How to Write a Book in Three Days (aka How to Gain Weight & Alienate People)

The plan was deceptively simple: enroll my kids in a week-long day camp and use that time to finish the manuscript that I’ve been working on for months. I would have six blissfully uninterrupted hours to myself every day for a week. For the first time in over eight years.

In the days leading up to my Workshop of Writing (henceforth known as W.O.W.), I was a domestic whirling dervish: frozen dinners were bought; laundry was washed; and lunches were preassembled.

I wrote my blog entries for the week and people were warned that I would not be answering the door/phone/e-mail unless there was a death/fire/pie in my immediate vicinity. I was ready to W.O.W. my ass off.

Here’s how it went down:

Day One
Work out at 6:00am, before kids wake up. Drop them off at camp, return home and feng shui writing space:

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Prepare healthy snacks and keep them within reach to avoid a carb coma:

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The result? Over 2,500 words written (previous daily record was 648). Fairly certain pages do not suck. Since manuscript is aimed at kids aged seven to ten, achieving such a high number so early in the week suggests that I will write many books a year once both kids are in school full time.

Day Two
Halfway through early morning workout, son calls me from his bed. He has fever and feels barfy (those familiar with his work know that he pukes like a psychopath). The Serb takes daughter to camp while I play son with Gravol and Tylenol.

As he flits in and out of consciousness, I type like a woman possessed. Also ate this for lunch:

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The result? 2,000 passable words and a stomach ache.

Day Three
Wake up ten minutes before daughter is due at camp. Son stays home to catch up on sleep. He does not sleep. Despite being grouchy and exhausted, I crank out another 2,500 words.

This helped:

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Son feels better and I celebrate with trip to chiropractor that evening to fend off shoulder cramps. During treatment, my entire back seizes. Chiropractor must use electrode thingies/massage for an hour before I can drive home. Feck.

Day Four:
Both kids are back at camp. My back is on ice. Two chapters are all that stand between me and W.O.W. goal. Choose apples over apple pie. Hydrating with water rather than wine. Writing, writing and more writing.

Critique partner calls from nearby Thai restaurant wanting company. Faced with option of reaching writing objective versus Pad Thai, the choice is obvious. And delicious.

The result? 1,800 words and a slightly buggered back.

Day Five:
Daughter wakes up with fever. Demonstrating mother-of-the-year skills for which I’m known, I pour Tylenol down her gullet and send her on her way. I do not eat. I do not drink. I only write.

The result? 1,900 words and a finished manuscript! Parental karma immediately kicks my ass when camp calls. Daughter is in dire shape; must be picked up immediately. Do not sleep for the next three nights with sick daughter.

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Bite Me, Barbie

I have a love/hate relationship with Barbie. Growing up I had dozens of dolls along with the sailboat, uneven bars (Olympic Gymnastics Barbie!) and even the infamous Growing Up Skipper, which grew taller, slimmer and bustier with the turn of her arm.

When I had my daughter four years ago, I jumped on the prevent-unrealistic-body-image bandwagon and decided to boycott Barbie. It went about as well as my earlier plan to shield my older son from toy guns (i.e. not well…you’re welcome, Nerf, for those third-quarter results).

Fortunately, my daughter idolizes her older brother and has grown up obsessed with cars, trains and booger jokes, so I thought I’d dodged the Barbie bullet. Then she played with someone else’s Barbie. And she loved it.

As @eliskacounce  tweeted to me when I took my grievances online, where are the realistic Barbies? Is Astrophysicist Barbie too much to ask? What about Cankles Barbie? Or PMS Bloat Barbie? I’m not picky—I’d be happy with Botox-free Barbie, Settled-for-the-Dork Barbie, or Realistic-boobs Barbie.

Now, one birthday party later, my daughter is the proud owner of a pimped-out Barbie camper and an assortment of dolls, including the following:

Thing 1 and Thing 2:

They came in different boxes, from different people, but they both appear to be from the Hugh Hefner Collection.

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I think the one on the right had a face lift.

Eastern Bloc Whore Barbie:
I’m not sure which (circa 1992) rave this chick stumbled out of, but she is looking rough.

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The smudged red lipstick tells you everything you need to know about this one.

Ethnic Barbie:
In my attempt to add a little diversity to the mix, I bought Urban Barbie but ended up with Kate-Middleton-with-a-Tan instead.

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Check out those non-knees.

Stepford Camping Family:
Alas, the Serb never ran into these kinds of campers on their father and son trips.

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Like Toddlers & Tiaras, but these girls are more lifelike.

Confused Ken:
Unfortunately, this was the only Ken I could find* and he looks more like a Late-in-Life Lesbian than a hot surfer dude, which is a far more realistic representation of our culture than the creepily perfect blonde family.

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Your purse isn’t helping your case, Ken.

As the Serb watched me spend an hour dressing, posing and photographing my daughter’s Barbies, he made a comment that speaks to Barbie’s enduring appeal:

“For someone who fronts like she’s anti-Barbie, you seem to be having a lot of fun playing with them.”

Well played, Serb. Well played. (And speaking of playing, Barbie and Ken have a mani/pedi date. I gotta go…)

*Confession: there was a “Sweet Talking Ken” for sale with the ability to record a short message that Ken repeats. Can you imagine what kind of filth the Serb my kids would record and play back to me?

Guns and Pedicures Don’t Mix

I’m not a fan of guns. Years ago I went to a firing range with some girlfriends as part of a “Charlie’s Angels” day (shooting followed by mani/pedis and tarot card readings). While a few of the ladies loved shooting those targets, I was completely turned off. There was something about holding a weapon capable of blowing someone’s head off that didn’t appeal to me.

Unfortunately, my kids haven’t inherited my disdain for firearms. In fact, they can’t get enough of them. I suspect it’s my karma for trying to provide a “weapon-free” home for my children (stop with your laughing).

My son is now eight, but before he could talk he would pick up anything—a spatula, a rock, a cracker—and point it at me while making a “pew” sound. He didn’t watch TV and we never had guns as toys, so he didn’t even know the word “gun” (he called it a “pewer”).

The Serb advised me to go with it (“Kids love guns. Plus, he’s half Serbian.”) but I was compelled to make my son understand the inherent danger of guns. My solution? Bambi.

It was the first movie I ever saw and I’m still scarred by his mom’s death by the hunters. Since my kid had to leave the theatre in hysterics when Wall-e left his little cockroach buddy behind, I figured one viewing of Bambi would scare him straight.

We set up a movie night and I snuggled in next to my son. He was riveted as Bambi’s mom approached the clearing. The shots rang out and I felt him jump beside me. He slowly turned to look at me.

“Mommy, is she dead?” he whispered.

“I think so, sweetie,” I answered.

“Did the hunters shoot her?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “They shot her. Dead. Bambi’s mom is dead.” The time for subtlety had passed.

He looked back at the movie. Bambi was scrambling around, calling for his mama. I was risking an aneurysm trying to hold back my sobs.

Finally, my son looked at me.

“Do you think the hunters will cut her up and eat the meat at the campsite, or take it home first?”

Feck.

If you can watch this without hyperventilating in a fetal position, then we may be fighting.

Guns and Pedicures

How to Avoid a Speeding Ticket Without Throwing Your Panties

You know how some women complain of Dummy Mummy syndrome when they’re pregnant? When they can’t remember/find/accomplish much of anything because most of their brain power is being siphoned by a 3-ounce fetus? I suffer from a particularly virulent strain of Dummy Mummy that has lasted well past gestation, through toddlerhood, and appears to be settling in for my children’s tween years.

I can lose my keys when I’m holding them in my hand. I once put a package of mushrooms away in the dryer. My kids play Let’s Find Mommy’s Glasses on a daily basis and, more often than not, they are found on my head. My point being, I’m often operating at a level that would suggest I not operate heavy machinery.

A few years ago I was driving my son to school—stuck behind a school bus going the speed limit—and we passed a speed trap. I slapped on a mental post-it to slow down on the way home and promptly forgot all about it. Ten minutes later I blew past the police car going 45 kilometres per hour over the speed limit (29 miles per hour for you non-metric types).

The officer who pulled me over was not impressed with my Daisy Duke driving demonstration. He was even less amused when I couldn’t find my registration. After spending ten minutes in his cruiser, the officer came back and informed me that not only was I speeding and lacking proper registration, but my driver’s license had also expired. Sixteen months earlier.

At that moment I did what women (and more than a few men) have done in my situation since the first Model A Ford rolled off the assembly line: I cried.

Through my tears I explained that when the license had expired I was pregnant and on sick leave with pneumonia, impetigo (!), pink eye, strep throat and a host of other maladies, leaving me barely able to stand, let alone take notice of a renewal notice.

The policeman told me that by law he should confiscate my car on the spot and release it only when my paperwork was in order. Then he glanced in the backseat at my sleeping nine-month-old daughter, and at me with my uncombed hair and stained pajama top, and he took pity on me.

The speeding ticket was reduced from $250 and four demerit points to $70 and no demerits. Driving without registration was going to cost me a whopping $600, but he advised me to fight the fine with my medical records in court.  Since I’d been stopped only a few blocks from where I lived, the officer followed me home (rather than impounding my car) after I promised to get new registration that day.

A few weeks later I showed up in court and faced the judge. With one smack of the gavel my charges were dropped. Lesson learned: if you get stopped by a cop, try crying. If that doesn’t work, blame your spawn. If all else fails, throw your undies. As a last resort, put the three together. Game, set and match.

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Now this is my kind of speed trap.

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