Being social

 

From my Pinterest board...

From my Pinterest board…

As you know, I’m pretty active on social media. I like it, because I love you guys, and it’s so easy to connect these days. Granted, I sometimes forget to check visitor posts on my Facebook page, and there’s this mysterious black hole where some of my messages go, and I only find them months later…

But I’m pretty good at checking in. So I figured I’d let you know exactly where you can find me and hear from me.

A tweet just last night…

A tweet just last night…

For example, did you know you can subscribe to this blog? You can! If you got it via email, you’re already subscribed; if you see it on my website, just look to the right, and you’ll see “Subscribe to My Posts via Email” and voila! You’ll never miss a post.

If you haven’t liked my author page on Facebook, please do. It’s where I post 90% of my stuff. I’m at  www.Facebook.com/KristanHigginsBooks You can hover over the “following” tab and click “see first” to make sure my posts will pop up in your feed.

On Twitter… https://twitter.com/Kristan_Higgins

On Pinterest, I do boards of each book, so you can get a visual of what I was thinking when I wrote them. www.Pinterest.com/KristanHiggins

On Instagram, where I’m relatively new, www.instagram.com/kristan.higgins

From the podcast…

From the podcast…

I also do a podcast with my great friend, author Joss Dey, called Crappy Friends, in which we discuss female friendships (the good, the bad, the ugly) as well as embarrassing personal problems. Visit us at www.crappyfriends.net. We have a blast! We also have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts there, too, so give us a look-see.

It's never wrong to try to be positive.

It’s never wrong to try to be positive.

Social media definitely has its drawbacks—it’s so easy for people to be nasty or angry, and there’s a lot of yelling. I try to steer clear of that and am successful 99% of the time. So pop over and hang out. It’s always so nice to visit with you.

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Closet shopping

 

But it's so pretty!

But it’s so pretty!

I accidentally made a New Year’s resolution…not sure exactly how, but I decided not to buy any new shoes or clothes in 2018.  You heard me.

I’m kind of a clothes whore, to be honest. I have plenty of sweaters, pants and dresses. I’m susceptible to every fad that passes…wardrobe by color, Tim Gunn’s wardrobe essentials, clothes that don’t need ironing.

Oooh! I love this!

Oooh! I could work this! Right?

Something happens to me when I’m shopping for clothes. I see a garment (usually a dress, because I love dresses) and I decide that having this dress is going to make me feel fabulous, more so than any of the other dresses I have. Doesn’t matter if I’m at Target or Marshall’s or Nordstrom’s or an indie boutique…this piece is a game-changer. I try to remember if I have an item in this color, and decide that no, I don’t.

Inevitably, I do. I just forgot about it. I get home and try to make room in my closet for this new dress (or shirt, or pants). Sometimes, I forget to wear the thing, ever. Or I try it on and find it looked better in the store than in my bedroom. The shoes that would look so cute with the dress are uncomfortable. I end up not wearing it and go with the old faded t-shirt dress I’ve had for eleven years and my battered Converse sneakers.

So what if I'm not pregnant? I love this dress!

So what if I’m not pregnant? I love this dress!

So I decided to enact a new-clothes ban (McIrish is wildly enthusiastic about this idea). Instead, I’ll shop from my closet. Try on that black skirt I haven’t worn in twelve years. Pair a different shirt with those pants. Play with scarves and jewelry and the like to jazz things up. Wear what I have, like a French woman who buys one great piece every few years and knows what will last.

This is my dream, anyway. Will let you know how it goes.

(Obviously, pajamas and socks don’t count. And bunny slippers.)

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Dating McIrish

 

IMG_6576As you may know, I’ve been here in Southern California, working furiously on a book, failing at the occasional yoga class (there is no fail, Kristan, there is simply limber and not-limber) and yes, even cooking myself meals.

Today, McIrish arrives.

Absence is good for the soul, right? And, er, other parts, too.

I feel like we’re dating. Right now, for the first time in days, for example, I got dressed in something other than pajamas. I vacuumed my tiny little rented house. I went to the farmer’s market and bought spicy hummus, avocados (when in California…) and flowers. In fact, I now have four flower arrangements in the place and should probably stop buying flowers. I washed the sheets and towels. I agonized over how to place the throw pillows on the bed. I swept the walk and emptied the trash.

IMG_6574Not that he will notice, mind you, though I will probably say, “Did you see how nice and empty the bathroom trash is?” and “Smell these flowers! Smell them!” and “Please note how precisely I folded these towels.” He knows me well, of course. Better than anyone.

It’s been a little lonely here in the best possible way…I’ve gotten so much done, and I’ve taken bike rides and walks. I got to see my friend Heidi, who lives near Los Angeles. But mostly, it’s been quiet, and the only people I’ve talked to are dog owners who tolerate me for a minute or two (shout-out to Reynaldo, who put up with me for 10). To demonstrate my mood, today I held up flowers to woo a hummingbird. I keep going to the window, like my dogs do, to see if he’s here, even though I know he’s somewhere over Colorado right about now.

IMG_6575I’ve made a reservation at a nice restaurant for dinner one day this week. We’re going to go kayaking and snorkeling. Our friends have invited us to their house. It will be a lovely time, I’m sure, but mostly, I’m just so happy to have my person back. When you’re the daughter of a widow, and your husband is a fire fighter, it’s not something you take for granted.

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The Snake People

nope

Never gonna happen

Here I am in La Jolla, California, trying to finish a book whilst also escaping the cold and gray New England winter. “Higgins,” I said, “don’t just sit on your butt out there. That big yellow thing in the sky? It’s the sun, and your vitamin D levels are sub-human, so get out there twice a day.”

 

Dear God, no.

Dear God, no.

So I did. Not only do I stroll down to the beach with my coffee each morning (because I’m on East Coast time and therefore very confused), I signed up to take a yoga class here. I take yoga in Connecticut. A lovely class called Gentle Yoga in which the teacher doesn’t make me do anything that might hurt my wonky knee. Sometimes, I almost fall asleep.

Hell no.

Hell no.

That’s what yoga is for, right?

Apparently not. I went to a “drop in” yoga class taught by a very lean man named Gerhardt (his real name). Hey, I figured. I take yoga! How hard can it be?

Oh, my God, peeps. I had walked into a class NOT geared toward my wonky knee, “cuddly” tummy and tight hamstrings. Within seconds, Gerhardt had spotted me as the weak link in the mix and felt it was his yogic duty to correct my form. “Yes, yes, a little deeper, turn your foot upside down, touch the back of your head to your heels, that’s it.” His accent did little to allay my fears that he would kill me in a slow, deliberate manner.

Within ninety seconds, I was drenched in sweat, shaking and praying to God and Buddha that Gerhardt’s eyes would pass over me. Both God and Buddha were busy, alas, so G. and I were engaged in this sort of battle; him wanting me to be limber and, uh, strong, and me wanting to be dead.

My classmate

My classmate

Meanwhile, my classmates were doing all sorts of boneless, weird, twisty things. They were like snake people. The young man next to me (who was shirtless, and sure, he was pretty), could balance on his head with all four limbs in the air. Soon, I thought as I tried not to grunt, he would levitate and turn into an eagle. The women in front all seemed to belong the US Gymnastics team and were balancing on one hand and there I was, trying not to have my knee crumble into dust.

Ouch

Ouch

But guess what, gang? I made it through all 75 horrible minutes of the class, the only one not clad in LuLu Lemon but instead in the yoga pants I bought from Target twenty years ago and my precious Blackbeard’s Bait & Tackle t-shirt from Cape Cod. I did it. I showed those lean Californians that what we Yankees lack in muscle tone, we make up for in grit.

However, I had ridden my bike to class, as I am car-less here. And maybe the yoga had taken more of a toll than I thought, because as I was stopped at a red light, I was suddenly lying on the sidewalk. “Hm,” I thought. “How did I get here?”

Say what you will about Yankees and our curmudgeonly ways, we stop when someone falls to the ground. La Jolla-ians do not. (Tsk tsk!) I bet if Dr. Seuss were still alive, he would’ve definitely stopped. Alas, he is not.

And so I righted myself, checked to make sure nothing other than my ass and pride were bruised, and headed home. Drank four glasses of water and went to bed at 7:30.

Namaste.

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Running away

 

IMG_6172Yes, I cracked. Couldn’t take the New England winter any more, so I ditched and ran to sunny California. I regret nothing. Back home, it’s gray and frigid, then gray and raw, then white and frigid, then…well, you get the idea. Also, renting a teeny little house with a fairy-sized garden is very good for the old imagination.

IMG_6269Sometimes writers talk about refilling the well—an image I don’t like, because I picture myself hauling woodend buckets of water up from a great depth, my hands raw from rope burn, then, inevitably, falling down like Baby Jessica and either dying or finding rotting zombies. I’m pretty sure that’s not what my fellow writers mean.

I think they mean this. Going somewhere new, somewhere quiet and lovely. Being able to open windows and smell flowers, and listen to the waves at night. My teeny house is hidden from the road, down this little maze flanked by shrubbery and flowers. It’s what I call Ikea chic—nothing irreplaceable, everything clean and functional.

IMG_6259This morning, I went to the farmer’s market and bought some veggies. And flowers! And maybe a dog (surprise, McIrish!). No, I didn’t steal the dog, but it was close. I hauled my stuff the mile back and am now happy as can be, sitting on the comfy couch, looking at the palm fronds just outside.

I’ll be writing and writing, gang, so if I’m a little sparse on social media, know that I’m hard at work, hoping you’ll like the end result. xox

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Gal pals

Maybe you know that one of my besties, Joss Dey, and I started a podcast—www.crappyfriends.net. Both of us are fascinated with female friendships, because if you’re a woman, you have female friends, and my God, they mean so much to us, don’t they? Joss and I wanted to talk about the dark underbelly of friendships gone wrong, because they cause us so much woe. We don’t see it coming. We expect our gal-pals to change. We want good things for them, and we didn’t know that feeling wasn’t mutual.

Obviously, we’ve been thinking about friendships-gone-wrong a lot. But I wanted to stop for a minute and acknowledge the friendships-gone-right, too, because one of the things the podcast has done is make me grateful for the wonderful women I have in my life. So without further ado…

Hilary, my sister, also my best friend.

Flannery, my daughter, also my best friend.

Beth, my oldest friend (suffice it to say we’re coming up on our 50th anniversary, okay?). Beth and I live in different states, but if I needed her or she needed me, we’d be there, no questions asked. Beth is beautiful and funny and irreverent. She knew me when I was an awkward, fanciful kid who rode imaginary horses. What a gift, to have a friend who shared your childhood!

Robyn. There’s that friend who is so frickin’ happy for you when things go right, who’d fight for your honor, who wants nothing but great things for you, who shares her wisdom and gifts you with her secrets, who would give you a kidney.

Shaunee. The sister of my heart. When I’m dying in a hospital bed, she’ll be there, no doubt.

Catherine, the friend who saw me through the hardest times of my life. What can I say about the friend who dropped everything when my father died? Who made me laugh when I was legitimately dying? One of the crown jewel of friends since we were 18 years old.

Christine. Lo these many years, watching our kids grow up together, watching them become adults. I call her my Jane Austen friend—we bonded over our mutual love of books and sewing, of domestic arts and children. Never a cross word between us, always sure in the other’s love.

Stacia. She gets me. I get her. I’d ride into battle for her, and she for me.

Maureen. That friend who makes you funnier, smarter, better, who asks nothing of you but to be yourself.

Deeanne. Who’d have thought that people from such opposite backgrounds would laugh till our teeth chattered? Who knew that meeting on a bus would blossom into a friendship so rich and layered?

You know what? Writing this blog would take forever if I named every single person I consider my closest female friends. Karen, Jennifer, Huntley, Kathy…and all the newer friends, too! Xio, Nana, Sarah, Alyssa, Sonali, Susan, Julie, Maggie, Lorelei…the list grows and grows.

How lucky I am. How very, very blessed. Truly, there’s no other word for it.

