The Divining Wand

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Guest Ann Wertz Garvin on Private Parts

November 23, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[In Best Writing Exercises, Part V, Ann Wertz Garvin (On Maggie’s Watch) explains: “I like to take a phrase that strikes me as interesting or funny–something I’ve seen on a bumper sticker or heard in conversation–and figure out what is funny about it and what it relates to.” In today’s guest post, the author does just that and more.]

Private Parts

My writer’s notebook in my satin evening bag sits untouched. I stand apart from the polished, pore less, people murmuring about soccer schedules and the Indian summer we’re having. I try to join in, talk about my dress-a vintage number I thought was amazing in the store. I drink coffee to stay alert. I scan clusters of people looking for my husband. Instead, I spot a woman. This is the woman that biologists envision when classifying higher life forms and the kind high school seniors rank for Prom queen candidates (which by the way is essentially the same system but the high-schoolers labels are meaner more memorable. No mnemonics needed). She is a queen bee. She’s the slender taper on the top of a grand piano. And, lovely though she is, the lacquer that covers the classified documents that make her real, leave me nothing to talk with her about.

Earlier in the day at gate 46 in Chicago International Airport I was filled with unasked, almost irresistible questions for conversation as I watched people fumble for their boarding passes and spill lattes on their white shirts. I wanted to know what the man with the crazy-ass western boots founds so fascinating in the proceedings of the International Conference on Zebra Fish. I was dying to ask, “What’s up?” to the six very reasonable-looking women seated together wearing matching Lobstas & Beeya’s t-shirts under their practical Eddie Bauer wind breakers. Six of them. Then there was the cuddling couple with the matching spiked purple hair. I wanted to know where they met, how long they’d been together and if their song was from this era or maybe an eighties favorite. Morning Train by Sheena Eastan, perhaps.

I’d actually moved closer to a mother/daughter pair so I could eavesdrop, hoping to engage the mother in a conversation about the book she was reading. The little girl was fidgeting and pulling at her flower legging’s

“Hon,” her mother said, “Is your pocket book bothering you?”

The daughter distracted by her pants, but eager to answer her mother correctly said, “My what?”

Her mother widened her eyes meaningfully, “Your pocket book. Remember our code word?”

The sunshine of memory streaked across the child’s face and she said, loudly, “Oh! My Vagina. No my Vagina doesn’t hurt it just doesn’t smell good.”

To her enormous credit her mother said with considerable dignity, “Good to know.” Breathing deeply she said, “Maybe next time we talk about our privates a little quieter.”

With the innocence of the ages and eyes as large as Oreo cookies (probably parroting an earlier conversation) she said “Why mama? There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I like private parts.”

When the mother asked me to watch their luggage as they hurried to the rest room, I was thrilled. I got to be part of their world and guard both a Hello Kitty back pack and a book totally devoted to the microcosm of E. Coli. I took out my writer’s notebook and recorded these nuts like a squirrel’s ransom.

I’m recalling this moment, while having my own bathroom moment at the beautiful Overture Center, where I am wondering how wearing terrifically uncomfortable shoes can possibly help cancer, when I hear,

“No fricken’ way.”

I move from my overstuffed lounge chair to find The Queen Bee standing at the sink staring in horror in the mirror. She has paper towels under each arm pit and one shoved in the bodice of her strapless gown. She is holding her wrists under running water and is wearily pressing her forehead to the cool tile wall.

“Can I help you, “I say both alarmed and I confess delighted. My God, I think, something to do!

“Two words,” she says. “Early menopause.”

“No way,” I say impressed by my eloquence. My chameleon like ability to say just the right thing at just the right time (inward eye roll).

“Way,” she says. “And in like three minutes I’m going to be cold, damp, and exhausted as a whore after her first trick of the night.

“Rock on,” I say. Again thinking, Jesus Christ, Ann. Get your head out of your ass. Recovering slightly I say, “What can I do?”

Just then she gives me a long look and says, “Nice dress.” Wiping the mascara from under her eyes she smiles, “You wanna get some drinks and just hang awhile? You can tell me why you’re hiding out in the bathroom.” Then she said, “I don’t understand a humanitarian event where you can’t see the humans for the spray tan.”

So we sat on the beige damask chairs. She told me why she hated her husband and how sick she was of shaving her legs. She asked me who did my eyebrows and what I did to keep things sexy in the bed room.

“You don’t have to answer that.” She said, “That’s exactly the kind of thing my husband shushes me for.” The tip of her nose turned red and she pressed a pretty finger to a weeping tear duct.

I touched her shoulder and said, “There’s nothing to be ashamed of, I like private parts.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of James King’s Bill Warrington’s Last Chance in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, James King and Bill Warrington’s Last Chance. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. Because of the shortened holiday week the deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.

The Revealing of Ann Wertz Garvin

November 17, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Ann Wertz Garvin made her debut only two weeks ago with On Maggie’s Watch, a novel described in this one sentence:

Unexpectedly compelling and sparkling with wit and intelligence, this debut novel chronicles one woman’s quest for control over her surroundings, and the secrets and surprises that lie hidden in an ordinary suburban landscape.

And bestowed with this praise:

“On Maggie’s Watch shows how we thrive, how we go on, in a life that’s neither perfect nor fair. Ann Wertz Garvin writes with humor and compassion so well; just when I’d feel about to cry the scene would twist and I’d laugh out loud. She has such deep understanding for her flawed and trying-to-get better characters; she obviously loves them, and so do we.”
—Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of On Maggie’s Watch for Monday, November 29, 2010 but, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Ann Wertz Garvin is a full professor at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, where she teaches courses on nutrition and stress management. This is her first novel.

Interesting background? Indeed. Yet Ann is so much more than that and it’s time to get to know her, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: That place between too little and too much

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Thank you for having me. I had a nice time.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: My life right now, with slightly better abs (ok-totally better abs)

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Disabling illness (losing my children is really number one but I can’t even think about that)

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: It’s not where you are it’s who your with, then you could be anywhere and be exactly in the right place.
….but Greece is nice too.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Erma Bombeck (I know there are better answers like Eleanor Roosevelt or Jane Austin but I’m going for something not completely self-aggrandizing)

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Nora Ephron

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: No offense (because it’s funny–if you say no offense you know offense is coming)-plus I swear too much.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’d like to be a triple threat on Broadway (sing, act, dance)

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Writing fiction, hands down.

Q : What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Impatience

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Sense of Humor

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Not realizing my value earlier in life.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I’d like to be a dog or a man for an hour. But only an hour and then I want a hot bath. (no offense)

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: My crazy, curly hair

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Nancy Drew

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Pepe LePew (he’s a lover not a fighter)

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Dara Torres

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Small talk

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Teaching

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Teaching and writing but in cooler clothes, a better memory, and kick ass shoes

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Kindness
Sense of Humor
Adaptability

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Cheese (I know, really? But, yeah…it’s cheese)

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
Build Me Up Buttercup-The foundations
You’re the First, the Last, My Everything – Barry White
Hard Candy – Counting Crows
Brown Eye’d Girl – Van Morrison

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Deep End of the Ocean – Jacquelyn Mitchard
The Short History of a Prince – Jane Hamilton
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital – Lorrie Moore
Olive Kitteridge-Elizabeth Strout

Delightful, charming, and totally unique, Ann Wertz Garvin is definitely a new author to follow on Twitter and become a friend on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Richard Doetsch’s The Thieves of Darkness in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Richard Doetsch and The Thieves of Darkness. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.