Life On Hysteria Lane

Kicking and Screaming my way to a Better Life….

Say Cheese March 2, 2012

I’m not taking the world on by storm, that’s for sure.  But I can say that I have enjoyed some surprising successes over the past few years as a motivational speaker/performer.  It makes me wonder what might happen if I put even a little bit of effort into self-promotion.


I’m afraid I might never get the chance to find out.  For ahead of me lies what is turning out to be my greatest obstacle yet.  An obstacle that could end my career before I decide to really test my wings.

“Fear of success?” you wonder.

“Fear of failure then?”


It’s called a HEADSHOT.

Interesting name for it, don’t you think? (‘cuz that’s pretty much what I’d rather have done to me than look straight into a camera.)

So what is the big deal, you ask?  Just smile and say, “Cheese.”

(Well….it’s cheese that is partially responsible for getting me into this mess in the first place….and chocolate…..and Chardonnay……)

I acknowledge that it is basically fraudulent to continue using the 10-year/100-pound old snapshot and trying to pass it off as my headshot.

I see the double-takes of conference participants as they enter my room. They look at me…..look at event program photo…..(squint)…..look at me again…….(squint harder…..shake their heads with slight look of disappointment…..)

For the record, I have had every intention over the past few years of getting a headshot done……just as soon as I drop a few (or a hundred) L.B.s.  (Generally, this thought occurs to me just as I finish the last Yodel™ in the box.)

The irony of this is not lost on me.  I suppose some might say they should take away my Motivational Speaker card. (Just to clarify, I never said I was a Motivational Speaker who had it all together- Lucky for me it is NOT a requirement by law. In fact, my modus operandi is to get you to feel better about yourself as you compare your life to the mess that is mine.  So far it seems to be working.)

Naturally, I would counsel ANY other person holding this perspective to gently set it down; consider being kind to themselves-consider looking at all the beauty that lies inside. I would remind them that it’s just a photo.

I try this logic on myself.  In a moment of stillness, I reason with the insecure and fearful Michelle, certain that self-love is the answer.

“You can do this,” I remind her (me).

“You owe it to yourself to get past this. You’ll be stronger for it,” I encourage my frailer self.


“Bite me,” comes my uncensored reply.

Aaaaaaalrighty then.  Clearly this is not going to be easy.  I Google “How to take a good headshot”, hoping that if I arm myself with some helpful tips, I will feel more confident and prepared for the torture photo session.

Tip #1:  Go easy on the makeup.  One should appear natural looking.  (Riiiiiiight…and NASCAR drivers don’t really need to wear helmets……)


Tip #2:  The focus should be on the eyes, as they are the windows to the soul.  Presently my windows are half-shut and streaked with mascara from the crying this plan has elicited.


Tip #3:  Watch the angles.  Shooting at a downward angle can make eyes appear larger and (Please, God…) reduce the double-chin (the article says nothing about a triple chin….) Note to self: find photographer who is NOT afraid of heights.


Tip #4:  Wardrobe choices are very important. Choose basic, solid-color clothing that accentuates your best features.


Perhaps a simple veil.


Mad Cat July 26, 2011

My cat is upset. I’m not sure what it’s about, but I’m clear that she is pissed. And how do I know this? She is urinating outside of the litter box. She has NEVER done this before, but in the past 3 weeks, she has indicated she is “pissed” in a two different places. I’m not exactly sure how to address this, since, although I am able to distinguish between a “my dish is empty” kind of meow, and a “scratch my ears” meow, I am not fluent in cat-speak and I refuse to take her to a counselor.

I, myself, don’t like confrontation. (At this very moment there are family members and close friends falling off their chairs at that statement…) OK…I generally don’t like confrontation. There are lots of times that I’ve been upset and haven’t addressed it. Lots of times when the “offender” goes without ever knowing they’ve offended me. I may get quiet (there they go….falling off their chairs again…), while my insides twist in knots and my blood pressures shoots up, but I often hold my upset inside. I’m starting to think that may be why my clothes don’t fit anymore and my face is so much fuller. I’m swelling from all this contained upset!

This can’t be good for my health. So I’m thinking my cat has the right idea. There is no denying that she is upset. And….it is completely up to me (the offender) to figure out what the problem is and remedy it, or pay the price. She doesn’t seem to hold a grudge- she still curls up on my lap as always, still plays with her toys…. It seems that once she’s “expressed” her upset, she if free to go about her day unaffected. That seems to me a lot healthier than self-destructing from the inside out by holding it all inside.

Well, that’s it then. The next time I feel upset, I think I’ll wait until the offender is out of the room and “get it out of my system” somewhere on their personal property. Let them figure out what the problem is.


Where Are You, John Quiñones? July 14, 2011

I kept looking over my shoulder for John Quiñones.  I was absolutely certain I was in the middle of one of ABC’s Primetime: What Would You Do? episodes. Unfortunately, I was not, and John Quiñones was not going to come out from around the corner to tell me it was all a set-up.

I decided to stop and get a sandwich on the way home from work.  It was after the busy lunch hour and before dinner so there were not a lot of customers in the restaurant. I was sitting alone in a booth, facing the door –rather, NOT facing the other patrons (when there is no one on the other side of the booth to “block” you, no matter what you do, you look like you are staring at the other diners).  I was about half-way through my mixed greens with a squeeze of lemon juice (yea, right…) when a couple came through the door.  A big, handsome, yet burly man (in fact, the guy looked just like Burl Ives-or at least like the snowman he played in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer….but I digress…..) and the woman accompanying him sat a few booths away, between me and the door.  She took the seat with her back to me and he and I were facing each other.  I tried moving over in my booth, so that her head directly blocked his face from my gaze. It’s not like I was trying to “gaze”; he was the only thing in front of me. It was either look at him or look at my “mixed greens”. Truth be told, the guy had a pretty big head.  He could eyeball me (and I him) no matter how far I moved.

Aaaaaaaaaanyhow………………….. I never heard the woman speak.  He, however, seemed the jovial sort, joking with the waitresses, and patting some little kids on the head as they were leaving. I got the impression he was a regular here. The couple placed their order, after which the gentleman (and I use the term lightly) turned to the waitress.

“Could you please tell my wife she looks STUPID?” 

Apparently, as he explained to the waitress, he had just picked her up from the beauty salon, where in an attempt to “cover the gray”, she opted to go blonde (something she’d always wanted to do). The waitress gave “Burl” a friendly swat with her order pad, smiled and left.  With that, the verbal barrage began.

“You never listen to me.  I will not be seen in public with you after this.  You look like a hooker.”

OK.  He’s GOT to be teasing her………she doesn’t look anything like a hooker………but then again,  how would I know…….I’ve never really seen one in person……that I know of…………and I don’t see her shoulders moving like they should if she was laughing……………..his tone doesn’t sound so funny either……..

“Look at your face! Did you even LOOK in the mirror? Have you seen what you look like?”   Why don’t you shave off your eyebrows and put paint all over your face?  You might as well… couldn’t look any worse anyway……”

OK, Mr. Quiñones…….fun’s over……………. Come out, come out wherever you are………………………….

The barrage continued relentlessly. If I had a nickel for every time Burl told this poor woman she looked stupid (or worse), I could finally send away for that KYMARO New Body Shaper I’ve been wanting to try .  Burl called 2 other waitresses over so that they could tell the woman she looked “Butt Ugly”. Luckily, they did not comply…just shook their heads and refilled her ice tea. Thank God I had already finished my “mixed greens with a squeeze of lemon”, because my appetite was gone.  And my ire was front and center.  I paid my bill, gathered my things, and headed towards the couple.

“Excuse me…. I just wanted to tell you that I think your hair is beautiful,” I told the watery-eyed woman as I passed.

