I’ve Got Sunshine

Since we moved into this house back in October, I’ve been trying to come around to the purple bedroom. I LIKE purple, plus it’s good feng shui and everything.

But it made our room so very, very dark.

Like living in a cave.

A purple Barney cave.

Last week, we couldn’t take it anymore.

We got out our little Devine paint sample sheets and started narrowing down our color choices. We didn’t want any of the colors that are downstairs—green, brown, and theoretical red (we haven’t painted that room yet), because we wanted it to feel like a retreat. No one wants to be subconsciously pushed into thinking about taxes in bed because their bedroom is the same color as their office.

Light was definitely important—no more cave! We wanted something cheerful and sunny, a color that makes you smile when you see it.

We sampled three different colors:

Devine Le Pot D’Or, a goldie gold

Devine Blue, which sounds boring but looks like a bright blue sky on a sunny day

Devine Cream, a creamy yellow

Devine Cream won.

I am completely in love with this color—it’s like that organic Irish butter you buy in the foil packet. Buttery, sunny, warm. It’s not too bright or too pastel.

Perfect!

Tomorrow is our second wedding anniversary—huzzah! We’d planned to celebrate, but our plans have been smashed to bits. One naughty abdominal tumor is rebelling out of control and we must take action fast which means going back to one of those hardcore chemos that worked so well before. It’s been long enough since I was last on it that I should be able to handle the toxicity and since we had so much success before it got too toxic (loss of feeling in my fingers and toes), we think it’ll get in there and kick some tumor behind. We’re mixing it up with a couple of new drugs too so it might work even BETTER than it did last time.

And, of course, the treatment is starting tomorrow. On our wedding anniversary. Any sooner and the insurance wouldn’t have gone through yet, any later and this nasty little tumor would have that much more time to cause trouble.

This is what we get for getting married in the hospital! Hospital/Anniversary Karma. (If you’ve forgotten the wedding saga, Lee Wind posted a super sweet blog about the whole thing way back when and he quotes me telling the story, but I can’t find my quote amongst my own stuff.)

This chemo treatment is only for the short term. My new doctor is awesome and has a PLAN! A long-range plan, no less. With a future that involves some more innovative and less harsh treatments.

I’m ordering lots of light books from the library and getting prepared for the big hit. Maybe it won’t be so bad this time?

At the very least, I have a super awesome sunshiney bedroom to come home to!

Love to you all,

Bridget

Tip #5 Time Wasters (Guide to Being Temporarily Health Challenged)

When you’re being held hostage at a medical facility such as the ER or the Imaging waiting room, you have a few options. You can spend your time screaming and throwing things at the nurses (a course many patients choose to take) or you can entertain yourself with some hilarious online Time Wasters.

Like enjoying iPhone autocorrect mistakes on Damn You Autocorrect. SO funny.

Here’s a sample:

Here is the start of my list of great Time Wasters (thanks to April Henry, Suzanne Young and E.M. Kokie for many of these):

Cake Wrecks

Cute Overload

Shit My Kids Ruined

Zooborns

Fail Blog

Damn You Autocorrect

What are your favorite online Time Wasters? Please share them and I will add them to the list!

Love to you all,

Bridget

Clouds on My Feet and Other Types of Cush

I have clouds on my feet. My new slippers surround each foot with thick, luxurious, magical cush. I put them on and, no matter how tired I’m feeling, I want to squish, squish, squish around the house in them. They don’t have backs on them so I can easily slip them on in the middle of the night and not miss out on any cloudy goodness on the way to the bathroom or sneaking downstairs for milk and cookies.

The only trouble with the backlessness is trying to keep them on when I cuddle up on the couch, but it’s a sacrifice that I think must be made for middle of the night slip-on ease.

They even have some serious tread on the bottom that looks up to all sorts of adventures.

Thanks, Aunt Jane!

Cush. Scrumptious and squashy. We all need some cush in our lives, but it is never more important than when you’re not feeling well which brings me to another tip in Bridget’s Guide to Surviving Life & All It’s Bizarreness When You Are Temporarily Health Challenged. I think we’re up to Tip #4.

