Friday, December 16, 2011

Milk Face

At the 4th grade Holiday performance this morning, my daughter was by far the best whistler. I’m bragging. Which isn’t like me. But there’s a reason why: by being the best whistler, my 4th grader effectively blew away the small rather arrogant boy standing near her who frequently calls her “milk face.”
We are pale people. We don’t tan, and if we are even partly naked in the sun we tend to blind people with our reflection. My 4th grade daughter also happens to be a platinum (natural – no toddler tiara funny business here) blonde. So you can probably conclude where the name “milk face” came from.
When my milk face daughter told me of the boy’s name-calling, I hugged her tight and told her what every good parent does – that Mr silent pursed-lipped faker face is really short so he’s definitely going to grow up angry. (She hasn’t studied the French Revolution yet so I skipped the most obvious reference for his condition.) Then I pushed her away, ran to my desk and scribbled “Milk Face!” on the back of an old AT &T bill.
I did the same thing with “Caption Obvious.” This time the name was hurled at me by my 14 year-old daughter. I had done about as much to deserve this as good ole Milk Face had done to deserve her verbal abuse: nothing. I’d merely pointed out that Miss 14 year-old sassy pants had better study for her European History test instead of watching Glee
Duh. Thank you Caption Obvious.
I know I should have taken her phone away, or made her clean up the dog poop in the yard, but instead I waved her away, ran to my desk and scribbled down “Caption Obvious!” on the back of a mortgage statement.
Good dialogue is precious. The kind that you can’t-no-way-not-a-chance-make-up on your own supersedes all comforting and punishing. I mean milk face? How good is that.
Which leads me to conclude that writers are bad parents. At least fiction writers. We have to make stuff up, and it’s hard. Like trying to bend a spoon with your mind hard. We need all the help we can get and if that means abusive, disrespectful name-calling, then fine. 
Bring it on, Shawty.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sailing To Heck

Feng Shui can hijack your life. It happened to me. So I wrote a novel about it.

My character becomes addicted to the ancient Chinese rules of direction and placement, which causes a lot of problems. She can’t use her front door for one thing (unlucky direction). A whole lot of freaky remedies follow suit, but I swear on my grandmother, Gunnie’s, life, they’re all true.

I’d love nothing more than to let you in on some of these remedies, except then I’d be risking my fingers. You’re not supposed to give The Secrets away. You’re supposed to take a class. And Feng Shui Masters don’t fool around. They know all too well that I need my fingers to finish my book.

Happily, however, there are times when Feng Shui can be just a case of good old common sense.

Consider Sailing to Heck.

A few years ago, my husband was sent to Spain so we packed up the three small daughters, pre-paid our Verizon bill and left sunny CA.

 Picture a quaint countryside; toothless old ladies selling fruit at every corner, cobblestone streets echoing the click-clack of hooves, miles of rolling green vineyards – picture this, and you won’t be envisioning where we were. Where we were was in an industrial town built around its port. Busy, dirty and thriving - but not quaint. No Spanish, no childcare, no schooling, no car, and not even (as it turned out) much time with aforementioned spouse; that’s the real picture. Plus it was approximately twelve thousand degrees every day, and dinner, in Spain, is served at 10pm.

Maybe you’re a parent and just reading this makes your stomach feel as if a small bowling ball has been dropped in it. Or maybe you’re not a parent, never want to be a parent, and feel nothing at all at the thought of being on house arrest in a foreign country with a couple of elementary school students and someone who’s witnessed less that four orbits around the Sun.

Either way, the point I’m making here is that our home base was ultra important.

Back to Sailing to Heck.

It’s a picture. Make that a painting. The sole piece of art in our flat. It was, as far as we could tell, an image of a tiny, dark, defeated sailboat heading straight into an endless, black eternity. Like a big black “Dementer” waiting to suck your breath out, this painting was in fact more than a painting – it was a black hole in the wall. Big enough to fall through. Or jump into. Or stare at, and stare at, and stare at, until really, what was life worth living for? Sailing into the deep dark underworld of Heck seemed to be the only option.

This is not good Feng Shui. Unless you’re a Vampire or a Spoken Word Artist, this type of décor - especially if it is your only décor - is not inspiring.

Time for some Feng Shui.

I have never defaced a work of art in my life. I don’t even walk on chalk. But when you take into account Spanish Scrabble things change. Even the endearing name we gave the painting lost its luster. Something had to be done. Taking it down and stowing it behind the burgundy pleather couch was an option - but what if it was damaged, dusted or worse? We had already broken a lamp, one glass and four plates (we had to keep track). No. We needed to remedy, not remove.

It was simple enough. #1 daughter used her brightest crayons to create a new happier boat, flag and all, which we taped gently onto the canvas. I explained that one never does this to artwork. Leaving a sticky note on Monet’s Haystacks for instance, would get you arrested. But here, in our mental ward white apartment roughly the size of my thumbnail, a little tape was a lifesaver.

The painting was still black and the boat was still sailing into it, but maybe the people on board didn’t mind so much now. One could imagine their cheery, expectant faces as they sailed off into the untold waters. And lo and behold, we became cheerier too. In fact, we were even giggling again - every time we looked at our newly renovated painting. Siesta passed faster, the scrabble words came easier and our casa sweet casa became a bit less, well, black hole-ish.

This is a Feng Shui remedy. A few crayons and some tape. Even a Stick ‘Em can work. Feng Shui is supposed to make your space cheerier. And your space is a reflection of you. Sometimes we get so complacent, busy, stressed out, we don’t notice that our surroundings no longer (if they ever did) reflect who we are and where we want to go. I bet most of us aren’t hoping to dock in Heck anytime soon. But if we’re not careful, our surroundings might be navigating us there - slowly, silently, efficiently.

Try this: move 27 things in your home. Switch photos around on the shelves, remove a few books from your desk, slide your wastebasket to the other side of the room, maybe even place a half-filled red vase in the South West corner of your bedroom to attract love (please, just take the pinky).

Then sit back and note the new air. It could be subtle - a small breeze barely detectable bringing in a tiny change, or it could be a huge gust delivering a new opportunity, a stroke of good luck or a new friend. Try it. What the heck. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Arugulas get in or not? Why you should take that ride with your Scorpio man.

Scorpio October 23 –November 22

Ruled by Pluto

Let’s start with this little tidbit: after mating, the female Scorpion kills the male.

We bring this up only to illustrate that like their reptile symbol, a Scorpio can also be, ah, let’s call it, passionate. The more intense the situation, the more alive they feel. Scorpios love to wear black and the younger set will often go Goth and read YA novels about vampires and pirates. Little wonder their birthdays fall around Halloween. If this sounds like someone you know (or are raising), we suggest you pick your battles. Scorpios keep their private life private and are willing to go to the extreme to keep it this way.

Because they can cause sharp emotional wounds, Scorpios can either destroy or inspire. If you have a Scorpio lover tread carefully and don’t ever betray him. It's probably a good idea to keep some dark chocolate or a handful of arugulas around too. Both of these will do wonders to sedate him. Your courageous feeding act will not go unrewarded. Scorpios are demanding but loyal, and they might even take you along for the ride if you’re equally committed – or have a great car. You might say that Scorpios are the volcanoes of the human landscape. Explosive and creative, magnificent and mysterious. And for all you Scorpios who are reading this and know where I live… I like you, I really really like you.

Your Scorpion man will put you through the test, but if you play along (and pass) he will be forever yours. Some Scorpio men will join a heavy metal band, others will choose to become a Navy Seal or a surgeon. Whatever their passion, “Extreme Courage” is their middle name. These men appreciate a great leather jacket and a Casablanca poster. They also love a great cigar. Be careful that the Scorpion man does not see you as prey, because no one stands a chance against those pinchers. And don’t be surprised if he keeps a harem of women around him, Scorpion men need to be worshiped. So if you don’t like it, well he probably won’t like you.

After he’s hit rock bottom – which Scorpions tend to do in any and all things – he will shed his skin and rise again as the Pheonix. If you still want him, this is a good time to put on your highest heels (Scorpion men love heels) and pounce. Oh. And there is one sure-fire way to lure the Scorpion man into your chambers (and because we like you so much we’ll tell you): Reggae. The rasta vibration is the Scorpion man’s escape and turns him to mush. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are both examples of the mysterious Scorpion man.

Gorgeous tips for the Scorpio Woman. Enough is never enough for you, and you will pinch and destroy until you get what you want. Your lover, however, must never show signs of weakness (see first sentence) regardless of the fear sent coursing through his veins at your very touch. This same dichotomy lies in your style. You are the extremist. You should probably have two closets. One for your garter belts and velvet trench coats, and the other for your white yogananda robes. Whichever side of the spectrum you’re wearing today, however, you’re probably still in those heels.

Unlike the rest of the zodiac, a Scorpio has little need to strive for balance. It won't happen. Better to just figure out which side of the law you’re on today and wear it. This way, you stay happy and everyone around you stays alive. Jewelry is a staple and the bigger the bling the smaller your sting. Sharp angles and bold lines reflect your dangerous (okay fine, courageous) outlook on life. You might sport a tattoo or two, and it’s a rare Scorpio woman who doesn’t have at least her ears pierced (no need to elaborate, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Please.). Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore and Meg Ryan are amongst the most famous of you.

and ps. I like you.

why stripes and plaids scare your Libra man and you love hats

Libra September 23-October 23

Ruled by Venus

Libras coined the phrase, “Let me think about it.” They’re not procrastinating exactly, they’re just weighing their options. And weighing and weighing…. This is a balanced sign – their symbol is, after all, the Scales and they can be counted on for an unbiased opinion.

Wearing stripes with plaids isn’t creative to these people, it’s disconcerting. A Libra is interested in fairness and justice, and won’t be afraid to seek out either. Your Libra co-worker might make it a personal mission to negotiate fairer wages or better benefits. And your Libra sibling certainly won’t let you get away with a bigger slice of the pie, both those you eat and those you inherit. If you want a snappy answer, don’t go to a Libra (go find a Gemini – you’ll have a fifty percent chance he’s at home, and a fifty percent chance he’s telling you the truth).

You probably won’t meet your Libra man at a Linkin Park concert – unless he’s the band’s lawyer. Jimmy Carter and Mahatma Ghandi embody the careful, considerate characteristics of a man of this sign. These men like beautiful women - inside and out - and balanced environments are his natural resting place. He will have been drawn to your perfect features (yes, you have them), so don’t go all insecure on him now. This will only give him time to contemplate those features – and pores – some more, and really, where’s the good in that? When a Libra man gives you a complement, just take it - he’s already thought about it long and hard anyway. The best gift you can give your Libra man (right behind a vest –which is for some reason his most cherished article of clothing) is peace, so he’s either the least demanding man on the planet, or the most, depending on your number of children/friends in bands/drums.

John Lennon was a Libra, so was Christopher Reeve. The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, is another fine Libra. It’s safe to say that your Libra man will be fair in whatever partnership he enters into, which means he just might be marriage material (as long as you keep it plaid on plaid).

Gorgeous Tips for the Libra woman

Just because you yearn for partnership, doesn’t mean you’ll be barefoot and pregnant any time soon - at least without a proper pedicure. Although you make for the most gracious hostess, you will deliberate for days about what to serve. You are an impeccable dresser and your closet is full of haute couture and hats (your version of the vest). It’s lights on skirts, though. Libra women prefer the straight lines and clean cuts of pants. Your style is a perfect blend of masculine and feminine and whether you admit it or not, there’s a bit of the vain in you (but the good kind). Apple and ginger are two of your favorite scents, and greens and blues always make you feel in charge. You keep company right alongside some of the greatest beauties in the world; Brigitte Bardot, Gwyneth Paltrow and Catherine Deneuve to name a few.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Kitchen Witch and why your Virgo man should fold the laundry

Virgo August 23 – September 23

Ruler is Mercury

Order is a Virgo’s middle name. These people aren’t soakers - they’ll scrub as long as it takes to get the job done. Cool, calm and collected, a Virgo would rather do than dream. This doesn’t mean that a Virgo isn’t imaginative. Quite the contrary. Their symbol is the Virgin; fertile and promising. Virgos are eager to work, especially if it involves the organizing, rearranging or folding of people, companies or countries.

A Virgo person is busy. With so many ingredients to read and so much clutter to clean, their quest for exactness in the world can be frustrating. Idle time is about as appealing as a sharp stick in the eye for this group. But quiet time for expanding inner space is the remedy they need to calm their nerves. Your Virgo friend won’t like waiting in line for your favorite yoga class, but insist that she come anyway because this kind of spiritual connection will ease much of her anxiety. (And then she can go home and put her cereal boxes in alphabetical order.)

On the outside, Virgos seem about as easy going as the Secret Service at an Inauguration. But give them time to assess (and count and reconfigure), and you’ll most likely uncover a shy charm behind their aviator sunglasses. Remember, they can't help the fact that they can't go to bed until their underwear is ironed. What if their pants blow off from a faulty seam while standing too close to the tracks just as the express train goes by? These things happen. And the Virgo knows it.

Let’s put it this way: if they were a toy, they’d be a worry doll.

Loyal and grounded, your Virgo man will open his heart once he’s measured the situation. But don’t play mind games with him. He doesn’t have time for that – not when there are so many gadgets to take apart and put back together again. His tailor is one of his saviors – a starched shirt and crisp suit will make his heart sing. And because the Virgo is a fixed Earth sign, browns and greens should be the first choice for his gift. Have you noticed that the Christmas tree is one of his favorite things in all the world? Why, you ask. Because controlling everything can be exhausting, but he’s no match for Mother Nature – and he’s smart enough to know it. So let him sneak out to his garden or sip green tea when his mood gets too hot. Sean Connery, Oliver Stone and Richard Gere are all Virgos. We’d bet the bank you’ll find hand sanitizer on them.

Gorgeous tips for the Virgo Woman.

If you don’t have a Kitchen Witch hanging in your kitchen already, well then, a) you’ve lost it or b) someone’s stolen it. Because you are the kitchen witches of the Zodiac. Herbs and tonics are your backyard (they’re growing in there too), which means you know exactly what to do to keep your skin glowing and your hair growing. We don’t mean to suggest that you’re the kind of girl who skips on shaving – you’d definitely rather see the forest in the trees, than on your legs, but you are one earthly chick. Deep rich browns and greens are your compatible colors. You’re impeccably dressed and always look ready to take on the world - under your fuzzy sweater, of course. Good texture and soft knits are your vice. But your jewelry is usually of fine lines and structure. You may be slow to give your heart over to a romantic partner, but that partner probably wont get sick very often – not with your homemade remedies and tenacious care-giving. Because snuggled up in a cashmere wrap, there’s simply no stopping you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Long live the Leo-tard and why your Lion man needs to roar

Leo July 22- August 23

Ruled by the Sun.

Bottled sunshine, this is the Leo. In fact their ruling moon is the sun. That’s why your little Leo brother gets away with everything – not because he’s the favorite, but because his shine is bright enough to temporarily blind your parents, and well, just about anyone else.

If they were a candy, they’d be a lemon drop.

Leos tend to live in castles and drive Rolls-Royces. Or at least act like they do, or will, or might. Their confidence can be intimidating. But here’s the reason you want one as your best friend, main squeeze or gulp, sibling: they’d like nothing more than to take you along for the ride. The Sun brightens every planet in our solar system and like it or not, so do these Lions. Leos don’t just ask you to join in, they grab your hand and start pulling. The only thing that makes a Leo shine brighter is to have your cheery smile standing next to them - unless you humiliate them in public, in which case you better run while you still can.

Your Leo Leading Man will spare no expense to make you happy. Just be sure to flatter him along the way, without ever undermining him. There’s only one ruler in his den. Tend to his every need and you will forever be his queen. You will also discover that under all that mane, the Lion can be as shy as a lamb. They can also be funny (Steve Carell), and short (Napoleon). And it’s a safe bet that they’re some kind of leader (Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger). A Leo man is as romantic as he is influential and the last thing he wants is an indifferent woman. But always remember, a Lion needs to roar once in a while. So let him.

