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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
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thank you, Kirsten. :)
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on The Sky at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Today my daughter looked up and said, "Mama, no matter how fast we drive, we never reach that cloud. Do we all see the same sky?" And I said, "Yes. There's only one sun. One moon. We all see it." This month, I am happy and sad for us. I am happy that same-sex couples can now be recognized as spouses anywhere in the U. S. I am sad that we laid to rest yet more black humans who did no harm. All they did was be black. Again. And I think, we all see the same moon. We all see the same sun. We all have bones beneath our different-colored skin. We all love and seek love in return. We all live under the same sky. I am happy and sad for us. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
A month and a half ago, Beloved and I began merrily ripping apart the deck on the back of Chateau Travolta. It's a big deck, around the size of my first Kansas City apartment, and it had railings and a rickety pergola, as well. Since then, we've braved torrential rains and searing heat to tear the deck down to the joists and begin building it back. (If you like home improvement posts, I'll be blogging this when it's done.) Nothing has been as entertaining as the search for the elusive Cabot Australian Timber Oil in Honey Teak. The elusive Cabot. Goddamn it, you will not break me. There is no evidence I can find that this color is discontinued. However, I have only been able to track its movements one gallon at a time across Ace Hardware store websites that claim a gallon is at this store or that store, but when you buy it online and then drive to said store, the Cabot has already moved on. I'm so sorry, Mrs. Arens, we don't have two gallons. We only have one. Our inventory system was just joking. Sometimes, I'll drive to a store and it will be there. Sometimes the cashier will stare dumbly at me while waving for another employee to hurry up and come deal with this woman who has a coupon that I have never seen before did she print it at home is she a felon I don't know so I'll just stare. Why don't I buy more than one gallon at a time? See above. And the price! It varies wildly. I have paid $59, $44 and $10.95 for identical gallons of the elusive Cabot, the latter after a request for a twenty-mile, across-metro, in-store transfer that ended with, "Bobby says why don't you... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
When I lived in Chicago, my grandparents died in very close proximity. Collapsed by grief on the airplane home for their funerals, I remember feeling, really feeling, the texture of the seat and being surprised by it. Being comforted by it, by doing just this one thing, feeling the material. Only in times of extreme grief did I give myself permission to live in the moment, back then. I have a bad habit of cataloging all the tasks in every area of my life when my body is engaged in manual activities and my mind starts to wander. I've done it since the idea of homework was introduced in elementary school and I was shocked to learn I'd be responsible for something that needed to be done in the future of my own volition. I find it difficult to put off tasks that I know need to be done. This summer, I'm focusing on feeling the texture of every piece of material. The sound of the wind rattling the leaves and the 17-year cicadas hissing in the treetops. Sunshine on my shoulders and the instant sweat evaporates when the wind picks up on my runs. When I wake up in the morning (sometimes now drenched in sweat, thanks, perimenopause), I'm taking a least five minutes by my alarm clock to listen to the sounds of the house and find that floating place between sleep and wakefulness one last time. Instead of listing in my head the tasks I need to accomplish each day, I'm trying to float, to prepare myself to be resilient to whatever might come my way instead of trying to head it off before it even happens. I've always wanted to be that one zen guy in every trapped-on-a-desert-island movie who lies on the beach while everyone... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
We sat behind a family at the Billy Joel concert. Mom, dad, older sister, her husband, younger sister, her bestie, son, girlfriend. The girls, at least, had clearly grown up listening to their parents' Billy Joel albums, because they kept getting each other's attention and doing dance moves choreographed sometime between size 6x and the juniors section. I loved watching them. Also, they were almost the youngest people there. Beloved and I, at 41, were bringing down the average age of the crowd in our section all by ourselves, and these glorious children young adults were probably fifteen years younger than we are. I sat (because you sit when you're old and surrounded by other old people terrified to have another beer lest they have to once again roust the entire row to use the restroom) and thought how nice it must be to be Billy Joel and see your music unite so many generations. Or just to be someone capable of filling stadiums for decades. For DECADES. Props, Billy Joel. Then he sang a song I'd heard he said he wouldn't ever sing again because he kept forgetting the lyrics: "We Didn't Start the Fire." These are those lyrics: Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye Eisenhower, Vaccine, England's got a new queen Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye We didn't start the fire It was always burning Since the world's been turning We didn't start the fire No we didn't light it But we tried to fight it Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron Dien... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
I haven't been here because I've been at BlogHer writing a ton lately about ... so many things. If you're so inclined ... How Jill Nystul's 'One Good Thing' Blog Became Her 'One Good Life' Memoir -- Jill talks about one good thing every day to a crazy-huge audience. She's just released a memoir to tell the world why. How to Sound Like an Authority Figure -- It's an art and a science, right? Marriage Contracts: Should We Have Marital Term Limits? -- I wrote this post a few years ago, but I recently read THE NEW I DO and revisited my post to start the conversation over. What More Can We Say About Baltimore and Freddie Gray? -- This was the hardest post to write, very late at night and vetted by trusted women of color. How to Measure Your Blogging Success Without Using Metrics -- There's more than one way to determine your ROI. SheWrites Publisher Kamy Wicoff on Her First Novel, 'Wishful Thinking' -- I identify with Kamy in so many ways, and coming to novel-writing later in life is one of them. Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Yes, thank you for asking! It was a benign lipoma.
Toggle Commented Apr 30, 2015 on The Piece of Glass at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Somehow my life has become reduced to a rectangle of plastic and glass that I hold in my palm. When I first got it, I both mourned the actual clickable buttons of the obsolete Blackberry and longed to stroke the smooth glass screen of my brand new iPhone 4. Now there are days when I want to use the piece of glass to tell the world something, but I tap and I tap and nothing happens. It can reduce an adult human to tears. It's now a 5S. I guess this matters. Why? When the glass is unresponsive, I feel like a chimpanzee. Because there is a social expectation now that we will respond, to anyone's request, no matter when it was made. I take back my boundaries. I love you, my friends, but the 24/7 nature of communication is more than I can bear, so as not to be rude, I take my leave. I just can't. Keep. Up. I typed this all out on a little glass box. How odd. Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Last week, BlogHer Co-founder Lisa Stone talked to President Obama about women, wages & the future. Here are the highlights, along with commentary from members of the blogging community. Pretty cool, eh? Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Hey y'all. A cool company in Missouri sent me a wooden watch. I reviewed it on Surrender, Dorothy: Reviews here. It's less than $150 and totally cool. You should check them out. Fun with Photoshop! JORD Wooden Watches Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
"Do you want the children's menu?" the hostess asked, flicking her eyes over my girl on her eleventh birthday. It seemed awfully small for The Cheesecake Factory, a place with a menu that sells advertising. We took it, anyway. When we got to the booth, the little angel informed us she is no longer allowed to eat from that menu, as it is for children ten and under. We told her she probably wouldn't get arrested or anything, but she seemed proud of the fact that it was LEGALLY AGAINST THE LAW for her to order off that menu. I sat there scarfing down the tiny bread that comes in the little basket and is just enough to kick your blood sugar into high gear but not enough to take the edge off your hunger if you ate a really little lunch because hello, you were going to The Cheesecake Factory, her birthday favorite and grandfather of America's portion-size issues, for dinner, and while I tried to make myself chew instead of just swallowing the doughy goodness whole, a sea of children's menus flashed before my eyes. Hot dogs Chicken fingers Cheeseburger sliders Cheese pizza Macaroni & cheese Applesauce Fruit cup French fries Scoop of vanilla ice cream It's not that I'm nostalgic for the children's menu. It's full of food that we all pretend is disgusting and then lick off our kids' plates after we finish our salad and they leave half a perfectly good chicken finger for which we paid hard-earned money, dammit. I don't miss the little kid days, actually. She was adorable, to be sure, but when I look back at the pictures we took of that time, I can see the exhaustion in my face and remember the feeling of OH MY GOD I CAN'T... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Congratulations Rachel Patrick for winning a copy of THE OBVIOUS GAME in my Rafflecopter giveaway! The Goodreads giveaway is still open until tonight. Goodreads Book Giveaway The Obvious Game by Rita Arens Giveaway ends April 06, 2015. See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter to win Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Results for my Rafflecopter giveaway should be available tomorrow. Thanks for playing the YA Scavenger Hunt! Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
I stole this idea from Leilani Haywood. :)
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Two years ago, I sold all my gold jewelry to buy my daughter an iPod Touch for her birthday. It was nicer than my first iPhone, but she wanted to say she had a phone, anyway, even though she admitted the Touch is shinier and faster and yes, better. It didn't matter: Semantics are what they are. Six months ago, my husband told me even phones not connected to a plan can call 911. That night, I cleared out my old phone and handed it to her. *crickets* I have worked in online publishing in one format or another since 1999. I've read danah boyd. I've talked to friends with older kids. I always knew a day would come when my girl realized she could use those iThings to talk to her friends whether we gave her phone service or not via the glory that is wifi. I'm sitting here on the couch with her phone and iTouch charging next to me while her father reads with her in bed. She's not in trouble; I'm just enforcing the rule I made in my head three years ago: Once she starts emailing and texting, from 8:40 pm to 6:40 am those devices stay with me. I've just never had to do this before. I'm flummoxed. My girl will be eleven next weekend. She asked tonight if I had trouble resisting the siren song of my first smartphone, and I was all, "Well, I was 34 and had better impulse control, so not so much." I remember, though, the giddiness of having Liz Gumbinner show me Twitter for the first time at a conference and realizing we could totally pass notes in class without booting a laptop and OMG THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. It wasn't so much the tech I was excited about.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Oh, I do. You know I do.
Toggle Commented Mar 26, 2015 on This Is Tween at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
It's nearly time again for the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt. (woot) We have eight outstanding teams this season. I am going to be a part of #TeamOrange. The Scavenger Hunt runs from April 2nd through April 5th beginning and ending at noon Pacific time on those days. If you've never been a part of the hunt before, you should give it a try. It runs like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books along the way. There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team! For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website. You don't want to miss out on this fabulous and fun event, but play fast because the hunt is only live for three days.And now, here are the teams! (Hint: If you click on the image you can get a close up) I hope you are all as excited as I am! THE HUNT BEGINS 4/2/15! Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
In the past week, my daughter has begged me not to sing when there were no other people in the car because it was embarrassing, accused me of having bad breath and stolen my favorite chair. Twice. I'm documenting this for my mother. Payback, Ma. You're getting payback. Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
After our family visited Grant's Farm last summer, we fell in love with the Budweiser Clydesdales. My husband tried to surprise us with a stop at Warm Springs Ranch one weekend as we puttered east back to Kansas City after a writing conference in St. Louis, but alas, it was a no-go. Warm Springs Ranch is where the magic begins: Clydesdale foals. Unfortunately for us that day, the gates were locked. You have to make an appointment to get a tour, which we didn't know. But now we do, and so do you. And we got invited to go! So here are all my pictures. Sorry, folks, park's closed. Moose out in front should've told you. This time, the park was not closed. BABY CLYDESDALES FOR EVERYONE! I learned some things about Clydesdale birth. Mares are pregnant for eleven months and give birth in 5-25 minutes. (!) Because the labor happens so fast, the man in charge (John Soto) has an alarm that goes off when the foal's hooves break open a special device installed in the mare's birth canal. Once it starts, it goes fast because the foals weigh about 150 pounds and gravity exists. Look closely. There's 150 pounds of foal in there that will be born within six days. Once the mares get within thirty days of their due dates, they get beautiful, huge stalls in the special foaling area and are only taken outside to the exercise paddocks instead of the full pastures. Everything from breeding to foaling happens in this big, red barn in Boonville, Missouri. I don't know how much time you've spent in barns, but most of them do not look like this. One of the foals we saw was less than twelve hours old. When they are first born, the staff shave... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
The little angel is on spring break this week. Yesterday, we packed up our laptops and headed over to the library for a change of scenery. She had to make an ABC book, which is a document with a fact about the American Revolution for every letter of the alphabet and an accompanying picture. There was a lot of typing and formatting and then I crashed her buzz by explaining image copyright as she pulled willy-nilly from Google Images. This led to some frustration and a discussion of Wikimedia Commons and then she started down the tedious path of formatting everything again. After about two hours, she looked over at me. "This is boring," she said. "I think I'm getting a taste of what it's like to have a job." WELCOME TO THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, GRASSHOPPER. I've been writing a bit on BlogHer when I haven't been here: When Should You Let a Girl Start Shaving Her Legs? How to Fight Your Running Jealousy Have You Had These Running Injuries? When the Holidays Are Over and He Didn't Propose 3 Approaches for Organizing Your Closet Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Yesterday, Kizzy took the last of his Prednizone. It's been almost a month since he almost died again, and it seems like we got another reprieve. He's on a new kind of even more ridiculously expensive prescription cat food. This one is supposed to also help with stress, as stress apparently increases the chance he'll get blocked. Beloved and I avoid talking about a relapse even as we watch his litter box like parents of a newborn watch diapers. We made a barely spoken agreement that if the little black cat makes it a year without a blockage, he gets a medical expenses reset button even though he is working on being our most expensive cat to date, and that is saying something after adopting a Manx with megacolon. The hair is growing back on his front legs where they shaved him to put in IVs. He begs to be taken outside on his harness every morning the minute the birds start singing. He spends his afternoons, when it is nice, lying in the sun in his playpen outside. It is so hard not to worry constantly about him, since getting blocked is a) something that comes on suddenly with absolutely no warning and b) not something I can control, other than giving him the prescription food and nothing but the prescription food. Oddly, it gives me comfort to remind myself I could die tomorrow, too, and all we can do is enjoy the purring, velvety bundle of fur in my lap every night. What we have is today. Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Hi everyone - it's time again to pull out your red shoes (or, if you're like me, share the news about rocking red shoes because you don't own any) and use fashion to raise awareness for how much HIV/AIDS is still disproportionately affecting women of color. (And women in general, but really, really affecting women of color.) Some Facts There are approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and almost 280,000 are women. 1 in 139 women will be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at some point within their lives. Among those who are HIV positive, 35% of women were tested for HIV late in their illness (diagnosed with AIDS within one year of testing positive). HIV/AIDS is the 5th leading cause of death in women in the United States, ages 25-44. High-risk heterosexual contact is the source of 80% of these newly diagnosed infections in women. HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects minority women in the United States. According to the 2005 census, black and Latina women represent 24% of all US women combined, but accounted for 82% of the estimated total of AIDS diagnoses for women in 2005. HIV is the leading cause of death for black women aged 25–34 years. The only diseases causing more deaths of women are cancer and heart disease. The rate of AIDS diagnosis for black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women. Teen girls represent 39% of AIDS cases reported among 13–19-year-olds. Black teens represented 69% of cases reported among 13–19 year-olds; Latino teens represented 19%. How to Rock The Red Pump Share the hotness by uploading your pics on March 10 to your favorite spot (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, your blog, etc.) and tag them with #RockTheRedPump. Sign up to blog about... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Sometimes the setting in a book becomes a character, and that's something I tried very hard to do with my fictional small town of Snowden, Iowa, in my young adult novel THE OBVIOUS GAME. Recently I received an advanced copy of Keija Parssinen's THE UNRAVELING OF MERCY LOUIS, which is set in the tiny Southern oil town of Port Sabine, Texas. Even though it was below zero when I read this book, I could feel the thick, reeking air of this refinery town on the back of my neck. There is so much going on in this novel: the thrill of competition (basketball), a coach's place in a teen's life, first love, the complexity of lifelong friendships, difficult mother/daughter relationships, religion, Y2K fear, environmental and financial distress, fear of the community outlier, teenage sexuality and pregnancy and health complications so unusual I had to look them up because I didn't believe they existed, but guess what: They do. Every time I thought I knew what would happen next, I was wrong. It was that good. I'm actually still thinking about it a few days later and have recommended it to four people since I read it. So if you like thinky-but-thrilling books, you should read this one. I haven't read Keija's first novel yet, but as I'm the sort of person who falls in love with authors more than books, I'm going to put it on my to-be-read list. Here's a picture of Keija, who has absolutely nothing going for her except diplomas from Princeton and the Iowa Writers' Workshop (where she was a Truman Capote fellow) and a Michener-Copernicus Award. So I am totally not the only person who thinks her writing is very much worth your copious free time. I know, and she's cute. Try not to hate... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy