Bringing in another post from the archives while waiting for the muse to wake up.
A few years back I was trying to train a new hairdresser. One day… Hairdresser says: How about something a little different? Note: This is the 2nd time she has cut my hair. I say: OK whatever. Wash…rinse…snip snip…gel…hairdryer…gook…teasing…hairspray…I look in the mirror. Hairdresser: Do you like it? Me: hmmmmmm HD: Well I’m not letting you out of the chair until you say you like it. Me: Do you think you can tone it down a bit? Note: Is Aquanet back in vogue? A little tugging here and there…actually she pulls on one hair and they all move. She pats the sides of my head but the mass just springs back into form. HD: Better? I look in mirror:
I know what comes next…
I’m twenty years older than my mother would ever be. Soon I’ll be as old as my mother’s mother. Say it isn’t so.
2019 wasn’t meant to be a winning year for NaNoWriMo. I signed up this year for one purpose – distraction. I didn’t want to face the fact that my writing mentor-neighbor-friend would die before Thanksgiving. She questioned my decision to sign up for this challenge, insisting that I was avoiding the publication of my memoir, the memoir that she had finished editing a couple of months ago. “Just publish the damn thing,” she said about the 9th of November. Instead, I went home and added more than 2400 words to the NaNoWriMo project.
Things turned for the worst the next day. My friend began to fail. Suddenly bedridden, she looked out her window at the autumn leaves. “Do you remember the story ‘The Last Leaf’ by O. Henry?” She asked. When I admitted I had no recollection, she offered a brief synopsis. I followed the gaze of her eyes to see only a handful of leaves on the branch outside her window and asked if she was watching for the last leaf to fall. She smiled and closed her eyes.
The next few visits were painfully silent as that one last leaf swayed in the wind. On the 21st day of November the final leaf drifted slowly to the earth as my friend took her last breath.
My takeaway here is not about not finishing the novel. It’s about making the right choices for each moment. Time is precious and I was blessed with the time to sit at my friend’s bedside during those final days. Sad as it is, she died with peace, grace and dignity – just the way she lived her life.
I knew this would be the day thanks to Amazon’s tracking devices. While meeting with my writer’s group, I kept my phone next to me, in silent mode, glancing at the tiny screen with each vibration, stalking the texts. “Your package has left the facility.” A while later, “Your package is out for delivery.” And then, “Your package is two stops away.” I tried to listen to everyone read but the distractions kept coming. Buzz, buzz, buzz.
I would be a useless critique today, my head following the path of the Amazon delivery truck, but I tried to be a good listener. The phone was silent for a bit. I looked back at the last message. Two stops. They should have delivered it by now. Maybe they got lost. Maybe they lied.
It was my turn to read. “I didn’t bring anything,” I apologized. “You see, I thought I would have my proof copies to share.” I held up my phone. “They’re two stops away.” I used my allotted time to talk about keywords, back of the book blurbs and the benefits of self-publishing.
Buzzzzzz. I looked down at the phone. “Delivered.” Suddenly it was real. I could run home, rip open the box, and hold the proof of my efforts. And so I did.
I ran my fingers across the shiny cover. I flipped to the back side, read the blurb. It needs some editing. I checked the interior. It needs some editing. My job is not done. But even scarier, as I hold this piece of work in my hands, I think, is this something I truly want to release out into the world?
Sometimes it takes just a little bit of luck and sometimes you just happen on to something that brings with it a whole flood of memories. Thanks to someone I met two years ago at Silver Lake Sandbox when I visited Michigan, I stumbled on her FaceBook post announcing this new book by Ann Chandler. Terri was kind enough not to just get Ann to sign the book for me but also put us in touch with each other. Two days later I held the book in my hands.
Yesterday I dug through a box of old photos from my dad and found a bunch of shots from the early 50s. Then came the memories. Dunes, dune scooters, swimming, sunburns, bonfires, the lost village, rowboats, speedboats and platoons and my little green toy truck lost under all that sand. Strange sometimes what comes to mind.
Meanwhile, there is a short reference to the Silver Lake dunes in my upcoming memoir. It’s a meditation of sorts that gets me through difficult times:
I was six years old when I first climbed the razor back dune behind the cottages where we spent our summer days. I never once gave up in my climb to reach the top of that shifting sand and that struggle later came to represent the struggles in my life, literally two steps forward and one step back, but it was that stubborn step forward that counted.
I sit on top of the tallest sand dune
between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan and feel as though I have reached the top
of the world. To my right is Silver Lake, a mirror shining within a frame of
small cottages. To my left is Lake Michigan, big as an ocean stretching into
I feel the warmth of the midday sun,
burying my bare feet under the hot layer of sand. I lie back and sink into the
fine white sand, cradled in its soft formations, snug and safe. I close my eyes.
I am quiet as my mind clears, letting
go of the daily trials, giving them up to a power greater than myself. I listen
patiently, waiting for some guidance. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.
It will happen in God’s time, not mine.
My mind is at peace and my body
follows. I am safe, comfortable and everything is good. I know that all will be
Gently I return to life, opening my
eyes ever so slowly. I roll to my side and push off, tumbling down the dunes,
free from my burdens, ready for action.
As I rise to standing, I look up to the top. Then turn and walk away knowing that I can return anytime, anyplace.
Twice this week Big Brother has emailed comics to me. Speed Bump and Pickles. Go ahead and click on them. They are safe. You might even laugh. I can take a hint. I get it. “When’s the &#*$ memoir going to be done?”
So, what did I do? It’s obvious my blog posts have been a bare minimum. Do you get it now? I’ve been writing. It was a beautiful day out there today in my neighborhood but I didn’t step foot out the door. I got up, salutated the sun, drank my coffee, and glued my butt to the chair.
Morning affirmations: “I’m so close. I can finish this. Today.”
And I did.
Someone said “print it out.” I did that too, almost passing out from the fumes of 309 hot pages spitting out of my new laser printer. I punched holes, three sheets at a time, with my inexpensive paper punch. Found an old binder left over from tax course days.