Archives for posts with tag: courage

A Life Apart – L. Y. Marlow 9780307719393

A Life Apart

L. Y. Mar

This is a historical novel dealing with race, World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, relationships of the black and white kind, and a love story. The title A Life Apart implies to the reader more than one meaning. The author is indeed a , and as she takes us deeper and deeper into the novel, complexities of other families, life of African-Americans, how they differ, and a coming to love. It’s gentle, and it’s a story about love, about skin color privilege and hatred, and human beings caught on the corners or jagged edges of history’s transitions. I’m from Boston, and went to secretarial school in Roxbury. I was born a little before World War II, and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I was oblivious to racial prejudice until I came to California in 1992, discovered the Baha’i Faith and the concept of the oneness of humankind.This book is important. There are no strident notes or harsh retaliations to the way whites treated our fellow African-Americans (grievously, beyond measure), and the author writes about these times, which are exceedingly important. If we are to know and love each other, and realize skin color is an illusion, we have to know of our insides, our hurts, our triumphs, frailties and joys. A Life Apart is a compelling story, and it works on many levels. I definitely recommend it. I read this book because I signed up for Blogging for Books, a worthy adventure in itself. Otherwise I might have missed A Life Apart. My life is enriched because of reading this. I think readers will hear more from L. Y. Marlow. She is also author of Color Me Butterfly, which I intend to track down as soon as I finish this review. Kudos to this writer! Thanks again Blogging for Books!

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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”My Mother’s Voice” border=”0″ src=”https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1359982576m/17324149.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice”>My Mother’s Voice</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/614105.Kay_Mouradian”>Kay Mouradian</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/886920404″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
<br>I met Kay Mouradian at a very crowded Author’s Day in Pasadena.  Their first such event.  We all had assigned spots at tables and then were free to wander to meet fellow writers.<br><br>My Mother’s Voice is a profound book and a must read.  Of course, it was a gripper, but perhaps that word shows a paucity of feeling;so many people go through such terrors, abuse, genocide, and in the western World, some of us can become numb to these conditions or simply are unable to read about any kind of suffering.<br><br>Nobility and anonymity are huge themes in my life, and I read about these people, always giving me a higher and higher standard to attain.  Then, become mine.  We have a history laden with heroes and heroines amidst the chaos of a world destined to come of age.<br><br>This is one such book.  My Mother’s Voice.  I haven’t checked amazon, Alibris for it, but its ISBN 978-1-4525-6169-1, Balboa Press, a Division of Hay house. This has received Honorable mention as a documentary and considered Best Documentary at a film festival in Toronto.<br><br>
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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

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Baseball, voices of male announcers speak of spots, and of the Dodgers and Braves – playing in Atlanta. The stage is set, and ennui of memory washes over me, my twelve-year old, wide red sash waisted, self in a red dress with white stars as a skirt, and white with red stars for the top, and a Prince Valiant haircut gone amuck.

I am in that flat land where baseball which brings joy and solace to Bill, my aging pal of a husband, and I am tolerant of his current absorption in the world of sports. On the other hand, this landscape, this flatland, exacerbates my struggle to breathe, to garner energy, to see light on a horizon, and to see beyond dust in the house. It’s not that bad, but I don’t have the physical strength I used to, that is when I didn’t have immune system illness. It seems to me I’ve felt 80 years old more times in my life than I’d like to count, which fact will fill me with laughter later as I remember thinking, where is that post-menopausal zest Margaret Mead talks about?

I teeter on the edge of 75. A twin gone at 68. I’m the last of the – whatevers. I am a woman of intense vibrancy, who sees magenta when others see drab red, who gets high on crusty French rolls slathered with butter, who looks into the eyes of a Pug dog and sees God as Humorist, and finally I am an older woman who has survived a great deal, as we all have.

Eight days of bronchitis find me acknowledging ever so readily that I am inside, under a roof safe, and that the breeze is gentle, but somehow, I feel as if I’ve placed myself on automatic life review, like an old Studebaker repeatedly returning to the carwash to get scrubbed up by those thick foamy brushes again.

Life is not for the faint hearted. My Faith is not for the faint hearted. Repeated rendezvous with brushes in Life’s Car Wash doesn’t strike me as an appropriate ending for any day, any life. But, Reader, at 75 and feeling like edges of dog meat gone bad, I think of endings.

What happens to all those childhood patterns, phobias and fears that one conquers? The bursting out of old patterns, like someone hurtling through the paper star in the circus, which burns small orange flames around its edges if you want to know, and that someone’s an old girl, and that old girl’s been shot out of a canon, yeah that one.

