Posted: May 25, 2009 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Family, Life | Tags: bronchitis, death, drowning, Family, Humor, kids, Life, pneumonia, sick, work |
The week simply started bad. Sunday evening, we were putting away laundry and preparing for another week of school and work, when my daughter looks at her pile of clothes and says, “I can’t breathe.” She’d had a cough at night for a few days, but she hadn’t complained at all and she was very active during the day. I had already planned to call her doctor for a checkup if the cough didn’t go away, but my plans changed as I asked more questions.
Does your throat hurt? Does your chest hurt? What about your ears? Nose? Tongue?Eyes? What about your big toe? How’s it doing these days?
She said her chest was scratchy, her throat hurt kinda, and her ear hurt if she stuck her finger in it. The big toe, thankfully, was fine. This is the same kid who came to me over a year ago and said, “Mom, my tongue hurts.” I looked at it with a flashlight to discover that it wasn’t her tongue, but her tonsils that hurt. They were the size of grapes. That resulted in a trip to the emergency room. She hadn’t complained about it at all before that.
While I was taking her temperature, her nine year old brother coughed. I said, “Oh no you don’t. I know that as soon as I get her healthy again, you’re going to end up at urgent care with the same bug. That’s it, you’re going, too.”
Instead of going to work on Monday morning, I waited four hours with a very sick little girl, and a threatening to be sick little boy at urgent care. I never understood why it’s called urgent care since nothing there is ever done urgently.
With a diagnosis of bronchitis for each child as well as a double ear infection for my daughter, we left urgent care to go to the pharmacy and fill five prescriptions. I then packed my little sicklies back in the car and I drove to work to trade kids for work. Luckily, or unluckily some days, we work at the same place. So, I unpacked the kids from my truck straight into my husband’s car, he took them home and I worked the rest of the day.
Husband stayed home Tuesday and I stayed home Wednesday with the kids. Thursday, everyone went to school and work like usual except that I was totally buried in work just from missing one and a half days.
Monday night through Thursday night, my husband takes our oldest son to his night classes at 6 and I pick the kid up at 11. In other words, I literally sleep about 5 hours a night. Throw in a couple of coughing kids and I’m lucky to get 3 hours of good sleep.
Friday was the last day of school and included me racing from work to an eighth grade graduation for son number two.
Saturday, they’re all hanging out in the pool and I’m exhausted.
Finally, on Sunday evening I start feeling human again. Then, my daughter coughed. I told her if she started feeling bad at all, she had to tell me right away so I could take her back to the Dr because I didn’t want her to get pneumonia. She and my youngest son both listened with rapt attention as I explained how I barely survived a bout of pneumonia as a child.
It started with my grandfather falling asleep on the lakefront. My 7 year old brother and my 5 year old self were swimming in the lake at the time. Except, I couldn’t swim so maybe wading is a better term.
We were wading in the lake. Actually, I was just walking in the water until the surface dropped off. Then I was under the water and sinking like a stone.
My brother thought I was kidding. I could see him through the murky water. At least until everything went black. When I came to, vomiting up most of the lake, some teenager had pulled me out, someone had roused my grandfather, and my brother was completely awed. “I thought you were dead! Man, that was cool!”
Soon after this mishap, I got sick, except my mom didn’t believe I was sick. She thought I was faking to get out of going to school.
Do kindergartners do that? Really?
When I stopped getting enough oxygen and I became lethargic and unresponsive, my mother finally decided it was time for me to see a doctor. The diagnosis? Walking pneumonia. The doctor told my mother I was very close to death and it’s a good thing she didn’t wait a minute longer.
When I finished telling my children this story, my son said, “Wow Mom, you saved millions of people.”
Understandably confused, I frowned and said, “How did my nearly dying save anyone?”
“Because,” he replied, “you have four kids, and we could each have four kids, and they all have four kids. That will be millions of people!”
I looked to my daughter for help.
She stared back at me innocent and wide-eyed and said, “Did you live?”
Posted: May 20, 2009 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Family, Humor, Life | Tags: animals, author, cats, catwoman, Claire collins, funny, housecat, Humor, kitten, kittens |
I want to be a housecat.
I mean really, is there a better life than to be a pampered fat cat?
Let’s think about this for just a minute.
I wake up from my early morning nap when I hear an alarm clock going off. When the human walks out of their room, I weave in and out of their feet trying to trip them so they can see the world from my point of view.
If they make it into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, I’ll be right there yowling around their ankles until the noise penetrates their sleeping ears and they fill up my food and water bowls. Then the human can go away while I enjoy my breakfast and take my morning nap.
When I wake up, the humans have all left my house and I can sit in any windowsill I choose. I stretch out all of my feline muscles while my sharpened claws are hooked in the upholstery of the living room couch.
I take my early afternoon nap, eat some more, then go lay in a human bed to groom myself, making sure to lick away all of the loose hair and other nasties so I’m nice and clean.
Then it’s naptime again. After that, I stroll across the kitchen counters and table, looking for leftover scraps or those yummy breakfast dishes the young humans leave when they go to school.
Then it’s naptime.
Around the time I wake up, humans return to my house so I lounge around on the floor like the good kitty they think I am.
Periodically, I’d need to use the litter box, and when I cover my mess, I’d get to throw litter all over the floor. What do I care? I don’t have to clean it up. Once a week, the humans will put fresh litter in there and sweep up my mess.
When I want to be stroked, I only have to rub my furry face against a human and I get instant gratification.
Of course, when the humans are home, unless I’m eating, using the litter box, or being rubbed, I will spend all of my time napping.
When they go to bed, I will spend my time playing. My favorite game will involve rolling a marble across the tile floor just outside the adult human’s bedroom.
Posted: May 11, 2009 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Family, Life | Tags: allowance, forgot, funny, grounded, Humor, mom, Mother's day, runaway, ungrateful |
Hey guys, remember me?
The tall redhead who gave birth to you.
Not ringing a bell, huh?
Okay then… how about… the lady who wanders around cleaning up after you? Making sure you have food to eat, clean clothes to wear, pays for the utilities and puts a roof over your head?
I’m the one who pays your allowance and grounds you.
Ah, NOW you remember.
Just so you know, today was Mother’s Day.
Yes, It’s always been in May.
No, it wasn’t supposed to be on a Tuesday this year. It’s always on a Sunday.
Look at the calendar. It’s circled in red. There are big blue arrows pointing to it.
Yes I scribbled on the calendar.
No, you can’t.
Stop trying to change the subject!
Today was Mother’s Day. Millions of mothers got flowers, taken out to dinner, pampered.
No, not Pampers or diapers. Not every mother is old.
I am NOT that old!
That’s it. You’re grounded!
And no allowance for a month!
Next year for Mother’s Day, I’ll be relaxing on a beach.
We’ll see how long it takes before you guys notice I’m missing.
Yeah I know, you’ll notice on allowance day.
Posted: May 8, 2009 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Humor, Life | Tags: addictions, art, author, books, characters, cheerios, Claire collins, diet, fun, funny, Humor, Novels, options, reading, Second wind, smoking, Writing |
On April Fool’s day of this year, I quit smoking. I found the date to be very fitting since I was a smoking fool for over 21 years. Yes, I was barely out of the womb when I started. I was young and stupid. Those were the good ol’ days.
So I traded my nicotine addiction for a new vice.
I’m now addicted to Cheerios.
I’ve tried to quit smoking four times in the last two years. I gained forty pounds trying to quit. This time, I grab cheerios when I get a craving.
I love Cheerios. Do you realize how many kinds of Cheerios there are? Apple cinnamon, strawberry yogurt burst, multi-grain, honey nut… the list goes on and on. http://www.cheerios.com/ourcereals/ourcereals_home.aspx
The worst part of my new addiction is holding the cheerio while I light it on fire and inhale.
Posted: May 5, 2009 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Family, Humor, Life | Tags: characters, Claire collins, Family, fun, Humor, kids, Second wind, tattoo, Writing |
I woke up this morning with a tattoo. It’s a fluid , graceful horse head sitting delicately on my right ankle. It’s lovely.
It wasn’t there when I went to bed and I don’t remember going out and getting drunk. If I did go out and get drunk, I would remember some of it – wouldn’t I?
I stumbled out of my room blurry-eyed and headed for the coffee pot. At least my new body art didn’t hurt. Or maybe I was really really drunk. As caffeine coursed through my blood, I became aware of giggling coming from the living room.
There sat my eight year old son and seven year old daughter.
Or at least I think it was them.
It was hard to tell through the tattoos covering them from head to foot, but the giggles sounded familiar. My husband reclined on the couch, his right arm tattooed clear down to the hand holding the remote. I guess I should consider myself lucky that only my foot and ankle were accessible to the tatoo bandits giggling on the living room floor.
When they saw me watching, the little tribal covered beings chased after me , each with a sponge in one hand and slips of plastic coated paper gripped in the other. I barely escaped into my bathroom with my coffee before the sponge slapped wetly against the door and the giggling fiends went in search of another victim.
I think I heard a cat yowl.
Should I tell them I don’t have any rubbing alcohol to remove their decorations?
No more sleeping in for me if it means my husband has to take the kids to the store with him. Who knows what they will come home with next.
Knowing my luck, my husband will decide to let them play doctor and I will wake up strapped to the bed by bandages. And with my luck, the tattooed cat will be in there with me.
Posted: April 12, 2009 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Humor, Writing about Writing | Tags: author, books, characters, Claire collins, create, funny, Humor, Novels, Second wind, Writing |
An idea for a new book smacked me in the forehead last week. It was painful, but I took aspirin, put aside the book I’ve been working on for the past several months, and let the new story pour out into a word document. Three pages into it, I had another realization smack me in the head. I donned my husbands football helmet to protect my brain and reread the beginning I had just written. It was true. I hated the lead female character in the book. She came across as a princess type. She was pretty, and she knew it. She dated brainless eye candy and realized they weren’t nearly as perfect as she was. Yep, I couldn’t stand her and she wouldn’t shut up. “Write my story,” she kept yelling in my ear as she stomped her size seven shoe. “Write my story. I’m perfect. My life needs to be perfect. Keep going.” I frowned, looking out past the face guard of the helmet at the computer screen. “Shut up. You’re too perfect. Your problems are in your own perfect little head. You need real problems if you want a place in my book.” Then I read over the parts about her best friend, a normal mother of two with motherly hips and a determined smile. She wasn’t anywhere near perfect, and she didn’t claim to be. Thankfully, the helmet deflected the brain impact this time around. Despite the cries of outrage from Miss Perfect, I backspaced clear to the point where their personalities really started to emerge. My perfect character became more realistic, more flawed, and her best friend became more wise, more single, and less motherly. I quickly added another five pages full of words building their lives and rounding them out into likable, believable people. Miss Perfect’s voice in my head became less demanding as I wrote. She became freindlier, more caring. By the time I finished the first chapter, she was my new best friend, and her best friend was a strong counterpart, her strengths and weaknesses merging well with Miss NowNotSoPerfect. “Thanks for not listening,” she whispered, scuffing the toe of her size nine on the floor. I clicked the save button and smiled, but I keep the helmet handy, just in case. Claire Collins is the author of Fate and Destiny and Images of Betrayal. http://www.secondwindpublishing.com
Posted: March 22, 2009 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Humor, Second wind | Tags: animals, author, characters, Claire collins, dog, fun, funny, Humor, Novels, people, Second wind, Writing |
Animals dominate my life. Technically, I guess I shouldn’t call the children animals except for the fact they tend to climb the walls like monkeys, eat like pigs, and fight like lions. They can also be cuddly and sweet like a puppy. They’ve even been known to lick my face on occasion.
Animals of the furry four-legged variety also dominate my life. A dog and two cats share our small living space along with the four children. I’ve noticed that animals play parts in my books as well. The animals in my books have their own distinct personalities. It takes effort to turn a flat doorstop of an animal into a character that readers will enjoy.
Even as I type this, a furry calico critter sits on the couch beside me, her paws tucked under her white chest like a proper little lady. She has a stub where her tail should be, but she wasn’t injured, just born that way. She smiles at me and closes her eyes when I rub the soft fur around her ears and under her chin. She couldn’t be happier, until another two-legged animal comes running over too fast and my little critter leaps from the couch.
All of my four-legged animals were abandoned or feral. They each have unique personalities and their own quirks, just like the two-legged variety. I wouldn’t trade any of them.
Claire Collins is the author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny
Posted: March 8, 2009 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Humor, Writing about Writing | Tags: characters, Claire collins, Humor, people |
My mother ran her own business, starting with craft shows when I was only about five years old. I always went with her so I learned to make change at a very young age. I also learned how to smile and be polite to make the sale. When the crowds were slow, I learned to watch people and I would make up stories about them in my head. What else was a child supposed to do while working for eight to ten hours?
The mannerisms and actions of the people walking by the booth would portray what was going on in their lives. The ones who walked by very quickly had no interest in what we were selling, their minds set reaching their destination. The mother’s who walked by with strollers were usually moving much slower, the stroller still rolling back and forth while they stopped to look at baby blankets. A wayward child would wander by with a frantic mother coming soon after in search of them. I learned to watch their eyes. The eyes gave way to internal dialogue. This customer loved the items and would have paid twice what we were asking, or another person may have had a longing for the item, but the price was too high and they had to weigh what adjustments they could make and how much they really wanted the item. Most of those people came back.
When they paid for the items, I noticed their hands. Long graceful hands with sculpted fingernails always made me think of someone with disposable income. Women with chipped nail polish and weathered hands reminded me of the middle aged mother who still wanted to remember that she was a woman, but spent more time on her family than herself.
Dirty or calloused hands belonged to people who used their hands to work. It’s nothing to sacrifice a chunk of skin if you hands are bringing something broken back to life.
All of these observations paved the way for me to create characters. It’s very important that a character is a fully rounded person, from the way they stand, the way they walk, the way they move their hands are all just as important as what they look like while they move and what their hands look like. Character development isn’t only about the words they speak or the events around them. It’s about the unique mannerisms they posses and the mindless unspoken clues they unconsciously carry.
Posted: November 6, 2008 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Humor | Tags: art, artist, author, funny, Humor, known, name, recognition |
The other day, I was a patient waiting patiently for the nurse to call my name. I grabbed the magazine closest to me on the waiting room table and perused the pages. The publication was an interior decorating magazine aimed at people who have six figures to spare. Each of the rooms was decorated with an abundance of top-dollar items designed by well-known names and firms in their circles.
I have no idea who they were.
Obviously, I am not in that circle. On one cream colored wall was a framed drawing in a childlike scratch of x’s and o’s. My thought? How sweet, the wealthy homeowners framed artwork created by their child or grandchild.
Nope. The artwork, which looked exactly like something one of my kids would have rendered at the age of three, was some kind of a big deal by some famous artist.
I can’t remember his name and it really isn’t important to me, however it does make me want to give the kids a pack of crayons and some poster board and see if I can’t get rich selling their scribbles as art since that seems to be all the latest rage.
Books are similar. People will buy any book written by an author they have heard of, even if the book itself isn’t any good. There are forums across the internet devoted to authors who have created one good book, and a lot of mediocre books. Readers rave about how many they have read and the plot points of each, and if anyone disagrees with the fanatical ravings, then they are immediately quartered and drawn by the other members of the group.
Now, I am off to go find an artists page and let the fanatics there know that if they insist on adorning their walls with a particular style of impressionist artwork, I can get them quality originals for a fraction of the price. All I have to do is build the name recognition.
Posted: October 19, 2008 | Author: Tracy Beltran | Filed under: Humor | Tags: author, books, Claire collins, Humor, Novels, phone, Texting, war and peace, Writing |
Do people really talk to each other anymore? If I want my fourteen year old son’s attention, I text him. His fingers fly over the tiny keys faster than my own whiz across a keyboard. He doesn’t talk to his friends on the phone, instead choosing to communicate in silent spurts of abbreviations and acronyms.
With all of these substandard forms of writing floating around, the rules of grammar, punctuation, and even the meanings of words have blurred. In emails, forums, groups, and text messages, miscommunication is common. The reader cannot see or hear the writer. They cannot hear tone or inflection. They cannot see facial expressions or body language. All the reader can see are the letters arranged to create a semblance of understandable communication through words, acronyms, or abbreviations. If the reader isn’t familiar with the writer’s code, then the letters are merely that. Letters arranged without any meaning.
For authors, our goal is to paint the entire picture for the reader. We lay out the scene so the reader can see the characters and the locations and hear what is happening at the time. Our letters must be arranged carefully into comprehensive words, structured sentences, and complete thoughts.
Can you imagine the books of the future? I will translate for you in parenthesis.
“AY?” BG (“Hi, how are you?” Sally asked with a big grin.)
“0 U?” J (“Nothing, what’s up with you?” Mary replied, smiling)
“0 WAYD?”(“Nothing,” Sally replied, “What are you doing?)
“Broke up w/bf” L (“I broke up with my boyfriend.” Mary’s voice was sad.)
“Sry” (“I’m sorry”)
“NBD” (Mary shrugged. “No big deal.”)
“RU OK?” (“Are you okay?”)
“J but WTF?” (“I’m fine,” Mary said. “I just didn’t understand what went wrong. It started out so well and then he just changed. We had so much in common and we talked all the time, but lately, he’s been so distant. I think there may be someone else. I just don’t know. You know how guys can be. They are all lovey dovey when you’re alone, but the minute his friends show up, he becomes a stranger, and then the other day, we were in a chat room and he was talking to some blonde avatar. And I was right there.”)
“SOB STBY” (“What a jerk,” Sally said, “I wish I could say something to help.”)
“NP BRB” J (“It’s okay, really,” she said cheerfully, trying to keep her spirits up despite the devastating breakup. “Hang on a second okay, Sally?” Mary had another text coming in on her phone.)
“HB GGP” (“Sure,” Sally said, “Go ahead and answer it. I have to step away for a moment anyway.”)
“OMG GTG TTYL” (“Sally, he’s texting me right now telling me he’s sorry and he still loves me.” Mary couldn’t contain her excitement. “He doesn’t want to break up. There was no other girl. He knows he behaved badly. He promises not to do it again. I’m so happy!” Mary practically raced around the room with joy, her voice rising as she talked to her friend. “He’s going to give me his personal email address and he’s going to send me a real picture! Anyway, I have to go for now because he’s still texting me and his picture is coming through. I’ll talk to you later and let you know what he looks like!”)
Just imagine, in the future, a book like War and Peace would end up being a mere thirty pages.