I Think My Dog Has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Meet Jack and Sawyer. My head-case rescue dogs that I’ve had now for over nine years.

Jack & Sawyer

Well, they were head-cases. Now they are well-adjusted, borderline-friendly pups.

That’s Sawyer on the left. Sawyer is an ultra-sensitive, timid, attention whore. And I think he has OCD.

More than a year ago, my husband and I started waking up to our bathroom rugs being bunched up in a pile on the bathroom floor every morning. Every. Morning. Curious.

At bedtime, the rugs were laid out flat. Jack and Sawyer were curled up on the double-size dog bed on my side of the bed – like so:

Jack and Sawyer

(I know – super cute, right?)

Anyway, several months ago, I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of one of the boys getting up and going into the bathroom…and digging at the rug. By the light of my phone, I could see Jack, sleeping peacefully next to me. Then, once he’d completed his task, Sawyer ambled back to his bed, curled up, and went back to sleep.

Like nothing happened. Psycho.

Exhibit A:

rug

And, because, apparently he can’t sleep if he doesn’t mess up both rugs in the bathroom, Exhibit B:

rug 2

He wakes up in the dead of night, goes and messes up the rugs, and goes back to bed. Every single night.

So, the obvious question surrounding Sawyer’s nocturnal activities is WTF?

Is he dreaming that he’s making a daring prison escape? Does he hear termites in the foundation? Does he subscribe to Chaos Theory and feels the need to make a small, nightly gesture to his ideology?

Sigh. Alas, we may never know. Where’s Sarah Marshall when you need her?

Sarah Marshall Animal Instincts
Sarah Marshall in Animal Instincts

 

 

Wear The Damn Swimsuit.

Have you all heard about this thing going around called “Wear the Swimsuit?” Apparently it started with a spunky, middle-aged writer (not this one) who started spreading the idea that women needed to wear the damn swimsuit whether or not they felt good about their beach bod because your children weren’t going to remember if you were chubby or had spider veins – they were going to remember that you took them to the beach and played in the sand with them.

This sentiment spoke to me. Not because of the children angle (while I totally agree with that as well), but because I know so many women that avoid things because they don’t want to put on a swimsuit. Or they don’t have anything to wear that fits. Or because they’ve gained 10 pounds since the last time they saw you.

My mom was this way. On her roller coaster of weight losses and gains, she would fluctuate between being social and reclusive. She dreaded parties with old friends when she had put weight back on and fretted over formal events when she’d have to go shopping.

And life is short. Hers was. Would anyone that ever knew her have cared if she came to your bbq fat? Or just that she came?

This idea reminded me of a column I found and actually framed for my mother many years ago written by Erma Bombeck called “If I Had My Life To Live Over.” (It’s been passed around the internet and manipulated over the years so here is the original 1979 version.)

Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything.

My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.

So, the whole “wear the swimsuit” thing is not a new sentiment – but it’s an important one.

Don’t go to bed mad.

Say you’re sorry.

Pause the show you’re watching and answer the phone when your mom calls.

Burn the pretty candles.

Wear the damn swimsuit.

 

 

This Week in ‘Overestimating Your Own Intelligence’

So, I got a little click-happy on Amazon this week and stocked up on reading material.

First, I bought these:

The Hating GameCinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Because The Hating Game sounded like a funny rom-com and the more I read about The Lunar Chronicles, the more I felt I needed to give them a read.

Then things got a little weird.

Next, I bought this:

Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour

Because I thought, well gosh, I’d like a quick little primer on astrophysics!

And then, because no one was there to stop me, I bought this:

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory?? Shut up. You had me at superstrings.

Because I thought – you know what’s been missing from my life? A basic understanding of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics!

So, yes. I’ve greatly overestimated my intelligence in my recent book-buying excursion. Although, I do know that string theory is not a game children play with yarn, so I feel like I’m starting with the proper foundation.

Well, I’ve had my broadcast TV phase, my lawyer phase, and my writer phase. Maybe this will be the start of my astrophysicist phase. Just kidding. I hear they make you do math.

All’s Fair in Love and Book Reviews.

I read an article by an author who said never – never – read reviews of your book online.

Okay, but did he mean like never ever? Or just kind of never? Because never seems sort of impossible, right? (For a slightly neurotic, first-time author like me it proved to be, anyway.)

And I looked. That’s right. I read them all.

Here’s the funny thing about reviews of your book – a good review makes you smile and puts a spring in your step. For about a day.

A bad review is like that popcorn kernel that gets stuck between your tooth and gum that you can’t seem to dislodge no matter how hard you try…because the popcorn kernel is in your soul. Giving you something to poke at late at night when you’re trying to sleep.

So even though there are substantially more good reviews out there, the few bad ones are the ones that got under my skin. Which is probably why that author said DO NOT READ THEM! A-ha. If only I had the ability to listen to sage advice when it is presented to me.

Oh well. Some of the good ones make it all worth while.

Lisa over at LostInLit called it “Hilarious, Witty and Quite Charming.” And Lisa (I know – I’m winning with ‘Lisas”!) over at LisaLovesLiterature gave it 5 stars! And Becky on Goodreads said I “hit it out of the park!” Megan over at ReadingBooksLikeaBoss added me to her “Book Recommendations” tab! And then I found this young woman who goes by The Lone Reader who did a very funny and enthusiastic video blog about it. If I can make anyone rattle on that fast about my book, I certainly should be able to overlook a few naysayers.

So if *you* have read my book – and liked it – please leave me a review 🙂  (And I’ll try to keep myself from reading it). If you read it and didn’t like it – my name is spelled N-i-c-h-o-l-a-s-S-p-a-r-k-s. Be sure to get that part right.

 

I’m the ‘Windows Vista’ of People.

Ok, Mac people – bear with me – this analogy will be short.

The year was 2007. We were all happily acclimated to our Windows XP operating system when, bam! Microsoft dropped Windows Vista on us and we collectively went, “Thanks for nothing, a-holes!”

Because Windows Vista was that shitty little upgrade nobody asked for.

It was buggy and slow and didn’t seem to make anything better. But Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, said, “Tough shit. You’ll use it and you’ll like it.” (But it only lasted a couple years before Microsoft got tired of our bitching and came out with Windows 7 – but I’m not here to give you a primer on Microsoft operating systems.)

So, what’s my point?

Well, a couple of years ago I started this blog so that I could write silly posts about stupid things that I found amusing and thought maybe other people would find amusing, too. Then, almost two years ago, my mom, my rock, my BFF, died, suddenly, for no good reason because her heart (despite being healthy and barely 67 years old) went, “That’s it – I quit.” And just stopped.

And then this blog took a wicked hairpin turn and became a place where I wrote mostly about grief. (No, that isn’t the Windows Vista upgrade I’m talking about. Stay with me.) For those of you that have been following along, these last two years have been the roller coaster of a lifetime. And I would come here and talk about terrible, heartbreaking things (but marinate them in sarcasm, hoping to get a laugh here or there). But, regardless, I sort of took you along with me as I figured out my own post-apocalyptic world.

So, here’s my point.

When you lose a close parent or someone important, the general consensus is “You really won’t start feeling like yourself for a year.” Truly. Many people who had lost a parent said the same thing. A year.

Well, the first year came and went. And true, the grief ebbed and I was gradually less of a shit-show. But I kept waiting to feel like myself again. Now I’m approaching two years. And it hit me: There is no going back to the old me because she doesn’t exist anymore.

Cue the Windows Vista metaphor. I’ve been upgraded! Those bastards! I’ve been force-fed the system upgrade I never asked for and that certainly doesn’t seem like an improvement to the prior version. This version isn’t as happy, is slightly less compassionate, has a much narrower bandwidth for bullshit, and crashes regularly around birthdays and holidays. The only possible upside is that this version is proven to be wicked resilient and excels at letting shit go (because they apparently narrowed the “Bullshit Meter” but expanded the “Fuck It Meter“).

So, since I had shared the rest of this Mr.-Toad’s-Wild-Ride-esque journey with you, I figured I would share this revelation as well. If you’ve lost your person, don’t keep waiting to feel like yourself again, because you’ll be waiting a really long time. Just start looking for positives in the system upgrade (that you didn’t want or need) and hopefully you’ll find an improvement or two that will make the You 2.0 version worthwhile.

And to those that know me who preferred the Windows XP version? We apologize for the inconvenience, but that version is no longer supported.

 

Defacing Public Property.

img_20161028_171652Okay. It was actually a book signing. But it was my *first* book signing so it seemed a little strange that people wanted me to write in a perfectly good book.

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to take part in the author reception at the Fall Discovery Show held by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. So…lots of authors and lots of booksellers. Or something like that. It was a blast.

My favorite comment of the night was a young woman that hurried over to my table to tell me that she had read the description of my book and that she “had to find me” because my book was something she “needed in her life.” I know, right? Super cool. And I’m pretty sure she didn’t confuse me with someone else, so I’ve got that going for me.

Funniest comment of the night: someone said “So?? What do you like better? When you were an attorney or now, being a writer?”

To which I replied (likely with little grace, thanks to the two glasses of wine): “Oh, I’m still a lawyer.”

They replied (with what seemed genuine astonishment) “Really?”

Yeah. Really. “I’m pretty sure a lot of authors have to keep their day jobs,” I said. “Unless you have a dream about pale, sparkly, teenage vampires!”

Okay. I didn’t say the part about sparkly vampires – but I thought it. But, for all those authors, working the day job and moonlighting as a writer? I gotta say, seeing my actual book in actual print…made all that moonlight worth it.

Sneak Peek at the November Ballot!

Hey guys – I mocked up the ballot I propose we use for the November presidential election. I feel like it really captures overwhelming public sentiment as we move toward this all-important decision.

2016 Ballot

To quote a friend, “Sweet Meteor of Death 2016.”