Category Archives: Entertainment

When Idols Fall

  

I was going to comment on a friend’s post regarding the Al Franken allegations, but it got so long I decided to make my own post. And then that post got too long, so I turned it into a blog . I’m writing this on my phone (and it has been a frustrating experience) so please forgive any errors.

It’s a tough time to try to navigate the many accusations of sexual impropriety coming out.  All the pressure not to be biased towards and against people for reasons other than the exact claims against them almost feels like everyone has to be painted with a broad brush, all are presumed innocent or all are presumed guilty. There’s no room for nuance. There are so many things coming to light it’s nearly impossible to look at each case and make a determination about credibility. My gut tells me that victims feel emboldened to come forward by the courage of others  and I do believe that for the most part this avalanche isn’t simply people taking advantage of the climate by smearing good men because it bolsters an agenda. I believe the victims. I can see it in their faces, and I can relate.

While the idea of reputations falsely dredged through the mud sickens me, and I know that there are nefarious reasons people can (and have) made false claims of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, I’m unwilling to reject out of hand the painful words of victims brave enough to step forward merely on the slightest of chances they aren’t being truthful.

It’s interesting to me to see people defend those alleged to have done some pretty awful stuff by asserting that sexual abuse just isn’t common enough for this many accusations, and that there can’t be this many perpetrators- it must be a witch hunt, a political hack job, a shakedown… and yet that in turn means they are willing to believe  there are that many more malicious people capable of and willing to lie about someone for political reasons, for attention, and for money. I don’t buy that argument, although I know many will.

It’s tough to see idols fall. But that’s the nature of idolatry. Putting any human on a pedestal is a recipe for disappointment. They WILL let you down. Even the Tom Hanks of the world have done things that would tarnish our views of them. It’s the nature of celebrity, the nature of politics, the nature of the power and money game, it’s the nature of humanity. And while those who give in to their basest desire to feed their egos and satiate their lust at the expense of others are completely responsible for their own sins, we all must look at our role in putting them up there, giving them a sense of invulnerability, excusing bad behavior if it suits our purpose, and yet also expecting them to always act above their own humanity.

People have used positions of power to take advantage of others since time began. It is at the core of our brokenness. The famous quote of absolute power corrupting absolutely is probably one of the truest things ever uttered.

So why are we surprised and heartbroken when one of “our” guys turns out to have fallen into this trap? It’s so much easier to enjoy the fall of someone who exemplifies things we already don’t agree with or are disgusted by (which in itself is an indictment of our culpability). I think when it’s someone we like or respect, it’s the perceived betrayal of our loyalty (that they likely never really earned) but even more so it feels like a betrayal of our own instincts and judgement. If we can’t believe our own selves about who is trustworthy, how can we trust anyone? It causes us to second-guess our beliefs about everyone.

I would argue that it probably should.

That’s not to say that we should become jaded and cynical, or that we should expect the worst from people. But perhaps we start to recognize that someone’s talents, their bank account, their attractiveness, their political success, or their charisma is just one part of them, not the entirety. You can have any and all of those things without good character. You can also have good character and make mistakes or use poor judgement. There’s not a person walking this planet that would want to put their entire life up to microscopic scrutiny, nor is there an adult currently walking this planet who is without flaws or past choices they wouldn’t want as the top nightly news story.

Most of us are horrified at what has been brought into the light recently. I think the Bill Cosby revelations were the canary in the coal mine for a whole lot of ugly in the underbelly of this world. An old perverted racist from Alabama that I think would be a force for harm if elected to the office he’s attempting to gain? It’s easy to accept his failings and want to cheer his political demise. We enjoy watching him get devoured. A beloved TV dad, the star of a show I watch every week, a politician I support- those are the tough ones. And they reveal so much about my heart.

There is a redemptive path in all of this, for everyone involved.

We must acknowledge the sickness and depravity of our culture. We fetishize celebrity, make excuses for bad behavior if it suits us, expect our icons to be above reproach while enabling their sense of invulnerability, we pick and choose which victims to believe and which to demonize based on how much we idolize the accused, we pay money to watch movies and play games that objectify women and normalize violence, and we hawkishly watch, cheering the downfall of the once-powerful like Romans at the Coliseum watching a lion tear a man limb from limb.

We need to celebrate character, extol vulnerability and empathy and compassion. We need to recognize how our idolatry is destroying people and infecting our society. We need to raise our standards while simultaneously allowing for people to be human. We need to stop rewarding the  audacity of narcissists with awe and praise because of the damage such people tend to leave in their wake.

We must examine our hearts and own our hypocrisy. We need to be generous with forgiveness while not forsaking wisdom and boundaries. We should be focused on reconciliation for those who choose to enter that process, allowing trust to be earned. We need to acknowledge the pain of victims and the brokenness of those we esteem,  allowing space for healing for both. We must stop defending actions unworthy of defense, stop making false moral equivalencies, stop the whataboutisms, stop keeping tally sheets, stop protecting the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable. We must require more of our leaders than a show of strength and unrestrained, unaccountable authoritarianism.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has anxiety about the next “hero” to fall. I believe character is revealed not just when people make mistakes, but how they handle their mistakes when they make them… and they WILL make them. Some actions have more devastating consequences than others. Repeated behaviors indicative of a pattern require more work, but I contend that no one (other than a diagnosed psychopath)  is irredeemable. That doesn’t mean that everything they lose as a result of their actions should be restored to them, but if they are willing to walk the tough redemptive path, we will all be the better for it if they succeed.

 

 

 

 

 

Is That A Raccoon In Your Crawl Space Or Are You Just Unhappy To See Me?

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We never quite know what we are capable of, until the moment arrives and we have to make a choice.

This was my dilemma last Thursday when the woman from the state Fisheries and Wildlife Dept. informed me that if I trapped the raccoon(s) living under my house, I would be mandated by law to euthanize it (them).

Wednesday evening as my husband and I were bringing the trash cans back up to the side of the house, we both looked at each other curiously.

“Do you hear that?”

“That screeching sound?”

“Yes.”

” Yes, I hear it. What is it?”

We followed the sound up the side of the house until we reached the area that juts out for our fireplace insert.

“What is that?” He asked.

“I think it’s raccoons. ”

“How can you tell?”

“Because it’s not cats. And I think possums just hiss. I think it might be babies.”

Also, in our house in California, I encountered possums in the garage pantry. I know what they sound like. This one had a particular affinity for Campbell’s soup.

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Jeff grabbed a metal pole nearby and whacked it against the house. The growl that was emitted from the crawl space was ferocious.

We both turned and got out of the area as quickly as possible.

That night I texted my mother. “I think we have raccoons.”

My parents have dealt with raccoons at their house in years past.

She offered to send their trap over with my father the next morning.

I responded,” Yes please. Jeff says his online research determined that the person with the thickest wrists in the house has to deal with them.”

This statement needed no further clarification. Everyone knows I have the sturdiest bones in the family.

His research also indicated that it is almost unheard of for a raccoon to give birth under the house. They like to give birth up high, to protect their babies. Finding info on getting a mama and her babies out from under the house is nearly impossible, since it almost NEVER HAPPENS.

The next day my father brought the trap, and began setting it up. He told me he had an area where he could set them free once we had trapped them. He said they normally use cat food for bait, but we don’t have a cat, so I boiled some eggs.

This may seem like a strange form of bait for a raccoon, but I have personally witnessed their penchant for eggs, peanuts and animal cookies firsthand.

