Sunday, November 28, 2010

Running Scared and Other Dillemas

Well, I had nothing to worry about via my last post about the potential "fix up" with a dork. The guy must have had cold feet (or his last date was missing her front tooth), because he never made it to happy hour. Running scared, no doubt, just like me.

Thank God.

Well, what else is new dating-wise, you ask? There's a VERY my type kind of dude writing me on my social site, only he lives in Kansas. I'm sure he'll fade away, eventually, (like they always do) so I'll enjoy his internet attentions while they last.

Oh, guess what? Asshat, aka butt-trumpet, aka, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, aka everyone's favorite, Cactis Man wrote me.

He'd scrounged around in his e-mail box, finding a cutting e-mail I'd sent him last spring with a link to "our song" and sent it back to me with a note reading, "Does this video still make you funny in the panties?" I was so mad I almost threw my laptop across the room. I imagined him on fire. I imagined him being slowly squeezed to death by a python, then I imagined him being shot by a giant cannon out into outer space and imploding.

Needless to say, I wasn't sure how to respond, so I didn't. He wrote again, this time using a different tactic very foreign to him, "Being nice." "Being nice" and "Feigning Respect" towards me threw me for a loop, and since it was the holiday and I was feeling all nice, I felt sorry for him and simply wrote, "Hope your grandfather is well, Take care," which he must have taken as encouragement--stupid me. He flirted horribly with me when I put him in his place with a two sentence e-mail suggesting that perhaps his girlfriend might like his e-mails to me when he dropped the bomb and said they weren't together.

Well, imagine that: Cactis Man not being able to make a relationship work after 6 months? Shocking, isn't it?

Meh, I guess I can take some comfort in that. It was never about ME, what I couldn't be for him or anything like that. Some people are NEVER happy with anyone.

My new strategy with Cactis Man should he write me again? Well, remember, I put a Verizon block on my phone, so he can't contact me there. As for e-mails? Ignore him completely.

As Terri said, "The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is INDIFFERENCE."

Therefore, no e-mails back to him, no matter what tricky ruse he uses.

Lessons to pass on to you:
1. You simply CANNOT have a long distance relationship with someone more than one days' drive from you.
2. You can't just stop at a Verizon block. A Yahoo block and Facebook block are also good ideas.
3. As I previously noted, write a pathetic short story about your ex and make sure it's very sad, tragic. Tell yourself you'll mail it to him if he doesn't cease contact. And finally,
4. There's two kinds you can date in this world: those who were raised in a safe, healthy environment, and those who weren't. Given this choice, why date someone dysfunctional?

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Dork on the Horizon?

Yippee-skippy, it's the weekend. I might have a new meeting with a potential dork. A friend of mine, whom I adore, (and don't want to hurt her feelings) wants me to meet her new boyfriend's "friend," tonight for happy hour.

Surprisingly enough, he's not on Facebook, so I have no idea what he looks like. My friend calls everyone "cute," which already raises suspicion. In her eyes, Marty Feldman, Woody Allen, and actors like that are also "cute." So I'm a tad worried.

His name is either "Stash" or "Crash," or "Slash," she wasn't sure. Yes, at best, I'm getting an image of "Slash" from Guns-n-Roses. I BEGGED her, as in almost on my knees, to make this NOT a "set-up." Instead, I said, "Can't we just all meet for happy hour as friends? Don't even tell him I'm coming." Of course, I know her, and she's probably told him I'm just his "type," so he'll have delusions of grandeur before I even show up.

However, I'm prepared for the worst and am already rehearsing alibis to get out of there after an hour or two, tops.

Got any recommendations?

Here's my short list:
1. "I've got to get up early tomorrow and meet some friends to clean up the tree limbs out of my yard from the tree trimming I had done. Say, do you have a truck I could borrow?" Then explain to him I don't drive and have only had a few crashes on my record.

2. "I've got to get going. My ex-boyfriend and I are going hiking tomorrow morning." Usually, with men, ANY mentioning of an "ex" always leaves them running for the door. They'll be happy to see you go and will never bother you again.

Unfortunately, those are the only two excuses I can think of to get away tonight. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pushy People

Well, I had to nix another would-be date. He was pushy.

What's up with people when you TELL them you're just looking for friends and then they push you for more?

I told this new guy I met online that I just wanted to move slowly in possibly romantic endeavors and just make friends, see where things go, yet he kept pushing to meet me, whining, pushing, not listening, pushing, not listening, pushing, not listening, pushing, etc.

To me, a man who pushes and does not listen to you says one thing: He does NOT respect you. And, he does NOT want to be your friend.

Are people who do this just disrespectful? Or are they just stupid? Maybe they're just desperate, disrespectful AND stupid??


Monday, October 25, 2010

Peeing in the Haunted House

Well, Jen and Rob and I went to "Terror in the Dark" or some such thing Saturday night. This wasn't the cheesy one held in the old 4-H barn of the fairgrounds but was some privatized one and absolutely SCARY.

Note to all gals: 1. don't forget to wear a sanitary pad OR make sure you go pee at least ten times before getting admission into the "Haunted House." To make sure there are no embarrassing accidents, Jen and I recommend a sanitary pad to avoid any unnecessary problems. Heh, heh. Read on.

I didn't make a date there with any cute guys in line, or any of the actors dressed up as spooks, but nevertheless Jen could have.

Jen decided that once we hopped up on the "haunted railroad car," supposedly ran by an insane clown, that she would drop a bomb on him.

He was doing a great job at being scary and hollering at us to hunker down on the hay bale provided for us, and it was dark and creepy, and we could hear the screams coming from the other "haunted" rooms. There were things pounding on the door behind us illiciting plenty of screaming on my end.

Jen waited a beat after I finished screaming then said in the dark, "I think I peed my pants."

This broke character to the actor playing the psycho ghost-clown as he belly laughed in broken character and said in an impressive voice to Jen, "You're not even half way through the tour yet!"

I think he was impressed with her comedic timing.

Needless to say, she could have given him her number. Score!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Usual Dorks

It's time for a dating update, though I don't have any real news.

Just some interesting musings. As a psychological experiment, I put a new disclaimer on my site. I put that due to the outrageous outpouring of trolls, nerds, not cool guys and just butt-uglies, I was OFF THE MARKET.

I expected hate-mail, duplicitous rants about how I should just be looking for "a nice guy" aka, super ugly and that my priorities were off. Why is it that just homely guys say that? Why is it that a good looking guy never says that?

Well, the exact opposite happened. I have over a dozen emails pouring in. I've not answered any of them, just visited their websites, none of them are cute, of course.

The ones I've read so far have been nice, polite even.

I wonder what this means?

Oh, and who's hot for me these days? Still, the "Secret Gay Guy," the 73 year old, oh and the guy who's president of Narcotics Anonymous.

Whoooooweee hot doggies!

Friday, October 1, 2010

How to Spoof a Telemarketer

Fun With Telemarketers

Don't you just get annoyed whenever you have to call and deal with a telemarketer or anyone in marketing? You know, like when Visa constantly sends you those lame forms to get you to change over and get on one of their lower fee credit cards? You ever get those STUPID things that look like blank checks from Visa made out to you? Who falls for that? Plus, they hook you in with a lower interest rate, then once they got you, they jack it back up again (read the .0008 sized font, and you'll see).

Their latest trick is to send you a letter (that they're hoping you'll just throw away as junk mail). But the trick is the letter REQUIRES that if you do NOT want their "Credit Protection Plus" package, you must CALL and CANCEL it--and you only have 30 days to do it or they'll bill you the $89 bucks to your account.

So luckily, I happened to read this junk mail.

So I called to cancel.

I got someone from where I'm guessing is the Middle East and someone who's English wasn't very good. He tried relentlessly to railroad me that this "Protection Plus" program was so good and had so many perks that I REALLY, REALLY should opt in--despite my MANY polite declinations. So I said, "You want me to PAY basically for a credit card that's normally free. Is that what you're saying?" He then proceeded to tell me more than I ever wanted to hear about these useless perks.

