March 15, 2012

PMS and a Cheeseburger

In spite of my hellaciously wonky sleep schedule, I went to bed around two in the morning last night and woke at six-thirty this morning out of a strange dream.

In the dream, I really wanted a cheeseburger and so I went out to get one. This woman in the dream seemed to be completely against giving me a cheeseburger. “What kind of cheeseburger do you want? Can you explain this to me in detail? You know prices have gone up,” she went from being really annoying as I tried to order a cheeseburger to personally attacking me. I tried to deflect her comments and to remain calm, despite the fact that I wanted to lunge at her throat.

I went off and did other things in the dream, I suspect, to calm down. Somehow, I ended up walking around a department store looking at coats (don’t ask). But, I am nothing if not persistent, and I caught sight of the exit and headed toward it.

I was going to get my cheeseburger, damn it…one way or another. I left and called the woman that had come between me and my cheeseburger-y goodness (mainly to chew her out).

Finally, after successfully battling her and taking her down verbally, I was free to get my cheeseburger.

But at that point in the dream, I hung up the phone and said, “F*ck it.” I didn’t want it anymore.

Instead, I wanted cookies and cream ice cream with caramel sauce.

And that’s when I woke, gazing into the dark and thinking, “Oh yummy above all yummies, I do want that!”

Given that it was six-thirty in the morning, I got up, put the moka pot on the stove, and sat down to write this blog instead.

The past couple of days I’ve felt crabby, bitchy, and all around PMS-y. Apparently, PMS has leaked into my dreams.

I don’t consider myself much of a bitch. I mean, sure, I can be – but I make an effort not to be, even when I’m feeling fussy, short-fused, and totally impatient with the people around me. I tend to crawl into my shell when I’m not in a good mood. I crawl inside and hang a sign on the imaginary door that reads: For Your Own Good, Do Not Disturb. I deal with my irritability with humor, I try to make it less, try to laugh right in its big ol’ irritable face.

And then someone will say something to me and I’ll respond, realizing that whether I will it or no, my voice has changed. It’s taken on a bitchy and somewhat snarky growl and then I feel bad. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’m like a werewolf with a full moon approaching – but instead of this insatiable urge to go postal on someone’s ass, I want things that keep my inner bitch at bay. I try to tame myself. I nibble on chocolate. I crave steak like something fierce, and so I give into the craving, and when I do this, when I give into my cravings for ice cream, or chocolate, or steak – my inner bitch does start to calm down a little bit. And it’s good, because I’m not too big of a fan of her, either. That’s the one thing that gets me, when people give you that look that says, “Wow, I really don’t like you right now.” Do they think you really like dealing with yourself then? All you want is your damn ice cream so that inner bitchy voice shuts the bleedin’ hell up and you no longer feel like a wolf ready to bite someone’s head off in a matter of seconds, only to then have to deal with an immense amount of guilt once your normal self kicks back ‘on.’

And that’s part of the fun of being in a relationship with a woman, I suspect. (Note: Totally being sarcastic). You’d think, as women, that we’re better equipped to deal with each other’s PMS. But, this is not often the case. We’re better equipped at absorbing each other’s PMS.

Like last night, my wife pointed out that I’d taken complete control of our evening (and I had). While she was on the phone dealing with work, I was like, “I’m going to rent a movie. And I want steak. You buying?”

I heard her when she said, “I don’t know what’s been released.” I did not, however, hear her when she said, “There’s nothing out there I want to see,” in the same sentence. And eventually, that led us to bickering.

“How can you say, ‘I don’t know what’s been released’ and ‘there’s nothing out there I want to see’ in the same bloody sentence?” I asked. “It’s friggin’ contradictory! You said you don’t know what’s been released!”

“You shaped our evening, on my day off, around what you wanted to do.”

“Yeah, and what’s so wrong with spending time with me, having a lovely dinner, and watching a movie?” I swung right into defensive, feeling as though she was trying to heap onto me more guilt than I was willing to carry. Didn’t she understand I wanted to watch a movie so I didn’t talk and leak a bunch o’ bitch all over the place? I’d told her earlier, “I’m feeling crabby today, it’s nothing personal, and I’ll do my best not to take it out on you.” And yet, all it took was what felt like an accusation to set me right off, and then I said something that set her right off, and then:

“You know, every damn dog in this neighborhood can probably hear you right now!”

“I’m just freaking sure they can! That’s the effing point! This is my STOP ARGUING WITH ME voice! It’s supposed to hurt your ears so badly, that you STOP FREAKING ARGUING WITH ME!” I said, still in my whiny-growly-screechy voice.

