An Open Letter to Humanity {about humor and prayer}

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Dear Humanity,

Have you heard the stories about how good friends or spouses can sit in silence and never say a word?  I say it’s because they are boring stiffs, but others say it’s because their peace and love for each other is so vast and their comfort with being still is so strong there is no need for words.

I’m not one of those people. 

I’m a person who fills up empty spaces.  I talk about the wild feelings of middle age and I comment on the way cars look as they whiz by on the highway.  I ask questions and I’m not one to just sit silently with my hands folded.  Being a writer means being a storyteller and one who notices little things.  And being a lawyer means you think of alternate arguments and put together thoughts in your mind in logical patterns.  My best friends may even motion to their spouse when they are on the phone with me something like “here she goes again” or write on a sticky note “it’s Amanda on the line so I’ll see you at Christmas.” There may be some eye rolling and “oh no! I’m late for the dentist!” when in fact they are just tired of hearing me talk.  I get this.  When I start, I really get going. But being creative means that I paint with words and phrases and sound. Basically, I’m not built for silence.

So it’s odd that lately, I’ve been silent.  Silent in this house, thinking. Silent about some true thoughts and silent about some opinions on things.  I’ve been drinking coffee and drinking wine and drinking in all the silence.  I use humor to mask things, to play with things, to connect with people while I’m doing the hard work of silence.  Sometimes, humor is the only thing that works to relieve the pressure, to laugh with each other, to find common ground.  It’s the only words that come out.  Please understand that it’s a lifeline for me, and an important part of who I am.

We desperately need common ground on which we can walk forward.  We are growing so polarized that I can only seem to find humor as a talking point.  It’s the light that seems to shine through the rubble, a brightness through the fog.  This is why humor, to me, is so powerful, and why I use it as a means to survive.  It’s why as the world grows dimmer the humor grows darker, but it still works.

I haven’t talked to God in a while.  I have assumed he’s cool with it, giving me space as one does with an unruly teenager.  I’ve been overwhelmed with all the tragedy and loss and sadness in our world.  Honestly, I don’t know what to say.  It feels so disingenuous to say “I’ll pray for you,” when what I really am thinking is simply “I’m sorry.”  I’m sorry you are facing this death, this fire, this flood, this loss.  I am so terribly sorry you have cancer. Sometimes I get the reference in the Bible, about how people fell to their knees and tore their clothes, a sign of being overwhelmed by all the sadness.  Although I am not going to tear at my Burberry coat, no matter how much you throw at me.  Even I have limits.  And yet despite this, I am concurrently very happy with my life.  I am married to an amazing man, I have strong and healthy children, I live in a wonderful community. It’s an odd dichotomy.

I’m in a few prayer groups.  I say the prayers that I have committed to saying, but my heart hasn’t been in it.  I care about people.  It’s just that I haven’t felt that these prayers are making any difference.   I’ve just been looking down onto my own world, doing my own thing, hiding. I think part of it is simply guilt.  Guilt that I have so much, have been blessed with abundance, guilt that I am happy while others are not. I don’t deserve this husband or these children or this home or this life.  And yet that is not what God wants for us, to throw away the blessings we have been given.  To feel guilty about happiness.

So my prayer life has also been silent.  Because I haven’t had the right words to say.  When our President says “my prayers are with you” my blood boils.  What do these words mean, from an unrighteous man? Go back to the tanning bed, 45.  Your prayers are empty and meaningless.

It’s not the words we say that make some great difference in the world. Whether it’s a set of lyrics or a Dr. Seuss poem or a Shakespeare play, they are all just letters strewn together. They can all be typed and burned with a match and tossed in the garbage. This very blog will be forgotten, lost in internet space, years from now failed to be maintained.  No one will read these words a generation from now.

Words themselves have little power. What is powerful is the interaction between us and God, the portal to God himself, whereby you can humbly submit yourself before God and boldly, bravely, confidently ask for direction, healing, hope, strength.  Using words is the means to this end, and is what we refer to as prayer. It’s really just about talking to God.  The Bible instructs us that God listens to our hearts, our words, our guttural cries.  He hears even the smallest, throatiest, dumbest sounding words.  As you hear the words of your children when they say “I love you” or “you’re the best” or “I farted.” Thanks a lot, kiddo.  At least you could have given me some advance warning.

This Weinstein story has made me abundantly sad. There are stories like this every day that should no longer surprise us. But for some reason this particular story of yet another predator against young girls broke my heart.  Because it brings up images of young women, my own daughters, injured and broken, scrubbing their skin until it’s raw in order to feel clean.  Images of girls feeling used and dirty, when they are instead wonderful and pure, filled my head.  You women are beautiful in all ways.  Can’t you see?  It’s a world of broken things, and I am standing in the rubble.  Mostly pissed off because no one seems to be cleaning it up.

But last night in the shower I allowed myself to form words to God.  To ask God to forgive me, to forgive our nation, to forgive all the terrible things.  Also, despite me being in the shower for a very long time, I didn’t shave, because I feel that being filled with the awesomeness of God is a solid excuse for the new husband so I should get a pass.

I did feel a bit strange praying for women en masse, without each of them being named, but I did it anyway.  I figured God could sort it out.  So I prayed for all the women who were violated, hurt, felt less than.  I prayed that they would rise up today and feel whole, healed, loved.  I prayed for our nation and its people.  I am just one person, talking to God about an entire group of other women.  How does this help?  And yet are these women, every single one of them, not worth fighting for? They are.  That is what I felt as I prayed.  That God holds them all in his precious hands.  As if he was saying “I hear you, girl.  I hear every word that you speak. Even the sarcastic ones.”

Humor as a connection between people is powerful.  Prayer as a means of connection to God is even more powerful.  Prayer allows us to put others ahead of ourselves and see ourselves as we are –  broken, dependent, and sinful.  People who need grace and forgiveness.  People who need to stop using social media to cut each other down, but find a way to building bridges between each other, in order to find peace.  If you need a release, find humor.  If you need a lifeline, find God.

Will you pray? For our nation, our women, our hearts?  And will you please stop saying “I’ll pray for you” as an empty platitude?  Because, like crop tops and hashtags and everything Taylor Swift, I’m kinda over it.

Most sincerely yours,

Amanda

 

photo:

(threew’s).flickr.com/photos/chicagoartdepartment/2423339575/in/photolist-4G9fqP-9w6rUA-gdixpF-4dw6of-dL6Bj7-arGwdx-eKKykY-6wKNxR-iiXyBt-9PQ7R9-jXNKDk-4t1KXQ-7KgJJQ-4PYCzW-7Yhnkp-5ngcJT-5SyRgw-4dw4y7-XRV4V1-2SNBsb-5RPdoF-pAxon-pNqpUD-9DJrNg-676xjg-f5YdFB-6e3hrT-3PeZon-6qekdy-gJMk5V-qK2KJc-dPuexG-d4uGWW-73BpjJ-72sFGJ-qsC8bb-tFEW-fLn5X8-htpEY-8iwGYA-5DLzj3-4pefpB-4dw7uC-72sFFU-5PbxTJ-jgyLQ-9TuKkg-6NXA6k-6wKcyA-qGUxLW

Martha Stewart’s Guide to Unclogging a Toilet in Six Easy Steps

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(1) Invest in the Proper Infrastructure: The key to success is a properly-designed toilet. I recommend those made by craftsmen in Portugal, where the ceramic is air-dried in the sun and there is a hand-carved seal of approval for quality. They may be more expensive, but my general rule of thumb is to pay five times more for all things.

(2) Buy Better Cleaning Products: A toilet should be cleaned every 6.2 hours, by the hired help of your choice. I only use Martha Stewart Toilet Bowl Cleaner, which is all natural and non-toxic. I know this because my grandson drank some, which made my daughter Alexis freak out and call Poison Control. Their response was, “Haha! That stuff is nothing but distilled water and a few drops of peppermint oil! That kid could drink the whole bottle and be fine!” They sure are a jolly bunch.

(3) Eat More Greens: A clogged a toilet is often diet-related. One’s body cavity residue should be a nice, smooth, sorbet-like consistency. To obtain this result, simply consume six to seven servings of organic kale prepared in a coconut flax backwash mixed with ginger. My hired help often comments on how bright and cheerful my excrement is. They love working for me, and cleaning my ceramic toilet is their favorite job. That’s what they say right before I pay them.

(4) Eliminate all Plungers: If you are using one of those terrible rubber toilet plungers, you should discard it immediately. They are harbingers of bacteria. You should instead purchase a wooden toilet stick made from light Walnut with an attachment that crawls through the pipes, thoroughly cleansing the porcelain. It has little web-like hands made from groupings of crushed diamonds that rotate using small gears. You can special order these from my favorite clock-maker Bernard in Connecticut.

(5) Stay at One of Your Other Properties: If all else fails and the above steps don’t work, which is surprising if you’re eating that much kale, it’s time to call your driver and take a trip to another one of your various properties. There is no use living in a house if you have sub-par toilets. You might also reconsider the very purpose of your life.

(6) Last Resort: Call a licensed, professional, organic, all-natural plumber. I’ve heard they are named Bob. At least that’s what is printed upon their shirts. Perhaps you can locate Bob through your various media connections. You shouldn’t be there for this – I recommend leaving town so that you don’t have to know what’s happening inside your home. Perhaps you should do some traveling. I recommend Portugal. They make excellent toilets.

 

—–

*this is not a real photo of Martha Stewart’s bathroom.  She did not actually write this. It’s satire. If you think she did, you need to move to Portugal.

photo:

(threew’s)..flickr.com/photos/133418222@N05/17783481078/in/photolist-GXMTy-pripqq-t6sZmJ-t6AB4H-dxjy5C-t6sZwo-JHzg8-dDcb2o-to8giK-tnMCqf-G1LGuT-dxjy5N

10 Things to Do on a Rainy Day

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(1) Gripe about the weather. This is always a winner, especially at the office.  “How about this rain, eh?” goes a long way to creating zero good will and developing pointless interactions.  Other favorites are “will it ever stop?” and “it’s sure coming down out there.” If you refer to cats and dogs, you’ve simply gone too far.

(2) Read. Especially in the afternoon.  If your head hits your desk in slumber and you run late to a meeting or conference call, you can simply say how crazy work has been. And by work you mean a Kazuo Ishiguro novel.

(3) Dress up! This is often forgotten about since everyone else around you appears to be slobbing around in sweatshirts. Not you! Get yourself together, put on your make up, coif that hair, and hit the streets in your cute boots. When you get to your kids’ school for library day or the grocery store, watch how much others don’t care that you went to all this trouble, but are annoyed that your perfume hangs in the sticky air like rotten taffy. Because humidity.

(4) Eat a lot of processed sugary things. Maybe day drink. Because it’s raining and life’s not really worth living.

(5) I’m kidding! The rain provides nourishment for the earth! The dry, cracked soil is thirsty and our crops need the life sustaining water! It’s watering the lawn for free! You can think these things IF YOU MUST, but don’t say it out loud to anyone. Because no one wants to hear such cheery optimism.

(6) Bake things. The smell of pumpkin bread has been scientifically proven in several medical journals (and extensively chronicled in the Atlanta Constitution!) to make people happier.  I just made that up just now.  But it does make sense. Unless you burn it.  Please don’t burn it because you fell asleep reading.

(7) Work. There’s always this boring old distraction.  Yawn.

(8) Call friends. I like to do this when it’s raining because then you can talk about the weather.  See (1) above.

(9) Go outside and attempt a run in the rain! It’s like the Nike commercials where you’re all hard core and COME RAIN OR SHINE YOU WILL OWN THIS LIFE and NOTHING WILL GET IN THE WAY OF oh for heavens sakes turn around and go back inside this was a terrible decision. What were you thinking you don’t even run and you put make-up on earlier.

(10) Go back to bed.

photo:

(three w’s).flickr.com/photos/70251312@N00/13984290338/in/photolist-niK9j7-dvk5Aj-zjH2FT-4F2BfH-dvet6c-dvewGp-7n7byW-7n3i6k-7nFvaX-dvk4DJ-4mdcXK-6jRGXr-dvjSu1-j1zX7h-dvjYqu-6jVUhh-z2eYPf-86f8k9-NkvqWi-7kVY5Z-86f9fS-dvew28-7n3i4X-dvk7iQ-7zS1om-zjH3uB-bYBd6b-dvk39U-7m14Bo-dverKH-dvk4m1-bYBcuE-7hQ3cR-dvesQx-dveqsX-94iM8A-7kf9TB-dvenhP-dveuYt-7kWo1V-9ogDji-7kZXFw-dvekyx-dvei2g-dvexaP-dvekpa-dveu3t-dvekPH-7kW1PD-3bqw9L

The Truth about Texting Abbreviations

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I realize everyone has limited time. But if you’re going to give your thumbs a rest by using texting abbreviations, let’s at least better understand them. Studies show that using texting abbreviations during the entire course of life will save you a total of sixteen minutes. So when you’re ninety years old and drooling, you can stare at the wall a little bit longer. Make it count.

Here are the most popular:

OMG (Oh my what – God? Gosh? Grapes?). This is mainly used when there is literally nothing else creative in the universe to say, generally an acceptable response to anything from “I’m having a ten-pound baby” to “Let’s have tacos for dinner, OMG I love tacos.” If we are going to perpetuate this abbreviation we should maybe vary it up a bit, like OMS (oh my stars!) or OMB (oh my bacon!). People can guess. It’ll be fun.

LMAO (Laugh My Ass Off). This is ridiculous. Let’s all stop using this. There is no one who laughs so much that they lose their own ass. Perhaps the laughing is so forceful and it burns so many calories that the fat melts off. This is odd at best, scary at worst. Because you need an ass. Without one, how would you look in jeans? How would you sit? If you are laughing this hard, you need to calm the heck down and take a sedative.

ROFL (Rolling on the Floor Laughing). I can’t believe this is even a thing. I’ve been on this planet for 40 long years, and have heard some extremely funny things. However, I have never rolled around on the floor about it. Not due to Lucille Ball. Not after hearing Jerry Seinfield. Not even listening to the Louis C.K. HBO special. There is dog hair on the floor, and germs. I’m not sure why you’d roll around down there, even for a good solid Trump joke.

LOL (Laugh out loud). This is a classic, but don’t you think it’s getting tired? It is rare that you laugh out loud. It’s often only a slight chuckle, so to say you are truly laughing is a bit extreme. Americans are going crazy with extremes. If you laugh at something, perhaps just say “Ha.” Or “Funny.” Or even “YFPS” = you are so funny that I want to take you to parties like a sideshow. Not to be extreme. As an aside, I had a friend once whose wife was in the hospital with a life-threatening illness, and her mother-in-law thought LOL meant “lots of love,” so whenever she’d text the poor girl she would say “Does the IV hurt? LOL” or “I’m so sorry you are losing your eyesight LOL.” That actually did make me laugh out loud.

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion). I’ve had this thrown at me a few times, meaning that the person is about to say something I do not want to hear. Because of course I wanted their vain, arrogant opinion.

The folks who post on our neighborhood garage sale always use the phrase ISO (in search of). That cracks me up because instead of leading with “I need a used dresser” what they are instead saying is that they are on a search! A quest! A scavenger hunt for treasure! I am desiring a purse made from the threads of Burberry!

The only phrases (in my humble opinion) that are truly worth the energy-save of an abbreviation is perhaps JK (just kidding), the occasional K (okay) and certainly GOTYM (get out of town you moron). Otherwise, you need to salvage your ass and stop rolling around on the dirty floor. No matter how funny Jim Gaffigan is, sit up for heaven’s sakes. K?

photo:

(threew’s).flickr.com/photos/garryknight/8331105136/in/photolist-dGc6iJ-aKPi8T-4zV17D-9qQCYc-5Qb9JK-5Q5g4D-5Q5fr6-6gqgXv-bJYiHH-9EGRvd-bFiepD-eaNEDk-NfCGd-bS6CLn-68rFgK-eyNL71-duEZhk-bR52LB-a8wdVc-6NbQH1-okNmYq-5Q5fdM-pR8z8t-d393Xf-frhDdG-cEGGkd-7SLQGz-npcgs5-btPpXc-7Se6fK-5Q5fWt-5Q9v1u-5Q9v4y-rWPzZX-CRYc3u-gvZyq-fM2ZcC-9ZY28m-5Q9vpY-dsB2Y9-gvZxb-C24FK2-8URHGt-eWKEim-APgSC1-C5LRtE-Bp3ucJ-dVQU7M-4UjLyE-8quZL3

The Intersection of humor and faith

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I wonder if God laughs at Gaffigan. In my small town viewpoint, anything that honors others, doesn’t tear people down, helps bridge gaps, and makes hard things easier, is sort-of like religion, without having to choke down all those wafers.

Last night I was invited to a wonderful gathering of women – strong, powerful, change-leaders in our society. There were lawyers, doctors, CEO’s, accountants – all seeking to find out how to mesh faith into their daily lives. It was loud, because hello we are women, and there was wine, which makes life better. I was talking to the main speaker about her topic, trying to hear above all the chatter.

“Did you say that you were speaking about Jesus s**t?” I said. Because that was odd. Not what I expected her to say. You should have seen the look on her face. Incredulous. Surprised. Maybe offended? I don’t know her that well.

“I said LEADERSHIP,” she said.

“Oh, right.” I said. “That’s way better. Let’s not refer to that other thing ever again.” And then I stared at my toes for a while. I don’t know if I’ll be invited back.

Of all the parts about being alive, I find laughter to be one of the most exciting. It’s a little creepy from the outside, probably. Lions are probably like what is up with all that shaking from the humans. Our mouths fly open and strange burst-like noises come out. Sometimes there is bellowing. We might cry and say things like “Stop it!” and “Get out!” when we really mean “Go on!” and “You’re hilarious!” And in the process of laughing small little bubbles of happy are released into our bloodstream. We are drawn to humor like Kardashians to plastic surgery.

I was asked to speak a few months ago at a women’s retreat on the topic of humor. I wanted to somehow express the odd dynamic I saw between humor and faith. The friends of mine that make me laugh out loud are not at all religious and seem to tolerate my faith like I have a wart or crooked teeth. The poor girl can’t help herself.

And then there are my religious friends. Some get offended, or think humor is hurtful or that they are doing something wrong by laughing at off-color jokes. There is a point that humor can become divisive. I actually wanted to walk right out of a Dave Chappelle show because instead of joy all I heard was pain. But generally speaking we need to calm the heck down already. These wonderfully spiritual people crowded into the room in which I was giving a talk because they were thirsty for funny. Something real and not polished. Something about faith that didn’t involve the word grace or salvation and instead involved the feeling of joy.

When I was writing my first novel (I say that like I have ten others when I only just have this one), one of my main goals was to juxtapose humor with pain, because laughter is a great connector, and our aching hearts need to be filled with endorphins instead of anticoagulants. But it can also cut like a thousand knives, into deep places of shame and hurt where other weapons cannot reach. We have a duty to use it wisely, and responsibly, to bring good to the world.

I’m not saying Gaffigan is a saint. He clearly eats too many doughnuts. But I am saying that humor is a gift. It’s a part of who we are. We are literally built for it. And anything our body craves so deeply and provides so much joy is a good and holy thing. In my non-preacher, simple girl opinion.

Laughing is effervescent. It fizzes and tickles, and when your life might be otherwise flat, wit makes it sparkle. Invest in friendships that encircle, and uplift, and fill you with happy. Seek out comedy. Don’t be afraid to cross these two worlds – faith and humor.

We so desperately need it to stay afloat.

photo:

(three w’s).flickr.com/photos/abukij/19118573923/in/photolist-v8rFWT-hdsK62-a14QY8-JbDdR-8g53Pi-brhJ7W-5r9cR4-st9iAk-7YFSxb-pov6cD-pjVErG-5YHsAw-7mBjHU-59hNjK-rpNHt5-aFQ64k-bTmdbe-85an7k-k5hdz6-ebr3Ec-5vmmek-3q5Rss-8HUe3m-vzCqC-zEwzNF-9GtVd3-wvJFMn-7RCH9-n6dRz-8HZ8hZ-ae5qoH-aUuKDK-5SKnNG-5xdPjR-5GFxXz-E8Y4i-7iNNFo-zAebqJ-hkHLFn-9htucp-9XHZPK-9vmm6-eKHX9i-myNz9q-qmyaM4-76JYWD-5bQsDp-dzdia1-fiRvwU-3qzemW

Odd and Curious Thoughts [about the New Year]

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  • So the fudge consumption has ended. Also the spiced pecans and pie. My parents brought over a tub of animal crackers big enough to feed the state of Rhode Island, and those dagblasted little animals are the last remaining sugared items in my home. I have half a mind to throw them all out, despite starving people in the world. I can’t in good conscience wear my sweaters in public because they are clinging to my sides. So these little white floured elephants are going to the day care Monday, so I can push more sugar onto the little people.

 

  • My resolution this year is to be more positive. I’m already a fairly rose-colored-glasses girl, but I’m throwing it into hyper-drive and soon I’ll sound like Candide giggling despite my life’s circumstances. If I get cancer or have a horrific accident I plan on just putting on lipstick and bearing through with a grin. Because my life is very, very good, and I’m not planning on sweating any smallish stuff. Which means I probably will get cancer because I’m not great at wearing organic, all-natural deodorant.

 

  • I am starting off more organized. I cleaned out my closets and lined up all my boots, layers upon layers of them. My daughter stayed up late and helped me stuff plastic cleaner’s bags in the tall riding boots so they stood up high and proud on the shelves. I am not certain what prompted me to start this odd habit. “So this is what you do after I go to bed at night,” she says. To an 8-year-old this is truly fascinating stuff. To adults it just sounds weird and neurotic.

 

  • I also organized my shirts by color and texture (silks, knits, starched) and I highly anticipate this will last me at least three weeks before I’m yet again stepping over things and poking myself with hangers. However, this year’s a new start. Miracles can happen. Maybe there’s an organic deodorant that doesn’t actually make you smell like reheated broccoli. Only time will tell.

 

  • I got my septic system pumped out, which was its own adventure. A man with a long pony-tail, teeth that nary a dentist have seen, and tough work boots drove up with a big truck, looked into my various tanks, and said “Oh dear. We don’t usually see sludge in this one.” Whereby I kicked in my newly found optimism and said “Yippee! Good for me that I called you! Can I get you some coffee as you inhale sewage smell on this cold and rainy day and suck the sludge from my tanks? Nopers? Alrighty then. Let me know when you’re done so I can go inside and grieve for you that you have to do this every single day of your life.” Makes my little problems easier to endure. On a high note, there was no need for that man to wear deodorant. Who would notice.

 

  • Speaking of things that smell, our entire family walked around the house wondering what smelled like burned plastic the other day. Was a light so hot it was melting some sort of outer casing? Did a plastic spoon get caught in the bottom of the dishwater and melt to a puddle of carcinogens? It was a mystery that remained unsolved until later when I was putting away the rest of the ham and found a piece of the plastic the ham was wrapped in seared to the side of the meat. We are all so going to die. However, since we didn’t die, and it’s HAM for pete’s sake, I cut up the rest of it and cooked it inside a pot of black-eyed-peas the following day. SO POSITIVE! WINNING!

 

  • I was home for over a week with my children, and it was lovely to spend so much time with them without the distractions and burdens of work. We played legos, had the cousins over whereby there were lots of giggles and dress up, had hot chocolate nights, ate dessert first, prepared nice meals and some not so nice, and spent days in our pajamas. At one point I think I said “why bother getting new clothes on / we didn’t do anything but play board games today / take a bath and put these back on.” It was luxurious. I did so much laundry that I even matched socks and washed sheets.   My children went into my closets like they were a new addition to the home they had never seen. Woooooo. Ahhhhhh. It has a floooooooor. There is no need to be this dramatic. I swear it’s like you’ve never seen color-coordinated silk shirts before.  Geez.

 

  • I read Nancy Drew books to my daughter until 10 pm and when I was too sleepy she read to me, and we did this for hours during the days and evenings. Then she’d fade away in corners of her room reading some more. School books and mysteries and books on friends and princess diaries. She created Barbie playgrounds and put random things in envelopes and at one point said “I CAN’T POSSIBLY TAKE A BATH I AM WRITING.” So I simply shut her door and nodded my head like “well honey how can you possibly be expected to, naturally not. How silly of me to ask.” And she stared at me like how awesome: I didn’t know that line would get me any traction.

 

  • I am not sure I can survive without these little animal crackers. Have you tried them with spiced tea? Have you tried them with peanut butter? I have nothing in this house, people. GIVE ME THIS.

 

  • I am starting my second novel. This statement itself is totally nonsensical because I have a full time job as an executive and a boyfriend I like to spend time with and two smallish people living inside of my home. But here I went outlining the plot to my sister over the holidays and we are brainstorming about what awful condition one of my characters has and how it wrecks her life and her husband has to hide it to protect her and the family never knew exactly why she died until now. So let’s recap. Over the holidays I organized my shirts by color, ate excessive amounts of sugar, barely got out of pajamas, and made up a world of imaginary people. You can see why I have to be positive because I’m half-mad and if I get locked up at least I’ll have people in my mind to talk to.

 

  • It was a lucky year for me. I met a brilliant, kind, and loving man. We sat at the top of Mount Greylock this Fall and sipped hot cider. We held hands down 5th Avenue heading in the rain toward the St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We drank beer at Rumpy’s Tavern in Massachusetts. We strolled down the streets of Boston. We stayed up late in Dallas.  We sat in church and he reached for my hand. And we have talked more hours that I can remember. For Christmas, he made me a wall-sized word search of all the places we’ve been together and it made big fat tears roll down my cheeks. He’s a keeper, this one. For I am indeed the lucky one.

 

I hope ya’ll have a lovely new year, whether it’s eating clean or staying organized or being more positive. We all need each other. I’ll be around, smiling and grinning, traveling somewhere, wearing cancer-laden deodorant, thanking God for my wonderful life, and stuffing my face with sugared giraffes while wearing ill-fitted sweaters.

Farewell, Frog

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The other morning, upon running late, shooing children out the door, and wearing a pencil skirt with leopard-print pumps of all things, my son makes a discovery.  A tiny little frog had hopped into the garage – fresh from the rain puddles I suppose, and had found himself juxtaposed between a corner and a large 4-year-old boy with beautiful eyes and a fascination for reptiles. He didn’t have a chance, really.

“Can we take him to school?” my son asked.  He was jumping and his eyes were smiling.  But we didn’t have time.  I was in heels.  There has been zero consumption of caffeine.  We have exactly eighteen seconds to get in the car and peel out of the driveway or both kids would be late.  “Please, mom? Can we can we can we?” I looked in his little eyes, those eyelashes batting up and down.

Damnit with the eyelashes.

So back in the house we go, the superman Tupperware shaped for sandwiches being brutally sacrificed for the love of frogs, so I stab air holes in the lid and hobble back out in my heels and ridiculously thin skirt and try to catch the slippery thing.  Finally with the help of a piece of paper and my transferring-frogs-into-tupperware-skillz that I learned in parenting school, I captured him, to the delight of my screeching son, who was happier than I saw him last Christmas morning.  Which means this Christmas I’m just going to fill the house with frogs.  Thanks a lot, gears-gears-gears. You were a waste of $60.

Off to school we go, after rounds of Taylor Swift for my daughter and having to endure the interior light so she can read her book on dogs who talk and save the earth, and I somehow get the children dropped off at their respective places with statements of love and happiness, through the Starbucks line, and I’m happily in rush-hour traffic toward my office.  Fast forward eight lovely hours, whereby I skipped lunch to review contracts and I’m back in my car, which is hot enough to roast marshmallows because it’s Texas and it never freaking gets cold despite it being October. And then I see it.  Right there next to his seat.

Death.  It permeates the Lexus.

The poor thing suffocated.  It had no hope.  We even put a leaf in the little container for it to eat, although let’s be honest small baby-like frogs don’t munch on leaves like potato chips, but to my son every living thing eats leaves so let’s not ruin the whole story over semantics.  I am forced to make a pit stop in suburbia one block away from my son’s preschool and pull over, opening the lid to throw the dead body out on the pavement below.  I can’t exactly explain to him that we simply “forgot the frog” or “it suffocated in the heat, dying a slow miserable death whilst plastered to a converse blue image of a superhero he will never become,” now can I.

I had to bang the Tupperware against my car for him to fall out because his little water-starved body was stuck to the side. I know, I know. It’s horrific.  I crossed myself although I’m not Catholic and said a little prayer as it lay there lifeless on the pavement below, soon to be run over by the wheels of my own car most likely, but what exactly do you do in this situation? Stupid Texas heat. If we lived in Chicago the sweet little frog might be fat and happy munching on that leaf all afternoon.

I hid the Tupperware in the front seat so my kid wouldn’t ask questions.  I said we could have mac-and-cheese for dinner.  I tried all my tactics to keep him upbeat and not be suspicious.  Until he saw it.  The Tupperware lid peering from underneath my blazer.  Oh, friends.  Let the tears roll.

I told him I let it out by his school, so he could frolic and play with his friends since we forgot to take him in, which at first blush may seem a wee bit untruthful but his froggy friends could so totally be frog zombies. He was mostly angry I didn’t let him out at home, so he could find him (until I offered oreos and then would forget), his long-lost friend (that he forgot) and wanted so badly to save (that he just met this morning it’s not like you guys are BFFs, geez.  Plus he’s a frog).

Needless to say it was a big ordeal, only to be healed by a television show and love from his dear mother (who committed frogslaughter and dumped the body).   The most important thing about all this is that I managed to kneel down in a pencil skirt.  If you see any frog remains in front of a brick house I don’t know what you are talking about.

You guys can judge all day, but just wait until this happens to you.  Let’s hope it’s just a beetle, who “overdid it on the leaf eating.”  They are less frightening when dead. Not that I know anything about that.

Let’s all have oreos. K?

photo:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125791999@N06/14815693604/sizes/m/in/photolist-ozdixb-aEMcB5-8iSSBF-bYL3sS-oeMB1H-frJm9V-afehCU-afbuXR-diibw6-fPkXDZ-e7AHBd-nJEnGP-cuLtuw-fmKcbz-bYdh9h-eYhuLL-a3QXZi-8vQEc6-ar5Pqq-ar5MA3-a7xzoR-gawWdG-cY3ubd-n2RsAZ-n2RzzB-95bS3U-p7uwkv-8NSef1-fhXu9g-o22gME-fJHrBS-9U6BNz-8zbaEB-aGfTcP-it5PQC-9n11Qh-8e8PTF-8sxVNX-8fxwty-bbRNfR-9U6Dw6-9U6CAV-9Nhus2-7GMaLY-jJnqsc-8qF36E-dNU7LR-nHabUq-8A75Dc-afvex1-7PaxWm/

 

A Guide to Storm Preparedness

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When it rains, it pours. Literally. Into my freaking living room.

I had fallen asleep in my daughter’s bed the other night, and when I awoke, it took me a moment to get my bearings.  People had been calling to check in.  Texts were flying. There was strong language like Doppler and Warnings and Get Off The Roadways blaring through my television. Wind was screeching through the small crevices of our home and rain had begun to pellet the metal roof like it had some sort of vendetta. So I gave in to the hysteria of “tornado warnings” and statements to “take cover” by emptying out everything in the closet underneath the stairs and replacing it with pillows, bottled water, and rice krispie treats.  In case of a real (and not just perceived) emergency.

Normally, weathermen just drag themselves across the news station set at the 6 pm hour to point at maps we all know are backward with little annoying arrows as they pretend to care about another hot summer day in Texas.  Hundred Degrees.  Molds are high. But this – THIS!? Winds are parallel to the earth.  Trucks are overturning and trees are cast aside like after-dinner toothpicks at Golden Corral and THERE ARE REPORTS OF HAIL. It’s ninety miles per hour and funnels a-touchin and well, ya’ll better be hunkerin down and stocking them flashlights with batteries. They get so excited I wonder if the crash after this storm mania blows over might set them into suicide watch.

So out goes the vacuum cleaner.  The crock pot’s history.  Armloads of Costco toilet paper gets tossed aside like trash.  In go the blankets. Also the water bottles. And lastly, candles.  I’m not sure what I thought would happen in case of an actual tornado – would me and the kids be noshing on organic brown-rice treats and slurping bottled water while holding hands around candles as our house is crumbling down and landing upon our very heads?  I’m a firm believer in healthy treats and reverse osmosis, so we’d totally be set.

The electricity finally goes out and I’m all “oh crap I can’t see the Doppler” when my dog begins his Total Freakout Mode as the rain and wind bore down upon our metal roof like perhaps the earth was opening and we were the first travelers to the depths of hell.  That’s probably due to the trees slapping against the house and the screaming in my own mind but the dog was slobbering and panting and trying to haul his 14-year-old self into my lap.

I’m sitting there telling the dog it’s all gonna be okay, man, quit it with the slobbering when I feel real water dripping on my head. I look up and rain is coming out of the sheetrock above the coffee table in neat little rows, which means I sat for quite a long time staring because I can’t believe we are suddenly the Clampetts and I rush to get a pan and towels. And of course with my remaining 17% battery life I proceed to call my insurance company in the middle of a life-threatening storm at 11:30 pm with thrashing winds to report a claim.

Look at me.  Water is dripping.  I’ve got a puny little flashlight and an armload of matches. The closet is stocked with treats and pillows.  I’m all “can an appraiser come out this evening, maybe?” The lady responded with “Are you dying? Are you stranded with a child who is in need of medical attention or needs milk and has a diaper full of poo and there’s a log sticking into the front of your minivan so that you can’t operate the vehicle? No? You’re inside your comfortable home in your fuzzy slippers whereby water is slowly dripping into a pan? CHILL THE FREAK OUT, lady.” That might not have been her actual words but whatever.

Later that night both children crawled in bed with me, naturally, and at 4 am I woke with full-blown lights ablazing in my house because the electricity is – Ahem – back on.  So for three days I’ve have industrial fans and dehumidiers and workers traipsing about my attic tearing out wet insulation and my insurance rep finally appears to say it’s not covered and nothing’s reimbursable and I get a quote to remove downed trees in my yard which translates to “you’ll never ever buy another pair of boots in your ever-lovin days, woman.”

So that’s how awesome weekends are made, folks.  But on the bright side, I now realize I have enough toilet paper hidden away under the stairs to wipe the bottoms of all the children in Travis county, and in case of an emergency I can find the number to my insurance company in the pitch black dripping mess of my living room while whispering comforting and reassuring words to an aging retriever.

The kids woke up the next morning totally oblivious with fresh smiling faces.  “A new summer day! What’s for breakfast? Why is all this stuff in the kitchen? What’s with the toilet paper?”

Rice Krispies, kids. Look under the stairs.  And don’t ask so many questions. Momma’s tired.

 

photo:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ikewinski/9448689046/sizes/m/in/photolist-foX14Q-85wRwv-foX3AN-8cppEj-a4tVMa-nAH2Jv-abCN9f-abzjJX-5guZs7-a4tUZv-8ruJf8-nSqHHK-abDmSA-4Zp5TE-4Zp671-4ZjSPD-4Zp6zq-4Zp6Qo-8F2Z2N-4ZjS7t-8hpJge-4ohYtR-abC4Lu-abAbTB-abAv1Z-abDaNS-abCRnJ-abzmG2-abzJzv-abzRCx-abyYcz-abCgwN-abA8pF-abDc3w-abzDsZ-abBUbm-abzsyr-abBLVu-abA2XF-abAcxZ-abzLne-abzEwZ-abA6tH-abD7dN-abzUXe-abD8Kf-abCxsC-abCjtG-abC6jm-abD8sf-abyZRZ/

Odd and Curious Thoughts (about being a lawyer)

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(1)    You have to purchase replacement shoes.  As in “this is part of my wardrobe so it’s totally worth the investment because the leather is peeling off the back of these cheap ones because I hobble across pavement all the time to and from my car and don’t tell me your job is casual or you work from home and all you wear is flip flops because I will cut you.”  Anywho, back to purchasing heels.  Black is generally best.

(2)    People come into your office leading with statements like “I hope I’m not interrupting you but we have a situation.” Tantalizing.

(3)    Sometimes when it’s a boring Tuesday you can just wave your arms around in the hallway of a clinic and say things to a supervisor like “we can’t have our doctors left bare and bleeding on the stand and left with no defenses and when I say ‘medical record integrity’ I am dead serious,” and watch new nurses just blink and stare at you in fear and then you’re all “just kidding I’m just looking for the bathroom.”

(4)    When at cocktail parties, you just say you work in management so you won’t get asked how much child support some deadbeat ex is supposed to pay or whether a landlord has a duty to get rid of the cockroaches.  Because when drinking a cosmo at a swanky bar you don’t want to talk about someone’s bitter divorce and/or roaches. Mostly no to the roaches.

(5)    Why is someone here at this swanky bar that lives in an apartment with roaches and is not instead at Home Depot buying some sort of spray?

(6)    Saying you’re a lawyer makes one think you’re rich, when in reality most real estate salesman and drug reps I know make more money than lawyers.  Unless you successfully sue Exxon, in which case you’re doing fairly well and don’t have to worry about roaches. Or dates.  Or heels with worn leather backsides.

(7)    Sometimes when you’re skimming an article about a mass layoff, you begin to wonder if proper notice was given and start randomly researching the elements of a certain statute to see if that company did their due diligence and wonder what their severance agreements looked like and you’re all GOOD GRACIOUS WOMAN IT’S THURSDAY NIGHT DRINK A BEER AND QUIT RESEARCHING RANDOM CRAP THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU, YOUR CLIENT, OR YOUR LIFE.

(8)    Often a lawyer thinks “why didn’t I just become a language arts teacher or perhaps work in the Estee Lauder counter in the mall?”  Why is no one saying anything. Maybe it’s just me.

(9)    Being a lawyer means you read a lot of words, so if you are trying to date a lawyer you should stay away from statements like “hey you’re pretty I really don’t spell too great but maybe we should go on a date my name is Doug?” Just a tip.  A random tip I know nothing about.  Not that I’m a spelling or grammar nerd (Seriously, Doug? Seriously?)

(10) When you get a phone call and the Caller ID says “Office of Inspector General” or “Federal Bureau of Investigation” it’s best to just go to lunch because those people are so boring and have no sense of humor.

(11) And lastly, when your head hits the pillow at night, you can say with a deep breath that you helped create a lasting impression upon the world because you provided a legal opinion on some random subject that tomorrow, no one will remember.

It’s lovely being a lawyer.  Honestly I’d pick it over any other profession.  It keeps the lights on, helps me afford bug spray, allows me to make fun of myself, stocks my closet with shoes, and keeps my brain active so when I’m old and senile the health care workers will hear me shout “RES IPSA LOQUITOR!” at the top of my lungs as they feed me pudding. And honestly, isn’t that what life’s all about?

Photo:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/69184488@N06/8091027271/sizes/m/in/photolist-djYCwc-bFk1NR-8aff6R-c8V8Em-eHj6Be-ff8wth-9Qoo8Z-ehZE6X-awyExV-g1KQ9p-a5FMNo-g1KHa3-bapa4P-g1KZ7p-atMLeP-dDFnsH-drbbq2-bAWJxe-drb26U-bo2TuS-9KcQNo-b4N7Vi-g1KXpN-g1KxNh-dravcT-bap7qM-dfwcL9-cvcGRQ-cFaD11-g9jp6i-iFiov3-dDFLiV-ceZiJ5-ceZbmJ-draE2E-7GSFBT-9fP1au-cqxYZG-9zdAAF-ejD5JR-9ePFJY-daMu6v-gwmN7H-dLDZcD-gwmAC2-dravCe-g1KNQJ-g1Ljrp-cK43Df-7Jta4f-g1EDcJ/

 

How I Write

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My friend Missy sent me the online version of a chain letter today daring me to document my process of writing. I tried to hate her and crumple her threatening seven-year-old writer chain dare into a wad of trash but she’s so funny and awesome and we are all going country dancing in a few weeks and I need her to be my wingman for hot cowboys.  So now I feel compelled to write about writing, which is the lamest thing ever.  Blame Missy.

What dare I say about this messed-up process? It’s like asking me for the secret of how I do laundry, which is composed of very ingenious piles of generally-the-same-color-things, some of which are white and are now the opposite of white and others I confuse between those boring labels such as “clean” and “dirty” so I stick my nose in a pair of underwear to see how that turns out and then react to myself like I did something revolting when I clearly did by sticking my nose in underwear but it was next to the wadded up clean jeans so I thought maybe miracles happen (?) and I throw a wet towel into a dryer of already dried crumpled-up kids t-shirts hoping the moisture plus an extra 20 minutes will equal all things right and beautiful.  So most days I survive with lots of heaping, wrinkled, and/or moldy piles in various stages of being half-folded.  But occasionally, when the stars align and it’s a breezy beautiful Spring Saturday I lay out all the whites that are cleanly bleached and fold them so gently and put them all away in their rightful homes whilst singing Over the Rainbow in my very best soft soprano wearing a flowing lace dress with cowboy boots and this is how I imagine laundry days in my brain for all eternity DO NOT MESS WITH MY DAYDREAM, PEOPLE.

And so. My answers to the How I Write questions:

1. What are you working on?

I’m working on staying sane.  A lawyer by day, trying to battle a commute and post-divorce dating, with two small children who live in a delusional far-away land that “when momma sells her book in New York she’s gonna quit her job and we’re all gonna get a pool and eat ice pops.”  So I manage to lower their expectations and make spaghetti that no one will touch and deal with laundry (which I’m a pro at) and fall asleep in my son’s little bed with dinosaur sheets and then trudge upstairs at 11 pm to crank out an essay that I often can’t publish because it’s too personal or too awful and I’m writing in a half-dazed state of exhaustion.  I work on what’s in my head brewing, and writing it down helps me work through it and make sense of it, which is why my essays are sometimes weepy and other times flippant.  I try to not let guilt seep into my consciousness for not writing more often. It never works. You could swear I was Catholic with the guilt.

2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?

I write about funny and I write about faith and occasionally slip into cliché issues facing us mothers so basically I’m like every other blogger on the planet except that I have better hair.

3. Why do you write what you do?

If I wrote what I did I’d be dissecting the art of drafting contracts and the complicated world of healthcare regulations, which is about as interesting as a lawn chair, so I write mostly about my struggles with life and God and relationships. And I consider myself a very positive upbeat person, so I suppose I try to convince myself that life always has a sunny side.  I always and in all things try to encourage others to be bigger, bolder, and love God more fiercely.

4. How does your writing process work?

I have no freaking idea.  Something just plagues me and follows me around like a bubble cloud over my head.  I swat at it and it keeps raining down words and then I get in my car all pissed off about this idea that won’t budge so when I drive or walk or fold laundry (ha ha ha) my brain starts spitting out these words in order and I re-arrange them in my mind until they form some sort of essay and then I sigh and trudge upstairs and put all the words on paper.  That’s how it mostly works (sorry to disappoint). But regardless of whether I write during the day or at night or whenever in whatever fashion, the minute I’m done I sigh deeply, like I had all these truths bearing a hole in my soul and I finally found a release valve, and they all poured out on the page, and I want to cry and sleep and curl up in a pile on my down comforter because my work here is done.  When I finished my novel I felt like I had run a marathon, because it was like a life that I birthed, and a extrication of pain that I didn’t know I was grasping onto, and a release of joy that I didn’t know was even lingering.  And it’s a beautiful thing to find release, and feel you are living your truth, and you just have to do it in whatever sloppy way that happens.

Writing is like laundry.  Some days are wadded up piles and others are flowing silk.  Whatever you do, just don’t stick your nose in it.

 

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Photo:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanagyei/5199156473/sizes/m/in/photolist-8Vr35R-6UZ3eh-9281YT-9282ee-8kvbUC-9282Ax-8kvbSL-uwiZT-8sTBte-6v7u9r-7c3uUc-7Lqvbq-dNfJmV-4hBu4N-4sLmMw-dyJTAj-bbpCVP-4hycTx-3sv7z-8XBY9H-9X5niu-cXaXY-4P9kgS-6zHzXB-3RvkeN-f7UKY8-fg4MTo-5qh5N-nvafDc-6mCxRA-78pxKM-61i1L3-4KzKAF-6oddDy-5R2xos-6r8Ety-4zXNZJ-4zTnAx-4zXASY-7pDY19-4zXsQy-6nFDAi-4zXC5s-6mRXVC-4EcJzg-4zTmQk-4AsBqv-4zTuSF-4zXME7-4zXHJd-6qqTra/