May 2012

OOPS!

As some of you know, The Mind of Ann isn’t what it used to be. Being slugged in the face by a national champion collegiate rugby player isn’t good for the head, and sometimes I think my brain just pings around in my skull trying to think of ways to mess me up — or remove things I’m trying to remember — or gives me brain farts in the middle of sentences.

Anyway, I major-league overslept this morning, decided to work at home (Laurel’s home), and made a list of things I needed to discuss with my attorney (add check mark – he already returned my call), and have gotten four other things done on my list already. That’s pretty good for someone who only woke up an hour ago and is still groggy in spite of the long shower I took to wake up — don’t you think?

I drove to Lake Mead on Saturday and kept not finding it — on both ends there’s a sign saying “Lake Mead” but there’s nothing but confusing roads between the signs. So, I stopped at Sonic for lunch in Boulder City — having missed Lake Mead completely the first go around – partially because I hadn’t had Sonic since I left Oklahoma in ’06, and partially because I wanted to ask directions from a local. I got a good ole #1 cheeseburger with tots and a Coke. Tasted great at the time, but still felt and tasted the grease in my mouth six hours later — not enough brushing in the world could get rid of it. Guess six years of eating along with the girls I was trying to keep healthy did damage to my discerning palate. Finally found Lake Mead, and really wanted to get in the water. This Cancer (yup, i’m a crab for those of you who already hadn’t ascertained that fact) needs water. But, though I remembered to bring two beach towels, I forgot the damned bathing suit. No swimming.

There are some basic things Abbi and I miss about Oklahoma — of course, the friends we have there — but again, “basics.” The first thing she does when she gets off the plane is drive through Taco Bueno to get a BOB (Big Old Burrito — which has nothing to do with the “BOB” you’ll hear about in House Mom.) And Braums — a locally-owned dairy that makes the best strawberry shortcake sundaes ever — and tuxedo sundaes. God, I miss Braums. And Arby’s — it’s really hard to find them out here. And Chik-Fil-A — they finally opened one in West Hollywood, and I asked Abbi and her Australian Boyfriend to take me there for my mother’s day “linner” (combination lunch/dinner) on Thursday, because I haven’t had that since we left Oklahoma either…..and Hobby Lobby. God, I miss Hobby Lobby – anyway. That has nothing to do with anything.

Yesterday, I was back in my office at Starbucks. The staff there is super. They treat me like family, yell at me every time I come in, and don’t get pissed off when I bring in my own Coke in the morning. But it’s getting old. I end up having to talk to Wally every day, (another “regular” and who wants to talk politics, his family, whatever.) I’m there to work.

And I feel funny making business calls from there. It’s like any other “office.” Everybody listens in. But yesterday was different. I’m out of gigga-thingies on my wireless device until Tuesday, and wanted to watch some TV on Hulu. Just because I didn’t want to do anything else. But the music is so loud, my office chair is right under the speaker, and I have to go to a regular table with the normal hard-backed chairs in order to hear. Oh, and people like to sit at the tables on either side of me and talk rather loudly. They don’t understand the importance of my office space. It’s kind of like the guy on WKRP in Cincinnati (for those of you who know what that means) who drew a line at the entrance to his cubicle and everyone had to knock or announce themselves before entering. Anyway, I caught up on a day’s worth of computer neglect, watched Criminal Minds and gave up. Tried to watch The Finder, but couldn’t get it to pull up.

And speaking of The Finder, I’m really ticked off at Fox. I got hooked on two of their new shows — Alcatraz and The Finder. They’ve cancelled both of them. BOTH of them. They were two of the ONLY 8 hours of TV I watch a week. Finally, some interesting, different shows that don’t fit into normal stereotypes. Fox put them opposite heavy hitters in the line-up so they didn’t have a chance, and then canceled them. Obviously, they forgot to consult me. Maybe I should pull an “Occupy Fox” and stage a protest on a couch in their office. Do you think Pizza Hut would deliver?

Anyway, that’s where my problem started.

Came home at about 6:30, fixed an apple & cheese sandwich, and turned on the computer to play some of those mindless games from Microsoft that don’t require pulling up the internet. First was Mahjong, and a couple of solitare games, and then I hit hearts. The next time I looked at the clock, it was 3am. Figured, what the heck. Not what I had intended, but I haven’t been sleeping well lately anyway. Too many things bouncing around in my head. I usually don’t get to sleep until about that time, so thought maybe my slight lapse in judgment and time management might work to my advantage. It did. I went right to sleep…..and woke up at 9am.

So here I am. Attorney talked to. Check. Dr’s appointment scheduled. Check. Set appointment for same day with Hillary The Great: headshot photographer, website designer, editor, is converting my Word doc to PDF to upload on Amazon, will upload to Kindle when we find out what they want, and cover designer. Check.

What the heck would I do without Abbi’s friends.

After my Thursday work is done, I’m going out to “linner” (combination lunch/dinner) with Abbi and her Aussie boyfriend who is here for the month. And maybe, just maybe, drinks and a sleep over with one of my house-mom friends at UCLA.

