Friday, July 18, 2014

Read or Die!!!

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been more splendid than the thought of "The William Tell Overture" played by drunk weasels on glockenspiels.

So I had a conversation this week that went much like this:

Me: "So what do you like to read?"

Other Person: "I don't read."

Me: "Wait, what!? Seriously, what is your favorite book?"

Other Person: "I don't have one, I don't like to read."

Sadly this is not the first conversation like this that I've had. As a human being, this saddens me. As an author, this terrifies me.

This particularly worries me when I read (that's right read) statistics like these:

Mark Twain once said "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read."

What advantages are there to being a reader? Let me lay them out for you.

1. Readers tend to be better in relationships.

Studies have shown that people who read a lot tend to feel a broader spectrum of emotions, which they were exposed to as they read about and empathized with the emotions of many different characters. This means that people who read oftentimes are better at empathizing with another human's emotions reducing relational conflict.

2. Reading something you enjoy reduces stress.

Really, it does!

3. Reading helps prevent Alzheimer's.

Reading is like push-ups for the brain, keeping it stronger and more resistant to deterioration. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that senior citizens who consistently read were two and a half times less likely to end up with Alzheimer's.

4. Reading improves your memory.

Remembering plot lines, multiple characters, important details, these are all skills that are built when one is reading a book. How does that translate into the real world? How about remembering job assignments, peoples' names and where you left your keys?

5. You gain better analytical thinking skills.

Reading provides one with multiple perspectives, solutions and logic tracks, meaning that when you face a problem in the real world, you have more tools at your disposal than if you had just played a video game.

6. Reading builds your vocabulary.

It is estimated that there are around 200,000 words in the English language. The average American will use a grand total of 20,000-35,000 in their entire lifetime. For avid readers, however, that number jumps up by several thousand.

7. It's free entertainment!

Seriously, you don't have to pay a dime if you don't want to. That is why libraries are such amazing places! For free you can travel to far off lands or fight pirates or ride a dinosaur! Who doesn't want a free dinosaur ride?

8. You learn more!

It is said that if you read in one field of study for one hour a day for seven years, you would be an international expert on that topic. Go and try to do that watching episodes of "Teen Wolf."

9. You will have things to actually talk about with others.

Reading opens up all kinds of doors, including conversational ones.

"Hey, you're reading James Patterson! Which one of his books is your favorite?"

"You like the Harry Potter series? Me to!"

"Did you like the Hunger Games books or movies better?"

See how easy that is!

Go! Pick up a book! Immerse yourself in your own private break from reality! You have no reason not to and lots of reasons why you should!

In other exciting news, Weird Al Yankovic released a new album called "Mandatory Fun" (which is amazing, go buy this album), and one of the songs "Word Crimes" (a remake of the awful "Blurred Lines") seemed rather fitting. 

As always, I can be found on FacebookTwitter (@AllisonHawn) or Goodreads!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nope, It's Just My Face...

Hello all, I hope your weeks have been more splendid than the thought of Pacman being played by a drunk orangutan!

I'm actually really proud of myself for spelling orangutan correctly on the first try without using spell check.

This week, I feel the need to bring attention to an issue that affects thousands of people all over the world. This condition creates confusion, upset and general misconceptions, but will never be given its own sad Sarah Mclachlan song.

Yes, I too occasionally suffer from Resting Bitch Face.

RBF is when someone has a neutral expression that makes them seem less than enthused with their surroundings. Oftentimes the thoughts in that person's head go no deeper than, "Do I want tacos or a enchiladas for lunch today?" but their facial expression looks kind of like this:

This Is Just My Face
So on behalf of everyone else who sometimes suffers from RBF, here are some things that we would like to say to you:  

1. No, I'm not angry or upset.

I am thinking, processing  or spacing out, if I were angry I would probably say something. However, if you ask me 34 times if I am angry then eventually my answer will be "yes."

2. It physically hurts to smile for long periods of time.

No really. I once had a book signing that lasted for four hours, my face was actually sore afterwards. I have a friend who literally can only get one half of her mouth to smile at a time!

3. I am excited!

Just because I don't jump around like a pekingese on crack doesn't mean that I don't think that the newest superhero film isn't going to be cool. I do!

4. Yes, I'm sure that I do look really intense at the gym.

Oftentimes at the gym I'm lifting somewhere between 95 and 300 pounds, so I think intense is justified. Also, I don't wear my glasses to the gym, so I'm intently trying to figure out whether I'm being approached by a human or an alien blob.

5. I'm kidding.

If I say something that sounds like nothing a rational person would say, I'm kidding. Just because I don't immediately follow every one of my lines with a self-induced chuckle doesn't mean that I'm serious.

6. Nope, really this is just my neutral face and not a cry for help.

I was actually thinking about how they make Chex mix, but now I guess we're going to launch into a ten-minute debate over whether I'm really okay or not. I preferred thinking about Chex mix.

7. Stop asking me to smile all the time.

I do my fair share of smiling. If I have a reason to smile, I will smile. It is only some weird Stepford-Wives-ish society that thinks women have to be smiling all the time. 

Has anyone else had some interesting experiences with their own RBF? If so drop a comment below and other RBF sufferers know that they aren't alone in their struggle to not seem like they are ready to murder something.

As always you can find me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, July 4, 2014

It's a Hoopfestation!

Hello everyone! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a hundred bald eagles, with sparklers, synchronized flying to "America the Beautiful!"


Enjoy the day off everyone!

Well, this past weekend I had a book signing at Auntie's Bookstore smack-dab in the middle of a lot of Hoopfest action.

Thank you so much to the other authors, Katelyn Schneider and Su Williams, and everyone who braved the crowds to come say hello and stop and chat with us!

For those who do not know what Hoopfest is, it is the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the planet. Over 7,000 teams come from all over the world to compete, effectively shutting down all of downtown Spokane as the streets and any available flat surfaces are turned into basketball courts.

For those who live in Spokane it is a weekend where most of us batten down the hatches and barricade ourselves into our homes, praying for the Hoop-festation, and its accompany Hoop-crestations, to leave us be.

The trip to Auntie's (which usually takes me around 20 minutes on foot) took over a hour, as I wound my way through the clutter of basketball courts and crazed spectators.

At one point I was literally grabbed by a random stranger and given a noogie. I was so startled, I didn't really react, I just stood there and blinked a lot.

So, I arrived at the book signing appearing a bit like I was trying to make my hair look like that of a deranged anime character.

At least I didn't get trampled this year. Yeah, we'll just focus on the positive there.

Again, thank you to everyone who showed their support this weekend! More events will be forthcoming for those who missed this one! 

Don't forget to come find me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Yo-ho! Yo-ho! The Hermit Life for Me!

Hello everyone! I hope your weeks have all been more fantastic than the thought of narwhals playing rugby!

Just a quick reminder I will be at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane for the Triple Threat Book Book Signing Event at noon on June 28th! Authors Katelyn Schneider, Su Williams and I will be there to sign books, answer questions and chat with anyone who wants to join us!

I have occasionally been accused of being a bit hermit-esque. The reason for this is that when someone suggests that we go somewhere downtown I have a tendency to be a bit resistant (and by "resistant" I mean the phrase, "Heck no!" often escapes my mouth).

This is in no way because I wish to avoid people. I love people. What I do not love is working on my weekends.

Being in social work, there are very few places I can go in Spokane where I won't be spotted by a client, past client, client's friend who met me once, someone who my client told I am a social worker...

Now don't get me wrong, I love my clients. What I don't love is when I'm not working and I end up having someone wander up to me in line at the bank, while I'm doing laundry at the laundromat or while I'm outside at a coffee shop enjoying a mocha, and verbally vomiting drama all over my previously crisis-free day.

Of course, it doesn't matter how much I try to avoid the client hotspots, they still find me.

Do I sound a touch paranoid? Well, before you start looking up numbers for local mental health specialists, read on! 

A couple weeks ago I went grocery shopping, which sounds innocent enough.

Grocery shopping for me is an activity that normally I treat like a spy on a secret mission. I quickly dart from aisle to aisle, grabbing my peanut butter and ibuprofen, as I scan the world around me for potential accidental case management situations. I have even leaped inside one of those round clothing racks to avoid eye contact with a particularly needy client.

That poor store attendant had probably never had to ask an adult to get out of one of those clothing racks before. I'm glad I could provide that first time experience for her.

This particular day I had only a few things to pick up, and I so I dashed through the store grabbing my few items. I paid for my purchases and headed for an exit, the glorious sunlight pouring in through the gaping maw of an automatic door. Freedom was so close.

And then I was spotted. I was three steps from getting outside, where I could logically have made a  run for it, when I heard my name called. One of my clients yelled, "Al!" and trotted over asking, "What are you doing here?"

I looked around at the aisles of groceries and then back at the client, "Umm... knitting sweaters for penguins, what else would I be doing here?"

The client immediately started pawing through my cart (which is rather typical when I get caught at the grocery store). Before I had a chance to give them my customary, "Get out of there!" they spotted my giant box of kitty litter.

"Do you have a kitty? Meow?" (Yes, the "Meow" was actually verbally said like I needed a second way to translate what they meant by "kitty.")

I smiled, "Nope, I thought I'd give the whole cat litter thing a try. I mean, if it works so well for cats, why can't it work for me!?"

The client's mouth dropped open and they flung down the kitty litter like it was suddenly made of mating cockroaches. I pushed my cart towards the door as I called back, "I'll be in the office at eight am on Monday, see you then!"

Of course, there are some lessons that can be pulled from the cart of experience.

1. Sometimes if someone is a hermit they have their reasons.

2. If you want to go into social work one of the side effects of your job will be constant client-sighting paranoia.

3. Apparently there is a way to keep clients from approaching you in the store anymore, just claim you poop in a box and they'll never try it again!

Want more fun from my life as a social worker? Don't forget to check out Case (Un)Managed

If you want to follow my crazy without trying to find me at a grocery store you can find me on Facebook, Twitter (@Allison Hawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Adventures in Idaho!!! (And the Evil Potato Coffee)

Hello all, I hope you had more fantastic weeks than the thought of a hundred corgis dancing to the sound of iced-tea being stirred.

Well first off, I want to send out a titanic thank you to everyone who came out for the book signing in Boise! I had an absolute blast! It was great talking with old friends and making some new ones.

Thank you also to Hyde Park Books for hosting such an awesome event!

If you missed me the first time around, I will probably be back in Boise for another book signing once "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" is released!

I am also excited to announce that I have a book signing coming up in Spokane as well!

On June 28th at noon there will be a Triple Threat Book Signing event at Auntie's Bookstore! I will be joining two other authors, Su Williams and Katelyn Schneider, for a book signing bonanza right in the center of Hoopfest! So, if you happen to be in Spokane, please join us!

Well, I had a moment where I decided to live my hair color over the weekend, and, because I have no sense of personal shame, I thought I'd let you all learn from my mistakes.

My first mistake was thinking that I could get drinkable gas station coffee. Granted, I wasn't expecting the coffee to taste like it was roasted by the coffee gods themselves, but I thought I could at least get something palatable, right?

Oh how wrong I was.

I was filling up the tank of La Grange (my truck) in Pendleton, Oregon outside possibly the largest gas station mini-mart I had ever seen when I got a serious case of the "tireds." I had four hours left of my seven hour drive and if I was going to make it, without attempting to introduce my truck to some road barriers, I was going to need a pick-me-up. 

The first thing I noticed when I entered the mini-mart was an entire wall of swords. No, I'm not kidding, swords.

If the zombie apocalypse happens, this will be my gas station.

Because after all, who doesn't go to the gas station mini-mart and think, "I'm traveling through rural Oregon, you know what I need? Swords." 

I wandered past the display of medieval weaponry and headed for the coffee machine only to find that it was broken. 

In my desperate need for caffeine I invested $1.23 in what the machine I got this concoction from claimed was a "Cappuccino."

Apparently "Cappuccino" at the "Swords-R-Us" gas station mini-mart meant, "Tastes like a sugary potato."

I kid you not, this was the most spud flavored coffee I have ever tasted. Headed down the road I choked down about three sips before I admitted defeat. There was no way I could drink this "Crappuccino."

As the substance began to sit in my truck, I noticed that my ride had a certain "rotten sugar potato" smell to it. Of course, I decided to get rid of the sad attempt at coffee.

How does one normally get rid of a liquid substance while traveling down the road? You dump it out the window of course!

What I failed to take into account is that this is a course of action I usually take when I am driving through town at 25 miles per hour. I was going around 70.

I rolled down my window and...

Yup, coated the entire side of my truck in potato coffee.

That is how I found myself at the gas station in Kennewick frantically scrubbing the side of my car with one of those windshield washer scrapey dealies as people stared on like I possibly needed to take my medication.

What lessons did this adventure teach me?

1. One should never forget the physics involved in liquids and 70 mph travel.

2. It's really hard to change lanes when you can't check your blind spot because of "potato coffee" smudges.

3. "Potato Coffee" would be an awesome band name.

If you want to keep up with my crazy, check it out on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Public Service Announcement

Today I would like to bring you this public service announcement:

It is spring. GO OUTSIDE!

Sniff a flower, relish in the sunlight (wear sunscreen if you're like me and are likely to burn to a crisp), find a park bench and read a book.

Use that lovely little button on your computer, phone or tablet that makes it go all dark and less distracting.

Go for a run, a walk, crab-walk or scoot along the sidewalk on your butt if you must, just get out there!

When you come back in I'm sure the same drama on Facebook and that same trending hashtag on Twitter will still be there.

Now go on, shoo!

This is Totally Me

A quick reminder, I have a book signing at Hyde Park Books on June 13th!

After you come back from spending some time in the glorious outdoors, you can find me on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Utterly Useless Utterances

Hello all! I hope you have all had supercalifragilisticexpialidocious weeks!

Quick reminder: I will be in Boise June 13th for a book signing at Hyde Park Books

So one of the top trends on Twitter (which you can find me at @AllisonHawn) this past week was #50FactsAboutMe. I saw this particular hashtag as a challenge and I conquered it by posting 50 facts about myself on Twitter.

Granted, most people wrote things like, "I don't like chocolate," or, "I think puppies are cute," which were all fine and dandy (except how can you not like chocolate!?). My facts were a little, shall we say, less orthodox?

After a some requests from those who caught snippets of my facts throughout the day, I am posting the entire list here (with a few expanded explanations beyond my 140 character limit).

So here they are in all their... glory?

1. I've never understood why there could only be one Highlander, didn't their mothers teach them to share?

2. I am only a couple of cats and one sweatervest away from becoming a crazy cat lady.

3. I am missing one of my vital organs, and am still alive. This makes me either a medical miracle or a zombie, you pick.

4. When I don't sleep, everything starts to taste like Cheetos. So Cheetos taste like "lack of sleep" to me.

5. I am incapable of digesting anything with hooves (see fact #3). Sorry chickens and fish, you're still fair game.

6. I have never thought pugs were cute. (It's that breathing sound they make. Nightmares).

7. I do not believe that Wheaties are the breakfast of champions.

8. I could eat sushi and Pad Thai every day for rest of my life, which would be short due to nutritional deficits from eating only sushi and Pad Thai.

9. I like to talk to hipsters about bands I made up to see if they will claim to have heard them.

10. I have eaten chicken's feet. They taste like rubber bands.

11. I once started a mosh pit a Christian rock concert out of sheer boredom.

12. I have often wondered if I replace all the blood in my body with caffeine if I could become immortal.

13. I once taught myself to twiddle my toes. (It was pretty much the only thing I truly learned in that class too.)

14. I can't juggle. I am really good at throwing things on the floor, though.

15. I titled my first published book "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" on mistake.

16. I've always wanted to learn how to be a fire eater.

17. I believe that kale, in all of its forms, is disgusting.

18. I attribute my strong immune system to my childhood penchant for attempting to eat pennies.

19. I have a slight addiction to pomegranate juice. I may have once tackled someone for some.

20. I judge people who believe that the "Star Wars" prequels were better than the original trilogy.

21. I've always wanted Batman's utility belt. Do you know how useful that would be?

22. At 25 years old, I still get carded to see rated R movies.

23. I once ate a full baby octopus. Slimiest food ever.

24. I hate polka with a fiery burning passion.

25. I just sang, "We're halfway there, oooOooooh livin' on a prayer!"

26. I am writing these facts to procrastinate cleaning my bathroom.

27. I have worn a kilt to work on multiple occasions.

28. I'm not a huge fan of sugar, but I will kill for red velvet cake.

29. I have all the lyrics to Smash Mouth's "All Star" completely memorized.

30. I can sunburn in less than ten minutes. I'm so pale I'm practically translucent.

31. When I run I look less like a graceful gazelle and more like a drunk baby deer.

32. I've never understood why the popularity of the phrase YOLO (for those of you not exposed to obnoxious people "You Only Live Once") didn't make people more paranoid and cautious.

33. I honestly want to know how much wood a woodchuck could chuck. I need numbers people!

34. I get much of my news from The Daily Show because it's the only way I can watch current events without hating humanity.

35. I never liked the T.V. show Lost. There were so many plot holes and lame dialogue moments.

36. I don't own a television. In fact, I have never owned my own television.

37. I still own a dumb phone. That's right, I am a technological dinosaur.

 38. I solve Rubik's Cubes... with a screwdriver.

39. Some people have a favorite singer, artist or celebrity. I have a favorite philosopher.

40. I am extremely suspicious of cattle.

41. I hate the play Hamlet, but still manage to love "The Lion King."

42. I have multiple music playlists that feature both heavy metal and Disney music on them.

43. As a kid, I wanted to be a velociraptor when I grew up.

44. My coworkers have gotten used to me bringing coloring books and colored pencils to meetings.

45. I procrastinate doing useful things by doing other less hated useful things.

46. I am a herbicidal maniac, I kill plants.

47. My foot fell asleep, I'm jealous.

48. I am not a giant fan of holding babies. There is just so much noise/goo/smell that can happen.

49. I've read "The Hobbit" nine times now... because I am that much of a nerd.

50. I have a scar from making Scottish shortbread.

Want to know more? You can always find me on FacebookTwitter (@AllisonHawn), and Goodreads!