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My interests are varied and I'm likely to write anything from funny to poignant to informational, so my blogs are organized by topic. Just choose your favorite topic on the left. I'd love to hear from you in the comments section or go to Contact and email me privately if you like. Thanks for coming by!page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
My Most Embarrassing Moment
In my novel, Not Dreaming of You, Kiki must answer some standard questions for the dating service video. One of them is "What was your most embarrassing moment?"
Truth be told, I've had a lot of embarrassing moments in my life. I spent many years giving presentations and marketing trainings, and teaching classes. When you are in front of people that much, sooner or later, something's bound to happen.
However, whenever I think of my most embarrassing moment, my memory shoots straight back to something I did when I was living with my roommates Francia and Lizette in college.
Francia had met a guy--let's call him John--who was a lawyer. He came by one night to pick her up for a date. I spoke to him for several minutes while he was waiting for her and they left.
The next afternoon, the phone rang and I answered it.
"Hi Nina," I recognized John's voice. "Is F-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f Francia there?" he asked.
Wow, this guy sounded fun. He was already messing with me.
"Who-who-who-who-whom may I say is calling?" I replied as Francia walked into the kitchen.
I watched as the oddest look came over her face.
"John," he replied dryly.
Francia's mouth was open and her eyes were wider than usual. She looked...shocked?
I covered the phone. "John doesn't stutter does he?" I asked pleadingly. Her eyes got even wider. She nodded.
"Oh, no! I just stuttered back at him!"
This confirmed her obvious fears, so Francia did the same thing she'd done when we watched the scary part of the horror movie Texas Chain Saw Massacre III.
She burst out laughing.
I was horrified. I'd never been cruel to anyone with a handicap before. The phone suddenly became a hot potato I wanted to be rid of. I held it out to Francia but she waved me off. She had totally lost control of herself and was doubled over with a case of the incurable giggles, holding her hand over her mouth while she tried not to laugh out loud. I'd had a friend in high school who'd told me about getting the stress giggles at her piano teacher's funeral, but this was worse to me because I was there and couldn't get rid of the phone, which was burning a guilty hole in my hand.
I don't know how long it took for Francia to pull herself together, but it seemed like forever. Finally, she took the receiver, and I left the kitchen--mortified--and sat on the couch with a stomach ache.
When Francia finally hung up, I said, "Does he really stutter? But he's a lawyer..."
She explained that he only stuttered occasionally and he wasn't a trial lawyer.
"Please, please warn me if he's coming here again," I begged. "I can't face him. I have to hide upstairs in my room."
She didn't, and a few days later, her sister let John in while I was trapped in the bottom floor of our townhouse apartment. Generally, I'm not a good hostess, but I remember offering to get him all knids of things while he waited for Francia, from a Coke to the kitchen sink.
Strangely enough, the embarrassing story Kiki tells in her dating video in Not Dreaming of You was also inspired by Francia and her sister Lizette. They told me about a friend of theirs who'd embarrassed herself while they were all on a road trip with a car full of people. I changed the situation slightly, but the basic incident is the same.
It doesn't seem to matter how many embarrassing things have happened to me in the last 20 years. I still can't believe I made fun of a stutterer, right in his ear.
Anyone else willing to fess up about their most embarrassing moments? Come on. It can't be worse than mine...can it?
3/26/2011 10:54:15 AM
My Husband--Stalker Bait?
As most of you have figured out, life is a trade off. I knew when I married my husband a couple of years ago that I was trading in any chance I had of being the star of the show in the future--at least when he was around.
I'd always had this dual personality. On one hand, I'm a hermit writer type. On the other, I loved performing or speaking in front of a crowd for many years, despite terrible stage fright before a performance or presentation.
Luckily, by the time I started seeing my husband, I'd put much of the "performing" away and was absorbed in fiction writing. However, I was still often remembered by waiters, clerks, and bank tellers--mostly because I'd create inside jokes with them and make them laugh.
Then Abel came along and totally stole the show. No matter how many times we'd walk into our favorite busy resaurant, the wait staff would look past me and smile at him. Only after they'd greet him warmly would they notice that other person who was with him again. I had become the sidekick.
I couldn't really blame them. Although he's not what you'd call "classically handsome," he's rather striking and you just can't miss him. When I met him, his black hair was down past his waist--he trimmed it to shoulder length a few months ago, but it's rapidly advancing again--he's Chinese-American, but the long hair seems to throw some people off so he just seems intriguingly exotic. He's one of those people that exudes "cool," and can stick silver rings on every finger, put on his yellow-jade pig bracelet--he was born in the year of the pig--and an oval version of John Lennon glasses, and look like it all fits him perfectly. When he walks in, he may remind you of a bad-ass from a Bruce Lee movie, then he smiles and it lights up the whole room. He has the aura of a rock star. Even the crew-cut straight-laced chiropractor started trying to impress Abel with his rock-and-roll knowledge right after we walked in.
So, I understood why people did double takes and remembered him, but then it got wierder.
Just before we go married, the girl that worked at the Blockbuster near my house took an obvious liking to him. Even though he'd walk in with me--and sometimes our kids--she'd say, "Hi Beautiful!" then hang over the counter and flirt with him outlandishly. She got so pushy that Abel was pretty creeped out by her and was glad we were using my Blockbuster card that didn't have his address on it. She seemed kind of "stalkery."
So that was wierd...until we met our new banker.
After we got married we went to open new bank accounts at the same Wachovia where I had my other account. The middle-aged (male) Indian banker had never paid me much notice, but he took one look at my husband and beamed at him like a school-girl.
At first I thought he was just happy for the business, but as he gave us our account options, he continued to focus all his smiles on Abel. Finally, when we were signing the paperwork, the banker couldn't contain himself any longer.
"You know, you're a very handsome man," he said to my husband.
Abel shifted his eyes toward me, unsure how to respond, as I pressed my lips together and tried not to laugh. "Uh...thank you?" he said.
"No really," the man persisted. "You should be in the movies. Are you an actor?"
"No," my husband replied, obviously uncomfortable being ogled and complimented by another guy.
"But he's a really great elecric guitarist," I said, hoping to egg the banker on. "He used to play in a rock band."
"Ohhhh!" the man said, bobbing his head enthusiastically and smiling even more broadly. "A ROCK STAR!"
"Well not really a--" Abel tried to correct him.
"And you should be in the movies too! You would make a great movie star," the banker insisted.
My husband couldn't wait to get out of there, but, of course, that was only the beginning of the fun for me.
"You're going to Bollywood!" I said when we walked out.
So from that day forward, I knew I'd be second banana, just a member of his entourage to the rest of the world.
But as I said, life is a tradeoff. I never have to worry about finding him in a crowded place. I can just walk up to the restaurant hostess, or building security desk, or Walmart greeter and say, "I'm looking for my husband." I wait a beat for the blank stare, then I add, "Long-haired Chinese guy."
"Ohhhh!" they say, and they take me right to him.
I'd really like to base a character on my husband sometime, but he's a brilliant rock star computer geek. I just haven't figured out how to make him believable enough for fiction--haha!
I wrote my finished novels before I met him, but he does have one important thing in common with Mark from Not Dreaming of You and all my heroes. He's a really smart, interesting guy, cause that's how I like 'em.
Not Dreaming of You is available now!
3/18/2011 8:04:01 AM
The Day I Became Controversial
I was one of those kids who was really good at school. I don't mean I just behaved. I mean some people are good at soccer or drawing. I was good at school. I automatically did a psychological inventory on my teachers the first day to assess what they needed from me--Silence? Encouraging nods? Lots of interaction? And I had parents at home who were teachers, so I knew the kinds of things that drove them crazy.
Yes, I was a born pleaser. I didn't want to give my parents or my teachers so much as a moment of stress or disappointment. I tried to do everything just right.
But when I was a senior in high school, I was editor of my school paper. Again, I wanted to do a perfect job and make my journalism teacher proud. But I had not yet learned that if you put words in print, sooner or later, someone isn't going to like what you write.
There was an incident that year in which a teacher's aide had been instructed by the teacher to keep the class in the library. A student decided to leave and the aide put her hand on the student's arm when she told her she needed to stay. The only allegation was that the aide had "touched" the student, not grabbed her or handled her roughly. The influential parents made a case of it though, and the school board bowed to their pressure, officially sanctioning the aide. I wrote an editorial saying the aide was treated unfairly.
That's when I found out that the superintendent of schools--or at least someone in his office--read my school newspaper. I might have been flattered if I wasn't being summoned downtown for a meeting with him--he was tight with the school board and didn't like my editorial.
My journalism teacher was all fired up, ready for me to go defend my story and the freedom of the press. I was a 17-year-old goody-goody who was scared shi--I mean poopless. I went, everything was fine, and I felt vindicated later that year when the local TV station awarded me the Press Day Medal for my editorial. But to tell you the truth, I didn't really put two and two together. I assumed this was an isolated occurrence.
I went about my life for the next 20 years or so, managing to satisfy pretty much everyone wherever I worked. In fact, I was hired for my ability to choose my words well, verbally as well as on paper, and I even won the big annual award one year at my company for something related to those skills.
Then I started writing fiction. Since I wrote romantic comedy, it never occurred to me that anyone could be offended or get angry at me for it. I started putting it "out there" to contests where writers hone their skills and figure out if they're ready for publication. For Not Dreaming of You, I got comments like "fresh, funny," "loved the wonderful distinctive characters," "loved the warmth of Kiki's family," "great dialogue," "I love this!"
Until the day I opened a contest packet and saw, "Kiki and Chris are crazy! What kind of people get angry and then are nice to each other? Mark is the only normal person in the story." Since you haven't read the story yet, I'll just let you know that Kiki and her cousin Chris are very warm people, while Mark is a jaded sarcastic cynic. Sure, he turns out to have some great redeeming qualities and grows a lot during the story, but I was a little worried about the judge who felt he was the "normal" one.
I got another packet back where two judges gave me near perfect scores and the other wrote me an angry--full page, typed--note, telling me that Kiki's passing joke about not enjoying bagpipe music was terrible. She informed me that bagpipes were popular in many countries--she listed a few--and that I should remove the offensive joke from my manuscript. Huh?
Actually, I own a Celtic Christmas CD I play in the holiday season that's full of bagpipe music, but Kiki was looking for a romantic man that would serenade her.
Then I entered Don't Make Me Make You Brownies (coming soon) into contests, I got back "LOL!" "Hilarious!" "Loved the characters!" "I have to tell you I'm laughing my ass off right now!" "Why isn't this already published?"
Until I got judges in two different contests who were angry because "the writer is trying to push her liberal agenda in her book." Obviously, they missed the point. Abbie Greenwood is a very good-hearted, but vocal, crusader who's trying to save the world in her own way. She needs to be in order to make her a fish out of water in the story and to provide contrast and conflict--at least in her own mind--with Rick.
I like to think I've developed a thicker skin over the years, but the truth is, I haven't. It still distresses me to think I've caused another person a moment of upset. It makes writing and publishing books a little scarier--even when they're funny, warm romantic comedies. But, in my heart, I've always been a writer. It's the one occupation I care enough about to risk being controversial for.
So, I keep trying to tell myself it's no biggie. People react to things in unpredictable ways when you accidentally poke one of their tender spots.
Sometimes you win a Press Day Medal. Sometimes you get called to the superintendent's office.
*Not Dreaming of You is scheduled for release March 25, 2011.
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