Smokin’

It smells like someone’s smoking a hog at eight in the morning…

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I’d like to think that someone close by is, and that maybe they’ll share since I have no confidence the cheap-ass catered meal my granddaddy is providing will be at all satisfying.

Of course, the real reason I’m salivating for some hickory smoked bacon is much more ominous. The mountains in North Carolina are on fire, and a strong southwesterly wind is blowing the smoke right up to my back step. Meteorologists forecast the air quality to be at level orange, which isn’t good for anyone with a respiratory disease like asthma.

So this is what it’s like to live in California. Windy, dry (it hasn’t rained since Hurricane Matthew), untamable wildfires. I still remember the earthquake from a few years ago that shook the entire east coast. I even remember where I was when it happened. 2PM Linguistics class, second floor of Storrs, a maze of a building, home to the School of Architecture—where sculptures descended from ceilings and rose up from the wood floors—on UNC Charlotte’s main campus. To this day, I can’t understand why the hell an English class was in the Architecture building. But back to my story… I’d just sat down at my desk when the floor beneath me began to vibrate…

Turns out the epicenter of that quake was in DC, and it registered pretty high on the Richter scale, at least for an east coast quake, enough to damage the Washington Monument. Of course, in east coast fashion, we blew the whole thing way out of proportion, going so far as to design T-shirts and create Facebook pages called “I Survived the DC Earthquake of 2011!”

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The governor has come out and said that someone intentionally set these fires. Probably a couple of young bloods protesting Donald Trump’s election, or celebrating it, you never know with the crop of people he attracts.

I’m surprised McCrory even has time to worry about these fires, given that he and his Republican buddies are calling foul on the election, claiming there’s something fishy going on with the absentee ballots. Wow, you think! Funny, when you passed the “Voter Fraud” law, which essentially disenfranchised the minority, millennial, and senior citizen vote, you didn’t bother to touch the absentee ballots, where most of the fraud occurs. Now you’re mad that you lost. Tough luck, kid. I thought the results of this race was supposed to bring us all together, not further ripe us apart.

Knowing the Republicans, there’s probably some kind of mythical dragon flying around, blowing hot air, setting pines and Christmas trees ablaze, rigging gubernatorial elections, forcing people to flash themselves before they enter bathrooms. It’s a crazy world we live in. Good thing we still have smoked, barbecued pork in this hazy smog.

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New Year’s Preparations: Organizing My Life

I’ve been listening to Christmas music for a week now, so forgive me if I’m jumping the gun here with my thoughts on a New Year’s cleaning spree. I don’t mean to skip over Thanksgiving, but the most delicious holiday on the calendar may turn out to be a tad bland in my house this year. No one feels like cooking, nor do they want to eat “that healthy shit you be making,” as my brother so politely put it. Didn’t know eating whole foods (versus boxed or canned) and taking the time to make meals from scratch was turn-your-nose-up “healthy shit.” By the way, those pumpkin spice pancakes I made for breakfast this past Sunday were BOMB! But I digress.

Granddaddy has decided that he wants to pay someone to cater Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Good new: no one has to cook; bad news: Granddaddy’s cheaper than Ebeneezer Scrooge himself, so there’s no telling how this dinner will turn out. We may as well save the hassle and eat a free Thanksgiving dinner at church. We’ve done it before, and it was quite yummy.

Next year, I think I’ll drive down to Charleston to see my other Grandma. Thanksgiving dinner at her house is kind of like . . .

My aunt who passed away earlier this year was known as Grandma’s sous chef. She’d drive down the week before, and they’d spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving, in the kitchen cooking just about everything you could think of. Turkey, ham, chicken, stuffing, wild rice, white rice, giblet gravy, mac & cheese, yams, greens, beans . . . YOU NAME IT!

And a sweet potato pie for each grandchild to take home.

With her sous chef gone, Grandma just can’t cook all that food by herself. My other aunt tries to help, but—bless her poor little heart—she can’t cook worth a lick, and Grandma lets her know it, too!

So maybe next year I’ll be her little sous chef, eat a meal that’s worth the three hours I’ll spend at the gym that Friday, and finally learn how to make her infamous sweet potato pie!

They ain't better than Grandma's pies...
They ain’t better than Grandma’s pies…

But back to the New Year’s cleaning (as opposed to spring cleaning . . . because I so often get off topic), I’m kind of a neat freak—which is ironic to say since at this present moment, my bedroom is a filthy mess; I haven’t cleaned it in almost a month. I style my own hair, so I have little shed hair fur balls collecting on my carpet that I really need to vacuum before I mistake them for bugs. There’s a pile of crinkled up October receipts on my desk dumped from my purse that I have yet to file. I haven’t made my bed in weeks because I’ve been meaning to wash those sheets . . .

God! I’m really not this lazy, guys. I do get into my cleaning spurts sometimes. On those days, I clean the bathroom from floor to ceiling, dust the shelves and TVs, take out the trash, mop and sweep the kitchen floor, maybe even wipe down the refrigerator. This year alone, I’ve washed the dishes more than I ever did my whole life. When it comes to kitchen cleanliness, I’m becoming more and more like my mother. I can’t cook in a nasty kitchen . . . and I’ve been cooking a lot.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to wait to New Year’s before I actually clean my room, though. I’m just getting a head start on thinking about what changes I want to make going into 2017. It’s looking like organization will be it. At my church, we’re taught that the spiritual principle of organization is “God’s plan to simplify my life,” and boy am I desperate for some simplicity right now. I feel like I’ve spent this entire year catching up [to something], and I still haven’t caught whatever the hell it is I’m chasing.

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So how am I going to make life more simple in 2017? First, I need a planner. Probably not a day planner, because I’m a millennial, and I doubt I’ll ever open it, but I can start by adding reminders to my Outlook calendar so that they come to my phone. I should also make use of my dry-erase wall calendar. I thought it was the coolest thing ever when I bought it, but it’s been saying “April 2015” for the past year and a half, so I really need to be better at updating it—maybe I should add “update wall calendar” as a reminder every first of the month on my Outlook calendar too. I also need to work on blogging ahead and scheduling posts so, knock on wood, when I lose my motivation to write again, you’ll still have something to read everyday while I try to get my shit back together.

But first, I most definitely need to CLEAN MY ROOM!

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R-E-L-A-X, It’s Almost Christmas

R-E-L-A-X . . .

We all remember quarterback Aaron Rodgers spelling out this calming five-letter word to panicking Packers fans after a not so pretty start to the 2014 NFL season. Of course, they went on to make the playoffs that year where they beat my Cowboys on a pass that Dez DEFINITELY CAUGHT!

But I’m not mad. We got our payback this year, whipping them in their own house. By the way, Green Bay, it’s not looking too hot for you guys. Detroit is leading the division with a 5-4 record, and they didn’t even play this weekend!

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But I’m getting off topic here. This post isn’t about the Green Bay Packers, or football; it’s about Donald Trump. Yes, president-elect, Donald Trump. The phrase itself is petrifying.

Less than a week ago, we watched in horror as the American people elected a man with absolutely zero experience in government president of the most powerful country in the world. College graduates everywhere are now demanding that the 3-5 year work experience requirement on entry level jobs be nixed. Closeted racists have grown a pair overnight and are holding KKK rallies in a town near you (Have you been to a Trump rally? They’re basically the same), while the LGBT community fears they may have to return to the closet. Mexican immigrants, Muslim Americans, and even some blacks are terrified they’ll be shipped off to a country they’ve never called home. Women are preparing to say goodbye to the ownership of their own bodies. And the rest of the world is starting at their TVs going, “What the actual fuck, America?”

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I should back up and say that the American people didn’t actually elect Trump. Hillary won the popular vote, while Trump won the Electoral College. So for the second time in my lifetime, the Electoral College has screwed us over. And I can’t help but go back to my IB US History of the Americas class in high school, when my teacher flat out told us that the Electoral College was created because our founding fathers (the fathers of American Democracy—oh, the irony!) didn’t trust a 100% popular vote; they didn’t think the American citizens (white male land owners) were smart enough to pick the right guy.

