Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oh. My. God.

So I get an email from the lovely Cathy yesterday, telling me about the latest issue of my favorite quilting magazine, Quilter's Home. In addition to another AWESOME cover, the issue also contains an article about writing for quilting magazines, and at the end Mark gives his email address and encourages readers to submit ideas for articles. Cathy thought that perhaps I should give it a shot, and I figured it couldn't hurt. After trying to come up with pitches for Bitchy Stitcher-style articles that I thought might appeal to him, I finally decided to just go ahead and submit my mock tutorial for binding quilts. I sent it off around noon yesterday, and at 9:51 p.m. last night I received this reply:

Oh this is very cute. Let me read it more closely. I think we may have a winner! xooxm

Mark Lipinski
Editor in Chief
Mark Lipinski's Quilter's Home

If I manage to get published in THE GREATEST QUILTING MAGAZINE EVER only 9 months after I started quilting and writing about it, I will probably just fall right down and die from pure joy. It would also be the first thing I had ever published outside of work. (It doesn't really count when they publish you because you already work for them and they don't have to pay you extra for it.)

Of course, he clearly hasn't made a final decision yet, so there is still the very real possibility that the next email will say, "On second thought, this sucks ass." So I still have lots of hoping and praying and finger-crossing to do. And even if it doesn't work out (this time), I am still grateful to Cathy for kicking my butt into gear to submit something, and to all of you who read and comment here for giving me the confidence to keep writing.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quilt #6 in progress

If this keeps going this well, I won't have anything to complain about.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Totally forgot to mention that the aforementioned Quilting Weekend is not happening until the beginning of May, so you'll just have to wait to find out the secret of perfect triangles. I've been thinking about it, though, and I'm guessing it involves one of the following:

1. Sacrificing a chicken.
2. Cutting a pentagram out of fabric and then cutting that into triangles.
3. Going through a series of "audits" after which I am declared to be "clear" and the secret is revealed in a private ceremony by Tom Cruise, who tells me that Xenu died for my sins and I've lost that lovin' feelin'.
4. Putting my desire to sew perfect triangles out into the universe, where Oprah can receive it on her celestial plane and grant it to me on a very special episode.
5. Lots and lots of ab crunches.

I'll be sure to let you know!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quilting Weekend

I just finalized plans to meet my sister halfway between here and where she lives in Tennessee for a long weekend. We found a spot in a little town in Virginia that happens to have a quilting shop, and she has promised to reveal to me the secret of sewing triangles. She said - and I quote - "I have a way to do it that is so easy and it comes out perfect every time. You'll love it."

When she said that, I peed a little from excitement.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just when I needed reminding

My littlest daughter threw another one of her gargantuan tantrums yesterday, a shrieking, yowling, scream-fest that seemed to go on for hours, though it was actually only 15 or 20 minutes. It all revolved around a pacifier that she dropped on the floor and which she was perfectly capable of picking up herself. I was also taking care of my friend's 1-year-old, and I was not in a position to stop what I was doing with her and pick up the damn thing, no matter how much she tried to force me with the power of her screeching.

The episode was just the icing on the nasty cake of the last few days of pain and sickness, and I pretty much handed her over to her father for the rest of the evening, lest I begin bleeding from my ears and stain the new couch.

That evening, I put her to bed as usual, and as we rocked in the dark, I decided to talk to her about the day. Usually we rock in silence, settling down after a long day, but knowing that often the tantrums of young toddlers stem from the frustrations of not being able to communicate, I thought that we might try to have a quiet chat.

She loved it. I loved it, and in those few minutes we were able to forgive each other.

That same day, I received a shipment of all the pictures I had ever taken of her from the time she was born - at least all that I had access to. A tragic external hard drive accident had obliterated nearly all the pictures I had taken between April and December of 2007. When she was at her cutest. I had just never gotten around to getting prints of all the remaining pictures and had a sudden whim to do so over the weekend. All 753 of them.

Then it suddenly occurred to me that I had emailed the best of those missing pictures to my parents, and wondered if a copy was kept somewhere in the bowels of my email software. They were. In a few days, I will be able to pull down photo albums and show her how cute and sweet she was, and even when she makes me want to beat my own head with an iron skillet, I can look at these and remember that this is her true nature:

Monday, March 23, 2009

In which I once again tell you way more about the inner workings of my body than you ever cared to know

This has been a busy week here at Chez Bitchy. My new boss and her family got a chance to use her mother-in-law's time share in Hawaii for 10 days, so they flew out of the country last Wednesday, leaving the magazine in my oh-so-capable hands. Which basically means that anytime someone tries to email them, they get a response that says, "Sorry dudes - gettin' baked on Maui right now. If it's a major issue, email Megan." Like I know what to do. So I got people asking me where their money is, asking how much money they owe the magazine, asking what we will give them if they donate something for our monthly contest, asking if I want my penis enlarged. Stuff like that. Boss lady also left me with a bunch of articles to edit, with instructions such as, "This is completely wrong and not what I wanted at all. See what you can do." These were all written at, like, 2 a.m. the night before their flight left.

On Thursday, my youngest daughter turned back into the demon I have described here before, and it made for a very stressful day. I wasn't surprised when I went to bed with an upset stomach, considering all the anger and frustration I had managed to choke down into the pit of my belly all day.

Usually a night's sleep is enough to banish whatever mild ailment I go to bed with, but it was still there in the morning, slightly worse. But I kept going about my day: did my work, took a 30 minute walk, put the baby to bed for her nap in the afternoon. And something happened when she woke up and I went upstairs to get her. She wanted me to sit on the floor with her, and the act of sitting on a hard surface sent the most horrible shooting pains through my gut, and I suddenly realized I was getting a fever.

By the time I got up to go to the bedroom/office where my husband works when he works from home, my belly had swelled up and I was in severe pain. He agreed to stop work early and take care of the girls and I shut off all the lights, shed my clothes, and crawled into bed.

The next few hours were miserable. The pain in my belly ran across the top of my abdomen, down the left side, and across the lower part of my stomach. It was intense, stabbing, horrid pain. There was no position that gave any amount of comfort; in fact every position made one area feel a hundred times worse. Every time I moved I broke into a sweat and when I lay still I got the shivers.

I suppose a sane person would have gone to the emergency room at this point, but twice in my life - once when I was 14, and again when I was in my twenties - I went to the emergency room with what I thought was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life, surely a pain greater than any human had ever suffered in the history of the planet...only to be told that I had gas. Gas. Like I had eaten a big burrito or something and should have taken a Tums. So, belly pain does not send me to the ER anymore.

I wanted desperately to sleep but there was just no way, so I did the next best thing and caught up on Battlestar Galactica in preparation for the series finale (big letdown, waaaay too sentimental and pat and wrapped up for my taste). I finally crawled out of bed sometime in the night and took a dose of Nyquil which, thankfully, put me to sleep for about 6 hours.

When I awoke, I realized that the U-shaped pain in my gut had kind of coalesced into one spot - one spot of searing, stabbing pain which was also tender to the touch, like something inside was inflamed and very, very angry. And it was in the exact same spot where I had thought an ovarian cyst had blown open earlier this year.

The rest of the weekend was spent recuperating. The fever was gone by Saturday afternoon, but I was wracked with cramps for 2 days, and the spot on my left side continued to be tender and sore. I feel almost normal today - I can eat and drink without doubling over in pain - but the sore spot remains, gradually shrinking in size and severity, just as before.

So, needless to say, I haven't done a stitch of quilting this week. I will be seeing a gastroenterologist in a month (it was the soonest I could get an appointment with the best GI doc in town and I was lucky to get that) but I have a sneaking suspicion that she will probably just tell me I'm fat and gassy.

