“Whether musing on her metabolism or the potential of a dead body in a car parked out on the street too long, Molly Campbell has a voice that cracks us up and reminds us of dear old mom.”
2girlsonabench.com 

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LIFE HACKS

Don’t you love all of those great YouTube videos and articles on Facebook that tell you how to fold a dress shirt in forty two easy steps that guarantee it won’t be wrinkled when you take it out of your suitcase? Or the one that gives you a delicious recipe for ice cream using only bananas and laundry starch? I know. They are all so helpful.

I have a few hacks to add. Mine aren’t just ones for household application. I have hacks for just about every occasion. Here are three foolproof life hacks that really work:

Cocktail parties and small talk: they go hand in hand. You can either arm yourself with three all purpose questions that work across the board (Do you like dogs? How many pairs of socks do you think you own? Have you ever tried rutabaga?), or you can do what I do, and just send your husband to the party, stay home, and binge watch something. Avoids the small talk altogether.

Waiters and waitresses. They are altogether too friendly these days. So if one of them refers to you as “you guys,” or if you are unfortunate enough to have one who enjoys squatting by your table to chat about what they are majoring in at college, simply place your order and go to the restroom. After you wash your hands, play three games of Ruzzle on your phone before returning to your table, where your husband will finally be sitting by himself, musing about the fact that these days, one can major in Advanced Steampunk Architectural Music at the local college.

Your appearance. If you are a man, nobody ever notices your haircut or your face, unless you have had a huge mole removed from your nose, or you cut your own hair. But that doesn’t really matter, either, because men are immune from being judged by what they look like. For women, this is untrue–we are judged by our appearance all the time, even if we are running for President and have a higher IQ than Stephen Hawking (who, by the way, is no Cary Grant). So if you did not plan to go out and thus have absolutely no makeup on, but suddenly you realize you have to make an emergency run to the store for toilet paper because your husband insisted on having hot sauce on his baked beans for lunch and then those frozen jalapeno poppers during the PBS Newshour, and now it’s ten p.m., do what I do: put on a thick layer of bright red lipstick. Everyone you see will be fixated on your lips. No one will even notice your unplucked eyebrows or that your roots are coming in.

As much as I appreciate all of the hacks out there for storing plastic bags in Kleenex boxes, using hand lotion in your muffin recipe if you are out of vegetable oil, or polishing your shoes with Vaseline, I really wish somebody would come up with a hack for my husband. So if any of my readers know of a hack to stop a seventy-some guy from telling that joke about the short guy that goes into a bar, I would appreciate your sharing it with me. So far, the only hack that I have come up with for this particular life problem involves duct tape, and that just seems cruel.

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PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM

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I have been blogging for what seems like a hundred years. Every week. I have missed only a few deadlines, due to holidays or being sick. This adds up to something like five hundred blog posts. No wonder I am fresh out of things to say.

I have talked about housework. The vacuum is a favorite subject, along with Swiffers. I have wondered how my counterparts a hundred years ago did without labor saving devices. Conclusion? I am glad I was born when I was. Beating rugs must have been exhausting. I can’t even consider what it must have been like to have to boil laundry.

I have certainly written plenty about my husband. He plays the accordion and is in a near constant stage of confusion about something. He has unlimited enthusiasm and a kind heart. A great guy. But I have nothing left to say about him.

I have posted about global warming; central air conditioning (we lived without it for thirty years; what were we thinking); the fact that I hate to cook but love to eat, but now, thanks to Blue Apron, we actually have decent meals three times weekly; insomnia (I have a contract out on The Sandman); cats; my children; writing; and getting old.

I have what must be the opposite of writer’s block: I have written about absolutely everything. I have said it all. There is nothing left to do but start over.

Here’s the thing about my vacuum cleaner…

 

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WHEN YOU ARE TWO

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Vacation. Ten days with a two-year old boy. The best. Two year-olds are joyful people. If you happen to have a two-year old handy, here are some recommendations:

  • Lying down in the grass after dark and looking at the stars. You may have to jump up and run around the yard a few times as well, but your two-year old might just show you where “Juptiper” is.
  • Making lots of dirty jokes. We found that mentioning “poopy diapers” at inopportune moments was absolutely hilarious.
  • Fishy crackers are very delicious and sharable. We prefer the “regu” kind to the pretzel kind.
  • Picnics on towels. Can’t be beat. Don’t use napkins—just let the melon juice run down all over your chin.
  • Shirt hems are excellent for wiping runny noses.
  • Taking a tubber.
  • You know that Apple Watch app on your phone that you can’t remove? Two-year olds LOVE all the instructional videos. Over and over and over and over.
  • As a matter of fact, two-year olds can find stuff on your iPhone that you had NO idea existed. Daniel Tiger. Who knew?
  • The very best Little Piggy is the one who had roast beef.
  • If there are broccoli florets, carrots, and ranch dressing on a plate, the thing that is most delicious with the ranch dressing is a finger.
  • HUGS. You have to sneak them in very fast, because two-year olds are very, very busy.

I am now home, with only a husband to keep me company. He is no fun at all.

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SPRING BREAK

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The daffodils are in bloom. Easter is coming. So we, like the rest of America, are going on “break.” We have to take a plane to get there. This involves so many things:

  • What to bring. Complicated, because we depart in forty degree weather and land in eighty degree weather. This requires a complete analysis of my entire wardrobe in terms of “wicking” capability, how wrinkly stuff will get in transit, how many pairs of shoes are acceptable to include, and whether or not my tunics give me enough coverage from the rear.
  • Is the current terrorist activity at a level that will make for longer security lines in the airports here in the US, or can we show up at the airport at a reasonable time? If we get there two hours ahead and zip through security, what on earth will we do with ourselves for two hours at the gate? I took all the game apps off my phone, because I was running out of memory. Should I put Ruzzle back on?
  • Leg room. Breathing space. There isn’t any. So are we allowed to recline our seat backs, or no? What is the etiquette?
  • Blood clots. Who would have ever thought this would be something one has to consider when traveling? But now that we are “of that age,” we have to Google those exercises to do to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Geez.
  • Food. The stuff on the plane is expensive, dry, and tasteless. However, we don’t have a long enough layover to eat the greasy but quite tasty food at the airport restaurants. So, do I put an apple in my purse? Can’t put any nuts in there; somebody might die.
  • What if they lose our luggage? This is a worry. So I have to carry my prescription medications, my phone and Kindle charger cords, and anything else that be horrible to lose forever, like my new necklace from Chico’s. So my purse is very, very heavy.
  • Have you noticed that no matter where you are going by plane, it takes an entire day to get there? For instance, to go anywhere, you first have to go to Chicago or Minneapolis, or Denver, or someplace you don’t want to go? And have a layover, but sometimes the layover isn’t quite long enough, so you find yourself racing through terminals, jostling slower people aside, lurching down those moving sidewalks, and nearly having a heart attack, only to find out when you finally get to your gate that it has been changed? So then you have to race to another gate? Or, alternatively, when you arrive breathless at your correct gate, you find that the connecting flight from Dallas has been delayed, so you have to wait another hour for a plane from Charlotte to arrive?
  • Will I be seated next to an extrovert? One with an interest in genealogy, with roots that go all the way back to George Washington? Or that woman who wants to show me all her Pinterest boards? Should I bring my sleep mask and wear it even if I am not a bit tired? Or worse, will my husband be seated next to this person and engage him/her in conversation for five hours?

They call this a vacation. I prefer to think of it as survival of the fittest.

 

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A MOTHER/DAUGHTER CONVERSATION

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Molly D. Campbell is a two-time Erma Bombeck Award winner. Her debut novel, KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE, is a top-rated Young Adult crossover story about family secrets, love, loss of innocence, and family ties.

Marion Campbell Kammer is a 1995 graduate of Oakwood High School and Ohio University. She is Vice President of Talent at Talentworks, a boutique talent agency in Los Angeles. She has represented such celebrities as Melissa McCarthy, Mayim Bialik, Josh Brener, Luke Perry, Nick Carter, Sandra Bernhard, and Carmen Electra. She resides in North Hollywood with her agent husband August Kammer, and their absolutely adorable two-year old son, Charlie.

Sometimes they talk on the phone.

Hey. When you were in high school , would you have believed that you would end up where you are today?

What, in my living room?

Get serious. A top Hollywood agent, hobnobbing with the rich and famous. 

No. I knew that although I loved being in shows in school,  I knew that I wasn’t really destined to be an actor. I thought maybe I could go to LA and be a producer. I just knew I wanted to be in the television and film business.

So you ended up as a talent agent.

Right. When I got to LA, I interviewed with a producer, who advised me that if I wanted to produce, I needed to learn the business. The best way to do that was to work for a talent agency. I started out as an assistant, and the rest is history. I never became a producer, obviously. What about you, Mom? How did you end up being a novelist?

The empty nest. Once I managed to get two children out there and paying their own bills, it got sort of boring around the house. Rather than spend much time making casseroles or Swiffering, I started a blog. Which you never read. 

I am a busy woman. But I hear it’s pretty funny.

Thanks, honey. I know you’re busy, by the way. Every time I come out there, you are always on the phone making deals. And you never want to take me to any restaurants where I might see a movie star. 

Ugh. Mom. We don’t do tourist things.

Remember the time we were in the grocery store and I spotted Bill Nye, the Science Guy? That was a red letter day for me.

How could I forget? You ran up to him and started singing the theme song to his show: “Bill! Bill!” And you wonder why I don’t take you any place. So anyway, then you wrote a book?

Yup. And I was lucky that my publisher, unlike you, read my blog and “discovered” me. And the rest is history. Question: What do you think makes you a successful agent? Is it because you are so bossy?

Mom. Chill. Ok, maybe the bossy part. But actually, it takes persistence, tremendous confidence, excellent organization skills, and attention to detail to be a good agent. And people skills, because actors demand a lot of coddling, calming, and smoothing. What about you? What does it take to be a successful writer?

That depends on your definition of success. If you are talking about making big bucks, I have no idea, because I am not a New York Times bestselling writer. But if you mean how do you get people to read what you write? Persistence, tremendous confidence, excellent organizational skills, and attention to detail. Oh, and creativity.

Not plagiarism? You copied what I just said.

It was a good answer.

This has been great, Mom. I have a phone call coming in, and I have to meet a client for lunch at a restaurant where I probably won’t take you the next time you visit. It has been good talking to you.

You know I am proud of you, right? 

Of course. You made me what I am today. Well, maybe Dad had something to do with it. You know, the people skills part. Gotta go.

This has been great. Is there any way you could get me Matt Damon’s autograph?

Bye Mom.

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