And then we kicked back, shut up, and watched our movie (the movie I picked out).

My wife and I used to be able to fight. I mean, we’d get bleedin’ pissed off at each other and hold grudges over shite for days. Now, we’re kind of like cats. But we understand each other and what exactly we’re doing when we argue: We’re both finding a safe place to unload pent up stress. In some strange way, we don’t take it personally. I think that’s one thing that really makes our relationship awesome. We don’t argue often, mind you. I personally loathe arguing, but when I get heated up, I don’t back down very well. I will drive that damn thing straight into the ground, until it’s twitching and like a spider that’s been whacked, trying to hang in there, but failing, all eight of its limbs beginning to curl inward toward its body. My wife is just as stubborn.

Like cats, we get taken by weird random moments of conflict inspired by frustration and irritability with something else in the universe (not always each other) and we hiss, spit, swat, and then afterward, shake paws and say, “Good game.”

I’ve learned through years of experience that sometimes the best thing you can do is put a lid on your own emotions and force yourself to walk away. It took me years and a lot of nasty arguments to learn to cage that instinct in myself that said, “Pounce, fight, attack, seek, destroy, annihilate, rawr, rawr, rawr.”

When I was younger, I didn’t understand it. If cornered, I felt like the only option I had was to unsheathe the big claws and let the stinger fly. Yet, experience and age offer us wisdom (they don’t always make us wise, because we don’t always reach for the knowledge that’s available to us), but the wisdom’s usually there for the taking. I’ve learned to cage my inner lioness, take a deep breath, get up, and walk out. I’ve learned it’s not weak to do such a thing: It’s considerate, really. Most arguments are pointless, despite the fact that we find what we think is a focal point in an argument,  we’re usually trying to convince the other person to think or feel as we do or we're just unloading emotional energy. Sometimes, it can be healthy, it can be therapeutic, but there’s a line we have to draw and not cross. Sometimes, you’ve just got to pick up your emotional shite, walk out, and calm down before you say something stupid or deal a blow that makes a casual argument escalate into a big scary monster argument.

My wife and I have learned the art of arguing and then letting it go. After we argued last night, she came back to the room and said, “Look, I know you might not admit it, but I know you’re irritated, in part, because we haven’t got to spend as much time together as you’d like due to me having to deal with work related issues on my day off.”

Even though I was lying in bed, glaring at the television set, that little bit of trying to understand made my stinger start to go down and my mane less ruffled.

And that’s when we let it go and curled up to watch a movie together. We love each other, even when we argue. Oh, we might want to clobber each other a bit, but we still love each other and we’re aware of that even when we’re trading witty comebacks.

During a break in our movie, we stepped out into the kitchen. I grinded up some coffee for Rebecca and made a cup of tea for myself and then we hugged and Alonzo, one of our cats, walked up and leaned up against our legs. We picked him up and held him between us in a purring sandwich-y hug.

People are not perfect. We’re flawed, we’re damaged, we’re messed up sometimes, but we’re a lot of other good things, as well. You can’t expect each other to be perfect and you can’t expect to get along and to see one-hundred percent in the same direction, all the time. We’ve each got stuff we have to deal with and Bec and I both agree that when it comes to our relationship: It’s a safe place. It’s a place where we’re safe to be ourselves and a safe place to express our feelings and to argue if that’s what we need to do. It’s a safe place, because that’s what we make it. We make it safe with forgiveness and compassion. We make it safe by being in it together, by being committed and not judging the other too harshly. And as fired up as I can get, one of my strong suits is the ability to empathize with the people I care about (and the same goes for my wife – we’re a lot alike in many ways). There have been times when I’ve riled Bec up, just because I knew she needed to get something out of her system, and afterward, she’s understood that’s exactly what I was doing.

I opened myself up and said, “Bring it on, get it out, I can take it,” and afterward, I threw it off and left it on the ground. As I said earlier in this blog, it’s not always about us. It’s about other things that get dragged into our midst that we need to kick the shit out of and banish. It may seem in that moment that we’re opposing each other, but we’re not. We’re still working together.

We can say we hate arguing as much as we want, but when it comes down to it, every time we learn how to better deal with an argument and how to take the time to understand more fully where we’re coming from as individuals, it strengthens our bond, it reinforces the safety of our relationship.

We’re reminded that we’re not perfect in those moments, but that our bond is strong, our love and friendship is strong, and that we work pretty damn well together. By establishing that safety in our relationship, it makes it even more valuable. We love one another enough to argue and get over it, instead of trying to get even. We try to make it something productive instead of destructive. And though I try not to take my PMS out on her, it inevitably shows when I’m PMSing. Neither one of us needs words to communicate with each other. Being so constantly in-tune with each other often lands us in the same boat and so whatever we’re dealing with, dark waters, choppy waters, inner storms – we find a way to navigate and plot a course together.

Even if every now and then, we’re tempted to knock the other affectionately overboard.

At least if we do, we know one of us will always finally talk some sense into ourselves and throw out the life-saving flotation device for the other.

And baby, that’s love.

March 8, 2012

"Eh, What's up?"

I heard a lot of things from my mother when I was growing up. Most notably, was the phrase, “You’re weird, child.” It used to leave me grinning, although, a bit perplexed. How was I weird? I wasn’t trying to be! Of course, I didn’t have to try. Eventually, I realized that and I learned to embrace it.

I still get that look from her. I don’t always get the, “You’re weird, child,” response, but I do get the look -- the look that tells me she’s standing there wondering how she ever gave birth to such a strange woman.

I’ve come to learn, it’s a Pennington trait (I figure it has something to do with our British ancestry. Let’s face it, Brits are weird, even the most unsuspecting Brits have a weird sense of humor somewhere in them... That’s why I love ‘em).  As I’ve come to know distant relatives better, I’ve seen a similar weirdness in them and learned that it is, in fact, genetic weirdness. My mother agrees. “You come by it quite naturally,” she’s said. “Any other family would disown you.” You may wonder then, about my siblings. Yes, they’re weird too. But that’s not what this post is really about.

Earlier this evening, I approached my mother about a post I’d made on Facebook several days ago. Mind you, it was a post of a cat picture I’d drawn using Paint on my computer while I was sick and doped up on cold meds. Somehow, one of the markings on the cat came out looking very odd to me. I realized after a moment of gazing at the artwork I had so proudly drawn in my foggy-headed and sick-addled state, that the marking looked either like a lava lamp or a butt-plug.

Here's the post:

“This is what I’ve been reduced to: I’m not sure if that’s a lava lamp or a butt-plug on its back…”

(The entertainment value of drawing pictures of strange cats while doped on cold meds is high, sorry).

Of course, because she’s on my friend’s list (I just didn’t have it in me not to friend my own mother) she saw my drawing and commented:

“Who slammed the door on its poor tail? LOL”

I was momentarily taken aback, and so I replied, “You’re not concerned with the butt-plug looking mark, mother? Just the tail?”

A minute later, after no response, a thought occurred to me and I added, “Wait, do you even know what a butt-plug looks like?”

Still there was no response from her end.

A couple of days passed and she still hadn’t bothered answering my question or responding to my comments. Naturally, when I saw her this evening, I brought it up.

“I noticed you never responded to my comments on Facebook,” I said.

“What comments?”

“The comments on the cat picture, of course. I asked you if you know what a butt-plug looks like.” I was betting she didn’t and that’s why she hadn’t responded. Oh yes, my spidey senses were tingling!

She was silent for several moments.

“So, do you know what a butt-plug looks like?” I asked, starting to grin.

“No, I don’t know what a butt-plug looks like,” she said.

At last! Victory!

And then, “And I don’t need to know what one looks,” she rambled off. “Why would I? It’s useless knowledge I don’t need to keep and carry around! Not all knowledge is worth having!”

I grabbed a pencil and notepad that were nearby and began to sketch to the best of my abilities.

“Sure you do,” I said, tearing off the leaflet of paper from the notepad. “This is what a butt-plug looks like.” I held it up in the air between us, showing her my drawing over the breakfast bar. She gazed at it, looking somewhat confused.

I used the pencil as a pointer. “This part goes into the anus.” I circled the tapered shaft of the plug I had drawn. “And this,” I circled the flat base, “keeps a person’s arse from gobbling it up.” (And yes, I really do say 'arse,' it's not just something I type to sound less offensive).

She continued to gaze at it, and so I turned it sideways, made a semi-thrusting motion in the air with it, and further explained that, “It’s essentially like a tac for your just push it in and voila!”

“Why would I need to know this!?” she asked, appearing somewhat horrified and bewildered.

I turned the drawing upside down and said with a slight smile, “Because if you look at it this way, it looks a bit like a carrot.”

And that’s why I’m weird
. I feel this strange urge to traumatize my poor mother with little facts and tidbits about things she feels safer off not knowing about. And I gain a certain sense of satisfaction from it, from wondering if she’s going to be able to look at a carrot in the grocery store the same way again, or better yet, when Bugs Bunny pops onto the television set and says, “Eh, what’s up doc?” will she be able to keep herself from remembering?

At least now she’ll know…

That’s what’s up.

Brightest Blessings,

March 5, 2012

When Sleep-Deprived and Medicated...

Ten minutes ago I was exhausted and ready to snuggle down under the covers and go to sleep. Now, I’m wide-awake and listening to my possessed mp3 player…which came on all on its own and decided to start playing Two-Penny Whore by Inkubus Sukkubus. Since I’m not one to argue with the imps of the mp3 player, Two-Penny Whore it is.

*Rocks out for a moment.*

Right. Ahem, anyhow. First, as you read this blog post, you should know that I’m seriously out of it and hyped up on cold meds.

Second, you should know…

I have two pennies.

Errr, wait, that’s not it. I got like three hours of sleep last night. Woke up at five in the morning yesterday and it’s now almost two in the morning. (Don’t ask how I’m still typing. I suspect it has something to do with the “non-drowsy” cold meds). I tried to resist taking cold medicine for as long as I could. Really, I did. I don’t like the way most of them make me feel (and this particular one makes my feet really tingly…it’s a weird side-effect I get when taking anything with Guaifenesin in it).

Aside from being sick and not getting enough sleep, I’m feeling rather dandy right now. (Again, I suspect that’s the cold meds talking). I missed my opportunity to go to sleep earlier, so now I have to wait until I’m literally dragging my arse to bed. Sure, I could try to sleep, but lately it seems that in order for me to get the eight hours of solid rest I crave and need, I have to use every ounce of energy I have left. If I go to bed too early, when I’m not exhausted – I may fall asleep, but I end up getting crappy broken sleep. So, essentially, what I’m planning on doing is driving myself to that point of exhaustion where I just collapse and clunk out and hope for eight hours of solid, beautiful, delicious sleep.

Till then, I’m writing this post.

And now I’m drawing a blank on what the hell to write about. This is often where my attention span cracks and I give up on the blog post all together. But, I won’t.

I’ll ramble on instead about what I’ve been working on lately. Well, a little bit...

I’ve been asked if there’s going to be a fourth Kassandra Lyall book. The answer is: Yes, and I’m working on it. However, I’ve been momentarily distracted from my work on the fourth book to write a novella that came to me one night out of the blue. It’s a, ah, erotic lesbian fairytale romance, of sorts. So, currently, I’m working on that. Then, when I’m done, I anticipate working on edits for Summoning Shadows (Rosso Lussuria Book II, which comes out in August this year) and resuming my work on the fourth Kassandra Lyall book. Fun stuff.

I’m really happy to say that Bloody Claws made it as one of the ten finalists among the Readers’ Choice Awards for 2012. To those of you that have taken the time to vote, THANK YOU! For those of you that haven't voted, but would like to, you can vote for it here (and can vote daily up till March 21st): Lesbian Readers' Choice Awards 2012

Of course, I’m not holding a gun to your head or anything like that, but any votes you guys cast my way are very much appreciated. I know awards are generally a big shindig in the author community (most of us want bragging rights, and hey, they’re nice), but to me, honestly, when you guys take the time to contact me personally and tell me how much you enjoyed the books… Well, that’s one of the greatest rewards of writing. I’m not shitting you. Like Kassandra, I have my totally sappy moments and there’s a few of you (you know who you are) that have seriously moved me to freaking tears. However, if that spreads vastly around the internet (that I’m a bit of a sap)… I will hunt you down. ;) Kapeesh?

Also, I wanted to share this really lovely open letter: Open Letter to Winter

And yes, that turned me into total mush! Huge thanks to Carol for taking the time to write it and for sharing it with me. :)

Mmm, and another tidbit of news – this month Bold Strokes released the paranormal anthology, Women of the Dark Streets. For those of you that need an Eris or Zaphara or paranormal fix in general, I encourage you to pick up a copy. There are several great stories in it. My short story, ‘Eris,’ takes place during the same timeline as Witch Wolf, only from Eris’ perspective. You can order a copy of the book here: Women of the Dark Streets

Now that my mp3 player has decided to play Sweet Fallen Angel (a song that’s lulling me to sleep - also by Inkubus Sukkubus), I’ll end the post here. I’m pretty sure the letters on my screen are trying to mate and make babies.

It’s a little unnerving…


Brightest Blessings,