Adventures in Dressing Myself

It's the time of year when I go on a hunt for the perfect dress to wear to the Romance Writers of America RITA awards ceremony (kind of like the Oscars for romance writers).

So far, I've stuck to solid colors, kind of a plain-but-dressed-up-with-jewelry style. 

Here are pictures from the three years I've gone with my fabulous writing tribe:  Roni Loren, Jamie Wesley,  and Genevieve Lynne

2012

2012

2014

2014

2016*

2016*

*You see that thing in Roni's hand? That's a RITA! Because she's awesome. 

**We all have weird smiles in this one because the hotel dude didn't seem to be able to work a phone camera. 

This year I wanted something a little flashier. Maybe a little more daring (at least for me.) So, I ordered this dress. 

This is not me. This is some awesome model. 

It came in yesterday. It has more gold on the roses than I’d like and I was worried it might be a size too small. But, it fit well, hid my tummy, showed off my legs. Everything I was looking for in a dress except when I pulled it down over my chest, I noticed that it “accentuated my assets" a little better than I'm normally comfortable with. It accomplished this with a thin band that should have been at my waist but was across my rib cage, making each breath an adventure. 

 I modeled it for my older teen first (who is the resident fashion guru). She gushed about how cute it was and how flattering. She liked it so much, I was debating how much I enjoy breathing and if I could make it through a few hours without doing that. I mean, when a fifteen year-old compliments your style, you got to consider your options. 

I had her unzip the back (ahhh, oxygen!) and made my way back to my room. 

At this point, I discovered a universal truth about tight dresses and large chests. Pulling something down is much easier than pulling it back up. 

I couldn't push the whole dress down because it's fitted and wouldn't stretch over my hips. I couldn't pull it over my head because, well, there were obstacles. 

Basically I ended up with the dress half over my head, trying to squish and pull at the same time. All while having panicked thoughts of being trapped in the dress forever or, at least until I lost consciousness from lack of oxygen to my brain, which might have been slightly irrational. 

It probably looked very much like this, just without the frogs. 

It probably looked very much like this, just without the frogs. 

 I  was already picturing being cut out of my fashion choice by paramedics when  I heard my youngest daughter's voice.

"Mom, are you okay? Do you need some help?" 

Bless you, child. Bless you

I held things in place while she pulled it over my head as if I were a two year-old. 

So, if you see me at RWA this year, please, please say hi! I love making new friends, will probably talk way longer than I should and will be happy to pose for a picture in my nice, safe, plain dress that won't attack me after the RITA ceremony. 

How he won my heart with a hammer...

My Prince Charming

What makes a moment romantic?

                 If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably already heard this story. I like to telling it again around Valentine's Day to remind everyone that romance isn't all chocolate, lingerie and semi-precious stones. It's about listening and showing your love, even if it involves household tools.

                  Despite appearances, the picture above is FAR from one of our most romantic moments. Some day, if you have a few hours and enough money for margaritas, I will tell you about that day and the unromanticness (Yes, it is a word. I don't care if the rest of the world doesn't acknowledge it). No, our most romantic moment involves a hardware tool and my soon-to-be husband was nowhere in sight.

                 I met my husband two weeks after I moved to Texas. We met at a church we were both visiting for the first time. He asked me to lunch after the morning service ( an interesting story in itself, but I'll save it for another time). After the evening service, we ate ice cream at a park. I will add here that one of the top ten most romantic moments was when he turned to me and said, "Do you like to read? Because I just finished this great book. It's called the Notebook. I think the author is Nicholas somebody." (Insertme swooning here).

                 After our official first date the next Sunday, he made a comment about the bareness of my apartment walls. I responded that I had never noticed I didn't own a hammer and nails until I moved into the apartment alone. We went on to talk about other things and I didn't even think about it again.

                The next day was a Monday in every sense of the word. I taught middle school at the time and let's just say all of my students were very much seventh graders that day. I remember wanting to cry when I pulled up to my apartment because my head was throbbing, as were my feet, and I lived on the second floor. When I finally dragged myself up the stairs, something was leaning against my door.

 A silver hammer with a shiny red bow. 

And that, my friends, is all it took.

So Tell Me Your Story. 

What is your most unconventionally romantic moment? Got big plans for Valentine's day? Ever swoon over a tool (no innuendo intended!)? 

Ghosts of Halloween Past

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

I distinctly remember the blow-up head. I have NO IDEA what this costume is, though. The 80s were a confusing time to be young.

I distinctly remember the blow-up head. I have NO IDEA what this costume is, though. The 80s were a confusing time to be young.

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I'm a big 'fraidy cat. I've been to one haunted house in my entire life, an experience that ended with a bleeding hand and my date rubbing my back as I sat with my head between my knees, gasping my way through a full-blown anxiety attack. 

So, Halloween is not really my thing. But I do have one good memory of Halloween. 

When I was thirteen, my friends and I had a Halloween sleepover at my house. Instead of trick or treating, we stuffed ourselves with chocolate and pizza while watching really bad 80s horror movies. Probably something along the lines of Sleepaway Camp 12. 

At some point, my dad came downstairs to the kitchen. 

He paused at the threshold to the living room where we were all piled together like puppies in a mass of blankets and pillows and motioned to the wild turkey, mounted in mid-flight over the fireplace. 

"Y'all know that turkey's going to take flight at midnight." 

I rolled my eyes. But, Dad kept going. 

"He does it every Halloween at midnight. He'll come off his perch, make one trip around the room then go right back on there like nothing happened. Y'all just got to sit real still and not get in his way." 

Yeah, right. We were in Middle School. We weren't falling for some silly story about a zombie turkey flying around the room. 

I responded with a typical, annoyed-teenage-girl voice. "Goodnight, Dad." 

He just chuckled and headed back upstairs. 

Now, we KNEW. Knew that turkey wasn't going to fly at midnight. We were all smart kids. I'd lived with this turkey for most of my life. I hadn't seen it flap its way around a room on any of the many Halloweens we'd spent together. 

But, still as my mom's cuckoo clock ticked closer to midnight, we all found ourself eyeing that turkey. The closer it got to twelve o'clock, the more openly we stopped and watched. Just in case something magical was about to happen.

At midnight, all of us were intently focused on that turkey.

The cuckoo came out. 

Then, Dad barreled into the room, wailing like a demon, in a horrifying mask with the head of a DEAD FISH hanging around his neck. 

You have never seen thirteen-year-old girls move so fast. We scattered like crazed squirrels, squealing loud enough to shatter glass. 

I can still hear Dad laugh. 

No idea where he got the dead fish!

No idea where he got the dead fish!

At least he didn't come out like this. We'd probably all be dead now. I'm the one on the right, by the way. Who looked at that costume and thought, "My four-year-old daughter will LOVE this!"

At least he didn't come out like this. We'd probably all be dead now. I'm the one on the right, by the way. Who looked at that costume and thought, "My four-year-old daughter will LOVE this!"

DawnasCasper.jpg

My Last First Friday

Today is the first Friday of this school year. It's the day teachers release a collective sigh and head home in a near delirium state of exhaustion. We've made it through the first week. The routines will settle in on Monday and we've only got 35 more weeks to go.  

For me, the first Friday of last year was my last day of "normal". 

I remember the sound of the dismal bell for last period and calling to my students to, "have a great weekend!"

I remember leaving piles of paper on my desk but still shoving some in my bag to take home.

I remember still feeling slightly sticky from the weak AC in my room and the first pep rally of football season as I locked the classroom door behind me and exited the building. 

Having no idea I'd never walk back in that room as a teacher again. 

I don't remember if I cooked dinner that night or if my husband and I left the kids with my mom and ate out.

I can barely remember driving to Oklahoma the next day for a birthday party and driving home Sunday afternoon. 

What I do remember about Sunday is before I sat down to go through those papers or gather my lesson plans for the week, before I cooked dinner for my kids or really even had a conversation with my husband, I went into my mom's room. 

I guess not everyone can pinpoint the minute their life changed. For most people, it's probably a gradual shift that sneaks up on you like those extra pounds on your hips or needing reading glasses after 40. I know the exact moment my life changed. 

August 30, 2015 4:30pm. 

Mom and I were sitting on her bed, talking about the birthday party. That's when her head dropped to her chest as if she'd fallen asleep. That's the moment that triggered 36 hours of her being incoherent, a 13 day hospital stay, a devastating diagnosis delivered by a teary-eyed surgeon, folding his mask over and over in his hand and a decision.

I would leave teaching for 12 weeks. 

But 12 weeks wasn't enough. So, I resigned. I packed up the personal things from my classroom, leaving any materials I thought my replacement could use until I could collect them at the end of the year. 

I became a full-time caregiver until March 10th when I became Executrix of the estate. 

I didn't return to teaching this year. I wasn't ready. I have too much reassembling of my life that needs to happen first. 

I thought it would hit me on the first day when my daughters headed out to their new classes and my husband left for work. I thought that's when I'd miss it. I didn't. 

Not until today. 

I don't miss teaching, yet. I've missed my students and my co-workers but not teaching itself. I'm sure that will come.

What I miss today is the me who walked out of those high school doors on the first Friday last year. 

The one who didn't know what was coming. Didn't know to be worried and didn't know everything in her world was about to change. 

 

Jumping

Five years ago, I posted

this

about jumping into the world of querying and pitching. 

FIVE.YEARS.AGO. 

The daughter I mentioned is now a teenager. The teenager I mention is probably married and raising her own kids. Well, maybe not, but it's possible.

And, me?

Until a few months ago, I was still standing on the end of that diving board.

I didn't jump.

I was pushed.

Now, all I have to do is make sure I cannon ball and not belly flop!

And this one time at band camp...

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Like I said yesterday, I'm at ASL Teacher Camp this week. Okay, that's not what it's really called. But, that's pretty much what it is.

So, tell me your best camp story. Pranks, homesickness, sneaking out of the cabin and meeting that special someone (not that I ever did that!)

You know, this one time at band camp....


Spoiler Alert

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

My oldest daughter, who is much older now than in the picture above, made a confession last week that forced me to reevaluate everything I thought I knew about this sweet child.

SHE READS THE END OF A BOOK FIRST.

I fear I have failed as a parent.

I blogged before about

her reading obsession.

 She is almost never without a book. Takes two or three with her for any kind of overnight stay and, when we recently changed the sheets on her bed, I found she was sleeping with FOURTEEN (!) books every night. 

The child is by all definitions

a reader

.

But, she reads the end first! 

Shocked and confused by this admission, I took my argument to the best place for public opinion.

Facebook.

Me: Michelle just confessed that she reads the end of books first...I don't even know her anymore...

Male Childhood Friend #1: 

I do too! If I don't like the ending, why invest my life in the story? 

For me, reading fiction is an escape from reality. If I don't like the destination, I'd rather not buy the ticket!

(WWHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTT?? Not by the ticket?

Isn't that what the whole reading experience is about?)

Fellow Mommy Friend:

Funny! [Her daughter~same age as mine] reads the last book in a series...what's wrong with their generation?!?!?

Male Childhood Friend #2: 

I've always read the end of books first... Agree with [MCF #1]

 on this one.

Me:

 [MFC #1]while I have to admit on the surface your argument has substance...It's just wrong. wrong. Wrong. WRONG! 

 You, too,[MFC #2]

. (I say this with love, of course!).

Is this some kind of widespread epidemic of which I have lived blissfully unaware? Do YOU read the end of a book first? Is there some kind of 12 step group I can get my daughter in before this gets out of hand?