Let’s talk characters

When you think about it, all of our lives are filled with characters. Humans with personalities, opinions, and quirks. These characters can energize us, amuse us, and teach us things we otherwise would never have learned. 

To me, the best kind of entertainment, whether it be on the stage, the big screen in a dark movie theater, on the good old boob tube, or within the pages of a novel, incorporates interesting characters. Characters that intrigue us, make us laugh,  and make us wish they were real people in our own very real lives. 

As I ponder publishing the little bit of fiction I began a few months ago, I find it unavoidable to not consider characters I love or have loved, both in real life and in the media.

Those characters that speak to my heart and compel me to write about them. I just can’t imagine coming up with completely original fictional characters without infusing them with at least some pieces of the non-fictional characters I have known.

So let me tell you about a few characters I’ve known. Those who are long gone from this earth who impacted my life in ways they likely never knew.

For instance, the man who taught me how to swim. He was full of life and always had a good joke (some of them quite inappropriate) to tell us. He loved my mom’s cooking and I believe that is one of the main things that endeared him to her. I remember him leading a pack of kids (his grandkids, my nephews) in the “Macarena” dance at my parent’s cabin in the early 90’s. He was a husband, father, teacher, swim coach, and an artist. I have a beautiful piece of his artwork hanging in my guest bedroom in fact. In his spare time, which it doesn’t seem he could possibly had too much of, he did some clowning around with the Shriners. He lived for those times when he could don his wacky rainbow wig and cherry colored nose and delight the children (young and old) in small town parades in the summertime. His funeral was epic, as was the party for his closest family and friends that was held afterwards. He was my godfather.

Then there’s the woman who always had yellow cake, from a box, with chocolate frosting on top sitting in her pantry, waiting for us to devour it when we came to visit. She was terribly hard of hearing and once called Hubs “Cobb” because she thought he was my old boyfriend “Todd”. She loved playing cards and always had the latest National Enquirers and TV guide magazines sitting in racks next to her plastic covered “davenport”. She was a massive fan of wigs, as she found it fun to be able to change her look whenever she damn well pleased. She kept these wigs perched on styrofoam heads on the top shelves of her walk in closet. As a kid, that always scared the shit out of me. She enjoyed herself a cocktail or two and as a result, my cousins christened with the nickname “Pearl Pearl the Party Girl”. She was my grandma.

And finally, there was woman who always had a wonderful rapport with the children she loved, but for reasons only known to her always believed she would not make a good mother, so she remained childless. She had a silly sense of humor as well as a way with the wisecracks. She always said she would have made an excellent boy scout, which everyone who knew her agreed with. She was always prepared, often anticipating the needs of others. She made an awesome Pillsbury dough-boy costume she wore for Halloween. She was a take-charge-but-in-a-kind and loving way sort of person. She paid attention to people and had the very biggest heart. Some of her favorite songs were “Werewolves in London” by Warren Zevon and “Fancy” by Reba McIntire. Every time I hear either of those songs the corners of my mouth do an automatic upturn. She was my (non-biological) sister, my guardian angel, and my best friend.

Tell me, big-hearted readers, who are the characters in your life that have shaped you and informed you as a writer?

 

 

 

Wannabe intern

In the way back of my life, I was a college student working on a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As part of obtaining my degree, I was required to complete an internship.

This of course is not uncommon. I’m sure many of you readers have had your own experiences with internships.

I’d always been an eager student. Full of curiosity. Ready to soak up any knowledge there for the taking to better myself. I chose to intern at the local Children’s Home.

Working with intellectually disabled children was not necessarily my end goal, career-wise. As I recall, my decision to take that internship was guided more by the limited amount of choices before me. The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that managing these children’s erratic, peculiar, and sometimes explosive behaviors was not something I had an instinct or talent for.

And that was and is perfectly okay with me. The point is, I learned from that experience the track I didn’t want to pursue in my future career in social work.

