Archive | May 2012

Man of the House

Most TV shows only serve as passing entertainment, a brief escape from the reality of our own lives.  But every once in awhile a show comes along that resonates with us on a different level, and we become emotionally entangled with the cast of characters.  We race to the television when the show airs and only an act of God will get our ass up off the couch during that timeslot.  I can count on one hand the number of TV programs that have had this effect on me, two more profoundly than the others.

When I was young, the show that served as the backdrop to my childhood was Little House on the Prairie.  The Ingalls family, despite their poverty and lack of indoor plumbing, was everything I wished my own dysfunctional family could be – happily tucked underneath one roof.  I lived vicariously through Laura; all of her triumphs and tragedies became my own.  I admired her spunk, tenacity, and complete unwillingness to take any crap from Nellie Olsen.

Twenty years after Little House on the Prairie got blown off the map, another TV drama was created; one centered on a different kind of house.  Though far less warm and sunny than the house in Walnut Grove, Dr. Gregory House, M.D. would still manage to charm his way into my heart.

Back in 2004, I was on the phone with my best friend, Helen, and during our conversation she told me about a new TV show she was hooked on – House.  I had never heard of it before, but she promised that I would love the show’s main character, Dr. House.  I was still mourning the loss of Dr. Greene from the show ER from 2002, and wasn’t overly eager to invest myself in another medical drama.  But after some persistence on her part, I agreed to at least check it out.

I cried like someone killed my own mother when Dr. Greene died.

At first glance, Dr. House appeared to be a grumpy, unshaven, pain in the ass that doled out insults just as much as he did prescriptions.  It was clear by the way he treated his patients that he had skipped out on medical school the day they taught bedside manner.  He didn’t hold their hand or sugarcoat the truth during his quest for a diagnosis.  And he never relied on the patient to help him solve the medical mystery (in fact, he rarely spoke to them at all) because according to House rule #1, everybody lies.

But underneath his gruff exterior (which, I’ll grant you, was difficult to get passed at first), I discovered that he had a lot of qualities I admired:

He wasn’t interested in self-promotion or praise for a job well done, which if you think about it, saved his patients money on thank you cards and edible arrangements.

He pursued the truth like a demon, and steamrolled through the social mores and legal red tape that stood in his way of finding a diagnosis.  Personally, I’d rather have a doctor that cures me (by any means necessary) than one that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

He had no fear about speaking his mind, even if it meant putting his own well-being or job in jeopardy to do it.  Granted, that could be an earmark for a borderline personality disorder, but still, an admirable quality.

He lived his life in perpetual pain, but didn’t let that stop him from doing his job.  He just popped a few dozen Vicodin pills, and went about the business of saving lives.

He also didn’t let his physical limitations stop him from riding a motorcycle – which I really appreciated because I’ve always had a thing for guys who ride motorcycles…. and look smokin’ hot while doing it.

I loved all these qualities, but they weren’t what kept me coming back week after week.  What kept me glued to my TV screen every Monday night for the past eight years were the rare moments when a co-worker or patient would find their way behind his defenses and expose his humanity.  When that happened he got this look of pure vulnerability on his face that completely unraveled me.

Long before E.L. James’ character Christian Grey (in Fifty Shades of Grey) got his first emotional scar, Gregory House had cornered the market on being screwed up.  And like Christian, House managed to win the heart of his Anastasia Steele, in the form of Lisa Cuddy….

That was the moment House fans had waited six seasons to watch.  Sadly, unlike Anastasia Steele, Cuddy found it exhausting to fill the role of mother, girlfriend, psychiatrist, and parole officer, and she eventually crumpled beneath the burden of House’s emotional baggage.  Their relationship was over so quickly I felt like I had dreamt all of season seven.

But even though the show was the complete antithesis of happily ever after, it still managed to keep me laughing as the story unfolded.  So thanks for the ride, House.  I will miss your sarcastic sense of humor, your gift for intuitive observations, and your stunning blue eyes.

