Red Head

The only thing holding me back from going red is the upkeep.

I was reminded of this recently when exchanging blog comments with Meghan from Sweat Daily(dot)com. Meghan is a blonde gone red, a runner and a hair stylist, who was kind enough to give me the low down on making the change.

Here was her advice:

“RED is the most high maintenance of all the colors. The reason why is because the red color molecule is soooo large that it has a difficult time getting into the hair shaft. And because of this, it fades very easily. Fading is thought to be a negative aspect, but it can actually be quite positive. Because the hair fades, you have opportunity to try whatever color you desire, and can easily switch it up. For example, you can start out with a more vibrant red that may fade to a ginger or strawberry color.”

Yesterday, as I cruised the Interwebz while re-watching every episode of Girls (and the Boardwalk Empire finale thrown in .. ..cause yes), and I came across an image of two of the most perfect redheads on Earth.

It’s enough to make me reconsider the color.

I’ve written before about my love for Christina Hendricks, but Vivienne Westwood (for the non-fashiony-fans) is a legend; a visionary and icon in the industry. My respect for this woman runs deep.

This photo …

I’m calling my hair girl tomorrow.

M.

Ever dyed your hair a radically different color? Did it stick or did you go back au natural?

Incredible redheads Vivienne Westwood and Christina Hendricks, photographed by Greg Williams.

Original Image Source.

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Seven Types of Ambiguity

A week ago I picked up a book from my bookshelf that had been sitting there for so long I wondered if I’d ever take the leap to read it.

Seven Types of Ambiguity, written by Elliot Perlman, was given to me by my mother (she liked it), but it’s thickness (628 pages) combined with the hard looking black cover made it unappealing enough to leave it where I’d placed it that day she handed it over (passing on books is what we do).

The New Yorker’s quotation on the front paperback calls it, “Compulsively readable.” Newsweek claimed it, “A page turner… dangerous, beguiling fun.”

Having just finished Gone Girl (truly beguiling and fun) and needing a new book (not to mention that the last ten books I’d read were written by women) I decided to give it a go.

The first chapter is a letter to a woman from the psychotherapist of her ex boyfriend (who happened to be so madly in love with her after ten years without her that he had, indeed, gone mad). Complicated by the perspective of the narrator and the tangle of the situation, part one is full of questions for the mysterious woman and clues about the chapters to come.

On page eighteen came a line that I found so truthful and beautiful that considering the source (a man), also a stunning admittance.

The line read;

What is it about men that makes women so lonely?

Part two is written from the perspective of a different man; the husband of the woman for whom chapter one was written. As the story continues there is a kidnapping and a big money deal to purchase Australian hospitals and frightening examples of mental illness and the most truthful account of a marriage in trouble I have ever read.

It is Webster’s definition of ambiguous; unclear, inexact because a choice hasn’t been made.

My usual one hundred page cut off (when I put a book down and accept it wasn’t written for me) has passed, but I’m struggling with the urge to put it down.

Yet I keep reading.

Is it the brilliance of the writer (and his elaborate plan) to take me down this road; to confuse me and tempt me with bits that make sense next to bits that don’t?

It very well might be, so I will keep on and of course keep you posted.

Have you read Seven Types of Ambiguity? Do you find you read more books from one sex or the other? Aside from the obvious, what is it about men and women that makes their writing feel so different? 

XOM

Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman. The original book of the same name was published in 1930, written by William Empson. Perlman makes reference to the original, but I haven’t yet figured out the significance (other the the fact that both books share the name).

Written Rejection

Having just this morning received my very first “writing job” rejection letter, one might think I’d be feeling blue.

But as any successful writer knows, rejection is a part of the game.

So is perseverance and of that I have an abundance.

It got me wondering, though, what is it about being rejected that usually hurts so much and why aren’t I all that bothered that this one didn’t work out?

Obviously being rejected means that something about you isn’t good enough, not right, not what they were looking for.

The comment on my canned rejection letter said this,

“We base our criteria for acceptance on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, quality of writing and knowledge of topic.”

Well, well. Quality and knowledge.

Back to perseverance.

Off to write something real.

Have you been rejected from writing jobs? How did you go about creating a career in writing? If perseverance is necessary, is a full-time job with insurance also equally important? 

XOM

Write

Me versus I ~ A Lesson

I hate to be a snoot, I just really like proper grammar.

More specifically, I have trouble with the improper use of the pronouns me versus I.

There’s something about the nature of this one that gets my grammar panties in a bunch. It is a lazy error made much too often.

Apparently, Ms. Gillian Flynn (author of the novel Gone Girl) also has a problem with the misunderstood grammatical rule as her character (Amy) makes reference to it many times in the book. If you’ve read the book, let’s just assume it’s the only characteristic Amy and I share…not Amy and me share… Amy and I.

Here’s an example of proper usage:

Gillian and I like grammar.

Yes. Leave out Gillian, and I like grammar.

Incorrect usage:

Gillian Flynn and me believe in proper usage.

Forget that it bugs Ms. Flynn. Me believe in proper usage? Well, yes, but no. No. No. No.

It’s so easy and trust me, people will want to hug you if you get stuck mid sentence and need a chance to work it out.

Better to do it right than have grammaristas all over the world fussing with their bunched up underpants, or worse, close out your blog post without making it to the end.

XOM

A Good Day

Saturday morning began with my running group the WannaBeasts (10.5 minutes per mile) and eight sweaty miles through the greenway around Shelly Lake, behind Crabtree Valley Mall. There was ninety-eight percent humidity and while it felt like running through soup, it was fast and easy (even downright pleasant) thanks to the conversation with my partner Nancy (whom I’d just met) and the energy of the team.

Afterward, instead of heading home to shower, I drove to Peachie’s for one last visit to her empty house and to drop off the baby clothes that the girls had gathered from their closet the day before (during their own packing session for Maine).

“It’s too small, it goes in the baby pile!”

I sat in Peachie’s back yard drenched in sweat and snot (my poor skirt had served as kleenex on the trail) and watched squirrels in pine trees pull branches from limbs and scurry away. I wondered if this is how they collected their nuts. I reminded myself that I loathe squirrels, especially after they had taken refuge in my attic a few years ago.

I called my sister and we talked.

I called my Peach and we talked even more.

When I couldn’t stand the dried sweat a second longer I left for home, driving and listening to the radio stations that are playing the same songs on rotation this Summer. I know all of the words.

I showered and threw on a typically scary post run outfit; a comfy bra, white and purple stretchy shorts that say, “I heart Saints,” a washed blue KBIA t-shirt that I intentionally cut down the front and unintentionally ripped under the arm, and bright pink CEP compression calf sleeves I’d received in the mail the day before.

I don’t like to match my clothes post run. The more mismatched I look the better I feel. I’m pretty sure that most runners feel the same way about their recovery outfits. It’s not mentioned much, but take a look at most running blogger’s post run photos and it becomes obvious. It might even be an unsaid qualification for calling oneself a runner.

As happens after a good medium to long run I was tired. I shuffled around the house until I couldn’t bring myself to shuffle anymore and by 3:00 curled up on the sofa with the girls for an episode of Sponge Bob.

I promptly fell asleep.

Grace soon nudged me and said that she was tired, too, and surprisingly both girls followed me upstairs where we crawled into their beds. Unexpected as neither girl has taken a nap since 2010. When I woke and realized that it was 7:00 p.m., I knew there’d be a long night ahead.

We came downstairs where Brian had made dinner and had it waiting on the kitchen bar; cheeseburgers, french fries and onion rings.

I cut up some lettuce and tomato and made plates of food that we took outside to eat by tiki lamps.

The girls were happy. Their dad and I were civil. We talked about a friend of a friend who at thirty-eight had just died from Frontal Lobe Dementia. There was a silent acceptance that this life is too short and that happiness is imperative. The girls laughed as their stuffed puppies “tried” to eat from the plates of food. The family unit was working as it should all the time.

With renewed energy I decided to tackle the packing that waited for me; my empty suitcases left for last.

I tucked my iPhone into my bra after pressing play on my audiobook version of Wild. As I gathered my running clothes and bathing suits I listened to the chapter about Cheryl’s mother’s horse named Lady and how she had become old. With her mother gone, she knew that she needed to tend to the horse.

The heartbreaking account of what came next made the placement of items into my luggage slow and deliberate. I listened while folding my piles and piles of must haves, acting out my work while my heart swelled and pounded from the depth of the pain I was hearing.

For two hours I continued; Cheryl’s journey on the Pacific Coast Trail and my journey through my stuff.

I have much too much. As I looked around at the things I knew I’d need and then back to the closet for the things that I might need and into the extra closets for things I never wear but probably need, I felt overwhelmed and a little disgusted.

I listened to Cheryl talk about Monster, the name for the pack she carried on her back, and wished that I could lessen my reliance on consumerism, so that all I needed was a pack and my kids. If only that could be enough.

When it became too overwhelming I decided to leave the mess to which I will return to today.

I sat on the master bed and continued with the story while gazing at the mound of fabrics and colors, pants and tunics, hats and necklaces, bathing suits and skirts. Underpants will go in last.

I connected to Cheryl’s feelings about her writing. How she’d always written, but the unattained dream of writing her own novel had left her disappointed and embarrassed. She wrote about making the decision to make it happen.

Remembering how I felt when reading the Hunger Games, how I liked the author and appreciated her words seemingly written for me, I added Cheryl Strayed to my list of imaginary friends. I might not understand a lot of what she went through on the PCT, but I certainly relate to her life as a writer and a woman.

By 10:30 the house was dark and bedtime was near. The girls brushed their teeth and chose their bedtime books. I imagined that I’d get them to sleep and then sneak away for some alone time, to ponder my day and plan the next. But instead, I just lay between my daughters thinking.

In two days we’ll be back at the beach that has been home for thirty five years. I will see my friends who have known me my entire life. I’ll see the newest babies and write by the sound of the sea.

Instead of sneaking away I closed my eyes and listened to the breathing of my girls, while hoping for a future that looked a lot like this day.

A day of sweat and books. Of food and fun. Introspection and civility. A life with purpose, happiness, respect, restful naps, laughs, and possibly less in the way of stuff.

All things are possible.

With that I fell to sleep. The best sleep I’ve had in ages.

The WannaBeasts at the start. Forty runners at the same pace is an unbelievable experience!
CEP calf sleeves in pink. I think I had them on backward and so I turned them around later in the day. I realize I haven’t written a “gear post” in ages. On my feet, Ipanema flip flops, my choice for this Summer. Under my feet a Dash and Albert exterior washable rug. Geez. Look at that! My consumerism in full effect!
The girls stack of traveling books. I like that they put A Good Day by Kevin Henkes on the top. I promise this wasn’t staged. I named the post after seeing the book tower and realizing it was exactly what I was writing about. 
My packing mess. Brian is going to take the girls out later today so that I can focus. Underneath that pile are neatly folded running clothes and beach things. I can thank Cheryl Strayed for that.
I downloaded Wild to listen to when I ran. I liked it so much I pinned it on my Pinterest page, which resulted in a signed copy of the book at my front door. Pretty neat if you ask me!
Good Day, Good Day
A Good Day found on Pinterest (uploaded by Brianna Hope). Fitting, wouldn’t you say?

Hiatus Shmiatus

A hiatus from old style blogging must be maintained, but new and future blog posts must be shorter, easier, to the point.

My social media realm feels incomplete without the pink bordered Mommyland page, so I’ll take the lead from other successful bloggers and focus less in the way of words.

Words must be saved for the novel. Dare I say novels?

My book has progressed and stories have been put down, though much too unorganized as characters keep forming and situations twist into each other.

My voice is clear; a comforting sign.

But the task to organize is harder than it seems. It feels a lot like your mother telling you to clean your room.

I whine, “But why? I’ll do it later!”

I’ve started to think about a sweet and easy love story. A story that blooms like new love and flows by the seat of my flowered board shorts.

We leave for Maine in about a week. Summer sun and wind that pulls the sound of laughing children to our front door does not call for serious writing. It calls for a story of a boy and a girl and lazy days and hearts aflutter.

Maybe the anthropologically tough stuff should wait for Fall?

My girls pilfered the book shelf while I was out running yesterday and left my reading assignments all over the house. They do this sometimes. I view their choices as research guided to me by my messy makers and the pull of our Universe; published works that have put their authors on best seller lists.

And so it continues; writing, reading, blogging, pinning, tweeting, cooking, laundry, husband managing, children tending, packing, kissing, yelling, tidying, yoga, running, running, running.

Toes tipping in all areas remembering that balance is key.

Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell. The stories of dating and looking for love in 1990’s Manhattan. Funny considering I was there in the 90’s, but all I was looking for was myself.
Corelli’s Mandolin found next to the purple pillow pet. Louis de Bernieres book is described as a classic novel full of love, loss, war, truth. Deep. Much too deep for now.

A Blogging Hiatus

Dear Blog,

I love you. I love writing you and finding pictures that match you. I like to share you and respond to comments from your readers. You are so much a part of me; good and bad, light and dark, brave and foolish.

But Summer has arrived stealing my time. Important things need attention that you just don’t allow.

My book wants to be written.

My kids need more care.

Magazine articles are begging to be finished and I’ve left them hanging.

Maine is coming and you know how that goes; busy, busy, busy, all the time busy.

I’m going to have to let you rest for a while. It’s not easy, but I must prioritize.

I’ll miss seeing your daily bar graph and images of the countries that inhabit the people who read you.

I’ll have to shake the habit of sitting to express every bloggy thought. I must focus my writing in other areas; quiet places that don’t offer as much support and connectedness to like-minded individuals, but in the long run will bring me closer to the goals that my spirit needs to grow bigger wings.

I hope you are not forgotten.

I won’t forget you or the people I’ve shared you with.

I’ll be back now and then. I can’t abandon you completely. Where else could I write my thoughts about 50 Shades and how I figured out the formula and why it works and what it means to marriage.

See that? See how every thought has the potential to turn into a blog post and then I write and edit and publish and the day is gone and the kids are hungry and the articles sit quiet and the book remains a paragraph waiting here in Mommyland’s archives? I’ve got to step back and think for a while without using you.

It’s not you. It’s me.

It’s not “Goodbye,” it’s, “See you soon!”

You’ve changed my world and helped me grow.

Thank you. Thank you.

Sincerely and with the most love,

M.

S.Klein  breaking up
Steven Klein photo of a break up.
Take a break
factsaboutyou via highdime.
Next on the book reading list.
Pinned Image
Owl Always Love You pinned by Heather Thimsen

The Voice

Considering how much I despised the first five chapters of 50 Shades of Grey, it’s surprising (especially to me) how enraptured I became with the story.

It would be easy to assume that the highly sexual story line is what reeled me in and in all honesty it did add an element that kept me interested, noticeable by my sizeable smile and simultaneous open jaw sitting on the floor.

I knew my view had turned when I went from solely listening in my Yurbuds while heading out to run, to carrying my phone in my bra so that I could push play every time the kids left the room. I became hooked. Desperate to know what was next. Eager for the ride and excited for the journey.

In any language and on any continent this kind of reaction is motivation for a writer. Being so beguiling that the reader can’t put you down is the essence of the job; the goal. No one wants to write a snore.

When I was teaching fourth grade writing, we often spoke about the difference between telling the story and showing the story; the goal was always the showing.

In 50 Shades, so much was told using the same words et nausea that the writing appear labored and simple, even when the words themselves were sophisticated (thesaurus usage can be deadly).

How many times was she going to say his mouth fell in a hard line? How often did we need to be told that she had an inner goddess who hid behind chairs and sofas and under blankets? Yes, I understand he looked at her speculatively and with grey eyes. Biting her bottom lip? Got it. The symbol for the power struggle

But it may have been E.L. James’ master plan. Her brilliance as a writer being kept secret  until she was ready to share.

The choice to make Anastasia’s voice so repetitive was in direct opposition to the voice that was exposed when her innocence was being challenged.

This was where the real beauty of the writing came alive and convinced me of Ms. James’ true talent in the authoring department.

Granted, the scenes in the red room of pain, the bondage, the frightened girl who became totally immersed and connected in the moments of her fear revealed deep emotion mixed with gut wrenching descriptiveness highlighting some really glorious writing.

It was enough to make me forgive those wasted first chapters. Maybe they weren’t wasted after all.

Last night I started to read The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.

Four pages in, I have a picture of Aibileen. Through the story showing and Aibileen’s dialogue (shortened sentence structure, double negatives and misplaced use of words) I have an idea of who she is. I like her immediately. Read the first four pages and you’ll like her, too. Kathryn Stockett created a new and interesting character with a voice I want to hear.

I should probably apologize to Ms. James for my initial incertitude toward to her book. I still wish she hadn’t used the C word so much and feel like s.h.i.t would have been just as appropriate. It would have saved me from my personal challenge to count the word in question, pulling me out of the story thirty two times, give or take a few.

I went to be last night working out the first lines (of one of my books) that will be written  in it’s own time.

It will go something like this…

I was handed to my mother three days after I was born. Wrapped in a pink blanket she carefully pulled me from the hands of the lawyer, anxious to leave before Loretta had a chance to change her mind. I was bald and pretty, despite the ears that were far too big for my head. My brown eyes looked up at my new mother, whose own brown eyes matched mine exactly.

I couldn’t have known then what I learned all those years later. That my beginning was a gift and that I was saved.

I couldn’t have known the truth. I wouldn’t have believed it had come written in ink and pinned to my clothes.

I was the lucky one.

My older sisters, just two and three, waited in a run down house halfway across town as I was being given away. They knew nothing of me. They knew not of their mothers’ illness. They didn’t have a chance. Weren’t granted even a molecule of a future.


50 Shades, Oh No She Didn’t!

*Please be advised that as soon as I hit the publish button I will race straight to Gravatar and change my rating to a PG-13. If you like my blog, but don’t like naughty words, just go ahead and skip this post. I would hate to offend anyone, but sometimes certain things must be said!

I wasn’t going to run this morning until I remembered that I used a credit on audible.com and had downloaded 50 Shades of Grey.

There’s been a lot of controversy about the book for it’s saucy portrayal of an innocent and her seducer and has apparently been making wives blush from sea to shining sea.

I haven’t begun blushing.

Instead, I spent my six and a half mile run totally distracted, counting the number of times the word “crap” had been used.

Let me preface this by saying that it’s my mother’s fault for my utter distain with the word. She loathes it more than I. It’s ugliness and overuse has caused her eyes to roll back in her head for long as I can remember. Sometimes if it’s not one thing it’s your mother, but in this case I have to agree with her.

Why is that word used so freely when other words with the same meaning are not deemed appropriate for daytime television?

Why is it any better than the litany of other swear words that mean the same thing?

Was there not another word E.L. James could come up with?

Don’t think I am a prude. Those who know me will agree that I have a very trained potty mouth. I am a big fan of that word that starts with F. I don’t have a single problem with the B one and even anal doesn’t make me cringe.

I particularly like them strung together as in “Fucking anal bitch!”

See. Words have power.

Are we devolving as a society by not objecting when this word is used so commonly that newscasters throw it around, too? Kids in school think it’s okay. Afternoon Disney programming uses is often.

By the middle of chapter three hated word number one was said ten times.

It’s my hope that when I finish the book it remains in my memory for its much talked about story line and not the for the number of times an ugly word was used to portray oomph.

Oh, I do hope so. It would be such a shame otherwise!

Grey, grey, grey.
From Pinterest.
grey grey grey
Cute Grey Boots.
grey, grey grey!
Blankets in Shades of Grey.

A Booky Wook

I’ve been thinking a lot about my book; the novel I’m going to begin sometime within this year.

I want to write a joint memoir, the story of my sister and me, but I’m not sure that we are ready. The story of our bond, of our separation through adoption, and the healing that came when she found me is complicated and painful and joyous.

But the story is not just ours. There are others who may be hurt by what they read. While it will not be my intention to do so, the truth can sting, especially when it reveals itself to those who don’t want to hear it; to those who don’t want to believe it.  I don’t know that I am ready to cross a bridge that’s lined with people I love; some of whom I’ve only just met.

If I know anything, it’s that timing is everything. My sister found me when the timing was right. Any sooner and I may not have been receptive. Any later and I wouldn’t have had a chance to speak to my dying birth mother.

My marathon is now eight weeks away. As my training amps up and the clock ticks closer to March 18th I realize that I must have a plan for where to go once it’s over.

I have contemplated another marathon, in fact I put my name in the pot for NYC 2012 and have pondered the idea of running San Francisco. With my body already begging for a rest, the “whole me” knows that the next challenge will have to be less physically taxing. My mind needs to set itself upon the next challenge, so that I can remain focused on the now. It’s just how I operate.

I’ve begun to imagine a story and (at night when it’s quiet) it’s begun to flesh itself out.

There is a heroine, though her name hasn’t yet appeared. Her story will not be mine. She’ll be a person all her own, but will come from the place that I have always considered home: a place called Maine.

A booky wook. The next chapter in my own life’s adventure.