Tangled Yarns

Tangled Yarns

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Freedom n. The quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous.

-       From the Merriam Webster Dictionary

“You must have a preference.”
Boxers or briefs. Silk or cotton. Baggy or tailored. My skin itches.
“You have plenty of options.”
Cadmium. Chartreuse.  Crimson. The colors in my closet blur. My head aches as I helplessly stare at them.
 “There’s quite a selection”
Hazelnut. Chocolate. Cinnamon. Vanilla. Coffee. The scents surround me. Besiege me. I am powerless.
“You need to choose.”
Rye or whole wheat. Turkey or ham. Mayonnaise or mustard. The selection is nauseating.
“Just pick already.”
Jazz. Rock. Classical. Rap. Spirituals. Show tunes. The cacophony coming from the speakers is relentless.

I panic from the overwhelming input. Sweating and shaking, I wake.
The nylon straps’ embrace snaps me back to reality.  The reassuring scent of the leather hood banishes the remnants of the nightmare. The darkness is a relief after the vivid horror show in my mind. Master’s hushed footsteps soothe me. Warm water and oatmeal is fed to me. No demands, no choices.
I am free.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Finding Yourself

Once upon a time, I only used the Internet to find information. Movie times, phone numbers, book releases...nothing of importance. It slowly became an excellent way to keep in touch with loved ones, people who already knew me, and for the most part understood me. In all my goofy glory. Over time, I joined discussion groups, met people and made friends. I am always curious as to what sort of impression I have made on these people, who never hear me laugh, or see me actually smile. It's amusing to say something or show an interest in something, and have an online buddy raise a virtual eyebrow (and possibly a real one too) in surprise.

Some of my hobbies scream 'domestic diva' - I knit and crochet. Cross-stitch, bake and I want to learn to quilt. I am a mom, one who is lucky enough to be at home most of the time. (Not knocking working moms! Been there, and it has it's perks too.) I love Anne of Green Gables, and Little House on the Prairie. I was appalled by the modernization of my beloved Holly Hobbie. I love children, and miss working with them. Baby clothes make me coo, every time. Even looking at the colors and images on this site show a much softer side of me than I recognize.

Don't get me wrong - I love all of those things without reservation or shame. I am comfortable with my feminine side. I've even learned to use curlers and put on make-up! I finally own more shoes with heels than with laces. And I don't stumble when I walk in them!

My "Hell, yeah, I lost 40 lbs" Celebration night

Then there's this other side. The one that played D&D and met her husband at a Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) game. Think improv theater meets Rock-Paper-Scissors.  Neil Gaiman's Sandman was a fundamental part of my high school years. I've read Lovecraft, watched Army of Darkness (often) and am an avid fan of Science Fiction is all its forms. I enjoy dressing in everything from my Morticia Addams dress to Renaissance Faire garb. I have a fabulous set of leather and buckle cuffs. And matching collar. They are great for a night at a club. Or LARPing.

I'm not ashamed of that side of me either. It's not one that I advertise, because it has made other people uncomfortable. Or confused. I project the pink and fluffy side far more than I think I do. Especially online. Having hit my mid-30's, there is this pressure to always be grown up and sophisticated. I've never considered myself to be either. But I can fake it for a time. I even enjoy it. It's just another form of playing pretend, like LARP and Renn Faire.

But what voice to use here? The question is balance. An old friend, my oldest friend, was amused that my blog is all pink and sweet, but my first post references the web comic Devil's Panties. She said it fits me perfectly. Another friend, a newer one, laughed that my flash fics went from baking apple pie to...well, that's for this Friday. No spoilers today, sorry. I suppose, for now, I will just go back and forth, the way I do in "real" life. I am not just a Pollyanna nor am I a gothic pin-up girl or strictly a gamer grrl. I am all that and more. I hope those of you that are just getting to know me will enjoy the twists and turns tossed on as I meander through life. I do.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jack Frost

The frigid air sears my lungs, making it harder to run. My gasps for air and pounding heartbeat do nothing to drown out the scratching sound of my pursuer. Skeletal branches, so hauntingly poetic in the day, petrify me in the dark. The pregnant moon spotlights my every move. The barren branches offer no shadows to hide me. Ice coated brambles grab my sodden jacket. Panic explodes through me. I rip free, and finally reach the clearing that holds my home.
 My sanctuary.  I see the warm glow of the fire in the windows; smell the smoke from the chimney. It’s so close, a mere twelve feet away.
There’s no way to run silently in snow. The glittering crust cracks with every footstep, the sound magnified by my terror. I hit a deep drift and it swallows my leg up to my knee. Exhausted, I struggle to keep moving.
 Chattering little creatures pour from the tree line, an otherworldly dance troupe flitting across the top of the snow.  Their icy skin glows in the moonlight. A part of my soul yearns to dance with them.  It makes me hesitate, just a moment too long. The creeping ice touches the back of my leg, jolting me back to reality with a burning intensity.
Survival instinct spurs me forward, struggling to reach porch.  I hear the radio murmuring “…composed in 1946…” Behind me, the corps de ballet relentlessly spin and leap, erasing the ugly scars my trail left on their stage.  With soaked clothes now made of ice, I pull myself up the steps and stretch desperately for the door. Thick frost creeps down my arm.
“…roasting on an open…”
My fingers stiffen like my frozen clothes; I fumble at the door knob. It is impossible to grip. I cannot even cry as the crystalline beast dances up  my shoulder and peers into my eyes.
“…Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Smart Chicks have more fun

It is always a joy to go to a signing. There is nothing as fun as being a total fangirl in a crowd of people just a obsessed as you are. Last night I had the immense pleasure of attending the Smart Chicks Kick It tour with a few friends. If a signing with fangirls for one author is fun, multiply that by 6.
Alyson Noel, Carri Ryan, Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Jackson Pearce, and Jennifer Barnes
I've seen Kelley and Melissa before - they came to the wonderful Anderson Bookstore last year, and I got hooked. I'd been reading Kelley's books for sometime, but had never had the fun of going to a book signing. I'm very happy to tell you that the wit and humor that you read in their books is just as apparent in person.

Getting ready for the raffle

One of the things I love about signings are the little things that you learn in passing. The lightening round of questions was particularly informative: This whirlwind tour was planned on a lunchtime phone call between Alyson, Kelley and Melissa....and yet Melissa is clearly considered the ringleader. Who will eventually get them all arrested. They aren't entirely sure what she will talk them into, but every last panelist was quite certain she would be the reason they would be calling home for bail money. (Melissa wants everyone to know she has never been in jail. Thank you.)

In more concrete news- as in there will be books for me to buy - Kelley has been contracted for up to book 9 in her YA Darkest Powers series. And there will be an anthology of stories written by the various authors that have been on the tour. (There are 16, I believe.) In the stories, there will be some lucky individual from each stop that gets to be killed horribly. (Because, as Melissa pointed, to do it at the signing would leave too many witnesses. I don't know why they think she'd get them arrested. She's clearly one smart cookie. If you listen to her, you won't get caught.)

Brilliant, beautiful, and too sweet to be jealous of: Jennifer Barnes

Jennifer Barnes is on her way to publishing the sequel to the fabulous Raised by Wolves, for which I could not be more excited. I grabbed this book in large part because I HATE going to a signing with more than one author and not having read something from each. I do, however, love finding new gems in preparation for an event. And this book is definitely a treasure. I love the new twist on werewolves, and the way I was completely drawn into her world. For the benefit of the spoiler-phobic, I'll stop there.

Jackson Pearce - Full of smiles and laughter.

I didn't manage to read something from everyone, which was disappointing to me. I love being able to talk to the authors about what I liked, and have a chance to ask questions about the characters. But Jackson, Carrie and Alyson were so kind about me not being able to read their work yet. Alyson's book, Evermore, is sitting next to me, impatiently waiting for my attention. Jackson is quite the character. Her storytelling abilities on the the stage were fantastic, and had me laughing every time. I can't wait to check out her books.   And I've check the bank account several times to remind myself that I can't run out to the bookstore and pick up The Dead-Tossed Waves (Carrie Ryan) or Sisters Red (Jackson Pearce) until pay day.
 It's killin' me.

Can you guess which blond, blue eyed wolf this is? Yes. I'm that big of a geek.

I have to laugh at myself a bit. This all started because I'm a big giant geeky fan of Kelley, and couldn't resist a chance to meet her. One year later, I have 5 more authors that I am desperately hoping swing back this way so I can meet them again. There is so much more that is tumbling in my brain to share, some of which, I think would only be funny to those who were there. One more reason to get off your duffs and get to any signing that you can. It's so worth it.

It isn't just the possibility of swag that calls me to these events. Or knowing that my entire collection of Kelley books are now signed. (That's certainly a perk.) It's the laughter and silliness. It's sharing a moment with like minded people, talking to fellow fans about what touched us, or made us laugh. Why we like a particular character, or what we don't like about a particular scene. I walked away from last night with reasons to re-read and re-examine books that I love, to see them from a new perspective. I got encouragement to keep adventuring through my own writing. I got, for a brief moment, to see my some of my literary heroines kicking ass it and tell them how well they are doing it. I hope everyone takes the opportunity to go to a signing. What you get from them is so much more than a signature.

Favorite Fangirl Moment. Smart Chicks Rock.
I am going to add one game here from last night. Pick an author from the tour and tell me which of their characters you'd shag, which one you'd marry and which one you'd toss off a cliff. For me, I have to go with Kelley's Otherworld series. How you could possibly pick anyone but Nick for the first, I don't know. I can only imagine what tricks he can do. *flushes*  Antonio for the second, and Thomas Nast can get tossed.
What about you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How soon is too soon for Halloween?

Does anyone else remember the days when we didn't start shopping for a holiday until the month it was in? School supplies were pulled the first week of September, and the Halloween candy has been taunting me ever since. (Damn you, candy corn!) We still have more than a month until the day actually arrives! Do you really think I could keep a bag of candy in the house until then? Pfft. Even if I didn't have kids, that would take an act of God. And who needs to buy those flimsy pre-made pieces of crap costumes this early?

I think that is the part of modern day Halloween that depresses me the most. It feels like we plan and plot so much earlier for Halloween, and yet we use a fraction of the imagination and ingenuity that I remember from childhood. It's all store bought. It's not so much that people didn't plan for Halloween this early when I was younger, it's that they worked hard for the reactions they got. Peeling grapes for fake eyeballs is a labor of love, no doubt about it.

My mom was never a big Halloween fan, and yet she came up with some great ideas - usually on the fly and costing very little money. My younger sister went as a gangster one year - Al Capone style - in our brother's suit, an old felt hat, and some artfully applied make up for a mustache and five o'clock shadow. The baby in the family (there are 19 cousins on mom's side, and most of us wore this at least once) wore the green sleeper pajamas with pom poms sewn on the front and a goofy clown wig to keep their head warm. The plastic bowler hat got passed around too, to be worn with a white sheet and painted white face. What's wrong with being a ghost?

Freakin' loved these costumes

My family is not the only people that I remember being inventive with costumes. One mom made herself into a Hersey's Kiss with some wire and aluminum foil. A high school buddy wore a dark ankle length robe with a hood. He'd be at the front of the line as a monk, then pull the hood up as he went to the back of the pack, grab his scythe from a friend and take up the rear guard as Death. (Ah, Darbro, you will forever be my Halloween Hero.) What happened to that kind of adventure?

When did Halloween become about pimping your kid's favorite tv show? Or dressing like you have a pimp? I like to dress up, I like to look sexy, but seriously, can we please have some women's costumes that don't look they belong at Hef's house? October in Chicago is not the time to be wandering around half naked.

My sister is the Halloween fanatic of the family, and she plans the outfits every year. They are always fabulous, even if most of them are store bought. She finds ways to make them unique. I acknowledge that the days of strictly homemade costumes are gone. However, this is the first year we have done anything affiliated with anything famous. In honor of my oldest finally discovering that books are better than movies, we are doing a Harry Potter theme.

Can't you just see her poppin' Draco in the face?
 Abby girl will make a perfect Hermione - she's got the wavy hair and know-it-all attitude down to a T. John is excited to don the glasses and scar of Harry. We may even darken his hair for the day. We are buying robes, but sewing on the patches. I'm knitting the scarves, thanks to Charmed Knits. I'm also making some really awesome wand cozies for them to carry their wands around. If I can find the time.what was I saying about it being too early to plan for Halloween...
Just started yesterday. Any bets on if I'll finish in time?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thank you for SPEAKing out

I've watched the posts fly through the 'net about the idiot who wants to ban the book SPEAK. And I've retweeted, and shared on facebook some of the blogs that are shouting him down.

I've tried about a dozen times now to add my voice to this chorus, and words are failing me.

I am a rape survivor.

It's a fact that some of my family members are not even aware of. They don't read this, that I am aware of, and if they do...I'm sorry that this is the way you are finding out. It's been a long time since it happened, and there's no easy way to bring up the topic.

There's never a good way or time to bring up the topic, to tell someone what happened. You feel so alone, so ashamed, so afraid. Books like SPEAK are a lifeline, especially to the teens that go through this. So thank you, to all of you who are speaking out, who are finding the words that I can't.

Bea's Book Nook
Jackie Kessler
Sarah Ockler
Raven Ashley
Alison's Bookmarks
Mad Woman in the Forest

I know there are so many others out there that are helping and talking. You have my gratitude and my admiration. Thank you so much.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why is the rum gone?

I love Talk Like a Pirate Day. From silly sea shanties to funny outfits, it's just pure fun. If you've never partook of the the festivities, you should check out the website: International Talk like a Pirate Day

And just to add to it all, don't forget that that it's also Hermione Granger's birthday. The wonderful Tom Smith even wrote a perfect song to combine the two events. Hey, it's Can(non) is a stitch to listen to.
Tom Smith Online - Free songs I wish I could provide a better link. It's on the list.

In the meantime, I hope you like the flash fic in honor of the day:

Raising Pirates

Sitting at the desk in her cubby hole of a home office, desperate to finish her piece before the deadline, Annie attempted to tune out the raucous group of hooligans terrorizing the house. The repeated and irregular thump of 14 year old Jack’s basketball against the shared wall reminded her of cannon volleys. It warred with the drum beat from William’s Caribbean music as the 18 year old tried to hide the prohibited presence of his giggling girlfriend. Sam and his friend Paul were again tearing apart the living room to build forts, stashing their treasures in odd places, and swearing vengeance on invisible foes who would steal their riches, as only 10 year olds can.
Annie sighed, checked the time, and weighed her options. Was it worth it to round up the ruffians and make them mind? After a moment, she opened the bottom drawer of her desk and pulled out a bottle.
“This, my friends, is why the rum is gone.”

New routines

I have always loved the start of school. The new supplies, the change in weather, the return to familiar routines, with the promise of new discoveries. Getting the kids back on a routine has been fairly easy. But this year, I'm struggling with my own. None of my classes are at the same time, so everyday runs very differently. Hubby's schedule changes from day to day as well, which also throws me for a loop. I'm always forgetting which days he goes in late, and he often decides last minute to stay late on the days he goes in early. So I'm three weeks into the school year, and it all still feels brand new.

In addition to a full load of classes, several sewing projects, two kids, and two cats, I've added writing and blogging to the mix. And am loving it! But I'm now looking for a way to keep on task. I have a shiny new schedule/calendar, courtesy of my university, a white board that the we never use anymore (gotta get some more markers) and zero good habits about checking things once I write them down.

I don't have a cell phone, but a rarely go anywhere without my laptop, so I really ought to set up something on here. Any calendar/schedule programs that people can recommend?

Saturday, September 11, 2010


My grandmother passed away 3 years ago this month. It's not the only reason I associate this time of year with her, and certainly not the best. She was a reserved person, not afraid to speak her mind, but who believed her actions said it all. She fostered my love of good books and homebaked goodies.

In honor of Marian Jean.


My daughter’s chin rests on the table as she watches me slice the peeled apples. I smile down at her and remember watching you.

The crisp of the knife sliding through the apple’ flesh releases its tart scent. The chopping rhythm reminiscent of a metronome. Setting the pace for the masterpiece being created. I snack on crunchy peels as you scoop up the slices and deposit them in the big bowl. Quick, deft movements as you measure out the sugar, flour, grate the fresh nutmeg and the spicy cinnamon. The confident dash of ginger added to the mix. Kneeling on the chair, I listen to your soft instructions as you ‘help’ me coat the apples.

Her hands seem so small, and I wonder if you thought the same thing, all those years ago. Together we flip the slices over and over in the goopy mess, laughing when a pocket of still dry mixture flies up at us. Her exuberance delights me. I can’t remember why I hadn’t taught her this before.

I play with patterns, laying the apple wedges one way and then another, changing with each new ring. In the center, you show me how to lay one over the other making a heart. Every pie is made with love.

The top crust is rolled out, and she stops me for a moment. Having shown her the same trick with the slices, my impulsive little one wants to expand the theme. Bolting for the cabinet, leaving flour finger prints along the way, she triumphantly pulls out the cookie cutters. The little heart, too small for cookies, has never been used. It makes perfect vents in the dough. She is so proud. I can just imagine your amusement at her.

The kitchen is warm and filled with the mouthwatering smell of fresh baked pie. You crack the window to let in the cool air, bringing in the smell of fallen leaves and sending out the aroma of apples and cinnamon to those clearing the yard. The two swirl together, the perfect fall memory.

The boys clamor in, taking a break from yard work to beg for a snack. My daughter’s braids flail as she jumps, pleased as punch to see her father and brother’s reaction to what we’ve made. I grab the plates and forks as she chatters at them about all she accomplished this afternoon. I listen as the banter slowly turns to praise as everyone digs in. I look at my piece, and smile at the perfect heart in the crust. I have no memory of you ever telling me “I love you.” But I know that you did.

A very big thank you to Danielle who got me hooked on writing these, and helps me edit them!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Who told them they could grow up?

So, Abby's ready for earrings, and John...well John has discovered girls. Not that he didn't know they were there before. He came home with his first set of digits (phone numbers, people, not fingers!) when he was five. From a girl 2 years older than him. But I'm fairly certain he didn't ask for them. Something about big blue eyes with the kind of lashes that most women pay good money for seem to garner him attention. Not that he notices. Noticed. Now things have changed.

I'm jealous of those lashes!
So this week, I had a moment of panic, when he was 30 minutes late getting home from school. This is the first year he's gone to a school close enough for him to walk home. And he's old enough to want to walk without his mother. *gently dabs the tears away*  I get in the car, drive as far as the corner of our street, and there he is. Skipping. Grinning. Blushing bright red. I am relieved. Happy to see him. Mad that he is so frakkin' happy when he is in so much trouble.

After thoroughly startling the grin off his face, and telling him he needs to come straight home, I asked him just what kept him so long. And the grin sneaks back. He walked a girl home. One he's known since kindergarten, and who's had a crush on him for about as long. She lives closer to the school than we do, and in the opposite direction. But her mother didn't come to walk her home. Somehow that was brought to John's attention, and he just couldn't let her go by herself. Walking her home was the gentlemanly thing to do. And they aren't in the same class, or have the same recess...they miss each other. *facepalm* I am not ready for this.

Now it's not like I haven't had clues. He pretends to not watch anything that has to do with kissing. In a protest too much kind of way. And at fireworks this summer, he was pretending the explosions were alien missiles, along with a few kids near us. When I told them to settle down and watch the show, he inched next to one of the girls. A moment later came the most startling thing I could have heard. "Y'know, if the aliens are coming, we should be prepared for the worst. Or at least hold hands."
Excuse me?
I don't know what's worse. Hearing that from my 9 year old, or the fact that it WORKED! Someone needs to talk to that girl. I have to deal with Cassanova. I prefer the days of unasked for phone numbers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Eyes closed, I feel the world blurring around me. The wind cools and caresses my skin. Gravity has no meaning. I soar; I fly, I escape the world below. I open my eyes and savor the sight of the sky rushing to meet me, and the transitory sorrow when it recedes.

The smell of fresh cut grass, leaves wet from last night’s rain, even the tang of weather roughened metal chains take me into a timeless moment. One that never changes, regardless of my age. I lean back, legs and arms stretched to help my body slice through the air, striving to get higher, go faster.

I believe I can launch myself into the clouds if only I gather enough speed. I pull my limbs in, protecting myself from the disappointment of sliding back toward the earth, only to fling them out again. Hope springs eternal. Maybe this time I can reach the heavens, dance with angels and lost loved ones among the gloriously lit swirls floating across the skies.

I retreat from my goal one last time, determined to reach my destination. The swing hits its pinnacle and I let go. My body soars upward and stops. For a split second I hang there. My arms windmill, hands reaching for something to pull myself closer to the clouds.

The fall is heartbreaking. Frightening. Exhilarating. I land in a crouch, softening the impact. My hands dig into the damp dirt, releasing its earthy scent, the spongy feel of it brings me back to the present. The chain creaks as the empty swing twists. I close my eyes and I can feel the world slowing around me.