Stranger Things

I must have the worst look on my face when doing the Couch-to-5K app thing (stuck in Week 4 – can’t run for 5 full minutes) because I get a lot of attention from strangers as I run/plod around Roosevelt Island. Over the last two weeks:

  1. I’m headed past the meditation steps towards the cherry blossom trees. A trim senior citizen in a magenta jumpsuit with matching sun visor power-walks towards me. We give each other a wide berth as we approach. She points at me with both hands and gives me two thumbs up as I pass.
  2. Since I go out around the same time each morning, I see others on the same schedule. Two women wearing cute outfits with coordinating masks walk together almost every day. One morning I nodded at them and got no response. The next time I see them, they squeal, “You got this! WOO!” and give me social-distance high fives as I pass.
  3. Yesterday a man walked his golden retriever by the lighthouse. He was on his phone paying me no mind but I made flirty-eyes at the dog as I passed – such a beauty! A little later, I see the man and dog walking towards me. As I trot up to the grassy part of the path (#socialdistancing), the man calls after me, “You’re doing great!”

I’ve had other fun moments with strangers this week. Mostly on twitter. Mostly with celebrities I admire, including my girl Alyssa!

The best was when I entered the Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch Literary Community a couple of days ago. Charli Mills herself commented on my blog! Other writers left nice comments about my entry on the CRLC website. “Welcome to the Ranch!” Joanne the Geek posted. Made my heart swell!

Kindness from strangers has made a difference. I’m glad for this reminder to act in kindness. Not just for those you love, but for those you don’t even know. And for yourself! Because you never know who may depend on the kindness of strangers. (Streetcar!)

Shield and Taylor (a 99-word short story)

I need a face shield.

Certainly, Ma’am. Will it be used for hiding? Protection? Disguise? Fear? Shame?

Hiding and disguise.

One of our most popular combinations. This suburban-camouflage balaclava is a best seller. Blend into any background whenever you can’t listen to the children for one more second. It comes with a flask for “mommy juice.”

It fits like a dream, but do you have anything for summer?

Here is our latest line of contouring makeup. All the rage with Gen-Z. ‘Look Carved From Marble.’

I prefer something less artistic.

I have a vintage catcher’s mask in the back…

END

I entered the Flash Fiction Challenge by Carrot Ranch Literary Community. I haven’t entered a contest in years! It feels really, really good to do something I said I would do. “A” activity for sure! Thanks to Jo Hawk The Writer for posting her entry on her blog – I’d never have found Carrot Ranch otherwise.

How are you doing with your coronavirus bucket list? Leave me a comment below or get in touch!

Big Bites of Reality

“What is the defining song of Generation X?” I texted my musician friend Brad.

I pictured him taking a hefty drag on a cigarette as ellipses danced on my screen.

“That’s a tough one,” he texted. “What defines us? Anger? Public Enemy’s Fight the Power. Apathy? Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana. Manic-pixie-wistful? Lisa Loeb’s Stay. Sexuality? Prince. Madonna.”

“Disillusionment?” I texted back. “That song by Talking Heads. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife.”

“And you may ask yourself well? How did I get here?” Brad finished. “Yeah that’s pretty good.”

“Nothing by Weird Al?” (We love Al, so this was a legit question.)

“He’s brilliant but not ironic. Speaking of, Isn’t It Ironic by Alanis might be perfect. Generation X loves irony.”

“Even if we don’t know what it means?”

“When the outcome is the opposite of the intent. And funny. You’re welcome.”

“Anyway,” I texted, chagrined, “I remember back in the day Generation X loved nostalgia. The boomers were big on remembering how great their youth was compared to current.”

“Our parents taught us to worship the past,” Brad replied. “The Big Chill. The Wonder Years. The Monkees. Happy Days. All testaments to themselves. So we did it when we entered our 20s. And we do it now. The Goldbergs. Stranger Things.”

“Schoolhouse Rock was a musical back in the 90s.”

“The Banana Splits. HR Pufnstuf. The Muppet Show. All that crap got new life because we copied the boomers. Ironically of course.”

“Of course.”

That afternoon Brad sent me a link. “Interplanet Janet! Found your perfect Generation X song. You’re welcome.”

The definitive Generation X cover.

Happy book birthday to APALA Award Winner Teresa Robeson!

It’s my dear friend Teresa’s book birthday, but YOU get the presents. Enter below to WIN THINGS!

I’m so proud of you, Teresa!

🎵Happy picture book birthday to me, happy picture book birthday to meeee🎶 and to celebrate, I’m having a giveaway! 🎂🎉 Enter at: https://…

Happy book birthday to me!

They like me! They sort of like me!

YOU GUYS!

After I blogged about Freddie and Alyssa answering a viewer question (my question!) I posted another question! Because I’m bold now.

The Freddie & Alyssa Show #82

Last night I listened to podcast #84. Check out the closed captions:

Just my luck I didn’t get a shout-out, but that’s okay! I’m thrilled they like my question. Check out their answers. Freddie’s is unexpectedly fantastic.

Since my goal to have an actual exchange with both of them, what’s my next move? Any and all suggestions welcome. Also, this isn’t stalking, right? I’m talking tweets or back-and-forth in YouTube. Comment below or get in touch.

Coronavirus-itis

My husband showed me an article in The Atlantic about COVID-19 and I saw myself in it: Americans are used to moving forward in the face of fear. We don’t let fear stop us from living our lives. In the wake of 9/11, it makes sense. This was how I was mentally dealing with Coronavirus: just keep going. This is no big deal. Everyone is overreacting. I wouldn’t even blog about it.

The big difference is what we are defying isn’t terrorism but a virus. A couple of friends told me I was being an asshole about COVID-19 and it turns out they were right. But now I understand where my assholery came from.

I’m anxious. Will I lose my new job? What about our theater friends who have lost their show and waiter/bartending jobs? How will I get to my elderly parents if something happens to them? How long until someone I know gets sick, or someone I love dies?

Channeling anxiety into productivity is a challenge. I pulled out my bucket list and picked a few things to work on for the foreseeable social distancing. It’s important to pick tasks I can achieve in the short term (learn to armpit-fart. I’m not kidding! My nephew can also make a knee-fart) and the long term (finish my short story collection) so I feel accomplished throughout. I also want variety in the tasks, not just fart-noises or writing, and not just passive activity like binge-watching. My categories are: try something, learn something, start something and share something.

Try something. Now that my brilliant plan to outsource my health is foiled, I have to face the music and deal with my food issues and fitness on my own. I’ve had this Couch-to-5K app hanging out on my phone for forever so I finally caved.
Day 1: Running isn’t so bad.
Day 2: I’m very jiggly in weird places. I don’t like this.
Day 4: “I HATE YOU, RUNNING APP!” I screamed at my phone during one of the “walk” parts.
Day 7: This is still miserable but at least I’m outside.
Day 9: I’m running for longer stretches. I begrudgingly admit this is, maybe, a little, not so bad.

Learn something. Friends have offered to teach me to play chess throughout my life but I never took them up on it beyond a lesson or two. I lived above Chess Forum in the Village for a few years and never went inside. My husband bought me a Simpsons chess set that we have played exactly once. So, I signed up for lessons on Chess.com which also has an app. Need an idea? How about learning to sing, tie a tie, stretch your hamstrings? YouTube’s got you! If you can splurge, try a Master Class or two. There are dozens available taught by the legends of their fields.

Start something. I started this blog! I research topics that interest me, I write what I choose, and I watch a lot of WordPress videos on YouTube about layout and design. Whatever you’ve dreamt about but could never do, I am rooting for you to turn this stressful coronavirus situation into something positive for yourself. I believe in you. The millennials know: you do you!

Share something. Honestly, I don’t have any idea of something I can do that’s shareable beyond the short stories I tweet. I’m incredibly excellent at pinball, real and virtual, but no one wants to watch clips of me kicking Zen Pinball‘s ass. We are starving for new content. What are you great at? What’s your stupid human trick? Can you fancy-pan-flip an omelette? Got a cool card trick? Maybe this guy will inspire us.

How about you? Let me know what you’ll be working on in the Comment section below, or send me a message.

Adventures in the twitter-verse

Once again, we are skipping COVID-19 (sung to Gen-X anthem Come On Eileen) for mindless, pointless prattle: interacting with medium-level celebrities on social media!

My husband does it all the time. He’s become twitter-friends with New York celebrities Roma Torre, Amy Freeze and Sean Allen Krill, to name a few. I, on the other hand, barely used twitter until December when I sought DAYS fans who had access to super-secret fancy spoilers, and then fell ass-backwards into an awesome #writingcommunity.

In my teeny, tiny corner of the internet, I’m getting bolder with social media. I think my shyness comes from my boomer parents who think everyone on the internet is the government trying to “get you.” (Get you how? For what? No one cares what you’re doing on yahoo mail, Mom.)

But first, a reminder that President Obama follows me on Twitter.

I’m as baffled as you are.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I pivoted from fear and tweeted about my new blog. I tagged a certain two millennials whose definitely to blame for all of this newfound boldness.

Only 1 like. I know, I know: pretty lame. But it’s the quality, not the quantity, amiright? (No. I’m not right. It’s the quantity. )


This is the second time Alyssa liked my tweet.
SHE’S CREATING A MONSTER!

Alyssa’s like is a gold star to me. I crave gold stars. My husband even bought me a gold star necklace so I’d always have one. Now I want more likes! More gold stars! MORE, DAMMIT! MORE!

In Episode 76 of The Freddie & Alyssa Show, they asked their listeners to post questions that they’d answer in future podcasts. I boldly went where no me has gone before: the comment section of YouTube.

In Episode 80, whose question was answered at 9:38?

Tweet! Tweet! Tweetle-deet!

They picked my question and talked about it! What do I win?!

Discovering new music is something I’ve struggled with since the disappearance of record stores as I’ve previously posted. Ever the dutiful student, I downloaded TikTok. (I haven’t played with it yet, but I downloaded it!)

Pandora is best at predicting music you’d like to hear, which creeps me out, but that’s my parents talking. No one is trying to “get me” with songs, Mom!

This is way more fun than I thought it would be. So, the next step in my newfound celebrity stalking… Should it be to get another question answered? To get a reply to a tweet? Get them to follow me back? Comment below or send me a message!

For the record, there’s another fabulous celebrity Freddie in my twitter-verse. The one who’s already tweeted me back twice.

If FPJr. can get past my horrible Fedtival typo, so can you.

A-B-C Easy As 1-2-3

I am definitely not Coronavirus-ing today. Instead, let’s do Chapter 8 Pivot Your Activity. Drop some knowledge, Alyssa and Freddie!

There are 3 kinds of activity that make your plans come to life. C activity, B activity and A activity.

C activity is research. Immersing yourself and learning as much as you can. Freddie uses baseball to illustrate: learning the rules, reading books, studying statistics, watching baseball on TV.

B activity is preparation. Buying a glove and bat, getting a group together to play at a park on the weekend.

A activity is action. Showing up at the park and playing baseball.

Freddie’s point is you can research and prepare ’til the cows come home, but you won’t know how to play baseball until you play baseball. His illustrates this further with his web series Addicts Anonymous.

He and his friends wrote the scripts, raised money, hired actors, got cameras, sweet-talked their way onto a college campus to film it and just did it, learning about marketing, fundraising, acting and directing along the way. Sure, they could have helped themselves a bit if they’d researched and prepared for some things in advance but the point is, the best teacher is experience.

My parents used to make elaborate plans to renovate our house. They would draw floor plans, argue over sofa styles, and have serious discussions about whether or not to add a bay window to the south side of the house. They made these sort of plans through their entire marriage. Once in high school I went to a friend’s house and was astounded to find his mother peeling wallpaper off the walls of their dining room. Mrs. Hymowitz was sick of it and was changing it. Right then and there. I was stunned. People actually made changes to their houses without months or years of design plans?

Mrs. H was all about A activity. Renovation plans were basically foreplay for my parents.

So, it’s no surprise that I hang out a lot in B and C activity. Especially when it comes to writing. I make schedules, I google stuff, I spend time following writers on twitter (#writingcommunity), I strategize how to query an agent… all before I have any completed writing to share, much less sell. For me, B and C activity help mask fear, which must be pivoted from!

So how do you get yourself to do A activity? Researching how won’t help – hey, that’s B activity (or maybe C activity?) Whatever, it’s not A activity!

Do your thing. Write a page. Submit your resume. Pick up the guitar. Run the Couch-to-5K app.

The only way to do A activity is to do it.