Monday, May 30, 2011

Today Is Your Day

I've been catching snippets of Shania Twain's reality show, Why Not?, on the OWN channel. In a recent episode, she performed a new song she's been writing. Listen closely. Do you notice a subtle but distinct Gnome-Slaying theme running through the lyrics?

If you read this Ms. Twain, won't you please post this baby on iTunes? 'Cuz I'd totally buy it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Deal of the Day!

Folks! Have I got a deal for you! Today only--but also tomorrow. And the next day. And also the next one. And so on--But Today Only, I am offering you TWO--not one but TWO--Gnomes for the price of ONE! 

That's right ladies and gents, if you act now and call the number on your screen (Just pick one. Any number will do), you can be the proud owner of both the Gnome of Self-Doubt AND the Gnome of Procrastination-Born-of-Generalized-Poutyness-Over-Things-Not-Being-As-Easy-As-You-Thought-They-Would-Be! Yes, we know. You're overwhelmed at our generosity. But my dear people, that is how we here at Angus Darkspume (Gnome of Despair) & Sons wives, daughters, friends, barnacles, small animals, &tc. operate! We stick you with TWO, when all you want is ONE. Or really NONE!

And if that weren't enough, these gnomes are easy to access. Once you've paid the small fee of your self-esteem (plus a bit of self-respect and confidence), all you have to do is grab hold of Self-Doubt and Procrastination, and wuhBAM! They're on board. It's as easy as that. No complicated installation. No annoying forms to fill out. No due-diligence whatsoever. Just reach over and grab hold and these little babies are yours for life!

Well, dear people, dry your tears of gratitude, for there is more. If you act now, not only will you receive these Gnomes ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE FREE OF CHARGE, but we will enroll you in Doctor Spume-y's "How I Could Have Been A Published Author Like JK Rowling Except No One Believed In Me, But I'm Not Bitter" course.  This course is designed to speed you on your road to despair by teaching things like:

--How to place your self-esteem entirely in external things (how you look, how people respond to things you create, such as a manuscript, a painting, your cooking, whether or not you married a doctor, whether your kids are nobel peace prize laureates, that sort of thing), rather than being nice, trying hard, and loving other people.
--How to put more stock in the feedback of others than on how well you are doing with your own goals.
--How to get mad that things didn't happen the way you expected, AND how to throw a spectacular tantrum, thus bringing to a halt whatever it is that you are trying to do or produce. YOU'LL SHOW THEM!
And finally, 
--How to surf the internet endlessly instead of being productive. We'll even show you how to bring up your internet-surfing stamina by stuffing yourself with sugar and caffeinated beverages to stay awake (which of course has the added bonus of dipping your self-esteem to newer lows as you realize what a pathetic lack of self-control you have!)

Yes folks. Buy into what Angus Darkspume (Gnome of Despair) & Sons wives, daughters, friends, barnacles, small animals, &tc. have to offer and your life will never be the same.

(Void where prohibited, and in the presence of perseverance and self-acceptance.)

(Warning: Not using Angus Darkspume (gnome of blah blah)'s product may cause giddiness, clear vision, peace, swooning, a desire to exercise, cravings for leafy greens, sudden inability to avoid social situations, laughter, uncontrollable joy, blindness to all things negative, increased productivity, and generalized paroxysms of delight.)

Brought to you by the Untied Front of Gnome World Domination. We mean United! UNITED! (stupid computer)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How to deal with the death of a loved one

If I'm gonna be honest I must confess that the past few months has left me riddled with fear. Sure, I chase my dream but with self belief? That would be a NO. Do you know what I mean, my friend? You want something so much but are too riddled with fear to make a move.

Well, finally something has shifted within me and that thing is death.

They say death comes in three's. Well then, I have two down, one more to go. This past month my Uncle Mike (66 years old) and a dear friend named Tiffany (30 years old)has passed away.

Losing them has rattled my drive alive. The time has come to set the fear aside because my friends, there isn't time. You want your dream? Now's the time for action.

Do the thing you fear the most-do it for those you love who have passed away.

PS- I cannot believe I'm about to post a video featuring Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. Even so, the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert DVD has been blaring constantly at my home. This songs sums up my feelings for this post. Maybe it will help you along your own journey. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYToP5ZfydE

Monday, May 23, 2011

Anybody Out There?

Soooooo. It's Monday. I'm still here. If you're reading this, you must have missed out on the rapture too.

At first, I was a little bummed when Saturday came and went without so much as a hiccup. No earthquakes. No tempests. Not even a single zombie. I mean, I'm a reasonably decent person. I recycle. I don't talk on my cell phone in the movie theatre. I try not to tailgate. Do none of these things qualify me?

But then I did a head count. Guess what? No one in my family was raptured either. Nor were any of my friends. My gnomies, Janiel and Russo, are still here. (Seriously, I thought for sure Janiel would have been raptured at least.)

Actually, I'm kinda glad. There are still lots of things to look forward to: Pirates 4, Harry Potter, X-Men. Would you believe I haven't even read HUNGER GAMES yet? Not to mention the final book in the SHIVER series, because I cannot leave this world without knowing what happens to Grace and Sam. Sorry. Can't do it. And dude! We don't want to miss out on Janiel and Russo's books when they get published, right?

If I were to wax philosophical, and I often do, I'd say the End-That-Wasn't is a sign that there's still plenty of Gnomes out there who need slaying. Plenty of good still left to be done in the world. Just a thought.

How about you guys? What are some things you're looking forward to, or perhaps some Gnomes you'd like to take on, now that we know life is going to march on just as before?

Friday, May 20, 2011

This Is Totally Scary, Guys.

Oh. My. Gosh.
You guys. You GUYS!

I think my husband is stalking me.

I think he is totally reading this blog and, like, stalking me. Remember our February Challenge of the Month this year, "Dear Saint Valentine: Shut Up"? WELL, check this out. And I quote:

"I've survived a lot. I'm pretty sure the boy with the crush (meaning my husband) needs to get me a twenty pound box of Mrs. S's chocolates and a trip to Ireland this year. For his Valentine gift? He can come with me if he'd like. I might even kiss him."

Dudes. Are you ready for this? The boy with the crush took me to Ireland 2 weeks ago! I am not even joking. If that isn't evidence that I am being stalked, I don't know what is. And I've gotta tell you, I am completely freaked out. I mean, what else might he do? I've gotta think back about things I've said on here and prepare myself for when he tries to make them happen. I mean, it's possible, right? I'm not irrational here. People totally do things like this in marriage. Why, oh why did I think that nothing like this could ever happen to me? 

How freaky is this? WE'RE IN IRELAND TOGETHER!
Maybe I'm wrong, you know? Maybe he's not stalking me. I mean, maybe he just likes me or something. But wait! No. Today he brought me breakfast in bed . . . JUST BECAUSE!

Ohmyheart, I'm toast. I'm butter on toast. I'm a toasted bagel with a bit of strawberry cream cheese smeared over one half and the other half carefully pressed down so the cream cheese sort of squishes into the center hole. Plus a glass of juice. That's what I am.

Listen. You don't want this to happen to you. Stalking is NOT A LAUGHING MATTER. It hurts. It hurts everyone you love. It hurts deep like a river. Well, you know what I want to say to you, Stalker-Boy? And this comes from the bottom of my heart: You think you can Hit Me Baby One More Time? Well, don't Hold It Against Me, but You're Toxic.You Drive Me Crazy. You're A Womanizer (well, a one-womanizer). You think I'm A Slave For You? 

(Well yeah. You took me to Ireland.)

Ack! See how easy it is to fall?

Oops. I Did It Again.

*sigh* I'll never be free of this.

Learn from me, people. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

No Expectations. Just Joy.

Expectations are interesting things. They are like little pictures in our heads of how things and people are going to be. Sometimes we put so much stock and determination in those pictures (that we created), that the real things can't hope to match them.

My lovely husband took me to Ireland two weeks ago, to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. This was a trip I had been waiting for my entire life. I have a bit of McGuire blood, and have felt the Irish in me since I was a wee tater-tot. I knew I would go someday, and I've had a LOT of time to daydream about it.

Well, I nearly died of shock when the hub told me he had figured out how we could make this trip--financially-speaking-wise--and that I was for really reals going to the Emerald Isle. I took off like a Tasmanian devil, planning and plotting and packing and purchasing. And before I knew it we were jetting across the Atlantic, in a reverse (temporary) immigration.

We got there, spent two great days in Dublin, then headed out to the west coast. Which was what I had truly been waiting for. This was where the real Ireland was going to begin. It was going to be green and quaint and perfect. There would be music every night floating on fairies outside my windows, and we'd be "Top o' the morning"-ed and "May the road rise up to meet you"-ed every few minutes.

I imagined that each town would be teeming with ruins and dolmens, druids and harpists, shamrocks and Colin Farrell. I would dance in pubs and sing on cliffs and the luck o' the Irish would be with me.

And it was. It did. Everything was pretty much just like this.

Except I couldn't see it. Not for a while. I spent the first few hours in each town we visited fighting down disappointment. Trying to match what I had imagined with what was before me, and finding it all wanting. And I was mad.

Excuse me? This place had disappointed me. This place wasn't performing up to expectation. This was my dream-vacation! Ireland was supposed to CATER to that! What was it's problem? Nothing was like I had pictured. Some of these towns were *gasp* modern!

Well, eventually I began to realize that my attitude was wrecking our trip--or at least a few of the mornings--and I needed to figure out what the deal was.

After some thought, I realized that the deal was this: I don't get to demand that anything or anyone perform or behave the way I dictate they do. I don't get to make up a story and then hold someone or something else responsible, or worse, captive to it.

Instead what I get to do is pause for a moment and learn what something or someone has to offer--all on it's own. I mean, really see it. And then appreciate them for it. Once I realized this, I began doing it. Which set Ireland, and myself, free. (Also my husband. Who was relieved of his resident trip-harpy.)

And guess what? Ireland was awesome. Much better than anything I had dreamed up. Much more beautiful. And deeper, quieter, funnier, happier, more tragic, harder-working, boot-strappy, musical, and utterly, completely wonderful.


Bet it's like that with people, too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Race for the cure & race toward your dream

When chasing a dream there is but one rule- Go big or go home. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there for what you believe in. Let me give you an example.

*Embarrassing moment alert

Most people participate in an event like Race for the Cure with zero drama. They simply walk. Me? Well, I have to make an idiot of myself.

Sure, I walked with my mom, who's a cancer survivior, 13 years. We even had a tender moment. She placed her warm hand in mine and said, "I am grateful to be here with you."

I smiled at her, noticing the pure happiness in her smile. And then I tripped over a rock and tumbled to the concrete. And not in a graceful way, mind you. I scrapped my cheek and looked like a thug the rest of the day.

After my cringe worthy moment, I turned around to find my best friend, Jameses in the crowd. Of course, I'm hanging with the bloke in a pink tutu.

Jameses scuttles on up to me and is laughing his tookus off. He throws his arm around my shoulder and whispers, "You really get into your causes, baby-girl."

I stare at him blankly as he gestures down to collar bone and snickers.

Apparently, I raced for the cure with my left boob hanging out of my shirt.

Yep, go big or go home.

Monday, May 9, 2011

To Do's & To Done's

1. I celebrated Mother's Day by seeing Thor with my mom on Saturday. Not bad. I also watched part of Almighty Thor on SyFy channel. Not so much.

The movie - talking about Thor here, not the shameless SyFy version - sure made my inner little mythology nerd happy, even if my inner little horse nerd wishes that Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged battle steed, had gotten more than a cameo.

2. I'm starting to notice a pattern in my blog posts, in that most of them qualify for the "adventures in geekdom" tag. Hmm . . .

3. On Wednesday, I realized I made a wrong turn in the plotting of my book. Soon after this realization, I vented my feelings to Janiel and Russo in a Facebook message that may or may not have contained a few bad words.

The good news is, fixing this wrong turn will solve a problem further on down the road that I knew was coming but didn't have the answer to until now. The bad news is, I have to cut two chapters that I rather like. Since I can't quite make myself murder these darlings, I've set them aside for now in hopes they'll come in handy later.

4. Elana Johnson did a great post this week on getting out of your own way. Holy blinking firebugs (Batman), do I ever have a problem with this, in writing and in life. Coincidentally, our friend sleye1 linked to a nifty little article about how The Beatles applied this very principle.

5. Here's my favorite thing of the week. A friend of mine who lives in China took this picture of a revolutionary in a Shanghai park (shared with permission).

Dude is writing poetry on the asphalt with water. It's hard to articulate exactly why I love this so much. Maybe because it shows the power of words, for good or bad. Once they're out there, they're out there forever. All it takes is just one person to read them, even if they're as fleeting as water evaporated by the sun. Thanks for this, Tom and Zoe :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

There, But For The Grace of God, Go I . . .

This is supposed to be me, contemplating life's questions. Yeah.

May's Challenge of the Month ("Mayday!") was meant to spark us into writing about funny, goofy, and/or unusual moments of desperation in our lives. The events of the past week, however, seem to have made us all pensive instead. In fact, one of our friends and critique-group partners, Maleah Warner, wrote a very thought-provoking piece about how her husband was supposed to have been in the World Trade Center on 9/11. (You can read it here.)

This got me thinking about near-misses. And as I did a personal inventory, I realized that I have had an inordinately large number of them. Enough to make me grateful for guardian angels. (And possibly enough to make me wonder why I need so much guardian angel-ing. A dork-gene, perhaps?)

Here are just a few:

1) It was 1:00 in the morning, right after Sadie Hawkins and we were driving home. My friend's date was behind the wheel and we were heading down a winding hill when a car that had looked like it was in the other lane (an optical illusion created by the bend in the road) turned out to be in ours. It was headed straight for as at super-sonic speed. I remember seeing the oncoming headlight in front of me, and it looked the size of a dinner plate. Which means it was VERY close. There was no time to react. We all sat there frozen, waiting for impact.
Then, all of a sudden, we were in the next lane. We didn't swerve, our driver didn't over-correct, or even have to correct, we were just in the other lane. The dude trying to kill us was so close that the air between the cars whistled as he went past, and when we turned to look, he was at the top of the hill. No idea how he didn't hit us, or why we didn't roll.

2) I was on the freeway with my husband and kids coming home from a friend's house at 11:00 at night. We were being followed by another friend and their family. All of a sudden a car from the southbound lanes ripped across the barrow-pit (which was a trick) and was right in front of us cutting across the lanes. I remember my hub slamming on the brakes but knowing we were going to hit the other vehicle. The oncoming car threw a ton of dirt and rocks up from the pit onto our windshield, cracking it and blinding us. We braced for an impact that never came. The kid cut across all three lanes without hitting anyone (and there was post-basketball game traffic out there), rolled, then came to a stop. The driver was okay. We were okay, except for the windshield--in which there was a huge cracked  hole right about level with my head.  Here's the kicker: the kid was too close for us to avoid him. My side of the car was dead-set to hit him. Yet we didn't. AND our friends who were driving behind us swore the kid drove BETWEEN our two cars. Between. They saw him. But I can tell you, he did not drive between us. He was in front of us, hence the destruction of our windshield. But the first thing my friend said when we stopped was, "Did you see him shoot between us like that?" And to make it weirder, you could see where our skid marks crossed his on the freeway for like 2 months afterward.

3) I was on stage during practice for a high school play I was in, listening to the director give us notes. All of a sudden I got this overwhelming urge to move about 10 feet away, diagonal to where I'd been standing. So I did. As soon as I got there, the 700 pound light tree behind me crashed to the ground. If I hadn't moved it would have cleaved me in two. Dude.

Yeah. Gives me shivers just remembering it all. And there are many more stories where those come from. I've been spared a lot. But there has also been plenty that I've not been spared. Ultimately I've learned a ton from the narsty stuff. I don't know why things happen to some people and not others. But I do believe everyone has things they are spared and things they are not spared. And I'm a big believer that there is something to learn from every experience. I'll tell you one thing: I am grateful I'm still here.

How about you? What have your near misses been, and what are your thoughts on them?

Monday, May 2, 2011

This Ain't Oz

Our theme for this month's challenge is Mayday, as in the international distress signal. I had planned to do a silly, somewhat smart-alecky post, but I can't stop thinking about all the people in the southern United States who are suffering as a result of Thursday's string of tornadoes.

I have a friend in Alabama. One of the twisters touched down just a mile and a half from where he lives. Luckily, his house was undamaged, but there are plenty who didn't fare as well. Over 300 people have died in what's being called the second deadliest day of twisters in U.S. history. Many more are hurt and/or homeless. We can all answer the distress call by making a donation to the American Red Cross. Every little bit helps.