Thursday, April 28, 2011

Assessment Test For My Blog Readers: Can't Be Too Careful

My husband has been applying and interviewing for jobs lately and nearly all of the companies require an assessment test to move on to the final stages. These tests consist of math story problems and then a personality test. Apparently, it is very important for these companies to know if my husband would chose to be a florist or a miner or if he’d like to operate a miniature railroad—both questions were on the test and I believe he'd make an excellent miniature railroad operator. 
I thought since this is the “must” thing in the word of employment, I had better jump on board.
I’ve developed a comprehensive test for my blog readers. If it is important for employers, then it is important for me too. I want to know what kind of people y’all are. So for those of you who are good sports and answer my questions I will put your blog in my blog roll. Unless of course you fail miserably, then I will mock you on Twitter and Facebook without exceeding my 140 characters.
Here goes…
1)    Would you rather be Edward Cullen or Jacob (aka I gots some abs werewolf dude)?
a.    Edward
b.    Jacob
c.    I’d rather poke my eye out than be either (hint: this is the right answer)

2)    When you dress, do you put one sock, one shoe on OR both socks then your shoes?
a.    Sock, shoe, sock, shoe
b.    Socks then shoes
c.    Who wears socks, I don’t like to conform to society’s rules.

3)    When I read blogs, I skim through the content and just answer the question at the end.
a.    Never
b.    Some of the time
c.    All of the time

4)    If I were a punctuation mark, I would be a:
a.    Exclamation point
b.    A comma
c.    A question mark

5)    Do you daydream about humans on Mars?
      a.    Yes
b.    No
c.    I am from Mars

6)    If I were a popsicle I would:
a.    Be an all fruit natural type
b.    Be sugar free
c.    Be filled with vanilla ice cream

7)    Would you rather be an interior decorator or a truck driver?
a.    Interior decorator
b.    Truck driver
c.    I don’t like to be tied down to steady work

8)    When a new writer asks me to read their stuff, I:
a.    Volunteer right away
b.    Make up an excuse
c.    Do it reluctantly

9)    A book I would like to see made into a movie is:
a.    Amelia Bedielia Drives a Car
b.    Ender’s Game
c.    That one that starts at a funeral and ends up with the female MC marrying the town hot tamale.

10) If I walked across the road I would:
a.    Follow the chicken
b.    Look both ways
c.    Walk really fast

Thank you for all you brave blog readers for completing my comprehensive psychological test. I will have the results to you shortly and for all those who commented, make sure I have a link to your blog so I can pop you in my blog roll. I will be stopping by and I hope some of my other readers do too. (please make sure you are following me if you want me to advertise your blog)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's In The Cards

I miss the voices in my head.
I miss them, miss them, my name ain’t Fred.
I can’t find them in the car.
I can’t find them near or far.
I can’t find them in a box.
I can’t find them wearing socks.
Not in the car.
Not near or far.
Not in a box.
Not wearing socks.
Help me, help me can’t you see.
I miss the voices agreeing with me.

Okay . . . you get the point. I’m floundering without my voices. I have 15k left to push out, but can’t do anything until I hear my MC yammering on about crap I don’t want her to. But, I have a plan to woo her back. If I were a fella this might be the point where I pull out some Barry White, a dozen candles, and draw a bubbly bath, but this isn’t the real world, it is a writer’s world. I need to be more imaginative than that. I have to up the ante, increase the conflict, dot my I’s and cross my t’s.

How am I going to do that you ask? First of all, excellent question; I like how you think.

This may sound completely crazy, but I like me some crazy. I’m going to give my MC a tarot reading. Hold your snickers. I’m totally serious and a whole lot desperate. This is the first time in over two years when I can carry on a conversation with my husband without some imaginary creation of mine interrupting. That may be nice for my husband to have my full attention, but it is so strange without the distraction.

For those of you who don’t know what a Tarot reading is, I’ll give you a quick version. They are a set of cards used to predict the future and are 100% accurate. I’ve done it for years and have predicted the breakup of Jen and Brad Pitt, global warming, and the demise of the Flow-bee. Actually, they are more like an in depth horoscope that you can skew any which way you want to. The cards deal with love, work, money, relationships, etc—life.

When I told my pixie friend that I was going to do a reading for my MC, she paused--one of those long pauses. I had to do a "are you there?" prompt, which didn't surprise me. She may talk to complete strangers at the local Sam's Club, but she is afraid of Tarot cards and believes they are the work of the devil. Maybe she’s not that dramatic, but she doesn't want anything to do with them. I suppose a lot of people raise an eyebrow, but I’ve never had a reading that hasn’t uplifted my spirits or left me with a negative feeling. Besides, I'm desperate.

So here goes with my reading. I’m going to do a three-card spread. I usually use the Celtic Cross which is eleven cards, but for time and the fact that my “inquirer” is as imaginary as the flavor in low sodium Progresso soup, I’m doing the short version.
Before I reveal my cards. Here is a quick pitch for my w.i.p.

Chelsea Kelley has finally broken free from her controlling ex-husband and has landed a job with a prestigious law firm. The only trouble is the woman who drove her sister to commit suicide in high school is her boss, Victoria Loveland. 
Torn between defending her sister’s honor and a promising future, Chelsea struggles to do the right thing and keep her family and Victoria in the dark. But when Victoria comes up missing, no secret is safe from the police, who believe Chelsea is the prime suspect.  Not only that, her ex-husband sees this as an opportunity to take full custody of their son. With the help of Victoria’s partner in the firm, Ryan Montgomery, Chelsea’s in a race to prove her innocence and the safety of her son before her past catches up to her.
Card one: What worries you?  8 of swords             
Card two: What you should not forget? Knight of cups               
Card Three: How you can resolve the situation? Empress
What’s cool about this reading is it fits with my character. I thought the cards would blend into my own life or problems but they don’t.
The first card tells me that my character is confused, isolated, and although it is for her own protection, it is keeping her away from the objective or solution. All of this is exactly true. As you read in the pitch, she is on the run from trouble—in hiding, actually.
The Knight of Cups reveals an approach or an offer. I’m not a Tarot expert at all, but I can interpret this in a couple of ways. The villain in my book has been toying with my MC with Clue cards, trying to lure her into more trouble. Before I lost my voices, I had just written a scene where the MC made a move based on the last clue. A cup card usually involves romance too and my character is stuck between two dudes. Both of which she cares for but she isn’t sure whom to trust. In one of the last chapters, a secret was revealed about one of the dudes and his character put in question. Is he good or bad kinda thing?
The Empress is a card of strength. My MC has relied on others for most of her life, including her current situation. Then she made a bold move on her own and that’s where I left off.
So what does this all mean? Do I magically have my voices back? Unfortunately, they are as silent as before. But what I do gather from this is that I’m heading in the right direction. My character needs to be a big girl and take care of some business and remember things that happened before, be it clues or whatever, to help her figure out what’s going on. We’ll see what happens, and if all else fails I may try some Barry White.
How far are you willing to go to reclaim your writing? Would you, could you read some Tarot? Would you, could you kiss a Pharoah?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Photo Story 4: Do You Hear What I Hear?

It's been a while since I've done a photo challenge. I've been busy with life's fun stuff, so it's hard to get back into the swing of writing, of creating. For those who haven't read one of my photo stories before, what I do is take a photo from my super talented friend Cliff and give myself a time limit and write a story. I'm trying to spur on creativity and get my mind focused on writing. A friend of mine issued another challenge for me this week. She wanted me to try and write a middle grade piece. (groan) I write adult so this was definately not my thing, but who could resist a double dog dare--not this girl. Just remember this is an exercise and what comes out is what you get. It isn't polished nor is it plotted. It is rough and unedited. Thanks for looking. Where do you find your inspiration??

