Toy Repair

 

My one-year-old grandson and I were playing with the toy trucks I keep at the house. His favorite is a little firetruck with an extension ladder attached to the top.

The laughter of a toddler is truly contagious, and he had me in stitches as we rolled the trucks around the living room, into the kitchen, under the dining room table, down the hall, then back to the living room we went.

As he rolled his firetruck along, he held it in a fierce grip. Unfortunately, the ladder on the top popped off, eliciting cries of “Nana! Nana!” as he ran to me with the broken toy. Fortunately, it popped right back on again.

This happened a number of times after the child first discovered how easily the repair was made. Each time the truck was handed to me I was allowed a shorter and shorter time for repair. Until we reached a point that he didn’t let go at all.

Realizing the futility of this amusing tug-of-war, I said, “I’m sorry honey, but you can’t break it again until I fix it.”

Then the top half of the ladder snapped off in his hand.

Shows me.

   Never underestimate the power of a one-year-old.

 

 

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

A Toast

A(n incredibly romantic) Toast

The other day I suggested to my husband that we should go out for dinner. The last few days had seen a lot of company, and we had been working like crazy together to make everyone happy. Now, it was our turn. So off we go, with no real plan, to find food that we didn’t have to cook or clean up after.

We ended up at a fancy-schmancy Italian place called Brio Tuscan Grill. The meal was fabulous. Along with our meals, we each had a glass of Italian red wine. Yes, I opted for the 9 oz pour. Towards the end of the meal, and the end of the wine, I proposed a toast. He rolled his eyes, but then offered that quirk of a smile I love so well, and raised his glass next to mine.

I said, “To our marriage,” and clinked the glass. His smile broadened. We both sipped, and then I said, “Your turn,” as an inebriated giddiness brought a blush to my cheeks.

He said “Okay,” and then put down his glass. I’ll admit, I was slightly deflated. The proper thing to do would’ve been to offer it then and there. Right?

He watched me as I took the last bite of my meal. I don’t know about you, but I am self-conscious of how I look when chewing (another dash on the anxiety scale). I put my fork down. Well, I told myself, the warmth in my cheeks might have been from the wine, and not how embarrassed I was becoming.

From the corner of my eye, I saw him raise his glass. I raised mine.

The expression in his eyes mirrored the day we said I do.

He said, “True love is real.”   *clink*

That took my breath away. I couldn’t speak until we were walking back to the car.

 

 

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Bathroom Bold

 

I was cleaning the toilet (ahem: lavatory) when the song Counting Stars, by One Republic popped into my head. Odd, but, what the hey. Since no one was around, I started singing out loud. You know, like people do when cleaning the, um, lavatory. Now, I’m not such a fan that I remember every single word, but I know enough to make a go of it.

So, there I am, scrubbing and singing, swishing and singing, flushing and singing.

Young, but I’m not that old.

Old, but I’m not that bold.

Dammit.

I now understood why that song came to me.

The lavatory (toilet, commode, whatever you prefer to call it) was manufactured by Kohler, the brand name clearly stamped into the ceramic.

In case you’ve somehow missed the tag line from this particular company, allow me to share…

 

 

I will never be able to hear Counting Stars again without thinking of a toilet. Dammit, marketing firms of the world. You’ve ruined another song for me.

For Geeks Sake Train of Thought

 

 

As you may (or may not) know, I talk too much. This is not a news flash to anyone who knows me, most especially not to me. My brain starts at a subject, and before my mouth can illustrate where my thoughts are, the train left that station and is five miles down the track.

So, the biggest problem with talking too much, is you tend to lose track of where you started. Which is what left me squirming while listening to the podcast recording made with For Geek’s Sake titled, Nazi Sympathizers or Unreliable Narrator?. I know where I was going with a particular thought when I started, but no one else will, because I never finished the damn thought!

Perhaps through this medium (my blog), I might be able to explain myself. While writing, I might complete one single train of thought at a time.

