Shit—Life—Happens

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“Shit happens” is a common phrase used to express the concept that unfortunate things in life are unavoidable. But rather than simply state, “life is full of unpredictable events,” it is more satisfying to utter this more vulgar phrase.

While I’m not clear on who coined the phrase, I do know it was first introduced to print by Connie Eble in 1983.

The 1994 movie Forrest Gump takes creative license in giving fictional character Forrest Gump all of the credit. In one scene, he runs into dog droppings while on a jog across country. When a man in the bumper sticker business points it out, Forrest replies, “It happens,” to which the man asks “What, shit?” and Forrest answers “Sometimes.” The very next shot shows a car slamming into another. And do you know what the bumper sticker says? “Shit Happens.”

Personally, I would never display such a vulgar phrase on my personal vehicle, but I would use it to summarize the theme of my birthday party weekend, which didn’t go according to plan.

For starters, when I walked into the gym on Thursday to go for a swim, staff informed me that the large pool was closed due to their being literal shit in the pool. Literally. Shit in the pool. Desperate for a workout, I lapped the kiddy pool about a hundred times. Needless to say, I did not get a good workout in before my party weekend.

Then on Friday, as my sister and I were packing for our 2-day mini-vacation, my dog has a seizure. After canceling our hotel reservations, we took the dog to the vet. She did not come home with us.

Not even an hour after I said goodbye to my dog, my nephew’s grandmother calls, saying he’s sick. Just in time for his birthday party.

Then the morning of, roughly an hour before Rylee’s big party, Walmart calls to inform us that they can’t make our cake because the image we requested infringes upon their “copyright policy.” Well, thanks for letting us know the day of, and heaven forbid he let one more cake slide. So we’re scrambling to get cupcakes before the party, because who the heck doesn’t offer cake at a party?

Let me remind you this little boy has had a hell of a year with his grandmother passing away and his many medical issues. All we wanted to do was throw him this awesome birthday party.

And did we accomplish it? Yes we did. Surprisingly enough.

For starters, we didn’t tell him the dog passed away. She’s “at the vets” until after school starts. We also distracted him with the decorations, which blew his mind, as well as a surprise visitor, a storm trooper from the emphasis 501st Legion. Needless to say he had a great time.

Oh, and by the way, the cupcakes were delicious.

Now that I’m thinking about it, the phrase “shit happens” doesn’t actually describe my weekend. I think the phrase “life happens” is more accurate. Don’t get me wrong, putting my dog down was total shit, but death and saying goodbye is just a part of life. Don’t I know it. Three months ago I said goodbye to my mom. And on Tuesday, my sister and I will say goodbye to our twenties and the remainder of our childhood.

Even though a lot of shit happened this week, my sister and I were still able to bring it together for Rylee. At least his birthday turned out to be a success. What else can you do when shit—life—happens?

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Random Confessions of a Modern Reader

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Happy Presidents’ Day and/or belated Valentine’s Day, whatever floats your boat. Personally, neither holiday inspired me to blog so, instead, I’m going to share with you some random confessions of mine as a reader.

Forgive me followers for I have sinned . . .

Confession #1: I’ve read Secret Sacrament by Sherryl Jordan at least 10 times

Secret Sacrament is a fantasy novel that centers around Gabriel, a boy with a haunting past who wants to become a healer. His adventures–or misadventures more appropriately–lead him to the wild Shinali people on the outskirts of the city-state. As sinister forces take control of the empire and threaten the peaceful Shinali, Gabriel’s destiny is revealed. From the synopsis, it sounds like a typical YA fantasy read, but it’s anything but. The main character is vulnerable and intelligent. He’s relatable to me on so many levels. Not only does he have a close relationship with his brother (like I do with my sister) but he also has a tender heart. The way he emotionally invests in every patient he heals reminds me of the way I am with my clients. Not only that, but he’s a coward. I too struggle with my own cowardice. Fear is a huge barrier for me. Reading Gabriel’s story and seeing him overcome his past, his fears, and his circumstances, inspired me to do the same. I think it’s a book I’ll be revisiting soon.

Confession #2: I like to read in my underwear

I’m not trying to be shocking or scandalous; I seriously think it’s really enjoyable to read a book in nothing but my Fruit of the Looms. (I’m actually more of a Haynes Her Way kind of girl). Sitting on the couch or sprawled in bed with a good book is an intimate experience. Why ruin it with clothes?

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Everything is better without pants

Confession #3: I prefer to read paperbacks over hardcover copies or ebooks

As an Indie author, the majority of my sales are ebooks unless I’m at an event, then the paperback copies move like hot cakes. And I do buy a lot of books for my Kindle device because they’re affordable, but I prefer a physical book in hand, more specifically a paperback one. I don’t like the weight of hardcover books. Paperbacks bend easy and fit just right between the palms of my hands. And the pages smell good. Nothing beats a paperback book.

Confession #4: I’ve never read Harry Potter . . . and don’t plan to

Hear me out before you burn me as a heretic. The books came out when I was entering high school, and personally I thought the story sounded juvenile. At the time, I was exploring the adult fantasy section of my local bookstore because my school library couldn’t carry books containing adult content. I was mature for my age and curious about the darker elements of life, which those books were not shy to share. Young Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts just didn’t interest me. If homicidal maniacs weren’t sleeping with their sisters and destroying entire cities I didn’t care to read it.

As an adult, the YA genre certainly appeals to me more, though I am still hesitant to pick up that series. Why? Mainly because of the villain. I can’t stomach dark lords, and I don’t care what people say, dark lords don’t make a series dark. Wizard schools are neat and magic is always fun, but dark lords are dreadfully tired. And before you even call me out, I know the LOTR series features a dark lord. He’s not my favorite villain either and the only reason I forgive it is because of when the novel was written. Post WWI and WWII, stories often featured villainous villains and centered around a battle of good versus evil. War inspires such things. But modern storytelling cannot rely on tired tropes and lazy writing.

While some of the major supporting characters tempt me to pick the series up, I’m still doubtful I will ever dive into the realm of Harry Potter.

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Dark lord, eh? No thanks

Confession #5: I prefer The Lord of the Rings film adaptations to the books

I know. Burn me at the stake. I deserve it. But as much as I enjoy Tolkien’s unique author’s voice and his beautiful descriptions of landscapes, I actually prefer Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the original trilogy. Why? Because of the characters. Peter Jackson focuses on the characters in the films, blowing up their personalities and making them absoltly lovable. Look at Gollum! Peter Jackson was so distant from them and focused on where and what they were doing, that I never got a good sense about who they were and what they were feeling, which is very important for me. I’m not saying the films are better; I’m just sharing my personal preference.

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You shall not pass judgment!

Confession #6: I only read for one hour a day

I like to think of myself as an avid reader since I read every day, but with mom’s illness, taking care of my nephew, working out,and writing my own novel, I don’t have more than one hour–if that–to devote to reading a day. When I was in high school it was nothing for me to read 5 or 6 hours straight, but now that I’m an adult with a full-time job and lots of responsibilities reading is just not something I can binge on anymore. Though that one hour or so I have to read is perhaps one of the best hours of my day.

Confession #7: I prefer traditionally published authors over indie authors . . . for the moment

I know as an indie author I should be ashamed, but so far I’ve been more satisfied by the traditional authors that I follow. Not to say there aren’t several indie authors I follow with excited anticipation, but they were hard-found in all the self-published sludge. Don’t get me wrong, I support indie authors–I am one–but I am constantly dissatisfied with the quality of their writing, writing that I know would excel that of the traditional authors if only they’d taken the proper steps in editing their works. With beta readers, content editors, and copy editors online, there’s no excuse for a poorly written story with redundant scenes and inconsistent characters. It’s the lack of serious editing that holds indie authors back.

Confession #8: I’d rather write than read

Don’t get me wrong; I love to read, but when I’m reading, I often become frustrated when the story doesn’t go my way. I’m not saying I could have written it better, but it’s nice to write the story you’d love to read and know it’s going to turn out just the way you wanted it to.

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I’d rather be writing

Confession #9: I only review a book when I hate it or love it

I’m like most readers; I only write a review when I’m inspired, or asked nicely to. It takes energy to construct a thorough review, and nothing inspires the words to flow like love or rage. When I love a book, I have to share it with the world! And when I hate a book, I feel compelled to warn others. Sometimes I don’t like books based on taste. This does not warrant a bad review. Only when I feel like the author didn’t try to put forth the proper effort do I dare a negative review. If there was any love or effort detected in the writing, I won’t write a flame review. I rarely write bad reviews. I have to really really hate a book to do that. Most of the time I write rave reviews, not to boost an author’s stats, but their self-esteem and encourage them to keep at it.

Confession #10: I never download free books, EVER!

As an indie author, I can’t support the giving away of free books when an author can profit on their hard work. I know I spend countless hours each week writing and editing my work. Not to mention the countless dollars I’ve spent for professional cover design and editing services. I loathe to imagine myself paying these off for years to come, so I make a point to purchase books at full price. Helping authors is what authors do best.

And those are my confessions. Boy, do I feel a heavy burden removed from my chest. Hopefully, I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but I just wanted to be perfectly honest. The blogosphere is like a confession box, but for readers, so hopefully you can forgive me for my reader sins. For fun, share with me some of your reading sins.

Have a good Monday, everyone, celebrating whatever holiday you prefer!

I Aten’t Dead. I’m Mostly Dead. Mostly Dead is Still Alive. And I Will Survive!

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Granny Weatherwax isn’t known as a spelling bee champion. Not at all. But her spelling abilities were enough to keep herself from being buried alive while she traveled outside her body. “I Aten’t Dead” pretty much says it all.

While I would love to say my absence on social media has been due to my time spent trapped inside the mind of a flying eagle, the fact is, that’s not the case. Magical interference has not kept me away from my computer, nor has an army of blood thirsty elves. My only excuse–er–excuses are work, family obligations, car issues, and my new workout regimen, which combined, have kept me extremely busy . . . unfortunately, too busy to pen interesting blog posts.

But now I’m back from outer space. I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face . . . I will survive! And hopefully, get back on my blogging schedule. See you all on Monday! Have a great weekend!

 

The Happy Holiday Atheist Elf

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially for those who celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah. But what about atheist like me?  What joy do we get out of the holiday season?

Personally, I enjoy the decorations, the music, the food, and the shopping. I love buying gifts and opening gifts. More than that, I love wrapping gifts! Most of all, I enjoy hosting the holiday at my house.

When I was a child, and undecided about my philosophical views, I enjoyed the traditions of the season such as decorating the tree, shaking presents, and watching Christmas movies. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows after playing in the snow and decorating gingerbread men with my siblings. As an aunt, I’ve tried to replicate some of those experiences for my nephew by taking him to see the lights and showing him movies from my childhood.

ccc1One of my favorites is Will VInton’s A Claymation Christmas Celebration, a Christmas television special that originally broadcasted on CBS the year after I was born. The special featured stop motion clay animation and debuted alongside my other animated favorite, A Garfield Christmas. Watching these films with my mom and sister fills me with nostalgia and it’s nice to see my nephew appreciate them, too. Hopefully, when he’s an adult they’ll be a source of nostalgia for him as well.

I guess my point is no matter what you believe (or don’t believe) the holidays are an awesome time for everyone to share.

So don’t be a Scrooge, not when you can be Buddy from ELF. At least settle for Clark Griswold; at least he’s trying. Haha!

Have a happy holiday season, everyone!

10 Reasons Why Being a Cat is Better than Being a Human

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It’s Monday, and after a double rehearsal last night, I’m just not in the mood to write anything of real content. So, here’s a fun blog about cats and my reasons for why being a cat is better than being a human.

The inspiration for this blog actually came to me this morning while getting ready for work. Tired, haggard, and cranky, I looked over at my cat still nestled in my bed sheets and was suddenly filled with envy. On the way to work I came up with 10 reasons why being a cat is better than being a human. Enjoy!

  1. Cats don’t have to work. People work for them.
  2. Cats NEVER have bad hair days … or at least mine don’t.
  3. Cats don’t get fat; they get adorable!
  4. Cats receive constant praise for doing … absolutely nothing.
  5. Cats only have to worry about one outfit … and it’s attached.
  6. Cats don’t have to clean up after themselves. People do.
  7. Cats don’t have to cook or plan meals. It comes in a can.
  8. Cats can sleep whenever and wherever they want to.
  9. Cats can fit into boxes. I wish I could do that.
  10. Cats don’t have bosses. They’re the masters of the universe.

Well, there you have it. My 10 reasons why being a cat is better than being a human. If you have some reasons of your own, feel free to share them in the comment section below. I always enjoy hearing from you. Happy Monday!

I Aten’t Ded

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Readers of Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” series will instantly recognize this phrase as one often used by Granny Weatherwax while having an out-of-body experience to prevent passerbys from getting the wrong idea and burying her.

Likewise, I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea and thinking I’m done with WordPress. I know I’ve been absent a looong time … okay, maybe just a week, which is pretty bad for me. But I just wanted you all to know that I aten’t ded.

There’s just a lot going on in my life with family illness, work, and my own health, not to mention progress on my upcoming novel, that has kept me from posting quality content. I’d rather post no content than low-quality content.

I just wanted you all to know I’m planning on returning to the blogosphere very soon, but right now, things are just a bit crazy.

But stay tuned because Friday I’ll be posting a guest post by Charles E. Yallowitz, author of the new Ichabod Jones novel to discuss something fun and fantasy-related … possibly dealing with weapons. Stay tuned and have a happy hump day!

Meet the Critics–er–Cats, I Mean.

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Everyone knows writers–especially women writers–rely heavily on cats not only for companionship, but also for critique. Cats make the harshest critics–or at least we think they do–and what great author is complete without one? Please take a moment to meet the fabulous felines who make my writing time an absolute hell!

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He’s my toughest critic

Mr. Beefy aka Cat Critic: By his picture you can probably guess how he earned his name. Six years later it suits him well. Mr. Beefy is a bully and a badass, challenging not only the other cats in the house, but also the dog. He’s not afraid of anyone and demands all the attentions. He’s even been known to steal a fish filet right off the cooking sheet. Of all my cats, he’s my toughest critic. When left alone with a print-off of my writing, he shred it to pieces. I think it’s safe to say he’s not impressed with my work.

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He’s not as tough as he looks

Schmooey: My mom named this one. I still have no idea what it means or if it means anything at all. To go back, I would have added a “Sir” to his name to make him more fancy. Schmooey is a sweety pie and a total wimp. When they say “size doesn’t matter” it really doesn’t when it comes to this cat; he lets smaller cats and small children bully him around. As far as critics go, he’s the kindest. Maybe he’s a little too kind.

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Don’t let that sweet face fool you

Xena Warrior Princess: Xena for short, she’s the only girl in the house besides the dog, but don’t worry, she holds her own against the boys, oftentimes putting them in their places with one hard smack of the paw. Fully armed with razor sharp claws, this girl is not afraid to tell it like it is. Oftentimes, she lays by the computer and frowns at my poor attempts to write.

Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment telling me about your own cat critics at home!