And after poor, uneducated working-class whites apparently came out in droves to vote for Trump, it still wasn’t quite enough to give him the edge over Hillary with the people. Lucky our outdated American democratic system was there to save him, eh?

Boy, if the founding fathers could see us now . . . but then again, they probably would’ve voted for Trump too. A woman president?! Who ever heard of such!

You can't always get what you want...
You can’t always get what you want…

But it’s been a week, and now that the initial shock of having Donald Trump follow the first African American president into the White House has blown over, I really have no feelings one way or the other about how these next four years will turn out. I’m actually more upset that I was forced to buy overpriced health insurance that doesn’t cover anything just to avoid paying a fine (that for me was probably the cheaper option), only for the whole shebang to get repealed Trump’s first day in office.

So, um, is it too late to unenroll?

But seriously, I’m fine. I’m not moving to Canada. I’m not expressing my grievances on Facebook through an unrelenting series of posts and reshares. I’m not signing a petition to get Trump booted out. To be honest, I’m not afraid of Trump. It’s the people who voted for him that I’m worried about. Trump has always been an arrogant man. He ran for president simply because he could, and he took advantage of the anger of a lot of people. People who, depending on how these next four years turn out, may come to regret their vote. And for a moment, let’s explore the option that Trump was elected not because America is full of racists (even though she is), but because nobody trusts Hillary. Even I spent almost ten minutes at the ballot debating whether or not to vote for Hillary, or write in Bernie Sanders. I think a lot of Democrats went through that same dilemma. We’re sick of the status quo. We want something different, something radical. At least I do.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, that came in the form of a President Donald Trump. If only they knew the monster they created . . .

For now, I’m gonna enjoy the final months of the coolest first family ever, and laugh til I cry at these hilarious Obama-Biden memes.

By the way, only 41 more days til Christmas! My local radio station has already switched over to the holiday music, and while I often complain about how commercialism starts the Christmas promos too soon after Halloween, this year, I welcome an early Christmas. Smile! Laugh! Be Merry! Get drunk on eggnog! I’m sick of all this doom and gloom. OK, the Don is going to be our next president. We’ll deal with that when it gets here. There’s still time for him to come out and say (or in Trump fashion, tweet), “So about this president thing . . . Gotcha!”

Until then, it’s almost Christmas, and I’m eager to get into the holiday spirit.

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Ho! Ho! Ho!

Where Have You Been All My Life?

Raise your hand if you started singing Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been” when you read that title . . .

Where have you been all my li-i-i-i-i-ife

Where have you been all my li-i-i-i-i-ife
Where have you been all my li-i-i-i-i-ife
Where have you been all my li-i-i-i-i-ife

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Where have you been . . . all my life?
Oh, just under a rock, chiseling my thoughts with broken off finger nails.

Where have you been . . . all my life?
That’s such a strange question. If asked by a man to a woman, it’s probably the second cheesiest pick-up line ever created (the first being “You look familiar—have I seen you in my dreams…”)

Where have you been . . . all my life?
A witty dialogue exchange between love interested characters that you think perfectly shows their chemistry until your editor screams, “Cut it!”

But before I get off topic, let’s address the elephant in the room—and if you follow my other blog, Lovely Curses, you know exactly what I’m talking about—the greatest disappearing act in the HISTORY of internet blogging! Er . . . actually . . . maybe the second greatest . . . more like the third . . . nah, who am I kidding—this probably doesn’t even rank in the top ten one hundred.

But again I’m rambling, and now that I’ve just passed the 150 words mark, and you still have no idea what I’m talking about, your internet-induced short attention span is begging me to get to the freaking point.

The truth is I haven’t written a blog post—or anything, for that matter—in almost five months. Back then it was summer, unbearably hot, and all I wanted was a drink of water.

I wish I had an acceptable answer for my extended absence from blogging.

Like maybe I was on a five-month long vacation. Cruising the Mediterranean. Sunning nude on a beach in Ibiza. Zero access to the internet. But let’s be serious. Very few places in the world today aren’t Wi-Fi accessible.

So maybe I’ve been in the hospital all this time. Nothing serious—I just got pulled over for speeding and somehow managed to get a bullet lodged in my spine. But then, where was the social media outcry?

