Friday, February 27, 2015

I Broke Mental Health

Hello everyone, I hope you're all having a more splendid week than the thought of "Cats" the musical performed by wallabies.

This week there was another 5* review for "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus!" Amazon reader Eclectic wrote, "You cannot be in a funk when reading this book! Allison Hawn's deliciously wicked prose will make you laugh until your sides ache."

See the full review here!

For those of you just tuning in, I am the head of security for a very large homeless shelter. How large? We see roughly between 250 to 650 people a day.

My job is basically to keep a round lid of calm on a square box of chaos. A couple weeks back I had to put my lid-fitting skills to the absolute test.

I had just opened the doors to the shelter, letting our usual breakfast crowd in, when one man wandered through, catching my attention. Now keep in mind he was competing for my notice that morning with someone came in dressed as a pony and another one who came in with a pot on his head.

Barefoot, wearing pants that he had most certainly recently peed in, he was wandering through our day room levitating his hands over sleeping peoples' heads and muttering. Worried that he might end up with a fist in his face, I wandered over and said, "Hey! You're a new face, what's your name?"

 "Jesus Christ."

It was at that moment that I knew I wouldn't get a chance to finish my first cup of coffee for the day and I might as well throw out the idea of getting anything else productive done.

I blinked at him a little and said, "Alright Mr. Christ, what are you doing?"

His hands hovered over a sleeping patron, "I'm healing them."

"Can we wait until they're awake to heal them? How about we let them sleep, okay? Let's get you a doughnut."

Eventually I was able to convince him, in all his majestic glory, to go sit down long enough for one of the staff members at the shelter to provide him with a doughnut. He held the doughnut in his hands, looked at us, then held it above his head and said, "I will feed all the hungry with this!"

Our first miracle of the day was that, as he crumbled the doughnut into crumbs and began flinging it everywhere to 'multiply' it, none of our other patrons threw punches back.

The entire day, our visitor was insistent that he was in fact Jesus Christ and refused to respond to anything else. We tried J.C., Buddy, Buckaroo... apparently he was dead set on being our savior, which we soon found out had some odd rituals with it.

Never in my life would I have dreamed that one day I would have to yell things like, "Jesus, you have to wear pants!" and, "No, Jesus, we don't try to lick people!"

Eventually, it got to the point where the staff collectively decided that he was really a danger to himself. Okay, he wasn't a danger to himself, he was a danger to others becoming a danger to himself. This meant that it was time to call on our trusty friends at the local mental health crisis response center.

This is how that conversation went:

Mental Health Crisis Response: "Crisis Response, what can we help you with?"

Me: "Well, we have a guy here who is claiming to be Jesus Christ who is persistently trying to heal people who are sleeping, refuses to put socks or shoes on and has now peed himself twice. We could use an Mental Health Professional."

MHCR: *Silence, that was then broken by uncontrollable laughter* I'm... *snicker* sorry... Can I get the individuals first and last name?"

Me: First name: Jesus, Last name: Christ. He won't give us any other name and this morning he called me a harlot for not allowing him to exorcise a demon from our piano.

MHCR: *Laughing* "Can I get a date of birth?"

Me: "I don't know!? 12/25/0 AD-ish? The guy just tried to multiply a doughnut by crumbling it into bits and throwing it into the air, he's not really into giving out useful info right now."


Me: "Are we okay over there?"

MHCR: *Absolute belly shaking laughter* "Sorry! I fell out of my chair! We'll send some MHP's to your *snicker snicker snicker* location!"

I officially managed to break mental health crisis response. After a while they came to take him to where he could be analyzed, at which point he tried to start a 'tickle-fight' with the escorting police officers.

So the next time I have people at my apartment door asking if I've heard the good news, I'm going to tell them that the good news is currently being evaluated by professionals for several delusion disorders.

Have you heard any good news lately?

Don't forget to follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and check out my books on Amazon

Friday, February 20, 2015

10 Reasons You Should Date A Girl Who Lifts

Hello all! I hope your weeks have all been better than the thought of a thousand gerbils tap dancing to Cake's "The Distance!"

This week Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor received another five star review! Amazon reader Eclectic wrote, "I have never laughed so hard while reading..." 

Thanks for the awesome review Eclectic! 

Remember, save an author, write a review! 

So I have seen a million posts about why you should date girls who do yoga. Okay, so maybe not a literal million, but I have had seventeen different ones pop up on my Facebook home page in the past week.

I have also seen five 'why you should date' articles for girls who dance, seven who spin and four for girls who zumba.

You know what, not every girl does the stereotypical 'girl' workouts. So in response, here are 10 reasons why you should date a girl who lifts weights.

1. Girls who weight lift are in it for the long haul. 

 Weight lifters know that anything worth anything takes hard work and patience.

We understand that there will be plateaus where nothing seems to be improving. We understand that sometimes something needs to change in our routine to get where we want to be. We understand the idea of working hard and having patience to reach goals.

Dating a weight lifter means you have someone who already has the dedication to make something hard (which, let's be honest, relationships are hard) work.

2. We can open our own stupid jars...

...And move our own furniture, and help you paint that shed and get all the groceries in the house in one trip.

This doesn't mean that we won't ask for your help if we need it, it just means there are a thousand little tasks that you're less likely to be asked to deal with and more things you're likely to get help with.

3. We eat like normal human beings.

Do I want just a salad and half a Saltine cracker? Heck no! I just did 105 pound cleans and 300 pound squats! I want protein! To the chicken teriyaki hut we go!

4. Say what you want about yoga practitioner's flexibility and spinner's abs, weight lifters have all the booty.

Between the barbell squats, the deadlifts, leg presses, the goblet squats, the calf raises... we have the most toned legs and tushes you could imagine. We make pairs of jeans happy that we're wearing them.

5. We are totally fine if you want a day here or there to spend on the couch, because in all likeliness we will need that day too.

Worried about dating someone who will never let you have a day to be a sloth? There will definitely be days where all we want to do is order a pizza, lay on the couch and let our muscles recover as we binge watch Netflix.

6. We aren't overly competitive.

We aren't going to feel threatened by your mother, sister, random casual female friend. Weight lifting is all about being in competition with yourself, pushing yourself to that next level and encouraging those around to do the same. We don't have time for petty comparisons with other people.

7. We're naturally ambitious, but not going to set ourselves up for failure.

"I'm going to be able to lat pull 175 by the end of this year, even though I can only do 120 right now," pretty easily translates into, "I'm going to work myself into that manager promotion."

We set attainable goals and then work our butts off to get them. None of this, "I'm going to set some incredibly impossible goal, not really put in the necessary effort and then whine and moan when it doesn't happen," crap.

8. We always have chocolate milk available. 

 What better quick protein recovery source for post-lifting is there?

9. We're excellent at mental math. 

Need to quickly add in increments? Easy. Converting kg to pounds? No problem. Finding rough percentages? We can do it in our sleep. Need that tip calculated? No problem.

10. We know how to parcel out our time. 

You can't spend too much time on legs and not enough on shoulders. You can't ignore your chest in favor of only back exercises all week long. Weight lifters know how to spend good time on all important aspects of life without ignoring anything.

My fellow lady (and guy) lifters, what other reasons would you say you're datable? 

Don't forget, if you want to follow my strange brand of crazy I can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@Allison Hawn) and my books can be found on Amazon!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Just Call Me Sherlock

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a week that was more fantastic than the thought of the Mutant Ninja Turtles performing Prince's "Kiss!"

Well this week I ended up with a bit of a mystery on my hands. Oh if only I had had a group of teen super-sleuths in a psychedelically painted van to help me! 

Sadly, I was Scooby and Shaggy-less.

It all started when I was pinned to my bed over the weekend by a migraine. I was lying there, attempting not to hate life quite as much, when I heard a crash from my kitchen. The sound was quickly followed by a series of frantic sounding thuds and a couple of thumps to boot.

Now, at this point, I have two suspects for you all: Voodoo and Santeria.

Sinister looking, aren't they?

Voodoo and Santeria are the three and seven pound, respectively, balls of fur and claws that currently reside in my apartment. Out of the two of them, Santeria is usually my trouble maker. If you need proof check below:

That is a basket of clean laundry that she is rolling around in making sure that she gets as much of her kitty hair on it as possible. Her other hobbies include: diving head first into bowls of cereal, stealing and hiding my glasses and toilet papering me while I'm asleep.

Therefore, it was my conclusion that whatever had just occurred in my kitchen, probably had something to do with the cat with the serious rap sheet.

But then, plot twist, Voodoo sauntered in and hopped up on my bed dressed like this:

With a Safeway bag flowing behind her like a cape and a look on her little face that said, "Whatever, I'm fabulous!" I began to suspect that Voodoo may have been involved.

In trying to remove the bag (which she was most insistent on wearing) I also found that she smelled like various things I had thrown away in my trash can earlier that day. With my powers of deduction fully employed, I believe I caught my culprit.

Her sentence for her crime? The loss of her cape and the dreaded bath.

This is a cautionary tale for all you young readers. Remember, crime doesn't pay. At the very least, you will lose your cape and have to take a bath.

As always, feel free to follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and don't forget to check out my books on Amazon!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Feeling Very Small

Hello all, I hope you have all had a magical week full of wonderful adventures, or at least managed to not spill coffee on your lap while you're driving (I feel like those two things are tantamount).

This week I made one of those 'I'm really an adult now' decisions: I bought a Costco membership. What can I say, they sell my Kashi granola bars in mass bulk and I can buy 90 pounds of cheese at a time if I want to (now storing that much cheese is another matter entirely).

I hadn't really been Costco shopping since I was much, much younger, and revisiting this magical place of consumerism was kind of like forging forth into a brand new world.

So here are the things I learned about Costco on my maiden shopping voyage with my new membership card in hand.

1. Ever need to feel like a kid again? Just push a Costco shopping cart around for a while. 

Shopping Cart: Juggernaut Edition
No seriously. I am 5' 2" tall and was holding the camera in the picture to the right at about the level of my neck.

That cart came up to my collar bone and could have easily fit two of me in the giant basket. I wanted to test this theory by actually climbing in, but employees were already giving me strange looks, so I decided against it.

2. Every Costco shopping aisle comes with at least one old bickering couple.

Without fail, I would wander down an aisle to see two, obviously married, senior citizens saying something along the lines of, "Ethel, I don't want the raspberry jam, I want the strawberry jam!"

Ethel would then let out a deep sigh and retort with, "Well, I bought the strawberry jam last month, and halfway through you said you were sick of it! So this month we're getting raspberry so that I don't have to listen to you whine about getting bored of the strawberry jam!"

Somehow, the women always seemed to be winning.

3. Shopping at Costco is kind of like getting in touch with nature... because there are birds.

It was actually a little serene to be wandering up and down the concrete floored aisles listening to the very overweight birds chirp happily above. At the same time it was slightly terrifying, though, because there was a chance one of them might bomb you as you walked underneath.

4. Not only do they make bottles of tequila in five gallon sizes, but Costco sells them.

 I feel like if you're buying Costco kegs of tequila, and you don't own a bar, are planning on having a party for a hundred people or live with nineteen roommates, you might want to admit you have a problem. Also, it's a good thing that Costco sells lemons and salt in bulk, because you are going to need it.

5. It is actually okay to go shopping hungry at Costco, because they give out samples.

I have never had so many different types of food provided to me in little plastic shot-glass form, but I definitely approve. I rather wish that this was standard for all food selling stores.

6. Costco is the Mecca of Muffins.

Holy muffin top Batman! Not only have I never seen such a myriad of different muffins, but the muffins were huge!

7. I am now stocked on certain items for the rest of my life.

I needed trash bags. Now I probably have enough trash bags to suit all my trash needs for the foreseeable future and still have enough left over to assist in the disposal of everyone on my 'should not still be walking around on this planet' list.

8. Who needs the gym when you've got a Costco membership!

Seriously, getting those giant bags of cheese up and down the stairs is an intense workout all on its own. They will nicely box your purchases up for you, but then those boxes will weigh about the same amount as Val Kilmer does now, so good luck!  

