I've never been a fan of the bad boys. They never call, they dog around, and they leave you lonely on a Saturday night. Nuh-uh. No, thank you. Most of the time, even when I was young and stupid, I chose the nice guys. Sure, some of them might've not *looked* so nice, like the guy with the mohawk and Circle Jerks t-shirt, but I promise, he was much more teddy bear than Sid Vicious.
Except for when I'm writing. Then--oh boy. The bad boys just bubble right up. The husband in my last manuscript wasn't nice. He was central to the conflict, so he had to be the bad guy. Sure, he had some good qualities, but overall: jackass.
I wanted my current WIP to be different. I didn't want the ol' woman-wisens-up plotline. This husband was going to be cool. Supportive. ...Nice!
I finished up my draft, sent it off to betas, and guess what? NO ONE LIKES HIM. "He did this, he did that, your MC should leave him!" I went back through the manuscript and OMG. They were right! He's an ass!
What the? I like nice guys! I know tons of nice guys! I'm married to a nice guy! Observe:
Cute, right? Nice, too!
Sure, I wanted the husband to be nuanced. Imperfect. I guess I went a little overboard on that. Now I'm going back, chapter by chapter, and taking another look why he's so misunderstood.
What's my problem? Is this some sort of Freudian thing?
Have you ever had a character give you fits like this? Or, have you ever been misjudged?
Apropos of my Soundtrack post, I was dallying around on the internet the other day and ran across this question:
What song or musician has most influenced your life?
Hmm, I thought. None of them? I like music and all, but I've always considered books, or even movies, to influence me more. To Kill a Mockingbird. Gatsby. A Wrinkle in Time. Hell, even Flowers in the Attic had a more profound effect on what I wanted to do with my life. (Umm, because the story drew me in, not...well, never mind.) The question stuck with me, though, and I wanted the answer to be something profound. Dylan! Billie Holiday! Beethoven's Ode to Joy!
Alas, I'm not so deep. If I'm honest with myself, I'll have to admit it. Here lies the song that most influences my thoughts...
Oh my God, Becky! Why does this song haunt me so? Ever since 1992! I walk down the sidewalk and catch a glimpse of my reflection in a shop window--and it starts up in my head. I LIKE BIG BUTTS AND I CANNOT LIE!
Noooo! I don't even have *that* big of a butt. Still, I look into the next window, pivoting to see if it looks ROUND and BIG. And is this a good thing? Did he really like big butts? It's like Sir Mix-A-Lot is my personal insecurity fairy, whispering in my ear.
I wish it weren't so. I'd like to remove that particular song completely from memory, because no good comes of it.
Do you have a song like that, the bad penny that keeps coming back? I hope not!
Ahh, springtime. Days beautiful enough to fling open the windows and let the fresh(ish) air blow in. Watching the buds bloom on the ginkgo tree outside my window. Hearing the sounds of birds chirping (well, cooing), children playing, and JACKHAMMERS DRILLING INTO MY BRAIN!
Oh, that's right. I forgot. Now that the weather is nice, time for all the street fixing/structure demolishing/building maintenance(ing?) to commence! How wonderful, now that I'm rushing to get a new manuscript off to my agent.
Close the window, you say? I've been doing that, and it helps with the noise, but an open window is the closest thing I have to actual outside time at the moment. Sadly, I'm beginning to resemble a naked mole rat wearing yoga pants and an old Ramones t-shirt.
How about drowning out the noise with music? Maybe so! I haven't found just the right style conducive to writing. Let's see: I run in the park blasting Lady Gaga (don't judge), I make dinner to The Rolling Stones, and take a shower to, well, NPR. Writing, however, has been silent so far.
Last week I ordered a dress online, and when it came, it wasn't quite right. A little tight across the back, and the neckline made me look like a nun. Bummer. I returned it for a refund.
You know what I wouldn't send back? A child. Lately, I've been hearing so much about these evil Russian children adoptive parents just *have* to return. Or send to Bad Kid Camps, which is a much better option, but still, sad. I feel so awful for these kids, especially being an adopted child myself. CNN seems to disagree with me. (I was looking for the first half of this clip, but I couldn't find it online. It was heavily slanted in favor of adoptive parents, IMO, and failed to mention the 15 kids who died from U.S. parental abuse.)
Look, I know. I wasn't there. These parents didn't sign up for a troubled kid, and troubled kids are tough. Maybe every one of these kids really were psycho (though I haven't yet read about any arson aside from burning papers in a garbage can or any real injuries--only threats--but I'll reserve judgment until the facts come out.) If my kid drew pictures of our house burning down, yep, it would be a problem. Possibly shrink time.
Once, my then three-year-old daughter became so enraged at her older sister she screamed like a wildcat, jumped on her sister, and shoved a harmonica down her throat.* She went nuts. Beet-faced, bug-eyed, I'm-going-to-kill-someone nuts. It took forever for her to calm down.
And I was mad. MAD mad. She choked her sister! The naughty chair was well-utilized that day, my friends.
I wouldn't send her away. Because she's my daughter. When you adopt a kid, he's yours. Just like he popped out of your own uterus.
At least that's what my parents told me (they didn't actually say "uterus," but, you know.) I might've been better behaved as a child if I thought there was a return policy. At 5, I scratched my name on the lid of my parent's piano with a safety pin and let's not even speak of the many, many tween and teenage mistakes I made. No, let's not.
Many of these kids suffered a history of abuse, both from bio moms and from the orphanages from whence they came. Is it so shocking when anger issues arise? Everyone seems so surprised! This most recent adoptive mother only gave her new son seven months until she flew the seven-year-old back to Russia and hired a stranger from the internet to pick him up from the airport. Didn't even bother to accompany him herself. Disgusting. Even if she was misled about his mental health, there is no excuse for this. At the very least, get him there safely.
What do you think? Maybe the answer is to better set expectations, not stop all Russian adoption completely. Dissenters welcome, as always.
Blog friends, what *is* proper etiquette after spilling one's peachtini down the side of one's own dress and onto some poor man's shoes? Is said spiller supposed to grab a cocktail napkin, get on all fours and dab away? Personally, I opted for the slurred-but-heartfelt apology approach. Thank goodness he wasn't mad.
So yes, I went to my fancypants party last night, bangs still not quite grown out, but presentable. I had a drink, (okay, two. Maybe three. But no more than that.) chatted with friends I hadn't seen in a while, and might've actually taken to the dance floor when they played the Stray Cats.
Luckily for my writing, I'm revising a chapter that takes place at a fancypants party similar to this one. I took particular notice of everything going on around me, and indeed had an epiphany for my climactic scene, which, as of now, has MAKE THIS FUNNIER scrawled in the margins. Hooray!
Sadly, I drank too much to remember what it was. I've been pondering it all day. I even tried pulling my dress out of the dry cleaning bag and smelling it, in the hopes the scent of peaches would bring it all back to me.
What tricks do you do to jog your memory?
(And remember, kids: wide-lipped martini glasses and constantly refilled tasty fruity drinks don't mix.)
UPDATE: Here's the NYTimes coverage of the party. Shockingly, I'm not mentioned.
Given that I have the truly original handle of "WendyNYC" over on AbsoluteWrite, I've had a few people ask me about the Real Housewives show. Ya' know. Since I live in New York and all. Did I know any of them? (No.) Are women in New York really like that? (No. Well, some.) Would I ever try out for the show? (NO. Nononono. And again, no.)
So what with all the interest, I thought I would outline a few differences between me and the RHONYC ladies.
First off, yep, we have a few similarities:
1. I live on the Upper East Side. I know, I know. Snobsville. Velvet headband city. What's the difference between an Upper East Sider and Upper West Sider? The Eastsider brags about the size of her closet and the Westsider brags about the size of her bookshelves.
I like my Carnegie Hill neighborhood okay, but if we didn't have kids, we'd probably be cool downtown loft people.
2. I spend time in the Hamptons. Quite a bit, actually. My parents live there.
3. I have attended a fashion show. Regular blog readers know how well that went.
4. I'm not originally from Manhattan. I don't think any of them are, either.
But there are some key differences, aside from the whole not-really-wanting-to-be-on-a-reality-show thing. This includes, but is not limited to:
1. I am, indeed, an actual housewife. Even though the term makes me want to don my pearls and vacuum the living room, I am not working outside of the home. I hawk neither baubles nor skinny margaritas, fabrics nor cosmetics I cook up in my tub. I write, obviously, but most of the time? Hausfrau, baby.
1.My friends (I have some! Really!) and I enjoy each other's company. If there is someone I don't care for, I choose to avoid her without making a huge stink.
2. When I am not invited to a party, I tend not to freak out about it. Sometimes people I know have different circles of friends. Shocking!
3. No one writes a script for what I say and do. I mean, really. The cameras just happen to be rolling when Bethenny calls Jill to make up and Countess Whoever just happens to be there at that exact moment so they can put her on speakerphone and laugh? Wow, lucky timing.
4. I stay home most nights and watch TV. Which they are clearly not doing. At least they aren't watching Bravo make asses of them.
So there you have it.
My husband gives me such trouble when I watch this show. Mostly I don't care and will watch anyway, but I have to admit, my interest has waned this season.