Tag Archives: writing

Shut Up, I’m Trying to Dream Over Here!

Bed_of_roses_Milan34863I remember the sound of the movie, the soundtrack, playing like a hopeless romantic lullaby to young 6-year-old ears. This was my introduction into the world of entertainment and hollywood. It was the movie Bed of Roses. OKAY, I realize that at six years old, you probably shouldn’t be watching an idyllic romance about a lonely woman who finds herself with the help of a mysterious florist who delivers her flowers after peering into her window and watching her cry. (Christian Slater at his best.) But to me, the movie was enchanting, mostly because Mary Stuart Masterson had my haircut and there was an actress named Aly. By age seven, I had grand ambitions of being Mary Stuart Masterson, starring in my own movie, and producing and recording the soundtrack.

I wanted to be an actor, a singer, a purveyor of twisted plot lines and quick witted retorts. I wanted to make everyone laugh but not in the way everyone laughed when my brother shoved cake in my face at my fifth birthday party. I wanted to be in all of the televisions!

I had an explosive imagination — I believed I could fly up until about age seven because I would climb my picnic table in the backyard and think really hard as I flapped my arms like bony little girl wings, fooling myself into believing I got a little higher each time. So becoming the female lead in a major motion picture didn’t seem too farfetched — I was already a little obsessed with myself and had already proudly garnered the nickname Ms. Photogenic. The amount of times my mother would explain to me, after I came home crying because the popular girls wouldn’t let in their beanie baby club, “Oh! They’re just jealous of you because you’re so special and beautiful and talented!” may have had something to do with my attitude.

I also had no problem rationalizing my dreams — it is what I wanted to do therefore it would happen (American attitude, much?). Oddly enough, I still have this outlook — If you can’t believe in yourself how do you expect your seventh grade Creative Writing teacher to choose your story for the famed wall of story-telling?

So, I did a lot of things to reach my dreams. Mainly I begged my parents to let me take lots of lessons — I had just learned the word novice from watching Family Feud and it did NOT seem like something I wanted to be. Guitar lessons, or the worst idea for a young girl with bony, child fingers were first and I quit after it hurt my fingers too much to play with my polly pockets. All the while I wrote plays in my journal where I was the star and my older brother’s cute best friend was the male lead. I had my priorities straight at a young age.

After guitar lessons, however, my parents were a little less inclined to drop serious cash to suit the whims of their seven-year-old soon-to-be starlet. Singing lessons were off the table so I’d have to settle for wearing glittery, blue, borderline Show Girl costumes at dance competitions like I was trying out for Toddlers and Tiaras. However, I did get some encouragement from Kaitlin, the overweight girl from down the street I played with before I became a social-standing-obsessed preteen (I’m sorry, Kaitlin). I was singing Mariah Carey’s “Always be My Baby” when Kaitlin looked at me and asked if I took lessons.

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How to make your child have self-esteem issues volume one.

“No,” I said, my head inflating with every breath, “you know, I just think raw talent works itself out.” I was an awful ten-year-old egotist with larger than life dreams and a My-Size Barbie to offer emotional support.

Acting didn’t come till middle school (which is also where it ended) when I joined the improv club after school because Mr. G was the hip new teacher and my parents still didn’t take my hollywood hankerings seriously. I pretty much sparked a riot of hilarity with my impression of a person doing the backstroke! It was GOLDEN.

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Hit role in elementary school play, “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise”

Obviously the next step was to try out for the school musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown with a rendition of Britney Spears’ “Hit me Baby One More Time.” I remember staring into the trash can my entire performance and thinking to myself, I bet Mary Stuart Masterson didn’t have to go through this shit. Britney let me down that day, like she would in a year’s time when my mom, brother, and I went to meet her at Copley Square only to find out she cancelled the performance due to post-Rosie O’Donnell lip-syncing rumors. Apparently, I wasn’t meant to be the next Kristen Chenoweth either.

Chasing boys on the playground, becoming “Aly Dicky” at my new school and the burgeoning prevalence of kids in after school sports overtook my performance pretensions for a while. My writing never stopped, however, and I took every opportunity available to make people laugh — I still can’t believe LaToya beat me out for “Best sense of humor” in high school (she was just louder not funnier).

