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Life in the Express Lane: Potty Talk

So, I was ringing up an order yesterday and the woman said to me, “I hate buying toilet paper, it’s like, so embarrassing.”

Pretty sure I gave her this look:

What I wish I had said:

“Oh, my God that is so true. I mean what could be more embarrassing than having a complete stranger know that I—gasp— wipe!”

It has since occurred to me that her comment derives from a far more serious issue. Our economy relies heavily on selling people products that they don’t actually need. (No, I’m not including toilet paper on this list, so bear with me.) To get us to buy personal care items they must first convince us that there is something horribly wrong with our bodies in their natural state. For example, we should never, ever emit any odor that has not been created in a laboratory, packaged in plastic, and put on a store shelf for purchase. Well, not unless we naturally smell like this:

Before the beauty industry existed people were far more accepting of their natural odors. I recently read that in Elizabethan times women would place a peeled apple under their arm- pit, and after it had fully absorbed their odor, share it with their suitor. Yum. (Please understand, I’m not suggesting we return to this practice.)

And then there’s the subject of hair. If you are a woman it is no longer acceptable to have hair anywhere other than the top of your head.

Unless of course, it’s here:

Arm -pit hair bad. Eyelashes good.

“What? You still have hair down there? Oh, my God that is so disgusting! I know a nice woman who will gladly apply a wax strip and tear that shit right off! Here’s her card, don’t forget to mention my name, I get a discount for every hairy crotch I send her.”

Done? Great. Now we are one step closer to everyone looking like this:

Of course, we have heads. And if you’re female you’d better being using a whole lot of this:

And if you are male you should look like this:

Oh wait, that’s Johnny. How did he get in here? Sorry, guys.

So, um, moving on, my point is that we are constantly being bombarded with the message that we must do this:

So that we will never return to the days of this:

And a result, some people have become so detached from their own bodies, and all the ‘gross’ stuff that goes on in it every day, that they can’t even admit to doing this:

It’s not that I think we should freely discuss our bathroom habits at the dinner table, or in the checkout line (God no, please don’t do that) but I do think people should be more aware of the messages we receive hundreds of times a day, and where they come from. The beauty industry, the porn industry, etc. We should stop letting marketers shame us into despising our own bodies.

We all pee, people. (Some of us far too often, but that’s another story.) And poop. Yes, even you dear customer buying the jumbo pack of TP. And we all know you do it. (Insert evil laugh here.)

So, it’s Wednesday again, and you all know what means.

Happy Hump Day Everyone!

(Unless you work in one of those industries where days of the week mean nothing, and this is actually your Monday or your Friday, and there is no hump to be getting over, in which case I’m wishing you a happy whatever day.)

For those who feel the urge to comment, I’ve made it real easy. Just click on Leave a reply and type your insightful message into the box. You’re not required to put in an email address, but please tell me who you are so I can make fun of you—I mean thank you— later.


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Maps, Outlines, and Driving in the Dark


I’m not good at finding places, especially not at night. Jim is the one who made sure the kids got to all of their sporting events on time. He usually coached, and I worked a lot of evenings so this arrangement worked for us. But there was this one time when Jim had a work thing, and I was responsible for getting my son to the first basketball game of the first tournament with a new team. I want to call it the ‘elite’ league because I don’t remember what it was actually called. I do remember this game being a big deal. And we were late. And I could not find the building. (No I-phones or GPS back then.) My stress level kept rising. It did not help that my preschool- aged nephew, who I happened to be babysitting that day, was in the back seat saying, “You need a map Aunt Tammy,” over and over again.

I woke up from a nightmare this morning, about a dark and stormy night—no wait, that’s a different story, it just very dark–and I was by myself driving on an unfamiliar highway. There was a sign, but I didn’t recognize the name of the road ahead. It went up the side of a mountain. There were no lights and no guardrails and no houses on either side, just a road. I had no idea where it would take me and I was terrified. At the last second, a turnaround miraculously appeared. I took it. My fear instantly ceased. I was heading back to the familiar.

I’ve been struggling to finish my book, a thriller of sorts (Or is it a suspense? Psychological suspense? Genre still confounds me.) Every time I get to a certain point, around 100 pages, I get stuck. Each time, I end up turning around and going back to the beginning. I start over. And over and…well, you get the idea. I’ve always resisted the idea of an outline. “Writing the story won’t be any fun if I know everything that happens!” It’s also not much fun to be the hamster, stuck in a cage, running on a wheel. Sure, it’s good exercise, but when you stop, you’re still in the same place. You’re also still trapped. (I know, I’ll start a petition to free all rodents everywhere!) I also have a little procrastination problem, but that’s another subject.

So, I woke up from my nightmare this morning with the words, “You need a map Aunt Tammy,” going through my head. Wise kid. I need to figure out exactly where this story is going, or I will never reach the end. And I need to get over my fear of the dark.

In case you’re wondering, I did eventually get my son to his basketball game. When we arrived, there was a volunteer sitting at a desk blocking our way into the gym. Turns out, there is a small fee for these tournaments. Cash only, of course. And no, I did not have any on me.

“What the hell do you mean, I have to pay to watch my own kid throw a ball through a hoop!”

Did I mention I was a little stressed? I think I ended up borrowing money from the coach’s wife. The rest of that night is fuzzy.

Well, I guess it’s time to start on my outline. After I eat breakfast and read the paper, of course.

Happy Hump Day!


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Fantasy vs. Reality: author photos

Once upon on a time, when I lived in a fantasy world, and still held out hope of being a rich and famous author, I thought it was important that I have a professional, and glamorous photo taken for my future book jacket cover. At the time, I thought all authors were supposed to look like Jackie Collins or Catherine Coulter. So, I had this done:

To be clear, the only reason I’m making this photo public is that I believe it’s important not to take oneself too seriously. Laughing at yourself is almost as much fun as laughing at other people, but no one gets mad at you for it!

So, the other day, around noon, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror and was greeted by this:

Still in my pajamas, hair sticking up, wearing the back- up eye -glasses that Jim rightly calls, ‘hideous’. I know enough writers to say with confidence that the second photo is a more accurate portrayal of the author lifestyle. And the glasses aren’t that bad are they?

In other news, my free promotion was a success. More than 500 copies of Playing House and Cousin Q. have been downloaded in the last five days! Won’t you all join me now in my fantasy world where we will pretend that this is every bit as exciting as if people had actually paid for them? (Actually, it kind of is for me. I care more about entertaining people than making money. Not that there is anything wrong with combining the two.)

Now, get out your old glamor shots everyone, and share them on Facebook so we can laugh—uh, I mean admire them with you!

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Hump Day is upon us…but not on us, that would be weird.

So, I thought I was getting wordpress figured out, but I’m still struggling a bit. It took me two days to find the comments people made (thank you Tina, Patty, and Heidi) and I still don’t know why they won’t show up on the page. I’ve searched my site. I’ve tried changing settings. I’ve googled it several times. I’m still lost and confused…nothing new for me, unfortunately.

Patty—I’m glad you like the site. Thanks for stopping by.

Tina—I changed the settings on comments to make it as easy as possible to leave a comment. You shouldn’t have to put in your name or email. Crossing my fingers that it worked.

Heidi—you’re right, I did leave out the part about me having awesome kids on my about page. Since you brought up, I’m going to share my favorite stories about you and your brother. Nothing embarrassing, I promise.

Andy was quite young the day he threw me a football, and it hit me in the face and broke my glasses. My head was turned and I didn’t see it coming, though with my lack of athletic ability I probably wouldn’t have caught it even if I had. While I was mourning my glasses, Jim was rejoicing, because not only was it a good strong throw, it was done with his left hand. Andy would be a left-handed pitcher! I’ve since learned that this is a good thing. Andy did pitch all the way through high school. He became as big a baseball fan as his father. He even writes articles about fantasy baseball for a site called Roto-baller. Check it out. He’s good.(I’m only a little jealous that he writes much faster than I do.)

One of my favorite memories of Heidi is the day I came outside to find her riding a bike. I asked Andy, “When did she learn how to do that?” He shrugged, “She just did it.” When he got home from work, Jim asked the same question, and got the same answer. I hate to sound like an advertisement for Nike, but there is something to be said for “Just doing it.” Heidi recently spent six weeks learning how to survive in the wilderness. I panic at the idea of an hour without electricity. She can make fire. It takes courage to live life your own way, by your own ideals. She doesn’t just talk about it. She does it.

So, in celebration of the first week of my new site, I’m giving away my books. They’re free until Saturday. The e-version anyway.

Happy Hump Day!