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February 2015
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April 2015

"You're Bright Today."

I'm going to assume that was a compliment by my barista this a.m. See, this is how my brain works. When someone says something questionable about your outfit, you go ahead and take it as a compliment. I mean, why not? The world is depressed enough and why should I add to it by wearing gray? I told her, "Yes, I could be a flag!" And I raised my arms.

You know how rooms have an energy to them? My Starbucks is depressed lately. I just want to run through in my brightly-colored, nautical gear and yell, "Prozac and free espresso shots for everyone!"

You know why they're depressed? They're all on diets, trying to be perfect. A nonfat latte? Really? I mean, you only live once and if you get what, maybe 8 extra months for having blue milk, so what? It's a sucky 8 months!

Live a little, people of Silicon Valley!! I find that whole perfect abs thing weird on women. I love a great shoulder and back. Work that out, but the ab thing looks like that funky picture in the anatomy book. Just my two cents. But keep in mind, I want real whipped cream once in a while.


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So this is my Monday reminder that you live a little today. Life is short.

My son Trey (engineering student) and I went to the City last week. He's so staid. I have to open his world a bit. So I made him go into an oxygen bar and get a massage. His face was priceless. Worth every cent.

"Mom, why are we doing this?"
"Because we can!"

You can change the scents on your oxygen...
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We went on a boat.
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We climbed to Coit Tower.


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We ate in North Beach and we lived. So yes, I'm bright today. How about your Monday? How's it shaping up?


Music: The Way You Make Me Feel!

My daughter is a typical teenager. She's into 1D (oh the drama over yesterday's announcement!) 5SOS and Austin Mahone. This morning, when "Fifth Harmony" came on she said something about the way the song makes her feel.

Then, it dawned on me why I relish my alone time in the car. Those bands today make me FEEL NOTHING. Their music is just background noise to me. I don't even really hear it. That's not quite true. Sam Smith makes me want to cut myself. Gosh, dude, life ain't that bad, you know? (Okay, I do love Austin Mahone the best out of her music.)

The real annoyance is the in-between music on the radio stations. All the beat songs about booty and the "using of women" turns me into an instant mother. Remember having one of those keyboards that made all the rhythm buttons? That's what so much of that dance music sounds like now. Someone turned on the beat button and moans about how hot they are, or someone else is. And I realize, I sound like my grandma, but dang. Music is in bad shape these days.

There are the bright spots: Ed Sheeran, John Legend, Adele and Bruno Mars to name a few. I'm sure there are more, but I really don't care if I ever hear another collaboration with Flo-rida or Pitbull. The way they make me feel? Annoyed.

Granted, I believe I grew up in the best era of music. Remember that Foreigner Four album? Or REO's Hi Infidelity? Styx's Paradise Theater? You could literally listen to those entire albums. ELO, the Eagles, Journey, Queen. Aw, the good ol' days when songs weren't forgettable.

Maybe because we didn't have to make sorry videos to go with the music?

 

What music from today makes you feel something?


Zayn Malik has Apparently Left One Direction

I don't know if this is rumor or truth. I do know that my daughter texted she needed to come home because Zayn had left "One Direction." Oh my gosh, the drama. As if.

She would not know Zayn had left if she weren't on her phone during school. She's also not supposed to receive texts during school hours. I learned this sending her a text in the school office when they couldn't find her. Um, I'm her mother.

"She could get detention." They told me.

Seriously? I'm her mother. If I want to text her to tell her to get her bum in gear, I'm going to text her. I hate stupid rules. Yes, I'm the parent from the dark side. But then, I also passed notes in the middle of class, so I'm hardly a role model. Anyway, Zayn is leaving. Let the teen drama commence. By the way, he better not leave before July because I not only have tickets to the San Jose show, my daughter accidentally bought them for San Diego too. So if you're in need of some good seats at a Zayn-less concert, I'm your girl. : )
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3011374/Zayn-Malik-QUITS-One-Direction-five-years-leaving-Niall-Harry-Liam-Louis-continue-four-piece.html


Do you have a favorite pillow?

Yesterday, I bought a new mattress set. Oh my, how it was time. Well, they tried to get me to buy a pillow, but I have a great pillow. (I got it at Costco, and me loves it!) It is shaped like this:


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It's very heavy and though it came with two, I don't have a backup because the dog stole it. Once the dog steals you're pillow, you're like, you know what? You can keep it. This is Fiona on one of my mom's comforters. (Sorry Mom!)