The subject at hand (at least the one I want to explain) is the Power Rangers segment. The train of thought began with the female ranger being portrayed as gay. I’m afraid I got lost from where the train of thought began, and then ended up in someone’s bedroom. (If you don’t know, you didn’t listen.) The original point I wanted to make was that people should be accepted at face value. Not be judged for their sexual preferences. It is NONE of my business with whom you choose to sleep.

If the person standing next to you is introduced to me as your significant other, I will offer a smile and a handshake. No matter the gender/color/creed/religious affiliation of that person. I repeat, “It is NONE of my business with whom you choose to sleep.” However, I might judge you based on how well you play dominos. Just sayin.

Thanks for letting me clarify. If you’re still shaking your head about any other topic I went a little south on, drop me a line and I’ll (try) to explain myself. It might be easy to explain, though. I mean, that second “Capri-Sun” was uncalled for.

 

****

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

For Geek’s Sake Podcast II

 

What a blast I had sitting in on a recording session with the crew (minus Al) at For Geek’s Sake. As a writer, I’ll take every opportunity to promote the current work. As I recall, should you choose to listen in, you might hear me make mention of that fact once. Okay, maybe twice. Fine. I’m pretty sure I maxed out at three. Well. Pretty sure.

The actual reason I was invited to come on was to discuss the philosophy of art ownership. Once a beloved character has been released into the world, who owns it? There are a few schools of thought on this one. Let’s use  Superman  as an example.

One, Superman belongs to the fans. He’s been around since 1933, and so has his fan fiction.

Two, Superman still belongs to the creators (the estate, in this case) Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster.

Three, Superman belongs to the corporate entities that last purchased the rights.

I won’t give any spoilers on what each opinion was, but I don’t think Producer Dan and my fellow guest Eddie hated me by the end of it. (Well, here’s hoping.)

And, if they didn’t know before hand, they now know I’m writing a mystery series titled McShane Mini-Mystery  and the first four ebooks are available on Amazon.

 

 

(Insert shameless self-promotion below:)

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

 

For Geek’s Sake Podcast

Hi everybody!

I’ve been asked to sit in on a podcast this evening with For Geek’s Sake which has made more than 100 episodes. This week they’re focusing on writers (and other artists) who have created beloved characters. The question is “…who owns art. The artists creating it, or the fans purchasing it?…”

Good question. Tune in Thursday and check out this main topic along with random conversations I have with Producer Dan and fellow guests about Monopoly pieces, a gay Power Ranger, Defenders on Nexflix, chicken meat grown in a lab, and other oddities that hit home.

I’ll post the link here when it goes live. Stay tuned!

Dear Suzy

Dear Suzy,

I’ve waited long enough. I’m sorry, again, for what I did and said. I was wrong. Yes, I’ve already apologized, and we (kind of) got past it. But at two hundred and fifty miles apart, getting together is a challenge for “hugging it out.”

But now, there’s something I need to say to you. Since you’re not standing in front of me, this letter will have to do.

We met when we were around three. Throughout our childhoods, our home lives were strikingly similar. Alcoholic Mother and Father (for me, step-father), who might lash out at a moment’s notice. In your family, the kids might’ve been spared, but the grown-ups fought each other, sometimes violently. For mine, the kids were not spared. Sometimes violently. You kept me steady throughout that nightmare.

Your birthday was only two weeks before mine, and you made sure I remembered that you were the elder. Suzy, even though we were only two weeks apart, I admit, you did teach me so much. Which brings me to why I’m writing this letter.

An ancient soul who loves to laugh is the way I’d describe you. Thank you for teaching me how to laugh. Your contagious joy infected me and it runs through my veins to this day.

Thank you for teaching me what a Sister is and does. Yes, I have three by blood (and one brother), but we were all in a strained situation. Fostering close relationships was not our parent’s goal.

Thank you for teaching me to be proud of me. Growing up, there were a number of authority figures in my life from whom disrespect and shame were daily lessons. You taught me that self-respect, and pride, weren’t dirty words.

Thank you for teaching me dependability. No matter where you might’ve been, should the need arise and I called, you came to my side. You were there for me. Physically. Not just a phone call, not platitudes. You arrived on my doorstep, if for no other reason but to offer moral support (and rum). There are people in my life today that know if the need should arise, they only have to call me and I’ll come (with rum, most likely). You taught me that.

Thank you for teaching me that the truth ain’t nothing to fuck with.

Thank you for teaching me spontaneity. One phone call from you in the middle of an ordinary Friday afternoon, and we were checked into a beach hotel to watch the sunrise Saturday. And, speaking of that…

Thank you for all of the sunrises we spent on the beach together.

Which brings us back to this letter. I think that’s what went wrong the last weekend we spent together. There was no beach nearby. Granted, November isn’t exactly beach weather. But, we let angry words and actions go too long. The phone calls helped get us through the roughest patch. By February we were making noise about the next beach day.

But then you hit me with your final lesson. How to live without you.

You died so suddenly. You left this earth without as much as a goodbye. You went to sleep one night at the age of fifty-four and didn’t wake up the next morning. Your husband, daughters, friends, family, everyone whose life you touched, went reeling like a taught cord snapping. With your beautiful, ready smile, and filthy sense of humor gone, how could life ever be the same?

The answer is it can’t be the same. Ever. Your quick wit, your laughter, intellect, unending support, and effervescent encouragement are gone.

Our life-long friendship is over.

Sometimes, when I find one of those random greeting cards you’d sent (with a hand-written, Love, Suzy) or drive by a hotel we’d stayed in, or mention your name in a conversation with others, my breath catches and I have to pause to keep myself from crying. Dammit woman, I miss you.

Life will never be the same. But it is better because you were here.

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

THE SNOWFLAKES

The Snowflake Generation

The title is used as an insult to those who have newly achieved adulthood, and have the nerve to voice concern over the atrocities committed by their elders. It’s also popular to bring into account the “trophies for participation” which the snowflakes were given for showing up at any given function.

Huh.

Here’s a condemnation to those who condemn. Do you know who encouraged those trophies? Their parents. Why, you might ask? Because those parents (my generation) suffered an uptick in divorces through the ’80’s and 90’s. Guilt-fueled presents were offered when the non-custodial parent came to visit. More gifts were given to those poor, unfortunate children of broken homes when that parent left, and the custodial parent refused to be one-upped.

To see a moment of unhappiness cross those kids faces was to rip the heart from the chest of a divorced parent.

So, those parents may have gone a tad overboard in trying to ease the suffering of their young ones. No, not me, but I’m sure boys would have liked it if I had.

I would like to offer this piece of advice to those labeled snowflake.

My generation found the Vietnam war to be particularly offensive, and we let the establishment know. We were then called “flower children.” We embraced the title. My suggestion is for the new grown ups of today to do the same. Be the snowflake. Each of you. Share your outrage of the human condition in this our world of 2017. Join together in mutual frustration, and brainstorm how we can get to the other side of 2018 in one piece. Find your place and put your intellect, and your frozen hearts, together. Let the rest of the world know that the snowflakes have gathered, and Winter is Coming…

I dare you.

 

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

 

THE LIE OF CATS IN THE CRADLE

 

Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin from the album Verities & Balderdash

“My child arrived just the other day

He came to the world in the usual way

But there were planes to catch and bills to pay

He learned to walk while I was away

And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew

He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, Dad

You know I’m gonna be like you…”

* * *

 

This song, released at the end of 1974, has touched the hearts of millions. I first heard Cats in the Cradle at the tender age of fourteen. Being a young girl, I wondered about the Mom. She would be the ‘usual way’ referenced so dismissively in the second line. That the mother is there during the father’s disconnection is implied, right? I mean, the boy didn’t learn to walk and talk from apes.

 

Later in life I married, had two sons, divorced, and then married again. You know, “the usual way” in today’s terms. Rather than whine about the now-divorced relationship, I’ll sum it up with a quick (quasi-funny) story from before the divorce.

 

My boys and I had been a part of the local Cub Scout troop. After a few years of being Den Mother, I ‘attained’ the rank of Pack Leader, all while still holding a full-time job, and being a mom and wife. So, one day in the early 90’s, the two sons and I were at the Cub Scouts Pine Wood Derby Race. Their father had participated in this particular activity and was there as well. Suddenly, one den mother from my Pack yanked me aside. She pointed across the room and with true concern in her voice asked me who that man was with my boys. When I told her that was my husband she exclaimed, “I thought you were a widow!”

 

True story. So, I kind of empathize with that barely acknowledged mother from the song, and feel I can speak for her.

 

I believe the lie of Cats in the Cradle is the unspoken impression left of the other parent. By the lyrics, you would be led to believe that mom, or whoever it was that did teach him to play Cats in the Cradle, to walk and talk, who read Little Boy Blue and sang him to sleep, might have some type of precedence. You’d be wrong. The son who dealt his father such casual callousness most likely treats the mother in the same manner.

 

As parents, we slowly become marginalized from their lives, until the grave claims us.

 

There are some who will not go quietly. Those who clutch their sons to their breasts, tendrils of emotion (guilt) fixed inside the mind, to the point of being brain-washed that the man-child cannot live without Mama.

 

I’m told there are sons who are willingly attentive, visiting without prompting. They come with or without their family, just to spend time and share with the parents. I’m also told there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But I haven’t seen that either.

 

Then there are boys who are raised to be independent thinkers, by parents who know those boys will leave, just as they left their parents. It is the natural progression. In the meantime, they do their best to build a man that will become a self-sufficient, productive member of society.

 

My children are now grown men. Not only do they have planes to catch, and bills to pay, they are also wonderful fathers to their children and are great husbands to loving wives. I know because I hear about it during the occasional phone call. If I get lonely, I can look at the pictures of their families on social media.

 

I do understand that generations of parents have suffered this conundrum, as proven by the oldest of Biblical scriptures “… a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh…” (Genesis 2:24).

 

You know what’s really heartbreaking, but true? The mothers of daughters are omitted from this passage, much to the chagrin to the mothers of sons.

 

Just sayin…

 

~ | ~ | ~

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

 

La La Land in 2016

A 5 (of five) Star Review

 

I’d heard about this movie from a few sources and really wanted to see it. I didn’t follow those sources, because of (what?) SPOILERS. So I avoided reading anything on it up to this point.

 

What? I’m still inside the six week curfew.

From what I did know, it was a musical, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. (OMG, they sing, too?) I truly couldn’t imagine what a musical released in 2016 would look like. Does Spiderman Cha Cha with Mary Jane? Will Superman Tango with Lois?

 

Alright, alright. But while this film did not take itself too seriously, I became seriously involved. Don’t get me wrong. I do mean “chick-flick” seriously involved. You know, “I laughed, I cried, I woke my husband up once.”

 

LaLa Land
Featuring Sebastian played by Fred Astaire, played by Ryan Gosling.
With Mia as played by Ginger Rogers played by Emma Stone.

 

In case you don’t know who those people are, check out this clip from YouTube of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers in Too Hot to Handle.
I used to watch those movies as re-runs on TV with my mom, and I thought they were boring. Of course, I was a tweener at the time. As a grown-up, I can now understand my mother when she said it was pure magic to see Fred and Ginger dance. I do believe I’ve seen it now between Ryan and Emma. All the way from their first dance to the closing number.

 

 

The premise brings us Sebastian, a down on his luck jazz piano player, and Mia, a struggling starlet who dreams of big screen movie success. By the way, she doesn’t like jazz. In fact, she tells Sebastian she hates it. He pulls her from the stereotype jazz she’s been fed all of her life (Smooth Jazz 101, Elevator music) and introduces her to the true roots of jazz (Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson) which is what he specializes in. The chemistry ignites.

 

When John Legend appeared, my heart skipped a beat.

 

And the closing is not the expected, hoped for, “happily ever after” either (even if it has been more than six weeks, I’m not totally giving away the ending. I’m not heartless).

 

Go see this tribute to song and dance movies. If you’re anything like me, you won’t stop smiling through the whole thing. Until the end.

 

 

Life. One Short Story at a time.