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

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

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

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

NEVER EVER OFFER THESE SOLUTIONS….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lessons I Learned From Going on Dates and Bringing my Toy!

There was a time when first meetings with men from online websites consisted solely of mundane beach walks and ho-hum coffee talks. But then I decided to make it more interesting and bring some “props.”  Here’s some of the takeaway and things I gleaned:

BUBBLES

From my purse I extracted two tiny vials of soap bubbles purchased from Target. This was not as bizarre as it sounds because we were sitting in a park.

HIM: Bubbles. Really??

Me: I think they’re fun! Let’s see who can blow and preserve the most by catching them on our wands.

HIM: Sure.

Me: Uh, could you stop intentionally poking my bubbles? That’s literally the opposite of what I suggested we do.

HIM: Just ten more?

Me: Really. It’s very important to me to see how long a beautiful but fragile bubble can last. Don’t you put stock in symbolism??

HIM: Sorry. I can’t seem to stop. Pop! Pop! Pop!

Little children began to gather around us, but the date actually ended when my dream bubble literally burst as it dawned on me that (after five days of non-stop compatible emailing) this was someone who was either mean-spirited or had a strange case of OCD and I should certainly “blow off” any further dates with him.

PLAY-DOH

From my purse, I deftly pulled out five mini canisters of that iconic children’s colored modeling compound and sniffed the distinctive scent (always takes me back fifty years!) then watched as the smile faded from my date’s face. I then proceeded to roll out a replica of his annoying frown using red Play-Doh and stuck it on the blue ball of Play-Doh, which now represented his dumb head! But he wouldn’t participate because he said he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. Then he chastised me for combining the different colors together because (his words!) it will be hard to separate them and put them away neatly. The date ended when he inquired, “So how long have you been a preschool teacher?” And I responded, “I’m not. What an odd question. Whatever made you think I was?”

SILLY PUTTY

I withdrew from my purse (I know! I’ve got some great purse, huh?!) the classic red plastic egg which housed the addictive Silly Putty and handed it to my date to see how he’d use it. He was very enthusiastic! This was a great sign. Game on! But instead of pinching it, rolling it, or putting his thumb into it to make a hollow hole and then squeezing it tightly to produce the loudest, most satisfying cracking sound ever, he asked to see my drivers license. What?? Over and over he pressed the flat rubbery substance against my photo and after it magically transferred onto the Silly Putty, he’d distort my image by pulling it this way and that while murmuring things like, “Look! You’ve got the longest nose in the world. Honk honk!  And the skinniest neck, giraffe lady! Haha.” And “I’m gonna make your hair stick up even further than it actually does. Watch!” Game over. Date definitely over. PS. Even if he didn’t make my face look grotesquely cartoonish, he had some weird accent that made him refer to it as “Silly Potty” and there was only so much of that I could take.

JACKS

It did not help matters that my timing with this specific object was rather unfortunate because this guy’s name was actually “Jack” and he thought by picking this particular toy, I was insinuating that he was a “Player.” Sheesh, some people put too much stock in symbolism. He also kept asking, “What era did you grow up in? My great great great grandmother played Jacks.” There were too many “greats” in his sentence for my liking. Finally we lost the little red ball completely and he thought a better game was to see who could stand upon all the Jacks the longest (barefoot!) without grimacing.

LITE-BRITE

Remember this beloved contraption with the little colored pegs? I should have known how this would turn out when I texted my date, asking him to bring batteries so we could use my favorite “toy.” He immediately messaged back, “Oh, I’m on it, babe! And I can’t wait for you to be on it, too. Heh heh.” Words cannot describe how disappointed he was to see what I actually had in mind for a “toy” when we met in real life.  But my bigger mistake? Lite-Brite only works in a dim room. And therefore it was in the dark co-ed public restroom with the door locked, when my mind became fully illuminated that Lite-Brite should never be attempted with a Grope Dope.

SLINKY

This man used the wonderful metal spring to bind my wrists and ankles to the park bench and then stole my purse and cellphone while singing the original product jingle — “Slinky, Slinky, it’s fun for a girl and a boy.”

MAGIC 8-BALL

What do you do with a guy who cannot understand that you can only ask a Magic 8-Ball “yes or no” questions? This isn’t a difficult concept, seriously! Yet he kept asking it things like, “What will Stephanie be like in bed?” and “How many times will Stephanie climax?” and “Where’s the most unique place we’ll do it?” Finally, out of frustration I shouted, “No!  Don’t you get it? You can’t ask stuff like that. You have to ask something like, “Will Stephanie sleep with me even though I’m a complete idiot?” He was thrilled this suggestion came directly from me and made this exact inquiry three different times, claiming the answers in a row were, “It is decidedly so” and “Without a doubt!” and “You may rely on it” but then he’d shake the black ball up really quickly before I could verify any of that. Which was a moot point anyhow because “my sources (AND my senses!) said “No f*#@ing way.”

Barbie & Ken Dolls

Really I thought these toys would have zero chance of coming out of my purse, but to my surprise his reaction was, “Cool. How about we use them to act out different gender issues and dating challenges by utilizing their bodies and our voices.” Creative. I’m liking it! Then he actually suggests that he’ll be Barbie (It was really a Midge doll, but did he need to know that?) and use her to depict the type of woman he likes to be with. This oughta be interesting. And then he tells me to be Ken. Ha. Fat chance. But hey, if I can learn some telltale things, it’s probably worth talking in an embarrassingly deep voice.

Ken: Hey baby. How about you and I play a little Lite-Brite in the public bathroom??

Barbie: I don’t do sexual innuendo. Let’s grab a salad and see the live version of Les Miserábles.

(Salad, not pizza? And OMG that’s my absolute favorite show! Nobody ever wants to see that show. This guy has potential.) 

Ken: Are you sure? Okay hop in and we’ll take the “scenic” route. Heh heh.

Barbie: Sorry. I don’t let guys I’ve just met drive me places. I make it a rule to meet them there.

Ken: (slaps Barbie’s ass) Hard to get! That gets me hard.

Barbie (slaps Ken’s face)

Ken: Man, you’re a prudish bitch.

Barbie: Yeah. And quirky too. But I’m sure they’ll be another Bimbo err Barbie who will be into it with you. Good luck with your herpes.

Quirky? It’s like someone gave this guy the CliffNotes on me before he arrived. Immediately I snatch the dolls and stuff them away in my bag, and pull out this favorite childhood toy instead.

Because finally I found someone who’s a barrel of fun and perhaps a guy I’ll truly want to have a little monkey business with. 😉

Readers: What’s your favorite Childhood Toy? Leave it in the comments!

My Success Story: Author Goes Door-To-Door!

Well it’s not exactly as “successful” as my blog title makes it sound. For years I’ve walked 11 miles every day for health/fitness reasons, so when I saw the local ad (Wanted: Individual to hang notepads in plastic bags on doorknobs, $15/hr) I realized I could get paid for the same exercise I already do anyhow for free! The real-estate agent told me how quiet and peaceful it would be, walking through serene neighborhoods. He said I could listen to podcasts or music and never have to talk to anyone like typical door-to-door salesmen do. What could be better?

I’ve never had more conversations with so many strangers in my entire life.

With telephones, people have Caller ID and they know it’s you before they answer. Similarly, everyone has video cameras mounted on front porches and apparently they see me coming a mile away. Ever tentatively reach out to unobtrusively put something on someone’s front-door when suddenly it’s abruptly yanked open and they shout in your face, “Whadya want?”

Me: Hi! I have this handy little notepad for you.

Man: What am I gonna do with that?

Me: Well um, you could um make your grocery list on it.

Man: Not a shopper.

Me: Uh, ever play Boggle? You could scribble four and five letter words on it before the timer runs out.

Man: No.

Me: To-Do Lists?

Man: Hate em.

Me: To-Don’t lists??

Man: What do you do with your notepad?

Me: I’m a writer so I jot story ideas on it.

Man: And I should give a sh*t about that because…?

Me:  You’re right. You could just throw it in the garbage.

Man: (brightening) Yeah, I could do that! Give it here.

Three houses later I encounter a landscaper who delightedly asks how I like the paver stones he’s bordering the lawn with? I point out eight are slightly crooked. He frowns, grabs my notepad and scrawls, “OCD!” We develop a “don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship and I go on my merry way.

Around the block is a lonely mailman with a leg injury who needs someone to complain to that physical therapy isn’t helping him and then inquires if it would be okay to toss packages onto porches, thereby saving himself the pain of walking up steps? Sure. “The Postman Always Flings Twice!”

Tons of people have their garage doors open. I’ve never really noticed how many folks spend quality time out there, amongst their cars, their lawnmowers, and their bikes just sort of hanging out, puttering around. A couple engages in a sex act while leaning against bags of Round-Up and I think about leaving a notepad on their door titling it, “Garage Fantasies and Role-Plays We’ve Yet To Try” but wisely decide not to.

As I nonchalantly slink by these homes with their open garage doors (in order not to disturb the occupants and avoid further human interaction) nine times out of ten they call me over.

Woman: Hey! Whatcha got there? Why you passing my house? I want one.

Me: Oh just some silly notepads. You don’t really need any. Totally useless.

Woman: I’ll give you a dollar for two.

Me: They’re complimentary. They have advertising on them.

Woman: $30 for the entire stack. And how much for your backpack? I’m having a garage sale this Saturday. I could put that out as well.

Me: Really? Do you want my sweater too? Five bucks.

But it’s at the next house where all the trouble starts in front of a cute birdbath.

Husband: Which broker are you distributing for?

Me: Century 21.

Wife: We’re Nationwide Realtors. How much they paying you?

Me: $15 an hour. Under the table.

Wife: $22.50 an hour under the table and also under four dining room chairs!

Me: Really??!

Husband: Only if you retrace your steps and replace their crummy notepads with our awesome bookmarks.

I imagine re-encountering the grumpy guy, the limping mailman, the garage sale girl, the landscaper, the sex addicts, and I start to feel exhausted.

Me: Can I just put your bookmarks inside a novel I wrote and leave it as a package deal for $20?

Wife: Sure, why not?

Taking a cue from the mailman, I march back to my car (where the trunk holds boxes of my extra novels which are doing nothing) and proceed to throw my books from the driver’s window onto the front steps of hundreds of homes, yelling all the while, “Read this! It’s a best-seller. Oh yeah and check out the free bookmark!”

And that could be part of the reason I’m now referred to as the “Drive-By Shouter” but at least I don’t have to talk to anyone in person. And so much for getting paid to exercise.

What I Wouldn’t Give For a Rhyme

 

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It’s more challenging than playing Gin and waiting for your right card,

Finding a rhyme for poems is frustrating and just so very  …. difficult.

 

Sometimes I come incredibly close, both in syllables and in the sound,

But the words seem awkward or gross, and rhymes are never….discovered.

 

Other bloggers have a gift, they just immediately know how to rhyme.

Quick, fast and swift — perfect couplets every single …. duration.

 

They don’t have to Google or force ’em — they never struggle or strain.

Cheater’s dictionaries,  I don’t endorse ’em, so I just rack my …. mind.

 

Maybe I should write free-verse for adults, more sophisticated, I know,

Who needs matchy kiddy jingles? Just be loose and let the words … stream.

 

Here’s to non-rhyming grown-up topics like death, taxes and lovers’ scorn,

Maybe even controversial issues like politics, war, and stuff you find in porn.

 

Hey!  Did you see that?  Once I stopped trying, it suddenly occurred on its own,

I don’t mean to boast or brag, but it’s obvious dear reader, I’m finally in the zone.

 

Look out Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss — your competition is gonna be rough,

You could just make an excuse, cuz next to me you’re both just a cream … pastry.

 

Oh no, now it’s gone! But you can bet I’m not goin’ down without the good fight.

You might say I’m tenacious, stubborn, relentless. And you’d be exactly ….correct!

Leave a link to your favorite blogging poet in today’s comment section!

 

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! 🙂

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. 

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

Not Your Typical Mom & Pop Stores!

I recently watched a movie in one of those expensive theaters where a waitress comes and takes your order and then not only is there Surround Sound and Technicolor, but suddenly there’s “Scentaflick” as the sharp aroma of goat cheese mushroom pizza wafts throughout the cinema. But smells are so not the point. The point is that this was precisely when I realized what other innovative (and time saving!) businesses there could be if certain services and/or concepts were integrated together.

IMAGINE IF YOU WILL . . .

PediDine – Unique restaurant with delicious entrees served to patrons seated at booths with floor length tablecloths. And what’s happening down on the floor, obscured by all that fine linen? Lithe and limber spa employees crouch below giving relaxing foot massages and full-on pedicures, while podiatrists examine diners for signs of fallen arches or pronated ankles. Themed dishes are served with fitting names such as “Foot-long sandwiches” and “This Little Piggy Ate Roast Beef” while the house special is of course, “Polished PotaTOES with shiny, red clipped TomaTOES.

A Shrentist’s Office – This unique establishment will combine a competent shrink with a dentist office for all your one-stop therapy and cavity needs. Recline back in the chair as the hygienist tells you to open wide while a psychologist asks leading questions to crack wide open your dysfunctional childhood. Have a fluoride rinse and rinse away your bad memories simultaneously! When you hear, “C’mon, spit it out!” — will that mean the toothpaste in your mouth or your negative feelings about your mother-in-law? Only your Shrentist knows for sure!

Gyro-Gyno-Gym-o– A Triple Threat for the healthy, hungry, and fit woman! Eat this Mediterranean style lunch (combo of lamb and beef) while lying with your feet in the stirrups as a trained physician conducts your annual female exam. Afterwards, enjoy state-of the art equipment at the gym to help you with your kegel exercises so you can keep your visits to the above mentioned gynecologist to a minimum. Ghirardelli chocolate would complete the experience.

Drive & Strive To Look 25! – A DMV with a professional hairstylist and makeup artist on staff so you don’t have to look how you actually look in real life in the photo when your drivers license gets renewed for the next decade.

Backs & Tax – A chiropractor works on your aches and pains while a certified public accountant sits in the “back” room going over your financials! Come April 15th, the only extension you’ll need to worry about is the extension the back doctor showed you to lengthen and strengthen your spine!

Press N’ Dress – It’s Nordstrom with a functional dry-cleaners at the entrance. Bring your entire old wardrobe in for a complimentary wash and ironing — and since now you’ll have nothing to wear for the day, you’ll shop for more clothes! Talk about a win/win!

Y Not? – (Yoga, Yogurt, Yo-Yo, Yoko Ono!) It’s time for a trendy role reversal store! Forget hot yoga and Fro-Yo!  This Frozen Yoga studio (your mat is a sheet of ice) serves Hot Yogurt (And why not? You’ve heard that warm milk is relaxing, right??) Bonus – Every Sunday, Yoko leads a group meditation and each participant walks away with a free Yo-Yo favor because …well just because nothing else starts with a Y.

Push/Nip/Tuck/ — A maternity ward where as you give birth, a plastic surgeon stands by to give you a tummy tuck! Need I say more?

The CardioCake Factory – Full service Cheesecake Factory with servers bringing any item from the dessert menu into a workout room where stationary bikes, stairclimbers and ellipticals are programmed to burn the specific calories of whatever you ordered by the slice. Special pre-calculated treadmills (when you go overboard) set for, “I’m actually consuming an entire Cookies n’ Cream Dream Extreme!”

Wet Pet Vet Debt Bet Roulette! – Okay so the company name needs work, but animal lovers and gamblers unite! Walk in with your dog or cat and they’ll be immediately bathed and groomed, followed by a veterinarian giving them vaccines and thorough check-ups. Can’t afford any of this? Don’t fret or get upset because the waiting room is a legalized casino and odds are in your favor you’ll play slots to pay for shots!

Alright, so maybe that last one is a little far-fetched, but I’m still ordering the fillet of “Sole” at the PediDine restaurant!

READERS: WHAT BUSINESS IDEAS DO YOU HAVE THAT WILL BE A UNIQUE COMBINATION? PLEASE LEAVE IT IN THE COMMENTS.

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.

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

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

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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??