Monday, December 22, 2014

Anticipation


It's that time of year where there's a lot of anticipation in the air.  But, this year, I'm not anticipating getting a Christmas tree.  Or baking cookies.  Or the excitement of seeing the joy in my kids faces when they open their presents Christmas morning.  Because none of that will be happening at my house this year.  Because this year, we'll be in Thailand on Christmas.

I am anticipating that I'll forget to pack several things, as I always do.  I would anticipate that I've screwed up the reservations somehow, except I already pre-anticipated that, which is why my husband made the arrangements.  But, I'm definitely anticipating crowds as we're traveling during the tourist season.

And I'm definitely anticipating whining.  Because even though the kids are extremely excited about our trip, they aren't excited about spending copious amounts of time together with their siblings. Why don't we anticipate solving this problem by taking a vacation without the kids once in a while?

You can anticipate that I won't be blogging or tweeting for a couple of weeks.  But, if the anticipation is killing you and you want to see a sneak peek of our vacation pictures, you can check out my Instagram and follow us here.

Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season 
and an adventurous 2015!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Whole Package


I want the whole package.  There, I said it.  And inside that package is a whole lotta intelligence, wit, charm, purpose, humanity and understated integrity.  I know it's asking for a lot.  I get that.  But, I also know that these are the things I crave.  I need substance.

And I don't mean just from my mate, who I'm extremely fortunate, exhibits all of these traits and more.  It extends far beyond that.  I want it in every aspect of my life.  So not only do I want the relationships in my life to fit in the box, I want the trips I take, the things I read, listen to and watch to check the box too.  Which is why it's gotta be a damn big box.

That being said, I don't have any desire to go on a cruise, read zombie porn, listen to any Iggy Azalea song or to go to see the movie Magic Mike.  In fact, there aren't many movies I'm actually that interested in seeing these days.  But somehow, I had seen the trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and was intrigued.  Not enough to go out and see it, but when I saw it at the library for free, I checked it out.  

We watched it as a family and it quite simply is the best movie I have seen in quite a while.  The kids even liked it.  All about living, really living, the life you want wrapped in a funny, heartwarming, inspiring bow tied whole complete package.  (Don't let the fact that I don't watch many movies or stay awake til the end if I do sway you.  )

So if you haven't seen it already, maybe you want to check it out too.  Consider this tip my holiday gift to you. 

ADDENDUM:  I just rewatched the movie The Terminal, last night.  It's well worth watching or watching again.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Red Lipstick Experiment


I went through this phase in college where I wore lots of make-up and had the world's biggest and stiffest New Jersey mall hair.  In my defense, it was the late 80's and early 90's and everyone made poor style choices back then.  As if being a sheep is an excuse.   So, my real excuse is, it was college and I was trying to figure out who I was and experimenting with my style was just part of a bigger inner journey.  Or some such bullshit.

Twenty something years later, I think I can define my style as "antisocial tomboy thrift store queen".  I dress for comfort on the cheap which fits my mom/writer lifestyle perfectly.  After all, I'm pretty invisible in both roles.  Who cares what I wear to chauffeur my kids around in?  Ok, my kids actually do.  Because god knows I can't wear the converse that my 13 year old daughter has adopted as her own, even though they're mine.  Or my grey boots that have the same shared fate.  Or basically anything that would make me stand out from the other moms.

But every once in a while, I'd like to feel chic and stylish.  
To try on a completely different persona.
To play dress up.

So, when I was at the orthodontist thumbing through the magazines in the waiting room, I saw a photo of a trendy twenty something wearing a bold red lip that captivated me.  Which is weird, because I've never been a fan of that look before.  Nor did I think it would look good on me with my long face and slightly pouty lips that are too far south of my nose. But, I couldn't shake the thought that I wanted to try it anyway.  Plus lipstick is cheap and doesn't require the commitment of say a tattoo.  

Three trips to the drugstore and three shades of cheap drugstore lipstick later, I found it.
Not fire engine or siren red, but a richer, deeper bordeaux.  

And I had just the perfect occasion for it.  A Festivus party where we only knew the hosts.  No one would know I was a complete red lipstick fraud.  Only me and my husband.   And he is not a fan of make up and thus, this look.  Although he did act as a good wing man when I did intermittent lipstick checks.  Is it on my teeth?  Does the red wine I'm drinking linger on my lips contrasting and competing with my lipstick color?  Then I had to make sure I drank from the same spot on my wine glass leaving only one lipstick mark.  Then there was the mandatory bathroom trip mid party to reapply after I ate and drank some of it off.  

Turns out, red lipstick is high maintenance. 
And basically, I am WAY too lazy for it.

So I'll take my Bourdeaux in a glass, thank you very much, and drink it up, allowing it to stain my lips (and teeth).  Which is the way my husband (and I) prefer it.  Au naturale.  And there will be no "Going Blonde Experiment",  just so you know...












Friday, December 12, 2014

Sprouts



This is my favorite brussel sprout recipe.  But, this post isn't about food.  It's food for thought.  And today I'm over at Sprout magazine giving you the dish on working it all out.

Check it out here

And as an extra added bonus here's the recipe for the brussel sprouts:

Slaw the sprouts.
Melt butter in the pan.
Saute those suckers.
Add maple syrup.
Then salt & pepper.
Voila!



Monday, December 8, 2014

The Secret Lives of Introverts


If you haven't met me in real life and for some of you, even if you have, you may not realize the extent of my introversion.  Because we introverts feel like impostors in an extroverts world, we try to fit in.  To act "normal" amongst the rest of you, who we figure, probably wouldn't understand our super secretive introverted ways.  See, we think that some of the things we think might make you feel slighted or uncomfortable.  When all we really want to do is protect you from our overly sensitive sheltered world.  If "overly sensitive sheltered world" made you cringe, you my friend, are an extrovert.  And you're probably not going to understand any of this.

But, I'm going to tell you anyway....

A lot of our energy is expended simply trying to figure out how to get our point across and be heard without drawing attention to ourselves.  This creates a moral conundrum every damn day of our introverted lives.  It's a huge internal conflict.  Which leads us to feel like crap.  Because we would prefer the attention be placed firmly on you needy extroverts.  Don't get me wrong, we love you in a very codependent way.  You can have all the attention, we don't want it.  Although, we'd prefer you to do it a little quieter sometimes.  And please don't step on our toes.  Even if we tell you it's totally okay and it doesn't hurt.  It does.  We just have a hard time telling you.  

But, if I do tell you something, know that I mean it.   Really, really mean it.  So take whatever I said to the 10th power.  That's approximately the correct introverted to extroverted conversion of meaning. Also, as an introvert, I'm not only listening to everything you say, I'm also reading everything you're conveying without words.  Like your body language.  We expect that you extroverts will reciprocate this kindness.  That is,  if you're not too busy dancing on a table or swinging from a chandelier at the party to notice the fact that we're trapped in a corner listening to your obnoxious Aunt Petunia, WHO WON'T SHUT UP!

When we disappear from the party altogether without saying goodbye, this does NOT mean we don't love you.  Do NOT take this personally.  It simply means our finite amount of social time for the week was up.  It's kinda like Cinderella, when it's time to go, IT'S TIME TO GO.  Really, you're pretty dang special if we showed up at your social event in the first place.  So, if you think of it that way, the glass (slipper) is really half full as opposed to half empty.  

However, if we didn't show up at your social event at all and provide you with a lame ass excuse, this again, doesn't mean we don't like you.  It simply means we're currently running on a social deficit.  And in order to get back to black again, we need to recharge our batteries.  We do this by being alone, consumed in heavy thought.  I know that sounds contradictory, but it's what we must do!  We don't expect you to "get it".  We just want to walk away from every social situation wondering if we came across as either a snob or a serial killer and then feel the need to over explain our often confusing and bizarre actions.  Or inactions, as the case may be.

It's not that we're unfeeling, to the contrary, it's often that we feel so much we get completely overwhelmed sometimes.  Or more than sometimes, as the case may be.  It's just that being alone allows us time to over think everything and come up with the absolute perfect way we should have answered your question.  Which we will be able to write a concise e-mail about week after the fact. 

We don't want your pity, we just want you to understand our often mysterious ways.
You know, when you extroverts have a minute, we know it's holiday party time and all...





Thursday, December 4, 2014

Soul Sisters


Do you ever see patterns and seeming coincidences in your life and wonder what the significance is?  One of mine is the fact that the majority of my family and friends are Scorpios and Sagittarii.  So this time of year, right before Thanksgiving up until Christmas, is what I refer to as The Birthday Season.  And I curse it because really,  can't we just spread all these birthdays out?  Because I feel like I can't really do anyone's birthday justice when they are all clustered like this amongst the turkey AND the mistletoe!

And how did I accumulate so many people with November and December birthdays to my life? Ok, so maybe I can chalk my family up to coincidence.  But, all the friends too?  It goes beyond what statistics can explain.  We're like 2 or 3 standard deviations from the bell curve here people!  This is an anomaly.

So let's think about this.  Scorpios, like my husband and daughter, are intense, passionate and focused.  Which I love.  I love their commitment and sincerity, which is probably why my friend Suzanne, a Scorpio, is one of my closest friends.  She and my husband have a logic that is pretty foreign and fascinating to me.  And also balances my Sagittarianism.  (Yeah, I made that word up.  Unless it's already a word. I can't be bothered looking it up. I'm a Sagittarius, so I can do that.)

Then there's the Sagittarii, adventurous, humorous and some might say frivolous and feisty.  Let me add impatient and inconsistent.  That doesn't sound anything like me.  Oh wait, yeah, it totally does.  So while Scorpios tend to be fantastic gift givers, I'm horrible.  Oh, I will spend a lot of time thinking about what to get you before your birthday.  Trust me.  But, I will over think my way out of 10 different gifts.  Not funny enough, not perfect enough, not the right color, not enough meaning.  Whatever.

Maybe, the odds will be in my favor and I'll find you the perfect gift.  But more than likely, I won't.  Oh, I do have the best intentions, really I do.  But I will resort to what I know best, spending time sharing an experience with you.  Because I'm Sagittarius, this makes total sense to me. NOW, LET'S HAVE FUN!

So this is exactly what happened yesterday, when it was my girlfriends' shared birthday, just two days after my own birthday.  And we went to lunch, which led us to this tea place which led us to learn about Chinese culture and basically everything about the owner of the tea shop.  It's not our fault we lost track of time and our kids came home from school wondering if we had run away and joined the circus.  Which could totally happen next year at birthday season, who knows?

I'd like to dedicate this post to all my soul sisters, regardless of what zodiac sign you are. I may not say it often, because I'm not a sentimental Scorpio after all, but I love and cherish your friendship more than I could ever express in words.  But I could probably charade it pretty well though, not to be boastful or anything...




Monday, December 1, 2014

Forty-Five


Today I am forty-five years old.  Every year right before my birthday I get really reflective.  Taking inventory of where I've been and where I'm going.  Reassessing if I'm on the right path.  And this year it hit me.  If I am lucky enough to live to 90,  I've lived half my life already.  And that's the good news.  So, that's when I got a bit depressed.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels twenty-five years old in my head.  That's shocked at the passage of time.  Like, just the other night I was watching 60 Minutes, another indicator of my age, when they noted the Chernobyl disaster was almost 30 years ago.  HOW CAN THAT BE?  I'm twenty-five in my head and the disaster I vividly remember watching on the news is older than me.  Something is not right!

