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Lemonade

May 20, 2017

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Right? That’s what we’re told. And yet, turning something bad into something good inevitably pisses someone off. I’ve been working diligently on being more positive and trying really hard to not wallow in the crap. That’s a difficult thing for me to do – not wallow. I let things get to me when they shouldn’t. 

Lately my life has been a series of tsunamis. It’s been wave after wave of crap coming at me and I’m letting it all get to me. Which means I have puffy eyes and there are dust bunnies all over the house. I’ve managed to stay on top of work, but it’s taken a Herculean effort to stay focused. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes in my work because I am so distracted.

I’m not sure how to make lemonade. Each morning I wake up and try to psych myself up for the day.

“I’m not going to let all these assholes get me down!” I tell myself. 

I start pretending I’m Rocky in the first Rocky and I’m jumping rope to Eye of the Tiger.

I’ve got this, even if I am out of breath before the first chorus.

And then something else happens. Today my basement is flooded. It’s no surprise, it rained two inches last night and my basement leaks like a sieve. I was just hoping to have a dry year this year.

My plan for today was to launch a GoFundMe campaign to presell my book so I can finally get it published. I need to have it professionally edited, I need to get a cover designed and I need a kick ass marketing campaign. I have an agency who rocks, just not enough cheddah in the budget. I’ve been putting it off because I don’t want to ask for help. I hate asking for help because it makes me feel weak and vulnerable and then I start telling myself that I am not worthy of help and the next thing you know I’ve gone down that rabbit hole I’ve spent years trying to climb out of. 

That was my plan, and then the same shit that happens over and over happened again. It seems every spring the basement floods and my ex threatens to drag me to court. Inevitably the dog will pee on the couch which will send me over the edge for a few minutes. Of course the dog pees on the couch because he is afraid of the rain, and because I forgot to put his diaper on.

Every year it is the same. 

I can’t seem to get out of this rut no matter how hard I try. It was my plan to launch my GoFundMe campaign 15 days ago. It’s been ready to go, but I’ve been too afraid to launch it. Actually, turns out I did launch it, I just didn’t know it (shut up! I’ve been a little distracted). What I am afraid to do is promote it. 

Thing is, nothing will change if I don’t start taking some risks. This is scary. I can’t even begin to tell you how scary this is. What if no one wants my book? I’m trying to presell it because that seems less like begging, but if no one wants it then what am I going to do? 

I’m not going to worry about that. Just like I’m not going to keep giving those negative thoughts anymore space in my head. 

If you’d like to pre – purchase my book – Minnesota Nice – you can do so here. If you’d like to learn more continue reading….

About Minnesota Nice

I’m wrote a book about my family.

It doesn’t sound all that intriguing does it? Wait, it gets better. You see my mom had a stroke when I was four years old, leaving her severely mentally and physically handicapped.  A few years later my father revealed that he was gay. A few years after that my brother came out as a Republican. You can’t make this stuff up.

Statistics from the Straight Spouse Network assert that up to two million gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals in the United States are or have been heterosexually married. Another demographics study showed that of the 27 million American men currently married, 1.6 percent, or 436,000 men, identifies themselves as gay or bisexual. Countless children have come of age in what is commonly referred to as a “mixed-orientation marriage,” most simply try to move on, too ashamed to admit that their family was any different from the norm. Even as adults they keep their skeleton in the closet, afraid to appear anything but like the wholesome Brady Bunch. Guess what? Mr. Brady was gay.

We were different and I’m no longer ashamed to admit it.

This is not anti LGBT. While I am sure fewer mixed orientation marriages take place in 2017, they still happen. The shame of growing up in one of these families is not due to a gay parent, it is due to the deception and lying that the parent must maintain to keep the secret. 

This is not some dry memoir. It is filled with humorous stories of a family trying to figure out how they all fit together. There are heartbreaking moments as well, but all told with the love and clarity that can only come with years of distance and a few dead family members.

Minnesota Nice has been compared to Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, The Fault in our Stars by John Green and most recently to 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. 

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Let’s Talk about 13 Reasons Why

April 28, 2017
Let's talk about 13 reasons why

By now you’ve heard all the hype about the Netflix series, so let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why, shall we? This is about my 5th attempt at writing about the show, and it probably won’t be my last. 

Before we go any further **** Major Spoiler Alert**** don’t read anymore if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens.

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on the Jay Asher book of the same name. It covers the themes most high schoolers, and many middle schoolers face every day – including bullying, rape and suicide. It’s graphic and the internet is losing its collective shit over it. Schools are sending notes home about it, every single newscast has covered it and you can’t surf the web without finding blog posts just like this one defending it or criticizing it. Paris Jackson is one of many people telling people not to watch it. I’m here to tell you, if you have kids, you should definitely watch it if for no other reason to understand what kids go through on a regular basis. 

While I have some issues with the series, I think it is always a good thing to talk about the stuff that scares us. Bullying, rape and suicide as well as teen drug and alcohol use, is scary stuff, but if we want to help kids navigate these complicated thing we’re going to need to have a dialog. 13 Reasons Why gets that dialog started.

Suicide is Never Painless

You can read a much better synopsis here, but in a nutshell the story is about a Clay Jensen, a shy high schooler who is given a shoebox of numbered cassette tapes created by Hannah Baker, a friend of Clay’s who recently killed herself. Each tape details one of the 13 reasons why she killed herself and those responsible have listened to the tapes and have been instructed to pass them along to the next person on the tape, which is why Clay has them. According to Hannah, he is partly responsible for her suicide.

Clay is responsible for her death in that he didn’t come out and tell her how he felt about her. His is one of the lesser reasons why she killed herself, though it torments Clay that he didn’t do more. Other people on the tape have teased her, bullied her, humiliated her, stabbed her in the back, and finally raped her. She even includes her guidance counselor who suggests she move on after she tells him about the rape, instead of going to the authorities and having the little snot arrested. 

It is then – when the counselor lets her down – that she comes up with the plan to create the tapes and then kill herself by getting into the bathtub and slitting her wrists – depicted rather graphically in the show.

I should mention, I have not read the book. I understand it has a different flavor to it, and I suspect it doesn’t come off as flippantly as it does in the series. I loved them, but the series felt like a too long After School Special. 

Aside from how it ends – with Hannah killing herself – there is nothing in this series that I, and many of my friends, didn’t experience at that age. What happened to Jessica – raped while passed out drunk, and Hannah – overpowered and raped, is actually quite common. Now we call it date rape, but when I was growing up it was called being in the wrong place at the wrong time or asking for it. We’ve come a long way, because we’ve been willing to talk about it. So let’s keep talking about it because clearly it’s still happening.

Teenage Wasteland

I thought the depiction of teenage life was incredibly accurate. Kids drink, they take drugs, they have sex, and they do a lot of stupid things – all while parents and teachers look the other way because they don’t want to dig too deep. My book, Minnesota Nice, is about all of these issues (I’m working on publishing soon, stay tuned for more info about that).

I also thought the depiction of the aftermath of her death – how her parents react and how the kids deal with it – was pretty well done. I didn’t see any glorifying of suicide. 

My issue is with Hannah’s storyline. She’s depressed and yet she is still motivated enough to create these 13 tapes. I get that they’re a device to move the plot along, it just seemed heavy handed to me. Plenty of teenagers kill themselves each day, most do so quietly because they already feel as though they don’t matter and that no one cares. Hannah obviously thought enough people would care to listen to the tapes. Hers was the sort of suicide most teens have fantasized about – getting even, even if it means getting dead. 

Trigger Warning

Since the show has come out, many teens, teachers and parents are worried that the show is triggering and therefore shouldn’t have been made. I can’t even begin to understand that kind of reasoning. If something is triggering then it absolutely needs to be discussed. Possibly with a professional, but certainly with a parent or trusted teacher. 

I lost three friends to suicide when I was a teenager. It’s an absolutely horrible thing to experience. And yes, cluster suicides are a thing, which is why we need to bring suicide out into the light. Thinking about suicide shouldn’t be taboo – because I promise you every single teenager (and more and more middle schoolers) have thought about their own suicide. I would hazard a guess that every human that lives and breathes has at one time or another contemplated taking their own life. And yet, we make the thought of it something to be ashamed of. 

When asked on most pediatrician questionnaires if they’ve considered suicide before, most teens will lie because they fear being pushed into therapy or the psych ward for thinking about something that is actually pretty normal. I know I have. 

