Tag Archives: education

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dukes…


Jennifer Weiner has an interesting op-ed in the NYT celebrating sex ed via the romance novel. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never read any of Ms. Weiner’s novels and I want to change that soon. I’ve put her memoir Hungry Heart on my wish list and will be grabbing some of her older novels as well. But in the meantime I enjoyed her article in the NYT, even though I didn’t agree with all of it.

We’re on the same page with the idea that “what goes where” sex ed is necessary but not sufficient for young peeps and of course they will be curious for more information. They will search for it relentlessly. I definitely agree with Ms. Weiner that romance novels give a woman’s sexual satisfaction equal priority to a man’s. No fantasy duke or pirate or spy or CEO ever forgets to please his heroine in the bedroom (or wherever), multiple times. Ms. Weiner makes a good point that, unlike pr0n, romance novels describe complete scenes, including birth control (in contemporaries), various other awkward moments, and follow-up conversations.

Talking is important!

But romance novels, like so many forms of entertainment, focus mostly on fabulous looking characters with beautiful faces and perfect bodies. These are the kinds of people deserving of soul mates, true love, fantastic sex, and happily ever afters… this is the message insidiously drilled into our minds as soon as we’re able to read a book or watch a movie. Ms. Weiner quotes Jennifer Crusie in her article, and Ms. Crusie has given us plus-size heroines in several of her novels, but still they are gorgeous overweight women with great legs, lips, and hair, not the ordinary fat chicks you find shlumping around the supermarket. This is not to criticize ~ I lurve Ms. Crusie’s novels and they’re among my favorite romances. I am… JUST SAYING.

[I know some of you go into a peevey fit when peeps just say. Sorry about that.]

Point is, there’s a downside to young people (aka women let’s be honest cuz young men aren’t going to be reading Crusie et al) consuming the emotional content of their sex ed via romance novels. I should know. I was one.

On the bright side, people are still reading books.


Study Notes


I was a smart kid, but I attribute my great grades not to flashes of genius but to boringly steady work habits. I trudged home from school, literally a mile+ in the snow, and did my homework. Every day. I spent a lot of time studying and overstudying for tests. Though I had some fun times, I didn’t really goof off that much, not in high school and certainly not in college.

In college, I had a Psych class and got 100% on a test. The professor congratulated me when he handed back the results, which was a little embarrassing. After class, a few students came up to me to ask how I did it. I said I read the assigned chapters, twice, and studied the lecture notes several times. That’s not what they wanted to hear, I could tell. They thought I had a special trick. I did not. I just spent a lot of time doing the boring, boring studying.

It is true when I was very young I had a bit of eidetic memory, but that faded fast and didn’t help me much by the time high school rolled around. I was better than most at remembering phone numbers, which has become an unnecessary skill these days. Who even needs to know their friends’ numbers any longer?

More recently I took the Notary Public exam and did well. I was a bit worried about it, even though I’ve taken it several times before (in California you have to retake it every four years). It’s easy to forget many of the details between tests if you only notarize once in a while as I do. But I overstudied like a maniac. Turns out I do have some good habits!

In my opinion, doing well in school is mostly about good habits, not brilliance. Could this be true about most things in life?


The Daily Prompt: Study



I’m trying to memorize a lot of facts for the Notary Public exam next week. It used to be easier to study when my brain had less stuff in it. I have to shove things out to make room for the new, and I’m not sure what’s being discarded, but when I need to know 17 squared or the capital of Wyoming, then I’ll find out. This is the fifth time I’ve taken the test, but I tend to forget what I don’t need the minute it’s over. I’m not too nervous, but I’ll over-study anyway. Please wish me luck!


The Daily Prompt: Memorize

More Than This

The first time I heard Roxy Music was at Stacey’s apartment in downtown Chicago, in the spring of 1983. I was a classic rock girl and Bryan Ferry was club music. I didn’t go to clubs; I listened to the Beatles and Stones alone at home. Actually, nothing has changed… but that’s beside the point. I don’t remember why we went to Stacey’s either. We were both taking a computer class and broke for lunch or something. She lived nearby. What I do remember is that she turned on the stereo and fired up her bong. It was the first time I’d seen a bong too. I lived a very sheltered life, in the middle of Chicago. I declined her offer of smoke, but I did get intoxicated with Roxy Music and bought an album soon after.

The only reason I’m even bringing this up is because I was listening to RM’s greatest hits the otter day in my car and I thought, holy shit, I’ve been telling peeps the wrong thing all these years. I always say I moved to California because my parents said they’d buy me a car, which they did say, but that’s not why I left ~ I left because my heart was broken.

Stacey and I were talking about men that day, of course, and I confessed I had a crush on Mark, who was also in our class. Mark and I regularly created outrageous fictions about adventures we had together and no one really knew what was going on between us (nothing), and the rest of the class thought we were very entertaining. Sometimes I would create my own individual stories for Mark, so he wouldn’t think I was such a boring boring. He had his own individual stories for me as well that I didn’t know what to make of ~ they were wild and crazy, occasionally verging on the sad.

Eventually we became lovers, in the summer, though I knew it wouldn’t last. My heart broke the first time we were together, as it always does when I know something will fail, and I floated off into that strange limbo of soaring dreams mixed with crushing despair. It’s a potent drug. I never turn something like that down; I simply wait for it to disappear because I know it will. Each time might be the last, so each time is incredibly wonderful, like I imagine it might feel to be on X, though I never have been. What writer would turn this down? How many chances do you have to experience this in your life? You wouldn’t be able to describe it otherwise. I might have only had the once… but as luck would have it, it’s happened a few more times.

Our relationship ended mundanely ~ I had to work, and Mark wanted to go camping. He asked me to go with him, and I couldn’t, so he took another girl. That was in August and I kept working as my parents planned their move out West. I vaguely said I might stay and find a place with a friend, but I made no plans. My job consisted of formatting disks, all day long. I sat at a reception desk and did that, crying silently.

In September, my mother said, you’re not really staying in Chicago, are you? My father said he’d buy me a car if I moved with them. It sounds amusing to say I left for a car, but I would have left in any case. Chicago is nothing but a big frozen heartbreak; that’s why I’ve never gone back, not once. I like to leave places that remind me of bad times; I like to throw everything away. If I can’t, I gather it all together for an emotional bonfire and a story is born. Sometimes the story lies dormant for several decades, apparently.


The Daily Prompt: Dormant

The Lure of Luxury [Dating Story]

It’s been a minute since I treated you to a dating story. Did you think I’d used them all up? Ha ha ha ha. We should be so lucky.

Names and some deets changed to protect the guilty. Also, my memory sucks.

I met this one at the Long Beach Marina. Let’s call him… Benzo cuz he zipped up in a shiny new red MBZ sports car. Hot guy, in good shape, wore jeans, black leather jacket, had a nice smile. We went upstairs for a drink in an upscale bar overlooking the water. So far, so good. (Back then, my headaches weren’t as bad and I still could have occasional alcohol without dying.)

We talked about me for a while. I was only separated then, not divorced, and very much into complaining about my S2BX. Not a great time to date, but we wouldn’t have all these fun stories if I hadn’t, would we? I told Benzo a little about my divorce woes, and he began ranting about his divorce and how his ex-witch stole his business yada. Then he went into a new rage about how college was stupid and a waste of money and I shouldn’t be sending my kids. What?

Despite the few annoying convo twists, I was overall having a good time with Benzo and we ordered some appies and another round of drinks (non-alcoholic for me). Now we were talking about him. He was in real estate, which was our initial one thing in common. What did he do, exactly? Well, he was a bit vague… some sort of partnership dealio with the ex, where she stole everything, as noted. Currently, he was in an “investment pool.”

“What’s that?” I asked. I never care if people think I’m stupid; in fact, I find it amusing.

Benzo babbled about how he and some otter dudes were going to make a shit ton of money on some sketchy properties and bla and bla. I didn’t ask how he managed the new MBZ if this hadn’t happened yet, given that the ex, etc.

“Do you want to live with me in luxury?” he said.

“Oh, sure. Where would we be living?”

“Wherever you like! Beverly Hills or Newport Beach or Santa Barbara. We’ll sleep late and then tell the cook what we want for breakfast. What’s your favorite breakfast?”

“French toast.”


“I’ll need to bring my cat.”

“We’ll have ten cats!”

This guy was some salesman, amirite? He kissed me and it was really nice. I was starting to think about seeing him again, despite his weird anti-college tirade. Who cared what he thought about that? It was totally irrelevant. But I needed to get going ~ it was a weeknight and I had to work the next morning.

The check came. Benzo looked at me. “You’ll never believe it,” he said.

Turned out, Benzo had been so excited to meet me that he forgot his credit card. OMG! And he didn’t carry cash because that’s dangerous. If you’re driving a flash Mercedes you do tend to make yourself a target. Best not to have paper money floating in your pockets to further tempt any bandits. Makes total sense.

So, I paid. Of course. I picked up the tab for the hot guy in the luxury car who has probably made so much money by now from his RE investment pool he is tripping over stacks of cash on the way to his gold-plated toilet every morning.

I didn’t see him again.

Bling car


Via The Daily Prompt: Luxury

Mommies v Daddies

Now I understand why guys appear “born” knowing about cars.

You know how when mommies go out for a walk with their kids (boys or girls) they point out various things?

“Look, there’s a pretty flower!”

“There’s a kitty!”

“See the bakery? Let’s get a cookie!”

That’s not what daddies do. I went to dinner in Long Beach last night and had to park several blocks from the restaurant. As I was walking, a daddy was behind me with his little boy. This is how the daddy’s conversation went:

“There’s a BMW.”

“That’s an Audi.”

“This is a Lexus.”

And there you have it.

Rhode Island

When I was 18 and just starting college in Illinois, I took a poetry class from a famous poet. I don’t recall his name just now, but he was impressive. For some reason that I didn’t really understand (and still don’t), poetry unlike other writing is supposed to be “real” — you’re not supposed to write about things that you haven’t experienced. At least that was the unspoken assumption then. But I hadn’t experienced anything.

A few months in we were to write about a place yada yada. Nothing inspired my creativity, so I decided to write about a fictional beach in Rhode Island. I had returned there, expecting something, but ended up feeling nothing, etc. People loved it, the professor thought it was good, too. Then another student pointed out there was a small flaw: I had screwed up the color of the water. She had actually been to Rhode Island beaches. Oh. At that point I said I had made it all up.

The students were shocked, and then applauded. The professor congratulated me and gave me an A. I don’t think it was an A-worthy poem. He just liked that I had the balls to fictionalize poetry, though I didn’t really think this was such a BFD.

Now that I’m back to writing “real fiction” as opposed to erotica (for the time being), I sometimes think to incorporate a few of my real experiences, in a highly disguised and fictionalized way, natch. But that writing turns out to be some of my worst almost without fail. When I make shit up out of whole cloth, it’s generally much better, especially if I know absolutely nothing of what I’m talking about.

And now there’s Google to look things up like the color of the ocean off Rhode Island to get the nitpickers off my back. 🙂

Failure to Solutionize

So I brought my father’s car in Sunday morning for an oil change and check-up, figuring they’d get me for something, as mechanics are wont to do, assuming it’d be battery or brakes, but they called said everything looked great. Yay! Except there was a little bit of a weird noise. Oh? Weird noise? Yah. It might be the timing belt. Did Dad have the timing belt replaced  by Toyota perchance? Well, I didn’t know obv, though it’s hard to believe Dad would have passed up an opportunity to hand someone a wad of money. They thought the best thing would be to inspect further make sure the timing belt wasn’t about to fall apart wreck the engine. Natch. I said I’d bring it back later for that. But I definitely appreciated their thoroughness.

Then I was fussing to Sharon about timing belts and stuff and she got all mad, said she didn’t want to hear this on her vacation. I said it was important, and she said no I stress way too much and fail to solutionize. What is this word, I asked her — “solutionize?” It’s a BMUN (Berkeley Model United Nations) word, she told me, and it’s what I should do instead of drowning in worry. SOLUTIONIZE!

Well, all right then. How can we solutionize about the timing belt issue on the white Camry, I asked her, when I don’t want to pay mechanics to poke around in a 13 year old car, but I also don’t want it to fall apart on our road trip? Simple, she said. We’ll drive the blue Camry to Berkeley next week. But you’re always bitching that the blue Camry isn’t as comfortable, I reminded her. This is why I threw up during my calc final, she said. You drive me nuts. OK.

I guess they must solutionize in the real UN, too. Like if some rogue country is trying to get nukes, the UN peeps don’t sit there and agonize over the end of the world, they simply solutionize and come up with sanctions or whatever.  And if those don’t work, they blame someone’s mom.

Anyway, I called the Toyota dealer service shop this morning and of course my father had the timing belt replaced — way before the 60K maintenance was due, in April 2010. Eyeroll.