This is Us

Dear NBC,

How do you do it? Seriously, I want to know your secret. Did you gather together a group of the smartest scientists and doctors in the world and have them research the best ways to make people dissolve into a puddle of tears?  Because I want you to know that’s exactly what you manage to do to me every single Tuesday night …. without fail… never a miss … always. 

It’s gotten to the point where it’s now become a challenge for me.  You’ve made this my mission. It’s personal. I wake up on every Tuesday morning determined not to cry. I spend the whole day steeling myself against the emotional rollercoaster I am certain you will throw out at me, convinced that I will not shed a tear. I will be strong and immune to the triggers. I won’t fall for Kevin’s charm or Randall’s kind heart or Kate’s struggles. I will not be “Jack Pearsoned.”

Of course, that all goes out the window the minute nine o’clock rolls around and by nine fifty-nine, my vision is blurred and I’ve exhausted a whole box of tissues.  And yet it remains my absolute favorite television show like it is for millions of other viewers. And no, it’s not because I am a glutton for punishment or a sadist or like the taste of my salty tears.  It’s simply a testament to the incredible storytelling and the genuine characters that make up the show. I can, with certainty, identify with the issues that each character faces and the struggles they endure. I can relate to it as a mother, sister, daughter, and friend. I can see myself saying or doing the same things as the characters on the screen. And isn’t that what good storytelling is all about? What it’s supposed to do?  It makes no difference if it’s a television show or a book. The end game is still the same.

As an author, I try to tell a story that will entertain and connect with my readers.  I think all authors try to do that. My books are quite different than the drama of “This is Us” as my genre is romantic comedies meant to do the exact opposite of crying.  In fact, if you are crying while reading my books, I hope it’s because you are doubled over in laughter.  But regardless of the differences, when it comes down to it, it’s all about taking the reader on a journey (whether that journey ends in tears or laughter).

So next Tuesday, I will not fight it anymore. I will not steel myself. Instead, I will open my heart and give in to it. I will embrace the emotions and allow my favorite television show to take me on a journey.  I’ll just make sure to have two boxes of tissue next to me when they do!

Enjoy.

Erin

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I love a good belly laugh.  The kind that leaves me doubled over in pain  The kind of laughter where tears are streaming down my face and I can’t catch my breath.  I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences. We all have and we can probably recall exactly what prompted it too. For me, it was the first time I saw “My Cousin Vinny” in the movie theater. Maybe it’s because I’m a native New Yorker, but I identified with the characters in that movie and the hilarious situations depicted (if you’ve never seen it, please rent it, You won’t regret it). I can tell you I never laughed as much as I did than when I first watched Joe Pesci on the big screen and it was so cathartic, better than any therapy session I could have paid for and much cheaper too!  

Humor is my tonic. I think it’s true for a lot of people. I know that no matter what kind of a day I’m having, a good laugh will always make me feel better.  It’s the best remedy for anything that ails me.  A funny text from a friend can turn my mood completely around. Even my husband knows this and uses it against me (like Lex Luther uses kryptonite against Superman).  Whenever we have a fight, he somehow manages to crack a joke and I quickly forget why I was so angry at him in the first place.

Laughter is the reason why, I think, I’m so drawn to romantic comedies. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good love story and I will confess to swooning whenever I read a book with a devastatingly handsome and sexy leading man in the storyline. I sigh (like everyone else) when Noah kisses Allie in the pouring rain and scoops her up the stairs to his bedroom in “The Notebook” and I cheer when Harry finally gets together with Sally at the stroke of midnight. 

Love like that makes my heart beat faster. Love like that makes it all worthwhile.  It gives me faith that all is right with the world.  But give me love plus laughter and you have a fan for life. I certainly appreciate the brooding Fitzwilliam Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice.”  But I won’t lie. I would have loved Fitz from Pemberley, even more, had he made Lizzy laugh every once in a while. 

When I find that right combination of looks and humor in a man, I feel like I’ve struck gold. It’s like winning the Mega Millions jackpot (well, maybe not exactly) or finding my favorite pair of boots on clearance (cough, cough… Uggs.  Don’t judge me.  They are so comfy) or stepping on the scale to discover that all of my dieting and excruciatingly painful exercising has finally paid off (two pounds lost and counting).

