Monthly Archives: December 2012

Don’t You Wanna Dance?

dancing

Good morning. Hopefully, I can get my thoughts down on the page, here, in some sort of cohesive manner- I slept fitfully last night, with a stuffed up nose that kept changing sides, and a rotten headache, to boot. I finally got up fifteen minutes before my alarm went off and used my new espresso maker for the first time…so, I am exhausted, over-caffeinated, and loopy. This ought to be entertaining, at the very least.

One of the things that has fascinated me since I first began to notice it, is the weird way you can divvy people up into two groups when it comes to certain things. For instance, there are mustard people, and mayonnaise people-not all of them are hard core, but if forced to pick one or the other, there is a clear division. There are Coke and Pepsi people. Furthermore, there are Coke and Diet Coke people, and there is a whole subgroup of Dr.Pepper people. (Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that when you tell a Dr.Pepper person that his drink of choice is not available, they almost unfailingly will then ask “Do you have Root Beer?”. I am not making this up-ask any waiter or waitress if this is the case, and they will tell you it is.) There are dog people and cat people, night owls and early birds, readers and illiterates (Kidding!), and there are dancers, and those who do not dance.

I am a mayonnaise eater, Coke drinker, cat person (sorry Lucy, I love you, I do), early bird, reading non-dancer. I can give you pretty simple explanations as to why I am most of those things, but I can’t tell you why I don’t dance.

Because the thing is, I really, really WANT to dance, when I am out and about and other people are doing it. Gosh, it looks like so much fun, and people nearly always smile when they dance, as if there is nothing else in the world they would rather be doing. There is nothing more amazing than watching a great dancer do their thing…like, seriously, Chris Brown? Yeah, I know he’s got some issues with anger, but put that aside for a moment, if you can, and watch the dancing…I mean, how in heck does his body move like that, and with apparent ease, a perfect expression of joy? And Justin Timberlake? I mean, c’mon, there goes the whole myth about white dudes and rhythm, for sure.

But I’m not even really talking about people like that, that are professionals, famous, polished, trained. I’m talking about just every day normal people who, when they get on the dance floor, become this other thing, totally into the music, unaware of the world around them and totally unconcerned with the crowd. Wow, I admire them so freaking much, and I am envious, I really am.

You know who I am even more envious of , kinda? The dancers who get out there and are just as into it as the people around them that are great, only these dancers just suck, bad. Only, they could give a shit less, because for them, it’s not about being great or impressing anyone, it’s about having a wonderful time. I suspect that some of them may have no idea that they are really bad dancers, that in their own minds, they are on fire, but no way every last bad dancer I’ve seen is completely in the dark. They just don’t care.

I am not brave enough to fall into either of these categories, and it is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I don’t think I am really a terrible dancer- I won’t dance in public, but I assure you, I have done plenty of it in the privacy of my own home- mostly alone, but sometimes with friends or my older daughter, and they didn’t seem horrified or embarrassed for me. I’ll admit, I’ve danced in front of a mirror or two, and I’m alright.

Yet get me out in public, and I start hyperventilating the minute I start to sense that people in my group may be wanting to dance…because, inevitably, one of my girlfriends eyes will light up at the start of “her song”, she’ll grab my hand, and say “Oh my gosh, we HAVE to dance.” And I am always the killjoy that is all, “Um, NO, we don’t…you go.”. And on it goes, her begging, pleading, bargaining, me digging my heels in and finally exclaiming that I have explosive diarrhea as I high tail it to the ladies room. When I come back, my friend has found another friend to dance with, and I sit and watch, wishing I was out there, too.

It’s so funny, because I am an extrovert in every way but that one. If you were to ask someone else to describe me, self-confident would most likely be in the top three. But when it comes to dancing, I am the eternal seventh grade girl, terrified of being asked, of not being asked, and of all of the people in motion around me, who are clearly better people than I. I feel like my inability to enjoy dancing is the peep-hole into the secret, rotten truth about how insecure I really must be, and it’s impossible to hide when there is music and a crowd.

