The Foggy, Breaking Dawn

An apple a day keeps the vampires away, wait, that’s not how it goes.

The final installment of the Twilight saga will be released on screen this week and it reminded me of something I rediscovered about a year ago.  It turns out Stephanie Myers wasn’t the only person dreaming of vampires.  When I was in high school, I was always writing something.  Short stories mostly because I didn’t have the discipline to write anything longer.  I started a lot of short stories that I never managed to finish.

I have a Unicorn Notebook from those high school days containing a half a dozen stories, or more precisely half a dozen half-stories.  One of them is about a female vampire heroine named Nikki who finds out that she’s a vampire at age 16.  She can go out in the daylight without bursting into flame (sound familiar?) and she reads minds (again, Edward anyone?).  Oh, and get this, she gets married on the night of the New Moon!  Of course the real horror of this story is that Nikki is getting married at 16.  That’s more terror inducing than Stephanie Myers version where Bella gets married at 18.  My working title for this story was “The Fog”.  I have to admit that Twilight has a better ring to it.

Oh good, an original beginning for my next story.

The only problem with my story (besides lack of entertaining plot, sexy werewolves, compelling drama or engaging characters) was that before I could complete 498 pages about my vampires, I switched gears to write about a 16-year-old girl named Dana on her way to a party. (you’ve probably noticed a theme to my writing back then or at least the heroines) And I have no idea why the heck I was writing about vampires in a Unicorn Notebook.

A lovely book in which to jot down a few horror stories….

I wonder what would have happened if I had kept working on The Fog?  I can all have great ideas all day long, but without hard work and effort put into those ideas they are worthless.  For instance, I’m sure there are bloggers who sit down and pound out a post in just a few moments and publish it without another thought and it’s awesome. Even though it doesn’t always show, I put a little more effort into my writing. (by a little I mean tons of blood, sweat and tears – hey that’s a group . . .) I love writing and the ideas come quickly but the substance takes time to construct and evolve. Mark Twain said, “The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.”  I certainly didn’t understand this when I was 16.

Write, rinse, repeat

Some of you know that I gave up on blogging pretty quickly too about 10 months back.  It became overwhelming.  I felt the need to post something every day and trying to keep up that demanding pace, a 55 hour a week job, being a wife. and a mother  . . .  well something had to go.  I also felt very intimidated by all the wonderful writers out there with amazing blogs.  I forgot that blogging is supposed to be fun.  I didn’t start blogging because I thought I would get discovered and become rich overnight, I started blogging so I could write, because I felt driven to write.  So I’ve finally returned because giving up on writing was what I did when I was 16, but now that I’m . . .  um, older, I understand it takes perseverance.  And lots and lots of practice.

So you may never see dazzling posts and you will not see posts every day.  My goal is to post something at least mildly amusing 2-3 times a week.  Most importantly I want to enjoy writing again.  Because it is fun, right after you mop up all the blood, sweat and tears.  Oh, and don’t judge me for following the Twilight saga.  Us Angry Middle Age Women have to have some guilty pleasures!

Sleeping Beauty

Any new parent knows that the phrase “sleeping like a baby” is an oxymoron.

I spend a lot of my time being tired.  Maybe it’s all the anger.  That takes a toll you know.  But working 50+ hours a week, driving a teenager back and forth to cheerleading practice, figuring out what to make for dinner (okay, figuring out what to order at the drive-thru), doing the laundry and keeping track of everyone’s schedule is exhausting.  So you would think that come bedtime I would fall into my comfy bed and drift off to a peaceful, albeit all too short, night’s sleep.  Nope!

My friend Missy and I were discussing sleep issues the day after Daylight Savings Time ended.  She was complaining that she didn’t get to take advantage of her extra hour of sleep.  Missy has been flirting with menopause for some time and it appears they now have a full-fledged relationship.  So she’s awakened every night to drenched sheets and pajamas.  Fun.

I don’t usually have a problem sleeping through the night, but I have difficulty falling asleep.  As soon as I lie down and my body tries to rest, my mind sparks to life.  It’s as if my brain thinks that now is the perfect time to run through everything I might not have had a chance to think about all day.

So when I get into bed, my brain does something like this:  “Did I send that email to George about the new sign package?  No, I need to do that tomorrow.  I need to call Mom.  When’s the last time I talked to Mom?  I miss Mom’s fried chicken.  What are we going to have for supper tomorrow night?  Is there some chicken in the freezer?  You know what I haven’t seen in a while?  That episode of Friends where Monica had the really big hair and played ping-pong like a ninja…..” and on, and on and on.

Could you sleep with this in your head?

So I need something to help me sleep but I don’t like to take “sleeping pills”.  Just the name of them conjures up images of overweight, has-been movie stars with droopy eyelids in a movie on Lifetime.  I go for the “natural” remedy of melatonin.  If you think of sleep like a child’s slide, once I get a gentle shove at the top I glide effortlessly down to the bottom until time to get up.  So Missy was asking if I had a “natural” suggestion for her issues.  As it turns out I did.  I told her, “Get thee to a doctor!”  Sometimes real prescription meds are warranted and to me some of those reasons are sinus infection, labor and delivery and menopause!  I doubt Elvis’s problem originated from the meds he took to prevent night sweats.

Wheeeeee!!!!

One of the reasons I take a natural remedy is to avoid getting addicted.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be so opposed to “sleeping well on the wings” of something.  So imagine my surprise when I visited my local GNC to purchase another bottle of my natural melatonin and the guy at the counter told me to be careful because if I took it too often I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep without it.  Um, isn’t that the definition of addicted?  Of course this same unemployed fitness trainer expert told me that taking three “Zap it Fat” pills a day would solve my overeating issues so I’ll take his advice with a grain of salt.

Does anybody else out there have trouble sleeping?  Are you like me and can’t fall asleep or are you like Missy and wake up and can’t get back to sleep?  What do you do?

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Thank goodness.  Tomorrow is the day we’ve all been waiting for:  Election Day.  You may think I’m eager to exercise my right to vote and play my role in shaping our future or anxious to know who will be the Leader of the Free Will for the next 4 years.  Nope!  I’m excited about Election Day because afterwards, I get my Facebook back!

“Where did your Facebook go?” you may be wondering.  I’m glad you asked.  Facebook is still there, but for the last several months it’s been taken over by Left Wing Radicals . . . and Right Wing Extremists.  My politically charged up friends have been busy posting  insane clips from strange websites in misguided attempts to persuade others of their beliefs.  It’s kind of like they joined opposing cults.  Or gangs.

You’ve heard of the Crips? These are the ‘Crats.

I have a handful of level-headed friends who, like me, have decided that Facebook is not the place to begin a political debate.  These folks stick to posting pictures of their kids, of their summer vacation or their lunch.  Earlier this summer the climate on Facebook became so political that I posted this on my Facebook Wall:

I thought it was funny

A friend I will call “Gertrude” didn’t find this post funny.  Gertrude is a person I haven’t seen since the day I graduated from High School.  The very next day after I posted that cartoon on my wall, she began to send out a series of posts with such phrases as, “Well if this offends any of my NON political friends I apologize!”  “I’m SORRY if my right to discuss politics offends you!” and much, much more.  Gertrude normally posts 5-10 times a day so that wasn’t unusual, but it began to be pretty obvious that these posts were aimed at me.  Me?  The person who had purposely avoided making any reference to either political party or any remotely political statements for months?  I sat there stunned for a moment.  Then I got a little . . . Angry.

“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”

Gert was a person I didn’t even like in High School!  Why the heck would she be so offended by my frivolity that she felt the need to attack me?  Why would she care?  She was the one who sent me a friend request and now she was calling out my post?  Oh no sister, I exercised that right of passive-aggressive middle age women everywhere:  I hit the “unfriend” button!

I don’t get the radicals.  Being against something doesn’t make you for something.  I’m not talking about the politically passionate.  There’s a difference between radical and passionate.  I would actually enjoy a good long discussion with someone with opposite views than mine.  I would like to hear your reasoning and I would like you to listen to mine.  I think the worst thing that could happen is that one or both of us might learn something.  But just slinging mud and name-calling?  Well, I had my fill of that in high school.

