Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Boots

I had been looking at pictures, and fantasizing about them for weeks.

I would even create my own pretend online shopping bag, just to see them there,
     up on the screen, looking back at me, where they were real,
and I could (almost) touch them.  

And, they were saying, "Buy me!  Buy me!"    

But (in my mind), they were too expensive.

Maybe even too good for me.  

Last weekend, I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival with some friends.

The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and our minds were clear,
     which . . . . . . had nothing to do with the beer. 

And (over a few beers), they talked me into it.

     "You should BUY those," they said.

     "GO for it!" they cheered.    

     "Huzzah!" strangers hailed.    

Even the man dressed as Robin Hood, said so.

 The people had spoken, so . . . . . . 

     a few days later, I went to my online shopping bag, and clicked "buy now".

This time, I didn't even think about the price.

This time, I thought, those boots are good enough for me!  

The package arrived, a few days later, and I could not wait to open it.

When I pulled the lid off the box, they looked exactly as I had imagined -
      all brown and soft, and that new leather smell  . . . . . . ahhhh.

     But, would they fit? 

Or, would I be burying them beneath the brown recyclable paper,
     sending them back to where they came from,
paying extra, just for a short visit.        

I unfastened the zipper of one.

     I pulled it up over my right foot, and across my calf. 

I fastened the zipper back up.  

I had a good feeling, but did not want to celebrate . . . . . . yet.  

I unfastened the zipper of the other.

     I pulled it up over my left foot, and across my calf.

I fastened the zipper back up.  

I stood up, putting my weight equally into both, and stood there.

     I took a few steps.

They were soft; they were comfortable.

They were not too tight around my calves.

They were not too tall for my short legs.

     I LOVED THEM, and THEY FIT!   

I could hear my friends from the Renaissance Festival cheering,

                                           "HUZZAH!  HUZZAH!  HUZZAH!"

 . . . . . . as I did my little "boot dance" around the room. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Basement Seating, Please

Reservations for a party of five?  Right this way, please.

The hostess led us into the large, open dining room,
     where I immediately felt uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable like . . .

     when my kids were little.

And, meeting the in-laws at the country club for dinner. 

That feeling of knowing that my children would not be able to live up
     to the unrealistic expectations of behaving like little adults.

Uncomfortable like . . .

     me, as a child.

And, going to church.

Trying to control my giggles that were immediately induced (like a drug)
     by the sounds of the organ, the moment I stepped through the doors.

And again, when the minister spoke in that holy tone.

My only hope was that the sounds would 
                    put me to sleep.  

The room, where we sat (in a sterile sea of white covered tables),
     was cold and quiet.

SO quiet that I could hear my every breath and clumsy movement
     repeated back to me,
making me too aware of my own self.  

Looking around, I realized that,
     besides for my daughter and my nephew (and the wait staff),

I was the youngest one there.

As the waiter handed us our menus,
                   I leaned into the circular table and whispered to my parents, 
                             "Didn't you say this place has a basement?"

Apparently, there was a more casual eating area DOWN BELOW.

Like the child who felt she may not be able
     to hold back the laughter in church . . .

Like the parent who felt the temper tantrum of her own child,
     at the table, about to explode . . .


                                  I said . . . . . .    


Or, at the very least, the KIDS table.

BUT, I could see that my parents were committed,
      and we had our "good" clothes on.   

 SO . . . we stayed. 

And, we were LOUD.

We LAUGHED . . .  a LOT.   

A glass of wine was spilled.

            RED wine.

On the WHITE tablecloth.

And, we LAUGHED some more . . .

Our waiter loved us.

Our water boy loved us.

He was trying not to show it,
                               but he eventually flashed a guilty smile.

I think they were sorry to see us leave,
     when everything went back to COLD, and WHITE,
              and COLORLESS . . .

                                                       and QUIET.
We may come back, some day.

But, if we do, I think we'll check out the basement.

I really DO feel more comfortable there.    

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Case of "Freaky Friday"

My parents were picking us up for dinner at 3:00. 

I told my (teenage) daughter to be home WELL BEFORE then.     

I believe my exact words were:

     "I don't want you running in the house, just seconds before, keeping granddad waiting."

In the meantime, I had planned to go walking with a friend,
     and be home in plenty of time to take a shower and get ready for dinner.   

After our walk, however, my friend and I decided to go for coffee at the local Starbucks.  

     Which is where I was.

                                 When my daughter called. 

     At 2:40.

     "Be home in a few minutes!" I said, calmly.

I hung up the phone, and . . . . . .

     "It's 2:40 ?  OH SHIT !"  

There would be no time for a shower (which seems to be a theme, lately),
     and barely time to change my clothes and make myself look presentable.  

I raced home, hoping to make it there before my parents.  

I wanted to avoid the scene of my parents, waiting by the curb,
     as I show up (late) in my exercise clothes.  

Which I did, thank goodness.

I ran inside, washed my face, slathered on some deodorant, dabbled on some make-up,
      threw on a pair of jeans and a top, and . . . . . .


Just as my parents were "entering the building".   

I walked downstairs to greet them,
     where my very prompt, obedient,
and well put together teenage daughter was ready and waiting. 

     "Oh," said my dad ( to me ).

     "You might want to change your clothes. 
                      They don't allow jeans in the restaurant dining room."

This is where I thought to myself,
                                          somewhere during the last 24 hours,
                                                        my daughter and I have switched places. 

And I ran upstairs and changed.


Thursday, October 13, 2011


He'd thought I'd heard the alarm go off.   

               But, I didn't.    

     "Hey, Babe," he said, in his morning voice, "You'd better get up."

My eyelids opened, slowly, as the rest of me tried to make sense of my surroundings;
     the taste of bad breath on my tongue.  

I managed to speak a long, drawn out, single word.

     "Whaaaaaaaaat?" I asked, confused.

But, before he could answer, my reality slowly sank in -
                there would be no shower . . . . . .  today. 

     "What time is it?" I asked.

     "7:15," he responded.

Forty-five minutes PAST my wake-up hour.

Annoyance quickly replaced confusion.

     "Why didn't you wake me?" I asked, as I haphazardly stumbled out of bed.

     "I thought you'd heard the alarm go off," he answered.

As I attempted to steer myself toward the bathroom, I thought,

           "What PART of me lying STILL in the bed, NOT MOVING or 
                                   MAKING A SOUND
                    made you THINK that I had HEARD the ALARM ? ? ?"  

I stood in front of the sink, surveying the night's damage.  

     "Could be worse," I thought. 

I turned on the faucet, and filled my cupped hands with water; 
     the shower, looming, in the corner of my eye.  

And, as the warm wetness spilled from my hands,
                                           across my face . . . . . . I let it go. 

Just like that.

I let it go.  


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


My girlfriend and I had been trying for MONTHS.

Trying to find a time when we could get together.  

But, things just KEPT HAPPENING.  
First, a sick dog.

          Then, the unwelcome flu. 

Then, on Saturday . . . . . .

     "Mom, you need to come pick me up.  I fell on the ice and hit my head."


I was SO in need of adult conversation and companionship.

And, in particular, I had really missed spending time with THIS friend.  

But, of course, I quickly switched gears back into "mom mode",
     jumped in the car, and drove toward the ice rink to pick up my son.

After several hours at the doctor's office, a ct scan,
and an unpleasant person yelling obscenities ( in traffic ),
     it was determined that, while my son has a perfect and beautiful brain,
he DID, in fact, have a mild concussion.

When we returned home,
and my son was resting comfortably on the couch,
     I called my friend and left her a message: 

     "Can we try this again tomorrow morning?"   

I picked her up at 10:00, and we drove toward the lake.  

          It was a GLORIOUS October day.

The leaves were in the early stages of changing colors;
      their reflections on the still glass - like a paint brush, dipped in water.    

The sun was shining brightly, and the temperature was just right.  

As we walked along the dirt path, bordering the lake, we were (once again) two old friends -
     our busy lives, just shadows.   

Time went by too quickly, however, and before we knew it,
     we were back at the spot where we had begun.  

So, we continued our conversation at a nearby coffee shop,
     where we talked and shared some more,
as only two old friends can.   

For, who knows when time would allow us this opportunity . . . . . . again. 




Friday, October 7, 2011

"Eat a Salad, and Take a Walk!"

I wanted to share with you some of my "take-away" quotes
from the writers conference ( Write Your Heart Out Washington).  

Enjoy . . . . . . 

Roy Peter Clark

"It's the SPECIFIC that helps us SEE." 

"EMPHATIC WORD ORDER!" ( Word order, emphatic).   

     "WHITE SPACE (on the page) is one of the most important and powerful forms of punctuation".

"White space VENTILATES, allowing the text to BREATHE."


Keith Woods

"Finding YOUR story in MINE."

"Identify the POTENT MOMENT - FIND YOUR MOMENT, and write from there."

Lonnae O'Neal Parker

"It's all about CONNECTING ( with the reader)."

          "What can you RENDER?"

          "Find an editor that you can 'fight' with."

Gene Weingarten

A few favorite jokes -

     Question:  "Why do dogs smell poop?"
     Answer:    "They're reading."

     Question:  "Does your wife make a good apple pie?"
     Answer:    "NO, but she makes my banana cream!"
                                 ( Soupy Sails )

On winning the Pulitzer prize -  

     "The best things seldom win."

On the realization that his pants were frayed on the ends -

     "Look at me. I'm half a human being!"

On writing - 

     "It's not so much the words you write, but the words you DON'T write,
                 allowing the reader to become an ally." 

A borrowed quote from Dave Barry -

     " I always try to put the FUNNIEST WORD at the END of a sentence."

Anne Hull

Sometimes . . . . . . "we all just bumble around."

"Just be quiet!  Sometimes we talk too much, and don't listen enough.
                                             Very often, that is when we learn the most."

"REGIONALISM -  REGIONS have as much character, as people!"

"Did the mall have carpet, or not?"  

          "READ IT ALOUD."  

"What happens next? - the ENGINE to every story." 

"FIGHT to keep editors from taking important details out!  Fight to keep it IN!"

Kathleen Parker

On writing - 

     "First thing I do is take a shower." 

     "I LOVE tightening my sentences."

Eugene Robinson

An example on taking a risk as a writer -

     "Eat a salad, and take a walk!"

Leslie Morrissette

     On THAT note . . . . . .

                      I think I'll go take a shower, then go for a walk 
                                   ( not necessarily in that order ).  

                                                     Then, maybe, I'll eat a salad. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

" A Writers Conference (Just Bumbling Around) "

The night before (and the morning of ),  I was nervous.

It may sound silly - it's just a conference.

But, it's the self-doubting "me" . . . . . . the "me" that tells myself these people are out of my league,
     that causes me to feel this way.   

WRITE YOUR HEART OUT WASHINGTON ( hosted by Poynter Institute),
     was the title of the conference,
where several well-known Washington Post writers and reporters were scheduled to speak.

The location of the conference was at the prestigious Georgetown University Campus.

Coming from someone who never completed her college degree ( yet ),
     not only did it feel good to walk upon the historical brick walkway
                    (where many a scholar has rushed to class),
but for the short distance from 37th and O Streets
     to the Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center,
                                it actually felt like I could belong there.      

That feeling ended, however, as soon as I opened the doors to the conference.

For, I was assuming that the room would be filled with REAL writers and reporters,
     as opposed to the IMPOSTER that I often feel I am.   

I walked into the small theatre, and settled in, introducing myself to the woman, one seat over.   

Her name was Kate.  

     "What do you do?" asked Kate.  

I have always hated this question,
     because there never seems to be an appropriate answer that sums up "ME".

But, I gave her the "answer of the hour" which was,

     "Mom to my three kids and freelance writer".

Side note about Kate:  

     Kate did not return to her seat, after the first break, and even in this very moment, 
I am wondering if it is due to the accidental brush of my hand across her, um, "BUM", 
as she got up from her chair.  

Anyhow . . . . . . 

I spent the next eight hours listening to some pretty awesome writers, 
     but more importantly ( I realized, as the day wore on ), some pretty awesome PEOPLE.   

And, as I listened to their stories, and laughed at their jokes; 
     smiled along, as they made fun of their imperfections,
I discovered, to my surprise, that I absolutely DID belong there.  

Sure, there were writers with PH.D's and Pulitzer Prizes, 
     writers who have traveled the world and written books, 
writers who have had meaningful conversations with people, well-known, 
as well as with nameless faces living in a world that few of us COULD know. 
     But at the HEART, we are all the same.  

We are life observers and people connectors,
     in search of a "moment", and recognizing when it's there.  

Self-doubt, always looming in the shadows.   

But, that's what keeps us humble . . . . . . and aware.  

And, let us not forget PROCRASTINATION, procrastination,  

Or, as I like to call it - PREDESTINATION.  

Because, we WILL  . . . . . .  get . . . . . .  there.  

We are truth searchers, story tellers - we are writers.  

Roy Peter Clark, of the Poynter Institute said,

"Writers are people who write."

Washington Post reporter, Anne Hull said,

"We, sometimes, (as writers) all just bumble around." 

Washington Post columnist, Gene Weingarten mentioned that one of his favorite quotes is: 

                                                   " The meaning of life is that it ends." 

So, I think it's safe to say: 

"Writers are people who (bumble around and) write (until they die)."  


I DO belong . . . . . .  HERE.   



Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Everything Under the . . . . . . Carport!"

Last weekend, I had my first yard sale.

Well . . . . . . CARPORT sale.

     I had an "EVERYTHING UNDER THE CARPORT!" . . . . . . sale.

Furniture, jewelry, shoes, books (FREE books!), Halloween items, electronics,
     knick knacks and . . . . . . JUNK!

All YOURS for the taking / buying / taking !

Since I was a carport sale "virgin",
     I googled some tips on how to make it less . . . . . . . painful.

My three "takeaway tips" were:    

1 )  Have plenty of small bills on hand,

2)  Have a chair to sit in ( to help pass away the longer hours ),


3)  Have plenty of patience.  

So, I went to the bank (the day before) for small bills,
     I pulled my blue beach chair out of storage
 and, as for the patience . . . . . . 

                               the patience . . . . . .

                                             the patience . . . . . . .? ? ?

Only time would tell.  

With the help of a few extra ( and reluctant ) hands,
     I was up late, the night before, pulling everything out of the basement -
lifting, and cleaning, and pricing; inspecting (sweating and swearing).  

As is my nature, I tried to talk myself out of it

e-v-e-r-y   s-t-e-p   o-f   t-h-e   w-a-y.

That is, until the moment when I had so much "stuff" piled up on the main level of my house,
     that I had to risk my life and perform a daring circus act in order to walk
from one side of the house to the other,
and I realized it would be less work to carry it all out onto the carport,
     than it would to transport it all back downstairs.      

Just for fun, however,
     I did mention something when my (reluctant) helpers
carried up the very last item from the basement. 

     "I think I've changed my mind, " I said.

     "Could you start carrying everything back down to the basement,
                                                                                please ? ? ? ? ? ?"

The start time for the carport sale was 8 a.m.

I set my alarm for 6, and began carrying everything onto the carport.

Even before the sun had an opportunity to make an appearance, "expert" yard sale shoppers
     began to slowly drive by my house, like hired hitmen observing the scene before the crime. 

The serious ones showed up early, and worked alone,
     asking for such items as records and c.d.'s, jewelry, electronics, or bikes. 
They had no interest in anything else, and they were all business. 

Next, came the "50 cent(ers)" -    
     shoppers who were only willing to pay 50 cents for an item on the "dollar table".    
And, if an item was selling for two dollars?
Only one dollar and ( you guessed it ) . . . . . . 50 cents.  

     "Sorry, but I am staying away from change," I told them.

     "Not interested," they would say, and walk away.

This is where my patience came in handy.  

                                "HAVE A NICE DAY!"

Then, gradually came in the "strollers" - just out on a beautiful ( muggy ) Saturday morning,
     strolling through the yard sales to pass the time.   
Entire families, couples, mothers and daughters and girlfriends . . . . . . Oh MY!
And kids, with their pockets full of allowance,
     and their parent's permission to buy some JUNK.   

One boy was thrilled to find a spice rack sitting on the "Free" table.  

     "My mom could use one of those!" he said, excited.

     "Great!" I said, hoping his mom would be as thrilled as he was. 

If not, HER trashcan probably isn't any worse than MINE. 

The time went by fast and slow, at the same time.
People were rolling in and rolling out.

Oh, and, remember that "chair" that was recommended for me to have
                                                          ( to sit in, while passing the time) ?
I was on my feet talking to people, making deals, and selling things ALL MORNING.

No TIME for "the chair" !

Things did begin to slow down ( a bit), around the 11:00 to 11:30 hour.
I even started to consider . . . . . . "the chair".

That's when one of the "50 Cent(ers)" made a second appearance.     

     "1.50," the woman offered for the last pair of shoes. 

I was closing up shop at 12:00, and I wasn't stupid.

     "Deal," I said.

My last shopper of the day showed up just after closing time, 
     as I was beginning to take inventory of what was left.

Coincidentally, he had come looking for "what was left ( for cheap )",
     and I sold him the last of my 3 television sets for 5 dollars.  

At the end of a very long, yet productive morning, I finally sat down in "the chair".
And, as I looked around, 
     I deemed my very first "Carport Sale" to be a success.      

Later that day, my 12 year old son asked,
     "Do you think you would do this again next year?"

In my mind, all I could think about was childbirth.

    "Ask me in a few months, when my memory of the pain and exhaustion has faded," I told him. 

The truth is, I probably would.

Don't tell my (reluctant) helpers that I said so.