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Ch-ch-ch-Chia! December 9, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Humor & Satire, Uncategorized.
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This is one of my all-time favorite posts, so I’ve made it sticky just in time for the holiday season. 
(You’re welcome.)
-E (12.13.12)


It’s Christmastime again
and the Chia Pet commercials are everywhere.

Apparently, Chia Pets don’t seem to sell at any other time of the year. I’m thinking that they might make a great gift for the White Elephant party that my husband and I have been invited to, where you have to bring a tacky gift, instead of a “real” gift, but we’re still on the fence about that one. 

The concept of actually buying a Chia Pet made me think, and I realized that I don’t believe I know anyone who really has one, despite the fact that you can get them at CVS, Walmart, K-mart and other fine stores. 

This of course led me down another path of bizarre logic. Since their “watch it grow” inception in the ’70s, we’ve had the Original Chia Pet, Chia Daffy, Chia Buggs, the Chia Head and many other Chia charaters. There’s now even Chia Cat Nip, so your furry friend can get in on the Chia action.  But what about the Chias that never made it to market? Here are a few, and warning, these are not for the easily offended. (more…)

Mama Interrupted January 6, 2009

Posted by emsgeiss in Humor & Satire, parenting & family.
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Interruptions. They seem to punctuate parenthood. They also seem to punctuate working from home. The phone rings at the most inopportune moment, the spouse calling (or texting) to inform you that they have to stay late at the office, the bell rings during the toddler’s elusive  nap time, the call of “Mama, Mama, come play with me” interrupts the train of Pulitzer-winning thought that was flowing effortlessly from your fingers to the keyboard, and so on.  Those are among the basic, daily interruptions that  many of us contend with in one way or another. Then there are the big life interruptions: illness, death, pregnancy, going into labor, airport delays, war, severe storms and blackouts … oh yeah, and the holidays, which as much as we might anticipate them, do seem to interrupt life’s usual rhythm of chaos.

For us, the holidays and the end of 2008 were marked by a series of some of these “big”  interruptions (thankfully, none of them too tragic), but definetely enough to have 2008 end for us with neither a bang nor a whimper, but more of a dull thud that resonated into 2009  much like the overtone series or the series of ripples on a pond after being upset by the smallest of pebbles.  Actually, I’ve been Mama Interrupted for the greater part of the fall and winter, so it only seems befitting that this state of being should have carried into the holidays.

The holidays started with delusions of stress-free normalcy: cleaning and decorating for Christmas (no we’re not the decorate-the-house-and-string-the-lights-the-day-after-Thanksgiving family);  getting to the market; shopping for the The Boy’s last Christmas as an only child; getting out holiday cards, and the litany of other pre-holiday preparations.

But Mama isn’t the only factor involved. There are also The Husband, The Boy, the “baby” and the Fates.  Apparently my Muse went on vacation — perhaps to Hawaii to hang with the Obamas and the press corp — and left me with her cousins, the Fates, who thought that it would be all too much fun to mess with me and my grand plans for organization, to get ahead on work, research my next opus and make plans for our new schedule once the husband takes his newly elected post.)

The Fates tinkered with me. They decided to toss in a heaping table spoonful of snowstorms and for added flavor, two dashes of tiny colds — one for me and one for The Boy. For The Boy, this was but a mere inconvenience of having Mama chase him with tissues to remove the shiny gel cascading from his nostrils onto his upper lip. For Mama, it only added to the exhaustion of being pregnant while chasing after a toddler with said tissues, and fully determined to not make The Boy’s last singleton Christmas not suck.  Meanwhile, our house lay in limbo between campaign-aftermath and the holiday season as The Fates toyed with schedules and extra pre-vacation committments for The Husband, and needing to also prepare for his local swearing-in ceremony scheduled for New Year’s Day.

We managed to make Christmas and The Boy was elated. But this effort did not go without punishment from The Fates. The lovely ladies decided to knock me on my ass — well, more like flat on my back — allowing the effects of their simmering brew to take full effect.The day after Christmas, I was really sick. But that was not enough for those playful ladies … oh no! They decided that The Boy’s naps should also take a vacation, and that The Husband should bring home work.  I had no choice but to let them have their fun — the three dancing around me with great zeal and choreographing in counterpoint to their own dance, a pas de deux between my two children — the elder singing “Mama, Mama” every few moments, imploring me to join him on the floor with his cars, the one within me using my thimple-sized bladder as a bosu ball. All the while The Husband clickety-clacked on the computer, occasionally chanting to The Boy, “let Mama rest.”

“What next?”  The trio of tricksters asked each other. Perhaps, a black-out. (The sisters are quite fond of drama.) And thus storms ensued along with what for us was nearly two days without power, and initial forecasts from DTE that it could be several days before everyone was back up and running at full capactiy.  Ironically, only a mile away, my sister-in-law was spared from the darkness, so we went there … but not without my Muse’s sitters for me in tow.  Excited to be with his cousins twice in nearly as many days, The napless Boy wanted no part of bedtime, and did everything in his power to avoid it. (The Fates, by the way, like to share their fun, and did so with a greater portion of the area.)

Our power was restored (along with the phone and Internet), but not without leaving us to have to reboot and renetwork everything and a two-day frenzy of making preparations for The Husband’s big event, planning orignally scheduled for the period of time when we were without power. (Oh joy, oh bliss! The Fates giggled as their dance became an all-out jig.) My darling sitters gave me enough energy to make it through New Year’s and the Husband’s big event … but decided next to prey on The Boy as a parting gift for me in anticpation of the Muse’s return from her hiatus. By Saturday night, The Boy had a fever. By this morning, he was too sick to resume daycare, an event I was anticipating eagerly so that I could return to my work and the beginning of our new schedule — one that I’d planned to get a handle on during the holidays and when The Husband was on “vacation.”

Each attempt to gain clarity and regain control became more elusive as the Fates insisted that at every turn, Mama was to be inter—

Hang on, I hear a fuss from upstairs. (It’s all good — The Husband’s on it.)

While interruptions happen, I’ve decided that the Muse left me in the hands of  her cousins, to create a grand finale of interruptions to mark the end of a very interesting 2008 and start of 2009 wherein Mama will weather the interruptions better and be more focused, creative and constructive in doing so.  So instead of the interrupted resolutions list started before we lost power, for 2009, I think I will sum up as having an overarching theme. One that is for a new sense of discipline — in spite of the interruptions that may come flying at me. The Twisted Sisters can go play with someone else for a while — and when they’re back for more fun and games, I’ll be ready for them.

© 2009 Erika-Marie S. Geiss

Launch and Signing Party–Blogging Live-ish October 18, 2008

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And we’re here, at Heritage Perk…broadcasting and blogging live from the event.

Please feel free to join in and comment.

Don’t forget, one lucky person from the Web, among today’s commenters will be chosen at random will win the matching gift of a mini starter stationery wardrobe, which will be given away today at the signing. And, for those joining in from the Web, book purchases made before 11:59 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow (Sunday, October 19, 2008) will have their copies signed.

Purchase here

UPDATE: Watch us live the video soon…we’re we were experiencing technical difficulty on and off throughout trying to broadcast.  But once the video is up, you can watch and comment and still have a chance to win the bonus gift.

Shiny! Book Launch and Signing Party! October 17, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in writing/editing/blogging.
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It’s official.

My latest book, The Right Words for Any Occasion is out, and tomorrow (Saturday, October 18) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Heritage Perk Coffee House in Taylor, Mich. is the Book Launch and Signing Party.

Book launches and signing parties being what they are, it usually means that you have to be at a physical bricks-and-mortar location to join in, which in this case is true too, unless that is, if you’re hundreds or thousands of miles (or oceans) away.

So what’s a girl to do, when she really wants to share the fun with her friends and family who are far away? She streams the event live on the Web, so that everyone who wants to be at the signing and launch who wants to but can’t be there can still be there virtually. It’s no Second Life, but it’ll just have to do.

The good thing is that the virtual attendees will still be able to get signed copies-if they purchase theirs before Sunday, October 19 at Midnight (Eastern time).  And … there’ll be a bonus gift give-away at the signing, which one lucky random Web participant will also get. How will the Web-winner be chosen? Simple…post a comment during the Live Broadcast of the Signing, and one of the commenters will be chosen by whomever wins the give-away at the live event

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Purchase your copy of The Right Words for Any Occasion – The handy guide for your letter writing needs for social, personal and business correspondence. Purchase before midnight Sunday, October 19 and you will receive a signed copy as part of the Book Launch and Signing Party. Purchase Here
  2. Tune in tomorrow, Saturday, October 18 starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time to join the fun ’til 4 p.m. Where? Here.
  3. Comment during the live broadcast and be entered to win the matching bonus gift give-away at the signing party at Heritage Perk. What can you win? A mini starter stationary wardrobe, of course. (Now you have to get the book to find out what I’m talking about.) (Specific commenting/gift eligibility rules will be posted right before the event.)

Hope to see you there (or here) tomorrow, Saturday, October 18 between 2 and 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
(And for you Wolverine fans…don’t worry, the event ends before Kick Off!)

DNC08-Days 2 & 3 August 28, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in politics, Uncategorized.
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Day Two

Everyone, by now, knows that Hillary Clinton’s rallying call last night, to unite behind Obama is history, and that today the delegates will cast their official votes to select the democratic nominee for the Presidential election.

But back to last night for a bit. What viewers watching at home can’t see, is quite a spectacle. We were on the floor last night for the speeches, and after a day of other events that we needed to attend (along with the daily schelp to pick up our credentials), we arrived just in time to gain access to the floor before they realized that the were over capacity and closed the floor, regardless of credential level. (I imagine that key people, such as staff or press covering the event from the floor were still able to get in.) Being able to watch the event from the floor was exciting, but from the comfort-standpoint (and we were standing), sitting in the gallery as we were for Monday night was much better. We could see better, and, well … we were sitting. But it was still exciting to be in the “thick of it” even as we were all herded along to songs of “keep moving, folks, keep moving.”

Once the final benediction is given, and everyone leaves, the feeding frenzy starts. The staged media, with their “on location” sets have to do their post-mortem reporting. The “on the ground” media have to find delegates and members of the general public attending to interview. Camera crews film, or try to get back to their posts and catch up with their producers. And the political junkies swoop down like predators to carrion on the campaign signs that have been discarded and litter the floor and remain on the seats. They travel upstream, against the flow of traffic, nearly climbing over chairs, squatting on the floor to collect the very signs and slogans that you see being waved during the key moments when you’re watching on T.V.  Of course, many people keep the signs that they’re given, maybe grab one or two extras for the kids back home, or that loyal supporter/friend they have who couldn’t attend and said, “if you can get a Hillary-Obama-campaign-Michelle-whatever sign, bring me back one,” and then there are the crazy people — and believe me, there were lots. Being a political wife, I get the “celebrity” of politics, but I also know that these folks are just like us and put on their pants the same way. And, while I do share profound sentiments of admiration for many other professional public servants, I also try not to be that person, you know, that “fan” — the one who sees that you’re having dinner with your family, but decides that now is a perfect time to hover over you for longer than it takes to say, “hello _______” (insert title/honorific) and shake hands.

One of the amazing things are the people who are there, who just soak up being around political figures. (We actually had a tiny accident, because someone not with the people that we were traveling with learned that my husband’s a nominee and just wanted to talk and talk and talk. Which, in itself is not a problem, and my husband was being very gracious, despite the fact that we were trying to get a photo done in a space that was becoming increasingly crowded. To make a long story short, personal space was invaded, and my poor husband got knocked off of the chair that he was standing on (so taht I could get the photo), with such a commotion, that Katie Couric herself (who was behind us) turned around mid-broadcast to make sure that he was okay. (I turned all shades of red). The chatty one, bending my husband’s ear, didn’t quite realized that he’d caused the accident, and oddly enough, just watched instead of offering him a hand out from between the chairs. It was both the most personally embarrassing and comical moment of the trip. (So far anyway.)

Day Three

Yesterday was busy. We had morning and afternoon events to attend, as on the other days and made our way to the Pepsi Center around 6 p.m. after picking up our credentials. Security was tighter than the previous evenings, which we thought was because of protesters. Actually, when we were heading to our first event of the day, we had to cross a protest, where the police — fully outfitted in their swat gear — were ready for the first sign of trouble. (Not fun, having to cross that line.) Anyway, once again our credentials got us on the floor and briefly, were able to sit with the delegation, during Bill Clinton’s speech.  We watched the rest of the speeches from a different spot on the Floor. Inspiring is the best word that can be used to describe the day and evening.

DNC08 Day 1: Personal Reactions August 26, 2008

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My husband and I are in Denver at the DNC08 convention, traveling with the Michigan delgataion. This is my first Democratic Convention, and it has been simply amazing. The energy and excitement here is bubbling to say the least. With my husband, now the Democratic nominee for State Rep for our district, we are getting to spend time with memebers of the Michigan legislature who are here. The early parts of the day are filled with Michigan-related events, the convention in the evening, followed by more post-convention Michigan events. It’s very busy. And the “jump right into the pool” introduction to this level of politics is like nothing I could have ever imagined. In many ways, it’s a little surreal. I have to pause every now and then and step back to take it all in, a bit flabbergasted that we’re actually here.

Yesterday’s speeches at the convention were beyond moving, the highlights (for me anyway) hearing Jesse Jackson, Jr. speak and his eloquent reference to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech” stating that he was certain that MLK was looking upon this convention and noting that it’s the first one in sight of a mountain top. Hearing and seeing Senator Kennedy (my former Senator, from when I was a Massachusetts resident)-lucid and sharp as ever, and seeing Michelle Obama deliver a very real, very human speech, not just about Barak, but about the tasks ahead of us between now and the general election and once he’s elected, the important work to be done as a nation. As a political wife and a mom, her sentiments resonated with me profoundly. Of course, I’m not alone in that … there are many of us in this position … upholding our husbands who are dedicated to public office, all the while raising and protecting our children, trying to maintain some sort of normalcy and managing our own careers outside of political life. It was indeed profound and affirming. So we’re on to day 2 now, and I can say with great confidence, that I’m looking forward to it.

The Smart One: A Blogstop Book Tour Book Review August 8, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in writing/editing/blogging.
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Relationships. At its core, that is what Ellen Meister’s The Smart One is about. Through non-stop action and descriptive language that not only puts you in the scenes physically, but emotionally, Meister unravels a spellbinding story with wit and panache. Starting in media res, living through protagonist Bev’s interview for a position that could take her out of life-long home of New York for a fresh start—away from the disappointments and distractions created from a lifetime of trying to live up to the labels and expectations of her parents, her sisters—and even herself. Bev, the middle child, was labeled as “the smart one,” nestled between Claire—”the pretty one” with the “perfect” life: wife, mother, Soccer Mom extraordinaire, and Joey—”the wild child”—a recovering addict and former one-hit-wonder rock star. All three sisters love each other tremendously, but cannot seem to escape the bounds of the labels created for them or the sibling rivalry.

A strange twist of fate that has Bev house sitting her childhood neighbors’ home while she awaits news about her new job also reconnects her with old neighborhood friend Kenny Waxman (and son of the same neighbors). Kenny and Bev have a history themselves, one which in itself is complicated, especially as Kenny struggles with his own family-expectations issues and adds yet another dimension to the connection between past, present and future.  Bev returning to her childhood home on Long Island serves to upset that strange balance of family (and neighborhood) dysfunction that many of us know all too well.  Kenny and Bev, back home for the same mission (to help sell Kenny’s parent’s home) leads to an accidental journey of discovery to unravel the mysteries hidden in an industrial drum found in the Waxman’s crawl space — mysteries that serve to disrupt the appearances that suburban life tries to maintain as a decaying pregnant corpse is revealed as the drum’s contents. Bev, her sisters and Kenny end up unraveling the secrets and mysteries of the quad’s own former lives, those of their families and sheds light on where each may be  heading as individuals.

Meister’s characters are strangely real — as if you’ve met them before, and the storyline moves well, urging you to turn the next page for more. The Smart One is a perfect read for the end of the summer, and one that’s certain to become among those that you pick up and read again … and again … and again.

The Smart One is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Booksense and Borders. To learn more about Ellen Meister and her previous work Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, visit her Web site at www.EllenMeitser.com. The Smart One is published by Avon an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Smart One
by Ellen Meister
NewYork: Avon/HarperCollins, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-112963-9

This book review is part of the BlogStop Book Tours book review series for The Smart One . Visit BlogStop Book Tours to learn more.

Future stops on The Smart One book tour are:

To read the reviews at the previous stops on The Smart One book tour, visit:

Brandana: A Discredit to Women in Politics August 1, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, politics, writing/editing/blogging.
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As I watch (and live) the local campaign season, I find myself completely disappointed in one of the Democratic candidates in the race for State Representative for Michigan’s 22nd district, a seat made vacant by the term-limited Hoon Yung Hopgood.  In full disclosure, one of the candidates happens to be my husband, hence my statement about living the campaign season. There are two men vying for the seat and one woman. Sadly, it is the woman, Jill Brandana, who is proving to be a discredit to women in politics regardless of how large the arena is or how high the office. I would say this even if my husband were not one of her opponents. There are five reasons and indisputable facts why. (more…)

The Summer Cruise–A Strange Michigan Phenomenon July 26, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Humor & Satire, parenting & family.
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I’m not from Michigan originally. In fact, I’m from Back East…Bahstohn…to be precise. So there are certain Michigan summer traditions that are just anathema to my understanding, things that even after five years of living here, I really still cannot wrap my brain around. Among them are the Summer Cruises. No, no…not that kind of cruise, where you actually board a boat and go somewhere. This is the kind of cruise that involves motor vehicles and occurs on dry land…after all, this is the Motor City. (more…)

Woo! It’s the AW Blog Comment Blitz June 27, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Uncategorized.
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This is one of the most fun things about blogging/writing and hanging out with an awesome group of writers.

I participated last year, and it was great to find new blogs to read and comment on (even if I still only lurk now). You know how it goes…so many great blogs to read…so little time, and I hate making those “nothing comments” like “great post,” so for me commenting takes thought, time…just as it does for these folks…none of whom would ever be mistaken for being blog comment pussies. (Many thanks to Suzanne Franco for adding that term to my lexicon. LOL)

Here’s the line-up blogroll:

  1. Peregrinas
  2. http://jjcooperaus.blogspot.com/
  3. Auria Cortes
  4. Puttin’ Words on Paper
  5. Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama
  6. http://celebritytoday.today.com
  7. http://www.alleslinks.com
  8. http://chronicpain.today.com
  9. http://lissyssuitcase.blogspot.com
  10. http://impossibleuniverse.blogspot.com
  11. http://musingsfromthemitten.com ←you are here
  12. http://plaidearthworm.blogspot.com
  13. http://thewordynerd.blogspot.com/
  14. http://www.2passthetorch.com
  15. http://carolinewilson.typepad.com

For those not familiar with the great blog comment blitz, over the next week, we’ll all be visiting each other’s blogs and commenting on any post.

It’s on, and it’s going to be wicked good fun. 😀

Copyright © 2008, Erika-Marie S. Geiss

Book review: Apologies Forthcoming by Xujun Eberlein June 25, 2008

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A Blog Stop Book Tour Book Review by Erika-Marie S. Geiss

The stories in Xujun Eberlein’s Apologies Forthcoming (Livingston Press, 2008 ) are a remarkable display of historical fiction where lyrical and vivid imagery  punctuate the socio-political climate of post-Cultural Revolution China. Eberlein’s descriptions of art, music, poetry, love and the beauty of the landscape are prominent metaphors for the emotions that her characters feel and the struggles they face as they emerge from the aftermath of Mao’s last decade in power.

In Pivot Point, where the protagonist, a woman of the “aging youth,” sent to the country side to be educated during the Revolution, finds that at almost 30 — the age of standing — she is “too high to reach,” and unmarriagable. While she achieves great stature professionally, belief in the Party is not enough. She wants something more and contends to endure a relationship with a married man, until she reaches her own tragic pivot point. One line in particular from Pivot Point describes the underlying theme of the entire collection of stories aptly:

“It is not without reason that the Chinese
character for ‘endure’ is a knife atop a heart.”

Eberlein’s ability to shape the Chinese character for endurance where filial, platonic, familial and romantic love are placed secondary to and under the weight of a stark, cold instrument of power and might resonates. Her protagonists struggle with the desires that seem to be in binary opposition to their duties, and each one faces a challenge of reconciling this complicated state, some triumphantly, others tragically. Eberlein’s cultural understanding is intimate, having grown up in Chongqing, China during the period. With the distance of time and geography, after moving to the United States in 1988, her descriptions of the turbulent period and the haunting memories of now middle-aged people, who as youth zealously killed in the warring factions on the Red Guard are unbiased.

Without casting an opinion on the Maoist Cultural Revolution, Eberlein places her characters in this time of social upheaval in a frank and matter-of-a-fact way and the historical facts are presented as events that shape her characters as directly as wind and rain shape the landscape and are as indelible. In Snow Line, Shiao Su abandons his poetry — a representation for his true self, for the “stability” of what is expected of him. And in Second Encounter, set in Massachusetts nearly forty years removed from the Cultural Revolution, a Sichuan man learns that events that unfolded while fighting in the Red Guard had a greater purpose that he could never have foreseen.

The collection of stories in Apologies Forthcoming are pure, real and speak to universal truths about the human condition that transcend geography or time. Eberlein’s eight stories are poignant and so well-written that they beg to be read aloud.

About the Author
Xujun Eberlein grew up in
Chongqing, China and moved to the States in 1988 and in 1995 earned her Ph.D. from MIT, winning an award for her dissertation.  Eberlein joined a small but ambitious high tech company, where she worked until 2003, when she gave up tech for writing. Since then she has won several literary awards and her stories and personal essays have been published world-wide. Apologies Forthcoming is Eberlein’s debut collection of stories and in 2007 won the prestigious Tartt Fiction Award.

To learn more about Xujun Eberlein, visit her Web site or her cultural and literary blog Inside-out-China.

Apologies Forthcoming is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booksense and Powell’s.

This review is part of the June 2008 Blog Stop Book Tours series:

The next blog-venues on the Blog Stop Book tour for Apologies Forthcoming by Xujun Eberlein are:

Previous Blog Stop Book Tour venues for Apologies Forthcoming can be viewed at the following locations: