Category Archives: Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop

The Badass & A ‘Fro Below

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The Badass & A ‘Fro Below

Last night I was at a book club meeting with some friends. I think we all know that “book club” is code for over indulging in food and adult beverages in the suburbs. I partook in the food and limited beverages to water because I prefer to chew my calories. I am sworn to secrecy regarding my companions (not really, no one got sloppy). I will say I ate a hamster’s weight in bacon wrapped dates and I regret nothing, N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

The book we were discussing was Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares by Sherry Stanfa-Stanley. FindingMyBadassSelf  I met Sherry at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference this past April and we hit it off. After the conference I contacted Sherry because I wanted to purchase 10 of her books. I turned the big ‘5-OH’ in June and I decided to give the books as a favor to the ladies who attended my birthday dinner. At that dinner a friend offered to host a book club to discuss it.

The book gave a description of Sherry’s experiences while ticking off an eclectic bucket list of things that pushed her out of her comfort zone. The tone of the book is friendly with a good amount of humor. It’s an interesting and fun read. I read the book in early May and one thing that stood out to me was the rhino situation. There are a few lines in the book that caught my attention (page 193 if you happen to have a copy):

(Sherry) “Oh! I think he’s going to pee!”

“Um, no,” Robin said. “See his equipment down there? This is similar to how we manually ejaculate him.”

I read that and I immediately had a stream of questions and thoughts. Here are some of them in no particular order:

Holy sh*t is this rhino getting happy endings as part of his care?

How often?

Is it always the same person or does this task get rotated? (and really which one is more disturbing; a rotating team of happy ending professionals or a single individual responsible for the “the job”? I’m still debating that. I’m leaning toward the one individual being worse because then it seems like an exclusive relationship, this bothers me. Is it consensual?)

Anyhow there were 52 unique and interesting experiences described in the book and this one was the one that haunted me. I may be a 12 year old boy trapped in the body of a midlife female.

Other topics carried over into things we had tried in our own life – one person jumped out of perfectly good airplanes several times (for fun, the weirdo). Others discussed being on nude beaches, eating in the dark, zip lines, sex shops (I told you it was a good book) and the “woes of waxing”.

I got a Brazilian wax once so I had some skin in the game on this one (wink for those that have experienced it). For the uninitiated, there is no amount of candle light, chanting monks and calming incense that can tame the horror of getting your lady bits waxed. Basically you are placed on a table with your legs pushed as close to your head as possible. The goal is to have your feet nestled beside your ears, easy peasy if you happen to be a double jointed acrobat, a ballerina or an expert level Yogi. Sadly I can not list any of those credentials on my resume.

I’m fairly bendy though so positioning was not the worst part. The worst part is having a Gyno light switched on while you are in that position and happen to be naked (or wearing a thong whose sole purpose is to help you pretend you have some modesty….insert maniacal laugh…you don’t, it’s all gone, it left with dignity.) Once the hospital-like floodlight is pointed toward your nether regions, a thin coat of hot (think lava) wax is applied to your most delicate areas – front to back. Then because that isn’t awful enough, tape is used to yank the wax and hair off (perhaps with some skin and 13% of your soul) At some point the technician will ask what your pruning preference is for the front of the house. The options range from geometric shapes to completely bald. I went with the landing strip option. A lightning bolt would have been cool sadly, I didn’t think of it until after and I never went back (that was 2007).

One of my friends who attended last night sent me a link to an article this morning which described a hairy situation. Apparently there is a feminist movement for growing out hair where in previous years the trends have been to shave or wax (down below, armpits, legs, anywhere). I replied with a big nope. Do what you want ladies, I’ll keep the ‘fro below to a crew cut.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_bankjayphotto’>bankjayphotto / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

 

 

 

 

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Slow Your Roll

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Slow Your Roll

Some observations from a recent road trip returning from the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in Dayton, Ohio to Bucks County, Pennsylvania…

We left at the crack of 8am, 7:45 to be precise. We both carried an enormous amount of luggage to the car. We are “one trip” gals. You know the type, 12 bags of groceries in the family vehicle and determined to lug it all in with one trip. The husband and kids scatter like roaches when the lights come on whenever it’s time to unload the car.

We’ve been training for this for years. Last week I got eight bags in the house in one swoop. I’m not talking about those plastic bags that you wear up your forearm like the worst bracelets ever invented. These were fully loaded paper in plastic bags filled to the tippy top. The task would have been simpler if only I had remembered my reusable bags. Those things rarely get a glimpse of the world beyond the juice stained, tissue infested floorboard of my car. Naturally, the groceries were bagged in the same order that they will be unpacked because I’m domestic and sh*t. Anyhow, the combined 432 pounds of books we acquired did not alter our “one trip” course. I suspect we resembled Sherpas at the base of Mt Everest but no one seemed to notice.

We decided to just get up and go, hit the road early. No shower, no coffee, no breakfast, surely we will find something on the way. That was stupid. Our first round of disappointment was at an Ohio rest stop. We thought, “surely there will be coffee here”, nope. It was an impressive building from the outside looked like it had been built within this decade. Inside was a cavernous land of empty bathrooms, disappointment and broken coffee dreams. There were bathrooms and vending machines, that’s it. We hadn’t yet reached the – let’s see if there is vending machine coffee – phase of desperation so, we got back in the car, sans steamy nectar of the Gods.

I don’t know how many miles passed before we saw an exit sign that hinted at coffee. It felt like it took two days and we were still in Ohio. We decided to exit the highway and fetch a cup to go. I was drawn to the shiny building. It looked like a 50’s diner, a chrome and neon oasis, surely they will have coffee. They did indeed have coffee.

We waited anxiously at the cash register where we made and paid for our purchase. The place was a blur of breakfast activity, it was clear that we hit the rush hour. It’s fine we’ll just wait, how long could it be? After an eon our coffees arrived and then we were shooed to a side of the counter to deal with our coffee fixins. I can get by with no sugar, I can not adapt to no cream. Our request for cream was met with a handful of those little half and half cups. You know the ones, they have approximately three drops of some mysterious liquid that the lab has passed off as half and half (half and half of what exactly, I’m not sure).

So there we were at the counter, desperately opening the three drops full containers in a frenzy while being bumped into by waitresses hauling enormous breakfast trays. Those creamers require the dexterity of a skilled surgeon to open. It was not graceful or efficient but we persevered. It was clear that the five containers they gave us would not suffice, we needed more half and half. I spied a table with a little bowl overflowing with them. I was tempted to make a request but the occupants were deep in conversation and I didn’t want to disturb them. Eventually we flagged a waitress down and noticing our empties, she gave us a bucket full of creamers. We finally got out of there and it’s barely worth mentioning but…the coffee was not worth the wait.

We were back in the car with mediocre coffee in hand. It was another 40 minutes before we saw the green and white sign. We knew the coffee there would also be mediocre but it would be a level up from the swill we already purchased. This time we opted for the drive-thru. Since I don’t like the coffee at this particular chain, I usually get a chai tea latte. I was still somewhat under-caffeinated and glazed over from the hours of early morning driving and ordered a “chatte latte” which sadly, only exists in my sleepy-caffeine-deprived mind. My friend gave me a quizzical look and I corrected the order immediately. Then we went on a wild tangent and by the time I got to the window to pay for the order, I had laughter induced tears in my eyes. The young woman handing over the steaming beverages did not find us amusing. In her defense, if she had heard the fictitious story about the lumberjack and the negligee wearing giraffe, she may have at least smirked.

Back on the road and did I mention that I got a speeding ticket on our outbound journey? True story and dashboard Jesus was instrumental in negotiating a lesser fine (Thank You Jesus). Anyhow, that tempered my lead footed ways. My friend’s consistent “slow your roll” commentary also kept me in check. We kept driving, sharing bits and pieces of our lives with each other, some stories were a refresher on previous conversations. Other bits were long ago fragments of chapters in each of our stories that we simply hadn’t gotten to in past chats. Each story was told with frankness, without fear of judgement which truly defines this friendship. It is quite magical when that happens.

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I’m pretty sure this is the universal sign for “slow your roll”

In our last stop on our way home we filled up the gas tank and then opted to get a snack. We were six hours into the journey at this point and I stumbled upon the best snack food ever created. I sh*t you not. Werther’s Original Caramel Popcorn (Sea Salt & Pretzel) is a snack GAWD. I have been searching for this stuff ever since we returned. Local stores can’t keep it on the shelves. I may break down and buy it online because I can only find the plain caramel variety and that just isn’t getting the job done. If you want to follow me down this rabbit hole, check out the review I stumbled upon:

http://junkbanter.com/2016/09/20/review-werthers-original-caramel-popcorn-sea-salt-pretzel/

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99 varieties of caramel popcorn and Werther’s Original with Sea Salt & Pretzel ain’t one.

When we were an hour out from our destination I texted my husband, it went like this:

Me: I’ll be home around 5pm

Hubs: OK we have food.

My friend and I were both stumped by his text so we did what women do, we put it under the mental microscope for analysis. Did he think I would cook dinner? Is he saying don’t stop at the grocery store? He can’t possibly think I’ll cook dinner or food shop after a 10 hour drive…

The mystery was solved when I came home and saw that we did indeed have food. Turns out my father in law was in the mood to cook so there was a lasagna and stuffed eggplant for dinner. That was a nice surprise.

My advice for a successful road trip is simple:

  1. Pee before you leave
  2. Bring snacks
  3. Take Jesus with you
  4. A great friend makes the time and miles fly
  5. Slow your roll

 

 

Erma Bound…I’m Bringing Oreos

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Erma Bound…I’m Bringing Oreos

One more sleep until my friend Little Miss Wordy (insert shameless plug: https://littlemisswordy.com/ ) and I make the trek to Dayton, Ohio. It’s an estimated 9 hour drive which sounds awful but Leah and I haven’t seen each other much the past two weeks so we will chat the time away. I’m the newbie on this road trip and I’m pretty excited about it.

This is only my second time traveling for a writing workshop. My first was Writer’s Digest last summer in NYC. That was great but I already know this one will be better. It’s smaller which is a plus and the genre is more specialized. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about Erma when I signed up for this event. I’ve been catching up, reading her long ago columns and getting glimpses into her life. I think we would’ve gotten along just fine.

Here’s what I’m packing:

  1. Hope. Hope that I have indeed found my tribe. That I will be surrounded by people that “get” me. A home where my quirky sense of humor is appreciated or at least accepted.
  2. Willingness. Willingness to be open to new ideas and listen attentively to people and concepts that I may not encounter on a daily basis.
  3. Friendship. The spirit of friendship and good will. I hope to bring this with me when I return home.
  4. Kindness. To everyone I encounter on this journey.
  5. The other essentials – clothes, toothpaste, toothbrush, lap top, chargers, 4 pairs of shoes, and a variety of black sweat pants that all look the same to the untrained eye.
  6. Oreos. To sweeten some introductions and to promote my book which has some mention of Oreos sprinkled throughout. Anyone have connections at Nabisco?
  7. My book draft!

 

Here’s what I’m leaving behind:

  1. Ethel. Ethel is the self-doubting prairie dog that lives in my head. She’s awful and sneaky, she pops up from time to time.
  2. Expectation. Keeping this to a minimum.
  3. Impatience. I have gobs of this at home hoping I don’t need it on this trip.

 

To all the friends I haven’t met yet, I look forward to meeting you in person. I’ll be the one with the Oreos probably wearing a hat and perhaps a cape.