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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
Recent Activity
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 2 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
Oh, I do. You know I do.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on This Is Tween at Surrender, Dorothy
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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 7 days ago 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 7 days ago 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
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 Mar 1, 2015 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 Feb 27, 2015 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
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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