Pretty Sure I Was Abducted By Aliens

Day after day, every morning is the same routine.

After I get out of the shower, I wrap my hair in a towel. I apply deodorant and face lotion. I get dressed, dry my hair, plug in my curling iron, apply my makeup while it’s getting hot, then curl my hair and add earrings. Aaannnd, I’m off! Twenty minutes, tops.

Here’s what happened this morning!

I did all the above, just as I always do it, in the same order, without waiver, just like every other day!

I went to work and caught up on a couple hours worth of items leftover from yesterday. I then joined a conference call that spanned a dozen people over five states. If you’re not familiar with WebX, someone on the call will be the presenter and share their computer screen with everyone else.

During this time, I realized I had been so busy all morning, I had neglected to use the restroom. You know, if you get stuck in a situation where you can’t go to the bathroom, it makes you have to go all the more! Well, I was the presenter in this WebX conference and couldn’t leave – not even for a minute! And this was a TWO HOUR presentation.

FINALLY, we ended the call and I sprinted to the restroom.

Upon washing my hands in front of the mirror, I looked up, and to my horror, I saw my pale, bare, makeup-less face. Nope, not one little swipe of blush. No eyeliner. No mascara. No lipstick. What the H E double L was going on here???

My hair was curled. My earrings were on. Did I not look into the mirror this morning to do those things? Where I would have seen my makeup’ed face? And certainly noticed the lack of said makeup?

Wait! If my hair was curled, what was I doing for the five minutes it took for my curling iron to warm up??

I can’t figure this out.

I came out of the restroom and told my co-worker, “I forgot to put on eyeliner this morning.”

To which she replied, “Yes, I noticed that right away.”

“WHAT?! And you didn’t say anything???” (May be on the hunt for some new coworkers.)

The only explanation I can figure is I was abducted by aliens this morning for about five minutes.

Either that, or I’ve lost my ever-lovin’ mind, and I refuse to believe that is true.

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Everything I Need to Know, I’ve Learned from SpongeBob

Every morning I get ready for work while listening to SpongeBob playing on the television in the other room. No, I don’t have little kids. I turn it on for my dogs. Hush. Dogs like TV.

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(SpongeBob SquarePants image property of Nickelodeon)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m in love with that square little piece of sunshine, and I’ve learned quite a bit from him. I think I may have zeroed in on everything one needs to know to be happy in this lifetime from that crabby-patty-flippin’ sponge.

If you’ve never watched the show, do yourself a favor and tune it. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. Wake each day with a smile on your face.
  2. Find a job you love to do and do it to the best of your ability.
  3. Have a very good friend, preferably one who lives next door.
  4. Have a pet. It makes life so much better.
  5. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  6. Don’t feed into other’s negativity.
  7. Don’t believe what others say about you, even when they say it to your face.
  8. Always be kind.

I think that sums it up! Life according to SpongeBob. Have a lovely day, my friends!

(SpongeBob SquarePants show cast from Nickelodeon)

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Agitations of a Writer: Grammar, Content, and Dog Stealing

All writers and editors live in a constant state of frustration. Each and every blog, social media post, newspaper article, etc. are filled to the brim with incorrect grammatical phrases, punctuation errors, and badly written content that make us shake our collective heads. We usually grit our teeth and walk away, but today is not that day. My writer and editor friends will surely feel my pain, and I hope the rest of you get a kick out of the frustration that lives in the mind of a writer. Disclaimer: For you PETA-type people out there, don’t get your dander up. This post is not about dogs. If the subject was purple Chevys, I would have written the same thing.

I read the following letter on a forum a while back. As a writer, I’m agitated by the grammar. The more I look at it, the more I’m frustrated by the content. I copied and pasted it exactly as it appeared, and I have wasted my entire morning ripping it to shreds writing a blog about it.

 

found_collar_black2__33877.1362773206.1280.1280_2“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.

There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard. I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water. Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter? I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” – Anonymous Liker

 

While this letter is probably written by a good-deed doer, and I am all for rescuing neglected and abused animals, the post has many issues one simply cannot overlook. Grammar is the least of its problems.

“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.” 

There’s no need for a comma in this sentence. Why would a question need to be anonymous? Oh, you meant the person asking the question wishes to remain anonymous. Oh.

“There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard.”  

Where does one even start? This is a run-on sentence with two topics – the dog and ‘they.’ “You can see every single bone” is an exaggeration. It is not possible to see every single bone unless you’ve dissected the dog, in which case we have another problem. We understand the dog is skinny, but this exaggeration leads us to believe that nothing else you’ve written here is completely true either. I’m going to ignore the “their” typo, but who is “they” in the last part of the sentence? I’m thinking you mean your neighbors? Wait! If you know this is your neighbor’s dog, why don’t you take him home? Hang on to that thought for a moment.

I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water.

1005-alternate-1-440x400Is this a different dog? Do you have THIS dog in your possession? This sentence has me wondering how you knew this dog was wondering. Was he sitting on your back porch in the pose of The Thinker? Oh, you meant wandering, as in roaming around. Why didn’t you say so? Was he carrying a bowl of food and water with him? (…which would probably be TWO bowls, but that’s neither here nor there.) Did you mean YOU had the bowl (singular) of food and water? I’m so confused.

(photo credit: Rodin’s Thinker, National Gallery of Art, exhibiting how I’m feeling at this moment.)

Let’s continue…

“Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter?”

I understand the question, really, I do, but I don’t understand how over thirty people responded to the original post with phone numbers and names of shelters, and not one person noticed that the writer had STOLEN her neighbor’s dog. The wish to remain anonymous now makes more sense.

I’ll mention the obvious here. This was posted on a forum, using the Internet, which has “The Google” as my elderly friend calls it. Just look up a number.

There should be a dash between high and kill as this two-word adjective (see what I did there?) is describing the shelter.

“I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” 

Finally, a sentence written correctly, but after the exaggeration and the fact that you’ve stolen your neighbor’s dog, I’m not inclined to trust your judgment. I may want to imagine you sitting next to a malnourished Rottweiler, but what I envision is a busybody old lady with a dirty poodle on her lap.

 

 

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Self-realization Meets Fiction

Soooo, I’m going on a personal level here that makes me super uncomfortable. But, what do they say? Truth is better than fiction?

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I’m working on a book where my married heroine is debating having an affair with a man she knew from her childhood. The angel on my shoulder doesn’t want her to do it, because I want her to be an upstanding woman with deep integrity who puts her husband and family first.

The devil on my other shoulder thinks it will make a great side story to an all ready intense book.

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So, I dug deep in my gut and examined my own standards to make the decision.

I’ve always said I wouldn’t consider an affair because I would never put my husband in an embarrassing situation. I have far too much respect for him to ever purposefully do that. But this morning, I had a revelation! I not only think and feel that for HIM – I have my own personal reasons for ME!

I come from an abusive past and find it hard to let people close to me. This includes men. I can’t open that door to trust and intimacy without a lot of emotional pushing and pulling. And that is definitely not a one-night fling sort of process.

Back to my heroine. If she feels like I do (and they always do, don’t they?), she wouldn’t have the affair, because she couldn’t be intimate with someone without first trusting them. Since the man knows she’s married, the relationship would be built on dishonesty. That’s a rocky start. The affair would go nowhere and the friendship would certainly end badly. My poor heroine. I don’t want that for her with all the rest of the crap going on in this story. Maybe we’ll stick with sexual tension and not let it progress farther. Let’s see if my personal beliefs come out in this story. If they do, you’ll know the truth about their origin. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

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Of course, these characters always have minds of their own, so we may find her in a moment of weakness.

We’ll see what happens….

 

MLK Day and the Fiery Cross

We must meet hate with love.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

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(photo of MLK removing a burnt cross from his yard in Atlanta, Georgia 1960)

If I found this symbol of hatred in my front yard, I would probably call anyone who would listen, post it all over social media, get the police involved, and generally throw a fit. Then, I would pack and move, which is exactly what the haters wanted to happen.

MLK didn’t do any of those things. Look at his body language. He doesn’t show hatred, anger, or fear. He seems very calm, though undoubtedly very perturbed. He hasn’t even told his small boy to “go back into the house,” as he refused to cower from the danger that obviously existed.

Though we all know MLK was quite an incredible man, my thoughts on the photo revolve more around history. What does religion, Jesus, crosses have to do with racism? Where and when did cross burning start?

The first recorded instance I could find is in the poem The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott, published in 1810.

In the third part of the poem, a burnt cross was used to summon Scottish clans to rise up against King James. In the poem, the chieftain made a cross of wood and lit it on fire. He then killed a goat and extinguished the fire with the goat’s blood. The burnt cross was then carried by a messenger to a nearby village. The messenger spoke only one word, the place to meet. The village would then send a messenger to the next village and so on. Any man who failed to show up at the appointed battle was to meet the same fate as the goat and cross.

This, however, wasn’t something new the author created. Using a “fiery cross” or a “bidding stick” was the common way to rally people to an assembly as far back as the 1500s, and commonly in the 1700s to rally Scottish clan members to arms. It was even used with Scottish settlers in Canada during the War of 1812. All of the above examples were never a form of racism, only of communication.

The burning cross became a symbol of the Ku Klux Klan when this public way of rallying supporters was adapted by them in the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation. They used cross burning as a rallying cry, but this time, it was not to stand up against monarchs or battling neighbors. This time it was accompanied by hymn singing and prayer and was used to rally supporters to create/maintain white supremacy. It became an anti-Catholic, anti-Jew, anti-immigrant, prohibition symbol.

By the 1950s, the Klan and its burning cross was more focused on an anti-black rhetoric. This is where they lost me. I hate to leave you here, dear reader, without the answers, but I have yet to find why this symbol was used to show hatred by placing it on black people’s lawns.

Please let me know what you think.

 

Synchronicity – the way you know you’re on the right path

There are many moments in my life where “The Twilight Zone” theme music should be playing in the background. I call those moments Synchronicity – the times I know I’m on the right path.

I’ve been so stinkin’ busy the last five months, I’ve not written any blogs, I’ve not worked on my book “Witch Dance” that I wanted to release September 21st (umm, what is the date today? crap.), I’ve not marketed, edited, or completed much. Of course, with the lack of progress on my book and the work-a-holic that I am, I’ve felt a bit of despair. I guess the feeling has been akin to failure, or loser, or slacker, or something.

Well, I had a moment of Synchronicity that changed my mind.

013The last few months I’ve been looking for a puppy. Our 10-year-old Bichon/Terrier mix, Rudy, has been lonely since we put our Aussie down last summer. Trophy husband and I are both gone to work all day (yes, I got a new job. more about that in a later blog), and Rudy sits alone by himself and pouts. He’s never been alone before – his whole life. His tail is droppy. His smile has faded. I needed to find him a friend.

I’ve had a few close calls in finding a puppy at some local county shelters and rescues, but nothing has panned out. Yet one failure after another. I found a couple puppies in the newspaper, but I never got responses to my emails.

Three weeks ago, I found a 10-week-old Miniature Schnauzer on Craigs List. I emailed the owner and within a few hours I was picking her up. The woman only had her for two weeks and thought raising a puppy was too time consuming, so she was looking for a new home for the little girl. She had named her Bella.

maxresdefaultOn the drive home with little Bella in my lap, trophy husband and I tossed out a hundred names. We didn’t think Bella really fit her. Piper. Pepper. Peanut. Etc. When Pippa came out of my mouth, I knew that was it! She looks like a Pippa. She acts like a Pippa. Trophy husband said, “You mean like the Princess’s sister?” First, I was surprised that he knew who the Princess was, much less her sister. Second, he said it with a mild disgust in his tone. I didn’t think he liked it, but I was determined this dog would be named Pippa.

Two weeks passed. I still hadn’t worked on my book, but now I had a new excuse. I have a puppy, which is a time consuming responsibility.

I figured this little girl was probably due for some vaccinations, so I pulled out the folder the woman gave us that had “Bella” written on the front. I hadn’t opened it since she gave it to us. I was busy. New puppy and all. So, I thumbed through the papers inside and found the breeder’s paperwork in the back. Written on the breeder’s paperwork was “salt & pepper” and in large capital letters at the top of the page, “PIPPA“!

Whoa! What?

Synchronicity

pippaYes, her name is Pippa, apparently has been since the day she was born. Yes, she is meant to be with us. She is the dog we are supposed to have. The disappointments over getting a dog from a rescue were not failures, they were leading us down the path to Pippa. Rudy’s smile has returned. His tail is wagging again!

 

The book can wait. I have a new puppy.

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Girls Can’t Run Marathons! Oh, Yeah?

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Girls can’t run marathons. Girls can’t do much of anything. They’re just…girls.

Young women today need to realize that women have not always been equals in the world, and in many ways, we still aren’t. We’ve only had the right to vote for the last 94 years. Think about that, ladies. Your great grandmother and perhaps your grandmother couldn’t vote for the next president, a privilege you take for granted. Up until fifty years ago, a woman couldn’t get a loan or open a bank account without her husband’s signature (and permission).

One woman who bravely and boldly paved the way for us is Katherine Switzer.

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At the age of nineteen, Ms. Switzer decided she wanted to run the Boston Marathon. Guess what? Sorry, it’s a boy’s club. You can’t run.

She did it anyway. I don’t know how she got past the registration desk, but somehow, she got her number, pinned it on her sweatshirt, and started the race. She got many kind acknowledgements from the male runners, but at some point during the race, reporters got wind of a woman running and caught up with her, asking her stupid questions like, “Are you going to run the whole race?” and “What are you trying to prove?” Eventually, a man tried to grab her and throw her out of the race. He turned out to be the race manager. He is the guy pictured below in the dress shoes behind her. Fortunately, he was tossed to the side of the road by Ms. Switzer’s boyfriend.

boston marathon race organizers attempt to stop kathrine switzer from running 1967. she finished the race

At that point, Ms. Switzer realized she needed to finish the race – for all women. If she quit or allowed them to throw her out of the race, it would be a blow to all women who desired to compete, and she would become a joke, a tabloid headline. At the time, there were no intercollegiate sports for women, no scholarships, no prize money. Women competing physically was almost unheard of.

In the freezing rain and frigid temperatures on April 19, 1967, Katherine Switzer finished the Boston Marathon in four hours and twenty minutes, forever changing the face of sports opportunities for women.

If you’d like to read more about Ms. Switzer and the Boston Marathon event in her own words, you can find it on her webpage HERE.