Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My adventure into the world of gymnastics

When I was young I wanted to be a gymnast but that task is hard to achieve when you're 6'2. This weekend I got my wish. I went with my niece to her Halloween festival at the gym.

I could've been like every other adult who refused to jump on the trampoline but where's the fun in that?

My goal was simple; show my niece I was into her gymnastic dream. Everything she did, I followed suit. If she walked across the balance beam than I did the same. I might’ve been nervous but I’d have to summon the courage. She wanted me to be a full participant and I wouldn't disappoint.

As a result, I bonked my head on the balance beam. Seriously, who invented the balance beam? Because I wanna smack 'em. On top of that, I banged into the wall after trying the vault Plus, I got stuck in the foam filled pit.

The highlight of the night though was when I simply walked onto the floor exercise pad. I had no idea the floor was so bouncy. The minute I hopped on the floor I fell right off. I know I'm klutzy but couldn't even walk on the padding.

My niece couldn't stop laughing and I couldn't either because I had finally experienced a day in the life of a gymnast. Man, its hard stuff. Sure, I got to do a flip on the trampoline but I also had bruises galore.

 The whole night made me think about our dreams. No matter how many times we fall off or hurt ourselves we have to get up. On top of that, we have to enjoy life. Forget about looking like an idiot just go for your dream.




Friday, October 26, 2012

The Titleless Post Without a Title.

You know what I wish I'd named this post? "Maegan Langer and the Butt Crack of Doom."

Yep. I think that pretty much wins the POST TITLE OF THE YEAR award. Along with all of Russo's that begin with: "I Embarrassed Myself..."

There is, I have discovered, an art to titling things. "Butt Crack of Doom" is far more interesting and evocative than, say, "My Friend And I totally Screamed at a Haunted House." Or "Going Through Big Spongey Things That Remind Me Of Unmentionable Body Parts that My Mom Would Be Horrified If She Knew I Said Them On My Blog. Wait. That's Janiel's Mom. My Mom Would Think It Was Funny. Never Mind."

Yeah. Much better.

And frankly, anything with the words "Panic Attack," "Hair Extensions," "Vomit," or "Ex-Boyfriend" in the title is an automatic viral post. Because who doesn't want to read about those things? Happening to someone else? Like Russo?

You've definitely got to think about marketing, brand appeal, and shock value when you name something, otherwise people will simply not be hooked, and won't come back for more. It's something Maegan and Russo do brilliantly, and that I am desperate for.

Which is why I've done exhaustive research. And have managed, through said research, to accurately predict, within a margin of about .03xy, the titles of my two pals' most successful future blog posts. I have done so using an algorithm based upon the anatomy of their past post titles. And since you're all my best friend, I'm going to share it with you:

The Algorithm of Maegan And Russo's Past Post Titles:
Z over 5, where Z represents Maegs' and Russe's least boring titles and 5 represents...er...5, multiplied by the number of modifiers they've dangled, divided by the number of letters in their names, and squared to the power of frozen yogurt. With mochi.

Using this modicum of mathematical magic I have discovered not only the titles my gnomies will use in the future, but those which will be wildly successful and lead to major book deals with minor publishers. And because I'm nice this way, I'm going to share them with you. Who knows? Maybe you can use them to get a publishing deal yourself.

Voilá, The List of Future Blockbuster Titles. Copy at will:
  • In Which The Welsh Date a Girl Who Guides Cats
  • Prometheus: On Mars Nobody Can Hear Your Daddy
  • My Hair Extensions Kicked Ballet In A Burger Joint
  • A Gigantic Branch In a Skunk Frazzled by Judy Garland
  • Ylddffyffdyd Sllrpprpdyy Fwy llr Bob.
  • Emma Frost's Devil Raven Posterity
  • Katie Laurie Perry Anne Maria Gibson Sharipova Vomit
  • Ugg Roadblock Alert

And there you have it. I'm exhausted.


I kind of feel like I deserve a Pulitzer.

Or at least a title.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Don't listen to the naysayers- chase your dream

There are going to be a lot of variables when chasing your dream. One minute you're flying high from a victory and the next you experience the blow of failure. To seize your dream you're going to have to find your way through the devastating moments. You can't give up and you can't give in, so what do you do?

You flip the script. Granted, this is a sports term but it still has meaning in your life. Maybe you have been told that you're not smart enough, dedicated enough or you just don't have the chops to chase your dream. Don't listen to the naysayers, instead flip the script.

Work your toukus off so that the naysayers can be left in the dust. Keep going, keep moving.

You're talented beyond measure, my friends and you deserve your dream. I'm rooting you on all the way.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Maegan Langer and the Butt-Crack of DOOM

I love Halloween. I love the atmosphere, the cheesy decorations, the songs from the Lost Boys soundtrack on the radio, the fall colors, the parade of (sometimes very bad) scary movies on TV, and of course, the candy. One thing I do not get excited about, however, is the endless supply of haunted houses. I think this stems from an experience I had at the Utah State Fair when I was twelve. My friend and I decided to brave the resident haunted house, and as is so often the case when you get two or more twelve-year-old girls together, stupid stuff happens.

We're making our way through the dark, narrow, rickety halls (remember, this is state fair-quality stuff), emitting occasional squeals. I was probably clinging to my friend's sweatshirt, when a dude wearing a hockey mask in a dark corner lets his (de-chained) chainsaw rip. This scares us so bad, we fall over in one screaming, giggling, clutching mass of twelve-year-old girl nerves. At least I think I was giggling, until I feel my head smack against the aluminum floor.

Our friend the Jason impersonator immediately kills (HA! pun intended) the chainsaw. My friend and I untangle ourselves and flail around in the dark until we're both standing again. This is when I notice Jason is suddenly very close to me. Still wearing the hockey mask, he calmly says, "Are you okay? Did you hurt your head?" I manage a whimpery "No" (which is true) and allow my friend to drag me out the exit - luckily not far from the scene of the crime.

Looking back on it now, I guess I should be proud. How many people can say they got Jason Voorhees to break the fourth wall out of concern? Plus, this was a moment of epic clumsiness that would give Russo a run for her money. Even so, I'm still no great fan of haunted houses. It's about the anticipation, the knowing that any moment, something is going to jump out and startle me.

That said, I braved not one but two houses of scares this weekend. The first one had a "zombie apocalypse" theme. Yes, there was fake blood everywhere and plastic body parts and giant cockroaches and people writhing around on the floor and a guy in an electric chair and kids in psychedelic, 3-D clown make-up (she told me I smelled like cotton candy). But the most disconcerting thing for me was something my friend Diana (a true haunted house aficionado if ever there was one) calls the "Butt-Crack of DOOM": a dark passage made of two giant, inflatable canvas bags that you have to push your way through. Claustrophobics, beware.

The second place was a haunted pioneer village. It was more atmospheric than truly scary. The headless horseman (who turned out to be not-so-headless) was a nice touch. Still, the anticipation was so stressful I made Diana hold my hand for most of it. I'm convinced this is the only reason I survived the giant spider that literally flew down on us as we escaped an old barn. I swear it looked just like THIS.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Moment of Peace

Please Press the Play Button

(Okay, this is Irish music and this post is all about Canada. We all have ancestors from everywhere, right? Just let it flow through you, babes. Its internationalness will speak to your soul.)

Now Gaze:
(Peggy's Cove Lighthouse - Nova Scotia)

(Peggy's Cover proper - Nova Scotia)
(Population 35-42. Sometimes.)

Lust After:
(Halifaxian Boots That I Could Not Afford. Weep!)

(Wicked delicious fare at The Bicycle Thief restaurant, Halifax, N.S. Yep. That's pistachio salmon and pretty potatoes. There were shawls on the chairs in case the wind from the bay froze your toes. I heart that.)

Now Sigh:

This moment of peace brought to you by the Gnome-Butt-Kicking Gnomeslayer, Janiel (and her equally Tush-Tromping Huz, Bruce.) Yeah. It's all about the Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia. You want peace? That's where you go. It's where we go'ed, the huz and I. In August. We each needed to remember what the other looked like, so I used some miles to join my boy on a business trip. And it was heaven. 

Can you tell?

Where do you go for peace?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An embarrassing run in with my ex-boyfriend

This weekend I've been dealing with some major dental surgery. As a result, I was drugged out of my mind on Lortab. I also happened to bump into my ex at the grocery story. Sadly, the Lortab is gone but the humiliation of what transpired next is still there.

Seriously, who wants to see their former flame while hyped up on Lortab? So, I did what any drugged person in pain would do-I went into hide mode.

I grabbed my friend Jameses and ducked into the Halloween section. I nabbed a pink wig ala Lady Gaga and ducked and turned around every corner. My ex went to the meat department. I ducked into the produce section. All the while my friend, Jameses kept shopping.

He nabbed some bananas and I did my best to stay out of sight, which is pretty hard when you're 6'2. Of course, I'm in spaz-mode so I didn't realize what Jameses is doing. I accidently barrel into my friend while he's holding some bananas. At that moment, I'm covered with smashed bananas. Not to mention, I'm wearing a pig wig.

Yep, nothing says I've gotten over you like a pink wig and smeared banana on your shirt.

To make matters worse, he sees me. We share in this awkward moment of the past colliding with the present. I haven't seen this guy for a decade and this is the moment we happen to meet again. I tell you what, life is tricky but it's also a rush, isn't it?

Monday, October 15, 2012

On Maggie Stiefvater and Shutting the Full Cup

Last week was momentous for me. I got to meet my favorite author not once, but twice. Maggie Stiefvater finally made it to Utah for her RAVEN BOYS tour. She did two signings and I went to both.  (I like to think of myself as a polite stalker.) A friend of mine was kind enough to snap this pic of us. Maggie was funny and charming and gracious and if I can write books that are half as enjoyable to read, I will die a happy woman. I can't wait to crack open my signed and doodled-in (she's also an artist) copy of THE RAVEN BOYS. So yeah, good times.

This is me trying not to squee.

And now for something that has absolutely nothing to do with Maggie Stiefvater, other than it's also really funny. Since this is my blog - or at least I share one-third custody - I can post things for no better reason other than they make me laugh. Enjoy and happy Mondays all around!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Lesson in Gnome Slaying

Look. What we've been trying to say for the past two years is this: When you've got a particularly troublesome gnome bothering you---the gnome of fear, the gnome of despair, the gnome of bad karma, whatever it may be---if you want to get rid of it, nay, to slay it, you must first identify it:

Then determine a course of action and mode of attack:

Then bite it's freaggin' head off.

Problem solved.

You're welcome.

(Gnome cookies courtesy of Food For Thought)
(And they were delish.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I pranked my sister- I'm gonna be a Princess at Disneyland

I have sister that is super anal. She plans for the Holidays a year in advance. Me? I try to take things as they come. I plan but I'm not anal. This week my sister, my niece and I went out for some sushi. My second grader niece loves sushi. Me? I'd rather have a burger but whatever.

Sushi seems like a normal thing but not with my sister. She combines all of her rolls of sushi in a ball and eats it. I'm mesmerized by how she can eat eel and tuna together.

Anyways, mid bite of her tennis ball sized sushi she asked me about my New Year’s resolution. It's only October. Seriously, are you really thinking of New Years right now? So, I did what any sister would do, I gave her crap.

I took a bite of my cream cheese avocado roll and said with all seriousness, "In January I'm quitting writing and I'm going to be a Princess at Disneyland."

My sister doesn't move. She stares at me so long I think that she's gone into a coma.

I start to ramble on and on about my options. I tell her my sister that I have dark hair like Belle and like to read, so that could be a perfect fit.

My niece is utterly rapt with this conversation but my sister is stunned.

So, I continue on with my prank. I take a sip of my lemon water and say, "Alice in Wonderland is out because I'd probably get so fed up with the Mad Hatter that I'd punch him. If all else fails, I have the assets to be Ariel but the sea shells might give me hives. I dunno what do you think?"

My sister hasn't touched her food in five minutes. She can't speak.

However, my niece is so into this conversation. She adjusts her sparkly headband and says with all seriousness, "Aunt Russo, Disneyland can't hire Princesses that are 8 feet tall."

"I'm not 8 feet tall, I'm 6'2," I said, with surprise.

Well, now I'm flabbergasted. I want to prank my sister and my niece has out smarted me.

I don't know what to say to my niece. The prank has died.

My niece continues to outsmart me. She chomps down on her lavender ice cream and says, "If you want you could be Goofy."

My sister starts laughing hysterically at the comment. I just sit there thinking, what age do we let our childhood die? My niece is in the second grade and already she knows that Disney has a height requirement for their costumes. Granted, she probably knows this because my sister is the ultimate buzz kill but c'mon.

My friends, I know there are some things that cannot happen. I would never be a Disney Princess because I haven't the patience for it. Even so, we cannot stop believing in the possibilities of life.

Monday, October 8, 2012

In Which I'm On TV (in Wales)

I was a biology major in college. Even though I like science, it's not my forte. I reached a point in my college career where I needed to do something other than physics, biology, statistics and - shudder - organic chemistry, or I was going to go Bat-Smear Crazy. I decided to give my brain a breather. I took a creative writing class for fun and, on a whim, signed up for Welsh language classes as well. Now, years later, the writing and the Welsh are the things that really stuck.

Every summer, I go to Cymdeithas Madog's week-long Welsh language course. This past July, the course was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. My friend and fellow Welsh geek, Maria, produced two lovely videos of the course. They were featured on the Welsh learners' program, Hwb, but you can see them right here. 

And here's one more, in which we list some of our favorite Welsh words. Are you surprised that mine has to do with books?

If you'd like to see more of Maria's work, including a segment on self-published, New York Times bestselling author, Amanda Hocking, check out Maria's website HERE.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feeling Blue? DON'T GO TO THE E.R.

October Challenge: Fear Factor

Maegs, Russe, and I were eating lunch at a little bake shop last weekend when we discovered a common fear: Bugs. Insects. Spiders. Creepy crawly things. A fear based on sad experience with creatures too disgusting to be allowed. We are not alone. Most women--and my youngest son--would fall right in line with us.

For me the deal was sealed years ago when I walked barefoot into my bedroom after a date. I was just about to plant my foot across the threshold when something told me to STOP. That something was very commanding. So I stopped. Then I reached out, flipped on the light, and looked under my foot where it was just poised to smash to the ground. Right beneath it was a sickeningly GINORMOID brown and hairy wolf spider the size of my palm. GAAAAAAH! I spent an hour and a half trying to vacuum the thing up. It jumped every time I got near it. I screamed. It probably crawled right back out of our Hoover later that night.

Yeah. I have good reason to fear spiders and their ilk.
However, there IS something worse than spiders for me. Worse than snakes. Worse than bats. Worse even than liver. And that thing is: mysterious inexplicable bodily events.

I HATE it when my physical self does some whacked-out medical thing and no one can figure out why. It gives me the gollywobbles. For instance, my eyes will randomly swell shut. No reason at all. A general allergy to the state where I live, apparently. And it takes a week to go away. During that time I feel and look like an alien. Ask my Gnomies. They've been with me for the Attack of the Alien Eyelids on several occasions.

Also, my blood vessels will randomly burst in my fingers and toes. This is probably not good. But no one knows why it happens. Once I was in dress rehearsals for Footloose, dancing away on stage, and the bottom of my foot totally exploded. Had to limp through the rest of the choreography and make it look like that's just how Ren's mom danced.

And childbirth? Baby, don't even get me started (no puns intended.) SO many funky bodily things happen in the course pregnancy and delivery, it ain't remotely funny. Like with my first kid I had to eat a plate of green pimento-stuffed olives every day. Every. Day. I hate green pimento-stuffed olives.

The real problem here is this: unexplained physical things freak me out. And my imagination runs wild and I assume body parts are going to start dropping off and dying from whatever is going on.

Kind of like two days ago. I've been dealing with an elbow injury for the past three weeks. Smashed the living shortcake out of my left funny-bone nerve (which has a name, but not one I know.) I hit that little canal between the radius and ulna so hard that electrical fire blasted down my forearm and out my fingertips for twenty solid minutes. It hasn't been the same since.

So today I see a specialist. But Wednesday night? After my kid's '80's-themed A- Capella concert? I got home and my whole left hand was blue. BLUE. Unmistakably. Freakishly. Thing was clearly not getting oxygen. And I couldn't figure out why. But the nerve in my arm was sending zings down to my hand and pain across my wrist, so I figured something dire was happening.

Long story short, it was 9:00 at night and my doctor's after hours clinic wouldn't see me because I am a new patient. So they told me to go to the Emergency Room. I did not want to go to the E.R. Too expensive. And what were they going to do? Tell me my hand was blue? I can do that. But I went. And they booked me in, hooked me up, and checked me out. Well, my hand anyway.

But they couldn't find anything wrong. Nothing. I learned more about my elbow injury but nothing about my blue hand. They even called my doctor at home. He had nada to say about it either. So the E.R. sent me home telling me I'd live and probably not lose the hand until after I'd seen my doctor today.

Well, I was panicking inside. What the heck could it be? Was my arm going to fall off? Was I going to be paralyzed? Was I going to die from Gangrene? Or rather, Ganblue?

My friends. I finally found the answer. I will not die. And I will, perhaps, work on not freaking out so much in the future. For at some point after my kidlets were in bed I looked down fondly at the new jeans I was wearing. New unwashed jeans. Jeans upon which my sweaty little pre-menopausal hands had been resting for an hour and a half during my son's A Capella concert.


I went to the kitchen sink. I applied soap and water. Five seconds later my skin was nice and pink again. The sink was blue. But my hand was back to normal.


If any of you tell anyone about this, our friendship is over.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Bug's Life

October Challenge: Fear Factor

Full disclosure: This post contains one very disturbing photo. 

There was a time when the Gnomies maintained a regular feature on this blog, the Challenge of the Month, in which we would all write about a common theme. That tradition has lapsed of late. We decided to take a break under the premise that it's healthy to shake things up once in awhile, both in blogging and in life. (Actually, we forgot about the COM for like, three months in a row, and then decided to act like we'd done it on purpose.)

But with our break taken, our writer's brains refreshed (we hope), and the month of Halloween full of possible topics, we decided to once again take up our Challenge of the Month. This time, we're talking about our worst fears.

So here's mine: grasshoppers.

For as long as I can remember, I've been afraid of grasshoppers. My mom is the same way, so maybe it's genetic. Crickets are okay. They're kind of cute. Praying mantises have an elegance about them. They're like the zen masters of the insect world. If Yoda was a bug, he'd be a miniature, wrinkly praying mantis.

Grasshoppers? They're different. In my high school biology class, we dissected earth worms, crayfish, oysters, and frogs. That was all fine and good. I rather enjoyed it, until we got to the grasshoppers. Oh, yes. But they weren't regular grasshoppers. The teacher mentioned these had come from somewhere in Texas. If that was true, Texas was breeding a race of mutant, bio-weaponized super-grasshoppers: brown, rubbery, and big enough to actually see what was going on inside them. Did you know that the ovaries of a female grasshopper take up her entire body cavity? I do, because I saw it, from a distance. My lab partner was a lot braver about doing the actual dissecting. I had to sit on a stool a few feet away, trembling, but I survived.

I thought I'd never have to see a bigger grasshopper, until college, when I went to South Africa. I should have known everything would be bigger in Africa. My class was out for a hike one day and had stopped for a rest, when this thing came crawling across the path:

That's real, folks. She was at least AS BIG AS MY HAND. I say "she" because one of my classmates apparently knew a lot about giant African grasshoppers. According to him, this was a mating pair. The male is the smaller one hitching a ride. This little bit of trivia must have made an impression on me, because I still remember it almost ten years later. I'm still kind of astounded at how calm I was that day. It was like watching a train wreck - I was too fascinated to be scared, although I don't know what I would have done if this happy couple had decided to start hopping around. They probably would've had to airlift me back to Johannesburg.

Sooo, now that I've traumatized you all (or at least myself), what are you afraid of? Feel free to share in the comments.