one of those books that begs to passed on and lost track of. I like to think that my very first copy is sitting somewhere on a bedside table with stained pages, turned down corners, and tiny notes scrawled in the margins. Well read, well enjoyed, and ready to continue its journey.

I have been savoring Her Fearful Symmetry for several days. The story is full of family, friendship, love, and dysfunction. Elspeth Noblin has died, but her spirit lives on in her flat. Despite being quite dead, Elspeth manages to influence the lives of her nieces and her lover in ways that are not always entirely favorable.

I hesitate to explain, because I don't want to take away one moment of a potential readers' uncertainty, discomfort, hesitation, curiosity, and ultimately complete and utter enjoyment of the ride. I couldn't stop reading, yet I wanted it to last. I hope it has the same effect on you.

In fact, I'm planning to loan this book to one of my close friends. I expect that, after she reads it, she'll ask if I mind if she passes it on to someone else who is curious about it. I will probably never see my copy again... I can only hope that Elspeth's ghost continues to entrance all who read it, and that I somehow win another copy. Oh, and if I do happen to obtain a signed copy by some fearful twist of fate, it will not meet a similar end. Despite the loss of symmetry, that one will stay by my bed - well read, enjoyed thoroughly, with tiny notes in the margins - a sign of a truly beloved book.

For more on Her Fearful Symmetry, watch for my entry in the blog of new releases this week.

My Vision for the FWJ Logo

Where Were You on 9/11/01?

I was at home with my 4 year old son watching PBS. The plumber came to the door to work on our bathroom and asked if I had seen the news - something was going on. I turned the TV to NBC.

What we witnessed, my little boy, the plumber, and I, looked more like a scene from a disaster movie than reality. I suppose it was that my mind was unable to process that this was happening. Here. In the USA. The safest country in the world.

I did my best to control my fear, anxiety, and horror. 4 year olds can pick up on so much. I couldn't keep the tears at bay. The plumber stood in shock next to my chair.

By the time the second tower fell, I was on the phone with the school. My other two children were there. My instinct was fear for their safety. I was assured that security was tight and the kids were safe. I resisted the urge to pick them up. We don't live near a major city. They would be as safe at school as at home... but I waited anxiously all day to see them.

I tried to explain to them, at ages 7 and 9, what had happened because I knew that they would hear about it at school. The teachers had managed to keep the news from them so that families could discuss it first. It's tough to be reassuring when you don't feel secure.

So today we mourn... whether we witnessed it live or on television... whether we knew someone who was lost or not... we all mourn for the dead... and for our innocent belief that we are safe.

Unnecessary Punctuation

I was driving home from the dentist when I happened to notice this bar:

Don't unnecessary apostrophes tick you off?

Teen = Angst

If you are unfamiliar with the equation, chances are you don't have any teenage children and I envy you. Every decision, every consequence, every discussion, and every relationship is fraught with angst. It's exhausting to watch.

Take my son. Well, don't really take him, he's a good kid and I'll keep him, but check out this example... He is signed up for 4 advanced courses for his 10th grade year. He came to me and said that he would like to drop AP World History.

Now, this particular course has already caused us undue stress. It is a two year sequence and the teacher insists upon using homework questions based on a textbook. A textbook that is NOT the textbook she has provided to the students. And the answers don't seem to be in the classnotes either. Last year we spent approximately 12,346 hours looking for answers to very precise questions based on text that we had no access to.

Anyway, he is going to take IB PreCalc, Honors English, and Physics. I have no problem with him dropping the class. None. I showed no resistance. I offered to contact the guidance department to try to figure out what he needs to take in place of the class from hell.

And yet... he continues to bring it up. It's as if he expected me to argue it with him so keeps stating his points. I've tried everything. So now I am just riding his wave of angst. I suppose once his schedule is changed it will end. Or he will get an ambiguous text from some girl that will redirect his angst to some intense social issue.

Maybe I'll just take a picture of him and caption it "Got Angst?"

What I Have Learned as a Freelance Writer - Tip #1

I have been freelance writing for about 3 months. The journey has been interesting... at times frustrating... but ultimately rewarding. I am constantly learning new things about this business and plan to share them here - both as a reminder to myself and to help others.

Tip #1

Find a reputable freelance site.

I currently receive most of my work through I scour the freelance listings online, but Elance provides tons of perks. Most jobs there have reasonable budgets. You have the ability to review the buyers' award ratio, thereby deciding whether to spend the time bidding on a job listed by someone who has listed 10 and awarded only 1. There are downsides: paying for 'connects' to bid on jobs and backend fees, but the benefits to new freelancers are worth it.

Elance offers escrow so that you know that the money has been allocated for your job and will be available upon completion. The Water Cooler forum is frequented by experienced freelancers who are willing to help out with advice as well as Elance personnel who try to respond to issues.

Elance has tons of positives and is well worth the few negatives, especially for freelancers who are new and looking for a way to learn the business.

Looking for me? I'm on Elance.

Public Market Adventure From the Verge

We took the kids to the Public Market today. My thinking was that it would be a fun adventure... they thought it would be a great chance to suck the fun out of the day.

The complaints began on the way to the Market. They were carsick. They were bored. They were generally unhappy. Once we arrived, they were hot, thirsty and (you guessed it) unhappy.

My youngest had an excuse. He's on crutches for this:

2 fractures in his left ankle. The distal tibia and fibula are both fractured at the growth plates. I know, ouch, right?

But he complained less than his brothers. They were texting and complaining. All. Morning. Long.

They even complained during smoothies, empanadas, and fried dough. Nobody should complain while eating fried dough. It's just not right.

Unfortunately for them I was unmoved by their crabbiness. I bought 2 designer knockoff purses for $80 and a cute top for $10. I moved on to trail mixes, bread, scones, veggies, fruit and pierogies.

Next time hubby and I will go to the Public Market alone... unless I feel the need to torture my children by feeding them delicious junk and giving them money to buy stuff again. *sigh* There's just no satisfying some people.