Anonymous Soccer Mom

Musings from the Mundane to the Marvelous


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I MISS THE FRESH SCENT OF LAUNDRY

good chemicalsRemember when you were a kid and your mom did the laundry. She would wash it with Tide or Wisk or All-Tempi-Cheer. She’d fold it and set it on your bed, and you’d bury your nose in the stack before you put it away. And every time you reached for a clean t-shirt or undies or socks or whatever, you got a delightful whiff of spring flowers or citrus orchards or tea-rose petals. Well, my friends, this scenario just doesn’t happen anymore. Why? Because scented detergent will kill you.

You know what else will kill you? Toothpaste. Dish-washing liquid. Hand soap. Antiperspirant. Mold and mildew sprays. Plastic bottles. Don’t even get me started on microwaves. You know that new car smell, a scent so universally revered that they make air fresheners to mimic it? That will kill you. Apparently, you should roll down all the windows of your precious new car to release the noxious fumes that are spewing from your brand new air conditioner.

I try to be a good mom, so I do my best to buy the organic fruits and veggies, the BPA-free bottles, I stand a good eighteen inches from my microwave while it’s running, and even when it’s not, just in case. And I buy only the dye-free, chemical-free, fragrance-free detergents. I know that I’m protecting my kids, but some part of me also feels like I am depriving them of some future wonderful sense memory from their childhood. My kids don’t bury their faces in their clean laundry, they just dutifully put their clothes away with nary a sniff. And the worst part is, most of the time, they can’t even tell the clean laundry from the dirty, unless there’s a four-inch-Rorschach splotch of ketchup on the item in question, and even then, that item might just be clean because the all-natural detergents are crap at getting out stains!

Another problem is that I cannot control the world at large (which doesn’t stop me from trying—I am the master of my universe, darn it). But I’d bet, dollars to doughnuts, the local Target doesn’t use all-natural cleaning products in their industrial floor-mopping machines. Heaven knows what kinds of chemicals the restaurants use to scour their grills at night. My favorite sushi place is guilty of polluting our lungs. Every time a patron leaves, the waiter clears their plates then sprays the table or sushi bar with Windex. Windex! Even when someone is sitting in the very next seat trying to enjoy their yellowtail hand roll. WHOOSH! goes the spray bottle and suddenly the air is filled with blue-tinged toxins.

It’s hard enough to protect my kids from pedophiles and cyber-bullies. Now I worry about airborne chemicals. What is a mother to do? The burden of keeping my kids safe from pollutants and free radicals and carcinogens and pesticides is overwhelming.

Maybe I should move my family into a plastic bubble. As long as the plastic is BPA free….

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MY SUMMER SIX

I know that summer is just a faded memory, but as you can see by the date of my last post, I’m a little behind on everything. It’s okay, though. I’ve had kind of a tough year-and-a-half. But now things are getting back on track and I’m catching up with my life.

No matter how busy or chaotic my world gets, I never fall behind with my reading. Books are like a drug and I am an addict. A good novel is like a balm for my soul, an escape from grief, stress, screaming kids, crushing boredom. I can’t wait to finish this post just so I can get back to my latest download.

Over the summer, I purchased and read many women’s fiction novels. So many, in fact, that some of them blended into others, and sometimes I could barely remember where one ended and another began. The following are those that stood out to me.

 

one plus one1. ONE PLUS ONE: A Novel by Jojo Moyes. Part romance, part road trip, part dysfunctional family story, I loved this book from the minute I started reading it. I adored ME BEFORE YOU, but I never wanted ONE PLUS ONE to end.

husband2. THE HUSBAND’S SECRET by Liane Moriarty. Thought-provoking and powerful, this book interweaves three women’s lives, all of which are connected by an event that took place decades earlier and the awful secret one of them discovers about that event.

all fall down3. ALL FALL DOWN by Jennifer Weiner. Of course this would be on my list. Weiner can do no wrong. This story takes a hard look at how addiction masquerading as a ‘bad habit’ can impact our lives and the lives of those closest to us. (All Fall Down made me rethink my beer habit. I’ve since switched to wine. Kidding! Jeez!)

sharp objects4. SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn. Okay, I know that Gone Girl is all the rage, what with the new Ben Affleck movie. And although the book was very good and very well-written, I honestly didn’t enjoy it. (Ironically, I did enjoy the movie. And no, I’m not just saying that to get back into Ms. Flynn’s good graces. I doubt my not enjoying Gone Girl will keep her awake at night.) Sharp Objects, however, really got me. Dark, disturbing, but unexpectedly filled with hope.

above 15. ABOVE by Isla Morley. I bought this book after hearing Isla’s keynote speech at the Southern California Writers Conference last month. Well-written, suspenseful and engaging, but the twist is what really made this book stand out.

don't let me go6. DON’T LET ME GO by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Great characters that leapt from the page and stole my heart. Funny and lovely tale of how one girl can transform a group of apathetic strangers into a close, caring family unit.

(If I were a shameless self-promoter, I would also note that I read my own novel SAY NEVER fresh from the formatter, and even after God-knows-how-many times I’ve read it, it still made me laugh and cry. But since I’m more of a shameful self-promoter, I refuse to add it to the above list. It’s coming out soon, so maybe it will make someone else’s list…hint hint…)

SAY NEVER_FrtCvr r1

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler. I’ve only just started it, but I have a feeling it’s going to make my Fall list!

What are your favorite reads of the last few months? Comment below. I’m always looking for suggestions!


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BLOG ROLL – WRITING PROCESS

As many of you know, my mom passed away last year, just before summer began. It’s been a tough year, not only because of my grief, but also because I was tasked with settling her affairs. This became a time-consuming and emotional business, and my writing suffered as a result. But recently, many of my writing friends and supporters have been contacting me, asking me about my new book, offering reviews and giveaways, help with marketing. etc. and I feel a little like Al Pacino when he said: “Just when I thought I was OUT, they PULL me back in.” Only in a non-drug-related and positive way. So, thanks, all, for the love!

The very talented Suzanne Redfearn invited me to take part in a blog roll. I was thrilled and flattered, especially since I read Suzanne’s novel HUSH LITTLE BABY in ONE DAY because I could NOT put it down. A blog roll is similar to a chain letter, in that if you choose to participate, you invite other authors to participate and so on and so forth.  All of us answer the same questions about our writing processes and it gives readers an opportunity to discover new authors and the unique ways in which we write.

Here goes:

1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON –

I am in the final edit of my mystery MURDER IN A MINOR.  This is the first novel in my musical murder mystery series featuring detective Samantha Wedlock. This is a bit of a departure for me, as my readers know me for SOMETHING NEW and SWEET NOTHINGS, which is humorous women’s fiction. But I have always loved mysteries, and am very excited about the upcoming digital release. I am also finishing the first draft of a romance novel called NOW AND THEN, which is loosely based on the Don Henley song HEART OF THE MATTER. (The awesome Emily Giffin already used that song title for one of her books, darn her!)

2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

My main character, Sam Wedlock, is a closet songwriter–she composes songs in her head based on things going on in her life–her relationships, her cases, etc. MURDER IN A MINOR has a strong musical element and contains snippets of her compositions.

3. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

I love to entertain and make people laugh. I’m never going to write anything bleak, because we have enough tragedy, conflict and stress in this world. I like to offer an escape from those things. Most of my stories involve strong women. I grew up with an extremely strong and amazing mom, so in some ways, all of my books are a celebration of her (although many of my characters have serious flaws which my mother did not!) I’m also a romantic at heart–a sucker for a happy ending. I love writing about relationships and the trials and the tangles and the Tango of love. I can’t recall ever writing a story–and this goes all the way back to my first attempt when I was six–that didn’t have some sort of romantic element.

4. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

I haven’t figured that one out yet! I don’t really outline. Basically, I sit in front of the computer and hope the words come. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I drink.

5. AND THE OTHER PART OF THIS QUESTION, HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS NOT WORK?

Please see above.

WHO’S NEXT: All three of these women are amazing. I am grateful for their friendship and inspired by their talent.

Samantha Stroh Bailey, whose flirty, fun and romantic FINDING LUCAS captured my heart.

http://samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.ca/   and   http://samanthastrohbailey.com/

Julie Valerie, book blogger extraordinaire whose first novel debuts soon.

http://www.julievalerie.com/

Christa Yelich-Koth, whose graphic novel HOLLOW is a feast for the eyes and the mind.

http://christayelichkoth.com/

 

 

 

 


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As Seen on ScaryMommy…Thanks, Jill!

Mother-and-Child-700x400

 

This week, I was honored to be featured on ScaryMommy.com, Jill Smokler’s amazing blog, of which I’m a huge fan. The following is an excerpt from my guest post. Please visit ScaryMommy for the rest!

THERE’S NO ‘ME’ IN MOTHERHOOD…OR IS THERE?

Something strange and insidious happens when you become a mother. And no, I’m not talking about stretch marks, although those suckers are truly strange and insidious.

The moment a woman becomes a mom — as soon as that screaming, slippery, wonderful, miraculous baby is pushed from her loins — her world suddenly shrinks down to those things that involve her child.

When I was younger, before I had kids, if people asked me about myself, I would tell them all the fantastic things I enjoyed doing, or had done, like singing in clubs around New York City, or jumping out of airplanes from 14,000 feet, or going on national tours with off-Broadway shows.

Now, when people ask me about myself, I talk about my kids. Not that they aren’t worthy of conversation. They are amazing and gorgeous and great and terrific and funny and bright and — oops. See? I did it again.

But sometimes I wonder, what happened to me? The me before kids who parasailed in Florida and closed a club called Tattinger’s in Atlantic City at 7AM, and chased owls and assorted oddly colored bugs in Joshua Tree, and walked on the ruins of the Acropolis.

– See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/theres-no-me-in-motherhood-or-is-there/#sthash.VMKixKSp.dpuf

 

 

 

 


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NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo  NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November, during which hundreds of thousands of writers undertake to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I have a fondness for NaNoWriMo because I wrote my debut novel, SOMETHING NEW, during the 2010 competition, and it later went on to be published by Berkley Trade–a division of Penguin USA.

This has been a particularly tough year for me, as my mom passed away in May. My writing has suffered, a fact that would make my mom very upset with me. So I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo this month, not just to get me back on track, but to offer me an escape from my grief and the many pressures I’ve fallen under from settling my mother’s affairs.

Perhaps some of you reading this are participating in NaNoWriMo. If so, I would like to offer you some of my reflections about this month:

1) You are not alone. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people just like you parked in front of a computer screen wringing words out of their brains to meet their daily word count.

2) You are not crazy. Yes, 50,000 words in 30 days is insane. But doable. 100,000 words is doable if you don’t eat or sleep or go to the bathroom. Just saying.

3) Your kids will not starve. For moms like me who tend to do everything for their kids, like choose their clothes and brush their hair and stand over them whilst they do their homework, let this month be for you a chance to foster your children’s independence. And, really, if they’re hungry enough, your kids can find food all on their own.

4) There is no such thing as Writer’s Block. There is boredom and there is brain fry and there is ambivalence and paralysis. But you can always get the words out. They may not be brilliant, but you can always go back and make them brilliant later. If you’re stuck, write through it. Push yourself through to the next scene and the next. Pretty soon, you’ll get your groove back.

5) Stop reading this blog, or any other blog post, update, pin, or tweet and get back to your novel. It’s waiting for you.

I am 17,000 words in. And although I don’t think this novel will win any prizes, I’m proud of the fact that I am back to writing every day, and even prouder to call myself a writer. We’re a kooky bunch. We have the dialogue of made-up people swirling around in our heads, we journey to faraway places and alien worlds without ever stepping outside, we work hard to inject conflict into our lives, at least on paper. But we also get to create on a daily basis, and that’s pretty great.

To all my fellow NaNoWriMos, I won’t wish you luck. You don’t need it. I wish you the gift of more and more words!


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The Secret Shameful Sigh of Relief

Summer is almost over and the little darlings are headed back to school in about one hundred and thirteen hours (but who’s counting?).

I consider myself a good mom. Not the Mother Teresa of parenting, but, you know, solid. I don’t let my kids drink Dr.Pepper (which means that I have to drink my own Dr. Pepper whilst hiding in the closet) and I don’t let them juggle knives or watch Friday the 13th Part Gazillion.

I fall short all the time, like for example, I really wanted the kids to learn French this summer, planned to start lessons the week after school let out, 30 minutes every day.  However, I only broke the French cds out of the packaging yesterday. (With 113 hours left, no one is going to be parlayvouing any time soon, if you know what I mean.) I wanted to get them on a strict exercise regimen…I think they each may have done 15 minutes on the elliptical machine in June. I thought it would be good for them to read five chapter books this summer, but I had to settle for Ninjago comics instead. So, okay, best laid plans, and all. But, despite what my husband says, I make up for my deficiencies in other ways. Really I do.

The last two and a half months have been terrific. I managed to entertain my kids and stimulate them and offer them all kinds of frolicking fun. The loss of my mom in May made me a little manic about making sure they had a FANTASTIC summer. And they did. They had a great time! And do you know what? I am freaking exhausted!

mom drinkI love my kids, adore them actually. They’re smart and funny and entertaining, but they are also a lot of work! Not only are they physically exhausting (i.e. we were at SeaWorld and Aquatica from opening until closing two days in a row!), but they are also mentally exhausting. Now that they’re older, they argue intelligently. They debate with a canniness that keeps me on my toes (and makes me wish Happy Hour started at about noon).

So while I can say honestly—again—that we had a great summer, the impending start of the school year has me conflicted. Not because I’m not looking forward to sending them off into someone else’s care for seven hours a day, but because I am looking forward to it.

When other moms or dads or anyone, for that matter, ask me if I’m glad that summer’s over, there’s a little voice inside of me that whispers in my ear:

“If you were a really good mom, you’d say ‘Heck, no! I never want school to start again. I’ll miss my kids terribly. I want them home with me 24/7 because they are the best things in my life and I wish summer would last forever!’”

So  I find myself stuttering. “Uh…uh…uh…” thinking that if I say ‘Yes, I can’t wait for the freaking school bell to ring Wednesday morning!’ I’m admitting that I suck as a parent, at least to myself.

I know this is ridiculous. I know that all moms (and dads) have their own personal kid-tolerance level and that by September 1st, every single one of them is ready for an asylum. But it’s that darn voice. The voice of Miss Perfect-Mom who I will never be but who I strive to be and end up continually disappointing myself.

So, by way of answer, I say, “Oh, we’ve had a great summer!” Then I let out a little shameful sigh of relief. And the other parents, the ones who have their own Miss or Mr. Perfect-Parent living inside of them? They understand me perfectly.

But I envy the parents who just lay it all out there and, without hesitation, say, “I wish school started in July.”

September For-Fun Minute


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Come See The Sexist Side of Sears

searsI don’t consider myself a feminist. I’ve never marched with Gloria Steinem or burned my bra or thrown out my pantyhose, although I have been known to ignore (read: misplace) my razor for weeks at a time. On the other hand, I’m not June Cleaver either. I don’t wear a frilly apron and wait on my husband hand and foot. I don’t call him Sire, or anything. I move my own furniture and kill my own bugs—except for spiders, which I remove from the house without causing any bodily harm, and not because I’m superstitious, but because that single spider has about three hundred siblings living right outside my front door who will storm my home and bite the crap out of me if I kill one of their brethren.

So, basically, I’m just an average Jane. I don’t take offense easily. I don’t have to make noises about how women are just as good as men because I secretly know that women are far superior to men and knowing that gives me a sense of peace that need not be shouted from the rooftops.

But, wait, I digress.

The other day, something happened to me that made me angry on behalf of all my sister-housewives across the land. I’d made an appointment with Sears to have one of their contractors come out to my home to give me an estimate on some kitchen remodeling. Let me repeat that. I made the appointment. While I was on the phone with the woman setting up the appointment, she asked for my husband’s name. I didn’t understand why she needed his name. I mean what if I was single? What if I was married, but my husband was in a coma fighting a flesh-eating bacteria? What if I had a wife instead of a husband? Wasn’t asking for my husband’s name somewhat presumptuous on the scheduler’s part?

Anyway, I decided to let that one go and gave up my husband’s name. To which she responded: “And will your husband be present when Sergio comes out?”

“Why, no,” I replied. “He’ll be at work. It’ll just be little ole me.” (That’s irony, folks, because I am neither little nor  ole.)

So, on the day of the appointment, Sergio called to tell me he had been double-booked and we would have to reschedule. He asked me to call him to chat about the kitchen. I did, but got his voicemail. He never called me back.

Now, my life has been busy, so I didn’t call Sears right away to reschedule. I figured I’d get to it when I could, or I’d hear from Sears sooner or later. And I did. Sort of. Wait, no. I didn’t. This is what happened:

Three days after the failed appointment, MY HUSBAND got a brochure in the mail saying: Dear Alex- Thank you for scheduling a free in-home design consultation…blah blah blah…etc.

Three days after that, MY HUSBAND got a post card in the mail saying: Alex, it’s time to reschedule your appointment with Sears Home Services…blah blah blah…etc.

Excuse me? Is it 1950 all over again? I’m sorry, but that is just totally bogus. MY HUSBAND did not make the appointment. MY HUSBAND had nothing to do with calling Sears. Had it been up to him, I never would have called Sears in the first place. And by the way, my husband supports the family, but I’M paying for the kitchen remodel. And do you know who I’M paying to do the kitchen remodel?

NOT SEARS!

Softer side, my ass.