doctor who

women's clothing sizes are the new stars of "whose line it is anyway?"

Do you remember how Drew Carey used to open Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Which is one of the funniest shows of all time.) "The show where everything's made up and the points don't matter."  This is precisely how I feel about women's clothing sizes. Everything's made up and the numbers don't matter.

I have two new articles of clothing this week. One is an XS and one is an XL. What is that? I'm just one me. I was having a micro-tantrum on the way home from the mall because there's nothing more frustrating than putting on clothing items that don't fit AT ALL and feeling like a overstuffed sausage with a muffin top or like a kid wearing daddy's suit to fourth grade career day. (Mixed Metaphor Alert)

I actually complained to my husband that if something I wear on the outside (a shirt) is an XS, and something I wear on the inside (foundation garment) is an XL, I'm pretty sure that makes me the TARDIS -- bigger on the inside. 

My question to the clothing manufacturers is, "Why can there not be some consistency?" I don't care if I'm a small, a large, or a quad XL. I really, honestly, truly do not. But I don't want to have to put on NINE SIZES of your item to find the right one. All that does is leave stores full of clothing hung the wrong way on the hanger and with someone else's gross deodorant stripes on anything dark.

These are the tags from some of the most frequently worn items in my wardrobe. I didn't go through my closet and try to find extreme sizes from my before-kids-flat-stomach days or from my just-had-a-baby-but-trying-to-not-wear-maternity-clothes days. Seriously, these are all from items I wear regularly right now. Are these people kidding me? My 'favorite' discovery was noticing that there are a few single brands that I have a huge size range in. This is insanely unacceptable. 

Am I an extra-small, small, medium, large, or XL? Am I a 2, 4, 6, 8, 10? Who's to say? Obviously not the people who make clothing! They have no idea.

What if Toyota was like, "The new Camry will suit your family perfectly! It has between 3 and 7 seats, depending on the color." What if General Mills was like, "We sell cereal in boxes ranging between 12 and 79 ounces, but they will all be labelled as containing 4 metric tons." Would we all be like, "That's fine, I'll just hold it up against me and stretch it a little side-to-side until I find one that seems like it would work?"

WHAT ARE THESE MANUFACTURERS TRYING TO DO TO ME? Y'ALL GONNA MAKE ME LOSE MY MIND.

Men's clothing at least pretends to tell you the truth. Their sizes are at least based on the pretense of inches. Obviously, there's gonna be some variation because some of you carry more booty than others, so certain styles are going to be more flattering than others. But at least you know where to begin! I find a shirt I like and usually grab three to start for my FIRST run to the fitting room.  

#amiright

Look, clothing shopping is wildly infuriating anyway. This color washes me out. This fabric is itchy. This shirt is too short. This sweater is frumpy. These pants pinch the backs of my knees when I squat. These leggings are see-through. This tag is like a small cactus. These straps are too skinny. Why are they selling a shirt that says MILF on the front in the Juniors Department?!? OR AT ALL?? 

Do we really need one more thing about shopping to be frustrating?

I do want to be sure I am abundantly clear here that I'm not complaining that the number of letter on an item of clothing is saying I'm bigger or smaller than I want to be. I could be a size 0, a size 40, or a new size they've affectionately named 'lumpy panda but with a nice personality' as long as it was the same everywhere I shop.



             

the day the princess died

Orphan. Adoptee. Refugee. Rebel. Mother. Survivor of genocide. General.

Leia isn't awesome because she loves Han or because (**spoiler**) she's Luke's twin or because she's the mother of Kylo Ren or because of her famous hair or because she rocks a metal bikini and kills Jabba. 

Leia's awesome because Star Wars changed everything about science fiction and movie-making and the way women are heroes, too.  Ah, George Lucas.  Without Leia, would we even have Starbuck and Six, Sara Conner, Aeryn Sun, River Song, Zoe Washburne and River Tam, Janeway, Ellen freaking Ripley, I mean even Katniss?  

I listened to Don McLean singing American Pie twice on Tuesday because it was, in a weird way, the Day the Music Died.  We love Princess Leia.  Personally, I LOVED the CGI that brought back Peter Cushing as Tarkin and gave us young Leia at the end of Rogue One.  But it's all the more heartbreaking that she's gone right after we heard her promise Hope.  

And now her mother, Debbie Reynolds, too, which takes me back another stage of life, LOUDLY singing while spinning around light posts. (Hopefully when it was raining because otherwise I looked weird carrying that umbrella.)  

It's nice when famous people use their fame to care about things that matter in the long-term instead of jumping onto whatever trendy political bandwagon is available.  Bipolar is not an easy battle, and fighting against the stigma and shame of mental health could easily be considered her greatest accomplishment.  

Goodbye, Carrie Fisher. Thank you.

 

 

Note: Edited because Jeff Caddick is a genius and pointed out that Uhura came first. Nyota Uhura is also amazing but pre-dates Leia.  I had given credit in the wrong order.



             

what a time to be alive

Here's my son, watching the fire on the TV.  2016 is nearing its end, and what a time to be alive.   I turned on a fire for my kid to watch.  

There are so many good things about being alive right now.  (I'm all into thinking about time travel again now that Doctor Who Season 9 is free on Amazon Prime.)  Don't get me wrong; I'm not naive.  I know there are horrible things happening everywhere, near and far. But I'm focusing on cool things today. Things like a fire on my TV.

Cheese puffs.  According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, these have been around since the 1930s. But I'm telling you... these are gold. Delicious gold.  My faves: Jax (orange) and Pirate Booty (white).

Pre-lit Christmas tree that looks nice.  And accompanying smelly things.  We had spiders in our Christmas tree one year. Also, I got violently ill three years in a row at Christmas tree farms, each time with disastrously embarrassing results.  We now have a lovely artificial (pre-lit) tree, and more time to decorate since we aren't arguing about why the lights are tangled.  Also, I can still smell the Christmas spirit thanks to pine-things-in-a-tube.

Closely related: Christmas lights that stay lit when one is out.  Glorious magical miracle of science!

Easy-to-repair screen systems.  This may seem weird if you aren't married to my husband, but our screen porch seemed doomed to be in a state of constant disarray due to our kids and dog and other people's kids and dogs.  This drove him bonkers.  But we installed a great system from Home Depot where the screen can pull out (MOM!!!) and get tucked right back in (PHEW!!) without him flipping out. Beautiful.

Amazon Prime. Previously mentioned, but that two-day shipping? Yes. Yes. Yes. Also, scheduled deliveries of things I use and need.  

Smart phones. I'm never lost. I'm never bored.  I try not to be the too-attached crazy person who never looks up from the screen (although sometimes I am).  But there, in my purse, is a device capable of accessing the sum total of mankind's knowledge.  And that's important because sometimes you really need to know if that guy on the episode of Blue Bloods was also in an episode of Scrubs.

DVD players in minivans. I'm a mom, sorry. "Time to go, and if you come without crying, we'll watch a movie on the way home."  This is pure magic. 



             

kelley rose, kelley rows

Two friends of mine were discussing my favorite exercise, and one commented, "Kelley rows." The other, having heard my name, Kelley Rose, asked, "What about her?"

[Crickets.]

I feel like I need to work on the delivery of that.  Maybe it's better verbally.  I also think perhaps it needs a little drum roll afterwards. Bah-duh-TSS. Yes, much better.

I like rowing.  Indoor rowing on the C2 rowers at the Y.  I started rowing at the Lancaster Family YMCA (a place I and my children love) about five years ago.  I've been hooked ever since.  Fun fact: one time, I competed at Lanco Field House in a rowing competition and I placed first (among the ladies) and won $100 and a t-shirt.  Does that make me a professional?  I think so, yes.  Their rowers are in-cred-i-ble.  Real water tanks.  (I think it was these.)

Indoor rowing works the entire body, and personally, does a wonder for my back.  I had back surgery for scoliosis as a kid, so I'm prone to backaches.  Rowing strengthens my muscles back there and somehow holds everything in place better.  It also works the legs, arms, and core (which I guess includes the aforementioned back muscles).

I rowed as long as I could when I was pregnant.  Somewhere around 25 weeks, it became too uncomfortable to hunch over.  Funny story, though, just when I was nearing the point where my Cam-Bam belly was too large, a new trainer started at the Y.  He watched me rowing from behind, I guess, then came up to give some helpful advice that I was arching my back and not leaning far enough forward.  #awkward when I sat up.

Strangely enough, that didn't cure him from offering unsolicited advice to me, because he's offered "assistance" at least two times since then.  I need to work on my blank stare.  Although, he's not alone.  Too many men at the gym try to talk to women and offer their "help."  I should wear a shirt that says "go away" because apparently my headphones, lack of eye contact, and Doctor Who tanks aren't enough of a signal that I'm not there to socialize.

My addiction to rowing made its way into The Senator's Youngest Daughter, although my protagonist Brenna is lucky enough to be able to row for real... like on water, not in a gym.  At least for a while (**spoilers**, said like River Song).

Working out for me, and for Brenna as a matter of fact, is about more than looking good or feeling good, or societal pressure or anything else.  It's about being ready to do the best you can do at whatever is asked of you. For Brenna, that might mean hand-to-hand combat.

For me, that means taking off at a moment's notice to grab a small child on a runaway bike, chasing down a slightly wild puppy, lifting two children at once because "mah legs aw tired," or helping my husband carry large and heavy items around our house because the urge to clean or organize has struck him.  So following the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Rowing works for me!

 



             

Sounds in Silence

I wish John Williams would craft a soundtrack to my entire novel... something to accompany the appropriate moods through the story.  Related to that, one of the challenges of writing a novel is using sounds as part of the story.  

For example, in real life, if you hear glass break, you just hear it. Crack.  You don't take eight words to think, Now I'm hearing the sound of breaking glass.  It's a challenge, I think, to startle readers with sounds.  

Additionally, sounds are so often part of the ambience of a scene, rather than the content, that drawing attention to them can be distracting.  It's a balancing act to set the audio scene without making your reader feel like they need to swat away bugs.

I've picked a few sentences about sounds from The Senator's Youngest Daughter to share with you today.  (I'm trying to avoid **spoilers** [River song's voice], so these might not be verbatim from the book.)  By the way, I break glass in my novel a lot, and only this exercise pointed it out to me!  I didn't include all of those references; you'd have needed a band-aid.

  • Cement makes a surprisingly high-pitched sound as it cracks, almost like glass. 

There are so many sounds in an explosion.  Imagine a movie's foley artist watching a scene and slowly layering the sounds of each object you see being affected by the bomb or impact: first the bomb, then the flying fruit cart, the gasoline igniting, the yells of the people in the marketplace, the ceramic jars toppling, the building collapsing, the windows cracking...  Novelists don't have that privilege.  In my scene, I needed to focus on just one thing Brenna heard so I could get back to the action.  Here, I tuned into the facade of the building.

  • Cows moo restlessly, the sound accentuated by the night’s stillness. 

This is a scene-setter.  It's relevant to the loneliness my protagonist is feeling at a time, so it was worth including.  The cows feeling "restless" isa little bit of her projecting her feelings onto them.  The stillness is a contrast to her deep desire to take action and be impulsive.

  • The thud is cushioned, but I still wince as the sound reverberates through the hollow elevator shaft.

I love the word thud.  It's onomatopoeia without being silly.  In this case, since the characters are trying to be sneaky, every sound is a threat.  This thud could be the difference between success and failure, life and death!

  • A sudden scraping sound catches our attention, and we all whirl around, pointing our weapons at whatever will emerge from behind a nearby dumpster. 

This time, the hunted is the hunter.  (Cliché alert!)  Rather than any sound giving my characters away, they are now on the prowl, tuned into every sound.  Bummer that it might turn out to be just garbage blowing in the wind... you know, either that or the bad guy!



             

political fiction is cool

Some people who know me have asked why I'd choose political fiction when I decided to write a novel.  First, I didn't sit down to write The Senator's Youngest Daughter.  The story, the setting, and the characters all evolved as I wrote.  When I write, I basically type up a movie I'm watching in my head.  There wasn't a great deal of planning, especially during this first novel-writing process.

The question surprised me, because it's a genre I often enjoy to read.  But apparently I'm in the minority.  Many of my female friends lean more towards romance, historical fiction, and YA books.  (I'm not ripping those genres; I have some favorites on those shelves, too.)  Apparently, I'm also in the minority among female authors.  Lots of women write crime, supernatural, thrillers... but it's much less common to find a female writing about politics.

I'm not going to digress into a feminist rant: "I wrote this because anything a man can do, I can do better."  Because that wasn't my reason.  I wrote about politics because it's something I'm passionate about.  I wrote about a future that I fear we're heading towards.  I wrote about conservatism and socialism and capitalism for the same reason I wrote about family.  They're on my mind a lot.

I did some research and while there are plenty of great names (authors I like!) in the genre (Dan, Christopher), there just aren't a lot of women.  Ayn Rand shows up, of course, but that's not exactly recent.  I did stumble upon an older great read, though, by Gayle Lynds called Masquerade that I can't not mention.  Aside from a rather dating moment where a dude on roller blades (roller blades!)  mugs someone, it's the real deal.  The worldwide scope is huge, and the legends say that she got rejected for publication over and over because it was so realistic the male publishers didn't believe a woman had written it. (Girl power. Boom.)

Political fiction, in this case, is a loose descriptor for my book.  There are a lot of words I'd use to describe it, and of course "political" is one of them.  I don't shy away from my political viewpoint, and many of you will disagree.  But the political fiction element of The Senator's Youngest Daughter is more the setting than the plot itself.  At its heart, this is a story of family more than a story of a revolution.

I am obliged here to bring up science fiction.  Sci-fi and politics usually only align in tabloids, but I think they occasionally get similar bad reps among women. 

I've known those who've made the suggestion that they think it's weird that I like sci-fi.  One went so far as to comment that she thought I was "smarter than that."

Whoa.  So, to clarify, a story can only be good if it's in one of your approved/comfortable settings?  No, no, no.

All genres have good stories and bad stories.  Good fantasy and bad fantasy, good horror and bad horror, good romance and bad romance (gaga ooh la la), good historical fiction and bad historical fiction.

So I'm not going to judge a story as good simply because the protagonists are fighting Nazis just like I won't judge it bad because they're fighting cylons or aliens.  I like stories of family survival, so I love Battlestar Gallactica and I wrote my book on the same topic.  (Family survival, not cylons and resurrection.) 

Brenna Jefferson in The Senator's Youngest Daughter happens to be fighting humans, but I don't really see a difference.  Either the story is good or it's not.  Setting, enemies... make them what you will.  If I love the character I will cheer for her to defeat/eat/cross-over/deactivate the appropriate warlord/prey/ghost/Terminator.

So, political fiction is cool.  And if you're a sci-fi fan, you'll know that bowties are also cool.  (Eleven says so.)