Category: Uncategorized

Os Assassinos por Contrato.

Blame Google Translate if that is not actually “The Contract Killers” in Portuguese.

So! A publisher in PORTUGAL just picked up both I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions and Unconditionally for distribution in Portuguese! Like…they are actually going to be translated into another language! (Insert excited-face emoji here.)

So I naturally did what I suspect most authors would do and quickly starting putting the titles into Google Translate to see how they sound. The series name, The Contract Killers (or, if Google is to be trusted – Os Assassinos por Contrato) was my favorite 😉

In other bookish news, Unconditionally comes out in six (6) weeks!

Unconditionally final cover_Page_1

 

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#MeToo

Well done, Harvey. Although, probably not exactly the legacy you thought you’d be leaving behind. Alyssa Milano tweeted a note that read “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Now the phrase has been posted across Facebook and Twitter about a million times (and counting) and the rest is hashtag history.

About a dozen years ago, while I was still in local TV, I went to a television convention in Vegas and ended up at a swanky party with a bunch of Hollywood elites, complete with the entire cast of Everybody Loves Raymond. I was seated next to Larry Divney – the then-President of Comedy Central. (This story is *not* about Larry – he was a perfect gentleman). After the party, I ended up hanging out with Larry, along with a big-wig from New Line Cinema (who, in my memory, looked just like Paul Simon), the GM of an LA TV station and…a mystery guy that was also in the industry, but I was unclear on where he fit into the mix.

After piling into Larry’s limo, we ended up at Ghost Bar – the place to be for the who’s-who visiting Vegas. Sure, I was 30 – they were all in their 50s and 60s and I joked that, being the only woman, I probably looked like a hooker. But, it was sort of fascinating hanging out with them. The New Line guy was talking about producing Lord of the Rings like it was just another day at the office and Larry reminisced about the night he and the Paul Simon look-a-like came up with the idea for MTV. (Crazy, right?)

After a drink or two – the mystery guy (since I never caught his name or figured out where he worked) – who was about four inches shorter than me, 25 years older, and 400 pounds, if he was an ounce – started rubbing my arm. My TV station buddy had wandered off to the bar and this guy seized the opportunity since I was by myself. So this asshole started rubbing my arm and he said, “So, are you gonna hook this up for me, or what?”

Excuse me? Hook what up?

The confusion on my face was evident and, once I figured out what he meant, I was more than a little disgusted. I made no response. Once my buddy came back, I cornered him and told him he was not to leave me alone with that guy again. And he didn’t. However, when my male friend stayed by my side, the asshole said to him, “Oh, you’re getting that. I see.” To the guy. Like I was a door prize.

What’s funny is that – I was most offended by the fact that I wasn’t some wannabe actress or model sucking up to this guy. I was (or so I thought, anyway) a colleague. I was a Program Director – a station executive. I was married. And he…was a fat bastard. A not-in-a-million-years-if-you-were-the-last-man-on-earth dirt-bag.

So – is this some horrible trial I had to endure? Obviously not. This doesn’t even compare to what so many women have gone through.

But – when I thought about this – I realized that I have a dozen of these stories. Not TV industry people – just men. Creepy come-ons that left me uncomfortable and looking for an exit, ass-grabs by strange men in bars, co-workers, decades ago, that I was careful never to wind up alone with.

And, for the most part, I’ve shrugged it off. (Ok, there was one complaint to an HR Director when the ick-factor went too far, because when your creepy, leering, co-worker tells you that your eyeglasses and pony-tail make you look like the librarian in a porn film – it’s time to speak up.) Is it okay? Of course not. But – I hate to say it – you get used to it. I’m not saying women should; I’m just saying many do.

