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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Me = 33! Birthday letters and lessons learned

Dear newly-30-year-old Deb, writer of the letter just below this one,

My, were you cute! Not as cute as on your first birthday, of course, but you had at least one adorable misconception in your 30th birthday letter.

You’d finished editing your first novel? Really? I love you, but it’s a good thing your slightly-older self has more sense than enthusiasm!

Well, once in a while, anyway.

Most of the other stuff stands as written. In fact, you’ll be delighted to learn that the thanks and love you wrote about below will not only grow but redouble. You’ll meet new people, offline and online, reacquaint yourself with lost friends and create a whole new human being who will show you just how completely and deeply you can love, no matter how broken you felt in the past.

You will also, by the way, actually finish editing your first novel. You’ll publish it because you feel that doing so is an important part of honoring your mom, and you’ll be right.

You’ll write another novel, which will be much better than anything that preceded it on account of your lack of desire to spend another 6,000 hours editing entire chapters that shouldn’t have been written in the first place.

You will still get stuff wrong, but you’ll get some stuff right, too.

You’ll lose to cancer the mom who used to call you her “best birthday present ever,” and you’ll struggle for a long time after her death to make peace both with yourself and the hardships of her life.

Ultimately, you’ll come to understand that your mom’s presence is most strongly with you when you remember her with laughter instead of sorrow. You’ll hold your own baby and understand death is no reason to stop celebrating life.

I should’ve prefaced this all with a spoiler alert, huh? My bad!

You probably won’t read this anyway.

But you know what? I still love you.

And it just keeps getting better.

You, three years after your 30th birthday email

—– Original Message —-
From: Deborah Lea
To: Deborah Lea
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 1:25:25 AM
Subject: Birthday #30

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Friday, October 28, 2011

FTIAT: A Moment of Clarity

Byron MacLymont (The Byronic Man) has a gift for making people laugh. I base this not only on an official survey of millions–specifically, myself and my S.O., Ba.D.–but also other peoples’ comments on his blog.

As if inspiring laughter weren’t enough, Byron i’s also a brain surgeon, a former Olympic kick-boxer and bench-presser-of-adult-bulls. He modestly claims in his bio that he can bench-press only one, but I see right through this artifice, mostly because he bestowed upon his subscribers the gift of seeing through artifice.

Sadly, his other superpowers are non-transerable.

Byron’s greatest power of all is his ability to take time out from his busy schedule of crime-fighting and penning Cyrano de Bergerac to share beautiful, heartfelt truths in ways that fill a reader’s eyes with tears and heart with wonder. Like most awesome superpowers, this is one best used sparingly to emphasize just how powerful it is, and Byron uses it accordingly.

I am honored he has chosen, this time, to use it at TMiYC.

Recommended post: Life: The Yelp Reviews

A Moment of Clarity

Yesterday, October 27th, was my 10-year wedding anniversary. It’s a little difficult to even comprehend that that is true. In part because it doesn’t seem possible that it’s been 10 whole years, in part because it doesn’t seem possible that there was a time before her, and in part because nothing – I mean nothing – in my previous track record suggests that this would be a possibility.

The longest relationship I had before this one was six months. I had several that lasted six months, but they all ended at that point, like clockwork. I won’t go so far to say that I am totally responsible for the end of all of them, but I wouldn’t scoff or get immediately indignant at the suggestion, either. I didn’t know much, but I knew I liked being the white knight; being adored. I also, like many young men, loved the chase. I also think that I was so unsure of who I was that I kind of panicked when someone was getting to know the actual me, instead of the version of me I tried to put forward. The guy underneath the glistening armor, if you’ll pardon the hackneyed metaphor. Whatever the impetus, it involved either bad choices, or choices handled badly.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where monsters and new favorite days meet: an interview

I was sold before I’d read a single word of Shannon‘s blog.

But how could that be? Easy: I’d seen the blog’s title, “Mynewfavoriteday.

Over the months I’ve followed Mynewfavoriteday, I’ve read about Shannon’s fears and anxieties parenting her two-year-old twins, whose arrival twelve weeks early has led to challenges she’s faced bravely and graciously. I’ve felt less alone for the unflinching way she addresses her life’s challenges and blessings alike in her determination to make each new day her favorite day.

It’s this kind of transparency that illuminates the strength in choosing joy.

The fact Shannon’s a fellow Oregon girl–and University of Oregon Duck!–once-lived in Japan and now-living in SoCal adds to this closet monster’s MNFD love. Quack quack!

Someday soon, Shannon will be writing an FTIAT entry. Today, she’s interviewed me for Mynewfavoriteday.

Want to know why I named my blog “The Monster in Your Closet”? Think you know what my greatest accomplishment is, in my eyes?

There’s no way to know for sure unless you follow this link!

Don’t be in too great a hurry to leave Mynewfavoriteday after you’ve read the interview, hey? There’s a lot of wonderful stuff to see, and feel, as you start down your own path to making today your new favorite day.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Li’l D versus the vamps: an animated GIF

[Yesterday] my son, Li’l D, accompanied me on a visit to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Sunnydale High” for a nerdy personal project. Gathering what I needed for the project only took me a couple of minutes, but I let Li’l D roam for a bit when we were done.

Friday, October 21, 2011

FTIAT: What I Didn't Realize

Crystal (Can you hear me now?) and I first exchanged tweets about author Sonya Sones, who was then very new to me but had long been dear to her. Our Twitter conversations continue, but they’re supplemented by blog and email discussions as well. Through these I have been given glimpses into a mind whose great–and utilized–capacities are equalled by its bearer’s heart.

I long believed that wisdom could only come with age. Crystal is an excellent reminder that the truth might perhaps be better stated as, “Greater wisdom may come with greater age.”

Recommended post: STARBURST.

What I Didn’t Realize

I know that TMiYC has a lot of parent readers and bloggers, so I’ve decided to share my parents with you.

My parents were of the “tiger mom” type. They immigrated here from Asia (I won’t say any more lest I get in trouble with my computer tech dad), so were brought up in very strict households. As such, they had many expectations of us. My brother and I were expected to become successful doctors, fluent in the three dialects of Chinese that our family knows, get our Grade 10 Piano certifications, be consistent honour students, get into university and maybe go for a second degree, learn the violin, become black belts in taekwondo, be good kids… just short of being child prodigies. On top of that, being the oldest meant that I was expected to be a role model for my little brother.

I resented all of that. [ read more ]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Less mourning, more fighting. Aliens, that is.

All rights to this (awesome) image adhere to
those involved in the making of

In my dreams, I’m most likely to be found leading humankind’s resistance against alien onslaught.

My sister Rache, on the other hand? Count her out. As she informed me in one such dream, “I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t study Old English.”

The last week I’ve found myself perplexed by dreams that involve no supernatural and/or ghastly element whatsoever. Are these mournful dreams mine? How could they possibly be? If I’m not a badass in my dreams, where the heck am I going to get to be one?

The source of these recent dreams hit me this morning.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

On Gandeb and uninviting your non-Halloween ghosts

Dear Ms./Mr. Awesomesauce (a.k.a. “you”),

Every bullet in “A woman’s strength” reflected a strength I have either evidenced or witnessed. And yet, there’s only so much that can be fit into one bullet.

On Friday, I posted the story behind one of the bullets that didn’t make it onto the typed list. There are a lot of bullets I left off that list, both from my own life and from the lives of women who have inspired and continue to inspire me.

Boo YOU, motherfucker.” is not about Halloween, despite the “boo” in the title. If you haven’t already read it, I hope you’ll do so now.

It turns out you can scare away your ghosts.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Boo YOU, motherfucker.

I felt confident and sure as I strode down the hallway in my new pantsuit.

I knew the case. I enjoyed pushing my comfort boundaries. Best of all, on the other side of the mock trial, I’d be closer to finishing my hated first year of law school.

All was well as I set foot in the classroom setting of my mock trial.

Then I was in the room, and I remembered.


I remembered being told, “No one is going to believe you. They’re especially not going to believe you if you’re angry. You need to cry. You need to show how much you hurt. That’s what jurors want to see.”

I remembered sitting in the children’s room of the courthouse, playing with toys not intended for an eleven-year-old. Terrified but trying to distract myself.

I remembered being led to the stand, and coming to sit fewer than a dozen feet away from an unspeakably evil man. Wanting to leap over the low wall separating me from him, dive across the table, and strangle him. I wanted to eat his studiously sad face straight off of him so everyone would know he was a monster. Then, too, I would have a “real” reason for feeling so sick to my stomach.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gay love. Or, as I like to call it, love.

I knew Stupendous long before I knew Terrific.

“Stu” and I? We took martial arts together a dozen years ago. “Terri,” on the other hand, came into my life five years ago. Just barely.

The evening we met concluded such a miserable day of work-related travel, I very nearly turned my rental car back toward my hotel and skipped our planned meeting. As I drove darkened rural roads on the outskirts of Cupertino, I cursed and swore but ultimately believed Stu’s assurances I was almost there. I really would find them, if I stayed the course.

I did find them. And though I could not see it then, finding them in person was an intrinsic piece of my finding my way to the beautiful, blessed life I live now.

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This post's inspiration, as found on the Straight People for Gay Marriage Facebook page

Friday, October 7, 2011

FTIAT: The Thankful Writer: A Guest Blog About Gratitude

Rusty Fischer (Zombies Don’t Blog) first caught my attention with his free YA author’s guide to social media. The care he took to help others avoid pitfalls to which he’s fallen prey touched me not only as a writer, but also as hippie, kindness-loving Deb.

While Rusty runs on the busy side, that busyness hasn’t once yet stopped him from offering his thoughtful, enthusiastic voice of encouragement. For this I am deeply and personally grateful.

Recommended post: The Limits of Advice, Or: Giving Yourself Permission to Forge Your Own Path

The Thankful Writer: A Guest Blog About Gratitude by Rusty Fischer

I joined a new forum recently and one of the posters was asking for advice in advance of her first ever author interview. Having just done a few of my own and, of course, written a blog AND FREE Ebook about it (‘cause that’s how I roll) I posted a dozen or so tips on the forum and wished her luck and went about my day.

Never thought twice about it. Then, since I had joined this forum to find book reviewers in the first place, I hopped back on the site an hour or two later to check my messages and, wow. Just… wow.

A fellow author had weighed in on my earlier post to dispute several of my things “to do” for a great YA interview. Most of those things had to do with, you know, making it easier for the interviewer.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If editing were weight-lifting, I’d be benching 3 ounces.

For months, I told myself I’d start editing the second book in the Glass Ball trilogy (begun by The Monster’s Daughter) just as soon as I finished drafting Elelu. You know, that book I joyfully proclaimed drafted, oh, five weeks ago?

Monday, October 3, 2011

This sorta fairytale

Once upon a time, there was a rebellious girl who could do little right by her parents. This girl watched the adoration showered upon her younger sister and vowed that she would someday love each of her children equally, be they rowdy or be they respectful.

When she became a parent, she lived true to her vow. There were many things she didn’t do perfectly or could have done better, but each of her three sons knew how truly they were loved.

As they grew, she would look upon them fondly and reflect aloud on her old age to come. “When I am elderly,” she would say, “Middle, you will be the one to take care of me. You will be here in body and in spirit. Oldest, you will be here in spirit, but not in body. Youngest, you will be here in body, but not in spirit.”

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