The Seymour Agency’s Second Winter Writer’s Escape

I went to a conference, a winter escape into a writer’s paradise of classes, introductions, and learning to pitch a novel to agents and publishers. The Seymour Agency sponsored it, providing excellent speakers on topics of forensics, crafting a novel, fiction, nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy, romance and mystery. Tor Publishing and Sourcebook spent time working to focus writers so that their books might make that great award in the sky of publishing a novel.

Can you imagine the opportunity to take an ocean cruise, see Nassau and Cozumel, meet exotic people, and spend time working on completing a dream? That’s what this agency did for me. While I was learning the foundations of forensics through the eyes of a woman who was raised by two medical examiners and now consulted with Hollywood to make shows believable, my husband read books, sat in the sun, and took a lot of naps. I think I mentioned that he worked nights and slept days, so we are always at crossed schedules.

I met a lovely young woman named Leslie who is a professional editor. She wanted to show us exactly what a copy editor does. Presenting using an overhead projector, she could have taught any school in Virginia that one third of the Standards of Learning that includes grammar, spelling, cohesiveness, and proper word choice. I think she felt a bit strange, what with most of us being over thirty-five, sitting poised on the edge of our chairs to catch every bullet point. She’s a great example of a woman who knows her craft and loves it. She blushed and smiled at us. She reminds me of a sparrow, always busy, always working, always available to listen. I love sparrows. They are a workforce of correctness with a chirp of encouragement. (Please don’t take offense, Leslie, if you don’t like birds. I mean well.)

The agency was started by Mary Sue Seymour, who died last year from cancer. My friend Andy had submitted to her last summer, and the response she gave him was clear advice, helpful tips, and a push to keep working on his book. He said she was the best refusal he ever received. She was a marathoner, a motivational powerhouse, and a believer in the power of the written world. She was also approachable. I’ve added her to the list of people that we walk for cancer to raise awareness and funding for. Before hearing about her, my list was mostly family. But she deserves to be remembered for her effort, indeed her fight, to care for others to the very end. Writers can be difficult, like herding earthworms who surface and then dive for the depths of the earth to get their quiet writing done.

I met Nicole, a senior agent, via email when I was registering. I told her I was related to Murphy, and boy has this been a year for Murphy. Since September, the family has had three totaled cars, one new baby, one thief, one hospitalization, one set of messed up paperwork, several temper tantrums, sixty hour work weeks for my husband, an angry daughter-in-law, a misplaced Christmas spirit and more. Yes, Murphy and I are more than friends, we must be related. There were bumps and bruises in my registration, and Nicole elevated me to human status and solved everything in less than five minutes. She’s one of those women who see you when you speak, listen to your meaning as well as your words, and gently pushes you in the right direction without your knowing it. On top of that, she’s a mother, wife, powerhouse of knowledge and a compassionate human being. It was my honor to meet her. Because of her, I walked away from the conference confident that I’m on the right path.

I met with Diane from Tor Books over a bottle of water in the champagne bar. I pitched my second book, the one science fiction with a naive but determined group of young women, and she gave me guidance on what genre it was, a space opera, a list of authors to read, and a good push to finish the one I’m halfway through. She was a gracious listener and I was her very last pitch. Publishers don’t usually meet with you face to face. She gave Tor books a gracious personality.

Deb from Sourcebooks, who handles a lot of romances, was hosting Stitch and Pitch sessions at odd times and scheduled times throughout the week. She sat and knitted, or unwound tangled yarn with the assistance of an extra pair of hands from one of the participants, as we learned how to talk about our novels. I don’t think she realizes that her honesty is unusual into todays age. Where things were lacking, she was quick to point them out. Her questions were pointed and she listened to the first words out of your mouth, then refocused you on what you were trying to say. You need to know your genres, your sub-genres, plot, characters and put it into one to three sentences because publishers don’t have a lot of time. Neither do agents. They can receive hundreds of manuscripts in a week and you need to catch the eye quickly. She also said to follow the directions on every agent and publisher’s submission guide. For writers, apparently we aren’t always good at communicating.

First line manuscripts were subjected to panels of participants and agents and evaluated on their originality, quality, and foreshadowing. No one is harder to please that a writer evaluating other writers. There was a panel on what happens when real life occurs and you are trying to write (I qualified for this lecture by more than a handful of life experiences getting in the way.) There was a panel about what genres are selling, one about diversity in literature, another about keywords and social media platforms, and I ran from one to the next with notes on my laptop and scribbled into a green notebook they had given all of us.

