Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Girl Who Writes....

I wish with all my heart that I knew who I could attribute this to, but alas, I do not.  I've linked the source at the bottom.  I don't know if some of you remember, but not too long ago, there was an essay going around by Rosemarie Urquico entitled 'Date a Girl Who Reads' that I posted on my blog in late 2011.  I just came across this one tonight.

She succinctly puts how I feel about writing (although, I am happily married) and what it's like to grow up being 'the girl who writes...'

Date a girl who writes.

Date a girl who may never wear completely clean clothes, because of coffee stains and ink spills. She’ll have many problems with her closet space, and her laptop is never boring because there are so many words, so many worlds that she’s cluttered amidst the space. Tabs open filled with obscure and popular music. Interesting factoids about Catherine the Great, and the immortality of jellyfish. Laugh it off when she tells you that she forgot to clean her room, that her clothes are lost among the binders so it’ll take her longer to get ready, that her shoes hidden under the mountain of broken Bic pens and the refurbished laptop that she’s saved for ever since she was twelve. 
Kiss her under the lamppost, when it’s raining. Tell her your definition of love.
Find a girl who writes. You’ll know that she has a sense of humor, a sense of empathy and kindness, and that she will dream up worlds, universes for you. She’s the one with the faintest of shadows underneath her eyelids, the one who smells of coffee and Coca-cola and jasmine green tea. You see that girl hunched over a notebook. That’s the writer. With her fingers occasionally smudged with charcoal, with ink that will travel onto your hands when you interlock your fingers with her’s. She will never stop, churning out adventures, of traitors and heroes. Darkness and light. Fear and love. That’s the writer. She can never resist filling a blank page with words, whatever the color of the page is.
She’s the girl reading while waiting for her coffee and tea. She’s the quiet girl with her music turned up loud (or impossibly quiet), separating the two of you by an ocean of crescendos and decrescendos as she’s thinking of the perfect words. If you take a peek at her cup, the tea or coffee’s already cold. She’s already forgotten it.
Use a pick-up line with her if she doesn’t look too busy.
If she raises her head, offer to buy her another cup of coffee. Or of tea. She’ll repay you with stories. If she closes her laptop, give her your critique of Tolstoy, and your best theories of Hannibal and the Crossing. Tell her your characters, your dreams, and ask if she gotten through her first novel.
It is hard to date a girl who writes. But be patient with her. Give her books for her birthday, pretty notebooks for Christmas and for anniversaries, moleskins and bookmarks and many, many books. Give her the gift of words, for writers are talkative people, and they are verbose in their thanks. Let her know that you’re behind her every step of the way, for the lines between fiction and reality are fluid.
She’ll give you a chance.
Don’t lie to her. She’ll understand the syntax behind your words. She’ll be disappointed by your lies, but a girl who writes will understand. She’ll understand that sometimes even the greatest heroes fail, and that happy endings take time, both in fiction and reality. She’s realistic. A girl who writes isn’t impatient; she will understand your flaws. She will cherish them, because a girl who writes will understand plot. She’ll understand that endings happen for better or for worst.
A girl who writes will not expect perfection from you. Her narratives are rich, her characters are multifaceted because of interesting flaws. She’ll understand that a good book does not have perfect characters; villains and tragic flaws are the salt of books. She’ll understand trouble, because it spices up her story. No author wants an invincible hero; the girl who writes will understand that you are only human.
Be her compatriot, be her darling, her love, her dream, her world.
If you find a girl who writes, keep her close. If you find her at two AM, typing furiously, the neon gaze of the light illuminating her furrowed forehead, place a blanket gently on her so that she does not catch a chill. Make her a pot of tea, and sit with her. You may lose her to her world for a few moments, but she will come back to you, brimming with treasure. You will believe in her every single time, the two of you illuminated only by the computer screen, but invincible in the darkness.
She is your Shahrazad. When you are afraid of the dark, she will guide you, her words turning into lanterns, turning into lights and stars and candles that will guide you through your darkest times. She’ll be the one to save you.
She’ll whisk you away on a hot air balloon, and you will be smitten with her. She’s mischievous, frisky, yet she’s quiet and when she has to kill off a lovely character, when she cries, hold her and tell her that it will be alright. 
You will propose to her. Maybe on a boat in the ocean, maybe in a little cottage in the Appalachian Mountains. Maybe in New York City. Maybe Chicago. Baltimore. Maybe outside her publisher’s office. Because she’s radiant, wherever she goes. Maybe even outside of a cinema where the two of you kiss in the rain. She’ll say that it is overused and clichéd, but the glint in her eyes will tell you that she appreciates it all the same.
You will smile hard as she talks a mile a second, and your heart will skip a beat when she holds your hand and she will write stories of your lives together. She’ll hold you close and whisper secrets into your ears. She’s lovely, remember that. She’s self made and she’s brilliant. Her names for the children might be terrible, but you’ll be okay with that. A girl who writes will tell your children fantastical stories.
Because that is the best part about a girl who writes. She has imagination and she has courage, and it will be enough. She’ll save you in the oceans of her dreams, and she’ll be your catharsis and your 11:11. She’ll be your firebird and she’ll be your knight, and she’ll become your world, in the curve of her smile, in the hazel of her eye the half-dimple on her face, the words that are pouring out of her, a torrent, a wave, a crescendo - so many sensations that you will be left breathless by a girl who writes.
Maybe she’s not the best at grammar, but that is okay.
Date a girl who writes because you deserve it. She’s witty, she’s empathetic, enigmatic at times and she’s lovely. She’s got the most colorful life. She may be living in NYC or she may be living in a small cottage. Date a girl who writes because a girl who writes reads.
A girl who writes will understand reality. She’ll be infuriating at times, and maybe sometimes you will hate her. Sometimes she will hate you too. But a girl who writes understands human nature, and she will understand that you are weak. She will not leave on the Midnight Train the first moment that things go sour. She will understand that real life isn’t like a story, because while she works in stories, she lives in reality. 
Date a girl who writes. 
Because there is nothing better then a girl who writes.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mojo JoJo

Okay if you've parented little girls any time in the last decade, you know who I'm talking about when I say Mojo JoJo.  If not, here he is in all his shining glory:


That's right.  He's a cartoon character.  Mojo was introduced to the mainstream world through the creators of the Powerpuff Girls.  And while Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup drive me bugnuts (oh the alliteration), Mojo jumps to mind every single time someone utters the word Mojo. 

To speak plainly, I insert the word 'Jojo' in my head every time after I hear the word Mojo. 

Silly, right?

And you know what?  Writers can be silly, by nature.  They can also be foolish, dreamy, bleary-eyed, and hopeful. 

But the one thing a writer can never be is without ideas. 

There are always stories formulating in their head.  There are always words they are reaching for. 

I can overhear a conversation on the commuter bus and I have a story off and running before I walk down that last step on my way into work. 

Or I can watch my children playing together in the back yard and I'm taken back to the time where I ran wild with my girl cousins during the Summers of my youth. 

The scent of vanilla reminds me of slathering the stuff all over in order to avoid mosquitos and chiggers on my small arms and legs before running out the back door of grandparent's house to let the wooden door smack loudly against the frame as I ran pel-mel towards adventure. 

Burying my nose in the pages of a book reminds me of my little yellow flashlight and late nights reading under my sheets, heart hammering at every creek and shift of our old house. 

Listening to Waylon Jennings reminds me of falling asleep atop of a blue suitcase in the back of a white Nova with the windows down and my bangs dancing across my forehead as the sunshine warmed the world behind my eyelids.  

One of the best things of being a writer, and reader, is that you have a passport to the future and the past. 

You get to travel far away or to stay as close as your favorite blanket fort. 

You get to experience the life of super hero, their arch nemesis, or a little red-haired girl falling in love with a boy who teased and taunted her throughout childhood until she broke a slate over his head.

Movies are great and so is television but the world I've always loved is the one where my Mojo Jojo resides:  My imagination. 

In there I get to be a domestic goddess who makes trifles and has frozen appetizers on hand for guests who happen to drop by.  (in reality I have fish sticks and Coors Light if you wanna bop by my back door and say hullo)  Or I can still be that little girl who wanted to be a veterinarian and fix all of the broken animals or Pocahontas or Laura Ingalls or to ride off on a unicorn with Charles Wallace Murry.  Or I get to be the barista with all of the best coffee drinks.  Or the owner of the local small bookshop where people congregate to knit and bitch.  Or I'm the mom that makes things from scratch, sews her kids clothes, and organizes the best birthday parties around. 

Don't get me wrong, I love stepping back out in reality.  Because there I, too, get to be the plucky heroine when I pop Barbie's head back on when she's accidentally been decapitated or when I drop off an iced coffee drink to my teen while he's working or when I manage to find the hubby's missing left shoe. 

It's all about perception, folks.

Inside our heads and outside of bodies lies all of the inspiration in the world if we go looking for it. 

So, pray tell, what inspires you?  Do tell. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I've always depended on the kindness of strangers...

So the next few weeks you might have to bear with me as I'm going through Tammy's class and working out some of my lessons/homework.  Today was about letting stories brew or formulate giving way to ideas that make my life what it is.

There are a few things that make me take paper and pen in hand, but more often than not it's people.  People fascinate me on so many levels because we're all such a different breed of cat.  We all have a story to tell and I've yet to come across a boring story.

I can still remember the day when I came out of the hospital where I was working well over ten years ago to see an old man sitting on a bench.  I was longing for some quiet and I had a book tucked under my arm to keep me company.  As I sat there the older man began to talk.  He'd been in the service for years and had married his childhood sweetheart.  She was upstairs, he said.  I don't remember what floor she was on, but it was apparent by his face that whatever was going on with her wasn't all that good.

So I sat.

And I listened.

He told me about being married to your sweetheart and it wasn't always what it was cracked up to be but overall things were 'good' he said.  And now they were here.

I remember saying I would pray for them and him patting my hand as he eased up off the bench as only people with creeky bones and weary hearts can do and he nodded and told me 'you just do that'.

I did, for the record.

And I imagine she passed away not long after that, but his story has stuck with me some thirteen years later.

I meet people like that.  They tell me about skillets that they wanna buy when we're in line at Wal-Mart.  Or just like the other day when I was talking to a woman who had three skeins of Red Heart yarn on the conveyer alongside the other every day items that make up a household grocery list.

"Knit or Crochet?" I asked.

She turned and grinned at me informing me that she crocheted.  We chatted about how I wanted to teach my daughter, nine-year old Sadie who was then helping to load the cart, and she nodded sharply and said it'd be better for her than all those 'danged video games they've got nowadays'.

Her hair was grey and she had rimless glasses on with gold arms that when they reached back to hook over her ears got lost in short salt and pepper hair.

She then told me, as she was loading grey plastic bags up in her cart, that after her husband had died a mutual acquaintance of theirs had knitted this woman a prayer shall.

"I didn't know her all that well.  It just meant more that way, I think."

She paused after running her debit card through the machine and smiling at the young cashier.

"You take care of them and good luck learning to crochet."

I saw her in the parking lot minutes later and as she backed out of the spot in her white and grey Dodge, I thought how very lucky I am sometimes to have these people pop up into my life every now and again and remind me that I'm lucky.

Not because I'm happily married with a living spouse and healthy children.  I know I'm lucky to have all of those things.  I'm lucky to be employed not only in a place that I love and work for people that I love, I'm just plain old fashioned fortunate to be working.

But I'm reminded every now and again that people are more than what they seem, that they have these amazing tales inside of them and even if they're only meant to be shared at the check out of Wal-Mart....they're still meant to be shared.

Now, one last story before I go.

There was a small child we got to visit when I first started at the hospital doing medical transcription.  For the sake of anonymity, I can't repeat his name but I can remember it to this day.  We had been typing reports for these small folks for weeks and it broke my heart sometimes to know that some of these kids had not only been in here for weeks they'd been in there for MONTHS on end.  I was frightened to death, as a mother, to walk into the NICU and PICU.  I thought 'God, this has to be the saddest place on earth.'

Let me now state for the record:  I was wrong.  Really really wrong.

That place is one of the happiest places in the world.  There are music therapists.  There are loving hands amidst all of that tubing and wires and machines.  There are people who care on-duty 24/7.

Now, we're going through the Peds ICU, being given a tour by the department head (who is a lovely person) and we're stopped by one of the small kids that we'd been writing about.  He'd been there for months - almost a year at the time - and you'd never know it.  He was .... for lack of a better word, ornery.  He made us laugh - this group of women that I was with - out loud more than once, let me tell you.

And when we left he hollered at us, "Ladies, come back!  I have video games."

Goodness sakes, I bet that kid was a handful for his momma.

I know he passed away some time later.  But, kiddo, again, you made an impression on me.

My granny always said she liked kids and dogs.  I like to think that she said that because both of those things can measure character better than any rorschach test in the world.  If my kids or dog doesn't like someone, there's gotta be a reason for it.  (Or they're packing gummy bears or a pastrami on rye in a not so concealed spot on their person)

So, maybe by sharing this story, you'll chat to the next person in line when you're in Wal-Mart or you'll stop to give a second glance to an old person sitting on a bench.  Just because it's not your story, doesn't mean it's not worth hearing....or telling.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Ideal Reader....

Author's Note: This is part of an assignment for the writing course that I'm taking through Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens fame.

The lesson for today was asking who we think our idea reader is.  The following is what I believe my ideal reader would be (and also what kind of reader I know I am):

I don't think I have an ideal reader per se.  More than anything I appreciate and wish for engaged readers.  I would hope and wish for people to share their experiences or find something that I've written resonates within them or for them.  Recently I had a younger woman whom I've been friends with online for a few years - so she is well acquainted with me and my daily life - tell me that she has hope for herself in years to come when she has a family that she won't need to channel Martha Stewart with her home nor Julia Child in order to feed her family....

...that's what I want for a reader. 

I don't want a sycophantic ego-boosting cheerleader but ... just engaged I would say. 

I'm that type of reader, too.  I guess I want the real deal with what's going on.  It's not that I don't think that people really 'live that way' (ie Martha Stewart) but the things that keep me coming back are when you share your recipes of your favorite that Granny Miller made or that killer dip that someone brought to your Super Bowl party or that your kid-spouse-dog needs to be house in the garage-crawl space for the time being because they're chapping your hiney. 

I want the knitting patterns.

I want the short stories about your Aunt who is no longer with us, God rest her soul.

I want your favorite Summer memories. 

I want to find the hope and promise where maybe there wasn't any before.

And I hope any reader that finds their way here can find all of this and maybe some more, too. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


 Well, I had planned to write about a whole other topic, but I thought I'd write about the original one that intended for when I had planned this in my head on the commute home tonight.

(and Yes, I realize that made absolutely no sense....and if it did, come sit by me...I have cookies for my fellow crazies) 

My commute can roughly last anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour in the morning and the same going home in the evening.  While jamming out to my fave tunes on the radio (I can tell you my presets and if you're in the neighborhood please to be checking them out, too:  92.3, 99.7, 102.9, 104.5, 106.7 and 107.1.  They're all awwwwesome), I make a mental list of things that might need to get done in the evening or sometimes I let my mind wander about a story that I'm writing or what I should write my next blog post about.  It's a great time to just formulate.  Sometimes it's a word that the DJ says or a lyric to a song playing on the radio that inspires whatever I'm going to be writing about. 

Today, there wasn't anything tripping my proverbial trigger, musicwise, but I kept coming back to the small list of things I had 'to do' when I got home.  The past few weeks, I've been adopting some new habits that have been working out pretty danged well for me.  While I'm going to assume that a lot of you folks already do these, I sure didn't before.  Here's a small sample of what I've been up to:


1.  Going to bed by 10:30.  That means lights out, kindle off, prayers said, and closing my eyes with my head on the pillow.  I've also tried to allot at least 20 minutes or more for reading on my kindle, too.  I've been rereading through The Wrinkle in Time series and am on the very last book (my fave, I think, in the triology) and loving every second of it!  The benefits of this going to bed at a decent hour are monumental.  I feel better in the morning, more rested, and happier. 


2.  Making my lunch the night before.  Okay, so I definitely know that a lot of you are super diligent about this and I have never ever been.  But, for the last two weeks solid, I've been packing my lunch in Sadie's super cute Hello Kitty lunchbox.  I can only imagine what my fellow Cambus passenger's think about my lunch tote lovingly embroidered with 'Sadie' on it and the iconic kitty, too.  Oh well, I wear Converse often and red skinny jeans.  That pink bag don't look too out of place when I'm carrying it. 


3.  The 15 minute Chez Hez Fix-All.  This has been INVALUABLE to my sanity.  I've spent roughly 15-30 minutes checking each room and picking up odds and ends and putting them away often enlisting the children who have left this or that lying around and having them tote it off to their room or wherever its 'home' is.  This, again, has helped me out so much.  I don't walk into clutter when I get home or at least it's not as terrible as it has been in the past and keeps things supremely manageable.  Included in this little scenario is me tossing in a load of laundry and also folding a load of laundry and putting it away (or handing it off to the offspring to be put away).  (and yes, I also put my clothes out for the next day, too.  Lead by example, I say.  ;) )

4.  Bedtime routines for short folks.  This includes getting jammies on, putting clothes out for the next day, locating mittens and hats and boots to ready for the a.m., and to brush their teeth.  Again, lifesaver 101.  Jude still bucks the whole bedtime or sleeping in her room but I've usually got her wore down by at least 9:30 now and this is PROGRESS. 

(Fonzie says haaaaaaaaayyy, two thumbs up to that, Hez)

By doing these four small things my life has changed in ways I can't even begin to describe, but let me explain.

No, wait, let me sum up.  (Another pop-culture reference.  Twenty points to Gryffindor if you can name where this is from)

After these folks are in bed, I've got some me time that has nothing to do with laundry or cleaning or arguing or anything but whatever I wanna fill it up with.  If I wanna waste an hour and play Zuma Blitz, I can.  If I wanna read on the Kindle, I can. 

So, Heather, you're thinking, why the Marvin the Martian cartoon up top, right?  Well, I think there oughta be some sorta cheering section/gold star allotment/earth shattering KABOOM that I've finally figured this out.

Obviously, I'm a special snowflake that needs positive reinforcement. 

(I'll just assume that y'all are rolling your eyes right now while whispering 'bless her heart'.)

I know that a lot of folks have figured this out some time ago and that I'm not winning any trophies or awards for getting my shizz together, but I can honestly say that it feels damned good. 

Now, check back with me in two weeks to see if I'm curled up in the fetal position somewhere surrounded by sandwich wrappers and laundry up to my eyeballs.

Okay, pals, your turn.  What're you doing right now?  Working on those resolutions?  Snowshoeing? Snow skiing?  Watching ball games?  What're you doing with your wintertime?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

It comes back around....

Currently, I'm eating some lasagna and bitty garlic breads while pondering my day. 

Earlier today after venturing into the Voldemarts to get some groceries (honestly, it was closer than traipsing across town to go to Aldi's - where we normally grocery get) my teen tried talking me into going to McDonald's.  Now, lessee, it was lunchtime (a little after Noon) and the line for the drive through was EPIC - or so I spied across the way - and there was no way I was going to spend more time in public (repeat after me PUBLICK PUUUUUUBLICK) than strictly necessary.

I love people and loathe them in equal measure.  I believe that a lot of people are inherently good and I love 'em for it.  On the flip side there are some very simple folks that drive me looney tunes (and not the fun daffy duck kind if you pick up what I'm putting down). 

So, a quandry.

The boy - THE TEEN, Heather, THE TEEN - offered to buy lunch.

I offered Wendy's as a compromise. 

We rolled on over there after Jude's nineteenth request for chicken nuggets and put in our order.  Driving up to the pay window, we were greeted by DeShawn who told us our total.  I held out my hand waiting for Arik to pony up the dough and laughing told our young cashier that I was making the boy pay. 

Laughing as he took the twenty, DeShawn looked at Arik, "It's all good.  It comes back around, man."

I busted out laughing, took the change, and told young DeShawn to have a good day. 

Arik had no idea what DeShawn was talking about and I tried to explain to him in a roundabout way that being good to your mom has a way of being paid back ten-fold.  Moms just roll that way. 

It made me smile long after I drove away and quite some time after that junior bacon cheeseburger was long tone too. 

Good things really do have a way of coming back around.  Maybe not the way we think they should, but they still do.

It's like finding a friendly face in the middle of the plumbing aisle at Lowe's last night.  A really nice older gentleman took me around to find the hoses I was looking for that we needed for the washer.  And then also, chatted along with me as we walked over to the dryer vent pipes.  I told him that I would've been lost for quite some time without his help and thanks so much.  He quipped that they usually try to shoo everyone out before nine.  Again, I laughed.

It really is the best medicine for all that ails you. 

Oh I'm all for sad music and Steel Magnolias when life hands you a sack of shit for a day, but sometimes there's just something about sharing a laugh with a stranger.

In both of those situations, I was flustered (today, after chasing Jude around the bulk of wal-mart with the chant of MOMMA LOOK MOMMA LOOK MOMMA LOOK ringing in my ears; yesterday, trying to walk through the plumbing aisle without a penis is intimidating as eff) and a little short on patience. 

And along came a laugh just when I needed one.

So, today, smile at someone in the grocery aisle.  Joke around with your cashier.  Tell someone that the yarn they're picking out is beautiful. 

Take two seconds and make someone else's day.

I'd like to thank DeShawn for making mine.

Bless your heart, kid.