rules thirdI have two adult daughters and an almost twelve-year-old. My middle daughter, nineteen, was complaining because her sister got everything at a younger age than she did: cell phone (she needs it for basketball practice!), later bedtime, social media, and now crazy hair color.

That’s right. I’m letting my almost-twelve-year-old dye her hair purple. I think it’ll help her burgeoning self-esteem. It’s typical at this age to feel like the whole world is staring at you. So why not put her best face forward and, pardon the expression, let her freak flag fly?

My nineteen-year-old has blue hair. She has for a couple of years and, at this point, it’s her business. She pays for it herself (she’s in cosmetology school, so it basically costs her the dye), and she’s an adult. None of my business what she does with her hair.

The thing is, I realize some parents will think I have a lax code for raising my last child. Oh, she’s done all that and just isn’t worried about anything because she’s tired of raising kids, I imagine people thinking. And, I bet, some of them are. People can be terribly judgmental.

Nothing could be further from the truth. For one, I’m not sick of raising kids. I adore my children and being a parent has been the greatest privilege of my life. Second, I have a degree in social and behavioral science. Not only did I study child development in college, it was a good portion of the social work exam (which I aced, thank you very much).

At her age, it’s normal to just want to be invisible. And she did that last year. She didn’t want people looking at her so much that she struggled in school. Don’t look too smart, don’t read in front of the class, don’t excel at anything. And I get it. It’s normal.

But, now? Now she wants to be an individual. And if a purple pixie cut is her way of doing that, then I will pay whatever it costs, including judging looks from other parents, to let her do that.

People will say I let her run wild. She has rules, and I promise you, she is NOT a rule-breaker. But, you know what? I’m kind of hoping she does run a little wild. I didn’t discover myself until my late twenties because I needed a chance to run a little wild. I’d prefer she not have to go through that.

If she can figure out who she is while she’s still young, she has a much better chance at being happy. And I’m all about that.

Have you ever made choices that made people call into question your judgment? Click To Tweet

I’d love to hear about it! Tweet me, leave a message on the FB page, or comment here to let me know.



2014-09-26_01_56_290001I finished reading Prince Lestat a few weeks ago and while there weren’t a ton of dating tips, there was enough of a romance (human, no less) for me to glean some advice.

Dating Advice from Prince Lestat

  1. It’s helpful if your vampire father, who doesn’t know you exist, randomly saves and raises a human female who is both incredibly sheltered and had more bad stuff happen to her than anyone else in the history of ever.
  2. Don’t date your professors. Don’t date crazy men. Don’t date narcissists. This is all one tip because that was all the same guy. Also: avoid Drano.
  3. Human beings don’t fly. Not a dating tip, but come on.
  4. You may be too smart for your girlfriend if she doesn’t know tip three but you manage to escape two super powerful vampires by wits alone.
  5. You should both become vampires? Why the hell not. I’m out of advice here. Clearly, this was not my favorite coupling.

Tweet: “Dating Advice from Prince Lestat. Not the smartest couple in the history of literature: Rose and Viktor.”

wpid-wp-1416198092250.jpegI didn’t finish The Goldfinch. No disrespect to Donna Tartt intended, but I couldn’t do it. Obviously, some people thought this was the best book released in 2013. I really tried, too. But, when I, who read the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire in about two months, realized that I had read only ten percent of the book in ten days,  I also realized life is just too short. There were books out there I would devour. Several, in as many days.

The internet is all abuzz about whether or not one should finish the books one starts thanks to this article in The Atlantic. I used to sit firmly in the finish camp. If people got badges for hanging with books turned sour for the reader, I’d have a house full. It was a point of pride. “Why, yes, I can count on one hand the number of times that I stopped reading a book before The End.”

I mean, growing up, books weren’t just laying around, waiting to be read. I combed through discards of my family for anything at all to read. Books had weight and value. I love books. As I’ve gotten older, and I buy my own books, you’d think they’d have more value. I have to actually pay for them. With money that I worked to earn. I’m a strong believer that a person values something they have to work to get.

But, as life got busy, and I spent my time raising kids and working to earn my book money, I realized time also had value. Quite a lot of value, actually. And, then, one day I gave myself permission to quit books. I read avidly. I love reading. And life is too short to not enjoy every word I consume. I’ll never get to read all the books I’d like to read. In fact, I read an article recently to the effect that while access to books has increased exponentially, with the popularity of e-readers, free books, and the evolving self-publishing industry, the one thing that hasn’t increased is the time people have to read. Days won’t ever be any longer than 24-hours.

So, this quote from the article I mentioned earlier doesn’t ring true for me.

If you consider yourself a literary person, you shouldn’t just embrace the intellectual cachet that starting books gives you. Starting, but not finishing, books is one step above saying, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that author.”

In fact, it sounds more like the opinion of an author who would really like you to hang in there rather than a reader. I realize I may be reading entirely too much into that. I should note, I don’t consider myself a “literary person” or care about “intellectual cachet.” I’m deeply in love with words, both the reading and writing of them.

I know people who still finish all the books they pick up. Avid readers, just like me, who respect their love of books too much to miss a single word. I suppose it’s the same love of all the words I could be reading that motivates me, as well.

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic.

Tweet: Why I Don’t Finish All the Books

Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: zdelia.

Last night, my oldest daughter was looking for an episode of Black Butler (an anime show). This is how the conversation went:

C: How do you spell terrorist?

Me: What? I’m not telling you how to spell terrorist… Two Rs then one R. (Note: the you-know-what will now monitor my site for the next five years or so).

C: But… I don’t know the rest.

Me, assuming she’s a smart kid, she can get the -ist ending: You can’t spell a word that consists of 6 letters and half of them are R?

C: If you write that word in school, you get ten days detention. I’ve never written it.

Me: Just watch. In ten years, something will happen, and journalists will all be sitting around the room, asking someone to spell terrorist, because they weren’t allowed to learn.

But, seriously? A word is banned from school? From being learned? Do they think if they don’t write it, no one can grow up to become it? Because terrorists don’t think they’re terrorists. (I am so going on a watch list somewhere.) They think they’re good people, righting wrongs, or punishing the evildoers, or some other naive and fanciful and ridiculous thing. But they don’t think they’re the bad people.

It just smacks of 1984 andNewspeak–and I’m not okay with that. We need all the words. We need all of them because people will always do terrible things, and without the words, how do we shine a light on that?

“It just smacks of 1984 and Newspeak–and I’m not okay with that. We need all the words.” ~ Click to Tweet

Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: Sebastian Danon.

So, it’s anti-bullying month and today is Unity Day, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. This is an issue I feel strongly about, so I’m blogging today to share my experiences.

I don’t specifically remember being bullied in school. I know I had low self-esteem, and I was overweight, and if people were mean to me about that, I guess I sort of believed I deserved it. So, maybe I was and people didn’t talk about it.

I remember once a friend of my cousin and a family member (of hers) visiting from out of town rode by me. I was, maybe, eight. We all rode bicycles then. Small town and you could go out all day, come home for dinner, and no one worried. As they passed me, this boy said, “Move it, Miss Piggy.” It hurt, of course. But, worse, it shamed me. I remember going home for dinner, and my dad telling me how pretty I was and all the boys would be after me soon (as dads do), and wanting to keep it from him, so I wouldn’t disappoint him. I remember swallowing around the lump in my throat, struggling to keep the tears from falling. If I cried, they’d ask why. What parent wouldn’t? And I was too ashamed that I’d made someone say that, to call me fat, to hurl an insult at me like I didn’t matter.

I remember the summer before I started high school, I was at a friend’s house with my best friend. This boy, a sophomore, had called his brother and spoke to me on the phone. And later, I picked up the phone to call my mom to come get me, and I heard the brother tell him how huge my thighs were and he didn’t want to waste time talking to me. And I was hurt. And I hated myself, for not being thin and perfect. I deserved to be minimalized, because I couldn’t magically make myself a better me.

I remember in my twenties, after years of not-good-enough and you’d-be-so-pretty-if-you-lost-that-weight that I got mad. It took me twenty-eight years to get angry. It took me twenty-years to realize that if it hadn’t been my weight, it would’ve been my nose, or my hair, or my clothes, or the books I always read. Because mean people just want to be mean.

If we could change ourselves, be more thin, or prettier, or less socially awkward, or more straight–it wouldn’t matter. And, really, why would you want to? To shut up the voices that say you’re not good enough? They don’t get to decide that. The truth is, only you get to decide that.

So, please, if you take anything from this and you are being bullied, say something. It does matter. It isn’t okay. You don’t deserve it. You are awesome. Exactly the way you are. You wake up tomorrow, and you rock that day as you. Perfectly, deeply, brilliantly you. Click To Tweet And, the next day, do the same thing. Those people will fall away. They’ll matter less. Your parents or a teacher will help you. Somebody loves you more than the air they breathe. Let that be enough, for now. And tomorrow, try to love yourself just as much.

@WhenALionSleeps and @thegoodbloggess inspired me to blog about this topic. Visit Rachel @ When a Lion Sleeps, Let it Sleep and write your own!


Thanks to the wonderful Penrefe‘s advice, I filled out a “DCMA NOTIFICATION: Copyright Infringement Report” after I finally, and I mean like six hours of finally, found the host of the offending site. (The original post on this topic can be found here.)

Within a few hours of my notification, the entire site had been suspended. Today, when I went back to the offending post, it’s gone.

Someone did something wrong. And I stood up for myself. And it worked out. #piracy Click To Tweet

Is it sad, because that happens so rarely, I’m actually shocked?

But, also thrilled. And, because I love you, I will compare the stolen, disfigured text to my own.

Read More →

How it feels when someone steals your words.A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post. I’m not going to tell you which one because… okay, let me tell the story first.

So, a post. I publish it and it’s not even about anything (as usual). It’s not even one of my posts that people occasionally find useful (like the one on Kindlefeeder, or The Hero’s Journey in Clash of the Titans, or some of the writing posts). The day after I published it, I caught a weird pingback in my spam filter. I get those all the time when I link to one of my older posts but this one wasn’t from me. But, it was my words in the little sample that shows up.

When I clicked it, I found a beauty site (beauty, people–how many times have I blogged about that, I ask you) that had copied my entire post whole without any attribution whatsoever. The links within the post still pointed to my site (hence the spam filter pingback). Worse, most of the site, other than my post, was in another language. I know that copyright laws aren’t enforced in many countries, so I knew a report to the host would probably not yield a result.

So, I emailed the person. Nothing happened. Then, I left a moderated (and, so far, unapproved) comment on the site and told them that they’d copied my post in whole without any attribution, that I would make a complaint to Google which may or may not affect their search results. And some other things I couldn’t really back up. Because, seriously, what am I going to do about a post on a blog I don’t make any money from?

Don’t misunderstand me, I know it’s wrong. I felt strangely violated that someone had stolen my words, my thoughts, without even asking or giving me credit. If they found the article useful and wanted to repost it, I’d probably let them, with a link back here. Why not, right? But, to just take it? That’s seriously not okay. And, no, it's not harming me financially. But, it harms me intellectually and emotionally. Click To Tweet

Anyway, when I went back this week, because now it’s a car wreck and I can’t look away, they’d ran the post through one of those programs that changes the words but isn’t supposed to change the meaning. Except, now it sounds like I have a poor grasp of the English language and it links back to here through those links I mentioned earlier, so now I’m mad and a little embarrassed someone might think I wrote it.

I’d link to it so you could all go have a laugh except I’m afraid if the traffic there goes up, they’ll steal everything I do. It’ll be like having a thought-stealing internet stalker. And I know how people are, because I’m the same way, and if I just give you a screencap (or tell you which post), you’ll google the words and find it and drive the traffic up that way. So, now, I can’t even call them out on it.

Other than making legal threats I can’t really back up in their comment section, does anyone have any suggestions?

Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: Pedro Pasquale.

Edit 05.13.2012: Turns out Godaddy is hosting the site, though it’s owned in Vietnam. Godaddy was not the host, but they walked me through tracing it back to the real hosts. I sent the DMCA Takedown Notice (on the advice of Penrefe in the comments below–thank you!), so fingers crossed.

Penrefe (@Penrefe, twitter) is gaining a reputation as an exceptionally helpful commenter, like in this post, when she explained to me what a “licker zombie” was.

Edit 05.16.2012: I just realized why they stole this post. Because it has beauty in the title. Doh. Also, an update!

As mentioned on many occasions, I have become a full on convert to the digital reading experience. However, I still enjoy the occasional magazine (I got suckered into a year’s subscription when my kid was fundraising so she could have a fifty cent toy).

So, I’m scanning through the magazine, and I see this ad.

And so many thoughts occur to me. I will share.

  • She has Oscar Mayer food, including Jello, in her purse. Sometimes, I throw my lunch in my purse for the ten minute drive to the office. I get how this could happen. But… there’s no context here. Just… Jewel likes Oscar Mayer so much, she carries it in her purse.
  • There’s makeup and guitar picks (which I totally get–I’m a writer. Good luck catching me without a pen and something to write on.). But… seashells? Seashells. Really?

  • There’s a picture of her and her husband in there. Aw. And peaking out of the very top is a tube of Butt Paste. No, you guys. It’s for babies. But, there’s absolutely nothing else in her entire purse to indicate she has children. So I look some more. Hair stuff, mix CDs, a pen, makeup. No, no kid stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m so not above carrying Butt Paste in my purse. But it’s not top of the list. I’d probably have some toys in there, a snack (for my kids, not this Oscar Mayer fancy Triscuit and Jello mousse crap), some wipes. What mother doesn’t carry wipes? I just… don’t buy it. Either she has a diaper bag and the Butt Paste was thrown in there for effect or she is the most ill prepared parent in the history of ever. What the hell, Jewel?

In closing, I can only say this: Don’t show me what’s in your purse–I will judge you.

A really awesome Paranormal TV show hosted by an even awesomer Landra Graf; a dollhouse that would make Stephen King cry; and badness.  Just… movie remake badness.

  • The Beyond Natural with Landra Graf: This is my incredible Crit Partner that I have connected with. She’s awesome and she’s superwoman. She writes, she critiques, she does a paranormal TV show, raises children, and is probably saving a puppy or something right now. You should hit her up on Twitter and watch the show, The Beyond Natural, which shows on Wednesdays @ 10pm EST. I think you can watch it later, but Landra will have to provide those details.
  • The Bloggess‘s Haunted Dollhouse: Pretty much, the most awesome and creepy and brilliant thing I’ve ever seen.  She made this.  Still in awe.
  • Please No: Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler for ‘Romancing the Stone’ Remake? by Kate Erbland: First I hear they’re remaking Dirty Dancing and I agree with what someone said on Twitter: suddenly, it feels like someone put Baby in a corner.  And now, this?  Really?  Is Hollywood just collectively smoking crack or is there some secret strike on original ideas going on?  I don’t even dislike either of these actors, but… no.  Just, no.

When available, the author link goes to their Twitter page. If I tell you who linked me to the article, it’s so you can follow those clever people on twitter. Because I love twitter. And you should, too.

This blog is about reading and writing and finding things inappropriately amusing.  (I suffer from inappropriate laughter–it’s a real thing, don’t laugh.  Or do.  If you suffer from it, too.  I won’t judge you.  I’ll probably laugh at you, though.)

The Z-word, which I’m not even going to write anymore because it’s taking over my site, is… well, it’s taking over my site.

It all started because some stupid scientist who spells his name with a question mark did a study on surviving the Z-word apocalypse.  Which I totally believe will happen and we’re probably all screwed anyway.  We don’t need your research, Mr. Smith?.

Looking at my archives, apparently it all started because I did the zomb–Z-word world a favor by posting a link to their own personal dating site.

Whatever.  I posted a couple of cute Z-word links.  As opposed to the 126-or-so I’ve done on writing.  A look at my site keywords tells me the Z-word makes up 5% of my site.

But how are people who just wander in here finding this site?

FYI: I don’t write about, you know, those things.  Okay, occasionally I mention them on the site.  But I write romance.  And not the kind that rhymes with Lombie!

For the love of all that is undead, Google, stop ranking me as a leader in Z-O-M-B-I-E information!

Okay, I’m done.