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Sniff On My Costa Rican Chalet

Word. 

A couple of months ago, the folks at People StyleWatch Magazine asked me to contribute some new buzzwords for 2013.  Despite what my husband may have told you, I take direction just fine and was delighted to comply with their request.  




The one they liked the best was "Unreal Estate":

February 2013 Issue - On Newsstands Now!
 
Unreal Estate - The coveted homes that viewers of reality real estate and home-design shows love to fantasize about.  A person’s portfolio of unreal estate allows her to live vicariously in amazing properties all over the world – an experience which she very much enjoys.

Many thanks to the People StyleWatch editors for sharing my contribution with their readers - and for plugging The CHICKtionary!


Just for fun, here are some of the others... 

Pinhole - Someone who leaves snarky, unwelcome comments on others' Pinterest posts.   

"I can't believe some pinhole mocked the motivational
poster I added to my Inspirations Board."

Blingosaurus - A woman whose embellished accessories, multiple layers of clothing and painstaking gait associated with extremely tall shoes give her the substantial, armored presence of the now-extinct land animals that roamed the earth millions of years ago.   

"When she added the studded hobo and the fur-trimmed
pashmina and the statement necklace - that's when
she entered blingosaurus territory."

Keyboreding - The practice of killing time by aimlessly surfing the Web, social media sites, blogs, etc.  Keyboreding involves hopping from one site to another in a manner that begins randomly but soon transitions into a strategic, scorched-earth search for information about exes and others of romantic interest, including photos of their (hopefully) trollish spouses.   

"Okay, I have to make plans for Sunday or else
I'll end up spending the day keyboreding."

Toddlerazzi - The crush of aggressively doting parents wielding iPhones, cameras and other recording devices at any child-oriented location or event.   

"I went to my niece's recital and could not get anywhere
near the stage thanks to the crush of toddlerazzi."
 
Gracebooking– The practice of using your Facebook account for humanitarian causes, particularly those to which you have a personal, first-hand connection.  

"Well, I've helped get a puppy adopted and
I've raised donations for the senior center library.
Feeling pretty good about my gracebooking today!"

Selfie - An iPhone photo of oneself with the objective of looking hot, and which is immediately posted on Instagram or Facebook.  The selfie often employs a variety of hotness-enhancing techniques, including mood lighting, strategic framing and duck face.

"Just discovered that the light in my bathroom
is perfect for taking selfies!"  

[Full disclosure:  I did not coin "selfie," but it made me laugh so hard I had to include it.]

Selfie Fatigue - 1.  The frustration experienced by a person who has exhausted the repertoire of poses for new selfies.  2.  The frustration experienced by those in the social media world who are sick and tired of looking at your endless barrage of selfies.  

"Okay, that's the last duck face of Camille's that I can handle.
My selfie fatigue has driven me to unfollow!"

Smacdown - The competitive comparison of one's Apple products - particularly the iPhone and related accessories - to someone else's.   

"Ouch, Jason just lost a smacdown with his girlfriend's ex.
I told him those ear buds were so 2011."

Skypographical error – When you accidentally “misdial” on Skype, leading to a number of potentially uncomfortable and/or humorous scenarios.   

"Thanks to a Skypographical error, I just had
an awkward half-hour face-chat with
the needy ex-roommate who stole my pants."

Wi-gration - The act of wandering from spot to spot in search of WiFi (or an improved WiFi connection). People in the process of Wi-gration can be seen stalking through coffee shops, malls and other public spaces while staring intently at their electronic devices for evidence of connectivity.  
 
"When word got around that the connection
seemed to get stronger beyond Gate 32B,
there was a mass Wi-gration through the terminal."

 


It's My Party And I'll Resent Armageddon If I Want To.

Back Off, Mayans.


Have you all heard about this new movie - "2012?" Chock full of mind-bending special effects and a story that hinges on the fact that - according to the ancient Mayan calendar - the world will end on December 21st, 2012...?

(Yes, that movie called "2012.")

All right, well, I don't like it. Not one bit. Why? Because...not to make the imminent destruction of the world all about me or anything, but...

Hello?!? December 21st is my BIRTHDAY!

You think it's easy putting a NASCAR-themed fondue party together four days before Christmas? I swear, it's like people are just looking for an excuse not to make it. And now this. I can just hear it:

  • "Sorry, Anna, but the world's about to end and I've got to return these movies to Blockbuster."
  • "Can't make it, Anna. The earth is imploding and I need to lash my family to a raft."
  • "Oops, bad timing, Big A. The world is crumbling and this seems like an ideal time to finish writing that novel."
Come on. These are only slightly better than the excuses I heard last year.

The Grudge.

I know why the ancient Mayans are doing this. Two years ago, they came to my birthday party, sucked down all the wine coolers and started looking for trouble. While I was making a run to the Gas 'N Sip to reload on Snapple and Circus Peanuts, they rearranged all of my neighbor's patio pavers and started shooting pre-Columbian hoop against the side of his house. You've never heard such trash talk. Let's just say my neighbor (I'll call him Father O'Murphy) was not amused.

Naturally, I did not invite them to last year's party, but you know how hard it is to keep a social event secret. (Especially when you accidentally mail an invitation and then try to take it back.) I regret to say that ancient Mayan feelings may have been bruised as a result.

And you know the old saying:

"If you're going to mess with an ancient Mayan,
you'd better have a friend idling nearby in a fast car.
A V-8, ideally. And, for God's sakes, make sure there's gas in it."

Check Your Calendar.

The good news is, I think I've found a loophole on this world destruction deal.

See, I don't follow the ancient Mayan calendar. (I can hear them coming when they sell them door-to-door so I mute the TV and lie down behind the sofa until they're all the way off the porch and on to the next house.)

For years now, I have instead followed the City of Oxnard Employee Credit Union calendar, partly because they don't enforce any particular date for world destruction, but mostly because each month has its own miniature illustration harkening back to a time when life was less complicated and, apparently, more glitter-coated.

So take that, party-poopers! You may tip over a few monuments, but you will not be spoiling my fondue fete, even three years in advance.

Speaking of which, I'd better buy that dipping cheese now and put it aside for the party. With all the pre-destruction panic, you know the cheese market will be through the roof.

 
[Note:  This is a re-issue of a previous post from - you guessed it - the last time the dang Mayans tried to make my birthday all about them.  I swear, just when I think I'm out of the woods, they push the Armageddon date back a liiiiittle bit further.]

Party at Adam's!

B.Y.O. Lorne Greene

By now, you no doubt have heard of my funny and charming bud Adam Heath Avitable.  

He recently sent me some very interesting interview questions.  My responses can be found right now on his blog where they are waiting to be read.   

By you.  [Ahem]

While you're there, make sure to check out Adam's standup clips and books, including his "50 Shades" parody, "28 Shades of Chartreuse."  Heh.

Thank you for the fabulous interview, Adam!


And Now, For a Pre-Recorded Message

Is This Thing On?

I recently took a break from working on my highly anticipated BBQ cookbook...

