Monday, April 21st, 2014 | Author:

3383af5aac2e00c735ffd0295d7e4e6eI was on the road the other day, driving incognito (which is my fancy way of saying I was driving my husband’s Camry instead of my customary minivan) and minding my own business when I noticed the car in front of me weaving. That distracted tilt-a-whirl jerking back into the middle after drifting off to either side weaving I’m sure everyone has seen before.

Simple curiosity urged me to catch up to the weaver in the other lane, and that’s when I saw it. A tan, skinny arm. A bright green phone at the end of it. All of which connected to a teenage girl wearing aggressive aviators and looking up every once in awhile at the road.

There’s nothing quite as comforting as knowing there’s a teenage driver in an SUV who’s paying scant attention to the road.

I decided the safest place was behind her, so I merged back and was treated to a satisfying variety plate of dangerous driving behaviors. She changed lanes without using her blinker, cut people off, sped up to at least 50 mph in a 35 mph area, changed lanes in an intersection, and then, to top it off, took the carpool on-ramp onto the freeway even though she was riding solo.

It was impressive how much she was able to accomplish in such a short length of road. She must have finished texting.

I’ll admit, I really, badly, wanted to pull a Dwight Schrute and put a cherry bulb on the roof of my car so I could pull her over and make a citizen’s arrest. Or, at the very least, browbeat her soundly for making teenage drivers everywhere look bad.

Instead, I kept a prudent distance and said a quick prayer for everyone on the road with her. Egads.

Is it wrong to hope a police officer pulls her over soon, and then fines her double when she attempts to cry her way out of multiple tickets?

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Monday, April 14th, 2014 | Author:

captain-america-2-poster-fullWes and I had the pleasure of seeing Captain America 2 last week. I’m happy to say that we, along with 99.8% of the other people who have seen the movie already, really enjoyed it. Excellent pacing, plenty of intrigue, and some breathlessly intense scenes that were tremendously satisfying.

This may sound weird, but I really appreciate how much of a darn the writers of the Marvel movies seem to give about their movies. Given the fan momentum and merchandising revenue they’ve already accrued, they could easily phone in a half-baked, lazy contrivance of a movie and people would still fork over money to see it.

Instead, they’re being really bold with their story lines and taking some risks. The new Captain America movie proves that you can’t take anything for granted in the Marvel universe, which I find refreshing.

It’s funny, the more I write, the more I notice about the structure of story telling. Much like an architect can probably get a good sense of what a building’s blueprint looks like just by looking at the finished product, I can see a story’s bones as I watch it unfurl. I think this skill makes it even more satisfying to watch a good story told well.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, go see the new Captain America movie if you haven’t already. It’s well worth the money. Here’s hoping that when you do go see it, the people behind you decide to leave their six year old kid at home. Seriously, why are there little kids at a violent movie like this???

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Monday, April 07th, 2014 | Author:
They were these, only bright green. Note the cuffs on the ankles, which somehow manage to make them worse.

They were these, only bright green. Note the cuffs on the ankles, which somehow manage to make them worse.

I was at Nordstrom over the weekend and happened to be passing by the hosiery section when something caught my eye. Something bright. Something…unnatural.

Bright Green.

Floral print.

Pajama.

Overalls.

None of these nouns or adjectives are pejorative in or of themselves, but together? So strange. So odd. So unnecessary.

I mean, it’s possible they weren’t pajamas. They were in the pajamas section, so I made an assumption, but it’s possible they were just parked there on their way to…the circus section? I don’t know. I can’t imagine an instance where that garment is au courant¬†outside the context of a circus. A festive, overpriced circus.

In non-sartorial news, I passed by an ex-boyfriend at the selfsame Nordstrom (though thankfully not in the Hosiery section). We did that thing where we recognized each other, then looked away real fast and pretended we didn’t because neither one of us had any interest in the awkward stop-and-chat. And oh, it would have been. Awkward, that is.

He and I did not part on friendly terms. I would have been perfectly content to have never seen him ever again, and yet, there he was. Yikes. This is the problem with living in the same neighborhood where you went to high school. There are exes and memories all over the darn place.

At least I could take comfort in knowing that I was with my daughter, who is delightful, and I was wearing makeup. I once crossed paths with a sort-of ex while I was 1,000 months pregnant and wearing sweats and a ratty t-shirt with no makeup and let me tell you, that is not how I’d like to be remembered as a grown-up. Still, he was really sweet so, y’know, I didn’t spend too much time worrying about it.

Let this be a lesson to you: If you live in the same area where you went to high school, or are visiting, always look presentable when you leave the house. Exes are frigging everywhere.

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Monday, March 31st, 2014 | Author:

I was having an email conversation with a friend of mine about this essay, “On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs” by Dave Grossman, who wrote the incredible book, “On Killing.”

The gist of the essay can be summed up as such:

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

It was, in my opinion, an interesting read. It makes a lot of sense, until you start pushing the metaphor until it breaks, as I am wont to do. It got me thinking about whether any of these types is capable of change. If so, were they really the first kind to begin with?

Sam-n-RalphFor example, a sheep is genetically different than a wolf. Obviously, right? But could a sheep, if thrust into the right set of circumstances, become a wolf or a sheepdog? If so, was the sheep ever a sheep to begin with?

I know admittedly little about the heights of violence possible when a person is backed into a corner (thank God) but I kind of feel like the potential for violence is possible in everyone, particularly in instances of self defense. Or in the defense of one’s children (which is, I would argue, by virtue of the parent/child bond, an extension of the parents’ selves).

So, this is where I push the metaphor until it breaks. In nature, obviously, the line between a sheep and a wolf is extremely clear. Wolves never act like sheep, sheep never act like wolves, and the sheepdog is a domesticated version bred for a specific purpose.

In the metaphor, however, I have to wonder whether the lines are that hard and fast. My friend, during the course of our conversation, mentioned that the line between a wolf and a sheepdog isn’t a bright one. Sometimes, a person with wolf-like tendencies will put him/herself in the position of being a sheepdog so as to stay out of prison. In that case, the line between the two is extremely dim.

Still, I would say I fall squarely in the sheep camp. I’m a stay at home mother, I’m a productive member of society, I seek peace whenever and wherever possible. Sheep, sheep, sheep.

And yet, I feel like I would easily throw down if anyone ever threatened myself or my kids (I don’t include Wes here because he can handle himself). Any time I see a dog growl at my kids, or think about how I would handle things if I was assaulted, I imagine some decidedly non-sheeplike behavior. I mean, come on. I wrote espionage fiction. I’ve written enough fight scenes at this point I’m starting to run out of creative ways to say “punched in the face.” I’ve always been on the aggressive side for a sheep (and I say aggressive meaning, ‘Don’t mess with me.’ I’m not a violent person).

My question then is this: Is there a sheepdog in every sheep, or are sheep capable of violence only in the service of self defense? Or, am I not a sheep at all but, rather, a very maternal, lazy sheepdog?

What about you? Sheep, sheepdog, or wolf?

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Thursday, March 27th, 2014 | Author:
Just one of many gems from her review. Image courtesy of Patents Patented.

Just one of many gems from her review. Image courtesy of Patents Patented.

When you’re an author, you toe a fine line between telling everyone your book is out and being that annoying person who is only capable of talking about her book and asking you whether you’ve had time to read it. No one likes that person.

When Blood Money came out last year, I asked a friend of mine from high school if she’d review it. She writes a hilarious, raunchy blog populated by homemade Microsoft Paint illustrations and I thought it’d be fun to see what she came up with.

Then, I left her alone. Because we’re busy people and I figured she’d get around to it when she was darn good and ready.

Today was that day. And oh my gosh, I need to have her review every single one of my books for now until forever because I laughed so hard I cried a little.

Seriously, this is not hyperbole, you need to stop whatever you’re doing and read this review. Right now. Don’t pay that bill, or answer that call, or have that baby, or whatever it is you’re doing right now. Just read this review.

You can find it here. My friend’s name is Jamie, and she’ll totally review your book too. Though for you she might charge money.

Seriously. Go read it. Read it and laugh forever.

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