Monday, August 4, 2014

Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Seriously Shitty

The hardest part of writing a book is not the writing, it's the releasing. Sure, you have to make yourself sit and write, you have to read it over and over, you may even get stuck on a plot point or two, but all of that pales in comparison to the act of sending it out into the world to be judged.  Once birthed into the ether it is vulnerable to attack, you are vulnerable to attack.

And like any egomaniacal sucker, I can't help but compulsively check my Amazon page for reviews.  A great review and I'm convinced this book is going to change my life!  A bad review and I'm convinced it's all over, I'm dead in the water, I should take the pathetic craptacular down so no one else will be subjected to it!  Bad review days are tough days. And not just for me, but everyone around me. My poor friends and family are constantly thrust into pep talk mode to keep me from derailing completely over some unknown persons complaint about typos. I realize I'm becoming a tiresome, well, more tiresome, person.

So, why do I do it?  Why look?  Why can't I decide not to read any reviews, good or bad?  Just let the Universe handle it?  Um, because I'm desperate for affirmation even as I cower in fear of potential condemnation. Duh. And I'm a bit of a control freak. As if by clicking on that Amazon page to monitor the happenings and goings on is any type of control.  It isn't, but it feels like it is.  And that is where I begin to recognize the tell tale signs of delusion. 

But imagine if you put pictures of your newborn baby on Facebook and amongst the oohs and ahhs of "what a pretty baby" you got, "That is one ugly ass baby!"  Or, "the mother should have controlled her eating because that newborn is the size of my twelve year old."   Or, "Is that Benjamin Buttons?" That would really, really, suck holes, right?

Now, my hubs had warned me the internets is a cruel bitch and I was going to have to get over it. I'm not much of a get over it kind of person, but in an effort to prepare myself I looked up several of my favorite books on Amazon and Goodreads to see what the worst of the worst had to say about them.  Yowza!

What is it about the internets that makes people be super shitty?  Because I can guarantee you the same person who writes a three paragraph review calling out an author for writing the worst book ever written would never dare say that to the author's face.  The amount of effort and time spent on tearing someone down is pretty impressive (also depressive).  We get it, you found 1970s India a depressing setting, but did you have to call it a word turd?  

I'm not saying people can't give honest opinions, but you can be critical without being hateful, right? People get on Goodreads and tear books a new asshole! Even the most universally beloved books will have someone taking a dump on it.  Ugh, internets, ugh. When did it get so personal? 

The worst review I've received was from someone who didn't even buy it, but borrowed it!  They hated it so much they needed grief counseling to get over burning their once a month borrow on my book of doo doo.

I totally get my book is not for everyone.  Hell, I'm not for everyone.  I also realize I'm a terrible proofreader and there are typos (trying to fix them), but I wrote my book for me and those special souls like me.  So, I'm sorry if you waste your precious time on my doo doo book, I'm sorry you blew $2.99 on it (or your one monthly borrow) but, mostly, I'm sorry your sense of humor is doo doo.

In the immortal words of Whitley's therapist on A Different World (Debbie Allen), I need to relax, relate, release. But then what will I fret about?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Austin Land

Two revelations from my weekend in Austin, TX:

1.  Glitter makes everything better.

Mr. Sparkle (Pilsner) by Austin Beerworks.
2.  Hipsters need help.  Example:  Hey, it's a 1000 degrees in Texas, take that velvet porkpie hat off before you have a stroke.
   M.D. Mosteller, saving hipsters one hip at a time. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Psycho Killer

As I plunge into the dark depths of middle age, I've begun waking up periodically throughout the night.  Sometimes it's aggressively irritating and other times I just go with it, listening to the sounds of my bedroom, the whir of my menopause fan (affectionately known as Pausey) and the roar of the bear, I mean husband, snoring next to me.  Last night was one of those nights where I just went with it and let my thoughts go where they wanted, but where they went was kind of weird.  I started thinking about how vulnerable we are when we surrender to sleep with another person lurking, I mean sleeping, right next to us.  What is more trusting than to lie down next to someone and say, "Okey dokey, I'm going to be unconscious for the next eight hours so don't do anything I wouldn't do!" 

You can live with someone for fifty years, but you don't really know what kind of sociopathic thoughts they may have bouncing around inside them.  A smart psycho isn't going to tell you they are a crazed killer, they're going to hide it!  But because all of us must have sleep we make assumptions based on our partner's past behavior.  For example, I haven't awoken to find my husband standing over me with death in his eyes therefore I have no reason to expect him to go Clockwork Orange on me while I slumber.    (fingers crossed) 

So based on our assumptions and some amount of insanity/stupidity we trust each other with our lives every night.  Every night my husband has complete trust that I won't be pushed over the edge by his nocturnal rumblings and rise up to plunge a butcher knife him while he dreams of double IPAs.  That is some serious trust cause his snoring is ridiculous.

I, in turn, trust he will not slit my gut open to let my entrails slide out onto the floor where our dumb dog will eat them faster than you can say, "dropped bacon."   I trust him despite the many reasons he may have for midnight revenge- I forgot his fish oil pills (again), I hit the garage with the car (again), I let the kids drink the last of his chocolate milk (again), the list goes on and on!

Yet, we sleep next to each other, not peacefully because he sometimes sounds like he is swallowing a cactus and I haven't had a solid night's sleep since I gave birth to the sleep-takers (aka my children), but respectfully trusting each other not to take a life.  Now, if that isn't a solid marriage, I don't know what is.

And that's what I thought about last night.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Funk Family

I don't know what smells worse, my kids or their dog, but either way our house is bathed in the essence of funk.  I've spent a small fortune on Febreeze candles to try and burn out the stank,  I regularly spray Lysol like I'm trying to delouse the Huntsville Gen Pop, and I leave doors open to air out the foulness despite the influx of mayflies, yet the funk remains.

So, who let the stink out?  Well, despite all my efforts to teach my children good personal hygiene, they are swamp people who prefer to stew in their own juices.   It's a real low point of motherhood when your six year old son walks by and you catch a whiff of sewage wafting from his bottom region and you realize a secondary clean -up crew (yours truly) is going to have to get in there pronto with a power washer.  Or you walk into your nine year old daughter's room to be physically repelled by an invisible wall of super funk because using soap in the shower is for losers.

I knew raising kids would be difficult, but what I did not know is, it would be such a violent assault on my olfactory senses.  Yikes.  And I would never have dreamed there could be so many different malodorous scents emanating from two little bodies!  They're like that jungle flower that looks good, but smells like rotten flesh. 

Now, they would, and often do, blame the dog and to be fair, the dog smells, well, like a dog.  But I can hardly blame the dog for smelling like dog.  At least he smells like the animal he is unlike the small humans I live with who often smell like old, dank, ass.

Of course, the more I resist the more it persists so maybe I should embrace their necrotic bouquet and find a positive outlet for dealing with it.  Like keeping a journal where I record each child's daily perfume:

May 9, 2014:  Today, Daughter smelled like feet and onions.  I watched a rose whither and die as she went past.

June 5, 2014:  Son smells more like dog than our dog.  At first, I thought he was attracting blow flies, but then realized they were just regular old flies.

May 26, 2014:  Daughter memorialized the American worker by smelling like a sewage-treater after a double-shift.  Happy Memorial Day!

July 4, 2014:  Son showed his independent spirit today by projecting the delicate aroma of burnt turd.

You see, I'm a positive thinker who finds a way to cherish all aspects of my funkified children. 

Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Putting Your Insides on the Outside (It's even worse than it sounds)

Writing a book was the easy part. The hard part was letting people read it.

 And not because I included lots of private details about my college life, (vagina jokes and confessions of deep-rooted insecurities is just me being me), but because my ability would be judged and my dreams destroyed (side note: I might be overly dramatic).

That people know the awkward and borderline, humiliating way I lost my virginity embarrasses me not, but the book as a whole being judged a stink trap is almost more than I can take. 

For years this book sat mostly finished in a pile of paper that I would randomly relocate from office to car floorboard, to house, and finally back to office, for no reason other than it kept the dream alive.

On occasion, I would get questions from my husband or a good friend asking, "What's with that book you are always working on?" I would inform them,  "It's done."  Only to be shot in the face with the inevitable follow-up question: "And?" 

My emotional tap dance would start immediately and I would cycle through the five stages of book anguish:

First, Anger.  "And what?!  I wrote a book, what have you done today?  I mean, really!"

Second, Denial (of reality).  "I 'm working towards getting something done with it."  "I'm researching agents."  "It's a timing issue."

Third, Rationalization. "I really need someone who can help me edit."  "I'm just waiting on feedback from so and so." "I can't get an agent without a publisher, and I can't get an agent without being published!  It's a catch twenty-two, girlfriend!"

Fourth, Shame.  "I'm kind of scared cause it will probably fail and I can't handle failure in this area of my life."

And finally fifth, Acceptance.  "You're right.  I really gotta do something with the book."

I'm the worst kind of dreamer: I prefer the hope of a dream to any real possibility of success.  My rationale is, if you try and fail then the dream is dead.  Better to keep hope alive.  Now, I do and say a lot of things that call into question my mental health, but nothing says clinically insane like writing a book, longing to have people read it, and yet leaving it in a pile on your bedroom floor.  Because not releasing it into the wild wasn't really sustaining my hope, it was prolonging my agony.

The worst part was really cluing in to  my real issue: I'm an egomaniac.  If I'm not the best then I quit.  Better to put no book out there than to have one criticized or, even worse, ignored.  I can say I'm afraid people won't like it, but it's more like I'm afraid people won't love it, love it, love it!  I need addiction counseling for my need to be loved, praised, and deemed worthy by others.  Jeez Louise, was it a bummer to realize my ego was running amok.  Again.

Once I discovered my ego was the problem, I told myself to be open to criticism.  Then got I on to find a new book for my reading pleasure and  perused a few reviews.  Yikes!  People wrote things like, "Worst book ever!"  "I want my money and the time it took me to read this crap back!"  And worst of worst, "Not funny!"  Yowzza.

I said to my husband, people are really mean talking about these books and I don't think I could deal with that kind of criticism.  He rightly explained, then you can't be an author because no book is universally loved by all.  I hate it when he's the Zen master and I'm the grasshopper.

I decided I needed to consider my motivation for writing. Money?  That sure would be nice, but not the most important thing.  Fame?  I don't really want to be famous.  So, why write a story, especially one as personal as The Fat Rules?  Because I love to string together words into pithy little sentences.  To connect to others.  To make someone laugh, to make someone feel understood, to make someone feel connected to me through my writing, that's why.  And because I have stories to tell.  Nothing else matters.

So with the support and love of many friends, I self-published (how fast I gave up on finding an agent is another story) because I really could not have those piles of paper sitting around my house anymore!

And now I try to remember to write because I love it, not because I need to be loved.  But seriously, if someone calls my book "not funny", I'm going to die.  :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Fat Rules

You can get a free copy of The Fat Rules if you order today!

Get it now!

You Did What, to Your What?

Inevitably, when a group of women gather (whether they know each other or not) and libations are consumed, the talk turns to personal things like sex and vagina grooming. That's right, vagina grooming. Women love to compare their personal hygiene techniques like guys love to talk sports. And believe it or not grooming techniques vary widely.

I'm a retro girl, preferring a plain old razor to shave my legs and pits (and big toes if I'm being honest) to more radical methods of hair removal such as waxing and lasering.  I have lots of friends that wax unwanted hair, but dang, that hurts. Plus, that requires an appointment somewhere and that requires planning and more effort than I have to give.

Beyond waxing is the laser. I have one friend who has lasered her legs, her pits, and her prives. She likes to say she's bald from the eyebrows down. I know the laser hurts like a bitch because she told me so and she takes pain meds to endure it. My Lady Razor with triple blade action may be old fashioned, but I don't have to take pain meds to use it, thank you very much.

Years ago, like nearly twenty, my cousin invested in an Epilady. Remember those? It was basically a vibrator with a torture device attached to it that when passed over your legs would yank the hair out by the root. Man, did that thing work! It removed your hair plus your epidermis! What a bonus! As long as you didn't mind wearing bandages for two weeks or until you needed to use the Epiday again, it was a great hair/skin removal system. If you're interested, you can still get one at Target. Maybe they've improved.

The tending of the "lady garden" is always hotly debated. First, how much grooming should you do? All the way with a Brazillian? A partial, like a sideways mustache? Or maybe something more esoteric, like a happy face or dove of peace?

Second, how should you groom "down there" if you do intend to groom "down there"? I know a lot of people that wax their prives, but having heard them describe it I can't understand it. You're naked from the waist down? They put hot wax practically in your vag? Then rip all the hair off that most sensitive of areas? Oh, then they make you put your legs over your head so they can wax your back-vagina and ass crack? Say what?! No thank you! I'm not letting some stranger wade around in the lady swamp with hot wax and paper strips of death. Forget it.

Ditto on lasering "down there". Lasers are for blowing up planets and light shows at concerts, not vagina clean-up.

My personal preference would be to go au naturel down under.  But due to peer pressure and the fear my husband will think he married a wookie, I get rid of just enough to keep me from having hair shorts.  I mean, God put hair there for a reason, to keep out gnats and stuff so I'm just following God's plan.

I think all this painful hair removal is a form  of female self-loathing. Why else would you do such terrible things to your body? Vaginas unite! Give up your masochistic ways and join us sensible, lazy women who keep grooming in perspective. Let some hair grow where God put it! Except on your chest. You gotta get rid of that crap.

Can you tell which of these itmes is an anal probe and which is an Epilady? Well, they both hurt like hell.