Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Who Needs Dear Abby When I Got a Big Brother?

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went into a rant. Not about the turkey being too dry, or the fact that it took me hours to locate and dispose of all the hair balls from Betty Queen Elizabeth, so my guests wouldn't find black hair floating in their gravy. I went on a rant about my life as an artist.

My older brother, who lives in San Francisco and is a car designer by trade, was home for the holiday and I desperately needed to vent to someone who I knew would understand where I was coming from. I needed some reassurance that I wasn't the only artist who gets impatient with not getting paid for your hours of hard work, putting your whole heart and soul on the line every day, just so people can tell you to go back and start over - the story isn't powerful enough to be published yet.

What's great about having a brother who is older, wiser and a male, is that he can encapsulate my reeling emotions into a few sentences and make me feel great. Not just good, but great.
With this particular rant I was on, he was totally in his element. I didn't even need to get more than a few sentences out. Apparently, his many years of art school, car design training and on the job experience, added up to a whole lot of advice for me.

He said, "Being an artist means ripping your heart out of your chest, nailing it to the wall, and watch while people throw darts at it. Your heart and soul, your blood, your sweat, your tears, must be in every piece of art you do, and sometimes it will be great, and sometimes it will be shit. And art, unlike 1+1=2, is subjective. That's your life. End of story."

My lamenting turned quickly into laughing. It wasn't that he said something I didn't already know, but watching him pretend to rip his heart out of his chest and throw darts at it in the middle of the kitchen, made me realize that all of us as artists feel exactly the same way at some point. In fact, isn't anyone looking for success going to feel this way? I realized it's not just the life of the artist, but the life of someone who is striving for greatness, striving to better themselves, to challenge the masses, to get somewhere. It's all about risk.

My daughter is a synchronized ice skater, and as I watch the skaters on her team who rang in age from 7 to 12 compete, I see them do the same thing. They go out there, give it everything they got. Sometimes they place high, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter. What matters is that they keep going. They keep striving. They keep willing to go out there, rip their hearts out of their chests and let the judges throw darts.

So big brother comes through again. Every day, I push ahead, asking myself if the writing I'm finished with for the day has my blood on it. Did I commit? Did I reveal? Did I take the risk? If not, it's a rewrite. And I will rewrite my stories and I will let the darts be thrown, and I will keep going. End of story.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How I Really Feel About Batman and Robin

Last week I was tagged by a friend/fellow blogger with the following questions. The first question deals with superpowers and so I immediately thought of my favorite superheroes Batman and Robin (60's TV show).

I'm not really a big superhero/superpower fan but I loved watching Batman when I was a kid and not because of their superhero-ness. In all honesty, I watched the show because I thought the guys were cute. Especially Robin. I loved him. I had a crush on him. He was everything any eight-year old looks for in a man: 1)Cute...check. 2)Funny...check 3)Seems to be kinda on your never the boss...check. So you can see where my interests lie when it comes to superheroes and superpowers. Now that I've admitted my crush on Robin, here's what I have to say about the rest of the questions:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have?

I'm a bit of a mystic girl. I believe in psychics, astrology (although some argue that is a science), ghosts, you know, all kinds of things that can't be explained with pure logic. So, I'd opt for mythic healing powers. I'd love to have the ability to wipe out illness, sadness, suffering and really bad attitudes. Peace baby. All the way.

2. Who is your style icon?

I have a few, depending on my mood:
Audry Hepburn, Princess Diana and Roseanne Rosannadanna.

3. What is your favorite quote?

I have two:
"In the face of difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein.
"The best things in life are always a little bit gross." - My brother.

4. What's the best compliment you ever received?

A successful writer told me I have a mind like a writer.

5. What's on your iPod/CD player right now?

Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey - John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

6. Are you a night owl or morning person?

Morning. Always. My best childhood memories are of my dad and I being the only ones up on vacation and going for breakfast at the Howard Johnson's hotel restaurant, just the two of us.

7. Do you prefer cats or dogs?

I'm an animal lover. I don't have a cat because my son and husband have asthma and you know what that means...

