Archive for May, 2011

Lines from an Old Love

May 28, 2011 9 comments

I’ve been writing poetry since I was ten years old – which means I’ve been doing it for about eighteen years now.

It’s not just something I do from time to time. It’s more than a habit. It’s a passion. It’s my first writing love. Before I began writing stories, I wrote poems. I told tales that way. A few of them graced the pages of various literary magazines.

Without further ado (because I’m grinning like a jackal), here is my first volume of poetry, Lines from an Old Love. Right now, it’s available through, which makes me exceedingly happy. Eventually, it will be available as a digital copy.

As always, if there are any errors, they are mine. I could blame the Writing Gremlins, but I won’t. I hope that you all enjoy the book. I am so proud of it.

The Story of the (Kidnapped) Bridesmaid Dresses

May 24, 2011 3 comments

It occurs to me that I’ve yet to tell you this tale. It should also come with a small bit of hilarious background. My best friend (henceforth known as BF) is getting married in…about two weeks. (Pause. Panic. Regain calmness.) The last time she and I dealt with anything wedding related was when her sister got married a few years back. I lived out of state then (not now, thank java), and I was in town for the wedding. I went with BF to pick up her bridesmaid dress. We took it home, and she tried it on.

Then we discovered that she was STUCK in it. You see, when they altered the dress, they didn’t install the zipper correctly, and it would only go down halfway. We promptly exclaimed, “Oh, SHIT” and called my mother, who was met with a rush of babbling and vowels, as I squeaked out, “STUCK [jibberish] in [more jibberish] bridesmaid dress [incomprehensible nonsense].” My mother, who probably should’ve been sainted at that point, called our old tailor who happens to be a five minute drive from BF’s house and talked her into a) getting BF out of the Attack Dress and b) fixing it in a DAY, because her sister’s wedding was in two days.

Sure, we laugh about it now – her in a sparkly dress, wearing sneakers, half-zipped up – as we drove down the road, repeatedly exclaiming, “I can’t believe this happened.” Only it did. Because it’s us. This stuff occurs on any day that ends in Y, when she and I are together. (This just means that combined we are T-R-O-U-B-L-E – or some completely silly version of the Wonder Twins.)

So, fast forward to now. BF is getting married. I am the Maid of Honor. (Holy crap. I still need to write my toast. ) She and I ordered the dresses for the bridal party on November 17th. Plenty of time, since her wedding’s in June. It seemed ideal. The lady who does the ordering at the store told us (TWICE) that they’d be ready in six weeks. Hooray! Large cheer! Thunderous applause!

Except they weren’t ready in six weeks. In fact, eight weeks went by and NONE of the bridal party had heard a peep from The Bridal Thieves. (Clearly, I’ve cleverly disguised their real name. OR DID I?) I began to get a little bit nervous. The bridesmaids were asking me what was going on. I said I had no idea, but that I’d call.

I called – many times. The first time I called, I was told that Satan (the woman who did the ordering) wasn’t in – but here, call her at her other number. (Her other number? I started to wonder if we had ordered our dresses from a drug dealer. If it was a beeper, I would’ve been certain.) I called, and Satan answered the phone…in Spanish. Now, I speak Spanish, but I wasn’t even going to try. I explained to her who I was and why I was calling. I was just calling to check on the order. I was completely and utterly polite. She asked if she could call me back the next day. I said, sure, and she took down my number (which is also on my order receipt).

She did not call back. I waited the whole day. By then, it was the weekend, so I waited until Monday, and I called back. Satan picked up the phone, and I (again, politely) explained why I was calling. She did not sound pleased that I hadn’t (miraculously) forgotten about this over the weekend. The weekend is not the river on Lethe, of course.

Again, Satan asked, “Oh, let me call you back in a few minutes. I’m with a customer.” Foolishly, I agreed.

She did not call back. I called the next day (all during business hours), but no one picked up the phone. I called the next day, and I finally got someone on the phone. It was not Satan, but one of her minions. Calmly, I explained to Minion my concerns – that the dresses were supposed to ready by a certain date, and that date was long passed. I was concerned about the order. She took my name and number and assured me that Satan would call me back that day.

Impatiently, I waited for Satan to call me back. She did, and it should come as no surprise that was just a little bit evil. She informed that she NEVER would’ve said the dresses would be done in six weeks (never mind that there were FOUR witnesses to that). In a very sweet sounding bout of condescension, she also asked if I would like their business hours, since I am absolutely free to call with any questions – but only when they are open. I told her, just as sweetly, that I had already written the hours down and always called during them.

She then dropped the bomb that the dresses wouldn’t be in for another six weeks. Yes, in plenty of time for the wedding, but not what was promised. The dresses did not come in until April 20th. The kicker? The BRIDE’s dress was ready in the beginning of April, weeks ahead of schedule.

In the end, things worked out quite well. The dresses are being tailored (somewhere else, thank you very much) – but the same woman who removed BF from her Attack Bridesmaid dress, actually.

And in a few weeks, my BF will marry the man that she loves. I will, of course, be there for her every step of the way. Especially now that I know I won’t have to show up at her wedding in my underwear.

Categories: Humor

Everything is Relative

May 23, 2011 1 comment

I forget, sometimes, how much perspective matters. Our experiences, good or bad, help to shape who we are — and how we see the world. It’s not the only factor, but it’s a large one. Each year that passes, each thing that happens, makes a little dent or impression on us. Some events help us to change for the better. Others, leave us a little bit on the limping, gun-shy side. There are a dozen things of grey in between.

We are made up of the shadows of our past, but that’s not all we are. We’re also our beliefs, our thoughts, our passions. We are, at our very best, defined by our openness. At least I think so. I think that those who are closed to a large number of things (change, trying new things, different opinions and views) are stalled. I think that it’s important to be able to look at life without failing to really see it. As opposed to simply seeing what we WANT to see and bending the world to fit our views.

I think our capacity to love defines us. To love honestly, and not just with the pretty rose colored vision. To really see what’s there and love that person anyway. Because we’re all imperfect, sometimes totally ridiculous, human beings. We have flaws. Flaws are good. It means we’ve still got bits of ourselves to work on.

Yesterday, I realized how much perspective matters. No matter how much we may try, we all see things differently. Someone said, with complete conviction, “So and so is such a joke.” And without thinking, I replied, “To you.”

And it’s true on both accounts. Neither opinion is invalid. I can see why that person might seem like a joke (and a jerk), but my knee-jerk reaction is not that thought. Life would be a lot simpler if opinions didn’t vary quite so much. If perspectives didn’t shrink and grow in proportion to one’s experiences and emotions.

There are times where I wish I didn’t see (or feel) things the way I do. But then I wouldn’t be who I am. I wonder, though, how difficult it is for others to see who we are. Or to look at things as we might. I remember a few years back, having a conversation with a college friend, who exclaimed with certainty, “Oh, but you’d NEVER do that.” (What it was doesn’t matter.) When, in fact, I had. She didn’t know that, of course. But it didn’t even register on her radar, and it was then that I realized she didn’t really see me. If she had, she probably would’ve noticed the darker bits and a few things she wouldn’t like.

Me? I’d rather grip the rose — to hell with the thorns. I’d rather see all the shades of uncomfortable grey. I’d rather acknowledge them. Otherwise, what you’re seeing isn’t truth. It’s part of it. It’s an echo of reality, not reality itself. Then again, that’s me. And everything is relative.

Being a Writer, the Internet, and Thank You

May 21, 2011 4 comments

Being a writer is hard. There are days where I pause in a fit of frustration and consider pulling a Plath: taking everything out onto the lawn (laptop included!) and burning it. Of course, I’d never really do that. But the temptation is there.

When the Internet and all its wiles is not busy distracting me, it is a wondrous place. Before it, you wrote completely alone. In a room, as Stephen King said, with the door shut. For me, the Internet’s not a door; it’s a window I can pop open. When I’m freaking out about something, I can ask a question (thank you Gayle, for entertaining my panicky “What am I DOING?” moments). I get to read Deanna Raybourn‘s fantastic blog (her Lady Julia Grey series is one of my favorites). I can offer Barry Eisler advice about traveling to India. And I can admire Kat Howard‘s writing process (you, Kat, have a gift). If I’m reading over something I’ve written, and it came out sounding a little dirtier than I intended, Victoria Dahl‘s going to hear about it. And if there’s a Princess Bride joke to be had, I’ll send it off to Sean Ferrell.

Most of the time, I’m sitting in my PJs when I do this. (KIDDING.) Although, I currently am. It’s Saturday. It should be called Pajama Day, since I don’t plan on changing. Also, if the world ends, I’d really like to be comfortable.

What was my point? (No, it was not obligatory name-dropping.) It’s that these things make me a better writer. There is nothing more reassuring than finding out someone shares your crazy writer quirks. Or that other people get just as excited about research books. Or that there’s someone around to laugh when you find a flagrant grammatical error (repeatedly) in one of those books. (Imbodiement? NOT A WORD.)

A lot of my every day friends aren’t writers. So, if I say something like, “That character just did something so strange…” I often get The Look. The one that says, “I think it might be time to take you to the nuthouse.” Or if I say, “I was up all last night reading about Norse mythology,” there’s a raised eyebrow and a sneer that shouts: BO-RING. (I will admit it. I was up doing that — and I might’ve used a flashlight just for nostalgia’s sake).

I have a tendency to gripe about life being crazy. This isn’t a gripe post. This is a thank you post for those writers who have been kind enough to answer questions, share funny jokes, or just make the day a bit brighter. Because we don’t often stop and say thank you as much as we should. You all definitely rock. 🙂

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a pot of coffee with my name on it. *hides permanent marker behind back* I have some editing to do.

Categories: Random Musings, Writing

Put Your Heart In It: When It’s Okay to Be Stubborn

May 16, 2011 5 comments


Today has been a weird day. It’s raining. My dog is laying on his back, with all four legs in the air. I’m drinking Tazo‘s Passion tea. Like I said, it’s been a weird day.

After a series of events and oddities, I started thinking about my life. Specifically, I’ve been considering the decisions I’ve made and how I’ve made them.

The last bit’s important. I realized that I cannot do something if my heart’s not in it. I cannot say yes if I mean no. So much boils down to knowing myself, I suppose. Knowing my heart and my limits. Knowing when something feels right — or when it doesn’t.

It’s taken me a long time to uderstand that little voice that squeaks, NO! or YES! That’s what I follow. Sometimes, it’s difficult to explain why something isn’t right. Or why it is, even when it sounds crazy. To borrow from Playing by Heart, it’s like dancing about architecture. That isn’t going to stop me from trying.

This morning, I passed on an opportunity. My heart wasn’t in it. It wasn’t something I could get behind. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense. To a lot of people, it might appear to be a chump move. It might seem stupid. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt it was wrong. So, to me and for me, it was.

Then again, other things in my life that seem wrong…aren’t. What’s right for me isn’t what’s right for you. There’s no one size fits all approach to existing in this world. That would be, among other things, boring. So, I do things a little bit sideways. I’m okay with that. It’s part of what makes me ME.

Every thing I’ve ever done, my heart’s been in it. Work, friends, relationships, writing. All there. All heart. The thing is, I don’t think I realized that until just now.

I dive in. Sometimes, it’s like jumping into a volcano with my eyes closed. Sometimes, it’s one of those bouncy castles. (Why don’t they make those for adults!??!) You don’t know, until you do.

I’ve seen so many people get into situations (bad ones) because they felt it was something they HAD to do. Now, I’m not talking about the everyday stuff — like taking out the garbage or doing the dishes. Or cleaning the bathroom. I mean marriages, career choices, and friendships.

Too many people settle — and then settle in. Sometimes, I think it’s routine that kills us. The inability to fight for something more, the tendency to just accept things as they are. I’m not speaking as a writer (although, that’s applicable, too); I’m speaking as a person. You know the people who are most apt to succeed? Those who don’t give up. Who fall off the bucking bronco, break a rib or two, and try it again.

Sure, broken ribs (metaphorical and real) hurt like a bitch. There’s only so much you can do to help them heal, too. A little tape. Some tequila. And…time. That’s it. But time’s the easy part. The hard part’s not letting the fear eat you alive. It’s not letting the memory of what happened get the best of you. It’s not giving up.

I’m stubborn. It’s genetic. Really. My family (on both sides) boasts a lot of stubborn. Especially the women. For good or ill, I’m also all heart. I think that there are worse things for a person to be.

No One Told Me There’d Be Math

May 15, 2011 7 comments

Putting a book together, to self-publish, is hard. Understanably so. However, I was a little unprepared for what I’d find. BEHOLD: 

  1. It involves math. At least if you’re doing a print copy. In order to format the cover properly, I needed accurate dimensions. There was an equation involved. Words like “trim size” and “bleed” were thrown around. My brain, miraculously, did not explode. (I’m an English major. Math is not my favorite thing.)
  2. Designing the cover is hard work. I’m pretty good with graphic design. HOWEVER, yesterday morning, I found myself having difficulty importing a picture, wondering which color the background should be (I had six different versions), and trying to decide why all the fonts on earth suddenly looked stupid. It was not my finest five hour span. I may have needed an unusually large excess of coffee.
  3. I used a template for the inside. The only trouble was that it was formatted for a novel, not poetry. I had to do some tweaking, which was fine. Except for the table of contents, which might’ve been my Sisyphean boulder. Also, the header was slightly evil, since it was alterating by odd and evil page. I suspect it was possessed.
  4. I’m completely neurotic. If there is a grammatical error, typo, or missing word — I may cry. I edited the manuscript several different ways — on the computer screen, printed out (three times), read out loud, read from the last page first, and finally gave it to my mother to take a crack at. If there is an error, it is not mine. The Crazy Word Faeries simply played a mean trick. Really. I promise. *crosses fingers behind my back*
  5. I’m still a bit weebly on how to price the collection of poetry. Somewhere between five dollars and a lifetime supply of coffee seems appropriate. I’m thinking around 12 for a print copy. I haven’t gotten around doing an ebook, yet.

There are more things, but I am in dire need of more java. Seriously. If I don’t get more, the world will end. Or I’ll just be grumpy.

What I’ve Been Doing

May 13, 2011 1 comment


It’s been a crazy week. Between Mother’s Day, my mom’s birthday, making my very first strawberry shortcake (!), and various other happenings, I’m beat. But that’s life.

I’ve been working on my poetry book, which has proven to be a huge learning experience. For one thing, I’m completely paranoid that I’m going to commit some sort of grevious grammatical error — and thus feel ashamed for the rest of my natural born life. I also had to tackle several formatting challenges, which required multiple fixes, and more patience than I thought I possessed. I *think* that the inside is 100% finished and polished. Right now, I’m working on the product description — and then on to the cover.

CreateSpace has this CoverCreator tool. I’m going to attempt to use that. Send wine. And chocolate. I have a feeling I’ll be pulling out my hair shortly.

So, enough about that. It’s really boring and self-indulgent. I promise you a real post tomorrow. One that’s much wittier than this. Or, failing that, mildly amusing.

Things My Mother Taught Me

May 8, 2011 5 comments


Even now, it seems like my mother has skills that I’ll never possess. Like sewing, for instance. No matter how much I try, my stitches look like I’ve made them with my eyes closed. One-handed. Really. It’s not pretty. There’s also the fact that her coffee always magically tastes better than mine, just like her tuna salad. It isn’t that I make either badly (I make good coffee), but hers always seems to have that Mom Magic element to them. It’s uncanny.

She’s the woman who stayed up until three in the morning, sewing a hoop skirt into my pink dress (it was for a birthday party when I was about eight), who handmade my Halloween costumes every year (and still would, if I needed her too–Jem and the Holograms is next!), who took me to the doctor every time I was deathly ill (and let’s face it — that happened a lot when I was little), who drove me everywhere I needed to go (and all of my friends, too), who never said ‘no’ even when she thinks she should have, and who still puts up with me somewhat gracefully, even in all my crazy madness.

She’s the person who believes in me, when I cannot believe in myself. Who tells me that I’m more capable than I think, even if I don’t quite believe her. And she’s the first person to call ‘bullshit’ when I chirp out, “I’m fine,” when it’s clear that a) I’m not fine, and b) that I’m a really bad liar. She’s also the person that you should never go Christmas tree shopping with, unless you have really quick reflexes, a camera, and are ready to laugh. But that’s an entirely different story.

There are so many things that I’ve learned from my mother. Too many to list, honestly. But I’ll share a few with you.

  • When cooking, cook as if you’re feeding the whole of Asia. No one should go home even remotely hungry. Also, make sure that you cook something for everyone. Trying to feed a vegetarian a steak isn’t exactly being a good hostess.
  • You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. There’s no cause to be unnecessarily nasty. Often times, being extra nice will annoy a crappy person more than getting angry.
  • Don’t let anyone walk all over you. If someone’s doing you harm, speak up. Stand up for yourself. (Okay, that’s a work-in-progress.)
  • Sometimes, you’ve got to fake it until you make it. Confidence matters, and the illusion of confidence works just as well.
  • Don’t throw spaghetti on the ceiling. That’s a waste of good pasta.
  • Sarcasm is a way of life. Learn it, live it, love it. Without it, life can be a bit boring. Bring on the snappy comebacks.
  • Help people when you can. Because you’d want someone to do the same for you — and it’s the right thing to do.
  • Never do something just because other people are. That’s not being your own person. That’s being a lemming.
  • Never underestimate the power of a hug, laughter, or bursting into song. They’ll make your bad days better. I’m not entirely sold on the song part, but nobody’s perfect.
  • Always try your best, regardless of what you’re trying to do/accomplish. Do things you can be proud of.
  • Never talk to strangers, or offer to help them find their lost puppy. If I hadn’t been warned of that as a kid, I would’ve fallen for that trick, I’m sure. I like animals. I’m trusting. Bad, bad combination.
  • Makeup should enhance your beauty, not make you resemble a clown. Or a raccoon. Less is more.
  • Don’t let fear hold you back. The only person that will be sorry is you. (Occasionally, I slip up on this, but again — human!)
  • Push forward. Don’t wallow.
  • Never underestimate the importance of family, even the crazy relatives generally mean well.
  • Always park under a light, and carry a scissor in your purse/car.
  • Wear a hat when it’s cold. I’ve finally gotten the hang of that. Of course, it might have something to do with my strawberry shortcake hat. It’s so cute.
  • Really listen to people when they speak. That’s a skill that not everyone can master.
  • Own up to your responsibilities, regardless of what they are — a diabetic cat, for instance.
  • And, lastly, always wear sunscreen, never smoke, and if you drink, don’t drive.

There are so many other things that my mom has taught me, shown me, or helped me to understand. I could keep going on and on, but my fingers are tired…and I need more coffee.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Hating Neil Gaiman is like Hating Kittens

May 4, 2011 1 comment


Check outside for winged pigs. Or the Four Horsemen. Even, if you’re feeling Biblical, flaming hail.

Do you see any? No? Me either. However…

It seems the impossible has happened. (No, I did not elope with Johnny Depp or Alexander Skarsgard.) This has nothing to do with me.

It appears someone hates Neil Gaiman. (I’ll wait for that to sink in.)

Isn’t that kind of…illegal? Or, at the very least, against the laws of nature? It’s like hating kittens or apple pie. Or kidney pie, I suppose, if you’re British.

I wouldn’t have thought that to be possible. Gaiman is a fantastic writer. That aside, as far as I can discern, he’s a good human being. He stays at signing until he can barely stand up. He appears to be a person who goes the extra mile.

And I know that for a fact. (He once did me a solid, though I sure he won’t remember.)

The majority leader of the Minnesota state house (Matt Dean) is, by all visible accounts, a giant bully. One who has reverted to high school scolding tactics akin those who never mature beyond the age of three.

He referred to Gaiman as a “pencil-necked little weasel,” and even went so far as to say that he hates the author.

Hate? Really? Is this Springtime for Hilter, because I don’t recall anything so grave happening that a politician should hate an author. Simply put, this man is incensed because…Gaiman was paid (with appropriate funds that were going to be lost, if used – if recollection serves) for his appearance. I do believe that the money went to charity, but I’ll double check that. Yes, that is the case. The money is a special allocation to benefit libraries. Also, the money was used to do good works. Go here to read about it from Gaiman himself.

For me, hate is a hard thing to come by. I rarely hate people, and even then, you must prove you have a gross lack of humanity and decency. Otherwise, I feel sorry for your misguided nature and move on. Mostly, I hate things – like cancer, or having to drive in a thunderstorm (or, that one time, in a HURRICANE).

In my humble opinion, that politician is way out of line. I don’t care what party he belongs to (way to class up the already poor image of the Republican party, dude). His behavior is appalling and wrong. Also, let’s argue a bit of semantics.

Dean claimed that Neil Gaiman stole money from the State. Because he held a gun to someone’s head? Because he robbed a bank? Because he raided the treasury?

No. No. And no. Nothing was stolen, Mr. Majority Leader. I’d suggest, at the very least, choosing your words more carefully. Unless you don’t want to accurately depict the truth? Perhaps you didn’t mean that as a factual statement?

Regardless, things like this are ridiculous. Unless you are five, and hanging around the playground, you should know better. You should conduct yourself with decorum.

Categories: only slightly ranty

Poetry, Self-Publishing, and Lines from an Old Love

May 2, 2011 10 comments


So, I’ve been working on this project. I’ve decided to self-publish a volume of poetry via CreateSpace on Amazon. (I’m sure I can somehow blame Barry Eisler for that. Or his freakishly perfect hair. *wink*)

This decision took me a while to make. For one thing, I’ve never been a huge fan of self-publishing. I don’t quite know why. I think it was an ego thing. I wanted to be chosen by an editor. I wonder if that stems from years of being picked nearly last for dodge ball. Or kick ball. Or the bane of my high school gym class: baseball. (To this day, I still discard the bat with more force than necessary. I don’t mean it!)

But poetry is notoriously hard to sell. It’s also difficult to profit from. That whole cliché about starving poets? Yeah, that’s pretty much true. This isn’t about making money, although that would be nice. This is about putting the work out there. It’s about not waiting around for someone to notice me. This is me, being proactive. (I’m currently not sure how to price it. I dislike the whole “art should cost .99” philosophy. It was Catherynne Valante who posited that people pay six bucks for a cup of coffee — why the hoopla about paying that much for a book? It doesn’t make sense. Also, as she pointed out, most CDs on itunes are still 10-15 dollars. A single song does not equal a book.)

It’s also rather scary, if I’m being honest. Sure, I have no problem publishing poetry via this blog. However, a whole volume? Out there in the world? It’s a bit daunting.

Like Millay said, I’ll be appearing (shortly) with my pants off in public. (Best quote ever:  A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down.) I know there will be some criticism. That happens with anything you write or publish. I promise not to have a meltdown. No one will make a hilarious coffee mug (I’m looking at you, Shaffer) in my honor. Unless it’s something like, “Coffee Vampire.” Because that is an actual nickname some people have for me.

The collection is tentatively titled Lines from an Old Love, but I might change my mind fifty more times before it’s done. I hope, when it’s done, you all like it.