Welcome to EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads
Today we are spotlighting Kara Martinez Bachman's
Kissing the Crisis!
Enter below for a chance to win a physical copy of Kissing the Crisis
from Kara Martinez Bachman
Kara Martinez Bachman's
Kissing the Crisis!
Life doesn’t end at 40 ... it just gets really, really weird. In Kissing the Crisis, humorist Kara Martinez Bachman takes on middle age with a kick-ass Generation X attitude and a willingness to try anything. Bachman’s comic essays recount her many absurd adventures in her forties, presenting a decidedly female approach to the midlife crisis.
Written for every woman who knows that turning 40 is no reason to become respectable, Kissing the Crisis is the field guide you need to blaze your own unconventional trail through the jungle of middle age. Bachman reports from the front lines of the battle to stay awake after 9 p.m., and her adventures will make you scream with laughter, cringe with embarrassment, and vow to tackle your own midlife crisis with a can-do attitude and a tasty cocktail.
Kissing the Crisis tells of Bachman’s fearless exploits such as searching for a child-friendly bar and grill for a parents’ drinking night; reigniting her rock ’n’ roll lifestyle by founding the world’s greatest ukulele-harp goth band; futilely trying to shush a foul-mouthed toddler shrieking obscenities in the grocery story, while everyone judges her for being a bad mother; overcoming her lifelong beliefs about gun control to learn target shooting, and absolutely loving it; and her many other wild attempts to live life after 40 to the fullest, even in the face of the harshest mommy judgment.
Bachman is a fresh, new, irreverent voice in humor, the spokeswoman of today’s middle-aged people, Generation X, who long ago lost the media’s attention but have been quietly redefining middle age as a time of freedom to be yourself without apologies. Kissing the Crisis is an inspiration to all of us living with a youthful spirit that says “Yes!” to adventure and a middle-aged body that says “Meh … let’s get ice cream instead.”
Grab YOUR copy TODAY!
Q & A with Kara Martinez Bachman about
Kissing the Crisis!
It’s a fun collection of humor essays that examine the questions faced by women when they reach their 40s and 50s. It tells stories and asks questions about everything from parenting to marriage to career. It tends to have a real Generation X spirit, but would be of interest to any woman who has reached, or is about to reach, midlife. It would appeal in particular to readers who enjoy essayists such as David Sedaris, Sloane Crosley, Erma Bombeck, Jen Lancaster, or the Sweet Potato Queens series.
What initially inspired you to write Kissing the Crisis?
I think life itself inspired me! I started to write it when I reached age 40, and in a sense, many of the essays were a little therapeutic in that they helped me understand better what it means to be middle-aged.
Tell us little about the characters in Kissing the Crisis.
Well, the main characters are my family, but the most colorful are actually people such as the bouffant-haired, beach-party-retro realtor that tried her hardest to sell a termite-infested foreclosure house. Or, the old German colonel who dances the bump to Donna Summer. Or, we can’t forget Brad Pitt, who sort of appears as a symbol in the first essay.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The writing was surprisingly easy. Because it was humor, I at times entertained even myself in the process, which was a surprise. As all authors know, the writing usually flows easily, but it’s what comes later -- the editing, and then the work of getting it to market -- that is much more difficult. It was securing a book deal that was actually the more difficult part!
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite chapter had to be the one about the French Quarter here in New Orleans. It is filled with sights, sounds, smells and weird visuals, and pokes fun at close-minded people. It also celebrates the drinking of beer and hilarious gloriousness of drag queens.
What are your future project(s)?
I am working on two things right now. One is another series of first-person essays, mostly about growing up during the 1970s and 1980s. The other, something I’m particularly excited about, is a novel. It’s historical fiction with slight overtones of gothic-style romance. It’s set in New Orleans during the 1880s, and I have spent lots of time researching that era so everything about the story feels real.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about this book/series?
It’s great for reading in bite-size pieces. Since the chapters can stand alone, it’s perfectly fine to read a few, then put it down for a while and resume at a later date. This makes it a great book for fitting in during little time increments, such as while sitting still in carpool lines or sitting in waiting rooms. It also would make an excellent gift for the woman about to turn 40!
Now an exciting excerpt from Kissing the Crisis!
Ukulele-Harp Gothic Pop/Rock Trio
“It takes a long time to become young.” --Pablo Picasso
I need to keep my fingernails cut short nowadays.
That is probably a good thing; it will prevent the taking up of nail bedazzling as part of this recent midlife glamour-spreading regimen.
There have no doubt always been big nails around throughout the annals of time; no doubt even the women of early civilizations donned such symbols of sexual aggression that bespoke a tiny bit of danger. There have always been such weapons.
There were nails aplenty among the inner-city girls of my youth, festooned in an array of colors and exotic detailing: glued on plastic slivers highlighting the digits in lime green or fuchsia; the dangerous looking, claw-like growths of a predator, bestudded with iridescent rainbows or holographic stars; or, for the more tasteful nail fetishists, a smooth and nude “French Manicure” that looked almost like the slick hood of a car, or the naturally shellacked underside of a cowrie shell.
I had never been a fan of the use of nails as either weapons or showpieces. It always seemed a time consuming and vain endeavor that always ended in heartbreak when a nail broke. Also, the question has never been sufficiently answered as to how one attends to certain personal functions with three-inch nails, each one shellacked with the image of a four leaf clover. How do you adequately pick your nose? Insert a tampon? Chop down a tree? Weld the bow of an aircraft carrier? I have also wondered--most perplexing of all--when a woman has little rhinestones glued onto her claws, how, exactly, does she make meatloaf?
It is clear that for some women, there may be useful purposes to such overgrowth and adornment. It is understandable that some may feel the glamorous look attained while hitchhiking or shooting the middle finger at fellow drivers outweighs any meatloaf encumbrances, especially when in the midst of a midlife crisis. But for me, it simply doesn't work. Form should follow function.
In recent years, I've instead been a proponent of the following “look”: nails a little brittle and yellowish, cuticles red from chewing, clipper cut straight across to the nub. I've been trying to bring back a look, unconsciously or not, which surely was quite popular during the Great Depression, as well as during the Summer of Love.
I wear my nails in this fashion primarily because I play the harp.
Now, surely many people out there are wondering, “The what?” But you know full well what I am talking about. You know I'm talking about the instrument you hear when someone in a romantic Lifetime Movie Network production is going back in time and remembering. We all know the characteristic “going back in time” sound of a harpist's digits rapidly rubbing across a few octaves of strings to craft steadily raising and lowering glissandos. As far as most people know, that is about all a harp does. It stands in an orchestra just waiting, waiting for the “going back in time” moments like this one:
[Young couple stands hand in hand in a field of wildflowers. Random butterflies alight.]
Fabio Romeo: “I love you so much; I cannot imagine what I did without you by my side. I cannot imagine what it was like before I had you to hold, to make me feel whole again.”
Feminine Woman: “My heart goes out to you and always will. It will be only you, for the rest of my life. I will always remember the day that we met, the day you saved my life!”
[Harp glissando plays. Special effects make image on screen appear to fog up and wiggle around (“going back in time wiggle”). We have now gone back in time. Feminine Woman hitchhikes, one purple rhinestone bedazzled thumb held in an upright position. A Rolls Royce slams on the breaks, and the man, very buff, with an angular jawbone and smoldering eyes, drives up alongside Feminine Woman and her large nail.]
Fabio Romeo: “I almost missed you, but then I saw the glint of the afternoon sun on your best hitchhiking nail and knew it was meant to be.”
Aside from setting such beautiful scenes, the harp is widely recognized as an accessory carried by the cherubs you see on Valentine’s Day cards. Apparently it is used by these chubby and precious ones to create some ambient music as Cupid goes around and shoots arrows into people, which usually has the express purpose of making them lust after Jake Gyllenhall.
To play the harp, a cherub floating in the heavens (or a woman sitting on her suburban couch) needs to have short nails. It is impossible to pluck the strings with even so much as a millimeter of nail extending beyond the nail bed. Were you to try playing without clipping first, you would end up with a mixed up jumble of sounds, with random clanging thuds and muddled, buzzy plucks that sound more like a cell phone vibrating on a table than like any type of angel’s song. Since I am in the novice years of learning my instrument, a set of Lee Press-On Nails would be an especially bad idea, despite their indisputable sophistication. A few would be lost with each arpeggio.
Except for the fact that we all have short nails, there is little else in common between myself and the average harpist. I am not slim. I do not have long, flowing hair. I do not own cats. I will never have some dumb “Bless this Home” Celtic cross stitch hanging over my front door. I have an inflexible policy that I will only play “Greensleeves” during Christmas week. I also have the very specific goal of never, ever learning to play “Danny Boy.”
Here’s the thing about the harp. Most people do not realize that the harp is also a required instrument in the most unique of musical genres popularly known as “Ukulele-Harp Gothic Pop/Rock.” If you do not know about this genre, which has grown from there being no bands of this type last decade to there being one band of this type this decade, then you are very much out of the loop. And it can be said definitively that our household has been solely responsible for this surge of popularity.
What, you may ask, is a Ukulele-Harp Gothic Pop/Rock Trio, and what do they play? More importantly, why do they bother to play it? The following "Behind the Music" style true-life scene will give you a glimpse into how such a creative force in the music industry had its beginnings:
“Hey, Tim,” I say to my husband, “quit playing 'Stairway to Heaven' on your uke. I'm practicing my ‘going back in time’ glissandos and can’t hear myself! You're too loud!”
“To hell with ‘going back in time,’” he says. “You need to do something different, something a little Gothic yet somehow still cutting edge, like ‘losing of the mind and going crazy’. Don’t you get sick of always conforming?” And I see that he has a point.
“Well,” I say, “I wonder what would happen if I tried out a little of that ‘losing of the mind and going crazy’ with your “Stairway to Heaven.” I could toss in some chords now and again, too, and make some wails that sound a little like Robert Plant!”
And with this, something new was born.
Why this collaboration was born and why it persists is a mystery. No doubt, as this type of music is in its infancy, it will be some time before it begins to take off and have mass appeal. The Top 40 charts still have seen nary a ripple from this growing musical movement--but we are working on it.
Some time ago, Tim and I held very limited auditions for a lead singer. We sought someone with charisma, with drive, with a real edge that screamed Uke/Harp/Goth/Pop/Rock. We chose my then six-year-old daughter.
Elaina: “Hey, what is a stairway to heaven? Can we get one? And what is a bustle in a hedgerow? What is a hedgerow?”
Tim: “Just sing and leave the analysis to the musicians.”
Since that time, we have really honed our craft. We have moved on and increased our repertoire to include some of the great works of the 1980s, namely the music of Tears For Fears and Weird Al Yankovic. Things are taking shape.
New Orleans native, author, journalist and editor Kara Martinez Bachman has had her work appear in dozens of magazines, newspapers, websites, literary journals and anthologies, including The Writer, Funny Times, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, Humorwriters.org of the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop, and many parenting magazines. She has read her work on NPR (National Public Radio) and has been a featured guest on other radio and TV programs. She is also Managing Editor of three editions of Parents & Kids magazine.