Somehow as I get older I am more aware of the gravel, the small stones in my life, and my too much obsession with minutia of picking them up and wondering, should I have unturned this earlier? At all? Fear of Abandonment.

OMG, seventies phrases guaranteed to enter kachunkas in a Therapist’s cash register, and appear in my Robitussin DM filled brain, competing with titles like keep those Run With Wolves, Cavorts with Angels, but Does the Laundry on Monday, even with a Virus Cold, titles which no longer enchant.

It’s the unknown. There I go again, worrying into the future, nettling, rearranging its furniture in the storehouse of my mind. Will I have a bed, a place to live, and some lentils to suck on? I am not a sole voice, lonely giving wolf calls into the hills. My voice is legion.

Should I write to AARP, and say “Hey what does an old gal do?” None of us want our kids to be burdened with our care, and yet again, I don’t want to end up on a broken-springed bed in a dark corner of a Convalescent Home, breathing through my mouth because of the You Know What smells and smiling at someone, while trembling within – will they be kind?

Vulnerability; I feel skin-inside-out vulnerable. And I also feel an abstract level of myself rising up from a rock, shedding identity after identity: the spunky one, the I’m building my career at 74 one, the sure I can drive you there, the be there for 700 cronies around the world type of thing, the blogger whose too pooped to platform, and who wouldn’t dare try on platform shoes in fear of falling.

You catch my drift dear reader. This is a glimpse of an old gal who normally wants to throw her head back and laugh, who believes in our essential oneness, and who is acutely aware of the swords of greed on this training ground of a planet, our training ground, my training ground.

So I’ll end with that’s it. Close the Word Barn for the day. It helps to be able to voice vulnerability. Thought I didn’t have to do that anymore, but this here aging is going to take courage, and I’m going for it. Shoot the Moon type of thing.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

In view of the recent sufferings and the accompanying feelings of oneness I would like to offer the quote below from the Baha’i Writings, revealed by Baha’u’llah (whose name means the Glory of God) with hopes it will lighten hearts that are heavy. esther

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in…

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

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Bean Town

Boston feels like a sink hole, an asphalt taffy road with unexpected, unplanned for sags, taking the nation down and then up. Our hearts run to each other in times of tragedy, and someone else’s child is ours. We claim him, her.

Boston is in my marrow, even though I left there when they still hadn’t found the Boston Strangler, you know the guy who was murdering old women, and I was renting a room in Belmont, and the other roommate, Miss Bell, was very old.

I waited for the Cuban Crisis to be over, kept huge boxes around in my small vertical room, with tops open. I had ended a relationship and just couldn’t do law firms, relationships, or disregard from relatives anymore.

I had a VW grey Volkswagen convertible, with actual orange, Marx Nixt sticks, which to this day I don’t know how to spell, but I tell you, that car would go 55, and that was it, and by the time I edged out of Buffalo, my second morning, I was glad, because the heater was frozen, and I wouldn’t have made it through a Boston winter.

What’s in me from Boston? Libraries, libraries, libraries. Books, and my autodidactic self which took itself around books alphabetically, until I had read everything every author I fell in love with had written. In high school, as a rebel, I quit checking out books, and just stuffed them under my raincoat, and returned them that way.

Boston had the Charles River and the Harvard Teams crewing, but before that West Roxbury had Billings Field which was flooded in the winter, and my boys’ black hockey skates flew over this field every day. It was a time of Roast Beef in the dining room with the family on Sundays, and weekly meals in the kitchen for just us kids: leftovers on Mondays, Spaghetti on Tuesdays, Wednesdays I don’t know, but it was an era of the same type of meal each day, and our clothes were picked out the night before. School, the Randall G. Morris Elementary School was one block away, and on the first floor almost at the end was my mom’s room, and it felt as if I had a night light, even though we kids couldn’t have mom as a teacher.

I remember the smell of tight, smell of rubber, pink balls which bounced against garage doors with a thwap, and yearly visits to the Constitution, walking down narrow steps to its innards, and I remember visiting the Bunker Hill Monument, reading Johnny Tremain, and everything else for that matter, all stitched inside my soul as “Boston.”

I don’t remember girls having showers in high school, so the concept of running a marathon didn’t hit me until I was in my early 40s, and started running 3 miles a day.
In my era, we witnessed black out curtains, shortages of tobacco, sugar, and we jumped on tin cans, and later fought over who could massage the round orange ball inside the plastic covered white lard package to make margarine. We rooted for Ike, and laughed about having a naked man swing in the trees at the top of the hill where the Water Tower stood, a silent sentry to his bizarre behavior.

