I just read online that Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds broke up. This on the heels of Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter AND Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron. What is it with breakups just before holidays? I hear from Twitter that in college, this is called the “Turkey Dump,” but I have no idea what they call it in Hollywood. I just know that when I was getting dumped a lot (it used to be a common thing) it, too, always seemed to happen either right before the holidays or right before summer vacation. I guess the guys I was interested in either didn’t want to deal with getting me a present OR have a girlfriend when all the girls’ basketball/soccer/cheerleading camps were in Chapel Hill staying at the dorms during the summer months. (I know you think I’m kidding, but I am NOT. The minute those camps started, the guys we knew and loved were just GONE, leaving nothing but a cartoon-esque puff of dust behind them. Such is life in Chapel Hill.)

Being dumped and breaking up stinks. It stinks even more around the holidays, when everyone is so happy and festive and you stick out even more than normal when you’re, you know, bitter and angry. (Can you tell some of my dump wounds are still fresh?) Ditto for right before summer, when you then have all day to watch the guy who busted your heart wide open go out on the open market. Oh, sigh. Double sigh. And it’s bad enough when your’e just a regular person (say, a sixteen year old Southern girl with slightly crooked teeth and a penchant for getting dumped). But can you imagine if it was all totally public and all over Google News, with weird YA authors discussing it on their blogs? Oh, man. Not envying that a bit. I hope everyone involved in these breakups has plenty of chocolate and at copy of Center Stage. They won’t fix everything, but it’s a start.

Speaking of starting, I’m trying to get back into writing mode after really slacking off for a few months. And by slacking off, I don’t mean watching Center Stage and eating chocolate. I was actually editing my new book, writing some nonfiction essays to help promote it, that sort of thing. But I haven’t been actively WRITING a new book, really, and that always makes me feel really lazy. I can always tell, though, when it’s time to get back onto a regular writing schedule. The universe just starts sending me signs. The latest one was yesterday, when I picked up a Loving Family Outdoor Playset for my daughter at Wal-Mart. It came with a slide, a set of swings, some dogs, and three people: a dad, a mom, and a little girl. At least, I thought that’s what they were, until my babysitter pointed out that the woman did not have a wedding ring, while the man did. Also, she looks a LOT younger than him. Further research online told me it’s actually supposed to be dad, older sister and younger sister. But I was already off and running with my own scenario. Like: young single mom, her kid, and the older man she’s kind of dating who swears he’s separated and yet still wears his ring. They met, maybe, at the restaurant where she tends bar at night while her mom watches the little girl, and she won’t let him come to the house, but he shows up when they’re at the park with their dogs. OR the dad is widowed, still wears his ring, but dating this MUCH younger woman. The whole family thinks it’s really inappropriate because of the age difference but no one’s saying anything because at least he’s trying to move on. OR they are a couple that was married, and now split. They get together for the little girl, meeting at a mutually agreed upon park. The woman, younger, always felt smothered, and is happy they’re apart. But the man is heartbroken, still wearing his ring, and hoping she’ll change her mind. They spent awkward time at the park, pushing the little girl in the swing: she looks at her watch, he looks at her.

See? And that’s just from a playset. Oh, man. Clearly, my writing brain just needs exercise. It’s had enough couch time and is ready to RUN. But I know what will happen. The beginning will be just like this, fun and easy and new. But then, around page 50, it’ll start to get harder. Then harder still. But by then, I’m already in the habit. No turning back. Which is why I am TRYING to hold off until the new year. Maybe if I just stay out of the playroom?

Have a good night, everyone!