Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Grinchmas and Shenanigans!

Yes, I know. I'm a lousy blogger. I've been busy.

Christmas is upon me, yet again, and thanks to a new job (full-time, yea!), I can do some of the things I've wanted to do for the past four years.

That doesn't mean I won't have a little fun, Grinch style.

Like most families, we have a tradition. We don't simply wrap gifts; we make the recipient work for it.

The tradition began in the early '80s when my baby brudder announced to all that he no longer believed in Santa. Taking him at his word, Mimi wrapped all gifts without anything from the white-haired one and packed us off to Big Grandmother's house (I had a boatload of grandparents, all named Grandmother and Grandaddy. I was a confused child.)

Picture the scene: children's bedtime, Christmas Eve. All is good until my baby brudder announces to the adults that he's going to sleep by the damn tree so Santa will step on him and wake him up. You can imagine the words out of my mother's mouth, and in front of her grandmother to boot.

Yeah, it wasn't a pretty picture.

Long story short: Santa arrived as scheduled and the baby brudder will never live it down. Since then, many gift-giving occasions have been opportunities for mayhem.

There was my 16th birthday when I returned from my grandparents house to be handed cleaning supplies, necessary to remove all the toilet paper from the huge bois d'arc tree and the painting mess left behind.  Apparently many insults were painted onto my walls as they redid my room, complete with redwood furniture.

There was a dismantled oboe for Mimi, used to make a Christmas tree. Poor oboe. They don't reassemble well. Fortunately the real oboe was in another room.

There was a humongous box on my baby brudder's 16th, filled with car keys to the Thunderbird, a pilot's log, pilot lesson books, and covered in mountains of trash which he had to sort through to find every last stinking gift.

Another large box, filled with weights, hid Mimi's 1st VCR.

Oh, the memories! What fun!

This year, I haven't done that much evil. Just one gift wrapped in plastic wrap for the Mimi and another wrapped in zip ties for mi espouso. 

Been nice knowing y'all!


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Long Time, No Hear From

I have an excuse for not posting. Really I do. I've been moving.

Yes, I have. It's been a painful process, mostly in the physical sense. My back is still not speaking to me and the bruises are a lovely combination of blue, purple, green, and puke yellow. I counted twenty on my arms alone. I didn't count the ones on my legs, probably a thousand or so (I bruise if you look at me funny). Myrtle the Younger won the mosquito award with 55 on her legs. She believes she will get the Zika virus or West Nile.

I'll keep you posted.

By the grace of God and the much appreciated help from friends, we managed to empty 90% of our house into two storage units. Why storage? Because we have too much crap and are moving in with my father-in-law (aka PawPaw). This means we will have storage units until two households are consolidated into one, assuming that is possible.

Moving presents an excellent opportunity to clear out some of said crap. PawPaw is a saint. He keeps saying "nothing is sacred" meaning we (meaning I) can keep or get rid of anything I want. Easier said than done.

Some things are ridiculously easy to unload: 10 rolls of aluminum foil and 11 rolls of plastic wrap are prime examples. I now must choose what I want to keep from the multitudes of baking sheets and casserole dishes. However, I have discovered a few personal challenges to the end goal:

1) If it's old, it must be an antique and therefore worth something. I know, I know; it's not worth a plug nickel. (But it might be worth more than a nickel.) (I probably watch too much Antiques Roadshow.) But I have determined that no matter how much they might be worth, the collectible Dallas Cowboys glasses from the 70's and 80's are going away post haste. And, if I find any more tucked into some box somewhere, I will smash them to bits. That ought to further increase the value of any remaining glasses.

2) It's family. Either great-aunt Melba got that coffee mug as a wedding gift and used it for her snuff habit for sixty years or Granny's boyfriend gave her that ceramic vaquero at her first county fair and had it on her dresser for as long as anyone can remember. (I made up the coffee mug, The vaquero is real. It had a note sitting underneath with its history written by my mother-in-law. Anything with a note should be kept, right?)

3) It's handmade. Considering I make a lot of stuff, I have a place in my heart for items made by hand, whether it be a crocheted doily or a bookcase which PawPaw built. There's a piece of someone's soul in their work. That's hard for me to let go of.

