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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Your Nest Is Never Really Empty

For the last few weeks my middle child, Ben, has been living part-time at my house on Cape Cod while in between apartments in Cambridge. He's commuted back to Boston for his DJ'ing gigs and to work on his next album a few days a week, but the other days been here.

Now it's moving week and the pile of belongings I've been tripping over for weeks is dwindling as he's begun the daily trips back to Boston to move into his new apartment. No matter how many times I tripped on the duffel bag in the hall I didn't complain (though I did move it a bit farther aside finally) because I knew any "inconvenience" was very short lived. The pleasure of having him here far outweighed any need to feel put out, and I never did.

My children are now all young adults with lives of their own. The chance to get to spend any extended time with any of them is a bonus, a gift at this point. I have been lucky enough since I work from home to be able to finagle time to get coffee, have a conversation and delight in sharing a piece of music he's working on, and to share my work with him. He's been here through ups and downs in trying to sell my book, through oral surgery and been able to be in on his sister's weekly Skype dates from Korea. Ben is a very easy-going guy so it's been well, easy to have him here.

As the time closes I know we each have our own lives to get back to, but I know I will miss seeing him in the mornings and hearing music once again coming from his room. The good thing is though, I do have my own very happy life so I am not a bereft empty-nester. I'm just delighted that once in a while it gets to be a little bit full again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Just Call Me Kandy Kardashian

I was thinking the other day about how being a Kardashian could enhance my career, and well, my entire ife. The more I thought about it, it seemed like a great idea. And I already have a K sounding name, I only have to change one letter.

If I were a Kardashian my life would be different in many, many ways, and I'm thinking easier and more fun. Here are my all-time top-five ways my life would be better if I became Kandy Kardashian:

1. I'd save money on clothes because there is so little to them. I could probably cut most my clothes in half and get two outfits for the price of one. They're shorter and lower cut, though I might lose any gain with the shoes. While the clothes get smaller and shorter the shoes get higher and pricier.

2. I'd have my pick of NBA or NFL players. Now the downside of this is I am probably old enough to be the mother of most of the players, unless they're old, nearing retirement and riddled with injuries. There is also the unsavory practice of some players texting pictures of their penises to random women. I'd have to get comfortable with that. The upside is there is often lots of fancy jewelry when they get caught.

3. Kris Kardashian would be my mom and make all my decisions for me. She's a bit of a Svengali-mom, but I'd be willing to give up some control for Kardashian bucks.

4. Since I'd be the eldest Kardashian I could open up a whole new area of endorsements. For instance I could take over for Jamie Lee Curtis pushing regularity inducing yogurt on women. Or if we want to work a little bluer, some of those sex enhancing gels aimed at women who need a little oomph. I do however draw the line at any urinary control products or cat food for the sheer implication of spinsterhood.

5. Finally, I'd get to stop feeling like a nerd and be considered hot. Even the least attractive Kardashian is hot - something I'm sure to do with the aforementioned lack of clothing. Maybe by osmosis I'd develop a butt like Kim's and grow lustrous long, dark locks. Or at least then I'd be able to afford the extensions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fear and Loathing in the Dentist's Chair

If there is a 12 Step program for fear, I should join. I am loath to admit what a big baby I can be about things that most likely don't bother others, like the dentist. I'm not talking cleanings, I'm talking things more extensive, like root canals, crowns and as I had done yesterday, extractions.

I think part of it is a history of horrible dentists in my childhood. One I swear was one step up the food chain from the Wolfman. He was mean, rough and impatient. And very hairy. So that pretty firmly planted the seed of dentist=unpleasant experiences.

I wasn't thrilled when my new dentist told me that I was going to need to see an oral surgeon (two words you never want to use together) and have a couple of teeth removed. So I did what I'm really good at. I procrastinated for a few weeks. But, knowing I was going to need someone to go with me I could only stall so long while my son Ben was going to be spending some time here. So I bit the bullet and made the appointment.

