Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Idiot's Guide to Christmas Gifts

Gift-giving can be tricky during the holidays. First, you have to decide whom to buy for and whom not to buy for without offending either. You buy for someone who didn't buy for you leaves them feeling guilty; you don't buy for someone who buys for you leaves you feeling guilty. 

Drawing names and Secret Santa helps in avoiding this problem, but since I had to roll it like Greece (austere living with a bad attitude) this holiday season, I avoided the whom-to-buy-for conundrum this year by not buying for anyone I don't share DNA with. 

So when I found a gift in my mailbox at work, I was pleasantly surprised and slightly worried. When I saw that the present was from my department heads, I breathed a sigh of relief--as my superiors it was their obligation to buy me a gift in the spirit of morale. 

I took my present back to my classroom, shoved the 150 research papers that I would be grading over my Winter "Break" aside, and immediately opened my festive, cellophane gift bag, drew out the red tissue paper, and unwrapped this: 

My boss had bought me a pygmy pen. Cute. We English teachers can never have enough pens. 

Like all children, I wanted to play with my gift immediately, but I couldn't figure out where the tip of the pen was. I popped off the cap, and like a child whose parents forgot to buy the batteries her new toy needed, felt disappointed.

Well shit, my pen was broken. The tube of ink seemed to be missing. Putting the cap back on, I examined my pen more closely and realized that it didn't seem to be a pen. But what the hell was it?

An eraser? 


I was completely befuddled. But wait, I had seen my friend and colleague, Laura, in the lounge with hers clipped to the collar of her shirt. Walking a few classrooms down the hall, I found her with another colleague working on a state report. Flinging the door open, I held up my mal-factured gift and asked, "What the hell is this?"

I popped off the cap again, "What, is it for? Drugs?" Do my bosses think I do drugs, and if so, are they encouraging me to stay off of them? Do they know that I don't do drugs and are encouraging me to start?

Laura guffawed, cast a side-glance at our colleague, then straightened up and with her widest, most condescending smile said, "A stylus." 

That answer did not help me at all. 

"For your iPad." The district had bought our department iPads a couple months back so we could be more "mobile" when using technology for instruction.

I shrugged and shook my head. 

"So you can keep your screen clean."

Smallest damn screen-cleaner I'd ever seen.

"Now you won't get your dirty fingerprints all over the screen," Laura clarified. "You can use that instead of your finger."

Lightbulb. "Is that what this rubber tip is for?" I said.


I wish I could say that my lapse of intelligence was due to mental exhaustion. I wish I could say that it was due to mentally already being on vacation. I wish I could say it was due to just being mental. But, if you've read my other posts on technology, you know I can't blame it on anything else than the fact that when it comes to anything digital . . . 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why This Blogging Shit Might Be Worth It, Take 2

It was brought to my attention that maybe some of you fellow bloggers may want to know why it is I keep blogging; why this shit seems to be worth it.

I started blogging about 2 1/2 years ago out of necessity. Frustrated by what seemed like hundreds of agent rejections, but knowing that I am publishable, I needed a new approach.

So basically, my ego brought me to the blogosphere.

First, my ego brought me to desperate measure. As I pondered how I was going to seduce an agent and fornicate my way to the publishing house, Jenny Baranick announced that she had found an agent.

Damn her. I mean, I was ecstatic for her.

Because Jenny is much, much more benevolent that I'll ever be, instead of hording her good fortune, she shared her path to it. The key to getting oneself noticed was to blog.  Mindi, the third of our writing group, already had a website, so now it was time for me to get on the social networking train.

I really, really didn't want to.  But, Jenny's benevolence is spiced up with action.  When she decides she is going to do something, she does it. Immediately. When she decided that I should start blogging, she meant for me to do it. Immediately. 

Oh, the whining; oh, the moaning on that first day. What am I supposed to blog about? I write fiction. Novels. Am I supposed to put up excerpts from my novels? I wasn’t sure I could write about writing; I wasn’t sure I had anything to put out there besides the fictional projections of my demented mind.

Jenny said that my blog would develop its identity over time and to just start writing.

Just start writing? Without a plan? Without a plot outline? I thought she was nuts, but I forged ahead based on her faith in my ability to blog.

And here I am--still blogging. Here I am--still without an agent. But then, a blog post evolved into a "creative nonfiction" piece got published in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. “Language of Love” would not existing without this damn blog, so ya, it may have finally gotten me published, but not in the way I originally set out to be.  Still, when a fellow blogger ask for a bit of backstory to encourage everyone else in my boat, I sat back and really thought about it.  

What has blogging done for me?

It has given me the opportunity to experiment

Most of mine have been utter failures.  The "fact or fiction" series did not turn out as I hoped; I find it almost impossible to post any kind of fiction, let alone promote my fiction; and any attempt to host a blogfest to build up my followers has been nothing short of nothing.

The experiment that did work? Writing about teaching. Instead of sharing my teaching adventures via oral tradition, I have begun to blog about them. As much as I like being able to make my friends laugh, there's something glorious about being able to make strangers laugh.  I may not hear the laughter, but I can see it of "hits" a post gets.

Also, blogging about teaching escapades is therapeutic and has probably taken a critical role in keeping me employed. 

Another success would be writing about language; in fact, that's what "Language of Love" (hit the link, yo) is about.  I had been writing and teaching long before I began blogging, so I have always had a curiosity and love of words, but writing about them has deepened the relationship. Instead of them just being tools for me to build fiction, they have become spiritual entities I channel. 

It has helped me find my voice

Jenny Baranick, creator an author of Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares, said that “blogging really helped me find my voice.” 

Ditto, my friend.

For me, the key has been the "my" in "my voice."  I had a voice for my different fictional characters: I knew how to be Corey Malone, Clark Stein, and Brian Little on paper, but I didn't really learn how to be Holly Vance on paper until I began to blog. And even though I am sometimes teacher Holly, cougar Holly, technologically-challenged Holly, each with her own distinct voice, blogging has given me the opportunity to see myself in a new way.

It has redefine my writer persona

I went into blogging a horror and crime thriller novelist.  How I was going to produce anything worth a shit in under 500 words baffled me.  I tried flash fiction, and those posts never left me feeling satisfied. And they are not amongst the frequently viewed.  I have always been funny, but not a humor writer.  I have always been open about my life, but never a memoirist. But in the arena of blogging, I had the opportunity to produce a lot of it and get feedback about it.

Much to my chagrin, I have been told by many that I am a better nonfiction writer than a fiction one, so blogging has also given me a bit of an identity crisis.

It reminds me why I write

As writers trying to get published, what agents and publishers think of our writing is critical, but honestly, don’t writers want the praise of other writers? Maybe those of us running in the same blogging circles aren’t any Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Scott Turow, J.R. Tolkien,  or JK. R0wlings but that doesn’t make any commentary or praise from a less “successful” writer any less valuable. Especially when that praise comes from other bloggers, who don’t ever have to read a word you write or say jack shit about it, just one or two of those every four to five posts is priceless.  It reminds me that I don't write to be rich and famous; I write to be read. I write to entertain and connect--and blogging allows me to do that. 

I've learned a few things no related to writing by blogging as well. 

I learned that a lot of people hate me: the most read post it the Final Destination post where I create several scenarios in which I die a horrible, violent death. And I am very careful to make sure that my students won't stumble across this blog.  Or maybe there's a huge underground cult who worship the Final Destination films and were duped by my title.

I learned that if you try to promote your blog in the public arena of Facebook, every porn site in the universe will "comment" on your blog. 

I learned that agents aren't spending hours online, searching the gazillion blogs looking for a new client. 

Bummer. Guess I better got back to figuring out how to fornicate my way to the publishing house.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lushes, Tweekers, and Nymphos are People Too

Education should benefit not just the  intelligent, the innocent, and the disciplined. It also should serve the stupid, the criminal, and the addicted.

What if that alcoholic serving time for a string of DUIs needs to communicate clearly in a letter to his family which of the prison's inmates is his new bitch and which of the inmates he is the bitch of? That could be critical if someone ends up pregnant.

And if that meth-head who can cook his own stuff without blowing off half of his arm could write an instruction manual, he'd not only save countless limbs, but make millions while doing it.

But, of all the addicts out there, Nymphomaniacs have a need for the mastery of language much more than any other. Matthew Cullinan Hoffman reported in Newsweek last year that "40 million people a day are logging into porn websites, (about 13% of the US population). Up to 9 million may qualify under the strict clinical definition of a 'sex addict'."  If nymphomania is going viral, the ability to express oneself in writing will become a must. Unlike the alcoholic rapist and the illegal chemist, nymphomaniacs feel safer broadcasting the different facets of their addictions because they aren't a felony.  

Just as knowledge of subject and direct object aids the alcoholic in the same way that mastery of transitional phrases and organization guides the meth-head, knowing what to do when you miss your period is key for the sex addict. Do you see that alcoholic crawling out from bar bathroom he passed out in to buy a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style?  A meth-head jamming cotton into his bleeding nostrils so he can go out and pick up Diana Hacker's A Writer's Reference?

That's why Jenny Baranick newly published book, Missed Periods and Grammar Scares, is brilliant. Not only does the title catch the eye (not the one-eyed monster, you pervert) but her examples and explanations of grammar basics revolve around two things that nyphos can relate to the most: sex and the drama that comes with it.

But, Baranick does not pigeonhole her market. Those lovely ladies who want to avoid being labelled a whore (and these days all a girl has to do is speak to more than one man within 30 minutes to be branded as such) need to know that even the smallest comma error can come back to haunt her. Take, for example, the following sentence from Missed Periods' chapter on commas:

Before you begin turning a trick is to find a spot on which to focus.

Forget the comma after "turning," a hooker's advice is befuddled by those extra words "is to." Knowing that a comma is necessary after "turning" will keep all those innocent and delicate ballerinas, well . . . innocent and delicate.

The title of Baranick's book may not immediately grab a man's attention, but the content is just as valuable.  Men are getting smarter and consulting their female friends when they are trumped up by love. But what if he texts this sentence (also taken from Missed Periods) to his homie with the double XX the day after his girlfriend (Kim) breaks up with him?

Do you think it was due to my pet python escaping daily requesting threesomes with her friends Laura and Samantha texting constantly while Kim and I were on dates or forgetting her birthday three years in a row that made Kim break up with me?

Receiver of said text can't offer her wisdom because she isn't even sure what question he's asking. Did Kim get the flock out because his python escaped daily? (Once would have been enough for me.) Or did Kim dump him because he daily requested threesomes? Did he want to have threesome with any of her friends or just Laura and Samantha? If he wanted to have threesomes with Laura and Samantha did he want Kim watch? Did he want Kim, Laura and Samantha to have threesomes while he watched? Did he want to be involved in this estrogen fueled threesome? Wouldn't that make it a foursome? And the texting: is Kim's issue with who is texting or when the texting was being done or both?  The interpretations are endless.  If the commas were in their proper places, it would be easier to say whether or not Kim dodged a bullet or if she is just a bit possessive and a lot conservative.

So, no matter who you are, which vices you do or don't indulge, you can only benefit from buying a copy of Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares. It will help keep it real.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name, Part II

I have just been made aware of a startling reality: not everyone in the world is reading my posts.

I know, hard to believe.

Well, there's at least one guy who isn't at the very least paying attention to the wisdom I am throwing down: Goddanit420.

When I was notified that he had sent me a message through one of the dating sites I loiter, the handler name alone made me groan. His age--26--made me think will I ever attract someone over the age of 30? 
Maybe I Should Audition
But, in the name of open-mindedness (or desperation) I read his email.  To my surprise, his writing has an eloquence to it. He mentions being surprised to "have not made my acquaintance" seeing how we live in the same city and that I have a "pretty face."

Hey, "pretty face" is pretty damn eloquent in comparison to other complements about my appearance that I've gotten through this site.

Still, my experience with these south-of-thirty gentlemen has not been fruitful and my enthusiasm for dating is at dead point.

I send a nice, congenial reply indicating that I am flattered by his interest but that I think he is just too young for me.

It takes 30 seconds to get the response I always get when I kindly try to dodge a cub: age doesn't matter; I need to be open-minded.
Well, it worked out for Demi and Ashton, right?

But Goddanit420 adds that he "doesn't think [I] read his profile."

Well, of course I didn't. "Goddanit420" didn't exactly draw me in. I don't have issue with marijuana, nor those that smoke it, but that name screams stoner, which is not what I am looking for. I love, love, love wine but 2BuckChuck ain't my handler name.

Calling me on my quick judgement did motivate me to read the profile. Okay buddy, let's see you prove me wrong.

I scroll through the pictures: one of his sitting at the beach, one of him showing off some tattoo work on his lower arm, one of him fishing.

One of him wearing the cardboard case to a 12-pack of Budweiser as a helmet.

Under his list of interests: THC.  He claims that he's not an alcoholic but that he can't drink anywhere "without being Judged" [sic].  Also, he has a car, but no license because of too many unpaid tickets.

But his money would be my money.

Good thing I read that profile, because a rose by any other name . . .

Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why I Am the Worst Blogger in the History of the Universe

Well, aside from my hyperbolic titles, there are various other reasons.

One reason is because I don't update very frequently, which is key to keeping hold of a blog audience. Another reason is because that my posts are usually quite lengthy, which is not what the blogging genre seems to call for.

The reason I don't update frequently is because blogging in hard. Well, it is for me. Why? Because I am a perfectionist. I often don't trust my natural voice, you know, that one that dominates the first draft? The one that is goofy and goes on tangents? The one we writers really like writing in, but don't quite feel comfortable enough to put out for the public eye?

The one that doesn't give a shit if she just ended a sentence with a preposition.

So for every blog post, I draft, revise, revise, revise. And because I am always trying to keep my organic voice under control, even the drafting part is difficult. In fact, first drafts are my biggest challenge. Most of the time, blogging isn't fun and easy--it's a pain in the ass.

But, I always look back at my posts and think: Damn, that's good.

The other problem--the length issue--is an all-around writing problem for me. It takes me 250 words just to clear my goddamn throat. I am an over-explainer, which I justify as being "thorough" when really it's because I think everyone's an idiot.

So I am going to try something new: I am going to just bang out posts in my first draft, not worries voice that I seldom, if never, let out. No revisions. No focus on focus. Hell, I may even not worry about typos and spelling.

Well, maybe I will watch that.

And, I'm going to try to get to the point sooner.

Hmmmm, didn't do so well on that second goal.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

To Quote My Grandmother: "Why Are Teenagers So Stupid?": YOLO

Traditionally, New Year's Eve is the official reboot-your-life day. But for me, that feeling of renewal comes in September when the school year begins.  All students march onto campus with their shiny new folders; backpacks clean of tagging; fully stocked with college-ruled notebook paper, pens, and pencils. Hell, some even have highlighters. Young, pimple-ridden faces are lifted to the sky with the resolve to keep up with work and earn better grades.  Even the students who have never earned higher than a 'D' in their lives claim that this year they are going to stop screwing around and focus on school because they have realized a fateful truth . . .


They doodle it on my class syllabus; they shout it in the halls.


Now, YOLO may be a new word, but it's not a new concept. When I inquired what the hell they were saying to one another--who knows what kind of underground revolution my students are capable of--I learned that it is an acronym for "You only live once."

"Oh Captain, my captain."
"YOLO" is the descendant of "carpe diem" which was most often translated as "seize the day," until today's youth gave it just one more revision. Oxford English Dictionary defines "Carpe Diem" as the Latin term for "enjoy the day; pluck the day when it is ripe."

In high school, "living" would mean dodging all of their parents' and teachers' expectations in order to drink, screw, and do drugs. (That's true for many adults as well, but I'd like to say it's not as popular of an approach as it is to teens.) I mean this without disdain or condescension; I was no different at that age. The only thing different is that I YOLOed to the soundtrack of Whitesnake and Motley Crew instead of Kayne West and Katy Perry.

Living life to the fullest--or YOLO-- is not just the mantra of today's youth. The name's just changed. Lord Byron, a master of deviance in the early 1800s (google him, you'll see what I mean) would have tagged "carpe diem" on his backpack. Those hippies of the 60s, would be content to say "seize the day" to their classmates as they trudged from class to class. 

But don't be too hard on this wave of language revisionists. Just as constant as adolescent culture is the need to anchor oneself to a particular era with slang.

Back when "capre diem" led the charge for the nonconformists, a man might go to a lushery to enjoy a few gatters. As he became kanurd, he might start looking for a buor because more than likely only a dollymop would be in such an establishment. If he could get enough mecks down her gullet, she might let him feel her heaving bubbies. But, before she allows him to play with her charms, she would make sure he hadn't spent all his chink. There's no way she'd allow him to put nebuchadnezzar out to grass for free.

In the 1960s, "seizing the day" shredded the propriety of the previous century. A man (or woman) would no longer have to grouse around in the underworld of violence and crime in order to enjoy the spoils of alcohol, drugs and sex; one would merely have the desire to mock The Man. Instead of a seedy bar, one could attend a jam. After a few brews and maybe a little boom (shit, in the 60s they might have also indulged in some beast and girl), the hunks will start interacting with the skirts in the room, but unlike the buors at lusheries, these guys can't assume they are all pigs. They may have to settle for copping a feel, and if they get lucky, swapping spit. Otherwise, that stone fox might just flip a lid and call the fuzz. Then everyone would have to beat feet and ruin the jam altogether.
Today, teens have plenty of kickbacks to choose from when they are looking to YOLO on a Friday night, but they prefer house-parties. Finding alcohol and bud is easy enough at any social event, but if a guy is not Facebook official with anyone, house-parties provide more sluts to hook up with. If a guy is crazy horny, even a skank will do. But, if he truly wants his bros to think he's hooker, he'll find a kickback where the hotties will be more gucci. They gotta roll it sick, yo.

No longer a teenager, when I YOLO, it doesn't involve lusheries, boom, or skanks. In fact, sitting here, typing up this post, sipping my morning cup of Jo while I enjoy the fresh beach air and watch my kittens frolick-- that's yoloing to me.

Okay, there might be Bailey's in my coffee. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What of us goes to waste?

I have a whole lotta skills, yo.

Unfortuneatly, not all of them are valuable. Some are useful; some are enriching. The rest go to waste.

When I think of "useless," the connotation is more pragmatic. These are skills necessary to stay alive or reach a certain goal--that goal being in the name of efficiency or necessity. 

I have skills that are very, very useful. I am very good at knowing how to obtain food and wine. An expert, in fact. Grow food? Not so skilled there, but I'm still alive so I figure it's a skill not everyone needs. I am also very good at selecting shelter: an apartment three blocks from the beach. Can I build a shelter? No, but that goes into the category of growing food. I know how to use a hammer, that's a shelter-building skill. Thank the goddess that I have the skills required to teach others how to use language which keeps me employed so that I can pay for already-grown food and already-built shelter.

In addition, I have skills that enrich my ability to stay alive. I am a pretty good cook. Italian food is one of my specialties. I can also make a pot black beans that would impress a Cuban.

I am also have great organizational skills. I can create a system for anything--a step-by-step process even a monkey could follow (my job as a high school teacher has perfected that skill so that it is becoming a more useful skill).  And planning? I am a planner extraordinaire.

And dare I say that my skills in writing not only enrich my life, but others as well? (Again, this might be a useful skill because if I didn't write, I have no idea how I would keep The Crazy at bay.)

The skills I have that I consider wasteful are those that neither keep me alive nor enrich my life. They might enrich another person's life, but since I can't use them, they just rust over.

For example, I am very good at flirting with women. All women: gay, straight, in transition. Now, my ability to pick up on women would be very enriching if I were a lesbian. Unfortunately, I am straight. And there is no occasion other than hooking up with women that my skill would be useful. Maybe enriching to men who would like to watch me pick up on women, but being a side-show for men is neither a goal nor a flourish I have in my life.

Another skill I have that serves no purpose is my ability amp a situation that has a green terror alert to a red terror alert within 60 seconds. If I were an actress, my flare for over-reaction and drama would be very useful. I am not, nor desire to be, on the stage.

Lastly, I recently learned that I have the skills required to be a foot mistress. I guess I am excellent at trampling, stomping, and squashing. Now, if I were into feet, that'd be great. But, I'm not. I hate my feet as a matter of fact. Now, I do have a friend who is greatly enriched by my skills, but the novelty has worn off for me, so it has slipped into my wasteful skill category.

What are your most wasted skills?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Childhood Monster

A fellow blogger and author, Christine Rains, is celebrating the release of her paranormal romance, FEARLESS, by hosting a blogfest based on childhood monsters. I couldn't resist an entry, especially since my next project is going to be revising the YA horror novel I wrote when I was a YA. A very grounded YA.

My childhood monster answers the age old question once posed by Luke Skywalker: Why would Storm Troopers want to slaughter Jawas?

Well Luke, because they are scary little suckers. Storm Troopers may be an army of evil, but they wear white, shiny uniforms. Not quite the image of a childhood terror.

And as I child, I thought I saw one in my bedroom and to this day, the image still haunts me.

I grew up in a foreboding house located up in the hills where there were few residents and lots of wildlife. The city hadn't bothered with putting up many streetlights, so the nights were silent and dark. Tomb silent. Grave dark. My father claimed that any light, no matter how dim, that might be on anywhere in the house would keep him up, so no nightlights in my house. No sir.

I would sleep with my window open so that whatever moonlight available could break up the pitch blackness of my room. Some nights, I would sit up--rigid, teeth clenched-- in my elevated, antique brass bed, and wait for my eyes to adjust to the shadowy darkness so that I could make sure I was alone in my room before lying down to vulnerable sleep.

Yes, that's my dresser.

Yes, that's my laundry basket.

Closet door is definitely closed.

Oh my god, what is on my chair in the corner? Whew, just my teddy bear.

I was never quite brave enough to check under my bed. Probably should have, because that's the only place the Jawa could have been hiding.

One night, I went to sleep feeling safe, but it must have been a bad dream that jerked me from my slumber. I shot up from my repose, panting.  I wish I had just stayed in the nightmare.

At the foot of my bed, I saw a cradle. In the cradle, the profile of a hooded figure, no bigger than a small child. While the cradle seemed to be rocking from side-to-side, the figure rocked forward and back. I knew by the way the hood pointed at the back, and the rim formed what seemed a perfect, stiff circle that it was a Jawa.

A Jawa sucking his thumb.

Well, not sucking his thumb in the traditional sense. When the Jawa rocked backward, the thumb slowly pulled away from the hood; when the Jawa rocked forward, the hooked arm and jutting digit disappeared behind the folds of cloth. Rock back, rock forward. Rock back, rock forward.

I sat in complete terror: heart pounding, sweat dripping. I did end up screaming for my parents. But instead of begging for a light to be left on, once they reassured me that a Jawa nor a crib was nowhere to be found in my room, I shut my curtains, wanting  my room to be at dark as tar so that whatever was in my room, I wouldn't be able to see it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An Emerging Market: Cougars

Dear Apple,

I realize that you are taking over the world. You lure us with cute pictures and the illusion that you are saving us time (try completing a task without your cellphone or computer within reach and you'll see just how much "time" technology is saving you). You promise convenience and efficiency. But the most seductive thing about your product? It's pretty and easy.

Instead of worrying about things like words and being burdened with texting complete sentences, you provide cute, little icons for users to make their communication both clear and quick. I no longer have to deny anyone a moment without the honor--the need-- to interact with me.

I can text a birthday cake instead of "happy birthday" (also helps avoid the unanswerable grammatical question of whether or not or even how "happy birthday" should be capitalized).  I can text a thumbs-up for "that sounds great!" or "I agree." At the end of a long Monday, I can choose a pile of poop in response to a "how was your day," and at the end of a Friday, I can text a martini glass. Or the hypodermic needle.

And I have to thank you for the egg-in-frying pan icon when I need to send a text about breakfast. Or to present what age, blogging, and too many drugs in high school has done to my brain.

And who doesn't need a picture of an eggplant in his or her daily communication? Oh, and Apple, thanks so much for the hedgehog, the nose, and the ghost with the eye patch.

But Apple is sorely neglecting a market: Cougars. We are adapting to texting as a main mode of communication to accommodate our twenty-something interests, but the age gap does bring about some problems. Therefore, Apple, I need you to please add these icons to iPhone 5.

I need a in place of "please, don't send me naked pictures." 

I need one of these to indicate that I don't send naked picture.

(Well, maybe for $.)

And I definitely need one of these so that my potential suitor knows that I don't put out on the first date.

If my request comes too late for the iPhone 5, I suppose I can use a thumbs down + the camera + the eggplant in place of "please don't sent me picture of your penis," but that's three things I have to tap! So, Apple, I'd hop on it because my next letter will be to Android.


Cougars of America

P.S. Trust me when I say that we have more power than the NRA.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why We Need LOL

I speak two languages: snob and sarcasm.

Snob is my written language; sarcasm is my colloquial language. Whenever I write anything -- fiction, prose, emails, grocery lists--I always used correct punctuation, sophisticated vocabulary, and rhetorical flourish. I use semi-colons in my text messages. Hell, I even capitalize first person "I" and spell out "you."

Sarcasm is my colloquial language. I know, I know--sarcasm is only funny to the person using it and is the sword of language. But in the home I grew up in, sarcasm was as valuable as a lifeboat on the Titanic. After years of wielding it in the name of survival, it flows naturally from my mouth, more free than air.

When I was in school to get my teaching credential, I recall a professor warning to "never use sarcasm with students" because it causes psychological damage. At the time, I wondered how I was going to teach anyone anything if I had to be mute.

Then I learned that I needed sarcasm to not only survive my childhood, but also to survive my profession. Have I scarred any teens during my teaching career? Probably. But fuck it, I've always been a bit Darwinian. And the students always know that I'm just kidding. I mean, the voice inflection that cloaks those biting words provides a cushion, right?

But, speaking sarcasm  is so much easier than writing it. And when one is texting (or IMing) it is meant to flow like conversation; it's digital dialogue. Therefore, taking the time to chose that perfect word or orchestrate language so that tone comes through is just practical or reasonable, even for masters of the written word.

Thank God for LOL and :).  Tacking one--or both if the sarcasm is really poignant-- indicates that one is j/king.

LOL is infant in the family of language, but it's precocious. It has already evolved. In the beginning, LOL was primarily used by the receiver of a message to mean that the content of what was sent made him or her to "laugh out loud."

For example, when a prospective suitor texted me, "UR cook dinner n suck cock?" I responded with "LOL" as a kind way of saying "The fuck I am, asshole." If it's a new flirtation, I might tack on a :) as well. That way, he knows that I have no intention of cooking him shit nor sucking on anything but that I am not offended by his sarcasm. If he was being serious, he'll learn right away that I may not be the girl for him. Better he learn that now than after dinner, right?

But then, LOL went from a message receiver's signal that he or she is enjoying the conversation to a message sender's tool to keep the conversation amiable.

This evolution affects both sides of the conversation. Now, the potential suitor would text, "UR cook me dinner, LOL" and I would respond with "No, you're going to buy me dinner, LOL." I don't think he's a misogynistic dick and he doesn't think I am a gold-digging bitch. Instead, we learn that we are both witty and playful.

If potential suitor texts, "UR cook dinner?" without the LOL :), I know that his question is serious and I can whip out my snobbery and respond with, "Sure, after you take me out to dinner, buy me a dozen roses, and then send me a thank you card the following day."

As long as the communication is clear, it's all good. If the potential suitor was joking and the lack of LOL was an oversight, well then, I've learned that he's careless. No thank-you. Still a win-win for me.

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's for Sale?

Because every truck driver, student driver, and elderly driver decided to be on the 605 North today, I found myself cruising behind a freight truck with an ad for Bro Pack Beef.

To most of us of average intelligence, clearly Bro Pack Beef is meat. To those who may not be of average intelligence, this ad could be quite confusing.

"Bro" has several definitions. The OED defines "Bro" as the colloquial for "brother." That positive connotation does transfer to the slang term "bro" when one is referring to a close, male friend. In addition, Urban dictionary has a string of definitions mostly focusing on the derogatory: "An alpha male idiot, usually white young male, found commonly in places like san bernardino county in california, as well as orange county. always, without exception, drive big lifted trucks." Their style consists of "trucker hats off center, plug earrings, sunglasses, wife beater shirt or no shirt, sagging dickies shorts, high black socks, skater shoes or those black corduroy slipper things, have a lot of tatoos of things like stars" (Urban Dictionary).

Those who have always wanted an older brother, would be drawn to the Bro Pack Beef ad thinking he/she could finally have that protective older sibling he/she always wanted. But, isn't buying people a felony?

As for the label "Bro," derogatory or not, this will isolate the market. My sister dated a full-fledge Bro and if she had seen that ad, she  might have caused a pile-up on the 605 just trying to get away from it.  I, on the other hand, have never dated a Bro, so it might inspire me to buy . . . I mean try it.

Then the "pack" issue comes into play. Even if Bro Pack Beef found a way to sell older siblings without getting arrested, do I really want a pack of them? A pack may be innocuously defined by the OED as "a bundle of things wrapped or tied together," but I can't help but associate packs with wolves, hyenas and other carnivorous animals. Do I want a bunch of carnivorous animals taking on the role of my protector?


But then in true brother/sister form, being the object of much teasing from a bunch of carnivorious animals is not what I want to invest in.

If I am willing to invest in dating a tatted-out, white young man, do I really want a pack? Do bros have an expiration date? If they do, and I can't finish the pack, will my badass reputation be put at risk? And how many are in the pack? Is it like a pack of beer?

I am already riddled with confusion and I haven't even addressed the "beef" aspect yet. On the surface, beef is simply meat from a cow, but since the company is using the term "bro," "beef" might also have a colloquial or slang definition. Commonly, "beef" is also defined as a grudge or a fight. Therefore, do I really want a pack of bros that are ready to brawl?

Bro Pack Beef has really narrowed their market to men and women who have no self-esteem and who need a pack of brothers to not only protect them but also abuse them, men who have anger issues and who feel a few good brawls will make them feel better, and women who are feeling rebellious and have a lot of stamina.

Well, at least the company didn't call themselves Bro Pack Sausage. Talk about a narrow market.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


A Writer's Journey

A Writer's Journey is an inspirational blog that just launched a blogfest that really gets us writers to put on our PR hats while celebrating our works.

To join this blogfest, I have created THREE pages on my blog, primarily dedicated to my serial killer novel. Please visit my blog, check them out, comment, etc and then go to A Writer's Journey (link provided as picture caption) and enjoy other inspirations. Who knows, maybe our inspirations will inspire you!

Well, hopefully not to kill people. I'd feel bad.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Am I Drunk, Punked, or Fucked?

I understand that language will and must evolve to join with scientific discovery, technological progression, and cultural mish-mashing, but I'm more in favor of creating new language instead of just redefining words already used.

For example, I love the word google. It started as a proper noun and then the frequency of its use morphed it into the verb to google which means to investigate or to look up. I don't even mind that text has become a verb because the spirit of its meaning remains the same. That emo has replaced my generation's goth to describe that teen sub-culture is just fine. No problemo.

But, when a word that's been around for a while changes definition--that irritates me.

Currently, my students are setting up a mock trial based on the novel The Stranger. (If you haven't read the novel, don't worry, you can continue reading this post without becoming confused.) To keep these seniors who have mentally graduated motivated, I put them into legal teams, assigned them to be the prosecution or defense, and then paired the teams up to compete against one another. To take it up a notch, I informed the students that only one legal team in each pair can earn an 'A'.

A few days ago, they presented their opening statements. Robed, perched at my podium, I played the judge. As each team presented, the rest of the class acted as jury. After all teams had presented, I asked for jury responses. For one particular pair, the jury unanimously favored the prosecution. After the results were presented and the defense team was slinking off to their desks, one of the members of the prosecution taunted: "We smashed you."

Based on the content, I knew what the student meant, but my understanding of the word smashed did not compute with the situation.

To my knowledge, smashed had gone from meaning “totally drunk” in my day to “having sex” for the current adolescent lexicon. In fact, Urban Dictionary specifies that smashing is "fucking someone good" which if we apply the rules of grammar means "fucking someone who is a good person" so I am guessing that Urban Dictionary intends smashed to mean fucking someone so much (or so hard) so that the fucker dominates the fuckee. In a consensual sex kind of way.

And I don't allow fornication or drinking alcohol in my classroom, so clearly, the meaning has changed.

"Hey Cody," I called to the gloating student. "What does 'smashed' mean now?"

"It means like a landside victory. We totally dominated."

"So it doesn't mean 'to have sex' anymore?" I asked.

"No, it means that too," Cody said.

"In my day, it meant 'drunk'," I said.

"Oh, it means that too."

So now smashed can be counted with those words that have so many definitions one must provide several context clues so as not to cause confusion or panic.

For example, if I were to tell my friends, “I got smashed last night,” they wouldn’t know I got drunk, punked, or fucked. And then they wouldn’t know whether to stage an intervention, make fun of me, or buy me a chastity belt. They’d have to really sit back and think about which definition is more likely to be true. And nobody is gonna like the results of that.

That same day, I asked my college class how they use the word smashed. As it turned out, my college students don’t use it to mean “dominated” in a competitive setting. In fact, one student, Stevie informed me that “We actually used smushed to mean ‘having sex’.”

I dunno, being smushed is ever less appealing that being smashed. But because Stevie is a great writer with a unique spirit that I admire, I considered her clarification seriously. My conundrum was just getting more conundrummy.

Already planning to write a post on the usage of the word, I tested my title: “Am I Drunk, Punked, or Fucked?” to illustrate the problem with the multiple definitions. Several students laughed, which was the reaction I was hoping for. Charlie, who happens to sit behind Stevie, offered a solution, “Well, if you said, ‘I am smashed’ it would be more clear.

I presented my I-was-smashed-last-night example to illustrate that unlike talking to, smashed didn’t come with a preposition (or linking verb) to aid in the clarification.

Being another talented writer, Charlie was not discouraged, “Technically, punking someone isn’t the same as dominating someone in competition. Punking is more like a practical joke.”

These fools can’t use MLA format, but they sure as hell can punch holes in my rhetorical wittiness.

The conundrums were now smashing and multiplying. “Great Charlie, now I have to decide whether of want to be rhetorically catchy or denotatively accurate.”

“I like your title,” Christine, who sits in front of Stevie said. I asked her, “so stick with the title, even though it’s not accurate?”

She nods.

“The inaccuracy doesn’t bother you?”

She shakes her head and I have to remind myself that not everyone is as anal as I am. And I mean anal as in “obsessively orderly.” Besides, Christine is a pretty good judge of when I am actually being funny and when I am actually being an idiot based on which of my jokes she finds humorous.

Nevertheless, I still did some online research before composing this blog. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, smashed appeared in the English language in 1819 to mean “crushed; broken to pieces.” It retained that definition until those rebels of 1962 used it to mean “intoxicated, drunk; under the influence of drugs.” No mention of fornicating, dominating or otherwise.

I did look up smushed on Urban Dictionary and I was right—it is less attractive that getting smashed. According to that site, smushed is “the act of pressing a flaccid penis against a woman’s groin area in a vain attempt at sexual intercourse.”

Therefore, as the self-proclaimed czar of diction and with the Oxford English Dictionary to back me up, I declare that smashed is only allowed to mean “crushed” as in “broken to pieces” or “drunk.”

Although, “Am I Drunk, Punked, or Fucked?” is a better title than “Am I Broken to Pieces or Intoxicated?”.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name . . .

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose,
By Any other name would smell as sweet?"
                             --- Romeo and Juliet

If names didn't matter, expecting parents wouldn't spend months researching and debating names.

Take my name for instance: Holly. It means a plant with red berries (that are poisonous). I'm sure my parents went ten rounds on which plant to name me after.

So, Holly by any other name would be just as poisonous? Awesome.

If it weren't for the Internet and social networking, I would agree with Juliet (on the value of a name only). For most of us, our birth names don't really represent the scope of who we are as people. But we didn't name ourselves and our parents name us before any sign of personality shows itself. At best, our birth names represent what our parents hope we'll become.

So, my parents wanted me to be poisonous. Awesome.

But on the Internet, when we set up email accounts, Twitter accounts, participate in online gaming, and dating profile we get to create a name that we think represents who we are. Therefore, my lovely and naive Juliet, a name does represent the scent of the rose. Or at least a person's willingness to take a whiff.

For example, my email involves a reference to vampires. I  have had the address forever, back when I wanted to be seen as dark and dangerous because I thought it was sexy. I keep the email address out of pure laziness: it's just too much for me (see technology humor posts) to send out a mass message directing my friends and family to my new addy. And, if I want to be honest, I still hope that whomever I give it to will see its contrast to my physiognomy as mysterious. Edgy. Unconventional.


What usually happens now is that those to whom I give it regard me as kooky. Confused. Immature (even though I always explain that my vampiric address has "nothing to do with Twilight"). They laugh at my explanation--trying to sound humored by my wit--but really they are backing away, lowering their eyes, and quickly closing the conversation (or transaction).

Missed Periods has great posts about the value of a professional email address, so I'll move on to profile usernames.

Usernames that are known only to you--sure, unleash the inner adolescent. Sexy beast. Lunatic. Go ahead and register that "BoogerEater." "69forever." "BloodyPretzel." Hopefully, you won't have to call the IT support line and be forced to share it with a complete stranger.

But, with dating profiles, the inner adolescent, sexy beast, and lunatic needs to be harnessed. When potential mates are perusing their matches, they may look at every aspect of a profile before noting the specifics of the username. The problem arises when someone is notified via email that someone winked, smiled, emailed, or wants to meet you.

For example, I have received the following notifications:

"Clitlicker wants to meet you."

"Cocknorris just winked at you."

And my favorite, "Bigdaddypoopface is interested in you!"

And recently, I learned that I am a favorite of MrRightNow!69 and WalkingDeath.

Let's just say that I have no intention of being the dick-sucker to Clitlicker.

My vagina doesn't want to be anywhere near Cocknorris.

And I am certainly not interested in Bigdaddypoopface. I might be open-minded, but I'm not disgusting.

And MrRightNow!69 gives me performance anxiety.

Select. Delete. No viewing profiles. Clitlicker could be Gerard Butler, Cocknorris could be Vin Diesel, and Bigdaddypoopface could be George Clooney, but I will never know.

WalkingDeath? I guess I'll hit him up when I'm feeling suicidal or necrophiliactic.

Therefore, Juliet, there is a lot in a name. One can't be too hard a a tween expressing what little wisdom he or she can gather in the first thirteen years of their lives.  I mean, everything turned out alright for her, didn't it?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

To Quote My Grandmother: "Why Are Teenagers So Stupid?"

I am slowly but surely breaking down teenagers' mental stability. All those things that parents have done to make their children feel safe in the world they live in, I taint with my radical pedagogy. What little ego, what little self-esteem, what little confidence they have in their beliefs, I am picking apart like a vulcher tearing off the last bits of meat on a bone.

I am not producing articulate young men and women; I am producing cynics.

Sacred truths are being exposed in room R102. Look out Mulder, I am on the scene. Government conspiracy the cover up the existence of aliens? Whatever.  I, a mere school teacher, have recently ripped the mask of deceit from a sacred truth. 

That Van Helsing is not Hugh Jackman.
I know, some might think me callous. Some could rightly say that I've lost all reverence for faith, fantasy, innocent. But I cannot allow my students, my protegees, to go into the world blinded by such falsehoods.

Currently, I am teaching my seniors how to write a research paper.  In order to model this, I use the topic of vampires in literature. One of the keys to teaching is modeling, and I figured why not use a subject they might find interesting and a subject I know a lot about? I also find it a good opportunity to tune up their analytical skills: the vampire isn’t just titillating entertainment; it can be used as a way to interpret the beliefs of an era.

Don't get me wrong; we aren't watching The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and Twilight (I do get to Twilight, but it at the end of a survey of all kinds of vampires). In fact, I start with some mythological background and then the first piece of literature I expose them to is Bram Stoker's Dracula. Throw in some classical vampires; go back to the roots, yo. I understand that the dense Victorian prose might lose them, but I make sure to pick the "juicy" parts to read. Yes, read; not watch.

This year, when I announced that next class Van Helsing will be making his appearance, students visibly perked up: they sat up straight in their desks, eyes popped open, a few excited "really?"s humm through the room. 

"Van Helsing is in Dracula?"

"Yep. Stoker created the original."


They seemed more excited than students in the past at meeting the father of all slayers.
It's the next day and I am reading the parts from the novel where Van Helsing is introduced and examining poor Lucy (the first of Dracula’s English Victims—those who have seen the film, the hot red-head whose breasts will not be harnessed by any nightgown), I sense the energy that had carried over from the class before waning. Whispers. Students twisting around in their seats.

Pausing, I look up to make sure everyone is following along and am met with perplexed stares.

A student raises his hand. "I'm lost.”

"We are on page 123," I say.

“No, about Van Helsing." He stabs his book with a finger, "Van Helsing is some old guy?" 

“Well, I guess you might think him old. He’s a college professor from Amsterdam. Dr. Seward sends for him because he's an expert in strange diseases. He's the perfect balance of scientific man who has, as Dr. Seward says, 'a completely open mind'.  These characters living in this time would never think of vampirism as the cause of Lucy's illness. They weren't nearly as mainstream as they are now. Stoker needed a character who is both educated and yet a bit quirky, a bit nonconformist, if you will, to bring this to light.”

The student frowns. He is not pacified by my articulate and thorough justification of Van Helsing's character.

"He doesn't work for the Vatican?” the student almost pleads.

For a second, I think What in the Hell is he talking about? but then remember the Hugh Jackman flick. Laughing, I say, "You're thinking of the movie. That is not an accurate depiction of the original character."

Another student asks, “He turns into a werewolf, right?” His voice pitching, and it's not because puberty hasn't kicked in yet. It's panic. 

I make a mental note to add "accurate" and "depiction" to next weeks vocabulary list.

“That movie didn’t create character of Van Helsing. He’s been around for a while.” I hold up my copy of Dracula, “Stoker invented him. In fact, he’s based on a good friend of the author.”

The students are not impressed. At all.

I downshift to their mode. Picking up the DVD of Francis For Coppola's Dracula (if you want to stay alive, you have to intersperse movie clips throughout the study of a classic) I throw it in and hope that Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Van Helsing will pull the students back in.

It doesn't. His social awkwardness, his sardonic humor, his ability to go from Victorian gentleman to blood-drenched avenger in the flash of a fanged mouth.

I emphasize how the original Van Helsing, a mere mortal without the aid of Rome, specialized weapons, the reincarnated soul of an archangel, and the ability to transform into a werewolf can still defeat such a powerful, nefarious preternatural creature as Dracula. 

Despite his accomplishments, my students are still disappointed. "The Van Helsing in the movie is cooler," a few reiterate.

Well, I guess I better not tell them that Frankenstein's monster and Dracula's stories don't really intertwine. But, there's no sense in kicking them when they are down. Not even am I that cruel.

Actually, I am. Did you know that Dr. Frankenstein not once says, "It's alive!" in the novel? Not once.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Monkey-fuck-a-football: an Example

Back in August, I blogged about my father's humorous rhetoric. One of my personal favorite "Dadisms," as I call them, is monkey-fuck-a-football. It can be used as a noun or adjective. The definition is a situation in which one is extremely uncoordinated and clumsy.

The evolution of monkey-fuck-a-football is rooted in my father's need to plan a time to plan the plan. Nothing, nothing takes place in his world without careful thought, some deliberation, and a lot of measuring. On those rare occasions when he must act on the fly, the most simplest tasks become riddled with complications. During those times, Dad would say, "It's like a monkey trying to fuck a football," which has evolved into monkey-fuck-a-football.

Not only is imagery funny, but the use of alliteration and consonance appeals to the ears and the tongue. Bravo, Dad. Not bad for an engineer.

My brother-in-law, Cory, doesn't quite understand it's meaning and he's an English teacher as well! He might not get this particular metaphor, but he adds an example of irony to it quite nicely.

Even more ironically, it is the birth of his and my sister, Kelli's, son on Wednesday that led to a perfect example of monkey-fuck-a-football. And, of course, I am the star. Well, I'm the supporting role. The stars are Kelli and Cory's pets: Jade, Duncan, and Zeus.

Jade is a Pit Bull, Doberman, Labrador mix. Her looks may be mostly Pit Bull, but her temperament is all Lab. When she hauls her 50 pounds of pure muscle into your lap for a belly rub, it is both adorable and painful. In her world, playtime is all the time. No one can wear this girl out--your arm will go numb before she's tired of playing fetch.
 Duncan, a puppy only twelve weeks old, is a Shih Tzu / Maltese mix. He weighs 3 lbs. but bosses the entire household around. My dad calls him Rizzo the Rat. When I first saw him, I asked Kelli if that was a dog or had she just cleaned out her hair brush?

Duncan munching on my finger.

Zeus, an average alley cat, is twelve years old and one grumpy old man. Kelli adopted him when he was a year old and he clearly had been an outdoor cat because he has escaped his indoor life several times. Zeus barely tolerated Cory moving in on my sister, but the addition of Jade and Duncan has really ticked him off.  He spends a lot of time brooding and whining. Kelli swears that if he had opposable thumbs, he would pack up his shit and leave. He tries to woo all visitors into taking him home with them by trying to climb into purses or curling up in laps and purring. 

For the three nights that Kelli would be in the hospital (my nephew, Jay Joseph was born by Cesarean section) Cory and I planned to trade residences because they live close to my work and I live close to the hospital. Also, my three cats could survive without people around as long as food was in their bowls. My sister's pets--who all have individual regiments for everything from where their food bowls are located to their level of access to the backyard--would not fare so well.

Kelli and Cory manage their animal's routines and restrictions with confidence and deftness. Me? Monkey-fuck-a-football.

Last week, after spending the day at the hospital I drove up to Whittier anticipating very anxious animals who had been sequestered for over twelve hours. Having spent the entire time alone in the backyard, Jade greeted me with a pit bull's enthusiasm and nails. She is trained, but still struggles with not jumping on visitors. I struggle with not stepping in dogshit or falling into a hole that she had dug on my way from the garage to the back porch. Doing this at night? Oy.

Once I made it to the porch poop-free but with a bruised thigh from where Jade's paws had landed, I let Duncan out of the laundry room. He bounded outside, yipping away, looking like a giant hairball blowing across the lawn.

I went into the house, followed by Jade, to put my stuff down: overnight bag, keys, purse and cellphone. Zeus immediately accosted me with squawks for food. I dropped some kibble into his bowl and then went back outside with Jade to monitor the peeing. Because Duncan is so small and a puppy, he is not left outside for long periods of time.

My Nemesis
I didn't go out through the laundry room, because that's where Duncan is closed up when no one is home with his food, a crate, and puppy pads. I had traversed enough shit for one day and really no one ever goes in an out of the house that way. The main exit from the house to the backyard is a set of glass doors complete with screens. I decided to close the screen doors only.

Jade went over to her food and water bowl and had dinner while stood with hands on hips, ordering Duncan to do his business so we could go in the house and go to bed. Instead of business, Duncan was frolicking around, plucking up pink flowers that had fallen off a bush. He brought a wilting bud to me, then got another one, shook it vigorously to show it who was boss and then took it on a tour of the entire backyard. Unfortunately, the tour didn't include bathroom breaks.

While my back was turned, Zeus snuck out onto the porch. I saw him and acted with authority and calm so that he wouldn't bolt. Opening the screen door, I called to Jade who immediately came and went inside. Duncan, on the otherhand, needed more coaxing. He may be a puppy, but he's a slippery little booger, and it was quite a challenge to catch him and keep and eye on the cat as he skulked around the lawn. Once I had Duncan, I threw him into the house (along with a few pink flower petals) and closed the two doors so that the dogs wouldn't come back outside (the screen doors don't really latch closed) and startle the cat into a run.

"Zeus, you silly boy, what are you doing?" I cooed as I crept up on him. He hunkered down a bit, suspicious, but I moved slowly and kept my voice low until I got close enough to snatch him up. Cat in arms, I lugged him to the door, shifted his girth under one arm, grabbed the doorknob. . . and found it locked.

Mumbling under my breath, I went to the laundry room door . . .  and found it locked.

Oh shit.

Wrapping Zeus in a tight, double arm hold, I went to the door that led from the master bedroom to the backyard and found it . . . you guessed it . . . locked.

Hell, if the house caught fire, each resident had his or her own exit, but I as one person couldn't find a way in through any of them. Cory, I have just usurped you as a model of irony.

Great. I'm locked outside with an indoor cat at 11 p.m. without keys and without a phone. Jade and Duncan sat in front of the glass doors wagging their tails and cocking their heads at me in confusion. I watched Duncan pee on the carpet and then scurry around it with triumph.

My only option was to leave Zeus in the garage, climb over the fence, hope I didn't break a bone because I couldn't call an ambulace, and then hope that a neighbor would bring me his or her cellphone to call my mother (who I learned later actually didn't have a key). I had no plans to call my sister or her husband; they had just had their first child and all they needed was to worry about me being locked out of their house. With the cat.

Trudging across the back lawn (still managing not to step in dog shit) I found the garage door also locked. Oh, and the garage door opener? In the house. With the keys and my phone and my brain.

Fuck me.

I could barely hop a fence with a ladder, a pully system, and a team of stuntmen. Haul my shit over a fence with a very agitated, overweight cat? Forget it. Zeus began to voice his disapproval with a gutteral growl. I squeezed him tighter; he squirmed.

It was out of the question to leave the cat in the backyard while I tried to get to a neighbor's house. The chances that he'd still be around when I returned were slim and I could not lose this cat. The few times he had run away--once being gone for three days--Kelli had been distraught. If I lost the damn cat, she'd be devastated and I'd never forgive myself.

Hoisting the cat up, I marched with purpose back to the glass doors. Eyeing them, I took a deep breath. I turned my profile to the target, leaned my weight into one leg, readjusted my hold on Zeus, and launched my less burdened foot toward the door. My heel cracked the white paint of the wooden frame. Encouraged, I slammed my foot into it again. The dogs scooted back and lowered their heads, but they did not run. Zeus snarled and squirmed. I tightened my grip and delivered a series of kicks--my leg whipping out from my body; a boom and rattle echoing from each strike. The glass in the door quivered.

I would have looked pretty bad-ass if I hadn't been wearing yoga pants, a shirt with a lotus flower and the image of a mediating Buddha on it. Oh, and clutching a fat, grey cat to my chest. But, I felt bad-ass. Until I had to take a break and catch my breath.

Glaring at the cat in my arms and panting, I drew my posture up, jut out my chest, lunged back, and fired my leg out one more time. The doors flew open spraying chips of wood and sending two dogs fleeing. Tossing the cat onto the ground, I gave him a good scolding. I think I also cussed out my keys and phone for good measure. I flipped-off the garage door opener.

Yanking off my ugg boots, I dropped them on the floor only to have Duncan take one in his mouth and drag it out of sight.

There was pee to clean up, but I wanted to make sure the door was secure first.

The inside and outside knobs were still intact, but the strike plate and the deadlatch were not longer securely in the door. I tried to push them back into place, but bent screws and bits of broken wood got in the way. Finally, I was able to force the doors closed, and luckily, the screen doors had hook latches on the inside. I could at least keep strangers from breaking in.

That done, I turned to head into the kitchen for a glass of wine (or shot of Tequila) and stepped in Duncan's pee. But, I kept going only to find that they had no red wine and no chilled white wine. And no Tequila.

The icing on the cake? Not only do I have icing, I've got decorations too. During the night, Duncan peed in the bed while I slept spooning Jade. The next morning my foot sunk into a nice little turd Duncan left for me in the hallway. And, later that next day, my brother-in-law decided to run home, discovered the damaged doors, and called the police because he thought someone had broke in.  He wasn't totally wrong; someone did break in. There was just no need to call the police.

Well, maybe there was.

When my sister called to ask me about the doors and asked "if I had noticed that they'd been pried open?" I said, "Of course, I noticed because I did it. Only I didn't pry them open, I had to kick them in."

After a pregnant pause (I know, groaner pun), I added, "It was monkey-fuck-a-football at your house last night. I had my ass handed to me a 3 lb fur-ball and a 14 lb feline."

She needed no other explanation.