Monday, December 30, 2013

Armchair Critic

Before writing Rock the Kasbah, I was a perfectionist.  Consumed with meeting the unique expectations of the various people I encountered.  I made the choice to value the opinions and voices of those around me over my own time and time again. In short, I victimized myself.  Writing the blog started the process of shedding the anonymity I clung to.  Writing the book, solidified I wasn't turning back.  And now, I'm a certified, card-carrying Born Again Imperfectionist.

The thing about being a writer, artist, singer, musician, comedian, dancer or anything in the creative field is everything you create is shaped by your life experiences.  And when you share your work with others, it's open to interpretation and here's the big one, the perceptions of others.  Which are shaped by the reader, viewer or listener's unique life experiences.    

The book was therapy for me.  I relived past hurts.  I looked at minuscule accomplishments that I never thought of as small triumphs and relabeled them.  I examined where I'd been and why and reprioritized where I was going.  I laughed a bit.  But, there were far more tears.  Because change is painful.  It hurts.  Especially, when the walls of deception you've clung to are pulled down and you finally see things for what they truly are.  Then the safety net disappears and you realize, the only person who can save you, is you.

With a hell of a lot of effort and contemplation, I live a far more conscious life now.

The writing, the self publishing and the marketing (that I haven't even begun yet), that's all on me, it's all a gift that I gave myself.  To continue to grow and challenge myself.  Warning:  This book was an extremely selfish endeavor filled with self discovery.  Memoirs usually are.  You might be on a similar path.  You might not.  You might like what I have to say.  You might not.  That's entirely up to you, the reader.  Every single one of us is an armchair critic.

Ultimately, our critiques of others are simply fragments of our fears or our loves combined with our unique life experiences reflected back at us.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Up on the Rooftop

Photo courtesy of melih_ozcanli, via Flickr 
Santa was very good to us this year.  But, that's not what this post is about.  This is about the real gift this year.  That after falling off of the roof back in October onto his head, that my husband is alive.  Although, he might not be for long.  Because it's entirely possible with the dumbass things he  does, that I may be forced to kill him.

In social circles I always get the sarcastic, "So's Craig been up on the roof?"
And the person asking always gets more than they bargained for.
"So, lemme tell ya this story…"

 I've told you before how we found out after we returned from living in Morocco that our house settled by 3 inches in our absence.  This may sound insignificant, but when we arrived home in June, to our house that doesn't have air conditioning, we opened the windows almost immediately. And it let in the balmy breeze, until we realized, we couldn't close our stupid crank out windows from the 80's all the way.  There was an inch or so gap. 

Before winter approached, we covered the windows with plastic and duct tape from the outside.  Anxious to see if the house would settle more before we fixed anything.  We already knew we weren't going to have the house jacked back up to level to the tune of $80,000.  But, we did know we would be getting new windows skewed on the same crooked line as the house so they appeared straight.

Just as we took off our ghetto window wrapping, the crazy Colorado winds came.  And they blew the window to Sky's bedroom clean off.  Yeah, that's how strong the wind gets here.  The kid didn't have a window for 2 months.  It was summer!  And he claimed to like the breeze!  And we don't have A/C!  So give me a break people!  We've got a lot going on over here!

Two weeks ago, we had the winds again, blowing at just the right trajectory to threaten our windows.  Except this winter, my husband fell off the roof and nearly died which has slowed him down a bit.  And, it got too cold too quickly to saran wrap the windows.  Which of course would require getting onto the roof. 

This time it was our bedroom window at stake.   And it wasn't a balmy summer breeze, it was a frigid arctic blast.  And the window was blown open to capacity and shimmying, threatening to take flight.   So I pulled it back in and attempted to finger the window shut, but it won't catch the latch.  Continuing to be blown back open.  Over and over.  Finally I tied a rope from the latch on the window to the bed frame.  If the wind was taking the window, it was getting a two for one at this point.  

 When Craig came home from work he examined the window and I left with the kids to chauffeur them to their after school obligations.  When I returned home, the rope was removed and the window pushed in. 

