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Meeting other bloggers: Even better than shouting at the TV!

I loved living in rural Japan, but there were some downsides. Loneliness was first, followed closely by the hit to my English speaking skills.

On the bright side, my poster-making skills improved A LOT

On the bright side, my drawing skills improved A LOT

Sure, I could fake it in emails, but I fumbled my way through phone calls back home. I’d try making some simple statement and realize I just could not find the words. Idioms are hard!

Blushing, I’d scramble to find some alternative phrasing. Sometimes I was even successful.

Japan has felt especially close to heart the last week or so. Thanks to pregnancy leave, most of my discussions the last month have been with a four-year-old, sprinkled with occasional cashier conversations and admonitions to TV protagonists to make wiser choices. Read more…

A letter to my son, my sunshine

Dear Li’l D,

Your face is inches from my own as I peck this out with one finger. Your snores are sweet and steady, music of unparalleled beauty to my mama ears.

Today I picked you up early from preschool. You were excited to see me, and even more excited to learn we’d be stopping for ice cream shakes. You saw my smiles, which were real, but didn’t see the also-real tears that preceded them.

thank you, Li'l D, for making a mom of me

I am so excited to meet your little sister or brother sometime in the next couple of weeks. Remembering my awe meeting you, I can’t believe I’ll get the chance to feel such wonder a second time. How can that be right? Even once seemed too precious and rare a thing to be true.

I know it will be wonderful, but I’m scared, too. For four and a half years, you have been my sunshine. You have lit up every part of my life with your compassion, mischievousness, curiosity and forgiveness.

Having known the joy of your particular light, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the idea of having two sunshines. Your auntie Emily says two suns worked for Tatooine, a sentiment that makes me smile. I think it will make you smile someday, too.

Even so, I have grown accustomed to my one beautiful lifelight: you. I know I’ll be overjoyed when that second sun hits my sky. I’ll learn to live with that extra light and not be blinded by it.

But now, right now, I listen to you snore and hopeprayentreat that you know my heart is turned equally toward you even when my eyes and hands are turned toward my second sun. Read more…

Dances with Facial Hair

“You’ve got a few hairs going on there,” Anthony, my then-fiancee, pointed out while peering at my chin.

“Just a few? Well, that’s better than it could be, then!”

Our son joined in the conversation, asking, “Why does Mommy have hairs?”

“Well, son, when women have babies, their hormones change. So your mom had a baby and she started growing hair where she didn’t have it before . . .”

This statement caused me burst in to laughter then, and my shoulders are shaking again recalling it now.

“You’re so cute,” I told Anthony. “See, ’cause I’ve always had that hair. I just don’t have as much time to take care of it now that I’m a mom.”

This revelation seemed to surprise him, so I added that I’ve always been hairy. Even when I was a teen, my mom used to inspect my face, shaking her head and saying, “All that hair! It looks like you took after your dad’s side of the family.”

Based on my mom’s facial hair reflections, I find it eminently possible some of my forebears were gorillas. We’ve got the hair. We share prominent foreheads and chins. We are nothing if not sturdy.

Pregnancy me: "Tired but so much to do!" | Original photo courtesy Maggie F (hagaki-mawari.blogspot.com)

Pregnancy me: “Tired but so much to do!” | Original photo courtesy Maggie F (hagaki-mawari.blogspot.com)

Yes, my mom’s marital choices have left me with a legacy of hairiness. I’m more or less okay with it, and with people knowing about it, as long as they can’t actually see it with their own eyes. Or much of it, in any case. Read more…

Is mothering REALLY work?

January 15, 2014 Comments off

wpid-IMG_20120113_092223.jpgWhat does a work-at-home parent do all day, anyway? In case you’ve been asked this question and found yourself stumped how to answer, I’ve provided a few related IT job title descriptions to help you boil it down: project manager, support analyst, security analyst.

Please click below to read
Motherhood Translated
on DrGreene.com

To Gandalf, My Would-Be Bridesman

Dear Gandalf,

I’d graduated college before I knew you existed. With little money to spare the weeks before I moved to South Korea, a friend recommend my small book budget go to The Lord of the Rings.

It seemed like good bang for my buck and, beside, I had a crush on its recommender. So I went for it.

I loved you pretty much instantly. I’ve always found wisdom attractive, more so even than humor (also appealing) and ripped abs (which aren’t especially important to me, actually, no matter what check-out line magazines suggest).

I mourned your encounter with the balrog. I told one of my roommates the same, prompting him to laugh before spoiling the whole thing for me. It was a feat not to throw him over our seventh-floor balcony then, but I figured doing so wouldn’t be very Gandalf-like. Also, I wasn’t keen on the thought of spending time in South Korean prisons.

