Sunday, January 30, 2011

Karaoke Dreams

I love American Idol this year. Steven Tyler is such a fun addition to the judges panel that I don't miss Simon telling people they should be singing on a cruise ship or a theme park or telling them their performance was bad karaoke.

Besides, if Simon told one of the kids in the top 12 they were doing bad karaoke, I might get delusions of grandeur. Cause, Baby, I can do some bad karaoke!

Don't believe me? Consider my friend, Pam's, assessment of my most recent performance.

"It wasn't awful, but I would be a true friend and stop you if you tried to go on American Idol. No, WAIT! I would totally let you go on American Idol, so you could meet Steven!!"

True friends are hard to come by. Thank you, Pam.

Karaoke is a newfound diversion. Last fall, my friends and I were invited by Linda's daughter and her friends to a karaoke bar to celebrate a birthday. I sang Eminem's "Lose Yourself" with former student, Chad, and I've been hooked ever since.

I have noticed some things and learned some lessons the hard way, so I thought I'd share some tips for karaoke success.

  • Unless you have real chops, don't choose a slow, serious song. If you can't wow 'em with your vocals, you're just gonna bring the room down. This mistake is compounded if your downer immediately follows a crowd-pleaser.

  • (Three seconds in, I knew my song choice was a mistake. Hence, the closed eyes.)

  • Find a partner. Even better? Find a partner who sings better than you. You get the rush of performing in front of a crowd while they do all the heavy lifting.

  • (Guess who's doing the heavy lifting?)

  • The later in the evening your performance, the more likely you are to please the crowd. Folks are more forgiving of bad vocals several drinks in.

    (No appropriate pic here. ;)

  • Choose something everybody knows. When the whole crowd is singing along, they are happy, and it just doesn't matter how off-key you are. "Sweet Caroline" and surprisingly, "Ice Ice Baby" are excellent choices.

  • (Or just look extremely cute while you're singing.)

  • Whatever you choose, sing it right. Someone in the crowd might take offense and snatch the mic right out of your hand. Case in point: Some poor schmuck was singing Seal's "Kiss from a Rose." Linda decided he was doing it wrong and pulled me onto the stage where we promptly commandeered the poor guy's song.

(My eyes are fixed on the screen, terrified of botching the lyrics after Linda ripped the mic out of someone's hand.)

The best advice?? Don't take yourself too seriously. Have fun, and the audience will have fun. Now, get out there and live your Karaoke Dreams!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moths to the Happy Light

Humans are much like moths. Clarification. Adolescent male humans are much like moths. And no...I'm not speaking in metaphors. Literally. Adolescent male humans are much like moths.

I finally plugged in my Happy Light, a Christmas gift intended to combat the winter blues. My classroom is a fluorescent box with no windows. The light quality is horrible, but I haven't spent much time in the room since Christmas break. Snow days piled on interminably, and on the random days school was in session, I was in the computer lab trying to finish a writing project we started before the break.

Today, I was in my classroom, and the Happy Light made its debut. I initially sat it on my desk which put it at eye level with every kid in the room.

My fourth hour class, comprised of 20 boys and 8 girls, was the first group to enjoy the Happy Light. They became happy as soon as they entered the room.

"Ooooooooooh! It's so bright!"

"What is it?"

They danced around it but didn't get too close. The tardy bell rang, and I had to herd the mob of 10 or so boys around my desk into seats. The Happy Light required immediate explanation. Nothing else was going to happen until they understood the new addition to our classroom.

I explained Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Some of the kids already knew about it, but the ones who didn't bought into it immediately. We even spent five minutes trading stories about how the perpetual gloom of January got us down. Yeah, they got it. They knew about SAD, but now we had our class Happy Light and all would be well.

See? This is why I love teaching freshman. In spite of their squirreliness and desperate attempts to prove they're grown up, they aren't jaded yet. They loved the Happy Light.

"Can I get a tan?"

"No. There are no UV rays being emitted."

"The sun'll blind you. Will I go blind if I stare into it?"

"Don't stare into it."

"Oh my god, Ms. Owens! I can't stop staring into it. I'm gonna go blind!"

And so it went. I finally got everyone settled down and working...for about a minute.


"I'm not moving! This is my seat."

"Just scoot to the side!"


"You're blocking my happy!"

I stood in front of the room and watched four kids maneuver so they were all receiving maximum Happy Light distribution.

Later, the same group of kids returned from lunch. I was standing in the hall trying manage the post-lunch chaos and didn't return to my room immediately. When I did, I found 15 of the 20 boys in the class crowded around my desk.

One kid had his eyeball pressed against the Happy Light, doing his best imitation of a horror movie victim. "AAAAAAGGGGGHHHH! I'm blind! I'm blind!"

Another kid was licking it. Actually licking it.

The rest of them were dancing around, encouraging the geniuses with body parts against the light.

"Get your tongue off my Happy Light!"

The class exploded in laughter, and the moths...I mean boys...scattered and fluttered back to their seats. All except for the one whose eyeball had been pressed against the light. He held his hand over his eye and staggered dramatically around the room.

One of the long suffering girls fixed him with a look of utter disdain, the kind of disdain that only a teenage girl can affect.

"You. Are. Stupid."

He ignored her and collapsed smugly into his seat, oblivious to the fact that he won't have a date before he graduates high school. He had entertained the room. He was happy. Really, teenage girl notwithstanding, most of the room was happy.

All hail the power of the light.

For safety's sake, I moved the Happy Light up high on a cabinet, so it shines down on us instead of hitting us at eye level. I briefly contemplated what would happen if I brought an actual bug zapper in the room and decided against it. Mass electrocution isn't conducive to learning.

Because adolescent male humans are much like moths.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


When William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for literature, he said there were only six things worth writing about: love, honor, pity, pride, compassion, and sacrifice. These are the pieces of the human spirit, and these pieces allow the human spirit to not only endure, but to prevail. (The whole speech is here. It's short, but wonderful.)

We find the Faulkner six, first within ourselves, and then in relationship with other people. Those six pieces define our relationships, first with ourselves, and then with everyone else. If our spirits are not only to endure, but to prevail, then those relationships with ourselves and with other people are everything.

Relationship is everything.


Every. Thing.

Most of us understand this on some level, but take it for granted until something big and overwhelming happens. I will carry the image of my family standing, sitting, and kneeling around my mother's death bed to my own. We held each other, and we held my mother in love, and her passing was easier because of relationship.

Sometimes clarity comes in the small, quiet moments. I was blessed with two such moments today. Early this morning, when school had been called off and no one was awake but me and young son, we sat and talked while he played with the dog. The snow outside and the cozy darkness inside lulled us into real conversation.

At lunch, I sat around a table with my two best friends, and we shared the pieces of our lives that matter.

Love, honor, pity, pride, compassion and sacrifice...they are the only things worth writing about because in the end, they are the only things.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Plotting, oh yes, I'm plotting...

Today was a good writing day. Interesting, because I started my day by going 10 rounds with my 16 year old. I was brooding as I opened my writing laptop, a glorified typewriter with no Internet connection. I avoid the Internet when I write because it's a distraction, and I really didn't need any more distractions today. Besides, I spent most of yesterday on buddhanet learning all about the Buddhist theory of Karma. (It's interesting. You should click through and read it.)

I opened my file and read some of the notes I had taken.

We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own heaven. We create our own hell. We are the architects of our fate.

Right. I decided to be the architect of my own fate and quit brooding. I put my issues with young son on the back burner and began outlining.

Yes, you read that right. This pantser is outlining.

Writers fall somewhere on the continuum of pantser and plotter. It's an easy inference. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants and plotters, well, plot...meticulously. I was a straight-up pantser on my first two novels. It worked beautifully on Sapphire Sins and not at all on Crimson Crimes.