"How did this happen?" I asked knowingly.
"I just went out the other window onto the roof and pushed it in from the outside."  He said innocently.
"Are you fucking kidding me?  There is fucking snow on the roof!  And it's fucking windy as fuck!  And no one was fucking home!  You are not allowed on the fucking roof!"  

And that's how I almost killed my husband two weeks ago, when he almost died two months prior to that.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Party Games

I'm not a very social person,  most nights I'd rather be in my pj's with a bowl of homemade popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast and a glass of red wine falling asleep to some random movie.  Which is why I still don't know how Titanic ends.  But the Christmas season isn't most nights.  And this year especially, we were invited to a shit ton of parties. We're in social demand. I have no idea how it happened.  I can only assume it has something to do with the recent post about my vibrator.

Most of the parties we've been invited to I've known at least half of the people there.  Which is right at my comfort level.  The 50/50 split.  There're friends who can introduce you to other people.  Or now after much practice and many failed attempts at sociability,  I can be bold enough to start up a very awkward conversation on my own with the assist of a smooth Shiraz.  What I lack in a natural ability to schmooze, I make up for in pure determination to disguise my social anxiety and clumsiness.

Which may or may not have resulted in me spilling red wine on my friend's white carpet at one of these parties. Then trying desperately to clean it up with club soda, but the festive red napkins I used for the job only exacerbated the rosy glow.  Which is probably why I won't be invited back next year.

Most of the parties we went to were extremely Colorado casual and I was extremely unanxious about them.  Except for one.  The one where we only knew the hosts.  And I showed up in jeans.  And everyone else was dressed up.  And the house was much too clean and spotless.  And everyone there was either a doctor or an Olympic athlete and already knows each other from Christmas parties past.  I can do this, I told myself.

The polite small talk commences. 

Somehow, my husband and I end up chatting with the woman at the party wearing a wrap dress hiked up to there and down to there.  Actually, my husband starting talking to her first.  And I know why.  Because.  Boobs.  I know this, because during our entire conversation even I, a heterosexual woman,  could not do anything to keep my eyes from intermittently gazing at them.  And intermittently was using my willpower. 

This portion of the post has been edited out.  
It's about meeting someone that knows someone else you know. 
Then later, through a series of weird coincidences, 
finding out things you don't actually want to know.  
But now you do.
Although these things may not even be true.  
Because they're gossip.

After it was over, I thought of this bizarre new knowledge I'd acquired as an entertaining party game.
Until I started to wonder what the hell everyone was saying about us after we left…
which is exactly when this game stopped being fun.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cover Story

I wanted the cover of my book to convey so much.  Maybe too much.   Humor, intrigue and exoticism are just a few.  Then I wondered how I was going to capture all that in one image.  And when I thought about it more, I came back to a photo that Jade took of me in one quick take over a year ago.  One that captures my awkward essence. I had it.  The inspiration for the cover.

 Except it didn't look exotic enough.  Or funny enough.  Something was missing. A few things actually.  I'd have to take a new photo.

Back in October,  just a couple of days after my husband fell off the roof onto his head, almost died with an arm that looked like a billy club, I made him use his good arm to take photos of me. We only had a brief period to fit it in while all the kids were farmed out to friends' houses.  Made all the briefer considering we had to work in Craig's daily post accident nap and the fact that we had a  friend stopping over in half an hour.  No problem.  We can fit this in.  What's it gonna take 5 minutes?  Just snap it and move on, right?

Turns out, it took me over 5 minutes just to get dressed.  You try getting into a cold metal coin bra.  And getting your hair unstuck from the intricate jagged metal chain closure.
Without using scissors.
Then walk down the stairs with your roller skates on.

The stage in the front room has the best afternoon light, so we wouldn't need to use a flash.  I wanted to make sure that the skate was in the shot.  Which required I stick my leg way out (even though it doesn't look that way) arching my back while trying to keep the sword balanced on my oblong head.  And all the while I'm trying to make a face that says "WTF".  But, I'm also trying to make that "WTF look"  look pretty.  Not pretty psycho.  Do you know how hard that is?  DO YOU?  Take a break and try it in the mirror.

Craig, with his left arm in a splint raised above his head keeping his wound elevated to keep the swelling down, has the camera in the other hand.  And he's urging me to change it up and give a variety of expressions.  His arms are starting to tremble with overexertion and he needs his nap.  But we still haven't captured "the one" yet.  What we do have is nearly 100 photos that basically look exactly the same.  Of course, this is precisely when the doorbell rings.

"Am I interrupting something?"  Our friend Hillary asked when she sees me with her young son in tow.
"Oh trust me, it's NOT what it might look like", I retort.

After she left, we finally got it.  The one photo with just enough WTFishness and just enough roller skate.  Which I then passed on to my graphic artist friend, Lisa.  I went on-line and bought the image of a gorgeous Moroccan door.  And she brilliantly put it all together to make my cover a work of art.

So, it's totally ok with me if you judge this book by its cover.
(Wait til you see the back.)

***Addendum:  Craig is getting the plate in his wrist that on the x-ray looked like an IUD removed today.  I guess this means I'm responsible for birth control again.

****Secondary Addendum:  It's now available on and Barnes & Noble as a printed book and an e-book!  Amazon is up and running with free shipping even and Barnes & Noble is taking pre-orders until Jan. 1, the "official" publication date.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Friday the 13th

I didn't realize it was Friday the 13th until I was running errands and heard it mentioned on the radio.  I'm not superstitious and the day was going according to plan.  In that not much was planned besides washing my floors of the tell tale post snow mud prints and grime that filled the house.  I was thinking of calling a friend for a spontaneous lunch date.  It's a good thing I didn't.

When I got home and checked my e-mail, two things were waiting for me that I wasn't expecting.  The interior of the book.  And the exterior of the book.  For a moment I was paralyzed, not knowing what to do next.  I knew I needed a copyright.  So I started there.

I didn't get very far with the copyright website, when absolutely nothing happened.  So I started messaging Leah, my mentor, who's been through all of this before with the details of my snafu.  "Contact them", was the answer. But, I didn't see contact information.  Of course, I couldn't see it because I didn't have my reading glasses on.  Until Leah directed my attention to the minuscule 'contact us' button at the bottom of the page. 

Not to be deterred from getting something accomplished, I went to submit the book to the press for printing.  Of course it's not that easy.  It never is.  There's so many things to decide.  The size of the book, paper type, matte or glossy, just to name a few.  Then there's all the information that needs to be input.  The ISBN number, the publication date, the sale date and I don't even remember what else.  Probably because I didn't have my glasses on. And because I had about 10 tabs open, switching between e-mail, messaging Leah, the press, the copyright place, an alternative copyright place, copyright laws, the interior, the exterior, facebook and Twitter.  That's when I finished and placed my very first order for Rock the Kasbah, the printed book.  I was completely elated.  At least for a minute or two.

Until I switched tabs to Twitter and I heard about the tragedy.

The shooting just outside of Denver at Arapahoe High School.  I have two good friends who moved from Colorado Springs to Denver this past summer.  My friend Suzanne's oldest is in middle school.  My friend Mary's oldest is in high school.  But, I wasn't sure which one.  Until I got ahold of her.  And she confirmed the worst.  Arapahoe.  She was trying desperately to reach her daughter on her cell. I can't even imagine the thoughts that went on in her head.  And yet, I can.




After a couple of hours, a virtual eternity, I finally heard back from Mary.  Her daughter was ok and she'd be able to pick her up at a nearby church.  It wasn't until 5 that night, after working her way through all the camera crews that they were finally reunited.  And even though she was elated to see her daughter uninjured,  having survived by cowering in the corner of a classroom listening to the gunshots just two classrooms away, she sat alone in the corner of the church, friendless, 'the new girl' while everyone else comforted each other.  Devastated.  

 That this could happen.  And continues to happen over and over again.  

