Monthly Archives: March 2013

POWERFUL JUJU

Attractive girl with scissors

“I cut my bangs with some rusty kitchen scissors.” Those nine little words are the beginning of Miranda Lambert’s new hit song that snatch us into her story. Even if you hate country music, you listen because you have to know why a woman would do such a thing?

Now, let’s get personal. Think back to the last time you cut your own hair. Were you just trimming your bangs a few days ago or were you in a closet with your pretty locks in one hand and a pair of scissors made for hacking through construction paper in the other? And for God’s sake, why did you do it?

Changing your hair to change your life is powerful juju, but I never realized just how powerful until I sat in a roomful of women’s fiction authors at a New York pitch conference. Nineteen of us had come from all over the US to the Big Apple with our hopes and dreams and our manuscripts to sell. Of those, six of them had drastically changed their hair for the trip. Long to short, curls to straight, new colors, you name it, they believed that change would give that little extra oomph to sell their manuscript.

I suspect all of us do things to our hair for the same reason Zora Adams, the protagonist of The Wisdom of Hair did the day her father was buried. She was just nine years old then and was too young to know that she was changing her hair because she wanted change her life. When The Wisdom of Hair begins, Zora is a young woman and things at home are so bad, she’s contemplating shaving her head. But she puts the clippers down and does something braver than the change that comes with a new hairdo. She opts to leave home for beauty school and a chance at a better life. For the first time ever, Zora has real friends and a true BFF. Sure she has a hot romance with the wrong guy, but her friends help her sort things out and she finds her calling fixing hair and changing lives.

Okay, back to you. Now that you know you change your hair to change your life, what does that do for you? Since I realized this truth, it’s made me question my motives before I beg my stylist to go three shades lighter or for bangs. Again. But when I do get a new hairstyle, when I believe in the wisdom of hair, it makes the change that comes with that new hairdo all the more powerful and real. I hope it does the same for you.

At What Point Does Age Matter?

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Now I know this isn’t an advice column and I don’t want those reading this to feel like Dear Abby. However, everyone has an opinion about everything, whether the opinion is positive, negative, or neutral. You either feel strongly for an issue or against it or you feel it isn’t your place to say. I’m guessing every single one of you has some idea of how you would feel if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

As Tony Soprano says, “Enough with the preambles. Get on wit-it.” I love watching that guy. He makes me laugh. So…

My daughter is a freshman in high school. She’s fourteen years old. My son is eighteen and he’s a freshman in college. While he was in high school he was on the basketball team and all the guys hung out at our house for three years.

I’d always predicted one of these days one of his friends was going to like my son’s “little sister”. Well, that day has come. I think. The reason I’m not totally sure is because kids these days don’t communicate through the “normal” channel of talking to one another. This young man, who is currently a senior at her school, told her he likes her in a text. She told me she’s had a crush on him for while.

Now my daughter wants me to decide whether it’s okay for her to like him back. AACK!

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I talked to my son about this situation and though he thinks his friend is really a good guy, “morally” my son feels this dude is too old for our daughter.

My thoughts are: a senior’s expectations will be different than a freshman’s. Here I’m talking about S-E-X. My daughter isn’t interested in sex, she says. And if this young man is, she told me she’s going to tell him “no” and back out of the relationship if he doesn’t agree.

What do you think?

The Directionally Challenged Weathervane

weathervane1If you remember, last year I blogged about a new garden area we were designing. We spent the summer with a shovel in our hands, turning over the dirt, then built a small garden shed which we planned to let weather naturally so one day it would take on the appearance of those old buildings you see falling down around an old farm yard. This summer, we’ll work up the soil and fill the garden area around the shed with cedars and a variety of flowering bushes and plants.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

This winter, while we watched the snow fly and wondered if it would ever stop, we jumped online and ordered a weathervane from the Urban Nature Store.

Then my better half built a cupola, similar to the one on this site.

weathervane2Now while we wait for the snow to melt and the weather to warm, the weathervane and cupola sit just outside of the kitchen window on our deck.

Today during lunch, the wind howled and brought in colder weather along with some – soon to arrive – additional snow. Our lunchtime conversation eventually turned to the direction the weathervane was pointing in. The arrow pointed south, so I said that the wind was coming out of the north and blowing south.

Apparently, I’ve spent my entire life reading weathervanes incorrectly.

I always believed that the arrow on the weathervane pointed in the same direction as the wind was blowing. This makes perfect sense to me. After all, if you shoot a bow and arrow, the arrow flies arrow-first, right?

According to my better half and youngest son, the arrow on the weather vane points into the wind. While this makes absolutely no sense to me, I’ve decided that I’m not the one that’s directionally challenged this time (although if you remember this other post, you might choose to differ). Our weathervane is directionally challenged, pointing backwards in the wrong direction.

Am I the only one who believes the arrow on a weathervane points in the direction of the wind?

Why Can’t I Just Relax, Already?

Writing has changed the way I read books. In my case, the same can be said for parenting. The older my kids get, I’m less able to lose myself in a story.

Let me explain.photo

I’ve been reading a lot of young adult books recently. As a self-published author, I’m always checking out the bestselling SP titles. Frequently they are YA, or more specifically the recently crowned and much needed genre classification called New Adult. There’s a lot of S-E-X in these books that’s not appropriate for the younger YA crowd.

The good news is that I could easily converse with a population of girls more than half my age. The bad news is that I worry for our girls.

Let me preface this by saying I have a thirteen-year-old daughter, so the lens I view these books through isn’t exactly clear. I can’t help but read these books without worrying. Why worry, other than the S-E-X? I’ll summarize the plot of the majority I’ve read: innocent, virginal girl moves to a new high school or goes off to college and is suddenly discovered and appreciated by the campus bad boy. He’s slept with a million girls and no one can tame him but our innocent, virginal heroine. All the boys fall at her feet and all the girls want to be her best friend. I don’t mind a little fiction in my fiction, but the plethora of these stories has me scratching my head.

Why does this bother me so, especially since I’ve never considered myself a raging feminist?

All of our daughters are beautiful. Some more on the outside, some more on the inside, but they are all beautiful. All of them. Many times, these girls—our daughters—go unappreciated just like the girls in the books I’ve been reading. Is there always a boy who’s going to magically make them feel better about themselves? No, and why would we want these heroines—our daughters—to only find themselves worthy because some boy wakes up and realizes she’s wonderful?

I’ve been to college, and I was that innocent virgin. Did I find myself during those pivotal years? Yes! Did I find myself because the campus bad boy saw what every other boy I’d ever met couldn’t see? Heck no! I found myself. I discovered myself in the pages of the books I read, in the responsibilities I carried, and in the process of letting go of my childhood. As I came into my own, I met the man who was to become my husband. Was it love at first site? Nope, not even close for either one of us. Did I save him or did he save me? No. If we’d never met, I feel confident we both would have gone on to live happy, productive lives. I must add here, for the sake of my marriage, that our lives are infinitely better for having met and fallen in love.

It is my greatest wish for my daughter to find love with a man who appreciates every wonderful thing about her (even the not-so-wonderful things). Will this man have a tortured past, be (God help me) covered in tattoos, or come from a broken home? Maybe, but if he loves and appreciates my daughter, I won’t care. What I do care about is that before she pledges her love and her body to a man, she will truly appreciate the value of her love and her body and know what a gift she’s giving. And that man better appreciate and cherish the gift he’s receiving, because if he doesn’t, her father and I will be happy to tell him. For those of you lucky enough to know my daughter, you know I won’t have to—she’ll tell him all on her own. J

I don’t begrudge the authors of these books or the readers who devour them. Who doesn’t love a well-written good-girl saves bad-boy story? I know I can’t assume that all girls who read these books will believe there’s a bad boy out there who’s going to be the answer to her prayers. I read Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty when I was a young girl and I never expected a handsome young prince to ride up on his white horse and make me his princess. But somehow I can’t help but feel sad.

Perhaps this is what happens when someone who’s not a new adult reads books written for new adults. I’m too old to appreciate the genre. Phooey. I should have known it would boil down to this…

Whatcha Reading??

If you follow author Jill Shalvis’ Facebook page, you’ll know she asks that question at least once a week.  It always makes me feel inferior.  I mean the woman is a PROLIFIC writer.  A rock star!  She publishes at least four books a year.  What’s she doing reading?

Forgive me, I’m just cranky because I’m in the middle of a manuscript and I don’t have time to read the bock of a box of cereal.  Apparently, my productivity pales in comparison to Ms. Shalvis’.  Or, perhaps, she’s just torturing herself contemplating all the books she hasn’t read—just like me.  We’re like two chocoholics sniffing the wrapper of a Milky Way bar.

out of my mindI’ve read only two books so far this year, both were book club picks. The first was Sharon Draper’s Out OF My Mind.  This book was a light easy read, beautiful in its message.  It’s written in the first person, the story told by eleven-year-old Melody who has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. She’s by far the smartest kid in her whole school, only no one knows it.  Melody, you see, has cerebral palsy. The story deals with her struggle to communicate with her family and to “fit in” with the other kids at school.  The overall message is one we all should embrace: tolerance and inclusion.  I’m so glad I took the time to read this book.

billy LynnI read the February book club selection because I kind of had to:  it was my month to host and I chose the book:  Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.  I’m going to say it right now, I loved this book.  If my manuscript is late, I consider it well worth it to have been able to sift through the prose of Ben Fountain’s debut novel, already a finalist for the National Book Award.  It’s the story of nineteen-year-old Army Specialist Billy Lynn, and the eight surviving members of the celebrated Bravo Squad.  They are on leave from Iraq for an eight-day victory tour across the U.S. after surviving a harrowing firefight caught on film by none other than Fox News.  The book takes place over Bravo Company’s last twenty-four-hours stateside: Thanksgiving Day at a Dallas Cowboy’s football game, complete with Destiny’s Child as the half-time performers!

Mr. Fountain’s writing is brilliant; his descriptions very visceral. The men of Bravo Company are depicted eloquently both as the teenage boys that they still are and the men they’ve become as soldiers. The book also contains some wonderful commentary on society as a whole, complete with some unforgettable one-liners.  My favorite:  when he describes the trophy wives in the owner’s box as having “the pinched look of angry vegans.”  I. Love. That. Line!

So my TBR pile grows on my Kindle and beside my bed (including this month’s book club selection) as I trudge through the last half of a manuscript due the week after my first book comes out—I have to remind myself I wished for this.  So you see, I have serious reader envy.  But I’m going to ask anyway.

Go ahead.  Torture me.  Whatcha reading?

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