Finally!

Well, after an unexpected delay that I still don’t understand, My Mirror Lies to Me is finally available on Amazon — only nine days later than the date I had promised. Better late than never, right?

Just to give you a little taste, I’m sharing a small sample of my new book. If you enjoy the sample, you can read the rest through Kindle Unlimited or buy it here for only $2.99.

My Mirror Lies to Me

My Aunt Marian always told people that when I was a small child I would wake up from naps, blink a few times, and say, “…and, um–” before launching into a story of some sort.

I’ve always been a talker. A storyteller. Most of my stories are true, or at the very least possess a small kernel of truth somewhere in either the exposition or fine details. What can I say? I like to make people smile. Maybe even make them laugh out loud. If I can make them laugh so hard they pee, that’s just a bonus.

“Amy stories” have prompted a lot of eye-rolling and grimacing over the years, along with polite suggestions that I write them down in a book someday. Suggestions which, let’s be honest, are less about encouraging me to share my tales than about asking me to please, for the love of God, shut up for five minutes.

“I know, Mom,” my kids will groan. “You’ve told this one, like, a thousand times.”

“Is this another one about your aunts? Yes, I’ve heard them all before,” a more polite co-worker might say. “You should really write a book, you know.”

I used to get embarrassed or offended when people said things like that. Now? Now, I just nod and smile and probably tell yet another story, perhaps about a time when I embarrassed myself by talking too much.

Like the time my soft-spoken, very intelligent sister took me to hear one of her favorite authors speak. She is the quintessential big sister, one of the most organized and efficient people I have ever met. On that particular night, she took care of everything, from getting the tickets to arranging a babysitter to driving us to the theater. In return, she asked for only one thing from me.

“Please let me go ahead of you in the line to meet him,” she asked. “Let me talk to him first and get his autograph. Please?”

Of course I agreed. In spirit, anyway. But as my sister, she should have known she was asking the impossible.

Several moments later, we stood at the table, looking down at David Sedaris. And let me just say here that he was an amiable gentleman who seemed to go out of his way to greet his fans in a friendly, conversational manner. He was all about putting us at ease. Just a very normal, ordinary, approachable man.

And luck was on our side that night. Out of all the people in that line, he turned to my sister with a very simple question.

“Where’s a good place around here to go for breakfast?”

She knew the answer. She knew that town inside and out, was familiar with most of the businesses. It was her job to know the answers to questions like that as part of her daily 9-5. She was perhaps the single best person in that room that he could have chosen for that question.

And what did she do?

She went full goldfish on him.

She blinked. She opened her mouth and closed it. And again. She gaped at him and blinked some more.

“Maybe a Denny’s?” he ventured.

Now, I’m told that I behaved in a perfectly composed and normal manner after that, but that’s not how I remember it. I remember shoving my dog-eared copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day in front of him and babbling something about never looking at Great Danes the same way again.

My sister says he laughed. If there’s any truth to that, then I can die happily any time now, content in the knowledge that I once made David Sedaris laugh.

Have you ever shaken up a bottle of Diet Coke and then released the built-up pressure? That’s exactly what happens to my words when I try to hold them inside and behave myself. And it’s what happened that night, standing in front of David Sedaris.

The dam burst. I babbled. I giggled. I chattered like an idiot. Once I start, I don’t have an “off” switch.

Of course, Mr. Sedaris was very gracious about it. I can only assume someone got him some food at some point after we left. I’ll never know for sure, because my sister and I turned and fled, laughing like idiots.

That’s what My Mirror Lies to Me is all about: Finding the “funny” in an otherwise mortifying moment. Looking at myself and seeing only the best that I have to offer to the world. Instead of seeing a double chin or close-set eyes and a mouth that runs too much, I want to see a woman who is capable of always looking for the good where others see flaws.

If I’ve learned anything about life, it’s that it’s too short to waste time dwelling on the negative stuff. I always want to look past the lies my mirror tells me. I want to enjoy telling “Amy stories” that make people laugh. If I can make a few people pee or spray coffee out their noses, then I’ve done my job.

And David Sedaris, if you ever happen to read this book, the Kalamazoo Denny’s is on Cork Street, just off Sprinkle Road near I-94. Tell them A.J. and the Goldfish sent you.

 

 

 

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Cover Reveal: My Mirror Lies to Me

I am so excited to be able to announce that my newest book, My Mirror Lies to Me, is on schedule to be released on Friday, September 29. Just to get everyone out there as excited as I am, I want to share the cover with all of you.

White frame on the wall

Isn’t that great? Special thanks to my friend and fellow author Margaret Brazear for creating this fun cover.

This book is the next logical step for me after Faster Than a Whippoorwill’s Ass and Fat, Fifty, and Menopausal. Like those books, it is a collection of humorous essays on life as a middle-aged, overweight, slightly delusional single mother, just trying to keep the focus on the funny side of life.

This time around, there’s a bit more swearing and a lot more exasperation. Maybe even a touch of anger here and there. The Amoeba Squad makes an appearance again, along with The Big Guy, The Princess, The Dark Prince, and Little Man, all of whom have resigned themselves to the fact that I am going to continue mentioning them in my books.

I had an absolute blast writing this one, and I can only hope you all have just as much fun reading it. It’s currently in the hands of an editor and a couple of beta readers, but there just may be a sneak peek or two ready to show off here at some point in the next two weeks before the book is released.

In the meantime, thanks again to everyone for all of the support and encouragement that keep me writing.

Updates

Well, summer is almost over and it feels as though I’ve accomplished nothing. I’ve barely blogged at all, and my son and I never managed to make it to the zoo this summer. I only went swimming once, which is really unusual for me.

My older kids are heading back to college in a few days, while my youngest is preparing himself for the fourth grade. He’s worried because some of his best friends are going to be in the other fourth grade classroom, but he’s also happy that he got the teacher he had hoped for. And he’s also thrilled because he knows that fourth graders at his school get to go on the school’s most talked-about field trip in the spring: a day at the dunes in Saugatuck.

As for me, I made the monumental mistake of trying to work on two books simultaneously over the summer. Both are nearly complete and almost on schedule for their planned release dates at the end of September, but I never ever want to do this to myself again. Sure, My Mirror Lies to Me has been fun to write, and Love, Charlotte has veered off in directions I never anticipated, but my brain feels slightly fried.

However, I did manage to accomplish a few things this summer that had nothing to do with those two books, and I want to bring everyone up to date.

First of all, I want to let all of you know that Her House Divided is now available on Audible.com as an audiobook. I was lucky enough to be able to work with Wendy Almeida, who does a fabulous job of bringing my story to life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Audible offers a free trial of their service, including a credit to read any book of your choice at no cost. To learn more about Audible, click here.

This summer, I also combined the three books in my Beach Haven series (plus the short prequel) into a single volume at a money-saving cost of only $5.99.

And of course, as I mentioned before, I also took time this summer to revamp and re-release Have a Goode One as Faster Than a Whippoorwill’s Ass, and I’ve been very happy with the results of that. If you enjoyed that book, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of My Mirror Lies to Me when it is released next month.

In short, it’s been a very busy summer here in Michigan, and I hope you’ll all forgive me for letting things slide on my blog for the past few months. I promise lots of good things coming in the near future!

Until then, I wish everyone a very happy autumn with a smooth and calm back-to-school time.

 

The Loves of the Lionheart

I don’t often have guest bloggers here at A Goode One, but today I am honored to share a post by author Margaret Brazear, whose specialty is historical fiction. 

Margaret is not only a wonderful writer, but also an outspoken and determined supporter of her fellow authors. Her books are always a pleasure to read. I am truly honored to have her stop by here to talk about her newest book, The Loves of the Lionheart.

Take it away, Margaret! 

 

lion

History’s Forgotten Princesses

This is a novel I have wanted to write for some time, since I became interested in the Queen of Richard the Lionheart. She was the only Queen of England who never set foot in the country and I found her a fascinating subject. However, as I got involved in the research for Queen Berengaria, in relation to Richard, I thought his first serious love interest, Princess Alys of France, deserved a mention.

Alys turned out to be a very interesting character, a sympathetic character, although very little is known about her. In fact, very little is known about either of these princesses, and I hope I have done them justice. I have studied many chronicles of the time, a lot of which contradict each other, but none of them really describe the thoughts and feelings of these two young women, especially Alys, who I feel was exploited and much maligned.

Anyway, this has been a new venture for me, to write about real people instead of fictional ones, to know where the story has to go because it is history, it has happened. I do hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

It is available from today in both kindle and paperback versions. The kindle version will be on special offer for this week only.

As always, thank you all for your continuing support.

 

AJ speaking up again here: If you read my blog and are interested in contributing a guest post, please contact me at authorajgoode@gmail.com. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Whippoorwill

Hey, everybody!

As some of you know, I put together a bunch of my earliest funny blog posts in a book called Have a Goode One a few years ago.  It wasn’t a great title and I knew nothing about making a good book cover, and it basically sank to the bottom of Amazon’s rankings. The nineteen people who bought it seemed to enjoy it, though.

However, I’m still very proud of the material, so I decided to give it another chance. I’ve re-vamped it with a new title, a better cover, and a little bit of rearranging of the essays on the inside.

For those of you who already own this one, a hearty “thank you!” I’m working hard to convince Amazon to “push” the new version out to you, and I promise to keep you all updated on that. But I really want to make sure that you know this is not a new book. I don’t want to trick anyone into buying something they already own!

For the rest of you, Faster Than a Whippoorwill’s Ass is now available. It focuses mainly on parenting, marriage, and country life, with a few other topics thrown in just for snicks. It’s a little bit naughty in spots, and I freely admit to just a bit of profanity here and there, but it was an awful lot of fun to write. I hope you all have just as much fun reading it.

The new cover was designed by my friend and fellow author Margaret Brazear.

 

whipkdpcover

Homecoming

It’s been a busy week, typical of summer around here, when I worked too many hours and had a chance to see friends I haven’t seen in too long. I had fun picking blueberries with my little boy and making plans for blueberry waffles for supper tonight; I tried to figure out Instagram and even picked up a celebrity follower on Twitter. But the biggest part of my week was the part where I learned something really important about myself and the town I’ve adopted as my own.

As usual with me, there is a story.

A long time ago, back before my earliest memory, my grandfather bought an antique Estey pump organ at an auction. He paid to have it restored and then proceeded to die a few short years later, leaving the organ–along with most of his treasured antiques– to my mother.

organ

Mom hated that thing. It had to be babied, always displayed against an inside wall. It took up too much space in the tiny living room of our little house, but she couldn’t get rid of it. I remember watching her play it a few times, her entire body in motion as she worked both pedals with her feet while her fingers danced along the yellowed keys.

I was twenty-one when Mom died, and for some inexplicable reason she insisted to her dying day that I should be the one to inherit the organ. No one knows why she would do such a thing to me. I am tone deaf while both of my sisters posses at least a modicum of musical talent, but Mom really wanted that thing to go to the one daughter with no ability to ever get any enjoyment out of it.

I hate it almost as much as mom did. It spent most of my married life against an inside wall in our entryway, covered with an old sheet except at Christmas time, when it was the perfect place to display the Nativity set. I tried to play it for my kids a few times, pounding out painful versions of “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul” and counting it as a cardio workout because I got really winded working the pedals.

My ex-husband agreed to store it for me when we split because there is just no room for it in my tiny apartment. Last fall, he came up with the brilliant idea of donating it to the local historical society for display in our little museum. “After all,” he said, “your grandpa lived here for a long time, and your mom grew up here. The organ’s got a connection to this town, right?”

I was on board with the idea, but it took months to set things in motion. I had to fill out the proper paperwork to ensure that it will be regarded as a gift and not a long-term loan. I had to clear things with my family members to make sure no one else wanted it. And I had to make sure I was ready to let it go.

I thought I was ready.

In the process of donating that stupid old organ, I ended up joining the historical association. Since my Brides of Serenity series is set in this general area, I am having far too much fun learning about the original settlers and discovering the rich history of my adopted home town. And it’s been a true joy getting to meet people who say things like, “Oh, you’re Kay’s daughter? Let me tell you a story about her” or “I remember when your grandmother worked at the grocery store.”

Yesterday, my ex and his brother loaded up the old organ and brought it up to the museum. It needs a little work after all these years of neglect, but it’s going to be part of a “musical parlor display” at some point. There will be a card next to it with the names of my grandparents and Mom and even me.

Then we all shook hands and I took my paperwork in hand and everything was wonderful. Mission accomplished. Clutter cleared. Grandpa’s treasure deposited in the perfect place. And no emotional attachment whatsoever. No regrets. No sadness. Just a sense of relief, a weight off my shoulders now that I am no longer responsible for that stupid old organ.

And then, damn him, my ex spoke up just as we got into our separate cars to leave. “The organ’s home now, isn’t it?” he said. “I think your grandpa would be happy.”

Damn it. He made me think about it. He made me feel.

Grandpa died just a few days before my sixth birthday. I really never gave a thought as to whether or not he would have cared what happened to the organ. I barely remember him as anything more than a small, darkly handsome man with sharp cheekbones and a pencil mustache. I remember learning the word “debonair” and knowing immediately that it was the perfect way to describe him.

Grandma is a different story. I have more memories of her, but most of them aren’t pleasant. She moved to Arkansas not long after Grandpa died, and I only saw her a handful of times after that. She sent a Christmas box every year and came up for everyone else’s graduation but mine, and she did her best to pick fights with my father’s sisters at Mom’s funeral. Then she and her remaining daughters returned to Arkansas with most of Grandpa’s antiques that had been in Mom’s care for so long.

And Mom? Mom’s been gone from my life longer than she was in it. I miss her every single day.

I ended up in their town by sheer coincidence, and somehow I ended up staying here. I fit here. My oldest kids graduated from this school, the same one that their grandmother, great-uncle, and two great-aunts graduated from. My youngest will also finish school here. I know my neighbors and I even like most of them; we all know everyone’s business whether we want to or not. People here know me as Kay’s daughter, Guy and Marie’s granddaughter. But they also know me as the mother of the Princess, the Dark Prince, and the Little Guy.

They know me.

While I like to believe that my donating the organ to the museum would have made Grandpa and Mom happy, it really doesn’t matter. It makes me happy; it gives me peace. I’ve finally accepted the fact that it doesn’t matter whether my life choices would have appeased those who are no more than memories in my life, because it is just that: my life.

My ex was right. The organ is home now, where it belongs, and so am I.

 

Letting Go

I believe in ghosts.

Let’s just get that out of the way before I go any further with the story I want to tell today.

I don’t necessarily believe in all kinds of ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night, but I’ve seen and heard too many things that just can’t be explained for me to be a total skeptic. As good ol’ Billy Shakespeare said, “There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

And with that out of the way, let’s move on with the story.

When The Big Guy and I bought our big old house in the country, we joked about it being haunted, but there was never any reason to treat that as anything more than a joke for about the first four years. Then, something changed. We’d see the curtain flicker in the kids’ bedroom when we pulled up in the driveway, but the house was empty. We’d catch a glimpse of movement in an empty room, as though someone had just moved through it. Lights and appliances would suddenly turn themselves on with no explanation.

Nothing major. Just a few weird moments that gave us all the heebie-jeebies.

One night, I woke up from a strange dream and looked up to see her standing over my husband’s side of the bed. She was young and blonde, with big blue eyes, and she was just so sad. Waves of sadness rolled from her across our bed and hit me so hard that I couldn’t breathe. I wasn’t really afraid yet because I was still half-asleep, but the enormous weight of her deep and lingering sadness felt like it was crushing me. I couldn’t move or call out to my husband.

Then she looked over at me and smiled, and just like that she was gone. I could move — and you’d better believe I moved. Hauled ass out of the bed, down the hall to check on the kids, and back into the bedroom to wake up The Big Guy to see if he had noticed anything.

Of course, he hadn’t.

I dismissed the whole thing as a dream. A realistic and terrifying dream, but a dream nonetheless. Until it happened again.  And again. Over the course of the next few years, I saw her a total of seven times, always so sad at first and then smiling at me from the other side of the bed.

I started asking around town about the people who had lived in our house before us. As it turned out, there was indeed a young woman matching our ghost’s description who had spent a great deal of time there with her uncle. It sounded like she had a good childhood, but her adult life had been pretty rocky.

I’m going to call her Alice here, and I’ll skip a lot of the details that don’t really matter. It’s enough to say that she struggled as a mom and died much too young about four years after we bought the house from her uncle.

When I found a picture of Alice in an old yearbook at the library, I immediately knew that she was our ghost. And looking back, I realized that every one of her appearances in our house coincided with times that were difficult for the kids or me. I saw her shortly after both of my miscarriages; she showed up when my son had a bad case of Strep or when my daughter struggled with a bully at school.

I never actually saw Alice again after I identified her, but her presence lingered in the house. The TV would turn on in the middle of the night, and we’d come downstairs to find all of the lights on. A radio would suddenly blare out a favorite ’80’s song when no one was around to touch the dial. And always, there was that flash of movement, that presence glimpsed out of the corner of the eye.

Little things. Always when the kids or I were struggling with something. It was like she was watching over us.

She became really active after my car accident. Each night, The Big Guy would turn off the TV and the lights, help me up on my walker, and begin guiding me to the bedroom. About half-way there, the TV would come back on and the lights would start flashing, and I’d have to reassure her. “Alice, it’s okay,” I’d say. “I’m all right. I’m just going to bed.”

And she’d stop.

Years later, after my husband and I split, she made it clear that she didn’t approve. The Big Guy would wake up every so often to the sound of the TV blaring and kitchen cabinet doors banging, and nothing he said would calm her down. Every few months, he’d call me up and ask me to drop by to talk to “my friend” as he referred to her.

“Alice, honey,” I’d say, “Everybody’s okay. The kids are doing well, and I’m good. Could you please leave him alone?” And he’d be all right for the next few months.

It’s been a lot of years now since the first time I saw Alice. Our oldest kids are grown and away at college, and the youngest splits his time between his father’s house and mine. And Alice has become just something my ex has to deal with at his house, like a leaking faucet or a loose floorboard.

And then things changed again.

At the hotel where I work, a familiar-looking woman checked in late last night. She seemed stressed and a bit frazzled and overwhelmed. “I’m in town for my youngest niece’s graduation,” she explained. “It’s just really hard for me because her mom– my sister– died a long time ago. I miss her so much.”

She handed over her driver’s license and I gasped when I saw her last name. “Was your sister…Alice?” I asked. Ridiculous question; the woman looked almost exactly like our ghost.

She stared at me, nodding slowly.

“My ex-husband and I bought Floyd’s house,” I told her.

“She always loved it there. She adored Uncle Floyd. She was always his favorite,” Alice’s sister told me.

I told her everything then. How Alice watched over my kids and me over the years. How she had seemed to emanate sadness at first, but later became more mischievous and even peaceful in her own way.  I worried that I might offend her, that she might feel that I was disrespecting her sister’s memory, but she squeezed my hand and thanked me for letting her know that Alice had been at peace with a family to watch over.

I cried all the way home from work last night. For Alice, for her children, for her sister. For all of the moments, good and bad, that both Alice and I have been through in a house that no longer belongs to either one of us.

I feel like I’ve lost someone.

Because I don’t think we’ll hear from her any more. I’m going to pay a visit to my ex-husband’s house today, and I plan on telling Alice that I met her sister. I’ll tell her that her kids have all grown up just fine and they’ve finished school. I’ll thank her for watching over my kids and me all these years. And then I’m going to tell her that she was a good mom, and it’s okay to let go now.

Because I understand how hard it is to let go and move on.

Rest in peace, Alice. You deserve it.

 

 

The Letter

I think we’ve all heard that old advice about writing letters that express our deepest feelings, only to dispose of the letters without actually sending them. It’s supposed to be a great way to vent, like the time my friend wrote a three-page missive to her husband about his peculiar habits involving dirty socks.

Now, I adore my friend and her husband, so I’m not going to go into any further details  about what he does in his alone-time with his socks or why it is that they are always dirty. Let’s just say that my friend should have actually disposed of the letter rather than just hiding it, because they were both baffled when he discovered it and read it nearly three years after she penned it.

At any rate, I recently wrote a similar letter after a bad day at work. I really blew off a lot of steam and got rid of some extreme anger as I pounded away at the keys, and I just couldn’t force myself to hit the delete key when I was done.

So, I changed a few detail to…ah… protect the innocent. Yeah, that’s it. I’m protecting an innocent delivery man who really pissed me off.

Or maybe I’m just protecting myself in case any of my supervisors happen to subscribe to my blog.

Either way, here’s the letter I wrote and will never ever send.

Dear ——,

As requested by my employer, I am contacting you in regards to the unfortunate conversation that took place between you and me at my place of employment this past Friday.

I apologize for the harsh words I spoke in reply to your repeated questions regarding our company policies as well as my level of competence. I really should have been more clear in my own repeated description of myself as “low man on the totem pole” and “bottom of the food chain” as I continuously suggested that you slow your tirade long enough for me to contact a supervisor who could have answered your questions before things spiraled out of control.

In my defense, my suggestion that followed was really a recommendation rather than a direct order or a personal request.

On a personal note, yes, I do realize that as a woman I do not possess testicles, and therefore it would not be possible for you to comply with my suggestion that you “suck my balls.” Again, it was really more of a general suggestion than a serious request. Given the rapidly escalating tension of our conversation, I assumed that you would understand that I spoke more from an emotional standpoint than one based on any kind of anatomical accuracy.

Also on a personal note, I would like to clarify that I do not know your mother, and my suggestion of an unnatural physical relationship between the two of you was totally out of line. As per my employer’s request, I would like to offer my most heartfelt apology for my use of the term that implied such a relationship. I am sure your mother is a fine and upstanding woman whose only real mistake was not raising you to be a better human being.

Unfortunately, I no longer fully remember the exact adjectives I used leading up to my use of that particularly offensive choice of compound words. Therefore, I am unable to apologize for each specific one on its own. Suffice it to say that, as a writer, I am in full possession of an extensive vocabulary, and I realize that I may have crossed a line.

I should also probably say I’m sorry for those adjectives that I further used to describe what I assumed must be the actual size of your penis. Having never seen your penis—and having no desire to do so—I can only guess that your obvious dislike of and unpleasant attitude toward women must be due to your having a phenomenally small dick that makes you act like a big one.

Please be assured that you and your tiny dick have my deepest sympathies for your struggles.

In the future, I sincerely hope that your employer makes an effort to assign you to clients whose employees are predominantly male. Under those conditions, your chauvinistic attitude and tendency to describe woman as female members of the canine species might be more acceptable. At the very least, those conditions should help you and your delicate sensitivities avoid being verbally assaulted by women like me with requests that you perform anatomically impossible acts.

In conclusion, I would like to take one final opportunity to express my most heartfelt regrets that the incident in question took place at my place of employment.

Best regards to you, your mother, and your tiny dick.

 

Paperback Writer

I wrote this post almost five years ago, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately because of some rather heated discussions taking place in a writing forum. I want to share it again because I am STILL proud to be a Romance writer.

A Goode One

Is it a bad thing to admit that I write romance novels?

I’ve read the classics.  I majored in English and have studied the works of everyone from Aristophanes to Baudelaire to Whitman and Tennyson.  I struggled through Hardy and Lawrence and earned a grudging respect for Hawthorne’s ability to fill multiple pages with one endless sentence that somehow remained grammatically correct (see how I did that?).  I can discuss Twain and Poe the way some people talk about this week’s bargains at Wal-Mart.

But sometimes . . .  I just want to feel good.

Romance novels are all about the guaranteed happy ending.  Real life can be a little short on those. Romance in the real world is less about roses and moonlit escapades, and more about figuring out whose turn it is to pick up the kids after school.  Real life marriages deal with adultery and abuse, debt and…

View original post 450 more words

Great Water

 

My ancestors came to Michigan as victims of a con artist who sold them “rich Michigan farmland” that turned out to be little more than pine trees and beach sand.  Despite that shaky start, I am proud to be a true Michigander, born and raised in this fabulous place, and I want to share a few lesser-known facts about our state with all of you.

First, the word Michigan means “great water.” That’s sort of a given, considering the fact that we are surrounded by lakes. Every child in this state learns around third grade how to remember the names of all five Great Lakes: HOMES. Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.  Lake Champlain was a Great Lake for brief time in 1998, but we Michiganders were quick to stifle that. I’m sure Lake Champlain is a great lake, but it’s not a Great Lake. 

I’d also like to point out that Michigan truly is shaped like a mitten. Some folks argue that Wisconsin is the mitten-shaped state, but those folks are just wrong. Plain and simple. Unless your mittened hand has been mangled in a random wood-chipper incident, that is.

Any questions?

Those of us from Michigan never need a map to show anyone what part of the state we live in. We simply hold up a hand and point.

hand

Okay, sure, we’ve got that whole mutant-shark-dolphin thing going on up there in the U.P. but that’s a different subject.

And that brings me to another point. Here in Michigan, we don’t waste our time saying “Upper Peninsula.” We call it the U.P. Actually, those who live up there tend to call it “da U.P.” but I digress. Those hardy souls who live up there are called “Yoopers.” Not to be confused with the game they play called Euchre, which I believe was something our ancestors had to learn as a requirement for statehood.

Because the two parts of our state are joined by the Mackinac Bridge, Yoopers have been known to refer to those of us who live south of the bridge as “Trolls.” You know, as in “living under a bridge.”

By the way, tourists who visit Mackinac Island are known as “Fudgies” because Mackinac Island Fudge is a treat that should never be missed. Ever. Doesn’t matter if you buy it from Ryba’s or Murdick’s; just buy it. Buy a lot of it. And eat it quickly.

It’s that good.

And speaking of all things Mackinac, please don’t ever come to our fine state and pronounce it MackinACK. Oh, heavens no! It is pronounced MackinAW. MackinAW Island, MackinAW Bridge, MackinAW City.

(Just an aside here: What is wrong with people who pronounce our neighboring state as IlliNOIZE OR IlliNOICE? It’s IlliNOY, people. Hearing it pronounced that way grates on my nerves as much as hearing people saying they get books at the liBERRY.)

Another thing you should know before visiting our fine state is that we treat almost every minor illness with copious amounts of Vernor’s Ginger Ale.  Upset tummy? Vernor’s will fix it. Fever? Vernor’s will make it go away. Bad day at work? Vernor’s with a shot of whiskey will give you a whole new perspective. For a serious attitude adjustment, one can always try a delightful Vernor’s concoction known as a Naughty Gnome, but I wouldn’t recommend drinking more than one of these unless you are a 300-lb fullback with the constitution of a freight train.

We don’t drink soda here in Michigan. It’s called pop. And we often buy it at a “party store,” which is basically what everyone else in the world refers to as a “convenience store.”

When we drive, we have to learn to avoid deer, potholes, and the dreaded Michigan Left. Nearly everyone I know has managed to hit at least one deer in their lifetime. And the potholes are often the size of a small Volkswagon. There’s a pothole on my street right now that’s bigger than the kitchen in my apartment. As far as the Michigan Left is concerned, well, it’s sort of a convoluted go-straight-then-left-to-go-right kind of thing that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

And now that some genius city planners have tried to add those ridiculous roundabout things in the middle of roads for no apparent reason, I’m scared to death that I’m going to segue from a Michigan Left into a roundabout and end up spending eternity on some endless Moebius Strip circling the same series of potholes for all time.

That’s a big part of why I don’t drive much any more.

Michiganders also like to add a random “s” to end of words, making them possessive when it makes no sense to do so. Out of state visitors shop at Meijer and Kroger, but we go to Meijer’s and Kroger’s.

Most of all, we talk fast. Really fast. We like to cram as many words as we can into as few syllables as possible. In high school debate class, I once gave a twelve-minute speech in three minutes and twenty-two seconds. No one even blinked.

Probably because they didn’t have time.

We’re pretty tough here in Michigan. We have to be. We’ve got mosquitoes and deer flies and these horrible little biting things that no one has ever really seen. Hence their name: Noseeums. Original settlers in the area even had to worry about Malaria. We have bats and snakes and all sorts of slimy, nasty things to worry about. It’s not unusual to see a five foot long blue racer, and unfortunately even less unusual to see me wet myself when one slithers across my foot.

In this part of the state, we’ve got storms that gather strength as they roar across Lake Michigan. In the winter, they can dump snow on us by the foot, and in the summer, the thunderstorms can be pretty impressive. I grew up with a “tornado bag” packed and ready to grab on my way to the basement, just in case.

When I was married and lived in a house with a Michigan half-cellar, I refused to go into the basement when the tornado sirens went off. Those places are half-cellar, half-evil, and 100% horrific. I told my ex-husband and children that I’d rather go up with the house and hang out with Dorothy and Toto than go down there.

To give you an idea of just how powerful a Michigan storm can get, let me tell you about my niece, who lived in Seoul, South Korea, for three years. One morning, she woke up to discover that a storm had knocked out the power. She battled the raging wind and rain to get to work, only to find her stunned co-workers gaping at her in astonishment. “We can’t believe you made it to work in a typhoon!” they said.

“That was nothing,” my niece told them. “I grew up with Michigan thunderstorms.”

So if I haven’t scared you away, and if you’re feeling adventurous, please come visit my lovely state sometime. We’ve got Hell and Paradise, Iron Mountain and Motown, water as far as the eye can see. If you can’t find something to like in Michigan, it can only be because you’re not looking hard enough.