Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Yuppers, I went to my junior and senior proms. I also went with a couple of older guy friends to their proms, too. So, let me regale you with two of my prom stories (names have been changed to protect the innocent, haha).

Prom #1--I was a sophomore. He was a senior. We were friends, though I think he wanted to be more. He asked me to prom, as friends, and I agreed (duh, of course--we're talking PROM!). The night went nicely--he paid for everything, and the dance itself was a lot of fun.

When it was time to take me home, he escorted me up to my apartment. He asked me if he could have a kiss, and I said I wasn't comfortable with that. So he asked if he could get a hug, instead. Absolutely--I agreed and leaned in. Well, he decided to steal a kiss, anyway.

SLAP! I smacked him right across the face for getting fresh and stomped inside (I found out later my mom was lying on the couch and heard the whole incident--she was ecstatic at how I handled it, LOL).

The guy called me the next day apologizing, but our friendship wasn't the same after that. To be fair, though, he truly felt bad for what he did. I think he was even crying about it.

Prom #2--It was my senior year, and I was taking one of my friends from church. Very nice guy. To be honest, I had a bit of a crush on him. However, we were totally going as friends, so I certainly wasn't going to make it out to be anything more than that. Because I wanted to look my best, though, I had my dress hand-made (I have pictures at home, but they're not scanned in--if I get time, I'll edit this post to add them in).

Just mere days before prom, the guy lets me know that he now has a girlfriend--who happens to be one of my good friends, too. D'OH!

Because it's T-minus days here, there's no way for me to get a replacement I eat a nice, big old slice of humble pie and call her up, asking if I can still take her boyfriend as my non-date date. She graciously agrees, but the whole night, I'm paranoid of doing or saying anything that could be construed as me flirting with him inappropriately. Ah, good times.

All in all, not the worst stories ever, but they weren't the best, either. LOL.

So, what about you--any interesting/bad prom date stories? Dish it up, yo!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Best Revenge

I never had a date for either of my high school proms (junior or senior). Actually, I never had a date at any time during high school. I was, apparently undateable. I went to my junior prom with my also undateable BFF. I wore a short green taffeta and black velvet dress while she channeled Scarlet O'Hara in black and white satin. I remember very little else about that night. I can tell you that the dress I wore was purchased with donated funds since my dress money had been pick-pocketed out of my purse about 5 minutes after we arrived at the mall. (Hmm. Ignore cosmic signs much?)

When senior prom rolled around, I didn't even bother. I had accepted my undateableness and owned it. I think my mom and I went shopping. Or I stayed home and watched TV. I really don't remember.

Now, you may think that four years of being ignored by my male peers might have done something to my psyche. It did, in a way. It made me try harder. Flash forward to this weekend and the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh where I was attending a surprise birthday party for my brother-in-law. This guitar hung over the table that held the birthday cake:

What is the significance of that, you ask? Well, the signature below the band's name, Tonic, that's Emerson Hart. The guy I dated for two years while living in NYC. Who cares about all those boys who never asked me out in high school? One of my ex's has a guitar hanging in the Hard Rock Cafe.

I think that trumps a dateless prom any day.

Monday, April 28, 2008

self imposed penance

My friends and I were bad Friday night.

We were sitting on the deck of a local restaurant, enjoying happy hour, and minding our own business when something sparkly caught our eye.

A prom dress!

We cheered the couples as they made their way to dinner. They all played along with the old folks, bowing and strutting and generally being good sports. I believe they all realized that in 21 years, they might just be us.

Anyway, it all started out as good fun. The couples were beautifully dressed, the boys seemed to have manners, and we were a pleased audience. But before long, our role evolved from audience to judges. We were like Simon Cowell.

"Why is she carrying that giant bag? Doesn't she know that's what evening purses are for?"

"His shirt is untucked. Unforgivable."

"Is she smoking? Who smokes in prom dress? How ugly is that?"*

"He didn't open the door for her! His momma owes him a lesson in manners!"

*I really don't understand the smoking thing. Not in general, I just mean, could they not put down the cigarette for a couple of hours? It just looked tacky. I wonder, do they think it's glamorous?

Okay. So I feel a little bad for raining on the prom parade, so I figured if I could dish it, I should be able to take it.

Here it is--in all its Golden Glory. My prom picture:

The year? 1987
The date? A very good friend of mine
The style? Madonna meets gold lamé
The hair? Sigh. I have no answer.

Last year was my 20 year reunion. Scottie and I posed for a picture again.

Here we are, 20 years and 20 *koff* pounds heavier...

To all the prom dates out there--enjoy your night. I did. And don't let some old fogies heckle you. They had their night a long time ago--it's your turn now.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Remembering Barbara and Learning from Her Life

I knew the face. Last week the pages of local papers were plastered with the faces of two young people, the latest victims of domestic violence. My state has been experiencing a terrible escelation in violence recently, and the headlines have grown all too familiar. But there's a strange phenomenon with teachers. Sometimes you recognize a face and wonder if it's somebody you know from charity events, or the preschool pickup, or... And sometimes you get a funny little feeling that it's one of "your kids." They used to make jokes about how teachers had eyes in the backs of their heads. Thing is... if you are or were a teacher, you'll know what I mean... you never really forget "your kids."

And I knew that face.

I avoided looking at the articles too closely for a few days. It's not like I haven't had similar experiences. Mr. Smith of This or That Lane was arrested on drunk driving charges. Name's familiar. Puzzle pieces fall. Fifth period Psychology. He always wore a baseball cap. Or I bump into someone and they call me "Ms Olie." A few words into the standard greeting a tumbler clunk happens and I recall a girl who had deep golden hair, not platinum blonde, who drew incredible pencil portraits in the margins of her notebook. Cindy, she used to snort when she giggled.

Yeah, I knew Barbara. But I knew Barbara. Not THIS PERSON they've written about. I had her as a student on a long-term substitute job. I was there for a little less than a year. She sat by the windows, third seat back, behind another girl named Trish. She was pretty. She was smarter than she thought, and blossomed when she was praised. And now I will always wonder if more praise could have given her the confidence she needed to find someone who could love her better, more healthily. I wondered, too, did I miss a boyfriend who was unkind, even then? My memory is that she didn't have a boyfriend.

Violence starts early as a pattern for so many young people. Liz Claiborne offers a great section on their Love is Not Abuse site for teens. On that site is a list of ten warning signs that may actually surprise you. Canceling plans at the last minute for suspicious reasons, making excuses for the other person: sounds pretty normal for a young girl with a boyfriend. But combine these behaviors with others, or note a pattern... now some red flags need to go up.

It often concerns me how casually young people talk of toxic patterns in relationships without really seeming to internalize the danger. "He's very bossy with her. He checks where she is constantly." It may seem normal. "If we go out he calls her, like, ten times. It's so annoying. She can't be with her friends anymore." It may seem like just a typical teen in love. But failing to recognize those kinds of behaviors as problematic is both unhealthy and potentially dangerous. And it creates habits that can, as in Barbara's case, take you to places later in life you don't ever want to go. The papers say Barbara wanted out; told friends she would leave.

You really do remember them forever. Hundreds. But you were given a serious responsibility: the gaurdianship of their minds for a while. If you are very lucky, and make a connection, you find these bright faces turning to you. You sit at a rickety desk in a dusty classroom after all the buses have gone, and a kid walks in looking like he'd rather eat dirt than ask, but knows he can trust you. Or you just give the guy who never talks, sits with his sweatshirt pulled up, sulking, a big grin and hand him a paper with a 96 on top and get a big grin in response. Just that. Big grin. Day made.

Even later, when you stop teaching. Tom, who walked up to me at CVS and said "you're the reason I'm a writer." (I cried, Tom, in my car when you drove off.) Jen, who emails me every month or so. She's a physical therapist. Danny, who used to always seek me out at the theater when I was still writing movie reviews. Barbara...

I wasn't close to her. She was only my student for a while. I was covering for another teacher who had been in an accident. But I remember her. I remember shiny, shiny hair and a sweet laugh. I remember her looking out the window a lot. I wonder, now, what it was she was thinking as she stared off into a day bright with promise. I wonder if a magical phrase might have changed things for her. I wonder how her husband, who was a brilliant kid (or so they tell me) became so utterly, utterly lost. I know I won't forget her. I will always, now, be haunted by that lovely profile turned toward the light of the windows, searching.

If you, or someone you care about is in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, please look at the following resources.

LC's Love is Not Abuse

Love is Respect

Cool Nurse's Dating Violence Page

Need Help Fast? Call the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474

Friday, April 25, 2008

Let's be Reisenable

So, Thursday was a chocolate kind of day. I had my Reisens...about half a bag. nummmy. So, I thought I'd share some facts...but not my chocolate.

Chocolate is always on board during space flights for US and Russia.

Aztec emperor Montezuma consumed hot chocolate in golden the tune of fifty per day. (and I thought I was excessive)

Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which stimulates the same reactions in the body as falling in lurve. *sigh*

Alfred Hitchcock used chocolate syrup for blood in the shower scene of Psycho.

White chocolate isn't really chocolate. (which is why I don't care for it)

In moderation, chocolate can lower your blood pressure.

Chocolate is bad for dogs and cats.

Dark chocolate in antioxidant.

You can get a cold sore from kissing a boy...but not a Hershey Kiss.

I was in a play called "The Chocolate River" when I was in sixth grade.

I don't care for chocolate ice cream or chocolate cake, but I love brownies.

Chocolate does not cause acne. That is a myth.

This post will cause most of you to go find something chocolate to eat. Sorry about that.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mean Girls

Ah, the internet...that beautiful place where we can say anything we want without fear of retribution. We can just hide behind a screenname and nobody will know who we are. We can say whatever we want...true or not. Great, isn't it?

Not so much.

According to the organization, cyberbullying is when a child or teen "is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones." If both the victim and perpetrator are underage, then it's cyberbullying. When adults are involved, it's considered cyber-harrassment or cyberstalking.

A few years ago, I was the victim of cyber-harrassment. I was a frequent participant on a wedding website that shall remain nameless. A few weeks after my wedding, I posted my wedding pictures. Mr. Brice didn't want me to...he thought we should maintain our privacy, but I still had that newlywed glow and wanted to share my happy day with everyone else.

Everything was fine until several weeks after that, when I started seeing posts on the forum that seemed like they came from me...only they didn't. It was my screenname, and if you clicked into the associated "bio", those were my wedding pictures, but I assure you, I wasn't making those posts. Whoever was posing as me was saying horrible things about people on the forum. Absolutely slanderous, just awful stuff. And people on the board started to hate me for it.

I couldn't figure out what was happening. Had someone hijacked my account? Did I have a split personality kinda like Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde, and my unhinged side was coming out at night without my normal side knowing it? Because someone was posting this awful stuff, and it for sure wasn't me.

It took a while of being personally attacked before a friend of mine (we'll call her Ally) finally figured out what happened and who was doing it. Turns out that someone had created an imposter account...if you hovered the cursor over the screenname, you could see that while I had a lowercase L in my screenname, this person used an uppercase I, but they looked the same at first. My friend posted her discovery on the board, calling out this troll for harassing me. The harrassment stopped. For a few days, at least.

Now I knew who it was, but I still didn't know why. A couple days later, a new screenname popped up on the board, purporting to "warn" me about two friends of mine (we'll call them Greg and Mary) from law school who supposedly were badmouthing me to everyone they knew. This new person seemed to know a lot of details about Greg and Mary, so at first I believed her, but it didn't make any sense. This couple had gone to my wedding...they were good friends of mine.

That's when we made the connection. The crazy beeyotch who'd stolen my wedding pictures and was posing as me to attack other people...she was Greg's ex-girlfriend! You know, my friend who allegedly was badmouthing me? Mr. Brice confronted turns out that he was also being harrassed by the troll at that point...and it had spiralled out of control into real life, to the point that his fiancee, Mary, was being followed and receiving threatening phone calls. They even had to change the wedding date listed in their wedding registry, because they were afraid that his ex-girlfriend was going to show up on the day of the wedding and make trouble.

Then the harrasment moved to Ally, the friend who'd put two and two together and figured out who'd been behind it all. Ally, a Princeton graduate, had been in the process of buying a house, and a new troll showed up on the nameless wedding website board, this time with the screenname PrincetonGirl. PrincetonGirl asked everyone to look at the pictures of her new home...when you clicked on them, it was the EXACT SAME HOUSE that Ally was buying! And Ally hadn't shared that info with anyone else!

Needless to say, we were all really scared at that point. So of course, that was when we had to take the bar exam. Perfect timing, right?

Anyway, long story short, we ultimately got the authorities involved and got subpoenas to shut some websites used for harrasment down, as well as filed a restraining order against Greg's ex-girlfriend.

Why did this happen? Who knows. Best I can guess, the crazy chick saw Greg and Mary's picture in the wedding pictures I'd posted and it got her unhinged. *shurgs*

Anyway, as big of a headache as this was, I was lucky. Greg and Mary, not so much. They did get married, but 6 months later they were divorced...the stress of the whole situation was too much for them. :(

But in the great scheme of things, we had it pretty easy. Cyberbullying, cyber-harrassment, and cyberstalking can turn deadly.

I'm sure you've all heard about Megan Meier, the thirteen-year-old girl who hung herself last year after being rejected by a teenage boy she met on MySpace. The thing is...he never existed. He was actually a persona created by a woman living a few houses away.

What happened to Megan is not an isolated event. In 2005, Jeff Johnston, age 15, hung himself after 3 years of cyberbullying that his mother and principal were unable to stop. In 2003, 13-year-old Ryan Halligan hung himself after receviing months of threatening IMs.

Cyberbullying is usually not a one-time communication, unless it involves a deaht threat or credible threat of serious bodily harm. Kids usually can tell what it is, but parents often are more worried about the bad language used in the message than the harmful effect of the mean or embarrassing posts.

So what can you do? Educate kids about the consequences (losing their internet accounts, etc). Tach them to respect others and take a stand about bullying of all kinds.

Parents should be where kids can go when things go wrong online, yet kids often avoid them because parents overreact, or worse yet, the parents underreact, saying "kids will be kids". Most children avoid telling their parents about these incidents because they're afraid it will only make things worse.

And above all...don't say anything online in the anonymity of the Internet that you wouldn't say to someone's face.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Disappointing dates--the bane of the teen's existence!

Okay, maybe that title is a bit melodramatic, but when you're sixteen and eager to find true love, a disappointing date is like a kick in the solar plexus.

And I had many a non-perfect date back in my day. Ah, I remember one classic date, where I was totally, utterly crushing on a guy--I thought he was so freaking cute, and I couldn't believe we were going to go out!

We went to see some movie, laughed and talked and enjoyed our time together, and at the end of the date...he shook my hand.


Shaking hands to cement a business merger? Rock on. Shaking hands when introducing yourself to someone? Absolutely.

But to end a date? He might as well have chucked me on the chin. LOL.

Well, needless to say, that was our first and last date.

I've had other disappointing dates, too, as well as outright bad ones--like the time I was stood up for two hours on a double date--and when the jerk finally showed, he spent the whole evening making fun of me with my friend's date...then, had the nerve to ask me at the end of the night, "So, am I getting a kiss, or what?"

RIIIIIIGHT. What a pair on that guy!

So, anyone else have any really disappointing or bad dates to share? Commisserate with me!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Do You Suffer From BOF?

BOF is that ickiness that overcomes you when your good jeans are in the wash, your BFF has borrowed that cute top that makes your boobs look bigger than they are and you get stuck wearing the clothes your grandmother bought you last Christmas from Sears. You know you look less then your best, but there's nothing you can do about it. You've got Bad Outfit Feeling.

I definitely suffer from this. There are days when I'll wear something that makes me feel completely schlumpy, but I wear it anyway because I was in a rush or the stuff I wanted to wear wasn't available. Those days I feel less like myself. Less confident. More like I just want to disappear in the crowd. That's Bad Outfit Feeling all over.

Of course, sometimes you get BOF through no fault of your own. You start out feeling great about the dress you picked out for that Must Attend party, but when you get there, someone else is wearing it - and they look better. Or maybe you went casual when everyone else is rockin' semi-formal. Even the right outfit at the wrong time can bring on BOF.

A good outfit can make you smile, put a sway in your hips, make you feel like you own the world. You know what I'm talking about, right? When an outfit comes together and you look cute, you're unstoppable. Boys want you. Girls want to be you. Coolness seeps from your pores. Even your cat stares up at you adoringly.

Have you suffered from BOF? Do you have an outfit that never gives you BOF? Is there a memorable time when BOF set in? Talk to me!

Monday, April 21, 2008

i'm here!

Sorry for the delay folks. I've spent the weekend working in the yard, cleaning up my back porch and making it ready for spring. There's nothing I like more than getting up just before sunrise and sitting outside with just my coffee and my thoughts.

This morning, after I ran the mom-taxi to school, I went to the gym. During my torture elliptical session, I plotted out my daily activities. I was going to write, but I realized, I still had garden fever. I'm not finished with my outdoor projects. So I came right home, ate my egg and blueberries, then plodded outside to continue my work.

Now I'm all stuffed up thanks to the pollen and my hands are shaky thanks to the leaf blower, but damn my yard looks great.

I didn't discover a love for flowers until about 5 years ago. We had bought a house in Oxford and it had a dismal flower bed that had been completely neglected. After much planning, I decided it needed to be dug up and expanded. 1 truckload of dirt and many blisters and sore muscles later, I had my new garden.

And a new hobby. Here are some pics from my old house:

It was a lot of work and I've learned much since then. Like how to create a low maintenance flower bed. (wish I would've learned that 5 years ago...) I don't want "no maintenance" though. Gardening is so therapeutic. It's hard work, but it's rewarding in ways that I never understood until I pulled my first weed. There is joy in watching your seeds grow. I love clipping flowers from my garden and placing them throughout the house. Sipping my coffee while the humming birds and butterflies enjoy the fruits of my labor.

But 20 years ago, if you'd have asked me about gardening, I would've laughed and said, "Um yeah. Right." I hated it. Mom always made me mow and weed as part of my chores. They sucked.

Of course, they weren't my yard or my garden--and I think that makes all the difference. Which makes me wonder, 20 years from now, will I be doing something like rebuilding cars or cleaning my house? *shudder* I hope not.

What about you? Do you do anything now that was never on your radar in the past? Do you wonder about what you'll be doing in 10 or 20 years from now?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense

When I was a student at Marshfield High (my stay there was not chronologically identical to those of my classmates, but I was there) I ended up in in-house suspension on my birthday. In-house was was more or less a cross between jail and silent study. Teachers rotated through the day. You had to be escorted to the bathroom, just outside the classroom, and escorted back inside. It was long and boring.

But this was my birthday and my then-boyfriend (heya Timmy!! 'sup, man?) came to the window on one of the cooler teacher's shifts and asked if he could purleeeeaze give me a gift. (Timmy had traveled all the way from Duxbury, one town over, and was probably skipping school, since he went to Archbishop Williams, several towns north.) Teach relented; Timmy passed me a small box; I opened it to find a Hostess Cupcake with a candle and file in it.

Ok, it was a nail file. But the Jimmy Cagney movie (Google it, kids) reference was cute.

Teacher told us, point blank, that he was not amused and that he had a very low tolerance for nonsense.

Today he would be a paragon of patience, I guess. Because across the country school systems are adopting the ridiculous policy of "No Tolerance." That means, as most of us know, that if you break one of the big rules you're out, no questions, no second chances.

Really? This is a policy schools adopt? Errr... and brag about?

I was a teacher for a while, too. Personally, I think tolerance was among the most important lessons I had to deliver, even though the subjects assigned to me by the administration were English, Psychology, and Journalism. I even had a kid in one of my classes who had been moved from AP English to a lower level with many of the Special Ed and remedial kids. When I asked why, I was told it was punishment for bad behavior.

Yeah. I almost wigged, too. My last act before leaving was making sure he went back where he belonged the following year. Academic punishment for behavioral problems? (By the way, I never had a lick of trouble from him.)

Anyway, back to Zero Tolerance.

I find it fascinating that schools these days want to stick their noses into the private lives of their students-- perusing MySpace pages, alerting police to parties, telling them how to dress and wear their hair-- but have the nerve to institute a policy that completely cripples the ability of young adults to learn the skills they need to make those choices wisely for themselves.

Tolerance and acceptance and understanding work together. Tolerance allows us to bend and change so that we can make it to acceptance and growth. Tolerance is the magic bullet that lets a kid raised by racists learn to deal with people who scare him, then learn to let the fear go, then learn to reject the stupidity ingrained in him or her by others. Tolerance is the mechanism through which a Catholic kid works side by side with a Muslim kid without getting into religious arguments. It's not important that they disagree; they tolerate (and hopefully, after a lot of tolerance, embrace) one another.

Kids need tolerance. All of us do. A school system without it is a system crippled, mangled, and harmful.

And I can promise you there won't be any file-stuffed cupcakes! So what's the point, really?

Friday, April 18, 2008

The whole wide world

Earth day is next week, so I thought I'd go green today. It is sometimes hard to imagine that changing your behavior can change the world. I have always believed that in a world of things spiraling out of control, sometimes the only thing I have control of is my attitude. So, if I am the best person I can be, hopefully my neighbor will try to do the same. And my family. And my readers. And my friends....and then what do you know...all of the sudden we are a force to be reckoned with.
I suggest making small changes if you haven't already. It's hard to give up bottled water....but I can take 10 seconds to refill my bottle at night. My big "duh" is never remembering my shopping bag. I can change that, I just need to put forth more effort.
One of the biggest changes I have made in my consumer habits is how I read. I have an ebook reader. If I can get a book electronically, instead of paper printed, I do. At first, it was different. But I love it now.
What I am interested in are some relatively painless changes I can make. We've changed almost all our lightbulbs. As our appliances need replacing, we have chosen energy efficient models. We recycle (for the most part--we can do better). What else? What are some things you are doing that make you feel better about sustaining the planet? I've read suggestions on some sites....but I am interested in some "real life" experiences.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Live from's Dancing with the Candidates!

Other than Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, I have two distinct TV memories from when I was around 3 years old. I used to jump up and down whenever the Coke commercial came on, which prompted my parents to enroll me in dance classes at an early age. And I also remember watching Ronald Reagan's inauguration...kinda weird viewing for a preschooler, especially since we're not exactly Republicans in my family.

So is it really a surprise that later in life I'd work in politics and compete in ballroom dance competitions?

So last night, while I was watching Democratic Debate #471947295092 (OK, fine, it was actually the 21st debate, but hey, who's counting), it hit me. If we can't pick a nominee after about a year and a half of almost non-stop campaigning, then we're fooling ourselves. Forget about debate on policy. What we really need is good old-fashioned reality TV.

I mean, really. They've already been on SNL and The View, not to mention cameo appearances on American Idol. So I think it's time the primary process was thrown out the window in favor of combining two of my favorite pastimes: politics and ballroom.

Introducing "Dancing with the Candidates," a hit new reality show on ABC, hosted by George Stephanopoulos. We'll start small, with just a half hour segment following "Dancing with the Stars" this Monday night. Which is perfect's the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, so what better way for voters in the city of the Constitution to decide the next Democratic presidential nominee.

It's totally democratic, too. Viewers would call in and vote for their favorite candidate after watching their cha-cha or quickstep. Instead of going to a voting booth in an elementary school, you can stay in the comfort of your own home...not even have to get off your couch. Can you imagine the participation we'd get?

My favorite professional dancer on DWTS is Edyta Sliwinska, paired with NFL superstar Jason Taylor this season. But she and Jason are going strong (right on the heels of front-runners Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas), so I don't think she could do this show.

So I was thinking that Barack Obama's partner could be Anna Trebunskaya, who was voted off with her partner, Steve Guttenberg, earlier this season.

And Hillary Clinton's partner could be Anna's husband, Jonathan Roberts, who left the show early after being voted off with Monica Seles.

It's perfect, don't you think?

At first I was thinking it could be a tag team type of thing, since Hillary and Barack's spouses seems to love to be surrogates on the campaign trail. I thought maybe Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton could get in the game, too. Then I realized that Bill might get a little too mesmerized by all the sequins and short costumes, so I decided against that idea.

We'll stick to the candidates themselves.

And really, dancing is a crucial skill to diplomacy. Just think of all the state dinners that are hosted at the White House. Shouldn't we as Americans have a say in who will represent us on the dance floor?

So let's throw out the primary votes in favor of something we can all agree on.

And if we're still deadlocked after this, then there's always "Celebrity Death Match."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hot for Teacher...?

When I was a sophomore in high school, there was one teacher I and the other girls in class thought was mega-hot. He was married, but that didn't stop us from staring dreamily at him. We loved going to his class every day.

I think he taught social studies, but to be honest, I don't fully remember. haha. In fact, I can't remember very much about him--I don't remember his name at all. But I do remember he had dark hair and a great smile.

Obviously, nothing ever came of it. He remained a nice guy who kept a respectful distance with all of us (well, at least as far as I know!). But in a school full of stupid guys who liked to torture teen girls every chance they got, it was nice for us to see an older guy who gave us hope--hope that guys do grow up, do mature into responsible people, do become worthy of being drooled over.

Well, as I moved past high school into college and beyond, I realized I was a bit off the mark (many guys never grow up, haha). But still, it's funny how during your formative years, your perception of the ideal man can develop and linger with you.

So, 'fess up--have you ever crushed on a teacher? Tell, tell, tell!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


While you're reading this, I'm in Hawaii. Yeah, I know, I kinda suck. LOL And actually, as this is Tuesday, our plans for the day include one of my favorite Hawaiian adventures: an early morning snorkel excursion with Dolphin Discoveries. Last time we were on the big island and went out with them, we saw a lot of awesome wildlife including a hump back whale, plenty of honu (the Hawaiian word for sea turtle), a pod of spinner dolphins and the rather rare whale shark.

Now, don't be alarmed by this guy's size. Yes, he's mammoth, but since he just eats plankton, he's harmless. And pretty curious about humans. (Don't you love how the diver in the photo is pointing to the whale shark? Thanks, dude, we totally missed it otherwise.) The one we encountered put his head against the side of the zodiac and stared up at us like a puppy waiting for treats. The captain of our craft immediately jumped into the water and started filming this 40 foot fish. Amazing! Unfortunately, we did not have our cameras, but this year we have a new waterproof digital so I hope to bring back some great pics.

What else am I doing in Hawaii? Researching a top secret project. But that's all I'm gonna say about that. So far, I've: gotten a henna tattoo, nearly been killed on a golf cart, been ambushed by hungry peacocks, almost fallen off a cliff into the sea trying to take a picture of some fish, seen a wild mongoose with a chip bag on its head and eaten seaweed. And there are still several days left to go.

Where is your favorite spot to vacation?

Monday, April 14, 2008

take a look at your boyfriend...

When I was in high school, the teachers often sat us in alphabetical order. (have they gotten any more creative?) Oftentimes, the people you were sitting between were the people you were stuck with for the rest of the year.

My maiden name was McKenzie. In 9th grade, I had 3 classes in a row with Denton McDonald. It didn't take us too long to hit it off and hook up. Life was good.

Denton was my first boyfriend ever. We had a great time until I got grounded. (I can't remember WHY I got grounded. Probably made a B- on my report card or something.) Anyway, Denton moved on and I was stuck behind him for the rest of the year.

Of course, it was over another girl. If he couldn't see me, he had to see somebody, right?

It all worked out in the end. We became friends and remained friends. I actually had lunch with him the other day. He's a great guy. He's been married for 20 years (I'm only at 15 years this week) and has two kids, one who's about to graduate high school. (incidentally, I'm also good friends with "the other woman", too.)

What's the point of all this? Don't let the melodrama of high school ruin something potentially good. I've had a friendship for 24 years now because I was able to move on from the drama. So many times, I watch folks get so wrapped up in the minutia that they lose sight of the big picture.

If you know you have a penchant for melodrama--then my advice is not to date anyone assigned to sit in front or behind you. Otherwise, it will be a long year.

Here are some little known facts about my 9th grade love affair stolen from my personal blog:

  1. Denton gave me my first hickey.
  2. He was the boy I made out with in the sheep barn at the state fair. (which is where #1 occurred) It's been 23 years and I still think of him when I see any state fair commercial.
  3. We had school pictures the next day and I had to do my very best to hide my hickey. I still have that awful picture, which will NEVER be posted. Maybe. We'll see. My hair was so bad...and I was wearing a mauve sweater.
  4. We had 2 songs (don't ask me why I remember this) True, by Spandau Ballet and Islands in a Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (no, I am not making that up.)
  5. When I first fell for him, he had an afro. It was a perm, but I didn't care, cuz to my little 14 year old heart, it was sexxxy. I have a picture still, somewhere. If I can get him to agree to it, I'm so gonna post it.
  6. He was the only boy I ever wore one of those split heart necklaces with and when we broke up, I threw my heart at him. Sooo dramatic. (like the one pictured, only it said something poignant like, together we are one...)
  7. Our senior year, we fooled around again, but never really dated again.
  8. He was really the only boyfriend I had during all of high school. I dated some, but never really did the whole "relationship" thing. Probably the smartest thing I ever did...
There you go. Little known facts that probably could've stayed swept under the rug.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

DEAR - Drop Everything and Read!

I've never, ever, ever understood people who don't read. Strangely, kids are much more honest about it. "I just don't like it. I've tried it, but I can never finish." I can respect that brand of open admission much more than I can the lame excuses some adults give. My favorite is "I don't have time." For some reason this is almost always delivered by a bubble head in the very midst of wasting time on something stupid.

Wow, Barbi Jo, you have time to compare fourteen different shades of pink nail polish here at the CVS cosmetics counter to waste time during your kid's soccer practice. Couldn't squeak in a chapter of Parenting for Dummies?


Anyway, for those of us with completely empty schedules, unhampered by the grueling daily grind of driving, picking out nail polish, and yapping on the telephone about how weird the Olinger kid's creepy aunt who reads all the time is... there's a really cool thing happening today.

Drop Everything and Read Day is today! The idea (which is more completely and articulately explained in the link) is to take time out to read. Schools, libraries, and bookstores around the country will be having events. All you really have to do is show up with a book, park your rear, and read.

One of the many reasons I mourned the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga was the death of a tradition a little like this. With the release of every new book I made special plans with all the kids and adults who were Potter-obsessed. We'd do the all-night squats at the book store. We'd clutch our brand new copies close, then we'd curl up somewhere together and read it aloud, or have multiple-marathon-reads. By mid-morning everyone was accusing everyone else of cheating to race to the end. But we'd read our Potter installments and bonded. And visions of quidditch still danced in our heads.

That's why I don't understand someone who doesn't like books. To me, it's like refusing free vacations. You don't like books? You don't want to be transported to another place, meet fascinating new people, have adventures, fall in love, learn new things without really trying?

For serious?

I doubt you'd be here, at the Fictionistas' Blog, if you were one of those people.

So join me, for at least a half hour, in dropping everything to read today. Maybe we'll bump into one another at Hogwarts... or at Barton Park, where I hear the Dashwood girls are entertaining Colonel Brandon for tea... or in Fagin's grungy hidey hole, where Dodger is emptying his pockets with booty from pockets he's emptied... or... anywhere, really.

Friday, April 11, 2008

But all the European parents are doing it...

My kids have never seen me drunk.
Though they have seen me drink.

I recently came across a parenting blog that completely condemned a practice I have condoned on an infrequent basis. And I was a little miffed, frankly.

Horror of horrors...I allow my daughter sips of wine at dinner. She had a mimosa at a shower once (I made it, it wasn't very strong). My thinking is that wine, like say...brownies, is a really nice accompaniment to a good meal or a celebration. To carry on the metaphor I would stay away from eating the whole pan of brownies--it will make you sick. Enjoy the brownie but don't overindulge. If you find yourself doing or saying things you normally wouldn't when you eat brownies, then you are eating too many.

I see the point the non-sippers are trying to make. Alcoholism is dangerous and rampant among teens. You know what else is dangerous?


But as good parents, we take them out driving, don't we? We supervise them, give them advice, teach them the do's and don'ts of the road....proper car ettiquette. It isn't like we pick the magic number of 16 and hand them the keys and say--okay now you're ready since it's your birthday. I realize that you've never been behind the wheel, but you'll be fine because you are older today than you were yesterday.

My feeling is that I am not raising children, I am raising adults. I need my daughter to be ready to make informed decisions when I'm not around. By witnessing and taking part in responsible drinking behavior, I'm hoping to avoid the three a.m. cleaning up vomit on her bedroom floor ritual (I won't tell you which of my friend's did that to her mom when we were teens).

But...I understand the flip side too. I encourage her to be sexually abstinent but allow her to try my Peppermint Patty in front of the fireplace after it snows. Am I giving her mixed signals?

So what are your feelings? Am I wearing rosé-colored glasses?
(and wasn't that a cute pun?)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not a Plain Jane...

I was first introduced to the subtly delightful snarky wit of Jane Austen (or "A Lady", as her books were signed during her lifetime) during my senior year of high school, in Mr. Doherty's AP English Class. We read a whole string of classics by British lady authors, but Pride & Prejudice was by far my favorite. That was also the year that the BBC released its notable TV miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and the imcomparable Colin Firth, although it didn't make it to the US until I was in college.

Speaking of that miniseries, all I have to say is that had Jane been writing today, I totally believe she would have included that swimming scene with Mr. Darcy in the pond outside his home while Lizzie and her aunt and uncle were visiting (snooping). I mean, come on...semi-naked wet Mr. Darcy? Yeah, that would totally be in the book. You and I both know it.

Colin Firth...mmm...

Where was I again? Oh yeah. Jane Austen.

This past Sunday marked the end of the Masterpiece Theatre series "The Complete Jane Austen" with the conclusion of the two-part remake of "Sense & Sensibility." I have to say that I'm really sad to see it go. Why couldn't she have written more than 6 novels? Didn't she know that 200 years later, people wouldn't be able to get enough?

So why do people (females, especially) love Jane Austen? In the last few years we've seen The Jane Austen Book Club (both the novel by Karen Joy Fowler, and the movie), the film Becoming Jane, the Bollywood extravaganza Bride & Prejudice, the Keira Knightley film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, the aforementioned Masterpiece Classics series on PBS, a novel called Mr. Darcy's Daughters, a novel called Mr. Darcy's Diary, The Second Mrs. Darcy: A Novel, Letters From Pemberley: The First Year, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife...and that's just in the 2000s alone.

In the 90s we got the famous BBC ode to Colin Firth (sigh!), two different Emma films in 1996 (a Hollywood version starring Gwynneth Paltrow and a BBC version starring Kate Beckinsale), the Bridget Jones books (the first one is a remake of P&P...great casting on the part of the movie producers by having Colin Firth play Mark Darcy...and the second is a remake of Persusasion), not to mention Clueless, a loose adaptation of Emma.

And that's just in the last 13 years.

I think Henry Tilney, the hero in Northanger Abbey said it best:
"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."

So why is Jane Austen so popular? What do modern women (and men...Mr. Brice amazed me last week when he predicted that Marianne Dashwood would marry Colonel Brandon because "he's the brooding guy...and the brooding guy always wins in the end of a Jane Austen story"...I was all "Who are you and what did you do with my husband?" He clinched it when he started expounding on how Lizzie Bennett is like a combination of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood) see in these stories? Can something written more than 200 years ago still be relevant today? And if you were a Jane Austen heroine (or hero), who would you be?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 you do it?

Guy-o-mancy, the ancient art of reading every word, every look, every nuance having to do with a guy to determine if he likes you or not. How many people out there are guilty of this?

Yes, I'm raising my hand...both of them, actually, because back in the day, I used to do this a LOT.

Okay, I still do. I admit, I don't always know what the manpanion's thinking, so I still use these little tricks to get a handle on him.

What is the art of guy-o-mancy, you ask, and how can I learn this sage skill? Alas, there are no trade schools specializing in understanding the other sex, but Auntie Rhonda is going to teach you some tricks of the trade:

1--If you want to determine the guy's feelings, but he's not around, try the old "betting" concept. Just make a bet with yourself--if you can sink that wadded-up piece of paper into the garbage on your first try, then it must be love. Or, put your hand on the phone. If someone calls you in the next X seconds, it means your guy's smitten.

2--If you're in his presence, analyze every physical gesture he makes to see if he's into you. What does his body language reveal? Is he leaning in toward you? Does he touch your arm/shoulder/face? Does he make lots of eye contact?

3--If you're in a conversation with the guy, dissect every word he says. Is he asking questions about you, or does he just like talking about himself? When he answers questions, are they more than just one or two-word phrases? Does he laugh at your jokes?

Have any guy-o-mancy tips or tricks to share? Dish it up, folks! Let's hear what you do when you're feeling especially neurotic. haha

ETA: The winner from yesterday's contest is DEB LOGAN. Congrats, Deb!!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Interview Time! Plus, Win A Book!

Today, we've got a fab interview with one half of the writing team that creates the delish House of Night series (Marked, Betrayed, Chosen), P.C. Cast! And best of all, one lucky commenter is going to win an autographed copy of Marked to get you started on the series!

How did the idea of a mother-daughter writing venture come to be? Whose idea was it?

It was my idea. When I was beginning the first book Kristin hadn’t gone off to college yet, so she was still living at home. I’d yell out questions about teenage vernacular at her from my office. Like, “Chicken!”(I call her Chicken. Kristin Frances Cast. KFC.) “Chicken! When someone’s really drunk, what do you call it?” She’d say, “Trashed, Mom.” And then I’d yell back “Thanks!” and keep writing. So I’m trying to write the first three chapters and I keep yelling down the hall. Kristin says she was “innocently” watching MTV. (Please! I don’t think you can innocently watch MTV.) Anyway, I finally came out and said, “Would you like to coauthor this book with Mama?” She said, “Coauthor… like have my name on the cover?” “Uh huh,” I said. She said, “Like, Kristin Cast and P. C. Cast?” I said, “No, like, P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast .” She went, “Oh. Yeah. That’d be cool.” So I called my agent and she liked the idea. She was thinking of the marketing perspective. Everyone was cool with it, so it happened.

What's the writing process like with you and Chicken *snerk* working on a book at the same time?

Kristin and I do some brainstorming, and then I write the first draft. It’s hard for me. I want to call her and talk to her about it sometimes, but she hasn’t read up to where I am. I used to send her pieces of it, but I revise constantly. So what I will have sent her before might have completely changed. So that didn’t work. When I get the whole first draft done, I send it to her. (I’ll talk to her in the manuscript.) Then she goes through it and fills in the blanks and answers the questions. She makes sure I’m being succinct enough, because I tend to do too much description. She said in this last book she had to delete a zillion “and whatnot”s. So she’ll change some of the text and write little bubble comments to me. Then she sends the manuscript to me and I see what changes she’s made. I re-read it carefully to make sure she’s not messing up any of my dominoes, because I have a much better idea of where I’m going than she does. When I’m done, we send it off.

Very cool that you guys work so well together. What was your inspiration for the House of Night series?

Well, it started out with my agent saying “vampire finishing school.” Two, almost three years ago, at the [RWA National] Conference in Reno. We were drinking, and she says “Hey hey hey, I have an idea for a series I need to give you.” I said, “Okay.” Then she said the three magic words: “Vampire finishing school.” I had been reading a lot of young adult, and I was thinking I would really like to write a young adult series. She, on the other hand, was thinking bondage and college co-eds. Well, those of you who have read my Goddess Summoning Books know I could definitely make that work, but I couldn’t get the YA angle out of my mind, so I talked her into young adult. And I’m sooooo glad I did. It’s made my career. These books have put me in a completely different place.

Also, I sat down with my dad, who is a biologist, and came up with a biological basis for vampirism. Then created a world that’s ours only there have always been vampires. It’s an uneasy alliance between vampires and humans. My vamps are like Superman. They’re super-gorgeous. They’re super-talented. They’re literally super-men and women. It’s matriarchal. Nyx is their goddess. I use a lot of Wiccan based rituals. They’re in no way disrespectful to men, because a real matriarchal culture would not be disrespectful to men. It’s just that men have a different role, and their role is more is as a protector.

I love that you got your dad involved! Who is your favorite secondary character from the series?

That’s easy – Aphrodite! Okay, I know she comes off as abrasive and selfish and even kinda ho-ish, but I love her. Plus, her character grows and evolves during the series quite a bit.

Okay, I have to agree. She's kind of a snot, but sooo interesting. I can't wait to see where she goes in the series. Speaking of which, how many more books will there be? Any buzz on a movie?

Right now we’ve sold a total of nine House of Night books, which includes a three book spin-off. As for a movie, Empire Pictures has optioned the series and is going to pitch it as a TV series to the major networks. So keep your fingers crossed!

Awesome! Can I come to the premiere? Kidding. Not really. Um, can we get a sneak peak at what's next for Zoey?

If you’ve read CHOSEN you know that Zoey messed up Big Time. So UNTAMED (out in October) begins with Zoey cleaning up her messes, but in the middle of all of that we meet a new force of evil that has been influencing vampyres at the House of Night. I can tell you that I scared my own self when I was writing this one! And I think of the end of it as more of a pause than a real The End. I’m working on the next book, HUNTED, already, and it begins literally within minutes of the close of UNTAMED.

I can't wait to see the new covers. The current ones are amazing. In between books, when we need a fix, where can we find you online?

You can find me at my website: (and and the House of Night series website:

That House of Night website rocks. Thank you for stopping by! Now, readers, don't forget to comment to get your name in the drawing to win Marked!

Monday, April 07, 2008

exercise your mind

I used to read A LOT. Now I read when I get a chance. And that makes me a picky reader. I have to get into the story or characters right away. If I don't, I chuck it. Sad to say, but time is money, so when I'm not writing, I don't wanna spend my time reading something that's painful.

I used to feel differently. If I started a book, I would finish it no matter what.

Reading is good for my soul. It helps keep me juiced up and ready to write my own stories and it keeps me entertained in ways that nothing else can. I can 'cast' whoever I want as the main characters instead of having that done for me, like in the movies. (and yes, many times the same face shows up over and over again. *koff* Matt Damon *koff) And I'll admit, if I pick up a book that doesn't do it for me, it makes me more determined to write better. My goal is to entertain and hopefully, create an emotional reaction of some kind (hopefully the good kind).

Right now, I'm reading Gena Showalter's The Darkest Night and boy has she pulled me in with Lord of the Underworld #1: Maddox. HOT. Matt Damon is not playing the part of Maddox. Vin Diesel is....sorry, I digress. Anyway, this book is available for preorder or if you want your chance to win a free advance copy, check out fellow Ficitonista Kristen Painter's blog today.

Another fab contest is going on over at my friend Marley Gibson's group blog, Books, Boys, Buzz. Pop over, comment, and qualify to win two fab books!

I just finished Stephenie Meyer's New Moon and I was so disappointed--especially after LOVING Twilight the way I did. But I'm not giving up on the series. Mainly because Meyer made me fall in love with Edward. Yesterday, I downloaded Eclipse to my iPod and I'm listening every morning while I walk. I figure it's almost 16 hours, so that's some good exercise time. :)

So, what have you been reading lately? Anything super fab or disappointing?

Sunday, April 06, 2008


We are the Fictionistas and we will be launching on March 31st!

We hope to have comments from you in the coming weeks and months.

We, The Six (Melissa Francis, Kristen Painter, Rhonda Stapleton, Amanda Brice, Gwen Hayes, and Chrissy Olinger) are an elite team of YA authors at different points in our publishing careers. We cracked each other up so much that one day we decided it would be nice to share with the world our unique perspectives.

Let the mayhem begin......

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Walt's Whitmart, Spring Break, and President Lincoln

Many ages ago, when I was a student (shut up) I took a road trip with my very good friend Lori on spring break. We drove to Washington, DC to visit friends. I got to do most of the driving; Lori had rented a massive Grand Marquis and I was the only one who could parallel park that boat!

I'd been to DC before-- no, scratch that-- I'd been through DC before. My father's family is from southwestern Virginia, and we visited them now and again. The trip featured a midnight blur that was our nation's capitol. I can vaguely remember my mother shrieking "wake up, kids, you can see the White House." There was a blurry white thing whizzing by as my father cursed about being stuck on the loop and mom lecturing him on the fascinating lay-out of the city, which was similar to Boston in that it resembled the spokes of a wheel.

Yeah, I don't know why he didn't leave her at a 7-11 somewhere, either.

Anyway, on THIS trip it was just us gals. Lori was, and I would imagine still is, a hoot. En route we flirted with truck drivers, missed a turn-off, and discovered a gigantic, illuminated cross on the side of the highway. It assured us that Jesus Saves, and we felt pretty good about that. Plus right after that, around Havre De Grass Maryland we spotted a bunch of signs for Walt Whitman stuff including a delightful curiosity called Walt's Whitmart. I have checked repeatedly and the place is no longer there. I'd give my right arm to see it if it were.

Where was I? Havre De Grass... oh yeah, en route to DC!

You might think this is going someplace salacious, and I do so hate to disappoint. We made it to DC, hung out with our two great friends, played Foosball, and toured only a few sites.

But I remember, very well, Ford's Theater. I remember looking at the balcony from which Booth jumped and fled across the stage. I remember, too, the house across the street where Lincoln was taken, and looking on the bed where he died. It seemed too small for a man known for his great stature.

Jokes about the spokes of the wheel aside, if you manage to find your way off the Beltway and get to see DC, do it. Cherry blossoms or not, you won't forget it. Even just rolling past in a Grand Marquis you get a sense of incredible power and promise from pristine white buildings around you. You stand on the Mall, or look into the Reflecting Pool, or gaze up at the Monument and find yourself unable to stifle the swell of pride.

It inspired me to become involved in political campaigns as a young person. I volunteered, stuck signs in yards, re-collected them after the elections, and yeah-- I stood there like an idiot waving at people who found me waving when all they really wanted to do was go home incredibly annoying. But I never regretted it. Campaigns are not only fun-- they are great places to learn, connect with others, and nurture a sense of responsibility for ones own community.

Anyone can pitch in, even those not old enough to vote. We seem, lately, to be stuck in CRITICISM mode in our current presidential campaign. I'm not against criticism, but I wish more people volunteered and saw, up close, how cool the process is. And once or twice I worked for somebody I genuinely, deeply believed in. I've screamed and cried when the numbers came in and an entire ballroom of workers exploded with the joy of victory. I've stood ankle-deep in paper and empty paper cups with my arms around another campaign-rat, limp and weeping when victory slipped away. In recent years I've even been lucky enough to write a few words for local, low-level hopefuls.

So often when we think of democracy, of patriotism, of great oratory in American politics Lincoln comes to mind. Most of us can quote some of his Gettysburg Address. He reunited a bleeding nation, and gave the ultimate sacrifice.

When you think about those who have died for their country it's hard to find the snarky jokes and stupid soundbites amusing. But there is, of course, a great deal of slapstick in politics and that's as it should be. It can be sombre and moving, but it can also be a great deal of fun.

Plus-- and this is a secret tip from my days of misspent youth-- all the really dorky campaign geek guys? They grow up to be incredibly smart, incredibly well-connected dudes who drive nice cars.

For serious. You should totally volunteer!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Why are the girls going wild?

If you stay up late enough, you’ll see the “infomercials”. If you don’t have your safety setting high enough on the search engines, you’ll see the images when you are absently looking for “spring break” images to inspire your theme post about Spring Break.

Girls Gone Wild

For a trucker hat. Seriously?

So I poked around a little. What makes a young woman in graduate school lift her shirt for a trucker hat? A lot of them believe they are feminists. They are taking back images that were once viewed as oppressive to women. They wear “Porn Star” t-shirts. They get boob jobs. They wear the Playboy logo with pride. They are reclaiming their sexuality in much the same way that some homosexuals and African-Americans reclaim derogatory names.


I have to disagree.

For one thing, their reclamations are making someone a lot of money. And it isn’t them. Guy that owns GGW brings in at least five million dollars a year. This is the same guy who made his first million on snuff films. Real class act he is.

And I don’t really buy that “if you can’t fight them, join them” is really taking anything back. I do understand the need to be rebellious and a little wild. And the need to show society that you are not your mom. And to own your sexuality.

But for a trucker hat?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spring Breakin' out...

I've never had the fortune of going on what you'd consider a "true spring break" in the wild and crazy sense. Definitely not in the Girls Gone Wild sense, that's for sure. (But that's a good thing.)

I don't think I'd really want to, either. Not my style. I may be liberal politically, but my everyday sense is actually quite conservative and reserved. (Those stories you've heard are all lies, I tell you! Lies!)

Sure, I used to enjoy Myrtle Week in college (the week after exams, where everyone at my school would drive down to Myrtle Beach for some fun in the sun), but in a much quieter way than most of my sorority sisters. We'd party on my b-day (Cinco de Mayo), but then I'd spend the rest of the trip just laying out and relaxing instead of hitting on random guys.

In college, I generally went back to NJ to visit my parents over Spring Break. Once I went to some first-round NCAA games, however.

That's what Spring Break always meant for me in college. One thing, and one thing

If you've read my previous post, then you probably think I'm a prissy little girly girl. And in many ways, I kinda am. And I totally don't think my college hoops obsession makes me any less girly. I just think it's normal.

See, my parents met on the steps of the graduate student dorm at Duke. My dad went there for undergrad, too, as did his dad before him. So I was reared on a steady diet of Duke basketball from about the time I could string together the sentence "Go Devils!"

There was no question where I wanted to go for college, especially with the fabulous back-to-back National Championships that occured when I was in junior high and high school.

So it was normal for me to spend Spring Break following the team, either on TV or in person.

On Saturday night we'll have the first ever Final Four with all #1 seeds, as UCLA and Memphis meet at 6 pm EST and Kansas and UNC afterwards. As cool as it is to see this historic meeting, I'm feeling rather bittersweet that Duke isn't among them.

Clearly I have to root for Memphis to beat UCLA. Why? Well, UCLA leads the nation in number of NCAA Tourney wins, and I want them to slow down so Coach K may eventually get a chance to catch up. And clearly I have to root for Kansas over UNC, because as a Duke grad, it's my solemn duty. I'm sworn to cheer against our bitter rivals to the end.

Unless Duke had made it to the Final Four this year, in which case I would root for UNC over Kansas, because I'd love for Duke and UNC to face off in the finals. Coolest. Game. Ever.

Speaking of UNC, I got married on the same night as the Duke-UNC game a few years back. I know, I know. Not too smart of me, and I always swore I'd never schedule a wedding in between November and April. But in my defense, the Duke-UNC game never used to be on a Saturday was always Sunday afternoon! But ESPN decided Sat nite would be a better TV draw, so I had a bunch of pissed off wedding guests. LOL!

There's a fun pic of me and my maid of honor watching the game in the hotel bar. Needless to say, Mr. Brice was not amused...

So what about you? What did you do for Spring Break? Was basketball ever part of the agenda? Do you even care about the NCAA Tourney? LOL!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


My family and I have never done anything really fun for spring break. In fact, my kiddos were on spring break last week, and guess what we did--NOTHING. haha. We chilled at home, watching TV or movies, while I did some writing.

Even as a teen, I didn't do the traditional spring break adventures.

So why didn't I ever go buck-wild, darting down to Florida to shake my can at party central? Why didn't I ever go trekking across country, exploring states west of the Missippippi river? Why didn't I hop on a plane and head somewhere tropical for a week?

Well, partly because I was always broke. haha. Money can play a big factor in what you can do. But another part was that I just wasn't like that. Not that my friends would believe me now, but I was pretty reserved in school. I wasn't a party girl at all.

Do I miss not having wild adventures as a teen? Not so much. As a grownup, I can do all that and more, and it's perfectly legal. haha. Not only that, but I can plan the trip as I want it. I went to Hawaii all by myself a few years ago, and guess what I did--hardly anything! I lounged on the beach, went to happy hours at whim, and took scads of pictures. I napped when I was sleepy, did tourist things when it suited me, and ate whenever I was hungry.

Could I have done that if I'd had a group of friends or family with me? Hardly.

So, what's the lesson here? It's okay to be lame in school if you eventually try to be not lame as a grown-up. Okay, that's a dumb lesson.

The better lesson--wait until you can afford to go places as an adult, and then do whatever the crap you want. Yeah, that's better...LOL

Did you guys ever go anywhere cool for spring break? Share!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Guyliner: Hot or Not?

If you're a rocker or a member of young Hollywood's Emo crowd, guyliner seems to be all the rage. Guyliner is pretty much what it sounds like - eyeliner for guys. Question is, what do you think of it? Sure Johnny Depp's Captain Sparrow makes it look hot, but can you see the captain of the football team rocking that look? Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz is another guyliner fan.

There are even some companies making cosmetics (eyeliner, mascara and skin products) specifically for men now. Doesn't look like this trend is going away any time soon. What's next? Guys in blush? What do you think about guyliner? Is it hot or not?