Twice in my life, I have danced joyfully in public. The first time was at a country-western bar that I sneaked into with a fake ID when I was twenty. I don’t remember much about the night, aside from learning why it’s never a good idea to take your whole paycheck with you into a bar, and that I danced. The boy who asked me was big and ungainly, and he had big sweat rings under his arms, but he seemed nice and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I told him I didn’t know how, and he said “That’s ok, I’ll help you.” And this big old ungainly dude literally swept me off my feet. I don’t think my feet touched the ground, he whirled me and swung me and, somehow, his grace rubbed off on me. I will never forget that night. Well, that part, anyway.

And the last time…the last time was at my boyfriends brother’s wedding, and everyone was having so much fun. My daughter wanted to dance so badly she was barely sitting in her chair. “Go!” I told her. “But I’m scared.” She said. I saw that longing misery in her eyes, and when I told her not to be afraid, I knew I was in big trouble. How could I ask this of her and yet refuse to be an example? So I took her hand, and out we went onto the dance floor, and we danced as if there was no one else in the world. It is one of my happiest memories, and for her, I’d do it again. I never want her to look back at her life and wish she’d just gone ahead and danced…like I do, sometimes.

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2012- It’s Been Quite a Year!

2012

I’ve been seeing all of the lists and reviews other folks have been making about their year, and decided I wanted to play, too. At first, I thought I didn’t have a lot to say about this year, other than I can’t believe it’s over already. I mean, that crap they tell you when you are a kid, about how much more quickly time goes by when you are older is NO lie. You just get accustomed to writing down one year and then it’s already another one. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that all kinds of stuff happened in my life this year. Here are some of the more interesting ones:IMG_0442

  • I got my very first dog. Her name is Lucy, and she is a pitch black Lab mix. I had no idea what the hell I was getting myself into. Do you have any idea how much energy these dogs have, especially when they are puppies? Do you have any idea how badly they are capable of smelling? Have you ever seen how much fur they shed? I must sweep up at least enough fur to create two new puppies every other day. I don’t know how she isn’t bald. On the upside, though, she is the sweetest pup you’ve ever met. The baby could step on her head, and Lucy would only lick her face, lovingly. As we speak, I can see her looking at me through the back window with her big, sad eyes, like “mom…why aren’t we out walking right now? It’s not raining anymore…” And that is another thing I love about her- she gets me out, walking, moving, enjoying the world in a different way. Sometimes it’s a crap shoot, but most of the time, I count her among my blessings.
  • I had a nervous breakdown. Like, a real, honest to goodness BREAKDOWN, requiring me to take six weeks off of work, consider checking myself into a mental hospital, consider killing myself, crying every day, mental episode. Allowing myself the time I needed to feel better, to heal, to get a grip, was probably the kindest thing I have ever done for myself. I learned a lot of things, but number one among them was that I had stopped taking care of myself in any meaningful way, which caused me to resent everyone around me who I was taking care of. During that six weeks, I made some big, important changes in my life (some of which I need to get back to before it leads to more trouble)  and when I went back to work, I felt better than I ever had before.
  • I learned that, no matter what, my relationship with drugs will never, ever change. I cannot do them, no matter what, in any quantity or form, without it becoming a major, life altering problem, period. And that is all I am going to say about that.
  • That being said, I also decided that, for ME, alcohol is not included in that equation. FOR ME, having a glass of wine or a beer is not, and has never been, an issue. So I have had a glass of wine or two, and the other night, I split a fantastic hard cider with my boyfriend that tasted just like…well, cider. I reserve the right to change my mind about this, however, if it does become a little too appealing or lead to other problems- all those years in NA are not totally wasted on me.
  • THAT being said, I am no longer attending meetings. I miss them, sometimes, but I am not following, and not a believer in the rules anymore. And if you can’t do it right, you might as well stay home. So I am. And I am okay with it, totally.
  • This is the biggy. I never, not in a million, bazillion years thought I’d ever,ever say this, but here it is. I became a Christian. I feel funny even writing it down, but you can’t imagine how weird the transformation inside of me has been for me. It just sort of happened. Sorry, mom. (She really has an issue with this). I found a church I love, and I feel awful if I miss, even one Sunday, and it has changed everything for me. I am just not afraid of the word “Jesus” anymore, even if I’m not 100% comfortable with announcing it to the world…there it is. When I go to church, something deep inside of me stirs and it feels right for me to be there, and to apply the lessons to my life out in the world. I feel like I am home.
  • I became more dedicated than ever to my writing. I had my first short story published. I started this blog. I participated in nanowrimo, and went to the Night Of Writing Dangerously. I started a new book. I started working on finishing up my finished novel. I met my favorite writer in the whole wide world. I finally gathered enough knowledge to formulate a logical path to becoming successful with my gift, if it is ever to be. I know that I love writing almost as much as I love my children, so it seems to me that all there is left to do is try to succeed at it, right? Right.

When you look at the things I have listed as being noteworthy, they may seem sort of random to you. But to me, every single one of them tells the story of a woman who has finally grown up enough to begin thinking, and deciding, for herself how her life should be lived. Whether it was getting a dog, drinking a beer, jumping off of the ride when it got too wild, or discovering who it is she truly wants to be-all of the decisions were big, defining ones for me, and I came through it all better for it.

All in all, I’d say 2012 was a year to be proud of. Have a great day, and Merry Christmas!

If The World Ends Tomorrow

If  the world ends tomorrow, there are a few things I’d like to say.mayan-countdown

First of all, I have had a fabulous run. If the world really does end tomorrow, I will leave it clean and sober. I have somehow, out of the rubble of a life I had destroyed, managed to rise up out of the ashes like a Phoenix, weaving something beautiful out of the mess.  If the end is near, my head will be clear, my regrets will be few. I am so grateful to God for giving me the gift of relative speed, when extricating myself from the destruction I have visited upon myself, again and again- if relief had not been swift in coming, I don’t know that I would have hung in there. I am glad and proud to be where I am today, even with as much work as there still is to do. I know so many people who struggle on and on, and have to fight so hard for every little step forward, and I don’t know how they keep on…I don’t think I have that kind of strength. So, if this is it, I am happy with who I have been.

I know I joke around a lot about my mom, and, while I won’t pretend that we don’t irritate the shit out of each other, I will say this- she has been a good, good mother. My biggest fan, my mental twin, she taught me everything I know about pushing forward, striving harder, no matter what. Not only that, but she did it all with a clean house and great clothes, something I fall way short of. The best thing of all about my mom, though, were the holidays- no matter how broke we were, how awful things got, the holidays were magical thanks to my mom. I will never, ever forget those perfect Christmas mornings when, no matter how early I woke up, the tree would be ablaze with lights, music from the Nutcracker would be playing, presents were piled in heaps around the tree, and always, the cookies and milk were eaten, Santa long gone. Without my mom, I don’t know if I would have made it out of the lifestyle I allowed myself to be swept into- I measured myself so much by her approval ( a habit that is no longer very helpful, thanks) that at least I could see how far I had fallen. She never gave up on me. She always saw the real me, under all of it. I love you, mom.

I have the most amazing children under the sun. Aisley, so unlike me and then so similar- she is full of surprises, at such a weird, awkward part of life- fifteen. I wouldn’t go back if you paid me. Yet she handles all of the traitorous goings-on of high school with so much more grace and nonchalance than I ever could have. She is so beautiful and calm, most of the time, haughty and witty, private and contained. I think she will surprise us all, if we make it past Friday. And Camryn, my God! What a blessing and a joy she is. So smart, it freaks me out, so happy and sweet nature’d, charming and  funny. I was so afraid of having another baby so late in life, but it was the best idea I’ve ever had.

If the world ends tomorrow, I can tell you that my life has been breathtaking, full of abundance and blessings, a million last minute rescues, countless good people who have reached out their hands to me, pulling me back when I got too close to the edge. The beauty has been constant, even in the dark times, even when I couldn’t see it. The heartaches have all been worth it. The goodness far outweighs the bad.

If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, I will be glad. I will continue on, as I have been, trying to get better, to be better than I am right now. But if it does, it’s been a wonderful trip. It’s been a marvelous time. I wouldn’t change a thing.

What Can We Do?

change

The pain, for me at least, has not really gotten better. Judging from the conversations I have had out in the world, and the things I see on Facebook, the things I am seeing here on WordPress,  it is not getting better for anyone. If anything, the shock has worn off and it hurts even worse.  The pictures of all of those beautiful babies smiling, just another arrow through our collective heart. The whole world is walking around, wounded and heart sick. What can we do? There is nothing that can be done…I keep hearing myself say these words, that awful, helpless feeling welling up in me. We cannot go back in time, we cannot give these children and their teachers their lives back, we cannot even truly ease the pain of the people left behind, longing and mourning for them.

Still, the desperate best in us has come to the forefront again, the way it always does when a tragedy of this magnitude unleashes itself upon us. There are petitions to sign, tributes made, candle light vigils held across the world. Our compassionate, beautiful sides, too tender, we think, to reveal all the time, are the faces of most of us right now. Yet I wake up in the morning afraid and tired, still feeling like my hands are tied, that none of this really HELPS at all. I know this is not really true, on a certain level, and that any kindness and compassion we pour forth now is a gift that the world desperately needs- the truth is, this world has become a place too dark, too individualized, too alienated from it’s own humanity. If that weren’t true, it wouldn’t take a tragedy so horrific to bring us back to earth again, finally able, for the briefest moments, to remember the gift of right now, right here, what we can see, smell, touch, taste, hold close.

There is beauty everywhere, too. We forget so easily. How many times have you been face to face with a beautiful sunset, purple and pink and orange and yellow, and barely registered its existence, so worried about traffic or hell bent on getting back to your empty house to get the dishes done before dinner can be started? How many times have you run out to grab something from your car, and the full moon shone down, but you were too tired to let it take your breath away? I live mere blocks from the beach, and sometimes days pass before I can even be coaxed into looking up, taking it in. Last night, I sat on the couch, absorbed in a book, and I looked up to find my two year old staring at me solemnly with her enormous green eyes, just looking and looking. My heart lurched in my chest because I could see that her eyes were telling me the story of her longing to be near me while I sat there, a thousand miles away. I picked her up and held her in my arms, kissed her cheeks and buried my face in her golden brown curls, and thought about all of the parents in Newtown who would give their own lives, without a backward glance, to have the chance I had nearly passed up. We are a peculiar animal, humans. Great with big concepts, while failing miserably to see what is right in front of us.

This morning it occurred to me that perhaps there is something I can do. There is something all of us can do. We start at home. We take full responsibility for our lives and how we conduct them, agreeing that the example we provide is as important as the advice that we give. For me, this means being present, not being afraid of my teenager when she acts up because I am afraid of all of the discord. It means putting my foot down, not accepting unacceptable behavior. It means following through with predetermined consequences, no matter how much better things seem, or how much work it is for me.

I can make the world better by being a better mother and raising better children. I can make the world better by taking better care of myself, trying not to die of lung cancer or emphysema due to my inability to reign in my own addictive behavior. Killing myself is not going to help my kids at all. This sounds stupid, but if you really think about it, it’s a great example of what I mean- thinking of the ripple effect, the things we do that are not really just to ourselves, but effect everyone around us. It is high time we take responsibility for ourselves and for each other.

The first step is ourselves. The next is our families. Then we need to learn to widen the net, to put down our phones, shut off our TV’s and laptops, and begin to know the people around us. This means our neighbors, our children’s friends, their friends parent’s, the people at church, at the grocery store, at work, at the gym. We need to keep our eyes open and see what is happening in the world around us- so that maybe, when one of us is very, very ill, next time, we can see it. Next time, maybe someone will see what another could not.  I think it could be the difference between life and death. These little changes, the difference between existing and living.

Please, let me know what your thoughts on any of this are. I would really love to know what your mind has been whispering to you about what has happened and who we are or have become, as people.

Thanks.

Meeting Anne Lamott

So, Friday was a day that will live in infamy for a long, long time- if not forever. I tried very hard not to know too much about what happened in Newtown on Friday, I tried very hard not to over educate myself just yet, because I was headed up to San Mateo to hear my favorite writer in the whole wide world speak, and I didn’t want to ruin it. Fat chance. I got stuck in traffic somewhere between San Jose and my destination, and I couldn’t resist the pull of the radio while moving four feet every hour. So, I sat in traffic, and I cried, and I worried that Anne would cancel her speaking engagement due to depression or something.

She didn’t. But let me back up a little and tell you that, up until I was in my car and driving, I really didn’t think I would go. It seemed ludicrous to me that something I felt was so incredibly wonderful was even marginally probable as an occurrence in my own little life. I left so early, and I brought my laptop, just in case, and I checked fourteen times to make sure I had my ticket, and I worried like crazy when I couldn’t remember where my glasses were (they had fallen between the bed and my nightstand) and when it started to rain as I drove over the windy and dangerous highway 17. I was pretty sure that at any moment, something big and theatrical would happen, preventing me from realizing this small but important dream of mine.

Instead, what happened was that I got there pretty much before anyone else, except for the people who were actually paid to be there. I stashed my belongings on a seat in the second row, center, used the bathroom, purchased my book and then perched in a chair in the book signing area for a really, really long time, waiting for her to arrive (she was a little late, but I was super early, so it was fifty-fifty, fault wise). I felt a little weird because I was alone, but when I thought about it, I really don’t have one friend to speak of that I could have brought along- at least no one who had read her books and adored her the way that I do. Maybe my mom, but she lives far away. Anyway, I’m glad I went alone, because now it is 100% my experience, made possible by me, carried out by me, a gift from me to me. I am one of those people who will, if other people are around, surrender all control to them- not because I am a follower, but because I am lazy as hell, so I end up feeling like without them, none of it would have been possible. So, I was alone, and I did a lot of observing, listening, small talk with people I didn’t know and will probably never see again.

It was already a wonderful night before she even arrived. The people around me were mostly older, mostly women, lots of them in recovery, many Christians, intellectuals, thinkers…different, at least for me. The best part of all was that I felt completely at home. I called my mom afterwards and told her “These people were exactly like me.” But I think what is more true is that these people are exactly who I want to become. Who I feel my best self would be, given a little prodding.

So, Ms. Lamott came right in the front door, with no body guards or anything. I mean, I didn’t really expect body guards, but I really thought she’d at least come in the back door, like the celebrity she is in my mind. No doubt, in that room, she was a celebrity of the highest caliber, so when she walked right by me in her jeans and sweater, I felt my eyes get big and she looked right at me, and I said something incredibly clever, like “Wow. That’s HER.”

I stood in line, and had my book signed, then stood in line again, and had my picture taken with her, and by the time I got to her the second time, I could tell the signing was becoming a bit of a strain- her smile was a little less smiley, and she seemed to want to get this whole thing over with. I can’t say I blame her- the line was just going on and on and on, and everyone wanted to say something to her or give her their card and talk about the book THEY were writing (which, I will have you know, I did not do, I just told her how excited I was to meet her and what an honor it was).

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But when she got up in front of the room to talk, I knew that my adoration for her was well, well deserved. She must be the most calm, most thoughtful, most devoted human being I have ever been lucky enough to be in the presence of. She speaks more beautifully, maybe, than she even writes, which just floored me- for me, it takes so much quiet and so much thought and so much privacy to access that part of myself that allows me to be beautiful on paper. Even now, I am ready to strangle my daughter who will not shut up while she is making Ramen here, in the kitchen, though I have asked, demanded and howled at her to zip it. I feel like it will ruin my day if she doesn’t stop chattering.

Anne Lamott radiated a sort of peace that made you think even a troupe of tap dancing gorillas could not ruffle her, if she was writing. I can’t finish a blog that ten people will read because my teenager is making ramen in the room beside me. I don’t know, guys…I have a long, long way to go. But I keep thinking that I am on my way there, every time I do something like this, meet an author that I adore and hear her speak, attend a writing event in San Francisco that blows my mind…even putting it all out here for the world (all ten of you) to see, just to keep the machine in working order. I am on my way. A gift from me, to me.

I Don’t Know How To Write This…

candles120As a writer, the thing I know how to do when the chips are down, when something strikes me or inspires me, when something saddens me- is write. But this…this I don’t know how to write about.

I’m sure that my mind is much like your mind is, a  swirling mess of emotions, vacillating between disbelief, horror, grief, anger, shock and heartbreak. I find myself imagining what it must have been like, in that school, yesterday, then I am glad that I cannot. It’s that bad, that unthinkable, that I can’t even imagine what it must have been like. My mind has no capacity for this kind of thing. It is literally unimaginable.

What we know so far is this: A twenty year old young man killed his mother yesterday. Then, he traveled to the school where she worked and opened fire in two classrooms, killing six adults and TWENTY small children. He then killed himself. I can’t help but to say this- if only, if only, if only he had simply turned the gun on himself first…then none of this would be so, so bad. There is a very small, human part of me that registers, even in the face of all of this, that even one life lost is too many, even a very sick, very dangerous life such as his. But still, why could it not have been just him? I think we all want to know why- why ANY of this happened, what caused it, what happened to trip his switch, WHY didn’t we somehow know, see the signs? And I think that is a really important line of questions that we do need to discover answers to if we want to keep this type of tragedy from happening again. I think it is incredibly human to want to know what happened, to know why, because we need it to make some sort of sense so that we can cope. But I don’t think this will ever make sense.

I just keep thinking about the families. I keep thinking about the presents under Christmas trees for kids that are GONE. I keep thinking that, right now, some mother in Connecticut finally dozed off for five minutes and had to wake up and remember that this is REAL. That her son or daughter, her BABY, is dead. I keep having moments of unbearable sadness, crushing grief, wild despair because I imagine myself in her place. And I am so incredibly grateful that it is not me, that it is not my daughter, gone. That I can, right now, stop typing, run into the other room, and touch my daughter’s warm, sweet, sleeping face. My heart is just broken by the knowledge of all that was lost, yesterday. The lives of far more than twenty children and seven adults lost- just the tip of the iceberg, really. I don’t know how to say what I mean, but I think, if you have children or nephews and nieces, or little brothers and sisters, you know. The destruction of lives radiates out into the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, big and little brothers and sister, grandmothers, grandfathers, neighbors, best friends.

All bets are off, now. In a few days, we will start to go on with our lives, we will begin to heal the way our resilient selves do- we are not in the midst of it, and we are so blessed. But it has marked you, somewhere, I promise. You will pay attention for a long, long time to how you say goodbye, I love you, goodnight. You will look at the people around you, the ones you love best, in real time, seeing them not just as fixtures in your life, but as they are- beautiful, precious, prized parts of your heart. It is too bad it takes something beyond comprehension to bring the truth into sharp focus- that everything we strive for and grab at and prioritize is NOTHING compared to the love we give and the love we get in return. Nothing else means anything.

God help us all.

Word Nerd

BookS-books-to-read-26957638-1024-768I have a confession to make. When you start talking to me about numbers, my mind shudders to a grinding halt. Even in the most innocent and simple of conversations, the minute you throw in a fraction, i.e.- “Oh my gosh, that frigging pie was SO good , I tried not to eat more than half a slice, but I couldn’t help it, I ate more than three quarters of the whole thing!” Well, rest assured, you lost me at half a slice.

I don’t know why this is, or what is wrong with me. I suspect it has something to do with years and years of humiliating failure in my math classes- it’s kind of like that stupid riddle, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, here’s the answer- I don’t KNOW, and I’m tired of trying to figure it out! I’m just no good at math, that’s all. (by the way, that is a terrible answer to that joke, so don’t try it. People will just look at you funny and walk slowly away.) What I mean is, I don’t know if my classes sucked because I was bad at math, or if I’m bad at math just because that part of my brain is atrophied or something.

I remember being in my early twenties and taking some entrance exams to the local college-one of the counselors was looking over my scores, shaking his head. As usual, my testing in everything was really, really great…except for math, which was dismally low. He said to me, and I will never forget this- “Someone, sometime in your life told you you weren’t good at math, and you believed it. There is no way someone can score this high in everything else, and score this poorly in math.”

I have a different theory. I think I’m bad at math because it is harder for me. I have to try ten times as hard at math to do half as well as I do in anything involving words. (Hey, that had multiplication AND fractions in it. What do you know?)  I even do better in word problems than I do in straight number problems. I think maybe there’s a little part of me that gave up when I realized I couldn’t be a superstar in math the way I could with all the other subjects.

But reading…ah, reading. Those sweet, beautiful, wonderful, flowing words that grace the pages of books. The amazing trick of stringing them together, one after the other, to tell a story. A story that can take you places you have never been, places you could never otherwise go.  Books with beautiful covers and wild, improbable tales inside- tales of imaginary places that are so clear in your minds eye, you can revisit them years later simply by thinking of the story you read. Books are the only time machine that truly exists- you can go backwards, forwards, sideways to another dimension. You can go anywhere you want to go, anytime you want to go there- if you only have the pages in your hand and an imagination.

I learned to read at a very young age, and at first it was a neat party trick. It became a source of great pride for me as I grew older, always keeping several grades ahead in ability of where I actually was.  But when life grew rough at home, I discovered the greatest thing of all about my love of words- the escape hatch. All I had to do to be somewhere else, somewhere more beautiful than where I was, was pick up a book and start reading. When we would have book fairs at school, I would go on a feverish mission, hell bent on getting money from my mom so that I cold buy a book.  When they would pass out those little scholastic newspaper thingy’s where you could order books, I would lose my mind- how the hell could anyone pick just one?

The library was, and still is, one of my favorite places in the world. I love the smell of all those thousands of weathered, handled books, the quiet and the anticipation of roaming the aisles, finding some new adventure right in front of you, behind some quiet cover. I still, to this day, miss Borders and B.Dalton and all the other bookstores that have disappeared. The nearest (affordable) bookstore to me is a thirty minute drive from me, and it embarrasses me to have to say that. I mean, what the hell is wrong with this world when the bookstores are dying off?

The most beautiful development of all for me was when I realized that all of those words and stories I had soaked up over countless hours and days, they wanted to come back out, to fill up pages and hard drives and notebooks with words of my own, stories that I created. There are books and notebooks and magazines in literally every room of my home, the hallway included. There are poems scratched on napkins and legal pads with story ideas, and even a full length novel stored in my computer. Nothing in this world makes me happier than words. If you didn’t read as a child, I highly encourage you to try again now. You never know, it may be different now…unlike algebra, which will still totally suck.

Have a great day!

Happy Reading

This will be the last post like this post under this blogs name. In the future, all my ultra-personal blogs concerning others (as well as myself, of course) will be at my new WordPress blog, http://allthedirtylaundry.wordpress.com/. This, my new blog, will not be posted as a link on facebook for all my friends and family to see, and will have to survive on it’s own merit. The reason for this is pretty simple- I don’t want to entice people to read about stuff they don’t really need to see otherwise. I can’t stop writing, and I won’t stop people from reading, but if they want to read it, they will have to either subscribe via email or go actively seek out the dirt on me, my family, and everyone else I know and feel like writing about, of their own volition. Hence, the name…get it?

This blog will revert back to it’s original format and idea, where I will, once again, attempt to rise to the challenge of improving myself in whatever way seems appealing and relevant to me. This could be physically, spiritually, intellectually…whatever. My goal is to try at least one new thing each week to write about, and if that isn’t possible, then I will write about whatever I found made me happy.

This past week, I was swamped with work and personal upheaval. I didn’t have much time to write, and when I did, I’d sit down and nothing would come. I actually finished this blog once, but I’d had the page open a while when I did it, and when I went to save the draft, the page logged me out without saving any of the stuff I wrote. I didn’t waste a lot of time being mad about it, I just figured it wasn’t what I was supposed to be saying.

What I did find time to do, though, was read. I read three books over the last two weeks, and all of them thrilled me to pieces. The funny part is that they were all books I’d already read, but I picked them up at Goodwill for a buck apiece, and decided to read them all again. The first one was “Dead Until Dawn” by Charlaine Harris (whose writing I love, and have read ALL of) which is the first in her Sookie Stackhouse series that eventually went on to be the “True Blood” series. It is such a fun series of books, I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it already.

The second book I read was “The Bean Trees” by Barbara Kingsolver- the first time I read it, I think I was in high school, and though I thought I remembered it clearly, I didn’t remember most of it at all. It was great to read it over again- there are parts of that story I’m sure I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to fully appreciate yet, when I read it the first time.  I’m probably still not, but it sure made a lot more sense.

Where_the_Heart_Is_Billie_LettsThe third book, and I am just about done with it, but not quite, is “Where The Heart is” by Billie Letts. What a freakin’ fantastic story. There is not a character in it that I don’t love. It’s sweet and sad and funny and triumphant, all things I want in a book, and it’s full of average people with extraordinary hearts. I read this book in my early twenties, and once again, I thought I recalled it perfectly, but there was so much that I’d forgotten.

Anyway, for me, reading is an escape. For as long as I’ve been able to read, I used it this way- books have helped me make it through some tough times, and this past week has been a hard one. I’d be happy to tell you why, but you’ll have to read about it in my other blog. And for Pete’s sake, if you can’t find it by using the link I posted, use the wordpress search option.