Search This Blog

Thursday, March 19, 2015

And to Think it All Started With a Giant Metal Chicken

Still blogging away alongside three other talented bloggers.  Each week, one of us chooses a topic and we all post a blog entry on that topic, usually on Thursdays.  (Usually we are on time.  Usually.  Ok, sometimes.)

Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:

This week, Merryland Girl asked us to give a shout-out to five of our favorite blogs [outside of our group and her blog, ChickLit Central, which we all love and to which we sometimes contribute].  She asked us tell how we found them and why we like them so much.

Perhaps I am again showing my age, but I don’t follow many blogs.  I spend plenty of time online, but I tend to read specific articles, or go on Facebook, or GoogleStalk people (I’m kidding, I’m kidding).  I truly could not come up any blogs I honestly read regularly, and listing five that I read even occasionally was impossible, so I’m going with the four I follow with some semblance of consistency, in order of the amount of attention I pay (the links to the blogs are within the first mention of blogs’ names):

(1)  The Bloggess:  Ah, Jenny Lawson, you?  Are a genius.  I learned of The Bloggess through another blog, one written by an author I like, Jen Lancaster (I didn’t include her blog here because she stopped blogging with regularity a while back and tends to use her website almost exclusively for book promotion).  I love love love The Bloggess.  Jenny is brilliantly hilarious, the kind of funny that makes you laugh so hard at your desk at work that people come in to check on you and see what the hell you’re laughing at, and then you have to tell them it has to do with dead hobo fingers or kitten mittens or being buried in a casket full of marshmallows (these conversations actually took place).  But Jenny is also sweet and genuine and honest.  She has no qualms talking about her crippling social anxiety or her equally debilitating rheumatoid arthritis or her recurrent depression or her body image issues.  By doing so, she has saved lives.  She’s reminded people they are not alone, and that this too shall pass. 

Jenny sells things through her website, most of which are quirky and based on blog posts.  She gives a portion of her profits to charities.  She loves animals and blogs about her pets, often including photos and videos.  Texan Jenny also loves dead, taxidermied animals, which she enjoys dressing in clothing and posing around her house.  One of her favorite hobbies is to mess with her very patient husband, Victor, an always-amusing sport (don’t worry:  he gives as good as he gets).

Arguably, Jenny’s most popular post involves a giant metal chicken named Beyonce.  I dare you to read it without laughing out loud.  Thanks to Jenny, I will always refer to metal chickens as Beyonces, and I will always laugh when I see one.  Hands down, my favorite blog ever, and her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, is one of the only books I have ever in my life pre-ordered.  I couldn’t wait – and I was not disappointed.

(2)  Mary Kay Andrews’ blog:  Mary Kay Andrews is an author who writes chick lit featuring Southern heroines living in Southern settings.  I’m not generally a fan of traditional chick lit, and her books are a tad formulaic, but I love them because Mary Kay creates memorable, vivid characters, and she writes about the South in a way that makes me feel like I’m there, or at least wish I could be.

Mary Kay’s blog is about her own life in Atlanta and on Tybee Island, Georgia.  She shares many of my hobbies and interests, including junking and refinishing her finds, so I love her posts, as she always includes before and after photos.  She writes about her book tours and her family.  Often, a post will be as simple as a photo, and her blog really has more of an Instagram feel (perfect for my undiagnosed ADD), but I love seeing images from her life.  I only recently started reading this blog, and hell if I didn’t go all the way back to the beginning to see what I’d missed.     

(3)  The Magnolia Market:  Just a few weeks ago, I discovered and instantly became obsessed with the HGTV show Fixer Upper.  The show follows Texans Joanna and Chip Gaines as they rehab old houses in and around Waco, Texas.  It also shows bits and pieces from their own lives, spent on a forty-acre farm where they raise goats and chickens and their four young children.  The couple also builds houses and owns a store, The Magnolia Market.  I wanted to hate Joanna:  she’s pretty and talented and doing a job I would love to do (though I doubt I’d be nearly as good at it).  But Joanna is funny and warm and genuine, and you can’t help but like her, or at least I couldn’t.  I began looking around online to read more about how Joanna and Chip became HGTV stars, and I stumbled across their website, which contains Joanna’s blog.  Sure enough, just as I did with Mary Kay Andrews’ blog, I began reading all the way back to the beginning. Joanna’s blog is sweet and real.  It has great decorating ideas and home décor inspirations.  She talks about juggling life as a busy working mom and offers tips on how she keeps it (mostly) together.  Though she’s religious, her newer posts aren’t overtly so.  They are spiritual, in a way that is meant to inspire.  Joanna tries to connect with everywoman, and I think she succeeds.  I will continue to follow this blog so long as she continues writing and posting those incredible photos.

(4)  Beth Hoffman’s blog:  Another author blog!  Beth Hoffman is hands-down one of my favorite authors, and I regularly recommend both of her books, Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt and Looking for Me.  Beth paints beautiful images with words, and her characters have both grace and depth and truly unique voices.  There’s no formula here, just inspiring, inspired, gorgeous writing.  I don’t read this blog regularly because Beth doesn’t blog regularly, but when she does, her posts are as thoughtful and well done as her novels.  She shares insight into her life, good and bad, and updates and photos from book tours.  I read all of Beth’s posts within a few days after I discovered her blog, and I only wish she wrote more often so I didn’t have to stop.  But if I had to choose, I’d prefer she focus on writing books, because I love those more. 

Bonus shout out:
There are three other blogs to which I subscribe (the posts arrive via email) but which I don’t read regularly.  All involve home improvement and décor.  I’m not sure where I stumbled upon the first two; mostly likely, I saw them on Facebook or in a magazine.  The third was mentioned in The Magnolia Market blog.  I enjoy all three and hope to catch up on them when life is slightly less hectic and I am in a house which is not for sale:

Should you feel up to it, feel free to share your fav blogs in the comments, either below or on Facebook.  I’m always looking for something good to read/look at online!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Last Song

Still blogging away alongside three other talented bloggers.  Each week, one of us chooses a topic and we all post a blog entry on that topic, usually on Thursdays.  (Usually we are on time.  Usually.  Ok, sometimes.)

Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:

This week, I asked everyone to write about that moment you knew you had to break up with someone.  If you’ve never been the breaker, write about the moment you knew you had to end a friendship or other relationship.  Here’s my take:

I’ve had my share of boyfriends; as such, I’ve had my share of break-ups.  Perhaps I’m lucky:  I’ve instigated the majority of the endings.  Or maybe that just means I’m picky.  Or hard to get along with.  I don’t know.  As logic dictates, I’ve broken up with different guys for different reasons.  More often than I’d care to admit, the reason involved the introduction of another guy into the mix.  What can I say?  I was young and the grass is always greener.  Of course, it never really was.

Between my first and second marriages, I didn’t date a whole lot, as I was already a parent.  The first guy I dated was someone I knew from law school and who had separated from his wife.  He lived out of state (where he clerked for a Federal judge) for the first year we dated, and after that, he decided to move to Chicago, closer to me.  He took an apartment on the Gold Coast, and we spent a fair amount of time together.  I liked him for many reasons:  he was hands-down one of the smartest people I’d ever known, he was soft-spoken and well mannered, he was open to being a stepfather, and he was easygoing.  He wasn’t the best-looking guy I’d ever dated, but he was cute enough, and anyway I’d already endured the downside of dating really good-looking guys (which is a blog topic for another day, but let’s just say it does, indeed, have its downsides).  As everyone does, this guy came with faults.  He was sometimes too soft-spoken, too quiet.  I come from a long-line of loud Italians; I’m not used to quiet, and soft-spoken is not in our vocabulary.  My Italian relatives would have chewed him up and spit him out.  He was also too easygoing.  He never had an opinion on anything.  I’d ask, “Where should we go for dinner?” and he’d say, “I don’t care.”  I’d ask, “What movie should we see?” and he’d say, “I don’t care.”  I’d ask, “Which TV show do you prefer?” and he’d say, “I don’t care.”  And he really didn’t care.  Which bothered me – how could he not ever have a preference?  I will wrestle the remote out of your hand if there is something I want to watch, and I’ll leave the room and go read a book if I lose the battle.  I care that much.  He didn’t have a favorite anything:  song, food, color, book.  At times, I felt like I was dating a jellyfish.  Worse, he was a loud chewer and loud drinker.  Ridiculously loud.  It was like eating with a large, bespectacled squirrel.  For a somewhat slightly built guy, he chomped like the Hulk.  I never felt comfortable pointing it out but it drove me crazy.  (One day, we were standing around my kitchen eating what he made sound like handfuls of marbles and talking with my friend, Michelle, who was telling a story.  Mid-sentence, she stopped, looked at him and said, “ . . .  and ohmygod are you a loud eater!”  I hid my smile.  I never loved her more than I loved her that day.)

So, there was the good and there was the bad, and things moved along.  We took a few trips together, one to his home state where I met his parents, lovely people who masticated at a normal volume, and then later to Los Angeles, one of my favorite places in the whole world.  I showed him my most loved sites:  places I’d lived, places I’d hung out, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.  We had a decent time.  And then he insisted we go to The Guitar Center in Hollywood.  He dabbled at acoustic guitar, so I said okay; after all, the store is rather iconic, and it held other memories for me of a different guy I’d briefly dated when I’d lived there years earlier.  We walked around the store, and he led me over to the electric guitars, the same instrument played – quite well – by my long-ago ex. 

And then it got weird.  So very, very weird because he proceeded to strum the electric guitar (it wasn’t plugged in, thank god) and TO SING TO ME.  IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORE.  And he chose one of my very favorite songs in the whole world, I’ll Be There for You by Bon Jovi.

Now, for some women, this moment would have felt remarkably romantic, something out of a rom-com movie or chick-lit book.  Um, have I mentioned how much I hate those two genres?  His intentions aside, the moment did not feel romantic.  It felt nauseating.  I?  Was mortified.  I wanted to disappear, to curl up into a teeny-tiny ball and roll away, away from the store I used to love, away from the people staring at us, away from the guy I knew and thought I liked.  My face burned and time stood still as I silently prayed he would stop. 

And it was at that moment I knew I had to end the relationship.

I cannot honestly say I broke up with him solely because he serenaded me – badly – in the middle of The Guitar Center in Hollywood.  It was more of a “straw-that-broke-the-loudly-chomping-camel’s-back” moment.  It took that event for me to realize the totality of the situation, to see that we truly were not compatible.  He was the kind of guy who serenaded a girl in public – badly – and he thought I was the kind of girl who liked that kind of thing.  I’m fairly certain the setting, too, provided the perfect break-up backdrop; after all, the place already reminded me of someone else, someone who could make any guitar come alive in a way that made it look easy, someone with presence and strong opinions, someone with whom I used to debate politics and who knew exactly what food he wanted for dinner.  Perhaps the contrast sparked something I couldn’t before see.  Either way, the die was cast.

I didn’t stay friends with the Guitar Center Serenader; he’s one of the few exes with whom I’ve lost touch.  I am still friends with the L.A. guy I dated, the one who played the guitar well, and I consciously try to associate Hollywood and The Guitar Center with him and not the mad, bad crooner.  In the end, I made the right call.  I simply could not imagine a life with someone with no opinion, someone who didn’t care one way or the other about much of anything, someone who chewed so loudly I wanted to lunge across the table and hold his lips together.  I envisioned years of cringing whenever I saw him pick up his guitar, of biting my lip until it bled whenever he tried to sing along with the car radio, of wondering how long it would take to hop on a plane, fly to the place where my L.A. ex lives, and share a burrito, talking about politics and music, his strong opinions music to my ears.