Should You Start Parenting Yourself? “We’ll See!”

There’s a theory floating around these days that if you missed out on crucial emotionally satisfying input from your mother and/or your father as a child, you will walk around seeking what you lacked in your past via other people in your present. Particularly in romantic relationships. Uh oh!

There’s another theory wafting about that says (and I’m over-simplifying) that when you become upset in life, you actually have what it takes to soothe and comfort yourself.

Now nobody has come out and combined both of these theories together in a weirdly logical way, but I will boldly integrate them right now by asking the obvious question. “Can we just be our own parent and become happy and content forever??”

Always up for a multiple personality experiment to help my blog content, (Translation=I LIKE talking to myself!) I will give it a try for the next 24-hours.

My name is Stephanie so therefore a Capital “S” IN BOLD will be the version of my parent side and lower-case “s’ will represent me, the woman I actually am today.  Ready?  Here I go….

s: Wow, it’s really colder outside than it looked. I’m freezing right now.

S: That’s what you get when you don’t keep an extra sweater or jacket in your car.

s: Yes that would have been smart. But right now, I’m super hungry and am going to focus on picking up some food at Le Fondue.

S: Le Fondue? Do you think money grows on trees? And stop frowning, do you want your face to freeze that way?

s: The answers to those questions respectively are Maybe and Botox. But seriously, all my friends get salads, soups, and crepes from Le Fondue.

S: Well if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do that too? Now go home and cook something healthy.

s: Why would all my friends do that? Unless of course, they all had a mother like you.

S: Don’t you get smart with me! Did you hear me? Answer my question.

s: No, of course I wouldn’t jump off a bridge. But why do I have to go home?

S: Because I said so.

s: Well then can I eat at Le Fondue tomorrow night?

S: Ask your father.

Alright, alright. I’m not doing 24 hours of this nonsense, I cannot even do five minutes. I guess the point is that our “inner parent” may not be much better than our original childhood role model was. (Oh hi mom! This blog is not about you, it’s supposed to be humorous and fictional.)

Well if theory number one (above) is true, then I guess the man I’m embarking on a new relationship with may get slightly frustrated with me from time to time. I suppose he can always just say, “As long as you’re living under my roof, you’ll behave appropriately.” Wait a sec, that doesn’t seem quite right either. Hmmm.

Well until I figure all this relationship/childhood/happiness/life stuff out, this post can serve another purpose — my covert way of officially welcoming him to the WordPress blogosphere because he’s trying out blogging for the very first time.  If you’d like to read some terrific and eclectic poetry and prose, you can take a shortcut to peruse his stuff right HERE. 

Meanwhile, I’m off to buy a special Time-Out chair so that when I tell myself, “I’ve had just about enough of you and your shenanigans, Young Lady!” I’ll have a designated place to sit in seclusion — because I’m really not disciplined enough to ground myself (without a car or cellphone!) for an entire weekend.

 

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Do You Recycle, Reuse, Repeat Yourself in Future Relationships??

 

“I used to have a lot of close connections. But they lived in Connecticut so I cut them off. Get it? Connect-I-Cut?”

Noooo! If I EVER hear that stale old line uttered again, I may have to pour grated parmesan over the head of the speaker, because that’s how cheesy I find it.

Unfortunately the speaker was my 1st husband. This was a husband who told the exact same jokes and one-liners for the entire decade of our marriage and expressed great disappointment that I didn’t giggle just as heartily after hearing them the millionth time as I did when we were first dating. But I was the dutiful wife and thus we had an agreement —  at any get-together, party, or date-night out with another couple, I’d laugh hysterically at his stuff, dab my eyes with a napkin, pretending to catch my breath so I could sputter, “Ohhhh. Isn’t he hilarious? Such a card!”

This set him up for his next line which was, “Yeah, but instead of the Jack of Spades, I’m the Jack of all Trades!” And he’d launch into his many talents and skills. Pleeeease!

“Look, either get some exciting new material or get a new audience,” I’d say, stifling a yawn once we were home together alone in our bed. (Note: I may or may NOT have been referring to his comedy routine.)

He chose the latter option. We divorced.

My second husband and I were together for many years and like any couple we developed our own routines and distinctive little ways of relating to one another that I called, MMM (“Memorable Marriage Minutia.”)

Examples would be a) Taking a Selfie of ourselves with our eyes closed while each person held up a number of fingers behind the other person’s head. When we’d look at the photo, if we each had the same number of fingers we “won” and rewarded ourself with a nice dinner out or a picnic on the beach. b) If there was just one piece of our favorite food left on a plate, we’d split in half, in half, in half and so on until there was the tiniest of crumbs too infinitesimal to split in half — and then we’d play rock/paper/scissors to see who got it. c) I’d write messages to him on the outside of his banana peel in his lunch.

(Hey! I didn’t say these were sane rituals, just OURS.)

