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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
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My girl will be eleven in a month. She's all fashion and interior design and smelly markers and starlight. We walked through a toy store today, and I realized she's outgrown all but two of the aisles. As I explained to Steph how I taught my girl to roller skate when she was the wee one's age, I could hardly believe my own daughter leaving me behind on the ice. I remember wanting to teach her all the things so she wouldn't be as hesitant as I was to take risks as a child. I didn't grow into my capacity until I graduated high school. After we left the ice rink and drove home, my girl commenting on Zeppelin and asking for a phone yet again, I found myself wondering when her voice stopped sounding like Minnie Mouse. When did she realize my dance moves suck? How intimately does she see my flaws? And how does she love me, anyway? She asks when she can wear makeup. I say seventh grade. She's never asked that before. Something new is starting to shift even as we discuss the merits of Legoland. I made that seventh grade shit up on the fly. I remember how terrifying it was to grow up. I didn't think about the terror in growing older. At this point, though, is the comforting knowledge that once you're strapped in and at the top of the hill, the roller coaster's going to drop, no matter how you feel about it. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
What girls had to say about people who insult them ... and then pretend they didn't really. We need to let kids know it's okay to be upset. I'm going to show this to my daughter right now. Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
I told my ten-year-old daughter about it and she choked on her hamburger. Even she knows your vagina is not connected to your stomach.
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Idaho Representative Vito Barbieri asks if a camera women can swallow to show the state of their colons after colonoscopy could be used to prevent abortion. Apparently, he does not understand the differences between the digestive system and the reproductive system. YOU'RE FIRED, VITO. Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Kizzy didn't pee last night. About an hour after I wrote my last post, though, his painkillers kicked in and he stopped his frantic litterbox laps and settled down. This morning, there was still nothing in his box, but he seemed cheerful, so we all went to work and school. Around ten, I went to pick him up and he made a mournful noise. I called Beloved and he picked up the little angel and I honestly thought that was that, but when we got to the vet, Kizzy had a 180-degree personality change and started trotting around the place like a show horse. He's not blocked. He just hadn't peed. So then the vet tells us the bladder can get stretched out (much like Buttonsworth's megacolon) after a cat is blocked and so it takes the medicine he's on to snap everything back together. We blinked at each other and collected our little black cat and came home. So now I think we are in the tunnel that connects a health crisis to the safety zone. Kizzy passed through this tunnel last year, and I'm praying he can do it again. It's a pretty scary tunnel, and I've been through it with people and with animals, and it never gets any more fun. But he's still here, and I'm very very thankful for that. Onward. Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
It's been a year and two weeks since the last time our little black cat had a health crisis. He had a urinary blockage last January with two rounds of hospitalization. Then we had a good year in which we fell in love with him even more. On Friday night, he started acting frantic around the litter box. We took him to the normal vet, where they said his bladder was small so they gave him steroids and antibiotics. We took him home. On Saturday morning, he was crying in pain. He'd vomited all over the basement in the night. We took him to the emergency vet, where he got a catheter and he stayed overnight. The bill equaled almost exactly our mortgage payment. We brought him home this morning, and he slept on my stomach for two blissful hours during which I tried to memorize the soft feel of his fur on my skin. About three hours ago, he started straining on the litter box again. We called the vet. They said he might be reblocking. After we underwent several rounds of unfruitful hospitalization with Sir Charles Buttonsworth, the Manx we adopted at the same time as Kizzy, we promised ourselves we wouldn't keep throwing ourselves at chronic problems if we weren't willing to take the radical next step. In the case of urinary blockage, the radical next step is a surgery that essentially removes the cat's penis and turns him into a girl cat with a wider urethra. I won't judge anyone that would undertake that step, but we can't afford it, not if we want to be fiscally responsible and stay on track to free ourselves from the mountain of debt we built getting out of This Old House and into Chateau Travolta. One four-figure vet bill... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Law!
Toggle Commented Feb 20, 2015 on I Don't Even Make a Game of It at Surrender, Dorothy
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Middle school! AAAAAAAHHHHHH
Toggle Commented Feb 19, 2015 on I Don't Even Make a Game of It at Surrender, Dorothy
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I drove her to school yesterday, because it was cold. She hoisted her backpack and saxophone out of the trunk that she didn't used to be able to open by herself. It is a heavy trunk door and the struts to keep it open don't work anymore. I see her every day, but something about the way she flipped her hair back and blew me a kiss reminded me of the way she looked when I dropped her off in first grade. But this isn't first grade, it's fifth grade, and she's told me next year she will rule the school. Something about the way she flipped her hair and blew me a kiss nailed my gut to the back of my seat, and I actually couldn't move for a breath. My mother told me about this love, but I didn't understand it. Every night she says she loves me more. And I say no, that's impossible. I don't even make a game out of it. I know now it is impossible to love your mother more than she loves you, at least in my family. She saw a while back that I was serious, and she stopped trying to win the argument. I wrap her in blankets and the promise that there is no way that I could not love her the most. She clomps off toward the school in her winter boots, the backpack and the saxophone trying to drag her down but her long hair promising to catch the wind so she can fly. It's a normal school day, but it's not. Just like every day. I like to write about young people. Enter a Goodreads giveaway now to win a copy of my young adult novel, THE OBVIOUS GAME! Goodreads Book Giveaway The Obvious Game by... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
That is huge.
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I read somewhere that if you want to be happy, take five minutes every day and fix something that bugs the shit out of you. I may be paraphrasing. This week has been insanely busy. The little angel had a science fair project due Monday, a variety show performance on Tuesday, last night was dedicated to constructing a box for the class Valentine's Day party and nineteen homemade valentines and tonight she has riding lessons. My parents are coming to stay with us for the weekend, and they will be here tomorrow. Also, this week I had a huge work deadline. I'll admit it. I'm stressed out when I get this busy. I don't like chaos. I like my life to be a summer afternoon in a hammock. Don't we all? I am, though, maybe even worse with chaos than your average bear. So this week, I've also taken it upon myself to fix some little annoyances, though some of them took more than five minutes to fix: 1) I organized Hoggincraft, the craft room that the little angel and I share. She has a church table covered in glitter and other crafty things on one half, and I have a wooden desk and a sewing machine on the other. We share the craft room with eleventy billion craft supplies, a filing cabinet, a dehumidifier, a large stuffed horse, two tubs of loom supplies for the hand loom my daughter inherited from her late grandfather, gift wrap supplies, a doll bassinet that now functions as a piggy bank drying station, a few lamps and at least 30 pieces of inspirational art made by my daughter. Sometimes she goes in there with her friends unsupervised, and then later I stumble down there before I've had coffee to find something and kick... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
This week, BlogHer's parent company, SheKnows Media, partnered with Public Radio International on the #womenslives media initiative. Basically, we want people talking about women. We need to do this because only about 24% of all news subjects talk about women in any way, and only six percent of news stories highlight gender in/equality. So, basically, we're ignoring half the population of the earth. Daily. You can take a step toward changing that. We're going to talk about gender and womanhood and equality and inequality and stigma and women's health using the #womenslives hashtag. Did you know JLaw got the paycheck shaft on American Hustle compared to her male co-stars? Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women and the symptoms can be different for women? Did you know young women are harassed online three times as much as young men? Did you know that people used to believe only boys were dyslexic because only boys were studied? Would you stay in an abusive relationship? Why this blogger did. That there are so many posts about surviving and witnessing domestic violence is heartbreaking, such as this one from Beauty School Scarlet, this one from Brown Girl From Boston, this one from Living Off Love and Coffee, this one from Loving Ryan (her mother's boyfriend starting their acquaintance by killing her kitten), this one from Heart of Michelle, this one from Not a Stepford Life, and this one from Transparency. That Super Bowl domestic violence ad was a real 911 call. I'm a feminist, and I catch myself accepting inequality all the time because it's always been that way. The whole women's paycheck thing hasn't changed, it hasn't changed! Women get charged more for everything from hair products to shoes even though that paycheck thing exists. We still... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Respite. I stepped outside tonight to feel the wind upon my feet. Today, January 28, it was 73 degrees in Kansas City. Winter will return in a few days, with cold and snow, but tonight, tonight! I heard a barn owl amidst the wind rustling through the branches in my backyard. Something small and furry lives under my deck. I heard it turning in its bed. I remember sitting on my best friend's graduate school balcony in February 1997. It was a miraculous 70 degrees. I was living in Chicago at the time. I thought Kansas City must surely be a magic place, so close to my parents but yet so mysteriously warm. I moved here in 1998. I'm not sure I could live somewhere completely without seasons. I'm not sure I could appreciate the wonder of a 70-degree January day if my skin weren't acclimated to zero degrees. Everywhere I went today, I saw people baring winter skin in shorts: jogging, popping into the grocery store, playing in yards. We all smiled at each other, because we know what is coming. That this is a respite from a normal Midwestern January. We got a gift we weren't supposed to have. Fifteen minutes ago, I cradled my daughter's head in my arms as she drifted off to sleep. "Never leave," she said. "No," I said. I didn't promise, because I can't promise. The only thing assured of all of us is that we will eventually leave. "Not yet," I thought, instead, to myself. I thought about the pictures I saw online recently of children climbing across broken bridges and up precarious ladders to get to school. I thought about the conversation I had with the woman who cuts my hair about how when I was a girl they didn't even... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
I try to assume they are just cleaning up their inboxes. :)
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2015 on I, Whiner at Surrender, Dorothy
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I know it. :)
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2015 on I, Whiner at Surrender, Dorothy
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Thank you, Emily! Someone just unsubscribed from my blog so I was feeling a little whinier than ever this morning!
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2015 on I, Whiner at Surrender, Dorothy
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Aw, thank you!
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2015 on I, Whiner at Surrender, Dorothy
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I found myself crying today for no good reason. Or maybe it was, in the interest of time. I'd been reading Neil Gaiman short stories on a five-hour drive through ice with ten-year-old feet in my face and sports on the radio so loud I couldn't hear myself think. I had one of those moments where you just want everyone to go away so you can remember what you were trying to do in the first place. I couldn't remember. So I cried. It was awful and embarrassing, and my daughter reminded me of the time I cried in We Bought a Zoo, and I realized I've become that mother whom you can't bring anywhere. Fuck it. I cried because sometimes in the midst of it I forget what I was starting to do snd how important it seemed at one time to get the stories out. And even if, over time, they start to seem more silly, I should remember that since the dawn of time stories are important. My husband, dear man, told me to carve out time instead of crying, and that does seem more useful (smart bastard) so tonight I scheduled appointments with myself on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons. I will work on my stories when I am not exhausted because they and I deserve that. And, if I am honest with myself, because my husband snd daughter encouraged it and said they would occupy themselves elsewhere while I did. It is hard to be a mother and pursue a dream at the same time. I realize what a huge gift I've been given to be encouraged to grow by my family. So I pick up my book and my notebook and schedule meetings with myself in off hours, because I promised myself years ago... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
He's cray.
Toggle Commented Jan 25, 2015 on How, Cat? at Surrender, Dorothy
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I met author Margaret Dilloway when I was managing the BlogHer Book Club. We discussed and reviewed her first book, HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, and her second book, THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS. Since then, we've grown friendly and I even got to have dinner with her at last year's BlogHer conference. When author Angélique Jamail gave me the opportunity to interview another author for Women Writer Wednesdays on her blog, I picked Margaret. I hope you enjoy the interview! We discuss craft, her favorite of her books, her career and more! For the book club discussions: HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
I had a teacher in fifth grade. She told us this story: I had a cat when I was a child. Someone told me that cats always land on their feet. I took my cat to the second-floor balcony and dropped it. The cat landed on its feet. "Interesting," I said, "but not necessarily conclusive." I took the cat to the first-floor balcony and dropped it. It landed on its feet. "Interesting," I said, "but not necessarily conclusive." I took the cat one step up from the ground and dropped it. It landed on its head. And so began my education. *I do not believe this was a true story. But I'm 40, and I still remember it. Well played, Mrs. Crum. Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
I am minimalist about many things in my life, but not the cards. I just don't keep them for more than the season. I used to keep them all and use that as a basis for the next year's list, but even that got too hard with people moving around and stuff. I do like to see my friends and their kids, though, because almost everyone who sends me a card lives far away from me.
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No matter what I do, I never get people's addresses right on holiday cards. Then they start coming back, and most of the time, I'm all screw it, Christmas is over and we can stop pretending this is a fun thing to do. Apparently holiday greetings make everyone ragey. Especially people who live where my BIL and SIL used to. *shakes fist in the direction of Cedar Rapids* I have this metal, over-the-door snowflake/flower hybrid with a bunch of slots to hold holiday cards. Despite my bad attitude today, I do very much enjoy watching the flower fill until I can only see the pink epicenter. It makes me feel loved to have so many people in my life who want to show me what they and their children look like. (The letters, maybe not so much, but that's a personal preference.) There's a flip side to this loved feeling, and that is the guilt feeling that comes from throwing them all away. I tried telling myself I was hanging on to them until Epiphany, but that was like, last week. It's time. And that means it's time to let go of the six remaining cards in my little box, too. People can see what we look like again in eleven months. Goodbye, carefully designed, rounded-edge, heavy card-stock lovelies! I can't wait to see what you all look like next year! How long do you hold on to holiday cards? Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
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Kizzy's been begging to be taken outside on his harness every day. He doesn't care that it's cold. He doesn't care that people keep asking if we got a dog when they see us from across the street. He doesn't care that he's a pussy (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) when it comes to loud noises. Or maybe he does now. Usually it's me that takes him outside, but the other day I went to pick up a prescription and some stuff for spaghetti and came home to this. I stared at Beloved. "How?" Him: "There was a loud noise. He freaked out at the garbage can." Me: "But ... how? There's no blood. No cut." Him: "I know. Um? I don't know. He's magic." HOW? Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Maldives dragonflies cross the Indian Ocean every year. They fly at 3,000-foot altitudes. They spend 3,500 km of that over the open ocean. Dragonflies are less than four inches long. The dragonflies can take four generations to make their migration, breeding in temporary pools of rain. Those pools might be there and might not when the dragonflies arrive. I suppose they don't really know before they start, whether their children will make the crossing. Whether the rain will fall in time. Ever since I started running half-marathons, I understand so much better how far a kilometer or mile really is. Road signs take on new meaning when I can imagine myself running the four miles to the next turn-off: how long it would take, how I would feel at the end. Yesterday I ran a little more than four miles without realizing it. The Runkeeper app made it look like I would just be tempo running for 25 minutes, period. I thought about giving up when I realized my mistake - that the app wanted a warm-up and cool-down mile on either end. I wasn't in the mood to run very far. I kept going because I really wasn't concentrating on the how far part of it. I was trying to go fast. When I got done, I thought about seeing the sign posted four miles before my usual interstate turn-off, how very far four miles always seemed when I just wanted to get home. It's better not to know, not to see the whole distance before you start. It's better not to wonder about the rain. It's better, I suppose, to just cross the ocean. Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy