Sunday, December 16, 2012

A bit of seriousness

When I write my blogs, I try to keep out of controversial topics, politics and religion, but in light of this week's shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, I'm stepping outside my usual realm of topics. I hope you'll humor me.

I'm not here to convince you one way or another to change your mind on gun laws. You're clearly able to make your own decisions on where you stand on those issues and I respect your rights to do so, just as I hope you'll respect mine.

What I do want you to consider, however, is that people don't need guns to commit murder.

Last October, my nephew broke into my sister's home, beat her to death with a shovel and then set her house on fire with her inside. I don't tell you this to draw your pity or sympathy; neither of those things will change the circumstances or bring my sister back. What it should tell you, though, is that a man who was trained on every imaginable weapon our military has in its possession chose one that can be found in every garage in the country. He didn't use his gun. He didn't use a rifle. He didn't use a shot gun. He used a shovel. He decided to commit murder and used the tools he had near him. Most murderers do.

In these last few days, Twitter and Facebook have been inundated with posts on one side or another regarding gun laws. That's not where I believe we should focus our attention. The murderer in Connecticut and my nephew had two things in common: mental illness. It's the only explanation for the horrific acts they committed.

We need to push our congresspeople for better options regarding mental health: more-thorough insurance coverage, a better program to help returning military servicemen and women acclimate into civilian life and laws that will make treating mental health as important as treating physical health. If someone has cancer, they pursue treating it with a vicious intent to cure it. The same should be the case with mental illness, but it's not.

As long as there are stigmas regarding mental health, people will refuse to get the help they need. We need to let them know we support them and will be there for them throughout their treatment. We need to set aside judgment and love unconditionally.

Until that happens, there will be more incidents like Sandy Hook. We have the power to stop these things before they happen, we just have to be diligent in uniting together instead of splitting politically and spending our time blaming this side or that side.

We have to stop dividing ourselves and stand together now. Our children and loved ones are counting on us.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Today's Pep Talk rings SO true!

Every day we get an email in our NaNo Mail box with a pep talk from a successful author. Today's message was from Kate Castillo. I hope she doesn't mind that I'm posting it here.
Dear Writer,
When I was 30 years old, I moved to Minneapolis and got a job in a book warehouse. My official job title was "Picker." This meant that I went around the third floor of the warehouse holding a computerized print order in one hand and pulling books off the shelf with the other hand. I put all the books into a grocery cart and I took the grocery cart and wheeled it into an ancient, crabby freight elevator and went downstairs to deliver the order to the shipping department. Then I took the stairs back up to the third floor and started over again.
It wasn't a challenging job. It didn't pay much. I was on my feet all day long. My back hurt. My hands hurt. But I was happy. I was surrounded by books and by people who loved to read them. Also, for the first time in my life, I was writing.
I got up every morning before work (the alarm was set for 4:30) and wrote two pages before I went into the warehouse. And then, when I arrived at work at 7:00 to punch the time clock, I received my daily so-you-want-to-be-a-writer pep talk from a coworker.
Let's call him Bob. (Even though his real name is Gary).
Bob wanted to be a writer, too. But he wasn't writing. Every morning we had the same exchange.
Bob: "How did the writing go?"
Me: "Fine."
Bob: "How many pages did you write?"
Me: "Two."
Bob: "Do you think Dickens wrote two pages a day?"
Me: "I don't know how many pages Dickens wrote a day."
Bob: "Yeah, well let me tell you something, you're no Dickens. So what's Plan B, babe? What's Plan B for when the writing doesn't work out?"
For this question, I had no answer.
I turned my back on Bob, pulse pounding, fists clenched, and climbed the stairs to the third floor and started picking books.
When the alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning, I thought about Bob and that is part of the reason I got out of bed.
It is a truly excellent to have someone to believe in you and your ability to write.
But I think it is just as helpful to have people who don't believe in you, people who mock you, people who doubt you, people who enrage you. Fortunately, there is never a shortage of this type of person in the world.
So as you enter this month of writing, write for yourself. Write for the story. And write, also, for all of the people who doubt you. Write for all of those people who are not brave enough to try to do this grand and wondrous thing themselves. Let them motivate you.
In other words, do it for Bob!
Your friend in writing,
Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is the author of The Tale of Despereaux (Newbery Medal), Because of Winn-Dixie (Newbery Honor), and a The Tiger Rising (National Book Award finalist). 

While I don't know what exactly was said about All This Time, I do know that it drew enough attention to wind up being mentioned on Lipst!ck A11ey (altered on purpose - like I need a search for that to bring up this blog), a gossip site about everything celebrity. The New Kids forum over there is filled with Blockhead bullies who think they're better than everybody else. I have no time for the site or the bitchy people who thrive on being there. That being said, those women did me a HUGE service: they gave my site more traffic than half the other sources did. Their nitpicking and snide remarks sent people to the story wanting to see what the fuss was about. And honey, did they ever see what it was.

So, to the haters, the bullies and the doubters, the joke's on you. Besides, I don't see any of you with fans, so I must be doing something right. Thanks for the kick in the pants and the attention you gave my "shitty little story."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNu WhaNow?

This was pretty much verbatim what my hubby said when I told him I was doing NaNoWriMo this year. It's short for National Novel Writing Month.

The concept is simple: write 50,000 words in 30 days. Don't edit. Don't rewrite. Don't waste time reworking the story. Just write. (And, if the posts at nanowrimo.com are to be believed, let everything else in your life fall to the wayside. Ha! I wish.) On average, it means writing 1,700 words a day (or more) over the course of the month. During that time, I'll also do what are referred to as "write-in's" where I meet with other authors in the area and work on my book. It's like a college study group, but without...well, come to think of it, these involve copious amounts of caffeine, too, so never mind. Anyway, during those write-in's, I'll also be setting personal goals (or have them set for me by our group leaders) which all lead to the final goal being met come November 30th.

So, over the course of the next month, I will be breaking into a realm of writing that I've never experienced before. Up til now, the stories I've written have either been fan fiction or have stemmed from fan fiction with rewritten characters and plot lines. This is totally a carpet ride for me, a'la Jasmine & Aladdin style: a whole new world.

Just days ago, I finished my second book, All This Time and, if I do say so myself, it turned out to be a success. The story has over 7,000 views in two months and I am both humbled and astonished at the life my readers breathed into it. It took about two years to write from start to finish, including a six-month sabbatical when writer's block (and faulty personal plumbing) got the best of me. That being said, having finished a book just four days before the biggest writing binge of my life wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had, but I push through like I always do.

Someday is the title of the book I'm working on for NaNo and is from a concept I came up with on a flight back from L.A. last spring. I won't give away the details until everything is completed and ready to go, but for now, trust me when I say I think you're going to like what I've got coming up next.

I will be blogging sporadically to keep myself from becoming totally absorbed in Someday but don't expect anything requiring great thought, because in true Mel-style, it would appear I can't do anything the easy way. At a doctor's appointment yesterday, I discovered that I may be going under the knife again in the next month or two. Long story short, there's lingering pain from my hysterectomy and the doctor can't figure out what's causing it. I'm not looking forward to another surgery, but if it's what's needed so be it. I guess nothing worth doing isn't without a challenge, so I'll just add it to the list of shit I will overcome, right?

I am hoping that you'll all help hold me accountable both in real life and on social networking. If you see that I haven't posted my word count for the day, ask me about it. If I'm procrastinating, then run me off and tell me to get to work. This goal is important to me, not only personally but professionally as well, so I really want to achieve it. With your help, I can.

Now, considering I've had less sleep than I did in college, I am scooting out of here. Good luck to all my other NaNuWhaNow peeps!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Understanding the impossible

I received a message tonight that the jury selection began in my nephew's trial.

For those who don't know, my nephew is on trial for the murder of his mother/my sister.

I've blogged before about how different my grief process is for Mary Lee and I'm still, a year later, trying to work my way through the emotions I'm feeling because my relationship with her was so different from the relationships I have with my other sisters. I can't explain it, mostly because I don't even understand it fully myself.

But for as much as I do understand, I know this: I want my nephew to be found innocent. I know how ridiculous that must sound to some of you. You're probably thinking "If somebody murdered my sister, I'd want them to pay for their crime." And until this happened, especially under these circumstances, I'd have been right there with you in that frame of mind.

But this did happen. 

Under these circumstances.

While I didn't have a close relationship with my sister, I know her heart like I know my own and John being imprisoned, or God forbid given a death sentence, is not what she would want for her son, regardless of what he did. She just wanted him to get the help he needs for the PTSD he suffers from. He can't get that if he's found guilty.

I know all the members of my family don't feel the way I do about this and that's okay. I don't expect them to. I can only speak for myself and how this is affecting me. I don't pretend to understand what is happening in my nephew's mind or what he was thinking the night this happened. I don't need to. 

I just need to forgive him for what happened and love him with a mother's heart, even if it is vicariously through my sister.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sticks and stones

"I know why you don't wear Guess jeans," he said with a sneer on his face.

I ignored his jabs as I tried to focus on reading my chapter for 10th grade English class. It didn't matter, though. He continued his assault.

"Cuz they don't make 'em in your size, fat ass!" He erupted in laughter along with two of his friends who now high-fived his cruel sense of humor.

Don't let them see you cry, Melanie. Never let them see you cry.

And I didn't. I saved my tears for when I got home...when the lights were off and the house was quiet. I'd perfected my crying over the years. Lard butt. Thunder thighs. Fat ass. Heifer. Fat fuck. Bread n' Rolls. Miss Piggy. I'd heard every insult ever created by adolescent boys (and even a few girls).

While I struggled with my self esteem for years (and even now, I have my moments), my mother was always quick to dismiss their claims and build me up. She helped me believe in myself and my talents. She always told me I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be. I believed her.

I was fortunate to have never been beaten up, but I was good friends with girls who were. Kids would follow her home from the bus and throw rocks at her, trip her, call her names and punch her if she didn't give them the benefit of the response. It should be no surprise that later on in life, she married an abusive man who beat and belittled her regularly.

After years of believing I wasn't good enough, smart enough or pretty enough, I still struggle with the pain of being teased in school. The old addage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is nothing but bullshit. It all hurts. All of it.

Now, I've never been one to promote violence and for many, many years, I've thought that nobody deserves to be hit. But I can't help but think that maybe if I had given that little bastard an uppercut in English class he would've left me alone.

As a parent, my biggest fear was that I wouldn't be able to build my kids self esteem enough for them to shake off the inevitable teasing that takes place in schoolyards and playgrounds. For the most part, they seem to be okay, though I know sometimes kids are meaner than they should be and my kids end up hurt as a result, but I am grateful that they've not been in any fights and there has been minimal online bullying. I know our family is one of the lucky ones, though.

I know that because every time I turned on the TV, read the newspaper or check online, there's a child who has either been bullied or they've committed suicide as a result of the former. This is absolutely inexcusable, but I don't blame the kids.

I blame the parents.

Somewhere along the lines, we've dropped the ball as role models for our kids. We've stopped being kind and we've started name-calling. We've stopped embracing differences and started pointing out flaws. I know I'm guilty of this. I'm as judgmental as anyone else and that's in the process of changing.

My mom (and I'm sure many other parents) always said "ignore them and they'll get bored and go away." I used that method all through school and even as an adult, but I'm finding out as I hear more and more about kids being bullied that I don't necessarily believe in that theory so much anymore. I say call them out.

Call those people out who are bullying. Use their names. Hold them accountable. By keeping quiet, you're silently giving them permission to treat you badly. If someone was raping you, would you just lay still until they finished? No! You'd scream and kick and scratch their eyes out. You'd fight for your life. This is no different. Kids are DYING!

This has to stop. Start scratching some eyes out because those words? They hurt as much as the sticks and stones do.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

They're good eggs

Those kids of mine? They're good eggs.

They're typical teenagers, of course - mouthy at times, argumentative, manipulative, too. But when push comes to shove, they're really pretty damn awesome.

Midget and I sat in a therapist's office yesterday to see if we can get to the bottom of her school-issues. She was tested years ago for ADHD and it came back negative, yet nobody could give us answers as to why she wasn't able to keep up in school or what we could do to help her focus better. We've ridden her hard about being more organized and getting things turned in on time. She's been grounded for the better part of five years because we were at a loss as to what else to do. We now have answers: She is, in fact, positive for ADD. She has no hyperactivity, but there's definite attention issues. We finally have answers! Now, we can move forward from here. That issue aside, I was most pleased with the counselor's analysis that she's a funny kid with a kind heart. She's got a good sense of humor and the therapist said that our bond is a strong one and a lot of moms and teens don't have that. I'm grateful. The other stuff we can work through, but given the problems my kids could have, I'll definitely take this. 

Big Man and I also have a good relationship. He, too, is hilarious and other than his potty mouth (can't fathom where he gets that from. Oops!), there's not too much I can think of that I don't like about him. Above all else, he just gets me. With Midget and even Hubs, I usually have to tell them what I need from them, but not Big Man. He just knows. I can mention something once and the kid is usually on top of it. And if he forgets, he's always quick to apologize and fix it. He's always been someone too old for his age, but as he's creeping up on 18 (holy crap!), that is a trait in him that I'm thankful for. Some days he's still a little bit buoyant in a vast ocean of aspirations - unsure of where he wants to go, but overall, he's got a good head on his shoulders and is wise beyond his years. He has no problem stating his opinion (again, can't figure out where that comes from - hehe) and doesn't hesitate to hold people accountable for their actions or let them know that he's bothered by what they've done or said.

When I look around me at what other parents are going through - teen pregnancy, drug use, alcohol abuse, delinquency, truancy, etc, I am so thankful for the morals my kids have. I can take only partial credit for it because a lot of their decisions are based on things they themselves have decided to do (or, mostly in their cases, not do), but it's a success I will happily take as their mom.

I love you, kids. Keep being awesome!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Perspective

I have a big issue with trust. Trusting strangers. Trusting friends. Trusting family. Trusting God. Mostly, though, I have trouble trusting myself. I find myself second-guessing decisions I make or avoiding making them altogether because I fear that I'll make the wrong choice and the consequences will be unpleasant (at best) or more than I can handle (at worst).

These decisions I have trouble making can be as minute as deciding what to pack for a weekend road trip or as serious as whether or not to have a hysterectomy. I always get a second opinion (sometimes a third, fourth or fifth) and weigh everyone's opinions with my own. It makes me crazy that I can't make simple decisions without consulting a panel of friends first. I know it comes down to my fear of what people think of me and the decisions I make. That's something I work on daily: not giving a damn what other people think.

One of these decisions happened in May. The morning of my surgery, actually. Without consulting my best friend or my husband, I stepped out in fear and "unfriended" someone I've known for over twenty years. I use "unfriended" in quotation marks because I tend to think that the decision to do so was made months before that morning. And the decision wasn't made by me. There had been no communication between us since the first part of the year and even then, it was tense and uncomfortable, at best. 

For the last four months, I've been second-guessing myself and my decision to walk away. Had things really been that bad? That tense? That uncomfortable? Could I forgive her for not checking on me during my health scares back in the spring? Was I willing to overlook how intimidated I felt when I was around her? Should I go back to reverting to being a "beta dog" to her alpha whenever we spent time together? 

In short, no.

Last night I found out that in addition to the lies she told me, I learned that she also kept secrets from me. That's not friendship. That's deceit. Friends don't keep secrets from one another. They check up on you when you have surgery. They encourage you, not break you apart.

And in case there was any doubt, I'm no beta dog. I'm 100% Alpha.

I'm done second-guessing myself. I made the right decision in May. I made the right decision and in doing so, I'm starting to trust myself a little more. And if cutting those ties is what brought me to this point, then there's no doubt whatsoever that I made the right choice.

It's amazing what a little different perspective can do for you.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

OUBad burger?

Not this month.

Most of you don't have the first clue what I'm talking about. Let me fill you in.

Earlier this month, Wahlburger's (Hingham, MA) sponsored a burger contest for their restaurant. Winner would get their burger on the menu for a month, some signed Wahlburger's merchandise and, of course, bragging rights.


I submitted one recipe: A stuffed chili dog burger topped with yummy (and spicy) toppings. It is reminiscent of the Juicy Lucy I've heard about where the toppings are on the INSIDE of the burger. It calls for a hot dog, chopped up and mixed with chili and cheese sealed inside two quarter-pound patties. It's topped with sauerkraut, onions, Sriracha and spicy mustard. It's freakin' PERFECTION. (And, from a restauranteur's standpoint, all the items are currently on the menu at Wahlburger's, so it was totally price-conscious, too.)

Someone else won the contest this month with a chicken burger, but much to my surprise, my burger made top ten!

TOP FRIGGIN' TEN!

I'm over the moon right now! I have faith it'll eventually end up on the menu, but for now, I'm taking those top-ten bragging rights and strutting like a rooster right now. SO stoked!

Here's the article for those who care to read it.


Friday, August 31, 2012

It's never enough.

My ex-husband used to tell me I was never content with what I had, that I always wanted more, that it was never enough.

At the time I argued with him, but now, almost two decades later, I can see he was right. (He's gonna love hearing that.)

Here's the thing.

When you grow up in a world filled with constant chaos, the thing you long for more than anything else is stability. The problem I struggled with inside my twenty-something mind, was assuming that stability meant boredom and monotony. Why would I think that? Why would I link those things with stability? Well, because that's what he convinced me. What his family convinced me...that a woman who had children couldn't have her own life, couldn't be her own person, couldn't have interests of her own that weren't directly related to her family. God forbid she pursue things that took her away from her children or husband.

I still deal with these closed-minded views from my ex-mother-in-law. My travel, my hobbies, my interests, even my taste in music is questioned and, at times, has made me wonder if I was doing something wrong.

I'm not, of course, but for the briefest moment, I contemplated it. For a split-second, I doubted that what I was doing wasn't what was best for me or my family. I hate that I second-guessed myself. I hate that I let someone who doesn't know me influence what I do. It wasn't until the next moment that I realized I just didn't give a shit anymore.

The truth is what I have is not enough. It never will be. And I'm happy that it won't be. Because for as long as I don't have everything I want, I will actively pursue it. I will travel and I will work hard for what I want. I will fight for it. I'll ignore failure. I'll brush the dust off my knees when I fall and get back up again. I will ask for what I want. I will expect it. I will never be content with what I have.

I was once taught that was a bad thing...that my children would grow up spoiled and ungrateful ("just like their mother," says the old voice in my head from Ghosts of Marriage past). But here's the thing, if I roll over and accept my lot in life, I'm teaching my children that it's okay to settle for less than what they deserve.

And that is not okay.

By constantly chasing my dreams, I'm teaching my children to do the same. My teenaged children are coming to that point in their lives where they're trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Some of their dreams are lofty and some aren't. But the point is, I've taught them to dream. I've taught them that nothing is impossible if you want it badly enough and are willing to work at it. My kids won't settle into a life they don't want because I've taught them not to.

They've learned through me that if one path doesn't work out, they're not stuck...that there is always another path if they look around. The other day, my son and I were talking about what he wants to do when he graduates and I told him it's okay if he doesn't know what he wants yet...that I'm thirty-eight and I am just now figuring it out. Just because I'm his mom doesn't mean I have to act like I've got my shit together when I don't. I think it's important for my kids to know we're constantly growing and learning. It makes them feel safer in making mistakes when they know I've made some, too.

While stability is important in a child's life, so is dreaming. I'd much rather my kids flit from job to job while pursuing what makes them happy than be stuck in a job they hate just for the sake of "stability."

As long as I have breath left in my chest, I won't settle for "enough." If that disappoints some of you, I feel sorry for you. Happy beats content any day. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why I adore Midnight R≡d


(Midnight Red serenading a little girl with an a capella version of "Boyfriend"
at the Mall of America - Aug 18th, 2012.)


It's no secret to anyone in my Twitter or Facebook timelines how much I love Midnight Red. Unfortunately, many of you are under the wrong impressions as to why, so I want to clear things up.

I joke about being a cougar, but the fact is, I'm not. These guys are young enough to be my children. There's absolutely nothing sexual there for me when it comes to them. They're adorable and they've got great moves, but that's where it stops. For me, it's about their music.

When they opened up for New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys last summer, it was all over for me. Some friends of mine got to see them at their very first opener in Vegas and told me to check them out on YouTube, so I did. And I saw something in them that I hadn't seen in 20+ years: passion for music.

I immediately started following them on Twitter (@ItsMidnightRed) and began conversing with members of the group (@ThomasAugusto, @JoeyDiggs, @AnthonyLadeo, @EricSecharia & @ColtonRudloff).

When we drove to Kansas City to see them, we didn't get the chance to meet (although, it wasn't without effort on my part - ahem, FOUR pans of homemade cinnamon rolls went missing - care to explain, Rob Lewis? ;) ), but the first song they sang caught my attention and I was done. I've always been a lover of good music, especially that which gets me moving because I love to dance. Midnight Red did that. Songs like "One Club at a Time" and "Rockstar Lover" were catchy and I found myself singing their music in the car on the way home. (Ask my bestie, she'll tell you!)

Later in the summer, I drove to Columbus and Indianapolis, too. Finally, in Indy, I ran into Anthony and Joey at the mall downtown and got to spend some time talking with them. And they're awesome. Very sweet, super respectful and I could tell instantly how humble they were about the opportunity to open up for the two biggest boy bands to ever hit the stage. They were generous and posed for pictures with me and I cemented my fandom that day.

My bestie and I drove to Minneapolis last weekend when Midnight Red was performing at the Mall of America. That's right, we drove eight hours round trip for a 45 minute show and meet-and-greet with them. And they were worth every minute.


Keep in mind, I haven't spoken with any of them since last summer (except via Twitter), but each one of them recognized me and were excited to see me there. Hugs, high-fives and kisses abounded. Thomas even broke the rules and posed for a picture with me (Thanks, Tommy!). Joey refers to me as "CinnaBun" (Again, with the cinnamon rolls, Rob Lewis?!) and he immediately remembered where he and Anthony met me for the first time.

It's things like that that determine the greatness of a band. You can have amazing music and super stage presence, but if you don't interact with your fans, you've got nothing. These guys do all of that and more.

There are artists out there today who have been given opportunities left and right or have practically landed in the right hands right from the beginning. They don't understand what it means to walk the walk or talk the talk. They don't know what hard work is. They act entitled or, at the very least, act like everybody will love them because they're hot.

The guys of Midnight Red aren't those artists. They filling clubs, they're connecting with fans, they're busting their asses and they're not afraid of hard work to get them where they want to be. They're talented, both individually and as a group and they're going to be big...soon.

To me? They're big now. I'm not some sixteen-year-old-girl who wants to do bad things with them (I'm more like the hot older sister, yeah?), but I do support them and I keep them and their music close to my heart always because I recognize their passion for music.

On September 21st, they headline their very first show in New York City at the Gramercy Theater. Tickets go on sale this Friday (only $12 or $30 VIP -incl tix, early entry, M&G and poster). Do yourself a favor and go see them. They're worth it!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You really wonder?

I try not to make my blogs about highly-debatable topics because my goal is to keep this page fun, or at least entertaining. But here's the thing. Life isn't always fun and entertaining. Sometimes life is hard work.

Take parenting for instance.

I'm the mother of two teenaged kids, a seventeen-year-old son and a fifteen-year-old daughter. I love my kids and I've spent my life being a strict parent because of it. I want them to learn the value of honesty, commitment and kindness. I've always believed in treating kids like young people instead of like babies. I didn't baby-talk to my kids and I absolutely abhor those who do. We have had fun and have spent our lives laughing and enjoying what this world has to offer (something I also think is important when it comes to raising kids). I've also instilled a strong sense of responsibility in my kids.

My children have had chores since they were five-years-old: setting the table, picking up their toys...vacuuming a carpet, making a bed...learning how to do laundry, wash dishes and make dinner. I don't put the majority of household chores on them, but they do have responsibilities because I want them to understand the importance of following through with those things when they're adults.

I've also been extremely pro-active when it comes to teaching my children about sex and the responsibilities and consequences of having it. We have an open-door policy at our house and no topic is off-limits, but especially when it comes to sex. I am not naive enough to think that my kids will wait until marriage. We have talked frankly and openly about sex since they first learned about periods and wet-dreams in elementary school. I don't make it a taboo topic at our house. I'm not afraid of buying my children condoms because I believe they should be educated and prepared for whatever situations may run into.

"Oh my God! You buy your kids condoms?"

Yes, I'm that mom and if my TV Guide is to be believed, it looks like I'm the only one.

I'm sick and tired of networks like TLC and MTV giving attention to pregnant teens. When I was growing up, our teen heroes were Doogie Howser and Alex P. Keaton. Girls who got pregnant while still in high school got whispered about behind their backs, not asked for their autographs. Who do our kids have these days to look up to? Jenelle Evans and Jennifer Del Rio.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Do we really wonder why our kids have such a sense of entitlement? C'mon! There are girls who are purposely getting pregnant JUST so they can get on MTV! They're being REWARDED for being IRRESPONSIBLE! The parents may act outraged, but here's the thing - their kids are doing this because they lack the knowledge, motivation and self-respect to not do it.

Parents need to spend less time buying their kids things (like smart phones and Flip cams) and more time teaching them things (like how to prevent pregnancy and disease). Or how to write a killer essay so they get into a good college. Or how to balance a checkbook. Or how to ace a job interview.

When are we going to stop rewarding bad behavior and start rewarding good behavior? I'd much rather see a reality show about the hard work Shawn Johnson put into her gymnastics career than who Jordynellifer got knocked up by this season. Give my kids someone to look up to rather than someone who is too lazy/stupid to unroll a condom before she bangs her boyfriend in her parents' basement.

Think about it. Why would our daughters want to go through the hard work of getting a Bachelor's degree when they can just skip their dose of Ortho-TriCyclen and pocket $60k a year?

We, as parents, have to put our foot down.

And while I'm on the subject of reality tv -- Honey Boo Boo? Fucking really?


**DISCLAIMER**
I was one of those "someones" who was too stupid/lazy to unroll the condom before I banged my boyfriend in my parents' basement. I was that kid whose parents didn't have the right conversations with her. I was that kid who sought attention for the wrong reasons. I was that girl who could've fucked up the next eighteen years of two lives had things worked out differently. However, I had the good sense not to flaunt my mistakes on cable TV or let my indiscretions define me in tabloid magazines, which is why you're reading this as a disclaimer on a small potatoes blog instead of the front cover of People magazine.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back in the Saddle

New computer updated? Check.
Old files transferred? Check.
iTunes reloaded? Check.
iPod synced without losing anything? Check.
Microsoft Office repurchased? Check.
Old HD turned into a new external one? Check.
Significant chaos overcome without resorting to a bottle? Check.

I'd call that a success, kids.

In the grand scheme, it was a fairly smooth transition. I probably lost a few songs here or there. And I did have a brief freak-out when I couldn't find my manuscript with my newest edits on it. But with a little sleuthing, the file was found and all's right with the world again.

Back to work!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Licking my wounds

I'm currently transferring retrieved files from my old HD onto the new computer. It's been an exercise in patience, that's for sure. While there's really no good time for a computer to crash, there certainly could've been a worse time. I'll lick my wounds and bounce back like I have before.

I, as far as I can tell, didn't lose anything on the old hard drive, not even my bookmarks. I'm sure iTunes is a nightmare with the 15G of music I have, but I'll worry about that later. It's all there and that's what matters. The only exception is that I don't have a copy of Microsoft Office anymore. Hubs' company allows ONE license for home use and even if that computer dies the day after it's installed, they will not allow you a second license. It's bullshit and we're fighting it (or rather, the IT person is battling it out with Microsoft), but for now, I'm stuck with one of those free Office programs to write.

I originally called my son to see if he could help me with my computer issues, but as it turns out, his dad did the majority of the work. I have plenty of opinions about my ex, but the truth is, he's a good man when he wants to be. I'm thankful that he doesn't let me down when I need him. We have our moments, don't get me wrong, but there haven't been too many times when I've said "Can you please help me?" that he's said, "no."

It's been an anxiety-filled couple of days, but I keep truckin'. It's what I do.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Not enough vodka in the world...

My computer died today.


Thankfully, she went quickly and peacefully in her sleep. She didn't suff....well, she mostly didn't suffer. She got broken last year on my cruise (Thanks a lot, Carnival!), but it was my own fault for trusting those morons with my precious electronics. She's been limping along ever since. A few months back, the power button stopped working. I got worried at first because I didn't know how I was going to hard reset my computer when I needed to, but I learned (by accident) that closing the lid and reopening it would work.

Unfortunately, when she got broken on the cruise, it was the lid that broke. Right by the power switch. And so I've been babying her along praying she didn't die, gingerly closing her and gently opening her back up. Hubby told me I could have his laptop since he can use his work laptop for personal use, but that his doesn't have MS Word and as a writer, that's pretty much a must for me. Hence the reason I've been babying Big Red for so long. The thought of buying a $150 program didn't appeal much to me.

Well that and I don't like change.

I would've liked a slow transition. Backing up bookmarks on a dozen different flash and hard drives. Printed them out. Sent them to myself. Same with iTunes playlists and all that.

I am fortunate, though, the hard drive wasn't fried, so my son and his father were able to get the files off the HD and transfer them to my external drive so I can put them on the new computer. I'm hoping my bookmarks and playlists will transfer too. If not, I suppose it's not the end of the world, but I cringe at the research that I have in those bookmarks. I'll probably never get them all back if I need them.

Really, in the grand scheme of things I didn't lose much (I don't think) except the license for Word and a few days of work that I can't get back, but there for a minute, there wasn't enough vodka in the world to calm my nerves.

So let this serve as a reminder to do a backup ALL THE TIME. Online versions are best (DropBox, Backblaze, etc) because they automatically sync without you having to remember anything, but at the very least invest in a $40 portable HD so you can back up your photos, docs, music and videos. I promise you won't regret it.

Now, if anybody needs me, I'll be over in the corner rocking back and forth until I get back to where I was a few days ago.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What a crazy month!

I've been sitting here for a month trying to get out of the muck and write something funny. Much to my disappointment, however, I'm struggling. So, instead of being absent, I figured I'd just be me - exactly where I'm at right now at this stage of the game.

Sorry it's not more humorous, but for now, this'll have to do.

1) Summer break is almost over for the kids. Since both kids have had jobs all summer, I haven't seen them as often as I'd like, nor have they been gone as much as I've needed a break. Midget did leave her job today, though, so the next four weeks before school starts should be much quieter. I think she's talking about going to visit her dad, but she's wanting to do some things together in the meantime. I told her to figure it out and we'd do it. Big Man has interviewed for a second job (he's got his eyes on a truck, I think) and I've pretty much accepted he's too busy to get our usual two-week visit in. I miss him, but I admire his tenacity.

2) The book I wrote in 2010, Distance and Time has finally drummed up some interest. I pitched the idea to an agent earlier this month and after much nail-biting, I finally received a response. She said there's some good potential and gave me almost two pages of notes of things I did well and things that need work. This is the first professional critique I've been given, so needless to say, I'm encouraged. In talking with an author friend of mine, she said she, too, would feel this is a good sign. Typically agents don't take the time to critique something they don't want to work with. I won't count chickens, of course, but it's good to see all my writing has not been in vain.

3) Speaking of work, there have been some not-so-great adjustments around the house as I've turned this writing thing into a "job." I shouldn't use quotation marks because for all intents and purposes, writing is a real job, however, convincing my family of that has been another story. Now that an agent has taken interest, I've become even more focused on editing and writing than I was before, which has been good and bad. Good because my family can see the time and energy I'm putting into my work. Bad because my family can see the time and energy I'm putting into my work, which consequently means less time and energy I'm spending taking care of them. That's not to say, of course, that they're being neglected - trust me, with the miles I've put on the car in the last month playing taxi and the money I've spent at the grocery store, nobody's being neglected around here. It just means that time I used to spend watching movies with them or even the chores they didn't feel like doing isn't being spent doing those things anymore. I'm told there are adjustment periods with everything, but this one has sucked. I go through the struggle of feeling selfish about this, but then I counter it with the knowledge that I have to be selfish about my time spent "at work" if I want to be successful. Hubs has come around to understand the importance of balance and I'm sure the kids will too, but in the meantime, there's a lot of grumbling and arguing at my house.

4) To help me figure out how to balance my responsibilities a little better, I started seeing a therapist. I wasn't going to divulge that fact because there's so much stigma attached to it, but I guess if I want less stigma, I have to stop treating it like it's a secret. I don't expect some miraculous break-throughs that will define who I am or what I should do with my life - I pretty much already know the answers to those questions - it just means that I can bounce my thoughts off a neutral third party who can help by giving me the insight I need sometimes. So far, so good.

5) As a result of my therapy, I've determined...well, not really determined as much as re-determined (I've said it a hundred times before) that I can't have negative influences around me. I've got a terrible habit of soaking up that negativity like a sponge. And like with most wet sponges, it starts to reek after a while. This sponge had been smelling pretty rotten for quite a while, to the point that I couldn't even stand being around myself. I've been bitchy, catty, sharp-tongued and downright mean for quite a while and I realized that a lot of that was due to what I was surrounding myself with. I've been quietly pulling away from people who questioned my motives, decisions and beliefs. I've always prided myself on the fact that I'm there for those I care about and that part of me won't ever change. But what I won't do any longer is be there for those I care about who can't or won't be there for me. So I've cut some ties there. It wasn't pleasant and I'm sure there are people who have some pretty ripe things to say about me. That's their issue. Not mine. I'm doing what I have to do. I've also learned that it's okay to say "No," when somebody asks if I'm okay. And I've started doing that. It's not as easy as it looks. I'm also learning that when I close a door to a negative influence that I have to stop opening it back up the second someone knocks. Closure isn't my strong suit, but it needs to be.

6) Physically, I'm feeling great. Tired a lot, still, but I think that's as much of an emotional thing as a physical one. I'm starting to do yoga at home to improve my flexibility and help my body get back to where I was in 2009 when I lost so much weight (so I can do it again). I felt better then and I want to get back to that place. But, since I'm a stress eater and I can't seem to give up the Coke, that will be a slow process until my priorities shift a little. Doesn't mean I won't get there. Just means I can't do it all right this second. That's something I'm also working on: giving up my intense need to have everything I want the second I want it. This should've been a no-brainer and it probably has been, but this is the first time I've really put it into words.

7) I stepped out of my comfort zone and began posting a fan fiction story online that I began writing a while back. It's not Pulitzer prize winning material, but it's been fun and my readers seem to be enjoying it, so I'm happy with my choice. It's not for everybody, but it's something I've enjoyed doing so I figured I'd share it. If you haven't read it yet and would like to, please let me know and I will add you to the subscription list. I post a new chapter every few days (although that may slow with the current pull I have on "Distance and Time," but I am still working on both stories.

I'm stretching my wings each day, flapping them a bit harder as I go. I will eventually soar with the rest of the eagles, but right now I'm comfortable with these baby steps.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I don't have the time for this!

I can't tell you how many times I've said this in my lifetime, but I can assure you, it's been a LOT.

But the fact of the matter is, I'm no busier than anyone else. In fact, in most instances, I'm less busy. So why do I say it?

Easy. Because I don't want to take the time to deal with whatever "this" is. It's not a priority for me. I don't care about it. I don't think it's important. I don't have the patience to do it.

And the same goes for you when you tell me you're "just so busy." 

Don't get me wrong, I know you have days that are full with work, family and errands that have to get done. You may have "extra-curriculars," too: hobbies that take up your time. Or maybe the kids are involved with sports or hobbies or lessons or whatever. I get that. I also acknowledge that I don't have a job I leave the house to do. My kids both work, but overall, I'm not bound by the practice and recital schedules that bog down many other people's daily lives. My family is also quite lenient with the time I may spend away from them doing my own thing.

But what that means is that I'm pretty much available whenever you can pull away. The point is that you don't pull away. Pulling away for a movie, or a road trip, or reading a blog, or catching up on the phone...doesn't happen for you. And I'm left feeling that I don't matter. That I'm not a priority. That in your infinite to-do list I'm somewhere past cleaning toilets, shampooing the dog or relining your kitchen cupboards with contact paper. And if I'm there, so are your other friends. And we all are feeling left out.

I'm making a conscious effort this week to practice what I preach by reaching out to others. Catching up with friends, if not by phone then through email, text or facebook. Instead of waiting for my neighbor to come pick up the shirt I borrowed, I'm going to take it to her. I'm done being passive in my friendships and I hope you are, too.

Make the time for this.

It's more important than you think.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A little secret

It's not often that I let down my walls, so if you're listening...listen closely. I'm going to share something I don't let many people know. Typically because I suspect it'll be used against me later.

I'm not as strong as I look.

In fact, that whole bad ass thing I put out? It's total bullshit.

I'm weak. And I'm tired. And I don't have the thick skin I pretend to have.

When I act like I don't need help, that is when I need it the most.

But I suck at asking for it. Why? Because when I do, it's a rare person who is actually there to give it. Doesn't matter if I've been that support for them. Doesn't matter if I've set my own needs aside for what they've got going on. Doesn't matter if I don't know how to help them. Fact of the matter is, I'm still there whether it's to offer advice, a helping hand, a different perspective or simply a listening ear.

I'm frustrated right now because of my health situation. Angry. Frustrated. And exhausted from fighting.

And who's here?

Almost nobody who told me they would be.

I can't tell you how many people have said "Oh, I can come up the week after your surgery to do _____," or "I'll be up next week to help you get _______," and "If you need me to ______, lemme know. I'm here for you." You know who's actually done that for me? Two people. And that was the week I got home from the hospital.

Sadly, I've been helped more by people who I haven't talked to for months than people right here in my own circle. It's disappointing to say the least.

I'm disengaging from social media for a while. I'm backing away from the obligations I signed up for. I've given all I can. I have to concentrate on me and reevaluate what I need right now and the glaringly obvious thing I need is less talk from people who really don't give a shit what happens to me.

If you care, call me. If not, well....shrugging...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Officer

Dear Officer,
I'm sorry I acted like a total chick tonight when you pulled me over. I'm sorry for the tears and the crazy eyes I'm sure I exhibited. I'm also sorry I inadvertently made you feel like an ass. It wasn't my intention. Any other day, I'd have found you funny and perhaps even charming. You just caught me on a really bad day at the end of a really bad week. Please don't let this incident damper your usual sense of humor and desire to have fun with your job. I'm sure almost everybody else appreciates it.

Sincerely,
The sobbing hormone case on Parker Blvd.

Now, a little back story for the rest of you.

Let me preface this with a few facts.
1. I never cry in front of cops, much less to get out of a ticket. I figure if he's pulled me over, it's because I deserve the ticket and I take my lumps. For every speeding ticket I've gotten, there have been a least two hundred times I haven't been caught. I suck it up, I take my ticket and I thank the dude for doing his job.

2. I also have always despised this particular town since I was a new teenage driver over 20 years ago because the cops there are reputed to be assholes. They've been known to pull you over for going under the speed limit because it's a tiny town and all they have to do is fuck with non-residents. I try to avoid it at all costs, but tonight I just wanted to get home, so I went straight through it. Like an idiot.

So, the other day I realized that I have a burned out headlight on the car. Unfortunately, I realized it at 10pm on Thursday and was leaving for Chicago bright and early Friday morning and didn't have the time to fix it. I knew we wouldn't be driving much at night in Chi, so I didn't worry about it and figured I'd get it fixed first thing Monday. No big deal.

Tonight, when Cheese and I got back from Chicago, I dropped her off and went to pick up Big Man for his birthday dinner and our movie date. We spent several hours together hanging out and having a good time and I dropped him off then headed for home.

Now, between his house and mine, there's just one little town.

That little town. And as I drove by the one road that could bypass it (and take me through a different little town, much less populated by cops), I thought to myself, "Shit, I should've turned there. Oh well. I'll be okay."

I eased into town and turned left on the south edge, hoping to skirt around the perimeter and not penetrate the town square where the cops usually set up shop. I went about a half mile and turned onto the next street (just one more to go!) when I saw headlights come flying up behind me. Sure enough, I looked in my mirror and caught a side view of the car as it turned the corner behind me.

Shit.

My speed was fine (again...no stranger to this little donut hole of a town) and I drove the limit as I waited for him to run my plates. A minute later, he popped the cherries on and I pulled over. While he was getting out of the car, I pulled my license out and opened the glove box to get my registration and proof of insurance.

I can't find it.

No, seriously. I can't freaking find it. Now, in the state of Iowa (as it is with most states), it's a big deal not to have proof of insurance. Like $500 worth of big deals. (Ask me how I know.)

I hear his car door shut and see the flashlight in my mirror and know that having a driver digging around in their car can scare a cop, I stop and wait for him to come up. I hand him my license and he's nice as can be. 

Cop: Hi, ma'am. How are you tonight? Did you realize you have a headlight out? That's why I pulled you over.

Me: Yes. I'm sorry. I realized it when I was out of town and I'm just arriving home after being gone all weekend. 

Cop: It's okay. It happens. I just need your registration and proof of insurance.

Me: Yeaaaaah. (as I look at the pile of crap I've pulled from the glove box) I don't know where my registration's at. It's usually in the glove box, but all I can find are my car repair receipts (apparently, every single one for everything that's ever been done to this damn jalopy).

Cop: Okay, no problem. It's not as important as your proof of insurance.

Me: *sadly* It's with the registration. We keep them together.

Cop: Okay, well, you keep looking for it while I go run your license real quick. If you find it, just hold it out the window, okay? *sparkling smile* (Hey, I was stressed, not totally blind.)

He retreats to his car and I continue looking for my registration. Did you know we had the wheel bearings replaced in our car in 2008? Huh. I'd certainly forgotten. Oh and the oil change I just did? Well, I've got the receipt from that tail light they replaced, too. OOH! Registration! YES! *happy dance* 

I pull out the registration. And the insurance card.

From 2009. 

At this point, I realize I'm going to have 500 new reasons to hate this little town. Given the week I've had, it's safe to say this is where I come to the end of my rope and the tears I've been fighting all weekend start to bubble up. Using one of the McDonald's napkins I unearthed from the glove box, I start wiping my eyes. I prayed that even if he did give me the ticket that he wouldn't impound the car. They've been known to do that, after all. And I didn't know how I was going to wake my husband up to come get me because he turns his phone off when he goes to bed. I try not to panic as I wait for the cop to return to the car.

When he does, he sees me holding my registration.

Cop: Ahh, found it?

Me: Just the registration. I still can't find my insurance card. It's usually with my registration and I don't know what happened to it.

Cop: Hmm. That's not so good. I'm afraid we're going to have to impound the car and take you to jail.

Me: *in a high-pitched shrieky voice, all one word* OHMYGODAREYOUSERIOUS?!

Cop: Actually, I'm quite...*his smile spreads from ear to ear* ...not serious.

Me: *exploding into tears* 

Cop: Oh, ma'am! I'm so sorry! I was only joking. I'm sorry! 

Me: *still crying* *sob* You..*hic* have no *sob* idea how *sob* UNFUNNYTHATWAAAAAAAS! *sobbing*

Cop: I am SO very sorry, ma'am. It's just a warning. I swear. And I'm only giving you that much because we have to document all stops.

Me: *nodding and sniffling and completely mortified at this point, because again...I don't pull the girl card when it comes to traffic stops* 

Cop: I just need you to sign it here. *hands me the book*

Me: *nodding more as I sign it*

Cop: *tearing it off and handing it to me* This is pretty much just a souvenir at this point. You don't have to do anything with it.

Me: *sniffling* I'm sorry. I swear, I'm not one of those girls who cries to get out of a ticket. It's just been a reaaaaaaaaaally baaaad week. 

Cop: Again, ma'am. I'm so sorry. Usually, whenever I say that people know I'm joking.

Me: *trying to chuckle so he doesn't think I'm a complete lunatic* I'm sure if it were any other week I'd have found it hilarious. I've got a great sense of humor usually.

Cop: I can't apologize enough. Is there anything I can do for you? Do you have any questions?

Me: No. I mean, I just wanna get home. Am I okay to do that?

Cop: Yeah. You'll be fine. Just drive carefully, okay?

Me: Okay.

Cop: Again, I'm really sorry if I made your night worse.

Me: No. It's okay. Besides, this'll make really great blog fodder for later, when I've stopped crying. 

Cop: *chuckles because I don't think he realizes I was serious* Okay. Well, drive safely, ma'am.



Can I just tell you how very disgusted I am by my own lack of a sense of humor? Normally, I'd have fired back some flirty "Frisk me gently" come-back and we'd have both had a good chuckle and I've have been on my way. This only goes to show how very little funny I have left in me right now. I'm sure a month from now, this story will be fucking hilarious. Right now? It's just the cherry on my shit sundae.

Lessons learned: ALWAYS print off an extra insurance card before you leave town. ALWAYS go directly to a car repair shop and buy a new headlight the second you find yours is burned out. And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take the road that bypasses Cop City.

P.S. Thank you, Officer for not giving me 500 new reasons to hate your little town, which is otherwise lovely.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Everything happens for a reason

I've always been a firm believer in this motto.

I don't always expect to know what the reasons are, but I do believe everything that happens to us happens for a very specific reason.

In early January, I blogged about how the timing in moving to New York wasn't working out. I talked about it didn't mean I wouldn't get out there eventually, but that for now, the moment had passed me by. At the time, while I didn't know why it wasn't working out, I did decide to focus my energy on what I could do to get there.

Now, as I look a second surgery in the face in the coming weeks, I realize that I wasn't meant to be in New York right now because if I were, I'd be facing this alone. My husband and kids would be back here, as we'd planned to be "bi-coastal" for a while. My best friend, my family (immediate and extended) and other friends would all still be here in Iowa and I would be virtually alone in a new place where no one could help me recover from major surgery. I'd have friends in the city, of course, but nobody that didn't have work or family responsibilities and certainly no one to take care of me around the clock like I'll need that first week after my operation. 

God also seemed to know what He was doing when a job offer fell through for my bestie a few months ago. If she'd gotten that job, she wouldn't be able to help me get through this either. My husband and kids can help me in the evenings, of course, but during the day I would be alone without AM. Of course, it doesn't help her pocketbook to be unemployed right now, but I am so grateful to know she's available when I need her.

I try very hard not to question the "Why's" of things, though I know I sometimes do. I'm starting to realize if I just wait a little bit, God will reveal Himself to me little by little and things begin making sense.

If only I had that patience in other aspects of my life!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

You don't like it? Change it!

Being as involved as I am with social networking, my timeline is frequently bombarded with people complaining about their lives.

I'm not talking the occasional bad day or crappy situation that has them down - it's a given that we've all been there. I'm talking about the constant "My life SUCKS!" "My family SUCKS!" "This job SUCKS!" "YOU can SUCK it!" attitude.

First off, let me make the disclaimer that I am, in no way, shape or form, trying to tell you that you can't complain about your life or vent about something shitty that happened. If that's what helps you feel better about it, then bitch away. Bitch all day, every day if it helps. But don't expect me to listen to it. You have the right to say what you want to say, but I also have the right not to listen to it. And I won't. If I unfollow you, it's not because I'm trying to control what you say, it's because I don't give a shit about hearing it. Again. Furthermore, if you think I'm bitching too much, I fully expect you to tune me out. I try not to be that person, but I'm realistic enough to know that there are times when I can be too much.

The majority of my cynicism, however, is for the purpose of being funny. To make people look at what I say and think "Huh. My life isn't so bad after all." Because honestly, kids? My life is fucking amazing. I have stupid shit that brings me down, but over all, I'm a happy girl who's been blessed with some incredible opportunities and I cherish those things. So when you see me say things like "Oh good, a Kardashian is here today," it's not because I'm upset about it. It's to set the foundation for material to joke about for weeks to come.

That's not the intention of the people I'm talking about today, though. Their intention is to bitch. Plain and simple. They hate their job, their boyfriend, their sister, their neighbor, their dog, their kids, their cable company, their airline....whoever the focus of their bitterness is that day.

And really, isn't that all it is - bitterness?

Honestly, if you're that unhappy about something, why don't you change it? Leave. Move. Break up. Stop talking to someone. Cut ties. Quit. Or...better yet....change your attitude. Your actions. Your behavior. Your mindset.

Three years ago when my marriage was in the shitter and my relationship with my kids was one of constant turmoil, I didn't continue bitching and complaining, I did something about it. I identified the problem and I fucking fixed it. I don't have any super powers. I don't possess some secret gift to fixing my life. I just saw what was wrong and I did something about it. You can too.

If you're unhappy, it's your own damn fault. You can try to blame others, but honestly, if you've got more than one shitty area of your life or it's been going on for more than a few weeks, chances are it's not someone else's issues - it's yours.

So fix it.

Until then, don't be surprised when I boot your negative ass from my timeline. I'm too busy enjoying the good life to listen to you whine about not having one.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The List

Many people have asked me what's on my bucket list and how I came up with the things on it. 

Dude.

There are over 300 items on the list and I continue to add to it. There are big things, small things, crazy things, normal things, things I'll have to be drunk to accomplish and things I'll have to save for total sobriety. I live my life out loud and use my own voice to do it, so when I see something fun or cool, I add it to the list. 

Take #244, for instance. It came about because someone in my Twitter timeline told me that most people from Boston don't take kindly to friendly "outsidahs." Psssh, I said. So I added "Hug a stranger in Boston" to my list.
 
(Still one of my favorite hugs of all time and I've had some pretty spectacular hugs.)

The complete list is as follows (but is constantly being added onto):
  1. Get tickets to the Ellen DeGeneres show
  2. Road trip from NY to CA
  3. Try Yoga
  4. Visit Key West
  5. Adopt a Sphynx cat
  6. Cry at the grave of someone I never knew
  7. Have 1,000 Twitter followers
  8. Sing the National Anthem at Fenway Park
  9. Ride in a hot air balloon
  10. Tweet 10,000 times
  11. Read 1,000 books
  12. Learn how to surf
  13. Participate in a Color Run
  14. See the Northern Lights
  15. Get Mark Zuckerberg's business card
  16. Own a typewriter
  17. Get locked down with the Ghost Adventures crew
  18. Meet Clay Aiken
  19. Hug Reba McEntire
  20. Order off In-n-Out's secret menu 
  21. Receive roses from a secret admirer
  22. Plan my best friend's wedding
  23. Paint my front door red
  24. Participate in a 3-day Walk for the Cure
  25. Get Lasik eye surgery
  26. Learn how to knit
  27. Have a book I've written be made into a movie
  28. Get my pre-pregnancy body back
  29. Shave my head for someone with cancer
  30. Cook with Guy Fieri
  31. Go to a Boston Celtics game
  32. Go to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
  33. Bake perfect Christmas cookies
  34. Swim naked in the ocean
  35. Finish a "Wreck this Journal"
  36. Get a "Breathe" tattoo
  37. Do a NOH8 shoot
  38. Own something from Tiffany and Co.
  39. Find the perfect LBD
  40. Tell them they saved my life
  41. Be a healthy weight
  42. Get rid of all the negativity in my life
  43. Ice skate in Central Park
  44. Have a song dedicated to me
  45. Meet Ashton Kutcher
  46. Make him love life again
  47. Spend the night in a haunted mansion
  48. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  49. Autograph something
  50. Have drinks with a celebrity
  51. Be his bride
  52. Meet Adam Levine
  53. Pay a stranger's tab at a restaurant
  54. Get a matching tattoo with my daughters
  55. Spend an entire day watching Disney movies
  56. Have my favorite author sign my book
  57. Learn how to tie a cherry stem in a knot
  58. Put together a family cookbook
  59. Work for a magazine
  60. Go on vacation by myself
  61. Be in two places at once
  62. Have abs
  63. Be married to the same person for 50 years
  64. Have a best friend who'll never let me down
  65. Go parasailing
  66. Ride a horse on the beach
  67. Be the MOH
  68. Visit the Titanic in a submarine
  69. Try foods I wouldn't normally try
  70. Go for a run in Central Park
  71. Perform on Broadway
  72. Ride first class
  73. Be in a fashion show
  74. Party all night without stopping to sleep
  75. Get my nose pierced
  76. Go on a cruise
  77. Love him til I die
  78. Go to at least one place I've never been before
  79. Pet a fox
  80. Star in a movie
  81. Ride in a private plane
  82. Ride in a helicopter
  83. Take a carriage ride in Central Park
  84. Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  85. Explore an abandoned amusement park
  86. Open my own business
  87. Watch the ball drop in Times Square
  88. Invite someone without family to my holiday dinner
  89. Go camping with all my friends
  90. Go an entire day without using technology
  91. Tan on a nude beach
  92. Make a perfect Thanksgiving turkey
  93. See my hip bones
  94. Try Chicago-style pizza
  95. Photograph a nude photoshoot
  96. Complete a Man vs. Food challenge
  97. Make my best friend's dream come true
  98. Kiss on Bow Bridge in Central Park
  99. Go on a family vacation
  100. Stay at a Bed & Breakfast
  101. Slow dance in the rain
  102. Be able to walk well in high heels
  103. Ride in an airplane
  104. Be kissed unexpectedly
  105. Buy flowers for someone for no reason
  106. Feel confident in a bikini
  107. Become a cheerleader
  108. Get a boob job
  109. Eat spaghetti in Italy
  110. Visit the beach every day for a week
  111. Take my kids on an amazing vacation
  112. Write a novel during NaNoWriMo
  113. Visit Niagara Falls
  114. Live in an apartment in downtown Manhattan
  115. Meet Adam Lambert
  116. Visit the Full House home in San Francisco
  117. Go on a road trip with friends
  118. Visit the Mall of America
  119. Go to prom
  120. Be present during a birth
  121. Chase a tornado
  122. Take a homeless person to dinner
  123. Make it in NY
  124. Attach a lock to a love bridge
  125. Go to a spa
  126. Publish a best-selling novel
  127. Run a marathon
  128. Have my poem published
  129. Dance with my kids in the rain
  130. Dye my hair red
  131. Go to Canada
  132. See the Golden Gate Bridge
  133. Pay for a stranger's groceries
  134. Get a matching tattoo with my bestie
  135. Meet my idol NKOTB
  136. Travel alone
  137. Personally thank a 9/11 firefighter
  138. Have a beach wedding
  139. Meet Kate Middleton
  140. Overcome depression
  141. See gay marriage legalized in the United States
  142. Be on a billboard in Times Square
  143. Write an article for the NY Times
  144. Own a white kitten
  145. Dye my hair pink
  146. Meet Taylor Lautner
  147. Have my daughter be "One Less Lonely Girl"
  148. Meet Justin Bieber
  149. See a Broadway play
  150. Live to meet my grandchildren
  151. Design my own dream house
  152. Kiss at the top of a ferris wheel
  153. Learn to play piano
  154. Move to NYC or Boston
  155. Learn sign language
  156. Visit Ground Zero
  157. Attend a gay wedding
  158. Be on TV
  159. Write a book
  160. Swim with dolphins
  161. Skydive
  162. Visit Disneyland/World
  163. Visit all 50 states
  164. Fall in love
  165. Finish an entire coloring book
  166. Be on the cover of a magazine
  167. See a lantern festival
  168. Visit a castle
  169. Watch my children get married
  170. Visit the Philippines with my bestie
  171. Ride a subway in NYC
  172. Try every flavor of Ben & Jerry's
  173. Have a "usual" somewhere
  174. Have a pet rabbit
  175. Go to the airport and buy a ticket for some random flight
  176. Go to Bora Bora or Fiji
  177. Test drive a Ferrari
  178. Write a letter to myself and open it in 10 years
  179. Go on the Skydeck in Chicago
  180. Ride the London Eye
  181. Go on a road trip to Canada
  182. Have a Christmas without any drama
  183. Give a homeless person a Christmas present
  184. Become a photographer
  185. Have my 11:11 11/11/11 wish come true
  186. Kiss in a snow storm
  187. Chop down my own Christmas tree
  188. Find and go on the largest roller coaster in the world
  189. Go to a hot air balloon fest
  190. Go to the Caribbean with my bestie
  191. Be a homeowner
  192. Be a good parent
  193. Go on a no-budget shopping spree in Sephora
  194. Get a white-ink tattoo
  195. Walk through Central Park in the snow
  196. Swim with Beluga whales
  197. Dance under the Eiffel Tower
  198. Go to Rockefeller Plaza at Christmastime
  199. Stop biting my nails
  200. Kiss at the top of the Empire State Building
  201. Go to a New England Patriots game
  202. Party on a cruise ship
  203. Attend a midnight movie premiere
  204. Walk a red carpet
  205. Swim with a sea turtle
  206. Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  207. Go snowtubing
  208. See the Rockettes
  209. Do a boudoir sitting
  210. Take a family trip to Colorado
  211. Visit Boston
  212. Have a conversation with my favorite actor
  213. Visit Martha's Vineyard
  214. See NKOTB's childhood homes
  215. Meet Ellen Degeneres
  216. Go ziplining
  217. Write a screen play
  218. Learn to ski (water or snow)
  219. See Prince in concert (RIP, Prince)
  220. Buy a bicycle and ride it regularly
  221. Run a 5k
  222. See Madonna live
  223. Join a critique group
  224. Do RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa)
  225. Go on a long-overdue honeymoon
  226. Visit Yellowstone
  227. Spend a weekend in an isolated cabin
  228. Have my portrait painted
  229. Drive up the Pacific Coast highway
  230. Visit the Smithsonian
  231. Nap in a hammock by the ocean
  232. Get back to my high school weight
  233. Visit Los Angeles
  234. Meet Janet Evanovich
  235. Redecorate my bedroom
  236. Put my feet in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
  237. Have one of my photos displayed publicly
  238. Meet Shemar Moore
  239. Kiss someone famous
  240. Go to a game at Yankee Stadium
  241. Go paragliding
  242. Eat at Ellen's Stardust Diner
  243. Learn how to ballroom dance (especially the quickstep)
  244. Hug a stranger in Boston
  245. Get at least 5 stamps in my passport
  246. Move to New England
  247. Kiss on Lagoon Bridge in Boston
  248. Spend a weekend in Cape Cod
  249. Do a tequila shot with Michael Cudlitz
  250. See all the NKOTB homes today
  251. Witness Fleet Week 
  252. Go SCUBA diving
  253. Hold a hummingbird 
  254. Visit the Pollock-Krasner House & Studio 
  255. Go a week without using my phone
  256. Spend a day holding a "FREE HUGS" sign
  257. Get every member of Midnight Red to follow me on Twitter
  258. Star in a local theatrical production
  259. Going line dancing for old time's sake
  260. See a Pink Floyd laser light show
  261. Ride in a glass bottom boat
  262. Dance with Zac Efron
  263. Photograph an Atlantic sunrise
  264. Photograph a Pacific sunset
  265. See P!nk in concert.
  266. Have wings at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo.
  267. Have my book published.
  268. Meet Bret Michaels.
  269. Dance in the rain in the mountains. 
  270. Visit Lake Nipissing 
  271. Go camping in the mountains 
  272. Move to Colorado
  273. Restore someone's faith in humanity
  274. Get a Brazilian wax 
  275. Learn to ice skate
  276. Discuss screenwriting with Frank John Hughes 
  277. Visit an elephant sanctuary
  278. Take a ride on a motorcycle up the PCH
  279. Visit the 9/11 Museum
  280. Visit the OKC Bombing Memorial
  281. Drive a Corvette
  282. See Jimmy Fallon Live
  283. Publish my "Time After Time" series
  284. Appear on "Jeopardy"
  285. Have front row seats for a NKOTB show
  286. See Janet Jackson in concert
  287. Try raw oysters
  288. Ride a trolley in San Francisco
  289. Go to a drive-in movie
  290. Meet Judy Blume
  291. Ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier
  292. Ride the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island
  293. Take a train ride on Amtrak
  294. Get a semi colon tattoo
  295. Stay at the Hoshi Ryoku Hotel in Japan
  296. Have my mom's wedding rings redesigned
  297. Get a henna tattoo
  298. Visit the "Dirty Dancing" resort in VA (Mountain Lake)
  299. Go snowmobiling
  300. Scrapbook all my childhood MN vacations
  301. Get courtside seats for a Celtics game
  302. Tell my freshman English teacher what an inspiration she was to me
  303. Visit Graceland
  304. Visit Paisley Place
  305. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame
  306. Witness Manhattanhenge
  307. Go tubing in Kauai
  308. See a real southern plantation
     
My list is long and the likelihood of my actually completing everything on it is not very high, but the way I see it, if I keep trying to do these fun things, then my life will always have a purpose, even if it's to do something silly. I'll never be the person who cures cancer or gives peace to the Middle East, but I do intend to bring a smile to the face of every person I meet, and if that's my greatest accomplishment in life, I'm okay with that. 

Now...what's on your list?

(updated 02/23/2017)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What are you waiting for?

Most of you know how much of a Pinterest junkie I am and have probably seen my bucket list board. It contains things I've already accomplished as well as the things still left to be done before I die. I realized the other day, as I thought over the last two months and the shit my crazy life has slung me lately, that these things on my bucket list aren't going to do themselves.

I may live another 40 years or I may die tomorrow. I don't have any way of knowing when my time is coming, so the only thing I'm accomplishing by procrastinating my bucket list is...well, procrastinating my bucket list. And there's some fun stuff on there!

So here's the thing. Each month, for the rest of the year, I'm going to do something on my list.

Let's see how many I accomplish!

UPDATE:
March
211. Visit Boston. We flew into Boston on March 29th and stayed til April 2nd.
214. Visit NKOTB's childhood homes. Becky took us on a brief tour in Dorchester on 3/30/12
244. Hug a stranger (in Boston). 3/30/12 Random guy on Commonwealth Ave who gladly hugged me.

April
1. Get tickets to the Ellen show April 10
31. Go to a Celtics game. 4/1/12 vs. Miami Heat. Celtics won 91 to 72.
84. Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame. April 11
97. Make my best friend's dream come true. Ann Marie wanted to be Jordan's "Rockstar" in Boston. So, using my cell phone as a makeshift strobe/spotlight, I got Victor & Charlie's attention and they pulled her up on stage for Rockstar.  
104. Be kissed unexpectedly. 4/9/12 Somebody who I never even pictured having the time to read my blogs (especially the one with my long-ass bucket list) DID read my blog and planted a kiss on me that blew my mind. Nothing pornographic, mind you -- just completely unexpected. It was the perfect surprise kiss.
229. Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. April 8, 2012 with Ann Marie and Rissa.
233. Visit L.A. April 8 to see Sherri on Dancing with the Stars (and SO much more!) 

May
(I was a little busy in May with my surgery)


June 
40. Tell them they saved my life. June 7, 2012 He didn't believe me. There will have to be further explanation. UPDATE: There was further explanation. He gets it now.
261. Ride in a glass-bottom boat. June 8, 2012 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

July/August/September/October
(I was busy trying to beat depression.)

November
3. Try yoga. November 8, 2012

December
92. Make a perfect Thanksgiving Turkey. December 2012 - Okay, so technically, it wasn't Thanksgiving, but the bird was pretty incredible!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sometimes you just can't...

I have a lot of family members. Just on my mother's side alone, I have two siblings, four nieces/nephews, two niece-in-laws (and one-to-be), two great-nephews, three aunts, five cousins (plus their spouses...and their kids). Add in my father's sides (yes, I have two dads) and we're talking over a hundred relatives, easily. I am usually thankful that we don't all live in the same place because planning family events with everyone would be virtually impossible.

For me, I've always tried to stay neutral when there are disagreements among family members. That doesn't mean if somebody acts like an idiot I don't call them out. I do. Any of my relatives will tell you they've been on the receiving end of a Melanie-chew-out at least once. Some people don't understand my reasons for trying to stay neutral. That's easy: it's what my mom would've done. She'd have said her peace, of course, but in the end she would've loved both parties equally. It what she did and it's what she taught me.

I am not my mother, however. And the longer I deal with the idiotic choices of some of my family members, the more I realize how VERY unlike my mother I really am.

I have come to terms recently with just how short life really is. In the blink of an eye, it can completely change course. You can go to the doctor with what looks like a boil and come out with an appointment with an oncologist. That's some scary shit right there. If you've never looked your own mortality in the face, I suggest giving it a try. It'll change your way of thinking.

Because of my own recent glimpse at my mortality, I'm done being neutral. I'm done trying to find the good in people who, for the most part, have very little good left to show the world -- whose every action exhibits hate and bitterness instead of the forgiveness and understanding they claim to have. Now don't get me wrong; I love my family unconditionally. But that doesn't mean I won't eliminate my contact with them if they bring toxicity to my life. 

I can be quoted as telling a family member a couple weeks ago, "I won't choose sides, but if you force me to, you won't like what side is chosen." They tested me. They're finding out the hard way.

I love my family, but sometimes I just can't have them in my life.