I guess it’s time to go find another TV obsession.  But in the meantime, I have NO idea what the hell I’m going to do with myself on Monday nights.  When I checked the TV listings for that night, all I came up with was The Bachelorette… I think I’d rather stick to House reruns.

Do any of you have a TV show obsession?

When Did Prince Charming Get So Twisted?

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a prince.  Even in his infancy the King and Queen recognized their son’s appeal, so they decided to name him Prince Charming.  As the prince grew up, his royal parents breathed a sigh of relief because they knew he would live up to his name.  They later admitted, “We took a bit of a chance.  Thank God he turned out the way he did.  It would have been pretty embarrassing to have an ugly, socially awkward son named Prince Charming.”

When the prince wasn’t making royal appearances at balls or waving to peasants from atop his white horse, he enjoyed acting in local plays.   He had managed to get some bit parts with the Brothers Grimm, but didn’t rise to true stardom until Walt Disney discovered him in 1937 and cast him in their classic movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Even though he was only referred to as “the prince” in the credits, he was still pretty psyched to star in his first feature film.  He had girls of all ages, and even a few of their mothers, swooning over him and singing, “Someday my prince will come…”

“I’m here to save you from the little men who treat you like a slave.”
“My hero… wait, are you wearing lipstick?”

Thirteen years later (though amazingly enough, he looked like hadn’t aged at all), Walt Disney finally gave Prince Charming the credit he deserved in the movie Cinderella.  He friends could no longer tease him about being cast as the generic prince because his name was right there in black and white.  After that, he was a household name and the source of many women’s fantasies.  Female peasants mobbed him every time he left the castle, and he was getting more princess ass than he knew what to do with.

I wonder if she’ll let me take off more than her glass slipper after the ball….

But all good things, no matter how charming, must come to an end.  Right around the time women were (symbolically) burning their bras and Aretha Franklin was demanding respect, Prince Charming died.  But his legacy lived on.  His genetic lineage is a bit hard to trace – probably because he spent several decades sowing his wild oats in a lot of royal (and occasionally, not so royal) beds.  But in 2005, after years of exhaustive research, a genealogist managed to track down one of his modern day heirs.  You might have heard of him – his name is Edward Cullen.

If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it…

Though far more sulky and sparkly than his royal ancestor, he still manages to score big with the ladies.  It seems women love him despite his overly protective, often controlling behavior, and his prudish, old-fashioned ideals in the bedroom.  They don’t even seem to mind the fact that he’s about as cuddly as Michelangelo’s David.  I’m guessing his appeal has something to do with his brute strength, and his enormous bankroll (no, that’s not a euphemism for his penis… the guy really is stinkin’ rich.)

Edward not only sweeps girls off their feet, he also carries them high into treetops and races with them through dense forests.  Holy crap, you should see him run – Usain Bolt has got nothin’ on this guy!  And much like his charming predecessor, he’s got the saving damsels in distress gig down pat.  He’s definitely the guy you want to have around if you ever find yourself surrounded by a pack of drunken townies in a dark alley.  Although girls should be warned that he has a bit of a temper (especially around gorgeous werewolves), and occasionally gets the maddening urge to drink your blood.  But other than that, he’s usually the picture of chivalry and self-restraint.

Then in 2012, the same genealogist that discovered Edward’s lineage also found another member of Prince Charming’s family.  This heir was far harder to track down because he was given up for adoption as a small child – and you know how hard it can be to cut through all that legal red tape and unseal court documents.  But somehow, (probably through the magic of ancestry.com), Christian Grey was discovered.

Though Christian was proud to find out about his heritage and carry on the family tradition of making horny women swoon, he knew there was also a high price to pay.  Christian heard about how difficult it was for his cousin Edward to leave the house without having screaming women throw themselves at his feet, so he decided to maintain his anonymity for as long as possible.  With the help of his throng of bodyguards and his ability to fly off in his private jet on a moment’s notice, he has managed to elude the paparazzi thus far.  But even though he hasn’t been caught on film yet, there is a lot of speculation about what he might look like.  Here are some of the possibilities being talked about around the office water cooler:

                         

All smokin’ hot prospects, if you ask me.

Even though Christian Grey is reluctant to show his face, he was more than willing to pour his heart out to writer and author, E.L. James, who subsequently wrote his biography entitled Fifty Shades of Grey.  Given Christian’s laundry list of complexities, E.L. wasn’t able to capture his whole life story in just one book, so she wrote a trilogy – all of which landed on the New York Time’s bestseller list.  Apparently, when it comes to brooding, broken-down, billionaires the world just can’t seem to get enough.

Fifty Shades of Grey SNL Skit – HYSTERICAL!

While Christian seems to have inherited his family’s stunningly good looks, massive fortune, and (of course) winning charm, this contemporary Prince Charming is not without his faults.  Before you jump on the Grey bandwagon ladies, there are a few things you should know about him.  Here are just five of his fifty shades….

1.  You can run, but you can’t hide.  No really, you can’t.  If he wants to find you, he will.  Privacy and stalker laws be damned, he will hunt you down.  He knows people.

2.  You’re not allowed to touch him.  EVER.  You can tousle his hair a bit, but if you lay one wandering finger on him, he will have you physically restrained before you can say the words control freak.

3.  You don’t want him to buy you ridiculously expensive gifts?  Tough shit, he’s gonna do it anyway.  He’ll send you so many packages, you’ll think he’s got the UPS guy on his payroll.

4.  He has major food issues.  He’s like a Jewish mother and Italian grandmother all rolled into one.  When you sit down for a meal with him, he doesn’t care that you might not feel hungry – YOU.  WILL.  EAT.  If you don’t eat of your own accord, he will nag you incessantly until you do.

5.  He’s got a “red room of pain” in his house.  And among his many implements of torture, is an entire drawer dedicated solely to butt plugs.  Yep, you heard me – butt plugs.  I’ll just let that one sink in for a while….

The Prince Charming clan certainly has come a long way, haven’t they?  The men of that family have gone from sweeping girls off their feet to strapping them down in their bondage playroom.   But Christian’s semi-sadistic tendencies haven’t deterred his faithful followers at all.  If anything, his threats of corporal punishment have caused orgasmic explosions to go off like fireworks on the Fourth of July!

From the twenty-somethings right on up to the senior set, there are panties catching fire all over the world.  So what is it about these men that make even the most independent, liberated women go weak at the knees?  Inquiring minds want to know….

Caution: Reading Fifty Shades of Grey may cause swooning….
do not read while in a standing position.

With a Little Help From My Friends

Get Write Down To It has gotten its first blog makeover!  And I owe it all to my friend, Jeff – Buck, to those that know him best.  He’s a very talented graphic design artist and photographer.  Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself… go on… I dare ya….http://www.jdmcreative.com/index.htm

I met Buck my sophomore year of college, twenty years ago.  His easy-going nature and comical sense of humor drew me in immediately, and after only a few minutes, I felt like I had known him for years.  My major (at the time) was Marine Biology, and his was graphic design – which meant that while I was trying to memorize two-hundred different species of algae, he was making really cool looking dragons out of wire hangers.  Which, if you ask me, was monumentally unfair.  But I guess I shouldn’t complain because he also did stuff like this….

Much like the classical conditioning of Pavlov’s dogs,
Buck still gets severe hand cramps whenever he sees my face.

That’s not computer generated, folks.  He made that beautifulportrait of me completely by hand (just for perspective – it’s about 27 x 22), and gave it to me as a present for my 20th birthday – to this day, it’s one of the best gifts I ever got.  It now hangs in my living room for all to see… and think I’m a total narcissist.

Fast-forward twenty years…  (Marriages, mortgages, kids, careers, blah, blah, blah…)

When I started this blog, nearly four months ago, I immediately thought of Buck.  I ran to him, and pled my case of artistic ineptitude and techno-tardiness (What?  It’s totally a word).  And like the Superman of the art world that he is, he swooped in and saved a damsel in distress.

