What About Me?

Written By: Dawn - Feb• 09•15

Last year my church started a group for moms with teenagers. This is something I’d been lobbying for but sadly, like the preschoolers group and the school-age moms groups before it, it came on the sunset of my days in that phase of life.

This has been a pattern over the last twenty-five years- me missing inclusion in an iconic state of being.

It all began here-

Aired fro 1987-1991

Aired from 1987-1991

Since I was in my late teens and early twenties during thirtysomething’s rein I couldn’t have cared less about the show. Those people were old! Who cares? Babies? Career drama? Adult life? All these seemed far off in my future.

Then Big Boy was born in 1993 and The Better Half and I discovered thirtysomething reruns on Lifetime at 2 a.m. and suddenly all those privileged yuppie whiners became endearing. And relatable. In the most frightening ways.

One of my favorite episodes had Hope and Ellen hiding under the dining room table with the baby while some hot guy did work inside Hope’s house. She felt all frumpy and struggled with the new image of herself as a mom instead of a sexy woman. I understood that. The guy who came to clean baby vomit and cat pee off the couch (always purchase the extra upholstery cleaning plan) was kinda cute. I think. Since I was up three times a night nursing a baby, I don’t have 100% recall but anyone who cleans cat pee for you is a god.

In the end thritysomething did speak to me, but after the fact.

Next came-

Aired 1998-2004

Sex and the City- Aired 1998-2004

I like to call this my Late Bloomer period. We didn’t have HBO back then because Barney Videos and all the Star Wars movies (not the prequels thank goodness) played in a constant loop. (True story- Little Bug was humming the Star Wars theme at 18 months.)

I wasn’t so deep in Suburban Siberia that I hadn’t heard of SATC, but I’d never watched an episode. Hence, I didn’t have a grasp of what the buzz really meant. In July 2000 I found myself alone in a hotel room in Seattle with the TV remote in my hand.

I remember that first episode fondly- Miranda discovered what it really meant to wash Steve’s underwear. Enough said right?

By the time the second half of the last season aired in 2004, we had HBO, but boy I’d missed so much! It was years before I could pronounce Manolo Blahnik with confidence.

And I still don’t own a Fendi bag.

Smoke and Mirrors arrives!

Aired 2004-2012

Aired 2004-2012

 

By title alone, this show looked promising, like it had a message for stay-at-home moms like I was during its first few seasons. It did. The message was loud and clear-

If you’re over thirty-five- DON’T LET IT SHOW!

While I support Hollywood employing “older” actresses, these women were so beautiful, so thin and so visually perfect that a new exception for middle age beauty formed. So did the word Cougar.

I began to notice new trends with the younger moms. Rather than sporting kid or park friendly ensembles like I had at that stage, they looked more spa day ready than Mommy and Me. Some of them pushed strollers in heels. Rather than munching on goldfish crackers at the park, they went to lunch at real restaurants and sipped cocktails (okay, I admit that part is genius) and acted more like adult women than mothers (to my eyes at least).

The current label for these gals is Helicopter Parent.

Don’t ever piss one off.

The new era-

Airing 2012-present

Airing 2012-present

I followed the buzz surrounding the premiere of Girls with great anticipation. Billed as a SATC for a new generation, I felt ready for a women-focused show to speak to me. Boy did it, just not in the way I expected.

The series opens with Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her parents out to dinner. Mom and Dad are giving college-graduated and non-selfsuficient Hannah the dire news that they are cutting her off financially.

Immediately I bonded with Mom and Dad, so I turned off the TV. I’ve never taken a second look because Girls isn’t for me. I hope the girls who watch it feel like I do when I watch reruns of SATC (boy does it hold up well for me) because we all want something on TV we can relate to.

Which brings me to today.

I’m ready for MY stage of life to be all the buzz. I’ve even got a title for my new show.

fortyandoversomething Women (former Housewives) Who Kick Ass In the City and Everywhere Else.

I even have a great idea for the pilot episode- it could an entire episode dedicated to the mid-life quest for the Holy Grail- elastic waist pants that are on trend. (Though Not-Your-Daughter’s Jeans is making great progress in this area.)

I know this seems like a lot to ask, but I’d love someone to address pet hair on TV. Let’s face it, feeling sexy in a LBD is challenging if you have a dog, a cat or, if you’re a glutton for punishment, both. And while we’re on the subject of pets, they can throw in a cute guy to clean up cat pee or pick up dog poop. It really doesn’t matter what he’s doing so much…

What I’m saying is that if TV is getting better at showing real life, including its gritty side, then why not show more women as they reinvent themselves, as they shift away from daily child-rearing and begin their next chapter? I look at around at my girlfriends and we’re all doing amazing things- new jobs, running races, going back to school, being on charity boards and not giving up on anything. Case in point- I will find a soft chew toy Lily can’t destuff in less than five minutes.

So until the networks clue in on the awesomeness that is middle-aged moms, you’ll all just have to listen to me roar here.

My Year In Books- 2014

Written By: Dawn - Dec• 24•14

For me 2014 was the year of the book. I read 30 titles this year in part because so many of my favorite authors published new books and also because I opened myself up to discovery in a way I don’t normally do. As someone who works in a library, my greatest joy is placing a book in the hand of a reader. Here’s my unconventional review of books from my year.

Best Discovery Author/Series- Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden 

Dresden_Files

 

Friends have been telling me about Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series for years but until now, I never took a look. Butcher’s newest book released in early summer and he was all anyone could talk about at both Phoenix Comic-Con and San Diego Comic-Con.

Harry is a PI and a wizard in modern Chicago. The series is a mashup of the true detective genre with a dash of Harry Potter thrown in. But Chicago isn’t tame Hogwarts, it’s an adult city with adult-level supernatural problems.

Harry’s voice draws you in immediately but it’s Butcher’s world building that keeps me coming back. It’s nearly impossible to do something with vampires that hasn’t been done before, yet he does. This is a series that is deep, often dark and always surprising. Butcher even blends magic and faith in a way that gives both the reverence and respect they deserve.

Author Everyone Should Read Even If You Don’t Think You Like Science Fiction- John Scalzi

brazos_-_lock_in_category

Believe it or not, I don’t read a lot of SciFi, as TV is my preferred consumption method for the genre. I’d heard about Scalzi from my geek friends, but until I saw him in person at Phoenix Comic-Con two years ago, I wasn’t interested in his work. He impressed me so much at his author panel (hard to get the most out of those when you haven’t read anything by the author) I immediately bought his most famous work, Old Man’s War, which I devoured in two days.

His latest, Lock In, is set in the near future around a government sponsored industry for one population- those affected with the disorder Haden’s syndrome. As our own health care system is changing rapidly, Lock In is timely, tense and terrifying.

I also have to shout out to Old Man’s War, which I reread this year (and got my father-in-law to read). I think it may be one of the best books I’ve ever read as well as a standard classic in the genre.

Scalzi draws you in with character voice, and you’ll follow his characters across galaxies. Trust me.

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Books I Never Planned On Reading But Ended Up Loving- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Me Before You1

 

You know the books I’m talking about because you see them everywhere- Target, Costco, perhaps even the grocery store. There’s buzz in magazines and even among your friends. Everyone, it seems, is talking about these books and you can’t figure out why because they sound boring, or depressing or uninteresting to you.

I’m here to say that sometimes best sellers are best sellers because they really are that good.

Me Before You is story of a quadriplegic and his female care giver. I doubt I could come up with a worse situation for a novel. But I reached a  point in early summer when the paperback’s dominance on shelf space was so impressive, even I could no longer ignore the book. So I read it.

And loved it.

I loved it so much, I went to the author’s book signing for her new book (which I also enjoyed).

IMG_2941

They’re making a movie for Me Before You and I look forward to seeing it. The book is not a feel-good in the traditional sense, can’t lie, but you will care about the characters and be glad you’re there.

Gone Girl is so huge right now I’m not even going to show a picture of it. If you haven’t noticed the book or the movie, you’ve been living in a cave.

Naturally I knew about the book when it came out. I wrote it off as a true crime tale and I never read those. I can’t even stand to watch Nancy Grace on TV. I had no intention of reading the book thank-you-very-much.

Last month The Better Half and I saw the movie because I couldn’t quite ignore all the attention it generated. Ten minutes into the film all I could think about was how fucked up all these people were and that I was dying to read the book so I could spend more time with them.

I’m kicking myself now for not taking the book seriously two years ago, but the movie to book experience hasn’t disappointed me at all. It’s well worth your time, even if you know the ending from the movie.

 

Thank You To My Favorite Authors For Great Books In 2014-

Since I write Women’s Fiction, it is my favorite genre. Some people still call it Chick Lit and in all honesty, that’s not a moniker I find offensive. The lone exception to the following list is Philippa Gregory, who writes amazing historical fiction. Please follow the links I’ve provide if you’re looking for a good read with relatable characters in all kinds of life situations.

Mary Kay Andrews (Southern and sassy, need I say more?)

Stacey Ballis (Foodie fiction with a lot of humor and recipes!)

Claire Cook (Both fiction and nonfiction this year!)

Jane Green (OMG- two books a year now! Next one drops on Dec. 30)

Philippa Gregory (Of The Other Boleyn Girl fame. Tudors! Drama!)

Beth Kendrick (Rom-Com at its best a la Lifetime TV movie.)

Jennifer Wiener (Always good and she champions women writers.)

 

Best Book of 2014 For Me- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy-Rich-Asians

 

Somehow I missed the buzz on this book when it released in 2013, but the paperback (shown above) kept catching my eye. The real hook- a reviewer  compared it to a Jane Austen novel. I am a sucker for anything that plays homage to my favorite author!

Crazy Rich Asians delivers exactly what is says- a sharp study into the super wealthy lifestyle of both old and new monied Asians from Singapore. Part Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, part Austen in its deep look into the social paradigms within the upper and “lesser” classes when they are thrown together in one ballroom, and part love story. It delighted me from start to finish.

E-book readers beware- the family trees are quite detailed here and as when I read Tolkien or Game of Thrones, I constantly referred to the genealogy maps to help track the who’s who. I’m not sure how those translate in e-formats.

Kwan has a sequel planned for June 2015 and I am counting the days!

 

Happy Reading for 2015 Friends!

 

 

National Novel Writing Month Recap

Written By: Dawn - Dec• 01•14

grant funding expert chris johnson grants to write books plays and poems

 

 

Well I did it!  Sort of.

I did participate in National Novel Writing Month (NoNoWriMo) this year but I didn’t win. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days and I managed to land at 18,216. Although I didn’t win, I still feel like a winner because I enjoyed myself. The absolute best part was being part of a very active and alive writing community. All the #hashtag support and shout outs made the lonely job of writing much less so and made me feel writerly again, something that I haven’t felt in a while.

The good feels don’t erase the fact that mistakes were made. Some were avoidable, like allowing myself days off, and others were simply a part of the learning curve I must face if I tackle this again next year. The first time I did NaNoWriMo, I’m not even sure I made it to 10,000 words and I caved after about ten days, hating the pressure. I still dislike the weight of the words on me daily, but I believe I could finish if I prepare better the next time.

My takeaway from this experience is such that I can’t be discouraged for not hitting the 50K mark.

-I discovered that I have a great new book and I want to keep working on it.

-I love my characters and really bonded with them through the fast pace demanded of NaNoWriMo in a way I might not have done if I was writing slow and steady and, frankly, more purposefully. I doubt I’ll use most of what I did write, but those words allowed me to get to know my characters.

-I am FOR SURE a plotter, not a pantser writer. I already knew this, and thought I had plotted enough material to get me through 50K, but I hadn’t and all that open space freaked me out more than it motivated me.

-Most importantly, I felt like a real writer again and I loved it. I stepped away from writing when I finished my coursework at Stanford in June, but I’m ready to back in.

-I have never been more happy to see the date December first!

A big congratulations to all who participated in NaNoWriMo this year and a big applause for those of you who finished.

Thank you all for supporting me this month, especially the folks who run NaNoWriMo. They made everyone one of us feel worthy and special regardless of word count and that my friends was priceless.

 

Horror You Doing?

Written By: Dawn - Oct• 22•14

Fall is my favorite season of the year. The weather cools (just slightly for us in Arizona), football season is in full swing and I get to decorate the house for Halloween, my favorite holiday.

My love for Halloween goes back to my childhood when I took choosing my costume very seriously. I honestly believed I was becoming whatever I chose. It’s no surprise that my love of dress up and costuming not only continues for me as an adult, but expands to the house.

This my third Halloween in the “new” house and I think I’ve hit my stride. The scale of this house is much larger than our previous place and has required me to go big. Hopefully some of the ideas here will inspire you. Enjoy my Martha Stewart-Nightmare Before Christmas mashup.

Jack Skellington greets you at the door. For about $35 in felt and tulle I managed to make this big space feel welcoming.

Jack Skellington greets you at the door. For about $35 in felt and tulle I managed to make this big space feel welcoming.

 

The front gate- my favorite area. The black and purple is taken from the Nightmare Before Christmas color pallet and it really make Halloween look more sophisticated.

The front gate- my favorite area. The black and purple is taken from the Nightmare Before Christmas color pallet and it really lends an elegance to Halloween.

 

Every time we walk in the courtyard Weasley thinks this crow is a real bird and he gets all excited.

Every time we walk in the courtyard Weasley thinks this crow is a real bird and he gets all excited.

 

This is right in the foyer. The skull glows in the dark of course.

This is right in the foyer. The skull glows in the dark of course.

 

This is one hold-over from the old house- the bench/mirror set. I love filling them with holiday knickknacks. This year, due to Lily's chewing I relocated my stuffed ghosts from the bench to a safer location.

This is one hold-over from the old house- the bench/mirror set. I love filling them with holiday knickknacks. This year, due to Lily’s chewing, I relocated my stuffed ghosts from the bench to a safer location.

 

The ghosts are much happier up high away from puppy teeth.

The ghosts are much happier up high and away from puppy teeth.

 

The dining room looks its best ever this year.

The dining room looks its best ever this year.

 

You probably can't see them, but there are worms coming out of the skull's brain.

You probably can’t see them, but there are worms coming out of the skull’s brain.

 

Last year I had this wreath on the front door, but it really isn't big enough for that. Looks amazing here.

Last year I had this wreath on the front door, but it really isn’t big enough for that. Looks amazing here.

 

We have these goofy wall cut-outs in the family room. Love how the black and purple makes the skulls stand out.

We have these goofy wall cut-outs in the family room. Love how the black and purple makes the skulls stand out.

 

For the last few years I've been grouping like with like. In another corner I have all the witches together.

For the last few years I’ve been grouping like with like. In another corner I have all the witches together.

 

I wish you all a safe and gruesome Halloween!

IPCS: Irritable Premium Channel Syndrome

Written By: Dawn - Aug• 10•14

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Let’s get this out of the way first- yes, I understand that any possible problem I have with HBO is a First World problem.

However that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.

The other night I ran into the same issue I frequently encounter after 7 p.m. in the family room- The Better Half has the TV remote in his hand. Whether he’s conscious or not, once it’s in his hand it’s staying there. And despite the fact that our cable service includes Basic Plus, the HBO package, the sports package and whatever add-on gives me access to BBC America, we find ourselves all-to-frequently with no suitable viewing material if there isn’t a Pawn Stars marathon on The History Channel.

So on this particular evening, The Better Half began his channel surfing and when he landed on HBO he tried to stop at This is 40.

This Is 40 is a film about marriage, family and growing older with a sense of humor. There’s a delightful scene about butt crack hair.

It makes me want to scream. Not because it isn’t enjoyable, but because This Is 40 (and RED 2) are HBO’s summer movies we cannot seem to escape from. The Better Half loves both films and will watch them over and over again, their familiarity comforting him like a soft blanket until he enviably drifts to sleep in his LA-Z-Boy recliner, the remote clutched death-grip style in his hands.

It’s occurred to me now that this pattern repeats itself every eight weeks or so when HBO adds a new big movies to its lineup. It goes like this-

1. One movie you saw in the theater, enjoyed and look forward to revisiting. (That would be RED 2)

2. One movie you missed not only in the theater, but also every time you stood in front of a Redbox. (That would be This Is 40)

3. You watch both movies by choice and enjoy them.

4. Then, for the next few weeks, despite statistical improbability, every time you turn on the TV the only HBO movies worth watching are those movies. AND FURTHERMORE, despite an even greater statistical improbability, you will drop in on them in the exact same place in the film EVERY SINGLE TIME. (Like the butt crack hair scene.)

It reminds me, in a weird and TMI way, of how women who live together can have their periods become synced so that they all have them at the same time. It’s like HBO senses your favorite films of the month and offers them up in a seemingly random way, but it’s really far more sinister than it appears.

And why would HBO torture its costumers like this?

Because they know we only subscribe for Game of Thrones and HBO GO access.

Deep breathe.

I accept the things I cannot change. I have the courage to change the things I can.

My attempts to hide the remote from The Better Half  have failed because the TV remote appears to be the only object in the house he can find on a regular basis without my assistance.

The only civilized recourse left is to call Dibs on the TV before The Better Half seizes the remote. For those of you in need of a refresher, here are the basic rules. Most of the Dibs rules I found online are in reference to women, but clearly the rules listed here (curtesy of Call Dibs Now) have universal applications.

Article 1: In order to call Dibs, the caller must pronounce the word “Dibs,” verifiable by at least one other person. The caller must also identify the Target in a reasonable manner (i.e. “I got Dibs on the butterface in the yellow g-string”). In my case I would say, “Absolfuckinglutely not Red 2 again.” 

Article 2: Dibs may only be called if the enactor (”the Caller”) has seen the Target in person. (photographs, digital images, etc. do not count). Dibs can only be called when the Caller is in line-of-sight (LOS) of the Target; Dibs cannot not be made if the Caller has already departed the Target’s location. I would add that being asleep on the couch does not in any way confirm a visual of the Target.

Article 3: The Call guarantees that no other individual, other than the Caller, may make any effort at hooking up with (seducing, courting, etc.) the Target for 30 days. I think this section is intended for anyone interested in watching HBO’s Real Sex. 

Article 4: Anyone disrespecting a legitimate Dibs call may be proclaimed a jackass by the community, and forfeits all honour. The Community may henceforth actively seek to destroy any sort of relationship the disrespecting citizen attempts with the Target, and may be attacked on sight. This is the no-whining clause. 

Look, we don’t have to be HBOwned! Take back your entrainment viewing power and control content as best you can!

For those of you frightened of confrontation or who haven’t figured out the channel guide yet, I suggest TV Switzerland-

Binge-watch The Office on Netflix and everyone is happy.