How did I get to be a middle aged woman?
When did this happen?

Until I started to sort through everything.  All the really good choices I've made and all the really, really horrible ones that I wish I could go back and fix.  But, I know that the completely imperfect, but way more self accepting forty-five year old version of me only emerged from the yin and the yang, the good and the bad,  abundance and absence, pride and regret,  love and hate.   But ultimately, the integration of all of these things.  Knowing that I cannot be defined by just one mistake or missed opportunity.  The same way I can't by just one success or achievement.  

I own my shortcomings and my strengths now.
But mostly, I'm content.  

Yes, you heard that right!  CONTENT.  I've never been content before.  But, I like it.  A lot.  So what if my life is half over or more than half over?  Whenever my time comes I'm gonna go out swingin'.  Maybe on a pole.  Maybe on a trapeze.  Who knows?  And who the hell would want to?  Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some livin', to do...








Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Umm...Thanks, I Guess?


Why do I always get the crazy person at the stop light next to me who gives me the cranking roll-down-your-window gesture?  And why do I always roll down the window because a stranger is gesticulating at me?  It happened again just the other day, a very cold and snowy one.   And it was a man in his 70's.

"Your tag expired in July of this year", he said pointing at my back license plate.
"Really?  Ummmmm.......ok.........thanks."  But I really didn't mean it.  What I meant was what-is-your-problem-he-who-must-have-too-much-time-on-his-hands-and-misreads-other-people's-license-plates-I-have-places-to-go-and-things-to-do-mister!

But, I vowed to double check my tag when I got to my destination just in case.  And when I went around back, indeed the old crazy guy was........RIGHT.  How could this be?  Maybe we let one of the kids put the registration sticker on and they put it on the wrong car.  Or maybe one of them lost the registration postcard that comes in the mail.  Cause it must somehow be my kids' fault.

Then, I was talking to a friend who said someone peeled the registration sticker off of her license plate a couple of years ago.  Aha!  That MUST be it.  Some malicious douchebag stole my registration sticker off my car.  What IS the world coming to anyway?  Now I'm going to have to spend a week at the DMV to clear up this horrible act of vandalism.  Where is the humanity?  WHERE?

The next morning I checked the DMV website, looking for what documentation I would need to haul in with me to plead my innocence.  I ran my license plate number through the on-line system to arm myself with even more evidence for defending myself.  And to my horror, my car was unregistered.  And there was only one person to blame.  ME.

Cause you do know I'm an unorganized mess who constantly screws things up, RIGHT? 

So I tucked my tail between my legs, got the old registration and proof of insurance and headed to stand in line at the DMV, for what I was sure was a long haul, while texting my husband, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???"  To which he replied, "HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE?'  When I got to the counter in less than 5 minutes,  I didn't have to plead anything.  She was nice and helpful and assigned me a new sticker no questions asked.  Although when she handed it to me, I got all teary right there in the DMV in front of a stranger because I was so thankful.  And then I  had to confess the whole story.  Not that she even wanted to hear it.  

What IS wrong with me?  Why am I forgetting things and crying in the DMV?  Oh my god, I'm the crazy, old, suspicious, bitter lady who blames everyone else. because, maybe, I'm a premenopausal mess.  This is the long haul right here.  So I would just like to offer these words to my husband, family and friends both retroactively and anticipatory:  "I'm sorry!", for my inevitable screw ups and "Thank you!", for putting up with me!  

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!  







Monday, November 24, 2014

She's a Man, Baby


I have a confession to make.  I've been catfishing you, pretending I'm a girl. But, I'm really a guy.  Oh, I may not have guy parts, but my personality?  Well, I'm a dude.

I've always been a tomboy.  So I'm sure this doesn't come as a shock to anyone who knows me.  After all I had short hair, was flat chested and mistaken for a boy for much of my childhood.  And because I was so desperately shy, I wouldn't even bother to correct people.  Plus, I kinda understood boys more than girls.  Things are more straightforward.  Either that or they are completely ignored.  There's less of a gray area for interpretation and feelings.  Neither of which appeal to me very much.

Sometimes, I think my guyish ways could be interpreted by the girls in my life as being uncaring.  I'm not going to call you every week.  It's not that I'm not thinking about you, it's just that you should know I'm thinking about you without me calling.  I mean if you're girly can't you interpret and feel that?  Also, I will not wrap a gift in a beautifully glittery perfectly wrapped intricately chosen paper.  I'll probably throw it in a recycled gift bag.  Don't feel slighted.  It's just that it's practical.  And my guy brain only understands practical.

Like, I didn't want a diamond engagement ring.  Cause I hate diamonds.  I mean what IS the point?  But what kind of man would my husband be if he didn't put a diamond on my finger to stake his claim?  I get that and I wore it for 7 years.  Then I got the itch.  So, when my husband lost his wedding ring I looked at it as an opportunity.  I bought him a new one for our anniversary and got myself a plain band.  Which is what I have worn ever since then, cause it's what I wanted in the first place.  My actual wedding ring is in my jewelry box somewhere.  I think.  I'm not very sentimental about physical things like that.

Also, I don't want to have long drawn out discussions about my feelings.  Nor do I want to psychoanalyze what someone else is feeling or might have meant by that little thing they said 5 years ago.  Most times I don't even know what I'm feeling, so I can't even begin to surmise what someone else is.  I'm too busy clipping my fingernails and pushing back my cuticles.  (Ok, I only push back my cuticles like once a year.  so it's actually not that time consuming.)  Cause you know I'm not getting a mani-pedi.  Cause how ridiculous would it look to have gorgeous nails with my plain wedding band?  Then, I'd have to keep my nails nice once the nail polish started chipping off and I'd have to go back to the salon for upkeep.  Like on a regular basis.   Then I'd have to buy a Coach purse to go with my manicure and open toed expensive, uncomfortable shoes to show off my pedicure.  Who needs that pressure?  Not me.

