Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Excerpt!

So, ya'll. My goal for 2017 is to complete my book and have it published. It is a book of short stories about fictional women's lives; some amusing and some, as you will note below, not so funny. I just wanted to provide an excerpt of some of the writing and I hope you'll find it on a shelf sometime soon! 

This is an excerpt from Chapter 3. 

                                                                  Image Credit

MaryJean’s old Tercel was in the carport, so she was home. Janey rapped on the door and heard nothing. She did note an odor that she equated with those patients in the ICU who were being unmercifully kept alive by family members in denial. The odor of early decay, it was familiar and sad, bringing her back to the critical care unit bedsides where patients would begin the process of putrefaction before even breathing their last breath. You don’t forget that smell.

Suddenly panicking, Janey pushed the door open, which had been left unlocked. The smell became forceful and unmistakable.
“MaryJean!” she cried out pleadingly, “Arthur! Are you here?” She noted that the swamp cooler had in fact not been fixed. It had to be over 100 degrees in the trailer, and it smelled of rot. Terrified at what she might find, Janey made her way through the trailer, creeping over the threadbare carpet, down the wood paneled hallway. Her heart was pounding, she was sweaty and scared, nausea rising in her chest. She pushed open the door to MaryJean’s bedroom, and blinked at the darkness. Blankets covered the windows in a feeble attempt to block out the heat. The bed was stained and unkempt. Her eyes finally adjusting, Janey saw a large, dark crumpled lump on the floor. Suddenly realizing it was a face down MaryJean, Janey ran over to her and immediately fumbled with the fleshly folds of MaryJean’s neck to feel for a pulse. There was none. Janey stood and straddled MaryJean, attempting to roll her onto her back. “MaryJean! MaryJean. Hey!” she cried out through strained breaths as she flipped the 400 lb woman onto her back. Janey fumbled for the on switch on the lamp, finding it and gasping when light flooded the room and she saw MaryJean in the gloriousness of death. Her face was scrunched and discolored, her mouth yawning open unnaturally. Bruising was on her chest, the front of her legs, the areas Janey could see. She’d been dead for at least a day, Janey thought, noting the bruising as blood that had been pooled by gravity after MaryJean had died. She smelled of dead flesh already beginning to break down, and as though she’d soiled herself upon dying, a common and severely unpleasant occurrence.
Janey pulled her cell phone out and dialed 911.
“What is your emergency?”
“I’m a home health nurse that came to check on a patient and she is dead. Could you send police? There is no need for an ambulance.”
“Right away ma’am. Address?” Janey provided the address and walked back out to the broiling living room, waiting.
The police quickly took report upon arrival and pronounced MaryJean. The medical examiner’s office came with extra help due to MaryJean’s size and it took unbelievable effort to roll her into a body bag and load her onto a gurney. “Christ Almighty,” said one assistant, “She should have laid off the donuts about 40 years ago. This shit is ridiculous.” He said, a visible sign of detest on his face. They all agreed. Janey, for some reason, felt significant shame as a lump rose in her throat. MaryJean deserved better than that. She was a poor woman, she was an obese woman, but she was a kind woman who did the best she knew how to do. She was someone’s mother and grandmother. She had purpose, regardless of her size and economic status.

As she was leaving, Janey remembered that Arthur had been nowhere to be found. She turned around to mention this to police, but they were already headed over to Arthur’s sister’s house, where they had tracked him down. MaryJean had supposedly been at her daughters, Arthur said. He wasn’t allowed to go, so he went to his sister’s. MaryJean had lied, her daughter was out of town. She died a hot, gruesome death, alone in a dirty old bedroom. Nobody knew until a nurse showed up. Janey said a silent prayer that her life would never end that way, at 57. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Somebody's Watching (A Flash Fiction Story)

Closing the front door to my condo, I heard the familiar thunk as the deadbolt slid into place, ensuring my nerves would calm for the night. Peeling off my nursing scrubs after a brutal thirteen hour day, I showered, put on my most comfortable pajamas, went downstairs to retrieve a glass of water and trudged back upstairs for bed. I crawled in gratefully, letting my weary bones settle into my plush mattress. I put on my sports talk radio app, so familiar voices would keep me company as I drifted off to sleep. I didn’t want to feel alone.

Yet I did want to be alone.

The condo creaked as the building settled and I shuddered. After a stressful day, I drifted off to sleep with my jaw clenched tightly.

At 3:16am, I awoke with a start, assumingly from a nightmare. I tried to sit up in the darkness and felt as though something had lifted off of me. I felt smothered and struggled to breathe. I was sweating, my heart was racing, my pajamas were clinging to me. My comforter was twisted, signifying a restless night. My head pounded. It took me over an hour of watching tv with my little lamp turned on before I fell asleep again.

I awoke for the day at 8:45, welcoming the flood of sunlight. I went to the bathroom and walked back to bed, yawning and picking up my cell phone from the nightstand.

I had 23 notifications from friends, who had commented on my photos.

My photos?

Blinking away the morning blurriness, I opened my Facebook app and clicked on the post with the notifications.

And then I screamed, dropping my phone on the floor and hearing a crack as the screen splintered. Picking it up again, my heart thudding violently, I looked at the pictures. Nine of them. Every last picture was of me sleeping in my bed, in various positions, the night before.

Posted at 3:16am

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Men Vs Women: Thanksgiving Planning Edition

The Holidays are such a busy time a year, aren't they folks? Ahh, yes. A chorus of ladies yelling out "Yes! Oh my gosh I am going to lose my freaking mind! There's too much to do!" as they march off to the grocery/department/black friday store with detailed, meticulous lists in hand, soft leather handbags slung over their shoulders, sensible flats covering tired Mama feet, a messy ponytail swinging behind them.

Where are the guys? I didn't hear any of them call out. Hello? (Adele voice), "Can you hear me?"


Absolutely nothing.

Because, though I love me the male persuasion, holidays are significantly less harried for their kind. 

And so, I bring you the Thanksgiving Brain, Women Vs Men:

Woman Brain on Thanksgiving:

"Oh God. It's a week before Thanksgiving. After work I'm going to need to peruse Pinterest for seven hours and start planning ridiculously complex side dishes and fondant shapes so as to go down in history and having the greatest Thanksgiving spread of all time, even in comparison with whatever they're having at the White House. Okay. The turkey. Should I bake it like Mom did? Or do I brine? What is brine, anyway? Okay. Check out "brine" on Pinterest. Or should I fry it? Nah, that seems so 2002. I still have oil burns on my elbow from THAT Thanksgiving. Brining is it. How many people are coming? Will Aunt Mabel and Uncle Lou actually make the trip from Albuquerque? They probably shouldn't drive on account of their cataracts. Or did they have those surgically removed this year? Or last year? I swear I saw it in cousin Arlene's super obnoxious and braggy Christmas letter. So if THEY come, (hopefully Arlene won't) then that will make (counting on hands) 13-14-oh no Arlene and Willy would be 16. Fingers crossed they're too busy making more enthralling YouTube videos of their cats to make the trip. 
So I'll make the list tomorrow after Pinteresting. Hey, did my kids break so many bowls this year that I only have a matching set for 9? Who has place settings for NINE? I'm going to need to research dishes. I can't have mismatched dishes. It would probably make Arlene's letter this year "We drove all that way and our host served us on mismatched plates. I also noted spots on the utensils and the decor left something to be desired. We won't be back", like a restaurant review on Yelp. 
Damn Arlene. Plus, I think she voted for _________________.  Don't even get me started. 
Which grocery stores have the best prices on turkey? Last year I was screwed going to that one store, they didn't even have store brand turkeys! I paid $42.00 for a dead bird. 

