Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Catch up! (at least on one front!)

Because I got an e-mail from Kristen that said "WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEEN BLOGGING?!?", I am going to try to recap the past few months. Please bear with me while I fill in the blanks. This may take a few days...

I got a second job. I applied at The University Cafe in downton Fredericksburg in mid-August. I heard that they needed an assistant manager, so I submitted my resume.

I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more.

I heard nothing.

Then my friend Samantha got a job there as a server. She started telling the General Manager that he should hire me, because I could do a lot of the things that were falling through the cracks.

I was finally told to come in. I was hired as a server. This was perfectly fine with me, since I was still doing almost 30 hours a week at CB. If I couldn't be a manager, then all I wanted was 2 shifts a week, to supplement the money I was losing by the CB cutbacks.

I came in on a Saturday and trained on the floor as a server for 2 hours. Then I took a few tables. Then the GM asked me to stay for a shift. On my first day, I made almost $100, and I was supposed to be "training".

The following Monday, I went in to The Cafe with the intention of working on my book. The assistant manager was struggling to do the server schedule. Since I had the Mac with me, I volunteered to do it for her. The GM decided that I should be an assistant manager that day, after already hiring me as a server. So, my one day of serving turned into an assistant manager job.

That lasted two weeks. Two weeks of working my a$$ off, trying to learn as much as I could and still doing almost 30 hours at CB each week as well. Between the two weeks and the two jobs, I worked something like 150 hours in two weeks. It was pretty intense.

I went in to work on Sunday 10/25/09 to close. I generally love to close on Sundays, because we have this amazing group of guys that come in and do a Jazz jam session. If you're on FaceBook, you've heard me talk about it.

Well, we had a restaurant consultant skulking about. He was hired by the owner to try to figure out of we were doing all we could do to be successful. He had long conversations with me the previous Friday. On Sunday, he told me that there were going to be some MAJOR changes the next morning, and that they wanted me to take over The Cafe.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I've always wanted my own place. Some of you have heard me wax poetic about someday owning my own little place, and the kind of place it would be. It's been a dream of mine for YEARS.

On 10/26/09, my dream came true. Well, I don't own the place. But I am now the General Manager of The University Cafe in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Please Google it if you want more info. Or you can check it out on Facebook.

It is a cool, funky, bright, cheery, fun place to work - NOW. There is a change in the atmosphere since that Monday. The employees are smiling. The customers notice a difference. The other managers walk around with pride.

I didn't do all of this. I'm not responsible for all of the good things that have happened. But it is very nice to know that I had a part in it.

As for me? Well, there is a BIG difference from being the new assistant manager still learning the ropes to being The GM. I am supposed to have the answers. I am supposed to know all. I am never supposed to lose my cool, control, or temper. I am supposed to be accessible at all times, to everyone.

I worked from 10/25 until today, every single day. I was supposed to have the day off. I wasn't supposed to be contacted by anyone at The Cafe all day. Yeah. Right.

The previous GM had a bad habit of not writing anything down. That included bands that were scheduled, special events, and bookings for The Cafe. This has resulted in numerous occasions where we have been double booked with events, entertainment, or other things. It has been an adventure, to say the least.

So today, on my first "day off" in a while, I got a phone call. The local University called and spoke with my assistant manager. The previous GM had agreed to host an event for 150 people, for tomorrow. Nothing was written down, nobody was told. The lady only called because she hadn't heard from us. But my staff? They are trained. They are confident. They have an awesome sense of ownership now. My wonderful Floor Manager took the call, got all of the information, contacted the Kitchen Manager to check our supplies and the Bar manager to check our stock, made adjustments to the server and bar schedule, THEN called to tell me. The only thing I needed to do was find serving platters.

Yes, I worked on my 'day off'. But I wasn't bitter about it. I would have had MUCH more to do had my staff not felt empowered to take control and do what they could. They knew that there were things they couldn't do (like go make purchases), but they did what they could. I could not have been more proud!

I'll get another day off next week. I may not even get a call. But regardless, it will be worth it just to know that everything that I've spent years learning, in The Navy and CB and numerous other jobs, is helping me to build a staff that can handle anything.

Join me in watching my dream become a reality!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just too irritated!

I'm so irritated right now! I can't even concentrate on my story. And that makes me even MORE irritated, because - well, I happen to really like the way it's going so far. And while I'm on THAT subject, can I just issue a THANK YOU to all of you out there that keep stopping by every day to check and see if I've written more? Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. Knowing that you're interested enough to stop in and keep reading has been a great shot in the arm (or boost to the ego) and a very good incentive to put BICFOK (butt in chair, fingers on keyboard) lately.

My life is relatively calm right now. Except for my keyboard sticking (which is REALLY annoying!!), and crazy renters (which has, sadly, become the normal state of things), and a weird personal situation that I have no idea how to resolve (which really is my own damn fault, tyvm) things are going pretty well. My hours were cut back at CB, which was rough financially but good in other ways. I've been home a bit more with the kids, which is always a blessing. I've had more time to work on the new story, which is wonderful, because it's really had me in its clutches (if you hadn't noticed!). I've had time to polish that other book, which is great because then I can send it off and be done with it one way or another. I got a new job with a great opportunity for advancement, which is too wonderful for words. (Brief segue on the new job - serving in a cafe in our quaint little old town Fredericksburg, and that place is just too much fun! I am SO excited about working there, and hopefully getting the chance to advance there, so even though my hours away from home will increase, it will be a good thing!) All in all, MY life is pretty decent.

So tell me why everybody else's life has to crap out now.

I have a very close friend that is in the middle of stuff right now. She just found out she's going to have another baby. That's good, right? But her fiancee just left her (not because of the baby). On his way out, he roughed her up quite a bit. So now she's staying with us, and so is her 3 year old son. We LOVE these two people. She's like a little sister to me. I see so much of myself in her. I mean, I remember what it was like to have a kid young. I know what it's like to be in an abusive relationship. I can still feel the fear in the pit of my stomach of wondering how to support another child alone. (Before The Man came along, I was quite alone, and some days had no idea how I was going to make it all work with wee ones. It's a wonder he didn't turn and RUN in the opposite direction, now that I think about it!) This woman though, she's got her whole life ahead of her. She does. I know that, since I've been where she is, and I know things can and often do work out just fine. But I don't know how to help her see that. I want to help. And I am helping, I know that. But I just want to be able to hold her and tell her that it will all be ok. Yet, I don't think I would have believed anybody that told me that when I was pregnant and alone. I was terrified, angry, hurt, and not in any condition to hear someone tell me that things would one day be ok. So I watch her. And I hurt for her. And some days I even cry for her, safe in my bed wrapped in the arms of The Man, where she can't hear me. And I pray for her. I pray a lot. I pray that God gives her strength, and comfort. I pray that He holds her tight in His grasp. I pray that He gives her the peace that passes understanding. And if you're a praying person, I ask that you pray for her as well. She needs all the prayers that she can get.

I just don't get a man that would hit a woman. I don't understand a man that would raise his hand to a pregnant woman. I can't comprehend a man that would strike the woman that was carrying his child. And I really can not wrap my mind around a man that would walk away from a woman that adores him, and walk out on his child. These things baffle me. They irritate me. I just don't get it.

Another of my very dear friends is also going through it. His wife left him. Left him! Not only him, but also their 3 year old little boy. She just packed up and moved out. But not just out. She moved in with someone else. And this one has me scratching my head as well. My friend, he's not perfect. He has his flaws. I can see that. But geez, when you're married - that's supposed to be forever! It's right there in the vows - for richer or poorer, for better or worse, till death do you part. I know people get divorced. Heck, I've done it. It was literally a life-saving decision for me. But this woman just walked out on her husband, on her CHILD, for a new life. What kind of mother does that? What kind of woman can carry a baby inside of her very body, nurture that baby for nine months, endure the agonizing pain of childbirth, nurse that child, hold that baby, gaze into his eyes, smell the back of his neck, then just walk away? It makes me SO angry, just to think about it.

I see these two people every single day. I watch them, going through the motions. They are both holding it together remarkably well, considering. They are both strong people, and they both have kids to care for, so they are soldiering on. But when I look at them sometimes, I can see it, right there in their eyes, before they drop the veil and shutter their gazes. I see it.

Pain. Confusion. Disappointment. Loss.

And it breaks my heart.

Every day, it breaks my heart.

I want to wrap my arms around them both, just hold on to them, squeeze them tight, gather them close, make them feel safe, and secure, and wanted, and loved. I want them to know that life does in fact go on. I want to tell them that even when you are broken, even when you watch your heart walk out the door, when you feel devastated, when you have no idea how on earth you will ever survive the way your heart is exploding into teeny tiny little bits, there is an end.

Heartache only lasts for so long. I know this. I've lived it. I thought my heart would never heal. Even worse, I thought that once the pain stopped I would never again be able to feel. I was certain I would never be able to love anyone but my wonderful children. A part of me seemed to know that being shattered was like being Humpty Dumpty, and even if some master came along that knew how to put me back together, all of the pieces would never be found. But I was wrong. It took a long time, but I did get put back together.

And so will they.

I know that. I know that one day this will make them able to hurt for someone else, to be there for another person, the way I am trying to be there for both of them.

I just wish that they knew it too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

With a little help from my friends....

I had to leave the angst for a while. It was really starting to get to me. And all that dark tee time of the soul stuff? And the buried body? Just a little bit disturbing, even for me. I don't know where this woman is dragging me, but I almost think I need a bodyguard some days... This is a little bit lighter. And it's a very definite nod to some very special women, who, for reasons of National Sanity, shall remain nameless..... (I TOLD YOU I was going to put you in a book!)

I've never been one to make friends easily. The moving around I did as a kid made it very difficult to form lasting bonds with anyone. I was always "The New Girl", until I wasn't. But by that time, my mother had usually tired of the weather, the house, the job, or the man, and it was time to move on.

I learned to love books. And movies. Even soap operas. Those people were on every single day, no matter which city I found myself in at any given time. It was easy to keep track of them, and I never had to worry about if they'd be mad because I hadn't kept in touch. Of course, that made it difficult to borrow clothes from them. They didn't usually share. But it created a really rich life for me in my head, which was where I preferred to spend most of my time as a kid anyhow.

That all worked out pretty well for me for a while, until I realized that the people in books don't answer you back when you ask a question. And they can't hold you when you cry. And they NEVER help you actually bury the body.

So I had to find some new friends.

What I found instead was a sisterhood. A group of women that loved books as much as I did. They also loved talking about books as much as me. And they loved wine. And they were intelligent. And funny. And supportive. It was like nothing I'd ever experienced, and far beyond any of my expectations.

And those women? Well, all I know is that when I needed help, they didn't just offer to help me bury things.

They brought their own shovels.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A good man...

She seems to be feeling the tiniest bit mercenary today. But I understand. Or at least I think I do. She was devastated. She was abandoned. And now she's adored. But there is a day coming when that might not be enough...

I only ever wanted a good man.

Ok, that's not true exactly.

I wanted a man that was good. At everything.

I wanted a man that would notice when I changed my hair. I wanted a man that would tell me I was beautiful in the morning, before I even brushed my teeth. I wanted a man that would hold me close in the middle of the night when the demons from my past threatened the peace of my sleep. I wanted a man that would be kind and decent to my children.

I wanted a man that would LOVE me.

It's funny, in all of my dreaming about this good man, I thought a lot about what he would do for me, how he would feel about me, how much he would care about me. I don't think I ever expected to find him, really.

I think I did that on purpose. I created this checklist in my head of all of the traits that I was sure that no single man could possibly have. I wanted him tall, but not too tall. I wanted him to have a killer smile. I wanted him to hold doors and carry heavy things and never curse around me. I wanted him to want me with a longing and a fierceness that was so intense, so overpowering, it would never stop. I wanted him to feel about me the way I'd once felt about someone else.

I think part of it was self-protection. If I wanted all of that, and nobody could possibly be all of that, then I wouldn't ever fall in love again. I was safe. I could stay buried deep inside of myself, and never have to risk hurting again.

Then a very good man walked into my life.

He was everything I'd always dreamed of. And more. He was handsome, and kind, and chivalrous. He was gentle with animals and so loving with my kids. And he adored me. Totally worshiped me. It was charming.

Funny thing that.

In all of the years that I'd dreamed about that good man, one thing never occured to me. See, for all of those years, I'd buried myself deep inside of me. I'd hidden my heart from the world, from every single soul on earth except my children. I never wanted to feel the pain of abuse, the agony of watching the person I loved walk away from me. I'd made two very bad choices. One of them had almost killed my body. The other one had almost murdered my soul.

In all of the years that I'd dreamed about a good man, I'd forgotten about one thing.

If I didn't give him my heart, I'd never be able to love him back.

Did I even want to try?

Or was it enough just to live with his devotion?

Didn't I, for once in my life, deserve to be the one that was adored?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One Moment

Ok, check it out. Another journal entry for those of you that keep showing up here every day. Maybe you weren't quite expecting this after some of the rest that you've read? And PLEASE don't forget to leave me a comment. Tell me what you think!!! (I know some of you are sneaking in, thinking I don't notice. Oh, but I do. I DO notice. And I just want to hear what you have to say...)

Someone recently asked me "If there was one thing you could do over again, one decision that you were allowed to make differently, one thing you could go back and change in your life, what would it be?"

I took a moment to pause and actually consider my answer.

There have been many things, many decisions, many moments, that have defined me. I can look back at my life and see many times where I could have chosen a different path, and that would have drastically changed my life. Some of those changes would have been for the better. Some would not have been so good.

But one? Just one moment?

Would I change the first time I said "I do"? Oh, that would have been an interesting one to undo. If I hadn't made that pledge, I would have saved myself years of heartache, broken bones, tragedy. That would be a good thing to change.

Would I change giving my whole heart away without getting anything in return? If I had only held onto my heart, I might have stayed whole. It would have saved me years of questioning myself, my choices, my very sanity.

Would I change letting myself love again? If I had only held back, kept those feelings from coming to fruition, it would have kept me safe. I would be lonely still, but my heart would never again have the chance to shatter.

Would I change a word I said or a deed I did? There are many that I've second guessed over the years - lies I've told that have come back to haunt me, people I've hurt that didn't deserve that pain.

Any of those would perhaps be a good start. If I could, I might consider making one of those changes.

But the change I'd like most to make if I could?

Really, that didn't take long at all for me to decide, though I never said it aloud to my friend. If I could have but one chance to do one thing a little bit different than I did it the first time, do you know what I'd do?

I'd bury that body a little bit deeper.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Another Kind of Love...

So this is my reward. I made a promise that I would work on that other story for a while this weekend. I did. And now I get to share another new page from the journal. As you may know, the journal is the jumping off point for each chapter. They are not necessarily in any order yet. But the chapters that follow these entries are strong. I've been tinkering with the entries in 1st and the actual chapters in 3rd. I haven't decided if I like it that way or not. We'll see. For now, just tell me if you're enjoying the journals...

There was a time that my life was my own. I can vaguely recall feeling free. Free to walk around the house in nothing but my tank top and panties. Free to stay up late reading books about far off places. Free to hop in my little car and drive for hours. Hours upon hours upon hours. Even pick up a hitchhiker. Without a destination in mind. Knowing that nobody, except maybe my boyfriend, would wonder where I was. Free.

It was exhilarating.

The day I learned I was going to be a Mom, all of that changed.

I knew that my life was no longer going to be my own. I knew that my midnight drives, the long hours that I spent searching for...something, I knew those times were over. I knew that I would need to sleep more, and that late nights with my dream men in books would be a thing of the past. I knew that my wardrobe of lovely summer dresses and luscious shoes would be replaced with jeans and t-shirts stained with snot and drool.

I knew the freedom was over.

I knew all of that the second time I learned I was going to be a mom as well. And I also knew it would be harder. My daughter? She was easy. Charming and wonderful, bright and smart. I knew it would be much more difficult the second time around.

What I didn't know? Oh, what I didn't know could fill an ocean.

I didn't know that the way my son gazed up at me while he nursed, the way he curled his fingers around mine, the way he smiled when I whispered into his ear.. I didn't know that those things would become my passion. I had no way of knowing that hearing him cry out in the middle of the night would stop my heart. Or that seeing his little face scrunched up from a bad dream, then relax into a grin at the sight, the mere sight, of me would rev my heart into overdrive.

I knew I would love my child. I knew that deep down in my bones from the first minute, the very first second, I knew of his existence.

But I didn't know that love would be so all consuming. I didn't know that love would swallow me whole, hold me hostage, threaten to make every other thing in my life mean nothing.

You see, I'd loved before. Or thought I had. And that love had almost destroyed me. It had ripped my heart from my chest as I stood there watching a piece of me lie mangled in the sand, near the beach where it was born. My heart was shattered. I thought it would never be able to love again, watching the man that I loved walk away from me, far away, into the arms of another. I stood there, wrapping my arms around myself, promising to love and to protect my child from ever having to feel that kind of pain - the pain of rejection. I hoped that my child would never love anyone as much as I'd loved that man, so that my baby would never have to feel the pain that wracked my body.

But that love was nothing compared to the love I felt every time I gazed into the eyes of my son.

That's how I knew I was in trouble. Once you love like that, and lose like that, you begin to harden yourself. I did that. I hardened myself. I built an enormous fortress around my heart, I walled in my soul. The only people allowed entrance were my children. They were the holders of the keys to my heart, the carriers of the lock to my soul.

And what I had done, that one little lie that I told all those years ago, was going to destroy them.

I could feel it already. I could feel the walls starting to crumble. I could feel my fortress eroding from the inside out.

All it had taken was an e-mail. One short message. Just a few words. "It has come to my attention that there are things we need to discuss. Call me."

It was starting. It would happen soon. And when it did, there would be nothing left of me or the life I'd worked so hard to build.

That's the way it is with love sometimes.

It can build you up, make you feel strong, convince you that you are invincible.

It can destroy you.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Power of Love

Back to the new story...
I think she's going to ask questions, then answer them herself. And each answer that she gives to a specific question will reveal a little bit more about herself. It will lead into the next chapter, if you will.

These have been really great jumping off points for me. The chapters that I've written to go with the few that I've posted here have been pretty cool.
It's just very difficult for me to write in 1st. I don't know that I'm all that comfortable actually being INSIDE of her head all the time. I don't know how you do it, Kris! This is rougher for me than anything else I've ever written.

How strong is love? I've always heard it was the most powerful force in the world. It's supposed to be able to heal people, and bring happiness, and all sorts of other wonderful things. But does it?

In my experience, the Power of Love is directly proportional to how that love is received, how it is nurtured, how it is cherished.

I've loved.

I loved so much, so strong, that I thought there was nothing that couldn't be done. With the force of my feelings, I should have been able to leap tall buildings and cure world hunger. I loved with the strength to move mountains. I loved with the depth to rival oceans.

I loved purely, with no expectations.

That was my mistake.

Giving love freely is wonderful. It was my way of saying "Hey, I'm here. You can have me. All of me. Every last piece and particle of my being is yours. I want you to have everything that I am." It was exhilarating. For a season.

I didn't love to be loved in return. There wasn't a price on my love, or an expectation. I didn't love with any strings.

The problem for me was that the love was not reciprocated. It was one sided. It was unrequited. My love, in all of its power and passion, all of its strength and purity, was never returned.

It was so strong that I was sure that it would be recognized. I was positive that one day, I would have all of that energy, that passion, that soul-wrenching beauty, directed back towards me.

When you love like I did, fiercely and forcefully and without reservations, it can be poetry in motion.

When you love like I did, it can almost kill you.

Friday, September 04, 2009


I'm taking a break from the internal monologues to tell you about our trip to MARGARITAVILLE last night. I'll pick up with more of the new story sometime next week. Stay tuned!

My husband doesn't like concerts. He enjoys music, he really does. But he's just not into concerts. So when he got me tickets to see JIMMY BUFFETT for Valentine's Day, I was shocked. In a strange twist that usually only happens in the movies, we both ended up buying tickets. We had quite a few tickets, and were able to bring some friends with us. I'm including some pics of the evening, for your enjoyment.

Me and my studly son, hanging out at the concert...

Michael and Hannah, looking for a lost shaker of salt. (WHAT SALT?!?)

Who's the man? Michael is the Man. Just ask him. :)

Steve and Mary Jo, enjoying a moment...

Michael, at the after-party at IHOP. He's seriously contemplating the menu at 2am.

Shane, before getting changed. After the concert, he displayed his ever-present chivalrous side when he escorted two rather inebriated co-eds back to their vehicle. One of them was falling down drunk. The other was royally ticked that they'd lost their car, and their boyfriends. My Hero made sure they found both the boyfriends and the car safely. Things like that are why he's my very favorite man in the entire world...

The music was great. The company was even better! And a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Reinventing The Truth

The more I think about this story, the more I like the idea of each chapter starting as a Journal entry. I don't know exactly how that will work yet, but I'm mulling it over. That serves a few purposes for me. First, it gives me a jumping off point for every chapter. I like that. Second, it gives you (the reader) a chance to peek inside her head. Still things to consider though. Let's just see how it goes...
Oh, and how do you like the title? For now, I really like it. It perfectly describes what she does. She reinvents the truth to serve her purpose. She's not exactly a heroine, is she?
You be the judge...

I expect people to act a certain way, and I'm generally astounded when they veer off the script that I've written for them in my head. I simply can not understand how people go so far off course. Those are the days that I reinvent the most.

If someone says "I'll think about it," that gets a reinvention. In my head, they are actually saying "Well, since you do know best, you just tell me which choice I should make, ok?" So I generally do.

If words such as "I'm just not sure" happen to pass their lips, that's usually reinvented as "I will, of course, bow to your expert knowledge on this one".

It's not something that I do maliciously. It's never intended as a mean thing. I just want people to stick with the script. I want my life to go exactly the way I want my life to go. It would be so much easier if people just played along. Then I wouldn't have to be constantly reinventing the truth.

Sometimes though, I even amaze myself with the lengths I will go to in order to make things go the way I want them to go.

For instance, I still am not sure how I reinvented "I love her and I'm going to marry her" into "This is something that I have to do, please try to understand, but you're the one I'm going to think about for the next 50 years."

Wishful thinking?

No, I don't think so.

Some days, I think the worst lies that I tell are to myself.

Dancing around the Truth

Char said keep going.
This is an internal monologue, something that won't ever make it into the book. But it reveals quite a bit about the character of my girl, don't you think?
This one seems to be slipping out in 1st, which I'm not all that comfortable with, especially since so much of her history shadows mine in very obvious ways. She's not me, though. She's full of darkness and regret over decisions she's made. She hasn't found her happily ever after. And I'm not sure if she will. But I do know that she's very strong. And she does what she thinks she has to do in order to protect the people that she loves. And really? That's just like me...

How many levels of Truth do you have in your life? How many layers of Reality do you allow to exist in your world at one time? Do they ever get out of hand? Does one part of your life, maybe a part that you stuck in a duct-taped box on the top shelf of your closet, ever threaten to jump off the shelf and insist that you pay attention NOW?

In my life, I have, probably much like most of you, done things of which I am not particularly proud. I have lied. I have kept the truth from people. I have danced around the truth in action, in word. While doing those things, I firmly believed it was the right thing to do.

I once told my brother, after yet another move to another new city that included another new dad, that everything was going to be ok. It wasn't. I knew that. My mom was nuts, and I knew that that city, that school, that house, that dad, wasn't going to last til the end of the year. But I held his hand while we walked into yet another first day of school, and I squeezed his fingers in mine, and I told him that it was going to be all right. I lied. I knew then that I was lying. But I did it anyway. I justified it by telling myself that he needed to hear those words to get through the day. I told myself it was ok to tell that lie, because he was young and scared and he needed me to reassure him. So I did it. I lied.

I once told my daughter, the beautiful girl that brought light and sunshine to my world and taught me to be a mom, that we would be just fine. My husband had left me, bruised and battered, on a small island far from family and friends. I held that baby close and whispered that we were going to be just fine. I knew it was a lie. Nothing was fine, and I had no idea how to make things fine. But I told her that anyway. She was just a baby, and she needed to hear soft words to help her sleep. So I did it. I lied.

Those weren't bad lies. They were necessary. They were the right words to say at the time, and I said them, in order to spare feelings or help boost someone's spirits. I'd say them again if I was ever in the same situation.

Does that make me a horrible person?

I never thought so. Until one of my lies, one of the ones that just slipped out of my mouth sitting on my couch one day, came back to haunt me.

It was such a simple little thing, not even a lie, really. Someone asked me a question. Instead of answering the question directly, I side-stepped. I answered it in a way that gave the person the answer he wanted to hear, without actually giving him an answer. It was the right thing to do. It was the best thing to do at the time.

Was that wrong?

I never thought so.

Until today.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Trying something new

Some of you might think this is my autobiography.
Some of you might believe it has something to do with me.
Some of you might suspect it is the very beginning of a new story that just gripped me today.
Some of you might be right.

Sometimes I wonder how I could have screwed up my life so much.

I don’t think it was always screwed up. For a while it seemed ok. When I was young. Very young. But even then, there was the hint that I would one day make a spectacular mess of everything connected to me and my crazy life.

My mother was bipolar. That’s not an excuse for my behavior. But it is an explanation for hers. I didn’t know what bipolar was when I was a kid. All I knew was that my mom went through these crazy highs and scary lows. When she was up, everything was good. When she started heading down, the world was about to change for me in a major way.

I went to 27 different schools when I was a child. I lived in 7 different states, and in 2 different countries. We moved a lot because every new place was a new life for my mother. Every new city was a brand new adventure. Usually that meant a brand new man, but sometimes that was ok too. In addition to the number of schools, the various states and countries, I also had 7 step-fathers. Yes, I said 7. Mom was married to 8 different men.

Growing up, all I knew was that I didn’t want to be like her. I knew that I wanted to get married once. I wanted to have 3 children. I wanted to fall in love desperately and forever. I wanted to live somewhere close to the ocean, in a little place where I could hear waves lapping at the sand. I wanted to be happy.

I wanted to be sane.

I couldn’t be farther from the things that I wanted if I tried.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Which one?

I was recently told that one of my kids looks JUST LIKE ME. Can you believe that? Yeah, me neither.

Guess which one is supposed to be my match?

All comments are appreciated!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Love in the Movies...

I'm writing a book. Most of you know this already, right? If you didn't before, you sure do now.

My book is all about a Southern Woman. She's got a very large, very extensive family. She's got a (recently deceased) great-grandmother. She's got a very much alive and kicking Grandmother. She's got a mother that is very involved in her business. She's got a best friend that isn't afraid to tell her (or anyone else) what's what and who's who.

And she's got a man.

Of course, at the beginning of the story, she doesn't have a man. She has the memory of a man. She can still smell the essence of the man in her dreams. She can still feel his touch, hear his voice, picture his face every time she closes her eyes. She will end up with this man, of course. That is the nature of love in books. At least the books that I enjoy. The strong (we're talking strong as steel here!) woman ALWAYS ends up with the man, if that's what she wants. That's just the way of it in books. And movies.

Tonight, I walked down Memory Lane with a movie. I watched one of my stellar favorites from the early '90's- REALITY BITES. I can remember spending night after night on my couch watching this movie. I would lick my lips when Ethan Hawke appeared. I would hang on his every word. When he was in bed with Winona Ryder's character and he whispers "I've pictured you like this" I would always sigh. When he shows up at her house, 2 minutes from the end, and explains about the regret that is sitting on his shoulders, and how he wishes he could go back to "that night we made love" and do everything over... oh yes - even after all these years - my breath still catches in my chest, and my eyes still well up with tears.

That led me to think about love in books, and in the movies. It's AMAZING, isn't it? I mean, there is a slow build up, something MAJOR happens, something BAD happens, then the hero swoops in and says THE PERFECT WORDS (whether that be something like "We'll always have Paris" or "I was stuck in traffic", it doesn't matter!), and they live Happily Ever After. That's how it's supposed to be. Isn't it?

But is that how it is In Real Life? I mean, does the heroine always get her man? Does she end up with The Love Of Her Life every time? Does everyone get The Big Romantic Moment, just like in the movies?

You might say no. You might think that nobody really gets that. You might believe that the fairy tale is just a fairy tale, and fantasy never happens in real life.

I beg to differ.

I believe, without hesitation, without doubt of any kind, that we all - each and every one of us, has had (or will have) one of those perfect movie moments at one time or another.

Don't believe me? Think about it.

For me, that moment happened years ago. I was on a ship. I'd been in a not so pleasant marriage, and an even more unpleasant rebound relationship. In between those two, I thought I'd found The Man Of My Dreams. But he either didn't want to be TMOMD or didn't realize that he wasn't following the movie script that was already written in my head. He left me. Destroyed.

Enter The Other Guy.

He was younger. He was sexy in a way that I'd never really been attracted to before. He was kind. He was a little bit cocky. He swaggered in a James Dean sort of way when he went from place to place. He could power a small town with the magnitude of his smile.

I wasn't supposed to fall for him. I decided early on that he would be just a fling, someone that would take my mind off my heartache. Little did I know...

My fall from "aloof older woman with a heart of stone" was gradual. Just like in the books. Very much like in the movies. It was subtle - a touch here, a smoldering glance there, laughs over silly things, a shoulder to cry on when I needed it. I did NOT want to fall in love with this man. He wasn't what I had in mind. At all. The very real obstacles to a happy relationship were like HUGE blinking road lights warning "CAUTION! Don't go this way! The bridge is OUT!!"

Of course, like with all the best romances, I didn't heed the warnings.

And one night, in a scene that could easily have been taken from one of my favorite movies, IT happened. We were in the middle of the Persian Gulf. Planes were taking off from the carrier all night long. We'd been on watch for hours, and knew that we had many more hours to go before we could even think about sleeping. Our country was at war, undeclared though it was. We were both in jobs that required our total attention. If we failed, bad things would happen to innocent people. And yet, on that night, it was something that even Hollywood would envy.

He just grabbed my hand, pulled me around, and right there, in the middle of the p-way, asked me to marry him. 1210am, December 17th. I was too shocked to speak. But not too shocked to know that moments like that didn't happen often.

It was something straight out of the pages of a romance novel, and it happened to ME. It would make the PERFECT climactic scene in a movie - BUT IT HAPPENED TO ME!

I've asked friends about this. I've done hundreds of hours of research on this topic. I've re-lived my own experience more times than I can count. And still it boils down to this...

Love in the Movies? It's got nothing - NOTHING - on love in real life.

Practically everyone has their moment like this. Just about every person I know has a story that is worthy of Hollywood or Harlequin.

So for those of you out there that haven't had That Perfect Moment yet - don't despair.

Chances are, it will also happen to you.

And when it does?

It will be even better than that final few seconds of your favorite love story.

I promise.

And even Ethan Hawke couldn't make it more perfect when it does.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Body of Friends

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately - what it means to be a friend, what is acceptable from a friend, what is forgivable, why we need friends. I gotta tell ya, some of it just baffles me. But I'm just going to let my mind wander with this and see where it goes.

I didn't have many real friends growing up. When you change schools 26 times in 12 years, it tends to prohibit the kind of lifelong relationships that you read about in Oprah books. It did not, however, stop me from making many 'skin' friends.

Skin friends are fun. They are easy to deal with. Everything is light and fluffy with them. They are good for laughs, trips to the mall, out for lunch, drinks after work, that sort of thing. You keep the information general, and the feelings very uninvolved. You probably have quite a few of those, don't you? Lord knows I've made my fair share through the years.

But you can't live with just skin friends if you're a mom. Or a wife. Or a real person, evidently. You have to go a step further. For that, you need a layered friend. These are the ones that can do everything a skin friend will do, but they might also come hang out with you if you don't feel like hitting the club. They might even stay after a party to help you clean up. They're really great to have in abundance, but I'm not lucky enough to have too many at once.

Next, there are tissue friends. These are the ones that will hold you when you cry, come over when you're sick, slit the tires on your cheating boyfriends car. These people are the ones that hand you the tissues, or even help you wipe the tears from your face. It takes a while to make a friend like this. But once you have one, you know she'll be around for quite a while.

You might just be lucky enough to have a blood friend. If so, she's probably either helped you deliver a baby or dig a hole for a dead body. Either way, she knows your secrets, and you know those secrets are safe with her.

Then there is the friend of the heart. You probably will only have one of these at a time, because really you don't need more than one. Plus, having more than one person that is that intimate with your life is a little bit scary. These friends know all there is to know, from where the bodies are buried to how good your last kiss was, and everything in between. This is the person that you tell about that really nice man in line at the grocery store who gave you "the eye" and she won't judge you, even though she adores your husband, because she knows how much you needed that ego boost from a stranger. She doesn't care if you call her at 2am and cry that you're fat, even if you happen to be eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's at the time. She won't chastise you for that slip-up you had eight years ago on the crazy mommy weekend to the coast. She's the one you call when your dog bites the neighbors kid (poor baby), or your Grams dies (needed hugs), or your kid has lice, or your rent check bounces. She's also the one that is the most LOW MAINTENANCE of all of your friends, because she accepts you just as you are, with all of your flaws and split ends, with a runny nose or ripped jeans, no makeup, hungover, or still slightly tipsy. It doesn't matter to her, because you are you, and she's ok with that. You may talk to her every single day, but that isn't necessary. You might only talk to her once a year, but you know that when you speak again, it will be just like the last time. She can still finish your sentences. She can still read your thoughts. She still remembers why you obsess over that man (chocolate chip cookies?), or love that restaurant (blue corn tortillas), or will always smile when you hear that song (by the Cranberries).

I am blessed to have all sorts of friends now. I've got skin friends, too many to count. I've also got quite a few layered friends - I couldn't make it through the day without them. As for blood friends and heart friends, frankly, I don't know what I'd do without people like Kristan and Kelly in my life. As friends go, one is old (she baked a cake for Gret's 2nd birthday, so she's been with me a while!) and the other is new (if you consider 3 years new, which I do when you are talking about the level of friendship that we already have). But both are tried and true.

Do you have people that comprise your body of friends? Have you told them lately how much they mean to you? Take it from me - saying that they are important to you really makes a difference. When you don't hear that, it's SO easy to feel taken advantage of.

So go ahead. Say the words. Tell them that you love them. Thank them for being part of your life. You'll feel better about it after the words are out, trust me.

And besides, you may need them to help you hide a body tomorrow!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

When is enough really enough? (Death of a "friendship")

Have you ever had a friend that was a TAKER? I don't mean someone that is going through a rough patch, someone that is sick, or broke, or down on their luck. I mean someone that just TAKES from you, over and over. Someone that empties your friendship bank time and again and does little, if anything, to refill it?

How long do you stay in that relationship before enough is enough?

I know I've had friends that have had boyfriends like that. You know the type? The guy that wants everything his way, all the time. The guy that insists on having his cake and eating it too. Heck, I've had boyfriends like that. I took the advice of my friends, and give the same advice to my friends - get rid of the bum. You (or I) am worth WAY more than the leftover scraps of affection that those guys occasionally toss our way.

So if I know that advice, and often give that advice, why do the rules change when it's a woman that treats you like crap? Is there some unwritten rule that we're supposed to accept that type of treatment from our friends, even though we'd ditch a guy that treated us the same way?

If a guy made plans with you, and then canceled those plans, you'd be upset. You'd probably forgive him though, the first time, wouldn't you? Would you tell your friend to forgive her guy? What if he canceled plans twice? Or three times? What if it seemed like every time you made plans to do something with the man you love, he forgot, or was sick, or was too busy, or something better came up, or he made other plans? How many times would you accept that from a man before you started to feel like he wasn't really invested in the relationship? Before you started feeling like he didn't care nearly as much as you? Before you told your friend in that same situation to ditch the bum, cut her losses, and just move on? Would once, four times, nine times, be enough?

I'm guessing you'd counsel her to move on before a year went by, wouldn't you? Would you be able to move on yourself?

But if it wasn't a guy that did that to you, but instead was someone that called herself one of your best friends - how long then?

How many times do you think you could hear "Oh honey, I'm sorry, I just forgot that we made plans" , or "Sweetie, I know I promised you months ago that we'd do this, but that was months ago, and I just didn't remember it today", or "I know we are supposed to go away for the weekend, but Susie Q couldn't get away that weekend, so I changed it. I'm sorry that it happens to be on the only weekend you told me that you couldn't make it, but I really want Susie Q to go with us too, ok?", or "I'm sorry, I just don't feel well enough to do this thing that I told you I'd do. I'm just going to stay home instead. But you can still come over. I asked Susie Q to come over too. It'll be fun, I promise", or "I can't believe you're upset that I made other plans on that day, even though I know I said I'd do that with you months ago, because the plans that I made are so much bigger and better than what we were supposed to do. How dare you be mad at me for that!"

How long do you listen to those excuses before you say "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"?

We're practically conditioned to accept crap from guys. From birth, we're brought up to be 'good girls', to do things that will make our men happy, to fulfill a role that was predetermined for us due to our lack of male parts. If we're lucky though, we find enough worth in ourselves, hopefully before we marry the wrong man, to realize that we don't have to take the crap forever. If we're really lucky, we find a friend or two that reminds us, sometimes over and over, that we are better than the jerk deserves, and we deserve more than scraps of affection.

But with our friends? Why does nobody step in with the women in our lives? Why are we supposed to just take it and take it, suck it up and pretend that it doesn't matter, that it doesn't hurt, that everything is ok?

Why do we take crap from our friends, the people that are supposed to have our very best interests at heart, the women that are supposed to help us make it in this world? We take it and take it, until we feel like we deserve nothing more. Until we believe that maybe all we're worth is leftover thoughts and affection and little tiny scraps of time.

I killed a friendship this weekend.

I'd probably feel really bad about that if I didn't feel so darned FREE. I mean, I've accepted scraps for so long. I've listened to the excuses, the never-ending litany of hastily blurted out reasons why plans were changed or canceled or forgotten. I've bent over backwards, so far back that I've almost broken a few times, for a person that couldn't be bothered to write plans down on a calendar, or check dates, or remember things. For a person that rarely returns phone calls, or e-mails. That puts her other friends ahead of me on a regular basis. I slept in this woman's house for days on end when her husband was out of town because she couldn't sleep well when he was away, even though my own family wanted me home. I sat with her when she cried, I arranged airline flights for a death in the family, I've watched kids at a moments notice, I held her when she was scared.

She's moved on with her life, found new friends, had some things go her way. I've rejoiced in her wins. But man, it's tough to always be on the outside. To be called only when there is a need. To not be invited to family events, and told that it was just a small thing, only her new friends were invited. To make plans and have them canceled - every single time.

I'd have told one of my girlfriends to ditch a guy that treated her this way YEARS ago. I've ditched guys for much less. But I stayed friends with this woman, and let her suck me dry, until I felt so worthless that it disgusts me to realize it.


Not anymore. I'm worth more than that.

And so are you. So if you've got a TAKER in your life, a friend that tosses those scraps at you, take a really long hard look at what you're getting out of the relationship. Do the boyfriend test. Ask yourself "If my best friend's guy treated her this way, what would I tell her to do?" And if the answer is "I'd tell her to ditch the bum!" then take your own advice. Get rid of the TAKER.

Take you life back.

The heartache that you feel over the loss of the supposed friendship is nothing compared to the relief you will feel when that person is no longer a part of your life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hoping for a Better Me

Being a woman in America, especially being a Southern woman in America, I've had this ongoing battle, with myself, about my health and my weight.

When I was a much younger woman, I had an incredible metabolism. I could eat most anything I wanted, as much as I wanted, and it hardly mattered. I would run an extra mile or so, do some extra situps, and not give it a second thought.

Fast forward a few years and more than a few kids, and the story is very different.

Never mind that I am no longer 18. Forget about the fact that I have physically given birth to the six most wonderful children ever born to any woman, anywhere. I can hardly even think about fries without packing on the pounds. God forbid I actually give in and eat them.

I've been up and down over the past almost decade, since getting out of the Navy took away my huge motivation to stay in shape. While in the service, I was forced to do regular exercise. I had to keep in shape, no excuses. It was required. If only I had kept to the regular exercise routine I'd established after a decade in uniform, things might be different.

But I didn't. Instead, I found out that I was being blessed with The Baby on almost the same day of my discharge from the service. I jumped into being a REAL MOMMY with both feet, and enjoyed every tasty treat I could see. I didn't worry overmuch about losing weight. I didn't worry at all. After being forced to maintain a certain fitness level for a decade, I reveled in my newfound freedom.

After giving birth to number 6, the pounds slowly melted off. I stress slowly. I was bummed at not bouncing back as fast as the other 5 times, so I asked The Man to do a Total Body Fitness Program with me. We did Body For Life. And it worked. I got healthy, and slim, and was really happy with myself.

Then my mom passed away, and I didn't have the energy for much except trying to go about life without my mother. My newly gained healthy habits slipped. I put on some weight. Then some more. Then even more.

It wasn't until I got back from a family vacation that I realized how much weight. I was looking at our vacation pictures and I couldn't believe the HUGE woman was me. It was eye-opening.

So I decided to get healthy again. I went back to BFL, exercised like a fiend, ate really healthy. It was awesome. I remember the morning that I made a 5 mile run. It was one of the proudest mornings of my life. That lasted about 6 months, until I started working full time at a restaurant.

I love my job, most days. I enjoy the people, most days. I find it challenging and stimulating, most days. But it is time consuming. And exhausting. By the time I finish work every day, I have no energy left over for the very expensive gym across the street.

I just don't have time. I don't have time to exercise. I don't have time to eat healthy. I don't have time for ME.

Until now.

I've taken a page from a fellow blogger and author, and I'm going to MAKE time.

I'm starting BetterU.

Wish me luck?

I'll Keep You Posted!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

There's a Mouse in my House

No, that's not me being figurative, or Seuss-y, or anything but very literal. I'm sitting in my chair, checking my e-mail, and watching him peak his little pointy mouse nose out of this space between the wall and the fireplace. He looks kinda cute, what with his lil nose and big mouse eyes. But really? He's a mouse. And he's in my house.

Are mice good for anything? If I don't get an answer in the affirmative, I will commence the buying of the traps first thing in the morning.

Of course, I'm home now. That's always a good thing. It's been a few days since my return, and I am rested enough to do a bit of a Top Ten run-down on Nationals. If you don't really care about that, then just clickety-click away from here now. If you do care, read on.

10. My roomie is vicious. Mean, even. And really should just get rid of whatever evidence she has that I snore. Because frankly, if you recorded me and it's pitch black and you can't see me, then really it doesn't count. I've consulted people about this, and they tell me that I'm correct. So don't think that you have a single thing to use as blackmail. Besides, I have pictures too!

9. The Marriot hotel is BIG. I think I may have stayed even on my weight (instead of the typical few extra pounds) just by the enormity of that hotel, and the fact that my room was in the old section, which added another mile to every trek.

8. My youngest girl child is a scam artist. I knew this one already, but watching her at the Literacy signing, where all she had to do was walk up to authors and stare pathetically at the chocolate to get a handful, really nailed it for me. She's going to be a grifter, I'm sure of it.

7. Pesto Ristorante is one of the very best undiscovered gems in the entire Metro DC area. If you're in the city and you don't go visit Vincenzo at Pesto, you are missing out. Be sure to get the boar sausage. Better yet, just put yourself in his very capable hands. You will not be disappointed.

6. Jade Lee does a fabulous workshop. I've never read any of her books, but she's a pretty darned good teacher. I didn't learn a whole lot that was "A-HA" new, but she said things that I already know in a way that reminded me how important those things really are. If she teaches at Nationals again, I will make sure to see her.

5. Jennifer Crusie has an amazing memory. After introducing her to my three younger girls, she met the older the next night. She actually remembered her from the other two times they've met. And she remembered a funny anecdote involving The Mans name. Plus, she's just so gracious. She's always a favorite!

4. Not all editors are scary people. I met one. I actually spoke with him and didn't immediatly barf. He was polite. He smiled. He very generously agreed to take a look at some of my book. It was a good experience.

3. Deeanne Gist is a dynamo of a woman. She is bubbly, energetic, friendly, and so dern nice. Plus, she's one heck of a writer! Who knew that the CBA had such wonderful writers? (Well, ok. I suspected. But actually meeting one of them was awesome!)

2. Being at Conference and still close to home was both a blessing and a curse. It was wonderful to be able to bring the girls to the Literacy signing. It was great to have Gret and The Man able to attend The Cherry Dinner. It was nice to be able to decide to leave early and just hop in the car and go. It was not, however, so great that the 52 mile trip back up there Friday morning after going to a funeral took 3 hours. Nor was it fun. Of course, that may have had something to do with being at the funeral in the first place - another thing I couldn't have done had the Conference been away.

And the Number one thing I learned this year at RWA Nationals...

1. Sharing a room with a Rita award winner is exhausting. I truly think she works as hard at Conference as she does while writing. But beyond the work there are perks. For instance, the lovely ladies in the suite next to our room slipped a note under our door inviting us to have a glass of wine. That wouldn't have happened had I been there alone.

All in all, this year was good. It wasn't terrifying like Dallas. It wasn't exhilarating like San Fran. Then again, this was neither my first year, nor was it the year that my roomie was up for an award. So. It was good.

And that's enough.

I'm already looking forward to next year, in Nashville. And the year after that, in NYC. Beyond that, I'll have to check my calendar. :)

I'll Keep You Posted!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday and Goodbye!

I can't talk all that much about Friday, because I didn't spend much of it at the Conference.

I had to go home yesterday to say goodbye to a very beloved friend. It sucked. I'll talk about that later, when I know that people won't be stopping in here to see how things are going on at Nationals. Be patient.

I did manage to make it to a few book signings, and that was cool. I got another JD Robb book for my boss, Rick. No matter where I see her, she always looks so gracious. -------------->

I also went to the Harlequin party. At the Ritz Carlton. Yes, I know that I don't write for Harlequin. Yet. But my roomie does, and she was kind enough to let me tag along. I'm adding just a few seconds of video that I took there. (By the way, THANKS to The Man for insisting that I get a new phone, and then hand delivering and installing a HUGE memory card it in for me the other day, so I could do videos and take lots of pictures. He is, as always, my True Hero!!)

Nora danced at the party. As did many others. Including yours truly. Then we went upstairs to the bar to get some food, because only dessert was available at the party and Kristan and I were both starved. On the way up the stairs, we joked about finding some cute guy to buy us drinks and food, since we were dressed and looking very much like the hot chicks that we don't often get to be in our Mommy lives. So of course, we run into an incredibly-past-the-legal-limit man at the bar that accosts us and slobbers on us, and at one point actually slaps my arm. We went to a table, and he was escorted to the elevators. We won't ever make jokes about things like that again. I will, however, make sure that scene ends up in a book, as it was very amusing in retrospect. Not so much while it was happening though.

When we got back to the hotel, we spent a few hours in our room, in our jammies, just talking. I can't describe how cool it is to get to hang around with this up and coming rock star of the romance world. But it's even more cool that we get each other. And when the door closes at the end of the night, when the makeup washes down the drain and the ankle killing FMPs have been stashed in the closet, we get to talk like the old friends that three years of conference and countless e-mails has made us.

I head home today. I'll blog more from there. But this has been a great week, and I thank all of you that stopped in to see what I was doing. I hope you were at least a little entertained!

I'll Keep You Posted (but from Virginia next time!)!!

Nationals Checklist, and a few other things...

I'll start with the Cherry Dinner, because I told you that I would.

The event was Thursday night. We went to Pesto, down the street from the hotel. Unlike previous Cherry gatherings, I had a vested interest in this one - I actually picked the place. The Man and I came up about a month or so ago and had dinner here, just to check out the menu and the setting. We loved putting ourselves into the very capable hands of Vincenzo, and he did not disappoint.

Still, on the eve of the Dinner, I was a tad bit on the nervous side.

I shouldn't have worried.

Gret and The Man walked up to the restaurant with me a little early, because I wanted to make sure that everything was set up and Vincenzo hadn't forgotten about us. I have no idea why I ever doubted Vincenzo. Everything was perfect, and he was waiting.

We had our own waitress, our own room, our own menu, and it was awesome. Jill had make your own nametags, complete with stickers to indicate if you were a Reader, a Writer, a Cherry, or a Wiffer (Will Write For Wine website and podcast). This is the nametag, mirrored -------------->

There were MANY Cherries in attendance. While I saw them all, I didn't actually speak to them all. But I did get lots of hugs from Jill and Corrina. I chatted with Orangehands! I also spent some really soul soothing time with my friend Robin (RSS). No matter how crazy I get sometimes, or how horrible I often am in the friend department ( frankly, I suck sometimes, but that is a whole OTHER post, that is already filling my head), Robin still opens up her arms and just hugs me. She really has no idea how much her constant, unwavering friendship means to me, and I take her for granted so often. But she is a stable force in my life, and the Cherry Dinner helped me reconnect with her. It was lovely!

Also lovely was sitting at the table between two of my favorite people (Gret and The Man), sampling the terrific food, sipping the glorious wine, and just being around people that share so many of my interests and passions.

Then The Cherry walked in. And the only open seat was at our table. So she sat. Wow.

