The Gift That Keeps Giving

My oldest daughter Bonnie, gifted me a Storyworth book in the spring of 2021, which is a series of questions picked out by my grown kids that is turned into a book after a year’s worth of weekly questions. This book will be given to myself, and my four kids, and it is a wonderful, thoughtful, gift.

Little did I know how much of my past this exercise would dredge up – both good and bad. And little did she know it would pull out some interesting conversations between us all. But it’s also been a very cool journey…a way of reminding me how far I’ve come, and maybe bringing to mind issues that even now need to be addressed. It’s crazy though, that since I’m a writer, I can’t just jot an answer down and let it go. My daughter asked recently about how many I’d completed, and I had to admit I hadn’t done it every week as the questions came, I kind of picked the ones I thought would be more interesting and worked on those, but also…I have to edit and ponder these answers. Then find pictures to go along with them. Perhaps go back and edit again. It takes me a while, for sure!

My daughter rolled her eyes and laughed. But as I think about this, and that maybe I should be more quick about it, I realize that for many of these questions there IS no short response. These are major life events we’re talking about that happened maybe thirty or forty years ago, and they aren’t simple to remember, or to unpack now. Once this book is published, it’s out for perpetuity, right? In the hands of my kids and passed down for generations. It is definitely a daunting prospect and I don’t want to be cavalier about it, and I DO want to be truthful, which has caused a few raised eyebrows and objections from my kids.

And there it is. Now I have to think about the weighty subject of ‘how much of the truth is really necessary to share’ and ‘where IS the truth and does it really matter?’ and all that. Big sigh. Nope I can’t just jot down a memory and let it go, because all of it had and still has meaning and heft and motivations and consequences. I must turn it over, examine it, and mold it into some kind of life lesson.

Much to my kids’ everlasting despair.

I have to admit, I find the whole process very entertaining.

Summer Nights

I remember when a summer night was an excuse to get out of the house, find the nearest outdoor bar with ambiance (or not), drink Long Island Tea or Screwdrivers or Scotch & Soda with a twist…or whatever. It was party, party, all the time! And somehow, the next morning, I made it to work, and did a fairly good job managing the hangover.

Now I look back, scratching my head. How on earth did I do that?

I was in my twenties. That’s how.

In my thirties, I started having babies. And divorces. My thirties were a blur of joy and crisis, so I can’t even remember much of them. Summer nights meant getting the kids to bed, the bills paid, the house clean, and still having energy left over to read before bed. This was my recipe for a great summer night in my thirties!

My beautiful kids circa 2003

In my forties, I began to gain a semblance of sanity. And my kids became teen-agers. At this point, I began to drink wine, exclusively. No more cute, little, designer drinks that looked good but made me throw up. Wine, I could control. Summer nights amounted to a few lake weekends with girlfriends, and marathon talks with teen-agers, trying to instill common sense into all those hormones. Ha! Ha! What a futile task. But I did my best, and a great summer night was a relaxed discussion on the deck with one or two of my teen-agers.

In my fifties, I had the best time ever. My kids were grown and gone or going; I discovered online dating, I had a great job, I’d learned to recognize and avoid toxic relationships. My summer nights were spent on my backyard deck, drinking good wine (by this time I’d become somewhat fluent), and having marathon conversations with other single moms about kids, men, and, well…mostly, men. How to tell the right ones from the wrong ones, which sounds simple, but isn’t.

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Thoughts of Malice…the Virtual Version

I just want to be grateful for a hot minute.

I’ve been writing a long time, and it’s an isolating affair, and often writers feel like they are writing into voids of rejection and futility.

Level Best Books, my current publisher, is not about to let that happen to their authors! Case in point: More than Malice, my publisher’s answer to the pandemic-exhausted populace. Instead of postponing the typical Malice Domestic Writers conference, which they’ve been involved with for twenty years; they pulled out all the stops and produced a virtual conference that defied the odds, and had a lot of fun doing it. (Well, in addition to the blood, sweat, and tears of the learning curve and all the technological nuances and stumbling blocks). Now up to 90-something authors, give or take, Level Best Books is growing! And they still try to make sure every author is given attention in some shape or form, on this wonderful but terrifying journey called publishing.

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