Although I no longer want to be the next Mary Stuart Masterson — let’s face it, she went way downhill after Fried Green Tomatoes anyway — I still dream of being the woman in the television inspiring a young, quixotic, Tweety bird-obsessed girl (probably more like One Direction obsessed these days) to follow her larger than life dreams no matter how tone deaf she is, no matter how often no one laughs at her jokes, no matter how many times she gets beat out for class clown and no matter how stupid she feels during after school improv class.

Dreams are there for a reason, you idiots, now go do something about it.

Daily Post Memory Challenge

Where I Thank You All and Give You a Recipe for Delicious Cookies

There’s an old proverb I just made up that says “all good things happen to those who force themselves to leave their apartment to complete the tasks they’ve been putting off for weeks.” It may seem a bit specific, but I have some pretty scientifically conclusive anecdotal evidence that proves my point.

A few months ago is when I knew Kelly Oxford was meant to be my writing mentor and ultimate life-spiration. I finished her book Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar in about 30 seconds and I appreciated her honesty. I’m also not embarrassed to say I only started twitter this year. I’m sorry that I was busy living — and yes, by living I mean watching The Office re-reruns in my carpeted apartment with the shades drawn, sometimes crying into the bowl of popcorn littered with delicious raisenettes. But when I figured out you could like, directly talk to celebs via bird noises tweeting, I was as intrigued as any pop culture obsessed ex- Nysnc fan (Screw Backstreet Boys!) would be. But I’m also an educated person, so I follow classy chicks like Joyce Carol Oates and Representative Wendy Davis because, you know, I care about what’s going on in the world. It’s called being cultured.

I was super weary to tweet to celebs though, mostly because it’d take me too long to draft a perfect 140 character message that hints at my subtle yet brash humor without sounding wholly desperate and fanatic. (Love me, everyone!) But one night when I finally agreed to babysit the two boys — we’ll call them energetic –that force me into a Dark Vadar mask every time I’m over, a miracle of fandom happened. I was walking out of what felt like was the modern re-make of the classic Full House estate when I started thinking about how awesome the Olsen Twins had it back then — one uncle plays with the Beach Boys and the other has a cool radio show where he personifies a beaver; My uncle still tickles me inappropriately and threatens to throw me in my family pool whenever he sees me.

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This conversation was actually severely awkward for me, yet it still makes my top five life moments.

But it was in the middle of this embarrassingly mundane thought, when I heard the noise that means someone on twitter hasn’t ignored you.  Of course, thinking it’s the same spam robot that keeps favoriting old tweets about Community, I continue to find my way out of the labyrinth that is every rich person’s neighborhood in Texas, glancing down to check directions, and seeing a big old Kelly Oxford shaped tweet on my phone’s now beautiful screen. So, that happened.

Then, yesterday, I finally decided it was okay to bring my engagement ring in to get resized and oh yeah, I’ll make sure that “check oil” light on my dashboard doesn’t mean anything important. I don’t know why, but the highways in Austin this week have been scarier than the first time my brother held me down and made me watch the original Chucky Trailer when I was six. Of course,  I have to go see Al Bundy in North Not-Austin-Anymore-Ville to get the “wholesale discount” from Anita the antique jeweler’s guy, which is forty minutes away, or forty minutes longer than I want to be driving.

freshly-pressed-circleBut then… Brrrrrrrrrng! The best sound in an unemployed, self-obsessed writer’s life: A wordpress notification. And then another. And then another. Another. Another. Never before did I believe and want so badly for Transformers to be real so I could shape shift my way to the nearest guy station and figure out why the shit I was blowing up so hard (Because, yeah, I don’t text/use my phone and drive like an idiot teenager practicing for a roll in a tragic car accident ad.) Eventually I got to a gas station where I could read my email and allow my head to fully inflate upon reading the words “Freshly Pressed.” Man, I should’ve started doing errands sooner.

So yeah, shit goes down when you’re busy being completely ordinary, stuck in traffic, wishing you charged your phone more so you could plug it in and play that song Matti is sick of hearing on repeat. And yeah, when my book deal goes through I’ll be sure to thank you all for my humble beginnings.

Seriously, I want to hold all your faces in my hand and kiss both your cheeks like Heidi Klum in Project Runway except none of you will be eliminated. Then I want you all to sit with me on my pull out couch and watch Gilmore Girls reruns and talk about how Lauren Graham was famous before Parenthood. We can eat homemade vegan cookies I made for you all because I’m bad at being vocally appreciative and thankful — something about it not looking “cool.” Seriously, here’s the recipe for said cookies, because you deserve it! (Thank you all and don’t ever leave me!)

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe modified from afa-online.org)

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1 cup) vegan margarine, softened

1 ½ cups flourcookies

1 ½ cups light brown sugar

1 ½ cup quick oats

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 egg substitutes (1 T ground flax seed + 3 T water for one egg)

8-oz vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, including flax Seed. Add the margarine and the water from the “eggs” and mix with a hand blender (I use a fork and a can-do attitude!). Add vanilla and mix again. Dough should hold shape in ball: If too dry,
add a teaspoon of water; if too wet, add ¼ cup flour or oats. Add chocolate chips and fold in by hand or with a mixer. Using a spoon, form balls of dough and place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Do insanely good things happen to you when you’re busy being average? Where’s the weirdest place you received great news? Did you wish you were somewhere else?

What’s in My Purse: Part 1

What does your stuff say about you? Well, I don’t know what type of stuff you have. But if you’re like me at all, you have a purse and it is filled with crap. I’m known for this, for having a purse filled with crap. If Matti wants to borrow my Ray Bans and he knows they are in my purse, he does not borrow my Ray Bans.

"I see what you mean about your purse" -You and everyone, right now.

“I see what you mean about your purse” -You and everyone, right now.

Whenever I go through security lines, the security guards, as they pick up my purse, are like “geeeesh, what do you have in here?”

And I’m all like “well, you’re about to see on that x-ray machine and also, aren’t you supposed to be strong?”

I just like the feeling of knowing I have something incase I need it (because it’s super important to carry a sole Crest Whitestrip with you in case one row of teeth really needs the clean). Don’t tell me you don’t have a junk drawer. Or a stuffed box of notes a friend you don’t speak to anymore wrote you in high school. Maybe one of those fake, plastic lockers filled with Playboys? Anything? It’s not hoarding if you can remember where you got the item, right? Or is that how you know it’s starting? Well, this is the beginning of a lovely series I have creatively titled, “What’s in my purse?” where I will answer one of life’s most well-kept mysteries: what the fuck does she keep in that thing?

Either way, before I begin to tell you about what is in my purse, I’d first like to ask you to please judge me for all of the things that are in my purse.

  • Whale toothbrush holder: this says I’m a supportive person because I’m always ready to hold close what’s important to me (and also that I’m really good at unpacking in a timely fashion). Are whales fish or mammals? Definitely, mammals. Right?

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  • Owl Date Stamp: This says that I’m whimsical and fun. Whimsical people always have owl trinkets, that’s just a known fact. Also, if you ever need something  to be dated, well I don’t have an ink pad in my purse so you’re out of luck.
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    This was 8 dollars at Whole Earth Provisions. I have never used it.

  • Postmaster Junior Sticker Roll: I’m the first person who is going to get a kid to stop crying at a grocery store. Who could cry while wearing a Junior Postmaster sticker? Come on. How cool did you think mail people were growing up?

    I may even give you one without a coffee stain on it...

    I may even give you one without a coffee stain on it…

  • Two bent Laffy Taffys: I bought Laffy Taffy for a little girl I worked with on her birthday. Upon further thinking, I realized giving three extra long pieces of hard, chewy candy to a five year old wouldn’t be the best idea. On a different note, I have some extra Laffy Taffy if anyone wants some.

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    Rock hard candy, no one?

  • A travel-sized flashlight: This should just tell you I’m prepared. Comes in handy when you can’t find your dogs’ poop in the dark.
  • A Baggy full of Bunion support gear: Only really attractive people have bunions. I like to break out this gear when I really wanna let someone know I’m serious about living. Living it up, bunion style. Actually, these things all look vaguely like sex toys, the beige numbers look and feel like toe bikinis.

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    Play your cards right and I may post a picture of my feet in these babies sometime.

  • A froggy thermometer: 90 percent of the time I think I have a fever. 89 percent of the time I don’t have a fever. I also like frogs.

    "I don't like to take myself too seriously."

    “I don’t like to take myself too seriously.”

  • Coolest pin ever: This pin fell off the kickass purse Matti’s Stepmom made for me a while back. The purse is made out of jeans and Matti’s ties for the handles. It’s actually the coolest bag I own. This pin is to remind everyone that I appreciate inspirational text but only in a hip, vintage way (so everyone knows I’m trendy and unique).

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  • A Ninja Star: The quickest way to be the coolest person in any room is to have a ninja star on you. Just don’t ask me how I made it. Seriously, I completely forget. OKAY FINE — a seven-year-old boy made it for me.

ninjastar

If I were to judge myself based on these things I would probably say I need more attention and I need to relax. Also, maybe, get your shit together and get some adult items. Mostly, however, I’d be like, dayuummm girrl you know how to have a good time and then I’d reply to myself, you really need to get out of the house more.

What weirdo stuff do you have in your purse/wallet/coffee table/kitchen junk drawer/shoebox in the closet and can I see pictures of it all?

This post was written in response to the DP Challenge

The Evolution of Making a Point

Do you ever just not have a point? And you’re all like, I can’t write, there’s no point. Sometimes we just need to arrive there really slowly, like my grandmother making her way to the top of an escalator. But you not writing isn’t gonna help anyone, idiot. Okay fine, I’ll prove it. Let’s just start somewhere.

The last couple of days I’ve been focused on the Texas abortion bill, uniquely named House Bill 2 or Senate Bill 5. That doesn’t sound very funny, you say, to which I’d reply, you’re kind of right. Except that you’re wrong and funny is everywhere. Even in really scummy times, like watching a bill pass that affects mostly women get passed by mostly men, there is comedy. Some funny things that happened:

  • The gray-haired tourist, complete with fanny pack taking pictures of the portrait of George W. Bush. She looked as if she half expected him to pop out of the picture, which I could totally see W doing on some sort of presidential Punk’d remake. There needs to be a presidential Punk’d.
  • The gavel debacle. Inside the house chambers at the Capitol, you were expected to follow proper decorum. This is really hard to do when a lady takes over the Chairman’s seat to call time by banging the gavel, and as her delicate little wrist pounds the wooden hammer the head of the thing comes flying off into the political arena where Representative Sylvester Turner D-Houston is breaking democracy down for the people. The chambers are in an  uproar of unplanned comedy as the girl next to me is all like, “Did you get that? Oh. my. God. Tweet that now!”
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    “See! I told you this job would be fun!” -THAT guy

  • Thinking intently about gavels. The best part about this was that they had an extra gavel like right underneath the desk which made me wonder how many gavels they have and wear do you buy gavels. Is there a gavel store? A law-maker’s store? Are they customized Texas gavels, bigger than all the other states? These are the things I wonder about.

    DSC_2870

    Original and replacement gavel.

  • Politicians making jokes. Rep. Turner understood the humor in the moment and decided to make a joke, “Oh no!” he said, “I’ve been so traumatized so badly we need to recess for two weeks and I may just need an ambulatory emergency center!” Granted, law makers aren’t the best joke makers, but he had a point by calling out the absurdity of the bill up for debate. (The bill requires all clinics that provide abortions to convert into ambulatory medical centers in one year which will force all but five clinics to shut down).
  • Watching this guy doodle. I spent some of the time trying to figure out what each Representative was doing at his desk. This guy was drawing, while others were online gambling and buying plane tickets. Good times.

    DSC_2844

    “5 ways to stay busy during an intense floor debate”

  • The 16-year-old boy handing out fake Planned Parenthood pamphlets with false information — hilarious. Seriously, this boy was so gay he may have been sweating pink (I hope it all works out for him).

A point: We often have to laugh at ourselves, with each other and at each other so we don’t end up killing each other. The House abortion bill passed just like no one thought it wouldn’t. I’d rather laugh than cry most times, and either way you’re getting it out, right? So there’s my point, now go write something.

What do you do when you can’t write? Do you also think we should have a show called Presidentially Punk’d?

Written with the DP Challenge in mind.

The Real Reason I’m Here: A Man Who Continues to Inspire

Rick

I’ve been putting this off for a while but I think it’s time to get personal. Right now you’re totally rocking an exaggerated Tina Fey eye roll (a rather impressive one I might say) in anticipation of a sob story, but I promise this will be painless.

About 90 days again is when my fiancé, (NO I don’t have a ring yet and stop bugging me about it), Matti’s dad died. I had never known loss in such an emotional, epic capacity before his passing. Even as I write this now I can see his face, can see him sitting in his fold-out chair on the porch smoking a stogie, being brilliant.

It has taken me a while to begin to write about him because of fear that I won’t do him justice. That I cannot write elegantly enough to portray the work of art that was his life (as if this would be possible for anyone to do). But I know now that this is just one of many posts that will have his words, his legacy, his personality, his humor, and everything else he left with us.

I wish I could say that when we found out he died I had that moment, you know, when you say to yourself, “This is it.” When you stop being a lazy college grad and get to doing all that stuff that you set out to do six years ago when you were barely an adult and definitely not the person you are today. Unfortunately, that all-encompassing moment never came. Instead, it happened in slow strides over time, very slow, indeed. It came in moments where I thought: How is this possible? How do I get to where I’m going? Can I get there faster? And, are there going to be any toll roads?

And Rick would tell me to just sit down and start writing for fuck’s sake.

Let me tell you a little of what I know of Rick. Rick Hautala was a writer, a bestselling author, a horror writing, stogie smoking, liberal, but more than anything he was an amazing father. I know this because I have a father myself. When I met this man over four years ago he got on me for not writing when Matti and I stayed with him over winter break. At that point, he already cared.

rick2

“You’re young! I’ve already written 20 pages today!” He said, sitting in his “cone of silence”–his space on the couch with a tiny light above him that literally made a cone of light–he often looked like he’d be beamed up by some literary god as thousands of books lined the living room walls. I like to think of that happening now.

Rick was everything. He was hilarious. He was seriously smart. He was a smart ass.

One of the best memories I have of him is sitting on the couch watching George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television” and thinking to myself, well he’s saying them on T.V now isn’t he? I’m annoying like that. But Rick just laughed because that’s what he did and it was infectious and impossible to ignore. And also how jealous are you that I could see with my future father-in-law and watch that special without it being awkward? Yeah, that’s how cool being around Rick was.

Rick was prolific. The amount of books he wrote and published still astounds me. But it wasn’t about being rich and famous (though he definitely wouldn’t have minded the rich part and at one point, he definitely made it big). Writing was his passion. Not giving up on this blog is for Rick. I started it because I knew I had to build a platform for my writing but I put my heart into it, let my honest voice come through and put myself out there because of Rick. I was always so intimidated to let him read my writing because I was afraid he wouldn’t think I was good enough. I could  and someday will punch myself in the face for that.

Matti and I were sitting on the couch the other day and he turned to me like he does in those hard moments when it all comes flooding back, when it’s impossible to imagine Rick not living in this world.

He said, “I wish he could see your blog and all the writing you’ve been doing,” and we both teared up because the hardest part is the journey ahead. I wish I could thank him now.

After every trip with Matti to see Rick, walking towards the door to leave, I’d turn around to say, “Thanks for having me,”

As if on auto pilot, the most comforting exchange I’d ever known from a father figure, Rick would say, “Thanks for being had,” assuring me I was loved and appreciated and that humor was such a gift to be thankful for. And also to say, being a smart ass was funny and absolutely expected.

So I’m going to keep my humor and use it. I want him to continue to live on in my posts. It feels like one way I can honor him and finally take the advice he used to give me. (And also if I keep writing about him now I’m going to do some serious water damage to my keyboard and that shit was just replaced.)

Rick’s work still lives on, click here to see what is coming out and also to see how much of a badass he was. Man he is so missed.