Hindsight is 20/20, and as I look back, I realize that I did kinda sorta plot Sapphire Sins in my head. I knew what the characters wanted and who wanted to stop them. The result was a briefly agented first novel. I dived into Crimson Crimes with only the vaguest idea of what the characters wanted, and the result is a broken novel that might never see the light of day.

What have we learned from these two experiences? Plot more, dumbass!

So I'm developing characters, setting the rules for my paranormal world, and fixing the 5 points of my story arc. The five points are a road map. This is point A. I have to pass through B, C, and D before finally ending up at E. I followed this model almost unconsciously on Sapphire Sins.
  • Collision
  • Attempted Solution
  • Solution fails
  • Climax
  • Validation/Resolution

I have collision completely outlined. I know the beginning. I have yet to set the other four points, but I'm not turning the key and stepping on the gas without my GPS in place. I make mistakes, but I'd like to think I learn from them. Hello, habitual karma, sometimes I make the same one over and over. But not this time.

I experienced a moment of abject fear when I realized I couldn't write this book in my safe, comfortable 3rd person, limited POV. To do it right, I have to let my male protagonist tell part of the story. EEK! Switching points of view is a skill. Head hopping is one of the hallmarks of bad writing. When a writer jumps between characters' heads without appropriate transitions, she leaves her reader dazed and confused. I'm going to send the first chapter to my beta reader before I write the second and have her read solely for POV issues. I'm excited about the challenge because I'm excited about my story.

The best part of today, the part that has me over the moon, is the backstory I wrote. I needed to know the genesis of my paranormal world before I could plot past collision. To know what happens next, I had to know what happened before.

For the first time in AGES, I rode that high that comes when the words are flowing and I'm creating something out of nothing. I was so giddy, I actually read what I wrote to Bruce. I NEVER do that. I hold my writing close until it's edited and polished and ready to face the world all shiny. He recognized the moment for what it was. When I finished, he repeated a description I had written and told me what it made him think of. It was exactly the imagery I was trying to create.

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

The 2,000 words I cranked out today may or may not find their way into the actual manuscript, but I needed the information. And I needed to remind myself I can write. And I needed to remind myself writing can be a glorious, heady experience.

The day will come when the shiny wears off this wonderful new relationship between me and my story. It's inevitable. There will be moments when I wonder what I ever saw in it, and I will have to power through because I have too much invested to quit. With my character map, my plot GPS, and my backstory as reference tools, I feel confident the two of us will make it through the long haul to resolution.

I'm chomping at the bit to start writing the beginning, but I'm exercising self-discipline and waiting until the other four plot points are fixed. I create my own heaven. I am the architect of my own fate.

At least where my story is concerned. The 16 year old? Oy vey...thank god I'm a pantser at heart because that kid refuses to adhere to my plot points.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Art, Influence, Sensuality, and Soul

Words! Mere Words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet, what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of the viol or lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?

Oscar Wilde celebrated the power of words in one breath even as he brushed it away in the next. In the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, he scoffs at the idea that books could influence anyone. “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” Regardless of what he believed, he wielded words like the sharp edge of a sword or like an artist, remaking the world in his image.

I first read this book when I was in high school. I know…a long time ago, but the book made an impression. We had a rousing debate in class. Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? It’s a debate that can make you crazy because it’s circular, like the chicken/egg question. There are good arguments on both sides, but neither can be proved. Of course Wilde said it is the spectator, and not life, that art really imitates.

He would.

I re-read the book after a conversation with my friend and beta reader, Amanda. My recent blog on Karma created the seed of a story that was pinging around in my head. I asked her if she could think of another story based on the idea I outlined (albeit vaguely) to her. She mentioned a movie, but the movie’s premise was different from what I had in my head. When I tried to articulate it on paper, I found myself writing in block letters, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.

No. I’m not rewriting the story, modernizing it, romanticizing it or any other equally bad idea. Oscar Wilde has done it already. However, I couldn’t quit thinking about it, and it became clear I wasn’t going to conceptualize my idea or get words on the page until I re-read it.


