Under Cover


Forgive me, it’s been six months since my last post…

As for my excuse, I’ll use the same one I gave the congregation outreach volunteer from my church who called looking for me last week or as he phrased it, “We haven’t seen you in a while.  Do you need us?”

I retorted, “Don’t worry, I’m not trapped under anything heavy.  I’ve just been lazy.”

However, apparently they need me for more than filling the coffer because the next day I got an email from my church asking me for one of my kidneys.

Coincidence?

I tried my hand at writing a novel, however, the only opening line I could muster is, “The cul-de-sac was angry that day.”

I guess I need to become a depressive or a drunk to get the creative juices flowing.

On second thought, I think I’ll just get out more.

I’ve actually been spending my leisure time channeling my inner-Lois Lane by writing human interest stories for the local paper in my city.

At first, it was very exciting to see my byline in the weekly paper that is mailed free of charge to the 180,000 residents in my community.  It’s a writer’s favorite audience – one that’s captive and getting some free stuff.

I love writing about the people in my community.  There’s only one problem.

It’s the same problem that keeps me from visiting all the cute little puppies at the Humane Society.

I want to adopt them all.

I get emotionally attached to all my subjects and I approach every article with an enormous amount of time and detail like it’s my big break writing for Vanity Fair.

It’s not quite the cover of Rolling Stone, however, my article on the 50th Anniversary of the high school radio station landed on the cover of the newspaper.  It was exhilarating – I felt like William Miller from Almost Famous documenting the rise and fall of radio.

I previewed the symphony like a classically schooled arts editor.  Little did the readers know my iPod is filled with Sponge Bob theme songs and One Direction.

Perhaps the most nerve-wracking was interviewing celebrities like comedians Caroline Rhea, Jon Dore and Tommy Davidson.  Or the most embarrassing, trying to score an interview with one of the hosts of NPR’s Morning Edition and making the mistake of writing a gushing fan letter rather than a pointed, pithy Q & A.

My latest editorial adoption came in the form of an energetic motivational marathon runner who talked me into joining her women’s marathon training group as the only walker out of a sea of runners.

Let’s just say the only way I’ll be crossing the marathon finish line is in a Cushman.

The runners were all actually very nice and supportive of the lone walker.

During practice runs, it took all of five minutes for the pack of runners to speed ahead of me out of sight leaving the wild flowers and crickets as my companions on the path.

Sure the spotters would stay in their positions until I passed, always with a supportive clap and message of support like, “there’s our shiny caboose!” and “hey, at least you’re out here.”

It’s really a blessing that my knee blew out after the last practice run.  And, as the photo finish shows, running is apparently not my only weakness, I can’t pick out a sports bra to save my life.

I’ve been in hiding ever since.

So, as it turns out…while I may not need help from my congregation, I certainly do need my blog.

Listen to Me…Listen to Your Mother Indianapolis


ILTYMGiving Motherhood a Microphone.

That’s the tagline behind a nationwide series of shows called, “Listen to Your Mother” that is playing in 32 cities across the country over the next two weeks in celebration of Mother’s Day.

I have the honor of being a member of the 2014 cast of the show in Indianapolis on Sunday April 27 at the Indiana Historical Society.

Much to my own mother’s dismay, I will not be singing and dancing like Doris Day because it’s a spoken word show.

Kind of a pour out your soul, essay/poetry slam of ordinary mothers and daughters of all ages, shapes and sizes reading their own stories.

Stories that define them.

The stories will make you laugh, think, cringe, wonder and cry – not just dab a tear cry – roll in the aisles cry.

Why come?

Because, these women are amazing and you will find joy in every single one of their stories.

Because, if you put your problems out on a table, you’d probably gladly take them back after hearing some of these stories.

Because, you never know what someone else is going through until you’ve walked in her shoes, or in this case, listened to her story.

Because, she needs you to listen to her story.

Because, she needs to heal.

Because, you need to know how to help whether it’s babysitting, cooking a meal or just giving her a hug.

Because, you need to laugh and they need to laugh.

