Tumbler Roulette

I am seriously considering the switch to disposable plastic cups. I originally wanted to do this because both of the men in my house, husband and son, are notorious for grabbing a clean glass when they have one right in front of them. The amount of dirty dishes they produce in a day is staggering, but at the forefront of the parade of crockery and glassware marching into my dishwasher is always the humble tumbler.

They recently earned a reprieve in my campaign to get them to reuse a glass when illness took America in its grip. Just today I logged on Facebook to see that several more friends were either succumbing to the creeping crud or finally recovering from it. Because I am somewhat of a germaphobe, I granted husband and son amnesty during the periods of sickness that took down the Gibson Household not once, not twice, but three times.

But my men, God bless them, aren’t always diligent in following my gently applied guidelines when it comes to glasses. For example, I love to keep a glass by the sink full of ice cubes and fresh water so I can grab a drink whenever I’m thirsty. We don’t own one of those fancy refrigerators with water and ice magically spewing from the door, so this practice served me well until my son decided to indulge himself in my thirst quenching drink. I cannot tell you how many times the water-thieving twerp has guzzled my beverage moments before I reached for it. Adding insult to injury, he left the empty glass full of ice cubes right where I placed it.

Husband, on the other hand, is actually quite good about not drinking from my glass except that he forgets which glass is his and exactly where he set it. His mistake results in another lecture on the evils of the “community glass” replete with examples of how drinking from someone else’s glass is just plain gross.

“Guys, my glass is the one with the pebbled texture on the inside, okay?”

“Oh, I drank out of that one,” says the son who came home from school with the sniffles.

Big sigh as I empty that glass and place it in the dishwasher. Then I fill another glass, this time one with a lovely pattern resembling tartan plaid cut into the glass, and fill it with ice and water for me and me alone. Except this is also the pattern of the glass husband, who is recovering from illness, has decided upon, and now he can’t remember where he set his glass, and maybe he drank out of mine, maybe not. Two more glasses enter the dishwasher to prevent the spread of germs.

Three new glasses are procured for dinner, all different in pattern and color, and we agree to keep an eye on them for later use. Except my guys don’t, and to make matters worse, they cleared the dinner dishes, mixed up our glasses, and forgot which belonged to them. So you see I simply have to switch to plastic for the good of all mankind or at least to maintain my sanity.

The run on drinking glasses became so bad that we started using mugs. Not that this kept my boys from mixing up which one they had used to begin with. And I even caught the younger one drinking from mine again. I had to abandon my lovely glass (or mug) of chilled water waiting for me on the sink in favor of all three of us grabbing a fresh glass (or mug) every time we wanted a drink. And let me tell you, we’re water drinkers at the Gibson Household…which I suppose is a good thing especially when one is trying to push fluids during an illness.

But seriously, I’m switching to plastic cups. It’ll be me and Solo against all the tree-huggers who claim the popular red receptacle is a hazard to landfills. I can no longer play Jacob in trying to sort out the speckled and striped glasses and who drank out of which one. Procter & Gamble will no longer receive my money for countless boxes of dishwasher detergent every two weeks. Now, I will support Dart Container in my effort to stamp out germs.

In the words of Toby Keith, “Proceed to party!”

Family – The Ties That Bind…and Gag!

I had never read Erma Bombeck until a literary agency’s query letter specifications required me to find comparable books. I Googled books about families with a strong humor element, wrote down the titles, and placed holds on them at my local library. I also visited Books-A-Million to find the titles my library didn’t own, and I read the book jacket flaps, the opening paragraphs, and random selections throughout the books. One novel in particular seemed like it was going to be close, but I just didn’t feel a connection with it. The comparison to my novel ended up being slim at best. I never finished reading it.

I went back to the drawing board (Google) and refined my search for comparable books. I wanted truly funny family situations, the kind to which a reader could relate and which would make him or her laugh out loud. What I didn’t want were books that pushed someone’s social, political, or religious agenda or books that praised deep-seated dysfunctions in need of therapy and medication. Whatever I did returned a better selection of titles that weren’t just new books and authors, but many classic humor writers, too.

And I discovered Erma Bombeck. I had heard about Mrs. Bombeck as a kid, and I’ve read snippets of her writing usually on refrigerator magnets or bookmarks. At first I worried that her writing would be considered too old or irrelevant to today’s family, or worse, today’s woman. After reading Family – The Ties That Bind…and Gag! I realized that Mrs. Bombeck’s humorous writing is every bit as relevant today as when it was first published.

