Now Back …. By Popular Demand!

back by popular demand, newspaper article text

So…..what’s back??? Absolutely totally nothing is back. I’m just fascinated by this concept. A lot of times I’ll read “BACK! By Popular Demand!” as a headline for a product, a candidate rerunning for an election, a workshop being taught at a local university …. or even the title of one of “your” blogs!  And I think….”How do we actually know people have been demanding this??” Where is the proof? So I tried a little test in my own household to see how it would go over.

On the refrigerator, I posted an impromptu menu titled, “Tonight! Back By Popular Demand!” and then below it listed “Meatloaf, Asparagus, and Mashed Yams.” I left my cell phone on record mode and left the scene. And here’s what I got . . .

Youngest Daughter: Eww. Seriously?

Middle Son: Only explanation…. a homeless person has tried mom’s meatloaf.

2nd Eldest Son: I thought you were the one requesting Mom’s Worst Meal Ever?

One of the Twins: Betcha Benjamin did it as a practical joke and that was all mom needed to call it “popular.”

Benjamin: I’m de-twinning you just for that creepy and false accusation. Gross to the 10th power! Especially those dehydrated onions she disguises in her meatloaf as “flavored confetti.”

Ex-Husband: Whew! I thought you kids were finally losing it, requesting this atrocity.

ALL: So who’s the moron in our family asking for this slop?? (All eyes narrow suspiciously)

Finally my firstborn child comes into the kitchen with a black sharpie, crosses off the word “Back!” and replaces it with “Boycotted!”

And that ended that little experiment.

Okay, okay, so maybe my family was quickly onto me, but my Facebook Friends would probably fall for it! Plus it would allow me to do some boasting, albeit in a justifiable sort of way — meaning….it’s not my fault I’m posting this, YOU GUYS INSISTED.

Yesterday I put this up on Facebook and then waited for the compliments and kind words to roll in.

Hi everyone! — Normally I don’t do this kind of thing but ironically, a lot of you have been private messaging me, asking if by some chance there might be a link showcasing all my articles on The Huffington Post. Kind of like an online portfolio. Well coincidentally, there is …. just click HERE  !  And thanks everyone who wrote showing so much interest in my past work!

Then I sat back and awaited the praise from those who probably never realized I was published there.

The post got ZERO likes. Nobody commented. But the private messages started immediately. (And I mean this time, for real!) Here’s what I got . . .

 

Hi. Can you name the names of those who wrote to you asking for this link? I would like to speak to a few of them to confirm.

*****************************

Stephanie! Do you know the song “Glory Days” by The Boss — Springsteen?  Lol.

*****************************

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. And those who are too lazy enough to even try anymore, rest on their laurels.

******************************

Alrighty then. Ashamed, I put this up today:

To the one and only interested person who requested I put up my Huffington Post Link, or at least who agreed to say that they did — I can’t find your name on PayPal to send you the $100. Please contact me.

Enough with all this psychology of creating a need where normally there is none. I guess I’ll never make it as an advertiser/marketer. But suddenly in my snail mailbox appeared a postcard announcing, “Held Over Just 1 More Night By Popular Demand….Wicked!” Tickets = $250.

Haha, I thought. Yes, it would be nice to see that musical and find out what all the hoopla was about, but $250??  And now that I know for certain that phrase “By Popular Demand” is totally meaningless,  I’ll just call and see if I can get half-price tickets.

Armed with my newfound knowledge, I made my case on the phone while bargaining for seats like people do in garage sales, as the adamant Box Office Agent kept insisting, “Listen Lady. It’s being held over just one night by popular demand.” And I kept saying, “Of course it is. I’m sooooooo sure. Just give me the names of the patrons demanding the show stay around longer and I’ll fork over my money.” When finally she interrupted me to report, “Sorry Miss, my computer screen just announced we are entirely Sold Out. Better luck next time!”

Hmmph!  Well to cheer myself up I looked up discontinued comfort foods that were brought back by …. you guessed it…..popular demand. Have a look right HERE and then have a consoling Twinkie with me!

Really? Does THIS SHOW ever get an extended run??

 

 

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Debating or Deliberating (Online) Dating? 8 Weird Tips!

The time has come. You’ve moved into the age of digital technology with reading your books on Amazon Kindle, conducting online banking, posting social media, streaming movies, downloading music, applying to job websites, placing restaurant To-G0 orders, and a whole host of other realms. Now you’re gonna matchmake for yourself on the world wide web!

Here are 8 Unique Do’s and Don’t’s you won’t read elsewhere:

  1. If given the choice between making up a personalized User Name (Like Love4Life4U) or just a plain assigned number, (like 24601 for you Les Mis fans) opt for the latter. That way when you write to potential dates you can say witty things in your salutation messages like, “Your days are numbered!” or “Your number’s up.” And if your assigned digits turn out to be 157391, you can always open with, “Hi there! I’d sure love to get ‘even’ with you!”
  2. A new online dating catchphrase is, “Looking for my partner in crime!” Now everyone knows your future mate doesn’t want your vague generalities, so take great pains to spell out the nitty gritty details — specify who will be the getaway driver and who hands the teller the hold-up note. This way your Bonnie and Clyde relationship is sure to start off getting a life sentence . . . of happiness.
  3. Some people purposely set up their profiles to sound like used clothing, cars, or furniture “For Sale” ads on Craigs list. While it’s okay to be cute and describe yourself with adjectives like, “Well loved” or “Gently distressed” or “Comes from a smoke-free home” — for goodness sake don’t say, “Carefully ridden!” unless you truly are offering your bicycle to the highest bidder.
  4. Always attempt to write a bit more than just a single word under the category called “Personality.” Sometimes I’ll only see, “Terrific!” or “Radiant!” or simply, “Humble” and I’m thinking, “Who is this I’m gonna be dating? The spider from Charlotte’s Web?”
  5. NEVER read the site’s question prompts very carefully before answering. For instance, Plenty of Fish asks everyone, “Are you ambitious?” and most people just fill in the blank with “Yes!” Or “Very!” Unless of course they’re honest and just state, “Not really!” But one guy wrote, “I try never to be vague or puzzling. I hope I’ve made myself clear!” I couldn’t resist messaging him for an explanation on his answer. It turns out he thought he was being asked, “Are you ambiguous?” Weeks later I noticed that even after I made him aware of the real question, he kept his answer the same . . . he was no dummy, he was receiving more attention from baffled women like me than if he’d given the standard boring answer every other guy did!
  6. It’s been said before, but be sure and put up VERY recent photos of yourself because they’re just going to meet you in real life eventually and feel misled and fooled if you don’t look like your image. However there seems to be a popular new trend of people posting photographs of themselves back from their heyday (and captioning them with the true date so there’s no confusion) as if to say, “See what you missed out on by not answering this ad twenty years ago??” If you choose to take this tact, definitely also post a photo of you 15 years from now looking especially decrepit and feeble with the words, “And if you hesitate even longer, here’s what our future holds!” That will surely make them respond in a heartbeat….or at least hopefully before yours ceases.
  7. Try to write back to those people you aren’t interested in with some sort of constructive criticism so they can improve their odds the next time around. Say, “Nice eyes, but maybe lose the tarantula.” Or once you’re absolutely certain they live very far away, you could encourage them by saying, “Sorry, geographically undesirable, but I’m sure some nice woman on Mars will fall hard for you!” Or just do what I do and send them a screenshot of their profile and your red pen marks throughout with obnoxious editing suggestions inviting them to try again. So far I’ve gotten 18 resubmitted back to me with all the corrections made and improved hooks and conclusions, leading me to publish an Anthology of Online Dating Profiles in 2019. Look for it!
  8. Stop putting “Must Love . . . ” i.e. “Must Love Dogs, or Cats, or Kids, or Handmaid’s Tale, or Democrats” or whatever you need them to adore fervently. And switch to what they must detest. That’s right, you can bond over mutual hatred. Personally I like to write, “Must totally loathe mushrooms, olives, and anchovies!” so I know that when they show up disinterested in robbing a bank with me, not looking anything like their photo, or holding a tarantula, we can at least share a decent pizza.

Readers:  Any unusual dating profile advice you might want to give one another?? Feel free to leave it in the comments.

Illustrative of couple representing online dating

Ready to Turn the Tables? Here’s Whatcha Gotta Do!

I don’t know about you but I get tired of all the annoyances that go on in our “civilized” society and the protocols and routines I’m expected to adhere to. I think turnabout is fair play and sometimes people deserve a dose of their own medicine. I recommend the following:

Dentists:  Send them a pesky postcard every few weeks saying, “Just a friendly reminder! It’s been six months since you last cleaned my teeth. What’s taking you so long to schedule me? Please call my home because I’m waiting with baited breath for my next appointment!” Also after your cleaning, when they hand you your new dental hygiene accessories in a little festive party favor bag, hand them back a zip-lock baggie with your old toothbrush and some used dental floss as a gesture of goodwill in return.

Restaurants: Bring your own little rectangle tray and when the server sets down her tray with the itemized check, you hand them yours with a little bill that says “Seat-Warmer Fee- $25. Without my presence at your table, this place would take a nose-dive. Gratuity is already included. Thank you for your patronage.”

Physician’s Office: Walk immediately up to the receptionist and hand her your guestbook commanding, “Please sign in.” Then give the nurse a little cup and insist she leave a sample in the restroom.  Ask a Physician Assistant to step on the scale, but don’t allow her to remove her shoes first. Catch the Doctor himself off-guard by rapping three times very loudly on his office door and startling him by calling out, “Hope you’re decent? I’m coming in now!” But first make him wait about twenty minutes. Also before you leave, find every person you interacted with and have them sign forms to protect their privacy and acknowledging the new HIPAA laws.

Department of Motor Vehicles: Distribute a Scrabble letter tile to all employees and announce through a megaphone, “Now serving Letter R.”  Then snap their photo with a Polaroid camera when they’re least expecting it and not anywhere close to smiling.

Theaters: Walk in with a mini-flashlight and immediately greet the usher, asking to see his ticket. Hand him a program which consists of your grocery list for next week folded in half with Act 1 listing all the healthy foods in order of their appearance around the supermarket and Act 2 specifying the junk food you’re actually buying and the commercial jingle lyrics that go with them. Tell him to enjoy the show.

Babysitters: Go to the babysitter’s house while she’s watching your children and eat all her ice-cream, view an R-rated DVD, and rummage through her dresser drawers during the boring parts.

Psychics: Call up the medium and tell her you’re canceling your appointment because you’re getting a strong message from the other side that something very bad will happen if you see her today.

Hairdressers: Sit in the chair and stare in the mirror at the reflection of their hairstyle behind you, asking nosy questions like “Is that your natural color?” and “How often do you condition your split ends?”

Schools: Send your child’s teacher a note saying, “Hi! I’m so glad my child is in your classroom this year. In recent months our household budget has been drastically cut back and we appreciate you sending the following items home on Back-To-School Night to help our family run smoother during the school semester. 1. Five boxes of tissue 2. Six Printer cartridges, color only please 3. King size sheet set, floral pattern in shades of blue 4. Gain Laundry detergent, 42 oz size, original scent 5.  Dozen yellow roses, long stem. 6. Three boxes of Cheerios, Honey Nut flavor.

Telephone Sales: Answer promptly on the first ring when you see their number in your caller ID and say, “Surveys R’ Us. I’m ready to answer all your questions and accept your free vacation to Cancun. My consulting fee for marketing research is $125. My travel fee is triple that and on weekends I require my family accompany me. Which credit card will you be using today?”

Publishers: Send a gentle but firm rejection letter stating, “Gentlemen, I’m sorry but at this point in time your publishing style does not suit my particular needs as an author. I’ve decided to pass on letting you consider putting my novel into print. This is not to say you don’t have potential and I encourage you to keep hoping that I’ll send some of my writing your way — because you never know what the future might bring!”

God: Instead of praying for help, better opportunities, or for the things you need, pray to be of service and to get more opportunities to help those in need.

 

Can You Have TOO Many Tips, Tricks, & Techniques For a Healthy Relationship?

Most people (and by people, I mean women!) who want lasting romantic love will (at some point!) delve into the Couple’s Self-Help industry, whether it be to further intimacy, increase the quality of communication, or just breathe new life into a relationship gasping for air.

But can you have TOO much of a good thing?

The answer to that question is in a flashback from many months ago…

Me: Oh…Flowers!? And you thought flowers would validate my self-worth because??

