Spooky story: Read it if you dare

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 31:  Children coll...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I hope you'll click on over to the flash fiction website Rose City Sisters and read my just posted story "Death Dealer (Or Bob Strikes Back)." Clocking in at less than 500 words, it is the dramatic, spine-tingling follow up to my story "Sweet Revenge. It's just right for Halloween.
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My fascinating, secret life!


Georgie has given me this award, which was awfully nice of her and for which I say thanks. She has a pretty sweet blog herself. I'm supposed to say seven things you don't know about me and nominate seven other blogs. I'm going to wimp out on choosing the other blogs. I love all the blogs I read and I nominate them all. As for the seven things...well, will it shock you to know:

1. I am unnaturally good at hula hooping and unnaturally bad at every other sport in the entire world (and, yes, I think I'm stretching to consider hula hooping a sport).
2. My greatest regret is that I gave away my entire collection of original (circa 1970s) Star Wars action figures only to find out latter that the jawa alone was worth $200.
3. I also had an original Star Wars movie poster. I have no idea what happened to it, and I don't even like to think about it. It's too upsetting.
4. I also had a model R2D2 that I made.
5. And a model Ty Fighter.
6. Yes. I know that not many girls were this obsessed with Star Wars. Yes, I do think I was strange.
7. Until very recently, the Darth Vader theme song was the ringtone on my cell phone. I finally changed it because, once, I was walking down the street when my phone rang. This homeless guy was sitting nearby, and as I was frantically searching through my purse for my phone, he looked up at me and said, "Is that the Darth Vader song?" He looked at me like I was so pathetically nerdy that I was shamed into switching into this sort of zen garden ring tone;it sort of reminds me of Yoda.


Goddess of the Week: Mictacacihuatl

Mictecacihuatl at the Parade of the Lost SoulsImage by Thomas Milne via Flickr

True story:

I knew this professor -- an historian -- at UCLA. She was staying with this very modest family in rural Mexico who were allowing her to sleep on their couch while she did her research. She woke up in the middle in the night and this woman she'd never seen before walked past her and then just evaporated, like steam, like a thin fog. The woman was gone. When the professor mentioned this to her hosts they shook their heads. They didn't know what she was talking about, only then did the professor realize she'd seen a ghost.

Ghosts needs goddesses too, of course, and so, on this week before Halloween, I give you Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec goddess of the underworld, who watched over the bones of the dead, lest they be stolen. With her skull face, serpent skirt and sagging breasts, I'm thinking she was pretty good at keeping thieves at bay.

I know what you're thinking: why would anyone want to steal the bones of the dead? Turns out bones are precious. The Aztecs said they were like seeds and could be used to germinate new life. In fact, the god Quetzalcoatl took Mictecacihuatl's old pile of bones to create humans, so now she must guard her bones even more carefully in case Quetzalcoatl comes back and tries to create something even more dangerous.

To placate the aggrieved Mictecacihuatl, the Aztecs worshipped their lady of the dead in a month long festival that, despite a few changes in venue and ritual, is still celebrated today. Happy Dia de Los Muertos to you.

This goddess is for my daughter, a Halloween baby.

Channel this goddess: when confronting goblins, ghosts and wee little beasties or when bra shopping (because sagging breasts really work for no one, even people with totally cool serpent skirts).

Need a goddess: Leave me a comment in the comment section telling me what you need. I'll see what I can do.
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Wise Women Friday: Helen Fielding

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Writer Helen Fi...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Words of wisdom from English novelist Helen Fielding:

...although we have discovered our Inner Bitches,
we have not yet unlocked them.

It is hard to unlock your Inner Bitch if you have been advised your whole life to be nice. Nice is good. Nice is fine. Nice sweetens the coffee, just like sugar helps the medicine go down. But, the truth is, nice doesn't always work. Nice doesn't always get you what you want. It doesn't always open doors. Sometimes, nice blows up in your face.

There are times in life when you need to unlock your Inner Bitch. You must let her out. You must let her do the work that needs to be done. You must be tough. You must be professional. You must NOT WORRY about nice.

You will worry that if you let your Inner Bitch out, people will actually call you a bitch. Let them. Own this word. Take it back from your detractors. Language is power. Take power. If people said you were a tiger or a lion, you would feel strong and powerful. If people say you are bitch, feel loyal, protective, courageous and true. That's what a female dog is.

Whatever power you need to fight, fight it. Go. Be a bitch.

