I'm so jealous to hear that you guys are going to get to watch the Tour of California on Versus! I don't get Versus up here, except when OLN carries it during the TdF, so I'm still stuck watching it on cycling.tv - bah (not that I'm ungrateful for the stellar service provided by cycling.tv - it's certainly better than nothing - I'd just much rather be on my comfy couch watching it on TV than at my desk in front of my laptop).
It's back to being ridiculously cold up here. I can't wait for spring. My pool is frozen over and now my dogs have taken to running out onto the ice and relieving themselves IN MY POOL! So gross.
An update on my first writer's group meeting: I took your wonderful feedback and made a few changes to my first chapter before reading it aloud to the group. I was so nervous that I was literally shaking. But the good news is that they really, really liked it. I got some great feedback - and this is from people who don't know me at all and thus don't have to be nice to me. I was so happy that when I got stopped by a cop on my way home for running a red light (I didn't really run it, it was yellow going in but turned red once I was already in the intersection) I didn't even care. He only gave me a warning, but I was on such a high from the fact that people - strangers - actually liked my work - that I would have whistled all the way home, even with a ticket.
I want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to read my first chapter and give me such thoughtful feedback.
Of course I love to hear from those of you who enjoyed it and even said you would buy the book after reading the first chapter - that puts a huge smile on my face - but I was also really happy to hear about the sections that didn't work for you, for whatever reason. I've already gone back through the draft and made several revisions based on your feedback so thank you, thank you, thank you.
I'm heading off to my first meeting with this writer's group that I found recently and I'll be reading this chapter aloud. I'm incredibly nervous - I HATE speaking in front of people - but I'm also looking forward to getting even more feedback so that I can further improve the story.
When chapter two is up to snuff I'll post it here so you can follow along and give me more of your thoughts.
I was doing a proofreading job for a client today so I was able to watch a lot of the Obama inauguration ceremony on and off. It was beautiful and moving and inspirational. His speech was one of the best pieces of writing I've heard in a long time. I love his verbs. However, as wonderful as watching the young Obama family take their new position at the helm, I thought the best part was when George Bush climbed onto that helicopter and took off. I waved "bye, bye" at the TV.
This is the first chapter of my novel "Georgia." You guys are the first people in the entire world to read this - I'm not kidding. I have to read it aloud at my first writer's group meeting on Tuesday so I thought I'd try it out on you guys first.
I posted this the other day - thank you so much to Amy who read it and sent along a sweet comment - but then I was lying in bed that night thinking about how I could make it better so I deleted it (sorry Amy), did some editing, and here it is again.
The summer that Jolene turned fourteen, Carterville Motors ran a
contest called “Eels for Wheels” – an idiotic idea no doubt thought up by an
assistant manager who’d been charged with promotion and thought the
alliteration was inspired.
Participants had to hold their bare arms in a tank full of biting moray
eels that had been set up in the parking lot of the dealership.The person who could stand it the longest
would drive away in a brand new midnight blue Cadillac.The Carterville Bugle and the local radio
station, KZRT, had hyped the contest for weeks ahead of time.Everyone in town was talking about it.The eels had been brought in straight from
the Great Barrier Reef, was the story going around, and they were some kind of
rare, ultra-dangerous breed.Jolene’s
friend Dawn told her that her boyfriend’s sister knew the guy who was bringing
in the eels, and he said that they’d run this same contest in Florida a few
weeks ago and an eel had bitten a woman’s whole ring-finger clean off.They’d had to slice the eel open to get her
tiffany-cut engagement ring out.
When the big day arrived, Jolene and her little sister Lexie rode
their bikes into town.When they got to
the dealership they had to push their way through the crowd that was spilling
over onto the sidewalk.Balloon bouquets
were floating in between the cars in the lot, Mrs. McKinley, who ran the bakery
in town, was selling ice cream sandwiches from a cooler, and you could even by
t-shirts.They had a picture of an eel
on the front, fangs bared, and on the back they said, “Carterville Motors –
Always a StEEL.”