It Gets Better, Promise

Life is scary, people are mean, and bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get better. It usually always gets better. And that’s the point of the series, to show how wasteful suicide is. Hannah was a smart, funny, caring, and loving young woman. She had everything to look forward to in her future, she just couldn’t see past what she was experiencing to believe it would ever get better. We need to impress upon our kids that the pressure cooker that is middle school and high school gets better. If they can just hang in there (with professional help) they will be okay. Life is always a struggle, and for some it is much worse than for others. Life is not fair, but it does get better. The more we talk about these things the less damage they can do. 

I grew up reading books like The Bell Jar, Go Ask Alice and other rather dark tales about teens descent into the abyss. Teenage years can suck for a lot of people, they did for me and many of my friends. Having those books, seeing the After School Specials, helped me feel less alone. Because if people are writing about these topics and they’re making movies and TV shows about these heavy subjects, it means someone else has experienced these shitty things and managed to not only survive, but somehow thrive.

Let’s keep talking about Thirteen Reasons Why.

 

 

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Compliment Freely

April 25, 2017
compliment freely

Do you compliment freely? Which do you do more often – compliment or criticize? The consensus seems to be that we are in a hand basket on our way to hell. It doesn’t matter where you look, people jump on each other for saying or doing anything, even with the best of intentions. 

Here are just a few recent examples of companies and people that were taken to task for doing or saying the wrong thing:

  • Shea Moisture – For including white women in their latest ad campaign.
  • Pepsi – For suggesting that Kendall Jenner and Pepsi can end racism, among other issues.
  • Anything Sean Spicer says.
  • Everything President Trump says or does including breathing.

I’m not passing judgment on any of these examples or their respective backlash, but I do think we’d all do ourselves a huge favor if instead of jumping on the outrage bandwagon, we used our energy to compliment rather than criticize.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

My grandmother always said – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. She didn’t always follow her own advice, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Have you ever received a compliment from a stranger and it seemed to instantly change your mood for the better? Not only does a compliment instantly make the receiver happy, but it also greatly boosts that person’s confidence.

Imagine a child trying to learn how to play a piece on the piano and a member of the family yells at them to stop making that racket. Will the child look forward to piano practice or will they dread it and eventually give up? 

Learning anything new is difficult, in fact to master something it is suggested it takes at least 10k hours. That’s a lot of sucking at something until you “get” it.

And in those 10k hours of sucking at something, there’s an abundance of people willing to tell you how much you suck.

We Become what we Believe

When I was around 18 years old I picked up my brother from the University of Minnesota. It was late in the afternoon and I had my parents new beagle puppy in the car with me. I think I had taken the puppy to get shots. I only remember the puppy being in the car because it was then that we discovered he had motion sickness. Anyway, I rarely drove with my brother. If we were going somewhere together he was going to drive. However, it was late in the afternoon, the campus was busy and I didn’t want to park so pretty much I agreed to arrive at a specific place at a specific time and he jumped in the car while it was basically still moving. There wasn’t time to switch drivers.

As we were crossing the bridge another car swerved over, obviously I was in his blind spot, and would have hit us if I hadn’t reacted quickly and swerved out of his way. 

I executed the move flawlessly. I know this because my brother actually said I did some great driving. 

He was impressed.

It was luck. Thankfully, there was just enough room on the other side of me to swerve – there was no one in the other lane. 

I don’t mean to minimize my skills behind the wheel, but I had several accidents under my belt. It was luck combined with keeping a cool head – something I was not known for.

Because my brother, about the only person in my life who I looked up to, said I was a good driver, I believed it. In fact, since that time I have only been in two other accidents. Neither of which were my fault. 

I am confident when I drive and consider myself a very good driver. Of course, I’ve probably done 10k hours worth of driving since that moment on the bridge with the sick puppy in the back seat.  Make no mistake, there is no doubt in my mind that being told by someone I thought highly of that I was a good driver helped to make me a good driver. 

We Believe what we Become

On the other hand, my brother used to call me “Post Toasties”. To this day I don’t know why he nick named me after a breakfast cereal. I only know it wasn’t a good nick name. It was not a term of endearment. I know this because he and his friends all laughed whenever he called me “Post Toasties”. They may have been laughing because that’s what big brothers and their friends do when teasing little sisters. However, I was a child and didn’t understand that sometimes kids do things without thinking too much about why they are doing them.

In my mind it was simply another way for him to call me “fat”, without my parents finding out. I jumped to that conclusion all by myself. It fit perfectly with what I had been told my grandmother, children at school and was seeing in the teen magazines I was devouring along with the Twinkies and PopTarts. I take full responsibility for the eating disorder I cultivated during those years, and I doubt a compliment would have been enough to prevent it from taking root, but it might have given me pause if someone had given me one.

Compliment Freely

Words we choose carry so much power. We can either uplift or we can tear down. Lately it seems, all we do is tear each other down.

Instead of criticizing try to compliment. If that isn’t possible – and let’s face it, it isn’t always possible – just remember you don’t have to say anything. 

Compliment freely. You could be the difference between someone’s success or failure. A few small words can make all the difference in the world. So choose them wisely. 

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Trying Something New – Blogging

March 28, 2017

I blog professionally. I manage and write for 20 + blogs and websites and I follow pretty strict rules about SEO. I ALWAYS create posts that are at least 300 words. I always use the proper keyword density along with title tags, alt tag, headings, etc. The problem is, it makes for crappy writing sometimes, or at least less interesting writing. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of writing for other people is that my blog takes a backseat. I’ve updated my blog 3 times this month and 4 times in February. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about – I do, I just don’t make the time to do it. I’m also tired of writing by the end of the day and I don’t believe I should do my own stuff until I’ve gotten my work out of the way.

I’m not sure that’s the best way to do it, however. I enjoy writing for myself, I have complete editorial control and can say anything I want, using any technique I want. And, I don’t have to follow strict SEO guidelines.

And let’s face it, no one really knows what the search engine algorithm is looking for, it’s all just a good guess.

And I’m beginning to believe a lot of it is bullshit.

Especially for a blog such as this one, no particular niche except “lifestyle”, which is awfully broad. 

Anyway, going forward for April I plan on writing something each day. It might be a short story, or it might be a short sentence. I’m not going to concern myself with SEO, I’m just going to write. At the end of April I’ll take a good hard look at my Google Analytics to see if it makes any difference.

Stay tuned.

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A Little Song, A Little Dance, A Little Seltzer Down Your Pants

January 28, 2017
A little song a little dance a little seltzer down your pants

This past week Mary Tyler Moore passed away. The first thing that popped into my head, upon learning of her passing, was “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants”. That was the phrase from the eulogy of Chuckles the Clown that got Mary giggling during his funeral. If you’ve never seen it, you can see the scene here, it’s hilarious even without the context.

A Little Song, A Little Dance, A Little Seltzer Down Your Pants

I grew up watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Maude, Rhoda, Carol Burnett and all those other fantastic shows of the 70s. I was young, 9 or 10 but I knew instinctively that the writing on all of these shows was phenomenal. It never occurred to me that I could write for a sitcom, but I learned a lot about timing and telling a joke from these shows.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a show my whole family watched together. Do families even do that anymore? With so many ways to consume television I think the experience has been lost.

When I was a kid the TV was commonly referred to as the Boob Tube. Parents, teachers, scholars, doctors, etc… all believed it was rotting the minds of our children. And it probably was. I know I spent a fair amount of time watching TV. From After School Specials, Saturday morning cartoons, and finally the Saturday night lineup on CBS, I probably clocked in a good 25 to 30 hours a week. I’d have logged more if we had another TV. 

Mary as a trail blazing woman didn’t impact me much. Most of the shows back then had strong female characters who didn’t take any bullshit. They were smart and self sufficient and didn’t expect anyone to take care of them. For me, that’s just the way women were. 

I was more impacted by Mary as a Minnesotan and made the trek to the IDS Center when I was about 14. A couple of friends and I took the bus to Minneapolis to hang out and ride the infamous escalator. Yeah, at 14 we just got on a bus to visit another city – unaccompanied by an adult. Do kids do that today?

Because my mother was pretty much confined to the living room couch, or what we eventually called “The Judy Room”, most of my family memories took place in front of the TV. The characters on these shows were family. 

Mary, Mr Grant, Ted, Murray, Rhoda, Bob, Carol, Maude, Archie, Edith, George and Weezie – all of them had an impact on my upbringing, but it was sitting around with my family, sharing the experience of these shows, that will stay with me forever and fondly.

So thank you Mary, and everyone else, for being part of my family.

A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants!

 

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Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup

December 31, 2016
Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup

For your reading pleasure I’ve put together my sometimes annual Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup. Every other media outlet does a roundup so I thought, what the heck, I’ll do one too!

I’m actually surprised I wrote enough this year for a roundup. In fact, I actually wrote and published 60 posts this year, which is my third time high since I started blogging in 2007. It’s twice as much as I wrote last year.

There were basically 4 categories this year, the election, my mother, recipes, and Prince, and an outlier about Dini the cat. It’s a long post, and most didn’t bother to read it, but it’s one that harkens back to my early days of blogging, when I just told a story and enjoyed the journey.

No One Ever Said There Would Be This Much Cat Vomit

Blog Posts about the Election

I really didn’t think he’d win, and I might watch too much Walking Dead.

How to Survive the Trumpacolypse

How to Prepare for the Post Election Apocalypse

OMG Stop Unfriending Each Other!

Blog Posts about my Relationship with My Mother

My relationship with my mother is difficult at best, but it isn’t unique. I also posted a story from my book, Minnesota Nice. 

Life Isn’t Fair

I Made my Mother Cry… Again

Do You Know your ACE Score?

Recipes

I cook a lot this year, mostly because I got an Instant Pot – the most awesome thing ever!

Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes

Cheesy Smoked Sausage Hot Dish Instant Pot Recipe

Authentic Minnesota Tater Tot Hot Dish Recipe – Seriously, if you try a new dish in 2017, make it the MN Tater Tot Hotdish, you won’t be sorry. 

Best and Worst in Books and Movies and Blogs

I saw and reviewed several movies this year, they aren’t worth sharing here except for one exceptionally horrible movie I really hoped would be awesome. It wasn’t.

Independence Day Resurgence Review

Life Changing Books

Bloggers who Blog

Prince and Jacob

2016 was a year of loss, but these two are still difficult for me to reckon with. 

Summer in Minnesota 2016: We Lost Prince and Found Jacob

On the Passing of Prince, from a Minnesotan

#NaBloPoMo Advice Blogging Writing

Already Behind on NaBloPoMo

November 7, 2016
#NaBloPoMo 2016

No one should be surprised that I am already three posts behind on NaBloPoMo. I’ll get caught up today, and yeah, this one counts.

I love the idea of writing everyday but I also love the idea of writing posts that are actually interesting, entertaining or even outrage producing. I don’t like the idea of boring people to death. If you like those kind of journal entry blog posts, then take look in my archives for the first year when no one was reading me. They’re all boring as hell and don’t do anything to enlighten anyone.

Let me back up a bit, if you are just starting out in the blogging world you’re going to write some pretty lame stuff. It takes practice and for the most part only a few posts will hit it out of the park. You’re lucky if you entertain yourself. Keep at it, that’s the point of NaBloPoMo, to get in the habit of writing regularly, even when you have nothing to say.

Some of my best posts were writing about the mundane. My all time favorite post, and one that still makes me laugh, is my post titled How Not to Leave a Comment. It was a post I wrote about comment etiquette. People rarely leave comments anymore, they save that for Facebook or Twitter or SnapChat, it’s too bad because some of the most fun I have ever had happened in the comment sections of my favorite blogs.

If you’re already behind on NaBloPoMo, keep at it. Don’t be discouraged and don’t quit. Get caught up if you can and if you can’t, it’s not a big deal. Just keep writing. You’ll look back and see how much your writing improved by the mere act of doing it.

It’s a simple concept actually, practice makes perfect, or fake it ’til you make it, whichever one works for you, just do it.

 

74 Days of Positivity Dumb Shit I Do Minnesota Nice Things I Really Like Winter Writing

74 Days of Positivity

October 19, 2016
74 Days of Positivity

It’s almost Halloween which means it’s almost winter here in Minnesota so I’ve decided to have 74 days of positivity. If you’re missing the obvious connection, that’s okay. I’ll explain. When the days start to get shorter I start to get this overwhelming urge to hibernate. I don’t necessarily want to sleep, I just don’t want to do anything. I tend to get down. I won’t use the word depressed, because I don’t think that’s what it is. I tend to get negative, especially around the holidays. It seems to set in earlier and earlier each year. By the time How the Grinch Stole Christmas is on TV (usually before Thanksgiving) I’m so sick of all the heart warming bullshit I could just puke.

The holidays tend to suck.

I’m overworked, I’m tired, I’m crabby, etc… Every year I tell myself I’m not going to get all worked up about the holidays, I’m going to delegate some of the work, I’m going to chill the hell out and just enjoy everyone. I tell myself that, right around this time of year, and then as soon as Halloween is over I fall down the rabbit hole and don’t emerge until after Valentine’s Day.

I become more snarky during the holidays, and I’m sick of it.

74 Days of Positivity

I want to enjoy the holidays and all that this beautiful time of year has to offer. I love winter, but I hate the snow. The truth is, I don’t even hate the snow, I hate shoveling the snow.

I can do something about that. I have a child who is able, I can certainly teach her to use the shovel or the snow blower. Sure, I’ll have to endure all kinds of eye rolling, but I’m getting the eye rolling now. May as well make it worth her while. Or mine, as the case may be.

Truth be told, I haven’t fully examined why I hate this time of year so much. It could be that my family is severely fractured. I don’t like it, but I don’t want to fix it either. And, while I think I have let that go, it’s still bothering me so clearly I haven’t. It could be that I’m used to being broke during the holidays. While this has been true in the past, and might be this year too, the reality is I’m doing ok.

I think there are a lot of ghosts of Christmas Pasts that I just assume will make a show even though I have complete control over who shows up and who doesn’t.

It could also be that since I turned 50 I’ve been making a lot of big changes in my life and this is one I need to make.

I’m generally a pretty happy person. Sure, I have my moments and I tend to worry about things that are generally outside of my control, but for the most part I can laugh through much of it. Even if there’s a fair amount of anger underlying my laughter.

I’m tired of being angry. It hasn’t served me very well.

So, for the next 74 days, until the end of the year, I’ll be practicing more positivity.

It could take the form of yoga, going out with the girls (after I meet some girls to hang out with or wrangle the ones I used to hang out with before I isolated myself), it could mean taking time to read instead of doing the same old thing each night of watching TV and hanging out on Facebook.

I’m not really sure how this is going to work, I just know that I’m open to anything that comes along in the next 74 days and plan to look at any and all opportunities as just that – opportunities.

I’m going to actively enjoy life, dammit, instead of just letting it pass me by.

I also expect to piss a few people off while I do this. I’m not sure why, but isn’t that how it always seems? You do something good for yourself and it upsets the applecart?

Blogging Contests Writing

Flash Fiction

November 16, 2015

This may or may not go anywhere, but this weekend on Facebook I read about a lot of my blogging buddies from days gone by who miss blogging but never take the time to write anymore (maybe because we spend all our time on Facebook?). I learned that a few blogging friends had given up their blogs and that just made me sad. I don’t expect to singlehandedly restore the glory days of blogging but it would be nice to visit that community again. This month is Nanawrimo, something I have never done and don’t expect to any time soon, or even next year for that matter. Writing 50k words in a month is an amazing feat and my hat is off to anyone who can do it. The thing is for many writers it’s just too daunting so they don’t even try. So I figured why not do a little flash fiction (or non fiction), even just a few words worth, to stimulate the writer in all of us?

These are the rules today but they’ll probably change as I take a little more time to actually think this through. Think of this like that scene in 8 Mile where Eminem just jumps in and starts rapping. Basically, don’t think too much about your story, just start telling it and see where it goes. It may not go anywhere, and that’s okay too.

I’m going to leave a prompt at the end of this post. If you want to participate just start telling your story in the comment section. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar, just tell your story. Ideally I’d like to limit it to an hour and then close the comment section but there’s no way to tell when people get notified of the post so I’m going to leave it open all week. I would just prefer people not spend time preparing and just get to the writing. If enough people participate we can do some kind of voting and maybe even have a prize.

Feel free to share this post with other writers or people who would like to give it a shot.

Good luck and here’s your prompt:

The plane was delayed….

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I Saw The Bloggess!!

November 5, 2015
The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson at U of MN bookstore

I saw the Bloggess!!

(an unintentional homage to Jenny Lawson)

I don’t mean to be a name dropper but I’ve seen my share of celebrities over the years. When I was 16 my parents sold our house to Garrison Keillor. I had no idea who he was but my grandfather sure thought he was the shit! I used to babysit Nick Swardson of Grandma’s Boy and Reno 911 and bunch of other movies. I ate lunch in the same restaurant as that woman who sang the song Downtown…. what’s her name*??? And, I stood behind Kevin Garnett or maybe it was Kevin McHale** at the Giant Slide at the MN State Fair once. So, I’ve rubbed shoulders with some pretty well known celebrities, I don’t get star struck very easily. At least I didn’t until I learned Jenny Lawson was coming to town to promote her new book Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

From Amazon:

In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? 

I learned she was coming a couple of months ago and immediately put it on my calendar. She was going to be at the University of Mn Bookstore in Coffman Union – a place had I spent maybe less time in I might have actually graduated after 7 years. Maybe. Anyway, I know Coffman, I could do this.

And at the time it seemed so simple. How can attending a book signing be a challenge you ask?

Because, like The Bloggess, I also have a fair amount of anxiety. It isn’t crippling but it gets in the way of a lot of things and makes them much harder. It’s gotten much worse over the years as I’ve isolated myself more and more. At the end of the day, 7pm for this event, the last thing I want to do is go out, even if it’s for something I really want to do.

Does that even make sense?

So, by 7pm the idea of getting in the car, driving to campus, finding a place to park and then walking in late to the event (because I will be late, trust me) doesn’t sound like fun to me no matter who is there.

I even tried to justify not going by telling myself that of all people, The Bloggess will understand. She knows what it’s like to take to bed for a couple of days (I don’t, I’m a single mom and my kids still expect me to feed them and drive them to school and yell at them for not changing the toilet paper roll. If I were to take to bed I’d have to call one of their dads and there’s no way either of them would step in. In fact one of them would probably threaten to seek custody if I were to ask.) so she’d be totally ok with it if I didn’t show up.

No, she doesn’t know me (though she did wish me a Happy Birthday on Facebook last year because, you know, we’re FB friends), she had no idea that I was going to be there so why I felt bad for not going to her event I really don’t know. I’d already bought her book (and you should to, you can get it here)  so what more could she want from me?

Sheesh, she’s demanding!

I forced myself to go anyway. As I said before I’ve been isolating myself for a while now and it’s getting old. I know I should go out and spend time with people my own age so I’m really thinking about making an effort. This seemed like a great opportunity a few months ago. Now that it was here not so much. Besides, even though I know I should get out more it doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t really like people that much so I’m not really sure where the payoff is. Anyway, I forced myself out of the house, into the car, on to the freeway, and into the parking garage where I thought I got a really good spot because it was right by the entrance to the parking garage and I could see Coffman Union just across a short walking bridge. The trouble was the parking garage is on sea level, or down by the river, while Coffman is on top of the hill. I had to walk  up about 15 flights of stairs (okay, 4) to get to the main level entrance of Coffman. By the time I got to the top I was so winded I was sure I was going to pass out and even had to fake a phone call outside before I walked in.

When I got to the bookstore (in the basement so I’ve basically come full circle but thank God they had an escalator) the event had already begun and there was no place to sit or stand. I made a beeline for the only spot I could find that was not going to get me called out for being late. I stood between a rather large Norwegian man with red hair and some women who looked as though they majored in Women’s Studies. I immediately dug in my purse to find my phone so I could take pictures but got distracted wondering if I left my keys in the car knowing full well I locked the car because my son gets upset with me for leaving it unlocked.

Now I had to find my keys.

Except when I tried to open my purse I got my sweater caught on the zipper and now I couldn’t move without pulling the thread out even more which happened to be right under my arm and the last thing I wanted to do was lose the arm of my sweater while trying to quietly and politely listen to Jenny Lawson talk about passing out at the gynecologist office. She kept repeating the word vagina which I don’t mind but while I’m at this event I’m composing this blog post and I fear using the word ‘vagina’ is just going to get more strange traffic here because believe it or not 70% of my traffic comes from people searching for the word ‘vagina’ and usually something really strange like ‘with teeth’. So, I’m worried about her excessive use of the word vagina and I still haven’t managed to free myself from my purse.

Of course I’m sweating at this point.

Everyone is laughing, the room us beginning to spin a little and I’m wondering how long do I have to stay here before I can leave without being obvious.

The answer is I can’t so I try to make the best of it and search for my phone again so I can get some pictures. I pull out my phone but realize no one else is taking pictures. I figure I must have missed the announcement about not taking pictures because there is no way a room full of younger women can resist taking pictures of anything.

And then I see one of the Women’s Studies woman pull out here phone and start taking pictures.

I take half a dozen grainy pictures (actually only three, and they all pretty much suck but I didn’t want to get busted for taking pictures when I wasn’t supposed to — though, I’m not sure if that was a rule or if people were just really polite) before I see the sign in front of me that says “This line for people who have already purchased a book” or something similar. In my haste to go unnoticed I got into the priority line for people who purchased the book in advance and bought a ticket to get first in line for a signing. I have purchased a book but not through the U of M bookstore. I got mine at Barnes and Noble and it was currently sitting on my dining room table, probably with a cat on top of it.

I have to get out of here. I already know I’m not going to stand in line for three hours to get the book signed (obviously, because it’s at home with a cat on it). I could buy a book and get it signed but I’m going to be last in line because I’m Minnesotan and even though I have budged into the first part of the line I’ll feel too guilty if I stay here (even though there isn’t any other place for me to go at this point).

I’m freaking out and now my phone is vibrating in my purse. It’s my 12 year old daughter who wants to know where I am and can I pick up some food on the way home? I tell her yes but feel bad that I am leaving even though I wasn’t really here, and am looking for an excuse to leave.

Something as simple as a book reading/signing should not cause so much anxiety that I need to go home (after picking up something to eat for the daughter, of course), but it does. I feel bad about it, again. This is not the first time I’ve left something because I started to sweat or my stomach started doing flip flops and my chest got all tight. It probably won’t be the last time either.

I’m upset with myself for leaving (though on the way out I purchase another book) but am actually pretty proud I even came out because I nearly talked myself out leaving the house.

If you’ve made it this far and would like a chance to win an unsigned copy of Jenny Lawson’s new book, Furiously Happy please leave a comment below.

TL;DR

Apparently I have a fair amount of anxiety, and sometimes it wins. Also, book giveaway, leave a comment.

* Petula Clark

** It was Kevin McHale, though I had to google it to see which one he was.

 

 

Blogging Send Jen on a Vacation Writing WTF?

At the End of My Rope

July 13, 2015
Mississippi River flooded

I’m at the end of my rope! My dad used to say that all the time. So much that it lost its meaning over time even if he had good reason to be hanging on to that rope’s end. Now I am at the end of the my rope. Nothing has happened to put me there, just life. I’m tired, so tired.

Midlife Crisis?

 

It may be a midlife crisis, it may be that I am sick of cleaning up after children who can’t seem to pick up after themselves and I am too tired to throw a fit to get their attention. It might be that I am tired of tripping over a dog that is terrified of thunderstorms and we live in tornado alley. It could be that when he is scared he has accidents and I am really tired of cleaning those up.

It could be that my ex husband hasn’t spent time with our daughter in going on two years now and I need a weekend to myself. It could be that I have no idea who I am anymore afraid that I am just someone who cooks and cleans and works so I can buy things for others.

It could be that I am tired of working and want to work for myself now. I am still blogging but for others. I never update my blog anymore and I miss that so much. I want to write for me not for others.

Recharge

Whatever it is I am in need of recharging my batteries. This is something my dad used to say a lot too. He was often in need of a battery recharge and would traipse off to Mexico with his friends while I stayed home and took care of my mother. I can’t go off to Mexico on a whim and if I could I don’t have any friends that could go with me.

I don’t leave the house except to run errands, visit my mother and take my daily walk so I hit 10k steps each day even though that isn’t helping me lose any weight at all.

I don’t sleep well. According to my Fitbit I wake up 11- 13 times per night! Most of those is letting the dog in and out because he is old and letting the cat in and out because she is a retched bitch who hates me. I know, I should ignore them both but if I do the dogs pees on the couch and the cat meows so loud she wakes the dead.

FML

I want someone to care for me who I didn’t give birth to. I don’t want to burden my kids with my sense of being overwhelmed. It isn’t their problem and they don’t need the added stress. I miss my father. I could call him and unload my troubles and feel a whole lot better for just having said them. He couldn’t do much about them and would often feel compelled to compete with me as to has it harder but having someone to spill it all to would be nice.

I’m hoping to take the daughter to Wisconsin Dells next month and I am looking forward to it but it’s not the kind of vacation I need. I need to be alone for a couple of days. I need to not be worried about anyone but myself while I try to put things back together. I need to know that while I am gone all hell isn’t breaking lose. I need my kids to grow up faster than they are currently doing it.

As it is right now anything could set me over the edge. Yesterday the thought of setting the table for dinner was more than I could handle. I did it but it was painful. I’ll get through this, I always do. These episodes seem to be coming more often, like a wave that recedes only to gain force and slam back into the beach. I need a break, I need a mom, I need a hug.