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Goodbye LEON… Until Next Year. A Moment of Silence for 2013

IMG_1222 So this is my fam. Christmas morning tradition dictates that a giant selfie be taken while everyone is gathered. Ready or not.

My son is on the back row (next to me). He is very irreverent. Case in point: this time of year I have lovely large Pottery Barn letters leaning up against the wall of my entry that spell NOEL.

Homer junior, twink that he is, changes them to spell LEON. Sigh. But enough about twinks. I want to talk about January.

I’m not much of a goal-setter, but I do get jazzed about January. I like new things, fresh starts. Mostly I like when Christmas is over. I love Christmas, I do! I love the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, the parties, the music, the tree, the gifts, the noise, even the inevitable 5 pounds. I love it, love it, love it all. December is like a vacation for me, but it’s the kind that you come home from needing a vacation, if you know what I mean.

Now I’m a writer at the cellular level, so when I don’t write—and I don’t write much in December—I go through a little withdrawal, even at this, the jolliest time of the year. To temper the shakes, I have post-it notes everywhere—some with a single word meant to spark a scintillating thought that struck me in passing. I have notes-to-self on the backs of unpaid bills and a little scraps of paper filled with overheard conversations that are none of my business, but that might end up in a story nonetheless. I scribble on receipts ideas that come to me while I wait in long lines at the grocery store.(Of course that’s after I’ve feasted on the news-of-the-day shouting at me from the mag rack–What??? Another Kardashian with relationship issues–those poor gals can’t get a break!) I’ve even captured the essence of a few stellar characters while waiting to pay for my OJ and motor oil. (You don’t think it’s creepy to take secret pics of the unsuspecting who really should not be out in public, do you? Good. Me neither.)

So, in preparation for the big new beginning that is January, I will clear away the last remnants of this happy season and haul it all downstairs. I will call to have my carpets cleaned and my lights taken down. I will box up the stemware and good china. I will de-tinsel everything and then I will mop my floor.

Lastly I will put LEON in a box.

Then–drum-roll, please. First thing January 2, (well, right after the gym—please refer to the afore mentioned five pounds), armed with a folder stuffed with small pieces of paper that will undoubtedly trigger brilliance in me, I will hit the keyboard running.

Oh yeah, baby! Bring it on. She’s locked and loaded for 2014.

Weepers and Laughers Are My Endgame…but I wouldn’t mind a nap in the sand

fridgeSo summer has come to a screeching halt: Here’s what I did—the lake, the mountains, the park, the mall. Tomatoes. I also managed—with fingers bruised and bleeding—to complete a polished first draft of #2. I took a great social media class from Dan Blank (he’s a god) wegrowmedia.com. I was a guest on Bipolar Burble—a stellar blog run by Natasha Tracy natashatracy.com. I worked—I’m a nurse. I kept the hubs in clean underwear and did enough weeding that I’m rather sick of it. Throw in a bunch of kids with kids (and the attendant noise, drama and energy) and my life overflowed with grins and sighs. I like my place.

Which brings me to a recent cover of Time Magazine—nice segue eh? (It’s a gift)—Two lovely people lying on a beach—perfect bods, young, apparently successful. The bold caption reads The Childfree Life—When having it all means not having children. I hear ya Time Magazine: Kids are a thankless bunch, a monumental responsibility, whiny, difficult, expensive, demanding. And raising them to be good, kind, smart, contributory people who have compassion and integrity simply requires too much time and involvement. I am salivating over that beach! And the tedium. OMGosh! The homework. The teaching them to talk and then the listening to them. Constantly preaching what’s right and wrong. It’s utterly exhausting: the correcting, the disciplining, the never-ending character-building when all you really want to do is sit on the couch and Keep Up With the Kardashians. And don’t forget the endless monitoring of friends and cyber activity, texts and posts and 6 second vids. I’m with ya T-Mag, who in their right mind would choose this?

She sighs. I did. What was I thinking?

I guess I was thinking of my endgame. You really need one of those or none of it seems worth it in comparison to the high sheen of glamorized freedom. Here’s mine: When I die I want a room full of family to weep because they’ll miss me and laugh because they’ll remember me. That’s it: A room full of weepers and laughers is my endgame because I’m just that full of myself.

So because most everything I do is with that in mind, I will continue to make spaghetti and fill my house with noise that comes in all shapes and sizes. I will be mauled by little people. I will fill 25 glasses on Christmas Eve and blubber while the hubs toasts this ever-burgeoning family. Of course this means that my fridge is littered with kid art, but it also means I have 10 numbers on speed dial in case I fall and break a hip or the roof flies off my house. Now cheering little people at their football games and dance recitals can seem a silly choice given the more sophisticated alternatives, but only until that one kid in the midst of kid soup finds you and beams—then it feels a little like receiving a congressional medal—I like that. I know this is all terribly provincial in comparison to the sacks of joy one might experience childless—like I say, I hear ya TM—I dream of beaches and total self-absorption at least once a day. But it’s too late for me—I drank the Koolaid and had 4 kids. I blew a perfectly fine chance to grow old as a corporate exec and become obsolete because I’d dared to age then die with no stretch marks being vital to exactly no one. Now look at me; stuck here in my own well-crafted, posterity-filled, suburban utopia (or hell depending on your world view). To each his own, I say. And more power to the intentionally childless! But if you ever crave spaghetti with noise, you are more than welcome to drop by.

Ooops, gotta go—pun intended—somewhere in the distance a mini’s potty-watch has sounded and I have exactly 4 seconds before…

Wanted: A Crack Social Media Assistant Who Knows the Lingo—aka the nearest teenager.

360_saggy_pants_0926So my birthday was on July 4th. Yep, I limped into a year older with nary a whimper and it was a great day. I worked, went to a movie with the hubs, noshed at a downtown eatery, then ate ice cream while watching the fireworks from my deck. I have a killer view of the entire valley–yay me and my porch! But the one thing I wanted—read needed, read really, really needed—wrapped up in a big bow was a Social Media Assistant who is able to digitally broadcast everything I’m thinking—or planning to think—onto all key cyber landmarks at any time 24/7, capture all communications and respond with wit and sincerity (but never temerity) to all comments directed in my direction. Breathe.

I need this because the time earmarked for this element of my marketing strategy is chewing up my writing time. And my sleeping time. My gym time (cough) and of course my shoe-shopping time. I’ve also resorted to cutting my own hair—again–and now can only leave the house if it’s on fire (the house, not the hair). I know this need for SMA (Social Media Assistance, please try to keep up) comes as a shock since it’s only been 2 months since I last blogged and my loyal readers (thanks again Mom and Dad) know I’ll get to it eventually. But the truth is my FB page is buried in dust and I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter—mostly hate. Google + is stalking me. Linkers at LinkedIn are inviting me to, ya know, link in. I have good intentions about Pinterest but I’m far too easily side-tracked by all the crafty things you can do with a bobbi pin. I troll Goodreads but end up commenting on books I’ve read instead of engaging the nice readers who have graced DOBG with 5 stars. Same with Amazon. Tumbler? No comment. Reddit, StumbleUpon? Are you kidding? I’m desperate for an expert—preferably one with nothing to do. I’ll take an acne-chinned, attitudinal in sagging britches as long as he has blisters on his texting thumbs. Heck I’ll even feed him.

She sighs. Darn! I’ve burned through my allotted blogging time so I must now run. I have no choice but to head to the skate-park in search of the aforementioned candidate to organize my soon to be stellar cyber-life. Oh, and to buy a hat. LOL. (Sorry, I don’t even know what that means.)

Eavesdropping on Kidlets For Fun and Profit

IMG_0188Kids are a writer’s best friend, bar none and this is why: Two little girls headed to bed, one with a story book, the other a journal. ‘What are you doing?’ says the one with the story. ‘I’m going to write in my diarrhea.’ ‘What?’ the other who was a bit older and infinitely more experienced with the language laughed hysterically. ‘You don’t mean diarrhea — that’s squirty poo.’ The documenter of daily events rolled her eyes and said to her older sister:’The word has two meanings, hello.’

You can’t make that stuff up and for a writer scenes like this are little gifts from the page gods. Lucky for me when I find myself in need of a precocious little imp of a character I don’t have far to look for an accurate portrayal—I’m a mom with a stack of great examples. For instance, did you know Urethra Franklin sang RESPECT? I bet you didn’t know that the birthday party was at Stella’s mom’s condom? Or the reason a 3 y/o is in the bathroom for so long is because he’s complicated and needs some piracy.

Oh. My. Gosh. If I’d known how dang funny kids were I’d have had ten more and they’d all be 4! If you want true enlightenment into the mind of a child you must eavesdrop and take lots of notes.

“Mom do you mind! Me and dad are conversating!”
“Holy crap! Look what I found in my nose!”
“Ooooo I smell someone’s stinky feet! Never mind, they’re mine.”
Weeping and wailing over the punishment of the day: “Mawwwwm please! Have some compression!”
Tall black man knocks at the door, 3 y/o answers it. “Mom! A basketball guy wants to talk to you.”

I’ve got a ton of em, but I really must go build a tiny character with a bit of an attitude. She sighs. On my headstone I would like it to read: This author eavesdropped on little humanity and died laughing. Yes, that would be lovely!

Sephora and the Land of Fully Ripened Women

red hatsSo the hubs had to go to Vegas on business and I tagged along, laptop in tow–I’m a writer and, as such, I’m always on high alert for inspiration. One morning while Homer indulged some spoiled clients, I ventured down several floors and found myself in Sephora. Oh my! What to do? Alone with no apoplectic hubs aghast over the price of mascara, no eye-rolling at what pore-filler does, no watch-thumping, no deep sighs. Just exhilarating, unencumbered freedom. Now it’s important to know that I didn’t need a darn thing—I have a steamer trunk of beauty aids and a 5-year supply of my favorites—but it’s Sephora, so I had no choice but to shine up my plastic and commandeer a shopping cart foolishly left unattended on the sidewalk. (It did have a cat in it, but we got along fine.) If I purchased just the right recipe, I could walk out looking like a Tahitian sand goddess, or a porcelain-skinned kabuki dancer, or a goth inspired she-devil, or even Bruce Willis for that matter.

So there I was languidly roaming cosmetic utopia when in walked more than a dozen of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. Two were pushing two in wheelchairs. One dragged an oxygen tank, and one ambulated with the use of a bejeweled walker. Most were wearing some shade of purple. They all wore red hats. Shut the front door! I’d heard of the exclusive club, but this was my first sighting, and, with fascination akin to that of Yale’s Skull and Bones Society, I stood in appreciative awe. These were lovely and wizened women who didn’t give a damn. The little bouncerette—a tiny, lovely creature who stood at the entrance of the store, eyes trained for shoplifters and poised to pounce if she encountered one—said, “Welcome ladies. Are you celebrating?”

“Honey,” said one in a gravelly voice. “We celebrate getting up in the morning!”

They filled the space with such elegant synergy that I simply had to follow them. Now, I have excellent hearing (especially when I’m eavesdropping), so in my surreptitious nonchalance I caught several scintillating snippets of their conversations: the mysterious death of an ex-husband (ooooh), the criminal price of olive oil (I hear ya sister), and the heartbreak of a dying pooch (ouch). They talked books (DOBG, anyone?) and the best source for foundation garments (Nordstroms—I knew that). They lamented insomnia, Obamacare, and the downward spiral of American IDOL. As they gabbed, they slathered cover, blush, and eighty-dollar moisture into velvety wrinkles. They shakily applied gaudy color onto perpetually smiling lips and rubbed exotic lotions into hands undoubtedly responsible for countless small miracles.

In their wake, I planned my own octogenarian years (right around the corner), deciding then and there to outlive the hubs and surround myself with gals just like these. Fully ripened women take such good care of each other. Little old men, not so much. I pondered this, along with my excellent luck at being born female, while I waited in line behind them. Thirty minutes later, they had effectively tripled Sephora’s morning sales. Me? I bought a tube of Pink Fever lipstick (looked a tad silly in my shopping cart), and came up with a fabulous story about the dead ex. Well, hellooooo inspiration! What if the true super-secret-society purpose of this seemingly innocuous association of women who tallied more than a millennia between them was to plot the demise of unsuspecting, but wholly deserving, old farts… hmmmmmm.

She smiles. It has series written all over it!

Valentine’s Day and the State of My Union

So the hubs has been under the weather for a couple of weeks—I blame his flu shot—and as his health is quite fragile (just ask him), I did not expect his usual massive display of Valentine gallantry. Cough. We’ve been married since we were children (18—cough, again!), and over the centuries the whole holiday thing has rather decompensated for us. Not everything, mind you, just the sentimental and material elements that make it so special, like gifts, flowers, love notes, a date that ends with that special dessert… you know what I’m talking about. But the big holiday came at a bad time this year–my guy has been slogging through a company buyout, a business reorganization, an ever-lengthening client list, contract negotiations that give him a migraine, not to mention his everyday dealing with the entitled and impolite—grown people who throw fits like expert children. Sigh. With that much on his plate, let’s face it, there’s not much left when he gets home exhausted and cursing his swollen sinuses and a throat so sensitive to swallowing that he has likened the experience to the pain of a thousand cuts… I know. Today he actually said it hurt all the way up to his Eustachian tubes. Yes, I have a husband who says Eustachian tubes.

So, yeah, he makes for a pretty dramatic sick guy. But, and this is a BIG but, I soooo love him. You might not be able to tell, but I really am living my own dream. Valentine’s notwithstanding, when you get married that young, it takes a lot of patience and forgiveness to negotiate the vast quantities of dumbness and all the countless mistakes. And it takes a long time to get things right. But “right” seems to be exactly where we’re headed. And as weird as my little hubs is, not to mention my own monumental level of self-absorption, I simply cannot imagine doing life with anyone else. Yeah, this week Valentine’s was a bit of a bust, but it was also a week when two amazing daughters brought us two amazing grandbabies. Deklan is our new mini man, and I’m sorry, but his fabulousness is not to be equaled. We also got a precious Maggie who arrived on the scene 7 weeks early in an emergency the caliber of which took our breath away and drove us to our knees.

This stuff is the meat of life. It’s the stuff you can really only face holding hands—at times completely white-knuckled. So, ya know, when seen in that perspective, candy hearts and tulips sort of diminish in importance. I am, however, promised that Homer (not his real name) will make it up to me, and I will add that promise to the pile. (Have you seen the Vonage commercial? That’s about the size of the pile.) But there’s no rush. We’re Mormons. We do eternity.

And it wasn’t a total bust anyway. I did get my oh-so-special dessert. Yep, a 4-dollar cupcake. What?

Going to THE-NEXT-BIG-THING Blog Hop… I Might Need New Shoes!

Now I know you’re shocked because it hasn’t been two months since I last blogged—I told you I was going to fix that as my 2013 resolution and here is the proof of my fragile honesty. Yay! Anyway, I’m excited because I’ve been invited to take part in a blog hop! What the heck is that and what am I supposed to wear? Well, apparently it’s like a big fat round robin where authors answer questions and help readers discover new books. Cool, right? So, I was tagged by the amazing Brenda Janowitz. Check out her blog to see who else she tagged. And I’ll tag some authors so you’ll have even more fun. I know it’s complicated, but follow the hop for long enough and you’re bound to find something fabulous to read!

So—drum-roll—Here are the big things in my writing life: First, my novel Dancing on Broken Glass, which is available now everywhere.

1-Where did the idea for DOBG come from?
The idea came to me sort of after the fact. I’d set out to write about three sisters, an illness, and a baby. But like most of my first pancakes, it had to be tossed to make room for the real story which was of a marriage, faulty genetics, three sisters, and a baby. The result was infinitely deeper than what it started out to be. The lesson I learned (and continue to learn): listen to your characters.

2-What genre does your book fall under?
Hmmmm. I thought it probably fit best under women’s fiction/literary fiction, however I have had very thoughtful feedback from men—a lot of men—the good kind who can relate to a flawed hero doing his best in a unique relationship. Not sure that exactly defines a genre, but I can say heart is required—and it doesn’t seem to matter if that heart beats in a man or a woman.

3-Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
LOL! My husband is a bit full of himself and said he’d be perfect for… well, all the male leads. He’s hilarious. Honestly the only one I can actually see is Katherine Heigl as Priss.

4-Brief synopsis: (Is there such a thing?)
I’ll just quote a great review I got: DOBG is the story of Lucy and Mickey, a married couple in a picturesque Connecticut town whose relationship balances on the jagged, threatening realities of their respective biologies—she has already faced a life-threatening bout with cancer, and he wrestles continuously with the demons of bipolar disorder. They’ve built their marriage around a firm contract of dos and don’ts, but when life throws them a massive curve ball, they are forced to redefine what love really is. (Couldn’t have said it better myself.)

5-Who published Dancing on Broken Glass?
Simon and Schuster—under their Gallery imprint. They are fabulous!

6-How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me a long time because I’m a dork and edit and polish every paragraph along the way. Can you say OCD? Hello, nice to meet you. It’s not how you’re supposed to do it, but the upside of my compulsion is that my first draft is usually in pretty good shape.

7-What is the working title of your next big thing?
I’m calling my WIP The Duzy House of Mourning. Of course this is subject to change. But it’s a little like calling your pregnant tummy bozo or bean-dip…somehow it sticks with the baby long after the name is changed. So this is my bozo and will forever be my bozo.

8-Where did the idea for the book come from?
I’d have to say the kernel came from the heartbreaking story, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir affected me in a visceral way. I’ve always been fascinated with the brain and what happens when it’s wounded and what happens as it heals… if it heals. These questions had been swimming around in me for a while when I became a bit obsessed about what a woman would experience trapped behind a silent voice. How she would love someone, and how that someone would know. And when I had noodled this to death, one day Cleopatra Duzy simply showed up in my gray matter and introduced herself. She is fascinating. And so is her story.

Thanks for blog-hopping with me! Don’t know about you, but I have to get out of these shoes! Now check out these great authors and see what they’re up to! You won’t be disappointed.

Malena Lott

Jacqueline Luckett

Jennifer Miller

Samantha Wilde

Christa Allen

 

The Truth About Snarks and Roses–R.I.P. Leo B

I’ve been bad. But it’s a new year, and I vow to blog twice a month. And because I have insanely scintillating things to say, it should be a labor of love.

Now to business: For those of you who know me, you know I’m not a spring chicken. For those of you who don’t, I’m still not. But I am not as old as Snarky Hilda (not her real name, although I am sorely tempted) who blogged that DOBG was the worst book of 2012. I know! I was shocked, too! Perhaps she’s not familiar with multisyllabic words, or was reading in the shower, or has only a 2nd grade education. Who knows, who cares, because I am a mature woman and such things simply roll off my back. Not. Hand to forehead—I’ve learned something surprising about my menopausal self: I tend to obsess about crap like this. (I’m not proud of that, but between hot flashes, it is what it is.)

Now to put this in context; DOBG was listed on several Best of 2012 blogs as well, and reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and B&N continue to make me smile—the big, fat, toothy kind. I’m told that it’s flying off the shelves in Italy, it comes out in Poland next month (7 countries so far), so clearly the margin of silly Hilda-beasts in my world is miniscule and annoying at best—like a sprig of broccoli between my teeth or toilet paper stuck to my stiletto—what? old chicks can rock stilettos—or stepping onto an elevator where someone has rudely left behind a bad smell—I hate that. Really? I know I must graciously share the planet with snits. I know that. And I know that a mean review from the bowels of cyberspace doesn’t really mean squat in the big scheme of things—well, maybe just a little squat—a squatlette if you will.

But enough of this whining; it’s time for the point of my ranting.

I am tremendously indebted to the late Leo Buscaglia (one of the 3 people alive or dead to whom I would give a foot massage). I spent an evening with him years ago. (There were about 18,000 of us—he was sold out.) Little did I know that he would be speaking directly to me about a snark I would encounter so many years in the future. The crux of his message was this: Ka, (I added that) if the world says you smell like a rose, then odds are you’re a rose. And if one poor snark says you stink, it doesn’t mean you’re not a rose. No, no, no! It means there is something seriously wrong with the snark’s nose! Mind-blowing! Awesome in it’s simplicity! (Note to self—I must wisely share this logic with a small child being teased by a bucktoothed and portly 7-year-old boy with breasts! But I digress.)

So at this late onset of 2013, Leo B is the reason all is well in my world. Leo B is why I shall de-obsess about retired snobs with blogs. Leo B is the reason I shall fully mature…eventually. And as I limp toward that end, I promise to be smart and discriminating. For instance, if Mzzzz Hilda steps off an elevator that I’m waiting for, I shall smile knowingly… and wait for the next one.

Happy New Year Roses! Snarks need not apply.

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