The tank was there, poor eels packed in so tight that they could
barely move, sun beating down on the whole scene.One by one men and women took their turns,
some barely getting in up to their wrists before squealing at the touch of a
dorsal fin and running back to the crowd, their family and friends laughing and
clicking photos.Then a middle-aged guy
that Jolene thought she recognized from the post office walked up to the
tank.He seemed to be there alone and he
looked focused and determined.He rolled
up his sleeves and quickly plunged both arms into the tank.The eels went crazy, writhing in panic,
slipping around his elbows and wrists.Jolene was close and she was sure that she saw teeth bared more than once.The man was getting bitten; you could see it
on his face.He would wince every now
and then but he was staring, unblinking at that prized Cadillac which had been
parked beside the tank for the best photo-op.He just stood there, eyes fixed on that car, taking the pain – he wanted
it that badly.The longer he stood
there, the more the crowd cheered.Eventually it was obvious that this guy was the winner and Mr. Oberman,
the owner of Carterville Motors, moved out from the crowd, his suit jacket
straining to hold his his large drum of a belly inside, his jet black hair
sleeked back for the occasion.He held a
set of sparkling car keys out towards the guy and flashed a big grin at the
Bugle photographer. The crowd went nuts and
then guy just dropped dead.He suddenly
crumpled down to the ground, his wet arms slipping from the tank.Later on the doctor at the local hospital
would explain that he hadn’t actually died from eel bites, but rather from a
massive heart attack – maybe brought on by the heat and stress of the
moment.But that didn’t change the fact
that the biggest story in Carterville that summer was about the guy – Barry
Mulder his name turned out to be - who’d been killed by eels.Even though Jolene had been there when he
dropped the dead, the thing she remembered most from that sweltering day wasn’t
the tragedy of the man’s death, but that look in his eyes. Focused on that car.
Wanting it so badly that he would just stand there and let eels eat at his
flesh.At fourteen Jolene had never
wanted anything that badly in her life, she couldn’t imagine, but this morning,
sitting in the cool, latte-colored waiting room on the 12th floor of
New York’s Gramercy Hospital, about to walk into her third and final interview a
spot on Dr. Anderson’s pediatric surgical residency team, she understood the Eel
Man.She wanted this so badly.If the fish tank in the wall across from her now
had been filled with moray eels rather than brightly colored tropical fish, she
would have gladly rolled up her sleeves.
Jolene took a deep breath and looked around Dr. Anderson’s waiting
room. Dr. Alyssa Anderson was the Head of Pediatric Surgery at Gramercy
Hospital and Jolene was sort of in love with her.She was everything that Jolene wanted to be.The New York Times had recently described her
as an “artist” and had listed her as someone to watch in the field of
medicine.People from around the country
– wealthy people – came to her when their children’s lives were hanging in the
balance.She was simply the best.She was adding four residents to her team
this year and there was one spot left.
“Dr. Montgomery?” asked the
young assistant sitting behind the big reception desk.The gold plate on the wall behind her said
that her name was Diane.
“Yes?” Jolene jumped up like she was coming out of starting blocks.
“That was Dr. Anderson,” said Diane, replacing the phone in its
cradle.“She’s just running a little
late, but she says that you can wait in her office. It shouldn’t be long.”
Jolene followed Diane down the long hall. “So are you all ready for Thanksgiving?” asked
Diane as they walked.
“Oh, uh, I suppose so,” Jolene was caught off guard by the question.“It sort of creeps up on you every year,
Diane laughed, “Will you be getting to spend time with family?” she
“I don’t think so. My family’s never really been into the holidays
and I’ll actually be working here at the hospital for most of the holiday.My boyfriend’s parents live here in the city
so we’ll be going to their place for Thanksgiving dinner.His mother always goes all out,” said Jolene
trying to make this all sound very casual and natural; just a matter of bad
scheduling, nothing more.
“That’s too bad.Maybe next
year, right?Here we are,” said Diane,
showing Jolene through the big mahogany doors of the office at the end of the
“Thank you,” said Jolene, looking around the huge space.
Diane headed back to the reception area and Jolene took a seat
opposite the large mahogany desk covered in pictures, papers and file folders.
She looked around at the evidence of the kind of life that she’d wanted ever
since she could remember.Huge desk, soft
leather chair, photos of Dr. Anderson with young patients and their grateful
families hung next to photos of her standing shoulder-to-shoulder with heads of
state from countries where she’d traveled to offer medical assistance. Elegant frames displayed numerous degrees.Galley proofs for Dr. Anderson’s third book
on childhood obesity were strewn over the coffee table along with contact
sheets of her dust jacket photo waiting for her to make a selection.
Jolene looked down at the pictures of the doctor’s smiling face and
felt herself relax a little.Despite the
fact that she wanted this job more than anything in the world, she was actually
feeling pretty confident about her chances.She knew Dr. Anderson’s work as if it were her own, she’d had excellent
reviews from the other attendings that she’d worked with at the hospital and
she’d recently had the chance to scrub in on two different surgeries with Dr.
Anderson and Jolene had been pretty sure that the doctor had been pleased –
maybe even impressed by her work.
“Dr. Montgomery, so sorry to keep you waiting,” Dr. Anderson’s voice
came from behind her and she spun around.
“Oh, no problem at all,” said Jolene quickly taking her seat again.
“Okay, we’re both busy so let’s get right to this,” said Dr.
Anderson removing her cream-colored cashmere jacket and skimming it over the
back of her chair before taking a seat and opening up the file that Diane had
left on her desk.Her curly blond hair
was piled up at the back of her head in a loose bun, a few curls had escaped
and were tucked over her ears.She put
on a pair of thin, red reading glasses and scanned Jolene’s file.
“So, you’ve met with the residency committee a few times so you know
about the position on my team.It’s a
junior position but there’s plenty of potential for learning.It’s a great opportunity for any young doctor
interested in this area of medicine.Tell me, Jolene,” Dr. Anderson took the glasses off and looked up at
Jolene as she sat back into her chair, “Why are you interested?”
Jolene took a breath and began, “Pediatric surgery it what I’ve
wanted to do since I started applying to medical schools.A lot of doctors say that they wanted to go
into medicine so that they could help people.I went into medicine so that I could help kids.I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.”
“It doesn’t sound corny at all,” said Dr. Anderson.“But you know that as much as we want to help
every child that we see, there are times when we do everything that we can and
it’s not enough.I say this, not to dissuade you, but because I
need to know if you’re aware of how hard this particular specialty can be.The highs are high, but the lows are incredibly
low. It’s not for everyone,” said Dr.
Jolene nodded.“I appreciate
what you’re saying but I can tell you that it is for me.”
“I just want to be sure that this is really where you want to be
because, quite frankly, I need someone who’s going to be with me for the long
haul and if you can’t take it – and no one would fault you if you couldn’t –
then now is the time to decide that.There are lots of other ways for a good doctor to help kids.General pediatrics or family medicine can be both
fulfilling, and often much less stressful, career choices.”
“I absolutely understand what you’re saying but I assure you that I can
do this.It’s what I’ve worked for and I
would be truly honored to have the opportunity to work and grow as a member of
your team.” Jolene hoped that she wasn’t
gushing but every word was true.
“You’ve scrubbed in with me in the past Dr. Montgomery and I’ll be
honest - I’ve been impressed by your knowledge and your skill in the operating
room, that’s why I put you on the list when this position opened up,” said Dr.
“Thank you doctor,” said Jolene.She knew she’d made a good impression.
“Tell me, what was the name of the patient we operated together on
last Monday?” Dr. Anderson suddenly asked.
“Pardon me?” Jolene found it slightly harder to breathe.She had no idea.
“The little boy.We removed
part of his large intestine and his bowel.It was a difficult procedure but I thought you handled yourself
well.What was his name?”
Jolene racked her brain.What
the hell was that kid’s name?Ethan?
Aiden? Dr. Anderson was staring at her, waiting for an answer.
“Allen?” she finally offered.
“It was Joshua.He was seven
years old and he was looking forward to getting better so that he could play
T-ball again this spring.His team is called
the Thundercats.His mother is Gwen and
his father Graham.They run their own dry
cleaning business.Over the past six
months they’ve remortgaged their house and exhausted their entire life savings
to get Joshua the treatment that he needs for his Crohn’s disease.” Dr.
Anderson finished and continued to stare at Jolene.
“I’m sorry.I didn’t remember
that,” Jolene felt the bottom drop out of her stomach.
“Dr. Montgomery, pediatric surgery isn’t like regular surgery.People can argue with me about that but those
are people who don’t do it. The anatomy
may be the same but what’s at stake is much greater.If you have an adult on the table, an adult
who understands what’s happening, who knows the risks and has made peace with them,
has weighed the options with his or her family - an adult who has lived a life,
that’s one thing.But when you have a
child on that table, a child who is frightened and confused and who has a
mother and a father standing outside who know for certain that they will die if
they lose that child, that is a responsibility that you have to put before all
else.It’s not enough to just be a great
surgeon in my business Dr. Montgomery.It’s not enough.”
Jolene strained her brain for words but she was speechless.She had not prepared for this.
Dr. Anderson glanced down at her watch and slapped Jolene’s file
shut on her desk.
“Okay, I think we’re done here.Thank you Dr. Montgomery, I appreciate you coming in.I have a few more residents to meet with but
I’ll be making a decision over the next couple of weeks. I need to get the new
team up and running as soon as possible after Thanksgiving,” Dr. Anderson stood
giving Jolene her cue that it was time to go.
“Thank you Dr. Anderson,” said Jolene, standing and shaking her
outstretched hand.“And have a lovely
holiday,” Jolene didn’t know what else to say.She wanted to stay and fix whatever had just happened.She wanted to say the right thing to change
Dr. Anderson’s mind.She felt her one
chance slipping away.But instead she
simply smiled and thanked Dr. Anderson again as she walked out the office door
and back down the hall towards Diane and the fish.
In the cab on the way home, Jolene struggled not to cry.She stared out of the window and went over
the whole thing again and again in her head.She leaned back and closed her eyes for a moment, then she pulled her
cell phone out of her purse and hit number one to dial Lexie at her little apartment
“It’s over and I blew it,” said Jolene when her sister picked up the
“What?!You didn’t blow
it.I’m sure you’re just over-thinking
it,” said Lexie.
“No, I blew it.I’ve spent
every free moment I’ve had over the last few weeks memorizing procedures and studying
all of her past cases.I could have
friggin’ written her biography if she’d given me a pen and paper, but you know
what she asked me?”
“She asked me what the name of the kid was that I did that I did
that bowel removal on with her last week,” said Jolene.
“Joshua,” said Lexie.
“What?!How did you know
“You told me the night before you did it, remember? You were
studying for the surgery the next morning and you rhymed off his whole case. You said his name was Joshua and I remembered
because Georgia has a friend at school named Joshua,” explained Lexie.
“I can’t believe you knew that.Well, I drew a total blank when she asked me.And then she went on and on about how
important that kind of thing is and I just know that I blew it.It’s over.No way I’m getting that job,” said Jolene.
“Oh Jo, stop this.You may
have forgotten the kid’s name but she was there with you in the surgery, she
knows how good you are.You’re totally
gonna get it,” said Lexie.
“Don’t say that!You’ll jinx
it!” shouted Jolene.
Lexie was laughing on the other end of the phone.She’d said it on purpose to taunt her
sister.“God Jo, how can a doctor be so
caught up in all that superstition junk?”
“This from a woman who believes in Downtown Dog?” said Jolene, a
mischievous smile spreading across her face, despite her bad mood.
“Downward Dog!” squealed Lexie.“And the practice of yoga is rooted in centuries of study of human
physiology and the flow of energy through the universe.”
“Whatever,” Jolene rolled her eyes, still smiling.
“I don’t want to do this now Jo.Look, I’m sure you’re making too much of this name thing.I bet it went way better than you’re thinking,”
“Well, we’ll see.She said
that she still has a few other residents to interview but she’s going to make
her decision soon so I won’t have to wait in agony too long before I know,”
“Did you do the breathing like I told you?” said Lexie.
“No Lexie, I didn’t do the breathing. I don’t think that the way I
breathe is going to make a difference one way or the other,” said Jolene.
“So what, now you don’t believe in breathing?” asked Lexie.
“Of course I believe in breathing, I just don’t think that the way
that I breathe is going to help me get a job.” Jolene was getting frustrated.She didn’t want to make a bad day worse by
getting into the same old arguments with Lex.“Look, I’m sure I was breathing fine.What are you up to tonight?” she said, trying to change the subject.
“I think I’m going to a party with Rob but I’m not totally sure
yet.Georgia might be coming down with
something.She hasn’t been herself the
last few days and I think she feels warm.She’s still playing and her appetite is good and stuff, but I’m a bit
worried.I might just stay home with her
tonight, we’ll see,” said Lexie.
“You know, if you would move up here you’d be just minutes away from
the best doctors in the world,” said Jolene. She had been trying to get her
sister to move up to New York ever since she had finally left Carterville herself
to come to school seven years ago.
“The doctors in Carterville are fine Jo.Besides, mom thinks it’s just a cold.”
“Oh yeah, great choice in medical practitioners there Lex.I’m surprised she hasn’t prescribed a gin and
tonic in a sippy cup.”
“Oh Jo, stop it.Leave mom
alone.I’m not moving to New York. Georgia’s happy here. I’m happy here. Things are really going somewhere with Rob
and I and there’s even a job opening up at Rob’s shop.He’s going to see if I can get in for an
interview there.It would just be part-time
so I could still be home when Georgia gets home from school and stuff, but the
extra money would be great and he and I would be working together every day,”
The idea of her sister working in an auto shop and getting closer to
her loser mechanic boyfriend wasn’t something that Jolene could get excited
about but she was avoiding arguments today.“That sounds great Lex.Good luck
with it.Let me know when the interview
is and I’ll teach you some totally useless breathing exercises that I learned,”
“Ha, ha, so funny.What are you doing?!” Lexie was yelling
away from the phone now.“Jo, I gotta
go.I think Georgia’s dressing up the
cat.Call me later tonight if you’re
“Will do. Take care and give my perfect niece a kiss for me okay?”
said Jolene.She was starting to feel
better.Lex always had a way of making
“I will.Love ya, bye.” said
Lexie as she hurriedly hung up the phone.
“Love ya, bye,” said Jolene as she snapped her phone shut.
Okay, first of all, I hate all of you warm people. Enough gloating already :P
Now, if we're going to hang out together it's important that we're doing what the cool kids are doing and that means that I expect everyone to be watching the new season of American Idol. I'm not kidding people, I forced my husband to watch two hours of it last night so don't think I won't do the same thing to you.
For those of you who are ahead of the rest of the class and watched on Tues and Wed, thoughts?
I LOVE the new judge, Carla or Cara or whatever her name is. Paula needs to hand over her crown and toddle on off to rehab now. Paula is out and Carla or Cara is totally in.
So far I haven't heard anyone that I'm totally in love with. There was a blond with sort of a husky voice that I really liked - I forget her name. It was cute seeing Jason Castro again but, despite his brother making it through to Hollywood, I don't think he's going to do as well in the competition as his brother did.
Hated Bathing-Suit girl, for obvious reasons and only a very few of them have to do with jealousy. Didn't like Horror-Movie-Making guy because he was creepy and wore too much mascara. Loved sweet Roughneck guy because, well duh. Threw up a little in my mouth at the sugary sweetness of Adopt a GrandFriend girl. Wonder why every single season there's at least one guy who insists on singing the theme song from Mulan, "Who is that girl I see, staring right, back at me?..." WTF?
It's about -22 degrees (Celsius) here today. Not sure what that is in Fahrenheit but it's pretty damn cold. So I'm sitting here at my desk, huddling beside my space heater, about to make a cup of hot tea and hating Matt and his warm evening rides. Just kidding Matt, I only really HATED you when I had to stand outside to wait for my kids to come home on the bus and I started to lose feeling in my toes.
It's great to be back here writing again. I'm humbled by the fact that you guys still want to come and visit and read my ramblings and I'm happy that we're all coming back together after too long away.
I'm insanely jealous of those of you who are making your way out to the Tour of California next month. As Cathy knows, I've been trying to get down there for a couple of years now but it just never works out - either no time or no money or both. However, I'll be living vicariously through you guys and, as Cathy mentioned, I'm happy to be doing the daily race reports for US Cycling Report. I thought I might try to report on the whole race without mentioning Lance Armstrong once - whataya think? No?
I'm sitting here at my desk wondering where to begin.
