Saturday, November 10, 2012

I’ve Scene It All Now

This afternoon, I gave Disney $19 for tickets to see the 12:30 showing of “Wreck-It Ralph”.  I gave $19.50 to the concession stand and hauled our carbs to the theater for 80 minutes of adult entertainment produced in cartoon format.  The girls didn’t understand one minute of the movie that featured retro video games, but I enjoyed the “blip-blip-blip” down memory lane.  This also explains why Elder Beerman is selling 1st generation Atari consoles for $60.  But, things haven’t changed that much.  Sixty-four games come pre-loaded on the old-time unit, except for Pac-Man (sold separately).

When the movie ended, my girls bobbed up and down in their seats to a Carley Rae Jepsen/Owl City song that closed out the credits.  When I looked back to scan the crowd,  I noticed the woman sitting directly behind me was wearing 3D glasses.

We weren’t in the 3D showing.  Game over.

Auntie called and asked that I go to the store to replace her favorite lipstick:  Revline’s Berry Lace.  “It’s pale pink and it should run you four or five dollars.”

Unsure of whether she meant Revlon or Mabelline, I went to Rite Aid, Target, Walmart and Kroger.  No Berry Lace.   After a few Google clicks, I discovered that Berry Lace was discontinued in the 1980s.  However, I could buy a tube on Ebay for $29.99.

Deciding that my aunt should have a new shade of lipstick (bacteria free), I went to Ulta and began selecting colors in frosts and mattes and slicks and glosses. All this for a woman who goes… nowhere.  For my efforts, I chose a tube for myself – a nice, neutral shade that “looks good on anybody” I was told by the cosmetics consultant.  I applied it in the car, smiled at myself in the rear view mirror and drove home.  When I handed my aunt the bag of lipsticks that would match all three of her outfits, she stared at my face and scowled.

“Well why didn’t you buy a tube for yourself? You look like you’ve been laid out*.”

*“Been laid out” is a Greenbrier County expression that means ‘embalmed’.

 Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cart to Cart Talk

Since I’ve been teaching, I’ve had to use the weekend the way most people do – shopping, laundry, cleaning, errands, etc.  Usually, I steer clear of stores on Sundays, but now that I’m a regular kind of working girl (until holiday break), I find myself at Sam’s Club with the rest of Kanawha and Boone counties.

This past experience (while standing in line – which looked similar to the voters waiting in Miami), I was subjected to useless, irritating chit-chat with the woman in front of me. We “met” when she turned around and scanned the items in my cart, questioning things such as a box containing 500 gumballs.

“Now isn’t that cute!” she exclaimed.  “What is that exactly?”

Gumballs.

“Well, would you look at that?” And she did look at that.  She reached down and picked up the gigantic tube of candy and turned it this way and that.  And then she put it down and walked back to her cart, which was next to her mother, who rested in a wheelchair.

A moment or two passed and the woman turned around again.  This time, she walked to the front of my cart where my purse rested in the seat normally reserved for a small child.  Today, it held a large container of strawberries.  The lady helped herself to those, too.

“My, my, my, don’t these look gooooood!”  she announced.  And then she carried them off to show her mother, in a wheelchair, who had no idea where these mysterious items were coming from.

And then she showed “Don”.  He had been eating pizza at one of the little tables by the snack bar.  Don nodded in approval.  Nice fruit.

The lady then held the box over her head to check for bottom berry mold.  Then she showed her mother again.  Mother nodded in approval.

“Where’d you get these beautiful berries?” she asked, still clutching the container.

In the produce aisle. They have many.

“I think I ought to get some. Don,”  she began.  “Let’s get some.”

Don nodded in approval.

Of course, the lady decided she needed 100 strawberries just as it was their turn to check out.

“You say you got them in the produce aisle?” she asked, still holding my berries.

You know what? Take them.  I don’t want them anymore.

“Whaaaat?”  the lady asked.  “But these are yours!”

Consider it a gift.  Happy Thanksgiving.  But the gumballs are mine.

And Don nodded in approval.

Monday November 12, 2012

 Wore Wore III

Americans are observing Veteran’s Day, which means stores are packed with people taking advantage of holiday sales and pre-season discounts.  Well, let me rephrase that:  People hope to take advantage of those steals and deals.  But, if they’re like me, they’ll shop ‘till they drop and walk away empty handed.

On Saturday, our mailbox was jammed with flyers and circulars advertising 40% off of this and 60% off of that.  I shared these little lovelies with my aunt, who hired me to be her personal shopper this year.

“Get the girls whatever they want,” she said.  This really means “nothing over $50.”  Off I went in search of adorable little outfits for Maryn, and stylish (but NOT trendy) accessories for Ava.

There ain’t no such thang.

While in one store, I finally found a pair of jeans that weren’t ripped, frayed or so tight that they looked like pantyhose.  I took them to the counter and presented my Kids’ Pass worth an additional 20% off everything in the store.

“Sorry, ma’am. This coupon isn’t good for Levis.”

But it says only Polo and North Face are excluded.

“And Levis.”

But it doesn’t say that.

And so I moved on.  I went to a smaller children’s boutique and found sweet little leggings and swing tops for my little one, complete with matching boots.  These days are numbered, so I need to have fun dressing Maryn while I can.

I had a similar coupon promising 20% off.   The sales associate scanned it.  The computer made a digital rejection noise.  She tried again.  Bonk.

“Sorry, ma’am, but the computer says this is an invalid coupon.”

But you sent it to me.  It says good now through December 24, 2012. 

“I know, but it won’t take it.”

Moving on.  I then traveled to a competitor’s boutique looking as worn out as the jeans painted on the preteen mannequin.

“May I help you, ma’am?”

I don’t want anything with sequins, lace, ruffles, bows or glitter.

The sales associate stared at me in silence. She recovered after a moment.

“You don’t like bling?”

I don’t.

“Why? Kids love it!”

Because you can’t wash bling.  Bling falls off.  Bling gets all over things that weren’t meant to be blung. And after the holidays, my daughter won’t want to wear that bling because it looks like Christmas.

Don’t you have a nice stripe or maybe a simple polka dot?  Corduroy?  Plaid?

I felt like Bubba Blue after he’d been shot during an attack in the jungles of Vietnam.  Slumped in Forest Gump’s arms, he asked weakly, “Why this have to happen?”  Forest tells him what we all know.  “You got shot.”  And Bubba, mustering every bit of strength left tells his best good friend, “I wanna go home.”

Back in the jungles of adolescent clothing, the once perky sales associate looked uncertain as to how to help me.

“Can I show you anything else?”

Just the door.

The Elf on the Shelf is Watching You

With nothing in my hand but my purse,  I strolled through a toy store and stood behind a display of Magic Rocks and Sea Monkeys. Peeking through a gap in the boxes, I noticed a familiar face chatting with the store owner at the counter.

Santa Claus.

Dressed in a black turtleneck and denim jeans, the long white hair and even longer white beard was unmistakable.   He admitted to being “really tired” and “dreading Black Friday.”  Chris Kringle – followed by his wife, carrying a Big Gulp — lumbered to the stockroom, which must serve as his hideout for the next month and a half (after all, Santa arrived shortly after Halloween). But, at 1:00, he’ll reappear in a red coat and black boots and take his place in the oversized chair where he will sit and smile and pretend to be full of holiday cheer.  Ho. Ho. Ho.

Fight Song

Tonight, I broiled steaks in the oven and the entire house filled with smoke, setting off every alarm and every dog.  Mike grabbed a towel and began fanning the grey haze, announcing that it was time to practice his flag corps routine to the tune of “Smokey Joe’s Café”.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Fab Five

Ava went to school in tears not because of a history test or long division, but because of One Direction.  The British boy band was scheduled to appear live on the Plaza as part of the Today Show’s concert series, but not until 8:30 a.m.  She had to be in class at 8:25.  And no, I didn’t let her take a tardy slip to see her generation’s version of the Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.

But once I got home, I flipped over to NBC and waited for Harry, Niall, Liam, Zayn, and Louis just as I turn to YouTube to catch John, Paul, George and Ringo. Feeling slightly guilty, I danced with a coffee cup in hand, signing right along to “Live While We’re Young”, secretly admiring the brushed-forward hair the Fab Four made famous in 1964. The Beatles’ military-inspired jackets, stove pipe pants and stacked heel boots became the French-inspired rage at a time when parents were buying their daughters cardigan sets and knee-length pleated skirts. This morning, I find myself waiting until 10:00 so I can buy my 9-year old daughter her first navy blazer with some sort of insignia on the pocket, which will be paired with “skinny” jeans and a pair of white Chuck Taylor tennis shoes.  It’s a strange feeling to watch life run full circle, or in this case, in one direction.

I just got home from the mall (again), where I found the above-mentioned navy blue blazer for Ava (cue “One Thing” by One Direction).  Just. One. More. Thing.  And then, I’m really finished with Christmas shopping.  Really.

But, no trip to the mall is ever without excitement.  As I walked through the second floor of Town Center, swinging my twine-handled bag containing the cute-as-a-gold-button blazer, I spotted a gentleman I knew from my law firm days.  I spoke to him and noticed that he was staring at my shopping bag.  I looked down and realized that I had been given a bag with a young man on the front – stripped down to the well-toned waist – wearing only a whistle around his neck.

How ironic.  Stores that sell clothes give you bags with naked people on them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanks Forgetting

In one week, I’ll be poking a partially frozen turkey and panicking over everything left to do before the biggest meal of the year. It dawned on me this afternoon that I’m not prepared for seven guests: my house is dirty, the rooms are cluttered, and laundry is heaped in piles on the floor because the baskets have toppled over. Rather than grabbing a broom and getting down to business, I elected to go to the grocery store to stock up on traditional fare.

My dad used to call this method of cooking “doctoring it up.”  Instead of homemade dressing, I bought two boxes of Stove Top mix and I’ll add chicken stock, celery, onion and sage.  There. Done.

Instead of homemade cranberries, I plan to open two cans of whole berry sauce and throw in rough-cut pecans and diced apple.  There. Done.

The mashed potatoes will be red-skinned so I don’t have to peel them.  Boil. Season. Mash. Whip. Serve.  There. Done.

The gravy, which no one eats, will be microwaved and poured into the serving dish that no one will pick up or pass to the right.  But it will be there.  Done.

The rolls won’t be made from scratch but pulled from a can, warmed and thrown into a basket covered with a cloth napkin to conceal the blackened bottoms.  It’s impossible not to burn the rolls, so I just hide the evidence. There. Done.

Sara Lee will make the pie.  Cool Whip will make the topping.  There. Done.

The turkey – that blasted bird – will be the only thing to fight with.  I’ll rub butter all over his skin, shove an onion, a stalk of celery and a few carrots up his…coop…and then Tom goes into the oven for four hours, or until the smoke alarm goes off.

I texted Mike to brag about my sensible holiday plan.

< I’m ready to go. Got it all. Turkey, pots, stuff, rolls, gravy, crannies, pie.  BRING IT!

> Did you remember to rent the table and chairs?

> WHAT?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brown Knows

As I sit halfway though my tour of NoFacebook November, I’ve become aware of something extremely important:  I’ve stopped writing.

Now that I’m teaching a few hours a day, I’m not writing.

Now that I’m avoiding social media for 28 days, I’m not writing.

I’m not writing.

The reasons are obvious:  I don’t have time and I’m not at home. This is a little worrisome because my primary job as a professional writer is to provide communication services to clients. I have a business to run! Teaching was a filler as the year wrapped up, but I’m shocked by how much time is required.  A two-hour class takes two additional hours of preparation. The rest of the day is spent on other projects, but I’m not sitting at my computer pounding out book #2.  I haven’t opened that file in 17 days.  I’m also the co-writer on a project that has extreme potential, but I haven’t submitted one word in 25 days.

When I started the Facebook Project as a means of curbing my addiction to scanning, posting and commenting, it was to make myself more aware of the life I wasn’t living; of the children I was ignoring.  Yet, what I’ve learned is that my Facebook activity wasn’t playtime; it was work.  Facebook was a type of practice, like law or medicine – unpaid, of course – because it sharpened my writing skills.  It kept me inspired, motivated and excited. One or sentences in a text box became a launch pad for paragraphs in a newspaper blog.  Those paragraphs became pages in a new book.  I interacted with people because I wanted to, but also because the dialogue gave me ideas. It was a platform to be better at what I do.  Or is that, what I used to do?

During this time off, I’ve heard from 9 friends via email.  Out of 850+ connections on Facebook, less than a dozen people have gotten in touch with me.  I’ve heard that friends have left sincere notes on my page telling me that my posts are missed, which means a lot. I also received a packet in the mail full of my favorite candy bars:  Dark Chocolate Mallo Cups.  Someone read that I didn’t score any in my children’s Halloween buckets this year, and this reader was sweet enough (pun!) to send me enough to last a week (if I pace myself).

This tells me that I may have misjudged the situation. I got in a mood one day and decided that I spent too much time with my nose stuck in a phone, but I may have cut my nose off to spite my face.  Writing is my career.  It’s what I do. It’s who I am.  I didn’t realize that my “sandbox” was also an extension of my office.  I write articles, blogs, columns, copy, essays, books…you name it.  The purpose is to entertain people and to share observations that others can relate to; a scene or an episode in which they’ve starred in before. Now, the page is blank and the screen is dark.

What we have here is a severe misdiagnosis.  I am not addicted to Facebook. I’m obsessed with writing.  And, this little study may have just uncovered a classic case of professional malpractice.

