Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Are You 55 or Wiser?

About three months ago I decided to stop coloring my hair. I also started growing it out. There were quite a few reasons for both decisions. First, I was somewhat tired of putting the chemicals on my person. Also, it seemed like a waste of never ending money going down the literal drain. As far as growing it out, well, that is more for personal comfort than anything else. If I want to have it off my neck I’ll be able to pull it back but the option of leaving it down is also appealing. With a chin length bob it’ll still be short but easier to do stuff with.

I drink copious gallons of water every week living in the desert and let me tell you, the hydration is great for my hair even if there are way more grays than I’d like to see sprouting out at age thirty-nine. The water here is hard though so I’ve had to adjust to a more scalp friendly conditioner. That’s okay, I like the apple smell and my hair feels soft.

This morning I went out and got myself a haircut. I told her that I was looking to grow it out to one length and she was fantastic with listening. She did a stack cut in the back to make it look kind of cute and hip. With longer bits in the front on the sides the cut kind of has a youthful edge and I love it. Just getting those mullet-esque pieces off my neck alone made me look lighter, fresher.

With my monthly Scottsdale Society of Women Writers meeting coming up tomorrow night I was looking forward to showing off my new cut but the clothing in my closet is somewhat lacking. I only have a couple dresses that fit me right. And most of my business type outfits are geared toward cooler weather. So after I came home and showered off the hair, I decided to peruse the selection at my local Goodwill Store and see if there might be something cute I could wear to the meeting.

Goodwill is one of my favorite stores to thrift shop in because I never fail to find something brand new, tags still on, that costs half the price (or less) of what it did in the original store it came from. Today was no exception only instead of one item I found two dresses, one pair of shorts, and two tops to match. One dress will be perfect at the meeting. It’s summery white linen with yellow, green and blue flowers dotting the fabric. The dress is soft and feminine and it looks pretty on me which I tend to struggle with most of the time.

While I was pawing through the tops one of my favorite old school club days songs came on. Pick on me if you like but “Dancing Queen” never failed to get me on the floor. Its slower and always a good one at weddings or to get all the girls together to shake some booty. Hey don’t judge me, I was clubbing eighteen years ago. And plus it wasn’t like I was in the clubs when the song first came out or anything.

Anyway, as soon as the familiar intro began I smiled. The song takes me back to specific days in the past; days I’m happy to leave in the past but still great times in my life. I flipped through a handful of tops that would have made an appearance at said clubs back in the day. Clothes I know I have no business wearing anymore. With those tops still on the rack I continued on.

I spent about an hour in the store trying things on and when I was done I headed for the open register. There was a taller kid, I’d guess about eighteen, working the register. I felt the irony that his mom was probably pushing him out into the world as I was applying mascara that would inevitably make its way halfway down my face before the night was over. We exchanged the usual pleasantries:

“Hi how are you today ma’am?”
“I’m fantastic thanks, how are you?”
“I’d be better if I got more than one hour of sleep last night.”
“Oh bummer.”
“Yeah, up ‘til about three in the morning.”
“Wow, I’m usually asleep for five hours by three in the morning.” I said and smiled.

I let the ma’am slide because in reality I could be this kid’s mother so it didn’t really bother me. Plus I always think it’s more polite than calling me lady or miss. I glanced down at the counter and started reading. There’s a charity donation going on and when he asked me the next thing I thought that’s what he was referring to so I said no thanks. He continued to stare at me for a second so I asked ‘wait, what?’ and he repeated:

“Are you fifty-five or wiser?”

I literally blinked for a full second and stared at the kid. Now don’t get me wrong, I know maybe I look more my age these days with the sporadic gray hairs and couple extra pounds around the mid-section but for goodness sake I’m not sitting home waiting for my AARP card or anything. Like I said, I could be the kid’s mother. Not his grandmother.

“Um, no.”

He proceeded to ring up my purchase, I paid him and thanked him then headed out to the car.  As I pulled away all I could think was that maybe it’s time to look into henna. And go dancing.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sir Matt

There are days when I feel like my husband should be knighted for his awesomeness. Or maybe proclaimed to be a saint. Because most of the time he just can’t help doing the right thing without a single moment of hesitation. Saturday August 18 was one of those times.

