Saturday, August 31, 2013

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

"It's too tough boss," my prized fighter said.
"You've almost got this," I said massaging his shoulders.
"I'm not as good as I thought I was."
"Don't let it mess with your head."
"I'm tired."
"You can do this!" 

With some fights all you have to do is enter the ring and your opponent topples to the ground like a fallen oak tree. Other fights are battles with an enemy who won't stop fighting, won't stop attacking, won't stop being an aggressive jerk. Unfortunately, the fight at hand was not the former type. If it had been, this story would over by now. Nope, this fight belonged to the latter category, the hard, fight-to-the-death one. The only unknown was: who was going to die first? 

The fighters in the ring were formidable. In my corner was my protege and fighter--Mr. Wonderful--the best all-around Mixed Martial Artist, DIY destroyer. And I, I, was his manager, trainer and biggest fan. In the opposite corner was his formidable foe--The Slab. 

After breaking down the concrete and the sarcophagus walls, all that was left to destroy was The Slab. 

"I've got this," Mr. Wonderful said bouncing on the balls of his feet hungry to enter the ring.
"Thor's hammer will take care of The Slab," I said confidently passing the tool to my fighter. "In my day I used this to knock down the sarcophagus walls." Mr. Wonderful nodded, then putting his trust in me started swinging. He swung that hammer left, right and six times to Sunday but nothing worked. The Slab reflected each battering ram as if it had been a feather brushing against Half Dome.

The bell rang and Mr. Wonderful darted to his corner and hollered.
"It's not working!"
"I see that," I said because I had witnessed every deflection of The Slab's formidable nature.
"Now what?" my prized fighter shouted from the ring.
"The drill."
"I don't have a drill bit that big!"
"Size," I said wiping my fighter's face, "Is irrelevant. All that matters is what you do with the drill. Harness its power!" I said handing him the tool.

After finding a drill bit the size of the Statue of Liberty, Mr. Wonderful rammed the drill into The Slab. He brrr'ed, whrr'ed and qzvrr'ed throwing his muscular, massaged shoulders into this attack. His efforts were impressive, his strength was massive but there was one problem.

"It's not breaking!" Mr. Wonderful said when the bell rang. 
"I see that," I said because my eyesight was 20/20. Indeed, The Slab was a very worthy foe. "It's a lot stronger that the worst enemy I ever faced in the ring," I said reminiscing on the previous day when I single-handedly broke up the sarcophagus walls. Ah! The good old days. So much could change in a day!
"Now what?" my fighter said his words tinged with fear. I felt the fear too, a growing realization that after all we'd done to clean the clock of this opponent we'd still have to admit defeat. But as they say in MMA demolition: It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings and… we had't heard the aria yet.
"Use the jackhammer."
"The 25 pounder?" 
"The 75-pound jackhammer!" I said as Mr. Wonderful sagged against the ring's ropes. 
"That's a lot of jackhammer." 

Never was there a truer sentence. I'd discovered how heavy the tool was when I rented the thing from the home improvement store. I couldn't lift it into my car alone. In fact, I needed eight pudgy 20-Somethings to get it into my vehicle.

Ringside once again, I helped lower the 75 pounder to my fighter. 
"If this doesn't work," I said "Nothing will." I watched him hoist the blade between his feet while standing atop The Slab.
"So," he said wilting under the weight of the machine. "This is your last idea?"
"That's right, kid. Make it worth it. Or you'll end up on you tail back in Topeka, Kansas."
He nodded. I handed him earplugs. I pushed the power cord into the electrical socket. He squeezed the handles. The machine blasted, belting out a tune every fat lady loved. Using all his weight, Mr. Wonderful steered it into The Slab. The jackhammer's blade sunk into the concrete. It worked! Then it stopped.

"Keep going! It's working!" I said jumping up and down.
"It's heavy."
"I know. Exactly 75 pounds heavy." I saw the exhaustion in his body and face. "Show this opponent who's boss and make that machine sing," I said handing my fighter a glass of water. He guzzled it down, nodded and promptly made confetti of The Slab.

How the fat lady sang! There's nothing as beautiful as a fat lady singing. Except perhaps a pit in your backyard that is concrete-slab free.

"You beat The Slab!" I said dancing around Mr. Wonderful. My champ nodded then collapsed on the sofa. Tomorrow he'll tell this tale of how he beat The Slab but until then, I'll leave him be so he can hear the fat lady belting out that beautiful aria in his dreams.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thor to the Rescue!

"More coffee?" I said noticing the empty cup on the breakfast table.
"Please," Mr. Wonderful said handing it to me.
"More bread?"
"More procrastination?"

It had gotten to this point in our lives. Mr. Wonderful, the ultimate DIY die-hard, was tired of DIY-ing. More correctly, he was tired of breaking up concrete having already devoted two days of his life to it and knowing he'd have to do at least one more but… he just didn't want to so he was looking for methods to stall, to put off the work, to play hooky.

I have to admit, I didn't blame him. The reason for the procrastination was that after breaking up all that concrete we'd found another concrete structure located under the previous concrete slab. This structure had four walls and was built as: 1) The dump bucket for the pool's original filter; 2) A support for the pool; or 3) A hiding place for pirate booty. Anyway you looked at it, the structure resembled a sarcophagus, you know, the thing they used to bury England's dead kings in.

"Maybe Richard III is buried in our backyard!" I said hoping to move my spouse to break the thing down.
"They already found him last year. Under a parking lot. In England," Mr. Wonderful said putting his feet up on the table and sipping his espresso. It's hard to trick a well-read spouse but I kept trying.
"Maybe pirates buried gold doubloons in our backyard! Arrr!" I said limping across the floor with a fake peg leg.
"I'm glad they used concrete bricks manufactured in the 20th century to hide their 18th century booty in," he said without looking at me. It's hard to trick a spouse who knows his history but I kept trying.
"Maybe I'll just do it myself," I said marching outside with a hammer.
"No way!" he said chasing after me.

After descending into the pit, I swung a hammer at the sarcophagus wall only to have my swing interrupted by Mr. Wonderful's arm. 
"I'll do this," he said.
"I got here first." We debated who would do the arm breaking hammer work and who would do the back breaking rubble removal work. What a toss up. He wouldn't hear of me hammering and instead insisted that I continued removing concrete chunks. Since the amount of rubble in our backyard rivaled that found in Dresden after World War II, I didn't argue. Like the sarcophagus, the rubble, too, had to go.  

As I removed wheelbarrows full of rubble, Mr. Wonderful swung at the sarcophagus's walls to no avail. The thing had been built to last and it was outlasting Mr. Wonderful's strength, stamina and interest. 

"Let's switch jobs," I said. Mr. Wonderful kinked an eyebrow. "I want to hammer," I said. "Please?" Finally we swapped tools. Gripping the hammer I swung it like Venus Williams at Wimbledon and BAM! Part of the wall broke off. I swung again. WHAP! More of the wall fell. Again, THWAP! And the walls tumbled down like Jericho. Mr. Wonderful paused to look at me with shock.

"You're good at building things," I said gritting my teeth. "And I'm good at breaking them."
"Don't let me stop you."

I swung again this time with a smile. There's a time to procrastinate and there's a time to channel your inner Thor. What comic book, fanboy geek doesn't want to pretend to be a Norse god making the world right by breaking things with a cool hammer? I confess to being one of those comic book, fanboy geeks. BLAM!

By the end of the day, the sarcophagus walls were gone as were my arm muscles. Ahhh, it's not hard pretending to be Thor if it'll help your spouse. POW!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Painful Break Up

"You getting ready to work?" My 86 year-old neighbor said clutching his newspaper.
"Yes, Harold," I said spreading black plastic on the driveway.
"This job going to be a big one?"
"Yes, Harold."
"You have all the tools you need?"
"Yes, Harold."
"Can I watch?"
"No, Harold!"

Mr. Wonderful and I were embarking on the biggest DIY job we'd ever done on The House and the last thing I wanted was an audience. If Harold had offered to help us with the work, that would have been a different matter. But I didn't know how much weight his 86 year-old arms could carry, how much stress his 86 year-old heart could take and how much white wine his 86 year-old liver could digest. Yep, on this morning my spouse and I began with a glass of Chardonnay then promptly put on our boots and went to work.

We drank before noon because we believe in pleasure before pain. And oh boy, the pain was coming. In steps.

Since our entire backyard was covered in hard surfaces--concrete, brick, titanium--we'd decided to remove some of it, specifically the concrete slab which used to be the foundation for the pool's original filter. You know, the one the Ancient Egyptians installed. 

Here was our day:
Step #1 Went to The Home Depot to rent a circular saw with diamond tips.
Step #2  Back at The House Mr. Wonderful steered the saw, cutting through the concrete. He followed the straight lines we'd made with the sidewalk chalk. We're very high tech.
Step #3 Went back to The Home Depot to return the saw and and rent a jackhammer.
Step #4 The jackhammer weighed 25 pounds but felt like 160 pounds. It broke up the concrete successfully turning the formerly flat surface into a pile of rubble.
Step #5 Mr. Wonderful went back to The Home Depot to return the 25 pound jackhammer, meanwhile-- 
Step #6 I loaded concrete rubble into a wheelbarrow and dumped it on the black plastic in the driveway, meanwhile--
Step #7 Harold looked on with excitement wishing he could participate!
Step #8 I lifted out the last of the broken up concrete chunks and underneath discovered… more intact concrete. Arrgh!
Step #9 Mr. Wonderful returned to The House, saw the extra concrete that needed to be broken up then collapsed on a lounge chair. Arrgh!
Step #10 Harold wanted to get his hands dirty but couldn't. Arrgh!
Step #11 Mr. Wonderful's stiff arms were in pain, meanwhile--
Step #12 I experienced burning back pain, meanwhile--
Step #13 Harold felt massive mental anguish at not working our job.

I crawled to the fridge, retrieved the Chardonnay and despite our sweaty clothes and dirty boots, we drank the wine because it lessened our misery. Although Harold remained sore from being 86 years old and not toiling away. I grabbed a juice glass and poured our neighbor a splash of Chardonnay. He sniffed and drank it. The beverage helped him, too.

We survived an agony-filled DIY day. But realized we'd have to get up tomorrow and do it all over again. But then, that was tomorrow. Today we'd worked well and drunk Chardonnay. Yep, the pleasure eased the pain.

Friday, August 23, 2013


"It's clean," I said sweeping my arm across the backyard.
Mr. Wonderful shook his head. "It's hard." 
"It's good for clay pots."
"It's flat."
"I don't mind it."
"I do."

In this way Mr. Wonderful and I discussed another fixer upper job on our fixer upper House. More accurately, a fixer upper job on our pathetic "backyard", more accurately the jumble of concrete that composed said yard. It would have been easier to discuss if my spouse had smiled or laughed while debating this latest project. But he couldn't because we'd agreed on some things before we bought the place. During escrow we both knew: 1) Repairing The House would be a labor of love; 2) The House had good bones; 3) The backyard was a disaster.  

For everyone on the planet, a "backyard" consists of grass or dirt located behind one's house. That is, everyone's but ours, which was composed of various concrete slabs, brick walks and wiggly stone pathways. Judging by all the hard surfaces, the former owners either hated Mother Nature or they held stock in a stone company. Whatever their situation, it was clear that our backyard looked less like a fertile patch of Southern California goodness than a hard-surface landing strip for a 747s, 757s and the entire fleet of Space Shuttles. 

Nevertheless, removing all that concrete--what Mr. Wonderful wanted--would be a lot more expensive and back breaking than just leaving it where it lay--what me and my new manicure wanted. As a first time homeowner in Southern California, I didn't know anything about concrete-covered backyards because I'd never seen them before, but apparently out here they are as common as out-of-work actors. There must be a reason for it--the concrete, not the actors. Perhaps concrete provided unknown benefits to our yard, our pool, The House? I wanted to make sure we wouldn't be making a mistake before we dug it up and I broke a nail so I asked the experts.

"It's cheap," our 86 year-old neighbor said sweeping his driveway.
"Okay, Harold," I said leaning against the fence dividing our properties. "But is there any other positive to having a concrete backyard?"
"I said it was cheap, didn't I."

Somedays Harold was a talker and sometimes he wasn't. Today was one of the latter days.

I saw Jerry pruning his rose bushes so I bounded over to ask him if we should remove the concrete or leave it.
"You'll never have to pay a gardener," he said adjusting his San Francisco baseball cap.
"Besides money, is there any other reason to keep the concrete?"
"Removing it is hard work, you could bust the gas line, you could electrocute yourself, you could strangle yourself with PVC pipe. Should I keep going?"
I shook my head.

Born and raised in San Francisco's earthquake country, Jerry had a pessimistic side to him I'd never noticed before.

I caught a glimmer of Charles' car as it pulled into his driveway. When I flagged him down I saw his hair was windblown, his face tan, his teeth white as milk. To remove the concrete or not, that was my question.