So if you're my girlfriend and you've been wondering why I'm not calling you and don't give you beautifully wrapped gifts for like the last 5 years, don't take it personally, I'm like this with everyone. And if I've done something that's pissed you off and you give me the silent treatment, don't be offended when I don't notice.  This is just how I was made.  So basically what I'm saying is, I'm like your husband.  If you need something more than what I'm giving you, you're going to have to beat me over the head with it.

Cause I'm a man, baby!




















Wednesday, November 19, 2014

World Toilet Day


Let me be the first person to wish you a very Happy World Toilet Day!  Yup, it's celebrated every year on November 19th.  I don't know the significance of the date precisely, but it's probably when the weather turns brisk for those the world over that need to do their business outside in a back alley somewhere.  I'm not shitting you!

So, jump on over to Jummp and read my article I wanted to call Potty Talk, but got changed by my editor, here.

And for another poignant post on poop, an older essay I wrote,  entitled The Shit.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Buns in the Oven


I never expected this to happen.  Not at my age.  I mean I'm an intelligent woman, I know how things work.  And yet all it takes is once.  One little accident.  And then you're buying a whole new oven.

It happened when I was innocently taking a spice jar down from the disheveled and overstuffed cabinet above the stove.  That's when the crushed red pepper flakes went all rogue and maliciously toppled onto my glass cook top, leaving a huge crack and producing a never-ending fine powder of glass dust.  Not to be confused with fairy dust.

The appliance repairman who came to look at it was suspicious.  

"A spice jar did this?" He inquired.
"Well it was a glass one." I replied defensively.
"A dutch oven is usually the culprit."
"I don't even own a dutch oven,  I swear!  But, I am completely gifted at screwing things up and breaking things.  Trust me."

Then came the damage.  $550  and that's just to replace the cook top.  

Now, I hate the fact that we live in a disposable society.  I'd much rather replace the cook top than get a whole new stove. In theory anyway.  But it's a $550 price tag just for some glass.  So,  I'm not fixing it unless it comes with a personal chef who cooks the meal and cleans up afterward. Obviously, it's far more practical to spend twice that amount and get the double oven that I regretted not getting the first time around.  I'm sure the double oven will provide double luck at double the price tag.  Right?

So come tomorrow, I can put buns in the oven at two completely different temperatures.
What a doubly happy accident!
(Although I will NOT be buying a dutch oven to tempt a triple...)








Thursday, November 13, 2014

The College Years


I always thought I'd go to college.  But, I was never the type of student who aspired to go to some big name university.  Or be in a sorority.  Neither interested me.  I just wanted to get in somewhere and learn some stuff. Though I was always a decent student, I wasn't valedictorian or salutatorian material.  And the secret shame I've carried with me for almost 30 years is that I bombed the SAT.  Which for a girl from the northeast, where SAT scores are in fact the word of god, it meant I was a complete moron and therefore bound and determined not to amount to anything.   Even so,  I wasn't stupid enough for this fact to elude me.

So a couple days ago, I went to a meeting at my kids' high school on preparing for college.  Oh, I didn't want to go, because it's impossible to have kids who are almost college age when you just got out of college like two years ago.  Right?  But, I went anyway because I want my kids to have the biggest spectrum of opportunities available to them.  And I don't want them to feel like they're dumb and then obsess over that idiotic notion for the next 25 years.  Because that's a really stupid thing to do.

But, when I walked in that classroom, all those insecurities came rushing back.  

I was scanning for an open seat in the back row,  just like I always did in school.  Except, a friend saved me a seat in the very visible second row.  Dammit!  When I went for my Masters degree, I had a professor in an English class tell me he knew our final grades based on where we sat the first day.  And even though I sat in the "F" zone, way in the back, I aced his class.  I always wanted to rub his face in that.   Now if that was a math class, he would've been right.  Because I'm not an analytical thinker.  Which is why I bit it on the SAT and did just fine on the ACT and GRE. Not that I was consoled by either one of those and I continued to feel like a loser.

Which is exactly how I felt when a parent asked a question about her kid's calculus 3 AP class.

So everyone is talking numbers, financing, planning, organizing and football teams.  Dude, this is all the shit I sucked at the first time around.  I'm not an analytical thinker people, I'm a creative thinker.  So, I could write you a compelling essay about how I feel about college.  Oh wait, I think I'm doing that right now.  But, I am analytic enough to realize that the overachiever mom looking for a gold star and an "A" sat in the back.  Yes, in the "F" zone.  

What an effing brown noser!

By the time I left, I was completely overwhelmed.  Because I calculated that with my 4 kids,  I have eight more years of this college prep shit.  Oh,  I did the math people!  And that may be the highest level math I'm capable of.  So I took the next steps in college planning the way any sensitive parent would.    When my oldest got home from school I made him take the Myers-Briggs personality test to help him understand himself  and his strength better so he'd be better able to choose a major that fits him best and makes him happy.  And then I asked him how he felt about it.  Turns out, he's an analytical, take charge extrovert with little regard for feelings type.  My complete opposite.  

So maybe forcing him to sign up for AP calculus is what's best for him after all. 
Just don't tell know-it-all mom I said that.


You can take the Myers-Briggs test free on-line here.  Or force your kid take it.  Whatever.








Monday, November 10, 2014

Baby Lust


I saw her at a brewery on a Thursday night and I couldn't take my eyes off of her.  She must've felt the same attraction, because she kept looking over at me, flirting and smiling.  She was gorgeous with her big blue eyes and ginger hair.  Sitting in her high chair sandwiched between her parents without a toy or food or a sibling to distract her.  She was attentive and yet so lost in the moment, happily bopping along to the live music.  And I was completely in lust with her.  Baby lust.

Maybe it's the fact that I have teenagers approaching the college years.  Or I'm being nostalgic for a simpler time when my kids were babies.  Or close to menopause and thus the cessation of procreation.  Because why would I want to go back to those years?

Years when you're completely exhausted.  Waking up at 5am every morning to a demanding little tyrant who's dependent on you 24/7.  Where being able to take a shower alone and that far off milestone of them someday being able to wipe their own ass are the things that dreams are made of.  Not to mention the thought of saving tons of money when they don't need diapers anymore.  It was just a simpler time filled with delusions of grandeur.  

Because you didn't know.
And no one could tell you.
That parenting never gets easier.

It only gets way more complex, confusing and way the hell more expensive.  And while you may not have to wipe anyone's ass anymore or buy diapers for them, I'd actually rather do that than remind my kids to flush the toilet every single time they go because they seem to have forgotten.  And while they'll respond with the same curt, sarcastic out of office reply, "I know",  all I want is for them to "I do".  Which reminds me that one day they're all going to have roommates and/or significant others who live with them.  And I'm going to have to apologize to them.  I did my best to teach them to flush the toilet every single time, I SWEAR!

So, do I really want to start all over again with a little baby?  No.  But, I would like the innocence back.  Before it got complicated, back when I fully expected myself to be the best parent ever.  Back before I had kids and made a zillion mistakes.  But that's exactly what parenting is, an exhausting, confusing, complicated, beautiful, exquisite mess.  And I'm going to guess that the real reward is one day watching your kids venture out on their own to figure this all out for themselves.  And maybe one day they'll be deluded enough to think they'd be perfect parents too and start their own family.  And I'm thinking the best way to fulfill this baby lust is by being grandparents who can spoil them and then send them home.  

Just not anytime soon of course...


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Have you Seen my Mojo?


My mojo has been both bad and good.  Focused and unfocused.  Productive and playful.  Short term and long term.  International and domestic.  Lost and found.

And by mojo, I mean a magical fluidity.  
But it's not magic at all, it's man-made.
Completely synthetic.

When I have it, I see things clearer, I'm more creative and opportunities seem to present themselves to me.  But, this only happens when I believe in myself and my life is in balance.  Which is one hell of a feat to pull off in itself.  It requires dedication and commitment and a lot of other really boring, but extremely necessary fundamentals.  

And if one of those fundamentals gets off track, so does my mojo.
And then I need to work even harder to get back on track and earn my mojo back.  
Which I always manage to do.

So right now?  I'm in the zone.  My mojo's working.  Have you seen my mojo?  Cause it's spectacular.  Majestic even. But you probably haven't seen me around because I've been too busy.  So, you'll just have to trust me, it's awesome.

But anytime now, I could lose it and ask, 
"Have you seen my mojo?"














Monday, November 3, 2014

The Comfort Zone




I've been hiding in plain sight in the comfort zone for a while now.   In the beginning it had a purpose.  Post book launch I needed time to digest what I'd done.  To lament what I feel I could've done better and to celebrate the fact that I'd done it as genuinely as possible with imperfections I'd begrudgingly allowed to remain intact.  When my time came and went, I extended it like an after hours club that extends a party, but never lives up to it.  There is a timing to life.  Which, most times is the nemesis of the comfort zone.

Because, while the comfort zone is cozy, nothing much happens there.
It's a place to recover, not a destination in and of itself.

So, even though I'm aware I've overstayed my welcome like a bad guest, I'm having difficulty leaving.  And I'm making every excuse for myself that's at my disposal.  Of which there are many.  The kids have had several days off of school for this and that.  I've had travel articles to do.  And prospecting for other magazines.  And of course, continuing to blog and promote Rock the Kasbah by trying to develop new markets through social media.  But, as they say, the best way to promote your current book is with your second book.  

Which I've started, but it's going extremely slowly.  
Ok, it's crawling.
Because I'm actively avoiding it.

As you may or may not know, my next book is fiction.  And what you also may or may not know is I'm not a huge reader of fiction.  Nor do I have any experience writing fiction at all.  So because it's  unfamiliar to me it's also, uncomfortable.   It's not the writing itself that's the problem, that's been enjoyable.  It's the fear of writing it.  And the fear of something is always worse than the something.  No matter what it is.  Every single time.  

And most everything good in my life has occurred outside the comfort zone.
So it's time to stop making excuses and start getting uncomfortable again.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fair Weather People


I'm not a fair weather person, never have been.  If I commit to something, I'm going to follow it through.  And I freely admit I'm rather intolerant of people who don't have the same sense of commitment that I do.   It's not as though I don't despise the rough times as much as anyone else, I do.  It's just that I've learned to plow through it, albeit a bit passive aggressively.  Atlhough 'a bit' is minimizing it, a lot.  

I walk my dogs every afternoon, and neither snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness can stop me.  Although pelting hail will.  And if it's more than a drizzly rain, I can't manage two dogs on two leashes with two pendulous bags of poop while holding an umbrella over my head. So ok, I admit, there are some limits.  But for the most part, I'm out there every afternoon with my dogs Bonnie and Clyde, who together outweigh me by about 40 pounds.  And they're not very leash trained.  Although I'm trained to curse every time I see a walker, biker, runner, other dogs, the UPS truck, bunnies, squirrels or deer. Because these are the things set them off. Clyde being the most prone to misbehave, lunge and chase. 