So give me a gorgeous leading man who can make me laugh too and I’ve found the promised land!  Heck, give me an average looking man that can make me laugh and he’s a Greek god in my eyes. There’s nothing sexier to me than a sense of humor. In fact, that’s a must-have in all of my novels. If he can’t make me laugh, he can’t be in my book. It’s that simple. 

So tonight instead of watching a movie that makes my heart swell with love, I think I’ll rent one that leaves me gasping for breath, doubled over in pain with tears streaming down my face.  I think I’ll take a visit to Alabama with my favorite Brooklyn attorney and his hairdresser fiancee. After all, my biological clock is ticking here!

Dieting and Writing

 

I had a dreaded epiphany last week. Yes, you heard me right. I used the words “epiphany” and “dreaded” in the same sentence. Now, most people would consider an epiphany to be something positive. But not me. I call my epiphany dreaded because that’s exactly what it was. You see, last Monday, I woke up like every other day, and dragged my tired self into the shower.  Once I got out of the tub, I confronted a stark, ugly reality staring back at me from my full-length mirror. There was no denying it anymore. No excusing it. No ignoring it. I have apparently been wearing my “fuzzy food” googles for way too long. It seems my holiday binging (from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day) has finally caught up with me and I couldn’t avoid the undeniable, hard truth. I needed to lose weight … a lot of weight.  You see! I told you it was dreaded! 

The fact that summer’s bathing suit season is only a mere four months away is causing me massive anxiety attacks. The thought of trying to squeeze into anything latex that highlights my problem areas like a flashing neon sign is making me sweat at night (and not of the menopausal kind). It seems that writing all day while sitting on my squishy behind has certainly not helped my cause. In fact, it’s made it worse. So I decided right then and there, while pointing an accusatory finger at my much fuller self in the mirror, that I would get up off of my very comfortable chair (did I mention it has lumbar support?) and do something about my “junk in the trunk.”

I knew the only way to start my quest was to do my research. Any good writer worth her weight in gold (no pun intended) knows that it all starts with research. In trying to find the perfect combo of dieting and exercising, I came across the idea of carb cycling. It immediately grabbed my attention and I was excited at first. Finally, a diet I could stick to! Imagine, eating spaghetti or munching on a loaf of french baguette while peddling miles away on a stationary bike.  Now that’s my kind of weight-loss program. Where do I sign up?  But after I did a little more digging, I found out what carb cycling is really all about. Poof went my vision of stuffing my face with pastries while running. I knew it was too good to be true.  What carb cycling involves is a system of rotating or cycling the carbs you eat over the course of several weeks.  Now what is the fun in that, I tell you. But I decided to give it a try, along with a moderate exercise regime. I set a goal to lose weight and I was not going to back down.

Five days in and I can tell you it’s been hard to stay on track! I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about quitting. In fact, I think about it all the time: every second of every minute of every day. I desperately want to pack it all in and fling my diet out the window (along with my gym membership), especially when there are boxes of Girl Scouts cookies calling out my name from the kitchen counter. But I will not be swayed or tempted or cajoled.

Then it hit me. Dieting is a lot like writing. Now before you tell me otherwise. Let me explain. Taking an idea for a story and trying to put it on paper is very difficult. Starting a novel is hard work. It takes a lot of self-discipline like losing weight does. I’ve often found myself staring at a blank computer screen waiting for inspiration to hit me.  Like dieting, it’s so easy to be distracted away from doing what you set out to do (I have a love/hate relationship with the internet like I do with my food). But I find once I get going and the words flow out, it’s exhilarating.  Exactly like when I step on my scale and see that I’ve lost a few pounds. At that moment, I feel like I can do anything!  It’s a natural high and it keeps you from giving up. 

So I vow to keep up with my quest to lose weight while bringing to life the idea for my next book. I’m cautiously optimistic that in a few months, I’ll have a smaller waist and a finished novel. If not, it’s back to carbs for me (without the cycling, thank you very much).

Erin