I admire my girlfriend's never ending optimistic attitude toward life. She signs all her letters with Frank Sinatra's song lyrics, "The Best is Yet to Come." Says the same thing when the girls get together and raise their glasses of wine. I don't, however, believe it...
I consider myself a realist. The new year is coming and it may hold the best for you. Maybe you'll get a promotion, your teenager will be voted homecoming queen, you'll see your unborn child's heartbeat on the ultrasound. I hope that something happens so extraordinarily awesome that it rocks your world.
But along with all that incredible good fortune, you will suffer. Your air conditioner may breakdown in the middle of the worst heat wave in Texas, the IRS will discover a discrepancy in your taxes...you may lose a loved one. Thinking about those things doesn't make me a pessimist. As I said, I'm a realist.
What's the difference, you ask? Let me tell you.
I had been called to my mom's memory care center (she has Alzhiemer's) for yet another problem. As I entered the building a thought popped into my head...this will never end. I almost staggered at the concept. Endless issues, mostly with no solutions. It took me a bit to unravel... to recover... from that insight. But I did.
Here is the undeniable truth...none of us knows what will happen in 2018. I'm going to assume the worst. You know what I'm talking about, of course. A zombie apocalypse. There's been so much talk, after all. So, if my days on earth are numbered, I'm going to savor what I have left.
This morning I saw the sunrise as I went for my run. Beautiful. I've had some hamstring pain which has put me in a panic. If I can't run... I could lose my mind. Twinges to my thigh as I jogged, but it's healing. Thank God. Somewhere in India, they keep growing tea. Bless them. My cat did not climb on my chest and tap my cheek in the middle of the night. Ok, I won't feed her to the zombies. All day today, I can eat until I'm full. I can shower past removing the sweat- just because it feels good.
Frank is wrong. The best is not to come...it's already here. We just have to learn to recognize it.
Is this what your Thanksgiving looked like? Probably not. Our Thanksgiving dinners aren't traditional anymore.
This year we had a Spanish themed dinner and our menu was made up of recipes like- Ensalada mixta (Spanish mixed green salad), Catalan spinach, green beans with Marcona almonds, sliced ham and paella. Yup, it took me three grocery stores to pull these ingredients together and Central Market was the winner for having the most obscure, impossible to find items.
Paella is a seafood dish, cooked over an open flame (husband loves doing that) with rice, peas and spices I didn't ask about. There are thousands of variations of the recipe including a black paella that features squid ink (No- thank you). We had a pretty generic version.
Last year was Italian. Turkey meatball soup, pumpkin lasagna. Cranberry bellinis. The goal is to take apart some of the core items of Thanksgiving and put them back together in a different theme. Not everyone agrees with this. I've seen the eye-rolling. I don't care.
I'm not ready.
For whatever reason, I associate Thanksgiving with my dad. He's no longer here. We had the same menu each year, he sat at the same spot each year....you see where I am going?
So, I reinvented Thanksgiving. One year, I did fried chicken (close enough to turkey, right?) on sweet potato waffles. I'd never fried chicken before but I did research and trials and... it worked. And I got through another year.
I don't know if my table will ever see a traditional Thanksgiving again. I'm giving myself time...and apparently... it's taking a long time.
But meanwhile, I had a wonderful dinner. My family came home, my friends came over, we cooked new recipes and laughed a lot. I couldn't have asked for a better day. It's a lot to be thankful for.
This is my forearm. I'm thinking about getting a tattoo here. More on that later...
It's been a difficult morning. I got up early and starting revisions on the second book. Read a paragraph three times and wondered why in the world I ever thought I could do this. It was horrible. And I wasn't sure how to fix it. This whole writing business is infuriating, demoralizing, aggravating...thought-provoking, stirring, intoxicating. Addictive.
My editor no longer reprimands me how often I mention tea in my book. I cut back on that considerably. By cutting back, I mean my characters...not me...see upper right corner.
She does have other issues (sigh):
Below are some quick numbers of overused verbs, in all their variants (like look/looked/looking). I know this issue is on your radar for polishing passes—I want to keep it there. look = 199 stare = 28 glance = 28 glimpse = 2 gaze = 29 frown = 13 smile = 33 laugh = 14 expression = 36 on his/her face = 16 nod = 48 shook his/her head = 28 eyes = 191 eyed = 11 eye = 10
That wasn't all she wrote, but that's all I'm brave enough to show you...
Back to the tattoo. She closed a rather long letter with the following line:
This was great fun to read, Susan.
I needed that...Wouldn't that look good as a tattoo? Just so I could have a reminder...
Do you ever see an old house and something about it just strikes you as right? You couldn't quite put your finger on it...was it the open porch or the dormers rising from the roofline? Did it look something like this?
You're looking at a Craftsman style house and Tulsa is loaded with them. These houses were part of the Arts and Craft movement, a reaction to the Industrial Revolution where emphasis was placed on mass production. Arts and Crafts supporters valued quality over quantity.
This house represents more than a style, it's the embodiment of a philosophy about life. No, really, hear me out. This movement valued handcraftsmanship but also rejected the overly stuffed, ornate homes from the Victorian age.
To summarize, the Arts and Crafts movement focused on simple values:
-find joy in work
-design and create affordable objects
-live the simple life
-connect with nature
William Morris, one of the leaders in the movement, believed that the designs were a "uniting of the heart and the mind with the hand."
Next time you see a little Bungalow, maybe you'll understand the attraction.
My husband was gone on an extended business trip and the yard was looking neglected. I put on some old jeans and headed to the garage. Poured some gas in the mower, grabbed the plastic bar and tugged. Nothing. Tugged again...and flashed back to an earlier time...
"Again!" His voice was coarse, demanding. My girlfriend bent her scrawny body over the mower and pulled the starter with all of her might. Nothing. The cord snapped back into the engine. "Pull harder!" her father insisted. I held my breath and watched. She anchored her foot, jerked the cord. Nothing. "Do. It. Again." Katie looked up at her dad and cried out, "I can't do it." I believed her. This was not the first time for me to see this interaction between the two of them. I'd gone home and asked my dad if I could start the mower. He narrowed his eyes at me like I was asking to juggle steak knives, turned and walked away without answering. I was thirteen, just like she was. Katie let me try one day when we were alone in her garage. I was slightly bigger than she was, thought I was stronger. I couldn't do it, I couldn't start the mower no matter how hard I tugged.
Her father pulled the cord and the machine rumbled to life. She guided it outside where 3/4 of an acre waited for her. Katie could not stand upright to mow the grass, she leaned into the handle, pushed with her small frame. If she stumbled in the yard, lost her grip, the mower would die and she would be forced to try to start it again.
When we played alone in her room, Katie whispered that she had the meanest dad in the world. I thought so too. It wasn't uncommon for him to show up at the door frame and insist that it was time to do chores. She would beg for me to wait in her room... he would tell me in his gruff voice that it was time to go home. Unusual chores. Like working on the car and making home repairs. Nothing like the dusting I did. Meanest dad ever.
Are you getting the picture? Maybe not.
Let me tell you what that same scene looks like through the eyes of a... doctor.
Katie's dad had a perpetual frown and one eye squinted, which if you are a child, gave him the look of an evil pirate. He walked with a limp, his voice was rough.
He'd had a stroke.
He died by the time Katie was in high school, when he was still a young man.
He knew was going to die. He was preparing her in the only way he knew how to. Can you imagine?
Here's to fathers that work to make their children strong. For whatever comes their way.
I'm going on a Virtual Book Tour!
What does that mean? My book "The Oath: Maddy and Silenus" will be featured on several Book Blog sites. If you go to the site that day, you may just learn some fascinating information (some of them had some very odd questions they wanted me to answer!). I hope you'll take a moment and check it out...I'm listing the days and the corresponding sites. I'll also list it daily on Facebook. Happy traveling!
November 13: Christine Young
November 14: Edgar's Books
November 14: Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews
November 15: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
November 16: It's Raining Books
November 17: The Reading Addict
November 20: The Avid Reader
November 21: Long and Short Reviews
November 22: Sorchia's Universe
November 22: The Kronicles of Korthlundia: A Window into Fantasy
November 24: Kit 'N Kabookle
November 24: Up 'Til Dawn Book Blog
I knew they weren't exaggerating. Even as they explained the trouble he was getting into at school, his head was dangling upside down from the exam table. I slid my stool over, pushed my hand through his sleek hair and stopped his downward progress toward a certain fall. Uninterrupted, his parents continued their litany while he threw me a toothy smile.
Today, I remember the feel of his silky hair and think of another boy. Eddie (not his real name) was my patient in the ICU. I was so scared, terrified really, for him that I was willing to stand up to his surgeon. I twirled from his bedside when the man finally arrived. Like missiles, I hurled out my concerns... the difficulty managing his blood pressures, the critical labs that worsened daily...the very real possibility that he could die if he didn't return to the OR.
The surgeon remained impassive after my fervent pleas. Crossed his arms over his chest and finally spoke.
"If I take him back, he will never be able to feel again".
Eddie had meningococcemia. I read a brochure once that described it as "a very serious infection". That is an understatement. Initially, Eddie had flu symptoms. Then he had a pink rash...that turned into bruises all over his body. Within hours, the blood supply to his extremities was lost and the infection was wrecking havoc on his little 3 year old body. To save his life, the surgeon removed his two legs at the knees, his left arm at the elbow. He took off half of his right hand. This was the hand I wanted removed, where the infection still lingered and shot out toxins that threatened Eddie's life.
I had no rebuttal. I watched the man pivot and walk away.
For two more days, I felt like I held Eddie's half-hand as he dangled over a large crevasse. I prayed, murmured to him and anxiously watched his monitors. Until finally, slowly, his color improved and his vitals stabilized. And Eddie was left with the ability to feel.
What are you grateful for? I'm thankful for the vaccine that prevents this illness, the surgeon that refused to go to the operating room...my ability to touch...to feel.