Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When life hands you lemons, add them to your vodka

Yesterday sucked donkeys.

There were a variety of reasons, but suffice it to say I found myself staring at the seven remote controls on the coffee table wondering which could fast-forward through my crappy morning.

But I write humor. On this blog, in my manuscript, in my tweets – I’m here to be funny. If I stopped making you laugh, you’d stop reading and I’d have to resort to telling knock-knock jokes to the cat and gauging his reaction by how enthusiastically he licked his butt.

The great thing about writing romantic comedy is that it’s easy for me to brand myself with tweets and blog posts that reflect the same humor I use in my books. I’ve talked to several authors who write more serious novels and find it tough to draw people in. I’m lucky to have cheap laughs as my lure.

So what happens if I’m not feeling funny?

Behold, I give you Tawna’s tips for writers (or anyone else) having a donkey-sucking day:

DO switch up the music you’re listening to
. If you’re on the tenth replay of Pink Floyd’s “On the Turning Away,” it’s possible you’re contributing to your downward spiral. Switch to something you can dance to. Bonus points if you actually dance. Triple bonus points if you do it in your underwear.

DO interact with someone who makes you laugh. Turn to Twitter for a quick pick-me-up, or swap an email with an old pal.

DO interact with someone in-person. This is different than the last one because real face-to-face contact forces you to be animated and engaged. I work from home, so I have to get creative with this. It’s possible my vet wondered why I pleaded for a last-minute appointment yesterday, or why I hugged her when I left.

DO try to accomplish something. Even something small like doing the dishes or organizing a messy drawer will give you a sense of achievement to ensure the day wasn’t a total waste of lipstick.

DO take a walk. Fresh air does great things for your mind.

DO keep your troubles in perspective. Years ago, I worked in marketing for a large medical center. My computer crashed one afternoon, losing two weeks of work. When I griped about it to one of the nurses, he nodded supportively. “It’s been a bad day for me, too,” he agreed. “My patient died.” Suddenly, my woes didn’t seem so terrible.

DON'T wallow. It can be exhausting trying to pull yourself out of your rut, and the urge to lie down in the mud and smear it all over yourself can be overwhelming. Don’t do it. Get up, wipe off the slime, and get moving.

DON'T drink. I know, I know…I love wine as much as the next person. But alcohol is a depressant, and it’s like pouring kerosene on the flames when you’re already feeling down. Better solution? Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt straight from the carton.

How about you? What are your bad day pick-me-ups? Please share in the comments. I’ll be over here making damn sure today is better than yesterday.

30 comments :

Candyland said...

Funny you posted this when my day, right now, sucks donkey. Great tips for hermits like myself. Tips I can offer....hmmm...It's okay to eat the extra piece of chocolate.

Emmaserene said...

Thanks, Tawna. I just suffered a major donkey-sucking disappointment (as you would call it) this morning: a 3-line form rejection from my agent-on-the-hook after five months on an exclusive revise/resub.

So this post was perfect timing for me. Especially that last tip. : ) *puts the bottle away*

Jennifer X said...

Chocolate, chocolate covered chocolate and, well chocolate!

Patty said...

Sadness, for me, is sadly (Ha!) a squatter I wish I could evict. I struggle with it on a daily basis... dad issues that go back so far, I think I've funded the educations for several therapists' children.

But I digress.

I "change the channel". Just now, as I wrote that sentence, I started typing the latest "thing" and caught myself (like anyone besides me actually cares?), hit Delete, and simply refused to go there.

I do this throughout my day. Sometimes, I think of my sons and what each did to make me smile. Yesterday, Rob used Twitter to make yet another pitch for a graduation gift he wants. I resisted the urge to strangle him. By the time I got home from work, I was smiling at his ball - er, guts. Yes, guts.

Chocolate. It's really my only vice. I'm not much of a drinker, not by choice but by happenstance. I just don't like the tastes of so many things. I've never been drunk.

When things get REALLY bad, I call a friend who had a baby and invite myself over just to smell him. I don't care how bad a day you've had, nothing says "Yes, Patty, there is a God!" like holding a sleeping newborn who doesn't care that you don't make much money, aren't published, can't balance a checkbook, and hell, aren't your dad's favorite person.

All he cares about is that you're a comfy place to keep sleeping. When you get a whiff of that new baby smell.... life seems a whole lot brighter after that.

I dance. My favorite song when I'm sad is "That's What I Like About You"... gets me moving like nothing else can. It's damn near impossible to be sad when you're dancing.

I read. Losing myself in another writer's alternate reality helps me escape my own and its associated woes.

And... recently, I've started trolling Twitter and a certain blog for Tawna Fenske posts. You, Tawna, are therapy-by-mouseclick and I am happy to return the favor whenever you wish.

I can be funny. Sometimes. No, really.

Patty said...

Wow! 3 votes for chocolate. I feel better already.

Delia said...

Music! "On the Turning Away" always makes a commercial for a third world aid organization play in my head. I can't listen to it without seeing sickly, underfed babies with flies at the corners of their mouths. Therefore, I've banished that song. In it's place -- Atomic Dog. The best pick-me-up song ever. And, while I do not dance in my underwear, I do like to get some red heels, or something in a snakeskin print, and go to town. My clothes aren't great, but my shoes are fantastic.

Oh, and chocolate.

Tawna Fenske said...

Candyland, glad the tips were timely for you! It's definitely different for the hermits who have to make an extra effort to seek out other people for some cheer.

Emmaserene, ((hugs))) on the rejection. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. And having been there, I can say the best thing I ever did in that situation is send out a crap-load of new queries to give myself the thrill of new hope. Hang in there!

Jennifer X, you forgot chocolate.

Patty, what fabulous suggestions! I'm adding some of these to my list!

Delia, funny, a song I absolutely adore just popped up on my Pandora station, but I deliberately clicked "skip" because it's one of those moody, sad songs and I didn't want it dragging me down.

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Lucy Woodhull said...

YES! I write humor, too, and on the shit sandwich days it's so hard. I have found that a spot of 30 Rock on Netflix will help immensely. Or pills. Really good pills.

Also, as a lady chick, I have found that the ol' hormone cycle can really affect me. On those days when I want to punch everyone with a hammer (i.e. PMS), I just don't work on the MS. I'm happier, and the laptop is happy to avoid the hammer.

Shadow said...

Okay things that get me going when I am feeling down.

Actually mud between the toes is good, pretend I am a kid again and blowing bubbles, long hot soak, talking with B, playing with the kids, watching a soap opera (aren't their lives SO much worse than ours!), draw, play with my beads, paint, well heck, lots of things to do that will make me, at least feel better.

Thanks!

Marybeth Poppins said...

Hahaha...my post is on the exact same topic today. My week so far has been total crap. So I turned on the English/Pirate version of Facebook.

It was all worth it when this showed up on my wall...

Robert be plunderin' Bible Training Institute Graduation fer wenches and booty.

Ahhh...it's the small things!

Karla Nellenbach said...

for me it's not so much Cherry Garcia as it is Chunky Monkey...to each her own! ;)

Danica Avet said...

I wouldn't say my day is sucking donkeys, but it isn't exactly stress free and it's killing me waiting to hear back from someone.

However, when I'm in the dumps, I do tend to wallow a bit...I'm a wallower. To borrow a line from French Kiss I "wallow in it until my fingers get all pruney". However, to get out of it, a hot bubble bath, a good book, and World Class Chocolate ice cream from BR does the trick. If none of that is available, I read some of my favorite blogs for a quick laugh and that usually helps me out of the funk.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Laughter is one of the main keys to happiness. You simply need to find a way to make yourself laugh. Turn on Comedy Central? Have a conversation with your pets about politics or religion? Read something you wrote a few years ago? (That one's a sure bet!) And, always, always eat chocolate.

Thanks for sharing about your donkey-sucking day. As you know, my life has been a bit donkey-sucking lately. Your bit about the cat and the knock-knock jokes cracked me up. Not so sure my six feline captors would have found it quite as entertaining. ;-)

Cynthia Reese said...

If it were bad for you, think about the poor donkeys!

I guess I've never really thought about this aspect ... it's hard to write humor when you aren't in a humorous mood.

For me, simply remembering to smile, even if I don't feel like it -- ESPECIALLY if I don't feel like it -- will sometimes put the brakes on. And of course you -- you never fail to knock some sense into me.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

When I'm feeling moody I go buy coffee and receive hugs from the pretty Frenchman who owns the nearby coffee shop. It forces me to brush my hair, put on lip gloss, and smile. And then I get to hear a pretty accent, get a great hug, AND have fantastic coffee. I walk out feeling pretty, liked, and caffeinated. It's pretty much made of win.

MissHannahGrace said...

Taking a nap and/or a shower. For some reason, I always feel so much better after I've taken a shower.

Linda G. said...

Aw, I'm sorry you had a bad day. Hope you're feeling better now.

Like you, I try to keep my funny face (hey, no cracks from the peanut gallery!) forward online. I write humor, and I think that should be reflected in my web presence. When people think of Linda Grimes, I want them to laugh! ;)

Of course, I'm not really always jolly. When the blues strike, I tend to crawl into my cave with a good book and a load of chocolate. No drinking for me when I'm down--as much as I kid around about my martinis and Manhattans, I know they don't help in those situations.

Your suggestions are all good ones. Thanks for sharing them! :)

Jeannie said...

Lets see...chocolate helps. I play with the dogs. I find a great book and, depending on what's eating me, laugh off my troubles or cry them out. I find a game to watch--hockey or baseball--and get into that. Screaming at the TV helps a lot.

Tawna Fenske said...

Lucy, good point on the PMS thing! It's good to recognize when the blues are brought on by something that simple so you can at least remember not to take yourself too seriously.

Shadow, the next time it rains here, I'm totally going out barefoot in search of a mud puddle.

Marybeth, I don't even know what that means and it made me snort iced-tea out of my nose!

Karla, I'm an equal opportunity Ben & Jerry's binge-eater...Chunky Monkey works great for me, too!

Danica, ah, the waiting game...talk about sucking donkeys! You have my sympathies!

Debra, glad it made you smile! My pets always appreciate conversation, and they make an effort to contribute by licking a variety of body parts (mine or their own, they aren't picky).

Cynthia, I hadn't really thought about the humor aspect when I first started this blog. The humor comes easily for me 99% of the time, but on those days I'm a little off? Argh. It's like pulling teeth.

Elizabeth, yours sounds like a perfect solution! I once worked for a company that had an IT guy with a beautiful South African accent (and a hot bod to boot, not that we were ogling him). When things weren't going well in the office, someone would inevitably shout, "quick, someone break a computer so we can call him to fix it!"

MissHannahGrace, good point on the shower. It's harder to avoid wallowing if you're filthy :)

Linda G, no joke, there are a few blogs I've visited where the writer spends so much time whining that I want to stick my head in the oven before I've finished the second paragraph. I've vowed to write every post in a way that (hopefully) makes readers smile at least once every time.

Jeannie, excellent point about the book! Re-reading Jennifer Crusie always makes me smile!

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Tahereh said...

LOOOL anything that sucks donkeys is bound to be bad, isn't it?

sorry about your less-than-awesome day.

things will look up though! promise! ALSO INVESTING IN CHOCOLATE IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA. ;D

Shannon said...

Hi Tawna,

Sorry you had a crappy day. Here are a few of my pick me ups:

1) Music
Like you, I change the channel. I have an entire iPod playlist called happy songs. I've got everything from K.C. & the Sunshine Band to Bob Marley. Works Wonders.

2)Scent
Bath and Body works. I use their bodywash, lotion, and spray. Take a bath and drown yourself in an aroma you love.

3)Cooking
If I'm feeling down, I cook. No comfort food, though. Making salads helps. There's a certain meditative aspect to cutting veggies.

4)Mediate
A few quiet moments in the sun works wonders

5)Color
Good old fashioned coloring can be very therapeutic.

That's all I've got.

Hope your day gets better

-Shannon

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Um, why weren't you taking the opportunity to ogle? That sounds like a prime opportunity to enjoy one of life's little pleasures.

But other than that misguided lack of foresight, I really enjoy reading your blog. I think it's fantastic how you respond personally to everyone (here and on twitter!), and share so much while maintaining a steady stream of cheer (and I don't mean wine). I know it can be tricky, but I wanted you to know that it's totally appreciated. So thanks!

ETA: Ooh, and Shannon's right! A bad day is precisely the sort of thing for which emergency crayons were created.

Deborah said...

Two words: bubble bath.

Works every time. And a hug from DH, or one of my DC. Or snuggle with my kitty. Or debriefing with my mother. Depending on the depth of suck @ss, maybe all, just not all at once. :)

Sorry to hear you had a suck @ss day. Hope tomorrow's better. ((HUG))

Deb

Amanda Sablan said...

Music, cooking, and riding my bike are very calming for me. And of course, writing, whether it's my novel, my blog, or a grocery list.

By the way, I'm liking your blog! :)

Guinevere said...

I just found your blog -- love your voice and reading the story of your writing journey! I can't wait to read your novels (especially the one about Drew... he sounds yummy).

Anyway, I like your tips... agree about chocolate and changing up the music, although I think *sometimes* it's ok to wallow for a little while. :) Running is another thing that helps fix a bad mood for me sometimes, if I can talk myself into lacing up my sneakers and heading out the door.

Dawn said...

I needed this post yesterday when my day did suck MAJOR donkey. In addition to your awesome tips, I'll add the one that works for me: Hot muse Monday. I choose a new avatar every Monday morning. Sets me up for the whole week.

Hope the rest of your week sucks WAY LESS donkey.

Kat F. said...

Glad to hear your day improved! May tomorrow be even better!

Things I use on bad days:

Wallowing. I find it cathartic to have the (not so) occasional whiny little pity-party. However (and this takes practice) I must only wallow in moderation. The thing about every pity party is that, sooner or later, they all must END. This leads to...

Perspective. I am (un)fortunate enough to have other things to compare to in my life that are much worse. In the last 15 years, I have been through seven car accidents, gave up my son for adoption, had an abusive boyfriend, was evicted illegally and without notice, and still NONE of these things are as bad as the crap I suffered as a kid. It takes real effort to climb my Mt. Everest of Bad. But sometimes even I forget how bad things can be, and that's when I turn to friends to both talk about my problems and hear theirs in return. Yeah I don't know where rent is coming from this month, but I'm not dealing with a loony, drug addicted ex wife who kidnapped both my kids. Perspective is good.

And when my friends aren't around or it's just minor doldrums....

Taste. Chocolate, yes, but also anything tasty. This includes healthier things like carrot juice. For me it's about flavor, and never underestimate any favorite flavor for a pick-me-up!

Animals. Cats with the purring and cuddliness, dogs with their waggly tails...all of it.

Acting like a kid. Blowing bubbles, coloring, singing along to Disney songs, playing with toys, watching (good) cartoons, anything to that reminds me that life is play as much as work, and not near as serious as I sometimes take it.

Tape. I personally have a special fondness for walking around with things stuck on the end of my nose. The fun comes when someone asks you why and you get to think up goofy explanations. The idea came from a children's story about a girl with tape on her nose, and the adults guessing why. Their reasons were perfectly logical and rational ("do you like the way the sun shines through it?") but in the end her reason was simply, "Because I can!" I like to remind myself that, when every door seems closed, it's only because I'm knocking on the wrong doors. Sometimes I need to remind myself how free I really am, or how the little joys are the most important ones I have.

Going barefoot on natural ground. Not concrete, but grass, dirt, whatever. It centers and grounds me for reasons I can't explain. (Squishing bare toes in mud is fun, too.)

Walking in the rain (as available). Walking barefoot in the rain is even better. Being naked in the rain is best. When rain isn't available, take one of those looooong, hot, water-wasting showers. I like to sit beneath the spray.

Also, try hugging a tree. Seriously. I get an almost immediate mood boost (find a private place so you don't feel self conscious or it cancels this out). I have always thought it was the oxygen the tree emits, but I'm not sure. I just know that, as someone who has never been all that into vegetation (gardening, etc.), it Does Stuff for me. Sitting under a tree is nice too, though for immediate improvement, hug it first and breathe deep.

Watching TV or going to a movie. A study was done that proved about an hour a day of TV could help improve your mood, while too much brings it down. Movies also suspend your sense of time and give you natural "highs."

Music, all kinds. Sometimes it's happy, sometimes it's angry, sometimes it's even sad. It's whatever music gives me the proper "release" from my bad emotions--if they remain, I picked the wrong music. (An example: I went through a breakup once where I had "Die, Die, Die My Darling" on repeat, LOUD. It's a wonderfully psychotic little song about murdering the person you hate to love. I was gloriously happy singing along at the top of my lungs. My roommates, however, hid in a closet until they were sure the madness had passed.)

Kat F. said...

My face is red because this is so long...sorry. I had no idea how long until I finished the list--and this is the abbreviated list. *blushes* But I'd like to share it--if it's too much, please just delete it.

--

Glitter nail polish in primary colors, glitter hair spray, glitter body spray, or, really, anything with glitter. Trust me, Twilight has not killed the healing power of glitter, not yet. If you are too self conscious to wear it, get out the Elmer's glue and glitter and go to town!

LED lights in a darkened room. (With music. And dancing. Rave style.)

Super bouncy balls.

LED lights INSIDE bouncy balls!

Play dress up. Ex: Wear that costume from last Halloween. Put on your best little black dress and then go do laundry in it. Paint your face like a tiger or put hearts on your cheeks or a unicorn on your tushie. Get out a sharpie and cover yourself in poetry (and have a good loofah on hand afterwards). Stick stickers all over yourself. Wear a short skirt, a top hat, and nothing but tape on your nipples, then crank up the music and DANCE! Or just wear your favorite negligee for no reason at all.

And with that said--"personal" time. With toys or books or "interesting" videos, or just with the proper fantasy. It cannot be said enough, the fastest way to a goofy smile can be just a little jolt of pleasure.

Webcomics. I must have a list of 60 or more. I keep up with about 20 on a regular basis (not hard since most aren't daily updates), and the rest I read only once in a while. They are one of the few things that have been known to make me laugh out loud in highly inappropriate situations. This can be dangerous, however, as entire evenings have been known to disappear under their influence.

TV Tropes. Take the webcomics funny and double it. Also, kiss your evening, the next day, and really your entire week goodbye.

I'll stop here because this is longer than I intended. Oops.

Claire Dawn said...

I don't mind it so much. I'm bipolar, and depression means I'm about to be ridiculously happy! :)

My latest trick is to write down the stuff that pisses me off. I'm a starving artist, some day it will all be worth millions. The thought makes me smile- delusional or not.

I also love to veg on anime or the latest sitcom or soap or 80's tv or any one of a zillion books.

Tawna Fenske said...

Tahereh, thanks for the kind wishes. Yesterday was indeed better than the day before, and today will be even better :)

Shannon, great ideas, especially the scent one! We travel a lot, and I usually pick a different soap fragrance for each vacation. Eight years might pass, but I can still open a bottle of Bath & Body "Juniper Breeze" lotion and think, "oh, that's Fiji."

Elizabeth, I was just pretending to be polite. Trust me, I never miss an opportunity to ogle. And I'm so glad you enjoy the back-and-forth in the comments and on Twitter. It's my favorite part of this whole social media endeavor!

Deborah, good idea on the bubble bath! And the pets, though I try not to combine the two.

Amanda, cooking! Yes, that's a great one. Of course, doing the dishes depresses me all over again. Glad you're enjoying the blog. Thanks for the visit!

Guinevere, welcome to the blog! Drew is kind of yummy (speaking of things that cheer me!)

Dawn, do you pick avatars to match your mood, or to improve your mood? Or is it random?

Kat F, holy crap! These are fantastic! Thanks so much for all the great suggestions. My favorite is the glitter nail polish one. I'll have to try that next time I have a bummer day. Thanks again for all the fabulous ideas!

Claire Dawn, I'm not sure I have enough paper to write down all the stuff that pisses me off :)

Thanks so much for reading, guys!
Tawna