If you’re ever feeling the urge to buy me a present and aren’t sure what to get, buy me this.
The following conversation may have taken place after a good hand washing:
“This smells so good it makes me want to lick my hands.”
“It makes me want to *ahem* with my hands.”
If that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what does.
*B&BW did not pay me for this endorsement, but I’m happy to accept bribes in the form of more soap.
As much as I love putting my house together, I also love LIVING in my house. We’ve taken full advantage of the huge kitchen, making everything from chipolte shrimp quesadillas to blueberry bread to marinated NY strips (we also got a new grill that ROCKS). One dish that’s been requested more than the others is my mango salsa. It’s a really simple recipe and tastes delicious, but the eye-rolling comes in because it’s very time consuming.
We’re having friends over for dinner tonight, and of course I decided to make mango salsa (for the third time in three weeks), not remembering that Wednesday nights are shot because we play beach volleyball at Lake Michigan (we won a game! woo-hoo!). Lucky for me my adorable house has an added bonus I haven’t thoroughly emphasized: it’s 1.3 miles from my office. That means even WITH the newly lowered speed limit (45 to 35) I can home in under five minutes.
That left 50 minutes for the salsa. (And playing with Owen, duh). Turns out I can whip this gloriousness out in 30 minutes!
This may also be the first time I’ve worn an apron unironically.
This past Saturday my grandmother and I helped my mom celebrate her birthday at the Red Wings game in downtown Detroit. This is the inaugural year for the Winnipeg Jets, formerly the Atlanta Thrashers. The original Winnipeg Jets moved Phoenix and became the Coyotes in 1996, but the new Jets team has been welcomed with open arms by everyone except Detroit, who beat them 7-1. (This has nothing to do with my point, I just think it’s interesting.)With eight goals scored it would be an understatement to say it was an action-packed game, but what got our attention even more than the goals was how slippery the ice seemed to be. I’m sure you’re thinking, Duh, it’s ice. Of course it’s slippery, but no one seemed to tell the players. They were falling all over each other—tripping over teammates, slipping in the middle of the ice when no one else was near, and my favorite, toppling headfirst onto the ice while trying to start a shift. Falling is a part of hockey, but it was borderline absurd how often the players bit it.
The next morning I watched the game highlights on the news, eager to see the clumsiness repeated, but all they showed were the goals. Not a single stumble made the cut. At first I was disappointed, but that’s when it struck me that sometimes the parts that make you laugh the most don’t progress the story. They’re just bits of fluff that—while hilarious—have no place in the final draft.
A good reminder for me as I head into my own edits.
I should have done this post last week and saved the NaNo update for the final day of the competition, but since when do I do things in the proper order?
Over the past week I’ve thought a lot about the things for which I’m thankful. Pretty much every aspect of my life has changed in the past year, almost all for the better, and I think I’ve finally closed the door on the chapter of my life that had dominated me for far too long.
In no particular order:
I adore my apartment. I’ve been in my place for almost six months and I absolutely love it. There’s a dog park for Owen, lots of trees, and soothing wall colors.
My new job is better than I could have hoped for. I’ve just started the actual work, but I love the atmosphere, the people, the perks… and the fact that it’s in Grand Rapids is icing on the paycheck.
I’ve gone public with my design business. Ink Slinger Designs is alive and kicking after YEARS of half-hearted freelance work. I’ve always known I wanted to specialize in something but couldn’t pinpoint my niche. Book covers feel like the perfect fit AND they’re fun to design.
The Book of Good is still going strong. I haven’t talked about here like I’d originally intended, but I’ve written in it just about every day this year. It’s a journal where I have to write at least three good things that happened each day. When things were especially difficult last winter, I decided that forcing myself to find even the tiniest good things would help me see past all the bad, and it’s really helped. I don’t allow myself to write anything negative (although I admit I’ve written “I didn’t kill so-and-so today” and “I survived today”), no matter how strong the urge. That’s what my regular journal is for.
My friends got agents, have been published, or are about to be! Including:
Stacey Graham – Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide
June Kramin (as Ann T. Bugg) – Before Happily Ever After
Trish Stewart – Taking Lessons from Ernest
Jamie Mason – The Liar’s Margin
My mom gets to retire next summer. Her excitement is contagious.
I finally feel like I’m home and part of a community. When I first returned to the US, I didn’t have any intention of staying here. When I got divorced and signed a lease of my very own, I thought maybe I’d stick around for another year. Well I’m happy to report I’m slowly making real life friends (gasp!), I’ve joined activities away from the computer, and I’m looking forward to staying in west Michigan.
Writing. Unfortunately writing has fallen behind everything else going on, but I still consider myself a writer and have high hopes for my writing career in the next year.
This past year was just a warm-up.
Hello! It’s been a crazy few days and I have lots of news to share with you, but I’m going to wait until next week. Sorry.
I went to Washington DC this past weekend, where I saw friends, monuments, and made more than my share of children and animals squeal. The best part? Having two of my favorite people within poking distance.
In early spring of 2009, my friend Stacey Graham mentioned an idea she had for a new humor blog. Our group of friends continuously amused each other, so why not spread that joy throughout the internet via essays written in the spirit of Erma Bombeck?
Thus was born An Army of Ermas.
Our ranks have grown, and some early contributors have faded into the background (including yours truly) while others have truly blossomed, turning An Army of Ermas into something I don’t think any of us expected. Erma’s regularly gets thousands of hits per post, and the site was recognized by the Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop as Humor Blog of the Month after only two months in existence. Behind all of it is Stacey, cracking her whip to keep the writers in line and the readers entertained.
To honor and thank Stacey, we have declared today An Army of Ermas Day. I would yodel but I don’t want to waste my quota of vowels for the day.
I’ve only written a handful of articles for Ermas so the site’s popularity has had little to do with me, but it HAS affected me. Watching Stacey take an over-caffeinated idea bubble and turn it into a popular humor site (all while raising five girls, getting an agent, selling a book, running spy camp, and wrangling zombies) has been an inspiration. Anytime I feel like an idea is silly or unattainable, I make myself stop and ask “why not?” Stacey’s determination and exuberance for every project she tackles has given me the hope that I might be able to do the same.
Stacey, thank you.
More friends celebrating An Army of Erma Day:
Terri Lynn Coop
Sara Spock Carlson
Hi, I’m Melanie, a person with normal problems like everyone else. Things piss me off, drive me batty, and infuriate me so badly I find myself looking for the closest idiot to punch (I don’t actually punch people). When I need to vent I call or text a friend to get it off my chest, then I move on. I do NOT post it online for everyone to see.
I’ve talked before about my astonishment at what people post without thinking. Besides the fact that whatever you type in a moment of rage is there forever—we’re all aware of that—I wonder if these people realize that it also affects your relationships and the way people view you. I try to say something encouraging if it seems like a friend is upset, but if all you every do is complain, I tune you out pretty quickly.
But I’m not here to gripe. Today I’m going to show you how I turn crappy (this is subjective) things that happen to me, spin it in the writer-brain, and turn it into something that I hope is a little more entertaining.
What I said:
“I’m a girl. This is how I deal with problems.” (accompanied with this photo)
What I could have said (that actually happened):
A hornet invaded my air-tight living room and possibly stung my puppy.
What I said:
“We’ve arrived! Ranger Rick was very excited to see us.”
What I could have said:
When we arrived at our vacation destination, the security guards stopped us several times and made us drive to different offices before finally allowing us into the complex. The only benefit is one of them was hot.
What I said:
What i could have said:
This storm is so bad we had to pull over in a rest stop and wait ten minutes before sprinting inside for breakfast. Then they didn’t have any power so we had to drive to another place THROUGH MORE RAIN before finally finding a place where we could eat. Not to mention my passenger had never experienced a Midwest storm before and was a little concerned we’d be swept up in a tornado.
What I said:
“Waiting for Turkey!”
What I could have said:
I couldn’t fall asleep last night and had to drag myself out of bed after less than five hours of sleep to go pick my friend up at the airport. Give me coffee…
What I said:
“TGIF has never been so true.”
What I could have said:
Some things are still better left unsaid.
In the US, when a person is murdered, a variety of things can happen to the killer. He gets away. He’s caught, stands trial, and is found not-guilty. He’s found guilty and gets a light sentence. He spends his life in jail. Or he’s put to death.
The media tells us that justice for the murdered person gives the family a sense of closure; a way to move past the devastation they’ve experienced and get on with their lives.
I’m fortunate to have never gone through the horror of awaiting justice for the murder of a loved one — or so I thought. When I found out Osama Bin Laden was dead, a heartache I didn’t realize I’ve been carrying for nearly ten years shifted ever so slightly. It didn’t go away, just as my friend Craig Blass will never come back, but a sense of finality swept through me as the news sunk in.
I can only imagine how the families of the nearly 3000 people killed on 9/11 feel.
I will never celebrate the death of another human. I don’t consider myself a pacifist, but I’m also not pro-war. I’m not naive enough to hope for world peace, but I will never understand the hatred that so fully consumes some people.
Bin Laden’s death will likely lead to even more deaths, possibly here in the US, and a new figure will likely emerge to fill his place. I just hope this isn’t the beginning of a viscous cycle of each side demanding justice for yet more murders.
I have several things I’d like to talk about, so today’s post will be a hodge-podge of things.
First, I’m glad Friday’s post resounded with so many of you. I kind of figured it would, but what I didn’t expect was the people I consider friends worrying that they’ve somehow offended me. I’m by no means a delicate flower, nor have I received such hurtful comments that I’ve been tempted to cancel my online accounts (as some of you have), but I do think it’s fair to request a little decency. Glad you all agree.
Second, I’m almost halfway through editing the first draft of Flicker. It’s going well and I’m really enjoying the story. I’ve even been overheard snerking at several one-liners that I forgot about. I’d hoped to be closer to finishing by now so I could pass it along to my beta readers, but life has gotten in the way, as it’s apt to do.
Third, I’m going to have a contest!! Today marks eleven months since I returned to the United States, and I think we should celebrate the one-year mark with a party. Or at the very least a giveaway. I’m still working out the details but there will be prizes. Stay tuned for details.
Finally, if you’ve ever wonder about Urban Dogsledding, check out my post at An Army of Ermas.
Or at the very least, a little courtesy.
I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to write this post because it’s a bit of a rant. My frustration lies in the way I see people treating each other online. I’ll use myself as an example, but I’ve witnessed this behavior on blogs, on Facebook, and everywhere else people interact.
I’m not talking about anonymous trolls who bait people for sport. I’m talking about those who call themselves my friends, yet do nothing to earn that title. Their comments are snarky, rude, inconsiderate, and border on plain old mean, yet they seem oblivious to the fact that I’m a person with feelings just like everyone else and their thoughtless words often have a negative effect. (Which is especially ironic since many of these people are writers.) I’ve tried ignoring them, I’ve responded seriously — I’ve even deleted comments — yet nothing seems to get my point across.
Many of my friends would appear to fall into this category (based on Facebook posts alone), but I have a tight group of friends with whom I email, text, chat, talk, etc, on a daily or weekly basis, so while on the surface it may seem like we do nothing but tease each other, in reality we’re very involved in each others lives. The trouble starts when people I don’t know as well see that banter and assume it’s a free-for-all.
Here’s where I’m hoping the people will stop and ask themselves which group they fall into. Do you make the effort to get to know someone before casually flinging insults at them, or do you figure it’s the internet so what difference does it make? Over the past few years I’ve made a real effort to eliminate negativity from my life — including ending friendships — and I’m almost at the point where that needs to happen again.
Before anyone calls me a hypocrite, I’d like to point out that for every silly or smart@ss comment I make, I try to say something genuine and supportive as well. I’ve stopped myself from posting countless times because I know my offhand remark could easily be taken the wrong way, especially if the person is having a rough day. All I’m asking for is the same in return.