Normally this knee-jerk reaction to him needing high fives for being a good-person-overachiever has to do more with the fact that he’s somehow managed to put up with my ass for the past thirteen or so years. But on Saturday Matt just jumped into action like there wasn’t a question about it.

Late afternoon on Friday my Mom came up and planned to spend the weekend. We hung around for a couple hours and chatted before Matt got home. While we were hanging out the movie “It Could Happen to You” came on and we ended up watching the whole thing sitting there in our bathing suits. We were getting in the pool but that movie is so dang cute neither of us wanted to stop watching.

So what does any of that have to do with Matt’s newly bestowed title? Well Nicholas Cage plays the leading man, Charlie Lang, a cop in NYC who never fails to do the right thing when it comes to being a decent human being. His wife in the flick (Rosie Perez) can’t understand how he could have promised half of their lottery winnings to some random waitress (Bridget Fonda). But Charlie doesn’t back down on his promise. He never stops being a kind, generous and wonderful person despite all the crap that gets thrown at him.

The movie came out in 1994. I promised myself after watching it that I would find a guy just like Charlie as the leading man in my own life. Maybe he screws up occasionally, maybe he isn’t perfect, but somewhere deep down in the depths of his soul he’s just a decent and kind human being.

Well by some miracle of fate, I happened to find the real life Charlie and even more odd, they’re both from New York!

On Saturday morning we all discussed taking a road trip to somewhere none of us had ever been before. With Sunset Crater chosen as our destination, we hit the open road and headed north toward Flagstaff. The place was pretty cool, lots and lots of lava flow rocks from the volcano that erupted only about 1000 years ago. But the place we really wanted to see was up the road – an 800 year old pueblo that was mostly still standing. Um, cool!

We made it there about an hour before sunset and headed up the short path to this former house on top of a rock. There were two other groups there at the same time as us (which was weird because it was in the middle of nowhere. On our way up the path the couple with the fancy-pants camera set-up made their way back to the parking lot with a scowl. I wanted to say ‘gee, sorry to interrupt your photo op in this public state park’ but kept my mouth shut. The other group was a mom and what looked to be her two teenage children.

Mom, Matt and I explored the various rooms and the last three people eventually left. We had the place to ourselves so we acted a little dorky and took a whole bunch of pictures. Like this one taken earlier:

We headed back out to see that we weren’t alone in the parking lot. The minivan with the small family was still sitting there. Which I thought was strange because they’d taken off at least fifteen minutes before we made our way back to our car. The daughter was walking towards us. All of a sudden I hear “Excuse me, can you help us with a tire? We have a flat.”

Oh no.

Here’s what it looks like out there:


Luckily they had a jack and a spare. But this was a minivan, not a car with a trunk or a Jeep with a tire mounted to the back. Take a wild guess where the tire was located? Give up? Yeah, it’s under the vehicle. You have to use this weird contraption that forms the shape of a T and release some cable – done from the inside the vehicle - in order to drop the thing down so you can access the donut.

Now my phone chose this exact moment to die so the most important pictures weren’t even captured. Stupid roaming killing my battery too quickly!

But here’s a free piece of advice for everyone out there – NEVER approach a writer who is currently working on a suspense novel when she and her family are in the middle of nothingness, without another soul around, the Ranger’s station approximately two miles away, and a situation that is way too obvious as a trap because she won’t actually believe all you need is help changing a tire until you’ve already driven away with a donut attached to your car.

Here’s how the situation went in my head – the teenage boy takes the contraption shaped like a T, knocks Matt over the head with it and then kidnaps Mum & me to sell us into some kind of underground slavery ring while Matt lies bleeding out at the end of a dead end street in the middle of the desert.

Yeah, I really gotta find a way to separate fantasy from reality.

Because the actual scene looked a lot more like this:

Yeah, yeah. Perhaps I’m just slightly biased as to the inherent sexiness of my husband in a crisis situation but I think all five of us who were standing there watching him jack up that minivan to replace the tire would agree that he’s pretty kick-ass.

And nary a tire iron swung at anyone’s head during the entire experience. Imagine that!