#BlackLivesMatter #WeStandWithKap #HandsUpDontShoot
#AllLivesOnlyMatterWhenItsConvenientForYou

Ok, well my next excuse would be that my assignment at work changed, and since I do most of my blogging while on the clock, I have no time to do it anymore. While the first part of that statement is true, I’m no busier than I was before. The only difference is that I was moved to office location HELL! My cubicle is situated in a corner surrounded by the offices of three managers, one of them being the head of the entire department. To make matters worse, it’s an open cubicle (not the partially walled bay area that I’m used to), and it’s turned so that my back is to the hall, making it impossible for me to hide what I’m really doing from nosy co-workers and managers walking by.

Fair enough, but that only accounts for the 9 to 5 shift. What about the other eight hours of the day (because of course I have to sleep)? Well, I have been dedicating a lot of my time to my new diet. And yes, I know I talk about losing weight a lot, from New Year’s Resolutions, to poems about getting skinny in time for October bikini season (guess I missed that), to poems about hating the reflection in the mirror, to poems about a thin figure attracting a Grandpa-approved suitor.

But this time I’m serious. Damn near obsessive. I’ve already lost 30 pounds and if I hadn’t slacked off my 80% plant based/whole foods diet during the early autumn months, I probably would be down 50 by now.

So you literally spend the other eight hours of your day cooking fancy meals and following food blogs? you ask.

. . . Yeah, actually . . .

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But then there’s the real reason.

I’ve completely lost my motivation to WRITE!

I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was a combination of things. And it’s not that I have no inspiration, because as I write this, tons of stories are swirling around in my head waiting to be written. I just can’t seem to sit my fat behind down in front of a computer and write them! Plus, I’m such the procrastinator. Once I let that spirit take a hold, it requires a miraculous shake of the cosmos to get it off my back.

I’ve mentioned before that this year’s A to Z Challenge completely wiped me out. It’s quite ironic how it happened. I can write a new flash fiction story every day with ease, until I’m force to, and heaven forbid, am obligated to fit those stories into a pattern. I was able to finish that challenge—though a day late—but I never got my writer’s mojo back.

I continued to write sporadically for the next month and a half, while trying to keep up with other side projects like editing two magazines, hosting a weekly flash fiction challenge (that I’ve completely abandoned—sorry, guys), writing a novel, reading more books than I did last year (5), and a plethora of other things, until finally, my head exploded and I disappeared off the face of the earth internet, leaving my followers to only speculate about my demise.

If I’m being honest, I think I just committed myself to way too many things, and the pressure of having to keep up with all of them day after day finally caught up with me. I’m like an overenthusiastic toddler. I get a thousand ideas in my head and I want to do them all at once until I crash in the middle of the kitchen floor with a half-eaten chicken leg sticking out of my mouth.

But good news, guys. I’m not dead! Just my muse. However, if this post is any indication, I’m slowly trying to revive her . . .  S-L-O-W-L-Y.

Which is why I created this blog. So I can have an outlet to just write, about anything. Because I obviously can’t post it all on Facebook. And let’s face it, after having to click the “More” link twice on a post, no one has any interest in reading more unless there’s a photo or video attached to it . . . or it’s about Donald Trump . . .

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While I’ve dedicated most of the year to making Lovely Curses all about my fiction and poetry and anything writing/author/book related, I lost my freedom to simply talk about me, which is surprising because I never thought I was all that interesting. And who knows—maybe I’m still not. Maybe this new blog will turn into an online not-so-private diary that comes back to haunt me when I’m 50, or becomes a New York Times bestseller after I’m dead.

But I’m going to revel in the fact that I’m finally able to write again. Even if it’s just ramblings for now. I can’t tell you when I’ll dive back into the fiction and poetry. I won’t make any false promises, and I damn sure won’t over-commit myself again, but if I can keep this up (I’m already over 1,000 words. YAY!), I’m confident that they’ll be back real soon.

So stay tuned. And hey, why not follow this blog? At least you’ll have something from me to read until I can get my life together . . .

From the title, you know it’s going to be fun, right?
😉