Two months already

My readers know that when I go dark (e.g don’t blog), life is brutal. Ironically, good things can actually serve like lights in the midst of a blackout; little points on the horizon that reminds me life exists outside my own microcosm of a universe. So since the Illustrious She and my cousin Nance have both now given me swift kicks in my be-hind, I’ll write a few notes on the last 60 days.

In 2 months:

1. I’ve had a relationship enema. I’ll blog at some point about the true-isms of finding renewed peace, energy, love and sex with your spouse/partner, but anyone in a relationship knows that those things don’t come without massive emotional constipation, tears, fury and the ultimate decision made famous by The Clash, Should I Stay or Should I Go. Children of the 80’s know that to stay means trouble to go means double. Tip. If you wake up and state 5 great things about your life, family, your partner, the day goes a little better, the sun seems a little brighter, and then a day passes, then its a week, then its a month. Then it’s a way of being. Do clouds come? Oh yeah. Thunderstorms? of course. But the lightening hurts a little less (or doesn’t make a direct hit).

2. Physical pain brings enlightenment. Why is it that God chooses to divert my angst and simultaneously humble me through physical travails? The day after I returned from Mexico last wk w/the family, I crushed the bones in my left hand. Who does this happen to? (me) Why? (clearly, I need it). Last wk I read in the Times a journalist who espoused that God doesn’t love the wealthy more and yet doesn’t love those who suffer any less. We are responsible for our own success, happiness and injuries. Ok. Then I’m an idiot for pulling out weeds in our pond, stepping on a rock, slipping and in an attempt not to get freezing water inside my chest-high waders, I thrusted my hand forward, thereby hitting another set of rocks and cracking my hand. I’m all about self-love now. Good thing I’m right handed.

3. Family vacations are great for kids and tiring for parents. 6 wks ago went to Puerto Vallarta with Rog. It was relaxing, got lots of time at the gym, and went to clubs/shows every night. I slept in. It was glorious. I thought-my kids will love this. For spring break, we went back down. It wasn’t relaxing. I spent zero time at the gym, but we hit shows every night (my kids are like that). It wasn’t relaxing. What it was however, was family-unit building, wherein the girls played, swam, made crafts, waterslided-their-hearts-out, and ate food from 10-10, all amongst mostly Mexican nationals, which had a side effect of improving their Spanish. The nt before we returned, daughter #2 got an earache, thus I was up all night, holding, comforting and administering Menthal (a natural earache healer I got at the local Pharmacia), fervently praying she’d be well enough to go on the plane. I came home needing a vacation.


Chambers in Poland. to be releaed May 2015

4. Authoring is no longer a hobby. Two days ago I approved the cover for Chambers in Poland. The book comes out next month. This is four countries now, and while I’m happy about it, honestly, I still feel like a complete loser. The largest publishers in 3 foreign countries have taken on this book, but no major US publisher (they are apparently still pissed that I gave the film rights away thereby cutting them out of the deal). I’m like David Haselhoff without the chest hair. I’m really big in countries where I don’t speak the language. In the interim, 2 books in my adult fiction line are almost done, and I’m constantly battling with Rog who is convinced I’m having mental affairs with the men I write about (some who I kill off, others who are completely hot. I can hear my mother-in-law laughing about the truth of this). Finally, in exasperation, I retort “Right, and I’m the lead girl in all my books, like just a schizophrenic-Sybil-like person. Gah!” (Us intelligent author-types can say that).

5. Billionaires like my food. I’ve been telling a particular person “No” to a project for some time. Said person flies west to call on me (sounds very 1800’s does it not?) brings spouse to my home, gives us amazing host/hostess gifts (exotic food and jewelry). I make food my family will eat and not offend my guests sensibilities (which I’ll detail in another blog, along with the recipes) and in the end, after 4 hours, I still say no. We all ended friends (they particularly liked my crab cakes and chocolate mousse). Said billionaire came back later and said-“I’m not interested in anyone else. I’ll wait for your schedule.” In my ever eloquent way, I said to myself, Holy crap. And this is why this person has billions. Perseverance. Patience, and the ability to wear others down.

Beyond these uber-level highlights:


comes in either capsule or liquid form. use 2x a day on an empty stomach. unreal results in 30 days but can see results in 2 wks

1. I’ve proven that the Omica brand Super Zlite Zeriolite capsules really do improve hair quality and thickness (it has ash, which strips the body of metals, which in turn increase hair and nail growth).

2. I desperately miss my chocolate ice cream. I want it. I can’t have it. I think about it all the time. Fondly. I daydream about it. Yes. I’m that pathetic.

3. I truly enjoy my readers from Russia (who, might I add, have great taste in watches and sportscars?) Who cares if the president is off his rocker? So is ours.

4. I’ve discovered Mulco Swiss watches. (My readers know that watches to me are like crack. I can’t get enough. And as my husband points out, crack is a lot cheaper, but at least this way, I have my teeth).

chumlee for president

my favorite episode in recent months is where Chumlee makes a coin. mighty fine looking president

5. I fear for Comedy Central.Can they lose any more good hosts (actually, are any left?) and finally, What. In. The. World. has happened to my favorite people of Pawn Stars? The shows success has made what was great complete crap, esp Rick. He’s now stilted and boring. Make Chumlee and Big Hoss the leads, please. And BTW. the last time I was in Vegas, I saw “the Old Man” driving a stinking Bentley! Show up to the actual store and learn that he and Rick are never actually there. Just come in on “show times.” Ugh. I hate it when something goes from pure to completely manufactured.

6. Bowing to publisher-pressure, I’m now on Instagram under my own name, sarahjgerdes. I haven’t really figured it all out- as in, what’s interesting and what’s not. My publishers want me to revert everything back to my blog, and I’m not interested in posting what I ate for breakfast. I’ll probably offend as many people as I entertain, but then, that’s me. (I do have to say I like following Ducatistas and Porsche and airplanes. very cool images and satisfies my penchant for  machines and speed). I do have to say I wish I knew the last names of people I’ve met. I’d follow them and keep tabs but alas, I’m so caught up in the person I don’t get it. sigh.

7. Vancouver BC was fun, esp given that we found a new place to stay for the hockey tournaments. It spurned me into becoming a travel reviewer, because the place we stayed at got such bad reviews, I had to dispute it. Thus, now you can find me in Trip Advisor under Sarah G. (I know. You can’t get quite enough of me, but this is solely reviews of places, nothing more).

Shamans, gambling and throwing bad energy

Last winter, I’m on the massage therapists’ table, and the big, bespectacled man says, “I’m feeling something like grief…right here,” as he touches a part of my foot. He traces “a line of grief” he says, and asks me if something has happeShaman picned but quickly says I don’t have to tell him anything, only noting “that it’s rising to the surface, so that indicates it’s been in the last few months and you have been suppressing it.” Shocker. Not me.

At that point in my life, I’d only had one item of grief to note, and it was my dog dying (cue sad country song as you dig deep and try to empathize). For those without dogs or children, think about it as the closest living being that you have spent more time with than anyone save yourself, and if you like yourself even a little, you might get the picture. In any case, I feel rather stupid, but I tell him my dog. This begat silence as he worked my body “Through the pain,” as he called it, which meant that I was emitting physical and emotional pain for the rest of the session. It hurt. It was exhausting, but I felt like a million bucks when I left.

As a part of this experience, I asked how he knew, because this wasn’t the normal massage-therapist “I felt something in the muscles,” experience. “I’m an energy worker,” he answered. My response was more than an understanding. I immediately guessed he’d been working with Shamans, or those that in the US, are typically of Native American descent, but can be from anywhere in the world or any race etc. Over the course of his life, he’d trained himself to be more receptive to the energy forces around him. He revealed he could tell something was up the moment I entered the room (by something is up, he meant that he knew I ‘was bottling negative energy and a lot of pain).

Fast forward a few months, I have a conversation with Susan, a woman of Native American descent who is in fact, a Shaman. From her early years, she could see and speak to spirits on the other side (they don’t call them spirits, they are called ‘ancestors,’ for they came before her, not those who are yet to come). We got to talking about my latest book and I was asking her if some individuals who are gifted in the area of energy use their talents for evil.

“All the time, unfortunately,” she answered, catching me by surprise. She then told me of a man who, like she, was born with natural gifts. Apparently it is rare that a male can retain these gifts as they age, because ego and passion get in the way- and when it does, the energy talents are used for self-benefit. Me being me, I ask- “Like what can/did he do?” She told me that as a youth, he would throw bad energy on his classmates to ensure they failed a test and he got better scores (by this time, apparently the elders were onto him and had to watch his every move). He would take a bet and then throw energy on two guys who were friends but suddenly get into a fight and he could win a bet. This graduated into full on stealing (a passerby would grab a woman’s handbag out of the blue and then drop it a block later), and this guy would pick it up. She kept detailing a life of progressive crime that eventually landed him in jail, and I was fascinated and appalled.

“How can anyone protect themselves?” I wondered. She basically said that a person has to have a strong internal core: immovable values and a pure mind, not one that is easily swayed by outside influences, and generally good.

“If a person has a persuasion to live life on the line, or can be moved to tell a white lie now and then, or realize that an item at the store wasn’t paid for and they don’t go back, that alone is the crack in the exterior. It makes then vulnerable.”

I’ve since used this general theme in my latest book (the time/travel action adventure series), but I think about it often. “Just a crack” is all it takes, but doesn’t that apply to so many things. Give me a bite of chocolate and I want the whole candy bar. Give me a kiss and I’ll take the whole body. So many temptations, so much discipline required.

Kissing Pete Townshend While Living on a Prayer

Kissing a rockstar was never on my bucket list of things to do. Still isn’t. Yet, when the opportunity presents itself, one must take it, mustn’t one?

It all started when Rog said that ‘we needed a break’ and he wanted to spoil me. I don’t recall the order of those two comments, but when one is offered a Mexican vacation, the standard response should invariably be ‘yes.’ When he asks about where I want to stay, I didn’t have an opinion (when you’ve been going to Mexico for as long as I have, you’ve pretty much seen it all–or so I thought).

A day later he tells me he has mixed it up and booked the Hard Rock Hotel in Puerto Vallarta. Yes, I’d seen the ads for the one in Las Vegas (in case you have missed the MTV-like commercials, everyone has seemingly stepped from the pages of a magazine, the music is all that is hot and sexy and the food heaven sent), and yes, they were offering a special ($1,500 worth of hotel credit). Thus, I checked out the spa, read the reviews (mixed on all aspects) and said ‘why not?’

So it was that the plane ride down was all about introspection. That ended the second we pulled up to the hotel and was assaulted with You give love a bad name by Bon Jovi. I turned to Rog. “You made sure to order up all the sexy people right?” He nods, humoring me.

At the counter, we are informed we can rent any one of 22 Fender guitars, along with headsets and amplifiers to we can practice without disturbing anyone. I don’t catch his last comments because A Whitesnake song comes at me from above, like a demon from hell, piped down in overhead speakers (and I only know its Whitesnake because Rog tells me). As we walk through the lobby (with looping videos of Pitbull and past a stream of authentic rockstar items), I’m suddenly face to face with a lifesize picture of the Guns-N-Roses band members. I realize that Slash has bigger hair than me (I feel a twinge of jealously) and Axl Rose was so skinny his entire waist was the size of one of my thighs.

2015-02-20 23.59.58

post Tom Petty and pre Spinal Tap

It’s about four pm, and as we head into the elevator, I’m starting to snicker. No sexy people. The original flag from Woodstock (it’s of big lips btw) hangs just below the arch of the hallway is the line “Love in an elevator,” by Steven Tyler, nicely called out in subdued, foot-size silver lettering. Are you getting a visual yet?

Blessedly, the room has no music, but I can hear the blasting from the pool area. It’s Back in Black and I start to fantasize about earphones and my favorite Sesto Sento Moby remix–really loud.

You can do this, I tell myself. It’s only a week. I keep hope alive that poolside will feature people in my decade and those that evidently chose the music. But first, I want to work out. The sun is setting, the breeze is coming in. The music in the gym has got to match the vibe. Steel, modern, pool front with the ocean in the background. Rog even takes a picture (the smile is genuine. I’m in a warm place, not much clothing and am positive the gym will be rocking).

2015-02-19 19.59.26

Spinal Tap is alive…every day at the gym

It is. To Tom Petty. Who. In. The. H**l works out to Tom Petty? He’s a great writer of lyrics, of course, but I certainly don’t feel like having my heart drug around.

That’s quite alright I repeat to myself, smiling falsely at Rog. I don’t want him to feel bad for booking this place nor do I want to appear an ungrateful shrew for hating the music. I walk forward with fortitude. Right into a life-size picture of Spinal Tap. For my dear readers who are as cool as I am, do you know who Spinal Tap is? I didn’t. Rog did (his Colorado roots are starting to seep through, don’t you think?). Now folks. When working out, isn’t it more appropriate to see images of beach bodies–or no images at all, rather than be forced to look at a skinny man poured into a lycra outfit that should only be worn by downhill skiiers racing at 100MPH? My thoughts exactly.

I know at this point, you really don’t believe me (I could barely believe it myself), so I started taking pictures as evidence. I made it through the workout, thanking Steve Jobs once again   (may he rest in peace) for the iPhone that saved my ears, changed for dinner and walked to the elevator.

Two things then happened at once. The first is I was struck by Bon Jovi everywhere singing Living on a Prayer.

my air guitar

my air guitar

The second thing was I had (somehow) missed the image of Pete Townsend in front of me, doing the air guitar movement. (I call it this because most men who insist on doing the air guitar never, ever, actually have a guitar. They just think it’s cool to whip their arm around as though they were, are or in their fantasy, will be, Pete Townsend. But I digress).

I can’t take it anymore. I lose myself to the notion of being a product of the seventies, channeling my inner flower-child-meets-bic-lighter-groupie and stand by Pete. In a single moment of rock-star-ness, I swirl my arm like every seventeen year old wanna-be guitarist and I become one with the picture. Of course it would only be fitting that in my moment of anonymous greatness than a woman walks by. She offers to take a photo and I do what I’ve never previously wanted to do. I kissed the rock star. Or at least his picture. That’s as close as I’m ever gonna get. kissing peteAnd as the final notes of Bon Jovi fades, I’m thinking about my prayer. One that includes music from the 90’s, 00’s, 10’s and maybe, just maybe if I’m really lucky, 2015. That is, if my prayers are answered.

Marriage longevity & the mantra of Time will Tell

Thursday morning I took a flight down to Mexico for a week, stuck on an aisle (I’m a window gal, more privacy) and had a couple beside me. He, looking like a throwback from the seventies with shoulder-length graying hair and a Geraldo Rivera-wide mustache that begged to be trimmed, and she still sporting a mullet, the puffy rims around her eyes barely moving as she concentrated on the itty-bitty phone in her hands. Her thumbs moved frantically as she attempted to kill whatever demons were in a game more suitable for an eight-year old. They say little and smiles are non-existent. The mood turns surly when they learn wine isn’t complimentary as it was on their earlier Horizon flight, which means instead of saying two words to each other and one sentence to me (“I need to use the toilet.” No please or excuse me. Ahh. These Canadians. So direct).

I sigh, thinking the four hour flight will be a long one and open my laptop and turn up the first of many songs I scored in Switzerland last year (of course, they are everywhere thx to Internet radio. I just happened to used my Shazam while I was in a club and it was the direct route). As I’m doing so, I turn to my right and see another couple, roughly the same age, but opposite in every way, already talking to Rog. I lower the music just enough to hear the banter about the flight, hometowns and how nice it will be for that Canadian couple to escape the quasi cold of Quebec to hit the shores of Mexico. I guess they are ten years older than the couple next to be by virtue of grey hair and wrinkles.

Two hours and a cheese plate pass me by. I unplug and hear the man (who I learned is Stanley) and Rog swapping pilot stories. Rog, once again bemoaning his “bad eye” that didn’t allow him to fly fighter jets but he can fly his own planes–so comforting, right? When they start talking hockey, I check out. I up the volume and return to my screen, which is far more exciting that talking about the Blackhawks and Patrick Kane (which is what Rog wants to name our next dog. May our present dog live until after I die). Stan’s wife has also checked out. Periodically, I see the man glance over to me in an ‘oh, really?’ type of way, his eyebrows raised, and I fear for what my husband is telling the man. Whatever, I say to myself. I’ll never see him again.

An hour before we land, my battery runs out and I’m too lazy to get up and retrieve my powercord. I eavesdrop again and learn the man has been married 47 years. Forty-sevennnnnn. Now, I pause to remember my own parents have been married over 50, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I listen. I observe, and then I it hits me. He has a permanent smile on his face, his hands are animated, but not overly so. His eyes are bright and alive. Stan has a vibrancy and zest for life that exceeds his seat and pushes out and over him, front, back and sideways, to me. I momentarily visualize the airframe of the plane bulbing out at his positive energy. His wife, although in to her book, periodically touches his arm, gives a smile or leans her cheek on his shoulder.

47 years. Happiness. Zest and vibrancy. I do what I do, and start asking questions. What do you get a person for an anniversary gift after 47 years? Answer: “Nothing,” replied the wife, who never did offer a name. “We stopped at year 30. We don’t need anything.” How do you remain so happy? Answer: “What’s not to be happold couple photoy about?”

Eventually,  I ran out of questions that I wanted to ask, because I went inward, thinking about the couple next to me, and how they were literally consuming the lifeblood from within the plane (including my own). Then, I thought about me and those that I know- both in relationships or married. Where does the longevity come from–within–is what I think Stan would say. But as I’ve been sitting poolside or walking the beach or working out, I’ve thought more about the experiences that comprise 47 years–everyday, week and month–each one with choices that determine our happiness that hour, day or month. It all adds up. Can I do more? Yeah. Will I do more? Yeah.

When Stan looked me in the eye and said, “The best years are still to come,” he said it with conviction. I looked him right back and thought to myself, catch me in about 30+ years and I’ll let you know.

The irritation of air-kissing

For readers who have followed me for several years, it is a known fact that when my life gets hard (aka, I’m thinking that a nice, summer tour of the grand canyon without sunblock or water sounds awesome) I go underground. I stop writing. Eating becomes discretionary. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have encounters that are seriously irritating. Let’s talk about air kissing for just a moment, shall we?

Yes, air kissing. This social habit that came overseas from our civilized European counterparts.

Here’s my issue. It’s all about the invasion of my personal space, the familiarity of someone kissing me that I barely know, or don’t know, or have just been introduced to that bugs me out. My reserved, puritan ancestors knew that our one-space is an invisible line, only to be broken by a short, thrust of a hand. It’s worked for a thousand years

this is what I visualize when someone comes in for an air kiss

this is what I visualize when someone comes in for an air kiss

and it still works for me.

Yet time and traditions were passing me by, for as I remained a mole at my own house, having kids, writing, and being less than social, this phenomena had taken hold, like a contractable disease jumping from one person to another with each hen-peck. Little did I know that signing off my emails with an xoxoxo to my relatives (or the few non-relatives that I totally adore) didn’t count.

The moment of truth came when I got on a plane to Los Angeles and entered the world of air kissing. It was as though the handshake had given way to an air-kissing otherworld. A director meets me for the first time, leans in to me, arm touching the center of back and plants one on my check.

It was odd. I’m unprepared. Do I kiss back? Do I turn my head? Do I touch his back? He was tall and good-looking, and I briefly wondered if I was stepping over the line of marital infidelity if I enjoyed the act. I instinctively pulled back, catching the glance of the one man I knew (my producer) who clearly enjoyed my discomfort. The evil man then proceeded to introduce me to the others in the room, knowing exactly what was coming.

Several other men and their lips came careening towards me. My inner Swede rebelled. This wasn’t a family gathering, a wedding or a funeral. It was a business meeting. We didn’t know one another, and with the exception of one person I’d worked with, wasn’t even sure if I was going to like these cheek-invaders by the end of the day. Didn’t they know my cheek was reserved for a scant handful or special individuals??

It got me thinking-what if everyone in the high tech world started planting kisses as a way to start a meeting. Can you imagine? Hi, my name’s Steve Balmer, smooch my cheek. The Googlie’s and Microsoftie’s might get more softie if each gathering started with smoochies. It could devolve into a group hug-fest.

I had visions of air kissing spreading across industries, job sectors and vocations like the ebola virus running amuck. This begat a business opportunity, (for us Swedes are opportunistic along with prudish). Cheek wipes. The packaging could be blue and red. Skulls and crossbones. Breastcancer pink and Lance Armstrong yellow. Living free implies absence of disease, and I’m all about no lip-yick from strangers.

And another thing, it’s always the ‘right’ cheek. Who established this as the protocol? By the end of the first day in LA, the first epidural layer of my right cheek had been kissed off.

I took note around me. The restaurants were full of individuals greeting one another, cheek to cheek, lips sort-of touching sideways, full of the strange, TV-love that doesn’t mean much. Heck. If I’m going to kiss someone, I want them to feel it.

This inspired another thought. Kiss devaluation. It’s like the dollar against the Yuan, it’s been so overused and slighted, the value has plummeted, causing an emotional deficit. My ah-ah moment came when I then connected the dots from kiss devaluation to the overall moral decline in society. With the kiss worth nothing, one must naturally move to the next step that’s meaningful. For lack of a better analogy, first base…second base….

I made it through the latter hours in Los Angeles by releasing my inner Swede. I took control. I put my foot down and erected my protectionist barriers. When a tall, hedge fund manager with a diamond-encrusted watch the size of a pancake on his wrist made his forward-leaning play, I stepped back, thrust out my hand and said,

“Nice to meet you,” before turning and sitting down. It was rude, I know. But he had two things going against him—potential blood diamonds and association with the phrase hedge fund. Using similar tactics, I made it through two more sets of interactions. I thought I was in the clear when I got up to leave for my flight. Four men were sitting at the table, and in a unifying show of politeness, they all stood.

“Oh, no,” I protested, waving for them to sit. “Don’t get up for me. It’s not like we’re on a date!”

The aforementioned friend nearly choked on his tongue with laughter. It just came out, and before I could cover my faux-pa with a nicer comment, the first man came in for the goodbye hug, saying he “Wasn’t going to let me getaway with that.” As I’d grown to like this particular guy in a platonic-business-type-of-way, I was OK with the air kiss that time, though I still slightly turned my head. I didn’t want to risk contact-by-lip. Didn’t matter. They came one by one like mourners at a wake.

Once back in the safe cocoon that is my ‘hood, I’m comforted that air kissing is likely limited to the transplants from the east coast, LA or Europe.  But I did come up with a great excuse. “Sorry, just getting over a cold.” The hand is retracted, the forward momentum stopped–it’s awesome. From now and for the rest of my life, I’ll be the sickest person you will ever meet, but my lips will be luscious and pure, which is all I want.



Need an experience? Take a walk…

Complainers don’t have a role in my life. You know the type: at the office (the person who can’t find a solution, only a problem), in the neighborhood (the tree is too tall, not hey, I’ll cut it down)..and worst, at Staples (“If the credit card isn’t going through, its your system, not my credit.” -true story).

My recommendation? Take a walk. Get that fat-A** off the chair and out of the cubicle, and take a walk down to your managers office. See if his/her job is really that much easier that yours (and for more pay) or if it’s a major headache, full of stresses and issues and turmoil that would make a person go postal. And when at home, walk the dog, visit the neighbors and see what real problems are all about.

To wit: Three of our (older) neighbors have some sort of debilitating disease–and have gone from vibrant, happy, healthy people to being unable to drive, barely making it up the stairs and reaching the point of a in-care facility. And I’m not talking about aged people–just those who have a strain or gene or

The walk today..but my Dawg  got shy and pulled out of the pic

The walk today..but my Dawg got shy and pulled out of the pic

whatever in their life that made them susceptible. Also on walks, I’ve run into bears (ok, a mama and two cubs, but I walked past w/my pit bull and little girl, who were both blessedly unaware), and down to another (younger) couple. In the last year, she’s taken up smoking, started galavanting around (an appropriate word, I think), while her husband and two kids are kicking it at home. Then another older (single) man down the road, had his cat run over (accidentally by my husband, in his truck, I later learned), his wife die (of natural causes, not my husband) and a tree fall on his garage! All within 30 days!!

This points to the lives of other people, their travails, self-inflicted or fate, and the comparative “sane” nature of my own existence (as if anyone who knows me and my triple type-A would consider me such). I’ve learned that the next hill over, the power lines have caused cancer in most of the dogs (the really nasty kind, the gives bumps before itching then grows with such speed that the internal organs are overwhelmed within six months and have to be put down), and that two men working for Microsoft, both with children at home, were let go in the latest round in July (both were director level and very well known-but the entire division was cut)…and they were mowing/blowing, jobless and depressed.

At the bottom of this five mile, hill and valley loop I normally walk, I always go by a woman who is roughly my age, three kids, oldest is a senior and youngest twelve. Her husband sold his company for about $8M two years ago, stopped going to church, took up remodeling old cars (and not even the cool ones like the Mustangs or 67 Corvettes, but lame ones which I shall not name for fear of offending anyone). He grew a beard, got a gut and generally speaking, made it all about him. (And might I just note that he was probably the best looking man at church, trim, thick hair, great jawline. Unrecognizable now. If that’s what money does, stay with the day job. Please). In this same time, his wife completed her Master’s in counseling, started a practice and is still the sweet, soft-spoken size 8 girl she’s always been. Go figure.

Then I walk the straight portion of the road where a million cars pass me before turning left and up my road. Past the belching frogs (it’s cold now, no belching), but lots of moles tearing up the lawns. Past a contractor who lost it all in the last recession and has been living with his attorney-girlfriend and her two kids. I only know this because he had up a sign for services, so I had him to the house for a bid, thinking that I’m a good neighbor, helping out the locals. Imagine my disappointment when he gave me a figure that was double the two others I had. (His was $44K versus $18 and $21 respectively). Maybe there’s a reason he went under and is kicking it with his girlfriend.

By the time I reach my home, I’m sure my legs and butt are tighter and my life, with its own pimples and periodic bursts of extreme badness really isn’t as bad as those around me–perhaps a little or a lot better. So with that perspective (and given the recent case of figurative facial breakout I’ve undergone), I’m going to head out for a walk. Maybe I’ll do two-laps, just for good measure.



My tree of love

IMG_3337Being eccentric isn’t for just the old and decrepit, or wealthy and bored. You too, can embody the glorious traits of being eccentric by being right in the middle–young, fit, good-looking and able to pay the bills. When it comes to being eccentric, by motto is be smack dab in the middle, thereby avoiding the being in either the bottom, or top, 1 percentile.

I’m embracing eccentricity and being positively middle-of-the-road by keeping up my Christmas cards…for the. If that’s not eccentric, I don’t know what is (well, I do, but the list is too long and as She constantly reminds me–keep it short. 4- paragraphs. I’ve got kids!). In my burgeoning strangeness, I’ve renamed my log pole to my Tree of Love. I think it fits, and here’s why.

1. People must love me (or my family). I have proof. This gives me a certain comfort when I’ve fallen from my mountain and into the valley, sometimes doing a nose-dive and not a smooth slide. Seeing the cards reminds me I have friends & family who care, and more to point, who I might actually call if I need some help.

2. Others have struggles. I know, Christmas cards are supposed to present the best face- hair is combed, outfits are coordinated etc. And more often than not, the accompanying notes of travel, graduation and births are positive. But every so often, one comes out that calls it like it is (think of my Christmas card 2013- death, death and pain). Do you know I received more comments, calls and outright expressions of love and caring from that card than any in the 12+ yrs I’ve been sending cards. Tells me one thing. Reality sometimes hurts. Honesty is good. (Of course, this year, I skipped the badness and just put in travels and happy things. I don’t want to create the impression I’m Winnie the Pooh running around with a little black raincloud hovering above my head all the time).

3. It’s a conversation starter. Like most folks with one foot in the business world, we entertain. Over the years, it seems more professional acquaintances come by than friends (friends have lives/children/spouses who complain we live too far out in the sticks). Not surprisingly, the conversation will sometimes lag. The first thing a guest will do (first-timers) is check out the photos. On the piano- or the tree of love. That begets conversations about all kinds of things which is a lot of fun. (Of course, just for kicks, I’ve been tempted to create a card that looks like it was sent from a prison, just to see what happens. I’m evil that way)

4. It’s a one-shot gauge of life. This is interesting to me. At first, we had a few cards, then more, then for a couple of years, over a hundred. We felt seriously loved, and had to put the cards on two different logs. Then the cards started dwindling (see my early blog on excising people from my xmas card list). I suppose people were doing that to us: our kids no longer attended the same school, the couple divorced and we were collateral damage, postage was too expensive. This year, we received 24 cards from family and friends. Our accountant was the only non F & F to send a card, but since he knows more about our state of affairs than any other living person, he probably counts at least in the friends category.

Twenty-four families who care, who I care about and who are in my life. That’s the kind of love I want to look at all year long.

The bad boyfriend is me- the girl

bad boyfriend blog

Do bad boyfriends have long blond hair and wear Fox Racing visors? I don’t think so…

I sit, I type, and I furtively glance over my shoulder every so often, wondering if Rog is going to pass by and catch me not-working. You see, I tend to write at my bar counter because Roger usurped my office while I was out of commission the last year. The good is that I’m close to the stove, which is handy for making chocolate pudding, a writer’s version of caffeine. The bad is that anytime he emerges from the troll den, as I now refer to my former-office-that-was, is that I have to bounce back and forth between screens to show that I’m not working–or wait, I’m working.

According to the Illustrious She (who, to this day, 5 years after starting a blog, insists she remains an anonymous ghost of a person), makes me: “The bad boyfriend.”

“I’m a girl,” I moan, tired of reminding her. “Tell me again why I’m like a bad boyfriend?”

“Two reasons,” she explains, mocking me, but still serious. “First, you retreat from the page you are working on like a bad boyfriend caught looking at an adult site, when in fact, you are writing a blog and yet you act just as guilty.”

Okay, there is truth in that (but seriously, do men even feel guilty about looking at ‘adult sites’?

I don’t say this out loud of course. I just make it all about me, and realize–yes, I DO feel guilty, because I should be writing any of my three projects and yes, I do feel like I’m doing something wrong by writing this.

“But it feels so right,” I whine defensively.

“And that’s my point exactly. That’s what a bad boyfriend says,” to which I burst out laughing, and then she continues, ignoring me. “The second reason you are like a bad boyfriend is because you call me when you only have five minutes, and you speed-talk and then say “I have to go because I only have 5 minutes.’ Only bad boyfriends do that.”

“I thought bad boyfriends just never call,” I tell her.

“Nooo,” she drawls. “Those are guys who have dumped you.”

Oh, I’m so glad that’s cleared up. So then I ask her if she’d rather have me dump her entirely (e.g. not call at all) rather than call only when I have more time. “It’s like sex,” I say to her. “Wouldn’t you want to have something rather than nothing.”

She hesitates, an rare thing for She. “Sometimes.”

Ironic. Because I think that’s exactly what a bad boyfriend would say.

The missing leg and other object lessons

Nothing gets the attention of six 9 year old girls like a formal Air Force office taking off his titanium leg at the knee, all done whilst during Sunday School. At church. You read that right.

So now you know two things. One, I’m a Sunday School teacher (try not to go running in to the night screaming). Two, I’m all about object lessons. And this one is classic. If I had an object lesson like this for every vice, weakness or temptation in my life, I’d be a saint.

rosemary in png

Rosemary is good for migraines & muscle relaxation

Here’s how it goes down. The lesson: the tie between health and wisdom (yes, for pre-teens. It’s never too early to talk about how caffeine will stick you to the roof of the car, thus requiring a parent to unpeel you off with a set of prongs). As I’m sitting there in the pews, considering the rosemary sprigs I’ve cut from my herb garden (to show how you use it in the belly of a turkey as well as in the stuffing, but can also press it for oils and put it on the muscles in your neck to ease the strain and reduce/eliminate migraine headaches, but really, is that going to be something the kids will remember once they leave?

I see George, a former fighter pilot. A devilishly-handsome man (from the pictures I’ve seen taken 30 years and 100 pounds lighter). I recall when my daughter Porsche was four. We went for a visit to his home. He’d just had his right leg removed above the knee. Her, being four, asked him where it went, just like that. He glanced at me for approval, his look of “can she handle this?” answered by my look of “don’t holding anything back, man, this is life.”

“I ate too much, got fat, lost the circulation in the leg due to diabetes and they had to cut it off.” (Thankfully he skipped over the gout, gangrene and other stuff he said off-line).

My daughter had no issue with information, and when it was followed by his admonition “this is what happens when you eat too much sugar.” My four year-old looked at his non-foot, and the titanium boot sitting nearby and that was that. From that day forward, she has watched every bit of food to go in her mouth, especially sugar. (Thankfully, it only took a few wks for her to figure out what had sugar and what didn’t, the good types and the bad).

So to my original point: wouldn’t it be grand if someone, early on in life, had pointed out some guy and said “and this is what this type will bring,” or a box of melted chocolate saying “this is what will give you headaches and pre-cancerous cells.” Would I have run to or from those things or towards them shrieking ‘bring it on!’

It’s not entirely too late for me though. I watch. I ask questions. I adjust, as painful as it sometimes is, hoping to prevent some future (and entirely preventable) badness.

In the meantime, I was humored to learn that I, myself, was used as an example in my brother’s own seminary class (another version of church) because apparently I made such a mess of my life for a period of time that he wanted to show the teenagers what happens when a person goes off the rails for a period of time (isn’t that what the 20’s are for? and not to justify my slightly questionable decisions, I’m not in jail, nor do I have an Internet video available).

So go ahead. Use me as an object lesson to your desired end. And when you are wondering if you should have that 3rd piece of pumpkin pie, think of George and his missing appendage. Let him be the object so you don’t have to learn the lesson.

Verbal plagiarism and great one-liners


ave you ever been to a party and are struggling to say something witty that will make the crowd laugh, creating a lasting impression of how smart, intelligent and generally speaking, world-wise you are? Of course not, because my readers are all those things and a bag of chips. But…for the poor saps who sometimes struggle, let me give you some tips.

First, read a book on conversation starters. I do this every so often (first started years ago when I was in marketing, invariably thrust into ad-hoc social situations with people of all ages and cultures–I’d recommend one but I’ve probably read a dozen, skipping over the ones for grandparents and odd groups). The second, read a book on the most plagiarized quotes. This is a great, and a hidden secret. Know why? So many people quote others then pass it off as their own ‘funny’ or ‘points of light’ (hate that phrase) that I love to be able to call someone on their own BS.

I’ll give you a personal example (for really, who among us doesn’t quote a lyric in a song, a line from a movie or a sentence from a book). I’m reading a script that is being used for a film that’s already in pre-production. A Major General enters the room, and is front of a bunch of swat-like enforcers who are anxious and nervous, sweat dripping and making irrelevant small talk. That’s how I describe it in my summary to you. But the screenwriter has written thus:what if I just say it?

“Major General stands like  Satan appearing before his lesser demons.”

Now, I have used this phrase on many occasions. “So I’m standing in line and there he is, John Doe, standing like Satan appearing before his lesser demons….’), and I get the laugh I desire, along with the ‘you’re so ___’ funny/witty/original. I thank them. I smile. Do I attribute a screenwriter whose phrase will never see the light of day. Nope.

Then I say this around another person at the office, not thinking, for by this time, I’ve adopted as my own personal brand of funny.

“Great line,” says he, “you got that from XX screenplay didn’t you.”

Oops. Been caught. What do I do? Own it of course. “Absolutely,” I say. “One of the best lines in the entire first half, and it’s not even in the movie.” This serves the purpose of redirecting the glare of shame from on me and opens the door to talking about the production schedule.

And therein lies the value (and risk) of verbal plagiarism: great one liners can be said without fear of repercussion, unless of course, the person to whom you are saying said one-liner can name the quote source.

PS- you can always use the free plagiarism checker if you suspect someone is ‘too witty.’

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