Ew, Gross.

By Victor1558, flickr, Creative Commons.

Her post-its are blank. What a phony.

 Ew, gross.

I just looked at the clock and said, “What?!? It’s five o’fucking clock?!?!?”

No one heard me. It’s just me in my little home office with the cat sleeping under the couch.

Here’s one of those moments in which I become extremely frustrated that I still have 3-4 hours of work to do. I wanted to jog tonight and then drink a beer. Oh, and, somehow, cook dinner.

Annoyed!

And then I realize the following:

1. I should be thankful. These work hours are billable.

2. I should be grateful. I’ve been in comfy clothes and no make-up all day.

3. I should shut the hell up, get this blog done, and return to work.

Which is exactly what I’m going to do now.

Blog is done.

Unhealthy Things I Do

Dive thru? Don’t mind if I do!

1. I Postpone Urination

If I’m busy and I don’t want to be interrupted by my body’s need to expel waste, I’ll negotiate with my bladder. For instance, I have to finish this blog before I go.

2. I Eat Benadryl

Sometimes I chomp half a Benadryl to fall asleep. It happens so frequently that Lou and I call them “Bennies”.

3. I Don’t Take Vitamins

Lou insists that vegetarians should always take vitamins. I insist that my daily Luna bar is good enough. I’m pretty sure I’m wrong.

4. I Don’t Stretch

I hike. Lately, I’ve been jogging. But, I never, ever stretch. Even though it feels good to stretch, I get bored. All that counting!

5. I Do the Midnight Berto’s Run

Yeah, I admit it. After drinks and a night out, there’s nothing better than paying the cabbie an extra $5 in fare for a $2 quesadilla. Hey, I’m a Phoenician, through and through.

Five Tips for Blogging When You’re Not in the Mood

By Howdy, I'm H. Michael Karshis on flickr Creative Commons.

Precisely.

Five Tips for Blogging When You’re Not in the Mood

5. Think of other abandoned blogs.

Try to recall that feeling when you checked one of the blogs you follow only to find that the writer had not posted anything new in months. Kind of a bummer, right? Don’t do that to the readers you’ve worked so hard to gain.

4. Write a list.

People love to read lists. It’s very popular, sure, but it’s also an easy way to get in and out of the points you’d like to explore in your blog. Or, more accurately, the points you wouldn’t like to explore because you’re not in the mood. Whatever. It gets the job done.

3. Don’t dig too deep.

Write about the first thing that pops in your mind. Guess what that was for me today? If you guessed, “Man, I’m not in the mood to blog,” you are correct. Nice work.

2. Start a chat.

Start an online chat with a friend to get those fingers jamming on the keyboard. I usually start mine with, “I don’t know what to blog about.” Then my friend will give me some ideas. Then I reject those ideas and come up with something on my own. Knowing what you don’t want to write about is extremely helpful.

1. Look around.

One day, I was not in the mood to blog. So I walked into my kitchen, looked at the junk hanging on our refrigerator, and found some inspiration. That’s how this blog post was born.

Now, stop reading this post and get to it, you!

Special Announcement: Ms. Menconi has Retired!

Us kids with Mom on her graduation day.

I skipped a Teacher Appreciation Week blog. I wanted to save my mother’s story for today.

Because…

Roxana Menconi, after 25 years of service as an elementary school educator, has officially retired!

YEAH!

It’s no secret that I have endless admiration for my mother.

Among adults, she’s rather intimidating. She’s six feet tall, intensely private, and has a stoic disposition. She’s direct in her communications — a real straight shooter. And she rarely makes jokes or purposely tries to charm others.

So, of course, she’s naturally charming in an adorable way.

With children, however, her true personality is exposed.

She’s never gushy or belittling  and she doesn’t baby talk (even with actual babies). Instead, she speaks to children like a normal human being. She expertly explains complex concepts in concrete terms so they immediately understand.

She makes kids feel smart. And safe.

Recently, she was ill and I helped her make preparations for her substitute. She didn’t consult notes or a laptop but was able to explain to me, line by line, where to find files, how to edit documents, and where to send her lesson plans.

I was amazed.

“What do you expect? She’s a master educator,” my brother said when I described the scene.

He’s right. But she had to work like a dog to become one.

After ten years as a housewife, my parents divorced. So she returned to school and earned a Master’s Degree in Education.

Those first few years as a teacher were pretty rough.

She woke up early each day to prepare five sack lunches. Then she dragged her reluctant kids out of bed, fed us breakfast, got us dressed, and rushed us to school…sometimes barely making the bell. Her work day was spent motivating 30+ children to stay curious, to want to read, to enjoy math, and to keep thinking.

After the school day was over, she herded her own kids home, zoomed around to soccer practice and piano lessons, then cooked a home-made dinner, washed the dishes, and put us to bed.

Then, she’d stay up until 3 a.m. grading papers and writing her lesson plans.

Oh, did I mention she was 40 years old when she started this career?

That was my mother’s life. For years on end.

To this day, strangers approach me, excited, “Are you Roxana Menconi’s daughter?”

“Yes.”

“She was my teacher! How is she? Tell her I say hi!”

I always relay the message.

I want her to know that it was all worth it.

Her kids remember her.

Congratulations, Mom. I’m really, really proud to be one of your many kids.

Ms. Menconi on school picture day, 2012.

Oh, Yoko!

The girl’s got guts!

I will forever defend Yoko Ono.

To most artsy folks, this isn’t a big deal.

But, I’ve surprised a few people when, after someone slams her for the Beatles break-up or her music, I’ve openly praised her.

I love her art. And I think that her romance with John Lennon is an inspiring love story.

When I first learned about her performance art piece titled Cut Piece, I was blown away.

Ono sat in front of a crowd, provided them with a pair of scissors, and simply instructed them to “cut.” As a passive participant, she remained stoic until her clothes were entirely removed.

Imagine what it was like to invite that experience.

She made multiple performances in different countries. And, each time, she didn’t know what was going to happen. She completely resigned herself to a crowd of strangers and calmly accepted their actions as each person chose to pick up the scissors, cut, and expose her.

Man, that takes guts.

Of course, that’s just one example. She’s continued to make thoughtful art in the decades since.

And then there’s her partnership with John. Lou and I recently watched a documentary about them. Say what you want about the pair’s politics and public persona…I like them because they were so totally in love with each other. All they wanted to do was be next to one another all the time. And I think that’s a wonderful thing to see.

Oh, Yoko!

I love you.

Oops! I almost forgot to post a link to this sweet song, “Oh, Yoko!

Sometimes, I Scare Myself

Keith Williamson, flickr, Creative Commons.

Perhaps I should just stick to squiggly lines.

“Don’t post shit about eating  just a handful of tomatoes, you bitch. You pissed me off!”

A dear friend kindheartedly said this yesterday in response to my “I love being thin” blog post. We were laughing about it together but it definitely fed right into my own, personal aftermath of writing about such a scary thing.

My poor husband has had to listen to endless self-absorbed and insecure questions:

“Do you think I was being a total dick?”

“Oh god, do you think this is why my blog stats dipped for a couple days?”

“I hope so-and-so doesn’t hate me now.”

Etc.

I know I’m supposed to be the writer here…I’m supposed to play the part of the staunchly unapologetic figure who offers unwavering opinions.

But, that’s just not who I am. I never have been.

I wish I could be more like my other writer/artist friends. They all seem to have perfected the skill of easily batting away doubts or criticism with a simple, “If they don’t get it, fuck ‘em.”

My husband, who spent more than a decade on stage, playing music for huge crowds (or, sometimes, empty rooms), is an expert at letting stuff like this roll off his back.

I say “stuff like this” as if there’s some sort of evidence to justify this internal struggle. Truth is, I haven’t even received much feedback from that post. No hate mail. No harsh words.

This is all in my fucked up head.

So why do I write when I know I may hurt someone’s feelings and then have to put myself and my husband through days of worrying about the impact of my words to the mere handful of people that constitute my readership even when I don’t have any proof that I’ve pissed anyone off to begin with?

I don’t fucking know!

And it’s really annoying.

All I know is that I tried to not be a writer for over a year. I was bored, under-stimulated, and miserable.

So here I am. Writing. Plunging into daily self-indulgence and insisting that I expose this vile exercise to others.

And, potentially, causing people to hate me.

I guess the only thing that I can ask from my readers who take offense by my writing (which, with time, will most likely include all my readers) is to please keep reading.

I promise I’ll soon write some silly shit again that will make you laugh and feel good.

Deal?

Water, Giver of Life

By dr_relling, flickr, Creative Commons.

Gulp.

I’m ridiculously picky about the water I drink.

Probably because I drink a lot of it. In fact, other than one cup of coffee in the morning and boozy drinks at night, it’s my ONLY beverage.

Here’s a list of the best and worst, according to me.

Aquafina

This is my go-to brand. Clean, easy…no surprises.

Best-tasting scenario: Chugging it before you’ve purchased it while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, you badass.

Fiji

My second favorite of the bottled waters. But it sort of tastes like it just trickled off a boulder. Based on the packaging, that’s probably what they were going for.

Best-tasting scenario: When you’re not using the cup-holder in your car so its square-shaped bottle won’t piss you off.

Brita

If it’s the Brita at my in-laws house, terrible. If it’s the Brita at our house, pretty good. I have no idea why this happens.

Best-tasting scenario: When you’re a freelance writer and you don’t have the money to buy a real purifier for your sink.

PUR

Tastes like copper pipes. Don’t waste your money. And, it broke our faucet.

Best-tasting scenario: If you’re so metal, you like to taste it.

PUR + Brita

This didn’t work at all. It made the water taste dirtier than the tap. How is this possible?

Best-tasting scenario: If you ate mud when you were a kid and you’re feeling nostalgic.

Lou and the other lady in our lives.

The Lady

The best water I’ve ever tasted in the entire world. Only available in Bargemon, France. This is frigid water from a mountain spring that pours out of the statue (of a lady) in the middle of town.

Best-tasting scenario: All the fucking time.

Four Peaks

Second best to the lady. Their brewing filtration system makes their water the most delicious in town.

Best-tasting scenario: After you’ve eaten those deep fried potato cheese balls…washes the guilt right down.

smartwater

I know I’m supposed to like this but I don’t. Screw the vitamins, this doesn’t quench my thirst, no matter how much I drink.

Best-tasting scenario: When you want to make others believe that you’re a healthy person.

Dasani

Why does this taste sweet? Freaks me out.

Best-tasting scenario: When you’re feeling desperate at a Target.

La Croix

Don’t even bother with other carbonated waters. This brand is IT. Naturally flavored and zero sodium, zero sugar, zero everything. Personal favorite: Lime.

Best-tasting scenario: When you could use a satisfying belch (or, according to my husband, if you don’t have tonic water for your gin).

Kirkland

Like all other things Kirkland, this gets the job done.

Best-tasting scenario: When you’re mooching a bottle from mom’s stockpile of palettes.

Arrowhead

Yuck. Tastes like dirt and I hate it. The #1 worst.

Best-tasting scenario: When you’re lost in a desert and you’re sick of tasting your own urine.

My New Favorite Thing: WTF with Marc Maron

Image taken from www.wtfpod.com

WTF with Marc Maron is my new favorite thing. Not only is it a fantastic and hilarious podcast but the guy is a cat lover and that automatically makes him awesome.

I have a new favorite thing. And I have to give complete credit to my best friend for this one.

Since we’ve reconnected, she has recommended (over and over and over again) that I listen to Marc Maron’s podcast called WTF.

I’ve probably only finished five episodes but I’m in love.

Maron is a long-time standup comedian who has worked the circuit with talents like Louis C.K., Margaret Cho, David Cross and pretty much every other successful comic you can imagine.

I had never heard of him before. It seems that, although he’s been doing comedy for decades and has a long history with industry big-hitters, he’s been largely overlooked.

Until he started this podcast.

It works like this: He interviews celebrity comedians (and some musicians or other creative types) from his garage. Every show is introduced with a “bit” by Maron (this is my favorite part and it’s usually just a super-hilarious rant about his personal life) and then you listen to the interview.

But, come to think of it, “interview” isn’t the best word to describe what Maron does.

It’s a conversation. A really interesting one.

And we get to eavesdrop.

Sure, he kicks it off with a few questions but before you know it, Maron is frankly discussing the ache of gambling addiction with Norm MacDonald or cracking up with David Cross about living in a roach-infested apartment in 1980′s Los Angeles.

It’s a mix of funny life stories and a whole lot of talk about process.

The process of developing concepts, exploring a creative voice, attaining success, swallowing failure, and feeling like a clueless hack throughout the whole thing.

I particularly identify with that last part.

So, if you’re someone who is swimming through molasses each day as you attempt to scrape together a living by being creative, listen to this podcast.

If anything, you’ll learn that you’re not alone. And you’ll probably laugh your ass off in the process.

 

P.S.

I became a premium member for just $9 per year. You should probably do that, too.