A comic from the other gang, er . . . Party.

So anyway, after today everything will settle down and people will get back to normal.  (As normal as anyone is on Facebook)  To me Facebook has never been a place to discuss politics or religion.  It should be lighthearted, fun, almost a modern-day gossip column if you will.  I want to know who’s going to the big game, who’s going to the movie and how was it, and who sticking to their diet.  That’s about as radical as I get.

By the way, some bloggers, Life with the Top Down and Peg-o-leg, (who are much more talented than I am!) have some very humorous and entertaining views about the upcoming election.  Check out No Room For Lame Excuses for some very interesting election day trivia and All in the Political Family: When Mom and Dad Play Favorites for a look at what it’s like not to be a swing state.

And don’t forget to exercise your right to vote tomorrow!  Remember, if you don’t, you can’t bitch complain on Facebook or your blog for four more years!

I Was Once an Expert At Parenting

It’s true!  You may not believe it, but I was once an expert at parenting and imparting valuable advice to poor, befuddled parents.  I had all the answers and knew just what to do in every situation.  So what happened?  Where did all this knowledge go?  Well the answer to that is simple:  I had a child of my own.  And suddenly I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.

Before Tink was born, there was Connor.  Really, when I think back, it’s a miracle there is a Tink considering her cousin Connor came first.  Connor was my Sister-in-Law, Jenn, and her second husband’s first child.  Go ahead and re-read that sentence if you need to.  By the time Connor was 2, he was an expert too.  An expert at throwing tantrums.  Good heavens he was a willful child!  You couldn’t be in the same room with him for more than an hour without him throwing a tantrum about something.  It was so bad, invitations to family gatherings went something like this, “Oh, we’re all getting together for dinner tomorrow?  Jenn coming?  Bringing Connor?  Yes, I suppose he is part of the family too.  No, no there’s no problem, it’s just that I was going to wash my hair tomorrow and I don’t know if I can make it.”

The family as a group never spoke of Connor’s … um …. wilfulness, but whenever two of us were alone together we inevitably compared our thoughts as to what would be best for him.  I was certain that if Jenn and her husband would just be more firm, refuse to give in to his whinny tactics, and maybe paddle his behind more often, he would be a much more pleasant child.

“I don’t know any parents that look into the eyes of a newborn baby and say, ‘How can we screw this kid up?’” – Russell Bishop

One Thanksgiving, when Connor was 2 and half, I was watching him as he played outside while other, more talented cooks prepared the feast.  I thought I had the “easy” job, playing with the “baby”.  HA!  The house Jenn and her husband were renting wasn’t really child-friendly and it was also located perilously close to a major roadway.  I had forbidden Connor from playing near the steps that led up to the sidewalk and into the road.  I will never, in my whole life, forget the twinkle in his eye as Connor looked at me, then turned and ran up those steps.  He was 2 and a half, but he flew up those steps, reached the sidewalk and was headed straight for the 4-lane highway in 2 seconds flat!  Luckily, I ran too and I lifted him by the back of his shirt and in my memory I see his foot dangling over the street but I’m told I had him firmly in my grasp several steps earlier.  Oh.  My.  God.  I think this moment is less about Connor’s wilfulness than about the fact that this was my first clue that I might not be an expert on children and how to parent them after all.

Expert? Spock wasn’t even from Earth what did he know about babies?

Anyway, I continued to list to anyone who would listen, all of Connor’s parents’ shortcomings and what they must do differently.  I expressed these opinions through all 9 months of my pregnancy and right up until Tink’s first tantrum.  Yep, after that I was officially no longer an expert.

What made me think of all of this was a picture Connor’s sister posted of him on Facebook the other day.  It was a picture from the local newspaper.  Today, Connor is the 6’3″ starting Quarterback of his High School football team and he will graduate in May in the top 10% of his class.  And he is the most pleasant, polite and wonderfully brilliant young man.  So, what conclusions can we draw from this story?  Well, there are several, but here’s what I think is most important:  Thank goodness I was there to give Connor’s parents all that great advice!

I knew he’d be athletic when he ran up those steps!

Were you ever an expert about something until you found out you weren’t?

Talking Dolls and Chain Saws, No Thank You!

The Obligatory Halloween Post

“I see stupid people….”

When I was a teenager, the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises were in their prime.  If you’ve never seen one of those movies, don’t fret because you didn’t miss much.  If there was any plot or storyline from either, it wasn’t strong enough to stick with me.  What I do remember are a lot of gory scenes which now-a-days a good Grey’s Anatomy surgery episode can probably beat.

Yes, the special effects back then were terrible!

Another thing I remember about these movies are that my friends and I would gather at someone’s home with the freshly minted VHS tape of the latest installment, pop some popcorn, grab some soda, turn out the lights and watch.  We would each pick a character to represent us and see who was the “winner”.  The “winner”, of course, was the one person who survived.  Usually it was the smart, slightly shy, brunette, female co-lead.  I suppose the moral of these movies was that if you weren’t the slutty blonde cheerleader you might one day survive a homicidal maniac trying to kill you at the cabin you and your friends snuck off to in order to engage in lots of premarital sex and drinking.  Huh, I guess I learned something from these movies after all.

Last week I watched the Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars with my daughter and I noticed that teen fright flicks haven’t changed much over the years.  This one was a little different because it took place on a train and it was PG because it was on TV, but teens in horror movies (or TV shows) are still acting like imbeciles and some things never change, like:

1.  The person who knows the secret that could save everyone will be the first to die.

2.  At some point, in order to get away from the villan, someone will run UP the stairs.

3.  Someone, not a very smart someone, will volunteer to go down into the basement to check out the spooky noise….by themselves.  ‘Cause that always turns out well.

4.  Here’s my favorite:  At some point the group will split up to find the killer so that at least 1 person is all alone.  Really?  I never, EVER, understood that one.

5.  When the doomed teen finally realizes he or she needs to escape, the battery in whatever vehicle they jump into will be dead.  OR they will drop the keys to said vehicle while running from the villan.

6.  Mistaking the werewolf, vampire, monster, zombie, killer, villan, the whatever for their best friend, girlfriend, boyfriend or whatever.  Huh, you think you know someone right?

You can’t tell me this isn’t terrifying!

I don’t watch a lot of scary movies anymore.  I think the last one I saw was The 6th Sense and I’m still afraid to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I’m also afraid of dolls.  At any moment I expect their little plastic heads to turn and then they’ll start talking….  Nope, never did care for that!  So, this Halloween the scariest thing at my house will be me eating all the candy I bought before the kids ring my doorbell.  And I can promise you that if I hear a scary noise in the basement I will NOT check it out!  Now, where’d I put my crucifix…..

Advice for Reacting to a Crisis

A giant, once in a lifetime Super-Storm is approaching the East Coast attacking multiple states with a vengeance.  At work, I am responsible for all of our offices in the East.  I was sitting safe and sound in my South Carolina home last night while this Frankenstorm was headed straight for 9 of my offices in Maryland  . . . and my employees who live there.

I’d checked in on everyone all day to make sure they were prepared, personally and professionally, and that my subordinates had contacted all of their subordinates and that everyone knew exactly what to do.  I’d spoken with our Call Center to advise them that our offices were closed and that we would keep them updated as we learned more.  So once I’d prepared all I could and made sure everyone else was prepared, what did I do?  Wait?  No!  I kept sending emails and texts saying, “Do you still have power?”  “How’s the weather?”  “What’s happening now?”

Seriously I thought that texting, “How’s the weather” to someone in a hurricane would be helpful?  Why did I need to know if they had lost power yet?  Because we knew it was going to go out, it was just a matter of when.  Was I going to send them some of my electricity when theirs went out?  No.  Asking these questions doesn’t make any sense and they aren’t helpful to the people I’m texting OR to me.  Because even if I do know the details of their situation, there’s not a damn thing I can do from way down here in South Carolina!  But when things happen around us over which we have no control, we need to do things that give us the illusion of control.  So on that same thread, here are my suggestions for ways to help in other crises situations:

Southern Baptist church’s cure

If someone is terminally ill, or heaven forbid they die, take food.  Fried chicken and macaroni and cheese is the favorite here in the South.  I’m not sure why fried chicken helps sick or dead people, but I know it works because churches have been doing it for years, especially Baptist churches, and churches wouldn’t continue to do something useless that makes no sense.

If you need to explain something to a deaf person, but you don’t know sign language and they don’t read lips, here’s what helps, talk really, really loud.  Even though they are deaf, yelling at them will help the situation.  Must be the shock waves or something.  Don’t bother getting a pen and paper to communicate.  That’s just crazy talk!

If someone gets hurt doing something you ever told them not to do, that is the exact time to remind them.  My mother was an expert at this.  Once I fell down the wooden, iced over steps outside our back door.  As I lay there on my head trying to figure out if I could still feel my arms and legs, my Mom was at the top of the steps screaming, “I’ve told you a million times to be careful going down these steps!  I knew one day you’d fall and break your neck out here!”  I can speak from experience that my Mom yelling her version of “I told you so” right after I’d fallen down the steps helped a lot.  It helped so much, that now I repeat this same process with my daughter.  I can tell she appreciates it every bit as much as I did when I was her age.  Ah, family traditions . . .

If you are faced with an emotional crisis to which there is no immediate relief, then a good solution is french fries . . . or cheesecake . . . but not both of them together because that’s just fattening.  This is also an acceptable solution to stress.  For instance, during the two week period when I needed to review 32 budgets?  My solution to the overwhelming stress, 13 hour days and 7 day work weeks?  French Fries!  A bonus is that after a couple of weeks of this plan you can also get a new wardrobe to accent your new physique!

Well, there you go!  That’s the Angry Middle Age Woman’s Guide to Survival during a crisis!  No need to thank me, the least I could do was share my words of wisdom with you while I await the results of this storm.  Really, it was the very least I could do.

No Cursing Resolution = Epic Fail

So I had several New Year’s Resolutions and I am following most of them.  I’m eating healthier, lost a couple of pounds, working out regularly – all the usual resolutions.  But I had also decided to stop cursing, and damn it, that part’s not going so well.

How does she look so calm? (image via hundredpushups.com)

All this working out was bound to pull a few expletives out of me, especially if I’m doing it correctly.  When you hold plank position  for more than 30 seconds and you have any breath left at all, it automatically comes out in four-letter words.  Then when I was dieting I was hungry so my threshold for stupidity was much lower than it normally is and I don’t have a high tolerance for it on a good day with fried foods.  So I had already decided that perhaps this “no cursing” resolution would best be delayed until February, but last Friday I had an unintentional slip that was so funny I had to share.

I was picking my daughter up at school which is not the normal routine.  She usually rides the bus, but we had errands to run this particular Friday.  South Carolina has recently passed a law against texting and driving which I never really did anyway, but now I was sitting still in a car rider line waiting to pick up one of the hundreds of teenagers roaming around outside the school.  I sent a quick text to my daughter to let her know I was getting close to the pick up point so she could be paying attention instead of gabbing with her friends.  I am lucky enough to have a “Smart Phone” with voice recognition so I thought I would take advantage of it.  I hit the speaker button and said, “I’m in line, shouldn’t be long now.”  then I hit send.

I kind of miss my dumb phone

Evidently I have a very strong southern accent that must be difficult for standard voice recognition software to recognize.  A few seconds later I read the message I had sent.  And here it is:

“The line shittin’ be long”

I almost fell out of the car laughing but I was struggling to send another G-rated message so my daughter would not be confused.  I tried again with the same phrase.  This time the message came out:

“I’m in line, should not be long nails”

Luckily by the time I pulled up my daughter saw the car and hopped in, completely embarrassed because her mother was laughing like a hyena.  I finally croaked out that I was sorry about the text messages when she said, “Oh, my phone is off and in my book bag.  What did you say?” 

Well, February 1st is just around the corner.  I’ll give it a shit then.  Ooops, I mean shot.

1.  Thanks to the blog “Who Said Life Wasn’t Complicated” for the picture at the top of the page.