Cannon Fodder


Cannon Fodder

Author’s Note: There is a huge difference between being judgmental and not accepting someone’s bullshit.

For my entire writing career, I’ve had a lot of hard & fast rules. A list of “don’ts”, per se. I’ve stuck to those rules, and I’ll continue to stick to the ones that are genuinely important (Zero plagiarism is Rule #1, obviously.). However, in lieu of my upcoming anniversary this Spring, I’ve decided to throw the majority of those additional rules out a metaphorical moving car window.

There is a time and a place for everything, both in daily life and with the written word, but lately people’s behavior is feeding me such rich material (It usually does.) and I’m tired of letting people slide on things. They don’t know they’re doing it, but they’ve unwittingly become cannon fodder. And so, I want people to know from here on in, if you want to remain on my good side, don’t be an asshole who says stupid, ignorant, foolish shit to me. Treat me the way you want to be treated, so I don’t have to write about it. If you don’t care what you say, how you behave, or you forget who you’re talking to, then you’ve merely proven my point; you’re asking to be cannon fodder, and fodder you shall be.

Two members of my family are expecting a baby this summer, a firstborn son. I immediately got a gift idea in my head and decided to design it myself. I knew they’d love it because it is 100% unique, completely tailored to their interests. I’m pretty crafty when I want to be and have an impeccable eye for detail. She (the person not directly related to me) then makes a comment on Facebook about how what she’s looking for is unavailable everywhere she has looked and that what she’s seen from people who craft is “subpar”. Excuse me?! People who craft are some exceptionally talented folk. I can drool over stuff on Etsy for hours; stuff I cannot for the love of G-d make on my own, and that is some incredibly talented craftsmanship through my varied interests and tastes. In turn, I found that comment immensely disrespectful. I can do it myself, and I guarantee it won’t be “subpar”. $80+ in materials for a custom-design that no sane person would ask for, and she’s got that kind of attitude? That’s not rude or anything. <rolls eyes>

I specifically told her NOT to order an item or purchase one, that the gift was intended to be a surprise for them. I then get a Facebook message from her letting me know how sweet that is, BUT “she wants everything to match the baby’s room”. A room that is obviously not painted, has no furniture in it, and is a completely empty canvas. Call me crazy, but you just bitched to everyone you know, including your mother and mother-in-law, about how you cannot find designs with your fucking dog on it. I am willing to do one that you could literally use for additional children, if you’re so blessed, and you’re being a bitch to me? A person who you haven’t even met. Real classy. <cue the snarkiest eye roll you’ve ever seen>

In the midst of her rudeness, she then asked when she & my cousin could visit me or if I wanted to meet them somewhere. I’m roughly 30 minutes away, depending on traffic. Her sudden interest is bizarre because I’ve been here for over a fucking year. My Hand to G-d, I nearly told her to go fuck herself. I was super-polite, and then short with her and dismissive. She’s too stupid to realize that my tone went from warm and accepting to 100 below zero. She cannot accept a beautiful gift with graciousness, like every other pregnant woman I know (People are telling her they’ll make baby blankets and other items for her, all of which she is completely accepting of, so yes, I have every right to feel that her behavior was completely rude and disrespectful.), so now I’m too tired to spend months making a mobile for the baby’s crib. She can register, like normal first-time mothers do, which I heavily implied she ought to consider doing, and I’ll decide whether or not she’s deserving of a gift or not when the time comes.

Despite having not bought the materials yet, I let her know I was annoyed, for which she apologized and claimed she was making my cousin and her mother “insane”. Yeah, I weep openly for her mother (Not at all.), but my cousin I truly feel sorry for. He has enough problems without her behaving like a spoiled brat. I don’t appreciate her attitude or disrespect. I’d love to tell him that, because he’s mostly got my back in a lot of ways, we have a very good relationship, but I know he’ll immediately repeat what I say to her, to his mother, etc., and thus, I will become “the bitch”. Not true, but it’s how that side of the family likes to twist things. They all think they’re perfect. That simply isn’t possible. No one on Earth is perfect.

Normally, I might skip the gift altogether because I will play no significant role in this child’s life, but I was invited to the baby’s Bris (six months in advance). I wasn’t particularly fond of the way the Facebook Messenger “invite” was worded, either. What is WRONG with people? Does everything have to be announced and discussed via social media?! Can’t you just mail an invitation like a normal person? Or a potential save-the-date? Seriously?! Yes, with a Bris there is a timing issue, eight days, but you don’t have to message me on Facebook, the land of the impersonal pretending to be personal.

For starters, I was asked to attend, but was also apologized to, “incase ritual circumcision is offensive to me”. I wish you all could have seen me reading the message. Why would ritual circumcision offend me? I’m as Jewish as they are. It might offend someone else, but to me, it is a natural part of having a boy with Jewish parents (Please save your opinions for yourself, I’m not having a discussion about whether or not to have a circumcision on your own son, or for you to go out and have it done as an adult! I’m explaining a situation, not debating religious beliefs.). The next statement was this winner: “I was afraid to tell people we’re having a boy because most people aren’t into the simcha, they just want free food.” What the fuck did you just say to me?! That comment 100% rubbed me the wrong way. I read it five times to make sure I hadn’t hallucinated or had a stroke.

#1- I’ve never gone to an event, be it a family function or otherwise, for the fucking food. Seriously, you cannot impress me on that level. I’ve given five stars restaurants a huge thumbs down.

#2- Unless you’re planning on having me cater the event, you don’t have to worry about people going into a food frenzy <Yes, I’m rolling my eyes, but I also mean it.>.

#3- Perhaps you should only invite your immediate family (of which I am not), close friends (of which I most certainly am not), and loved ones who attended your wedding ten years ago (Despite being family, I wasn’t on the guest list.).

I know if it were me, such ludicrous thoughts would not be in my head. I’d be ecstatic and want to share with loved ones, which is less than 20-25 people, so obviously I don’t have to worry about such psychotic things, like whether or not someone is attending for “free food”. The fact that it was said truly appalls me.

When was the last time I attended a Bris? When my cousin Seth came home from being adopted. Loosely translated: A long fucking time ago. I don’t feel a deep desire to attend this one, not with such attitudes in the air. However, if I am still living in this state, I will try to be present. Try being the operative word. Mostly because it’ll kill his mother to be in the same room with me. 😉

In truth, I will have to go based on how I feel that day. If I’m not feeling it, then I’m not going. I can send a gift with someone else or mail it. Believe me, my absence will not be noticed by anyone attending. I do NOT feel obligated to kill myself for unappreciative, rude people.

When you’re pregnant, there are more important things to be concerned with than baby bedding and preparing a room, especially when you’ve got an over-bearing mother, obscenely over-bearing mother-in-law, and a slew of psychotic relatives who will bend over backwards to help you. If you’re a first-time mother, the best thing to do is make sure you’ve got a portable crib in your room because that’s precisely where the baby will spend the majority of his or her time, especially if you are nursing. In fact, I told her “You have plenty of time.”, in my attempt to give her the chance not to be a bitch and calm her down a bit. However, the entire time I was trying not to say “Hey bitch, accept a gift with a thank you, like a normal person. You’re behaving like a spoiled brat.” How I stifled myself, I do not know.

Instead of asking about the design and maybe using it as the focal point for the room, which I gave her the opportunity to do for well over two weeks, she storm-rolled over me in her desire for “everything to match”. Babies can only see black & white for the first few months, so color is beyond them. I know many people go with shades of white and grey with little black details, and they do this for that very reason before introducing color. Plus, it’s easy to change the room over as they grow. Anyone who is doing color immediately is doing it for themselves. The baby is NOT going to be impressed. On this level, I know she is trying to compete with her sister-in-law, who recently had her second child, and who moved into a enormous mansion last summer. She doesn’t have those things, so she’s obsessing over unattainable “perfection”. I, however, don’t have to tolerate the nonsense.

My Goddaughter’s custom-made mobile was a HUGE hit when she was born in 2011. It still hangs in her room, not because it needs to be there any more (My G-d, she’s almost six!), but because it was a cherished, respected, appreciated gift. It was also an item no one thought to purchase or make out of all the people who did send gifts and visit, so the beautiful piece remains in tact. It plays music and she has always loved it. Score one for Aunt Lisa.

Gift-wise, I could still do the mobile and let her deal with it (Though I personally feel she’s undeserving of such beauty at this stage in the game. Especially since I have to apologize to the person who was making the dogs for me. Dogs based off of photos of their dog. Seriously, it’s a pretty damn thoughtful gift idea for people I’m not even remotely close to.), or I can wait until the baby is born and do something last-minute with zero personality. Normally I hate the last-minute thing, but in this case, maybe she’ll be less bitchy once she realizes that the most important thing in all this is not the perfect, matching nursery, but having a happy, healthy baby and a healthy, safe pregnancy.

Women have babies all over the world every single day. Not all of these babies survive. In turn, I feel she should focus on what’s truly important; delivering a healthy child into this world, as opposed to being an ungrateful bitch. Apparently she’s picking up on some of the uglier traits of her in-laws. That or she’s always been this way, I will never know for sure, and I refuse to allow people to make excuses for her behavior and how she spoke to me.

This is how she turned herself into cannon fodder. She won’t be the first and she certainly won’t be the last. And before you ask, she will likely never read this because her IQ is pretty close to a sock. Bless her heart. Moreover, I would not care if she did read this and cried because quite frankly, her rudeness will not be forgotten. If there’s one thing I don’t care for, it’s rude, attention-seeking little shits. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Hers resulted in over two thousand words. What does that say about her?
A lot, I’d say.

New rule #1? Piss me off, pay the consequences.

Stay tuned!

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


If It Looks Like A Duck

If there’s one thing I absolutely have no tolerance for, it’s being lied to. To add insult to injury, I hate being lied to and discriminated against all in the same breath. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it might very well smell like bullshit.

Since long before I moved here, the local library has offered delivery service to anyone who is home-bound. I can safely say that being as sick as I am, unable to get out of bed nine days out of ten, that definitely qualifies as too sick to be there on any type of constant basis. For over a month now, that was fine. No questions, no drama, just deliveries and pickups every 2-3 weeks.

On Friday, the 1st, after nearly a month of battling migraines and Fibromyalgia pain, I felt good enough to drop off my stack of books, CD’s, and DVD’s, and pick up the items on hold. I called in advance to let the administrator know, so she’d be able to move my items off of her desk. She’s the one who delivers and picks up, so I felt it was only respectful to let her know she need not come out prior to a holiday weekend. She has never been anything but lovely to me.

During this seemingly simple process, a woman checking out my items took note of my account status and questioned me. She didn’t ask what was wrong, but she was loud enough that I informed her that my health is a personal matter. She then sends me upstairs to correct a secondary issue, but the new person decided to outright challenge me. Not only did she question me, but I refused to answer her because she was outright rude and violating my privacy by announcing my business to a busy library. I was always taught that you keep your voice down in a library, but she was so loud that people looked up from their laptops. My personal information does not need to be read off of a screen at decibels that can be heard in space. She stared at me and I stared her down. I waited until she looked away and did her job (A DVD set I returned was badly damaged and I could not view the final three episodes on disc six. I was asking that a copy be ordered from a different library and I suggested the returned copy be replaced. You would have thought I had just asked her if she’d married a Martian. The woman was as dumb as a box of rocks with a pile of shit on top, but I tried to patiently walk her through the process by speaking slowly.), but I knew I hadn’t heard the last of things simply by showing up looking like I’m healthy. I knew one or both of them would say something to someone and cause trouble. I had, of course, hoped they’d have compassion and realize that people like me are the reasons they have jobs, but alas, one of them did or said something. They will now be forced to pay for their callous invasion into my privacy. They’re librarians; not medical professionals.

Here’s the thing with invisible illnesses: On a good day, I look damn good. It does not, by any means, make me a liar, or mean that I am somehow “abusing the system”, which is precisely what I was accused of. It means I took 40 minutes or so to even out my skin tone, fill in my eyebrows, and make myself look like a human-being. It’s not a prerequisite for everyone, but it is for me. When you spend your days in agony, it’s good to remind yourself that you’re young, attractive, and clean up really well. I do this for ME, not for anyone else. Unless I pointed it out, most people would not be able to tell you that I had makeup on, unless they were looking at my eyes. For me, it’s similar to getting a haircut, in terms of analogies. We all look and feel better when our hair looks nice, or maybe that’s just 99% of the women I know and most of the men. My brother began going grey young and when he started to realize that I wasn’t joking about his hairline receding, he started shaving his head every 6-8 weeks, if not more often than that. He feels good when he knows he’s not sporting a mop of hair. It makes him look about 10 years younger than he is, so it’s a win-win. Wearing makeup, for me, is a form of art. I’m not masking anything, I’m just showing a little creativity. I didn’t go in wearing false lashes or a full glam look, it was pretty basic, but I was judged for it. You could hear them thinking “What’s wrong with her? She looks perfectly healthy to me.” Yet, I was limping, something that seemed to go unnoticed by these old bats.

On the 6th, I received a phone call from the director of the library. He listed all of the accusations against me and informed me I would receive one more delivery and one more pick up, and that the program was being “temporarily discontinued” and he gave me a list of excuses that simply did not make sense. Each story was different from the last. I asked if it was going to affect everyone in the program or just me. Three times he said “No, JUST YOU.” I made him repeat it so he could hear what he was saying, because it’s blatant discrimination. I wanted him to hear himself. He claimed that the Board of Public Libraries in Boston would be contacted for “guidelines” and spewed some other nonsense. He blew off a lot of questions I asked and was very rude and dismissive, all while trying to seem charming and sincere. You could smell the bullshit from three centimeters away.

First he claimed that I had “too many holds” and they were getting into trouble with the other libraries over it. At the time, I had over 20 holds. I now have 7. Then he claimed that the program was “half-baked” and that guidelines had never been implemented as to how many items a person could have at one time, etc. The stories became more and more ridiculous. Ultimately, he made me sound like the scourge of all readers. I ended up returning a stack of books and DVD’s I never had the time to read or watch, but because he was such an asshole I made sure I got ahead of him. One thing you do NOT do is mess with THIS writer. I’m well-known for being an incredible public speaker; the second he deigned to call me he started a fight he will not win.

After I got off the phone with him I called the Board of Public Libraries myself. When they returned my call, they were absolutely APPALLED by how I was treated. I spent over 40 minutes on the phone with the person handling this, and she could not have been kinder or more respectful. She told me that the individual library establishes the guidelines for this “wonderful program” and that she understood how much I suffer because she has three family members with Fibromyalgia or other invisible illnesses. Her exact words were “On a good day, you look and feel great and on a bad day, you can’t walk.” YES, she 100% understood. I felt vindicated. She immediately put in a call to their “director” and suggested I follow-up by writing a letter and CCing the Board of Trustees. She said “I think you’re the perfect person to show them that not everyone fits into the mold of what “sick” looks like. You legally have the same rights as if you came into the library in a wheelchair and they have to accommodate you.” She told me she’d been a library director for 15 years prior to moving on to a different job and had NEVER treated someone in such a manner, and that the last thing any director wants is for things to escalate to the Board of Trustees because that means they can lose their funding and be closed down permanently. She agreed that I have every right to read the books I want to read, watch the DVD’s I want to see, and borrow the music I want to hear. She said “The other libraries know this program exists. If it’s such a big deal, the larger ones can order extra copies if it’s in their budget or the other person on the wait list can wait an additional week. It’s not the end of the world.” I felt like I’d just spoken to my spirit animal. 🙂

My nearly two thousand word letter will be going to the “director” and I’ve CC’d both Boards on purpose. This asshole screwed with the wrong chick with one phone call, but make no mistake, he will either work with me or I’ll have his job. I do not mess around when it comes to discrimination in regard to invisible illness. If he did this to me, he will inevitably attempt to do it to someone else, someone who isn’t as smart or as strong as I am, someone who lacks my voice and character. That’s unacceptable to me, so not only am I putting my foot down, I’m ready to discuss this with every local media outlet known to man. I’m sure the Board Of Trustees would have a field day with that, so I gave him the option of working with me to set guidelines into place and I instructed him to teach his staff about respect and discretion as the better part of valor, lest it get them into trouble, especially if I lay eyes on either of those poor saps again. Either they’re stupid, senile, or a combination thereof, and if that’s the case, then neither of them should be allowed to work with the public in such a fashion.

Have you been discriminated against as a sufferer of an invisible illness? If so, let me know about it in the comments.


copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Situation Or Depression? There’s A Difference

I had a major meltdown Monday. I can’t recall the last time I felt that alone, that isolated from my friends & family, or that upset. I’m certain it’s happened before, but Monday was simply too much, too soon, and way too intensely upsetting. I vividly remember scrolling through my contacts list at one point, and realizing that I could not call a single soul in it. I reasoned that I didn’t want to bother anyone at work. It was quite sobering.

When a strong woman says “I’m tired of being strong.”, it’s honest. When a strong woman says “I feel broken.”, that too is honest. But when a strong woman seeks help so that she does not harm herself, knowing the potential is there, and gets told “There’s a nine month waiting list to be seen.” or “We’re booked solid until January, so you should go to your nearest emergency room.”, it is astounding.

When you go to the emergency room with a mental health crisis of any kind, it is my experience that you will not be taken seriously unless you’re bleeding or have overdosed and were brought in on a stretcher. Does it really have to come down to that? I think it is a horrible approach and I wonder how many other people have experienced this.

If a mother can go to a police station, fire house, rescue squad, or hospital, and legally surrender an infant (Known as the Safe Haven Law) without fear of being deemed a criminal for child abandonment, then I should be able to go into any medical establishment and say “I am worried for myself, I need help.” without fear of judgment or criticism, or being mistreated. Instead, I spent several days talking to my insurance company, who are utterly useless, trying to find a way to get immediate care. But no such place exists without an extensive waiting list. They just keep telling me to go to the emergency room. I didn’t break my leg, this is not an emergency room situation unless I have hurt myself or someone else. G-d forbid!

I don’t need to be hospitalized. I know that, and so do the few people who support me, but do I need additional support and someone to talk to? Yes. I reached out to my psychiatrist for a prescription, asking whether or not I should go back on medicine I already have or medicine I used to take, the latter of which would require him to call a prescription into the pharmacy for me. Unfortunately, medication is always very tricky, and side effects are generally the reason I stop taking them. That, or the fact that they don’t make me feel better. I can’t function when I’m deathly ill from side effects or I can’t physically get out of bed from the drowsiness certain medications provide at even a low dose. I have yet to meet one that truly works without making things worse.

It’s almost 2016, and there are still so many people ashamed to talk about their use of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication during difficult times in their life, or daily to manage very real issues that aren’t their fault to begin with. I would be far more embarrassed pretending I was okay when I am not. Suffering in silence makes the suffering one hundred times worse than it is if you simply reach out to someone and ask for help. But here I am, and there’s no one willing to help. It’s like being outside in -50 degree temperatures and having someone throw ice water at you. It is also incredibly hurtful and insulting.

The past few years have taken an immense toll on me, I’d never deny that, but the last two and a half weeks have been like bleeding to death slowly. And yet, as I sit here with a cold that came out of nowhere, I find myself unable to handle answering the phone or responding to a text message (I wish I could say they were simple, but they’re not. I currently have the Do Not Disturb feature on because listening to my phone vibrate all day is getting to me.). I’ve reached a point where too many people want immensely large pieces of me, but none of them are willing to grant me so much as an inch of kindness, compassion, or understanding. I take a few days to take care of myself and get told I’m horribly selfish, which is the exact opposite of who I am. I’m considering the asinine source before buying into such nonsense. Sometimes employing a “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that” filter is a good idea.

I am the first person to say that it’s important to advocate for your own mental health, and your overall health in general. It’s important to question everything, especially when you aren’t receiving legitimate answers. I also feel it is important to take ownership of your own crap. That being said, I feel like this particular situation is what’s affecting me and making me physically ill. It’s not depression in a traditional way, it is the situation causing how I feel, but it is still difficult and I’d prefer to be prepared for anything more that comes at me, as opposed to pretending nothing affects me. I’m human, and it’s not a crime.

I might not have been in a good mood to begin with, but come on, this has merit.

I got home late from the hospital Monday night. They keep the rooms outrageously hot in that particular part of the hospital. I kept putting eye drops in to counteract the heat drying my eyes out, and I kept disinfecting things because every other person was coughing or sneezing. I already knew I had something in my system, but now it’s affecting my head and chest. For a period of time yesterday, my voice was but a whisper. All I was capable of doing was sitting and today hasn’t been much better, except that I have my voice back and have been able to do a few things in and out of the house. My head feels like there are multiple hot pokers stuck in different directions, my sinuses are killing me, and my eyes and throat hurt like hell. The weather, all dark and grey, complete with rain, is only adding to the pressure in my skull. I find it insulting to get sick when I am already dealing with enough insanity.

My brother is still in the hospital. They wanted to discharge him on Monday, but his blood oxygen levels weren’t good and they were talking about doing another procedure before discharging him. By Tuesday, his levels were almost 100% improved, the second procedure was determined to be okay a month post-op, but not now. There was also a major snafu when one of his surgeons discovered a potential infection on an x-ray. He wasn’t sure what it was, but wanted to run some tests to figure it out. They have since discovered that he indeed has infection, but they aren’t 100% sure where or what it is. He’s been saying he “feels hot” since last week. They kept telling him his vitals were good and it was merely a side effect of the anesthesia and medication. Last night, the nurses argued once they discovered he had a high fever, because apparently the two nurses prior to the shift change failed to report that he had one at all. His primary surgeon was called at home around midnight and was, quite obviously, very concerned. He ordered a laundry list of tests, some of which were performed immediately after the phone call, and others were done earlier on, with a few more ordered for later today. My brother, in perfectly dramatic fashion, blamed me for this. It is, naturally, all my fault. How could it not be?! Lord knows I walk around with a veritable petri dish just waiting to unleash it on my own flesh & blood. <rolls eyes>

I’d like to blame that psychotic comment on his medication, but I have no idea where he gets the idea that I’m some kind of monster trying to keep him in the hospital (If I was, he’d be chained to a bed in a mental hospital.). Because I’m honest? Because I’m direct? Because I don’t coddle him? No matter what I say or do, I am wrong. It’s like being married, except this isn’t Arkansas (That was a snarky comment, not a statement of fact, lest someone become offended and lack the ability to decipher my sense of humor.).

Quite frankly, I’d like him to recover in someone else’s home, tormenting them. If I hear about his dietary restrictions one more time, he’ll be lucky to get a loaf of bread and a gallon of water each week upon being released into my “care”. I offered to bring him something when I go back to the hospital and was told I “can’t be obvious about it” because I brought him a request Monday and apparently someone asked how he got it or something along those lines. I didn’t know I was committing some evil act by trying to do something nice. He’s a grown man, what am I supposed to do, bring him a teddy bear?! His vocal cords are healing (If you watch Chicago P.D., I can tell you that, at the moment, he sounds a lot like Jason Beghe.) at a slow rate, so I’ve made an effort, but all he does is piss me off with the unappreciativeness. I don’t have a lot of patience to begin with, so insulting me is not the way to get what you want or need.

People don’t rely on me for compassion, they rely on me to get the difficult shit done. I realize he feels he deserves some kind of “compassion pass” at the moment, but I don’t have it in me to change the core of who I am. I handle and face situations, but I’m not going to be someone I’m not, regardless of what a situation may be. In life, there’s no room for sugar-coating, and I certainly don’t expect people to do it for me either. Deliver the facts, I will deliver solutions, but don’t play games with me. It can seem cold and dispassionate to people, but I am actually quite passionate. If I wasn’t passionate, I wouldn’t do a damn thing for anyone. I would absolutely be selfish and self-centered, but I’m not. Sometimes when people are going through something difficult, they imprint their issues onto you, because their coping mechanisms aren’t strong enough to hold them together emotionally.

Ultimately, medication or not, I know who I am. This week has been a bad situation and it upset me to an ugly point, but my survival and success rate are 100%. I’m not going anywhere.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Silence, Leaf Blowers, & Sunday Dinner


Waking up this morning, I had a plan. Thus far, that plan is at a standstill as I am still dealing with yesterday’s migraine. In turn, all I wanted was silence, in all its perfect glory. This, of course, is where the leaf blowers come in, and threaten to make me sicker.