Until the actual day came I was pretty calm. On the morning of the surgery I meditated, went for a walk and tried to be in a good place. And then I walked in that office, accompanied by Ben and THAT smell hit me. The people in the scrubs, masks around their necks and it all seemed so ...medical and medicinal. My pulse quickened. I filled out forms, signing away my rights if anything terrible happened to me, and answering questions - oh my God, maybe I have a heart problem and I just don't know it! Lung diseases?! I was stunned to see "bronchitis" on there - I had bronchitis last year, what did that mean?! My doctor never told me I now was diseased! Maybe my diseased lungs wouldn't survive this procedure. Of course in that moment I forgot that I walk/run two to three miles several days a week and do another cardio-heavy workout 6 x's a week - my lungs seem just fine. But still...

Finally they called me in. I think I exhausted the doctor before he even began peppering him with questions and making sure he knew about my allergy to barbiturates and sensitivity to epinephrine. Yes, I'm sure he was thinking he'd really drawn the short straw that day and could not wait to knock me out. Which he did quite shortly, but not until I told him I am close to getting a deal on my book and didn't want to die right before my career takes off. I think he just wanted me to shut up at that point.

And the next thing I remember I was in a recovery room. I have no recollection of walking there, if they took embarrassing photos of me, rolled their eyes at me once I was out, or just talked about what a charming gem I seemed to be. I'm hoping for the latter.

My son laughed at my inability to remember anything they were telling me and helped me walk to the car, lest I fall on my butt. I don't remember the ride home either. It's kind of weird. As a born-again substance virgin, I am not used to feeling so out of it. Ben I think found it quite amusing to see his normally lucid mom, under the influence of a veritable smorgasbord of drugs.

Even today I'm not feeling quite like myself - and I've taken nary an Ibuprofen. I'm still a bit spacey and yes, somewhat sore. Hey, in another context this could sound like I had a great time last night!

I am so glad to have this behind me, No more thinking about having to face the music. Well, except apparently now I do need a crown.

Holy crap, this will never be over...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Become A Best -Selling Author (or at least a published one)

All right, I am going to once again out myself and say, at the moment, I am not a published author (unless of course you count many, many newspaper and magazine articles and columns).

I am an ASPIRING novelist. I have scaled one tall wall by getting an agent, and now the next step is for her to convince a throng of folks at a publishing company that not only is my book a winner, but that I am as well.

Trying to turn yourself into a winner I am seeing is more than a part-time job. It is taking on the effort and hours of full-time unpaid employment. Kind of like being a full-time parent was for me for many, many years. Only this time the only messes I have to clean up are my own.

I am commenting on blogs, writing blogs, on Twitter, (follow me! @candacelhammond) making myself a complete nuisance on Facebook, and just in general thinking about building my "brand" all the time. If I have one true friend left after all this shameless self-promotion I will be eternally grateful and will buy that poor sod a cup of coffee and a cupcake (or piece of pie depending on their preference).

What I find fascinating about this process is that by the very nature of what we do, writers are fairly solitary folks. Yet, we are needing to become increasingly social beings as we try to promote not just our work but ourselves. I have not yet found my comfort level with the "look at me! look at me!" nature of this. Perhaps writers need doppelgangers who are the outgoing glad-handing politician-types we aren't, and they can go and work a crowd while we hide behind our laptops and make things up.

The book, "How I Became a Famous Novelist," I have pictured here is one of my all-time favorites. Steve Hely - a veteran writer of the "Late Show With David Letterman," and now "The Office," where he is also a producer, created a hugely funny, smart and engrossing tale of a man scheming to become a best-selling novelist. It is an incisive look at the world of books and no matter how many times I read it I still laugh.

Being a best selling author isn't easy. In this piece the author outlines the endless effort it truly is. As I read it I wanted to rest my head on my keyboard and weep. But she's right. Lots of people say they want to write a book, some even do. But it takes a whole other level of commitment, luck and a dash of insanity to think you could ever take it to the next level. All that and a knowledge that there's nothing else you'd rather do than sit alone in front of a glowing screen and try to string together groups of words in an entertaining fashion.

The drive to do this sometimes feels like a sickness of sorts. But for those of us who are infected the only treatment is to write, and for that desire I seek no cure.