Now, I've met her before. Many times in fact. And still, I get that heartbeat split second of "OH. MY. GOD. Jennifer-freaking-Crusie is right in front of me!!" And then I remember to breather, because air is good for the lungs and it would be mortifying to pass out in front of her. She smiled at me, then turned to Gret and gasped at how much she's grown. And she told The Man a funny story about being on book tour with Bob and Bob forgetting that The Man shares a name with one of their Heroes. It was a story that The Man had heard from me, but it was so cool to know that SHE remembered it as well. She really is a very gracious lady.

Then Kristan showed up. At that point, I went through that mental checklist of "Is this really my life?" that I often finding myself doing at Nationals. Do you know that checklist? Here's a sample:
- Am I really staying in a fabulous city?
- Am I really spending a week in a hotel that normally costs $1000 per night?
- Am I really rooming with a best selling, RITA award winning author?
- Am I really at a Zagat rated Metro restaurant, eating amazing food prepared by the world's most charming Italian man?
- Am I really sitting across the table from the NYT bestselling author whose fan group convinced me to actually give my dream a shot?
- Am I really still asking myself these questions, or will I finally one day believe that this is all happening to me?

So Thursday was over the top, and will be the fodder for many a blog in weeks to come. I hope you're enjoying this!

I'll Keep You Posted!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ahhh... The Cherries!

I have much to say about the Cherry Dinner. I'll tell you about the food. I'll tell you about Vincenzo. I'll tell you about the visit from The Cherry. I'll even tell you about the awesome invitation left under our door and the Cherry AfterParty.
But I'm not going to tell you about it tonight.
Because hey - it's 1 AM. And I'm a little bit tired.
And I have to be on the Metro EARLY tomorrow morning, so I can head home to say a final goodbye to a very dear friend.
So I WILL tell you about all of the wonderful things that happened tonight. I will. I really will.
But not tonight.
Tonight, I must sleep.
Besides, you can wait til the morning. Can't you?

But this ---------->
This is Corrina. And she's a Cherry. And she rocks.
More pics will follow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Anne Stuart is just...

I actually spent the afternoon in Workshops. It was... fun.

I went to see Susan Egan, who talked about her job working with ICE. This was a fascinating workshop for me, as The Man is also working for ICE. I think I mentioned that I have no clue what he does. Well, technically that's not totally true. I know that he does some sort of computer security stuff for them. He's one of those technical wizards, and he's brilliant. No, I'm not just saying that because he's The Man. He really is. And Ms. Egan talked a lot about her personal experiences with the country's second largest law enforcement agency. She was informative, and entertaining. She also spoke really fast. And really - I still have no freakin' clue what The Man does. :)

I also went to see Anne Stuart, who spoke on Writing Dark Love Stories. As a writer of what will hopefully be pretty dark stuff, I wanted to get the inside scoop from a Master. She didn't let me down. She also re-iterated advice I've heard before. She said that you have to figure out the one thing your character would never do. Then you make them do it. For instance, if your heroine is afraid of guns and abhors violence, by the end of the story, she MUST kill someone in a very violent way. My job as a writer is figuring out what she would never do, and then putting her in a situation where she has to do it.

Like I said, I've heard that before. That's something I remember from my very first conference, in New Jersey a few years back. Eloisa James said that in romance, you must figure out the one obstacle that your couple could never overcome, then put them in that situation and have them find their way back to each other. It's usually called The Black Moment, and if you look for it, you will find it in every single book that you LOVE. It's there, trust me.

You want examples? Leave me a comment and I'll show you from a few of my favorite books.

Now it's time to relax in the room for just a bit. I have to change clothes. I have to e-mail Jill to find out where/when people are meeting for the Cherry Dinner. I have to pass that info on to RSS and OrangeHands so they can join me at the dinner. I have to change clothes. I have to walk a block to Pesto and make sure that Vincenzo remembers we are coming tonight.

So much for downtime.

I'll take pics at the Cherry Dinner, since it will be so many of my favorite people - including The Man and The Oldest Girl Child (aka - the one that got books for me while I was sitting at the feet of Anne Stuart).

I'll Keep You Posted!

The Keeper of The Nuts...

Linda Howard is an amazing woman. Cows and hay bailing aside, she finds the time to write some fantastic books. From her telling of it, finding the time isn't always easy, since she lives in a house full of crazies.

Does it sometimes feel like that for you? I know it does for me. I adore all six of my perfectly wonderful children. I couldn't write a better husband than the one that I am blessed to have. But really? Some days, it feels like I am the lone beacon of sanity in my otherwise crazy house.

Because really, is it so hard to do dishes? Or put things back where you found them? Or fold your clothes once in a while?

But then other days, like today, I remember something else.

In the midst of the craziness, one of my children will rub my feet. Or fix me The Perfect Cup of Coffee. Or my husband will install something incredible in the house or on my computer. Someone will hold my hand, or crawl into my lap, or just lean over and whisper "I LOVE YOU" in my ear.

On days like that, no matter that the dishes aren't done, or laundry has literally taken over the basement, I can't stop smiling.

And always, Always, I am encouraged to WRITE.

So I will follow Ms. Howard's advice, and just Hang In There. With my head staring down at my keyboard, I may not even notice the dishes. :)

Oldest Girl Child arrived today. She rode the subway from Chinatown to here. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life! When I met her, she said she'd have liked to stay down there all day, just to people watch. It amazes me sometimes that she's not a writer.

We had lunch, listened to the Very Inspirational Keynote, and are now chilling int he room. I'm off to hear a Workshop on I.C.E., since that is where The Man is currently working. I want to get the inside scoop on his job, since he can't tell me a darned thing. After that, I'm headed (quickly) to the Avon signing, then to hear Sister Krissie talk about dark heroes. Ooh la la.

I'll Keep You Posted!

She was a used car salesperson!

It's not often that something that someone says at one of these conferences really blows me away. Yes, I sometimes get blown away just being in the presence of greatness (witness my FanGirlSqueeMoment the first time I met Jenny Crusie - and every time thereafter!), but I rarely hear something that just makes me .

This morning, at the Opening Ceremony, I had one of those moments.

Janet Evanovich spoke.

Wow, did she speak. She answered questions about things from her writing process to when she sold her first book. She's a NYT Bestseller, right? She's won awards, made a pile of cash, been interviewed for the Today show, etc. She was funny and engaging.

She was also honest.

It took her 10 years to sell her first book.

Let me repeat that. It took Janet Evanovich, writer of the world famous Stephanie Plum series, TEN FREAKING YEARS to get published the first time. Her first book sold for $2000.

After going at this for a few years, finishing one book and starting another, it has gotten to be discouraging. I sometimes feel like it will NEVER happen.

But today, I learned that I have something in common with someone that has made it to THAT level - we both have families that believe in our ability to achieve our dream.

Without getting all sappy here about my great group of kids and my amazingly supportive husband, it was nice to know that the thing that kept her going is the same thing that keeps me going - the people that love me.

Thanks, Janet. That was an hour well spent.

Catching up on Nationals...

It is Day One. Or Day Three, depending on when people arrived. The Conference "officially" opens today, with the big breakfast featuring superstar Janet Evanovich. That's followed by the kickoff luncheon, featuring superstar Linda Howard. And already, I'm exhausted.

The hotel is beautiful, as most RWA Conference hotels seem to be. Major complaints seem to be that it is very spread out, meaning that I'll be walking MILES every day just to attend workshops. Plus, the Adams Morgan district is one of THE most expensive districts in DC. While it doesn't matter to some people, price is really an issue to some of us as yet unpublished struggling writers. It's costing almost as much to park and get internet as it is for the room. And let's not even talk about the $16 sandwiches. Ouch.

On a happier note, the Literacy Signing last night was AMAZING!! Just the sheer size of the room and the amount of people there was overwhelming. Living so close, I brought a few of the girls up with me for the day, and they attended the signing last night. Jordan wandered around by herself for a while, just taking it all in. Maggie stayed close to me most of the night, asking about different writers, if I knew them, what there books were like. I told her that one day she would be signing her own books at a table just like the ones we saw. We could be sitting next to each other. :) Emile, the little scammer, raised snatching candy and tchotchkes to an art form.

The girls got to meet many of the women that write the stories that litter my house. I took them by personal faves like Karen White and Diana Holquist, and they exclaimed over the bookcovers that they see beside my bed. They got to meet La Nora when we got a book signed for my boss. I introduced them briefly to one of my favorites from past conferences, Victoria Alexander.

And of course, they got to meet The Cherry. Yes, they got to stand in the presence of Jenny Crusie, and they were in awe. Of course, Jen was ever so gracious, and even took a picture with them. I can only imagine that Maggie will want to have a copy of that picture to put on her wall. My Blackberry is acting up right now, but as soon as it's working again I will post that pic as well. <--- I got it figured out. Bluetooth is such a cool thing!

Gret will be up here later today. She is riding the Metro alone for the first time. Can you believe that she is 17?!? Yeah, neither can I. She's hanging out with me today, joining me at the Cherry Dinner tonight, and heading home tomorrow. I'm so thrilled that she's going to get to share some of this with me!

This morning, I'm staying close to the room, waiting for Gret to arrive. Then heading to the luncheon. Hopefully I'll see Kristan there. That woman is busier than anything I've seen!

I'll be taking lots of pics, but I'm not sure if I can get them to Blogger yet. I'm still trying to figure out the whole transfer from B.B. to Mac thing. We'll see how well it goes. Otherwise, I'll just do the best I can and add pics when I get home. Added NOTE: Using Bluetooth, I can transfer the files from Berry to Mac. Berry is still acting weird, but it will work fine for me until my personal technology guru (aks- The Man) gets up here later today to fix it for me.

I'll Keep You Posted!

Thursday, July 09, 2009


RWA National Conference starts next week!

As I have for the past few years, I will be blogging during Nationals.

If you're interested, check back often during the week to see how things are going.

I'm fairly bursting with excitement since it starts in just a few days. This is one of my favorite times of year, because I not only get to see Book People (my favorite variety of people besides the ones that inhabit my house!), but I also get to see friends.

I get to share my room with a great roomie again, and that's always exciting. She leads such a glam life and all, so it's fun to have it rub off on me for a few short days. :)

This year will be extra fun because the conference is being held practically in my own backyard, right up the road in beautiful Washington DC. I'm making the very short drive next Tuesday night, or Wednesday morning. Plans aren't quite final yet. The girls all want to go to the Literacy event on Wednesday.

Plus, my OGC is going to join me for at least one night. She'll probably stay the night Wednesday and go home with The Man on Thursday, after the Cherry dinner.

Only downer so far has been that The Cherry might not attend the Cherry dinner. Sure hope she changes her mind and at least joins us for a drink or something. :)

Be sure to check out Blogging National to see other bloggers talk about their experiences in our wonderful city as well!

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yeah, I know I said...

I said i'd be better about posting here. And I was. For about a week.

Someone just recently reminded me in a very Cherry way that I should keep you guys updated once in a while, so here I am, updating you yet again... (Thanks, Robin, I needed the reminder!)

Somebody also mentioned that the little ones might not be so little anymore. So I'm including a photo of the two wee ones. Can you tell how much they've grown?

Kid update...

Oldest Girl Child - earned enough money to pay for her own car insurance, and now is working towards saving for her first car. She's also getting ready to put in college applications, and that's scary for us all.

Oldest Boy Child - is HUGE. Taller than me, of course. But might pass up The Man if he keeps growing. Big and strong, and so so tough, it amazes me that he was ever gently nestled inside of my body.

Second OGC - has taken over most of the household duties now that OGC is working. And she is becoming quite the cook, thanks. I think she gets that from her Mom. :)

Youngest Boy Child - Still the happy one. Except when he's fighting with one of his sisters. Which is often. But I still think his smile to frown ratio is higher than anyone else in this house.

Second Youngest Girl Child - Got accepted to an acting academy in the winter, but didn't go because of church obligations. May go in the fall though. She's such a ham, and would be a natural on anything that Disney produces. Except Jonas. There, she'd just be distracted.

The Baby - is still insisting that it's her right to sleep in our bed very often. Even though she just had one of those things where I pay her to pretend that she's not actually turning a year older. Most people call them birthdays and throw a party. I just cry.

Maybe I'll tell you more about them another day. For today though, I must remove my contacts before I scratch my eyes from my head.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trees popped

Well, that magical Spring day has finally arrived...


The leaves have turned to green again. Hooray!!

Wanna see my view?

Here ya go...

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Our pollen count is WAY up, and my energy level is WAY down, so this is going to be quick and random.

The Craigslist Killer is WAY disturbing news. Have you heard about it? Why so scary for me? Well, I've actually posted there for renters for the other house. Actually, all of the renters for that house have come from CL. Of course, I am a fanatic when I meet prospective renters. If The Man can't be there with me, I take The Boy. He's as big as The Man, and rather intimidating. I also stand at the window, on the phone with The Man, and tell him the license plate number of the car that arrives in my driveway. That way, if I DO get killed, at least The Man can hunt the jerk down!

Eighteen is WAY too young to be in a serious relationship. There is a young lady at my store who is 18. She is involved with a guy that is over 30, with 5 kids. They are currently living with his not-yet-ex-wife. I want to take this baby girl in my arms and tell her that her life could be so much MORE. Of course, she'd think I was crazy, because, as you may recall, at 18 you know EVERYTHING.

The Man is WAY more patient than I deserve. After just returning from a LONG weekend away to New England, I was asked to go to the beach in a few weeks. He was there when I was asked. And while he wasn't jumping for joy at the thought of me escaping again, he didn't say NO either. Really, I think he's trying to reach sainthood. I just pray that nobody tells him he's already destined for that before I get to stick my toes in the ocean. :)

I have gained WAY too much weight recently. With a vicious combination of winter, depression, and working too much, I have managed to not only avoid my slightly overpriced gym, but find my way to a certain coffee house where the baristas are all too happy to serve me a Venti Iced Double shot with 8 pumps of classic, made with soy. I have a feeling that those aren't as low-cal as I was originally led to believe. I need to get back to the gym. Soon.

It is WAY too hot. But after freezing my butt off all winter, I can't even complain.

I am WAY overdue for a cool shower, a tylenol PM, and my pillow.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Thing about writing is...

I recently returned from one of those magical weekends that some of you will be able to relate to: "The Writer's Weekend". My husband is one of those wonderful men that actually not only support me in my writing (This career of yours will enable me to buy this really cool toy some day!), but also fervently believes in my ability to create entire worlds with just the words that flow, seemingly effortlessly depending on the coffee to wine ratio, from my fingers. So he convinced me that this weekend was just what I needed, encouraged me to go, and even made an Herculean effort to get me to Union Station with enough time to catch the train to New Haven. And I write on the train. The thing about writing is that you need the time to do it, and 5 uninterrupted hours on the train seemed to help.

My very dear friend invited me up for a writing weekend in Cape Cod. So I got to knock out two firsts at once. See, not only had I never been to Cape Cod (home of bee-ah and chow-dah), but I'd also never done a writer's weekend before. Now, that's not to say that i've never gone away with writer's - I have. And it's not to say that i've never gone away to write - as again - I have. But this sort of weekend? Not so much. The thing about writing is that you really need to have a venue, a place, that is conducive to the flowing of those creative juices.

I was invited by an award winning, multiple published author. She also invited another multiple published author, and someone else that just got a contract on her first book. Needless to say, I actually asked "K- what the HELL am I doing being invited to this thing? HOW am I going to contribute? Ohhh Myyyy GAWD!" To which she naturally replied something along the lines of "Stop your bitching and get on the damn train, woman!" And hey, how do you argue with that? The thing about writing is that you occasionally need someone to tell you that you can.

So I went.

And Ohhh Myyy GAWD. To say that I learned a few things would be the ultimate in understatement! The other Multiple Published Author (lets call her MPA for brevity's sake) brought an easel, a flip chart, many markers, assorted sticky note pads, and her game face. She got us on track and ready to do characterization and plot studies in no time. I have my characters fleshed out and my plot actually in place. It makes sense this way, though I've never done it this way before. It may revolutionize those long, hard months that occur between the "I have this idea..." phase and the "I HATE THIS DAMN BOOK" phase. The thing about writing is that you have to have a plan.

After many starts and stops on the train home, I got some things reorganized in my head. I also got a few words on the screen. And it makes sense to me, even when I look at all those color coded sticky notes. But still, it's not the same as being there around those three other AMAZING ladies, with those ideas just pouring out of our mouths. I don't know how I'm going to be able to bring some of those color coded sticky notes to life on my screen without them. But here's the deal:

The Thing about writing is...

you just have to DO it!