8. What's the meaning behind your blog name?

Artichokes aren't a passive food. Life is like an artichoke. Like an artichoke, you can't be passive about life. You have to keep at it, peeling away the layers to get to the heart of it. People are like artichokes too. And the Aristotle part? I'm a writer and lover of philosophy. Say no more.

Thanks for visiting, and now check out a few of my favorite blogs on writing:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

City Girl

I'm very excited to have been accepted into the Certificate of Creative Writing program at the University of Chicago. Once a week I hop into my car and head into the city to indulge myself in the study of creative writing.

It's exhilarating to go into Chicago once a week. I spent most of my adult life living there (ages 19-35) and loved every minute of it. But there came a time when having kids meant moving out to sprawling suburbia. And as I drive myself back and forth every week, I know that although the truth might hurt, I'm not a city girl anymore. I would have lived in denial, thinking that once a city girl always a city girl, but a year after moving out of the city, I had an encounter with a Marshall Field's saleswoman that clarified my standing as a suburbanite.

Two months after my son was born, my parents babysat for us so hubby and I could go into the city for the day. At this time, Marshall Fields was still around and we decided to do some shopping there, a little reminiscing. I had found a cute purse that I wanted and went up to the cash register to pay for it. Hubby decided to get some air outside while I paid for my cute little purse. As the lady behind the counter folded up the bag that she had carefully placed my new purse into, she looked at me with a big warm smile, "You must be one of the people from the PEORIA bus."


I started to shake. My eyeballs felt swollen. I couldn't breath. I couldn't even speak. I shook my head in protest. "No. No. No, no NO. I'm not from PEORIA. I just moved out to the suburbs a year ago. REALLY!"

Clutching my hunter green Marshall Field's bag I spun around and raced out the revolving door, almost knocking everyone over in my path, including two small children. I ran up to hubby, on the verge of tears. I could barely speak. "I...I...she...the lady...thought...I..."

Hubby grabs my arm, a look of panic taking over his face. "Oh my God. What happened? Did you get mugged? You're shaking."

Still nodding, I somehow found the strength to get the words out. And as I said them, postpartum hormonal floodgates opened up. "The lady behind the counter thought I was from PEORIA!" I screamed.

Now hubby thinks I've gone nuts and this whole 'having kids' thing has really taken it's toll.

"SO? SO? ME? FROM PEORIA? DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?" My arms are flailing, the green bag flapping, people shielding their faces from me while walking down State Street.

Hubby tries his best to get a grip on what happened and where his wife went to. "Apparently, I don't...because you seem to be pretty upset and I have no idea why."

"Of course you don't know why. You're from ROCKFORD!" I start pacing around, sweating, rubbing my forehead, trying to figure out how to reverse this curse.

Hubby grabs me by the shoulder and directs me to the window. Standing under the awning he tries to understand (bless his heart). "You're gonna need to explain. Is this a new mother thing? Do we need to go home?"

"No! We don't need to go home. I just need a minute."


After a few minutes, I was able to calm myself down using the Lamaze method that I DIDN'T use during childbirth. I explained to him what it means to a 'city girl' like myself, to have been mistaken for someone from PEORIA.

My arms outstretched, shifting my feet, I revealed the secret code to him. "It means that I've slipped. I've gone backwards, not only in the world of fashion, but this is a CHARACTER issue. Going backwards in fashion implies that I'm backwards in my thinking, in my life. That I'm not up to par mentally. I've regressed in every way possible. This isn't about the fact that I LOOK like I'm from PEORIA. This is crisis! This is my wake up call. If I continue on this path I'll be old and grey and in a rocker in six months flat and there's no way I'll ever be able to catch up. I'm doomed!"

Hubby says. "Let's go for a drink."

So we left Marshall Field's and hubby took me straight to the nearest bar. Three drinks later we were both laughing about the whole thing - but for completely different reasons. And when I got home, my entire outfit, belt and all went into the Goodwill pile. Even my underwear.

But as I discarded that outfit, the truth was, I couldn't discard the reality of my life. I had been a city person and now I wasn't. It wasn't part of my character anymore. The Marshall Field's lady confirmed my status as a non-city dweller. And that hurt.

The hard thing about life is that it always changes. The good part about life is that it always changes. As I visit the city once a week, I'm reminded that it's still there. It's still going, and there's always a chance I can go back to living there and being a city girl once again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer-Through the Eyes of a Dog

The start of a new school year always means exciting new beginnings and back to work for our household. But for our family dog, Betty Queen Elizabeth, the start of a new school year means a big let down. As the kids ran out to the bus stop last week, Betty's head hung low, while her sad eyes followed each step they took. Her summer entertainment was going, going...gone. They were once again, whisked away by the ginormous, loud, orange monster we call a school bus.

After the school bus pulled away, Betty Queen Elizabeth turned around and plopped onto the foyer rug. A long drawn out sigh bellowed out of her, as she slowly inched her head closer to the floor, getting ready do some serious nap time and a whole lotta nothin'.

Watching her obvious discontentment with the situation, I bent down, and sat next to her. I stroked the top of her head, and thought about how Betty Queen Elizabeth might sum up all the reasons why she loves summer so much. Here's how I think it might go if I interviewed her:

Betty, why do you love summer so much?

B.Q.E. (short for Betty Queen Elizabeth): I love summer because there's constantly something going on. Take a simple thing like the front door, for example. In the summer months, it stays open from sun-up to sun-down, a perfect place to park yourself and watch everything going on outside through the glass storm door. I can spot every dog that prances by the house and they can see me. I love to practice my vicious bark at them. My vocal chords get a good work out while I hone my guard-dog skills.

Author/Interviewer note:
Unfortunately, Betty doesn't really have any guard-dog skills, so we still pay for an alarm on our house. Betty doesn't know that wagging her tail and licking someone are NOT GUARD DOG SKILLS and and they do NOT act as deterrents. Vicious barking and showing of the teeth would be guard dog skills, but oh well. We don't want to hurt her self-esteem so we let it go.

So, Betty. How do you feel about the house being bombarded by children all day long?

B.Q.E.: I LOVE it. During the summer, kids are always around and they come in every shape and size. Kids are fun to have around for three reasons. One: they ALWAYS feed you. Two: they're ALWAYS running (huge chase-me-I chase-them factor). And three: Some kids come smaller, at eye-level, which is THE perfect size for face licking (usually with a bonus flavor like cherry, lemonade, or ice-cream on them).

Tell us the truth. How do you feel about being taken for rides in the car constantly in the summer?

B.Q.E.: More rides in the car means more times I can stick my head out and feel the wind flap my ears and rush up my nose. I love it. In the summer, I'm guaranteed At LEAST one ride a day. Shoot. There were times this summer that I felt like I was in the car ALL DAY! Also, more rides means - you guessed it, more kids in the car. And kids pet me a lot and call me the cutest dog ever, so what's not to LOVE?

How about all the parties that seem to go on at your house? How do you feel about that?

B.Q.E.: Summer parties mean one thing to me: Food. AND that grill thing-a-majig is used whenever there's a party, which works out perfectly for me. A party of any sort means humans are distracted (by other humans) so I can get to the drippings under the grill before it gets covered. YUM.

Speaking of parties, I heard there was a couple of wild parties at your house this summer, one of them involved dancing in the living room, another one involved BISON meat being served while humans wore white bed sheets or Togas. Is this true? And if so, how did you handle that craziness?

B.Q.E.: I cannot tell a lie. It's all true. I didn't mind the dancing. It was fun to watch and bark to the music. And the humans wearing sheets didn't bother me either. The sheets made the humans look more like a soft comfy bed to me, which is where I like to spend all my free time in the winter. But I had a real issue with the Bison meat.

You did? Why is that, B.Q?

B.Q.E.: Well...that night...when they were carving the Bison their Togas, I managed to confiscate a huge chunk of it. A delicious chunk with bones buried inside of it and everything. I was in the corner, enjoying it, finding my roots, reliving my heritage when, BAM! Just like that, my mother snatched it away from me. I don't think I'll ever be the same. I think she might have ruined all my future relationships with meat.

Sorry to hear that, B.Q.E. Let's move on. Do you chase a lot of bunnies and squirrels in the summer?

B.Q.E.: Squirrel????

B.Q.E.? Get back here! Oh well. Guess we're done.

Here's to another summer ending and a new school year beginning...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Shop for a Bathing Suit With Your 10 Year-Old Daughter

10. She'll steer you away from suits that are "way too young" for you.

9. She'll keep you from trying on/going near any suits that could possibly embarrass HER if she's seen with you.

8. She knows whether tank-ini's are in or out this season.

7. You can be the first to explain to her WHY they put that sticky thing in the crotch of the suit, and WHY you don't dare remove it.

6. You'll also be the first to explain to her why/when/how there comes a time when serious padding and underwires are not optional.

5. She'll laugh hysterically at you when you can't get the size 10 bathing suit past your knees.

4. You'll both almost pee in your pants when you explain to her that you thought it said size was really a size 01!

3. She'll tell you honestly which parts of your body to cover up and which are still appropriate for public viewing.

2. She'll tell you with a straight face that you should "seriously get that suit" because it matches the color of your varicose veins.

And the number one reason why you should shop for a bathing suit with your 10 year old daughter...

1. On the way home from the mall, you can both sing "Don't Stop Believin'... " as loud as you can, just like you used to do with your college friends.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Last night my son decided he didn't want to be an artist anymore. I've been encouraging him to take an art class for several years, but he resisted, choosing to work on his art in private, in a bubble, without anyone telling him how to draw and without having to compare his work to others. But a month ago, he decided he was ready. Ready to learn, ready to get out there and explore his creativity with others.

Something happens when you leave your bubble. Leaving your bubble and venturing out of the safety of your basement, or office, or kitchen table means setting yourself up for facing the truth of who you are as an artist (and deep down as a person). In the company of others, we as human beings are programmed to compare ourselves to someone who is better than us. That's just how we roll. But when you're eleven, and have your first epiphany that there are people out there better than you and they're like, NINE? That can be a tough nugget to swallow.

So when my son said he wanted to quit because there were kids that were better than him in his art class, I asked him a question. I said, "What if Mom came to you and said, 'There's this writer I know. She can write a better novel than me. I think I'm going to quit.' What would you tell me? Would you say, "You're right Mom. You should just hang it up and quit writing."

"No!" He sat up straight. "No way. Why would you say that?" He looked at me like I was an alien or something.

I looked back at him. "Well, if I shouldn't quit, why should you?"

He nodded. Then he said. "I got it. Are we done now?"

I said, "No. So are you going to quit or not?"

"Not." He said.

"Good." I said. "But I've got a few more things to say."

He groans. "Do we have to keep talking?"

"Yep." I said.

So I went on to give him the 'life of an artist' pep talk. And as I was pumping him up, I realized I was pumping myself up too. I stopped mid sentence when I was explaining how there was always going to be someone better than you, always someone who you wish you could be like, but these people are gifts to you. They are your carrot. They are put in front of you by a higher power that's saying to you, "Look. Look at them. This is what I want you to become."

As I query agents and keep pushing forward with two other manuscripts (one YA and one MG) there are days when I wonder if I'll be as good as I want to be, if I'm gonna be as good as Pat Conroy, or Sherman Alexie, or Sara Zarr, or Jandy Nelson (who I just discovered, thanks to agent Elana Roth)...I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

But last night, as I convinced my son that he could do whatever he put his mind to, I convinced myself that of course, I could be as good as I wanted to be. Funny how this parenting thing works: In parenting your kids, it's possible to accidentally parent yourself.


Friday, April 30, 2010

To Believe

The world of the supernatural fascinates me and I love to pursue it in my stories. In pursuing this passion, last week I went with a good friend to see a psychic. I felt compelled to consult with a psychic for a while, especially one that is a medium, so I could try to feel what Carmella feels when she speaks with Francesca. And since my next book involves my main character falling in love with a ghost, I wanted to explore the possible physical and mental effects one could go through when encountering a spirit. (I also have an obvious interest in communicating with spirits, so what the heck.)

After my reading, I came home with four pages of notes on what my deceased relatives had to say to me. Of course, I had to tell my husband all about it. "So and so said hi. My aunt was talking really loudly, she was really excited to talk to me. My sister is really happy. My uncle told me to say hi to my aunt for him."

My husband's response was, "Ha!" (Well really ha, ha, get the idea) He is what you call a non-believer.

So I started thinking about this believer, non-believer thing. Lots of people don't believe in anything psychic. No astrology, no tarot cards, no palm readings, nothing. I, however, am a firm believer. I believe in God and I also believe that some people are gifted and can make predictions, or communicate with spirits. Now, don't get me wrong. I also believe that there are lots of fakes out there. (Maybe more phonies than real?)

But my point is, as human beings, no matter what we believe in, I think we have to believe in something. We have to believe in ourselves, in each other, in God, in Buddha, in things beyond the scope of logic. If we didn't believe in things beyond the scope of logic, how would huge technological/scientific/medical advances take place?

Talking logic now, I thought, what if I could find some logic to prove psychic abilities? What if we could gather logical explanations that prove psychic abilities are real? And in searching for just a little logic, a little science behind the psychic phenomenon, I had to send an e-mail to Jonah Lehrer. He hasn't studied this aspect of the brain and I thought who better to delve into this than Mr. Lehrer?

I'm still waiting to hear from him.

I'll keep waiting, and hoping that Mr. Lehrer assists me attempting to explain the unexplainable, but after all is said and done, it won't matter to me as a writer, as a believer of sorts. I will always believe that there are gifted people who can make predictions and talk to spirits. (Two past Presidents consulted with psychics). I will always believe in things illogical because that's who I am and I don't see how I could be a writer without being this way.

Yesterday, I read an interview with Anne Lamott in Writers Digest magazine. As usual, she made a profound comment about the life of a writer.

She said, "I really believe people are called to a literary life like others are called to a theological life or a religious life, but publishing is a business that is really hard. Hard on your heart. Hard on your soul. Hard on your everything."

So to be a writer and to put up with a hard life, does it all come down to belief? Do writers do it every day, day in and day out, because deep down, they believe? A belief so strong they believe in themselves even when no one else does?

I'm going with a yes. But that's no surprise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Do Our Dreams Mean?

Last week, I was in the midst of writing my second novel, which I haven't titled yet. (Like when you first find out you're pregnant and you're not ready to check out Baby Name books at the library). I had a very restless night after a day of delving into the plot and the male love-interest character, who just happens to be a ghost (what can I say? I love using ghosts in my stories).

All night long, I kept waking up, feeling like this ghost was in my bedroom. He wasn't scaring me, just creeping me out a little bit. Needless to say, it was a very restless night and I woke up tired, but with a feeling like I knew my character better. When I sat down to write that day, although I was a little tired, I knew the character better, and the book is coming along at quite a clip.

Thinking about dreams and what they mean, I decided to see if my buddy Jonah Lehrer had anything to say about the topic. I first heard about Jonah when his second book, How We Decide came out and I've been visiting his blog ever since. It seems whenever I'm pondering a topic concerning our brain, I can go to his blog The Frontal Cortex and he's written something about it.

Last weekend, Jonah had an essay in the New York Times, entitled Why We Dream and in the essay he cites numerous research done on this topic, dating all the way back to Freud. The most recent research he discusses is from a paper published in 2004 by Sara Mednick, a neuroscientist at University of California. In her study, she points to the importance of dreams and specifically, the R.E.M. state and how there's a direct correlation between R.E.M., long term memory and creativity. Ah ha!

Researchers have discovered that when we dream, our minds are filing information away, deciding what things to leave in our memory and what things to throw away. As silly as dreams sound when we retell them (and people roar with laughter at us) believe it or not, all the information contained in our dreams is based on our life and what's happening in it. While we sleep, our mind does Administrative Assistant duties for us.

This brings me my own completely unscientific conclusion about dreams. I think I've cracked the code as to why we can't seem to remember a lot of stuff as we get older: We forget a lot because in the middle of the night, when our administrative assistant is supposed to be organizing and filing, it's slacking off. So when we go to retrieve information from our brains, we can't. The memory has been either misfiled or got thrown away without our consent. The solution? Fire and replace.

One last note: Jonah Lehrer points out at the end of his essay that although much has been proven to explain our dreams, there is still a ginormous amount of information we don't know concerning our dream-state-of-mind.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In A Flash

I dialed 911 for the first time in my life. Picking up the phone to do it, I thought to myself, I'm dialing 911. I'm scared. Is my life going to change forever in the next five minutes?

It was my dad. He's 80. He's 80, in really good shape, but tripped on a step outside our front door and took a header. He seemed fine. Just a scraped hand. But then he turned white as snow and said he wasn't feeling well. He sat down. He started sweating. I spoke to him, his head hanging down but he didn't respond.

"Are you okay?" I asked him.
He shook his head no. That's when I went for the phone.

The paramedics came. He was okay. My life didn't change. His life didn't change. The paramedics said he went into shock after the fall on the cement.

But the image of my dad, laying face down on our sidewalk is burned into my DNA forever. That night, after the kids went to bed, when I finally relaxed and stopped pretending that nothing happened that morning, it hit me. Life can totally change in a second.

Life changing in a second isn't new to me. I've experienced the real deal. I lost my sister unexpectedly eighteen years ago. My life changed forever with a one minute phone call. I'm not ready for another change. I never will be.

Unfortunately, we don't get to decide what will happen in our life. But we can make decisions on how to live it.

That's when I got to thinking about how we can either decide to be positive or decide to be negative. Does being positive take more energy or less? Is it harder to be positive these days because we seem to live in a society where there's so much more negative in it? Or is that just my perception?

Anyhow, it's my opinion that we need more positive in our world. We need more stories that make us laugh. We need more good-news reports about good things happening. We need more happiness, which by the way there is a Happiness Institute in Australia. I know what you're thinking. I thought the same thing: If you're living in Australia, isn't it automatic that you'd be happy?

So I'm on a quest to go find only good news. Cheery stuff. Funny stuff. Shiny, happy people stuff.

Because as hubby always tells me, "Life is short but it's really, really wide!"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Are the Odds of Winning at the Olympics?

Let's just be brutally honest here. I'm so uncoordinated that I've fallen down cross-country skiing. I've been known to trip over myself just walking down the street. So I never thought I'd be able to say I can relate to an athlete, let alone an olympic athlete. But for the first time in my life, I see that I'm not much different than they are (I'm talking philosophically here).

Athletics aside (obvious?) I'm totally on the same path. As I listen to the athletes' stories of training, sacrifice, failures and successes, I see myself - my life - as parallel to theirs. I've been training for years. I've written a novel, but not before having written thousands of pages, that now sit on my computer's hard drive, only after throwing the "hard copies" (pounds and pounds, reams upon reams of paper) into the recycling bin with a few choice words attached (sometimes louder and more...ahem...profound than at other times).

So I thought to myself, hmmm....what are the odds of getting published? Are they less than winning a medal? Or are my chances greater than the athletes competing in the Olympics?

You can probably guess what I did next. Right. Of course, I turned to everybody's BFF these days: Google.

What I found out was yes. My chances of getting published are greater than winning an Olympic medal. How much you ask? Well, I must be honest. I didn't go hog-wild and research this to the nth degree. I've got another novel to keep plugging away at and letters to keep writing and Target "fire-drill" runs to make get my drift.

So here's what I found out: The odds of winning the olympics are 662,000 to 1. The odds of getting published are 3 out of approximately 10,000.

No problem. (I'm in confidence-booster mode now)

After thinking about that statistic, I realized the 662,000 athletes are the ones that have actually made it to the Olympics. What about all the other athletes that started out with their sights set on the Olympics that aren't even in that 662,000? In actuality, the number is even greater. Talk about passion, drive, and determination...I have a newfound respect for all the athletes out there...

All I have to do is beat out 9,997 other writers...Piece of cake, huh?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Recently, the notion of truth has been on my mind. Living your life truthfully gets thrown around all the time, but when you think about it, sometimes it's not so easy to be completely truthful to yourself. Living true to yourself, true to your life is to be constantly facing everything head-on. No hiding. No using crutches. No avoiding.

So how much truth do we need? Is it critical to be completely honest with ourselves? More importantly, how do we know we're being completely honest and truthful with ourselves? How do we know that we're living a truthful life?

