Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Seventeen years ago today…*

Balthazar, June 1995.
…at 10:21 am, I unleashed the fruit of my loins upon the world. Balthazar popped out of my pelvis weighing 7 lbs, 11 oz, and measuring 21” in length. Born of a slightly jaundiced mother, he did a brief stint under bili lights, which allowed me to get a bit of rest after my ordeal labor.

After fetching us from the hospital, his father left to pick up my sister, who was to stay with us for a couple of months to lend a hand and moral support, as needed (and both were desperately needed). I stood in the little hallway beyond the front door, cupping my one-day old baby in my hands, wondering what the hell I should do with myself. I looked over at his bedroom and realized I hadn’t put any bedding on either his crib mattress or the twin bed my sis would be sleeping in. As I pondered which to tackle first, the kitchen phone suddenly rang, an unpleasantly jarring shrill in the otherwise quiet apartment. It scared the crap out of me - and out of Balthazar as well. Literally.

I became aware of an unexpected warmth and looked down, saw the meconium oozing out of his diaper and onto my hands. The phone continued to bleat at me and I just stood there in the hallway, grossed out and nonplussed, feeling completely alone and useless.

Balthazar, September 2011
Today, he weighs about 160 lbs, stands at roughly 5’8”, and is hairier than I could ever have imagined.

And he’s still giving me shit.



*This is an updated version of a post I made on the message board of an author whose works I heart, under my other online persona, several years ago.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tagged with The Lucky 7 Meme!

Mina Burrows, blogger and fellow lover of Austen, Stoker, and Poe (and a fellow "Mina," as well!), has tagged me with The Lucky 7 Meme. Thanks for the shout out, lady!

Here's how to order! Uh, I mean...here's how it works. 
  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines as they're written-- no cheating!
  4. Tag 7 other writers
  5. Let them know!
Well, allrighty, then: here are 7 lines from one of my WIPs, a paranormal romance/pseudo-memoir tentatively titled There Are Monsters. Constância, a reluctant 21st century vampire, tries to work through her grief over the loss of her parents by journaling about her drastic transformation during her senior year of high school in 1987. In this snippet, the 7th line on the 77th page is the end of a section, so to give you 7 lines, I had to trip into the next section (and a little into the 8th line, just to complete the thought - don't shoot me!)
Back in Anne’s room I ripped my top off, hung it on the doorknob, and jumped back underneath the bedclothes.  Aching for Tristan, and from whatever the Change was working within me, I rocked myself back to an uneasy sleep.


Mom was a real pleasure to deal with when she picked me up Saturday morning.  Surly, sarcastic, and accusatory by turns, she made the ride from New Rochelle to Mount Vernon only slightly less painful than the bacterium working its way throughout my system.  It took every ounce of self-restraint I possessed (and some I didn’t) to hold my tongue and not lash out at her.
And now for the tagging!

If you've been following along, you'll know I tossed my hat in the ring for Cherie Reich's 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Blogfest this week. My little romantic tale, Mom Guilt, didn't make it to the final round, but I had a blast writing it, as well as meeting other brave and creative bloggers. I thought I'd give props to 7 other participants whose stories I especially enjoyed (click on the red links below to read their groovy, fewer-than-300-words, entries):

I hope you do check them out, as they're all terrific in their own, special ways! And to the good people whom I've tagged - if you've recently been tagged with the Lucky 7 Meme thing and/or you're not up to doing it for the time being, no worries; I really just wanted to showcase your work for this blogfest! :-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My 1st Attempt at Flash Fiction!

Click here for more info!

Author Cherie Reich is currently hosting her 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Blogfest and, in my typically reckless way, I thought, "Wow, I've absolutely no experience with writing flash fiction...so I should totally give it a shot!"

Here are the rules:

1. Entries must begin with the two words: Lightning flashed.

2. Entries must be 300 words or less and be in prose.

3. Entries must be posted on your blog between May 21 - 23.

4. You must sign up in the linky to have your entry be counted.

On May 25, Reich will announce the six finalists and open voting through May 28th.

On May 29th, Reich's third year blogversary, she will announce the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners as well as a random winner selected from the participants list.

There are prizes, y'all! So here's my entry, which I lovingly titled Mom Guilt.

Lightning flashed and I slapped my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming the house down. Nothing like a bit of middle-aged mom guilt to set you on edge, especially in the wee hours of the morning, as you stealthily creep out of someone else’s house.

Mom guilt. Because I finally gave in to all the longing and desire I’d buried in the dank closet of my tortured, tired soul, for so very long... Hah – that sounded like something my thirteen year old might write in her diary. Excuse me – her journal.

In fact, I didn’t feel like a mom at all, but a teen, trying to sneak out without waking her parents. Only, you know, less obnoxious.

“What are you doing?”

I jumped in place and the shoes I carried thunked to the floor. “What the hell do you think? Our kids will get back from that camping trip at eleven, so I’m going home.”

Greg rubbed the sleep from his eyes before crossing his arms. His longish floppy locks, adorably crumpled, were at odds with the serene, soul-searching look in his wise, dark eyes. I felt like I was being turned on by Spock.

“This could be your home.”

Thrilled and terrified, I sputtered, “But, but…our kids! Our exes! Our mortgages, our distinctly complicated lives!”

Lips I’d warmly received only a few hours earlier curved in a smile. “These can all be worked out. You just have to want to.”

My heart surged as nature’s fiery strobe light illuminated us. “And…you want to? Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” He reached for me. “Stay.”

I exhaled slowly, then gave him my trembling hand. “Fine. But I’m not making any promises.”

A gentle tug and he enveloped me. “You already have.”


So, there it is. Hope y'all enjoyed it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pity party...

I'm in a funk, y'all...and not the groovy bass line type, either.

Wanna help? Tell me a joke. Seriously. Sympathy makes me fall to pieces. Crack me up, and I'll thank you.

PS: The "Sick of You" tune isn't meant for any of you, Dear Readers. In fact, blogging and the Blogosphere are among the few things that currently bring me any joy at all.

PPS: Who the hell let that mosquito in my apartment and how the frick am I going to get any sleep tonight, knowing that miserable little, disease-carrying bloodsucker roams free?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kreativ, with a K!

I done been presented with the Kreativ Blogger award! Thanks go to Tracy Makara over at Pull Up a Toadstool for the honor.

The rules of this award are:

1. In a new blog post, thank and link back to the blog of the person who nominated you.

2. In the same post, pass the award on to six other bloggers.

3. Same post, list 10 things folks may not know about you.

So #1's done, and for #2 I've narrowed down my list to the following folks I've "met" through the Blogging From A to Z April 2012 Challenge:
David Macaulay ~ Brits in the USA
"...an irreverent take on all the many things in America that just aren't cricket..."

Jack Edwards ~ Poetry and Other Writing
This dude writes poems like a boss.

Theresa Milstein ~ Theresa's Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts
Writer of YA and middle-grade fiction whose A to Z posts were a fun trip through 80s bands.

Drazen Kozjan ~ Hypnotik Eye
Dig this guy's illustrations of whimsy and horror (and whimsical horror)!

VictorianKitty ~ Sophistique Noir, Dark Fashion for the Mature
I forget how I came across this Goth Fashionista's groovy blog; it wasn't through A to Z, but I'm danged glad I found it!

Absconditus Creations (aka Nikki) ~ Art of a Hidden Heart
Another creator of kooky art that I heart!
(And I'll just give a shout-out to another new A to Z pal, JoJo at Tahoma Beadworks & Photography, who's in Cape Cod and posts scads of gorgeous pics that make me green with envy!)