So, pray for me while I sort through this stuff. I've told everyone in the house that we will NEVER need to purchase plastic baggies, foil, plastic wrap, office supplies, and band-aids. EVER.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Getting Even

Sometimes you have to be proud of your kids. Especially when they pay your parents back for some evil act of yesteryear.

Case in point: driving with the Mimi.

When I was a lowly teenager, learning to drive at the ripe age of 15 (Texas allowed for younger drivers to get a permit at 15 if a hardship could be proven), my mother was responsible for much of my driving practice.

Before I say more, allow me to paint a picture for you. I always win the ugly car contest. Always. The entire world is under the mistaken impression that their first set of wheels was the worst ever in the history of get the point. Y'all ain't seen nothing!

Picture this (because I sure as hell didn't keep a picture of it): an 1973 ice blue, government surplus, no A/C (this is Texas, remember?), AM radio, AMC Ambassador station wagon. Damn thing was a tank. It is impossible to drive down the road, incognito or otherwise, in that THING.

And it was indestructible, too. I got mad one day and backed into another car. Luckily the other car was a land yacht because it only took a dent to the fender while Old Blue had a shattered tail lamp cover (which mi espouso-then boyfriend repaired with red tape and all was good).

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Mimi decided one day that I would drive her home from the grocery store in Old Blue. I think it was my first or second time behind this particular set of wheels. Did I mention this thing was a TANK? Did I mention my depth perception is pretty crappy? Anyway, I am trying to turn from the parking lot onto a busy street and I hit the curb. We've all done that, right? No biggie.

Not with Mimi in the car. She's screaming. I over-correct and run the tank up onto the curb. I stop before anything gets damaged, but Mimi is still screaming. I don't recall what happened next, but I'm pretty sure harsh words were exchanged and possibly a few tears were shed.

Fast forward to today's text, and I quote: "Child drove down her first mountain with Mimi screaming all the way."

The parties involved include Mimi (of course) and Myrtle the Younger. They are currently touring the southeast part of the US (watch out, y'all have been warned.), with current destination of Monticello. Now I must point out that both Myrtles are excellent drivers and MTY is equally gifted with navigation. I must also note that Mimi has OCD, but let's just say her navigation skills leave a little to be desired. (Ask me about Alabama and live explosives sometime.)

All I can hope for is 1) they were on the right mountain, 2) MTY still has her hearing and will to live, and 3) they are having fun.

Y'all pray for them!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Part of the Beginning

Do you remember having a dream? Something you wanted to accomplish, but only had a vague idea of how to make the fantasy become reality? Or maybe you knew how to get there, but weren't sure if the end result would be what you expected?

I think we all can relate to those desires. At some point we wanted to become a rock star or a famous actor or an astronaut. Some dreams happen magically, others require a ton of work and a little bit of luck, while other fantasies drift off into a mist of "what the hell was I thinking?"

Writing, for me, has been a warped bit of that journey. Did I dream of being an author? Not really. I toyed with the idea once or twice, but there was no burning desire to sit down and write words. In fact, most of the time, I would sit down to write an assigned essay or story and my mind would go totally blank. The same thing happens when I tried to be an artist or a songwriter. Nope. Nada.

Until the day, the story/dream planted its carcass in my pea brain and wouldn't leave until I wrote it down. Then more ideas filled the hole and refused to budge until I shoved and molded that sucker into a book. (Let's not talk about the other five ideas waiting impatiently to take their turn in that hole.) Then my OCD took over and made me organize, edit, and proof until I couldn't see straight.

That's when I decided I needed a cover. I knew what I didn't want (unrealistically depicted 8-packs glistening in the sun with a bulging...well, never mind) but I also didn't know what I wanted. Cue in Myrtle the Younger.

As previously mentioned somewhere in the bowels of this blog, I think I have mentioned maybe once or twice that I have two extremely talented girls, the younger of which desires/fantasizes/dreams and is well on her way to becoming an outstanding artist and animator. As any good and responsible parent, I want to help my child build her self-confidence, soooo...I asked the child to create a book cover.

I can tell you that there is no greater feeling than placing your child's work into their hands as a finished product. The look on MTY's face when I handed her the proof of If You Touch My Mind was overwhelming to say the least. This was more than posting a drawing on the refrigerator door. This was part of her portfolio and resume; a stepping stone to her future.

The same thing happened ten months later when I published Keep Your Eyes On Me. No one can take that experience away from her. Nothing can take those memories from me.

With my third book waiting a cover, I again turned to MTY but with her busy college schedule, she ran into difficulties. What to do? I turned to a the son of a friend. He is about the same age as MTY and is studying graphic design. Over the past few months, he and I have worked back and forth until he delivered cover art which mi esposo could work into the finished cover.

Last night, I placed the proof into this kid's hands. Guess what? I got the same response from him as I got from my own daughter. Overwhelmed. Thrilled. Maybe just a little scared, but that's okay. Yes, there were things he wanted to change. Yes, there were things he and mi esposo need to experiment with, but this young college student has something in his hands which moves him forward in his dream.

Today, his mother shared his Facebook post. He had posted a picture of the proof and summed up his feelings eloquently: "wow".

I may not have birthed this kid, but I am just as proud of him as I am of my own girls. I am thrilled to be part of his beginning.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Would You Rather...?

I admit to a secret indulgence: personality tests. (I know it's weird. You have your own little quirks. I won't judge if you won't.)

Now, I can hear you now: "T, I don't care what color your personality is." (All of them, depending on my mood when taking the test.) That's okay, because that's not what this post is about. (Thank the Lord!)

I come up with my own (non)scientific explanations for how the universe and it's humanoids operate, and I always begin with the one I  know the most about: me. (You thought I was going to say mi esposo, didn't you?) (He's the 2nd person I wonder about, but I still think he might be an alien.) Years ago, I developed some pseudo scientific, well-thought-out and developed explanations for how to choose which medical career (aka: Why I'm an occupational therapist and not a physical therapist or a nurse) and a theory of male mental age development (or lack thereof). If you have any interest in the above, let me know.

More recently, I have been considering authors/writers and their target/victim, the reader. I have done my research: reading, attending lectures, reading, writing, and, of course, reading. Now, I have formed my expert conclusions to share. (I can hear your bated breath. Exhale now.)

From what I've been able to figure, there are two types of authors:

1. Writers who read. These are people trained, or at least subscribe to, the Science of the Written Word. Every detail of character, plot, subplot, descrptions, grammar, verbiage, etc is carefully executed to perfection. When they write, the emphasis is on what the Reader wants to see. When they read,  the emphasis is on the quality of the writing.

2. Readers who write. These subscribe to the Art of the Written Word. The written emphasis is on what the Writer wants to read. Characters, plots and subplots get most of the attention; while grammar, POV and other details are of lesser importance. The same goes when reading.

Which one would you rather read?

As a lifelong, avid reader of both styles, I will tell you my preference is #2. Why? Because, if the story is engaging, I can forgive most grammar issues (although my OCD will still go haywire), and other "unforgivable" problems with writing like point of view (POV). I get lost in flowery language and detailed descriptions. As long as I can enjoy the story, then I'm happy. (I also read the last chapter after the reading the 1st 2-3 chapters. Gotta make sure things are going to be okay in the end. Same goes for movies. Give me a spoiler any day.) (Don't judge.)

Personally, I hate reading a romance novel with single person POV. It's boring. A romance novel is about developing a relationship between 2 people. I want to understand where both people are coming from without impacting the pace of the story. Some authors will give each character their own chapter but rehash the same event. No Bueno! (And please don't insult my intelligence by telling me this chapter is Ben's POV, then this is Beth's POV. I can kinda figure it out on my own, thanks.) It's fine to be in one person's head for a mystery novel. They're trying to figure out who done it.

Sorry. That was a tangent and a rant. Anyway...

What brought this on? I attended a writer's meeting this week and one writer mentioned that she was having difficulty getting her book published, and questioned what she needed to do to be seen. The response was to give her character quirks (make them more interesting). This is not the first time I had heard this discussion, nor is it the only answer I have heard for why X, Y or Z hasn't happened. Any suggestion is fine and dandy in my opinion, but I think an important point is often overlooked: publishers tend to look for Writers who read, not Readers who write. This is one of the reasons why writers are told to keep submitting their work and to expect 50 or more rejections before they get a break.

This is one reason why I self-published in the first place. I don't have that kind of patience.


P.S. I'm trying to write a horror story. Kinda creeping myself out. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Time to Reflect

Two things have happened this week which make me want to pause for just a moment.

This first came the news that a dear friend had passed away. When I met Darlene Cates over four years ago, I had no idea who she was or what she would come to mean to me. Millions knew her as the mother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? I had never seen the movie or her other work (a fact she tried to remedy without success). In spite of my extreme introversion (a fact she was truly blind to), she bulldozed her way into my life, worming out every stinking detail of my otherwise dull existence. She invited me to the filming and then the preview of her final movie short, Mother, she attended one of Myrtle the Younger's archery tournaments, she cried over the loss of my mother's cat, and, more importantly, she listened to my insane ideas for a screenplay.

Not only did she listen, Darlene demanded that I write my little story down, after which she helped me to milk every stinking detail of the story out of my pea brain. As that tale developed, other story lines emerged. With each idea, Darlene was there helping me to find and develop the story. She asked thousands of questions. It was the third story which became If You Touch My Mind. It was also the one I dedicated to her honor.

I've continued to work on the first two stories and kept her up-to-date on their progress. At our last tea party, Darlene asked if I would have Healer (my second story) done before she passed. I promised her it would be out within a month. I didn't realize I only had a week.

Be at peace, my friend.

The second event occurred overnight. My church participates in a program called Family Promise. This is a collaborative effort of churches to provide shelter for temporarily homeless families. Each church hosts these families for one week while they look for work or get back on their feet. I volunteered to be an overnight host and last night was my first opportunity.

I met the three families as they finished dinner and we had a lovely time chatting about kids, college football (I had to forgive one couple for being OU fans-they kindly forgave me for my UT affiliation), One mom was new while the other couple had experienced the program for several weeks. The mentoring, friendship and love which these families displayed for each other and those of us who volunteered to help them was astounding and humbling. It was well worth the aches and pains of camping out at church on an air mattress all night.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Just A Quickie

I'm sorry I haven't posted lately. There's probably no other excuse than I just don't have much to report. So here are a couple of interesting tidbits:

My favorite cover artist (aka Myrtle the Younger) has decided not to do the cover art for my fantasy romance, Healer. I'm okay with that. She's busy with school and friends. All is good. A friend's son is an aspiring graphic designer so he has accepted the challenge to help build his portfolio. What he has presented so far looks great and I can't wait to reveal the cover.

While waiting for the cover, I joined Wattpad. If you aren't familiar with that forum, it's a FREE website/app which allows you to read works from authors all over the world. I've read several books on the site, many of which are in dire need of editing, but have enjoyed the stories presented. You can follow authors, comment and vote on chapters you like (votes lead to more readers, awards, etc.). Wattpad has multiple genres to choose from, so you can go wild. If you want to check out my work, it's under taseitz.

Don't worry. I will still publish the normal way when I finish this final edit and get the cover.

That's all for now! Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Control Freak

I have another confession. This will come as a surprise to many, but I am a control freak.

I know. I know. Most women are. I'm a little different in that I only want to know what's going on so I can go about my merry business with an understanding of the world around me. I don't particularly want to make decisions or tell others what to do (with the exception of mi espouso).

In many ways, this need to know gets me in some deep trouble. Trouble like others-see-me-as-a-leader type trouble. I don't want to lead. I'm a happy camper as a good ole follower. My opinions are simply my opinions and no one should ever trust that I know what I'm doing or where I'm going (I think that was mentioned in detail in my 2nd/3rd blog post, I am Cursed.) All I ask is that you keep me in the loop on all the juicy gossip (whoops! I meant important facts pertaining to my existence.)

So why, one might ask, is this information relevant on a chilly Texas evening? books are being purchased.

The curious-minded individual might randomly inquire, "T, I thought that was what you wanted. You published your books so people would a) buy them, and b) read them, and c) review them."

Well kind, curious-minded individual, you would be correct. I did, in fact, publish my little book babies for the very reasons listed above; however, (and this is the kicker) I DON'T KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE! (hyperventilate, BREATHE, gasp, BREATHE)

I know it's insane, but I had an expectation/delusion that someone would buy a book and we would have a lovely discussion about said book over tea and cookies. That is mostly what happened until recently. Someone would make a purchase, tell me when they received and/or read it, and we would discuss it. The conversations usually occurred via text or message rather than high tea, but rest assured a cup of God's nectar was near at hand on my end. Some conversations resulted in lovely 4 and 5 star reviews, some didn't but I knew what each person thought of my work and that was important to me. I grew from each conversation. (I have received one 3 star review. It's not a bad review, but I'm trying to wrap my pea-brain around it. How's that for full disclosure?)

So now, people are buying my work and I'm not getting feedback and I don't know who these people are to ask their opinion. It's driving me nuts! So, please, if you have one of my little book babies in your possession, be kind and let me know what you think. I'll make tea.


Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year's Resolution

For the record, I do not typically set resolutions. Furthermore, I don't set goals. Any goal or resolution setting I do for myself is a guarantee that I won't do whatever I have said I will do.

Now some of my friends and colleagues (and bosses) offer to help me "write goals." I know how to write goals, people. It's part of my job. The issue lies in me writing goals for myself. That becomes a problem for anyone who is goal-driven (employers). On my last year's work self-appraisal, I answered the question of "what are your professional goals for the coming year?" with a realistic goal of "keep my license". I have no idea what I'll put down this year since 2017 is not a renewal year for me, but rest assured I will be forced to come up with some such nonsense to keep HR happy. (I wonder if "continue breathing" will be accepted.)

Anyhoo...against my avoidance of resolutions, I made one for 2017. There was a witness, too. Namely the Mimi who holds accountability up there with kitchen soap (that's a story to tell...later). In other words, accountability is pretty high on her list of standards.

As many of you might recall, the last 3 months of 2016 wound up being rather trying when the Mimi kissed a sidewalk in NYC and me, being the medical/rehabilitation expert, moved all sorts of dirt to get her to the airport, on the plane, to Texas, off the plane, into rehab, out of rehab, to home, to work, etc. In the midst of that, she has been remodeling her home, so almost every weekend and occasionally during the week, including holidays, I have been called to take care of something (shopping, groceries, move clothes downstairs, move clothes upstairs, rearrange furniture, install new dishwasher, etc). (The last was completed with the assistance of mi espouso.) (Ok, he did the work, I helped.)

Point is--I've been working my tail off. So when the Mimi graciously attempts to thank me for my efforts above and beyond the call of daughterly duty, I informed her that my goal for 2017 was to be a slacker.

Can you tell where this is going? Yeah.

That resolution was quickly reduced to ash when I received a text message (group including mi espouso, baby brudder, and Myrtle the Younger) from the Mimi. The issue: a dead mouse stinking up her temporary bedroom from a ceiling vent. I (trying to maintain slacker-hood) dutifully continued working. Baby brudder responded with an "insert cat" comment and things went downhill from there. Several texts later, the Mimi again requested assistance with carcass removal and claimed to be able to see said body. Considering extraction would require climbing a stepladder and the Mimi is gravity-challenged at this time, someone had to do something. Guess who that someone was. (Come on, take a wild guess!)

So Myrtle the Younger and I make the hour and a half trek to the Mimi's abode, where we proceeded to investigate said vent, where I could see what looked like a fluffy turd. (I'm not trying to be gross, kids, just calling it like I see it.) So I proceed to remove the vent and what to our wondering eyes did appear? A long, turd-shaped dust bunny.

Yes, folks, I drove a total of 3 hours to remove a dust bunny from an AC vent.

Our best conclusion was that some critter left this world in the rough vicinity of the duct, but not was not kind enough to crawl into an easily accessible location before dying.

Fortunately, the smell had dissipated before our arrival and the Mimi thanked us properly with a nice meal. I shall resume my attempt at slacking now. DO NOT contact me for dust bunny removal. Ever.