I have three different work projects that need to be dealt with, my accountant called this morning to say that my year-end paperwork needs to be compiled and dropped off, my internet service provider is not providing service on a consistent basis so I need to find the four hours that I'm sure will be required to sit on the phone with their tech support department, I still haven't finished doing all the address changes that need to be done since we moved, my Velo Communications website needs updating in the worst way and my desk is covered in papers that need to be filed or addressed in some other way - my To Do list is buried in their somewhere. Right now I know that I can't actually take care of any of these things because my daughter will be home from school in about 15 minutes, then I need to pick up my son from daycare, their homework needs to get done and then I have to come up with a quick dinner before they both go to swimming lessons tonight at 6:00pm. In the midst of all that I'll spend some time feeling guilty about not getting other things like laundry, dishes or writing my novel done.
I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed today.
I like to make New Year's resolutions. I know, I know, they never last and we shouldn't look at Jan 1 as the only time to set goals for ourselves. But I'm a very goal-oriented person so resolutions are right up my alley. One of my resolutions this year, in addition to spending more time on the novel, working out five days a week and eating better, is to try to relax a bit and see my life more as a journey and less as a destination.
That's right, I've set a goal of not setting goals. I see the irony, you don't have to point it out.
Not that there's anything wrong with goals. As I said, I love goals, goals help us get to where we want to be, they motivate us and we feel great when we achieve them and inspired to continue. But I tend to take it too far and see my whole life as a To Do list that I need to check off. And the reality is that some things can't be checked off. Some things are organic and they never end. The bills will never all be paid because more are always coming in. The filing will never be done because more will always crop up. The kids have new homework every night and I could always do more at the gym.
My point is that, instead of constantly beating myself up about the things I feel that I'm achieving or crossing off my To Do list, I need to give myself a break, sit back a bit and just accept that this is life and be happy that I get to go along for the ride.
I realized today that if I spent as much time actually posting on my blog as I do pondering about what I should do with it, it would be far more interesting for you readers.
I sit around and think, "do I have time for a blog? do I have anything left to say about cycling? if not, do any of my wonderful IA readers care about non-cycling related content? do I want to talk about my writing? should I make the blog into more of a work-generator and offer helpful advice and tips to potential clients? should I just shut the thing down and end the torture? but I would miss the connection to the friends I've made here, but do I really enjoy blogging?..." and so on and so on. I still don't really have the answers to most of those questions except the last one which is a resounding YES.
So I'm just going to shut up now about all my dithering about this place and just write. I'm fairly certain that that would be more entertaining for all of us. Frankly I'm starting to annoy even myself.
Okay, let's see. I'm currently doing the single-mom thing as my husband is away on a snowboarding trip in Quebec. He left on Thursday and comes back tomorrow night. I'm exhausted but I'm fairly sure I've rung up enough wife points to send myself away to a lovely spa for a weekend in the near future. Today was my son's first day taking the school bus. We just moved him into junior kindergarten after the Christmas holiday so he started there last week but this was his first week for the bus. I was on pins and needles all day worrying about weather or not he'd make it home but he did! When I sent him off this morning all I could think was that that was an awfully big bus for such a little boy. But he did it and he was very proud of himself!
I've finished the first draft of my novel, Georgia, and am currently working on the first of what I am sure will be many edits. In the near future I may post part of the first chapter here and see if I can get some feedback from you guys. I've joined a local writer's group and I'll be going to my first meeting with them next week. I have to read my stuff out loud - something I've never done - and I'm terrified! I'm convinced that I'll finish the chapter and sit down to a roomful of silence before someone will pipe up and say, "um, Sara, this group is for good writers..."
It's good to be back guys and I promise that I'm going to stop talking about what to do with the blog and just blog. We'll see what happens ;)
Nakigrl - you mentioned in the comments of my last post that you wanted
to talk to me about some writing-related questions. Feel free to shoot
me an email any time.
Sorry guys, I know I haven't been around much lately. I'm struggling with figuring out what to do with this blog, where to take it and how to use it going forward.
Anyway, as I ponder, I wanted to let you all know that our friend Dan over at Rant Your Head Off has written a fabulous new book - I say fabulous having not yet read it but only assuming it's fabulous based on the thousands of fabulously written words that I've had the pleasure of reading over the years on his blog. It's called Dope and it takes a look at the history of performance enhancing drugs in sports and the effects, both on the sports themselves and on the athletes.
If you're interested in a topic that has done such a number on our favorite sport of cycling, check it out.
And let me know how fabulous it is when you're done;)