Thursday, December 31, 2009

TMI Thursday: in the style of truth or scare

TMI Thursday
One night in the past seven days, a woman was trying to get to sleep. Her feet were freezing and the empty space on the other side of the bed threw her off nocturnally.

Why, at such a late hour on a weeknight, was her husband not in bed already? Didn't he remember that he and his wife are working stiffs, nine-to-five-ish-ers with alarm clocks and whatnot?

This particularly beautiful, warm, witty woman couldn't fall asleep. She tossed a little. She turned a ton. Then, she made the rookie mistake of peeling back the comforter and heading out into the living room to see what had distracted her mister.

"Are you nuts?" she asked, heading toward her end of the couch and shooting an annoyed face at her husband, who sat on his end of the couch, behind his laptop.

She glanced at the monitor out of the corner of her eye, and tried not to appear as if she noticed: little red x's in upper right corners being quickly clicked to close certain windows, which momentarily sparkled in hot pinks and golds before disappearing into cyber-nothingness.

This smart, hard working, loving woman considered being annoyed, for she had, presumably, stumbled upon her husband's foray into internet porn.

Instead, she turned the other cheek, quite literally, toward the end table to fumble for a late night nicotine snack, a tylenol p.m. -- anything that said I got out of bed for a reason, not to interupt spy on you.

"I'm just, uh, finishing up here," said her husband, possibly looking a little sheepish. She couldn't really tell you, though, just how he looked, for she was avoiding eye contact as though it were catching like a plague.

She considered a rematch of one of their famous fights, of the "That's kind of inappropriate/ couldn't you hide it better? It makes me feel inadequate/ Why are you so secretive about it?" variety.

She sighed. That was sooo five years ago.

Plus, it was kind of unfair, you know, for her to be mad. She had, afterall, been laying in bed fantasizing -- rather decidedly -- about another man.

Afterthoughts:

So, what say you, dear readers? Truth or scare? Did this event unfold in my life -- another alledgedly-true overshare for your guilty reading pleasure?  Instead, is this a carefully crafted chunk of comedic fiction?

You may never know.

No TMI at Lilu's blog this week, but I'm hoping she'll still link all of the posts that we share, so you might head over there and check. No, definitely head over: she is a blog-goddess.

Shout out to my bloggy friend Tina at Sweet Niblets, who suggested Truth or Scare.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the top ten reasons...

Apparently, people like lists.

Well, I read that somewhere. Someone wrote it = it must be true.

Top Ten Reasons Amber May Discontinue TMI Thursdays in 2010:

10. If her mother read some of them then her mother would be sad.
9. If her husband read some of them then her husband would be mad.
8. TMI is really just code for lack of filter.
7. Future agents/ bosses/ lovers (what? where did that come from?) may not be amused.
6. Oversharing should be saved for alcohol soaked evenings, face to face with "live" friends who will promise to keep my sordid stories secret and inevitably blab them all around town.
5. Do people really want to hear about Amber's third nipple, Amber's nub-of-a-tail, and Amber's illegitimate throng of stephchildren?
4. People might start to wonder if any of the factoids in reason number five are actually true, and if I don't continue with TMI Thursdays... they may never know.
3. TMI does not necessarily stand for "takes more imagination."
2. Because what you don't know won't hurt you?
1. I can't tell you; it's too embarrassing.

(I'm blushing.)

So, TMI: Keep it or dump it?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

birches


Birches by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree~
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Sometimes, it's nice to let someone else do the writing. Some days, I just need the comfort of someone else's words. The whole poem is wonderful, but I highlighted my favorite part. What do you think Frost is saying?

Monday, December 28, 2009

all in a twist

Isn't it unreal that a decade has passed since we got our global panties in a twist over Y2K?

Another year is coming to a close, and my panties aren't in a twist about anything, unless you think the following concerns are something:

considering fearing the idea of procreation
credit card debt
turning thirty in about fourteen months
my company being bought out
my job changing drastically -- except for the part about it still being in banking
my dad turning sixty (it weirds me out, probably more than the idea of saying adieu to my twenties)
writing 2010 on things
realizing that the two-thousands thus far have been a blur (i.e. my husband and I are still arguing about whether or not we got engaged in '05 or '06.)
not knowing what to call the 2010's (I'm leaning toward the twenty-teens)
feeling strange about living at the turn of the century (how odd will we seem to the people who are our age a hundred years from now? I mean, don't people who lived in the early 1900's just seem peculier to you? They do to me.)

No, my panties aren't in a twist.

Update: Well, my panties weren't twisted when I started composing this post. Mostly, I just wanted to type panties a ton of times. However, a bird flew into my living room window at lunchtime... and I started to feel creeped out. I'm not even superstitious.

(Plus, the glass window didn't shatter or even crack, and the bird recoiled but flew away.)

Still. Creepyspice.

*changing panties.*

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Read: 2010 style.



I'm all signed up and ready to read!

If you are interested in joining the fun, head over to J. Kaye's Book Blog to enlist.

I think I'll start the year with Donna Tarrt's THE LITTLE FRIEND. Next I plan to check out Barbara Kingsolver's much awaited THE LACUNA and Sue Miller's THE SENATOR'S WIFE.

What books are you guys excited to read in 2010?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

TMI: Christmas Edition (subtitled, the 100th post had to be good.)

It's a banner day here at musings of amber murphy. Not only is it Christmas Eve (eggnog: check!) and TMI Thursday (hilarious humiliations: check!) but I am also celebrating my 100th post. I thought about linking my most memorable posts -- my favorites, the ones that got the most comments -- but that just seemed like a ton of work to do on a holiday. Instead, I'll opt to focus on the present, and post a TMI for the ages. I'll give you so much information, in fact, that you might regret ever being mildly amused by my TMI Thursdays. Are you ready for this?

TMI Thursday

I went through this phase. I fondly refer to it as my six-month bar-slut phase. It started smack in the middle of the summer in 2002, and basically ended just before I started dating my future husband in early 2003.

(Three years from now I can say this all happened a decade ago. I sort of look forward to that milestone.)

In July of '02, I ended a two year relationship. Instead of spending weekends curled up with the same boy, watching movies or making googly-eyes at one another, I was free to go out and do as I pleased.

Newly 21, I started frequenting a karaoke bar with my friend, whose privacy I shall protect, since I passionately blame her for what comes next. (Why? She recomeneded the karoake bar.)

I was never that kind of girl, back before the endless rounds of beer and tequila shots started flowing as easily as Mariah Carey's Without You did from my drunken lips. (And Allison Kraus' When You Say Nothing At All. And Jann Arden's Insensitive. And Deana Carter's Strawberry Wine. And Jewel's Foolish Games. And Faith Hill's Cry. Yes, I was also a karaoke whore.)

The first boy was named Sean. He was an IU fan, like me. He drank Coors Lite, like me. He ate meat. After two serious relationships with vegetarians, this fact alone made me certain he was my destiny.

He wasn't.

I'll spare you the gorey weekend-details of the many, many men the few lucky men (insert small-ish, appropriate number here) who came to know Amber Leigh Tidd-not-yet-Murphy over the span of those hazy months.

But, this TMI belongs to a dee-jay. He was really the last of my conquests, the end of the list of first names boys I remember with  fondness. Dee-jay was a passionate Pittsburgh Steelers fan who was allergic to wool and shared my love of slow dancing to Journey songs.

Oh, and he had a girlfriend.

Dee-jay and I weren't doing anything wrong. We just hung out a ton. I don't remember why his old lady was never around. Maybe she worked nights. Went out of town a lot? Just didn't care that he was out all the time? Who knows.

Well, by Christmas Eve, I was just absolutely smitten. After opening gifts with my parents and my sister, I rushed off to meet dee-jay at a bar for karoke and Christmas gift exchanging. (If I remember correctly, I spent a small fortune on a Steeler's blanket that wouldn't make him sneeze, and he bought me a few beers.)

That night we had our first kiss. Yes, Amber the home-wrecker and dee-jay the cheater, shared a fantasic little snog under twinkling white lights on the bar patio. It would have all been very romantic if he hadn't been such an asshole.

Our "relationship" was one of possibilities, which we talked about through Christmas and into the New Year, celebrated together at the karaoke bar where it all began, clinking our plastic glasses of champagne -- but not kissing of course, in a bar full of people who knew he was dating someone else.

Over the phone the next day, he wanted to know a few things. If he left his girlfriend, would I understand that if he and I were together, there would be certain things he would expect? The money, for instance. He would be the one in charge of it. Oh, and in the meantime, I shouldn't be dating anyone else. It was important that I be faithful to him while he weighed the options of ending his real relationship.

In early January, the bathroom in my apartment was gutted for repair. Still toying with the idea of seeing where things went, I headed to dee-jay's house for a shower. He obsessively made sure I didn't leave so much as a strand of hair for his girlfriend to discover. We got all snuggly on his couch, and he asked if I spit or swallowed, because, in a relationship, he expected the latter.

Neither, I told dee-jay. Neither.

Whew! I didn't expect to go there, today. Thought I might keep it tame in the spirit of Christmas. And where, prey tell, does Amber get her redeeming qualities? Is it in the willingness to share her indescrestions? Do you still love her?

Don't forget to check out Lilu's blog for all the tragic Thursday tales. TMI goes great with spiked eggnog, and is the perfect stocking stuffer.

Merry Christmas, bloggy pals.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

bloomington christmas

I miss the days when my Mammaw used to come down to Louisville, Kentucky for a week in late December. I miss her sitting in the rocking chair at my mom and dad's house drinking her coffee in her deep purple robe and matching slippers. Despite missing the way things used to be, I am mostly just thankful to still have her in our lives, even if we have to go visit her these days. She refuses to move from Indiana to Kentucky to be closer to us, even though my mom is her only child. I guess I know who passed on the stubborn gene to me.


The little one in the middle is my four year old niece, Carley. She is currently obsessed with that GAP kids commercial, you know, "We want comfy sweaters!" and "How cute are these boots?!" Clearly, I'm getting her a sweater and cute suede boots (with tassels!) for Christmas, and I'm going to learn the song in the commercial so we can perform it together on Christmas Day. (Formal Attire/ Officially Retired!... I've got a ways to go.)


The little bundle of joy in Mammaw's arms is my six month old nephew, Clayton. He seems to be enjoying his first Christmas season, even though my sister did try to lop off his finger with nailclippers Sunday morning. If you peer closely at that tiny thumb, you'll see a band-aid. My sister cried. She felt horrible. Clayton bled, but he was a trooper. Someday, IF I have children, I am sure I will harm them in some way. At that time I shall allow my sister to verbally slaughter me.


I love my new purple scarf, a gift from one of my favorite coworkers who went to India this fall to visit her family. Also, my hair looks pretty in this picture. Doesn't it?



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Retail Therapy? More like retail torture

Oh sweet baby Jesus.

I am exhausted. I have power-shopped the last two days away, and I am still not finished.

My calf muscles are throbbing, what with months and months of general unuse, and though I shopped in sneakers, seem to be screaming at me that it is unfair to sideline them all year and then demand they work overtime around the holidays. My feet ache in agreement.

I'll be honest -- there are one and a half shopping days to go and I am not quite sure I am going to be able to finish without beating my head against Wal-Mart shevles or just plopping right down in the middle of Barnes and Noble and sobbing.

Um, I'm yet to buy one single gift for my husband, and also have not completed one iota of bagging thoughful gift wrapping.

You might ask why I am sitting here staring at my monitor, pounding out a blog entry. How can I sleep at night? With all there is to do, where do I get off taking leisure time this evening?

To you I respond with this: suck my balls. I'm exhausted, my back hurts, and I still need to buy the gift wrapping essentials, so there isn't much else I can do tonight. I'm not going back out there until I've had at least eight hours of sleep, a large coffee, and perhaps a foot massage.

And maybe a valium or something, too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

kissy face; pucker up and close your eyes

     So, people have been posting scenes from their writing today in which the characters kiss each other. It's the Official Kissing Day Blogfest, and I am applying Soft Lips, spritzing Binaca, and trying my hand at this virtual tongue tousle. If you participate, you can link to the hub here.

This is an excerpt from my current WIP, which might be titled ANOTHER MAN DOWN, or FOR THE LOVE OF LAUREL LANCASTER or THE DEAD END, or perhaps none of those. Warning: it's a sad kiss.

     They sat on top of the picnic table outside Latte Da. Adam dangled his legs off the edge and Laurel looked down at her jeans and picked at the frayed edges around her ankles. She could not look at him.
     "I don't know that I've ever really been myself with you," said Laurel. "I want everything you don't. I want the white picket fence and a husband and children."
     "What are you trying to say, Laurel? I know that about you. I think you're yourself with me."
     "I tried so hard to be this adjusted, confident person. But, the whole time we've been together, all I could think about was how it was going to end. I was always so insecure, thinking that you might like another girl better than me. I guess that's why I decided to go ahead and go away to school, because whatever I decided, in the end, I knew you were never going to decide on me. In another year, you'll be the one who is leaving."
     He sighed. The sigh told Laurel that she was probably right, at least in the assumption that he would be leaving town next year. But, the part about liking another girl better? No, it wouldn't be that he found someone he liked better, it would just be someone different. He hoped Laurel understood the distinction.
     "So, you're breaking up with me?" His question came out in a voice she hadn't heard him use before. The words sounded thin, small. She did not want the moment to end, wanted to stay wrapped up in the sadness with him. At least they would still be together.
     Tears fell hot and fast against her face, and she knew that there was no turning back. She did not want to lose him, but she did not want to lose herself either. She just could not envision a scenario where she left for college in a few months with him as her boyfriend, or one where she cancelled her plans and stayed in Kentucky instead. The ultimate mistake, in her estimation, was planning ones future around a man. Regardless, a wave of anguish would come over her and linger; it was inevitable, and she needed it to linger now, through the summer, rather than to hang around her through the fall. That would be no way to spend her first college semester, walking around with a dark cloud over her head and crying her eyes out in bed every night.
     "I need to summer to get used to being without you," said Laurel. She reached for his hand. "I don't know if I can do this." He held her hand in both of his. "I love you. I love you from this deep part of me and it hurts so much to..." She made a fist and put it between her breasts, as if indicating a pain in her chest.
     He did not speak, and she feared that he might stand up and get into the car, and drive her home in silence, and that would be the end of it all. He was always better at goodbye, whether he was leaving her for the evening, hanging up the phone, or getting on a plane to cross an ocean.
     "Adam, if I ever decide I want to move out west, to have a more adventurous life, you have to know that you're the first person I am going to call. And if you decide you want the white picket fence, a wife and a couple of kids... you better call me." She spoke quickly, trying to get it all out.
     "Twenty years," said Adam. His voice was a whisper on the wind, his promise swirling up into the universe.
     He put his arms around her and held her against him. He did not cry, but he did not look unaffected. She wanted him to tell her not to do this, to argue that it did not have to end here. To tell her again what he tried to say in her yearbook. She wanted him to fight for them.
     "Can I kiss you -- one last time?" Laurel would laugh at how dramatic she sounded, if it had not felt so poignantly dreadful.
     "Yes," said Adam. "Yes, you can. Of course you can."
     There was a longing in that kiss, an urgency that Laurel feared she would never again match with her lips.
Time wasn't going to change the way she felt for him; miles would not make the ache inside her heart go away. Soulmates do not need a zip code in common, or the label of a relationship to thrive.
     "Can we still be friends?" Laurel asked, shaking her head a little at how banal she sounded.
     Adam brushed a tear off her cheek and put his hand on his heart. "Friends of best-ness," he said.


***************

Saturday, December 19, 2009

a post in which the murphy's procrastinate

Where's this snow the weatherman talked about?

Today there's nothing but a cold December rain here in Louisville, Kentucky.

I'm supposed to be cleaning the house and wrapping my grandmother's Christmas gifts, as we are leaving for Bloomington, Indiana in a few hours. So far this morning, I have puttered around facebook, caught up on my google reader, smoked four cigarettes, and had two diet cokes for breakfast. Oh, I started a load of laundry. I'm on task!

My husband is working -- he'll finish up around noon thirty -- and when he gets home at 1:00, I plan to be packed (and have him packed) and showered and ready to go, and I'll inevitably stamp around as he sits on the couch and takes forever to claim that he is ready to leave for our road trip.

This is how we operate when preparing for travel. If we're going to visit my side of the family, like today, he won't be ready to go on time. If we're going to visit his side of the family -- well, then usually he won't be ready to go on time, either.

I have learned that I just need to tell him I want to leave about 30 minutes earlier than I actually do, so that I can trick him into timely arrival for family affairs.

So, I'm signing off until Sunday night, at which time I will arrive home from Bloomington and throw myself at the television in order to claim the remote before my husband does, so that the Survivor finale will trump Sunday Night Football.

I wear the t.v. pants in my house. Buh-ya.

Oh, crap. I'd better go wrap my Mammaw's gifts, and do the dishes, and sweep the kitchen floor, and dust things, and pick up clutter, and get myself into the shower. It's already ten in the morning.

Maybe just the tiniest peek at my WIP before I start on all that. I mean, I'm leaving her for the entire weekend. She'll be lonely while I'm gone. Maybe I can just cuddle with one of my middle chapters for a few minutes before I go.

Friday, December 18, 2009

them's fightin' words

I am so zapped today. I think I need to stop staying up so late every night.

Seriously, I do not even have the energy to compose this. My eyes are closing.

Oh God.
Caffeine crash.

I am pretty sure this is like the time Jessie Spano (from Saved by the Bell, of course) was strung out on uppers and was soooo excited, sooo excited... so, so scared.

Not only am I fatigued, I am also tired of certain elements of my job, like not being able to straight cuss out certain people who I work with.

Seriously shut the hell up and do your job.

Khtankxbye.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

TMI Thursday: peel the onion


TMI Thursday
I may have mentioned before that my first real, live job was as a popcorn pusher. I was sixteen and a half, equiped with a driver's license and a gift from my parents -- of the minivan variety -- in which I could cruise around town.

Tangent, to the tune of Ghetto Superstar:

Ghetto Aerostar/ that is what you are/
You don't need a car/ vans are best by far/
Drive away with me/ from my parking space/
We can take the whole family/ Whoa-ohh-oh.

Anway, I was a working girl. There was a new world of boys to crush on that fall -- not boys from my high school or youth group, but coworker boys who didn't already have an impression of me as the formerly gap toothed semi-nerd or churchy goody-goody.

And then there were the assistant managers, twenty-somethings, I assumed, waltzing around in their shirts and ties and acting all wordly and superior. One (what was his name?) had a right hand that was painfully larger than his left. We gossiped about possible causes of that situation, but we flirty-giggled when he let us hold our palms up to his to see just how much bigger his hand was than our own. (Okay, I giggled. I can't speak for my fellow concessionistas.)

There was the dreamy Italian assistant manager, Tony, married but friendly. He and I exchanged email addresses one evening because he was going to send me something important. Of course, I don't really remember what, exactly, he was meant to send.

That spring I was on the homecoming court at my high school. (Please don't get the wrong impression about my teenage years: I was representing some Christian-y club, and not even the one for fellowshiping athletes.)

I don't recall if I told Tony the exciting news via email, or at work one evening, but he was thrilled for me. He decided he would attend to show his support, and it would be all "blast for the past" for him, since he was a graduate of the "other" high school in my county. (I grew up just outside of Louisville, in the suburbs, and there were only two high schools in the county back in my day. And, yes, typing back in my day just made me feel old.)

Since I was a loser at that age, I told my parents that he was coming.

This information didn't sit right with my father.

I actually don't remember how it all went down, but we had dial-up juno old school internet, and unless my memory is especially hazy, I think the whole family might have shared the same email account.

Dad opened one of the emails from Manager Tony and read something like, "the other people at work, your parents, and my wife might not understand that we are friends, blah, blah... people are like onions, and to really get to know someone you have to peel back all the juicy layers..."

Yeah, my parents were pissed. This guy was married and emailing their underaged daughter, and if I couldn't see any sexual innuendo in the correspondence, I must have missed the metaphor.

So, a meeting ensued, and attendees included Manager Tony, General Manager Man, and Amber's Dad.

That was the end of our emails. Manager Tony wasn't allowed to even breathe in my direction after that.

But, what my parents didn't know (and still might not know, actually) was that there was a third cute assistant manager, tall and twenty-something, and dashing in his shirt and tie. (But actually quite heinous looking in street clothes, sadly. Also sad: I didn't learn that until a lot later on.)

I'd been making out with Manager Number Three for months in the back of the concession stand, in the dark theatre hallways, in little storage closets, in the back of the other concession stand, in the room where we clocked in and out, and in the back of the box office.

My dad was never the wiser, but Big Right Hand Manager did catch us kissing once, and it pretty much faded after that, because I found out my work boyfriend was kissing numerous other girls in the back of the concession stand, in the dark theatre hallways, in little storage closets, in the back of the other concession stand, in the room where we clocked in and out, and in the back of the box office.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

this day in history

I haven't had the time to write a thing today. I've been so busy, so on task, so focused.

My boss should be proud.

And it's really hard to focus when this time of year rolls around. It's a race to the finish line that is December 25th -- turkey comas and black Fridays fading into the distance as we have left November in our dust.

Anywho, I'm testing the waters for a new blog theme to throw in every once in awhile. Let me know what you think!

This day in History:
disclaimer! All trivia is subject to wikipedia being correct, so don't hold me responsible!

December 16, 1944: The Battle of the Bulge Begins
December 16, 2009: Amber eats a chocolate truffle three chocolate truffles.

December 16, 1978: Cleveland, Ohio becomes the first post-Depression era city to default on its loans, owing $14,000,000 to local banks.
December 16, 2009: Amber realizes she paid on the wrong credit card, and hopes she doesn't get a late fee. (Yes, I am a banker. We're people, too. We make mistakes -- just like everyone else!)

December 16: Kazakhstan celebrates Independence.
December 16, 2009: Amber gets a hankering to watch Borat.

December 16, 1930 – Bank robber Herman Lamm and members of his crew are killed by a posse of 200, following a botched bank robbery in Clinton, Indiana.
December 16, 2009: Amber reads the above factoid and laughs out loud. 

December 16, 1775: Jane Austen is born.
December 16, 2009: Amber thinks about decomposition. (Ha. I hope everyone laughs. That is probably the best pun I will ever write in my entire life!!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a christmas miracle

My husband finally fixed the gutters after six months of me not nagging him at all.

See ladies, this is how it's done. You just inwardly groan and curse his very existence, and things around the house that need fixing will evetually get fixed.

In truth, the only reason he finally mustered the motivation to fix said gutter is because his brother (and his brother's new girlfriend) are spending the night at our house this weekend, to dog sit for Carson, while hubs and I head to Bloomington, Indiana to for Christmas with my grandma.

In truth, I don't care why the gutter is now, once again, snugly in place -- I am just glad it is no longer dangling precariously from the house and threatening to slice through my skull on the next blustery day.
Sadly, now that hubs has completed this long overdue task, I have the sneaking suspicion that he will expect me to tidy up the indoors, lest my potential sister-in-law get the impression that the Murphy's live in complete and utter filth all year long. However, to avert her possible disdain for dirt will require the use of a vacuum and (shudder) a dustrag. And perhaps another Christmas miracle.

When a girl has barely began her shopping, she doesn't have time for all that. I'm supposed to be hauling out the holly, not the swiffer wet jet.

Who am I kidding. I don't even own know how to operate one of those.

Monday, December 14, 2009

december

It's really December. We're really two weeks into December.

Oh.

I suppose I should start my Christmas shopping.

I swear, I'm worse than the stereotypical man. I have bought one gift so far -- I ordered the book my mom wanted from amazon, since it isn't in stock (or even available for reorder) at B & N.

As I window shopped around the internet (ha - is it just me or is the idea of "window shopping" online seriously fitting and funny) I thought about how I could so easily become one of those introverts who does all her shopping from the comfort of her couch. No crowded parking lots to nagivate, no canned Christmas music blaring from speakers, no greedy little children shouting...


update:
By the way... I totally hit the  publish post tab before I meant to...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

a december day in the Life of a banker

A Banker's Christmas Tree:

I would like to inform you that the tree skirt is fashioned out of bank envelopes. Please also note the suckers and the money strap chain. And the rubberband balls.


Vanna White Amber with the tree. And wrinkled kakhis.



My boring office. I stay out of it as much as I can.



The rest of the joint. I would like to tag Kentucky Blonde in this photo. She's the, uh, blond one.


Hell on earth = demanding that hundreds of customers empty out their safe desposit boxes before this branch building closes in February...

Friday, December 11, 2009

for the love of the game

Yes, I'm all serious and writerly, but I'm a sporty girl, too. I mean, not in the coordinated, running aound with athletic gear sense, but in fandom... if there is a bigger Indiana basketball fan than me, I would like to meet him!

I took these photos at a game I went to last year at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. A friend of mine has season tickets, and her seats are pretty high up there. This was our view of the court during the first half of the game. However, at halftime the most wonderful thing happened. A man was leaving early and sold us his tickets for $10.00. They were in a section called The North Lodge -- behind the home basket and ten rows from the floor.

Can you see this picture at all? Once we were cozied up in our amazing new seats, I took a picture of the nosebleeds, thinking just how far we'd come. I mean, we'd hit the big time scoring these seats, rubbing elbows with the newspaper photographers, the wealthy, and the alumni.


Just look how happy I am! I am literally glowing. (I might have been a little sweaty, so that could account forthe shine. But, it was warm in there and I was cheering really hard for my team, so I am not apologizning.)

You'll note my t-shirt says CHAMPS. This is the NCAA Championship t-shirt from 1987, the last year IU won it all. My dad gave to me years ago. I used to sleep in it when I was a kid and it came down to my knees. It might have has a hole in the arm pit.


I was especially excited at the end of this game, since we won -- and only by three points. It was a nail-biter.
Also, pardon the red eye. It's either the school colors, or the devil in me.



Here, hubs and I pose for a phot while fans of the opposing team (how did they get those seats?) hang their heads behind us. I'm not sure what is up with my hubster's hair in this picture.You'll note also that while his shirt is red, it is a shout out for Old Navy and not "for the glory of old IU."


Hubs is a Louisville fan. He supports me in my fandom, since we don't play against each other on a yearly basis anymore. The first year we were dating -- in fact it was about five minutes after we started dating -- Louisville blew out Indiana by more than twenty points.... so that is why I don't feel bad that this picture is more flattering of me than him.

Here I am at the end of that night, blissfully happy and getting ready to leave Bloomington and the historic barn that is Assembly Hall.


I might look a little bit like a bug in my Hoosier tobaggon, but it kept my little noggin warm.


 So. Tomorrow is the annual rivalry between Indiana and the as-yet-unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats.
Tip off is at noon. Bring it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

TMI Thursday: a rose by any other name

For the first bit of my overshare, I would like to announce that I have monster cramps. They came on suddenly, just when I thought I might be two days late and have exciting Christmas news to share with my family. I actually got a bit emotional thinking about it last night, about how, if I were knocked up, my mom would get all misty-eyed around the Christmas tree, and that all the attention would be on me the news would make everyone so happy. Then, I watched a bit of that Barbara Walter's special on fascinating people, and saw a shot of Kate Gosselin's bare belly -- back when it contained six little people. I started retching a little.

(You see, I'm not trying to get pregant. I'm just not trying to not get pregnant.)

So. There is no bun in my oven. Perhaps my breadmaker's yeast does not rise. I do not know yet, nor am I devistated or concerned in the slightest. All I know is, I will never go the route of modern medicince in order to conceive. Kate Gosselin's belly pretty much affirmed that for me. If it happens, it happens. This month it didn't happen. Pass the hard liquor and the spiked eggnog. I'm only drinking for one this holiday season.

In other TMI news, I wanted to share a little bit about the Tidd in the mouthful that is Amber Leigh Tidd Murphy.

Tidd is, as you may have assumed, my maiden name. However, I wasn't born Amber Leigh Tidd. My parents divorced when I was a youngster, and my mom remarried. I agreed to take my new dad's last name before carefully weighing the ramifications of such an unusual surname.

Oh, how I envied the Smith's and the Johnson's and the Robertson's. In my Kentucky elementary school, I was the butt of every tittie joke ever written. Amber Titt. Amber Tittie. I was the president of the itty-bitty-titty committee. Once, a prank caller rang the house -- fairly late -- and my mom answered. I don't know where I was that night, but the next morning she told me, "Someone called for you. Something about a committee meeting?" I knew immediately what it was about. I was mortified.

If you called in to a popular radio station in the morning, the deejay, Peter B, would announce your friend's birthday. So, on March 2nd my eighth grade year, I tuned the radio while I applied my make-up and listened for my name. One of my gal pals had promised she would call and have ol' Peter B give me a shout out. He went down the list -- and there it was, and a happy 13th birthday to Amber Tidd, uh, haha. Even the deejay made fun of my last name. On my birthday. Sadspice.

You know when you introduce yourself? It's so easy for most people to do, to say, "Hello, there. I'm Mary Thomas." No, wasn't easy for me. Even after you spell it out , T - I - D - D... you must confirm, "Yes, that's two D's on the end, as in David." I spent most of my adolescence introducing myself by first name only. Why go there if I didn't have to?

My whole life, I thought I couldn't wait to get married and be rid of my last name. That all changed when it actually came time to drop it. It's official: I'm Amber Tidd Murphy. Poke fun of me all you want. In truth, in terms of childhood-trauma scars, the last name bullying was probably second to the jokes about the canyon between my two front teeth. (Picture, deadpan, "Do you shop at the GAP?")

Plus, I'm no longer the president of any committe. I now have really big boobies. T to the I to the double D.

(Visit Lilu at the homefront for all the TMI you can stomach...)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

a mighty wind


I feel a bit like Dorothy today. It is incredibly windy here in Louisville: tornadically so. The doors at the entrance of the bank are being swept up in the gusts, and keep slamming open and shut.

Out one window the sky is slate grey. Out another is sunshine and a puffy cloud.

The local paper reports that we can expect wind gusts as high as 50 mph.

I'm starting to have flashbacks of last year. I might need to take a mental health day, or a little white anxiety pill.

See, September 14, 2008 is a day which will live in infamy in the minds of Louisvillians. Hurricane Ike, over 1000 miles away from us, brought us a gift in the form of 81 mph winds. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon until the wind started to whistle. Trees bent as if bowing at dignitaries. My new husband and I watched from the living room window. Having barely bested Tropical Storm Hanna while on our Myrtle Beach honeymoon (we'd been back less than one week!) I wondered if the universe might be trying to tell us something about the fate of our marriage.


Being the pansy that I am when it comes to impending natural disasters, I hid in the bathroom with my cell phone and cigarettes, but my heart rate escalated without the help of nicotine. The day was so calm -- no rain, no foreboding darkened sky. Just all encompassing wind, sweeping through and at the same time sticking around. I thought of the worse: our roof being ripped off, sharp objects turned into projectiles and hurtling through the picture window and bursting into the living room. Fallen trees.


A little antsy at my post on the ledge of the tub, I returned to the living room just in time to see the tree in our front yard bow out. A fairly hefty branch met its end on the hood of my husband's Cavalier. My face fell: I had been on the verge of telling him to go move the car.

Hubs went out to survey the damage while I cried a little and took pictures from the front door. The power on our street flickered and faded. I was fearful that the rest of the tree was going to come down on top of him, but he soon convinced me to get out there in the midst of it to take photos of the damage for insurance purposes.


The Cavalier started without any problem and he decided that I should sit in the driver's seat and put it in reverse while he lifted the branch from the hood. Clearly, the damage was mostly cosmetic.

Since we were without power -- and thus unable to watch news coverage and find out what was going on in town -- we decided to venture out (in my car!) to take in the sights. On the a.m. radio, a deejay warned that it was best to stay inside unless you absolutely just had to get out of the house for some reason. This warning didn't detour the Murphys!

All over Louisville, trees were down. Many were completetly uprooted. The destruction was massive, the devistation alarmingly obvious.

I didn't take this photo to the left, but it absolutely sums up what we saw that afternoon, again and again as we wound our way around street after street of utter mayhem.

You can understand why, as I write this, my palms sweat a little and I keep looking up from the monitor to survey what is going on outside my window at this very moment, as the trees again do their eerie dance.

At best, I pray that we don't lose power for seven days this time around. What ensued that week deserves a blog post all its own.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the shape's the thing


In the 1999 article, Virtual Reality: The Perils of Seeking a Novelist's Facts in Her Fiction, Sue Miller -- one of my favorite authors -- discusses her perpetual annoyance with those who ask to what degree her novels are autobiographical. It's bothersome, she believes, because it is "a kind of potential diminishment" of her work, and implies that it is "possibly no more than the stringing together of episodes lifted directly from my life, or from the lives of fascinating characters I have known."

Then, she has this to say:


For the true writer, though, however close the events may be to his life, there is some distance, some remove, that allows for the shaping of the work. The shaping, after all, is what it's all about. Every reader can sense the difference between a writer who embodies meaning through the events he describes and the writer who seems simply mired in those events. It is that struggle for meaning that lets the writer escape the tyranny of what really happened and begin to dream his fictional dream.
 
I really, really like the disparity between the two types of writers.
 
To read the full article, one in a series of writers on writing, follow this link to The New York Times on the web.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Miserable Monday

I'm stealing  Tina Lynn's Make Me Laugh Monday series so that someone can throw me a bone today. (Tina, you can yell at me later. I know that I just totally jocked you, and I understand that there is the possibility of a cyber throw-down between you and me because of it. This is a risk I'm willing to take.)



Come on -- leave me your best jokes in the comments. I really need to hear something funny.

It's been one of those Mondays.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jodi Picoult: What's all the fuss?

I'm about to find out. I bought THE PACT today, because it was the cheapest of her reads available at Half-Price books.

I love that store.

When I pulled into the parking lot, there were half a dozen people carrying in boxes of books to sell. I thought for half a second that I might get a box together and do the same.