Fast forward to our breakup and I’m walking down our same favorite sandy shoreline exactly one year later (What? It’s not like he was awarded the entire beach in our divorce agreement!) when I spot two people taking a Selfie by their picnic basket. Wait! Are they actually holding their fingers up behind each other? As I suspiciously head closer, they sprawl out on their blanket and a lively game of rock/paper/scissors ensues. Really??? I wait until my ex loses (he always picks “paper!”) and run up to them shouting, “Noooo! That’s mine. I copyrighted that. What do you need, a patent? A registered trademark? You can’t steal that!” I am (of course!) pointing to the banana with the Sharpie scribbled writing that’s grasped in her hand as they look incredulously at me.

Sheesh. C’mon folks! Don’t recycle. Can nothing be reinvented for the new person in your life? Maybe I should teach a class called, “How to Have an Original New Relationship!” I’ll walk around during test days and chastise, “Don’t look at each other’s papers, ya bunch of copycat romantic wannabes!”

Fittingly, last night I was dining in a quiet Italian restaurant at a secluded booth with a date of my own (trying to create a new fun little tradition between us regarding the bill the waitress had just set on the table!) when what familiar snatch of dialogue should I hear floating through the air?

“Did I ever tell you about my close connections in Connecticut?”

That was it! I couldn’t help myself. As my 1st ex-husband’s latest girlfriend stared with astonishment, I proceeded to dump powdered parmesan cheese all over his head. She burst out laughing and said, “Ugh. Thank you for finally silencing the “Jack of all Trades.”

I have a feeling I just laid the groundwork for their own future unique ritual — albeit a remarkably cheesy one.

READERS: Do you have secret little rites or actions you do with someone special in your life? Don’t share them in the comments section….someone will surely refurbish, revamp, and reclaim them as their own! 🙂

The Day the Doctor (and the music?) Died!

man wearing white long sleeved shirt

Photo by Miguel Arcanjo Saddi on Pexels.com

(Sung to the Tune of Bye Bye Miss American Pie)

Bye Bye Little Miss Menopause’s Guy

Took an Uber Car to Urgent Care, the receptionist did cry,

Them good ole nurses were eating Apple-a-Day pie,

Singing ‘he had a fatal heart attack, but we don’t know why?’

The day the doctor died.

And that’s when his entire office staff asked me to attend his funeral. Not only that, they said I was the patient who visited the most frequently and therefore Dr. Danzig would have wanted me to give his eulogy.

Sure he would! The man who called in sick whenever he saw my name on his appointment log?

We always had a real love/hate patient/doctor relationship going on, but right now I was in shock. Here was a guy I had faith in and went to each and every time I found a lump of cancer, suffered a stroke, had a heart attack, diagnosed myself with Early Onset Alzheimers or had numbness in my hands.  Each and every time he’d calmly tell me I was overreacting, and that symptoms of death didn’t manifest as a reflexive cough, a scratchy throat, itchy skin, flaky scalp, or a stomach that hurt when I laughed too hard.

I can own it. Yes, I was the proverbial hypochondriac. But I finally had begun to relax. Believing that he was right, and that by always following his sage advice, I would remain amongst the living.

And now he departs this earth without any warning?

You know what that means, don’t you?  Everything he told me to do — how to eat, how to drink, how to exercise, how to breathe, how to sleep, how to blow my nose, was entirely wrong. It had backfired on him and it was only a matter of time I would suffer the same fate.

This is different than your hairdresser showing up with gray hair, your teller at First American Financial declaring bankruptcy, or your mechanic’s own car brakes failing, — this is your doctor, the professional health expert that you trust to know what he’s talking about suddenly DYING!!

OMG! Before I meet my maker, maybe I should give serious consideration to writing my doctor’s eulogy. Here’s what I’ll say….

Dr. Danzig — it’s me, Little Miss Menopause. The one who’d sit in your waiting room, wringing her (numb!) hands, planning her own funeral. And now I’m attending yours, and reminiscing over all the visits and phone calls we shared…

I’ll always fondly recall the following little games we played:

  1. You’d leave the room after commanding me to undress. I’d panic, frantically trying to get that rattling, flimsy paper gown over my body in thirty seconds flat. And then, (I kid you not!) you’d strategically time your loud knocking on the door to the split second when my jeans/panties were off, but my thick woolen sweater was stuck over my head — so my voice muffled as I’d try to shout, “Give me one more minute!” You’d barge in and say, “What’s the difference if I see you naked standing vertical? I’m just going to gawk at you naked when you’re horizontal on my examination table?” You had a point, but still.
  2. Speaking of your table. Remember how you once admitted your nurse is forgetful and might not always remember to change the tissue paper between exams and how your last patient had syphilis. You little prankster, you!
  3. That time when I came in complaining that whenever I inhaled, I felt sharp pain in my lungs and you said, “The remedy for that is simple. Stop breathing.” What a card you were!
  4. Our cute phone tag shenanigans! I’d be desperate to find out my blood work results, (certain I had leukemia) and you’d (I have zero proof of this, but I wouldn’t put it past you!) have your leisurely breakfast at your desk, peruse my normal hemoglobin count which you’d record in my chart, then tell your receptionist, “Hold all my calls. I have an important meeting.” Next you’d chuckle as you’d overhear your front office phone ringing incessantly. Oh what fun!
  5. I’d bring freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to the lab, thereby bribing a technician to give me my blood results directly, breathe a sigh of relief they were fine and then proceed to hatch my plan. In your own sweet time, (bless your heart!) you’d finally return my phone calls, but hear the following outgoing message. “I’m sorry I missed you. If this is Dr. Danzig phoning, I have something urgent to tell you about glimpsing your wife in the restaurant where I was having lunch today. Leave me a message and I’ll get right back to you.” Then I’d go to a double feature at the movies and out for dinner. Wheeeee, good times!

Wait a minute, this really wasn’t a nice eulogy. It was more of a “cruelogy,” I thought as I imagined his bereaved family sobbing by his casket, none appreciating the humor in what I wrote. Serves him right though for always downplaying my symptoms, telling me they were nothing, that I was the boy who cried wolf who happened to wear dresses, and that everything was gonna turn out just fine.

A tear ran down my cheek as I imagined him experiencing his own chest pains, shortness of breath, left arm numbness, while optimistically telling himself it was probably just something he ate. Poor man believing his own propaganda. Doctor, heal thyself!

My phone rang and I answered immediately upon seeing the caller ID announcing Dr. Danzig. Really?

“Gotcha good this time!” he heartily laughed. “Now you know how I feel when you always insist you’re dying. And also — that’ll teach you to imply my wife is cheating on me!”

I seethed on the other end of the line. “You just wait, Dr. Danzig. I’m going to come in next time with bizarre mysterious symptoms and tell your entire waiting room that I was bit by a yellow-bellied sap sucker in your parking lot and it’s highly contagious.”

He chuckled, “Yes, but I saw you naked!”

Ugh, he had me there. But I was relieved he wasn’t a Dead Duck…. just perhaps a living Quack!

Readers — Do you have a healthy relationship with your physician? Do you wanna strangle him or do you love him “to death?”

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Have You Heard About “1st Date Dilemma Dissection” Sessions?

 

Everyone knows when spouses get into trouble, it’s wise to go and see a specialist to help sort out communication and major issues before a divorce ensues. Next came Pre-Marital therapy which started with a member of the clergy (but eventually any psychology specialist went into the business) meeting with the engaged couple to talk about commitment and honoring their vows and getting the soon to be newlyweds off to a healthy start emotionally. After that there was the Invention of Couple’s Counseling which sounds like what it is — a couple has been dating exclusively but maybe there are some problems they’d like to nip in the bud before they become more destructive.

But why stop there? I think I’m on to something by introducing 1st Date Dilemma Dissection.  In fact, I will volunteer to try it below with a reputable trained therapist….listen in!

Therapist:  Okay, so you met on Match dot com and you both felt you had something in common worth pursuing after the initial coffee meeting.

Him: Well weirdly she doesn’t like coffee, but I love it.

Me: He didn’t say “weirdly” back then. He said he found me an original.

Him: An original with freakishly white teeth.

Therapist: Be that as it may — after your first meet-up, the two of you agreed to go to dinner and a movie.

Him: Even though you can’t really talk in a movie. But if that’s what the lady wanted….

Me: The Oscars are coming and I’ve only seen 8 out of the 10 contenders.

Therapist: Seems pretty OCD. So at the restaurant, Stephanie turned to you and said? Stephanie?

Me: I’ll have the cobb salad, without bacon, substitute feta for the crumbled bleu cheese, and dressing on the side.

Therapist: And how did that make you feel, Him?

Him: Kinda like a waiter.

Me: That’s simply not true. I never ….

Therapist: (raises a finger) Bup, bup, bup….his perception is his reality, dear.

Him: To be fair, I had asked her what she felt like eating.

Therapist: Be that as it may, you were starting to sense perhaps a power struggle or control issues.

Me: Well I had given him a head’s up that I am kind of a picky eater so it didn’t come as a surprise.

Him: No biggie. And after we ordered I noticed she was shivering so I put my jacket over her shoulders.

Therapist: And how did that make you feel? Like she was needy? Codependent?

Him: I hadn’t thought of that.

Therapist: And how did that jacket make you feel, Stephanie? Like he was a rescuer?

Me: Well honestly, he misconstrued my body language. I wasn’t cold. I was trembling because someone walked by the window with a python and I have a snake phobia. And also his jacket smelled of cigars which I find disgusting.

Him: Uh, I didn’t know that. I raise snakes. But I’m trying to quit cigars.

Therapist: Cold turkey?

Me: Yes his turkey arrived cold and I encouraged him to speak up to our server and send it back and …

Therapist: Bup, bup, bup. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here. It’s not time to discuss assertiveness. I’d like to focus on his lack of disclosure about his smoking habit.

Him: I give you my word, Stephanie. I’ve just had my last cigar. You’re worth it.

Me: Awww, I totally trust you.

Therapist: Snakes AND Cigars?? You do know what those things symbolize in Freudian psychology, right?

Him: Done! Why don’t we plan a second date and go to Disneyland and I’ll pack us a pic…

Therapist: Bup, bup, bup. Be that as it may, I’d like you to turn to Stephanie and look her in the eyes and tell her what bothers you right now.

Him: (looks deeply into my pupils) I can’t stand this shrink saying “bup bup bup” every two seconds.

Me: Right? And what’s up with “Be that as it may??”