Wanna check out some more great photos? Sure you do. click here  

Hobie Tucker didn’t believe in happy endings. He’d read about them, even dreamed of his own happily ever after with Macy Sullivan, but he was far too practical to trust in wishes. Besides, who wanted a girl who smelled like cherries anyway?
Hobie slipped his sweater vest over his head and glanced in the mirror. It was an important day—a day that just might change everything. That is, if he doesn’t choke on his words or feel the sudden urge to run to the bathroom. His pesky bladder problem was the last thing he needed. Especially in front of Brock Teegarden, the meanest kid in the entire sixth grade.
A smile curled Hobie’s lips as he stared at his reflection. Today was it. Pride surged through him. No one would laugh at him again. He’d be the coolest of the cool. The big gulp on campus. He was sure to get an A for effort, creativity, and originality.
“Hobie,” his sister yelled, “you’re going to be late.”
He slipped his project into his backpack and bounded down the stairs to breakfast. His sister, Emily, slapped a couple pancakes onto a plate and slid them over to him.
“I’m going to be late tonight,” she said. “Do you think you can start dinner?”
Hobie shoveled an oversized bite into his mouth and nodded. “Ramen, it is.”
Emily sipped her coffee and forced a smile. She had something on her mind. Hobie had seen that look a million times before. He’d learned to ignore it; pretend her pensiveness meant anything but the truth.
“I’m going to see Dad today.”
Hobie demolished the last of his breakfast and carried his plate to the sink. He didn’t want to go there. Not today.
“Did you hear me, Hobes?”
“Yeah, I heard you. Tell the jailbird hola from me.”
“You could come with me, you know.”
“Not a chance.” Hobie pushed by his sister toward the door.
“You need to make peace with it.”
Hobie gripped the knob and paused. “I don’t need to do anything. He made the choice. Not me. He can wrinkle up and die in there for all I care.” And with that, he slammed the door behind him.
He vowed not to think about his father on the ride to school, but for some reason Mr. Summitt, the bus driver, hit every pothole on Montgomery Rd. With each bounce, a new thought jumped into his brain and tore away from his excitement of the day.
“Hey, Hobart!”
Hobie bit his cheek and reeled from the sound of Brock’s voice.
“It’s Hobie, lamebrain.”
“That’s just as bad, lo-ser.” Brock collapsed into the seat behind Hobie and thumped him on the back of his head with his finger.
Hobie whipped around. “Knock it off, Brock.”
“Or what”—Brock forced a pout—“will you go postal on me. Like your dad. Huh, loser?”
Hobie turned back around and stared out the window. He hated to admit it but Brock Teegarden pressed every button Hobie had. Fear, shame, anger. He hated Brock, but more than anything he hated himself for letting the creep get away with it.
“Well, lookey lookey. I found a cookie.” Brock reached into Hobie’s bag and pulled out a tall mason jar.
Hobie dove, but Brock held the jar out of reach. It wasn’t hard to do. Brock was the size of an eighth grader, while Hobie remained the shortest boy in class.
“Give it back to me, cretin.”
Brock held the jar up and stared inside. “What the hell is it?”
Hobie lunged forward, stretching his arms. “Araneus gemmoides.”
“It looks like a spider to me. A big scary looking spider.”
A ginger-haired girl squealed as she caught sight of the large cat-face spider. A menacing laced smile filled Brock’s face and he began taunting the girls around him with the jar. The louder they screamed the more aggressive Brock became until one of the girls pushed the jar out of his hands, slamming the clear glass container to the floor. The girls’ piercing screams sent the bus of middle schoolers into a panic as the spider scurried down the aisle.
Hobie tried to move, tried to rescue his project—his friend—but before he knew what happened. Brock Teegarden slammed his size ten Nikes over the spider, crushing him.
Groans replaced screams, followed by the sound of slapping hands and cheers. Heat lit though Hobie, his breathing increased, he balled his fist and took a swing at Brock who countered the move and splayed Hobie onto the floor—right next to the smooshed corpse of his pet spider.
“Shouldn’t you be riding the short bus, Hobart?”
“Leave him alone, Brock,” Macy Sullivan said. “You’re such a jerk.”
Brock straightened up. All the boys in school stood taller when Macy walked by, and when her honey voice filled the air it was hard to breathe. Even as Hobie lay flattened on the floor, he didn't move.
“Ah, come on Macy. I’m just having some fun with Hobie, here. Right man?”
Hobie stood up and cinched his backpack in one hand and marched to the front just as the bus came to a stop in front of the school.
“Looks like those hearing aids don’t work so good.” Brock laughed.
Hobie hurried off the bus and into the woods behind the school. No point in going to class anymore. His project was dead anyway. He stepped through the overgrowth and settled behind a fallen log. Tears spilled down his cheeks while his anger boiled over. He gripped the long grass around him and screamed. He hated who he was, hated that he was different. He slipped his fingers into his ears and pulled out one hearing aid, then the other. The sounds around him muffled; he collapsed onto the forest floor and sobbed.
“If I were you, boy, I wouldn’t waste my time blubbering.”
Hobie lifted his head and looked around. He heard a distinct voice. Clear and specific. He settled onto his haunches and searched the ground for his hearing aids.
“Such foolish ways of a foolish race.”
Hobie shot to his feet and spun around. “Who said that?”
“Can you hear me, boy?”
Contemplation gripped Hobie's brow. He couldn’t hear squat without his hearing aids, even with them he struggled with the clarity of sounds. “I can . . . I can hear you. But I can’t see you.”
“In the web. Look in the web.”
Hobie looked down at a brilliant web at the base of fallen log. He dropped to his knees and gazed at the most glorious spider he’d ever seen. The two regarded one another.
“You can talk?” Hobie asked, swallowing back the shock of the situation.
The spider dropped down onto Hobie’s knee from a glistening strand of silk. It scurried  onto his hand and Hobie lifted him to eye level. “You are a gangly boy,” the spider said.
Hobie smiled and for the first time, he believed he at last found his place in the world. Unless of course he woke up and it was all a dream. Either way, he wasn't alone--not anymore. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Mismatched Maven and the Can’t Do Kid

My daughter had a play date the other day with her best friend. She has several besties but this is her best friend from her second grade class and he’s a boy. (insert giggling) My daughter coaxed us to take him home from school one day after their class performance. I couldn’t resist their wide-eyed pleas, but wondered how this towheaded boy would fair in a sea of girl toys.

My four-year-old son was thrilled that another living breathing boy was coming over. He’s had enough girly play between my daughter and his future wife from across the street. (A girl my son’s age has announced to the world they will be married when they are bigger, much to my son’s disappointment)

So, my daughter came home and immediately changed the dress she wore for the school program. If you’ve read my blog The Mismatched Maven and the Grumpy Vampire before you’ll know that my daughter doesn’t care what clothes she puts on, if they match, or if they are too small. All she cares about is if they are “comfy” or not. Needless to say, she picked out a size 4T teal pair of warm-up pants that she can’t part with and a grass green soccer shirt from the previous season.

“Maybe Brandon would like to play the Wii,” I said, knowing the pink and purple in her room would zap his equilibrium outta whack.

“We don’t have a Wii. I’m not allowed to play video games,” he said.

“No video games?” My face stretched with wonder. I’ve heard about these kinds of kids. No TV or videogames, but in all my years as a mom, I’d never met one. I looked at him, really studied his face. He stared back at me like a monkey at the zoo, tilting his head just so. “Do you have cable?” I asked, fearing the answer.

“No, but I can watch PBS.”

“Oh, fun.” I managed to smile even though I’m sure I looked more gassy than anything. Now don’t get me wrong I like PBS, but that is one channel—ONE! My kids have a dozen kids’ channels and still manage to complain. How can this poor kid survive on Clifford, Arthur, and Sesame Street? I didn’t know what else to say so I went for a diversion. “Would you like a snack? There are some cookies in the pantry.”

“I’m only allowed to have fruit after school or carrots. No sugar.”
Carrots? Fruit? What kind of kid was this? My mind swam with thoughts of inadequacy. I bet his mother was one of those responsible parents who tote around sanitizer in her purse and whip it out in the McDonald’s playplace—if they even go to McDonald’s. You know the types, maybe you're one of them. The primped and primed moms squirt a glob of sanitizer in their children's palm before and after they play. The kids get nuggets and apples with milk or juice—no soda or fries. Meanwhile, I’m watching these moms prep their kids for the dangers of the mighty G-E-R-M while I pop a couple of fries in my mouth and sip my ultra mega Diet Soda. I rationalize that my kids are just building their immune system so why bother with the stinky sanitizer. Or that’s just a great rationalization from a lackluster and tired mom.

Anyway, back to the playdate. . . I tossed the kids an apple each and sent them up to my son’s room to play with his trains and cars. I listened to the kids chatting about school as I  folded socks. Now, this part about the socks won’t seem strange to anyone who doesn’t know me—a simple task of a stay at home mom. For those who know me—Hi, Ma—you’ll raise a brow at the idea of me actually sorting and balling up socks. But that Can’t Do Kid rattled me. I bet his mom bundles his socks and she probably even folds underwear (A task I never understood).  

All in all, the play date went well, he's a good kid and my daughter seems to like him. She wants the Can’t Do Kid to come back this week, but it seems like a lot of pressure just for a play date. I could send my daughter over to his house, but then I’m wondering what information she’d yammer on about to his mom. Would she reveal the secret ingredient in Mama’s special drink? Or that I haven't mastered the art of baked goods. I can’t be too sure. Maybe we'll wait until her dad can be in charge...

Friday, April 8, 2011

It’s Fate . . . Or Maybe Not

So my husband’s out of work and that has both of us scrambling to get a job. I am a stay at home mom with a degree in social work (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking with that one). As soon as he lost his job, I started training as a waitress at a popular steakhouse. I’ve waited tables on and off in my life to get by or pay my way through school, so I knew it was something I could do. It isn’t great money but it is better than minimum wage and until something better comes along, it’s all we have.
I applied to a job recently—a social work job—that I knew was a long shot. The wage was exactly what I had made when we packed up and moved to Utah ten years ago. Although my experience had thick layers of dust on it, I went for it anyway. I couldn’t believe it when they called to set up an interview.
Not only was my experience old, but my interviewing skills needed some work. I left the panel style interview knowing I blew it. Bummer. Then I got a letter. I nearly fell over when I read that I was number two out of the top five candidates. I smiled and felt all tingly believing they would just pick number one and call ‘er good.
Then, I got a call—call for a second interview. I tanked the first interview, or so I thought, and now I had a second chance. Scary and exciting thought. Fate was coming to my rescue.
When I walked into the building, my stomach rolled with excitement. I wanted this job. I sat down on a chair as a secretary handed me a clipboard with a test. I smiled, all the while grumbling at the prospect of a test. I looked over the papers and realized it was a test to see how observant I was. They wanted me to edit a letter for punctuation, typos, grammar—the whole works. Oh mama, could this be another sign? I had just sent an email to a writing buddy of mine whining about wasting the last two years on a dream when I should’ve finished my education or worked. I kicked myself for pursuing a pipe dream of being a published author. Then all of a sudden, I’m being tested on my love of words. Woot, woot.
It didn’t end there. The first question the panel of three asked was how comfortable I am writing. I smiled big and said, “I’ve won a couple awards for my writing, actually.”
After that, I proceeded to nail this interview. My excitement went crazy on the way home. I called my best friend who couldn’t get over the signs, over fates ever-present arm on my shoulder.
“You got this,” she said.
I wanted to believe her, but I still lacked two major components to the job: fundraising experience and grant writing. I tried to assure them I was a self-starter and proactive in learning what needed to be done, but would it be enough?
Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t. They struggled making their decision. She told me I interviewed really well but it came down to experience, down to grant writing. Crap! But at least I made it that far, right? *groans*
I’m trying to stay positive. At least I still have a job serving. That will add to my husband’s unemployment (when we get it) and I can keep looking. But fate had me right where she wanted me for a brief moment. I want to believe that things happen for a reason, that when we’re not paying attention fate steps in and pushes us in another direction—fate had other plans type of stuff. We see this a lot in fiction. So much so that even mentioning fate on a query letter could send you a big “R.”
I’m not sure what I believe. I’d like to believe that good things happen to those who deserve it, but my husband lost his job after being a good person. So fate and I don’t see eye to eye right now. But if she wants to throw us a bone and lead us in the right direction, I’ll listen.
Has fate ever stepped in and shown you the right way? Or are you writing a story where fate takes hold and sends your characters scrambling?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nobody's Perfect?

There are several things in life that I half ass. I hate to admit it, but it’s the truth. I’m okay with half ass when it comes to things that really don’t mean anything in the grand plan. I don’t mop my floor every week. I sweep everyday and vacuum my carpets at least every other day. I pick up my kids toys, but I don’t stress if I have random craziness strewn through my house. Random craziness makes life a bit more interesting, I say.
I’m not lazy; I just don’t see the point in sweating over things that mean nothing to who I am. In ten years or more, my kids won’t thank me for having a clean house. Nope. They will thank me for all the times I had them clean and fetch me things. My daughter currently has the record for the fastest beer relay. Okay, not really. I know when they are older, they will appreciate the times I read to them or played one of our silly games rather than worried about how clean the house was. At least I hope so cause that’s the plan I’m rolling with.
It’d be much easier on me if I were this way with other things in my life. When it comes to work, my writing, or anything involving a brain, I am competitive and want to succeed. I push myself harder than I should to be perfect—to not make mistakes. I understand that mistakes help us learn to do and be better, but I’d rather just avoid that all together and hit the bull’s eye first shot. Stupid. I know. You ain’t telling me nothing I didn’t already know. So why do I still do it? I dunno.
When it comes to writing, I don’t usually plan or outline. I guess I liken that to mopping the floor or something. It doesn’t seem as important to me because I like the journey with the voices in my head, without knowing where they’re going. I read and reread my chapter constantly as I write it, perfecting sentences and adding more or taking away as I go. I have one critique group member who reads as I write, so I want to make sure it doesn’t come off like a rough draft—I want it perfect.
Anyone who writes and has been at this game for a while knows how foolish that is. The best writing is in the rewriting phase, you say. I totally agree with that, but the closer I am to being perfect makes the rewriting much easier, right? Right?
Anne Lamott in Bird By Bird says:
“Perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force. Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground—you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”
I did NaNoWriMo for the first time this past November. I was skeptical at first, even a little whiny if you ask my writing pals. But I kept going, cringing as I finished each word because I knew it was so unpolished. I had clutter, but I couldn’t delete it. Each and every word added to my goal. I wasn’t gettin’ rid of any of them. I clung onto those words like my son and his last fruit snack.
When I hit my 50k goal, I nearly peed my pants on my unmopped floor. I did it. I wrote without editing endlessly before moving on. That is a huge accomplishment. I deserve a prize—brownies maybe.
I’m trying my best to ease up on my own expectations of myself—to stop being hyper critical of my writing. In fact, when I first started doing this blogging stuff, I read and reread to make sure I didn’t sound like an idiot. And I started hating blogging. So I told myself, in an Irish accent cause everything sounds better that way, to stop being a diddly-eyed idget and just have fun. That’s why we’re doing this in the first place right, to have fun? To draw on our creative powers, to experiment with the craziness in our heads? Now it’s just time to get ‘er done and write.
Are you a perfectionist? Do you allow errors and clutter into your writing? Or are you a smarty pants and know that perfectionism will muck up your creativity? 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Reluctant Mom Meets the Pretzel Pixie

I moved away from my birthplace about eleven years ago, which was quite an accomplishment for this mama's girl. My husband had an opportunity he didn't want to pass on, so I put on my big girl hat and we moved to another state. I didn't jump back into my career, instead we decided to start a family.  
I love being able to stay at home and take care of my kids, but it isn’t easy. We didn’t move here with readymade friends, so my new social life consisted of a few neighbors and my little ones. Until an ordinary shopping trip to Sam’s Club changed everything. 
After buying an ultra-grande box of diapers and wipes, my two children and I waited in line for a pretzel. In case you haven’t tried a Sam’s Club pretzel, I highly recommend it. My stomach dips and rumbles with anticipation as I stroll through the warehouse aisles, waiting for the buttery, salty yumminess to slip down my throat. The line was long, but I wanted my  pretzel. I wasn't going to leave without one. 
A woman behind me complimented my daughter's irresistible cuteness. I smiled, but didn’t encourage chitchat. You really have to be careful who you meet nowadays and even though she looked like a pixie, I knew not to trust her. Pixies can be dangerous, right?
The line soon came to an abrupt halt when the trainee had some sort of Code Blue. The pixie lady took the opportunity and chattered away and cooed at my baby boy. 
“He’s darling,” she said. Her smile looked genuine enough—a bit too eager for my liking.
Yeah, I know I don’t sound so friendly, maybe even a tad cold, but that pixie had a good complexion. A complexion so perfect I just knew she had to be an Avon lady or even one of those pink Cadillac driving Mary Kay salesperson of the year.
As I used my Jedi mind tricks on the cashier to hurry along with the orders ahead of me, my daughter started playing with her two little girls, bouncing around and giggling. Thankfully, the line started moving and I got my buttery, salty pretzel and bucket of diet coke. I smiled and said goodbye to the pixie and wandered through the crowd to find a table. 
Somewhere along the way, my daughter had other plans. She turned around and returned to the pixie lady and asked them to join us. Horror filled my face, not only did my little girl run from my side, but she was bringing the pixie cosmetics pusher over to me. I vowed that she’d be grounded until she was five if I ended up with a jar of must-have wrinkle cream. The woman’s smile grew as she and her little girls strolled over to the table.
“Your daughter is so sweet, she asked us to join you. Would that be all right?”
I smiled and shrugged, probably mumbled for her to sit down. I let her do most of the talking. She told me how hard it was making friends in a new city. She apparently just moved from California. We live in a predominately LDS (Mormon) community and meeting people can be hard if you aren’t of the same faith—or at least, it feels that way. I related to her problem because I was baptized LDS, but don’t go to church. And although I have two busy kids and hardworking husband, I really didn’t have much of a social life.
So maybe the Pixie wasn’t as crazy as I thought she was. The pixie just wanted a friend. But why in the world would she choose me. I’m the opposite of pixie. I have a hard time keeping my opinions to myself, I don’t talk to strangers in the Sam’s Club line, and I don’t trust easily. This girl looked like she breathed in Disneyland fairy tales. What would we have in common besides our kids? 
The Pixie asked for my number and I gave her mine, but vowed to file it away and never use it. A month later, the Pixie called and nearly five years after that, I’m happy to say she is one of my dearest friends. She is like a kindred spirit to me—a person I was destined to meet. I strongly believe there was a force greater than the pangs of longing for that pretzel when I met my pixie friend.
We are vastly different in so many ways, except for the ones that count. I look forward to our “Good Moorling” conversations and know that no matter what we’ll always be friends.
Sometimes in life, stepping out of your comfort zone is the thing that saves you. A person can tread water for only so long before he has to swim. Take chances in life and in your writing. I heard a saying once to write what you know. But to me, that’s like waiting in line for a pretzel and ignoring possibilities of something better—something lasting.

Do you experiment with your writing? Step out of your comfort zone? Or have you ever had a situation happen that lead you on a journey you never imagined?