Now there's only two days left. I've been to six different stores in the last two days just to round out this list. And I STILL forgot the butter. Butter! It's like, a STAPLE! Well, after I make dinner tonight I'll head BACK out to the store. I'm sure it will be pleasant 48 hours prior to Thanksgiving. Oh, I need a decent tablecloth now, since the cute patterned one that matched the throw pillows now has a gigantic RED Crystal Light stain thanks to my youngest. I somehow need to sleep in between preparations, getting the house cleaned (I'll enlist my husband for that one. I'll even promise late night favors for a job well done) and working. Do the kids even have school this week? I have no idea. Oh! The Thanksgiving pageant. She's going to need me to find a pilgrim costume between now and tomorrow but HALLOWEEN IS ALREADY OVER. Where in all hell do I find a pilgrim costume now? I'd better thaw the turkey tonight so I can brine it 24 hours. Rosemary. I NEED ROSEMARY for the brine. Why did I decide to brine, again? Oh, here's a text from Arlene. "We're happy to say we'll be making the trip tomorrow with Mom and Dad. Looking forward to that fried turkey you're famous for!" 
Instead, I reply, "It will be a wonderful time. Please drive carefully" (in the other direction) comes my thought. At 1am, I'll be able to pass out. Can't wait. 

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Today after work I'll boil the brine, cool it off, put the turkey in the ice bath, toast the bread, saute the celery and onions, finish the dressing, peel the potatoes, get the cranberries boiling, set the table, make sure the bathroom is stocked with the pretty towels and the Bath & Body Works hand soap, head to the Thanksgiving program and come home to wish for grim death. 

Man Brain on Thanksgiving:

"Hey, what time are we eating tomorrow?"

The Women Before Me

As my nine year old daughter stands on her stool, tearing toast into pieces, dropping it into a large bowl and complaining about HOW MUCH BREAD there is yet to toast, I am there, also nine, next to my Mom, complaining. "Mom, oh my god, why is there so much?!" and in the back of my mind "Why the hell is my brother not doing this?" (to date: he still doesn't. He just shoplifts all of the dressing from the rest of us. But this year, I'm making a secret stash of our own to keep at home, and no one remind him he has a key to my house. Thanks in advance). 

I do it because I'm female, and that's just what we do. For generations. We cook Thanksgiving dinner like nobody's business, and pass it down. And now I get it. All of the complaining has led to a feeling of gratefulness for having those memories with my Mom. I try and tell my daughter, "Somebody you'll be the Mama, and you'll do this with your daughter and tell her about how you used to make this same thing with your Mom and Nana". She just looks at me blankly like "okay", but I hope someday it will mean something. 

I not only remember cooking with my Mom, but also with my Aunt M, and even my Nana, who passed away when I was nearly six. When my Aunt M was discussing downsizing, she asked what things she has that I would want. My first thought: all of the recipe cards that are in the handwriting of she, my Nana and my great aunts. I like to look at them and run my finger over the loopy cursive that was signature for those generations, the same pieces of paper on which the women before me left their marks. In 2016, at 40 years old, those cards mean more to me than I ever thought they would as I rifled through them as a little girl. They are love letters from the women who felt like I feel, worked like I work, cooked like I now cook, loved as I love. Their DNA swirls through my veins and keeps them here, alive, remembered. 

So many of my recipes are printed off of sites like Pinterest, or AllRecipes. I realized NONE of my recipes are written down for my daughter and future generations, in the case that they'd want them. So, I have purposed to make the effort to write out the recipes that my kids love, the ones they ask for. I will transcribe in my own writing the super secret never tell another soul recipe for Mom/Nana/AuntM/AuntNene's Thanksgiving dressing. I will keep the recipes of our family together, add my own, and pass them to my children with the stressed significance of keeping pieces of your history, and who you are. 

First off, my husband's great grandmother, Florida (how great is her name?) saved this article. I am beyond pleased to know that cooking cabbage will serve to please my husband for life. Who knew it was that easy? 

I am grateful to have married into this family, I have the honor of carrying the name of the women before my father-in-law; women whose stories are powerful, women like my grandmother-in-law Erris who has passed away but her diamonds sit nestled in my wedding set among the new ones my husband bought; her blue topaz pendant is around my neck every day. I never met her, yet she lives on with me as the only daughter in the family. And I'm sure her Mom taught her the cabbage thing. 

Below, my great Aunt Nene's writing. She was beloved by my Mom and Aunt M and passed away shortly before I was born, but I have heard her stories all of my life. My Mom shares her name (their given names being Neva). Per stories, I suspect that my sassy attitude and stubbornness may come directly down the line from her. 

Aunt Irma,  "Irmi", who wasn't technically an aunt but more first cousin twice removed-- (if you'd like an explanation of what that means, my Mom and Aunt M will happily get in a knock-down drag-out sister fight of what the hell that even means. I've SEEN IT LIVE, ya'll)--she passed away in 2000. She was a spitfire herself, who later lost her sight to macular degeneration and her recipe cards showed the struggle. My memories of her include her hilarious laugh and she was the first woman I knew who snored like a freight train. She also liked to argue vehemently (to my amusement) with great Aunt Helen. 

Great Aunt Helen, we suspected, was on her way to 100 years old, but we lost her in the first weeks of 2012 at 97. She was sharp as a tack, read novels right up until the end, and had been a school teacher. She had been widowed since before I was born, and was present every Christmas out here in Arizona until well into my adulthood. My brother and I would always jump for joy seeing her handwriting on the greeting cards placed on the Christmas tree every year; we knew that a $100 check was nestled inside. So, clearly, we miss her more than ever. :) 

My Mom2, as I call her, has adopted me as her own from the beginning. She is the sweetest woman I know, and raised my very favorite person to be the best husband status guy that he is. She is one of those Moms you can call when you're a sniffling, crying mess and she'll empathize and pray you through. I'm only sorry it took us so long to find each other. She is mom-in-law GOLD. 

Oh, my Aunt M. Pretty sure the reason I can write is because of her. I mean, what choice do you have when your aunt, who frequently babysits you in your formative years, has degrees in english and library science and works as a librarian even past retirement? She taught me the joy in reading, the value of a good story. She believes in me to this day, and I'm thankful that she didn't have kids of her own, so I never had to share her, except with my brother who is always pissy, thinking that I'm her favorite. (I mean, how could I NOT be really? But still, she works hard to keep things even between us). And Aunt M can THROW DOWN in the kitchen (note to Aunt M: "throw down" is current slang for "you're a great cook"). I love you. 

My Mama's writing. My Mom. I get teary even typing about her because how can you NOT when writing about your Mom? Every time I cook one of her recipes I feel more connected to her. She's a "pick yourself up, dust yourself off" kind of Mom, and that's the only reason why I've come out such a fighter. Just yesterday she texted "Go for it all. Nothing you cannot do." She has always believed I am destined for great things, and made me believe it. Made me pursue it. I see the value in that as a Mom myself now, because I am no-nonsense like her, and my kids' behavior shows it. Seriously, my Mom kicks ass. That's the best way I can describe her. Also: don't EVER EVER EVER mess with her family. (ie: the day in first grade that my teacher didn't give me milk because I had forgotten my milk money; I offered her two pennies from my sweaty little hand that I had found in my desk. She refused it. I totally told on her, Mom called the school, got the teacher, and the conversations started something like "Don't you EVER...." and I had milk every single day for the rest of first grade). Do NOT make my Mom call you. And please know, I WILL TELL. 

My Nana. To this day, I still haven't been able to write about her, because I'll just cry. I had spent most days with her from birth to age 5, when Mom and Dad were working. She and my grandpa had traveled to Arizona from Illinois to help my parents after my brother was born, and she passed away one afternoon shortly after she and I were huddled on the couch watching As The World Turns. I have missed her every day of my life since, but have always felt a special connection to her, no matter how much time passes. She is with me, and waiting for me. 

