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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Oh Cozy Mysteries, Why do I Love Thee?

Because your characters seem REAL to me and have real flaws!

I hate reading picture perfect stories about picture perfect people. I'm not one of those people; most of us aren't. So why would I want to read about someone or something I can't relate to?

I guess that's why I've always had a hard time reading fantasy or science fiction. It makes no sense to me.

My cozy mysteries, however, are just that: cozy, mysteries, and involve real characters. Okay, maybe not real in the sense of why does murder and mayhem follow them around, but you know what I mean. They have relationship issues, body image issues, they all seem to own a cat or two (now who doesn't like that?), they love food, they all have a great best friend and a "potential". They also all seem to have a mom who's still in the picture and "with it" (something which I can TOTALLY relate to!). They fell into sleuthing by chance; they weren't looking for it. You couldn't call any one of them Nancy Drew. Dead bodies just started popping up in their paths!

They do, however, seem to live in eye-pleasing, idyllic towns. THAT may be a little unrealistic, but it makes for good reading and a great escape. It also makes living in small towns seem not so appealing. They, too, come with their share of problems (again, a bevy of dead bodies and murderers living double-lives among the fine citizens of the community).

I'm drawn to them for all these reasons and many more: colorful book covers, animals with sixth sense, handsome plumbers and contractors who just seem to hang around, and life-balance; all of the main characters seem to have plenty of hobbies to keep their lives relatively stress-free.

And they all are strong women to boot!

Check out the various cozy mystery writer blogs in my blog list and cozy mystery websites!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

California Dreamin'

My craving for California is worse than ever. Maybe it's from all the rain and cold weather we've had here in Portland for, oh, 2 years now? I don't know. Call me crazy!

All kidding aside, it's more than just the weather. I miss open spaces, rolling hills (not mountains), the ocean with it's TRUE surfer-infested beaches, driving down precarious highways that practically hang off of cliffs, and, yes, the sun. I miss the laid-back attitude, but at the same time, it's only minutes into the BIG city. I even miss the superficiality of tanned skin, bottle blondes and deep checkbooks. You have to had lived it to know what I mean. It's all a little gift, wrapped in pretty bow!

Sure, Portland and Oregon are beautiful, don't get me wrong. But for a girl who's used to sunshine, golden hills and smog, yes, even smog, it can be somewhat stifling for me here. I never feel like I can see the proverbial forest for the trees, literally. I'm always looking THROUGH something or OVER something to see what I really want to see....and by then there's usually a bank of clouds or a mountain in my way blocking my view.

And the beaches aren't the same here, either. I'm used to true seaside living, complete with restaurants, shopping, PERMANENT residences (not vacation abodes) and crowded beaches with sunbathers, surfers, and roamers. I'm used to driving to the beach to only be greeted with disappointment as there are no more parking spaces to be had. I miss ducking under and around surfboards and longing to be able to swim in the ocean and ride the waves. I miss the smell of suntan lotion permeating the air and bad suntan lines from falling asleep in the warm sand. You don't see sunbathers on an Oregon beach (and yes, I do use sunblock!); it's an oxy-moron.

I could go on and on, but I'll only make myself more homesick. I can't wait to get back there and hopefully someday soon!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ah, Memories....Yours or Mine??

Being on FB (yes, I'm back on that tirade) has it's ups and downs.......sometimes travelling back through time is good. It can be fun to reminisce. Other times it's not so good.

My memories of me seem to be different than that of others memories of me. Opinionated? I've never thought of MYSELF that way. Outgoing? I always considered myself rather shy. Is it all a distorted view of me? But through whose eyes?

It's sometimes hard enough to see oneself in old photos. Yes, I was THAT blonde at one time. Yes, my hair was THAT stylish back in the day. Yes, age is creeping in slowly around my eyes. But when someone describes you as they used to think you were, that's an entirely different story. You begin to retrace your steps and wonder what if....what if I WAS that person being described? That may account for this or that.

