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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
Recent Activity
I bet you make good pancakes, though!
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Beloved informed me this past week that he will only be gone three of the four weeks in May. He is home for one week and two weekdays in April. He was home for two weeks in March, one of which was our vacation and the other of which his father died. He was home for no weeks in February. I wrote about it on BlogHer when I was really in the abyss, then the sun came out, and the time changed, and the days got longer, and the little angel started to play with the neighbor kids after school again and it seemed a little better. It is better, but it's not. Yes, he's home on weekends, but when half the family unit is gone five out of seven days, the two days he's home becomes crammed with yard work and housecleaning and laundry and errands and thinking gosh, I really like this person and everything is better when he's home and oh, shit, he's leaving again tomorrow. It's nice to see him, but it doesn't make it all better to have him home on the weekends. And the worst part is that I don't really know when this will end. The little angel doesn't have childcare the week of BlogHer, and he doesn't know if he will be home or not. I throw my hands in the air like I don't care because I am so tired of thinking through all the scenarios and how I will address them on my own. (He would say it's not on my own, and he would sometimes be right, but sometimes he would be wrong, because only the person in the situation knows the myriad things that come up and must be dealt with over the course of the week, most... Continue reading
Posted 14 hours ago at Surrender, Dorothy
Thanks to my friend Nordette for making me aware of the existance of these two awesome ladies. BAM! Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
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YOU GUYS, I DID IT! I can hardly believe it. Click here if you want to read about it. This isn't really a running blog and I don't do timed splits or personal records or tempo run reviews. I mostly just try not to pee myself too bad while running. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
Posted 6 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
That and you being all "I am the only black blogger." BWAH AH AH AH AHAHAHAHA
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Today I had lunch plans for the second time in 2014. So exciting, this leaving the house during the workday thing. I hopped in Vicki, turned the ignition ... and nothing. Not even those little clicking noises that tell you all hope is not lost. Pffft. My friend picked me up so we could still see each other and we talked about how like, yeah, I can handle this. (Beloved is out of town and has been during the week since basically the end of January). So FUCK YEAH WOMAN POWER. Vicki was in the garage, but I remembered how when I was in college and won a trip to the Bahamas at a sit-through-our-time-share-pitch-and-win-fabulous-prizes meeting and we drove 24 hours from Iowa to the tip of Florida and left the car and when we got back three days later the car was dead and surrounded on all sides and we begged some guy with a jump pack to bail us out after freaking out. And Beloved looked at me with that face he makes when confronted with my spectacular lack of common sense and asked, "Why didn't you just roll the car back?" So today! I knew what to do. I rolled Vicki back and out of the garage, and my neighbor came over and gave me a jump, then I left the little angel jumping on a different neighbor's trampoline and drove to the auto parts store. He took one look at Vicki (which is disgustingly filthy because I was going to wash her tonight but OH BEST-LAID PLANS) and groaned. "A convertible," he said, and I knew this meant bad things. Yes, the battery is located inside the wheel well and you have to put it on a lift and take the tire off to get to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Rock on, Iowa!
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2014 on Ten Long Years at Surrender, Dorothy
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Hi Kir! This is like Christmas.
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2014 on Ten Long Years at Surrender, Dorothy
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I'd love to post it, but once someone tried to get me fired from my last job for my liberal potty mouth, so I'm cautious about stuff like that. Though I know it's not that hard to find me. I'm thinking maybe I will find my favorite three posts from the last ten years and mash them up.
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2014 on Ten Long Years at Surrender, Dorothy
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Hi Celeste!
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2014 on Ten Long Years at Surrender, Dorothy
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Not even the one with your name. They failed me.
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I love that website so so much.
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2014 on Ten Long Years at Surrender, Dorothy
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Yay!
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2014 on Ten Long Years at Surrender, Dorothy
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Wow, Goodreads! Hi, Gennie!
