This was originally posted as a guest blog on I Heart Lesfic. You can find it here.
“You can tell how smart people are by what they laugh at.” – Tina Fey
Tina Fey is not wrong. She’s not wrong about literally anything, actually, and I will fight anyone who wants to argue with me. Throughout my years on this planet, I have found that what makes one person laugh might not make another person laugh. I am funny in certain situations and downright awful in others, even though I am always the same person no matter what. I one time said something I thought was hysterical to the wrong audience. Lord. You could have heard a pin drop. Not cool! Call it poor comedic timing or call it not reading the room, either way, it was not fun.
That being said, regardless of my timing and my inability to read a room while inebriated, one of my very favorite things to do in life is laugh, and to make others laugh. I can think of literally nothing else I love more than the sound of laughter. Whether it’s mine or someone else’s, I just love it. There are so many different laughs in this world, too, which is funny in and of itself.
I can say with 100% certainty that laughing is my favorite thing to do in this world.
Wait. I take that back.
Sex is my favorite thing in this world. Aside from Baby Yoda, of course. So, sex, Baby Yoda, and laughing. Not necessarily in that order, of course. Oh, who am I kidding? Definitely in that order.
Now, laughing during sex?
Sadly, my embarrassing moment didn’t happen during sex, although what a way to set up the story, right?
Actually, my most embarrassing moment, and one I continuously like to look back on to keep myself grounded, happened when I was that ripe age where I was secure and nothing ever bothered me.
I was a senior in high school, for Pete’s sake, and I was a hot mess. Structurally, I was larger than my friends, which was so hard for me to deal with. And for some reason, after I had my senior pictures taken, I decided to cut all of my hair off. I was a jock so I told myself short hair would be easier. And I had no idea why I wanted a boyfriend, but at the same time, I never wanted the boy to touch me or kiss me. In fact, if he did, I would find some reason why I needed to leave. Immediately.
I look back on those days now and realize two things. One, I was a raging lesbian. And two? I was a raging lesbian who had no idea what being a lesbian even meant.
I did have a crush on a man, though. It was an insane, stupid crush that now, when I look back on it, I cringe at how ridiculous it was. How ridiculous I was. I guess it’s sort of sad that I so badly couldn’t come to terms with being into vagina that I found the most unavailable human being in the fifty mile radius and latched on.
My United States History and Government teacher was the lucky soul. He stole my young heart. Not on purpose, of course. He had no idea whatsoever. I’m sure of it. He was absolutely hilarious. He made everyone laugh. I don’t think there was a single student who didn’t like him. He was also a really good teacher. I mean, I still know every word to the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America because of him. I also know there are three branches of government thanks to him. A lot of the American public seems to have forgotten that… But I digress.
I’m going to protect the lives of the innocent and call my teacher Mr. Muppet. Not because he looked like a Muppet (he really did), but because I hope it will help add to the humor (please, God, let it add to the humor). Mr. Muppet was married, very happily, to my drama coach. I know what you’re thinking.
“Erin? Needed a drama coach? No way! I thought all that drama came naturally.”
I think the same thing all the time. Alas, I did, indeed, need a drama coach. And she was, and continues to be, a very important person in my life. She was incredible, and now that I think back, maybe it was her I had the crush on? Jesus. The revelations I am having right now are CRAZY.
Mr. Muppet was also the track and field coach. So, what’d I do? I joined track and field, baby! I was actually really good at throwing shot-put and discus, so it wasn’t a complete waste.
So, my most embarrassing moment… ugh. I cannot believe I am about to reveal this.
Bear with me, okay?
If you know anything about me from reading my bio, you know I’m from a very small town in Colorado, where everyone knew everyone. Growing up there was hard. Very, very, very hard. It was impossible to truly find yourself in a town where the second you let a fart slip during PE the whole school knew about it and laughed at you about it and called you something like Breezy, with the emphasis on EEZY, because my initials are E. Z. By the way, that’s not my embarrassing moment, sadly, even though it seems like a pretty vivid memory, right?
So because I was scared and lost and had no idea how to handle myself or my developing feelings and emotions (and hormones) I had for Mr. Muppet, I decided to write him a letter confessing my feelings. Instead of, oh, I DON’T KNOW, putting it into an envelope and setting it on his DESK, I slipped it under his classroom door.
“Erin!” You shout at me. “Why would you do that?”
“Listen!” I say in protest. “I don’t freaking know. Okay?”
I was so dumb! And young, naive, scared, with insanely low self-esteem. All of those wonderful qualities added up to a severe case of “what the fuck was I thinking?”
Don’t worry, it gets better.
Mr. Muppet didn’t get the letter, which seems like a great thing, right? Because if he’d received the letter, it would have been so awful. So very awful…
The janitor got the letter. And opened it because it wasn’t in an envelope. And the janitor read it. And the janitor freaked out. And turned it into the principal and I ended up having to have a huuuuuge meeting with Mr. Muppet, Mrs. Muppet, my mom and step-dad, and the guidance counselor. The whole thing was the worst thing that ever happened to me. And I’m sure it was the worst thing that ever happened to Mr. Muppet. And maybe the janitor? Who knows?
Seriously, though, I was a straight-A student. I was a varsity athlete for volleyball, basketball, and track and field. I was the co-president of the student body for Student Council. I was a member of Future Business Leaders of America. I was in drama (with his wife, remember?). I never got in trouble. I couldn’t! My step-dad was the chief of police. My mom was the director of nursing at the hospital. Everyone knew me.
Every. Single. Person.
The whole thing was horrifying. It still is! I look back on it and literally want to smack myself. I know kids do stupid things, but come on. The saddest part is none of my “feelings” had anything to do with Mr. Muppet. I know that now. They had everything to do with “not wanting a boy” and being too scared to come to grips with the fact that I liked girls. I wanted to put all of my fear and anxiety and nervousness into someone where it wouldn’t go anywhere. I wish I could apologize to him. Tell him how sorry I am for how stupid I was. There are moments when I wish I could re-live my high school years just so I could do that one part of my life differently.
Oh, and to make matters worse?
I guess you could call this “the best part” of the whole story. Shocking, I know, that there could even be more to this story…
During the sports awards ceremony, Mr. Muppet was the lucky guy who got to hand out an award to me. After peeing down my leg (figuratively speaking, of course), making my way up to the stage, accepting the award, and shaking his hand, I turned around and ran smack-dab into the flagpole.
On stage in front of the entire school and my parents and my friends and every other set of parents and siblings…
Senior year of high school was the worst.
God Bless America.
I’ve had a little over a month to process my feelings about the end of the Star Wars saga. I am still not okay.
If anyone reading this also follows me on social media, you know I am a rather rabid fan of Star Wars. I know there are a lot of us out there so it’s not like I’m admitting to liking liver and onions. I don’t, by the way.
Star Wars has been in my life since I was five years old. I’ll never forget sitting on the couch with my dad (who was a larger man with a big, round belly), snuggling into him, and watching Episode IV: A New Hope (they’re renamed now, I know, but this is how I will always know it) for the first time. He read the opening crawl out loud to me and I was hooked. A princess? An evil empire? A smuggler? A Jedi? Sign me up!
Little did I know that as I made my way through the movies, sometimes literally all in one sitting, I would become the fan I am today. I love everything about Star Wars. They’re campy and wonderful and the special effects hold up and Princess Fucking Leia.
As I grew up, I continued to watch them. I had the original VHS tapes that were so worn out I couldn’t fix the tracking at all on some of the scenes. When George Lucas re-released the trilogy with new scenes, I immediately made my mom drive me the hour and a half over the mountains so I could get them. I practically ruined that set in a year. I was obsessed.
There’s something about the entire arc in those first three movies that makes me so happy. The idea of rescuing a damsel in distress, who is no damsel and who isn’t really in distress, is so wonderful. Her falling in love with Han, and also sort of her brother, is amazing. Her relationship with Luke speaks to their bond because of The Force, their soulmate status, and everything else. Han Solo is the epitome of cool, racing around the galaxy in the most amazing ship in the entire fucking universe. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love the Millennium Falcon? And Chewbacca! Oh, Chewy. I can’t even with how much I adore Chewy’s character arc over the nine movies.
When the Disney deal went through, I was skeptical. I love Disney so much, too, so being skeptical of anything Disney did was hard for my brain to handle. When the first trailer for The Force Awakens dropped at D23, I almost hyperventilated. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I cannot even begin to describe the emotions that surged through my body.
Listen, I had to sit through Episodes I, II, and III, okay? I had to see George Lucas try and make political struggles in the Republic interesting. I had to see Hayden Christiansen try and muster up some chemistry with Natalie Portman, who, let’s be real, could have chemistry with a brick wall. I had to SUFFER through young Anakin Skywalker being played by the world’s worst actor (I’m sorry if that seems mean but I’m not even going to mention his name).
So seeing the trailer for The Force Awakens, a movie I was severely skeptical about, cast with basically all unknowns, was mind-blowing. I was scared, nervous, excited, anxious, everything.
When the movie released, my friend Brad and I bought back-to-back showing tickets for the IMAX theater in the town where I lived in Indiana. We showed up two hours early (before they actually assigned seats – best thing theaters have ever done, honestly). We were so pumped. When the first notes of the amazing John Williams score burst into the airwaves, I started crying. I cried numerous times during the movie. I cried like a crazy person at a couple moments… There were a few things I didn’t love, but y’know what? Overall, I really loved it.
I saw it five more times in the theater.
Fast forward two years. The Last Jedi was released. And I was just as excited. Just as pumped. And after seeing it, with Brad again, I was still totally stoked for the rise of Disney’s Star Wars. I didn’t LOVE The Last Jedi, but I appreciated it for what it was.
Now. A lot happened after the release of The Last Jedi, and I won’t go into all of it, because you probably aren’t uber nerds who want to know the ins and outs of why people hated that movie or even why they hated The Force Awakens. That being said, they switched directors and handed the reins back to JJ Abrams, who now had a colossal mess to clean up.
Welcome to December of 2019. The Rise of Skywalker. I was relatively spoiler free. I always go off of social media days before the release in order to avoid spoilers, but I also didn’t watch every trailer. I only saw two trailers. I watched them both a thousand times, but whatever.
When I sat down in the theater to watch The Rise of Skywalker, this time without Brad, I’ll be very honest: I was shaking. I was so nervous and excited all at the same time. And truth be told? As the movie started and moved from one scene to the next, I found myself crying through most of it.
(I won’t go into all the details, but I really enjoyed it. I had my issues, and if you’re super interested, go listen to The Weekly Wine Down podcast where we discuss Star Wars for an entire episode. THE BEST EPISODE EVER. Ha!)
And when the movie ended? I was a hot mess. A hot, hot mess. I was sobbing. And I had to pull myself together. I got into my Jeep. I started it, put it into drive, and continued to cry the entire way home.
As I sat at a stoplight, hoping no one could see me, blubbering like a fool, it hit me like a pile of bricks why I was so sad. I had essentially just said goodbye to Leia, Han, and Luke for the very last time. These characters have been in my life for as long as I can remember, literally. I don’t remember much before the age of five, so really, I’m not even exaggerating.
But, more than anything, I had to say goodbye to Leia. I grew up wanting to be Leia. I wanted to be in charge and confident and amazing and beautiful with cinnamon bun hair and no need for a bra.
As I aged, I started to fall in love with everything Carrie Fisher did, said, wrote… She was so wonderful and special and raw and honest. And saying goodbye to Leia was also realizing I would never again see something new Carrie Fisher did. And knowing that wrecked me. Her candor and beauty was something I will miss forever. She didn’t hold back and she made sure her mental health was something not holding her back but helping her—and others—out.
I’d like to say this entire blog post has a deep meaningful take-away. Aside from me wanting to write about my love for Star Wars, of course, it really doesn’t. I guess what I can say with 100% certainty is that Star Wars has helped mold me into the person I am today. No, I’m not a princess or a smuggler or a Jedi, but I am most definitely a strong woman with the drive and desire to be the best version of myself I can be. And I’m doing all of that while trying to handle anxiety and depression and many other things Carrie Fisher spoke so truthfully about struggling with. I may not be the badass she was (and always will be), but I will always strive to be a little like Leia and a lot like Carrie: a damsel in distress, who isn’t really a damsel and is most definitely not in distress.
May the Force be with you.
One of the things I love so much about being a writer is being able to write about some of my greatest fears and, in the end, calm them. Something I struggle a lot with, and I’ve written about this one other time, is anxiety. I am sure a lot of people can relate to the crippling fear anxiety can cause. One of the symptoms I get, which is oh so fun, is my heart starts to race and I feel as if the walls are closing in on me. I think the worst part, is sometimes I don’t even know what I’m anxious about. I’m just… anxious.
my description of anxiety…For some people, they’re able to harness the anxious energy and, as my very good friend, Jean Copeland says, “flick that fuck right off your shoulder.” What a wonderful way to live. Seriously. When something bothers you, if you can’t control it, then flick that fuck! I am working so hard on doing just that. Most of the time, I am a nervous wreck, and the rest of the time? I’m a head case. Yeah, yeah, I can tell you all are thinking about how much I must be to be around.
Something I have been trying to do is be more honest about who I am and what takes up space in my brain. I have a lot of fears. I have small ones like spiders and snakes. I had to actually remove a snake from our lanai earlier this month and I legit thought my heart was going to explode.
I didn’t die!
Some of my other fears are a little bigger. Like speeding and getting pulled over. I still speed but if I see a cop I am immediately scared. One of my fears is not knowing when to keep my mouth shut. Surprise, surprise, I still open my big mouth, even when I know I shouldn’t. Another one is turning into my father who basically killed himself by not taking care of his body as he aged. This seems less like something I’ll actually do, but who knows? Working out sucks as you get older!
And the one fear that is the hardest for me to get control of is the fear of criticism and not being liked by people.
Side note: Writing probably wasn’t the best profession to chase when handling criticism is so very hard for me, because, gasp that means people might not like me or something I wrote…
Sigh. It really is hard.
I think the best part about understanding my anxiety, my fears, is knowing how to control them. I read an article the other day about how this woman controls her anxiety by cleaning her house. She likes things neat and tidy, so knowing she will come how to a clean house calms her down. I liked that a lot, because she’s not ashamed of being anxious. She’s ready to do whatever it takes to get a handle on it, though. And not so other people are comfortable around her, but so she can be comfortable in her own skin.
We all have our ways of dealing with ourselves. I try to close my eyes and visualize myself standing alone in nature. Sometimes it works, other times it makes me really sad. Sad that I have to do that… remove myself from my own world for a few minutes just to relax.
I’ve realized not everyone is going to like everyone. People sometimes aren’t going to jive, or get along, or even like each other in the slightest. And that really is okay. I think learning that truth and how to navigate those sometimes shark-infested waters is helping me to get a handle on my anxiety, though. Instead of fearing something that may never happen, I am trying to live a life where I truly am living for myself.
Do you suffer from anxiety? Or any other mental health phenomenon? How do you get a handle on yourself or your surroundings? Leave a note below. I am genuinely interested in knowing. Obviously, the more we discuss our mental health, the less stigma surrounds it. And really, don’t we all like talking about ourselves just a little?
Hopefully your weekends are filled with non-anxiety causing activities. And if not, well, here’s to finding a way to breathe our way through them. Have a great weekend. 🙂
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WOMEN AND WORDS.
One of things I’ve been asked a couple times about my latest contemporary romance, Beautiful Accidents (available now from Bold Strokes Books), is, “Why did you choose tarot cards?”
The honest answer isn’t nearly as cool as I’d like it to be. I chose tarot as a backdrop because I love getting my cards read. To me, sitting across from someone who is going to tell you about yourself (sometimes things you already know, which is way more thrilling than it sounds), is so much fun. Is it because I love being the center of attention no matter the cost? Probably!
But also, I want to know what the hell is going to happen to me in the future. Listen, I know a tarot reading isn’t going to tell me every step I’ll make and guide me toward, oh, I don’t know, financial stability. Let’s be real, if that were the case, everyone and their dog would be getting a tarot reading. I do think tarot helps calm our fears about what the future might hold, though, and for someone with anxiety, like myself, it’s insanely comforting to know every move I’ve made isn’t going to lead me down the wrong path.
I’m rolling my eyes at myself right now, also assuming you’re doing the same. I know, I know. It’s not really “true.” But you know what? I think it’s great and helpful and I love it, and I’m gonna keep doing it because I freaking want to, okay?
I’m chuckling to myself now, instead of rolling my eyes, because I have no idea what you’re all really thinking about as you read this. You might be nodding your head instead of rolling your eyes. I hope so, honestly!
But I will say this: writing Beautiful Accidents was so freeing to me. Not only did I start writing it during a very strange, emotional, and heart-breaking time in my life, a turning point of sorts, I also put a lot of research into tarot and the entire reading session. My great friend, and fellow writer, Aurora Rey, helped me tremendously. Researching the cards and what they can mean or not mean was really refreshing. No two readings are the same, which I also love.
My two main characters in Beautiful Accidents are both tied down to what they believe are their fates. Neither thinks they have a way out, even though both desperately want out of the lives they are living. Bernadette is strapped to her family and Stevie is strapped to a fear of losing even more of her family. But both want so badly to grow and expand and fall in love with not only someone else, but also themselves.
My other favorite part of writing Beautiful Accidents was being able to put in the improvisational acting aspect, as well. I am Second City trained in improv and, let me tell you something, learning how to be an improv artist was the best time in my entire life. Not only does it teach you how “being funny” is not the point, but it also teaches you how to start saying, “yes, and…” more often. In order to build a scene, you rely on your improv troupe, so saying “no” to something is one-hundred-percent going to kill the scene. If I tell you I’m holding a tomato in my hand, I’m holding a mother fucking tomato in my hand. Not an orange. Not a pile of dog shit. It’s a tomato! Say yes! And build the scene off the tomato. Let the scene grow organically instead of trying to be funny.
“Oh, yes, thank you for getting the tomato for the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich I wanted to make for my toothless grandfather.”
“No problem. I also thought you’d like to puree it in this blender I’ve just purchased.”
“Great thinking! Without teeth, it’ll be hard to chew a BLT!”
“Exactly. And mmm, what a great smoothie it’ll be.”
The entire scene would go to hell if instead of saying yes, you say no. It throws everyone off, including your audience.
So, Stevie, saying, “YES, AND…” to a tarot card reading, when she really didn’t want to go (and had no real basis to not go), is a great lesson for her. She sees almost immediately nothing bad is going to happen, and actually, she ends up meeting the love of her life… She wins by saying yes. Ultimately, Bernadette ends up winning by saying yes, as well.
The underlying theme of the book is how accidents can happen, but they don’t always have to be horrific. They can be beautiful, and by saying, “yes, and…” to more in our lives, maybe we can find those beautiful accidents by building a scene you can be proud of. Life doesn’t always have to be scripted. Being spontaneous can be very fun. And for me to say that, someone with anxiety, it’s a big step! Normally, spontaneous, for me, is scary, but I’ve learned it can also be very enlightening.
Here’s to hoping your life is not scary, but enlightening. And the next time someone tells you they’re holding a tomato, don’t tell them they aren’t.
Happy Friday, y’all, and have a great weekend.
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WOMEN AND WORDS.
The past month has been so crazy hectic over here in Tampa. I have hardly had a moment to breathe, let alone prepare for a blog post… So, forgive me if this seems random and put-together-at-the-last-minute. You’re not wrong. Hopefully, you won’t be disappointed, though.
In June, my third book, Create a Life to Love was released. I am so proud of this book for numerous reasons. What I really love, though, is I made sure to focus on each person in the book by writing in first person from all their points of view. Sometimes it was difficult to switch my voice from a fifty-something “straight” woman to a younger lesbian romance author to a sixteen-year-old budding bi-sexual. The thing I found was how much doing it that way improved my ability to actually get into my character’s heads.
My next book, Beautiful Accidents, is releasing in eight days – September 1 (on the Bold Strokes Books website). I absolutely loved writing this book. Not only does it take place in Chicago in the winter, but one of my characters is an American Sign Language interpreter living with her Deaf mother and interpreting tarot card readings for her best friend, who is also Deaf. And the other main character is an improv actress. I studied at Second City for a good part of my late twenties/early thirties and it was so very fun. Definitely the best time of my life. So, being able to bring that passion for improvisational arts into this book which means so much to me was so great.
The Road Home will be my fifth full-length romance novel. I am so very excited about this one. Actually, I’m probably more nervous than excited. The story line tested me a lot. I was depressed for a good portion of writing it. Work and real life get in the way sometimes. But I also chose to write about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart: losing a mom to cancer. There were moments while writing where the last thing I wanted to do was continue with it. I cried more times than I care to admit. I never thought I’d be the author who admitted she cried while writing. I typically turn my nose up and think, “oh, please, your writing isn’t that good.” And honestly, mine isn’t! The subject matter gutted me. I’m so glad I finished it, though. I feel it turned out how I wanted it to, so, for that, I am happy. The Road Home will be available May 2020.
Aside from writing my rear-end off, I have had the pleasure of attending numerous concerts. My girlfriend and I are referring to this summer as our Summer Concert Series: 2019. We kicked it off with Celine Dion in Las Vegas, who was incredible. Then we went to see my absolute favorite band, Florence + The Machine. Florence Welch is an angel and there is not a single song or sound which comes from her mouth that I don’t worship. Up next was Dave Matthews Band, and as always, he was so good. Dave concerts always make me so happy. His fans are the best fans ever. Seriously. Last weekend, we went to see Elle King, Joan Jett, and Heart. Let me just say, Joan Jett has incredible arms. And Ann and Nancy Wilson are fucking phenomenal. All three are in their sixties, and they still ROCK. Every single second was so fun. My next concert is Lizzo. September 10th cannot get here soon enough. Lizzo embodies everything I hope to be: strong, confident, hilarious, and sexy. I love her.
This summer has flown by so far. I’m happy and sad about that. I do hope you all have been able to experience either live music or a good book.
And if podcasts are your thing, give The Weekly Wine Down a try. Authors Jackie D, Jean Copeland, and myself mix it up with Stacy and Stacey. We talk about everything from politics to weird local headlines in the news to what shows we love and are obsessed with. And we get drunk. The time we have is always a good one. I guarantee you won’t regret giving us a try.
Have a great weekend, everyone! I hope it’s relaxing and fun and filled with laughter and music.
Also, if you’re wondering – my favorite songs…
*originally posted on Women and Words
One of the things I’ve been absolutely obsessed with in the past couple of months is the movie Wine Country on Netflix. If anyone reading this knows me, you’ll more than likely nod your head and mumble to yourself, “Ummm, yeah, it’s fucking annoying, Erin…”
I apologize. From the bottom of my heart.
But come on. It’s an amazing movie. It’s about older female friendships and now that I’m actually one of those “older females,” the message was received. Loud and clear.
I loved everything about the movie. From Amy Poehler to Tina Fey (of course, she’s my future wife *wink wink*) to Emily Spivey and the only other woman that could take Tina’s place, Paula Pell. Every actress in it stole the show at one point or another, and I’m gonna be honest, there is nothing I love more than strong, female characters who aren’t afraid to break down when it’s appropriate.
About two weeks after the movie was released, I actually went on a girls’ trip myself to the wonderful land of Las Vegas, Nevada. *cue Frank Sinatra*
Listen. I love Vegas. I know a lot of people hate it, and okay, fine, I’ll let you hate it if you absolutely must. But there is nothing I don’t love about the lights, the people, the heat, the loud machines… I really do love everything. Well, except losing money gambling, but I digress.
My group of friends who were going (and my girlfriend) all had things happening in our lives that were hard to deal with, so the trip was going to be an escape from reality. We all needed a break from our lives. Like, STAT. Now, if anyone has seen Wine Country, you know they start the trip thinking it’s going to be one way and by the end they’re all going, “ummm… this is not what we expected at all.”
It’s so funny, because during the movie I kept thinking, “ohhh, that’s hilarious! But it’ll never happen to my girls’ trip.”
Absolutely wrong. I had a breakdown, my best friend had a breakdown, we all had fucking breakdowns. It was awful. But at the end of it, I think we all learned things about each other we probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
Not to mention I got to see Celine Dion live, which was the soul purpose of the trip and, let’s be real, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. (evidence below – yes, that is me sobbing…)
One of the reasons I bring all of this up is because I have learned that as I age, it is so very hard to make new friends. I think it must be true for a lot of older women, but damn. It’s anxiety-inducing and, at the expense of sounding very dramatic, it’s super difficult.
While writing, I try very hard to always have strong, supporting, friend characters for my mains, because of two reasons: 1) friends are so necessary; and 2) they help ground the character when shit starts getting real. It’s that slap across the face we all need from time to time to snap us out of whatever the hell we are going through.
Speaking of my books, my latest romance novel, Create a Life to Love, has some pretty awesome friends in it… Check it out!
What I want to leave you with is this: the great thing about Wine Country is it shows a group of women, how they’ve changed, how they’ve ultimately stayed the same, and how they all continue to love each other – especially when times get tough. It’s okay to rely on each other. Reach out, ask for help, vent to your friends. They can handle it.
Because what they can’t handle is losing you.
*originally posted on Women and Words
I feel this is one of the only platforms where my intense honesty is well received. So, with that in mind, I’m NOT going to talk about the recent anti-abortion laws or politics or anything that truly matters. Why? No one wants to hear that (and if you do, listen to The Weekly Wine Down podcast, because it’s great and Jackie D, Jean Copeland, two amazing Stacy(ey)s, and yours truly discuss many, many, many things).
What I am going to discuss is the deep, deeeeeep sadness I fell into after Game of Thrones ended on Sunday. I struggled so much on Monday. And Tuesday. And even Wednesday.
Why am I so upset about these fictional people in this fictional land?
And I realized, as the white end credits of the series finale started to roll on the pitch-black screen, I was upset because I was saying good-bye to my friends. Some of them were super great friends, too! Well, not necessarily “great,” so much as “extremely flawed and superbly human,” but friends nonetheless. I had been through so much with them. And ultimately, I think it’s the knowledge that after the show is over, the only way to revisit these people is through storylines you already know the ending to, which isn’t a whole lot different than revisiting picture albums after a loved one has passed.
I don’t know about y’all, but good television shows have been hard to come by. I will say, lately, things are looking up. We now have a variety of well written programs which tell wonderful stories with relatable characters. It feels good to be able to connect with people on our television screens. Sometimes for no other reason than to help us understand our feelings and our emotions have not created an island for us to float upon. Some of the shows I watched during my teens were far from relatable.
There was one show that quickly stole my heart, and just as swiftly, broke it in two when it wasn’t renewed after only nineteen episodes.
My So-Called Life.
I don’t know if anyone among our community watched this gem of a show but let me say to you, the kids of Liberty High School were everything to young Erin. As a high schooler, the same age as our leading teenager, Angela Chase, it was so fucking cool to see real problems and predicaments portrayed with such care and honesty. High school is rarely easy for people. I’d like to wager a bet that even the most secure person still went through many things she struggled intensely with. It sometimes seems so unfair that the most important period of growth a young human being goes through is housed in such a difficult environment to navigate.
But problems such as liking someone you aren’t sure likes you back, teenage sex, drugs, drinking, discovering your parents don’t have a perfect marriage, acne, body image issues, broken hearts, were highlighted during the show’s short life. As I said previously, the care with which these issues were dealt with was phenomenal. You connect with the characters, you understand what they’re going through, you get why Rickie was so scared all the time, you feel for Rayanne’s inability to settle down, your heart broke for Angela… and the reason everything they went through felt so real was because it was real. All of it.
Saying good-bye to those characters was one of the hardest break-ups I’ve gone through. They left without warning and without a good reason (aside from ratings, but what teenagers gives a fuck about ratings?). There wasn’t a “The End” to deal with. I still had to say good-bye to these friends I grew so close to so fast.
For the longest time I struggled with the end of a lot of different shows. The Golden Girls, Freaks and Geeks, Frasier, Friends, LOST, ER, Once Upon a Time (although, let’s be real… OUAT jumped the shark the instant Emma started dating Captain Hook and not Regina… but I digress).
The list goes on and on. And I’m sure you all have lists of your own.
As a writer, it gives me something to strive for whenever I create a new character in a new scene. I try my utmost to make the circumstances the characters are surviving as real, honest, and relatable as possible. After all, isn’t that what we all want? To see ourselves reflected in someone else? To know we aren’t alone?
So, as Sunday approaches, and I remember Game of Thrones is done and get sad, I hope I’m not alone. The end of something is always sad for someone… And I finally realize why my mom cried so hard when MASH ended.
P.S. Want to watch My So-Called Life? It’s on Hulu.
*originally posted on Women and Words
When I was very young, before my years in Colorado, I lived in Northwest Indiana near Chicago. So, spring break was always a fun time, because it meant leaving the cold and heading for somewhere warm. I will never forget the excitement of driving to O’Hare International Airport with my mom and my grandma so we could board a plane and head to the warmth of Florida.
My mom loved Florida. Absolutely loved it. She was from the generation where they doused themselves in baby oil and betadine (my mom was a nurse, which is why she had access to it) as they laid out in their backyards, in search of that perfect bronze tan. So, I think part of the allure of Florida was obviously being able to suntan on the beach. She never let my skin see the sun, though. Oh, no. I was covered with SPF 50. Head to toe. If I could, I’d thank her for that now.
When we arrived, I vividly remember her cleaning the house we rented. She’d go over it before we were allowed to unpack or head to the beach. In case you aren’t aware, there are bugs in Florida that rival small birds. It’s ridiculous.
After moving to Florida, the first time I saw a Palmetto bug (fancy word for “fucking giant, ugly roach that can also FLY”), I almost peed my pants. Not only was it so freaking big, but it was not afraid of us. At all. I now know why, one day, roaches will be the last survivors on this planet. They’re indestructible and, goddamn, they are disgusting.
The story just took a turn that I was not expecting. I apologize.
Anyway… One of the things that we did while in Florida was go to Walt Disney World. The first time I went, I was five, and I was adorable. I had a dress on that had “Erin” embroidered across the chest and whenever someone said, “Hi, Erin,” I’d ask my mom how they knew my name. I wasn’t dense. I was sheltered. Come on, now. I promise I got smarter as I grew.
While in Disney World—Magic Kingdom, to be exact—we obviously went to the parade. The parade, if you’ve never been, is truly magical. All of the characters make appearances and most of them try to walk along the side of the road to shake the kids’ hands. Even as an adult, I still get excited about the parade.
Well, let me tell you… I was so excited and nervous to meet Minnie Mouse. I was practically in tears. She was so close, too. She was walking down the street toward me! I was going to meet her! SHAKE HER HAND! Oh, my God. My stomach was filled with butterflies. So, she’s getting closer and closer, and I’m squealing like, well, a child, and…
She passed me up.
Yep. Minnie Mouse passed me up. She didn’t stop. She didn’t shake my hand. She ignored me.
My five-year-old heart was broken. I began crying immediately, and sadly, I was barely consolable. My mom was great, of course. She had Mickey and Pluto come over, but I didn’t give a rat’s ass about meeting Mickey or Pluto. I wanted Minnie Mouse.
(I know, I know. I had no idea I was a lesbian until much later in life. I don’t know why my mom was shocked, though.)
So, needless to say, after hearing that story, you probably all can understand why I couldn’t stand Minnie Mouse any longer.
Until last month.
I finally put away my hatred for the female mouse and decided to meet her while I was at Epcot. And, I hate to admit it, but it was truly magical all over again. I felt a sense of relief, like I could let go of the heartbreak. Finally. After a lot of fucking years.
The best part, though? It made me feel like my mom had a little something to do with the whole thing this time. She passed away a little over seven years ago. So, believing that, from wherever she’s perched, watching over me, she made sure Minnie hugged me and made me feel special, makes the entire experience even more special.
Anyway… Have a great spring break, wherever you are headed. And remember: don’t give up on your dreams, even when they ignore you the first time.
When I was around eight or nine years old, occasionally, my cousin Barbara would watch me for my mom who worked a full-time nursing job basically her entire life. One of the things that made not seeing my mom all the time slightly more bearable was being able to spend time with my older, super cool cousin. She taught me a lot about life and love and, most importantly, music. She loved music (and still does, in fact). She would put on different artists, cassette tapes at that time, and I’d learn about all these cool bands, such as The Beatles and The Cure. She went on to college and became a music teacher, which I thought was so perfect for her. I vividly remember being at family gatherings when she’d pull out her violin case, flip open the clasps, and prepare the instrument. I’d watch in complete awe as she’d rosin the bow. It was as if I was witnessing greatness. I could only hope I would grow up to be even half as talented as her. When I received a recorder and began lessons in the fourth grade, I was positive I’d be the next musical child prodigy.
Alas, that was not the case.
But even though I put my dreams of being a classical musician on the shelf, behind a lot of other dreams and desires that were equally as unattainable, I still carried the love of music with me.
In my mind, there is nothing better than music. I absolutely love music. When I’m sad, the first thing I do is put on a playlist of songs that speak to me. Sure, they might make me cry or get me even more upset, but I still love doing it. The idea that someone wrote the lyrics and music and then sang it, or even got someone else to sing it… I love it.
One of the most exciting times for me is when I’m looking forward to a concert. In fact, I’m so pumped for the Florence + The Machine concert in June that I can barely contain myself. And I’m seeing Celine Dion! The greatest singer in the world! I cannot even begin to describe my excitement for that. This coming Wednesday, I am going to see Sarah McLachlan at a small venue nearby, which fills me with so much happiness. I fell in love with Sarah after my cousin Barbara introduced me to Fumbling into Ecstasy.
At the end of the day, it’s connecting with the lyrics that really gets me, though. There are so many songs that I’ve sent to different people over the years and prefaced it with, “Listen to these lyrics. They are so you!” or “They are so me!” or “Oh, my God, I’m bawling just listening to this…”
For every book I write, I have a different playlist that I listen to while writing. The songs connect me to my characters. They embody the sadness or happiness that the lyrics evoke and I love that. I actually think it’s common for people to make playlists to listen to while they express their art, but I know a few people that laugh and say, “oh, you millennials…”
Either way, I am so very happy that music is there for me and plays such an important part of my life. So many songs have helped me through numerous events in my life. The sickness and death of my mom (Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine), horrible heartache (Keeping Your Head Up – Birdy), every time I sign a new contract for a book (Woman – Kesha), and I could go on and on.
I’ll leave you all with this: my current playlist for the novella I am writing for the Hot Ice collection from Bold Strokes Books (due out in December; Aurora Rey and Elle Spencer are also contributing).
Feel free to give it a listen.
Closed Door Policy Playlist:
I ran across a post the other day on Tumblr.
Yes, I still scroll endlessly through that website, even after all the rules and everything else have been imposed. I can’t help it. I get bored. It helps fill the time that should be filled with editing my next manuscript (*cough* Create a Life to Love, available June 2019 from Bold Strokes Books *cough*).
Anyway. I digress.
The post said this:
The reason I’m bringing this up is because it resonates with me so very much. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I fear I’ve offended because I was only trying to be funny. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve probably pushed someone away because I was trying way too hard to “be there for them.” And again, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve said, “Oh, my goodness, me, too!” and launched into a story about how whatever is happening with the person I’m talking to has also happened to me and here are all the freaking details.
I think a lot of times, though, it’s important for these things to be pointed out. In particular, I want to focus on that first line: “I Was Trying To Be Funny But It Came Out As Really Mean…”
It was difficult growing up in rural Colorado as a young lady, questioning everything, everyone, and also trying to find my place in the world. I hate to say I had it hard, because honestly, I didn’t. My parents were amazing. But they moved me from outside of Chicago to a wide spot in the road, so I had a lot to learn about different types of people. Needless to say, I spent my “formative years” very sheltered. There wasn’t much to do except hang out with friends, stay up late watching Saturday Night Live, and cruise main street. To pass the time, we’d joke around a lot with each other. Humor was all we had. My friends and I called each other names, made fun of other people, tried to not get big-time bullied while also being small-time bullies. We’d play pranks on each other. We’d find ways to embarrass each other in front of the boys. It was great fun, right?
No. It was not! Holy cow, NO.
I will never get over the first time a boy made me cry because he was trying to be funny. Specifically, he called me Thunder Thighs. The nickname TT stuck for years. Yay. I will never forget that horrific feeling that not only was I not good enough, but now I had this nickname that did absolutely nothing for my self-esteem.
It’s so sad to me that I took that horrible feeling that I have carried around with me for a very long, long, looooong, long, looooooong time and have more than likely transferred it to others…all because I thought I was being “funny.”
It’s amazing how our words can cut deep, even when that is not the intention.
I am actively trying to remember the difference between being funny and being mean. Because it’s a fine line and one that I think needs to have a spotlight on it at all times. In the current state of the world, it’s so important to remember that laughter can be very healing. It can turn someone’s day completely around. Hell, it can turn that person’s year around.
So, I want to try harder to make sure that I turn someone’s year around in a good way. I want to make people laugh. And I want to make sure to remember that line between being funny and being mean. I think it’s a good thing for everyone to remember.