I dreamed a dream

 

queen-63006_960_720I’m blessed/cursed with vivid dreams. Last night, for example, I dreamed that my best friend, Catherine, had a famous grandmother. Who was this famous grandmother? Why, the queen of England! Elizabeth II herself! In the thirty-two years Catherine and I have been friends, she neglected to mention that she was a princess. But it didn’t matter! I asked the queen if she had watched The Crown on Netflix. She had not, but I filled her in. Then I told the queen that my daughter was a huge fan, and could I take a selfie with her to send to my own Princess? Of course, the queen graciously agreed. Alas, I couldn’t find my camera or phone, and Elizabeth got irritated; did I know who she was, after all? Also, she and Philip wanted to go out for dinner, and then I got lost following them, until I found them and told the maître d’ I was with the royals, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t wearing pants.

baby-1178539_960_720The night before, I dreamed that my daughter had a baby named Rosie. The baby was very cute (obviously) and had black hair, just like the Princess did at her birth. Rosie was short for Rosita, which Dearest didn’t like because of a certain character on The Walking Dead. The other name being considered was Elsinore. Norrie, we could call her. We all pretended to like that one.

I have recurring dreams that Robert Downey, Jr. is in love with me. Those are excellent dreams, let me assure you. McIrish is conveniently absent in those, and Bobby tells me yes, he’s loved me forever, he wants to be more than best friends, and people, I am in. Now, if McIrish told me he had a dream like that involving Kate Winslet, I would be mad at him for the rest of the day. He’s more tolerant than I am, understanding that this is my job we’re talking about. Dear McIrish. Such a good hubby.

Sometimes I dream that we get an unusual animal for a pet. Otters show up frequently. Baby animals with the potential to outgrow our house—giraffes, elephants. In my dreams, we figure this out. Of course we do! We’re not the type to give anyone away.

Once in a while, I dream about someone who’s died. My dad, my grandmother, my Poppy. Those are always so comforting, like visits from the great beyond.

Small wonder I list napping as one of my favorite hobbies. : )

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Heartbreak Hotel

The other evening, I was staying in a hotel for the board meeting of Romance Writers of America. I’d been out late the night before to visit a friend in the hospital, and I was tired, so I got into my jammies and took a nap.

This nap was interrupted by loud voices. There were a bunch of college kids staying in the hotel for a sports event, and it was pretty rowdy on my floor. But it sounded like these kids were right outside my door, so I went outside, prepared to go into full Get Off My Lawn mode.

Instead, I saw a young man and woman in the vending room right across the hall. He was sitting on the floor, sobbing, telling the young lady how much he loved her. To say he was sitting in a pool of tears would not have been an exaggeration. Clearly, she was breaking up with him, and he was utterly devastated.

“Are you okay?” I asked. They were, the girl assured me. “Have you been drinking, honey?” I asked the boy. No, the girl said. They didn’t drink.

The boy’s head was in his arms, so I couldn’t see his face, but he was crying and crying. I put my hand on his head as if I was his mama. “I have kids your age,” I said. “I’m sorry you’re so upset. I know it’s awful right now, but it will get better.” I told them my room number and asked them to get me if they needed anything. The girl thanked me; the boy did, too, and I petted his hair and told him I was sorry he was so sad. Then I left, feeling bad that I couldn’t do more.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for him, though I only know what his hair looks like; he never raised his head. I hope when morning came, he woke up feeling better; that he was able to have fun with his friends in this beautiful city; that he’s not embarrassed about crying in front of a stranger. I hope he remembers the punch of a broken heart, and it fosters kindness and understanding in him. And sure, I hope he remembers that a stranger tried to comfort him, even if she might’ve seemed a little strange with her pajamas and goofy hair, and that someday, if he sees someone in pain, he’ll stop, too.

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Advice to the Lovelorn Hipster Female

 

couple-1845620_640

How cute are these two? Not going down in flames!

One of my most favoritest things to do in the entire world is eavesdrop on first dates. I cannot adequately describe my love of this activity, which irritates my husband for some unknown reason…he gets a rather constipated look on his face when I interrupt his poetic waxings on the New York subway system to whisper, “The date behind us is going down in flames!”

Hey. It’s how I make my living, pal.

piggybackAt any rate, as the veteran of many Harriet the Spy/Dating Editions, I have some advice for you young people, you hipsters, you kids, you. This comes from the (cough) vast wisdom of one or two relationships that ended a tortuous, agonizing, drawn out manner; a subsequent bolt of lightning kind of meeting resulting in a six-week courtship and 25 subsequent years of happy marriage; and fifteen years spent as a writer thinking about lurve. This advice is for you, my dear fellow women. Yes, just women, because who knows what guys are thinking? Probably about how great the subway system is.

Stop trying so hard to make a guy like you. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to present your best self. It means you are not a product to be sold. If he likes you, you’ll feel it. If he doesn’t, it’s not your job to change his mind. You have many lovely qualities, sweetheart. If he doesn’t see them, move along.

“Let me tell you about my ex.”

Stop talking about your past relationships so much. Save this for…oh, let’s say your tenth date, okay? Not the first! If I were a guy trying to see if I liked a woman, I wouldn’t want to hear about how her ex failed her, lied to her, disappointed her. In fact, I would imagine this guy’s testicles would be shriveling as you detailed the shortcomings of your ex, and/or he’d thinking about a beautiful subway system somewhere.

Don’t try to control the conversation. This includes things like interrupting, speechifying and dismissing. Sure, you have many thoughts to share, but this is not the You Show, starring You. This is a date. You’re exchanging words, not just delivering them. Of course you are smart and passionate, but…come on. I overheard one guy say that he thought Breaking Bad was the best show ever (I concur). His date’s response: “Clearly. We don’t even have to discuss it, it’s so obvious. Next.” Sweetie? He wanted to discuss it. Why’d you have to be so rude?

Don’t waste your time. If the guy says something that’s truly offensive (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.), tell him you don’t wish to spend more time with him and leave. Don’t worry about being nice to a person who is, let’s be blunt, an ass-hat.

Don’t sleep with someone on the first date. I know, I know. It’s 2017 and you’re a powerful woman who’s fully embraced her sexuality, but you’re looking for a spouse, remember? Not a human vibrator. Show this guy that you’re worthy of an investment of time and thought. Remember, you want relationship, not a hook-up.

Be open to the people who might not seem like your type at first glance. Talk to the guy before you meet. Don’t rely on texts or messages. Use those vocal chords. Skype or FaceTime, even! You may quickly realize that this is a nonstarter (see #4). Good for you! You didn’t waste your time!

love-382533_640Or, you might find that even though he prefers cats to dogs and didn’t care for Breaking Bad (freaky, but not sociopathic), he might be charming and interesting in his own way. I never thought I’d marry a blue-collar guy who was younger than I am, didn’t go to college and—horrors—STILL is unsure about the proper usage of the words went and gone.

But I love him like crazy just the same.

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Tales from the marital bed

Not those tales. Please.

I don't think I have this brand. Quick, let me go to Sephora!

I don’t think I have this brand. Not yet, anyway.

Like many couples, McIrish and I have our bedtime rituals. His involves brushing his teeth, then getting into bed and lying down. Mine involves brushing my teeth, taking my weird neurologic medications, putting the last glasses in the dishwasher, because if I were to die, those glasses would stay on the counter into perpetuity. Then I wash my face with whatever miracle product I’ve bought that week; moisturize—no, I’m sorry, apply elixir, THEN moisturize, then maybe smear on another miracle product or two.

hotel-room-1447201_640Thus—glowing—I venture into the icy cold bedroom. We sleep with the windows open because we are hardy Yankees, thank you very much. This doesn’t keep me from complaining about the frigid floors and yelping about my poor chilly feet. I then get into bed, tell McIrish to move over and make room for Huggy Pillow and me. I fix the blankets perfectly so they come up to my chin and no further.

“All set?” McIrish asks.

“Yes,” I say, then remember that I didn’t apply hand cream. I get out of bed and smear my hands with cream, then get back into bed.

“All set?” my sainted husband asks again.

“Yes. Except can you tuck in the covers so the cold doesn’t get me?”

He does. He turns out the light.

“I think I have a brain tumor,” I say. “That, or I’m suffering from nervous exhaustion. At any rate, I need some anesthesia and a nice long coma.”

McIrish at rest.

McIrish at rest, more or less.

“Okay. Good night.” He falls asleep instantly, which irritates me, because I’m planning my funeral and /or lengthy hospitalization. So I do my magic trick (don’t tell him). I touch his foot with just one frigid little toe. He jolts awake.

“What?” he says.

“What?” I answer, all innocent and adorable. “Wanna cuddle?”

polar-bear-196318_640McIrish is not a cuddler. I am. This means I snuggle next to him, and he moves away, and I snuggle closer because I’m so cold, and he inches away, and I snuggle closer, certain that my death from hypothermia is imminent, and he inches away.

I snuggle closer—I always win this game—then fall into vivid dreams of Robert Downey Jr. or Meryl Streep or tidal waves and sharks, which I generously narrate for him.

It’s never boring. Is it restful? Not really, but so far, so good! Twenty-five years and counting.

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Gettin’ hygge with it

 

As you may know, the Princess is spending this semester in Denmark, allegedly home to the happiest people on earth. The Princess concurs. “Everyone is so smiley here, even at the grocery store!” she reported. Denmark has also given us a word I’ve seen more and more these days—hygge, pronounced hoogeh (or something like that).

We are no stranger to these bunnies.

We are no stranger to these bunnies.

Hygge is the art of coziness. That’s a thing! Don’t you just love Denmark already? It seems I must have Danish blood flowing through my veins, because I am gifted in the art of cozy. Ask my kids about being sick. They loved being sick, because I would tuck them in with supersoft blankets, assemble many stuffed animals, and serve them cinnamon toast on a silver tray, cloth napkin and flower in vase. It’s a wonder they ever recovered.

Candles are a big part of hygge, and I love candles! I love them! Especially the smelly-good kind (also known as scented, but I think smelly-good is more hygge, don’t you?). Citrus candles are my favorite.

Just this very morning (fine, fine...afternoon).

Just this very morning (fine, fine…afternoon).

Comfy chairs for reading are the essence of hygge. And please. Comfy chairs is practically my middle name. Delicious coffee is also hygge, or any hot drink. I’m in! Scarves (see photo!) and socks are oft-mention hygge elements. I think we all know I’m a master in sock-ownership.

Mostly, hygge is a way for the Danes to make their long, dark winters a season to cherish, rather than dread. For those of us who get the blues during the winter, I say let’s hygge together.

Wishing you a very cozy, fragrant, comfy, happy hygge, my friends.

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The joys of middle age

Me and Mr. Muir, my hero.

Me and Mr. Muir, my hero.

There are those among my friends who hate getting older. “Wouldn’t you kill to be 20 again?” one of my pals has a habit of asking.

Hell’s to the NO.

After two weeks of being on book tour, I have proven that I was meant to be a 50-year old. When my book tour ended, I gave a class to a writers group here in San Francisco, and then rented a little tiny apartment in Pacific Heights to wait out the week until today, when a girl I’ve known since she was born is getting married. For the first two days, I sat on the very comfortable couch and wrote. I don’t think I got out of my jammies. If I had a FitBit, it would have been quite irritated with me.

Oooh! Pretty! Let me take 14 pictures of it!

Oooh! Pretty! Let me take 14 pictures of it!

I think my patronus is a slightly creaky cat who enjoys naps, sunshine and walks through gardens. McIrish, too, has the heart of senior citizen. His last name means “Little Old One” in Irish, as a matter of fact. We’ve spent our time in San Francisco walking hand-in-hand through Muir Woods, Golden Gate Park, the Botanical Gardens.

We have purchased no marijuana. We have been to zero jazz clubs. I don’t think we’ve made it past midnight yet. We assessed one restaurant as being too loud. It rained a lot the other day, and we went to Grace Cathedral and walked their labyrinth. It was fun! Our priorities have been the timing of meals so we can eat a lot, since SF is a city of great food.

 

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This was about as wild as we got. McIrish looks good in a kilt, don’t you think?

We love to window-shop. McIrish bought a button-down shirt. Crazy, I know. Today, he plans to ride the cable cars while I write (or nap). The wedding is tonight. I will cry, of course, and remember that beautiful little girl whose mommy used to bring her to visit me at work, the little girl I used to babysit. Her mom and I have stayed very close all these years—we met at my very first job out of college. She was at my wedding, in fact.

You can see I’m getting lost in memories, as one does when one has the soul of a great-great-grandmother. Hey.

I wouldn’t trade my trick knee for being 20 again with a gun to the back of my head. These are happy times. Happy, happy times.

 

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Thank you!

This week’s blog is devoted to you, my lovely readers, who have been so wonderful and welcoming as I’m trotting around the country on book tour, and to all of you who’ve sent me notes about ON SECOND THOUGHT. My heart is very full and happy! Hope to see more of you this week! xox

 

This little guy came with his mom from Illinois to Nashville, and he brought the little doggy statue I gave him a couple of years ago. Such a sweetie pie!

This little guy came with his mom from Illinois to Nashville, and he brought the little doggy statue I gave him a couple of years ago. Such a sweetie pie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This lovely lady has been my friend on Facebook for years, but we've never been able to meet...until she drove 8 hours to come to a signing!

This lovely lady has been my friend on Facebook for years, but we’ve never been able to meet…until she drove 8 hours to come to a signing!

 

Anyone who wears bunny ears to a book signing is my kind of person.

Anyone who wears bunny ears to a book signing is my kind of person.

 

You can tell Kiersten is no fun at all.

You can tell Kiersten is no fun at all.

 

Look at these folks! Amazing! Thanks for standing in line to see Kristen Ashley, Lori Foster, Laura Griffin, myself and the Queen of Romance, Nora Roberts. You honor us with your time!

Look at these folks! Amazing! Thanks for standing in line to see Kristen Ashley, Lori Foster, Laura Griffin, myself and the Queen of Romance, Nora Roberts. You honor us with your time!

 

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The glamour of air travel!

 

Sure. This happens.

Sure. This happens.

I’m going on book tour this week, guys! Got my outfits mostly picked out, got my itinerary printed, have checked the weather in all the cities I’ll be visiting, have little giveaways for the readers who come out to see me.

In the meantime, though, I thought I’d give you some of the highlights of my journeys so far…

That time the guy fell asleep on my shoulder and drooled on me.

A must-have. Or not.

A must-have. Or not.

That time I heard someone snoring, jolted awake and said, “Who’s snoring?” and then realized it was me.

That time I was so tired in the Seattle airport that I put a note on my coat that said, “Please make sure I board this flight” and fell asleep.

That time I entertained a baby for three full hours and the parents told me I was a saint (it’s true! but only where babies are concerned).

That time I wrote a sad scene and started crying, then had to explain to my seat-mate that I was an author and this was normal. She side-eyed me the rest of the flight.

yummyThat first time I was stuck in Atlanta in front of Popeye’s Chicken, broke down, assumed their chicken pieces were akin to McNuggets and ordered seven, only to find out I had enough food for a football team.

That time I was in the bathroom (bad enough) and we hit really bad turbulence and I thought I was going to die with my pants down, and that’s how my family would have to remember me.

That time I had a panic attack and the flight attendant ignored me but a doctor came over to help (United Airlines, I still hate you, for the record).

That time my coat got caught on the baggage carousel conveyor belt and I had to trot along till I pulled it out.

Why, hello there.

Why, hello there.

That time I thought I saw Jason Bateman in a wine bar and kept staring at him and smiling until he moved.

Hope to see you at one of my stops! The full details are on my website (www.kristanhiggins.com/appearances) and on my Facebook page under events. I’ll be sure to post more adventures as I hop and bop across the beautiful United States.

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Love in the time of flu season

 

escargots-243303_640Note to my children: Stop reading here.

A little hint about ON SECOND THOUGHT here… I really loved writing certain scenes that (cough) involved (cough) sexy time. While I’m as game as anyone for the “not quite perfect” scenes—I always get a little giggly when the stars collide, blindness occurs, headboards break and people shatter—I do want to feel a certain tingly sensation when reading about sexy time.

Which brings me to my own life.

When in doubt, insert picture of a chicken.

When in doubt, insert picture of a chicken.

It’s winter. We’re in New England. It could very well be that in a certain writer’s house, pillow talk has degraded to something like the following.

“Hang on, I have to cough.”

“Don’t kiss me above the collarbone. I may have consumption.”

“Hang on, I have to cough again.”

What? We're hardly destroying anything!

What? We’re hardly destroying anything!

“Dogs! Knock it off!”

“Hold on, hold on, let me take a hit of my inhaler and we can get back to this.”

“One sec, I have to cough.”

“Oh, jeesh, the cat again. He’s such a pervert. Get out, Huck!”

“I haven’t shaved my legs in 2017. Sorry.”

“My lungs are squeaking. Are my lips blue? Not yet? Good. Carry on!”

Props to my husband for thinking an unshowered, bed-headed, not entirely healthy middle-aged woman is worth the effort.

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The thrill of ill

You're doing it right, kid.

You’re doing it right, kid.

When I was a kid, being sick was so much fun! For one, you got to stay home when your siblings had to go to school. Ha! For two, no chores. For three, Dad might bring you home a little prize—a bookmark or a keychain or some giant paper clips from work.

During the day, you’d lie on the couch, and Mom would let you watch game shows as she folded laundry. Then she’d stir up some Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut in half diagonally to show that this was a special day, and what was nicer than that?

See how happy this bear is? Same with me.

See how happy this bear is? Same with me.

That being said, I had to be really, really sick to stay home from school. Fevers had to be above 101, and puking the night before guaranteed you nothing. Earaches, colds, sore throats, runny noses, cough…please. Mom never got sick, crediting her “100% Hungarian blood,” so we halflings and our imperfect immune systems irritated her. I can still hear her disappointed sigh every time the doctor said, “Yep, it’s strep.”

She was quite sympathetic if we were, in fact, projectile vomiting or delirious with a high fever. It was the “I don’t feel good” complaints that irked her. Being under the weather was not something her strong Hungarian stock tolerated. My dad, on the other hand, introduced me to the concept of catching a chill, something I have lovingly succumbed to many times ever since.

All my dolls got very, very sick all the time. Telling, don't you think?

All my dolls got very, very sick all the time. Telling, don’t you think?

My brother and sister were better at convincing Mom of their illnesses than I was (alas); my brother could do the “scratchy throat” voice to perfection, and my sister was a fae little creature, unlike my strapping farm-girl self. So if I wanted to stay home, I had to go to the more indulgent parent, the one who was a hypochondriac himself.

The trick was to catch Dad early, since he left for work at the crack of dawn. I’d lie in bed, waiting, waiting…“Daddy,” I’d say weakly the second I heard his footsteps, “I don’t feel so good. I don’t think I can go to school.” (Note to children everywhere: Daddy always works better than Dad.)

article-campbell-1110His sympathy was instant. A paternal kiss on the forehead, a rearrangement of the blankets, the promise of a prize when he got home, and bam! I was all set. My mother’s expression would be less than pleased. Oh, she knew! She knew I could’ve made it through the school day! She could tell by my smug smile as my daddy left for work. “So it’s you and me,” she might sigh, giving in to her middle child’s endless need for nurturing. And the good times, as the saying goes, would roll.

Thanks for putting up with me, Mom! By the way, I have bronchitis. Think you could heat up some soup?

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