Note to Media: THIS is Plus-sized.

Today on Facebook, I had the good fortune to come across this link which shows celebrity photos before and after Photoshop.

http://denisesalceda.com/youre-not-perfect-and-thats-okay/

(did that make a link? I’m such a tech dummy. Just copy and paste it…don’t be lazy.)

It’s amazing to think that someone decided to SLIM DOWN EVA LONGORIA’S WAIST! Seriously? She’s a double zero! Some photo editor felt the need to make her even thinner? This article aimed to make us “real women” feel better about ourselves because even the celebrities aren’t perfect. I’ll admit, I did feel better until I saw this photo that the Today Show posted.

Model Robyn Lawley's swimwear line, launched this week, is part of a burgeoning trend in suits for larger women.

They said this “plus-sized model” was “making waves” with these photos. They are great pics, no one can deny her that, but “Plus-sized?!” What about this lovely model is plus-sized? Her big hair, maybe. If I saw this gal in real life, I’d call her thin, below average weight, slender, and FIIIIIIIIIIIINE! I’d then walk away from her feeling like a squishy-fatty and swear off of carbs for the zillionth time.

sigh.

I’m so sick of this shit.

I’m so tired of feeling like a blubbery whale when the Victoria’s Secret “Angels” runway show airs. I never watch it, but just knowing that it is on drives me to starve myself and attempt to do crunches.

I’m so tired of willingly allowing myself to be manipulated by the media. I’m smarter than this! I may not be able to create a link in my blog, but I swear I’m smart!

I’m so tired of cringing at my naked self in the mirror. There are stretch marks, cellulite dimples, and places that “hang down” in a less than flattering way. It’s a thousand wonders my husband still fancies me naked–yet, for some reason, he does. Shouldn’t that be enough?

I’m so sick and fucking tired of crying in the dressing room because the size I got was too small… I mean really, when did a size 14 become so damn narrow?! Someone zip me up into this fruit roll-up of a dress!!

I’ve  mistakenly allowed my self worth to become tangled up in my size somehow. I’m constantly checking out other women and mentally comparing myself to them to see if I’m smaller or larger than they. This is really unhealthy, and not something I want to pass down to my daughter. She is already head and shoulders above all of the other girls her age, so she’ll already be dealing with that issue; why add fat to the flames? (raise your hand if you thought that was “punny.”)

My obsession with my looks has got to stop. Isn’t this the second blog this month devoted completely to superficial shit?

I need to stop obsessing, or channel the obsession constructively and actually lose weight.

To what end, though?

Let’s say that I do lose weight and get really slender. Then what?

Will I be nicer, smarter, more important, a better wife and mom, and be suddenly happier then I’ve ever been?

I doubt it.

I can remember years ago being thinner and thinking I was fat!
Apparenty, it’s a neverending story, minus the luckdragon, of course.

I suppose if that hottie of a model is labeled “plus-sized,” and doesn’t mind, (especially since that’s a downright lie) then I shouldn’t mind the moniker either.

So, for that reason, I’ll share another photo from my aforementioned boudoir shoot.

Look closely, Today Show. THIS is plus-sized.

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Emily Ann Hill photography.

Thirty (gulp!) Five!!!

I’m slightly freaked out.

Ok, so it’s more like I’m freaked out in an overreaction that presents itself in a melodramatic show of: wailing and gnashing of teeth, listening to sad music for emotional cutting purposes, and gorging myself on chocolate, cookie dough ice cream, and copious amounts of homemade wine.

I’m (gasp!) turning 35 in just over a month.

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiiillllllll!!!

To be stereotypical as possible– How did this happen? How am I this old?

I burst into tears today while doing laundry; grieving over the passing of my youth, I imagine.

I’ve got crow’s feet and white hair.

My cheek isn’t as high as it used to be.

My tits certainly aren’t where they used to be.

My ass never really has been what I wanted it to be.

Bottom line, I can tell that my looks are fading, and I’m taking the loss of them terribly hard.

This shock and sadness over my appearance solidifies what I’ve been adamantly denying for years. Admitting it is the first step, so here we go, folks…

I’m superficial and vain.

That song IS about me.

Although I’ve never been what some would call a “real beauty,” like Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Aniston, or Ingrid Bergman; with the right makeup, lighting, and Instagram filter, I can hold my own.

I was a late bloomer though. In high school, I was a dorky girl with a flannel shirt ’round my waist and wild Alanis Morissette hair–because middle-of-nowhere-Tennessee is exactly the place for the 90’s grunge look, right?
Wild hair coupled with an outrageous wardrobe that was equal parts thrift store and hand me downs pretty much nailed down my role as the token teenage misanthrope. I never felt pretty in high school, not even at my prom.

So naturally I tried to reinvent myself in college as a pretty and preppy sorority girl.
There were two problems, though: 1. The sorority I joined was full of rabble rousing girls who cared more about having good times than being the cutest group of girls on campus. (and boy, did we had some good times, folks…whew!) And 2. It was the late 90’s when wearing baggy overalls and an Old Navy tee was considered being “cute.”

Thank God for Sex and the City and In Style magazine! I suddenly became aware of haute couture, dressing for my body type, how to tame my Alanis mane, and the right way to apply make up.

I was 20, and feeling pretty for the first time!

I felt pretty confident most of the time during my early 20’s–especially when walking arm-in-arm with my two girlfriends who were taller than my own 5’9″ frame. We’d wear four inch stilettos and own any bar we walked into. Ah, those glorious 20’s! With all the cat calls and wolf whistles, I’d forgotten there was ever a time when I felt less than beautiful.

I rode this wave of beauty for more than a decade; navigating two pregnancies and the coinciding yo-yo weight with clothing savvy to minimize the flaws in my appearance.

Stacey and Clinton would’ve been so proud.

This upcoming birthday, though is messing with my head like a philosophy professor.
I’m actually seeing the bloom fading before my eyes…

Waaaaaaaaaiiiiillllll again!!!!!!

I decided to do something daring, adventurous, and Sex and the City inspired.

I had boudoir and nudie pictures taken.

Oh yes, I did.

Now, dear readers, there is photographic evidence that I once was pretty.

I know that real beauty is on the inside. It’s in the way mothers love their children. It’s in the way girlfriends are always there for one another. It’s in the tears you cry when you’re moved with overwhelming compassion for a stranger. It’s the sweat on your brow as you prepare a big Sunday afternoon feast for your family. It’s the light in your eyes when you laugh.

I know all of these things.

But that doesn’t make the onset of middle age any easier.

This does.

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Photo by: Emily Ann Hill Photography.

Return of the Jedi

Well hello there, all of you!

I certainly have been amazed, blown away, speechless, taken aback, and any other synonym for jaw-dropped-in-shock that’s in the Thesaurus, by the response from the last blog. What I intended as a thank you letter to a gentleman who went out of his way to help me has become a living entity on the interwebs–taking on a life of its own and reaching thousands with a “message” of tolerance, grace, and gratitude. I didn’t intend for it to become a rallying point for Autism Awareness, but somehow it has. I would like to state for the public record here and now that I am, by no means, an expert or authority on Autism. I am however an expert on our son, Josiah. That being said, I will now field all the Autism questions to advocacy and awareness groups.

I admit it, I have been dreading this act; sitting and staring at the white blog post square and blinking cursor. Ever since the site views began to climb higher than my record number (a whopping 172), I have wondered, “How do I follow that?” 

If you have read any of my other blogs, you’ve seen that I’m oftentimes irreverent, foul-mouthed, snarky, and sassy. The blog post that went viral was not an accurate representation of what I typically write, although I should probably take a hint from all the “likes” and “shares” that the thank you letter got and begin writing sweet Chicken Soup for the Soul type of things.

Nah.

I couldn’t if I tried. It was just a fluke, I suppose.

I told the now-famous Jedi, David Piggott, of my anxiety about my next blog.

“I have an idea.” he wrote. “You should post my reply, since hardly anyone saw it.”

“YES! That’s fantastic!” I quipped back.

So, I’ll continue to procrastinate penning my next blog, and let the master himself take care of this’un.

 

Hi Sharon, this is your friend the Jedi master. I just wanted to let you know that I got your beautiful thank you message. I’ve read it quite a few times and I am so moved by who you are and how you have shared this with the world.

I vividly remember you and Josiah and your daughter, and on behalf of everyone at the Jedi training academy, thank you for your sincere and heart-felt appreciation.

This story has literally gone viral like you wouldn’t believe, even to the Jedi order on the west coast and around the world!

You need to see what people have written, it’s beautiful, full of love and warms my heart. Add me on Facebook, it will surprise you!

I am most moved by who you are. A loving mother who will do anything to make sure her son experiences everything that life has to offer. Your commitment and sacrifice every single day is what makes the real difference.

You have opened people’s eyes to what it is like to have a child with autism and that even the smallest gesture can completely alter somone’s experience of life.

The ripple effect of love and compassion that you have caused is unmeasurable and just sharing this has altered people’s days, made them smile, made them cry and reminded them what it’s like to be a loving human being.

Thank you Sharon, inspired, moved and humbled…

David Piggott

P.s. If Josiah wants a rematch with Darth Vader, we would be more than glad to accommodate that! Please let me know.

  

 

The Most Beautiful Ruined Moment

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Dear Master Jedi,
       
       This is an open letter of deep appreciation to you. I hope that somehow it finds its way to your computer screen.

     You are an actor, and a damn funny one to boot. You’re really skilled at working with the unpredictably of kids and turning it into entertainment. I really hope that when you auditioned for and won this gig, that you’ve been as pleased with your job as your audiences have been with your performance. I also hope that this leads to bigger and better things, if that’s what you choose. You’re a supremely decent man and I’m ever in your debt for how you helped me out Tuesday, June 4th at the end of the last show of the day.

You see, during the months of planning for our Disneyworld trip, I found out about the Jedi Training Academy in Hollywood Studios and knew that my little boy would LOVE participating in it. He has been diagnosed with autism, and is typically oblivious to what goes on around him–except for Star Wars. I found an online clip of the Jedi Academy that some parent uploaded and showed him. He was so excited!

“I want to do that! I want to fight Darth Vader!”

He so very seldom really communicates with us that when he does, I move heaven and earth to keep that connection going. He wanted to fight Darth Vader, huh? Then by God, he would.

When we arrived at Hollywood Studios at the ribbon drop, I high-tailed it to sign up for the Jedi Training. There was already a huge line, and I was a little worried that all the spots would fill up before we reached the front of it. I was also concerned because the workers at the front were asking the KIDS questions to ascertain if they can follow instructions. I squatted down and had a little pep talk with my boy.

“Josiah, look at me, please. Look at me. Good. Listen to me. Are your ears on? Good. That lady is going to ask you how old you are. Do you know how old you are? Eight! That’s right! Now, you HAVE  talk to her, OK? I mean it, sweetie. When she talks to you, you talk back, or she won’t let you fight Darth Vader.” He never gave any sign of recognition, but I hoped that he understood. We’ve been working on appropriate conversation skills for months now, and I was counting on that therapy to kick in high gear for him in this moment.

It’s our turn! Here we go.

“Hello and good morning!” Said a bright and cheery Disney cast member to Josiah. (They are ALL bright and cheery.) “Are you ready to battle the Dark Side?”

“Yes.” Josiah mumbled.

Oh my God! He talked to her!

“Good! We need brave Jedis like you. How old are you?”

Josiah hesitated. She asked him again. I was about to answer for him when he said, “I eight.”

Yes!

“Eight. That’s great! Now, can you follow directions?”

Josiah blinked at her.

“If I told you to raise your hands, what would you…Good!”

Josiah had risen his hands up high before she finished her question.

Because of this miracle of a “conversation” we were able to secure two spots for both of our kids in the 8:00 show. (our daughter decided she wanted to be a Jedi too) Perfect! This is going to be something they’ll remember their entire life!

After signing up, we went about our sight-seeing of the park–riding Star Tours 3 times in the process. Before and after each ride or attraction, my son asked, “Am I going to fight Darth Vader now?”
“No.” I’d reply. “After supper. Have you eaten supper yet?”
“Oh. That’s right.” He’d sigh. Then we’d have the same conversation again in about twenty minutes.

The day went on, and a storm blew through. I was glad that our Jedi training was after the big storm. Yay for us, right?

Accordingly, after we ate supper at Hollywood and Vine, I took both of my Padawans by the hand, and led them to the Jedi training to suit up in their robes.

“Now? Is it time to fight Darth Vader now?” He anxiously asked.

“Almost, sweetie. Almost.”

They led the kids to the stage and there we saw you, Mr. Jedi-man. You were funny, entertaining, and great with the kids.

Then, Darth Vader made a wonderfully dramatic entrance!

Omg. Here we go!

I looked at Josiah’s face which was plastered with the biggest grin I’d ever seen.

My face was too.

The assisting Jedi sent kid after kid to center stage to battle the Sith Lord. My daughter, Esther was so cute! She stood so far away from him to “fight.” I laughed and enjoyed watching her.

This is so cute!

Five left…Now four. It began to sprinkle rain.

Three left. Now two. Now….

“We’re sorry ladies and gentlemen. Due to the rain, the Jedi academy is closed.”

Josiah stood there onstage; lightsaber at the ready. He turned and locked his eyes on mine. Then he screwed his face up and cried.

“No! Nooooo! I didn’t get to!”

He ran to me and I held him while he cried.

I’m sure most people would, on observing this, assume he is spoiled. I assure you he isn’t.

This is Autism. He was fixated on something, then didn’t get to do it. The vacation would be ruined for him–and we were only in day two of it. Nothing we do can ever get him back on track once he derails. I began to cry despite myself. This would be all he would remember of his Disney trip.

I locked eyes with you. Do you remember? I was crying like a blubbering dummy.

I motioned for you to come to me. You stood there and looked around for a second. I motioned again. You took a hesitant step my way…then another. We stood face to face in the pouring rain.

“He’s autistic.” I choked out. “This is all he’s talked about all day. Is there anything you can do?”

“Meet me around the side there.” You nobly said. Kudos to staying in character the entire time, by the way.

We made our way around to the side of the stage, amid a sea of parents, kids, and cheery cast members.

There you were, waiting all Jedi-like in an alcove. Waiting for Josiah.

You then made a “Grand presentation” to him and gave him Darth Vader’s lightsaber–autographed by the Dark Lord himself!

Say what!?

Josiah was in awe. You gave him the moon, Mr. Jedi Master. You fixed his day…his entire vacation! You got him back on track.

I couldn’t help but cry, and I’m crying now remembering your generosity of spirit for my little boy. You easily could have thrown your hands up when I motioned for you. You could have pointed to your character handler and shrugged a fake “I’m sorry.” You could have simply ignored me and turned your back.

But you didn’t.

You may not even remember this moment, it was so small for you. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t fully explain how you…YOU, Jedi Master made a ruined moment beautiful. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

We spent the rest of the night jumping in puddles, riding rides, enjoying the nearly empty streets of Hollywood Studios, and watching Fantasmic.

Thank you, again. You will never know how you helped us out. To say that you made our vacation is not an exaggeration.

Most Sincerely and Appreciatively,
Sharon Kay Edwards

Wishing on a star–or a green light.

I snap the Ziplock bag full of jewelry and find an unoccupied spot in my suitcase between my bras and blouses. Could this suitcase BE any more stuffed? (you read that in Chandler Bing’s voice, didn’t you?)

I’ve got everything I could possibly need and backups of them all just in case. You never know, right? I’ve been checking off mental lists–planning for this once in a lifetime vacation for the past six months. We’re taking the kiddos to the place where dreams come true!

Not Vegas, people.

DISNEYWORLD!

I’ve researched online, ordered and studied books, perused restaurant menus, read attraction reviews, planned our daily itineraries, secured dining reservations, watched planning videos, read blogs devoted to Disneyworld, made autograph books and coloring books for the kids, and overall tried to think of everything.

I want this to be perfect. For months I’ve dreamed of my kids’ faces smiling–glowing in the light of the fireworks as we stand near Cinderella’s castle watching the magic spectacle. I’ve played and replayed in my mind a fantasy reel of my delighted daughter running into the arms of Princess Aurora. I’ve secretly smiled thinking about my little boy getting dressed as a pirate to play with the characters. In my head cinema, the vacation looks like an Instagram filtered perfect week.

We leave tomorrow, and as I’m packing my last minute essentials, I’m beginning to get a nauseating feeling in my stomach.
I’m nervous. I’m really nervous and I can’t help thinking about Jay Gatsby.

Stay with me here.

Everyone has been rereading Gatsby since the new movie this summer–which I’ve yet to see– and I’m no exception.

Reading Gatsby as an adult is an entirely different experience than reading it as a high school Literature student, but that’s another story.

In school, we learned how Gatsby was really about the American Dream–the constant and crippling longing for what ultimately is just out of our reach. Desiring what is here and yet not really here at all.

Gatsby spent years in a dreamy state over Daisy. He stood at the end of his pier looking toward that green light with his guts knotted in an anxious pull toward his love.

When they began meeting at his infamous parties; their eyes having silent conversations across the tops of their champagne flutes, I’m sure he felt he was finally going to attain what he had long sought after and painfully dreamed about.

But when they did embrace, it was hollow. How could this complicated love triangle ever measure up to years of fantasies about their love?

I’m glad Gatsby ends up dead.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert.

I recently took a personality profile where, among other qualities, it listed me as a “Dreamer.” I’m prone to get lost in lofty fantasies about life. I serve up airbrushed versions of conversations and situations before actually experiencing them.
I’m sparkling and witty in my head. My friends say the perfect thing that makes me feel valued and loved. Everyone at my party has the best night of their lives. My children look up to me with eyes full of love and say, “Thank you for this vacation. I love you, Mama.”

I’m terrified that our vacation, much like Gatsby’s complicated romance, will turn sour. We’ll end up a modern day Griswold tale or family version of The Hangover. The kids will fight, whine, or get sick. The hot as hell hubby and I will be ragged at the end of each itineraried touring day, and regret the trip altogether. We’ll have horrible weather, a flat tire, and our money stolen.

Ultimately, I’m scared of reality coming no where near the level of awesome that is my dreamworld.

I’m relying heavily on Disney magic to help with this condition of mine; this overly analytical fantasy land I can’t seem to shake.
After all, there’s a very famous Disney song that says, “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”

I’m gonna hold you to that Disney.

Tales of Mothers’ Day

Growing up in a small church was great for my self esteem. I was the giant whale in that backyard pond! The star in every Christmas and Easter play, and lead singer to boot. Ok, so maybe I never played the role of Jesus on the cross–but still, I shouted “CRUCIFY HIM!” louder than anyone else. I even caused some to pray for my soul as a result of that.

When I got too old for the children’s productions, I began directing the plays. Nothing like a bossy, nasal-voiced 15 year old telling a young mother, “The angels simply HAVE to have white turtlenecks or risk ruining the show altogether!” to spread the joy of the season. Ah, precious memories, how they linger–and fester and rot.

We didn’t only do pageants for Christmas and Easter, though.  I remember several Mothers’ Day performances. Our pastor at the time, before my dad’s head was placed on the platter, always made a big hoopla on Mothers’ Day. The little kids in Sunday school would all write little tributes and read them aloud in front of the entire congregation. The pastor then grandly presented flowers to the youngest and oldest mother in the room.

Even at a young age, I felt this tradition was awkward at best and offensive at worst. What if your 13 year old just had a baby? “Here you go, here’s some flowers!” That didn’t seem to gel too well with all that preaching against fun-orcation. The oldest mother in the church? He’d call like an auctioneer from the pulpit, “30? 35? 40? 45? 50? 55? 60? 65? 70?” And all the mothers would sit down as he passed over their current age. I’ve never known a well-bred southern women to give an actual account of her age after 30, so I don’t know why they would drop the sham to vie for a five dollar potted plant. Hell, I’ll be 30 forever and buy my own damn plant.

This one elderly lady “won” it every year. What kills me is how surprised she acted every. single.year.

“Who? ME?! Well, bless my soul!”

My paternal grandmother was a couple years younger than the plant winner, and she hated it. I remember sitting in the car with her after services like these and she’d bitterly complain about the unfairness of it. I’d sit perched on the hump in the middle of the backseat, the place regulated to the least of these. My legs brushed against her rough lavender polyester suit as she detailed her list of grievances.

“It ain’t right to get a flow’r every year for her. T’ain’t no one near as old as her, bless her heart. But, it just ain’t right.”

“Naw, I reckon in ain’t, Granny.”

“He orta get a little flow’r for all the mothers or not get none at all, that’s what.”

“That’s a good idea, Granny. You orta tell’im.”

“Heh! I ain’t-a-gone do it. They’d just think I’s upset over not gettin’ a flow’r.”

“Well, ain’t’chee?”

“Hmmph!”

I can vividly recall reading my epic Mothers’ Day Poem that I wrote in Sunday school. All of the other, much less literary kids wrote pitiful verses like:

“Roses are red, violets are blue.
You are my Mama, and I love you.”
YAWN!

Or

“Twinkle, twinkle little star.
Mothers are the best things there are.”

Yeah, that extra syllable makes me cringe too.

I must’ve been in 3rd grade, so 8 or 9 years old when I stood proudly before the church with my three page poem complete with illustrations. I can’t remember all of it, but it was beautiful! I moved everyone to tears!
Oh, you want to read it? Well it seems that I’ve lost it through the years.
What I remember of it? Well–ok, sure.

“Mama–something magical when a baby says the word.
Mama–when she hears it, it’s the best sound she’s ever heard.
Mama–wiping away the tears when I fell of my bike.
Mama–reassuring me when I step up to the mic.
Mama–baking cookies and letting me lick the bowl.
Mama–and I always loved those stories that you told
Mama–looking back on all the things you’ve done.
Mama– I love you for each and every one.”

Ok, so it isn’t bloody Shakespeare. I was  8 for Christ’s sake! My Mama loved it and maybe even kept it, who knows?

My mom is the most practical person I know. She takes no flights of fancy, avoids sentimentality, is a hermit who hates leaving home and hearth, and doesn’t want to own anything that isn’t useful in some way. That last character trait I thankfully inherited from her–along with her fantastic hair and flawless skin. Our house is rather small and we’ve no room for the superfluous. I do possess a weakness for Christmas decor, quilts, and books and have more of those than I need. For the most part, though “can we use this?” is the base motivator for all purchases for the home.

My Mom is also one of the strongest people I know. She’s the oldest of six kids, and tells stories of living in a house with gaps in the floors so wide that you could feed the chickens through them, and growing up with only two dresses–both of which were hand me downs. She regretfully had to quit school in eighth grade to help at home. I’ve always thought that was a shame because she played basketball–despite her short little legs–and was student council president. You really have to BE somebody to be elected student council president, especially if you only have two dresses!

I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately, with regard to her education. Around the time of my epically moving  Mothers’ Day tome, (folks were moved to tears, I tell you!) she went to night classes and took her GED test. I remember not being very sure about what that meant, but knowing that we were proud of her. As an adult now, I’m fully aware of how challenging that is. I’ve heard many people say that the GED test is harder than the ACT. Learning four years’ worth of high school in a few months time is pretty impressive too. My mom is a rockstar for doing this. She taught us that it was never too late.

When I finally graduate with my B.S. in August, it will be because of that lesson I learned from her. I hope that my own two children will learn it as well. It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

I wonder if the MTSU president gives out flowers to the oldest graduate. I may admit to my actual age for that honor!

How I Remember Those Days

The entirety of her possessions consisted of small closet full of clothes, some toiletries, a CD/radio, and a used mattress she had acquired from a church’s storage shed. She inserted her favorite CD, poured herself two fingers of cheap whiskey, and looked around satisfactorily at her freshly painted apartment. She was alone for the first time in her young life.

“It’s perfect!” She wrote to her husband. “$385.00 a month–and that includes utilities! It’s within walking distance to school, and so romantic. Old houses are romantic, anyway. This one was built in 1909 and we’ve got the apartment on the second floor overlooking the porch. One bedroom, a living room/ kitchen combo, and a bathroom. The bathroom is the best part. We have the original clawfoot tub! It’s huge! I can’t wait until you see it when you get back.”

She felt a small pang of guilt for moving the two of them out of her parents’ house while he was away at boot camp, but knew that without this cattle-prodding, he’d happily stay with her family for good. He had never grown up in a happy home where the parents were still together and everyone got along. She, however, was more than ready to flee the nest and begin her own adventures.

She had to borrow money from her dad for the deposit and first month’s rent, but within 24 hours after seeing the place, she was happily moved in. Her new girlfriends from the university helped her tote the boxes of clothes, CD’s, hair products, and the flowered mattress up the 100 year old staircase.

It didn’t take them long to put everything in its new place. The mattress was just flopped onto the bedroom floor under two big windows. The girls flopped the same way on top of it. The evening previous to this one had been spent at a local bar’s open mic night. They had all sang to a rousing group of toasty folks. It was a grand time, but they were feeling the lack of sleep and still had homework to do for music theory.

“We need some coffee.” the blonde suggested.

“Oh my God! I don’t have a coffee pot!”

After a quick trip to the local Walmart, the ladies enjoyed their coffees out of brand new coffee mugs.

“I bet we can climb onto that roof and sit.” One friend said with raised eyebrows.

“I dunno.” She wavered and took a swig of coffee. “It’s really old.”

“Naw! It’s fine!” Said her high-spirited friend. “C’mon!”

Before she knew it, all three of her friends had shimmied through the open window and into the autumn dusk.

“Grab the guitar!” said a disembodied voice through the open pane.

She sat her coffee cup down, took hold of the Gibson, and climbed awkwardly out of the large-framed window onto the shingles of the porch roof.

“This is awesome!”

“Yeah, this is so cool. I’m really jealous of you. Living in the dorms suck.”

“You sure this’ll hold us up?”

“Sure it will!” Her friend said as she strummed a G chord in a 6/8, swinging time. “Let’s sing.”

And so they sang on top of the porch roof. Sipping coffee and singing made-up-lyrics that made them laugh as the languid, velvet dusk turned to a crystal evening around them.

A Novel Lesson

Fiction teaches us all about the truth of life and the common threads in humanity. No matter where a novel is set or when it takes place, I am often struck with the feeling of being united with the protagonist in the struggles of life.  I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned from my favorite rectangle shaped friends, and ask you to do the same. What have your favorite novels taught you?

1. I’ve mentioned the impact that Anne of Green Gables had on me in another blog, but must bring the series up here too. I think I lived on Prince Edward Island in a former life because this story resounds so strongly with me. I’ve known Anne, Marilla, Diana, Gilbert, Rachel Lynde, Ruby Gillis, and Josie Pye my entire life. They are as real to me as my flesh and blood friends. That statement may send me to therapy one day, but there it is. For better or worse, this book series helped make me who I am today. Enough of that though, on to what the books taught me–besides ejaculation.

Never make fun of a red-headed girl unless you want a slate cracked over your head.

Always keep your home in apple-pie order just like anyone raised by Marilla Cuthbert ought to.

When you want to play the Lady of Shallot, check your dingy for leaks.

If a boy makes fun of you, show him up by correctly spelling “chrysanthemum” in front of the class.

Check every doughnut box for fireworks prior to chucking the box into the furnace.

Always have an extra bottle of ipecac.

Wear puffed sleeves without exception. The bigger the better.

Talk to flowers and trees.

Being smart is better than being good looking.

Recite poetry. Recite it with dramatic flair.

Jonah days come to everyone.

Live beside the sea if you can and seek out a lighthouse keeper/former seaman to live within walking distance of you. Trust me on this one.

Bosom friends and kindred spirits are the best things about life on this planet.

2. Tolkien. What an amazing writer and map drawer.  I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy about every two years, and see something new and amazing each time. The world he crafted in Middle Earth, complete with thousand-year-old-legends, battle histories, and all types of fascinating creatures never ceases to dial up my sense of wonder.

Things that reading Tolkien has taught me:

Hobbits are the shit! Lovers of good food, good drink, good parties, and good fireworks. They are steadfast and faithful friends, which leads me to my next one.

Everyone needs a Sam Gamgee in their life.

Rings are powerful things.

Tom Bombadill must do mushrooms or acid. No one acts like that, even if they’re a metaphor of the creator.

Trolls are stupid.

It’s handy to have a good relationship with eagles if you’re ever in a tight spot.

The desire for power will corrupt you.

Trees are people too.

You can live on a diet of elven bread for weeks.

It’s a dangerous business stepping outside your door.

Sometimes an unexpected party is the best kind.

Showing mercy on pitiful creatures may save us all in the end.

3. I read Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree upon a friend’s recommendation. Once I got myself past the lack of punctuation, namely commas and quotations, I really enjoyed the read and learned much from this wayward anti-hero, such as:

Everyone needs a J-Bone in their life. (see the Sam Gamgee and bosom friend comment above…I see a trend in my life lessons.) One never knows when one will become fatally ill and pass out in a communal bathroom. J-Bone WILL find you and carry you to safety.

Do not molest watermelons. If you simply can’t help yourself, avoid getting caught.

Don’t throw trash in the river. All the descriptions of the Tennessee River with garbage floating in it made me sad.

You can make money by poisoning flittermice.

A story doesn’t have to be far-fetched, fanciful, or overly dramatic to be interesting. Our everyday life is the story.

Living plainly, with little earthy possessions can be a sweet life.

Early Times is the “best drink they is.”

Avoid mudslides during storms on the river.

Moral ambiguity isn’t all bad.

4. The Devil Wears Prada–because we can’t read legit lit all the time. This is my go-to read when I’m feeling frumpy. Immersing myself in the world of haute couture and the bustle of NYC is as good of a pick me up as a chocolate bar. Often I read this while eating chocolate for a total emotional lift. Things An-dre-ah Sachs has taught me:

Learn to drive a stick shift. This is still on my to-do list, but I mean to do so soon.

When two belts look identical, keep your mouth shut.

Gay best friends are tops at helping you look your best.

There is such a thing as “too skinny.”

“That’s all.” never really means “That’s all.”

There are few things more intimidating than a tall woman walking confidently in a four inch pair of stilettos.

Don’t trust handsome writers who brag on your writings.

Don’t ignore your boyfriend.

Don’t ignore your alcoholic best friend, especially if she has been listening to Jeff Buckley non-stop.

What seems the most important thing in the world may not be. Take a step back and assess your perspective.

5. Pride and Prejudice How could a list of novels not include this one? I could crawl into this book and wallow around in the pages of it, I love it so.
Lizzy and I would’ve been best friends! I actually think my best girlfriends are real life variations of Elizabeth Bennett. Things I’ve learned from reading P&P:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Entailing estates to male heirs is a piss poor idea.

Keep an eye on Kitty and Lydia at all times.

Mr. Collins is always good for a laugh, even if he is unaware of this fact.

Men, when proposing, always behave in a gentleman-like manner.

Women, don’t be too hasty to believe handsome men when they tell you how they’ve been wronged by another.

Lady Catherine’s buttresses are quite impressive.

If you want to snag a man, ride a horse through the rain, get very sick, and stay at his place until you’re well.

Stay off of Mrs. Bennett’s nerves.

If you feel affection for someone, show it, otherwise you run the risk of losing them.

Visit a man’s house before declining his marriage proposal.

The saddest one: Mr. Darcy doesn’t really exist.

Ok, now share yours! What have you learned from your own adventures with fictional characters?