Down to things I want to do and some I’d rather not. Still have to find out how to get an ISBN for the e-book so we can go to press and find out what format they need to convert the e-book from Word. Then, paperwork for my bank and accountant. Those are harder. My gift of procrastination has taken me way too long to do either. It’s not that they’re time consuming….they contain math. As some of you know, I’m a self-professed Math Athiest. Since math requires accepting formulas by faith, and religions work on faith of things also not seen or explained, math is, therefore, a religion. And since math is a religion, I have every right in the world to be a Math Athiest.

After that, I have to start calling around to figure out what to do after I leave Laurel’s. I’m being considered by a couple of houses for fall, but unless I have a job set in stone by the end of May, I’ll need a place to stay. However, if I do have a job locked down, I can go back to Oklahoma for a couple of weeks to see friends, have way too many drinks with my alumnae association (which will require me spending the night at Sarah Cooks and snuggling with her managerie of cats,) and do some research for the thriller I need to re-write for an agent. We were working on the re-write when I got slugged (Oh, by the way, I found out from another house mom that he’s actually telling people I hit him first. Let me get this right — there’s this big, mean-drunk, athletic monster being held by three guys of equal size so he can’t pick up any more of my girls and toss them across the room, and this 60-year old walks right up to The Hulk and hits him. Yeah, that’s a scenerio I buy.) but I had to take it out of production because mentally and emotionally I couldn’t concentrate for the intense edit. The agent is still interested. So am I. Hopefully, now I can do it (if he’s patient). After all — it took a year to write Castles in Quicksand and has taken me four to write House Mom. We’ll see. But I do love killing people on paper — and wait till you see what I did to my ex, the retired Air Force officer. It’s a work of art, if I do say so myself. My cousin gave me a tee shirt that says, “Be careful, or I’ll put you in my novel.” It happens more than you know.

So that’s my today. Drinking soft drinks made with Stevia and no caffeine and pretending they have caffeine. (Has anyone else noticed that the “i after e except after c” thing only works about half the time?) I’m out of chocolate-covered expresso beans, so I’m having to depend on my own energy to keep me going through the day. That should be interesting.

But I can do this. I know I can. I’ve done it before, and can do it again. But first, a couple of games of heart just to get the blood pumping to my brain. Then, I’ll be good to go.

See you tomorrow.

THEY’RE RIGHT!

Don’t know how I could have been so wrong for so long. My ex is right. I should just vote straight Republican. It’s so much easier, and requires no thought. Can’t believe I’ve been so stupid.

Birth control. Of course women don’t need birth control. We’re baby making machines. That’s our job. It’s what we’re born for. It’s our purpose in life. Going out and taking men’s jobs is just wrong. If we want to have sex, it should be with the expectation of having a baby. Sure, we may have to drop out of college for awhile or give up a job — or maybe go on welfare. And it will be a surprise to the guy — especially if it was a one-night stand — but he’s bound to understand. I mean, after all, he was the one who didn’t put a helmet on his soldier. But imagine how much richer his life will be once he’s dropped out of school to support his new baby. And how thrilled his wife will be someday (or now?) that her money is going to be paying child support for someone the dad will probably never see again.

We all know that every baby is a Gift from God. The people who rape, murder or abandon their babies, well, I’m sure God will punish them in the long run. And the person abuses their inconvenient charge will go to a mental health facility or the prison system, and that helps create jobs for doctors, nurses, prison guards. When they get out, they can write a book about the events. Because they’re considered “notorious,” they’ll make money for themselves, agents, and publishing houses.

The public doesn’t want pharmaceutical companies to make huge profits. We’re taking most of the birth contol devices and pills out of their product base. Bingo. Lower profits.

And the bill that says a woman has to have screening for everything from cancer to the heartbreak of psoriasis before being allowed to get birth control only makes sense. After all, what man wants a defective woman. She’d cost him too much money over the years, and probably shouldn’t have kids anyway — but without birth control, she’ll just have to give up having sex.

Romney and his wife have popped out a bunch of kids, and that’s wonderful. His wife has fulfilled her God-given purpose by having all those children and the blessing of raising them — of course, she has help — but she gets the privilege of doing it alone because he’s not home most of the time. That in itself is a gift. I mean, who would want him around all the time anyway. But she gets all that one-on-one time with each individual child. I know, kids are expensive. But they’re managing.

And Romney gets the added benefit of photo ops with a tribe of kids to prove his dick works.

Since he inherited the money instead of being a self-made man like Obama, that gave him so much more time to make the money multiply so his kids won’t have to work if they don’t want to — and since he doesn’t have to pay taxes, that’s even more money to spend on jets and cars to stimulate the economy.

That newly-proposed law that says doctors don’t have to inform parents of children who are deformed, will be totally infirm and need personal care all their lives? Perfect. Think how much more a blessing a special needs child is. Sure, the child may live in excruciating pain, but we all have adversities. That’s just life. I know, I know. There are extra expenses the family will incur because special-needs kids may be cut off from or denied insurance, and they might lose their homes and have to file bankruptcy because of the medical bills. But that’s this administration’s fault — the Republicans had nothing to do with it. And remember. God doesn’t make mistakes. Right? That’s what preachers tell us. And we know they’re always right.

