Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Princessed Out

I'm sure you're all familiar with these ladies - the Disney Princesses? Welcome to my life. It's like seven, gorgeous, effortlessly thin, constantly singing super-models who don't like to change their clothes have moved in to my house and aren't leaving any time soon. I have seven new room-mates: Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Belle, Ariel, Tiana and Rapunzel. Unfortunately Cinderella and Snow White have long since left their scullery maid days behind and are totally useless when it comes to housework. Belle reads all the time. Aurora sleeps, naturally, and Ariel hangs out in our bathtub. Tiana, at least, is a great cook except she only seems to make plastic food and unfortunately our Tiana is an amputee, having sustained a mysterious injury that left her with only one leg, so I have to cut her some slack. She does drive her own car though, which is purple and green, so you have to give her credit.

But seriously, princesses have taken over. My daughter is obsessed. I have one of those little girls who goes around wearing nothing but princess dresses, tiaras and waving magic wands and I've decided not to stop her because as a child I was the exact same way. Worse probably and I was highly imaginative and these tales and the films based on them, I believe, helped spark my ultimate love of stories.

But as an adult I view the princesses a little differently. The Disney versions, while very pretty, send some bad messages that the original fairy tales don't. As a kid, long before Ariel existed, my favorite story was the Little Mermaid. As a child who'd been through some rough stuff, the themes of loss, personal sacrifice, disappointment and a love unrecognized resonated very deeply with me on a level that as a child I couldn't articulate, but which I understand very well now. The Little Mermaid story helped me identify and work through my emotions, but Disney came along and completely sanitized the whole story and removed all the unpleasant parts and whipped up a new, happy ending, when the original story has a sad ending and you know what? Sometimes kids need sad endings to help them understand that life doesn't always end with a wedding and a big Broadway style finale.

The original Cinderella and Snow White were tales about girls who were abused, kids who got knocked around by life, kids who'd lost their moms and had awful unfair stuff happen to them, but who didn't let those things make them mean and bitter and in the end, they were rewarded for their kindness. Those stories made me, as a child in very similar circumstances, want to be a better person. They gave me hope when times were tough that if I could be strong and stick it out that I'd be able to have a happily ever after too. I still feel that way.

But the new versions of the princesses focus so much on appearance and materialism. It really disappoints me. Disney, as much as I love you, especially your music, you really kind of suck sometimes, although Tiana and Merida have somewhat redeemed you. Somewhat. I'm pretty big on Tiana because she works hard and her goal is to own her own restaurant, which I think is pretty ass kicking.

I like warrior princesses instead.

I grew up reading Anne McCaffrey. I watched Star Wars. There was no greater princess in the galaxy than Princess Leia, who started an entire revolution against her own father and lost not just her family, but her whole freaking planet and still remained strong. That's a hell of a role model there.

I like princesses who take up arms to save their kingdoms and princesses who aren't concerned solely with getting married. I want my daughter to be as princessy as she wants but to learn to be a warrior too.

Maybe in life I haven't been enough of a warrior myself. Maybe I too bought into the notion that a handsome prince would come and save me and that everything would be perfect happily ever after. Maybe I believed marriage was the be all and end all.

I grew up seeing my dad do everything for my mom and my grandfather do everything for my grandmother. My grandmother, to this day, cannot balance a checkbook, pay her own bills or even put gas in her car because my grandfather did all that for her.

My mom is much better. She manages a little more, but lately I've noticed that I'm not doing my best either. I let my husband do all the things that I consider "hard" or "what men do" and I don't want my daughter to view me as weak or dependent. I want her to grow up seeing me as a confident role model, not someone who can't pick up a tool, fix the wireless or take out the trash or figure out what to do about the car making a funny noise.

I'm working on this. I really am and I'm starting small.

I'm conquering the grill.

Recently I've had a craving for grilled food. We haven't grilled anything on our grill in over a year. My husband is the grill master and whenever I wanted something grilled I'd ask him, but his schedule doesn't always allow him to be home in time for dinner, plus he is often exhausted and doesn't want to go slave over a hot grill so I can have some fish when he gets home from work.

So why can't I just learn to use the grill myself? Silly, isn't it? But I'm petrified of the stupid grill. It's big and scary and intimidating sitting out on the back patio. I don't know how to turn it on or get the gas tank hooked up to it. Everything about the grill completely freaks me out.

Yet I imagine all the yummy things I could make on it if I could conquer my fear and learn how to use the damned thing, and so my current goal is to go get a new propane tank, learn to hook it up, learn to turn on the grill and because a grill master myself.

Snow White could totally grill some veggies out there, right? 

To meet my (self-determined) sales goal this month I really need to sell just 9 more books! Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat is a great, quick, fun read and for Halloween, there's even a scary scene! Would you please help me out by sharing my link and telling all your friends that they absolutely HAVE to read this book? Or else Zombies will bite them? And of course, if you haven't bought it yourself, what are you waiting for?? You'll love it!
Monday, October 28, 2013

Bake Sale

This weekend, my worst character flaw took over. I can't say no. I had said no a month ago when asked to chair the bake sale at Little Lawns' school because it was the day after her birthday and because my in-laws were in town. It would be too much to handle all at once. After a kid's birthday party, I need a week's vacation. That shit is exhausting. Instead, I found myself in a frenzy of flour and sugar and Pam cooking spray.

No one volunteered except the mother of my favorite child in Little Lawns' class. She also happens to be my favorite mom (not that I don't like them all, but I know this mom better and well, she gives me soup all the time and who doesn't love someone who gives them soup all the time?). I couldn't let the school down. I couldn't leave my poor friend hanging all by herself out there after church on Sunday trying to sell a meager pan of peanut butter cookies! I had to come through. And so, this is how I ended up on a mission to SAVE THE BAKE SALE!!

In the midst of preparing for my daughter's third birthday party, I somehow managed to bake a pan of gingerbread, a pan of truffle brownies and a pan of chocolate chip blondie bars, which are my current obsession. You're welcome in advance for that recipe, by the way. Oh, and also pumpkin chocolate chip squares because it was Halloween and because they are insanely good. After all this and all the party prep at the same time, I came to think of myself as super-human. I'm pretty sure I am.

After surviving the birthday party, I got up early Sunday morning and went to SAVE THE BAKE SALE. I was like a soldier on a mission and when I arrived, my heart warmed to see that so many people had come through for us. We had plenty of baked goods to sell. People had made cupcakes, spice cakes, Halloween themed candy, brownies, cookies, rice krispy treats, you name it. We had two tables loaded with delights - all homemade. I almost cried.

Little Lawns goes to a church preschool and this bake sale was to raise money for playground repairs for the children. We set the bake sale up outside the church so that when people came in and out of the three morning services they would pass our table. There was a big sign that said treats were by donation. That made it a lot easier than having to price everything and make change.

Most people are decent and reasonable and would overpay.  Our goal was to make $150.00 and the church-goers were kind and generous in supporting our cause. It was a lot of fun. Readers, I have found my true calling in life and it is bake sales.

My friend and I had so much fun that we started planning a big Christmas bake sale blow-out extravaganza. I'm pretty sure that by the end of the conversation about it we'd decided to set off fireworks and sell elephant rides. We are seriously enthusiastic bake sale moms.

And you know, the bake sale made me happy. I love volunteering. I love being out doing things around people. I love being in close proximity to cake. I love that I could stand there and drink free, weak, church coffee all morning with friends who love this stuff as much as I do. I love that I can do things to help my daughter's school. I'm really grateful.

But then, the crazy folk showed up. Don't they always?

First, from God knows where, a woman in a prairie skirt and about 20 necklaces and a sack of quartz crystals appeared and she was your requisite 50-something, old hippie nutcase who will not leave and will not shut up. And she decided to stand in front of our table and holler at the top of her lungs in an attempt to draw in the customers, when in fact she was scaring them away. Then she decided to talk to everyone who passed and I swear she switched topic every half a second and we could not get rid of this woman. It was awful and I have PMS and was tired so it's a miracle I didn't drop kick this woman clean to the Atlantic Ocean.

But that's not all.

I learned a long time ago that in every large group of people that you can expect at least one total fucking asshole. Even at church. Even at a bake sale. It's probability. 

So this nasty old bitch comes up and everything about her was pinched and she looked like a villain out of a Roald Dahl book. She was very Aunt Spiker. The chip on this woman's shoulder must have weighed 75 pounds.

Aunt Spiker proceeded to take a paper plate and load it. I mean LOAD that shit up. She had a tower of baked goods on her plate. Which is fine if you give an appropriate amount in return, which everyone else did. Shoot, take as much as you want as long as you give to help out our kids, you know?

This woman's nerve was like nothing I have ever seen. She took her heavily laden plate, filled with items that people had lovingly baked and donated and then looked at us like we were trying to rob her blind and said:

"My donation is that I sing in the choir."

I shit you not. She actually said that. Stunned, it took us a second to recover.

"Singing in the choir doesn't help our children at the preschool," I said, "We're raising money to repair the playground, not for the church."

She looked at us and gave an arrogant shrug.

"You're not singing in the choir for the kids," my friend said.

The woman literally sniffed at us in disdain and walked away with her plate of what I consider to be stolen baked goods.

I shook with rage. Can you imagine?? And since when is singing in the choir any kind of donation? What kind of Christian behavior is that? Singing in the church choir is a choice and a privilege and something to be done in the spirit of joy and praise, not like you're making some hideous personal sacrifice and putting yourself out SOO much so that you feel entitled to take things that don't belong to you!

Just wait 'til December, lady. It's on. Next time I'm ready for you.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The World's Strongest Librarian

Last night I finished reading Josh Hanagarne's memoir
The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family. LOVED it.

I'd been in a slight reading rut again, having been disappointed by a few recent attempts at fiction reading and not finding any particularly redeeming memoirs. I read one memoir that was totally depressing so I decided not to review that one on here and then, needing something a bit more positive, I happened upon this one - the story of a man with a severe case of Tourette's who is also a devout Mormon, a husband, a dad, an extreme body builder (by my standards anyway) and a librarian at the Salt Lake City main library. Oh yeah, and he's a blogger and a writer. The least you can say about Josh Hanagarne is that he's well rounded.

Now here's why I liked this book so much. It was uplifting and you know, once in a while it's really nice to read a memoir about a bunch of nice people doing the right things instead of a dysfunctional pack of assholes, which is what most memoirs involve, including mine. Hanagarne is consistently funny and although he is very Mormon, he has a sense of humor about it and can throw in a few cuss words, so I appreciate that, plus you recall, I love those Mormons. I swear, if the theology wasn't so wackadoodle (sorry Mormons) I could definitely get with their program. I like their way of life, just not necessarily the beliefs behind it, but I can respect the faith of others and I like how Hanagarne describes his relationship with his religion and how he is unapologetic about what he believes. Although he is pretty darned devout, he doesn't jam it down a reader's throat and he doesn't come off as some nutcase religious fanatic at all. He seems like a cool guy and a really nice person who occasionally whoops and smacks himself in the face.

And that is the issue at the center of this memoir. Hanagarne has Tourette's and a very bad case of it and throughout the course of the book he learns to accept it, deal with it, control it and not let it define his entire life. I love that. I love the message that a condition or a disability shouldn't stop you from living a complete life and seeking the things you love. Reading this book put me in a better mood each night before bed and it made me happy. Read it.

If you're interested in checking out his blog, here it is. I'm about to head on over there and argue the merits of the book Night Film, which I decided against reviewing for various reasons that I'm going to tell him about, since his latest post is a review of it.
Friday, October 18, 2013

Things I Wish I Could Say to the Other Woman

*The following piece was inspired by several recent articles that I've read by women who have proudly had affairs with married men. Although I am lucky enough to have a faithful husband, I've been cheated on in the past (wrote a whole book about it) and infidelity has touched the lives of several women very dear to me. I wrote this to give those women, the ones who did nothing wrong, a voice.*

I’m not slut-shaming you. We women should revel in our sexuality. We should love sex and live passionately, sensually. We should celebrate our bodies and all the miraculous things they can do and feel and we should be proud, but what you did isn’t a celebration of your sexual freedom and it’s nothing to be proud of. You aren’t liberated. You are degraded. I say this not of the wild abandon with which you enjoyed my husband, doing all the things I’m sure he told you I refused to, but because of the selfishness with which you did them. 

I know that you suffer. If you were healthy and happy, you wouldn’t pursue relationships with unavailable men. This comes from a place of pain. I have compassion for that sorrow and I know your emptiness and longing. How do you think I felt when he wasn’t home and when I knew he was lying to me about where he was going?

Look, sleeping with a married man isn’t going to fix you. Your time with him, his compliments, those things are a temporary balm to make you forget how badly you feel about yourself. You think you are special because he chose you over me and over his family, and this gives you proof for a little while that you are lovable and worthy, but what about when he leaves and you’re waiting for him to call or text you again? How do you feel then waiting for your next fix?

What you’re feeling with him is an illusion. It’s a trick. It’s a high. His affections are a drug and you’re a junkie mainlining male attention. Lust is a powerful liar. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun while it lasts. Trust me, I know. I remember how it felt when I first met him too.

Real love though? That’s a whole different story. It’s not based on deceit. It can’t be because love can’t thrive where negativity festers so a relationship built on lies and hiding can never blossom. When you act like that, you’re living in darkness. Love needs light. Love is honest, it’s vulnerable, it’s out in the open.

Building a life with someone over time, overcoming hardship, reaching goals together – that’s what real love is. You just can’t come in and steal what you think is my ready-made perfect life. It doesn’t work that way. You have to build your own and put in all the same hard work and effort that I did.

You think you want my life? You say you want what I have? Oh really? You want a man who cheats? Because that’s what you’d be getting.

But you’re special, you think. He wouldn’t do that to you. Possibly, but unlikely and even so, what you’d be getting with him is a man who lacks character. I’m sure you like to imagine that you are so irresistible that he was powerless to keep his hands off of you and that your charms, your beauty, your wit or whatever is what led him astray. No. He led himself astray. This had nothing to do with your otherworldly sexiness. It happened because he has no integrity, no self-control, no regard for the consequences of his actions and it happened because he is selfish. We, yes, both of us, deserve better than that. 

You might say, “If it wasn’t me, he would’ve done it with someone else,” and you know, you’re right, but that doesn’t excuse you from your actions and your choices. You are better than that. We women need to stand up for our sisters and when he hits on you, don’t give in. Refuse and say “I’m not going to do that to another woman.” What if we all did that? If we all had the courage and the strength to say no and to wait for the kind of man who’d truly respect us and love us faithfully, like, really love us? It would be so hard to do. I understand that because it feels so good in that moment when he wants you, but the high is fleeting and then you’ll inevitably crash. Doing the right thing is always more difficult and so is delaying the immediate rush of gratification that comes with your clandestine encounters, but I swear to you, it’s worth it, and once you do it, you will understand what real, lasting empowerment truly is. And that’s a million times better than some guy telling you how hot you make him.

Crying about how much you love him doesn’t mean you really did. You didn’t really love him. True love means wanting the other person to live their greatest life and to fulfill their greatest potential whether or not you get to be with them. If you loved him, you wouldn’t want him to live a life of lies. You’d want him to be healthy and your dysfunctional relationship is anything but.

Maybe you didn’t think of this and maybe you didn’t want to, but the times you were with him were times stolen from his family. The money he spent on you was money robbed from his children. Men don’t just cheat on their wives. They betray their entire families. So once again, when you say you love him, if you really did, you’d love his children as if they were your own. So why then would you want to hurt them?

I bet he told you he was unhappy with me. Perhaps he listed all my faults and transgressions, made himself a martyr saying he couldn’t leave me because of the children or because of finances. First of all, all cheaters say that. Don’t fall for it. And second? There are two sides to every story. How about you live with him as long as I have and then maybe you’ll understand why I’m such a bitch. In fact, I bet you have a lot more in common with me than you do with him.

What you did is like a disease. It’s a sickness and your symptoms are contagious. The worthlessness, the blaming, the feelings of being unloved and ugly, the loneliness? You’ve passed it on to me now, but I know how to heal and I can help you, so that together, as women, we can rise above this. The cure is standing tall, succeeding, ripping back those curtains of pain and negativity and letting the light flood in to our lives. It’s living with confidence and integrity, making choices for ourselves that are in the best interest of others too. It’s doing the right thing when faced with temptation.

It’s everything that he isn’t.

If you enjoy my writing, please check out my book Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, available in paperback and kindle on Amazon, on Nook and iBooks or visit my facebook author page and give me a like!

Rejection Week!

So I'm two for two this week. I got two acceptance letters and two rejection letters on pieces I'm trying to have published. One of the rejected pieces has been rejected several times so I'm throwing in the towel and the other one I think is just way too controversial.

That means you all get them here and now. I'm declaring this the Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds Official Rejection Week and I'm posting the pieces here for you all to enjoy for free. If you like them, please share them.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Elephant, AC and Your Dog's Last Lives

I'm pretty excited because this morning I have a little article up on elephantjournal.com called "Things Yoga Students Are Dying to Tell Their Teachers But Never Will." I am so excited about it that I can hardly stand it, and I hope you'll check it out and enjoy it.

Now in other news, I realized this week that I'm getting old and here's why. Sunday afternoon I stumbled over some junk in my closet and fell into a clothes rack in what seemed like a total non-event. I swear, it was the least dramatic, no big deal sort of incident and so I forgot about it. Until I woke up the next morning. And wow, the pain in my shoulder, a place I've never had pain before. It still hurts three days later. I swear, next thing you know I'm going to have to get a Life Alert and then I'll be breaking my hip.

I haven't gone to yoga all week either because my AC broke and yes, I know it's October, but I live in Florida and here, it's still a sticky 88 degrees, so be quiet about my first world problems. The AC repair man, for two days straight could only come during the time I usually go to yoga, but that's not the point of this story. The point is that I am an Air Conditioning Psychic. Yes. On Monday I sensed that the problem was the compressor, as if I have a freaking clue what a compressor even is, but somehow I just knew it was the compressor. Don't ask me how. Guess what? It was the compressor. The guy put in a new one. Worked a few hours and yesterday the AC went out again. This time my special powers sensed that the problem was electrical. Right again. We need a new breaker. I don't know what a breaker is. If you put a breaker and a compressor in front of my face I'd have no idea what either of them were, yet somehow, somehow I knew that was what was wrong with my AC. I think I hear the Twilight Zone theme playing.

Saturday, my friend from Atlanta came to visit and we had the most perfect beach day in maybe ever and as we sat on the beach eating papayas and mangoes freshly picked from my yard, while Little Lawns dug in the sand and had a grand old time with herself, we caught up and talked about all kinds of wonderful things. That's how I got the idea for my new career.

My friend is a far nicer person than I am in just about every single way and she told me the most touching story about how she rescued an elderly, deaf boxer from the pound because the dog didn't stand a chance. I was just about in tears from that part alone, but then she told me that every morning she massages the dog (she is a massage therapist and very much like Phoebe from Friends) and feeds the dog good food and makes sure that her last years are her best. I was weeping by this point. But the-en, my friend told me that she took the dog to a....pet psychic.

The pet psychic told her all about the dog's life before she was adopted and where she came from and how she felt and apparently my friend and the dog knew each other in a past life, although I was unclear on this part of the story because was the dog still a dog in its past life or a person or what? How does that work exactly? I was kind of under the impression that people only reincarnated as people and maybe that animals didn't reincarnate at all? So with dogs is it like people? You know how everyone thinks they were Cleopatra in a past life? Do all dogs think they were Lassie in their past life? And if you took a Lab through a past life regression would it be all like "I'm a brindle bulldog, I'm running beside a covered wagon. There are two little girls. Ma is frying salt pork. Pa is playing his fiddle." And suddenly you'd realize "OH MY GOD! My dog was Jack from the Laura Ingalls books!!" 

Anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent here. Back to that pet psychic thing. I totally need to give up this whole writing thing and be a pet psychic. What a simple and rewarding job, especially for a writer, since we have brilliant imaginations. I mean, seriously, you could say anything and it's not like the dog could argue with you and be like "Umm, no. Actually, I wasn't given as a gift to a blind child in her Christmas stocking. I was born to some rednecks in a trailer and then I escaped because I smelled some poop and I wanted to eat/roll in it and the dog catcher got me." Forget about cats. You could say anything about a cat and if you were wrong all they'd do is roll their eyes and walk away, which is what cats do anyway so no one would know the difference. You could say ANYTHING. And people would pay you!

Of course, as a pet psychic, I would only say extremely positive, uplifting things because that's what people want to hear and if someone's paying you good money to tell them a bunch of unprovable stuff to make them feel better about their pet's past lives, then you should give them their money's worth. Right? So it's not like I'd be unethical or anything.

So how do I become a pet psychic, I wonder? Is there like special pet psychic certification or licensing I need or can anyone just declare themselves a pet psychic and go on with their bad selves? Maybe I just need a pay pal account.

Hey, remember about ten years ago or so there used to be a Pet Psychic show on TV? Whatever happened to her? She was an older, British lady.

So, if anyone needs me to diagnose their malfunctioning air conditioners or to give their dog a past life regression, please let me know in the comments section and I'll do a reading for you. For a hundred bucks, of course.

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