MJ’s Musings: My Favorite Mugs

There are too many coffee/tea mugs in my house. There are boxes of them in the basement. They are stacked in the cupboard over the stove. They reproduce faster than guppies.

Four of my most favorite mugs have been broken: two oversized bright yellow mugs, a cobalt blue one from the 2000 RWA National Conference Chapter Presidents’ Retreat, and one my parents brought me back from Florida–a lovely gray and purple beach scenes with the moon rising over star fish in the dune grass.

Here are four of my current favorites:

I call this my SARK mug because of all the brilliant colors. I like to drink tea from it. It was a gift from a critique partner one holiday when we drew names.

I purchased this mug at the Margaret Mitchell House Museum  when I attended the RWA National Conference there in 2006. It was the last one I’ve attended. The legend at the bottom says, “In a weak moment I have written a book.” I also have the matching refrigerator magnet.

This is my favorite tea mug. I purchased it from an import store in Syracuse that eventually became Pier One–but the mug predates that. My then-room mate and I each bought one. This mug is older than most of my co-workers at Day Job.

Captain Planet! When I worked in local TV, I was given a lot of mugs by program vendors (see previous comment about boxes in the basement, although I did leave many at the station when I left).  This was always my favorite. The reverse side reads THE POWER IS YOURS. The interior is a fabulous periwinkle blue. How can you not love Captain Planet?

MJ Monday: MJ’s Manuscript-WIP Excerpt


FROM: BEWARE OF THE MOON, tentatively scheduled for Oct 2019 publication

“So what do you do with yourself?” Dakota squirmed in the passenger seat, disrupting the sparse air, sending his pheromones in her direction again.

“I’m a chemist.” No, no, no. Do not engage with him. Sex only.

“You must be smart.”

Was he saying she was too smart for him? Was he going to try to take her down a peg? Been there, donated the t-shirt. “I’m as smart as I am. I could be smarter. Everyone could.”

“I wasn’t insulting you.”

Dakota’s calm manner infuriated her. The only time he hadn’t been placid was during sex. Amazing sex. Stupendous—

“You and Selena were working on herbal healing bath stuff for females,” Dakota continued.

“Are working on,” she corrected. She refused to believe Selena would abandon their hard work because her grandfather died.

His foot slammed against the floor as she took the corner onto Ash Street too fast.

“You’re not going to tell me I’m too pretty to be a chemist?”

“What does one have to do with the other?” He sounded perplexed, as if he meant the words.

“Never mind,” she muttered. She needed to concentrate on not hitting the group of men dressed in black trying to block the street. No matter what hour she arrived at Ethan and Selena’s house, a gang congregated on the corner—both corners—of the short block.

“Run ‘em over if they get in your way,” Dakota suggested, as if reading her mind. “They’ll move quickly enough. Although they might damage the undercarriage of your car.”

She was tempted. “Interesting theory. My favorite theory involves the questionable legality of mowing people down.”

“I won’t tell if you won’t.”

She couldn’t stop the grin stealing across her face. Not only was Dakota a fabulous bedmate, he was funny. Dangerous combination.

“If you drove a bigger vehicle, mashing a few vagrants wouldn’t be an issue.”

There. He’d said something to annoy her.

“What’s wrong with my little car?”

“Small cars aren’t safe.”

Oh crap. He was a man who believed a night in her bed meant he acquired rights.

She gritted her teeth and pressed her foot on the gas pedal. Her car hitched a moment before lurching forward, drunk on an influx of fuel.

Dakota was right. Once she aimed, the men in the street scurried to the side. Ethan ought to report the thugs to the authorities. They’d blocked the street, twenty-four seven, for weeks.

She parked at the curb, behind a massive black SUV. Gas hogs ought to be illegal. She couldn’t imagine any of Ethan’s acquaintances would drive such a monstrosity.

She stood on the sidewalk and waited while Dakota extracted himself from her car. The view, she had to admit, was nice. Very nice. For someone who allegedly drove a bus for a living, he was superbly put together. As he stood and stretched, something in her belly stirred. Okay. Maybe he wasn’t a one-and-done, but rather the exception proving the rule.

The opening notes of “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” bleated from her cross-body bag. She pulled out her phone to check the incoming text. And nearly dropped the phone to the sidewalk. Numbness depleted her strength, from the tips of her pedicured toes to her brain. Especially her brain.

“Are you okay?” Dakota’s sharp tone pierced the fog.

She couldn’t answer. All she could do was stare at the photo on her screen and try to not hyperventilate.

#UpbeatAuthors: Friendliness Is Just Being Nice.

Friendliness is kindness, laughter, caring. It’s asking, “Did  you have a nice weekend?” It’s telling someone their lunch smells/looks wonderful or complimenting them on their new haircut. It’s smiling at the antics of the toddler in the grocery cart in front of you in the checkout line at the supermarket.

But it’s also telling the mother of the toddler throwing a tantrum in aisle two that this, too, shall pass. Been there, done that. You’re doing fine.

It’s being patient when the person on the other end of phone is having problems taking your order because his computer went down. Your computer never acted up on you? Or it’s someone’s first week in a new job, and they’re fumbling their way through new procedures. You never started a new job and had trouble getting the hang of things?

Friendliness is behaving in the manner you want people to use with you.

Movie Review: Please Stand By

I saw a trailer for Please Stand By in early spring. My local library system had a copy, so I reserved it. A couple of months passed, but I love having my tax dollars work for me. We recently watched the film.

Premise: a young woman who writes Star Trek fanfic wants to enter her script in a contest. Oh, and the woman is autistic.

What’s not to love?

I really liked the movie. TV Stevie said it “had potential, but turned into a message movie.” He doesn’t like message movies. But all stories have messages. I like movies for story. Mr. “I Was a Cinema Major in College” has other things he looks for in a movie.  And that’s fair. But this movie wasn’t about those other things: texture, camera angles, and who the heck knows what esoteric other stuff. It was a story about a woman who had a goal, and despite all the circumstances against her, succeeds.

When a heroine doesn’t fit male-defined roles, men have trouble understanding them. Take The Florida Project. The women were variations on stereotypes: Madonnas and whores. Well received. Great reviews. But the females in the movie never stepped out of male-defined boxes.

Wendy, the heroine of Please Stand By doesn’t fit in a box.  I think that’s why men don’t “get” the movie.  One (male) reviewer even went so far as to write:  “it has a circumspect, sanitized quality, as if meant to be shown in group homes without causing undue upset.” Another man wrote: “Touches the viewer with the subtle emotional wallop of a feather brushing against the heart.”

A lot of professional female reviewers panned the movie, too.  It was generally thought too bland. I guess we know which reviewers are ignorant of autism.

Just because a movie isn’t about shedding blood or blowing up things doesn’t make it a bad movie. Exploring “women’s” issues–family, relationships, etc. doesn’t make a movie a bad. Lack of violence shouldn’t be a touchstone, but in today’s world, it seems to have become one.

There were many subtle parallel layers in the film. At least one was “mansplained.”

To me, the important thing was that Wendy had a goal and nothing was going to stop her from submitting that script to that contest. Her determination is what kept her going, despite the world conspiring to prevent her from achieving what she wanted.

That’s an important lesson for anyone to learn.



Poem in Your Pocket

Today is National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Poetry has a bad rap. A lot of it is pretentious. More is sophomoric. I should know. I wrote reams of bad poetry as a self-indulgent teenager.

I grew up on poetry. My mom had a book from which she read to us all the time. My sister took the book and read it to my nephew when he was young. Then I got the book to read to my own children. It’s copyrighted 1926, so it was an old book even when I was a child. I believe it was a 6th grade school book.  And while I have lots of poetry books on my shelves–Poe, Dickinson, Sexton, Thomas, Rumi, and so on, this is the book I gravitate to when I’m in the mood for poetry.

If I had to chose only one poem to carry in my pocket, it would be one from this book. It’s a Joyce Kilmer poem. Kilmer is probably best known for the his poem,

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree,”

but that’s not the one I have in mind.

I much prefer “The House with Nobody in It.”