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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Famous people who were told they wouldn't succeed

Some of the very best dreamers have been told they will never achieve their dream. According to US Weekly, Lea Michele from Glee was told "You're not pretty enough. Get a nose job."

Have you been told you cannot achieve what you desire? Well, you are in good company.

Salma Hayek was harshly informed that "she should go back to Mexico, settle down and have kids."

Where would these people be if they listened to the naysayers? My friends, you have an incredible amount of talent. I am in awe of every single one of you. You can do whatever you set your mind to, sounds cliche but it's true.

And if you need one more example of this look to January Jones of Mad Men. She was told by her boyfriend "I don't think you're going to be good at this."

Let me say, you CAN do this. Your dream is waiting for you. Keep working, keep growing. We're behind you all the way.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Another Manic Monday

Are you ready for a random link round-up? Good, because that's what I got. First off, I read an article this week about a Utah judge who's been assigning book reports as part of some sentences:

"He hopes reading Les Miserables and other unconventional orders help people understand not all is lost because they have committed a crime. He uses them most often for first-time offenders - especially those who seem to have given up hope."

Reading as punishment? Sign me up! If I ever get arrested (knock on wood), I hope this guy is the one who doles out my sentence. I've been meaning to read Les Miserables anyway.

In other news, you probably heard this already, unless you've been living under a rock. But I'm still gonna talk about it. She's baaaaaack! J.K. Rowling announced that she'll publish her next book, this time for adults. No title, no release date, no description, no problem. Once again, sign me up!

In other, other news, have I ever mentioned that I love Snow Patrol? Because I do. If you're not familiar with them, check out some of my favorite songs of theirs here, here, and here. Lead singer Gary Lightbody gave me more reason to love them when he posted this on his tumblr on Friday. Here's hoping they can secure a spot on the next movie's soundtrack.

And in final, other news, did any of you watch the Oscars last night? I didn't. I used to get really into that stuff, but I've gotten kind of bored with it all the past few years. Did I miss anything good this time around?

Happy Monday everybody! Sending you all good vibes for the coming week.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How bad do you want your dream?

My friends, I don't know about you but the road to your dream can be a crazy-thrilling ride. One minute you are on a high from a well-deserved victory and the next, you are questioning every move you make.

It's official, going for dream means a sacrifice, whether that be a sacrifice of sleep, TV or etc. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your routine. You have to step into the unknown.

The other day I went to nab some sushi with Jameses, we tried everything from eel rolls (Yep, you read this right, eel) to an insanely good sweet potato roll. For some reason I was having a stressful morning. I vented about everything from lack of sleep, my latest college course and the novel that just won't leave me alone.

Jameses listened patiently. Sure, he stuffed his mouth with food while I rambled on and on but he listened nonetheless.

After five minutes, he stared me straight in the eye and he said, "How bad do you want your dream?"

I stopped my venting and nervously fidgeted with my silver chunky retro necklace. "Badly, why?"

He took a sip of lemon water, nearly chocked on a seed and said, "Stress means squat. Not when you want something bad enough."

His sentence has been on my mind all weekend. There are certain demands on your shoulders when you go for heart's desire. We all feel the stress of our dream but as Jameses said, the stress is nothing. Not when your hunger outweighs the demands. Focus on that thought because a beautiful life is around the bend.

Monday, February 20, 2012

In Which I Am a Geek. Again.

My friend lent me her books.
And now I have to give them back.
Sigh. 
So, this past month I finally joined most of the rest of Western civilization and read the Hunger Games series. I know. But better late than never, right? And oh my gosh YES! I totally get it now. I got sucked in like everybody else. Even though some parts were tough to read (those last 50 pages of Mockingjay just about did me in), I just had to know what happened next. Even though Katniss Everdeen was kind of a jerk sometimes, man, she was so cool! She made me want to run out and take some archery lessons. Plus, she quite literally saves the cat before the end. That right there was enough to make me root for her. Speaking of the end, well. I'm usually not an emotional person, but the ending was enough to make my little heart go *gulp* (For the record, I'm Team Peeta all the way.)

I'm kind of glad I waited this long to read them, though. Now I only have to wait a month until the movie comes out. Hold on. I still have to wait a whole month until the movie comes out?? What am I going to do with myself? I guess I could read the books again . . .

This has got me wondering, and not for the first time. Why do certain stories grab so many people? What is it about Harry Potter, Twilight, the Hunger Games, etc. that makes them pop culture phenomenons? The authors couldn't have known how popular these books would be when they were first writing them. Maybe there isn't one answer. Obviously YA literature is in the midst of an explosion as big as the one that [SPOILER ALERT] took out District 12. And love triangles are kind of a thing right now. The Hunger Games are also an eerie mirror to our current situation in the real world, what with our reality TV obsession and the wars in the Middle East. Thoughts, anyone?

In other news, writing has recently become fun for me again. For awhile there, it really wasn't. At all. It had become quite a bothersome Gnome. But now I'm  back and working on The Book, so, yay!

But seriously, what am I going to do until March 23rd?! How will I ever pass the time? Oh, look! A pretty song from the movie soundtrack:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dear Contests. I HATE YOU. Unless I win.


Why WHY do I enter contests? I never win. And if it is a writing contest? Ack. I get all excited, right? My hands shake. I write my little entry with imaginings dancing through my self-esteem of maybe possibly winning this time. It could happen right? I'm a good writer, right? Yes. Yes I am. It could happen. It WILL happen. In fact, when I win, this is what I shall do with the prize money: 


I shall go on a vacation. Where I'll finish my book. And then I'll query and find an agent. And they'll love me and find me a publisher. Instantly. And then I'll become a best seller (well I won't. My book will) and JK Rowling and I will become pals and do lunch at that little coffe shop where she wrote The Philospher's Stone on that one napkin. And we'll laugh about it and about how naive we were when we were first starting out and can you believe how our lives have changed? And my goodness it's just too too that Oprah is no longer on TV because what a josh it would be to do an interview together, the two of us. I mean wouldn't it be just--


Then I catch a glimpse of my little contest entry sitting up there like the forgotten hippy-dippy half-cousin at a reunion trying to elbow her way through the more refined and legitimate family members to the front of the buffet line. Family members who did not completely lose perspective on their offering because they had read it too many times. And I notice that my writing is wearing Birkenstocks while everyone else's sports Louboutins. Oy. Please let no one who counts in the publishing industry happen by, because then my career will be swirling in the toi-toi for good and Oprah will never interview me with JK.


I wish my brain wouldn't get all histrionic like that. It's exhausting. Especially since it just made me post the following poem (non-original) on Kiersten White's blog in an effort to win an ARC for her upcoming trilogy-ender, Endless:


They met on the bridge at midnight,
Their lips were all a'quiver.
He gave a cough
Her legs fell off
And floated down the river.


BAAAAHahahahaha!


*ahem* I did not win. In fact, my entry never made it into the comments section. Like, it never showed up. How weird is that? Maybe I offended Ms. White. I was just trying to be, you know, witty! Different from the rest! I . . . I . . . *whimper*


And this is why I hate contests. Because my brain freaks out. Goes from paroxysms of imaginary delight to doom and gloom in a matter of seconds. As if my proverbial gnome-of-despair, Darkspume, has clamped himself onto my brainstem and won't get off. Silly thing.


I guess there's some small consolation in all of this. I don't know what it is yet, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this (original) poem, because, Darkspume or not, I never really do give up. And besides, I'm looking for another contest to enter.


I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as my knee
In breadth and width and symmetry
There is no better part of me.
Except perhaps my brainy head
Without which I would soon be dead.
Good heavens, all my sense has fled!
I think it's time I go to bed.


What? I win? I knew It!



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Frustration nudges you closer to your dream

My friends, chasing a dream can be exhausting. Sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have horrid moments. It's all a part of the struggle to achieve your hearts desire.

I hate admitting this but today was a bad day. You know the kind where you are so frustrated you just push aside the computer, put your head down on the table and try not to cry. I almost texted Janiel and Maegan because they are great in a time of story angst. However, my cat Lux vomited on my brand new plaid chucks so I was otherwise preoccupied, blasted cat.

I am slowly learning that the moments where you get overwhelmed by the demands on your shoulders is when a breakthrough is around the corner.

Yes, there are going to be days of struggle but accept the moments of frustration. They push you to work harder. The feeling of being overwhelmed nudges you closer to your dream and that is something beautiful.

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Adventures in Dating

In honor of Valentine's Day, I give you a true story from my life. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And the guilty.

Boy: So, are you free on Saturday? There's a concert I'd like to take you to.

Me: Sure! I'd love to.

Boy: Uh, don't you want to know who it is?

Me: Oh, yeah. That might be good to know . . .

Boy: It's Depeche Mode. Do you like them?

Me: I do! I love their new song, Precious.

Boy: Great! I'll pick you up at seven.

--Later that week--

My mom: So where's he taking you?

Me
: We're going to see Depeche Mode.

Mom: No. Way. You get to see Depeche Mode?!? I am so jealous! I wanna meet this guy. I have to meet him.

--Saturday night, around seven--

Doorbell: *ding dong*

Me
: Hi.

Boy: Hi.

Mom: Hi! It's so nice to meet you. You have GREAT taste!

Boy: . . .

Me:  . . .

Crickets: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*

Mom
: I mean, obviously you have great taste in Maegan, but you also have great taste in music!

Boy: . . .

Crickets:
*chirp* *chirp* *chirp*

Me
: Okaylet'sgobyeMom!

Fini.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Dork Dating, and Other Memories

I went into a bar once. I didn't jump on anyone's back or sing "I Like Big Butts," like our resident Russo. But I did get propositioned by a mandoline player. I refused him--one should refuse propositions when one is celebrating one's 25th wedding anniversary with one's husband in a quaint Irish pub and one's husband is sitting there watching--and I was flattered. Like, severely. Until I saw the mandoliner go down the bar and proposition every other woman in the place. 

Yeah. My husband's heart was totally safe.

I also sat on a couch one evening when I was in college and was serenaded by 5 brothers who comprised a brass quintet. Called themselves the Brunson Burners. Or Brothers. I can't remember which. I think I was only on a date with one of them. But all 5 of them were there. I don't know if they were good musicians or not because my eardrums had a panic attack and blew out after the first three notes. I was a foot and a half away from the open bells of the various horns and the boys were trying to impress me. I couldn't hear for a week. Broke up with all of them after that. They were devastated but kept playing. Even went on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. I still can't hear anything above high C. And for the record, when I say they were devastated, I mean like, they weren't.

I'm telling you these things because, oh, I don't know. Maybe because Russo's post on Wednesday got me to reminiscing about funny and/or odd dating/partying experiences. And it made me happy that I don't have to do it anymore. Mandolin-dude notwithstanding.

Speaking of standing, I once watched a nice boy get a bit nervous about the say-goodnight-at-the-door moment with me and start bouncing up and down on his toes. Except he forgot he was standing on the very edge of my porch and there was no railing. He remembered when he bounced right off the thing and almost did a header into the window-well. I did not so much as crack a smile, for I am kind like that. I did laugh, though.

Finally (for now) there was the time before I was engaged to my husband when I decided to demonstrate a complicated dance move for him. So I leapt fluidly into the air, struck a graceful pose, came down lightly on my toes, and on impact blasted him with a not-so-silent gaseous emission. Grace, I tell you! Grace!

He still married me. And he did not let the mandolin player carry me off even though there have been repeat performances of said blast on and off for almost 26 years now. From him. Not me. No I mean it.

Is this too much information? Is it? Well I'll stop then. And I bow in Russo's general direction, for she shall ever be the Grand Poobah of Odd Experiences. She should be knighted for bravery. And charm. Because she survives everything with a smile.

As I did that one time when I went to that party and it was full of hott boys and I was trying so hard to be all cute and impressive that my nerves exploded and they took my lip with them. Like, I suddenly got this EPIC cold sore. Of epic proportions. Took my entire upper lip and half of my nose with it. I looked like Quasi-Lippo, the Hunch Lip of Notre Dame. A.TTrac.Tive. I wanted to die. I could teach you how to do it if you want.

THAT'S what we should do! We should start the 3Gnomes Dating Advice Column! You'd write to us, right? And take our advice? And stuff? Okay then. Post your questions in the comments section. We'll get to them asap. Just as soon as we bail Russo out of jail for telling that police officer that he had a big butt, she could not lie.

(I made that up.)


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I got into a bar scuffle

Before I forget, a good blogging friend, Norma Beishir is celebrating the re-release of her 2008 novel, Chasing the Wind. The gal has talent in spades. I cannot wait to buy the novel on Amazon and thought I would pass along the info to you all.

As you all know, the past few months have left me sick as a dog. I spent December and January in my velvet covers on my round bed hacking up a lung. Thankfully, those days are long gone. I finally feel up to par and as a result, I have gone on quite a partying bender, sans any substances, of course.

It all started with karaoke night and my 2012 mantra-live like this is your last year on Earth.
My friends, this mantra may be the death of me. This weekend I went with Jameses and crew, I wore my black lacy cardigan with leggings and chic motorcycle boots.

I loathe karaoke, I don't see the point in singing off key with strangers making out in the dark corners but hey, this is about doing something new and exciting, right?

Unfortunately, I don't do exciting well. No, catastrophe follows me around every bend. So, nestled in a tiny basement bar, Jameses and crew take turns in karaoking their little hearts out.

I hold my hand sanitizer in my palm and keep staring at this huge 6 foot 6 man who cannot peel his eyes off my friend. This chick is so short I could even throw her across the room but she's a spitfire.

So, this bulky 6 foot 6 man approaches Spitfire Girl. He comes on to my friend, he grabs her arm and yanks her close to him. Spitfire girl pushes him back. There's not a security guard in sight. No one around me knows what to do, they are watching this creepy guy force Spitfire Girl to walk to his side of the bar.

My new motorcycle boots must have inspired me to go crazy on his butt because I run after him and leap on his back. I am still mortified that I did this, I leaped on this humongous man's back and refused to get off until he let her go.

He then throws me off his back like I'm a lil mouse (which is hard to do, I am 6 foot 2). I gash my forearm on loose pipe. I should have walked away after Spitfire Girl was safe but noooo, something inside me snapped and I yelled, "There's no way I am getting hepatitis because you're a creep."

The 6 foot 6 guy just stares at me in surprise. Jameses and crew burst out laughing because I am not freaked out by 6 foot 6 man. Instead I am worried that I am going to get hepatitis. The tension has faded.

The 6 foot 6 man begins laughing. Yep, everyone is laughing-the tears gushing out of their eyes, lungs burning kind of laughing. All because I am a wacked-out-germ-fearing-kind of gal.

Everyone goes back to what they were doing. For the next hour, I got ribbed for jumping on a humongus man's back. I can't stop smiling and laughing. The only way to get them to shut up is to do the thing I loathe most-sing karaoke.

I walk up to the stage, gulp down the fear and grab the microphone. I tap my black boots against the floor and sing along with Sir Mix-A-Lot, "I like big butts and I cannot lie . . . "

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Snowman's Heart

February Challenge: Valentine's Day Short Fiction

She was four the first time she built him. Her dad helped her place big, round buttons in a neat column down his front. They gave him dead branches for arms and tucked two flat, black rocks from the river beneath him for feet. Dad took a red apple from his coat and sliced it in two with a pocketknife. He helped the girl set one half into the snowman's chest, just left of the buttons. Then he lifted her up so she could twist two ends of a cucumber onto the snowman's face - green eyes, just like hers - and a smile of raisins.

"Wait," she said in her tiny voice before Dad could set her down. She loosened her scarf, yanking the ends of it from inside her coat and wound it around the snowman's neck, tying a fumbly child's knot at his throat. As her feet touched the ground again, she smiled up at her work. The scarf was bright pink and flowery, but the snowman didn't mind. He was just happy to be there.

The following winter, she stretched an old ski cap over his head and gave him some gloves to keep his fingers warm as he stood guard in front of her house. And there was a new scarf, deep blue and gray. When she was sure her father and brothers weren't looking, she stood on her tip-toes and whispered into the snowman's seashell ear, "I picked it out. I hope you like blue."

Friday, February 3, 2012

OohRah Goes My Heart

February Challenge of the Month: A Little Love Story. 

Never tell your girlfriend what you do for a living. Especially if it’s something dangerous like working explosives for the U.S. Marines.  Can you say “Constant shrieking, whining, and nagging?” Like, what? I’m going to die or something? Not likely.

Okay, I didn’t actually tell her. She found out herself. I don’t know what I was thinking with this relationship. Kiarra came to me one night when I was working on some ordinance in a field at the Marine training facility on the coast. It was dangerous. She shouldn’t have been out there. In fact, I don’t know how she got around the dogs and electrical fence, not to mention the guards. But there she was, wandering through the field, picking her way around the pot-holes left behind by other trainees when they clipped the wrong wire. Sorry scumbags. I am the best. Nothing can touch me.

But it could touch her. I sort of freaked out when I saw her standing there looking at me, with her long pale hair blowing like there was a gale coming off the ocean. And there wasn’t.

I’d never seen anyone like her. And I had no idea what to do with this chick standing there in her nightie (“it’s a shift, not a nightgown!”) staring at me, hair blowing, eyes so blue they glowed like neon Freon in the moonlight. I had my hands all down in the wiring, so it wasn’t like I could cuff her, take her back to base, and let the Master Gunny deal with her.

Besides. She looked a little crazy.

Her eyes were red around the edges like she’d been crying. She stared at me, chin trembling. Then she whispered, “You’re dead.”

Well. If that ain’t a turn on, I don’t know what is.

Kiarra wasn’t threatening me. I knew that. I am the size of a giant redwood compared with her. And I am a master of my trade. Strong as an ox, able to leap tall buildings, that sort of thing. Naw. Nothing dangerous. Just your run-of-the-mill whackadoodle-doo that wanders onto the United States Marine Corps' Special Ordinance Disposal Training Grounds in the middle of the night, wearing a blowing nightgown and looking all hot.

I talked with her. She was majorly stressed. Been through some tough stuff. Seen a lot of people bite the big one in her life. Can’t imagine a life like that. I’m not the most feeling kind of guy, but I did my best. Told her if I die its all right by me. That calmed her down. But, I added, I’m the best the Marine’s have got. Nothing takes me out. Nothing.

She smiled and went all female and melty on me just as I snipped the last wire and diffused my little warhead.  Kiarra reached out and began to drift toward me when she tripped on a clod of dirt and fell straight into the hole next to me. I tried to leap up to catch her, but my left leg fell off. Totally stinks, man. It usually doesn’t come off until after one or two explosions.

I sort of crawled across the dirt with my other leg and my one good arm, though, and got to her pretty okay. She cried. I comforted. I do know how to do that. Then she lifted her blood red lips and gave me a thank you kiss. I kissed her back. It was all right. My lips even managed to stay attached.

So yeah. Kiarra’s my girlfriend now. And it works. She still cries a lot, but what’s a banshee going to do when her boyfriend is a zombie? Girl's gotta shriek.

But I’m happy. I’ve got a great job, and a great gal. Valentine’s Day is coming up. This year, I think I’ll give her my heart.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Valentine's Story

February Challenge of the Month: A Valentine's Short Story

Warning: This story might just be true but I'll never say for sure

My ex-boyfriend used to call me his hood-girl. I loathed the phrase. Every time he uttered the words I was reminded of my lot in life, which must be why he didn't last long. No one wants to be reminded of what is lacking in their lives.

Whether the ex stuck around or not, he had a point. You cannot escape your past. I am and always will be the daughter of a loon. My parents divorced when I was eight. As a teenager, my father would pick me and brother's up for dinner. I always wanted to go to Denny's to see the hott server. Instead, my father would cook up a vat of SpagettiO's and we would eat in the parking lot of Albertson's. The chill of the snow was nothing compared to the chill in his station wagon.

I am what the ex said, a hood-girl.

There is a certain pride that comes when dealing with poverty. The more you struggle, the more you gain in confidence. You know that the worst will never faze you because the worst has already happened. And so, you venture out in the world ready for anything.

I can handle gunfire and death threats. I can even handle the hunger of wanting something more but I cannot handle him-- Zack. The obnoxiously hot guy who lives on the hill. His mansion is nestled between two large oak trees that have been around almost as much as his families money.

Zack wakes up in the morning and gazes out the window only to see a man-made waterfall and hundreds of tulips planted by his gardener. I wake up to the scenery of a brick wall and green trash cans. Our daily panorama is completely different but that doesn't matter. When we are together all we see is each other.

Every year we struggle with the same debate-how to handle Valentine's Day.

Zack was raised where the man brings flowers to their lover. I was raised where flowers are what you lay on the caskets of the dead.

A fancy dinner dance is out of the question because he can jig-it-out to all sorts of complicated dances, I cannot. I accidentally stamp on his feet with no rhythm whatsoever.

And so, we are caught in the middle of a tug of war between the privileged and the poor. Neither of us can understand the other. I am completely okay with not celebrating Valentine's day but Zack won't have it. Every year his family hosts a massive soiree at his mansion. After a week of constant debating, I nearly give up on the bloke. Strangely, Cupid throws a miracle our way. Zack begins to see the world through my eyes.

Valentine's Day could have been a nightmare but he saw things differently. He picked me up in his Cadillac. I tugged at my navy blue boots, wishing they were Prada, not Payless. I am nervous as all get up, until I see the pot of beef ravioli sitting between us. We pull into the local market, I smile up at him, realizing he has sacrificed more than his dignity to sit here with me.

The passerby's walk swiftly to get their groceries. They don't even notice us through the tinted windows. This is what I am used to, this is my world.

Zack hands me plate and dishes out a serving of ravioli. He smiles in a sexily sly sort of way and says, "I got you flowers and you didn't even know it."

"I don't smell any flowers," I said.

Zack ran his hands through his long brown hair, "They are in the ravioli-rose hip sauce, a family recipe."

There are no words to say as I munched on the divine dinner. We come from two different worlds, his Sunday dinner's are a formal affair. Mine are spent hoping that my drug addict Uncle doesn't burp mid-prayer.

I guess you can mesh two different worlds together.

I learned a valuable lesson that night with Zack. Your history doesn't define you. It mold's you into the person you are today. Cherish your past, so that you can cherish others.