Welcome to my world. On the other pages of this site you will find everything you want to know about my writing.

On this page, you will find me.

This blog is not writing-centric, but rather, where I express whatever, whenever. Sometimes there will be writing announcements, but most of the time just me. Enjoy!

Offend This…

fuckoffoffensive  adjective
1. causing someone to feel deeply hurt, upset, or angry.

I call BULLSHIT. When did humans become such big babies? Offensive is nothing more than a made up word. It is designed to shift the blame away from the person choosing to take offense and dump guilt and/or subjective shame onto the person expressing their opinion. Someone’s right* to voice their opinion is now less important than that opinion being globally acceptable, making it now the fault of the person thinking, speaking, or acting freely according to their own beliefs, ideals, morals, or just stupid thoughts. Because yes, we are entitled to have our very own stupid thoughts. All of us. As often as we want. And we are allowed to share them, with friends, enemies and anyone who will listen. But we are not allowed to force other people to believe them, buy them, or even feel guilty because we had them. Apparently, therein lies the confusion. We each need to worry about ourselves, rather that being so overly concerned policing everyone else that we don’t even notice we’re worse than what we’re judging…

My mother taught me at a very early age that no one else can make you feel anything. You choose to feel it. And holy shit is everyone choosing to be offended lately. By everything… on the 24-hour channels of television, twitter, facebook, and anywhere else the planet has gone and given voice to everyone (including me, the irony isn’t lost, trust me) so they can have their little spaz attacks at 140 characters a blip, 50 million blips a second. Bullshit. All of it. And quite frankly, I’m sick to death of hearing about it. I cannot even count anymore how many times a day I see something and think “So? Get over it.” Now it’s my turn.

Grow. The fuck. Up.

You wanna believe in god? Good for you. Hope it helps you sleep at night. Leave me out of it. And hey, maybe keep in mind: the same rights that give you the power to believe, give other people the right to not agree with you. Until you convince the big man himself to come on down and smote someone on live television, nothing you think, say, or do will make you right and them wrong (including and especially, judging others… pretty sure it says right there in that super duper magical tome of yours “judge not lest…” how’s that go? Lest you get cheesecake? No, that’s not it. Oh yeah, don’t do it cuz your ass is gonna be judged by your god and you’re gonna have some ‘splaing to do. God called, he wants his book back.) Some of the best people I know are dirty rotten atheists. Some of the most horrible I know are Christian. I don’t blame their character on their belief or disbelief, quite the opposite.

You wanna be pissed off about Henry Rollins’ personal opinion? Tough shit. He gets to have one. And good for him for having the balls to say what he felt. Did I adore Robin Williams? Absolutely. Am I sad he’s gone? Absolutely. Will I pretend to understand what he was going through or why he made the decision he did, and therefore judge either him or anyone with an opinion about it? Nope. Did I think Henry Rollins owed anyone an apology? Oh hell no. Henry had the same rights to an opinion as Robin did to action. Don’t like what Henry said? Too bad. But hey, isn’t it cool how you have a right to not agree—however, you have to choose to be offended. Oh and pssst, Henry, *holds universal telephone hand gesture up to ear* call me. We’ll do drinks.

You wanna have some psychotic pseudo sex-police spaz because a comic book has a sexy woman on the cover? Are you freaking kidding me?! I wish I had Spider-Woman’s new ass. Almost as much as I bet some people (men and women) wish real boys had packages like those portrayed on Spiderman, Batman, and the rest of them in the fictional world of ink and paper. Screw that. Seriously. It’s a freaking comic book. Pick a real issue to have a fit about. Don’t know any? Watch/read the news for ten minutes. While you were whining about a drawing, several thousand people died for no good reason… in a couple different places…

Gonna dump a bucket of ice water over your head, donate the money, do both—good for you. Or did you plan to do neither and just bitch about it instead, without even looking up what the hell the cause even is? Get over yourself. ALS (and other issues, diseases, causes, etc that have been changed-up in the challenge as it spreads) is now not only collecting a metric butt-ton of money, it is doing exactly what it was designed to do: spread awareness. I bet you’ve heard of it now. Ignore it if you want, but could you do it quietly? Maybe with a shiny red gag ball in your face (you can find those at any outlet sex store currently riding the coat tails of 50 Shades of Gray, another topic everyone including my blind, deaf goldfish has an opinion about). You’re having a fit about a charity is not only painful to watch, it’s showcasing your inbred issues. Why not just go to the children’s ward at the cancer center and tell them all to stop whining and die already? Because seriously, that’s how stupid and insensitive you sound. Hope you or anyone you know is never afflicted with any medical condition…

Enough? You get it? Good, now shut the hell up and hug someone. And before you hop up on the soap box using your social media outlet of anonymity, perhaps you should use the soap to clean the windows in your glass house and take a good long look in the mirror. We are dust, people. That’s it. There’s a huge ass universe out there, Earth is but a dot among many, and we’re each less than a spec on it. We can’t control nature, we can’t stop time, but we can try and get along with each other. We don’t all have to agree—hell, it would be boring if we did—but we do have to co-exist, with reason rather than force. Don’t like something someone said or did, walk away, turn the channel, unfriend them, whatever. Just do it without choosing to be offended and thinking they owe you an apology. They don’t owe you shit, other than respecting your freedoms and life and not taking either from you.

Oh and really, Henry… call =)

*obviously I’m speaking of places where freedom of speech is a right, so don’t be a dickhead and try and come back with some lame argument for other places.

 

 

The Women Before Me

nana-mom-meIn this house we have chocolate cake for breakfast.
We never bother with silly things like bedtimes or brushing our teeth.
—Practical Magic, 1998

Life is short. Eat dessert first.
—Mom (started by someone else, adopted by mom long ago)

Listen to your heart, honey. Your mind is far too practical.
—Nana, 1918-2014

I’d like to introduce you to the people responsible for all the wonderfully bizarre portions of my crazy. My mother, aka “I was raised by a crazy woman” as you’ve heard me refer to her. And my nana, aka Fran or Frannie by those in her life other than me. These two women are stronger than any man I’ve ever known, more amazing than any magic trick I’ve ever seen, and wiser than the most scholarly among us. And they’re mine.

My mother is one of the toughest, hardest, strictest people on the planet. She’s straight forward, no bullshit, and can be mean as hell, but has a heart that softens the blow. She’s also goofy, lighthearted, and has a silly streak with a twisted sense of humor. She taught me to stand up when I find myself face down, and to help even those that don’t deserve it. She will stand back and let me fail or fall, but is always there to patch the wounds, mental or physical. She has always supported my dreams with the commentary of keeping a day job and watching my back. And she’s been both my biggest supporter and worst critic when it comes to my writing (it took more than several publications and many years for her to actually like something without having anything bad to say about it—I was certain she was a pod person that day!). She’s a nutjob that can make me laugh at the silliest and/or meanest things (really Mom, the feeb count?). And she can shame me or shut me up with nothing but a look. She gave me the sense of humor I have, and the sensibilities I rely on. She taught me to be strong. She taught me to be practical. She taught me to survive.

But this is more about Nana than Mom.

My nana? She’s the sweetest, kindest, most joyful soul I’ve ever known. She taught me to fish, and dream. She supported my horror habits early on by allowing me to stay up late on Saturday-sleepovers and watch the horror double features on Night Owl Theater as a child. She’s the reason we take pictures of our mishaps before we call 911 (no really, I fell down the stairs when I was three and this woman took me to Sears to get professional portraits of my double black eyes). And she whispered the above quote to me when I was much younger than I needed to be to understand it—I get it now. To some, she’s this quiet onlooker, enjoying her spot at the edge of the family circle and listening to the ruckus and stories and laughter around her. To others she’s an adventurer, always up for the Casino or a trip (though we’ll get to that “one trip” later.). To me, she’s always been something else.

We had many a quiet conversation between us, and even more one-line commentaries of the actions around us. And in those moments I both laughed and cried. The time I caught her looking at my grandfather (her ex-husband of many years at that point) with a loving memory twinkling in her eye, I raised an eyebrow. Her quiet comment caught my breath and held my heart. “I will love that man for the rest of my life, but I will not marry him a third time.” It brings tears to my eyes to this day to remember that moment. To so fully understand the meaning of those words. Words that haunt me on occasion. And when he was dying in the hospital, then married to the red-headed-she-devil (no, it’s okay. I’ll call her that to her face, because my nana said I do not have to be nice to her), Nana waited for me to get to town. After hugs, she asked me to bring her to visit him, “Because I know you will get me in there without her.” I laughed. Drove her to the hospital. Vanquished the she-devil. And gave her the time she requested. Needed.

nana-rosesMany giggles came either from this wonderful woman, or because of her. When she turned 90 we had a big ‘ol shindig. Relatives from far and wide. My cousins who couldn’t make it sent 90 red roses. That’s a lot of damn roses, people. She was placed on the hearth surrounded by her roses for pictures, all prime and proper. Then my camera came out and the fun began. She laughingly played along when I requested the rose in the teeth shot at left (possibly my favorite picture of her), and the only reason she wouldn’t let me throw them all on the rug and have her pose ala American Beauty was, “I’ll never get back off the floor!” She always had a twinkle in her eye as she watched everyone around her (her love and pride for us evident), and often snickered at off-comments we would make to each other. She was silly and openly wicked with me in our whispering, and yet, no matter how old either of us got, I was still prone to climb up into her lap and cuddle.

See, I was lucky as a child. My aunts and uncle had all moved away from home, so my sister and I were the only grandchildren who were local and I got to spent a lot of time with Nana. When I was younger we lived only three houses away. When she moved to the country, we added a lot of Saturday-sleepovers to give Mom some breathing room. I have so many crazy memories of her. Far too many to list them all, but a couple highlights would be apropos I suppose. Sitting on the huge JC Penny’s catalog at the table so I could reach (that was our booster seats back in the day and I’ve always been the short one). Being jealous of the wonderful smelling shakes she always made for the grown-ups (grasshoppers). Loving that she was allergic to strawberries but grew them anyway so my sister and I could gorge ourselves on them (yes, she’s the reason for my strawberry problem). Sending me to the garden to pick peas, fully aware I was going to eat more than I brought back into the house. Black patten leather shoes. White fur coat complete with muffs on a five year old. The dessert cart. Accidentally bleaching the one pair of name-brand pants I ever owned. Knowing that she purposely let me climb the pine tree and learn for myself why sapping trees are no friend to little girls with long hair. Crock pickles. Pointing at a vast forest at the edge of the river and saying, “Your great-grandmother is buried by that tree”—which one, Nana?! Making tents out of sheets on her clotheslines. That childhood Little Golden Book that I am determined to get my hands on for my little Raynebow. Hiding for hours in a corner of her attic because it smelled of age and memories and secrets. Her music box and Estee Lauder powder. The fake white Christmas tree. And that morning I was leaving the house to go to my first class of the day in college, and she was sauntering in with a smile on her face to visit mom—having JUST ended her hot date from the night before (go Nana!).

She survived the depression with a family living in her chicken coop. She was a nurse, mother of four, a single mother for a time, married and divorced my grandfather twice, worked her butt off, loved as hard as she lived, and lived a long full life. She was amazing. She taught me many things, and gave me advice so I could learn many more for myself.

The funniest lesson I take away with me is the one she taught me by making the mistake herself. See, that hot date from above turned into an honest-to-goodness boyfriend, and he absolutely adored her. Mom and I giggled at him being an older man (she was 70 he was 85). At one point, he wanted to take her on a trip to Europe to have an adventure. She declined. I gasped at her decision and occasionally teased her afterwards. And in the end, the last time we discussed it, we decided “if a man offers to take you to another country for an adventure—you pack your suitcase!” It’s the only mistake I’ll ever admit she made in her many years.

Looking over this, I see I’m bouncing between present tense and past. I’m not fixing it. I’m still adjusting to the reality of her passing. It’ll adjust itself with time, when I’m ready. Sleep tight, Nana. Thank you for helping to make me the wonderful-crazy I am today. I hold your memories and lessons dear, and will never forget either.

Note: I wrote this before the funeral, but it needs a brief addendum. A nursing student interviewed her for an assignment a while back and we had it printed and posted at the funeral. From the end of that paper — Frances believes she’s had a pretty good life, with ups and downs, goods and bads, but if given the choice, she wouldn’t change anything about it. If she could give any advice for the living she would say, “Just be happy.”

Will do, Nana.

 

 

Dance With Me

tango-lesson“Please, just for me, forget the steps…
Hold me, feel the music,
and give me your soul.
Then I can give you mine.”
~Sally Blake, author of Happy Tango

The modern tango is a dance which borrows from a multitude of cultures, combines traditions from dozens of countries, has many musical influences, and is a pure amalgamation of the physical movement of an emotional soul.

It has both smooth effortless-appearing moves, and sharp twists and turns to break up the monotony. The steps ebb and flow with the music, while the fervor and passion ride the chords like a wave. It is perfect. The perfect dance. The perfect expression. The perfect balance. It requires flexibility, trust, faith, grace and guidance.

It is love in the form of motion.

I took dance as a kid, and by kid I mean from about 8-17 (when I promptly destroyed my Achilles tendon and had to leave dance behind). But I didn’t have partner classes. I was in group tap dancing—large ensembles of stumbling children alongside the more graceful toe-clicking students (I was both, in order). And I was in ballet, specifically pointe, aka up on my toes rather than in soft flats (explains those calves of mine, doesn’t it!). But ballet class was just me and the scariest tiny little woman I’ve ever known—who slapped my calves with a stick and was constantly saying “higher”, “head up”, “stretch your neck/spine”. But I was alone in ballet. No other students. No partner, ever. Thus, I’ve had classical training in the art of dance, but absolutely none of that taught me how to dance with another soul.

So I do not know how to tango. I can barely do the box-step with someone without laughter. Oh, but it’s on my bucket list. Near the top, actually. Complete with the shoes, the dress, and the rose in my teeth. But I need a partner. Someone willing to get their toes stepped on. Someone patient enough to teach me how to follow rather than lead. Someone I can trust not to drop me. Someone whose moves both echo and complement my own. Someone who understands the intimacy of the dance—the grace and forgiveness required. And someone who, if they don’t know all the steps just yet, is eager to take on the adventure as a partner, a team.

Doesn’t sound like a tall order, but it is. Everyone enjoys watching the tango in movies or at wedding receptions, many will jokingly perform the basic and/or most well known positions and moves, but I’ve yet to find one that actually wants to complete the dance. And so I am stuck in the familiar, dancing alone. And when that music starts, I stand back and watch the couples lucky enough to have the partner and know the moves, as they grace the dance floor with beauty and emotion. A wallflower in the music hall.

Until we get to the page. Then I can dance.

They say writing is a solitary thing, but that’s not entirely true. While we writers live in our own heads (sometimes to the detriment of our relationships) and dance with our own creations (characters we often know better than even our closest friends), we do invite the reader to the dance floor. The act of writing is solitary, but the twists and turns, the grace and beauty, is truly a dance of its own with our readers.

I may not have found a partner willing to learn how to tango on the dance floor, but if I do my job correctly as a writer, I will tango with the reader until the last sentence. And as the last notes fade into the corner of the dance hall, and the words creep off the page and into their heads, they should be left out of breath, feeling a bit seduced, with a sense of satisfaction… And a rose in their teeth.

 

 

 

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Photos attached to my blogs are the property of their owners -- some mine, some found online. If your image is here and you want it down, let me know. If you don't mind, thank you for the borrow =)