Love, Miriam and Jackie
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a topic for a blog. And then the universe hands you a gem.
Friday nights at Starbucks is rarely amusing. Busy, busy, busy. Customer busy. Things to be done busy. Because working at Starbucks isn’t always about making a latte. Especially on Friday night when team ADHD is working: Brittany, Charlie, and Jackie. I’m only a double D no H just so you know, but I have to show my solidarity. On a good day, we’re all handling seventeen projects at once and on a bad day, the three of us run around in circles. This last Friday happened to be a good day. So I find myself with some extra time and decide to clean the bathrooms before I go on my lunch. It’s a few moments of down time behind a locked door…heaven. I step into the men’s bathroom and what do I find? A pair of handcuffs. At first I thought I had one too many espressos and was hallucinating. So I take a breath, close my eyes and mentally Feng Shui my head, open my eyes and yes, they are still there. Handcuffs in the Starbucks bathroom. What was my first thought? Oh hell no.
I don’t remember seeing anyone in the store in handcuffs, so they couldn’t have been left by some random fugitive. Just to make sure I’m seeing what I’m seeing, I call Brittany over, aka Baby Bird, and she’s sporting I-don’t-know-why-your-calling-me-over face. I open the door to the men’s bathroom and point at the handcuffs.
“Would you just look at that.”
Brittany’s eyes got big and round and her mouth fell open and no sound came out.
She walks over and I tell her, “Don’t you touch them. Who knows where they’ve been.”
“Mama Jax, why are there handcuffs in the men’s bathroom?”
“I don’t know. They aren’t mine.” Like any respectable person I would leave them at home. If I owned a pair.
“Are you going to keep them?”
“Okay.” She walks away snickering.
So I call Charlie over. He says, “What? What did I do?” Guilty much? He seems a tad reluctant to leave the bar area.
“Charles Mitchell Xavier Roach, I need to speak to you right now.” Sometimes you just have to break out your mom voice.
“What?” he asks.
“What do those look like to you?”
He said. “Awesomeness.”
“They’re not mine.” He giggles like a pre-pubescent school boy and walks away.
I’m thinking, what, the hell, am I supposed to do with them? I’m not going to walk out into the lobby and ask anyone if they lost a pair of handcuffs. Really. I don’t want to know about their personal life if they did.
So I broke a cardinal rule (Sorry, Ms. Lady) and I went and got my phone and took a photo to show Miriam. She’s not going to believe me. (You’re right Jackie, I didn’t believe you. I thought they were yours.) Then I threw them in the trash and after that things got busy, after all, it was Friday night at Starbucks. But I showed the photo to some of my favorite customers and we all had a good laugh.
Back to Miriam…When I showed the photo to Miriam she asks, “Did you take them?”
“They were locked and I didn’t have the key.”
“They have universal handcuff keys. You could have borrowed one from someone or buy one off of Amazon.”
A couple days later, my cop buddies come in. We bonded over cappuccinos. And I said, “Hey, did one of you leave a pair of handcuffs in my bathroom?”
Officer Cutie Pie nearly spits out his Grande iced Americano 2 pumps white mocha easy Breve. “You found handcuffs…in the men’s bathroom?” I show him the photo and he says. “They look like police issue.”
“Yes, that’s why I’m asking you.”
“I don’t think anyone lost them. Do you still have them?”
“I tossed them. I didn’t have a key.”
“They have a universal key.”
“I know.” I said. At least I know now.
“I don’t want to know how you know,” he says.
“I’m a writer, I have to know things like that.”
“I know, and that is why I’m sticking with it.”
Later on that night, I usually get my EMTs in and we play this little game. “What crazy happened to you tonight?”
Finally, I get to participate with something worthy of them. I showed my photo of the handcuffs. Everyone stared at the photo.
“Did you keep them?” one EMT asks.
Why does everyone keep asking me that?
“No, dude, I didn’t have a key.”
“I know. A universal key.”
In between sips of his Venti Java Chip Frappuccino, he digs into his pocket and whips out a universal handcuff key. “Yeah, ever since Fifty Shades of Gray came out, we get two or three calls a week to get someone out of handcuffs, so we all got our own keys.”
“Dammit, you beat me again.”
Apparently, if I want to win this game I’m going to have to break out the story of the homeless woman who flashed me the good china. But that is for another blog. I’m done.
Much love, Jackie.
Dr. Feelgood by J.M. Jeffries
Football legend, Riley Shaw, makes the winning touchdown of his career for the championship, but ends up in the hospital with a blown knee and a seriously gorgeous surgeon ready to do more than operate on him.
Mina Johns clawed her way out of foster care and into her dream. Now an emergency room doctor, she finds the persistent Riley Shaw too delicious to ignore.
Passion heats up when the mercurial Riley sets out to win the heart of the lovely Dr. Johns.
Available now at Amazon.com for only a $1.99.
If you like Dr. Feelgood, please leave a kind review.
This year, I’m turning fifty-one and for some strange reason, I’m freaking out about it. Last year when I turned fifty, I should have freaked out, but didn’t because I was busy freaking out about other stuff and didn’t have the energy or the time. So, back to fifty-one.
When I was twenty-one, fifty-one was literally decades away. And now that I’m fifty-one, twenty-one is decades in the past. My hair is going gray, my boobs are no longer where they are supposed to be, and I have strange aches and pains in places on body I didn’t know I had. But the most horrifying thing is that I started to notice the changes in my face. When I scrunch my face the Marianas Trench appears across my forehead. I have these funky lines around my mouth that look like grooves and dark patches on my skin.
So I decided to be pro-active, about this situation. I am going into battle. I want them gone which makes me think I just need to wash and iron my face, which could really hurt. A few days before I decided I’m dancing to close to hagdom, I bought my usual Clinique and got a gift with purchase. The gift was a tiny bottle of Repair Wear Laser Focus and Moisture Surge Cream. There used to be a day when I would pass these anti-aging treatments along because I didn’t need them. This time, I decided to try them and a few days later, I’m touching my skin and it feels so moist, so smooth and plush. And I’m like, so in. So in, I couldn’t wait to get back to the Clinique counter so I could spend my hard-earned cash and make myself look twenty again. That was four weeks ago and I can’t stop touching my face because it feels so good. I don’t know if my skin looks better, but damn, it certainly feels better. Miriam says, if only I could find Repair Wear Laser Focus for boobs and I said that would be firming cream. In for penny… I checked the Internet for firming cream for boobs.
I found a breast enhancement cream, but I don’t need to make my boobs bigger. And then I found it. Firming cream for boobs. Good Lord, it’s $380.00. That’s a car payment with insurance. If it were a one shot deal, I’d order some, but a girl’s gotta eat. Put gas in her car, buy dog treats, and books. I can’t forget the books. Maybe next year when I get my tax refund.
As a sidebar to this whole issue, I live in Southern California where we are having a severe water shortage. Our governor has asked that we keep our showers down to five minutes. I ask you, my sisters, what woman can take a five minute shower? That is the holy place where a lot of the magic happens. Five minutes, to wash, shave, exfoliate, deep condition, buff, and pumice? That stuff don’t happen in five minutes. I felt like a hero when I got it down to seven minutes. But enough about politics.
I bought the Even Better Skin Tone and Correcting Lotion for my spots. I always wanted a Dalmatian and God answered my prayers by making me one. I’m taking care of that. My purchase didn’t just stop at the wrinkles and the spots elimination. I bought new clothes and was pleasantly surprised to find my jean size went down one size. I even worked my old butt into a pair of skinny jeans. I was shopping with a friend and picked up these jeans and she said “Kurt Cobain much. You just need a flannel shirt. That is so 90s.” I liked the 90s. I liked grunge. Grunge was comfortable.
My friend told me to try them on. And I said, “I don’t people saying, oh, look at Jackie trying to relive her youth.” Okay, well, my thirties. I did rock the 90s, back in the day. I put the jeans back. I don’t want to be thirty again. I just want to look like I’m thirty. Well really forty. So I bought new jeans, new shirts, new bras (droopy boobs no longer an issue). To celebrate my smaller jean size I also picked up a box of white chocolate ice cream bars, ‘cause that’s how I roll.
I showed all my things to Miriam and I’m telling her how I’m feeling. And what does she says, “what about working on the inside.” My response was, “My insides are fine. Really, they are. Aren’t they?” Miriam just rolled her eyes in that dramatic way that only she can manage. I agreed to eat some broccoli and stop her from ‘old’ shaming me.
Basically, I’ll work on my insides after I spent the money on Eye Concealer, that promises to eliminate, bags, the puffies, and dark circles. That’s the last thing I need for my collection and then I’ll be perfect. Perfectly fifty-one.
Much Love, Jackie
Now available, Love Takes All by J.M. Jeffries (first in the Passion’s Gamble Series) in bookstores and at Amazon.com.
Architect Hunter Russell’s grandmother just won a Reno casino in a high-stakes poker game! And she wants Hunter to help renovate it. It’s a crazy idea, and he is just about to tell her so—until he meets the stunning young woman who is his grandmother’s new business partner. Suddenly Hunter is tempted to say yes.
Lydia Montgomery has lived the life of a trophy wife. Now she’s a trophy widow, with a young daughter to support, longing for independence and purpose. The last thing she needs is another strong-willed man in her life. But Hunter’s surprisingly sensual touch, an intoxicating mix of desire and tenderness, is making her reconsider.
Can a man who has always been alone, and a woman who has never stood on her own, take the biggest gamble of all…together?
May 2014, from Harlequin Kimani. Available in bookstores everywhere and from Amazon.com.
We all have them, we all indulge in them. And upon occasion, feel guilty that we do. Well. Maybe not. Have you ever thought about why we have guilty pleasures? If it’s not hurting anybody, why should we feel guilty for indulging in them? Who does it hurt that I have a secret addiction to ABBA or rather disco music in general. But I will tell you, the only time I indult in Disco Inferno is in my bedroom with headphones on. (Miriam: Thank you, God, for headphones and the fact Jackie’s bedroom is at the other end of the house from mine with lots of walls in between.)
There are occasions while at Starbucks I feel the need to break out with Dancing Queen. In the back room with my head stuck in the refrigerator while rotating the milk or sometimes in the back of the store looking longingly at that big bottle of white chocolate sauce thinking I just want to open it up and guzzle it down. You could probably put white chocolate on Brussels sprouts and I’d be all in. (Miriam: Jackie has a sad face. I just told her Stater Bros didn’t have white chocolate Magnum bars, so I had to bring dark chocolate bars instead. We both live for the white chocolate Magnum bars.)
I’m not embarrassed by my love for tequila and cigarettes, but why am I afraid to let people know I like BDSM, (or as a friend calls it—girly porn. He’s a man as if he doesn’t indulge). Thank goodness for Kindle. Sometime a girl has to indulge in a dirty ditty on their lunch hour. (Miriam: not looking at Jackie with judgmental eyes. Well, maybe a little.)
What else do I like to indulge in that makes me feel a teeny bit embarrassed? I baby talk to my dog. I know you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to talk to them in clear concise language than can be understood and, depending on the dog, chose to ignore. I never do this in front of anyone else, just in the privacy of my bedroom late at night. I wrap him up in his blanket, carry him to my room and put him to bed. If he would let me, I’d wrap him up in little sailor, or pirate outfits.
I was talking to a friend about writing this blog. And she confessed to me her overwhelming obsession with the attractive, but evil Vladimir Putin. I sort of have to agree. He’s hot, but evil. (Miriam: Icky.) He was the head of the KGB. What kind of husband material is that?
I just asked Miriam about her vices and her reply, with a raised eyebrow, “I don’t have any.” Okay girlfriend, I’m telling on you. Let me say, turkey jerky and white chocolate Easter bunnies.
A little part of me still hopes Denzel Washington will divorce his wife and find me and take me away from Starbucks. Like that’s going to happen. A girl has to dream and indulge in a guilty pleasure or two.
I can always tell when Jackie is having a difficult day writing. Answers to questions like, what would s/he say next is always preceded by very long pauses because Jackie is either playing a game or trolling the Internet or she’s thinking about another cigarette break. Which is compounded by me having a bad day writing, like today. But Jackie is more twitchy about it. She has a hard time sitting still, lots of bathroom breaks, though secretly I don’t think she really needs to go, just be away from me for a minute and innumerable cigarette breaks. I’ve thought about hiding her cigarettes, but I never do. Smoking is her quirk.
I have quirks, too. I play solitaire while she’s smoking. I check Facebook while she’s in the bathroom. And email when she’s too twitchy to form words. At times, even on a good day, focus for Jackie is an issue. She’s like my grandkids, who spent the night last week and brought all these toys along and played with them for maybe five minutes. Jackie spends five seconds doing one thing or another. She’s like a cat in a room full of canaries, looking everywhere and banging into walls.
Jackie is a seat of the pants writer. I’m more methodical. I like to know where a book is going to go from the beginning. When I insist on some sort of outline, Jackie humors me. We may deviate from the original outline because things will occur to us during the course of the writing that work better than our original idea. Sometimes I like the surprises and sometimes I don’t. To me, I have to keep my eye on the end goal while the journey is in progress. Jackie wants to be surprised at the end goal. For the her, the twists and turns in the trip are exciting to her. Not in real life, though, only in writing. Alien Invasion—surprise—not a good one. Foundling dog—surprise—a good one.
I think being on a tough deadline, like the one we’re on now, contributes to Jackie’s twichiness. We have all these worries. Are we going to make it? Will the story be good enough because we won’t have the leisure to rewrite the way we normally do? Will our editor look at this manuscript and frown with displeasure or even horror? In a lot of ways, writing a story is a crap shoot. Jackie deals with the stress by cigarette breaks. I deal with the stress by playing solitaire.
We’ll make our deadline. Though it may be close. And while we’re working toward it, we’re thinking about the next book and the next book. Writers aren’t in competition with each other as much as they are in competition with themselves. How to make the next story better? How to come with something unique? And if that takes tens of thousands of cigarette breaks and games of solitaire, I’m okay with that.
As much as Jackie’s cigarette breaks can be annoying, they are productive. When we’re stuck in some parts of our stories and Jackie will jump up for a cigarette break and come back with an answer. It may not always be the right answer, but it starts us thinking. And thinking gets us to the end.
Writing is hard. There are literally days when I rather take a needle and poke myself in the eye then come up with more story ideas. See, here I am trying to come up with something and I’m having a hard time chasing ideas for my blog, possibly because I’m on Shine.com and there’s an article about dogs. I always stop to read something about dogs. But Miriam is giving me the stink eye which I’ve noticed she has perfected. I’m impressed. She might give my mother a run for her money.
Maybe I’m stressed out because I only have a half-pack of cigarettes left. I knew I should have stopped at the store.
So is writing so hard? I think one reason is that I’m afraid of sounding stupid because when the stuff in my head hits the paper, it doesn’t make sense. Miriam, I’m taking a cigarette break.
(Jackie wanted me to put in something witty while she was gone, but the wittiest I could think of isn’t really witty. I’m keeping it to myself—Miriam.)
I’m back. I only have seven cigarettes left. Now I have to put on a bra and head out to the stop n’ rob. I wonder if Miriam will notice I’m gone. Maybe I can get her to take a name. Then she’ll never notice I’m tip-toeing out of the house to replenish my supply.
(I still have nothing witty to say—Miriam.)
I’m back. Ooo! Facebook. Let me see what my friends are doing. Elizabeth St. John is eating pie. Rashounda Jones Aiken is reading. I’m jealous because there is a Patricia Briggs book with my name all over it and Miriam is making me write stuff.
(She can’t have it until I’m done reading—Miriam .)
April Wood got her nose pierced. Wow, there’s a life webcam to look at puppies. Oh! Puppies! Seressia Glass is making bacon pancakes. Seressia, invite me to Atlanta. Frederik Stein is playing paintball. Farrah Rochon is in Turkey, not the bird, the country. And she is having way too much fun. Wish I were with her.
I only have five cigarettes left. Homicide may be committed today. James Madison, the fourth president, is celebrating his birthday is today. I’ll have a drink his honor. Did you know he helped facilitate the Louisiana Purchase, still to this day the greatest purchase ever? (It was a land grab—Miriam.) I’m out of pomegranate popsicles. Now I really have to go to the store today. Where’s my bra?
Only four cigarettes left. I’m starting to sweat. Miriam, aren’t you ready for your nap yet. There’s a new episode of Ripper Street on. I love that show and an totally happy Amazon.com bought the series and will produce new episodes. And Miriam is texting her granddaughter who sends her tons of I love you messages during the day. Do you think Miriam will suspect I’m playing hearts while trying to come up with something for this blog? I turned the sound down. I think I can get away with it.
Miriam says this is getting too long. So in conclusion, I would like to state for the record, more than anything else in the world, I love writing. I like the fact that it’s hard to do. Deep down inside, I’m always intrigued by the process and grateful for the chance to do it.
Now that I’ve got that whine off. (Do you need cheese and crackers, too?—Miriam) I’m ready. I’m going to bust out a few more pages of our current story, then I’m finding my bra, heading to the store to pick up cigarettes, buy Magnum bars and then run around the back yard and hope to God I don’t trip in one of his I’m-going-to-find-the-gopher holes.
Good day, mission accomplished. I got my blog done and I’m doing the happy dance. Everybody, go forth and accomplish something magnificent today.
<Now I need a bathroom break.>
Much Love, Jackie
Miriam’s blog. Jackie has been doing most of the blog writing while I was sick with bronchitis. So this week, I’m taking over.
Jackie did a gratitude list. This week it’s my turn. I try to be grateful for one thing every day. It’s something I think about every morning before I get out of bed. I love just laying there, curled up inside my warm nest. This morning while I was thinking, I started thinking about what I’m not grateful for. So I decided to be ungrateful instead. Here goes:
The other night I found myself stuck in the Starbuck’s parking lot with a flat tire after a hard day of work, and found out the AAA membership had expired. Pretty much I was on my broom with my flying monkeys ready for attack and thinking I’ve found my blogging material for the week. Then I wondered if I wanted to indulge in a vitriolic temper tantrum like I’m still two years old. I decided no. When I finally got home, I read my Facebook and read a post that basically said ‘what if tomorrow you woke up and only had the things you were grateful for today?’ I decided to turn the lemon in lemonade and write about things I’m grateful for. Miriam said I could only write ten things because people might get bored. So tomorrow, if I wake up with only these ten things, it’s Miriam’s fault, not mine. So here goes: