Category Archives: Writing

Healing

Before I started blogging, I hadn’t done much personal writing.  I’m a medical writer at work, so I’ve been working with words for decades.  But they weren’t for me.  They weren’t about me.  And they didn’t help me get beyond my share of those things that landed on my shoulders and my heart and pushed down.  Tried to drag me under.  Things that succeeded sometimes, I’m sorry to say.

For years I’d grieved.  I couldn’t get beyond the loss of much loved family members.  Until I wrote this post.  Now, I think and write my stories with more smiles and fewer tears.  Through the humor I found writing it, I got myself back.  And them, too.  It was a win-win.  By writing it, I was able to heal.

I had forgotten that really, the only thing as powerful as words is being able to laugh.  When I first posted Both Sides Now three years ago, my bloggin’ buddies didn’t quite know whether it was OK to laugh.  It is.  I did.  I do.

My long-time bloggin’ buddies may remember this post.  I’m posting it again mostly for myself and for my newer friends.

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Both Sides Now

“The Season” makes me crabby.  Grumpy.  Irritable.  I’ve come to hate it.  Everything about it.  I hate the music, the crowded stores, the decorations.  I especially hate the decorations.

Last year a friend stopped by our house in the middle of December.  “God, it’s December 15th,” I said to her, “and the only decoration I have up is the wreath on the door!”

“I don’t think that counts, Lease,” responded my husband John. “You didn’t take that down from last year.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Tonight, I’m looking around at my undecorated house thinking, “uggggh,” not “Ho ho ho!”

It wasn’t always true, though.  I used to be one of them.  I was a veritable Christmas Elf.  I baked, I decorated.  I embroidered Christmas stockings for the whole family.  My son Jacob and I built gingerbread houses that did not come from a mix or a box and were actually made of gingerbread stuck together in the shape of a house!  My friends got a bottle of homemade Irish Cream liqueur.  Some used it to get their kids to bed on Christmas Eve.

But mostly, I sang.  The records, tapes and CDs came out on Thanksgiving.  From the moment I woke up the day after Thanksgiving, until New Years, I would trill away.  “White Christmas,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”  I belted “Mele Kalikimaka” when I had an established escape route to avoid people trying to punch me.  I know the words to all 18,423 verses of Frosty the Snowman.  I would start singing in the shower and keep going until John tackled me and put duct tape across my mouth, usually at about 8:30 a.m.  Regardless, I’d start up again the next morning.

If the current, Crabby Christmas Me got a hold of the old Merry Christmas Me, I would slap myself silly.

So you see, I do understand the Christmas-sy part of Christmas.  The love, the joy, the traditions.

But now I see the other side.  And it’s that “tradition” part that is to blame.

You see, my family’s always been fairly competitive.  My mother and her sister Ruth were particularly so.  They’d argue at each shared Sunday dinner over a million things:  whose gravy was better (my mother’s), who cracked the best one-liner (always Aunt Ruth – she was a hoot), and most traumatically for me, whose young daughter was taller. (Duh, Maureen was almost a year older than me – of course she won every time.  But you’re not taller now, are you?  And you’re still older, Maur.  You’re still older.  How do you like it??)  Darn, I wish I’d missed the competitive gene.

When I was a kid, Aunt Ruth was high on the list of my favorite relatives.  Now she’s tops on an altogether different list.  And it ain’t Santa’s list, neither.

Because Aunt Ruth started a family tradition.  A competition.  But it’s not a family tradition I recommend, especially during the Christmas season.  In fact, it should have a warning, although I’m not sure where you’d put it:  Don’t try this at home.

You see, Aunt Ruth started the tradition of kicking the bucket on a major holiday.  What fun!  Great idea!  Not many families do that!  Hey, we are DIFFERENT!

Knowing Aunt Ruth, I’m sure her last thought was “Doris, you’ll never top this one!  I’m dying on Thanksgiving!!!!”   She was no doubt a bit miffed when my mother joined her a couple of years later.

Because, not to be outdone, Mom arrived in the afterlife on Easter Sunday.

Their party really got going when we reached Y2K, and my sister Judy died unexpectedly on my birthday in January.  Now, you might argue that my birthday is not, technically speaking, a holiday.  Not a paid day off for most folks.  But hey, in my book, this qualifies.  So there.

As time went on, there were fewer and fewer holidays I could celebrate.  The only big one left was Christmas.

Guess what happened on Christmas, 2000!

Yup, Dad reclaimed his spot at the head of the table with Mom, Judy and Aunt Ruth. Dad trumped them all.  Or because it was Christmas, perhaps he trumpeted them all.  Maybe both.

I must say I am rather ticked off about it all.  Sort of changes the tone of the Holidays, you see.  I plan to have words with all four of them, next time I see them.  And I will not be nice.

In the meantime, celebrating holidays, well, it just seems so odd to me.  Especially Christmas, because Christmas is so stuff-oriented, and most of my Christmas stuff is from them.  It takes a bit of the fun out of decorating.

For a while, I considered joining the Eastern Orthodox Church.  That way I could celebrate the same holidays, just on different days.  I could keep all my Christmas crap!  I could decorate!  I could bake!  I could sing!  But then I realized that the change would just give us all additional high priority target dates, and I don’t have enough family members left to meet the challenge.  So Eastern Orthodox is out.

At the same time, I also realized that, when Dad hit the Holiday Lottery, the whole tradition had to stop.  Because I’m pretty sure that biting the dust on, say, Columbus Day, just wouldn’t cut it.  So why bother?

Nevertheless, this whole thing has made me decidedly anti-holiday.

There is one holiday I still look forward to, though.  Groundhog Day.  I just can’t figure out what sort of decorations to put up.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Birthday, Bloggin' Buddies, Childhood Traumas, Christmas Stories, Dad, Family, Health and Medicine, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mental Health, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other, Writing

Just What I Always Wanted

My very first blogging buddy, Nancy Roman, of Not Quite Old, has written a book!

Amazon Image

Amazon Image

I admit, I was a little nervous to read it.  I always am, whenever I pick up a book by someone I know.  Because I worry that I might not like it.  And then what do I say?

When it’s a book written by a blogging buddy, though, I am being ridiculous.  Because I already know that I like them.  I already know their writing style.  I already know that they can spin a good yarn.

Still, I shouldn’t have worried.  Not with Nancy.  Because Nancy is that good.

Just What I Always Wanted is the story of a fifty year old woman who changes her life dramatically, in part by adopting a pregnant 14 year old misfit.  Nancy’s gift for dialog and understatement, makes the story of the interaction between Cynthia and Shannon, as they try to form a life together, simultaneously poignant and hilarious.  It’s a story of hope, of love, of commitment and forgiveness.

After the real-life events we’ve all been living through, this warm-hearted story shined up my innate optimism just a bit.

Buy it.  Read it.  Get it here.

Would I steer you wrong?

 

43 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Fashion, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other, Writing

On Your Way Out

She’s leaving. What a shame. What a pity.

Can I make a confession? I think that Barbara Walters is largely responsible for the sad state of our news media.  She started the trend that became the norm:  news that focuses on the scandal, the people, the intrigue instead of the, ummmm, news.

Yup, I lay it all on Baba.

Before Baba, TV news was above the fray.  Remember Cronkite?  Huntley/Brinkley?  Howard K. Smith and Harry Reasoner?  News was news.  It focused on what happened. On the event and its place in the current day and its context in history in a serious way.   It was informative, not entertaining.  And that, I believe, is how it should be.  Because news is serious business and it should be treated as such.  Is it today?  I don’t think so.  Had Barbara Walters never existed, I honestly don’t think we could have the clowns at Fox — or on the left either.  News was news and sitcoms and variety shows took care of entertainment.

Since Baba, news has been completely people-focused. Everything is personality – nothing is action. I think that is very wrong.

Since Baba, news-folk have looked for the scandal, for the tears in the story — instead of the story itself. No story is complete without tears. Without scandal. Without some personality saying or doing something that can then be replayed, discussed, analyzed as if that matters more than the results of their actions.

Of course I’m biased.

I knew Harry Reasoner, slightly. One of his kids was (and is) a close friend of mine. So I was in and out of his house growing up. He was a great dad – involved but not intrusive. Interested. Humorous – very humorous.

I hung around his house when the folks in the Nixon White House took a particular dislike to him. That alone is a feather in his cap.

I hung around his house when he became anchor of the ABC Evening News.

[I once arrived at his front door in full makeup for a play – I had to borrow a prop from his daughter.  My makeup consisted of dirt, smeared on my face, a torn dress – a rag, really. Bare, dirty feet. He and his wife met me at the front door in formal attire – they were having a seriously fancy party. His comment was classic: “Why Elyse,” he said with a delighted chuckle (having already seen the play),  “you dressed so nicely for our party! Thanks for coming!” Mortified, I ran upstairs hopefully without being seen by the crowd of Who’s Who in the living room.

I hung around his house when Baba joined him. And when he went back to 60 minutes.

I had few substantive conversations with Mr. Reasoner. I never tried to learn the scoop. In fact, it was only years later that I understood what had happened to him.

Harry Reasoner was not, from everything I ever saw, a sexist. He was a newsman who cared about words and integrity and getting the facts, ma’am. He believed that the news should be the story. Not the person who deliverd the news He believed in getting the story right and in writing well. In letting the event tell the story.

Baba Wawa is retiring – at least in part.

But today will be her last time on “The View.”  But in the way she has done for five decades, Baba Wawa makes herself the story. And that is a huge part of the problem she created in the news industry. The story should be the news. Not the journalist.   Of course, Baba has been milking this retirement. She has been for a year now, and will for another year or so.  Probably until she dies.  Because, of course, Baba is the story don’t cha see.

She’s leaving. What a shame. Don’t let the screen door hit you on your way out.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Family, History, Huh?, Wild Beasts, Writing

It’s In His Kiss

Fess up. It’s your fantasy and mine.

You’ve not only finished your book, but it was published. It wasn’t a best seller, but literary types – like us writer/bloggers – read it. Of course you don’t make any money, but writers are supposed to struggle.

At least until they get an offer from Hollywood, that is. And a flight to Palm Springs to discuss the film option with the head of a major studio and a cast of characters straight out of, well, Hollywood.

Vickie Lester (of Beguiling Hollywood) has a new book! It’s In His Kiss reads like a vintage photograph. Light and dark, blended into a page turner. Palm Springs in full bloom, Hollywood, stars and wanna-bes. Oh, and did I mention murder?

 

Available at Amazon.com

Available at Amazon.com

 

It’s out and available at Amazon.com .  A perfect book to take out to the cee-ment pond with you this summer.

Yup it’s your fantasy and mine. Except maybe the murder part.

 

66 Comments

Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Holidays, Writing

Vote for ME Please, If It’s Not Too Much Trouble

One of the many reasons I’ve never run for public office is that I hate asking for things.  It makes me uncomfortable.  It makes me feel unworthy.  Unloved.

Votes have always been especially hard for me to ask for.  So this is really hard for me to do.

But one of my earliest bloggin’ buddies, Lorna of Lorna’s Voice, nominated me for the BlogHer “Heart:  Feel it” Award!  And I need your vote to avoid total humiliation.

It is for my story/blog post, Letting Go.

Letting Go is a very heartfelt piece.  You see, it was written with my dog Cooper asleep at my feet.  Written knowing that the vet would soon come for his last, and saddest, visit with my ailing Cooper.  But it isn’t a sad story.  Because it is about a very special walk with a very special dog who made a very special friend that day.  Or tried to, anyway.  And it happened many years earlier, when Cooper was young and healthy and carefree.  The story really did help ease the pain of his passing, even as I was facing it.

So please click on this link, register (sorry!) and vote.  For me and for Coops.  For Letting Go.  (There’s a link to the post through this link.)

http://www.blogher.com/node/1393485/voty?category=VOTY%20-%20Heart%3A%20Feel%20it.

And pretend you’re in Chicago — vote early and often!

Thanks, Lorna!

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Filed under Awards, Bloggin' Buddies, Campaigning, Cooper, Dogs, Elections, Humor, Pets, Writing

Am I a Total Idiot?

For years I’ve thought about doing this.  There has always been a reason to not do it.  It happens in November.  I always do Thanksgiving.

I have always started a writing project so it doesn’t count towards the goal.

I will be traveling…sleeping…having a life.

I have a job.  A husband.  A son.

But I always wanted to try.  So I just signed up for NaNoWriMo.  So the answer to the title posed in the Title is:  Apparently so.

I may live to regret this.

I may live to regret this.

Wish me luck.  I can’t wait to tell my husband.

 

126 Comments

Filed under Books, Childhood Traumas, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity, Writing

Make Money Blogging!

Ha!!  He laughs at the amount of time I spend blogging.

“What do you get out of it?”  says my husband, John.  “You should be penning a best seller, not giving your stories away for free.  You don’t even have banner ads on your blog!”

John will eat his words when he reads how I can earn the big bucks. Because I just got this business proposition:

Hi. Good afternoon.

I am a blog administrator and I manage a team of solid writers who are passionate about a wide range of topics.

I was wondering if you’d be open to a guest blogging opportunity.
We would pay you $30 for a post on your site (you may choose the topic if you wish) and a small link to our blog at the end of the post in an author bi-line.

If you are interested in working with us, please write me back.

Cheers

I’m going to make a fortune.  At last, the big bloggy payoff.  Nice!

102 Comments

Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Humor, Stupidity, Writing