Mostly it was the former that stayed my hand. Really!

I moved back home before long, excited but a little nervous by the prospect of soon watching you come to life on the screen. I wasn’t sure any actor could do you justice, but, man, wouldn’t it be rad if Ian McKellen could? I was willing to give him a shot.

He was perfect.

I mean, I guess some could argue “perfect” is subjective, but really. He conveyed you exactly as I’d imagined you, and it was magic.

(Oh, yeah, I did.)

My fondness for you grew with each film. I came to love Samwise greatly, too, all the more after mutual love led to a still-treasured friendship, but you continued to hold the fondest place in my heart.

Perusing forums online one dark and stormy evening my last year of law school, I found someone else who had a Gandalf icon.

“OMG, you love Gandalf?!?!?!?!?!” I said, maybe not in those exact words.

“OMG, you love Gandalf?!?!?!?!?!” its poster said, maybe not in those exact words.

Do I ever!

Do I ever!

That poster, Maggie, lived in Los Angeles. I lived in Los Angeles. So we met up. Of course we did. Read more…

Confidence from blogging

Blogging has taught me many things, but confidence is keenest among them.

I’m not talking about the kind of confidence that comes with validation. I love the likes and kind words, don’t get me wrong, but the confidence comes from something else.

Disagreement.

Here in the blogosphere, there are a lot of loving, uplifting comments exchanged daily. There are also a lot that sound like this:

  • “That’s not how I would have handled it.”
  • “Your face looks cute, but you probably shouldn’t ever wear that shirt again.”
  • “Well, that’s definitely a unique perspective. I’m going to go wash out my eyeballs with some acid now.”
  • “Beautiful post, but really, you didn’t talk about me or my kind of trials enough. That would’ve made this a much better post.”

People, it turns out, literally have opinions on everything. Being faced with those opinions as a blogger, you have lots of ways to cope. Here are a few I’ve experimented with:

  • Ignore them
  • Try to ignore them while quietly cursing them for commenting
  • Write stuff so generic it’s really hard for someone to opine on you, except maybe to point out your work is short on details
  • Get comfortable with the fact not everyone’s gonna agree, and embrace writing your life and views as they are anyway

Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned trying to write to other peoples’ liking is a great way to drive yourself nuts while still getting hammers lobbed from the peanut gallery. Sure, it’s good to touch people (in totally non-lecherous, respectful ways), and you’ve gotta write things readers will be touched or tickled (platonically) by to get ‘em coming back, but that can’t be the goal.

Because, let’s face it. There’s no way to please them all.

Some will tell you you’re too serious. Others will tell you you’re not serious enough. (There is no place for humor in talking about depression, folks. It’s true. A commenter told me so!)

Some will love your stick figure drawings. Others will complain they’ll never get back the three seconds they spent looking at them.

grammar or person win

Some will embrace the poetry of your pensive posts. Others will stop reading them because you jokingly refer to your fiancee as “Ba.D.,” or “baby daddy,” which is just plain ignorant. GEEZ.

You’ll have too many scary clowns for some.

"One Deborah Bryan breakfast platter coming up!"

You’ll have not enough unicorns for others.

Don't make the unicorns cry.

If you write an homage to soldiers, even once, you’ll be too conservative for some, and too “hippie” for others who see the caveats in your silences.

If you tell your sister you’ll love her more if she blogs, it doesn’t matter if the post is tongue in cheek. You will be chided for evidencing conditional love.

Your posts will be too skinny for some (“You could’ve explored this waaay deeper!”) and too fat for others (“Long-winded much?”).

And it’s OK. They can have their opinions. You wouldn’t be blogging if you didn’t have a bunch of your own.

It takes a little while to grok this, even if you’re someone like me who’s pretty comfortable with disagreement. (You don’t get into negotiating contracts if disputes cause you sleepless nights!)

But then, you get it. As a blogger, you’re just the poorly paid CEO of a company of one. Some folks will grumble about your choices. Some will want to buy stock. Either way, their words are their thing, not yours. You’re the boss.

As you learn to take what benefits you and leave the rest, your confidence grows, because you’re learning–with every comment you read–to take what helps you, and walk away from the rest.

Reunited and it feels so good!

And, man, does it feel good. THIS good!

An Introvert’s Illustrated Guide to Comic Con Avoidance

My mom was into any and every “science” that could help her understand people: graphology, birth order, body language. She was an enthusiastic student of every such science she could find, and honed her skills on her children.

IMG_20130717_061320_046-1

My mom’s desire to quantify personality traits meant I knew from a tender age that I was an “introvert.” The word was meaningless to me. “Introvert” might as well have meant the same thing as “subatomic particle.” I knew each was a real thing, just as well as I knew neither had any impact whatsoever on my daily life. Silly mom! I just took her tests so she’d stop pestering me to take them, a strategy that worked until she found a new book with new tests. Read more…

Brave

My next post involves an honest-to-goodness epiphany. I don’t mean the kind I experienced when I was nineteen, when the comic bubble exclamation mark over my head disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived, but rather the kind that sinks deeper and deeper into me with every step I take away from the moment of insight.

epiphany
I’ve been trying to fit one particular song into the post, but it refuses to fit. I’m sharing it here because it deserves–no, demands!–to be shared, experienced and lived. Don’t just listen, even if you tend to tune out videos as I usually do. Watch it and let it sink in. Better still, let it inspire you. Read more…

Categories: Music, Nerd Tags: , , , , ,

My mom, my Thunder Thighs, my forever superhero

Today I got something remarkable in the mail.

I knew it was coming. I’d commissioned it, after all.

And yet, there is a difference between envisioning something in the abstract and seeing it with my own eyes, which are currently full of tears.

There were few traditions in my household growing up, unless you count my mom’s antiquing and Dumpster diving. One tradition I could count on was periodic weekend walks to the comic book store, where my mom would set my siblings and me free with a dollar apiece. She’d buy the comics that interested her, while we’d rummage through the ten-cent comic bins for our personal favorites. Mine were horror episodics, a la Creepshow, as well as Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld and Superman.

In law school, I got my sister the full set of Amethyst comics as a birthday present. I hadn’t had much cause to think of that, or the comics themselves, until a couple of weeks ago. I’d walked into an antique shop in search of a dresser. There were no dressers available, but I did find excellent conversation with the store’s owner, who reminded me so very much of my mom I felt as if she were standing just behind me, too intent in her own rummaging to chit-chat.

Another prospective customer came in and interrupted our discussion with a question. I examined the jewelry in a nearby case for a moment; when I looked up, my eyes landed directly on comic  book magic: Amethyst and Superman in the same comic!

I coughed up $10 and decided that, for that single afternoon, I believed in signs.

amethyst

I still haven’t read that comic. It’s not important that I read it, just that it exists. It reminds me of my favorite times with my mom, my Thunder Thighs, my forever superhero.

Every time my eyes landed on that magical crossover comic, I thought of another piece of comic art I was waiting for. I’d commissioned extremely talented, conscientious comic artist and friend Sina Grace to draw a piece borne from my blog “Becoming a Superhero.”

Because my mom’s life was so full of strife, I struggled to figure out how to do her memory justice. How could I help other people see her not as just a crazy bird lady but as the source of my own love, hope and wonder, not through accident but through emulation? How could I remember her that way, recalling not only her life’s many tragedies but also its victories?

“Becoming a Superhero” was the turning point for me. It was my answer. As long as I remembered Thunder Thighs, I was remembering my mom–my real mom, not not-Mom, the way she’d want to be remembered.

And as long as I not only remember but live the best parts of her, her love and laughter endure.

At some point I decided I wanted not just words but an image to serve as my reminder to remember my mom and use the remembering well.

I described to Sina what I envisioned, though that envisioning was in blurs and blobs. He asked bunches of questions and set to work, sending me a “blueline” (or very preliminary sketch) a few days ago to make sure he was on the right track. I loved it, and I said so. I was prepared to be enchanted by the final product, but again, I couldn’t really imagine what that enchantment would feel like.

Today I received a snapshot of the final image. I laughed and cried all at once, enveloped in the rush of remembered comic book shop visits, Thunder Thighs adventures, and the imagined forays of Dark Moon and Silver Star. My mom would love the image. I sure do.

The print one will be in my hands in a week or two’s time, but what’s important now is that it’s in my heart. Right there with my mom, my Thunder Thighs, my forever superhero.

thunder thighs sg

A reader’s expectations, or: “None romance! NONE!”

Beloved readers,

The Monster’s Daughter is not paranormal romance.

Until yesterday, I failed to understand why people would buy my first novel expecting romance. After all, nothing in the title, cover, nor description hints at romance. See the description:

Ginny Connors doesn’t believe in vampires. There’s totally a rational reason her dad is a lot more bloodthirsty and a lot less interested in food than he used to be. Still, she hangs a cross on her bedroom door. Just in case. 

When Ginny discovers people aren’t the guests but the main course at her father’s New Year party, she wishes she could save the day with garlic pancakes. Instead, she must face the limits of her daydreams, and attempt to stop the monster her father has become.

Vampires: check. Dads: check. Daydreams: check. All present. Romance, though? Romantic love? Smoochie-face? Gaga-eyes? Infatuation? These guys had other places to be. Read more…

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