notquiteold

Gracefully Aging – With Resistance

Cowboy Memories

It was my husband’s turn to choose which Sirius channel we listened to on our last ride. So naturally, he picked Willie’s Roadhouse – very old-fashioned country music. By very old-fashioned, I mean Grand Ole Opry old-fashioned. I mean twangy guitars and twangier voices. I mean boots and barefoot and nothing in between. I mean men wearing sequins and fringe. I mean high hair on both sexes.

But to my enormous surprise – and delight – they had a special program. Theme songs from TV Westerns!

Oh the Memories!

I LOVED TV Westerns. And I watched them ALL.  And by all, I mean spurs and saddles up the wazoo!  If you are younger than I (and almost everyone is) – you have no idea how many westerns there were. You could watch cowboys every single night of the week – sometimes several in one night.

I only have a vague recollection of “Hopalong Cassidy,” “Wild Bill Hickok,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “The Cisco Kid” – they were pretty much before my time. But my husband loved them, so I would wager a guess that they had lots of shootouts and no ambiguity on who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. That’s the way he still likes his shows.

The first TV Western I remember well was “Roy Rogers”. I was not impressed. It was set in modern times, and Roy and Dale had telephones and vehicles. For chrissakes, if you are going to do a Western, I want to see you ride Trigger and Buttermilk – stay out of the friggin jeep.

Here’s a summary of JUST SOME of the Westerns I remember. I didn’t use Google or Wikipedia because I want my memories and my impressions to be the ones of my childhood – unsullied by today’s adult opinions. (So I could be wrong on some – or many – or all – of the facts.)

“Wyatt Earp” – “Bat Masterson” –  “Yancy Derringer” – these were all fancy-dress dandies. My Grandma liked these shows. I preferred my cowboys a little grittier even then. I didn’t want lace shirts. I wanted dusty from the saddle.  A small aside: about twenty years ago I happened to meet an actual descendent of Bat Masterson. I had the song (“He wore a cane and derby hat. They called him Bat. Bat Masterson”) stuck in my head for weeks. And now I do again.

“Death Valley Days” – an anthology series narrated by Ronald Reagan. Brought to you by twenty-mule team Borax. Borax was a soap. A twenty-mule team made it a very strong soap, I guess. Or very smelly. Maybe both.

“Tales of Wells Fargo” and “Iron Horse” – same actor; almost same show. One was a stagecoach and one was a train. Other than that…

“Sugarfoot” – another of Grandma’s favorite. She thought he was very cute and sweet. He was blond. Grandma liked blonds.

“Cheyenne” and “Bronco” – two very big men. I think these shows alternated time slots. Cheyenne was a man of few words; it would have been a difficult show to watch if you were blind. The strong silent type. But the producers probably saved a lot of money on dialog.

“Maverick” – this is where the dialog budget got spent. Very snappy and clever. Maverick liked to talk his way out of trouble. There were three (or maybe four) Mavericks, but I only liked James Garner. I liked him a lot. Like, a LOT.

“Wagon Train” – heading west. Never getting there.

“The Rebel” – a confederate soldier out west. I think he had a big secret. I never understood any of the plots. He had a sporty little cap though.

“The Rifleman” – Strong-jawed Chuck Connors who was a fast-draw with a rifle. Noisy. The Rifleman had a cute son, but the son called his dad, “Paw.” Unacceptable.

“The Deputy” – “Lawman” – “Laramie” – I enjoyed these shows. I cannot tell them apart now though. I probably couldn’t then either.

“Wanted Dead or Alive’ – Young Steve McQueen. Everyone thought he was handsome but I always thought he was homely. But even at eight years old, I appreciated the way he filled out a pair of jeans.

“Gunsmoke” – This was Great Aunt Lora’s favorite. She told me she wished she were Miss Kitty – she would have liked to run the whorehouse and drink with the boys. I thought Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty were a little long in the tooth.

“Have Gun Will Travel” – with Richard Boone as Palladin, a hired gun. My father, who never ever disparaged anyone’s looks, once said, “That is about the ugliest man I have every seen.”

“Rawhide” – by far the best theme song EVER. A never-ending cattle drive with two extremely tall cowboys, Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood had a lot of sex appeal, I guess. I liked the other guy. I remember lots of stampedes and hot tempers. And nights by the campfire sort of like the farting scene in “Blazing Saddles” – without the farting. (I think.)

“The Virginian” – a 90-minute Western. Plenty of time for plot-development and selling Alka-Seltzer. The show was loosely based on the novel.- very loosely, since Trampas was the bad guy in the book and a good guy in the show. He had curly blond hair though and very good teeth, so he couldn’t be a bad guy. The Virginian, like in the book, had no name, which made it very difficult to get his attention out on the range.

“Bonanza” – the biggie – the Ponderosa of Westerns. Rich cowboys. Pa and his sons were always falling in love, and their women always died. If I met a Cartwright, I would run for the hills.

“The Big Valley” – A version of Bonanza with a matriarch instead of patriarch. I liked the premise though. The dead rich father’s bastard son decides to join the family. My little brother had sort of a crush, not on the beautiful Linda Evans, but on 60-something Barbara Stanwyck. My brother knew a real beauty when he saw one.

“Laredo” – Texas Rangers. One of the Rangers had quite a spectacular body and took off his shirt in almost every episode. My sister Claudia enjoyed this.

“Kung Fu” – Weird. Just. Weird.

“How The West Was Won” – “The High Chaparral” – “Alias Smith and Jones” – late entries in the Western drama. I was becoming old enough to appreciate a hot cowboy on a big horse. These shows had plenty.

And I could use me some now. I think I’d like to go back and get another look at Steve McQueen’s jeans.

stevemcqueen

Flea Marketing

This weekend my husband and I traveled to Brimfield Massachusetts to the huge Brimfield Antique Flea Market.

Brimfield is held three times a year, and it’s always a crazy event. For more than 50 years, the nuttiest folks from all over the globe collect junk and come together to see if they can fleece the public. It’s like the whole town becomes a junkyard. In fact, Brimfield is actually a group of 20 individual shows (each one big in its own right) all vying for a piece of the junkyard pie.

Oh sure, there’s some real antiques. But mostly it is the stuff that your husband has in the cellar that you have been begging him to throw away.

We woke to rain, but the sky was bright and the forecast called for clearing. So we dressed in warm clothes that we could peel off in layers, and comfortable shoes, and filled our travel mugs with coffee for the 75 mile drive. Naturally, we already had coffee at home, and so we required a pit stop before too long. And I was gratified that it was Hubby and not me that needed the stop (for a change).

After the nature break, I enjoyed the nature ride. We came upon four horses in a pasture. These guys were all wearing blankets. Granted it was a cool day, but a cool day in May. Those horses were wimps. I don’t see cows wearing sweaters. One horse was sporting a zebra-striped blanket. He may have thought he had a great disguise. But he didn’t fool me.

Once we got to Brimfield, we were encouraged in the most friendly way to park in everyone’s yards for $7.00.  One guy with a really big yard had a fistful of dollars in his hand. We gave him a few more.  His yard was more of a field, but it was dry enough, and we had taken the truck, just in case we found something great – and big.

So another pit stop at the port-a-potties. Those things are the worst part of any outdoor event, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t really, really grateful.

Finally we were ready to shop. There were thousands of vendors. You could buy broken dolls and buckled paintings. You could buy ancient scythes and dusty beer bottles.  Clocks that stopped running in 1945 and old 45 records that had a definite curve to their bodies. Costume jewelry that even my great-aunt Lil would have thought too gaudy.

Oh, there was some nice stuff. I saw a beautiful opal and amethyst ring, But since I already have an opal and ruby ring, I didn’t succumb. My husband found an ugly old coca-cola cooler – which reminded him of his childhood so naturally he wanted to buy it and turn it into a shrine with his toy trains and Hardy Boys books. I pointed out nicely that this cooler was extremely rusty, weighs 77 pounds empty, and costs more than an opal and amethyst ring. I was subtle and congenial though. I said, “That’s friggin’ hideous!”

We had to search to find something relatively healthy to eat. All the vendors from every carnival and country fair you ever went to were there. This would have delighted us five years ago, but we don’t eat that shit anymore – we finally found a deli sandwich stand. Not exactly health food, but a considerable step up from deep-fried oreos.

The best part was the dogs. Brimfield is a dog-friendly event. There were almost as many dogs there as people. And they were all adorable (The dogs, not the people. The people are mostly your regular homely folk.) One vendor had a pug puppy asleep in an old urn. The guy let me wake the puppy so I could see her smile. She didn’t smile. But she gave me an excellent dirty look.

Lately, I want a dog quite badly. But so far, I have recovered my sanity just in time, before I commit to a chewing, pooping, barking little friend. Maybe when I fully retire. I’d like a curly-haired dog to lie at my feet when I write my next novel. Doesn’t that sound nice?

We ended up at the Ben and Jerry’s booth for frozen yogurt, which was okay, even though neither of us got what we ordered. We would have been better off switching cups, as that would have put us a little closer to what we had actually asked for, but then we would have had to forego all the enjoyable bitching.

And that was our day –  $7.00 for parking and $16.00 for lunch and I think about $27.00 for two child-size incorrect frozen yogurts.

Oh, and one more expense. Hubby was very sleepy as we started home, and our coffee was gone, so he stopped at a convenience store/gas station for more. I never go into those places. Because mostly what is convenient is potato chips. Which is about my favorite thing in the world, after puppies.

Only Hubby didn’t come out with coffee. He decided on the beef jerky.

“You’re going to open that in the car?” I asked.

“Yeah, he answered already ripping the bag open. “It’s healthier than some of the other stuff in there. What’s the problem?”

“Because it smells like dog food! Don’t you think it smells exactly like dog food?”

“Not until right this minute.”

And it was a quiet ride home.

But a nice day overall.

And I woke up the next day to poison ivy on my foot. From parking in the field, I suppose.

setteecrop

The one piece my husband and I both loved. Not in the budget though. Not in anyone’s budget, I suspect.

Edward Scissorfeet

I am re-posting this blog from three years ago. 

Because it happened again.

I now have a linen closet with 5 king flat sheets and ZERO king fitted sheets.

**

EDWARD SCISSORFEET

I love blogging. It’s therapeutic.There is no better way to complain. Complaints get noticed.

This is the second time in six months that I found this when I went up after breakfast to make the bed:

This is the foot of the bed. On my husband’s side.

Despite the evidence, I am not married to this guy:

This is one of the monsters from “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.  I love this guy. He has no name in the book. In the children’s opera, Sendak called him Moishe, after a relative. In the movie, I understand they changed his name to Carol. Just goes to show that you don’t have to have a weird name to be scary. (I have proof in the shape of my former boss.)

But my husband is not Moishe/Carol.

Last time I looked he had only slightly abnormal feet.

What does he DO at night that results in shredded sheets?

I am sleeping right beside him. I’m an excellent sleeper. But you’d think I’d wake up when the flamenco music starts.

We have a king size bed. Sheets are expensive.

When I brought my husband up to look at the bed, he said, “Do you think you can fix it?”

I’m not sure…

He may have been thinking:

Duct Tape.

Edward Scissorfeet

Best Seller !

I’m interrupting my usual silly nonsense because I am over the moon with THRILLED-NESS!

This week, Amazon and Bookbub are running a 99 cent promotion for the Kindle version of my novel, JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED.

The results yesterday were extraordinary, amazing, fabulous!

I am now an Amazon best-seller!  In several categories!

#56

I am NUMBER TWO in the category, Humorous Literary Fiction (a category I didn’t know existed, but hey, I am right behind Liane Moriarty, who I adore!):

#2 LFH

And I am NUMBER ONE – NUMBER ONE!! – in Women’s Humorous Fiction!

#1 WF

You can download Just What I Always Wanted  HERE for just 99 cents through May 17!

As for me, since I already read it, I am buying Stepbrother HOT!

Your Choice, of course:

link book cover         stepbrother hot

What Would Wilma Flintstone Do?

Two Sundays ago, as we lingered over a sixth cup of coffee, we happened to look out the window and realized that we had company.

bear 4-26-15

We were very excited to see our visitor.  Although we were glad that he didn’t knock on the door, and he may have lumbered around the patio just a bit too long.

It is terrific to live so close to nature. That being said, we vowed to take down all the bird feeders the next day.

We had a ton of yard work to do, so we spent the afternoon raking and cleaning up winter debris – and those of you who live in a more temperate climate may be in disbelief that winter clean-up is done in April in northwest Connecticut – but yeah, and in our winter coats too.

After the bear sighting, we had a plan to stick together that day. But of course, my husband had to go to the bathroom, and then I guess the phone rang, and then he was in the shed trying to get the old tractor started, so I ended up  quite a distance from the house and all alone. I have heard that bears don’t like noise, so I sang. I sang “Me and Bobby McGee” which was pretty much stuck in my head anyhow, since I have been trying to play it on the ukulele for about seven weeks.

When my husband finally returned, I was gracious and brave, saying something congenial like

“Where the fuck have you been? I could have been eaten by a goddamn bear!”

And he was okay with that, reassuring me that he would have come quickly if I had screamed or anything.

“I think that might have been a teensy bit late.  But now I am done and I am going in to have another coffee.”

So it was Hubby’s turn to be alone out there. I don’t know whether he sang, but if he did, it might have been “When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain,’ because Hubby has this thing for Kate Smith. His taste in music is what you might call “quaint.” Others (I’m not saying who) may think more along the lines of “insane.”

So I’m sipping my coffee and I look up from my book – and guess who is the back yard?

big bear 2 4-26-15This guy is GINORMOUS!  The morning bear must have been BooBoo.  This guy’s is Yogi’s mean older brother.

Well, I ran immediately to the front door to get my husband in the house. Well, immediately after I found my phone and took this photo. I mean, I’d need evidence if the bear had already eaten my husband.

“Get in the house,” I yelled from the doorway. “There’s a huge bear in the back yard.”

And he came running right in.

“Jesus Christ!” he said when he got a look out the kitchen door. “That’s the biggest fucking bear I’ve ever seen.”

“That’s why I got you in right away. Now that you’re safe, let me see if I can get a picture.”

That was two weeks ago.

One week later, we are making progress.  I am now raking out the flower beds around the house.

My husband is with me for a while – but then – he’s off to…well… I’m not exactly sure. But I’m going strong. The weather is better. I’m singing “Handyman” – the James Taylor version, of course, because I love James and I’m pretty handy.

I’ve worked my way over to the south side of the house.

And I hear it.

Something.

In the backyard.

It doesn’t sound like my husband.

The only door that is open is the back garage door. I am as far as possible from that door. I am so far south of that door, I am practically in Florida.

house outline

And my adrenalin kicks in.

Really kicks. I start to sweat. My heart starts to pound. I can hear my heart. It’s throbbing in my head.

And it occurs to me that this is the most primitive reaction that humans have. Fear. It dates back to our cavemen ancestors running away from woolly mammoths. Physical fear is a throwback to our prehistoric selves. The realization was rather amazing.

And then it happens. The adrenalin-activated fear causes another body reaction.

Flatulence.

Yes. I start to fart.

I never knew I could fart that much.

You’d think I was a man or something.

What the hell? Did the cavemen scare away woolly mammoths by farting at them?

Good thing it was my husband in the yard. And not a bear.

I didn’t really want to test the prehistoric fart theory.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Enough sadness for this week, and for the past, and for the world.

My goal in life is to laugh like my mother at 91:

momlaughing4-5-15rev

Happy Mother’s Day!

Not Having Children

Note: I wrote this essay fourteen years ago. This Mother’s Day, I find I am ready to share it.

NOT HAVING CHILDREN

I married when I was forty.

It was amazing at that age how many people asked me if we were going to have children. No, I’d say, We’re not having children. What is amazing to me now is that I thought I was lying. Keeping a secret.

Of course we would have children. Forty is still young.

I’m lucky. Lucky in my career, first of all. I am immodest enough to know that my business success is largely due to brains and hard work, but I am also honest enough to know that a part of my success is the result of just too much time on my hands. I work hard because I have no place better to be. I’m not so much ambitious as simply trying to pass the time as interestingly as possible. People at the office listen to me, value my opinion, and pay me pretty good money. How ungrateful I am to rather have a baby.

And on top of a great career, I found a husband at forty. A nice one. Those horrible statistics say I have a better chance of being hit by a meteor. And I want a baby too?

My husband never quite felt the same way. He’s a few years older than I, and was married before to a woman who could not have children. He got used to the idea years ago that children weren’t in his future. He has no experience with kids. He doesn’t think he’d be a good father.

He’d be a wonderful father. I’ve seen how he adores and protects our little cats – feeding them treats from the table, gently untangling knots from their coats, bragging about their exploits long after his audience has lost interest, and, in time, building small cedar coffins through his tears.

When we married, he knew I wanted a baby. He just couldn’t know the completeness of my desire

Early in our marriage, I was late with my period. My anxiety and happiness overwhelmed me. I found myself sitting still for long stretches, holding my breath, counting the seconds until my life changed forever. Two long weeks. I was terrified that it wouldn’t be true; I failed to see that my husband’s fear was different. A baby would be great…but…financially, things are tough right now, it would be career-limiting for you, we’ll be retirement age when college tuition is due, we could die leaving a child for someone else to raise… I never really listened past A baby would be great. When my period finally came, I was quietly devastated. My husband was kind and sweet, but woven through his condolences were the unmistakable threads of relief. I spent all day in bed with the shades drawn. I’d feel him every so often watching me helplessly from the doorway, as if he knew he could not enter my grief. I guess it would be nice to have a baby, he said. I know how happy it would make you.

I am the most selfish person on earth.

The following month my doctor recommended a fertility specialist. I put the referral in my purse, knowing I wouldn’t call.

But even without professional help, I was sure I would get pregnant. Every month I was sure. For ten years. I still cry when I get my period. I try to keep this private but sometimes my husband sees. He comforts me, and I hope he thinks that it’s just hormones. At my age, it probably is.

I am very jealous of mothers. I am jealous of teenage mothers. I am jealous of older mothers. I am jealous of women who get pregnant the first month they try. And I am jealous of women who finally, finally, after miscarriages and disappointments, have their babies.

And now I am fifty. We’re not having children.

Not having children doesn’t take any big adjustments. I am already living a childless life. Now it’s just permanent. It’s a very good life, and it will continue exactly as before. I just have to make some minor modifications of my imagination.

For thirty years I’ve watched mothers with their children and stored little scenes for my own future. I have stolen other women’s moments like a shoplifter who keeps all her pilfered items in the closet, afraid to wear them. My closet is full.

But these clothes don’t fit me any more. It’s time to pack up these images likes bundles for Goodwill.

The first day of school, Mother’s Day cards and macaroni necklaces. Ice skating, singing Old MacDonald in the car. Chicken pox and computer games; soccer practice. Tantrums. Cheerios in the sofa cushions, bicycles in the driveway.

They are such little pictures. Insignificant really. Someone else’s memories. Time to give them up. We’re not having children.

At the restaurant a young boy rests his head for a moment on his mother’s breast. She smooths his hair. He returns to his pizza. Last year I would have certainly snatched up that moment. But now I have no place to put it. I let it go.

There is an emptiness where my vision of the future used to be. But not forever. I am a women with aspirations after all. So I know that there will be new images. Maybe warm fireplaces and good books. Fresh flowers on the table. Beaches. Sunsets. Conversations. Porch swings. I tend to think these new dreams will be quieter dreams, but I know that they are already waiting for me.

All these years I have been saving money for a rainy day that was secretly a college education. But we’re not having children. The money has been redirected.

My husband and I are building a home in the country. It’s a wonderful home on a breathtakingly beautiful piece of land. My husband and I designed the house ourselves. So it has almost everything we ever wanted.

Remember the movie, Grand Canyon? I don’t think the critics liked it, but I did. In one storyline, Mary McDonnell is out jogging and finds an abandoned baby in the bushes. She keeps it. Her husband is not crazy about the idea, but he is Kevin Kline and fabulous and their relationship is perfect and they have such a healthy outlook on life that you know it will work out beautifully.

Sometimes when I am out walking, I keep my eyes on the shrubbery.

Photo credit: deovolenti (Flickr)

Photo credit: deovolenti (Flickr)

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*Originally published on The Huffington Post

Music Lessons

When I was a little girl, my mother told me, “You can do anything you want.”

But she added a caveat: “You won’t be good at everything, but you can do everything.”

This was such sane advice. And as a result, I always felt a level of calm security entering into anything new. I could do it. And I might do it well or I might do it poorly – but I could do it.

Secretly though, I never wanted to do anything poorly. I was smart. If only I applied myself, I could not only do everything. I could do it well.

And I am smart. And I do a lot of thing pretty well.

But my mother was right.

As usual.

I hate that. Not that Mom was right. That’s inevitable. I hate sucking at something.

My mother did not have a lot of advantages as a kid. But she was never very envious of other people’s lives either. But one thing she did envy. Musicians.

How she loved people who could make music. So as soon as she could scrape up a few dollars, she bought a huge old upright piano (an old player piano, rollers and bellows included) and had it hoisted up to our second floor apartment. I think they had to take out the window frame to get it through. And then she scraped up enough additional money to give us girls piano lessons. Actually, just barely enough for two lessons a week, so with three daughters, we rotated – each taking a week off from lessons every third week.