Try to make your physical world as soft as possible. The physical world can seem like a particularly harsh place. Different effects from different drugs or disorders can make you painfully sensitive to harsh fabrics and hard surfaces. Trying to make the world around you comfortable can go a long way to overall well-being.

Clean, super soft sheets, silky pajamas, a nice pillowtop bed, clothes that don’t pinch or bind, chairs that support your back and offer padding, and, of course, cushy slippers can make a huge difference.

So if you’re a friend and looking for something to buy (I get e-mails asking for present suggestions for sick friends all of the time!) or are a temporarily ill person yourself, think soft.

I’ve been at an ouchy low for the past few weeks, so I’ve especially been appreciating the cush so many of you have brought into my life with soft jammies etc. I got about 24 hours or so of relief last weekend (via a suckage procedure that I will spare you the details of) and it was so fab–there was singing. But the beast is back and I’m all wimpery and incapacitated again.

There is a ray of light though! We’ve figured out the source of what ails me–a slow-moving insidious abdominal infection that can be treated with antibiotics.  We’ve suspended cancer treatment for the nonce to focus on this and HOPEFULLY there will be singing again soon.

Let’s plan on it.

Love to you all,

Bridget

What I’m Not Going to Blog About

What I’m Not Going to Blog About:

—I will not be describing in detail the immense pain in my liver and lymph nodes that has taken over my every waking thought over the past few days

OR whining about how miserable and itchy and rashy I am

OR sharing interesting metaphors to describe the digestive troubles that have set in and turned my tummy rock hard

OR putting in a video of my “don’t throw up” mantra for the day

AND I will refrain from sharing the should-we-or-shouldn’t-we discussions about going to the ER that we held all weekend, the frantic Sunday night phone call to the oncologist on-call, or yesterday’s emergency trip to the oncology clinic to get some much-needed meds–on Valentine’s Day!

Because blogging about those things would be lame.

Instead I’m going to share with you My Road To Publication. Woo hoo! So much more fun. I love hearing other people’s stories and several people have asked me to share mine, and I think today is the day.

Forgive any pain-killer induced rambling, please!

Setting the scene: I grew up writing and had notebooks stuffed full of novels, poems, and fragments. After graduating from high school, I tried all sorts of other career options. I went to massage school, worked as a jazz dj, earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre and generally looked for interesting things to do (click here to learn more about crazy jobs I tried).

Then I started working in cancer research. It didn’t take me long to realize that this was NOT the job for me. I loved the idea of saving-the-world etc., but it was a less-than-cheerful job (and my office didn’t even have windows!) and not at all the puppies and rainbows sort of thing I like.

This was when I discovered that what I needed to do with my life was to write fiction for young people. I fell really and truly head-over-heels-in-love with writing. It was a great escape from my job and, even when I quit that job and moved on to more satisfying work, it was still absolutely perfect for me. In what other job do you get to spend your days living through crazy high-jinx, falling in love, making cool friends and having damn fine adventures? Writers get to create a world with each novel—a fun, gorgeous, tantalizing world with inhabitants who crack you up.

My writing voice turned out to have a strong teen vibe and that was what I had the most fun working on, so it was clear what I was going to write.

I joined writers groups, took classes, went to conferences and workshops and got that buzz-rush of sharing my work with other people. I finished my first novel (after getting some of those less-than-stellar pieces out of my system), revised and revised and revised it, then began researching the publishing industry. I decided to query both agents and editors, but focused primarily on editors.

I got a whole range of responses from form letter rejections to requests for the full manuscript to requests for revisions. One of the major stumbling blocks was that when I started on the novel, no one was writing anything on that subject for teens, but by the time I was submitting the novel, apparently several other people had gotten similar ideas as well. And they’d gotten there just before me! While I’m sure our novels were all quite different in style and tone, most publishers don’t want novels that have too similar of a theme or subject coming out at the same time. This was when I first discovered that Ideas Out of the Air sometimes float around and get snatched up by multiple writers.

I wrote a second novel and revised and revised and revised, did more research on the publishing industry, and began submitting it. I got the whole range of responses that I’d gotten before, but with different (though no less frustrating) reasons. It needed a bit more… something. Or it just wouldn’t fit with the current list.

Before I had time to dwell too much (I still hold out hope that these two novels will find homes someday!), something happened to grab my focus.

Picture this: It’s an early morning in December of 2007 and I’m sitting on our couch in Madison. The best couch of all time that I’d bought years before with my first real salaried-job paycheck. Oh, that couch! It was a gorgeous couch. The perfect amount of support, a soft, nubbly texture, the back and arms were just the right height, and it was perfectly adorable. (I miss the couch, can you tell? Our new Portland couch, it couldn’t claim to be a distant backwards uncomfortable cousin of that couch!).

Here’s a photo of the couch and our Madison living room to get you in the scene:

So it’s morning and Barrett is making me toast and tea before he heads off to work downtown and I go to work at the library. Bleary-eyed and making very little sense, I’m trying to tell him about this absolutely fantastic dream that I’d had the night before.

Me: “And this super bad-ass teen is sneaking into this building and she’s like this crazy master potioner and she has these six-inch long throwing needles tipped with poison strapped to her thighs in special holsters.”

Barrett: “Uh-huh.”

Me: “It was so crazy—like a whole complex action movie and every twist and turn was a surprise.”

Barrett: “Here’s your tea, Bridge. It sounds, um, interesting.”

Me: “Yes, I know how annoying it is when people go on and on about their dreams and they’re all a jumble and don’t make any sense, but THIS WASN’T LIKE THAT! It totally made sense. It had like a plot and everything.”

Barrett: “Hmmm….” Sips his coffee.

Me: “Fine. I’m going to write it all down so that you can SEE just how great this dream was.”

I sat down during my lunch break that day and typed the whole thing up.

It wasn’t right. A couple pages of re-telling just wasn’t the same as living it.

I had to turn it into a novel. THEN Barrett would get the full experience.

I set all of my other projects aside to focus on my new novel, Poison.

The following fall, I submitted a chapter of Poison to the SCBWI-WI conference. The editor who read it there was encouraging. One year after starting Poison, I finally had a readable draft of the entire novel for Barrett. I submitted it to my writers group’s annual novel-exchange weekend retreat. The editor who spent the weekend with us was encouraging.

A couple of drafts later, by mid-to-late summer of 2008, I decided to start querying. This time I focused on agents.

Wherever Poison came from, it apparently wasn’t an idea out of the air caught by other writers. It only came to my house. There was a lot of interest from the agents I sent it to which was incredibly thrilling, especially after years of rejection and near-hits with my other novels.

About this time two years ago, I signed with superstar agent Michael Stearns.

Michael and I went through a round of revisions together (which took longer than it should have due to the whole stupid cancer thing) and my agent got crazy-fun interest on the manuscript when he submitted it to editors, it went to auction, and a little less than two years after I began to write this novel, I had a publishing contract with Disney-Hyperion with a slated pub-date of summer, 2012.

Almost eleven years after I’d decided to become an author.

Love to you all,

Bridget

Happy St. Bridget’s Day, Site Launch, and a Gratuitous Photo of Cake

Happy St. Bridget’s Day!! Or Happy Day After St. Bridget’s Day, depending on when you observe the holiday. Yesterday we feasted on some St. Bridget’s Day sushi and tonight I think we’ll celebrate with a nice toasty fire.

I also wanted to let you know about the launch of E.M. Kokie’s website, Barrett’s latest project. It’s gorgeous. Check it out!

We’ve had a lot of out-of-town visitors in the past few months, but sadly have taken very few photos. There is not a photo, for example, of my cousin Julie trying to order us two pastries at the Mexican bakery and instead almost ordering us two entire trays of pastries. I was getting nervous when they started going for the big boxes. I mean, I’m sure we could have handled it if we’d really had to, but it would have been a challenge eating that many pastries all at once, no matter how tasty. They were really BIG trays.

What I did take a photo of (many, many photos actually) was the cake that Rosie made (for readers of drafts of Poison, that’s Rosie my childhood friend, not Rosie, the wee enchanted pig from my book).

Isn’t it the most scrumptious looking cake ever?

I hope everyone in the blizzard is staying warm!

Love to you all,

Bridget

Plays Games, All Sorts

Ever since I found out that Dumbledore, my oncologist, is moving to retirement the Perfect Nanny song from Mary Poppins has been going through my head. Except instead of “Plays games, all sorts” and “rosy cheeks” it’s switched up a bit. Like “Super smart” and “Doesn’t try to kill me.”

I am on board with wanting a cheery disposition though. And giving me treats sounds awesome.

Instead of, well, poison. This new regime seems to be a tour through many of the “worst of” side effects I’ve already experienced. From the inflamed itchy rash to unspeakably appalling gi distress with all sorts of other un-funness added in.

I’m looking for someone who can make me feel good AND cure the cancer.

Dumbledore was pretty good, but I think I’m ready for the Mary Poppins of oncologists.

Before I got laid low, we were able to make it out to the coast last weekend to absorb some good healing wave energy.

And saw our first daffodil bud of the year.

Then when we got back, we found the first blossom of the year at our house and discovered that the bushes in front of our house are camellias. So far it’s just the one blossom, but we’re keeping watch.

We got our flower boxes filled so the one blossom wouldn’t get lonely while it waits for the rest to hatch. Thanks, Diana!

Love to you all,

Bridget

Green Nail Envy

I noticed the girl in front of me in line to get on the plane last Monday had green nail polish on. It was kind of a medium, creamy green. I have to admit I was a little jealous—I was just wearing sparkles on my fingernails which suddenly seemed really boring.

It wasn’t until Barrett said something that I discovered that it wasn’t just the girl’s nails that were green—almost everyone else getting on our flight was in green from head to toe with some yellow thrown in for good measure. I don’t know if I would have noticed this on my own or not, but once he pointed it out, it made me worry that we’d somehow gotten mixed up in some sort of cult thing.

This is when I discovered two things:

1) Oregon has a football team

2) This team was playing that very day in Phoenix

It was some sort of cult thing.

I’m not sure how I missed that Oregon has a football team, although I probably wouldn’t have known that UW-Madison had one and we lived there for ten years or so. I might have missed Madison’s team too if we hadn’t spent some time living so close to the stadium that we would get woken up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays by “Jump Around” when the tailgating started next door followed by the roar of the stadium shaking our house.

Here I thought we’d left that all behind, only to discover that not only does Oregon have a football team, but that we were going to be sharing a city with its fans. Phoenix might seem plenty big, but competition for a decent hotel room or pizza delivery was fierce.

We survived.

Mostly due to our uncanny pizza sleuthing and sleeping-despite-screaming-fans abilities.

News was on the so-so side at the cancer center. The torturous experiment did some good on the old liver, but not so much for the rest of the cancer. So I’m stepping it up with a couple of new drugs and we’ll see how that goes.

Love to you all,

Bridget

Kitten Catastrophe

Last night I had a kitten nightmare.

Don’t get me wrong, I love kittens. In fact, I may have even mentioned to Barrett once or twice the cat conversations I’ve overheard Harpo and Pumpkin having about how they were at that point in their relationship that it might be time to adopt a baby kitten. And wanting to be fully supportive of my adult neutered male cats in expanding their cat family, I may have even spent some time googling “bengal kittens” and playing bengal kitten YouTube videos on the tv when Barrett is in the room as he is the one who actually takes care of the creatures (and girls) who live in this house.

Not that I don’t think Harpo and Pumpkin would take care of a kitten—I’m sure it would be a very clean kitten.

But last night’s nightmare kittens were not like our cats or the sweet kittens on YouTube.

They weren’t cuddly AT ALL.

In my dream, my home became infested with wild street kittens like the kind I think the oddly chubby cat I’ve seen out the window might be having soon. I wanted to get them all to good homes so I decided we needed to get them into boxes so that we could take them to a no-kill shelter, but every time I got some into a box and went to get more, they’d just pop right back out.

Cat were everywhere, I couldn’t find the phone number for the no-kill shelter, and I couldn’t keep any kittens in the box. There were cats in the kitchen, cats in the bathroom, cats under the stairs, and in all the nooks in crannies in the basement. Some were jumping up to try and catch the tassles on the ceiling fan, some were batting around my shoelaces, some were racing around inside the shower, and there were even cats trying to drink out of the kitchen sink.

And instead of rubbing against my hand when I reached for them, they’d shy away.

Shy away!!!!

Some even went so far as to hide behind things when they saw me coming. So not only did we have wild kittens everywhere, they were wild kittens that I was sure were going to be a bad influence on our cats and then NO CATS at our house would want to cuddle.

This was turning into a very, very bad nightmare.

Thankfully, I woke up and found Pumpkin warming our feet and Harpo in the crook of Barrett’s arm.

Right where they should be.

Love to you all,

Bridget

How I Woke Up This Morning

Usually I wake up to something like this.

Or this.

But this morning, despite cat noses in the eye, I just couldn’t quite wake up and we’re meeting my dad and Diana in Seattle later to go hear Beethoven’s 9th at Benaroya Hall.

Normally, I take a nice leisurely bath to soothe my aching bones, but, given that we actually needed to get going, I decided on a shower.

When I take a bath, I usually clean out the tub with the shower head first. This works quite well, except that it leaves behind a shower drip.

A cold drip that hits just every now and then, startling me in the soothing bath. Or, even worse, landing right on top of the page I’m reading. Recently, I came up with a brilliant way to get around this. There’s a little hook to the right of the shower. If I dangle the shower head from the hook, the leak goes down the side of the shower, missing me.

Yesterday, I did this, all according to plan, noticing that Barrett had put a new head on the shower and left it on super spray. Perfect for cleaning out the tub. Huzzah, Barrett!

Today, I forgot all about it. And I was cold. So I thought it would be wise to spend some more time in my pajamas and to turn the shower on to get it all heated up before I got in.

Except that, having forgot about the day before, I also forgot that I’d left the shower hanging to the side on super jet spray, so when I turned it on–

–it was pointed straight at me.

In super spray mode.

It hit me in my jammies with a not-yet-heated-up-ice-cold-jet-that-was-like-a-fireman’s-hose and was so strong it pushed me back into the bathroom door.

That’s how I woke up with morning.

Love to you all,

Bridget

Tip #3, Feeding Your Brain

In this belated edition of My Christmas Present to You, or Bridget’s Guide to Surviving Life & All It’s Bizarreness When You Are Temporarily Health Challenged, we explore feeding your brain.

You’re sick. Your brain is mush. You try reading the latest, hottest, most interesting book that everyone is talking about.

Then lose track of what’s going on half-way through and are tempted to throw it across the room pissing off librarians everywhere (and we all know the rule about not pissing off librarians).

Instead, save those thought-provoking, super twisty plotted books in a nice stack for when you’re feeling better. In the meantime, find a niche that is soothing to your mushy brain. Interesting enough to keep the pistons firing, but not so challenging that you lose track of what’s going on (special note: this is not a judgement on the quality of the book–what doesn’t work when you’re sick varies from person to person, only you can decide what’s right for you).

If the book comes in a series, it could be what you’re looking for. Reading in series can be incredibly helpful in the way only series can be–you get used to the world, you understand the rules, and you can spend your time enjoying the specialness of the particular story you’re reading without needing to get your feet under you. Even if the story has a twisty plot or intriguing relationships, it’s just a little bit easier following along if you’re up-to-speed on the setting and main characters.

Plus, reading series saves time book hunting. Once you find something you like, you can stock up on them for when they’re needed. Looking at certain award winners, especially in genre fiction, can sometimes point you in the right direction though you’ll need to look up each title to discover if they’re part of a series. The Lefty award is for humorous adult mysteries. You’ll find a list of other mystery awards here and romance awards here.

If you’re having trouble finding just the right series for when you’re in a health slump, ask your favorite librarian (who you did not piss off by throwing any books across the room) for help.

Hope you had a fab Solstice and Christmas!

Love to you all,

Bridget