UNFUCK YOURSELF, PART DEUX

Air Cav infantry Soldiers compete in company challenge

I’m continuing with my list of toxic crap writers shouldn’t do, courtesy of Chuck Wendig’s terrific blog post. If you haven’t yet, please skip on over to read his, because it really is right on the money. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/01/03/25-things-writers-should-stop-doing/?subscribe=success#blog_subscription-2

I have renewed enthusiasm and vigor now. The kids are back in school and, wait—can you hear that? You can’t? Exactly. It’s called peace and quiet, and my sanity depends on it. As does my writing.

8. Your body is not a teenage wasteland. Sure, you could once get away with staying up until 3 am, chowing down on pizza while guzzling cheap beer, but nowadays whenever I do exactly that, it takes me 3 days to recover and I feel like hell to boot. Disciplined Mind = Disciplined Body = Disciplined Mind, which essentially means if you’re sitting in your chair like a lump on a log, with your mind fuzzy and tired, how productive do you think you’re going to be? Not very, plus you’ll get Writer’s Ass. Eating crap and not being active will result in all those words that should be flowing onto the page to settle in your ass, instead.

9. If I didn’t complain, I’d have nothing to say. I’ll admit part of my endearing charm comes from my pessimistic, glass is half-cracked attitude. Can you imagine if I were a boring optimist? I’d have nothing to blog about. I know I could temper my negativity a tad. In fact, I’ve actually been trying, thanks to Facebook and all the warm and fuzzy inspirational quotes on there that make me want to go hug my cats. Yes, I’ve lost a few friends from my bad attitude (“I say FUCK ‘EM all the way to the moon if they can’t—” Uh oh, deep breath. I digress.) The point is, if you don’t have anything good to say, then STFU. Nobody wants to hear it. Or channel it into your writing and make a million dollars so you can rub it in the faces of all those frenemies who once rejected you. As I always say, Success is the best revenge.

10. Speaking of…it’s because of those frenemies that you’re in the sorry boat you’re in. Or it’s because of your parents. Most likely, your parents. Part of the job description of being a parent is to get blamed for everything that’s wrong by your kid; it’s why I’m saving for my son’s therapy, instead of his college. However, the first rule of therapy is to stop blaming everyone, especially one’s parents for one’s crappy life. I tried blaming Facebook for my woes, then Amazon, if for no other reason than they’re just so huge and successful. Then I tried blaming the inventor of Post-its, because had I thought of the idea first I’d be huge and successful, but in the end, Meh, blaming doesn’t do a rat’s ass bit of good.

11. Be the writer’s version of Madonna or Justin Timberlake. So what if my father wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer and has disowned me because I’m not one? Had I listened to him, right now I’d be an overachieving, perfectionist anorexic with fake breasts and Botoxed lips who drinks too much and can’t hold a relationship together due to fear of intimacy. Thank goodness I’m only one of those. I’m proud to be a writer, and I tell everyone who’ll listen. Madonna’s not the greatest singer in the world. Did it matter? Nope, but she had passion and complete originality in everything she did. Is JT embarrassed to admit he was in a boy band, with a gazillion teeny-boppers screaming his name every day? I’m guessing his bank account says NO. Everybody has to start somewhere, so get your name out there and shout it loud and clear.

12. Everyone makes mistakes. Sigh. Some more than others. According to my “therapy” sessions on Facebook, you’re supposed to learn from them. Or at least that’s what those square-shaped inspirational quotes with the rainbows say. You wanna know my biggest mistake? Not learning how to type! There, I said it. That’s right, I’m a writer and I don’t know how to type. Oh, the stupid irony. So, other than that mistake kicking me in the rear each and every day, I suppose I should let all the other mistakes go so I can move on (to type slowly).

13. I may not take risks like I used to, like riding on the back of a motorcycle going 120 without a helmet, or traveling alone through Southern Italy, but you don’t get huge rewards playing it safe, either. That’s why I go to Target on a regular basis and shove one of my bookmarks for The Accidental Cougar in the center of each bestselling romance there. Think outside the box. It’s the only way to get noticed. Or arrested, but we’re trying to think positive here.

14. Embrace your control freak and then kick him/or her out of bed for eating crackers. I’ll admit I’m a control freak, but that’s only because nobody else can do things the way they need to be done. That’s why I don’t let my son wash dishes or clean the bathroom. When it comes to reviews though, or the collapse of traditional publishing, or e-book piracy, I could care less. There’s nothing I can do about it, so why stress? There’s soooo many more things to stress over within my control, like Writer’s Ass and getting caught by security at Target.

15. Unless you’re obsessive-compulsive, variety really is the spice of life. You can choose to write only novels your entire life, or poetry, or a sex column, but I’ve noticed that the writers today mix it up. If they’ve written a novel, then they usually try to get an article published somewhere to promote that book. Well-known magazines pay ridiculous amounts of money, and also give the opportunity to exercise a whole different set of skills. Diversity is the name of the game. In all areas of life.

Nope, I’m not done yet. There’s 25 of these bad boys…

Advertisements

MY SON IS IN TRAINING TO BE A SAILOR OR TRUCK DRIVER

child playing a game

If someone were giving out the “Crappiest Mother Award,” I wouldn’t be in the top three million, but I might be somewhere toward the bottom. I am great at giving my son all the love I have to give, but when it comes to discipline I suck. There, I said it. I suck when it comes to disciplining my son.

The reason being that I border somewhere between the Lazy zone and the Uncomfortable zone. I’m lazy about disciplining, because most of the time it means I’ll have to get up from my computer no less than fifty times in two hours, and I don’t wanna.

I’m uncomfortable when it comes to discipline, because I hate raising my voice, or threatening, or having to use “the tone.” It gets my delicately-balanced biorhythms all out-of-whack. When I ask, or tell my son not to do something, I shouldn’t have to tell him a thousand times over again, right? I shouldn’t receive backtalk for it, should I?

And yet, for years I’ve been dealing with my son’s potty mouth when he plays video games. He’s ten. So when “Son of a bitch!” or “Motherfucker!” flies out of his mouth, I’d say it’s inappropriate. Even more so when it shot out of his mouth at age seven. I did the whole soap thing à la A Christmas Story; I even poured Tapatío on his tongue to no avail. My son is stubborn, and a bit obsessive-compulsive. I almost think he can’t help himself.

Example: He had an 8 am soccer game this Saturday. He hates being late. He also knows I am often late. From the moment we woke up, he was telling me to get ready. “We’re gonna be late. Get dressed,” he said.

“Mommy needs to make her coffee first. Mommy’s ugly when she hasn’t had her coffee,” I told him.

He anxiously paced in front of me. “But after that, you’re gonna get ready, right?”

“As soon as I make you breakfast, honey.”

“No, no, we’re gonna be late!” he yelled. “We need to leave!”

Seven minutes later, after breakfast had been served, I happily informed him I was going to get dressed.

He popped his head into my room a minute later. “Are you ready to go yet?”

My right eye started to twitch. “Almost.”

“See, you’re not even ready yet! We’re gonna be late!”

I could go on and on, but you get the gist of it. For the record, we were not late, but my nerves were shot by the time we got to the field. I would love to hear how someone else would have dealt with that situation. I didn’t want to yell at him to “leave me alone or else,” but reasoning with my son doesn’t work, nor does ignoring him. And my brain just can’t think of privileges to take away from him at 6:30 in the freaking morning. So what am I supposed to do?

Back to the foul mouth problem: I was proud of myself a few months ago when I came up with: “Every time I hear a bad word, I’m shutting the Wii off for fifteen minutes and you’re going to your room.”

But after the sixth time it happened, I got lazy. So I reverted to yelling, “Ay!” from my chair whenever I heard any vileness. Which was about as effective as me walking naked through a room full of eunuchs.

Let me tell you what did work, however. Two days ago, his father called his son to say he was sending him one of those prepaid phones for Christmas. You would think my son had just found out he’d won an IV-hookup filled with never-ending soda. He was thrilled. I’m sure he was thinking, Hey, now I’ll be able to text all the bad words I say to my friends.

His dad called again yesterday, and I complained to him about HIS son’s language. After he gave me the “He wouldn’t do that if I was still living with you,” spiel, which I always ignore, he asked to speak to the boy. When I got back on the phone with him, he said, “I told him you would turn off the game for the entire day whenever he said a bad word.” (Scary thoughts of not being able to get any work done on the computer charged through my head.) “And I told him no phone.”

For the rest of the day, all I heard out of my son’s mouth were “Shoot!” and “Dangit!” Oh, the mystical power of a father’s voice. We’ll see how long it lasts.

OH WICKED MOUTH

Photo by dawnzy58

It was a truly craptastic week. One of those weeks where I wanted to lock my son in a closet and keep him there until he turned eighteen. Course with the way kids are now, he’d be off to college for a few years, and then inevitably come home to live with me again. Leave for a year, then come home to live with me again; marry, divorce, and come home to live with me again. The joke nowadays is to wait until you’re forty to have children, because by the time they come home to live with you, you’ll be dead.

The problem with my son is his sassy mouth. He’s ten, and already I get “Yeah, whatever,” when I ask him to do something. I thought that kind of crap didn’t happen until the teenage years. The advice I get from everyone is: “You’d better nip that in the bud, ‘cause it’ll only get worse.”

When he says stuff like that to me, I have to squash my first instinct due to those pesky Child Protective Services laws, so I try the calm, reasoning approach, instead. “I am your mother, and you are not to speak disrespectfully to me.”

You can imagine how well reasoning with a child works. It doesn’t. I’ve tried the taking stuff away approach, too. No 3DS for a day. He could give a rat’s ass, really.

“Wait until your father gets home,” is usually the go-to for frustrated moms at their wit’s end, except in our case, there is no father coming home, so I continue to get the rolling of the eyes, and the “Nah,” when I tell him to do something.

I’ll admit I, as a person, tend to let a lot of things go until they build up to the point of explosion. My college ex used to call me an earthquake, and it wasn’t because I rocked his world in bed. I have a temper. It comes out of nowhere, and it’s nasty. It’s not something I’m proud of. Every therapist I’ve ever had has told me when I get mad, I need to count to ten before I speak or act. If I could count to ten first, I wouldn’t be sitting on their freaking couch talking to them.

My son’s father told me on more than one occasion, “You’re mean and nasty just like your dad.” Did I get my temper from him? Who knows, but taking meds has done nothing to curtail it, unfortunately. My ex tells people he left me because I slapped him across the face. He lunged at me and grabbed me. What would someone else have done? Count to ten, and in that time hope to not get punched?

My brain reacts; I think later. A few weeks ago, a group of twenty-somethings were hanging out on the grass in my complex, drinking. I had to pass them on the way to take out my trash. The diva followed me, and being the yappy Chihuahua she is, she started barking her little head off at these kids. “I’ll kick that fuckin’ dog’s ass,” I heard one of the guys say.

Do you think I counted to ten? Hell no. I flew off into REACT mode. I wasn’t thinking, period. I froze, and turned toward him. I said, “If you touch my fuckin’ dog, I’ll kick your fuckin’ ass.”

Now, there’s a situation that could have ended badly. Luckily, the guy backed down and denied saying anything, but let’s face it—I’m not very intimidating. I’m a 5’5” 130 lb. white girl, almost 45 (middle-aged, for God’s sake!), college-educated, from a middle-class background. My visible tattoo is frou-frou flowers on my back. The women who live around me are Hispanic, maybe have GEDs, a kid or two, or three or four, and their visible tattoos are skulls, and words written in script on their breast, like “Love is Pain,” and one of their baby daddy’s lips on their neck.

Moral of the story: One of these days I may very well get my ass kicked if I don’t watch my mouth. And watching what I say needs to apply to my son, regardless of how mad I am. Yesterday, we went to one of those Do-it-Yourself Recycling Centers. If you ever go to one, pray to God you don’t get stuck waiting behind homeless people who recycle for a living. When we were finally done throwing all our cans and bottles onto the tiny conveyor belt, I asked my son to take our empty bags back to the car while I settled up with Mr. Recycling Dude.

Son rolled his eyes, said “Whatever,” and walked to the car, empty-handed. Not only did Mr. Recycling Dude look shocked at the gross disrespect, but Ms. Homeless Gal even gave me a look like, “Oh no, he didn’t.” I stomped to the car, thinking “Ugh, I hate my life. I hate being a mother. Kill me now.” When I got into the car, I faced my son and told him, “When I ask you to do something, you’d better damn well do it, and if you ever disrespect me in public again, you will be sorry. That’s two days without your 3DS.”

And there’s where I should have stopped. But I didn’t. I had to throw in, “I will not raise a fuckin’ spoiled ungrateful brat.” I couldn’t help it, I was furious. Truth is, one of my biggest fears is my son growing up to be a spoiled, ungrateful, disrespectful,the world owes me, self-centered bratty adult. We all know everyone blames the parents when this happens.

So what am I supposed to do? Should we spend a week living on the streets in East LA, eating in soup kitchens, hanging with kids who only have rocks and broken toys to play with? Should he receive only a roll of toilet paper for Christmas? Ship him off to military school? Marry a drill sergeant?

All I know is at the moment, I’m at a complete loss.