They love our walks in the winter most, especially when it's snowing.  Bonnie shovels the snow up into a pile with her snout before eating it. And Clyde likes to walk slowly, I would say because he enjoys the brisk weather, but it's actually because he's lazy. All year round. Then there's me, layered in a jacket with a hat, gloves and boots with snot dripping out of my nose like a faucet, freezing my ass off. And even though there's still wildlife and the garbage truck to contend with, which may result in me being pulled off the icy sidewalk into the road in chase, it's still better than when the weather is beautiful outside.


Because, when the weather is sunny and gorgeous, everyone is out.  Riding bikes, running, walking dogs and babies, not to mention the crazy lady who walks all over the west side of town talking to herself.  And I get so, so pissed off and go into a passive aggressive diatribe in my head or under my breath.  Depending.

"Oh yeah?  You're walking your dog today in the sunshine, Sunshine?  I have never seen you before in my life and I walk this same route everyday.  So where were you yesterday when it was overcast and chilly?  You were in your cozy armchair with a cup of tea and a scone reading a book wearing your cheetah print snuggy weren't you?  WEREN'T YOU?  Guess where I was?  I was right here walking my dogs who happened to see a herd of stubborn deer who refused to move in a standoff that lasted for 5 minutes while Clyde barked and pulled me across someone's yard.   This is right before they came upon a bunny carcass on the side of the road that Bonnie picked up, began eating and attempted to bring home while I screamed like a little girl. I don't even know what possessed the Jehovah's Witness to try to give me a pamphlet.  I mean, sweet Jesus, my hands were full with two Safeway bags brimming with poop and I was double dutch jump roping two dog leashes.  And really?  Clyde barks at everyone!  Why, for the love of god, didn't he bark and chase her off?  WHY I ASK YOU???"

So yeah, if you're a fair weather person, I WILL judge you!  And I just realized I may be the crazy lady on the west side of town who talks to herself...  

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Legend Lives On


It's tradition, our annual Halloween party.  It's also a helluva lotta work. But I love it. Kinda like our dogs Bonnie & Clyde.  And every year I try to outdo the year before with an even better costume.  This year I got my inspiration while taking my pain in the ass outlaw dogs out for a walk.  After which I promptly found myself at the Goodwill texting Craig.  Making him believe he had some say in our costuming.  He didn't.

Please note:  The cigar is fake, I don't condone smoking.
Though the real life Clyde was the mastermind of their crimes.  Bonnie is the mastermind of this Halloween party.  Or at least of making a leg band holster.


 Because I wasn't in charge of the scavenger hunt, that was handed over to Sky this year.


Nor did I set up a whole seance tent with a homemade Ouija board on the patio.  In fact, I told friends there would be no Ouija board this year, after last years incident, you can read about here.  Obviously, we never got around to destroying it.


So obviously, we used it again and were suitably freaked out. Again.  And now it's tucked back in the crawlspace in my house.  AGAIN.


I also, was not the master of karaoke and did not perform Otis Redding convincingly.  Although I may have performed Aretha unconvincingly.  And oddly, while we were being the reckless Bonnie and Clyde, Bonnie and Clyde the dogs were angelic.  It was weird.


But the real outlaw at the party, was a young girl I didn't even know, who wasn't even invited to the party.  She was a Halloween crasher.  Ok, not entirely.  She was the plus one friend of a party guest.  And she ate, sang karaoke and then stole my freaking gun and pointed it at me.


If you see this girl in the Colorado Springs area, she's armed and dangerous.  Do not approach her.  Especially if she ate the chili, because then she's even more dangerous...


Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Case of the Lost Keys

It was a chaotic Monday morning just like any other, but I had a 9am pole dance class to look forward to.  Which made pushing the kids out the door after a long, long weekend of family togetherness even more rewarding.  When they were finally all gone, after a brief moment of solitary bliss, I went to leave for my class.  But, I couldn't find my keys.  I looked in all the usual places, to no avail.  There are two things that drive me completely crazy, losing things and staying home all day.  And today combined them both.

My keys were lost.  And so was I.  

After an extensive search, I called my husband to see if perhaps he had accidentally taken my keys.  And as we replayed the events of the previous day we concluded that my oldest son used them last when he moved the car the afternoon before.  So I called him.  And texted him.  While seething.  Of course, he was in class and had no idea I was a prisoner in my own home.  And head.  But finally, mid-day after more looking, re-looking and obsessing over my keys, he got back to me.  No, he didn't have them.  Which only made me certain he didn't even look.  

Which only made me more obsessed and more enraged.

And even though I was positive the keys were in his cargo shorts pocket, it didn't stop me from tearing the house apart.  Looking in new more obscure places like the cleaning closet.  I mean who would go in there?  And old places I'd already looked about a hundred times.  I kept telling myself to stop searching, but somehow that only fed my urgent need to find them even more.  Until he came home from school and I was nearly in tears.  Because by this time, I realized that the keys to the safe where our passports are kept are also on that ring.  And I didn't want breaking into the safe and then replacing the safe on my to-do list.  Among other things.  Although my son assured me again, he did not have the keys, he did do a good faith search to help me find them.  Which after about a half an hour, he did.  

Right here. 

Now, I know what you're going to say, "Good god woman, you're a moron! They are right there on that hook on the side of the fridge."  And yes, this is completely true and valid.  However, I'VE NEVER SEEN THAT HOOK BEFORE IN MY LIFE!  Neither had my son or my other son. Trust me,  I did a full CIA interrogation. Until I called my husband again.  He'd found the hook in the Halloween decorations the day before, but did not put my keys on it.  Jade did because she thought it was the perfect place to store the keys.

RIGHT THERE IN PLAIN SIGHT!
My name is Marie and I'm a moron.






Monday, October 20, 2014

Fright Night


While I love halloween, I don't like scary movies or haunted houses.  Maybe because my childhood home looked exactly like the Amityville Horror house.  No joke, creepy attic windows and all.  That and that haunted house I went to when I was in college in Alabama.  Where one of the gory characters chased me down through the enitre house.  Ok, it's because I lost a barrette and he was trying to return it to me.  Of course, at the time,  I had no idea that was the reason.  And that year I spent in Alabama for college?  That was a horror story of a completely different kind.

So when Craig suggested it would be fun to go to The Haunted Mines here in town, I was immediately looking for an out.  Until he told me he already bought the really expensive tickets for all of us and then broke the news it would take 30 minutes to go through it.  Then I searched even harder for an exit strategy.  But, in the end, I couldn't come up with one.

Before I even stepped foot inside, I was terrified.

It started in line, where we waited for over an hour just to get to the front for our turn.  It's not that the suspense was building so much as it was the teenage couple who made out directly in front of us during our wait.  Talk about grotesque!  Then they started to play guess which movie on the outdoor screen, yup, Amityville Horror.  "Look kids, where the flies attack the priest, that was where my bedroom was in grandpa's house." 

Then finally, it was our turn.  

And a funny thing happened.  I became hilarious.  Oh, I'm not joking.  Let me assure you, I definitely didn't go in first, cause the only funny thing about that would've been me peeing myself.   But, when I knew exactly what was coming because Jade's brave friend went through first, then I could devote myself fully to trying to make the actors break character and laugh.  And it worked.  Not just once, but several times.  

Cause when I'm trying to cover my unease, I always try to make people laugh.

So, when a zombie crept up behind me and whispered in my ear that he wanted to take one of my children, I responded the only way I could.  "Take them all, they're expensive.  Dude....the college years are coming.  Oh, not the really blond girl though, she's not mine.  But, the other four, definitely."  This was after I complimented the creepy dolls on their synchronized messy pigtails, asked the guy in the haunted saloon if they served alcohol and introduced a guy to the group the Pet Shop Boys by singing West End Girls to him.  He even stopped my husband, who was at the end of the line, to ask him what the name of the song was again, so he could look it up later.  That's how compelling my performance was.

OMG, zombies and other creeps totally get me!

Since my family doesn't laugh at my jokes anymore or acknowledge how funny I am, even though I've assured them many times that I am, I think I'm just going to have to go to haunted houses just for the validation.  Although,  I'll make sure I'm completely barretteless first.




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wine Enthusiast

A sampling of my wine cork selection.  
By now you may know I really like wine.  Only red though.  And I prefer it to be bold, full bodied and not come out of box or have a screw cap.  I have nothing against screw caps per se, it's just that removing a cork adds a little more pageantry to the process.  This is in direct contradiction to everything else in my life, which I like to keep casual and understated.  Everything except my wine.

I want it to be an experience, to savor it.  
But, maybe that's because I'm spending at least $10 a freakin' bottle.
In my defense the labels are beautiful...

Bring on the freakshow!
Ok, not so beautiful, more confused, as was I when I bought a $6 bottle of crap
solely because the question mark on the bottle was my favorite color,
And come on, this bottle of red is perfect for when Aunt Flo comes to visit.
HOW AWESOME IS THAT? 
Of course I like my red served up with a gourmet meal
with a side of deep, meaningful adult conversation.

And I also love to enjoy it outside in a stemmed glass sitting at the tiki bar.
(Don't even get me going on those new sub par and less elegant stemless wine glasses....ughhhh.)
But, if I have no other choice,
 I will drink it out of a clearly labeled plastic cup.  
And I think we all know how a night with a nice bottle of red with a cork sipped from an elegant stemmed glass with  a gourmet alfresco meal  with deep, meaningful adult conversation has to end.  With some spicy dark chocolate, preferably
while getting spicy in the hot tub.

Please note:  This post is pure fantasy void of all the realities of 4 whining ungrateful teenagers ruining a gourmetish meal I slaved over for an hour.  Completing the picture with broken corks crumbled into the wine served in dusty chipped wine glasses that fruit flies have committed suicide in while we're fighting about who got a window seat when we flew to Portugal.  And someone forgot to put the chemicals in the hot tub, so I end up falling asleep on the couch.  AGAIN.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Special Report


Interrupting your regularly scheduled blog post to bring you this special report.

For those of you who may not know, I'm now a writer at Jummp on-line travel magazine.  And for my second article with them I was assigned the topic of pot tourism in Colorado.

So you jump on over and see what I had to say here.

And here's last months article on traveling with kids I wrote.

Oh and next month, I'll have an article on toilets you won't want to miss...

Monday, October 13, 2014

That 70's Post


Last week I found this vintage Mountain Dew t-shirt at a thrift shop.  While I hate the soda, I love old things, like the Adidas sneakers I paired with it.  The same ones I always wear camping and hiking.  The ones my friends make fun of like I should be in a Run DMC music video.  I don't care that they aren't fashionable anymore.  There's just something about the 70's that makes me feel connected to a simpler time.  Maybe because it was my childhood.

And don't we all idealize the past? Like if we just go back far enough we'll find the part where it all started to take a turn for the worse.  Which of course started with the Big Bang.  But right now, sandwiched between ISIS and Ebola, what's the harm in a bit of reverie?

They called the 70's the "Me Decade", obviously no one could have foretold that the "Millennials" would take individualism to a whole new level, until everyone was so individualized that everyone kinda became the same again.  Like Sneetches.   But alas, this was the only epidemic in the 70's which was sandwiched between polio and the HIV epidemic.  There wasn't a major health scare.  In fact you could smoke anywhere and everywhere and no one wore a seat belt ever.

The biggest crises of the day were the oil embargo, stagflation and at the tail end, the hostage crisis.  The hostage crisis which the charismatic Reagan gets credit for ending, when modest Carter was the workhorse behind it.  Environmentalism from the 60's was picking up steam and Greenpeace and granola emerged on to the scene.  And I had a pet rock, earth shoes and desperately longed to have my very own Sunshine Family complete with pottery wheel and jeep like my friend Lisa,  instead of the hand-me-down metal roller skates that strapped on over my sneakers.  Cause really how stupid are metal wheels?  All I wanted was to watch roller derby on tv and own the new fangled all in one Adidas sneaker skates.


No, the 70's weren't perfect.  Need I remind you of Nixon?  And that Ford pardoned him in the same decade.  The song Afternoon Delight was on the radio as was the group Wings.  I don't care that Paul McCartney was in it, it sucked.  Even as a kid without access to an ipod chock full of songs tailored to my own personal taste, I knew this.

But when things get stressful and look dire, this is where I go back to in my mind.
The 70's, a simpler time, if only in my mind.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

That Magic Moment


Have you ever been in a moment that is so magical you want to suspend it in time so it can last forever?  Yeah, well mine is gone.  Ok, it was more like a stream of moments put together that were my kids' single digit years.  And though my youngest,  Ember, isn't double digits until next month, we've bridged one of those major magical milestones, confirmation that Santa (the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy) isn't real.

I couldn't wait for this magic moment to come or so I thought.  Hiding the gifts "from Santa" was getting exhausting with 4 snoopy kids.  In addition to answering the increasingly intricate questions of how he gets all those presents to all those houses.  Putting out and eating the cookies and carrots on Christmas Eve was a burden.  Maybe that wasn't so hard.  And to be honest, we didn't eat the carrots, we just put them back in the fridge and pretended the reindeer ate them.

Though I couldn't wait for the charade to be over, I still didn't want to tell Ember quite yet, except we're going to Thailand over Christmas.  And I don't have the energy to hide stuff from Santa in the luggage and try to pull off a magical Christmas after 24 hours of traveling with 4 kids and little sleep.  But I really feel like an era is gone now.  And I want to take it all back.  To pretend that magic still exists and try to keep my kids in a suspended state of innocent wonder where good things come to good people forever.

But instead, I'll have to accept that the magic moment is gone.  That they need to experience all the wonder of the world.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  And they'll need to learn how to make their own magic.   And how to savor and celebrate it in all its fleeting delight.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Timed Out

Sometimes, I want to show you new things I can do on a pole.  But, you might not know how difficult these things can be to capture.  Because I take them with a self timer.  Meaning, I have exactly 10 seconds to set the timer, determine the best angle for the shot, hop on the pole and hold it.  Often with blood rushing to my head and it's hard not to look ridiculous with a vein popping out of your head, especially when you're in pain on top of that. And there are so many times I can't even get into the move in 10 seconds.  So I have a lot of shots of me in weird positions looking pissed.  Really, really pissed. Cause I am.  If I shot it in video, it would be a stream of curses.

This is one of my favorite moves,
 bonus, it's fairly easy to photograph too

Butterfly is also highly photogenic.

This was me attempting superman,
which looks nothing like this, I just timed out.

This is an attempt at pyramid,
which I did get later.

And this is an early dismount from something,
I have no recollection of...all that blood rushing to my head and all.

This is Gemini, unless it's Scorpio.  I'm turning my smile upsidedown here
 cause I don't particularly like this pic

Pyramid, nailed it!
Unless it's called tripod...

This is triangle or "d" or in my case backwards "d".

Just made it, you can see my hand is still in motion.
This knee hold must've taken about 15 tries
and I still have the bruises to prove it.
If you haven't timed out and want to see me at my last recital with the lights on even, here it is...



Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Body Image Post


I'm almost 45 and the most fit I've ever been.  Achieved through nothing less than hard work and making a commitment to staying healthy every day.   So when I recently saw some professional photos of a friend, I thought maybe I'd like to get some done.  So I started researching "boudoir photos".  And for 24 hours, I considered it.  Until I realized, this kind of photo isn't me.  Lingerie and lots of make-up aren't my thing.   Maybe that was the temporary appeal of it all, to feel and look like someone else.  Someone I'm not. 

Gabrielle Reece
Then, I asked myself what it was I really wanted out of this whole photo shoot thing.  And the answer is, I want to accept myself for the way I am: short legs, small chest, thin straggly hair with receding hairline, a giraffe neck, accompanied by an extremely long cheekboneless face with a big chin and forehead.  By seeing my body for what it is and what it can do.  Not my body in comparison to other women.  And not to make anyone else feel inadequate, but to send the message that with dedication and sweat equity, anything is possible. Especially in your forties and beyond.  Especially for my daughters.  Especially in a world of feigned photoshop perfection.

Malia Jones
The women I find the most attractive are those that live their passion and push themselves beyond their limits.  Doing it with a sense of grace that makes it appear effortless but only comes from failing a million times over only to get up and try again.  Women who don't cover up their flaws, but instead flaunt them and the imperfections that make them beautiful.    These are the women I want my daughters to look up to and emulate.  Which is exactly why I'm going to stay true to myself.

 Never been a fan of lingerie. I like comfy, cotton underwear dammit!
And stilettos? I'll stick to my chucks, thank you very much.

But, who knows, if a photo opportunity for a natural over 40, non-surgically enhanced fitness model who's really uncomfortable in front of the camera comes along, maybe I'll take it.   But, I definitely won't be sitting around waiting for that to happen.  I've got pole moves to master and Jillian Michael's ass to kick.  

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