Wednesday, November 29, 2006

That's What Friends Are For

Ya know, all the recent media blitz over Paris Hilton and Britney Spears has really touched my heart. I mean, look at them here, holding hands as they stumble out of a private party at 5:30 in the morning. Are they like two little drunken peas in a pod, or what? (... and speaking of peas in a pod, Britney evidently loves to showcase her peas, along with various other body parts.)

So what makes a good friend? Is it the one who tells you that you look 'totally hot' when in reality you look like a hooker, or the one who tells you that you need to 'button up a little', or maybe throw on a sweater? Is it the one who tells you that your writing is 'fabulous', or the one who tells you it needs a little polishing? Is it the one who buys you another drink when you've already had too many, or the one who quietly takes your car keys and drives you home?

My husband, Captain America, says that your true friends are the people you'd call if you found out you only had 24 hours to live. I'm terrible about calling people - even the people I love the most - but it really made me think... who would I call?

Besides my immediate family members and my three sisters, there's (in no particular order):
- the friend who's been like brother to me for the last 25 years
- the friend who I've known since the 4th grade
- the friend who I met when our sons started kindergarden together
- the friend who lives nearby who never has a bad word to say about anything or anybody despite having plenty of reason to
- the friend who used to be my cleaning lady but now runs her own business
- the friend down the street who's going through a tough time with her son
- my agents, Annelise and Christina (they might need to know I won't be able to make deadline) :)
- the friend who works for Captain America, and looks after him at the office the same way I do at home
- at least 15-20 other friends I've made through various writing loops who've shared the ups and downs of the last five years

I may exceed my 24 hour time limit, but it'll be time well spent. What about you? Who would you call if you had to (in the words of that really great Tim McGraw song) 'live like you were dying'? Besides your family, who are your best friends?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shake Your Booty... someplace else. Please.

Ever heard the term 'booty shorts'? I hadn't.

I went Christmas shopping this weekend at the mall. Crowds are not my favorite thing, but my daughter asked me to go, and I was up for getting out of the house and maybe getting a jump start on Old Saint Nick. There we were, in the middle of a throng of shoppers; Moms, Dads, little kids lined up for Santa Claus, Christmas songs in the air. We're walking along, eyeing the merchandise and doing a little 'people watching' while were at it, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?

A woman wearing these:

Only - believe me - she didn't look nearly that good in them. Late 20's, maybe even early 30's, with way too much 'junk in the trunk', if you get my drift. And get this - she was with her mother (I know, because as we passed, I heard her call the woman 'Ma'). Does the word 'gross' mean anything to you, Ma? How about the word 'cellulite'? Ring any bells?

Bewildered, I looked around, wondering if the North Pole had suddenly turned into a stripper pole, or if I was just caught in the Twilight Zone. Judging by the reactions of the people surrounding me, I wasn't the only one agog at the woman's outfit. I was actually tempted to ask her if she realized that she'd forgotten to put her pants on before leaving the house. Or maybe she'd been mugged in the mall parking lot, and someone had stolen her skirt. "Um, excuse me, Miss, but I think someone's taken the other half of your outfit." Better yet, "What the hell were you thinking?"

Listen, I'm all for dressing the way you like in the privacy of your own home. Your man like a little booty? Show it to him.

Just don't show it to me.

Or to that little girl who still leaves out cookies and milk for Santa Claus, and thinks that when she grows up, she'll be loved for who she is, not for how much skin she shows. Geesh.

Gives new meaning to the word 'cheeky', doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Let's Put the 'Fun' back in 'Dysfunctional'

Ah, the joys of the holidays. Two of my all-time favorite movies are HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr., and the classic, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION, starring Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid. Both are 'must-haves' for the holiday season, and both will be watched many times over this week (at least by me).

Why, you may ask, do I so enjoy laughing my butt off at the holiday drama and trauma of dysfunctional families like the ones portrayed in these movies?

Because my family is even worse, and it warms the cockles of my little heart to know I'm not alone out there. Sometimes things are so bad that you just gotta laugh, and so laugh I will. :)

C'mon now... we've all sat across the table from someone we really didn't care for, and smiled 'til our teeth hurt, haven't we? We've all rolled our eyes and bitten our lip and entertained visions of sweet potato casserole dumped over a relative's head (or is that last part just me?). We've all poured ourselves that extra glass of wine, popped that extra beer, and looked for a quiet place to hide in a room crowded by opinionated family members who barely speak to you the rest of the year. We've all been polite and gritted our teeth instead of biting somebody's head off, we've all slaved over an elaborate holiday meal for people who have absolutely no appreciation for the effort, we've all ignored thinly veiled insults disguised as bland pleasantries, and we've all turned up the heat to fend off a cold shoulder hidden behind a warm hug of greeting.

What? You haven't? Oh, well... either you're incredibly lucky or your nose just sprouted a couple of inches, Pinocchio. :)

This year promises to be be even more dysfunctional than most, if that's possible, so I've decided that my only option is to laugh. To observe the weirdness with a detached eye, to chuckle (giggle, even), and TAKE NOTES.

After all, I've got more books to write. :) Truth is stranger than fiction, and I could never make up half this stuff.

I challenge you to make the most of your holidays this year - take the stuff that makes you grit your teeth and figure out how to use it to your advantage. Grandma June put her false teeth in her water glass? Use it. Dear old Grandpa Joe boring everybody to death with his war stories? Use it. Baby sister pitching a hissy fit because you made her sit next to Aunt Thelma? Use it.

And if by some chance, you just can't manage it, c'mon over in the corner with me... I've got an extra bottle of wine stashed under the couch in case of emergency, and I'll be happy to share it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Meez Like :) You Like?

Okay, I blame my friend Sheila for this. She told me about a website called 'Meez' where you can create your own animated characters; you choose the hair, the eyes, the clothes, the background, etc. I'd been wanting a more 'personalized' avatar that wasn't an actual photo of myself, and voila!:

I'm such a geek. :)

Once you've created your character, you can save it several different ways. Headshots, bodyshots, animated, non-animated. This is the animated version of me. You've got a half-hour or so to kill, don'tcha? Go do one for yourself, and let me see it!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

If Today Is Your Birthday...

...then Happy Birthday to us! :)

Yes, another birthday has come around to prove to me that I'm not getting any younger. I'm not giving up without a fight, though - already donned my war paint (i.e., makeup), and dressed in 'power colors' of black and red. My secret motto is 'Look like a million bucks, feel like a million bucks'. Some people say you are what you eat - I tend to think 'you are what you wear'. LOL

Anyway, before I share my 'horoscope of the day', I want to share one that I saved from the year 2000:

If today is your birthday, you are dynamic, inquisitive and very serious where romance is concerned. You are a natural writer, psychologist. you travel more than most. One day you could write a novel.

When I read this, my first thought was 'Gee, I have always wanted to write a novel... maybe I should give it a shot." And six years later, I've written six novels and am hard at work on my seventh. (The first two were pretty much crap, the second two were pretty darn good but 'hard sells', and the last two will be published by HarperCollins next year!) I'm not claiming that all that hard work was the result of the stars being aligned - but reading those words sparked something in me - the 'what if' that propelled me into a whole new career.

Today, my birthday horoscope isn't quite so specific:

Stamina and a discerning eye: Those two qualities enable you to fix just about anything that needs adjusting right now. It's wise to concentrate on your own issues. Friends need to learn how to get out of their own messes.

Ouch. That'll be a hard one... I have so many wonderful friends, and while I can be a bit reclusive, I'd never turn a friend away who had a mess that needed solving. As to concentrating on my own issues, I've got four more books to write in the next two/three years, and plenty of other issues to concentrate on while I'm at it. :)

I plan on doing it all, without neglecting my friends any more than I already do.

Look out world! This Scorpio wants her birthday cake and plans to eat it, too!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I'm sitting here staring at a bag of leftover Halloween candy, and thinking about the nature of temptation. I never eat candy (seriously... well, hardly ever) :). I'm no saint or anything, it just that the way I deal with that particular temptation is to never have any in the house. But here it is, and here I am... and man, that Reese's peanut butter cup has my name written all over it!

It's not just the candy that has me thinking about temptation. I'm working on the third book in my Nicki Styx series, and poor Nicki has some serious temptation on her hands. She's a former 'bad girl' who's trying very hard to be good, but the devil's in the details and the 'details' are pretty damn tempting. Which brings to mind a question I've wondered about for a long time: is being tempted as bad as actually acting on that temptation? Does the fact that we're tempted to do something make us as guilty as if we actually did it?

Take, for example, that hunky guy who works behind the counter of your local Starbucks. Does the fact that you'd rather have him than the Venti Mocha Latte make you a bad person? What about that adorable guy who works in the next cubicle? Does the fact that you look forward to seeing him everyday (even though you're married), fantasize about him (even though he's married) mean that you're mentally cheating? *Please note, Dear Reader, I work at home - but I've done my time in a cubicle. :) Dilbert has nothing on me...

Anyway, we're tempted all the time, aren't we? Tempted to do things we know we shouldn't - eat too much, drink too much, tell a little white lie here, a fib there, lie about our age, our weight, our successes, our failures, our whereabouts and our habits. Sometimes we give in to temptation with no real consequences - other times the consequences can be disastrous.

When you think of your greatest temptation, what comes to mind? I'd tell you mine, but my mouth's too full of Reese's peanut butter to talk clearly. :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Frightfully Good Time Was Had By All...

I tried all day yesterday to upload some pictures from my Halloween party, but Blogger just wouldn't cooperate. *sigh* But today, the forces of the universe are flowing in my direction, and here they are! First up, a nice shot of the graveyard:

Here's three of the cutest witches you'll ever see:

He wants his mummy:

Like mother, like daughter (that's me with the bird):

One seriously weird dude:

Madame Zelda draws a crowd:

It was tons of fun, tons of candy, tons of people and tons of work! LOL But we all had fun, and the best part is that we raised almost $500.00 for the Freedom Playground Foundation, which is a local charity working to build an 'all-access' playground for handicapped children.

Now can somebody come help me take all this Halloween stuff down?