Friday, November 16, 2012

 That’s Just Swell!

Just a few minutes ago, I emptied the girls’ backpacks to fish out announcements, homework assignments and requests for more money. I discovered that Ava had a writing folder that contained a blank outline for her essay, “Why I Admire…My Mother.”

I was deeply touched by her title, that is, until I noticed the handout called WritingFix’s List of 200 Breathtaking Adjectives.

My dear daughter had circled the following breathtaking words:

Creative

Energetic

Compassionate

Kind

Smart

Funny…  and

Bloated.

Observation after Week 3:  Despite slumping book sales, declines in website hits and blog visits, I’m determined to keep my promise to stay off Facebook until November 29.  However, I won’t try this again.

Saturday, November 3

I’m managing better than expected, and I’m not thinking about Facebook too much.  It would be fun to post “Let’s go…” in my status line, to have a few friends reply “MOUNTAINEERS!”  But, the girls and I will recite the famous chant to each other, and then we’ll do “the wave” across two couches — which cannot be burned at the conclusion of the game. We need them.

Since I’m not posting, I’m shopping.  A friend reminded me that the goal isn’t to replace one addiction with another. I was mindful of this as I strolled through Michael’s and Pier One selecting new ornaments for our Christmas tree.

However, I’m starting to think that a turquoise and orange color combo isn’t a great idea.  I don’t know of any other person who coordinates a Christmas tree to an area rug.  Yet, this is how I’m wired.  Everything must match.  I did invest in new white lights, clearly identified as “CONSTANT ILLUMINATION” on the box, so Mike can’t stick a blinking bulb in the socket to drive me crazy.  I absolutely hate blinking lights, and I get abnormally upset when I walk downstairs on a Christmas-y morning to find one strand flashing.  I then spend an hour trying to find the culprit bulb, which leads to a shorting of the entire strand.

It’s an annual event to watch me redecorate the tree after I’ve jerked the bulbs loose trying to get to that one. 

Somehow this is called a “happy” marriage.

Sunday, November 4

I know what it feels like to be placed in a coffin — and it isn’t as peaceful as one might think.  Mike is out of town (but he’ll be home by the time this is posted), and as predicted,  Ava crawled into my bed around 2:00 a.m.  Maryn soon followed.  When this happens, I lay perfectly still; my hands folded on my stomach; my feet connected at the ankle bones.

I watched hours of Create on PBS – thankfully lots of cooking shows — because I couldn’t find the remote control.  I’m sure it was under a body part belonging to someone, and quite possibly, Ringo the Starr Cat.

My aunt hasn’t been feeling well lately and I’m worried.  This woman is as strong as an ox to weigh 95 pounds, but she’s fragile in other ways.  She doesn’t get the flu – she gets pneumonia.  She doesn’t fall down and bruise her shinbone – she suffers a compound fracture. She doesn’t get a kidney infection – she launches into stage 3 renal failure.  That’s where we are now.

Dehydration is a major concern because of her weight. I fix all of her meals, but by the size of her Welsh Corgi, I’d say he’s getting most of it.  I buy groceries by the cart loads, and half sits and spoils in the refrigerator.  I have to make her eat and drink, and I have to check in several times a day to make sure she isn’t sicker than she lets on.  There is a ton of laundry to do, particularly bed linens.  This is a full-time job on top of the other two I have.  I’d hire help, but my aunt feels like she’s already hired it.  Still, I’m tired and my own laundry needs to be washed, dried, ironed, and put away.  But, I have to laugh or else I’ll cry myself into dehydration, too.

Auntie’s Grocery List

1 qt. buttermilk

1 qt. sweet milk

1 loaf Heiner’s bread

1 pkg. Milky Way bars

Dog food – dry

Cat food – dry

Dog biscuits – big bag

Frozen orange juice – 3 cans

Frozen cranberry juice – 1 can

Deli chicken (FRIED)

1 lb. Longhorn cheese

1 pkg. pickle loaf

Apple cider vinegar

Oleo

Stamps

When I lugged the bags into the kitchen, put everything away, handed her the receipt and waited for permission to leave, she asked if I remembered to buy  7-Up.

I’ve spent an hour this evening sorting orders placed by friends and family for the girls’ school fundraiser.  Out of all the Cool Yule Tote Bags, Festive Tissue Paper Packs, Silver Wired Ribbon Spools, and Sparkle Tree Gift Wrap, my aunt ordered the Honey Mustard Dip.

And she thinks she feels rough now – just wait until she finds out it cost $12.  She really will be sick then.

Monday, November 5

Today, I saw a man driving an oxygen equipment van – smoking a cigarette.  This is the stuff I’d write about on Facebook, if I were posting.

My emotional eating binge has kicked in. I ate hot ham and cheese on a bagel, potato chips, blue raspberry licorice twists, four mini Snickers, some pretzel sticks, and then I got ready for lunch.

Before my class this afternoon, I suffered a major carbohydrate crash.  So, I gulped a salted caramel mocha and sped through 2 hours of lecture in 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 6

Today’s the day. We vote.

I am a bit relieved not to be on Facebook scanning hostile posts from people who are still hurting from sitting through double overtime to watch the Mountaineers lose.  I choose to give these angry people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it’s displaced anger?

Mike left at 7:30 a.m. to cast his vote.  He was #42.  I drove to our polling place at 10:30 a.m., stood in line for the first time in years (about 20 minutes), pushed my ballot through the scanner, and heard that I was voter #142 (after the volunteer swallowed a Ritz cracker topped with spinach dip).

Now, we wait.

Given that I’ve been in a terrible mood for a week, Ava and Maryn have kept a safe distance from me. I’ve screamed “GET OUT OF THE CANDY!” more times than I’ve tried to log on to Facebook, and they dart into the closest room when I walk down the hall. So much for more togetherness — especially on a day off from school.

I challenged the girls to unplug themselves, too.  They’ve been very good about playing without arguing.  Their favorite game is to put empty laundry baskets on their heads and crash into each other like rams.  And I thought I had girls.

Later on, they turned each room of our house into a part of a “hotel”.  The lobby (the front room) contained a guest services table; the dining room (the dining room) is where they served high tea (pretzels and toast, Charlie Brown-Thanksgiving style); the game room (family room) was where every board game and puzzle with 500 pieces was pulled out for visitors” enjoyment (wait until the innkeepers have to put them back), and the guest room (bedroom) was where at least 25 dolls took a nap before attending the One Direction concert.

This evening, I learned that we have an arsonist in the family. Ava came downstairs to tell me that her new hot pink butterfly lamp from Ikea (thanks, Uncle Steve) was smoking.  I ran upstairs to find that yes, it was indeed smoking.  The light bulb was charred, so I jerked the cord out of the wall and noticed charred bits of something in the floor.

Where’s Maryn?

After 15 minutes of questioning, our youngest confessed to putting “Brown Bear” on top of the butterfly lamp to see if his bare bottom would light up.  It did. And then some.

Auntie called to ask how I voted.  I told her.  She hung up on me.

Wednesday, November 7

The morning after.  I’m exhausted.

I stayed awake until the last numbers were reported (Florida, for the love of Jimmy Buffett, get your act together!).  Part of this commitment was due to sheer nerves; the other was due to the assignment issued to my students.  I asked them to watch the concession and acceptance speeches so we could draw out techniques used in effective public speaking.  Since the hoopla wrapped up at about 2:30 a.m., I am willing to bet that 49% of the class wished I could be voted out of faculty office.

Along those lines, I haven’t taught a college class since 2003, and I’m surprised by now nervous I am — several days into the quarter, too.  I always thought mothers had the hardest jobs, but now I think teachers – mothers to kids that aren’t their own – have the next hardest occupation.  It’s very hard to be articulate and “alive” on three interrupted hours of sleep.  This is quite a switch from staying at home writing for 5-6 hours a day.  It’s a tad overwhelming to be stared at for two hours.

I’m dog tired and I need a cat nap.

Thursday, November 8

A few pals have sent emails to me announcing their own interests in a Facebook fast.  Apparently, people have been so nasty to each other over the election results that it’s becoming quite the negative place to be. I always thought of Facebook as my sandbox, where I went to play for an hour (or four)  to chat with friends.  Now, it seems like we aren’t sifting through the grains but throwing handfuls of grit into people’s eyes.  I don’t like that.  Perhaps it’s time to play someplace else — for good.

I will refrain from election comments after this last remark:  I’m still shaken by the look on Ann Romney’s face after her husband gave his concession speech.  She looked like she could’ve freely killed him.  “Homeland” security just became his new platform.

Friday, November 9

Not using Facebook means I’m watching more TV than I’ve seen in years.  Mike and I are spending quality time watching “Rediculousness” on MTV, and I’ve decided that stupid people are my favorite sources of entertainment.

Before I went to bed, I finished Christmas shopping for Maryn, and I’m pleased to report that nothing contains parts this year. This year’s theme (if not One Direction) is ONE PIECE ONLY.  Instead of Whole Foods, I think someone should open a “Whole Toys” store.  No parts, no pieces, no tools, no assembly required.  One toy in one box secured by one tie or one piece of tape. Genius.

Observation after week two: 

“Fakebook” is changing.  It’s just a matter of time until we’ll be able to  “Dislike” a post or a comment.  Forget red state/blue state.  People’s true colors are shining through, and because of that, we’re  “blocking” and “unfriending”.  We’re no  longer connecting — we’re disconnecting.  Is this the beginning of the end?

Evil parenting tip: 

What’s one good way to stir up anxiety in your child?  Remind her that it’s spirit week at school and you think it’s Pajama Day.   ; )

October 29, 2012

I just posted today’s blog on the Daily Mail’s Mommyhood, WV site, announcing that I would be giving up Facebook for 28 days starting November 1.  I can’t give up Facebook before then, because Frankenstorm is coming and I need to know what’s going on around us.  I could turn on the TV and watch the news, or I could turn on the local radio station, but that’s so…flat.  I need interaction!  I could walk across the street to chat with my neighbor, but she won’t be home until 5:15.  I can’t wait that long.

Deciding to give up Facebook (temporarily) was exciting and liberating – much like cutting up a well-worn credit card. Freedom!  But now, I’m starting to feel a little sad.  It feels like I’m moving and I’ll never see anyone again.  Yet, I don’t see anyone anyway.  I just chat with maybe 10 or 15 people on a website (when they comment or respond), and I see their faces by way of a profile picture — which might be a snapshot of their cat.

I guess I am moving, though.  I’m leaving Cyber world…but only for a month.  As the Terminator says, “I’LL BE BACK.”

October 30

We woke up to six inches of snow and a two-hour delay.  This excited our daughters so much that they stayed awake – in our bed – laughing and carrying on despite my encouragement to go back to sleep. An hour later, a robo call announced that school was indeed closed.  And then the power went off.

I suppose today is good practice for my 28 days without Facebook. I find myself to be very nervous though, because our cell phones are our only connections to the outside world (if you forget to put 6 D-sized batteries in a boom box from the 1980s).  I catch myself trying to pull up Facebook on my new iPhone, but it can’t connect to the server.

Mike, the girls and I have spent the day playing Bingo, Crazy 8s, Uno, and “school” (I hate school!).  I took two short naps and read magazines that normally rest on tabletops as decoration. I tried to finish the New York Times bestseller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I found the “realistic” tale of a freshman’s struggles with life in high school to be wildly upsetting.  I dread 6th grade through 12th, and I’m not entirely thrilled about sending our girls to college.

Around 2:00 p.m., electricity was restored and I ran to my laptop to pull up Facebook.  This is going to be harder than I thought.  I’m hopeless.

This evening, I have stayed glued to the Internet to see if there’s news about Wednesday’s classes.  The girls’ elementary school is without power, but I can’t help but wonder about the Halloween party and parade, the pickup of our wrapping paper orders, pajama day and other spirit week festivities.  And then I am reminded that half of coastal New Jersey is now a wasteland, and I feel ashamed.  I have no problems.

Well, there’s one justifiable concern:  Tomorrow morning, I have a breakfast meeting and the girls won’t go to school (if there is school) until 10:15 (two-hour delay).  I work from home, so these days are rare, but when they do come around, rest assured there will be a land hurricane or a Nor’easter to foul things up.  How do other parents find a babysitter for two hours in a snowstorm?  How do I reschedule a meeting that was set up to sign new business?  How do parents who work outside the home manage delays, early outs, Spring breaks, and so-called school holidays?  I’d pose the question on Facebook, but I’m trying not to do that … as much.

October 31

It has to be Halloween because I am especially edgy (two cups of French roast coffee hasn’t helped).  It’s amazing how much we rely on routine to make us feel secure.  Experts say children must have “order and border” in their lives to keep behavior in tune, and I believe adults need those things as well. Earlier this morning, I went outside with our equally anxious Golden Retriever (she’s not eating), and I heard the deep hum of generators connected to the houses below us.  It’s an eerie noise that reminds me of how fortunate we are to have electricity, and it’s evidence that everyone’s feeling out of sorts because of this storm.

I went back inside and looked at my calendar and noticed how many tasks now have to be crammed into the next two days, and my heart started to race again. I keep thinking of something I read recently (I’d cite my source, but I can’t remember that either…probably something on Facebook, though).  It said:

When you don’t know what to do first, do the first thing that’s in front of you.

It’s after 10 a.m. and I’m still sitting in my pajamas…fretting. This means I should get dressed (and resume fretting). First things first.

The girls haven’t been on their iPads and Kindle Fires as much as I expected.  They’ve played “school” and “office”, and now “house”.  Maryn has a doll that gets sick when you press her tummy (seems like a natural response). The doll’s cheeks light up to alert that she has a fever and then she cries until you pat her back. Her name is Claudia, but I call her Baby Swine Flu.

November 1

Frankenstorm has decided to hover over our house. Maryn woke up with stomach cramps, and when asked if she was too sick to go trick-or-treating tonight, she replied, “Yes.”  She must feel awful.  The kid eats candy as if it’s her job.

She has to get better quickly and she can’t give it to Ava (or to me) because I have three meetings tomorrow.  I had to cancel everything today even though school is back in session. Somehow, I have to get through a new client meeting, faculty orientation (I’m teaching communication classes), and a rescheduled Halloween party and parade.  I need to turn two puny kids into perky WVU Cheerleaders.  I’ll be dressed as the Bride of Frankenstorm.

The telephone rang a few minutes ago, and I answered it only to be greeted by static. “Hello…”

Assuming it was a political call of some sort, I was just about to hang up when I heard a robotic voice representing Kanawha County Schools announce that my daughter, Maryn, was absent from school today. Click.

Let me see if I understand this:  The head office now calls parents to tell them their child isn’t in class? Do I need to be worried that my 1st grader may be skipping school and hanging out with her friends at Town Center?

Well, let’s test this: There’s a blond-headed little girl on my couch, nibbling dry toast and sipping blue Gatorade.  Yes, that’s my child.  And they’re correct…she’s not in class.

My head may explode within the next 15 minutes.  But, that would mean cleaning up another mess on the floor. I don’t have time for that, and I’m out of paper towels.

Now that it’s raining outside and a miserable 40 degrees, I see that my Beagle doesn’t have anything to eat.  Luckily, I clip coupons, so getting $2.00 off makes the trip to the farm supply store less irritating.

I grabbed a super sized bag of Lite Kibble and dumped it on the counter, along with my discount ticket.  The lady shook her head.

“Sorry…it says the $2 off excludes feed.”

I don’t have feed because I don’t have cows.  “But this is dog food.”

The lady shook her head again.  “Sorry. That’s what it means.”

Had I been well-versed in all things agribusiness, I would have been prepared to argue that “lite kibble” isn’t wheat, oat, barley or rice. But I do see that the first ingredient is corn. Damn.

“OK,” I muttered, swiping my debit card.

I pulled the sack off the counter, along with the coupon since it hadn’t been used.  Maybe I’ll need a portable generator next week.

When I got home, Mike asked what had taken so long.

“I had to find a store with power.  We were out of dog feed.”

Now I know why the Board of Education called to tell me that our daughter wasn’t in school today.  There are no Smarties left in the Halloween candy bowl.  Repeat: There are NO Smarties left in the bowl.  Gone.  The little imp must have snatched them last night, which produced a wicked stomachache this morning.

She deserves a Dum-Dum sucker for that trick.

Tonight as we gorged ourselves on cardboard pizza, Ava asked why Mike and I don’t dress up for Halloween. The main reason is because he takes them door to door while I hand out candy here. We had talked about going as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (I wanted to be Paul), but we couldn’t find the Fab Four’s silk suits in children’s sizes.  We then tried for the Scooby Doo gang, but Mike would’ve had to be Fred, and he refused to wear an ascot.

“I have an idea!” Maryn announced.  “Next year, we can go as nursery rhyme people.  Mama can go as Red Riding Hood, and Daddy can go as Little Boy Blue!”

“Yeah!” Ava agreed. “Mama can carry a basket, and Daddy can hold his horn in his hand!”

Trick-or-treat is over.  Not one Mallow Cup.  Two hours of hiking up hills in bone chilling weather, and NOT ONE MALLOW CUP.   I want to yell at my so-called neighbors on Facebook, but I can’t sign on.  But, I can throw eggs.

November 2

I experienced my first reality check yesterday afternoon.  I haven’t been sneaking on Facebook – not my personal page, not my business page, and not my book’s promotional page – and I ignored three important emails. One of those messages announced the time change for a meeting. I missed the entire thing.

Another email was from a client informing me that he couldn’t access traditional email because of power outages, but he could log on to Facebook through his phone since it uses the big server in the sky.  Then, he asked if we could schedule a morning to go over a new project.  I didn’t respond because I wasn’t using Facebook.  He sent me a text message to tell me to check my inbox.  Great.

I am determined to keep my promise to myself (because I’m doing this for a number of reasons, not just a series of articles), so I asked Mike to check my account.  Apparently, someone in my Facebook network saw my name appear in the “online” list, and this person posted a comment on my page informing everyone that I had been caught. Mike told me the person stated I “needed to be kept honest”.

How this for honesty:  I don’t know if it’s possible to own a business of any size, promote a book of any kind, or volunteer for programs of any type without regular Facebook activity.  I just learned that I almost lost business because of this little self-directed study.  I also found out that someone (maybe even more than one) is waiting to see if I can keep this up. Big Brother (or Sister) is watching.

November 3

Facebook is a lot like food in that I overindulge when I’m feeling anxious.  I find myself going to the computer a couple times an hour to see what’s happening, but then I have to stop 10 fingers from typing in the familiar address.  When dieters are trying to lose a few pounds, fitness experts warn them that hanging out in the kitchen is a recipe for disaster.  When cravings hit, we should grab our tennis shoes instead of a Twix bar and go for a 30-minute walk.  That’s what I’m going to do – but in a store.

I went to Toys R Us with a $10 coupon in hand (it’s not exactly a 10-pound weight, but it has its benefits, too).  Maryn circled enough dolls and games in the catalog to fill a warehouse, but I was in search of an item on the top of her list:  The Doc McStuffins and Lambie Check-up Set.  There was a problem, though.  Only one Doc McStuffins box was on the shelf and another mother was standing firmly before the Disney package, eyeing its contents and inflated price tag. I reached over, gently pulled the box from her gaze and secured it under my arm like a football.  The mother stared at me but said nothing.  I stared back and said nothing.  Then, I ran to the end zone, spiked the box on the counter and handed the cashier $29.99 plus tax.

I wonder if Doc McStuffins knows how to cure Stink Eye?

Betty White and Katy Brown

Tonight at 8:00, I will be at the Starbucks Coffee House in the Geary Student Union of the University of Charleston (Wow! That’s a mouthful!) — signing books for alumni to help kick off Governor’s Cup Regatta.  I am very grateful to have been invited back by the alumni director, Bridgette Borst and fellow graduate, David Kurtz.

It’s only natural for me to begin a book tour in the place that gave me a solid start to what has turned into an exciting writing career.  In my book, Kat Tales: Stories of a house…broken, I talk about being a student in the mass communications program and serving as an intern at a nearby television studio.  These two opportunities allowed me to become a host and producer of talk shows, one of which was called “Petagree”.  I taped shows on a regular basis with local guests that were experts in their respective fields of animal care — from flea allergy dermatitis to pet insurance.  I even hosted a pet fashion show (you’ll have to buy the book to get the rest of that story).

But the highlight of being “on TV” was interviewing a special friend of the University — Betty White Ludden.  Yes, that Betty White.   It was a thrill to see a famous actress, but it was a privilege to be that close to the school’s VIP during a jam-packed dedication weekend that would open a new library.  When I was a freshman at a larger university, I wasn’t even permitted to register for a journalism class until I had completed a few core courses.  When I transferred to UC, I was given a video camera to play with on the very first day of classes.  As a graduate, I was given access to a celebrity that was both gracious and forgiving (find out why in “The Tale of Two Betties”).

So thank you, UC, for giving me great opportunities as a student and again as an alumna.  I am proud to wear maroon and gold!

Book signing for MHC/UC alumni!

8:00 p.m. – Geary Student Union; Starbucks Coffee House

Kat Tales: Stories of a house…broken – $12.00

*A donation will be made to the University of Charleston Annual Fund

A funny thing happened on the way to the bookstore…

While I was on Spring Break (in the land of chocolate and cheese in Hershey, Pa.), I learned that my book had gone “live” on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s sites.  I called my project manager and asked what that meant. “Congratulations,” she said. “You’re a published author!”

I found a computer with Internet access (not easy to do in Amish country) and typed in the title Kat Tales: Stories of a house…broken and waited for the results.  And there it was:  MY BOOK, ranking on the best seller’s list as #227,255.  That’s OK, I’ll take it.

But underneath my debut work of non-fiction were suggestions for other books. “Readers who purchased this book also enjoyed these titles:  EROTICA, Stories of Love, and Kat’s Mystery Gift. 

That’s right…the keywords in my title (Kat, Tale, Stories, House, Broken)…are linked to phrases found in porn.

I assure you:  My book is clean.  Cleaner that your dog’s paws.  Sure, there are a few four-letter words (thanks to Mike), but it’s not sexually explicit or even suggestive!  But then again, why should I be surprised?  It’s me we’re talking about! Does anything ever go my way?!  Doesn’t chaos follow my every step? Don’t I seem to invite trouble in some way or another?

No “Readers of this book also enjoyed…” Marley and Me or My Dog Skip.  Not even Old Yeller.  Well, that may not be true.  I’m sure there’s a yeller in some of those adult books.

So, I’ve decided to laugh, which is the way I handle all of my problems once the shock wears off.   Thankfully, both Amazon and AuthorHouse are reflecting 5-Star customer reviews.  At least I know I’m good at something!

A few minutes ago, I got an email from a dear friend who was notified that my book was on its way from the distributor.  “Hahaha!!” she wrote.  “Kat Tales: Stories of a ho… has shipped!”

So there you have it.  For $14.95, you too can have the time of your life! It will take about an hour or so, but if you’re feeling shy, then Amazon will give you a free peep show!  Yes! You can “Click to Look Inside” to see if there’s something you like! Heck, you can even choose “Surprise Me!”

Are your shots up to date?  ; )

Popular Writer’s First Book Debuts in a Wild Way

Katy Brown to release collection of humorous short stories about life with animals

CHARLESTON, W.Va  (March 22, 2012)  – The stories in Kathryn E. Brown’s first book of non-fiction, Kat Tales: Stories of a house…broken detail the writer’s mini-adventures with animals, both inside the home and in the wild.  Published by AuthorHouse, Brown proves that life is anything but tame.

The popular blogger and feature columnist admits that her love for animals – an addiction of sorts – has gotten her into severe trouble on occasion.  One might even say the 39-year-old professional writer and editor hoards trouble.

“Aside from being a wife and mother and the primary caregiver for an elderly relative, I’m also a small business owner,” Brown reveals.  “On top of that, I’m responsible for two households of pets.  This means I’m the underdog in more ways than one!”

Brown was encouraged to present a compilation of her work after readers took great interest in her blog posts and status updates on social networks, considered by many as a daily comic strip.

“I wanted to write a book of essays about real life events, so when I searched for the common theme in my writing, I discovered that all of the drama involved one of my pets.  Most everything that has ever happened to me has drawn in something with four legs!”

Fans of Brown’s work will immediately recognize her signature wit as she describes mishandling many situations, from a bungled celebrity interview and a pet fashion show to run-ins with dangerous animals and masked intruders.  Those readers new to her work will find much to enjoy in her heartfelt stories, such as the chapters about caring for animals with special (yet unusual) needs.

“The theme is about loving those creatures that can’t speak for themselves,” explains Brown.  “These stories express what we are willing to go through to make people – and pets – happy.”

Like Willie Morris’s My Dog Skip and John Grogan’s Marley & Me, Kat Tales bridges the traditional memoir with the qualities of animal non-fiction.  In the end, Brown hopes her readers are entertained and inspired.

“Even the smallest pet can bring headache and heartache, but they’re guaranteed to provide a few good laughs.”

Kat Tales: Stories of a house…broken will be released in May of 2012 and available through local and national booksellers.

About the Author

Kathryn E. Brown is a regular contributor to the Charleston Daily Mail.  Brown’s life stories have captured a loyal following, earning her praise as one of the wittiest observers entering the publishing scene.  A native of Charleston, West Virginia, Brown is the owner of The Write Word, LLC.  For more information, visit http://www.thewritewordllc.com or Brown’s blog at http://www.katybrown.wordpress.com.

About the Publisher

AuthorHouse, and Author Solutions, Inc. is a leading provider of book publishing, marketing and bookselling services for authors around the globe and offers the industry’s only suite ofHollywoodbook-to-film services.  Committed to providing the highest level of customer service, AuthorHouse assigns each author personal publishing and marketing consultants who provide guidance throughout the process.  Headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, AuthorHouse celebrated 15 years of service to authors in Sept. 2011. For more information, visit authorhouse.com or call 1-888-519-5121. For the latest news, follow @authorhouse on Twitter.

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Now that the manuscript is in the design process,  it’s time to move into the publicity phase.  I recently went through a pre-marketing interview with the sales team at AuthorHouse, and I thought you might like to know what Kat Tales: Stories of a house…broken is all about, too!

What inspired you to write this book?

I have always been addicted to animals, a habit that has gotten me into severe trouble on occasion! I knew I wanted to write a book of short stories or essays about real life events, so when I searched for the common theme in my writing, I discovered that all of the drama involved one of my pets.  Most everything that has ever happened to me has drawn in something with four legs!

How would you summarize the book? 

The stories are mini-adventures of life with animals, both inside the home and in the wild!  Pets can bring us great joy, but they also bring great responsibility and at times, great financial commitments.  This book captures a lot of the issues that pet owners and animal lovers experience in the pursuit of creating a home that feels complete.

What is the overall theme?

Clearly, I’m poking fun at myself for mishandling a lot of problems, but the theme is really about loving those creatures that can’t speak for themselves.  No matter how much trouble an animal can be, all they truly want is to provide unconditional companionship.  These stories express what we go through to make people – and pets – happy.

Where does this book take place?

Most of the chapters in the book take place in my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia.  However, I take readers on a trip from one end of the Mountain State to the other through stories about all types of animals – and a few celebrities.

Who are the main characters and why are they important to the story?

Since Kat Tales is a memoir, I have the lead role in driving my family crazy.  However, my husband, Mike and our daughters, Ava and Maryn have big parts in the book, particularly the way they have had to bail me out of wacky situations.  The animals, though, are the main characters.  Without them, there would be no book…. no “tale.”

 Why do you think that this book will appeal to readers?

The animal non-fiction genre is a major literary category, and I’m very pleased to be able to add a title to a catalog of work made famous by writers like John Grogan, who penned “Marley and Me”.   Pets are the primary characters in my book that talks about how we humans deal with life’s most common struggles.  I hope I’m able to help people find some humor in the headaches that we experience.

 How is your book relevant in today’s society?

It seems as though everything takes more time, energy and money these days – pet ownership being one of the things that takes a lot out of our day and our wallet.  Whether we are parents or not, bringing a dog or a cat into the family can make us feel like we’ve just had a baby! Caring for animals appears to be getting harder, and this book brings a lot of those issues to the surface.  People just don’t realize what they’re getting into when they take on a pet…not even a hamster!

What makes your book different from other books like it?

Kat Tales is a mixed breed of literary work; a humorous book known as creative non-fiction in the publishing world.  The difference is that my stories cover all types of ground – from things that gallop to things that slither!  Some writers tell the story of one pet or one problem, but Kat Tales speaks to a number of different animal lovers who care for a variety of different pets.  It’s a kennel of chaos!

What do you want readers to take away from your writing?

First, I want people to appreciate how much I love my family and how much our family’s pets mean to us.  However, I want readers to feel as though I understand them! Yes, I want people to laugh, but I also want them to know how many of us experience the same trials in life, and how we can bounce back from tough situations.

How did you learn about animals? How did you research it and prepare to write it?

Personal experience is the greatest way to achieve expertise in any given area, but as for writing, I have been a columnist for business magazines and regional newspapers for many years.  I am a contributing writer to the Charleston Daily Mail, writing a weekly blog on the topic of parenting for The Mommyhood.  But what I learned is that raising children isn’t too different from caring for pets! If you’ve done one, you can do the other!  You might even decide that child-rearing is easier!

        “I have come to accept that we have as little control over animals as we do anything else in life.  I have also learned that adversity is allowed in our lives to teach us something new, to make us more patient individuals and to alter our behaviors.  Lastly, I’ve accepted that altering the undesirable behaviors of pets, dogs in particular, is quite possibly the one hardship that won’t make us stronger.  It may kill us.”  

(Excerpt from the chapter, “I C M P N”)


Coming Soon!Last night, I downloaded a book on my iPad about the creativity of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (Jingleheimer Schmidt).  The story is about how she changed her life by becoming a career woman, particularly at a time when she didn’t have to work after inheriting a trust fund from the Kennedy family following her husband’s death, and then another $26 million following her second husband’s death.  But, Jackie sincerely loved books and she wanted to apply her talents and great intellect to the discovery of new authors.

The first page of  “Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of JKO” caught my attention. In Jackie’s own words, she tells the reader “If you produce one book, you will have done something wonderful in your life.”   I’m one step closer to this realization, as my first book of non-fiction has entered the final stages of production.  While I was making the last set of changes to the galley, the design team sent the front cover for review.  I have to admit, I wanted to cry.  Sure, it’s a funny little book about my adventures with animals — those I’ve wanted to keep and those I’ve wanted to get rid of — but it’s a major piece of work that absorbed 6 months of my life.   I wrote 22, 259 words and edited them at least 20 times.  This is not a big deal to writers such as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling who have written hundreds of thousands of words in their career.  But, this is my story and I’ve worked hard.  And, dog-gone-it, I’m proud of myself.

In the next few weeks, I’ll give you a teaser for each chapter (not to worry; they’re short), and hopefully by mid-May, I’ll be able to post a link to the booksellers that will carry Kat Tales: Stories of a house…broken  so you can (please!) buy a copy.  Versions will be available in hardback, paperback or e-edition, and they are very reasonably priced so you can buy extras for your friends (hint, hint).  Until then, here’s a sneak peek at the front cover.  I just had to let the cat out of the bag.

Image

I made the bed. Now I'd like to lie in it.

I’m feeling overwhelmed this evening, so I thought I’d pound out all the things I did today, which may have caused my anxiety level to skyrocket:  I stayed in Ava’s bedroom last night because she was coughing her head off, which means I got up at 5:45 a.m. feeling as though I hadn’t closed my eyes at all, so I made the strongest cup of coffee I could tolerate, fed the dogs, fed the guinea pig and rabbit, let the dogs out, let the dogs back in, checked e-mail messages, posted a blog for The Mommyhood, packed lunches for both girls, threw a load of laundry into the washer and folded the last round of towels, woke everyone up and sent them in their respective directions for showers and breakfast, checked homework folders and signed assignment notebooks, listened to Ava’s pleas to stay home because her ear ached, denied those requests and listened to her appeal the case in front of her father, brushed tangles and knots out of Maryn’s hair while she recited all of the ‘J’ words in her show-and-tell bag, let the dogs back out, helped get double knots out of four tennis shoes, waved everyone off from the front porch, walked to my aunt’s house to collect her mail and newspaper and put it inside the door, returned to my own house to reassemble the rooms everyone had destroyed in the past hour, devoured a bagel and chased it with yet another cup of caffeine, finally bathed myself and half-way styled my hair, pulled on wrinkled clothes, answered more emails, interviewed people for upcoming stories, summarized material for a research project, proofread the text on the dust jacket of my upcoming book scheduled for publication in May, answered the telephone at least ten times and hung up on telemarketers at least five times, let the dogs back in, drove to Office Max for folders and a new stapler that got pounded to smithereens when the phone rang for the 10th time, tried on swimsuits during my lunch half-hour and lost my appetite after that, returned home to check on logo tee-shirts for a reward program at the girls’ school, drove to the car dealership to sign papers that were forgotten during our trade over the weekend, fixed my aunt’s lunch and took her for a ride in the car while I ran errands to get stamps and take deposits to the bank, helped her back inside and fed her dogs and cats and let them outside, walked back to my house to find three boxes of those tee-shirts on my front porch, dragged all of it inside and sorted them according to classroom and students’ sizes, responded to more emails and complained on Facebook about my unfortunate swimsuit incident, summarized more research and typed data into a spreadsheet for a marketing project, answered three more calls from my aunt who forgot that she had already talked to me twice since I dropped her off at the front door, drove to the school to pick up the girls, sifted through backpacks and read notes, flyers and homework assignments, checked in with my husband to find out if he was going to be home for dinner and to ask what that meal might consist of, attempted to figure out pre-algebra puzzles designed for 7th graders but assigned to the third grade, listened to Maryn sound out words that were coded with weird symbols, agreed to let her go on a field trip to the Clay Center and wrote a check for $4.50 for the good of that order, realized that I had stuffed my cell phone bill in my checkbook and it would be late after 11PM, tried to pay it online but couldn’t remember my password or user ID, recited foul words and offered to code them for Maryn to show her teacher, answered the telephone and was relieved it wasn’t a call for me, defrosted chicken and searched for side dishes to go with it, yelled at the girls to stay inside or play outside but to STOP running in one door and out the other, shouted at the dogs to stop barking at the girls running from one side of the yard to the other, retrieved a ball that got kicked into the neighbor’s yard, waved to my aunt who waved back, took out two bags of weekend trash, threw a tennis ball over the fence to distract the barking dogs, yelled at both girls to come inside because I told them not to kick the ball out of the yard again, cooked the chicken, boiled the rice, heated the green beans, poured the milk, answered the telephone and learned that Mike would be late, called the girls to dinner, watched Maryn turn pale and run to the bathroom where she seemed to have a relapse of the stomach virus, sprayed Lysol on everything but the chicken, rice and green beans, made a place for her to rest on the couch, demanded that Ava eat her chicken if nothing else, proofread copy for a newsletter article, let the dogs in and fed them Maryn’s dinner, quizzed Ava on spelling and vocabulary words, warmed Mike’s dinner in the microwave, asked about his day and then wished I hadn’t, remembered the cell phone bill and drove to Southridge to pay it in person to avoid a late fee, waited fifteen minutes to give someone entirely too much money for a phone I barely use, drove home to discover that no one realized I had even left, checked on Maryn’s stomach and re-checked Ava’s homework, pulled out the last of today’s laundry, let the dogs back out, watched a nasty wreck in a rain delayed Daytona 500, tossed all the dirty dishes in the sink, told Maryn to go to bed if she felt that bad, asked Mike to test Ava on her states and capitals for a quiz tomorrow, checked Maryn’s teeth to make sure she didn’t have Pepto Bismol tablets still stuck in them, grabbed my computer and took it upstairs to sit with Maryn in case she got sick again, reminded Mike that the bathtub drain is clogged with the hair that’s falling out of my head, ran back to the basement to feed to guinea pig and the rabbit,  crated the dogs, ran back upstairs to tuck Ava into bed, plugged in my laptop to finish approaching deadlines, but I couldn’t focus so I decided to write the longest run-on sentence to describe what has had to be the longest run-on day.

The "author" with Pim of Pixie Hollow

After much debate with myself as well as with others, I have decided to write a book.  Friends and family have encouraged me to develop my one-liners into deeper thoughts, and to expand blogs into short stories.  But for some reason, I’ve always shelved the idea.

At first, I was caught up in being a 750-word writer as opposed to a 750-page author.  Then, I simply got busy with other things in life and I lost interest in my own story.  Finally, I became intimidated by the process, which is known to take years from the date of origination.

I wrote a children’s book about a year ago, but I didn’t do anything with it.  The story is a good one, but once again, the business of publishing turned me off.  It isn’t that I don’t want to work hard — if anything, I don’t know how to stop and rest — but it’s the process of asking to be approved.  Accepted.  Affirmed.  It’s an insecurity — and a big one.  It’s hard enough to put yourself out there, let alone invite criticism.

I like things that are small.  I like cozy Cape Cod-style homes with small patches of yard to mow.  I like small boxes (that contain rocks!).  I like small sizes — and wish I still wore them.  Going BIG — as in, going from a blog to a book — is a bit scary…it means that I’m consciously choosing to leave my little life in search of something more.

But, the fact is that I’m a pretty decent writer.  There! I said it.  I’m not a hard-core journalist, and I’m not a fierce academic with unhatched thoughts that have the potential to change the world.  However, I am versatile, as Charlotte A. Cavatica said about herself in Charlotte’s Web.  I can observe things and effectively relate the experience to others.  And, I can make them laugh.

So after a year of blogging on the issues of parenting in the Daily Mail feature, “The Mommyhood-WV”, I have chosen to scare myself by writing nearly 25,000 words on the topic of animals and pet ownership. My first book in the creative non-fiction genre that dabbles in slapstick humor, “Kat Tales” is currently in the hands of a very capable editor, who will attack my manuscript with the red pen of death, and for that, I am extremely grateful.  Once her comments and corrections have been applied to each chapter, I will turn the package over to AuthorHouse for publication and mass distribution.

Oh, yes…back to the insecurity thing.  I have elected to make my debut as an author on the independent market for a number of reasons.  One, some of the material has been published on the newspaper’s website and in e-editions, so previously printed material isn’t particularly attractive to literary agents.  Two, the life stories are a sample of my writing portfolio; therefore, this is a test to see if my essays can survive in the congested marketplace.  Three, I am a rather impatient person, so waiting to hear if my manuscript made it to the top of the slush pile is like waiting for cataract surgery.  I just want to get it over with!  Four, I like to work by myself and for myself.  The word “independent”, or “indie” as the publishing world calls it, fits me perfectly.  I have always suffered a stubborn streak that insists on doing things my way.  Group work just makes me panic.  I may be able to blame my loner status on my childhood, but you’ll have to wait for “Diary of a Grumpy Mom” to find out. (hint, hint)

Lastly, I wanted to cross BOOK off my personal to-do list.  I haven’t written the book for fame or fortune (remember, self-publishing means the writer assumes all elements of risk by putting his or her own money behind the project).  Rather, I’ve written the book for family.  I want to show my daughters in particular, that they can do what they want (within reason), but they do have to give it their best shot.

Self-publishing is a scary experience, though, much like selling a house by-owner.  All of the worries rest on the seller’s shoulders, from the initial contracts to the final threat of liability.  This week, I became better acquainted with terms that I had forgotten…words like “defamation”, “libel”, and “infringement”.  At one point, I became so overwhelmed with what-if scenarios that I seriously considered trashing the entire document.  Then, I decided to let someone else help me — something I don’t do very often — by giving me a “thumbs up” on the manuscript.  In the words of Bob Marley, every little thing is gonna be all right.

I hope I haven’t just violated a copyright law.

Until then, I swish my Kat tail in the air and wait for 60 complimentary copies of the memoir to arrive on my doorstep.  Clearly an item on my bucket list, who knows if the essays will climb the Indie Best Seller List.   But if they do, you can bet that I will write all about it.

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