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But anyway, they gave me a pillow yesterday with my purchase. It was a Stearns & Foster and he said it was valued at $100. Seriously? People spend $100 on a pillow? Apparently, they do. I brought it home. My daughter promptly commandeered it, and I have to say, smartest move she ever made. That pillow is like a little slice of heaven. it moves like Jell-o and you wouldn't think it was nice to lay on, but you'd be wrong. So don't try a $100 pillow. I'm warning you. You will think you need one.

I remember when I was happy with a $4.99 number at Target. Age changes one's comfort level. Got a favorite pillow? Do you take it with you when you travel?


Anne Tyler Has a New Book Out!

We are really short of bookstores here in the Bay Area. It makes me sad, but there's only one, and it's next to a DSW and somehow, I am invariably drawn into one over the other. So I didn't realize that Anne Tyler had a new book out. Not until I turned on my Kindle and saw, "Recommended for you!"

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Oh, how I love thee Amazon. You make me poor without ever having to leave the house. I bought it. I started it. How I love Anne Tyler's dysfunctional family drama. She is an incredible writer -- but she's liberal and lives in Maryland, so if you can't handle those things, maybe avoid.

I love the way she says things. This is from one of the first pages. "This was an attractive room, spacious and well designed, but it had the comfortably shabby air of a place whose inhabitants had long ago stopped seeing it." She's freaking brilliant and I always wish I had her ability when I read a book by her.

I went onto the Amazon Kindle store to buy "Wuthering Heights." I wanted to reread it. It has never been a favorite. I find Heathcliff creepy. Catherine exasperating and the "love" story more akin to obsessiveness that you'd see on "Snapped" so as I said, it's not a favorite.

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But I was reading up on Emily Bronte, and how emotionally dysfunctional she was in life. I suppose that's probably a "duh" but I want to read it again now after knowing how she retreated to her fantasy world, couldn't keep a day job though brilliant, etc. It just seems like it would be different knowing that. Like reading "Frankenstein" is different knowing that Mary Shelley was holed up in Germany with two of the best poets known to us. Can you imagine the pressure? Writing a little "ghost story" for fun to compete with Percy Shelly and Lord Byron beside you?

Anyway, I didn't get to the "Wuthering Heights" purchase. I did get halfway through Anne Tyler's new novel. Speaking of obsessive...


Playing it safe versus following your passion... #amwriting #womeninfiction

This has been a year of "playing it safe" for me, and at my age? I'm way too old to play it safe. I'm here to tell all you youngins to follow your passion. Or quite simply, you will lose your zeal.

All the years that I wrote books while I parented, people told me that I couldn't do it. "Do you know how hard it is to get published?" No, I didn't. And you know what? I didn't need to. I'd find out soon enough. I'd paper my office wall with rejections. Actually, I could paper my wall with some of the acceptances too, because one lovely person took the time to red letter my manuscript and tell me everything that was wrong with it from a publishing standpoint! (That was a God thing, don't you think?)

I still have that mangled manuscript. It means the world to me. Because someone took the time to say, you have potential, but...here are a few things you need to work on. Pretty much still the way it works when I get a manuscript back from an editor.

But these last two years have been tough. I won't go into my long, convoluted tale of woe. (How I wish it were interesting -- but alas, it is not.) So I took a day job doing accounting and customer service. The problem is, I do nothing halfway and I'm pretty good at it. The money flows in easily. It's not like writing, where you have to constantly prove yourself for the next paycheck as in traditional publishing.

Step one: Proposal to your agent. Fixes, suggestions, etc.
Step two: Agent proposes to publisher. Fixes, suggestions, etc.
Step three: First part of advance. Write the book.
Step four: Fixes, suggestions, changes.
Step five: More fixes, suggestions, changes.
Step six: Stalling, publishing date issues -- maybe you get part two of your advance...

This goes on and on and it's a complete pain in the a@@ compared to, go to work, get paid. I mean, it's completely novel experience to receive money so easily after working in publishing. And while it may be easier to get your money in self-publishing, it is still not the same as show up, get paid.

But here's the thing, if going to the daily grind is not your passion? You may not be meant to live on the simple side of the street. Perhaps you're meant to pour your heart and soul on the page, then let some random dude come along after all those corrections and tell you that you suck. Publicly. It doesn't matter if you're in traditional publishing or self-publishing. There is an easier way to make a living. Trust me, I found it. Pretty much any job out there.

However, if you're an author? You don't really have a choice. And I say that to any of you who are following your artistic passion when no one else believes in you. If you know you're meant to write, or sing, or dance but you're not Stephen King, Whitney Houston or Fred Astaire, it doesn't mean there isn't space for you. Only you can follow your passion and there will be fulfillment in it. Someone I know just starred in her local production on stage. Is she suddenly Neil Patrick Harris? Nope, but she found her bliss and that is enough.

Or you could take it easy like I have for the last two years...which have been the hardest of my working existence!

Follow your passion. Maybe your life isn't about taking the "easy" route. The world has enough Silicon Valley moguls. Be an artist! It may not be simple, but it's better than swimming against the stream.

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Starbucks & Why I Love John Oliver

Starbucks has taken a lot of garbage over the last few weeks for its "Race Together" campaign. Mostly because Starbucks is pretty much the whitest place we know. I live in a place that is about 20% white, and you know what? Starbucks is about 70% white here. Do the math. We are probably the only ones stupid enough to pay that much for our coffee. But if you wanted to make sure minorities stayed away from Starbucks, this is probably your best move. But I digress.

I love how the Starbucks CEO finds himself so relevant that he thinks taking on race relations on a white paper cup is going to make a difference. It totally makes me imagine Yul Brenner teaching the kids about how huge Siam is in comparison to the rest of the world in "The King and I" -- Perspective is everything and Howard Schultz doesn't have it.

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John Oliver from HBO describes this decision this way: ‘I think it’s pretty clear that no one has said “no” to this guy in 25 years.’

Right?

And come on, the guy to start this conversation is a probably not a white male billionaire. Just sayin'

Comedians seem to be the only ones who can point out these truths that are so obvious to the rest of us. Clearly, if you work for Schultz, you may have tried, but most likely, that fell on deaf ears. I imagine the conversation went something like this...

"Really Mr. Schultz? You don't think 'Race Together' cups might come off as trite when we are charging $4 for a cup of coffee? Maybe our customers just want their java without a sermon?"

"It's brilliant, right?" Schultz would then ask.

Everyone mutters under their breath what an ignorant white man decision this is and gets started on the new cups. Which will now be part of the landfill problem because people like this can't be told 'No.' Which I'm sorry, but that's part of the issue. If you have money, you get away with everything. This guy needs to go on "Undercover Boss" and see how the real world lives. Maybe he'd see how awesome his baristas are, and how hard they work for their money. He should get up at 4:30 a.m. to commiserate with them. Because once they get up and get to work, they're required to be friendly to people who will argue with them about a free refill they didn't earn.

He'd get to see after these baristas work a full morning shift, many of them go to school or take care of a family later. They don't have time to change the world with a paper cup saying.

What Schultz should really be working on is getting drive-thrus approved in Cupertino because we've had two accidents in the last few months where a customer drove through the Starbucks.

Read more here:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3007729/I-think-s-pretty-clear-no-one-said-no-guy-25-years-John-Oliver-takes-Starbucks-CEO-task-controversial-Race-initiative.html


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My love for Papyrus -- Do you still send greeting cards?

I love the hand-written word. There is nothing more special to me than someone taking the time to put their emotions to paper and send a card. Email and an Evite will never seen proper to me. Stationery is such a luxury in this day and age, no?

I love Papyrus cards, and while they are expensive (up to $9.95) I love the intrinsic, artistic value in them. It's always the first place I head when I want to send a card. First off, I love that the artist who did my Ashley Stockingdale Series (Anne Keenan Higgins) does cards for them. It just shows they have excellent taste in their artists.


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But then, you also get that cute, little gold hummingbird seal with each card -- how can you not love that when you have to break a seal to open a letter? It's so Victorian! Well, historical anyway. I suppose Caesar used a seal too, but he used them to kill people, so I cannot credit him. Mostly though, I love that Papyrus embraces the bling. Bling makes people happy. More people should pass around the sparkly. The world would be a better place.

Do you still send greeting cards? If you were going to put pen to paper and tell one special person what they meant to you, who would it be? What's stopping you?

Papyrus

P.S. if you don't have a Papyrus store near you, Target sells them.


MMA, Here I Come!

Okay, not really. But my trainer has decided he is going to start me sparring. He thinks I'd be good at boxing. (Um, what does that mean exactly?) I asked him if I could bring a picture for the punching bag. He laughed...nervously.


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I'm really loving my bare-bones gym. So much so that I was thrilled when I got a nice royalty check and it did NOT go to a new handbag, but more training sessions. This is about as athletic as it gets. It's kind of surprising to me that I like all these "guy" exercises because the only other athletics I was ever good at was figure skating and tennis. You know, girl sports. Oh, and swimming.

The important thing here is that I have evolved! It is never too late apparently.