My “New” Bucket List

So, I was on Pinterest the other day, which incidentally is like Crack for people with OCD, (like me), and I saw a pin that would make a cool addition to my “Bucket List” board. But at that moment, it suddenly dawned on me that there are lots of other things that I should be aspiring to do rather than “Walking behind a waterfall.”

I have reached that time in my life, (somewhere between 39 and death), where I have finally learned to like myself, thick thighs and all.  Moreover, I have fully embraced the fact that while I should (and do) try to be a decent human being, I don’t have to actually impress anyone.  If they don’t like me just as I am, the chances are pretty much nonexistent that I’m going to change, so they might as well shove off.  Or shove something. So, isn’t it time that I did something with that? Thus, I give you … My New Bucket List.

Before I die, I would like to …

  1. Try on a bathing suit that’s more “Victoria’s Secret” than “Victorian England.”
  2. Take the last Tic Tac for myself.
  3. Wear whatever I feel like wearing to go out, even if I look like a clown.  With no bra.
  4. Find a reason to yell, “You go, girl!”
  5. Listen to my 80’s music at full blast in the car with the windows open. And sing.
  6. Quote lines from The Blues Brothers at a cocktail party when I can’t come up with small talk.
  7. Tell pretentious people that I’m a smut peddler when they ask me what I do.
  8. Go somewhere I want to, even if I don’t have anyone to go with. And not worry that I look like I have no friends. Or possibly a contagious disease.
  9. Dance like nobody is watching. Without injuring myself.
  10. Be confident enough not to fear rejection or failure.

Walking behind a waterfall would probably be cool too though.

Another Rewritten Scene from the New POA

Here’s another rewritten scene from the New POA. In the original is was all just Abby’s internal monologue. I like it much better as inter-character dialogue. Dana is on the autism spectrum by the way.

I touched base with Dana and Lena back at the office later that afternoon and told them everything. Dana tried to reach Trog, but he had become incommunicado. At six o’clock, with nothing else left to do, I got ready to go home.
“I’m leaving,” I announced to Lena, who was sitting at her desk.
“Don’t you think maybe we should stay and see if we can track down, Trog?” Dana asked, suddenly appearing in Lena’s doorway next to me.
“No, I don’t. He’ll contact you. He’s motivated enough. Besides, I have plans.”
“What kind of plans?” Dana asked with a smile.
“I’m picking up some Chinese and watching Ally McBeal,” I said with dignity.
“You wild woman!” Lena snorted.
“Hey, I may not be living life in the fast lane, but it’s a hell of a lot better than proofreading contracts in a freezing cold office. I finally have work/life balance.”
“I think that spending an evening at home sounds like a lot of fun,” Dana said enthusiastically. Dana was agreeing with me about having a fun social life. I must admit, that made me pause a little. Dana liked to do things like learn neuroscience for fun.
“Well, once in a while,” I clarified. “My life will get more exciting eventually, though. I have long-term plans too.”
“Like what?” Lena asked, sitting back and folding her arms.
“I want to travel. See the world!” I answered somewhat defiantly.
“Have you gone anywhere lately?” she asked, knowing the answer perfectly well.
“Yes!” I shot back and she lifted an eyebrow at me. “There was that family reunion, thing … in the Poconos.”
“How exotic,” she said dryly and then turned to Dana. “That was sarcasm.”
“I knew that,” Dana answered.
“Okay, well I may not have gone anywhere yet, but I will. When I have some money again.”
“I saw a deal for Atlantic City online,” Dana offered helpfully. “You get a free bus ride and a roll of quarters too!” Lena bit her lip trying not to laugh.
“I’m also developing some hobbies,” I broke in.
“Such as?” Lena asked, looking ever more amused.
“So far, not many,” I conceded. “But um … I bookmarked several articles on making your own soap. In case soap isn’t, you know, readily available.”
“You have a growing collection of empty wine bottles. That could be a hobby,” Dana chimed in, trying to stick up for me. I think.
“Yoga is kind of hobbyish,” I added, realizing how pathetic I sounded. “Yeah, okay, my life is pretty sad.” I walked into her office and plopped down in a chair.
“The fact is that we all need to get a life now that we finally have the time to do it,” Lena said. “None of us is trying very hard to get out and do things and meet new people. At this rate we’ll wind up becoming the Golden Girls someday.”
“I’m not really good at knowing what to say or do when I go out,” Dana said, looking a bit glum. “It’s very rare to find other people who like discussing subjects like the Higgs boson or the veracity of eye-witness accounts at Roswell.”
“We’ll help you, Agent Mulder,” Lena reassured her with a wink.
“Okay, point taken,” I replied, getting up and heading for the door again. “We should come up with some plan to improve our social lives, but not tonight. After a morning with Agnes, a lunchtime with Barry and an afternoon with Wright and Wong, I just want my moo shu chicken and my Ally McBeal.”

My Worlds Collide or I’m Coming Out!

I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna let my worlds collide. Fasten your seatbelts, kids!

April is a month where lots of people talk about autism. I know, I know, “We’re here to be amused, honey. What’s so funny about that?” The answer is, I am. I’m funny, (so I’m told). And I’m Autistic too. For reals! Surprise!

You may have heard that Autistic people don’t understand sarcasm, irony or satire.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I do, and some of my Autistic friends are pretty damned funny.  Oh yeah, we have friends too. So, don’t believe that one either.

This is how it went down, I was a kid who didn’t blend in, to say the least.  I didn’t have any friends back then, and I got picked on a lot too.  So, I used to make up stories in my head, with people I thought were nice, and who treated other people well, and were “weird,” but smart, like me.

People didn’t realize I was making up those stories in my head, because usually while I was doing it, I was just pacing around, mumbling to myself, or riding on a swing until someone cut it down and pried it from my six year-old tuchus. So, they thought I didn’t know how to do “pretend play” and that somebody should probably fix me. They stressed me out a lot, so I spent even more time in my head, but that was okay, because my stories got even better.

In high school, I learned that if I could make people laugh, they wouldn’t beat the crap out of me and call me names anymore.  So, I learned how to be a comedienne. I also learned how to blend in better, and soon everyone was patting themselves on the back because they figured that I wasn’t “broken” anymore.  They never realized how hard I had to work to pretend to be “normal” because my senses are very sensitive and I have to remember a lot of social rules that others know naturally.

College was pretty tough, because I can’t take notes, but law school was awesome because they teach you in a different way there.  That was when somebody finally did the right tests and figured out that I’m Autistic. To be honest, though, I didn’t do much with that information for a few years. There wasn’t really much information back then and I had no idea how to meet and connect with other Autistic people.

Then, my kids were born, and they were like me.  To my surprise, although I’m not sure why, some people thought that was a problem.  I have never considered it a problem, although I do realize that good support is an important thing to have.  So they have good support, but they are being raised to not feel like they are weird or broken.  And they are being raised with the belief that different is not less.

Because I decided to homeschool them, I couldn’t be a lawyer full-time anymore.  I still wanted to work though, and frankly, I needed the money.  (Good support can cost a lot). So, I decided to take those stories I have always made up in my head and write them down.

The people in my story worlds are still nice, and smart and a little weird.  And they are funny, and hopefully they make people feel good.  Maybe my stories even give people a place to escape like they always have for me. My first female main character, Gabrielle is very quirky and uncoordinated. She says awkward things, makes corny jokes and has no filter.  But she has a good heart and she cares about people. People seem to worry about her a lot, her parents, her husband, her friends … But that’s just because they love her.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about Gabrielle.

Although I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m Autistic from the people who read my sexy rom com books, I have never officially acknowledged it either.  In part, I didn’t want people to think I was somehow using it, for sympathy, for sales, for whatever. And in part, people still have a lot of misconceptions about Autistic people, so I worried that you might think I didn’t write my own books or something.  That’s finally starting to change, though.

So, I am officially “coming out!”  I am Neurodivergent and I am proud of my quirks!  I am in the process of rewriting Power of Attorney, which includes an openly Autistic character. I’m hoping that letting my worlds collide turns out to a be good choice and that this April, you’ll think about the fact that Autistic people may be more than you see in a lot of those ads for awareness.

Rewritten Scene from the New POA.

As I have announced, I am in the process of rewriting Power of Attorney based upon input from my readers.  It will be a full length novel, with much more development, tension, passion and emphasis on the relationship between Abby and Jacob.  Look for it in May. I am asking Amazon to just replace it for those who have already bought it.  Keep your fingers crossed that they’ll actually do it.  Below is an excerpt from the new and improved Power of Attorney.

***

The next day, we all had cases at the federal courthouse and so we decided to meet up for lunch. I rounded a corner, headed for the lobby when I encountered a mass of people. Seeing Dana and Lena in the crowd, I made my way over to them, noticing that everyone seemed to be gathered around a podium with a microphone.

“What’s going on here?” I asked, noting that the seal of the United States Attorney’s Office was hanging on the podium and that the press was amply represented.

“Press Conference,” Dana replied. “Word has it that the U.S. Attorney herself has something profound to impart to us.”

“Wow, Lynn Davis doesn’t descend from her sacred mount for just anything,” I noted with exaggerated awe, checking out the size of the crowd.

“She had better hurry up and do it,” Lena said with a growl, echoed by her stomach. “I get cranky when I’m hungry and I can’t be responsible for my actions.”

“Well, technically that would …” Dana began but Lena’s glare stopped her short. “… Be diminished capacity,” she concluded quickly.

“Any word from Trog?” I asked Dana with a laugh.

“Nothing yet,” she answered and started to say something else, but she was interrupted as a hush fell over the crowd. Brad Hughes, the press liaison for the U.S. Attorney’s office took the podium and made a few brief comments in a very solemn and serious sounding voice. I guess this wasn’t about the annual Court Holiday Party. He then went on to introduce his boss, who I noted, was not standing there with him. It figured that Lynn Davis would want to make an entrance.

“They forgot to play the theme from Rocky,” I joked and I watched the crowd separate like Moses parting the Red Sea as Lynn Davis came striding in looking as abundantly confident as usual.

She was young to be in the Top Job, probably only early-forties. She was very attractive in an “executioner” kind of way, with well-defined leg muscles that screamed “gym membership” and coal-colored hair cut into a sharp bob with pointy tips. She often wore black suits and Lena had ungenerously nicknamed her Bat Girl.

Rumor had it that her personality was as warm and fuzzy as her look, and that she was ruthlessly ambitious and obsessed with power, but that would describe plenty of people in positions of authority. There had also been other rumors though, the kind only repeated in hushed tones over too many gin and tonics at bar association events.

Some had apparently hinted that Davis had gotten her position by “questionable means,” whatever that meant, but I had never heard any details. Frankly, I suspected that those rumors only floated around because she was a woman, and a fairly young and good-looking woman at that. Obviously, she couldn’t just be, you know, intelligent, skilled or worthy of holding a man’s job.

My eyes did not linger on Bat Girl for long, though, because walking directly behind her, and with every bit as much confidence, was another familiar prosecutorial figure. Much to my annoyance, I felt a flutter in my tummy. I was a fully-grown woman, and a busy one too. I had no time for tummy flutters, especially not related to egotistical male prosecutors. I was no Nancy O’Brien, perky reporter, for cryin out loud.

“Check it out,” Lena whispered. “Bat Girl and Boy Wonder in the same room.” Lena had come up with “Boy Wonder” because Sachs, at thirty-two, was the youngest superstar federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office. I understood the nickname; I had to say though, that while Lynn Davis’ hair did make her look a little bat-like, he did not look like a boy. And by that, I also don’t mean that he looked like a girl. As impossible as it seemed, he was so much hotter in person.

The well-tailored navy suit that he was wearing fit him perfectly and hinted at the fact that he probably hit the gym too. And his eyes… hazel, they were hazel, and what you couldn’t see on TV, was that that they gleamed with intelligence. Uh oh, I was noticing eye gleam. That was a bad sign. Note to self, must find date soon. I would not become infatuated with Boy Wonder. I reminded myself that not only did I not even know the man, but he was also an egocentric prosecutor, whom my brother disliked, and my sister-in-law had slept with.

I pulled my gaze away and turned it on the crowd. Nancy was there, of course, looking like she was awaiting an audience with God. She wasn’t the only one though. You could see the impact that he had on all of the people around him, and not just females either; both men and women seemed transfixed in the presence of the almighty Sachs, their enraptured facial expressions and tense body language betraying them. I half expected a middle-aged woman in the second row to toss her panties at him, and the guy behind her looked like he might swoon. It dawned on me then that I didn’t want to look like that, and I stood up straighter and squared my shoulders, trying valiantly not to ogle.

I glanced over at Lena to see if she had noticed me eyeing Sachs up in a way that could get me arrested in some states, but her attention was fixed on the podium. My thoughts were interrupted at that moment as the U.S. Attorney began to speak.

“Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me,” Lynn Davis said.

“You’re blocking the only exit,” I mumbled distractedly and Lena bit her lip.

“It is with deep concern that I wish to report that a member of my staff, federal prosecutor Randall Greene, has gone missing.” A murmur passed through the crowd.

“Missing?” I mouthed to Dana and Lena.

“I got locked in a restroom once,” Dana whispered helpfully. “I wonder if they checked there.” I think she was serious. I could see Dana getting locked in a restroom.

“He was last seen leaving this building seventy-two hours ago,” Bat Girl went on.

“Probably not in the restroom,” I mumbled.

“If anyone has any information on Assistant U.S. Attorney Greene’s whereabouts, I ask that you share it with my office immediately. Anything you tell us will be held in the strictest confidence.”

“So it’s perfectly safe to confess it if you killed him. Just tell us where the body is hidden and we’ll let bygones be bygones,” I whispered and Lena elbowed me. I couldn’t help it; my whole family was like that. Sarcasm was in the Roth DNA.

“I have assigned Assistant U.S. Attorney, Jacob Sachs, to work with the FBI in this matter.” At her announcement, some of the groupies in the crowd looked like they might start to cheer. Brad Hughes actually got a little misty-eyed. Good grief. Yes, he’s a hot guy and a talented lawyer, but he didn’t ride into this lobby from Valhalla, folks.

Before she stepped away, she turned and gave Boy Wonder’s arm a friendly rub, very friendly. I suspected that it was more for the crowd’s benefit than his. It said, “Look at how warm and supportive I am of my prosecutors, especially the really sexy male ones. And if Randall Greene ends up floating in the Delaware River, I’ll rub this handsome man beside me here even more.”

Sachs gazed at her with deep gratitude. They were acting like characters in a Lifetime movie. I rolled my eyes as he took her place at the podium, leaned forward and gave the crowd a solemn, but determined look.

“I just want to add that my thoughts are with Randall’s family at this difficult time and I will do everything in my power to help find him,” he began.

“Right after this press conference and twenty interviews,” I whispered.

“The FBI is following up several leads,” he went on.

“He’s probably in Cabo with some chick,” Lena murmured cynically.

“You’re such a romantic,” I murmured back.

“We’re optimistic that Assistant U.S. Attorney Greene will be back with us soon.”

“Hopefully not in several packages,” Dana said somewhat quietly, but not quite quietly enough. That was a Dana quirk too. She didn’t have great volume control.

I saw Boy Wonder’s eyes travel over to where we were standing. They quickly passed Dana and then lingered on me. Hey! It wasn’t me that time! Figures I would get busted not for my own smart mouth, but for someone else’s. To my chagrin, I felt heat spread across my chest and up my neck into my cheeks.

“In the meanwhile, I will also personally take over Randall’s cases, so that justice will progress as scheduled.”

“Glory, Glory Hallelujah,” I sang quietly and Dana snorted, covering it poorly with a fake cough. She was so smooth. Sachs’ gaze returned to me once more, and there was a gleam in his eye again, but this time, it looked a little different.

“Are there any questions?” he asked with a somewhat insincere looking smile. Hands shot up all around him, but he didn’t turn toward them. Instead, he held my gaze. Neither one of us would look away. I could imagine that ominous whistle sound they always play before gunfights in Westerns. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that Nancy was becoming so desperate to be noticed that she had practically climbed over her cameraman, but Sachs was still looking at me. Not really wanting to chance making Lena wait too long for lunch, I decided to oblige him. I smiled back and raised my hand.

“Yes?” he asked, with an undercurrent of sarcasm.

“Have you checked the restrooms?” I asked politely.

Welcome to Hell : Perimenopause and You

Let me start on a positive note; there are plenty of fantastic things about being a woman your forties.  We grow more confident, more accomplished and wiser over the years. We learn to take care of ourselves a bit, instead of only taking care of others. Many women, myself included, feel sexier than ever before.  I am, in many ways, better in my forties than I ever have been.  Take a moment …

Okay, now let’s talk about perimenopause.

Little did I suspect, that one day I would be slathering on hormone cream in the desperate hope that I could survive a trip to Walmart without picking up a prison sentence. That I could restrain myself from hiring a bounty hunter to track down a significant other with a dead cell phone battery. And that I could avoid having an emotional breakdown should I not be able to find a matching pair socks. (Again! Where in the hell do they go?!)

Is it a secret or something? Why is it that nobody tells you that you will have the pleasure of revisiting your adolescent years in your mid-forties, sans a subscription to Seventeen magazine and perky boobs? Why doesn’t spellcheck even recognize the word “perimenopause?” Is it merely a coincidence that perimenopause is never mentioned in high school Health classes across America? Maybe it’s an oversight. But maybe not.

Maybe nobody warns you because it’s too entertaining to watch a female CEO make a midnight DevilDog run, or too much fun to watch a member of the Women’s Bar Association break down into sobs because her name is spelled wrong on junk mail. (I don’t know why! Neither does she!) Okay, so maybe it’s not a conspiracy, but it’s still weirdly inexplicable. Kind of like Roswell, but that’s another blog post.

So, I’m changing that.  I’m breaking the silence.  I’m spreading the word!  Get ready, my  sisters! Spend your thirties endearing yourself to your loved ones.  That way, when you someday threaten to put a gearshift in an anatomically questionable place, for not returning the driver’s seat to where they found it after borrowing your car, they’ll think twice before having you committed. Pause for a moment, whenever you can during those precious, but fleeting years, to take a deep cleansing breath and enjoy the peace of emotional stability. Because it won’t last. Oh, and take lots of pictures of your perky boobs. Because they won’t last either.  I’m sorry, honey, but it’s better that you know.

In sum, there are many great things about being a woman in your fourth decade of life.  Estrogen and Progesterone are not among them.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go purchase some DevilDogs.

Some Tuchises Are Meant To Be Seen (and Other Life Lessons)

I’ll confess that there are moments when my life feels like an R-Rated episode of I Love Lucy.  Just such a moment occurred on New Year’s day, when I brought my MacBook into an Apple Store in a busy mall for repairs.  Everything was going smoothly until the Genius Bar guy asked me to turn it on. I turned it on, all right.

You know how when you boot up your computer various applications open depending on your settings? Trust me, they do.  And one of those applications is your photos.  And if the last photo you took is a picture of you, dressed only in your panties, contorting your body to check out the size of your butt in the mirror, it could lead to much awkwardness.

It was one of those experiences when time seems to slow down, and everything moves in slow motion. My finger descends to the start button and an image of a huge, marshmallow-like tushie fills the screen.  I react by frantically pushing every key I can find, including some on the guy next to me’s computer, while the Apple Genius Bar guy keeps repeating over and over, “Scroll down! Scroll down!” Fellow shoppers turn to face us questioningly, and then sounds of shock travel through the crowd. I slap my hand down over the offending image, in a desperate, low-tech attempt at modesty, while I start mentally calculating how much the therapy for this one is going to cost. And if I can get a group rate. As an aside, Apple Stores are crowded on New Year’s day.

The thing is, as embarrassing as that experience was, and believe me, it was embarrassing, I’m still alive, and now I’m laughing about it. Actually, I’m fairly sure that many people are laughing about it, especially the other Apple Genius Bar employees. There was a point in my life, however, when I wouldn’t have laughed. Back then, I tried very hard to be as careful and as cautious as I could be, so that I could avoid seeming uncool at all costs.  The younger me would have anticipated the possibility that I could become the Larry Flint of the Apple Store, and would have changed the damned settings.  I spent a whole lot of time worrying about how I looked, and how I acted, and what people thought of me … too much time.

The thing is, no matter how careful I was, stuff like this still happened to me.  If I had remembered to ditch that picture, I would, undoubtedly, have tucked my skirt into my pantyhose instead. You see, I am now convinced that I was put on this Earth to write romantic comedy, and all of this is just material that God is generously giving me to use, so that I can make people laugh. Frankly, I much prefer that theory to the possibility that I’m just a big dork.

My point, and I do have one, is that whatever makes you, you is special. Don’t spend your life trying to be someone else, or before you know it, life will pass you by.  Whatever your own quirks may be, just embrace them, honey.  Let your weird light shine! Some tuchises are meant to be seen. Happy New Year!

Train Etiquette

Okay, that’s it! If you are planning to take a train in any major city, especially the one I live in, there are some basic rules you need to obey.

  1. Deodorant is not optional!
  2. Phone calls should be not audible twenty seats away.  Nobody cares that your boyfriend is banging Tawanna!
  3. Turn down the freaking volume on your iPod! If I can hear your entire Taylor Swift playlist, you are missing the point of ear buds.
  4. You only get one seat! Man spread during shorts season should be a felony.
  5. If your bag didn’t buy a ticket, it doesn’t get a seat of it’s own.
  6. Sitting directly next to a person when there are ten empty seats around her is creepy.
  7. Vomiting on a crowded subway is an act of aggression.
  8. There is no need to get up before the train actually stops, and when it does, you are  likely going to ….. crash into that guy who was unlucky enough to have to sit by the door. Sigh.
  9. You don’t need to push your way onboard. The train is very unlikely to leave while passengers are still getting off.
  10. Read the map and train schedule before you embark. It’s not a random kind of thing.

AND … here’s my stop.  Have a nice day.