I had a good time and learned a lot of new information. It helped heal the pain of losing my mentor ten days before the trip. My husband was impressed that I had so much energy. We were both ready for my collapse when we got off the ship and started the second part of our trip. It took me four days to recover, but when I did I was still really excited. In fact, I hope they are going to sponsor a trip next February. I’m going to go again.

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The Smithy

http://www.thewritingreader.com/blog/2016/12/18/prompt-1942-visual-prompt-of-the-week-the-smithy/

It was work, good wholesome work, that held the nation together with each nail or mended wheel. The tools of the trade were honest, having no pretense or subterfuge like found in politics. Hard tools for making horse shoes and knowing that life was better for the way the shoe fit.

My great grandfather was a smithy. He and his wife formed a team that could take on the world. They followed the principal that hard work made for honesty. They were a partnership of American ingenuity and creativity, making things that would last and be valued. On Sundays, he became the minister and she the minister’s wife. Their congregation came to church to hear sermons that extolled virtue, charity, and kindness and left feeling that the world was a wonderful place to be in. They were all one generation that followed the pioneer spirit that led to the expansion of the United States, and they were proud.

Having followed the legacy of their parents, and having bloomed in the black rich soil of Minnesota, they cherished education and culture above all else. It was this passion that brought music, theater, literature and art and made them more than simple folk. And they took their congregation with them. They were members of the Grange, a society that stood for the good in mankind. It stood for the civilized expansion of farmers, blacksmiths, small town storekeepers and it kept life refined. She played the violin, he smoked his pipe and told the young ones stories from the bible. There were contests in spelling and grammar, the spelling bee being a way to bring children up, rather than see them running wild in the world. Everything had a order to it.

Generational families lived in a house or close by. Mothers were there to help Grandmothers. Grandfathers were there to teach the young boys how to become men. Life had a purpose, and the ideals of the middle class were brought to light in the fires of the smith.

My mother was sent to my great grandparents when her parents needed time to do things that a little girl might be a pest during. But she was welcomed, hugged, given a kiss and sent to play out in the gardens with grandmother’s watchful eye keeping an eye on her. Once when she wanted to play with a bee, and wouldn’t listen to that clear warning voice, she was shocked into behaving by the application of cold water from the hose her grandmother was using to water the kitchen garden. The cold water was followed by a hug and another warning that bees needed to be bees and little girls shouldn’t play with them. There was no trauma, no extensive punishing needed. There were rules and they were best followed.

Her grandfather would work in the shop, making things for the house when he had no customers for the day. Or he would create and set aside the makings for wheels and horseshoes so that customers wouldn’t have to wait. He was always thinking ahead. New inventions fascinated him. He’d quickly learn which parts might need fixing, which parts he could mend, for that is what a blacksmith takes pride in.  Somedays he would ask Grandmother to assist him in creating an order. She was meticulous in measuring and sizing. When she had down what was needed doing, she’d return the to house where there was always something that needed doing.

Neighbors would come to tea some afternoons. They would sit at the polished kitchen and discuss the community, but never gossip. Something would have to be done, and someone was designated to do it. A young lady needed advice, and grandmother would undertake that mission after clarifying why she needed the advice. She was the backbone of the women’s charity. Every summer and fall, between harvests, the women would meet to make quilts, or clothes. The pins and needles were kept busy.

You never talked badly about your neighbor. No, instead you would listen and make the comment to change the opinion of the other. If someone was afraid that civilization would fail, she’d bolster the person to make them feel positive instead.

When a fire burnt a neighbors house, the family would rally the church to go make things right. Supplies would be donated, windows glassed, iron reinforcements used in the corners of the wooden houses. When a death occurred, the husband and wife would be the first to help the survivors mourn.

It was the smithy that caused young men to go to school and learn. It was the minister’s wife who encouraged the women to go to college. If there were funds in the church budget, small scholarships would be given for those who needed the assistance. These were never in the form of a loan, but given with the idea that education would widen your horizons so you could help others.

I know that there were problems, medical science was in its infancy and so illness was an evil that lurked in the shadows. I know also that there were wars in the future. Eventually technology surpassed the smithy, lessening the need for his services. But they prevailed over those things too. It was the iron and the smithy that brought my great-grandparents to Minnesota in a time when they were needed. They were the backbone of the community, the innovators, the compassionate.

Music, Poetry, Prose and Changing Times

Music, poetry and writing are the methods of following change in the U.S. Music uses repetition, rhythm and where it helps, rhyme. Rhyme is difficult because it has to further the message without over simplifying it. The movement of the blues and jazz, of black hymns, of swing, put such energy into music of the common man that we needed the sixties events to sway us into all of the rock genres. We had radios. That’s nothing in today’s world but in the sixties and seventies TVs and radios became cost effective to own. It was a social revolution. The process of miniaturization was on the development tables. We had seat belts in cars. We didn’t have to rely on a newspaper that was out of date before it was printed. No, words of the doings of man seemed rocketed to us. And we sang songs and danced to welcome the changes.
At the time I was in college studying music performance in the 70s, there was a dispute over the role of modern music (as it’s now labeled). We studied the classics, progressive, gregorian chant, romantics, baroque, and folk music through the ages. Plus we had our own style emerging in direct response to our environment. The music of the sixties and seventies was so powerful that it swayed a huge portion of the population into a passionate response. There were messages that were so powerful they couldn’t be spoken with the same impact. We demonstrated, stood up for rights and believed we could achieve them. We saw West Side story on the TV with Leonard Bernstein conducting. We wept tears at a story that Shakespeare told so long ago put into our world where racism was real and the South was dangerous. Times changed quickly. Things that seemed my parents had always known suddenly exposed themselves for what they were, new and changing to meet the demands of the entire population of the U.S.When I graduated in 1975, Native Americans were about to be given the vote if they lived on so-called government “reservations.” In 1976, Title 9 came into being giving women a new outlet in sport. It was a real challenge. In 1977, I was in the last basic training class of only women. We wore the Woman’s Army Corps insignia all the way through basic, and it was retired with our graduation. Standards changed and people changed with them.

Poetry and music lyrics share similarities, and they both deviate in how they are used. The tools are there.  California Dreaming is said to have a simple set of lyrics, but the concept was new. The method of delivery was new. The fact that the idea was accessible was also something new. We’d seen and heard Elvis. He outlined the status quo for us. We saw John Wayne who was the ultimate macho man. We learned from the music that the Beach Boys sang. And there were many new lessons.  We didn’t have to stay in one place for the rest of our lives. We could travel and that concept brought on a period of extreme social change, and because of the Kennedy brothers being murdered, the image of Jackie’s son saluting the flag covered coffin, the tragic death of Martin Luther King Jr, the music we heard was portraying both sides of our society, good and ill.

We knew more. We questioned our roles as women, becoming a stronger voice for the right to be more than in the past. Men had to choose an image that the TV wanted to suppress, macho or stupid were portrayed as the two options they had. The TV hyped Jackie Gleason and John Wayne. But there were strong elements there too ; The Smothers Brothers and Laugh In. Intelligence in both sides of our species. Only the messages mattered. I watched those “Commie Pinko Shows” with my parents and we loved to laugh at the mixture of music, jokes, skits and just plain fun. It was hard to believe that that was dissident thinking, it’s still hard for me to believe. It seemed like the John Stewart Daily Show, a representation of our world with humor.

My generation talked. My mother’s generation talked and we communicated. That was strange. For many many years when I needed a wise best friend, my mother was the one to turn to, she always had a song for an aching heart, a melody for an infant, a poem for a toddler. She’s still my best friend. But, I digress, we were talking about love and (deep breath) sex. That was new. We were talking about current events and we knew them because of the TV and radio. We talked about, sang about, and demanded social change. For a little while, things did change. It looked like the dreams of the 60s were coming true. I was all in favor of a nicer kinder world, like the one Stevie Wonder sang about. I loved his lyrics, music and optimism. I loved Peter Paul and Mary, and Janis Ian, Phoebe Snow, Shawn Phillips, the Who, and the what, where, and why.

Then came the period of the 80s and our social progression and ethics changed. We became more egocentric, the accumulation of things by adults became more intense. Money was the important thing. Do unto others before they do unto you. You saw the black rage at society with rap because of the inequities that life provided them, again with rhyme and a strong bass, words so powerful that they broke your heart, angered you, or made you sorrow. You had grunge begin in the white population in protest of materialism, surely there had to be more to life than this existence, and suicide took some of the best artists. You saw alcoholism appear strongly in music where it had been mostly in prose before that time. Drug addiction was still referred to with stealthy whispers, “Only that kind of person does drugs.”

Then the internet took off. We could afford computers at home that had more power in each case that the huge rooms of data banks from the past. They improved every day. Technology doubling itself, faster and faster. There was a rebooting of the seventies material in the 2000s, issues that had been laid aside, brought their messages back. It looks simplistic but it represents who and what we are today.

Poetry is complex with people finding a voice in a nearly forgotten format. It isn’t always clear in its message, it requires thought and the interpretation doesn’t guarantee that you understand what the author meant. But the reader’s message is equally valid. Old dusty professors will always come up with a different interpretation that those studying under them, twenty to forty years younger. Time changes our outlook. Music simplifies the message. Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait is straight forward and the music heightens the experience so you don’t forget the simple words. Puff the Magic Dragon was and is a story for the imagination of the young and old, not a drug message. Where have All the Flowers Gone is a song about the repetition of the mistakes that we repeat as a society. The Beach Boys was about having some fun and not becoming too serious to soon. “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tack and they’re all made out of ticky tack and they all look just the same.” A protest about the loss of creativity and the sameness that felt forced upon us.

The audience and the message have to concur before fame occurs. We have something to say, audience needs to want it. Music and writing are two vehicles to send a message that will leave footprints long after we are gone. The amazing thing is that because of the internet, writing and music are marching around the world demanding to be read and heard. Cuba allowed some old English rockers to perform in Cuba and they wanted to go meet fans who could have been jailed for listening. They performed for free. Imagine that. Classical music is performed for free on the streets and plazas of the world. Day concerts of Beethoven, so that the music lives on. Bach is used to heighten our knowledge of math. So is Mozart. Wagner introduced a social message that helped bring on World War II and the quest for supremacy. What a powerful medium emerged! Tolkien took Wagner’s message and wrote a message of opposition and unity in the face of evil. There was a cartoon, Wizards, that took a cartoon audience through the message that Tolkien took four lengthy novels to write. Before Tolkien was Dickens with his eternal belief that we have to believe in the good of people, that good would overcome greed, that good people would be rewarded. There was Plath who suffered from severe bouts of depression, her poetry was part of her therapy. She needed meds. We all have a little bit of all who have come before and while poetry-blind as the times may be, I know a revolution of poets just waiting to emerge. Just check in on LinkedIn.

It isn’t the written word alone that is swaying thought, it’s the combination of music and attainable art, attainable word, dance, politics, social ills, and the acceptance of change. There is nothing simple about it. I find myself singing the damnedest things at strange moments. And behind all of the musicians, writers, politicians, do gooders and tyrants are the messages that the common human needs to hear to preserve their sense of self. There’s nothing simple about lyrics, only that when analyzed out of context and condemned as primary, elementary, simplistic, and even moronic, aren’t. But the analyst is a fool to think they can control the reception something gets. We’re evolving, and we demand the right to hear ourselves reflected in art.

On the Occasion of Things

I was thrilled to see the blossoms of Spring trees over the last month. It brings a lot of random chatter to mind. Chatter that outweighs the squirrels who now bring the feeders to the back door and bang until I fill them. They’ll hang them up themselves soon. I think they have the right idea. If we want something in life badly enough, we should look to be actively working towards that goal. My goals? I want to continue reading everyday. I have two books waiting for my attention. Carl Hiassen’s Bad Monkey and Jonas Jonasson’s The One Hundred Year Old Man, who climbed out the window and disappeared, these sounded so good from the titles alone. It made me scurry to the bookstore clerk and buy them, with all the enthusiasm I learned from the backyard squirrel gang.

My husband has been following Spring training for the Nationals for the first time. He’s an Eeyore who feels like Chicken Little. But the Nats seem to be having fun. I was hesitant to show enthusiasm because if things go wrong, I get to hear about it. I don’t like drama unless it’s on the stage or in a book, so I’ve kept mum. But as the first game of the season came along, I decided to take the plunge and become a number one fan. I failed at being a cheerleader, as I cheered for all of the players from both teams. The Braves vs. the Nationals, and the pitching was fantastic. Both teams were very well coached and gave off that special aura of teams that cared. I’m supposed to stick to one side or the other, but the sportsmanship and the game intensity left me breathless and exhausted at the same time. Life can be like that. It has its showers, and thunder storms, but in the end, I want to be that person that has overcome the storms and played the game to the absolute best I can.

Fatherhood has been on the horizon. The concept of the father who works full time and the son who wants to play ball is about the economic sphere you are in. Look at LaRoche, who left the Nats, and took his golden first base mitt with him. It was in the news for several days because he retired, turned down millions of dollars to be with his son. His family is a baseball family. His father brought LaRoche to watch him practice and play. LaRoche started bringing his son when he was old enough to understand that this occupation was his father’s passion. The son was there, in the dugout and sometimes practicing, with the Nationals and never caused a disturbance of any kind. If fact, he was our good luck intern so that we took the National Baseball East award (is it called something like that?) The year he left, we didn’t win our pennant. But he was told his son wasn’t welcome at his new team. The NEW team’s management thought that his son would be a distraction. So LaRoche quit. Literally, he took his ball and went home. Six months of intensive baseball moments, and they wanted to take that father son balance and remove it from LaRoche’s life. He made the right decision. Boys need their dads. They need to toss a ball around or go biking or have a special moment together. Our society had moved from male to female to mocking males to not understanding why the male image was so hard to maintain. Or sure, being a doctor is nice, but if you have a son, shouldn’t you teach him how to be a man? Shouldn’t Fatherhood and being a man have positive ramifications? My husband worked 60 hours a week, he couldn’t be there for playing ball with my son. It’s one of his deepest regrets. It took my son a while to see what a father is. Hardworking, worried, kind, intelligent, non-apologetic and still involved as much as possible. He sees that the times he thought his dad was ignoring his needs was only part of what his dad did. Both of my children took martial arts and ballet. It was easier for me to involve them in activities that took place at the same time. When it was time for a performance or level exam, the kids would look up and there in the very back was their Dad still dressed for work, grinning his support and never missing a moment. His dad was there. He taught my son patience, even though patience was hard for him. He taught my son to respect women. He taught my son commitment. I know he would have spent more time at home if he could, but like LaRoche, he put his family first and kept us safe and loved. Mr. LaRoche is lucky to have such a wonderful opportunity.

April Fool’s Day is such a silly day. I have trouble thinking of pranks these days. My favorite Fool’s Day was when I came into the family room to tell my kids TV OFF. They had put suction cups on their heads and string tied to the TV and had their tongues hanging out of their mouths sideways moaning like zombies. Heehee, they had been listening.

I loved being a mother of two intelligent kids. They came up with the wildest ideas. A cardboard box was a castle, another was a horse (a great steed), and a big dog became a Princess protecting the dragon while the knight on his steed tried to invade. They could make up anything with whatever items were on hand. Police training was in the front, with bicycle traffic having to follow the officer’s hand signals. If you ran the light, you served five minutes in their jail. Even mothers had to comply. Dinner was slightly delayed as we waited for the traffic of the neighborhood to pass by. Sand was marvelous. We had big trucks and little trucks, Matchbox cars and generic cars, blocks for roadways and buildings, and the kids drove their vehicles around and around. I gave them a sheet and we colored a neighborhood onto it. Now they had a new map,  and it was time for The Phantom Tollbooth, a lovely way to teach words and puns, to be read at bedtime. Bedtime followed bath time which had the kids learning to take showers with an umbrella until confidence was gained and they could shower without it. We sang dinosaur songs at bedtime. There was always a book at bedtime.

There wasn’t any data on the impact of language, although my parents had done the same thing for my brothers, sister and I. I grew up reading, my children did also. Now they say a child must hear 150,000 words before they turn 5. I’m sure I gave my children twice that. The future of the world will rest with children who have heard words and have hope, and children who have been ignored because the family was too poor, too tired, and had too few resources. Poverty clones itself. I watched that happen when I taught. Parents who didn’t have the education or opportunities that I had, who had to work two or three jobs to make things work, are facing an uphill battle. Their parents didn’t have time, the freedom from prejudice, or resources. Poverty weighs on your soul. There are strong community leaders out there. People who sit on their porches or in churches or school who help change hopelessness.  Families like my parents who believed in the power of books and knowledge. We could change our situation. My mother went to college when we arrived in high school. She worked hard and got her BS, MS and PHD in six years. That was my role model. My children had their father and me. I went back to school when my daughter was in kindergarten. I worked hard and took my children to class if I couldn’t find a babysitter. I earned my Masters. Now both of my children have Masters. Intelligent kids. They’ve outdone me in their aspirations.

Baseball, flowers, kids and random thoughts today. Men empowered. Women empowered. You have to put your best foot forward in life.  I like jumping in puddles and hopping. Does that count?

The World Moves, with Force

I joined the US Army in July 1979. I left the Minnesota National Guard behind me, a series of positive and negative growth opportunity. I believed at the time that a person owed a time of service to their country, and I was the only one in my family who prepared to follow my father’s footsteps. I was a musician in a world that had no way to find opportunities in music, if you didn’t have someone to point you in the right direction. I had no one pointing careers out to me. The Army would give me a few musical opportunities, a few contacts. No mention was made about the bad things that I would learn.

I thought my dad would support my move. He had served during Korea, had played jazz, marched and made the voice of the tuba, baritone, french horn, and string bass ring across two countries. He was a genius in the art of music who was lost to the profession by a lack of contacts, a young wife, four hungry, reading children. He needed a job to take care of us, often holding two jobs until the time that would always arise when his sense of honor was affronted and he would quit. I was sure he would support my move. I was wrong.

It was my mother who glued the family together as we grew; working at jobs, creating works of art, making sure that we would never lose our home, or go too hungry. She was my friend and supporter, but she also understood that I needed the canvas to create who I was and what I stood for in my life. There was the quote, “Oh, Ann” that would follow mistakes I made. That quote follows me to now.

My father told me he would never speak to me again. He did though, calling the Commander of the Naval School of Music and letting him know of our argument. My Commander set me straight about fathers.

My mother stood strong and let me do as I believed I needed to do. None of us knew that music in Minneapolis/St. Paul was about to explode in ways that shouldn’t have been possible. I missed every single one. If only there had been an internet for me, the outcome very likely would have been different.

I went off to the Army. I packed an iron, jeans, a concert dress, a cowboy hat and a faux leather coat that would eventually crack and show it was plastic, “pleather” was the term. What I found was, some of the military are honorable men and women. Some are abusive. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, it’s been this way since the beginning of history. What surprised me was that a peacetime army would have so many heroes, and so many predators, when no one was required to be there. I wanted to serve my family, country, and the goddess music with all of  my heart.

The heroes aren’t seen on lists of heroes. I can name some. Lt. Colonel Tony Cason and his wife. They were honest hardworking people concerned for the lives of those under their command. Wherever they ended up, their standards followed them. Music under this man was a living entity. He also allowed me to believe in a love that was only beginning. He handed me to my new husband with a smile. When Lt. Colonel Cason was promoted, life changed for me.

I, like my father, found myself somewhere I didn’t think I would end up. I was married with a husband who was stationed 3000 miles away. When the harassment and the coverup of the behavior of a second commander happened, all I could think of was to find a band on the east coast. So the Army sent me to Maryland, firstly to get me out of the hair of a band that no longer wanted me to be a member. Secondly, because I was loudly protective of the women I served with, even though there was one who was an old boy herself. I ended up in a band that could have been the most cohesive band I had been in yet, but they had a problem communicating between top and bottom ranks. Shortly after I arrived, several members where prosecuted for possession of illegal substances. The commander of the band decided that because I was nice to these members, as I was nice to everyone, that I must have been a drug dealer. He called me into his office to let me know how miserable he was going to make my life, destroy my reputation, and destroy my marriage to one of Fort Myer’s Charlie Company’s enlisted. I had enough. I laughed. Yes, I laughed. I told the commander he had no power over me. I had just found out that I was pregnant with my first child. I was willing to take any blood test needed. I had base housing, bring it on. And, after all that, I was leaving. I walked down to the Admin building and filed for a discharge. It was granted and I was given time to serve in the inactive reserve. My sense of honor had been affronted, so I did what my dad did, I walked.

I’m sorry I lost my chance of music as a career. It hurts to this day. What I gained was a family with two children, now well grown and establishing their own worlds, who also possess a sense of honor, and the most gracious man in the world. He’s handsome, supportive, caring, intelligent and the hardest working man I’ve had the honor to know. He’s been tolerant of all of my harebrained adventures and given me his smile to bless them. For 35 1/2 years, he’s been here for me.

Eric is a force of nature in a very confused world that seems to be repeating itself. He’s saved my life at least three times. He’s sacrificed his career possibilities to make sure my healthcare is safe because of my MS. He gave me the ability to be myself, although I am rather shy of sharing where I came from  and my experiences. You might not understand that from this post, but my words are stronger because of him.

Don’t let the past surround you to the extent of losing all else. Miracles are born in hard times to good people. We work for them, tailor our lives to them, and if we are very lucky, we become the instrument of our miracle. If we work hard enough, we become a Force to be reckoned with,  as the world repeats the anger and horror of prior generations and the human History. The future isn’t known. It’s a gift that way.

Finding a Voice in a World of Words

This is my first blog. Oh, I wrote about my biography when I got a wordpress.com account and it’s all true. The problem with that is that I think all of the time. I think about the news, old friends, gone friends, long nights and short days. I write poetry to work my way through the wiggle room that we need to hide enough of our emotions from a world that might not understand them.

The news these days is full of fear mongering and hatred. Envious of Canada, France, Germany and Norway, I wish I could solve the fear. Humans turn to violence and blind devotion in the face of the unknown, but I hope our survival will show us as developing creatures of conscious. Dogs need homes with people who love them. Cats adopt us and quickly teach us their rules. They believe themselves to be the adults in the relationships and mindfully shepherd us to dinner, outside, to bed. Humans, though, find solace in company of other humans. When they don’t find sympathy and love with humans they are open to other species. We even created pet rocks.

Growth never stops for us. We try out new foods, ways to clean, ways to travel, and somehow we retain our identity in the first focused moment when we say, “I am.” This is usually followed by a listing of traits, education, important people in the world, interests and hobbies, and what we are to our families. We determine what is nice and what is cruel. Ever defining those things, those moments, we learn to say no or yes. We become confident or stumble into the shadows  looking for a cure.

The universe, while being neither cruel or kind, is interpreted as being both. Philosophy governs interpretations which inspire world leaders. Then the world brings in a sound stage and attempts to bring you to who you are. It’s uncanny the feeling of being in front of a group of people. Some will like you. Others will be baffled that although you speak the same upbringing and language, you are off your rocker. I’ve been off my rocker for years.

I thought I was a patient woman until I had to put up with myself. I could always advocate for others, but never worried about doing it for myself. That made me a target for bullying as a child. I learned that bullies are always around us, but my father told me to learn to like myself. If I could do that, I would be able to help others.

When you find yourself diagnosed with a severe, chronic or fatal disease or condition and your body decides to pull pranks on you, you had better be a person who likes themselves and is patient. That was a hefty lesson. I dropped things. I fell down. My brain became a clutter of insecurity and the harder I pushed myself, the more I couldn’t do things. You loose your edge, become fatigued. In fact, the fatigue is more a lassitude, and leads to your going through the stages of grief as if you had just died before your eyes. You don’t die, however, you become stronger. You take your time and pick up what you drop, including yourself. The small victories become huge victories, you see the little things that make up life. You pixilate yourself. I even bargained with myself about my expectations.

I tried to be normal, but that didn’t work out so well. I tried to be serious, only to find myself the butt of my own sense of humor. I fell asleep in the classroom only to find out that I do snore loudly. Doing that in front of the director of Language Arts was not the best move during my career. So now I am regressing to who and what I loved at the age of 12. I am writing. I am looking for the small bits that make me smile, and the larger realization that I am not done growing up yet. I will never be done growing up.

I’m a lucky woman. I have a family who love me, a home, a set of shibas who spend their days being my primary sense of companions. Joined by the cat I alluded to above, I’m not as isolated as I could be.

I haven’t said what is wrong with me. I don’t need to in order to let you understand me. Besides, I’d start joking about things and I’ll do that in another blog. Be aware that I am not alone. There are many of us who look healthy, but aren’t. Who look drunk or lazy, but are just having an out of body day. If it is me, I’m probably on a trip in outer space and have left a puppet to hold my place.

It’s nice to meet you, and I will be back soon. Happy Holidays and nice to meet you.

My name is Ann White.