SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO
1. No is a complete sentence.
Just say no. Can you drive Aunt Myrtle to the airport Wednesday afternoon? “No, I can’t.” Period. Once you start to explain why you cant, you’re doomed because you have opened the door to negotiation. Let’s practice.
Them: “I know it’s late notice, but will you please bake 50 cupcakes for tomorrow?”
Us: All together now, “No. I can’t.”
Them: “Uh, okay. I guess I’ll find someone else then.”
Us: To husband, waiter or child over the age of 12, “I’ll have a margarita, thanks.” So simple.
2. You will never change someone’s mind about religion, politics or sex.
“I believe god is a rabbit, I believe Candidate Happy Pants to be the finest person alive, and I believe a girl can get pregnant by jacuzzi water.”
No matter how many facts in your arsenal, you will not convince this person that god isn’t a furry mammal, Candidate Happy Pants is batshit crazy, and the only way to get knocked up by jacuzzi water is if there is a man named Jacuzzi Water.
So change the subject, careful to avoid anything climate-related. Safe topics include favorite colors, kittens, and lawn care.
3. You cannot rescue a person unless you are a fire fighter or Navy Seal.
This one is counterintuitive because, come on, who hasn’t met a sad sack who gave us cause to think, yeah, I could fix that.
It is possible to carry someone from a burning building and administer CPR to get him or her breathing again. But in terms of being the wind beneath their wings, it’s all hot air. People do not change. *You cannot make someone happy.
*Unless you’re a pharmacist.
4. Be specific when you ask the universe for something.
Talk about learning the hard way. I once asked for a man. I was sent a man with multiple personalities, an eating disorder and no income whatsoever. So I revised my prayer to include men with one personality, a good appetite and a job. I was sent an angry, bitter man who was morbidly obese, and who worked, literally, at a puppy mill.
I don’t know how it’s going to pan out now that he’s married, but I am expecting George Clooney to ring my bell any day now. (Yes, I meant it the way it sounds.)
5. Trust your instincts.
Every single time I second guess myself it results in unmitigated disaster. If only I’d have gone with my gut when my husbands proposed, stuck with my first answer on the algebra exam freshman year of high school, and shook out the bed linens before hitting the hay in the cottage on Spider Lake.
For some reason we have “evolved” to the point of basic stupidity. Cave people sensed danger, and hauled ass in the opposite direction. What do we do? Talk ourselves out of it! Na, he can’t be that bad. I’m sure they named it Spider Lake because it has eight long, slender inlets, not because the place is overrun with arachnids the size of badgers.
Several years ago I was travelling in Europe with my cousin Colleen. We had just boarded our flight from Prague to Rome when a Middle Eastern gentleman glanced out the window and started shouting, “There’s my suitcase going into the plane! Allahu Akbar!”
I looked out the window and saw luggage being fed into the plane on a conveyor belt.
“Allahu Akbar!” he yelled again.
“That’s it,” I told my cousin. We are outta here.” I told the flight attendants to open the door and let us out. We were informed the jet way had already been removed, at which time I became hysterical. The jet way was reconnected and we hurried off the plane. Our luggage went to Rome without incident. Apparently the man had lost luggage in the past and he was just really happy to see his suitcase make it onto the plane.
We took a train to Rome, which was robbed just outside of Florence. They got our purses and my camera case, but they did not get our suitcases. Why? Because, thanks to my finely honed instincts, our luggage was on a carousel at Rome airport, going round and round and round.
Good luck. Some people have all the luck. If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Luck. Is there such a thing? If we believe ourselves to be lucky, or unlucky, do we unwittingly stack the deck?
This question makes me think of the times I felt certain something wonderful was going to happen, and then it…didn’t—at least not in the way I envisioned. For example, one time I was 100% convinced that I had purchased the winning Lotto ticket. I’d never had such a strong premonition before. Needless to say, I did not win, or rather than writing this post from my home office in Delafield, Wisconsin, I’d be dictating something completely different from my sun-splashed villa overlooking the azure waters of the French Riviera. But on the day I bought the unwinning lottery ticket, I was not run over by a bus. Luck? You tell me.
Another time the odds were way more in my favor. My boyfriend was a musician who lived in New York City. Every Friday afternoon I’d get on a plane in Milwaukee and fly to NYC for the weekend.
Very early one Sunday morning, on our way back to his apartment after visiting friends, he informed me he had to stop at Electric Lady recording studios to drop off some tapes. (These were analog years, before the earth cooled.) Our cab pulled up outside a dark brick façade with no windows—just a heavy steel door. My honey told me to wait in the cab. I said I wanted to come inside. He said the Rolling Stones were in the studio and he wanted me to WAIT. IN. THE. CAB. He was adamant on this issue, like he was worried I’d run off with Mick Jagger. As if.
Feeling lucky, I waited until my boyfriend was out of the cab, then I threw a $20 at the cabbie, and slipped out the opposite side of the taxi. I was able to stick my foot between the big steel door and the jamb just before it closed.
If I was going to run off with Mick Jagger I needed my lipstick to be in order, so I ducked into the ladies room. On the way out of the ladies room, lips glossy and just a little smudgy, the pocket of my jacket caught on the European-style door handle. I stumbled backward, flailing to regain my balance, but it was no use.
I came down with a thud on something bony, and possibly human. The door to men’s room opened and Keith Richards walked out. He looked down at me, and laughed. I could feel the person beneath me struggle like a dung beetle flipped onto its back, and I was both glad someone had broken my fall, and also curious to see who it might be.
“Get off me, you cow!” the person said with a lilting English accent.
In Wisconsin being called a cow would be an insult for sure, but in British I’m fairly certain it means, ‘hey pretty mama, how’s it goin’?’ I craned my neck to see upon whom I had landed, and caught a fleeting glimpse of Mick Jagger just as he hoisted me off of him, sending me sprawling across the floor. (He’s super strong for a rock star.) That is the exact moment at which my boyfriend came around the corner.
“No. No, no, no,” he muttered.
“s’up,” I said from the floor.
Keith helped me to my feet as my “boyfriend” slunk out the door. Mick dusted himself off and gave me the British wink—in the Midwest it would have been considered a withering glare, but I could tell he was really into me.
I am nothing if not loyal, so I graciously informed Mr. Satisfaction that I had to get back to my boyfriend, and I left, confident Mick would find someone else. If he was lucky.
(I had a bit of unluck in Luck, WI last weekend, which is why there is no update on cold beer, bare feet and dancing in the street. I will return to Luck one day, and write about it then.)
Leo Carillo Beach, Malibu, CA March 10, 2008 (This is, in fact, where all the writers in Los Angeles “work.”
People ask me where the idea for Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale came from. Here’s the skinny: it was originally written as a short story/novella – 42 pages. I was at the lowest point in my life – living in L.A., away from my family, not a happy camper. One night I saw a news segment about Feng Shui and how big corporations, hospitals and even theme parks were using it to their advantage, and a seed sprouted in my brain.
For the next 6 weeks all I could think about was whether someone could perform Feng Shui, and change someone else’s luck. At that point, Charlotte Nightingale popped into my head (or onto my shoulder) and she pretty much dictated the story to me. The next thing I knew Madonna was interested. My lawyer stepped in and a bidding war over the film rights ensued – 72 hours later we set a record for the sale of film rights to an unpublished manuscript by an unknown author.
In essence, I wrote a story about a girl with the worst luck in the world, whose luck changes overnight because of Feng Shui, and my luck changed overnight – because of Feng Shui! (Next I plan to write a story about a woman who can eat all the chocolate in the world and her thighs just get thinner.)
I was hired to adapt the story into a feature film screenplay and in classic “the universe will unravel your pretty little life sweater like a demented cat” fashion, all my executives at New Line Cinema were fired and my project was shelved. (The original #CharlotteMoment.)
Two years ago I decided to revisit Charlotte Nightingale and write a full-length novel. I finished it just before I returned to Wisconsin, and my family, in March of 2013. One day I picked up the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and saw an article about Kira Henschel and her company Henschel HAUS – a small but successful publisher. I figured, what the heck, and I sent a query email. Ms. Henschel asked me for the first five chapters that same day, and that same day she read them and agreed to publish Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale. A week or so later the contracts were signed, edits and rewriting commenced and the book was released on June 21, 2015 – the summer solstice, which I have no doubt is a very auspicious date.
I guess lightning (or at least Feng Shui) does strike twice!
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
Pooh. Sigh. Such a very wise bear. What would life be like without anticipation? Without the butterflies in your stomach days before you leave for vacation? Heart flip-flops when you see the love of your life roll up the driveway? (God, I love the UPS guy on Birchbox delivery day!)
This summer I want to recreate the feeling of being 17 again, in Wisconsin, in all its wild, barefoot, firefly, swimming-in-the-lake, carefree glory. This means suspending the natural cynicism we develop after the age of 17, and embracing, full throttle, giddy anticipation.
That moment before you have the first juice-down-your-chin mouthful of ice-cold watermelon is the sweetest. The nanosecond before you launch yourself off the pier sets your molecules buzzing with the promise of a refreshing jolt.
As with everything in our human bodies as we age, we begin, it seems, to lose the ability to anticipate really good cool stuff, and instead we get all practical and common sensey. “You can’t be disappointed if you don’t expect too much.” Oh phooey. If that’s a person’s M.O. then they are missing out on one of the best genuine feelings a human is capable of, and what a dreadful gray boring way to live, even if it does mean you’re rarely disappointed. Disappointment is like rain anyway. You need its sogginess to fully appreciate joy.
I have no idea what the Lucky Days festival in Luck, WI. will actually hold this weekend, but I expect, in this little hamlet of barely 1200, to be reminded of the small town where I grew up—a town which has become gentrified, McMansionized, and strictly forbids anyone to go barefoot within its imported cheese shops and $300-a-bottle olive oil dispensaries.
There are two lakes in Luck, both with piers aplenty. The beer will be cold, the watermelon juicy, and I am told I can go barefoot just about anywhere. I’m already aflutter as I think about what the warm evenings will smell like, and how clammy/terrific it feels to wear a wet bathing suit under your cut-offs and T-shirt, creating a dark damp spot on your butt and boobs that reminds you for the rest of the day that you jumped into a lake and swam like a kid.
Is there a chance I could be disappointed? That my expectations are too high? That the anticipation won’t match the reality? Hell to the no. I’m going in full-metal-jacket take-no-prisoners Notorious RBG prepared for anything they lob my way, because it is in fact summertime, and there really are two lakes with piers, and I am 100% certain my bathing suit will get wet and my shorts and top will show it. And in that little window of time, I will be 17 again.
What makes you giddy with anticipation? Hit me up—I’d love to know! And the 20th person to shoot me an email telling me who belongs to the moniker Notorious RBG will win a Kindle or eBook copy of Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale.
July 2015 Edition
“A deftly crafted novel of wit and whimsy, with memorable characters caught up in a story of unexpected twists and turns, “Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale” by Pam Ferderbar is an enormously entertaining read from beginning to end. Certain to be an enduring popular addition to community library General Fiction collections.”
Note from Pam: When Charlotte Nightingale was published there was no one happier than my Swiss “sister” Simone, who since I met her 20 years ago has been there for me in so many ways. We have seen each other through much joy and great sorrow, and we’ve even worked together on some photo projects. Simone is the real deal; a woman’s woman, and a mack daddy photographer. She has graciously agreed to write a guest blog about connections, and the power of energy (feng shui anyone?). We had this picture made with my dad, Tom Ferderbar, in Los Angeles on May 14, 2012.
You know when sometimes you run into people and there is an instant connection? It feels like they’re your sister or brother? Somebody you’ve known for your entire life? It puts a smile on your face, there is this safe feeling that this person will be in your life forever. It’s like finding a house, a place to live. You walk in the door and you feel at home. It’s all about energy.
I met my sister almost 20 years ago. Her height, green-eyed presence, and especially her verbal expressions took me off guard (and still does). She was dealing with a lot (and I’m talking a lot) of quirky, funny, unbelievable moments in her life that she literally attracts. A different sister, Charlotte, came alive.
I’m still laughing.
Simone Van Kempen is a Los Angeles-based photographer who captures moments of love, happiness, sensuality, and joy. She is most happy making people feel good and chronicling their inner beauty with her camera. View her work at www.simone-photography.com.
Feng Shui Charlotte Nightingale by Pam Ferderbar
July 7, 2015 by booksplurge Leave a Comment
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Feng Shui Charlotte Nightingale by Pam FerderbarFeng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale by Pam Ferderbar
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Buy the Book • Published by HenschelHAUS Publishing on June 21st 2015
Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale’ is an uplifting and hilarious fable about empowerment and perception, and the magical things that happen when we …
What a laugh out loud entertaining well written book! I absolutely adored Charlotte and Kwan, Joey not so much but that’s to be expected, when you read the book you may or may not agree with me about Joey……….. Charlotte is a fun character and I love how she evolves throughout the book, her luck changes as well. The situations that Charlotte finds herself in are hilarious and make for great reading. I needed a nice light book to read and this book delivered. The side characters are funny as well and Charlotte’s family is such a hot mess! I actually had a smile on my face for most of this book. What a fun story, take this book on vacation, you will not want to put it down.
Blog Tour: ‘Feng Shui + Charlotte Nightingale’ by Pam Ferderbar (2015)
I’m excited to be part of another blog tour today, this time for author Pam Ferderbar’s debut novel ‘Feng Shui + Charlotte Nightingale’, which was released on the 19th of June. Next to this blog I am also part of the review team over at Chick Lit Club and that’s how I got into contact with Pam Ferderbar. She was looking for bloggers to review her novel and next to reviewing the book for Chick Lit Club, I also managed to secure a spot on the blog tour for the book! I was curious to read the novel since it appeared to be an original and funny read and I looked forward to sitting down with it.
There are people who are always lucky and people who can never seem to catch a break; Charlotte Nightingale definitely belongs to that last category. She has a horrible job with a terrible boss, her car is a piece of junk, her boyfriend is a cheating jerk, and don’t even get started on the bad plumbing in her apartment which results in her never being able to finish washing her hair. When Kwan, a Chinese food deliverer and Feng Shui expert, meets Charlotte, he decides she could use a bit of luck in her life so he secretly decides to help her out, Feng Shui style. However, Charlotte’s life only seems to become an even bigger mess and before she knows it all kinds of weird things start to happen. As Charlotte embarks on this adventure, she not only finds herself in the strangest situations but also starts to think about her life and what it is she exactly wants from it.
Pam Ferderbar’s debut novel is an original and uplifting read which I got to enjoy more and more as the story progressed. The book switches between the perspectives of three of the characters; protagonist Charlotte Nightingale, her on-and-off again boyfriend Joey (also known as Frank since he is a Frank Sinatra impersonator) and Chinese food delivery-man Kwan. I have to admit it took me a bit of time to really get into the story. I had to get used to the author’s writing style and I didn’t straight away warm to Charlotte. However, as the story progressed, I got to enjoy it more and more and was really curious to see what would happen to Charlotte and what crazy situations she would find herself in next.
The novel is definitely over the top and a bit ridiculous at times, but this fitted the story and adds something distinctive to the authors writing style. I didn’t really know anything about Feng Shui before picking up this novel, but it was a fun topic to centre a story around and Pam Ferderbar did a good job incorporating it in an entertaining read. Overall, ‘Feng Shui + Charlotte Nightingale’ is a light, uplifting and fast-paced read with an original touch to it. I’ve read that a sequel is already in the works and I have to admit I’m already curious what will be next for Charlotte Nightingale! ~ Jody, A Spoonful of Happy Endings, Netherlands
“Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.” ~Harry Emerson Fosdick
I love that quote, and in honor of our nation’s independence I’m going to do the all-American 4th of July thang…and take the liberty of drinking margaritas! (Donald Trump can just suck my lime on this one.) Here’s the best watermelon margie recipe ever!
Lemon or lime wedge
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce Aperol (An Italian aperitif made of bitter orange, rhubarb, herbs and other good stuff)
4 watermelon cubes
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce agave
Large ice ball
Cut a slit in a wedge of lemon or lime and run around the rim of a glass; dust with coarse salt. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Aperol, 3 watermelon cubes, lemon juice and agave. Shake and strain into glass over a large ice ball (find molds in specialty cookware shops). Dip a watermelon cube in salt to taste, spear with a skewer and balance on rim of glass. Recipe can be doubled to serve 2.
Back to Fosdick for a moment. (I am nothing if not queen of the ultra smooth segue.) I really like his quote on liberty because it cuts across every divide, and we’ve got plenty discord these days. If we could all just sit down and enjoy a beverage together, and maybe even swap footwear so we’d know what it’s like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, then maybe liberty would be a bit less dangerous. Just a thought.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend!
(Who is Harry Fosdick, you ask? He was a Baptist preacher who in the 1920s and 30s made a big splash by advocating for a clear division between religion (Christianity) and government.)