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Show Me What You’ve Got, 2017

The way to bring good energy into this year is to flirt with it. 2017, your numbers are so attractive. 2+1+7 = 10, which translates into a 1. You’re a winner, 2017.

And a winner would let the following occur:

Keep these celebrities alive: Duran Duran, Helen Mirren, Chic, Blake & Gwen, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, basically anyone–and their children. Seriously, if you touch Simon, Nick, John, and Roger, we are done.

Be nice to my family and friends. There are a few who have tested the gods and are still breathing due to sheer will. Allow them to prosper.

Help me get off the couch and turn off the TV. I don’t need to be Oprah and have a “Year of Adventure.” Just more nights out with Sam, who enjoys the Pâté de Campagne at Le Singe Vert and, to be honest, their Manhattans are really good.

Encourage me to work smarter. I already work hard. Show me what I could do and what is just more nonsense.

Let there be a constant supply of earplugs at Duane Reade. The plugs block out someone’s snoring.

Make me even more aware of how spectacular my husband is–if it’s possible–and if I’ve reached that cap, guide me toward how to make him happier and healthier. He deserves every good thing.

This might be a big ask, 2017. It’s not crucial, but one of those problems that accumulates over time. Find it in your heart to re-introduce me to Sweet Morpheus. We have not been in sync since before 9/11.

During the editing process, give me the discipline to avoid starting sentences with “and” or “but,” as I do above.

Show me how to let loose, as in a new drinking game every time someone says, “actually,” “really,” or “literally” on The Voice and Chopped.

Let it sink in that a compliment followed by a “but” is bullcrap.

Nudge me when I use “so” too much. I’m not 15 anymore.

Of course, I welcome a return to graphomania. This is no time to be quiet…about anything!

Put a potion in Sam’s drink so that he’ll say yes to a kitten. We don’t have children. A fluffy kitten won’t hurt anyone. Yes, the litter smells but there are sophisticated new blends that will make our apartment smell like Chanel No. 5.

And lastly, because Salieri’s rant in Amadeus sticks with me, show me how to rise above mediocrity. It’s so easy to coast in that lane, especially with a giant peanut butter Lenny & Larry cookie and a Lt. Joe Kenda marathon on ID. As 2016 has shown has, there doesn’t seem to be much time left. Why not go for it?

I’m counting on you, 2017, to show me the way. I want to smile like these jackasses* all year long.

*Did I mention how much I love a good jackass?

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Goodbye to 2016, the Year of No Fear

My year started with a celebration: 25 years of extra life. I didn’t say anything except quiet wishes to my friend (sister) who was with me one horrible night in early January. We are both thriving now, but it took a while, at least for me.

Then, I had a long flight for work, one I’d been sweating. Like Guinness, I don’t travel well and lose my bubbles. But when your boss shows confidence in you by sending you places, you say yes. Meeting with writers is fun for me. They feed you cheesecake and regale you with stories. All I have to do is get on the damn plane.

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We went to my thirtieth high school reunion in May, which was nice, low key, and I felt very fat. I thought that red dress would be roomier, but it wasn’t. More on my inexplicable weight gain from eating cookies below. %*$&%*! As you can see in the pic below, I’m half in love with my friend Di, who is mentioned in my book. She is a gifted artist and so full of the same warmth, moxie, and wisdom. Plus, she is rocking some serious braids. I wish she lived next door.

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I threw a surprise party for my darling husband, Sam. He had no idea what was coming and it blew him away. Maybe my favorite moment of the year, watching him walk in and see us. This whole marriage thing is pretty cool.img_1968

Sam–a French prof–decided it would be great to take students to Paris. Sure, you do that. Okay, so I managed to get on that plane again (thank you, Delta, for the amazing service). I went to France because when your husband turns 50 in Paris, you get on the damn plane to meet him there. We had an amazing time. The butter!!!

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I flew three more times after that. My fear of travel is now gone. It happened gradually until one travel day, as I strapped myself in the seat, I thought, “Oh this again.” No big deal. I ditched the tranquilizers and now just listen to music and knit. I’ll go anywhere. Except on a boat. Or a prop plane. Hate those.

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My childhood friend got hitched and I love her and her family. I rediscovered that warm fuzzy of seeing someone again and remembering deep bonds and memories. Here are some flowers from her big day.fullsizerender-003

This year, I rediscovered food. It’s weird, but food tastes good again after 25 years of not caring (and being thin). What happened? Were my tastebuds released from jail? Long story too long, I gained 15 pounds. I’m so startled not to fit in most of my clothes that I’ve upped my running. Love handles on me are not okay!

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Part III. August. As you get older, lifting weights becomes more important. Plus, I couldn’t open a jar of pickles, so I signed up with a trainer. On good days and bad days, M kicks my butt and I always feel better afterwards. (I’m not James Corden, btw)mgid-ao-image-mtv-com-207885It all seemed to be going okay, until…do I have to say it?

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On November 9, the fear came rushing back. The embodiment of my nightmares will be in office. How did that happen? I feel sick just seeing his face or hearing him talk–and I’m so so so angry. You can’t tell this broad to move on or accept the outcome. It runs too deep for many of us. I like that people think differently but this election was different–and not in a way that celebrates our differences.

It would be easy to stay indoors and sleep through the next four years. I’ve thought about it. What a waste, though. We can be a community of survivors, right? I will start by bidding au revoir to 2016. You’ve put us through a lot and I’m grateful for the lessons. Maybe not grateful in a gratitude way, but I get why things happened and how I can learn from them. But did you have to kill Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and David Bowie?

Sam and I are ending the year with a nasty bug that has left us bed-ridden and watching The Sopranos. We will recover from all upsets, sinus, stomach or the caustic Orange kind, and 2017 will be about badassery and La Resistance. Stay tuned.

 

Romantic Life Lessons

If such and such hadn’t happened, then…

Today is a special day and, while the root of all things is Adam and Eve or single-celled sea substance that morphs into humans, let me skip a few billion years to thanking my two sets of grandparents: William & Harriet and William & Ella for their stunning contribution to my miracle.

Bill and Hattie had a sweet little girl. She grew up to be famous goddess historian and begat little Patrick and Patience.
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On the other side, Bill and Ella had a boy who also wound up liking history, soccer, and helped begat Patrick and Patience.
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Many years later, B&E sent their son to the posh school down the street. He did pretty well and later went to college. He met my mother in this general time frame. Marriage and babies happened, after which they settled in Ohio, then Upstate New York, then Paris and then, well, chaos. My parents joined the flood of divorcing couples in the 70s and our households shifted.

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Let’s acknowledge that splitting up sucks for everyone. But out of hardship, miracles can happen.
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In the chaos, Patrick went to my father’s posh school. He was super-smart, had even skipped a grade, and how cool is it to live like an adult, and eat as much candy as you want? I demanded the opportunity to attend the same posh school.

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Finally! Here I am in high school! It’s awesome but, you know, adolescence is tough.

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But I meet this guy. He makes an impression for a brief time.

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Twenty-six years pass. I get a message from an old acquaintance. Thank you, Facebook, for getting me and Sam in touch again on August 10, 2009.We are separated by 5,000 miles but fall in love anyway. He books a ticket for our first date on December 17, 2009 and he’s still here.

Happy First Date-iversary to mJust marriedy love, Sam. And thank you to my grandparents, my parents, my posh school, and Facebook for nudging us onto the path. Eternal gratitude right here.

 

Whining

6 Days Until I Can Stop Watching Television Forever

seal_of_the_president_of_the_united_states-svgThis past January, fueled by caffeine and post-flight euphoria, I promised a group of writers that I would pen 10 craft-related blog posts this year on this site. Well, kids, I’ve done this, partially on this site and partially on another–my daytime professional one. If you check my twitter posts, you will find them. Given my prolific blogging elsewhere, I figured I would burn out fast writing in two different places. You have to have separation between church and state.

Here, I will post more about my life as a person (new and different). Maybe as a writer and a wife and a New Yorker and a reader. Also a little about being a shameless seeker of cookies, Gwen Stefani/Blake Shelton updates, cheap yarn that doesn’t look cheap, and recipes I will never use. Maybe I’ll mention that I can’t turn away from election coverage and am looking forward to finally turning off the TV on 11/9.

Everything seems to have stopped until I can vote. I didn’t volunteer but I donated $$$, bought merchandise and have watched more television than is healthy. I had to procure a mouth guard from my dentist. Perhaps, there is some nervous candy bar consumption as well.  I have two 1/2 written books on hold. My normal TV watching has suffered, as in I’m no longer caught up with the Housewives or Grey’s. The apartment needs Swiffering and there are emails to answer. Stacks of puzzles to do, books to read, summer clothes to pack away, makeup to put on my face, and sweaters to bring out. And there’s my wonderful husband who, with his own insane schedule, gets take-out dinner because I am too preoccupied to shop (he does 80% of cooking). I make up for this by ironing clothes because you can do this and watch TV. That said, I do my job and make it to the gym.

For now, I’m frozen until the verdict is in. Who else is feeling this way?

Oh, and just because, I am reading two engrossing must-read books–but slowly because of TV crack-heroin-poison:

The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

Can I Go Now? The Life of Sue Mengers, Hollywood’s First Superagent by Brian Kellow

Oh wait, never mind all of the above except for the book recommendations. I am way too privileged to complain.

Uncategorized

My Tiny Presidential Pile On

I’m not going to post about the election because it feels way too cliché. Just kidding! Friends, consider me infected with the political bug. This addition to the infinity already written is only to engage like-minded spirits (and survivors)–and to vent like the red-haired vixen that I am. First, some housekeeping: I won’t argue with anyone on this site and will delete hateful comments against my candidate or me. If you don’t like what I’m posting, I encourage you to move on. Until WordPress charges me money, this is my territory. Unless you’re a hacker. Maybe I should rethink this.

Well, here goes. My name is Patience and I’m addicted to the news coverage of this damn election. It’s been at level 11 since last June. No one in this household is happy with my channel choices, least of all me. I can’t even watch Housewives or The Voice (boycotting Mark Burnett shows, sorry Blake Shelton).  Not to worry, this addiction won’t last past November 9, but until then, I’m clocked in, baby. This election feels way too important and if I watch, I’m convinced it will go the right way. Like on a plane, if I fall asleep, the plane will crash. But seriously, big moments in our history warrant our attention*.

Here comes the boring part, my history with history. Feel free to skip to the final rant. After college, I watched a lot of news because it made me feel like a grownup. What was there to watch? Oh, the Anita Hill hearings, the William Kennedy Smith coverage, then the O.J. Simpson trial. I remember them clearly, which politician/lawyer asked horrible questions–ones still around and now beloved–and who got away with abuse of women in some form. I remember how the guys at my work cheered when O.J. was acquitted. That one teacher who touched me far too casually and said, “I guess I shouldn’t touch you because of Anita Hill.” Once I saw William Kennedy Smith drive by me on my way to work. I couldn’t sleep for days afterwards because he suddenly had moved nearby, in my small-ish city in the middle of the last place you would think he would live. These events kind of merged in my 20-something, new adult head as I went through the aftermath of a sexual assault–where statistics put me six feet under–and brutal criminal court experience, less than a year after my graduation. Twenty-six years later, I think about it a lot and experience it in some form every day.

My mind was made up before the release of those tapes–and yes, I know about my candidate’s baggage (about that, too, and that) and I still like her, a lot. But those tapes made what we’ve already witnessed so obviously indefensible and grotesque–enough that a few lunkheads finally smelled the foul odor and walked slowly in the other direction. Many remain firmly behind the grabber. What does that candidate have to do, dismember someone and hang her from a flag pole? It’s sad to see that savagery may not change anything. But it does change me and how I react to him and his followers.

It’s this simple: I can’t bear to be around anyone who would vote for him. It’s a vote against any woman who’s been assaulted. It’s a vote against women, period. You can’t separate this violence from a candidate. To add to these tapes, he is grotesque enough to parade a former president’s victims (alleged or not, they are victims) to rattle the opposition, opposition very prepared for all kinds of horror. Even with the escalating ugliness of this campaign, there are people walking the earth who think it’s okay to be hateful. It’s “telling it like it is,” meaning it’s okay to be a total jerk. Some people I know support him. How is this possible?

I’ve had friends from every party and I thoroughly appreciate the differences between us. While I’m passionate about my candidate, I’m more passionate that you should vote for whomever. I understand conservatives, moderates, libertarians, the green party, and progressives. They should co-exist.  This time is different, though. I can’t accept anyone in my life who believes that what happened to me and millions of women (and men) is no big deal, locker room talk. Going in that direction sets women back at least a thousand years…or sadly, twenty.

Peace be with us all. And now, I’m going to crawl back into the rabbit hole and stay quiet until I can blog about other things. Once I think what those things might be.

 

*Unless you’re really sick of the coverage, which I totally understand.

 

Writing Tips

Welcome to Synopsis Camp!

IMG_2493What is more painful than writing a synopsis? Writing a blog post about writing synopses. Just kidding not really. While on an editor panel, I promised to write this post and I’m glad I did. From the bottom of my heart, I feel that banging out that synopsis is essential–and easy.

Let’s just get it out of the way, that every writer tells me, “I can’t write a synopsis.” And I can’t eat pickled beets unless you give me money, which is what my mother and brother did once. Seriously, you can write a synopsis. If you can write a book, you can write a synopsis. Remember high school, college? It’s a matter of getting into the right head space and practicing. I don’t blame you for complaining. I have to write synopses, too, and I do plenty of whining about it. Then I realize what a skill it is: being able to summarize your work.

One thing to note: Editors need that synopsis. They have to pitch your story to higher ups. We might even require a refresher if we haven’t looked at your book in a few weeks. There are so many books that we read between your submission and that second or third read. A synopsis turns out to be a handy guide to your story. It introduces everyone to the basics.

But how do you write a dry synopsis on a story you are so passionate about? It can be done, I swear. If we can survive the elements, reality television, and the presidential campaign, we can tackle this onerous task.

Because I hate writing synopses myself, I’ve devised a handy way to get through the pain. Maybe it’ll help you, too.

  1. Choose two days where your goal is to write the synopsis. No other writing, no other big projects. Just the synopsis.
  2. Write a logline, a one-sentence summary of your story, two sentences tops. Encapsulating your premise into one neat sentence is a talent and one you can show off when you pitch your story. You will use that logline over and over again.
  3. Prepare yourself psychologically for the longer synopsis. Editors have different requirements, but I like to ask for a five-page synopsis, double spaced. If you can do this, you’re in great shape. Line up your pencils, hydrate, and say, “I can do this.”
  4. Break down your synopsis into three parts. Act I, Act II, and Act III–but don’t label them as such in your synopsis. It’s easier to write a synopsis when you think of it in smaller segments. Never write a chapter by chapter breakdown. These are hard to follow.
  5. Write Act I in the morning. You have that surge of energy, you’ve had your coffee, so get out those first 500 words. You’ll be shocked at how little time this takes.
  6. Take a few hours off. Let Act II percolate in your head. Eat lunch. Have another coffee and then go at it. Get the middle of the story down in lovely prose. No need for gimmicks, just the story as if you were telling someone about it. Think generalities. Think that annoying paper that you’re writing for school. Readable, engaging writing that will inform the editor.
  7. Reward yourself. Watch an episode of your favorite show. Eat a Snickers and/or Cheese Puffs (see picture).
  8. It’s late afternoon, when you’re almost ready to call it a day. Maybe you want to take a nap, but you have one last item on your to do list: Act III. Make it dramatic and exciting! You’re on the home stretch!
  9. You did it. Was that so hard? Maybe, if you think mowing the lawn is hard. It’s just not something you want to do, but you did it because it needed doing. If you didn’t have a Snickers before, you deserve one now.
  10. Forget about your synopsis for the rest of the night. Sweet dreams! They will be sweet because you accomplished this one little yet crucial part of the writing process.
  11. Wakey, wakey! Don’t you hate it when people say that? I do, too, but not so much since I finished a synopsis. After breakfast or whenever the neurons start firing, go over your synopsis, revise it, edit it, then look over it five more times throughout the day. Remind yourself how awesome you are for writing a synopsis, which all of us hate to do.
  12. You are now done–and a new graduate of Synopsis Camp. For good measure and because this is a heinous chore, reward yourself often.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to go over your work, but the hardest part is often getting the words down. As a writer, though, you’re used to that, right? In conclusion, I’ll let you in on a secret. The synopsis is important, though many of editors don’t love reading them. It is truly a guide. The most important part is your voice, your story. But we still want the synopsis. 🙂