Pronouncing Enzo Published

YES! So the first thing I thought when I saw my book for sale on Amazon was, ‘Awesome!‘ The second thing I thought, heart pounding in terror, was, ‘What have I done??

I’ve never felt so exposed. All those words I put into sequence to make sentences. The swear words I tell my kids not to use! And yes – the sex scenes! All out there for anyone to read and judge. I feel like I’m naked in front of a big, big crowd.

I admit that I am worried what people will think of me based on the story I’ve put down on paper. It’s true that I’m proud of Pronouncing Enzo, and think it’s a fun read. I’ve also had moments of self-doubt since I pushed that ‘publish’ button that have kept me from sleeping at night, concerned I will have to move and put the kids into new schools because people who know me will think I’m a whacko looney for putting words down on paper that most people just don’t say in public.

Don’t get me wrong…Pronouncing Enzo isn’t pornographic or anything. It’s just candid in places. It’s not about me or any specific experience I’ve had. It is a work of fiction. I have tried to make the voices as honest and authentic as I think will be appealing and understandable to most people. And many, many people will think Pronouncing Enzo is totally tame compared to what’s out there now. I mean, there truly are some things we just don’t need to see in print.

But that doesn’t ease my feeling of vulnerability. I am a private person. I am honest and I’m kind and I’m bringing up my children to value those traits. I also want them never to feel they have to apologize for who they are or the things they create in good faith.

So I take responsibility for what I’ve put out there. I have to say, ‘Yes, I wrote that, and I stand by it even though one fictional story doesn’t define who I am or what I believe in.’

If you decide to read my book, and I hope you do, please know that I honestly care what you think. I want you to like it, to have a good time with the characters I created. I think it’s a fun story and I had a blast writing it. And at the end of the story, if you don’t care for it, if you choose to judge me or don’t like the characters I created: thank you for reading and I’m okay with that.

For those of you who do like it, thank you and bless you, and please leave me a review…

 

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Whoodle Gone Wild

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So I let the kids dress up the Whoodle for Halloween.

Okay, true confessions…it was my idea. I took them to the dog store and let them pick out a costume. I mean, when is she ever going to be this little and cute again? Might as well maximize her powers of super-cuteness while we can, right?

‘Wonder Whoodle’ was a big hit both at the school Halloween parade, and Trick or Treating that evening.

By the way, I swear to you I never dressed my kids up this way to exploit their cuteness.

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Okay, so maybe once.

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Or twice. I swear that was the last one.

And really, this Wonder Whoodle thing was really the last time I will indulge in such cuteness-enhancing antics. I should mention that no animals were harmed in the posting of this blog. In all seriousness, the Whoodle absolutely did not mind wearing the costume. I don’t think she even noticed it. She was way to excited and busy running around the neighborhood at night, wild with delight at the attention from all the children.

So next year at Halloween, if you spot a Wonder Whoodle — forgive me for doing it again.

One Fun Thing

Life affords many opportunities to get bogged down in sludge. Chores, responsibilities, bills. As a child I used to wonder why my parents were so stressed and boring. Now, of course, my children wonder the same thing about me and my husband. Kids know the score. They make sure to find something fun to do nearly every day.

What if we gown-ups all agreed to do something today that was fun? Not all together, of course. My house isn’t big enough to invite y’all over. And I’m not talking about going to a bar and getting wasted. I understand that is some people’s idea of fun, but I’m talking about things that lift us up without crashing us down into a heap of hangover and guilt the next day. We’re not going out and buying that $90,000 sports car, or even that new $500 Chanel bag in aubergine that would look so nice with my winter coat.

And again, I’m talking to adults here now. Preferably parents of children under eighteen who really just need one fun thing to enjoy after getting through the day, doing the dishes, and enforcing bedtime. No, not television watching. It can be fun, but it’s completely passive. Let’s be like kids and get off the sofa.

I’m talking active, participation-required fun. If you have an adult partner available for sex, that counts. Playing tennis counts. So does virtual bowling on the Wii. Playing scrabble, solitaire, sewing, knitting, scrapbooking, sailing, or searching for Sasquatch. All these things will do if you find them to be fun. Just not all at the same time please.

Okay, I know by the end of the day you are tired. So am I! But I’m just talking about today. Not a commitment for the next six months. Just one fun thing that won’t ruin your life, empty your bank account, or destroy your marriage. Schedule it on your calendar, add it to your to-do list.

I wonder what it would feel like if we all managed to do this – one fun active thing today. Would we all wake up tomorrow feeling a little more jazzed about life? Would we notice the spring in each other’s step? Would we be more productive workers, more patient mothers and fathers tomorrow?

I wonder.

Obedience Class

I have attended exactly two puppy obedience classes, and I can honestly say I recommend them for all parents of human children. Learning how to train my Whoodle has taught me at least three things I am doing wrong with my real kids.

  1. I tell them to do something too many times before I give the final warning that proceeds consequence. I have taught my children to tune out my voice and discount my instructions. The dog trainer says to give a command ONCE. Now, I will admit that it is easier with a puppy than with people. With my six pound Whoodle, if she doesn’t obey on the first command, I can pick her up and make her do it. With my 98 pound daughter that just doesn’t work. Plus, depending on the situation, social services might disapprove of coercive handling of my pre-teen. But now that I am aware of the situation, I am re-thinking my approach with the kids.
  2. In my human family, I am not the Alpha Dog. I am in charge, but the children know that when I am distracted they can do what they want even if technically it is against my rules. Often I become aware of the transgression when my distraction passes, but then I feel that it is my fault I got distracted, so I let them get away with it. They are 8 and 12 – they know the rules and even if I am distracted they need to follow them. I am working on developing my inner Alpha Dog. I am mommy, hear me howl!
  3. Treats are great, but physical affection and true-eye-contact attention are just as important! It is easy to cuddle my tiny Whoodle and rub her little belly. When my kids were small, it was wonderful fun to snuggle with my daughter and let her style my hair. It was a pleasure to wrestle with my son on the carpet. Now, we are so busy and my daughter looks so much like an adult person that I forget to snuggle with her on the sofa before bedtime or on Sunday morning. When I try to wrestle with my very large and physically powerful 8-year-old I get hurt. But even if I don’t have time for snuggles or want the injuries that occur from wrestling, I can listen. I can hear them. I can stop washing the dishes and look them in the eye when they are talking to me. I can ask them more questions and learn more about what fascinating people they are. I can make sure to hug them every day.

So I guess I can thank my Whoodle for helping make me a better parent to the two humans I birthed.

I Will Apologize When You Come Over

My house when you come over. Where do I start? There are two vats of alcoholic beverages brewing on my kitchen counter courtesy of my husband. There is a pile of red peppers from my garden sitting next to the sink, which I intend to put into the chicken curry planned for tonight. It might happen tomorrow, though, depending on what happens when the kids come home and how much the Whoodle distracts me from my plan.

We are raising a Whoodle. She is three months old. Her toys are all over the floor. The pillow from my daughter’s room that the Whoodle adopted as her bed lies on the linoleum in the kitchen.  The Whoodle leash and the headlamp I wear to take her out in the middle of the night are lying on the sofa, ready for action.

My daughter’s school books are probably on the dining room table. And the paper scraps left over from cutting out whatever artistic creation she had to make for school today. I still have to tell her to throw them away. She is 12.

My son enjoys making weapons out of painter’s tape, popsicle sticks, and rope. In the living room. He is 8.

I think you get the picture. My home is a work in progress, a place where half-finished projects live until whoever started them feels the urge to finish. The important things are clean. Toilets and sinks? Check. Sheets laundered weekly? Check. Rugs vacuumed? Usually. Clothing clean? Always.

But when you come over to my house I will apologize. I will sheepishly mention the clutter and make apologies for the vats of brew, the books on the table. I did not effectively teach my children to clean up their messes immediately. I did try, and sometimes they do! But sometimes they have to be reminded. Three times. Sorry!

Obviously if I were that sorry about how my house looks I would always keep it perfect. Sanitized for your protection like a hotel toilet. I do have varying success with housekeeping. Before we got the Whoodle I was on a roll. Things were looking great.

Then the Whoodle, and hubby got a bee in his bonnet about brewing. He does clean up after himself, by the way.

My home will never be picture perfect tidy. So it’s time to make peace with the fact that my house is more ‘lived in’ than ‘ready for guests’. As of now I refuse to look at any more Better Homes and Gardens magazines, wishing my home looked like that. In my household we are four healthy, thriving, active, energetic people (and a baby Whoodle). The Television is almost never on. We have rules about how much time the children can log on the computer. There isn’t much junk food in our cupboards. Hot, home-made meals get served nightly. Breakfast is nourishing and often served hot as well. We laugh a lot.

I love our life and our somewhat messy home. So next time you come over I will welcome you, ask you if you’d like a drink, and swallow my apologies.

Pointe Shoes a.k.a. Pink Satin Money Suckers

The summer of 2104 my ballet dancing daughter was allowed to ‘go on pointe’. For non-dancers (myself included), this may not seem like such a big deal. Another pair of dance shoes, right? Yet my girl had lived and breathed with this one goal in mind for six years. More than half her life. So great, that’s wonderful. I hugged my daughter, told her I was proud and mentally budgeted for a pair of $90 pointe shoes. I figured she’d need a new pair once a year like her plain old leather ballet shoes, or the tap shoes she grew out of every year and a half.

No. What I didn’t know then is that pointe shoes ‘die’. After about 12-18 hours of wear. Serious dancers in lead ballet roles can kill a pair in one performance.

So I naively experienced the high of watching her try on the coveted shoes at the Dance Shoppe and looking the happiest I’ve ever seen her. I patiently taught my girl how to sew the silky ribbons and elastic onto the shoes (they don’t come pre-attached!! And yes, I had to look up how to do it on YouTube). Those first shoes sailed through light wear for eight months.  Then she really started logging time on her toes.

She went through four pairs of pointe shoes in the summer of 2015. That’s $360 worth of shoes in four months, if you count September. I’ve never spent more than $80 on a pair of shoes for myself. My wedding dress cost $120. The helpful lady at the Dance Shoppe recommended that as soon as my daughter’s foot stops growing I buy the shoes three pair at a time to get a discount. What? 

How can anyone afford to be a ballerina?

So this got me thinking about how much a hobby should reasonably cost. My son likes to make paracord survival bracelets. I can get the paracord and plastic clasps on Amazon for $20. This makes a whole bunch of bracelets. My husband likes to brew his own wine and beer. A kit costs from $50-$80 and makes a whole keg of alcoholic beverage.

Between what we pay for classes, leotards, tights, costumes, and pointe shoes, I have to conclude that based on a cost that reaches into the thousands per year, ballet is officially not a hobby. It is a lifestyle. 

I think they say that about luxury cars, right? You can buy a plain old sensibly priced Ford, but Lexus is a lifestyle. I drive a Honda minivan, which I consider to be high-end. So why on earth are my husband and I willing to finance the ballet lifestyle for my 12-year-old?

My daughter loves dance with a constant passion I’ve never experienced for any one thing. Not even my husband (sorry, hon) or chocolate peanut-butter ice cream. Part of me admires her single-minded pursuit of dance, and part of me is scared of it. If she felt this way about a boy, I’d probably be willing to move to Wyoming to discourage their relationship. It’s intense. Obsessive maybe even.

But then here is what dance is teaching her: self-discipline, poise, responsibility, teamwork, future-planning, organization, reliability, sisterhood, tenacity, confidence, and grace under pressure. And when I see the excitement in her eyes when it’s time to go to dance class, and the pure joy on her face when she dances, I am happy we can provide her with the luxury of pursuing her passion.

And as soon as that child is old enough to legally work, she’d better get a part-time job to help pay for those pink satin money suckers.

Thoughts on First Love

A dear friend of mine recently experienced a strange and tragic type of loss. Her first love died in a car crash. Never mind that they hadn’t seen each other in person since 1995, or that they were both married to other people. She is feeling the loss of him keenly.

First loves often imprint on us in a way that makes them part of the structure that frames our history and our everyday experience of love well into the future. The first time we feel those emotions of love, lust, jealousy, insecurity, feeling precious and vulnerable and righteous in our anger and fierce in our desire is a rite of passage that informs how we operate in future relationships. Even if that first love becomes your life partner, those early days of discovery and heightened emotion are intoxicating and feel more real than just about anything else that has happened up until that point.

Though I am many years happily married, I can still close my eyes and remember the onslaught of emotions and sensations that raced through my being when I first fell in love with a boy. The intensity of attachment, yearning. It was before I learned to reserve a bit of myself when caught in the rush of early love, to temper those emotions and  think more clearly in the face of all-consuming thoughts about the target of my affection.

I have often wondered if those first few times I fancied myself in love, was it really Love? It could have been extreme attraction disguised as love. Having never felt it before, what other emotion would I have tagged it with? I felt passionately with all my soul that I was in love. Yet perhaps it was a foundation, a jumping off point from which a more sustained love could have sprung.

Marriage has taught me that love is more than obsessive thoughts about a guy. It’s more than wanting to run my fingers through his hair and give all of my physical self to him. It’s more than having ‘in jokes’ and eating toast naked in the middle of the night. It’s the bigger stuff that sustains love. Personal values. Deeply held beliefs. Honesty. Loyalty when it gets hard and the shine wears off.

And yet I understand why the death of my friend’s first love is devastating to her. Touches her soul in a place that is way down deep. Because the first love holds the memory of all that youthful promise. The ripe and longing need, expectation, and rightful ownership you feel in being present with that all-consuming emotion. That first other person who makes you feel whole.

Beware the Whoodle

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This is what a Whoodle looks like. It will turn your life upside-down, try to eat your shoes, chew on your rug-fringe, and wake you repeatedly in the night to take it out in the cold darkness so it can pee on your lawn. If you see one, run for your life.

Or take it home. Your call.

Getting This Darn Book Published

Okay, so the truth is that writing a novel is easier than getting it ready for publication. For me anyway. I have chosen to self-publish on Amazon to bypass the lengthy process of seeking an agent, etc. I like driving my own wagon. But I want a gorgeous finished product with no typos, duplicate pages, or incomplete sentences. So I hired a fabulous copy editor. And I’m working with a talented graphic artist to create a cover that will represent the story. All this takes time.

And patience.

And I probably should not have given in to my children’s request for a puppy right at the same time I am trying to get my novel published.

Yeah. We adopted a Whoodle. It looks a lot like a teddy bear, but needs to pee in the middle of the night. Several times. A Whoodle weighs about four pounds when it is ten weeks old, which it is now.  It is a mix between a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and a Miniature Poodle. And it keeps me from getting anything productive accomplished. But in the plus column, it is very soft, very cute, and has made my children very happy.

So though my book is slowly marching toward Amazon publication, it feels like rather a long road with the Whoodle along for the ride.

Pronouncing Enzo ~ A novel about transformation, love, and proper pronunciation

You know how sometimes you get this great idea for a book and then life happens and you totally forget about it? When I dreamed up the idea for Pronouncing Enzo, I couldn’t shake the urge to write it even though I had about 76 more important items on my to-do list. Something in me thought that writing this novel would be even more satisfying than eating a pint of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream (my all-time Fave).

And it was.

Here’s the gist:

Hester Hastings is the best dialect coach in Hollywood. The hottest actors pay her top dollar to help them master accents that will wow the critics. She would never offer free lessons to an ex-con from South Central L.A. and let him live in her pool cabana…until her best friend challenges her to a crazy bet.

In only three months, Hester must transform the ex-con so he can dazzle Hollywood royalty posing as an up-and-coming British actor.

Enzo Diaz just got out of jail. He is determined to get a good job and turn his life around. But with a criminal record and an accent straight from the streets, his job prospects aren’t looking good. When Hester offers to polish his English and give him a place to stay it’s a no-brainer. Enzo is desperate for a chance at a better life.

Hester didn’t count on finding out Enzo’s rough exterior hides a heart of gold. But just when she starts to fall for him, she discovers his shocking secret.

Forget winning the bet. Does Hester have the courage to win at love?