All I really remembered from high school was the whole art/life debate and Dorian staying young and hot while his picture got old and ugly. I forgot all about Harry and Basil which is to say I forgot the most interesting characters in the story.

Basil and Harry are the artists. Together they “create” Dorian, but they separate his body and his soul. Basil, the painter, is morality. His painting becomes Dorian’s soul, but Harry is the real artist. He molds and shapes Dorian in a way Basil can’t. Basil wants Dorian to be as good and pure as the painting initially reveals him to be. Harry wants to dominate Dorian…to remake Dorian’s spirit in his image. Harry indoctrinates Dorian to his Philosophy of Hedonism. “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses.”

Harry (Lord Henry Wotton) is the voice of the novel. His cynicism permeates the story. I hesitate to call him evil. He’s more amoral than immoral, but then, amoral can be scary as hell. He espouses hedonism, but doesn’t leave the trail of ruined lives in his wake that Dorian does. Harry grows old, but not hideous like Dorian. Of course, Dorian might be a reflection of his soul just as the painting is a reflection of Dorian’s.

Harry is smart and cynical and somehow damaged. Those qualities make him the most interesting character in the novel. He is certainly the most quotable. My Kindle app has a feature where you can highlight bits of text you find interesting. I highlighted the shit out of this book, and when I went back and re-read the highlighted quotes, they were all Harry’s. Here are some of my favorites.

On beauty and sensuality

  • It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But it is better to be good than to be ugly.

  • It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

  • But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face.

  • The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.

As a bonafide member of the he-man woman hater’s club.

  • My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.

  • Women love us for our defects. If we have enough of them, they will forgive us everything, even our intellects.

  • A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her.

  • A woman will flirt with anybody in the world as long as other people are looking on.

  • And in reference to the only woman in the book with a brain -- Her clever tongue gets on one’s nerves.

On romance and marriage

  • The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.

  • Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love; it is the faithless who know love's tragedies.

  • Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.

  • The people who love only once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect - simply a confession of failure.

  • The things one feels absolutely certain about are never true. That is the fatality of faith and the lesson of romance.

Oscar would roll over in his grave, and I’m proving Harry’s point about women loving men more for their faults, but I think he would make a great romantic hero given the right catalyst. He has a past that has molded him as surely as he molded Dorian. No one is born a cynic. It would be so much fun to see him eat his words. He is absolutely certain in his cynicism, and as he says, “The things one feels absolutely certain about are never true.”

I’m not planning a romanticized version of Wilde’s story. Harry was consistent in his cynical hedonism from beginning to end, so as much as I would like to change him, I’ll let him be.

I could care less about changing Dorian. He is flat and ultimately uninteresting because he suffers nothing. He leaves a trail of shattered lives in his wake, but never experiences his own external consequences. The only internal consequence is being forced to suffer the painting’s existence, the fear that it will be discovered. How many sins can you commit with impunity before you become boring? There has to be something at stake for us to care about a character.

Dorian does serve an important purpose, though. He is the work of art, and through him, Wilde both emphasizes and contradicts his statements about art. Dorian emphasizes the “all art is useless” philosophy. Harry notes that Dorian has never done anything or produced anything outside himself. Dorian also emphasizes the idea that art is sterile. He loves a woman only in the context of her art, when she is on stage as Juliet, Rosalind, or Imogen. The moment the woman becomes real and the art/artifice is gone, he loses interest.

Ironically, as Dorian emphasizes the sterility of art, he simultaneously contradicts it. He no longer loves Sybil because she is real. His callous words destroy her, and the painting changes for the first time.

The idea that “Art has no influence upon action” is convenient, but Dorian’s influence ripples across his sphere like something poisonous being thrown into a pond. The work of art experiences no consequences, but everyone it touches does.

I think Wilde enjoyed yanking his audience’s chain with his comments about art as surely as Harry enjoyed yanking Dorian's. He doesn’t care if it’s true or not or if we believe him or not. He just wants a reaction.