I was getting bored, and very annoyed. Then a prank hit me.

So it went like this:

Marketer: So we have many benefits. There's the "Fly 80,000 miles program" and you get a free latte or Crispy Kreme, only in available locations only. That is just one of many perks.

Me: Perks? Will your credit card pay for my health insurance? You know. Pay it FOR ME every month? I'd like to not have to pay that anymore. That would be a neat perk if you could pay it for me.

Marketer: (uncomfortable pause) Well, I don't think so. We're a credit card company.

Me: How about pay my car insurance (I don't even own a car). That'd be neat--what a perk!

Marketer: Well, I don't think it'll pay that for you. We're a credit card company.

Me: How about this perk? How about Visa sending me a coupon for $500 in groceries. Can they do that perk?

Marketer: (trying to get off the phone) We're a credit card,

Me: (interrupting) You could send me a gift certificate to J.C. Penny's then. I need some new school clothes, and that'd be a cool perk. How's that?

Marketer: We're a credit card company, Ma'am.

Me: (acting astonished) a CREDIT CARD company? You're a credit card company?

Marketer: Yes.

Me: Well, maybe you ought to cancel my "Credit Protection Plus," if you can't give me any prizes.

Needless to say, it took him only about 5 seconds to cancel my card and let me off the phone. See, why get mad at credit card companies when you can have fun?

Another time I pretended to be a five year old girl answering the phone for her mother while she was in the shower, and there was the time I pretended like I was mentally challenged. Fun times, but that's fodder for another time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Buh-Bye 24-7 Program

Saturday night, I had the party I've been waiting 18 months to throw.

The 24-7 Program has re-located OUT OF MY NEIGHBORHOOD!

If you recall, it was hell being here, but now they're gone (buh-bye career drunks and druggies, buy-by all that traffic). The turn out for the celebratory party wasn't as good as I expected with 6 people not RSVP'ing, but Jen, Rob, Paula and I had a good time anyway.

The news team stopped by with a camera, and I wished more people had shown up, but all was well. I didn't bother to watch myself on TV last night. I look like shit on TV anyway.

But the 24-7 Program is gone. Thank GOD!

Here's what I've learned:

1. Most people are lazy though good-intentioned and while they might volunteer to help you with your community project, expect to have most of the burden fall upon your shoulders.

2. I will NEVER again take for granted how lovely it is to have a quiet neighborhood.

3. I will NEVER again take for granted how lovely it is to hear the crickets, wind blow through the trees, or simply the sound of nothing.

4. Nothing works better for your enemy to see you mean BUSINESS than the threat of a good old fashioned, American lawsuit. Hate to say it, and I wish people did the right thing simply because it's the right thing, but they don't. Many people ONLY do the right thing when you threaten them with a lawsuit. But you can only play that card last. You must go through all other options first to give the enemy the benefit of the doubt.

5. A lot of people don't want to get involved not because they're "busy" as they tell you but because they're embarrassed by their ignorance when it comes to community/state/federal laws, civil disobedience and an overall fear of "big brother."

I'm going outside now in my P.J's to have a weekend cup of joe and enjoy the quiet. You don't know what you have, until you've lost it. So drop what you're doing and go sit outside and sit a spell. Trust me. It's easy to take that for granted until it's gone.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Red Flags: How to Recognize NPD

Ahhhh, while cleaning out my inbox (some 2,000 messages) I found this one from The Thing, also known as "He Who Shall Not Be Named," or "The Flaw."

I read two good books which have given me an understanding of him, and the nasty road he took me down. Narcissistic Lovers: How to Recognize Them and Move On and How to Recognize a Dangerous Man Before You Get in Too Deep.

Probably the most dangerous pitfall anyone can get into with someone who's a emotional vampire/or has NPD, is letting them make you go too fast.

Having said that, read his old email.
Natalie Jane
(he did this in 18 font in some old weird script)
There it is, my love. I will have this as the center piece inked into my arm. With that in mind, reference your other email, I will not throw in the towel on this relationship. I will give you and us all I have, all that we deserve. I intend for Natalie and Scott last forever.

Natalie Jane, I am content with you, and content is not something I've been - ever. You are everything I've ever wanted in a woman, best friend, and partner. I will make you happy and treat you the very best that I can. I do love you very much.

Did I mention I was looking at diamonds while I was out this weekend?

I'd really like to get "our place" somewhere in your neck of the woods someday soon. I may not be there much of the time, but it will be ours. I love the idea of having a home to go to with a beautiful woman already there waiting for me.

Thank you for the gift box. It was so you and that's what I love most about it. I have the card displayed next to the other one you sent me. The perfume on it permeates the air when I sit near by and I yearn for you.

I love you, Natalie Jane.

Red flag number 1: he wrote this after only one date when he flew out here to meet me.
2. who falls in love with someone after one meeting?

Care to identify any other red flags? As well as the unintentional comedy of this?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summer Dork Shake Down

It's almost the end of summer. Having said that, it's time to re-cap my dates over the summer, and give you a complete list of jackassery. This summer there was a grand total of 4 dates. And here they are! Enjoy!

Spitter, Speed-Date Fiasco, Bad Breath and Secret Gay Guy.

Spitter was a fix-up from my ex boyfriend's ex girlfriend. Yes, a bad idea to have your ex's ex-girlfriend set you up. I was suspicious from the get-go, so I brought a gal-pal with me. As soon as he walked over to our table, I knew it was a no-go: 1980's glasses, and alarming gray-haired mullet that turned plenty of heads as he approached us. But the worst was yet to come. He must have had a grand cache of spittle, for as he was talking, a spot of spittle shot out of his mouth like a rocket and landed on my cheek, then two sentences later another one whizzed through the air and hit my other cheek. What do I do, I thought. If I wipe it off, he'll know he spat, and I didn't want to embarrass him. If I leave it on my cheek, I might retch. I waited a few seconds then sort of brushed my cheeks with the back of my hand making it look like I had an itch when he did it yet again. This time the spit landed on a nacho, just as I was about to put it in my mouth, then again and again. This happened no less than a dozen times. I declined eating any more of our mutually-shared nachos. No more than 15 minutes into the date, Spitter stops talking to me, talks only to my gal-pal then asks her for her number under the excuse that "maybe we could all share our numbers and go out sometime." Whatever. A guy who hits on your friend and gets her number as he's showering you with spit when he's supposed to be meeting you, pretty much says it all.

Speed Dating Fiasco--
Remember that post earlier this summer? Did I mention I occasionally see the one "date" I had walking to the jail next to my house every day? Apparently, he neglected to tell me that he must check in with his parol officer each day. What a catch!

Bad Breath--
Bad breath was also a set-up. Like Spitter, you can gather why. Firstly, I had my reservations all along, for he's considerably older than me, and I'm not sure how I feel about dating men two years younger than my mom. And it's extremely difficult to be a good listener when waves of toxic fumes are blasting your nose and eyes. Hello, Altoid? I had to breath out of my mouth the whole time which made talking rather difficult. The frightening thing was that he was sitting about four feet away. If his breath was that bad at such a distance, what would it smell like under your nose?

Secret Gay Guy--
You know, back in the day, like 30 years ago in the 1980's, it was pretty common to be closeted about your gayness. Not so much now. Except for Secret Gay Guy. I met him online, and after a few emails, he called me. Despite the super feminine slightly British voice (think Nicole Kidman on estrogen), I guess the clincher for me was that for no reason whatsoever he had to tell me three times that he was NOT gay. Yet, I had not asked him if he WAS gay. What's that old Shakespeare quote, "You doth protest too much." ?? WTF??

So that's my summary of summer dating. Don't worry, I'm praying for us all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Up in the Air and H1-N1

Yippee! I'm finally back home, and on blogger again. Sorry I was gone so long, but where I've been this summer had no internet connections.

June left me all over the map, flying to Minneapolis then the Quad Cities to see my parents then back home to Rapid again then off to Manitou Springs, Cortez, Mesa Verde then home again.

So that leads me to blog about the nightmares of flying, layovers, missed flights and the rank people you get stuck sitting next to.

Delta's flight leaving Rapid was one hour late, of course making me miss my connecting flight to Minneapolis. The half wit at the desk here in Rapid, unbeknownst to me, re-booked me onto a flight that wasn't supposed to leave for another 4 hours (as if I'd want to hang out at the Rapid City airport for a couple hours). Once I figured out that he screwed up my flight, I angerily marched back up to the desk asking to talk with a different flight representative who got me on the next flight one hour later, BUT with an 8 hour layover in Minneapolis.

What do you do waiting at the Minneapolis airport for 8 hours? Well, catch the H1-N1Flu of course, as I became gravely ill 48 hours later.

But for now, I must rant on my final beef with flying. What is it about stinky people on small flights? Is it too much to ask for that someone take a bath before a flight, take a breath mint or not eat jumbo extra bean burritoes before sitting next to me?

Two of the Rankest Types of People to Sit next to you on a Flight:

1. The "Shower? Who needs to shower, not me!" type:

This cat next to me hadn't washed his hair in maybe a month or two. Even though he sat across the aisle from me, I could smell it, an odd odor similar to rusty tin cans, of bins of old grease sitting outside of fast food chains. I could actually see the cabin lights sparkling off the grease built up in his hair.

2. The, "I had beans for lunch and forgot my Bean-o" AKA, "The Farter."

On my second flight, I was pleased to see I would sit with a man my age who appeared to be well shaved and clean smelling. That is, until he farted. The first time was an alarming experience since he held it in until our stewardess was there asking us if we'd like a soda, my eyes watering with a Kleenex over my nose. "The farter" usually does this, waiting until multiple smellers are within his vicinity so that everyone else will think YOU farted, not him. I took solace in imagining him set on fire. The second time he farted was after we'd landed. He'd hopped up to grab his overhead bag. Then after he got it, I moved one seat over, still seated, about 4" from his butt, when he farted again. I actually wondered if he had pooped his pants.

Moral of the story?
I see they have travel sized bottles of Febreeze at the grocery store. That will certainly take care of the problem.

Feel like spraying me with fart-gas? Why go ahead. I'll be armed (squirt-squirt). Beware!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Speed Dating Disaster

Over-rated=speed-dating. I theorize that there's a small window of cute/decent men available (recently divorced from their first "starter-marriage"), but if you don't snap them up, you're S.O.L.

You're left with three scary options: 1. set-ups from friends 2. Internet dating or 3. Speed-dating

Jen told me it was front page news the other day in the Journal, and YES, I went. Thank GOD, my picture didn't show up. Save your money, folks; Speed dating ain't nothing like Sex and the City.

Quick list of perks (the only positive things I can think of to say):
1. They had nice black table cloths on the little tables and candles.
2. The booze was reasonably priced.

There were 9 guys and they went like this (hold on to your hats, folks, I ain't making this stuff up):

Guys 1-2: were so quiet I had to do all the conversation maintenance. And they were mumblers: I had to constantly say, "Beg your parden. What'd you say? Huh?" then I just gave up and pretended to listen, only both quit talking and surfed their Blackberries. Apparently I need a Bell-tone hearing aide.

Guys 3-4 were so obnoxious I wanted to punch them. One was a guy who either didn't age well OR was supposed to be in the ages 56-66 category. He wore a vest from the 70's and was like something from "Welcome Back Kotter." He thought he was VERY funny. The other guy was even STUPIDER and talked about a professor I know from BH and how she's still in love with her ex the entire four minutes. He looked like Marty Feldmen but with hair like Einstein. If you don't know who Marty Feldmen is, google-image him immediately.

Guy 5: wore, I kid you not, a fedora like Indiana Jones and thought he was Crocodile Dundee. He wore a leather cutaway coat past his knees and combat boots (hello, Columbine?). He was about 6'4" but only weighed maybe 130 lbs. He had strange disturbing-looking scabs under one eye, blinked incessently and had frightening viewpoints about nuclear energy of which he proudly informed me he was a nuclear weapons and energy clean up soldier in the Navy during the Gulf War. He was also missing most of his hair and had black circles under his eyes (nuclear fallout from an "accident"? go figure).

Guy 6: had to be pulled from the crowd because, AS I PREDICTED, not enough men signed up and a few backed out. Sadly, this guy was one of the best looking ones. This guy was a REAL winner. Firstly, he informed me he has no job because as he puts it, "I don't get along with anyone and they say I know everything then the bosses fire me." He was missing both canine teeth and also flunked out of college several times. Then a 28 year old at the bar walked over and told me he borrowed her car and used to date her younger sister then totalled her car. Nice. He also said, "I'm a fixer-upper kind of guy, kinda like fixing up an old car. I've got lots of issues." I ACTUALLY said to him, "So it sounds like you're a co-dependant's dream!" and laughed. NEXT.

Guy 7: was an engineer in green technology. He was OK but boring in kind of a mortician sort of way. He sported my favorite male fashion faux paus: tucked in polo shirt (who under 70 tucks in their shirts?) and sporty-stone washed jeans. He was one of three older men there who wore white tennis shoes (I was too scared to look and see if they were all velcro-closures.) He apparently didn't know how to keep a conversation going and I nodded off while he was talking so low I couldn't hear him anyway.

Guy 8: was actually cute and looked a tiny bit like Guy Fieri on the Food Channel. He's from California and rides motorcycles. However, when the bell rang, he couldn't WAIT to jump up from his chair and get away. He was also pulled from the audience.

Guy 9: never showed up.

Well, there you go. God, I fear for us all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Liar Competition

Oh, boy! Cactus Man outdid himself. I found out he's dating someone new, the entire time he was recently sexting me. No doubt lying to her and telling her she's "the only one" for him.

He's a real whiz, that Cactus Man.
So a friend of mine went online and did a little investigatory work and found out that Cactus Man is dating a woman who was brought to court in a large case of auto-sales fraud. Then she found some pictures of her. She looks like a transgender at 6'2" and has suspiciously large looking adam's apple.

She also found out that Cactus Man was already sexting other women while he was already dating "the one." Let's just say he's the father of all dogs.

I can't believe I dated this pinhead.

I've got to get some better luck now after the Karma Dogs straighten out the universe after this trainwreck of man has finally gotten the last boot from me.

Let's cheer to Cactus Man finally exiting stage left! I'm going to a "How to Frame a Healthy Relationship and How to Recognize an Unhealthy One and Get Out" workshop tomorrow, none too soon.

There will NOT be another Cactus Man. Not if I can help it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Revenge Humor and Survival

It's Called a Break Up not a Break Down, Right?

Oh boy, Cactus Man has been sending me sexy texts/emails again lately (after a two-month hiatus). And it's been trying on my nerves. He's in his up-cycle and feeling flirtatious with me again. It's not me he misses; it's the control over me he misses. That of course can be hard on a woman. You miss his touch, his words, but you realize he drove you straight to the therapist's chair.

You can, however, derive some humor from it.

When Cactus Man sent me a lame attempt at a sexy text, I wrote, "If I remember correctly, you didn't want me anymore. How contrary, Cactus Man." Of course, that shut him up completely because he wondered, "What's Cactus Man mean?" Hence, that helped me and it helped me re-gain my dignity. The healing process is so complex. Laughter, of course, helps a lot. And sometimes a playful revenge fantasy helps, too. Sometimes you can act on it. I also sent Cactus Man a short story I wrote based upon his unstable, sad, dysfunctional childhood. Slightly mean of me, yes, I know. But I changed all the names/locations, etc.

My Ideas of How to Get Over a Heartache from a Bad Person:

1. Make up a comic strip about them. Of course, this implies humor and a touch of artistry. Employ a friend to help you and don't forget to do it over a good six-pack of beer. Humor is a MUST. Transform him/her into an animal or object that befits him and what he's/she's done.

2. Write a short story about a character (based on your ex) who has his shortcomings theatrically displayed. Make it over the top. Better still, make it either a sad-comedy or tragedy (but make the character likable, so the story is more tragic). If you're really bold, send it to them, with no explanation at all.

3. Live well. Honestly, THIS revenge is the best medicine. If you hear from your ex, feel free to lie liberally within reason, "I finally lost that ten pounds," or "Doing pretty well. Won a Harley from a drawing at the rally last year." "Doing OK. Got a 30% raise in pay, but I don't want to brag."

4. Shower fantasies. Of course, imagining several fantasies in your head while you're in the shower is always gratifying. My current fave is picturing Cactus Man getting an invitation to my wedding in the mail and imagining the look on his face. And of course, in HIS invitation is a picture of my new man who: 1. has all his hair 2. is better looking and 3. younger than him.

Even though I fantasize it, you can too, and for some strange reason, it's immensely gratifying!

Go ahead. Try it! It works!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Love Stinks

Love Stinks

I thought I'd met a real contender but once again, I was wrong. (Oh, and Cactus Man is texting me again, though I'm ignoring him.) Never a dull moment around here. But anyway, I thought this guy was the bomb. Firstly, he was local! He transferred here from Wisconsin; we have the same unusual hobbies (i.e., ghost town hunting). He was big-n-manly, financially stable, fit, a retired big city cop (how sexy is that?) a great big, confident, funny character. So what went wrong? You tell me. We had almost six weeks of internet/phone/photo-swapping bliss before we met, calling each other every night, long conversations, met, kissed, all looked great. Then a week later and the old, "I have to work on myself and some issues I have. It's not you. It's me." Cripes, you'd think the fool would know that line's famous from Seinfeld.

It all boils down to this: internet dating can lead to a sort of non-existent fantasy idolization on either one partner, or even both. Since I've now discovered this, here are some more red flags.

Top Signs Your Internet Love is Transforming you into a Fantasy and Other Various Red Flags:

1. Says you remind him/her of someone famous. Before meeting me, this dude had it in his head I was going to be just like the country singer Sara Evans. He'd wake up every morning and listen to some lame song she'd written and say it'd remind him of me. Anyone who knows me would laugh at this. Really? Chrissy Hinds, maybe. Stevie Nicks, possibly. Even Lady Gaga or Amy Winehouse would be closer. He'd already built me up to something I could never be.

2. Too many failed marriages. This one I realize is controversial. But THREE failed marriages and a failed engagement? Also, if all the divorces are explained as, "She left me," run for the hills. She left you? Yeah, right.

3. An illegitimate kid or two that the person isn't allowed to see.
You guessed it. I should have ran right there. Big FAT red flag.

4. Admitting to many ugly stories. I wondered if I was supposed to be sitting in a confessional giving him absolution. I mean, he spilled too many beans to me in only a matter of a few weeks. Airing too much dirty laundry too soon, is a big, fat red flag.

5. Procrastinating about meeting you. Sigh. Listen up. This is the truest sign of a "Fantasy Seeker." If someone on the net is procrastinating to meet you, you have to ask yourself this, why? I was procrastinating a bit, too, so he's not entirely to blame, but I was only trying to crash diet and lose 10 lbs. before we met. Even though he only lived 30 miles away, he procrastinated too long intentionally, because many men/women, only want the fantasy, not the real deal of meeting, dating, etc.

6. Claims of False Chastity. This one really ONLY applies to the ladies. You know how it is, men pawing all over you. When you find a guy who says he wants to wait, you think you've hit the jackpot. "Finally," you think. "He really must like me." You think it's because he respects you. This guy was SO clever and knew women so well, that when he pulled this card, I bought it hook, line and sinker. It was EASY to buy, believe me. In fact, this was a FIRST for me. Never heard of this card being played before.

So you're wondering, with all the red flags, how did you get fooled anyway?


That old charm has taken many a man and woman and felled them to their knees. This guy was the funniest, fastest-thinking, wittiest guy I'd ever met.

But I guess, TOO MUCH charisma is also a red flag.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to Know When You're Healing from a Bad Relationship

How Do You Know When You're Almost Healed from a Past Bad Relationship?


That's how you know. Jen and I play this fun little game every now and then where we come up with metaphors for people we know. We use animals to represent people. If the people are good-hearted souls, they usually get a good animal to represent them and their character. To play, you have to choose an animal that represents their personality, too.

For example, Jen is a dolphin because she loves the ocean and loves to swim, and she's friendly and good-natured. I am a peacock (not necessarily as favorable) because I can be a tad vain and look in the mirror puffing out my feathers.

However, the other day, I asked Jen, what animal is Scott?

She paused before she replied and said, "An animal is too good for him. He's a cactus." We both laughed at this image and how apt it was.

Then, I doodled this comic.

That's when you know you're almost over someone, when you can not only feel pity for them, but can laugh as well.

What animal represents someone from your past? What animal represents you?

Here's to those who've hurt us. May we laugh at them in the end! Cheers!

The following is from Glimmer Train, a piece written by Allison Amend. Humorous hope for us writers awaiting our first major book deal. She speaks the REAL deal. When one of my writing colleagues got COUPON GIRL published, she went on a similar "tour," which involved shacking up with various old college roomies throughout the country, and crashing out on relatives' beds.

Allison Amend was born in Chicago on a day when the Cubs beat the Mets 2-0. She attended Stanford University and holds an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her work has received awards from and appeared in many publications, including One Story, Black Warrior Review, StoryQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Atlantic Monthly, Prairie Schooner and Other Voices. Her IPPY Award-winning debut short story collection, Things That Pass for Love, was published in October 2008 by OV/Dzanc Books, and a novel, Stations West, is due out from Louisiana State University Press's Yellow Shoe Fiction Series this month (March 2010). Allison lives in New York. Visit her on the web at

Instructions for a Do-It-Yourself Book Tour

It is a truth universally acknowledged that book tours don't really sell books. Or at least they don't sell a lot of books in comparison to the amount of time and expense involved. So then why do authors continue to go on them? Well, book tours have ancillary benefits, otherwise publishers wouldn't still send authors on them. Meeting booksellers makes them more likely to recommend your work, or to look forward to your next book. It gives local media an excuse to talk about you. It gives you a chance to travel the country, catch up with old friends, and show your exes what they missed when they dumped you.
But what if your publisher is an independent press with little to no budget for touring? What if your big name publisher doesn't think it's worth sending you out? Plan your own tour.

When my collection of short stories THINGS THAT PASS FOR LOVE was published by OV/Dzanc Books in 2008, they offered me $1000 toward book promotion. I took it on the road (and ended up spending a bit more than that, but I did visit over 17 cities). Here are some helpful tips as you plan your own DIY book tour:

1.What do you want?
Define your goals. Are you trying to sell X number of books? Or are you taking a "victory lap"? Are you visiting certain friends or a favorite old haunt? If you know what you want, you can judge the best tour for you. Then, maybe, it's worth it to drive 300 miles to sell three books to your aunt Gladys.

2.Start here:
Sort your Facebook friends by region or do your luddite equivalent. The places you have the most friends are likely to generate the biggest crowds ("Crowd" in this article is defined as six or more audience members). Obviously, your hometown is a requisite, especially if your parents still live there. If you see that you only know two people in Seattle, maybe it's not worth flying there. No one's heard of you, so it's unlikely that people will come to see you read unless your friends force them to come. Consider also your college and/or grad school, especially if you know professors there who can require their students to attend. (An aside: Try to avoid the reading where only two people show up. It's embarrassing. Know, however, that you will have at least one during your tour. Be happy when it happens; at least THAT'S over.)

3.Set aside lots of time. Make a spreadsheet.
For some reason, planning a tour takes forever. You call, you find out the events person is only available on Tuesday mornings, you forget to call back, etc. Keep a record of where you've called/emailed, who you've talked to and what the follow up action is. You'll be glad you did.

4.Buy (or download and print) a map.
Did you know West Virginia borders Pennsylvania? Me neither. Once you've picked your towns, try to put them in some coherent order. Ann Arbor, Michigan; Los Angeles, California; Oxford, Mississippi; Portland, Oregon is not a good itinerary. This might mean that you don't get to some cities. Oh well. Catch them next time around.

5.See where other authors have read.
Authors post their appearances on their websites, so pick a few authors who were published by indie presses and see where they read. No need to reinvent the wheel. You can even copy their itinerary. Heck, copy mine:

6.Call bookstores. Practice first. (And have your distributor and ISBN number handy).
The first time I called a bookstore, my end of the conversation went something like this: "Hi. I, uh, have a book out, and I, um, am touring. Can I come read, I mean, if you want me to come and read… ." Finally the person on the other end of the line rescued me. "You want Events. Please hold." While the Smiths played "the Bomb" in the background, I regrouped. When the phone was taken off hold, I managed. "Hi, I'm an author with a book. I'll be in the area on my reading tour in October and I'd love to read. At your bookstore."
As though she was filling out her taxes while she spoke to me, the woman asked who the publisher was. "OV Books," I said, "It's a independent press."
"Uh huh." I could tell she thought I'd written a book about my cat and published it on my inkjet. "Who's the distributor?"
I'd like to use my lifeline, Regis. "That big one?" I said. "That begins with a ‘C'— Consolidated? Conundrum?" As I said this, I realized that Conundrum is the name of the press that rejects Paul Giametti's book in the movie Sideways.
"We don't have any free openings in October. Thanks for calling." She hung up on me.
I cried for ten minutes, ate some pasta and found out the name of the distributor: Consortium.
I picked another bookstore and called again. This was Booksmith, possibly the coolest, nicest, most supportive bookstore on the planet. "Oh, I love OV and Dzanc's books," the events coordinator crowed. "What night do you want to read?"

7.Only plan one or two events in each city.
I read three times in San Francisco, which diluted my audience each time.

8.Try to plan your tour around non-writing events: I went to a wedding in the middle. It was great. There were civilians there, and I spent two whole days without talking about writing!

9.Attend conferences and reading series.
These are fantastic, because you have a built-in audience. They take some planning, since they schedule far in advance, but I read at Wordstock and the Wisconsin Book Festival. I met some great regional writers and had a "crowd" even in places I didn't know anyone. At the Gist Reading Series in Pittsburgh, 100 people stood in line in the cold an hour before the doors opened, paid $5, and brought food for a potluck. Now that's a reading series!

10.Be not proud.
In Seattle, I called up a friend from college to whom I hadn't spoken in 15 years and asked to stay with her. She said yes; I saved money on a hotel room (and she had a hot tub in her backyard). I've asked people to arrange for rides from the airport for me, to host book parties, to feed me. Sometimes you can exchange services—I made a huge batch of turkey chili for one busy family and froze it in exchange for their hospitality. I babysat for another friend in exchange for using her living room for a book party. (Her child did throw up on me 5 minutes before the party started, but that may have been my fault for overfeeding him.)
Have any friends who are professors? Are your professors still at your alma mater? Ask them to invite you to speak to their classes. Often they will offer you an honorarium, or make their class buy your book.

11.Contact everyone you know.
EVERYONE. Friends from camp, preschool classmates, people you met on vacation in 1983, former teachers, old babysitters. Sometimes the strangest people will buy your book or come to your reading. That's a good thing. Encourage them to invite/coerce their friends. Offer free booze.

12.Tell everyone. Via email.

Don't tell them 700 times, but twice or three times shouldn't upset anyone too much.

13.Alert the media.
This one is hard. I Googled newspapers in the towns I was traveling to, and tried to call them up to interest them in a profile or review of my work. Sometimes I pretended to be Eunice Pappalardi, my fake publicist. Sometimes I bought Thai food and asked friends to help me call. I sent out press releases and emails to those whose addresses I could find. It worked better when I could tie my book into something local—I'm from Chicago, so it was an easier sell to Chicago-area journalists and media outlets (NPR, Time Out Chicago, Oy Chicago…). If your book has a theme that is of local interest, highlight that when you call. Be prepared for a miniscule rate of success.

14.Get a "reading outfit."
In other words, make your tour as easy as possible. Travel light. I bought myself a dress that could be worn with or without tights and with or without a sweater. It didn't wrinkle. I liked the way I looked in it. Then I never had to decide what to wear, eliminating one source of anxiety. Always carry-on your luggage and a few of your books in case they don't show up in time. Get an iPhone or a similar gizmo that has Google and mapping capability. I might still be in Madison, Wisconsin if it weren't for my little iPhone friend.
Similarly, pick two or three passages you want to read, and always read the same thing. Funny is best, but take a look at your audience before you start and pick the passage you think they'll appreciate most. I usually read from a humorous story about a porn writer, but when my friends brought their 6 and 7 year olds to the reading, I had to scramble to find child-friendly writing.

15.Be careful out there.
I came home with a nasty rash. It turned out to be an irritation from laundry soap, but my dermatologist could barely contain her judgment when I admitted that I'd slept in 34 different beds in the past 6 weeks. I was also sleep-deprived, lonely, chubby and bloated from eating out. Make sure you're not out there too long. Once, I responded to the airline's question, "What's your final destination?" with "That city that begins with M."

16.Don't expect to write.
It's not gonna happen.

17.Have Fun!

You've been waiting for this moment for years, so try to enjoy it, even as you're stuck in the Dallas airport deciding between your fifth Starbucks of the day or TCBY for a bit of protein while waiting for weather to clear in Minneapolis so you can fly to Chicago to drive to Iowa.
No rest for the weary: My novel, STATIONS WEST, will be out in March of 2010 from Louisiana State University Press. I'm getting out the old spreadsheet and practicing my Eunice Pappalardi voice at this very moment.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring on The Horizon and Love

Spring. The elusive spring. Here in South Dakota, it's not spring, but looking at the calendar, I gleefully noticed there are only 6 more days, then we can start feeling springy.

And what perfect thing to associate with spring, other than new love? This winter I've moved on (leaving the past in the past), and deciding I'm ready for HEALTHY love. With my fingers crossed, I'm hopeful.

Top Six Signs That the Love Bug Has Hit You

1. Jumpiness.
Why is it you feel like a PTSD victim when you're falling for someone (bombs going off where there are none)? You're jumpy; you can't sleep. Your appetite disappears.

2. Past Relationship Review and Paranoia.
Why is it when you meet someone exciting and new, you immediately have mini-freak outs, paranoid that the new potential "It Person" may share characteristics/similarities with the "Bad Ex." Example: "He likes war movies? Uh-oh, my EX liked war movies, too." "He never got along with his mother when he was young? Uh-oh, neither did my ex." "He likes Pale Ale? Uh-oh, so did my ex." Paranoia can reach alarming heights unless kept in check.

3. Dieting.
Why is it that when there's NO one interesting in your love life, those extra beers and slabs of pizza seem like a novel idea, but when someone new may be on the horizon, suddenly that 10 lbs. weight gain over the holidays (and the 5 lb. weight gain from the winter before), makes you feel like you're walking around in a Michelin suit? Determined, you drag out the tape measure. "I've got to get this tire down from 5" to 3" in TWO weeks!!!!!"

4. Clothes Review.
When a new potential love interest is in the wings, suddenly that pair of faded out, holy Levis that were your favorite for the past fourteen years just might you look more hobo than love-interest. Better hightail it to Kohl's praying for sales.
b. Also, the college-era sweatsuit set you've been lounging in while you've been single, appears to be what it really is: a rag with coffee stains ready for the trash.
c. Old concert and rally t-shirts substituting for sexy nighties deem alarmingly unacceptable lounge-wear.
d. Granny panties get made into rags immediately, and you frantically start pawing around in your panty drawer, hoping you still have the "sexy ones."

5. Bed Review.
Those old frayed sheets bought on sale ten years ago from K-Mart actually appear as they really are: faded, thread-bare and ready for the trash bin. Get ready to run to J.C. Penny's looking for the expensive 800 thread count.

And finally,

6. Frivolous Gift Getting.
a. You realize you REALLY do need that $75 bottle of upscale perfume. The $5 hippy Patchouli ain't cutting it anymore.
b. The mismatched wine glasses in your cabinet don't look at cute as you thought,
c. And you realize the rug in your bedroom with the big chocolate stain, and remnants of an old wine stain probably won't help spell out "s-e-x-y t-i-m-e" any time soon.

Hang in there. Dust off that credit card, throw out those bras with the permanent sweat stains, girls, and toss out those old grampa-style white briefs with the skid-marks, guys.

Good luck. I'm praying for us all!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More Do's and Don'ts For Naughty Lads and Lassies

More Quick Tips for Internet-Geek Dating

OK, I’ve got more brain damage to share. You guessed it. I’ve been on my internet date site again looking around and have more tales, scary ones guaranteed to terrify you more than overdue credit card bills you don’t even own, ickier than hearing your mom and dad have “sexy time” in their bedroom when you were last home at Christmas. Not fun. The way that going on interviews is not fun, or getting a bill from the dentist for that crown is not fun, or waiting for test results from Planned Parenthood. I’ve more do’s and don’ts to share. You guessed it. More gaffs.

Do’s and Don’ts for Internet Dating

1. No Showboating. Seriously. I just ran into a plethora of guys’ profiles recently where at LEAST one of their pictures is with their arm around a hottie. What sort of message is this trying to give? “Here’s my ex, (or at least the person I paid to let me hug them so you THINK this is my ex).” Or perhaps this, “I ONLY date women from Hooters! See the cleavage? So if you’re not from Hooters, scram!” The last guy’s site where I encountered this, the guy made sure he captured both breasts of the Hooters girl (everything showing but the nips), but only half her face (thoughtful, right?). This of course begs the question, why do you need to put a HOTTIE on your site in the first place? I may be mistaken, but aren’t you LOOKING for a girlfriend?

2. No Rude Blowoffs. I’m SO SICK of writing something nice to someone, “Hey, that’s a great profile, blah, blah, blah,” only never to hear from them. Not even a “Thanks, but you’re not my type. Take care.” Not only that, but on my site it shows whether or not they deleted your response, too. Nothing says “thanks” like being deleted. Do these people act like this in real life? Do they, say, walk away from the bank teller when the she says, “Have a good day,” and not even say thanks? Who are these people? Maybe they turn around and say, “I’m deleting your response.”

3. Do show a friend or two. BUT think about about considering the choices. For example, I did see a darling picture of a good-looking guy with his grandma. Now that is cute! And it sets up a good precedent! Or how about a picture of your “average” looking lady friend? That also says, “See I don’t objectify women, and your friends might like me.”

4. No pictures of toys. I don’t get this one. No pictures of boats, cars, motorcycles. We don’t need this, really. I saw a guy this week post a picture of his yard. His YARD! (And no, it wasn’t a gorgeous Alpine view, lake, etc. Just his rusty tool shed, folding lawn chair and his yard). OK, I get it you’re into bikes, or boats or whatever. I understand it’s your passion. Just tell us about it. Don’t waste space with a picture. Since I’m a writer, and writing is my passion, should I post a picture of my laptop? Pretty sexy, eh? Maybe I should post a picture of my couch? How about a mug of coffee, steaming from my microwave?

Don’t worry. I’m here, praying for us all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Heart American Idol

Crazy for American Idol

It’s that time of year again. Idol’s on twice a week and started Tuesday night. What is it about that show? I’m not a TV watcher, let alone a FOX TV watcher. I don’t have cable, haven’t since the “free” cable I had been getting from the guy next door was snipped off about eight years ago. I actually donate money to PBS.

So why am I tuning in to this season’s American Idol?

I planned a whole evening around it last night as I frantically ran out and got a pizza and beer before the event began at 7:00. Even Jen knows not to call during Idol unless it’s about Idol because I won’t pick up. “Dude, I’m watching IDOL!!!” I’ll text. My sister and I have texting wars when it comes on every year: “Did you see that hairball just on there now? What was that outfit!? OMG, that hair!! What year is it, 1985?” she will text me, although she’s on eastern time and the show comes on an hour earlier. “Was that last guy tone deaf?” I will text back. “My ears are bleeding!”

I think I must have a taste for voyeurism where the worst of humankind is highlighted weekly for millions of Americans to see. What intrigues me the most are the tone-deaf singers. I’m amazed and find myself forced to gawk, the same way you gawk at a car wreck. You just plain, can’t help it.

I have several questions.

1. “Who are these people?” I mean, where do they find them?

2. “Are ALL people who are tone-deaf ignorant of their deafness?” “Have they ever taped themselves singing?” I can remember one friend from college who always sang in her car, forcing me to have to listen in polite agony. She was amazingly ignorant to her whopping case of tone-deafness.

3. “Why does someone who sucks at singing think that an unusual (and highly embarrassing) costume will somehow up their chances?”

4. “How come the ones who suck the worst, get the most P.O.’d when they are told they suck?”

And finally, the most perplexing question of all,

5. “What kind of “friend” lets you go on American Idol and make as ass of yourself fully knowing you can’t carry a tune in bucket?” A friend who needs his ass kicked, that’s who.

As usual, I’ll probably not watch the whole season, but you can bet I sure won’t miss any of the auditions.

Cheers to American Idol.

Monday, January 11, 2010

On-line Dating Do’s and Don’ts

Man, I’m so tired of on-line dating, but once you reach a certain age, you don’t have tons of options. Let’s face it, you feel pretty stupid standing on the edge of a dance floor at midnight with 20-somethings, and hoping your clothes are still up-to-date (Skinny heels or chunky heels this year? Straight legs or bell bottoms?) especially when you realize some of them are young enough they could be your kids. There’s something sort of sad and pathetic about it, the way an abandoned dog is sad and pathetic, or still paying on student loans as you near retirement.

But every time I look at people’s profiles, I see the same mistakes. My friend, Rob, showed me his inbox and even the women who write him make the same gaffs. What gives? There needs to be an “Internet Dating School” that everyone must first graduate from before they venture a picture of themselves holding a puppy in a sad attempt to get a “pity-date.” Having said that, here’s a few tidbits for newbies.

Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts of On-line Dating.

1. No pictures of you with baseball caps and sunglasses. I don’t get that and neither does anyone else. If we can’t see your face, is there a reason? Are you sporting a friar-like hairdo? A classic Shakespeare do? A giant 1973 afro jammed up under there? A big, shiny cue-ball? Is there a third eye, slit-yellow alien-reptilian eyes, Jodie-the-pig-red-eyes-from-the-Amityville-Horror, or no eyes at all?

2. Avoid copious pictures of kids and pets. One picture of you and your pets/kids is enough, but include several more of just yourself. Yes, I'm sure they’re cute, but chances are the opposite sex is thinking, "They're cute, but not as cute as mine." Besides, no one ever said, “I fell wildly in love him/her because she/he posted such a cute hamster picture.”

3. Avoid cutsy nicknames. Make a nickname that defines you or a hobby instead. “Luking4hotluv,” “Studmuffin,” or “Bleedingthohealing,” is just sad, very, very sad, not cute and funny. Think sad, like a kitty run over on the highway.

4. Do post recent pictures. “Recent” means no older than two years, or within ten pounds. I once saw a guy post his high school graduating picture, which, given the hairdo, was approximately 1984. I guess he thought the Flock of Seagulls hairdo wouldn’t tip anyone off.

5. It should go without saying that you should post FLATTERING pictures. You want to put your best foot forward. A picture of you sitting on the lawn chair after you ate that rack of smoked baby-back ribs, the picture where all your buttons are straining and your gut is hanging out, probably isn’t a good idea.

6. No Disappearing Shirts. Sit down for this one fellas. I know it sounds like a neat idea, the way throwing a little gas onto that stubborn charcoal to get it to start also sounded like a good idea last summer, but put your shirt back on. Seriously. Girls do NOT find a picture of shirtless man sexy unless he’s ALREADY her boyfriend. Displaying your, 70’s porno-king-Ron Jeremy, shag rug on your chest, or your pointy moobs is not very appetizing in the same way that pulling a long, suspiciously curly hair out of your Taco Bell super burrito is also NOT very appetizing.

7. No bicep flexing shots. This one, like number 6, is just very sad. Think sleeping-under-the-bridge-because-you’re-homeless-sad. Like #6, I know it SOUNDS like a good idea, but you gotta trust me on this. Nothing spells UNSEXY like a guy with third-grader sized biceps or saggier triceps than your ancient sixth grade math teacher when she was wearing a sleeveless shirt and writing on the blackboard.

8. Knock it off with the clichés. People want to see how you’re different, not the same as everyone else including that last loser who dumped you. Posting, “I feel just as at home in a tiny black cocktail dress as a sweatshirt and pair of jeans,” is not only cliché, sista, but an outright lie. A guy can sniff out this lie better than a sow sniffing for truffles. Be yourself. And dudes, posting every single sport in the world you watch on ESPN and trying to pass it off as hobbies you actually participate in is just as bad. Besides, telling us on your profile who your favorite NASCAR drivers are along with a list of reasons why, may not drum up a lot of interest from the ladies.

9. No Cabella's ads. Ditto goes for all the pictures of dudes dressed in cammo and holding up ten-point buck heads. If you're into hunting, that's OK, but put it this way, guys, would you like pictures of us ladies holding up floor-length terry cloth, zip-up robes we found on sale at K-mart? I guess, not.

10. Pictures that show you have a weird, perhaps disturbing sense of humor are not good “first impressions” either. When Rob first went online, he took a picture of himself with an empty, carved out Halloween pumpkin on his head as he wielded a fake rubber knife. “Look, it’s funny,” he chortled. That’s not funny to someone who doesn’t know you, I told him. Unless, of course, you think Norman Bates, Micheal Myers or Hannibal Lecter was “funny.”

Good luck, Newbies. I'll be praying for you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mall Horror

Horrors from a Mall Trapped in the 80’s

Just now, when I searched the web for an interior shot of a mall that looked similar to the mall here in Rapid City, South Dakota, I came up empty handed and surprised. Go ahead, Google/Image the words “Shopping mall,” and you get these fancy feats of flashy urban architecture with swanky stores you’ve never heard of and slender, pretty people carrying Prada bags and wearing shoes that cost more than my rent--the complete opposite of what you’ll find here in Rapid City. To truly represent Rapid City’s mall, I was looking for something like a 1980’s-time-capsule: Claire’s, Payless Shoes, Spencers, Maurice’s, Casual Corner, Sears, etc., places you can still buy “Mom Jeans” in abundance, “top siders,” I-zods, stores complete with shag carpeting left over from the mid-80’s, bad lighting and people with questionable haircuts and dubious oral hygiene.

Imagine my indignant gasp. “Where’s the mullets and mutton-chop sideburns, the stone-washed denim and cowboy hats, the Wrangler too-tight jeans, women with muffin tops, hand/neck tattoos and old Sturgis Rally t-shirts?” I felt ripped off, cheated, and deeply sorry that the rest of the country Googling “Shopping Malls” might think Rapid City’s looked like their cosmopolitan counterparts. Maybe I ought to go back to the mall with Jen, this time armed with my digital camera and capture a little creative reality, post it to Google, so the truth be known.

What brings this nostalgia to mind?
I went to the mall with Jen this weekend.

You see this is rather a big deal, a sort of once-a-year event because we’re not girly girls who giggle manically with an armloads of trendy clothes, eager to see what newest, tight clothing fad can make us look like two pigs in a sack fighting, so we venture this excursion as sort of an exercise in modern sociology. And, I guess, to actually shop . . . a little.

Rapid City’s Most Frightful Mall Attractions:

1.Kiosk People.
You know, those little stands they set up at the mall to sell you things you clearly do not need at triple the price you could get a similar item at K-Mart. The most offensive in the Rapid City mall is the booth trying to sell you some exotic Brazilian lotion product, (apparently only Brazilians know how to moisturize). The clerks clearly are starving and working only under commission because they yell at you louder than a traffic cop as you walk by. “Hey, hey, YOU ma’am, can I ask you a question? Ma’am. HEY! YOU!!!!” Damn it, I thought. I was doing everything I was supposed to, (1. avoiding all eye contact. 2. checking wrist watch as if running late to meet the state legislature. 3. keeping a 30 feet berth between said hawker and myself), yet she pounced on me anyway with more energy than a methed out midway worker at a county fair. “Can I ask you a question?????” she yelled thinking my Miracle Ear was turned off. What can you do? So I answered her so the whole mall might hear. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You may NOT ask me a question. I’m far too busy!!!!” I bellowed and ran off to my important imaginary meeting at the state capitol.

2. Mall Pizza.
Sets up a real vision, eh? Nothing spells y-u-m-m-y better than a pizza made four hours ago then set to rest under the kind of heating lamp my Dad used to use to keep baby hogs warm on the farm. You’d think I’d learn, but I don’t, and I’ve fallen for the “Weird Liquid Cheese and Chips” trap pre-made in a plastic tray many times at the gas station as well as the civic center and 7-11.

3. Shoe Shopping at Pay-less.
Doesn’t the title imply everything? Why pay MORE for shoes made of good quality like say, Birkenstocks, when you can buy something assembled in China and made out of fake leather that will fall apart before the year ends? Nevertheless, I found a cute pair of knock-off Rocket Dogs that were affordable and wanted to buy them. But I had the last size 9, the right shoe of a display pair on the shelf. The saleslady who reminded me of my mom, cheerfully bustled about trying to find the box where its left shoe would be stored, but apparently she never found the size 9’s mate and instead found a size 14 in its place. Well, I discovered two fascinating things about shoes from the Mother-Clerk. 1) According to Mother-Clerk, this is a common practice. People often have mismatched feet, say a size 14 left foot and a size 9 right foot, so they underhandedly will trade the shoes around in the boxes. She said this was common. Really? Who are these people with one furry Mammoth Bigfoot and one shrunken hoof? And 2) Sizes 9, 10 and 11 sell out right away, so that when there are sales, all that is left is sizes 2-8, which begs the question, why don’t manufacturers make MORE sizes of shoes and clothing that women really wear? Of course this will never happen, making fodder for my blood pressure to go up or seize altogether.

4.80’s Retro Pretzel Joint.
Reference #2. Of course there’s no point getting a pretzel that’s dipped in “butter,” (a.k.a., yellow-butter-flavored corn oil) unless you chase it with some of that “Weird Liquid Cheese,” to dunk it in. Again, you think I’d learn hours later cussing on the toilet, but no. I like to make the mistake over and over again into infinity.

5.Orange Julius (Caesar) Stand.
Why the “Julius”? Did Caesar make smoothees from his throne? This, I think, only exists in my mall and 80’s music videos set in malls starring Tiffany. I’m quite sure, no one under the age of, say, 45 would know what one is let alone what’s in them. Outside of Rapid City, the last time I saw one was in Fast Times at Ridgewood High. Or was that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


Happy Shopping.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolutionists or Why I Hate Working Out at the Gym

“Resolutionists” or Why I Hate the Gym in January

All right. I have to go to the gym, but I’m stalling right now. I don’t want to. I’ve not gone since the second week in December, but that’s not the reason I’m stalling under the guise of a blog, despite a deeply rooted fear of hoping on the scale after an infinity of snacks consumed New Year’s Eve and a five hour wine-guzzling session where I’d convinced myself that my XXL-sized “jug” was the last one on the planet and that copious amounts of cheese being consumed was OK because “It’s nutritious.”

I’m stalling because I hate the gym in January.
Despise. Detest. Why?
The Resolutionists come out of hiding and invade my gym faster than cockroaches scurrying across a second-rate fish monger’s counter.

Resolutionists, aka, January-Joiners—those who make drunken half-hearted resolutions to join a gym on New Year’s Eve, then temporarily invade your gym in droves only to drop out sometime after Valentine’s Day.

It’s not that I despise them for trying improve their lot. I admire anyone’s ability to say, run through a series of “squats” while proudly showing seven inches of pimply butt-crack. It gives a whole new meaning to the nickname, “Cracky,” and is infinitely entertaining to those of us who have camera/cell phones.

Top Signs that Resolutionists Have Invaded Your Gym:

1.Absence of an Ipod or at least a functional Walkman. All “regulars” at the gym know a few unbreakable rules. One of which is, make sure you’ve always got your Ipod on you. Always. And with the volume turned deafeningly high. Everyone knows that you’re NOT working out, unless you’re making unsavory noises and gasps that sound like you’re auditioning for a porn flick voice-over. Especially that last rep. A Resolutionist, however, will not only REFUSE to wear his Ipod, which would politely camouflage your grunts and groans of pain-ecstasy, but he’ll also violate another rule, which is stare at you while you’re grunting/sweating/cussing, a sin punishable by death. Eye contact at the gym is FORBIDDEN.

2.Excessive Make up and Jewelry. This one applies to the ladies (I hope). Who wears makeup to the gym? Only me. And that’s because one time as I was walking to the gym without makeup, my hair stuffed up into a Broncos baseball cap, I was mistaken for a male vagrant and called “Sir” by a ten year old. And for crying out loud, put the 4-carat diamond engagement ring back in your locker. No one wants to see what your successful, committed, fabulous, thoughtful boyfriend got you for Christmas when the rest of us got “slightly used/she’ll never know” re-gifts like CD’s without the plastic wrap, slightly burned scented candles, dog-eared college textbooks and embroidered Christmas towels.

3.Chatty Nancies. Nothing spells a new-timer more than a Chatty Nancy gabbing it up at the water cooler of the gym while you’re dying from dehydration and waiting in line. Or worse still, one who’s doing one of the greatest Gym Sins of all time, chatting it up and not working out on a machine while a Regular is waiting, foot-tapping and furious.

4.Palsies. Pals-ies are January Joiners who go together to work out. I’ve never understood this one. It takes TWICE as long to work out with a “pal” since you have to then share equipment together and swap recipes/football stats at the same time. Secondly, if you’re really working out, sweating/stinking, cussing, rolls of fat popping out in unfashionable areas, (see Rule #1), you shouldn’t be sharing this unflattering business with an alleged friend, or worse still, a Sig. O. I adore you, my friend, but I do NOT want to see your butt-crack or smell your underarms, or be reminded that you don’t like to shave, OK? Nor do I wish to have a stretch mark competition in the locker room. If you’re my friend, don’t come to the gym with me.

5.Suspiciously NEW looking Matching Workout Clothes. Leaving a price tag showing, is usually a tip off, as is the crease-marks from having just bought it folded on a shelf, on the way to the gym. Also, see rule number #2. What is this, an episode of Sex and the City? Seriously, who works out in color coordinated, $75 outfits and matching socks with pom-poms? Those who do should have their ass kicked, that’s who. Besides, it makes the rest of look bad who wear free Corporate Cup 5K Run t-shirts stolen from employee break rooms or ancient, stained rock concert T’s from college, preferably 80’s hair-bands i.e., Metallica. But if you’re wearing a Winger or Bon Jovi, you might want to update your wardrobe. My sister recently informed me that my fourteen-year old workout suit with the holes, high-water pants and chocolate stains made me look like a hillbilly. I proudly informed her I was a “Regular.” Therefore, my costume was my badge of honor. Personally, I feel the time to wash your gym clothes is either when you can’t remember the last time you took them home or when they stand straight up in your locker like they’ve been starched.

But, like I said, I’ll put up with The Resolutionists. They’ll all be gone in February anyway, thank god then I’ll enjoy the following eleven months until January-Joiner time begins--again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010



Well, it was time last night to go see my bi-annual movie this year before the Oscars, so I went to see Up In the Air, a great film, just as NPR predicted.

I only go to 1-2 “films” a year (can you tell I had film classes in college?). It’s not just that most movies suck. They’re either mellow-dramatic-romantic-comedies starring women who’ve never seen a size 12 outside of a Wal-Mart advertisement or they’re re-makes of old films that sucked the first time around. Nothing says groovier more than a re-make of Freaky Friday or The Stepford Wives.


1. Talkers. What’s with Chatty-Nancies, yapping? There’s places for yapping. They’re called bars, coffeehouses and church. Why is it some people CANNOT whisper? Does that require some sort of hidden skill? Do they talk out loud during church, too? “Did Pastor Johnson just say we were all going to hell?”

2. Cell phones. Last night, not only did one ring behind me at a dramatically crucial point in the film where you could have heard a pin drop, but fifteen minutes later the same oaf’s phone went off again. I proceeded to turn around and give my best grade school principal’s glare only to be met by a blank face shoving Raisinettes down his pie-gob.

3. Coughers. I’m sorry you have a cold, but if you have to cough every three and a half seconds and require an IV-drip you’re so sick, then why not stay home before you jerk me out of every crucial moment during the film while you cough up a enough phlegm to fill a popcorn bucket.

4. The Price of Snacks. Why is it that the SMALLEST bag of popcorn not only costs more than the movie ticket, but the same price as a mid-sized economy car? “Eight dollars and FIFTY cents for a small popcorn?” I gasped to the 15-year-old behind the counter. “Don’t you have a cheaper kids’ size or something?” The miscreant, pointed to the sign which announced a “Child’s Size Snack Deal.” It included a nifty cardboard tray for $9.50 which housed a small pop AND a bag of popcorn the size of a Dixie cup.

5. No Booze. I’ve heard a rumor that somewhere in Florida, there’s a theatre you can go to where they sell high-end snacks and booze. Paradise, eh? I think it’s just a fairy-tale, a snippet of urban legend, fantasy gone the way of the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.

6. Small Children. I’ve never understood this one and can remember a toddler screaming all the way through The Blair Witch Project when it first came out, which heightened my movie going experience to new dimensions. I remember marveling at exactly HOW an adult would think a toddler would find any kind of film a great way to spend an hour and forty minutes. Unless it’s a Disney film where every adult in attendance is miserable as Junior kicks the seat in front of him, bawls he has to go pee again, and dumps his Coke over in order to have it run down the concrete sloped floor and pool up against my purse. Why not leave the kids at Grandma’s?

7. Shameless Advertisements. Either I’m getting old, or was it only a few years ago that the only ad you’d find up on the screen was a Coke advertisement. Not anymore. Every ad campaign in the country has caught on to attach their wares in between movie trailers. Want to find a real estate agent? Go to the movies and watch the ads. Having back problems? Go to the movies and bring your notebook. My friend talked me into getting there thirty minutes early “to find a good seat,” only to put me through forty-five minutes of ads. What was more shocking than auto-insurance ads narrated by strange little lizards with bad British accents was the alarming amount of ads prompting youth to get up from their theatre seats and flee to the nearest military recruiter. Honestly, I counted four ads for the Air Force and at least a half dozen for the National Guard, each time thinking at first it was the beginning of a trailer for an action-adventure movie. I find this a bit perplexing. What exactly does military recruitment have to do with watching a movie? Furthermore, what 18 year old, is going to RACE out of his seat after watching Twilight and boogie to the recruiter’s office at midnight?

This my friends, is why I AVOID THE MOVIES. Thanks for listening. And next time your hand accidentally slips under the theatre seat as you’re taking off your coat and you feel something you assume is only an old wad of gum, remember it could be something far more vile. Such as a B-O-O-G, you get my drift.