Monday, December 30, 2013

Very Superstitious...

Jacinta Lluch [CC-BY-SA-2.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
...is what the Portuguese are; I've mentioned this before, you may remember. (And if you don't, here's a link.) But there are layers of superstition which manage to surprise me as they continue to unravel, like some stealthy Lusitanian onion, just when I thought I'd heard them all. (I'm a first-generation American of Portuguese descent and, after 43 years on this planet, I coulda sworn I'd learned all the 'guese stuff worth knowing.)

Specifically, I refer to Portuguese superstitions regarding New Year's Eve—though I don't remember my parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins doing anything more on said evening than getting stinking drunk (as is right and proper). But in recent years, my Mom's trotted out a few choice bits of magical thinking. For example, there's the twelve green grapes at midnight business: these must be consumed within the first minute of the new year, so as to ascertain good luck for each of the twelve coming months. Now, I coulda sworn I told her about this, having learned it from my former, Puerto Rican, in-laws, but Mom acts like it's old hat, now. Yeah, whatevs.

That one's pretty tame, and probably not unknown to most of y'all. But the onion unveiled a layer of the surreal the year my Mom gave me a small parcel on a December 30. Doubtingly, I took the thing from her and opened it. I blinked at what lay in the wrapping paper, then at my mother.
"Underwear?" I asked, uncomprehending.

"Red underwear," she replied with a broad, loony smile."Make sure you wear it New Year's Eve."

"Um...why?"

"It's for luck."

My left eyebrow quirked up of its own accord. "What kind of luck?"

Her crazed grin broadened, not unlike the grins of the folks in the video for Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun. "Who knows?" she said. And then she buggered off before I could demand further explanation.

This conversation haunted me, so much so that I had to track my sister, Star, down online and beg her to help me figure this shizz out. I don't remember all the particulars of that long online chat, but I can't forget when stunned realization compelled me to type out the words,

You mean...Mom wants me to get laid?!!??!?!?!?

Or similar.

I think Star and I settled on the fact that, as red symbolizes love, our mother simply wished me to enjoy some happiness in that department. I mean, it's not like she's ever been a romantic (like, not EVER), or thinks men are good for much of anything except making babies (sorry, folks, but it's not what I think, but what she thinks). Mom's, like, super Old Country Catholic and never encouraged us to date or anything even close to it. So the idea of my mother wanting me to get lucky, sort of blew me away. (Which isn't to say I didn't wear the hell out of those underpants that New Year's Eve, for all the good that did me.)

Anyway.

Y'all ever hear about anything even remotely like that? If not that, then what kooky New Year's Eve superstitions did you grow up with? (I'm particularly interested in something that'll help me get lucky, so feel free to share in the comments.) (Please, for the love of all that's holy; Goth Mom Lite's feeling that Urge To Merge!) (Ahem.)

Edited to add: Well, well, well...my Mom is vindicated




Monday, December 23, 2013

Streaming Consciousness: A Post-Birthday Pictorial...

...gentle readers, pray forgive the lateness of this week's post. I traveled for my birthday this past weekend (Dec. 21 was the day; no, it's not too late to buy/send me something fabulous) and got in late last night. The Kid returned from skewl while I was away, so we had a bit of catching up to do, thus, I'd no time to write this week's post till today. I present for your visual pleasure a pictorial of my birthday trip to our nation's capital, Washington D.C...



...I began my day with the local brew,
possibly my new preferred brand,
Zombie Coffee...




...I wasn't able to capture the "Happy birthday Mina!" Google wished me,
though I did snag the doodle...




...I realized I hadn't packed my Kindle power cord, so I stopped by the local bookstore and picked up a Regency romance
(though the gowns on the cover seem more Georgian than Regency, to me),
April Lady, by one of my fave authors, Georgette Heyer...




...when My Dear Friend Sara Leigh joined me, we betook ourselves to a place I've longed wanted to visit, the International Spy Museum. There, I was astonished to learn all of the truly wretched things humans are capable of doing to learn one another's secrets while keeping others from learning theirs...



...for dinner, we adjourned to a lovely place Sara Leigh'd introduced me to some years ago, Co Co. Sala: Chocolate Lounge and Boutique
(the image below is of Sara Leigh's dessert,
as I'm damned if I'll share even just pictures of mine)...




...the following day we headed over to The Phillips Collection (America's First Museum of Modern Art!) to check out, among other things,
Van Gogh's Repetitions...

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


...as I noted on Facebook recently, my age no longer equals the answer to life, the universe, and everything, alas. 42 saw me reach the high of self-publishing my debut romance novel, That Fatal Kiss, and the low of pining for my own, seemingly impossible, romance. I don't mind telling you that I both marvel at, and fear, what 43 may bring...

But as long as Goth Mom Lite's got her mascara and red lipstick,
she aims to roll with the punches as best she can...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Indie Author SOS ~ Weirdness!

So I was checking out the listing for my book, That Fatal Kiss, on Amazon.com (yeah, I was eyeballing the Amazon Best Sellers Rank, which I've been doing daily since I released it in September) (OK, I look at TFK's ABSR several times a day; gimme a break, this is all new to me and I've got compulsive tendencies) when I noticed something weird. It struck me as so utterly bizarre that I squinted, really hard, at my laptop screen (and I do my damnedest not to squint, 'cause I can't afford the wrinkles). I even asked someone at my day job to take a look at it, as I just really couldn't believe what I was seeing. Here's a piccie of The Weirdness (hint: look closely at the pricing in the rectangular box):




Do you see that Used Paperback price, through Amazon.com Marketplace? Someone's listed for sale a used paperback copy of TFK for almost a thousand dollars.

Someone has listed for sale a used paperback copy of TFK for almost a thousand dollars.

Uh...what?

Say what???

Seriously, what the actual fuck? For realz? C'mon, that's gotta be a typo, right? The seller meant, like, 99 cents, probably, right? Right?!

So I e-mailed the good people over at Amazon.com, just asking if that was a legit listing, and was given some canned response about sellers being able to ask any price they want for the items they put up for sale.

Yeah, that's fine, but what the hell did the seller do to that copy to warrant a ticket price of $999.11? Gild the page edges with actual gold, melted down in a vat in his basement? Embed in it some new stripe of artificial intelligence, so that it can do your homework (and/or taxes) for you, on demand? 
Imbue it with such mighty mystical powers that, if carried around as a charm, it'd keep mosquitoes and zits at bay for, like, forever? ('Cause that would be rather impressive, wouldn't it?)

I'm tempted to write the seller and ask her/him to let me know if it sells at that price, just to see if s/he discovers (and owns up to) an error in pricing. 'Cause that's totally a mistake. It's just gotta be. Or a cruel, cruel joke.

Indie (and/or traditionally published) authors of teh Blogosphere: any o' y'all seen some shit like that? If so, did it weird you out? If so, did you do anything about it? Should I be doing something about it??? (Probably not, but this thing's just do weirdly weird that I had to toss in a few more question marks somewhere...)

Monday, December 9, 2013

No, Cupid; It's Not OK

Before I get started, I want you to understand that I ain't no dating guru*. In fact, I've rarely "dated," as such. The men with whom I've been involved were known to me in some capacity, so we weren't just starting to get to know one another from scratch. The idea of meeting up with complete strangers so we can size one another up as potential mating partners rather turns my stomach.

So naturally I decided to sign up with an online dating service.

I dunno what the hell made me do it. OK, it was having coffee with a friend who met her fiancé on OkCupid. That, and OkCupid's free. Well, unless you don't want folks to know you're stalking their profiles, in which case you have to pay. Which is what I'm doing. (No, not the stalking folks bit, the paying bit, so they don't know I'm stalking.) (Looking, not stalking. Jeez, GAH!)

Anyway, I signed up on OkCupid in August but I've yet to go out on a proper date, though it's not for lack of offers. It's just that...some of these dudes are creepy.

Or maybe I just find dating creepy.

In the first week, after getting a bunch of unappealing messages, a dude finally wrote something which engaged my interest. We had some fun exchanges and, though it wigged me out that he was 29 (coming after a 42-year-old Goth Mom!), I reckoned I'd just practice flirting and see what happened.

My stomach turned, is what happened.

I should've known things were gonna get gross when, in a reference to a note in my profile that I write romance novels, he asked me how I like my romance (in, like, his second message to me). (Well, at least he actually read my profile.) I wrote back, "Slow and steady wins the race." To which he admitted a preference for racing around the track.

I shoulda known.

We wound up on the phone one night. He was, by turns, contentious and arrogant, but to his credit, he was being upfront about what he wanted. He talked of enjoying older babes because they were more mature, and not silly, like chicks in their 20s. (For future reference, Lovers-of-Cougars: don't diss half of my sex when you're kissing up to me. I was once in my 20s, ass-hat.) What he really enjoyed was the racing analogy, and he kept going back to my "slow and steady" comment. When he hemmed and hawed at one point, I asked him what was up.

Dude: You seem to want me to be...blunt.
Me: I want you to be straightforward. (Thinking over what I've just said.) Like, gently and respectfully straightforward.

Dude: Well...it's just that I want to establish a baseline of what our expectations are.

Me (torn between amusement and horror): Go on, then.

Dude: Well...I said before I like to race around. I'm an experiencer of things, you know? While you...

Me (amusement drying up in the face of this last bit): While I like to take things slowly. Yes, I can see where we might have different ways of relating...

Dude: I don't wanna scare you off, though. Man, I'm not doing a good job of calming you down...

Me (feeling my free hand curl into an actual fist): I'm not going into hysterics over here, guy. I can appreciate where you're coming from, only it's not where I'm coming from. The thing is, it's been a while since I've...dated.

Dude (sharply): How long's a while?

Me (not seeing the point of being coy): It's been years.

Dude (after a pause): Oh. So the car hasn't even been out of the garage in a while.

At this point, I'm completely done with the conversation and struggling to find a polite way of bringing it to a close. Then the Dude obliged me by saying:

Dude: I just don't want you to write this off, you know? I mean, we've had some fun banter and we find one another attractive, and I just think, you know, if you wanted to get together, we could have a good time. Besides, I'm a fucking excellent mechanic.

At that, I laughed (loudly), congratulated him on his self-confidence, and got the hell off the phone. Haven't heard from him since, which is just fine, as I'm damned if I ever let him get his mitts on my chassis.

I was prepared to write that off as just a weird experience. But subsequent exhanges with other fellas (via message only) haven't exactly been inspiring. And, actually, it amazes me what some men find to be appropriate volleys for that oh-so-critical first serve. I mean, yeah, I get how difficult it is making that first move, but don't send me a message that contains only one line of text which reads:

sexy mama

or

hey there

or (and this one's my fave)

Hi ms lady

...and nothing else!

Other ways to make a bad impression upon me include writing me things like:

Hey you seem like a wicked ball of fun, would you be game for something "casual"?

No, I would not.

U look so damn cute!! excuse my language .
would u mind if we get to know each other ? Text me plz (phone number redacted)


If you have to ask me whether I'd mind getting to know you, then yes, I probably would mind.

Hello,
I am a 26 year old (profession redacted) from (city redacted).
I love older more mature women.
Do you enjoy younger men?


Not when they look like my kid. Ugh.

In the interest of full disclosure, there was another chap who seemed more promising: he was friendly, polite, attractive, used good grammar in complete sentences (rawr!), and appeared to be just a generally decent guy (even if he was a bit of a Hipster). I had a feeling he'd ask me out, and he did, BUT, he wanted me to trek all the way to where he lives (which is a 1.5 to 2-hour commute from where I live, though a meet-up in Manhattan after work would've been easy-peasy for us both). So I wrote back suggesting a "let's meet halfway" coffee date, and I never heard from him again.

WTF? Wanker.

::sighs::

I  haven't taken down my profile, though I really don't know why I keep it up.

OK, that's not true. I know why I keep it up, and I also know the full reason for creating it to begin with: to help me forget the fella I've been pining for since April. Perhaps, if something had come of the online dating business, it might've helped. As it was, working on getting my book ready to release took the edge off. But only the edge; the core of want remains.

Alas.

Anyway, things are getting busy with the day job, and I have a mini-anthology I want to put out in January, so I've got stuff to keep me busy. And I reckon that's the only thing I can do. Keep busy, leave the profile up, and just...be.

*I ain't no dating guru, but my pal Mac Perry, a fellow blogger, writer, and online dating vet, is. Check out her advice for the guys, as well as for the dolls.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pimp My Page!™

"Like" me, dang it!
For this first week of the month in which I celebrate my birth*, I present for your joy and edification my Pimp My Page!™ campaign! Or maybe that should read, "...for my joy and your edification..." Or, if I'm being straightforward, "...my Facebook author page needs some lovin', y'all!" I mean, I guess I shoulda just said that to begin with, but that makes me come off less altruistic and more "needy author," so...

Yeah, anyway.

Back in October, I teased y'all with the photo over on the left and a hint of a blog post to come. The place in the pic is the Art Institute of Chicago, which was just a few blocks away from the hotel I stayed at while in The Windy City on business last month. I'd no idea it was so close, and as I strolled about town the evening I arrived, I noticed this gloriously lit up facade, whose 3rd banner to the right proclaimed an exhibit titled, "Of Gods and Glamour." Well, as the gods in question were of the ancient Greek variety, I was damned if I was going to leave Chicago without checking it out. (I'm probably damned regardless, but that's a story for another time.)

The following day I did manage to get over to the museum, but didn't really allow myself as much time as I ought to've done, so I didn't snap as many pics as I'd have liked. (I have a bad habit of not giving myself enough time to do stuff; regular readers might've noticed this disturbing trend o' mine.) But I did get a few good'uns, which, rather than stick in a blog post, I've decided to employ as fan bait. (If such a thing is possible.)

Thus, my Pimp My Page!™ campaign was born! Every day this work-week, I'll post a pic from the exhibit on my Facebook author page at 3pm (EST). I hope you, Dear Readers, will go "Like" my page, if you've not already done so. AND, if you're so inclined, do Pimp My Page!™ to any peeps of your acquaintance who you think would enjoy said pics by "Sharing" them on the Facebook. Heck, you can even Tweet about 'em, or Google-Plus 'em, go crazy! If you're not sure how to get to my author page, just click on the badge below:


Thanks for reading and hope to catch you on Facebook, 3pm, from Monday through Friday of this week!



*In case you're wondering, my birthday's on December 21 and I like Lindt and Guylian Belgian chocolates, Brighton jewelry, and Gerbera daisies. ;-)
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