Buck said that he would play around with some designs for me, which I really appreciated because I knew he was already busy working long hours running his own business (http://www.jdmcreative.com/index.htm …. another shameless plug.  You’ll probably be getting another one of those in just a minute).  I didn’t give him much to work with – when he asked me what I was looking for, I said I wanted the design to have something to do with writing.  Could I be any more vague?  Probably not.

I only knew I wanted something that represented a writer’s blog better than the pretty blue flowers that were already up there (the “bouquet” theme on wordpress has pink, blue, or orange flowers that come preset).  Flowers don’t really have anything to do with writing, but when I set up my blog I knew I liked the color blue, and I liked flowers – see why I needed his help?

I think he did an amazing job!  The header is a glimpse into what I look like during my editing phase – have I mentioned I’m a compulsive editor?  I chew on my blog a thousand times before I spit it out to the masses.  If there are still typos in it when I’m done, it’s only because my eyes were too glazed over to see them.

Anyway…. back to the artsy stuff…

So, if there is anyone out there who needs help advertising their business (or blog!), Jeff does website design, brochures, videos, pictures and a whole slew of other artsy/ technical stuff that I don’t know anything about.  He’s also an awesome photographer.  He has the ability to make everyone that sits down in front of his lens appear photogenic.  I’m not sure how he does it…. I’m assuming he must have sold his soul in exchange for some sort of magical photography powers.  It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

If you visit his website and tell him Linda sent you, he’ll give you a free baby kangaroo!  I don’t know where he gets them… I try not to ask too many questions.

http://www.jdmcreative.com/index.htm

Click here for your free baby kangaroo

Meeting an American Legend

The year was 1989:  there was poofy hair and acid-wash denim as far as the eye could see.  I was a sophomore in high school, and just getting into the music scene.  I had never been to a concert before, but I had gotten my first real job that year, and for once, had a little extra money in my pocket to spend on weekend entertainment.

On the spur of the moment, a couple of friends and I decided to go see James Taylor in concert at the Jones Beach Amphitheater.  I wasn’t very familiar with his music, but figured that I knew enough of his greatest hits to make it worth the cost of the ticket.  We showed up to the box office a couple hours before the show, and managed to score floor seats for only $20 a piece…. that makes me sound older than a bag of dirt, doesn’t it?

When James started singing, something deep down inside of me seemed to resonate with the music; I felt like I had swallowed a tuning fork set to the same frequency as his guitar.  He didn’t whip me into a fanatical frenzy or make my heart flutter wildly inside my chest – just the opposite, really.

At a time in my life when I was riding an emotional roller coaster, James introduced an element of peacefulness into my tumultuous teenage world.  And while most girls my age were shrieking and swooning over Bon Jovi and New Kids on the Block, I was hopelessly hooked on a balding, middle-aged man with an acoustic guitar.

That concert was the first of many – I went on to see him a dozen times over the course of the next two decades.  Every time he came anywhere near New York, I bought tickets.

Just a handful of my concert tees – I call them Taylor couture.

In that time I went from being a greatest hits fan, to owning every album he ever produced.  My iPod looks like the James Taylor music directory.  And I can sing along to all of them…. much to the chagrin of my two kids.

This is less than half of the James Taylor albums on there – I need a bigger screen.

Looking back, there is one concert that stands out vividly among the rest:  June 22, 2008.  Why that one concert in particular?  Because I got the chance to meet him, face to face….. well, sort of.  I’ll explain in a minute.

How do you think you’d react if you got the chance to meet a movie star or musician that you’ve idolized for years?  There are several ways to go:

  1. Shriek loud enough to make dogs in the next town howl, then attempt to catapult yourself over security and into the waiting arms of your idol.  (*Warning:  they probably won’t catch you.)
  1. Sob while at the same time trying to form words that express how much you worship and adore them (this one’s never pretty because there’s a lot of snot, spit, and tears involved).
  1. Faint at the sight of them, and hope the person is still there when you regain consciousness.
  1. Stand there completely paralyzed, unable to form a single word without feeling like you’re going to trip over your own tongue.  There’s usually a lot of internal activity going on inside the star-struck idiot:  blushing, heart palpitations, profuse sweating, butterflies in your stomach, jitters that resemble the DTs, etc.
  1.  Stay cool, calm, and collected.  Tell them you think they are the cat’s pajamas, wink, and then casually amble away like John Wayne.  (Do cool people say the cat’s pajamas anymore?  *Spoiler alert:  I didn’t choose this option).

I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to meeting James, but I was about to find out.  He usually takes the time to sign autographs for a few fans during his concert.  But I didn’t want his autograph. I wanted to give him something to show my appreciation for all he had done for me; all the times I played his music and he had unknowingly sung me off a ledge, or crooned me out of wanting to strangle somebody  – this came in particularly handy during the twelve hours I was in labor with my firstborn.  I’m pretty sure playing James Taylor songs during those pain filled hours is what saved my husband’s life.

What gift could you possibly give that says all that?  (*Hint:  it wasn’t a pair of socks.)  It was a poem.  Don’t laugh.  I was going through a very sappy, Hallmark card period of my life back then.  I had gotten the idea to write him a poem that used his own song titles in a way that expressed my feelings of appreciation and gratitude.  I thought it was kind of clever…. and yes, also kind of corny.  Okay, REALLY corny.  And because I cherish my readers more than my own dignity, I’ll embarrass myself, and share it with you (the song titles are in italics):

James

Perfect strangers look to you
To Shed A Little Light
They turn their radios on,
Praying Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

Your words of assurance
Helps guide them through just Another Day
Struggling to reach their goals,
You say it’s Enough To Be On Your Way

Your fans find comfort when you sing songs
Such as That’s Why I’m Here
They think How Sweet It Is to have found someone
Who can ease their darkest fear

To Mill Worker and Company Man alike,
You have sung your ode
You’ve shared with them the Secret O’ Life
And how to walk That Lonesome Road

And even in joyful times,
They love to see Your Smiling Face
When you sing Sunny Skies their Fire And Rain
Is gone without a trace

When at your concerts,
Your fans say Isn’t It Nice To Be Home Again
You Can Close Your Eyes and feel safe knowing
That somewhere You’ve Got A Friend

Okay, so I’m not Robert Frost.  Hell, I’m not even Robert Frost’s second cousin, once removed.  But I was kind of hoping that he would focus on the sentiment behind my pathetic lack of poetic talent.

I saw my window of opportunity open up right before the start of the second set.  A bunch of people rushed the stage and started begging him for his autograph.  This was the moment I had dreamed of for almost twenty years – I was going to meet James Taylor!!!  But rather than leaping to my feet and storming the stage like the other crazed fans, I sat frozen in my seat, grasping the laminated poem in my hands (yes, I had it laminated – it was an outdoor venue and in case it rained, I didn’t want it to get all wet and smeary.  Perfectly logical… and maybe slightly obsessive).

As the seconds ticked passed, I could see the window closing, but felt helpless to stop it.  Then my husband, Kevin, practically shoved me out of my seat, and reminded me that I would never be able to live with myself if I didn’t do it.  His threat of regret was enough to put my paralyzed limbs in motion.  I climbed over the 13 people in my row, and made my way to the stage, less than a hundred yards from where I stood.

Nervous doesn’t even BEGIN to describe how I was feeling.  My body kept vacillating between adrenaline rushes and nervous jitters.  My hair, which I had cemented into place with a can of hairspray, felt like it was melting beneath the sweaty steam rising off the top of my head.  I knew if another five minutes went by, I would look like I just stepped out of a sauna.

I didn’t really expect to make it passed security, but before I knew it I was standing up against the stage, a mere two feet away from him.  As he signed autographs, I just stared at him, completely star struck.  I tried to commit every detail to memory – I noted that he has really defined forearms.  Must be all that guitar strumming.  But I digress….

When he approached me, I handed him the (lovingly laminated) poem and stared at him, totally mute.  He looked at me like I just sprouted an orange tree out of my ear, and asked him if he’d like a glass of freshly squeezed juice.  I guess because everyone was handing him t-shirts and ticket stubs to sign, he had no idea what the hell I was giving him.  Finally my tongue unknotted itself, and I tried to offer him an explanation.  I said, “It’s for you.”

IT’S FOR YOU?!  I’ve had entire conversations with this man in my head since high school, and when I finally got the opportunity to do so IN REAL LIFE  I could only manage to squeak out three little words!  He took it, didn’t say a word, and went on to sign other autographs.  I don’t know if he didn’t hear me, or if he was just trying to back away from the scary stalker lady, but as the physical distance between us grew, I felt my window of opportunity slam shut.

As I stood there, stunned that I had let my golden opportunity slip through my clammy fingers, he circled back around to where I was standing.  I held out my ticket stub (mostly because I didn’t know what else to do).  He took it, quickly scribbled something, and gave it back.  I think he was hoping this would finally encourage me to exit, stage right.

I think his fear of sweaty stalkers made his hand shake too much to write legibly.
I’ve seen his normal signature, and this ain’t it.

Not exactly the picturesque moment I envisioned.  Clearly I’m incapable of acting like John Wayne under pressure.  But given the option between star-struck idiot and crazy Belieber-like fan, I think I took the high road…. or at least the road that didn’t involve me leaking bodily fluids all over my idol, screaming, or passing out.

Have any of you ever met anyone famous?  If so, did you make as much of an ass out of yourself as I did?  Please say yes….

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/teen-age-idol/

Confessions of an Emoticon Addict

I have an addiction for which there’s no twelve-step program or support group, making my hope of recovery dismal at best.  People sometimes ask me how my addiction got started.  Like most addictions, I suspect – in one brief moment of weakness.  I thought, “Hey, I’ll give it a try.  Everyone’s doing it.”  I didn’t see the harm in trying it, and I rationalized that I could stop whenever I wanted.  And in that one moment of keyboard experimentation, my emoticon addiction was born.

Long before I started texting, I was an avid emailer – that’s where my introduction to emoticons began.   At first, I used them sparingly; a single smiley face to emphasize a particularly funny joke.  I would sometimes go a couple of paragraphs without using a single emoticon.  Not ONE…. I know, hard to believe.  It’s been years now since my first emoticon, and I’m sad to report that my addiction has only grown stronger.

Only for emails?? That's just what the emoticons want you to think....

It’s gotten so bad that emoticons have nearly taken the place of proper punctuation when I write.  But in my own defense, what good is a period?  All it does is let the reader know that the sentence has come to an end, but leaves them wondering about the writer’s true emotional state.  For example:

“My grandmother died yesterday.”

After reading the above sentence, most readers would assume that the person is experiencing grief and depression at the loss of their beloved grandparent.  But what if Granny was geriatric hell on wheels and beat the grandkids with her cane every time they got within hugging distance?  A simple :- ) or :- ( placed at the end removes all doubt about the writer’s feelings, and spares the reader time spent on unnecessary speculation.  A smiley face at the end of that sentence might also save the reader money – no need to send a fruit basket or sympathy card if grandma was a total bitch, right?

And then texting came along, which only served to intensify my addiction – emoticons became my insurance policy against misinterpretation.  When you only have a sentence or two to convey your message, there is a lot of room for misunderstandings.  For example, you go out drinking with your friends, and you send your best friend this text the next morning:

“Quite a night last night, huh?”

Now your friend, who has a spotty recollection of the events that preceded their screaming hangover, is left to worry and wonder, “Oh no!  What did I do last night??”  Why not reassure them with a smiley face at the end of that sentence and let them know that they didn’t make a total drunken ass out of themselves?  With just a few extra hits of your phone’s keypad, you can make your friend’s blackout seem a whole lot less scary.

When I started texting with my thirteen-year old daughter, Meghan, about a year ago (click here for further details on that nightmare: My Two Left Thumbs), she took it upon herself to educate me about which emoticons were “acceptable for society” (yes, that’s a direct quote), and which ones weren’t.

The emoticon lesson came about because I unknowingly texted her an unacceptable smiley face that looked like this  :- ).  She actually rolled her eyes at me and said, “Mom, nobody makes them like that anymore.  That emoticon is SO old fashioned.”  Old fashioned?!  Seriously?  How can something that’s been around for less than a decade have a version that’s considered old fashioned?  It’s not like I’m making my emoticons out of sticks and rocks or painting them on cave walls.

When I asked her why it was old fashioned, she told me it was because of the nose.  So let me get this straight – just because teenagers are too lazy to make a dash for a nose, they decide to tell everyone that it’s not cool?  Brilliant.  I plan on implementing the same strategy with my family’s dirty laundry – I’ll tell my children that cool kids don’t wear clean clothes anymore.  Maybe if I roll my eyes and look at them like they’re stupid for wanting to wear clean underwear, they’ll believe me.

At the conclusion of my lesson, Meghan went on to text me ten or fifteen acceptable ways to show my emotions (to save me from future emoticon embarrassment).  Just to save you from the same, I’ll share her list with you (please note the lack of antiquated noses…. SO much cooler):

: )

:{ )   (the mustache smiley face, made cool by Victoria Justice – it makes me sad that I know that.)

: D

; )

; D

: p

: l

=)

=D

xD

Okay, I get it… just about any combination of eyes and mouths that the keypad can make, as long as the dash-noses stay the hell out of it.  But despite Meghan’s insistence, I still use a nose every now and then, coolness be damned.  One of the perks of not being a teenager anymore is the freedom to flaunt my old-fartyness without fear of peer persecution (though I’m sure I’ll still get progeny persecution from time to time).

Truth be told, I don’t use most of the emoticons on my daughter’s list, despite the apparent cool factor they bring to my text messages and emails.  I have more or less whittled my list down to three emoticons that I use for everything…. got stuck in an emoticon rut, I guess.  I think  : )   : ( and  ; )  pretty much cover all the emotional bases.  I tend to favor the winking emoticon because I know when I put it at the end of a sentence, I can be as sarcastic as I want and all will be forgiven.

I once surfed the web to find new emoticons because I was getting really bored with the three I was using.  I know…. I need to get a hobby.  But I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emoticons out there in cyberspace.  I knew when I saw smiley faces for Elvis, a priest, and a buck-toothed vampire missing one tooth, that I didn’t stand a chance in hell of EVER remembering any of the new emoticons.  After a few minutes, my brain shut down and decided that three was a really good number.  If you have a better memory than me, you can check out this  Ridiculously long list of emoticons.

Then in February 2012 my WordPress blog came along, and made my addiction even worse.  I didn’t think it was possible to depend on my emoticons more than I already did, but adding those stupid faces at the end of my comments has become an undeniable compulsion.  I wage a war inside my head every time I post a new comment or response – “Should I put a smiley face there?  No, I just used one two sentences ago!  It’ll look like I’m trying too hard.  But my last comment sounded kind of snarky.  What if they don’t know I’m only joking?  I NEED them to follow my blog!!  Screw it, I’m putting it in.”

I find that the compulsion gets worse if I’m writing to someone I don’t know well (especially on WordPress, where nearly everyone is a stranger).  I’m afraid that my teasing or sarcasm will be taken the wrong way, and I’ll accidentally piss somebody off.  But with friends and family, I know they’re familiar with my sense of humor, and won’t be as quick to think I’m an asshole….well….most of the time.

I think I may be too far gone at this point to even hope for a recovery from my addiction.  I can hardly remember a time before the invention of emoticons, a time when I trusted my words alone to express my feelings.  What the hell did I do back then to ensure that people knew when I was happy, sad, or only kidding??

My version of a confused emoticon.... this is why I'm a writer and not an artist.