Friday, October 30, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown... or why marriage is like tv


I watched It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown the other night.

All by myself.

Ziggy was in the shower, Moose was in the cave and TK was traveling.

And I loved watching it. For the ninety-seventh time.

Don't get me wrong, I love having my family with me, cuddled up with popcorn in front of the tv. But it just doesn't seem to work out that way often enough.

TV doesn't fascinate my family like it does me.

Let me rephrase - my family is so used to seeing the tv on, whether they are watching it or not, that they are no longer fascinated by it.

Ziggy records everything and anything and watches it whenever she feels like it. Which is pretty much all the time.

Moose downloads the two or three shows that he follows, every movie that comes out and watches them all on his computer.

TK thinks the tv only gets two channels - Fox News and ESPN.

For the most part I don't really watch tv and while there are several shows I dvr the truth is I very rarely get to watch them. Nor do I usually want to.

I know I can call up any show on the dvr, Netflix online or on demand or even run out and rent what I want to see but...

There's just something about stopping what you are doing at a certain time and watching a show when it's being aired. Planning for it and around it.

You see, I don't take the show for granted. I don't pause it when I'm distracted. Ignore it when I'm busy with other things. I don't tell the show "Not now but maybe later." I give it my time and attention. I don't answer the phone or read a book. I'm focused. If it's important to me, I make the time.

It's kind of like dating vs marriage.

When you're dating, you know you have to go/be/meet somewhere at a specific time. If you don't, well, you miss out. And may never get another chance to "see the show" again. No recording, pausing or putting it back on the shelf for later will recreate that particular "show" again.

But once you're married? The "show" is always on, always available. Morning? Yep. Dinnertime? Yep. Holidays, weekends, golf season, flu season, middle of the night? Yep, yep, yep, yep and yep.

So we might not be as fascinated as we once were. You might even say we begin to take the "show" for granted.

We might hit pause a little too often.

Keep one eye on the "show" over the top of a newspaper or laptop.

Busy? Well, the "show" isn't going anywhere. Come back to it later.

Weeks later.

Heck, months later - it'll still be there right? Right?
Maybe. Or maybe not.

Hmmm.

Just to be on the safe side, personally, I'm going to make sure I don't take my "show" for granted.

I'm disabling the pause button and throwing away the remote, baby.
Because the "show" is on and I wouldn't miss it for the world. It's the best "show" ever.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Love Language

I've never really been an affectionate person. I don't know why, or how I turned out this way but it's just the way it is. Don't get me wrong, I love those close to me and would do anything to help out a friend but when it comes to displays of affection, I'm at a loss.

I'm not the "huggy" type, I do hug but I don't really care to hug strangers. I like my personal space. Now sure, on the outside it may seem like I'm this cold hearted bitch who is devoid of feelings, but I assure you that is not the case. Hey, I cry at sad movies. I even cry at happy movies. And, I admit...some commercials - you know the really sappy ones around the holidays - they make me cry too. It's just that I show my affection in other ways. If you've ever read the book The Five Love Languages it discusses the five things that people need, their love language.

They are, in no special order:

  1. Quality Time
  2. Receiving Gifts
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Physical Touch
  5. Words of Affirmation

In the book it says that you typical do what you want. For example, I am an acts of service person. I'm this way with friends, family and even with Batman. I show that I care by doing stuff, it doesn't mean I go and clean their house, or do their laundry. Seriously, I can barely keep up with my own house! But if for example, Sharon is throwing a party....I'm there, whenever she needs me to be to help her with the planning, the shopping, the setting up or the cooking. Batman works two jobs, some weeks are crazy busy for him... so I'll make him a big pasta salad so that he can just pack a lunch and go - he doesn't need to worry about making a sandwich or grabbing a sub on the way into work. When my sister was moving I took the 3 hour drive with her (round trip) to help her get the last of her things. This is how I show I care.

Sure there are times when I give gifts, want quality time and physical touch and even use words of affirmation ... but my true love language? Definitely acts of service.

What is your love language?




Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Four Letter Words, the first in a series

Four letter words. When did they get such a bad rap?

What four letter word were you thinking of when you read today's title?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Tsk tsk. I'm ashamed for you.

No my pets, no trash talking today. Today's four letter word is - MORE.

As in "Eighty-four Ginsu knives for $19.99? Yes, but wait there's more!"

As if eighty-four Ginsu knives weren't enough to entice us to drop a twenty, we want more. But when does more become too much?

There was a woman who used to work with me. Let's call her, oh Queebee. Queebee was at the company a few years before me but was also a sales rep. No senior title, all sales reps are created equal and all that. All we needed to do was sell. A lot. Like any good sales rep, we were both motivated by what else?

More.

And by more I mean more money. More clients, more accounts, more pats on the back, sure but really all that boiled down to was more money. Which, if we're being honest, is what a sales rep should be motivated by.

So what do you do when you want more money? Yep, we worked hard. We made more money.
Good, yes?

But then I wanted more something else. I saw things that could be changed, improved, tweaked. Marketing plans, business plans, growing the sales staff, changes in internal staff, competing in the new millennium.

I wanted more responsibility, more challenges, more growth.

Fast forward a few years and I'm in my corner office, it may be a weekday or it may be a weekend, no difference. I'm at my desk looking at the wall with a pile of more on my desk.

And to be honest, I was happy. I needed more to make me happy.

Queebee? She wanted more, too. She was tired of more money. Didn't want more clients. But she wanted more something. More anything.

So she went to my boss at the time, now my partner, and asked for more.

More what, he asked?

More, she said.

Ok, help me out here Queebee. More.... ah, business?

No, I have enough business. But I want more. Like she has. More of what she has.

Um. Ok, well she wrote a business plan, and a marketing plan and did more for a while and then came to me and then asked for more again with a sales plan and charts and graphs and and and and. Sooooo.... whatcha got?

Huh? Listen, I just want more. More! I can't do all that stuff. I don't want to do all that stuff. But I want more. Just gimme more! Give it to me! Give it to me right now!!!

There was some other four letter words used - the kind you were thinking of way back at the beginning of this post - and maybe some crashing of thrown objects ensued.

Queebee won. She did get more. More frustrated. More petty. More mean. More jealous.

Fast forward to today. I have my more, I love my more but I have come to an agreement with more.
And sometimes less is more.

My more today is more of all that yes, but also more sense of accomplishment. More giving back. Definitely more delegation.

Also, finally, more perspective. And with that, more free time on weekends. More realization of what's important. And what's not. I have more work, sure but also much more life.

Queebee?

Oh she has more, too. More jobs on her resume, that is.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Prom

Well the big dance, or as they say here in the south, the cotillion, has ended.

I'm sitting on the pool deck listening to the waves hit the sand in beautiful Myrtle Beach (sorry, I just can't say that enough this week) and ruminating over the past few days.

Like most dances, I'm glad I went.

Like most dances, I am so glad it's over.

Huh? What'd you say?

It was a conference and not a dance?

Seriously?

You could've fooled me.

The South Carolina Writer's Workshop sure felt like a dance.

After all, writers from every genre and walk of life were in attendance, stressing over what to wear and say and on their best behavior. Hoping, no praying, to get noticed by one of the "cool kids", aka the agents and editors. Sure felt like high school.

Do I approach him first or would that be totally uncool of me?

Should I smile or would eye contact make me seem like a total loser?

OMG, quick, tell me how much you love my opening chapter really really loud, I think he's coming this way!!!

I had a good time. I made some new friends. And while no one did bring me a corsage I will get over it. Eventually.

But like every dance, um conference, the most exciting part of the event is, of course, the gossip afterwards the awards at the end of the event.

In that vein I have been elected by an overwhelmingly unanimous vote of one to acknowledge individuals that have greatly contributed to my personal enjoyment of the SCWW.

Allow me to present the unofficial, unsanctioned and unconventional crowning of the Best of the Best 2009.
(While the awards are not yet ordered, I am seriously contemplating little bobble-headed-me's.)
I think I'm going to call them the Really Awards.

As in, really, there's an award for that?

And it's a bobble-headed you???

Yeah, I know. How cool is that?

I give you, in no particular order, the 2009 Really Award Winners:

Best Keynote Speaker - Steve Berry. Of course he was the only keynote speaker. But had there been more than one he still would've been the best. Unless it was, say, Dr. Seuss. Because there's one author I would've loved to hear. But other than that, totally Steve Berry.

Busiest Bartender in Myrtle Beach - Phillip of the Lounge. Is the Hilton seriously not aware that we are writers? Hello Hilton, guess what writers do when they aren't writing??? Understaff much?

Best SCWW Staff Member - ALL of you! I will have matching little bobble headed awards made up for each of you. Well with my face on it of course. Fabulous job y'all. Hee hee, I love saying y'all.

Friendliest Writer Sisters - D.C. Stanfa and Sherry Stanfa-Stanley. The unofficial welcoming team of the SCWW.

Best Skinny Mirrors in a Hotel - Room 1218, Hilton Myrtle Beach. You get me on this, right? Now if only the mirror could give me a healthy glowing tan and reduce blemishes I'd probably never leave.

Best Socializing by a Children's and Horror Story Writer - Tray. Were you here? Then yes, you met Tray.

Most Patient Agent in a Session - Elaine Spencer. We all felt your pain, girl. And you handled the questions from the question-spewing machine with grace. I would've handled them with a hammer, but that's just me.

Best Line Spoken by an Agent
- we have a three-way tie on this one. Janet Reid, for "Do you have pages with you?" Janet Reid for "No, don't shove it in a shoebox and put it under your bed. Not yet anyway." and Matthew Mahoney for "What are you looking to do? Do you want an agent?"

Coolest Accessory - Flight goggles, or whatever you call them. Don't know your name, but dude who wore them - nice touch.

Awesomest Advice - "Write for you, not for them." Overheard in between sessions.

Best Thing Heard This Weekend - Waves crashing on the beach. Duh.

Highlight of My Last Day - The restaurant had Honey Nut Cheerios. Does it get any better than that?

Most Courageous Writer - Anyone that pitched Scott Eagan. Not I, said the mouse.

Most Useful Session Attended - Nikki Poppen aka Bronwyn Scott. A romance novelist, Nikki taught an interesting session on tense and point of view that, I have to admit, was the only session I actually took notes in. I don't read romance novels but if I ever do, I will totally read yours.

Agent Most Likely to Be Invited to Beck House - Matthew Mahoney. If he's Beck House material then do I even need to say it? Ok, I will. Yeah, he kinda rocked.

So there you have it, the 2009 Really Awards.

Want your own Really Award? Do something I'd dig and I'll see what I can do for you (I'm kinda tight with the judge).

Happy Monday!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crackberry

I'm addicted to my blackberry phone. I see that little red blinking light notifying me that I have a voice mail message, a text message, an email or someone commented on my face book page and I just can't ignore it. I try to look away, I try to carry on with what I'm doing. Yet I still find myself glancing at that blinking red light, calling me... taunting me and I just can't resist.

I feel naked without my phone. Like I can't survive the day without it.

I vaguely recall a time when I could remember the phone numbers of all of my friends. If you asked me today, chances are I might remember one or two. There was once a time when people couldn't reach me at any given moment, day or night. Remember the days before caller ID? Every phone call was like a surprise. Who could it be on the other end of the phone? Now, we know. We always know.

My phone takes pictures, sends emails, let's me browse the Internet, keeps my appointments, makes mini movies, plays music and keeps me in touch with every person I've ever gotten contact information for. Remember when a phone's only purpose was to ring?

I'm not the only one with this psycho addiction. Every where I go, people are on cell phones, they are sitting with a group of people and still they text, send email or take a call. Cell phones have made us all rude and inconsiderate people. It used to be that you'd go out to dinner with friends, and they'd have your full attention. Now, it's acceptable to have a conversation with someone while sending a text simultaneously with someone else. It's alright to answer a call mid sentence because "I've been waiting for this call".

Are we all that important? Really?

Here are a few other cell related items that I'd like to point out

  1. Cell phones that ring during a movie, people they even TELL you to turn your ringers off before the show begins.
  2. Before cell phones, drunk dialing was less likely to happen. Basically you'd have to wait until you got home and by that time - let's face it - we're just so drunk and tired at that point that we just pass out.
  3. Drunk texting - no good ever comes from this
  4. Stalker's dream come true. Not only can a stalker reach you at home, but now they can email you, text you and call your cell. When you don't answer, they just don't get the hint. You know who you are.
  5. 7 Year old kids with cell phones. Enough said.

So these are just a few observations that I could think of regarding cell phones. Is there something I've missed?

Regardless of it all, I won't give up my blackberry...and you just can't make me.




Good Vibes

As many of you are just getting to know me through this blog I wanted to explain something that you might not know about me.

My mind veers off in many different directions.

All the time.

Not to say I don't accomplish what I set out to accomplish.

I do.

Really.

Most of the time. Like 98% of the time.

But I thrive on chaos and stress and overall busy-ness.

Here's what happens - I am focused on something, a project or a work thing. Whatever. Then BLAM! An idea hits and I need to write it down before I forget.

Or I'm cooking dinner and my phone rings. Someone asks me a question and suddenly, I am whipping out my credit card to put a deposit on a hotel in St Thomas. And dinner is still on the table promptly. And it's delicious, of course.

Why am I telling you this?

Because my blog was originally going to be called something like "What a Difference A Day Makes" and I was going to post these photos:

This was earlier this week, in Boston


And this is this morning, in Myrtle Beach. Where I am, right now, listening to the waves crash on the beach. Ha! No matter how many times I say that it still sounds great!



But as I'm taking these pictures and making a mental list of all the things I could do today vs. all the things I should do today I get an email from my friend and fellow writer Little Miss J.

And now the blog is not about hating me for being in 80 degree weather by the beach, it's about paying Good Vibes forward.

Little Miss J is part of my writer's group - I'll explain in another blog so I don't get sidetracked again here. Her email this morning was about paying Good Vibes forward, per another writer's blog, and how it worked for her. So she's throwing out Good Vibes too - of which I hope to be the proud recipient soon.

You see I'm in Myrtle Beach preparing for the SCWC and hoping to somehow connect with the agent who has requested a partial of my novel, overwhelm her with my writerly skills while appearing calm, cool and above all else, marketable.

B
ecause as I have heard and read and learned, a great book is nothing if you don't have "it". You must be marketable. It's no longer just about your writing skills. It's about you as a person.

Can you hold an intelligent conversation without the benefit of a QWERTY keyboard?

Do your eyes get all shifty and you pee your pants when someone asks what your book is about?

Do you drool?

Chew with your mouth open?

Hide behind the fake plants at cocktail parties?

In a nutshell ARE YOU MARKETABLE?

So ok, I think I've written a great book. Doreen thinks so too. And while that's all that really should matter apparently this agent needs other people to agree. But a good book just isn't enough. I need to be good too. I need to "somebody".

Or at least "somebody who could be somebody someday" if you know what I mean.

And I need to be writerly and fabulous and charming and cool and intelligent and literary and and and and....

And just send me some Good Vibes, would you already???

And while we're on that subject - what do you need Good Vibes for today?

Let me know and I'll send some your way too.

I'll squeeze it in somewhere between talking to myself in the mirror, practicing intelligent and thought-provoking small talk that's not about the weather, walking the beach, trying to remember to eat lunch, deciding which outfit to wear on which day, working on my synopsis and and and and...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's just a little bruise

Despite my tendency to self destruct and my fear of commitment, Batman and I are doing very well. We've increased our dating frequency from once a week to two and sometimes three times a week. We call each other "honey" and "babe". We have fun together regardless of what we are doing. He tells me I'm beautiful.

Oh, and he wants to kick me.

You see, Batman is kind of a bad-ass. What I mean by that is that he used to teach Kick Boxing. I've seen him do his moves and I've got to tell you, it's kind of sexy! So his brilliant plan, is to make me a bad-ass too. I'm actually kind of digging that plan. More for the work out than the whole fighting thing of course. My only problem is that I bruise easily. I mean REALLY easily. I'm worried people are going to think he's beating me.

Once, he was showing me how to block a punch with some sort of karate-Jiu-Jitsu-Bruce-Lee move. I was not putting my hands up high enough so he took a wrist in each hand to just lift them up higher. When I left, I had a bruise on one of my wrists where his thumb was. It's not like he grabbed me hard or even applied pressure, but there it was...this brownish yellow bruise. It didn't hurt at all, but it was not pretty to look at.

When he devised this plan, I readily agreed, forgetting about the fact that I bruise, I forgot what a delicate flower I am. But I can't back down now can I? I even dared to say that maybe some day I would be good enough to kick his butt.

He laughed of course.

Then he cradled my face in his hands, gave me a kiss on the lips and said "Sweetie, that day will never come."

We shall see Batman, we shall see.

So my friends, when you see me battered and bruised please know that I am not a victim of domestic abuse.

I'm a bad-ass Kick Boxer.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cometh the Church Ladies

Church lady?

Oh yeah, you know the one.

When we think of church we think of that lady. The Church Lady with a capital "Ch".

H
e/She was hysterical, I have to admit.

And I'm sure there are Church Ladies out there just like that.

Thankfully I'm not one of them.

I don't think.

Please, please tell me I'm not like that???

I mean, sure I believe in God And yes, I go to church. Every week actually. And yes, I pray. A LOT - especially lately.

But a Church Lady?

That I am definitely not.

I mean, I'm not right?

Wellllll... um. Huh.

Crap.

If I'm a Church Lady TK is not going to be happy.

Ziggy and Moose are going to pretend they don't know me.

Because Church Ladies are crazy. Cuh-ray-zee. Nuts. And not very likeable.

Me? Church Lady????

Saturday Night Live did inspire a whole nation to become familiar with that one type of Church Lady. Come on, say it with me - "Could you be, oh I don't know, SATAN?"

And that is what a Church Lady is all about, right? Judgemental and sanctimonious of course. Only kind to other Church Ladies. Church Ladies that go to a certain church and believe in certain things. A holier-than-thou finger-pointing, how-dare-you, holy-rolling, bible-thumping, I-would-never type.

Really, what other type of church lady is there?

Well, this past weekend I met a whole new type of Church Lady. The type of Church Lady that you wouldn't ever in a million years dream of calling a Church Lady.

Cindy Kyzer of Crossroads Baptist Church, along with a dedicated team of other, um, church ladies, did an incredible job hosting the Ladies Retreat in Falmouth, MA. The theme was The Amazing Race but it could easily have been called The Amazing Weekend.

Thank you to everyone that put their time, effort and heart into making my first retreat, well, Amazing (yes Doreen, I hate that word but it fit. Whatever!)

So what does a Church Lady look like? See for yourself...
























Oh and by the way Pastor, next retreat - Bermuda!!!














Monday, October 19, 2009

Who was that crazy person??

For those that know me and know me well, they are aware that I am really only considered "sane" three weeks out of the month. For that one week, it takes all of my control to just keep it together. I am not always successful. I know this.

I blame it on PMS. (Psycho Madness Syndrome) Really, I do.

During this time, I hate everyone. I take everything personally, and I am very emotional. Believe me when I tell you it goes beyond a woman just being a little moody. Sharon knows this, and has talked me off the ledge on several occasions. She is the best. She is patient, she listens to my rants and even rents Pride & Prejudice for us to watch because she knows it is my "feel good" movie. This is one of the reasons I love her.

When I start my insecure rantings about Batman, when I start thinking that it's just too good to be true and I should end it because he is just going to hurt me anyway (yes I am aware of how irrational that sounds, but at the time it made perfect sense) she tells me to wait. "Don't do anything until next week" She knows I will feel differently. Of course she's right. She's always right.

I warn the people around me when I'm PMSing. I apologize in advance for anything I say, I warn them that if I snap at them, it's not personal. PMS takes over. I'm helpless, really I am.

I think that acceptance is the first step to healing. Since I've realized this personality flaw that I have, I've tried very hard to watch what I say, to not react immediately during the emotional turmoil. I've become better at not lashing out at people that I care about, to wait out the storm because eventually the sun does come out again.

I've gotten better, and I'm beyond the point of having to be locked up away from human contact - especially cell phones where I have the ability to PMS-text, which is far worse than drunk texting could ever be, trust me.

So yes, I am a recovering PMSer. I'm a work in progress and sometimes I do relapse and the crazy person escapes for a short time. But I try to keep her in her padded cell for as long as possible. But if I can't, if she escapes... I am apologizing ahead of time.

She's one psycho you don't want to mess with, so stay away...stay far far away. I'm just saying


Friday, October 16, 2009

The Whim of the Woman With the Nails


I'm at a Retreat this weekend so won't actually have time to write... but I just had to put this out into the universe.

There is a woman. With some crazy long dark red squared off nails. Her head is surrounded by a tangled mess of hair that may or may not see a brush regularly. The same head that only seems to work in one direction - shaking back in forth ever so slowly in the universal symbol for "NO".

The rest of my story will be told later.

But for now it's your turn - where do you think the story goes from here???

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Good Old Days...

I never would've thought I'd be one of those people.

You know the type - "When I was your age..." or "Back in the good old days..." You can fill in just about any comment there, you've heard them all.

I appreciate modern conveniences as much as the next person. I am in awe at the technology that has changed our lives. Women and equality have come a long way in my short lifetime.

But still...

Remember the Blue Laws? When you couldn't do anything on Sunday because it was all closed? Yeah, those were the Good Old Days.

No one ran to Target to pick a few things up. You didn't go to the mall for anything. You went to church. Or to a yard sale. Or to a family dinner. Or just hung out. With your family.



Remember those people?






I remember when my mother was unemployed. And had to collect, gasp!, unemployment. We were mortified. It was whispered about. "Her mother's unemployed." As if she were looting old grannies for their family heirlooms. "Unemployed! Shocking!"

I have two employees who have recently asked me for a "voluntary layoff". What the heck is that???

O
hhhh wait. You want to quit, can't find another job that overlooks your half-hearted attempt at doing your job but need the paycheck? I see.

What's that you say? If you quit you can't qualify for unemployment? And you need the money? But don't want the job?

Now that you explain it that way, sure! I'll lay you off so you can not work and still have an income. Because that's not fraud or anything, right?

I
mean, I realize you don't really take pride in your work anyway so why bother doing it, right?

Another employee sent an email asking for a promotion (oh no, wait. It was one of the same employees who had asked for a voluntary layoff). Because the others in her department can't do anything without her telling them how (according to her). And although she knew that her lateness was an issue, she was only late 5 times this month!

Oh, that's it? Only 20% of the time? A little more than once per week? Heck, I had no idea, you can have my job!

She said I should understand, as I was also a single mother... umm, no. I mean yes. I was a single mother but no, I don't understand. You see, when I was a single mother I was terrified I'd lose my job. So I went above and beyond to make sure I kept it. And guess what that included? Showing up on time! Or even early!

Technology sure has evolved too, hasn't it? Here's one technological advance I depend on but wish didn't exist - Caller ID.

Remember when there was a little tiny bit of excitement answering the phone? It rang and you were all like - Who could it be? Who's calling me? Is it a friend? A love interest? How thrilling that my phone is ringing and someone wants to talk. To me! Yay!

We know we can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime and we don't have to answer that call. Because we'll catch them when it's convenient for us.

So we screen. Huh, it's Howard. I can call him on his cell later. Or text him.

Don't even get me started on texting. It's like catnip to me. And I hate it.

Now I'm not that old but I do remember going shopping and the people who worked in the stores, well they actually appreciated that you were there. Shopping in their store. And you know what they did?

They welcomed you. They greeted you. They asked you how you were and could they help you find anything.

It didn't matter what store you were in. Or what you were buying. This novel approach to shopping was called customer service. And you know what? It worked for me.

When did that change? When did it become an imposition for you to shop in their store? At what point did it flip flop and become them who were doing you a favor, just by being there?

The clerk is at the register and yes, maybe they are talking on their cell phone while chewing gum and won't look you in the eye. Maybe they don't bother to greet you whatsoever, or perhaps they nod your way with a brief "sup?" but come on. They're busy! Doing stuff that, you know, they need to do. It's their only time to catch up with Katie on the phone because her boss is a jerk and doesn't let her take calls when she's on shift.

Maybe Katie should ask for a voluntary layoff?

But just be quiet and be grateful. And if you aren't too distracting maybe they'll even ring your purchases in correctly.

(**I must mention The Meat House in Salem NH. The BEST customer service in a store EVER. EVER. Even when I don't need to buy anything I might stop in there because they always make me feel so good. I had one bag of groceries the other day and the guy at the register insisting on carrying it to the car for me. Wow!)

What do you miss from the good old days?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Al

October 6th is a date that will be etched into my brain for the rest of my life. It's not a day I celebrate a birthday, a new job, a birth or an anniversary. It's the date I mourn a death of someone who meant the world to me. You see, my brother died 19 years ago on October 6th.

We were 11 months apart, my brother and I. Irish twins. We were best friends. Growing up in a home with six children my brother and I were conspirators. As young adults, we were even roommates for a short time. We talked on the phone every day. When he was upset with me, I would call him "bubba". A nickname from childhood when I couldn't say brother - and it always made him smile. He was a kind person. He would do anything for those he cared about. He was taken away much too soon at age 22. A car accident that left him lingering in a hospital bed broken and bruised, giving us hope where there really was none. It took me years to replace the image of him lying there almost unrecognizable, his face bruised and swollen with the happy memories of the life he led.

I was away on business on this day and I mourned alone. Much like the days after his death when I sat alone away from the well meaning family and friends that visited my mothers house. Many people tried to comfort me with their words or hugs, but I just wanted to be left alone. The pain was so overwhelming that I struggled to breathe. They meant well, but I didn't want to reminisce with them. They couldn't understand the depths of my pain. I was young back then and had never experienced such a profound loss. I am much older now and would have welcomed the chance to talk about him, to say "remember when..." But it was not meant to be, so on this day, 2,000 miles away from home I mourned alone in my hotel room. I remembered my brother whose smile could light up a room. I thanked God for his beautiful daughter that he left behind, who has that same beautiful smile. And I said a prayer for my bubba, who is missed but never forgotten.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Happens In Vegas...

You may have noticed half of our little party is missing this week.

I know.

She left with not so much as a good-bye to you. And she's not usually like that. Really. But between party prep for the Fall Dinner Party and packing for her trip I guess she didn't have time for you.

What? No, no don't be hurt. She'll be back soon and right back to posting. I promise.

Now stop that!

I'm sure she's not writing for Vegas, with its shiny and glitzy followers. Even though Vegas holds the thrill of doubling her followers if she lets it ride.

Even though Vegas wears sequins. And high honkin' heels.

We know Vegas isn't any more glamorous than we are, in spite of the fact that it's the playland for celebrities. And mafia. And wannabes.

Doreen loves us just as we are.

Doreen doesn't mind that we read her blog in our holey sweatpants (holey as in full of holes, not holy as in blessed). She still serves us up a dose of Reality covered in Chocolate, in spite of the fact we haven't brushed our teeth most mornings before logging in.

She remembers back to the beginning, when you were excited by the thought of reading a new post. The enthusiasm in your comments. How you talked about our blog to anyone that would listen, because it was new and fresh and you loved it. And us.

There's history. We have a past. And a future.

Doreen knows that every relationship settles into a comfortable lull. That every follower eventually comes to take us for granted just a little bit. You feel security and safety in knowing we'll be here today. And tomorrow. And again the day after. That the blog will go on, even if you don't give it the comments it desires. Even if you are overwhelmed with washing the dishes and taking the kids to soccer.

So you can't comment tonight? She understands.

You haven't commented in weeks? That's alright.

You only comment once a month? Sometimes not even that often?

Oh, it's ok. You're busy. She gets it.

She's a loyal blogger and not easily distracted by the bright lights and late nights. The enticement and excitement of a new follower.

One who thinks her every written word is witty and humorous and daring.

Really.

However...

Even Doreen is human.

Every blogger wants to feel wanted. And loved.

Doreen asked me not to mention this but I think you should know.

It's only fair to tell you.

Vegas promised to comment on her posts. A lot. And on mine too.

You know how we both love comments.

Hey I'm not saying Doreen is leaving you for Vegas! Stop sniffling. I'm not saying that at all.

She's on a trip! It's a business trip! She wouldn't have left you to go to Vegas if she didn't have to. You know that!

But.
She is there.
And so is temptation.

All I'm saying is that you might want to pay more attention to her. Let her know Vegas has nothing on you.

Show her what you're made of, you're not going to let Vegas move in on your blogger.

Remind her of why you became a follower. Let her know this relationship isn't one sided.

When she gets back let her know you missed her.

Comment often. With enthusiasm. And passion.

And maybe brush your teeth first?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Elusive Miz Karen

Remember when you were in grade school and had a pen pal?

It was usually someone far away, in Asia or Africa, that would write to you and say incredibly dull and mundane interesting things about their lives in another country.

Mine was named Nguyen something or other. Forgive me for not remembering, I think it was in the 5th grade and shortly thereafter I discovered boys.

Besides, her handwriting intimidated me.

Oh Ng, it's been a while, hasn't it? You see, when I first heard we were going to be writing to a new friend in a foreign land my mind jumped ahead. Way ahead.

We'd be great friends! We'd stay in touch for ever! I'd write to her about boyfriends, and concerts and college! And maybe after high school we'd meet somewhere exciting! Like Florida!

We'd go to each other's weddings and send pictures of our babies and, and, and...

And I wrote to her. Once. Then I moved on. But I never forgot good old Ng.

I haven't thought about her in years though, to be honest. But lately I was thinking about my friendship with Miz Karen and there were some parallels that brought Ng to mind.

In my other life (the one that pays the bills and causes incredibly stressful moments) I run a business. Several years ago, when I was a bit sassy-er and perky-er and all kinds of other -er, I ran a help wanted ad.

And it was clever.

Don't ask, I have no clue what it said. But whatever it was, Miz Karen came a callin'. The funny thing is, she wasn't even responding to my ad. She just called to tell me she liked it.

We chatted for a bit about work and family and nothing really, her throaty laugh and smiling voice enchanting me as we talked.

And we became friends.

Karen, how many years ago was that?

I've lost track of time but I can tell you this, we still chat on the phone regularly. Sometimes life gets in the way and we lose touch for a few weeks, maybe months even.

Then her number pops up on my caller ID and I smile just knowing who's on the other end of the phone. And I can still hear the smile in her voice when I answer.

She's one of the most positive people I know, in spite of some physical challenges she has faced this year. Always happy, always perky, always willing to lend an ear to whatever ails me.

Sometimes when we talk I can picture her sitting at her desk, a heavy oak desk with curved legs, her computer tucked underneath as she sits in a kitchen chair that belonged to her grandmother, painted bright blue with tiny pink handprints on the seat, courtesy of her niece.

Miz Karen chuckles as she twirls a curly brown lock between her fingers, wrinkling up a nose dusted with freckles. We compare notes on what delightful antics our stupid cats are up to, how much trouble kids get into these days and why men are the lesser species.

Picture a cross between Elaine from Seinfeld and Lucille Ball. Only taller.

That's Miz Karen.

At least that's how I picture her.

You see we've never actually met.

Miz Karen, who spells words phonetically whenever possybull (she used to be a teacher, it's entirely intentional), loves cats more than people and has no problem telling it like it is, is quite elusive.

I have to admit I was a little jealous when I heard that a mutual friend (that I introduced her to, by the way) met her this summer. For half a second I was a little miffed.

The truth is though, I'm ok with it. Don't get me wrong, someday I will meet Miz Karen, I really will.

We will drink tea and eat cookies and oooh and ahhh over pictures. We'll stare at each other and wonder why we hadn't done this sooner and then fall apart and giggle. She'll snort and tea will come out of my nose.

Someday we will meet.

But for now... in this day and age of technology and google-ing people and digital cameras, well, a little mystery is exciting, don't you think?

Oh and hey, Ng, if you're out there, send me a hello...