Elation and devastation.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Good Vibrations

Parental Discretion is Advised

After a frantic search for new batteries, shoving them in and then flip flopping them to make sure I put them in correctly without my reading glasses on, I realized it was dead. Then I did the same thing with my back up vibrator.  Which as luck would have it, was also dead.  Are you fucking kidding me?  What ARE the chances?

So, I took matters into my own hands.  No, not like that.  With the keyboard.  Ok, not like that either.  I went to my favorite on-line supplier to order my favorite vibe that tends to have some wiring issues.  I can tell you this because deep in a landfill somewhere are buried about 12 identical vibes. RIP. 

 When you find "the one", the one that gives you the good vibrations in all the right places, you don't switch simply because of a loose wire coupled with the total frustration/excitement of never knowing when and if it will get the job done.  I prefer to just see this as a whole new layer of kink. For free.

It was right after I hit the ship button that the panic set in.  When I noticed the default shipping address I sent it to.  In Morocco!  First I was mortified and pissed at myself.  Then,  I realized it is the season of giving and all and rationalized  I'd  given some Moroccan woman somewhere the best gift of her whole entire life.  Because, they don't sell sex toys there. You have to go to Turkey to score that stuff.  Which is why the flights from Morocco to Turkey are so inexpensive.  It's a frequent flier packed flight every flight.  

Unbeknownst to me, my husband, who knew of the untimely passing of my vibe, stopped at a sex shop on the way home from work to buy a new one for me.  Seriously?  Whose husband does that?  He's awesome. So he brought home this very thoughtful very phallic gift that looked like a doorknob attached to a shark jaw.  Every kiss does not begin with K. Like that jeweller would like you to believe. Some begin with V.  

That's when I told my husband about my new world-wide feminist non-profit sex toy organization.  AKA:  My Moroccan shipping mishap that unintentionally spread the love world-wide.

You may be shocked to know that my fuck ups no longer surprise him.  Nor did the fact that "JAWS" didn't do the trick for me.  It's hard to buy a vibrator for someone else.  But, that didn't stop him from trying.  He went back the next day and bought a second more subtle, less fishy hardware appliance for me.  The thing is, I didn't even ask him to do so.  But you know what they say:  happy wife, happy life.  

Which led to this conversation.

Me:  So, what is more embarrassing? Going to the store to buy tampons for me?  
        Or going to the sex shop to buy me a vibrator?  
        Not that I've ever sent you to the store to buy me tampons...

Him:  Buying a vibrator makes me look like I'm the man.  Buying you tampons means I'm a pussy.
           You're going to blog about this aren't you?

Me:   YUP.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Today is one of those days that I have about 10 different ideas of what I could write about.  Until I realized that all the stories I had to tell had one common theme.  Serendipity.  A seemingly magical force guiding me to something bigger.  Something deeper.  Something meaningful. 

I don't remember the exact moment I decided to make Rock the Kasbah into a book.  But, somewhere along the line while we were still living in Morocco, I did.  It didn't even seem like I had a choice in the matter.  Not from popular demand, mind you.  But an inner voice.  It could be a mental disorder.  Schizophrenia perhaps.  But, I think the voices would be more destructive if that were the case.  Like burn the books.  Or maybe that's just the delusion I tell myself.  

In the early stages when I talked to my favorite Indy author and mentor, Leah Griffith, I shared how kind of ridiculous I felt writing a memoir about myself.  As if I'm so important or something.  And I asked her about writing her book.  She told me she just felt compelled to write it. She just had to do it. Deja fucking vu!  

Leah was the one who introduced me to Laine, my editor.  The one who urged me to tell more of the story and delve deeper than I wanted to go.  And she told me I absolutely must describe every character physically.  Including me.  Do you know how weird and awkward that is?  

As the book progressed, I needed a proofreader.  While I was having lunch with friends, I found out my friend,Victoria, used to be a Copy Editor. Who knew?  Although we were friends, we weren't close friends at the time and she hadn't read my blog posts.  So she was the perfect kinda almost blank slate-ish former copy editor friend for the job.  Because of this intimate proof reader-writer bond, we've become closer friends.

Which is weird, because before I came back from Morocco, I sent the universe a plea.  Please, please bring me more girlfriends.  Women to laugh with.  Women to cry with.  Women to grow old with. Not that I don't have girlfriends, I DO.  But they're kind of like chocolate,  you can't possibly max out and not need more.

Which brings me to Lisa.  My dark chocolate loving graphic designer friend.  Originally, I was going to have my brother-in-law help me design the cover of the book.  Back then, I didn't have any idea what I wanted until I talked to him about it on the phone.  I started to think about all the things I wanted the cover to convey.  Then, I got an idea.  And he got busy.

Which is when Lisa offered to help me.  I honestly had no idea all the little minute details that go into making a book cover.  And she's brilliantly talented.  I can tell you this because it is done and sent to Kristen, the interior layout chick I found through Laine, the editor.

Over Thanksgiving, we went to my sister Kathy's house in Utah.  I didn't think to bring my laptop even though I knew I'd get the interior layout proof from Kristen and the front and back cover proofs from Lisa.  Which necessitated I  download all of it on my sister's computer.  Which I felt really guilty about.  Taking up valuable space on my sister's computer.  But now, she gets to be the first person to read the edited, proofread completed book. 

Do you see how all intertwined this is?  And how everyone in this post is a woman?  Coincidence?  I think not!

On the day of my annual Halloween party, right before most of the guests arrived, the mailman did.  And he came bearing the business cards I ordered.  Because, from everything I've read, I'm supposed to have a business card.  And I wanted one with style.  Which meant I was looking for one with a vintage typewriter on it.

Skip to my birthday.  No.  Actually, on my birthday I was driving back through the mountain pass of Colorado from Utah with 4 whiny kids.  So, skip to the next day when we celebrated my birthday.  And Craig gives me the gift he had bought 8 months earlier.  Long before I ever realized I needed business cards.  He got me a vintage typewriter made by Karmann Ghia in orange to match the convertible car he got me 4 years before.


When I think about it, I guess there's always been one man helping me with this book the whole time.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Forty Four

Yesterday was my 44th birthday.  And I'm not into big parties and presents.  No, every year I find myself contemplating who I am and how far I've come.  Because that's just who I am.  How do I know who I am?  Through a number of very scientific methods. Like...


A French variation of Mary. Also, the name for that irresistibly mysterious girl whom you see around often, yet know nothing about.

The French call her Marie, but I would call her absolutely divine.


Sagittarians are independent, impulsive, optimistic, idealistic, adventurous and ambitious. And they tend to gloss over problems. Wait. How did they know I do that?


I'm an INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judger). We only comprise 1-3% of the total population. So, as such I'm a protective freak. I live in a crazy, cuckoo world in my head where I drive myself to madness with my idealistic ways. Made even more complex by my sensitive, caring nature and highly intuitive insight. Oh and I'm creative and artistic. So, I'm also likely to either cut off my own ear or become an alcoholic. Maybe both.


My color personality is orange. I took the test on facebook many years ago, so I'm sure it's totally accurate. Everything on facebook is. So clearly, I'm adventurous, quick-witted, charming and spontaneous. And playful and creative. But you already knew that.


As the youngest child from a large Catholic family I'm a persistent, charming, tenacious, uncomplicated, attention seeking clown. It's like they know me or something.


Perfectionism personality trait characterized by a person's striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others' evaluations.This is really starting to freak me out.


A couple of months ago when I was at a friends house, her husband was sure my spirit animal is a bear.  I didn't even know what that meant, until I pulled a card from the deck and wouldn't you know it, I'm a freakin' bear. I mean like conclusively. So I'm courageous, strong and protective. Unless it means I need a lot of alone time, love berries and salmon and can be grizzly at times. Which is also true.


Ok, I don't know a damn thing about numerology.  But, when I googled my birth name (this is what the website said to use)I apparently have an urge to express myself in writing. I'm drawn to humanitarian and philanthropic causes. And I dream of artistic expression. This is sounding mildly familiar. But, what if I was actually supposed to use my birth year? Which is 1969. What would that mean? I'm just horny?

I think there may be something to all this shit after all...


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