Friday, December 13, 2013

Why Christmas is awesome...95% of the time...



“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Or so say 220 different B-list singers who have remade this song (I looking at you Amy Grant, Jessica Simpson, three very annoying talking Chipmunks).  And I agree with them- about 95% of the time. But, the following list lays out the 5% of the holiday I just cannot stand. And, I write this, my husband is reading over my shoulder calling me the Grinch who killed Christmas. Thanks Babe…hope you don’t make this list next year…
1.       The Clapper and Chia pet commercials- your parent companies have not sprung for new advertising since 1983. It may be time to put these Christmas classics to pasture. Sorry Cha-cha-cha Chia, I’m not fee-fee-feeling you anymore. Though, I will say, 7-year-old me will always want a clapper.

2.       Christmas stories- When I was about 8 or 9, my mom and dad thought it would be a good idea to tell me the story of the gift of the Magi. You know the one- the poor married man sells his watch to buy a hair comb for his wife. The poor wife sells her hair to buy a chain for the husband’s watch, etc. This started my very frosty relationship with Christmas stories (pun intended). They are 99% depressing. Someone is dying, someone doesn’t have any money, someone can’t buy presents…and someone who is listening to these stories is very, very upset by it all. Namely, me!   

3.       Christmas themed clothes- You know when you go on vacation to a different country and buy all the local fashion because you think it is just amazing and you get it home only to realize you look ridiculous in a Tongan sarong in the middle of Michigan? Christmas clothes feel a little like that to me. The Santa PJs, the cute Christmas-y sweatshirt- they always lure me in. Pre- December 25th, it is all fun and festive good times in my fun and festive clothes. But  it all looks rather foolish in the harsh light of December 26th. Stay strong Kristin! Don’t buy those snowman flannel pants! You’ll regret it!  

4.       Two words: Winter finale.  It’s the TV networks’ fancy way of saying, “even though you FINALLY are on vacation and have time to sit at home and watch all your favorite shows, they are not going to be on. They are on a break. Instead, please watch the Frosty the Snowman cartoon from 1963 for the fourteenth time this season.”   All I want for Christmas is my TV shows back.

5.       BUT quite possibly the worst atrocity ever foisted upon the holidays is…And I barely have the fortitude to write about it… The Christmas Shoes song. If you haven’t heard this musical travesty, count yourself one of the luckiest people in the world. Don’t google the lyrics. You’ll regret it. For some reason, the geniuses behind this song thought that nothing says Christmas spirit like a soon-to-be orphan child begging for shoes for his dying mom so she can wear them to meet Jesus. To the writers of this song- you have no soul.
All joking aside, have a wonderful and happy holiday season. Enjoy your favorite 95% of this time of year and drop me a line to let me know what makes your 5% list!  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Stationery Card

Stationery Card
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

You want me to do WHAT??

I love Batman photo-bombing in the back


My book has been out for a couple of months now and I’ve seen some very interesting patterns developing. Here is my list of ten very strange things about having a published book: 

10. Readers finish the book it took me 4 EXCRUCIATING years to get written and published in 3 days. It should take longer, or maybe be more painful than that. I almost feel like saying, “Go back and read it again! You didn’t suffer with me enough yet!”

9. People ask you to sign things that are not bills, checks, receipts or loan documents.

8. People ask about your process. I should probably come up with a better answer than, “I spent a very long time either staring at my blank screen or looking at Facebook until a few disjointed ideas came together.”

7. Only people severely addicted to online shopping visit Amazon.com more than I do. Except I am only looking at my book’s page hoping for either a new review or my standing on Amazon’s best seller list to change.  

6. You get introduced as an author. I should make myself a nametag just to make it more official I think.

5. I’m supposed to have AND update a Twitter account. Twitter makes me feel like an old lady because I’m constantly mad about the lack of punctuation and run-on sentences I see on there dagnabit. Kids these days…

4. You realize the characters and storylines that have driven you nutso for years are now living in other people’s heads and, for better or worse, your work is now part of that person’s literary history.

3. You do a google search on how to write a screenplay. FYI- I don’t know that any good screenplay has started with the author googling “how to write a screenplay”.

2. The day your Facebook fan page gets joined by someone you actually don’t know is a BIG DAY!

1.      1. People start asking for a sequel. What the…? You want me to do what?? I have to do this again???

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Where are the dancing elephants?



A radiation machine. Yep, it is as big as it looks.

There wasn’t a parade. There weren’t fireworks. There wasn’t even a hint of dancing elephants anywhere in the vicinity. But it doesn’t matter. Even without a drum line present to witness the occasion, as of 2:00 pm today, I walked out of the cancer ward, done with active treatment for stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. 18 weeks of chemotherapy, 28 radiation doses (with the resulting radiation burns), and one massive surgery completed. Boo yah. 

At some point this afternoon, the universe quietly handed me back the keys to my life. Cancer is no longer in the driver’s seat dictating exactly what I can and cannot do. Can I leave the state now? Yep, I no longer have to be at the hospital every single day for treatment. Can I start thinking about bringing my hairdryer and flat iron out of retirement? Oh, you better believe it.  Could I go a whole day without scrubbing my hands with Purell for the slight chance I am in the vicinity of someone with the sniffles? Absolutely. Catching a cold won’t mean possible hospitalization anymore, it would just mean an excuse to take a hefty dose of Nyquil at night (Nyquil sleep is great sleep). 

The door everyone hides behind while I get treatment
This is a big deal. It is a wonderful, amazing, scary, crazy big deal. I count myself a million times lucky to have a good prognosis right now. I'm fully aware many people don't come out of this. This feels like a second chance. That kind of thing, if you are smart, changes your life forever for the better. 


So, what’s next? What do you do with yourself after you’ve had your life run by the big C for a whole year and all of the sudden you are master and commander of your own body again? What do you do? I'm not sure yet. All I can tell you it is gonna be big. And it is gonna start with a party. Now if I can just raise enough money for some elephants…

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pill Popping, Text Language and Man Jewelry




All my chemo meds. Yeesh...
I got a call from my oncologist’s nurse yesterday. She was questioning my use of Ambien (a sleeping pill) Spanish Inquisition style. I had a 30 day supply that only lasted me 28 days. She was, in so many words, gravely concerned that I had turned into a pill-popping druggy. I launched into a lengthy explanation about how the nights when I was extremely sick from the chemo, I’d take another half-dose at 3 am to get me through to the morning, panicked words spilling from my mouth as I tried to make her understand. . . But then I remembered something. I’m over 30, I’m successful (compared to a homeless person), I am NOT a druggie and I don’t really have to explain myself to her.

At 22 years of age, a conversation like this would have had me all sweaty and scared, like I had been called into the principal’s office. I would have done everything I could to make sure that random nurse knew I wasn’t abusing my medication. 32-year-old me knows who I am and knows that the aforementioned conversation wasn’t worth my time.  And I told her that.
This got me thinking.  What is okay when you are twenty-something but not okay when you are thirty-something? What can you deal with when you are 20 but that same thing becomes un-deal-with-able when you cross that momentous line of being 30 years of age? Here’s my short list (because I think I could go on forever):
-          Anyone under the age of 80 calling me “hun” or “sweetheart”: Okay when you are 22, not okay when you are 32. And  boys, to you I am “Ma’am”, as in “yes, ma’am, I will hold the door open for you because I see you wrestling with two crazy children. Do you need help out to your car?”
-          Using text language: 20 and under? I chalk it up to immaturity and it being the cool thing to do. Fine. Anyone over 30 who texts me BRB, TY, or the letter U instead of you is not okay in my book. Plus, don’t we all have SIRI or the Windows equivalent now who writes our texts for us? Come on, our conversation is worth the extra three seconds. I deserve the whole “you”! Disclaimer: LOL is okay. We who are over 30 invented LOL. We are keeping it.
-          Sub-par service at a restaurant: At 22, if the food wasn’t perfect or if a waiter was sucky, I’d just shrug my shoulders and soldier on. But 30-me? You better bet I’m calling your backside over, waiter, to fix the food mistake. And if it is you, waiter, who is sucking, I’m old enough to feel obligated to call over your manager so you learn your lesson.
-          A lack of life insurance: “Don’t think about tomorrow, let’s live for today!” said every 20-year-old always. And that’s fun and romantic for a few years. But I think you can only carpe diem through life until you hit about 26, and then your back starts hurting. Shortly after that, you need to buy some life insurance… and have a job with health insurance…and have a car to buy some car insurance for.
-           Man jewelry: The cute surfer wearing a bunch of woven bracelets around each wrist? Fine. The dangerous looking young guy on the back of a motorcycle with gauged ears? Not my style, but understandable, young man, if are in your twenties. But ANY piece of man jewelry outside of a wedding ring on a guy over 30? Shut it down! By the way, gauged ear guy, your ears are gonna look KILLER when you are fifty.
So what is your take? What is no longer okay when you reach 30?
Also, does anyone else remember when this blog used to be about writing? I’ll get back on that.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All the Donuts in the World



It’s November, 2012.
My husband and I are lying on our bed after putting the kids to sleep.
I had a feeling.
“Big things are coming,” I say out loud, more to the ceiling fan than to my husband, who is already snoring.
“Big things,” I repeat. I couldn’t shake the portentous feeling.
And I was right. The next eight months have been Dickens-esque. It’s been one of those it-was-the-best-of- times-it-was-the-worst-of-times situations in the Bryant house. A cancer diagnosis, a publishing deal, emergency invitro, mastectomy surgery, our ten-year anniversary, buying a chiropractic practice, chemo, getting down to the change we had left in the house to buy that week’s groceries (who knew it was so expensive to buy a chiropractic practice???), miracles the likes of which I never thought I’d have the privilege to see... Like I said, the best of times, worst of times.   
So now that the chemo is done, now that the practice is bought, now that my shelves have food on them again, what have I learned?
- Trials either break you or make you unbreakable. You get to choose.
- Family is the biggest blessing of life. And if you’ve been nice, they’ll stick around when you need them.
- It is really important to have food storage. Life gets lean sometimes. The extra cans of spaghetti sauce will come in handy.
- Let art imitate life. My novel’s characters know a lot more about suffering now that I do too. I’m a better writer after going through this last year. You can’t teach that kind of life experience.   
- Chemo is so all-encompassing, it can even make things like donuts, chocolate and frozen yogurt taste bad. And for a food-enthusiast like myself, that’s a big deal.
- If God leads you to it, He’ll get you through it. You never have to do anything alone.  
Before we know it, it will be November, 2013. And while I’m hoping for a more best-of-times situation for 2014, I wouldn’t trade this year for anything. Not even for all the donuts in the world. And for me, that’s saying a lot.