Him: What are the odds we’d both feel the same way at the exact same moment? That’s some hot chemistry we have going on.

Me: Smoking hot!

Him: Please don’t mention smoking.

Me: Sorry. But seriously, who talks like that?

Therapist: Well I do. I do? I do! Oh, that’s right. We should discuss both of your feelings about marriage.

Him: Wanna lose this chick and grab a drink and then go dancing?

Me: Oh what do you drink? And what’s your last name again so I can put you in my contacts?

Therapist: That’s all the time we have this week. We’ll have to discuss his last name and his drinking problem when we reconvene.

Tada!  That’s how you get a first date off on the right foot….pick a really crummy therapist to dislike equally and bond over.

Happy Vow-entines Day (I Vow not to let this day impact me)

February is just a month. 14 is just a number. It’s all about commercialism anyhow.

These are the things I’ve told myself ever since I was in the 4th grade and Mrs. Gerson had us craft little mailboxes out of empty tissue boxes, (the open slit at the top was perfect for dropping notes inside) paint cute red hearts on them, and then distribute valentines to our classmates. Note: There was no rule back then that you had to give everyone a valentine. I received exactly three. One was from Mrs. Gerson.

Lesson learned? Only cry if you have a second tissue box that hasn’t been converted into a mailbox.

But here’s some big Valentine news to me. It’s not just a single day I’m dealing with anymore, now it’s an entire week! Did anyone else know this?  Click HERE

Starting on February 7 the official days are called: Rose Day, Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Hug Day, and Kiss Day.

Oh my god. Can I add another week of days to follow after Valentine’s Day?

Feb 15: “What the hell just happened?” day. Feb 16: “Argue and Fight” day. Feb 17: “Makeup Sex” day. Feb 18: “Presidents” day (contemplate what sleeping with Washington or Lincoln would be like) Feb 19: ” Back on Diet” day (Chocolate Day got a little out of hand) Feb 20: “Flirt with others” day. Feb 21: `”Discuss whether the above mentioned ‘Teddy Day’ was supposed to just be about an adorable stuffed bear or something more like this” day.

Does every male now know this type of lingerie is called a Teddy?

I would now like to offer some alternative solutions to this confusing holiday of Love. We could simply change the V to a P and it easily becomes “Palentine’s Day”– Honor the friends who are there after each heartache we suffer.

Or change up the ending of the word. “Valentwine Day” — Tie up those we love with rope until they say “yes” when we ask, “Will you be mine?”

Or we could pay tribute to five overlooked letters of the alphabet that need a little more attention because they’re constantly reminded they’re not consonants. A-E-I-O-U and Y. That’s right…..

 “Happy Vowelentine’s Day!” 

(Hallmark, listen up!)

A — is for “Adore” which is always much easier to say instead of the L-word.

E — is for “Everything” that I put in my dating profile that I am looking for in a match. And you decide to pretend to be all of those things to win me over in the beginning and now you’re feeling put upon. But when you try to go back to being your real self, I’ll cry out, “You’ve changed!” in an accusing sort of way, but really you just went back to being who you originally were in the first place. Gotta love E.

I — is for “Ice-Cream.” Any flavor works after what E stood for.

O — is for “Overwhelmed” which is something you can say (“I feel overwhelmed!”) anytime you want someone to give you space.

U — is for “Unite.” But also for “Untie.” Which is very scary in a relationship if anyone has dyslexia.

Y — is for “Yawn.” Are you feeling bored in your relationship? Console yourself by remembering that Y is only sometimes a vowel! Occasional boredom you can live with, yes? Y is also for “Yes!”

Readers: Feel free to leave me a comment describing the worst thing that ever happened to you on Valentine’s Day. 

Beware — The Vulnerable, Vacillating, Vanishing Valentine Villain!

 

 

It all began on February 1st because I went to see my therapist for ideas on how to feel closer to my neighbors and become a bigger part of my local community.

Therapist: How can I help you?

Me: Every day I walk exactly 11 miles before 11:11 pm on the clock and…

Therapist: So you’re here to address your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Me: No, that’s just my lucky number. The point is I encounter tons of neighbors on my walks but nobody says hello or acts friendly at all. And if I wave, they just ignore me.

Therapist: So you have a fear of rejection and a wounded child syndrome.

After I convinced her I was emotionally healthy, we decided the approaching Feb 14th holiday was the ideal opportunity for me to foster a more neighborly attitude. I would bake heart-shaped cookies and leave a sweet message on nearby front porches. Perfect. It would be a “Love Thy Neighbor” type of deal. Hey! Maybe I’d even start a new trend like that “Pay It Forward” kid did and become famous!

Then came all the trouble over “LOVE.” Because it was centered around the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, of course I wrote “I Love You!” on a sticky Post-It and attached it to the plate. Hallmark says it and so do those putrid conversation heart candies — why can’t I?

The next morning my neighbor confronted me at the mailbox with raised eyebrows and asked me what exactly I meant by that? I assured him I’ve lived here for nineteen years now and had just grown fond of his entire family. He frowned and hurried away, issuing a warning about mounting one of those video surveillance cameras on his front door.

I consulted my therapist who advised me to omit the “I” from “I Love you!” It was too overt and felt threatening to people, she told me. “Besides if you’re signing your name, they all know who you are anyhow,” she further explained.

Okaaaay. Cookies went out again, this time with a card that simply stated, “Love You!”

That afternoon, I overheard two neighbors talking in suspicious tones underneath my window.

Neighbor #1: What’s up with this Stephanie chick and those weird, mushy sentiments?

Neighbor #2: Yeah! Why can’t she just wait until Halloween and leave the normal, “You’ve been booed!” scary anonymous goblin note with treats instead?

So essentially I live in an area where people would rather be spooked than loved!

My therapist next recommended I try a different cul-de-sac of homes and dial it back even more. She suggested writing “Luv Ya!” because that was somehow more appropriate. Why I had to intentionally misspell words didn’t make any sense, but if that’s what it took, I was on it.

My children were annoyed that I kept baking heart-shaped cookies around the clock but not a one was for their consumption. Nevertheless I was determined to make this plan a success. The next batches went out late at night and I felt really good about it — plus my signature was now, “From Your Secret Valentine Vixen!” so it would be completely anonymous like the Halloween ghost thing they mentioned.

I was confident my neighborhood would now be a much nicer place to take walks in! But that was before I ran into five women standing in a huddle and looking disturbed. I moved in closer to hear what all the fuss was about.

Neighbor #1: There’s a Valentine Vamp after our husbands!

Neighbor #2: Yes! And she’s also a Valentine Vandal. There were cookie sprinkles littered all over our brand new front doormat.

Neighbor #3: Plus she’s undermining our parental authority because we don’t allow sugar anywhere near our children.

Me: (enthusiastically joining in) The sheer audacity of this woman. Let’s intercept her mail!

And that’s how I hit on the best way to get close to all my neighbors . . . I would bond with them through everyone’s anger and disgust over me – the loving Valentine cookie baker!

But for good measure, I left a plate of exactly 11 heart-shaped confections on my therapist’s office door with a note that said, “Wuv U!”

She called me immediately. Her voicemail said, “We really must work on your OCD and that neglected Inner Child of yours!”

 

I Plead “No Contest!” (When Entering Writing Competitions)

I’ve never entered a writing contest before. Although every time I submit my work to an editor, technically I’m competing against other author “contestants” who want to have their creations appear in the exact same magazine, anthology, or website. And when the prize is an acceptance notice of publication, yes I feel like a winner. That’s a contest if you ask me and so I’ve entered many.

However this writing contest was different. . .

I’ve written novels and screenplays before, but this contest was for live theater and the winners get their words brought to life on a stage in front of an audience. Sign me up!

The other difference was that I only found out about this contest a mere 24 hours prior to the submission deadline, which threw me into some fast and furious typing. And the rules specified it could be a comedy OR a meaningful, serious drama. After some inner debate, I chose to do humor. Big surprise.

But in the end, my biggest dilemma was needing help choosing which play to submit (somehow two distinctly different scripts had been birthed from my infertile, barren brain….fraternal twins?) because I couldn’t decide on my own which was more brilliant. Or (every other hour) which script sucked less. The rules were clear — one entry per person.

Who in my life was competent to give this kind of input and more to the point, would help me make this decision extremely QUICKLY? (Yikes! Like within the next thirty minutes!) The first thing I did was turn to another writer friend (Samantha) who owed me a huge favor since I had recently critiqued her query letter and it helped her land an agent.

Samantha expediently sent me a ton of elaborate feedback on both my scripts. But what wasn’t clear, was her opinion of which one she recommended I should enter into the contest — essentially the only question I had originally asked!

I emailed back and said, “Thank you! But which one was better?” Samantha replied, “That’s personal preference. But I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear what you thought of my feedback?”

So here I am with hours to go until the deadline and I’ve got a narcissistic friend/egomaniac writer expecting me to critique her critique!?

Ugh. Frantically I sent both possibilities to my mother, along with the rules of the contest so she could see the criteria with which they’d be judged. “Ps. Please Hurry!” was how my email ended. After many long hours, she wrote back, “I contemplated this very carefully. I’d go with the one about your multiple personalities falling in love with each other at a cocktail party. But both of them were very meaningful and serious dramas.” I wrote back, “Thanks, mom! But they were both comedies. Which one made you laugh more?”  And then she called me and said, “If you like contests so much, the county fair has a watermelon-eating one you can enter this weekend.”

Okaaay! I’m done with asking females for help. Turning to men has sometimes worked for me in the past. Quickly I sent my scripts to a great guy who performs in local community theatre, pleading “Which one??”  He finally wrote back that both of them had dialogue sections that didn’t sound very good when belted out in his shower. I forgot he only does musical theatre.

Feeling truly desperate, I took my beginning narrator’s lines from each possible entry and sent them as my introductory messages to two different men with dating profiles on Match.com. Whoever wrote me back first and said “That’s really funny!” would be how I would make my decision.

The first bachelor wrote back,  “Hi! Sorry, I’m only 5 ft. 4 and I make it a rule not to do taller women because things won’t line up properly.” Very helpful input. And then the other wrote back, “Meet tonight at 7 pm for a drink? Ps. And are you a therapist? Damn! That was some crazy psycho-babble, babe.”

But now thinking about therapists and my own past sessions… I had the answer to my quandary of which script to submit to the contest. I would send both! One would be entered under my own real name. And then the second script (about my multiple personalities falling in love at a cocktail party) would be sent under the name Sybil. Problem solved!

Readers– Have you entered writing contests? Have you had as much trouble as this? Oh! Also I was recently interviewed. You can check it out just below. But why is it called “Woman on the Edge of Reality?” Lol. 

An interview with Stephanie Lewis, author of Lullabies & Alibis

 

 

The Security Guard’s Relationship With Me (That He Didn’t Know He Was Having!)

It all started one day this past summer after moving to a townhouse inside a gated community with a real live security guard who sits in a little shack by the entrance and monitors everyone’s comings and goings. You know the modern version of the kind who shouts, “Hark! Who Goes There?”

As I unpacked boxes — lamenting my lack of closet space, my phone rang with news that my little Shih-Tzu had been picked up by the Gate Guard. “Thank goodness her collar tags still reflect my same cell number even though my address has changed,” I said aloud as I rushed over to claim my Lola.

“Better be careful with this little one,” admonished the Gate Guard with raised eyebrow, “She almost crossed that busy street.” Great. The Gate Guard thinks I’m a negligent pet owner now.

That night we ordered pizza. Obviously. What family doesn’t order pizza on moving day? My cellphone rang and as I answered it, I heard the gate guard tell the driver that it sure smelled good. Guiltily, I granted permission for him to let Papa Antonio’s delivery service through the gate. “Extra cheese??” the Gate Guard commented to me in what could have been considered a very indicting tone. Great. The Gate Guard knows I’m lactose intolerant and undisciplined now.

The more people who came to see my new place, the more self-conscious I became. It seemed to me the Gate Guard knew everything about my life just from the types of visitors I had. “I wonder why so many men come through here asking for her address?” I imagined him contemplating luridly. After the fifth guy came before noon, I felt an explanation was needed. “You see, I’ve been having a lot of work done on my place today and right now I have a clogged toilet and a hornet’s nest on my back patio,” I offered weakly when he called to get my okay for two more fellows named, “Buzz Hoff” and “John’s Flush” to be let through.

“Uh huh. Whatever,” the Gate Guard said flippantly. Great. The Gate Guard thinks I’m running a house-of ill-repute now. How judgmental.

It wasn’t long before I was certain the Gate Guard (Whom I’d taken to referring as “GG” now) formulated a strong hunch that I wasn’t much of a cook. I pictured him welcoming Chinese, Greek, Mexican, and yes more Italian food trucks into our community and pointing them all toward my place with sort of a disapproving look on his face. And that’s why, when I passed him by one day on foot on the way to the mailboxes, I felt obliged to let him know my oven was broken. “I’m sure it is,” he responded, grinning widely. Great. GG knows I’m a liar now. 

GG also became quite familiar with my mother and probably thought it was really lame that she’d already come over here 18 times in the two weeks since I’d moved in. That accounts for the reason I exclaimed loudly out my rolled-down car window the next time I exited through his shack, “We’re Jewish!” while he looked bewildered and yelled out after I passed, “Well….Shalom then, I guess!” Great. GG thinks I’m a religious fanatic now. Such Chutzpa!

During a stressful week that was particularly prolific with pizza, GG (who also rides around on a golf-cart patrolling our neighborhood, ridding us of burglars and kidnappers, but probably more often dealing with sidewalk solicitors) passed me walking on the street late at night and slowed down to ask real friendly-like, “Getting some much needed exercise after all that pizza?” Great. GG thinks I’m getting fat now. What nerve.

“I have two constantly hungry teenagers,” I justified. “And I only eat the veggie toppings and spit out the cheese!” Great. GG knows I have an eating disorder now.

When he passed me by again a full 2.5 hours later, still riding on his stupid golf-cart, he came to a complete stop this time looking incredulous and inquired, “Still walking??”

“Yes. I have to stay out here until my pedometer says 11 miles or until my watch says 11:11pm, whichever comes second.” He gave a weird little nod, issued a tentative wave, and sped quickly away. Great. GG knows I have obsessive compulsive disorder now. 

During Thanksgiving, I had my mother and a few other family members over for dinner, all except my four older kids who sadly all moved far away. I noticed GG was burning the midnight oil in his little guard shack after my guests departed. I decided to take him a food care-package because everyone deserves to eat turkey and pumpkin pie. When he slid open his glass door I said, “You’re the same age as my son who couldn’t come home tonight. Thought you’d enjoy.” He took it, thanked me, but added that his own mother was keeping dinner warm for him. He emphasized the words, “My OWN MOTHER.” Great. GG thinks I’m some sad little empty-nester who wants to adopt him now. 

A few days later, a survey came in the mail asking how the community has been running? It also asked for feedback on certain employees, including the Gate Guards, of which there were several. I filled it out and wrote a comment specifically about GG which went like this, “GG does his job okay, but he’s very presumptuous and jumps to all sorts of conclusions about my lifestyle. He’s nosy and invades privacy. I would appreciate it if you’d tell him to keep his opinions to himself, otherwise you should probably fire him because he makes your residents feel very uncomfortable.” I then realized I didn’t know his real name so they wouldn’t know who I was specifically referring to.

I drove down to the shack and knocked matter-of-factly until GG opened the window and I could lean my head in closer to scrutinize his name badge. He instinctively took a few steps back so I couldn’t read anything at all. Great. GG thinks I’m a Mrs. Robinson type and I’m here to seduce him now. And so I said, “Relax, I just need your name.”

“My name is Gregory Garrison, but my good friends call me GG. And by the way your pumpkin pie was better than my moms, you’re an excellent cook and the nicest, most interesting resident I’ve met since working here. They told me if I don’t get enough good reviews, I’m going to be let go after Christmas. I just wanted to tell you that you’ll be the one I’ll miss the most.”

I stood with my mouth wide open, completely dumbfounded. Great. GG probably thinks I’m shy and at a loss for words now.

But I wasn’t. I drove immediately home to erase my comment on the survey form. In it’s place I printed these emphatic words. “Gregory Garrison, (GG) is an asset to our community and should be given a raise for his competency…. but especially for his sweet, caring, personable behavior.

Dear Readers, Is there someone doing a regular job in your life that you are either completely oblivious to or have the wrong impression of? Reaching out or giving the benefit of the doubt is such a wonderful thing. Happy Holidays!

6 Expert Blogging Tips You Should Promptly Ignore!

1. Blog Every Day — Do NOT do this! I’m actually waiting for the “experts” to diagnose our blogs (which don’t have well-formed, regular posts coming out like clockwork) with having “Blogstipation” and prescribing us something like Metamucil (I met a Muse ill one time as well!) which would contain FingerFiber to unblock our hands when they’re too bloated to type. All kidding aside, if you’re going to put writing out there this consistently, you’re depriving your readers of that intense and exciting emotion known as “yearning.” They cannot miss you if you’re constantly in their face. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder!” Didn’t you ever find that message in your fortune cookie? Or do you subscribe to the opposite (idiotic?) idiom which goes, “Outa sight, outa mind!” and only holds true for spouses justifying cheating when their significant other is on a business trip.  I myself intentionally go months without posting something and then wait for readers to demand I return to the blogosphere, which is usually illustrated by them throwing me a “Coming Home” surprise party. Basically when I log into WordPress, a cheery notification pops up that says, “Welcome Back!” and that’s how I know my numerous fans simply cannot bear my playing hard to get anymore. Bottom line is keep ’em wanting more — blog twice yearly.

2. Write Great Content: Say what? No! Don’t do this. Once you start out with excellent stuff, you’re denying your readers the chance to say, “I knew Mr./Ms Blogger when they were writing pure drivel.” Here’s what you do — write mediocre paragraphs sandwiched by a yummy headline and a delicious call-to-action conclusion. This framework supports your post in the manner to which it’s become accustomed, and people only read those parts anyhow. Think about it. Do you really scrutinize the turkey or roast beef in your lunch or are you marveling at the golden flaky sourdough bread perfectly cradling the savory mayo and mustard? So toast your titles to perfection and spread the condiment conclusion extra thick. I guarantee any way you slice it, people will continue to order your blog!

3. Comment On Other Blogs Frequently:  The theory being that if you sprinkle enough breadcrumbs online, readers will trace those scintillating trail of comments back to your own writing. But do you really want a bunch of followers named Hansel and Gretel? And besides doing this will get you a reputation as a “Rampant Remarker” and you’ll have to drink Constant Comment tea! Just remember — “Those that can …do. Those that can’t… teach!” You’re smart enough to somehow tweak this bumper sticker proverb so it’ll work wisely for this example, aren’t you?

4. Run a Competition and give prizes!: Hold on there, Ed McMahon! (Did you know he never even officially worked for the Publisher’s Clearing House contest? Check it out right HERE) Think about it — you hold a competition to grow your blog bigger, right? But if you NEED to grow your blog, that means there are currently very few people reading it to enter your exciting contest. Every time the Academy Awards show “The Oscars” rolled around, I’d run a similar promotion on Once Upon Your Prime cleverly calling it, “The Blogademy Awards” or “The Bloscars” and advertise awesome prizes for all 25 different types of blogs. That’s right, instead of generating my own new writing material (and subsequently making people laugh) every post consisted of me obsessed with begging convincing potential contestants to enter my competition because I was the judge and I always wanted to be able to say, “Due to an overwhelming number of submissions for Best Supporting Blog, picking a winner was extremely difficult so therefore we have a tie!” But nooooooo, because I was too embarrassed to cancel my contest and confess there wasn’t enough competition, I ended up sending out gift cards to the same blogger who entered every single category. That’s right — they now have a lifetime supply of Starbucks and the following year they asked if the prize could be a Target gift card. Of course they did. Just say “NO!” to holding contests!

5. Be Controversial!:  Professional bloggers will tell you they got popular by taking an opposing view and not being afraid to offend people. This is supposed to make your blog go viral and (if you write humor like me?) maybe you can be the Don Rickles of blogging. No!! With three exceptions, don’t do this! The first is writing a blog on men carrying handbags — because you’ll not only have controversy, you’ll have contropursey! Alternatively ask, “Should there be male assistants in doctor’s offices?” and then you’ll also have a big contronursey on your hands.  Or just play it safe and frustrate readers by typing in an irritating light-colored font like this. Of course we call that being Fontroversial!

6. Tell People to Ignore Expert Advice: It’s really transparent that you’re just trying to make others suck so your blog will stand out big time next to all the losers.

Readers: Leave any other tips you currently disregard in the comments

Another Star Is Born!

I just came home from watching Lady Gaga in the new remake of A Star is Born and please tell me I can’t be the only writer who, (after viewing a certain scene which I’ll call the “Aww Awwww AWWWWW…” scene” and you can watch it yourself right here starting at 1:20 if you promise to come back and finish reading!) really wishes that the act of writing was something more performance oriented. Something concretely tangible, or auditory and visual that an audience could enthusiastically cheer for as they watch mesmerized and spellbound with enormous respect and admiration.

Just picture this:

Another Star is Born

Bradley Cooper: I’d like to call up to the stage a good friend of mine who writes funny blogs so you can all witness her doing some incredible work in person.

Me: (In the wings offstage, shaking my head in humbled protest. My modest demeanor about to disintegrate any second as Bradley comes closer to me with that low, grumbly-rumbly voice of his, pulling me up firmly by the wrist, and whispering in my ear.)

Bradley Cooper: Here’s what we’re gonna do. You’re gonna come out and write that article I love.

Me: No, no, I can’t do it.

Bradley Cooper: You’re coming. Here we go. All you gotta do is trust me. That’s all you gotta do…”

Me: (Nervously climbing on stage in front of tens of thousands, taking the microphone and lowering it way down to the level of my laptop computer.)

Audience: (Screams, whoops, hollers, bursts of applause as a whirring noise emanates when the power is turned on.)

Me: (Tap, tap, tap, tap, point n’ click, copy n’ paste, looks up to sky, Googles ‘synonym for small horse.’ Types “pony.” Looks down at floor. Tap tap tap. Blows breath forcefully out from mouth upwards into a long sigh causing tuft of hair bangs to lift slightly toward the sky. Delete, delete, delete DELETE…. takes a slight awkward bow.)

Bradley Cooper: Let’s give her a big hand, folks!

Audience: (Filing out of seats to get ticket refunded.)

Alright so maybe there are other movies more suitable for substituting writing into the plot that might work better than a singing one. Let’s try . . .

“Dirty Freelancing”

Scene: Stephanie — a wild dark-haired neurotic woman, sits isolated in the back of a dimly lit room, bent over a computer with her hands moving violently over a keyboard, trying to find the submission guidelines for an online publication.

Patrick Swayze: Nobody puts Babyephanie in a corner!

Okay so maybe not a dancing film either.  Let’s see…I know! Ice-skating, like the Tanya Harding documentary.

“I, Margaret”

Stephanie rapidly types in fits of hysteria trying to get her brilliant words out before she forgets her own character’s motivation. A shadowy figure lurks behind and maniacally smashes down a hammer upon innocent Stephanie’s right hand, fingers and all. As she turns toward her attacker, Stephanie catches the eye of none other than Margaret Atwood. “I heard I might have a little competition with Handmaid’s Tale,” Margaret utters and then disappears through the open window.

What? It could happen!

But maybe this is a more likely scenario — Trying to get into the prestigious masters program for creative writing at the University of Iowa, (instead of Jennifer Beals auditioning to get into the famous ballet dance school in NYC)

FlashFiction

What a Feeling!

(Cue familiar music right HERE)

First when there’s nothing
But a slow hunt n’ peck dream
That your typos seems to hide
Deep inside your mind.
All alone I have cried
Silent consonants full of pride
In a world full of editors
Made of stone.
Well, I hear the tapping
Close my eyes, feel the rhythm
Wrap around
Take a hold of my shift key!
What a feelin’
Agents believin’
I can have it all
Now I’m typing for my life.
Take your passion
And give it a clever caption!
Stories come alive
You can publish right through your life…
The scene climaxes as three admitting professors watch wearily as I get a running start for my big long leap into the air, landing into a perfect breakdance head spin, balancing precariously on a typewriter while managing to pound out, “On a dark and stormy night” on an 8.5 x 11 paper. It impresses them and I’m accepted!
Maybe all this performance stuff is asking too much. I think the writing profession can easily be parlayed into important matters of social justice like in this memorable film . .
StephErin BrockoLewis

Author Stephanie Lewis sacrifices all her energy, time, children, and her busy social life to the total dedication in the pursuit of saving old-fashioned writers back in the typewriter era from getting poisoned by the new toxic rules of single-spacing after a period. She researched until her fingers were bloody raw and finally came up with this irrefutable evidence in order to form a class-action lawsuit and bring back double-spacing at the end of sentences for good, making her a hero to other midlife writers and the publishing industry extremely sorry they ever rejected a novel of hers that wasn’t in compliance with their dumb new rule.

Okay Readers — So what famous movie scene do you kinda, sorta, definitely fantasize you could realistically be in? Tell me in the comments.