It’s Been Over Two Months Since I Wrote a Blog. You Can Thank All My Thankless Volunteer Work For That.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with blogging. I was told when I became a writer that all writers had to have blogs to help sell their writing; that an agent or a publishing house won’t take you seriously if you don’t already have an audience.

Well that didn’t – exactly – pan out as planned on the ol’ book sales, wouldn’t you say?

At the same time as all that, I did like having a place to vent or just ramble. But I also think that blogging is, in some senses, vaguely…narcissistic. Like people seriously care about my life and opinions and beliefs so much that they’d check in regularly about what I have to say, or how much I had for dinner, or whatever.. Really?

Well I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe really. Not saying people care about me, but I do think they (they being the general public that peruses the Internet) likes to hear they aren’t alone. In whatever it is they feel alone about.

So out the door of this blog post, this blog post that is my first in over two months, I’m going to commit to you guys to just do it, just write. Because maybe there are one or two of you out there who do give a shit. Or maybe you are family that are just waiting for something to gossip about me over, and here I’ve been denying you that, lo these last few months. I don’t know, but I promise I’ll do better.

Mostly I’ll be able to do that, though, because my brief hiatus from writing on this blog wasn’t so much about this love-hate relationship I have with blogging so much as it has been that I have been fucking busy. Fucking busy doesn’t even begin to address it, you guys. It’s been madness. My daily life has been a track towards the next thing on an endless list of to-dos.

Beyond just the typical mom life daily shit, though; along with other stuff I’ll get into over the course of the following weeks as I get back into writing here more often and fulfilling my commitment not to disappear for such long periods of time anymore…it’s my thankless volunteer work that’s been keeping me on the move.

Lucky for you guys (if there are “you guys” out there), I’m quitting all that shit.

Well, sort of.

Over the last year or so I’ve gotten heavily involved in two things: my local center for the arts, and the neighborhood watch program for my 3,000 resident, middle class community.

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My capacity at the art center is newsletter person (duh, I’m a writer) and then I volunteer to teach a class in drawing. It’s all fun and games, though, until you start helping more and learning about how much the president, vice president, and other leaders of the organization are criticized regularly by these old codgers that never come to a GOD. DAMN. THING.

Then the criticisms started coming at me. I made a suggestion – being the young, whippersnapper that I am – that we transition the newsletter from that age-old foldable thing that was being emailed out from my personal email account as an attachment once a month, to a digital, weekly, totally legit HTML email blast. I did the research. I provided statistics about how this could increase membership and involvement. The executive board of the place LOVED the idea. I, of course, was happy because this meant I no longer had to use my personal email account.

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The general membership, however, did not receive it quite as well. Since the switch, I hear nothing but bitch-bitch-bitch, gripe-gripe-gripe about people not liking the new way they they receive their newsletters. Some in the form of not opting in. A select few in constant emails and comments. They don’t like the format. They want something they can print and read at their leisure. About three people have this now as their mission in life to harass me over, and they will not LET. IT. GO.

But then today I was talking to the vice president of the place, and she said it perfectly: “every time someone has a criticism, I’m planning to ask what they’ll be volunteering to do if they don’t like it.”

THANK. YOU.

Dealing with some of this drama has taken far more of my time than I would have liked. I’ve spent more time responding to emails, answering phone calls, and more than anything just generally being annoyed by it than I should.

So I’m going to let it go myself. I’m not going to quit, no…I still love art and culture. I’ll still do the newsletter, help however I can…teach my classes…

But I ain’t wasting my time being upset about this anymore.

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Then there’s the more complicated volunteer thing I do: the neighborhood watch. I’m the coordinator. If you know anything about neighborhood watch, I’m like the crazy lady who gets interviewed by the local news whenever some shit goes down in her neighborhood. The one who spends the majority of her time encouraging others to spy on their neighbors.

Beyond that, I get the meetings together, I raise the money for our signs – which, I will add, I chose without the creepy criminal pictured on it – and I send out all the crime alerts.

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I told you guys a few months back all about PeeGate. Where I posted in our group page on Facebook about how it is absolutely and without a doubt illegal for any human being to urinate on another person’s lawn; and the moms of my community came out in FULL FUCKING FORCE to tell me why I was an asshole. For doing my job.

Things got a little dull, quieter after that. Arguably that had nothing to do with the fact that the community had gone crime-less. Quite the opposite. For a middle class neighborhood with some homes going for 1.2 and 1.6 million dollars (*snort*…definitely not ours, though), I am flabbergasted by how much petty crime and general hillbilly shit goes on in this place.

Just the neighbors got busy, or something, because they weren’t griping in my direction for a while. They let me report the crime with little backlash. Occasionally they reported it themselves, though you dare to tell someone whose car is being broken into or whose bike is stolen to call the police and you’ll get a “will consider doing that next time”…

Then I had to go and say something about Pokemon Go.

The real problem with Pokemon Go from a neighborhood standpoint is this: kids milling around in a neighborhood that has a lot of petty street crime already makes it hard to distinguish between suspicious activity and just kids playing a game. The sheriff’s department sent out a neighborhood watch coordinator email about it, and so I shared in our Facebook group some tips for parents (tell your kids to be respectful, don’t touch people’s cars or property, observe city curfews, etc.).

Nope! The moms of Facebook weren’t having that one! How dare you tell us what to do with our kids! How dare you suggest an innocent Pokemon game could have unintended consequences in our neighborhood!!! You said don’t act like PUNKS in the comments?! PUNKS!? YOU are not doing enough to control crime in our community as is! I’ll have you know there are military families in this community, how dare you refer to them as PUNKS (wait…what?!). I saw it escalating quickly, as with PeeGate, so I shut it down before it could go any further.

Then tonight – I don’t know, three days later – not another word was said online or in public about it for days, and someone bring it up again by posting a comment on a two week old security video someone shared of their bike being stolen (think about this timeline for a minute, it’s as if this guy was just looking for days for a way to bitch about my Pokemon Go safety tips)…

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OH MY GOD – SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Within minutes one of the moms of Facebook had “liked” it. BECAUSE I posted some tips to stay safe, not get in trouble, and observe the law.

And that…that was the final straw for me. I always knew it would be over something really stupid, but fuck it. I do not get anything out of organizing this group of lazy complainers.

I’ll keep organizing them – for now. But just like with my local center for the arts, I ain’t taken the bullshit anymore. Don’t like it? ORGANIZE IT YOURSELF.

 

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Here is the bottom line that I’ve learned in all of this: people who do nothing are always the most critical. They sit on their lazy fucking asses and just bitch at the people that do everything. They refuse to call the police when a robber is breaking down their door. They do nothing to organize their own street, or to keep things under control or to even know their neighbor’s names. They see their local center for the arts struggling financially and they can’t even drop a dollar in the donation box.

Volunteer organizations seem to always end up this way: with a small number of people doing everything, in the most thankless and unappreciated positions ever.

And I get it now: this is why so many people don’t ever volunteer for anything. They don’t get involved because it ain’t worth the bullshit. Just think for a moment how great this world would be – how many problems would be solved, crime would be avoided, and lives even were saved, if only people felt like volunteering their time to the greater good was ANYTHING but a fruitless endeavor. It kind of makes you feel nauseated to your absolute core to think of it that way.

If only all the bitchy, whiny complainers of the world would sit down and shut up so the people that actually want to do good can do it.

Well I’m retreating, like I said. I’ll still volunteer, but I’m not getting tied up in all the drama and bullshit anymore. If anything, I’ll just write about it on this blog.

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Life Goals Achieved This Week

I actually don’t have that many life goals.

I used to, but I either 1) achieved them already, or 2) gave up on them.

The big one I gave up on was graduate school and becoming a college professor. At one time, it was my only goal; now it’s something I have absolutely zero interest in doing. Every once in a while my mother suggests I go back to school, or asks when I am going back to school. I always respond by blankly staring at her, because really how many times do I have to explain this?

Really I think my absence of life goals at this point in my life has to do with that fortune cookie I got years ago that read: those who expect nothing never find themselves disappointed.

As pathetic as that fortune cookie is, it’s so truthful it stings.

So I don’t have many goals anymore. More I have things I would like to do, because they’d be fun or whatever. But if I don’t end up doing them before my untimely demise (because whenever I kick it, it’ll surely be untimely) – oh well.

Life is too short, and I have too much to value in my life now, to be constantly chasing dreams.

(I realize that this philosophy spits in the face of every pithy inspirational quote you have ever seen.)

This week has been pretty strange, though. I’ve done a lot of things – verifiably dumb things – that were they listed among my life’s goals and dreams, I would have a considerable number of check marks added to that list.

I finally offended someone over the matter of pizza.

I say some really shitty things about pizza in California to people. I mean that I am pretty surprised that I haven’t offended anyone up to this point over the matter of pizza – really, I am surprised.

When my in-laws and I tried a new pizza place in town last year, I told them I would rather lick the inside of my husband’s ear than eat there again.

I have brought my own homemade pizzas to a pizza party where the pizza was already provided because local pizzerias make me queasy.

I’m a jerk, and over a really stupid issue. I know.

But really…is pizza a stupid issue? If you’re from Chicagoland area, like I am, no. No, pizza is not a stupid issue, and never a laughing matter.

So my mother came over for dinner the night before Mother’s Day, for an early celebration. She asked what our plans were the following day, and my kids told her that among our other things, we had special ordered some pizzas from Giordano’s – one of our favorite pizzerias in Chicago, that just happens to ship frozen pies around the country.

Then the kids told her how expensive they were and my mother’s response (and tone) showed how clearly offended she was over the matter:

“Oh, well …I had a slice of pizza the other day for $5 but I guess that isn’t good enough for people who have $60 to drop on frozen food.”

Life goal to offend someone over the matter of pizza? Achieved.

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My Boob Fell Out of My Tank Top At Staples

My body has been pretty weird lately. Awkward, maybe is the right way to put it.

And as a result of this awkwardness, I’ve been especially attached to my yoga pants, hoodies, and bra tank tops lately.

So there I was, picking up my copy and print order at my local Staples office supply store, and I dropped my keys on the floor. I bent down to pick them up and WHOOP – my boob plum fell out of my top.

The offending tank top was pretty small to begin with, and I honestly hadn’t been expecting to go anywhere that day. Fortunately, the guy ringing up my copy and print order didn’t notice as I quickly tucked myself back in while I stood back up.

Or at least he didn’t let on that he had seen anything.

Life goal to give up so much that body parts arbitrarily fall out of my slovenly clothing while out in public? Achieved.

I’ve Learned To Swallow Food Whole

I don’t know if I should be proud or horrified by this, but if I had a life goal to learn how to swallow my food whole – as in no chewing or silverware involved – well, then I have mastered this one. Oh, have I mastered it.

It started Monday night. My husband worked really late, and I was awake at about three o’clock in the morning after he texted me about how late he’d be getting home. Suddenly I realized that the reason I couldn’t get back to sleep was because I was starving – I mean I was so hungry I could have eaten anything… anything…

So I got up and grabbed a couple bananas, but was so tired I just wanted the eating process to be over with. Long story short, I unintentionally engaged in some pseudo-erotic, middle-of-the-night, whole banana consumption. My appetite was immediately satisfied and I was sawing logs within five minutes.

Then tonight it was time to make supper for myself and the kids, and we were all so hungry we could barely stand it. I went to make something quick (a box of some kind of quickie angel hair pasta dish), but it needed milk and we had run out earlier in the day. Feeling uninspired to cook anything but a throw-together box meal, we ended up desperately grabbing my purse and running out the door to go to In N Out.

By the time we got to In N Out, ordered our food, sat in the characteristically never-ending line, and got our food, my stomach was starting to feel queasy from having been so empty. So I took out my grilled cheese sandwich and scarfed it in about one, large bite.

Unlike the banana situation from Monday night, I was still hungry.

So the moral of the story is that were I to set life goals for myself at this particular stage, they would have to be pretty low brow. Don’t expect too much, or anything, because I clearly have little to give.

But it makes for a good story, right?

Peegate

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Peegate. If you are thinking that I’m talking about urine. Human waste. Pee. Pee pee. Wee wee. A scandal about wee wee of Watergate proportions.

You would be correct.

Today we had tennis lessons in the morning for the kids. After getting them there, my husband and I decided to run home and throw dinner in the oven. When we left home to go pick the kids up from tennis, my husband happened to notice something shocking happening outside our home.

A mother had pulled over, taken her kid out of the car, and was letting the kid (5 or 6 years old) pee all over the bushes and sidewalk. Private property bushes and public sidewalk. Where children play.

I, frankly, was at first shocked. In fact, I double-taked a few times. I mean really, who does something like this?

Then I considered my obligations. As the coordinator of my neighborhood watch group, and after hearing about incidences like this happening through out the community in the past, I figured it was time to mention it. So I posted in the community Facebook group, as well as the neighborhood watch group.

But before I could even have an opportunity to extend the posts to our other affiliated sites, the mommies started commenting.

They thought it OK. In fact, they thought that if a family is out for a stroll, they should be able to drop their drawers and pop a whiz wherever and whenever they want.

They defended the mom’s choice. In spite of the fact that less than two blocks away – a 1 minute drive – there are a host of stores with bathrooms available. And that less than one mile away – a 3 minute drive – there is a public park with public restrooms.

They still erred on the side of the mother.

One person even went so far as to say that if a child has the stomach flu – the norovirus – that they should be able to pull over and have the child take a shit in a person’s bushes and lawn. When I went to highlight the fact that this would actually be a public health emergency, that commenter seemed to recognize the absurdity of this statement, and deleted her comment.

Just…let that…sink in a moment…

And then the personal attacks started. People told me I should stop nagging. They told me I should relinquish my neighborhood watch coordinator duties to someone else. They said I needed to “get a life” and one person emailed me and told me to go to hell.

It all got out of hand, and all over a little wee wee.

The bottom line of the situation is this: public urination, even of a minor child, is illegal. If a police officer had seen that, the mother could have been fined, or worse – if she became belligerent – arrested. Moreover, urinating on someone else’s lawn is a no brainer: there is never a scenario in which that is OK. This isn’t like the fucking sticks either. We live in the suburbs. A townhouse community in which houses are stacked atop each other. You whiz on someone’s bushes, you whiz on their patio, neighboring plants, and side walk too. By posting about this, I was simply highlighting as neighborhood watch coordinator a safety and legality issue.

But even when I tried to quell the situation with a level-headed comment, things just continued to spiral out of control.

I recognized at that point the issue:

We live in an entitlement culture. An entitlement culture so hellbent on what they are owed that they seriously believe it is justifiable to excrete human waste on another person’s personal property.

If it sounds absurd to you, you are in the right. If you understand the reasons behind the law, you get the hygiene reasons behind it.

If you think it’s OK to let your kid piss in somebody’s yard, please move along.

The end result of Peegate is that there are a lot of changes that will need to be made to the way our neighborhood watch group shares issues in the community. That’s a positive, in my opinion – no matter how much drama it took to get there. We actually lost two block captains over the issue, to which I say: good riddance. We gained a new one in a key area, and she promises her street as been pee-free for ten years.

I want to know what you guys think. Do you think that there are some laws that were made to be broken? And if so, is Peegate one of them? Would you ever urinate in someone’s yard? Or is this the most uncouth, redneck thing you could ever imagine to come out of the the suburbs?

I’m thinking of making yard signs that people can post saying things like “Peegate: it’s cool to make a wee wee if you need need.” Or, for the flip side: “This lawn accepts strange dumps.”

Sounds absurd, right?

I Did One DIY Project For Easter. One. Not Twelve. Not Twenty. Just One.

And even then, it nearly killed me.

I don’t mean that it was dangerous or wracked with mishap that could have severed my head or anything. I mean I hated doing it so much, I could have died.

I literally could have died. Literally. Not figuratively, like a spiritual death. I mean laid down on the floor and just stopped breathing – that is how over DIY projects I am these days.

(I did burn my finger on my glue gun, so maybe it was a little dangerous too.)

I think I’ve really evolved over time. First I hated Pinterest and all this perfect Mommy -DIYs everything crap. Then I felt guilt for that, or guilt for something, and went all Pinterest Mom crazy. Like everything was over the top DIY and perfect with all its perfection. Now I’m back to hating it, but mostly because I’m lazy and just over doing things.

Like any things.

So my devolving to this slovenly lard ass who would rather just buy something online than have to actually go and burn my fingers off with my glue gun again…it has been a slow one. It’s gone piece by piece, so that no one will ever notice that I went from DIYing everything to DIYing nothing. My theory is that the change will have been so slow that it will be hard to even remember that this wasn’t the way things were all along.

This Easter, I am officially down to the end game. The goal of DIYing absolutely nothing is within reach. In this – the final phase – I did but one DIY project.

And if I was going to be totally honest about it, I’d admit that the only reason I did it was to save money.

We gift all of the kids in my husband’s side of the family every major holiday. That’s Christmas and mini-Christmas, aka Easter. (Just kidding, we don’t consider it to be mini-Christmas, although I do find that a lot of people have turned it into that…)

Now at eight kids besides our own, this is starting to add up. And especially with holidays like Easter, it’s always the wrapping that makes the expense out of control. The baskets, the extra large eggs…whatever I wrap the Easter goods in for these kids, it always ends up being a hefty chunk of the overall cost.

So I made my own bags this year. Out of burlap. Burlap and buttons and some leftover chalkboard tags I had from something else.

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I hated every minute of it too, so I hope those kids realize how much effort went in to even convincing myself to make the bags to save the money. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I could give the gifts in CVS and Trader Joes bags – those kids would probably never notice.

This raised a bigger issue, though, in my mind: how has it come to this? How has it come to the point where I hate doing DIY projects so badly that I would prefer to lay down and cease to exist? What happened to that Heather that just a few years ago would hand-paint the wrapping paper, and cut party cheese into shapes that went along with the party theme?

It’s possible that I burned myself out, as I do in so many other areas of life. But it’s also, and more likely to be the case, just a sign of this new era of parenting I am in – the my kids don’t want shit to do with me anymore phase. The themed parties aren’t really what they do anymore, now it’s all cellphones and God mom why do you have to embarrass us. So I may as well just stop caring about some of this dumb DIY stuff that doesn’t do anything but cost me frustration and heartache, and – apparently – embarrass them.

(Newsflash: everything embarrasses them.)

There’s also the distinct possibility that I am just on a Pinterest hiatus. That it’s only a matter of time before I am back in the saddle and DIYing everything to the point that other mothers hate me for all that I do.

I’ve written about this many times before, and I am most certain that I will write about it again. But just one DIY project this Easter. Not twelve. Not twenty. Not even two…just…one… I can’t help but think that is a sign of a much different and terrifying time to come.

For if I am no longer a Pinterest Mom, well then what kind of a mom have I become?

My Name Is Heather, and I’m Addicted To My Dog

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My dog and I have a disturbing relationship.

We have best friends necklaces. Like real…best…friends…necklaces. Her half is on her collar. Mine is on a chain I wear around my neck. Both have the “in case I’ve been found” number on the back.

I routinely and out of nowhere break out into serenades to my dog. None of them really make much sense, but they’re often to the melody of either Moon River or Lady In Red.

When my dog climbs onto my lap, the first thing I always do is put my face in front of hers and ask “can you make sure my nose is wet?” Because you know, I sort of think I’m of the canine variety too. Well at least I started thinking that when we adopted our dog (two years ago).

For Christmas I gave my dog a heated pad to lay on and an expensive fountain. For her birthday (February 1st) I got her no less than seven toys. And I wrapped them. In a gift bag. Covered in dogs.

Then I apologized to her for making a mockery of her kind out of gift wrap.

For Valentine’s Day, my dog got me a card and a new paper towel holder. The card said she woofed me. I spent the next three days shouting “YOU ARE MY VALENTINE” every time she came into the room.

I’ve written about my dog on this very blog at least three times. I’ve never painted or drawn my dog, but that’s just because I see these drawings and paintings all the time of dogs in pajamas and I’m afraid mine would turn out like that.

That being said, I have photographed my dog 283 times. This year.

When I get a glass of water for myself, I share it with my dog. Actually, we’ve gotten to the point where she just leans over and helps herself without even having been offered any. Same goes for my food. The other day I was about to eat some cheese and crackers. I got up to get a glass of water for us to share. When I came back she had eaten exactly her half of the cheese and crackers off the plate. Exactly. No more, no less. I mean it was originally just for me, but she and I both knew I’d be sharing in the end.

My husband and children are absolutely disgusted by my relationship with my dog. Like grossed out. Like “GOOD GOD WHY NOT JUST RUN AWAY WITH HER” horrified with our love.

So I have two kids: 12, and 8. My husband and I don’t go out on date nights, but were we to we wouldn’t be missed by the children. And to be fair, we probably wouldn’t miss them much either. But the reason why we don’t go on date nights is because when we leave the house I whine about how much I miss the dog within five minutes.

I have Skyped her while out.

I could go on, but I think you guys get the point. I’m addicted to my dog. Obsessed with her to a level that is probably unhealthy.

But you know they keep saying in the news that such and such a study says dogs are good for people, and prolongs the owners’ lives and shit, so I’m sticking with that as enabling my addiction.

I think it all boils down to the simple fact that my dog tolerates me. She doesn’t talk back. She likes to cuddle and watch Netflix, rather than do things like chores and run endless errands to Home Depot. When I get home she’s happy to see me, which I can’t say the same for the rest of these people. And she accepts me for who I am, or at least I think she does.

It probably would have been more appropriate to just refer to this as my dog update, because the crux of all my other posts about my sweet Amelia have been along the same vein. She is a drug I cannot kick. A drug of wet noses, sloppy kisses, long days of napping and playing with a ball. I figure that as long as I allow myself to be addicted and officially obsessed with her, I can live the fanciful life of a dog too. Because really, who doesn’t accept that a dog’s life is the best of all possible lives?

 

 

I’m Having An Art Exhibit, and You Should Come

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Four years ago, I wrote a blog post about starting to paint again. It was really crazy, actually. I hadn’t painted or drawn or done anything artsy or craftsy in years.

I mean I wasn’t even a Pinterest mom at that point. Blasphemy, I know.

I literally wanted nothing to do with art, and the reason being was that I couldn’t handle the fact that I had given up art and drawing and painting and creating years prior to then when I changed my major in college to something more “realistic.” Only to do nothing with any of it.

A lot of psychological shit going on here.

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So I wrote a blog about it, and I started painting again. And drawing. Then I got involved in my local center for the arts. And joined the board of said center. Somewhere in there I decided to start teaching some classes in drawing and painting. And so when they said at the beginning of this year that they had a vacancy on their calendar, I figured – why not… why not do my own show?

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But I dragged along with my show so much more about who I am. As a reader and a writer. As a philosophy graduate student. As a lover of words. As obsessed with crafts.

The whole thing has turned into this unbelievable event. The show exhibits for the entire month of March, but the opening is this Saturday, March 5th. And because I love crafts but have little patience for them anymore, I invited other vendors to come and sell at my opening.

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Now it’s been in the paper and the local magazine and the city council has picked it up and some professor who loves my idea about sharing the books I love through my artwork is offering extra credit to his students to come and the vendors are selling shit I know I’m going to buy out myself (quilts, scarves, bags, homemade jams, jewelry……) and I’m freaking out because what if no one comes but what if there are so many people that we have to form a line or some shit, I don’t know I’ve never done this before…..

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You guys see I’m freaking out. As a writer and an artist, for all of this to be coming together, is huge.

This is my one and only plea…if you are in or around Southern California, you should consider coming. I would feel humbled if you came. I would highlight you coming on this blog if you came.

Please come.

Please.

Please……?

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