Author, Books, Inspiration, Life, Memoir, Musings, Power, Real Life, Reflections, Writing

Change is Always Happening

Twice before, I’ve written posts about Dani Shapiro’s memoir, Devotion, and how it touched me. Now and then, I pick it up to re-read an entry at random. A few days ago, I read this:

Change is always happening. So simple. So obvious, really—and at the same time so terrifying. A friend had recently sent me directions to her house, and in describing the way the names of the roads changed for no apparent reason, she had written:  Everything turns into something else. No wonder I didn’t want to think about this. What was the point of thinking about this? Love, joy, happiness—all fleeting. Trying to hold on to them was like grasping running water.

I’m older than a lot of you reading this. I think Dani’s realization is one that comes to most of us as we grow older. Everything is fleeting. Everything turns into something else. What was most important to you at the age of five is forgotten and replaced by real concerns at fifteen. And then again at twenty-five. And forty. And …

Everything changes. All things renew, reform, restart. I think back on the times I thought, I can’t survive this. But I did. I remember the times I thought, Nothing will ever be better than this. But I was wrong. Everything changes.  Everything turns into something else.

Grasp what you can and don’t worry about the rest flowing through your fingers. This is a lesson I need to relearn daily. How about you?

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Family, Life, Memoir, Memory, Real Life, Reflections, Social Media, Travel, Writing

Try to remember …

Memory, like many things, is often taken for granted—until it’s lost. My mother is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She realizes it, but most of the time pretends it’s not happening. “Everyone forgets things,” she’ll say, but I can tell by her voice she knows what she’s forgotten is more serious than where she set her purse or what she walked into the kitchen for.

I fear losing my memory—or precisely, losing my memories. The other day, someone mentioned an event I felt I should have remembered, and it shook me a bit that I didn’t. I thought of many wonderful events in my life I would hate to forget, but someday due to Alzheimer’s or ordinary senility, I will begin to lose those memories. My recent loss of valued Christmas ornaments and decorations reinforced my fear. Yes, I still have the memories association with each item—but for how long?

Sad to say, I’m not a writer who kept journals all her life. I wish someone had taught me about journaling when I was young. I would have had my life in written form. Ah-h, if wishes were horses … Still, it’s not too late. I could record all the precious memories I’ve retained. I’m a writer; I could do that.

New plan: whenever something from my past comes to mind, I’ll write it down. I will have my memory in written form. A memoir in its purest form. And if, when I’m ninety, I forget these things happened to me, they should still be good reading.

The Mojave Desert at 75mph


Note: I included this photo for those of you who didn’t see my road photos and witty repartee on my Facebook page. (Just kidding, it was the first time I tried updating my status from my iPhone, so I was too befuddled to be witty. At least that’s my excuse.)

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Books, Characters, Craft, Family, Fiction, Life, Memoir, Musings, Novel, Reading, Real Life, Writing

Floating aimlessly down the stream

Warning: today’s post is an exercise in stream of consciousness. I wrote a long post for today, but then decided it was too personal, probably better suited to an essay or even memoir. So now I’m left with no topic. Hence …

The post I had written was about how it took most of my life to understand my mother. That was because I didn’t know of an important event in her life. Now I’m thinking how this applies to writing. It’s important to give your reader the right information so they can form a true picture of your character. Then again, you don’t want to give too much information and bog down the story. It’s hard to learn that balance, I think. I tend to fall in love with my protagonists and want to gush, talking endlessly about them, like a teen with a crush.

Do you ever think about how odd writing fiction really is and how it began? I know storytelling began as a way to record the history of a people, as well as teach, I presume. So it would seem embellishing history was the beginning of fiction—instead of this is what happened, it became this is what could have happened. In the same way, morality tales could stem from a real life lesson or a possible one. Fiction is lies, but not pathological ones. Fiction is logical lies, with reason and purpose. Don’t you think?

When you’re actively writing, do you read less? I’m concerned about how few books I’ve read in the last two years I’ve worked on this novel. I have quite a stack of books waiting, but I make little progress on it. I recently started a Goodreads list, in which I’ve listed too few books. I should make time to update that—this week. Or not. But really, it’s rather egotistical to expect anyone to read my books, if I won’t make time to read theirs. Right?

I woke up hungry this morning, which is unusual for me. Do you ever get so hungry you can’t think what you want to eat? Today, my husband offered to take me anywhere for dinner, but I didn’t feel like going out. So then he offered to go pick up food from anywhere, but I was so hungry I couldn’t decide what to eat. That reminds me of a time I took my seven-year-old granddaughter to the pool. After a while, she said she was hungry, so I gathered up our things and told her to get out of the pool so we could eat lunch. But her blood sugar was so low she couldn’t comprehend me. She just kept repeating “I’m hungry!” until she was in tears. I had to physically lead her out of the pool. It was rather frightening how unreasonable someone with low blood sugar can be. Hmmm, maybe I’ll use that in a story sometime.

Okay, this is ridiculous. Sorry, nothing worthwhile floated up out of my stream. Next post will be better … I hope. What’s on your mind today?

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Memoir, Writing

Summer Sleuths

The summer I was ten, my best friend Terry and I read the collection of Nancy Drew books her parents had bought her. Naturally, we then fancied ourselves girl detectives and were ever vigilant in our quest for a mystery to solve. On the corner, at the far end of my street, was a massive hedgerow along the length of the property. In its midst, we discovered a hollow place, big enough for the two of us to hide in and observe the strange goings on in the neighborhood.

On any given day, we might see a suspicious white-haired woman (or was she?) pulling home her foldaway shopping cart full of groceries (or were they?) We also spied an alarming number of boys on bikes circling the block, obviously up to something. We easily decoded snatches of clandestine conversation as pedestrians passed us unaware. No mystery was too small or too big for us to handle.

Then one day, we hit the jackpot. After our usual bologna sandwich and Kool-aid lunch, we hurried to our lair. I crawled in first, while Terry stood lookout. Even before I reached our spot, my nose reacted. By the time Terry reached my heels, I was gagging.

“Gross,” she said, “what’s that stink?”

With my heart pounding, I raised a hand and pointed. “Bones,” I said.

We crawled backwards at a pace you wouldn’t believe possible and quickly decided my dad was the go to guy … not for any reason other than it was faster to run to my house than hers. We arrived breathless, stammering out the news that we’d found a dead body … or at least a piece of one and begging him to come see. And right NOW! He gave us a look that said he was 99% sure we had not found a body and issued a warning this better not be a joke.  With our assurance of the severity of the situation, we set off for the scene of the crime. Walking. Slowly.

Our stroll gave me time to think. I scripted what I would say when they interviewed us for the six o’clock news. And then it hit me! Terry and I would be on screen together. Think. Okay, yes, I would do the talking, but make her stand mostly in front of me, closer to the camera, that way she would look more my size than her too cute, petite self. But I would definitely do the talking. Then, my heart sank. I saw myself, frozen like a popsicle and not able to squeak above a whisper when we’d performed our skit for the school talent show.  Girl detective or not, I’d end up looking like a big stupid oaf on TV.

Still … we were going to be famous!

My father didn’t bother crawling into the hollow, he just strong-armed the shrubbery aside and peered in. For an eternity—or at least thirty seconds—he froze. Then he knelt and thrust a hand forward. When he stood and turned toward us, he held forth a massive bone with putrid flesh attached. Saucer-eyed, Terry and I recoiled.

“This,” he said, “is a cow femur. A soup bone, left here by a dog.” He flung it back toward the hedge and stomped off toward home.

Terry and I stood side by side, watching his retreat. “Wanna go to my house and make fudge?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said. We’d just witnessed the death of our sleuthing career. Why not drown our sorrows in sugar?

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