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Archive for February, 2013

Stoicism is seriously overrated.

My role model growing up did what she had to do. It didn’t matter how she felt about it. She just did it, day in and day out, no matter how she felt.

That, in turn, is how I have been. It doesn’t matter how I feel about most things. What’s important is that I do what I can, as often as I can, to the best of my ability.

Recently I’m discovering there are shortcomings to this approach–like, for example, that even the people closest to me can’t tell when I’m suffering. I’m being retrained to use my words not only for grandiose sentiments such as appear in blogs, but for little important ones like, “I’m overwhelmed.”

Good things: Learning anew to trust my instincts. Getting healthier. Looking forward to posting next Wednesday’s interview with the fantastic Reina Salt. Having 1,294 entries in my almost ended book giveaway. Learning to use my words for new kinds of expression, thanks to gentle encouragement and love, and the lovingly spoken words that inspired this post:

“Honey, you are allowed to be grumpy. You are allowed to be sad. What you are no longer allowed to be is stoic. Be a big gay man at a horror movie. Wear your heart on your sleeve. You know what I’m talking about. ‘No, girl, don’t you run in that alley!'”

Stretching toward light

Stretching toward light

Enough about me

My new doctor interrupted me just as tears began gathering in my eyes.

“Good timing,” I told her, stifling sniffles. “I was just about to get to a really sad part of this book, The End of Your Life Book Club.” I gave her a brief synopsis of the non-fiction book, in which a son writes about the informal book club he and his mom shared during the last two years of her life.

“Hmm,” she replied, before asking how I was doing.

Twenty minutes later, I thanked her profusely. “I just can’t tell you how thankful I am for you. I mean, where would I start?”

She smiled. “I’m in this line of work because I want to help heal people.”

I thought of our meeting as I trekked out to my car, but I was too ravenous to think very clearly. I downed some much needed protein and iron in a Del Taco parking lot before beginning my forty-minute drive back home. I flipped on the radio and was immediately catapulted back in time by the opening notes of a beloved song. Read more…

“Am I in heaven already?”: On hospice and harpists

“Hey, Mom. Guess what? I’m coming into town.” Rachael just told me you’re dying, so if I don’t come now, I’ll never get to see you again.

“Oh, that’s nice, honey. Will you stay with me?”

“Sure I will, Mom. Sure I will.” Because I hate that house, but this is it. My moments to be with you are dwindling.

“Okay, then. I’ll see you soon.”

I knew the days ahead would be hard, but I had no idea just how hard. I had no idea I’d soon call hospice, crying as I said, “I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do.”

The nurse who spoke with me understood my mom’s less than fond feelings about hospice, but her concern shifted to alarm as I described the specifics of the terrifying situation in progress. “We have to find a way to help you. We just have to. I’ll call you back soon.” Read more…

Categories: Death, Music, Personal Tags: , , , , , ,

otherlove

On February 6, 2010, I learned my mom was going to die—not in an abstract, non-immediate way, but in the very near future.

Whether I mark the date consciously or not, my mood shifts yearly in early February, as I remember what it was like to discover I would be saying goodbye soon. Too soon.

sexy mama fiancee

Today I had Valentine’s Day lunch with my fiancee and his mom. The restaurant’s playlist was one my mom could have chosen herself.

I felt her near, but not in a mournful way. Rather, I felt her near in all the love: Read more…

Interviewing author E.L. Farris

My dear friend E.L. Farris has recently published her first novel, Ripple:

ripple coverWhen high-powered attorney Helen Thompson discovers that her fifteen-year old daughter has been sexually assaulted, she takes drastic measures.

Finding herself in trouble, Helen must relinquish control and put her faith in a process she knows to be flawed. As a team of lawyers, therapists and women from a safe house help Helen and Phoebe find hope and healing, a sociopath lurks, waiting for his moment to strike.

A lyrical, dark fairytale that will resonate with fans of women’s literature and psychological thrillers, Ripple delves into the nature of evil, without seeking to provide final answers to the issue of what makes a human commit evil acts. And while the author takes readers to scary places, she ultimately shines a light on the human condition and celebrates the triumph of the human spirit in the face of great tribulation.

I enjoyed Ripple tremendously, and for many reasons. Top among those reasons were the strong, compassionate, very dissimilar women who filled its pages. I have read many popular novels recently in which the protagonists were drafted “empty,” the better to enable readers to insert themselves into the story as the protagonist.

Those empty characters really wig me out. I want to read stories, like E.L.’s, whose characters would be excellent coffee shop companions. I don’t necessarily have to like each of them all the time, but I must always have something to learn or laugh about with them. E.L.’s characters weren’t just real people but real friends to me by the time I read Ripple‘s final pages with a smile on my face.

I am hopeful that these women will inspire some of Ripple‘s readers to find like women in their own lives, and to find the courage to leave abusive situations, knowing there really is help available. The journey to a safer life needn’t be made alone.

E.L. has taken a few minutes out to answer some questions I had for her about Ripple, writing and life. I hope you’ll read them and consider buying your own copy of her compelling first novel.

Have you always been a writer, or did your word-lust begin later? Read more…

My mom, my Thunder Thighs, my forever superhero

Today I got something remarkable in the mail.

I knew it was coming. I’d commissioned it, after all.

And yet, there is a difference between envisioning something in the abstract and seeing it with my own eyes, which are currently full of tears.

There were few traditions in my household growing up, unless you count my mom’s antiquing and Dumpster diving. One tradition I could count on was periodic weekend walks to the comic book store, where my mom would set my siblings and me free with a dollar apiece. She’d buy the comics that interested her, while we’d rummage through the ten-cent comic bins for our personal favorites. Mine were horror episodics, a la Creepshow, as well as Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld and Superman.

In law school, I got my sister the full set of Amethyst comics as a birthday present. I hadn’t had much cause to think of that, or the comics themselves, until a couple of weeks ago. I’d walked into an antique shop in search of a dresser. There were no dressers available, but I did find excellent conversation with the store’s owner, who reminded me so very much of my mom I felt as if she were standing just behind me, too intent in her own rummaging to chit-chat.

Another prospective customer came in and interrupted our discussion with a question. I examined the jewelry in a nearby case for a moment; when I looked up, my eyes landed directly on comic  book magic: Amethyst and Superman in the same comic!

I coughed up $10 and decided that, for that single afternoon, I believed in signs.

amethyst

I still haven’t read that comic. It’s not important that I read it, just that it exists. It reminds me of my favorite times with my mom, my Thunder Thighs, my forever superhero.

Every time my eyes landed on that magical crossover comic, I thought of another piece of comic art I was waiting for. I’d commissioned extremely talented, conscientious comic artist and friend Sina Grace to draw a piece borne from my blog “Becoming a Superhero.”

Because my mom’s life was so full of strife, I struggled to figure out how to do her memory justice. How could I help other people see her not as just a crazy bird lady but as the source of my own love, hope and wonder, not through accident but through emulation? How could I remember her that way, recalling not only her life’s many tragedies but also its victories?

“Becoming a Superhero” was the turning point for me. It was my answer. As long as I remembered Thunder Thighs, I was remembering my mom–my real mom, not not-Mom, the way she’d want to be remembered.

And as long as I not only remember but live the best parts of her, her love and laughter endure.

At some point I decided I wanted not just words but an image to serve as my reminder to remember my mom and use the remembering well.

I described to Sina what I envisioned, though that envisioning was in blurs and blobs. He asked bunches of questions and set to work, sending me a “blueline” (or very preliminary sketch) a few days ago to make sure he was on the right track. I loved it, and I said so. I was prepared to be enchanted by the final product, but again, I couldn’t really imagine what that enchantment would feel like.

Today I received a snapshot of the final image. I laughed and cried all at once, enveloped in the rush of remembered comic book shop visits, Thunder Thighs adventures, and the imagined forays of Dark Moon and Silver Star. My mom would love the image. I sure do.

The print one will be in my hands in a week or two’s time, but what’s important now is that it’s in my heart. Right there with my mom, my Thunder Thighs, my forever superhero.

thunder thighs sg

A reader’s expectations, or: “None romance! NONE!”

Beloved readers,

The Monster’s Daughter is not paranormal romance.

Until yesterday, I failed to understand why people would buy my first novel expecting romance. After all, nothing in the title, cover, nor description hints at romance. See the description:

Ginny Connors doesn’t believe in vampires. There’s totally a rational reason her dad is a lot more bloodthirsty and a lot less interested in food than he used to be. Still, she hangs a cross on her bedroom door. Just in case. 

When Ginny discovers people aren’t the guests but the main course at her father’s New Year party, she wishes she could save the day with garlic pancakes. Instead, she must face the limits of her daydreams, and attempt to stop the monster her father has become.

Vampires: check. Dads: check. Daydreams: check. All present. Romance, though? Romantic love? Smoochie-face? Gaga-eyes? Infatuation? These guys had other places to be. Read more…

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