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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
Recent Activity
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 yesterday at Surrender, Dorothy
He's cray.
Toggle Commented yesterday on How, Cat? at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
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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 4 days ago 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
thanks!
Toggle Commented Jan 2, 2015 on Television Crisis at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
thanks!
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2014 on Television Crisis at Surrender, Dorothy
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thanks!
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2014 on Television Crisis at Surrender, Dorothy
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Oh, I do watch Madame Secretary - forgot to mention that one. I adore Tea Leoni. But I'm caught up. This is starting to sound like I watch too much TV.
Toggle Commented Dec 19, 2014 on Television Crisis at Surrender, Dorothy
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Ever since we cut the cord a few years ago, I've changed the way I do television. I can't just flip it on and watch. It has to be purposeful. We got Xfinity for the high-speed Internet, but I'm still struggling with TV. I read a book a week, but sometimes, I just want to watch. This said, I'm caught up. I searched for best series of 2014 and started watching How to Get Away With Murder. I just binged The Newsroom and am caught up on Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Parenthood, Modern Family, Breaking Bad. I can no longer get True Detective without paying. I've seen Downton Abbey and Orange Is the New Black. I saw Kevin Spacey knock twice on House of Cards. I want scripted television. I don't do zombies. What else should I watch? Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
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I am working, at the moment, with a big black cat who used to be an overly-long-yet-still-skinny black kitten asleep in my lap. He has utterly ruined me for the rest of the cat world. I'm in love with black cats. His fur is silky beyond compare and shines in lamplight. He has tiny tufts of white fur at the epicenter of his little ears. Even his nose is black, so when he closes his eyes and curls up on a black blanket, he disappears. He has the power of invisibility. We were at PetSmart buying ridiculously expensive prescription cat food for this little black cat who almost died last year of urinary blockage (remember that??), and they had four little black kittens of varying sizes in one of those stand-up adoption cages. We swooned. Even Beloved, who says NO every time I ask if we can get Kizzy a friend. (And I don't really argue that hard, because there is peace in my home now and I'm not sure if peace would reign if we challenged Kizzy's ownership of Chateau Travolta.) But the three of us stood for ten minutes before the four little black kittens and poked our fingers through the wire to touch their little furry black toes and fawned over their perfect black noses and noticed how when they curled up on top of each other and closed their eyes, they disappeared into a pillow of silky black fur. I wanted THEM ALL. How cool is it that while all cats are gray in the dark, black cats can actually disappear? Who else among us has such superpowers? Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Well, Southwest Airlines has sent me three very nice emails telling me they are thurching and thurching for my writing notebook, but alas, I fear it's gone. Gone, gone, gone, along with all those lovely ideas for chapter beginnings for my new novel. I remember what the device was, just not the embodiments of the device. Going to have to go eavesdrop again. Twenty years ago, this would've been my worst nightmare. Twenty years ago. Before I'd lost entire computers and phones full of information. Before I'd lost jobs. Before I'd lost people. Man, twenty years ago I didn't know shit. Now I'm a little sad but mostly annoyed because there were some good chapter heading ideas in there that took a good three hours to conjure in the car on the way home from Thanksgiving in Iowa. When I got home, I went to my stash of hard-covered, spiral-bound, lined notebooks and picked another one. Then I printed out the brain dump I'd vomited into a Word document in the hotel the night I realized the notebook was gone. Then I pulled out the last notebook from THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES, because there were some notes on the new idea in there, too. I'm still new enough to this novel-writing gig that I don't have a real set process yet. It does seem to be one notebook per book, though. Even if it's not, I may make it so, because it seems clean, and everything else about writing is messy. But I still couldn't start again. I decided I needed a different music line-up, so I made one, and in doing so I realized we've only downloaded about 1/6 of our music collection onto the Mac. It's so tedious, the downloading. Beloved used to be a DJ and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Sure! It was nice to meet you.
Toggle Commented Dec 8, 2014 on On Robert Plant and Art at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
I was driving to meet a friend for dinner when I heard a Robert Plant interview on the radio. I've searched in vain to find a transcript; I think it's lost to the winds of change. I grew up on Led Zeppelin, as classic rock lives on in southwest Iowa today as it did in its heydey. Middle America is where time stands still for old-school rock and roll, as it does for mall hair and some forms of acid-wash jeans. There are places deep in the heart of Nebraska where I assume people are still pegging their jeans, similar to the Space Odyssey: a land where time stood still and perhaps the universe ceased to rotate for several decades. That, my friends, is western Nebraska. Anyway, Robert Plant was talking about his creative process. He said if he listened to what people wanted him to be at this point in his career it would all be awful, that he had to create what he is now for himself. As I was driving deeper into Kansas and reflecting on my own tiny writing career, I thought to myself, wow, if Robert Plant has deep existential questions, then I am totally fucked. But that's it, isn't it? This is all there is, for all of us, what we have in this moment. Lay down your swords, boys, this is who you are. Today I worked with Laura Fraser on a session at BlogHer PRO all about putting together a book proposal, which I did for SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK in 2006 or 2007. The book came out in 2008. If I did today what I did in 2008 for SIFTW, I doubt it would have been published. If I did twenty years ago what I did for THE OBVIOUS GAME... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I will work on it on the plane tomorrow morning!
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While a lot of my friends were killing it posting every day in November for NaBloPoMo (that's National Blog Posting Month for the uninitiated), I think I set a Surrender, Dorothy record for least amount of posts in a month, ever. A series of events overlapped like a time-sucking eclipse of crazy this month. It won't get much better next week, as I'm leaving tomorrow on a jet plane to go to BlogHer PRO '14 in the Bay area to speak on a panel about book publishing with the awesome Laura Fraser of SheBooks. And that is fun and exciting, and I love to talk about book publishing, but all this moving about isn't conducive to blogging. Here is an incomplete list of things I've been meaning to write about, in no particular order: Robert Plant The World Series of Poker My Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge Black kittens Holiday decor Running Midlife crises The new novel Maybe now I will actually write about those things, since I put them there so they can bother me with their unfinished-y-ness. Right? Here are some things I wrote or co-wrote at BlogHer in November: Mike Brown, #Ferguson & "You Should've Seen This Coming" How to Write a Headline or Teaser Copy That's Impossible to Ignore 5 Ideas for Your Picky Tween (That Aren't a Toy) Have You Seen Kim Kardashian's Golden Globes? 5 Products to Ease Your Travel Stress Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Never give up. That is my philosophy. In writing and, it seems, in running. I'm querying THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES and BELLA EATS THE MONSTERS. I just signed up for the Kansas City Marathon's Half-Marathon. It is in OCTOBER. That should be warmer, right? If I just keep trying, I will eventually succeed. Because that is how it works. Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Yes, they did start to hurt, kind of dull achey.
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OMG, it was so cold. Our car thermometer read 27 degrees when Beloved and the little angel dropped me off. I made my way down to the corrals, where we had to wait an extra 15 minutes or so because the traffic jam coming into the single entry-point was backed waaaay up. I was not happy with the delay, as that meant I spent my time stamping my feet and jumping up and down, wasting valuable energy. I had some layer issues. When I did my shake-out run the day before, it was 18 degrees and windy, and one pair of running tights just wasn't enough. So to this half-marathon, I wore: 2 pair of socks (one compression, one wool) 1 pair of compression shorts 2 pair of running tights (one normal, one fleecy) 1 running tank bra 2 wicking long-sleeved shirts, one with a hood 1 long-sleeved tee 1 thin waterproof windbreaker for when it started snowing 1 neck gaiter 1 hat 1 pair of thick running gloves 1 water bottle (I always carry my own water) I was okay except for my feet in the corrals. My right foot toes started to go numb before they released us, which was troubling. Then FINALLY we started. As we were taking off out of that single entry point, I saw swarms of unhappy runners walking in from the line of cars still waiting to turn in. I don't know if those guys went ahead and ran or not, but they probably did because a) it was a chip race, so the only thing that mattered was when your chip crossed the lines and b) I saw some incredibly fit-looking people finishing a half hour after I did. As I ran, I felt happy I was not one of those late... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I lived! Update coming soon.
Toggle Commented Nov 17, 2014 on I'm Scared at Surrender, Dorothy
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Thanks, Jenny!
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2014 on I'm Scared at Surrender, Dorothy
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I have a ski turtle gaiter thing that I am planning to use along with a hat. See you there!
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2014 on I'm Scared at Surrender, Dorothy
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