But, it's hard to part with books. I think I would end up buying them back.

My favorite books on my shelves:

The Virgin Suicides
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The Poisonwood Bible
The Good Mother
A Spot of Bother
While I was Gone
I am Charlotte Simmons
Shopgirl
Hamlet
Othello
The Glass Menagerie
night, mother
The Hour I First Believed
Lucky
The Lovely Bones

I could go on.

What are your favorite books on your shelves?

Friday, December 4, 2009

twenty-something questions

I was tagged by Tina. I love that she tagged me, because I like to answer questions about myself, escpecially with words. I am not a fan of surveys that require a click of a radio button to opt for one of multiple choices.

So now that I have established that, I am required (upon penatly of nothing) to tag to other writerly souls.

I pick Travener and Roni, and will happily await their responses should they feel compelled to participate.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Well, the last thing I wrote was a little re-vamp of my mc's breakup with her first serious boyfriend in my WIP. It was kind of fun to be a bit melodramatic, since Laurel is well aware that she is acting that way, and it sort of scolding herself for it. I dig it.

The first thing I wrote (creatively) and held onto was a children's book for Young Author's called FREDDY THE BAKER. But, in fairness, I had help from my dad. So, the first thing that was really my own was a poem from sixth grade English class. I'm looking at the original copy as I type, because I am a nerd. Are you ready for this genius piece of writing?

My Thinking Place
by Amber Tidd

There is a place out in the woods, where I go to think.
It's by a waterfall so shiny, I almost want to take a drink.
I sit on my special rock and think about my day,
I'm so deep in thought that the time just slips away.
The sound of running water calms my anger and fear.
It's like I have a companion, although there is no one near.
I think about my private thoughts, that I want no one else to know, as I
watch the sunshine reflected off the waterfall, which seems to have a magical glow.
Looking at my watch -- it's time to go home, no doubt --
but I'll be back soon because my thinking place is one place I could never live without.


2. Write poetry?

See above, and previous posts where I pimp my inner poet. I've written more poetry than anything else, followed by short stories. I always preferred poetry for capturing little moments. Writing a full novel is so much more challenging and daunting. But, I'm up for it.

3. Angsty poetry?

I wrote a ton of angsty poetry in high school and college. It was all very boy-angsty and sad. Some of those are my favorite pieces, though. I ain't mad at it.

4. Favorite genre of writing?

Um, I like contemporary fiction, modern short stories, literary fiction, women's literature... but I will read pretty much anything I can get my hands on, including crime fiction, sci-fi, and paranormal/ urban fantasy...but I don't think I'll ever write those specialized genres.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?

Probably, and sadly, the one based on me -- my current leading lady, Laurel Lancaster. I had this scary thought this morning. What if no one likes her?

6. Best Plot you've ever created?

Well, since I am only working on my first book, we'll go with that. It's about a woman who loses a former love. He dies. She feels to blame... but it's about more than that. Clearly, I am no where near writing a synopsis yet.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?

Crap.

8. How often do you get writer's block?

I just now stared at the blank space underneath question eight for like a full five minutes.

9. Write fan fiction?

I'm a fan of myself, and I am loosely writing about personal experiences, so um, does that count? The only fan fiction I've ever even read were some Saved By the Bell books. They were heinous.

10. Do you type or write by hand?

Usually, I type. I feel like I write better quality when typing. Sometimes I'll hand write, like when the hubster hogs the laptop or when I'm out of the house with a notebook.

11. Do you save everything you write?

I save almost absolutely everything. I have a huge manilla folder bursting at the seams, filled with pages of poetry torn from journals, typed pages, looseleaf pages. It's probably my prized possession -- that thing I would run and grab if the house caught fire. I also have papers I wrote in high school and college. I am a saver.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

Yes. My current WIP actually began in 2002-2003 as a series of short stories.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

Probably this poem:

tainted words
and ink blots
stain my life,
rubber eraser scars.


14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?

I think that the jury is still out on this one.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

No, not really. I guess the beginning of my WIP could read like an angsty teen drama, but I hope that it does not read that way.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Small town Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Just the one -- the Laurel one. I have considered working on essays or short stories for submission, but I don't want to distract myself from my ultimate goal, at least not until I have a complete first draft.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

I haven't won any awards yet, just the lovely prize of publication in a college literary mag. Twice. I've never really entered any writing contests, though.

19. What are your five favorite words?

How I am supposed to narrow it down to five? Hmm, five nice words... All in love is fair.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Laurel Lancaster.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?

Currently, some are versions of real life people I know. Actually, I guess they all are versions of people I've met, maybe several people even, all rolled up into one.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Not especially, not yet. I've had a few dreams I could use, though, and I have referenced "real" dreams in my ms, but the story isn't based on it.

23. Do you favor happy endings?

I love happy-sad endings, like in The Bridges of Madison County and The Notebook. Someone might die, but the journey was so wonderful that it's not as sad... if they didn't have the incredible journey together then there would be nothing to be sad abount. So, it's meaningful. I guess that's the payoff. And, I like to cry. (No, I'm kidding.) In books, I am okay with sad endings because the story mattered. I kind of like ambiguous endings, too. I am definitely not a "and they rode off into the sunset" kind of gal.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

I am the grammar police. I'm packin' guns, flashin' my badge, and taking names.

25. Does music help you write?

No, music doesn't help me write. I need silence.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head

The last couple of lines of a poem...

and above me there are clouds
spelling out that He's alive.
With a sigh I rise from prostrate,
hey, look, so am I.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

TMI Thursday: in which I embarrass my sister

I would really hate it if my sister felt a little left out because I sang the praises of her husband in yesterday's post.

TMI ThursdayI mean, I would seriously feel really bad about that.

And, since she seemed to so enjoy my TMI Thursday last week, I thought, what better way to reward her interest in her older sister than by featuring her in this week's edition?

This one's for you, sis.

To know my sister is to know a walking contradiction. As a child, she was loud. I mean, we are talking about a voice that carried and projected in a way that would make a stage actor jealous. This voice, coupled with a serious lack of tact, meant that we knew better than to tell her anything secret, for fear that she would leak the information, and loudly, at the most inopportune of times. However, she could also be extremely and completely quiet; as a toddler, she once stayed silently hidden behind my grandmother's couch for I don't know how long, while the whole family searched high and low for her.

As a kid, she was a tomboy, particpating in every sport and sweating boy-amounts while riding bikes around the neighborhood and fearlessly climbing trees. During our first year at week-long summer camp, she didn't change her clothes once. When we arrived home on Friday afternoon, my mother opened her suitcase to find piles of t-shirts and shorts still folded, untouched. Looking back, I sort of blame myself for being too preoccupied with boys to have noticed my sister's lack of wardrobe changes. However, somewhere around the time she got her driver's license, this all changed. Today, she has fashion sense, owns (and uses) a hair straightener, could teach me a few make-up tricks, and always smells nice.

Ahh. My sibling.


The Highchair Incident
We were young; she was young enough to sit in the cheap metal high chair at the restaurant - maybe it was a Jerry's, or a Po'folks or something. I don't remember. My grandfather was there, and apparently started having chest pains (again) around this time.

Here's why.

Apparently, my brillant little sister chose to sit on her knees in the high chair, and apparently her little legs began to inch further back until they went through the opening - you know, that little empty space between where you rest your back and your bum. So, there she was, literally hanging out of the back of the high chair, stuck, as the space was big enough for most of her body to fit through, but, not (thankfully) her entire noggin'. She was making a face (that she does a great impression of today!) which said, "Help me! I'm choking!"

Now, this wouldn't have been such an ordeal, except that we soon found that she was, in fact, wedged in this spot, like a boy with his head through the banister of some stairs. Tug as they might, no one could pull her out of this death-trappy hunk of metal. (It wasn't wooden, like the one in the picture. It probably did have a little safety strap, though - which clearly should have been put to use, in hindsight.)

So, we were quite the commotion for the crowd in the restaurant. Waitresses gathered around. I started crying, fearing the worst. One nice waitress picked me up and gave me a sucker. That was better. My mom held her up a little so that she wouldn't just be dangling, and so she could breathe. Finally, a manager came out with a screwdriver, and took the chair apart. My baby sister was free. at. last.

The Rubberband Incident


Once happy night, we were all laying in bed: my mom, my sister, and me. We were just relaxing in our pajamas, watching a little before-bedtime t.v.

Out of the blue, my sister announces, matter-of-factly, "I stuck a rubber band up my nose."

My mom replies, "What do you mean, you stuck a rubber band up your nose?"

Lights were flipped on, flashlights were procured and shined up into her nostrils, but it was to no avail. There was nothing up there. I'm sure there was some back and forth conversation about whether or not she had acutally stuck a rubber band up her nose.

But, to be on the safe side, we were emergency room bound. My sister was prodded with little instruments and I, once again, cried my curly-haired head off while I feared for my sister. However, the doctor's were befuddled and found nothing. I don't remember, exactly, whether or not x-rays were involved, but we were sent home, and probably tossed and turned a little in our sleep.

Maybe it was the next day or perhaps it was a couple of days later, when my sister used the potty, and a little, tiny, barbie-hair-holder type of rubber band came out with her poop.



Ohhh, and once she kicked our baby-sitter.













I love you, sis!

Don't forget to check out the mothership that is Lilu's blog, as her TMI Thursday post-secret edition is the highlight of my day-before-Friday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

this guy is cooler than YOUR sister's husband

How awesome is my brother-in-law?

In response to my post about feeling "overexposed" on Thanksgiving, he left this gem for me:


Amber's Bro-in-Law said...



Let me first start off by saying that I do enjoy reading Amber's blogs, but not with the intent that most family members have. You see, Amber and I... We just get each other; maybe it's that we both understand living with her sister (my wife), or something else, but we get along well.


I think that she is a brilliant writer who speaks from the heart no matter what the topic is. I also really enjoy the strikeouts!


So whether she is writing for personal reasons, emotional reasons, or because she sees it as a place to vent, that is not for me to judge... No permanent lurkers here... I prefer the term - follower :)


To Amber: Feel free to write away, because whether this is a secret or not, I'll read with a zipped lip and will always look forward to TMI Thursdays :)


By the way... if you need help with your gutters, you have my number :)


December 2, 2009 3:14 PM


Clearly, he deserved a shout out for that. Also, if you are in need of a videographer, please visit his website, http://www.somethingblueweddingvideos.com/, where you can see photos and video of me, which I know I have mentioned before. But I do not apologize, because I never grow tired of watching the highlights of my rooftop wedding, and I don't think you would tire of it either.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

la vie poeme redux

Back in October, I blogged the news that a few poems I penned were accepted for submission to the University of Louisville's literary magazine, The White Squirrel.

Recently, I received word that two of my entries for this year were selected as well. To my knowledge, there will not be an electronic version this time around. However, the print copies are available today.

(I'm grinning just a little.)

Here they are, for your edification:


hope

smeared ink, the pages are crying,
and i know what you are
trying to say.
arranged, the letters spell out the
simple truth: all lies.
lavish language flows like a
river of tears,
and in far corners of my weary mind
i see your form,
huddled over an ink stained book,
salty water escaping from your silent eyes.




the artists

we stir it up and
then it
mixes, it
hardens, it
gels.
sidewalk/ cement/
very definite in shape:
sized.
and then they
pick at it.
they
chizzle away,
before we can get our hands on
the paint thinner/
the white out/ the
sledgehammer
that would censor
our concrete selves.