About Me

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A working professional and part-time writer, full-time Mom and modern day Alice in Wonderland...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Tribe & The Wedding Weekend

This past weekend my father married his beautiful Joy during a brief stay on Block Island. It has been a few days and now that my routine has settled back into a familiar schedule, I find myself looking back on the entire event and reflecting on just how special of a weekend it truly was.
Admittedly I had my reservations about how we were all going to survive under the same roof for more than two days. Harmonious family vacations were never our thing growing up. Our time together seemed to always be marred by aggressive sunburns, bickering, broken down campers, errant fireworks and copious amounts of strawberry yo-hoo vomit (I shudder with that particularly graphic memory)  Nevertheless we packed our bags, boarded ferry and plane, and all headed out to the destination wedding on the island.
I had known the ceremony would be beautiful and the scenery picturesque - what I hadn't anticipated was how many simply amazing moments we would share together, how much fun we would have and how blessed I would feel connecting with these people.  
As a family, we fell in love with Joy right in step with my father. For me, she was someone I understood loved my Dad for all the right reasons, loved him for exactly who he was - the smart and gentle man, the loving father and grandfather.  My father had found a true companion in Joy and it was wonderful to see their natural fondness and affection shape their life together. Our family just absorbed Joy;  her kindness, her generosity and her loving nature.  In a remarkably short time, it was as if she had always been there pulling together feasts on the holidays, readily joining in our games, cheering our successes, adoring and doting on the grandkids and making all of us feel welcomed and loved.  Knowing that both her and my Dad had gone through lengths and no small expense to get us all there together,  meant the world to us. The intimacy of sharing their special day was very touching, something I know we will all treasure having been part of.  
The fallout from their lovely nuptials was that it brought our families together for a few days, isolated as we were in our temporary home.  High in the hills of Block Island, my daughter had unfettered access to her cousins, her Aunts and Uncle and loving grandparents. The kids were amazing. I don't think anyone had to raise their voice or reprimand them all weekend.  They chased, swam and played games until they ran out of steam and collapsed together on bean bag chairs and couches.  They rallied at the wedding, getting dressed up and posing for all the pictures with wide smiles and no complaints.  They were attentive and serious in their ceremonial duties. At the end of the ceremony, my father turned and scooped them up in an embrace, crushing them all together against his chest as they squirmed and giggled. 
Later, my Dad would chase them all over the house as they screamed with mock terror and delight - offering up each other up as a sacrifice to his mercilessly tickling fingers.  After the boys had gone to bed, my Dad beckoned my sleepy daughter onto his lap where she curled up and cuddled against him, clearly relaxed and contented in the arms of one of the people she loves most in the world.

Aside from the kids, the adults got to spend time enjoying the rarity of leisurely pursuits together.  We started our cocktailing early, ate well and stayed up late laughing around the fire pit and dancing on the lawn. 
We poised for photos, drank too much, had loud sometimes inappropriate conversations and delighted in the opportunities to be fun and silly.  We discovered my sister-in-law is something of a secret 80's hip hop connoisseur who loves to dance and that Joy's daughter Jess is willing and eager to join in on all our crazy ideas and obnoxiously staged photo shoots. 
I got to spend time with my sister, a beautiful thing since our lives rarely afford us many opportunities to just hang out and have fun together. She and my husband get along famously well and the brief excursions the three of us took the bluffs and to a remote sunset beach remains some of my most favorite times of the entire weekend.  
I write to preserve my most treasured memories in the best way I know how.  This weekend was so full of wonderful memories it was hard to pick just a few to highlight in this blog. Certainly there were many I missed, like helping Joy get ready for the wedding or Jess's perfectly tailored ceremony or telling raunchy jokes with my one of my Dad's best friends and even catching a few moments to read in the sun while my daughter and husband slept in.  I loved the way I always woke to find Dad in the kitchen churning out breakfast like a short order cook like he did when we were kids. Or the way the girls and I raced into action to when we thought the outside wedding plan might get washed away and the look on Joy's face when she realized we would do whatever it took to make things right for their wedding.
Overall I found myself looking around at the faces of my family, those with whom I share blood and those that are more recent recruits - and thinking....I really love being with these people (even my brother who woke us all up too early and attended at least one meal in just his boxer briefs to my sister's abject horror).  These people are my family and they are pretty damn great.
They are my tribe and I do love them.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Coastal Maine

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 1209 July 6, 2017
Prompt: "In language gentle as thine own: whispering in enamored tone sweet oracles of woods and dells and summer winds in sylvan cells." Percy Bysshe Shelly. Let this quote inspire your Blog Writing today.

This quote immediately evokes the sensations I experienced as a child vacationing in coastal Maine. In the early years of my father's business, we spent several weeks visiting his business partner's family compound in the offshore community of Vinalhaven, Maine. We had to take a boat to get out to the island where the main house and cottage were situated. It seemed a very isolated and rare experience for me back then.

The first morning there, I wandered away from the green expanse of the main house lawn and into the silent, coastal forest. I found myself in a place of enchantment. The pine woods smelled sweet and clean. The beds of moss covering the ground and rock were soft enough to sink to my ankles in. It was eerily quiet and the light filtered down from the canopy and pooled in golden patches of light. The forest seemed to swallow me, and I felt strangely at peace in its dark, dense folds.

Years later, I lived for a time just outside Bar Harbor, Maine when my company purchased a business in Ellsworth, Maine. My commute each morning would take me past postcard scenery with lush rolling hills and glimpses of the deep blue water of Somes Sound. On my free days I would wander into Acadia national park. The loop rode delivered me to breathtaking vistas of the rustically beautiful Maine coast and beaches where the water was clear and still like a mirror. There was a special connection for me in all the places where the stoic pine trees met with rocky coastline. I would stand in the ankle deep tide pools, in water that was numbing cold, and just gaze out and the stunning landscape painted with the rich, warm light of the early morning sun. It isn't hard to believe that coastal Maine in the sweet months of summer is truly crafted by the hands of God.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Uncommonly Jaden

As my daughter neared the end of her 1st grade year, the pace of life left little time for much reflection. It seemed she was moving at breakneck speed through field trips, award ceremonies, piano practices and those last few events of the school year. Even as I saw the changes in her, I failed to take the time to document them when I should have...to take photos and to write the blog entries that would memorialize her journey for us both. I am usually better at such things, especially when so many more of the moments are fleeting and she leaves more and more of her childhood behind in the dust of her running feet.

The other morning, we had a few hours before we had to be anywhere. She was sleeping in my bed, having migrated there in the middle of the night as she so often still does. Her eyes were closed, the long lashes and lids masking eyes that had become uncommonly green this year. She had one leg thrown casually over the comforter and the sun was painting a pattern of light across her caramel-colored skin. She looked so peaceful, so uncommonly beautiful in repose. I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture just as she opened her eyes. She gave me her mona lisa smile and slipped back off to sleep. I watched her for a few more minutes, basking in the bittersweet knowledge that she could not stay 7 years old for even one moment longer than time would allow...no matter how completely wonderful age 7 is.

At age 7, Jaden has found her "silly". She breaks into a dance in the home depot aisle to make me laugh. She makes up comical songs in the back of the car and she makes funny faces...everywhere. She often talks in made-up accent, revealing glimpses of the strange and goofy language she has adopted with her friends at school.

Speaking of friends, she has forged friendships with kids that share her depth of wonder and her interest in the world around her. Her friends are sweet in nature, intelligent and caring. I'm amazed by her ability to find and bond with other boys and girls like her and proud beyond words at her circle of friends. I'm grateful that her choices have enabled us to meet theses children's like-minded, lovely parents.

At age 7, Jaden has grown into a leggy, active child who wears the summer sun like a second skin. She battles to stay outside as long as the day allows. She loves walks, helping her Dad in the yard and running...she is always in a state of movement these days. She likes to know what the plans for the day are but is just as comfortable staying home. Often if given a choice, she will choose to remain in, delighting in getting to spend long afternoons playing on the deck. She loves to read and draw but you can just as often find her perfecting American Ninja Warrior routines in her swing set.

She loves music, and though this has remained a constant, her tastes have become more refined. She is more choosy when I scan the stations in the car and will usually demand that I put on "phone music". She has become a big fan of Walk off the Earth, drawn to the musical proficiency and general rockstar coolness of the band's female frontlinner. Her second ever piano recital revealed a concentration and poise she hadn't possessed last year. Though I watched her with my heart in the throat, she played with a newly minted grace and confidence that amazed us.

Age 7 has brought a spark of fresh attitude. She pushes every button sometimes and defiance flashes in her sea change eyes whenever I made demands she doesn't agree with. She is frequently obstinate but never truly disagreeable. She likes to get her own way but she's never one to make large scale requests. We battle but we are also quick to find compromise...so far. Jaden is still quick to kiss us without prompting, hold our hands, thrown her arms around us in photos and demand to sleep, cuddled between us at night.

Jaden is, at age 7, becoming uniquely Jaden...she is fresh, funny and full of life and love. Bugs and bees are terrifying but sharks are cool. Slime is awesome and bubbles are still all the rage. Candy necklaces are the best ever accessory and shorts are the preferred outfit of choice these days. At age 7, Jaden is uncommonly beautiful in every possible way.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Trending in Fear and Writers Write

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1660 June 2, 2017
What's trending where you are?

Fear. Fear is trending in my little corner of the world.

I live in a blue state and if anything is trending most apparently here, it is the constant undercurrent of fear. Many of the people that live here are scared they will lose their healthcare, they are scared they will lose their hard-won rights. They are scared that this administration is making decisions based on winning another four years rather than unifying a broken and divided country. Even among those that supported Trump, there is a fear that he may not be all that they hoped and the motivations behind some of the recent decisions made may be less honorable, less transparent than his surrogates insist they are.

I have tried to remain politically independent - it is almost a job requirement as I work in an industry that is largely supported by conservatives. Yet, more and more I feel myself identifying with those in my community. I find it more and more difficult to try to accept the agenda of the administration or extend a measure of good faith to this White House and current President. I was admittedly never a Trump supporter but I tried to be hopeful. I tried to find a middle ground. I tried to have faith that as a nation, we could unify under our leadership. But, I am out of good faith. I am disappointed. I am unimpressed. I am fearful.

The President came here recently for a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy. The protesters were there bright and early. My daughter craned her neck to peer at them as I drove her to school. Her school is adjacent to the CG campus so the streets where lined on both sides with people holding signs. It was early and things were calm. People were respectful. The police were drinking coffee and chatting with the groups on both sides. She and I talked about civil protest, we talked about democracy and freedom of speech. I told myself it was a good lesson and experience for her. I went to work, monitoring the event via NPR live streams and social media.

Then, I saw him, standing there proudly in the full white robes, the recognizable costume of the KKK. Seriously? Here? In this community there is such a person who feels embolden enough to be out here like this? And before you even say it, there were plenty of people in the "pink hats" I know...BUT historically, as far I as understand, no one wearing a "vagina hat" has ever been associated with the degenerate, violent, racial persecution and murderous acts perpetrated by the clan. Who are these people who live and exist among us? Who are these people that harbor these kinds of ideals in their hearts and who suddenly feel that this President and his administration has some how given them a pass to be the fear-inciting hate-mongers of their own dreams? Fear. I felt it that day, right down to my toes.

Suddenly, I wasn't sure sure this was such a great lesson for my daughter...my mixed faith, bi-cultural daughter. Suddenly, I was fearful for her.

A week later, I watched an intoxicated Trump supporter, and Connecticut resident, verbally attack a Muslim family on a beach in Texas. He proudly and repeatedly struck his chest saying "Trump is my fucking President", while he hurled hate speech at them and grabbed his crotch suggestively. This past week, a good Samaritan was stabbed to death after coming to the defense of Muslim women on a train who were being openly harassed.

What kind of world are we cultivating for our children? Where are the leaders working to unify us as Americans? Where is the President who will help heal our fractured masses?

Fear. I get it now. I have it now too.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1176 June 2, 201
All of us have slumps and getting back on track varies drastically among us so let's toss ideas around on how to stay motivated with our writing. What works best for you?

My writing career is constantly hampered by the availability of free time. I have very little hours in a day that are not already allocated to mothering a growing daughter and pursuing a career. I live under pretty consistently thought bubble of "not enough hours in the day..sad face emoji". Motivation has never been an issue when you are compelled to do something, as I have always been to write. Truly successful writers, write. They find the time. They have the discipline. They make sacrifices in pursuit of their craft. They don't force their best work into life by executing compartmentalized writing sessions over their lunch hour a few times a week. I know this. I am largely at peace with that knowledge I suppose. It makes those random publication acceptances so surprising and sweet.

I know that trolling submission deadlines helps me sometimes, a proposed anthology theme might spark off a creative well. I use Duotrope.com to search accepting markets and calls for specific submissions. I try to keep a blog, write my assignments and keep plugging forward. Sometimes something grows from exercising my writing muscles no matter how mundane it seems at the time.

The best advice I have is to just write, whenever, however....just do it. Each time you do, you are giving yourself the opportunity to get better and to connect with what you are in your heart...a writer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Audio Books and Leaving Love

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1173--May 30, 2017
Prompt “It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” John Green, Paper Towns
What were some of the things or people that were difficult to leave for you, for someone you know, or for a character in your story, and what were the results of leaving those things?

The act of leaving someone you are still in love with is one of the hardest things to do. Paul Simon's classic, "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" might offer up a plethora of viable and catchy suggestions but the truth is, it is always more complex and the fallout more life-altering than we may anticipate. I agree with John Green insofar as there is a sense of relief after the decision to leave is made but it has never magically become the "easiest thing". For me, it took weeks of isolating soul-searching and painful meditation on old wounds and broken promises. It took several hard reality checks before I had fully accepted the fact that my life with him would be a lonely journey through an eternal landscape of failed expectations and disappointments. The realization was only the first step. It took conditioning to convince my heart what my head already understood, and my heart was by far the more stubborn organ. In the end, I prayed. I prayed to God that I would stop loving him. I prayed on my knees, as the steaming hot water rained down. I prayed alone in empty hospital corridors and silent waiting rooms. I prayed in the privacy of my silent bedroom, wrapped in my stiff new bed sheets. There is a type of despair you encounter when you find yourself begging for a release from love. The desperation to rid one's heart, to strip love from your organism when it was once so critical to your biology, is uniquely terrible and painful. It can be done, you can walk away, but it is far from easy and leaves you permanently marred.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1656 May 30, 2017
How do you feel about the rising demand for audio books? Is this a good thing or bad thing for literature? As a writer, have you considered reading your work for audio books, podcasts or youtube?

As a busy working mom, and former reading junkie, I rely heavily on audio books to satisfy a thirst I never seem to have the time to quench. While it will never replace the tactile joy of cracking open a book, it at least lets me experience my favorite authors and engage with amazing stories. I will say that as a big fan of James Lee Burke, the audio versions of his books narrated by Will Patton are almost magical. Patton has such a command over Burke's characters that he gives dimensional life to colorful characters like Dave Robicheaux and Clet Purcell. I have found more often than not, a narrator can affect your listening experience no matter how strong the story is and that is a definite drawback. As far as being good for literature, I think if it allows more people to "read" work, it helps - regardless of what form it takes literature needs an audience. If I had the luxury of choosing, I would still prefer to take my dose of literature between actual pages but for now I appreciate the ability to audit them instead.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Pointing Policy and the Wonder of Laughter

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1158 -- May 15, 2017
Prompt: They say when a computer does something wrong, it blames another computer. Isn’t it the same with people? Do animals blame others, too? Isn’t blaming someone else an act of refusing to take responsibility? What are your thoughts on the subject?

Is the act of passing blame part of our ingrained fear of failure or a function of the self-preservation drive that we as humans beings all harbor?

As the oldest sibling, it was certainly easier to blame my brother and sister for things than to take the blame myself. If my little sister was crying, that was my bratty brother's fault for teasing her and that glass vase that was destroyed, well, that was because "they" were fighting. In both instances and in countless others from our childhood, as the oldest I could have deflected the teasing and kept the peace. I could have taken the responsibility for things going awry. Later in my life I became much for adept at admitting fault, sometimes accepting the blame in situations when it wasn't mine to shoulder. Blame is a powerful tool we have at our disposal, to use against others and sometimes ourselves.

No one wants to be responsible for something bad happening, in life, in work, in relationships. Sometimes though, decisions get made and the outcome isn't what we would like. I believe one of the hallmarks of a true leader is their ability to know when to accept and when to assign blame. For a President who campaigned on the presumptive premise that he was the only one who could fix our broken country, he has shown an alarming and adept ability to "pass the buck" now that he has gained the highest office in the land. President Trump can lite the world on fire with a early morning, ill-advised twitter rant, then resolutely blame his surrogates/associates for mismanaging the press and failing to cultivate public perception in his favor. He can make executive decisions, then lay the blame for those decisions on the shoulders and at the feet of others when the fallout threatens his fragile carefully constructed self-image. No one is perfect, people make mistakes and leaders make mistakes with much more weight and consequence than most of us. As an American, I don't expect perfection but I would like to believe that our leader would have accountability and humility. I would expect the President of the United States would have the integrity to admit when he was wrong or misinformed or directly responsible for decisions regardless of their ultimate outcome. As a American, I hope that our President will do better than those that came before him and serve as an example for those that follow.


"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1642: May 15, 2017
Prompt: "At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities." Jean Houston Write a story about laughter, new possibilities, or a Kaleidoscope. Alternatively, you can write your opinion about this quote.

Laughter can often be the light in the dark. In the times of my deepest grief, I have been given a reason to laugh and it has shown me the path to peace again. Laughter is not bound by language or cultural barriers, is in a unifying and universal joy. I love the visual implications of the quote given how laughter can diffuse arguments and abruptly change the course of a conversation.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Shame to Rage and Viola's Composition

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1137 –April 24, 2017
Prompt: Do you think that shame can be a trigger for anger? How?

Shame is a crippling emotion to live under. It can silence you, it can crush your spirit and marginalize your soul. I lived with shame like that for years during my first marriage, hiding the truth of my life from everyone that mattered. There were so many times in the aftermath of a violent episode, when I would be sitting among the shattered and broken things and I would think, "this is not the daughter my father raised." I would break open all over again thinking about how disappointed he would be that I allowed this to become my life. I was ashamed that I had fallen in love with a man who cursed and spat and hit. I was ashamed that even after that love had been crushed dead under the constant fear of sudden violence, I still could not leave.

I was ashamed at how cautious I had become, how complacent, how silent. I was ashamed of knowing those dark things, like the way passion can bloom into rage with a single word or all the ways a person can hurt you without leaving visible bruises that tell the world what you are. I knew shame intimately. I wore it like a heavy coat. In the end, however, it was the shame that saved me. That day, the last day he ever put his hands on me, the shame had rose up inside me like a tide and that tide carried me away. 

The argument had escalated, as it always did. My cell phone had been smashed to bits on the floor at my feet, my glasses knocked from my face and I could see one lens was shattered. He had my car keys clenched in one fist and he was shaking them at me, telling me once again, that I was stupid and useless. The side of my face was throbbing where he'd hit me open handed. I made a grab for my car keys and he had shoved me back hard, with the palms of both hands. The momentum sent me reeling back across the linoleum. I crashed into and then partially through the glass kitchen door. I had struggled to my feet, shaking glass from my hair and clothes, checking my exposed flesh for cuts, expecting I think, to have been shredded by the exploding glass. Miraculously I was unhurt. He had rushed to me, his dark eyes filled with concern, his mouth spewing nonsense. He hadn't meant to hurt me. He never meant to hurt me.

Standing there, in a pool of glass, listening to him vomiting his panicked excuses, I felt something shift in me. For the first time the shame gave way to something else, a white, hot anger. That anger rose up inside me, like some dark and raging sister in my soul. I literally saw red and I charged at him, tossing him to the ground and wrenching my car keys from his fist. The dynamics had instantly shifted between us. When he tried to get up, I shoved him back down with a strength I didn't know I possessed. "Stay down" I told him, my voice dripping with such venom that it frightened me. I feared if he had tried to move at that moment, I would have killed him with my bare hands. I told him I would kill him if he tried to touch me. I felt like I was on fire. I rushed to my car, wanting only to get away from him...not because I was afraid of him but because I was afraid of all that anger coursing through me. I was afraid of what I could do to him with all that rage.

That day was the last time he ever touched me. Shame had been my jailer for a long time, but it had also been my ally in freeing myself from that life. I think it must have just reached a point of critical mass when the need to speak out, to stand up and to live a different life became so much stronger than the need to keep it hidden, to hide behind the shame.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Prompt: Write a story or poem using the following words: piano, study, gaudy, ghost, bewitch, blushing, tongue, plan

I watched her for, concealed behind the partially opened door. She was sitting at the piano, her back ramrod straight and her shoulders rigid. Her thick black hair had been hastily pulled back into a heavy braid and it hung down her back, bisecting her thin frame. She bent forward to study the sheet of music in front of her, the tip of her tiny pink tongue pinched between her teeth as she concentrated. Then, Viola began to play. Her delicate, bird-like hands flew over the keys and the music began to fill the space between us.

The composition was one of her own design, crafted to challenge her but also to bewitch the listeners with its peaking crescendos and beautiful rolling valleys. She moved with the music, the heavy braid rocked back and forth like a thick rope. Her momentum caused the gaudy necklace of big glass beads to sway on her chest like a pendulum keeping time with the beat. I held my breath, felt the tears began to well. It was like watching a ghost. Voila played with the same impassioned abandon that her mother had. Watching the girl evoked a vivid memory and in its wake, a visceral pang of loss.

Viola's playing slowed, the notes softly fading as she reached the end of her composition. I had thoughtlessly began clapping before the final note had faded. Voila was startled by the sudden interruption. She turned to look at me, blushing crimson with wide, surprised eyes. It had not been the plan to eavesdrop on her practice. Viola was, as her mother had been, uncomfortable with act of performing. She recovered a bit when she saw it had only be me. She gave me shy smile and rose from the piano.