So, what wonderful Costco revelations have you had?

As always, I can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, January 30, 2015

What Lee Left Us

Hello all. I hope everyone has had at least marginally successful weeks (or at least been able to give failure a couple slaps in the face).

Well, in a break from my normal more jovial posts, this week I wish to honor a life lived truly in the service of others. Spokane, and the world at large, lost a man this past week who was dedicated to social justice, an ardent advocate for homeless rights and a truly wonderful soul: Lee Nelson.

Lee worked for many years as a homeless outreach worker, traveling under bridges, in train yards, through make-shift tent cities and wherever the homeless could be found to help connect them to vital supplies and services. I got the opportunity to work with him during my time as a homeless and at-risk youth outreach worker and then in the following years on various homeless advocacy projects.

Whether his name goes down in the history books or not is irrelevant, because he touched the lives of so many. Even the meanest, most hardened, train-hopping homeless man had respect and words of kindness for Lee.

This past week we had the Homeless Connect event here in Spokane (the pictures included in this post are from the event). In one day over 40 service providers came together for a one-stop-shop for homeless services, greatly diminishing one of the major barriers to receiving help: distance. This year the event, which helped 250 to 300 homeless in five hours time, was held in honor of Lee.

Lee saw my strange career from the beginning, he met me one month after I had graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in my hot little hands. So in honor of a man that I looked up to as a mentor and someone I saw as a friend, I want to impart some of the wisdom to you all that he imparted to me.

1. Treat everyone as fairly as you can.

Lee didn't care what your skin color was, what your sexual orientation was, how long your rap sheet took to print out, when you last shot up or what gang tattoo was on the back of your hand. He was going to treat you with the same amount of respect as the person sitting on the bench next to you. This meant that if he offered socks to one person, then even if the person sitting next to that person was a loud-mouthed jerk, he would offer them socks too.

Food Bank at the Spokane Homeless Connect

2. Call people out on their bullshit, but don't ever make them feel like bullshit.

I cannot count the number of times when I would be at the same homeless meal site when Lee was there and would watch as someone would be coming down from meth, or detoxing from an alcohol binge or suffering the side-effects that come from not taking their medication.

Over 40 Service Providers Gathered to Help the Homeless
 He would calmly sit there and talk to them, whether he'd known them for years or known them for minutes in the same jovial tone, "So you used again? Well, how's it feeling? Not great? You ready for treatment yet? No? Well, when you are, just let me know, we'll get someone down here to do an assessment. Here's some hand warmers your fingers look frozen man." 

It was never, "Go to treatment," or "I can't believe you used again!"

With Lee it was always, "You ready for treatment? No? Well, tell me when you want to stop feeling like crap and we'll make it happen."

That was it, no guilt trip, just a hard look at the facts. Your actions are hurting you, here's an out. You want it, it's yours. You don't, that's your choice.

3. Nothing changes without people willing to get their boots on the ground and their clothes a little dirty.

Providing Hope One Pair of Socks at a Time
Working street outreach meant that us workers had to go into some pretty decrepit places. I can remember one bridge in particular where we all knew to stay on the path provided, because everywhere outside of the path was fair game for toilet use.

While none of us found it pleasant, we didn't complain about it much either. After all, we didn't have to live there, we were just there temporarily to give out aid.

In social work you end up going to a lot of meetings (which is the true test of whether you'll make it in social work or not, can you stay awake and not kill anyone during endless meetings?).

In one such meeting there was a politician-administrator type who was pontificating about his plan to end homelessness (which was a load of absolute tripe). About halfway through his little speech, Lee put up a hand. The guy speaking ignored him. After a minute Lee calmly and quietly said, "Excuse me."

The speaker gave him an annoyed glance from behind his two-hundred dollar glasses and said, "What?"

Lee just shrugged and evenly asked, "You ever been homeless?"

"Well, no."

"How long you worked with homeless people?"

"Well I volunteer in a soup kitchen once a year..."

"So, you don't work with homeless people and you were never homeless."


Lee let out a laugh, "So what makes you think you know how to end homelessness? This is the same crap-plan we've been hearing for decades, and guess what, it doesn't work. You're in a room full of homelessness experts, why don't you sit down and listen to some ideas instead?"

Lee knew the value of going out and having the experience to make actual attainable progress with people and the homeless population at large, even if that meant ruining a few pairs of shoes. There was no other way to understand the population and no other way to find ways to actually help them.

It saddens me that the world has lost another great advocate and person of purpose. However, I do know that the lives he touched across the country will be forever changed by his sense of humor, compassion and immense patience.

As always I can be found Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Things Grak Hates... But His Author Loves

Hello all! I hope you have all had more fabulous weeks than the thought of a saber tooth tiger performing Swan Lake.

A quick reminder, there is a nifty way to help support the efforts of Reading is Fundamental, which is focused on spreading literacy. Two of my short stories were recently published in a collection of paranormal fiction called "Gates of Erebus," all the proceeds of which will be going to Reading is Fundamental!

Well this week I have the great pleasure to have author Peter J. Story as a guest on the blog. Peter has written a rad little book called "Things Grak Hates."

"Things Grak Hates" is a wonderful trip into the mind of history's first ever possible sociopath. This wonderfully bizarre little piece of satire explores the dynamics of human personality in caveman form. And here Peter J. Story is to tell us all about it:  

How long have you been writing? 

I’ve been writing for nearly as long as I can remember, though I’d have to say it really became a passion around the age of ten. My uncle introduced me to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and I was instantly captivated. My love affair with the written word has only grown since.

What inspired you to write this book? 

I’ve spent years as a student of human nature, so this book was inspired largely by my observations. By setting the story in a prehistoric landscape among a tribe of nomads, I was able to portray actions and their effects on a much more noticeable scale. Things rarely escalate at the pace they do in this story, of course; but I think you’ll spot a clear reflection of modern society.

 Where did the name Grak come from?

I was just looking for something “nomadic” sounding, that was easy to pronounce and easy to remember. Grak fit the bill.

When writing this book, did you hear one of the narrators from National Geographic in your head narrating this book from the bushes?

No, I imagined a voice with a bit more whimsy.

If you had to describe this book in exactly five words, what would those words be?

Human nature at its worst.

If Grak had a modern occupation, what would you surmise it would be?

Grak’s power-grubbing nature (and lack of real marketable skills) could put him squarely in some middle management position. Of course, he could also be a genocidal dictator, an overreaching HOA president, or your posturing co-worker. As some readers have pointed out, there’s a little Grak in each of us…

What was the most difficult part of writing this book?

There were two very challenging elements that I encountered in writing this book. The first was portraying everything through Grak’s eyes. The second was limiting the scope of the story. I tend to run away with a story and its characters; but in this story, I had to keep that tendency in check in order to maintain the slow pace and gradual build up.

Do you, the author, hate olives as much as your character Grak?

No. I love olives.

If you want to find out more about "Things Grak Hates" or the author check out Peter J. Story's Facebook Page!

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

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Nifty Hyde Out

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been going more fantastically than the thought of a thousand potbelly pigs cannonball diving into a pool!

This past week Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor got another fabulous five star review. Reader A. Reynolds writes, " It is so hard to find a book that makes you laugh out loud as you read the stories, but this book had me laughing non-stop!"

Well, Sunday I had the opportunity to once again have a book signing and reading at Hyde Park Books!

Hooked on Phonics Worked For Me
A mammoth thank you to everyone who came! It was an absolutely rad event.

Also a humongous thank you to Hyde Park Books owner Marti for allowing me to come in, rearrange furniture and yell in her shop (I get a little loud and animated when I read, particularly when the character I'm reading is a bit schnockered.)

If you missed me while I was in Boise, never fear, I will most likely be back during the summer! Of course, I will keep you all posted here.

In other news, I have recently had two short, fictional stories, that were published in a new anthology from Dream Weaver Anthologies called Gates of Erebus!

The proceeds from the book will go to Reading Is Fundamental to support global literacy! So if you're looking for some eerie fiction, check it out!

For more tour dates, information or just because inquisitive minds need to know come find me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads