The Me That I Am

I'm having a pretty shitty Writerly Ego day. Actually, it's kind of been a shitty Writerly Ego month, to be perfectly honest. And when I've shared this little emotional nugget with the BFF and The Husband, I've received a raised eyebrow and a "YOU HAVE A FUCKING AGENT" in response to my pity party. I get where it's coming from. I am in a position a lot of writers would kill for. I have a wonderful agent who thinks me and my writing are worth something and deserve a place on the shelves at Barnes & Noble next to writers I admire like Jenny Lawson Jill SmoklerRobin O'BryantAnna Lefler and Heather Armstrong. It seems, however, that the platform I am currently standing on may not big enough to get there. Or maybe it just feels like that because I'm a writer and us artistic types are moody and overly emotional and maybe I just need a vodka-flavored cookie. Because really? I'm pretty proud of my little platform. I bust my ass for free because writing is who I am and what I do and the writing part is actually more important than getting paid part...for my sanity, at least. The bills sitting on my desk waiting to be paid, however, would rather I stop trying to stay Not Crazy and just get a fucking job that probably wouldn't leave me the time to write for the awesome sites I contribute to.

I love sharing the funny on An Army of Ermas and Funny Not Slutty. Getting a spot on best-selling author Lissa Rankin's Owning Pink site is something I will forever be proud of. I've been published on Hippocampus Magazine and almost fell over when StoryBleed accepted the same piece for publication on their site. And then what I've got going on over here on this little ol' blog o' mine. I'm working on getting my name out there and my writing on more outlets, but these things take time. And Platforms don't build themselves overnight.

I'm by no means in the same stratosphere as the likes of Dooce or The Bloggess or Scary Mommy and that's okay with me. I'm not trying to be them. Just me. And hopefully the Me that I Am will one day be enough.

Maybe this sounds like a Poor Me post, but I don't mean it to. Instead, I wanted to let other aspiring writers out there know that the days of doubting yourself don't end the moment you sign that contract with your dream agent. And, I'm sure my published writer friends will tell me that they sure as hell don't end when a book deal is offered or the day their books were released or even the day they got their first glowing review. Because once someone Other Than You believes in your work, it's not just your ego riding on how many readers connect with that essay you got placed in that literary magazine that you love or how many hits per month your blog is getting or how much better you feel just for having taken the jumbled words out of your head and making some sense of them in a new piece you just started.

Every level of success reached is both a validation of our talents and a new reason to Freak the Fuck out, but it's a lesson in the writing life that I seem to keep having to be reminded of. Three months ago I was still waiting for the Moment All of My Dreams Would Come True and then the world turned upside down when they did because I signed with my agent. That singular moment took two years to make a reality. And you would be right of you guessed that the Freaking Out commenced after the shiny newness of my situation sunk in. It's not just me and my ego on the table anymore. It's me and my ego and my agent's time and effort and enthusiasm and Belief in What I Am and Have Yet to Become.

But if I think back, I probably went through the same little Self-Doubt Fest when I was accepted onto my college newspaper's staff and when I saw my first byline and when I was assigned to cover my first murder case at the city newspaper that hired me right out of college. And then again when I left the newspapers to freelance and when I started this blog and when I woke up this morning and my little girl told me that I'm the best mother in the world.

So maybe shitty Writerly Ego days are just part of the process and part of what makes us who -- and what -- we are. It's our literary equivalent of the trap women set for men when we ask if This Dress Makes Us Look Fat because we really only need to be reminded that in their eyes we are beautiful no matter what how that dress fits us. My platform is what it is. My ass? Probably looks horrible in that dress. But it's okay.

Because tomorrow I'm still going to write something. And someone is going to read it.

I'd Have Stuck To One Topic But The Pharmacuetical Grade Speed Hasn't Kicked In Yet

Maybe it's the phase of the moon. Or perhaps it's my head adjusting to new meds. Or it could just be that my Muse decided to clock out without notifying me and is currently sipping mimosas by the pool at some beach side resort while I sit here staring at my blog wondering what the hell I'm going to write about. If it's the latter, that bitch is so fired.

Until I figure out where my motivation went, I'll thank the Universe for providing me with a few bits of awesomeness to fill this space. Hopefully, my motivation will find its way back home by Wednesday, with that being my next regular posting day, and all.

And now?

 

The First Bit of Awesomeness

My friend Jenna Glatzer must have stolen my scale, as is evidenced by the following Facebook posting:

Dear Bathroom Scale, I've been eating nothing but bird food and cereal for 2 weeks. You are now supposed to show me a LOWER number as a reward for my efforts. I don't mean to question your competence as a scale, but I just thought I'd point out that you seem to be doing it wrong. If you need help understanding how to lower your numbers, please ask my bank account.

 

The Second Bit of Awesomeness

 

It's Back to the 80's week at Funny Not Slutty, y'all. I was lucky enough to be included in the awesomeness, which happened to work out nicely since I was still in possession of The Funny. We've got 80's babies and leotards and John Cusack and a whole bunch of, like, neon-colored, multi-bangled hilariousness going on over there from a boatload of talented women. Click on over, read my piece on what the M in MTV should stand for these days, and save me a trip to my therapist with a little ego boost I like to refer to as A Comment.

 

 

The Third Bit of Awesomeness

You know that An Army of Ermas site I contribute to? (This is the part where you nod your head and say yes because even if you didn't know before you know NOW and will spend your coffee break catching up so you don't have to lie next time) My editor over there, Angie Mansfield, decided I was worth an interview on her blog, The Wandering Zebra and it would be ever so sweet if you'd pop on over, laugh in the right spots, and leave a comment to make me look good for The Powers That Be. (This is the part where you nod your head and...oh never mind. I see you are already familiar with this program. Carry on.)

 

The Fourth Bit of Awesomeness

Remember that LifeProof iPhone case contest? You know, the one for the case that you can pretty much do anything with and STILL have a working phone? Want to know who gets a free case in their choice of color? I'll tell you. Or rather, Random.org selected one of you lucky bastards and I get to pass on the good news. Shelley Oswald will soon be tweeting from the shower with her purple LifeProof case JUST BECAUSE SHE CAN.

Thank you to LifeProof for sponsoring the contest and to all of you for entering.

 

The Fifth Bit of Awesomeness

This one is my favorite.

There's gonna be a wedding, y'all. And I'm gonna be a bridesmaid! Congratulations to my BFF Heather and her new fiance Dave. Buttercup approves, so you guys are all clear to proceed with the planning on the nuptials.

Happy Monday, you crazy kids.

Road Rulz

Did you know that the shape of the school crossing sign is made to represent a school house so as to help those of us behind the wheel of a car remember to follow the posted speed limits?

Yeah...me neither. Which is probably why I was standing in line with 50 other people to sign in for traffic school. As much as that sounds like it would be made of absolute suckage, I have to admit that (aside from the waking up at 5 a.m. thing) the day was pretty entertaining. And by entertaining? I totally mean educational and *clears throat* always obey the rules of the road, kids. You're too pretty to become someone's girlfriend in prison.

And for that matter, so am I.

This is why I'm here today, y'all. To share with you the highlights of what I learned in traffic school. Keep in mind that some (or all except for one) may only apply to Arizona, so I hereby recuse myself and The Army of Ermas of Any of Your Issues if you try to use any of the contents of this post to fight some crazy traffic ticket in the Alaskan boonies.

That being said...

* Never, under any circumstances, point out to the instructor that you found your almost falling asleep at the wheel on the way in to traffic school ironic, seeing as this whole thing is supposed to be about safety.

* It's probably also an even better idea to not file a formal request to allow those with access to the Internet to send in traffic school payment via PayPal and take the course during a special Twitter party with the hashtag "RoadRulz". Trust me...it won't go over well.

* While the driver of a motorcycle is not legally required to wear a helmet, his (or her) passenger is. Insurance companies are thereby encouraged to point and laugh at each biker who willingly signs off on the safety gear and instead chooses to pay a higher premium on his (or her) insurance policy.

* Homeschooling is required for children ages five and up.

* Well, maybe only if parents of said child who will be in a five-point-harness until she's 30 wish to spare her the humiliation of being unstrapped from her car seat every morning at school drop off from now until her senior year of college, seeing as safety seats for kids are not required for children over the age of five.

* "Work with your neighbor" in regards to class tests means the person sitting next to you, not the people who are laughing at you on Facebook for landing yourself in this mess.

* "So, what are you in for" is an acceptable greeting in traffic school.

* "I was FRAMED" is an (obviously) acceptable response to the aforementioned greeting in traffic school but...

*  Streaking blue eye-shadow across one's face and screaming "FREEDOM" upon dismissal tends to be frowned upon.

* Oh right...and the brake pedal's on the left.

Happy Driving!

 

Meet the Ermas: Round 1

I love to laugh. Almost as much as I love to make other people laugh (clarification: on PURPOSE, yo.) So when I was asked to officially hop on the An Army of Ermas bandwagon by the incredibly awesome Stacey I. Graham, I naturally said (and I quote), "Hell Yes!" The beauty of the Ermas site is the multitude of talent you'll find and the humor* (and ability to relate to the real life moments) in the stories shared by each and every writer for the site.

Being a writer myself, I always like to get to know the person behind the words on the screen, and I'm hoping you will, too. There's a lot of Ermas and I'd like for you to get to know each one. Today I'm featuring an interview with Adam Slade. I promise I only featured him first because of the sexy English accent I'm imagining.

PMC- Vanilla or chocolate? I know you expected me to start with age, rank, and serial number, but we need to set the tone for this interview first. Vanilla is safe and boring. Chocolate is funny and a bit adventurous. Or was it the other way around?

Adam-Vanilla, but in a funny and adventurous way. Ha! I'm complex!(With real vanilla pods. Mmm...)

PMC: Sneaky bastard. Okay then. Do you chew your ice cream?

Adam: Yes. Unless it contains nothing chewy. In which case, yes.

PMC: Good. I don't trust people who don't chew ice cream. Now that we're past the pleasantries, I want name, rank, and serial number. Who are you, exactly. And why should I think you're funny?

AS: Adam Slade, Chief Accountant in Charge of Sheep-Dip, #42, MA'AM.

I'm an English author of fantasy and humour (with a U), and have a few books under my belt that you should definitely buy. I'll even throw in a belt to carry them with (I won't). I currently live in Canada with my wife and cat. Both are lovely, though one occasionally bites me.
You should think I'm funny because I try really hard at it. (Don't believe those who say it should come naturally - notice how they're never funny people.)
PMC: I see. Where can one buy your books? And I want that belt.
AS: One (and you, yes you) can buy my books on pretty much every internet ebook seller there is. To cut down on finger strain, though, I'll just link that Amazonian one.

Belts come only with large purchases. Large enough that I can afford to buy a belt from the royalties.
I also write erotic romance under another name, but that's a secret, so you'll just have to buy lots and lots of it in the hope that you get one of mine.

PMC: I was waiting for you to tell me erotic was spelled with a "u". So, Mr. English. Tell me about this Erma gig you've got going on. Did you bribe Stacey with brownies to get in, too?

AS: Nope. Unless you have a past you're not telling me about, there's no "u" in erotica. If I plied Stacey with my brownies, she'd have me arrested for attempted poisoning. After she beat me up, of course. Everyone knows editors have serious guns from all that crossing-out.

Last Christmas Our Glorious Leader put up a competition, asking people to submit their funniest Chrimbo-themed articles. The winner would get both praise and their article posted on the site. Since I'd wussed out of the previous call for writers, I manned up just enough to write something for the contest, and Stacey decided it was worth posting. Just after that, she offered me a spot on the Ermas roster and I said 'booya', followed by 'yes'. I tend to post about once every 2 months, as spots are limited, and sometimes I'm too late/lazy to grab one. I try and keep the articles silly.

PMC: No bribing? Obviously, there is some favoritism present. *lesigh* I was gonna say there is no "I" in erotic but that just backfired on me. So back to you. Where can one find you on the interwebz?

AS: What can I say? It's my English charm. Or the begging. Probably the begging, come to think of it.

I'm speedy with my innuendos. It's a gift. Or a curse. A girse? That sounds like a cross between a giraffe and a horse. Cuft, then?
You can find me in many many places, as I use the internet far too much. My main blog has links to everything else. I'd love for some new followers to go with my ol--, uh, less new ones. They're a lovely bunch. Most can move about without walkers, too.
PMC: Do you ever tweet? Cuz I'm on, like, all the time. And I never see you! Talk more. That might reel in the non-walker crowd.

Just my two cents.

Okey dokey then. Oh wait! You said English charm! Do you have an English accent to go with it? Will you read my my grocery list?

AS: I do tweet, but nowhere near as frequently as I used to. It's a failing of mine.

Yes, I have an English accent, and yes, I can read your shopping list. Lemme see...
Mexifro comb, oil for elliptical trainer, three extra large packets of sarcasm...

PMC: You're lucky I like you....

***

*I thought about adding the "U" out of respect for my English guest. Then I decided I like the way the word looks better when spelled properly.

Five Steps to the Funny

See that nifty little button? Good. That was Step 1.

Step 2 is a little more complicated. It involves me getting you to vote for me.

Lemme 'splain, Lucy.

Remember that awesome An Army of Ermas site I write for? It's the brain child of our fearless leader, Stacey Graham, who has suddenly decided that a little friendly competition might spice things up for us natives. So what does this mean for you, class? It means that as a member of the Army of Ermas, I get to post once a month on whatever funny happens to be hiding out in my brain when I sit down to write. There's a lot of us, and the bottom line for our little competition is that whoever gets the most Facebook likes, tweets, blog hits (to the Erma's site, mind you) and otherwise creates the biggest and loudest cheer section wins something in a year. I'm not sure what that something is, entirely, but I'm really hoping it's a a cloning machine and a deserted island with Wi-Fi.

And yes. I said "year." That means Step 3 is remembering.

Now it's time for Step 4, y'all. That's where I look in the mirror and remind myself that I suck at this kind of thing, so I've decided to become a cheerleader myself for the rest of the Ermas. I'll be starting a weeklyfeature soon that showcases one of my fellow Ermas in their glory. And by weekly, I actually mean When I Get to It, cuz I'm punctual like that.

Oh, and don't worry. Their glory will be fully clothed and with minimal F-bombs because the real Erma didn't play like that, yo.

Step 5 is the best. That's where you read.

And laugh.

Oh...and since we're talking about funny, click on over here to read my latest Ermas column. It's about a straight man with observation skills.

I know.

 

The Writing on the Mirror

I’m the kind of person who can’t watch a scary movie without tucking the comforter under my feet when I go to sleep for fear the monsters under my bed will gnaw off my toes. Walking out of a dark room also proves itself as a form of entertainment for anyone else in attendance as I inch my way away from the bogeyman hiding in the shadows. He’s never actually reached out and dragged me back into the darkness, mind you, but that’s only because I’m so vigilant. I mean, how’s he going to surprise me if I’ve trained myself not to blink as I dart my eyes back and forth while keeping my back pressed to the wall until I’ve made it to the stairs and run like a crazy woman while everyone laughs at me?
I’m also the kind of woman who isn’t ashamed to admit I saw a ghost once or that my grandmother smiled at me when I gave her a kiss in her casket. The ghost we call Fred and my in-laws believe he came with the property. He wears a Fedora and a suit and his tie is undone and only shows up to let you know he’s still around. The smile happened when I was six and I thought my grandmother was sleeping and I didn’t understand why everyone was crying. When it was time to go, my mother lifted me up as I requested so I could kiss her and when my lips touched her cheek, she did what she usually did when I kissed her in her sleep and I left the funeral home content in the knowledge that she loved me.
The point is that I’m a believer. I’m not sure if it’s my open mind or my writer’s imagination or some combination of the two, but when the hair stands up on the back of my neck, I listen. And I can guarantee you that I would not be the chick trying to make my dramatic escape from the ax-wielding maniac while in my high heels if I was a character in a horror movie. I’m not an amateur, you know.
So when I found myself waiting for my boyfriend to come home because my key wouldn’t let me unlock the front door, my first thought (naturally) was that the house was possessed and the evil spirit residing in the home we shared with my future brother-in-law just didn’t want me there. This line of thinking was only reinforced when my boyfriend came home, laughed at me because he thought I had forgotten my house key, and quickly unlocked the door. I let it go the first time it happened, hoping it had just been a fluke, but the next day I found myself on the front porch again furiously trying to make the key work before I had to explain to anyone outside of my own head that I was afraid we were going to have to call in a priest. This time, my boyfriend’s brother rescued me as he let us both in upon his arrival from work. Obviously, the evil spirit in residence only had a problem with me. I was relieved. That meant no one else was in danger.
I was jumpy and hyper vigilant when home alone, always waiting for something to reach out in the darkness. I tried convincing myself it was just new house nervousness. I hadn’t even familiarized myself with the layout enough to not walk into a wall on the way to the bathroom at night yet, so maybe I was just over-reacting? But this theory fell by the wayside as I stood in the bathroom one night, drying off after a hot shower. At first I thought I was imagining things. I wasn’t really seeing letters forming in the steamy mirror, was I? I froze. I may have blinked a few times. And when I opened my eyes the last time, I almost screamed.
“Get Out,” was now clearly written on the mirror. I ran, naked and terrified, across the hall and into the room to wake up my sleeping boyfriend to tell him we had to move and we had to move now before anything terrible happened. I told him that something didn’t want me there and wouldn’t let my key unlock the door there was something evil here and to go look at the mirror. So he did.
And that’s when he started to laugh.
“You need to come see this,” he choked out when he could speak again. I found him in front of the mirror where the words “When you get out of the shower, please make sure to clean up after yourself,” greeted me on the mirror. It had been a household reminder from his brother, written in dry-erase marker and wiped off with a napkin. Obviously, not well enough. The residue from the marker had blocked the condensation from forming where the letters had been, allowing the words to slowly reappear as if written by invisible fingers.
“But..but…how do you explain the key? Something doesn’t want me here!” I insisted.
He didn’t answer. My boyfriend simply grabbed my hand, led me into the bedroom, and handed me the shiny new key he had left for me on the dresser that I had forgotten to put on my key ring.
***
This essay originally appeared on the awesome An army of Ermas site. Stop by for some Halloween-themed fun and keep coming back because we're funny.

An Ode to Ermas

I'm new to the regular writing cast of An Army of Ermas, but I jumped at the chance to devote some well-deserved blog space to my love for Stacey Graham and the Erma's blog.

For the uninitiated, An Army of Ermas is a hilarious mix of columns by various humor writers bringing The Funny about family life. I came across the site quite by accident while spending entirely too much time on Twitter shut up one day and because I was busy procrastinating, one link led to another which led to me following head Erma, Stacey, and eventually tweeting her an offer of my undying love and devotion and, possibly, liquor-flavored brownies if she would take me.

I think I probably forgot to mention the fact that I think I'm funny and sometimes, other people do, too, but that didn't seem to matter. The brownies got me in.

So thank you to Stacey for her tireless efforts in coordinating the site, keeping all of us Ermas in line, and giving me a spot at the Cool Kids table in the cafeteria. Thank you, Stacey. My therapist sends her regards.