We all need to laugh, even during the toughest times of mothering and being mothered.

Mother’s carry a heavy load.

And, we need to persevere because even more than our own brood, the world needs us.

Listen to me.

Listen to Your Mother.

 

 

The Power of Humor


crowdI have a confession to make.  I lost my funny.

Losing my funny has much more significance than losing a shoe, losing a championship game or even losing one’s virginity.

It was a gradual thing.

Never-ending stories of bad things happening to good people can muffle the soul.

Add career changes, a non-ending Polar Vortex and life goes on autopilot.

Go to Work.  Go to the grocery store.  Cook dinner.  Work some more.  Go to bed. Do it all again the next day.

Where was the funny?

Sure, there was always a chortle here, a chuckle there all dwarfed in much too much seriousness.

Until I attended the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop with one of my best friends, and writing buddies, Anne.

Anne is the silver-lining girl who blogs at Funnysister about her mother’s dementia and other slice of life stories.  She also happens to be one of my roommates from college.

We had dinner the night before we left for the conference with another dear friend, Jeanette, who is one of the funniest people on the planet and has the most infectious laugh of anyone I know.

It’s amazing how just being in the company of people who have known you since you were 18 years-old – who haven’t likely been exposed to the best of you due to geography and time, but have certainly seen the worst of you prior to maturity and motherhood – can reinvigorate the funny just by being in their presence.

Forgetting to pack your underwear for the conference can also reinvigorate the funny.  There’s nothing more invigorating than triggering the shoplifting alarm at Kohl’s when the sales clerk forgets to take the sensor off of your giant granny panties you’ve just purchased.  The ten people standing in line waiting to redeem their Kohl’s cash got a little extra bonus indeed.

It’s such a treat to be among the Bombeck family, on the beautiful campus of the University of Dayton honing the craft of writing under the tutelage of the humor industry’s finest authorities and experts.  It’s a throwback to another time when every newspaper across the country carried Erma’s humor column At Wit’s End and we all started the day with the same laugh.  Eating cake was still cool, which we get to do plenty of at the conference meals.

philWe even got to meet television icon Phil Donahue, who was the keynote speaker.  The man who made his living taking questions from an audience full of women for decades, still has the patience of a saint as a roomful of 350 women lined up for photos after the perfect tribute to his former neighbor and good friend, Erma.

While the workshop was fantastic and it was completely energizing to see all my writing friends, the best part of the trip was a visit to see Anne’s mom Lois.

Anne wrote about her mom inviting herself to the conference in her post The Gift of the Moment.

Anne also prepared me that the visit may be a little depressing.

What I was not prepared for, was Anne’s mother’s incredible sense of humor.  While her dementia inhibits her ability to communicate and remember, she was still cracking jokes at warp speed, even complaining about a fellow resident who didn’t laugh at any of her jokes that morning.

That’s the power of humor.

So thanks to Erma, Lois, Jeanette and Anne, I rediscovered my funny.

And thanks to my daughter who thinks I should have performed a stand-up comedy routine during the open-mic session at the conference because in her words, “You would have won for sure.”

 

 

 

 

Seriously, Leave Barbie Alone


Barbie explores Mars and she's not afraid of helmet head.

Barbie explores Mars and she’s not afraid of helmet head.

Lean In…come closer…closer…Pssst…Leave Barbie alone.

Seriously.

It seems as though lately everyone is out to get this American toy treasure charging her with diminishing young girls self esteem in the form of a proposal to ban Girl Scout Barbie badges to creating a doll the more accurately mimics a female figure. It is absolutely ridiculous to blame an eleven inch plastic doll as being the root cause of poor self body image among girls.

Barbie is fun.

It is fun to pick out a different colorful, hip outfit – accessorized to the hilt – complete with a matching belt, fashionable plastic jewelry, a cute little purse.  Not to mention the honing of fine motor skills for little fingers gained from trying to cram Barbie’s petite feet into those teeny-tiny plastic pumps.

When the quintessential child clothing company Carter comes out with a marble-blue vinyl knee-length overcoat lined with blue faux fur and matching stiletto boots to emulate Barbie clothes, then there may be cause for concern.

Wonder woman Barbie

Wonder Woman enjoying a delicious Barbie prepared meal of roast Turkey leg and pasta. The girl needs her carbs – she’s saving the world.

Barbie has healthy eating habits.  She doesn’t stand in her Dream House kitchen pantry eating potato chips by the handful out of the bag.

She drinks orange juice, milk and serves healthy entrees like roasted turkey to guests – cool guests, like the Collector’s Edition Wonder Woman Barbie.

Ken has never worn a suit or carried a brief case.  He probably has his Speedo in his shoulder bag.

Ken has never worn a suit or carried a brief case. He probably has his Speedo in his shoulder bag.

Barbie is a career woman.  She’s been an Astronaut, Teacher, Doctor, Veterinarian, Dentist, Babysitter, Surfer and Chef to name a few of her occupations.  Yes, she is gainfully employed.

She not only wants to work, she really has no choice with a boyfriend like Ken.  The only suit the man has ever worn is his bathing suit.  Though, Barbie’s loveable surfer dude does get props for always bringing flowers.

So what if she has big boobs and a tiny waist?  It’s fun!

Lammily, shammily.  Have you ever heard of Skipper?  The less voluptuous, not so flashy dresser, younger sister of Barbie?  She didn’t sell so well, though successful crowdfunding will surely send this little Lam to the factory production line.

Barbie's new competition, Lammily.

Barbie’s new competition, Lammily.

We’ll see how long it takes Lam to hit the Bonnie Bell counter for a lip smacker or Justice for some mustache earrings.

It is doubtful that Barbie is having an influence on the trend in provocative teen selfies flooding the pages on Instagram.  Barbie has long been packed up and put into the attic by those teen years.

Let’s stop blaming Barbie.

Battle of the Sexes – The Quest for the Perfect Gingerbread Man


gingerbreadThe allure of the Gingerbread Man…this adorable, rich guy is sweet, yet spicy and always has a smile on his face.

Every Christmas, I channel my inner Martha Stewart in the quest of creating the absolutely perfect Gingerbread Man.

Only, every year I fail miserably and instead channel my inner Mary Shelley in the creation of a hideous cookie monster made of sugar and spice that is systematically trying to kill me.

I’m not really sure what makes operation Gingerbread Man fail.

The no-fail ingredients of sugar, molasses, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, butter, flour, eggs and just a hint of sea salt blend together beautifully to make the most delicious tasting dough.

At this point I have my Gingerbread Man where I want him.

A mere putty in my hands.

That is…until the dough starts to turn on me.

Despite leaving the dough in the refrigerator for an hour followed by three rounds of carefully rolling the ultra-sticky dough between sheets of plastic wrap then freezing the dough for 15 minute intervals, it never completely hardens.

Ultimately, I end up throwing half of the dough in the garbage.

Maybe I’m not patient enough to wait for the dough to harden completely, or maybe it’s just shrinkage from the freezer.

I ask you, is one man worth all this work?

I’m not even that big of a gingerbread fan, yet I am compelled to win the battle of the sexes.

Maybe it’s determination gained from growing up during the women’s rights movement in the 1970’s.

If tennis professional Billie Jean King could defeat Bobby Riggs on national television, surely I can conquer a four inch spice cookie in my own kitchen.

gingerbread perfectWhy are women always attracted to men who play hard to get?

Gingerbread men are no exception.

As God is my witness, I will never attempt to bake Gingerbread Men again.

Though we all know, all it will take is for that spicy little man to flash his perfect royal icing smile and I’ll throw on my sexiest apron and have my heart stomped again.

Then I’ll bite his head off and drown my sorrows in a tall glass of milk.

A McPlea for the McFun Muffler


carrots

The McFun Muffler painted carrots on the wall of my McDonald’s.

There’s a McJackass on the loose and they are taking all the McFun out of McDonald’s.

The McDonald’s in my town was just rebuilt from the ground up.

A well-deserved rebuild, considering this fast food joint earned social mecca status in 1978.

Somehow ordering a diet soda cancelled out the calories of the large order of french fries consumed on a Friday night while cruising around the parking lot in high school.

Those were the good old days.

Who hasn’t ordered a Big Mac after a night at the bars?

And, the luxury of scarfing down that “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” mouthful of goodness in the privacy of one’s own vehicle can’t be beat.

To McDonald’s credit, prices really haven’t changed all that much over the years and the quality of the food has stayed the same.

Where else can you buy supper for under 5 dollars?

And the golden, salty goodness of the french fries?

McDonald’s has the cheapest soft-serve ice cream cone in town.

Sometimes everybody just needs a little McDonald’s.

So when I walked into the shiny, new Golden Arches, I was surprised and quite frankly, disappointed to see murals of vegetables all over the walls.

Really?

10 foot tall carrots gracing the walls of a fast food joint?

The only carrot-top I want to see is Ronald himself.

Who is the McFun Muffler and who are they kidding?

I don’t want drawings of carrots on the walls of McDonald’s.

I want to see a huge Big Mac, in all of it’s artery-hardening decadence.

I want to feel good about just ordering my dollar iced coffee and cheeseburger off the value menu.

If I’m especially cranky or hormonal, I want my salty fries, damn it and I don’t want to be judged for it.

If I wanted to eat a salad, I’d fix one a home.

McDonald’s knows we need a break from cooking.

big macHey McFun Muffler, where is the caramel sauce for the apple dippers?

A very McDipsh*t move.

And the very idea of banning Happy Meals is insane.

Did anyone ever stop to consider maybe it’s the parents who want the toys?

I could not beat it to McDonald’s fast enough to grab the collection of Little Mermaid accessories when I was my daughter was going through her princess phase.

I’m thinking about going through the 24 hour drive-thru at this very moment just to get the Batman collection!

You see, McFun Muffler, no one really wants to grow up.

We need our McDonald’s without guilt.

We need a break, today.

Please consider this McPlea for help.

Signed, a McFan.

Blogger Idol – You Sucked Me In


bug eating photo four

The 52/52 Project creator, Sherry Stanfa-Stanley washing down a few bugs while living outside of her comfort zone.

I swore off blogger contests months ago.  The pinnacle of my shame was when I nominated myself for a Circle of Moms most humorous blogger award.  I could only muster up one shameless self-promotional Facebook status update begging my friends to vote me up the ladder to the status of top mommy jester.  Who the hell was I kidding?  Insert a bar from Carly Simon’s hit, “You’re So Vain.”

And then, it happened.  Blogger Idol.  Sponsored by Little Birdie Social Media, Blogger Idol is an online blogging contest based on the premise of the television show, “American Idol”, where blogging hacks like me compete against each other for prizes and stuff.  I follow last year’s winner Martini’s and Minivans on Facebook.  She would be the Carrie Underwood of Blogger Idol.  “Come on, it’s not too late.”  “I never thought I’d win.”  “Be in the Top 12.”  I was sucked in – again.

According to Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, it’s O.K. to do things out of your comfort zone.  She’s the brilliant mind behind the 52/52 Project.  Sherry is knocking off a list of 52 activities completely out of her comfort zone.  Stuff like getting caught up in a drug bust with the local SWAT team, taking voice lessons, trying out for the reality television show “Survivor”, going camping with the likes of Ted Bundy in the adjacent tent and eating chocolate-covered bugs!  So folks, I guess putting myself out there for a blogging contest isn’t all that bad.  Why not?

Quite frankly, I love to blog.  I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’ve been writing articles for my local newspaper.  I always thought the pinnacle of writing was getting a byline.  Lois Lane, Pulitzer-prize winning stuff.  However, a byline can’t replace the empowerment of blogging – the thrill of freestyle story telling and interacting with the world just by pressing the “Publish” button is just pure bliss.

So, go like Blogger Idol on Facebook and tell them you’d like to see The Laughing Mom make an ass out of herself – again.  It promises to be very entertaining.