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2014 on Ten Long Years at Surrender, Dorothy
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So ... I'm never sure if anyone is still reading my new posts, but if you are ... next month is Surrender, Dorothy's ten- year anniversary. What would you like to see? Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
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My girl and I were watching The Voice tonight when suddenly there are ads for all manner of terrifying television and movies. Ghosts, possessed mirrors and Rosemary's Fucking Baby. Hold the phone. Rosemary's Baby? The show? Episode six: Baby with Reflux Steals Souls. In all seriousness, that was one terrifying movie. I saw parts of it as an adult and could barely bear the concept. I looked over at my daughter who was not even able to sit through the first twenty minutes of The Lord of the Rings and wondered what happened to my ability to share a few hours of Adam Levine throwing Blake Shelton under the rug. What the fuck is wrong with the sales guys for NBC? There are usually ads for reality design shows and Fords, not Baby Pampers Prince of Darkness. At bedtime, my daughter asked more about the baby and the show and worried that she might be scared. So I dug deep and did what I do in these situations: I made shit up. I told her that when they were making the original movie, they would have contests to see who could put the funniest thing in the stroller and then pretend it was scary. A Cabbage Patch Kid. A puppy. The winner was Mia Farrow, who used a watermelon. It was a renowned contest that went down in Hollywood history. Pay no attention to the man in the corner with a gun. Pray for Rosemary's Watermelon. And NBC, go back to your blood pact with Cadillac. Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
The words have been coming hard lately. I reach for them, and they just blow away. Sometimes there's no "there" there. Stories need tension and conflict to survive. Good sentences aren't enough to carry a novel. Strength isn't enough to win a wrestling match. It's all about the execution. I practice and practice these sentences, pulling out the equivalent of four sweaters' worth of sentence threads in frustration. I just can't get it right, and that's such an exquisite pain. I could scream, but everyone would ask why. I don't know how to explain the pain of havin gna idea but not the talent to get it just right. I listen to music and wonder how the songwriter knew when to stop. Of all the things I am, "writer" is such a small part. It barely makes a dent in our financial landscape, at least the extracurricular part. I'm not sure how such a small bit of what the world sees can be such a huge part of my struggle to be here on this planet. The messy paragraphs going nowhere sometimes wake me up at night. Entire plots for stories play out in my dreams, and I wake up thinking how I should write them down, but I don't, because I'm still fighting with the book that is in my now. I have no energy left over for the book that might be in a few years. When I'm fifty. When I'm sixty. When I'm nearly dead. I know, in my heart of hearts, that more than a quarter million books are published each year. I know I will not be read by even the number of people who buy off-brand milk in one week. If I were realistic, then, I would not torture myself about getting these sentences... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I think it's a case of "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is." (sigh)
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I really want someone to come clean my house for me. I don't want to pay $100 for it. This is what leads me down the Groupon road, over and over, except this is what happens every single time. 1) Get email from Groupon that includes some half-price home cleaning service. 2) Buy Groupon. Think giddily about clean house with no effort on my part. Print Groupon out and stroke it lovingly. 3) Schedule cleaning. Always at least three months out, because whatever. Put appointment on calendar. 4) Day of cleaning arrives. So excited. 5) Time of cleaning service's arrival arrives. Peer out window hopefully. 6) Hours go by. No cleaning service. Call cleaning service. Email cleaning service. 7) Days go by. No call from cleaning service. No email from cleaning service. 8) Email Groupon and ask for refund. Three times this has happened. THREE TIMES. The only thing that I can determine is that cleaning services do not think through what will happen if they suddenly get a whole bunch of new customers. I can't imagine just ignoring an assignment for my work without providing any explanation at all. I would not be upset if someone had called me a day ahead and asked to reschedule. But just to have nobody show up at all is beyond bizarre and irritating. One would think that I would stop eagerly buying the Groupons that turn into Groupon credits when once again a completely new and different cleaning service just fails to show. I have to get this through my thick skull, so I am writing about it so I will have this post to look back on when once again I am tempted to think I can get someone to clean even part of my house for $40. It ain't happening,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
In the past week or so I've written on BlogHer about Gwyneth Paltrow telling us it's harder to be a movie-star parent than an office-worker parent, things you'll miss while spring cleaning, why I really didn't like The Muppets Most Wanted, whether I'd save Beloved or the little angel if they were both hanging off a cliff, and what Fred Phelps saw when he died -- but by far the best comment I got this week was on a post I wrote about struggling with Beloved's travel. The post was shared on BlogHer's Facebook page and the comment appeared there and got pulled over to BlogHer via Livefyre. When I went to read it, I realized the commenter probably didn't realize I've worked full-time for BlogHer since 2009. But still. Hilarious. Scroll down. Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
My daughter steals my iPhone when she's bored. I keep taking all the games off, and she keeps putting them back on. I don't like to play video games, and they suck a ton of space. Every time she grabs it, I think about how much she could learn about me if she wanted to. How much of ourselves we carry around on these little machines. Not only whom we call but how we choose to name those people in our contact lists. I actually labeled Beloved as "husband" in my contact list because I am a paranoid worrier and I thought it would be handy for someone searching through my phone to figure out whom to call when they found my mangled body by the side of the road. (those are called "instrusive thoughts," but at least I have my husband labeled in my phone) I have receipts for all her birthday presents in my gmail, as well as long conversations I've had with friends about different aspects of parenting her. My banking app tells how much money we do or don't have. My pedometer shows how far I ran last, how long it took me to do it and what the altitude of my climb amounted to before I was done. And that's not even touching Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. I wonder if she realizes all this information about her mother is in her hands when she opens the Games folder and chooses between Monster Hair, Crazy Facts or Subway Surf. I don't ask, because I don't want to plant that suggestion. And yes, I often think about whether or not I want to give voice to something I don't want someone to do because I'm afraid the mere mention of that thing will make them stop at... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Fred Phelps, Sr., former leader of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, is dead. He died on Wednesday night in hospice care. Phelps hit the international news scene when he and his church protested Matthew Shepherd's funeral in 1998 bearing signs that reflect their website's URL: God Hates Fags. I live in Kansas City. I had never heard of Fred Phelps until I went to a Lipizzaner horse show in Topeka with a friend and was shocked to see a group of people holding up signs saying in ten or twelve different ways that God, and they, hate homosexual people. What that had to do with horses, I have no idea. I asked my friend what was going on, and she sighed and explained who they were, what they stood for, what they'd been doing, what they continued to do and still continue to do on and on for years after I drove past them, my mouth hanging open in shock and my skin tingling with rage. Please read the rest on BlogHer. Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
If you'll be at BlogHer '14 in San Jose, please come visit the Writing Lab. On Friday, July 24 from 2:30-4 pm, you'll find the following people there: Writing Lab | Be Your Own Editor Writing is hard. This lab will help make it a little easier for you by making those rough drafts a little smoother, that copy a bit tighter, and those headlines a little more zingy. Like any good cook will tell you, it's much easier at the end if you clean as you go. Tidy up your work as you write it with these tips for catchy and inspiring headlines, insights into how an *editor* approaches a writer's first draft differently than the *writer* does, and the grammar refreshers we all know we can use, even if we don't want to admit it! Instructors: Arnebya Herdon and Rita Arens (grammar clinic) Julie Ross Godar (headline bootcamp) Meiko Patton and Susan Goldberg (what to do with your first draft) I like nothing better than to sit around geeking out over "that" versus "which," so it's a guaranteed good time! In all seriousness, understanding the rules of grammar and punctuation give you confidence -- and that confidence translates not only into better writing but also into the promotion of said writing. No one wants to be the guy on ESPN whose tweet gets picked up saying "your the best!" (seen recently, no lie) NO ONE WANTS TO BE THAT GUY. If you want a badge of your own (even if you're not speaking, you totally don't have to be, that's just what MY badge says), go here for badge code. Also -- if you have any grammar quandaries you'd like us to address, leave them here in the comments! Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy