This girl is funny...not skinny.

This girl is funny...not skinny.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Not everything happens TO ME, especially this holiday season, but it's still funny.

Good morning!

So it's Christmas Eve Eve.  It's that weird day before the day before the day many of us have driven ourselves to madness over.  (My college creative writing prof would hate that sentence!)  My presents are wrapped.  My dough for the final round of baked goodies is currently chilling, and my house will smell fantastic in a couple hours.  I have gathering with work folk later this evening and much cleaning to do because people with cat allergies are braving my house.

But mostly today is quiet. I'm off work early...it's pouring rain...and my hands are in screaming pain thanks to the damp weather and the wearing off of the cortisone shot earlier this week.  (There was no wearing off. There was a cliff.  I felt no pain...and then fell off the cliff and now I have PAIN!)  The quiet gives me a little time to reflect on some of the fun I've had this holiday season.  I made a huge effort this year to look outside myself and try to give back, try to be more patient, try to see joy in even the small things. Big change from the endless case of everything rage I had last year, right?

I found myself seeing humor where I used to get angry. I found more energy to do things, instead of hiding on my couch the minute I got home from work.  And you know what?  This is a very, very funny world we live in. I have had a BLAST laughing in stores at over heard conversations and general silliness that last year would have sent me into a rant.  And I'd like to share some of this with you.

"And the benefits of exercise are what, again?"

Most of you know I joined a gym back in September and didn't use it until November. But since I'm out to prove P-Aaron the personal trainer wrong, Hubby and I have been dragging ourselves out of bed early every weekday morning and getting a good sweat going at the gym long before our brains and bodies have a chance to realize what we're doing and figure a way to stop us.  I've run into some interesting characters in the last few weeks, for sure.  But I have noticed that my body is a bit more sore lately, a fact I was sharing with Hubby last night. And here's how this went"

Me:  My lower back/upper butt is sore tonight.

Hubby:  Do stretches.

Me:  I know, I know.

Hubby:  See, you're sore from working out.  So you have to do stretches so you're not as sore.

Me: (Realizing this conversation is about to get silly)  So because I'm exercising now I have to...exercise more?

Hubby: (Perfectly straight face, not realizing we are in silliness now) Yes.

Me:  So exercising means more work for me then.

Hubby:  Yes.

Me:  So why bother with any of it?

Hubby:  So you feel better.

Me:  I feel lousy. I'm in pain.

Hubby:  But you're healthier.

Me:  Being in pain is healthier than not being in pain?

Hubby:  Sure.  It means you're working.

Me:  But before I wasn't working...and I wasn't in pain.

Hubby: Well it's cheaper anyway.

Me:  How? I wasn't paying for a gym before, now I am.  

Hubby:  On your healthcare.  You're healthier so you feel better so you have less healthcare.

Me:  But I feel like crap and you keep telling me to get all the stuff the hurts looked at.

End conversation. I think I won!


Senior citizens spell out new technology.

This conversation was overheard a couple weeks ago at a Blaines Farm and Fleet. I was in the Christmas aisle looking for ornaments when I heard two lovely old ladies discussing Christmas lights.

Old lady 1:  there, you want those.

Old lady 2:  What, those L. E. D. lights?

Old lady 1:  Yes,  But they're called LEEEEEEED lights.

Old lady2:  But it's spelled LED.

Old lady 1:  Right, but they're called LEEEEEEEEED lights. They burn cooler and brighter. LEEED lights.

Old Lady 2:  I'm so glad you're up on this stuff.

And cut to me stuffing Christmas stockings into my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.


How do you say, "Idiot" in Chinese?

Proof that I'm not the only one who runs into trouble at local big box stores, I got this story from the lovely lady at my favorite Chinese take out place. (Spring Garden on Delafield and East Moreland in Waukesha.  I don't know what they put in their Beef Chow Mei Fun, but it's AWESOME!)  Anyway, here's her story.

"I sent my father to Target last year two days before Black Friday. I wanted to find out if there was going to be a big sale on this one TV.  he came back after three hours, and he was very angry.  No one in the store would talk to him. They said they couldn't understand him and they told him to go away.  So I went to Target to ask the same question. My father told me I was wasting my time.  It took me a long time, but I finally got someone to stop and talk to me. I asked him about the deal on the TV.  I had heard there was going to be a big sale on this one TV, but I didn't have a flier.  He told me he didn't know anything about any sales on Black Friday, he only knew about prices today. (two days before) I asked if there was a flier around that he could find for me.  He said no, there were no fliers, there were never fliers with Black Friday prices and if I wanted to know what the sale was going to be on something I would have to come back on Black Friday."

Now, sure, this lady has a pretty heavy Chinese accent. Still, she speaks English correctly and slowly enough that I understood her. But I was cheered by the fact that I'm not the only one who gets ignored and talked down to at stores. I wonder how she does at pharmacies.


And finally, don't leave this up to the children!


Just before Thanksgiving I was in line at Hobby Lobby.  The lines there can be slow sometimes, and in this case I was behind a young mother who apparently was buying ALL of the boxes of ornaments in the store.  Her two young children, a boy and a girl, maybe 5 and 6, were amusing themselves at the rack of candy near the register.

Boy: Mom, can we have this?

Mom: No.

Girl:  Can we have this?

Mom: No

Boy:  How about this?

Mom: No.

At this point the children have built quite the little pile of candy on the floor, all of which mom has said no to.  I should note, the girl has a sucker in her mouth.

Mom:  Put the candy back. We have all kinds of candy at home from Halloween.

Boy:  But can't we have some candy now?"

Mom: When we get home, you can have a piece of Halloween candy.

Girl: So we can have this?  (She holds up a candy bar.)

Mom: NO. You can have a piece of candy from your Halloween candy.

Boy:  Okay, so can I this?  (He holds up a candy bar)

Mom:  (Looking at the children for the first time.) NO. Put that away. You can have candy from your Halloween bags when we get home.

Boy to girl:  So what should we have?

Girl:  I don't know.  

Boy:  I think I want chocolate.

Girl: how about if I pick out your piece and you pick out mine?

Boy:  No.  You'll just pick out a big piece for you and a little one for me.

Girl:  No I won't.

Boy:  Yes you will.

Mom:  I'm almost done here.  (No she's not. She's got like ten more boxes of ornaments.)  Come stand by me.

Boy:  But wait, I want to look at one thing.  (He touches a bag of candy on the display)  Can I have this?

Mom:  I told you ten times, no.  You can have one piece of your Halloween candy when we get home.

Girl: but he wants chocolate.  (But he's pointing to Skittles.)

Boy: Yeah, I want chocolate, like these coins. (He starts poking at a bag of chocolate coins...which are not as securely in the bag as they should be...and which fall to the floor.)

Mom:  PICK THOSE UP!

Boy:  Can we get them?

Girl:  Yes, can we?  I haven't had candy in a long time!  (Her sucker isn't even half gone.)

Mom:  No, pick that up, and come on!  ( She leaves half a dozen boxes on the counter and stomps out of the store.)

Ah yes, the holidays....

So my friends, as you make your way through the next few days, try and find some joy in your holidays...and if you can't, try and find something to laugh at. Because humor is all around us, even this time of the year!

My Christmas PSA to you: Five holiday movies that get it right.

Merry Christmas to all!

And if you celebrate something other than Christmas, then happy holidays to you!

Today I'm rerunning one of my favorite (and yours) holiday posts.  Not because I'm too lazy to write a new one, that's coming, but because once the presents are opened, the food is eaten and the carols are sung, what's really left of your Christmas celebration?  I'll tell you what...staring at relatives.  So this post is to help alleviate that uncomfortable time of "well now what?" at your Christmas gathering!  



It's the holiday season, and regardless of what you celebrate, this is the time of year when everyone loses their minds.  Need proof?  Head on over to 1029thehog and listen to Bob and Brianread their listener's holiday horror stories.

Personally, this is the time of year when I really just want to sit in my comfy chair, stair at the Christmas Tree and watch holiday movies.  I'm not going to be allowed to do that because, you know, work holiday parties, family holiday parties, extra church services, social gatherings,  all of that.  And oh yeah, get the novel in some sort of shape so that I have a prayer of getting it out before the end of 2015.  LOL!

You can lose yourself in holiday classics that "It's a Wonderful Life" or "White Christmas"  (My favorite of all time.)  Or maybe you like the funny family fantasies like "Elf" or "The Santa Claus" films. But there's a whole genre of holiday films that look at the other side of this time of year...the darker side of things, and they are hilarious, heartbreaking, and spot on truthful.  These are my top five favorite because I identify so completely with what's going on.

5) Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Based on a very short, not read enough novel by John Grisham (Skipping Christmas), "Kranks" looks at Christmas from a different point of view:  That of a man who has ceased to understand the point of all the traditions and MONEY shelled out for the holiday when all he really wants to do is spend time with his wife.  But hey, it's the holidays and there is no law in the land stronger than the bind chain of traditions.  Frantic, non stop, hilarious and touching.  Sure, the book is better...but not by much.
  
4)  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. (1987)

This is a Thanksgiving movie...sort of.  Steve Martin, John Candy team up for the buddy road trip picture gone horribly, horribly wrong.  Written and directed by the late, great John Hughes, this one hits all the marks in hellish American travel.  While the
technology might not hold up...much of the problems could be solved today with a smart phone, the frustrated panic that is a natural by product of holiday travel is spot on and eternal.

3) Home Alone (1990)

I know, I know.  Everyone loves this film.  Yes, well, take away the cute kid battling stupid thieves and what do you still have?  That's right...you still have a horrifying amount of family dysfunction and holiday travel.  Again, written by John Hughes, which means it's going to be awesome, and directed by Chris Columbus, which means it's going to be very pretty, "Home Alone" gets it so right in so many ways when it comes to big families, airports, holiday travel, creepy neighbors, and skeevy Santas.  

2)  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

I'm going to argue that this is the best movie in the Vacation collection.  Clark Griswold, determined
to have the PERFECT Christmas?  Both sets of grandparents visiting?  Crazy relatives?  Too many Christmas lights? (As if there is something like that.)  And, of course, the stress of waiting for a work bonus that may, or may not show up.  Any Christmas party that involves chain saws and police is going to be winner.

1)  Home for the Holidays (1995)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, and I'll say it until I die...this is the best holiday movie ever made.  Sure, it's technically a Thanksgiving movie.  But for any of us who have had to go home for the holidays...and live under our parents' roof for
more than ten hours while we're still trying to keep a grip on our own lives as they spin...we know.  We just know.

One movie I wanted to add to the list, but simply can't, thanks to TBS's 24 hour run every Christmas Day..."Christmas Story."  There is so much very, very right about that movie, from the cursing father to the frazzled mother to the younger brother who won't eat...it's a classic, but unfortunately is so omnipresent in the US that to put it on any
list with would seem pointless because we are all going to tune in on Christmas Day and just let it run all day.  We know we are, don't deny it.  
So that's my list of must see movies.  Oh sure, I'll pop in "White Christmas" because it's beautiful and the music is great and I spend days this time of year humming "Sisters."  But when I need to know there are others who feel the way I do when it comes to the insanity of the holidays, these are the films I find hilarious and comforting.


(ALSO, just in case you're looking for more movies, my fellow author, Linda Schmalz, and I have just released our first in a series of movie review books!  


Available in paper back now on Amazon, and coming soon as an e-book!)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Five for Friday: Things I've noticed at Xperience Fitness

Good afternoon all!

So, I've had a membership to Xperience Fitness since September 1, but I've only just really started using it in the last four weeks. In that amount of time, I've observed a few things...now, not all these things are singular to Xperience Fitness, some are, some aren't.  But here we go:


5)  The movie theater is COLD!

Like Gold's Gym, Xperience has a cardio cinema.  Unlike Gold's, there are no treadmills in there so I can enjoy a leisurely stroll while viewing some PG-13 family flick from the 90's.  Nope, it's all ellipticals and bikes and you'd best be moving because otherwise you're get frostbite. It is at least 15 degrees colder in there than it is in the main gym.  It's also pretty removed from the rest of the gym, and there's an actual door there so the casual movie watcher (or personal trainer who has nothing else better to do) can't just lean against the wall.

4) There's a bike on the second floor....just for me!

Since I've had my Fit Bit, I've been very aware of how many flights of stairs I climb every day.  I don't get nearly the flights on a treadmill I do on a sidewalk...even though I do use the "rolling hills" program, so I'm always looking for ways to add to my flights of stairs. So thank you, Xperience...for putting two stationary bikes on the second floor, overlooking the rest of the main workout area.  Not only can I get my sweat on in relative privacy (even though most people are looking up, they're looking at the multiple banks of televisions suspended from the ceiling.) I can also feel like a true Princess, riding on a tall horse, overlooking her kingdom.  And I get one flight of stairs.

3)  It doesn't smell when  it's busy.

I've had memberships at several different clubs, Golds, Wisconsin Athletic, Curves (and I'm not thin why?) and all of them had one thing in common: If they were full, they were funky.  I workout usually between 6:15 and 7:15 on weekdays. It gets pretty busy in there, but it's never smelled like anything but a very clean space.  There are spray bottles of cleaner and paper towel dispensers everywhere, and everyone is pretty good about wiping down their machines after they are done.  (Except for yellow noise cancelling headphones old man. That guy NEVER wipes down his machines.  I made the mistake of following him through the weight resistance circuit earlier this week...yuck!)

2)  Some skinny hag is always leaving the scale set to 101.

Why?  No, I know why.  Hey if I weighed 101, heck if I weighed 201, I'd leave the scale right there. I'd probably drag people over to it and say, "LOOK!  That's my weight!  LOOK how thin I am!"  This is not something I've just noticed at Xperience...it's at all gyms. Some underfed lightweight weighs herself and then leaves it set to her weight so that the rest of us (and I like the mix of underfeds and fluffies there in the AM) can sit there and say, "Well, I'm going to have to move that weight thing way past that number....nope, not feelin' it."  We get it. You're skinny.  Stop advertising.  You don't see me announcing how I always smell coffee fresh because I still have grounds in my shoes, do you?  No.  Stop it. Weigh yourself if you must, you dainty hummingbird of a human, and then push the weight thingy back to zero.  Oh, wait, unless you're not strong enough to do that?

1)  The stair climber machines are always busy...and everyone looks like they're miserable on them.

I don't know what sick, demented, jackwagon invented the stair climber, but he...oh it's definitely a he...it's probably the same guy who invented high heels with pointy toes and then insisted women's ankles look thin and magical in them...must be stopped.  Xperience has three or four of these things and they are always in use.  Sure, I tried one.  I thought, hey, great way to get my stairs in. 

Nope. Not for me.

It looks like some sort of escalator, but it feels more like you have to push the stairs down in order for them to move. You're not climbing stairs, you're doing battle with the machine. Chances are, based on my one minute, yep one whole minute, on the thing, if I didn't push DOWN, the stairs might just fly UP and attack some poor sot on the stationary bike in front of me.

And here's the thing:  Those stair climbers are always busy and everyone...EVERYONE looks miserable on them.  Most of the people I've watched using them (while I'm up on my second floor bike, pedaling away and watching everyone working out) wear a hoodie and have the hood up, covering their faces. I can only guess this is because if we saw their expression, we'd think they were possessed and call for a priest or something.  

The few people who don't cover their faces look almost worse.  And I swear I heard one guy chanting to his deity of choice, "let me live, let me live, let me live."

Maybe stair climbing is some sort of penitence for a religion I'm not familiar with. Either way, I feel sorry for those folks, those stair climber faithful.  Glad my God isn't all about the calves.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

What...where do you keep your coffee grounds?

Good afternoon!

Well, it's really starting to look like the holidays around here.  We have our Christmas lights up, as do two other houses on our side of the block:  The mean hoarders, who don't actually put lights up on the outside of the house, but do have four table top Christmas trees well lit in their front window, and ramp guy down the street who must own shares in twinkle lights because he has lights and inflatable decorations and all sorts of greatness on his yard for all the holidays.  We do have a new comer, ramp guy's neighbors, who have taken a stab at decorating, and I give them props for that.  As for the rest of our side of the street for half a mile in either direction...putting a single light bulb in your window does NOT constitute holiday lights.  

Anyway....

Those of you who know me know a couple things:  1) I do enjoy more than my fair share of coffee and 2) I am not graceful most of the time and I'm a complete disaster early in the morning.  Those of you who don't know me...now you know that.

Hubby and I have developed a bit of a morning ritual the last couple weeks. I get up, jump into my workout clothes, which I have lying on the bathroom floor so that I can get dressed without having to look for anything, and then I wait for him to get ready...one of us is really concerned about combing his hair and brushing his teeth and being all perky looking and what not.  The other one is me...sitting there, saying, "Let's go. If my body realizes I'm up and moving at this hour it's going to revolt."

I thought I'd try and help Hubby trim his prep time for the gym by making the coffee and getting that going so that there would be the aroma of hot, steamy bliss when we got back from our work out at Xperience Fitness.  

Tuesday I emptied the coffee maker from the day before and cleaned it. I found the liner and filled the water.  Then I looked for the coffee itself.  

We. Were. Out.

Before you panic, no, we weren't actually OUT out of coffee...we were just out of ground coffee. Hubby likes to grind his own beans (that's a funny think to say) from time to time, so there were several bags of whole beans there.  I've never operated the coffee grinder. Here's a tip:  The time to start is NOT before 6:30 AM on a Tuesday.

I assembled the grinder and plugged it in.  Then I put the beams in the grinder. Then I poured half the beans back into the bag because I'd put way too many in the grinder. Then I pushed down there the arrow pointed. Nothing.

I tried again. Nothing.

Now, I've operated small kitchen appliances before. No, really, I have.  I was not about to let this thing get in the way of my coffee.  And besides, Hubby was still combing his hair for the gym.  (If you saw how short his hair is, you'd sort of wonder why it was taking more than four seconds.  Ad then you'd wonder whom he was trying to impress at the gym.  I've seen those people, It's all old men and women who look a lot like me.)  Anyway, I jiggled things around a bit and wonder of wonders, I was GRINDING coffee beans!

Ah, the aroma!  Ah, the feeling of dominating yet another machine!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I opened the top of the grinder, my morning clumsiness took over and I exerted far too much force on the top of the grinder.  The lid fell off onto the counter and the freshly pulverized grounds were free to fly about the room.  Most of them decided to fly into my open gym bag, located on the kitchen floor.  

I won't tell you what I said.  I will tell you most of the words that fell out of my face at that point were blue and had four letters.

So there I was, holding the bottom half of the grinder, the air full of the smell of freshly ground coffee, staring at my gym bag which was now home to two-thirds' cup of black and tan coffee.

And there was no coffee brewing.

Exhausted from all the swearing, but undaunted, I picked up the pieces and ground more beans. This time I was able to get them safely to the coffee maker.  As I turned the button to "brew" hubby came down the hall, really to go to the gym.  "What happened here?" he asked, watching me dump black dust out of my gym bag.

"I was doing something NICE!"  I growled.

We got into the car and went to the gym.  Because it's winter now, we have to have a change of shoes with us to use on the equipment. I carry mine indoor shoes in my gym bag.  Do you see where this is going?

Yes, as I sat on the bench, attempting to stay out of the puddles left by the early morning swimmers, I realized I had a goodly amount of dry coffee in my workout shoes.  I couldn't dump them on the floor, I didn't want to walk across the room to the garbage can and dump them out (I mean, I was at the gym...I had a work out to get to. I couldn't spend time WALKING) so I dumped what I could into my bag and put on my shoes.

That was Tuesday.

Funny thing about sand/gravel/coffee in your shoes: you never really, truly get that out. If you wear your shoes to the beach you know you're going to have sand in them forever.  The same is true, apparently, in this case. It's Thursday.  I've been to the gym twice since Tuesday morning and I still have coffee in my shoe.  And each morning I leave a little coffee on the floor of the locker room.  I don't know of the nice lady who cleans the locker rooms wonders where the coffee comes from, or if she doesn't even notice.

I like to think I've given her something to ponder during the day.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Let's keep the CRABBY out of Christmas and see what happens.

Good morning!

I know, I've been away a while. I'm not saying nothing funny happened while I was not blogging. I'm saying after I released  "Missing in Manitowoc"  I spent some quality time on my couch binge watching "Scrubs."  

I'm back now and I have to say, I've noticed a few things, now that we're in December and it's a holiday season for pretty much everyone...

We are a crabby bunch.



I don't know how it is in other countries, but here in the US it really seems like the minute they start playing, "It's the most Wonderful Time of the Year" on the radio, we all get crabby and by the time we get to the month of December, getting in your car and going someplace feels a lot like being a participant in "The Hunger Games."

Case in point:  Earlier this week I ran to Woodman's, our fantastic grocery store, to pick up a few things.  I tend to go right after work, at about 1 in the afternoon, because it's a little less crowded and as you all know I don't do well in lines at stores.  I picked up my few things, along with one of those bags of food they sell for $6 to help the hungry. Seriously, let me through down this challenge:  It's $6.  I challenge everyone who shops at a Woodman's  (That would be a lot of people in Wisconsin anyway) to pick up one of those bags every time you go to the store.  It's $6.  You're going to spend that much on wine and beer and you no you are...don't deny it...it's the holidays and we all drink our body weight in wine and beer and vodka slush just to get through the endless stream of parties and family gatherings.  So everyone who shops at Woodman's, every time you go in, pick up one of those bags and do something nice for another family this season.  And if you don't live in Wisconsin then I challenge you to add $6 worth of non perishable items to your cart every time you go to the store and put that in the bins they have there for your local food pantry.  They have them there.  Do it!  And while you're at it, those bell ringers?  Give them a buck. Every time.  So that's $7.  Not even the price of a movie ticket.  Pretty much the price of a venti Starbucks anything.  You don't blink twice at those purchases...do this.  For the poor, for the needy, and for your own peace of mind this holiday season. You have no idea how great it makes you feel to put food in the bin or toss a buck in that red bucket.

Where was I?

Oh, right, so I'm at Woodman's, and I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy because I bought a meal for the needy and put a buck in the bucket. That's when I decided to do something nice for my husband, who was on vacation this week, but had to tie up a few loose ends on Tuesday so he spent the morning at his desk.  I was going to pick up lunch for us both at Culvers. I was craving a cranberry bacon blue salad and he wanted a chicken sandwich.  Since Culvers shares a parking lot with Woodman's this was a no brainer.

This is the part of the story that gets complicated, so stay with me.  

I pull forward out of my spot, (I always park in a way so that I don't have to back up) and I start driving. The parking lot is loaded with stop signs.I stop for the first one, then make a left. I stop for the second one, which is a four way stop. I wait  my turn, and I go, except the person to the left of me thought it was his turn and nearly hit me.  To be honest, the guy to the left of me barely slowed down for the stop sign and apparently didn't see me making my turn as he was in the process of blazing through the intersection.  his response?  he honked at me and flipped me the one finger salute.

Okay, well, maybe he missed the sign and thought he had the right of way...no problem...no one got hurt.

The I come to another stop sign, another four way stop. I wait my turn. In fact, I'm halfway into the intersection when a woman in a mini van flies up to the stop sign and looks like she was just going to whip around the corner when she saw me at the last minute and had to slam on the breaks.  As I drive past her, I can read her lips.  If I repeated what she was saying my mother would come over here and wash my mouth out with soap.  

So now I'm in front of Miss Mouth and it's very clear we are both headed to Culvers.  It's also very clear to me that her mission, her one goal in life, is to get there before me. She's weaving around behind me, trying to figure out a way to get around me.  This is all happening in a the span of about 150 yards.  We get to the Culvers, and there are two entries to the lot.  I signal to turn right into the first entry, but at the last moment I have to not make the turn because a supply truck barrels forward, taking up the entire entry.  While I was signalling my right turn, Ms. Mouth was swerving left to get around me and get into the next entry, but when I didn't turn she nearly rammed into my drivers side.  And there are more readable comments.

I drive another 15 feet to the next entry and turn in. Ms. Mouth does as well, only she then makes a hard right to get around the parked cars on the far side and get into the drive through lane. I make a left to follow the arrows to the drive through, but in doing so I must drive in the lane between parked cars.  And that's when car #3 decides to back out, very nearly into me.  I'm moving at about 4 miles per hour at this point because I've almost been hit three times by two cars, and this guy backs out of his space Steve McQueen style. I hit the brakes inches from him and I wait.

I can't back up because there's someone behind me.  I can't go forward because McQueen Wannabe is at an angle in front of me.  So I wait.  McQueen Wannabe is looking at me, cussing so hard the air in his vehicle is actually turning blue.  I smile and say, "Try using your mirrors next time. Oh, and I can't move so you're going to have to straighten out and drive slowly like a normal human person."

It takes some moments for him to figure out how to undo what he's done.  Meanwhile. the person behind me is honking and the woman in the minivan has driven by me, with a triumphant one finger salute in my direction.

Geez, all I wanted was a salad.

By the time I get my salad and hubby's lunch I'm crabby and exhausted and I have to lie down.

So my point is this:  how about we try a little patience and tenderness this holiday season?  It doesn't matter what religion you
are, what skin color you have, what age you are, what your medical status is, none of  that matters.  Take things slowly. help someone you don't know with something, no matter how small.  Shovel your neighbor's front walk, not because you know they're going to wait until fifty people have crushed the snow and then they'll just dump a pile of salt on it and it'll make the whole block look terrible, but because it's a nice thing to do, you're out there, and what, it's going to take you an extra five minutes.  Buy food for the food pantry. Donate a new toy to a toy drive.  And maybe, when you're in a parking lot, chill out.  Culvers isn't going to run out of anything...and it's unlikely that if you get someplace 15 seconds before I do that your life is going to be measurably better.

And maybe let's stop looking for reasons to be upset. Starbucks red cups?  Really?  This is how we're going to celebrate the high point of the religious and secular year?  By getting all up in arms about a red cup, and by getting up in arms about people who are upset by a red cup?  How about if, instead, we buy a beverage in one of those red cups for the guy behind us in the drive through and see how that feels? There are real problems in this world people.  Red cups are not one of them.  Maybe I can't change the planet with my little blog here, but I tell you what I do sometimes to make someone else's day, and it makes my day brighter, too.


Peace on earth, my friends, goodwill and less finger flipping to all.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Look out X-perience Fitness...if I don't cancel my membership, you may find yourselves down one trainer.

Good afternoon!

I'm fluffy. I'm overweight. I'm heavy. I'm plump. I'm fat.

I'm well aware of my problem in this department and if you've been to this blog more than once, so are you.  I've battled weight much of my life, but once the second baby came my body sort of gave up so, in spite of my efforts in the last ten years I've managed to make sizable gains in the weight department.  I know this. No one has to point it out. I have eyes, I can see myself in mirrors and pictures and I know what pants size I'm wearing.

This year I decided I wasn't going to worry so much about every little thing I put into my mouth. Instead, I was going to make a concerted effort to exercise every single day.  I was going to enter and complete a walking 5K.  I was going to do my best to drink more water and less soda, and to eat healthier foods. If I lost weight, yay. If not, well at least I was trying to take better care of myself.

I've been taking 30 minutes walks every single morning for the last couple months. Rain or shine, I get up at 6 ish and go outside and walk up and down hills.  It's getting a bit cold for that now, and soon there will be snow. Which is why back in September I got a gym membership for myself because I didn't want to lose my every day exercise, but I knew there would come a day when it wasn't going to be smart to go outside.

Now admittedly, most people who get a gym membership are super gung ho the first couple months and then give it up.  I'm the
opposite. I joined X-perience fitness before they were in their permanent digs.  Got a membership for the whole family and it's cheap enough ($10 for hubby and me, $20 each for the kids because they want to go in the super late hours of the night) that it's a nice option to have when I can't use the sidewalks of my neighborhoods. Plus, I think a little resistance training is a good idea and I like swimming.

I'm telling you all this to give you an idea of the fact that I'm actually doing what I set out to do in January. I did the 5K.  I exercise every day. Thanks to my Fit Bit I make sure I'm getting 10-12K steps in every day...real steps, not cheaters, like some people think I do.  (Hey, just because I know how to cheat the Fit Bit doesn't mean I do it.)  Plus I make sure I get more than half an hour every day of actual, sweat producing exercise.  I haven't been to a McDonald's, A Wendy's, A Burger King, or an Arby's all of 2015 and my bread consumption is way down.  

So when X-Perience Fitness called a couple weeks ago and told me that since it's my birthday they wanted to give me a free meeting with a personal trainer I thought, hey why not?  Why not talk to someone and see if I'm on the right track?  And sure, maybe the trainer would give me a tour of the place since I hadn't been there yet and I was eager to start working out there during the winter months.

So I went in to meet the trainer. I got a young fellow, and we're going to call him P-Aaron.  (I have a friend from college who, if she's reading this is dying of laughter right now.)

P-Aaron and I spent a lovely time chatting about my goals and my weight and my habits and what I've been doing.  Then he said, "Well, let's weigh you and see where we are."

Now, this isn't my first gym.  If you recall, at Gold's I managed to get Crumb-Blowing Steve fired for his bad personal trainer habits. And I really liked KRAM who told me my work out clothes weighted 2 pounds and not one ounce more...but he always let me weigh myself without my shoes.

P-Aaron falls closer to the Crumb-Blowing Steve end of the scale.

I was wearing a coat...pants...shoes...and my purse.  AND the scale he put me on was NOT a scientific gym scale...it looked like the one I have in my bathroom.  He didn't tell me to take anything off, so I stepped and the scale as is...and look there, I was three pounds heavier than I told him I was.

(Yeah, and I was wearing about six pounds of "not me.")

So P-Aaron says to me, "Well, I guess all that walking you're doing isn't working is it?"

All I had to do was knock him down and sit on him and he'd no longer be a threat to women of a certain size anymore.

But I didn't. Instead, I let him walk me around one part of the gym.  I asked for a tour. He said, "Oh, you haven't been here before?"  I said no.  He pointed to a door and said, "That's the pool."  That was it. That was my tour.

Anyway, so he takes me to one spot and says, "Now I'm going to have you squat ten times for me."

I do it because I'm a good girl and I'm here to please.  And he's all but destroyed my self esteem with the weigh in.  When I finish he says, "Well, your form is terrible, but at least you did a couple right."

Didn't tell me what about my form was wrong.  Very helpful.

Then he took me to some weight resistance machines.  The first one is an arm pulling machine, which I'm quite good at. He puts 45 pounds on it and asks me to do ten reps. I do it.  He says, "Well, your form is bad, but you did it."

Then he takes me to another machine, an arm pushing machine.  He loads 65 pounds on it and tells me to do ten reps.  This about kills me.   I say to him, "This really is hurting me." He is suddenly quite interested in the television above my head.  By the time I was done with ten reps, which I did to spite him and I was in tears at the end, he says, "What's wrong?  You don't look so good."

I was actually dizzy when I stood up.  The arthritis pain in my hands, which I told him about multiple times, flared up worse than it's been in several months.  

We went back to his desk where he informed me we would now be meeting with another guy, whose name I forget, and it doesn't matter, let's call him Zak.  Zak was the Fitness Manager.

Zak was the sales closer.

I should explain. When I joined X-perience Fitness, I was told the history...the owners had been franchise owners in Gold's Gym, but didn't like the high pressure sales tactics so they went out on their own to a low pressure low cost gym where everyone could work out in an encouraging environment.

Then I met P-Aaron and Zak.

They sat on either side of me in a very small cubicle. I was still reeling from the pain in my hands.  P-Aaron told Zak everything we talked about...with his own spin.

Sarah wants to lose 70 pounds in six months.  (I never said that. I said I wanted to shop in the normal sized women's department and I was thinking about going on a vacation this spring.)

Sarah wants to be fit and run races.  (Nope, never said that. Said I'd like to try another 5K and maybe jog part of it this time.)

They talked over me for a few more minutes and then Zak picked up a notebook and said to me, "I'm going to talk to you about what P-Aaron has prescribed for you."

Wait, PRESCRIBED?  Like some doctor of fitness?  This 20 year old dim wit who didn't know enough to tell me to take off my coat and shoes when he weighed me is now a doctor who prescribes things?

After that I floated into a flashback of the last time I had a Kirby sales guy in my house. It was years ago.  The young guy came in under the guise of free carpet cleaning that turned into two hours of him telling me, and I quote, "If you loved your children you wouldn't make them live in this filth,you would buy the Kirby."  And then, after being in my house for three hour and NOT cleaning my carpet, he had his manager come in because she "just happened to be in the neighborhood and this was his first week and she needed to see how he was doing."  

Not my first time with a Kirby guy and I knew how that was going to go. Manager was the closer.  The high pressure person.  I'd been through this before.  The pair was in my house for about another fifteen minutes when my husband informed them they had to leave. They then spent the next half hour outside our house (on the sidewalk, which was about twelve feet from our bedroom windows, which were open) arguing with each other about why we didn't buy the Kirby.

Zak spent time showing me pages of dollar amounts. It seems P-Aaron felt that if I wanted to lose 70 pounds in 6 months, I would have to meet with him twice a week at minimum for the next several months.  And that would cost a low low amount of...

$504.00

Let me put this into perspective. I'm paying $60 a month for a gym membership so I have someplace to go when it's too cold to walk outside. I have a treadmill at home, but sometimes a girl likes to leave the house.  I didn't get gym memberships for the four of us so I could pay another $504 a MONTH to a guy who was only marginally better at his job that the guy I got fired.

I told them both I enjoyed their company, but I wasn't going to be paying $504 a month for a trainer.

That's when it got ugly.  Zak said things like, "But this is what P-Aaron prescribed" and "Don't you want to be healthy?"  and "You can TOO afford this."

I put my foot down. and I put my other foot down.  I said, "I came here for a talk about health and a tour of the place. I got neither. You two were clearly Kirby sales people in a former life."

"No, I've never sold Kirbys," Zak tells me, "What we sell actually works.  You should try it."

Nope, not going to happen. 

And then, in a move that felt both insulting and ridiculous, Zak informed P-Aaron that he needed to walk me to the door. First of all, I knew where the door was, second, I AM a member of the gym, I can come and go as I please.  But no, there was one last thing they needed to try and do...

P-Aaron walked me to a rack of protein powders and supplements.  "If you won't take the training I've prescribed you, at least you need to take supplements and you need more protein in your diet."

How would he know?  We didn't talk about food.  We talked about exercise and weight and Oprah.  We didn't talk about food.

After much discussion I finally broke down and bought a bottle of Vitamin D because it's probably a good idea for me to take it anyway.  P-Aaron set and appointment with me to follow up...that's supposed to happen next week. 

I think I won't make that appointment. I think instead I'm going to write a strongly worded letter to the X-perience Fitness corporate office and tell them that their sales tactics are worse than Gold's. At least Crumb-Blowing Steve never mocked my weight loss efforts.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sarah went to a concert...and this happened.




Good evening all!

As many of you know, I tend to have mishaps where ever I go, but especially when I go to concerts.  And as many of you know, in the last several years I've seen one musician over and over again, and that's my favorite of all, Rick Springfield.  

For reasons I don't understand, the last several Rick Springfield concerts have involved great music, yes, but also bad, bad, BAD behavior on the part of the fans, most specifically, fans sitting directly behind me.  In Wisconsin Dells, I sat in front of the WORST PERSON ON THE WORLD, who managed to dump her gigantic adult beverage so completely, the crippled woman sitting next to me had to get up, struggle to the bathroom with use of her canes, and try and clean herself up. and the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD'S drink was large enough that not only did she douse a handicapped lady who then had to miss a good chunk of the concert, she got my feet and the feet of about six rows in front of us soaking wet with a combination rum and coke, heavy on the rum.  

A few months later, I saw Rick in Madison doing a stripped down version of his show. No wild drinking and general naughtiness, right?  Wrong. Again, the woman behind me, a woman who didn't get taken out much (by her own drunken admission) managed to howl and hoot through much of the quiet storytelling, and yes, did spill her wine which hit my shoes.

I've been to Rick shows in Milwaukee where security had to be called on a woman in the balcony who simply would NOT LET GO of Rick.

Then of course, there was the Summerfest debacle two summers ago where the Rick fans took up the first eight rows of seats at about noon for a 10 PM show and got pretty surly throughout the day. By the time the last band before Rick came up, one of the Rick fans decided it would be big fun to pick a fight with the bass player in the band to the point where the bass player informed the fans that he was done and the "expletive guy in the front" could come up and finish the set.

And, let's not forget Red, the woman from Memphis who came to Nashville to see Rick. She and her husband sat across the table from up and she drank her body weight in mixed drinks and champagne.  She managed to rouse herself for Rick's older, more familiar tunes, but passed out during his new songs. It was fun watching her try to climb onto a wobbly folding chair and, finally, her husband had to fireman carry her out of the building.

I've been to meet and greets for Rick where some of the women, disappointed that they couldn't meet him (because they got there too late and it was a very strictly limited event, WHICH THEY KNEW) discussed doing bodily harm to Mrs. Rick because they figured she was the one denying them their GOD GIVEN RIGHT to meet him.

Sorta makes the fact that I wrote a romance featuring a Rick-like character seem a little less nuts, doesn't it?  

Now, I'm telling you this because I was pretty much under the impression that this was how people of my age group behaved at concerts featuring hit makers of the 80's.  I assumed general drunken howling and disregard for others was the norm. It embarrassed me, to the point where I actually did give up Rick tickets this summer.  I was supposed to go see him perform at a large wine tasting event.  I don't have good luck when alcohol is just served at a concert. When it shares billing with the musician...I'm starting to run out of shoes that don't smell like rum and coke. (And sure, it was also my parent's anniversary, but honestly, I was starting to fear concert goers.)

(THIS IS NOT A REFLECTION ON RICK SPRINGFIELD HIMSELF WHO IS A LOVELY PERSON BASED ON THE FEW TIMES I'VE MET HIM, AND A WONDERFUL PERFORMER. I LOVE HIS MUSIC.)

((It's just some of his fans might need an hour or two with 'Miss Manners.))

Anyway, a couple months ago my husband asked that we get tickets to go see Colin Hay.  For those of you who don't know, Colin Hay was the front man for the 80's mega group "Men at Work."  It was my surprise when my husband shared with me recently that he was a big fan of the group.  Hard to tell, what with me dragging him to all these Rick shows in the last few years, just what kind of music the poor guy likes.  But Colin Hay has pretty much gone out on his own in the last several years, he's released a number of albums of really solid sort of semi mellow folk pop music that tends to stick in my head.
 And hey, I never know what to get hubby for his birthday, so sure, I got the tickets.

The concert was this past weekend, on Halloween, in Madison, in the same theater where I saw Rick with the stripped down show and got wine dumped on me by "never goes out lady."  I considered, since it was Halloween and all, wearing a rain coat. I mean, if my shoes got soaked on a Thursday night, how bad was the alcohol rain going to be on a Saturday night and Halloween on top of it?

We got to the Theater, (the Barrymore Theater in Madison, WI, if you have a chance to see something there, go. It's a blast.)  and got our seats.  We ran into friends of ours from church who were with a couple who'd been to several of Colin's concerts, so we got the low down that there would probably be a meet and greet after.  I was pretty jazzed. I know how these things go. It's a cattle line of 400 women, all inebriated, all grousing at how long it's taking to see him, and all very certain they are the one he's going to love.

Pressure was off of me. While I enjoy Men at Work and Colin' Hay's work, I'm not a fanatic.  But Hubby bought an album and wanted to meet him, so I was prepared to knock people down to get to the front of the line. Because...you know...that's how it works.

The concert was amazing.  Colin Hay is hilarious, fowl mouthed, but not raunchy. He's just funny, and super talented, and we had a wonderful time listening to his stories.  The couple behind us,
dressed as superheroes, did not hoot and howl, in fact, no one did, everyone was perfectly well behaved. Except for one guy in the front who fancied himself Colin's best friend EVER and kept making suggestions to Colin as to how to make the concert better.  

That got old. 

But for the most part everyone was cheering, singing, and enjoying a lovely night of stories and acoustic music.

We got outside for the meet and greet, and it wasn't hundreds of women. It was about twenty people waiting politely in no particular line.  One fellow told me Colin was prompt and wouldn't keep us waiting. He didn't. About 20 minutes after the concert he came out to polite applause and chatted quietly with each fan. He took some pictures, but mostly it was quiet talk just him and the fans. No handlers moving the line along. No one pushing or shoving.  Even the people in costume, people who clearly had someplace else to be, were quiet and polite and just waited their turn.

Hubby got his album signed and I didn't take a picture because Hubby didn't want it.  I thanked Colin for finishing the concert with favorite old song of his (over kill) and my favorite new song of his( Next Year People.)  

It was a tremendous evening.  And we emerged from the theater smelling pretty much the same way we did when we got into our seats.

So here's what I realized.  Bad behavior, spilling drinks and getting hammered to the point where someone has to carry you out of the building, and being rude to musicians who are not the headliner is NOT normal behavior for fans of 80's singers.  It is very possible and very expected that we all behave and allow the artist to do his thing on stage and off without anyone in the audience pondering violence just because they didn't get face time with the performer.

So...next time you go to a concert, ANY CONCERT...keep your drinks in your cups, keep your hands to yourself, applaud the music, and enjoy whatever personal time you get to have.  Now that I know it's possible for this to happen, I'm going to be watching you all more closely.

That should scare a few of you out there.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

NEWS FLASH: MISSING IN MANITOWOC IS AVAILABLE TOMORROW!

Hello all!  

I know on Tuesday that I promised you five days of previews of my new novel, which will be available on Amazon.com TOMORROW, November 1, and is available in print for in the Create space store RIGHT NOW BY CLICKING HERE.  Unfortunately, my beloved grandmother passed
away yesterday.  Thursday I was able to go see her one last time and she had a most amazing last day with family all around her. Her mind, though she was weeks away from her 99th birthday, was sharp.  Finally it was her body that wore out. She was actually a little miffed, I think, at God for not taking her on Wednesday when she collapsed in the bathroom, but God knew her family needed one more day with her. So tomorrow, Sunday, we put her to rest next to her husband of nearly 70 years.

That said, I am managing to give you a few more pages of MISSING IN MANITOWOC right now. I'm so excited to start on this journey with Nora Hill, a woman who has been tested by God in so many ways.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Again, this book will be available for kindle on Amazon tomorrow. I'm hoping all other digital platforms will also be ready to go today or tomorrow, and that includes Nook, Apple, Kobo...all of those.

Meanwhile, here's another few pages to whet your appetite!  Enjoy!

“Is that your Subaru?”
            I look at the mechanic in his coveralls. I wonder if his wife even attempts to wash the grease and oil stains out of the heavy denim union suit. Maybe she makes him leave it outside on the back porch.
            That’s what my mother would do. “Germaphobic” is a huge understatement for her dedication to avoiding all things filthy. Probably why she married a minister, thinking he’d never come home with anything worse than maybe a small purple stain from serving Communion too vigorously.
            She lived in a very tidy world, my mother did, until I came along. My two older sisters, born in her own image, never gave her a minute of grief. I swear, if you believe anything those three tell you, they were toilet trained immediately upon exiting the womb and never left a trace of themselves anyplace in the house.    Call it my creativity, call it a willful streak, call it Original Sin…I was that kid in every family who was always three degrees off. You know, the kid who always had a scraped knee. The kid who always spilled something at a family reunion or church pot luck. The kid who was always tearing a hole in her ‘Sunday best.”
 I never felt like I was born into the right family, you know?  At  my eight Christmas during the big family dinner with all the relatives there as witnesses, I asked if I was adopted. I mean, it’s a logical question. My sisters are seven and nine years older than I am. They are both tall and well built women. I’m short and frail looking. Kinda like one of those kids on those Christian Children’s Network commercials, the ones where kids are starving and have no clean water to drink, but a buck a week will keep them fed for a year.
So I asked the question. By the time I was eight I knew there was definitely something different about me that had little to do with my physical looks. It was clear, from the shocked reaction of those around the table, I’d struck an uncomfortable chord. True to my nature, however, I managed to spill an entire bowl of black olives on myself. So before anyone could think of a good answer to my question, the tension melted into laughter. Well, except for my mother. She dragged me into the bathroom to wipe the black, oily, juice off my Christmas dress.
My questions about why I’m so different from the rest of my tribe never have been answered. I dropped the adoption question that Christmas Day when Mom growled at me, “Don’t be ridiculous, Nora.” Some time ago I just accepted it. I’m that dirty kid every family has, the kid that is just never quite clean.          Or normal.
Since then I’ve put distance between my family and me. It’s better this way. At first, sure, they protested. I shouldn’t be traveling alone. I might get hurt. I wasn’t being safe. I would one day be found dead in a ditch.
“Dead in a ditch.” That’s my mother’s biggest worry for all of us. Didn’t return a phone call? “You might have been dead in a ditch for all we knew!” Came in late after curfew? “You had us so worried that you were dead in a ditch!” When I started traveling for work, that was her biggest, and only, concern. “Nora, you have to promise you won’t camp out in your car. I couldn’t bear it if you were found dead in a ditch.”
I promised her I wouldn’t camp in my car anywhere near a ditch. She didn’t see the humor in that.
 Sure she protested. I mean, I’m her kid, right? Of course she loves me. I’ve noticed, she has returned to her tidy way of life now that I’m not living there full time. She’s as happy as a clam. I don’t go home often. I don’t like to wreck her bliss.
            Wow, I’m off track. Now is not the time for these sorts of thoughts. Now is the time to get my car out of this garage and get out of this town before anyone recognizes me. Over the years I’ve changed my look, what woman hasn’t?  But I’m still me…no matter how hard I try to change the fact.
            “Yes, that’s my car.”
            The mechanic wipes his hands on his coveralls and stares at my car as if seeing something rare and strange. While Subaru Foresters aren’t that uncommon in most of the world, around here it is. It’s not a pick-up truck, and there isn’t a boat hitched to the back of it. I don’t have to dig too far in my memory bank to recall my high school days when everyone drove a pick-up truck. Everyone, of course, except for me. Back then, the Forrester was new, a gift from my parents for my sixteenth birthday. While not wealthy, my father was one of those rare people who just knew how to save a dollar and turn it into five dollars. Each of us girls, first Rose, then Lily, then me, got a new car on our sixteenth birthdays. Rose and Lily have long since traded their cars in for an upgrade, of course, but I’m still driving mine. Some call it loyal, some call it cheap. I call it not wanting to clean out the car and put my stuff in a new one.
            “Haven’t seen a Surbaru in a long time. Most people around here drive pick-ups and minivans. I do remember this one girl in high school…”  With that, the mechanic’s voice drifts off and he turns his attention back to me. He stares at me. Hard.
            I feel the start of a headache…the kind I get when I know something I don’t want to happen is about to happen.
            “Do I know you?”
            And that thing I didn’t want to happen is now starting. My headache is getting worse. We are about to get into an uncomfortable spot here. He’s recognized me.
            “Nora?”
            That’s it. I officially want to fall through the floor. I want to hide away and not continue this conversation. I’ve had this dialogue a hundred times with people who knew me growing up, but I have absolutely no recollection of them. I remember places, experiences, and feelings with super high-def clarity. I can recall names, lists and lists of names. But faces, faces I can’t remember at all.
            It’s not laziness on my part or a quirk I have. It’s not like those funny mental ticks we all live with, like how my brother-in-law never knows where his glasses are or how my oldest sister goes through the names of all of her kids before hitting the one she wants to yell at. It’s a medical thing. I have something.
My “something” has a name that’s a mile long: prosopagnosia. That’s what they call it on the health channel. Most people call it face blindness. Simply put, I don’t remember faces, even those of people close to me. If I see someone, and then they leave the room for five minutes or so, I completely forget their face.
            This includes my mother’s face and my father’s, when he was alive, my sisters’ faces, too.  Plus, while I can differentiate between male and female voices, I have trouble sorting out specific voices. Not uncommon to us face blindness folks.  Most of us have some other “thing” along with the prosopagnosia.  It’s like God sent us through the neurological cafeteria before we were born and wasn’t just happy with us having the main course.  I’m “face blind with a side order of distorted hearing.”  Others might have Asperger’s or autism.  There’s no end to the fun combo packs available.
            When I’m home, I’m able to sort out my mom and sisters out, so long as they’re sitting in a certain spot. It has nothing to do with their faces, but rather whether or not they’re  in their favorite chairs. Lily likes the green love seat. Rose curls up in my father’s brown recliner. Mother seats herself in the white wing backed chair, a chair so pure white only she could sit in it, by the way.
If my mother ever gets new furniture, I’m doomed.
As you can imagine, this causes problems at family gatherings and whatnot. I can’t count the number of times I hear the whispers, “Oh, that’s Nora…she’s terrible with people.”
I’m not terrible with people. I’m terrible with faces.
Then again, it’s almost better to be thought of as careless and rude, as some of my relatives do, than to be thought of as mentally deficient, as some of my other relatives do. Seriously, I think everyone in my extended family would just feel more at ease with me if I got a seeing-eye dog or a helper monkey or something. I know, ridiculous. But still, it’s family, right?
            “Nora Hill, is that you?”
            The mechanic is still looking at me and I really, really want to run away. I have nothing to say to this person who may be a friend, but right now is a stranger to me.  And since he recognizes me and knows my name, I’m already at a huge disadvantage.

            This is why I don’t like being around people.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sneak Peek Week! MISSING IN MANITOWOC! Part 1

Good evening!

Here we are, first snippet of my new novel, due for release on Sunday, November 1.  

Enjoy!

FRIDAY 5 PM
            If it’s true what they say, that God has a sense of humor, then He’s having a huge laugh at my expense right now.
            Fifteen years ago I swore I would never come back to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, so the fact that I’m standing here in an auto repair shop can only be attributed to some kind of twisted Divine sense of humor. That’s what my father would probably say, anyway. My mother…well, my mother would probably scold me for thinking blasphemous thoughts. She didn’t exactly share Dad’s more lighthearted approach to the Almighty, which is odd, since he was a minister. You’d think the opposite would be true.
            Meanwhile, I’ve been here for an hour. There’s no Wifi, which isn’t quite the big deal for me as it is for most people. It’s not like I spend a ton of time on social media. I’m not that social. But I could be doing some online research for work. Work would help pass the time I’m forced to spend sitting on an orange molded plastic chair circa 1977.
Oh sure, I could access the Internet with my phone’s data plan, but my phone is dead. I haven’t been able to find my charger. This, again, is not the disaster it might be for most people. It’s not like I’m going to miss some life or death text if I don’t have a charged phone for a couple days. My mother and sisters are used to not hearing from me every day. My agent is really the only person who gets frantic when she can’t reach me.
            No, my biggest problem at this moment, other than not being able to escape Manitowoc before anyone manages to recognize me, is that I’m bored.
            I’m not bored often. When you’re in my line of work, if you get bored, you get up, walk around a bit, or maybe get in your car and drive some place. Do something to change the scenery, and
then get back to work. And when I’m really into it, if I’m really in the writing zone, boredom is the least of my problems. Remembering to eat is usually a bigger issue.

Besides, I’m not built to be bored. If you’re a person who believes in Divine Intervention, you’d know what I’m talking about. God saw to it when He made me, He made a person who simply had zero chance of finding the world dull or tedious. Terrifying, yes. Bewildering, absolutely. Never boring.
            And yet, here I am. Maybe it’s some sort of evil spell that hangs over this city on Lake Michigan.
            No, that’s not the case. I don’t have to go back too far in my memory to realize that ‘terrified’ and ‘isolated’ are really the only two things I took away from my time in this burg. I was too busy being tormented to feel anything other than those two emotions. So, hey, there’s that silver lining my sisters are always telling me to look for.

Right now the one thing that’s saving me from sliding into a brain dead coma is the television in the corner of the waiting room. Granted, it’s tuned to local news and the local anchor, complete with that North Eastern Wisconsin accent, is telling us all a delightful little story about some seventh-grade school group having an exciting day at all the tourist attractions along the Lake Michigan shore. The story is pure fluff and I have zero interest in local news, school groups, or Lake Michigan while my vehicle is being poked by strangers.  But TV noise is better than the sound of a mechanic telling me my beloved Forester is dead.

The difference between a Meijer employee and a heart attack? Not much.

Good afternoon everyone and Happy Holidays! When I was little I lived in Michigan, home to a wonderful store called Meijer's Thrif...