Once again, one parent will have to quit work or work from home, and it will probably be the mother. So that creates another job for a man who couldn’t find work otherwise. And the child will receive disability pay, so the parents are really better off. And the work it’s creating for pediatricians, hospitals, anesthesiologists, nurses, special care facilities, plus the psychiatric care the parents will need to cope is creating jobs this country needs so desperately.

But here’s what I don’t understand. History tell us politicians have a propensity to screw around. Married or not — OK, especially married. I mean, Gingrich went out on wife #1 with wife #2 and wife #2 with wife #3. But he finally created a Stepford wife. That woman’s face and hair haven’t moved for years. And since I want to be bi-partisan here, wasn’t it Gary Hart who should have written a book, “How to Cook Your Own Goose in a Bed of Rice?”

And these same politicians don’t want women to have birth control? What about all those nubile interns. I’m missing something here.

However, women do have the upper hand. Significant others can be replaced by a handyman, a guy to talk to, a gay man to go dancing with, and a good vibrator.

Women, however, are more difficult. A man has to find someone to clean his house, cook for him, and most of them need that feeling of power they get from the sexual act. Somehow, their right hand in the shower gives them power over nothing but a bodily function. So, for once, I’m not seeing how women not having access to birth control benefits men….except to give them power over running our lives. If we don’t watch out, our right to vote will be next.

But I get a lot of satisfaction in knowing that a bunch of politicians are going to be getting interns pregnant and having to do a hell of a lot of explaining when they get home.

See, I told you my snarky self would be back.

NO RANT — TOUGH DAY.

Sometimes being unemployed and homeless isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I’m having a tough day today. It kind of started last night.

My days are spent at Starbucks, because staying at Laurel’s using my wireless card all day makes the giga-whatevers run out too quickly and the speed goes back to that of dialing a phone by putting your finger in the hole and hoping to get it all the way around the dial because if you didn’t, you got a wrong number and had to start all over again. Then, I run a couple of errands and head back to an empty house. Not one filled with laughing girls, “Boy Meets World” and “Jeopardy” marathons, chaos, drama, Thursday night party hell, food someone else has fixed for me, and my own apartment with pictures and furniture that make me know I’m “home,” even though it’s not really “home.” And I really miss having a cat to turn my computer screen upside down and walk across my face in the middle of the night.

In a place like Las Vegas where there’s so much to do, I’m afraid to spend any money because I don’t know how long what I’ve got coming in is going to last. And until I get the unauthorized copy of my book down, I can’t start selling my copy — and their copy is full of so many errors it could totally ruin my credibility.

In other words, I’m in a rut. A big-time, MF’ing rut.

So, after an exhausting day trying to find a job in California – because I’m in Worker’s Comp Hell — and fighting with the publisher I fired, Amazon to take the unauthorized book down so I can start selling my copy, the distributor who is sending it out to everyone in the free world, Kindle to get an ISBN number for my e-book, and making futile attempts to get my lawyer to answer my calls, I got home and plopped myself on the couch. Almost cried, but headed for the shower instead. I’m not supposed to be sitting for long periods of time, so unless everyone at Starbucks honors the fact that the comfy leather chairs are MINE and mine alone, the hard-back chairs send me home with a back that won’t let me move. I could go out to the hot tub by the pool, but that would require clothing, and those of you who know me understand that I don’t get the concept of clothes in water unless a washing machine is involved. I used to love the freedom of swimming buck naked in my pool with it’s twenty-foot stand of fifty-year old trees that afforded no one a view of any part of my back yard. Well, except that one time and the UPS driver……

And if I don’t get another sorority or fraternity house for fall, I’m going to have to learn to live a life that isn’t punctuated by the cacophany of kid noise– one I’ve known since Abbi was in about the 9th grade when she and all her friends spend their weekends at our house — about 30 of them every weekend. And I went straight from Abbi-friend land to sorority life six months after her university graduation. When you consider gymnastics from 4 years old and cheerleading/dance starting in 7th grade, I’ve been around rooms full of kids for the last 27 years.

Last night, I had ice cream and NCIS on HULU for dinner. Which helped. But it got me thinking.

I’ve had a life that hasn’t been as easy as some. I’ve been single more than I’ve been with someone, and have lived so many different places I’ve lost track of friends along the way. I don’t have a BFF to play with. So when I need someone to talk to, I don’t know who to call. Or realize the ones I’m still close to are three hours ahead of me. Wish I could find my friends in Hawaii, but they’ve all evidently entered the witness protection program because I can’t find anyone who’s in a time zone that works with my schedule. I mean, I only left Hawaii in ’83 – you’d think….. But making decisions on my own most of my life has been interesting — some good, a bunch bad, but they brought me to who I am today. And I like that person….

And then I started thinking about this generation (meaning a college generation of 4 years). BMW’s, Mercedes, Escalades, AMEX cards, unlimited checking accounts, collections of Louis Vuitton purses and mommies and daddies who call professors to get grades changed and cancel half their vacation in Thailand to fly in overnight because their precious baby put her clothes in an unauthorized location over break and they got donated — just like the contract she signed stipulates. So many have been trained that if they yell fast enough, loud enough and long enough they can get anything they want. And they do. And that’s sad. They need to be turned over someone’s knee and spanked — know the fear of the sound of a dad’s belt being pulled out of it’s loops — made to pick their own switch and have to find another one if that one breaks…..but that’s abuse.

Don’t get me wrong, there are also some amazing girls who are putting themselves through school, being involved in every activity known to man on campus, acting in a school production AND an off-Broadway play at the same time, and it’s an honor to know them…..some of my “kids” are attorneys, pro athletes, almost doctors, and living great lives, but it’s always the few that make you crazy.

I’ve been fighting my own battles since I was 14. Have had to take responsibility (and of course, get credit) for my actions, been responsible for keeping a budget and managing a checkbook. I’ve worked since I was 14, except for college months and the three glorious years I got to stay home with Abbi.

And I wonder what’s going to happen if their mommy and daddy die. Or become infirm. Or if they don’t marry a guy who does all their thinking for them…protects them from the big, bad world. They’ve never learned to analyze a situation and find the way to resolve it. Or been allowed to face adversity. They’ve never been taught that failure can be a good thing because it gives a chance to figure out what went wrong and how to avoid the same mistakes the next time. (Or kick yourself in the ass because you DID make the same mistake again.) What will they do the first time they mouth off to a boss and get their asses fired. I fired a 23-year old once and his daddy called me to say I should give him his two-week’s paid vacation before letting him go. Or at least pay him for the two weeks. He went high enough over me on the food chain that got what he wanted. Un-be-frea-king-ly-be-lieve-a-ble.

But the good news is that, in times like this, I’m not afraid. Sometimes, like today, I get a little pensive and don’t want to be in Starbucks — I don’t drink coffee and hate their tea, and I’m spending a ton of money on food that doesn’t even taste good so I can have an “office.” But I know that whatever life throws at me, I can handle it. But I’m getting to know the other “regulars,” so I have adults to talk to sometimes during the day, which is good. Damn. I’m a freaking “regular” at Starbucks.

Eventually, hopefully in this lifetime, the Worker’s Comp settlement will come through. Hopefully, my book will be successful and I can go back to writing mysteries and thrillers. Maybe I’ll even be able to live someplace where there’s an active writing community where I’ll have crazy people like myself who understand that we’re all neurotic, insecure egotists who attend each others book signings to go out and drink together afterwards.

But if that doesn’t happen quickly, and after May 31 I have no place to live, I know I’ll find a way — Starbucks by day, car by night or a tent by a lake, and I’ll be fine. Actually, the tent by the lake sounds pretty good because I could swim “nekkie” after dark and no one would know. But I’ll be OK. Because that’s who I am. Over the years I’ve learned there’s nothing I can’t do. And as the old song about Mohammad Ali said, “I’ve learned to believe in me.”

But today, I’m in a blue funk. And someone on Facebook said I had no sense of humor — or course, he spelled it ‘sence’ so I got to correct him and that was fun. I’m getting ready to call the damned lawyer again and hope he takes my call — if not, I may take the advice of my friend, Simon Wood, who says exercise at work is healthy –and banging your head against the wall burns 150 calories an hour and that’s a lot more than just slugging the boss.

See you tomorrow. I’ll be over my pity party, and be back to my old pissy self. Thanks for going through this journey with me. Because of you, I’m not alone.

IT’S NONE OF YOUR DAMNED BUSINESS

To my friends in North Carolina. I love you. I respect you. But what were you thinking yesterday?

Why do you care if gays/lesbians marry? What effect does it have on you or your family? Or anything about your life?

Since they probably have sex about as often as most married couples, that’s probably not even an issue. But insurance coverage is. And the right to be in an emergency room with the person they love, because only “family” members are allowed. And death benefits. And the right to be recognized as as loving, committed couple. And adopt as a couple — because as the law stands in several states, only one of them can be the adoptive parent, so if that parent dies the other mom or dad has no rights and the child could be thrown into foster care or become a part of a dispute between the deceased’s family and the child’s acting parent.

Being raised by gay parents doesn’t mean a child will grow up gay any more than being raised by a straight couple assures all their children will grow up straight. Two years ago, my daughter’s best friend’s brother (one of two) died of AIDS. His mother told the filled congregation that “we knew he was a strange duck from the minute he was born…..but he was OUR strange duck.” He was lucky. His parents accepted him and loved him as he was, just like they did his sister and brother.

I told Abbi from the moment she was old enough to know what I was talking about that I didn’t care about the sex or race of whomever she ended up with. We can’t help who we love. As long as they adored, respected, treated her like the princess she is, believed in, and supported her — and, of course, understood her need for Prada and Versace, I’d be thrilled with them.

And we’re all guaranteed the same rights under the Constitution. This shouldn’t even be an issue. There’s no (*) after “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Or “liberty and justice for all.”

Here’s the reality. Gays are your neighbors. They work beside you. There are members of every form of clergy who have been caught with their pants down (so to speak). You cheer for gay football and basketball players every week. And gay blood shed by our sons and daughters on Afghan and Iraqi soil should be honored and mourned as much as the rest of those who have chosen to risk their lives for our country.

It’s not like they have a choice. I can’t think of one person who would tell you this is a life they’ve chosen. And if you graduated from Charleston High School, I know of at least two who graduated in ’63 — right beside you — you had no idea — and would be shocked if I told you who they were.

