Marilyn Pappano

Have you ever heard of the author Marilyn Pappano?? Yeah… me neither. She has written over 80 books… but they fall under the ROMANCE genre, which isn’t something I read normally. Her latest… A Hero To Come Home To… has been on many ‘must read’ lists lately so I thought I’d check her out.

She wrote an essay on the topic ‘Why I Write’. My jaw dropped as I read it. Except for a paragraph towards the end… I could have written this exact essay!!! It was almost like she read my mind and wrote it all down. Well… and of course I haven’t written any books yet, so there’s that portion to omit.

I rejoice!!! I am not alone!!! I’m not crazy!! OK… I went a little far… but I’m sure you get my drift. Read the essay below and tell me what you think.

Copied from the Publlishers Weekly site… dated November 8, 2013 is her essay:

When I told my mom the news of my very first book sale, she heaved a sigh of relief. “So you’re not weird, after all. You’re a writer, and writers are supposed to be eccentric.”

That, in its simplest form, is why I write. It’s not what I do; it’s who I am. Though, yeah, it was nice having an excuse for my persistent weirdness

But there are other reasons. I write to escape, to grow, to make use of a world where I don’t always fit in. I write to share my emotions and opinions, to make sense of life, and to use up the surplus of words that float around in my brain. I’ve always been a talker, and if not for the outlet the books provide, people would be hugely sick of my voice.

I find sanctuary in writing. The real world can be a brutal place. Really, what control do we have in our lives? So many of the decisions that make or break us are out of our hands. We have to deal with politicians, corporations, the unfairness of life, the ugliness of the human condition. We can work our very hardest, do our very best, and still fail.

But the worlds in my head (always two or three of them at any given time): those are mine. I am in control. I am the queen of everything that happens in them. There is no problem facing my characters that I cannot make better, no hurt I can’t fix, no happiness I can’t express. The scariness of life, disappointment, betrayal, chaos, peace, death, love, hate, guilt, indifference, heartache—with all those excess words looking for an outlet, I can make things right for those characters.

I not only get to provide cheap entertainment for myself, which is pretty cool, but I can entertain other people. Readers have shared their fears with me, their memories, their low points, and their hopes for high points, and they do it because I’ve written characters going through what they’re going through. I may not have personal experience, but I have loads of empathy, and those wonderful words help that to come across.

When I was a kid, words weren’t so lovely. I had a speech problem, and only those closest to me could understand me. Kids teased, and teachers got exasperated. Two great things came out of it: my love of reading (books didn’t laugh) and my habit of observing others at any and all times. I still do both, still love both, and put them together in every page I write.

I write because I’m eccentric, and because words have the power to wound but also to heal, to enlighten and encourage and entertain and amuse, and to satisfy a yearning in all of us. And because words are also truth, I do it because I really am weird. And I’m okay with that, because I am a writer.

And here’s another blurb from her that totally resonates with me. Taken from her blog…

Saving Words

I’m never at a loss for words. I can easily say in a hundred words what someone else can say in ten. Like Seinfeld, I can talk a lot about nothing.

But sometimes I find myself at a loss for meaningful words. My husband asked me what it felt like when I get a particular vertebrae that gives me a lot of trouble adjusted, and all I could come up with was, “Good.” I’m pretty sure that if I put myself into a character who was asked the same question, I could describe the touch of the hands; the pressure, gentle at first, then increasing; the hard push; the twist of the hands; the loud craack!; the instant of pain, followed by warmth and tingling; then the relief.

I hear about someone who’s going through a tough time, and I say, “Poor thing” or “Bless her heart,” when the heroine in my current book would say, “Oh, that poor darlin’. That just breaks my heart. I can’t imagine where she’ll find the strength to get through this, but I’ll pray that she does, and you tell her, if there’s anything I can do for her, just let me know.” While my heroine in my other current book would say, “Geez, that sucks. She must have really pissed off the universe. If I were her, I’d have a couple drinks, put on my boots and start kicking ass. And there wouldn’t be any taking of names.”

It’s not that I don’t feel/know/understand things. I just put all those feelings/knowledge/understanding into books instead. In real life, “good” is good enough for me.

Like I said… I don’t read ROMANCE… but I’ll be honest, if her books are anything like these examples I might have to pick one up and give it a try.

For more information on Marilyn… check out her site at www.marilynpappano.net

Where Could She Have Gone? – DP #168

microchipRecently I have spent quite a few hours of my day tracking down Alzheimer and Dementia patients, and the elderly. One of them decided she was ready to leave the ski lodge (in reality she was a patient in a hospital), and TWICE got dressed and left the floor. Another woke up earlier than normal, thought she had an exercise class (wrong day) and took off. I had to track her down to administer her morning medication. Lastly… another decided it was time for dinner (at 11:00am) and wanted to eat with her friend in another building… so boarded the local shuttle bus. I caught her JUST as she was boarding. All of this happened within 5 days!!!

I began thinking that microchipping would be a good idea!! Computer research through Google made me realize this was not a stellar idea. There are already companies that provide this service… but the more I read, the more it became clear this is not what I needed. I didn’t want anyone to have access to their personal information, or medical records. I just wanted to locate them when they weren’t where they were supposed to be. None of them carry cell phones.

Hospitals require all patients to wear an ID bracelet while admitted which have the ability to place a chip in that band for location purposes. In addition to the chip, hiring a person to sit in the room of the ‘flight risk’.. took care of the person fleeing the ‘ski lodge’.

I had to research more for the other ‘runners’. I later learned there are GPS shoes… Kind of like a Lo-Jack system for humans. Shoes with a little chip implanted in the heel for location information. That is more what I envisioned… but what if they didn’t want to wear that pair of shoes that particular day?

Months ago on FaceBook I kept getting an advertisement for something called ‘The Tile’. If I remember correctly it’s a small triangle you attach to your key ring that acts as a location device when you misplace your keys. I believe it could also be used for other things like your glasses. Hmmmm… maybe THAT’s the answer. I could tag the ladies’ keys. They always have their apartment keys when leaving. Now… I wonder… does it use a computer to relay their position… or does it just ‘ping’ until you hear it? Pinging wouldn’t help unless they were close to me. Nine times out of ten they are in another building. I guess I’ll have to look into it.

Also while researching I read microchipping autistic children has also been considered, as they tend to wander off and get lost frequently. A school in Santa Fe had each student carry an ID tag with a location chip in it. That caused concern because it also worked outside of the building and kids who skipped classes were getting caught and brought back (and that’s a BAD thing?). I know… privacy issues and violations of their personal life… yadda, yadda. As a parent I wouldn’t have minded at all.

Personally I don’t believe in microchipping people. However… having some kind of GPS tracking on the elderly who tend to roam is looking better and better to me. What do YOU think??? Have you ever had to deal with this?? How?

I Miss My Bed – DP#168

Traveling gets ‘old’. I have had to spend quite a bit of time out-of-state recently. Staying with family members, sleeping in hotels, schlepping my bags around, living out of a suitcase, cooking dinner in a hotel microwave. It wears on a person.

This was one of those quick trips that turned into something longer and more intense. Thank heavens I have wonderful neighbors who were able to accept unplanned UPS deliveries and place them inside my house while I was away.

My first night was spent at a family member’s up north. I love visiting this couple. They are loving and friendly… good conversationalist… and I get to sleep in the EAST WING servants quarters!! The bath is an old-fashioned claw foot tub with a hand-held shower spray. The only major drawback is the tub is centered in front of a window that faces the street… and has no curtain. It DOES have an electric candle on a timer… for better ambience while bathing 🙂

The bed is comfortable enough… but the house is C-O-L-D and you have to be weighted down with lots of blankets. Personally I like that… although my nose sticks out from under the covers and gets cold.

Turning over in bed becomes a challenge. I have a king sized mattress at home… all to myself. I can roll from side to side, or twirl around to my heart’s content. In this twin size bed… once I break free of the weight of the covers… I have to FLIP over. TWICE I almost ended up on the floor.

Next I stayed in a hotel for a few nights. It was a really nice hotel and spa. They have a special room rate for family visiting with hospital patients, so I got a fabulous room for a fraction of the regular rack rate. The double bed was outfitted with luxurious linens and pillows; but let me ask you… why does the hotel industry think one person needs so many pillows???

neat pillows

 

And what are you supposed to do with the ones you don’t need? Throwing them on the floor didn’t seem like the right thing to do. I ended up pushing them off to one side… and carefully sleeping next to them. In the morning they were all bunched up… requiring the staff to strip the cases and waste water to launder them.

messy pillows

 

I love my bed… and am so happy to be able to sleep in it… at least for a few nights. Before you know it I’ll be off and running again!

Sweet dreams!

Mmmm… Coconut and Lime – DP#167

Running errands this morning I bumped into a friend I haven’t seen in a while.

“Wow!! You look great! There must be a new man in your life.” She said

“Nope.” I replied. “I’ve lost some weight, but didn’t realize you could notice under all these jackets.”

“No, that’s not it. You have that ‘Sexy, satisfied in the bedroom’ look going on.” She said, as she waved her hand in a circle in front of my face.

All I could do was laugh!!! Catching a glimpse of myself in the store window I tried to see what she did. All I noticed was my hair was messy (because I let it dry naturally instead of blowing it dry) and I wasn’t wearing any make up. To me I had that ‘au natural’… washed out look going on. Shrugging my shoulders and turning back to her we continued talking about our kids and the bitter cold weather.

“Oh… and you smell nice.” She exclaimed while sniffing the air.

Ah… now I get it. I had to explain that I’m taking advantage of being an empty nester. Most people who know me are aware I take extremely quick showers. Not being a ‘girly girl’ I jump in, soap up, rinse, and hop out. Lately however, since I have no one around to knock on the door, or need me for anything, I am learning to take my time and enjoy the moment.

Lighting a scented candle, filling the tub with hot water and bubbles, and luxuriating with a glass of wine is something I have NEVER had the time to do before. Now all I have is time. Too much time. Hey, a single girl’s got to find SOMETHING to do with her evenings.

So I decided to declare a ‘SPA NIGHT’ every so often. I purchased all new loofas, body wash and ‘girly stuff’. Oh… and the reason I smelled so good??? I used a new body scrub scented with coconut and lime. Cocktails anyone???

My low self esteem raised a few notches realizing someone noticed. I guess I’ll have to hold spa nights more often.

Spa Night

 

National Polka Dot Day – DP#166

Polka Dots paper

 

I absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt L-O-V-E Polka Dots!!! My day is filled with them!!! From hand drawn gift wrap paper…

Polka Dot socks

 

to countless pairs of socks…

Polka Dot pillow

 

to decorating the Living Room with Polka Dot Pillows. Not to mention…

Polka Dot Suitcase

 

My easily identifiable suitcase! I’m speckled with goosebumps about dots!!

National Polka Dot Day is ALWAYS January 22nd. Officially no one has taken ownership of the day. There is only one mention of it many years ago… and then the trail runs cold. Quilters have resurrected it recently by holding special sales on fabric with Polka Dots… which is how I became aware of it’s existence.

I contacted a few people in charge of registering ‘official’ days and was told I could take the helm and forever more be in charge of National Polka Dot Day. I haven’t decided if I want that responsibility… so for now I’m just passing along the message.

If you own anything with Polka Dots… bring it out into the light!!! In the meantime I plan to wear my Pink Polka Dot Pajamas to bed tonight.

Let me be the first to wish you a Happy National Polka Dot Day!!!

Staples vs USPS Union workers… and rate hike.

Oh brother… here I go again!!

It seemed the big headliner news yesterday was that Staples was putting Post Offices in their stores… and GASP… NOT hiring USPS Union workers.

Well… let me tell you from experience why this headline is a crock!

I used to operate my own private post office. Yes folks… even YOU can own one, with the USPS’ blessing. Once you fill out the forms, choose a location, negotiate a percentage, and survive the extensive background check, you can then possibly be approved to run your very own CONTRACT POSTAL UNIT (known as a CPU). Trust me… it’s not worth the effort.

All of your equipment, supplies, posters, and furniture is provided by USPS and will always remain their property. In a nutshell… you can provide all the services you want, except Money Orders. You become a drop station. As in… customers can mail packages and letters, receive additional services like tracking, certified mail, etc. However… you are NOT a regional office and customers can not pick up their packages if they receive a notice and such.

Once a letter or package comes over the counter you place it in a bin. At that point it becomes the property of the US Government. Anyone stealing from you is in lots of hot water as it becomes a Federal Offense… even if all they take is a stick of gum. A postal employee will come at a predetermined time to pick up the letters and packages… and take them to a postal facility.

You must sell everything for exactly the same price as regulated by the USPS. You can not up charge for stamps or services like the small UPS Shipping stores do. YOUR money comes from the percentage off those prices you receive because you were such a fantastic negotiator in the beginning. You can earn extra profits by selling packaging supplies.

The percentage you get BARELY covers your expenses. At the very least you need to factor in… One employee, electricity, rent for square footage used, hard wire computer line, phone line to transmit data, and shipping labels for the specific machine you MUST use (and they are NOT cheap). If you try to negotiate a higher percentage… you will not be approved. It really is a tight rope walk.

The Union is not happy because the owners are not required to hire Union workers. First off… it is basically a private post office and really doesn’t require a union worker. Secondly… A Union worker typically earns MORE than the earned percentage. But more importantly… the Union itself just wants to stir the pot (Shocking… I know!). Here’s why…

All CPUs are assigned a ‘home’ Post Office. The ‘home’ PO is responsible for you. They are the ones that pick up your bin, they are the ones you call if there is a question, that is the PO you are to direct customers to if you can’t (or don’t want to) handle a package. That particular PO gets ‘credit’ for the volume of mail you send in. The more mail moving through a particular facility… the larger operating budget they are given to PERHAPS hire more employees to handle the increased volume. You and I both know it never really works out that way.

In the larger picture… A new CPU theoretically DOES mean more Union workers… just not at the point of service, rather at the facility. During my CPU training I was warned that some day my store might be picketed by Union workers. It never happened. I DID however have a few employees stop by to ‘chat’. They were quiet and orderly. I explained my position, told them they had 2 extra employees because of me… and that I was doing a lot of their work for them… in essence I was helping them, not hindering. Of course they told me that was not the message they were receiving from the Union. They thanked me, and left quietly.

If there is no money to be made owning a CPU, why would Staples want to place them in their stores??? Easy… to gain more regular customers… and to sell more shipping supplies. When you think about it… the idea is an excellent business move on their part. Their shelves are already filled with everything a person needs to ship a package. As a customer wouldn’t you rather have to make only one stop to wrap and ship a package… in addition to paying the same price and not the highly inflated ones offered by other ‘shipping’ stores? While there you might realize you need ink for your printer too. Also… Staples has better operating hours than a traditional post office.

I only hope they actually hire a staff member to run that part of the store… and not make the already overworked people in the Printing Department handle it. Trying to get someone to help you with the copy machines is already hard enough. If they have to run the CPU too I haven’t got a prayer.

And that’s MY two cents on the subject! WHICH by the way, won’t cover the stamp increase to $.49 on January 26th. Buy a few sheets of FOREVER STAMPS NOW!!!

 

 

Disneyland! – DP#165

I just returned from a long weekend in….

Disney;and Balloon

 

Disneyland (in California… NOT Disney World in Florida). I think the flight there and back was longer than my stay 🙂

My daughter was running in both the Tinkerbell 10K AND Half Marathon put on by RUN DISNEY. Dressed in Sparkle Skirts by Sparkle Athletics (Respect the Skirt), braided hair, funky socks and knees all taped… she ran a respectable time of 3:33:25 for the half marathon.

Tinkerbell Award

 

Originally I was just joining her as head cheerleader and master motivator. However, 2 weeks before I was scheduled to leave it came to my attention volunteer positions were available. I immediately signed up… without taking into consideration my flight landed around 9:30PM. If you do the math…. by the time you gather your luggage, rent a car, drive to the hotel, check-in, and get settled…. It’s Midnight. Normally not bad… BUT Volunteer Check-In was 3:30AM. So… with 2 1/2 solid hours of sleep under my belt, I went to my first volunteer assignment… Bag Check for The Family Fun 5K. Easy job. I was back in my room by 8:30AM… ready to start my day.

Wide awake… we headed out to breakfast and hit the parks. Disneyland is smaller than Disney World… and much more intimate. To be honest, I think I like this park best. I finally ran out of steam around 7:30PM and headed to bed.

Next morning Volunteer Check-In was 3:00AM!!!! This time I was assigned to the Medals group.

PicMonkey Collage

 

Each medal arrives individually wrapped. They all have to be UNWRAPPED and draped on these stands… all 10,000 of them! It took 20 volunteers 4 hours to accomplish this feat. When the runners finish the race I had the honor and privilege to place a medal over their head. With all the bending, lifting… and grabbing 60 heavy medals at a clip… and working non-stop for hours straight… I think I did more work than the runners themselves!

Of course there was no rest for the weary… so after grabbing some breakfast we hit the parks again. Thank heavens we had enough sense to rest up a bit in the afternoon… sit by the pool… take a nap… so we could enjoy the parks in the evening. World of Color show and fireworks rounded out the night.

World of ColorFireworks

Speaking of fireworks… the headboard in our room lit up with fireworks!!! MAGICAL!!!

Headboard

 

I still don’t understand the fascination of running in a large group just to earn some ‘bling’… but as long as my daughter continues to enter the events, I will do my best to join her, support her, and volunteer.

BTW… I heard that NIKE sponsors a race where the ‘medal’ is actually a silver necklace by TIFFANY… AND it is all wrapped in their signature paper tied with a satin bow… AND…  presented to you on a silver platter… by local FIREMEN dressed in TUXEDOS!!! Now THAT’S worth running for!!!!!!

Sore Tootsies – DP#163

Fit Bit

 

Wow… My dogs are BARKING!!! I walked 23,456 steps today. That’s just a tad short of 10 miles. Normally I try to walk 10,000 steps in a day… walking around the local lake and neighborhood. However today I did something a little bit different.

I’m going to see if I break my record over the next few days. On Monday or Tuesday I will reveal what I did.

In the meantime, tonight I’m soaking my feet and putting them up for the rest of the night. I’m bushed!!!