The Death of a Muse? (An Odd Cautionary Tale)

At first I was in denial that anything was wrong, even though it was the worst case of writer’s block I’d ever experienced. But of course! “My muse had probably just embarked on a summer camping trip,” I told myself. Everyone needs a little time off after many hard years of service. Besides what kind of employer was I not offering my muse paid vacation time at a luxury resort as a job perk? Shame on me. No wonder no notice was given before this mysterious departure.

But now after 4 months of not being able to write like I used to, it occurred to me that perhaps my muse had permanently run away. I pictured a little red checkered knapsack on a stick slung over the shoulder of my muse, filled with the bare necessities to assist with effective musing — chocolate, (for bribing a future author) a megaphone (for shouting into a stubborn writer’s ear) and even a typewriter, because sometimes good muses have to write the entire darn thing themselves.

I put an ad up on Craig’s List in the Lost and Found section that looked like this:

Missing Muse! Reward for any info leading to the safe return — no questions asked. (Except for Who?What?Why?Where?How?When?) Answers to “Little Voice” or “Sweet Inspiration.” Last seen wearing a red negligee, eating bon-bons, and watching The Young & the Restless soap opera. Friendly, bit of a chatterbox in fact, communicates story ideas in confusing bursts or fragments. i.e. “You’re having high tea with the King of Kidneys/Livers when the Queen of Hearts crashes the party?” or “Different types of Breadless sandwiches served open-faced by The Muffin Man?”  Please return this cherished Muse as soon as possible — sentimental value only.

Next thing I know a balding man knocks on the door, gives me an overzealous bear hug while exclaiming, “Here I am. At last we’re reunited! I’m your long lost Muse. You can call me ‘Bruce the Muse.'” Which is odd because before I used to call my muse, “Ida the Idea.”

He then went on to tell me how his ex-wife made him a sex slave and how it would turn the tables on all the female empowerment Lifetime movie of the week stories, if only I’d accept his assistance in writing the script. “True story!” he said again as if that would tempt me enough to hold out my hand and say, “Really? Well put ‘er there, partner! Join me in my writing studio where my stash of Doritos is.”

No sooner did I shut the door on the impostor Bruce (besides I pictured the physical form of my muse as kind of a femme fatale Marilyn Monroe type, but also flat-chested, a brunette, and with reading glasses) when there was an official sounding pounding and I opened it back up to see two police officers tapping their feet with a clipboard.

Officer #1: We suspect foul play. We see this kind of thing all the time.

Me: Really?! Like Stephen King is holding my muse hostage until she reveals some bizarre horror story romantic comedy plot-line and he writes it for her, ala the movie Misery?

Officer #2: I doubt your muse is so talented that someone as famous as Mr. King would risk his reputation. But maybe Morton Solomon has her squirreled away in his file cabinet.

Me: “Who?”

Officer #2: Exactly!

Me: Not funny. And I am not a-mused.

Officer #1: We know. That’s why we’re trying to locate the one you’re missing.

After these two clowns left, I honestly considered suicide. It was entirely plausible.  My muse was probably so discouraged by my recent waning blog statistics that she had taken her own life, thinking the writing world would be much better off without her. Or maybe killing herself was a clever strategy for my stuff to become classic literature! Everyone knows ya gotta kick the bucket before any public librarian will stock your books or students in 9th grade English Lit will be assigned a 1200 word essay analyzing your theme. And I’d always dreamed of being analyzed! Thank you Miss Muse for taking a (literal?) bullet for my sake.

Just then my cellphone lit up with notifications from Facebook Friends telling me to turn on the local news. Apparently I was the subject of a controversial public service Announcement:

As my Huffington Post headshot flashed on the screen, a really homely Marilyn Monroe type female read in a halting little voice from a teleprompter.

Have you seen this violent Wanna-Be Author? She’s wanted for 1 count of premeditated attempted museslaughter, 3 counts of abuse, and 9 counts of aggravated assault.  She stands 5′ 4″, (or 5′ 9″ if you count her kooky hairstyle,) and calls herself ‘Little Miss Menopause’ (but that was a real branding mistake!) and is extremely insecure. She tried to do me in several times right on her bed, (where all she ever does is sleep nowadays btw!) as she uttered these toxic words — “That’s the stupidest idea for a novel I’ve ever heard. Nobody will ever want to read that drivel!” I ran for my life. All local Muses beware! She’s armed and dangerous with a fully-loaded MR (Manuscript Rifle) to shoot down any creativity you might offer up. Please alert the authorities so she can go back on her medication.

The authorities? Oh no, not those two clowns again.

And of course there followed an immediate pounding on my door — this time the officers were accompanied by a medical physician who shoved a tablespoon of putrid medicine down my throat. One glance at the label on the bottle told me everything I needed to know… “Mucin-ex!”

READERS: Is your muse still offering invaluable guidance? Treat them well!

Advertisements

Full Disclosure!

Abandoned house in disrepair, Astoria, Oregon, USA

This is not my house … but it may as well have been after I had written all my seller disclosures!

If there are any readers still lingering here after my unexpected hiatus from blogging, I’d like to say thank you for sticking around and I shall now disclose (fully!) my reason for leaving.

You see, I’ve been extremely busy (and stressed!) making lengthy lists of literally hundreds of disclosures for the sale of my home after it went into escrow.

This is actually supposed to be a simplistic process and one that works smoothly when there aren’t perfectionists, worriers, obsessors, and Type A personalities involved.

Essentially the seller (Me!) writes down whatever is wrong with the house so there are no unexpected, unpleasant surprises after the new homeowners take possession — thus giving the buyer the option of saying, “Uh, no thanks!” and exiting the deal OR continuing on with the realization that unless a home is brand spanking new (and rarely even then!) it won’t be in perfect move-in condition.

However once my real estate agent mentioned that the couple who wanted my house came from a family of attorneys and that previously they resided in a beach condominium where they sued the prior owners for 500K because they hadn’t disclosed there were sharp seashells hidden beneath the sand that could cut bare feet, I began to have an uneasy feeling.

After consulting my own lawyer, I was informed that in America you can initiate a lawsuit to anyone for anything. And to be on the safe side I should disclose everything I could possibly think of to these people — the more problems I could recollect and report, the better off I’d be in the long run.

I took this as a direct challenge to recall the last twenty years worth of life with six kids under one roof and because of my recent memory lapses, I felt the only option was to consult my ex-husband who originally bought the home with me.

Me: When we first got married and moved into this house, what wasn’t functioning properly?”

Ex: You.

Realizing this would get me nowhere, I called back my smartypants lawyer.

Me: Can’t I just tell these people I’ve changed my mind and then find a more laid-back family so I don’t live in fear over getting hauled into court for the rest of my life.

My Lawyer: Sorry, Ms. Mental Pause . . .

Me: I’m Miss Menopause!

My Lawyer: Really? My wife doesn’t miss the change of life at all.

Me: OMG. You bill by the minute, right? Can I kill the sale of my house or not??

My Lawyer: Unfortunately at this point, they’re the only ones who can cancel the escrow. You must now proceed to sell your house to these individuals. Again my best advice is when in doubt, it’s better to disclose everything.

There was nothing else to do but utilize the method I always used to solve sticky dilemmas . . . I Love Lucy reruns. What would the harebrained, zany redhead do? I recalled an episode where the Ricardos couldn’t fire their grumpy maid so they tried to make things so awful, the cantankerous woman would quit on her own. And the one where they weren’t allowed to break their apartment lease with Fred and Ethel Mertz, so they tried to become miserable tenants and get themselves thrown out.

That’s it! Brilliant.  I’d scare off these buyers by giving them such horrific disclosures, they’d back out on their own accord. Upon hearing this scheme, my real estate agent cautioned me that it was illegal to make stuff up in the disclosures — they had to be true. Apparently she’d never read my blog.

To Future Buyers:

I hope you’ll be very happy in this house, but I hereby go on record disclosing the following defects:

  1. Dishwasher only works on the Extra Scrub cycle. You have to defrost the frost free refrigerator. Roof always leaks when it rains.
  2. Home is in a drought zone so it never rains. Your water bill will be thousands of dollars a year.
  3. In the summer ants are so rampant, they come streaming out of all the bathroom faucets — IF the department of water hasn’t shut them off because of rationing due to drought.
  4. House had six children raised in it. God only knows what went on in their bedrooms when they were in Time-Out and feeling vindictive.
  5. Neighbor lady to the left is old, mean, decorates the exterior of her house with candy, and calls my youngest son/daughter Hansel and Gretel.
  6. Neighbor to the right is much nicer and will only push kids into ovens if they trample her vegetable garden.
  7. We’ve found rattlesnakes, gophers, an opossum, a squirrel, all sorts of gruesome rodents, and a used condom in the basement of the home.
  8. Home does not have a basement.
  9. Bathroom acoustics are so terrible that family members will shout, “shut up!” if you so much as sing in the shower.

I gave a self-satisfied smile as I reread my list — it sounded like Stephen King himself lived here! And then because I also watch Brady Bunch reruns and remembered the one where they pretended their home was haunted to discourage any buyers, I also disclosed this:

9.  This house was built on top of an old cowboy burial ground.

For good measure, I hid my lasso and boots under a couch cushion.

When given the above notarized document, the future buyers just laughed and told the realtor my writing was hilarious — almost funny enough to be on The Huffington Post. It was then I knew I had to pull out my top secret weapon….the ‘M’ word.  No, not Mold!

For my tenth and final disclosure I put down…

10.  Marriage Murderer — This house is responsible for killing two separate marriages simply by making unusually loud settling sounds at two in the morning, thereby causing the wife to awaken with a start, poke the husband in his sound asleep ribs while loudly hissing, “What’s that noise?? Go downstairs and investigate! We have a prowler.”

When all was said and done, after all my attempts to foil the sale, the buyers were still proceeding full steam ahead, and so I asked my realtor “Why would anyone want to live in this house after reading all these bad disclosures?”

“Live in it?” she asked. “Oh didn’t I tell you? They’re specifically looking for a fixer-upper so they can get a great price, refurbish it, and resell it quickly for far more money. Didn’t you ever watch, “Flip This House!” or “Flip or Flop?”

Of course not. I was too busy watching I Love Lucy, Brady Bunch, Poltergeist, and all of Stephen King’s movies. Sigh….

Real-estate-seller-disclosure

READERS: Do you have a moving nightmare story?

Eavesdropping and Spying Will Backfire on You Every Time!

Am I sitting in a red Lifesaver? A velvet Cheerio? Or The Circle of Life, reupholstered? I’ll get to that in a second. But first — I’ve been unable to write on this blog for a very long time. It’s not due to poor health, my kids, my mother, my other writing jobs, my pets, my boyfriend, or even extensive traveling. Neither have I been held hostage or threatened that if I post another strange blog, I’ll live to regret it.

Nope, what’s prevented me from writing here is the stress of attempting to sell my home, fully furnished. A house I’ve lived in for twenty years, raised six kids in, and put a lot of time, energy, dollars, and Love into.

And this “Love” comes in the form of a very unique remodeling job, which apparently aside from myself, only Dr. Seuss and Willy Wonka approve of.

Here’s what you see when you first walk in:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a close-up of some “novel” chairs that are not visible in second photo:

Here’s a guest bathroom:

Here’s a staircase wall:

Here’s what’s under the staircase:

And yes, that is a built-in drinking fountain.  Six kids, remember?

The kitchen at night (during a power outage!):

Now before I even talk about what happens when an Open House is held, I want to emphasize that my realtor has insisted, “You must all live here like you don’t actually live here!”

So there are no toothbrushes accessible, no actual towels on which to dry our hands, (only fancy model-home display ones) and we are only allowed faux food to be visible. Yes there really is such a thing. It’s part of “staging” your home to sell quickly.

Fake Food to sit near a BBQ!

Pretend food to sit in a movie theater room!

Essentially we all exist in this make-believe house starving to death (with rotting teeth and damp hands!) while our cheerful broker comes over every Saturday and Sunday morning and freshly bakes a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies in an Easy Bake toy oven (mustn’t dirty the real one!) so legit potential buyers will get a “homey” scent wafting throughout their very real nostrils.

Now if anyone thinks I leave my house during these all day Saturday and Sunday debacles, they’re sadly mistaken.  Why would I miss all the fun of seeing and hearing what other people (serious buyers AND Looky Loo neighbors) think of my newly renovated home?

So I stay put during my open houses, admonished by my realtor to keep my mouth tightly shut no matter what I see or hear. And of course because I’m me, I also pretend to be an interested person who has come to view the home after seeing it advertised online. Here’s a three minute actual scenario. . .

Potential Buyer: What in the world?? Are we in a home or on a movie set?

Me: (Eavesdropping and trying to pretend I do not live here) I know, right? Isn’t this place just sooooooo amazing?

Potential Buyer: Uh, I guess. If you like going down the rabbit hole in Alice In Wonderland and having a mad tea party!

Me:  What an uncouth comment. I find it simultaneously innovative and modern. Whimsical and fun, yet extremely cozy and (sniffing the cookie-scented air) very homey! And anyone who can’t recognize what classy taste the person who owns this home must have was raised in a barn.

Potential Buyer: Then by all means, I dare you to make an offer on this ridiculous residence.

Me: (not one to handle a dare very well) Yoo hoo! Miss Real Estate Lady!  Over here, dear. Whatever this gorgeous home is priced at, I’ll offer 50K more! I can’t bear to let this dream house slip through my fingers.

My Realtor: (Shoots me dirty look)

So after buying my own house back, I’m told I have a very controlling personality and the home will surely sell much faster if I vacate the premises. The nerve! I leave my own house, but not before turning on all my nanny cams to record the goings-on. That night I watch the videos in disbelief as person after person comes in, mocking the comfortable red circular piece of furniture you see at the top of this blog. Listen . . .

“Why do I suddenly have the urge to sing, “Roll Out the Barrel?”

“Where’s Austin Powers hiding?”

“Talk about going in a vicious Circle!”

And then the home in general….

“It looks like a rainbow vomited all over the flooring!”

“No Billie Jr! We are definitely not moving into this Whoville home. We’ll just let Horton continue to live here.”

“Oh look honey, the home comes with two fireplaces and enough kindling (gestures around at furniture) to last a few years!”

“The poor dear really has a bad case of it. Let’s make a small donation to the Colorblind Foundation in her honor, shall we?”

But then I truly got an earful when I heard my realtor telling everyone the owner was a creative writer and shouldn’t  be held accountable for her poor judgment. “And you should see her nonsensical blog,” she continued.  People nodded solemnly and said, “Ohhh, now we understand. That explains a lot.”

So after not publishing here for weeks, I decided to turn to wordplay for my real estate therapy because poetry is always so cathartic for me.

I Got The Real Estate Blues!

Hanging up a sign in my front yard.

Selling shouldn’t ever be this hard.

Yes my house is decorated rather novel

But to get you to buy it,  I refuse to grovel.

Selling a modern place I was under the impression would be so easy,

But folks think it’s a theme park and instantly they’re queasy!

I refuse to reduce the home’s value because you can’t appreciate,

Frank Lloyd Wright (on acid!) whom I’ve tried to commemorate.

Sorry, but I’m gonna say “No dice” unless you’re close to asking price.

And please don’t even try to proffer making me such a low ball offer.

Yes the washer and dryer and the refrigerator/freezer will definitely stay,

And unlike the decor . . .  they look normal, they’re not designed cray cray.

True, there’s hot and cold running water and lights that go on and off,

So what’s the big deal if my furniture has balls? Go ahead and scoff.

6

My home may not be for everyone, the buyer will need a decorator’s knack

Okay, who am I kidding? It’s going to be like finding a needle in a haystack!

But if by chance you’re out there and  want to come to San Diego and have a look,

For a great price, you too can see how fun it is to live in a children’s coloring book!

Just contact Me, (the Wild and Crazy Owner) at this blog, “Once Upon Your Prime”

And I promise you the house will hold up better during inspection than this silly rhyme.

 

Judy Blume . . . My New Best Friend!

 

It all started when I heard rumors that  Judy Blume (every girl’s favorite childhood author and someone I became obsessed with in the 1970’s!) was teaching an online MastersClass. (You know those internet courses you pay to sign up for that are taught by famous people?)

Now at first I thought my sister-in-law (a Judith Bloom!) was playing one of her usual tricks on me once again.  She’s a practical joker and has had name envy her entire life, wishing she could be the one making all the money from those best-selling teenage novels about girls’ developing bodies and their first boy crushes. Well guess what? I wasn’t falling for it this time!

So when I logged onto the website, there was the REAL Judy Blume smiling kindly at me from a photograph — and that’s when I first sensed it — our private, special, one-on-one connection.

Judy’s compassionate expression from her picture beckoned, “Come on Stephanie D. Lewis, just sign up for my class and I’ll make you the Teacher’s Pet!” I even detected her winking conspiratorially at me during a video while I became mesmerized by her paperback book-covers flashing hypnotically across the screen. But when I replayed it, I couldn’t exactly swear to that.

Disregarding that old adage, “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach,” (This is Judy Blume we are talking about, after all!!) I studied the fine print carefully; “Judy will hold regular office hours, critiquing select students’ work and sending her personal feedback.” I could just see it now! Choosing me, (over all her thousands of other pupils) we’d bond over her charming knack for writing about menstruation — and my odd ability to pen blogs about menopause.

