Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grinch for a Day

Yesterday, after not a happy week, I was so looking forward to my Sisters in Crime chapter Holiday Party, until.....

What I'm about to tell you is a true story.

I awake well. Having had a bad, minimal exercise week, I am ready to hit the jogging trail. I just bought a new IPOD arm band and new running ear phones. I suit up. Since it's cold, I put on my heavier running jacket, the same one that every year I have to play with the zipper fifteen times. I fiddle with the ear phones that keep falling out of my ears. I slip on my Nike running hat and knock out the ear phones. I replace the ear phones and try slipping the hat back on. My ponytail gets stuck in the hole in the back of the cap designed for ponytails. I cram my hair through the hole, happy that I haven't dislodged the ear phones. Out the door I go. I've downloaded a new playlist that I'm anxious to run to. The cover of  my new arm band is stiff, so controlling the IPOD is a little dicey. I click my playlist but accidentally hit the shuffle option. I don't like my songs out of order. I pace myself to certain songs. I grit my teeth. No shuffle! I click it again. That works. I run my standard path.

Okay, I feel much better. I take a shower. While reaching for the blow dryer, I knock over my electric tooth brush. I jam the darn thing back into it's charger and finish drying my hair. My make-up challenge of the day is to cover up the two huge stress zits positioned precariously in the fold of my nose. This doesn't go well. My concealer trick falls short. I shrug it off because I have a lot to do before catching the train into the Manhattan for the party.

I go out the door ready to go to Danbury, Connecticut where I bought my new Kia Sorento, trading in my Nissan Exterra. They asked for the title, which I couldn't find the day before, but now have this critical document in my hand. I'm on the road, playing my IPOD through the speakers. This USB cable/auxillary post is new to me. I can't figure out how to use it, so I let it play my playlist. It's a good thing I like my playlist because I'm stuck in traffic. I take a deep breath and calm myself down. I still have time to get everything done on my list before leaving for the train station. Traffic is moving. I drop off the car title and head back into New York State.

I need to stop at the grocery store to buy transparent tape and to get some cash for the car inspection and for my night in Manhattan. This part of my day goes smoothly. I get my car inspected. Also no problem.

Now I head to the bank where I need to get some forms notarized for my New Hampshire Medical license application. One form is not an issue. The other two couldn't be done because I didn't have the original document with me. One of these documents is my DEA (Drug Enforcement) certificate, the one I turned my house upside down to find. It's clear I need a replacement. I call the DEA and get a computerized voice that doesn't understand what I need. Mr. Computer tells me the option I pressed is invalid. I hang up. I go to the website. I put in the wrong odd url address. I give up and call again, this time outsmarting Mr. Computer and actually getting a live person to speak with. She's very courteous and remedies my situation. Great. That's taken care of. I get up from my couch and jerk in pain. I think I've stepped on a needle. I look down and see a pencil that has pierced my sock and is imbedded like an arrow into my heel. Dang! I hobble one foot while I pluck the pencil weapon from my heel. I take off my sock. My heel is bleeding. Great! I put pressure on it and change my socks.

Time to walk my dog, Nicky, who is barking at something in the basement. I go downstairs to see what it is. He's barking at the wall. Perhaps there's a mouse or other critter in there. Ironically, my cat, Callie, could care less. She looks at Nicky and then me. "He's crazy like that," she says. I say the word walk and Nicky bolts upstairs, abandoning his critter quest. I finish the walk with 30 minutes to spare.

My daughter has now arrived and decides to take a shower. As the bathroom is steaming up, I reapply my make-up, still unable to cover up stress acne. My hair flops in the hot moist room. I give up. It's an evening occasion. No one will notice anyway. I get dressed, planning to wear my new black tights. At least they looked black in the store. They're actually brown. Phooey! I rummage through my drawer for a clean BLACK pair. I put them on. The toes look funny. Sigh! I put them on inside out. I slip them off and turn them right side out.  I finish dressing and reach for the gift bag for the party gift exchange. I can't find the present to fill it. Where can it be? I have ten minutes to get out the door to catch my train. I rifle through all my bags. I find it and toss it into the gift bag, topping it off with tissue paper. I fling my coat on and zip up my boots. My heel still stings. I don't have time for pain because I need to catch my train. I grab the gift bag and say goodbye to Nicky and Callie. Nicky is busy barking at the wall again.

I drive to the train station eight minutes from my home. I cruise the parking lot. There's a car ahead of me inching along. I see the only empty space left. The BMW ahead of me pulls into this space. My space! How dare he? I circle around again, hoping someone is leaving. I see an attractive guy in a tailored black coat standing next to a car, his wallet on the roof. I pull up next to him.

"Are you leaving?" I ask.

He grins. "No. I just got here."

Of course he did! He's the guy in the BMW. I drive away, sticking my tongue at him.

I drive to next station, ten minutes away, and park on the side of the rural road. This road has no street lights. When I anticipate parking there, I bring a flashlight so that I can find my vehicle in the dark when I return. I have no flashlight. I figure I'd buy one at the drug store at Grand Central. Luckily I find a spot not far from the lighted path to the train station. I hike from the road carrying my gift bag in one hand and my purse, that has everything known to womankind in it (except a flashlight) in the other. I trudge to the train station. While on the platform waiting for my train, I spot a vending machine. Stressed out I can really go for some peanut M&Ms. I root through my wallet. Ordinarily I have tons of change, but not today. I find a dollar bill. I feed it into the machine and press the button for the peanut M&M's. No M&M's. What?! This selection is $1.50 rolls across the vending machine screen. A buck fifty for M&M s? Come on! I search for another dollar bill. When I feed it into the machine, it refuses to take it. I've lost one dollar and have no M&Ms to show for it. The train approaches.

The train gets packed quickly. I'm crammed into a seat. Well, the party is worth it. It's at a Turkish restaurant. I love Turkish food. I want Raki tonight, a Turkish liquor. Once at Grand Central, I stop into Papyrus card shop to get a special card for my son. I'm in luck. The store is practically empty. By the time I pick out the card, the store is filled with people. I'm shoved and bumped along to the cashier. One woman nastily asks if I'm in line. I say, "Yes, I am." She grunts. Hey, Merry Christmas, lady! I pay for my card and squeeze out of the store.

The restaurant is only 5 blocks from Grand Central. The walk will be good for me. Take my stress level down a peg. The streets are packed. I dodge other walkers. Bumped and shoved again, I arrive at the restaurant, thrilled. I have a great time with my Sisters in Crime buddies. After a fabulous meal we do our gift exchange. Every gift is picked up except the one I brought. This is like being picked last for Dodge Ball! Okay, so I'll take my own gift home plus the nice one I received.

I trudge to Grand Central, two gift bags and my albatross of a purse in tow. I flop into the train seat. Of course the person next to me has her cell phone glued to her ear. Hey, Merry Christmas! I really want to hear your friggin' conversation all the way home. Thankfully, she got off 5 stations before mine. Ah, finally peace and quiet.

I get off at my stop and hike to my car. I start the engine. Nuts! I have less than a quarter of a tank. The way my day is going I don't want to chance running out of gas. If I did, I'd be forced to hurt someone. I stop at the only gas station on the way home, the one with the priciest gas. I figure I'd put in a few gallons, enough to comfortably get me home. I start pumping. I watch every cent roll over at a snail's pace. Barely any gas is coming out. The guy ahead me tells me he's pumped over 10 minutes. He gives up. I give up. I make it home. I unload my gifts, one of which is my own, strip off my clothes, wash my face, brush my teeth, and crawl into bed. I throw the covers over my head and mutter "Merry Christmas!"

I'm better today. I finished the outdoor decorations. The sun was out. Nicky and I took our walk. He just vomitted. I must go now and launder his doggie bed.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! (I really mean it today!)

Do you have a stessful holiday tale?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Urge for Words

Alec Baldwin's obsession with Words With Friends resulting in his expulsion from a airplane flight prompted my own addiction with word games. After my daughter's boyfriend introduced to the same online game, I must admit I too am hooked.

As a writer, I have an affinity for words, and while playing these games I encounter words that I had no idea grace the pages of a dictionary. This only spurs me on. My pulse quickens. I try every combination of high score letters, sometimes succeeding, but just as many times admonished by the program word referee. "Bankety-blank" is not a word pops on the screen. "Oh yeah! Well take this!" Again I scramble the order. "Not a word," flashes on my IPAD screen. "What do you mean that's not a word? OK, fine. How about this one?"I drag another word candidate onto the tiles. Woo Hoo! 24 points. I wait for my opponent to move. It may be minutes. It may be hours.

And so it goes. I glance at my IPAD periodically , waiting to counter with another crazy word.

What games apps are you hooked on?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Countdown

It's the last day in November, and so the Holiday Countdown starts. For the first time, I'm done with my Christmas shopping before December starts. Now the fun begins.

This week I'm venturing into the attic and extracting my Christmas Village. It has mushroomed over the years and takes me three days to set up all the buildings, houses, roads with street lamps, and people. It takes up my dining room. But once it's up, I love to sit back with a hot cup of cocoa and enjoy my efforts, especially at night when I light it up.

Last night I watched I watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I can't wait for all my other favorite classics to make their annual holiday debut. My favorites are It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas in Connecticut, Home Alone, and the comedies Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase, and Scrooged with Bill Murray.

Also on my holiday to do list are putting up the tree and decorating it with memory filled ornaments, dusting off classic cookie recipes and pulling out the rolling pin and cookie cut outs.

Finally, I take out my copy of Mary Higgins Clark's Dashing Through the Snow, a wonderful holiday story. But it's also wonderful because of what's inside the cover. I met Mary Higgins Clark at a Mystery Writers of America/New York City Chapter holiday party where she was the honorary Santa Claus. She spoke to me as if I was her friend. Her book was included in the gift bag. Mary Higgins Clark smiled as I handed her a my copy to sign. She asked me what I wrote. I said, "Romantic suspense." She asked if my book was published. I smiled back and shook my head. She then asked the name of my protagonist. I said, "Dr. Tara Ross." Mary Higgins Clark wrote, "For Tanya. Here's to Dr. Tara Ross. Long may she reign." She handed the book back to me and said, "Your book will be published."

Thank you, Mary Higgins Clark.

Her words of encouragement helped me through two holiday seasons. This season I received word that my book will be published.  If Memory Serves, featuring my protagonist, Dr. Tara Ross, is due for release in November 2012 by Knight Romance Publishing. Long may she reign, indeed!

What's on your holiday to do list?