The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: erma bombeck writers’ workshop

Don’t look back? Don’t tell me what to do.

It’s a widely known fact (i.e. “pin-worthy” quote) that one of the main reasons people give up on their dreams is because they focus on how far they still have to go instead of how far they’ve already come.

Or for you visual learners…

Look behind you, you're more awesome than you realize! from "Don't look back? Don't tell me what to do," by The Bearded Iris

You do it too, right? Continue reading

Mama Needs a New Pair of Boobs

So I met this cool chick named Kristen McClusky a couple of weeks ago at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and it was basically love at first sight. And not just because she has really pretty hands and lives not far from where I used to live in Oakland, California. Kristen writes a delightful blog called motherload: diary of a modern day housewife superhero. And it was after I read her About page that I knew I had to have a little piece of her (in a totally non creepy way) to share with all of you.

Well guess what? I networked! I sent her an email expressing my non-creepy love and asked her if she would pretty-please be my very first guest blogger.

And she said YES! OMG. I made a new friend…in real life. Somebody pinch me!

So without further ado, I present my new friend Kristen McClusky and her boobies…

*********

My gay friend Rick thinks I have great tits. He admires them with the shameless gusto that only a guy with no interest in “going there” can.

I’d have slapped other men for saying even half of what Rick has said about my boobies. But with him? I’m flattered. I mean, Rick has exceptional taste.

Then one day while critiquing my shoes and cleavage, he asked me if my hooters were fake. And I was crushed.

Crushed because it was suddenly, painfully clear that when it comes to ta-tas, the man has no idea what he’s talking about.

I think my response went something like, “THESE?! These barely B cups? You think someone would PAY to have these droopy, nursed-two-babies, formerly not-even-that-fabulous boobies surgically constructed?”

After throwing back my head and laughing heartily, I tousled his hair and said, “Stick to what you know, honey.” Then walked away.

By the time you read this I’ll be in Miami at the Mom 2.0 Summit. A trip to Miami sends a clothing-careless Nor Cal mom like me into a fashion frenzy. My yoga-pants-and-flip-flops uniform will not carry over to the Versace Mansion (where I’m truly attending a party, thankyouverymuch).

So I’ve been shopping.

I had the good luck to find a few new fabulous frocks. But I’ve gotta say, my mommy mammaries are NOT doing them justice. I mean, especially in a strapless number. It’s one part engineering–needing to just hold the dress up–and one part aesthetics. Having more would just look better.

I needed bigger boobs in six days. So I went to Victoria’s Secret.

I was on the phone with my friend Meggie when I walked into the place. Which was good since it let me wave off the short, older woman with a tape measure around her neck who approached me. I know her type–the bra-fitting Nazi–all too well.

I had a Russian crone measure me for a nursing bra once and nearly needed therapy afterward. She hijacked me with her tape measure, stretching it over my chest in the middle of the store. She barked, “NO!” to the bras I’d picked out, yanked others off the rack, then marched into the small dressing room with me to try them on. She wrenched straps into place, and poked at puckering fabric as I stood terror-filled. And I don’t scare easy.

“This one good,” she snapped as I meekly tried to look at it in the mirror. “You get it.”

I left with three bras I was afraid not to buy.

At V’s Secret I found an apparently un-hostile saleswoman and quietly stammered, “I uh… need to buy some… boobies.”

“Built into the bra, or separate?” she enquired, as if she were asking, “Milk or sugar?”

“Uh… separate? I think?” I was doing that make-everything-a-question thing California girls do. Probably since I felt like a kid myself, looking to stuff my bra.

In the corner of the store she grabbed a pink and black box and pulled out a rose-colored satin pouch. From there she withdrew a semicircular, clear rubber blob.

As we both stared down at it, I wasn’t sure what to say.

“Do I, uh, try it–them–on?”

“You can,” she said, handing the box to me. “Can’t get any germs from ’em.”

In the dressing room I shoved the cool gel disks into my bra. There are actually two per boobie–one goes underneath for lift, and the other on top to flesh things out.

I took a picture of my curvy profile with my phone and texted it to Meg. (If you don’t have a girlfriend you can text tittie pics of yourself too, what have you got? If you need, I can send you Meg’s number. You’ll love her. Email me.)

She texted back her approval. And I was pleased too. For $59 this was a hell of a lot cheaper–and less messy–than surgery.

As I dropped the rubber falsies back in their sack I couldn’t help thinking about the single gals who use these things. I mean, for the unacquainted couple, they should be called Disappointment Disks. Sure, in the bar they look great, but back at your apartment how do you explain four rubber jellyfish flopping out onto the floor? Doesn’t seem so sexy after all.

At the register a middle-aged woman rang me up with a smile. “Love these,” she whispered.

I wondered what The Husband would think of them. Foolish or fabulous?

Whatever the case, when you finally get the rack you’ve wanted since you were 13, it’s not for your hubbie. It’s not even for the admiration of your fabulous gay friends.

No, these new boobies are all for me.

*******

See? Didn’t I tell you? You can get more of Kristen (probably wearing her “Disappointment Disks”) at motherload, Twitter (@MotherLoadBlog), and Facebook.

Show her some love, y’all!

6 More Things I Learned at EBWW

Have I mentioned that I attended the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio, last weekend?

Kidding. Obviously I can’t stop talking about it. But the rules of good blogging still apply and thus I have chosen to divide and conquer with several posts instead of one so as not to overwhelm or bore you to death. See? See how much I care for you people?

So, picking up where I left off last week… here are the rest of the gems I simply must share with you about my EBWW experience.

7.) It can be a real pickle to write your truth about people you know and not be chased out of town with torches and pitchforks. But here is the best advice I heard all weekend about how to walk that fine line:

“Cut as close to the bone as you can without getting sued or divorced.” ~Adriana Trigiani

In other words, change their name and write the hell out of that sucker. Wise words indeed! (Love her!)

8.) When you declare your intentions to the universe, the universe will send you all the resources you need to stay on your path and achieve your goals.

"One of these things is not like the other..."

That photo was taken at dinner last Friday night with writers Michelle Freed and Kathy Buckworth. Earlier that day, Michelle gave me a family sized pack of my current vice of choice, York Peppermint Patties, just because. How awesome is that?! Somebody better stop me before I break into a Dionne Warwick song. And you know I will, dammit.

The next day, I met Ernie. 

Ernie and Leslie at the Erma Bombeck tree dedication.

Ernie and I hit it off right away. We both wear funky glasses, we both have a fondness for hair styling products, we’re both fluent in sarcasm, and neither of us were imbibing. We were pretty much attached at the hip from the moment we connected. Thank you Ernie! You were just what the doctor ordered.

9.) The banana phone is alive and well in Dayton, Ohio. And if you ever want to make friends real fast in between conference sessions, whip out your banana phone and call someone. It’s a real crowd pleaser, believe you-me.

Check out my sisters-of-slapstick, Julie Ott of ott mama and Stacey Hatton of Nurse Mommy Laughs, working it old school.

10.) You’re never too old for the buddy system, especially while traveling in a strange city. Plus, a travel buddy makes it safer to share your cab with a strange man in Uni-Bomber sunglasses who may indeed turn out to be not so strange after all. In fact, he might just turn out to be one of the highlights of your trip due to his incredible wit and willingness to go with the flow…even in the midst of a very invasive trip through security.

And that’s how Nicole and I met Jef, of The Cult of Jef, a blog that’s “Sporty, yet casual.” I have found myself repeatedly laughing out loud at everything I’ve read there so far. Do yourself a favor and check him out. Here’s a good place to start.

11.) Pack your dirty skivvies in a bag at the BOTTOM of your suitcase so the poor man searching your luggage for the giant metal EBWW souvenir water bottle that looks incredibly similar to a pipe bomb doesn’t have to touch every. single. filthy. garment in your bag. Oh dear God in heaven, now I know why those poor things wear gloves. Bless his heart!

"Lord Almighty, what is that smell?"

"Ma'am, is this your large metal cylindrical object?"

Not unrelated, the brand name of the EBWW souvenir water bottle is “Bullet.” Not kidding. See for yourself:

Yessiree Bob, there’s nothing quite like transporting an extra large silver bullet through airport security. Good times.

12.) Normally I don’t advocate cracking jokes about granny panties with just any TSA Agent, but I must say, this sweet man was a wonderful sport (and quite gentle with my delicates). Life lesson: asking a stranger for a hug can really make almost any embarrassing situation feel a little better.

I always enjoy a little cuddle after my full body cavity searches, don't you?

And that concludes my list of all the wonderful things I learned last weekend thanks to the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. Please tune in tomorrow to read about all the qualities I look for in a good roommate! (Don’t worry Nicole, your secrets are safe with me.)

your travel buddy,

-Leslie

6 Things I learned at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop

Well the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop afterglow is slowly starting to subside. But it was such a life-altering experience for me that I can’t help but revel in its glory just a little longer.

I’ve been reflecting all week on some of my favorite moments and life lessons from the workshop, and honestly, I could fill a book. But if I had to pick a few, these would definitely make the list:

1.) I am a sucker for funny Jewish men with ginormous hands.

Leslie with Alan Zweibel, one of the original SNL writers. (OMG!) Such a funny and charming guy. Check out that catcher's mitt. Rarrrr.

 

It’s my Dad’s fault.

 

Hey now, no need to get all Freudian there penis. I know what you’re thinking bowling ball hold and you’re wrong. That’s just weird. Look at that punim, even then I was all hell no. Besides, I married a Catholic Italian. A Catholic Italian with really big hands. Shut up. Okay, you’re right. There’s something very wrong with me. Daddy issues are just the tip of the thumb iceberg.

2.) Pace yourself. Don’t drop it like it’s hot on the first night of a conference buying half of the keynote speaker’s library. There will be many additional fabulous speakers over the course of the next few days whose books you will also want to buy and have signed. (Dammit.)

Fortunately for me, Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel is Bucket Head’s new favorite book. We have read it every night this week and I don’t even want to hit myself with it like I do when he picks almost anything else. It has that magical mix of laughter and tears that keeps us both coming back for more. Truly, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Everyone should have their own Steve.

3.) The elegant, quiet woman sitting next to you might not necessarily loathe you just because you have celebrity-blogger-proximity-induced-diarrhea of the mouth, she might just be painfully shy. Talk to her. And no, “please pass the creamer” doesn’t count, dumbass.

4.) Yellow is my color. I know this because three different people told me so, including  THE Karen Walrond. And frankly, if that woman told me I looked good in a pelt of deli meats and pimento cheese, I would wear that mofo 24/7.

leslie with karen walrond at ebww

Leslie relishing a hug from THE Karen Walrond, and then editing the photo into a super creepy romance-themed vignette for funsies.

 

Sadly, I am only just learning this about the color yellow NOW, at the ripe old age of 42. Ack…better late than never. And that’s why I’ve been wearing my new yellow sweater all. damn. week.

This is me writing in my awesome new journal...because Karen told us to. That's why. (Suck up.)

 

That’s right. Get used to it, people. You know that song Lady in Red? I’m commissioning a rewrite called Crazy Bitch in Yellow.

5.) According to Suzette Standring in her incredible session, Hypnotic Recall Fills the Creative Well, self-hypnosis, meditation, and guided imagery are all the same thing, and a great way to access memories and details for one’s writing. Also, people who meditate tend to look 10-15 years younger than people who don’t, so guess who’s got a first class seat on the meditation bandwagon this week! {OHM.}

“I write. I heal. My writing serves others.” ~ Suzette Standring

6.) Photo-bombing can make any social situation more fun.

Front row: Kim Katcham, Deb Amlen, Nicole Morgan, Tracy Beckerman. Back row: some nutjob (ahem).

(photo used with permission by EBWW on Facebook)

So, this actually doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the wonderful things I learned at Erma. I think you better come on back tomorrow and hear some more.

fondly,

Leslie (formerly known as Iris, but whatever, call me anything, just call me.)

I have an announcement to make.

Last Wednesday I shared with you that my semi-anonymous blogging cover had been blown and I was struggling with what to do about it.

On the one hand, I was very uncomfortable with the notion of my kids’ friends reading my blog. I definitely don’t want to have to censor myself, but I also don’t want to be responsible for teaching children about things like the most cost effective way to remove butt hair.

The other issue I’ve wrestled with for several years is how to write from the heart without getting my family ostracized by our community. We live in the quite provincial suburbs of Atlanta…a place where women call their vaginas their “down there” (while pointing at it and making the same face I make when I find a headless chipmunk on my back porch).

I mean, what if the good Christian mothers of my daughter’s scout troop discover my writing and conclude I’m unfit to lead their girls on an outing to the nursing home? Or what if my son’s preschool teachers don’t invite me for animal show-and-tell because they’re afraid I’ll say something inappropriate? Or worse, what if people treat my kids differently because of my opinions or drinking habits or odd hobbies?

I have to be honest with you, I was leaning toward something drastic like closing up shop per my motto: when the going gets tough, get drunk and cry.

But then I went to The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio last weekend.

And three very Erma-esque things happened:

1.) I was surrounded by my tribe of humor writers who embraced me, energized me, and gave me wonderful support, encouragement, and advice.

    Tricia, Nicole, Iris, and Ernie at our “Last Supper” of EBWW. (Photo credit: Kristen)

 

2.) I had the incredible fortune of hearing a number of inspirational keynote speakers like Dr. Gina Barreca, Adriana Trigiani, Connie Schultz, Ilene Beckerman, and Alan Zweibel who all resonated the same universal message: tell your truth without fear.

Iris with author Adriana Trigiani at her book signing Friday night.

 

“Don’t be afraid of what anyone thinks of your writing, EVER.” ~Adriana Trigiani

 

3.) And a first-time commenter named Kristen wrote this to me:

Iris,

In July of 2011 my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, since then our lives have been turned upside down. Some days I don’t know whether I am coming or going. He underwent a stem cell transplant in February 2012 at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the kids and I spent many, many hours at his bedside.

It was during this time of relentless hours spent trolling the internet that I saw a post my friend shared on Facebook. “DIY Feminine Hygiene Tips” was the heading, of course this sparked my curiosity, who wouldn’t have to see what this article consisted of?

I have to tell you that I laughed so loud that the nurses came in to see what was so funny, and I believe your blog now holds a spot on their board in the stem cell transplant unit. I do believe you have some faithful followers there as well.

The whole point to this story is to share with you the epiphany that you brought to me on that day. My 13 year old daughter started crying and said Mom, I haven’t seen you laugh in a long time. You, it was you Iris, that brought me back from the underworld. From that day on I vowed to smile every day and laugh at least once (which you so often help me do).

So I will SELFISHLY say D is my final answer. I can appreciate your predicament and completely understand if you should decide against it, I will follow you no matter where your jokes take me. You are my prozac!

 

Sorry – I know you like when I give you a tissue alert.

I swear I have read Kristen’s comment at least 50 times in the past 72 hours. I shared it with my friend Janet (Muffintop Mommy) while we were sitting next to each other in a stand-up comedy workshop and we were both blotting mascara off our cleavage. (No offense to the dude juggling mewling kittens and chainsaws, but we weren’t crying because of you.)

This comment perfectly illustrates another gem I heard this weekend at EBWW:

“Writing comedy is the greatest spiritual gift you can give to anybody anytime.” ~ Adriana Trigiani

I am so deeply humbled by the outpouring of love and support you – my regular readers –  gave me with your comments last week. My cup truly runneth over.

So instead of shutting down my blog and/or starting over anonymously, I think I’ll try a different approach.

“Bad girls are the only ones with stories to tell.” ~ Gina Barreca

Hello. My name is Leslie Jeanne Marinelli and I am a writer.

Leslie with EBWW roommate Nicole of By Word of Mouth Musings.

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