Walk the walk

Disclaimer: Despite the title, at no time during this blog will you find anything touchy-feely, enlightening, or socially redeeming. If you want self-awareness and personal growth, you should try www.DrPhil.com.

A well known author claimed that all writers should make a New Year’s resolution to “own” their profession. Even if your day job involves cow cadavers and goat guts, you need to define yourself first and foremost as a writer (and seriously consider a new day job).

Police officers have uniforms. Road workers have those ugly orange vests. Lawyers have Rolexes, penis cars, and $500 Italian leather shoes. Writers have half-price underwear. Since I don’t walk around with my Fruit of the Looms outside my pants (except on Tuesdays), how are people supposed to know my profession just by looking at me?

crime scene I was at a mystery shop in downtown Charleston last week, shamelessly trying to peddle my books when I saw it. It was blindingly yellow and majestic. Even though yellow makes my skin look like I just ate three pounds of undercooked pork, I knew it would be mine.

I walked out of the shop with my new scarf and a spring in my step. I looked like the epitome of a mystery writer, or a serial killer. I knew now that I would have the respect and admiration of all my non-writery peers. “Look at me owning it!” I thought.

My peers were staring blatantly at my scarf, or my boobs. Either way it was a win. I couldn’t attract any more attention unless my fly was down, and I had toilet paper stuck to my shoe. Do I regret spending $24 for a scrap of yellow fabric that accentuates the bags under my eyes? I figure it still looks better than Fruit of the Loom Tuesdays.

Not now, I have a headache

I’m not talking about sex. (Disappointed?) I’ve been on the receiving end of an email diatribe, which basically compares me to a baby eating, sociopathic anarchist. Apparently, I’m only one step above snail snot. Who knew?

By the third email, I started getting a headache. By the fifth, I was self-medicating with M&Ms. After that, there may have been talk of burning in hell, or dancing naked in a petting zoo. My eyes had glazed over, so it’s kind of a blur.

Fortunately, I’m an author. That means I’ve seen more rejection than Stevie Wonder at the DMV. I don’t know how I managed to live most of my life trying to make sure that everybody liked me. I was a serial people pleaser – enjoying the thrill of the hunt for people who would walk all over me. But there is hope for even the most hardened of cases. It all boils down to a two-letter word: “no.”

talk-to-the-hand “Talk to the hand” is so overused. If you need a subtle way to refuse someone you might try some of the following:

I have to check the freshness dates on my dairy products

I’m attending the opening of my garage door

I have to answer all my “occupant” letters

I promised to help a friend fold road maps

I’m waiting to see if I’m already a winner

I’m observing National Apathy Week

I love to help my friends when I can, but when you have to say no do they:

a) Accept it graciously and respect your needs and wishes; or

b) Accuse you of ruining their lives, contributing to global warming, and voting straight line Republican?

I’m fortunate to have friends who understand that I have limitations and who like me anyway. You guys are the best! To those who get bent out of shape when I have to say no, tough beans, at least I didn’t vote for Mitt.

One man’s road kill …

I think it’s safe to say that the average buzzard has a face only a mother could love. They do, however, have one thing in common with a new reality show coming out in January … a love for fluffy little woodland creatures too slow to make it across a busy interstate.

AMC will be airing “Immortalized” as part of their Thursday night line-up. It’s an elimination competition for competitive taxidermy. (No, I’m not making this up). In my upcoming humor book, I extol the virtues of taxidermy as a senior hobby, so I’m justifiably concerned that the show might start a run on glass eyes and epoxy.

I’m trying to envision how the show (which encourages pushing the envelope) might inspire some really macabre examples of the art form. Perhaps a raccoon painting a mural of a garbage dump?

What inspires a person to go into taxidermy? I read about a young woman who decided to take taxidermy to a new level by making jewelry out of various bits and pieces of the buzzard buffet. Mickey has a wonderful sense of humor about her craft, and has graciously given her blessing on sharing this story.

First off, Mickey Alice Kwapis is 22, petite, and adorable … all the things I’m not. She was driving home from a date at 2 a.m. one night, all decked out with hair, make-up, and a mini-skirt when she saw a dead raccoon in the road. She keeps rubber gloves and trash bags in her car for just such occasions. Who doesn’t?

I’m wondering what passing motorists thought when they saw her running down the middle of 10 Mile with a garbage bag, stiletto heels, and a gleam in her eye. (From a story originally printed in The Detroit News.)

I’ve been known to watch America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway, but I’m definitely setting aside 10:00 on Thursday nights for this one-of-a-kind entertainment opportunity. I don’t want to show up at the Senior Center and be the only one without fresh roadkill.

If you’d like to learn more about Mickey’s creations, you can visit The Detroit Academy of Taxidermy. If you’d like to buy some really unusual jewelry, you can find her work at Larkspur Lane Jewelry.

Yuletide Greetings

God rest ye merry ladies and gentlemen. No, really, take a break. It’s been an uneventful year here, aside from marriage, divorce, broken bones, kidnapping by pirates, and home invasions by rabid opossums.

The Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen, unless you count trying to find a parking spot at the mall. The 21st was violently windy here, but not even enough to budge a shingle, let alone bring on the second coming of Christ. Bummer! But tis the season to celebrate the first coming of Christ, which is the whole reason for the candy canes, Christmas cookies, pumpkin pies, and holiday-colored M&M’s. Do we see a pattern forming here?

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to offer a gift to my readers. Now, through January 20 you can go to Smashwords and download any electronic version of Box of Rocks for free, using the coupon code ME64G at checkout. You can also go to Amazon, where the price has been reduced to 99 cents. If you’re giving an ereader to that special someone, please feel free to load it up with some laughter and mayhem.

May your holidays be blessed and filled with love.

santa dog graphic


Going viral

I know for a fact that there’s something crawling around in my computer, probably evil, pointy toothed clowns. I hate when that happens. I keep getting “Stop Script,” my internet freezes, and I suspect that it’s shrinking my clothes, which would go a long way towards explaining camel toes and muffin tops.

I called up technical support and laid out $300 for them to move my cursor around and work their magic. It wasn’t until much later that I thought, “Mario can see everything inside my computer.” I’ve never met Mario, and although he was nice enough to recommend the two year package, he could be some demented sociopathic computer axe murderer.

Now I’ve let some complete stranger see my secret coconut macaroon recipe. Oh, and that whole identity theft thing. After the fact, but before telling my husband, I looked up reviews for them. I got redirected to “Scammers and Spammers.” Does this mean I’m going to get pop-up ads for Trojan condoms? I could live with that.

Naturally, I went to askleo.com, since Leo is the undisputed authority on all things computery. Leo assured me that the tech support company got a 92% satisfaction rating from some website watchdogs, and that lots of people are soft touches for high pressure sales pitches from Mario and door to door vacuum cleaner sales persons. I’m not the only yahoo out there with a credit card and a fiscal death wish.

The trump card for my husband: this is cheaper than getting a new computer. Ha! I may have reduced a code red situation to a code orange. This means either a) grudging acceptance on his part, or b) the threat of a dirty bomb in the Vatican. With all due respect to the Pope, I’m voting for A.

I haven’t had a stop script message for awhile, and my computer is running much faster, so I guess it was worth it. I’m just waiting to see if my clothes stop shrinking.

I think, therefore I am funny

I have a confession to make. Sometimes when I read a draft of one of my humor blogs I think, “Was I watching a mime walking against the wind when I wrote this?” (Caution: Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while watching a mime performance.)

Writers are about as confident as a computer geek in a biker bar. My humor book will be coming out in a few months. Even though it got rave reviews from both a magazine editor and an agent who critiqued it, I shelved it for two years. Now I’m pulling up my pants (don’t ask how they got down), shoveling the dust off (the manuscript, not my pants), and preparing to publish in the hopes that it will find a home on the back of thousands of toilets.

By the way, if you want to see the excellent cover art, you can go to the bookstore link at the top of this page. The artwork was once again done by El Kartun, who did the cover for Box of Rocks and has talent coming out his butt.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I’ll be guest blogging at Blogging Authors, where I’ll share my expertise on the basics of adding humor to your writing. Hope you can all stop by so I don’t look pathetic and lonely. What I didn’t mention in my blog is that crafting humor is hard work. If it were easy to find the humor in cow farts, everybody would be doing it.

Wish me luck as I put the finishing touches on a book replete with pathos, angst, drama, and hilarity, and noticeably free of mimes.

P.S. Graphics on this blog are used by permission. If you copy them, they will shoot me.

I like my stuff

Every time I moved, I would open a box of my crappy old stuff and feel like it was Christmas morning. “Oh look, the can of olives I bought in 1992!” (Shut up! It has sentimental value.) I’d really like to simplify my life, but you’ll have to pry that olive can out of my cold, dead fingers.

Once you kick the kids out of the nest, change the locks, and hire a bouncer to watch the front door, it’s time to consider downsizing. Do you really need to clean four toilets, six closets, and a double car garage? Why are you saving the size six jeans that stopped fitting about the time you started hot flashes?

I’m not suggesting that you move to the country and can your own pickles (dill spears). I just think there are so many things we can do without and still be happy. If you save your used candy bar wrappers, there’s no hope for you. Just sayin’.

The problem with this theory is that I really like my stuff. How can I part with the Christmas cookie cutters, the funky smelling old linens, the tarnished silver (plate), and all the duplicate toenail clippers? I’ve got a leg up on some people, since my fine china has the word “Dixie” stamped on it.

I try to will myself into living more simply. I may as well resolve not to snore or sleep with my mouth hanging open. Wanting it doesn’t stop me from being a candidate for a ridiculous you-tube video when I’m napping on the couch. What I need is a concrete plan.

For starters, I could do without:

Spammers, twenty pounds, rude customer service representatives, trips to the mall, elevator music, and horseradish. I’m already well on my way towards a simpler lifestyle. I’m open to suggestions on what else to eliminate. I don’t have all the answers, but at least I have my olives.

Giving them the business

For personal reasons (don’t ask) I’ve decided to strike out on my own business-wise, so I’m flogging my company, Tart Cookies back to life. This involves a whole lot of red tape, creating new accounts, and designing a logo that doesn’t look like a third grader’s rendition of two giraffes copulating (and you thought they were reading National Geographic for the stimulating articles).

Since I can’t afford pot roast, I thought I’d look into grants for small businesses. The internet tells me that the government is throwing free money at anyone with a pulse. I thought I’d look into it now, since the end of the Mayan calendar is just around the corner. (It’s also the reason that I’m not currently looking for a parking spot at the mall.)

For a modest fee, a team of experts will guide me through the process with no guarantees that I’ll get the grant. This smacks strongly of “bend over and take it in the rear.” I know that trying to find a grant on my own would take me into the next millennium (assuming the world doesn’t end), so I’ll start my business the old fashioned way—hemorrhaging money like a gaping chest wound.

They say you’ve got to spend money to make money. Done and done. In less than a month, my fledgling business has spent $250 and made $16. I love it when a plan comes together.

Still, I have full artistic license up the wazoo. I can write about vegetarian cannibals and rise or fall depending on my writing and marketing skills. Fortunately, I have a dear friend who works as my marketing director. I pay her in Three Musketeer bars and empty promises. She researches advertising, sets up gigs for me, and nags me about having my business cards handy at all times. I kind of suck at all the above, so I’m truly blessed to have her on my team. (Hee hee, I have a team.)

I’ve re-published Box of Rocks under my own label, and hope to have my humor book out in February or March. Wish me luck, and you can send contributions to hopelessoptimist.com.

Sew what?

I had alluded in an earlier post to the fact that it couldn’t get much crazier at Casa de Telega unless I woke up to find a goat in the bathtub eating the shower curtain. (No goats were harmed in the making of this analogy, and it was an ugly shower curtain anyway.)

A couple weeks ago, my daughter was stepping over a baby gate used to keep her dogs in the kitchen. She tripped and took a header onto the kitchen floor. She refused the breathalyzer, but there was an open container (box) of cheap red wine in the refrigerator. Coincidence? I’m not a doctor, but even I know that your shoulder shouldn’t be touching your elbow.

So she’s spending most of her days trying to find a position that doesn’t cause weeping and gnashing of teeth, and wondering in retrospect if she was wise to cancel her health insurance. Naturally, her thoughts immediately turned to mending—her clothes, not her shoulder.

She called and asked if I could bring my sewing basket to fix a rip in the lining of her husband’s leather jacket. This would involve sewing on my part. I have a pair of flannel jammies with a rip in the crotch. My philosophy: as long as you’re wearing clean underwear and your junk isn’t hanging out, you’re golden.

Since a ripped jacket lining is not cause for an indecent exposure arrest, this project seemed especially unworthy of my time. I left the sewing basket on her porch, rang the bell, and sprinted away.

When I broke my shoulder a few years ago, my daughter was there for me. She babysat me while my husband was at work. At no time did I ask her to do any sewing. What an idiot! Had I known that a broken shoulder was a free ticket to getting my jammies mended, I wouldn’t have had to change my underwear as often. Don’t get all uppity. Changing underwear with a broken shoulder requires a building permit and a licensed plumber. (Check Angie’s List before hiring Carl’s House of Hoses.)

Is it being selfish to refuse to squint until my eyes bleed while trying to thread a needle? It really all comes down to self-preservation. I can’t afford to be visually impaired in a house full of baby gates.

Winter whining-land

When I think of those people in the North who are without power, shivering in a nor’easter, I should be grateful for what I’ve got. Sadly, I’m not. Watching our pennies means keeping the thermostat down. In the cold, I have the blood circulation of a clogged toilet (without the ecoli). My hands get frostbite when I open the refrigerator door.

Winter doesn’t officially begin for another six weeks. That hasn’t stopped me from rooting around desperately for my flannel jammies and turtlenecks. I look in disbelief at the Land’s End catalog, where people look so happy cavorting in the snow in little more than a polar fleece vest and an ugly knit cap. You can’t convince me that someone’s not holding their pet hamster for ransom. “Smile, or the rodent dies!”

Yesterday we had hail – in South Carolina, for Pete’s sake! Crushed ice is only appropriate in slurpies. So every time I take the dog out, I have to put on my fuzzy robe, scarf, and gloves. I miss tank tops, shorts, and sweat. I’m having fond memories of hot flashes.

I rarely shave my legs in the winter because a) I’m lazy; and b) the hair keeps my legs warm at night, which is good since it doesn’t exactly entice people into cuddling. It’s like spooning a llama.

Yesterday, I ordered three new turtlenecks. I fully expect to spend the next few days with my nose pressed against the door, looking out the peephole for the UPS truck. C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! My current turtlenecks are getting frayed. I’m afraid to pull any dangling threads, lest the whole thing disintegrates in my hands like moldy cheese.

I pray for the folks up north without power, but selfishly, I pray for a mild winter here as well. Guess I better take the dog out. Have to stay awake so I don’t freeze to death. It can’t be above fifty degrees out there.