Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Memories, The Thorns and The Roses

When you look back at your past, are your memories objective? Do you watch your past trip by with the static-laced nuance of an old movie? Or, like me, are your memories doused, twisted by emotion?

My memories seem to all fall into one of two categories. The Roses and The Thorns. Sometimes entire half-decades will be decorated by one or the other, dominated by whatever emotion I've chosen to assign that particular time in my life.

Whether person, place or experience, The Roses are all remembered as though I'm looking through fun-house mirror glass that magically smooths all the sharp edges off of the memory. I remember only the good, the grand, the mesmerizing. None of the mundane, disappointing or down-right heartbreaking moments make it through the fun-house mirror of The Roses.

The Thorns are my memories of particular people, places or events that have wrapped themselves around me, building strength and mass with each new length added to the rope throughout time until it's binding, strangling, poisonous. It's a case of remembering only the bad. Were there actually entire periods in my life, months, years, during which not one single good emotion was felt? Not one solitary act of kindness was given or received? No. I'm positive this is not the case. Even knowing the truth, The Thorns still exist, persist as I've shaded them in red and black in the coloring book of my mind.

The strange thing about memories, mine in particular, is their ability to genre hop, entirely on their own, as time passes. People, places, moments, that I once watched through the edge-softening glass of The Roses slowly become strangled by The Thorns as time goes by and I begin to remember the way the boy I'd been infatuated with as a teen always seemed to have a bugger peeking out from one nostril and I'd somehow convinced myself to ignore it. Or the way I'd go home lonely and wake up hungover after a raging party during college, or worse, go home with someone and wake up confused and disgusted.

Likewise, The Thorns hop tracks to The Roses. All the 5 AM alarm bleeps and grudging treks to the barn to feed horses while shivering in my PJ's underneath a stiff pair of Carhart overalls don't seem like such an inconvenience anymore. Now, I remember how the air was so clean and the stars were so bright in the country when I was 15, how my horse used to blink at me with sleepy brown eyes like she hated waking up so early too but was happy to see me all the same.

I remember huddling in my apartment, listening to a hurricane beat against the glass, waiting for the electric to go out and then wanting to cry when it finally did. Having to pass an armed guard stationed in front of the grocery store to wait in line an hour for the last loaf of bread and then sit in traffic for 2 hrs to go one mile because everyone in the state of Louisiana seemed to decide Baton Rouge was the place to be after the storm broke. Now, I remember going to the University and seeing the hundreds of cages erected in the gymnasium to house homeless pets and all the people who came to help take care of them so the families who were stuck in hotels or trailers or their cars wouldn't lose one more precious thing in their already stripped bare lives.

Sometimes it's difficult to remember, but thorns and roses are both parts to a whole. Without the thick stalk and warning thorns, the fragrant, beautiful flower wouldn't survive. Sometimes people, places, experiences are truthfully either good or bad. But, most of the time, they're a mix of the two and everything else in between. When we look back, it's easy to only remember the good or focus solely on the bad, at least it's easy for me. I wonder, in ten years, how I'll see this memory of myself, sitting here at 1 AM when I should be sleeping.

Will this me be one of The Roses or one of The Thorns?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Your Face Is Melting

After my divorce and before I started seeing my current husband, I was immersed in the world of online dating. I mostly used Match.com and went on 2 - 3 dates a week. Now, before you get all judgmental, by "date" I mean meeting up for coffee and drinks and I always paid for myself.

These dates were more interview than romantic encounter. Within 30 seconds I knew if I wanted to hang around and finish my coffee or beer or if I was going to give the guy a "Thanks, but no FU**ING WAY!"

Usually if the guy smelled like he showered regularly and looked reasonably like his profile picture, I gave him fifteen minutes, then I'd make a decision whether or not he warranted a real date.

I'd say 90% of these people seemed to use pictures of a younger, more handsome, taller, thinner, less balding brother to themselves. This was expected. I didn't see it as a breach of contract for a guy to not mention his growth or removal of a beard, a small change in weight, glasses instead of contacts, that sort of thing.

Then, I met up with a guy from Michigan who completely befuddled me. He seemed nice enough online and he was tall, which I liked, and I had nothing to do on this particular weekend so I drove the 1.5 hrs to meet him at a pretentious restaurant of his choice even though I didn't particularly want to pay $15 for a salad.

When I entered the restaurant, the guy was already seated. I found that kind of odd but I figured it was no bid deal. The waitress led me to a table in a darkened corner and I sat down across from the man I was supposed to meet. When he looked up at me, I almost jumped out of my seat. The guy's left eye and cheekbone were at least an inch lower on his face than the right.

Now...THIS is something I felt I should have been aware of previous to the meeting. Let's be clear, I wouldn't discount a person simply because of a disability, deformity, mutation, etc. But, I think you should warn a person before they show up and find that your face appears to be melting.

What  I found most odd about the entire situation was that when he looked at me, it was with complete innocence. Like he had no idea half his face was sliding off and I might find that strange. In my experience, people with handicaps, disabilities, limbs missing, weird scars covering half their head...have one of three reactions when meeting new people.

They're either A.) Combative -- They give you that challenging stare that says "I know what you're thinking. Go ahead and look! I don't care! You think it's gross, don't you? Well, Fuck You!"

 B.) Fearful -- They give you the wide-eyes or the downcast eyes that seem to say "I bet you're looking. Are you looking? God, please don't stare. Don't judge me. Shit, I shouldn't have agreed to this."

or C.) The Jokester -- These people are the ones who's first words are always a self-depreciating joke. A guy missing a hand might say something like "I'd offer to shake your hand, but I seem to have misplaced mine."

But, this guy, the guy with the more-than-slightly askew face, just looked at me like nothing was weird. This threw me for a loop. In fact, he seemed to be judging me, sizing me up to decide if I was good enough for him.

At this point, I was in my early twenties and had an anti-men, post-divorce mentality that contradicted my speed-dating routine. So, I was thinking to myself "What the hell is wrong with you, dude? Are you judging ME? You're deranged!"

While, like I said, I could forgive a series of profile pictures taken in flattering light or while you were 15 lbs thinner, I have a hard time getting over something like..."BTW, I forgot to mention I look like Sloth from The Goonies."

However, I was intrigued enough by this man's blatant omission that I sat through dinner and did my best to charm him. When, at the end of dinner, he gave me a cool "talk to you later", I was confused. I didn't want to date the guy, beyond the melting face, he was boring as hell, but he should have wanted to date me, right? At the time, I thought so.

I drove home, feeling more insulted with each passing mile. When I reached home, I logged on and found his profile pics and realized they were all taken from a careful angle so as to not show the weird side of his face. How had I missed this? Then, I got a message from him. Something along the lines of "It was nice meeting you, but I don't think it'll work out."

Now, I was really insulted. Sloth from the Goonies doesn't think I'm good enough? No. Freaking. Way.

So, I set about changing this guy's mind. For what reason, I've no idea. I pursued him. I drove to Michigan 3 additional times and ate at 3 more pretentious, overpriced restaurants for which I paid my half of the bill. For no other reason than I thought this guy should like me, even though his personality was flat and I wouldn't have dated him even without the misshapen face.

After our fourth and final dinner date, he emailed to tell me he didn't want to see me again. He didn't want to see me because he didn't like that I seemed "unsettled in my career". UNSETTLED IN MY CAREER!

I should have gone with my first instinct on the very first date, the first time I got a glimpse of him in person. I think we would have both been better off if I'd just said what I'd been thinking, "Excuse me, Sir, but your face is melting."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

5 Things You Don't Want to Wake Up With

What are some things you don't want to wake up with, besides the severed head of a horse or a bloody knife bearing only your fingerprints? Below are my top 5.






Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CONTEST : Enter to Win a Kindle Fire !


I'm extending the contest because I've had less than the 200 entries stated below. Stay tuned!!

I toyed with a bunch of different contest ideas for the release of A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY. While giving away logo-ed merchandise--mugs, bags, etc.-- certainly has merit, I thought ... why not do something BIG?

Sooooo, here it goes! Free Kindle Fire Contest rules:

Step One:  Buy a copy of A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY--written under my pen name Clara LaVeaux--either the e-book or the paperback.

You can purchase an e-book today and, in about a week, a paperback, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Diesel E-Books, All Romance E-Books and I-Tunes. *I'll post links as they become available but all versions of the book are available at Eternal Press.*

Step Two: Send an Email to ClaraLaVeaux@gmail.com with the word "CONTEST" in the subject line and the location/date you purchased A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY. (Example: "Amazon, 2/7/2012)
You must complete this step to be entered into the contest. 

*Your email address is safe with me. It will not be sold or given away to anyone for any reason.*

Bonus: To gain two entries and increase your chances of winning, post a review of A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY on Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes and Noble and email a link to your review to ClaraLaVeaux@gmail.com with the word "REVIEW" in the subject line.

See? Easy! 
Contest will run for one month, from February 7th, 2012 through midnight on March 7th, 2012. Winner will be chosen by a random generator and announced on March 8th, 2012. Winner must respond by email within three days. If the winner fails to respond, a new winner will be chosen. If I have fewer than 200 contest entries, I may extend the contest by a few days until I hit 200. Happy Reading and GOOD LUCK!

Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm Guest Blogging Over at Four Strong Women Today

If you like snarky rants and funny women, you'll love Four Strong Women.

"...Being a mother is kind of like living inside an asylum. I love my children, but no matter the time of day, someone's crying, someone's yelling, someone's drooling, and it isn't out of the question to walk into a room and find shit smeared on the wall."