...to be a guest on Brett Chapin's "LA LA Land" - a national talk radio (and Web TV) show that airs every Saturday at 3:00 pm PST on CRN.  

We had the best time talking about:

a)  jeggings
b)  fun with hate mail
c)  lack of fun with bikini waxing
d)  how, on the whole, women gracefully navigate a lot of crap
e)  all of the above - and more

Answer:  E, baby!

The show is posted in segments and I've included one of them below, but you can find all of them on YouTube.

Thanks so much for having me on, Brett!  And I hope you're all having a fantastic summer!


[If you can't see the video, please click here.]

In keeping with the spirit of Mother's Day, I'd like to offer my own version of this LMFAO toe-tapper.

This goes out with love to all the mommies!

I'm Mommy and I Know It

Yeah, yeah
When I walk to school, kids look at me like, darn, she’s cool
I bounce to the beat, workin’ that crosswalk in my Shape-Ups feet
They see me stroll, my tricked-out Bugaboo is how I roll
My kiddie humor is oh-so-droll
And just like Oprah, I’m in control

Child, look at these highlights
Child, look at these invites
Child, look at these nite-nites
Ah-ah, I wake up!

Child, look at that swingset
Child, look at that new pet,
Child, look at that what you get
Ah-ah, I wake up!

When I walk on the school yard, this is what I see
Everybody stops and they’re staring at me
I got tissues in my purse and I ain’t afraid to
blow it, blow it, blow it, blow it

I’m Mommy and I know it.

Yeah
When I’m at the mall, I nurse like a pro when I hear the call
When I’m at the beach, I put sunscreen on my baby’s cheeks
This is how it is, and on the side I got a jewelry-makin’ biz
We gotta fix the van but don’t be nervous
’Cuz no one fears me like customer service

Child, look at these highlights
Child, look at these invites
Child, look at these nite-nites
Ah-ah, I wake up!

Child, look at that swingset
Child, look at that new pet,
Child, look at that what you get
Ah-ah, I wake up!

When I walk into dance class, this is what I see
Everybody stops and they’re staring at me
I got tissues in my purse and I ain’t afraid to
blow it, blow it, blow it, blow it

I’m Mommy and I know it.

Check it out:

Juggle, juggle, juggle, juggle, juggle, yeah
Juggle, juggle, juggle, juggle, juggle, yeah
Juggle, juggle, juggle, juggle, juggle, yeah
Do the juggle mom
I do the juggle mom
I’m Mommy and I know it.

Child, look at these highlights
Child, look at these invites
Child, look at these nite-nites
Ah-ah, I wake up!

Child, look at that swingset
Child, look at that new pet,
Child, look at that what you get
Ah-ah, I wake up!

I’m Mommy and I know it!



An Open Letter to the Dayton Marriott

Dear Dayton Marriott Management,

Thank you for your recent communication of 4/23/12 (forwarded to me by your corporate legal department and hereinafter known as "the steaming pantload") regarding my recent stay at your hotel while attending the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the various allegations therein, all most some of which are completely without merit and may adversely affect your hotel's score on the guest survey card which I have yet to complete and mail in.

First, it is outrageous and preposterous to assume that my suitcase was responsible for the malfunction and ultimate failure of elevator #3.  I believe the security tapes will show that the fault lies not with my sleek, utilitarian baggage but with the housekeeping staff member riding in the elevator with me and struggling under the weight of 3-4 thick, fluffy and obviously highly absorbent bath towels made from an exotic strain of imported cotton known to be both unstable and, well, really heavy. 

Second, it saddens me to know that the microwave cozy I crocheted for (keynote speaker and comedy legend) Alan Zweibel and stapled to his hotel room door left him feeling (as your so-called report puts it) "disturbed and anxious" rather than relaxed and heartwarmed as I intended.  As for my decision to staple it to his door at 3:14 am, I believe the logic behind that strategy is self-evident.  That being said, I really don't see how this matter is any of your bossy hotel security team's business, as Mr. Zweibel has thoughtfully begun a separate correspondence with me regarding this matter.  And when I see him in at our appointed court date, I will finally have the opportunity to tell him in person how much I admire his work.

With respect to the cake, I would like to remind you that I am an attendee/presenter in good standing at the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop with all rights and privileges thereof, including - but not limited to - assorted desserts, baked goods and non-dairy creamer.  I have reviewed my official workshop documents and have found no language that asserts a fixed limit on the number of desserts an individual attendee may commandeer, assuming those desserts have not yet been laid claim to by another attendee.  As those slices of carrot cake were unclaimed at the time I consumed them (fact:  not a single person had even entered the ballroom yet when I stumbled across the pieces of cake at tables 14-17), I herewith reject your catering bill of $276.55 and demand that you reverse the charge in the aforementioned amount that you ran on my Mastercard.

Lastly, in the matter of the white school bus, it was my understanding that the bus was no longer in service as a shuttle for workshop attendees at the time I drove that out-of-state drum and bugle corps to Arby's for a late afternoon snack.  (Those kids must really have been practicing hard, because I have never seen young people with munchies like this in my life.)  I believe a review of the facts will clarify that it was completely beyond my control that the bus ran out of fuel on the way back to the hotel and had to be abandoned on the shoulder of the I-75.  And also, if you don't want anyone borrowing your vehicles, you probably shouldn't leave the keys in the lockbox under the registration desk where people can easily find them.

In summation, I have no doubt that we will be able to reach an equitable settlement in the matters above, especially in light of the fact that I have now returned the 769 facial soaps, 412 miniature bottles of body lotion, harvest gold woven blanket and pneumatic desk chair that I mistakenly interpreted to be gratis souvenirs of my stay at your hotel.

Note:  please address all future correspondence directly to me, as I have terminated my dealings with my previous counsel (who, it turns out, characterizes an evening of foofy-drink-fueled line dancing followed by a late-night half-stack at the Waffle House out by the airport as a "bizarro, one-off odyssey" rather than the sublime prelude to long-term romance we both knew damn well it was up until that unfortunate incident Saturday morning).

Thank you and good luck,

Anna Lefler


WOW.

So here's the thing:  the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop was amazing.  (I hesitate to apply this word because it is so overused these days, but this instance calls for it.)  Other words come to mind, such as inspirational, humbling, hilarious, educational, magical and poignant.  I could go on and on, but I will simply say that, for me, unforgettable is the word that best captures every aspect of my four days and three icing-flecked nights among my fellow humorists and heroes in Dayton.

To the organizers of the workshop who paid me the tremendous honor of inviting me to teach two of the sessions, to the folks who spent their time listening in the audience, to the people who went out of their way to ask questions, share experiences and pay compliments, to the warm and gracious Bombeck family who welcomed me into their company at dinner, and to every attendee and speaker, I would like to say THANK YOU.  From my heart.

You can find out more about the workshop at their website.  And you can see lots of photos from the weekend on the EBWW Facebook page.  

The next workshop will be held in 2014.

See you there.

 Dinner with Erma's husband Bill and daughter Betsy.
 

In Which I Sprain My Dominant Boob

...And Forget to Ask About the Specials

The scene: An elegant Italian ristorante on the good stretch of Ventura Boulevard. (Let's call it Il Primundo Novo al Allegro Grappa.) A rare date-night opportunity while Morticia and Gomez are at the middle school dance for three glorious, drama-laden hours. Candlelight. Genuine faux-Italian background music and a platoon of grinning waiters displaying theme-appropriate levels of swarthiness.

Jon Bon Jovi (not my husband's real name) and I are shown to a table for two in the front window and we begin to settle in. I slip off my coat and reach around to hang it on the back of my chair...reaching...reaching...a little further...and...







My chest seizes up
.

Not in a "next comes the pain down my left arm/cardiac event" kind of way. And not in a "zing! went the strings of my heart/Judy Garland" kind of way.

No, more of a "I just broke my boob" kind of way.

"Hmprhzork," I say, and spin back to a frontal position with both arms across my chest as if 1) I were pledging eternal allegiance to Emperor Vorgon of the Quang Galaxy, or 2) I have just dropped my nunchuks.

"What's the matter with you?" Jon Bon Jovi says, flipping open the menu.

"I...I just blew out a boob," I wheeze.

He slaps the menu down and leans across the table before realizing he has stuck his chin in the genuine Italian candle. He huffs and moves the candle, then leans in again. "How did that happen? I mean," his eyes dart left to right and he lowers his voice, "is that even possible?"

"I don't know! I didn't invent the dang things, I'm just an owner-operator!"

Wincing, I hunch my shoulders forward and rub my chest with my forearms, tongue lolling in the corner of my mouth.

"Stop that!" he says, opening his menu again and trying to cover me with it. "Do you want people to think you're a Kardashian or something?"

"But it hurts!" I attempt to sit up straight. "And it's my dominant boob!"

Jon Bon Jovi freezes. "I'm sorry, your what?"

"You know, my dominant one. The leading lady. The first string. The prima ballerina. The big dog. The--"

"OhmyGodstop," he says, falling back into his chair. "You don't really have a, um, dominant one...do you?" He looks at me like he's wondering whether I'm the kind of person who has a favorite kidney. (Which would be weird. Right?)

"Well, of course I do."

Jon Bon Jovi takes a deep, cleansing breath - the kind he takes when the children and I pause the TV to explain "America's Next Top Model" to him.

"Okay, then. So let me ask you this: what do you call the other, ah, non-dominant one?"

"Hello?!?" I roll my eyes. "It's called the back-up boob? Was I your first girlfriend or something?"

He shakes his head and tosses his napkin in his lap. "Next you'll be telling me they have names."

"Don't be ridiculous," I say with a snort. "They're nicknames."

Kind of Like Buddha...

...But With More Muffintop

As you know, I come from a long line of stupidass, and so it was especially fitting that I spent last week fielding questions over at StupidAssQuestions.com.


Here are my thoughtful, penetrating responses to a week's worth of some, um...interesting inquiries.

What can I say? It's just my small way of giving back...

Excuse Me, I Speak Blog

Yes, That's an "Airplane" Reference
So, anyway, I was thinking about how much information I've absorbed in the six months or so that I've been workin' my corner here in the blogosphere. Anyone who blogs knows there's a bit of a learning curve when you first start - the sure was for me, anyway.

I've relished in my small (okay, microscopic) triumphs as I've felt my way along, figuring out little things about posts and layouts. I think it's kind of tough for non-bloggers to relate, though.

For instance, the other day I scampered into the kitchen, fresh from my desktop, to tell Jon Bon Jovi (not my husband's real name) something I'd just figured out on the ol' blog.


"OK, so the Blogger template wasn't giving me the option I wanted, so I went into the HTML and found the notation for the main background and then I inserted a new hex code and totally changed the color to the one I wanted!"

Poor Jon Bon Jovi. It's just not fair to do that to a husband. I could practically see the thoughts going through his mind as he stood there, frozen, coffee mug in hand:


OK, I know something good just happened and I want to be supportive, but I have no flippin' idea what she's talking about.


Wait, am I
supposed to know what she's talking about?

Oh crap, have we (God forbid) talked about this befo
re and I've forgotten about it? Be cool! Play it off...

Now, hold on, she's usually only this excited when she buys something expensive. What the hell has she bought now?

It's an understandable reaction, after all. If someone had started yammering to me about HTML seven months ago, I'd have advised them to seek counseling.


One aspect of the blog world that fascinates me is the array of acronyms, like ROFL, IMHO, LMAO, etc. I still have to stop and decode them each time (duh!), but I find them very entertaining.


And so, in an effort to do my part to contribute to the lexicon of this new world of which I am so fond, I offer a few blog-specific acronyms of my own:

TBBGIIMC - This Better Be Good - I'm Ignoring My Children

ISSBFMFTC - I Smell Smoke But First Must Finish This Comment

BE
- Banner Envy

PWCEBB
- Proceed With Caution: Extremely Bitter Blogger

JHTMF
- Just Here To Mooch Followers

SICS - Seizure-Inducing Color Scheme

ECIZ
- Extreme Crafts Intimidation Zone

UMO
- Unwarranted Music Onslaught

CPA
- Comment Performance Anxiety

INTGTTBFFHN - I've Needed To Go To The Bathroom For Four Hours Now


This is an encore of a post that originally ran way back in 2008. I was inspired to do so by my bud Kim Moldofsky who blogs at Hormone Colored Days. Kim served as a kick-ass Community Leader in my session at Blissdom and, while we were chatting, she mentioned that she'd always remembered this post and how much it made her laugh.

I hope I conveyed how much her comment meant to me at the time, because it sure made my day. Thanks, Kim. YAOSCAL (You Are One Super Cool-Ass Lady)


My Erma Bombeck Contest Entry

Perception Is Reality-ish

I don’t remember the minister inserting air quotes into our wedding vows. Then again, my vision at the time was clouded by multiple layers of tulle and mascara—not to mention a professionally tightened chignon that stretched my eyes so far sideways I was starting to resemble a Gila monster.

I believe, however, that a review of our wedding video would reveal the moment when the reverend rolled his eyes heavenward, waggled his fingers at the dearly beloveds in attendance, and applied a pair of floating punctuation marks to a key word of our blessed troth: in “sickness” and in health.

Everyone is prepared to stand by their spouse if, God forbid, they are faced with a serious illness. That’s a sacred part of the deal, after all.

No, it’s not the sickness that wears on the marriage—it’s the “sickness.” It’s the aches and twinges that must be discussed and assuaged to the point that you would welcome a bullet in the thigh if it meant never having to hear another word about his sensitive toe. Or his acid tummy. Or his pre-sore throat.

“I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” he said, peering up at me through rheumy eyes as I perched bedside.

“I think you’ll pull through,” I said.

“I want you to know that, when the time comes, I trust you to make the decision about...life support.”

“You realize that cord you’re holding leads to a lamp, not a respirator?”

“Look at you, putting on a brave face.” He patted my hand.

“Listen, when they invent a durable power of attorney for the sniffles I’ll prop you up so you can sign it. In the meantime, your office called—it’s your turn to take doughnuts for the staff meeting.”

“I’ll never make it.” He rolled over with a moan.

These were the times I wanted to use bad words. Words like episiotomy. And perimenopause. Words I once thought of as afflictions but now categorized as “lifestyles,” in the same way I had come to think of my reading glasses as “streetwear.”

But, wait—this could be the answer. I couldn’t change the behavior, but I could change the label, like the time I blacked out from the flu while selling Girl Scout cookies in the Jiffy Mart parking lot then told the other moms I had been “multi-tasking.”

It was matrimony meets Madison Avenue and it just might work. I congratulated myself on my new, strategic mindset.

No, my husband wasn’t bedridden from a runny nose.

He was on a “spiritual mini-retreat.”

Yeah...he’s Zen like that.

Erma Rules

You can find out more about the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition here.

And I hope to see all of you who are Erma enthusiasts at the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop in Dayton April 19-21.

I'm on the faculty for the 2012 conference (ahem, pardon me while I adjust my cravat) and I'll be running a workshop titled "Brand to Book - Creating an Online Voice that Opens Doors" as well as leading sunrise calisthenics on the lawn of the Dayton Marriott.


And Speaking of Conferences...

Blissdom '12 is this weekend in Nashville and it promises to be epic in its, well...epicness.

I'm stoked to be attending for the first time, and my enthusiasm has not been dampened in the least by the fact that my movement to call the conference "BlissDOME" has failed to gain real momentum. (The hotel where it's being held is a dome...get it? Blissdom + dome = Blissdome? Okay, whatever!)

Anyway, I hope to see many of you there this weekend. Here's where you can find me when I'm not practicing my line-dancing in the Grand Ol' Opry parking lot:

Friday, Feb. 24 at 4:00 pm - CHICKtionary Book Signing at the Barnes & Noble booth in the Expo

Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2:30 - I'll be running a hands-on editing workshop called "More Method to Your Madness"

Side note: I might also be wearing one of those hats that holds a beverage on top and has straws running down the sides. It depends on whether I can find one that goes with my sheepskin peasant skirt.

In any case, I look forward to seeing you there!



Valentine...

...Defined


Happy Valentine's Day!


Now, get out there
and bag some romance!

And remember:
no matter what happens,
you guys are
like a brother to me
the best.


For Crying Out Loud

And Laughing, Too

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the super-swank podcast "For Crying Out Loud," hosted by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor and Lynette Carolla (yes, lovely wife to Adam).


It. Was. So. FUN.


The podcast is now available on iTunes - or you can listen/download right on the "For Crying Out Loud" website.

And, as further evidence that the best things in life are, in fact, free, the bottom-line price to own this episode (or any other, for that matter) is:

That's right! Rest assured that today's burrito budget will remain intact no matter how many times you download the podcast.

And Now, A Brief Quiz

Which grown-uppy topics* were covered on the most recent episode of "For Crying Out Loud?"

a. food porn
b. flapjacks (note: not the popular breakfast food)
c. Brazilian bikini waxing
d. chumps
e. household nudity
f. all of the above and more

If you bubbled in "F" then you just won yourself a totally FREE download of "For Crying Out Loud!"
And you know what...?

Since you're such a good-lookin' crowd and I like each and every one of you personally, I'm going to extend that prize and say that no matter which letter you bubbled in, you STILL win a completely FREE download of the show!

[insert trumpet/trombone fanfare here]

MANY THANKS to ACE Broadcasting, Lynette Carolla, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor and Producer Gary (who is a total babe, btw) for inviting me to be a guest!

(*Yes, we talk about some adult topics on the podcast, just so you're prepared...)


Daily Affirmation #FAIL

Thanks. I Got It.

I love the uplifting app I started using January 1, but this particular entry makes me more tired than inspired:


Yes. I know.

It comes with being a parent.


I Am a 12-Year-Old Boy

And Here's the Proof

Ever since Morticia and Gomez (my children) introduced me to Ragestache, I've been obsessed with it.

Then again, I still convulse with snort-laughs every time I see the opening UPS-guy scene of "Ace Ventura." (When did that movie come out? 1994? EVERY TIME.)

After laughing at so many comics on the site, I had to try my hand at making one of my own. (Thankfully, this kind of "me, too!" crap only crops up occasionally and not, for instance, when I'm sitting on the sofa watching NASCAR or Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling. (Okay, it happens with NASCAR.)

Anyway, I made a comic and I'm sharing it with you because we're tight like that. I hope it gives you a giggle. It may also explain why I'm not on as many school committees as I used to be.

And now that I'm done playing, I need to go do my pre-algebra homework and take a bath. (Awww, man, no fair!)

Ragestache

If you can't see the liquid awesomeness flowing above, click this link.

[ARGH - It doesn't fit in my column no matter what I do. Just click on it to see it full-size at the site. Sorry about that.]


Wake Up and Smell the Adhesive Brassiere

Or: The Lies Our Undies Tell Us

Over the holiday break, I gave my clothes closet a thorough exorcism cleaning. (Yes, I'm fun like that.)

It was during these excavations that I unearthed this item:


Or, more specifically, this item:


Also known as THIS ITEM:


I know. What. The. H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks?

I was so thrown by this discovery that I had to collapse onto a heap of discarded leg warmers and bootleg bikini bottoms to regroup.

I had no memory of buying this marvel of modern engineering, but (as I was relatively certain it belonged to me and not my husband) clearly I had.

The question was why? I examined the item, turning it over in my hands. I could not have made a discovery more disconnected from my real life if I'd unearthed a UFO's tailpipe in my Zen garden. (Hey, I could have a Zen garden. Don't assume.)

Yet here was the fleshtone evidence that, at some point in the last 5-9 years, I had considered myself a stick-on, anti-gravity, bra-in-a-box kind of person. Really? During which typical activity had I imagined strapping on this bad boy? Grocery shopping? Opening doors in the school carpool line? Whitening the tile grout around the shower head?

It just didn't seem like me. Perhaps I had suffered some kind of psychotic break one day while waiting for the kids' swim lessons to wrap up. (Now that I thought about it, that would explain a lot of things.)

Think, Anna. Think.

And then I heard it.

The voice was smooth. Authoritative yet inviting. The voice was seductive.

You can wear it when you go dancing.

"Who's there?" I said, looking around the closet.

Or when hosting an impossibly chic dinner party.

"A what?"

You could wear something slinky...strapless, even, the voice purred.

"Well, that doesn't really fit my-"

Why not? Who says you have to give up sexy, grown-up activities just because you've fallen into a bit of a rut?

"I wouldn't call it a rut, it's just that-"

So you're done? Done with things like dancing? It's going to be jeans and t-shirts from here on out?

"Well, no...I'm not saying that, exactly. It's just that these days my lifestyle is more-"

Do you see what it says on the box? "For the modern woman." Are you saying you're not a modern woman?

"Hey! I'm plenty modern!"

So what's holding you back?

"Well..."

Why not make plans to go dancing this weekend? I can see it now: lights flashing, music thumping, you in a fabulous strappy cocktail dress.

"Really? What color is it?"

Um, let's say blue.

"Blue," I pondered this for a moment. "I like blue."

See?

"Is my hair doing that flippy thing it only does when I've been to the salon?"

Why, yes, it is, Ms. Modern Woman. So...what do you say? Are you ready to embrace your sexy, festive new lifestyle?

Just then my husband stepped into the closet. "Hey, you're talking to yourself again. Have you seen my car keys?"

*sigh*

At least now I knew how I'd ended up buying it.



I Have to Share With You...





"A Defining Moment for Women
"

This is the title of a wonderful article by Heidi Stevens of the Chicago Tribune, who interviewed me last week about The CHICKtionary. Ms. Stevens really "got" the book and I was thrilled when this piece ran shortly afterward.








"At the Intersection of Funny and Feminism
"

The Chicago Tribune piece inspired an article on the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop website that touches on Erma's thoughts on what will apparently be an eternal public debate about a woman's "place" in the world of humor.

Believe it or not, this debate is just as lively today as it was in Ms. Bombeck's heyday, a fact that (ironically?) I find quite amusing.

Things to Do in 2012

...Or Not.

After extended deliberation, I have compiled my annual list of actions to make the upcoming year extra-awesome.

Note: Over the years, I've found it helpful not to include overreaching items such as "Be a nice person" and "Live within budget." No one tells you this, but these kinds of vague, pie-in-the-sky goals are basically impossible to achieve.

(I can tell you from personal experience that it's a real buzzkill to wake up on January 3rd only to realize you've already blown items 1-14 on your yearly to-do list. Let's just say some lessons were learned.)

Anyway, I'm happy to share my 2012 list with you, and feel free to peel a few items off for yourself!

Here goes:

In 2012, I will:

...bring back the phrase "in full effect." For example, when dinner is ready, I will say something like, "The tuna noodle casserole is in full effect."


...perform a set of lunges thrice a day - at 9:00, noon, and 4:00 - no matter where I am.

...use the word "thrice," like, all the time.

...perform some kind of community service. And, by the way, just because it's court-ordered doesn't mean I'm not feelin' it.

...do my best when either of my children says, "Guess what?" not to respond with "Chicken butt!"

...get that thing with the stuff looked at.

...knock off the flute jazz.

There you have it, folks - wish me luck!

In the meantime, I wish each and every one of YOU a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

And, as always,
thank you for stopping by here week after week - that truly means the world to me.

Cheers!

Lefler Holidaytastic Reloaded

Because the Jingle Never Dies

In the spirit of keeping the blogosphere green, I am recycling a disturbing holiday video post from last year.

And also, after watching Morticia do spin control after it went viral at her middle school (long story), I couldn't resist giving it another whirl this season. Heh.

And so, with this sketchy offering, I wish each and every one of you a plush, sequin-covered, unicorn-fresh holiday of your choosing!



If you can't see ye olde video, please click here.

Opening Doors

I spent some time a few weeks ago in the Portland International Airport - or PDX, as we world-savvy travelers refer to it. (Okay, I admit it. I just learned that abbreviation.)

Through a series of miscalculations (mostly having to do with the fact that I live in Los Angeles and am used to allowing an extra hour or two for traffic snarls), I ended up at the airport three and a half hours before my flight home was due to depart.

Oh, great, I thought as I staggered out of the security line and found a bench where I could put my shoes back on, slip my belt back through the loops on my jeans and cram my laptop back into its slot in my briefcase. Now I get to spend the afternoon in a molded plastic chair, listening to some self-important businessman bark into his cell phone while the person on the other side of me coughs on my shoulder.

Boy, was I wrong.

Ten minutes later, I was settled into a window-side table in the pleasantly cavernous main lobby of the terminal, sipping a steaming Starbucks triple latte as my laptop gorged on free WiFi. Nearby, a lithe young woman tinkled away on a grand piano, accompanying herself as she sang in what turned out to be a lovely voice. (She was overly partial to those soul-crushing Adele songs, but still – the girl could sing.)

As I sat back under my indoor cafe umbrella and watched the late afternoon sky outside begin to color, it occurred to me that I’d been on vacations that were less relaxing than my current circumstances.

I began to unclench, to catch my breath, to reflect.

That morning, I had done my first television talk show appearance to promote my book – on the local morning program “AM Northwest.” I had flown up the night before in order to be at the studio at 8:30 am (another appointment for which I was ridiculously early thanks to my LA conditioning).

Overall, it had been a lovely experience and well worth the trip. The folks at the station were warm and gracious, as were the show’s hosts. In the green room, I made friends with other guests: a woman who specializes in taking photographs of pets, a local dentist, and a journalist/author who just released a book on the infamous D.B. Cooper. We shared coffee in paper cups and conversation in varying degrees of nervousness.

Before airtime, the producer walked me through the studio to the set, showing me where I would sit and explaining how it would all work. A few minutes before my segment, one of the assistants instructed me to run the mic cord up under my sweater so she could clip it on the neckline.

Before I knew it, my portion of the show was over and I found myself back in the green room. There on the monitor was my new friend the pet photographer, sitting in the chair I’d just vacated and critiquing someone’s photo of an oddly washed-out Labrador. (Turns out you should never use your flash when taking pet shots. Who knew?)

The day’s TV experience – my first – was over. I had managed to talk with logical progression, to make the people in the booth laugh (the hosts are pretty much required to laugh, but the people in the booth – that’s authentic), to get my message points about my book across and – most importantly – not to throw up on myself on live television.

Mission accomplished.

The CHICKtionary is my first published book and so this is my first marketing push for my own work. In my previous life, I worked in public relations and marketing, but when the product is yourself, it’s a whole different experience.

For most of this year, I have been cloistered in my office at home, writing. Writing writing writing. And editing. And more editing. (You’ll notice that the word “housekeeping” is conspicuously absent from this paragraph. The less said about that the better.)

The transition from the solitude of the creative process to the “Hey, look at me!” blare of the promotions process has been an interesting one so far. I find that, although I consider myself an extrovert, I can only be all the way out of my shell for short bursts of time before I need to retract and recharge for the next round. I first became aware of this when I was doing standup comedy, but I didn’t realize it would be the case for less-extreme types of exposure as well.

From the creation of this book through its current launch, this has been a year of unintentional learning about myself – a process which I expect to continue. I never thought of myself as a person who would be spending time in a green room or smiling into the dark, round eye of a television camera. It’s rare for me to travel without my family, but in the last two weeks, I've made solo trips to Northern California, Phoenix and New York City - and I've got another one this weekend to Indianapolis (see below). I find myself handing postcards about my book to people I barely know, like salesclerks and cab drivers.

None of these things “feel” like me, yet here I am.

And there I was in the Portland airport, watching the sun sink over the Alaska Airlines plane I would soon board for the trip home, thinking about the many doors I had passed through – and would be passing through in the coming weeks – all of which were opened by those months spent alone in my office…writing, writing, writing.


The Bob & Tom Show

I'm very excited to announce that on Monday, December 19 I will be live in studio in Indianapolis with Bob & Tom on their nationally syndicated radio show which runs 6am - 10am EST. (Here's how to find your local station.)

It's going to be fun and funny and wicked cool and I'm already freaking out about what to wear. (Yes, I know it's radio, but you can hear plaid.)

I hope you can tune in!


I Love the Smell of Frankenword in the Morning

Shoebris

I love Frankenwords – new words that are created by mashing together parts of existing ones. I love it even more when I am present at the birth of one of these little monsters, such as this one:

Shoebris, noun (shoe + hubris) - Extreme pride in one’s ability to repair shoes.

Here’s how it happened:


Recently, I bought two pairs of boots, both of which were so slick on the bottoms that they were like wearing stiletto buttered banana p
eels.

“You’re going to need non-skid soles,” the salesman said as I bear-hugged the full-length mirror, feet churning for traction on the marble floor. He recommended a shoe repair store in Beverly Hills, just a few blocks away.

The air in the store had the tang of shoe polish
mixed with the yeasty scent of leather. Behind the wooden counter were rows of shoes with tags tucked into them. I was fascinated by the variety of footwear on display – the formal, the utilitarian, the hammered, the flamboyant, the sexually ambiguous.

As I scanned the rows, a startlingly petite elderly woman appeared behind the counter. She wore an outfit that appeared to be made entirely of lightweight black sweaters, including the slacks. Her wispy, silver/blonde hair was held in a small clip.

She did not smile.

“Good morning,” she said.

“Hi.” I began to pull the first pair of boots from their box. “I just bought these and –”

“You will need the rubber.”

“I’m sorry?” I said, looking up from the boot.

“For not slipping.” She reached below the count
er and pulled out a thin piece of textured rubber, slapping it on the wood like a butcher discarding inferior bologna.

“Yes,” I said, staring at the flap and trying to place
her accent. It was vaguely Eastern European, but as my knowledge of that part of the world is based entirely on spy movies, I categorized it as “James Bondian.”

She watched me pull the other pair of boots fro
m their box. Without breaking eye contact, her hand whipped out of sight and – slap! – another piece of rubber landed on the counter, this one a perfect match for the camel color of the boot’s sole.

“This will do, yes?” She cocked her eyebrow, daring me to reject the flap.

“Um, sure.” Didn’t she ever blink? I began tucking the
boots back into the layers of tissue as she observed me, her eyeballs no doubt parching with the passing seconds.

She reached for a pad of thick yellow tickets and a ballpoint pen. “Name?”

“Anna…” I began.

“Phone number?”

I gave her the number. “Don’t you want my last name
?” I wasn’t signing over the deed to my vacation home in Gstaad, but they hadn’t exactly been giving those boots away, either.

She looked up from the pad. She said nothing, but seemed to be considering my question. Finally, she replied. “I will take first letter of last name.”

After writing an elaborate L on the ticket, she placed the pen on the counter. The she folded her hands across the ticket and studied my face without speaking.

What was this? Was there some element of the transaction I had overlooked? I ran through the process in my mind again to be sure, but it seemed p
retty straightforward to me: retail tradition dictated she needed to give me that yellow ticket and then I needed to leave.

She cocked her head five degrees to the left, eyes narrowing. “You are living in Beverly Hills?” She hit the first syllable hard. BEVerlyhills.

“No, um, I live in Santa Monica.”

“Pffft.” She looked away, then back again. “Wher
e you take shoes in Santa Monica?” She said the town’s name with the same inflection that often accompanied the word “gonorrhea.”

“Ah, you know, I don’t remember. I guess I don’t have a regular place.”

She named several shoe repair stores, none of which were familiar to me. At which point I realized that I was being interviewed. Intervie
wed as a potential boot-leaver. And I don’t know what this says about me, but I very much wanted the job.

“I have a confession to make,” I said with an ingratiating laugh that came out like bronchitis. “I probably don’t give my shoes the attention they
deserve.”

Tell me something I don’t know, her expressio
n telegraphed. She took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders. “You must understand that Excelsior is the best at repairing shoes.” She paused, then seemed to remember something. “And by best I do not mean BEVerlyhills. I mean WHOLEcountry.”

“Of course!” I said. “That is what the shoe salesman said, too.” I eyed the ticket under her fingers. Had I passed the oral test?

“You tell this Santa Monica person the name Exc
elsior, he will know my store.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m never going back there again!” I considered spitting on the floor for emphasis.

She tore the ticket from the stiff little pad. “Anna L.,” sh
e said and held it out to me. “It was pleasure meeting you.” I took it and smiled. “You will be exceptionally pleased with the work,” she said and folded her hands on the counter once more. “No doubt.”

“None at all!” I said and tucked the ticket out of sight in my inside purse pocket. “Thank you very much!” I waved goodbye and within seconds was b
ack on the Beverly Hills sidewalk, an odd sense of triumph bubbling in my chest.

I was in, I thought. In at Excelsior!

[Note: the name of the store has been changed to protect myself...and my boots, which won’t be ready until Saturday.]


Just a Reminder...

I'll be signing (and reading from) The CHICKtionary this Monday, December 12 at 7:00 pm at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. (I'll be the one who's bloated from all those honey roasted nuts on the plane.)

And...

I'll also be on Jane Pratt's Jane Radio on Sirius on Monday at Noon (EST). The show is run several times during the week, so there are multiple opportunities to catch it!


NYC Book Signing 12/12 - Now With Mannix!

Who Knew?

It's always a thrill to discover that someone likes your work
, and it's doubly so when that person is endowed with the sheen of TV celebrity.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that Mannix is a diehard CHICKtionary enthusiast!

Oh, you don't believe me? Well, then, allow me to direct you to the irrefutable photographic evidence below:

Mannix reaches for The CHICKtionary with a knowing look.


Mannix battles his way to the bookstore men's room
with his copy of
The CHICKtionary tucked safely
into the pocket of his shiny rayon slacks.


And there you have it.

So let's hope (fingers crossed!) that the Man(nix) himself will make an appearance at the upcoming NYC signing at Barnes & Noble on December 12th at 7:00 pm!

Then again, maybe it's better if he doesn't show, because that way we can skip the whole paparazzi crush and there will be plenty of seats available for YOU!

Which Barnes & Noble, you ask? Why, it's the luxurious, holiday-scented and fully modern building located at 82nd and Broadway!


Oh, I can't wait to see you guys there - and thanks in advance for coming out!

In the meantime, here's a little something I've been obsessed with for days now. Feel free to sing along...and see you Monday night!

In Defense of Immaturity

Or: I Know You Are, But What Am I?

I’ve never been a fan of numbers. Don’t get me wrong – I love math and always have. No, it’s the practice of attaching a number to everything that makes me squirm. And, beyond that, giving those numbers significance, as if they have irrevocable power over us.

I say fight the power! They’re just numbers, after all. And, in my opinion, this goes double for the number most likely to mash you under its quantitative thumb: your age.

What is this voodoo that the digits do, anyway? It seems that as you approach the end of your twenties, each age is laden with some kind of meaning, especially the ones that end in zero and five. And, I think for most people, that meaning is negative.

I remember years ago when one of my girlfriends mentioned that she had started wearing a heart monitor to the gym. “Why, is something wrong?” I asked, startled. “No,” she replied and looked at me as though I were being dense. “But now that we’re in our thirties, we can’t be too careful.”

I could have pinched her head off, I was so disgusted. What kind of attitude was this? And what accessory would she be sporting the next time we met for coffee – a walker? I was 32 at the time, and I remember thinking, I don’t know which thirties you’re in, but they’re sure not the thirties that I’m in!

Looking back now from my perch in my mid-forties, her comment seems even more ridiculous. More than a decade later, it would never occur to me to strap on a heart monitor for a routine workout, any more than I would consider asking someone to drive me to the store to do my weekly marketing. The more I think about it, my approach to life, health and, well, pretty much everything hasn’t changed much in the last 25 years.

Why? Because I’m totally immature.

Now, before you tsk-tsk, let me say that I pay the bills on time, floss every morning and night and keep my children’s vaccinations strictly up to date. I’m not irresponsible, I’m immature. There’s a diff.

Wondering if you’re immature, too? Ask yourself these questions: In the last six months, have you quoted a line from “Wayne’s World” to the grocery store cashier? When you stop at a red light, do you see other drivers looking around, trying to locate the source of the thumping bass? Have you ever taught the other moms at the PTA meeting how to make that armpit-fart sound?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then congratulations! You, too, are in complete denial about your biological age. And, while I’m not typically a fan of denial, this particular type is, as Martha Stewart would say, “a good thing.” After all, what’s the alternative - embracing some kind of personality or outlook shift that is “supposed to” accompany your age? (There’s that pesky number again, bossing everyone around.)

No, I’m not willing to stifle or snuff out aspects of myself to fit some prefab set of age-appropriate expectations; that would feel fake. And, while I will go to my grave with my authentic gray hairs masked under a layer of artificial salon color, the notion of acting fake is simply unacceptable.

I should warn you, though, that being your authentic immature self when you are, in fact, mature (chronologically, at least), can make your peers uncomfortable. They will let you know it, too, with words like “crazy” and “silly.” (I get that a lot.) Once they see that they aren’t dissuading you from eating a jumbo box of Junior Mints while perfecting your Dougie, however, they usually lose interest and go back to reading the Wall Street Journal or oiling the teak patio furniture or whatever it is that emotionally mature people do.

It’s cool.

In my opinion, the point is that we should all be ourselves throughout the decades without regard to any stereotypical notion of how a person should behave in their forties, fifties or beyond. In my case, for better or worse, part of that package is the irresistible urge to applaud when someone drops a plate in a restaurant. You, too? Well, come on over and pull out a chair. You’re always welcome at my lunch table.


Two Bay Area Appearances This Week


I'm excited to say that I will be in Northern California later this week and will be reading/signing books at two outstanding independent bookstores. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by so we can chat it out in person. (And who knows? There might be a free foot sander in it for you...)

Thursday, December 8 - 7:00 pm

A Great Good Place for Books

6120 LaSalle Avenue - Montclair Village
Oakland, CA 94611

Friday, December 9 - 7:00 pm

Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Boulevard

Corte Madera, CA 94925

(NYC-area friends: I'll be at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side - 82nd & Broadway - next Monday evening 12/12 at 7:00 pm. More about that later this week!)


And: I've Suspected This All Along

My very talented and funny friend Robin O'Bryant's new book KETCHUP IS A VEGETABLE: AND OTHER LIES MOM TELL THEMSELVES is out! It's already hit an Amazon Kindle bestseller list and the 5-star reviews are racking up all over the place. But don't take my word for it:

"A book about motherhood that will make you nod with recognition, while simultaneously reminding you to schedule a hysterectomy." -Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess

Robin is graciously giving away a copy of KETCHUP IS A VEGETABLE to a lucky LJKGW reader! Simply leave a comment before 5:00 pm PST this Friday 12/9 to enter the random drawing.

Congrats, Robin! I can't wait to read the copy I just bought...


My Blog Away From Blog

Or: A Smallish Open House

One of the things I've always wanted to do on the Web is
open a mail-order meat business have a real website. Nothing too fancy, of course, just a nice two-bedroom ranch-style with a good climbing tree in the front, mirror-foil wallpaper in the powder room and a nice, long driveway for roller skating.

This summer, after much searching, I finally found the little place of my dreams. It's on a cul-de-sac over near the middle school in that neighborhood with all the trees (the ones that drop those sticky blossom things that stain the hood of your car).

Of course, it wasn't exactly in move-in condition. Oh, yes, there was work to be done, so I spent several months making the place "feel like me." Nothing major, just adding a water feature in the breakfast nook, installing an electrified perimeter fence and building a custom platform for my submarine-themed waterbed.

You know, the usual.

Then, after completing that work, moving all my stuff in and finally getting settled, I forgot to tell you that the place even existed. I know: LAME.

So, in the spirit of better-late-than-never, I'm officially inviting you all over to check out my new pad:

www.annalefler.com

In case you're wondering whether I'm giving up the lease on this sweet patch of Internet turf (a.k.a. the LJKGW doublewide), fear not! Nothing will change here and, for better or worse, you can expect the same "quality" posts as always, delivered into your mailbox or RSS feed at intervals that may appear to be sporadic but are actually super-strategic and calculated to the fifteenth decimal point.

No, the new place is more of a repository of my writing an
d comedic pursuits - a literary Death Star, if you will, to which all of my posts and essays scattered throughout the Webosphere can be called home and to whom they owe ultimate allegiance. (I don't know what that means, either, so let's just move on, shall we?)

Anyway, you can find lots of stuff in the new place, including:

* A second blog, called "Bride of Frankenword," which is more on the writing side of things

* A schedule of upcoming appearances and events

* Links to favorite essays

* Some standup videos and videos of readings

*
Nude photos (It's true! Underneath my clothes I am completely nude - go see for yourself!)

Anyway, you're welcome to stop by and, to sweeten the deal, I just opened a fresh can of dip.

(I'm also willing to act like I don't know you're rifling through the medicine cabinet when you use the facilities.)

See you over there - you can park in the driveway!



Fresh-Baked Posts

The book blog tour for The CHICKtionary is going strong! This week I have two brand-new guest posts coming out:

Thursday, December 1 - The lovely ladies who run "Chick Lit is Not Dead" asked me to write about my "5 Loves and a Dud." So I did.

Friday, December 2 - "Silver and Grace" will publish my guest post about immaturity. (Spoiler alert: I'm in favor of it.)



The Devil Wears Mom Jeans

That's the Title...

...of the guest post I have up over at the amazing Scary Mommy's place today. (Thank you so much for having me, Jill!)

I hope you'll click over there and read it and - while you're there - read about Jill's jaw-dropping spontaneous outreach effort that raised more than $20,000 to provide Thanksgiving dinners for families in need. I said she was amazing, right?

Also...

Thank you to KATU-TV's "AM Northwest" morning talk show for having me as a guest on Monday. I had the best time talking with Helen and Dave about some of the words in The CHICKtionary and assuaging Dave's worries that he might have ladybutt. (No worries, Dave. You're good.)

You can see a clip of the segment here.

And cheers to you, Portland!

But Most Importantly...

I hope that, when you take time to consider your blessings on this weekend's holiday, you discover that there are too many to list. I know that when I think about the things in my life for which I'm grateful, you will be among them.

Sending huge Thanksgiving hugs to each and every one of you!

Now go tie on that feedbag and, this year, really put your back into it!

When Will the Doughnuts Be Ready?

And Why Won't They Unlock the Doors?

Before becoming a mother, I was not a morning person. Okay, that’s an understatement. Before becoming a mother, I soaked up every hour of sleep I possibly could, fiercely guarding those precious moments of early-morning slumber before the alarm clock would force me to crack open my crusty eyelids and face the workday at the ungodly hour of, say, 7:15.

The situation was more extreme in my teens. Without effort, I could sleep in on the weekends until 3:00 pm, at which point my dad would stomp in, snap open the blinds and announce, “Enough is enough!” Having grown up in a farming family whose early-to-rise ethics verged on marsupial, he was deeply offended by my lack of interest in making hay – or even a peanut butter sandwich – while the sun shone.

In college, I lived like a nightclub owner, staying up until the wee hours most every night, knowing that I would recoup my REM losses the next morning. On those few occasions when I had no choice but to take an 8:00 am class, the excruciating morning reveille would disturb my entire week, turning me into a cranky, scatterbrained wreck – someone who, now that I think about it, bears striking resemblance to the person I am today. (All hail the circle of life! Hakuna Matata!)

Much later, after years of working in an office under what I thought was a crushing regime of having to be at my desk by 9:00-ish (the sleep enthusiast quickly learns the value of “-ish”), motherhood arrived. Within a week, my circadian rhythms were crouched in the corner of the laundry room, weeping and tugging at their eyebrows. By week two, they had moved out altogether, leaving me to face the patchwork 24-hour days in typical, punch-drunk, new mom fashion.

And, although it seemed the milky netherworld of new-babydom would be my home forever, things stabilized and at some point I found myself – for the most part, anyway – awake when it was light out and asleep when it was dark.

Fast forward to the near-present (earlier this year), when to my immense happiness and excitement, the book deal for The CHICKtionary materialized. The publisher envisioned this book as an ideal holiday gift, which meant it needed to be written on an aggressive timetable in order to be in stores in time for the seasonal shopping spike.

“Can you do this?” my agent asked.

“Yes!” I responded without pause with the word that has gotten me into more than a few hundred challenging situations in recent decades. In the words of the immortal Tim Gunn, I would “make it work.” [Note: Tim Gunn also said, “I’m troubled by your jumpsuit,” a phrase which, although I have not yet had occasion to use, I no doubt will in the near future.]

Once I knew the exact parameters of the project, I was forced to do one of my least favorite things: pull out a calculator and make a plan. A plan with numbers on it. As someone who gauges correct inflation pressure by how poufy the tires look, this process caused some discomfort, particularly when the cold, hard data came in. (That’s the thing about numbers – they have no “-ish.”)

There was no way around it. In order to finish the manuscript by the deadline, I was going to have to carve out extra writing time, and plenty of it. But from where? I already spent the child-free portion of my day writing, and once they were home from school, it was a breathless sprint through homework, dinner, baths and assorted domestic crises. Where was this “extra” time stashed?

Perhaps I could slack off the housework. This, of course, begged the question: could I phone it in any more than I already did? Doubtful. What about cooking? I wasn’t sure about this, but I had the nagging feeling that, before I could back away from that activity, I would have had to embrace it in the first place.

I was running out of options.

And then it hit me. I was going to have to [gulp] sleep less. As in get up earlier. What madness was this? There had to be another way. I smacked the calculator buttons again. And again. There was no arguing with these…these numbers.

That night I sat on the edge of my bed and watched the LED digits of my alarm clock roll over to their new set point: 5:00 am. I winced. Surely nothing good ever happened at that hour.

And so began my seven-day-a-week ritual of rising before the sun, brewing a giant cup of scary-tough coffee and settling at my desk to try and be funny, all while doing a very convincing Bride of Frankenstein impression. I won’t say I was grace under pressure, especially that first week. One of the nice things about being up before the rest of the household, though, is that no one hears you cuss.

After a little while, my body grudgingly acclimated to the new schedule and I got into a bit of a groove. I began to (well, almost) savor the slice of morning time that was mine alone, and to (somewhat) enjoy watching the dawn light change through my office window. On my calendar was marked my deadline – the day after which I would reclaim my title of World’s Greatest Sack Hound.

The weeks passed, my word count grew and, just as the calculator predicted, the magical day arrived when I submitted my completed manuscript.

The next morning I woke at 4:30 am.

Whee, I thought, relishing the sensation of rolling over to slide back into blissful sleep. Hugging my pillow, I closed my eyes and waited, but instead of the downy tunnel back to dreamland, my mind’s eye produced a razor-sharp image of the to-do list sitting on my desk. What the hell? Go to sleep, I told myself, and was rewarded with an inventory of the items I was to gather for our school’s silent fundraising auction.

I flipped over and stared wide-eyed at the ceiling, which I could not actually see because it was 4:30 in the friggin’ morning and the bedroom was as black as the inside of a sheepdog. I had heard of this before, I thought, raking a hand across my forehead. Morning people, they were called. The kind of folks who waited outside Dunkin’ Donuts, looking at their watches and stamping their sensible shoes until the first shift finally unlocked the door to start the day. At 5:00 am.

Stay cool, I told myself. It’s the first day off. You’re in transition. You’ll be able to sleep in tomorrow. Somewhere deep in my brain stem, however, I knew the truth.

I was broken.

Cut to: months later, present day. I have adjusted to my new lifestyle pretty well. Most mornings I slap the alarm off before it sounds and am padding around the kitchen by 5:15. Shortly after that, I’m at my desk, replying to emails and dipping into Twitter where my East Coast friends are already chirping away. (After a couple of frosty exchanges, I broke myself of the habit of calling local friends to share vital information from Facebook such as witticisms or warnings about computer viruses known to be going around.) By lunch, I’m on my third coffee and jonesing for a second wind. By 4:00 pm, I’m wondering if it’s too soon to slip into my jammies.

After all, it’s bedtime somewhere, right?

Speak Out Against Domestic Violence

You may have noticed the new "Speak Out" badge over in my sidebar. I learned about the Speak Out campaign from my blog friend Kristin at Wanderlust.

On November 18th, bloggers all over the world will post, tweet, share, and encourage people to “Speak Out” against domestic violence and provide direct links to domestic violence (DV) resources. The event date is strategically set to lead into International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov. 25.

I hope you'll take a moment to click over and learn more about the campaign and the ways you can participate. Thank you!



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