There's a point though where you have to let it go. All of our perceptions can be distorted through time. We remember things as we want to remember them...sometimes the bitter seem more bitter and sometimes the bliss seems more blissful. What we thought of as difficult at the time, seems like nothing now. It's all relative to everything and everyone around us. As we get older, we're able to let more and more of it go or use youth as an excuse for the absurd. The past is all about who we are today.

Acceptance. That's what I've learned. Right, wrong or indifferent.

Monday, May 7, 2012


It's Monday...sigh....but the beginning of a fresh, brand-new week! I plan to make the most of it.

I've started by simplifying....clearing the clutter out of my life, slowly by surely. I deleted a couple of books off my Kindle that I really don't need. I unsubscribed to feeds on FB, I deleted some pictures out of the photostream on my iPod Touch. Feels good!

It's like a little weight has been lifted. A few less things to distract me, more time to pay attention to things that REALLY matter. I feel like the world is slowly opening back up from under the burden of being bogged down by the unnecessary.

I want to be able to carry this mind-set through to other aspects of my life. I need to in order to survive and to keep my spirits up. I don't want to be distracted by things that don't really matter, yet still tend to upset me for no reason...but I guess there really is some reason or I invent one just for the sake of drama. Maybe it's my mind's way to giving it something to think about out of boredom or escape. I think I rather read a book instead!

Maybe on Monday's I will think of ONE thing to eliminate each week, whether it be the tangible (too many socks with holes that I have good intentions of mending but never do) or the untangible (bad feelings towards someone). Either way, it out out lighten the load!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Sundayist of Sundays

Today was a beautiful day! It's amazing how much weather affects ones moods.

It's been dreary for months in Portland.....seems as though we never really had a summer last year, skipped fall, went straight into winter, and barely seemed to have left although it's May.

Today, however, was an exception to that rule....sunny, warm, but not hot, and the perfect weather for strolling. And strolling my sidekick mom and I did. We ventured out on the open highway and headed a bit west. Okay, it was exactly out to the country, but instead to browse and window shop, but it was still getting out and going to the 'burbs. A wonderful way to end the weekend on a positive note, making Monday seem farther away and not so dreaded.

But, alas, Portlanders know that summer-like weather is fleeting. We must get out and enjoy it as soon as it gets here and as much as we can because before you know it, the clouds roll back in, the temperature dips, and once again it's sleepy weather again. We learn to take each day as it comes, never listening to the weather man, for he's usually wrong or in the least, incredibly "off" in his predictions. We are our best guides when it comes to the seasons...sticking your head out the door in the morning is usually the most "precise" method for determining what to wear.

I hope you got out and were able to enjoy some good weather and sun (don't forget your sunscreen) this weekend! Don't take it for granted and get out and inhale deeply!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Coffee talk...a lost art?

I want to love Facebook; I want to embrace it. But I can't fully commit to this relationship.

I have an account. I use it, I post to it, I even have to use it for work. Call me a cynic, but I'm still teetering on the Facebook fence.

While I want to keep up on everyone's some degree, there are parts of all of us I just don't care to know. It gives us all an air of mystery and I like that. I like catching up with someone I haven't spoken to in months. I think that's what drove me to write this blog today.

I hadn't spoken to my friend Rebecca in a couple of months. Crazy schedules, work, school, life got in the way.  While we both have Facebook pages, she rarely uses hers....and I realized I LIKE that. It made the phone call all the more special.

I have friends who don't use FB at all....and I like that, too. For one thing, having to pick up the phone or meet someone at Starbucks forces my introvert self to cross the line over the line into extrovertism  - is that a word? It is now! It makes it all more exciting: the thrill of the chase of hunting someone down whom I haven't seen a while. It makes all the little moments we share mean more and makes me listen harder. I can't scroll past a post; I have to look in their eyes over my latte while they confide the office drama or the details of a recent trip. It's all about sharing; it forces me out of my shell. I am beginning to think the art of spending time face-to-face with friends is lost; it's taken a wrong turn onto a one-way road of the information super-highway.

It just made human contact all the more real for me today.

I think FB is a GREAT tool; don't get me wrong. I follow many bloggers who have FB pages that their readers can follow and they post wonderful information out there. It's kept relevant to a common interest. I follow my favorite shops and get sneak peaks at new clothing lines and products. I can keep up with my favorite charities.

Am I crazy for not needing to read constant status updates or where someone has "checked in" throughout the day?

Then there's the hurt feelings. Admit it; if you've been on FB at all, you've experienced them. Someone who seems to be having more fun than we are or going to all the good restaurants. And what happens if you realized someone has changed their status settings to let only a few in to their daily lives? While I complain about not needing to know they just ate salad, I miss it when the posts stop popping up in my feed.

I've found old boyfriends there, their new wives, old friends, and memories from high school I don't care to remember. It's a mixed-bag of feelings. It's exhausting. I think of how much better off I'd be not knowing some of the things I do now. I would never have known them if it hadn't been for FB.

I try to stay away, but I can't. Am I a glutton for punishment? Probably. I'm not fully ready to give it up, though (I couldn't if I wanted to anyway because it's part of my 9-5 job), but I need to manipulate it more to suit MY needs. Right now it just seems to be feeding into insecurities.

Have YOU embraced social networking? How do you make it work for you?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Inspiration Friday - Yesterday

Yesterday is my inspiration for today and tomorrow!

I re-read yesterday's post and thought more about blogging last night. What blogs do *I* like to read? Which ones hold MY interest? I kind of determined what's best left for my private journal and what's best to post. Not an exact science, I am sure, but it gives me some boundaries and guidelines.

I'm a person who sometimes DOES work better "inside the box". I need the freedom to bounce off the walls of said-box, but I also need to be fenced in a bit. I guess it's MY version of "controlled chaos".

My goal is to focus more on the message for this blog than just using it as a creative writing forum for whatever suits my fancy at the moment. While I want there to be an element of freedom of self-expression, I also want it to contain appropriate-content...appropriate to MY message and purpose, that is.

Sure, once in a while I'll break my own bounds and run free with a thought...or two....okay, maybe three. But in general, I think having more of a "system" in mind will put my mind at ease and make this more enjoyable for me. I'm even trying to develop a blogging "calendar"...WITHIN my chosen "theme" I can run free, but the key word here is WITHIN.

Bear with me; it's a work-in-progress. *I'M* a work-in-progress!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Did I let myself down?

I feel horrible for not posting lately. My excuses are as follows:

I've been SWAMPED at work.
I've been focusing on my resume with the help of a friend.
I've been tired.

But I think those mask the REAL reason. I don't always know what to write! My life isn't that exciting, and I don't want to overstay my welcome with my rambling thoughts. I want there to be SOME substance to my posts and my blog, but there isn't always.

I guess that's part of being human though. It keeps it "real". It can't always be life in the fast lane.

I recently started following a new blog, "Delightfully Tacky" after I was so impressed with Elizabeth's post from a few days ago. She summed up how I feel; I was/am amazed at how dead-on she is and how I couldn't agree more. She said what I guess I wanted to say and didn't, but should have. It taught me that I will be honest going  forward and I am doing this as much for myself as anyone else. In fact, it really IS just for me.

I need to write. I want to right. It's something I HAVE to do and not SHOULD do. I have to remember audience or not, I need to let my thoughts flow out through my fingers, whether the medium be a keyboard or a pen. The practice is almost zen-like for me. It keeps some semblance in my life and keeps me organized. It settles my mind.

I also found this blog calendar that I am going to try to incorporate into my blogging style. I have to have focus and organization; I can't function without it.

So, wish me luck! I'm gonna try this blogging thing again and not put so much undue pressure on myself!