My Writer’s Streak.

Writer's Streak

Apparently, when you are rep’d by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency, you become a member of the Wolf Pack. And, once my announcement came out, the other members of the Wolf Pack informed me of a Wolf Pack tradition. They told me Michelle’s authors put a streak of color in their hair when Michelle gets us a book deal. Shenanigans, right? Have no fear. I insisted on photographic evidence. Which was happily provided.

And since I have never been one to tempt fate – or miss an opportunity to do something ridiculous with a totally valid excuse – or, frankly, resist peer pressure when I don’t feel like it – here is my new writer’s streak.

And since, as Linda Grimes put it, some judges are lacking in a sense of whimsy, I strategically placed it so that it could be overlooked in court. Unless I meet a super whimsical judge, in which case, game on.

Writer's Streak 2

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It’s Official! My Agent Just Accepted a Two-Book Deal From Tor/Forge Publishing!

Man, this writing thing is a long and winding road. And this is the moment you dream of but doubt will ever actually happen…the book deal.

I was lucky enough to gain representation from the amazing Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary and now we officially have a book deal! We just signed a deal with Tor Publishing for the first two books of my trilogy, The Contract Killers. (Which, despite the title, is actually a funny romance with a twist.)

So this wanna-be published author just became a gonna-be published author and dreams really do come true if you stick with it long enough and never give up.

Damn it, Mom. You missed it by four months. And you believed this moment would happen more than anyone. I ❤ you always.

The Secrets You Keep.

But I suck at keeping secrets – well, my secrets, anyway – so here’s a few that my grievy little heart has been bottling up. And because I’m not special, odds are, if you know someone who is grieving, these are their secrets, too.

  • You’re not okay. But you do a pretty good impression of it. And it’s exhausting.
  • There are different kinds of grief. I’ve had the normal kind…lost people I loved and missed terribly. Now I realize there is a different category when you lose the person that was your foundation and this type burns you up and remakes you from the ashes and you suspect you’ll never be the same. (Plus, some of the most honest shit you say sounds super melodramatic.)
  • You feel isolated. You feel like you don’t see the people in your life much. Logic tells you that life is busy – nothing more. But grief tells you that it’s too much work to be around you. So you do your best to be cheerful when you’re with people, but this only makes the isolation worse because now even when you’re with people, you feel like they don’t really see you.
  • The people that assume you’re actually still a mess are the only ones you can really connect with. And that friend that tells you “it doesn’t matter if you cry every time we’re together – you’ll always be worth it” said the one thing you needed to hear more than anything.
  • Life looks different. The good things aren’t as good and the bad things are worse.
  • After four months, you still live in the theater. And the movie hasn’t stopped playing yet. It’s the background noise of your life.
  • You still cry all the effing time. And you’re sick to death of it.
  • That good spell you had gave you a false sense of security that you were coming out the other side. But now you realize that this is actually the most messed up tango ever and you don’t take a step forward without taking a step back.
  • You miss your old self. You want to be that upbeat and optimistic again. But you aren’t driving this train and apparently you don’t get to decide when you get off.
  • And you keep these secrets because nobody likes a whiner.

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

So, this doll over at The Pretty Platform nominated me for an award. No, seriously. Look how cute this girl is.

Elke at the Pretty Platform

Right? Adorable. So, Elke, because you’re too cute to say no to, I accept 😉

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award

Okay. Here are the rules!

