This is one of those posts that’s only relevant if you can relate to the problem. For anyone else, it’s too much information and you should probably avert your eyes.
Something changed when I entered my 30s. I became really hot-natured and sweat under my arms all the time. Crazy, right? It’s like some twisted male version of menopause that happened 20 years early.
I open my sunroof when it’s 50 outside. That’s a warm day to me. It’s gross. I don’t like it, obviously.
I’ve tried all kinds of “extra strength” and “clinical” formulas. My armpits just laughed and said, “You are no match for me, weakling!” (Apparently my armpits speak too.)
I found out about something called Certain Dri Anti-Perspirant. The average rating is 4.5 stars out of 5 and most people seem to love it. How had I never heard of this stuff?
You roll it on before bed, let it dry for 5-10 minutes, and it won’t wash off in the shower the next day. It’s supposed to work for up to 72 hours.
Of course I was skeptical but I read dozens of a sites and independent reviews, and the overwhelming consensus was that it worked. There were certainly a few people who had bad reviews too, but that’s common with any product. Some people had an allergic reaction that caused them to break-out, others said it just didn’t work for them. No product is going to work for 100% of people.
But most people, a surprising majority, have been very happy with it.
I put it on last night and followed the instructions. It did dry pretty quickly, and it’s clear and odorless. There was a mild burning sensation at first, but nothing unbearable. A lot of people report this. It went away and I was fine.
Today I woke up and I’m completely dry under my arms. It’s almost eerie.
So that’s my story. I will continue to use it and see how it goes. But if you suffer from excessive sweating, I highly recommend Certain Dri. I can’t tell you how excited I am to stop worrying about dark circles under my arms when I wear light colored shirts!
*Note: Get the roll-on! A lot of people don’t like the stick version. It has a different formula and only mixed reviews. It’s milder, to avoid burning, but it doesn’t seem to be as effective.
Our country has been rocked by the tragedy in Connecticut. It seems to be happening more and more, and my news feeds over the weekend was filled with reports of escalating gun violence. There were even shootings in my local area, threats to attack nearby schools, and a guy walking into a hospital and shot three people in a neighboring state. It feels like everyone has gone insane.
Watching the debates unfold on Facebook and Twitter have been shocking. It seems we will never find peace or common ground. And while there’s so much I feel like saying about this topic and the tragedy that took place in Connecticut, part of me is just tired and doesn’t even feel like talking about it, although I know we must.
There is just one think I want to make abundantly clear…
Saying I think there should be more gun control DOES NOT mean I am anti-gun. That is a wild and exaggerated accusation, and I don’t understand people always jump to that extreme conclusion.
If I say I want more control of carbs in my diet, does that mean I want all carbs to be banned? No. It just means I want to reduce them.
Keeping with that mindset, when people say they want more gun control, we’re just saying we want stricter guidelines. Unless you are in law enforcement or the military, there is no reason for you to be carrying around a semi-automatic. They should have never been legal in the first place! They aren’t legal in many other countries.
“Oh, but the second amendment says…” blah, blah, blah. The second amendment was written at a time where nobody would ever dream we’d invent weapons like the ones we have today.
If you want a handgun, because you feel it makes you safe, fine. If you want a shotgun because you want to go hunting in the woods, fine. But if you want a military-grade weapon, and you are just an average citizen… I don’t think you should have it.
Banning semi-automatic weapons won’t solve all the world’s problems. And yes, it’s true, if you really want to kill someone, you’re going to find a way somehow. But removing semi-automatic weapons drastically reduces the amount of damage that can be done, and also gives the potential victims a greater chance of escaping and surviving.
I believe all serious change must be done in steps. We have to start somewhere, and I think removing semi-automatics is the first step in preventing more mass-killings.
- “I was able, for the first time in my life to say the exact thing I wanted to say at the exact moment I wanted to say it. And, of course, afterwards, I felt terrible, just as you said I would. I was cruel, and I’m never cruel.”
— Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, in the movie You’ve Got Mail
I feel bad about something I did today. It really bothers me, even though I know it was justified.
There’s someone very close to us, who Daniel and I both love and could never replace. But he shares very different views on politics than we do. Daniel and I have had numerous talks with him and tried to find common ground, to no avail. Finally I just gave up and told him I don’t want us to discuss politics around each other, ever. Daniel echoed these sentiments too and kindly asked him to please focus on the things we have in common, and not our differences.
Today we received an inflammatory anti-Obama email from him. It really, really upset me, and worst of all, nothing in it was factually true. Not by a long shot.
The subject line was the dreaded, “Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Obamacare,” and you always know there’s going to be trouble when you receive a message like that. He sent it to a list of his closest friends and family, and made certain to include Daniel and me as well.
I talked with Daniel before replying, and he said it was okay. So I went off the deep end. I didn’t call this person names or anything like that. But I did point him to several facts, including links to references. And I tried my best to separate myths and facts, although I’m sure he won’t take anything I say seriously. And then I clicked “Send.”
Now I feel awful. The tone of the email was overwhelmingly angry and intense. And even though I didn’t really say anything specific that I’d regret, I do regret the overall “meanness” of it.
He pushed my buttons one too many times. He knows, without any amount of uncertainty, how Daniel and I feel. And we’ve asked him to not send us these emails. But he did anyway, and he got a response.
No matter how satisfying you think it’s going to feel to give someone a piece of your mind, it never quite does. More often than not, you end up feeling disappointed in your own actions.
We can justify it any way we want. “He had it coming” or “he should have known to not provoke me.” But in the end, we are responsible for all that we say, and all that we do. And it makes me sad.
Things will be fine and we’ll move on. I suspect this person will delete my message without reading it entirely, and probably won’t ever mention it. That’s fine. I kind of prefer it that way.
But I hate this momentary ugliness. And I just wanted to say that justified cruelty is still cruelty, no matter what verb you put in front of it. I was cruel today, and that’s something I never like to be.
Last week, my hometown in IL was mowed down by a tornado with 170MPH winds. The house I grew up in, the house my parents lived in for 30 years, was busted to pieces. Thankfully my parents moved out a few years ago and now live in an area that was unaffected. The current owners got lucky and made it out alive with only seconds to spare before the roof came off and chimney collapsed where their 3 year old daughter had just been sleeping. If you look closely, you can see the pink bed in the picture.
A few days later, Daniel and I found ourselves surrounded by danger as dozens of tornadoes swept through our surrounding states. It bypassed our home in Nashville, leaving only minor wind damage to nearby towns.
Tornadoes are nothing new to this area of the country. But in the past 4 years, it’s become an annual event, getting more destructive each time. In 2009, a tornado came up the main road right by my house and struck 4 miles away, demolishing a community. I’ll never forget the terror of hiding in the closet underneath the stairs while the nightmare unfolded outside.
You can say a lot of negative things about where I live. We have homophobic politicians and deadly storms. But that’s not the whole picture. We also have thousands of open minded and forwarded thinking people who love and support us. We have the most beautiful seasons, the most wonderful scenery, and some of the most amazing food. There’s a reason Blanche Devereaux always spoke fondly of the south.
I feel torn and conflicted. I have for many years. My husband and I have built a life here. We own a house, we have jobs and friends and family nearby. Sure, it’s possible to move somewhere else and start over. We can make new friends, get new jobs. Maybe live somewhere with less bad weather and more equality. It’s certainly appealing and it’s certainly been discussed many times.
But then again… You can make all these changes, then walk outside and be hit by a car. It’s true.
I suppose we can never really escape problems. And there is no beginning or end to this rambling. I just felt like saying that I’m scared. I’m worried. Seeing the house I grew up in torn apart was a sobering reminder that we are never safe from harm, no matter where we live. I just wish we could at least have a little less dramatic weather to help us along the way.
I just wanted to take a minute to get something off my chest.
When somebody dies, they deserve our respect. I lost a nephew to a drug overdose several years ago. Burying a 23-year-old with his whole life ahead of him is more painful than I could ever explain.
People had plenty of crude and judgmental things to say about his death. And what good are poison drenched words spit from the acid tongues of strangers? I’m the one who lost him, not you. So shut the fuck up.
The endless stream of hateful commentary about Whitney Houston’s death is nauseating. We built her up so we could tear her down, didn’t we?
Maybe if we’re lucky we can do the same to another celebrity. How about Adele? She’s at the height of her fame and everybody seems to loves her. Maybe in 20 years she’ll develop a drug or alcohol dependency and we can tear her apart until all the seams of her spirit come undone. Oh wouldn’t that be delicious? Another scandal. Another bright star burning out. It would make such a wonderful story on the evening news.
Both my nephew and Whitney Houston had a profound impact on my life. Obviously for different reasons. I’m a better person because of their presence in my life. It makes me sad that they died from drugs but it does no good to say unkind things about them. It certainly doesn’t help their family.
If the things we say don’t bring any good to the world, perhaps it’s best that we sew our mouths shut so we can do no damage, and saw our fingertips down to the bone so we write nothing that harms others.
Just a thought.
When I was in high school, I didn’t have many friends. Since I was bullied and outcast daily for being gay, guys in particular stayed far away from me. Even the ones who didn’t necessarily pick on me still didn’t want to be seen talking to me for fear of association.
But there was this one boy. His name was Jeremy. He was a few years older than I am and we met in the lunch room. Every day, he sat across from me with his brown paper bag lunch of a bologna sandwich with mustard, a milk carton (2%), and a bright red apple for dessert.
Jeremy was disproportionally tall and didn’t seem to have completely adjusted to his teenaged body yet. His arms were long and lanky and made the sleeves of his polo shirts look freakishly short. His hair was blond, the golden color of straw, only much softer. He kept it parted down the left side and the front of it fell against his forehead but he kept it brushed to the side as best he could. His face was very bird-like, with a nose and pointed lips that seemed to almost be attached.
He was dorky and unpopular, an outcast like me, but nobody gave him any trouble. In fact, I don’t think anyone even knew he was there. Jeremy was like a ghost. He sat there with his sandwich and milk, staring off in deep thoughts as if something much more signifiant was taking place inside that head of his.
One day, Jeremy turned and look at me, like he’d just awoken from a trance and noticed me there. He extended a cold, bony hand out to me and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Jeremy. How are you today?” And his eyes were bright and friendly, his demeanor very polite. I don’t think Jeremy belonged there in the 1990s. I always suspected he was born in the 1920s or ’30s and had somehow been preserved in a time capsule for decades.
We became fast friends, making small talk about the weather or the news. Like grown men. We never talked about anything too personal or controversial. That seemed to be an unspoken rule. When it was time to eat his apple, he took large bites out of it, like an alligator devouring a small animal. His eyebrows transformed into tall, sharp arches and his whole face contorted. It was kind of scary at first. But I eventually found it endearing and laughed about it secretly. Jeremy had no idea how funny he looked, and it didn’t really matter.
After he was done eating, he threw away his trash and began reading a book. It was a ritual that took place every day, without fail, and when it was time to read, I took the cue to stop talking. I liked reading as well so I took out my book and read with him. We sat quietly until the bell rang, pulling us out of the world we’d been immersed in through our reading. Before leaving, Jeremy made eye contact with me again, letting me know he hadn’t forgotten about me, and told me to have a nice day.
Jeremy and I spent our lunches together for at least 2 years. Over time, the rumors about me became louder and harder to ignore. Jeremy heard them, but I’d never confirmed them, so he seemed to find comfort in believing I was in fact heterosexual. No threat to his masculinity at all. We just sat quietly at the table, making small talk as we ate until it was time to read together.
I really liked Jeremy. I don’t think I was attracted to him, although I sometimes wondered what kind of underwear he wore. I can’t explain why. I was young and curious, and believed underwear could be very telling about a person. I always figured they were white briefs with those elastic waistbands and skinny blue and red stripes around the band. What brand was that? Fruit of the Loom? Whatever they were, I’m certain they were predictable and consistent, just like Jeremy.
One day, when the secret of my sexual orientation became far too heavy to hide, I decided to confide in Jeremy and tell him that most of what he’d heard about me was true. I figured he’d be unhappy about it, but then again, how could he act surprised? He knew me about as well as anybody, at least on a platonic level.
So I told him, “Jeremy, I’m gay.”
He looked away, as if the confirmation was too disappointing to handle. Then he quietly collected his lunch and brown paper bag, got up, and said to me, “I don’t care for that at all.” His words were soft, without judgement or threat. They were just facts. That’s how he felt.
That was the last day Jeremy and I ever had lunch together, or even spoke. And just like a ghost, he faded away. I never saw him in the halls, but then again, I don’t think I ever had anyway. But his absence was known to me, and it made me sad for awhile. It’s weird because I wonder if anyone else at all even knows who he was. If you asked the kids in his graduating class, would they even recognize the name?
But I was reading something last night that reminded me of him. I wondered how he’s doing and what he’s become. I’m almost certain he’s a writer of some sort. And the thing is, I’m not sure if I ever truly believed he was offended by my admission of being gay. Instead, I think he was more disturbed by the personal nature of my comment. Almost as if he was incapable of that level of honesty from another human.
So that’s my story of lunch with Jeremy. In a way, I think he was one of my greatest friends, even if he didn’t understand me at all.
Illustration by Marcus Cutler
A few days ago Daniel and I became proud owners of a Wii Fit Plus. It instantly became our new addiction.
I generally find exercise to be boring and prefer vodka and laxatives. Yum! Thankfully I’ve managed to maintain a healthy weight and my BMI is within the normal range. The game recommended I lose 7 pounds to be optimal so I’m going to work on that.
My real issue is apparently balance. I fail at any exercise that requires me to use posture or coordination to gain points. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m 30 and I’ve been designing websites since I was 15. A good chunk of my life has been spent in a chair working at a computer. I’m obviously slouching more than I should even though I try to make it a habit to sit up straight. Now my life as a web developer appears to be taking a toll.
I’m confident Wii Fit Plus will assist me with improving myself. If nothing else it’s made me more aware.
But I still laugh every time it says I’m unbalanced! Thanks Nintendo.
Have you ever got up after 8 hours of sleep and felt like a train hit you? Or got up after only 6 and felt surprisingly chipper?
The reason for this oddity may be related to your sleep patterns. The average person has 5 cycles of sleep, each lasting 90 minutes. So the optimal amount of sleep would be 7.5 hours. Getting up after 8 hours means you’ve interrupted a sixth cycle, which can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented. The reason you felt surprisingly good after only 6 hours is because you woke up right at the end of a cycle. However, 6 hours of sleep on a regular basis is not ideal and can cause long-term health effects.
In the past, I’ve always had trouble with getting up after 8 hours and this may explain why. I preferred to stay in bed and sleep 9 hours, which made me feel much better. That would make sense because 9 hours is an even breaking point for the 90 minute cycles. Today I tried the 7.5 hour rule and it seemed to work. I actually felt pretty good and was ready to start the day. The only problem is that our dog Anna got into bed at that time, and it was preferable to cuddle up to her rather than getting out of bed. So yeah, I still slept 9 hours.
I learned about the sleep cycles through this interesting article on LifeHacker. You might want to try it out to see if you feel better or worse compared to your normal routine. Just make sure the amount of sleep you get divides into 90 minute intervals and also add on 15 minutes because most people need about 15 minutes to fall asleep at night.
A revised version of this chapter is now available. Click here to read the new, improved version.
I’ve been trying to write this book for a few years now. I’m getting to a point where I need to share some content and get honest feedback. It’s very scary to risk getting my feelings hurt, but it’s also a necessary step to improvement.
Here’s what I can say, without ruining the plot. This is common information that will be shared upfront:
The focus of the story is a priest named Father Robert. He has a lot of enemies, primarily because of his church’s controversial “ex-gay” program. He will eventually be murdered, and that’s not a secret. The book will explore his enemies, the death threats he receives regularly, and narrow things down to pinning the murderer and the motive.
It’s imperative that you hate Robert. His actions and beliefs should stir up anger. But no villain is completely bad. He’s still human, and even if he’s wrong, he needs to be interesting enough for you to want to keep reading. I’m walking the thin line of making sure you don’t like him, but aren’t so turned off by him that you abandon the story.
Here are some specific questions I’d like you to answer:
1) How did you feel about the main character, Father Robert, so far? This is the first chapter that introduces him.
2) Is there anything about the storyline that hits a raw nerve with you? Something you related to?
3) Are you curious enough to continue reading the next chapter?
4) Are there any details you wish were elaborated on?
5) Did anything bore you?
Please be as honest as possible and leave your feedback in the comments. Thank you for your help!
• • •
“Here’s your mail, Father. Have a nice Labor Day weekend.”
Mary Anne dropped the pile at the edge of the desk and hurried toward the front door of the rectory office.
Robert looked up from his monitor, surprised by his office assistant’s abrupt exit.
“Wait a minute, don’t you want your paycheck?”
“Oh, yes.” She walked toward him, looking down at the multi-hued brown ’70s carpeting to avoid eye contact. “Th-thank you,” she stuttered.
“Mary Anne, is there something you’d like to tell me?” His gaze was strong, forceful, yet sympathetic.
She walked back over to his desk and her lips began to tremble. Tears rolled down her plump freckled cheeks.
Happy Halloween month everyone! My favorite holiday season is here.
I’ve been hard at work on a book project I started last year. I’m really excited about it and things are finally coming together with the writing process. I’m learning new tips and tricks to help me be more effective. I thought I’d share them on here since I know at least several of you are also working on trying to write a book.
I can’t really say these are expert tips. I haven’t even finished my book! But they helped me, so maybe they’ll help you too.
#1: Plan out your storyboards to avoid feeling blocked
It starts with one great idea. We feel so inspired thinking about how it could all play out as a book. But then when it’s time to make it happen, we feel stuck. Storyboards are a wonderful remedy for preventing writer’s block.
I use the Scrivener software for writing. It lets me plan out my chapters easily and I can write a summary for each chapter. This helps me organize my thoughts and plan the direction of the book. It’s important to know how the story is going to unfold from beginning to end. You can also do it the old fashioned way with index cards. Just plan a scene, put it on a card, and then organize the chapters into a pattern that feels right.
Once you know the general direction of the chapters, you’ll always have something to do when you sit down to write. Pick a chapter, take your idea, and turn it into a full scene. It’s much harder to feel writer’s book when you know the task at hand and have something to work with.
#2: Stop editing!
You write a paragraph. You read the paragraph. Over. And over. And over again. You edit the chapter. Over. And over. And over again. Before you know it, you’ve spent 2 hours analyzing it and you’re tired of the whole thing. This is why many people never finish their first book. They are too critical and they get too caught up in the editing process. Stop it!
Write the chapter, get the idea out there, and move on. It’s hard to resist at first, but once you train yourself, you’ll notice a big shift in how productive you are. You’ll start flying through the story and the sense of accomplishment will be so rewarding. You’ll be much more motivated to keep going. Editing is very important, but it’s better to do it once the first draft of your book is complete.
#3: Write the same way you speak
It’s a common mistake to start using complex words that aren’t part of your normal vocabulary or adding extra words to fill space. I used to believe I had to fill an imaginary quota in order to complete a chapter, so I added excessive conversations just to drag it out. Looking back, that was a horrible choice. My goal was to hit around 2,000 words per chapter, which I succeeded in doing. But the result was about 500 filler words. It made the storyline tedious and inhibited the flow.
Recently I re-wrote several chapters on blank pages. Rather than editing old material, I told the story over again exactly as I felt it. The results were amazing. It flowed like a real conversation. It felt natural and believable. When that scene was done, the chapter ended and the timing felt right. The word count was irrelevant.
#4: Use photos to make flat characters come to life
It’s very difficult to create characters using generic descriptions. This is a man, this is a woman. He’s older, she’s younger. Blah, blah, blah, what boring people. You don’t believe they are real and neither will your readers. And if your readers don’t believe they’re real, they won’t really care what happens in the storyline.
So how do you create humans? It’s a daunting task. But I’ve found an incredible shortcut that works really well for me.
I visit the website Model Mayhem and browse for people according to age, weight, height, ethnicity, etc. The site is intended to promote people for modeling work, but it’s actually a really incredible tool for writers as well.
I started out with a general idea of my characters. Then I found a model who felt right for the part and began studying their photos. How do they dress? How do they style their hair? What color are their eyes? Do they have wrinkles? A mole on their cheek? A scar?
Once I’d chosen a visual representation of my characters, it became shockingly easier to imagine these people in the storyline. There’s still some imagination and creativity involved, but this really helped get things going.
#5: Embrace the urge to tell your life story
We try very hard to write an authentic work of fiction. This isn’t an autobiography and we’d feel too vulnerable if our own life story seeped into the book. How could we ever deal with the criticism if people didn’t like the story? It’s our life, after all. So we try to make up every single last detail, and hence the disclaimer that “any similarity to those living or dead is merely a coincidence…” Again, blah, blah, blah. That’s bullshit.
Your life is going to come out in your words. If you want the story to feel real, it must have some reality to it. So go ahead and let your own life inspire the path of the book. Change details when necessary and protect the privacy of others as much as you can. Change names, tweak details, etc. Your novel doesn’t need to be a tell-all and you certainly don’t want to be sued.
But go with your gut and let a little bit of yourself shine through. It’s going to happen eventually and it will help build an emotional bond with the reader. Writing is about feeling, not just reading words on paper.
I wrote this post on a whim, because I felt inspired to share it. So just as the advice above suggests, I haven’t proof-read it because I knew I’d get caught up in the details and never publish it. So please excuse any typos, and feel free to correct me. Thanks for reading.