What appealed to me about Mrs. Bombeck’s writing was that she blended her role as a wife and mother into that of her writing career. She used the years she wasn’t writing for a paycheck to gather material for the times when she could. She made sacrifices without sacrificing her family, and it paid off in fifteen books, a humor column that appeared in nine hundred newspapers throughout the world, and an eleven-year guest appearance on ABC’s Good Morning, America. Mrs. Bombeck held twelve honorary doctorates, was appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee for Women, and was repeatedly named to The World Almanac’s annual list of the twenty five Most Influential Women in America. Pretty impressive for a housewife.

Per Mrs. Bombeck:

Raising a family wasn’t something I put on my resume, but I have to ask myself, would I apply for the same job again?

It was hard work. It was a lot of crud detail. It was steady. Lord, it was steady. But in retrospect, no matter what deeds my life yielded…no matter how many books I had written marched in a row on a library shelf, no matter how many printed words of mine dangled under magnets on refrigerator doors, I had done something rather extraordinary with my life as a mother. For three decades, I had been a matriarch of my own family…bonding them together, waiting for stragglers to grow up, catch up, or make up, mending verbal fences, adding a little glue for cohesion here, patching a few harsh exchanges there, and daily dispensing a potion of love and loyalty to something bigger than all of us.

I cannot tell you how reassured I was to know that Mrs. Bombeck understood the importance of investing in her family. She understood that women aren’t defined by how much they earn or their status in life. She knew that the stay-at-home mother who didn’t make money doing what she did was every bit as important as the woman in the corporate boardroom pulling down millions.

Family – The Ties That Bind…and Gag! was a truly satisfying read, and I hope women today will realize that the greatest thing they can do for themselves is to selflessly serve others. The rewards are endless. Don’t believe me? Reread Erma Bombeck’s list of accomplishments above.

Find Your Tribe

The first writing group I ever attended was at the library where I used to work. I had written for pleasure my whole life, but I never did anything with it. Not that one has to do anything with his or her writing. However, when my friend and co-worker mentioned that she was starting a writing group, I was intrigued.

I joined the monthly meetings without any expectations and a lot of desire and nervousness. No one had ever heard my writing beyond my parents and husband. Now I was being asked to share my work with strangers. Reading aloud in group did not come easily to me, and I didn’t do it as much as I would have liked. Even submitting through Google Groups intimidated me.

I kept going to the group but constantly came away frustrated and angry with myself. Then came the day when I realized the writing group wasn’t a good fit for me. I’ll refrain from listing the reasons why so I don’t sound petty or judgmental. The group still exists at a different location, members have come and gone, but the group is solid and I wish them every success.

I joined another writing group that seemed like what I was looking for, followed a few members from there to a new group, and tried two other groups on a hit or miss basis. I kept writing, editing, querying, and blogging, but I felt unsettled. I’d made wonderful friends in the writers I’d met, so what was missing?

A fellow writer from one of the earlier groups invited me to an informal meeting for writers at her home. She writes mysteries as do the majority of the attendees. The invitation to talk about craft and industry was too tempting. I went mostly to observe, listen, and learn especially since I don’t write mysteries.

If memory serves me correctly, that was close to two years ago. In that time an amazing thing happened. I remember the moment it dawned on me that the seven of us had come to trust each other. Every month we sat around the dining room table talking craft, industry, and so much more. Maybe it was the fact that we were all facing each other. Perhaps it had to do with sharing about our families, jobs, fears and joys, failures and successes. Maybe it’s because the group is small, consistent, and all women. Whatever the reason, I know that each of us looks forward to the monthly meeting with the same excitement and anticipation as one would a trip to Disney World combined with a visit to a great therapist.

The connection the group established spilled over into occasional e-mails, then a weekly check-in, and finally the need for a private means of communication via social media for questions and comments not requiring immediate attention or lengthy conversation. The group is a success because we know we’ll be there for each other. The support is invaluable.

I’m sharing this to stress the importance of finding a writing group that works for you. If you have the desire and initiative, create one. Only you can decide what makes a writing group work for you, so don’t stay in one that isn’t beneficial to your writing life. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be because I hate for the meeting to conclude, I miss my fellow writers/friends before I’m even out the door, and I can hardly wait until we’re together again.

Go forth fearlessly and find your tribe.

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