Category Archives: husband

The Heart of a Writer


My thanks to Brooke Moss, who inspired this blog post. In today’s post, she talked about how she’s been getting grief from friends and family who don’t understand how busy she is as a wife, mother, and published author.

While I’m still awaiting publication (next month!), I can relate. After all, I have two kids and work full-time. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve gotten grief for not having time for anyone anymore. It started when I first had kids, and then got worse when I went back to work full-time.

I live a tightly regimented existence between the hours of 6AM and 8PM. I don’t really talk to my friends during those hours because I’m either getting ready for work, at work, or actively doing something for the kids. Playing with them, doing homework, coaching soccer, taking the kids to their various lessons, cooking dinner, or trying desperately (and futilely) to bring my house back from the brink of chaos.

It is a very… busy… life.

And then, to make things more interesting, I decided I was going to write a novel just over two years ago. So now, my days are regimented from 6AM to midnight.

I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands.

My friends (the ones who “get me”) understand this. I will make time for my friends, absolutely, and if one of them really needed me (and you know who you are), I would drop everything to help them, because honestly, they don’t ask.  So when they do ask, yeah, I know it’s important.

Earlier today, during one of my fits of guilt, the husband and I were discussing my time, or lack thereof. I was telling him that if I invested the same amount of time on a second job that I have with the writing, I could have us out of debt. I’d never be home, and I’d hate it, but I would do it.

And do you know what he said? He said he knew I’d give up the writing if he asked me to. And then he followed it up with this kicker, “But I wouldn’t ask you to do that, because you’d be giving up the only thing you’ve ever had that was just for you. You’ve wanted this since you were ten years old. Who am I to tell you no?”

I wanted to cry, because he’s right. That man knows my heart. If he asked, I’d give up the writing. Just like my grandmother before me. And if I did that, I would spend the rest of my life… missing something. Eventually, I would tell my granddaughter about the stories I tell in my head to help me go to sleep. I’d tell her how I’d never been free to write them down, and she would feel sorry for me like I felt sorry for my grandmother all those years ago.

I was fifteen, and to this day, I wonder if that’s the only real conversation I ever had with her.

I sometimes wonder if she told me because she thought I might be the only person in the family who really understood. I never thought of my scientist grandmother as having the heart of a poet, but I guess she did. She gave up that heart because my grandfather told her it was a waste of time.

A waste of time.

My husband supports every crazy idea I’ve ever had–and I’ve had a bunch. When I told him I wanted to write, he got me a giant monitor so I could see it, because we didn’t know how long my vision would last. He’s taken me to conferences, driven me two and a half hours over the hill so I could attend meetings, read all my contest entries, and helped me choreograph fight scenes. He’s done all of that, while less supportive people have done nothing more than roll their eyes and suggest that I give up writing altogether to focus on cleaning my house or relaxing, as if the latest episode of Maury Povich is somehow more important. (Aside: is that show even still on?)

People who don’t write don’t understand what those kinds of suggestions do to those of us who do. When they tell me to stop wasting my time, they don’t understand that they’re not helping. That they are, in fact, attacking the very essence of who I am. Those people, who deride the “weird writer types,” are attacking me, because I am a “weird writer type,” whether I write down the stories in my head or not.

So when I don’t call, don’t freak out. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’m so busy I can hardly see straight. At the same time, I don’t need all sorts of unwanted advice about how I can achieve balance by giving up the one thing I have that is mine–writing. When you do, you are telling me I should give up that which makes me me. 

I am not ashamed of who I am.

I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a teacher. I am a friend.

I am also a writer.

And there is no shame in that.

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Chivalry is Dead… Because I Killed It.


Sunday is my day of general musings, the day when I consider all the things that have occurred to me over the week that I haven’t had the chance to really think on yet.

This week, when I was grocery shopping, I had not one, but two different men offer to help me get my groceries in the car or to take my cart from me and put it away for me (he didn’t want it–I watched him put it away after he took it).

My first thought, with the guy who wanted to help me with my groceries was, “Ohmigod, he wants to kill me and wear my skin as a prom dress!” (It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again) And because I thought this, I glanced down at my dry, flaking skin and politely refused, telling him, “Oh, no thank you. I got this.”

With the second man, he just wanted to put my cart away, but I figured he must want my cart. Totally cool. So I gave it to him and thanked him. He put it away, waved to me, and got into his car and left.

And I was left scratching my head, somewhat bewildered.

Did I look like I couldn’t handle putting a cart away? Do I exude the “I’m frazzled and vaguely incompetent” vibe? Did I just happen to run across two really nice men? Oh God, have I become the little old lady the boy scouts help across the street?

No, no, honestly, their offers were super sweet. I’m just not used to people I don’t know offering to help me out. It actually made me a little edgy.

When I got home that night, I told the hub what had happened. And the first question out of my mouth was, “Do they really think I’m so grossly incompetent that I can’t unload my own groceries? No one offered to help me out when I was fat, had an infant and a two year old, and honestly could have used the help.”

I needed help then; I don’t necessarily need help now.

I said as much to M, and he said, “They were hitting on you.”

Of course, I thought this is complete BS. I was hit on once by a meth head on a bicycle (long story, but I think he hit on me because I look like I might have a cookie in my purse). I know what it looks like to be hit on.

They were just being nice, right? Because if I was being hit on, it was the most subtle come-on ever. Granted, when the meth head asked me to coffee, he stared at my boobs the entire time. I was actually afraid he was going to hurt himself, the way he stared at my boobs while circling me on his Huffy. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a head do that, except in Poltergeist. I’m pretty sure that’s not… natural.

And the man before that was my husband, and let’s face it, I was twenty and he was… ahem… less than subtle.

Anyway, I think it’s sad that, when a man does decide to be chivalrous, my first thought is that he’s going to kill me, eat me (not in a good way) and wear me (again, not in a good way). No wonder chivalry is dead.

Girls like me may have killed it.

 

 

The Hopeful Romantic


I’m what you could call a “hopeful” romantic.

I adore a good love story, and, as I’ve mentioned before, I love romance novels, mostly because I know I’ll get a happy end. I’ve written tortured fantasy before, where everyone dies at the end. I got over that after four or five German literature courses. I can’t even tell you the number of stories I read where everyone dies of starvation even though there’s a loaf of bread left uneaten on the counter of the flat next door. Certainly, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s close enough to the truth that when my husband took me to see some German movie and the camera panned in on a loaf of bread, M leaned over and asked loudly, “Oh, there’s the loaf of bread you’re always talking about. Is everyone going to die now?” And the answer to his question was, yes.

I think he was actually pretty relieved when they did. I know I was.

So I don’t write the tortured stuff too often anymore. Oh, I torture my characters, but I’m going to give them a happy ending. And I’m going to do it for one simple reason: Hope.

As a romance writer, that’s what I’m peddling. We all want to believe that these characters are going to have their happily ever after. We want to believe the bad guy will get caught and get his just desserts. We want to believe in love.

Because if we do, we can hold out hope it will happen for us.

I was a romantic long before I ever met my husband, and I’ll be a romantic until the day I die. I got married because I had hope. Hope that we could defy the odds. After all, we married young and against our parents’ wishes (more his than mine). Half of all marriages end in divorce, but I believed in the happily ever after. I believed in love. I believed that we would count ourselves among the lucky few and defy the odds. That we would be the ones who would grow old together. I believed it with the strength of conviction only the young and the insane possess.

I still believe it fourteen years later.

Oh, it’s not all sunshine and roses, because I live a real life with a real man. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith that we’ll somehow make it through whatever life throws at us. It won’t be perfect because life isn’t perfect. I’m okay with that because I have hope.

At twenty-two, I found “the one,” and for all of life’s ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade a single minute, because everything we’ve gone through, every fight or rough patch, has led us here. And what got us through those tough times was the hope and the unwavering faith that we still loved one another and things would get better, because they always do.

So when I write a romance novel, it’s not because I’m too weak minded to do anything else. I’m not. It’s because there’s a certain beauty in writing something as hopeful as a romance novel. When we start on our journey, we ask the reader to have faith in us. We ask for them to hold onto the hope that everything will be okay, no matter what we throw at our characters.

So yeah, I’m a hopeful romantic. And proud to be one.

The Relationship Advice Your Momma Never Gave You


Fourteen years ago today, I married my husband.

Now, I won’t pretend it’s all sunshine and roses. Because, well, I am who I am, and he’s… a man. Which means that sometimes he doesn’t always “get me.” But I suppose that if he did, I wouldn’t like him nearly as much. After all, sometimes a girl just needs to fight.

But I have a friend who’s getting married on Saturday, and it got me thinking: what makes a relationship successful? After all, M and I aren’t so different from any other couple. We have our ups and downs. But when a friend of mine was getting divorced, at one point she looked at me (the old, married bag of the group) and asked, “The ex swears that happy  couples never fight. We fought three times in our whole marriage, and one of those times was when he said he was leaving me.”

And I laughed, because honestly, if M and I don’t disagree (fighting is too strong a word) three times a month, we’re having a great run. And yet, after fifteen years of being together, we’re still plugging along when several of the “happier” couples who never fought are now divorced.

So here’s what I know (or think I do):

1. Things don’t have to be all wine and roses all the time, and you have to accept that. There will be times when you are so annoyed with your spouse that just the sight of him will make you grit your teeth. There will be days when you barely even like him. Suck it up, sister, and get over your bad self.

2. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings, but seriously, don’t over do it. Because then you become like the teacher in Charlie Brown… And he won’t hear a word you say.

3. Don’t think that because you know exactly what you want, and you’ve been together forever, that he will know what to do. As much as I would love for the romantic gestures to be his idea, experience has taught me I’m way more likely to get what I need out of him if I don’t expect him to be Kreskin.

4. Common interests are good, but don’t lose yourself in him. Be your own person, have your own interests and a life outside of him. M and I are a team, and we love each other, but I’ve learned (the hard way) that we get along way better if I have my own things and he has his. There may be no I in team, but there surely is an M and an E.

5. Jealousy will get your nowhere… fast.

6. If you draw a line in the sand and give an ultimatum, be sure you’re willing to follow through with it. And seriously, don’t threaten divorce unless you absolutely mean it. Not mean it in the moment, but mean it for realsies. Because one day, he’ll call your bluff and give you the divorce you never really wanted.

7. Hookers and blow should be a deal breaker. Always. No exceptions.

8. Really, unless Number 7 is involved, there are very few instances where whatever you’re fighting about is all his fault.

9. Politics don’t matter. M and I are very divergent politically, but I listen reasonably to him, and he listens reasonably to me. Be respectful and agree to disagree. Leave it at that.

10. When you ask, “What are you thinking about?” and he answers, “Nothing,” believe him. It could be that–while you were contemplating the state of the universe, the kids’ soccer schedule, what to buy at the grocery store, and how much you’d like him to tell you you’re pretty–in his head, there was only the sound of crickets.

Alternatively, if you’ve been having a heavy political discussion and you’re still stewing about it after several minutes of silence, don’t automatically expect him to be. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been irritated and asked M, “What are you thinking about?” after a disagreement and seriously gotten this answer:

“Zombies.”

Because sometimes that’s what your argument boiled down to. Killin’ zombies.

What about you? What words of wisdom would you add to this list?

Meggan Connors

Don’t You Judge Me!


So, today I was reading the blogs, and I realized something, which is probably readily apparent to everyone else, but just dawned on me: we’re so freaking judgmental of one another.

It comes out in our critiques. It comes out in reviews of books. It comes out in the comments in reviews of books. Now, this isn’t a new phenomenon. I think we’ve always judged one another. Whether it’s to build ourselves up because we feel like we’re lacking or to condemn a behavior we, as a society, deem unacceptable (female sexuality, anyone?), we’ve always been judgmental.

What has changed? Oh, that we’re so willing to share it with one another. We hide behind keyboards and vilify one another from the comfort of our couches.

It annoys me. (That’s me being judgmental)

In any case, what I came across today was a critique of a work of literary fiction. Now, I don’t read this particular author, but I thought the critique was harsh. Because it wasn’t a critique about style or plot, or general story-telling ability. It was a critique about this author’s very American-ness. About how, because this author is so very American, and so willing to both embrace and deride Americanism in its grandiose gaucheness (is that even a word?), people in other countries can embrace it as a masterwork.

And then came the comparison to genre fiction, in which genre fiction was found lacking.

It smacks of the superiority I found in another blog, where the author denigrated those who graduated from “mediocre state college.” Hmm.

I resemble that remark.

I write genre fiction. In fact, I write in the genre most derided by… well, everyone (including my mother).

I write romance.

It’s not because I’m stupid, or I like porn. It’s not because I can’t speak in complete sentences.

I write it because I like it. Because my dirty little secret is that I’ve been a closet fan of the romance novel since I was sixteen years old and picked up my first historical.

I was an English major in college, all angsty and tortured. I’ve read everything from Jane Austin to Chaucer to Shakespeare to Thoreau. I’ve read A.S. Byatt and Salman Rushdie and Walt Whitman. I’ve read Rick Bass and Mark Twain and Kafka and Gael Garcia Marquez, Pablo Naruda and Heine and Hesse and Rilke, Hemingway and George Eliot. When I once filled out a list of the 100 greatest works of all time (it was one of those silly quizzes that stated that most people had only read 7 of the books), I had read 84 of them.