Please don’t throw scripture at me. My Southern Baptist mom trained the ministers at our church and if I didn’t go to church on Sunday I didn’t go anywhere. I know more scripture than you’ve forgotten. So, I’ll throw one at you. “Judge not lest YOU be judged.” Nowhere — nowhere — in the Torah or the Bible does God tell you He/She/They needs your help. Or wants it. You have enough to say grace over within your own four walls. What the Bible does say is that YOU WILL be judged for judging others.

To put it simply, IT’S NONE OF YOUR DAMNED BUSINESS.

Am I pro gay? Hell, yes. But it’s because I’m pro human being. If we deny their rights, what’s to say taking away ours isn’t far behind. From what politicians have been saying this year, I’ll be surprised if women still have the right to vote for much longer. They’ve already told us to start using aspirin between our knees as birth control. And remember,it hasn’t been that long that inter-racial marriage has been legal. Are we going to take away the rights of black/white, black/hispanic, white/hispanic couples? Give me a freaking break.

I choose to accept you for who you are. And you’re as much of a mess as I am.

So mind your own business. Put yourself in their shoes. What if you were the one who wasn’t allowed to be recognized for who you are? Or be allowed access to your rights under the Constitution? What if it were your child?

So — there’s more, but I’ll hit my next rant tomorrow. Hopefully, that will be the last one for awhile, but I’ve been behaving myself way too long and just couldn’t hold it in any longer.

ON BEING UNEMPLOYED AND HOMELESS

I seem to be getting pretty good at this. For those of you who remember, I went through the same thing a couple of years ago.

This is a downside to being a sorority house mom. And trust me, there are downsides.

Most of us are unemployed and homeless at least a couple of months a year. Some houses have 10-month contracts and require the house mom to leave during the two months months between contracts. With others, there’s a 10-month contract, but they’re allowed to stay in the house, making them only unemployed for the two months. But here’s a glitch to that scenerio. If there’s work to be done, even though you’re not working, you’re “working,” and “unpaid.” And there’s no overtime pay since we’re all on a salary. Basically, we’re endentured servents.

Some, like my friend Laurel, are lucky. They have 10-month contracts but kept their houses. Most of us sold ours when we took these jobs. So, in a sense, I’ve been homeless since June of 2006.

I’ve had friends who were given an hour to get out of the house. Or three. The classy way to handle it is to tell the house director that their contract isn’t going to be renewed next year, and they work till the end of the school year. Others are told their contract isn’t being renewed, but haven’t been told when they’re expected to leave — a friend of mine is in this situation now. On one day, they’ll tell her she needs to leave immediately, then they flip-flop and say she can stay till the end of the term. You just never know. But the reality is that most campus’s turn over about 30% of house directors every year. One of my jobs had been through 5 house directors in 4 years, and in my last one, if you count the “temporary” one that’s living there till they find someone, they’ve had 4 in 4 years. Others have been at the same house forever — a lady in Iowa has been with the same fraternity for over 25 years. She’s seeing second generations come through the house. There’s a lady at UCLA who was with one sorority until it closed and stayed in her apartment for the next one that took over. Think she’s been there over 15 years.

Then, there are 12-month contracts where you live and work 12 months a year. Sure, they SAY there are vacations, but about the time you’re ready to take your month off at Christmas or over summer break, there’s a flood or a fire or the board decides it would be a great time to start some new projects (and contracts stipulate that you’re there when work is necessary). Or you have plane reservations and the board tells you there are girls who want to stay a couple more days and you have to change your plans. Bye, Bye Cruise, and Bye, Bye Deposits.

In my current situation, the board put me in a sticky position. They let me go on February 15 so they could bring in a former resident of the house and (obviously) a sorority member, and hiring season doesn’t even start till late March through May. The first time I could actually go to work would be August. Maybe September. That leaves a hell of a gap.

Lucky for me, Laurel has been kind enough to let me stay in her condo in Vegas…..however, that’s about to end. I need to move on the end of May so her sister who is moving back to Vegas can stay here.

Here’s where the wrinkle comes in — I’m still in the middle of that damned Worker’s Compensation case from when I got slugged on December 7, 2007, so I can’t leave the state. That means if I take another job, it has to be in California. And I’m not finding any openings. I’ve applied with a fraternity at USC, but except for being told I am on a very short list of candidates, I haven’t heard anything. Others require that you send a resume to national headquarters and so they can be forwarded to the board president for confidentiality (translation –so we won’t bug the shit out of them) purposes. So you may or not ever hear from them.

I’d love to do some travelling over June and July, but can’t do that either because I’ve got to be around to interview in case something comes up — or if there’s finally, at last, a settlement hearing. Even though I’ve got a few months to have some real vacation time, I’m stuck. I want to sit on a lounge chair and let the Atlantic Ocean wash over me. Or capture Lynn Crislip and go mining for gems in North Carolina. Or go back to Oklahoma to see all My Kids (most of whom are 30+ by now) and see our new sorority house and my crazy alumnae association members. Sarah Cook makes a great margarita. And she has a bunch of cats. I really miss Hollywood and Baby Kitty, but can’t get a new ball of fuzz because, well, because I’m unemployed and homeless.

I want to go to Gibralter. Or Israel. Or even St. Barts. No.Can.Do. Heck, to top it all off, I’ve ticked Worker’s Comp off because I’m in Vegas and they have to pay my mileage for trips to the doctors in Los Angeles. (Assuming they ever cut the check.)

My life has never been as simple as some others. I wish I’d married my high-school sweetheart — but I don’t remember having one. Or that I’d stayed with the guy I lived with back in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Joey was a sweetheart. But he died about 10 years ago, and I wouldn’t have Abbi. And I’d be living on Omaha. I wish I had a bunch of money in the bank for security, but my ex (the Air Force officer) deserted us and I raised Abbi alone from the time she was 6 through college. Over the last 6 years of moves, blank spaces, and some emergencies, I’ve pretty much gone through my reserves.

I’ve always taken a different approach to what some people would consider adversities. I believe I’m where I’m supposed to be. Right here. Right now. I believe the universe will take care of me. And whatever being you might believe in, that change has always moved me towards something new. As an example, I’ve never wanted to live in California. But except for the fact that the ocean is so damned cold, I love LA and the Bay area. I’d be happy living in either, or somewhere in between. Half Moon Bay would be nice. Anything on the ocean would be a dream come true.

Should I be afraid? Probably. I mean, after the end of May I have no idea where I’m going or if I have a place to stay. Am I afraid? No.

So here I am again. Unemployed. Homeless. Not knowing what tomorrow will bring. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Life without Television

One of the big downsides to being a sorority house mom (and trust me, there are some) is downtime. Lots of downtime. Way too much downtime. Until there’s a food emergency, a board member shows up with a new list of stuff to get done, the maintenance lists gets long enough to call our contractor, or it rains and the lanai floor floods (took me a year to figure out the reason for that one) and the skylight decides to leak around the whole perimeter at the same time, creating a beautiful waterfall down the stairs, there’s not much to do. Sure, I could clean up the rush closet and the whole third floor I spent up all last summer cleaning and clearing out so the recruitment committee could have their supplies organized for the next go around, but the head of the department refused to go along with the program, and the third floor looks like a health-fire-hazard-toxic-waste-dump. You have to crawl over things like an edition of Hoarders if you want to do laundry.

I have friends who don’t watch television — mostly writers. Juliet Blackwell has two different series, so she writes two books every year, is also a studio-showing artist, and has a wide variety of things to keep up her time. Television doesn’t fit in the schedule. But I’m not up there with Julie yet.

So, what does one do while waiting for something to do besides eating made-to-order breakfast, spending time with the girls, eating lunch, watching Jeapordy with the girls, eating dinner, spending occasional time with other house directors, and walking around the house waiting for something to happen? Watch TV. Oh, and walk over to the university center every morning for a Coke at one of the food vendors that has the formula down to a perfect combination of syrup and carbonation to create that classic burn. So few “industrial Cokes” get it right.

There was a four-year span when Bill & I lived in Hawaii when we didn’t own a television set. I baked, cooked, painted, knitted, read and read and read, worked part-time gigs for Bank of Hawaii and The Queens Medical Center, and lived a pretty proactive life. But we’d lay in bed at night and pretend not to listen to MASH on the neighbor’s TV set.

Usually, I could put off picking up the flipper until 4 pm. It used to be 3pm, but Dr. Phil is sounding more like Jerry Springer all the time, so I’d wait until 4 pm until Judge Judy came on, followed by NCIS marathon until news at 6pm, CBS news at 6:30, back to NCIS marathon till 8 and then whatever came on after that. Sometimes, when there was nothing, it was NCIS marathons all evening.

There are very few programs I really like, but I watched stuff I didn’t like to fill the time between them. Then, I got hooked on White Trash TV: Toddlers & Tiaras, Sister Wives, Mob Wives, the list went on way past forever. I like Survivor — stopped watching The Amazing Race, SYTYCD, and some other, but still watch America’s Got Talent because they’re more likely to get it right. But I’ll probably wait until towards the end to pick it up to avoid using up two hours of streaming video at a time.

I stopped watching The Voice when Blake kicked off Jordis Unga. Let me get this right — she sold more downloads on U-Tube two-night running than any other contestant, his Facebook posts were ONLY about her, and she could sing anything from punk to good old rock and roll. Then, he gave her a freaking country song and bumped her because he didn’t like the say she sang it. So, anyway, from 4pm until whatever time I decided to get to bed, it was pretty much TV, ice cream, snuggling with a good cat, and becoming a vegetable.

Then, February came and Laurel was kind enough to let me use her condo in Vegas while I’m figuring out what to do with my life, fighting with my fired publisher, and trying to get this book up and running without having to compete with my own book at a higher price. Because Laurel has a sorority house in Santa Barbara, she doesn’t have cable on at her condo except the three months she’s off in the summer. I bought a wireless card, which is great, but it doesn’t take much time to eat up all the minutes so I pretty much live in Starbucks. Which I suppose is good practice for my life at Starbucks during the day and the car at night if it comes to that.