Here’s the thing, though: while approximately 30 plus years have passed since this internship, I’m still as hungry as ever to learn something new. Expand my horizons. Both career-wise and for my own personal satisfaction.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the Esteemed Wizard of General Adult Education has presented me with an opportunity to be an intern again, at the age of 52. With no restrictions or guidelines. Just whatever kind of internship I can dream up. She is a wizard after all, so she can make that happen for me, right?

I believe that 99.9% of internships are unpaid, so I would have zero expectation of any financial compensation. But since this is my own customized internship opportunity, I would require that I 1) have the ability to set my own hours and 2) if the internship location was not in the north Denver metro area (where I currently live, if you didn’t know this already), that I would have free housing and a modest daily stipend for culinary sustenance.

Here’s one possibility:

Interning at Saturday Night Live. I am a life-long, hard-core fan of this show. From Gilda Radner’s “Rosana Rosana-dana” to Chris Farley’s “motivational” speaker sketch (I live in a van down by the river!) to Debbie Downer, all the incarnations of “Weekend Update” and most of everything in between, this show has amused me for over 40 years.

I imagine I’d be hanging out in the writer’s room while the writers spitball ideas for scenes, dialogue, or sketches. I’d have pen and notebook at the ready to jot down the best ideas and expand upon them. I’d have opportunities to interview the writers, asking them questions about their journeys to becoming the writers they are. I’d get to hang out with celebrities and learn a bit about what makes them tick.

I wouldn’t be just a taker in this scenario either. I’d provide sketch ideas, like this one:

Heidi Gardner, playing Brie Bacardi opposite Mikey Day’s Nico, is interviewed by the newbie entertainment reporter with a ridiculous name, played of course by Kenan Thompson. At Coachella. He asks her how she got her name. She explains that “years ago” (2017) at a “low key ” late evening soiree with her besties sitting by a fire on the beach, she drank this:

Image result for image of bacardi drink for women

For reference, here’s one of the sketches featuring these two doofuses:

Once Brie realizes that Nico has been behind her photobombing the live interview, she loses her shit (because this interview was supposed to be all about her) and a ridiculous fight ensues, which ends when he hands her a new puppy he has named “Breezer”.

What do you think-do I have a shot?

More importantly, however: if you, imaginative and curious readers, could be an intern right now, where would it be and why? I would love to hear what you come up with!

Tell Me Something Good

How is everyone doing? Are there good things happening in your life, or not so much? Me, well…I’m struggling a bit these days. Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that now both of my parents are no longer here. And feeling helpless when it comes to my oldest spawn and some serious issues she is struggling with.

Then there’s the state of the world. Despite all of the deplorable and inexplicable behaviors of the Con-Man-In-Chief and his ilk, karma has yet to make an appearance. People around the world are suffering needlessly due to poverty and the messed up priorities of the governments serving them. Women’s reproductive rights continue to be under attack.

Yes, Karma is taking her own sweet fudging time and she’s starting to piss me off.

motion satisfying GIF
Pick up the pace, Miss Karma!

Let’s just say my faith in humanity is a bit shaky these days.

It would be in my best interest to remember this:

Good things are happening too, though, in my personal life anyway. That I can’t deny. My hours at work are being increased in a few months, so that I can take on more responsibility and expand my skill set to better serve our seniors. It makes me feel good that my efforts are appreciated and my employer believes in my abilities.

Hubs and I have planned a getaway to visit his parents and sister (I am so grateful for these three people in my life) in Wisconsin and then will spend a couple of days with our youngest spawn in their adopted hometown of Indianapolis at the end of May. This is something to look forward to.

But in the meantime…well, I just don’t know. Grief and how people have disappointed me lately in various ways are getting me down. It’s temporary, certainly. The weight of it all, the sense of futility I’m feeling. Well, I think for today anyway I’m just going to feel it. Marinate in it for a bit.

Just not for too long.

I recently watched this clip of Leslie Jones on SNL and it cracked me up. This woman is a force, right? When she mentioned Fantasia kicking her shoes off and belting out tunes at her imaginary funeral, it made me think of this video clip I’m sharing below. I’m certain this is what Leslie was referring to, right?

I invite you to tell me about something good happening in your life right now or in the world at large in the comments. Let’s share that shit around as much as possible. Because you know we all need it.

Word Nerd

A couple of months ago,  I engaged in conversation with a new food bank client. He told me about his life and his education. He shared his love of grammar and communication. He told me that he was so proud of his granddaughter, who at the age of 3, correctly used the word “ubiquitous” in a sentence.

Hard to believe, right? He may have been lying about this. Though who in their right mind would lie about this type of thing?

Either way, it matters not. This conversation, however, did get me thinking, as a former English major, about this basic fact: I love words. Especially unique ones. Ones that are fun to say. Words that have a super special ability to convey precisely the right sentiment at the right moment.

And of course, I was prompted to look up the actual definition of the word “ubiquitous”. You know, just to double check my understanding of it’s meaning. It’s been a few years since I was an English major.

According to good old Merriam-Webster:

Definition of ubiquitous

existing or being everywhere at the same time constantly encountered:
Allow me to use this beautiful word in a sentence:
One could say that the smell of weed on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado was ubiquitous.
Here’s a few more lovely words to nerd out on:

Definition of compunction

1aanxiety arising from awareness of guilt compunctions of conscience
bdistress of mind over an anticipated action or result… showed no compunction in planning devilish engines of … destruction.— Havelock Ellis
2a twinge of misgiving SCRUPLE cheated without compunction… he had no compunction about brushing aside legal technicalities.— Robert Penn Warren
Used in a sentence:
Attorney General William Barr summarized the Mueller report without compunction. 

Definition of kerfuffle

a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict In all the kerfuffle, nobody seemed to have noticed Harry, which suited him perfectly.— J. K. RowlingIt’s not the only school with dress code issues; almost every week there’s a local story about some kerfuffle over what kids wear to school.— Belinda Luscombe
In a sentence: Despite all the kerfuffle made by the Chicago police and the media at large, the case against Jussie Smollett has been thrown out. 

Definition of vociferous

marked by or given to vehement insistent outcry
What a great word, that vociferous.
In sentence form:
I vociferously disagree with climate change deniers. 

Definition of foppish

1obsolete FOOLISHSILLY
2acharacteristic of a fopfoppish dressing gown
bbehaving or dressing in the manner of a fop
A sentence for this word: 

Trump’s cronies are often quite foppish; just look at Roger Stone.

Image result for image of roger stone

Definition of milquetoast

a timid, meek, or unassertive person
In the form of a sentence:

Hubs has been telling me for a while now that he believes the democrats are too milquetoast. 

Now I’d like to hear from you, readers who appreciate words like I do: What are some words you enjoy using? 

Yes, I ought to lose weight, But

Here’s the truth, folks: I am approximately 10 lbs. 15 lbs. heavier than I should be, according to the last height/weight/BMI chart I glanced at. If I don’t start losing at least some weight, I will find myself having no choice but to purchase size 14 pants. I really don’t want to do that. I’m accepting of my status as a size 12. It’s okay with me that I’ve got some curves. I don’t feel a need to get down to a size 8 or even a size 10 at all.

I think the two things that need to happen to lose any weight is 1) start an aerobic exercise routine and 2) decrease the portions on my plate. It’s simple really.

However.

Every Monday morning at the food bank I run, a kindly older gentleman delivers a large box of desserts, donated by local grocery store bakeries. As experience has taught me, there is zero chance that each and every one of these goodies will be snapped up by our senior clients by Friday. Turns out, by and large, seniors are actually pretty darn health-conscious. And I very much dislike tossing out perfectly delicious items such as these below.

See what I mean, people?!

To top it off, we often pick up even more sugary delights from the Food Bank of the Rockies. I’m talking pies, cakes, donuts, cupcakes…you get the gist.

My mind-set fluctuates between “YOLO” and “Don’t put that shit in your body, dummy!” when it comes to my appetite for all things sweet.

Perhaps I just need to greatly increase my exercise to combat this, which would provide the extra bonus of lessening the guilt surrounding my consumption of treats. But then, I would risk injuring myself by over-doing it. Like I could twist my ankle and end up having to keep it elevated on the couch for weeks on end. Then I’d have no choice but to put a stop to my over-indulgence of sugar unless I decided I actually wanted to gain weight. That would be crazy.

This is quite the conundrum for me. I suspect it will continue to be.

Resistance, in this case, may indeed be futile.

Thank the good Lord that both tunic tops and leggings are all the rage in women’s fashion these days. As a slave to fashion who carries some extra weight, this is much appreciated.

Anyhoo…let me finish this post off with a recipe. It’s simple (aka not exactly from scratch) and sweet and you absolutely should not make them if you don’t intend to scarf them all down in less than 24 hours. They are addictive.

Brownie recipe:

Ingredients:

1 package fudge brownie mix (13 X 9 inch pan size)

1 cup sour cream

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, of course)

1 cup milk chocolate frosting

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Fold the sour cream chocolate chips, and walnuts into batter. Pour into the greased baking pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Once completely cooled (I know, this takes much patience), frost. Cut into squares (or ovals, or hexagons, or triangles) and enjoy!

*Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home magazine*

It can’t always be ABOUT ME

Clearly, I flat out suck at coming up with titles for my blog posts. Any suggestions you may have to address this particular shortcoming of mine are appreciated.

Though the title I chose is better than the original : “To all the Blogs I’ve loved before”. That might have sounded just a tad creepy, right?

My objective in this particular post is to lift up those blogs and bloggers that I have been following ever since I started my own blog (and a couple of these I discovered prior to starting this blog).

I’ve been very fortunate to have discovered each of these blogs and I think if you haven’t yet discovered them yourself, you’d be doing yourself a favor by checking them out now.

You see, these are the blogs that I feel I actually get something out of. Whether that be inspiration for my next blog post, a kick ass recipe, a new way of thinking about something, or a few hearty belly laughs, these are my “go-to’s”.

Elly @ http://ellylonon.com/:

I find Elly and her blog to be creative, talented, inspirational, hilarious, smart, and entertaining. And she plays a mean ukulele! If I had an opportunity to write with her, I’d take it in a hot second. Elly also wrote a hilarious book, complete with awesome illustrations, thanks to her cohort Joan Reilly, about a middle aged, liberal, educated, cat owning but not child owning (not like one owns their children of course), married couple traipsing across the country in an RV in an effort to make sense of what has become of our country in the wake of the Trump era.

She started her book as a regular feature in McSweeney’s. It’s titled “Amongst the Liberal Elite” and of course you can buy it on Amazon, like I did, or find it in your local bookstore.

CJ @ https://feedingonfolly.com/: She is a fantastic storyteller. A giver of wonderful recipes. She is smart, funny, and kind. She’s inspired and encouraged me throughout my blogging journey.

Because I am a giver too, here’s a post she penned that includes an awesome recipe that I have actually made: https://feedingonfolly.com/2018/09/19/on-apple-trees-cake-and-planning-ahead-for-panic-attacks/

Lorna @ https://ginlemonade.com/ Lorna is a very talented writer. Her tone is straightforward and her writing, through the lens of a mom/wife/American living in Scotland who gets around on wheels due to CP, is insightful. She is very hardworking and sincere in her writing. She also runs a great blogging group on Facebook which has been a pleasure for me to be a part of.

Then there’s Christine @ https://imsickandsoareyou.com/. She is the blogger who recommended Lorna’s blogging group on Facebook. She blogs from the viewpoint of a woman who was very sick for a good long time, due to a desmoid tumor, who has fairly recently regained her health. She is terribly witty, thoughtful, raw, and honest with her writing. She is imaginative and alternates between being laugh-out-loud funny with her writing and deeply personal and thoughtful.

Annie at https://givememeatloaf.com/ is a blogger I’ve been following I believe since before I started my own blog. She writes primarily about food and travel. She is a “living doll” as my mom used to say. She’s cute as a button and has a way of drawing you in with her beautiful pictures of delectable food (some she makes herself and some from dining out) and travel destinations. There is a sense of fun and adventure in all of her posts. And I owe her a thank you in advance for a recent post on her trip to Puerto Rico with her husband (aka Sir Dave). It helped me to talk Hubs into taking me to Puerto Rico for our next tropical vacation (ha ha! as if this is really a thing for us). But alas, we shall go there! Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in 2020, after all.

Now, there are of course several other blogs I regularly follow that I ought to mention. Because I respect your time, I will keep it simple-ish and drop links to a few of those.

https://butismileanyway.com/: Ritu writes, among other things, a regular feature “Chai and a Chat” in which she expresses her sweet, positive, effervescent personality. It’s a delight. Reading this always makes me wish I was sitting across from her, gabbing the day away in person.

Fatty McCupcakes (you’ll have to google it as I’m not much of a techie and couldn’t get the link to copy here) : Just trust me when I say that Katie is a great comedic writer. She tells the funniest stories and is very relatable.

https://debs-world.com/: Deb is inspirational. She is a world traveler who has lots of great stories to tell.

https://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/: Caitlin is a professional writer/journalist/photog who leads a fascinating life. Her posts are always interesting, thought provoking, and smart.

https://lutheranliar.com/: Alice is fiercely funny. She has the best pictures to illustrate her hilarious stories.

I hope you, smart and creative readers, will have an opportunity to check out these blogs that I dig so much.

Please share your favorite blogs in the comments too! Sharing is caring people 🙂

My first Dream house

Hubs and I just got back from spending the better part of a week in the house I grew up in.

Because my mom died.

The last good picture of me and Mom (July 2018)

I’m going to be processing this fact for a good long while.

But for now, let me tell you a little about this special house.

It’s a small house that was filled with a lot of love. It’s very old but well maintained, because of my dad’s abilities with carpentry, plumbing, and virtually everything else.

As the story goes, my grandfather (whom I never met), at the age of 58, had a massive heart attack and died while standing in the archway between the tiny kitchen and the dining area of this house.

Both of my parents had experiences with his presence in that house over the years. It never scared them at all. I think they found it comforting.

This is also the house my father grew up in. He bought it from my grandmother. Between about 1960 and 1985, he and mom raised me, and my older sister and brother in this house.

The kitchen is quite small. I’m always amazed that despite not having more than 5 feet of counter space to work with, my mom always churned out delicious, homemade meals for us each and every night. The woman had a knack for using small spaces as efficiently as possible. It’s too bad she never got an opportunity to visit Ikea, with their mock up small spaces that have cleverly placed nooks and crannies for housing all the necessities for day to day living.

This is the house in which my two teenaged siblings threw a wild party at, in about 1974, while our parents were on a Las Vegas vacation. The party where 7 year old me was slathered with attention and plied with sandwiches and other treats in an attempt to ensure my silence. I, of course, being the bratty little sister, immediately told on them once our parents got home.

This is the house where my dad, fully immersed in his Alzheimer’s fog 2 years ago, gestured towards the corner of the living room, and relived, for me and mom, the delight he experienced in that very space where 75 years prior, his father sat with him and read stories.

This is the house where, back in the 80’s, my best friend burned a hole with her cigarette on the handmade-by-mom quilt that covered my 4 poster bead while my parents were out of town for the weekend. I lived in fear from that day on that mom would notice that little burn hole. But, surprisingly, she never did. 

Yes, the quilt (as our bright 5 year old grandson said: that sounds like it starts with the letter “Q”!) came back home to Colorado with us.

This is the house where people gathered to celebrate. From mom’s bridge club nights to family/friends steak fries during the summer in the backyard to high school graduation parties to wedding present openings.

This is the house where my writing dreams began.

*This post was in response to a prompt from lovely Lorna from Gin & Lemonade: “Dream House”. And in response to the emotions involved in the passing of my one-of-a-kind mother. https://ginlemonade.com/2019/02/13/house-hunting-as-a-wheelchair-user-other-stories/

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