writing the perfect storm

hurricanematthew

i had planned to write a post about something way more work related today — specifically, some musings on the home office. but as i’ve sat here in my home office all week, listening to my constant MSNBC soundtrack in the next room, i couldn’t help but think of so much more important things happening in the world that i had to say something about.

for the past couple days, as Hurricane Matthew has solidified its course toward a direct hit on Florida, there’s been a gradual shift in content of the neutral-accented commentators’ reports wafting from the next room, from presidential campaign disaster to natural disaster. the shift was completed in full today, when 100% of coverage turned to the hurricane. and honestly, as much of a political junkie as i am, it’s been a nice break.

last night, unable to sleep, i finally said out loud to my husband what i have been thinking for days since Matthew came on the radar and i’ve been on the edge of my seat about how everything will turn out: no one could write this shit. he told me to calm down and go to sleep, which i did, after thinking about how i might actually write this story if it were a treatment for a TV series.
Continue reading

what is your reach?

Diverse People Friendship Togetherness Connection Rear View Conc

it’s been a crazy couple weeks with work and i have pretty much let everything else go: no writing, no workouts, stress eating, a sink full of dishes and a personal to-do list a mile long. i’m so grossed out by my own self! so this morning, i vowed to get back on track. the very minimum i can do is write a response to The Daily Post, right? i usually hate their prompts and today is no exception, but after i got over hating for a minute, this one actually got me thinking.

reach. it’s something i talk about a lot in my work life as an advertising professional. helping clients extend their reach and maximize the number of eyeballs they can hit with their message is as important as actually creating that perfect message.

but what about your reach? not as a blogger or in terms of your personal brand, but in terms of you as a person? how many people’s lives do you touch and impact on a daily, weekly or yearly basis? probably a lot more than you know.  Continue reading

if it clucks like a chicken . . .

Fried Chciken

no joke, this just happened: a colleague i’ve never met was organizing a meeting at a client’s office and was asked by someone on our side what we were doing for lunch, since the meeting would run from 11:00-3:00. his response: “They are in the middle of the inner city, it looks like Popeyes Chicken 🙂” oh yes, he did. obviously, i was appalled.

like so many others, i have been struggling so hard over the past week or so with the violence, racism and ignorance at the forefront of seemingly every news cycle. last week i was supposed to be enjoying our annual family vacation and celebrating the epic greatness of America. i spent much of that time glued to my phone following Facebook and Washington Post to see what people were saying about the shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas, and wondering what the fuck is happening to our country? Continue reading

snapshot

ironically, there isn’t a photo that could possibly capture the beautiful, the mundane, the tragic of this evening. but i wanted to somehow capture the sort of like 16,000 conflicting emotions and experiences that happen around here on any given evening, but particularly tonight. thanks for indulging me in a pretty non-typical-for me post.

i’m in the midst of coming down from a lot of angst and uncertainty about leaving an old job to working my first 2 days (at home!) at a new job, where there also is uncertainty simply because it is a new and different situation from where i thought i would be 6 months ago — but also a lot of excitement about what i can help build.

at about 4:00 today, i realized i was still in my pajamas. i had promised myself i was not under any circumstances going to be that person. i did not go for a run (not my fault. did you see the storm map for the Southeast today??). and my dishwasher was still full of clean dishes washed overnight. i felt a minor pang of incompetence for not having this work at home shit completely nailed after 2 days. then i eye-rolled myself.

as i rallied to step away from the computer and my work to get dressed, i let the dogs out and realized our 14-year-old Clara was limping and can’t put any weight on one of her hind legs. i’ve spent the rest of the evening — in between getting pain meds from our dog sitter, checking what time the vet opens tomorrow and helping Spy carry her up and down the stairs —  worrying that when she does see the vet tomorrow, it will be the last time we see her. that’s how Maury went a few years ago at 16. she quite suddenly lost use of her back legs and the vet suggested it would be a hard road ahead. so far, the painkiller has helped some. we have spent lots of time holding hands (always her favorite) and looking longingly at each other. i’ll call at 8:00 tomorrow morning to see when i can bring her in, and until that time, hope for the best.

in the meantime, i’m also literally trying to cook a proper dinner for me and Spy, who have fallen into a bad pattern of eating at different times and places in the house. the ravenous Miss Girl demanded a hot dog the minute she walked into the house, so her dinner was long since done. in between pulsing cauliflower rice, i’m having a conversation that goes something like this:

“PUT YOUR PANTS ON!”

“but Mommy, my booty’s too hot. and besides, Lily has my pants.”

“WHY DOES LILY HAVE YOUR PANTS? GET YOUR PANTS FROM HER!”

“we’re playing tug-o-war with them!”

Lily runs a couple laps around the house with pants in her mouth.

“DO NOT PLAY TUG-O-WAR WITH YOUR PANTS! go get those pants from that dog!”

ridiculous laughter.

“i’m serious! get some pants — any pants! — on that hot booty and get those pants from that dog!”

ridiculous laughter.

“ONE . . . TWO . . .”

“okay, okay, Mommy. i got the pants. but now i need to take off my shirt.”

facepalm.

ridiculous, ear-to-ear grin.

also, at some point during all of this, i got a call from the Bernie Sanders campaign asking if i plan to vote in the upcoming primary and for whom. the girl was floored when i said i plan to vote and they had my support. like i was literally the first person on her (i assume Atlanta Metro) list who had given her a positive reaction. she didn’t know how to respond to me. was really glad i could make that girl’s day, because making those calls has to be a thankless job!

at bath/bedtime, when Spy took Clara up the stairs for the evening, i remembered that somehow, although i was home all day today, Lily peed on the bed. ON THE BED, y’all. duvet was in the laundry, but taking 1,000 years to dry. so while Miss Girl’s bath was running, i was psyched to find a clean set of sheets. not psyched to make our bed. let’s just say that since the Brazilians started, the pain in the ass that is re-sheeting a California king has not often been in my repertoire. sigh.

at the end of the night, with my sweet family all upstairs — one in what feels like a makeshift bed with a spare Queen comforter on top (we’ll be fighting over that in a couple hours); one maybe sleeping in her well-worn spot on my side of the bed for the last time; one dreaming pantsless dreams of world domination; and one completely oblivious to all of it as long as she can snuggle with someone — i just had to try to explain the beautiful, amazing, circle of life chaos of it all. because it constantly amazes me how all these things can co-exist in my life and in my brain in these amazing moments in time and (usually) nothing actually explodes, except sometimes (almost) my heart.

tomorrow’s Hump Day, y’all. notice that amazing moment that’ll get you through the rest of the week!

hey, girl. did i just see you in that Cialas ad?

cialis

first. let me start by absolutely confirming that there are no issues of the nature that might require such, um, performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals in this household. none, whatsoever, thank you very much.

but damn, y’all. i’m turning 44 in a week-ish. Spy hits the big 5-0 in April. and all of a sudden, i’m sitting here watching my usual cable news programming. and as sure as there’s gonna be a piece (or 6) on Donald Trump’s latest ass-hattery and breaking news about another mass shooting, there’s gonna be a Cialas ad. and suddenly, those ads aren’t filled with weird old people who you don’t even want to imagine knockin’ Rockports, much less for hours on end. nope. they’re filled with people who look like people we know. hell, y’all. they’re filled with people who look like us. Continue reading

how to talk about tragedy with a 5-year old

love locks on Pont des Arts, Paris

what happened in Paris last night is shocking. it is terrifying from the standpoint of living in any major city and thinking about whether it’s possible this could happen in your city on an average Friday night out. could that have been me at that restaurant?

i grew up in DC in the ’80s. yeah, there was definitely a sense among us then that there could be a nuclear bomb that took us all out at any time. after 16 days of rain in Atlanta when Morrissey came on the Sirius this morning crooning about  the bomb bringing us together . . . i kind of wished for it. but also thought how weird it was for us, back then, to all literally have dreams about mushroom clouds and how things would go down when the Soviets attacked. i mean, obviously we were at the epicenter of any bomb dropping that might occur, so that was pretty much definitely how we all were going to die die.

i haven’t checked the stats lately, but i believe the danger of actually dying from a nuclear bomb is probably about a million percent less likely than dying at the hands of a redneck with a vendetta and a semi-automatic he picked up at the gunshow without a background check. we now live in a world where people seem to just shoot shit up indiscriminately. walking into a shopping mall and worrying you might get killed was literally not a thing in the 80s. like omigod Heather, that so totally would have killed mall culture. nuclear bomb? yes. random mall shooting. NO. what. the. fuck?

i’m a horrible news junkie and would be perfectly content to let the constant reports about Paris or Umpqua or Lafayette or Charleston or . . . play in the background for hours straight. but with a 5 year old in the house, that’s no longer an option. the “what happened mommy? why are all those police cars there?” sets up a really challenging dilemma:  i have to tell her that there are bad people in the world who do bad things, but in a way that she can understand and also that doesn’t scare the living shit out of her.

last weekend, out of the blue, she started asking about 9-11. she had talked about it with her babysitter that day, so i asked her to explain to me what happened. she got the basics right, but didn’t understand why those bad guys would want to hurt those people. i found myself trying to talk to her about it in a way that wouldn’t make her never want to get on a plane again. it was really uncomfortable for many reasons, but mostly because when you describe such terrible events in such a simplistic way to make it make sense to a 5 year old, it becomes clear that none of it — not any of those incidents and all the too many others like them — makes any sense.

so at any rate, i kept the news off last night until after she had gone to bed. she loved Paris so much and i knew the news would upset her. but i know that i can’t shelter her from everything forever. at some point, the news, bad people, a broken heart, bad fashion and all the other things that don’t make sense in life will happen. and we’ll have to talk about it. i found this great article at PBS Parents that gives some tips on how to help kids get through tragic and scary events like last night’s. i’d urge anyone with kids to take a read. i think there’s even some good advice in there for adults (i’m lookin’ at you #1!):

  1. Take a news break.
  2. Answer kids’ questions – without giving them unnecessary details.
  3. Maintain a regular schedule.
  4. Model confidence and assurance.
  5. Find solace or take action.

i’d love to live in a world where i don’t need these kinds of skills on a regular basis. but i’m glad someone smarter than i am is out there giving tips for when i do. check it out and give your loved ones a big hug.

#prayforparis #jesuisparis

how i saved $755 on plumbing repairs using #girlpower

#shinyponies

there’s been some weird juju around here lately, y’all. over the past 3 weeks or so, seems like everything mechanical or technical that can freak out has. my car, my computer and my security system have all gone on the fritz and a leaky kitchen faucet i’ve been trying to ignore reached critical status. the constant drip . . . drip . . . drip . . . was like Chinese water torture. something had to be done.

let me start this story by telling you that neither Spy nor i know a damn thing about home repair of any kind. we are both completely useless in the DIY area and are pretty much at the mercy of professionals to do anything beyond changing light bulbs. it sucks and it’s expensive, but it’s just how it is. back in the summer, we got reamed by a plumber who repaired all 4 of our toilets to stop them from running, which had suddenly caused our water bill to more than double (yikes!). i say reamed, because throughout the process, i had a guy at work who knows like almost everything about these kinds of things gave me a load of crap about paying probably more than 4 times what it would have cost to do this “easy fix” ourselves. because we are gluttons for punishment, Spy signed us up for a service contract with these guys, under which, we’d get 20% off any future service for the year.

so after weeks of trying to dig up the email that has this company’s contact info, he finally finds it. i’m slow at work, so i go ahead and call to get the ball rolling. lo and behold, they can come out in an hour. in retrospect, it seems a little weird that after showing the guy the 2 faucets, the first second thing he did was not investigate the faucets, but go out to my garage to look at the water heater. (the first thing was ask how old the house is — 6 years.) after a few minutes he called me out and showed me a gauge attached to my water heater that read 110. it should read 70.

long story short, his professional opinion was that we needed to replace the water pressure regulator valve. the high water pressure had worn out the cartridges in the faucets, themselves. so those also needed to be replaced. he taps on his iPad a few times and hands me the estimate. it’s in the neighborhood of $890 — with our 20% discount!! for 2 stupid leaky faucets?? totally crazy. so not wanting to get in trouble for being the dope that just opens up her wallet, i tell the guy i need to call my husband. (it feels so 1950s the couple times i’ve pulled that out, but it’s a nice out when i get put on the spot for something i don’t really want to do.) as soon as he hears the H word, he starts back tracking and telling me things he can do or price differently. within the time it took to find my phone and click to Spy’s number, he’d brought the price down $350 and thrown in replacing the cartridge in my bathroom sink, as well. definitely shady. i still called. Spy was clueless, so he said go ahead and do it. at least, with his blessing, i wouldn’t have to hear forever how just i threw away a pile of cash. we were in this one together.

but while the plumber was out getting parts, the whole thing started to feel even ickier. my DIY guy at work said my house wasn’t old enough to need a new pressure valve regulator. a couple quick Google searches showed the parts for all this were pretty cheap and that someone with experience should be able to do all the faucets in under an hour. i called and said i changed my mind. after paying the estimate fee that would have been waived had he done the work. he was on his way. i felt a little relieved and started looking for someone to give me a second opinion. DIY guy at the office recommended a plumber who had done some major work on his house. done.

well, surprisingly, things only got worse. Continue reading

what Saturn in Sagittarius feels like to a Sagittarius

i promise i haven’t turned into a total coconut. nor have i been one in hiding this entire time. i actually find a lot of truth in astrology (don’t judge) and tonight, had an a-ha moment. it’s been a shitty week so far. i’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why,  and am in the middle of writing a post about how the Universe always gives us exactly what we need (stay tuned).

but i have been wondering why, on top of some really karmic stuff, i’ve just felt generally out of sorts and unable to be productive or as positive as usual for the past several weeks. yeah. then i remembered all the Saturn in Sagittarius stuff. it’s like the two entirely most opposing opposite astrological forces colliding. and they’re apparently fighting inside my core like a sack of hungry cats. it is not cute, y’all. Sadges don’t do well with all this dictated discipline and regimented maturity that (at some level) we know we need. ugh. now that i’ve figured this out, i’ll hopefully be back to normal soon. hopefully before my head actually spins. i mean, for god’s sake, i quit the chiropractor months ago . . .

anyone else feeling it?

Friday favorites: this week’s 5 best reads

Glasses On Mouse

here it is, the very last day of Writing 101 and i still have a backlog of about 5 assignments. oh well! hitting yesterday’s prompt today:

For those who didn’t reach out to someone, publish a roundup of great reads: blog posts or articles you’ve enjoyed this week and want to share with your followers.

no, of course i didn’t reach out to anyone to interview or do a guest post. please, y’all. you know i’m not that organized. instead, i’m merging my usual Friday favorites post with this assignment and posting (in no particular order) 5 of the most interesting reads i came across online this week. (and no, i don’t really need those reading glasses yet, but i bought them back in the spring thinking it might be time!) happy reading and happy weekend, y’all!

1. The Good and Bad News About Having A Tweenager (Foxy Wine Pocket)
i laughed. i moaned. i poured another glass of wine as my hopes of easier times as Miss Girl got older were completely shattered.

2. Success at Work, Failure at Home (Medium)
interesting to read a guy’s take on the seeming inability to “have it all” when it comes to work/life balance. fashionable or not, i’m a firm believer that it is physically, mentally, emotionally and financially impossible to be a rockstar at work and  at home at the same time. sometimes one is on top and sometimes the other. the trick to creating balance is knowing which is most important at any particular moment.

3. Pope Francis’ Meeting Wasn’t An Endorsement of Kim Davis’s Views, Vatican Says (NYT)
i find it a little implausible that American Vatican reps didn’t realize what message this meeting could or would send, but i’m glad they chose to address it. though i completely disagree with her actions, Ms. Davis is obviously a woman of strong religious belief and i can see how it made sense to meet with her as a matter of faith, not politics. and for all we know, what actually happened was that Pope Francis, in his very popely way said “Bless your heart, but this is not what Jesus meant, you moron.” and hey, we saw what happened after his conversation with John Boehner. maybe there’s another resignation pending.

4. 10 Reasons We Should Defund Planned Parenthood IMMEDIATELY (ravishly)
some of the most amusing and spot-on arguments about why this whole conversation is ridiculous.

5. How to Choose the Best Probiotic to Help Heal Your Eczema (Prime Physique Nutrition)
after another bad round of breakouts and yet another couple dermatologist visits that yielded just the routine of an oral antibiotic and more/different topical remedies that never quite clear things up for any prolonged period of time, i decided enough was enough. Miss Girl has had the allergy tests (negative) and we’ve tried to pay attention to food triggers (utterly inconclusive), but my gut tells me there is something internal going on, which is why all these external remedies aren’t quite cutting it. don’t get me wrong, i am a huge proponent of better living through pharmaceuticals. i just don’t think they’re the right answer for everything. so i’ve been doing a lot of research on probiotics and the gut/skin connection. this was one of the articles that convinced me to start her (and myself) on a probiotic regimen and helped me wade through everything that’s out there to know how to choose. so far, things seem to be improving! stay tuned for maybe a post about all that . . .

throwback Thursday: the art of the mix tape

mixedtapes.001
wow. what an unexpected walk down memory lane i took this past weekend. i spent a good part of it re-arranging furniture, making room for new, finding room for books that have been in boxes since we moved in an generally trying to unclutter every inch of this house i possibly can.

we have a corner shelf in our bedroom that hides behind the door when it’s open, which is most of the time. in addition to the stash of books i’ve read over the past couple years that i haven’t known where else to put, some of Spy’s cuff links and odd boxes of foreign money and international electrical adapters, it holds a random assortment of music players — one for an iPod and an old one for everything else except vinyl. i have no idea why, considering we rarely-to-never listen to music in the bedroom. maybe we should.

apparently, when unpacking the house 6 years ago, i also thought this was a great place for one basket woven box half full of old cassette tapes. (the other 4 or so boxes reside downstairs in a cabinet in the living room far from any device that could actually play them. would love to be able to remember the rationale that sparked that.) i still had books to order and stuff to think through, so i popped in one of the most epic work tapes ever and started digging through the stash. not only did i start to remember some of the times to which these tapes served as soundtracks. i also remembered what went into crafting them.

sure, today, you create an iTunes or Spotify playlist, love it and share it. but back then, there was no shuffle function. no skipping around. the flow of the tape meant everything and there was definitely an art to creating it. you had to consider the mood you were trying to create and really ensure that one song led smoothly into the next. there had to be a logic of style or rhythm or lyrics. you had to make sure there were ebbs and flows — you couldn’t run too many high energy songs together without a break for something a little more mellow. and timing it all to really punctuate the end of a side without too much hang time on the end that had to play through before an auto-flip (in later days) was a work of utter mathematical genius. over about 10 years of doing it, i think i got pretty good. i listened to just a few this weekend — actually none of them my own creations — but could absolutely have gotten lost for hours in them. Continue reading