Category Archives: Misc.

I, Tania

As a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, I spend a good portion of my time researching unfamiliar topics and reading in a variety of genres. Over the past several years during these efforts, I’ve noticed an unsettling trend emerge – writers of books, movies, and TV shows creating a seedy and sad cast of characters named, um, “Tanya”.

First, researching a picture book I was writing in 2015, I found this gem: Presenting Tanya, the Ugly Duckling, whose description on Amazon states: “After being assigned the lead role in her spring dance recital of The Ugly Duckling, clumsy Tanya wonders if she will be able to live up to the part and truly be able to dance like a swan.”

tanya ugly duckling

Then, this popped up: The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 (light novel), wherein “high above the blood- and mud-soaked trenches, a young girl pits herself against army mages in high stakes aerial duels with bullets, spells, and bayonets. Her name is Tanya Degurechaff and she is the Devil of the Rhine…”

tanya the evil

Next: the confusing Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease… by author Helen Fitzsimons (huh?).

tanya's guide to cat disease

And now, I’ve discovered: Dancing is for Everyone, a picture book for (oh-so-impressionable) children, whose plot is described as such: “An alligator dancing ballet? When the reptile takes her place at the barre, Mrs. Iraina and her dancers are very surprised. But since they can’t communicate with the alligator–and she is able to follow along–they just decide to name her Tanya and let her stay. (Would YOU say no to a 450-pound alligator?).”

dancing is for everyone

450 pounds? Hmmph!

Now, I want to blame this Tanya hate-fest on the notorious Tonya Harding. I mean, who can forget this face:

tonya harding

Or this one:

t harding

And of course, the new movie I, Tonya serves to bring even greater attention to the frizz-haired bad-girl ice skater of the early 90’s.

i tonya

But then I also found this 1976, uh, quality comedy:

Tanya the movie

And this:

hbo hungHBO’s Hung, starring Jane Adams as Tanya Skagle, pimp.

And, who can forget the over-sexed Tanya on Mamma Mia!?

mamma mia tanya

Notice the spelling? I soon realized that “Tanya” and “Tonya” exist on different planes.
And I did what I do best: research.

  • On namestatistics.com, I discovered that Tonya is the 209th most popular girls’ name in the U.S., while Tanya lags behind at 237th.
  • “Tonya” and “Tanya” are both Russian names, but the former means Praiseworthy and the latter is usually listed as a Roman clan name.
  • Tonya is rarely mispronounced as Tony-a, whereas Tanya is often mispronounced (or pronounced differently) as Tan-ya.

Yeah, yeah, I discovered other things too, but you get the idea. And now that I’ve brought this important issue out into the open, I wanted to beg, implore, and plead with writers in all genres to P-L-E-A-S-E (with double cherries on top) get those creative juices flowing in the character naming department. Don’t fall into the I’ll-just-name-the-crazy-lady-Tanya trap! Branch out a bit. Mix it up. Try, say, “Tonya” for your next freaky female. NO! Just Kidding. Try Olive or Becca or Carly instead.

Meanwhile, I’ll be downtown filling out some forms. Starting today, I plan to answer to the oh-so-lovely name of Tania.

 

 

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A Bonus Day You Shouldn’t Leap Over

Usually, this time of year in Indiana is hard for a sun-worshiping, warmth-seeking, green-loving gal like me. Winter is long, hard, and cold, not to mention dreary with its gray skies and leafless trees. And even though I still haven’t decided if Al Gore is right about global warming, I have decided I don’t mind today’s February gift: balmy, upper-50’s and sunshine! It’s a rare treat, and I’ll try to make the most of it.

Another thing I plan to make the most of this February is our bonus day – February 29th. I know we get one of these every four years, so it’s not exactly rare, but I like to view it as a gift. A day to appreciate, an opportunity to seize, and a chance to go all out so it will really make a difference. I mean, really, how often have I said I wish there were more hours in the day, more days in the week, or more weeks in the year? Trust me, it’s a lot. There never seems to be enough time to do the things I need and want to do!

So this Leap Year, I plan to make the most of the whole 24 extra hours I’ve been given. I plan to seize February 29th as the bonus day it is. I intend to make this a Leap Day that will be both memorable and useful, fun and relaxing…enough to hold me over for another four years.

