Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I have lovely memories of golden roasted turkeys, holiday carols, and frosted cookies. Yet, scattered between these are darker memories that still chill my bones:
1. Nana: She becomes ill and enters the hospital right after Christmas. I wait to hear how she is, but I'm scared.
2. Daddy: He dies, suddenly, one December day as I prepare for college finals. Everything changes.
3. Momma: She gets terribly sick and is admitted to the hospital. I am too far away to get to her. I am helpless.
4. Grandma: She dies, after years of suffering, in a nursing home in St. Louis. I hadn't seen her in over a year.
5. Sister: She is admitted to the hospital in San Francisco after her water breaks six weeks before her due date. She gets an infection and my niece is born pre-mature. She is forced to spend Thanksgiving day in the hospital.
My mother and sister are fine now. They are healthy and well as is my sweet little niece, but every year as the holidays approach I begin to panic. I find myself grinding my teeth and my neck tightens with anxiety. I have trouble sleeping, and I become nervous and twitchy. I jump when the phone rings, and I find myself thinking, "What will happen this year? Who will it be? What will we have to deal with now?"
I dream of my father and grandmothers and wake with tears in my eyes and my head aching.
I know this type of thinking is irrational especially considering that the majority of the holiday seasons I have lived through have been pleasant and uneventful. But I cannot help it. My heart has scars that itch when the weather turns and the days get darker. There is no salve that will calm the irritation or soothe the pricking of fear I live with this time of year.
All I can do is watch the snow fall and hope, hope, hope, that this year will be a good one.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The day we closed on our house our friends came over with a bottle of champagne and a gift card to the hardware store. We drank and laughed and toasted, "to our new home!" as we all peeled at corners of the wallpaper that I said had to go. The paper in the living room, to our surprise, came off in long, thin, easy-to-peel pieces. Soon everyone had a glass of bubbly in one hand and a strip of wallpaper in the other. Our two-year old toddlers raced around ripping paper and weaving between our legs, and I felt so happy to be here in this place with those I loved so dearly. I felt so secure in that love, those friendships.
To my surprise I found a working phone in the dark, dirty basement. I snuck down and dialed my mother in California.
"Oh honey, your first home! Daddy would be so proud!"
I cried with her, a little drunk now, and wished my father was there, so I could have told him about how I had saved and scrimped in order to buy this house. I'd have told him how we ate lots of cheap macaroni and cheese and didn't buy new clothes for months and only had one car. He would have applauded my thriftiness and, like my mom said, would have been so proud.
I look at the wallpaper shred now, and it makes me sad and nostalgic. Why didn't I take pictures that day? Why aren't there snapshots of us with our friends, arms around each other in goofy poses? Where are the pictures of us all standing in the empty kitchen or waving on the front porch? Why didn't we have a camera to take shots of the kids being crazy and enjoying themselves in the wide open rooms that smelled of cleanser and dust and other families?
I don't have those photos, but I do have this wallpaper scrap. It's something.
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Ever and always wanting more.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Here's the list:
Daniel John Walker
Rodney (Rod) Beach
Thursday, August 9, 2012
But if I did I would write a story about a hard boiled detective living in my little Western New York town.
He would drink lukewarm coffee at the the diner and throw back Gennys with the local color at Barber's Tap Room. He would know, though, that if he needed info for a case that he could usually find it at C&S Saloon.
He'd walk the banks of the Erie canal late at night thinking about a woman who hurt him in ways that words couldn't describe. She would have left a sweater that smelled of Chantilly Lace in his coat closet. He would refuse to get rid of it even when other women asked why he kept it.
He'd have a beat up old clunker of boat that he would take out on Lake Ontario to get away from it all. The boat would be named Doll.
He'd rent a loft apartment over a downtown gift shop and run his small time detective business out of his tiny kitchen. He would be independently wealthy because of a family inheritance, but he wouldn't want anyone to know. He would be proud, and since he always worked hard he would continue to work hard, money or not.
Most people around the village would think of him as a decent but quiet sort of man. He would chew on the end of a match when he talked on the phone because of his constant struggle to give up smoking. Most of his work would come from cuckolded spouses, but every now and then he'd get a case just a little bit more interesting, a little bit more mysterious.
He would stay out of village politics but find that politicians and police needed his services more often than they would care to admit.
He would know almost everyone but like almost no one.
He would have scars, lots of them, but he would rarely if ever talk about how he got them. Even a few extra Gennys wouldn't squeeze it out of him.
But, alas, I don't write fiction.
Care to give my detective a cool-as-a-cucumber-but-tough-as-nails-name? Best entry wins a Brockport-themed prize.
Monday, July 30, 2012
I can't really know for sure, but I expect that, for me at least, hearts would open and more love would spill out around us cementing the bonds even tighter than before.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
When are you going to post on your blog again?
Any freelance pieces coming out soon?
These are the questions that I am hearing quite often lately. I don't have any answers, really. Truth is, I am having a hard time writing.
"Writer's block?" my mother asks. But it's not. It's as if the simple, driving need to write has suddenly slipped away. I come home from work or finish my tasks around the house, sit in my wicker rocker, and stare into space. A voice in my head says, fervently, "Get up. Go write."
But I shoo the voice away like a buzzing fly and pick up a magazine or book. Sometimes, I break my own rule of No TV During Daylight Hours and sneak a peek at the boob tube, eager for a rerun of "Celebrity Ghost Stories."
I vaguely mention to my family that I should start a food blog or better yet a podcast. The kids say that I should call it "Coffee with Christine," and anyone who knows me well will laugh, because I'm really a tea drinker.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Next, I found a discounted pair of slipper-booties. They, too, were perfect, or seemed to be. But they disintegrated in record time, and eventually they had to be tossed. They were comfortable and trendy but certainly not durable.
For the last couple of months I've essentially been slipper-less, and it has thrown me, as odd as that sounds. I need something besides my socks between my feet and the cold, cold floor. I need to feel firmly planted, not sliding and unbalanced. I need the comfort and stability that slippers give my feet during these hard, cold Western New York winters.
Recently, I've been shuffling around in multiple socks or old tennis shoes. When my husband isn't home I slip into his too-big slippers that are warm with a firm rubber sole. But they make me trip over my own feet.
On Sunday I found a pair of Croc-like shoes at Ikea, and I snapped them up. We're coming into spring now, so I thought I could wear them for a bit with socks then wear them sock-less when the weather warmed up.
They don't fit.
By the end of the day yesterday my feet hurt, and my toes pinched, and I felt unmoored again. How can a simple thing like HOUSE SLIPPERS, for God's sake, make me insane all winter and spring? How can finding the right fit be so damn hard? Why did my slipper conundrum throw me into near tears? I felt so much like Cinderella's step sisters: desperate to make those stupid shoes work and willing to cut off a heel to make it happen.
Today I went to the big box store that everyone loves to hate and found a pair of house shoes that, I hope, will last at least longer than a few weeks. They are goofy and large and not very trendy at all, but they fit like glass slippers--perfectly.
This post isn't all about shoes, of course. But sometimes the things in life that are only held together by duct tape and hope are too complicated to write about while slippers, well, they are easy. They can be fixed with a few bucks and a little determination.
If only everything were that simple.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Monday, February 6, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
My desk. It's huge, heavy, wooden, and it was FREE!! We got it from an associate of Dennis' who was pulling up stakes and abandoning his office with furniture inside. He just couldn't take it with him. Why yes, I'd love that big, wooden professional desk with oodles of drawers. I sit at my desk in the "living room" of my house. I can't imagine people before me living in this cozy ranch house using this as their only living room. Thankfully, they added on to the house in the 80's and put on a huge family room. This room has never been our "living room." We call it the "front room." I used to have my office in here. Just a desk and some other random furniture that rarely got used. Then it had 3 babies' cribs in it. Much different! Someone go back in time and tell that pregnancy crazed hormonal lady that painting the walls a deep, deep red would take about 13 coats of paint and aggravate her husband to no end. Once the cribs moved out, the room was our therapy room. We added a kid height school table and chairs. My son had 3 years of in-home therapy here - ABA, speech and OT. Fabulous ladies who loved my son and his siblings just as much as we do came here. They became part of our family. Once the kids started school full-time, my old "desk" came back in the room. I was just a ramshackle piece of MDF board with folding table legs attached. Some homemade make-do on a budget piece of furniture that we whipped up back in college, when we were still babies. This new, fancy, free desk makes me feel grown-up.
I don't have time to talk about all the drawers. This desk has drawers for miles. I love them and reorganize them with glee on a regular basis.
Up on top, we've got a big ole' box of tissues. Then, a cordless phone and charging station. Then, one of my set of two speakers, for requisite rocking out while I pay the bills. I've got my tiny purple iPod shuffle charging away reminding me that I haven't been to the gym since before Christmas. A pencil with a broken tip. I was going to sharpen it this morning, but decided to leave it for one of the kids to sharpen because they get such a thrill out of the electric pencil sharpener. Under my monitor sits 5 cash envelopes that came from the bank. They've got Christmas money inside for each of my 4 kids plus Dennis and I - all from my great-grandma who will turn 102 years old in just 6 weeks. She saved all her life so she'd never have to go without. The envelopes have handwritten names of all us scrawled on there by her daughter - my great aunt. She's in her 80's and I'm sure she never imagined her mother would live so long. We sometimes worry about my great-aunt and my grandpa (her brother) and their worsening health conditions. No one in their 80's expects to be outlived by their 102 year old mother.
Damn, the school bus is here. Hmm. It would suck to stop in the middle of a story.
Little people are home and they've been reshuffled. Dennis shoveled the whole driveway, the boys are playing in the snow, and Gillian is reading a book. I ate a bowl of turkey chili. Aren't you a better person for knowing that?
Back to the desk. Under my monitor is a sensory skin brush. The OT gave it to me over a month ago. We don't use it too often, but it sits there waiting to be pressed into service. Then, there sits the sparkling blue box, covered in faux jems. Hidden inside the little tin box is a tiny, colorized photo of Joseph Gordon Levitt. Hi Joe! Tech tools include my wireless keyboard and mouse, and my headphone used for quieter rocking out. Nearby, my mousepad is guarded by my Dexter bobblehead, bloody knife and all. My kids asked a bunch of questions when he came home. Am I warping their sensibilities? I hope so, just a little. Gillian ran off and got her Hello Kitty bobblehead and plopped it next to mine. She said they could be buddies. A serial killer and a Japanese cartoon character, besties? Of course they could be, Gillian.
Over towards the other side of my desk I've got a quart sized mason jar full of a hundred slivers of plastic. We cut up our credit cards over a year ago and I've kept the carnage hanging around. I like the visual reminder that we're being frugal and that paying bills is actually fun now. It's a game to see how much we can save and how much debt we can pay off. Tucked inside the jar is a mini American flag that the boys and I got when we welcomed the WWII Veterans home from their trip to DC last October. The grownups cried that day. Can't wait to go do it again.
Beyond that sits 3 unopened Pinewood Derby Car kits. We haven't even started them and the derby is in 8 days. No problem. Last year Doug's car beat out the other 5 boys in his age group. He couldn't have been more thrilled. Eric cried that day. He cried a big, ugly, snotty cry that lasted too long and embarrassed the heck out of me. He hates to lose. Perched at the very edge of my desk is a new-to-me metal sculpture of flowers - might be cherry blossoms. I found it at the local Savers goodwill shop and I had a coupon. It made me think of Springtime, and now I don't want to put it away and "save" it for a spring day. Why wait?
I've already evangelized today about my ScanSnap pro on my Facebook page. Gillian wandered past my desk today when she got off the bus and whined a tiny bit. She was disappointed to see some of her schoolwork from yesterday in the recycle bin, that crafty, observant girl. I told her - don't worry. Not only did I read it, I thought it was so cool that I scanned it in and emailed it to Dad so that he would read it, too. She and I talked about how I'd save the file until she was a teenager and we smiled about it.
Don't forget that thin layer of dust covering the back few inches of the whole desk. Once in a while I blow really hard and watch it scoot away and fall behind the desk. Ha, Ha. I'm Betty Homemaker. I don't look at the dust, too often, though. I like to look out the window. Yesterday and today I've been watching the birdfeeders. I've seen house finches, starlings, chickadees, male and female downy woodpeckers and yesterday we saw a giant red-headed woodpecker. This is the biggest window in the house and I love the view. The school bus pulls away at 7:30am each day and I get to watch the sunrise over the neighbors trees while I check my email in the morning.
Now I think the boys are finally wet and cold and about ready to come back in from the snow. That was probably about 45 minutes if you subtract out my chili break. Phew! Thanks for visiting my office.
Friday, January 6, 2012
1. Focus on where you write (45 minutes).
Write for a minimum of 45 minutes, describing where you are as you write, how you are writing (using pencil and paper, computer, etc.) and why you have chosen this particular time of day to write, Simply describe your physical location, what about it makes you comfortable–or uncomfortable.