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Best present ever

 

I have this weird fantasy I probably shouldn’t admit to, but hey! Why not, right? It’s not kinky (or it’s very kinky, depending on your point of view). In this scenario, I’m sick with something vague but tiring. I require hospitalization, but not at areal hospital. A hospital that’s more like a spa with doctors. It’s very quiet. I must sit in bed, read, watch movies and eat ice cream sundaes for health reasons.

etherOccasionally, a doctor will come in and give me some drug that makes me fall asleep—ether, maybe, since it seemed to work in the Bugs Bunny cartoons I watched as a child. McIrish sits by my side, not terribly worried but needing to be there for me. There are flowers and excellent lighting. No nurses interrupt me, the mattress is luxurious and not plastic, there are no IVs or beeping machines.

gretaAlso, I’m wearing a bed jacket. Something fluffy and short so as not to entangle my person. Picture Greta Garbo here.

McIrish knows of this goal of mine, since I remind him almost daily. “I need to go to the hospital” has a different connotation in our house than the usual cry for help. Instead, I get a dreamy look on my face as I picture my lengthy recovery from…whatever. The books I’ll read. The naps I’ll take. The flowers (no lilies, please), the hushed and concerned voices. The bed jacket.

And lo…on Christmas morning, I opened a box and, as I saw the contents, began squeaking with joy. It was a bed jacket!

jacketOn the nights when McIrish is at the firehouse, I put on my jammies, fluff up our many pillows, get the book, my computer, Willow and the myriad items I require for sleep—a tissue, the little pillow, the Vicks inhaler, my phone so I can listen to a podcast or call 911 when the zombies attack. I open the windows and then…yes…I put on my bed jacket, recline gracefully (or not) and sigh with contentment.

A girl can dream.

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Car talk

click and clackSome of the best conversations I have with my kids take place in the car. Maybe because there’s no escape, maybe it’s because I threaten to listen to Car Talk unless we converse, but there it is. Today, I drove Dearest Son back to college, and we talked about the semester and the upcoming summer, potential jobs, friendship, dealing with stress, family members…the whole gamut.

unicornI used to tell stories to the kids in the car back in the day—Mickey the Fire Engine; the badger who befriended a little boy; a sister and brother who found a secret underground city powered by the magic of a captive unicorn; that same pair joining a children’s army when all the adults disappeared; a Christmas Eve when a little girl and her brother get a special treat from Santa.

storkUncomfortable conversations are great for the car, too, since the driver can’t maintain eye contact while the passenger dies a thousand deaths. We’d cover where babies come from. Where babies don’t come from. Where my babies came from. Both kids learned long ago to cringe and hunker down in the seats when I started a conversation with, “I’m bringing this up in the car so we don’t have to look at each other.”

moonWhen the kids were really little, we’d go see my in-laws and, at the end of the visit, put the little ones in their jammies and drive home in the dark. The Princess would watch the moon, delighted that it was following us. Dearest Son would fall asleep, usually holding her hand, and McIrish and I would listen to a baseball game and talk quietly. When we got home, we’d carry the kids inside and tuck them in bed, and they hardly ever woke up.

Those were happy times. But these are too, talking about the state of the country, the future, which states would be fun to live in. I drove back from Dearest’s college, missing him already, missing the Princess, who drove herself back today. But I’ll see them soon, and they live in my heart, no matter how far apart we are.

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Craptastic Friends

 

One of the things I find so interesting (objectively) and so painful (personally) is when a friend turns out not to be such a good friend after all. Men don’t seem to have this problem, but every woman I know has a story. Every one! Whether it happened in high school, at work, over a guy, during a wedding, over nothing discernible at all, we all have that story. Or sometimes, stories.

Would you take advice from these two?

Would you take advice from these two?

Happily, I have about a dozen best friends. One of them, author Joss Dey, is also fascinated with this subject. In fact, Joss and I became super-close five or six years ago, when we were both dealing with a mutual friend who was, to put it in delicate terms, going off the rails on her crazy train. She had seemed so normal, so nice when we first met her, and then, month by month, certain things red flags began fluttering, then flapping, then slapping us in the face. But we had to help, we thought. Because we were friends. We had to talk to her and tell her to take a breath, calm down, stop doing destructive things, stop lying to us.

Joss is very wise. (Picture taken on my 50th birthday)

Joss is very wise. (Picture taken on my 50th birthday)

Suffice it to say, things didn’t go well. They never do, right? Joss, who is very wise, pointed out that while there are roughly 10 million books about romantic relationships, there don’t seem to be any about how to build a female friendship.

There’s a pink silk veil of expectation that floats over women’s friendship. We’re all steel magnolias, right? We’re Thelma and Louise! We meet, hit it off, and boom! We’re great friends. There’s no vetting system, like there is in dating. There are no steps outlined, the way there are in countless books and websites. There’s just instinct, and, unfortunately, this notion that if you like another woman, you’re going to be lifelong friends.

Kristan is known for maintaining her calm in crisis situations.

Kristan is known for maintaining her calm in crisis situations.

But people are people. Maybe we were wrong about how awesome our friend was. Maybe it took us awhile to figure that out. If a guy had treated us so craptastically, we would’ve dumped his ass in a New York minute… but with girlfriends, it’s harder. It’s almost verboten. It can feel like a betrayal, even if it’s in your best interest. And sometimes, it’s agony!

So…Joss and I have decided to do a podcast, tentatively called Shitty Friends & Circumstances.

Great friends lo these many years!

Great friends lo these many years!

Joss and I will get together, talk about shitty friend situations (for now, female/female, non-romantic friendships). We’ll talk about what happened, how it could’ve been prevented, and what to do now. Are we shrinks? Nope! We’re just two great friends. But we’ll have guests on from time to time (including our friend the therapist), as well as other friends, authors and bad-ass women.

If you want to share your story, you can email us at joss@jossdey.com or kristanhigginsbooks@gmail.com. All names will be kept confidential.

Can’t wait to get started!

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A horse, a goat and a kitten

horseThe other night as I was driving home, I saw what I thought was a deer crossing the road. It wasn’t a deer, though; it was a horse galloping down the road in the dark. Following the horse was a goat, just a little brown blur following its friend. I grew up around horses, so I stopped and got out of the car. It was very cold out, not even 10 degrees. A couple had stopped first, and I told them I’d help, since I grew up around horses (and my own used to bolt from our field from time to time). The owner wasn’t home, but the other folks had called the police.

We flushed the horse off the street. She then hid behind the garage, so I went to her barn, using my phone’s flashlight, and got her some hay. In a minute, I heard hoof beats clattering on the frozen ground. “She’s coming your way!” the man called, and I’ll admit, it was a little scary, since it was too dark to see her. But she went right past, the little goat frisking along behind her.

catI sent the other folks off, since I had no plans that evening, and stood, waiting for the state police or owner to come home. Then a wee cat hopped up on the porch and sat, mewing in front of the door. When I approached, she started to purr. I picked her up and snuggled her; she was so chilly! After she was warmed up, I tried the door. Lo and behold, the door was open. I put the kitty inside and then went back to the fence in case the horse made another break for freedom.

It’s a strange thing, being outside in the dark when it’s so cold. The sky seems closer and brilliant with stars. The sounds of the horse eating her hay and the occasional bleat of the goat were reassuring. I’m not often outside in the frigid cold, staring at the night sky, listening to the quiet.

The minutes ticked past. I called the coppers again and asked when they’d get there. They said they weren’t coming. “Aren’t you afraid the horse will get out again?” I asked. “I can’t tell where the break in the fence is. What if she runs back into the road and causes an accident?”

“We called the owner, ma’am,” said he. “You don’t have to stay. It’s not your problem.”

But it was, sort of. My urge to save the world is strong, and I don’t get many chances to be heroic. What if someone’s kid was driving home, and the horse bolted and the kid hit a tree? What if it was my kid? A pregnant lady? An old person who might stagger out of the car and freeze to death in the woods? Such are the thought of a writer. So I stayed until the owner came. She was most grateful for my help, and the horse was locked in the barn for the night with her little goat friend. I got back in my car, brushed the hay and cat fur off my coat, and headed for home feeling very chipper and neighborly indeed.

skyI was going to write a blog about the new year and try to offer advice and tips on how to be happier, more productive, gentler on yourself. But maybe this story told it better than a list. Keep an eye out. Try not to be afraid, even when you don’t know what’s coming at you. Look at the sky. Feel the quiet. Don’t always be in a hurry to get somewhere. There’s little else in the world that will make you feel better than doing a favor for someone else.

Happy New Year, my friends. I wish you health and happiness and quiet nights full of stars.

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