Thanksgiving has seemed the perfect time to reflect on the women who have come before me, and what kind of holiday memories I want to pass on to my children and the future women who come after me. Take a moment today to reflect on all of the recipes and traditions that you keep to this day, to honor the women who have come before you. 

Where can you see their legacy? 

Monday, November 21, 2016

How To Battle Anxiety and How It Started For Me. (Newsflash: It Sucked).

It started the week I woke up suddenly, night after night, with my heart pounding, my hair sweaty and stuck to my face, usually around 3am. My life had been turned upside down. 
I had grown up introverted, self-conscious and loathing social activities. It was built in. Books were my best friends and I was more than happy to stay at home. In school, I felt the creepings of it in class; the desire for perfectionism unfortunately affected by a mind that wandered. I would feel stuck and panicky sitting somewhere for extended periods of time listening to teachings that in no way held my interest. It made me squirmy and impatient. 
But it wasn't until those nights I started to awaken in a blind panic with no resolution, seemingly nowhere to turn, that the anxiety switch flipped on. 

And it announced it's presence in my life with a vengeance. 

It started that week that I discovered that my marriage, my family was a complete lie. I was on the receiving end of unfaithfulness. There was a woman calling my house at all hours of the night, screaming on the phone, demanding to talk to him. He refused and would coach me through conversations with her, refusing to man-up and handle his own stupid business. I was married to a pastor, a chaplain. I could tell no one. Seek solace nowhere. I couldn't (so I thought) tell my family because they would make me leave. I was eight weeks pregnant. I wasn't sure I had the courage to do it. 

And so I didn't. And then I found out that this one was at least #2, and that there was much, much more to the story. And I stayed silent. I shoved down the feelings of fear, exquisite pain, loss of faith, unworthiness. His words swirled around me as I sat on the bathroom floor after throwing up yet again, after all, I was in my first trimester; he told me I looked pathetic. That he "deserved" a hot wife and this wasn't it. And I took it. ME! The sassy one who will tell anyone off in a heartbeat if you start with me. Slumped in a wrecked, weeping, pregnant, lonely heap on the floor. "This isn't my life. This isn't my life. This isn't my life" were the words that ran circles through my brain as I'd throw up again. 

That week, anxiety made it's debut in my life, and I've been fighting it like hell ever since. 

Admittedly, there are many people who have been through FAR WORSE than I have experienced. My story got even worse later on, and it has felt like the last several years have been stuffed full of intense trials. Many times I will look at someone else and think "but they are going through THAT so why should I be down/worried/in pain when in comparison, my situation isn't that bad?"

I'll tell you what I've learned:

Just because someone else has had a different experience than you, does not minimize your pain, your journey, because pain is relative. It is what YOU say it is. It's as bad as YOU say. Own it, and walk through it however YOU need to.

Ever since those days, my mind immediately goes to thinking the worst, because there have been a couple of situations now where I can say, "See? The worst DID happen! I was right all those years to think the worst, because it IS possible that it will happen!" (This was not a good realization). 

Anxiety is paralyzing, crippling and very, very real. When you have experienced a trauma, your mind goes into protective mode at the first sign of any trouble. Sometimes, your body will start with an anxiety reaction while you're not even thinking about anything. It's just anxiety being the asshat that it is. 

Do you ever: feel a tightness in your chest or core when fear of something out of your control is occurring or has the potential to occur? Do you feel uneasy, struggle with sleep? Find it almost impossible to clear your mind or focus on ANYTHING when you feel overwhelmed with fear an anxiety? Have heart palpitations, cold, clammy hands, shivering and an inability to get warm? 

It's all part of the anxiety game. It relentlessly attacks and makes you feel helpless and weak. 

But You Are Not Weak. 

I am learning as I walk through this life, to combat it. To silence the lies, the voice that torments and tells me that bad things will always happen because bad things have happened. I am surrounded by blessings and proof that there are far more wonderful things and moments than ones that break you. 

The most important advice I can offer is to practice radically caring for yourself. Giving your self space. Taking captive the initial thought that is thrown your way--picture it like a cloud--you see it, you acknowledge and don't ignore it--and then let is pass on by. 

Take baths. Read a really, really good book or story. Watch an episode of Golden Girls for the thousandth time. Call your Mom. Unless she gives you anxiety. Then call someone else. (Mine, for the record, does not do that). *disclaimer. Because Mom reads my stuff. Hi Mom! 
Physically exercise. When I went through the uncertainty and difficulty of divorce, I found solace in lifting and, most helpful, hiking. I felt in touch with God more on a mountain trail than ever I did in a church. I could communicate better there. I felt like there was nothing in the way of those conversations on a mountaintop.

Just don't ignore those feelings, because they won't just go away, like I originally thought. After a while, the anxiety from not walking through the heartbreak of adultery with someone I knew and trusted built up and manifested as headaches and acid reflux. The body is not meant to house that level of internal stress. 

So be kind, TO YOU. Acknowledge your thoughts but don't dwell on them. Seek a counselor's help when you need to (they are a godsend). 

And, above all, know that you are never, ever alone in this. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

That Weekend We Almost Killed Naked Santa and Nearly Wandered Into A Bondage Event

It was my husband's birthday weekend, so naturally, as any good wife will do, I wanted to give him an offer he couldn't refuse (no, not "sleep with the fishes" kind). Well, an offer no man ever refuses, actually.
So, we were going to go lingerie shopping, as normal married couples who still really really like to do stuff with their soulmates will do. 

We were out of town, spending a long weekend on in the sleepy, dreamy town of Carlsbad, California, just outside of San Diego. We had booked a beachfront hotel with a lot of our frequent-travel points and picked up some good novels to read on the beach. It had been a really long week, and we were looking forward to time with just the two of us.

So, we headed out in search of the closest Victoria's Secret. It was a Saturday, around 8pm. Finding a mall, we were dismayed that it looked a little deserted. I ran up to the door to check the business hours, and, sure enough, it closed at 8. "What mall closes at 8pm on a Saturday?', we couldn't help but wonder, feeling more than a little disappointed.

I, always being up for a good time, started doing a phone search of the area, looking for lingerie stores similar to the ones we have in Phoenix. You know, the ones where you go with your girlfriend to giggle at all the toys and yell across the room, "Hey! Have you ever tried this one?!" and take turns smacking each other with paddles emblazoned with the word "love slave" and wondering if the chocolate body paint is really as good as Hershey's (it isn't). As a side note, we did also wander into section where there was a video ad for "Clone Your Guy"; a "kit" with a mold maker and THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING. Only as we wandered by the display and glanced up at the tv screen, my friend couldn't help but blurt out, "Okay, this is a 'clone your GUY' kit. So why is the GIRL naked?" file this question under "Things we'll ask God about someday." Actually, probably not, because I'm not entirely sure that section of the store was God-approved. But it sure is good for giggles, (and for penis shaped confetti, which made it's debut in my life at my bachelorette dinner).

Anyway, anyway, anyway.

I hit upon a store called the Love Boutique about a 10 minute drive away. We headed in that direction because hey, who wouldn't want to go to a "Love Boutique"? I verified that it had a large assortment of bras and negligees that I was looking for and provided the directions to my raised Baptist, easily unnerved adorable husband. *keep this information in the forefront of your mind. 

Pulling into the parking lot, we drove around to the front of the building and my husband just stopped. He was staring at something out of the corner of his eye, but wouldn't directly look at whatever had just unnerved him.

Oh, just a gaggle of people who looked similar to vampires hanging out near the front entrance, puffing on cigarettes, their heads encircled with wispy clouds of smoke, making them appear even more dastardly.
"Maybe they're just having a Halloween party," I suggest. 
"Ok but Halloween was LAST week, so why would they have a Halloween party in November?"
"Well, you've got me there."

I stared as my husband rolled by, a look of trepidation on his face. He was now having an intense internal debate. How desperately do I want to have this night go as planned? How willing am I to wait until Victoria's opens tomorrow to fire this idea up?"

Answer: More Than Willing. 

Feeling as though we were under attack by these slovenly-appearing vampires, my husband presses hard on the gas pedal and we are headed out to the main road.

That is, until Naked Santa comes darting out from the side of the building and high-tails it across our headlights, disappearing into the darkness of the parking lot. 

My husband slams on the brakes and we pitch forward, looking at each other like, did that just happen?

"Okay. It can't just be me that saw a man in tiny santa shorts and a santa hat and nothing else almost get run over by us, right? I didn't imagine that?"

I nod in solidarity with my completely unnerved, wide-eyed husband who has now not only witnessed lingerie store vampires, but also a nearly naked Santa Claus in the span of 30 seconds.


"And why are there both vampires AND Santa Claus? This doesn't go together at all. Let's get out of here."

"I need to get pictures. GO SLOW!" 

And so we rolled quietly through the parking lot, me catching a blurred action shot of naked santa and also of the smoking vampiress still hanging out.

"Do you still want to go in?" I ask, started to really giggle at my husband's terrified face.


"Aww, it's probably just a party, let's check it out!"


"I'll let you pick out some elephant shaped boxers or something, you know, the kind where the trunk is for...."


So off we drive, he being taken aback by all that was witnessed, me fervently searching on my phone for any kind of parties or special festivals the Love Boutique was currently having, to answer some questions.

And then, I found our answers.

 Sexy Santa AND his elves were there! We almost totally ruined the party by our near-miss with Sexy Santa!

Not only that ya'll, but there are even MORE classes in which to partake at the boutique! So I read the descriptions aloud to my husband as he drove.

"Hey! So they have bondage classes too! Is that a thing? There's like classes where you can learn to hog-tie and all that jazz? I thought that was a "learn as you go" thing for the bedroom, or, at the very most, found in a helpful manual on the naughty shelf at Barnes and Noble."


"I'm serious! It even says bondage-friendly clothing is suggested. Is what I'm wearing bondage friendly? Because I just don't know."

"The jeans might be a problem."

"True. Contortionism is, I'd assume, difficult in jeans."

I kept reading.

"Oh, I guess jeans AREN'T suggested. It says I have to have my areolas covered at all times, AND I can buy pasties at the Love Boutique itself! I'm just impressed that the vampire naked santa store knows the correct anatomical term of "areolas". But I'd probably just wear a shirt. Oh, dangit, it's only on the 1st Thursday and 3rd Friday of each month. No hog-tying me this month, buddy boy!"


"The class is called All Tied Up! It says it's for newbies AND experienced Top/Bottoms alike?
So you have to choose a Top/Bottom and stick with that forever? There's no spontaneity or varied position changes? That doesn't sound very progressive to me. 'Well, guess I'll be here on the bottom again. Here's the rope. Watch my areolas.'"

"Hey! There's also something called Club X. It says it's San Diego's largest pansexual leather group. What's a pansexual?"

"I have no idea. All I wanted was some new lingerie for you."

"Well now I have to google 'pansexual'. Okay! So it's someone who's totally fluid in their sexuality. Like, does it with whatever. Now we know. They even have their own flag."

"Learn something new every day."

"I'd say we've learned a lot today. Happy Birthday, Baby!"

*For those interested in Club X in the greater San Diego area, they do state that "Our primary goal is that of education with secondary goals of activism and social activities. We hold monthly meetings to this end." 

In my mind, that directly translates to, "If you'd like to have us on career day at your kids' school to display our goals of education, activism and social activities, we'd be happy to oblige and will make sure to cover our areolas and use gluten-free, vegan rope."

And we did, for the record, have a good weekend after that. After all, Victoria's opened at 10am. ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Letter To My Kids' New Stepmom

Dear My Kids New Stepmom,

I am writing to you in all honesty and truth, so that we can move forward in the relationships we have with my children. I want you to know that I do not hate you, I do not dislike you and I am not jealous of you. Having been divorced a few years, there are no strings I am left standing here clinging to. When the choice was made for the marriage to end, that was it for me. I accepted it for what it was and emotionally moved on. I am not one to act out of stifled maturity, not wanting to meet you, hating you, refusing my children to be around you or pretending that you don't exist. I have given my children permission from day one to build a relationship with you, even love you. 

Really, it's okay. 

I know I'm their Mom, and I know I'm a damn good one. You've probably guessed that by how easy they are to raise and how respectful they are of you and their father. And that's exactly the way I want it. I do not feel as though you'll "replace" me in their hearts or lives, because I'm a grown woman and able to behave as such. I am secure in my children's love and devotion to me, so I will never engage in competition with you. 

I thank you. Thank you for your kindness to them. Thank you for accepting them into your heart and into your life and new home, because if there's one thing I can empathize with, it's how difficult and maddening it would be to be a stepparent when a biological parent exists only to create discord and, in return, unhappy children who feed off of those insecurities and resentment. That would never be my desire for you or for my children. 

I am happy that we have built a kind relationship, built on our shared values, that has put the children first. I thank you for praying when my grandmother was dying. I thank you for easy text conversations devoid of weirdness. I'm grateful that the way we have treated one another from day one should be a testament to anyone who finds themselves a part of a family with stepchildren. 

It is of my opinion that it is up to the biological parent to be open, mature and emotionally adult enough to reach out in kindness to a potential or new stepparent. To give them a chance to grow a relationship with the children and allow children to see that, for their own benefit. As a result, my children speak freely of you in our home, free of condemnation. 

We may never be considered "friends", just because of the nature of our relationship. But we are comrades in the lives of these two wonderful little people that I willingly share with you. It is my goal to always keep communication as open and easy as it has been over the past couple of years, because it has been good for their developing hearts and souls. It's not easy to be a stepparent, I know. I've been there. So it is my vow that I will never treat you the way that I have been treated in the past. What good does that do anyone, most especially children? You, as another parent in my children's lives, deserve better than that, and so do they. I'm glad we did this right, as real women will always do. 

Onward in life, 


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Vibes.

There's just something about a Sunday morning. For me, this is especially true in the fall, when it's football season and in early November, summer in Arizona FINALLY bows out, giving way to hiking weather for us.

The kids sleep in, the football pre-shows are on, I have time to wake up slowly with my husband and we are in no hurry to get out of bed.

This morning, I grabbed one of my current books, made my tea and curled up on the chaise lounge in our bedroom. It dawned on me that I am the picture of Sunday morning vibes, and just wanted to share a moment where life isn't rushed and stressful. No having to take care of a gaggle of kids because who cares if they're still in their pajamas by early afternoon?

Sundays when I was a kid were great times. In the winters, Mom would make monkey bread and coffee, Dad would build a fire. He always has cold feet so the vision of his socks slung over the fireplace screen getting warmed up is tantamount to all of my childhood memories. We'd all join up in the living room, hoping and praying that our team would be one of the two games we'd have broadcast in the tiny desert Arizona town in which we lived, 1,800 miles away from our beloved Chicago Bears. Twas the olden days, before Directv saved all of us.

Sunday Vibes. 

Most Sundays in current times, after we finally get out of bed, my son comes out to watch games with me, and a new generation continues the trend. I usually will make monkey bread just like Moms, and then I'll scream at the tv for a few hours, because, the Bears are usually ripe with the stench of disappointment. It is our last chance on the weekend before the Sunday blues set in, lunches have to be made for Monday, homework checks, backpacks ready, five kids bathed and tucked away by 8:45.

And so, until then, before their ridiculously high-maintenance selves start to ask for things constantly, I can be found in our room. With this.

I was encouraged in making my tea this morning. I never noticed the tags have inspiring little messages printed on them, and today, this one fell into my palm as though God was pressing a sweet reminder right into my hand. It says "You are unlimited", a timely message while I am transitioning my career into a new degree and a wholehearted push to become a published fiction writer. It's a scary world out there, even when you've been here for a while. So, thanks be to God for even the smallest of encouragements. 

So here, my friends, is my Sunday Vibe:

1. Readers, because I'm almost 41 and dammit.

2. Green tea, because I'm almost 41 and coffee is starting to irritate my stomach. Tis a sad day. 

3. Chicago Bears shirt, because I'm nothing if not loyal. Till the end, boys. Till the end. 

4. A book. Because I am a total nerd-girl and am never ever without one. 

5. Messy hair because don't care. 

6. Honeymoon souvenir mug from Magic Kingdom that says "Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas!" because otherwise the monorail will rip your arm straight off. 

I love my Sunday mornings. 

What's your vibe? 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Unraveling The Entitlement Psyche: Or, What If We All Thought This Way? (Tongue In Cheek Version).

In keeping with the raucous spirit of protest going on out there, I decided it was time for me to chime on in. Because, if we're going to live in a society where nobody accepts the outcome of freaking ANYTHING, resulting in total societal gridlock, then you betcha (in Sarah Palin voice) I'm gonna let you know all the things that are NOT MY (tongue in cheek version). 

And so.

1. God is not the boss of me. 

Clearly He doesn't know what's best for me. I mean, He's only the omnicient and omnipresent being that created like, every single thing and person in the history of ever, but come on. There's no WAY He knows more than me, let alone what's best for me. Amiright?

2. The Denver Broncos are NOT MY Super Bowl Champions. 

Because they're from Denver, and I've never been there, so they can't be champions. The ACTUAL champions, are the Chicago Bears. The won SIX games, and only lost ten last season. Since this was an improvement on their previous 5-11 season, they should be given the benefit of the doubt and awarded the Lombardi trophy, seeing as how they IMPROVED and they participated in the season. It's only fair (sorry, my friend Chelsea, it's only right and you know it).

3. These Stepkids are NOT MY kids, so I shouldn't acknowledge their presence. 

I mean, I should only have enough love in my heart and room in my life for the two beings I spat forth in traumatizing cesarean sections and nursed with my own boobs, right? Just because my husband is totally the best guy ever, and he has kids, I can just ignore them and pretend they'll go away. That's socially acceptable in our protesty world, right?

4. The doctors I work with are NOT MY superiors and shouldn't be giving me orders. 

I mean, I went to school, too! I am a NURSE. They need to let me perform the surgery even though they're the only ones in the room that did four years of medical school and at least four years of residency (depending on specialty). I have participated in enough surgical procedures, and watched enough times, that I should be allowed to perform the next total knee replacement because it's not that hard. I don't like that they are allowed to write orders for me to fulfill and won't pay me the same, even though I have like, zero percent liability compared to them. It's Not Fair! 

5. The police have no right to pull me over or talk to me because they are NOT MY Dads.

Ok, so, partially untrue, because my Dad IS a law enforcement guy and I'm not getting into a power struggle with him because after 40 years of practice, I've learned. BUT just because I was writing this blog while driving 83mph on the east bound 101 (not really true, I'm on my couch, relax) and then rear-end that STUPID "Smart Car" (the irony), that cop has NO RIGHT to show up on the scene and ask what the hell just happened. I am not responsible for my own behavior and consequences. And I sure don't want him showing up when that strange man with the fake arm cast tried to pull me into his volkswagon and said he really loves nurses. I don't need their help, ever. It's not like they risk their lives to protect me every day.
*Side note: arm cast guy thing isn't real, because Ted Bundy is dead via the death penalty. Which I wholeheartedly endorse because, murderers kind of suck.

6. I'm not going to work the hours I was hired for because that is NOT MY schedule. 

Seriously, who cares if they hired me to work 12 hour shifts in the ER? I don't feel like it. After like four hours, I'm good. I KNOW that guy is in pulseless VTach in room 3 and will most likely receive a celestial transfer (ie: die) if I don't stay in there, but, I mean, I don't actually know that guy. I participated in defibrillating him for a minute, isn't that enough? Dude. Man up and get your own heart back into sinus rhythm.

7. It is NOT MY responsibility to do the work in my class, I should automatically get an A, because hey, I'm blonde. 

Isn't the syllabus, complete with the assigned items required to pass the class just a suggestion? I don't REALLY have to do all of that work, right? I'm blonde. It's sort of an unprotected category of special needs, isn't it? Oh my GOD, this is so much work, I can't possibly be expected to do this. Somebody make me a safe space to curl up in, cry and talk about my feelers. Because they're mortally wounded and I can't possibly go on. 

8. It's NOT MY responsibility to support my own kids. I think I should get lots of child support so I can have my life totally funded by somebody else. Because it was just SO HARD getting knocked up. 

I have kids. And I'm a woman. So I think that means that I don't have to work like everyone else. My kids' Dad should have to fund my life, even if I'm a total troll to him and he is already half responsible for them. I need more! I worked really, really hard to lie to him about my ovulatory patterns and get knocked up last time, so he should have to fund my vacations and my wardrobe full of faux paus. I will henceforth make him pay forever for having partaken in my subpar bedroom skills.  

9. It's NOT MY fault that I am lugging around an oxygen tank and have constant stridor when I breathe, and y'all should just fix me. 

Just because I smoked two packs a day for the last 27 years doesn't mean I should have to carry this oxygen tank with me everywhere. And that time that the nasal cannula exploded in my face because I was puffing on a Lucky Strike while wearing my oxygen WAS NOT MY FAULT! So, fix my lungs and my facial burns and reattach my scorched off eyebrows. I shouldn't have to pay the price for my health choices.

10. I have not had a president for EIGHT years, because Barack Obama is NOT MY president. 

I really don't care that people elected him. I mean, no one was listening to me when I was trying to tell them he was a bad idea! So I'm going to continue to sit over here and pout and hate every person who ever voted for him and I will NEVER EVER pray for him or his safety, and I will wish him to keel over from a heart attack while in office. I have never accepted that he won, even though it was EIGHT LONG YEARS AGO. I will hold that grudge to my dying day and that's the end of it.

The things that are NOT MY. 

Sounds legit in the face of the protests, right? 

Hey America, let's all get over ourselves and recognize that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Sometimes we have to work really, really hard for stuff, and sometimes we're going to fail. Sometimes our team wins (Cubs!) and sometimes they don't (Bears). Some really unfair things are going to happen to us, and it's going to make us sick and drive us crazy, but it just is. 
Just go love somebody else, especially if they look, believe, love or think differently than you. It's not a suggestion, it's a mandate from the Creator of the universe.

Now, my cherubs, go forth and take responsibility for thine selves and perhaps, most importantly, 


Friday, November 11, 2016

What To Watch When You Need A Day Of All The Feels.

Ok, so most likely it's a pipe dream that we'd ever get like a whole day to do nothing but watch emotion-inducing crap on tv that gives us all the feels while we lounge braless in our stretchy pants with some fancy coffee and a handful of mini-Reese's cups. Yeah, right. 
Or, maybe we get the opportunity but feel too guilty to actually partake. After all, that cabinet with the good dishes hasn't been dusted out in three years and maybe I should do that instead. 

No. No you should NOT, sister. Don't even think about it. 

Anne Lamott, famous writer (if you don't know her, read her stuff. If you can skip over the overtly liberal jargon and get to the meat of it, you'll love her) has coined a phrase I love: "Practice radical self-care". It's important.

So IF, IF you get the opportunity for a solo day of lounging, practice some radical self-care and watch the things that will give you the feels. IF I got that chance, here's what I'd fire up on the DVR/Hulu/Netflix:

1. This Is Us. 

Have you seen this show?! I have not made it through ONE single episode without crying. And usually it's not the tearing-up kind, but the mascara-running, makeup ruined, sniffling ugly crying. Not just me, either. My husband and I watch it together snuggled up at night, and he hasn't made it through without tears in his eyes! But the kind that makes you feel good, because life makes you FEEL. It's so so so so beautifully written. It's my favorite show in years. Head to Hulu and binge it.

2. American Housewife. 

Another totally relatable show! It's about a mom in suburbia, fleshy, cute and self-conscious, in a sea of upscale skinny b*tches. Starring Katy Mixon (Molly's sister in Mike & Molly, with the dimples, booty and cute voice), it is sharp, witty and real. I haven't watched new sitcoms in a long time, but enjoy this one a lot. It gives you the feels on a lower level than This Is Us.

3. Veep. 

If the feels you need after This Is Us is laughter, THIS. I've been watching Veep from the get-go, and oh, it's so good! You just can't go wrong with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a salty, politically-incorrect and somewhat screwball of a Vice President. The surrounding cast is superb and their dysfunctional little VP family is so fun to watch. Plus, can't go wrong with Anna Chlumsky from My Girl, all grown up and sassy.

4. Snapped. 

When you need to be reminded that those anger feels are best not being acted upon, head on over to the Oxygen channel for a Snapped marathon! Usually every Sunday is all-Snapped, all-day. I have been watching this show since 2007 on maternity leave. I was hooked. It's true crime, all women killers, narrated by a woman with the best voice, that makes you watch wide-eyed and wondering if this crazy got away with it or not. You'll spend the show trying to figure out in the interviews of the perpetrator if she's wearing a jumpsuit or normal clothes, to ease the suspense.

5. The Wendy Williams Show. 

If you want all the feels of being judgy, throwing side eye at stupid celebrities and gaining a best friend (in your head, anyway), check out Ms. Wendy. First, you will want every single outfit and pair of shoes she wears. Second, you will want the hairstyle of whatever wig she's donned that day. Third, she calls people out without abandon, and she's an equal opportunity judgy gal. She really is my best friend in my head.

6. Orange Is The New Black.

I was late to the party on this one because I have an aversion to prison shows/movies, but at my husband's urging, I partook. I am SO glad I did. It's not a perfect show, but it hits you in the gut so many times. You love them, you hate them, you fear for them and you cheer for them. The complex setup in prison is fascinating to watch. And sometimes, you'll cry. You'll also laugh (especially if you love you some Big Boo). This is totally bingeable.

7. Four Weddings. 

I love Four Weddings! I was addicted to it when I was planning our wedding in 2014, and then didn't watch it for a while because I was sad the planning was over, but now I'm back at it. Four brides are chosen in a city and they attend and judge one another's weddings (dress, food, venue, overall) and then whomever scores highest gets a dream honeymoon. The women are SO judgy! It's also just fun to watch weddings and judge them yourself. It will make you want to renew your vows in grand style and steal all of their ideas.

8. Scandal.

This show lost me for a season, after an episode that had the undertones of being anti-cop (I'm watching you, Shonda Rimes). But at some point, after watching the show for YEARS, I needed to check in with my characters. If you haven't seen it I STRONGLY suggest you fire it up on Netflix from the beginning. Olivia Pope is a Washington fixer, the scandals are hard-hitting and it's fun to watch the gladiators unravel the pieces and put someone's life back together. BUT the best part of the show is the relationship Olivia has with the married President of the United States. Clearly, there's a Clinton undertone to that, but you actually ROOT for them (especially when you realize what a power-hungry bitch the First Lady is). Oh. Yep, definitely Clinton undertones.
Too Soon? Ha. 

9. Friday Night Lights. 

Yes, it's been off the air for a few years. I didn't see the show until it was over and put up on a Netflix shelf. My sister in law raved about it, and seeing as I trust her judgment over my brother's (HE DOESN'T LIKE ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE) I gave it a go. It's another one, if you haven't seen it at all, it will poke you in all of your soft spots. You will cry and cheer and love every character. I felt like I was losing my family when I watched the last episode! And no, you don't even have to like or know football.

10. Bloodline.

A Netflix original series that just completed season two, and will only go for three total seasons. You will watch every single episode like this:

The pure family dynamics, the cover ups, the strained and weird relationships are worth watching in and of themselves. AND it stars Kyle Chandler too, the star of Friday Night Lights. He's one hell of an actor. BUT the best part of this show is the backdrop of the Florida Keys, where the family owns an inn. You will be willing to step into their precarious lives JUST to live right there. Bloodline is another show that will absolutely punch you in the gut and you will watch....and watch....and watch....until you cry because it's over. 

So, go make arrangements for the kiddies to go bye-bye for 24 hours. Get your stretchy pants and hair tie and wash your face. No makeup. Throw your bra on the floor, get a box of Kleenex and a bag of Reese's mini cups. If you're PMS-ing, take some evening primrose oil so you don't want to burn the house down when something happens to a character you like. Just take time for you to get lost in someone else's stories. Because, in perspective, your struggles will seem a whole lot smaller when you've seen what happens to Olivia Pope. 

Do you, girl. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Dark Underbelly of Nursing

Most people don't want to hear about it, or know about it. Nursing is consistently listed as the most trusted profession, and we've all read the feel-good stories about how compassionate and kind a nurse was, how he or she saved a life, or how they were there in the darkest moments.

That's all well and good, and there's definitely a majority in the profession who behave as such.

But did you know about how cruel nurses are to one another? 

Many people have heard the saying, that mostly stems from the days of old, almost as a hazing: "Nurses eat their young".  Pretty well all of us in nursing were looked down upon, even scorned, by a preceptor or veteran nurse when we were brand new on the floors, fresh in our fun printed scrubs, unblemished by apathy and burnout. We've all been there.

Perhaps the most disconcerting part of the nursing profession, however, is the sheer cruelty that nurses will rain down on one another.

I was at lunch with a nurse friend today who had a horrible experience in an emergency department, as a veteran nurse. The staff that had opened this particular unit was mostly transferred in from another hospital in the same system. Does this mean the newly hired staff was treated with open arms and bellows of "Welcome aboard, fellow team! We are going to save lives together and we're SO happy that you're here!"

Nope. None of that. You see, some nursing units end up modeling the old, familiar high school clique. Comprised mostly of females who don't want their precious toes stepped on, nor want to compete for accolades against new blood, nurses new to those particular units are treated as outsiders. They aren't invited to the pre-shift little clique meeting in the break room. They're given the shitty room assignments, higher acuity patients, and receive less help from the other staff when they're drowning.

And if someone in the group has an advanced degree, most especially a doctorate in nursing, then ya'll just be prepared to be shit on excessively. 

It can be so ugly out there. It doesn't matter the hospital, the specialty, the area of the country. You can work in a hospital with the most stellar reputation in the land, and it will be like that moment when Mom and Dad look away and a sibling takes a swipe at their little sister and makes her cry. When nobody is looking, the claws come out.

Don't get me wrong, because the majority of my friends are other nurses, and they are the best people I know. But that's because often we've found each other while wading through the muck of personality conflicts and bone-wearying hours. We are lifelines to one another when one of the cliquey broads decides to unleash her wrath. We are teammates in dire circumstances, on opposite sides of the gurney starting IV's, doing chest compressions, bagging, cutting off clothes as someone attempts to take their last breaths against our wills. We are comrades when a physician berates us, or when the new policies come out that inevitably make our jobs even harder.

And so I would say to the nurses who purposely seemingly only exist to belittle other nurses:

You. You once didn't even know how to apply a blood pressure cuff. You took the same tests I did, you had to be a new nurse on your first day, scared out of your mind and timid. Your years of school compared to mine does not provide you a license to be nasty and make someone else's day hell. As a matter of fact, I have enough education, years-wise, to be a physician, so lets just allow you to have several seats. You are not better than the rest of us, we do not grovel at your feet. I DID notice that you are completely devoid of common sense and people skills, however. I'm not surprised you had to go back to school so you wouldn't have to do any ACTUAL patient care or nursing. I see you, I call you out, and I demand that you learn to be kinder and operate in grace for others in a really, really hard job. You are not God, and you are not my Mommy. I do not owe you one iota of respect when you do nothing but terrorize those who have to share your workspace. The old agage is 100% true; you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, and you are ripe with the acridness of vinegar, dear. Honey up.

I am thankful for nurses who have stepped up over the years and voice their displeasure when they see a mistreated coworker. I was humbled when my friend today said that I was one of the only ones who stood up for her when she was treated so badly she went on FMLA for months because of PTSD. I didn't even realize I'd done that. Maybe some of the nasty nurses out there aren't even aware of their behavior because their personality is bruised and scarred over so terribly they don't realize that people dread being in a room with them. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

In the meantime, I ask patients and families to be fully aware of their surroundings; if you see a nurse being belittled, especially in front of you, say something. That nurse may be there taking that for 12 hours a day, on top of the busy, difficult job he or she already has. It's never ok to correct a nurse in front of a patient. There are etiquette rules of the profession, and that's a big one.

To nurses, let's do better. Let's actually help out when we see our coworker drowning. Let's consider that we're all doing a job that saps our energy and emotions most days, on top of the demands of family life. Nursing has one of the highest divorce rates of any profession, even higher than that of physicians. We're eating each other alive, chewing aimlessly and spitting each other out on the floor.

It has to stop. We are the most trusted profession. We care for others all day, at their most vulnerable. We may sometimes feel super-human, but let's remember that we're not. We're vulnerable ourselves. We don't practice radical self care enough when we leave our shifts. We burn out, become jaded and angry.

It doesn't have to be that way. Starting today, let's all do better. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Day 7--God For A Day.

I was doing one of my favorite things tonight, watching football, when suddenly a tripping call by the ref made me laugh. Tripping just sounds like such a stupid penalty, and the thought hit me: what if we could go around in life and just throw yellow flags at people who annoy the bejesus out of us and penalize them? Or better yet, what if we got to be God for like, a day, how would we deal with people? 

Me, I'd be an NFL ref of the planet. And I would rock it. I am hard-pressed to believe that I'd be all grace-granting and loving and stuff. I don't know. Because far too many people have just made me want to chop them in the windpipe, especially in the course of the past year. I have thrown out more side eye in the past twelve months than the previous 39 years combined. I'm pretty sure that me, as God, would look something like a pissed off Dorothy Zbornak in a zebra costume.

First off, I'd stroll around in my outfit, seeking out the screw-ups. It wouldn't be difficult. Because millennials, crazy exes and Rachel Maddow exist. Easy peasy.

"You! Over there! Yeah, you! The one who needs a safe space because a thinking person hurt your sensitive little feelings! That's a penalty. Go watch a Clint Eastwood movie and learn to load a Ruger before you can come back in this life game again." 

Then I'd run upon people who are doing really, really abnormal things, or what I perceive to be abnormal things, in their private time. Remember, I'm omnsicient AND omnipresent today. I just saw what that guy in that dingy little apartment, the trucker hat and the greasy fingers was up to. 

And, just no. 

 Nope, nope nope. Not even gonna look at you, dude, you're just having several seats and it's GON' BE HOT. 

Then there's dealing with people who are just annoying. Like, pulling out 473 coupons at the checkout stand. Driving 9mph in the carpool lane. That lady that brought her seemingly 17 kids to Walmart at 9pm and wants them to go ahead and block the aisles at every turn. I JUST WANT PICKLES, LADY!
People who I want to just flick right off the earth because it seems like they exist just to be a complete evil snail to me (watch The Office. Evil snails are a thing).  They stay in my life like herpes would, and I welcome them about as much as I would a festering outbreak.  

"You. I just really really would like the experience of not knowing you. You have been nothing but a herpatic lesion on my soul. And for that? YOU'RE OUTTA HERE!"

They are therefore banished to the locker room in hell, complete with U2 songs playing on a loop, where the only tv channels are the Golf Channel and QVC and you have to eat vegan forever (this is my hell. Get your own). 

Plus, I get to be the ultimate judge. People are coming to me and complaining about the littlest things, and I get to decide their fate. "Oh, he TRIPPED you? That must have been so traumatizing for you. You know what? That's it. That's holding, on you. For holding me back from enjoying my day as Zebra God with your stupid little problems. That's right. Now you have to get 5 yards away from me." 

It would be a good day. Striking fear into my followers because I'm wearing ominous stripes, and banning people who get under my skin to a vegan life with Rachel Maddow and replays of Tiger Woods (after the whole 14 mistresses and taking a club to the head by his wife thing).

I know that's how I'd roll in my Striped Dorothy God getup.

How would you do God For A Day? 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Sunday Ughs. (#NaBloPoMo Day 6)

We feel it creeping up on us, like a late afternoon shadow that we try and run from. The sunshine and joy that commenced Friday evening and rolled over all the way to Sunday morning is falling away. We get that "Sunday evening blues" feeling, every week. We know that come 5:30, or 6:00am, the week, the grind, starts all over. 
We have been obedient and trustworthy, hardworking and determined. Respectful of authority and dedicated to our companies. We've done this through the years, since finishing college or high school or whatever road we decided to take in those days. 
We've lived a linear, THIS + THIS = THAT existence. We've followed a formula with a promise that at the end of that equation is the answer to life's questions and the realization of our every whim and wish. 


We have our kids to wrangle to get to school, we have dropoffs and conference calls, grocery shopping, hell--we have to somehow figure out dinner before we even consider shopping. We feel uncomfortable in our clothes, every week realizing more and more how hard it's been to fit in a workout and take care of ourselves. Trying to stay up on our manicures and eyebrows and hair trims and Oh God I Need To Color My Roots. Pulling the more expensive moisturizers off of the shelves, purchasing a little bit better--more expensive--makeup because WE'RE 40 SO IT'S ALL DOWN HILL. We're trying to connect with our spouses and somehow get moments with them, and realizing with contempt, fear and eventually despair--that those dreams we packed tightly in our suitcases when we drove off in our tiny cars to college to LIVE THE DREAM, are growing further and smaller and seemingly less attainable as we glance in the rear view everyday. 
The tiny lines are appearing in the corners of our once bright and hopeful eyes. We dream of stronger underwire. We sigh when we walk in to work, confronted with the usual scents and sounds, and feel a pang of sadness and "Is this all there is?" as we begin our days. 

Is this the midlife crisis? Is this what everyone was murmuring about  on tv in 1987, when someone who was 40 seemed so OLD? 

What if we just went for it? What if, this really didn't have to be all that there is? What if we just needed to put in that elbow grease and take a damn chance for once? 

I feel restless. There's another level that God meant for me, and I can't put it down or ignore it. 

What is it? What is that burning that won't leave you alone? What are you daydreaming about in those moments that you want to get up, walk out, let the doors slam behind you and hear the click-click-click of your favorite heels walking away from what holds you captive? 

Maybe, let's break out of the linear mold and zig-zag a little. Stop allowing fear to hold us tight in complacency, glued to the ground around us, being good little midlife girls and boys. 

We weren't given gifts and dreams and talents for nothing. Maybe it's time to figure out what to do with them. For real, yo. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Top Ten Perfect 10 Kick Ass Book Recommendations. READ THESE.

I clearly love to write. Like, LOVE to write. If I am not writing, then I'm thinking about it. I've wandered through years of life thinking that something is weird about me because I'm making constant observations, then, in my head, trying to describe them. Putting together how I would write them down to get someone to understand that exact moment, or feeling. I thought that was just a quirk, thought that it was part of being an introvert; I was never uncomfortable being alone, because I either had a book with me or was thinking about stories. Then I read On Writing, by Stephen King. And suddenly I realized I was part of a club of introverts! A club of talented, story brewing people with an overactive creative dialogue on the inside. Maybe I didn't have the talent that most did, but someone out there UNDERSTOOD my inner self.
It was, at that moment, that I realized that though I could study writing, learn how to improve it, read diverse authors to discover my own flow and voice, I couldn't just MAKE myself have the gift.
The compulsion to write, to describe experience, to story-tell is a gift that has been given to me. I can't deny it, I can't lay it aside because it will terrorize me. It will be my first and my last thoughts of a day. It will shake me in the middle of the workday and demand my attention. It will not be ignored.
Where did it come from? God? Being a book lover since childhood? I have no idea, though I strongly suspect God pointed to me at birth and said, "That one shall write".  I know that is just is, and I will write until my last day or until my mind is a puddle of dementia, whichever comes first.

There are so many books I call to mind when I think of inspiration. I have a love of words. When I hear a new word or a way of describing something, I end up repeating it and fitting it into my own sentences. I even have a folder on my phone that is just entitled "Words". Words I want to use someday. Words that were handed to me on a platter by writers who inspire me with their stories.
So today, I wanted to share the books that I have loved over the years, the ones that intrigued me or touched me and spurred me on to becoming a better writer myself. Or just gave me cool new words to use. The only way I know to describe my favorite books is that they are "gritty". They are usually very raw, very real, the dank, dark corners of life. Just how I like it.

And so I bring you:

Top Ten "Perfect 10" Kick Ass Book Recommendations

1. Bastard out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison

 “Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” –Dorothy Allison,    Bastard Out of Carolina

I read this book in college, for an assignment. This was the book that awakened me. It's a hard story to stomach, from the perspective of an abused and molested girl living in poverty and struggling to survive. It was this book that first connected with me, that there were stories out there that would punch you in the gut and almost make you have to put it down, like looking away from a serious accident.

2. East of Eden, John Steinbeck

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” 
―John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Set in the late 19th century, it is a fictionalized, loosely based version of the biblical Cain and Abel account. It recounts the complexity of family relationships, one thing that never changes, though years and centuries go by.

3. Stiff, by Mary Roach

"They are the same sort of company as people across from you on subways or in airport lounges, there but not there. Your eyes keep going back to them, for lack of anything more interesting to look at, and then you feel bad for staring.”

― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

I LOVE this book. With my autopsy assistant and nursing background and an admitted fascination of forensics and criminology, this is a darkly humorous non-fiction book on the curious lives of cadavers. READ IT.

4. Good In Bed, Jennifer Weiner

“I didn’t feel anything but a bone-deep weariness. Like I was suddenly a hundred years old, and I knew at that moment I would have to live a hundred more years, carrying my grief around like a backpack full of stones.” -Jennifer Weiner, Good In Bed

Jennifer Weiner is probably my favorite writer, because I have connected to her characters more so than any others. She is active with her readers on social media, and has even read this blog and commented on my work! (And it was POSITIVE!). This was her first big book, and the first one of hers that I read. The main character, Cannie, could have been me. Her thoughts, the way she feels about herself, all of it. And for the quote above, having gone through divorce and the fallout from someone else's bad choices, I have felt that more than once. I read this book and said, "I get it". 

5. She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb

“I think... the secret is to just settle for the shape of your life takes...Instead of you know, always waiting and wishing for what might make you happy.” 

This book is so, so good! It is another character whose heartache and sense of self I could connect to. I was even more impressed with the way a male author captured the female being and psyche in such a powerful way. I have read this book at least three times, and for years, this was my very favorite novel. 

6. Cane River, Lalita Tademy

“Reaching too deep into something not meant for you is full of pain. Figure out what you can have and work on that”
― Lalita Tademy, Cane River

This book is incredibly powerful and heart-wrenching. It is the author's family saga, stories of four generations of her female ancestors, from the 1830's to the 1930's, who were born into slavery. Just read it. Understand it. 

7. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

“He could cheat on me and he would never tell me, and he would think less and less of me for not figuring it out. He would see me across the breakfast table, innocently slurping cereal, and know that I am a fool, and how can anyone respect a fool?”
― Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

Who DIDN'T love Gone Girl? A story of a sadistic woman, hell bent on her husband's destruction, but also quite possibly dead? You loathe her. You want to hunt her down yourself. Except--especially concerning the quote above--you get it, a little. And for those who have been the cereal-slurping one in a marriage, you're a little sad you didn't think of this first. It's ok, you can admit it. And, as always, the book far outperforms the movie. 

8. When Breath Becomes Air, Dr. Paul Kalanithi 

“Will having a newborn distract from the time we have together?" she asked. "Don't you think saying goodbye to your child will make your death more painful?"
"Wouldn't it be great if it did?" I said. Lucy and I both felt that life wasn't about avoiding suffering.”
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

This book will plunge a knife into your chest, then leave you to bleed on the floor. A talented, brilliant neurosurgeon and writer writes concerning his own impending death from cancer. The hardest part? Having known him in our tiny Arizona town in high school. Working with his Dad. Going to church with his Mom. He is now a posthumous best seller, and he will break your heart. But oh, what a stunningly beautiful read. I have never cried so much reading a book. 

9. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris

“Use the word “y’all,” and before you knew it, you’d find yourself in a haystack French-kissing an underage goat. Along with grits and hush puppies, the abbreviated form of you all was a dangerous step on an insidious path leading straight to the doors of the Baptist church.” --David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

So, my sister-in-law gets full credit for turning me on to David Sedaris. After reading When Breath Becomes Air, follow it up with this one. Or any of Sedaris' work, for that matter. HE IS BRILLIANTLY HILARIOUS. He is the only author who has caused me to repeatedly laugh out loud until I cry, just by READING. His books are all personal essays of his life, and he is the master. Read everything he has. Just read the quote above and you'll get it. 

10. 11/22/63, Stephen King

“The past is obdurate.” ― Stephen King, 11/22/63

You guys. This is my VERY favorite book in the history of ever. I had the pleasure of reading this book while living in Bangor, Maine, (Stephen King's hometown). I had so much fun walking around town, seeing places from the book (set in fictionalized Bangor) in real life. Also, the historical details fascinated me. In this book, a man in present day ends up discovering a time portal that takes him back to the 1960's. He has the opportunity to potentially stop the Kennedy assassination. I love the detail about living in those times, about the history of the Kennedy assassination, the brilliant love story, and the thought-provoking overall story. IF we could go back and change things, WHAT would come of present day? What would be set in motion, for better or worse? Not only that, but it shows, as the quote says, that the past is obdurate and becomes REALLY pissed if you try and tinker with it. I didn't want this book to end. It is perfection.

And that, my friends, is your new, highly recommended reading list. Maybe you'll learn new words, too! (Like obdurate, right? How GREAT is that word?). 
Read. Read lots. It makes you smarter. 


When She's Done, by C.J. Ventry, COMING SOON!!!