"We have concrete in our backyard, too. And I hate it," he said with a laugh.
"Does it help your pool or house?"
He laughed some more.
"But would you spend the time and money to remove it?"
"If I had the time or money, sure!" He said slapping this thigh.

I'm a sucker for a good laugher. And Charles was one of the best.

That night after dinner, I agreed with Mr. Wonderful to remove concrete from our backyard. Not all of it, just some of it. Then I handed him a piece of sidewalk chalk and asked him to delineate what he wanted gone. After drawing all over our property, like the kid's book Harold and the Purple Crayon, I sat down in shock because there was so much remove.

"It's a lot," he nodded. "But when it's gone, imagine how great our backyard will be!" Then he laughed loudly, a warm smile spreading across his face.

Of course I said yes. I couldn't argue with that laugh. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Acting Reality

"You two were busy last weekend," my 85 year-old neighbor said watering her geraniums.
"Norma, we went out, we celebrated, we laughed with friends!" I said as Mr. Wonderful and I set out the garbage bins. 
"Good," she said.
"It was great!"
"What will you do this weekend?"
"Work on the house," Mr. Wonderful said.
"… Oh."

Norma was born and bred in Hollywood but she was a terrible actress. She couldn't even pretend to hide her disappointment that after we'd had a DIY job-free weekend that we didn't want to make it a double header and play DIY hooky this weekend, too. Actually the DIY plans were Mr. Wonderful's. Personally I wasn't thrilled that we would be returning to the home improvement store--again--and getting sweaty, dirty and gross--again--for the benefit of The House--again. But I didn't let on to my spouse because unlike Norma I was (drum roll) an Ac-tor.  

Channeling Bette Davis, I found my motivation, flipped my hair back and tossed Norma a smile. "Yes, this weekend we're going to work on The House. Isn't that grand!" Then I waltzed to the curb pushing the stinky trash bin. Acting is all about putting on a brave face when the show must go on. At least that's what I learned from Lee Strasberg. Or was it Miss Piggy?

"Good morning neighbors!" a red-headed woman hollered from the street, her fluorescent power walking sneakers catching a flare from the morning sun. "Where were you last weekend?"
"Mary, we went out on the town to eat, drink and be merry!" I said with a grin Jennifer Lawrence would envy.   
"You didn't work on your house at all?"
"But we will this weekend," Mr. Wonderful said.
"… Oh."

Mary was the nicest woman in the neighborhood. Correction, the nicest human being on the planet but even she could not pretend to be the good Christian woman she was and feign happiness that we would be working on the House--again--stirring up dust--again--drilling every hard surface we owned--again. The bible is full of Good Christian women but devoid of Academy Award winning actresses. Luckily I, the Ac-tor, was present to add the theatrical pizzazz.

"We left The House alone but, I do declare, we missed it so," I said dabbing my eyes with a tissue a la Vivien Leigh as 'Blanche DuBois'. "This weekend we won't spend it with the kindness of strangers but in the comfort of our beloved House." I couldn't let Mr. Wonderful question my motivation for the scene or my commitment to the DIY work on The House. And the Academy Award goes to moi!

Mary and my spouse looked at me as if I'd gone off my rocker--again. They clearly did not appreciate Tennessee Williams or the the-a-ter. What amateurs!

Climbing into our cars our 86 year old-neighbor waved us down.
"It was quiet here last weekend."
"Because, Harold, we spent the whole time on the town."
"… Oh." He rubbed his bald head. "What're you doing this weekend?"
"Working on The House," Mr. Wonderful said. 
"Sounds exciting," Harold said his eyes lighting up like sparklers on an August evening. "What're you going to do?" His enthusiasm for our DIY work was so genuine and so real it made me realize that: 1) Harold liked when we worked on The House. 2) Our DIY projects allowed Harold to vicariously experience home improvement. 3) Harold was a better actor than me. 

And the Academy Award goes to... Harold.

Always the bridesmaid never the bride. Sigh. It's a bummer being just an amateur.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On the Town!

Highlights of a weekend out of The House well spent!

We went to see the stand up comic, Dylan Moran, perform. He created and starred in one of my favorite shows, Black Books. Moran walked on stage with bags of cake, donuts and candy that Americans had given him for sustenance during his visit here. He ate none of it, and as he so wittily remarked, no one in skinny L.A. ate any of it either. Hilarious!

We went to the Ford Amphitheater to see Flamenco dance performed live under the stars. One word: Wow. 

I got to see my friends, catch up and laugh! It was glorious!

And it's only Sunday! We have another day of fun ahead! Yippee!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Getting Out

"It's Friday! I said thrusting open the curtains.
"Hmm," Mr. Wonderful said knotting his tie.
"It's the weekend!"
"It's time for sun, fun and--"
"Another house project."

If Mr. Wonderful looked in the thesaurus--dot com or Roget's paper version--he would find the following entry: "Fun is a synonym for doing a DIY home improvement project during the weekend for 396 hours straight without food, water or oxygen". If anyone else on the planet looked up "fun" they'd discover that it means a "good time, enjoying, entertaining, lively, merry, or a pleasure-romp-whoopee!" (The exclamation point is part of that last word.)

But Mr. Wonderful is not like other people. He's a workaholic, which after a while gets very un-fun for his spouse. But I wasn't the only one who thought so.

Retrieving the morning paper from the driveway I found tucked underneath it a copy of the LA Weekly newspaper. Next door I saw my 86 year-old neighbor futzing with his flag.

"Harold, is this your LA Weekly?"
"It's yours now," he said adjusting the flag pole. "And it's not a 'paper' but a publication advertising things to do in Los Angeles."
"I don't want to take your newspaper."
"Take it. Read it."
"You need it more than me." 

Harold needed younger knees, more hair and clean arteries but clearly he didn't need any suggestions on how to have fun out on the town. So this old slip-a-roo he did with the LA Weekly meant something more.

"Harold's sick of us working on the house," I said pouring my morning tea.
"That's his opinion," Mr. Wonderful said sipping his espresso.
"He thinks we should forget the House for one weekend and go out on the town for some sun and fun."
"Does he?"

I couldn't blame it all on Harold because I, too, wanted to do something besides another DIY project on The House. But before I could say another word Mr. Wonderful jumped in his car and went to work. As I climbed into my convertible I saw a Triple A magazine on the passenger seat. Next door I saw my 85 year-old neighbor trimming her petunias. 

"Norma, is this your AAA magazine?"
"Take it," she said under her sun hat. "It has a lot of ideas of fun things to do in our area."
"You need it."

Over lunch I called my spouse. 
"Norma is sick of us working on the house."
"Is she?"
"Every weekend this summer we've been tinkering and making a lot of noise."
"And her point?"

I couldn't let Norma take the fall for this because I shared her frustration. How many concerts had we missed at the Hollywood Bowl? Shows at the Ford? And fun friends' karaoke birthday parties even when I was horrible at karaoke? The past few months my spouse and I had become antisocial, House workaholics. I'd forgotten the fun person I was because I had been consumed by the hungry Beast that was The House's never-ending DIY projects. 

But before I could say another word, Mr. Wonderful hung up to go into a meeting so I returned to my sandwich and opened my laptop. I googled shows, I checked my events on Facebook, I paged through the LA Weekly, scanned the Triple A magazine and watched cat videos on youtube and all of it was lively, merry fun! I was baaack!

Over a rice and steamed vegetable dinner I made an announcement.
"This weekend we're going to do fun things."
"Oh?" he said dishing up some veggies.
"I bought us tickets to a show at the Ford Amphitheater."
"And a concert at the Bowl."
"And we're going to a friend's birthday party."
"At a karaoke club?"
"At a bar," I kinked an eyebrow. "How does all that sound to you?" He looked up from his plate and smiled.
"Like fun."

Finally! Mr. Wonderful saw things my way--the fun way! Harold and Norma definitely would be happy to see us out of The House so they could have some peace and quiet. But that wouldn't compare to how I'd feel being out on the town with my spouse. This weekend's going to be a pleasure-romp-whoopee!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Writing Life

Who to write? 
What to write? 
When to write?

Such challenging questions! Where do you begin writing? Honestly, I haven't a clue. What I mean to say is, I have no idea where every writer on the planet should begin writing. But I DO know where I should begin writing--with wine and a sense of humor. Since writing is so individualistic, I can only say what works--or doesn't work--for me. 

But since writing is done by so many perhaps some things I've discovered about my own writing journey can help you. Interested? To read more click here about my writing life.

Happy writing and reading! And thanks! 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Check's in the Mail

"Hello neighbor, I don't believe we've met," I said to the older woman with the well coifed hair. 
"I know all my neighbors," she said pursing her lips and squinting her eyes.
"My husband and I are new on the block."
"We live in the fifth house on the right."
"The house with the palm trees."
"With the trim--"
"Oh, the one with the garden!"

What busy lives we had that after living in The House for months we were still meeting our neighbors. Margaret told me me she was single, owned a fluffy tan cat named "Satin" and worked in an office where the motto these days was "the check's in the mail". She also lived on the other end of the street away from Mr. Wonderful and I. Which for all intents and purposes meant she could be living in New York, Shanghai or Timbuktu, considering how often I'd seen her. 

But that did not stop me from wanting to meet her. Besides she'd noticed our front garden so I liked her already.

Mr. Wonderful and I had transformed our front yard from a turfed putting green into a butterfly's paradise. We did it for the birds, the bees and because I was sick of spending my weekends mowing the lawn. But Margaret wasn't the only one who'd noticed.

"Your garden is beautiful," Stephen said pruning his fruit trees with shears.
"Look at your pomegranates,"I said stopping to admire the sweet orbs hanging from the tree's branches like Christmas ornaments.
"I'd take your garden over pomegranates any day," he said wacking off a branch with the swing of a samurai warrior.

Since his pomegranates were more edible than my lavender shrubs, I didn't rationally agree with him. But receiving compliments isn't rational. It's irrational, emotional and close to your ego--I mean, "heart". So I accepted his horticultural compliment with both hands and all of my ego. Besides he'd noticed our garden, which made me like him even more. 

Mr. Wonderful and I chose to make our garden a turf-free zone when we did because the city was offering a refund to residents who did the conversion. We followed all the rules, submitted our applications correctly and were approved by the program in Sacramento. But we still hadn't received our refund. I emailed around to follow up about this refund and was told the "check is in the mail", which I believe is what they call the oldest trick in the book.

"Your garden has grown a lot," our 86 year-old neighbor said walking across his barren lawn to our driveway.  
"Thanks, Harold," I said surprised at his compliment. "The plants have doubled in size since we planted them."
"What do you call those?" 
"Lantana," I said. "Do you want some?"
"Do you want to convert your turf to a garden?"
"Do you even like our garden?"
"Norma's calling," he said walking toward his house.

Compliments are like refund checks: they don't come easy and you shouldn't go fishing for them. Yep, the check's in the mail.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Book's Big Day!

"How was your day?" Mr. Wonderful said closing his car door.
"…yeah," I said meeting him on the driveway.
"Your wine book came out today, right?"
"So was it good?"

I'm a writer. I've written millions of words in blog posts, articles and the comments sections of kitten youtube videos but on this day I was having a hard time finding words to describe how I felt about my wine book, Evolution of Wine Drinker, coming out. The technical term for this is "verbal writer's block", which I'd learned about in the magazine "Writer's Neuroses Monthly". WNM published studies about it detailing its harmful effects, which included writers: spending even more time alone, cursing Earnest Hemingway for making the writing life look so easy and failing to finish a single Sudoku puzzle without collapsing into tears. Two studies said that a number of writers suffered permanent verbal writer's block, specifically citing: Thomas Pynchon, J.D. Salinger and Snoopy of the "Peanuts" comic strip. 

However, Mr. Wonderful was not about to let me off the hook that easily. He pressed on.

"Did people like the book cover?" 
"I got some LOLs."
"That's great!" he said. "Did people like your book?"
"Some already bought and read it." 
"That's really great!"
"--and said they liked it."
"That's super great!" Mr. Wonderful said jumping up and down giving me high fives like a trainer to his boxer before the latter climbed into the ring. 

His enthusiasm was contagious. He was right, all these things were great but I'd just needed someone outside myself to say so.  As a writer I'd spent so much time alone, with my nose to the grindstone, working, that it was funny--funny "different" not funny "ha, ha "--to have my book out there and being read by other, real people. I hoped they enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. Actually, now that he mentioned it--everything about the day was pretty darn fabulous! This news about my book was great!

"This calls for a celebration," he beamed. 
"We will drink wine tonight!" I said "I've been saving a 2008 bottle from Grgich Hills for a special occasion like this, and how fitting that this year the winning Napa winemaker is celebrating his 90th birthday!" Once the words starting coming they did not stop. Apparently my verbal writer's block had been a very temporary condition.

Maybe I'll write "Writer's Neuroses Monthly" and let them know how I conquered my verbal writer's block. But first I'll pop open the bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and toast to today, to wine, to how funny life is!--not funny "different" but funny "Ha, Ha, HA!"

My book, Evolution of Wine Drinker, is now available.