Tag Archives: writing

Amazing Friend

Is there a more beautiful word than ‘friend’?

One who takes the time to know the real you.

Who thinks of you, even when far away.

I am lucky to have such a friend.

Though going through some hard times,

she took the time to think of me.

And surprised me with this T-shirt.

I am awed and amazed.

In six little words it touches on my nursing and editing work,

and my Grandma status.

editing

Yes (comma) let’s save lives and not eat Grandma.

Thank you again, my friend.

I hope I am such a friend in return.

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How Can I Not Be?

I sense the sun before I see it. I know it’s morning but I don’t want to acknowledge it, not yet. Awareness slowly seeps into me, seemingly one cell at a time. Automatically, I brace for that familiar sensation. That burn, that unbidden fire.

I realize I’m lying on my side, that side. The fire is quiet, muted, muffled. Perhaps compressed out of existence between my weight and the mattress. Oh, if only.

There is movement beside me. I don’t turn and I don’t open my eyes. I stay still. Enjoying the quiet of my body along with the quiet of the morning. Footsteps pad out of my room.

Water gushes in the kitchen; teapot hits the ceramic stove top. I wait for its piercing whistle.

Soon, a spoon clinks round and round inside a cup. From my bed and behind my closed eyes, I can see the circling swirls of cream and sugar turning that fragrant black liquid into a beige concoction.

Footsteps return to my room.

“Wake up, sleepyhead.”

I hear the clunk of the coffee mug set down on the table, near my head.  The aroma is eye-opening. I inhale its scent as I carefully pull myself to a sitting position, testing, testing.

Before I can determine where it hurts, or if it hurts, a toasted bagel joins the steaming mugful.

“You all right, baby?”

How can I not be?

Woman, Interrupted

I have been remiss. I’ve been consumed with the fire at my side. In my side. It’s amazing how encompassing it has been. Everything was pushed aside. Shoved aside. There were no neurons left over to expend on all of my daily activities.

My reading slacked off, especially my on-screen reading. The fact that the screen would do a periodic disappearing act didn’t help. I am now so far behind with my emails, hundreds that have piled up in the interim. I don’t believe I will ever catch up.

There were the faithful emails from Elise, my Spanish Word of the Day lady. Some of the words would amaze me. I didn’t realize I knew them so that when I punched her email open on my cell phone, I would think, Aha! I am more fluent in my native tongue than I give myself credit for. It felt like a small victory.

The emails from my quilting site only served to underscore what the hundreds of cuts of fabric, neatly stacked on a wall of shelving in my office were saying to me. What about me? What about us? When will you give us your time? My Tai Chi instructor emailed, Can we have some of your creations for our Mother’s Day Raffle? I’ve yet to respond. Mother’s Day was just another day with shingles pain this year.

The writing blog posts are also stacked up neatly in my inbox, awaiting my time and attention as well. I didn’t want to read them with blurry eyes and blurry mind; that would in effect cancel out their very purpose, which is to help me finesse my craft. I look forward to digesting them, in small bites, the better to savor them.

And, of course, my personal writing was suspended. It wasn’t for lack of material, but for lack of dexterity. My fingers lost their place, lost their connection to the home keys on the keyboard. The keys that are the base from which they launch themselves across the span of the key layout. My brain saw one word and my fingers typed up a close facsimile of it; the relay was broken. Or merely interrupted. Whatever it was, it was infuriating.

Regardless, I persevered and completed the projects I had pending; deadlines wait for no man, or woman.  But, it was slow going and quite a strange experience. They say you never appreciate something until you lose it; that might be true. All I know is that my fingers are once again.dancing nimbly over this keyboard. The circuits are reconnected, soldered together through sheer willpower. The embers of shingles pain still burn, and I am being careful not to fan them into bright, lacerating flames.

Burnt

I find myself lost today. Missing what I thought was a loyal and trusted friend. One who knew more about me than I knew about myself. One who could anticipate my needs and my wants before I even knew I had them. We’d gotten so close over the past few years, we were almost like one thinking entity.

And then overnight, poof!

Gone.

Now I’m left trying to put the pieces back together. My browser, my search engine, my late-night research partner, my crutch left me last night. Don’t know where he went, but he took years of research with him. I suppose a computer geek can help me find him. I prefer to think it’s a him. Somehow it seems more natural to think of a him leaving me in the lurch.  (Sorry, Guys!)

I’m now trying to get cozy with Internet Explorer. We used to have a relationship years ago, and then I left him. For him who shall remain nameless. Never thought I’d get burnt for doing that.

But all my sites! All my siiiiites. Just to log into my online editing class took some sleuthing. I had a lesson pending from yesterday and there’s a new one tomorrow. True, I have two weeks to complete them, but I have enough on my to-do list; I don’t want to get behind. Besides, it’s so interesting; I’m learning stuff I never even considered about editing.

After entering key word after key word into Google and coming up empty, I finally remembered I’d emailed the link to someone. I managed to get back in that way and do my lesson. Abbreviations and Hyphens, Blibliographies and Copyrights. Wow, who knew all the technicallities involved?

Yes, I had the address written down in my class notebook, but I was too flustered to go through 200 pages of notes. Now I’m having to add my trusty sites to my “Favorites” one by one. And there were hundreds. No way can I remember them all. Thankfully, my desktop is peppered with icons. I can link from there.

In time I got the main ones listed: my news sites, my writer’s groups sites, my dictionaries (both English and Spanish), this blog and last, but not least, Pandora Radio. For what is life without music? I can get along without my bestest friend if I have to, but music, no way.

And now that I’ve relearned how to open new tabs on Explorer, I’m good to go with my soundtrack running in the background. I’m buiding a new Donna Summer station. Boy, does that take me back. Back to when there were no computers to fail us, or to help us. I might have gotten burnt, but like the phoenix, I rise.

Actions Speak Louder Than Nouns

My previous post being a self-description in verbs prompted me to think of the nouns that reflect who I am. I was not surprised to find far fewer words for my list. Proof that you can call yourself whatever you want, but it’s what you do that shows who you are. And what am I?

Nurse. Mother. Grandmother. Wife. Lover. Friend. Counselor. Confidant. Writer. Reader. Researcher. Editor. Reviewer. Student. Teacher. Housekeeper. Cook. Planner. Buyer. Dancer. Dreamer. Designer. Quilter. Seamstress. Neighbor. Witness (to the world around me).

This is not a narcissistic exercise, but more a flexing of the character-development muscles. Action determines who you are and so what better way to paint a portrait of your characters than by using verbs. How better to explain their personality, idiosyncrasies and tendencies than by showing what they do?

Who and what the characters are matters to story as well, but not as much as what they do. One could say that verbs give life meaning. Verbs give life. Imagine reading a story where nobody does anything. Or anything of consequence. How long would that keep your attention?

In my fiction writing studies during the past six months, I kept hearing the same thing over and over. Build a strong character, make her want something and then make her suffer before she gets it (happy ending) or doesn’t get it (tragedy). During the course of this suffering, she has to fight little battles until she gets to the one big major battle that will determine what her life will be from then on, or if it will even be.

Thinking about all this made me see myself as a character. And what better way to practice than to put yourself under a linguistic microscope, if you will, for the sake of learning. Besides, didn’t Socrates say the unexamined life is not worth living?

Doing this “examination” was somewhat of a revelation. A positive one. It helped me see that though I faced many hurdles along the way, as most of us do, I managed to do a lot. And I know that my monster battle, what makes me suffer, is RA. That battle is locked and the winner shall be determined one day.

But meanwhile, I’m still here. Alive and kicking! Ready to write more and continue with my studies. I was tempted to do adjectives, but I won’t. And adverbs, forget it. Those -ly words are persona non grata, though personally I feel they have their uses. Oops, I said ‘personally.’

Self-Portrait in Verbs

While reading Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, Let Verbs Power Your Writing by Constance Hale, I couldn’t help but wonder; who am I in verbs?

Care. Love. Value. Invest. Hug. Kiss. Worry. Hurt. Hunger. Hope. Pine. Cry. Rejoice. Expect. Wish. Babysit. Laugh. Play.

Plan. Sew. Crochet. Quilt. Design. Construct. Volunteer. Help. Donate.

Walk. Bike. Dance. Drive. Shop. Spend. Save. Enjoy. Cook. Clean. Eat. Drink. Celebrate. Share

See. Hear. Speak. Object. Flout. Argue. Understand. Empathize. Sympathize. Simplify. Clarify. Complicate. Resolve. Lend. Borrow.

Murmur. Mutter. Whisper. Shout. Madden. Sadden. Gladden. Reminisce. Feel. Fear. Respond. Need. Want. Despair. Fold. Rest. Sleep. Dream. Imagine. Fantasize. Wonder.

Procrastinate. Text. Email. Avoid. Sit. Work. Write. Rewrite. Read. Research. Compile. Compose. Edit. Agonize. Learn. Study. Critique. Review. Collect. Envy. Aspire. Appreciate. Wander. Travel. Blog. Remember. Forget.

Teach. Manage. Encourage. Support. Mentor. Listen. Calm. Give. Advise. Counsel.

Pray. Question. Doubt. React. Accept. Think. Live. Breathe. Survive. Wait. Tolerate. Confer. Consult. Ache, Ail. Medicate. Limp (upon occasion).

Words

I see the beginning of another year as though it were a new journal. An untouched, immaculate journal offering 365 silken, virgin pages waiting to be filled. Its leather cover soft, pliable and devoid of fingerprints. It is unmarked, raw and fresh, and cries out for words to be written upon it. Words of all types: kind words, angry words, sad words, happy words. Words of hope as well as words of despair. Words offering solace and words inflicting pain, even though we might not wish it to be so.

An unbiased witness, this journal awaits to capture life as we perceive it. To act as a steadfast friend offering us the ephemeral chance to write another chapter in our book of life. Perhaps even to rewrite a previous one so that we might yet give it the heretofore unattainable happy ending.

What words will we write in this new journal?

What words will this New Year make us write?

Joy Street

When I was a young girl my father gave me two books. When he brought home the first book and held it out to me, a gesture accompanied with his usual silence, I accepted it gratefully. Until that day, I had not known that my father appreciated my love of reading. Up until then, I was not aware that he saw me that clearly.

I do not remember if I spoke, if I thanked him, but the look on my face must have been thank you enough, because later on he brought me another one.

These books became treasures to me and I guarded them reverently. To me they held a meaning beyond their story. They were proof of what could be done with words; evidence of what intricate power could be woven between two simple cardboard covers.

There was no greater gift, besides his love, that he could have given me, because you see, these were not store-bought books. They were books salvaged from someone else’s trash can. My father’s job was to drive a garbage truck. And I imagine that before he was “promoted” to driver, he was one of the men who picked up the trash cans and dumped them into the back of the truck.

How he noticed that there were books amidst the trash from his perch inside the cab, I don’t know. But just as he’d noticed that his little girl loved to read, so he espied those books and brought them home to her. I read and reread these books countless times, though one was missing the last half of its last page. It would be many years before I knew the ending to that story.

And as they gradually fell apart in my hands, these books served as propellant for my own writing. I accumulated notebooks full of stories, stories that my English teachers praised and led them to encourage my endeavors. I dreamed of going away to college to study journalism. For hours at a time, I would disappear into my own little world dreaming up stories, and reading and writing.

My mother did not understand or accept this as there were four younger children she needed my help with. One day when I was fifteen, I came home from school to discover that everything had been thrown out. All my writings were gone, and worst of all, my books.

The loss left me devastated and I stopped writing, for decades. And what made my pain worse was the thought that my mother had probably coerced my father into helping her discard my things. The irony of him having to return those books to the trash heap made me laugh, as well as cry.

I took this assault on my psyche in stoic silence. I was my father’s daughter and I said nothing to no one. Since then, I’ve never been able to talk or write about this and few people know about it. I bore this event in my life as a mark of shame, though I don’t know why. And as a result, I have never gotten over it. It has hurt to this day.

A few months ago, I did manage to relate this story to my daughter-in-law, with my voice only breaking once or twice. I didn’t realize how intensely she’d listened until I opened my Christmas gift from her.  It is an exact replica of one of my missing books, the one that had the last page ripped off, Joy Street by Frances Parkinson Keyes.

The last page on this copy is intact, however, and now, so am I.

I want to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and may joy street always find you.

I want to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and may joy street always find you.

 

What, Me Worry?

I had an epiphany this morning. I woke up as I usually do, with my youngest child on my mind. She is far from home and worrying about her comes as natural to me as breathing. She was hoping to come home for Christmas, but that won’t be feasible. That in itself is disappointing, and though I miss her dearly I can deal with it.

What I do have trouble with is the fact that she is living all alone in New York City. These past months I have made several attempts to get her to come home, but she is bound and determined to stay there and try to make it into the journalistic world. Free room and board is not enough to entice her; she’d rather rough it up there, working at whatever she can find while she keeps “writing on the side.”

I’m glad she’s writing, and though at this point the publications she writes for don’t pay, at least she’s adding to her portfolio. I suppose I could romanticize her present status and think of her as a starving artist, but the starving part doesn’t sit very well with me. Besides, she’s already tiny enough that a stiff breeze could blow her away.

I try to convince myself that she is all right; that she is an adult now, capable of making her own decisions. I tell myself that I don’t need to hear from her daily, that I don’t have to wait up for her to text me she’s safe in her room anymore.  I remind myself that I must keep my stress level in check, that RA loves any and all enablers. And RA has had its way with me for long enough.

And then this morning it hit me. Why am I worrying about her walking the streets of New York when she’s walked the streets of Casablanca, Tangier, Accra, Cape Town, Penang, Ho Chi Min City, Hue City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, Delhi, Tokyo, Yokohama and Puntarenas during her Semester at Sea voyage around the world? And before that were the streets of Paris and Amsterdam during her European trip, which seems so long ago I barely remember the other countries on the itinerary besides Germany and Norway.

Added to that are the four years she spent trekking up and down busy Commonwealth Avenue attending university in Boston. There was no set apart campus there; she was right smack in the middle of the big city. And how can I forget the months she spent roaming the entire country by car the summer she was twenty, accompanied by three other twenty-year-olds. If she could handle driving the L.A. freeways, something I couldn’t get myself to do when I lived there, what exactly am I worried about?

She’s logged more miles than the rest of her family put together and at this point only Australia, South America and the North and South Poles lack her footprints.  She has no fear of new places, meeting new people or of being alone. Her school teachers weren’t off the mark when they noted that she was self-directed and self-sufficient in her yearly reports.

She’s known to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to and her wish now is to become a travel writer. I suppose she has compiled more material during her 22 years than most people will in a lifetime. I have to say I don’t know anyone else quite like her.

“She’s different, isn’t she?” my son said to me while I visited him last month.

“Yes,” I responded. “She is.”

A little girl, a great big world.

A little girl, a great big world.

No matter how old she gets, she will always be 3 to me.

No matter how old she gets, she will always be 3 to me.

The feet that have roamed the world.

The feet that have roamed the world.