But an interesting thing that’s happened is that I only watch the shows I really like on HULU or on the videos from the TV channels to catch up. And I’m not locked in to the actual show time – can watch whenever I want. The only bug is Fox — the evil Fox — that doesn’t allow HULU to show an episode for eight days after showing, and to see it sooner, you have to connect it through a cable connection –which I don’t have. So, I have to wait for week-late viewing of Bones. For the first couple of weeks, I definitely went through withdrawal — from absolutely nothing except noise in the background.

The end result is that I watch very few shows a week — just the ones I like. Monday is Castle. Tuesday, is NCIS & NCIS LA. Wednesday brings Survivor and Revenge, Thursday is a wasteland except for The Finder, so that’s when I catch up on the M-W schedule, and, except for Shark Tank (which I love) and GCB (I know these women), that’s it. I was watching Top Shot, but it’s over. Once Survivor is over, I probably won’t watch any other reality TV. I’ll add some new shows as these go out of season — like Rizzoli and Isles, but other than that, my TV watching is limited. I go to sports bars to watch games I’m really interested in, which is also much more limited than I thought. I’ll stick to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, the the Oklahoma City Thunder. So overall, it’s working out really well.

What will happen if I take another jobas a house mom? Or actually end up living someplace and buy a TV? I don’t know. Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson, will find more productive ways to spend my life, and not go into a coma every night watching mindless TV. Maybe even hit the beach a couple of days a week like I used to do when I was USC, but forgot to do when I was at the much closer UCLA.

With any luck at all, it will work out much better than me trying to give up my addiction to Coke. That never lasts long. To be honest, I’m kind of already off the wagon. I need to move somewhere that only serves Pepsi. Think that may be my only shot at success…….

My Name is Ann Hyman, and I am an addict.

Most of you know about my long-running addiction to High-Octane Coke — all the calories, all the caffeine. My doctor has yelled at me, Abbi has yelled at me, hell; half the world has yelled at me. I know. The evil sugar. The evil caffeine. I get it. But Abbi tells me I used up all my other addictions in the 60’s and 70’s and Cokes and chocolate are the only ones I have left (she’s assuming — I make no confessions). I mean, really. I eat healthy — high fiber, high protein, only healthy carbs, no fried foods (except when I go to Myrtle Beach when absolutely nothing else is available) and even Artic Zero ice cream at 150 calories per pint — and I never eat the whole pint — make it last about four evenings. So I’m really pretty good except for this one little addition. And I can quit whenever I want. I’ve done it before – for whole days at a time.

I stayed at Abbi’s house Kitty Sitting with Nyla and Mox (you don’t want to know) for a week while she was in Cabo for one of her best friend’s birthday — Kelly was the last to turn 21, and therefore, the last to turn 30 — so a celebration of epic proportions was in order. However, Abs got back Tuesday and I stayed one more night. Got absolutely no sleep, yet had to make the 5 hour schlepp back to Vegas Wednesday morning.

Obviously, this trip could not be made without caffeine. After nodding off to sleep and hitting a guard rail on the way to San Diego scared the crap out of me and I didn’t want that to ever happen again….So…..two Cokes, chocolate covered expresso beans, popcorn, a trip through Burger King (Ok, three Cokes) and a TCBY butter pecan cone later, I finally made it to Vegas…..and got no sleep for the second night in a row. I was probably just too tired to sleep, but I guess it could have been the Cokes and expresso beans. Maybe.

So, I decided to kick the habit. Picked up a four-pack of raspberry Stevia-sweeted drinks, some more Stevia-sweetened ginger ale, a couple of lemonade-lights (all natural, of course), and Snapple’s version of an Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half tea). Oh, and some Cherry Coke Zero. All caffeine and calorie free or almost free. And they all taste OK — no classic burn at the back of my throat that I’ve come to crave, but I figured they should be enough to help me get my life together without resorting to my beloved Coke.

I flashed back to the days when 7-11 had 32-oz containers that looked like milk cartons. I’d pick one up on the way to work, another for lunch, and one more on the way home. And would go to sleep with a Coke perched on the table beside my bed and wake up refreshed every morning. But I was younger and more resilient then. So was my waistline. I guess as bodies age, our tolerance for the better things in life decrease. Which pretty much sucks.

So I woke up from a fretfull sleep — knowing what was ahead of me — and realized I was faced with yet another day of final edits from my ARC (advanced reading copy) and I’d probably be in Starbucks from around 9:30 am until about 6-7 p.m. I don’t drink coffee, and don’t like their teas. And their lemonade tea leaves much to be desired, so I usually just get water when I’m there. Damn. 9-10 hours. With nothing but water and a banana nut bread for breakfast and maybe a panini for lunch. I could see myself sitting in the comfy chair the Starbucks crew now call my office, nodding off to sleep, which would result in yet another day at Starbucks — because no matter whose house I’m staying in, I have a very short attention span at “home.” I got tired just thinking about it.

So………damn. A Circle K on the way. The car pulled in. Honest, I had nothing to do with it — it just pulled in. I mean, afterall — wasn’t it just two summers ago all my body wanted was Cokes and Butterfingers? And I even lost six pounds. And the car was already pulled up to the front door of the Circle K…….maybe just one more. One more classic burn at the back of my throat, one more glorious High Octane Coke. What could one more hurt, right? I mean — really — it’s first thing in the morning, it will be out of my system by noon. The Stevia good stuff is at home. I’ll be there this evening, and if I get all my work done today I won’t have to be back in my big comfy chair at Starbucks tomorrow. So, I succumbed.

Ahhhhhhhhh. My body tingles with anticipation. I insert the straw into the clear plastic cup that reveals the lovely caramel color I’ve loved for years. The classic burn hits the back of my throat and I feel that it continue as it travels into my body, invigorating me just enough to get me started for the day. And I have the answer. My morning Coke stays. All I need is that one little jolt. That one innocuous fix. The Stevia crap will be waiting for me when I get home. We’ll just call it a semi-detox. Kind of like nothing we eat standing up counts. Right? And Starbucks is used to me coming in with my Coke — they tolerate it because they know how much I’ll be spending with them the rest of the day. So everyone is happy, my throat is happy with the world again, and I can do this……

Except, maybe, when I stop at Del Taco. I mean, really. Who can eat tacos without Coke.

Why “The Mind of Ann?”

It’s kind of a funny story, actually.

A couple of weeks ago I put a post on Facebook, “Finish this sentence – ‘The Mind of Ann is……'” and got some very interesting answers. But when I got to Simon Wood’s, I couldn’t stop laughing. He finished the sentence with “unstable,” — which only makes sense when you understand that my first words to him were, “I know your evil twin.” Just a year before, I had moved 1500 miles from Oklahoma City, changed my phone number, and had nothing in my name so his evil twin couldn’t find me. I needed to break what had become a very long-term, addictive, and toxic relationship. (By the way, Simon Wood is a very compelling mystery writer, has that great British sense of humor that shines in his books, and will keep you turning pages. If you haven’t discovered him, you need to. Sooner than later.)

I took a class at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA from Sheldon Siegel (another mystery writer; start with “Special Circumstances,”) he told me to “stop taking classes and finish the book,” and invited me to sign up for Book Passage’s Mystery Writers’ Conference. After a way-too-long break I had started writing again, and welcomed the chance to spend four days hanging out with other people who loved mysteries — met some big time authors and made some good new friends. Mystery/thriller writers are the nicest, most supportive people on earth. And boy, can they “socialize.”

A new friend and I walked into a panel discussion, and I freaked. Froze. Grabbed her arm so tightly my nails left marks in her skin and said, “I’ve gotta get outta here.” She looked at me like I was crazy. I said something like, “I can’t believe he found me. I’ve got to Leave. Now.” She told me I was being silly, and dragged my butt into the seminar — but I hid behind a tall man. I kept kind of peeking around him until the panel was introduced, and was relieved when they announced that the person I thought was Kraig Mundle (aka: Kraig the Serial Husband) was really Simon Wood.

After the discussion was over, I walked up to him and those crazy words popped out of my mouth. Surprisingly, he didn’t run away. Instead, he stopped and talked to me. The more we talked, the more I found that he and Kraig had much in common — except Simon was still with his first wife, Julie, and Kraig had just divorced his fourth when I joined the witness protection program. Same sense of humor, same strange laugh, both sit with their left arm draped over the back of their chair, same crooked smile, both had lived very interesting lives and chosen unusual and sometimes dangerous professions, and of course, were both British. Simon is still talking to me after all these years, and I’m happy to say that I’ve gone from “Simon looks just like Kraig,” to “Kraig really reminds me of Simon.”

Kraig found my new cell phone number a couple of years ago. The first time he called was when Abbi and I were at Daytona Beach for the 2007 Collegiate National Cheer Championship with her newly-formed squad from California Baptist University. As always, my heart fluttered when I heard his voice. But he called for the second time a couple of weeks ago, and I kind of froze again for a moment. I realized for the first time since 1989, I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing when I heard his voice. I’m finally over him. Of course, it’s 20 years later now and all the men my age are either unable to stay up past ten at night, have a twenty-year old on their arm, are married, or dating each other. But it’s a start.

But Simon’s right. The mind of Ann can be slightly wanky from time to time. But that’s OK. I get to hang around with other writers who also have slightly wanky minds, and am accepted for whoever I am on any given day. Some of them have stood by me through some very strange times the last four years, and they still believe in me. You can’t ask for anything better than that. And even though I don’t get to see them often because they’re either in NorCal or totally ran away from home like my friend Cornelia Read (“Field of Darkness,” “The Crazy School,” “Innocent Boy,” — run, don’t walk to pick up her books), when we see each other it’s like we never were apart.

So, for better or worse, I’m back. For the last couple of years I’ve listened to my lawyer and kept the blog down. It seems the other side was following me on “annhymanwrites.com” and planned on using some of that information against me. But after four years of Worker’s Comp Hell and two years of being anonymous, I’ve decided to politely say, “F — ” them.

I have no idea where this is going to go — or where I’m going to go for that matter — but I promise it won’t be boring. As you can see, the site is still “kinda” under construction, but while we’re tweeking it, I wanted to start talking to my friends again. For those of you who have been with me for the last few years, thank you for your support. The rest of you, welcome aboard. And hold on….it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. Welcome to The Mind of Ann.