Since I have no pretty fabric or quilting pictures to offer today, I give you a picture of my youngest in her non-demon form, being adorable:

You're welcome.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

My bio

In this month's issue of the magazine I work for, I will be officially introduced to the readers in the "Publisher's Letter." They have asked me to write up what I would like to say about myself, and this is what I have composed:

At the start of the new year, we welcomed a new face to the team. Megan XXX joined us as assistant editor. A graduate of XXX College, Megan has made the XXX area her home for over 20 years, and now resides in XXX with her husband and two daughters. Megan says that working in publishing "fulfills my two greatest passions: writing and slashing through grammatical errors with a red pen." When she's not subduing dangling participles or wrangling two small children, she can usually be found at her sewing table, calling her sewing machine a "cock-sucking piece of shit" or ripping out seams while drinking heavily. She would like all potential freelancers who may submit work to the magazine to know that she is a kind and benevolent editor until crossed, and then she will secretly turn your articles into incantations which raise the dead and cause suppurating pustules. Besides writing, editing, sewing, her children, Dr. Pepper, cooking, freshwater aquariums, and the TV series Ghost Hunters, her greatest passion is her blog, which we will not name here because it is a filthy and ridiculous waste of time and nothing a respectable publication would want to be associated with. Megan says that she is "thrilled to be a part of the XXX team and I'm looking forward to a long and happy career here, as long as the people I work for continue to show no signs of being crazy whackjobs."

Can't wait to see it in print!

Monday, March 9, 2009

I think I'm going to like this one

And not just because the blocks are are turning out pretty much the same size.

As soon as I started piecing the rows, the weather turned warm and we had 3 solid days of 70-degree weather. I got spring fever so bad I went out and bought a used bike off of Craigslist for $20 and pretended that I actually had enough gumption to hit the bike trail that runs behind our neighborhood. I'm such a card.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Secret

The reason she didn't include the address was that the business requested that it be left out. While they are located in southern PA, their service area extends to Maryland, and they didn't want to scare off potential customers who might decide not to call if they saw a PA address.

THAT was what she refused to tell me.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

When writers suck, blogs suffer

I haven't been able to post this week because production on the April issue of the magazine I work for started in earnest. What that means is that my boss is sending me all the articles that have been turned in by the freelance writers for this issue, and I have to edit them for grammar and content. If an article is too long, I have to figure out how to shorten it. If it doesn't have enough information that we think is important, I fill it in. And, frequently, I end up rewriting something because what we get just sucks and it's too late to send it back to the author.

And the strange fact is that I like the bad pieces; I like fixing them and pulling out the bits that work and rearranging the parts, adding new content, and creating something better. When I get an email from my boss that says, "I don't know what she was thinking...", I know I've got a fixer-upper and I get all giddy.

Our articles always have what are called "sidebars," text that is related to the article, but is presented as a list or a chart. The author of the article is generally in charge of the sidebars, though they sometimes get lazy and give us ones that we have to reject. Last night I was going through a sidebar that was essentially a list of the names, addresses, phone numbers, and web addresses of local businesses that provide the service discussed in the article. One business had two phone numbers and no address, just the word "address" in parentheses. I had no way of knowing whether the author had left that parenthetical word with the intention of filling it in later and it was overlooked, or if my boss had done something before handing it off to me. But in any case, the listing needed an address, so I looked the business up online and found that it isn't local at all, and the phone numbers on the website did not match the local numbers the writer had included. So I emailed the writer to ask why the address had been omitted and why the local numbers for a business that is actually in another state.

Her response? "Leave it exactly the way I wrote it." We went back and forth a few times, with her continually insisting that I not change anything and refusing to explain why the address was missing, until I finally cut off the conversation, and she suddenly decided that I could learn the precious secret.

Just in case any of you out there are or have aspirations to be a freelance writer, let me offer you a few words of advice. When your editor asks you to clarify something, DO NOT REFUSE TO ANSWER AND DEMAND THAT YOUR PRECIOUS BABY BE PRINTED UNTOUCHED BY FILTHY EDITORIAL HANDS. Because if you do, it will not endear you to your editor. Your editor will in fact pledge to totally fuck with everything you write from then on. Your sentences will end up rearranged and rewritten so that the first letter of every word spells I SUCK AND HAVE NO TALENT AND NEED MY EDITOR TO DO MY THINKING FOR ME over and over and over.

So, you know. Keep that in mind.

In quilting news - I picked up a Moda jelly roll and a charm pack and set to work on another quilt from my jelly roll patterns book. I love it so far and it's making me feel all springy, even as we are getting 10 inches of snow dumped on us tonight: