Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thank God I Don't Own A Firearm

Never in a million years would I have thought I’d have to deal with something like this. That my daughter would have to deal with something like this.

There’s a boy that has joined her group of friends; her mostly girl group. One of the girls followed him around like a puppy dog the first semester, and they skipped school a lot of days after lunch. Nothing romantic, as far as my daughter knew, but he still had a loyal little admirer. Well, he’s since moved on and is dating Beth’s best friend. As I see it, this is a somewhat emo kid who wants to have a little harem. Beth won’t step to his tune, though, and I think that’s what ticked him off.

Beth’s best friend has been distant for a while, especially since she started dating this kid, and on Friday Beth asked her what was wrong. She went off on my daughter for “always copying her.” Good Lord, I wouldn’t be a teenager again for anything in the world. Beth, upset, walked away to find a private spot; this boy followed her so he could play big strong comforter. She told him at least three times to go away and leave her alone.

I found out later that he had called her cell 8 times Friday, hurt that she had rebuffed his attempts to comfort her and couldn’t understand why she was mad at him. She suspects that he had a hand in her friend’s defection, and she doesn’t like him anyway. She told him repeatedly to stop calling her. I advised her to let him speak his peace ONCE, then she could tell him all right, I heard you, now go away. She did when he called her on Sunday. He didn’t like her response, and called two more times. He left her a message in a creepy voice, saying, “I hope you’re at school tomorrow. We’d certainly hate to miss you.”

I got his number from her cell and called him. I asked for his parent’s number; he refused. I told him to stop calling my daughter. Granted, I grew up in a different age; I would never have dreamed of refusing an adult’s request to speak to my parents, nor would I have answered anything but “yes, ma’am” to someone’s mom telling me to leave her child alone. This kid argued with me for close to ten minutes. I kept saying that I didn’t care about the particulars of the argument; just stop calling. I finally blew up and told him, “This is ridiculous. Just listen. I am the adult, and you are the child. Do not call my daughter again.” I was about to tell him I’d get the school involved to find his parents when he HUNG UP ON ME. I was shaking, I was so mad.

I told Beth that if he called again, or did anything at school, to tell a teacher and call me. Guess what. Monday at lunch, she approached her former friend, to apologize for any slights, and to tell her she hoped they could still be friendly. EmoBoy popped up, demanding his own apology; and when she walked away he followed right behind her- I mean neck-sniffing close, crowding her from behind- telling her how much she owed him. She got away from him and told her counselor.

My husband went to the school to talk with the officials, and Beth just wanted to go home. We found out the next day from one of Beth’s friends in this group that EmoBoy was planning on skipping class after lunch to follow Beth around. He wasn’t there, but then she heard from another boy, an acquaintance, that Monday afternoon he had boarded her school bus, planning to stalk her home. Thank God she went home with her dad!

We found out later that he received a 3 day in-school suspension, which is why he hasn’t been able to bother her the past two days. He hasn’t called her again, and I’m really hoping that’s the end of it. I’m not excessively worried about this kid; he’s built like a swizzle stick and Beth could break him like a twig. Her brother is a year behind her and in a different school, but he’s built like a linebacker and is itching to pound a little respect into EmoBoy. I gave him the standard Violence Is Not The Answer speech, but I have to admit to a certain pride that he’s protective of his sister.

And I was shocked to learn that her high school- which is middle class suburbia, not east L.A.- has a program where one student can take out a restraining order against another. Good God. Restraining orders, yet. Which we may resort to, if we have to. Although if it gets down to it, I’ll just call the police. And pray. And wonder how we all got to such a place.

Monday, February 25, 2008

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means To Me

One thing it seems I can count on in Romancelandia- someone, somewhere, sometime, is going to blog about how the rest of the literary community views our beloved genre. Specifically, about how in spite of huge numbers and a huge readership, we don’t get the Respect We Deserve.

Some snotty critic at some snooty publication will say something about the drivel women read- and the obvious intellect deficiencies we must have for reading it- and we all take it as the first shot across the bow. People have been known to get trampled in the rush to defend ourselves with statistics about the readership, how most of us are college educated with important, responsible jobs, and that the view of the romance reader as a stupid, crumpet-challenged housewife in curlers eating bon-bons is both misogynistic and wrong.

All of which is true. Every genre in fiction gets spat upon by literary critics to a certain extent, but please. Anything written primarily by women for women is going to get the shaft. But there’s another war for respect that doesn’t get as much play. A civil war, if you will, and I’ll take the first shot.

I read Harlequin Presents, and I don’t care who knows it.

There are plenty of closet readers of all kinds of romances, too scared to fess up in the comments of many blogs, because there is a definite hierarchy of what is proper romance reading, and what is stupid trash. It’s fine to love Kinsale or Phillips or Roberts, but to admit to liking Cassie Edwards is a sure fire way to get oneself roasted. There’s an attitude of, “Come on. Everyone knows that stuff is awful, and any women who read it must be…” Misguided? Foolish? Dead from the neck up? Many won’t say straight up STOOPID but the idea definitely comes across.

Of course which books qualify as ‘awful’ depends on whom you talk to. I mentioned the acceptable/non-acceptable rift in single title; but a lot of people think all single title is fine. Category, however, does not have real books. Those are practice for authors who want to go on to write actual books. And the hordes of readers who buy category books, even subscribe to them monthly? They obviously have appallingly low standards.

Even among category readers, there is a division. Mention a Blaze or an Intrigue or Historical, and there’s no problem. But let one whiff of a Greek, a Sheikh, or an Italian Businessman with a Runaway Pregnant Mistress waft by and you’ll get fried nine ways from Sunday. YOU, my girl, are what’s wrong with romance, and why we don’t get no respect.

It’s been said that you have to pick your battles. And I don’t know how we can spend the energy fighting the literary establishment for respect when we don’t even extend it to each other. So I will stay in my happy place, ignoring the snotty critic whose respect I don’t want anyway, and feel glad that there are enough flavors in romance for everyone. I will immerse myself in a world where a maid will think nothing of running away from the rich boss who’s impregnated her, preferring to raise the baby in poverty but keep her pride, and revel in the fact that the rich, ruthless, really handsome boss won’t wipe his brow in relief that she’s gone but hunt her down and demand his rights as a father and lover.

And I just might do it in my curlers, whilst eating bon-bons. And if anyone thinks I have the intellectual agility of a soapdish because of it, let me put this as clearly and succinctly as I possibly can: PPppppllllllfffffftttttt.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Lady...

...I can totally see down your dress.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Bunch of Thoughts Not Remotely Related

Eastern Promises is an amazing film. Very intense, but a little unnecessarily graphic in places. It isn't easy to watch, but it's fascinating. It's all about human trafficking in London, by the Russian mob. These poor girls come to England, thinking they'll have a better life, and get sold into slavery in mob-owned brothels.

The thing that really interested me was how the Russian mobsters have their life, and their history, told on their bodies through tattoos. It is a language all its own; many have religious symbology but of course have nothing to do with religion. A huge cross means you're a thief in good standing. A church with three spires means you've done three prison terms. If you have no tattoos, you're invisible. No other criminal will trust you, because they can't see your life story.

Of course, he's in it, which is good enough for me.

I have decided to just keep writing my Regency because I love it and I'm having fun and I don't care who knows it. If the traditional Regency is dead, and I never sell this thing, at least I had a darn good time.

And since Jane Austen is still making movie producers tons of money, I refuse to believe the Regency won't rise again. Not that I'm comparing myself to Jane, but you get the idea.

My blog friend December is having releases all over the freaking place! Can't wait for Personal Demons- sounds like such great fun. And she's having Zombie Week over at her place, so DQ- here's my tribute:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cause, Yeah...It's All About Me

I am on a constant quest to find myself, so I decided to get my own personal slogan. Special thanks to Missie and Jenny for helping me waste approximately an hour of my life.

Have Robyn Your Way.

I'll warn you. I'm easy but I'm not cheap.

We Bring Robyn to Life.

"We" being coffee, chocolate, and Viggo Mortenson.

Only The Crumbliest Flakiest Robyn.

I think that should be the title of this blog.

It Takes A Tough Man To Make A Tender Robyn.

I...don't think I'm gonna touch this one.

If Only Everything in Life was as Reliable as a Robyn. true.

Lipsmackin' Thirstquenchin' Acetastin' Motivatin' Goodbuzzin' Cooltalkin' Highwalkin' Fastlivin' Evergivin' Coolfizzin' Robyn.

Say that three times fast! Go here. What is your personal slogan?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Random Valentine's Day Musings

So I spent the day yesterday with Advil and a heating pad, because I pulled a muscle in my back. I did this when I was rescuing some kittens from Satanic bikers.

No, really! The poor little things were right there, in the street, about to get mowed down...oh, okay. I'm just putting that story out because I'm embarrassed to tell you that I did it ROLLING OVER IN BED. And not even during an energetic session of tea and crumpets- just rolling over. Gad, I'm pathetic.

At least I got to have some time with the TV all to myself, since sitting at the computer hurt. Thank Goodness for Blockbuster online, y'all, because 3:10 to Yuma rocks! Of course, any movie with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale gets an automatic two stars from me, but this movie is fabulous. Just enough Western shoot-em-up action to keep it moving, but the psychological play between Bale and Crowe was wonderful. Next up in my queue is Eastern Promises, with yummy Viggo Mortenson. I hear he does a full frontal knife fight; you have to admire his dedication. It takes guts to do a knife fight, fake or not, with your important bits dangling out.

I also saw a story on Good Morning America (and can I just say that I am a total sucker for how cute these anchors are together? They probably stop hugging and snarl nasty cheap shots at each other when they go to commercial, but I love their warm fuzzy patter!) and this story made me BAWL. Like a colicky baby. This soldier in Iraq, decorated for bravery, wasn't married and didn't have a lot of family. He's older, and his chances for getting a date are slimmer than they once were, if you catch my drift. He was chosen to receive letters from this 6 year old girl who wrote to soldiers as part of a church project. They kept writing, and this little girl got her older brothers and sister to start writing to him, too. He was writing and getting letters from these kids, and falling in love with them. They seemed to adore him as well, so their mother wrote to him. Their single mother. I'm sure you see where this is going.

Yes, the soldier and the single mom fell for each other from letters, emails, and phone calls. And suddenly the lonely man had a family. They all met him at the airport when he came home, and the people at the terminal were so enchanted with the homecoming that they cheered. A nice salute for a brave man. The couple married, and he now has a wife and four kids.

Romance ain't dead. Not by a long shot.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Not Really Sure About This

I just saw a news story about an eight-year-old boy who had misbehaved in school. As punishment, his mother made him stand outside the school, near the road, with a sign that said, "I was rude to my teacher" on one side and "I will make good choices" on the other. He did this for three hours.

Please don't get me wrong. I am beyond thrilled when I see any parent actually disciplining his or her child. Working in retail and volunteering at my own childrens' schools, I have seen the results of parents who think kids should never hear the word no. And I would call myself a fairly strict mom. I ground, I take away privileges, I say no to certain R-rated movies and M-rated video games. And, though I'm inviting censure from experts, as if they really read my blog-

Yes, I'm willing to admit it, internetz. Horrible creature that I am, I spanked my kids. But I did it in private. Haven't had to do it in years, though, which I think was the whole point, right?

I know that sometimes extreme parenting is called for. I'm reminded of a young African American man who stood up at some talk show and proudly announced that his mom beat him up and saved his life. He told the shocked crowd that when he was thirteen, his father had been gone for years, and the gang he started to hang out with reinforced the "ain't no woman gonna tell me what to do" machismo some teenage boys go through. This mamma told him he wasn't to go with those gang bangers, and he defied her. She had discussed the violence, the danger, etc., and he still defied her. One night when he was going out to them, she ran, jumped, and landed on him. She literally beat the crap out of him. Then she told him, "Now we're going to see your gang friends, and I'm going to watch while you tell them exactly who put this hurt on you." He was so embarrassed, and so shocked, he quit seeing the gang who was trying to recruit him. He's now in medical school, married, and has a good future.

But this boy who was rude to a teacher- he's eight. And I know he'll get over it; it wasn't that harsh, but it was humiliating. He should be disciplined, and made to apologize; but surely there was a way to handle that privately and net the same results, right?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Again, ARRRGH!

Bernita's post yesterday got me thinking. And ticked off, truth be known. It seems that writers, romance writers in particular, are not only responsible for hordes of unsatisfied, lonely, crumpet-challenged housewives, now they are to blame for any of those impressionable readers having unprotected sex if condoms aren't specifically mentioned in the bouncy-bouncy scenes.

I have one question. Why do we keep having this conversation? It may happen and I'm just not aware of it, but I haven't read of mystery authors accused of alienation of affection because a beloved family member or friend always turns out to be whodunit, or western authors scolded for promoting violence when the sheriff shoots the bad guy. I know fantasy authors are accused of teaching children witchcraft all the time, but that's on the parents if they want to keep Junior's eyes off Harry Potter.

People are trying to convince me that simply by writing a story, I am responsible for influencing the decisions of a GROWN PERSON. Not just to inspire, to comfort, or even to thrill, but to convince them it's okay to engage in risky behavior. I ask you- why on earth would even a not-quite-fully-functioning adult look at something like this...

...and think the story gives them sound advice about anything?

I think I have a reasonable expectation that authors are going to do their research; say, if an author states boldly that orange juice and goat cheese is a cure for cancer I'd better see a footnote. Even so, I'm going to check with my doctor and read all I can before planting an orange tree and buying a goat. But not explicitly showing condom use? Okay by me. It's fantasy. I can ignore it or supply those in-between-the-lines details all by myself.

Even if I am convinced that a Greek billionaire is going to kidnap me, spirit me away on his yacht, and bribe me into marrying him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Somewhat Okay Satisfactory Tuesday

So my hubby was off yesterday, and we went to have quesadillas. I ignored you totally to stuff myself with cheese and chicken, in a blouse that encouraged my man to ogle my bosoms. It was a wonderful day; sorry I didn't bring leftovers.

So that's why I waited until today to talk about the Premiere Event in America. No, not the primary election. The Superbowl halftime show!

Seriously, will these idiots ever get it right? I mean, at least twice in a row? I know they're battling back from Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, but to be honest, seeing a tiny flash of Jan's nipple shield wasn't the issue there. The NFL, CBS, and all the assorted people involved thought that Justin Timberlake aggressively stalking her singing about ripping her clothes off was just fine for a family show. I was more horrified by his behavior than hers, especially when he ripped off the pasty. The look on her face didn't suggest hot and sexy; it looked like she was being raped. It was disturbing on a lot of levels.

The Superbowl is supposed to be about celebration. Why can't we get "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night" or "Living On A Prayer?" How much fun would the Foo Fighters be? Or, to go country, Rascal Flatts would have been a hoot. But Sunday night gave us Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I've never been his biggest fan, but geez. Slow folk songs in that high, reedy voice does not spell "rockin' the house" to me. Hubby said it was like the easy listening Superbowl.

If they would just ask me about these things, everything would turn out fine.