Friday, February 5

Put a Shine on that Crown!

Earlier this week, I had a bit of a dental emergency when my crown popped off. In a panic, I popped it back on, gritted my teeth, and promised to forego my morning bacon until it was fixed. Fortunately, the doc got me in the next day and I white-knuckled my way through its replacement with no further complications or drama. Whew!

Thinking about my dental crown had me joking about the figurative crown I like to think I wear on my head. And I realized it wasn’t really a joke. We should ALL wear crowns on our heads. Because, as women, we should ALL remember we are queens, even when we are elbow-deep in dirty dishwater or knee-deep in other people’s crap.

By saying we are queens, I’m not trying to say we are above the more hum-drum of domestic tasks. Or that everyone should kneel at our feet and kiss our rings (though that might be nice, and while my hubby is down there kissing on my ring…). What I mean is that we should keep in mind the natural royalty we each have within us. While it’s certainly easier said than done, we should always hold our heads high, though never look down our noses. We should always be gracious, but never be doormats. We should always build up and never put down. And we should always remember our own self-worth, even when we put the needs of others before our own.

With this in mind, I’d like to offer up some tips on how to be a better queen, if for no other reason than to remind us to polish and straighten our inherent crowns, and wear those invisible family jewels with pride.

The Queenly Wave. A proper parade wave is an essential skill for a queen. Hold your arm at an angle toward the floor and bend your elbow until your hand is roughly level with your shoulder. There are three basic waves: 1) Washing the windows. With fingers and thumb held daintily together, rock hand side to side on your wrist like a metronome (see Queen Elizabeth here). 2) Turning the Lightbulb. Now, cup your hand around an invisible lightbulb (thumb close to your fingers… don’t let that digit stray!) and, keeping your hand in line with your forearm, swivel from your elbow in a loose melon-scooper motion. 3) The Parade Wave. Much like the rhythm of the Tango, the parade wave begins with two relatively slow rocks of the arm at the elbow, then two or three quicker rocks from the wrist. Elbow. Elbow. Wristwristwrist. Repeat.

Table Manners. A queen should always leave the cell phone in the purse, chew with her mouth closed, pass the salt and pepper together, and enjoy the food we eat. Mealtime is not just to fuel our bodies, it is also to fuel our family and our spirits. We can’t do that if we hate what we put in our mouths, or shovel it in so quickly we can’t even taste it. Speaking of putting things in our mouths, queens always take small bites of food, so we are prepared to answer a question, address a child’s behavior, or (if you’re me) put your foot in there.

Public Speaking. Even when it only involves the Starbucks drive-through barista, we queens often
have to address the public. Some people recommend pretending everyone in the room is naked. I disagree, unless you are speaking at a Male Cover Model convention. Instead, pretend they are close friends who you don’t have to impress because they already love you. And, when your smile is trembling so hard you feel an earthquake approach, or when your eyelashes are quivering so much you’re afraid of typhoon winds, remember that no one else has any idea any of this is happening. No, really, what you think is an octave-wide warble in your voice is not even noticeable by others. Let their ignorance give you nerves of steel.

What does any of this have to do with being a writer or writing? The same thing it has to do with any aspect of our lives: there is a lot that can beat us down and distract us if we let it. We can easily lose sight of the fact that we wear a crown. Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, and 100% attitude. Our crown is our attitude. Always remember that, even though it might be a bit tarnished and askew, your tiara is always there and will never fall off, no matter how hard life hits. And practice your parade wave.

Thursday, February 4

Random Ramblings

When you got nothing. Like this morning, for me, for this...and I have a headache--have had for about a week now, so I'm finding it hard to focus. Which means a blog of Margie's random ramblings.

I have the news on this morning and I just heard that Trump is accusing Ted Cruz of stealing votes in Iowa to win the primary. It occurs to me that if you wrote a novel with what has happened during this election--what with the over-stuffed billionaire, a former first lady, a grassroots old guy, and neurosurgeon who can't put a sentence together in ten minutes, it would seem far-fetched. Nobody would take the novel seriously because "that could never happen".

Ahh, but it is.  And we're living it, folks.

Do you write linear or no? I usually do. But, on Saturday, a conversation began in my head between Ana and her former bff, Lexie and so, I wrote it down. I think it changed the shape of their friendship. Like a lot of things, I don't know if it will stay, but it certainly helped me to see a new side to their friendship. 

I love the food videos that people post on Facebook. Especially the "Tasty" ones. They make believe that I can cook. I have actually tried some of the recipes to success. For years, I've believed I can't cook, but it wasn't that I couldn't cook, it was that I believed I couldn't. 

Anyone watching the new episodes of The X-Files? Love me some Mulder. I was a fan from the beginning. And my favorite episodes were the monster and conspiracy-free episodes. This last episode was one of those and it was so much fun. Like Scully, I'd forgotten how fun they could be.

Not that I don't believe in conspiracies, because I do. But, mine revolve more around things like, "If there were a cure for cancer, would it be shouted out or buried?" Think of charities and corporations that could go bankrupt if a cure was found--especially if it was cheap or natural.

 Okay, that's all I got today. Have a great day!

PS--Do you ever wonder if Oprah regrets giving up her show? Yeah, I just saw the Weight Watchers commercial. At one time, she had a lot of sway--people bought books because she said so. They ate what she ate, listened to the doctors she said to listen I wonder, once you've had the sort of influence, is it hard to surrender? Or was it liberating?


Wednesday, February 3

On Taking The Time...

It's come to my attention that I think a lot about how things are going to be. I think about the next contract and the next book. I salivate over the next vacation or a dinner-and-movie date with RadioMan. I get excited thinking about bebe's first swim meet and worry that she's still struggling with double-digit subtraction over 20 and think about how much simpler homework will be when she doesn't need quite so much hand-holding.

Nothing is wrong with thinking about any of those things.

Everything can become wrong if I only focus on those 'what will be things' things.

You all know I'm on an organization kick, and that my word for the year is FOCUS - focus so I can get the projects done, focus so I can enjoy the little moments, Focus, focus, focus.

Monday was a bad writing day for me. I had a goal of 3,000 words and ended up with barely 1,500. Not a bad wordcount? No, it isn't. But it wasn't my goal and I kind of beat myself up about it. While we were eating dinner I was thinking about how I could squeeze another 1,500 words out instead of listening to my kid tell me about her spelling test. While RadioMan and I were watching a DVR'd episode of The Blacklist I was thinking about how, if we just waited to watch the episode, I could definitely get those words in. When bebe and I were reading her bedtime story, the same thought was going through my head: stop reading, just make her go to bed, you have work to do, this is important stuff!

We finished the chapter, but I read as fast as I could. RadioMan wanted to hang out in the TV room, but I blew him off and went to my office and shut the door. And sat at the computer. The words were gone. I had no idea what to write. I futzed around on Facebook for a few minutes. I opened the manuscript doc again. Still no words. I needed 1,500 words, dammit, why weren't they coming to me?

I went back out to the TV room and announced we could watch a show. I had my spiral notebook with me, just in case the words started to come. He wouldn't notice if I wrote just a little during the show. But RadioMan was already watching basketball and enjoying the game. He didn't want to spend time with me! Waah! Of course, I'd already blown him off, half-listened during dinner and fumed my way through a bedtime story. All because I'd had errands and laundry and grocery shopping to do - the same as every Monday morning - that had taken me longer than usual.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up and realized what I'd done with my day: I had wasted it. Not because I didn't hit my wordcount, but because of all the ways I tried to make the words flow instead of taking the time with my family. I'd lost the point of my word for the year, and instead of focusing on the moment - be it a writing moment or a wife moment or a mommy moment or a friend moment - I'd thrown it away. In the grand scheme of things, taking those 15 minutes to really be into bebe's bedtime story didn't throw off my wordcount. Watching that show with RadioMan didn't. Having a family dinner didn't.

It was just a bad day, filled with a lot of obligations. I'd scheduled too much into a single day and didn't take that into account when I made out my wordcount goals for the week - I was focused on the end-goal of having this book completed so I could start on the next rather than knowing that this book will, in fact, be finished on time and that 1,500 words isn't going to throw my whole schedule into a tailspin.

So, while my word for the year is still FOCUS, and that focus still requires a schedule, I'm going to remind myself not to over-schedule...because if I can't read a book with my kid or laugh at the TV with my husband, what the heck is the point?

Tuesday, February 2

I'm Here, Just Flustered...

You all may know or you may not, but I've been across the country at Son's house for the last two weeks. He's been dreadfully sick and I came out to help out as he healed--hard to deal with a 3-year-old when you're down flat. So my life has been confused and full of angst and I don't have a post for today. I'm sorry. But I'll be at Romance University tomorrow with a post that I wrote before all this drama happened, so won't you stop by there and check it out after you read Kristi's post here tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures of my darling Grandboy--a taste of my life for the past couple of weeks. Thanks for all the prayers and healing vibes. Son is doing well now and I'm headed to back to my real life on Thursday!

Monday, February 1

1776 and Magic Time

by Liz Flaherty

I've never been in a play. Even though some of those aptitude tests I took in high school suggested I might be good at acting, I've never done it. I can't memorize things, I'm terrified in front of groups of more than two. I've never mastered eyeliner. I have every good reason in the world for not acting. So I'm not going to.

But Duane often acts and/or sings in Ole Olsen, the local theatre group. I read lines with him, tell him he's wonderful (he is), and eat well and chug a little wine with friends at the dinner theatre performance. It's fun and exhilarating. But no, I'm not acting.

With the production that will happen here in a couple of weeks, I've been helping some with costumes. I sewed a dress out of brocade and was reminded of how much I hate sewing brocade. I've shortened pants, made ruffles for jabots and sleeves, and added lace to a few garments. They used a lot of lace in those days. A couple of times, I've sneaked into the theater and watched the cast rehearse 1776.


Stage plays, I've decided, are the externalization of books. TV and movies--at least to me--are not. While I enjoy movies and, very occasionally, TV, I more than enjoy the stage. I feel it. It is supposed to very hot in Philadelphia in 1776. The men on the stage were fanning themselves, mopping their faces. I got hot, too. I was alone and trying to be quiet in the nearly deserted auditorium, but I laughed out loud at the funny parts and the songs and then slunk down into my seat so no one would see me. There was an emotional scene where I was brought nearly to tears.

It was magic.

This was a rehearsal. In bookish terms, it was probably a second draft. There were some errors, some forgettings, some laughter in the wrong spots. I think maybe a person or two wasn't there. Another person or two missed cue lines. But it was still magic.

On opening night, it will be the final draft, the one the editor sends you when your story's all clean and perfect and formatted and maybe sometimes you'll cry over it. And you'll feel it right down to your very bones.

I've always come down on the side of books in the "which is better, books or movies?" question. Always. No matter how much I love or how often I watch Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. It might be a little harder for me to answer that question if it was "which is better, books or screenplays?" because a stage play makes me feel things as intensely as reading a book. Almost as intensely as writing one.

But I'm still not acting.

Break a leg, cast of 1776, and thanks for sharing your art.