Coming home from a vacation is a lot like waking up with a hangover. You know you had a good time before the headache started, but you’re now wondering if the fun before the headache was worth the headache to begin with. For me, the proverbial pain in the ass would be the fact that I am now in the midst of unpacking three suitcases and three carry-ons between me, The Husband, and Buttercup and our two weeks worth of shit we mostly didn’t use because over-packing is, in fact, a highly undervalued gift in today’s society. When the husband starts bitching about running low on supplies in  our zombie apocalypse bunker after the Mayan deadline hits, that’s when I whip out the suitcase I packed when he wasn’t looking and voila! Look who brought the kitchen sink!

The kicker? I’ll be sorting the clean clothes from the dirty ones mostly by smelling them because it’s just easier that way while I comb the internet for rental homes in our area that don’t suck and that we can afford because our current landlord is an asshole  who doesn’t know that I blog while I also finalize plans for that conference in New York that everyone seems to be going to. And by that conference, I mean BlogHer. And by finalize plans, I mean look for a freaking plane ticket because I was too busy making sure both my mother and mother-in-law were equally pissed off at me for not spending every waking moment with them while we were in Detroit  to bother with booking a flight.

The plus side is that The Husband and I were actually on speaking terms when we boarded the plane back to Arizona because we stuck to our plan of making time for ourselves and friends no matter who got pissed off at us. The bad is that I’m pretty sure my credit card is going to cry when I finally get around to buying that ticket. It’s already inconsolable because what I just paid the dog sitter for Finnigan, Fezzik, and Lola for 14 days of Hilton-esque pampering could have funded an all inclusive trip to a secluded Tahitian island.

That last part is only funny because it’s true.

And while I should be doing plane ticket hunting right now, I decided to instead share my top six (because I thought I only listed five) list of things not to do while prepping for BlogHer 2012 based on my own experiences at BlogHer 2010. It’s okay, you can thank me later.

6. Don’t underestimate the power of a cheap pair of flip flops or a decent pair of ballet flats.

Unless you’re Beyonce and went straight from crawling to stilettos or my friend Heather who lives in hooker heels but breaks multiple toes only when walking barefoot in her own apartment, you’re going to need relief from that cute pair of heels you now hate because every step is the very definition of pain.

5. Don’t over think your wardrobe.

Or your shoes. Trust me on this. I spent way too much money on new clothes and pretty things for BlogHer 10 and not enough time with my daughter or The Husband or my dogs before I got on that plane. Also? It really doesn’t matter what parties you are invited to when deciding upon that to pack because the person who raises a brow and sticks their nose up in the air because you wore that to this event is an asshole and you didn’t need them to tell you how awesome you already are, anyway.

4. Speaking of parties, don’t stress about the parties you haven’t been invited to.

This is not high school, BlogHer is not the homecoming dance, and you don’t need to be measuring your self-worth by whether or not you are popular enough to have received invites to VIP parties. Because why? Because you’re awesome, remember? And also because there are three official BlogHer parties happening that don’t require popularity votes or sign ups or being present for twitter parties or sacrificing three chickens and a candy bar  to the Internet. Feel better now? Good. Cuz I haven’t signed up for shit, either.

3. Don’t expect time to stand still.

In other words, your List of People I Have to Meet may be three miles long and single-spaced, but BlogHer is a weekend in New York and chances are, you are going to miss meeting up with many of those you would have loved to meet up with in real life. Instead of stressing, focus on getting the most you can out of the conference, cherish the time you spend solidifying friendships forged in retweets and blog comments, and let the rest just go.

2. Don’t smoke. Seriously.

I quit a long time ago but maybe not before BlogHer 10 and a pack cost me about $15 back then. Now? You’ll probably have to provide a minimum of two references and trade your first born for a pack of cigarettes in The Big Apple because inflation sucks and smoking is bad for you anyway so you are so totally welcome for my consideration of your wallet and its feelings on being empty.

1. Don’t forget to bring an empty suitcase.

And yes, I’m totally serious. The swag is serious at BlogHer and two years ago I found myself standing in the hotel lobby handing out the water bottles and product samples that made my suitcase too heavy out to very confused and surprised strangers who probably thought I was the craziest Avon lady ever. Believe me when I say you don’t need to bring your entire wardrobe to New York City and 14 pairs of shoes are totally unnecessary for three days no matter what the voices in your head are trying to tell you. While you pack it’s probably best to follow this simple method for ensuring a hassle free airport experience on your way back home:

* Pack your suitcase as you would like and without censoring yourself.

* Tell your husband to remove 75% of what you shoved into the suitcase while muttering about the crazy that thinks three pairs of jeans are necessary because they are all different shades, asshole. You should now have plenty of room for all of your swag and still have more outfit options than you are actually going to go through in NYC. Your welcome.

* Make sure your husband locks your suitcase and keeps the combination on the padlock to himself until after your bags have been checked at the airport. Suggest he wear a cup to protect himself and his manhood from your wrath. It’s all for the best, really.

* Text husband while at airport waiting to come home. Suggest he put cup back on as it is inevitable he will say something kick-worthy at least once while you unpack eleventy billion product samples you will never use but will always cherish for the simple reason that you were smart enough to pack light and were able to get all this shit home to begin with.

* Celebrate. Because you just did the impossible.

I’m sure there’s plenty more to share on the what not to do front that I’ll remember as the conference draws closer. For now, I’ll let the conversation continue in the comments while I don’t procrastinate on buying that plane ticket to NYC. See ya in the Big Apple.

 
This would be the BEFORE picture

This would be the BEFORE picture

I got high just one time while in college and that was only after I called The Pre-Husband to make sure he wouldn’t hate me in the morning for satisfying my curiosity. He laughed at me and told me I was adorable for asking permission to smoke pot and I was all I’m not asking for permission you chauvinistic asshole. I make my own decisions. I just wanted to make sure you happened to be okay with this one. Totally not the same thing. That’s when The Pre-Husband laughed again because, he said, what I just said was pretty much the very definition of asking for permission and that he thought it was sweet I was so concerned about what he thought of me and my partaking of illegal substances.

You still didn’t answer my question, I said.

Go ahead, he told me. Just don’t drive anywhere.

After he hung up and before I took my first hit, I admit that the thought of calling my mother and running this whole me and this joint thing by her before I fully committed to that evening’s activities. And then maybe my best friend. That’s right about the time I realized that concern over What Other People Think accounts for entirely too much of the time I devote to contemplating life and Other Important Things (like what I was going to wear tomorrow), and I inhaled. Depending on what your definition of is actually is, anyway.

The moral of this story, kids, is that while Drugs Are Bad Bad Bad and I am Not Condoning or Promoting Illegal Behaviors Because That Would Just Be Irresponsible, I am condoning and promoting freeing ourselves from putting too much stock in Other People’s Opinions because that whole thought process just takes too much work.

Take, for instance, a recent instant message from BFF Mel.

Want to get our noses pierced when you come to visit?

HELL YES my instant response. We’ve been going back and forth on the idea of a teeny little stud for about five years now but have never even gone as far as pricing the procedure or looking up where to go to get it done. Excuses have always been easy to come by and with her work schedule and my constant over-thinking about the riot act my aunts would read me for putting another hole in my head, it only made sense to go for it during our trip back to Detroit. She had a day off and I had finally reached the point of not really giving a shit who might get pissy if I decided to have some fun. So the timing was right.

We landed in Detroit last Tuesday and met up with BFF Mel and her husband, Bob on Friday. After BFF Mel scared herself shitless by looking up YouTube videos on nasal piercings, Bob and The Husband took the initiative, started the car, and dropped us of at Eternal Tattoos. We had an appointment with a woman named Sam.

 

Sam is the piercing professional at Eternal Tattoos in EastPointe, Michigan. And when I say professional I mean it because not everyone can answer questions on the phone about piercing penises while immature assholes like me try not to laugh and get all superior because I'm subjecting myself to public scrutiny with a piercing I can't hide in my pants, which obviously makes my nose stud more badass than that extra hole in your nethers.

BFF Mel has to go first or she’s going to back out because she’s an idiot and YouTube is evil. That’s what I said first and then maybe I introduced myself.

Sam nodded. Bff Mel giggled because she does that a lot. And I took pictures while Sam talked BFF Mel out of the clear crystal stud she had come in for and into a light purple that Sam was sure would look fabulous on her. And then it was done and BFF Mel looked fabulous and Sam breathlessly awaited her client’s reaction and BFF Mel scrunched up her nose and looked into the mirror and said I dunno…what do you think? It looks bigger and more noticeable than I had imagined.

 

Seriously...does it look okay?

You look incredible I said. And that purple is perfect I said. And now it’s my turn so move so I can sit down I said.

Sam nodded. BFF Mel giggled because she does that a lot. And then she took pictures while Sam talked me out of the clear crystal stud I had come in for and into a pretty blue that Sam was sure would look fabulous on me. And then it was done and BFF Mel said I looked fabulous and Sam breathlessly awaited my response and I scrunched up my nose and looked into the mirror and said I dunno…what do you think?It looks bigger and more noticeable than I had imagined. But yours looks perfect I told BFF Mel.

Because this nose stud trumps your penis piercing any day of the week, y'all, because I can't hide my nose in my pants if I get shy after the new hardware has been inserted. Also? I did this the day before a Mexican wedding and that, my friends, takes some serious juevos.

I think yours looks perfect, she told me. I’m just not so sure about mine.

So I showed her the photos I had taken and pointed out that what she was looking at now was what other people would see.

That looks good, she said, a smile lighting up her whole face. Here, lo0k at these of you.

So I looked and I saw what other people would see when they saw me and that was enough because I only needed to see myself through Other People’s Eyes for just a moment to realize I look beautiful when I don’t give a shit what other people think.

Yeah, I said smiling. That does look good. And we left with our aftercare sheets, giggling and feeling very badass, indeed.

 

 

I’m having a pretty shitty Writerly Ego day. Actually, it’s kind of been a shitty Writerly Ego month, to be perfectly honest. And when I’ve shared this little emotional nugget with the BFF and The Husband, I’ve received a raised eyebrow and a “YOU HAVE A FUCKING AGENT” in response to my pity party. I get where it’s coming from. I am in a position a lot of writers would kill for. I have a wonderful agent who thinks me and my writing are worth something and deserve a place on the shelves at Barnes & Noble next to writers I admire like Jenny Lawson Jill SmoklerRobin O’BryantAnna Lefler and Heather Armstrong.

It seems, however, that the platform I am currently standing on may not big enough to get there. Or maybe it just feels like that because I’m a writer and us artistic types are moody and overly emotional and maybe I just need a vodka-flavored cookie. Because really? I’m pretty proud of my little platform. I bust my ass for free because writing is who I am and what I do and the writing part is actually more important than getting paid part…for my sanity, at least. The bills sitting on my desk waiting to be paid, however, would rather I stop trying to stay Not Crazy and just get a fucking job that probably wouldn’t leave me the time to write for the awesome sites I contribute to.

I love sharing the funny on An Army of Ermas and Funny Not Slutty. Getting a spot on best-selling author Lissa Rankin’s Owning Pink site is something I will forever be proud of. I’ve been published on Hippocampus Magazine and almost fell over when StoryBleed accepted the same piece for publication on their site. And then what I’ve got going on over here on this little ol’ blog o’ mine. I’m working on getting my name out there and my writing on more outlets, but these things take time. And Platforms don’t build themselves overnight.

I’m by no means in the same stratosphere as the likes of Dooce or The Bloggess or Scary Mommy and that’s okay with me. I’m not trying to be them. Just me. And hopefully the Me that I Am will one day be enough.

Maybe this sounds like a Poor Me post, but I don’t mean it to. Instead, I wanted to let other aspiring writers out there know that the days of doubting yourself don’t end the moment you sign that contract with your dream agent. And, I’m sure my published writer friends will tell me that they sure as hell don’t end when a book deal is offered or the day their books were released or even the day they got their first glowing review. Because once someone Other Than You believes in your work, it’s not just your ego riding on how many readers connect with that essay you got placed in that literary magazine that you love or how many hits per month your blog is getting or how much better you feel just for having taken the jumbled words out of your head and making some sense of them in a new piece you just started.

Every level of success reached is both a validation of our talents and a new reason to Freak the Fuck out, but it’s a lesson in the writing life that I seem to keep having to be reminded of. Three months ago I was still waiting for the Moment All of My Dreams Would Come True and then the world turned upside down when they did because I signed with my agent. That singular moment took two years to make a reality. And you would be right of you guessed that the Freaking Out commenced after the shiny newness of my situation sunk in. It’s not just me and my ego on the table anymore. It’s me and my ego and my agent’s time and effort and enthusiasm and Belief in What I Am and Have Yet to Become.

But if I think back, I probably went through the same little Self-Doubt Fest when I was accepted onto my college newspaper’s staff and when I saw my first byline and when I was assigned to cover my first murder case at the city newspaper that hired me right out of college. And then again when I left the newspapers to freelance and when I started this blog and when I woke up this morning and my little girl told me that I’m the best mother in the world.

So maybe shitty Writerly Ego days are just part of the process and part of what makes us who — and what — we are. It’s our literary equivalent of the trap women set for men when we ask if This Dress Makes Us Look Fat because we really only need to be reminded that in their eyes we are beautiful no matter what how that dress fits us. My platform is what it is. My ass? Probably looks horrible in that dress. But it’s okay.

Because tomorrow I’m still going to write something. And someone is going to read it.

 

 

I didn’t realize I missed smoking cigarettes until I found myself waiting for my husband to leave for work this afternoon. I had a bag of food hiding in the back of the Yukon with taboo things like Reese’s Pieces and Cheeze-Its for me to bury my feelings with once the coast was clear.

But it’s not completely. Nick Jr. is on and I can say with absolute confidence that the coast is definitely preoccupied. At least I hope she is.

I’m 34 going on the fifteen-year-old in my head. I may call myself a recovered bulimic and, more amazingly, may actually believe it more often than not, but the truth is I’m more of a non-practicing bulimic than anything else. That, my friends, pretty much leaves me with nothing else to describe myself as but a binge eater.

Or a binge eater who only thinks about throwing up.

No, wait. I’d be more accurate if I called myself a Binge Eater who Obsessively Works Out, Avoids All Processed Foods and Sugars, and Puts on a Great Show for the Public for Weeks On End Before Secretly Falling Apart Inside of my Head and Diving Head First into a Pool of Self-Loathing and Chocolate in a Misguided Attempt to Make Myself Feel Better….Who Only Thinks About Throwing Up.

Yeah…

That’s exactly it.

Funny how I don’t see that listed as a condition in any medical journals. Also? It would probably look awesome on a T-shirt.

I was fine until I stepped on the scale yesterday at the doctor’s office. I was there to discuss my need for a higher dose of anti-depressants and what I thought was just a bad habit but is actually an OCD condition called dermatillomania because normal is the new boring, and of course I had to step on the scale before it was time to get down to business. I won’t say what the number was because Ill just trigger myself again, but I will tell you that after giving up (until today, that is) all grains, all forms of sugar including maple syrup and honey, all gluten, soy, and dairy (the last one is allergy-related) I’m down one pound and — even more depressingly — am just nine under what I was the day I gave birth 4.5 years ago.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should be smaller and happier and thinner and more confident and smaller. And happier. I’ve been working out (until a few weeks ago) daily, eating only fresh fruits and vegetables and quality meats and juicing so much spinach I may need to get myself a girlfriend named Olive. Instead of listening to the countless media messages that tell me I should be disappearing before my very eyes, my body is instead working hard to prove it is an exception to the rule. There are doctors and unexplained weight gain and and hair loss and tests for various autoimmune diseases and lifestyle changes (that don’t normally include Cheeze-Its) and more waiting and wondering and woe is me.

Sometimes I’m able to convince myself that it’s all about health and not the number on the scale and that health is more important than weight and that I need to concentrate on how good I feel and not how I look when I get off of the elliptical.

And then I see the number that isn’t supposed to matter and am reminded that it does indeed when it’s not moving in the direction in which I had hoped. It matters much more than it should.

Had I not quit smoking, I’d have lit up and celebrated the fact that I wasn’t binging. I would have not distracted my daughter with television so that I could eat the feelings I am not able to process until the new medication takes my brain to a happy(er) place. I would not be just thinking about throwing up.

Instead, I’d be out in the backyard on the patio, the sounds of Nick Jr. carrying through the glass door, as I smoked away my anxieties and smiled smugly about being stronger than my own mind.

 

“Embrace rejection! Wink at it, laugh, maybe bake a rejection pie. You’ll get there. Why not have fun along the way?” –Agent Michelle Humphrey of the Martha Kaplan Agency as quoted in the October edition of Writer’s Digest.

I couldn’t have read this little piece of genius on a more perfect day. There I was, minding my own business on twitter, checking email, and working on edits when two (that’s right, T-W-O) rejections came in, not five minutes apart.

To tell you the truth, the second one didn’t even faze me. My eyes were still adjusting to the fact that I had struck out again from the first email.

I blinked, sighed, cursed my writer’s ego for having the audacity to think that a perfect stranger would love my words, and then sighed again, straightened my back, puffed out my chest, and said, “Screw it. On to the next.”

Because really, there’s no where else to go but up if I plan on getting anywhere. But that’s easy to say now, of course. When the next response comes floating in, I’ll be a bundle of nerves as a gather up the courage to actually open the email, and then holding my breath while I wait for the next batch of courage to be gathered up before I can actually open my eyes. And then…

Well…

It’s either a happy dance or a rejection pie. Or maybe rejection shoes? Or perhaps a pair of rejection earrings?

I asked The Husband today what he thought I could treat myself with every rejection I face and overcome; something that would make me smile, laugh, and a little bit giddy. He automatically suggested going out for a drink with a friend and getting whatever girly drink comes in those big ol’ take-me-home glasses so I could start my own collection. Then he stopped, looked at me, and said maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. After all, I really don’t have time to join AA.

“But I can’t bake a rejection pie!” I wailed. “I wrote a book about my ass being too big. Baking a pie is really kind of counter-productive, considering I’m only on number 8 of what could be an incredibly long line of doors slammed in my face. Think of the calories!”

“A glass of wine then? One for every rejection?”

I just looked at him. “Really? I’m trying to find something I don’t usually do on a regular basis.”

“I thought we had ruled out AA meetings,” he countered.

“Right…what about shoes? I could buy a pair for every…”

“No.” He didn’t even let me finish the sentence. And honestly, that hurt.

“I could get a new book for the nook, maybe?”

He laughed. “Like you’ll have time to read that many.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

“Um, I didn’t mean…”

This time I cut him off.  ” Whatever. How about a new silver charm for my pandora bracelet? I kinda like that idea.”

“That could be a lot of charms…”

“Did you forget to turn your filter on this morning?”

His eyes twinkled and the corners of his lips twitched for just a moment before he regained control and he was able to speak. “I just meant, maybe you can think of something a bit more affordable? You’re the one who said this wasn’t going to be easy.”

And he’s right. I am the one that said that. Which means me thinking I can buy a $25 charm for every rejection means I need a job to support that Rejection Celebration habit I’m trying to start.

So I need ideas, peeples. Something fun that won’t break the bank. And I’m fully expecting my comments to explode on this post because I know I am not the only person in the world looking for a pick-me-up when I get another no from another agent. Ideas, peeples…Do you celebrate your rejections? What’s your guilty pleasure?

*Update: The Husband said ponies are out of the question.

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