The one thing I find problematic in all of this discussion of sexual harassment is what I call the “First-Move Factor.” Throughout history, when someone was attracted to someone else, eventually they took the risk and made the first move. Every person, genuinely attracted to another person, who makes the first move is not a sexual predator. I mean, how would I have gotten together with my husband? (Okay – well,  made the first move there because, let’s be real, we wouldn’t be married now if I was waiting on him.) But, throughout my life, how many first moves were made? Some that were welcome – some that were not. Every time someone took a chance and misread a signal, every unwelcome advance, was *not* harassment. We don’t want a society so mired in political correctness and fear of repercussions that all men are afraid to ever make a move on the off-chance it’s unwanted.

So, maybe it’s like Justice Stewart’s characterization of pornography when he said he couldn’t list everything that went into that category, but that, “I know it when I see it.” Fat Bastard? He didn’t even know my name.  He just figured, because of his power and position, that a little 30-year-old nobody like me was on the menu. Clearly that was harassment. (And gross.)

I guess we just know it when we see it. We need to trust our instincts. I think most of us have been on the receiving end of a clumsy pass that we dismissed, and, on the other hand, most of us have been in a situation where a man’s words and actions made us nervous and uncomfortable. But, in the moment, confrontation in difficult. Over the years, I’ve never publicly called out a guy in bar for grabbing me. And when I was 18, I didn’t tell the co-worker who followed me into empty storage rooms that he made me uncomfortable. And when I was 30, I didn’t tell Fat Bastard that he was being a sexist slimeball. Woulda, shoulda, coulda.

If we can teach our daughters to trust those same instincts and speak up when behavior isn’t okay…and if we can teach our sons to be disgusted by that kind of oppressive, demeaning behavior…maybe we can get to a point when our girls won’t hesitate to stand up for themselves.

Maybe this is the start of us leading by example by standing up for ourselves.

Then, maybe our daughters won’t simply get used to it, like too many of us have done.

And, as Carrie Fisher taught us, mailing the occasional cow tongue in a Tiffany box when trying to get your point across doesn’t hurt, either.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

As Good As It Gets.

I love the movie, “As Good As It Gets.” I’m using the word “love” here, about a movie. And if you love the movie, too, you’ll get that joke. Anyway, it’s a perfect movie about imperfect people without a single wasted line. Including this one:

As Good As It Gets

Remember? He’s trying to get in to see his shrink without an appointment and he turns to the waiting room full of the damaged, anxious and depressed and poses the question, “what if this is as good as it gets?” And there is a collective gasp in the room in response.

So. What if this is as good as it gets?

My mom’s birthday came and went. The anniversary of her death was December 15. The holidays are over. It’s a new year and my catastrophic loss is now 13 months in the rear-view. And I’m haunted by Jack Nicholson’s question.

What if this is as good as it gets?

I mean, it’s not as though I’m sad all the time. But definitely more than I thought I would be 13 months later. And I still think, no less than five times a day, of something I wish I could tell her or show her or ask her. And I still miss her every damn day. And now I’ve racked up a considerable number of days.

I’m sure it will continue to improve with time. But, after 13 months, I can tell you, it moves like molasses. Maybe because you’re trying to watch grass grow because you’re so anxious for it to be green again.

So, I’ll continue to focus on the good – while trying not to dwell on how much better it would be if she were here.

And I know that if this is as good as it gets – I’ve still got it pretty damn good.

I Find the World a Very Confusing Place These Days.

I can’t be the only one who feels like shit is more than a little out of control…like we’re just one terrorist attack – or one viral outbreak – or one economic collapse away from utter chaos.

And I am confused by my emotions. Because I simultaneously loathe society but find myself inspired by people. I detest all the hate-speech on social media but I love the connectedness it provides. I am disgusted by the large news outlets but I crave understanding.

So I have one very real question. When did it become okay to not validate anyone’s opinion because it is different from yours?

The divisiveness in this country has reached a fever pitch. And it’s pissing me off. We’re buying the rhetoric and it’s tearing us apart.

The news. Facebook. Twitter. All you see and hear is how it’s the whites against the blacks. The Christians against the gays. The Democrats vs. the Republicans. The rich vs. the poor. The Americans vs. the world. Pro life vs. pro choice. The gun owners against the gun control advocates.

It’s rhetoric. It’s being put into our water like fluoride and we’re drinking it. But if we could stop and think…really think. We are always more alike than we are different. The divide between belief systems is not the chasm we’ve been led to believe.

But back to my question.

One of my oldest friends is incredibly liberal and I’m a moderate conservative. She and I have some of the most enlightening discussions because we listen to each other. We don’t change each other’s minds or positions but I know that, for me anyway, I come away with a better understanding of her beliefs. I thought understanding was the goal? Something to strive for? When did we abandon that ideal?

I try to stay a-political because I’m never willing to fight the militants who simply want to beat you into submission (as though yelling at me over social media is going to change my beliefs), but I’m going to break that rule today.

I am a Republican who supports gay marriage. I have Mormon family members who do not. But I respect their viewpoint. Why is it so hard to understand that people who fundamentally believe in the bible will struggle with this? They have a belief every bit as sacred to them as a gay person’s belief that they should be able to marry. That doesn’t make them evil for opposing it. (And for the record, I actually believe the government has no business marrying anyone. Separation of church and state, my ass. This whole fight was over religious ideologies. The government should only grant civil unions which confer legal rights relating to taxes, insurance, property and the like. “Marriage” should have been left to the churches. Then religions that opposed it could refuse to grant them, but there would always be churches that would approve. This had no place on the political stage.)

Moving on. I’m a gun-owner who understands the argument for gun-control. This is a very difficult topic without simple solutions. But the anger people fling at each other on social media for having an opinion is ridiculous. Just because you have guns and want to keep them doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about the very real problem in this country.

I am pro-life but believe in exceptions, first and foremost being the health of the mother. And I also know dozens of women who have had abortions. And I don’t judge them. The belief about when life begins is something so deeply ingrained in a person that we can all talk until we’re blue in the face and not change a single opinion. (If you’ve never read the case of Roe v. Wade, you should. It is actually a wonderfully written opinion about a very difficult subject. I read it in law school and was surprised – it wasn’t what I thought it was after hearing the case name thrown around in all the pro-life/pro-choice debates.) Point being, those beliefs go deep. I may not agree with them, but I understand them.

Bottom line. Not all Christians are against gay marriage. Not all bigots are white. Not all gun-owners are rednecks. Not all republicans are religious. Not all cops are racist. The overgeneralization is out of control.

You’re not enlightened if you are shutting down opposing viewpoints. Aren’t the wisest people the ones that can see from all sides?

If people opened their minds again – they would realize that the chasm is not that wide – we aren’t that different. If more people moved toward the aisle, we might actually get a moderate president instead of the extremist options we have who feel the need to pander to their right and left wing bases. The base should be closer to the middle – where you actually have a 360 degree view.

I know. I’m being naïve. But a girl can dream.

Until then, this will continue to be my moment of zen.

Leaving Earth

The True Meaning of “Every Day.”

I feel like “every day” is an overused expression. As in, “I could eat pizza every day.” Or “I’m pretty sure I’m gaining weight every day.” Or “he gets on my nerves every day.” We don’t really mean every day. We mean a lot of days. Enough days to be significant. But not literally “every” day.

The reason this has occurred to me is because there is one instance when it is entirely accurate but its overuse has sort of watered-down the phrase. Because when you lose one of the most important people in your world and you say that you miss them every day, you mean every. day.

My mom died 238 days ago. And I have missed her every. day.

Some days its more like several glancing blows throughout the day and you just keep moving. Other days it settles in to your bones and you wear it like a lead cloak throughout the day.

But the point is that it is every day. No days off for good behavior. Every day. Not a lot of days or enough days to be significant. Every. Fucking. Day. For 238 days and counting.

Oh, and by the way, don’t give me that dirty look for posting something sad on a Monday. It’s Monday. It was going to suck anyway.