I’m Different. Just Like You.

 

I'm different
Summer’s first day 2017

 

The sunrise on the first day of summer 2017 was spectacular. At first rose colored, then transitioning into a palette of blues, with a grand finale in golds and yellows. Breathtaking.

Being a Floridian, I have seen more than my fair share of sunrises over the ocean. They are all similar in that they begin with the dark sky giving way to the growing light. For a few brief moments, the twinkling stars and shining moon are backlit in a series of blues ranging from indigo, to azure, to cobalt.

Once the sun nears the horizon, everything changes, every time. The radiant colors might be splashed across multi-layered clouds. Or there may be a complete absence of cloud coverage, allowing the sun its dramatic solitary show. The pelicans might be flying in formation over a barely ruffled surface, or they may be swooping down between the troughs of the waves. Spectacular.

Each one breathtakingly the same. Each one spectacularly different.

Just like us.

In the 50+ years I’ve been allowed on this earth, a number of diverse philosophies have been embraced by society. One trend that failed to truly resonate with me is the thought that we are all the same. Flesh encased skeletons. Carbon units with a built-in survival instinct. An astounding biological unit, to be sure. Each having their own identifying human prints. Breathtaking to consider.

There, for me, the similarities end. From birth we walk our own path, make our own decisions (for better and for worse), and we march to the drummer in our own heads. The nationality decreed on us when we take that first, tantalizing breath holds great sway on our development, as well. Which is another way of marking our uniqueness. Each individual is strikingly different.

We become who and what we are by the series of decisions made on a moment by moment basis. Each experience, and it’s accompanied consequences, impact our next decision. From “I’ll never do that again” to “Okay, next time, I’ll…”

Which is why I fail to understand why people become so upset if not agreed with completely. For example, some individuals enjoy eating liver and onions. I, however, HATE liver and onions. Can’t we have dinner together anyway? The differences between us should be celebrated, not stifled. Even for people who eat liver.

Age. Race. Gender. Money. Nationality. Religion. Politics. Employment. Children. Technology. Each of these subjects might serve as a divider, but they shouldn’t. They are samples of what makes individuals different and more interesting, creating subjects for joyous conversation, not hate-filled exclusion.

How boring would this world be if everyone was a 50+ white female middle class American protestant without party affiliation who is a writer with grandchildren and no fear of computers? Thank God we are different in so many ways, on so many levels.

I’m different. Just like you.

Each one breathtakingly the same. Each one spectacularly different.

 

How to Small Talk

 

Alright boys and girls gather ‘round. I’m going to share with you the secret of (drum roll, please) Small Talk with the Opposite Sex. It is an art form that very few members of the species understand how to employ with someone they’ve just met. Especially if there is any type of physical attraction.

It’s Saturday night and you’re at the club. You’ve just gotten your first drink, so you’ve been there long enough to check out the crowd. There are a few faces softly illuminated by their cell phones as they tap away on the screen. A few more are into heavy conversations with others in their space. Some are dancing to the music in choreographed formation. Some others have a ring on the third finger of their left hand.

These situations equal an Automatic No. An invisible “Do Not Disturb” sign hangs above each of these people. Do not attempt to engage them in small talk. It may end in Automatic Rejection.

Then there are the rest of the patrons. They might be sitting at the bar, perhaps chatting pleasantly with others around them. Perhaps not. Some might be waiting in a line for whatever the reason. Others just milling about. Choose the one that you find attractive.

Ready? Here we go.

  • Respect – This word gets thrown around a lot, but few people seem to understand what it is. For those not sure, here’s a primer. Don’t invade the personal space (which should get you slapped/pushed away), do not leer (you might get an introduction to the bouncer), don’t ask if she fell from heaven, etc. (cheesy lines are meant for use between friends/lovers, not strangers).
  • Engage – Start small. Say hello, or hi, or hey, or whatever you generally say when you meet someone. Don’t fake it. It’ll show. This is the first impression, right? Just say hello.
  • Accept Rejection – Like a well-mannered person should. Did she offer a quick smile and then turn her back on your greeting? That is as polite a rejection as she should have to give. Besides, if you walk away, she just might call you back.
  • Introduce yourself – If she didn’t turn away from your greeting, tell her your name. Please don’t offer your hand while doing so. Too many jerks, I mean germs, are around to allow physical contact on an intro in a bor. If she still hasn’t turned away, ask for her name.
  • Banter –The ice is broken, she has given you her name. Tell her your impression of it. “That’s a (nice/unique/elegant) name,” for instance. Speak to her about anything else that will carry on the conversation. With the exception of money, politics, and/or religion. Those are the three big No-No’s. The weather, the club, sports, pick a topic. This is also where you can offer to buy the next drink.
  • Interested – Here is the most crucial piece of advice that I can offer. LISTEN. Put aside your lust and imaginings and listen to what the person is saying. Repeat it back, if you must, but listen. The natural course of human interaction should take it from there.

What if you find that you aren’t really ‘attracted’ to the person once the conversation has begun? Well, remember this… you can never have too many friends.

There are literally billions of people out there. Take this Small Talk guide and apply it in other places. Get out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with someone sitting on the bus next to you. Or standing in line at the store. Or anywhere else you might find yourself with people you don’t already know. Small talk may lead to bigger things.

 

 

 

Breakfast

 

The sound of songbirds outside the window woke me just before seven. Realizing my hunger, I went downstairs to the kitchen and prepared my morning coffee. As it began to brew, I rummaged through the cabinets and fridge, looking for something to eat. However, nothing called to me before coffee. So, I went to the sliding glass door leading to the screened-in back porch. The morning was a lovely, late spring day in Florida. Sliding open the door, I leaned on the frame. Might as well enjoy the scenery while waiting.

 

I am exceedingly grateful that the porch is screened. Here in Florida, there are bloodsucking insects, stinging bugs, and other various wildlife which are thwarted by nothing more than a screen. Adding to that, all sorts of critters are lured to the property by the three fruit trees in the back yard. While I’m not a fan of squirrels, one made me laugh out loud as it hung upside down from a branch while eating a sapodilla it had just plucked from the tree for its own breakfast.

 

Under the shaded canopy of the larger tree sat an old birdbath. A dragonfly landed on the edge, bringing to my attention that the water level was low in the bowl and would need refilling. But it could wait until after I had my coffee. My mind wandered to the life of a dragonfly. I don’t know much about them at all, but a friend told me that they are believed to be a sign of good luck. I smiled. My stomach growled.

 

Then, the dragonfly took flight. It flew straight up with a suddenness that startled me, and then flashed toward the porch where it bounced against the screen. It backed up and flew a second time into the screen. Movement from the left caught my eye. A blue jay dropped from the top of the porch and banked with lightning speed around the corner, toward the bouncing dragonfly. The insect dove for the amaryllis, no doubt hoping to hide among the fronds, but not fast enough to keep the jay from having its in-flight breakfast.

 

With a loss of appetite, I closed the door.

 

Breakfast is for the birds.

 

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.

Life. One Short Story at a time.