Back when Sydney was a baby, we were living with my in-laws while saving up to buy a house. Their house was nestled up to a wooded area, and so having a family of raccoons making their home adjacent wasn’t completely surprising.

This also happened to be 1995, the year that Pocahontas hit theaters. As I have previously mentioned ( in this blog ) I have always felt a connection to Native American culture, and I tried to pass this along to my children, to no avail. However, when they were small, they had little recourse.

Sydney and Pocahontas

Here is one year old Sydney with her Pocahontas doll and here…

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is her first birthday cake.

As most of you know, in the movie, there is a mischievous raccoon named “Meeko.”

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As a result, we called the raccoons at Jeff’s parents’ house “the Meekos.”

My mother -in-law often left out eggs, and the aforementioned peanuts and animal cookies for the Meekos. We didn’t exactly treat them as pets, but no one was kicking them out either.

So my father and I set up the trap with two boiled eggs in the back, and went to the side of the house to place it. The sound that came from underneath was otherworldly. Slightly demonic. My father’s eyes were enormous. I think I peed a little.

There’s nothing like a mama protecting her babies. That’s probably part of the reason I was feeling so much empathy for her.

Suddenly I was highly concerned that we would trap the mama and the babies would be stuck underneath without her, so that’s when I decided (on the advice of a friend) to call Fish and Wildlife.

“Unfortunately,” the woman said when I explained my predicament,” If you trap them, you are responsible for euthanizing them.”

“Why can’t we set them free?”

“Because state law says they must be euthanized.”

“I’m not bashing this mama and her babies over the head. I’m not doing it.”

“Well then I’d suggest removing your trap and calling one of the two local companies licensed to handle it. ”

She gave me the information and I hung up, distraught. I simply don’t understand this law. And there’s nothing inside me that is capable of harming creatures who did nothing wrong.

I called the first company on the list. “I’m not killing them,” I told the man.

“We prefer the term euthanize.”

“Please tell me there’s a way around this law.”

“The best thing you can hope for is that they will leave on their own. However, raccoons like to come back to wherever they’ve been, so if you are fortunate enough to get them all out, you need to close off the area so they can’t return.”

He told me the soonest he could come out was Tuesday. This whole thing was going to cost $500.  I told him I didn’t think we could wait that long, seeing as how raccoons are very likely to carry rabies and we couldn’t go on the side of our house without fear of attack.

I called the other company, which happened to be Terminix. They said they could get someone out first thing Friday morning to evaluate the situation.

When the Terminix guy showed up (30 min past the time window) he seemed a bit flustered. I soon discovered why.

“I haven’t really dealt with raccoons. I’ve only been with the company 5 months.”

This was not a reassuring statement.

“Raccoons don’t usually give birth under the house. They usually like the attic.”

“Yeah, I have heard that.”

He was a rotund man, a bit sweaty, and he had his top three buttons opened on his polo, revealing ample chest hair. I watched him awkwardly work his way into a squatting position and then pop up quicker than a weasel in a toy box.

“Yep! There are raccoons under there!”

“I know.”

” I’ve been called out on raccoons twice before, but never found any. But you definitely have raccoons! She was lookin’ at me!”

“Yes. I know.”

“Well, see, the problem is, my boss is the only one licensed to deal with raccoons and he’s on vacation.”

Blink. Blink.

“Let me call the home office and see what they say.”

I listen to his side of the phone call, and I know he’s got nothing good to tell me.

“yeah, so he’s real hesitant to say this, but, uh, you’re gonna have to call someone else.”

Funny, I had already made that decision on my own.

Actually, I called back to the first company and attempted to beg.

“Sorry, this has been a crazy month. Lots of ants. Early wasps. Now raccoons under a house. They never give birth under the house.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“Look. Let’s get you scheduled for Tuesday. I’ll try to talk to Todd and see if he can squeeze you in tomorrow. In the meantime, try predator spray. It will make her think there’s a predator in the area. Maybe she’ll move the babies. Have you seen how many there are?”

“No. I haven’t seen them, only heard them.”

“She might not move them until their eyes are open.”

“Which is?”

Three weeks. The answer is three weeks.

I called my husband. “The guy suggested predator spray.”

“Predator spray?”

“Coyote urine.”

“Where am I supposed to find coyote urine?”

He looked online and called me back.

“This stuff isn’t easy to acquire. I could track a coyote and milk it in less time than it will take to get the strong stuff shipped here.”

He ended up getting a spray that had a reduced amount of coyote urine and hoped for the best. He sprayed it Friday afternoon to the sounds of growls and trills.

Friday night I took Zoe to her end of season soccer party. I explained my conundrum to a group of parents.

Someone said, “Raccoon feces is poisonous. I watched a bunch of guys in hazmat suits go to my neighbors 4 times to deal with their raccoon problem.”

“This is not the encouragement I’m looking for.”

I texted my friend about my raccoon problem.

She responded, “Do you have a plan or did you just bring them a housewarming gift?”

This is just one of  many reasons I keep her around.

“I tried to reason with her.”

“I’m sure you did.”

Saturday morning Jeff got out a spotlight. He had decided to try a new tack: Operation Nifty Package Part Deux.

For those who are too young to remember, Operation Nifty Package was the U.S. government’s attempt to flush out Panamanian dictator and persona non grata Manuel Noriega from his refuge/hiding place in a church. Navy SEALs shone spotlights and blared rock music in an attempt to make him surrender and leave the church. I heard they also played “the Howard Stern Show.” Pretty sure that was a violation of the Geneva Convention approved tactics of torture.

My thought was the complete Morrissey collection would be the most likely to create an urgent escape(It would certainly work on me) , but Jeff had decided to go with an ultrasonic pest repellent noise machine. He set up the floodlight and we headed out to the hardware store in search of the machine.

When we got back, I peeked under the house (from a decent distance) but I couldn’t see the raccoon. I moved closer, but it was clear under there as far as I could see.

I was concerned that she had left and abandoned her babies, although I couldn’t see them either. I banged on the house. No screeching. No trilling. Jeff set the noise machine up, and as he did so, he looked as closely as possible. It appeared they were all gone!

“I see three whiffle balls, but no babies.”

My sense of relief was enormous. We were not going to be responsible for the deaths of these animals!

Jeff got some wood and boarded up the gap. There’s no room in the inn, Rocco. Or, Mrs. Rocco.

For a moment I wondered and worried that she had just relocated to a neighbor’s house. My next door neighbor has been out of the country and that would not be a fun surprise to come home to discover. I’m hoping they went to the swamp and found a place that was safe and warm.

Even though there was danger from disease, there was no part of me that was comfortable hurting this animal family. Many I talked to over the course of this ordeal felt differently. Jeff made jokes about using a BB gun, but the truth is, I’m not sure he could have done it either. We did a lot of reading up to try and figure out how to avoid killing them . We learned cayenne pepper and curry powder are repellents to raccoons. We tried to make the situation as unpleasant as possible for her without bringing harm to her and her kits. There are ways to handle it without resorting to death.

That night as we drove to the movies Jeff said, “Do I smell like predator spray? I think it wafted on me.”

“I don’t smell it. But the good news is, you won’t be attacked by wild animals. Except maybe a coyote looking for its mate.”

“That would be something.”

 

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Good luck Mama Raccoon.

I’m Not That Kind Of Girl

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Yes, that’s me last New Year’s Eve In Victoria, BC with Bigfoot. Yes, I am drinking champagne, thus my chumminess with the squatch. However that’s not what I want to attract your focus. Behold… the pink coat.

In the fall of 2014 I was invited to my neighborhood’s semi-annual CAbi party. In case you are unaware, CAbi stands for Carol Anderson by invitation, and it’s a home-based clothing business. It’s Tupperware for clothes, basically.

Each evening that I go to one of these parties (conveniently held next door every spring and fall) my husband cringes as I walk out the door.

“I’m just going for the wine!” I call out cheerfully.

Every time, though, I come home having placed an order.

This time, however, I was determined not to buy anything. I had recently purged many items in my closet and was going for a simpler life. And less laundry, theoretically.

Then I saw it. I got butterflies. It was beautiful.  And it was pink. Cotton candy pink.

I never wear pink. Ever. I’m not a fluffy, girly person, and because of my body type, wearing pink always makes me feel a bit like a drag queen.

But this coat looked like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn wrapped up into one stylish package.

I tried it on, and of course all the ladies at the party insisted this coat was ME, and I just HAD to buy it. I felt like a million bucks.

Alas, this coat was not cheap. True to my word, I went home without placing an order.

A couple weeks went by, and the CAbi rep emailed me to say that she was selling off her samples, and I could buy the coat for 50% off! Of course, 50% off of beau coup is still mucho dinero. (Yes, I am aware those are two different languages. Becoming more globally-minded is one of my New Year’s resolutions.)

My husband was out of town. Could I slip a Pepto Bismol pink coat into my clothing repertoire without him noticing? Not likely. But still… I had to have it.

I waited a month before the grand reveal. If I recall, his exact words were, “Whoa! That’s pink!”

There are only so many events for which a pink (with a capital P) wool coat seems an appropriate choice, so over the past year I have only worn it a handful of times. Every time gets a similar reaction to the first; Whoa. That’s pink.

Yesterday was a frosty  morning and I was headed out to my hair appointment. Knowing I would feel fabulous following my sprucing up at the salon, I decided it was a good day for the pink coat.

My hair is the longest it’s been in a while, and my colorist is slowly evolving me into an auburn color. Right now it’s sort of a mahogany shade, and since I can take zero credit, I will admit it looks amazing. I get lots of compliments, and so every time I get a refresh, I walk with a bit more of a spring in my step.

As I walked to pick Parker up after school, I felt fancy. Classy, even. So many times I show up in yoga pants and a pony tail, so it’s nice to step it up once in a while. He took one look at me and said, “You’re wearing pink.”

“Yes. I’m wearing pink.”

“You never wear pink.”

“I know. ”

“I don’t think I’ve seen you wear pink in like 15 months.”

I have no idea where this random number has come from, and I know it to be inaccurate, but his point is made- I never wear pink. He’s not sure what to do with this sudden shift of color palate.

As we crossed the street, another mom that I don’t know said, “I really like your coat!”

“Thank you!” I beamed.

“You remind me of The Gilmore Girls. I don’t know if you watched that show or know what I’m talking about.”

“I know the show, but I didn’t ever watch it.”

“Oh. Well you remind me of that!”

I gave a little laugh as she crossed the other street, not really knowing to what she might be referring, but hoping it was a good thing.

That evening when my husband got home from work I said, “I got a compliment on my coat today.”

“Oh yeah?”

“A mom at the school came up to me and told me she liked my coat and I reminded her of Gilmore Girls.”

He laughed and said, “Which one?”

“Well the mom, I assume.”

He stared at me for a moment, and then chuckled again.

As we waited in line to order our dinner at the local pizza place, he looked at my coat and said, “You’re taking this awfully well.”

“What?”

“Being told you look like a Gilmore Girl. I would think you were more like the one who dated all the men more than the mom.”

Blink. Blink.

“Um. Are you referring to the GOLDEN GIRLS?!”

He began laughing really hard.

“She said GILMORE girls NOT GOLDEN girls!”

“I kept thinking, wow, she seems okay with this. I would think she’d be really offended.”

I pulled out my phone and googled the following photos:

“THIS is the Gilmore girls:”

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He was really laughing at this point.

“I was so confused. You were like ‘I guess I’m like the mom’ and I was like, ‘really?!’ but you seemed to be rolling with it.”

For reference,

golden girls

Blanche (the one who dated a lot of men) did wear a lot of pink, as did Sophia, the mother.

“I wonder what pink coat in the Gilmore Girls she was talking about.” So I googled that as well, and sure enough, there were tons of photos like this:

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Having never watched the show, I was unsure whether this was a running gag, or whether the pink coat was considered a staple piece. Further research revealed that the pink coat was the envy of many viewers, which took the sting out of the fact that my husband thought I looked like a geriatric character.

Here’s the thing;

We all have things we love but feel we “can’t get away with.” (Forgive the dangling preposition) Two piece bathing suits. Skinny jeans. Girly clothes. Statement jewelry. Long hair after a certain age. (I remember telling my friend Marques who cuts my hair that I wanted to grow it out until I was too old to wear it long. He replied, “You’re never to old to wear your hair whichever way you want.”)

I say, wear what we love. Buy into the fantasy for that moment. Do I look more like an Easter peep than Audrey Hepburn in my pink coat? Probably.

I like to imagine myself as “that kind of girl” sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes. And so I shall continue to wear the pink coat on days when I want to be “that kind of girl.”

 

 

 

 

“It’s Just A Game”

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I can’t count the number of times that I’ve read that statement over the last 18 hours.

“It’s just a game.”

You’re right. It’s just a game. It’s just two groups of men, knocking each other around, running the ball (or not), throwing the ball, catching the ball (or not), all in hopes of winning a game. A game.

I’m not playing the game. I don’t even personally know the people who are playing the game. You’re right. It’s just a game.

So, what do I do with these feelings that I’ve been told I’m unjustified in feeling?

Did you know that’s what you’re telling me when you say, “It’s just a game”?

What “It’s just a game” really means is, “I have deemed your disappointment, sadness, frustration as unworthy. I have cast judgment on your feelings and found them lacking validity.”

I suppose the argument could be made that “it’s just a game” is a completely accurate statement. You and I could sit down and make a list of all the reasons why my feelings are unmerited.

Of course, if we wanted to, we could use the same exercise to undermine all feelings, couldn’t we?

“I know you’re disappointed that the concert you’ve been waiting to watch for a year got cancelled at the last minute, but it’s just entertainment.”

“I know you’re frustrated and upset that you’re snowed in at the airport and can’t get to your vacation destination, but it’s just a trip.”

“I know you’re unhappy that the political candidate you voted for didn’t win,  but it’s just an election.”

It would be easy to make all sorts of arguments as to why these situations aren’t significant in the overall scheme of life that would be technically accurate.

However, when we start making ourselves arbiter of the feelings of others, where’s the line?

“I know you’re upset that you didn’t get the job you wanted, but at least you have one.”

“I know you’re mad that your friend betrayed you, but at least now you know.”

“I know you’re hurt that your boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with you, but at least you weren’t married, it’s not like a divorce.”

“I know you’re devastated that you miscarried, but at least you have 2 other kids. And it’s not like you were that far along.”

I see this even with more serious situations like illness, financial crises, death of loved ones. Maybe it’s our own messed up way of dealing with the uncomfortable nature of facing each other’s feelings.

“It’s just…”

“At least…”

“It’s not like…”

These innocuous-sounding sentence starters actually have a pretty significant impact on the one who’s on the receiving end of them.

Under the guise of “lending perspective,” these statements tell each other, “you aren’t entitled to feel what you’re feeling.” Maybe they say, “you aren’t entitled to feel what you’re feeling as much as you do,” or “you aren’t entitled to feel what you are feeling for as long as you have been feeling them.”

The reality is, yes, it’s just a game.

The sun still came up today (or so I believe, because all I see is rain and clouds, but since it’s no longer night, I’ll assume it did.)

My husband went to work as he does every Monday morning.

My kids went to school as usual. (And by usual I mean Parker is wearing unmatched socks)

Life goes on.

But even with seemingly insignificant losses in the grand view of life and eternity, there are feelings.

I’m sad today.

I have a sense of grief over what could have been, what almost was.

I mourn the end of an inspiring season that seemed destined, and, at times, miraculous.

I’ve loved the unity in our community, the fight against all odds, the striving towards a glorious finish.

When hopes are dashed in the end, it’s inevitable that feelings will be a part of that experience. If there are no feelings, there was no connection. If there are no feelings, what was the point in watching at all?

“The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.”

That statement isn’t just about the individuals who are participating, it’s also for those who have invested their time, their money, even emotionally investing themselves.

I was emotionally invested. I am emotionally invested. Today my heart is a little broken. I don’t need or want anyone to give me perspective today.

Today  I get to feel what I feel.

I would apologize for feeling a way that you might think is silly, small-minded or self-indulgent, but I’m not sorry.

I still love my team, I love my city, and I love my Seahawks community. I do believe that adversity builds strength, and I believe the future remains bright.

The outcome of a sporting event doesn’t alter my life in a dramatic fashion, and tomorrow the sting will lessen.

But please know this:

I get to feel what I feel.

I’d appreciate the opportunity to process my feelings without scorn or derision.

I’m sure you’d want the same consideration for your own feelings, regardless of my opinion of their validity, right?

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I Think I’ve Just Unlocked The Secret To Success On Social Media

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Do you see that?

No, not the three adorable girls (Zoe and two of her friends). I’m talking about the numbers at the bottom of the photo.

689. 1075.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Twitter, let me explain.

What appears to be a recycle sign is the number of times this photo tweet has been re-tweeted. The star represents the number of times it has been favorited. (Similar to “liking” something on Facebook.)

Last Wednesday night, instead of a  party for her 11th birthday in October, I took Zoe and two of her friends to the Washington State Fair for a concert featuring:

Coco Jones

http://video.disney.com/watch/coco-jones-holla-at-the-dj-4d0c46218ce6badccb6f952c

 

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MKTO

 And Cody Simpson


Once we got seated we noticed that on the big screen they were showing tweets from the audience with the hashtag #WAfairlive. They announced that one of those tweets would win upgraded seats to the second row.

About 20 minutes before the concert began I tweeted the above picture of the girls with the required hashtag, and tagged Cody Simpson in the tweet as well.

Not too long after, the picture came up on the big screen and the girls squealed at the decibel and frequency reserved solely for hyped up preteen girls.

“Do it again!” They said excitedly.

So I tweeted another picture, and once again it made it up on the big screen. Once again they shrieked and giggled.

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“Please upgrade our seats!”

But this time I noticed something. The original tweet was getting favorited and re-tweeted surprisingly fast. I wondered briefly if people at the concert were re-tweeting everything with the hashtag.

As the numbers began to tick up, I thought maybe it was like all of my fake spam subscribers; While I wish it were legitimate, there’s no way 2700 real people subscribe to my blog, and real people certainly don’t leave comments like “If you bring into play them, be specified not to get too hot them. Particular you build this tool in a poorly lit spot for your dog’s comfort.”

I figured my tweet had some trigger phrase that set all the spammer twitter accounts off.

Then I started realizing that most of the people re-tweeting had Twitter handles like “Mrs.CodySimpson2002” or “JustinBieberpleasefollowme.”

The Cody Simpson Fan Club had come across my tweet somehow and it was going nuts.

For perspective, my previous most successful tweet was a photo I took on my way down to the Seahawks Super Bowl Championship parade that bore a moderate resemblance (if you’re drunk and squinting) to the Seahawks logo.

49 re-tweets, 60 favorites. And a few mean spirited haters.

Other than that, my  re-tweet/favorite average is… zero. Most things I tweet go out into the social media netherworld, never to be spoken of again.

I spend a few hours a week writing my blog. Some weeks more, some less. But I usually put time, thought and effort into writing. After a year and a half of posting this blog on various social media outlets, I have 392 likes on my Facebook page with an average of 25 subscribers actually seeing my posts. Prior to the “Tweet heard round the tween world,” I had about 400 Twitter followers. Now I have 454. 54 in a week may not sound like a lot, until you consider that the 400 had been accumulated over the course of 5 years!

In addition, I am embarrassed to admit, my (self-named) job title for my husband’s company is Social Media Director. (I made myself a director because I felt like it and no one was going to challenge me. “Facebook Addict” didn’t seem quite professional enough for my business cards.) This is my job, and until last week, I couldn’t figure out how to get any traction.

When I got home after the concert, I discovered what had set off the frenzy. In my email inbox:

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and:

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Take a gander at the number at the bottom of the email. He re-tweeted that photo to his nearly 7 million followers.

Now I’m no dummy. When I see something’s working, even unintentionally, I’m going to pay attention and see if I can replicate it. I’m still trying to figure out how to make this social media thing work for me , and this experience has taught me a couple really valuable lessons. (If you are using number of minor twitter followers as a benchmark of value)

And now I shall pass my newfound wisdom on to you. You’re welcome.

Here, in no particular order, is a primer for what I have determined are the keys to Twitter success in 5 easy steps:

1. Scope out the celebrities that have millions of followers who are so obsessed with them that they are willing to re-tweet anything re-tweeted by the celebrity. Even if it’s in Chinese. Even if it’s as simple as “Hi.”

2. Look for stars who have yet to get too big for their proverbial britches (I say proverbial, because with the saggy pants that are popular these days, the only way they’ll get too big for their literal britches is if they up their daily caloric content by 2000%.) If they appreciate their fans, they are more likely to re-tweet anything complimentary or positive.

3. Tag at least one of these people in EVERY single tweet you make. Tweeting about the pot roast you had last night?

“That was some great pot roast I had last night. @Mileycyrus #MileyCyrusisbetterthanpotroast.”

4. Download the concert schedule of the acts most popular with the Disney set. Tweet with hashtags that give the impression you are actually attending the concert.

Example:

“Looking forward to seeing @_________________ in concert tonight at ______________. He/She is my favorite! #ILOVEYOU #PLEASEFOLLOWME”

Of course, it must be in 140 characters or less. I’m too lazy to count it out.

5. Sit back and wait for the tweeny-bopper followers to come flooding in.

Of course, once you have thousands of 6th graders following you, you’ll have to adjust all of your tweets going forward. No more mention of global events or political intrigue. No using words like “inflation” “amalgam” or “pandemic.”

I would also recommend using a peace sign and a duck face in every photo you tweet out.

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May this information be as helpful to you, as it has been for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricky Schroeder, Ebola And Clint Dempsey’s Sweat

ricky

 

Recently my husband finally cried “uncle” and made an appointment to see a sleep specialist. Lack of sleep has the tendency to wear down even the most stubborn. I’m not sure he’s had a decent night sleep since 2007. I, on the other hand, sleep very well, almost too well, a fact that he resents greatly.

As a result of the ACA, before doing an overnight in-patient sleep study, doctors first have to have the patients perform a home sleep study. This requires wearing headgear that records, well, we aren’t exactly sure what it records, but whatever it is, any data collected will be used to determine a sleep apnea diagnosis.

First, let me back up a bit to explain the context for the following incident. Recently, for throwback Thursday, I posted the following photo of myself and a former classmate with the caption: You know, if someone would have told me 30 years ago I’d be taking my daughter to a soccer tournament wearing a jersey with this boy as a sponsor, I wouldn’t have believed it.

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After a couple of comments like “what a great thing that he’s giving back to the community” and ” Go Zoe!” another former classmate commented,

“The boy in yellow?”

to which my husband responded,

“He’s the taller boy. Not sure who the boy in yellow is. Looks like Ricky Schroeder.”

And then-

“Yep, it is.”

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Flash forward to the first night of my husband’s home sleep study. As he drifts off to sleep, he murmurs, “I love you Ricky Schroeder.”

A couple of minutes went by and then he said, “Do you think they’re recording what I’m saying?”

To which I responded, “I certainly hope so.”

We have yet to receive the test results. I have a feeling the technicians analyzing his kit are going to put that one in their “greatest hits” collection.

*World Issues With Zoe And Parker*

The following are actual conversations from the car ride after Zoe’s last soccer tournament.

Zoe: Do you know what’s going around?

(Simultaneously)

Me:Ebola

Jeff: OMgosh

Zoe: Dad’s right. What are YOU talking about?!

Jeff: She’s talking about a disease. She forgot she was talking to a 10 year old.

Me: (Muttering) She asked what was going around. Ebola is going around.

 

Me: Zoe I’m really proud of how well you played, even with your hurt arm.

Jeff: It’s not like she could whimper about a sore arm when the girl on the other team was missing an arm.

 

Me: I had a weird dream last night. It involved a bear. I was really scared when it came in the house, but it turned out to be a nice bear who just wanted me to cuddle it. I also had a dream you were randomly holding other women’s hands.

Jeff: You won’t even let me go to the boobie espresso.

Parker: In Nepal you can hold anyone’s hand. You don’t have to be married or boyfriend/girlfriend. You can hold anyone’s hand.

Jeff: Not me, according to your mother.

Parker: In Nepal you can.

Jeff: Not even my Nepalese friends.

Parker: (giggling) Nepalese.

images5909PO94

Nathan turned 16th this past weekend. I asked him several times what he wanted to do. “It’s a big deal!” I said. He said, “Only for girls.” Apparently he was right, because the only non pink, non-sparkly 16th birthday decorations was a package of napkins in rainbow colors with the number 16. No matching plates, no balloons, nothing. I had to buy generic decorations and add “16” stickers to them.

We were planning on just a family barbeque, and then asked if he wanted to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. He said no. The morning of his birthday Jeff said that they should go to the gym. Suddenly Nathan wanted to see the movie after all.

We decided rather than fighting the crowds we would go to the IPIC theater. IPIC used to only serve adults over 21, but recently started allowing kids. I have a feeling we are really going to regret taking our kids there. They will never be satisfied with a regular theater experience again.

Recliners, blankets, pillows. I came back from the bathroom and Parker had buncha crunch candies being delivered- in a martini glass. He prefers his chocolate shaken, not stirred. He didn’t make a sound during the entire movie other than a few blissful sighs.

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The look on Zoe’s face when she opened the menu and realized she could order food was priceless. Cost of soft pretzels sticks with two gourmet dipping sauces? $10.

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Happy 16th birthday Nathan!

back to school

Last year’s school clothes shopping ordeal… http://kbjackson.com/jesus-wouldnt-have-rice-in-his-beard-and-other-tales-of-back-to-school-shopping/

should have been enough to dissuade me from attempting to take more than one child school clothes shopping at a time. Alas, my “let’s get it all done in one painful trip” instincts won out over common sense. Also not a good use of common sense? Allowing Parker to wear his Heely’s.

I took Zoe into Justice and Parker let out a cry of, “Please not this place again!”

Nathan went next door to Aeropostale (The pronunciation of which remains a point of contention in our house). He had a gift card and instructions to buy larger jeans than the ones he currently owns. That should be an easy task for a 16 year old, right?

Zoe meandered through the glitterized world of Justice in hopes of finding something she’d be willing to wear.

Parker said, “Mom, there’s something you should know about clothes.”

“What’s that?”

“Anything that says the word cool on it is NOT cool!”

“Duly noted.”

Nathan came back with a bag in about 15 minutes. My instinct said that wasn’t nearly enough time to try stuff on.

“What size did you get?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you try them on?”

“Yes.”

I looked in the bag. “These are 27/28’s. Last year, before you grew 4 inches, we bought you 28/30’s. Either you didn’t notice that these jeans are way too short, or you didn’t try them on.”

“They seemed fine.”

“Go back. Go back and get at least the same size you have now, but preferably longer.”

After he made the exchange and Zoe found enough sparkle- less clothes to fill a bag (40% plus an additional 20% off) we made our way to H &M.

“Would you wear this?” I asked.

“A Sweater?!?” He responded with the ferocity one might reserve for such outlandish suggestions as eating your own feces.

I had no idea sweaters were so offensive.

We managed to leave the mall 3 hours later with not a single item for Parker. I did fend off requests from him for a “Guardians of the Galaxy” Starlord mask and gun set, along with an xbox 360 game.

Parker may end up wearing the same outfit on the first day of 3rd grade that he wore on the last day of 2nd grade. It’s not like he grows very fast anyways.

sounders

Last winter, Jeff and I attended an auction to raise money for Zoe’s soccer club. If you’ll recall, I was the only one dressed in 20’s themed costume and managed to inhale and choke on a piece of coleslaw. http://kbjackson.com/i-aint-the-bees-knees-and-other-things-i-discovered-at-a-roaring-20s-fundraiser/

Well, this past Friday we were finally able to use what we had bid on and won at the auction- a behind-the-scenes Seattle Sounders experience.

Zoe, Parker and I, escorted by  pre-MLS Sounder alumni player-turned- Rush Coach Doug, were able to watch an entire practice, meet the players, and get autographs and photos.

Just before we were supposed to meet the man in charge (Chris Henderson) at the gate in front of the practice field, Parker decided he had to use the bathroom. We had just been up at the main building 10 minutes prior for Zoe and I, but he had chosen to Heely around the floor instead of going to the bathroom.

I dragged Parker back up to the building, and when he was done we started walking back down towards the field. From the back entrance of the main building a tall man in a Sounders shirt and cleats emerged and began walking towards us.

I knew he must be a player, but my knowledge of soccer players is pretty limited. I didn’t know his name, and he didn’t give it. He started a conversation, and was so friendly and casual that I started to wonder how he could possibly be a professional athlete. There was no “do you know who I am” or “Aren’t you lucky that I’m talking to you” vibe coming from him at all. He was pretty impressed with Parker’s Heely ability, and Parker didn’t seem to realize he was talking to one of the players. We walked down the entire pathway talking as if it was no big deal.

And that was pretty much our experience with every single player on that team. They went out of their way to talk to my kids, ask if they wanted autographs, gave high fives and fist bumps and I never saw even an ounce of attitude. I became a bigger fan of the team than I already was, just because I was able to see first hand what great guys these are.

Clint Dempsey was the first to leave practice, and Zoe went over to have him sign her shirt and Parker had him sign his hat. They both came back with sweat stains on their stuff (and a little on them). I explained to them that there were a lot of people who would be thrilled for the opportunity to have Clint Dempsey sweat on them.

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Clint Dempsey appears to be giving Zoe a back rub

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Marcus Hahneman was on two world cup teams and played over in the Premier league in the UK. He spent quite a bit of time talking with us and our escort. Nice to see someone of my age still playing the game.

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Lamar Neagle is a local boy who has been with the Sounders since their re-inception as an MLS team.

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Djimi! He also played in the Championship League in Europe

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My buddy Chad Marshall who walked down to the field with Parker and I

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Parker had Obafemi Martins sign both his hat and his shirt. Following the practice, Parker got pizza sauce all over the signature.

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Quite possibly our favorite person of the day, announcer Ross Fletcher. He said to Zoe, “Sorry about my accent,” to which she replied, “It’s beautiful.”

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Autographs!

We had such a great time that we decided we wanted to go to Sunday’s game. It was a bit surprising to see our escort from Friday, Doug, being honored amongst other alumni players in a pre-game ceremony.

Parker seemed a little underwhelmed by the whole experience, but then he puked up his pizza on the floor outside the bathroom and he started perking up. His favorite part of the game was when the crowd started heckling and booing the officiating.

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I think we may have some pretty serious soccer fans on our hands.

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Go Sounders!

walletgate

Update- day 17. Still no sign of the wallet. I am beginning to think there may be a black hole in our closet. It will require further investigation to determine. If you don’t hear from me for a while, I have fallen in the black hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balls, Brits and Country Music

burnt ends3

Welcome to the official first edition of Burnt Ends! In case you missed yesterday’s post, http://kbjackson.com/welcome-to-burnt-ends/, I am trying out a new format for my blog that will hopefully be a little more reader-friendly ( and also writer-friendly.)

Let’s get down to it!

balls in the air

This past week has left me seriously fried- in the brain, on my skin, and as you probably read yesterday, down to my eyeballs. I had envisioned lazy summer days, sleeping in, drinking ice tea, reading a book on a lawn chair while the kids gleefully jumped through the sprinklers.

The days of early alarms, yelling at kids to eat breakfast, brush their teeth and throw their shoes on were to go away as soon as the last bell rang in June, right?

Nope.

Reality set in last week when Nathan started tennis camp and got even more real when Parker started soccer camp this week.

Alarm going off an hour and 15 minutes earlier than during the school year, dragging Nathan and Parker out of bed, yelling for them to eat brush their teeth, get their shoes (cleats) on…

Nathan’s camp is at my old high school, my old stomping grounds.  It’s a 15- 20 minute drive down the hill into my hometown. His instructor, Andy,  grew up two blocks down the street from me. His dad was and is the tennis coach at my high school, and Andy is a tennis pro at a club in another town.

Parker’s camp is closer to our house, but starts at the same time as Nathan’s camp, so I have to drop Nathan off early to get Parker there on time.  The courts will be empty for another 20 minutes.

This morning I noticed a large group of pretty girls standing not too far from the courts.

“Look! pretty girls! I wonder if they are cheerleaders.”

“They are,  they were here yesterday. ”

“Oooh good. you can look at the pretty girls while you wait for everyone to show up!”

“I’m not going to watch them like some creeper! Seriously. You are creepier than any guy I know!”

Those were his parting words as he got out of the car.

Parker’s soccer camp is run by a bunch of players flown in from the UK for the summer, whose accents and flat out adorableness require me to put in a little more effort getting ready than I might normally make. I have, in the past, been known to roll directly from my bed to the car when having to do early morning drops-offs. Not the case this week, I can assure you.

Parker’s coach is Declan, a young lad from Scotland who can’t be more than 21. His brogue is so thick that I do a lot of smiling and nodding and hope he’s not actually asking me a question I’m supposed to answer. Have you noticed those UK accents always sound like they are asking questions even if they aren’t?

I had anticipated hearing that Parker spent the entire time grilling him on the Loch Ness Monster, but so far he has restrained himself. I asked him if he wanted to wear his Union Jack shirt to camp (You know, the Benedict Arnold shirt he wore to our 4th of July celebration?)

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He declined, and then stuck his tongue out at me for even suggesting it. He did tell me that he’s learning to “speak Scottish,” which I assume to mean he’s starting to be able to understand Declan’s instructions.

female justin bieber

Meanwhile, Zoe’s new obsession has arrived via UPS in the world largest box. (Someone needs to explain to me how Amazon can give free shipping on a box that would cost me a thousand dollars to mail. )

She’s been asking for a guitar for months, and finally last week her “Adam Levine acoustic guitar” arrived. Parker immediately took off with the giant box and turned it into his new home.

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At one point he was using the flap as a table for his tv remote and a cup of water.

Zoe’s never taken lessons, but that doesn’t stop her from strumming and singing at the top of her lungs.

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She told me she wants to be the female Justin Bieber, to which I replied, horrified, “No! You don’t want to be like Justin Bieber!”

She reassured me that she only meant in the way that he was discovered. Unfortunately that means posting videos on YouTube, which I find concerning in itself.

farmers and country music

I tend to be one of those people who lives my life in phases.  Earlier this year I ate a lot of pineapple and listened to Reggae in order to escape the winter doldrums. Last year I went through an “All Motown all the time” phase.  This year, in addition to binge-watching “Hart of Dixie,” crushing on Farmer Chris on “The Bachelorette,” and spending a whole lot of time in my hometown full of small town charm and attractive people selling things at the farmer’s market, it has become the summer of country music.

Nathan is not happy about this development, especially since he’s been spending about an hour a day in the car with me coming and going from tennis camp. There’s something about driving through the valley into town- the hay bales dotting the fields, the tractors hoeing the rows, the corn that’s already as tall as my waist- that makes me want to listen to country music right now. I can’t explain it.

Yesterday he was heckling me about the music.

I said, “Zoe’s been listening to it more than you, and she’s finding songs she likes,”

He responded, ” Yeah, well if you dive in a dumpster for an hour, you’re likely to find something that’s not complete trash. But you’re still in a dumpster.”

As you might imagine, I had a difficult time coming up with a rebuttal for that one.

Last Saturday night I made homemade minestrone and roasted redneck garlic bread using mostly vegetables I had bought at the farmer’s market.

My husband has inferred that a simple observation of attractive organic fruit and vegetable purveyors has influenced my organic fruit and vegetable purchases of late.

I argue that it’s merely love and care for my family that motivates me to hit the market each week. I think I should be offended by his inference. Don’t you?

After trying the soup, he smirked and said, “It tastes extra hunky.”

 

white noise

 

Jeff got a white noise machine last week to help him sleep. I was totally okay with the idea, until that night at 10 pm when he turned it on.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to sleep.”

“But I’m watching TV and now all I can hear is ‘shhhhhhh.'”

“I need it to help me sleep.”

I stared incredulously at him for a moment, and then a moment or two longer.

He stared back.

We had a stare-off.

“Does it at least have another setting other than ‘10,000 shushing librarians?’ Waterfall? Rain maybe?”

“Blame it on the rain,” He sang.

He reached over, but instead of turning off the machine like I hoped, I began to hear the opening melody of “Blame it on the rain,” by Milli Vanilli streaming out of his phone.

“No.” I said.

He giggled. “Blame it on the rain. Blame it on the rain.”

“This is NOT okay,”

“Blame it on the rain! Blame it on the rain!” He sang.

I gave up, turned off the TV and rolled over to the sounds of Milli Vanilli and the 10,000 librarians.

burn-candle-at-both-ends

 

 

 

Last Night’s Episode Of Ambien Conversations

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One of the drawbacks of having a really active brain is sometimes the inability to shut that brain off so you can sleep. As a result, on occasion my husband has to take a nighttime sleep aid. Last night was one of those nights. Before he had gone to sleep, we had watched the hilarious interview Stephen Colbert did with Paul Rudd to promote his new movie “They Came Together.”

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/jrdas9/paul-rudd-pt–1

The following is the conversation that happened after the Ambien had kicked in. He woke up, wandered into the bathroom, stumbled back and opened with-

Him: You know that Judge Apatow?

Me: Judd

Him: What?

Me: It’s Judd Apatow. Not Judge Apatow

Him: Well that explains it. I was wondering why he was a judge

Me: You know, he’s married to that blonde chick who’s in all his movies.

Him: Sarah Silverman?

Me: No. She’s a brunette.

Him: Oh. I know! The one who goes to law school and has the dog!

Me: What?!

Him: You know, “Legally Blonde.”

Me: No. That’s Reece Witherspoon.

Him: That’s the girl that was in the movie with the guy that was on Colbert.

Me: No. Paul Rudd was in “Clueless,” is that what you’re thinking of?

Him: Yes!

Me: That’s not Reece Witherspoon. It’s Alicia Silverstone.

Him: That’s what I said at the beginning!

Me: No, you said Sarah Silverman, not Alicia Silverstone. Neither of them are married to Judd Apatow.

Him: Well who’s married to Judd Apatow?

Me: You know, the blonde chick who’s in all his movies…

 

Cast of Characters:

Judd-Apatow-This-Is-40-900x600This is JUDD not JUDGE Apatow. He directs movies, and sometimes acts in them.

sarah-silverman-f-28189This is Sarah Silverman. She is a comedienne. She used to date Jimmy Kimmel. She has a bit of a potty mouth, was NOT in “Clueless” and is NOT married to Judd Apatow.

MV5BMTI3MjcyNzI2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzI5Nzkz__V1_SY400_SX268_AL_This is Paul Rudd. He has been in a few of Judd Apatow’s movies, such as “40 Year Old Virgin” and “This is 40.” He was also in “Clueless,” NOT with Sarah Silverman (see brunette above) but with…

db1bbc195bAlicia Silverstone. The only thing I know about what Alicia Silverstone has been up to since “Clueless” is that she’s vegan. Oh and that she’s NOT married to Judd Apatow.

reese-witherspoon-imageReece Witherspoon. Was in “that movie where she goes to law school and has a dog” but was NOT in “Clueless.” Also, not married to Judd Apatow.

Leslie_MannTHIS is Leslie Mann. AKA “that blonde chick Judd Apatow is married to, who is in a lot of his movies.” Because my kids aren’t allowed to watch most of Judd Apatow’s movies, she will always and forever be Ursula Stanhope from “George of the Jungle.”

apatow-blog480See? Adorable.

 

Date Night- 22 Jump Street And Elephant Ears

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Yesterday when my husband called me at 2:30 in the afternoon, I hadn’t been having my favorite day. The weather was gloomy, my mood was gloomy, and I had used up all my energy on not dipping oreos in my coffee for breakfast.

Him: What’s up?

Me: Nothing

Him: Are you in the bath?

Me: How did you know?

Him: I can hear it in your voice.

He then suggested that we go see a matinee of “22 Jump Street.” I weighed my thoughts about having to get dressed to go out to see a sequel to a movie I thought was just okay against watching Channing Tatum for two hours.

Channing won.

We left Parker and Nathan hovered over some computer game, with Sydney under a blanket by the fire. (The world is a very cold place when you have no body fat. Or so I’m guessing) Zoe was off at a birthday party.

We bickered a bit over the route to take to the theater.

Him: Wouldn’t it just be easier to turn left here and get on the freeway?

Me: Well, you’re welcome to do that, discounting the multiple number of times I have driven this road during rush hour to take Zoe to soccer, and the fact that my GPS says the back way is faster. It’s completely up to you.

He took the back way.

When we got to the mall and drove around to the back where the theater is, a ferris wheel came into view. It turned out that a carnival had been set up in the parking lot. It was one of those rickety deals that looks like the rides haven’t been inspected in… ever.

As we pulled into a parking spot I looked over at the carnival.

Me: They have elephant ears.

Him: It’s a carnival.

Me: I know. But it’s not every day that you’re at the mall and there are elephant ears RIGHT THERE. Within reach.

Him: Do you want an elephant ear?

Me: No, no. I mean, they aren’t just gonna let me walk into the theater with an elephant ear, right?

We got up to the entrance of the theater and as we walked in, we noticed that the place was nearly deserted.

Him: First ones here!

Me: This is crazy. There are three movies opening today. Where is everyone?

Him: Well, we have 25 minutes until the movie starts. I don’t think we need to worry about getting a seat. Are you SURE you don’t want an elephant ear?

Me: Uh. I don’t know, I mean… it’s so messy… and where are we going to sit to eat it? We can’t come in here with it.

Him: I’ll bet by the time we walk back across the parking lot it will be gone.

Me: Okay. Why not.

We approached the outskirts of the carnival, which, by the sparse crowd, I guessed had just opened. We walked up to the elephant ear booth.

Him: Been pretty slow so far?

Carny Girl: Yep.

Him: One elephant ear please

Carny Girl: What kind?

Him: There are kinds? I want cinnamon and sugar and butter on it.

Carny girl: They all have that. But you can add strawberry jam, whipped cream, chocolate syrup…

Me: Plain

Him: Plain?

Me: Yes. Plain. I like my elephant ears in their purest form.

So we paid and then went around the other side of the booth to wait.

Him: You know, looking around, with this crowd, and that music it almost feels like the beginning of…

Me: A horror movie?

Him: Exactly. Some sort of zombie apocalypse.

I’m not trying to be mean, but there’s just a certain type of crowd that seems to gravitate towards these kinds of events. They’re a little rough around the edges.

And the employees. Do they have to wait to apply for a job with the carnival after their release, or do they have some sort of prison-to-carnival transfer program?

We looked over at the booth selling toys. We both said a prayer of gratitude that Parker wasn’t there to beg for a blow-up Scooby doo doll or a plastic bow and arrow. (mark-up 5000%, life span- 8 hours tops)

Several minutes went by before our overcooked elephant ear made its appearance at the window.

Jeff looked down at the deeply browned dough.

Him: I think they left it in too long.

Me: Yeah. Not good. Where are we going to eat it? Sitting on a bench outside of the LA fitness?

Him: We should just stand in front of the window licking the sugar and butter off of it, staring at them as they work out.

We walked past the gym window and found a place to stand on the sidewalk. A group of teenagers who appeared to be heading towards the carnival were walking through the parking lot when a boy called out to them from in front of the theater. One of the girls turned around, squealed and went running towards the boy. She was taller than Jeff and he looked to be about the size of Zoe. They met in the middle of the lot where he jumped into her arms. There was all sorts of excited talk, which I had a difficult time hearing over the sound of elephant ear crunching. (Elephant ears should NOT crunch.)

A car came up, so the group moved onto the sidewalk right next to us. A couple of them gave us some glances, but I was standing my ground, since we had been there first. After a few minutes, Jeff moved closer to the theater and I followed him. Actually, I followed the elephant ear that he was holding. I felt sick and yet compelled at the same time.

Him: That’s sad.

Me: What’s sad?

Him: Didn’t you hear what that kid said?

Me: No.

Him: He just got out of jail.

I looked over at the group.

Me: That little boy? The one who looks not a day over 12 if that?

Him: Yes. He said he got in a fight right before he got released.

I was stunned. So young, and already on a very bad path.

Jeff handed me what was left of the elephant ear.

Him: I’m going inside. You should just roll the rest of it up and shove it in your mouth.

Me: I’m not gonna do that!

I totally did that.

I stood by the trash can eating the last bit, with sugar falling all over my shirt. My fingers were coated. I looked up to see a man at the ticket counter watching me. Not my classiest moment. Also not my classiest moment? Lifting my ginormous ice tea out of the cup holder by the lid, which came off, spilling it on my husband and causing him to move a seat over from me. He can’t take me anywhere.

As for the movie, I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but I feel that one of the characters definitely stole the show, and it wasn’t the one played by beautiful Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill or Ice Cube. Don’t get me wrong, they were all hilarious throughout, but this movie contained maybe one of my favorite villains ever. The writing was far better than the original.

I loved that the movie didn’t take itself too seriously, that there were many tongue-in-cheek references sprinkled throughout. (For example, a goofy chase scene on the college campus in front of the Benjamin Hill center for film studies) And the ending AFTER the ending was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time, poking fun at all the formulaic sequels.

I needed those laughs, there’s nothing like a hefty dose of belly laughter to elevate a mood. If you can deal with language, you’ll love this movie.

imageThere’s nothing like being able to ride the spider and then head over to TJ Maxx for a bargain. (Don’t let the weather in this pic fool you, The sun had just come out for the first time all day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Think This Makes Me A Writer

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This week I received two copies of “The Hurricane Review” in the mail. “The Hurricane Review” is a literary anthology published yearly by Pensacola State College in Pensacola, Florida, and its inclusion of my short story “Flip Flop,” along with two poems makes me officially a published author.

I didn’t get paid any money, and it won’t be appearing on any best seller list, but for me, it’s the first step towards achieving my life long dream of being a writer. A real one, not the one I have been, the one who hasn’t let anyone read her stuff since she was in school and had to turn it in for class credit. Not the one who has about 20 partially written stories. Not the one too scared to try.

I grew up with the knowledge that writing is in my blood. My grandfather, Ritchie Ward, was a published author of biological nonfiction. His first book, “The Living Clocks,” was published the year I was born and has been translated into several other languages. He also wrote “Into the Ocean World,” an in-depth look at marine biology worldwide. One of my proudest moments was the day I found his books in my high school library.

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However, over the years, as my family grew, my writing became very hit and miss. The further I got from the accolades of my UW English professors and the deeper into laundry and dishes and diapers, that part of me dimmed.

Last year, a family member sent me a message telling me that I should write a blog, She wasn’t the first person to suggest that I do that, but for some reason, what she said struck a chord. So on May 25, 2013, my 41st birthday, I started a blog.

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Last summer I received a call from my friend Holly MacNaughton. Holly and I have been friends since high school, and have tried to remain in contact over the years as each of us have lived all over the country. Holly is currently living in Florida as her husband, a 20th year USMC Major aviator, finishes out the remainder of his military career. Holly has been going to school at Pensacola State, and was chosen to be this year’s editor of both “The Hurricane Review” as well as “The Kilgore Review,” an anthology publication for current students of the college.

She called to say that she had been reading my blog and wondered if I would be interested in submitting a piece to “The Hurricane Review.” At first I thought she meant something similar to my blog, but then I realized she was talking about a short story; a fictional story.

Some might think that writing fiction would be less personal than writing non-fiction, but for me, that simply isn’t the case. There’s a real difference between my blog, which is my random observations of the world around me, and creating something from my own mind. I’m the kind of writer that is so self-conscious that I don’t like people hovering behind me while I compose a Facebook status, much less having them read my fictional stories. For me, fiction is much more revealing of the writer’s heart than nonfiction.

Oh, and, did I mention the deadline was less than 2 weeks away?

I promised her I would attempt to write something, and if it worked out, great. If it didn’t, well, I tried.

I wrote that story in less than four days. A couple days into it I was less concerned about being able to write enough, but started getting worried that I was going to go way over 15 pages before ever figuring out how to end it. (Those of you familiar with my blog know I can tend to be a bit wordy.) It turned out I had a story.

When I was done, and it was time to send my story, I can’t begin to express the stomach churning that went into pressing send on that email. It felt like I had just ripped my chest open for the world to see.

I submitted my story to her, and then I waited. When she called me to let me know that it had been reviewed and accepted I was thrilled, but also terrified. People were going to read this story. That meant I was about to find out whether I really can write or not. I had opened myself up to criticism, something I hadn’t done with my writing in a very long time.

During the editing process, Holly got back in touch and said she had a challenge for me. She wanted me to also submit two poems of different types for possible inclusion. I hadn’t written poetry since college. I wasn’t even sure I could remember how.

But I did. And guess what? Poetry is not easy, and even MORE soul-bearing than writing fiction. I wrote two poems, one freestyle-ish (I won’t attempt to fool you into thinking I knew what I was doing) and one in iambic pentameter- quatrains and a couplet. Truthfully, I chose iambic pentameter because it was the only style I remembered from Mrs. Searle’s (I think that was her name) poetry class. Shakespeare probably just rolled over in his grave that I have the audacity to call what I wrote Iambic pentameter, but it was at least in the same ballpark.

Amazingly, my poems were accepted as well.

So now, I am a published author. I am currently working on a full length book, that I hope to have finished by the end of the year. Don’t ask me what it’s about, if I told you, I’d have to throw it away and start over. It’s just how I am.

Last night my mom and I got the chance to meet mystery author JA Jance. Ms. Jance has just published her 50th book, “Moving Target.”

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I have been reading her books since I was in high school, and I respect her work immensely.

She began by sitting down several minutes before the evening was officially supposed to start, and chatted with us. She gave us warnings about what NOT to say to an author at a book signing. For example, don’t ever tell her she looks tired. She’s promoting her 50th book. She sometimes goes to 3 or 4 book signings in a day. She said, “I’ve earned the right to be tired. You haven’t earned the right to tell me I look tired.”

She spoke about negative emails that she receives (she answers emails personally) and how she has chosen to handle them. She often writes a terse “thank you for your feedback” reply to those who are nasty, but that’s never the end of it. If you cross a mystery writer, she says, we have ways of dealing with it.

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She told how a University of Arizona creative writing professor wouldn’t let her participate because she was a girl. Funny thing, there’s a character in one of her books who is a Uof A creative writing professor. It doesn’t end well for him.

She also spoke of things that her readers criticize her for, things she includes in her books that some may feel are unnecessary. What the readers often don’t know is the story behind why she includes certain ideas, landmarks, characters. She said she often doesn’t know where the fiction ends and the truth begins, because there are so many of her real life experiences woven throughout.

She told a few stories to explain why certain aspects were included, and they made perfect sense. The reality is, she isn’t really writing for us. She’s writing because she has a story to tell. The two most important concepts I took away from last night were these:

1. Write what you know

2. Write what you want

It was confirmation to me that I’m on the right track. Or the WRITE track. (Good Lord do I love a bad pun. I shall include them because I WANT to.)