After doing some mundane things earlier on in the day, the sound of three (I wish I were joking) leaf blowers on my property became unbearable. I was in the kitchen at the time doing some early prep for Sunday dinner, otherwise I might not have heard them in the back of the house, which is where I do most of my work.

I glanced out a window after a while because the noise was getting louder and closer, and there were no less than six people on my front lawn, three of whom had leaf blowers. I cannot tell you how annoyed I was, but I decided to let it go. If you can’t shoot people for being idiots, you might as well let them look like the idiots they truly are as they mind someone else’s business on a suburban street for all to see.

Yesterday my vile next door neighbor took it upon herself, as she does every Fall, to break out the leaf blower and blow every leaf off of her property onto mine. She blew them halfway to the middle of the front lawn, as if they magically got there on their own. Who does that, you ask? Someone not entirely sane.

She pretended she didn’t see me go to the mailbox before she started this nonsense, that I hadn’t answered a question when her husband stopped me to ask about my brother’s surgery, as he visited him in the hospital last week, and that she had not seen me Friday night when I came home from running errands. She was too busy gossiping, but believe me when I say her eyes are always on me and my business. As my brother would say “Don’t watch me, watch TV.”

Today, she did the same thing with the leaves, except this time she, her husband, and several other members of her family bagged the leaves up, because apparently they have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning. There are eighteen bags of leaves sitting at the end of my driveway, as if she did a good, neighborly thing out of some semblance of goodness that I can attest, does not exist. She put three bags in front of her driveway and the rest in front of mine, as if I am blind. She wants it to be obvious that she did it, but I’m smart enough to know her motives.

Don’t get me wrong, if this was a genuine move, I would be quite appreciative. I cannot afford to be an ungrateful bitch, and I’m not. However, she knew I was home. There were two cars in the driveway before she started and after she finished. There are several other houses on this street that could have used her brand of “assistance”. The neighbor next door lost her husband in April and is having a difficult time. I would think it would make a hell of a lot more sense to help her as she’s visibly struggling with such a severe loss, so believe me when I say this was far from genuine. If I were going to help someone, I would be doing the yard work for the other neighbor whose husband used to do to it for her and their family. That, at least, makes sense.

Here’s the issue, apart from my desperately needing quiet; This isn’t her house. If the leaves from my trees bother her, tough shit. They aren’t hurting anything or anyone, and there is no mandate in this township that says when or if you must bag up leaves or not. It is November, and it’s early November at that. The leaves can be bagged up for pick-up, if one chooses, well into mid-December. Generally the majority of mine get removed in early Spring because I’m not so OCD that it needs to be perfect. In fact, I’d prefer the chipmunks have leaves lying around in case they need them. Moreover, I have more important things to think about at the moment, and raking leaves is extremely low on the totem pole of thought. But hey, if she wants to waste over two hours, have at it. It will get colder, the wind will continue to blow, because hurricane season is not yet finished, and she’ll be back at it in a week or two weeks from now because both trees out front are FULL of leaves. They’re going to keep falling. It makes no sense to bag leaves up more than once, if one is going to do it at all.

Instead of treating me like a human-being that exists, she does this because the leaves bother her (God forbid a leaf get on her new car! The woman, I kid you not, threw a party to show her new car off to anyone and everyone, as if she hadn’t been driving a relatively new car before this. Did you just shake your head at the craziness of such a stunt? It’s very similar to driving around with the sale’s sticker on your car for months.), and what’s more, it bothers her that I do not say a word to her, not in English any way. I lack the ability to be polite to people once I’ve seen their true colors. I’m contemplating slipping a note under her husband’s windshield wiper when I go out tomorrow morning to thank him for bagging up the leaves, despite the fact that I know he wouldn’t do all that work on his own since he’s due for knee replacement surgery any day now. She thinks she’s being cute, but she has no idea who she’s screwing with. I should have taken video or photos, because if you’d seen the behavior as she barked orders at her minions, I mean family, you’d understand my reaction. I strongly suggest she see a doctor and get her medication adjusted.

Now that it is quieter, I am still hearing leaf blowers (and lawn mowers) throughout the neighborhood. It’s kind of like dogs that all bark in sync the second the mailman is on the street. If I knew where my ear plugs were, I might be able to quell some of the nausea the noise is inducing.

On the flip side, I LOVE preparing Sunday dinner, but since it’s just me (my brother won’t be eating solid food for quite some time and Case Study #2 is on his way to the airport.), I broke it up into three meals to prolong the culinary delights. I still have mushrooms to saute, some additional veggies to chop, and the centerpiece of it all to throw together. If I can get my stomach to settle down, dinner will be awesome and continue to be awesome for a few nights. 🙂

I have so many friends who don’t understand my love for cooking (My cousin once asked me how to make corn on the cob. I tried hard not to laugh as I explained the simplicity of it.), or who don’t cook at all, which is why I’m the one that feeds them when they visit, or when I visit them. Cooking is merely another art form I enjoy, it’s a skill set that not all people have. That doesn’t mean I don’t scoff when a friend of over 20 years happens to let me know that she’s learning how to cook for her husband. I had to explain that when cooking, you need to cleanse the palate in order to be able to taste what it is you are making and gauge the seasoning accordingly. When I received a giggly, moronic response, I rolled my eyes and have tried my level best to keep my mouth shut since. If you’re public with your stupidity, or you advertise it via social media, don’t expect me to pretend I didn’t just hear what you said. Don’t hand-feed the writer material!

And on that note my loves, I am off to the kitchen once more to put all of the finishing touches on one of my favorite meals. Buon appetito! 🙂

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in an extremely bizarre reality, I was in a relationship I should not have been in. The warning signs were there, but some people burn so brightly that you don’t seem to notice you’re going up in flames and turning to ash. Immensely large red flares of danger were being sent up so I wouldn’t get burned. Did that stop anything? Not so much.

He was the quintessential “bad boy”, complete with motorcycles, fancy sports cars, tattoos, multiple drug addictions, and a boatload of issues. Maybe the maternal, nurturing aspect of me wanted to fix or heal him. I don’t know, but whatever it is, I’m thankful every single day that it is no longer a part of my life.

Initially there was no reaction or emotion from me towards him. He was just a guy, a guy all kinds of women fell for, but I prided myself on not adding myself to the throng of fools. Until one day, when I was seemingly drawn in like a moth to a flame. Except I wasn’t a moth, I was a butterfly, and yet, I suddenly had to have him. The pull was intense. He was crazy about me; The only person who challenged him, who questioned everything, and who was not impressed by anything. The problems though, they were simmering under the surface, just waiting to come out, one by one.

They started relatively early. I had never been told I was “too skinny” before. Even as a former gymnast that had experienced bouts of bulimia on & off for about two years after realizing that I’d never be an Olympic anything. I did not consider myself “too skinny” or “too” anything, really. I had the mouth of a Marine on leave, a writing career that had taken off in an amazing way, and a guy who told me he loved me, but to this day probably doesn’t know the meaning of the word. You’ll find him in the dictionary, somewhere between the words “Douchebag”, “Hypocrite”, and “Liar”, providing you’ve opted for a Webster’s upgrade.

His career allowed me the independence and space that I like in a relationship. I can’t have someone in my face 24/7, nagging, or standing over my shoulder like a watch dog. It drives me insane. He respected that, until the possessive behavior became more than just one or two phone calls a day. At first it seemed like he was going out of his way to surprise me and brighten aspects of my life, but that wasn’t it. Not at all.

The man could spit out promises just as quickly as he broke them, I just didn’t know he was trying to break me in the process.

The criticism I endured throughout the course of this relationship was harsher than what I dealt with from my family, and even though I had a comeback for everything he said, the words still haunt me…

I went from being vibrant, smart, confident, & 100% in control to depressed, unhappy, paranoid, angry, & jealous. I was reduced to questioning why I was somehow not good enough for him. It was irrational and insane. There was always an inner voice telling me “He’s not good enough for you. What are you doing? This man is poison. Tell him to go to hell and walk away.”

I remember crying one night to my best friend at the time, after a particularly shitty thing he’d lied about. Here I was, the strongest, toughest, most direct chick people knew, asking “Why would he lie to me like that? Why would he lie about something so important? Why am I not good enough for him?” I was devastated by the pathological way in which he’d lie.

My best friend consoled me quietly, basically saying she didn’t know why he had lied or why he would, but months later she told me I was “Too smart, too pretty, and all around way too good for the likes of him!” She was furious that he would hurt me in such a manner and then behave as if all was right in the world, and her anger continued to fuel when he showed up at a work event we all attended with a married woman on his arm. “A friend”, he’d called her. More like a drug supplier he’d hooked up with. He was spiraling and wanted to take me with him, but I would not allow that.

For the record, I was already ass deep in alligators when I realized how big an issue the drugs actually were because they weren’t an issue at the onset. It went from being an old football injury to being an all-consuming, problem-inducing, complete lack of grip on reality. It started out small, as many addictions do, and escalated until it had to be confronted. I did not condone it in any way and refused to support the habit. I was not going to be in a relationship with an addict, period. I was the catalyst to get him into rehab, explaining in list formation all that he would lose if he did not get clean. But as most people can tell you, 30 days in rehab will detox you, it might even get you to talk about why you got into it in the first place, but it’s every single day after leaving a protected environment that matters most. If you have people who love & support you, you have a greater chance at remaining sober. You might slip up, recovery is going to be a constant for the rest of your life, but the effort you put forth is SO important. However, if you immediately return to the same lifestyle and friends you had during the height of your illness, it will revert you right back into it at some point, especially if you have no real desire to be clean, no willpower, and no real desire to live. It’s a way of committing suicide slowly, secretly hoping that one day it’ll all be over and you don’t personally have to do the heavy lifting, or deal with the aftermath.

Part of what saddens me about the relationship itself is that I defended, protected, and shielded this man. I was the epitome of devoted and loyal to the Nth degree. My love was genuine, and yet I was constantly criticized, going as far as to be told that I wasn’t good enough to be introduced to his parents, who for years, he told me were dead. I’d later find out he only wished they were. Our differing religions was the reason given when I questioned why I was somehow “not good enough” to meet his parents. Who the hell were these people? England’s Monarchy?! How isolated and ignorant were they to think their religion was the only one that existed in this world?! This was not the first time someone had taken issue with my religion and tried to make me feel guilty for it. I was considered “not Jewish enough” by one guy’s family, and now I was being made to feel like I was somehow inappropriate and shameful. And the worst part? He wasn’t religious, AT ALL. 

Suddenly, after years of knowing our religions were different, it became this big issue, and we fought about it a lot. Would I be willing to convert to Roman Catholicism? HELL NO. Would I sign a pre-nup? Whoa, where the hell did THAT come from?! You want to marry me. You’ve asked, I’ve accepted, but now you’re afraid I suddenly want to be with you for financial gain? Are you serious?! Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always taken care of myself. He knew that. I don’t expect a man to pay for my lifestyle. I’m fully capable of making my own money, buying my own clothes, jewelry, etc.  I think you should want to take care of your partner and be a provider, but relationships are give and take. I did not expect to sit on my ass and be given anything, so I waffled back and forth on that little tidbit. It is a deal breaker if it’s not a document protecting both of us.

The ever-present “Would you please eat?!” grated on my nerves. He’d bring me food for several years of our relationship, but not in a loving, caring, concerned way (I do like it when I’m sick and a guy has the sense to bring me soup or Italian food. There’s something very nurturing about that.), but in an extremely controlling manner. As soon as I gained about 15 pounds from this constant influx of food, I was suddenly told the exact opposite. Now I wasn’t thin enough, I was becoming the woman who he didn’t want anyone else looking at. What was so shameful about being curvy? He’d have a fit whenever we’d be somewhere and someone else would check me out. I was not the one doing the looking, yet he was suddenly paranoid that anyone who checked me out was somehow going to end up in my bed. It was eye-rollingly ridiculous.

He’d do something shitty, and I’d be “rewarded” with jewelry or flowers, sometimes both, depending on the situation. It got to a point where I began to loathe the pink & purple roses I loved so much. To this day if someone sends me roses, I cringe inside. He would promise to be somewhere I needed him to be, but was almost always off feeding his drug habit, or as I would later find out through a friend, a habit for other women.

It was demanded upon me that I be 100% faithful. That was not an issue because I’d never cheated on someone and wasn’t about to start, but because he was the one doing all the cheating, he started having people follow me to find out what I was doing every time I left the house. Stalker much?! It was sick. It was also an excuse.

I’d had enough after confronting someone he often had tail me, and I put my foot down. I’m not big on ultimatums, but he needed to hear what his behavior was doing, that it was unhealthy and damaging, and completely unwarranted and unacceptable. It came down to this: He needed to return to rehab, fully commit to it, and he then needed to be clean & sober for a year before I would agree to marriage. It was time for him to prove that he was worthy of me, not the other way around.

He went to rehab for a few months, coming back apologetic, and for a while things were simply tense. We talked, but clearly he was refusing to hear me. He was about to do something he’d probably been considering for quite some time, and simply hadn’t been man enough to say to my face. With marriage promised, it probably made me believe a slew of lies I was too smart to actually buy into in the first place, but there was something slightly blinding & intoxicating about it. But the truth of the matter is, it was just plain toxic.

The problem with relationships slowly turning abusive is that, initially, we think we’re in the right relationship with the right person, until suddenly, we’re not.

For years after this relationship ended I’d hear “Oh, LET IT GO!” whenever I mentioned how hurt, angry, or betrayed I felt; as if emotions could be turned on and off like a faucet. How could I not feel all of those things?! Saying “I love you” is not a cure-all. Actions speak louder than words. His actions were atrocious.

With a ring solidly on my finger, he married someone else, just weeks after saying we were good and moving in the right direction, that he was trying. I had to find out via an announcement his new wife was sending to friends & family. She was pregnant before they even said “I do.” He would go on to have several children with her, each time choosing names we had decided on for our future offspring. That was the icing on the cake. I seriously worried about my ability to be around him in any capacity after that, so I disengaged. I made sure that whenever he’d be around, I would not be present. Hurting someone you claim to love in such a manner is vile, but to then go on living your life as if said loved one never existed is even worse. I started to think I was losing my mind. If it had not been for the fact that I knew the relationship had occurred, and exactly what I had endured, I’d have felt like I was being erased, or replaced.

Up until a few years ago, he & I continued to have mutual friends. I finally got tired of hearing the lies and cut everyone off. “He asked about you.”, “He hopes you’re all right. He just wants you to be happy.”, “He cares about you.” PLEASE! He never cared in the first place, it was a fucking game to him. No matter how many times I would ask these friends not to relay anything he said about me, it would come up in conversation, until I finally changed my phone number and said “No more.”

Not one to eat bullshit politely with a knife and fork, I have gone out of my way to avoid him since all of this went down. I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I didn’t do anything wrong, except believe in a person I shouldn’t have given the time of day to, but hey, we all make mistakes. Avoiding him is my way of remaining a healthy, non-toxic human-being.

I know eventually, at some point, we will run into one another, and I pray that I am not carrying a loaded weapon that day or wearing particularly high heels because even though people tell me I’m not a damaging, harmful person to be around, and that I’d never willingly hurt someone, I cannot promise the desire to harm him won’t be there. Some of the rage goes away with time, but any time the relationship is mentioned or I come across something from that time period, I am flooded with everything I thought I’d already moved past. For me, that lets me know the damage runs deep. It does not, nor will it ever, mean that I care about him. I don’t. I wouldn’t spit on this man if he was on fire.

Once I no longer love/respect someone, my emotions will often turn to pity, anger (at myself & the other person involved), & my anger is a burning rage that can simmer and bubble for years until it is truly out of my system. If the anger is unjustified, it eventually dwindles and the flames put out, but if it IS justified, stay the hell out of my way. I can go from zero to bitch in about half a second.

Unfortunately, there are so many different kinds of abuse in the world, that it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint if you are the abused or the abuser. Sometimes you are simultaneously both, even if you don’t intend to be.

Writing this makes me feel a bit like I’m back in Psych class, but I’ve been revisiting certain things lately, which is why I am writing about such a personal, private matter. If what I’m saying helps even one person get out of a toxic relationship, then that’s important and necessary.

If you’re in any kind of relationship where your words and feelings are being defined in an incorrect manner, where you are constantly insulted and berated, it is time to take a closer look at this relationship. Thinking this person is “the best you can do”, having low, little, or no self-esteem, or coming from a “people pleasing” type of family are all potential signs you’ve probably overlooked. Most people do. When you’ve been taught that everything around you is “normal” and a part of your daily life, you stop questioning things. You begin to lose your inner voice. Once you lose your inner voice, you start to become everything the abuser has defined you as. Your thoughts, feelings, actions, everything is now completely defined by someone else. Moreover, you question yourself and promise yourself you’ll be better for them, that you will do everything right, not realizing that your life is your own, and it is not owned by someone else.

I am a product of abuse. Not just from the relationship I am talking about, but from my childhood. I am very forthcoming about that fact when approached, but generally I keep such things to myself. However, when a person comes to me and needs help, I am the first person to listen, and the first to say something.

For many, many years I handled the abuse (verbal, emotional, and physical) by throwing myself into my writing and my singing. One day I snapped; I’d had enough. I was 100% committed in the fact that I’d kill the other person and spend my life in jail, but I believed in my cause because I was protecting two other people. I took the brunt of everything so they wouldn’t have to. To this day, one of those people denies that 99% of the abuse ever occurred. It must be nice living in such a warped bubble of false memories, but I know what I lived, I know what I saw, and it is sad for me to see this person deny the abuse and become the abuser themselves. If you correct this person, or disagree with them, they will say YOU are abusing THEM. It’s a vicious cycle, however, I know that by standing up and saying ENOUGH, and being committed to putting a stop to it, that I did the right thing. If I hadn’t, I’d be in jail now. Or worse.

People are often shocked to learn that I’ve been through such things. I don’t deny being strong and confident, and I don’t deny that I will say something is wrong when it is wrong, regardless of who is saying it. I will admit to being wrong on the rare occasion that I am. But I will not allow myself to live a life of abuse. I won’t allow someone to define me, to disrespect me, to use me, to tell me what I think, to tell me where to go, or tell me what I am allowed to do. When someone behaves that way around me, I am very happy to show them the door. I know I deserve better.

I look for different things in people now, and I always pay attention to my intuition. It is an immense part of who I am. If someone or something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If something feels innately wrong, re-evaluate it and follow your instincts. Intuition will never lie to you, but the heart will. If your relationship involves young children, get out NOW. You do not want your child/children to be affected by the abuse inflicted upon their mother in front of them. I know people who have stayed in these relationships because they believed that taking their children out of the home during the formative years was the worst possible thing they could do. It’s not. The worst thing you can do is stay and allow them to think that what they’re hearing, seeing, and living is normal. If you get out early enough, you will save yourself and your child/children a fortune in therapy bills.

Once upon a time, I was a moron. It won’t happen again, because I am firmly committed to not allowing it. No one defines me, except me.

*If you need help getting out of an abusive/unhealthy relationship or are living with domestic violence and don’t know where to turn please go to any of the following organizations for assistance:,,,, etc.

Do not be afraid to search the Internet or the Yellow Pages for additional resources available to you in your area/country. If your abuser uses the same computer, always be sure to delete your browsing history to protect yourself from additional harm, or go to the library if available and search for information there.*

“Once Upon A Time”, and all material herein, unless otherwise indicated and credited to its owner(s), is copyright © 2013-2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Silver Linings


At this particular point in time, I am having difficulties seeing the silver linings. Life has its ups and downs. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it sucks. We’ve all experienced this. I’m not quite certain what to do when it’s predominantly sucky.

I work hard, but there is always a problem that arises and it’s always something I have to fix. It makes almost all aspects of life, outside of a handful of things, completely miserable, moving straight into unbearable. When does it end? 😦


At a severe low point, I called a suicide prevention hotline. I feel absolutely no shame in admitting that. I do, however, feel incredible outrage by how I was treated by this hotline that will willingly accept my donations, and yours, but refused to so much as help me when I wasn’t very far away from my personal ledge.

The person who took my call was already on the phone with someone “in a more severe crisis”. I have no idea how she knew this other person was in a more severe situation than I was because the first thing she did was put me on hold for about 30 minutes. Let me reiterate that she never even bothered to ask me if I was all right and in a safe place before she did that. She finally comes back on the line and says that the other call is more important and I should try calling back later. She didn’t ask where my head space was, NOTHING. She spewed the call back later crap and hung up. Even if you’re short-handed, even if you’re a volunteer, that isn’t the way to treat anyone who is calling a suicide prevention line. Clearly, they’re not calling for shits and giggles, it takes courage to make that call. I hung up with my jaw wide open, feeling even more betrayed by the world. It was a gut punch. “Wow! Even the suicide prevention hotline can’t prioritize me for half a second before hanging up!” If I wanted to be treated that way, I have family for that.

Earlier this year a now former friend asked me via text message if I “needed professional help”. Instead of understanding that I was in a bad place and needed support, she ended up blowing me off and later “broke up” with me via e-mail. I thought we’d be friends a very long time, so I was understandably blown away by the dramatic behavior and inability to show compassion to another human-being. I will never name names, but I am also at that point where forgiveness is not an option. You only get one chance with me. (Other things did occur towards the end, but I will never discuss any of that because it’s private. If the other person chooses to say something, they would be wrong.)

Telling me you’re worried about me via text message doesn’t convey care or concern. It’s just words. Picking up the fucking phone and saying “I know you’re not okay. I’m here for you.” is a better way to let anyone know that you’re truly there for them.

One of the biggest issues with cell phones and tablets is that no one talks to each other or communicates properly. The other day a woman took a call in front of me from her mother. Her mother wanted to argue and she said “Lets discuss this in person. There is no need to have this conversation over the phone. I will see you in a few hours.” She repeated the same statement several times because apparently she was dealing with a stubborn parent. When she hung up she said she HATED how people misconstrue things via text, e-mail, and sometimes even over the phone. She was totally on my level, saying how she’d rather be face-to-face with certain people because that way, there’s no misunderstanding whatsoever. It was incredibly refreshing.


I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. If I sense that someone is going through a rough time, whether they voice it or not, they don’t have to ask me to be a good friend or family member, because I do not lack common sense. I am not the world’s most compassionate soul (I openly admit that.), and I will never win awards for my niceness (The niceness gene died at age 12.), but I am emotionally present. That’s more than I can say for a great many people in my life and those I’ve chosen to get rid of.

If you love your friends, you fight for them. Their well-being is important to you and you don’t need to be insulting in order to get your point across. The same is true for family. I come from a very large extended family, but at the end of the day, they are almost exclusively people I happen to be related to (Who are banned from future book signings and appearances. LOL.). They’re not my everyday “I’ve got your back”, “Don’t worry about it.”, “No problem, I’ll help you.” family. There’s an immense difference. I have friends and family I’d do anything for, but with the rest… I’d break out the marshmallows if they were on fire.

Ultimately, not everyone you know is a good person down to roots of their soul. If you find those that are good, don’t let them go over petty idiocy. Learn how to say “I’m sorry” when you’re wrong or when you’ve hurt someone. Learn how to admit you don’t know it all. Be yourself, be real, GROW.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. So, I employ a “live and let live” policy. If you’re good to me, I will appreciate that and I will say so. If you’re a piece of shit to me, eventually I will make sure you know what I think of you. Or I won’t be so bothered as to waste the oxygen, that all depends on my mood.

If you’re a part of my life, I am grateful to have you in it. I keep my circle of friends close because of the value I place upon the element of friendship. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have true friends, and I really don’t trust women who don’t have at least 1-3 close female friends. It’s a red flag. Kind of like a man at a bar that still has a tan line where his wedding band should be, but tells you he’s single or how horrible his “soon-to-be” ex-wife is. Unless you see divorce papers, he’s full of crap and is a married man who hasn’t stopped dating.