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Goddess of the Week: The Graces

The Three Graces, HermitageImage via Wikipedia

Happiness: the holy grail of emotions. It's hard to find and even harder to hold on to, which is why, when it comes to happiness, you need more than one goddess. You need three. Namely, you need the Greek graces. They're sort of like the muses, in that they are sisters who hang out together and who, because they do good deeds instead of start wars, are considered minor deities.

Aglaia (goddess of splendor), Euphrosyne (goddess of joyfulness ) and Thalia (goddess of rejoicing) were daughters of Zeus and...hmmm....It was always so hard to tell with Zeus. They might have been Hera's daughters, but they might have been Eurynome's daughters. It's a little awkward so we'll leave it at that.

The point is, these sisters liked to have a good time. They liked to dance and listen to music. They hung out with party boys Apollo (god of music), Dionysus (god of wine) and Hermes (the messenger god who invented Whoopie Cushions and squirting lapel flowers). They were also attendants to Aphrodite, who also liked to have a good time and who had children with Apollo, Dionysus and Hermes.

But don't go thinking the Graces were a bunch of slutty Paris Hiltons in togas and stilettos. Oh, no. The Graces were no floozies. They were good friends who recognized that life gives you two choices: you can cultivate despair or you can cultivate joy. They cultivated joy.

Like this one time. Aphrodite was totally bummed because her husband Hephaistos had arranged for all the gods to see him catch Aphrodite and the war god Ares in bed together. Afterwards, Aphrodite was so embarrassed that she slunk off to Cypress and became so despondent that she wouldn't even blow dry her hair. The Graces went after her. They listened to Aprodite's laments. They ran her some bubble baths. They took her shopping. They gave her some chocolate. They did not give up on Aphrodite until she went back to Mt. Olympus looking hotter than ever and completely ready to cheat on her husband again.

The Graces teach us that cultivating joy is like cultivating a garden. It takes work. Happiness won't just come to you. You've got to make it happen. You've got to fight off inertia like you've got to fight off white flies. Go. Connect with friends. Eat chocolate. Indulge yourself. Listen to music. Dance. Don't listen to people who would bring you down. Put on your best dress and live.

Channel this goddess: When you're feeling blue, when you're stuck in a rut and you don't know how to get out, when you've lost your spark and want it back, or when you're going out with friends and you're looking for fun.

Georgie: The Graces are for you. Buy them a beer or a least some ice cream.

Need a goddess: Tell me what you need her for and I'll see what I can do.
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Wise Women Friday: Jane Asten

1869 engraving showing an idealized, young :en...Image via Wikipedia

Words of wisdom from English writer Jane Austen (1775-1817):

The less said the better.

Trust me: this is very good advice. I have spent a lifetime forgetting it, and a lifetime regretting it.
I've always admired people who can hold their tongues. Sometimes, in a flash of their eyes, you can even see their minds spinning as they puzzle out the most appropriate responses to questions or ideas. They actually think before they speak, and when they do speak, they somehow know when to stop.

Me? I'm like a Santa Ana wind. I blow long, I blow hot, and I leave strewn palm fronds in my wake. Or, as my husband once told me, "You have no tact."

It's a horrible thing to have no tact. You can never really tell the difference between what's frank, what's better left unsaid, and what's simply too much information. Even when you can tell the difference, verbal gas escapes from your mouth wand you end up stinking up the room.


Did I just say verbal gas? See? I'm pretty sure that was better left unsaid.

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Dear Arnold

This driver is using two phones at onceImage via Wikipedia

Dear Arnold:

Let me get this right. TMZ catches your wife illegally talking on her cell phone while driving, so you Twitter TMZ founder Harvey Levin and say, "Thanks for bringing her violations to my attention....There's go to be swift action."

Hmmmm. "Swift action."


What? You gonna give her a talking to? You gonna spank her? You gonna lock her in the rubber room with all the bad teachers? My goodness, you governors do have a lot of power, don't you? And so much responsibility! Who knew that you were in charge of scofflaws. It must be so hard being you.

Now, I'd love to stay and chat, but this is my furlough day. I'm not allowed to even think. Maybe you need a furlough day, too?
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Goddess of the Week: The Muses

The Muses Clio, Euterpe and Thalia, by Eustach...Image via Wikipedia

Got muses?

The muses are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (goddess of memory), and they are the sources of inspiration. Traditionally, they are called upon to help artists, but I like to think that they'll help anyone who is ready to live and think more creatively.

The Greek poet Salon thought so too. He said that the muses brought "prosperity and friendship" to people who honed their skills and always tried their best, which is why, of course, people loved the muses. Who doesn't want to party with someone who'll bring you prosperity and friendship just for being exuberant about the thing you love?

These are Greek goddesses, however, so, of course, there must be a caveat. Here's the thing: Do what you love, commit to it fully, but don't make the mistake of thinking you're walking around with Einstein's brain. The muses inspire. You create. Which is just another way of saying give credit where credit is due. Even the greatest artists and inventors did not work in vacuums. They lived in the world. They did their homework. They met and talked with like-minded souls. If you're are thinking about making a change, you need to be out in the world too.

This one king guy, Pierus, didn't give credit. He had nine daughters. He named each of them after a muse, and then he went around telling everyone that they were as good as the muses. The muses challenged the daughters to a contest. The daughters accepted, which was really stupid because you cannot beat a god. Ever. They are omnipotent. You are human. Deal with it. Anyway, the daughters lost and the muses turned them into magpies, where their creative choices were reduced to warbling and choosing which tree branch to sit on.

Channel this goddess: In this economy? Are you kidding? Channel the muses constantly! If you are re-thinking your career, if you are re-thinking your home, if you are re-thinking your meals, if you are re-thinking your relationship, you need muses. You also need muses if you're re-thinking who you want to be and how you want to live your life. So go! Find your muses! They're out there in the world, and they're waiting for you.

Rois: I know your situation has changed, but maybe you still need a sisterhood of lovely ladies. Will these do?

Need a goddess: So easy! Just leave me a comment. I'll see what I can do.
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Goddess of the Week: Ame-No-Uzume

Cave at Ama-no-Iwato Shrine where Amaterasu hidImage via Wikipedia

What do men want? Goddesses, of course.

Hmmm...but there are so many goddesses. Which to choose? I mean it's not like buying a tie. It's not a matter of color and stripes. A goddess is more personal. She's a bit of a muse after all. She's inspiration. She's luck. She's the most direct route to your goal, but she's also like a big truck filled with flammable gas. One wrong move and kaboom. So -- as always -- one must choose wisely.

Personally, I don't think any man can go wrong with Ame-No-Uzume, also known simply as Uzume. Uzume is the Shinto goddess of the dawn and laughter. If it weren't for her, we'd all be mooning about in the dark.

Here's the deal: You may recall that Susano-Wo (the storm god) was just a nightmare. Having totally tormented the goddess of food, he had to go piss off his sister Amaterasu, goddess of the sun. He got her so mad that she went and hid in a cave, leaving the whole world in darkness. All the gods and goddess begged her to return, but you know how mad sisters can get.

Uzume was all, "Fine, Ameratsu. Pout away. You're not going to haul me into immortal gloom."

To prove it, Uzume started dancing in front of Ameratsu's cave. Now, you know those friends who really feel the music and flail around out of control and break things and look pretty ridiculous? Ok. That's Uzume, except she was a lot worse. The other gods couldn't help themselves. They burst into laughter. Ameratsu got so curious about what was going on that she left her cave, restoring light to the world.

Uzume reminds us to seek joy and to laugh even when we're trapped in the dark.

Channel this goddess: When you want to laugh, when you want to have fun, and, especially, when life gives you obstacles that shackle your laughter.

Italo: You're a funny guy. Will this one do?

Need a goddess: Hey! Guess what! I find goddesses for people. Tell me your need. I'll see what I can do.
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Wise Women Friday: Linda Dove

An icon from gnome-themes-extras-0.9.0.tar.bz2...Image via Wikipedia

Words of wisdom from American poet Linda Dove:

Awe proves unsustainable...

Can we talk some more about my dog? What I love about my dog is that -- for her-- every pleasure is always sustainable. She is all exclamation points. "OMG! This kibble is fantastic!" "We're going for a walk! OMG! That's just what I've always wanted to do! "Squirrel!" "Cat!" Car ride." "Bacon!"

When my children were toddlers, they were like my dog in that every morning they woke up raring to go, battery charged, as if to say, "Look! I'm conscious! We better get busy!"

At some point that stopped. At some point their awe became unsustainable. They took it for granted that morning would follow night, that lunch would follow breakfast, and that chicken gets really boring after a very short time. They became like the rest of us.

"Awe is unsustainable." But why? What evolutionary advantage does that confer? How does it help us, but not dogs? Why?

P.S.: You might want to check out Linda Dove's blog, http://lindadove.blogspot.com, for more of her poems and wise musings. She also has a new book of poetry, In Defense of Objects, available at Bear Star Press.
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