Favorite Fairytale Follow-ups!

Let’s play “Where Are They Today?” with a special focus on our Career Edition!

Snow White: This fair maiden no longer has skin as white as snow since she overcooked herself in a tanning salon to prepare herself for the huntsmen, (the Queen’s hunky assistant who saved Snow White’s life by hiding her in a forest, instead of killing her) on their wedding day. Ms. White now works in the field of sleep disorders (actually many Fairytale characters find the subject of sleep to be the bane of their existence!) and runs a clinic specializing in insomnia, oversleeping, nightmares, and F.F.F. (FatalFlawFruit) which is a common syndrome rendering victims helpless if they should fall into a deadly slumber after biting a Red Delicious apple. The handsome prince, (whom Snow divorced after trying to make her marriage work for 2.5 years) is currently a member of a 12-Step group for people compelled to kiss the lips of individuals impersonating corpses in glass coffins. It’s called “Dead End Relationships Anonymous.” (As of yet, there are no specific 12-Step groups to address the addictions of the individuals inside those glass coffins.) Meanwhile the seven dwarf miners saved up all their sick and vacation days and so it’s — Off to Bali they go!

Cinderella: Cindy has designed an entire line of shatterproof acrylic shoes, after getting a shard of glass deeply embedded in her heel from those fateful slippers. Her unique tagline is, “From flip-flops to stilettos, one thing is perfectly clear . . . someone with a foot-fetish will need to be transparent about it from the very start!” Her two wicked step-sisters briefly dabbled as adult film stars, but eventually settled into a housecleaning business called “The Merry (Scary!) Maids” and they have a sideline company throwing fancy balls and inviting everyone with the exception of Cinderella. So far they’ve dribbled lacy basketballs, rolled sequined bowling balls, hit velvet tennis balls, and kicked pearlized footballs in front of appreciative audiences whilst Cinderella remained banished from every court. Instead Cindy contents herself staying home watching her handsome prince bake pumpkin pies whilst trying to control their rodent problem with humane traps.

Sleeping Beauty: This ambitious early-riser (who only answers to Aurora now) finally cured her narcolepsy at Snow White’s Sleeping Disorder clinic, and has a lot more on her mind these days than just pricking fingers. She sews elaborate baby christening gowns and shows up at the events to monitor the blessings that guests bestow on the innocent little tykes. The gift of Song, the gift of Beauty, the gift of Charm, the gift of Huggies diapers are all permitted, but lest someone try to utter “the gift of a Spindle on a Spinning Wheel,” and you haven’t seen real revenge until you’ve seen this slumbering beauty wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty also divorced her prince of a husband because she couldn’t get past his dragon breath which he unfortunately picked up whilst slaying one in her honor. Meanwhile Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather have taken their bumbling stand-up comedy on cruise ships, billing themselves as the “The Three Stooges Wearing Rouges” going extra heavy with blush on their cheeks. It’s really quite humorous how they make-up this work! Evil Maleficent never responded to the official “What are you up to these days?” survey, but she is thought to have gotten involved in the movie sequel industry.

Rapunzel: Rest a-sheared, today we find Rapunzel straightening out her life and towering over the other princesses on Amazon simply by marketing a reformulated ladder she calls “Hairway To Heaven” and you can guess what it’s made out of! Handymen the world over are loving this new shiny, full of body, replenishing way to climb up on rooftops, change ceiling lightbulbs, and hang Christmas decorations under any condition(ers). See you on QVC Rapunzel!

Rumplestiltskin: This conniving shyster went from spinning straw to gold to writing legit Baby Naming books which consistently rank in the top three on the New York Times Bestseller List. His secret? He takes three common words and strings them together (Rumple/Stilt/Skin) until they sound so exotic and mysterious that even a Queen might not guess the name. Rip/Van/Winkle was a big fan until he fell into such a lengthy sleep that a good samaritan brought him to . . . (wait for it!) Snow White’s Sleep Disorder clinic. . . where he met up with The Princess and the Pea (who was there successfully curing her inability to get a good night’s rest on green produce!) and the rest they say, is Happily-Ever-After History!

Always Snoozing! These former lazy princesses have awakened to bigger and better things!

That Time God Left Me a Voicemail

It all began when my cellular device accidentally went through the washing machine for an entire 60-minute cycle. I couldn’t believe what I had done when I spied its bright pink case as I transferred the rest of the bedsheets into the dryer. Nooooo! I disliked Siri, but tumble-drying her seemed a bit harsh, so I plucked out my smartphone and immediately submerged it into a bag of rice, remembering reading that was the recipe to resuscitate it after drowning.

As luck (my luck at least!) would have it, a grain of rice wedged itself into the speaker’s tiny crevice and thus began my intricate surgery with tweezers, needles, safety pins, and the sharp metal teeth of a lice comb….yes ewww! With zero success, I resigned myself to having a working phone but without any sound, while my wisecracking teenager suggested I run it through the washing machine to dislodge the rice.

For days I learned to make do. I changed my outgoing message so it advised people to please text or email me instead. For the stubborn few that refused to do that, I relied heavily on the transcription my cellphone would type out for me as it played back someone’s totally garbled, muffled voicemail. Yesterday came this surprising and miraculous interpretation:

Yes, this is God calling on Wednesday afternoon. I understand you’re dissatisfied with the service you’ve been receiving. I’ll try you again soon to discuss.

Seriously? Oh my God! How did he get my number? (And I hope my number isn’t up!) I wouldn’t say I was ‘dissatisfied’ with his service, but a few more of my prayers could’ve easily been answered. And when I said “God bless you” to my kids after they sneezed, he might’ve done a little something extra for them, I mean it’s not like they’re adults wanting a new car or a job — they’d be totally thrilled with a silly party favor or discovering an extra cookie on their life path.

I looked at my incoming log to see about getting back to him (how can you ignore God’s calling??) fully expecting it to be listed as “Blocked” or “Unknown Caller” but there was an actual 1-800 number. Just like God to arrange to be reachable to the masses toll-free! But then I realized with the rice jamming my speaker, there still wouldn’t be clear audio, and I’d hate to keep saying “Pardon?” and wasting God’s time in case he wasn’t enrolled in the unlimited minutes plan.

I re-recorded my outgoing message, this time with a emphatic plea. “Hi this is Stephanie, but Good Lord please PLEASE text me because my speaker is broken!” I then excitedly entered God’s phone number into my contacts with his name in all capital letters followed by three exclamation points. (Three seemed like an appropriate number because of all that trinity stuff, even though I’m Jewish.) I also decided to give God his own ring-tone as well — The William Tell Overture.

And sure enough this time he followed directions and my screen lit up with a text from “GOD!!!”  Here is an exact replication of our text chat.

“GOD!!!” — Hi. When is a good time to pop on over?

(Good heavens! I needed time to clean up my house and maybe cook something spectacular to serve. Wow just think ….soon I’ll be serving God.)

Me: Gosh, um well about how long do you think you’ll stay?

GOD!!! — With any luck at all, it won’t take long.

Me: Oh I don’t think you’ll need luck. I have total faith in you.

GOD!!! — How refreshing. A month ago you cursed me out.

Me: If I EVER did that, I want to humbly apologize. I beg of you.

GOD!!! — You’re forgiven. That’s just the way I roll. But with a few quick adjustments, you’ll be good to go watching Life Time in a flash!

Me: Oh no! I don’t want to watch my Life flash before my eyes. I know what that means.

GOD!!! — No worries! But if there’s a man, he’ll be glad I’m stopping over before the big fight tonight.

Me: (bashfully) Oh God, there IS a special guy in my life right now. All thanks to you. And I appreciate your heads up that there will be a fight. We never argue, but I’ll bake some brownies to appease him just in case.

GOD!!! — Sure, whatever.

(Wait till my kids hear that they’re in such good company saying, “whatever!” and “No worries!”)

As I nervously awaited God’s visit, my mother called. I answered on the first ring and told her I was tied up writing an article I was about to submit to Redbook magazine. As an atheist, I knew she’d never believe I would be busy entertaining God. My cell rang again and I let it go into voicemail but quickly glanced at the transcript to make sure it wasn’t God calling to say he was caught in traffic.

“Hi, it’s your Dom. I’m wondering if you’re still tied up? I want to discuss your submission.”

What kind of a kinky message was this?  Wait. A. Second. It was becoming clear to me now. My cell’s transcribing app had mistakenly typed the word “Dom” instead of “Mom.”

And that’s why just three minutes later, after the door knocked loudly three (of course three!) times, I was completely prepared to see standing on my doorstep not God (in the flesh!) but instead …. Rod, (acting a little fresh!) that obnoxious millennial worker from my local cable company here to fix my poor television reception.

 

Creating a Fight to Make Sure You Argue Effectively!

Well, well well …. you knew one day it would come to this, right? In my defense, the problem is that I read too much. If only my eyes hadn’t landed on the glaring headline, “All Couples Fight, but Here’s How Successful Couples Do It!”

ALL couples?? Gulp. I grew immediately panic-stricken when I realized there hadn’t been any arguments in the new relationship I was in. Not. A. Single. One. What was wrong with us? How would we ever know if we were a successful couple? We have been putting all this time and energy into having a stress-free relationship and now that was going to be counterproductive.

We’d never even had a slight disagreement about something as innocuous as our food preferences. One of us will say, “Mushrooms are a fungus and I can’t stand them or anyone who eats them.” And the other will nod empathetically and say, “The world will not be safe until mushrooms are eradicated!” and then we’ll order a plain cheese pizza to seal our bond over the common enemy.

At first I tried to calm down by reminding myself this article was just click-bait or an urban legend. But Snopes confirmed it to be true. In fact, there were links to other supporting evidence like, “Couples Who Argue Together, Stay Together, Research Finds.”  OMG! You cannot state, “Research Finds” blatantly in your title if research does not actually find it! My new boyfriend and I were doomed.

Unless I acted prudently and propelled us quickly and effectively down the road of quarreling. But how? And over what? It should happen organically and naturally, I thought. Fortunately that’s exactly the point when this surfaced in my newsfeed. “4 Fights Every Couple Must Get Through Because They’ll Actually Bring You Closer.”

Aha…a roadmap! We could make up for lost time by closely following the steps to these four recommended fights all in one day. I quickly committed the article to memory and dialed my boyfriend’s number. “Play it cool, Stephanie” I chastised myself. “Ease into it.”

Me: Hi. How are you? I don’t want to have any children. I think the world isn’t a good place to bring kids into.

Him: But what will you do with the six you already have? Also you’re 55 years old.

Me: (flustered) I am not.

Him: Are so.

Me: Am not.

Him: Are so.

Things were going along swimmingly like this for several hours until he finally conceded that I looked more like I was in my mid-forties and so obviously my Match profile must’ve had a typo — then he gallantly apologized. He hung up after saying he adored me. Well that qualified as completing our first official fight, but there still were three more arguments to get through. I dialed him back.

Me: I’m not feeling heard by you.

Him: Shouldn’t you say something first so I can hear it?

Me: That’s not how I mean the word ‘heard.’

Him: Oh! Herd? Where would you like me to herd you? We could go to dinner or a movie with a very large group of people? We could visit sheep? We could…

Me: (exasperated) I mean that you don’t listen to me.

Him: (Silence)

Me: Hello? Are you there?

Him: Yes. I’m listening.

Me: Our communication styles are totally different.

Him: Still listening.

Me: See? You never participate by volunteering your point of view. You just sit there quietly, only focused on listening to me.

This argument got completed and checked off the list in record time! He told me I wasn’t making any sense and then we were off to the races with things really escalating and it ended with him suggesting we see a therapist. Yes! We should go immediately and as luck would have it, tonight there was an opening. Because at this point, I was more than grateful to have a counselor guide us through the other two disagreements more professionally.

Me: I’m dissatisfied with the frequency we have intimate relations.

Him: Completely the first time I’m hearing this from her.

Therapist: Stephanie, would you like to have intimate relations more or less than you’re currently having them?

Me: (Damn my menopausal memory. Quickly trying to google that last article to find the answer) Uh, um….well… Give me just a second to decide.

Therapist: While she’s thinking it over, are there any other issues you’re having?

Him: None. Prior to today, we had zero trouble.

Therapist: Interesting. Stephanie would you agree that you haven’t had any problems until just now?

Me: Shoot. Don’t you get internet up here on the eighth floor? What’s your wi-fi password?

Therapist: Would you like to answer that last question, Stephanie?

Me: Well just going from sheer memory, there was one final 4th argument. Let me see….oh yes…one of us inherited a ton of money from the recent death of a parent and now we’re disagreeing on whether that money should go in our joint bank account.

Therapist: I’m very sorry for your loss. And that’s a super common argument for married couples to have.

Him: We’re not married.

Me: Are so.

Him: Are not.

Me: Are so.

Him: Are so.

Me: Are not . . .

Again, I was extraordinarily pleased with the expediency of our getting through all four of the recommended arguments in less than 24 hours, when suddenly the therapist intervened.

Therapist: I’m afraid you’ll have to continue this super UNcommon argument on your own time. Our session is over and I’m meeting my own husband for a delicious mushroom pizza!

In that instant my boyfriend and I both made equally intense expressions of disgust and revulsion. We linked our arms together and shot daggers with both sets of our extremely compatible eyes toward our mutual enemy, as we went home to partake in extremely satisfying intimate relations at just the right frequency.

READERS: What’s your opinion? Does every couple argue? And is how well you argue predictive of the future quality of your relationship? And most importantly, are you a mushroom lover?

Confusion! Is This a Public Blog or My Personal Diary?

The best (and worst!) gift I ever received was on my twelve birthday when my mother gave me a rainbow unicorn sequined covered diary with a tiny padlock and key and told me it was to record all my private thoughts. Looking back, perhaps she never uttered the word “private?” That would make sense and would explain why on the inside first page I had scrawled, “If found, please return to Stephanie at the following address:______. Under no circumstances should this diary be opened because it contains all my best secrets!”

On the back inside cover I’d painstakingly written, “Like what you’ve read? Are you an editor, publisher or producer? If so, we should talk!” And then printed my phone number with instructions to call collect. Obviously I thought my future huge royalties would cover any long distance charges. Hey, I was nobody’s fool! I’d heard of Go Ask Alice whose druggie days detailed in her entries were made public after she overdosed, and of course The Diary of Anne Frank which was immortalized in libraries forever. I just planned on having fame happen to me without the death part.

During the next five years, I used my diary for composing awful poetry, true confessions, angry tirades, fantasy crushes, and to trick nosy people like my brother (who I was certain was reading it while I was out on dates) into believing that our mother was planning to take him to Disneyland if he treated me a lot nicer. (Yes I stole that idea from a Brady Bunch episode.)

My mother also confiscated my diary during some particularly angsty teenage turbulence and took it to a psychiatrist, using it as evidence to obtain a prescription for Prozac for me.

This little journal of mine was also the impetus which had me wondering what other diarists were writing behind their own locks and keys? And that was the start of my digging into the dresser drawers of my cousins during family gatherings, my friends’ closets when I was invited to their home after school — often turning up paragraphs that were about me, saying some not so nice things. One or two diary authors even had the nerve to write, “That Stephanie sure has become a prying busybody!” Hmmph, can you imagine?  So that’s what people really thought, but wouldn’t say so to my face!

My snooping addiction continued on for decades and I suppose I must now formally apologize to all the mothers/wives of the children I supervised and whose lingerie chests I rummaged through after I tucked their kids into bed and found their treasure trove of R-rated paraphernalia, amongst a few diaries, which contained absolutely nothing about me — and wouldn’t it have been awfully strange if they HAD written about their awkward babysitter? So please forgive me, ladies!

I soon graduated from ‘Diary Invading’ to ‘Eavesdropping’ and I accomplished that by quietly listening in on extensions of landline telephones, putting my ear to the walls of closed doors, and even playing messages left on other people’s answering machines by obtaining their 3-digit remote codes which were stamped underneath. But who could blame me? By that time I had learned that you never knew what anyone truly thought of you unless you investigated thoroughly. You can read about my spying sprees  HERE and  HERE.

Fast forward to present day and this blog. I sometimes find myself elaborately filtering my content (just as I strategically planned out what I’d put in my diary all those years ago) by calculating who exactly my readers will be. Many times I’ll edit and delete confidential truths that would make me feel extremely vulnerable and exposed if ex-husbands, old boyfriends, relatives, girlfriends, or my own children perused my posts. And they definitely do! Other times I get extremely brave and throw caution to the wind like THIS ONE.

In fact, the reactions of followers who know me in real life never ceases to amaze me no matter how careful I am. Some are furious when something they’ve said gets incorporated into an article, yet there’s nothing attributing the cleverness of the remark to them. (I’ve started accommodating them with footnotes and bibliographies.) Then there’s my 1st ex-husband who doesn’t waste his “valuable” time reading here, but will often send me cease and desist letters because a mutual friend has told him, “Uh oh. Stephanie’s at it again, saying negative things about your engineering personality being as much fun as getting a cavity filled after getting your appendix removed.” I’ll manage to convince him that the insult was really aimed toward dentists and surgeons, because how could anyone ever disparage his “sparkling” disposition?? He’ll agree wholeheartedly and we’ll hang up wishing each other well.

Here are other typical responses from people I’m connected to:

My Mom — I don’t do those controlling things you say I do in your blog. I hope your readers know what a wild imagination you have! By the way, a little Prozac would help you settle down.

My 2nd Ex-Husband — Remember…our divorce decree specifically states on page 7, paragraph 12 that from this date forward, I am to be hereby referenced solely as “1st-ex-husband, The Engineer” in all of your publications.

Boyfriend — You’re taking notes in your head about our date tonight, aren’t you? Here, let me open the car door for you. Let me get the check. I didn’t realize you were allergic to daffodils. Next time, roses for sure. My name is spelled with a G not a J for Yelp review purposes.

Daughter — Thanks a lot, Mom. I just failed my Department of Motor Vehicles exam because the test driver who took me out is a follower of your blog and read this POST!

Son — My seventh grade teacher reads your blog regularly but still marked me as an unexcused absence yesterday for Rosh Hashanah. Can you write one of your really long and boring,  um… humorous posts about Judaism and make sure it spells out that I was dutifully sitting next to you in synagogue yesterday? Thanks and Shalom, Mom!

God — Hello down there, Stephanie D. Lewis! What in God’s My Name do you think you’re doing? You’ve reduced me to a mere online presence just to get published  HERE in The Huffington Post? You don’t think I’m a subject matter worthy of at least something people hold tangibly in their hands and often find in hotels? Like People Magazine??!

Writers: Do you ever modify your blog posts based on who you think could be out there reading? Or do you just write whatever you want, no holds barred? Readers: Do you get annoyed when you show up in someone’s writing?

How Can You Want What You Already Have?

Many readers individually messaged me to journey further into my last blog post “What Happens When the Honeymoon Phase is Over?”

So awaaaaay we go . . .

  1. You’re eating your third pralines and cream ice-cream cone. It’s your favorite flavor and you’ve had a real craving because it’s been forever since you treated yourself to it. How many licks into it do you still really and truly have strong interest for it? Maybe a bag of salty Lays potato chips is starting to sound better right about now?
  2. You always wanted to be a novelist. It was your life’s dream. And now you’ve put out three books — congratulations on achieving your goal! Ho hum, now it’s feeling kinda old hat. What’s next on your bucket list? Becoming a literary agent … a professional who helps others reach their own writing goals. Now THAT sounds fascinating, right?
  3. You’re in a relationship with someone you thought was highly intriguing, rather mysterious, and definitely “hard-to-get.” But they finally noticed you and now you’ve settled in for a monogamous commitment. How is it then that your bedroom life has become a predictable yawn, and why do your eyes zero in on the next elusive stranger who happens to flit by?

Of course the common thread in all three scenarios is … Desire. What propels it and what causes it to dissipate? Is a burning desire as simple as wanting what we cannot have? “The grass is always greener” or “The Forbidden Fruit?” Lets take that last phrase literally for a moment. If you hear a newsflash that after tomorrow bananas will be outlawed, what will go through your head? Yes, it will soon be illegal to grow them, ingest them, or use them in slapstick comedy … so of course what will you suddenly want more than anything, starting tomorrow? Even if you never really cared for them in the first place. That’s right….get peeling! Cuz you’re about to go bananas for bananas.

Every failed dieter knows this lesson when their “Last Supper” on Sunday night consists of everything the new diet deems “off-limits” come Monday morning.

Impending scarcity leads to desire!

But what can lead to maintaining desire?? Is it as simple as remembering that “Variety is the spice of life?” Sticking with the banana metaphor here — let’s say bananas actually have always been your all-time favorite food. And some new wacky reality television gameshow will pay you to eat nothing but bananas. In fact each day that you consume only bananas, you’ll earn a hundred dollars. (Being paid to eat your favorite food? Piece of cake! Or banana cream pie!) But I’ll wager you won’t leave the show with anywhere close to a thousand bucks in your pocket. And what do you wanna bet that you split (banana split?) even sooner than a week? Yes bananas quickly became extremely Dole dull, didn’t they?

Feast or Famine!

So if desire (and lack thereof) is predicated on levels of deprivation and/or abundance, is it possible to sustain our hunger, yearning, aching, lusting, hankering, coveting something (or someone) once we secure it? I’m going to go out on a limb here by stating that we attempt to maintain passion and desire by the unconscious act of pushing away the things that we really want, keeping ourselves in a constant state of arousal? Psychologists take note: maybe it’s not the “fear of failure” that causes us to self-sabotage after-all? Maybe it’s just the brain’s way of keeping us interested.

Still not convinced? Why does a dog bury a bone when he knows it’s possible to indulgently sleep with the bone 24/7 in its bed or doghouse. But nooooooo. The dog hides the bone from himself so it has some distance from the bone and can sorely miss the bone. Later it becomes a thrilling surprise to happen to be digging in the backyard garden and whoa… would you look at that? It’s baaaaaack! Alright don’t go Googling this because you’ll find some silly explanation about how dogs need to instinctively protect their food from other predators because it hearkens back to the days before they were domesticated. Just do me a favor and stick with me on this.

However if you think my theories are for the dogs, let me get more human with you. On this blog it’s no secret my life romances haven’t sustained themselves longer than ten years. Early in my first marriage as a young and immature woman, I actually created arguments out of thin air with my new husband. I couldn’t figure out why I did this repeatedly until it dawned on me that our reconciliation was super exciting to me. I would bring myself to the brink of “losing something” so I could reawaken my desire for it once again and have the challenge (and satisfaction) of earning it back. Makeup sex anyone?

Only slightly more mature, I enter into a second marriage secretly thrilled that this husband travels frequently for business so I’ll have time and space to actually pine for him. Whenever he returned, things instantly became new and fresh again! Judaism understands how physical separation enhances a marriage, and actually will sometimes promote it as a side benefit to Family Purity Laws. Curious? Read more HERE.

In my next long-term relationship, (where I somehow manage to grow even more selfish and immature) I calmly ended things after they became overly predictable and lackluster some five years later. But this time, rather than trying to manipulate and trick desire into coming back . . . surprise (!) — desire had its own way with me when I least expected it. And was it ever painful.

Because another woman found my carelessly discarded ex-boyfriend to be the answer to her dreams and quickly nabbed him, my sudden reignited passion for him went through the roof, and let me just say that I became extremely physically ill realizing how playing mind-games and trying to control and manipulate had backfired on me big time. I then proceeded to (single-handedly!) help all the authors of books titled, “How to Get Your Ex Back, Even If You Were the One Who Broke Up” send their kids to college. Not a proud moment.

Does Stephanie ever stop riding a Streetcar Named Desire?

I will abruptly end here without telling you the answer (so your desire for me to post more about this topic stays heightened?) but I want to leave you with a terrific video from Esther Perel that has over 3.5 million views and counting. Click on THIS (but be sure and skip the ad, sorry!) and then leave me a comment with your thoughts. And I hereby promise to always want you as a follower, even if you already are one!

                                       Where did I purposely bury my heart’s desire????

What Happens After The Honeymoon is Over?

         Going, going . . . GONE!

 

They say it’s inevitable and happens to all relationships. Who are “They??” I hate them! The initial magic starts to fade, the rush of learning new things as a “couple” subsides, the novel unpredictability and the exciting challenge starts to feel like a sure thing and a walk in the park with your eyes closed. And yes you can get mugged when you walk in the park with your eyes closed, but that’s not the novel unpredictability you want. Boredom sets in. Then the fact that you’re bored sends you into questioning the relationship and soon you’re googling, “How to Regain that Spark” and finding over 1.6 million of these kind of titles right HERE.

My First Husband told me we would never have to worry about this problem because he had the perfect solution — after the wedding, we would simply not embark on a traditional honeymoon trip. If it never began, it could never end. Logic like this is only one of the hundreds of reasons he will continue to be justifiably referred to as “My First Husband.”

My Second Husband and I had a whirlwind courtship and married rather quickly so our honeymoon phase was quickly interrupted by extreme morning sickness, baby preparations, and worries about Down Syndrome when test results came back highly elevated. Luckily our daughter was born perfectly healthy, but our romantic life was no longer “highly elevated.” Sadly, that elevator never went above the bargain basement floor after all the newfound responsibilities of parenting kicked our butts.

After my second divorce, my obsession with keeping the Honeymoon Stage alive kicked into high gear and truly began in earnest. We’re talking a full-time job, (I wasn’t just moonlighting in Honeymooning!) and I was determined to think outside the (Victoria’s Secret shipping) box.

Here are the tactics, tips, tricks, and techniques I tried, but to no avail:

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT: Notice that is NOT a typo. The phrase doesn’t read, “Familiarity Breeds Content.” Therefore I decided if part of the problem was we eventually knew each other inside and out, I would be intentionally mysterious and hard to pin down. Here was how that looked . . .

HIM: So what’s your favorite color?

ME: Why do you ask?

HIM: I’d like to buy you something.

ME: I feel it’s too soon to release that information, so I’ll just say Rainbow. My favorite color is rainbow.

HIM: Yeah, my choices are yellow, red, or pink. Roses don’t come rainbow. Never mind that. What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor, I’ll pick some up.

ME: It’s not Rocky Road. It’s not Cookies N’ Cream. It’s not Salted Caramel, it’s not Mint Chip, it’s not ….

HIM: Oh my god, woman. What IS it then?

ME: If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER: I really thought I had it right with this one! I intentionally put physical distance between us as often as I could, encouraging him to go on lengthy business trips, scheduling back to back writer’s conferences, and going out with girlfriends instead of more frequent dates with him. Surely I would miss him, crave him, pine for him, and then our eventual reunion would be off the charts Electric! Uh…apparently there’s this whole other conflicting adage that goes like this – “Out of sight, out of mind!” And sadly, that’s the one that ruled my heart. I soon forgot what exactly attracted me to him in the first place, and if I was doing so fine and dandy alone, what was even the point of reconvening??

THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US: This is the tact you take when you think that you and your new lover are different from the rest of the population and can beat the system if you approach it preventatively. Clear out your bookshelves, add more storage space on your cellphone, and make room on your calendar, because you will buy so many enrichment books, download so many relationship podcasts, and attend so many Couple’s Workshops that you could power the sunrise on a cloudy day with all your romantic insights. Except the sun WILL eventually set on the honeymoon stage for you two as well. And so you should now resort to . . .

DAZZLING, DARING, DOPAMINE: Supposedly this is the neurotransmitter that makes it all so incredible!  If you can maintain high levels of this compound in your brain, you’ve got it made in the shade. But don’t stay in the shade! Get out into the sunshine and go parasailing, sky-diving, windsurfing, skiing, river-rafting, and rollercoaster riding! But as you’ll soon find out, you should break up with your mate and start dating the owner of Groupon. Do you know how expensive all of this adventurous stuff is to do? Not to mention the cost of landing in the ER with a broken rib or a sprained ankle. There has to be a better way?

THE BETTER WAY: Many of my Couple Friends state this, “Stephanie, you’ll actually be grateful when the Honeymoon Stage wears off. Because that’s when the real deep and truly satisfying intimacy begins and you go to a whole new level that there’s just no way to articulate. Believe us when we say there’s nothing like the intuitive knowledge of finishing your partner’s sentences for them and then falling asleep to the rhythmic sounds of their snores.” Essentially they are saying, “Forget dopamine. Serotonin is where it’s at!” These are the same people who become diabetic and can never eat sugar again but will try to convince you, “I never realized just how sweet broccoli tastes. It’s indescribable.” These are highly suspect individuals for sure!

Readers: If you’ve found a surefire way to keep the Honeymoon Stage everlasting, please put it in the comments section. Alternatively, if you know the reason why it’s totally unimportant to do so, please also chime in the comments section — I beg of you! For now, I’m sticking to the conclusion that when you’re with the absolute right person, it doesn’t take hard work, contrived behaviors, or gimmicks — it all just unfolds the way it’s supposed to. Stay tuned for an update on my fairytale hypothesis!

Science says THIS has an expiration date. Noooooooo!

Improvements I’m Making In the World of Romance & Love

Why should finding a job be the only thing we have Resumes for?

Why should restaurants, hotels, and spas/salons be the only thing we have Yelp reviews for?

Why should computers, cellphones, cars, or boardgames be the only stuff that comes with a User Guide or an Instruction Manual?

 

Introducing The Romance Resume (using myself as an example)

 

 Stephanie D. Lewis

1964 You’ve Met Your Match Rd. — Soulmateville, ME

icleanupnice@gmail.com

 

SUMMARY

A wide range of endeavors with previously committed, conflicted partners has enabled me to overlook most people’s personality flaws while still suggesting 11-mile beach walks. Romantic scenarios and awkward intimate situations handled with aplomb.

EXPERIENCE

HOT MESS IN SAN DIEGO (Marriage — 10 Years)

  • 15% Hot, 85% Mess
  • Performed wifely duties even when nobody was watching
  • Great vocabulary, frequently used the word “aplomb” with great aplomb
  • Laughed at his jokes as if hearing them for the very first time
  • Packed him interesting lunches with a high trade-in value at the office
  • Apologized easily using “I” messages to own up to mistakes: “I’m sorry I married a humorless engineer such as yourself!”
  • Hung up phone expediently during conversations, often when he was mid-sentence
  • Gracefully accepted hair growing into Farrah Fawcett style, (thus saving on salon visits!) even though trend ended four decades ago.
  • Spearheaded meetings with interpersonal discussions that started with, “If your mother and I were on a sinking boat that didn’t have enough life vests, who would you jump in and save first?

SLEEPLESS, SPOTLESS, SCENTLESS, SCHEDULE-LESS, SCALE-LESS,  IN SEATTLE (Marriage — 9 + Years)

  • High-functioning spouse even with severe insomnia, losing dog named Spot, zero perfume or candles, never writing down important appointments, or weighing herself
  • Exuberant in non-stop rainy weather
  • Skilled in TV remote delegation
  • No special preference for a side of the bed
  • Met all sexual deadlines
  • Exceeded all dust-mite quotas

DEFINITELY DESTINY FOR STEPHANIE (Girlfriend/Fiancé — 6 Years)

  • Intentionally left off the accent mark in correspondence when using the word ‘fiancé’ so it looked like I was an expert in finance instead of being engaged
  • Attended all necessary office socialization events with him, nodding appropriately to his co-workers and saying, “Yes, I can verify that!” each time he spoke
  • Instinctively changed name to Bethany (which rhymed with Stephanie) when reputation as Stephanie became tarnished, damaging those associated with her
  • Carved baked potatoes into subliminally seductive shapes, then wrapped them in tinfoil to set the evening mood
  • Painted red-flags pink

AWARDS/ACHIEVEMENTS/AFFLICTIONS

Knows all lyrics to The Winner Takes it All by Abba and lapses into them at opportune moments

Voted Most Likely to Look Okay From Far Away With Your Glasses Off in high school

Listens to friends’ troubles and problems, offering sound advice I would never think to follow myself

Went the entire year without eating so much of a sliver from the top layer of our frozen wedding cake which was meant to be thawed out and shared together on our first anniversary according to Bridal Magazine. Smashed entire thing into his face when he called it “a stupid and pointless tradition,” thus efficiently making up for not doing this cute little feeding ritual at our actual wedding reception.

Consistently phoned a happily married pair of friends every day for a month on their landline, sat silently until they each accused the other one of having an affair — then expediently provided them with the business card of our Couples’ Therapist so she wouldn’t have an empty appointment slot in the middle of her schedule after my boyfriend and I broke up and cancelled our ongoing sessions.

EDUCATION

Studied Ginger Grant’s walk on Gilligan’s Island

Mentored by Lucy Ricardo

Graduated Charm School w/ Post Alpha Bitta Cereal honors

 

Introducing The Love Yelp Review (Example written by 2nd husband)

***** 8/02/19

Stephanie D. Lewis was my first and last foray into Liouve. That is not a typo as she puts the “I Owe You” into Love. When I first met Stephanie, her customer service was wonderful, her product was unique, and she was a great value for the time and energy I spent on her. As years went by, the Stephanie D. Lewis no longer had a laid back atmosphere and she became a bit dry and underseasoned, although the humor she provided still had a real kick to it. Parking is limited around her exterior and if you stay overnight you can expect to be towed at your own expense. All in all, I would say you won’t Yelp too much during your relationship, but you should still expect lingering pain. Oh! Bring an umbrella as she hates the sun, and beware of the subtle yet shapely baked potatoes, which she serves with great aplomb.

Introducing a Personal Direction Sheet (written example by Hasbro)

The object of ‘Stephanie Perfection’ is to see which of the two partners stay sanest at the game’s conclusion. Play commences in one shared home as your opponent utters something extremely agitating, immediately followed by “Sorry!” and the slam of a door. Do not pass the kitchen, do not collect a home-cooked meal. Soon you’ll find yourself in a little room racing the timer to fit all the yellow shapes into a vibrating pop-up tray before it buzzes and rudely jolts you into an adrenaline rush. But tell me does she kiss like I used to kiss you? Does it feel the same when she calls your name? Somewhere deep inside, you must know I miss you. But what can I say, rules you must obey. So the winner takes it all. And the loser has to fall. The winner takes it all, the loser standing small. Besides her victory, that’s her destiny. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOlEsQxmKGc

 

 

 

 

 

Readers: Which one do you think could be a viable future tool for daters? A Romance Resume, a Love Yelp Review, or a Personal User’s Guide?

When is a Dress Not Just a Dress?

I wanted to buy a new dress. I wanted the dress to be one I could go to work in, go out fancy in, or just lounge around at home in. I wanted to get compliments on it from others, but also feel totally satisfied wearing it just for myself. And above all, I wanted the dress to fit me perfectly, and be so well made it lasted a lifetime.

I went online and felt myself responding to lots of ads for a classic LBD (Little Black Dress) and soon became overwhelmed and rather frightened at what I was finding out there. After all, buying the perfect dress was a huge commitment. Each day I’d pore over the descriptions and photographs and send my specific questions to the advertisers who would respond with very generalized answers like, “It’s one size fits all.” or “The sleeves can be worn off or on the shoulders.” This went on for months until I realized this wasn’t getting me any closer to my dream of actually WEARING a real dress.

Perhaps choosing a dress in person was a more organic and natural way of achieving my goal. A longtime mall-hater, I braved the traffic to get to a crowded department store and immediately found a fitting room where I told the personal attendant in great detail what I was looking for. “I’ll fix you up,” she said and returned holding a blue dress (mostly matching my description) and hung it in the tiny little room with all the mirrors.

Something came over me and I decided to take it home without even trying it on, even though blue wasn’t the color I had in mind. In my bedroom I admired it from all angles, then shoved it in the back of my closet. Around 2 am, I grew restless with insomnia and decided to slip it over my naked body and immediately knew it was all wrong for me. Disgusted with myself, I flung it over the little table next to my bed (my one nightstand) and vowed never to lay eyes on it again.

Thoroughly ashamed, the next morning I faced the same lady who sold me the dress as I sheepishly explained I’d been impulsive. This time I elaborated even more about what I was looking for and she said, “That’s a lot to ask from a single frock.”

“Oh so it’s a frock now?” I said amused. “Yes, I’m aware. I’ve had two that didn’t work out for me in the past.”

“You’ve already gone through more than one frock? What a crock.” she said, looking at me critically.

“You can mock the frock, but my first had a lot of baggage.”

“Does that mean it came with a matching purse?”

“Not exactly. And my second one was really clingy.”

“Stay away from polyester and spandex,” she warned.

“Look, I’m just looking for a frock I can rock, as they say. And I don’t really want to settle.”

Without hesitation she brought a different kind of dress in and immediately I was drawn to the plunging neckline, the sexy slit up the thigh, and the sparkly material. Could this be The One? “I’ll take it!”

“Try it on this time,” she admonished. I listened to her sage advice and it was love at first sight. Much wiser from my prior experience I inquired, “How long do I have to return it?”

“Sixty days with receipt and tags attached,” she stated.

No problem, although I felt slightly anxious with the time limit. Would I know in only two short months?

“I’ll just wear this dress everywhere and tuck the tags under my long hair, so nobody will be the wiser.” I thought.  I was anxious to get friends’ and family’s opinions. This was a big step.

“Wow! That’s a real Bad Boy dress!” Tiffany told me that afternoon at a fundraiser party.

“What are you saying? You think this dress could cheat on me?” I asked feeling worried.

“Are you kidding? I’d let that dress press up against my breasts in a New York minute,” my friend whispered seductively, which really disturbed me, so I left to meet my family for dinner.

“What were you thinking? A dress like this? How can it be practical?” my mother was having trouble controlling herself. “It’s not like you’ll wear it in stormy weather. And you’ll trip in the high heels needed to keep that hemline from dragging on the floor and you’ll break something.”

My mother was always exaggerating. My children would feel differently.

“We liked the nice dress you wore everyday when we were born,” my kids chimed in together. “Please, mommy?”

“But you know how I feel about that ratty old thing. Besides it’s been given away to Goodwill. Who knows what other woman could be parading around in it these days,” I reminded them. They looked disdainfully at the new dress I had on and slowly shook their heads.

Back at the mall I sat forlornly watching other women walk happily around in their basic dresses. I asked a few of them how long they’d had theirs and was given answers that ranged from many years to six decades. How in the world were they all able to do this?

“Gentle cycle only,” one elderly woman confided in me. “And I mend it as soon as any threads unravel.” I nodded with appreciation. But that still didn’t explain how one dress could meet all their every day needs. And how they didn’t become bored with it.

More determined, I went into a bookstore and read up on fashion for hours. I became so knowledgable, I felt like I could even design my own gown, but I had a better idea. I found a resale consignment clothing store and bought a simple dress that looked like it had been well cared for by a previous owner. I drove, holding the dress in my arms to a dry-cleaners I knew did alterations.

I had photographs of all the revamping I wanted done. Much of it was rather drastic, but the dress would be more versatile and exciting when I needed it to be. And I wanted zippers added to attach and detach parts of the dress to really change it up!

“You vant excitement?” Olga, the Russian seamstress asked me, “You do exciting things vearing this dress. That’s all. I not alter this dress. You vill tank me later.”

Rude much? Unbelievable. I stared at the dress but to my surprise, I suddenly felt a strong attachment for it welling up inside me. But still I kept the tags on — I was no dummy anymore. Plus I had a real case of the jitters, like I should buy several others as back-ups in case this one didn’t come through for me, but something prevented me from doing any more shopping that day.

Throughout the months to come, I wore the dress everywhere and discovered a big secret. Accessorizing! I added a belt and the dress became perfect for editorial meetings. Diamond drop earrings and my hair in an updo and the dress took me out dancing. I put on a string of pearls and dark sunglasses and my dress saw me through a heartbreaking funeral. And really, when you think about it, not many dresses can do that. This dress obviously had my back, literally.

One day while walking past the consignment store where I’d found my beautiful garment, I noticed a sign in the window. “Make sure you like it. All sales Final.” Gosh, I’d kept the tag on all this time as a precautionary measure, just in case. But I felt no panic. This time there was something very reassuring about the word — ‘Final.’

I gingerly patted the soft sleeve and reached inside to pull out the cardboard tag that had been feeling kinda scratchy against my arm all this time, and gave it a tiny tug. It came off easily in my hand and I saw there was handwriting on the back where the price was stamped. “Sewn with Love by Olga. Wear in Love for Life.”

I’m keeping my dress. And the tag. Forever. Because I finally understand what it means to be all in.

 

 

 

Do You Have a Personal Conspiracy Theory?

Forget the chef who spits in your food (if you send back your pasta) or that we’re all just characters in an advanced civilization’s video game. What other sinister things are happening that we haven’t even thought about? Here are some of my best educated guesses. . . .

NOBODY REALLY LIKES SUSHI

It’s all a ruse for restauranteurs to open swanky eating establishments without having to invest in ovens. And then it becomes a predictable real life “Emperor’s New Clothes” formula. In other words, everyone pretends to think sushi is a delicious uncooked delicacy because nobody wants to be the courageous (and honest!) one to raise their hand and loudly shout, “But this fish is completely raw!” Which is the equivalent of “But he’s totally naked!”

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR . . . THE OPPOSITE OCCURS

This also applies to the bestselling book, “The Secret” which is based on “The Law of Attraction.” So whenever you put your fondest dreams out there into the world to be fulfilled, there’s some sort of mirror reversal going on and it gets turned into “The Law of Subtraction.” Essentially whatever you’re truly desiring will now become the most out of reach for you. That’s why I’m very sneaky nowadays and trick the universe by praying for the opposite — a failed writing career, large debt, an abusive man, and the inability to be unable to digest all the chocolate I’ll never have. But that last one I think I basically only fooled myself by using too many double negatives.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES

This is a major fraud being perpetrated on us by those benevolent looking produce guys in supermarkets. They meet yearly in secret to discuss it. “Let’s put identical root vegetables in separate bins right next to one another but stick adjectives like ‘Red Garnet’ or ‘Wild Purple Japanese’ on the signs in front of the words “Yam” and “Sweet Potato” AND then label them with differing prices. Won’t that be fun?”

LESS IS REALLY MORE

Huh?? Whichever manufacturer made up this sham of a quote simply wanted to save on material costs. Think about it — in what math class did you sit at your desk and watch the teacher write an equation on the blackboard professing that a minus sign (-) is actually greater than a plus sign (+) ?? Yet women have worn blouses with the shoulder area missing for five years now because “Less is More” = Fashionable. In reality it’s just quicker to sew and uses less fabric. Same thing with bagels. Remove the centers and charge the same because “Less is More” = Delicious. If you believe that, I’ve got a dozen glazed donut holes to sell you.

THE PEST CONTROL COMPANIES ARE THE REAL PESTS

Every time Terminex or Orkin knocks on my front door with their monthly specials to spray the perimeter of my home for the prevention of pestilence, I say, “Fortunately I have no need for your service, so No Thanks!” But as they leave my property they uncork a jar or a tube of some pregnant creepy crawlies and mutter under their breath, “That’s what you think, Ma’am.” It never fails — a week after these individuals leave my premises, I am inundated with ants, spiders, fleas, carpet beetles, or lice. They must pass my daughter riding her bike on the sidewalk and pat her on the head to accomplish that last one. But I believe if you decline their services, they just transfer these creatures from one home to the next with their clever “Catch and Release” program.

THERE IS JUST ONE SINGLE GUY ON MATCH.COM

He’s a prolific writer and spends all his time coming up with different adjectives to describe himself in intriguing ways so hundreds of thousands of women will answer all his profiles. When he finally chooses his future wife, he can say, “Gosh Dollface, you’re one in a million!” and really mean it. If any other men try to register or create an account, he tells the competition, “This is mine! Go start your own dating site.” And that’s how Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, eHarmony, Bumble, and Tinder came to be. So ladies, when you think, “Wow, I’ve finally met The One!” Remember … that’s all there ever was to choose from in the first place . . . Just. One.

LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING UNTIL . . .

After reading all the books that help you conduct your lifelong search for Mr. or Mrs. Right, you finally find someone who is exactly on the same page as you. Both of you finish each other’s sentences, communicate with secret funny hand signals from across the room at parties, text each other at the exact same time, and your inhales and exhales even sync up while you sleep together. This is it. This is the Soulmate status you’ve been hearing so much about. Not only do you walk down the aisle to tie the knot, you even loop it into a fancy little bow. And then you spot it. How could you miss it? It’s on the front page of Yahoo news and it’s getting posted on everyone’s Facebook as well. “Take this Quiz to see if You are Real Soulmates or just Codependents!” Marriage therapists immediately get forwarded your tallied results because they have hefty student loans to repay. Face it — you’re not really starry-eyed romantics, you’re actually Cross-Eyed Crazies — and you’re going to pay every last penny to a Couple’s Counselor who will say things like “You can’t possibly love anyone else until you love yourself.” So either file for divorce or send a big bouquet of red roses to your place of work and sign the card adoringly.

THERE ARE NOT FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY

Forget walking into Sherwin Williams paint store and buying “Silver Satin” or “Steel Wool” or “Charcoal” or “Pewter” or “Cloudy Morning” or “Whispering Thunder” or “Elephant’s Breath.” You (and your wallet) are being taken for a ride on a runaway gray train. Or is that grey?  Aghghghghw, don’t get me started on the difference between spelling it with an “a” or an “e.” Just read your sadomasochistic novel by the same title and hush up, because there is only one single shade of gray and it consists of black and white mixed together. That. Is. It. Take a hike “Seagull Buff!”

THERE MAY BE LIGHTS AND CAMERA, BUT THERE WILL BE NO ACTION

And that’s because the manufacturers of video cameras are plotting so that each and every time we pay good money to convert our precious family home movies to the latest and greatest playback system, from super 8 reel to reel film to VHS cassettes to Betamax, to the Sony Camcorder to DVD to Blu-Rey discs to MP3’s to cellphone videos, the technology will improve some more and your childhood memories will become obsolete once again — until you transfer them all over to whatever format is invented next. By the time you get to heaven, you can forget having your entire life flash before your eyes, because God won’t have the most recent digital device to play back your highlight reel on. Expect huge delays at the Pearly Gates.

THERE WAS ACTUALLY A THIRD TWIN!

Okay, I guess technically that means triplets. This last conspiracy theory only applies to Yours Truly. I believe back when I gave birth to my twins (and was totally out of it because of drugs and the epidural) some well-meaning but sly nurse whispered to the delivery doctor, “Oh look! There are actually three babies. It’s obvious this woman can’t handle that, so let’s start her with two and I’ll raise the third as my own. If she proves herself a fit mother and doesn’t go around calling herself “Little Miss Menopause,” espousing nonsense on her blog, I’ll break the news to her after he’s 21 and the hardest part is over. That would also explain my excess pregnancy weight gain and the fact that “Three’s Company” was always my favorite TV show.

And there you have it. Ten conspiracy theories you probably never thought of. Oh! And don’t worry about chefs spitting in your food if you complain … the server actually does that. Note: If you don’t get to read this blog it’s because WordPress has an evil system that prevents my stuff from getting delivered to you.

Readers: Do you have a favorite conspiracy theory that’s “out there” or that you just made up? 

What NOT to Say to Someone With Writer’s Block!

You may have noticed the frequency of posts around here has dropped slightly plummeted drastically. Without a doubt, this is the longest case of Writer’s Block I’ve ever had. Aside from neglecting this blog, I can’t write my local humor column assignments, I can’t write freelance work for clients, I can’t continue another novel I’ve been excited about, I can’t journal, I can’t write a creative email to someone I really adore, nor a birthday card, nor create an excuse note for my child to get out of P.E. class — I cannot even make out a grocery list.

Regarding the last one, I literally sat and asked myself, “What’s another way of saying “Buy milk?” And it took me a really long time to come up with “Obtain pasteurized, homogenized cow’s juice.” And then I got grossed out and crossed it off.

And through it all, well-meaning family and friends aggravate me beyond belief with the things they say to me. So I’ve compiled a few. Ready?

NEVER EVER OFFER THESE SOLUTIONS….

“Just write about _________.”  And then blurt out the first random inane word that pops into your head. Like . . .  “Winklepickers!” or “Agastopia!” or “Tittynope!”

“Anything you write will be brilliant.” (Thanks Grandma, but now you’ve just ratcheted up expectations, so you may as well just cue my nervous breakdown.)

“Who can think with so much hair on their head? What you need is a sweet little pixie cut like I gave you when you were five, so I can see those pretty eyes and your thoughts will be able to flow more freely.” (Nice try, Mom.)

“Good sex has been preventing Writer’s Block for decades.” (Even though this won’t work, you may not care if he’s really good.)

“Ran out of material, did ya? I’m free to go to coffee and you can interview me.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re overestimating the consequences of this issue. Who actually reads what you write anyhow?” (I immediately introduced this individual to my Grandma.)

“All the greats were rejected before they had bestsellers. Google Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind.” (Okay, what? You’re not even listening to me. You have to write something before it can be rejected.   I. Cannot. Write. A. Thing.)

“Take a hot bath.” (This same advice also came from this person after my marriage fell apart, after I cracked a rib, when I mentioned I wanted to eat a bunch of chocolate, when my dad passed away, when my house had a mold infestation, and when I’d get a HOT flash.)

“C’mon, whadya working on? How difficult can it be? I’ll write it for you lickety-split.”

“Your muse was abducted. She got into a car she thought was her Uber driver and was sold as a sex slave, but there’s a pregnant psychic in Rhode Island who was tracking her down using a secret code from her unborn baby’s kicks but yesterday the child entered this world and now you’ll just have to wait until she learns to talk.” (This person just called, thanking me for sharing that I had writer’s block, because they now have a three book contract.)

“Writer’s Block….pfffffft! There’s no such thing. It’s just something you made up in your head, dearie.” (I CANNOT make anything up in my head. That’s the problem.)

“So then start in the middle.” (This person used to tell me to start at the end and work backwards, but I slapped him.)

“Try my clever writing prompt …. Satan has instructed his incompetent younger brother, Stan, to open a milder version of Hell known as Heck. How does one end up there, and what punishments does Stan devise?” (Aw, just go to Heck!)

“Read books by Jane Austin. That always helped my Aunt Fran when she had any kind of feminine problem.”

“Just get rid of your inner critic.” (Yes, thank you. I’ll order her an Uber to Rhode Island)

“Write about having Writer’s Block.” (Seriously?? I’d sooner die.)

Of course! Just burn this candle….along with any putrid words you’ve managed to write.