And I invite you to join me!

What will you do with your Bonus Day?

Netflix’s True-Crime Documentary: Making a Murderer

making a murderer

If you’re looking for your next binge-watch and you have 10+ hours, you simply cannot miss Making a Murderer, Netflix’s new true-crime documentary. Set in Wisconsin, but with cautionary tales applicable to any state and just about any family, MAM follows the case of Steven Avery over a 10-year period, beginning as he is released from prison after serving an 18-year sentence on a wrongful rape conviction. Not long after gaining his freedom, Avery files a lawsuit against the local police force responsible for his wrongful conviction. He is then arrested by the very police officials he is suing (along with his nephew Brendan Dassey, a learning disabled 16-year-old who is manipulated and tricked into a confession by investigators and even his own lawyer), for the rape and murder of a local woman.

MAM takes us step by step through the years, through the court process, and through the gut-wrenching aftermath of Steven’s and Brendan’s cases. Via interviews, in-court filming, press conferences, and local news footage, MAM showcases the trial, lawyers, and deeply flawed justice system in place today, while personalizing the accused and their family members. And it will leave you thinking long after the final episode, thinking and hoping and praying that this kind of thing never happens to you or anyone you love.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

I have a middle-aged neighbor who is not exactly the tidiest, shall we say. Over the fourteen years we have lived in our current home, he has kept his large pole barn overflowing with, uh, well, I’m not sure what. I just know that it’s A LOT OF STUFF. And just outside his barn doors, he has left a variety of unusual items sitting for weeks, months, and even years at a time (though not all at once, thank goodness!): a child’s plastic playhouse, some sort of tilling attachment, parts of mowers or grills, bike wheels,  broken ladders, hoses of all sorts…you get the idea. All in all, not the nicest scenery to drive by every day or to have friends and family see when they come to visit.

But a few months ago, my neighbor got remarried and his wife must have put her foot down, bless her heart, because the past few weeks have seen a huge uptick in the number of items leaving his house and barn in various trucks and farm-y vehicles. However, just when I thought I’d seen it all, yesterday I drove by on my way home and discovered a new item abandoned to the elements, the utmost answer to “What could he possibly still have in that barn?” Yes, you guessed it: the kitchen sink. Wonder how long THAT one will decorate the sides of our driveway? Oh, well, you can’t pick your neighbors and all that…

Still, these and other small – and not-so-small – annoyances add up to make me roll my eyes or, more often, shake my head and wonder, “Why, why, why?” But, like other common-sense lovers out there, I just grit my teeth and pray for patience in dealing with the, uh, interesting folks God has put on this earth. What else is bugging me about my neighbors and fellow human beings in general on this hot, hot, did I mention HOT, day? Here’s my list of what’s annoying me most this week:

Cashiers who call “Next” and take whoever shows up first, not who’s next in line

People who eat over library books, leaving behind bits and pieces for the next reader (or rub their eyes, leaving eye lashes between the pages)

Construction workers who hold up the STOP sign just as you’re about to go through the zone and no one else is behind you

Models whose legs are 75% of their body and mouths are 50% of their face, and the fact that clothing designers and magazines think this is “beauty”

Neighbors who decide to use loud power tools the day of your outdoor party

People who drive 5-10 mph UNDER the speed limit when a police car is nearby

Pop songs that keep the same beat throughout, often with words that just repeat over and over

People who splash water all over the bathroom counter in public restrooms , leaving puddles , so you can’t put your purse down there to primp

People who say “No problem” instead of “You’re Welcome”

Guys, some teens (but not all), who spit on the sidewalk as they walk along

When parents talk to their above-5-year-olds by referring to themselves in third person. For example, on vacation: “Mommy needs a drink now, honey. Go play on the balcony while Mommy mixes it up.” (Ha ha…just kidding.)

People who drive around with dogs on their laps or hanging out the driver’s side window

When the mail person comes early only on the days I have outgoing mail, but I don’t get to the box in time so I have to drive the mail to the post office

Parents who do their kids’ school projects for them, making other kids feel stupid and inept

Loud cars, monster trucks, or motorcycles that fly by when you’re enjoying eating at an outdoor café

Drivers behind you who only decide to use the passing lane right when they see you are about to need it to pass a slow car, thereby forcing you to slow down and wait for them to pass first

So, okay, I know these are not life-altering issues, but they’re small things that add up to big annoyances over time. And a few, I fear, add to the death of common sense. I do feel better now, getting those off my chest. I can only hope I’m not on too many other people’s lists for MY annoying habits (like correcting spelling on forms and letters when I find typos…sorry, I just can’t help myself!).

What’s on your common sense list of annoyances this week? Go ahead, you’ll feel much better just writing it down (but please, be sure to check your spelling first…it’s just a little thing I have).

A Bonus Day You Shouldn’t Leap Over

Usually, this time of year in Indiana is hard for a sun-worshiping, warmth-seeking, green-loving gal like me. Winter is long, hard, and cold, not to mention dreary with its gray skies and leafless trees. And even though I still haven’t decided if Al Gore is right about global warming, I have decided I don’t mind today’s unusual kick-off to February: balmy upper-50’s and sunshine! It’s a rare treat, and I’ll try to make the most of it.

Another thing I plan to make the most of this February is our bonus day – February 29th. I know we get one of these every four years, so it’s not exactly rare, but I like to view it as a gift. A day to appreciate, an opportunity to seize, and a chance to go all out so it will really make a difference. I mean, really, how often have I said I wish there were more hours in the day, more days in the week, or more weeks in the year? Trust me, it’s a lot. There never seems to be enough time to do the things I need and want to do!

So this Leap Year, I plan to make the most of the whole 24 extra hours I’ve been given. I plan to seize February 29th as the bonus day it is. Over the next four weeks, I intend to plan a Leap Day that will be both memorable and useful, fun and relaxing…enough to hold me over for another four years.

And I invite you to join me!

What will you do with your Bonus Day?

Where Do All the Lonely Socks Go?

As a mom of two busy teens and a, um, how shall I say it, slightly scatter-brained tween, not to mention wife of a computer-geek kind of guy, and a pretty organized person in general, I pride myself on what my family views as my insider’s knowledge. Seems moms worldwide are the keepers of this knowledge: “Honey, where is my…?” and “Mom, have you seen my…” are familiar refrains in my household and millions of others. In fact, just the other day my hubby asked where he might find his painstakinly hand-colored topographical map of a favorite hiking area, one I haven’t seen in years. And my 13-year-old awakened me from a deep sleep to discover the whereabouts of her sister’s sleeping bag. Both items were needed for a trip they were taking the next day. And both items were uncovered in minutes instead of hours thanks to my guidance.

With all this insider’s knowledge, however, one mystery remains and dogs my every attempt at organization: where do all the lonely socks go? I’ve searched high and low: reached under dust ruffles, riffled through dress-up boxes, rubbed hands inside pants legs, even (almost) ripped open the dryer vent, all in an effort to bring peace to my days and an end to this endless search.

This question is not mine alone, for entire industries have grown up around this enigma. LittleMissMatched is a company that earned $32 million in 2008 by selling three-packs of socks THAT DON’T MATCH! They even highlight the plight of lost socks with a Lost Sock Memorial Day on May 9th each year (is it merely coincidence that this is my “I-can’t-find-my-sock” tween’s birthday? I think not!).

Of course, no one really needs to spend a penny to be in style these days if all you have to do is wear mismatched socks. If you’re like me, you already have a large pile to choose from each day; at last count, my pile of lonely socks topped 20! They may not be as colorful and clever-looking as the ones from the store, but at least they won’t be lonely anymore. And if their match ever does miraculously show up? Ha ha ha…well, we all know that will never happen. So if you see me walking around this week with one crew sock in blue stripes and one no-show in purple polka-dots, just nod your head and think to yourself, “Those are two less lonely socks in this world thanks to Tanya.”

Your Morning Pick-Me-Up

Note: This is a blog post from last year I am sending to the archives. If you’ve read it before, just skip. Otherwise, enjoy!

Being a writer/journalist, every morning I look forward to my steaming hot mug of coffee and a browse through my local newspaper. Sure there’s the latest depressing news on natural disasters (I think if I lived in a country with 40 or more volcanoes in what is termed the “Ring of Fire,” I might consider living somewhere other than in a valley), political issues (Congress votes to ban pennies), economic crises (This just in: Dollar now worth 8 cents!) and lost pets (Lost: three-legged Husky/Collie/Bulldog mix, blind in left eye and hard of hearing, answers to the name “Lucky” and last seen in the valley near Mount Pinujab).

But there’s also my very favorite section to which I look forward every day: the Police Beat.

Of course, I browse the listings each day to be an informed citizen…it’s important to know what kind of crazies I’ll encounter as I triple-lock my front door and head out on my errands and adventures. I also like to know what kind of crime wave is occuring in my rural area (unexplainably, there seem to be a lot of missing jars of pennies these days), which neighbors have been arrested for theft or DWI (and yes, there have been a few…think I’ll re-check my dinner party list as I browse), and who has been passing bad checks for clearance meat at the local Wal-Mart store (ewww!).

But more importantly, I read for entertainment. To bring a bright spot to my morning. See, I have discovered even Dave Barry and Dave Letterman would have a hard time topping these true gems:

  • 3600 Block of South Walnut Street, 2:10 a.m. Sunday, a man complained that his girlfriend’s  husband hit him in the face after finding them together in his house. Said he did nothing to provoke him, and couldn’t understand why he was assaulted. Suspect under investigation. [Maybe the police should be investigating the complaintants’ teachers as they clearly failed him in the smarts department!]
  • 400 Block East 20th Street, 12:02 a.m. Wednesday, a 20-year-old man reported he gave someone $60 for marijuana, and after taking the money the person sped away in a vehicle without giving him anything. [Officer, I have a medical condition…]
  • 1000 Block South Rogers Street, 12:56 p.m. Monday, a woman reported someone fraudently signed her up for approximately 100 magazine subscriptions, which she is now receiving. Police reported the suspect lives several states away. [Just use a change of address form, hon, and they’ll all suddenly be delivered “several states away.”]
  • 600 Block North College Avenue, 10:55 p.m. Saturday, a 30-year-old man was arrested after he reportedly hit himself in the head with a beer bottle. Police determined he was intoxicated and took him to the hospital for his injuries. [Well of course he was intoxicated…not many of us are hitting ourselves over the head after a half-caff venti mocha frapp!]
  • 2900 Block South Walnut Street Pike, 3:03 p.m. Wednesday, a woman reported someone knocked the lid off her beehive and the bees escaped. She found several bees were dead. No suspects. [Wanted: roly poly bear last seen in red shirt, answers to the name of Pooh]

Ah, the list is endless, and endlessly entertaining! So if you are needing a bit of a pick-me-up and can’t wait for your local barista to finish your half-caff, enjoy yourself as you peruse your local Police Beat section. Just be sure to have your dinner party list handy as you read and keep your penny jar tucked safely away.

Blog: 40 is the new 30

When I was in my teens and twenties, 40-year-olds seemed ancient to me. These were the men who clipped their nose hairs and proudly loosened their belts after a big meal, and the crafty women who wore frosted, sensible hairstyles and learned to latch-hook cute rugs for the bathroom. Of course today’s 40 is the new 30, so I don’t have to worry about updating my bathroom just yet, but I still have plenty of other issues to contend with I never even dreamed existed. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about:

  1. Skin tags…tiny pieces of protruding flesh that just dangle off my side.
  2. Age spots…no longer can I refer to them as “freckles” now that they are the size of dimes.
  3. Creaking limbs…gone is the ability to sneak to the kitchen for the last piece of pie as my popping joints give me away every time.

And those issues are just the beginning…I mean, really, what’s the benefit of using the now-necessary reading glasses (to check the directions on my fiber supplement) if I can’t even remember where I put them?

So while I’m now considered a thirty-something woman living in a forty-something body, I am not looking forward to discovering what comes next (or goes next, at this rate). I just know I will not, under any circumstances, visit the craft store anytime soon.

Edit

2 Responses to 40 is the new 30

  1. Jamie | September 14, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Reply | Edit

    Looking forward to reading your stuff. Love the photo’s. Very nicely done. Good luck with this.

  • Jamie | September 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Reply | Edit

    Love it. I can relate to all. I also have age spots but not the size of dimes. My legs and feet hurt a lot but my bones don’t pop. What the hell is happening to you? Lol. So enjoyed reading this. Keep it coming.

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