They thanked us profusely and said “can we give you anything for your trouble?” Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly wouldn’t accept a dime from someone in this situation, we were all just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, but I thought it was kind of them to offer anyway.

Matt said “all you can give me is the knowledge that you get home safely tonight.” Seriously, who’s in charge of the sword on the shoulder thing? I’ve got your candidate right here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pretty Vacant…

Being a Writer, being a rock star…what’s the difference really? For me, I’m not sure there is much of a difference. We’re both out there workin’ it to try to sell some kind of image or piece of work that we poured a big chunk of our heart and soul into creating. The sweat, tears, frustrations, celebrations, nights out, nights in, flexing of that creative muscle all blend into one carefully crafted piece of artistic expression.

Ugh, even writing that last line kind of makes me want to gag it sounds so cheezy (though it’s true). Which makes me notice one very important fact.

This week I’m starting to feel like the hotel trashing, punk rock type.

I’ve got a deep desire to toss television sets off of tenth story balconies and its starting to boil. I have to do something with it before it blows. Before I go and throw something, anything, that is.

I’m at the part of my manuscript where I’m trying to break through the plastic wrap that’s stretched across the train tracks of word count. I’m pushing and pushing at what feels like full steam but it seems the wrap is too thick to break through. It’s like I’m fighting the man.

Facing that makes me want to do one of two things. Either give up entirely…or say fuck it, I will write that scene and to hell with you if you think I can’t. That’s right bitch. You heard me.

Don’t I sound all gangsta and shit?

Did I spell gangsta correctly?

It pretty much all comes down to this - even though I would personally never do what they’re about to do, I’m not my characters. They would do whatever it is. That’s the story that needs to be told. I can’t let my personal feelings interfere with their personalities. Not everyone is the same. My character in this most recent manuscript is similar to me in only the following four ways – she’s late thirties, married, is a writer, and lives in Phoenix.

But she’s like a rock star – up all night, globe-trotting, moving and shaking quick, quick, quick! Well she has to be (details on that later) and I have no choice but to tell exactly what she needs me to tell. This isn’t my memoir, mofos, if I’m going to tell someone else’s story then I can’t let my own infiltrate the pages.

But I’ve also come to learn that I’m also just like a punk rocker right now. Well…sort of.

  • I am in dire need of copious gallons of certain substances just to keep going.
    • I would, of course, be referring to coffee.
  • There are days when I’m cool while other days I say fuck the man and skip my gig on purpose just to screw with the system.
    • When the faucet’s off you’ll find me strung out on almonds and blueberries, sitting on my sofa all day long, watching the Lifetime Movie Network. This is no different from days where I’m inspired, of course. On those days I have a laptop in my lap so I click away for eight hours with granola and LMN.
  • My co-workers have been known to kick things, break stuff, and/or punch people.
    • Of course all my co-workers are located in my head so I can pretty much let them run amok without real things, stuff or people being kicked, broken or punched. But it’s still fun even when it’s not real.
  • I go to bed and wake up at ungodly hours.
    • Lately I’ve been known to fall asleep at 10PM and wake up before 6AM. Watch out, I’m crazy like that. I may even stay awake until eleven. Lock up anyone you’re close to…I’m obviously way out of control.
  • Sometimes I go almost full days without eating and rely on drugs to get me through.
    • Caffeine and nicotine kept me alive over the Christmas seasons in the early nineties while working at Victoria’s Secret , so its sure to be enough now too, right? Well, that and the granola.
  • I portray the image of a crazy as hell fantasy world because I live it, yo.
    • All day long I have to allow my mind to embrace an entirely different life so I can accurately express the story my characters are trying to tell. It’s like being an actor without a camera. That shit can be exhausting.
  • I’ve been known to trash a room or two in my day.
    • You should see how much dust there is on my entertainment center and seriously, there isn’t a single dish in the cabinet because they’re all either clean in the dishwasher or dirty beside the sink waiting for the dishwasher to be emptied and refilled. When I’m on a roll writing 3500+ words in a day there’s not a minute to spare to deal with real life. Pffft.

So maybe I am a little punk rock after all. At least in my own way.

Anyway, the writing in this case is actually going pretty well. I’m behind the CampNaNoWriMo goal by a little over a day’s word count, but I’m not all that nervous to be honest. Making it to 50k by the end of August isn’t my main objective. It would be cool, sure, but what I really want is the bones for a solid book concept not just 50,000 useless words I never end up doing anything with.

For those of you that aren’t writers (or have even a teeny bit of interest in hearing about the random day-to-day of one) I’ll apologize right now. Because over the course of the next month or so that’s all you’re likely to read about over here. If I write anything here at all. MS3 is in process and lit up like pyrotechnics on the big stage right now.

On second thought, forget that. No I’m not really sorry that’s all you’ll be reading about. I take it back, this is my blog and I’ll write about writing if I want to. So there.

Yeah! That’s right! Punk rock, bitch!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sharing Is Caring

Or something like that. I’m not really one to take a cue from a giant purple dinosaur on the clichés I follow in life, but there have been a few developments around here recently that I want to let everyone know about. And I like to imagine you all enjoy reading about my mundane life – you know, that you all care.

However, just like in a book where a writer should never double reveal**, I’m feeling like most of you might know all this already because we’re friends or follow each other on other social networks. So if that’s the case, well, tough crap because I’m posting it anyway.

Yeah, I know Barney isn’t much for the cursing. Well too bad, this is my blog and I’ll share as I see fit damn it.

First major thing that happened is my husband was officially diagnosed with high blood pressure. Scary, freaking crash-cart dangerously high. He found out back in February but decided to live in denial for months until his father all but dragged him to the doctor himself. I’m not going to go into all the details, if you want to read about his / our journey with getting healthier this past month I encourage you to check out what I wrote as a Guest Poster on the EcoEtsy team blog called “Changing Our Lifestyle Choices to Improve Our Health”.

The good news about this is that Matt went back to the doctor just this morning and not only is he in much better shape than his first visit but he’s been given a lowered dose of the medication he was originally prescribed. Hooray! And it’s only been one month. And we haven’t even started exercising yet. Nor have we quit smoking. This is all due to a lowered dose of medication and diet alone. I’m proud of him, proud of us, and glad I’m going to have him around for another few healthy decades.

The most major thing that happened to me recently however no one really knows about except the few family members I’ve shared the news with in person. Through an old friend’s husband my book has been placed in circulation at the Newton Public Library in Massachusetts.

Holy shit!

Never felt that excited before, truly it was one of the coolest feelings in the world when she told me that he got authorization to purchase a copy on Amazon to place on the library shelves. And then I started thinking about how I can get more copies into libraries so I did some research…

The Newton library is part of the Minuteman Network which includes numerous locations in and around the northwest suburbs of Boston. If a person were to request my book the inter-library network could deliver to Lexington (for example) from Newton. And apparently the more people who line up to request it, take it out and return it the more copies can be purchased.

Say I know a lot of people in Lexington (per example above). If all those people requested copies from Newton be delivered to the LPL (and there’s only the one copy in current circulation) it’s pretty likely that Lexington will get authorization to purchase copies for their shelves too. And so on.

So for all my friends and family in and around Boston who have library cards for the Minuteman Network, can I ask for a huge favor? Next time you’re looking to pick up a few library books can you request Ripple the Twine as well please? Even if you’ve already read it, even if you own a copy, I’d be so very appreciative for anyone who has a chance to request it, pick it up and return it. Even if it gets returned the next day. It will really help.

In other book news…

My MS2? Yeah, I don’t know how to write out the sound effect of a raspberry while I give a double thumbs-down but that’s the general deal with that book right now. I hate it, hate the story, hate the characters and hate that I felt forced into it every time I sat down to work on it. So I kind of said to hell with convention and started MS3. I’d kicked around this idea last week and followed my gut into an entirely new world.

It’s very different from my first novel. Genre wise I mean. And I kind of don’t care. I’m over 4000 words in so far and plan to get at least another 2000 written today. I’m doing a CampNaNoWriMo so a goal is to get the 50,000 words out by August 30 but my real goal is to get the novel written. I’m guessing for a suspense I should be in the neighborhood of 75k.

And in the spirit of that I guess I need to get back to working on this new book so I have something to share with the SSWW Critique Group this Wednesday.

August. Gonna be a busy one!

**Double reveal - when the narrative shares a scene and then a character talks about the exact same thing in dialogue. It’s redundant and generally used as a device to expand word count. Seen as almost an insult to the reader, because if the story was written well to begin with they wouldn’t need to be reminded of the plot point twice. Readers aren’t idiots, they can, and do, keep up.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Is It No Longer Okay to Say I Want to Make Money?

Does everyone remember the 1980’s? When movies like Wall Street gave us heroes like Gordon Gekko and songs like “Material Girl” were topping the charts; infiltrating the consciousness of every consumer who held a card regardless if it was gold, platinum, or basic plastic. The word of the day was “excess” back then. The more you could get your hands on the better. And if that ‘more’ was associated with money, well, there was literally no shame present in anyone who had it. They loved it.

Or as Gekko would say “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”

So when did it become okay to remember the 1980’s as a time when we used AquaNet to kill the ozone (and how great it is that we all care so much now that we’ll never do that again), but not the money we made to buy those superfluous neon pink shoe laces?

When did it become chic to start saying “Money? Oh I hate money.” Because, quite honestly, I will be the first to admit that I don’t.

Okay, I should maybe back up here before all the people with homemade solar powered torches come and hunt me down to (slowly) burn me in effigy. Because it’s not that I want to run out and get a bad perm then don one of the 14 different acid washed jean jackets in my closet while I roll around in a pile of money screaming “ITS ALL MINE MWAH HAHAHA!”

All I’m looking for is to make a living from what I do.

Why is that suddenly a taboo subject? Why is it okay to talk ad infinitum about what we do, but when the topic of how much we make comes up, we all just smile and say “do what you love and the money will come.” Because no matter what the crunchy-crunchy movies and suddenly-rich motivational speakers try to feed you, they all got rich before they were asked to be in that movie.

Hello? Am I the only one picking up on this? Am I the only one who realizes that it’s the rich people telling us not to be bothered with money? That we should just keep piddling away doing things that don’t make us any but for $24.95 you too can have their hardcover book telling you how to live a simple life.

I’ll tell you right now for free.  Sell out.  Sell out and then start selling your book to thousands of people for $24.95 and that’s how you too can live a simple life free of greed. Fucking hypocrites.

Well I’m not a hypocrite. I’ve finally admitted what every single entrepreneur in the world is too shy to admit – that I actually enjoy working for a living it’s just that there’s way too much working and not enough making a living right now, if you catch my drift.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure you do.

Can’t there be a balance? I mean I’m not trying to say I want to make millions of dollars that I intend to throw away on useless crap like hundreds of bracelets made out of rubber. But I’d love to be able to afford that organic hoo-ha. You know, the one that helps out another entrepreneurial type person. Sadly, if we’re not allowed to say we want to sell our products to make money well we’ll never get our hands on that hoo-ha; they don’t come cheap.

But if the local type person can sell an organic hoo-ha to me, proudly and without shame, at their Farmer’s Market booth for about three times the cost of picking it up at some big box conglomerate (READ: 1980’s throw back shop, shop, shop!) then why am I not allowed to start running around saying that I’d like to sell hundreds (millions!) of my hoobie-doos?

Thing is that old sly bitch known as the Catch-22 rears its ugly head. Unless you buy mine I can’t afford to buy yours. The real trick is that the Organic hoo-ha purveyor is saying the same thing as me. So neither of us can afford to buy each other’s thing and we both suffer.

Well I’m here today to say I’m tired of all the polite smiles and hopeful glances. I want to sell my hoobie-doos and I plan to share that with every single person I meet.

People talk about Artists selling out like it’s a bad thing – oh the horror! – but selling out means nothing more than actually selling whatever it is you’ve got to a much wider audience. And who freaking cares? I sure wouldn’t care. I’m more than willing to “sell out” if it means more people are enjoying my hoobie-doos and that I’m able to afford the basic necessities of life like Organic hoo-has and a roof over my head.

Because every cliché in the world can sell you on the concept that money doesn’t buy happiness but what no one ever says is that there’s a strong possibility you’ll be very un-happy if you don’t have enough to maintain even the simplest of lifestyles.

And I’m really quite tired of being the happiest broke-as-a-joke person on the planet.