Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Resolutions Revisted

 I go back and forth with resolutions and whether or not I'll make them. This is why:


This was my list from last year.

I'll address each one individually:

1. Sleep at least once a day. I know that sounds like a no-brainer for most people. With my schedule the last year, this hasn't always been the case. I mostly made this one. There were a few days when I only got an hour or two of sleep, but I did sleep, so that's an improvement from 2009.

2. Buy one dress each month and wear them as often as possible. I bought ONE new dress. Guess that means I have 11 more to buy in the next four hours, eh?

3. Subscribe to a magazine. Does it count when someone else subscribes you to a magazine? I think so. DONE!

4. Accomplish the weight loss goal I set for myself last summer. (So far, I'm on track, just slowed down a bit.) Let's not talk about it. Moving on.

5. Continue eliminating toxic people from my life. If they don't build me up, they have no business being here. I've become the toxic person and I hate it. This one? Totally needs work.

6. Send birthday cards and/or emails to all my friends and family (So if you think I don't have your birthday saved, please send me an email with your birthdate!). #EPICfail

7. Travel more with my family. Yeah, not so much.

8. Take more bubble baths. I think I took three the whole year.

9. Go camping a few times. I didn't go even once.

10. Read 50 new books. I read three. But I wrote one. That counts, right? No? Damn.

11. Redecorate my bedroom. Still same old drab deco.

12. Spend a long weekend traveling with each of my kids separately. Yeah, didn't happen. #MomFail

13. Spend a long weekend with my husband...and only my husband. This didn't happen either.

14. Spend more time taking pictures of things I enjoy rather than things I'm being paid to shoot. Not nearly enough time on the fun stuff.

15. Finish writing my book. YES!

16. Finish writing my other book. Sorry. I was too busy with #15.

17. Visit three new states I've never been to before. I visited California. One outta three ain't bad.

18. Revisit three states I've already been to.  New York, Illinois and Missouri

19. See a pro sports team play...still haven't decided who or where yet. Another no-go. BUT, I did catch a cab in front of Madison Square Garden, so I'm making progress.

20. Blog daily. BWAAAHAAAAHAAAAHAAA! *deep breath* HAAAAAAAA!

So what does that mean for this year? I'll probably make another 20 resolutions that won't come true, but it is kinda fun to come up with new things to accomplish. Let's see how we do, shall we? Stay tuned for tomorrow's list of resolutions for 2011.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yes, Melanie...there is a Santa Claus

1988 was a hard year for my mom and me. My mother was re-diagnosed with cancer in March and had surgery, chemo and radiation during most of April. My parents divorce was final in May and we had very little money, forcing us to move from our three-bedroom home in the country to a tiny two-bedroom apartment in town. Unfortunately, this tight budget also limited my Christmas list that year. Mom was working full-time at Target, but I didn't want to stress her out by asking for a bunch of things I knew she couldn't get me. I wanted to keep my wish list small. That's why, when I saw a picture in a women's magazine, I tore it out immediately and showed it to my mom. She gave me a firm "We'll see."
The picture was of the first edition Happy Holidays Barbie doll. She was stunning. I'd always been a Barbie Girl," but they were all packed away now, as I felt I'd outgrown them since I'd turned 14 in July. The kid in me came out, though. I just couldn't resist this doll. Her dress was a vibrant red and had layers of stiff, sparkly red tulle. Her blonde tresses were perfectly curled and she even had tiny little red high-heels to match her gown. She had a beautiful Christmas tree ornament and even her own matching display stand. I wanted this doll more than anything in the world! In fact, I didn't even ask for anything else. I folded the magazine picture carefully and carried it around in my purse for two months.

I knew Target would be getting a shipment sometime in November. I was so impatient, but Mom came home the day after Thanksgiving with a distraught look on her face. She said, "Honey, she just flew off the shelves. Target got six of them in and they were gone within minutes. They told me that's the only shipment we'll get. I'm sorry I couldn't get you one." She was nearly in tears as she apologized for not being able to get one. I was obviously disappointed, but I tried not to let it show, especially knowing how upset Mom was. I told her I understood and gave her an amended Christmas list. Afterward, I took the picture from my purse and threw it out. I didn't want any sour reminders.

We celebrated Christmas at my brother's house that year and we brought all the presents from home and opened them there. Mom was feeling a bit worn out and asked me if I could open up the present one of her coworkers had sent home for her. Her friend knew she'd had a rough year and wanted to make sure she had something to open on Christmas. I opened the package for Mom and handed her the pretty strawberry potholders that her friend had given her and then I noticed what was tucked beneath them...that familiar logo, those gorgeous blonde curls and that vibrant red tulle. 
 I still don't know how she did it and I never will, but Mom gave me the best present in the whole world that day: she showed me that there is indeed a Santa Claus.

Thank you, Mom.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Distance and Time

Carlene Cooper was your average teenager. Average, that is, except for her relationship with Josh McCarthy, a member of one of the hottest bands in the world, South Station Boyz. Young love blossomed at a chance meeting when Carly was a senior in high school and Josh was just discovering what stardom really meant. Despite their chemistry, however, it was no surprise to anyone when their very different lives took very different paths a few months down the road.

Years later, their stars align again and they must decide if the spark they felt back then is strong enough to rekindle. Josh has built a name for himself in show business, but Carly, too, has also established herself as a serious journalist in New York City. Will they be able to successfully merge their lives and overcome the obstacles that drove them apart a decade earlier?
Just as she comes to the decision that will determine her and Josh's future together, Detective Trey Foster enters her life unexpectedly and Carly is faced with another choice. Will she choose the man she's spent her whole life loving or will she push it aside for a chance at happiness out of the spotlight?
This? Is my baby.

This is the story I've been working on since last year that has had me cussing and crying and shouting at the wind. Its fate sits in the hand of a publisher right now. They could scrap it and say they're not interested or they could ask me for more chapters to see what they're dealing with. I should know in a few weeks and will keep you posted.

Friday, November 5, 2010

No middle ground for me.

It's no secret that I speak what's on my mind and deal with the consequences of those words later. The other day I got into some hot water for having spoken my mind on Facebook. Long story short, people stuck their noses in where they didn't belong and my husband got dragged into it. (Believe me, you don't want to know.)

I sat there after all this happened in tears, dreading going into work. Hubs was home and we were talking about it. I told him that I hated that I didn't know how not to vent about things that make me mad or frustrate me. It's so natural for me to just spout off whatever's on my mind. I wear my heart on my sleeve and open myself up to shit like this regularly. I don't hold back. And it gets me into trouble. I told him, "I wish I could be like you: have a blow-up and four minutes later, be sleeping soundly with all of it blocked out."

That's when he pointed out something I hope I never forget: With blocking out the stress comes blocking out the passion.

I just sat there and looked at him as I let it all sink in. He continued, "When I shut out the stress and the emotion and the anger, I also shut out the smiles and the laughter and the happy. Just like you wish you could be like me, I wish I could be like you. You feel EVERYTHING...as big as possible. You laugh for hours. You smile constantly. You're in a constant state of high emotion, whether you're happy or pissed. You don't know how to do middle ground and I love that about you. Me? I feel nothing most days. I don't get pissed or angry, but that means I also don't laugh a lot. I don't smile all that often. I keep everything pretty middle-of-the-road because I don't know how not to."

He made me realize that I never want to be like that. So if it means I have to apologize for my words, wrap my hand because I've punched a wall or pick up the shards of whatever I've broken, I'll do it. Because I wouldn't give up this laughter, these smiles and this happiness for anything in the world. 

The pissed will pass.

The laughter? Never.

#tweetyour16yearoldself: The Blog

Inspired by a recently trending topic, I decided instead of spamming my followers with all the advice I had for my teenage self, I would blog about it. Some advice is funny. Some not-so-much. All of it's the truth.

  1. You. Are. Not. Fat.
  2. See that crazy Asian girl sitting over there by the fireplace all by herself? She needs you. And you need her. It will always be that way.
  3. Your obsession with these five guys from Boston will never end.
  4. But that's okay because twenty years from now, you're not only going to have met them, but they're going to know you by name and face.
  5. Don't spend so much time trying to be grown up. You had to. I get it. But now? The pressure's off. Enjoy being young so you don't spend the rest of your life trying to be sixteen again.
  6. Don't waste your time trying to fit in with the cool kids. Be who you are and they'll flock to you.
  7. Stop being so self-conscious.
  8. Those hickies make you look like a slut. Stop it.
  9. Start deciding what you want to do now because that whole wife/mom thing isn't all it's cracked up to be some days. You'll want to have something to fall back on when it falls apart.
  10. You're going to be given an ultimatum to stay a cheerleader or go to a YABE weekend. Go with your gut. You'll *never* regret that decision.
  11. I repeat, you are NOT fat.
  12. Don't be so hard on your brother and sister-in-law. This is a HUGE adjustment for them, too. Cut them a little slack and stop acting like a spoiled brat.
  13. Yes, Mom is proud of you.
  14. Call Dad more often and stay close. There's going to come a time when you wish you had.
  15. You're going to marry the wrong man, but that's okay because he's going to give you two beautiful children.
  16. You have plenty of time to settle down and have a family. Don't rush it. Take your time, explore your options. Open up your life to opportunities farther away than this one little state. Try Boston College, NYU or Northwestern. You're smart enough to get into any of those three schools.
  17. You've got a great voice. Sing and be heard.
  18. That Asian girl? Call her more often and don't let her slip away. Remember what I said about her needing you.
  19. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to say "Why Me?" Say it. Feel it. Be it. Then get over it. You are not a victim. You're a survivor.
  20. Write more.
  21. Use birth control. Always. It not only can happen to you. It will happen to you.
  22. There's something coming along in about five years called "The Internet." It's going to both ruin your life and save your life. It will bring people into your circle you never thought possible. Some will be there to build you up. Some to break you down. Embrace them all with open arms (just be sure to listen to your gut on that whole breaking-you-down thing. The signs will be there).
  23. You will drift away from your siblings over the next twenty years. It's okay. They will be replaced by "brothers" and "sisters" that love you more than you realize. I can't explain it. Just go with it.
  24. Stay away from the Sun-In and the hair bleach. Blonde is not your color.
  25. That pimple-faced kid is sweet, but he's not the one. 
  26. And for God's sake, don't sleep with him.
  27. Pay more attention in English and take some lit classes. 
  28. Congratulations on just saying no to drugs.
  29. Ask your sister-in-law to teach you how to manage your money.
  30. How many times do I have to say it? You are not fat.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I can do anything!

I can do anything.

Barbie told me so.



I am, was and always will be a Barbie Girl. I received my first doll when I was 3 and bought my last one just a few years ago. I owned almost every doll that Mattel put out in the 80's. I had the houses, the cars, the pools, the outfits, the shoes (Lord, the shoes!)...you name it, I had it.

Over the years, Mattel has changed Barbie's body mold to personify a more realistic looking "person" for girls to identify with, but the truth (for me, at least) is that I didn't love Barbie because she had great clothes and a 18" waist. I loved Barbie because she was exactly who I wanted to be: A movie star, Homecoming Queen, a rockstar, a bride, a mom, a doctor, a police officer, a roller skating queen, a Playboy centerfold, a vet, a dancer, an astronaut...and a thousand other things my childhood imagination concocted. Barbie was anything I wanted her to be.

Was she beautiful? Of course, but her beauty wasn't what drew me to her. It was the dreams and imagination she inspired in me.

I may be too old to play with dolls now, but Barbie still inspires me and I still believe I can do anything.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NYC 2010: Unforgettable

I've wrestled over the last few days with writing this blog about my recent trip to New York City. There were so many incredible things that happened to me and I want to share them all, but in all honesty, some things just can't be put into words. Even for me.

This trip was something I never thought I'd be able to do in the first place, so the fact that I was able to go was a miracle in itself. When you combine that with the people I met and the things I got to do, it's almost as if I'm still waiting to open my eyes and it all to have been a dream.

But there they are: the pictures of those I met, online video clips from the talk show I visited three days in a row, receipts and business cards from places I visited. And the memories.

The most amazing parts of this trip wouldn't have been possible if it hadn't been for my friend Sherri, who not only provided me with a place to stay but also shared her life and family with me for three days. She let me tag along with her to work (despite my gasps and "Shut UP!"'s when she would introduce me to yet another celebrity I'd long-admired). She joined me and my friends for lunch more than once. She opened her heart and her home to me, allowing me to see a side of herself not many get to see. I will always cherish that trust. And for that reason, I will not be going into many details about the how's and what's of everything I experienced, but I can share some of the less-private moments.

Suffice it to say, I met some amazing people and was afforded some pretty spectacular once-in-a-lifetime Views (no pun intended). For those wondering,  the ladies of the View (Sherri Shepherd, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters) are exactly what you see on camera - they're funny and witty and personable and kind. They each took time from their busy schedules to pose for photographs and chit-chat with me a bit. The staff at the View is also one-of-a-kind. So many nice people!! Maria Shriver, Rod Stewart and Patricia Heaton were all VERY sweet people. All three were willing to take pictures with us and I even chatted with Maria for a few minutes in the elevator on the way up to the studio. While I saw Tyler Perry, Isaac Mizrahi, Stephen Colbert, Arianna Huffington and Janet Napolitano from a distance, I didn't get a chance to talk to any of them (except for an "Excuse me, I'm so sorry" from Isaac when he ran into me in the Green Room).

The most ironic thing about this trip is that while it started out as a NKOTB/Joe McIntyre thing, it ended up as so much less than that. In fact, Joe's show was such a minute part of the trip, it's easy to forget that I actually went (and had a good time). I think I needed this trip to put things into better perspective for myself. I didn't hang out outside Joe's Pub for hours, I didn't stalk Donnie on the set of Blue Bloods. I didn't hang around after the show or try to find where Joe and Eman were staying. The whole lack of NK frenzy gave this trip that much more of an incredible and unique feel to it. It was nice to just attend something for them rather than make it my entire obsession. Very pleasant change of pace.

While Roxy, Sherri and I were on our way to Times Square to meet Clarita for lunch, Donnie tweeted "Today... Remember what's truly important! Material things? Superficial stuff? No! THE MOMENTS MATTER! Life your life & cherish every second!"  Talk about ironic! The three of us had just discussed how much the memory means as opposed to autographs and gifts. I brought home only one souvenir from my trip. The moments, though? They will live on in my memory and my heart for years and years to come. Nobody can take them away from me.

They were unforgettable.

(a bracelet Sherri gave me from Maria Shriver)

Thank you, Sherri for one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I love you so much for your gift of friendship and for sharing your life with me. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Love deeply and without restraint

I sat today in a funeral home in southern Iowa at the memorial service for my friend Teri Fenton. She left behind four kids, five step-kids, nine grandchildren and her husband, also named Terry, who sits home alone tonight a broken man.

We're friends with numerous couples. Some we've known for decades, others a small time frame. We've known those who are in it for the long haul and those who quit after just a few years. Then there are couples like the Fentons who are each one half of the other person. They had their own interests, of course - all couples do, but to see them together, there was no doubt how in love they were.

To see Terry hunched over sobbing, his grief overwhelming him, broke my heart. I leaned my head against my husband's shoulder and squeezed his hand a little tighter as we sat through the rest of the service. I know I complain about him a lot, but tonight? I'm so grateful he's here and that he loves me...that he completes me.

All Terry has left of his wife tonight are her charred wedding rings, which he wears on a chain around his neck. For him...for all of those who've lost their other half...hugs yours a little tighter tonight.

 RIP Teri

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In my next 30 years...

My friend Jessica just wrote a blog detailing her Bucket List and it inspired me to revisit mine. I've always been a dreamer, of course, but when I hit 30, I decided to evaluate where I was in my life and where I wanted to be. During that self-analysis, I did a scrapbook layout that included my Bucket List. 



The list included (though wasn't limited to):

  • Parasailing
  • Have a [scrapbook] layout published in a magazine or book
  • Spend New Year's Eve in Times Square
  • Go white river rafting
  • Cuddle with a koala in Australia
  • Swim with dolphins
  • See a show on Broadway
  • Have furniture that isn't second-hand
  • Travel through Europe
  • Take my kids to Disney World
  • Visit the ghosts at Myrtle Plantation
  • Spend a week with [hubby] in Hawaii
  • Own my own home 5/1/05
  • Go camping in Yellowstone
  • Hike & camp in the Colorado Rockies
  • Gamble in a real Las Vegas Casino
  • Do the touristy thing in DC and NYC 5/8/09
  • Live long enough to see my children grown and married
  • Go stormchasing and see a tornado up close 11/06
  • Spend a weekend holed up in a cabin in the wilderness
  • Go on a cruise to Alaska
  • Live on a farm - complete with animals and a garden
  • Learn how to can veggies like tomatoes and pickles
  • Learn how to ski or ice skate
  • Tour Civil War battlefields and plantations in the South
  • Own my own scrapbook store
  • Write a book and have it published
  • Have my portrait painted
  • Be in a financially secure place to where all bills are paid ahead of time & there's money left in the bank
One might think this list is a long, but I don't. I think it's perfectly attainable...that is, if I still wanted to do those things. I don't. I couldn't care less about gambling in Vegas, any of the scrapbooking stuff or living on a farm. I'd happily give up the Alaska part of the cruise dream (and if I did, then that dream was accomplished in May 2011 when I cruised to the Bahamas). The koalas can go, too.

If I wrote a list now, it would include some very different things...things I left off the original list (but have since come true) and things I didn't even know I wanted until the opportunity arose. Things like:
  • Love more
  • Bitch less
  • Repair relationships worth saving and eliminate those that aren't
  • Rekindle old friendships
  • Don't be afraid to be honest with people - as Dr. Seuss says, “Be Who You Are and Say What You Feel Because Those Who Mind Don't Matter and Those Who Matter Don't Mind.”
  • Realize beauty isn't in the physical things
  • Take better care of my body
These are the "fluffy" ones, as I call them (all of which I've accomplished, by the way) - the ones that are just good points to live by. As for actual tangible things:
  • Get back to my high school weight (Yes, this is totally attainable.)
  • Meet New Kids on the Block 4/6/09 (Donnie & Joe), 5/8/09 (Donnie, Jordan, Joe & Danny), 7/14/09 (Jon), 7/15/09, 5/12/11 (all of them)
  • Redecorate my bedroom without the help of an interior designer
  • Visit Los Angeles
  • See the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person
  • Be an extra in a movie or a television show
  • Put my feet in the water of both the Atlantic & Pacific oceans Atlantic 10/2/95, Pacific 5/22/10
  • Live in NYC for a year
  • See a Celtics basketball game in person (courtside seats next to Donnie Wahlberg would be a bonus) 4/1/12
  • Have one of my photographs displayed publicly 8/11/11
The thing about a bucket list is this: for as many of my dreams that I acknowledge and recognize and strive to achieve, there are hundreds that lurk beneath the surface that I didn't even know I wanted until they happened.  Things like becoming friends with Sherri Shepherd, having Jon Knight seek me out during a concert, traveling to NYC on the spur of the moment (twice), an opportunity to travel over 6,000 miles in a year to see NKOTB perform. Every day is filled with surprises and encounters I never dreamed of.

So I guess if I don't accomplish everything on my bucket list, it's okay because I've been so blessed in so many other areas of my life. My cup runneth over.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Speechless

I'm rarely without words, but in nine years, I've barely been able to write more than a few paragraphs of distant emotions regarding 9/11. I wasn't in New York City that day. In fact, I just visited the city for the first time in May 2009. Like many tourists, I went to Ground Zero. I started out with the intention of doing a round trip ride on the Staten Island ferry first, then walking slowly up to the WTC when I returned to lower Manhattan. It would allow me time to mentally prepare myself for what I thought I would see when I got to Ground Zero.

What I wasn't prepared for stood battered and broken in Battery Park.
 
Standing guard in the harbor was Lady Liberty, but she was as silent as I was as I looked at the only tangible piece I'll see of that terrible day. I was with a new friend I'd met that day, so I wasn't entirely alone as I read the placard and looked reverently at The Sphere. My emotions came out of nowhere and hit me like a sledgehammer to the heart. For as uncomfortable as my friend must've felt, I could tell she felt very much the same. I couldn't catch my breath and I remember just standing there silently with tears rolling down my face and an emptiness in my heart that I've never felt before or since. I didn't know anyone who died on September 11th, yet I knew a very large part of all of us did. And we would never heal completely from the loss.

As we walked to Ground Zero together, we talked quietly about how that day affected us personally - where we were, what we saw, how we felt. It was amazing to me how very different our lives were and how the disaster touched us, yet how it brought us together on that day as we stood at the fences staring at a construction site where two of the tallest buildings in the world had once stood.

A vacant ache began in my chest and quickly consumed what was left of my composure. I crumpled in tears just yards outside fire company 10 next to Ground Zero. I read the names on the wall of the firefighters and other civil servants who lost their lives that day. I wanted to offer some sort of thanks to those at Co. 10 who lost comrades, but couldn't even catch my breath, much less speak.

While I'd felt an empty ache before my trip to New York, standing there amidst the chaos still at the site, I felt something I can't even put words to. For me? That's big. 

To those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, I honor you. You will never be forgotten.




9/11 revisited

I was not there. I did not die.

I did not feel the tremors of concrete exploding above me in this morning's business meeting on the 56th story. The soles of my shoes did not melt to the floor as it was licked by the flames on the level beneath me. Jet fuel vapors did not saturate my nostrils when I gasped for clean air in my smoke-filled office. My clothes were not torn or ripped off my body when glass and debris pierced the safety of the stairwell. Rescuers will not scrape my splattered body off the sidewalk because I leaped to my death from a window a quarter of a mile in the sky. You did not see me fleeing in panic from the cloud of ash chasing me like a mugger through the streets of New York City. I did not yank every door handle looking for that one unlocked car to serve as refuge from the criminal grabbing at my sleeve. The gritty taste of soot did not stain my tongue in the snowy blizzard of ash that bleached my skin, hair and clothes.

I did not mutter the 23rd Psalm just in time for the nose of my plane to kiss the steel walls of a skyscraper. My throat was not slit with a box cutter by the man who held my fate. My cell phone wasn't dialed in the last minutes of my life as I hid in a tiny box of a restroom. I did not describe to my husband the terror I was encountering just seconds before my exit from this world.

Instead, I was here. I lived.

I gaped at the radio in disbelief when Tim McGraw was interrupted with a late breaking news story of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. I surfed the radio stations searching for more information on this catastrophic event. When a journalist's voice was replaced again with song, I would punch the "seek" button on my Alpine until another somber voice was heard. I contemplated turning my car around and returning to the sanctuary of my home. Algebra just didn't seem quite that important anymore. Math won out as I parked my car on campus. The repeated stories echoed through the empty hallways from radios turned on a bit louder than usual. A television in the student lounge boomed ominously to an astounded audience of students, most barely old enough to recall the Oklahoma City bombing with any accuracy. Many had never seen disaster of this magnitude. For that matter, none of us have.

I don't remember sitting through Prof. Jensen's examples on the board today and I still don't understand #20 on the worksheet she assigned. I can't even tell you how I got home this afternoon. Somehow, I managed to pick up my kids and meet my husband at the door with a sigh of relief. The television became our Midwest connection to the horror on the eastern seaboard. We watched in grotesque interest when CNN rolled footage of limp bodies plunging to the ground in some twisted form of suicide. I didn't blink until the video was shown a third time as the plane suddenly appeared in the right of the screen, veered suddenly and exploded through the 83rd floor of the second tower. It wasn't until the whispered words became harmonized verses as this country's congressmen sang "God Bless America" that I finally felt emancipated enough to cry.

My six year-old asked me to show him on the globe where the "bad man crashed his plane." I did. I also showed him where we live. I repeated in "kid terms" what happened and whom they think did it. I attempted to explain why the person is mad. My son, a young man who at times carries the weight of the world on his shoulders said to me, "Mama? I don't want there to be a fire. I don't want to die." His body will not be laid to rest with the thousands who perished in this disaster. But there is a small part of him that will be buried. A small part of all of us will be.

Music of patriotic mourning steals the silence of my quiet home as it nears 3am here in the Heartland. Still a bit shell-shocked, I sit in this chair typing sporadically as ideas pierce the numbness of my mind. With tearstained cheeks, a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach that cannot be loosened I pray yet again. I beg God for some whisper of understanding or a sheet of peace to envelop me so that I may at last sleep tonight.

Today, someone took a proverbial bite of the Big Apple, but I was not there.

I did not die.

(written September 2001)

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to get divorced

Having been through a divorce myself, being a victim of my parents' divorce and seeing my children deal with the second divorce of their father, I feel there are some things that need to be said. This is for anyone who's been through a divorce, is going through one or will go through one. It's also not bad advice if you apply it to a troubled marriage.

1) Do NOT put your child in the middle of your battle with your soon-to-be-ex (STBE). Whether they're infants or teenagers, they have enough weight on their own shoulders and they're dealing with enough of their own grief over your separation without having to carry the weight of your anger, grief and frustration. And when they need to talk, you have to be willing to put your own personal feelings about your STBE aside so you can listen to their worries without influencing them one way or another. Diplomacy is vital when dealing with your child during a separation or divorce.

2) If your spouse says it's over and they refuse to take steps to repair their relationship with you, then accept that it's OVER. Don't berate them. Don't harass them. Don't take out your anger on them. Don't stalk them. Don't criticize them. Don't question their motives. Just accept it and move on. The above behavior does nothing for either party when it comes to moving on. This rule also applies to your STBE's friends and family.

3) While you don't have to like your STBE, you do need to remember that everything you do and say is being watched by others. People you never expected to turn on you, will choose sides. Sometimes, that side won't be yours. Some people you thought were your friends will be all-too-happy to report back to your STBE about the shenanigans you're pulling and the lies you're spewing.

4) If your attorney tells you to do something or not do something, listen to them. They know the law better than you do and not only could you end up without an attorney, you could end up in jail for breaking the law. That's not going to end well for anyone involved, especially your child. Also, if you have an attorney, let them deal with conflict between you and your STBE. That's why they're there. If your ex is doing something that you don't think they should be doing, let your attorney deal with the confrontation. If you don't have an attorney, then call theirs.

5) With divorce comes anger and hostility. I get that. Believe me...I've been there. Instead of focusing that hatred on your STBE, focus it elsewhere, such as yourself or your kids. Find a hobby to keep your mind off the situation. Spend more time with friends and family. Surround yourself with people who can help you use your negative energy in a positive way. Coach a little league team. Get in touch with old friends. Travel. Go to church. Get involved in the community. Read. Listen to music. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. If you find yourself unable to move past your hostility and anger, get counseling. Let's be honest, it's not a bad idea to do anyway. If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your kids. They're going to need you at your best now more than ever. Don't give them less than 100% of your best. 

6) This is an emotional time. Cry. Get mad. Curse. Throw stuff. Join a kickboxing class. Scream at the top of your lungs. Growl. Vent. Get your emotions out, then LET THEM GO. Don't pick them back up when you're done venting. Leave them alone. That's the point of doing those things...so you don't have those emotions anymore.

7) Document everything involving your STBE. Everything. Every phone call, every visit, every email, every text message, every face-to-face conversation. You may never need the information, but if you do, it's nice to have. Where kids are concerned, write down every ball game, school event, doctors appointment, visitation schedule, birthday party...anything that involves your children, whether it involves the other parent or not. Inform your STBE of those events. Even if you think they can't attend, they need to be made aware. And, in kind, every time the other parent misses or is late for an event, appointment or visitation, write that down, too. I have been divorced for eleven years and I still do this despite the fact that I haven't had to use my records in over four years.

8) While we're on the subject of co-parenting, keep in mind, it is NOT your STBE's responsibility to make you aware of events in your child's life. There are school calendars and sports schedules for a reason. Check them. Check them often. If you're able to maintain open communication (without hostility) with your STBE, then you may ask them to keep you informed of appointments, etc, but don't expect them to. Be proactive about it. It will not only make you aware of what's going on in your child's life, but your child will pick up on the fact that you care enough about them to be involved.

9) Remember that just because you're not married to your child's other parent any longer, you are still a parent. You will have to be present in your child's life for many years to come and if you're hostile toward their other parent, they will pick up on that and end up resenting you as a result. You don't have to like your STBE, but you do have to be nice to them. It's tough, but it can be done. Trust me.

10) Rely on your friends during this time. They, no doubt will have opinions about the situation, but make sure they understand that you need to depend on them for strength. They should also be aware of the things said here. They can detest your STBE all they want, but when around your children, they need to keep those emotions in check. It's also important that you not try to influence your child's relationship with your STBE's friends and family. Your child needs an emotional support system now more than ever and when you bad-mouth those people, your child feels like they've lost even more relationships.

11) Remember that children can be manipulative. I made an agreement with my ex-husband eleven years ago: "I will believe half of what the kids tell me goes on at your house if you believe half of what they tell you goes on here." It's worked for us. If there have ever been question as to something that's happened, we've agreed to discuss it like adults rather than take our children's word for it. Kids will also tell you what they think you want to hear. If you hate their father, then they will talk trash about him to you. Vice versa. If you present a united parental front to your kids, they will realize that you are still their parents, despite being divorced. They need that stability. Give it to them.

12) Stop hanging onto the roles you have had thus far. You are no longer that person. Whether you agree with the reasons your STBE wants a divorce or not, you no longer have a say in what goes on in their life. You are not in control of this situation, anymore. Walk away with your dignity and whether you like the situation or not, it is what it is. Accept it gracefully and MOVE ON.

This list is in no way all inclusive, but should be a good start beyond common sense that should already be in place. A divorce doesn't have to be messy. That is entirely up to you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Faith. Hope. Love

These last couple years have been tough for my husband and I financially. We've struggled many times over the last year trying to balance our needs and our wants (and when you've got a NKOTB addiction and have friends from one end of the continent to the other, this makes it tough).

There have been a lot of opportunities that I've been able to partake in over the last two years, but there've also been a lot of opportunities I've missed out on, too. I don't allow myself to get excited about birthday parties or the cruises because I know it's out of my means to go.  I've gone to a few shows this year, but I had to pass up a trip to New Jersey in March with my @TeamWahlberg sisters and a trip to New York in June. Each time, I've had to cancel, I've found myself more and more discouraged and depressed. There've been times when I've canceled even going out with the girls for a movie because I wasn't fit to be around people. It's been a sad descent into this hole.

Today, however, I'm happy to report that I am employed once again. It's not a glamorous job and it doesn't pay all that well, but it's more than I've been making and it will allow us to get some bills paid off (big stress relief right there). It will also allow me to plan on some vacations in the coming months and (provided I have good Wait List mojo) the NKOTB cruise in May 2011.

It's good to finally allow myself to HOPE again!!

It's ironic, really

While I've gone on record about not liking children, I seem to be surrounded with amazing kids. Mouth's friend, Mooch is here a LOT. He's a great kid. Midget's friend, T-Dawg is here all the time, too (I'll get to that more in a minute). @DonniesDancer's kids are a light in my life, too. Their talents and kindness are inspiring. The neighbor kids stop by frequently and while they sometimes get under my skin, they feel comfortable enough here to continue coming by. A couple weeks ago, I had a sitting with a huge family. They had six kids under the age of 4. Hubs said he was always impressed with how well I handle small children during sittings. 

I get along well with kids. It's ironic, really.

As some of you might know, T-Dawg has been a constant presence at our house this summer. From the time I get out of bed in the morning until the street lights come on at night, he's here, typically eating most of his meals here. I joked that if he didn't start eating at home that I was going to send his dad a bill for child support. He's gotten a bit annoying at times with his frequent visits and it's gotten to the point that I had to set some ground rules and time frames so that our own family could function well.

Sadly, it's come to my attention that his home life is less than pleasant. His dad is a good guy, but he works a lot and the woman I'll refer to from hereforth as StepMonster is not a good person and she and her heathen offspring (aka StepVermin) make T-Dawg's life a living hell. The StepVermin constantly push his buttons and get in fights with him. They steal his food, his toys, his video games. They blame him for things that happen that aren't his fault. And of course, the StepMonster sides with her cherubic demon spawn and T-Dawg pays the price. (For example, he showed up this morning at 6:30 a.m. with his school bag full of supplies so the StepVermin won't steal it from him.)

In talking with T-Dawg's dad last night and seeing how miserable things are at home for the kid, it's become apparent that I have become the proud parent (from 6:30 a.m. until 8:30 pm) of a 13 yr old bouncing baby boy. He's a darling child, really...a bit rough around the edges, but for whatever reason, God thinks I'm good for this kid and He's brought him to me. So, I...the self-proclaimed "Mr. Wilson" (of Dennis the Menace fame), have become a refuge for this lost little man. 

I think I'm going to need more vodka.

**Addendum**
I found out that T-Dawg's dad and StepMonster are filing for divorce for his days in misery are numbered. I'm very pleased by his father's decision to leave this woman (or rather kick her out) and I think T-Dawg will benefit from it immensely.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dancing in the Rain

I have a confession.

When I've talked about dancing in the rain before, I haven't always gone out and done it. I've meant to, of course, but I open the door and cringe the minute a drop hits my skin. I'm a puss. I'll admit it.

But tonight, I did it.

I stuffed my iPod in my pocket, left my glasses on the sofa table and I went outside, queueing up "Glitter in the Air" by Pink. 

I don't have formal training as a dancer, but I twirled and kicked and sang at the top of my lungs. I splashed and I looked up to the sky and celebrated life with my missteps and sour notes.

When was the last time you even walked through the rain instead of running inside? When did you take a stroll without an umbrella? When was the last time you said "I just don't care" and stood in a thunderstorm and sang out your favorite song to the skies with no regard for what people might think?
 
 
Addendum:
When I came back inside looking like a drowned rat, my teenage son looked at me like I'd lost my mind.

"Mom? What have you been drinking?" he asked me, as he handed me the towel I asked him to get before I went outside.

"Life, son."

"Ohhhhhhhhhkaaaaaaaay."

"Do you ever dance in the rain?" I asked him, ignoring his skepticism.

"Uhh, no. It's wet, Mom."

"Yes, my dear. That's the point. C'mon. Come dance in the rain with me."

I was met with a blank stare, followed by, "Right now?"

"Of course right now. It's perfect!"

And for five minutes, my son and I danced without music in the middle of a thunderstorm. Aside from his birth, that was my favorite moment of our life together so far. Thank you, Son.

Friday, August 6, 2010

August already?

As I sit here looking at the calendar (and pending school registration) I can't help wondering where the summer went. My summer plans were to get to the beach a few times, spend time in the woods taking more nature-related photographs, spend more time soaking in the sun, traveling and getting a little writing done.

So far I've gotten some writing done. Go figure.

The kids are here for the next two weeks and it's my intention to get to the beach at least once, spend some time walking the trails by the lake and taking a buttload of pictures of the kids (they're gonna haaaate that part). They're itching to come home (after two weeks at Dad's and a week with the grandparents) and I don't blame them. I remember going on vacation as a kid and about half-way through the week I was ready to come home. It didn't matter that I was swimming, fishing and hanging out with my summer friends at the lake. I just wanted to be at home.

I think that's where I am this summer. When I painted my office last winter, I had no idea how much I would come to love this space. It's comforting, inviting and soothing to my creative soul. This is where I want to be. But I can't spend forever here. And as I'm learning procrastination isn't as great as its cracked up to be. So next week, it's sunshine & sand for me.

What are YOU doing as summer winds to a close?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Who I am...

I'm many things - sometimes I'm quiet and shy, frequently reclusive and agoraphobic, sometimes bitchy and mean, often sarcastic and witty, occasionally charming and coy, always flirtatious and fun-loving.

I'm mouthy, sassy and opinionated. I'm also loving, affectionate, romantic and sentimental. I like animals more than kids (my own and a few others excepted) and would rather cook a meal at home than eat out at a restaurant (usually). I open my home to just about anybody, but lock my car at the grocery store. I pick up pennies in a parking lot, but rarely recycle pop cans. I believe in luck, fate and superstitions, but have a deep faith in God.

I still keep in touch with people I knew from kindergarten. Three of my best friends have known me for more than twenty years, yet I make new friends every day and I'm as fiercely protective and loyal to them as I am the ones who've been here all this time. I'm friends with convenience store clerks and celebrities, both. I consider the confidences shared by either to be just as important as the other and would never betray a trust.

I, however, sometimes trust too easily and it's come back to bite me in the ass more than once. I just can't fathom giving less than all of who I am. I, albeit naively, expect the same in return from others. Deceitfulness is the most serious of sins in my eyes and if someone has lied to me, it's rare that they are given a second chance with me.

I love the outdoors - but only when it's not too hot. Or too cold. Or too windy or rainy. I love thunderstorms and blizzards, but don't want to be caught in my car during either one. I love flowers and home-grown tomatoes, but don't enjoy gardening. I will walk through a ditch fending off ticks & snakes to get the perfect picture of a fence post, but can't stand mosquitoes or ants at a picnic.

I rearrange my furniture all the time but have only bought new towels once. I burn candles constantly but never use air freshener. I love painting and redecorating but can't stand the thought of paying someone else to do either. My ceiling fans are on year-round, even if means turning up my thermostat a little bit. I love hardwood floors and Berber carpet but don't own either.

I used to live my life based on what was on TV any given moment. Now, the TV stays primarily off and music fills my world. I have Kid Rock and Tschaikovsky on the same playlist. I also have a playlist of songs from Disney Movies.

My wardrobe has seen better days, but I hate shopping for clothes. My closet is filled with things I hardly ever wear and the top of my dresser is always covered with clothes I wear constantly. I love shoes and would sell my soul for a comfortable pair of high heels, but truth be told I prefer to be barefoot. My favorite piece of clothing is an orange sweatshirt that I bought years ago. It's six sizes too big and the lettering is coming off. My husband hates it. Maybe he shouldn't have proposed to me while I was wearing it.

I'm traditional and old-fashioned and I think the feminist movement was the biggest mistake in the 20th century. But I'm not afraid to change the oil in my car, fix a leaky pipe or build a bookshelf without a man's help, especially if he offers because he doesn't think I can do it myself. I can open  my own doors, but I love it when a man does it for me.

I'm a information gatherer. I have more random trivia stored in my brain (and sometimes the notebooks in my office) than anyone could possibly imagine, yet I don't share even a fraction of it with anyone else. I'm nosy and curious, but never to the detriment of others. I'm the go-to girl my friends turn to when they can't remember a name or a place. If I don't already know the answer, I'll spend hours researching it fully and give them more information than they ever bargained for. Unfortunately my hunger for knowledge also makes me incredibly argumentative, especially if I know the facts and I'm passionate about the subject.

I can belch the alphabet but I can also tell you exactly which piece of silverware to use during each course of a multi-course meal. I can drink a beer from a bong or sip champagne from a piece of Waterford stemware. I'm equally comfortable doing either. 

I enjoy sitting outside at a baseball game or tailgating outside a football stadium, but my heart belongs at the Gahden. I bleed green. Always have. Always will. People are often surprised at my passion, loyalty and knowledge of Celtic basketball. They also often make the mistake of calling me a fair-weather fan and assume that my love for Boston coincides with my love for a certain boy band. Make no mistakes. I've been a Boston fan before there even was a boy band from their city.

I'm sharp-tongued and quick-witted. My words are biting and I've often offended others by things I've said. Rarely has that been intentional, but I apologize nonetheless when I've done someone wrong. I don't like the taste of crow, but I will eat it when I'm wrong. I take responsibility for the things I say and do.

Growing up, the fear of being laughed at or judged by those around me controlled my every waking moment. Over time I've learned that the ability to laugh at myself is key to a happy life. I still get embarrassed sometimes, but I've embraced the fact that I will do stupid shit and I will get laughed at for it. I might as well beat them to the punch.

While I love attention, I'm not an attention whore. I have no room for drama or childish crap in my life. If you act like a 12 yr old, take your ball and go home. I have better things to do than patronize your pity parties, jealousy, gossip, hissy fits and tantrums. My own kids don't pull that crap. I'm not about to let somebody else do it. And YES, this includes my own family members.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kronos aka Glow.com

I will be the first to admit that I apparently didn't read the fine print. And by fine print, I mean the print that wasn't on the frickin' order form AT ALL.

I was on our local news channel's website and there was a link to a site that said "Why shampoos don't work." Being curious, I clicked on it and was directed to a web page that went into great detail (with diagrams, illustrations and lots of technical terminology) about why standard shampoos don't work. The next page of the article suggested a hair care line by Kronos that does work because of X, Y and Z (insert more diagrams, illustrations and techie terms). There was a link on this page to try this line of product for free. All you had to pay was the $4.95 for shipping and handling.

Sweet! I can be pretty hard on my hair, at times, so I clicked on the glow.com link and took them up on their offer.

About a week later I got a box with shampoo, conditioner, a leave-in conditioner and an overnight repairing masque. I was surprised to find four bottles in the box as I thought I was only getting the shampoo and conditioner. I looked at my order form. I apparently didn't order just shampoo and conditioner. I ordered something called the Kronos Hair Transformation Kit with a member price of $98.50.

*blink*

*blink blink blink*

I read more closely:

"Start your free 30 day trial of the [blah blah blah]. If for any reason during the 30-day trial period you are dissatisfied with [blah blah blah] return the products (even if the bottles are empty). You'll NEVER be billed and you will receive NO future shipments. The shampoo and conditioner are yours to keep. If you [like our crap], you'll be billed the discounted price of $98.50 [yada yada yada] and enrolled in Beauty Lounge.

As a Beauty Lounge member, you'll receive a fresh supply every 60 days at the same 55% discount, plus S&H [which I'm learning stands for shit and hassle, not shipping and handling like you might think], and additional discounts on [the other shit we sell]. You can cancel at any time. Limit 1 [covering their ass lingo]."

Then it goes into specific details about how to go about returning your product and getting something called a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number within the thirty days. It's gotta be put on the return label on the package.

At the very top of my order form, it says exactly when my thirty-day trial ends and that I will be billed $98.50 on that day. I wasn't too worried at this point. I was surprised by this membership thing, of course, because I hadn't remembered anything about that part, but I figured, "What the hell?" I'd give their products a shot and see if I liked it.

I don't.

So before my thirty days was up, I went to the website and followed the steps verbatim on how to go about returning the products. I was asked, of course, why I was canceling and I clicked the box next to "I didn't have enough time to use all the product" or some such shit. And they offered me a two week extension on my trial. Truth be told, I had only used the shampoo and conditioner and I figured if they're gonna offer me another two weeks, I might as well give the deep conditioners a try. Honestly, I should've kicked my own ass then, but I digress. Anyway, I extended my trial and vowed to try the other stuff.

Again...not impressed. The spray-on conditioner wouldn't even come out of the bottle. Frustrated, I went in about a week later and tried to get the trial canceled. Every time I clicked on a link to cancel, I would be directed back to the log-in page.

I still didn't panic. I figured it was just a website glitch and I gave it another couple days. I tried it again. Same issue. Couple more days went by and the site is still having problems. So I clicked on the customer service link. There's a phone number, super!

I called the number and it rang twice before going to an automated message that said "We're experiencing technical difficulties, please try your call again later." It wasn't a typical telephone company message, I could tell it was the company's message. At this point, I'm starting to get a little concerned. There's $100 that's just days away from being charged on my card.

Next day, I try the website again. Same deal.
I call the number, again. Same message.
Lather.
Rinse.
Repeat. (No pun intended.)

At this point, I'm past my trial period end date and I realize I'm going to be charged $100 for shit I didn't want in the first place.

Son.
Of.
A.
BITCH!

So I decided to do a quick Google search: "Kronos complaints." Google blew up. Page after page of complaint boards popped up in my search, all of them spouting the same general messages: "Kronos isn't 'free,'" the words "scam" and "unethical business practices" jumping off the page. Realizing that I'd been had, I immediately called my CC company. Fortunately, Kronos tried to charge my card when there wasn't enough on it to approve the sale. At that point, they'd attempted it twice and it was declined. I explained the situation to my credit card company, reiterating that I'm unable to cancel this membership and this $100 transaction is going to be repeated every two months. The customer service rep immediately suggested canceling my card and reissuing a new one. I hated having to do it, but that's what I ended up doing to prevent this company from getting another dime from me. And if I thought it would do any good, I'd return their shitty products with explicit instructions on what Mike Shay, the CEO, can do with his RMA number. (I don't think it's coincidence that the initials also stand for Ram it up Mike's Ass. Jus' sayin'.)

I was fortunate, I caught it in time (sometimes poverty isn't all bad) and wasn't charged $98.50. But the problem is, for every one of me, there are hundreds not like me who were charged and are continuing to be charged. Just in Los Angeles county alone, there are 42 complaints (as of 7/17/10), yet the Better Business Bureau gives them an "high rating." Are you KIDDING me?!  How screwed up does something have to be in order to receive a BAD rating?

Needless to say, I'm on my way to file a complaint with the BBB about unethical business practices anyway, as well as write a letter to the California Attorney General's office and the advertising director for the news website I found the ad on. I think it's ridiculous that Mike Shay has been able to run a business like this for thirteen years and not get shut down.

Apparently there are two sites for the same product: glow.com and kronoshair.com. Kronos even has their own Twitter. Mike Shay runs several companies under the company name "Intelligent Beauty, LLC." (You can read more about this company's specific violations here.) I'd personally be wary of any company like this one, but obviously I'm once-bitten, twice-shy at this point in time.

As for you, I hope that whenever you order something online, you double-check the fine print and second guess yourself. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Caveat emptor, bitches.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Who the hell do I think I am?

My poor friend Kimmi has to be fed up with my texts and emails "You're never gonna believe what happened today..." She always believes what I tell her, of course, because that's what Kimmi does: she believes it's perfectly natural for me to have a conversation with a celebrity or a brush with a best-selling author. That's one of the many reasons I love her, of course.

But seriously, I'm just me and these situations, while incredibly awesome, are just not something I ever pictured happening to me. I'm just a housewife in Iowa with a big mouth and a snarky personality. I don't live in a big city. I don't attend events that would put me in contact with most of the people that I talk to on a regular basis, so I'm still back here in my little land of denial wondering how the hell I got to this point.

Then I have my besties to remind me that times, they are a-changing. Hmm. Still having a hard time wrapping my head around that concept.

But the question remains, "just who the hell do I think I am?"

Good question.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Welcome and a Warning

Hello new readers!

I'm glad you're here, but as I do with my Twitter feed, I do feel the need to warn you about me.

This blog is 100% me. I'm raw, unadulterated and blatantly honest. I will probably offend you at some point. I will make some uneducated, ignorant comment or I'll use profane language or I'll share too much personal information. You can bank on this. I vent about my family and friends...and my neighbors...and my pets...and my friends' neighbors' pets. Ex-husbands (mine and otherwise). Kids. Retail stores. Websites. Celebrities. Stupid assholes who cut me off in traffic. I put myself out there and I make no apologies for who I am.

I never intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I do know that I can sometimes do that. I have a cutting wit and sarcastic edge to me that some people just don't get. Schick ain't got nothing on my biting words some days. So if I do offend, please do one of two things: 1. Stop reading my stuff or 2. Talk to me about it.

I'm not for everybody, but if you give me a chance, I'll do my best to make you laugh - either at yourself for taking life too seriously or at me for not taking it seriously enough.

Best wishes!
Melly

Who's got the vodka?

So I made a giant step out of my comfort zone a little bit ago: I opened myself up to new subscribers/readers.

You may not see this as a big deal "She writes blogs all the time, she's writing a book, what's the big damn deal?" Right?

Well, fact of the matter is, I'm HIGHLY uncomfortable in the spotlight. I get sweaty palms, clammy skin, heart palpitations and waves of nausea when attention is focused on me. When a small group of friends listen to what I have to say, I'm fine. I can even speak in front of large groups of people, so long as I'm in control and I'm aware of who's there and what they're hearing. But when strangers start wanting to listen, I get a little freaked out. I like my privacy. I mean reaaaaaaaallllly like my privacy.

Unfortunately, I've got a big mouth which doesn't exactly coincide with my desire to fly under the radar most days. It draws me a lot of attention. Some days I do okay with that, but other days, not so much.

But if I'm going down the path that I have carved out for myself, I better get used to my shit being out there for the world to see, right? So....that being said, who's got the vodka?

Forgiveness

I've been wrestling with some issues lately that have prevented me from following my own advice of "spreading the love." It finally dawned on me that I need to let go of some things. I tend to hang onto anger and frustration far longer than I should, therefore empowering people I don't like when, after it all boils down, those people don't deserve the attention they've been given. So in a grand gesture of moving on, I'm writing out a list of wrongs that I'm forgiving people for. Some of these may be to more than one person. I think some who read it will immediately identify themselves, but if you don't, then you don't have anything to worry about because it probably means I wasn't talking to you anyway.

1. I forgive you for not reaching out to me and making efforts to have a relationship with me. I forgive you for showing your love for me through gifts rather than time spent together. I forgive you for choosing to ignore my grief during a time when I had no one else to look up to or turn to. I forgive you for still treating me like an outcast in my own family.

2. I forgive you for being manipulative and twisting my words and actions to suit your own selfish needs. I forgive you for telling my children inappropriate things about me and my personal life that has nothing to do with them. I forgive you for continually putting fun at the top of your priorities thereby teaching your children that you don't have to take responsibility when there's fun to be had.

3. I forgive you for second-guessing me as a parent from the time my children were born. I forgive you for meddling in my marriage to the point of its demise. I forgive you for continuing to prove you're not trustworthy. I forgive you for enabling my children in their desire to never have to learn responsibility.

4. I forgive you for convincing her she wasn't good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough. I forgive you for raising doubts in your children's heads about who loves them and who doesn't. I forgive you for your harassment and your constant presence in my life despite your physical absence.

5. I forgive you for not telling me her cancer was terminal. I forgive you for not stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for her care, instead pushing that responsibility onto a twelve-year-old child. I forgive you for not accepting me, flaws and all, but instead judging me and choosing to condemn me for choices I've made in my life.

6. I forgive you for not saying goodbye when you left, but rather slinking away silently like a thief in the night. I forgive you for choosing not to be a part of my life. I forgive you for what you did to our family. I forgive you for not taking more initiative to have a relationship with me and my children.

7. I forgive you for abusing her the entire time you were married to her. I forgive you for trying to drive a wedge between us so that she had no outlet but you. I forgive you for the bruises - both emotionally and physically - that you left on her. I forgive you for leaving her homeless and penniless to fend for herself.

8. I forgive you for stabbing me in the back when you didn't get what you wanted from me. I forgive you for the sneaky phone calls and letters you made, which ultimately cost me precious time with my kids I can never get back. I forgive you for continuing to act like you've done nothing wrong.

9. I forgive you for talking trash about me behind my back in order to make yourself feel & look better. I forgive your jealousy and insecurity. I forgive your scrutiny and judgment. I even forgive the hateful lies you spread about those close to me.

10. I forgive you for taking sides and choosing to keep him in your life despite having called yourself my best friend. I forgive you for the things you did and said under the guise of "for your own good." I forgive you for not understanding why I don't want to still be "friends" with you. I forgive you for your assumptions that I live by the mantra "Forgive and forget."

Which brings me to the last of my thoughts tonight. "Forgive and forget."

While I'm giving forgiveness and relieving some people from the wrongs they've done to me and those close to me, I don't forget. By forgetting, I would be opening myself up to the ability to allow you to do it again and I'm not that foolish.

That being said...just as I'm moving on, I wish that you would, too. Stop doing what you're doing. Look at the people you're hurting, ask yourself what the point is...what you hope to gain from it. Move on and if you can't, then get help so you can. Seriously.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Doin' it scared!

Shortly after Christmas, I got a card from my new friend (but long-time idol) Sherri Shepherd. She signed the card with the words, "Melanie, Write that book, girl! Sherri"

Now, at the time I got the card, the book Sherri was talking about was a yet-to-be-written book of corny one-liners I'd spewed forth on Twitter. She knew nothing of the fan fiction monstrosity I'd been working on for weeks, nor would she ever know about it, if I had my say.*

But I took Sherri's words to heart and even if I wasn't working on the story she had in mind, I was using my creativity and, to me, that was the most important thing at the time: not letting my creative juices stop flowing. I cranked out my "book" in a matter of a few months, taking time along the way to read other people's books: Janet Evanovich (yes, all fifteen books in her Stephanie Plum series), Jen Lancaster's My Fair Lazy, the entire Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer (yes, again. Don't judge me.) and even Sherri's book, Permission Slips. Evanovich made me laugh hysterically (waking my husband up many nights in a row), Lancaster helped me figure out how I wanted to get my own memoirs put together, Meyers distracted me with buff cougarbait and sparkly vampires and Sherri gave me permission for, among other things, reading other people's books instead of concentrating fully on my own writing.

Okay, actually, Sherri gave me more than that. She gave me permission to "do it scared."

And that's what I'm doing.

When I first completed my book, I made the decision not to share it publicly or go through the agonizing job of rewriting it to exclude certain characters & scenarios for the sake of publishing. My book was a "practice pancake." Its sole purpose was to soak up all the junk in the proverbial pan, ultimately preparing me for the "better pancakes" later on. I'd get my groove as a writer, figure out what worked & what didn't, play with humor and drama and learn to balance the two. And like any practice pancake, it would be tossed away when I was ready to cook the real thing.

I've changed my mind.

After having shared my book with a few people, some in the literary world, some just enthusiastic readers, I've decided that I do want to rewrite it and take the steps necessary to submit it for publishing. Of course, what you don't know is that I don't know what the hell those steps are. That's right - and I don't have the first clue what I'm doing. Guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. 

I'm not Jen Lancaster, Janet Evanovich, Stephenie Meyer or even Sherri Shepherd, but that's ok. I'm the best damn me I can be. And I think that's enough to sell some books.

I'm scared shitless that I'm going to fail, but I can't afford to let fear get the best of me. I've had a story to tell (and by "a story," I mean hundreds) since I was in 2nd grade and used to get smiley face stamps on all my creative writing assignments. I've been told for years that I'm a good writer and I believe that. It's not easy for me to admit my good points (I've spent far too many years exploiting my bad ones), but I really think I can do this.

And I'm doin' it scared. So, thanks Sherri for reminding me I don't have to know what I'm doing in order to do it well.



*Apparently I didn't have the final say, because Sherri's got a copy of the monstrosity, too. Damn, she's persuasive!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spread the love!

I'm looking at some of my recent blogs, both here and another site I write on and I'm noticing a trend that I am pretty disgusted with. Despite my intention to step away from the negative, I'm getting sucked right into it. I hate that. I've said before how hard it was for me to overcome that pessimistic nature in myself and here I am being sucked back into it.

So it stops here.

I've made some positive steps this week to clearing my conscience and doing the right thing. Others have been directly affected by that (and I thank you for that). For others of you, that clear conscience I have now may just be something you notice over time. Regardless, that's where we're headed.

I learned yesterday of the passing of yet another Blockhead at far-too-young an age. I didn't know Jamie Sutton, but as an extended part of this New Kid family, we're all affected and we all feel her loss, if for no other way than to realize that she's our age and that our certainty here on this planet isn't guaranteed.

I spent all last night and today making an effort to tell those I'm close to how much I love them and why. I'm healthy right now. I don't have cancer or heart disease, I'm not hiding some terminal diagnosis from anyone. It's just time that I stop waiting for things. People need to know how much I care about them and how much they're appreciated. When I started my love fest, it wasn't to see how many people loved me back. In fact, I was somewhat surprised when their love was returned so vocally. I did it simply because nobody needs to go through life wondering if they matter...wondering if they made an impact on someone. I was pleasantly surprised by receiving the same gift I was giving. Thank you for that.

I turned 36 last week. Yes, I said it, thirty-six. I've essentially wasted my life waiting for tomorrow. I've pushed off doing some amazing things while I wait for the planets to align or some such shit. NO MORE! It starts now.

I don't hold back my snark and sarcasm from the world, so I'm not going to hold back the positive parts of me either. I've got a heart filled with love and happiness that I plan on showing more. I've got talents and gifts that some people know nothing about. That's going to be shown, too.

What have you been putting off? Have you been procrastinating something important? Have you held back telling someone how you feel for fear of their reaction (or worse, their rejection)? STOP! Don't hold back. Not anymore. Life's too short.

Spread the love!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's a simple concept, really.

I read what I want to read, watch what I want to watch, hear what I want to hear, follow who I want to follow.

Guess what?

YOU have the same right.

If someone in your timeline is annoying you, unfollow them. Don't announce to the world you're doing it. Just do it. Seriously. This isn't rocket science, people.

And for fuck's sake, quit complaining about the haters. The more attention you give them, the longer they're going to stay.