Sunday, July 29, 2012

No Choice

When would it end? Hadn't he suffered enough? She needed to help him as he always had her. She had no choice...

As his final breath left him, the rain began to fall.

This post is a reponse to Trifexa's weekend challenge "give us a 33-word opening line to your book. That's it. Make us want to read the next 333 pages of your work."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What a waste!

Sydney's ordinarily tiny toes were swollen sausages, red and aching beneath giant cankles that threatened to split the soft, tender skin of her previously perfect legs. Sydney had been on her feet since first light, chopping, mixing, sautéing, tasting, adding a pinch here, a dash there, until every bite was perfect.

They finally sat to eat; her heartbeat was audible. Louis slowly chewed his first bite, inhaled deeply, and wiped his mouth. "Not bad," he exhaled.

"Not bad?" She seethed. "That pretentious little, bow-tie-wearing, wanna-be-epicurean sonofabitch! He wouldn't know good food it he choked on it!"

This piece was written as an answer to this week's One Hundred Word Challenge from VelvetVerbosity to tell a story using the word epicurian which has changed quite a bit since it first came into use.  I chose to go with its more modern, common usage.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On the magic of salon therapy

What is it about a visit to the beauty salon that changes everything? Is it just me? Seriously, is it?

I can be in the worst mood, ready to knock someone into the middle of next week, but the minute I cross the threshold of the salon, whether it is to see my brilliant hairdresser, Mags, at her own salon or to see one of the nail techs at my neighborhood pedi place, all of stress and irritation is out the door. It is crazy! How does that happen? What is in those chemicals?

Mags and I have been friends for over ten years now. We were friends first. We met doing a play together, she rescued me from a hairstyling disaster, and the rest is history. Since we have been friends for so long, it makes sense that I should feel great just having the opportunity to go in and hang out with her. Plus, she is a rock star at her job, so I always leave looking so much better than when I arrived! Conversely, I am challenged to understand more than a few words from the miracle workers at the nail salon and yet I still feel a rush of euphoria every time I walk through their door.

What is it that makes those hours so relaxing, refreshing, recuperative, rewarding, REQUIRED to keep me from wanting to shake people senseless? Perhaps it is the fact that I am an absolute captive for those precious few hours that my head is covered in chemicals, or my feet are soaking. I can't go anywhere or do anything else (except apparently blog) so I have no choice but to relax, read trashy magazines that I never get too see, and enjoy! Bliss!

Whatever it is, I know that I will do anything it takes to make sure I can continue to relish these visits. I am really doing it for the rest of the world, if you think about it. I'm a giver like that. After all, it these infrequent visits that allow me to continue to be the smiling, pleasant, patient person you see here. Isn't that better than the alternative? I think so, too!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Disappear. Leave everyone she loves, and slip into anonymity? Or, wait for him to get Out and come after her again, this time intent on finishing the job? To survive means to Leap!

This post is in response to this weekend's Trifextra Challenge:
Forty-three years ago today, Neil Armstrong became the first person to ever walk on the moon.  In celebration of Moon Day we want you to write 33 words about someone who took a giant leap.  It can mean whatever you'd like, just make sure you write exactly 33 words.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On Fear

"What are you so afraid of, for goodness sake?  What's the worst that could happen?"

I hear these questions on a continous playback reel in my head lately.  I assure you this is nothing new.  I am a girl who, for the most part, likes to play things safe.  I was a rule follower in school because I was pretty sure I'd get caught and get in trouble if I didn't.  And getting in trouble at school meant my parents finding out, and even worse, having to explain to my grandfather, my idol, the horrible thing I had done to bring shame upon myself and the family name.  No pressure.  So I tended to be a pretty good kid.  If  I wanted to do something I knew I wasn't supposed to, I usually asked my parents first.  Keep in mind, I had fairly laid back (if somewhat overprotective) hippie parents.  As long as I was unlikely to get hurt, hurt anyone else, or end up in jail, they were pretty cool.  They let me try things, make my own choices, make my own mistakes, and supported me throughout it all.

So what is my challenge now?  What AM I so afraid of?  Change.  Even when I am fairly certain it is a change for the better, the idea of changing from the proverbial Devil That I Know to step into any new situation with a Devil That I Don't is absolutely paralyzingly frightening to me.  It isn't like I haven't successfully navigated innumerable changes before in my forty-something years.  I have, but have I ever done it without a feeling of nausea and impending doom?  Not that I can recall.

This change even includes the change of meeting people in a new environment.  Attending a social gathering in a place where I know next to no one can be almost crippling to me at times.  For those who know me, this may be hard to believe because, on stage, I am fearless.  If it is in the script, or will improve the show in some way, I am 100% balls-to-the-wall ready for anything!  I always have been.  But on stage, I get to be someone else.  When I have to be me, around people I don't know, I am terrified.  The whole meeting new people thing represents a change to my little bubble of comfort where I know everyone and they know me.  They get my jokes, they know I am a big bag of crazy, and they love me anyway.  What will I do with new people on their own turf?  Panic! 

Does any of this mean I don't try?  Does it mean I don't step out of my Hermit Crab shell and try to feel the sun on my face?  Sometimes it does.  Sometimes I curl up in a ball in my pjs and stay in bed cursing my own cowardice.  But other times, other times I feel just a little bit strong and just a little bit brave and decide to give it a shot.  Those days I realize that the worst that can happen is I fail at whatever it is I wanted to try.  I end up right back where I started.  I fall on my ass trying to Rollerblade, I crash into a tree trying to learn to ski, I nearly pass out trying to jog half a block, (Notice a theme?) I draw a total blank in the middle of the monologue at the audition, I don't get the part, I step out of the car at the party and end up with my pants on the ground when the drawstring breaks then have to hold them up as I walk in the door to ask the hostess for a safety pin (Mortifying!).  That was an ice breaker for sure!  And the party was a lot of fun.

What's the big deal?  Chances are pretty good I end up with one hell of a funny story out of it, maybe a few scars, maybe a few tears, but almost always a good story.

This was written in response to the Weekly Prompt "What Are You So Afraid Of ?" at

Monday, July 16, 2012

Betty Brilliance

After prayers and offerings to all of our Patron Saints Betty (Ford, Page, Boop, and White - we Saint you while you're still alive around here, just for being a kick-ass Betty) on her behalf and more hard work, caffeine, and Pixie Stix than can possibly be healthy, one of The Betties, TheSmartPrettyFreakishlyTallOne, finally succeeded in earning her PhD on July 10th. The other Betty, TheSmartPrettyOne, and I were so proud we were ready to bust! Our Betty has been through the wringer and back to get here. She has climbed the mountain! She is raising an adorable three-year-old son, and is kind, thoughtful, and beautiful to boot. It we didn't love her so damn much, we'd have to hate her!

To celebrate the monumental accomplishment, her fabulous doctor-husband planned Betty Family Beach Weekend Celebration. I, Auntie Q, am the only child-free Betty. TheSmartPrettyOne has two adorable little boys, Five and Two, who have stolen Auntie Q's heart. While we three all live in the same state, we are each about two hours from the next. Like
most people these days, we lead crazy busy lives so we rarely get to see one another. Betty Family Beach Weekend was to be the perfect opportunity to catch up, celebrate, and spend quality time together.

The child-rearing Betties arrived at the beach with their families on Friday night. Friday was my first day with Baby Sister and Baby Boy (more on that later), and then we threw an impromptu going away party for Middle Sister who told us Friday morning that she was moving away Monday (today) to follow her dream. As I was a little overbooked Friday, my sweetheart and I planned to join The Betties at the beach Saturday morning.

After entertaining a houseful until the wee hours, I had reconsidered my plan to arrive at the beach first thing in the AM in favor of a bit more precious slumber. My Betties, however, were up early and ready to go, texting me a supply list before my eyes were even thinking of opening. As soon as I could see straight, I started getting things together for the trip. As our visits tend to be few and far between, we had yet to celebrate Christmas or any of our birthdays. This meant I had several bags full of regular Betty gifts and books for the boys along with Doctor Betty's graduation gift to fit into my convertible VW Bug before we put in the bag of beach necessities, our technology (with which we can never leave home), and the required groceries. By the time the car was packed the sunscreen was applied, the top was down, the tank was filled, and we had stopped at two, yes TWO grocery stores for the required supplies, it was close to Noon! So much for getting there early. I came to the conclusion that it was a good thing that we are child-free because if we had to get kids ready and pack for them, too, in the midst of all this madness, it would be Sunset before we got to the beach!