“She looks UGLY as HELL!” piped in Burly Boy. Wow.  He didn’t even hesitate in front of company.

That’s it. “Have you ever seen the show What Would You Do?, sir?


“Well, I’ve been sitting over there waiting for John Quiñones to come busting through the door telling me that you are just an actor, because I can’t believe anybody would really treat another person this way.”  I even surprised myself.

The watery-eyed, newly-blonde woman reached for my hand.

“I don’t know who you are, but I love you,” she said with a faint smile.

Burly Boy and Blondie and I ended up talking for another 10 minutes or so.  (I’m just relieved he didn’t punch me.) Actually, I played Dr. Phyllis for 10 minutes. All those years of therapy finally put to good use! I think B.B. was a tiny bit ashamed of himself in the end. He told his wife to give me his business card, asked me to sit with them so he could buy me an ice cream.  Then he gave me 2 free movie passes. Really?!  I passed on the ice cream, and suggested he use the tickets to take his wife out since she looked so pretty (though I did have another idea about what he could do with them).

When I left them, she was smiling.

Maybe he won’t change.  Maybe she’ll pay for my interference later-in private- though I pray that’s not the case.  My wish is for him to look past her hair just once….and see her heart.

Well….now I know the answer to What Would You Do?.  For all the times I could have used a stranger’s interference….I’d do it again.

But next time….I’ll take the ice cream.


Turning Blue July 12, 2011

I told him before he left that I would not be able to make it. We discussed that, just recently having committed to a new part-time job, I wouldn’t be able to rearrange my schedule; that it was a lot of money for a very short ceremony. We both agreed I would not go.

OK. Who am I kidding? There’s no way I’m missing this event in my kid’s life. I may be a less-than-perfect mother in some ways (ok…a LOT of ways….) but I have ALWAYS tried to be there for my son, attending cross-country meets (that’s dedication, right? I mean- you watch them leave and you wait for them to come back- usually in the rain), school concerts (in which- no lie- he played ONE NOTE in ONE SONG- See ), listening to devastating breakup stories, etc. It’s been just the two of us for so long. How could I miss this? He’s TURNING BLUE. I have to be there.

He’s not “turning blue” as in holding his breath until I change my mind. Turning Blue is the ceremony during which my son will receive his Infantry Blue Cord, which represents his completion of Infantry Advanced Individual Training. During the ceremony, family and friends (in other words, HIS MOTHER) will be given the opportunity to pin the Infantry Blue Cord onto the shoulder of his dress uniform, distinguishing him as an Infantryman. A short, but meaningful ceremony which I am now DETERMINED to attend.

So…… I’ve already changed my schedule and started planning the Bake Sale/Car Wash I’ll be holding to raise the extra funds needed for the trip. It may cost me $1000.00 and 20 hours of travel time for this 10 minute ceremony, but I have to be there. For me as much as for him.

Oh, sure. I’ve pinned things on him before. (Like the flooding of the upstairs bathroom for one….I supposed it is possible that I was the one who left the faucet on…..but I digress……) I’ve pinned notes on him intended for his Kindergarten teacher, and I’ve pinned mittens to his winter coats so they wouldn’t get lost and his hands wouldn’t be cold. But the Infantry Cord?

“Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies. Infantry units have more physically demanding training than other branches of armies, and place a greater emphasis on discipline, fitness, physical strength and aggression.”
It’s funny, isn’t it? He’ll be the one “Turning Blue”, and I’ll be the one holding my breath……


Christmas in July July 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle @ 11:58 am
Tags: , , , ,

There is a star on President Obama’s head. If I lean a little to the right, I can see the purple ball earring he is sporting.

I’m sitting on my couch watching the Presidential News Conference on television. The way the light hits my TV screen, I see the reflection of my living room. And in that living room? My Christmas tree. Yes, folks, it is July 11th and I STILL have my Christmas tree up.

It’s not entirely because I’m lazy. I have been known to work extremely hard (well, sometimes…). Besides, it’s not like it’s the kind of Christmas tree full of Santas and gingerbread men. It is a small, color-coordinated piece that matches my living room quite well, and blends with the décor. I didn’t even WANT a Christmas tree (even a 3’ one). I only put it up on Christmas Eve day because my parents were coming and my son was going to be home. I felt an obligation to participate in the festivities for their sake.

It wasn’t always this way. I used to decorate my house from stem to stern (including 3 different trees), prep elaborate dinners and parties, and wrap gifts as if they were being entered into a contest. Since my divorce however, and as I get older in general, I’ve become quite a Scrooge about the whole holiday. But I digress…..

So what’s the holdup? Well… put the tree away, I’d have to go down into my basement. First I’d have to try not to KILL myself tripping over the junk I’ve piled on the stairway leading to the basement. On rare occasion, I will open the door to the basement (a door that is always locked) and put something on the steps so that I don’t have to go all the way down INTO the basement. (That kind of makes it sound like my basement is miles away. “Make sure your canteens are full, your bladders are empty, and then mount your donkeys folks… we’re going to – THE BASEMENT.”)


Seriously, it’s a mess. More of a mess than my upstairs space is (and that’s saying something). I’ve realized that almost everything in the basement is left over from my “former life”. There’s nothing down there that I use regularly (except the Christmas tree). The door is opened only when it absolutely has to be. It’s a bit like a dank, dusty, mildewed shrine to what used to be.

It has become apparent to me that shoving (and keeping) all that stuff down there (both literally and figuratively) is preventing me from doing what needs to be done in the present. It’s not the tree I need to get rid of; it’s the crap in the “basement”.

Oh, look at that. Obama has a pinecone in his nose.


Whont….Whont………………Whont. December 30, 2009

I’ve been a little slack in the blog-writing department lately.  I can blame part of that on the fact that I’ve actually been super busy, part on the holidays, but truth be told, I  the main reason is that I’ve quickly fallen back into the negativity rut. Anything I thought to write sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Whont, whont….whont…”  All the same.  Blah, blah, negative blah, blah, blah………..

So as the new year approaches I will attempt (again) to turn over a new leaf.  Write of more positive things, have more hopeful thoughts and (as I always promote) continue to laugh as much as possible.  Trust me when I tell you, you will not mistake me for Pollyanna, but I think it’s time to talk the talk so that I can walk the walk. 

So Here Goes! ……………………uh……………………………………………………….hmmmmm………………………………………………….


I’m gonna have to get back to ya.


Dear Santa December 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle @ 9:06 am
Tags: , , ,

Dear Santa,

I know you must be really busy this week, so I’ll try to make this brief. I have been pretty good this year (though I did flip off that one jerk who cut me off to get to an exit-but he totally deserved it!).  I hope it’s not too late to give you my list.  I’ve been kind of busy myself and forgot to do it earlier.  (Hey, Christmas is one week away, and I just started my shopping… I’m thinking one person at this late date shouldn’t throw you off too much.)

Anyway……I just really want two things for Christmas this year.  A new winter coat and a gastric bypass operation.  If I had to pick just one, I would go with the gastric bypass.  Actually, with the gastric bypass I wouldn’t need a new winter coat (I have about 10 of them that would fit 20 pounds from now.)

I know you’re probably thinking that this a pretty extravagant request and that it’s not entirely necessary.  I suppose there is some in truth in that, but left to my own devices (and vices) my past efforts have shown that I just can’t be trusted.  Besides, I really miss clipping my own toenails.

I’m just thinking that if I automatically threw up every time I ate something rich, sugary or too large in portion, it might go along way toward changing my habits. 

Don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m not against overweight people.  I’m mean… look great.  I could never pull off that thick belt look.    It’s just that I’d just really like to cross my legs again sometime in 2010.

Well…have a great holiday, Santa.  Say hi to the Missus.