Monday, December 28

That Other Thing

In addition to having a baby, I was working on my first novel last month. While I didn't get my draft finished (I blame the baby for coming sooner than instructed, but really, I lost the pace a week or so before I went into labor), I did get more than a dozen scenes written out. I thought I'd share one of my favorites with you.

This evening takes place early in the story. The two main characters, Rosie and Stone, got together a couple of weeks previously and they have just begun to include one another in their regular activities.

Thursday Trivia Night was the busiest evening of the week at Smokey’s Pub, or “The Off-Campus” as it had been dubbed many years ago by the local student population. Thursdays at the Off-Campus were a tradition for Stone. He’d started meeting a few of the guys from his dorm for trivia and beer when he was a freshman and returned every fall when he got back to school. He greeted several other regulars as he led Rosie through the crowd to the bar in the back.

“Hey, Fred,” Stone waved at the usual Thursday-night bartender.

“Hiya, Stone,” Fred smiled, showing off a his gold front tooth, as he popped the cap off a bottle of Stone’s favorite beer. “Wasn’t sure we’d be seeing you here anymore. You graduated from the Big House this last week, didn’t you?”

“Sure did. I’m still around for now, though,” Stone drew Rosie closer to the bar. “I made a new friend. This is Rosie.”

Fred stuck out a hand, “Good to meet you, Rosie. I’m Fred, best barman south of the Mason-Dixon line.”

Rosie smiled and shook his hand, “It’s nice to meet you.”

“What can I get for you?”

“Could I get a Coke with a lime, please?”

“No challenge,” Fred grumbled with a wink to Rosie as he scooped up ice into a wide-mouth glass, filled it with soda, and squeezed in a lime wedge. He added a red straw and passed the drink across the bar. Stone reached for his wallet, but Fred shook his head.

“Naw,” he said. “Those are on the house. Graduation gift for you.”

“Thank you,” Stone and Rosie spoke together.

“Thanks, a lot, Fred,” Stone added.

“Good luck in the game,” Fred called as they stepped away to look for a free table.

Settling in at a tiny table for two near the corner stage, Rosie asked Stone about the trivia game.

“It doesn’t start until 8:00,” Stone explained, “But if you’re not here by 6:30, you won’t get a table.” He gestured at the crowd already filling most of the tables in the pub, then pointed to the small stage, “The emcee reads the questions from here, then each team has two minutes to write down their answer and pass it up. Whoever has the most answers right at the end of the night wins.”

“What’s the prize?”

“Free pitcher of your choice.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand the popularity of Trivia Night,” Rosie said, dryly. “How often has your team gotten the pitcher of beer?”

Stone smiled, “Once or twice. Some of these players are pretty hard core, though. They’ve been part of the same teams, every week, for years.” Stone pointed out a few of the long-standing competitors, explaining that each team member specialized in one or two categories so their group always had an expert, no matter what sort of question came up.

Rosie raised her eyebrows. She shook her head, “I don’t think you should count on any more free beer tonight. I don’t know if I can compete with that kind of advanced strategy.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Stone told her. “I don’t really come for the prize. Trivia Night is what’s kept me from holing up in my room too much over the years and becoming anti-social.”

“I don’t believe it,” Rosie said. “I can’t see you not playing to win.”

“I didn’t say I don’t play to win,” Stone replied. “I just know when I’m outmatched.”

Rosie nodded and took a sip of her Coke, “That’s a good thing to know.”

“How about you?” Stone leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table.

“What about me?”

“Do you know when you’ve met your match?”

Rosie stirred the straw in her drink. She studied Stone’s blue eyes, dark in the dim light of the pub.

“Yeah,” She said slowly. “I think I do.”

Copyright ©2009 by Amy James Gray. No part of this text may be copied or reprinted without the prior consent of the author.

Friday, December 25

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like the Ice Planet Hoth

Greetings from the Rebel Base!

We've been under winter weather warnings for the past two days and there's now a blizzard warning in effect through noon tomorrow. Interstates 29 and 90 have been closed through most of the state since 7:00 last night. Snow accumulations are predicted to be up to 20 inches, with drifts up to 6 feet. When they start measuring the snow in feet, I'm on the lookout for AT-ATs.

**This officially ends all the Star Wars references. I don't want to have to look anything else up on Wookieepedia**

Because of the heavy snow, we canceled our Christmas Eve plans to drive through town munching on caramel corn and looking at the holiday lights. Rosi was very disappointed.

We are still planning a Christmas Day carol sing around the piano. She's been learning a number of songs lately--mostly from me, but a few of unknown origin (somebody taught her Jingle Bells, but it wasn't me). Her latest favorite is "Arthur Harold Angels Sing" or as she calls it, "Glowy to the Newborn King."

Meanwhile, we're getting our traditional Christmas chicken ready along with garlic mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. The baby is asleep and Rosie is munching on oranges that arrived yesterday by FedEx, fresh from my sister's tree in Phoenix.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 13

Please ...

I don't ask for prayer much on this blog, but I have two significant requests to share with you. First is for Lia. Those of you who were reading here a year ago will remember Lia was rushed to the hospital shortly after birth and spent two months in NICU before heading home on oxygen. She's done far better than most of the experts predicted and recently celebrated her first birthday! However, she's been having trouble breathing again and her diaphragm has moved back up, compressing one of her lungs. Her family is heading down to Twin Falls today and they are looking at surgery perhaps as early as tomorrow. You can follow Lia's story on her blog or her medical updates on her CaringBridge page.

The second request is for me, well, for us. If you knew me when I had my daughter, you may remember we had some struggles with breastfeeding that led to Rosi nearly being labeled with Failure to Thrive as an infant. We're having some similar feeding issues with the new baby--only we're working on them at three weeks rather than three months. Just this evening I began to face the heartbreaking truth that, even though I'm doing everything "right" like I'm supposed to, I may still not be able to exclusively breastfeed my son. This might not seem especially significant; I know a lot of mothers easily use formula from birth or wean at a very early age, but for me, for reasons I'm not entirely prepared to share with the internet at large just now, it's a really big deal.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 12

Did You Know ...

I like to think I know a lot of things about, well, a lot of things. I'm an excellent Trivial Pursuit partner (especially if you know the answers to entertainment and sports questions) and I like to collect random facts in my brain. Sometimes things seem to have fallen through the cracks, though.

The other day, Rosi was playing the piano and singing the alphabet. When she got to the letter H, I told her that the notes only go up as far as G, then restart at A. She began her song again, playing just the white keys and starting at the bottom of the keyboard, "A-B-C-D" and so forth. Just then, I walked past and glanced down.

"Hey," I announced to Adam, all excited by my discovery. "The lowest note on the piano is an A."

"Yeah," he responded. Left unspoken was his, "Duh!"