In My Defense: Harlequin Novels Count As Literature (For Now)

That’s right, I have a new guilty pleasure and I’m not going to feel (all that) guilty about it.  Okay, I’m feeling a little guilty, or at least embarrassed  because I sure as hell won’t be adding these books to my Goodreads account…but it’s true…I’m reading the free and often cheesy Harliquin and Harliquin-like romance novels from the App Store and I’m kind of liking them.  I’ve not just read one trash book.  Several.  Sometimes several in a week.

I do feel the need to apologize to my High School AP Lit and English teacher, Mrs. Risch.  She did teach me better than this.  Before Mrs. Risch, Danielle Steele was my author of choice.  (Fortunately my parents didn’t read books because I can promise you if they knew what I was reading, there is no way they would have let me read Danielle Steele at twelve-years-old.)    I loved her period pieces even into college I read them.  However, Mrs. Risch didn’t let me graduate high school without knowing the value of real period pieces like Chaucer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis and, of course, Jane Austin.

My Mother in law, Sandy, has also been a great source of book recommendations.  She’s an avid reader and any of the books on my Goodread account are probably recommendations from her.  Jodie Piccoult, Wally Lamb and Alice Seibold are examples of more modern authors I’ve enjoyed.  Besides Novels, I’ve also been a big fan of those trendy thought-provoking business-minded reads.  Malcolm Gladwell – type books.

So, anyway, I’m not going to say that I was ever uber-sophisticated with my reading.  Kyle loves to read Thomas Pynchone and Ayn Rand and I’m not nearly smart or patient enough to get through one of their books.  If I had to some up my book choices, I’d say, I have always liked really well written but simple-to-read books with relatable, strong characters overcoming thought-provoking plots.

And now, I’m reading Harliquin romances.

In case you’ve never read one, they typically are not well written, especially not the free app store version with all the typos.  The characters are not very often that interesting and even if they are, because the books are normally about 250 pages, there is no time to develop them.  Also, there is nothing relatable for me about two people meeting, despising each other and then falling prey to mutual attraction that magically turns into love, marriage and happily pregnant in a two to 30 day period.  I mean seriously, even the 50 Shades trilogy had the decency to discuss [in painful detail] every sexual encounter over a full year period.

So why do I keep reading them?

They give me a mindless escape for those hours between when I want to go to bed and when I can actually go to bed.  I always know there is going to be a happy ending.  The people will be beautiful, rich and successful and they will take each other to the greatest heights ever with their biggest obstacle being proving their love to one another.

It kind of makes me want to puke just writing it…it is trash.  However, yesterday’s trash is sometimes today’s escape.

I like escaping every once in a while.

The books I read in the past challenged my thinking or gave me intense experiences or harrowing stories of people overcoming difficult circumstances.   Excuse me for swearing twice in one post but, why?  Why in the hell would I want to read about that kind of stuff right now?  I have zero need for made-up adrenalin in my life.  Intense is a little too close to home.  No need to seek intensity when you’re still picking up the pieces of your own intense and very real life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I don’t have a wonderful life.  I do.  I have a really blessed and great life.  It is also exhausting and intense.  And some nights, as I listen to the snores of the three loves of my life echoing off the walls upstairs, I like to moonlight in a fantasy world of a Harliquin romance.

I can’t say I’m proud of my most recent book choices, nor will I recommend many of them, but I do accept that, for now, I’m okay not getting a lot of mental stimulation from what I read.

PS, if you want to watch a movie with me, please note, my movie choices are looking a lot like my book choices these days.  Light, funny and over quickly is about all I have patience for in my entertainment.

Endless love
Millzero Photography / Travel Photos / CC BY-SA

In My Defense: Why I Stink at Replying to All Forms of Communication

I have a few posts planned in the “In my defense” theme.  Here is my first.

If there was an award for “Least Likely to Reply” I would be the Mrs. Universe equivalent to the winner.   If I were really honest, I’d change my voice mail greeting to say:

Thank you for the phone call.  Please note, I almost never answer my phone and I never listen to any messages.  For best chance of a response, please hang up the phone and send a text.  If I don’t respond to your text within 48 hours, I suggest a resend.    If the reminder doesn’t work, please accept my apologies in advance.


Email and Facebook Private Messages would have this auto reply.

Thank you for the note.  I do my best to respond to all messages that require a one sentence reply within one week.  However, a reply that requires thought on my part or cannot be communicated in less than one sentence may take closer to one month.  If it reaches beyond one month and I still have not respond, I will be too embarrassed to respond so late and will delete your message.  Feel free to resend, or send me a text, if this urgent.  Thank you for your kind understanding, Tatum.

So, you’re probably thinking, “well, at least she responds to her texts.”  I’d like to say that’s true, but I can only say that I’m better with text, but far from perfect.  Texts are not instant feedback guarantees with me.   Texts often take 48 hours and I can pretty much guarantee, when I do respond, it’ll be from the toilet (err…my office with a lock on the door).

What I hate most about my lack of communication…with EVERYONE…  Seriously, the lottery could be calling to tell me I won the $1 Billion jack pot and I may forget to reply…is that I know it comes across as me thinking my time is more valuable than other people’s time.

I really… I promise.. I do not think that.  We are all crazy busy.  My life is not more important than anyone else’s.

However, my life structure is different from many other’s.  It’s especially different from when I worked outside of the home.  In my working world, my work day was structured in 30-60 minute time blocks.  I usually had meetings filling 50%-100% of my hours in the office and then I’d come home and “do” my work after Kellen was in bed.

Do you know what I would give today to have 30-60 minutes to discuss/focus on anything?  30-60 minutes without needing to stop to give a feeding, or put on braces or an eye patch, or redirect from an accident waiting to happen or to answer “why is my [pretend] car’s exhaust so stinky, mommy” or respond to, “I’m still hungry, mommy”.  30-60 minutes of my brain mostly being focused on one topic.  Now that, is a luxury I can barely imagine anymore.

Honestly, the bathroom is my only sanctuary…that is, if you consider a sanctuary a place where tiny hands are reaching under the door and another voice is yelling, “what’s taking you so long, mommy”?  My day revolves around the needs and attentions of a 2 and 4 year old.  Do you know what their attention span is?  5-10 minutes.  MAX.  And that’s only for something really, really interesting.

This is not complaining.  This is reality.  My world today, is not scheduled in 30-60 minutes time blocks, it is structured in 1-2 minute increments.  If I can give any topic a full thought for 5 minutes, I’m ecstatic.  It might even come out relatively clear without me forgetting a step or a punctuation mark.

I know what you’re thinking, “but there is always nap time”.

Owen takes anywhere between a 15 minute and 3 hour nap (usually 30-60 minutes).  In that time, I write a blog post, make any appointment phone calls I need and try to spend a little time on social media…because that’s how people find the blog.  Oh, that’s also often the first time I’ve eaten all day and about every third day, I’m happy to squeeze in a shower.  Gross, I know.  But again, that’s reality.  (Let’s not discuss the last time I got to take a long enough shower to shave my legs…I might be cast in an upcoming Geico commercial if I’m not careful).

“Okay, I’ll call you at night,” many people think.  By 8:30 when both kids are in bed and I’ve just spent the last 13 hours thinking in 1-2 minute increments, my brain is fried.  I might be on the computer as I pull up The Voice on demand (no time to watch it when it actually airs) and stare at Adam Levine (because I know he’s secretly into married, special needs moms who don’t shower or shave on a regular basis) while I poke around on the computer.  But, really, what I’m doing is waiting for 11:00 when I can go feed Owen and then go to bed.  My brain needs this quiet.  It’s going to be thinking in 1-2 minute increments again in 8 hours.

So, at the end of the day, my email, voice mails  texts and Facebook messages, don’t always get a prompt reply because if you’re asking me for more than two minutes, I will gladly give it, as soon as I find it.  I hope it’ll be soon, because I probably really do want to talk to you.

And, maybe you’re wondering, “If you’re so busy, why not quit the blog”.  Owen is up for his nap now and needs to be fed and have his braces put on, so I’ll just answer with, “Hell, no.  I love my blog.”