And if we hide from the truth, stuff things into the subconscious where no one will find it, how do we get it back when we're ready? It's like when you hide a gift from your family, kids, or roommate and then can't find it for the life of you. Is that what happens when we stuff the truth away? Sometimes we can't find it when we go back?

If we do hide from the truth of our lives, is it a one-for-one proposition? Let's say we hide from the truth for say, ten years. Does it take exactly ten years to reveal the truth to ourselves when we're ready for it? Or is finding the truth all about how painful the truth is? Realizing you look like death warmed over (my mother's phrase) as a blonde certainly isn't even in the same ballpark as realizing you're truly unhappy with your life and have to change careers, husbands and find new friends! Yikes!

And, does hiding from the truth always have to be a negative? Do we stuff only bad truths way up in the attic? Are we ever guilty of hiding from the good truths of our lives? Now that's a ridiculous notion: "Yeah, my life's going really great, but I just can't face it..." WAH? Is that where "self-sabotage" (my phrase) comes in? Okay, that's another topic altogether...

Finally, is truth a slippery slope? Let's say we just hide from the truth of our lives just a little bit. Is it like when I had the talk about lying to my kids? Once you start, it can snowball and you don't know when to stop? So you start hiding from the truth a little bit and...bam! You're living in na na land, totally removed from every reality of your life. Dishonest to yourself and everyone around you...

Okay, so just a few things to ponder. It's winter, it's cold, it's snowing, and that my friends is the truth!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Friendship

My daughter came home last night from play practice sprinting for the phone. "I have to call her. It will only take one second. I have to tell her!" She pleaded with me.

I told her no, she needs to go to bed. Then I looked at her and she had the look. It was like denying her Tylenol for a fever. She needed five minutes to tell her friend something. I remembered for that split second who the friend was that I had to talk to every night.

He was my locker-mate senior year. Double Fantasy just came out. I don't remember why we shared a locker. I suspect it was to insure that we saw each other every second we could.

I stopped in the hallway last night staring at my house, my life now, and remembering all those nights on the phone. Remembering how my heart would stop when my mother would inform me that I had a message. Remembering how just seeing his name scribbled on a piece of torn off white paper lying on the kitchen counter made my heart skip a beat. It took a grave effort for me not break out in a giggle over it.

We were like best friends. We never dated. When I think back on it now I'm not sure what happened, why we didn't date, but I suspect it was my fault. No, I know it was my fault. I remember vividly (like it was last week) literally running away from his advances. Running away from his kiss. Running away from getting hurt. Running away from the possibility (or reality in my mind) that he would love me and then leave me.

I was too scared. Scared that somehow if our relationship went to the next level that I could get hurt. Really hurt. I was so afraid of being hurt that I pushed him away. And I pushed hard.

He was the only thing I remember that was good about high school for me. We shared every thought, every dream, every angst that went on in our lives. We loved John Lennon and what he stood for. He told me to never change. Stay who I was. He was right.

Unfortunately, I did change. And not for the best. The next few years after high school were the worst in my life, filled with enough tragedy to write books about. ?REALLY?

It was though he knew me so well he could see it coming.

As I write my letters to prospective agents I tell them that I believe books can change people's lives. Not only do I believe that, I experience it every time I read a book. I finished Wally Lamb's book She's Come Undone recently. Through the tragic life of his characters, I was able to see more clearly the mistakes, the misfortunes and most importantly, the blessings and the things I have done absolutely right in my life. I saw my life more clearly than I ever have.

I heard Marketa Irglova (Once, 2006) say in an interview that she feels every friend she's had in her life, good or bad, has made her who she is and she's grateful for that. I thought that was really profound. And as I look back on my high school years, I feel really lucky to have had a friend that loved me enough to tell me not to change. To be so insightful at eighteen. To be such a good friend.

So to my good friend, wherever he is now: I'm sorry.

PS I still have my yearbook with your drawing in it. You were right: I haven't forgotten about the John Lennon memorial service in Grant Park...But you know you never finished what you were writing to me...something about not being a conformist and the revolution...

I remember the wink at our graduation ceremony.
Thanks for our friendship and I hope you haven't changed either!