Knowing that a fear is irrational does not make it any less powerful. For instance, I know there is no reason to be terrified of cockroaches. They are much smaller than me. They are, for all intents and purposes, harmless. (Well, if you don't consider the ramifications of spreading disease, germs, and bacteria.) It's quite possible they are more scared of me than I am of them, but I doubt it. I pretty much go bat-shit crazy when I see a roach. I'm talking screaming, dancing, levitating, all-out panic kind of crazy. Evacuating to the nearest surface capable of holding my weight. Even if that happens to be another human being. Back in my VIP Tour Guide days, I literally crawled over a client's lap...well, technically three client laps since the family members were sitting next to each other...to escape a roach that scampered across the deck of a boat ferrying us from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian dock. I scared the bejeezus out of my middle school students (and quite possibly taught them a few new words) when I pulled a book from a shelf in my classroom and had a roach run across my hand. I mean, this is Florida. Quite possibly the bug capital of the world. So roaches are an inevitable reality. My Knight and I saw something on 20/20 or Dateline or some TV show that revealed that movie theater floors are a virtual paradise for rodents and roaches. It makes sense when you think about it. A never-ending supply of sugary sodas spilled, buttery popcorn dropped, and a variety of candies scattered across the floor. Even the most diligent theater crew doesn't vacuum and mop the entire floor between each showing, so throughout the day/evening, quite a feast can be amassed. Add to that the fact that the room is shrouded in darkness the majority of the time, and it's pretty much the perfect storm for infestation. Learning this was harrowing and horrifying. After all, going to the movies is my absolute favorite hobby, and while I certainly get plenty of mileage from Netflix and Redbox at home, there is nothing like the theater experience. The smell of popcorn. The previews. The anticipation as the lights go down. The laughter and shared emotion with fellow moviegoers. So to learn that my cinematic comrades and I were not alone in the theater was disconcerting to say the least. But my love for movies was strong, and it won out over my fear of roaches. I continued to go to theaters, but told myself I'd be more cautious. I vowed to never put my purse or bag on the floor and swore I'd take antibacterial wipes for the armrests and backs of chairs (though I never did). Maybe it's the same kind of voluntary amnesia that allows women to give birth again after experiencing labor the first time, but somehow I pushed the unpleasant knowledge from my mind in my pursuit of silver screen happiness. I must have been lucky. I cannot count the number of times I've sat in a dark theater and never encountered a rat or roach. Perhaps they have different tastes in movies than I, or perhaps they were there with me all along and I just never saw them. It makes me shudder to think they were scurrying unnoticed around me as I sat riveted to the screen, but it's possible. And may I say, I was perfectly happy being oblivious. Until this weekend. When I nearly unseated an entire movie theater at the Oscar Best Picture showcase. We attend the showcase every year to see the Best Picture nominees back to back. It's an all-day event, and one I look forward to almost as much as Christmas. This year, our theater gave us white tent cards with our names on them to place on seats. During the breaks between each film, people tend to go out for fresh air, concessions, restroom breaks, etc., and it's helpful to have a card indicating which seats are reserved. Like many other patrons in the theater Saturday, the passionate fan in the seat in front of me had placed her tent card on the back of her seat so that it sat just above her head. As we sat entranced by The Revenant*--our last movie of the day Saturday and my least favorite of the eight nominees--I noticed she was not alone in her seat. A roach was clearly silhouetted on the top of her chair against the light of the screen. I nearly came unglued. It was one thing to consider the vile beasts on the floor around my feet. I had never even conceived that they would be ballsy enough to crawl up the seat and so near our heads. I immediately pulled my feet and legs as high into my seat as I could get them, gripping the armrests for dear life as I struggled not to scream and cause mass pandemonium. The roach tiptoed across the top of her chair and then across her tent card as I tried to climb into the seat next to me on top of My Knight, who had noticed my behavior and was peering into the darkness to seek the cause. I pointed at the black splotch against the stark whiteness of the card, and just as My Knight realized what was happening, the roach disappeared over the top of the card mere inches from the woman's head. As I pictured the roach making his way into her hair as she sat unaware, I almost lost my shit. I slapped at my own hair as phantom sensations of creepy crawlies rippled across my scalp. I bit my lip against the scream that rose within me, aware that I didn't want to send an entire theater into panic and be featured on the evening news as a stark raving lunatic. I wanted to muster the strength to tap the woman on the shoulder and warn her, but before I could get my courage up, the roach reappeared at the top of the card and headed down the back of her seat into the darkness. My panic multiplied, and I cursed our position in the middle of the row. I scanned the people blocking my exit on either side of us to gauge which ones would be easiest to climb over. My Knight tried to comfort me and tell me it was gone, but I knew the truth. It was still there. Lurking in the darkness. I tried to take deep breaths and tell myself it was irrational to be so terrified. That it was only a bug. And only one bug. But not knowing what was in the darkness was maddening. I pictured hordes of roaches covering the underside and back of my chair, their bodies writhing together as they prepared to attack. Leonardo DiCaprio may have fought off a bear and hypothermia to survive that film, but he wasn't the only one suffering. My calves cramped from holding my legs at such an unnatural angle to keep them in My Knight's seat. My feet had pins and needles as they went numb from the loss of circulation. My neck and shoulders ached from the tension as I held myself away from the seatback and scrunched my head down to avoid the top of my chair. I kept my arms off the armrests and cradled my purse to me, hoping it hadn't already been invaded. I have no idea where the roach ended up, but the remnants of his memory crawled all over me long after we left the theater. It's a wonder I didn't awake screaming in the night from roach nightmares. What I have seen cannot be unseen. My days in the theater may be over. Do they make pocket-size cans of Raid???? *Side note: The Revenant--kind of ironic that the word means bogeyman, visitor, demon, haunt, phantom, bump in the night. How apropros!
Are you ready for Volume 3 in the Tales Behind the Veils series? Because Diary of an Engaged Wedding Planner is almost ready for release! Today, in honor of Valentine's Day and the spirit of romance in the air...I'm revealing the cover for the new book. Members of my street team, the Ultra Violets, voted for a blue cover, and I think they knocked it out of the park with this one. It looks so pretty with the pink and purple volumes. My cover designer, Robin Ludwig Cover Designs, did a fabulous job--as always--and I couldn't be more pleased with this cover. What do you think? Isn't it beautiful? Here's the rundown on this one: Tyler felt like the luckiest girl alive when her very own Prince Charming proposed. Her euphoria was short-lived, however. Before long, she was wishing she could skip right over the fairy tale wedding and go straight to the happily ever after. In her job as a wedding planner, Tyler has grown accustomed to dealing with demanding brides and their challenging family members. But nothing in her career prepared her for dealing with the most difficult Mother of the Bride she's never encountered--her own mama. It doesn't take long for Tyler to decide her best wedding option may be to elope. The third volume in the Tales Behind the Veils series follows Tyler's hilarious efforts to rein in Mama as they both plan the same wedding with very different visions. It's enough to make an engaged wedding planner feel sympathy for bridezillas, even as she struggles not to become one. THIS BOOK WILL BE AVAILABLE IN FEBRUARY 2016! CHECK BACK FOR A RELEASE DATE SOON!
I feel like it was just early November a second ago, and then I blinked. Bam! It's February. What happened? The holidays. Taxes. Life. But just before the days took off at warp speed, My Knight and I traveled to Roanoke, Virginia for our anniversary and to visit our brother and sister-in-law. On a relaxing, lazy, chilly morning, my brother-in-law took us to charming downtown Roanoke to visit the Roanoke Pinball Museum. I had no idea such a thing even existed. I've later discovered there are many such locations throughout the U.S., all paying homage to an almost obsolete favorite pastime. At the Roanoke Pinball Museum, you pay one entry fee and then you can play unlimited pinball for the day. Holy Cow! Gone are the days of digging through pockets and car consoles for quarters just to play one more game. I don't remember the first time I played pinball, but I played it most often during my college years. Being in the pinball museum surrounded by the flashing lights and old familiar sounds transported me back in time in many ways. I could clearly remember the rush of releasing the plunger on the first ball. The exhilaration of hitting multi-ball and watching the board go crazy. The panic of trying to coax a ball away from the side alleys. The sinking feeling when the ball comes straight down the middle and into the abyss out of the flippers' reach. As My Knight and I traveled from machine to machine, rediscovering old favorites and finding delight in those we'd never seen before, it was amazing how much it all came flooding back. We'd only been there a few minutes when an old familiar sound popped above the constant din of bells and sirens. A loud crack that sounds almost as though the ball has struck the glass. Hearing the sound immediately gave me a little thrill, a little burst of excitement. "What was that?" My Knight asked, and though it had been probably over 25 years since I heard it, I immediately knew. "Someone just won a replay," I answered with a grin. Each machine had a threshold of points that would award a replay if you passed it. Back in the day, it was an accomplishment to be proud of. A goal to achieve. A way to enusre you could play again even when you were out of quarters. It was funny how my body and my mind reacted to the sound and carried me back to the way it felt to hear it years ago. The same thing happened when our game ended and we breathlessly waited to see if we got a "match." If the last two numbers of your score matched the randomly chosen number at the end of the game, you got to play again without needing a quarter. Watching the match numbers spin still filled me with hope and anticipation, even though we'd paid for the day pass and didn't need to "win" a free game to keep playing. We even found my favorite all-time machine---The Fun House. I squealed like a kid on Christmas. I couldn't wait to show My Knight my mad skills at making the balls ride the rails and locking in for multi-ball. Unfortunately, the mouth on the Fun House no longer opened and closed, which I am positive contributed to my astounding loss. In addition to playing on a variety of machines--many so old they didn't have digital numbers and eventually rolled to all zeroes if you scored high enough--we learned quite a bit about the pinball industry through the displays, photos, and video slideshow. I never knew pinball was outlawed from the 40s to the 70s, and only got reinstated in New York City as late as 1976. Because it was seen as a game of chance and not luck, it was branded as a form of gambling. Pinball didn't disappear during those years, but it was relocated to speakeasy and seedy bars and largely became associated with mafia activity. The police would often raid the establishment and destroy the pinball machines. In fact, even after it was legalized, pinball was still seen by many as a corruptor of youth, which explains why so many movies, songs, and TV shows often portrayed the pinball wizard as someone on the margins of society. Who knew I was being a rebel all those years ago, standing in a convenience store in my tiny hometown, cramming in quarters and craving the distinctive pop of a replay?
I'm beginning to think smartphones may be making us dumber. My Knight and I made an impromptu decision to head over to the beach to see the Blood Moon rise, and thanks to our smartphones, we were able to Google the predicted times for the moon's rise, the beginning of the eclipse, the moment the eclipse would be at its fullest, and when it would be over. We also used our smartphones to stay in communication with friends who were meeting us there, to find them once we were all at the beach, and to check out the menu and operating hours of a nearby pizza place. While we sat talking on the beach and watching the clouds for any glimpse of a spectacular lunar event, we all used our smartphones to read up on the trending topic of the world's imminent demise and to post pictures on Facebook of our lackluster view. We shot the breeze, enjoyed the breeze, played in the waves and tossed a frisbee until it got too dark to see. Eventually, we all gave up on the moon and gave in to the clouds. My Knight and I were cruising back home, sunroof open and music blaring when his phone lit up in the console between us. We both glanced at the screen to see "Look at the moon." Assuming it was our friends from the beach, we immediately began searching the skies. We couldn't see any peek of the moon, though. We looked out every window, and I even raised up out of the sunroof to get a 360 degree view. No moon. Our excitement and frustration grew. We couldn't imagine how they would be seeing the moon when we were heading the same direction as them along the same timeline, and yet we couldn't see it. So I picked up his phone to text and ask their exact location. Which is when I discovered it wasn't from our friends after all. It wasn't even a text. It was a reminder My Knight had set on the phone a couple of days before so he wouldn't forget to look at the lunar eclipse. Pretty smart, huh?