If you’re gonna hack a writer’s email, at least be grammatically correct

So, my email got hacked this week. Yes, my technology shenanigans continue.

But in a way, I must publicly thank the hackers, because they gave me some seriously positive publicity.

Like making everyone in my network aware of just how QUALITY my work is … which is good, because I recently launched my new business, “Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services” (I’ll formally announce that soon enough).

You think I’m joking?

Then check this out (LinkedIn):

LinkedIn hacker convo

And this (Facebook)!

Facebook hacker convo

OK, and here’s one more. The actual MESSAGE from the hackers. Note to them: next time, do a little market research on your target audience, first:

Hackers message

Maybe the hackers could hire me for their next “email marketing campaign.” At least then, their messaging will be grammatically correct and on-target.

When the technology gods all plot against you …

… it’s worse than the Zombie Apocalypse. Because with the zombies, at least you can run.

But the technology gods? They will rip every digital limb from your frail, vulnerable body. Like your computer, your phone, your email, your soul. Leaving you desolate and defenseless in the bitter cold.

That’s right. They are EVIL LORDS that deserve to BURN.


And just when your entire life hangs on a new business venture … 

Your day ends up looking like this:

9:00 a.m: Get out of shower. Begin breakfast.

9:15 a.m: Drag laptop downstairs to work in kitchen.

9:30 a.m: Open Google Chrome. “Cannot access website” message appears. Check internet connection. Nothing. Moan and drag laptop upstairs to router and modem.

9:40 a.m: Troubleshoot router. No luck. Plug modem into computer. Still no luck. Curse Cox Communications.

10:00 a.m: Call Cox Communications.

11:00 a.m: Get off phone with Cox Communications. Internet working. Drag computer downstairs. Eat cold food. Scowl.

12:00 p.m: Make first sales call. Verizon phone stops working, says “out of minutes.” Wonder how that’s possible? Just switched to unlimited plan.

12:10 p.m: Can’t access new Verizon account because PIN number never sent. Call Verizon customer service.

12:30 p.m: Verizon customer service won’t help without PIN.

12:45 p.m: Scream at air. Phone rings randomly … working again? It’s Boyfriend, calling from work. Cry into phone.

1:30 p.m: Write first follow-up email. Press “send.” Doesn’t work. Try again. Doesn’t work.

2:00 p.m: Rip hair out of head and wonder how the hell I.T. people do it!!

By the way, THAT was my day, last Monday.

computer_frustration 02

And it’s what will happen to you, should you ever piss off the technology gods and they all plot against you. So beware, my friends, beware …

The Secret to Getting Treated Like Royalty … FOR ONCE

If you’re freakin’ tired of being pushed around by your boss, or spouse, or just life in general, then you could use a little royal treatment. Right?!

So … if you wanna get treated like royalty for once, become a juror.

Oh, you think I’m kidding?

I just had my FIRST jury duty experience this week. Ever.

I was prepared to be spat upon, emotionally molested, and convicted of indecent exposure by nothing more than a raised eyebrow.

Then, of course, I reminded myself that I wasn’t on trial. This tends to happen with neurotic, overactive imaginations like mine. You get a tummy ache, and it’s automatically cancer, accompanied by imminent death.

But back to this whole jury thing …


I finally read the back of my summons the night before my scheduled doom. And, to my pleasant surprise, I learned that jurors are the judicial equivalent to the Queen of England.

Seriously. First off, the courts opened 15 minutes early, JUST for the jurors. The security guards literally unlocked the doors, scanned the numerous desperate faces begging for relief from the bitter cold, then announced a special entry for “Jurors Only!”

All other infidels would need to remain locked outside, on the unforgiving concrete, until 8:00 a.m.

Upon entry into the palace, I learned that jurors are allowed:

  • Validation for free parking
  • Complimentary coffee
  • A breakroom and fridge JUST FOR THEM
  • Breaks any time they want
  • To bring their own food

That last item, that’s the killer part. Because no one else is allowed to bring their own food. Not police, not witnesses, not even lawyers. Only the jurors.

Should you happen to enter with a lunch box in your hand, the security guards will part ways and announce,

“Here comes the juror! Let him pass!”


They even gave us a movie theatre.

And they didn’t play those crappy airplane movies, either. They showed Oscar-nominated films, people! From directors like Cameron Crowe and John Madden.

Oh yea, and did I mention how we got a personalized welcome from a JUDGE?

I think the next time I’m suffering from lack of self-esteem, I’m gonna show up at court and beg to be a juror. Because sometimes, we all just need a vacation.

Pull My Finger: My Uncivilized Life with Boys

OK, so you HAVE to admit … wit on a woman is sexy. I mean, freakin’ hot.

Which is why I’ve embarked on my latest mission to find some hilarious chicas (and chicos, coming soon) on the blogosphere.

The first one is guest-posting for me today! And you know she’s funny, because Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. “The Bloggess”) reads her stuff. Heck, Jenny PROMOTES this animated momma on her blogroll … which is how I found her.

So meet Irene Barnett, who blogs over at Left of Plumb! When you’re done here, go check out her blog; you won’t be sorry.

Pull My Finger: My Uncivilized Life with Boys


Farting sign

I am not a girly girl.

I am the one my girlfriends come to when they want a male perspective on something.

My favorite roommates have always been men.

Males don’t have hidden agendas and neither do I.

They are simple, single-cell sort of organisms and I like that.

Anyway, just want to set the scene.

It was with a mix of ambivalence and horror that I approached the idea of having children. But, when I found out that my twins were going to be boys, I felt this made some sort of cosmic sense.

However, being outnumbered so drastically has taken its toll on me (even our pets – a dog, two African water frogs and one husband – are boys).

I firmly believe that my lowered estrogen level is actually not menopause, but some sort of environmental hormonal pollution that is sucking it right out of my ovaries like some bad sci-fi movie.

Here are just a few of the behaviors that I now realize I have low tolerance for:

  • Burping and farting are high art forms and if my children are the Rembrandts of both, then I am the Edvard Munch.

painting[For the love of God, light a freakin’ match!!]

  • The bathroom smells like a subway urinal … after a hobo convention … where they served asparagus and brussel sprouts.
  • They think their junk is fascinating and don’t understand why the rest of us don’t agree and want to view it every chance we can.
  • They can only do one thing at a time, and even that confuses them.
  • They are hygienically challenged. I’m not sure what half of the odors are that I smell or what part of the body they originate from, but I will probably go blind from it.
  • They are incapable of closing a kitchen cabinet door. If they could, the kitchen would just be shelves, hooks and an intricate pully system like something out of Wallace and Gromit.

Wallace and Gromit[OK, I take this one back as an annoyance. That would be SO cool!!]

The sole reason I don’t end up selling them on the black market is simply this: they are the only humans who understand that I am the absolute pinnacle of awesomeness. Somehow, despite their rather base behavior everywhere else, they are advanced enough to recognize this one truth.

And I’m not willing to give that up, no matter how bad that fart smells.


Irene BarnettIrene Barnett is a working co-parent of twin boys and a rescue dog. She currently makes the rent by assuming the identity of a high-powered executive for a software consulting firm that is based out of Seattle, while she actually tries to live the life of a writer in Santa Barbara, Calif. (http://leftofplumb.com). Irene loves paddleboarding, movies, sitting and staring, and shiny things. She hates chickens but has a soft spot for hobos.

Photo credits:

  1. ms_saggitarius89, http://www.flickr.com/photos/55257360@N03/5223087250/
  2. rustybrick, http://www.flickr.com/photos/rustybrick/321252575/sizes/m/in/photostream
  3. patersor, http://www.flickr.com/photos/patersor/4802436959/

Dude, My Pillsbury Biscuits Taste like Raspberry Air Freshener

Pillsbury biscuitsDid you know that Pillsbury reduced fat biscuits will absorb the taste AND aroma of Bath and Body Works raspberry oil air freshener?

Well, now you do. Because I accidentally proved this thesis. And ruined my lunch.

(Take that, Einstein!)

This is one of those things where all the stars and planets and supernovas in the universe aligned just right … for me. Or rather, against me. But possibly for humanity, so no one will ever have to suffer through this excruciating ordeal again.

It kinda happened something like this:

Friday: I want tuna fish. Unplug electronic Bath and Body Works Wallflower oil dispenser to plug-in electronic can opener. Place oil dispenser on kitchen counter. Make tuna sandwich, revel in delight, continue with life.

Weekend: Boyfriend time (smile and blush)Wallflower oil plug

Wednesday: Cleaning lady comes over to help neaten house while I work from home. Saves me from myself, does amazing job. I pay her. She leaves.

Thursday: Come home from work, elated by pleasant house smells. “Mmmmm, raspberry.” Advance further into kitchen. Overwhelmed by house smells. “Ehhh, raspberry.” Approach counter. Discover purple puddle of oil. Then notice upside down oil dispenser (courtesy of cleaning lady) … never plugged back in. Holding nose, reluctantly clean and scrub. Aroma lingers.

Weekend: Boyfriend time (smile and blush)

Monday: Craving Pillsbury biscuits with dinner. Pop can, shove into oven, wait 13 minutes. Mouth waters. Eyes cry. Soul bleeds. Finally, oven beeps. Remove Pillsbury biscuits. Eat one, shutter from pleasure. Shove rest into bag, place on counter, go to sleep.

Tuesday: Grab bagged Pillsbury biscuit for lunch. Fight morning traffic, scream obscenities. Race through deadlines. Sit down for lunch—finally a moment’s peace—bite into biscuit. “What’s that TASTE?” Stare at biscuit, mind jarred. Events converge in brain.


My First Rock Concert … At 30!

I know what you’re thinking: “Shari, c’mon, I’m sure you’ve been to SOME concert by now.”

Well, yes. I saw Simon and Garfunkel’s reunion tour with my mom and sister. And a few years ago, I sat in the nosebleed section and watched Elton John make love to the piano.

But I’ve never experienced a serious ROCK CONCERT, where you’re banging your head and dancing in the aisles, and where the music pries open your chest cavity and literally grabs your heart until the lyrics become your oxygen — until last night.

When I saw THE BLACK KEYS live in Phoenix!

That’s mostly because, while I had my brush with the party stage, I grew up under the iron fist of a Jewish mother. And really, the concert just never happened for me. Even though my father is a professional musician, and music has always been in my soul.

But last night …

A new world opened to me. And I suddenly understand why concerts—true rock concerts by true musicians—can be so addicting. And GOD, I just had to share this experience with you:

Shari and her sister
Me and my younger sister, Becca, at our seats before the concert started.
On the concert floor
The guards let us onto the floor before the concert started to grab some photos
The Black Keys!
The Black Keys!!
The Black Keys
Freakin’ most awesome band … ever!

Anyone else here a fan of The Black Keys?

My younger sister introduced me to their music a year ago and I liked them. In fact, I attended with my younger sister, as part of her 25th birthday gift. But after watching these two guys perform, I’ve become one of their most loyal fans.

The Black Keys were electric. They fed off each other’s energy until the volcano erupted; I felt like I was listening to Jimi Hendrix on the guitar.

Do you remember your first rock concert? Please do share!

High School Poetry … and Stuff

After three years of living in my house, I’m finally clearing out the stacks of boxes in my extra bedroom.

I know … tell me about it.

Shari's High School PoetryBut whilst rummaging through old envelopes filled with random cards, scribbles and photos, I found some old high school poetry. And it really made me kinda sad. Because I realized just how creative my writing was, back then. And how much more I need to work at it now.

My boyfriend says “don’t be sad.” Because back then, my mind had the luxury of letting itself run wild. Nonetheless, blogs and social media didn’t exist when I was in high school. So I decided to give High School Shari a special treat, and publish some of her poetry, here. Please be aware that I cannot edit my blog’s theme to correctly portray stanzas, but you’ll get the gist:

The Other Side

Dwelling in the psyche of my mind,

Swimming in the heart of my soul,

Confusion overtakes to make me blind.

I cannot find

The cure to my soul,

Never so bold,

To find its way to the other side.

Drowning in the depth of despair,

Choking from the grip of fate,

My being, overtaken by its fear,

It would not hear

My cry of hate;

For Heaven’s sake!

Dear God, where is the other side?

Lost in a maze of pure anxiety,

Falling through the hole of naked deceit,

I desperately search for true prosperity;

Instead find impurity.

And so I flee,

For I cannot see

The Truth in myself,

Leading toward the other side.

A Random Paragraph, Untitled

You can’t say you understand. How could you possibly know … know what it’s like, to stand up on that stage, you … alone—and pour your heart out to an auditorium of people that you’ve transformed, all with motion and music and passion. It’s like, it’s like my heart is part of the beat of the music, and it’s not inside me, but outside me, encompassing me, pulling me with it. And when you’re done, and the lights fade, the audience cheers. No, they don’t cheer; they stand, and scream, and clap, and whistle … all for you, only you, no one else BUT you. It’s your time, your true time. How could you possibly understand that, unless you’ve lived it, lived with it for thirteen-and-a-half years, then not had it anymore?

Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we love something, until we no longer have it. Sometimes, we don’t know how much passion we felt for something, ’till it’s gone. So how—how can you understand it, unless you’ve had it?


Black and blue,

He sits upon

Steps anew,

Shattered dreams,

Hopes withheld,

His time is due.

Lost black eyes,

Dead stars within,

Watch the sky,

Search for worth,

Pray to find

The loveless lie.

Tender hands,

Their touch is numb,

Forever damned

By such hate,

Slaps and kicks,

For help he ran.

But now he sits,

His soul deprived,

He knows of hits,

That loveless lie.

“Come forward son,”

A voice consoles.

“Your father’s gone,

Come meet Don,

And he will take you home.”

(© All works copyrighted by Shari Lopatin. All rights reserved.)

5 Years Ago Today …

I know I’m on a blog hiatus, but today is very special for me, and I COULDN’T pass this up.

Today is my 5-year anniversary with my life’s love, Oscar. And I couldn’t resist sharing our story with you.

First off, no … we’re not married yet. But we live life committed like we’re married, because in our hearts, that’s the truth. So, if you have five minutes, here’s our story. Because as writers, life’s all about stories. 🙂

MySpace and Some Guy Named ‘Bhatti’

My story with Oscar starts before we actually met, when my friends talked me into joining MySpace (yes, you heard me correctly).

At the time, I was living in a small town away from friends and family, working as a reporter on a small newspaper, struggling with a horrible, unexpected break-up. MySpace, they said, would help me stay connected and vent my frustrations (thus my first introduction to the almighty BLOG).

“I don’t want to connect with anyone I don’t know,” I protested.

To which, they said, “Keep your profile private.”

So I did. And no one bothered me, until a few months later. One day, I logged into my account to find a random message from someone named “Bhatti.”

Hi Shari,

I see on your profile you only want to connect with friends you know, so I hope you don’t mind me contacting you. My name is Mike, and several months ago, you wrote an article for 944 Magazine on my best friend, Brad. Your writing is absolutely amazing and I’d been trying to find you ever since reading that article. My older sister is a writer, so I know good writing when I see it.


Curious, I wrote back and quickly discovered Mike attended the same church as several friends, and we knew many of the same people from high school (despite attending different schools). I even befriended Mike’s sister (you may recall her from an older guest post, writing professor Renee Ronika Klug).

Running Shoes and Stuffed Animals

Mike and I had fun hanging out sporadically the next few months. And one day, I received an email from him:

Mike was travelling to a Mexican orphanage with his church, and needed toys or clothes for the children.

Right away, I ran to my closet and gathered every stuffed animal from my old boyfriend, who was now engaged to another girl. I stuffed three garbage bags full of toys, and called Mike. Ridding my home of those stuffed animals felt freeing, and I couldn’t help but smile.

When I followed up with Mike three weeks later about the trip, “You won’t believe this,” he told me. “I sent that email to 300 people, and only two donated. You, and another guy. He gave me his old running shoes.”

Then Mike paused. “Come to think of it … you’re both Jewish, too.”

“Really?” I thought the coincidence was funny.

“Yes, his name is Oscar.”

‘I don’t want to meet any guys.’

I wasted no time telling Mike I had “absolutely no interest” in meeting any guys. I didn’t trust them, and wanted nothing to do with them.

“Not like that,” he said. “You guys are a lot alike and I think you’d make great friends. He went through a break-up only six months ago, too. Trust me, he feels the same way about girls.”

Reluctantly, I told Mike he could give my number to Oscar, but he should wait a few weeks. I was about to leave on vacation for Portland to visit my best friend.

Apparently, Mike listened, because a week after the trip, my phone rang while at work. Rushing to meet a deadline, I sent the call to voice mail, checking it later that evening. And behold, a deep male voice spoke to me from an automated system.

Five Hours on the Phone

I didn’t call Oscar until the next day. And I never expected what happened next. We talked on the phone for five hours!

We had the same sense of humor, liked the same foods, loved the same movies, grew up in the same city. He lived through a similar break-up, around the same time, and even read one of my articles that Mike sent to him.

“You’re such a great writer,” he’d said.

(An interesting note: How ironic that MY WRITING brought us together, first alluring Mike, who connected me to Oscar.)

Oscar and I met in person a week later, when he travelled north to Prescott, Ariz., training for a half marathon. But we didn’t like each other more than friends initially.


It took another six months of friendship before the sparks flew. And it all boiled down to a dinner at Native New Yorker.

That was the first night my core dropped as I watched him walk through that door.

Our simultaneous crushes grew—as did our bond—and on Feb. 24, 2007, we officially started dating. Less than a month later, we took our first trip together, to Guatemala. The rest, as they say, is history …

Happy 5-Year Anniversary Oscar! I Love You!

I’m so glad I was able to shout it from the virtual mountaintop. 🙂

TO MY READERS: Thank you for taking a few minutes to share in this special story and moment with me. I wish I’d had more time this week to develop a truly narrative story, but maybe next time–in a literary magazine!

* I’m still on my blog hiatus, so I’ll see you all again in another few weeks!

Miracle off 28th Ave. on Tuesday Afternoon

Happy New Year! And I’m taking a break … LOL!

Instead, please enjoy this short blog post I wrote a year ago. About a beautiful experience I had, and I’d like to share with you. Let the music begin …

A Miracle off 28th Ave. on Tuesday Afternoon

Posted on December 28, 2010, by Shari Lopatin

It started with a simple routine walk during my lunch break.

Through the same neighborhood and past the same ordinary houses occupied by the same aging couples. Wearing the same workout clothes, and pounding the pavement with the same 2-year-old tennis shoes.

I continued walking down my routine path this Tuesday afternoon, feeling the steady pace of my feet below, when I heard it. Like an angel singing to me from another dimension, it sliced through the deafening silence of the neighborhood.

Music. Pure, dramatic piano notes dancing in the gentle breeze. Climbing up my spine and into my ears, filling me with an electric energy I hadn’t felt in years.

I stopped in my tracks–searching to my left, to my right. From where did this heavenly melody arise? I knew this tune, one of the first I’d learned as a little girl: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music.

I suddenly realized this was no recording. It was live, and the individual playing was no amateur. Here I was, my work’s I.D. hanging from my neck, toes peeking through tips of old sneakers wearing away, standing in the middle of a retired neighborhood, and enjoying a live piano concert with the sun beating on my face.

My senses led me to the cozy, one-story house across the street from where I stood. With their windows open, oblivious to my undivided admiration, a shadowed face played for me.

Man or woman, boy or girl, I did not know. But their passion sang to my passion, their beauty filled my soul, and I drifted away as their music mounted higher into the crisp autumn air. I used to fall asleep this way, drifting to the sounds of hypnotic notes as my father played into the night.

That’s when I realized a miracle took place off 28th Ave. this Tuesday afternoon. I’d broken free. Away from Corporate America. Away from the cubicles, the computer screens and the repetition.

And I flew.

Your Funny Stories: ‘Santa’s Not Real?!’

Hanukkah began Tuesday night, and Christmas Eve starts Saturday. We are–indeed–in the Season!

And as promised, today’s special post consists of YOUR stories about how you learned the “truth” about Santa (remember my call for funny stories two weeks ago?). After you read the stories here, post your tale in the comments section below!

And keep the trail of hilarious tales turning:

1) “I was beginning to wonder… Is ‘HE’ real?… But, when my Mom said, ‘Just go look in the closet!’… and finding my Christmas… I was definitely deflated… my balloon had lost its air… I had asked too many times… ‘When is Santa coming?’ …and my joyful , anticipating days of  ‘Santa Claus’ had come to an end with a ‘pop!’… That special feeling of my balloon rising and floating again didn’t come again until ‘I’ became Santa for my own children…”

–Marilyn Griffin, http://babyjill7.wordpress.com/

2) “I was a young, innocent 25-year-old when I learned Santa’s not real. I remember that day as if it were this very morning. I had opened my e-mail in the desperate hope I’d wake to the wonderful news of, at least, a partial request. But instead, I found a grave disappointment waiting for me – a much beloved blog announcing, in no uncertain terms, that Santa wasn’t real! I slammed my laptop shut and rushed through the house in search of fortifying coffee. Once I had a cup safely in hand, I curled up on the kitchen floor and held onto my hope with everything I had. Santa has to be real!”

— Autumn Larrow

3) “During my kindergarten days, one of the ‘super cool’ 6th-grade girls blurted it out to me like a sucker punch in the school yard. I was crushed for a moment, until I realized how cool my parents were to play the game! All of this said, I still believe in Santa Clause … just not in the same literal way.”

— August McLaughlin, http://augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com/

4) On Christmas Eve our father would load us five kids into the car and drive us around Appleton, Wisconsin’s fancy neighborhoods to see all the dazzling Christmas lights. While we were out, Santa arrived. Dang! Missed him again.

A few weeks before Christmas when I was 8, we weren’t snooping, but we discovered that our father’s workshop in the basement—which was always padlocked during the holidays— was unlocked. My brother, oldest sister and I went in, and under a white sheet spread across the work bench stood my Barbie Dream House among all the other things waiting to be wrapped and signed by Santa. I opened my dream present and confirmed my suspicion. Yet, I also realized that despite our big family and modest income, our newly revealed Santas always managed, somehow, to be very generous. And that made Christmas even more special.”

— Deborah Anne Gray, Scottsdale, Arizona

5) “When I was 8 years old, I was THAT kid and totally ruined ‘Santa’ for my 3rd-grade friend! I told her that Santa didn’t exist. It devastated her. Her mom had to call my mom, and I kind of got in trouble, even though my mom secretly thought it was funny.”

— Jessica Williams, http://journalofamom.wordpress.com/

Thanks to everyone who contributed, and DON’T FORGET! Keep it going. How did you learn Santa isn’t … well, you know … and post your story to the comments below.

Happy Holidays!