Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Relocating My Dignity

Hello everyone! I hope that everyone has had a more splendid month of May than the thought of Prince and David Bowie performing a duet in heaven!

I have to say that my May was just dandy right up until the universe threw an obstacle in my way that I could not go over, under or around. Let me explain: I am a power-through kind of person, much like the Kool-Aid Man powers through a wall.

Life Motto
I just made it through a year of graduate school while working three to four jobs, keeping on top of my training for athletic competitions and maintaining at least some semblance of a social life to boot.

I recently found out that I fractured my foot some months back, but somehow managed to run on that foot 20 miles a week. I even was able to make it through a seminar on proper case note documentation without falling asleep once (though, I did rest my eyes on occasion).

The conundrum with this "can-do-and-do-and-do..." attitude is that eventually even the resilience Hulks among us hit the point where their minds and bodies just say, "NOPE!"

My "nope" moment happened last week. I was 60 hours into an 80 hour work week and had struggled through two days of security work, while wearing body armor out on concrete under the Arizona sun. I hadn't been feeling particularly well all week, but I consoled myself with the thought that if I could just make it through 80 hours I could collapse for an entire day afterwards.

My body had other plans.

I was on hour 10 of a 16 hour shift and had just broken up a fight between two drunk rednecks (rebel flag belt buckles included), when it hit. Suddenly, I felt like every cell of my body had declared war with every other cell in my body. My stomach hated my rib cage, my head loathed my spine and my chest had nothing nice to say about my back.

My boss took one look at me and said, "Go home, now."

I was in no condition to argue. Actually, I was in no condition to "go home."

I crawled behind the wheel of my car and through blinding amounts of pain (no literally, there were times I could not actually see the road), limped home.

Should I have called someone to come and transport me? Absolutely.

Does one think logically when one feels like an alien being is about to jump out of one's stomach? Not so much.

By some miracle I made it home, parked my car and made it inside just in time to effectively empty myself of every bit of food I had ever eaten, and possibly some that I had never eaten but that showed up for the party anyways. Having been stabbed, I can attest to the fact that the amount of pain I was in was worse than being stabbed.

After about thirty of the worst minutes of my life, I managed to crawl out of my work clothes, which left me essentially in Batman boxers and a sports bra, and clambored up onto my couch.

There I lay, curled up in a ball, passing in and out of consciousness and vacillating between, "Is this the end?" and, "I can't die! No one can see the state I just left my bathroom in!"

It was there, lying on my couch shaking like chihuahua on meth, when I heard a faint thudding noise. Someone was knocking on my door. Assuming it was the Angel of Death, and realizing my time had probably come, I somehow made noises that indicated whoever it was could come in.

A mysterious apparition poked it's head through my door, "I, uh, have a work order to change your air filter. You okay?"

Now, at this point, I was so out of it, that I honestly had no idea what was real and what was delusions brought on by what I later found out was a nasty stomach virus, compounded by heat exhaustion and a minor ear infection. I told the ethereal being that I was sick, but he entered anyways.

The apparition moved through my apartment and began doing something to my air vent that in my state I could not comprehend. At this point I was feeling particularly introspective about life so I asked, "Do you think we keep our personalities after death?"

"Uh... what?"

"Do we... keep our personalities after we die?"

"Uh... I guess so?"

"Oh good, 'cause I'd hate to be one of those perky-happy people all of a sudden."

The apparition continued about its mysterious business as I continued, "Why does pain exist?"

"Uh... gee... I dunno. You really must be sick, huh?"

I did not understand why the apparition was so useless at providing me with answers, he was not of this world, so he should have some insights into the matters of the mortal world!

I continued to assail him with all my, two-inch, deep questions before the apparition suddenly said, "I'm all done!" With a quick, "You feel better, ma'am!" it vanished.

Okay, it went out my door, but in my fuzzy brain, whatever it was went poof like a magician.

I then, thankfully, passed out. I woke up two hours later, still in massive amounts of pain, but also a little bit clearer headed. I got up to splash a little water on my face, which is when I remembered my apparition.

I've had sickness hallucinations in the past, and I quickly chalked it up to the amazing amount of pain and probable fever I was currently suffering. That was when I saw it: Sitting on my kitchen counter was a maintenance service slip and an accidentally left behind tool.

It then struck me that my apparition had actually been my apartment building's maintenance man. I had bombarded the poor guy who just came to swap out my air filter with a whole range of feverish babble and may at one point have told him that he was a "failure as an other-worldly being."

The only positive of being in as much pain as I was at that moment, was it completely overrode my sense of shame as I staggered back to my place on the couch.

So what lessons can be burned through the fever of experience:

1. Sometimes your body has just had enough. It is wise to learn the warning signs and rest before your body just says, "To heck with it!" and lets every available ailment overrun you at once like a Barbarian horde through a fence made of toothpicks.

2. There is never an apology so awkward as, "I'm sorry that while I was sick I thought you were a hallucination. I don't normally ask people to solve all the problems in the universe while I am curled up in Batman boxers."

3. One does not need to leave one's home to horribly embarrass oneself. Apparently shame has a door-to-door service now!

I am glad to say that I am among the land of the living and able to consume solid food again, and as such I have a quick announcement. My third book, "Life is a Roller Derby Run by a Sphinx" will (if the winds blow correctly) be released later this summer!!!

For news on this release, and to check out my other books, check back here, come join me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn), Instagram (AtillatheHawn) and Amazon!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In Defense of Us "Useless" Millennials

Hello everyone! I hope weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a thousand toucans flying in unison to, "Purple Rain" (R.I.P. Prince, you will be missed).

Well, I officially finished my first year of graduate school!!! Which means I simultaneously feel like this:

And this:

After working four jobs all semester to support myself on top of going to school full time, I am exhausted. I actually got so tired at one point that I turned on the radio and realized I could not remember if I liked the song that was playing or not.

With everything going on in life I only had a moment to be irked by a video that I've seen floating around Facebook and other social media sites in the past week. Perhaps you've seen it, it's called "Gotta Love Millennials."

Well, now that I am not furiously trying to write papers while living on cheap gas station coffee, I have a moment to respond to this. Disclaimer: I do realize that the church that created this video has a "this is all fun and games" description below it. However, literally EVERY person I've seen repost this has said something to the effect of, "Isn't this so true?"

I am the dreaded 27 year old Millennial to which this song is referring. 

I have a college degree, which I worked hard to pay for (in fact I had four jobs, one of which was full time, my senior year while taking 19 credits). I worked three to four jobs over the next four years to pay off the remainder of my college debt. I am currently working four jobs to keep myself in graduate school. On top of this I'm a competitive athlete, author of two published books, not to mention my multiple journal articles and short stories that are also published, and am an active member in my community. I have my own car and my own place. 

But more than that; I have talked people off of literal bridges, held the hands of homeless men and women as they died and fought for human rights and justice issues.

Now, I know that I am speaking of my own experiences, but those are what I know. What I also know is that there are a lot of people my age who are doing more amazing things than I could even imagine doing. I am not the exception to the rule, there are a ton of people my age making, or at least attempting to make, a difference. 

Are there idiots in my generation? Of course there are, but there were idiots in every previous generation too. If there weren't we wouldn't be facing crushing national debt, serious environmental issues and a myriad of social maladies that were brought on before us Millennials even had the ability to say the words "social maladies." 

Hating on my generation does nothing to improve the status quo. You want to fix what is wrong in the world? Then stop belittling us and help us do it, damn it! 

Millennials aren't the problem, we are the future, and we are trying to make that future better. You can either stand there and laugh at us, or you can help us make that happen. Your choice.

As always my adventures can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Instagram (@AtillaTheHawn) and my books can be found here!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

An Unusual Sport

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter/Beginning of Spring!

For those of you just tuning into the constant perplexity that is my life, aside from being an author, I am also a competitive athlete. Of course, when I say that people tend to size me and my five-foot-two-inch frame, and start guessing at what sports I could possibly be involved with.

So far people have guessed softball, weight-lifting for Hobbit-esque people and most confusing of all curling. Actually, I am a Highland Games competitor.

Okay, so basically I wear a kilt and throw heavy things, including giant logs (also known as a caber), in a variety of events.

Heavy Weight for Distance
No really, I wear a kilt and everything.

The Highland Games are a unique type of competition, not just because of their extremely Scottish heritage, but because, like the decathlon, when you sign up to compete, you don't just compete in one event, you get signed up for all of them.

This means that normally you're on the field participating in a variety of events starting at 9 in the morning and constantly competing until 6 pm. However, that isn't the only thing that makes Highland Game competitions stand out.

In fact, here are the things you could only understand as a Highland Games thrower:

1.  At every competition there will be at least one old Scottish clan leader (usually from a clan whose name starts with Mac) that must give a completely incoherent speech at the beginning of the games that everyone will respectfully listen to. At least six audience members will start clapping on accident because the old man has paused to remember what he was rambling about and people think he's finished talking.

2. First thing in the morning the lightweight category competitors have to weigh in, this means none of us have eaten breakfast and several of us have probably been dieting or fasting for weeks. Invariably before we can weigh in, one of the heavyweights will show up with four breakfast burritos that he or she (usually he) will eat in front of us. He will make it through at least two of his burritos before he notices all the death stares, and, through a mouthful of delicious, forbidden, tortilla and egg, ask, "What!?"

Sheaf Toss
 3. The event you are the worst at will always be the one that the largest crowd of people has gathered to watch.

4. There is no real way to prevent "caber bite" (when that giant telephone pole leaves little splinters in your shoulder). If you wear a sleeveless shirt you will end up with splinters. If you wear a shirt with sleeves you run the risk of the caber getting stuck on your shirt AND splinters.

5. There is always a flask of whiskey floating around, it wouldn't be Scottish sport without it.

6. You hope and pray that caber is not your first event of the day, because once you have put tacky (a sticky substance used for helping grip the caber) on your hands, you will be sticking to everything for the rest of the day. Also, do not try to give high fives with tacky on your hand, trying to free yourself from the other person is painful.

7. You had better like bagpipes, because invariably you will end up throwing right next to the tent where the bagpipers warm up and practice. Also, those pipers will, without fail, have to run through "Scotland the Brave," at least six times before the next group goes in to practice the exact same song six times too.

8. While we are technically competing against each other, no one really has a "take the others down" mentality. We mostly just compete against ourselves, trying to set new personal records and reach new goals. Even the competitors that walk onto the field and blow everyone else out of the water that you really want to hate are way too nice to actually hate.

Greatest Competitors (and Judges) Ever!
 9. If you want to see people in kilts swear a lot, come watch them try to throw hammer when the ground is too hard for the throwers to dig in and stabilize.

10. Sometimes you accidentally create new events. For instance, at these last games one of our competitors accidentally tossed her sheaf (a heavy bag meant to go up and over a pole) straight out to the side about thirty to forty feet. We dubbed this "Sheaf for Distance." Throughout the day we also had "Weight for Distance/Bowling" and "Weight Towards Beer Tent" that occurred.

If you ever have the chance to attend the Highland Games, do so, they are a lot of fun. And, if you have even the slightest inclination that you'd like to try competing in them, DO IT! We get walk-on competitors every year, and you will never find more helpful competitors to give you tips and pointers than at these events. And if you think you can't do it, think again:

This is Sarah, she is 70 years old and here she is throwing weight for height. So no excuses! So grab a kilt, and give it a try!

As always my adventures can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and my books can be found here!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sometimes Life...

Hello everyone! I hope you have all had a lovely past few months!

I'm afraid I have been a little more than errant in posting here. To adequately describe my life the last four months, I must impart the wisdom of a five year old.

I was wandering through the grocery store around a year ago, when I happened to run across this little boy and his mom. I really didn't catch much of their conversation, but as I passed them, this little boy turned to his mom and said, "You know... Sometimes life just gives you the taco poops."

That little munchkin in a Superman t-shirt somehow managed to state an absolute truism about life; Sometimes life just gives you the taco poops.

The combination of moving (again), working three jobs and going to grad school full time has meant that I have let a lot of things slide in the past few months. This blog was one of them. And while I can't promise that I will post with regularity again, I can promise that I will attempt not to leave a several month gap in between posts.

So until next time, which I hope will be soon, everyone have a fabulous time and don't let life's taco poops catch you as they caught me!

As always, my adventures can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Just a Christmas Reminder

Hello everyone, I hope you're having a more splendid day than the thought of kittens dressed as the Avengers (come on, admit it, it would be adorable).

Speaking of kittens, remember for the rest of this month 50% of the proceeds from my books will be going to help the animals at the Sun Valley Animal Shelter, which is a no-kill animal shelter in the Phoenix area.

So buy a book and help a kitty, like Coral here, find a forever home (by the way she is up for adoption at the moment if anyone is looking for a friendly feline to add to their home)!

I'm sorry for the break in my posting, my first round of end of semester final projects for graduate school ambushed me. I spent much of the past few weeks sitting in the library looking like this:

But I survived! The books did not end up toppling on top of me and burying me alive!

Of course, as I emerged from my finals haze, I was suddenly reminded that Christmas was quickly approaching. As such, it is time for my yearly Christmas reminder.

You know that song "Santa Baby?" (If you don't, click the link and give it a listen.)

The entire song involves a woman basically seducing Santa Claus into bringing her a light blue '54 convertible, a yacht, the deed to a platinum mine, a Christmas tree trimmed with jewelry from Tiffany's and a duplex.

The Hairpin at one point calculated the cost of all of the items requested in Santa Baby and came up with a grand total of $1,167,854,838.80.

Apparently Santa has a massive hedge fund up there in the North Pole. The real importance of this song, however, is in who sang it; Eartha Kitt, who is pictured above during her role as Catwoman in the original Batman TV program.

Do you know what other role Eartha Kitt was famous for portraying?

That's right, she was also Yzma from "The Emperor's New Groove."

So the next time you are hear that seductive voice attempting to convince Santa to give her the net worth of several small countries, remember that this is what is trying to seduce him.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!

Remember you can always follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and you can find my books here!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Seeing Red

Hello everyone! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a Kiss cover band comprised of corgis!

Speaking of corgis, just a quick reminder, 50% of the profits from any of my books sold in November or December will be going to help the efforts of the Sun Valley Animal Shelter. This is a no-kill shelter in the Phoenix area that connects animals with their forever homes.

So buy a book and help Mumford here find a good home (he is also up for adoption if anyone is interested)!

In other news the holidays have descended upon us, rather like a beluga whale dropped from a bomber airplane. Halloween day, I happened to go to the store and found myself in a veritable winter wonderland of Christmas decorations and festoonery. Again, let me repeat that, on Halloween.

I let out a sad sigh over the Christmas invasion of my favorite holiday and went on my way, vowing to basically ignore it, as I do every year, until the day after Thanksgiving.

Then the first "War on Christmas" posts started. You know what I mean, the fear-mongering, imaginary persecution of those who like to celebrate Christmas. First, let me say this, if you think that there is an actual "War on Christmas" please, as a Christian myself, let me remind you of a few things:

1. No one in this country will tell you that you can't celebrate Christmas in your own way. If you want to honor Jesus, that is your right. If you want to spend all day Christmas wearing underwear on your head and yelling, "I'm a blueberry muffin!" that is also your right. No one is telling you you can't celebrate Christmas. Someone else celebrating Christmas in their own way is not an immediate attack on your rights.

2. Every school/work/organizational break is still centered around the Christmas holiday. No other religious holiday gets this kind of special treatment (unless they happen to fall sometime near Christmas), so if we're in a "war" it appears we still have the high ground.

3. Having a Menorah next to the Christmas tree at the mall really is not something to get upset about. Remember, we stole the traditional Christmas tree from pagans, whereas the Menorah was something the Jewish people came up with on their own thousands of years ago. Respecting others' religions does not constitute an attack on your own.

4. Someone saying "Happy Holidays" to you is not a challenge to a fight. I say Happy Holidays. I say Merry Christmas. When appropriate I say Happy Hanukkah as well! If someone says Happy Holidays, the correct response is, "Thank you! You too!" Everyone just calm down!

5. The fact that you can't go a single place, starting October 31st now, without running into a million and one Christmas trees, ornaments and little nativity sets, would imply that Christmas seems to be doing just fine.

I bring all of this up because the first "Christmas Scandal" splashed in my news feed on Facebook this week, causing an intense urge to attempt to stick my head in the microwave.

Apparently, Starbucks has managed to do something more offensive than misspell even the most simple of names. Apparently this year their holiday themed cups are... red!!! Yup, you read correctly, instead of opting for an entire nativity scene (which, I might add has NEVER been a part of their cups), they went for a solid red cup with their typical green and white logo for accent.

This has sparked absolute outrage, particularly from one individual who posted an entire Youtube video and Twitter rant (which I refuse to link here because he doesn't need any more attention).

Apparently by removing the snowflakes from their cups that they had last year, which I was unaware was a part of the Christmas cannon to begin with, Starbucks somehow managed to remove all of the Christmas-ness from their cups!

At first I thought it was a massive joke, but then I started seeing calls to boycott Starbucks. I'm sorry, if you're going to boycott Starbucks it should be because it doesn't matter which one you go to, they over-roast their coffee, not because they made a simple design change to a coffee cup.

And Christians, come on! We are better than this! This is petty at its best, and completely alienating at its worst! It's really hard to convince people that I have logical reasons for believing in my faith when I have people running around screaming that Starbucks is waging a War on Christmas because of a minimalist cup design!

Might I also point out that Starbucks, despite their obvious love for Satan with their all-red cup, still sells advent calendars, CD's with songs about Jesus' birth (although, does anyone still buy CD's?) and several Christmas Ornaments that... now be prepared to be shocked, say, "Merry Christmas" on them.

So before we blow up over perceived slights, can we as a community of Christians do something Christ-like and maybe not freak out over nothing? Can we stop painting ourselves as intolerant, insecure people who will overreact to any perceived slight?

We have two months left of this holiday spirit to go people, we can do it! Well, at least, I hope we can do it.

For those of you not putting me on your "naughty" list, you can always find me on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and you can find my books here.

Also this:

 I have imbibed in the red-cup devil's brew. Guess I need to go change my major now to Christmas Grinchery with a minor in Satanism.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Getting in the Spirit!

Hello everyone, I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a million skeletons tangoing to The Monster Mash.

Tomorrow is the best holiday of them all, Halloween!!!

In honor of this holiday here are some of the best books to read for Halloween!

Elizabeth Gaskell's Gothic Tales

If you want some classically creepy stories, then the Victorian horrors written by Gaskell are an excellent choice. The stories are haunting and memorable and just terrifying enough to leave you with some chills.

Stephen King's The Cell

A haunting tale and modern metaphor for what technology is doing to us, this lesser read book of Stephen King's prolific career will not only scare the living daylights out of you, but it will make you think.

Bram Stoker's Dracula

It's a classic, but if you haven't read it yet, it needs to be added to your reading list stat! You will sleep with the lights on for a while.

Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

If you saw the awful movie, then erase it from your mind with the original book. One of Alan Moore's less celebrated graphic novels, this Steampunk and sci-fi influenced book is a fabulous adventure. Fair warning: It may be a comic book, but it is definitely not for children.

Charissa Dufour's Sucked In

If you're looking for something a little more on the humor side and a less on the terrifying side, Charissa Dufour's Sucked In is for you. The first book of three in the series follows vampire author Ashley Hawn as she goes from writing about vampires to being one. It's a fun read perfect for this time of year.  

As the nights get chillier, grab a book, put your feet up and enjoy the goosebumps from both the cold and some creepy stories!

In other news, every year during the months of November and December, I choose a non-profit to donate half of my book proceeds to. This year, that non-profit is the Sun Valley Animal Shelter.

The Sun Valley Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter located in the Phoenix area and they treat their animals the best I have ever seen a shelter treat animals. I am happy to help them and their cause as they find animals their forever homes. So grab a book and help an animal!

As always, you can follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn).