Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Limboland - Just Passing Through

Do you ever get the feeling you're trapped between where you are and where you're supposed to be? You know, wedged in that awkward, cramped, growing-out-of-your-shoes place. That stuffy, running-low-on-oxygen, throw-me-a-line place.
Let's call it Limboland.
It's a perpetual state of waiting. You can see things there, although they're a long way off. The best part is that they are in sight. The worst is that you can't quite reach them. Yet.
It's Limboland.
If you have no patience there you're basically screwed. No amount of mental maneuvers will help to quell the itch. You tell yourself it's a growth thing. You shake off the mood when it strikes and pull out the nearest mantra you can find; preferably one that can soothe you.
Like Joseph Campbell's words: We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
You try your best to philosophize, be bigger, better than you feel deep down inside.
Wear your bravest face, your brightest, shiniest smile.
You can fool most of the people some of the time. But you can't fool yourself. Ever.
It's Limboland. The mirrors there point inward. The reflection is what you'd prefer not to see.
Mostly it's just about hurry up and wait. That age-weary conundrum.
2010's been a great deal of Limboland for me. That said, there were good moments. Some very, very good moments. Greasing-the-wheel moments.
And now my wish for 2011... I hope to set those wheels in motion and roll. Even if it's a slow roll. There's always 2012 to pick up the speed.
I long to leave Limboland behind. It's a great place to visit but you don't want to forward your mail there. It's best to pass right on through.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

To E-Read or not to E-Read

As usual, the week before Christmas finds me doing the obvious. Spring cleaning. I think it's the newly acquired clutter; the boxes, bells and whistles of the season. Makes me want to purge. Makes me want to toss just about everything that isn't tied down. (Being sufficiently claustrophobic lends itself to this subconscious need.)
So there I was, assessing the clutter in my bedroom where one entire large armoir is designated to house my ever-mounting collection of books. I hadn't realized how colossal this gathering had become. After I packed up a care package to donate to a friend, I pondered the age-new dilemma:
Should I get one of those E-Readers? Like the Kindle, or the Nook?
Pros - I do love technology.
It's better for the environment (less destruction of trees, less waste)
Any book at your fingertips in a matter of minutes
Save a trip to the bookstore
Cons - You can't smell the pages
You can't hold that binding in your hands
At some point it may run out of battery power
No trips to the bookstore
The debate rages on.
Still I think if Santa's listening I might, just maybe, err on the side of the pros. If for no other reason than to keep up with the flow of the times as they roll on by. So, if one of those E-Readers, like the Kindle or the Nook should happen down my chimney...I wouldn't be too upset. After all, if I begin to experience the signs of withdrawl, if I am overcome by the desire to have an ACTUAL book in my hands, thankfully I can always do so.
That is all. Dustpan, please.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Other Side of Leaving

Fifteen minutes ago I dropped her off (the first born, the Independent Spirit) at a bright and shiny University a couple hours from home where they would teach her a thing or two or three.
Fifteen minutes ago I had no idea how I was going to get along without her.
Fifteen minutes ago I said I wouldn't cry (but I did anyway.)
Fifteen minutes ago I imagined she'd be away forever.
And fifteen minutes ago I fell into a time machine. It morphed minutes into days and days into years - 3 and 1/2 of them to be exact.
Now it seems I'm on the other side of the leaving. The first born, the Independent Spirit is coming home again. To stay. Graduating early. She's bright and shiny, too.
Sound the bells.
Alert the media.
Batten down the hatches.
As the saying goes..."she's baaaaackkk."
What goes around really does come around.
In fifteen minutes - give or take.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Take Good Care

The literary world lost one fine author today. Elizabeth Edwards was perhaps best known for being the estranged wife of the politician whose indiscretions made headlines (and allowed another undeserving woman her 15 minutes of fame.) Elizabeth Edwards was also a breast cancer victim.
But she was a writer, too. Her books are more than accounts of her trials & tribulations, her illness, her family, the scandal. They are the story of a life. Her words were beautifully crafted as in this excerpt from "Resilience..." wherein she describes her father: "...the images of my well father, strong and full of life, gathered on top of one another. Eating a hot pepper from his garden in Naples and thinking it a green pepper, his face goes flush, tears fills his eyes, his glasses fog up, but he chews on." Gorgeous. This book is on my nightstand now and I look forward to reading on.
I wanted to take a moment to wish the family of Ms. Edwards my condolences at their tremendous loss. I also wish to make a public service announcement about the importance of being as diligent as possible about getting yearly exams. This is of the utmost urgency for women but men should take good care, too.
May God bless and keep you close, Elizabeth.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Dog Eat Dog Book World