The real truth is in his story. The very soul of his protagonist resides in a painting. “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” Wilde paints a portrait of art as both inspiration and corruption.

Oscar Wilde is a cynic, and I am a romantic, and yet I am inspired. The Picture of Dorian Gray sparked my intellect and my imagination. Wilde’s story is not my story, but my story will be better because I read his.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Authority and Conviction

I've posted this video on my blog before, but I thought about it again today in a different context.

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

This man spoke with authority and with conviction.

And these are declarative sentences.
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

And this man was aggressively articulate.

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


What goes around comes back around. ~~ Justin Timberlake

For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. ~~ Galations 6:7

You get what you put in, and people get what they deserve. ~~ Kid Rock

He had it comin’. ~~Cell Block Tango, Chicago

John Lennon, the Bhagavad Gita, Boy George…I could quote versions of this idea ad infinitum. Although it is kinda fun to keep listing incarnations of the concept, I’ll illustrate it instead.

Last Friday night, Bruce and I stopped by our local Hibbett Sports store. I needed a new pair of athletic shoes. My shins and calves recently started hurting during Jazzercise, cluing me in that my shoes were dead. You only have 100 hours of workouts in any pair of athletic shoes. I had surpassed that mark and then some.

My shoes are Rykas, and I love them…or I did before my legs started hurting. I order them through Jazzercise and getting a new pair takes a while. After Friday night’s workout and pain shooting down my shins, I was unwilling to wait.

I tried on two pair of Nikes and a pair of Asics. My reaction to all three pair…meh. They were okay, but not as good as my Rykas when they were new. I refused to even try on the pair touted as “the best.” They were traffic-cone orange, yellow and gray. Call me superficial, but I don’t care if they made it possible to walk on water. I’m not wearing ugly shoes. The three pair I did try cost as much or more than the Rykas. The cheapest pair, $60.

The salesperson was also the store manager. He could tell I was less than thrilled, so he started asking questions. Based on my answers, he decided I might not need new shoes. Gel heel inserts or new insoles might do the trick. I left the store with the gel heel inserts after he told me I could bring them back if they didn’t work.

And holy cow! They did! Saturday morning’s workout was all it took. I felt like I was wearing a brand new pair of shoes. Instead of paying $60 for a pair of meh shoes, I paid $12 for a pair of inserts. I’m still ordering new Rykas, but the inserts will hold me over until they get here.

What do new shoes have to do with the price of tea in China? Two days later, when my eldest needed a new backpack for school, I went back to Hibbett’s. No shopping around…no off-brands…I walked in and paid for an insanely overpriced Under Armour model.

They had it comin’.

I don’t know if the sales guy’s helpfulness was part of Hibbett’s corporate culture or his own moral compass, but because he/they didn’t take advantage of me on the shoes, I was willing to pay their price on the book bag.

Shoes and a book bag are small in the grand scheme, but what if we felt like we were getting a fair shake on a bigger scale? Would we be more willing to pony up when we had to? What if our discourse was civil and respectful? Would we be more willing to listen and really hear each other?

Karma means “deed” or “act” and is one name for that idea of cause and effect, action and reaction. Every action has a consequence. Every positive word and deed lands somewhere. Affects somebody.

And so does every negative word and deed.

In spite of my snarky writing voice, I am an optimist at heart. I see good in people every day. I see a student lean over and help the new girl log on to the computer for the first time. I hear women of all shapes and sizes encouraging each other at Jazzercise. I see my colleagues staying after school and working with students when they aren’t getting paid.

Positive discourse is alive and well, and we all have a responsibility to see that it rings louder than the inevitable negativity.

Karma is a beautiful thing.

Karma is a bitch.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Words with Friends

I've recently had words with friends....

Okay, actually, I've been playing Words with Friends. I'm a bit addicted. (Can you be a bit addicted? Probably not...kind of like being a bit pregnant.)

If you don't know, Words with Friends is an app available for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch. It might be available on other platforms, but everyone I play has one of the aforementioned devices. It's basically an online Scrabble game. You and your opponent see the same board, and you take turns playing a word. As long as someone makes a move within 7 days, the game remains active and continues until all the letter tiles are gone. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.

I hate Scrabble. Always have. When I played it as a kid, I don't think I ever finished a game. Adding up the points got tiresome and always seemed to spark an argument. Debating whether or not the string of letters someone played was actually a word sparked even bigger arguments. Somebody would bump the board, the tiles would go everywhere, and we would just say the heck with it.

So when Pam asked me to download the app and play her, I hemmed and hawed and dragged my feet. I hate Scrabble. Besides, Pam was apparently really good at it. She listed a group of people she played regularly, and she regularly kicked their ass. And we all know how well I lose at anything. Yeah. No thanks.

Pam is nothing if not persistent. She continued to harass me, and I continued to smile and ignore her. Then, a couple of weeks ago, at my pre-holiday girls' dinner, Amanda mentioned being tired because she had stayed up late playing Words with Friends. Pam perked up, and while I watched in mild amusement, they traded usernames and set up a game with each other.

"You could play with Kathy, but she still hasn't downloaded it." The look that accompanied this comment was less than friendly.

Amanda's expression was incredulous. "Oh my gosh! You don't have Words with Friends?!?"

Before I could formulate a response, she snatched my phone off the table and started clicking buttons. She thrust the phone back in my face.

"Enter your iTunes password."

"I don't really...I'm not sure..."

"Enter your password!"

If Pam or Linda had snatched my phone and demanded I enter my password, I would have laughed and said something unrepeatable. Amanda is my rainbows and unicorns friend....never speaks a cross word...never raises her voice. I was so taken aback by her bossiness I entered my password. Within minutes, I had a username, and Amanda had created a game.

She used my phone to play the first word..."nut." Pam rolled her eyes.

"Nut? Good god! You're playing a 3-letter word?"

"I'm easing her into it."

And that pretty much sums up the difference in my games with Pam and Amanda. I've had a game going with both of them since that night. Amanda and I play words that are in our actual working vocabulary. We trade wins and losses pretty evenly. Often, it comes down to whoever plays the last letter because we are so evenly matched.

Pam, on the other hand, is a shark. I can't beat her. I suspected she was cheating when she played the word "aedile." I used the instant messaging function in the game to ask her "wtf is an aedile?" Her response looked suspiciously cut and pasted from her dictionary app, followed by the word "duh."

Duh? Okay. Fine. It was on. I used a scrabble solver website and played the word "azoted." I had no idea what the word meant, but it had a Z in it, and Z's are worth 10 points. Pam merely laughed and said she didn't know I was a chemist. She won that game by at least 50 points. Even cheating, I couldn't beat her. **

I quit cheating. It wasn't helping and it kinda sucked all the fun out of the game. Upon reflection, I've figured out why Pam is so good. She is a math teacher, and Scrabble is really a math game in disguise. While I'm creating interesting words, Pam is racking up points. She plays a 3-letter word worth 40 points while my 6-letter word is only 6 points. The day I beat her will be a glorious day indeed.

I recently started a game with my youngest son, and it's been more fun than I can say. His username is ridiculous, and I laugh every time I get the notification that it's my turn. Even the words he plays are funny. I'm winning, and after getting my ass handed to me by Pam, it's good to win, even against a kid. (Yes, I love to win even at the expense of my own kid. Don't judge me.) Plus, it's kind of awesome that my 16 year-old wants to play me in a word game.

Win or lose, the game is fun and even kind of relaxing. When I'm focused on making a word with six weird consonants and one vowel, I'm not thinking about the stress in my life. It's not really intrusive. I play while I'm watching TV or reading, even while I'm writing this blog. On the weekends, we play at night until one of us falls asleep.

I recommend Words with Friends. Communication makes any relationship stronger. :)

**For the record, when I spell-checked this blog entry, the blogger dictionary didn't recognize aedile or azoted. Figures.