My first email to Ms. Blume would shout in the subject title, “Are you there, Judy? It’s Me, Stephanie!” (Yep, I’d totally go there!) She’d giggle, impressed how I stood out from her other humdrum students by referencing her most popular novel of all time. And then upon Judy’s friendly prompt response, I’d mention our further commonality as chocoholics. After all — she named her character ‘Fudge’ in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and I (a Fifth Grade Zero!) had named our family poodle ‘Cocoa” as a direct result of reading that book.  Of course, this only encouraged our house guests to indulge Cocoa with numerous Hershey’s Kisses — eventually killing her, because dogs shouldn’t ingest chocolate. But I’d reassure Judy I never once held her accountable for this misfortune and she’d reply, “Let’s grab a cup of coffee to make up for your tragic loss and discuss how you’re gonna follow in my famous footsteps.”

Now lemme briefly pause here to say that when email interactions don’t go as well as one imagines — an experienced writer (like myself!) knows how to:

a) Reframe — Of course Judy’s eyes were hurting from overzealously reading all my compelling writing samples, so she’s napping today, but she’ll reach out to me first thing tomorrow.  b) Have a Plan B — Call Ms. Blume directly on her personal landline, demonstrating exemplary student initiative!

And what a creative plan B this would be! After Judy’s voicemail plays and I hear the beep, I resist calling her “Judge Judy” and instead belt out the Beatles, “Hey Jude!” That oughta do the trick. But as I sing the “na na nana na na’s” that end the famous lyrics, a robotic voice interrupts me, “Are you satisfied with your message or do you wish to re-record?” Thinking it sounds cheesy, I’ll press delete and launch into my Cary Grant impersonation exclaiming, “Judy, Judy, Judy! Let’s do lunch, baby.” There!

I’ll follow that call up with personally delivering a large bouquet of flowers onto Judy’s front doorstep (in Key West, Florida) with some really clever wordplay. The card says, “Here’s every “bloom” I could find in honor of my new BFF Judy “Blume” and our “blossoming” friendship!”

As I sink further into this magical reverie, a notification on my cellphone rudely alerts me, “We are sorry to inform you that Ms. Blume’s writing course has been permanently cancelled due to her vivid premonitions of a crazy, fanatical fan stalking her!”

Extraordinarily disappointed, I’ll let myself in thru the backdoor of her home (that she’ll have given me the key to during our coffee date) and find her sitting inconsolably on her living room couch, where I’ll immediately put my arm around her shoulders and whisper soothingly, “There, there, Judy. I know it’s extremely challenging possessing the kind of overactive writers’ imaginations that we both do! But we’ll get through this. Together.”

It’s only then that I’ll glimpse the cellphone cancellation notice is originating from . . . Judith Bloom. Drats….my impish sister-in-law has managed to get me again!

Judy need only ask me once, and I’ll help her title ALL her books!

The GPS Lady is Our New Magic 8-Ball !!

For decades many New-Age people have claimed that the universe sends us signs — if only we’d just tune in and pay more attention. They claim that finding feathers indicates our guardian angels are frolicking nearby and a fork-in-the-road symbolizes an important decision will need to be made. And I always scoffed, “Sure! Right! Whatever.”

Until the one fateful day this past December when I started getting profound messages (and spiritual guidance!) from the Modern Digital World. I’m not kidding! It all began rather innocently. Just like this . . .

WALKING WONDERS!

I tried to cross the street at a busy intersection while debating what to do about my unsatisfying relationship. “Should I break up with my boyfriend now or delay things until after the holidays?” I wondered aloud, while pressing the crosswalk button. Immediately the light turned red and an emphatic male robotic voice reiterated over and over again, “Wait! Wait! Wait! . . . Wait!” Startled, I looked around at the halted pedestrians patiently anticipating the traffic signal to turn and grinned broadly, realizing I had just saved a $200 therapy session. “Of course I should wait,” I mused. “After all, he might put a terrific present under the tree this year.” Never mind that we’re both Jewish.

CAR CODES!

Inside my Mazda, I caught a glimpse of my mousy brown hair in the rear-view mirror and for the umpteenth time that day contemplated, “Should I dye it blonde or go with auburn highlights?” Without missing a beat, my GPS lady wisely advised, “Take the Highlighted route.” Well, that settles that! (I guess blondes will just have to have more fun without me.) Gosh, this woo-woo stuff was actually pretty cool.

Thinking of my boyfriend waiting for me in bed, I started to connect my cellphone to my Bluetooth when it instantly blurted out, “Ready to Pair!” Well I wouldn’t go that far, but I was feeling a bit aroused at the thought of him shopping for my Chanukah present. Maybe there was something to this, “Getting Messages From Beyond” thing after all?

As I pulled into the parking lot of my next destination, I wondered if I would ever get to a place in my writing career where I would finally achieve real success? “You have arrived!” exclaimed the GPS lady enthusiastically. “Really?” I flushed with excitement. (Now if only my publisher saw it that way and sent me on a lavish book tour.)

CHECK-OUT CHARMS!

Using the self-checkout kiosk in Target, I had to admit to feeling pretty self-conscious about my appearance lately, particularly since I hadn’t been sleeping well and the skin under my eyes appeared swollen and puffy. After swiping my credit card, I entered information into the keyboard indicating I would use my own totes to carry away my purchases. “You have zero bags!” the machine comforted me. Blushing, I thanked it for the compliment on my complexion.

My next errand was clothes shopping. As I waited in the long line to pay for shirts for my boyfriend, I wondered how on earth I would know which register would be available first? Immediately a seductive computerized voice loudly announced over the P.A. system, “Cashier number 3, please!” Wow! The Electronic World certainly does have all of life’s answers! I made a mental note to set-up The Checkstand Lady Voice with The Crosswalk Man Voice, who was so diligent at his 10-9-8-7 countdown while I strode across the street. It would be a match made in digital heaven. And now I was eager to see what psychic information would come across next from another device!

MAYTAG MARVELS!

As I piled the dirty towels into the front-loading machine in my laundry room, my thoughts drifted to a possible pregnancy. My period had been erratic and it was getting rather challenging to predict. “What’s my monthly going to be like?” I asked aloud. The washer was quick to reassure me there was nothing to worry about by lighting up the control-panel with, “Normal Cycle!” Thank goodness — I was getting way too old to change diapers.

NETWORK NUANCES!

Even text messages on this special day became uncannily spiritual. Feeling stressed, I contemplated what kind of self-care I should do? Perhaps meditation or maybe a long walk on the beach? Just then I replied to my friend’s request for a good pizza parlor, prompting her to text back, “TY!” Normally I knew this acronym was just a typical social nicety, expressing gratitude. However on this unique day, I somehow recognized it didn’t stand for “Thank You,” but instead my smartphone was now an algorithm guru telling me in secret language to “Take Yoga!”

Next I made the decision to create a cool new self-image on social media. I changed my User Name, put up a hip new profile pic, then sent friend requests to all the buddies of my adult kids so I could become popular with the younger in-crowd. Upon acceptance, many of them greeted me back with a timely acronym, “WTF!” This was unbelievable! What were the odds?? Every single millennium was warmly communicating back to me, “Welcome To Facebook!”

EXTRAORDINARY ENDINGS!

Before I fell asleep that evening, I called out to Alexa, “Please wake me up at my usual time.” And she ominously confirmed back to me, “You will become Alarmed at 7 am.”  Wow. Just wow.

The next morning I was eager to tune back in to my Digital Universe of Guidance, but nothing seemed to be working. When Siri asked how she could help me, the Yelp Chinese restaurant review she directed me to was rather ordinary. Google merely gave me a synonym for “intelligent” that was actually rather dumb. My Voicemail wouldn’t play back any new messages from my boyfriend for me on my phone. And even WordPress had no wisdom to impart. At first I thought, “Status: Draft!” meant that the U.S. military would be mandatorily inducting young boys into the army again, but nope — it just meant it had saved the silly blog post I wasn’t too sure about publishing.

Sadly, all the magic emanating from my digital world had abruptly ceased. Where had it all gone? “Appliance Reliance” had turned into “Appliance Defiance.” And I was simply left with only my “Inner Navigational System” to rely on, which I now refer to as M.O.M — “My Own Mind.”

But perhaps this 24-hour accounting of unusual events will somehow help someone else out there obtain sudden flashes of intuition from their technological interactions?

Please leave me a divine comment from your mystical Apple Watch to let me know if that’s the case!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/undulate/

Comedy Central Is Hiring Me!

cws3

Okay maybe not quite just yet. But I’m getting closer to my big dream coming true. Over the holidays I boarded a cruise ship of which the destination doesn’t matter….because my internal GPS just wants me to end up anywhere I can proudly announce, “Okay, world, I’ve finally arrived!”  And this (to me) entails substantial amounts of fame.

And somehow this also translates to my long-term goal of writing humor material for an illustrious comedian. In fact, Jerry Seinfeld recently called me and remarked that my blog seems to be about nothing and he’s got a new idea about another show that’s still about nothing. Perhaps we could collaborate on writing? We had long discussions, brainstorming everything about nothing, but at the end of the day, nothing ever came of it. Nada.

That’s why I set my sites on the comic of this cruise ship who performed in an onboard nightclub called “The Punchliner Lounge. The first evening I sat in the front row and the comedian incorporated me into his routine about hair. There’s no need for me to elaborate on this topic if you’ve seen me, but let’s just say that if he continues with his mediocre level of jokes, he’s going to be “hair today, gone tomorrow.” And I made sure I “straightened” him out by getting some “parting” laughs with a “hairlarious” one-liner that was a “cut” above the rest.

That’s when I had him — I just knew it. Sure enough after the show, he asked me to come back to his next performance and once again to sit in the front row. I was excited to become a regular in his act because that would surely lead to writing for him. Turns out he just wanted my wild, big hair to block the view for his overbearing mother who sits in the second row and constantly tells him his jokes suck.

But that was okay because I was making “headway” into the world of Funny Guys and it wouldn’t be long before I supplied him with my humorous anecdotes for major $$!

Now I’ll take a pause here to address what most people start to wonder about me. If I love to create stand-up comedy so much, why don’t I just deliver it to audiences myself verbally. Because I’m shy. Instead of the Off-the-Wall person I portray on this blog, in real life I am soooooo ON the wall, that I’m actually a Wallflower. Now you might understand why I’ve set my sights on staying behind the scenes and writing material for famous comics instead.

The next afternoon I saw Mr. Comedian at the buffet, ladling out cauliflower soup which sloshed around in his bowl because the seas were particularly rocky. Sidling coyly up to him, I decided to use some of my seasick seductiveness along with my witty wordplay to let him know I was more than just a “hair-brained” audience seat-warmer. I efficiently spooned some soup into my own bowl, smiling about the funny line I was about to dish out.

Me: Hi there. Did you know it’s not the motion of the ocean — it’s the size of the waves?”

Mr. Comedian: Oldie. Heard that one a lot. And you’ve got it backwards, by the way.

Oops, back to my hair I suppose.

Me: (shoving a tendril of my long curly locks into his face) I mean THESE waves.

Mr. Comedian: Oh right. Pretty funny stuff you got there, Miss.

Me: Permanent Waves. You know, like a bad 80’s perm??

Mr. Comedian: Right. I get your explanation of your joke.

Me: (Waving my hand over and over like a beauty contest winner on a float during a parade) Look! Now I’m stuck with a permanent wave!

Mr. Comedian: Yep. You sure are.

Mr. Comedian’s Mother: You suck, sister.

This was a good start. We could bond together eating soup and discussing his overly-critical mother.

That night I was the first one in the audience again, this time wearing an extra short skirt and my hair swept high into a chignon. I had an idea to try out some racier material since this was an adults only show. Sex always sells.

Mr. Comedian: So where’s your crazy hair this evening, Miss Front Row?

Me: I thought because it was R-rated tonight, I’d show off my tight buns instead.

Audience: (Stares at me as I climb onto a chair and point to my fancy updo and my back side.)

Me: See my hair is in a bun and (lifting my skirt a tad higher up my thighs while blushing) You currently write material for Comedy Central, but I’ll help you write for Comedy Sensual! Not only will you become a great stand-up, but the audiences will get so turned-on, they’ll stand up too. Get it? Stand-up comedian…so the audience stands up.

Audience: Sit down! Booooooo. Down in front with that awful hair and ass!

The next morning, the Captain of the entire ship knocked on my cabin door and issued me a restraining order which proclaimed I wasn’t to get within 500 yards of the Punchliner Lounge. But because they wanted my business back on future voyages, I was also given an invitation to be a contestant in the passenger talent show, where they said I’d be welcome to freely showcase my humor.

Choosing to look on the bright side, I consoled myself that this was one step closer to my goal of becoming a famed comedy writer. As the talent show drew nearer, I began to pray that my innate shyness wouldn’t prevent me from getting my hysterical material across through the microphone.

When the master of ceremonies introduced me to the stage, he called me, “Funny Lady.” If only I could sing, I’d belt out Barbra Streisand’s, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and just call it a night.

Once under the heavy bright lights and with all expectant eyes on me, I began to have an actual panic attack. What was I doing? I had no verbal delivery! I was just some hack writer. That’s a good joke? I could develop a hacking cough. Out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly spied a whiteboard at the end of my platform that listed the order of the contestants. Running over and spitting on it, I smudged away the names using the sleeve of my sexy dress and began to do the only thing I knew how to do……with the dry-erase marker, I penned out a joke.  The audience looked and tittered for a moment. Next I spelled out the opening paragraph of my most popular blog in all capital letters. People put their glasses on and slowly read, but eventually they chuckled some more. I erased and jotted something else down. Guffaws! Next time I’ll bring my computer keyboard connected to a big screen so I can keep the laughter coming even faster.

And now I’m calling Seinfeld back to partner up. Because he needs to know I’ve   got a new angle about comedy writing called, “Much Ado About NOTHING!”

Dear Readers: Happy 2018! It’s good to be back blogging after being away for a while. The real truth is that this particular cruise ship comedian read my Huffington Post blogs and invited me to call him when he docks in the next port! Please wish me luck on this new writing venture. Also please leave me a comment and state the name of the comedian you think is the funniest. Perhaps I can submit my WRITTEN material to them . . .  and then you’ll have to find a new favorite! 😉

comic

 

 

Getting Your Ex Back (Even If You Don’t Want Them Back!)

Wait a sec. . . I think my title is supposed to say, “Getting Your Ex Back (Even If THEY Don’t Want to Come Back!”) But either way, it makes as much sense!

Hey! Did you know that . . .

the “Reunite With Your Ex!” industry is thriving!

Not a day goes by I don’t get an email shouting, “8 Ways To Make Your Ex Beg To Reconcile!” or “10 Phrases To Text That Will Make Your Ex Realize They Made a Huge Mistake!” or “How To Get Your Ex Back And Ignore All the Valid Reasons You Broke Up With Him in the First Place.”

And my personal favorite, “How To Lure Your Ex Back Without Looking Like a Psycho!”

Last week I sat at a cocktail table with my girlfriend Tiffany (Yes, Stephanie and Tiffany — it’s beyond precious!) at a Mix N’ Mingle event when she immediately burst into tears lamenting, “Why am I here? I just want him back. I’d give anything for that to happen.”

Immediately a man in an ugly green tuxedo shirt and suspenders materialized from behind a pillar and launched into a routine so smacking of a vacuum salesman, I anticipated him scattering clumps of dirt on our white linen tablecloth and sucking them up with his expensive sample machine.

“For just $1,000, I’ll have him crawling back before the New Year. He’ll be full of yearning, promises, engagement rings, and offering homemade Key Lime pie.” He danced a little jig as he spoke.

“She hates Key Lime and besides . . . ” I started to say.

“Really? That’s my favorite pie,” he interrupted.

“Then maybe YOU want her ex back?” I winked.

He pretended I wasn’t there, and turned his attentions back to Tiffany, who btw is not the sharpest tool in the box.

“My schemes are guaranteed to have him crawling on hands and knees no matter whom he’s currently frolicking with.”

“He’s frolicking with God,” I stated solemnly.

“OMG, he is??” asked Tiff, incredulously.

“I’m very sorry for your loss,” he said to Tiffany and then without missing a beat, threw a bunch of mud on our table — at which point she paid him $89.95 for a DustBuster.

“Forget that creep,” I told my friend.

“But I do still love him,” Tiffany protested.

“I meant the jerky salesman, Tiff.  Sheesh, even I have better ideas to get your guy back!”

Suddenly Tiffany had an epiphany! (But again remember — not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.)

“That’s right!  You’re creative!  You can help me. So far all I’ve come up with is losing ten pounds because he’s always hated my muffin-top. I just KNOW you’ll give me advice that will work.”

After reluctantly researching this idiotic topic, I realized there are two contradictory schools of thought. One was basically to disappear completely, because supposedly he’ll miss you terribly and come running back.

And the other is the exact opposite — recommending you definitely do NOT vanish because then he’s liable to develop complete amnesia and forget all about the amazing sex you had on the balcony during your cruise to Alaska. (What? No cruise to Alaska?? Well now we know exactly how to get him back, don’t we? Anchors away, my eskimo friend!) So essentially this technique advocates staying very much on his mind!

Alright so back to my dimwitted friend, Tiffany. I created two index cards outlining each of the very different ways to proceed. Essentially little cheat sheets for Tiff to pick one strategy and then follow it. Easy Peasy.

 

 

 

 

 

But Tiff couldn’t make up her mind which method to try . . .  so of course she utilized them both!

One day she unfriended him from all social media, cancelled every one of her memberships, and changed her phone number/email address. The next day she sprayed her signature perfume on the welcome mat of his front door, requested all radio stations play their favorite song, and had billboards put up on his route to work with pictures of her and another guy. (It was just her twin brother and they’re not identical, so this didn’t blow her ruse.)

She carried on like this for weeks, alternating days of being totally in his face with days of falling off the face of the earth — until I was sure the poor slob didn’t know whether he was coming or going — much less what Tiff was doing!

Meanwhile she also continued her Atkins diet and lost 10 lbs. However one fateful day she discovered he was on a European vacation for three months and the person she’d been seducing back was his 85 year-old grandma who was house-sitting. Not a good plan.

At this ridiculous news, I decided to permanently end my career in the field of “Reconciliation” and  just stick to writing. As a last ditch effort, I suggested that Tiff text him with an offer no man can refuse….having really great Make-Up Sex!

But Tiff claimed that he liked her face au’ naturale, without any mascara or lipstick — so I had to explain the concept.

The next day Tiffany was elated to report his response was, “Yes! But before we have great makeup sex, we need to have a really HUGE tiff.”

It was a Win/Win! Not only did Tiffany think he was referring to her name, but she was also thrilled to increase her calorie intake.

THEY SOOOO DESERVE EACH OTHER!

READERS:  HAVE YOU EVER BEEN DESPERATE TO GET AN EX BACK? WHAT DEPTHS OF DESPAIR DID YOU SINK TO? LEAVE ME A COMMENT!

Wanna Befriend FAMOUS stars? Just become Their Student!

blogger-image--1957697618Are you familiar with a new self-help trend on a website called MasterClass? It’s where you can learn from “the best teachers in the world” by signing up for lessons with famed individuals. Online. By video.

Now Dear Readers, THIS is exactly what I’ve been waiting years for! After taking a few of these $90 classes, I can now officially put down on my resume that I studied writing under Judy Blume AND James Patterson.  I’ve also been schooled in the art of comedy by the inimitable Steve Martin! Additionally for good measure, Serena Williams trained me to play tennis, without my ever needing to set foot on a court. Yep, these are just some of the website’s many famous superstar instructors!

But then the MasterClass company made the fatal mistake of inventing an “ALL ACCESS PASS.” This is exactly what it sounds like — for one price you can take every single class they offer. Really?? Hello Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Diane Von Furstenberg, Wolfgang Puck, and so many more! Indeed, why not add directing, producing, acting, fashion design, and cooking to my already amazing skill-set?

Next I read the fine print. Seriously? These big-time celebrities will even hold “office hours” and MIGHT personally critique some of my submissions. That’s just dandy! I always knew that given half the chance to become acquainted with me, (and my charm and talent!) famous personalities would want me in their lives in a very intimate way.

But how to convince them they’ve been missing out on knowing me? Simple….

“ALL ACCESS” (at least to me) means I have complete admittance into their world via email, telephone, or even in-person. And there you have it! I will simply contact all these celebs before the start of their courses and introduce myself, just like any ambitious pupil in college does. I will cozy up to them so I’ll be a stand-out on the first day of class.

Here are the instructors I set my sights on befriending, and the oh so clever tactics I employed to demonstrate that I’m their biggest fan, and that we have much in common!

DUSTIN HOFFMAN:  Sent email with “Hey Tootsie!” in the subject line and signed the email, “Meet me in my hotel room ~ Mrs. Robinson.” In the body of the email I stated that I would be “The Graduate” of his course whom he would be the most proud of.  I also mentioned I admired him so much that I actually named one of my twin boys, “Dustin” (Actually true!) and the other one “Hoffman.” (Not so true?)  I searched and found his cellphone number and left voice messages exclaiming, “Kmart Sucks!” and “Uh oh . . . ten minutes till Wapner.” Lastly, I taped a note on his front door with the class roster and my name highlighted in yellow so he could know exactly whom to make his Teacher’s Pet.

STEVE MARTIN: Sent email with witty salutation, “To The Jerk!” and mentioned he was a better Inspector Clouseau than Peter Sellers in the body of the email. Promised I’d be phoning him soon so we could discuss his course syllabus, piquing his interest by mentioning I might have two brains.  I then signed off with, “From a Wild and Crazy Girl.” Zero response, so I called and sung my version of “King Tut” on his answering machine. I currently await a coffee invitation.

JUDY BLUME: Sent an email with, “Are you there Judy? It’s me, Stephanie D. Lewis!” in the subject line. I told her that she writes puberty novels about getting your period and I write menopausal blogs about losing your period, and that I just know we’ll become BFF’s AND collaborate on a book together since writers use periods so often in sentences. I think she’ll appreciate knowing that. But just in case, I added that I was also a Fourth-Grade Nothing. I’m presently making a reservation at Outback Steakhouse for the both of us to have lunch.

WOLFGANG PUCK: I was aware that this instructor needed to be approached through smells, textures and tastes, but no boring teacher’s apple would do. Instead I shipped my famous Jewish brisket to his home, but the gravy obscured my return address so I’m sure he didn’t know whom to thank. Next, I emailed him with, “What’s cooking?” in the subject line. And ended it by declaring I would be the most skilled skillet chef in his whole entire cooking class. Can’t wait to trade recipes with Wolfie very soon!

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG: I texted her and said, “Here’s what you and Gloria Venderbilt taught me in 8th grade–‘You’re only as good as the designer’s name on your jean’s pocket.’ So thanks for that! Ps. Can I get a vintage dress if I sit in the virtual front row of your fashion classroom?”

UPDATE:  As of this blog posting, there hasn’t really been any replies or acknowledgments to all my enthusiastic student overtures. After thinking it over (and I’m sure you’ll realize this isn’t just sour grapes) I’ve decided that I can do better than these people. Far better. After all somebody very wise once said, “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach!” NO TRUER WORDS.

Now excuse me while I stalk the individual who said that, and have him give me lessons from his new class, “Thinking Up Profound Quotes!”

6f446ecebbccb7577c95430c97f1d1c9

READERS: Would you sign up for one of these online classes with a celebrity? Or do you find this to be a gimmick? All comments welcome!

Is it a Speakerphone or a “SNEAKERphone??”

speaker-phone

Very SNEAKY speakerphone crimes are on the rise these days and even Yours Truly is guilty of a few. See if you’re the victim of any of the ones I’ve made up names for below — or if gasp….(be honest now!) you’re actually The Perpetrator!

  1. THE BRAG — Being around other people and expecting a phone call you know will contain good news? Possibly someone is going to be praising YOU for a job well done? You answer the phone and say, “Gosh it’s so hard to hear you. Let’s see if you’re more audible on speaker. Keep talking.” Bingo. You’ve just modestly made everyone around you aware that it was your quick thinking and innovative talent that saved the day!  Look properly sheepish when hanging up, but don’t overkill by saying, “Awwww shucks,” if someone around you offers a high-five or a congratulations.
  2. THE JEALOUSY — Your relationship has just passed that two-year mark when people typically start taking each other for granted just a tad. You’re out with your girlfriend when the call comes through and you recognize the name/number as the young sounding female nurse from your doctor’s office, obviously calling to report your lab results from your recent physical. You answer the phone on speaker but as soon as the caller chirps, “Hi, it’s Katherine . . . ” you awkwardly (guiltily?) interrupt her and say in a lowered voice, “Hold on so we can uh, talk more privately,” and remove speakerphone. During your long silence (in which she’s reading your blood results) nod your head enthusiastically, smile a lot, and suspiciously doodle on a pad of paper — the initials that stand for bad and good cholesterol . . .  “LDL” + “HDL”   This works best if your name is Logan David Lewis and the nurses name is Hilary Denise Lawrence.  Then put a plus sign in between the two and for good measure, draw a cute heart around the whole thing.  (Don’t jot down your triglyceride levels, that’s not romantic at all!) Upon hanging up, chuckle nervously while announcing to your gal, “That? Oh that was just the doctor’s office calling. Heh heh.”
  3. THE BUFFER — Did you just crash the car? Forget to do something important you promised? Spend a ton of $$ on something frivolous? Are you afraid to reveal these things to a certain someone because they fly off the handle easily? Simply make the call and when they answer, casually inform them you have a little bad news, but to first say hello to some mutual friends. Have a few people shout, “Hi there, Tom!” Guaranteed your confession will be received calmly and serenely. They may even say, “Don’t worry about it, you know stuff like that never bothers me.”
  4. THE EMPATHY — Your best friend calls you once a week to read entries from a journal she keeps on her relationship. This week she suspects her boyfriend may be having an affair with the young nurse from his doctor’s office. You turn on speakerphone, but you employ the mute button so she cannot hear you doing the dishes and vacuuming. After she finishes (and your house is tidy) and she asks your opinion, you say “I’m just too stunned to formulate any words.”
  5. THE CHORES — Call the child who always loudly protests their responsibilities, from their best friend’s home. Proceed to tell them you’re having tea with the parent and how proud you are to hear they’re sooooo helpful and polite whenever they’re a guest in this particular parent’s home. Next, remind them to please walk the dog, empty the garbage, and make the bed before you return home. When they pleasantly agree, resist asking, “Okay, who is this really?” (This is my personal crime and it works like a charm.)

READERS:  Please comment on any other speakerphone abuse I may have omitted besides the obvious — not letting someone know when they are on speakerphone, and people who talk on speakerphones in public places. Poor chaps never had walkie-talkies as a child!

97a2ef40a23743b2aacced49a6ae8c9e

    Do You Have Options for Declining An Invitation This Holiday Season?

72-og Here’s a very simple (yet timely) question for you, Dear Reader.

When you are invited to yet another gathering or festive night out and you’re not going to be attending, do you give a reason why or do you just politely refuse?

During “The Ghost  Host of Christmas Past,” I’ve felt obliged to elaborate and provide a good enough reason, (or an innocent made-up excuse!) to avoid hurting the host’s feelings. But recently people have told me this is unnecessary and it’s actually oversharing.

Below is my track record with this social grace ….

ME: I’m so sorry, but I’m already committed.

INVITER #1: Really? To do what?

ME: I’m committed to not saying more than that when I decline invitations.

INVITER #1: No really, what exactly are you doing instead??

Note To Self: Get less assertive friends.

ME: Thank you for thinking of me, but I have another engagement.

INVITER #2:  Again? OMG! Hopefully you make it down the aisle this time! Feel free to bring your new fiancé.

Note To Self: Next time use more specific language, while still not stating exactly what you’re doing since it’s none of their business.

ME: I’d love to, but I’m having an affair of my own that same evening.

INVITER #3: No wonder your engagements never last, you cheatin’, lyin’ slut, you!

Note to Self: Go back to my little white lies.

ME: Darn, I’d really like to come to your annual potluck tree-trimming party, but I’m allergic to pine.

INVITER #4: It’s artificial this year. Vinnie always pees on all our real trees.

ME: Well I’m allergic to dogs.

INVITER #4: Vinnie is our 15-year-old son.

ME: Seriously! Was he born in a barn??

INVITER #4: Yes. I went into labor cleaning the horse stall and gave birth on a bale of hay. . .

ME: Ahhhh! Which I’m very allergic to?

INVITER #4: In our previous house.

ME: Guess I’ll be bringing peanut butter cookies to your potluck tree-trimming party.

INVITER #4: I have a life-threatening nut allergy. You’ll bring 2 dozen filet mignon steaks instead.

Note to Self: Google who said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Hmph. Guess honesty IS always the best policy.

ME: To tell you the truth, I just really don’t want to come.

INVITER #5: Well frankly, I really didn’t want to invite you but your siblings forced me to.

Note to Self: Let a few weeks go by and then call Mom and apologize for not being more tactful. 

ME: Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it because my really messy closet has me barricaded from my front door.

INVITER #6:  “When first we practice to deceive . . .” Oh come now, you can do better than that! A messy closet. Sheesh, what do you take me for? I’ll expect you at 7 pm, unless you send visual proof of that whopper.

mes

INVITER #6: Uh…Maybe my guests can bring some hangers and come over and help dig you out. It can be a “Coming Out Of The Closet” theme shindig. 

Note To Self: Wear those mustard yellow pants hanging in center of closet. AT. Every. Single Party. (To eliminate future invites.)

READERS: When someone declines your invitation with a vague, “Thank you for thinking of me and I hope you have a great time!” Be honest — Are you a teeny bit offended, wondering if they could totally attend, but just don’t want to? And how do you personally say, “Thanks but no thanks?”

invitation-expression-7-638