We arrived in time for all of the Betty Boys to be fast asleep! Classic! It gave us the perfect opportunity to give TheSmartPrettyFreakishlyTallOne her graduation gift, and to celebrate all of our other gift-giving occasions while they napped. It was absolutely fabulous! We have discovered that we have an unusual affinity for office supplies, so they became a reoccurring theme throughout our exchange. This also gave me the chance finally to put a copy of Let's Pretend This Never Happened into each of their hands. That was one of the biggest gift hits of the day, we do so love TheBloggess. As usual, we laughed at things that only we would find funny until our sides hurt, and essentially reaffirmed our beliefs that life would be so much simpler if everyone just did things our way, and that we can handle anything as long as we are wearing the perfect shoes.

When the boys awoke, our focus naturally shifted to them. Now, I may be a little bit biased, but these are three of the cutest, smartest, most well-raised boys I have ever seen. What? I said I might be biased! Storms raged outside, but we and the boys had a blast playing together inside. It was such a treat for me to watch all of the verbal skills, positive phrasing, and teacher tricks that I use with my middle school students actually in use by my Betties on their own kids, just because that is they way they choose to parent.

My Betties are amazing moms. They are amazing women. They are amazing friends. They are, in point of fact,  "MyVeryBestFriendsInTheWholeWideWorldAmen." They are among the greatest joys of my life. They have given me the opportunity to be Auntie Q to their incredible boys, and go home to my own two-legged-child-free home at the end of the visit. My Betties are both beautiful and brilliant. They are heroes to me. I wish we had more time to spend together, but we certainly do make the most of every moment we have.

My Betties show off TheBloggess' fabulous book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened.

Eleven words

This was a challenge for Firefly to tell a story in eleven words. I missed the deadline, but I still love the story! He'll be here tomorrow night!

Mom, I'm ready. It's time to meet those I already miss.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This is the big one, Elizabeth!

Monday morning. I could put it off no longer, all of the warm-up organization projects had been completed. It was time to take on the big dog. Time to open the door that has stayed closed for almost a year and a half: the door to The Office. A sense of dread overcame me as I turned the handle, pushed open the door, and beheld the disaster area that prompted one of my friends who saw the Before photo on Twitter to say, "...Looks like a rainbow threw up in there...Very colorful," so that was the bright side which I was, in that moment, challenged to see.

Where to begin? I thought it might be best to sit and look around the room before beginning, but even navigating safe passage to one of the TWO office chairs in there was a dangerous business. All of the previous projects had clear starting points, and a clear place to put everything while it was being organized (the bed, the counter) but not this time. I was absolutely frozen in overwhelm mode. I didn't even think to bring in trash and donation bags. My brain was blown! All I could think to do was start picking things up off the seat to identify and sort.

And that is how I started. It was a tiny, baby step, but it was a step. I found a bag to use for garbage, another to use for stuff to shred, and a box for donations. Before I knew what had happened, I could actually see the very dusty top of the desk! I was in glee-filled shock! I ignored all the rest of the mess around me, dusted it, and organized the items that deserved a perch on such a shiny, clean desktop. Upon completion of that project I was elated and allowed myself a Twitter/ Lunch break. The instant encouragement I received after posting that I had found the top of the desk gave me the adrenaline to get back in there and tackle the rest of the mess.

It all seemed to go faster once the desk was done. I was able to corral all of the stamp collection and related paraphernalia inherited from my sweetheart's grandfather into a few Rubbermaid containers of various sizes. That was so much easier than I had anticipated, I couldn't believe it! Next it was time to make room on the shelves for the towering stacks of CDs that threatened to topple over on top of someone at any moment. In order to do that, most of the VHS tapes had to go. Why did we even still have VHS tapes? We have DVDs coming out our ears, too! Where does it end? It ends when I run out of space to put it all away neatly. That's where! If it didn't fit, it was out the door! Take no prisoners! No mercy! Hear me roar!

And roar, I did! I filled boxes and bags I rolled out the extra chair for donation. I shelved, boxed, and re-hung everything that was left. I dusted, put the closet curtain back up, ran the vacuum, stood back at the end of a very long day and admired the room that had once been my favorite, and which I could now love again: The Office.

Kitchen Chaos

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest and relaxation, right? Well, not for this Betty! Our most recent Sunday meant attacking the mountain of mayhem that had overtaken my kitchen table and sideboard. Both, it seems, had become repositories for anything and everything that needed to be set down as we walked in the door: stacks and stacks of mail, art supplies, vitamins, end of school paraphernalia, purses, Koosh balls, office supplies, scripts, programs, gift cards, receipts, magazines, tote bags, grocery bags, and a sling from when I sprained my shoulder. Needless to say it was what has come to be known as a "hot mess."

I wonder how many trees could be saved if we eliminated all of the damn junk mail that we all get every week. Seriously, I think a small elm tree was taken out just in the mail in my kitchen. Ridiculous! Once I sorted through all of that mess, I found the bills that needed to be paid, filed the stuff that needed to be filed, and shredded the papers that needed to be destroyed. The shredding was surprisingly satisfying. I found myself wanting to find more things to shred just for fun! Seriously. You should try it. It is almost therapeutic.

It took all day, but everything found a home. All all of the bills got paid, and both the kitchen table, and the sideboard were unearthed. Who knows? Now that I have found it, I might even serve an actual meal at the table, instead of at the kitchen counter for once! Probably not, but it is nice to have the option!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Conquering the Clutter

After being sidelined with a migraine for a couple of days, I rushed back into the Challenge ready to conquer the clutter all over my house. First on the list was the walk-in closet I share with my sweetheart. Now here's the thing about sharing a closet, it is a serious commitment. Some might call me a little O.C.D.. Where they get that idea, I am challenged to know. I like my closet color coded, shirts hung by sleeve length and collar style within the color, bras hung neatly, shoes in cubbies, what's the issue? My sweetheart, on the other hand, is challenged to know (or care) how to hang things properly on a hanger. Walking into our closet and seeing his stuff makes me mental, but I love him like crazy, so I look the other way until I can't take it anymore and then rehang everything the right way and he pretends to try to maintain it long enough to make me happy. See? Commitment.

So the first order of business was to get all of the big boxes down from the high shelves and get rid of most of the stuff in them. Stuff on the high shelves is on the high shelves because we never need it or use it. Out it went! That did away with the need for four of the five boxes from up high! Yippee empty space!

Next I hit the clothes with a vengeance! Recently I have lost some weight, but I still have most of the clothes the I bought when I needed bigger sizes. They went into one of three Donate bags. If I didn't love it, need it, or wear it, it had to go! I filled three bags of various sizes and made enough room to free up an entire section in the closet. Woo hoo! Everything went back in by color, collar, and sleeve making me a happy girl. A bag full of shoes left the building, I found at least two pairs of super cute flip flops that are just begging to be worn, and got rid of some that have never been worn at all. Sweetheart's clothes are neatly hung by sleeve and style. I let the color coding go with his stuff, you have to pick your battles.

Six or so hours after I started, the donation bags were full, the closet was clean, the clothes were organized, and all was right in my little corner of the world. That could only mean one thing: cocktail time! Tomorrow would bring the kitchen conundrum.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Challenging Than I Expected

Still pumped full of adrenaline from the success of Day One, I decided that I would tackle my three-drawer nightstand, all of the big baskets and flat surfaces around the bedroom, and the walk-in closet all on Day Two. Did I mention that I tend to be a bit of an optimist?

Again I decided to dump everything out on the bed. If it works, why change it? Rowan, my thirteen-year-old puppy, is less than thrilled with having to share "his" bed with all of this crap, by the way, but what can you do?

I knew that the bottom drawer was mostly technology (chargers, power cords, warranties) but I had no idea that I would find a Gratitude Journal from 1998, (It ended two days before my grandfather died.) a journal of "Morning Pages" that my mom talked me into keeping from 1996, another journal from 2000, and a Day Planner from 2008. Why did I still have all of that? And why in the bottom drawer of my nightstand?

I threw away all of the journals. I did keep my Gratitude Journal, though. I had gotten out of the habit for a while, but have been trying to keep a Gratitude Journal daily for the last two years. It helps. Looking back at the old one was pretty cool.

I corralled all of the cords. Tossed the ones to technology we no longer possess, bagged all of the warranties and owner's manuals together, and put that drawer back in order fairly quickly.
The top two drawers were a bit more challenging.

I found five, yes five, sleep masks! Yes, I am sleep-challenged, but how many sleep masks can one person use? The scariest part is that I kept three of them - they were filled with lavender and flax seeds. The ones I am using are losing their scent. What? I need them! Move on! I put them back in a very organized way where I can reach them when I am having trouble sleeping, give me a break!...Sorry, I think that was the voices in my head, not yours, arguing with me. ( I won.) Keeping the well organized, easy-to-reach, flax and lavender filled sleep masks.

At any rate, I found greeting cards, directories, receipts, lip balm, hand salve, pepper spray, pens, a blood pressure cuff, book marks, and so much more in the drawers than I had any intention of ever trying to put back!

This abundance prompted a trip to the store to replenish my supply of organizational tools. Things do need to have a designated home within the drawers, after all. Unfortunately, after everything had been sorted, cleaned, and delivered to its appropriate resting place it was well into the dinner hour. Where had the day gone? What about the closet and the rest of the bedroom?

The beauty of this challenge is that I have created the schedule, so I can modify it! And at the end of the day, I am still an optimist!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

And So It Begins

Summer is here, the time when my mind turns to thoughts of simpler things like crisp, white linen sheets drying on the line, fresh flowers in a milk jug on the kitchen table, juicy tomato sandwiches fresh off the vine, and The Great Summer Organization Challenge. Yes, you read that correctly: The Great Summer Organization Challenge. I need the summer to deal with all of the stacks of "important" stuff (to be read, "Mostly useless crap,") that I have allowed to accumulate over the rest of the year.

I tend to be a fairly well organized person. I have a friend who says that I dream in colored Rubbermaid containers. While this is clearly hyperbole, there is a part of me that does hold on to a daydream of a completely color-coded, place-for-everything, HGTV kind of life, but who can actually live like that? Not I, at least, not yet! A girl has got to have hope, right?

Our house is lovingly referred to by our friends and family as The Clubhouse, as it is most often the site at which we congregate, whether for celebration or just a night in together. This being the case, it is fairly important that The Clubhouse stays relatively presentable in all of the common areas. I am happy to say that, with help, I am usually able to make that happen, more or less. That having been said, we now have an entire room, let's call it the office, with a door that must remain closed at all times.

What I have discovered is that I am too overwhelmed by the magnitude of that room to start there. Baby steps are the way to go.

I started with the master bathroom. My method is to dump everything on my bed so that I have to finish in order to go to bed that night. It may seem extreme, but it works. I separated everything into stuff to toss, stuff to donate, and stuff to organize and put away. The first cabinet was a breeze! I thought, "I'll have this done in no time!" Then I hit the medicine cabinet, next all of the cosmetics and brushes. After thirty years in theatre, I have quite an abundance of make-up, but seriously, I think I found twenty-five compacts! Ten of them were empty waiting to be taken "Back to M-A-C" for recycling, but geeze! No one needs that much foundation!

Day One took about six hours. Three bags were filled for donation, two were filled with trash, everything was cleaned and organized and put back into a clearly defined home, I had my photo for the day's #photoadaychallenge #busy, and my bed was clear so that I could rest for Day Two.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Just Do It Already

So I mentioned that I find challenges... challenging. The first #photoaday challenge is a self portrait. That should be easy, right? Take the phone. Point it at the mirror. Smile. Click. Save. Upload. Title. Hash tag. Done. Again today I ask the question, "Have you met me?" Even metaphorically? I have a tendency to over think things. If I can find a way to make something more complicated there is a fairly good chance that I will. So shooting a self portrait has had my head spinning since I first saw it.

Should I follow the crowd? Should I shoot a pair of plaid Sperrys and a tie dyed shirt to represent the crazy combination of Preppy and hippie that has always been me? Absolutely not! That would be a visual assault! (For the record, while on the inside I may be a combination of tie dye and plaid, I would never actually mix them on the outside! That would just be painful for everyone!)

Should I shoot my family cookbook and my iron skillets to represent my appreciation for sharing great food and family? Maybe, but there is so much more to me than that.

Should I just shoot in the mirror? Boring! Ugh! I suck at this!

So I finally decided to just do it, already. Pick up the camera, aim, and shoot that which has always so fascinated me. I took a photo of my eye. Eyes are the first things I notice on other people and animals. I have been sketching them for years. They have been called "the windows to the soul." How better to represent myself? With my self portrait, I invite you to look through my window.