My oldest sister – Chris, the most brilliant of us – took her lessons and practiced to an adequate level of competence, but did not care very much. When she entered high school and could make her own decisions about her courses of study, she dropped music. As far as I know, she hasn’t played anything since but the radio.

The middle sister was born to play. Claudia loved her lessons, she loved her piano, she loved to practice. How many kids have to be told to stop practicing for a while, and come and eat supper? And what a connection she had to the music, and still has. She’s a natural musician. And she not only played piano, once she had the opportunity to learn more, she played cello and bassoon and glockenspiel and marimba. Now she plays violin. Terrific violin. She belongs to a Fiddler’s group and plays at fairs and events.

Skipping down to my little brother, who came late enough in our family to miss our neighbor-lady piano teacher. He took saxophone as a kid, and later took up electric bass for a rock back, bass fiddle for the local symphony, and now – believe it or not – the bagpipes for a pipers marching band. He wears a kilt and everything. My brother is one of those determined types, who sets his mind to something and will not give up. I can’t say he has the natural soul for the music that Claudia does, but he plays well through practice, hard work and pig-headed determination.

Then there’s me. Me of the two-weeks-on, one-week-off piano lessons. I have music in my soul. I really do. But I don’t have music in my fingers. I really don’t. I haven’t got the sheer willpower to master an instrument that my brother has, and I don’t have the practicality of my older sister, who easily gave it up.

I tried piano. I play haltingly. Years ago I memorized Fur Elise and Silent Night, so if someone ever asked me play something, I could. I can still do it… the first eight bars of each anyway.

And I tried guitar. As a teenager I wanted to be Joan Baez. But my fingers are tiny and I can’t quite manage the chords. I learned FOUR songs. (in four years)

I gave the guitar to my brother years ago. I have my own piano though, and I sit and stumble through “Over The Rainbow” when I dust.

Then several months ago, Groupon gave me a terrific offer – One whole year of online ukulele lessons for $15.  What did I have to lose? My musician sister, Claudia, lent me a beautiful ukulele to practice with. (Yeah, she had a spare gorgeous ukulele.)

ukulele

Claudia’s Ukulele. With mother-of-pearl inlay.

I thought, now THIS I can do. My small fingers can fit around a little ukulele. And there are only four strings, as opposed to six (or more) on the guitar. Anyone can play the ukulele. Tiny Tim could play the ukulele. I am smarter than Tiny Tim.

But I can’t.

I can’t get through Lesson 14. Bryan is so patient with me. He says exactly the same thing and plays the same thing over and over. (It’s a video.) He never loses his temper.

But I can’t play it.

I will give the ukulele back to my sister.

Mom is right. I can do everything. But I can’t do everything well.

I have the heart.

I don’t have the talent.

Practicing on the toilet bowl brush. If my lessons with JT continue this well, I am definitely buying a guitar.

Practicing on the toilet bowl brush. I’m afraid the ukulele is in pain. It’s hiding in the closet in my guest bedroom.

Look On The Bright Side

Don’t you just love it when someone you think is pretty smart makes an observation that matches exactly an opinion that you happen to have?  I so enjoy that validation.

This week I was reading the latest post by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess. (If you haven’t read The Bloggess, and if your taste runs to humor that is weird, wacky, and often in terrible taste – like mine does – you may want to check her out.) This week, Jenny recounted her bout with food poisoning, which was really terrible, except for the satisfactory side effect of having lost a couple of pounds.

Exactly!

I have always looked at the bright side of serious illness. At least you lose weight.

Which reminded me, in a weird wacky and tasteless way that would make the Bloggess proud, of a coworker from many years ago. I’ll call her Barb. Which is an appropriate thing to call her since that was her name. Barb was born with a birth defect and only had one arm. She wore a prosthesis. One day over lunch she told me with a laugh that her artificial arm was an extremely effective weapon. And on top of that, she took it off when she weighed herself.

Well, I was impressed. Not by the usual  “positive attitude of the poor handicapped person” – but by the very convenience of having a built-in weapon. She actually had me a bit envious of her prosthesis. I wished I could take off a piece of myself before I stepped on the scale.

Yes, illness has its benefits. And not just the fact that people feel bad for you and take care of you – even though that is really really nice.

For instance, I have long had the idea that one advantage to being in a coma for a while is that you could grow out your hair without having to put up with that awkward in-between stage.

A stretch in prison could have the same effect.  (And to my male readers – all 3 of you – think of all those prison movies where the inmates are always working out. Think how buff you could be with some time in the slammer.)

And speaking of crime – many years ago my purse was stolen. It was a real pain in the ass. I was scheduled for a business trip in just two days, and so I had to replace my driver’s license and credit card in one day. But there was a silver lining in that aggravating cloud. For the next several months, every time I couldn’t find something, instead of tearing the house apart in frustration, I just figured that the missing item must have been in the stolen purse. I saved about a zillion hours searching for shit.

Breaking stuff can turn out okay too. Once I dropped the lasagna just as I was taking it out of the oven. I cried so hard my husband not only picked up the glass-and-marinara mess, he took me out to dinner. Not so bad.

Of course, it’s a tricky balancing act to enjoy the bad stuff when it comes to husbands.

Do you remember the 1990 movie “Crazy People”? Dudley Moore is an ad executive, who has a nervous breakdown and starts to write honest ads. He ends up in a mental hospital and all the other insane patients team up to help write ad copy.

One of my favorite ads was this:

crazypeopleinsurance

Not long after we got married, my husband was leaving on a business trip.

As he was packing his suitcase, he said, “Just so you know, I bought the extra traveler’s insurance. I have a $250,000 policy if I should die in a plane crash.”

“Oh great,” I said. “Now what I am supposed to hope for?”

Well, my husband had not seen that movie.

It was quite a long time before he spoke to me again.

There’s No Escaping Me

About a month ago, I stumbled upon a quote by one of my favorite authors. It resonated with me, and I posted it on my Facebook author page:

annetylerquote

Yes. Yes.  This is not only why I read – it is also why I write.

I love taking myself to another world and living an alternative life.  I can be someone else.

After I saw this quote, I remembered that about six months earlier I had written a poem about living a different life through my characters.

Now you are probably thinking: Oh crap. Nancy is going to subject me to POETRY.

Well, yeah, I am.  But it’s short and it’s also easy to tell where the poem ends, so if you are worried that it will give you a migraine or hemorrhoids or something, just scroll right down to where you see I’m writing the ‘normal’ way again.

NOVEL WRITING

The pleasure
of inventing a person
is that you get to be
her for a time
and she may be
nothing like you
so you get to be
nothing like you
oh sure
she’s in your head
so she shares
your philosophy
but she’s taller
and younger
with a cooler name
like Willow
like Mercedes
lovelier
not smarter
she could never be smarter
she could be braver
and being
her for a time
you could kiss
more boys
in high school

#

All done. You survived. But here’s the thing:  Although I think I am able to become another person in my writing, I have just had the revelation that I’m not.

I can live a different life, but I cannot be (at least not yet) a different person.

Last weekend I was participating in a book sale/author signing and once again, a customer thought the photo on the cover of my book was me. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened – and the person is STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.  Looking at me and my book. And thinking that the woman is me!

I explain good-naturedly that no, the cover photo is just a representation of the main character in the story.

And the person always says, “But it looks just like you.”

Well, no.  I’m flattered of course, as I chose a very pretty woman for my cover.

She happens to be blonde. But I think the similarity ends right there.

JustWhatIAlwaysWanted2500x1563 (1)

me selling books rev

Me selling the book that does not have me on the cover.

But I realized that I am talking PHYSICAL similarity. Because looking back over the fiction I have written to date, I see now that all the characters are me.

I may think I am creating a new life for myself, but I am only creating new situations for myself.

So far, I have written a novel, the beginnings of a second novel, a novella (not published, but I’m thinking about it) and dozens of short stories.

And I see that every protagonist has my personality.

I even wrote a story about a guy, and HE was like me. And his wife was like me. And of course she was very happy to be married to a man who was so clever.

I think I need to try fiction that’s really fiction.

I should see if I could invent a person who doesn’t resemble yours truly. She could be voluptuous and religious and serious and politically conservative. Or he could. (except the voluptuous part.)

Do I want to?

Nah.

I want to live the lives of the people I invent. And I’m going there with me intact.

What fun would it be to have all those adventures if it’s not me?

Me. And Cynthia, Aggie, Liz, Lucinda, Jackie - and David.

Me. And Cynthia, Aggie, Liz, Lucinda, Jackie – and David.

You can buy my book here. You can compare for yourself the cover photo with my photo on the back. Let me know. Did I unconsciously pick a cover shot that looks like me?

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