I’m eternally appreciative that I am one of those rare people who truly doesn’t care if people like me or not. I spend no time at all wondering what others think of me as a person. Those that take the time to get to know me on a deeper level are the ones that benefit from my fierce loyalty and “ride or die” friendship. Those that burn me clearly don’t know that, like the Phoenix, I will always rise again.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Moody Musings


I’m in an ugly mood. I think I went to bed that way, to some extent, which only partially explains my nasty mood this morning. I (almost) never lock my cats out of my bedroom, but when they started their petition to shove me out of bed around 5:00, I silently got up, put grain free food in their bowls, and as they both moved to their respective bowls, I shut my door. About an hour and a half later the little one started screeching like the world was ending. I let her back in to abate the crying and then ended up locking her out because she was trying to claw her way through me. When I haven’t slept well, there is no amount of annoying behavior that will push me out of bed. I also don’t want to yell at them because they don’t understand it and it’s traumatic for them. I simply cannot bend, touch my toes, or turn my head/neck at the moment. It’s upsetting to be in this much pain and not be able to take care of basic things, including myself.


Injustice and abuse of power infuriate me. Alas, I don’t look good in orange, so going after a power-hungry cop, fresh out of the academy, who thinks his dick is as tall as he is, is probably NOT a good idea. With all the police issues in this country, I figure the asshole will eventually say the wrong thing to the wrong person. I have to believe there’s some kind of karmic justice at play here, and that I have to just take care of me and mine. However, factoring in that I cannot physically move and that I’m in excruciating pain, I feel like there’s some kind of evil joke at play here.

Several weeks ago, a church was firebombed in my area by someone who got early release after kidnapping two minors back in 2008. Tax dollars hard at work. <rolls eyes> Emergency responders were already in the area and able to handle the situation quickly, but $50,000 worth of damage was still done.

At the moment, there is a huge carnival going on at a different church. It usually lasts for about a week or two. Ever since it started, there have been break-ins ranging from small to large, even if people are already home and asleep. Whoever is doing it doesn’t give a shit if there are cars in the driveway, they’re still going to risk their lives for “stuff”. This is occurring not even two minutes from my neighborhood. It’s within walking distance. A woman walked into her house yesterday to find a man going through her things. She, in her infinite stupidity, asked who he was and what he was doing there! He hit her in the face and took off, but now it’s clear that it isn’t just one person. The various local police departments decided to let people know about all of this via social media. Every single person that responded said “I have dogs and guns, go for it.” I do not currently possess the strength to utilize a shotgun properly, so, God forbid, my only option would be something smaller. I highly recommend no one sneak up on me for a while.


Are naturally perky people drinking too much coffee, on a drug I’m not aware of, or are they born that chipper? Are they simply “bright side of everything” types? I truly don’t know because I cannot relate.

95% of the time I wake up like a sleeping dragon. Unless I am able to go back to sleep or take a nap, I’m pretty unpleasant in the mornings. For quite some time I was up at 4:00 a.m. every single day. I was in bed early each night, it worked out well for me. But now I cannot seem to fall asleep and stay asleep. Being woken every morning at 5:00 a.m. is tiresome, to say the least. You’d think they were being starved, but the opposite is true. They like routine, but they were also thundering up and down the stairs after midnight. Where do they get the energy?!

Studies claim that people who wear lots of grey and blue are depressed, and people who wear bold colors are happy. Don’t we all get depressed at times? Who the hell lives the absolute perfect, trouble-free life? Even Fortune 500 CEO’s have problems, but everything is covered up beneath the shiny veneer. FYI: I wear a lot of grey and blue because they’re two of my favorite colors. I hate red, but that’s not exactly a well-kept secret.

In simple terms, I feel moody as hell today. I’m pretty sure it’s a 50/50 toss-up between life and…life. I am trying to pull myself together to run errands and not commit any murders today. As an introverted extrovert, this means headphones are going to be my best friend today.

I hope everyone has a calm, pleasant weekend to look forward to. Keep cool, don’t get too much sun, and remember to reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes, even if it’s cloudy out and you haven’t been sweating. Sun damage and sunburn(s) are things no one wants to deal with.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


How To Be A Client An Editor Wants To Work With

Author’s Note: These are all true experiences. I will never name names, but I’m not going to filter my honesty either. If something I say here offends you, then you probably don’t want to be a writer. 


Not every client I work with is a breeze, but a small percentage are truly fabulous (One I had this week was wonderful.). There has been a tiny percentage over the last 20 years that have enraged me with their constant inquiries, rude comments, whining, tantrums, or those who simply do not understand the process.

It’s 2015, so I think it’s important for writers, especially new writers seeking publication by any means, to understand that editors are human beings. We have families, we have things that go wrong in our lives, and no matter how much we may love what we do, we’re just like everyone else. We have bills to pay, we have responsibilities, children to raise, meals to prepare, animals to care for, homes to clean, clothes that have to be washed, etc. Why would you treat your editor as a lower life form and expect them to respond well to you? I wouldn’t treat a stranger the way some people treat their editors, so here are a few things I feel are crucial information for you to have.

If you’re about to work with an editor or are currently in the process, even for the smallest project, here are some surefire ways to be a good client and not make said editor contemplate a move to a Brazilian rainforest (Another good goal is not to end up on a list of clients they’ll refuse to do business with in the future.)

#1- Don’t call or e-mail within 15 minutes of sending them your manuscript to ask if they’re finished. I JUST started. I’m on page three. Why are you asking if I’ve read the entire thing that you JUST sent to me? Precisely how does one get it into their head that a non-magical entity has just inhaled 100,000 words (or more) in 15 minutes?! It is annoying to the point of something more severe. Here, let me whip out my magic wand…  Don’t do it, and if you’re thinking about doing it, lock your phone in a drawer and change all of your passwords to stifle yourself.

A good editor will update you during the process, there is no need to nag. You may find yourself so excited that you can’t help but constantly send your editor messages, but eventually, even the best editor is going to lose their patience with repetitive questions. The only time it’s acceptable to keep track of them is, if by some strike of lightning, you never hear from them again, which happens to people on occasion. However, a person that responds to you and keeps you updated is working, and you probably aren’t their only job, so be patient. Take this from a person who is being nagged every few days by a client. If strangling were legal…  

#2- Don’t say rude, insensitive, inappropriate, idiotic shit. If an editor lets you know right away that they are dealing with any kind of emergency (We’re people, life/shit happens and it’s not always good.) decide whether or not you can hold out. If they are in the middle of the work, let them finish. Continuity is important. Hiring another editor to do what they’ve been working on is a headache because that person will only start from the beginning and make changes more suitable to their style, and that’s additional time, and money, being spent.

If they just started working and you’ve barely paid them, it’s okay to move on if need be, but don’t take hostility out on them or, if you agree that you can wait, don’t send them messages every few days, or weekly, to ask about the progress. Let them work. If I have to stop what I’m doing to answer your repetitive e-mails, I might not be pleasant, polite, or anywhere near the word “professional”. I might give you one word answers. If I respond three days later, that does not mean I was ignoring you. It means I was working. Don’t make assumptions. 

#3- Realize that every freelance editor does not have a team behind them and/or a slew of assistants. I’m a one-woman show. There are days I knock out 25,000 words in the editing and/or proofreading process and there are days I am only able to get through a few pages. The dirtier the manuscript, the more face time it requires.

#4- Read your work in advance before you submit it. You might even want to read it twice. Use spell check. Hell, use a grammatical tool so I don’t stare at the page flabbergasted by your complete and utter lack of knowledge regarding the use of the English language. “Did she actually write “ancestory” instead of “ancestry”? I think I’m having a stroke. (This happened to me Thursday.) That is not a typo (look at where each letter is on your keyboard), it’s someone trying to sound out a word and failing, miserably.   

#5- You may have a few self-published titles under your belt, but that doesn’t make you a writer. Yeah, I said it. Anyone can self-publish. If you don’t have an audience to sell to and a solid story, don’t make it out to be more than it is. There are some exceptions to this rule and they are people who have properly marketed themselves as a brand. I know a few of them and their decency measures up to the quality of their writing.

#6- You cannot self-promote anything that isn’t edited, clean, and ready to go. It’s childish and unprofessional, and it’s not going to work in your favor the second a prospective agent Googles you and finds your blatant self-promotion, for a book they may or may not want to buy, in places they probably don’t want to see it. They might like your chutzpah, because you will need those skills later on, but they’re not going to want unedited excerpts on every writing web-site from here to Calcutta. Know when to hold things close and even better, know when to keep your mouth shut. Unless something is a done deal contractually, zip it. Afterwards, I’d still refrain.

#7- Write what you know. If you’re choosing a place you have never been and will never visit, you’re not going to capture the essence of the most crucial things, and a local resident or someone who has been there is going to pick up on that immediately. There may be a lot of competition to write about things in major cities, but if you’ve actually made the statement that Johns Hopkins University and their respective Hospital are in New York City when it most certainly is not (Hello, have you ever heard of Baltimore, Maryland?! Unless I’ve had a recent lobotomy, they’re both still there.), I strongly recommend NOT making New York City your setting. (Yes, this happened. I had to walk away from the crazy because insistence does not make something truth.)

#8- Speak to me, on the phone & in e-mails, the same way you want to be spoken to. If you’re incessantly rude, eventually even the nicest person is going to snap. Ultimately, treat people the way you want to be treated, in all things.

#9- You may love your editor, but he/she is not your bestie. Unless we’re genuine friends outside of work, I cannot take time to counsel you on your marriage, friendships, parents, or children. Not when you constantly ask me “Is it done yet?” It’s NOT a piece of chicken.

#10- An editor who knows his or her shit is going to push you to be better. We are going to tell you to re-write, revise, and altogether tell a better story. It’s our job to dissect what you’ve written and help you make it into a cohesive, readable body of work. Telling you it’s the most fabulous thing I’ve ever read when it is not and kissing your ass for writing it “in three months” is NOT in my job description. I can tell when something took no time at all.

#11- There is a relatively long list of words I will cut out of a manuscript the second I see them in an overly repetitive fashion. “Very”, “Awesome”, “Seriously”, “Really” “Totally”, “Umm”, “Just” “Ya” as opposed to “Yeah”, are merely a few. The deal-breaker is “Alright”. I flip my lid every time I see it and you’re out there calling yourself a writer. Don’t insult me, I’ve been writing for 28 years and I’m almost positive I have always known that “all right” is two fucking words, not a creative amalgamation for the lazy. If ever I DID make errors like that, there was always someone present to correct me.

The occasional slip-up is not the end of the world, but if you regularly use the word “Y’all”, or any variation thereof, please exit stage door left so I don’t throw something. I realize it’s a part of some people’s daily vernacular, but if you’ve written it into a book that does not take place south of the Mason-Dixon line, I’m cutting it.

#12- If you want five hundred pages edited in 1-3 days, you’re either looking to hire a machine or highly intelligent zoo animals. Let me know how that works out for you. (This is a regular request. These are the same people who think this level of editing shouldn’t cost more than $30 U.S., not Canadian. I would rather starve for a week than do that much work for so little money. That’s not even my current hourly rate!)

The very best editor for you is someone you have fostered some sort of professional, communicative relationship with, maybe even someone you know who edits and who you have come to respect, but it’s not the person you picked out of a line-up as the cheapest person for the job. Unfortunately, sometimes you get what you pay for and other times you find someone amazing. It’s the luck of the draw.

At the end of the day, I do not have all the answers. I have 95% of them, but not all of them. 😉

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


I Wrote Today…Be Thrilled

I am in excruciating pain. From the top of my spine to the top of my thighs, I cannot stand the torturous pain that only seems to get worse with every passing minute. After a point, you really have to ask yourself an important question: Do I take ANOTHER pill or do I pray this will stop at some point? It’s been quite some time since I’ve wanted a morphine drip, but right now, it sounds good.

While this pain attacks my being relentlessly, cutting off my early (for me) bed time by waking me up, I actually sat here for over an hour pouring over what shall forever be dubbed as “the manuscript from hell”. At this point, I can honestly say I am forcing myself to work and get it done. I am NOT enjoying myself in any way, shape, or form. I keep thinking about all the Biotin I will have to take to replace the hair this manuscript is costing me. God help me if my work ever tortures another individual so much! 😦


On a more serious note, a fellow writer had her first book hacked by someone claiming to be an editor in India. After three months of “editing”, he hacked into her Amazon account, tried to pass the book off as done, and then stole her credit card information and, to my understanding, maxed out her card. He damaged her files to the point where she has just lost a year of hard work, work she cherished beyond measure. So now, she’s lost a book she was proud of AND she has to file all kinds of reports to avoid identity theft, and get her credit card charged back and replaced. This is nightmarish, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone ever again.

I want everyone that is a writer to be VERY careful when hiring an editor. I highly recommend sticking to your country of origin and asking for a contract and non-disclosure agreement. That is my standard method of dealing with all of my clients and while some of them may drive me insane at times, I have never, not once in 20 years, released their names or discussed what their work was about. It’s okay to say your job is driving you nuts, but as an editor it’s crucial to my reputation to protect my clients’ work.

At the end of each day, I don’t OWN their manuscripts. I can ask to receive credit as the editor for those that self-publish, but three months after a job has been completed, I release my hold on any and all files. I keep them for that short time period on the off-chance they will need me to fix something or need a backup copy, but after that, I delete the work. I have no rights to it whatsoever, and each contract states that.

If you’re writing a book, back up your files to something external. A thumb drive, a microSD card, an external hard drive, etc., and put a hard copy on a CD or DVD, and put it in a safe place. If you can put it in a safe, I highly recommend that as an option. Don’t EVER allow someone to access your work remotely. Do not give passwords out! Shield everything you put your name on and protect it with your life. There are seriously evil people in this world that are, without question, predators to some extent. Do not allow yourself to become a victim of anyone professing to be something that are, quite clearly, not.

There are plenty of legitimate freelancers and there are even more that are simply liars. Aim high when searching for someone legitimate to assist you with something so important. If you have any questions, I am happy to assist where I can.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.




I heard back from Facebook this afternoon.

I apologize to anyone that followed the Poison In Lethal Doses page or that had me as a friend via the site (you still have me as a friend, and you should know how to find me via phone if we’re really close, or e-mail.).

I want everyone here to know that even after confirming my identity, they have made this claim:

- Your account must list your authentic name and birthday. (It IS authentic, as in FUCKING REAL. I think I know when I was born, it's on all my legal documents! Are we going to crack down on all the hate mongers and question their authenticity? How many people have bullied children into SUICIDE? You're seriously worried about ME being REAL? I am astounded. Is Facebook run by modern-day Nazi's?)
- Personal accounts must represent individual people only. It's a violation of 
Facebook policy to use a profile to represent anything other than yourself (ex: 
celebrities, pets, ideas, objects). (Who the FUCK was I "representing" other than myself?! If you can't tell me the truth about what I supposedly did, you're lying. I don't interact enough on there to have violated anything.)
- Using your account to repeatedly contact strangers for business or dating 
purposes is not allowed. (Yeah, because on top of everything else in my life, I am a hooker and JUST on Facebook. Seriously?!)

Further proof of Facebook's cancerous tumor resides with a writer's group I joined. I was not the only writer/editor in the group and pretty much every editor was looking for work. One in particular said "Will work to pay my rent." I know the problem resides here because as soon as I created a new account to apologize to anyone that might need to know my whereabouts, with the intention of deleting the piece of shit later on today, and joined the group, I was locked out of the new account almost immediately. You don't need to be a brain surgeon to be able to put two and two together.  

If you are a member of this group, be forewarned. I was one of the first 100 members and it has now grown to nearly 3000 people. Someone in that circle has issues, and everyone ought to be very cautious.

Thank you to Facebook for proving what I have always said about it. I apologize to the few people I actually supported wholeheartedly via the site. I will continue to follow you as I am able.

As for Facebook, GO FUCK YOURSELF. And please be advised that I will let anyone and everyone know what a bunch of !@#$suckers you truly are. 

Perhaps I will start a Poison In Lethal Doses Pinterest page instead. As far as I know, they seem to appreciate my honesty and whimsy.  

Love to you all, HONESTLY. 

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.