Him: Shouldn’t you ask that question using “i messages” so I don’t feel so blamed?

Me: Yes, of course. How thoughtless of me. Let me rephrase. When did I ever say getting flowers was how I felt love?

Him: Well you clearly scored high in the “Receiving Gifts” category in the test Gary Chapman, author of 5 Love Languages, has on his website.

Me: Actually Handsome One, I scored the highest in a category called, “Words of Affirmation,” hence I’m a writer.

Him: Well you overlooked the card, Dear Heart. There are lots of words of affirmation written on that card under the purple tulip next to the baby’s breath.

Me: Also if you recall, “Quality Time” was my second highest ranked Love Language.

Him: Right. And do you realize it took an hour to order this bouquet online and then another 45 minutes for me to drive to pick it up just for you?

Me:  i messages please !!!

Him: Sorry, let me rephrase that. I spent a lot of time doing something I felt would be loving and now I just feel criticized. Mirror that back for me, would you SweetCakes?

Me: Sure thing Honeybear! What I hear you saying is … you feel very put down after spending a lot of time on something you thought would make me happy. Even though I’m allergic and flowers also just wilt and drop dead, which is ironic and symbolic. Is that an accurate reflection?

Him: All except the drop dead part. Well maybe that’s spot-on too right now.

Me: I want to acknowledge your frustration and say this is a problem we can definitely work on as a team and find a good solution.

Him: Can you also acknowledge a good solution would be giving me a blow-job?

And now a flashback from several weeks ago, with different self-help techniques, but still a similar ending.

Him: Gosh, I’m starving. Let’s reminisce about old times. Our Relationship Therapist says walking down memory lane is productive in that it bonds us together. So remember when we first started going out and you used to cook all my favorite homemade meals?

Me: But our other Couple’s Counselor also tells us not to dwell on the past and to stay grounded in the present moment. And at precisely this moment, there’s a chicken pot pie in the freezer with your name on it.

Him: But my mother always served those cheap Swanson’s TV dinners to my dad and you know how our Love Advisor doesn’t want our family-of-origin old wounds to get reopened. So how’s about some of your BBQ meatloaf?

Me: Ironically, my own Inner Child’s traumatic hurt has now just been triggered as well by the mention of meatloaf.

Him: Meatloaf triggers you?? What are you, a closet vegetarian?

Me: Once while my dad was spanking me for lying, the famous band Meat Loaf’s most popular song, “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that!” played on the radio.

Him: Really? And this memory scarred you so much — you would do anything for our love except cook me your homemade meatloaf??

Me: That is correct. You microwaving chicken pot pie is much more cathartic for us as a couple.

Him: Well you know how our psychologist tells us to role-play painful situations in order to move past them?

Me: Yes?

Him: (Bending me over his knee, hand raised threateningly over my behind as he shouts, “Who’s Your Daddy?” while Bat Out of Hell plays on his iPhone.)

And finally here’s a flashback from just yesterday:

Me: Let’s spend more quality time appreciating one another. Remember the Intimacy Bootcamp we attended where they said the idea is not to have sex, but to just be more mindful of each other’s bodies and souls?

Him: The one that made us take salsa dance lessons together, do partner yoga, share our fantasies all night instead of sleeping, pen erotica until I got writer’s cramp, and then forced us to do couple’s massage with that coconut oil that made you break out in a rash?

Me: Yes, that’s the one.

Him: The one that said “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey?” And “It’s not the finished product, it’s the process.” And “It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.”

Me: (looking skeptical) They never said that last one.

Him: Well let’s go in the bedroom and check out my yacht anyhow.

Me: Wait! I’m going to reference what you just said in the index of our book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship with Someone Who Makes Everything About Sex and Food.”

Him: Great! And meanwhile I’ll just look up what you’re doing in our other book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship With Someone Who Looks in the Index of Books Titled, What To Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship With Someone Who Makes Everything About Sex and Food.”

Me: (Sigh) Okay you win….Meatloaf or Intercourse?

Him: Yes, please.

Me: You honestly want both sex and food right now at the same time?

Him: I’m feeling judged. Say that again using i messages, please.

Me: I honestly want both sex and food right now at the same time!

Him: Perfect. I knew we were soul mates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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! 😉

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