“Hi Natalie, this is your little sister Isabella.”
(Image c/o comicvine.com)
We sat at a picnic table, shivering in the spring wind, and watching children play on the playground, this 84 year old woman and I. She was beautiful, with her thick, curly gray hair and stylish sunglasses. She shared, with her sister on the phone, memories of their playing with paper dolls together. My mind went back to my childhood, wondering what I would talk about with my siblings when we reached our later years.
Our favorite Saturday cartoon was The Super Friends. I wanted desperately to be Super Girl, but I would settle for Wonder Woman because of her invisible airplane. As soon as the program was over we would turn off the t.v. and race around the house saving imaginary people from pretend villains. It was a chance for our mom to sleep-in, or simply get a break from four active kids.
My older sister and I had a record player that we would blast after school in our room. We would sit in the open window and consider ourselves rebels as we sang along to Mickey Mouse. Later the record player was used to play songs that went along with a paper stage and puppet set. I am still haunted by one of the songs, “I Can’t Dance”, especially when a new song with the same line comes streaming from my daughters mouth as she listens through earphones to her High School Musical download.
Now we have busy lives, my sisters, brother and I. We have children and jobs and husbands. We have friends that steal us away, and live far apart. But I like to think that we are connected by games played, television programs watched, songs listened to… so many years ago. I like to think that at 84 we too will be on the phone discussing which Wonder Twin power to activate.
"I don't know if you heard that she died."
No, no, I hadn't heard. Yesterday I learned that the wife of one of my Barista friends died in February, leaving behind her husband and two children (one of whom was born just before she died).
I am so overwhelmed with their loss. And though I know they have a ton of support, I wish I had heard earlier so that I could have attended the funeral, or offered more timely condolences, or… something.
This is the very most difficult part of death for me- accepting that none of us can overcome it; none of us can take it away. My friend is a strong, strong person with great faith and so I know he and the children will be okay. From him perhaps I can learn that truly Death has no victory, Hell has no sting.
I am shy with my faith, reticent to share my beliefs with others. But I have to say here that this is why I am Catholic... I know that the things I am ashamed of have no power to take away my life and that through Grace every single one of us can be who we are without fear, either in this life or what comes after. I am so grateful that for me, there is an example of living beyond this life. But I also believe it doesn't matter, God... a higher being, Yahweh, or whatever it is named will welcome each of us across this uncontrollable milestone.
This powerful song reminds me that we have nothing to fear. Whatever your religion, please be my friend and listen to this. It is the one gift I know my friend would want.
Aaackkk… it was exactly what I was scared of, that when it came to the Q & A part of my release party there would not be any questions. I had prepared myself for a bunch of random questions before the night started. But although I knew it was a possibility, I had not prepared myself for the silence. What should I say? Of course it only lasted for a moment, but it was enough to make me nervous.
Wearing the hat of author feels confusing when I am with my friends. I am still trying to figure out what people expect of a more formal author interaction. After all, these people usually see me in my sweats, make-up free and hair in a ponytail. But here I was, dressed nicely, hair straightened and real make-up on. The difference, at least visually, was obvious.
Inside though I still felt like the same person, so how was I to act. Authentic as myself, certainly, but I also knew I was acting as the representative for my book. And I think that was the tricky part.
Now that my book is published it feels distinctly separate from me. In fact, it is difficult to remember that I wrote it. I don’t know if other authors feel this way, but although I know my characters and the story better than anyone, it now almost feels like a story I have simply read, rather than one I dreamt up.
In one way this is lovely… whereas writing is a very solitary endeavor, now I get to actually share the story with others who are enjoying it. On the other hand, there is now a public me, one that isn’t quite as defined as the wonderful characters in my book.
It would be much more comfortable to create that persona proactively, like I tried to do with my answers to the Q & A. But I am not sure I yet fully understand the question. And so, though I have never been good at sitting patiently in the silent spaces of life, like during the Q & A waiting out the transition period may very well open me up to a more authentic answer.
“A midwife? It’s like a nurse or something at home that helps deliver the baby. Yeah. I think that is what she wants to do.”
The incongruity of two, mid-twenty something guys, drinking their daytime beers while talking about having a baby struck me as funny and was elevated by the fact that I was there to buy tickets for a Super Diamond concert (like Neil Diamond for those who don’t know him).
The huge bar was empty, other than me, the two guys talking about babies, and a one man act playing guitar and talking to a table of drab looking women. It was not exactly the type of place I am usually to be found on any given Saturday, at least not anymore. There was a time in my life when I could imagine having hung out at just this sort of bar. Post college, pre marriage; that time filled with late nights and friends and not always the smartest decisions.
It is not a time I miss much at all. There was a lot of insecurity attached to doing the wrong things for me… so I don’t think I was ever truly comfortable in the role of twenty-something party girl. I like to think this wasn’t obvious to my friends, but the fact that I asked, “are you sure this is okay?” many times a night probably gave it away.
So reaching the milestone of enjoying a family lifestyle was a big cause for celebration. I am quite happy to be in bed by 9:00 p.m. at night; to prepare breakfast for my daughter and put the dishes in the dishwasher once she is at school. These are little joys that belong in my life more than dancing to a DJ ever did.
The two guys at the bar seemed very blasé about having a baby, but I know the truth…. And they probably do as well. After all, they were quietly drinking their beer on a rainy midafternoon rather than surrounded by a crowds in a rockin’ bar late at night.
“I’m not sure what imagination has to do with health…”
(Photo of 2012 Paris New Year's celebration courtesy of NBC News)
I’m watching the Rose Parade as I write this and feeling very ready to mute the sound. The announcers are driving me crazy… saying the most inane things imaginable. Perhaps they partied too hard last night, but they seem really grumpy.
One of the floats, by Kaiser Permanente, was: “Oh, the healthy things you can do:” A beautiful float with all sorts of ways of being well. Included in this was imagine. Their take on this- “Maybe you can imagine you’re not sick.” It was pretty clear they missed the point, but then I guess you need some imagination in order to get it.
After that they saw a beautiful float with landmarks from around the world. They described the Eiffel Tower as made from coffee beans; they’re comment, “It would be more appropriate if it were made from tobacco.”The last time I was in France, though, I saw many more people sipping amazing coffee than smoking. Happy 2013, France.
Today starts 2013… a year that promises many good things so I am going to turn off the parade (where they are showing a gimmick of two people getting married on top of one of the floats) and get started enjoying my first
day of the new year!
Happy 2013. I wish everyone a year filled with wonderful imagination, lots of coffee and every good thing you could wish for but one; so that in 2014 you have something left to strive for.
“Worst apocalypse ever.”
(courtesy of the crazy cat.)
Christmas is over. The presents are opened and the wrapping paper crumpled in the trash or folded neatly for next year (if you are one of those people:>). We have put away the nice china and silverware and I’ve begun looking at diets to purge some of my extra holiday pounds. I should feel ready to turn my thoughts to the New Year. But, uncertainty is in the air.
What will the New Year hold? Will our grief at the tragedies here and in CT lighten at all? Will there be anything good, like gun control debate, to come from it? Will congress find a way to stop acting like bratty three year olds and actually work to find a solution to our fiscal problems (not simply kick the problem down the road). And on a personal level, what will happen with my writing? Will I be able to revise my third story and find a home for it with a great publisher? Will UNTANGLING THE KNOT be picked up for review and receive a good one? Will my marketing plans for it come to fruition?
I suppose this time of year always holds some sense of the unknown. Yet this year, more than ever, it feels cosmic. Maybe the end of the world, as the Mayans predicted, on 12-21-12 was less an apocalypse and more a metamorphosis. We are at the beginning of something… so early into a new journey that we still have choices about where we will go.
I look forward to sharing the journey with you all, wherever it may lead and thank you for sharing yours with me.
“We saw Menopause the Musical here. It’s the kind of show you have to see with girlfriends.”
Hormones are interesting, don’t you think? When we are young, they make us do crazy things. And then, when we get older, they make us do even crazier things. In between they drive us nuts twice a month (ovulation and PMS
in case you aren’t as attuned to these times as I have become).
I don’t get it. I’m not technically going through the big change yet (no, not from Ellen to Oprah – I’m talking about menopause), but I already get night sweats. Last night they came on so strong I was actually sweating inside my ear, something I didn’t even know could happen.
What environmental factor, exactly, is all of this craziness supposed to be supporting? I mean, couldn’t we get our period without also wanting to shoot the person with a full cart who got into line at the grocery store just before we did? Wouldn’t you think God could have made it so that, in puberty, we could start to think guys are sort of worth our time without also needing to wear water-proof mascara in case our hair clip slips loose?
When my sister and I talked about menopause she assured me that until I went everywhere in flip-flops I had nothing to worry about. This seems like a reasonable, if somewhat terrifying, marker. What sort of extreme biological fluctuations must be happening inside women’s bodies for our body temp to go up so bizarrely high? The closest I might compare it to would be the way my body began to sweat and shake when I injured myself and was in severe pain. Could it be that our bodies are responding to exactly that sort of crisis?
The only sure conclusion I have reached is that Mary, the mother of God, must have been on the younger side of 40 when Jesus died. Because, I am sure that, had she gone through the wonderful joys of menopause before he died,
she would have made it a priority for him to get the system fixed.
“It’s a gift.”
My life right now is a lot about gifts… There are 4 family birthdays in September alone… with my dad’s falling on October 1st. So within the space of 2 weeks I shop for many different presents (not to mention the many birthday
party gifts to buy). Out of all of these, though, my husband is the most difficult to find.
So my overhear today was a gift in itself. The people were talking of the weather… a perfect fall day here in the northwest is always something to be thankful for. As the weather turns I find myself focusing more and more on the impending loss of our beloved sunshine. Viewed from this angle it doesn’t feel very much like a gift… it feels more like a taunt.
Still… if it is a gift, where are the wrapping paper and bows? Where’s the card that comes with it or the fanfare? Can gifts simply show up, unannounced and potentially unrecognized? Don’t gifts have to be acknowledged in order to be gifts?
Does God ever feel unappreciated?
I am 1:1 this year… one gift that missed its mark and another that hit right at the heart. But then my husband’s birthday is still to come and I am at a loss. I planned to get the laundry done early so he wouldn’t have to
(sorry to my mom friends here, yes, he does most of the washing and folding in our house.) But this morning he beat me to it.
I wanted to get him a special book… the one great idea I had, but it was out of stock. (Sorry honey!) We plan to spend the morning together just the two of us… will that time be enough of a gift, I wonder? Can I shine so
brightly on his day that he can’t fail to recognize it for the gift it is?
I hope so… because as of yet, it’s the best idea I have. I’ll take any ideas you have, so send them on over when you can. And in the meantime, we will all be grateful for the wonderful sunny day.
“Donkeys will only walk if they can see the end point.”
Now… I can’t vouch for how true this is. I did a bit of research and couldn’t find it on the internet anywhere. But, I can see that it could be true.
The discussion stemmed from something we learned while on a mine tour in Virginia city earlier this week: Donkeys were used in the mines because, 1. They were smaller than horses but 2. Apparently you only need to show a
donkey how to do something one time and they will then repeat it. I’m not sure if this means they are clever or stupid… but I DO know I often wish my child had this characteristic.
As to seeing an end point… many experts talk about this as the ideal goal setting technique. Breaking a larger goal up into manageable chunks is far more likely to be successful than attempting to tackle the entire thing at one time.
This, in fact, was how I began writing. It is a daunting idea to consider writing a publishable novel as a brand new writer. Instead… my only goal was to finish. It didn’t matter what I wrote, I simply wanted to know I could write an entire novel. My next goal was to learn to edit it… then to market it… then to publish it. And I continue to set goals using that book, BETTING JESSICA, but only attainable ones; like figuring out more about how Kindle works by pulling my book down, editing it, and re-publishing it.
And as I am on vacation right now, my end-point for my blog would be exactly… here!
“I’ve got a feeling…that tonight’s gonna be a good night….”
We lay in bed rocking out to the music that floated through our open window. From outside the celebratory sounds of a wedding party crashed the night.
It was one year ago today that I was honored and lucky enough to attend the most fantastic wedding in my life. No, not my own, but a friend’s wedding in Italy. Every detail, from the ceremony in an ancient church, to the fireworks that lit the sky over the medieval castle where the reception was held, was perfect.
But not all weddings go so smoothly. Some are unlucky, some were badly planned, and some were never meant to be. We’ve probably all attended at least one wedding where something major went wrong. And even my friend’s wedding in Italy had a couple of stumbles; the bus that couldn’t squeeze down the narrow, country road to the castle…. Or the train on the wedding dress that tripped the bride and groom as they did their first dance. But little issues like these are what make what would otherwise be too choreographed become real; human.
I am thrilled that in November Soul Mate Publishing will be releasing the digital version of my story, UNTANGLING THE KNOT (check here for a little more info about it
). I loved writing this story because it takes place around a wedding; one with its own share of problems. And what could be more fun than that… Well, other than possibly attending the rocking wedding party I heard this weekend!!!
My Friends, Steven and Melissa - outside
Fiesole Cathedral; July 30, 2011