Boston’s a town that changed quite a bit; a town where prejudice of skin color and class etched pain in anyone’s heart in the 1950s. In my small patch anyone who wasn’t Catholic and Irish were suspect, except at high school, Roslindale High, and then we kids didn’t draw any type of line around, through, or over friendships

But somehow, maybe because change was in the air, always necessary, and because of books, and unobserved deeds of kindness, I didn’t pick up the alcoholism in the family quilt, and I moved to California, leaving the idea of skin color scorn and judging someone who didn’t speak the King’s English. Los Angeles in the early 60s was bizarre and multifaceted. Still, Boston, was a good place to be from, despite James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr.’s cavorts, and the horrible racism of Louise Day Hicks. I somehow knew change would come when we managed toe holds on the crust of the 60s. So now when I hear of newscasters laud the tightness of solidarity, I wonder. Is that really true?

But I tell you, we are all from Boston, or Newtown, or New York, or Baghdad, or Congo when atrocities hit us or others. The human heart has a way of moving borders. Got to tell the leaders about this. They need to know.

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Did you know there’s a type of bug or spider that runs along in the Iraqi desert along side the figure running, and this spider is vicious and has teeth and will give a deadly bite, but it hides in the shadows. I read a biography of a doctor’s time in Iraq, a time where her husband, a Marine also, stayed home with the twins (toddlers) and her mom and dad came in to do heavy duty grandparent duty. I can’t remember the title of the book, and given the multiplicity of books now emerging, can’t remember. Today, as never before, a plethora of memoir on the war; did I say war, I meant “wars” emerges, and I think all valid. It is time to give voice to a day, a moment, an hour, and those who do will cause me to think and feel, and say, “I’ll not forget.”

The pages are still blank as far as our future history goes. Did we go down that random vortex of unimaginable horror, like living In the Shadow of Angkor, written and edited by a friend Sharon May, and also Frank Stewart, and is a University of Hawaii Press publication?

Today as never before, did I say that? Today as never before, the forces of light and darkness duke it out, and how can one forget moments. Yes, my world is still as small as a canary-yellow and-white-cough-drop-colored paper bag, and a picture of a very fat, curly tailed pug, with stocky front legs resting on a small child’s red chair, but over these images lays a heaviness of what is happening out there; out beyond the insulation of our culture and those who romp and play on a Fantasy Island, like Pinocchio, and mercifully, there is always beauty in the world, and prose of horrors overcome, as in Angkor.

I am reminded of a weekend course on the foundation of education building a world society, and realizing we are in a paradigm shift, and it is uncomfortable, but current educational practices are based on getting all of us through a system as the Industrial Revolution, and that won’t work.

Now is the time for us to enable capacity and connection and authentic perceptions, and spiritual insight. We are children of a half light emerging into a global civilization which must consider that we are coming of age spiritually, and it’s time to throw down all shibboleths (is that a word) of difference and pulsate on hoping our tattered world will win the battle of old egos as in old dinosaurs.

But I am dangerously near preaching or lecturing, and the heart, anyone’s heart will go into heels dug into the ground, don’t push me into a way of thinking, but to end with a remembrance of a day I’ll not forget is to remember 9/11 after the airplanes’ destructive paths, before politicians’ games of power, a blank space, like the action potential of the cell before it hits the synapses, and a blank time where we were cylindrical in our unity and our caring for the other; we seemed to be enwrapped in columns of blue misty caring, and we were one – giving new meaning to prayer as a state of being.

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I sit here on the anniversary of my marriage to my husband who is now 78, and I say to my 74-year-old self, “Self, did you think 27 years ago you’d be sitting here contemplating verbs and old age and giving out sage advice, sage being not only a spice?

I vividly remember our wedding, my dusty pink Laise Adser dress with pastel green nubby cloak with hood, like Meryl Streep wore in the French Lieutenant’s Woman. Bill and I fit like Bogie & Bacall, like bookends of similar but different backgrounds. We remember radio. We were Catholic. We were from the right-hand side of the United States, and we both love pug dogs. Is this the basis of a spiritual relationship? It is.

There’s more this story – how I met him after he had been a Baha’i for two weeks; how I had to go back to being a legal secretary, having left my cubicle four years earlier to return to college; how we had income which was good in the beginning, and how I just before I met him I made the insane decision to buy a radio for my car. We met, we laughed, we matched, and in a dream one night our DNA code swirled around us in figure 8’s. That’s what I call, “It’s a sign.” Yeah, we did a lot of that too.
I made a list of qualities wanted in my unseen mate, and this list fell out of a book a year after we were married. Everything on this long narrow list, “Sensitive, spiritual, humor,” was there – I turned to him waiving the list of scribbled hopes, and said, “I forgot to put tall,” but if so, I wouldn’t have married my husband who is about an inch shorter than I.
It’s been an action packed life. We moved seventeen different times. I had health issues which I’ll speak of at 80 or so. We traveled across Russia, visited Siberia, and lived in Ukraine and Belarus, before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. We also lived with my second mother-in-law who told me one day, “You carry the heavy stuff for him,” and now it is the day of our 27th anniversary.

I sit here with a hiatal hernia, and a suspiciously ingrown toe. I am in my red and black PJs – contemplating words used for aging. Baby Boomers take note. “Use strong verbs – might I suggest “lurch” and “cope.”

My marriage, and a plethora of other happenings, healed me, and now we both face the final frontier. I finally have self-acceptance and self-appreciation, except for an occasional Thursday of black condemning thoughts. It is a time of great inner wisdom and also a time when my body becomes like an old truck spending more time in repair. An ashtray falls out, gets fixed and doors fall off. The unknown is with us every night when our sliding door shuts. Allergies descend upon my husband at every weather change, and it feels like the English Channel roars through my ears, until I turn and rub his back to his snuff, snuff, cough, cough away. I am like someone spraying the end of the contents of the Raid Can.

Again it is also surviving a twin’s passing first if you want to know, and it’s being grateful for skin that looks young thanks to a friend’s gift of Clarins. It’s having a pool house with very low rent and landlord kindness. It was having heart and gall bladder surgery within days of each other and surgeons writing off their fees, but not telling me. It’s standing up to my last breath for the oneness of humankind, and always helping someone every day. It’s living beyond the fringe and not having 401K’s and not giving a rat’s ass, but rather living in a quirky world where status is a blind removed from my mind knowing wealth follows poverty and poverty follows wealth , and I think of the quote, “ O Children of Dust – Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor …” and even when my cash flow is minimal, I listen.

It’s having lingering fears in a dark hour at night, when I get up to pee and hope when I am very old, I will not be a burden, and I don’t want my family to take care of me, because I’ve lived with two mother-in-laws. It doesn’t work very well.

It’s every day having something slow me down, feeling crappola, but then again getting up, like a Russian Matroishka doll who bops up repeatedly after falling, and like a Russian Woman who is strong, and other women also, it’s seeing the beauty in so many faces, and loving the nobility among the anonymous. It’s having two themes fascinate me – man’s humanity to man and man’s inhumanity to man. I don’t mind dying, it’s the getting there, and I want to have integrity and nobility. So far I’ve managed to have dignity in the extreme times of my life, but one never knows his or her ending. It’s also having great kids, family, grandchildren and friends.

It’s living with more soul than body, and not ganging up on myself for having a peanut butter sandwich every morning for breakfast, and drinking lemonade, a good kidney stone prevention. It’s always turned towards something greater, a Divine Presence, and yet being willing to throw my whole being over a cliff for the wellbeing of the world.. It’s always learning, always seeing the wisdom in all things, no longer have shoulders tense up about every issue on earth.

Moderation to some degree has come to me. Trust, like surfing the opaque waves, is there also, but I have to guard this feeling until my last breath, and maybe one silent no breath. It is a life of purpose and humility with a whispered hope that I’ve left the world a little brighter.

I just spent one hour trying to get a Wordle on to my blog, my next adventure.
AM GOING WORD FISHING THROUGH DECEMBER 12, and have to wean myself off Facebook, my Blog, others blogs. I’m teaching 4 classes at moment; subject to change. I started a novel during Nano Wrimo month, and an opportunity to work on it further calls me. I’ll miss everyone, but it has to be done.

<Wordfishing at the Casbar, Old Town words, rainer maria rilke, pug dogs, Boston, whitey bulgher, lost loves, cubicle despair, the many lives of Baby Cakes Nelson, life reviews, Ross Dress For Less, destiny smeshtiny, let go, unemployed, Bubba, Bumpa, pug dogs, forces of light and darkness, 4 pound baby, oneness, being a Virgo, twin, pain, health, relationships, aaargh relationships, hot tears, successful candidates, prey, cabby hats, FISHINGFORWORDS

gotta get to this

Stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com-Thank you Steven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He  gave out Reader Appreciation Awards to 7 people – My blog was one of them!

I Googled the award today, looking for the bright sunflower, and didn’t find its source. So Reader, this is what I think it is.  We bloggers, who run across out computer keys at night when the earth sleeps, play word games in the velvet ether of the night, toss out sorrows, hug happiness, create metaphoric mountains and potholes, and all the while race towards the world and each other in a prepublishing, I’m going to publish this tomorrow on WordPress!  We all fall into this category.  We who blog.  Those who read blogs.  Both, all, none, many.

The rules of the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog – check center photo above.  Ta da!!

2. Answer 10 questions (listed below) for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 6 or 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy

4.  Provide the links to these blogs and let them know they’ve been nominated

5.  Provide a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you —- http://stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com

10 Questions and my answers for the Reader Appreciation Award

1.  What is your favorite color?

The color of the current book I am reading, or the wine colored cover of Gleanings, Baha’i Writings.

2. What is your favorite animal – no need for me to answer; everyone who reads this post will roar back.  Pug Dogs.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Lemonade, don’t drink Alcohol

4.  Facebook or Twitter

FB, my home away from home, the entrace to the train station called my life!

5.  Favorite patterns?

Pattern of oneness and connectedness in relations throughout the globe.

6.  Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Giving, giving.

7.  Favorite number?

Nine (9)

8.  Favorite day of  the week?

Wednesday

9.  Favorite flower?

Purple Iris

10.  What is your passion?

Giving people opportunities to discover and/or develop their voice – teaching creative writing.

My 8 nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award:

http://normanpickles.blogspot.com/  – Pugs, pugs, and more pugs.  Enchanting when the heart is orphaned      and one’s physical space not allowed this type of 4 legged package of      entitlement.

http://pagesforsmallwages.wordpress.com/  Gwendolyn McIntyre – perceptions on      writing, life, things that go bump, keep the writer going!

http://www.bahaithought.com   Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, “Baha’i Thought” which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/,      mrslittlejeans is a scientist and offers enchanting views of her two      felines, photographs of same, and a sharing of mystic perceptions.

http://writingasasacredpath.blogspot.com/   Jill Jepson – I have her book, the back cover of which reads in part, “Discover the Soul of Writing,” writing medications, prompts, rituals, exercises all drawn from traditions of Buddhist monks, Navajo storytellers, and much more.

.http://www.studiomorran.com/  Studio Morran, dogs, crafts, art, visual whimsy!

http://gerrygwilson.com/about/  A published writer, writing teacher of note, an encourager to all

http://whimsygizmo.wordpress.com/  prolific poet, enchantress with words …

http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/  metaphors and smiles – enchanting poetry-Hannah Gosselin

http://swthink.blogspot.com/  so whatcha think  – Brooke Ryter – a book, an impact, soon to be revealed – check it out.

http://arachnoidcystsupport.blogspot.com 

Maria McCutchen has written a book, It’s All in Your Head, and I think her story should be widely read.  I’ll show image. I got my book at Alibris, an online bookstore, which sometimes has prices less than Amazon.  At any price, this is an important book.

http://lublenok.blogspot.com/  Leonid’s World  is the name of his blog.  We met him inMinsk when we gave English Club sessions.  He’s fascinating, innovative, and dear, and he speaks of past history and his family.

Love and best wishes to all.

Wednesday Mel posted a blog by me, and I was the guest blogger.  Today and a few days ago, this blog went out with Mel as my guest bloggerhttp://melwalshjones.wordpress.com/tag/guest-blog/

Reader, junior learner here.  Baby Lois Lane.  Blogger in apprentice is reblogging this very same post, because I get the feeling, people think I, esther, aka sorrygnat, wrote this blog of Mel’s.  Hmmm I wish.  Mel is an accomplished writer, and yes we are bookends this week and yes, she’s from Boston, and yes, she teaches writing, but her influence is much broader than mine.  I bow to her good writing.  So, here t’is, so Mel gets the credit.!

 

P.S. we  all met on the I Am Not Bob April Challenge, a generous and life changing encounter with writers. 

 

 

Mel Jones is a native Bostonian. She grew up on the Irish Riviera –The South Shore.

As a child, she spent many hours sitting in trees reading books and writing poems. She had her own newspaper column at fifteen and was determined that she would be the next Shakespeare or Tolkien. She was educated at The College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Antioch University, Los   Angeles. She holds degrees in History, English, Rhetoric, Literature, and Creative Writing (Nonfiction). Yes, she is overeducated. 

She has done extensive genealogical research both for her own family tree and professionally

 Mel edited a now defunct literary journal, The Sylvan Echo. She’s taught children from kindergarten through college in a variety of public and private settings.  She currently teaches College-level Composition. Mel is the founder of The Midlothian Writers’ Workshop.  She offers a variety of services for writers, including retreats.

Publications include, a book of poetry, Between the Lines (2005), and essays in The William & Mary Gallery, Sherwood Forest,and online at Little Seal and r.k.vr.y. She recently had an epiphany, if she sent her work out more, she would be published more. She’s working on that. She maintains a sometimes snarky blog, Mel’s Madness, which is more Erma Bombeck than William Shakespeare. Mel lives and writes on a small leisure farm west of Richmond, Virginia with her partner, parrots, and progeny.

Country Sunday Drive.

This morning I had to run to the store. Now for those of you who live in the real world that entails a 1/2 mile, maybe a mile’s drive. But not here. It’s eight miles to the local grocery store (national chains like Food Lion or Kroger are longer drives).

I pulled out of my driveway—watching carefully—because I live in a curve. My up-the-hill-neighbors apparently forgot that at some point last night; their cute little blue rag-top was sprawled in the ditch in front of their house. It took out the little green phone box. I knew my internet would be down. City folks! They moved here because they wanted “life in the county.” That’s what they told me in the one conversation we had over the old rusted barbed wire fence that separates our two properties. I’ll bet they have had more country than they can stand at this point. At least that’s how it looked as I drove by the stranded car.

I briefly wondered if they had swerved to avoid some sort of animal. I did that once. I slammed on the brakes when a rabbit hopped out in front of me. It was the first country lesson that I learned: do not slam on your breaks on a dirt road. Bad things happen. The rabbit hopped away, fine.

I totaled the car.

Anyway, I made my way up my windy road without incident. I stopped at the red light that annoys the locals so badly, Damned city folk! Who needs lights? All anyone’s gotta do is look both ways! That’s what the old folks said. It was a big deal when they put that light in; the county has six traffic lights now. Down right depressing.

I picked up the things I needed and started my trek back.

Now one would think this too would be uneventful. Au contraire. Once I turned at the traffic light back onto the road that leads home I had to stop to let the groundhog pass. I sighed. Then I had to stop and let the Sunday riders on their quarter horses pass, and then there were deer. I watched as two hawks swooped into a field for breakfast. They were successful. I was beginning to think, aaahhhh, were it not for the traffic light, this could be heaven.

But then I came around the curve. And there he was. A Black Angus bull in the road. In the road my poor little Mercury Sable was driving on. I was sure my car would lose a battle with him. I was sure I would just piss him off. And then I would have to get out of my car and face him. What was I to do? There was no cell service on that part of the road, not that I would know who to call about a bull in the road anyway.

I confess, my first thought when I saw the massive blackness in the road was that perhaps it was, I dunno, not real. It was a shadow or something. Maybe this one was of those flashbacks I had been warned about. But then, he snorted at me, just like in the cartoons with his flared nostrils steaming.

I slammed on my brakes. Thankfully this road was paved.

I have lived here for twenty years, but I have never encountered a raging bull in the road before. I’ve seen them in fields – safely behind electrified fences. I’ve seen farmers scurrying away—running for their lives. Once I even watched as the county deputies were chased out of a field. They were tracking a runaway. A bull snorted at them while he pawed the ground. They ran: deputies and blood hounds. The Bull treed the runaway, who was grateful when the farmer brought feed for his herd. One has little recourse with a bull.

I beeped my horn.

He snorted. Round one to the bull.

I inched forward.

So did he. Round two to the bull.

By now there were three or four vehicles stopped in each direction. No one wanted to play chicken with a bull. Several young men in fancy pick-ups were collectively shaking in their boots in the northbound lane.

Then, just as we were all beginning to feel a little bit desperate there in the morning sun, a little old man in a woody-style station wagon came along, got out of his car and hollered at the bull, “Get the hell off of the road! I’m a-gonna be late for church God damn it!” He took off his hat and swished it at said bull. Then punched him in the nose.

The bull skulked away. Round three to the old man.

My neighbor’s car was still in the ditch and my other neighbor’s pigs were scouting it out—they were inside the car and nosing around in the front seat. Pigs are curious animals. The neighbor should have put the windows up. Maybe the bull had been in the road when my neighbors were coming home last night and they too thought he couldn’t be real. I don’t know. But it would be less than a month before that farmhouse came up for rent again.

an odyseey harrowing and yet incredible

a journey of illness, misdiagnosis, conundrums and courage

Maria McCutchen, a stay-at-home mother with two young children and a tight schedule, couldn’t find the dairy section of her local supermarket one day.  After the usual questions women ask themselves, about stress, being over tired, or I’m imagining this, she asked her husband one night, “Squeeze my head,” and he does.

Her head ached, and her head also felt like a water balloon pumped full of water, a sense of building pressure.  He wrapped his hands around her head, and he squeezed.  Her thoughts became more clear, and she felt better.  He stopped and a feeling of flood water filled her skull, and her brain fog returned.

She consulted a mild, quiet and pleasant doctor.  He will be the first of many.  She answered the questions, and then follows a routine she will learn by heart:  “Stick your tongue out, smile, hold your hands out in front of you like you’re carrying a pizza and close your eyes.”  Ah, and she also walked across the floor of his miniscule office. Long story short, after an MRI, and a call the very next day, “We see something,” the doctor’s voice matter-of-fact, offering no more or no less says, “I need you to come in.”

She had a cisterna magna, a posterior fossa arachnoid cyst. But the doctor was not concerned, words such as “benign” and “unremarkable” floated over her head.  Moments later, a handshake, and a “You’re fine,” because you see most people are born with type of cyst and they don’t cause problems.  She returned home wondering, what if I’m the exception?  No time for that.  Her husband lost his job.  Their insurance will run out.

Fast forward to  a harrowing pain-filled drive to live in New Mexico, episodic endurance of brain tests done incorrectly, dismissal of her symptoms, suspicion by doctors and blatant repudiation of her illness.  Lace that in with family concern, trying to raise 2 kids, keep a family together, and obliterating pain, agony, nausea, you name it, but then, she finally finds a doctor in Arizona.  He will recommend brain surgery.  the tests before, during and after are trauma filled and painful, and there will be trouble in River City after her brain surgery.  But still she reassured herself that she’s in the hands of a good neurosurgeon specialist in neurology in Arizona.  She must, however, return to New Mexico.  More happened.

I sat down after 7 o’clock last night to read this book.  I got up at 12.30 noting, “I’m up too late again,” but I had finished the book.  I didn’t move.  I sat on my black leather couch in our small pool house turning page after page.

The unsaid around her struggles reveals a very courageous, loving, gutsy woman in extreme pain, with great times of hopeless and yet a warrior spirit.  That makes a noble being in my book.

Her account is well written.  I think this book should go viral.  Yeah, I just broadened my blog base, and here I am using trendy terms, go viral, but the bloggers and FBers out there will know.

It’s All in Your Head – Maria McCutchen.  Copyright (c), Tate Publishing, LLC.

http://www.creativewritenow.com

280 pages – $15.99 (paperback)
$9.99 (digital download)

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

Five weeks ago I had a steady Sorry Gnat blog following of about 7 people.  People know me a bit around the City of Pasadena.  A few months ago my Irish Mug was on the cover of Pasadena Weekly, because I teach writing at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, a workshop for volunteers, homeless women, and women in transition.

I also teach a couple of other  writing workshops in the Pasadena- mainly at the La Pintoresca Branch, and conduct a small one, for donation only, in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, the most fantastic and aesthetically snappy fair trade store, located on Lake and California.

I felt stagnated by my inadequacies with my blog.  I had a major friend who has helped me a lot.  The fabulous Mizz V – shrunk my SorryGnat banner, twiddled and twaddled comments and headings appropriately, but she got a job, and I ordered 10-12 books from the library on Blogging.

I need to stretch I thought.  This is how I get creative thoughts.  They nudge me or pop up when my nose is halfway down my first cup of coffee in the morning.  Along came #@MNINB, and I was a hashtag apprentice, a Linkedin Babe, a Twitter type of gal.  I’m already on FB with people from around the world.  It helps to travel and live in other countries.

A few weeks ago someone sent The Versatile Blogger award, and I have still to figure out how to affix it to a margin type area so it hangs out in the neighborhoods of facts and figures about this writer who’s up there in age, but has the writing voice of a 35-year old.

This week, of which Monday seems a 100 years ago, 2 of the #MNINB recommended me for a Liebster because for the month of  April MNINB challenge a goodly amount of writers scattered from Massachusetts to Malta (not really) connected, with a spirit of oepn welcome and we cheer each other on.

So thank you to  Susan Craig, http://bysusancraig.wordpress.com/ .  She’s a scientist with a background in neurobiology, and studied effect of Alzheimer’s disease proteins on brain cells for over 10 years.  She currently teaches college biology.  Her favorite thing to do is write books about strong, smart women and men who love and appreciate them.  Her blog reveals true stories, science material, fiction, inspiration, and you name it.  Lucky us.  Lucky me, I subscribe to her blog.

And also, another blogger nominated me during the same week of 100 years:

Thank you Kristi Carver, http://kristicarver.blogspot.com/2012/05/  Kristi is a writer, small business owner, and Registered Nurse.  My twin was a Registered Nurse, and believe you me, I felt safe with her in my life. Thanks Kristi.  When you visit her blog, you fall into a heavenly photo of a lake in Colorado, and all tension slips away.  Colorado beauty, plus aspiring author, who is a blueberry fanatic, wine enthusiast, and constant reader, and a memoir addict.  Be still my heart.

Now, I pay it forward and nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, and let these nominees know they’ve come under the Liebster shadow by leaving a comment on on of their posts.  I added the Liebster image, so I’m okay ont hat.

My nominees are:

http://kofeart.wordpress.com/category/doodles/ – what can I say? When the world gets too lurchy, self-absorb, insane, I click on Kofeart’s site and her art enchants me.  I hope you like it too!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com/ I don’t know if he has 1,000 followers, but he was one of my original 7 devotees, and he’s special in my blogger’s heart; funny, current, aware, and enchanting.

 The blog & the book – are by Paul Waters from Northern Ireland, writes, makes radio & telly shows, blogs and footer about with social media. Get in touch if you’d like me to do it for you, either here or at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com .  It’s not a kangaroo, it’s a horse’s head, which might be from The Godfather. The pith helmet however, definitely used to sit on the head of Spike Milligan.

http://krpooler.com/feed/ (Memoir Writers Blog)I need all the information on Memoirs.  I don’t know if she’s widely blogged, so I added her, because I learn from people like this blogger.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html – okay, okay, the blog is about depression – but to a writer, artist, or whatever creative type, depression is a fantastic topic, and I am sure she heals herself by her work.  Her images are enchanting.  I adore her post.  What can I say, check it out!

http://swpulley.wordpress.com/ – Artist, writer, traveler, whimsy, E.B.-White-wit goes outer space, early member of CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters.com, incredible friend, encourager, and lives next town over.  His Uneasy Rider posts are terrific.  He’s the reason why I write better than I used to after my first book, and why I published (he helped-bless his saintly soul) You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and is just all in all an enchanting wit and fried of both myself and Bill and so many others.

So that’s it. Now they check out The Liebster Award, and sally forth.  Gratitude to all who labor! Smile.

La Pintoresca Library, April 17, 2010

Esther Bradley-DeTally –

(“Everyone has talent.  What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.”  Erica Jong

Finding your voice isn’t looking at the dust balls under the bed to see if you coughed up anything in the dark.  Finding your voice is suiting up and showing up to write about the here and now and to meet other people who have written, not written, or may write.  You will increase your breadth and depth of what you know about yourself, i.e., give written form to the line drawings of life.  Do we know the maps of our hearts?  The Courage to Write offers a way to strip the layers of social niceties, to dig deeply and find the authentic within.

There is no “constructive criticism” within the class, but rather a listening and honoring of each person’s contribution.  For the beginning, we will write in first person, the “I” and it’s a write like you talk.  Are you doomed to write that way the rest of your life?  No.  But this is home base or home on the computer for the writ.  Journaling in the here and now brings forth new vistas!  I will refer to books about writing and teachers of writing whenever possible.  I won’t hesitate to recommend people and books.

WHADDA WE GOING TO DO:  We are going to go through a process, which will take you through various modes of writing.  When I took Teach Writing the Natural Way at Irvine, we learned to mix details, descriptions, dialogue, and academic writing.  Writing is very much like mixing a soup.

People, places I highly admire who have taught me are: Jack Grapes:  the Pied Piper of bringing out the voice, whose workshops are in Los Angeles.  Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones, the writing process book you need for the desert island experience; UCLA Writing Extension Courses; Deena Metzger, Writing for Your Life, and a gazillion more.  Any writing teacher’s task (and joy) is to take the writer as far as he/she can go. “This is supposed to be fun,” my UCLA writing instructor, who looked like a maple syrup ad, told a group of us clenched-teeth, stomach-burning students one night.  And you know, it is; so relax and let’s enjoy.