As I accept this nomination, the following must be accomplished:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Nominate seven blogs.
I got this.
The Answers
  1. If there was a book written about you, what would it be titled? At Least She Meant Well.
  2. If you could go back to any age in your life, which would it be, and why? Well, I have made splendidly horrendous mistakes at every stage of my life, so I wouldn’t say I had any desirable “stage.” And I’m 42 now but have never minded the journey of getting older so there isn’t a younger age I’d want to be. That leaves the obvious – I would go back to any time prior to December 15, 2014 when I still had my mom and best friend.  That was all the best stage.
  3. What single accomplishment are you most proud of? I’m proud of my three as-yet-unpublished novels. Because I never quit. Even when I came so close the first time only to suffer a huge disappointment – I just moved on to the next book. Full-time job, kids, law school – didn’t matter. A writer writes.
  4. Country living or city living? Suburb living looking to escape to the country. I want chickens. And a goat.
  5. What’s your favorite joke? Do tell. The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.
  6. Are you an ugly or pretty crier? I’ve actually become an expert in the matter. I’ve got the pretty cry, the ugly one, the rogue-tear one, the cry-till-you’re-hoarse one, and the I-swear-to-god-I-seriously-need-to-stop-crying one.
  7. If you could donate money to one cause, to one organization, which would it be? St. Jude’s Hospital. Anything for children. And it was my mom’s favorite.
  8. What do you think should be taught in schools today that isn’t already? I’m not a huge proponent of shock value, but after I saw “American History X,” I thought it should be shown in high schools. With all the language, violence and hard R rating intact. I don’t know that I’ve seen another movie that more accurately embodies the futility and tragedy of hatred more than that movie.
  9. How do you like your steak cooked? I don’t remember. Haven’t had a steak in about 33 years.
  10. What vacation spot did you enjoy the most? That’s tough. I love love love to travel. I guess I would say Blarney Castle in Ireland. Sad that it’s only known for kissing that nasty stone. The grounds are so beautiful, I could have stayed for a year.

The Questions for the Nominees

  1. What are you most afraid of?
  2. Star Wars or Star Trek?
  3. What is your favorite book?
  4. Now what is your real favorite book that that doesn’t make you look as intellectual as your answer in number 3?
  5. If you could trade places with any currently living celebrity, who would it be?
  6. Do you believe in ghosts?
  7. What is your favorite Pixar movie?
  8. What is the most impulsive thing you’ve ever done?
  9. What is your favorite genre of food?
  10. Who is your favorite Disney princess?

My Nominees

  1. Gone Catawampus – love love love these girls. Sorry to be redundant, cause I’ve nominated them for stuff before, but they never disappoint.
  2. Never Trust a Jellyfish – just the name makes me smile. As do most of her posts.
  3. Heather Christena Schmidt – Love her humor and honesty.
  4. The Stay at Home Philosopher – Quirky and clever. And I love quirky.
  5. Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy. – AKA Aussa Lorens. Okay. She’s kind of a big deal and this is not news, but she’s just so damn funny.
  6. Some Offense Intended – because offensive is funny if you’re smart.
  7. Have You Seen My Glass Slipper? – because Kay is way more clever than I was at 18.

So, thanks to the lovely Elke. And I apologize to my nominees for the homework assignment.

Much love.

Erin

Give Me 5 Minutes and I’ll Get You Excited for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Zombie Apocalypse Of course, some of you need no convincing and are probably already stockpiling ammo and bottled water. But for the rest of you…

I’m a fan of zombie movies, new and old, and a huge Walking Dead fan. But what I’ve realized is that there is an emotional component to the draw of the zombie apocalypse that’s driving my desire for apocalypse-themed entertainment lately.

Think about it. It’s all about survival. Nothing strips away the bullshit of our day-to-day lives like a hoard of mindless, flesh-eating zombies. Because that parent-teacher conference you were dreading next week? Pretty sure it’s canceled. Still upset that a couple of your friends checked in on Facebook for happy hour without inviting you? Nope. Just worried about surviving till happy hour. Stressed about losing 10 pounds before bathing suit season? There is no more bathing suit season. Plus, you’ll probable be in kick-ass shape from walking all day and swinging a heavy machete.

The point is, there is no more worrying about your kids grades, their college paths, their life choices. Your new parenting goals? Food, water, no bites. I can get behind that. Plus, no more stressing over your career, your mortgage, your retirement account. Congratulations. Your five-year plan just went out the window. You’re now working on a 24-hour plan with one goal: survive.

This sounds good to me. Because I’m at a point where my threshold for bullshit is microscopic and there’s so much bullshit. The things I worry about in a given day are so insignificant in light of what I’ve lost. But somehow I still have to worry about them. Because life goes on, with all its bullshit intact. Unless we fall into a zombie apocalypse. Fingers crossed.

zombie-horde-the-walking-dead

12-Week Lessons.

Today marks 12 weeks. I thought, perhaps, my next post would not be about my mom. Well, I am happy to say that this post, much like my life, is not all about losing my mom.

So here’s what I’ve learned in the last 12 weeks:

  1. I like lists. They require little cohesion and no organization at all.
  2. There is a very fine, at times imperceptible, line between “grieving” and “crazy.”
  3. You don’t really get it – not really – until it’s you.
  4. I’m stronger than I thought. I lost the one person I talked to more, shared more, listened to more, relied on more, leaned on more than any other person in the world. And I’m okay. Despite my previous concerns, I wasn’t swallowed by the hole she left in the world.
  5. I like cemeteries. You can cry all you want and no one looks at you twice. Cause you’re in a cemetery.
  6. Death is arbitrary. My mom wasn’t even two weeks past her 67th birthday, she had low blood pressure, low cholesterol, ate healthy, didn’t smoke, rarely drank, got all her mammograms, colonoscopies, physicals, etc., stayed active, and took her vitamins. And she was literally gone in a matter of seconds. Be healthy so that you can feel good while you’re here – but all the healthy living in the world isn’t going to grant you longevity if it isn’t in the cards.
  7. The dead apparently do not haunt by request. No matter how much you wish for a visit.
  8. Apparently I don’t need to share every thought that ever pops into my head with someone. I used to have someone I told everything to. Now, I probably share 50% of those thoughts. Which, I guess, means I have a lot of insignificant thoughts. Or just no one that finds significance in them.
  9. Even on dark days, wine makes me happy.
  10. Getting my eye makeup tattooed on a year and a half ago was a sound investment.

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain on Grief. Any Questions?

So this was my brain a couple months ago:

Everything is Awesome

And this is my brain now:

batman-graveyard

Dark, lonely, altogether less awesome. Except for Batman. Why is Batman there? Why wouldn’t he be? Okay, I think you’re missing the point – try to stay focused.

Interestingly, the broad array of emotions my normal brain had are gone. Now, I seem to have two settings at a time. For the last couple of weeks, my options were sad or strange, with really no other arrows in my quiver, as they say. Sad involves much crying and varying levels of hysteria. Strange was impulse driven and unpredictable. I think we should have champagne and Taco Bell for dinner tonight. How many chickens do you think I’m allowed to keep in our suburban backyard? I can’t decide on a movie…I’m torn between Sleepless in Seattle and The Exorcist. What’s wrong with me putting whiskey in a wine glass?

You get the point. You can guess which Steve preferred – and not just because he loves Taco Bell.

This week is different. I’m only crying every few days now, but I’m somehow sadder with my settings now being between anxious and depressed. (We should probably all take a moment to pity my wonderful husband for what he is enduring. Okay. Moment’s over. Moving on.) So in between moments where I feel like I’m verging on a panic attack and the ones where I don’t want to get out of bed, I’m lonely.

In all of my angsty self-reflection, I’ve put my finger on this loneliness. My mom and I talked about the details, the facets, the little things. We would put together that 5,000 piece puzzle to get the big picture – which is what I shared with my husband and my friends…the big picture. But my mom, alone, knew exactly what it was composed of – each thought, each worry, every hope and fear. I have supportive people in my life, but never anyone that cared about all the little things. Sure, partly it was because moms have to listen to your crap – it’s in the job description. But part of it was just who she was. Because she cared about your details like they were her own. So what the hell do I do with all these puzzle pieces now?

And there is no loneliness quite the loneliness you feel when you’re surrounded by people.

In other news, I was a little worried all this doom and gloom would make people stop following my blog. I have this to report: you all are a very dark and twisty bunch. But you’re my dark and twisty bunch. ❤

Time Flies Whether You’re Having Fun or Not.

Time Flies

I have come to realize that the saying, “time flies when you’re having fun” is inaccurate. It’s not untrue – time does fly when you’re having fun. But time still flies when you’re not. So I’m not calling the creator of that catchphrase a liar…I’m calling them sloppy based on their half-truth.

There are undoubtedly periods of time that do not fly. So maybe time flies unless you’re in an internment camp. Or time flies unless you’re at the DMV. Or time flies unless you’re reading Moby Dick. Or you’re in solitary confinement in a state penitentiary. Or stuck in traffic when you’re running late for court. Or sitting through a graduation commencement. This list is not exhaustive and I realize time is relative. You may love graduations. Or solitary confinement.

But, otherwise, time does fly. Regardless of whether you’re having a good time or not. I have noticed that the only days of the week I seem to notice are Fridays and Mondays. Fridays, in that I can’t believe how fast the week went by. And Mondays, in that I can’t believe the weekend went by even faster. So the last eight weeks have been a blur. And yet, it feels like it was yesterday. And I can honestly say I have had little to no fun at all. But time still flies.

This Post Is Not About My Mom.

That’s a total lie and, frankly, the title should have been a dead giveaway so if you fell for it, you really have no one to blame but yourself.

So while staring at the ceiling this morning at about 1 a.m., I thought of an analogy for the workings of my brain these days. On a side note, I’m not sure why I feel the need to keep coming up with analogies…it’s not as though people are baffled by my situation and are only able to comprehend through my clever analogies. That being said, you know you love them.

Okay, here it is. Prepare for enlightenment.

It’s like I’m in a movie theater. And there is a movie playing all the time, day and night, on a loop. And we’re talking IMAX screen and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. And the movie is about losing her. And missing her. And about how I feel like half a person most of the time now. And about how I don’t know how to regrow the part of me that was her. Ouch, that got sad fast. You get the point. Moving on.

Movie

So, I live here now. In the theater. And when I’m having a conversation, or cooking, or watching TV, or reading, or driving, the movie never stops playing. And the wonderful people in my life talk to me about trivial things and make me laugh and I am distracted. As much as anyone would be…if they were in a theater with an IMAX screen and Dolby surround playing a movie that was a cross between Beaches, Steel Magnolias, Saving Private Ryan and the end of The Green Mile. But I love these distractions and do my best to tune out the movie. But the point, I guess, is that it’s always playing and I never actually leave the theater.

Eventually, I hope to get to the point where I don’t live here, but simply visit on holidays…and birthdays…and milestones.

But right now? The movie never stops. And I never leave the theater.

The More True-to-Life Stages of Grief.

Don’t worry. It gets sarcastic.

When I was 14, my mom lost her mother. My mom’s mom was her BFF, was only 63, and inexplicably died of a heart attack without a single warning sign. (I know! Right?) We were all close and I was sad to lose my grandma, but it paled in comparison to watching my mother suffer through such a debilitating loss. And then she proceeded to miss her mom every day for nearly 29 years. Until history effing repeated itself and started this whole messed up cycle again. What kind of bullshit is that? I would like to think that, had my mom had a choice in the matter, she would have adamantly rejected any scenario that would put me through what she went through. Yet here we are. And I’m kinda pissed.

What stage of grief is “anger” again? I’m guessing it falls somewhere between the “WTF?” stage and the “Well, that was a bunch of bullshit” stage. (Note: I have not properly researched the traditional stages of grief but I’m pretty sure mine could catch on.)

Anyway. I’ve also had darling and well-intentioned friends and family tell me that something good comes out of everything, no matter how bad. But my family was already close, I already appreciated every day and didn’t take people for granted (thanks to the aforementioned Grandma) and I was friggin’ strong enough already. Not sure I’ll ever see a silver lining to this shitty little cloud. We’ll call this the “Don’t give me any of that ‘personal growth’ crap” stage.

In other news, I think I’m training Steve not to use the word “need” with me because when he makes the mistake of asking me if “I need anything,” I inevitably answer “yeah, I *need* my mom.” And this leads to the “I should probably try to stop making the people around me uncomfortable” stage. I’m not to this stage yet.

I am, however, simultaneously in the “It’s 10 a.m. on a Saturday and that is clearly late enough for wine” stage and the “I swear to God, if I don’t stop crying, I’m going to sew my tear ducts closed” stage.

And this. This definitely has to be one of the stages. burrito of sadnessBecause Mexican food is always good.