Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Key

Touch a key, a computer key.
What are you thinking as your hand hovers above the keyboard just before your start, fiction, real, feel it, say it. Which letter do you touch first? Why?

I write about me; essays actually. About my family, because they let me, but not about my friends, I’d piss them off. I write about, what I know about, which isn’t much but sometimes everything. My hands hesitate, my mind lingers on a thought and then I touch the keys because I have to. It’s a curse really, a compulsion, a drive to communicate, a need to focus on something that is within me. Because I write, I am.

I’m famous you know.

My fame is like a glass of water compared to the ocean. No writers are ocean-famous. The closest, if we were counting money, and I am not, would be billion dollar Rowling. Shakespeare and Dickens, Atlantic famous maybe, Tolstoy, Black Sea, Michener, South Pacific across and back again; Twain, Mississippi legendary, fitting I guess. King, Koontz. Patterson, Cussler and Grisham, they can argue over which Great Lake belongs to each of them.

I counted well over half a hundred of my bylines. There was a time I considered myself a writing failure because I do not have one title page to my credit. So it is that I am a glass of liquid, sometimes salty sometimes sweet, not a high ball but a double old fashioned, beyond the shot glass and half full. I am proud.

So, did I know when I sat down and placed my hands upon the keys I would write about writers, oceans and containers made from the sand which rims them?

Your hand hovers, your mind stirs, what will you write today?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cover Girl, Ms. Stone and Me

I read an article a while ago about a woman, when approaching age fifty, (a youngster really), who decided to stop dying her hair; the before and after pictures were amazing. Before, she looked like every other matron trying to look young, after, her dark hair, with wisps of gray at the temple and part, was stunning.

At about the same time I was approaching a birthday which age-anxious call ‘the new fifty’. For me looking in the mirror then was like looking at a Nick Nolte mug shot. As my special day steamrolled across my calendar I told co-workers in the store where I work that on my birthday they would find me on the floor in the fetal position of the clearance isle.

After years of trying to be something I was not, young, I decided to do what the fifty year old kid did, let my hair grow out. Because I like my hair short and because the screaming yellow blonde I normally abided by was again a couple of inches rooted in grand-mother gray, I was half way there. When the post-it-note yellow was finally gone, hair dressers gathered around my chair and cheered, I was who I was supposed to be. And just who was that?

It was liberating. No longer was I a slave to a bottle of smelly liquid. I decided to embrace the new-fifty and run with it.

I stopped wearing make-up. Not all make-up, (I’m not crazy), I still wear foundation, eyeliner and mascara but shadow and blusher are out and only in for weddings and funerals.

That’s when I stopped cleaning.

For those who are acquainted with my housekeeping skills, I hear laughter. I went from leaving dishes in the sink to leaving dishes on the counter. Dusting…never did it before…still don’t, except when the flat screen goes fuzzy. I only vacuum when company is coming, I sweep now, and only when the dog hair tumbleweeds are mistaken for Lhasa Apsos. I do make my bed every day but I don’t change the sheets as often as I should, does anybody?

It’s not that I have become a slob, I hear laughter again, it’s that once the nest is empty there is a standard you no longer have to maintain in order to teach good housekeeping habits to your children. Keeping my bedroom clean was an example I had to set in order for my kids to keep theirs clean; it didn’t work. So now if yesterday’s clothes are in a pile on the floor or I dress out of the clean unfolded laundry in the basket next to my dresser, who’s the wiser?

When I look around the house I see a comfortable world, years in the making and when I look in the mirror I see a woman who no longer needs to pretend to be something she’s not, blonde. I like that the whole ditsy blonde persona has been replaced by salt and pepper wisdom. I saw an image of myself in a store window the other day; I thought it was my mother; she died at the age of eighty-two, and then in my mailbox, my AARP Magazine with Sharon Stone on the cover. She looks good. That’s why a bottle of that Garneir Fruit-basket Luminous Blonde stuff Sara Jessica Parker uses is sitting on my bathroom counter. If it’s good enough for a Sex in the City girl…wait a minute…did I mention she was born when I was a junior in high school, I’m taking it back. Enough said.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

100,000 miles

One afternoon about ten years ago my youngest daughter Rachel and I drove around town watching as my car’s odometer approached the 100,000 mile mark. While we were riding around I kept telling her how monumental it was to have driven a hundred thousand miles in a one owner car. She wasn’t very impressed. She was sick of my old minivan and she knew I was sick of it so what was the big deal.

The right front passenger door didn’t work so when I’d pick up the kids at school I’d have to get out so one of them could climb over my seat to ride shotgun, they fought to ride in front. My oldest was picked up first and they must have discussed how embarrassing it was because after that they both chose to ride in the middle or way-back seat. This solved one very significant problem, no more arguments to ride up front.

Ten years before when I picked up my shiny new green minivan Rachel went with me, she was four and very impressed because we got to go into the dealership’s big garage and see it right after it was driven off the car hauler. We knew the maintenance manager at the dealership and because the model I bought was so new, it was quite a hit, all the mechanics gathered around. It was the only time I ever ordered exactly what I wanted. My friend, the maintenance manager, wanted to know why I had not ordered the deluxe edition with fabric backed bucket seats. (I ordered fabric with vinyl backs). When he slid open the back door, Rachel jumped in, sat down and firmly planted her two snowy feet up against the back of the passenger’s front seat.
“That’s why I wanted vinyl backs,” I told him. After that he always recommended vinyl backed when families sought recommendations.

A year later a ninety-two year old driver T-boned me at a light; it was repaired but it was never the same again. The awesome sound system faltered from time to time, the rear heater started to go and as the years raced by the beautiful shiny green paint lost its luster. I loved that van. Most of the time when I looked at it I saw new, but more often than not I saw it for what it was, tired and worn. But I was determined to get that van past 100,000 miles.

So there we were driving all over the place watching the numbers getting closer. When it got really close I pulled into our circular driveway. The neighbors must have thought I was crazy because I had to circle a few times until…it happened…100,000 miles.

Years ago we could watch the little number wheels in the dash change each numeral, and as the vehicle slowed, the dial would slow, and you could take in the special moment, the actual change. Not so in the newer cars. Can’t slow it down, it’s 99,999 and a split second later it a one and a bunch of zeros. Take your eye away, like to blink, for goodness sake, and you miss it. We missed it. But it happened.

Since that day I’ve had a couple of other vehicles. The one a drive now is a silver minivan which had belonged to my father before he passed away; great van, very much like my green wonder. A few years ago the odometer was extremely close to the 100,000 mile mark. I was prepared this time. I choose a route with very little traffic so I could slow down and watch the numbers flash from all nines to a one and all zeros. There was no one on the road…I slowed way down…I kept my eyes open until they watered…it was ready…there it was…I blinked. Yes, I did, right at the exact…but wait…maybe it was so quick I didn’t think I saw it but I did. Yes, I saw it I’m sure.

I told my husband about my mileage, he was not impressed; his pick-up is over a 160,000 miles. My mechanic friend was not impressed because his wife’s car is close to 180,000. So I called Rachel she works in a University in Massachusetts now.

“Remember when you and I drove all over town to get the green minivan to flip to a hundred grand and we got it to it in the driveway…well my silver van just went over 100,000 miles,’ I said.
“You blinked didn’t you?”
“No…sort of…but I’m sure I saw it this time,” I said.
I miss having one of my kids in the car riding around like we used to do, to just talk or watch the odometer. Some of the best conversations I have had with my kids were in the car. But that’s an essay for another day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Was that success or just a smile?

What is your qualifier?

What makes you worthy of success?

Is it knowledge, hard work, luck? Do them all, have them all, and if you are still living out of your van, (a-wishin’ and a-hopin’), than change the formula, shake it up, set it aside, pay attention.

Opportunity doesn’t always thump you on the head, sometimes it simply winks your way. Don’t miss it. Wink back.

Who smiled at you today?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday, monday...dreaming

Honeymooners are home and my grand-dogger is back to his parents/owners.

For a week Hitch and I, he’s a miniature dachshund and I’m a medium matron, have dorm-roomed together in the guest bedroom. The bed in the master is way too high for a little guy who likes to fly from bed to floor and back again, (he’d hurt his back). So we bunked together - what we do for our kids, what we do for our kids’ dogs. I read, watched a little TV and Hitch burrowed under the covers, sort of like the sleeping arrangements of long/marrieds, sort of like the sleeping arrangements of my marriage, except that my husband falls asleep on the couch during Wheel of Fortune and I have to wake him to go to bed. He doesn’t burrow, he snores.

Last night we picked the kids up at the airport and heard about their honeymoon/cruise. I’ve never been on a cruise but I went to Vermont for a long weekend last year. Would have gone for a week but I lost my full-time status at work, (long sad, unfair tale I won’t go into now, do I sound bitter); which brings to mind what’s going on this Monday morning; a job interview.

Do I want to change jobs; change is good so I’m told? No. The only change I’d like to make is quit my 9 to 5 and write full-time, (Pipe dream.)

Ya know...regarding my past, almost every dream I’ve had has come true. Sometimes what I wanted, wasn’t what I got, and it always worked out for the best. So as I dress for success, actually wearing earrings, (I have to, or the holes will close), I’m thinking of that great melodious philosopher of all time, the one person who, with a few simple words of guidance shines the light of destiny on our futures, Doris May Ann Kappelhoff, Que Sera, Sera, what will be will be.

So as I leave for my interview, five minutes down the road, I will be singing that little tune and thinking that whatever happens, happens and once it’s over, it's over and I have a mountain of laundry to attend to and back to work tomorrow.

Que, Sera, Sera. Thanks Ms. Day, I needed that.

Just got back from my interview, it went extremely well. NOW, I'm excited.