Orange Hair is NOT Amusing

So, among other quirky things about my house you didn’t know, is the fact that the hose pipe in the back yard connects off of my water heater. I don’t know why it does, but it does. There’s a reason I am telling you this. It’s because of the orange hair. Yes, you heard me. Orange hair. ORANGE. Not soft orange, not naturally occurring in nature orange, not attractive orange. ORANGE, like creepy clown in the sewer orange. Are we all on the same page now?

I have grey and silver hair. I have a lot of grey and silver hair. I usually dye it back to my youthful dark brown, but guys, I’ve been dyeing my hair for over 30 years, and I am sick of doing it. Since silver and grey hair is all the rage right now, I figured it would be a good time to embrace my granny hair and escape the dye trap. I wanted to do it yesterday while herself was still in the hospital because to strip color off of your hair is a smelly process. In fact, it smells like egg farts and fireplace matches.  I figured she didn’t need the aromatherapy, so with a plan in place, I left the hospital and headed for the beauty supply, where I picked up a box of maximum strength egg farts Color Oops. I bet you’re trying to figure out what this has to do with the hose pipe, huh? I’m getting to that.

So color lifter in hand, I strip to my unmentionables, and get to work on my mass of hair.  I read the directions three times to make sure I knew what I was doing. I put the stuff in my hair, put the bag on my head, and waited the requisite 20 minutes. As I was stripping out of even my unmentionables, I heard a lawn mower roar to life, but thought nothing of it, as I live in a tidy neighborhood where someone is always mowing their lawn. Rinse hair in warm water for 20 minutes, it said. Then wash it with additional 5 minute rinses for a total of 3 washes and 4 rinses. In warm water. Warm water is apparently pretty damned important. I’m 7 minutes into my first rinse when the water pressure sort of drops. O-kaaaaaay. Roughly 60 seconds later I have zero hot water. None. I stick my head out of my shower long enough to realize it’s my lawn being mowed. Well crap. It’s my friend’s very well-intentioned mother, having my yard done for me. Which includes watering my plants. With the hose pipe out back, the very one connected to my water heater.

I turn off all the cold water, hoping to persevere, and call said friend on my cell. “Tell whoever is out there to turn off the hose,” I screech. “I’m in the shower with color lifter on my hair and I have to have hot water!” Now, to be fair, I’d probably laugh a bit if I was on the receiving end of that call, but I was on the sending end, and I was NOT laughing. To give her credit, she tried. She failed, but she tried. So did I. I made it to the second wash and rinse in thoroughly cold water before just giving up. I step out of the shower, look in the mirror, and start crying. My hair is as orange as it can possibly be.  How can I go out in public like this? It’s like Sun-In gone horribly wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. A fact that provided my friend loads of amusement. The more she laughed the more the tears came. I was a wreck. I was also trapped, as I had no idea who was in my yard and I had open blinds and a towel. I ended up sitting in my closet until they left so I could get dressed.

The good thing about Color Oops is that if you don’t follow the directions to a tee, it doesn’t work. As my hair dried, it oxidized, getting darker as time went by. I ended up with a copper color on top, with a sort of an hombre down to dark brown on the ends. It’s not great, but at least it’s not orange any more. And I am very appreciative of having my yard done. But herself is home now, and so she will be on hose duty tomorrow while I try to do something to fix this. She has my permission to shoot people in the face with a bazooka if they go near the hose pipe until I am done. I’ll just put a clothes pin on her nose to deal with the smell.

Advertisements

Livin’ La Vida Hospital

Yes, oh yes, we are back in the hospital. It’s like a second home for vacations or something, only not fun sand and sun filled vacations. More like an antiseptic and test tube filled vacation. I swear, you know you’ve been here a lot when nurses on other floors pop in to say hello. Housekeeping too. They like us because I try to keep the room tidy.  I’ve gotten used to writing from just about anywhere in this past year. I adapt. I take what’s available and make it work. Like this…

ohdeargod

Yes, I looked like death. She was in the hospital and looked 1000 times better than I did. What can I say. Hospital visits wear on me, and in my defense, I was sick as a dog myself when she took this picture. I was rocking a combination UTI and stomach virus. I lost 10 pounds that week, but I don’t recommend it as a diet plan. And yes, that is a bedside potty I was using as a desk. Adaptability matters, okay?

This visit is not as hard on me, as I am not quietly wishing to die. She’s having a bit of a rougher time this trip. But I am a mom with a vengeful nature, and she took that picture and posted it on Facebook for the world to see. So, in retaliation, meet my kid…

ashinbed

Now before you jump all over me for doing this, she is sick but recovering, and she is sleeping like a rock in this picture. As I type this she is chatting with her nurse and getting ready to take meds. I am sitting on the sofa, lablet on the potty chair, typing away. This is hospital life. May it soon be a thing of the past for her.

I think I strained my whatchamacallit

When I bought my house, I was gifted a nifty 1970’s desk that has real potential. Yes, I like kitsch. So anyway, I set up the spare bedroom as my office, a thing I have wanted since the beginning of time. A mom cave; my own space to do my writing, surfing, kibbitzing, and daydreaming. It was awesome! I had the desk, a couple of cute chairs and an occasional table, even a smallish grandfather clock. There’s a nice size window that lets in the morning sun, limiting my need for the kinda crappy overhead light. Of course, it was still springlike outside when I did this and I was filled with joy. Until summer hit and I discovered that my central AC is central non-AC. Let’s be realistic here. I just bought a house. I don’t have a spare 5 grand laying around to replace the AC. What I have is 2 small window units and a portable AC unit that has seen better days, but only cost me $40 at the local deal-n-dash. I tried, really really tried, to tough it out in my new mom cave. That window with the morning sun made that little room hotter than the 7th circle of hell by 10 a.m. I was hot, sweaty, and stuck to everything I came in contact with. It was a miserable experience. Keeping the office intact, I took my handy dandy lablet first to the living room, and ultimately to my room. No it’s not a typo. I said lablet. It’s a Surface Pro; a little more than a tablet, but not quite a laptop. Lablet. Deal with it.

IMG_20170723_134454

I’m not a young woman anymore. I’m not old, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen my 20’s. Sitting on my bed trying to use my lablet became an exercise in constant hip and knee joint pain, not to mention the joyful feeling it gave my lower back. And since I am now doing the writing gig full time, I spend a lot of hours in front of a keyboard. Like on the order of 8-10 hours a day, depending on what I am working on. I sat on my bed because it was what there was to sit on, and it put me in close proximity of the portable AC. My entire bedroom is currently arranged around the beast, a trade off I made to avoid heat stroke on any given deep-south summer day. Not to mention the fact that it’s a lablet. It’s got a cute little purple keyboard, and a cute little kickstand, neither of which are designed to sit on the bed for hours on end to write article after article.

IMG_20170723_134532

At any rate, it was starting to affect my productivity. I was waiting until late at night to work, and rising before the sun to work, so that I could whine about my back, hips, and knees throughout the heat of the day. When you write for a news aggregation service, you can’t always do that. So this morning, I bit the bullet and decided to move the desk into my room. Holy God, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I had forgotten how awkward and heavy that damn desk is. I swear I think it is actually made out of cleverly disguised cast iron. It is definitely a solid piece of office furniture, unlike my current desk chair, which is, yes, a lawn IMG_20170723_134411chair with a cushion and a throw I crocheted while darling daughter was in the hospital. Hey, don’t judge. It works. Being the perky little go-getter than I am (stop LAUGHING!) I rearranged my bedroom and pushed, pulled, shoved, and drug the damn desk in here. It’s where I now sit, writing this post. The jury is out on if it’s cooler and more comfortable, though. With all the moving, I think I pulled something. Something vital. My whatchamacallit. That thing. Plus I’m hot and sweaty from the rearranging. So, for today, I won’t judge. If I can actually move tomorrow, we’ll see how it works.

Consumed by Old Tragedies

Do you ever watch a show or read an article, and the subject so captivates you that you cannot let it go? I do this. All the freaking time. Of course, true crime ropes me in every time. A lesser known side of me also goes through this with tales of adventure. I love learning about people and how they achieved their dreams. Then I  learn everything I can about who they are and what they are doing. Or in the latest case, what they did. Scrolling through Netflix late one night I stumbled upon a documentary, The Summit. It tells the story of a single day in August, 2008 , when 11 people lost their lives on K2. In case you haven’t heard of K2, it is the 2nd highest mountain peak in the world,  with a record of fatalities that goes back to the very first attempt to reach the summit. They say Everest is taller, but K2 is the harder climb.

Now, I know fuck-all about mountaineering, but I was instantly captivated. Among the 11 people  that died that day, one really stood out to me; Ger Mcdonnell. Part of it, I think, was the video footage of him laughing, having fun, and enjoying his life. In still shots, it seems he was always smiling, and he had a smile that could literally light up a mountain. He was, hands down, one of the most beautiful people I think I have ever seen. I don’t mean good-looking, although he was, in fact, extremely handsome. I can’t explain it, other than he had something that just radiated out of him from within, something I don’t even think he was aware of, that made him uniquely beautiful. There were no shortage of fine looking men on that slope that day. Some lived, some didn’t. But Ger McDonnell’s death is probably the first time I have ever cried like a girl watching a documentary.

Being me, I had to go find out everything I could about Ger McDonnell, K2, mountaineering, and moral codes of conduct when you are in the death zone. I think I was trying to understand why such a life was cut so short. I was trying to understand what kind of insanity propels people up the side of a mountain that could very well kill them, in an instant if they are lucky, or over the course of hours if they aren’t. I think I have a tiny glimmer of understanding now.

The adventurous side of me thinks it might be something I’d like to try. The fat girl side of me just laughs and laughs at the notion. I’d probably be more likely to sail around the world than climb any  mountains, but I get a sense of how alive it must make you feel. I’d like to feel that kind of alive, at least once, before I die.

Anyway, the point of this post is to tell you, if you like adventure, check out the story. Not just the documentary, but the story behind it. Learn about life, death, and love through the eyes of the survivors. And, just so you know, be prepared for a good, long, girly cry for the lives lost. It’s a story that will touch you in ways you never expected. At least it did for me.

Find yourself some clients, they said…

And every single thing I have ever read on the subject makes it sound just that easy.  I’m going to be honest with you here. It’s NOT easy to find clients when you are just starting out as a freelance writer. People are not going to be lining up in droves to buy your written words. A single person isn’t going to make a line of one either. It’s a bitch to get established, okay? That is why content mills wind up flooded with writers. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fairly easy money that generally requires  minimal research. The more you write, the more you make.  The editors tend to be less exhaustive, although you will get the stray editor that thinks s/he works for the Washington Post. If you’ve ever read some of the mass content presented on sites like Facebook, you understand that a lot of these people churn out garbage on a daily basis. And by garbage, I really mean garbage. If you don’t care about building a portfolio, if you don’t need clips or a byline, and f you are fluent in at least one language, then you can make some great spare cash this way. Use a little common sense, though. If you want to write for, say a Spanish audience, you’ll do much better if you are actually fluent in Spanish. Google translate can only do so much.

So, how do you go about building your portfolio, getting your clips, and seeing your byline out there? Use the rule of K.I.S.S. Keeping it simple to start is going to be your best bet. Stick to writing what you know in the beginning. You may think your research skills are phenomenal, but there’s an editor out there just waiting to tell you otherwise. If you write about something you know, you write with confidence and that shows. You’ll be amazed at how much you do know about something once you start writing about it. the words will just flow, and that saves time over struggling with every single word you type. Make sure of your sources and definitely fact-check! In the information age, there is always some armchair expert ready to troll you mercilessly over misrepresented ideology and misstated facts. Once you’ve got a handle on the basics, it’s time to find your audience.

So, go, find yourself some clients!!

Just kidding. I wouldn’t throw you out there like that. That’s how I was tossed out there years ago, and nobody should have to learn everything the hard way.  So I’m going to give you one resource I wish I had had years ago.  It’s simply this link here. This will connect you to submission guidelines for hundreds of different news and magazine titles. Back in the day, I had to go look this up in the library, one magazine at a time, and one outdated book that listed contacts and guidelines that were no longer valid. This is my gift to you. You’re welcome.

One last thing. Don’t quibble over pay to start. As a new author, you won’t win any contests doing that. Take the scale offered, and keep the ultimate goal in mind. Soon enough, you’ll get to ask for different scales based on your work, but for now, you need the exposure more.

Now.

Go find yourself some clients!

 

Big Girls and Bathtubs

It’s no secret that I have put on a few pounds in the past year. Ok, so it was more than a few. Thirty. It was thirty pounds. Living at a hospital does that to a girl, you know? Anyway, I was able to fool myself pretty well at the hospital, having a walk-in shower and all. I finally did have to accept that I am a bigger girl when I sat down in my bathtub for the first time.

It’s a standard tub, no frills, about as average as a tub can get. My fat behind barely fits. If I try to recline, my elbows are forced into my ribcage and my once-flat tummy looks like the biggest island in that stream. I’ve tried, valiantly, to lie to myself and others by saying I have one of those small tubs like you find in single wide mobile homes. Today, for reasons I refuse to examine, I decided to measure my tub. Life is cruel. Tape measures are even more cruel.

I’ve now confirmed it truly is a standard bathtub. Which is too small to be comfortable for my non-standard booty. Nothing will dash every ounce of feeble self-denial like not fitting in your own bathtub. I would vow to only shower from this point forward until I either lose weight or get a garden tub, but I can’t shave my legs in the shower. I’m not graceful  enough to pull that off, so it is much safer for me to sit in the tub.  Or in my case, ON the tub. Yes, seriously.

I started watching what I eat, cut out all but maybe one diet soft drink a day, drink plenty of water, and started exercising about a month ago. I’ve lost 2 pounds. Two. TWO!

What the hell is up with that???

Guilt or Innocence Aside, What about Due Process?

Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have been in the global spotlight since the release of the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer. A little over 10 years ago, their spotlight was much smaller, and focused with laser intensity. Everyone in Calumet and Manitowoc counties knew their names, and thanks to a couple of questionable press conferences from then special prosecutor Ken Kratz, everyone was 100% certain of their guilt. Why should they doubt it? This respected prosecutor virtually said so, complete with sordid details of a horrific crime. This was reinforced with ill-timed press conferences with Dassey defense attorney Len Kachinski basically proclaiming his own client’s guilt. It wasn’t until Making a Murderer was released that people began to see that the narrative didn’t exactly match up with the physical evidence. People began to question, perhaps for the first time, if the men incarcerated for the horrific murder of photographer Teresa Halbach were actually guilty. Both men were going through the process of appealing their guilty verdicts, with little to no success. Things had continued quietly in the background from the time of the first verdict, with little press attention, and certainly without the world watching. The world is watching now.

To say the deck was stacked against the two men would be an understatement. It was not only stacked against them, it was braced with rebar and coated in a concrete shell. Those ill advised press conferences given by not only Ken Kratz and Len Kachinsky, but also Calumet county Sheriff Jerry Pagel have come back to haunt this case time and time again. Millions of people have watched and dissected each and every televised appearance, casting those men in a decidedly unfavorable light. While the press conferences by Kratz and Kachinsky guaranteed that the jury pool was tainted and removed any hope for an impartial jury to be seated, it is a press conference by retired Sheriff Pagel that is going to cause a lot of problems now. Problems for the prosecution, though, not the defense. People all over the world have been asking why it was Manitowoc officers that found so much of the evidence, when Pagel publicly stated that they would only be used in a support capacity. Was he lying? Or was the county that was supposed to be heading up this investigation just that oblivious to what was going on around their crime scene? Neither option looks good. It should have been a lesson learned the hard way, but it wasn’t.

Ken Kratz still makes public appearances, peddling his book , and loudly and vociferously proclaiming he was right to anyone who will listen. His fiancee, who must have been about 15 at the time of the original trial, has made a Twitter career of doing the same. Len Kachinsky still gives interviews trying to affirm his former clients guilt, while simultaneously trying to make himself appear to be the victim of an unjust system. And then there is Michael Griesbach, who has authored a pro-guilt book about the case, and most recently has penned an op-ed piece attempting to do damage control from the previous press conferences and still sway the public opinion towards guilt. His way of doing this is nowhere near as graphic and sweaty as Ken Kratz’ was, but is actually more disturbing on a fundamental level. He ridicules Avery’s post-conviction counsel, Kathleen Zellner in a shallow and obvious way, claiming she seeks two things she already has; fame and fortune. He takes potshots at Making a Murderer filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi for daring to profit from making the film, and flaunting it by buying a house. While petulant in tone, these are no cause for actual concern.

What is cause for concern though, is his repeated public apologies to the Halbach family for these men appealing their convictions. He makes it sound as if they have found a way to circumvent the system strictly to add pain and grief to the Halbach family. Surely he doesn’t mean to imply that these men are not entitled to due process, as afforded to every citizen of the United States. He can’t possibly mean to imply that both the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution are actually not worth the paper they are printed on? It is Due Process and it is 100% guaranteed to these men, regardless of guilt or innocence. It is their right, under the laws governing our country, to be able to appeal their respective verdicts. What’s more, the Halbach family should have been told at the time of the original convictions to expect this to happen. Ongoing public apologies here are only for grandstanding in an attempt to continue to sway public opinion. What happened to the Halbach family is something most people will never have to face. Apologies cannot make it any better, no matter how heartfelt and sincere. Insincere apologies by rote are a slap in the face, and more vile than any fantasy Kratz could author. It seems that if Manitowoc et al were as certain of the convictions as they claim to be, they would say nothing at all, letting the facts speak for themselves, privately keeping the Halbach family abreast of the ongoing procedural volleys and what to expect. They don’t seem to know, or care, that the more they talk, the less believable they become. Perhaps radio silence while they dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s would be better. That way, if they missed something, some vital clue that could lead them to the real killer(s), they’d be one step ahead of the game when these convictions are vacated. The Halbach family has the deepest sympathy of the world for their loss, and for the failure of the system that has yet to find and convict whomever was responsible. The murder of Teresa Halbach has been lost amid the vanities and egos of lesser men who cannot understand that they are not gods.