I’ve read literary fiction. And I liked it… at the time (though I still loved my romance novels). Now, I don’t want that. I read genre fiction because I am looking for an escape from real life, and with a good romance novel, I can get a happy ending, too.

The reason why I don’t read literary fiction anymore? Oh, because real life sucks.

Real life is unpaid bills and cars with flat tires. Real life is sick kids with snotty noses and paperwork and a job that makes you so nuts your hair falls out.

Real life is a seven-year old girl you just can’t fix. Real life is knowing that child will die and you can’t do anything about it. It’s knowing that no matter how much you try, your effort will go nowhere. Real life is about crying in the principal’s office while you beg for a variance, because it’s the only thing you actually can do for this little one and her family.

Give me a happy ending any day, because some people just aren’t going to get one, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

When one of my best friends was dying, I devoured romance novels. I think I was reading four of them a week (Johanna Lindsey was a favorite). I needed that happy ending because my friend wasn’t going to get one. I needed everything to work out so I could be the one friend who stayed with her until the end, the one who could look upon her face and not cry. I could be upbeat and perky, and still tell jokes while I watched Zorro the Gay Blade and she slept.

It’s one of the things I’m most proud of: I was the friend she needed, the one who never cried. And just because I never cried while she lived doesn’t mean I don’t miss her every day. It doesn’t mean she didn’t know that I would.

Romance novels and silly movies and  my M got me through that. My M was fabulous and wonderful, and when I wanted to bury my head in the sand, he told me jokes so I could go back to her house and sit with her and tell her jokes just to make her laugh. Hm. I should remember what he did the next time he’s being annoying and I want to strangle him.

In any case, I didn’t need tortured literary fiction then, and I still don’t. Real life sucks enough.

So, to all of you who look down on romance novels… Read one. The world is filled with enough tortured souls as it is. Don’t judge me because I read them. Don’t judge me because I write them.  And if you do judge me, well…

Keep your opinions to yourself.

Thor’s Mighty Hammer


My son came running into the kitchen while I was cooking wielding a rubber mallet he’d gotten from his father. Yelled, “I’m Thor! This is my hammerrrr!”

When I laughed, I heard M say, “See, I told you she’d laugh.”

However, my son is not the image I want in my head when I think of Thor. Or his mighty hammer. Kinda wrecks the fantasy.

I’m on some wild, windswept coast, overlooking a vast, grey sea. Clouds gather on the horizon. Beside me stands a man with long, golden hair (because he’d have to have long hair. I mean, he’s Thor). He takes my hand and leans in.

And turns into a four-year-old in Darth Vader underwear screaming, “I’m Thor!”

See, not so hot, is it?

From Mad Cow to the Clap


For Christmas, Husband got me my very own giant microbes. For those of you who don’t follow my Facebook page, in honor of my blog on syphilis, I bought my father a giant syphilis microbe plush toy. It was awesome, though he didn’t know what to make of it (but Baby Brother laughed pretty hard). Well, Husband bought me my own variations, all with some sort of memory for me.

1. Syphilis (of course), to remind me of kindergarten. Because who doesn’t think of kindergarten when they think of syphilis?

2. Mad cow disease, in honor of my time in Germany. While I was on a train heading to Austria (I think; it might have been when we were leaving Austria to get to Paris),  I claimed to have mad cow disease to keep people out of our compartment (this was at the time of the outbreak of mad cow disease in Britain, where I had defiantly eaten hamburger every day. Ironic, now I’m allergic to beef). Each of us had something to drive others away: Jen had her rock hammer, Naomi had her stinky feet (which, incidentally, I don’t remember as being overly stinky. The stench doesn’t stand out in my head anyway, not like Clint’s cologne does), and I had mad cow disease… It basically consisted of me mooing loudly on the one occasion someone stuck his head in our room and practicing frothing at the mouth a lot. I probably looked like I had rabies, but hey, I was twenty-one. Everyone’s obnoxious at twenty-one. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

3. Staph, to remind me of last year’s illness and how, no matter how much I complain, this year actually is better.

4. And finally, he got me the clap, because… well… I think STDs are funny. I suppose that’s only true if you don’t have them, though…

Anyway, I hope you all had a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanzaa, or a good solstice. I did.

Now it’s time to go play with syphilis.

MCC