Gorgeous tips for the Leo woman Lights, camera, action! This is the Leo girl’s mantra. These women emanate elegance and their style can be infectious (Coco Chanel), even if they are painfully shy about it (Jacqueline Kennedy). They’ve also been known to singlehandedly keep the unitard alive (Madonna). As a Leo woman, you can pull off just about any look you want – as long as it’s elegant. Tiaras and furs (hopefully of the synthetic kind) fill your closet – and you are the rare woman who never sees them collect dust! When you were a little Leo, your favorite play-date was probably dress up – and frankly not much as changed. But you don’t just beautify yourself, you’ll bling-up your bff, family dog, or even, yes, your pesky little brother. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gorgeous tips for the Cancer woman and why your crab man likes to cook

Cancer  June 21- July 22

Ruled by the Moon

Crabs have no backbone. They do, however, have claws - ones that will pinch the life out of their prey. And this too, describes the Cancer. Confrontation isn’t their strong suit  - unless they, or someone they love, is in danger. Then, just like the crab, they’ll charge at you full speed sideways. And once a Cancer gets her claws on you, watch out - there ain’t nuthin’ gonna’ to get her off.

Cancers, like their ruling Moon, reflect those around them. These people need to be exceptionally mindful of who they spend time with. Fortunately, Cancers are also the most intuitive sign of the Zodiac. They are hardwired to read minds. As long as they listen to their gut, they’ll know exactly who is trustworthy, and who is not. Those of you without claws be forewarned - you can't lie to this group.  

You can, however, hurt their feelings. Home is where their heart is and Cancers like to spend as much time there as possible. If you do happen to upset a Cancer, it’s best to leave a white peony on her doorstep and retreat. She’ll come out of her shell eventually and most likely forgive you (as long as you’re sincere –remember, she can tell). But watch what you feed these crabs. Cancers’ stomachs are as sensitive as their souls. Yes, this sign might come with some rules, but if you can weather their many moods, a Cancer in your corner will be the warmest part of your house.

Your Cancer man is a great cook – that’s why he’s always inviting you to dine at his house (no, it’s not because he’s cheap!). He may take his time deciding if you’re the one – but once you’ve been pinched he’ll have to be pried off of you. If this bothers you, there are plenty of other fish in the sea (like a Pisces, who’ll give you all the space you need!) But if you’re ready to be cherished, the crab is your man. It’s possible your Crab man is an artist (Rubens), novelist (Ernest Hemmingway), musician (Cat Stevens) or crazy (Robin Williams - we’re just kidding here. Never name-call a Cancer, he’s not apt to forget - or forgive). He may also be very peaceful (Nelson Mandela. The 14th Dalai Lama.) Or very bossy (Julius Caesar).

Gorgeous tips for the Cancer woman

As hard as her shell is, the crab woman is really all goopy inside. So while you undoubtedly like to layer – what you wear underneath should be soft and sensual. Your curves are your best feature - regardless of their size (Pamela Anderson is a crab), so never fear the belt! Fluid lines and flowing dresses – styles that move like water - will make you feel right at home. Choosing delicate accessories over large dramatic ones will keep your style light and free - unless it’s a diamond, in which case flaunt requirement is mandatory. Keep the rest of the jewelry to a minimum, however. If you put three accessories on, take two off.

And hey! Just because you’re motherly doesn’t mean you have to look matronly. Ever heard of the MILF? They’re talking about you, mamma crab! Whites and pastels are a good reflection of your ruling moon. If you must wear chakra-blocking black, try picking a shimmering fabric or one with sequins. With so much nurture in your nature, covering up your heart chakra with black is, well, kind of a bummer for the rest of us. A cancer woman can make the world a nicer place just by the power of her compassion alone. Princess Diana. Mary Magdalene. Marianne Williamson. Need we go on? And remember, a Cancer woman is never afraid to show off her feminine side because she knows that is where her true power lies.