They're calling it the "dogoir." It's the latest craze to hit the publishing circuit. Books "written" by dogs. They'e actually making the bestseller list. I can't say I'm the least bit disturbed by this phenomena. As you may have concluded by now, I'm a huge fan of our four-legged friends. Stories like the one about that rascal Marley and the one about the dog who became attached to a Marine who then got deployed and the mutt traveled for days and days until he found the man in the middle of the desert.
I can't get enough of those tales about how dogs have been the ones to save their owners from some seizure that was likely to have taken their life.
Okay so then what?
I love my dear little pup. But she hasn't really given me much in the way of a fresh plot. Now, I could stretch the truth; make up some little ditty about how my prized pet can answer the phone or push the vacuum or something equally noteworthy. But to be honest she hasn't barked out a snappy holiday tune. She can't manage to hold a pen in her paws or manipulate a keyboard.
(She plays a mean game of soccer though.)
I will simply say that having her in my life has made the whole thing bearable. Brighter. Sweeter, kinder.
And I promised myself I wouldn't get all gooey. Doggone it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Love ISN'T All You Need.

When the oldest kid phoned from college last week she opened with, "Guess what?"
If you aren't a parent, allow me to enlighten. The answer to that question is almost never good.
Seemed as if she found a teeny tiny kitten and decided to play foster mom.
If you've never been on the other side of that scenario allow me to enlighten. The outcome is almost never good.
You see, we have a small somewhat neurotic pup who pretty much owns this place we call home.
Leaves blowing in the wind tend to freak her out. Need I say more?
I knew my daughter was going to fall head over heels over head, tumbling in love like Jill down that hill. It was basic math. 1 Terminally Cute Kitty + Just About Anyone = Tru Luv 4 eva.
As much as I hated to be the one to bring the party down, I had to. It's not the right time for us to add another branch to our family tree. And pets cost money, i.e. - vets visits, food and paraphernalia.
Please don't get me wrong. I LOVE me some animals.
If I had a bigger house and budget I'd invite them all to drop by and hang a while. But I don't.
Lucky for me, my firstborn is a level headed kid. With only months to go before she graduates she knew she would be a little busy in the coming weeks.
She reluctantly found another home for the unofficial cutest kitten on the face of the earth.
I am pleased to report that Roo (yep she named it) is doing very well.
Lesson here? Love isn't really all you need. Sorry to disagree with those nice boys from England.
And now I return to life as I knew it with another crisis averted. Phew.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Antics & Angst of Author X

So she and I went to lunch this past weekend. She updated me on her stats. Her face had doom and gloom written all over it.
Author X is convinced it's "never going to happen for me in this or any other lifetime."
Even though she's had two requests for her full manuscript.
"Rejection is my middle name. I must have really pissed somebody off in the karma world," she informed me.
There's a new list of rituals. She claims they are helping deal with the frustration.

Munching on pencils until her teeth hurt.
Positive mental affirmations most of which sound like this:
I love my writing even if nobody else does.
Wearing two different color socks. (I'm still not sure what purpose this serves.)
Researching new agents.
Stalking agents with her material on Twitter.
The Revenge Query.

I did my best to assure her that she's not in this alone. Every single writer knows exactly what she's feeling.
Heck - I know exactly what she's feeling.
In fact, her experience is too close for comfort. I sit patiently waiting for the release of my first novel, pondering what 2011 will have in store for me. My second novel is about ready to roll and I'm plotting the third. When I really start think about it it's practically unnerving.
What's a girl to do?
Pencil anyone?

Monday, October 25, 2010

She Ain't Heavy - She's my Sister

A recently released book is blowing the lid off the "sisterhood" scam. The idea being that girls/women aren't actually the BFFs everybody thinks we are. The idea being that in reality as a collective gender we are fiercely competitive, secretly aggressive and constantly measuring ourselves against our fellow females.
You might presume I'm here to insist otherwise.
Not so.
In fact I've said this all along. To myself. To anyone who would listen. Experience is a solid teacher. Can't argue with the truth as it comes to be known to you - firsthand.
Throughout my years as a young girl, I've had girls come into and out of my life. I've witnessed the unspoken rivalries, the insidious way some females have of sprouting claws just before they move in for the scratch and pounce. The supposed best of friends morphing into the treacherous Mean Girls.
It's sad but oh so true.
Case in point. This past month a female friend of mine was invited to her 25-year high school reunion. She immediately flew into a panic. "I have to lose ten pounds, fast," she told me. I assumed it was so that she could look her best for her old boyfriend, aka: the jerk that dumped her three weeks before the prom. Make him wish he'd never let her go. But no. That wasn't it. "Are you kidding? I want to one-up all those snotty bitches that thought they were better than me back then." And by snotty bitches she actually meant her former girlfriends, members of her very own clique.
Ahh celery stalks - here she comes.
As for me - I consider myself lucky now in that my very best girlfriend and I have an honest, trusting and rival-free relationship. But it took decades of drama to reach this result. Kind of like climbing a mountain in four inch heels. Very tricky. Have to watch your step.
Perhaps this new book will serve as a wake-up call. As women we should be a cumulative force of reckoning. We should band together in support of our similarities and not rip one another apart for the sake of envy and certainly not for the sake of a man.
And yet I fear it's more a force of nature rather than conditioning.
We are ladies first and sisters second. As the saying goes: It is what it is.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prose & Prejudice (Points to Ponder)

It isn't about discrimination. And I promise I'm not in the bratty mood I was in one post ago. I'm just pondering classic literature. Oliver Twist, The Call of the Wild, Little Women to name just a few. To achieve that level of success. The proper word escapes me. Envy isn't quite right. Neither is jealousy. After all, I cut my teeth onthose four sisters and that dog, Buck. But those authors: the likes of Dickens, London and Alcott, Jane Austen, Stevenson. They make me sigh and say, "Wish I wrote that."
Also makes me wonder who our modern day classic writers are? Would Rowling fit the bill? Surely if sales are any indication. What then of Meyer, or Patterson or King?
Seems to me lately that the population of todays world is split into two types of people.
Those who write and those who don't.
Were that true then approximately 3 billion people are slumped over their keyboards at this very moment attempting to concoct a brand new way of saying the same old thing that's been said time and time again. And said VERY well at that. Is there really a novel way to spin a tale thats been spun and re-spun more than a hula hoop in the 1960's?
I wonder what the competition was like back in the days of Emerson and Irving? Was Whitman reading Tolstoy and thinking, "Damn, now that's good." Was Andersen mulling over Aesop with a "Why didn't I think of that?"

And now we return to our regularly scheduled programing. Unless you have Cable TV.
In that case we'll be back with you when we settle our financial wrangling.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Ruckus

What's worse than a cranky writer? A cranky writer with a platform.
Okay, so here's my beef. If I hear of one more actor/actress/singer/or somebody already famous, writing and releasing a book/novel, I'm going to scream.
It's not that they aren't people with the same passion for the written word as many of us lesser known (or completely unknown) authors. It's not that they aren't as capable or as entitled to coin a catchy phrase or two. But come on you guys, give the rest of us a break. Can't you simply be satisfied with being a household name, wealthy, and more often than not - envied just for being you? Do you really have to throw your already well-worn hat into a terrifically overcrowded book market?
I'm suggesting some consideration for us little guys. It's hard enough to compete with the millions of other non-famous writers vying for an inch or two of shelf space at Borders. Really hard.
(Blogger stomps foot. Pouts. Leaves the room without picking up her toys.)
Okay, I'm back. So sorry for that teeny rant. I hope no innocent stars were injured in the ruckus.
I'll get over it. It's Monday. It's raining. And my back hurts. Goes with the territory.
(Blogger offers a smile.)
Thanks for the ear.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

She is not a-MUSEd

The Muse is a terribly fickle creature. One day she is generous to a fault, supplying new words and ideas without making any demands. And on other days she's a goner. Split to who-knows-where without so much as a forwarding address or a formal goodbye.
But then there's those in-between days. The ones where I'm sure I can write something but it'll require far more effort than I feel like putting forth. I call those moments my Avoidance Times. I've become quite the avoidance aficionado. Instead of writing I've been known to:

Vacuum under the couch cushions.(Today I found one black sock, the dog's bone, 3 extra-cheddar Goldfish crackers, and a dried up felt tipped marker.)

Choose a name for my next child (even though I have no intention of having anymore kids in this lifetime.)

Watch E-TV or Judge Judy.(Or American Idol or Modern Family.)

Put on my headphones and sing out loud to my entire IPOD playlist. (This if only the pup is home since she doesn't seem to mind the noise.)

To name just a few.
The Muse generally stands on the sidelines, tapping an impatient toe, signalling that she's waiting for me to cut the nonsense and get down to business.
She threatens to embark on a semi-permanent hiatus.
"You'll miss me," she warns.
And she's right. She scares me straight. Then I'm at it again. Typing, thinking, plotting and typing some more.
There is NO rest for the weary writer. I'm just sayin'...

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Wonderful Life of Author X (A Mini-Series)

A very dear writer friend of mine has just completed her first manuscript. She's polished it up and has recently entered Query Hell, otherwise known as - the search for a literary agent. Bless her oblivious soul. She's given me permission to document the events of the past few months. It is with the utmost empathy that I report on her progress. For the sake of all that's decent - I'll refer to her as Author X.

Author X - (one day post querying approx. 10 agents): I'm feeling really positive. This is the beginning of great things for me. I've consulted 2 different psychics. Do the words,"Oprah" and "six-figure deal" mean anything to you? Eek. I have to check my e-mails. Again.

Me: Uh-huh.

Author X (one week post queries): I got my first five rejections. Funny. They all said the same exact thing. I need some chocolate and Tylenol. This hurts.

Me: Uh-huh.

Author X (second week post queries): There must be something wrong with my inbox. I'm not getting any new messages. Do you have the phone number to hotmail?

Me: No.

Author X (during week 3): Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I got a request for 50 pages!!! Life is good after all. I'm on my way!

Me: Uh-huh.

Author X (at week 6): Please help me. I can't stop refreshing my e-mails. Please. Help.

Me:(suggests trip to movies without internet access and a bottle of Patron.)

Author X (week 8): The agent sent a form R on my partial. How does anyone EVER get published? This is impossible. I'll never write another word again as long as I live.
I suck. Really bad. I need more chocolate. More Tylenol.

Me: Uh-huh. (presents Hershey's, aspirin and extra large Patron.)

What are friends for?

To be continued...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hold Fast

As a native New Yorker, it seems only fitting on this day, when a nation remembers a tragic event it would sooner forget - I dedicate this space to those who lost their lives senselessly, heroically, and without fair warning.
If you were anywhere else in the country on that September morning, you watched from your TV sets. Another gory program. Was it real? Or was it Hollywood glorifying violence yet again? But from here, where I live, less than 50 miles away from Ground Zero, it was the worst kind of reality. I can still recall stepping out my front door, hours, even days later and breathing in the odd scent in the air. Burning. Smoldering.
I ponder on this day, the topic of dreams once again. Only this time on a larger scale. Not just my own. The dreams of peace and what our world would be without prejudice, anger and hate. I think about the beautiful words of Langston Hughes who wrote:
"Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly, Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams go, Life is a barren field, Frozen with snow."
The same can be said for hope. Hope for tolerance and sensitivity. Hope for our own future, for our children, for our dreams.

Disclaimer: Personal Opinion to Follow:
And just like so many others who have weighed in on the latest controversy...I have an opinion. Of course. I respect all those whose beliefs I don't quite understand. I wish them no harm or foul. However, I am a human being first, chock full of raw emotion and a sense of decency. A human first, a citizen of the Constitution second. It is with the utmost reverence that I add my two cents worth:
Dude - take the party someplace else.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Story of a Boy

One day, 18 years or so ago, a little boy wandered into my life via my womb. He proceeded to charm me and frustrate me like only a boy can do. All running, climbing, going, doing, moving. All boy. All the time. I watched him grow, the way boys do - into and out of their clothes and limbs (with far less grace than his sister but with far less drama, I might add.)
One day, just 24 hours ago, he wandered off to college. There he'll surely charm and frustrate his professors like only a young man can do.
What's that they say about things that happen in the blink of an eye? I'll tell you what happens...your tiny babies tower over you. They go, and do, and move in the exact opposite direction of you. It's how it's meant to be. In this tale which is the same as so many others written by parents whose kids aren't really kids anymore.
Let's face it. Mothers grow people.
And so it goes - in this story of a little boy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dreams et al

I was deeply saddened recently to hear a tale of a fellow writer who after the very long, very arduous task of completing a manuscript and then (even more arduously) securing a contract with a literary agent, proceeded to pass away within a week of the latter. I'm not sure what it was about this news that struck me so. I didn't know her personally. Hadn't even really followed her story up until then. And yet. The very notion of somebody who had clawed, scratched and climbed her way out of a thought in her head and made it all the way to her goal only to have it all come crashing down around her in such a finite manner - well it's disturbing. To say the least.
It made me think about the lengths we go to when our dreams lay waiting. It made me frightened. It reminded me that life makes no promises and that we presume there's always time. We presume bad things happen to the other guy. We whisper, "There but for the grace of God go I."
And we live our dreams with blind faith. Presuming. Imagining the best, fearlessly.
Until a sad tale presents itself and then...
I'll speak only for myself. I pause and say a prayer. Keep your dreams close and your blessings closer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Write, Love, Play (in that order)

Later this month the movie premiere of Elizabeth Gilbert's novel "Eat, Pray, Love" will hit the big screen. Fans of this tale as well as fans of Julia Roberts will no doubt flock to the theater in droves to pay homage to their cause.
Okay - I'll fess up. Haven't read it yet. Not for lack of interest so much as lack of time. My book shelf is overflowing with current reads, next-on-deck reads and those I really want to get to but wonder when/how I'll manage to find the hours. Anyway if the reviews are to be believed, Ms. Gilbert has a hit on her hands. The latest news reports that some readers have taken to physically duplicating the excursions that transpire over the course of the book, specifically treks to Italy, India and Indonesia.
As a writer, I'm impressed. What does it say about your skills as an author when people enjoy your work to such a dramatic extent? To me, it says, "Girl keep writing. Find an audience and do not let them down."
Since the moment I became obsessed (possessed?) with the novels inside of me, I have had to readjust my priorities. Writing HAD to take top billing. Not mandatory. Not a hard and fast rule as much as a natural course of things. It's how you know you're hooked (no pun or reference to blog name intended.) When you're desire outweighs the little things like, oh I don't know - eating, sleeping...stuff like that.
Congrats to Ms. Gilbert on her success. But I digress. I have work-in-progress to edit. And many, many books to read.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Simply complicated

We just got back from a weekend trip to Bird-in-Hand, PA. where we visited our Amish friends on a blistering day when the sun was on steroids. We sat together at their large and lovely home with wide open windows inviting a breeze that refused to oblige. I just had to ask, once more, as if some part of my brain simply couldn't comprehend the notion. "You have no electricity, right?"
"How do you do that? Especially now?" I was referring to the fact that it was rapidly approaching 100 degrees.
"Battery operated fans," the sweet woman answered. Huge beads of sweat hung at my forehead. She, in her long customary frock and prayer cap appeared cool as a homegrown cucumber.
Okay, I'm spoiled. Way too used to modern conveniences. So I got to thinking, what could I give up, if I had to, even for just a day? Electricity? Nope. My car?
Negative. Makeup, jewelry, hair? Nada to the third power.
There must be something, ONE thing that I could do without, temporarily, for a taste at how it might be to live a simpler life. Right? I decided to shun the computer for the time I was away, even though the hotel had internet access.
It was weird at first. I had to face the cold hard facts at hand. I lead a complicated, twentieth century existence. It's overflowing, spilling out all over the place and at times, impossible to contain. That's why we escape every year or so, to wonder at those folks who clip-clop by in horse drawn buggies with a kind wave. To imagine for a minute, an hour or 48 of them how it might be to shed it all, leave the mayhem behind and be content just the same. The Amish seem united, spiritual, committed, close-knit, a community. Curious. Entertaining. An enigma. Happy.
SO here I am, back in the land of all things electric, the laptop resting on my knees, my inbox jam packed at 91 unread messages. I miss the cornfields, the quiet, the wide open spaces. But I'm comfortable in the air conditioning, hitting delete, delete, delete. Can't have it both ways, I guess.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wondering Some

I often wonder why I choose to write. Then I realize that I haven't chosen it...really. It chose me.
Tonight I am drawn to acknowledge the 50 year anniversary of the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird," written by an old Southern gal named Nellie Harper Lee. This novel was one of the first to throw a light on that dark corner of my soul where my love of reading lay waiting to implode. This phenomenal author debuted this tale after four years of her time and energy, and drew critical acclaim for her amazing story. Sadly she never wrote another.
I often wonder why. Was it the fear she'd never be able to spin another yarn as deeply stirring? Did she even try only to believe it might never come close?
Reading and writing are a package deal. One of the first pieces of advice I ever received from my writing teacher was to "read, read and read some more." No problem. It's what comes natural.
Great authors inspire. They engage. They direct. They lead crowds. They live quiet lives and realize big dreams. They teach new authors how its done.
I often wonder if I'll ever be so fortunate as to have something that I write touch the hearts of so many for so long. One can only wonder...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson

The youngest of my kids graduated from high school today. No, I'm not going to lament about where the time has run off to; how he was 2 years old just yesterday, etc. Even though that's all true. Sitting through the commencement ceremony and speech after rah-rah-sis-boom-bah speech, I got to thinking about what I might say if I were ever asked to deliver a verbal greeting card to a group of young graduates. I think I would speak the facts, as I have learned them, dispel the myths, clobber the cliches.

I would begin by saying that opportunity ISN'T at your doorstep waiting for you to answer. It's hidden out there in the world and if you don't go and seek and scour and seek some more you may never find it.

Good things don't come to those who WAIT. Waiting implies a passivity that'll get you frustrated very quickly. Good things come to those who work like crazy to make them happen, even when so much time passes that you forget why you even wanted it in the first place.

And what about that famous one-liner courtesy of Jerry McGuire; "You complete me." Wrong. YOU complete you. You came into this world a singular unit and you're going out the very same way. The faster you learn to rely on yourself, and not others to provide for you, the better off you'll be.

Your next day is not a guarantee. It's a gift. Assume at any given moment it can be taken away, just like that. If you choose to moan and groan your way through life, it'll pass the same way it will if you smile through it. So smile once in a while just for the hell of it.

The best laid plans will often go awry so make more than one. Plan B is likely to end up a better option so for God's sake, get a notebook and pen and draw a map if you have to, from here to there. Then follow it.

Anyway, chances are if I said any of those things I may not be invited back. Not a problem. I'll save my preaching for the choir. In the meantime may the Class of 2010 be the writers of their own stories, the directors of their plots and the authors of many happy endings before they reach The End.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What's In A Name?

As a writer of the young adult genre, it is my duty to observe and report the latest trends among the teens I come into contact with. This way when it's time to set pen to paper, I can rest assured my characters have an air of authenticity most important in story telling. This past weekend I discovered an alarming trend among girls of this age group. And I do mean scary. It has been brought to my attention that it is common practice for some young women to assign names to a certain body part that travels in a team (not the eyes, ears, arms, legs or feet.) Terms of endearment, I suppose. One girl in particular I spoke with has come to refer to hers as "Kourtney & Khloe" seeing as how she's a huge Kardashian fan. I can see the sense in that...I suppose. Anyway it got me to thinking. When it comes to our female assets, just what IS in a name?
I also began to conjure up some ideas for folks hard pressed to chose something relevant to their lives. Feel free to borrow any of the following:

For the Disney fan: Lilo & Stitch
For the pop culture television enthusiast: Ross & Rachel
For the nomadic by nature: East & West & for the older nomad: South East & South West (think about it)
For the musically minded: Hall & Oates
For the woman who had hers specially made: Dollars & Cents
For the foodie: Spaghetti & Meatballs
For the current affairs addict: Hannity & Colmes
and for grins & giggles: Laurel & Hardy

I could go on and on. But I won't. I MUST put an end to this madness. I have decided to refrain from addressing this particular habit in my stories. Seems pointless and not at all what William S. had in mind when he posed that elusive query.

Okay my tongue is out of my cheek now. My most sincere apologies...
Hope you cracked a smile anyway! PS - Please do not abandon me, yet.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Can you dig it?

There's this new study that points out there just MIGHT be some connection between dirt and seratonin (ya' know that feel-good brain chemical thing.) The scuttlebutt goes that if you expose yourself to some of that stuff you work so hard to avoid, clean, and wash out from under your fingernails, you may be surprised to wind up a wee bit happier.
So let me see if I understand - am I to ingest a heeping helping, a tablespoon in the morning with an orange juice chaser? Should I sift out the worms or are they part of the magic? And where exactly am I supposed to acquire this dirt? Will there be a cropping up of health food stores with a new aisle specifically catering to the mud aficionado? Or is it wiser to cut out the middleman and buy wholesale right from your own backyard?
All kidding aside, I report these findings with the best of intent. I'm a big believer in the holistic remedy. We need only look toward the Mother of all things Natural to find the answers to some of life's most troubling dilemmas.
The gardeners, farmers and soil toilers of this world have no doubt known of this benefit for some time. And most five year olds, too. It wasn't so long ago that my son was a little boy whose sole purpose was to dig his way to China. He'd wile away hour after blissful hour in a pile of dirt bigger than he was then, smile firmly planted on his face.
I am pleased as punch with this scientific revelation. It's all about having an open mind and a daily romp in the earth's finest. Can you dig it?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A SANDwich

It's basic math - pre-summer style. A sun-filled Memorial Day + 80 degrees = A beach day. You just have to love parking it seaside, watching the waves frolicking with the shore. Well, I do, anyway. We headed out bright and early and before I knew it there was nothing between me and the sand but an orange towel and some SPF 30 (& last years bathing suit, of course. Hey, I'm no peep show.)Gary LeVox was blowing his famous pipes in my ears via the IPOD. The southeasterly breeze was blowing just enough to keep us from frying. The sky looked the way it does in every artists rendering of THE PERFECT BLUE HEAVEN. I was...content.
Fast forward eight hours. Post shower. No. Not sunburned. Itchy. Very, very itchy. While I'd been busy with my s & s (sun and sand) and r & r (that ones a given) it seems a group of hungry mosquitoes were going to town on my flip-side. Maybe not a group. Maybe a small third-world mosquito country - one of those starving insect nations who'd sufficiently put an end to their worldly famine courtesy of my bare back. Shoot, when I say covered, I do mean covered in bites.
I am a humanitarian. I donate when I can, crusade when I can't. I have a healthy respect for the food chain and the earth's ecosystem. But, I mean, come on you guys, spread the wings, spread the love. Save the fangs for another happy camper.
From here on out I will decorate my beach body with some OFF. Now excuse me while I run for some more calamine lotion.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Disarm the Devil...yeah, but

So it would seem that somebody out there is interested in publishing my book! L & L Dreamspell Publishers has offered me a contract. I know. I'm fairly certain there's been a mistake. Still, I've been told that if all goes according to plan, my first (really second) novel will be released about 12 months from now. Things in my mind have suddenly shifted from "I wonder if/when" to "What could go wrong now?" It's the curse of the ever-anxious. Good news is only as good as your ability to ignore the little devil perched on your left shoulder. You know the guy. He's the one there to remind you not to count your chickens before they hatch. He's the one that says "Yeah, BUT..." to every positive thought you dare entertain. I.E.:

I will finally see my manuscript evolve into something I can hold in my hands!
Yeah BUT, so will everyone else. What if people hate it?

One year will go by fast. Before I know it I will be a published author.
Yeah BUT that's assuming the publisher doesn't disband/change their mind/anything bad that equals squashing the whole deal.

For anyone, if there's anyone at all beside me keeping track...this has been a long time coming. The goal now is to disarm the devil. They say it's not the destination so much as it's the journey. Getting there has to be part of the experience, part of the fun. Yeah, but I'm so damn impatient, nervous, READY. Or not.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Torture Check List

Quickie Post. Topic - Things to Do to Torture Yourself:

Affix Krazy Glue to eyelashes. Let dry. Peel, slowly.

Query literary agents for representation.

Roll naked body over bed of razor blades followed by rolling in bed of salt, slowly.

Forward requested material to agent. Wait, wonder, wither and wilt. In that order.

Visit oral surgeon for scheduled root canal. Refuse Novocaine. Instead suggest the biggest needle. Plunge excessively. Do not rinse.

Receive rejection pile with enthusiasm. Write even though you're fairly certain you suck.

Face new day with hope.

Write something new.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's dogs, not diamonds for this Girl

A recent statistic reports that 33% of pet-owning married women think that their dogs are better listeners than their husbands. That's 1 in 3. I'd have guessed higher. Actually who are these other two ladies and what IS their problem, exactly?
Now, grant you I am unmarried, officially speaking, though I share my life with a significant other by another last name. Good man. Cooks a mean BBQ dinner. Hasn't forgotten his manners. Washes himself consistently. But I'll admit to having to repeat myself on more than one occasion and not just when I'm (nagging) reminding him about something. My pup, on the other hand, gives a whole new meaning to "shut up and listen." Just last night, there I was collapsed in the easy chair, feet up, exhausted and indulging a bitch-fest. "Miley, you just wouldn't believe the week I've had. Work is draining me, the bills are piling up, the vacuum cleaner broke down, I've got a bit of writers block, and I found a new wrinkle I never had before." She didn't offer much in the way of advice, but she saw fit to curl up in the tiny space on the ottoman, just beside my leg, and rest her chin on my ankle. She shot me a look that said, "It's over now. You lived to tell. Let's just chill here for a while. It'll all be fine."
It was precisely what I was hoping she'd say. I rubbed her back. A few minutes later I gave her
a pat on the head. "Miley, thanks for never having anything better to do. You're the best."
She spoke again, this time with just a nod. "I hear ya'."
Better than diamonds by a country mile.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Catching Up (till next we meet)

Saw an old woman today (no, not my own reflection) who reminded me of my Grandma. It made me want to pick up the phone, dial her number, hear her voice. But there's no cell phone service in heaven (no land lines either, I suppose.) So I jotted a note.
Dear Gram,
If there’s any truth to the notion that those who leave us are never too far away, then I suppose there’s no need for catching up. But since one can never be sure what transpires beyond our earthy plane, I’ll err on the side of caution.

Since last we met, over ten years ago, my babies have all but grown. You said they would do so quickly. In fact, you were the first to say, “Don’t blink.” Someone wrote a song about that recently. It’s a big hit. You probably know that the marriage thing didn't pan out. Maybe you suspected the outcome right from the start. It would have done no good to warn me, though. I wouldn’t have listened. In your silent wisdom you recognized this was a lesson I had to live and own myself. I did.

I play with words now. Do you remember when that was our game? We’d choose our favorites, most and least. I always picked the obvious – love, puppy, angels/ murder, rape, pain. You chose the ones I had to think about; tranquility, freedom and light, anxiety, violence and bigotry. It was an ember that became a white hot flame, my love of language now an inferno. I take these words and twist them, bend them, string them together pages long. The game has evolved.

Since last we met, I’ve come to terms with regret. Missed opportunities, fumbled chances, I never did get to say goodbye. I wonder if it would have mattered. Your mind left you to fend for yourself, a stranger to your family and to the reflection in the mirror. But the illness could not rob who you were deep inside; the woman named after the most glorious month, the one where April showers leave their flowers and where the days grow warmer and kinder. It suited you well.

If wishing made all things possible, this would not be a one-sided conversation and my questions no longer go unanswered. It is said you’ve moved on to a better place. Have you? Is there no suffering in your world, nothing to fix, no reason to cry? Was Papa there to meet you? Have you made a home with him once again? You are now the keeper of secrets, the holder of all information, the stuff of mere mortal speculation. I always knew that you really did know everything.

I’m certain there’s more that I could say. Perhaps one day we’ll finish this talk. Until then, until next we meet, you are never too far from me, my grandmother, my friend.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Boloney Hero

Danger Will Robinson. Okay, you've been warned. I'm in a feisty, who-gives-a-damn mood delivered by way of my 40ish year-old hormonal flux.
Hero - One who displays great courage and self-sacrifice in the face of danger or adversity.
The Talmud says - A hero is he who conquers his urges.
There are great men out there. My Dad is one. My significant other is another. Men of honor. Men with a heart, a soul, a conscious. Men of value. Men worthy or praise, applause, adulation.
Philandering golf pros do not good heroes make.
People hold your cheers. Keep your hands clasped in prayer. Ask the powers that be for sense in a world where a selfish, heartless man can ration away his numerous transgressions by explaining that he is "addicted."
Give. Me. A. Break.
Teach our young men, our little boys that their bad behavior will not earn them any kudos.
Forgiveness can only be given once restitution is met. Three under par does not equal restitution.
I miss the days when there was an illusion of value. Even if it was just smoke and mirrors. I liked the reflection.
We must choose our hero's with care. We owe it to ourselves to hold out for honesty, for apologies
offered with sincerity, grace and humility.
And now, I'll trade my soap box for a nine iron and swing away.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Place Where Time Goes to Die

Been tryin' to get here more often, though these days I find time to be more of a thief than ever before, stealing my hours until I feel I've been robbed blind. Where does it go, I wonder, as it speeds past on the information superhighway?
In my mind I have followed it, chased it, hunted it down imagining that one ordinary afternoon I'll stumble on the place that time goes to pass. I see a giant sinkhole, twice the size of Texas, hell - twice the size of Canada. Inside are the birthdays, the collection of holidays and the massive quantity of every days that flit on by. It's a cemetery of sorts, with headstones and grave markers that remind me of my 24th year, my 34th and then some. There are flowers, orange and pink and pale yellow ones at the site of the times that were most adored - my babies being born, the first time I fell in love, a vacation with my parents when I was still little enough to think they'd always be like that.
If it sounds as if I'm waxing melancholy, really I'm not. I'm finding that it's a process, step-by-step, toward the acceptance that time is our friend when its on our side, yet very often, it can turn on us when we least expect it. Then its like a locomotive barrelling toward oblivion.
My goal is to arrive at a juncture of my own, where I have a healthy respect for the passing of time while simultaneously, somehow defying it.
When (if) I find a way - I'll be sure to post back. Till then...the clock is ticking and I've got other things to do.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Long Island Loyalty

One snow storm after another has pummeled the north-east coast this month. I've always been true to my home state of New York, defending her honor, extolling her virtues, pledging allegiance...except when winter comes. That's when it becomes one of those up and down relationships, she loves me - she loves me not stories. I'll admit that when the temperatures dip so does my affection. I'm a fair weather fan. It's about now when all things bright and warm begin to flirt with my senses. Dreams of trading shovels for sunny beaches, bulky wool coats and hats for one thin layer of clothing tempt my mind. I'm inclined to stray, hop a plane down south or cross country. Leave this place once and maybe for all.
Then I remember that this is home, that I left here for a while years ago only to come rushing back to the arms that welcomed me without a hitch. To some extent I am defined by the map and my spot in the topography. I have my own root system here, albeit currently covered over in about a foot of icy, white accumulation.
Long Island loyalty is a challenge in February. At times it's a challenge no matter what month we're in. Yet, there's something to be said for staying the course and being faithful.
Besides, the flights out are so damn expensive.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Slippery When Wet

For years (& I mean years) now I have started my mornings with a shower. I have been known to "jump in," "hop in," and all things careless and confident believing there's no way I'd ever slip. Yeah, right.
So on Friday, during my usual ritualistic a.m. jaunt for cleanliness, I stepped onto the bath mat only to have my both feet fly out from under me. It was a great fall, a backwards flop. Humpty Dumpty would have been proud as punch.
Now two days later it feels kind of like I've been run over by a very large, very angry Mack truck. My bruised spine, stiff neck and sore muscles remind me how fortunate I was to escape with just those minor injuries.
My goal today is to issue a public service announcement to all those individuals who typically approach their bathrooms with reckless abandon. It is a simple warning:
That place is slippery when wet!
Please, people - wash. But when you do remember one little word. Traction.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Winter...warts and all

It's cold outside. Happens like that in January in New York. We trudge around all bundled up in bulky coats forgetting there's a form under there that closely resembles a body. Right about now I become one with the wool, blend seamlessly with the chenille sweater and the fuzzy socks sealed to my previously pedicured toes. Winter makes me wonder why I live here. Winter brings me an unending craving of all things warm.
If I look on the bright side, (and there always IS one, right?) I have a home to brave the elements where the heating system works just fine. And if past history counts for anything, soon enough I'll find myself fussing over the high humidity and seeking out the nearest air conditioner.
Yet, the thermometer's always greener on the other side.
This morning my middle finger is adorned with duct tape. Not some weird fashion statement but an attempt to rid my appendage of a stubborn wart that took up residency about one month ago near my knuckle. I'm fairly certain that in a month or two it'll be gone. But for the time being, I remain wrapped, layered, covered up - hidden and healing. I am a human onion, longing to be peeled.
George Herbert said "Every mile is two in winter." Lace up your faux-fur lined booties people. And walk on.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Its a mad, mad, mad, man's world.

Being 40 something means meeting the demands of a changing body, demands made without so much as a weak-hearted apology from Mother Nature. So it seems that 2010 for me started off with a bang of sorts. Okay, maybe not that. Maybe it was more like an implosion. I've seen two doctors in under two weeks which is some sort of record in my book. I'm dealing with the joys of womanhood the way most women do - with the false bravado, self-effacing style that defines a mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a best friend or just any female most inclined to say, "Don't be silly. I'll be fine."

That said, I warn you, I'm admittedly a wee bit cranky. We are not amused. We are not having fun. Hormones are the pooper every good party needs. Stand clear. I'm Vesuvius, ready to blow at any given moment.

Men will never know the anguish of "reverse puberty" bless their ignorant souls.

Jealous much? Groan....