Now for ten things folks may not know about me:
  1. You know how, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula had to go to "Greek School?" I had to do the Portuguese version of that, all through my third-grade year. (At least; I may have done it through fourth grade, too, but I think my psyche's repressed the memories...)
  2. I was so sheltered by my mom when I was growing up that I didn't have my first kiss till I was about 19.
  3. In spite of the above (or, perhaps, because of it), all through high school I used to write smutty scenarios involving me and my crush du jour and then passed them around to my friends, for comments.
  4. At college, I majored in (among other things) audio engineering, for two years.
  5. I attended my first rock concert at the age of 28 – Duran Duran at Jones Beach, Long Island, NY.
  6. My list of phobias includes, but is not limited to: heights, bridges, traveling over large bodies of water, being underground (like when I ride the subways), being surrounded by throngs of people, and flying.
  7. Despite my mild case of aquaphobia, one of my dreams is to own a beach house like Diane Keaton’s in Something’s Gotta Give (‘cause I love looking at the ocean and hearing the sea breezes rushing past my ears, though the thought of sailing or flying over the middle of the Atlantic makes my stomach hurt).
  8. I have a romanticized attachment to the year 1987, maybe because I was a senior in high school that fall and began tasting the first few hints of the freedom of adulthood. Whatever the case, many of the movies and tunes of that year are very special to me, so much so that I’ve set one of my works-in-progress in the fall of that year.
  9. Generally, poetry doesn’t turn me on, though song lyrics do. Go figure.
  10. Having said that, the work of Pablo Neruda makes me go, “Woof!”

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Make-Up Pick-Me-Up!

Click here for details!
Y'all, we done worked our butts off during this Blogging from A to Z Challenge, didn't we??? For that, I think we-uns deserve a treat!

I got an e-mail from my good friends over at Macy*s - Lancôme's doing a "gift with $35 purchase" promotion over there! It appears to be active online now and in stores as of May 10. This is excellent timing for me, as I'm just about to run out of my moisturizer and, if I'm going to spend a ridiculous sum of simoleons on it, I want to get a little somethin' extra for my trouble.

Disclaimer: I don't work for Macy*s or Lancôme, OK? I'm just sharin' the love. C'mon now, folks; we can't go on together with suspicious minds...


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Reflections on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, April 2012...

Click here to read others' reflections.
...how do you like that for a clunky title? ;-)

Man, did April 2012 kick my ass. My full-time gig demanded all of my energy and head-space (and then some). My Kid's college hunt hit the fever pitch of acceptances and rejections, financial aid worries, and Admitted Students' Dayz Days to attend. And then there was the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Dudes - I'm beat.

I first learned about the Challenge in February and, in my reckless way, signed up almost immediately. I posited in another post that I must be crazy, insane. But maybe a bit of lunacy (OK, a LOT of lunacy) is required to survive the Challenge.

I knew I'd never make it through posting a blog nearly every day in the month of April without a plan. So I first settled on the "Dark Romance of Music" theme. Then I spent the few free moments I had in March picking songs/bands/albums for each letter. I'd hoped to write/schedule some blogs in what was left of of the month by the time I'd selected all the songs, but wound up having just Saturday, March 31 to work with. That weekend, and every other in April, I wrote the following week's blog posts.

I thought writing shorter (for me) posts would be a cinch, but nuh-uh, honey; digging up info on the songs/bands, writing, formatting, and uploading videos took from 45 minutes to an hour, for each post. And then, of course, there was the other part of the Challenge - clicking through the linky-list to visit/read/comment/and sometimes follow other participants' blogs, at least five a day. I did enjoy this part and averaged 15 to 30 blogs a night (I didn't comment on all, but did read at least one post from each). Also, as much as I could, I replied to all the kind comments visitors left on my blog and aimed to visit them all in return.

Did I mention that I was beat?

My Final Thoughts on the Blogging from  A to Z Challenge

  • I learned a lot about self-discipline and sticking to a schedule, both of which aided in increasing my creative output.
  • I've made some new blog buddies, with whom I had a great time (and look forward to hanging with in the Blogosphere in future).
  • My bloggy-blog got WAY more hits than it had previously, and picked up a slew of followers! (Huzzah!)
  • I averaged about 4 - 5 hours of sleep every week night (but, to be fair, that's not just the Challenge's fault).
  • I lost a lot of time visiting folks who weren't doing their part of the A to Z Challenge and yet left their blogs' URLs active on the linky-list. (There; I said it.) (OK, I wrote it, gimme a break.)

Overall impression: I loved it. I'm proud of myself for seeing it through when so much in my life conspired against me (and I'm proud of my fellow bloggers who went through their own crap and still completed the Challenge - kudos, y'all!). I'm stoked about all of my new pals and I'm really glad I did this nutty thing. Will I do it again next year? Well, that depends on whether:
  1. The Mayans (and/or their interpreters) were right, and
  2. I'm still out of my mind.
Which means chances are good that I'll do it again - but I make no promises!

MEANWHILE, because my day job has me on the verge of acute alcoholism, I'd like to propose an official Blogging From A to Z Drinking Game®! (DISCLAIMER: this is NOT a real game. Readers are STRONGLY DISCOURAGED from actually doing this. Please drink responsibly, for heaven's sake!!!!!)

Anyway, as I made my way through the linky-list, I noticed some trends which, I felt, would have been more entertaining with a bit of booze to accompany them. (Or, at least, more tolerable.)

The rules of the Blogging From A to Z Drinking Game® (which is totally NOT a real game) are simple; as you make your way through the linky-list, take a shot of your preferred liquor every time you come across:
  • A blog that’s got Random, Rants, Ramblings, or Musings in its title (or subtitle). (Titles/subtitles with more than one of those words are worth 2 shots. If, God help you, you find one with all four, just keep drinking.)
  • A blogger still requesting word verification of commenters. (For the record, I coulda sworn I’d turned mine off, but…ooops! As soon as I saw it was still on, I axed it. Sorry, y'all. Have a shot on me.)
  • A C entry that’s for Cats, D entry that’s Dogs, X entry that's Xylophone, and/or Z entry that's Zoo.
  • Every H entry that’s for Haiku, only the blogger totally got the basic haiku form wrong.
  • A blogger goes days without posting (or forgets the event’s begun and chimes in well into the alphabet, OR stops posting mid-stream and returns, OR just craps out altogether), saying it's 'cause s/he “got super busy,” BUT TOOK NO STEPS TO REMOVE HIS/HER BLOG LINK FROM THE LIST. (Also worth 2 shots.)
More seriously, folks; I respect the bloggers who simply apologized for being unable to get through the Challenge without reciting a litany of reasons why - they just couldn't do it, and that's that. Fair enough. I know the Challenge hosts were hella busy and made heroic efforts to clean up the linky-list, for which I thank them. The only suggestion I have is to maybe deputize trusted past-Challenge participants and let them aid in the clean up. (Not me!)  ;-)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My 2012 Blogging From A to Z Soundtrack...

Not  being completely stressed out of my head by the rigors of participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge the past few days has felt weird. So I decided to stress myself out some more (because, as has already been noted by me, I am crazy, insane) by building a complete playlist of all the tuneage I blogged about for the Challenge last month on Grooveshark.com, as they've got a nifty embedding tool that would make it easy to plop! a player here on mah bloggy-blog. Only as I built the playlist I realized not all of the tunes were uploaded, which I figured I could resolve by uploading whatever was missing. But when I tried to upload a tune, I couldn't, which was le suck...

So then I built a playlist on YouTube. Only I wasn't able to build a complete playlist as some folks don't cotton to having their vids as part of a playlist.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

SO, I'm embedding both the Grooveshark and YouTube playlists, hoping that if one doesn't have a tune, the other will. (Most annoyingly, I couldn't get Danzig's "Killer Wolf" on either. Gah!)

NB: Some videos/songs contain explicit lyrics and images and may not be safe for work.