It was her birthday and Lori woke up feeling apprehensive. Leave it to her husband to have to be out of town until the weekend. She would have to celebrate alone.
“Jack, can’t you get someone else to go to Rochester to fire those poor schmucks,” she’d asked.
Jack had slurped his coffee noisily.
“They’re not schmucks. And no, that’s my job.” Another slurp. “Jeeze, you’re forty five—it’s not like you’re a kid and I’m missing your birthday party. I’ll make it up to you when I get back.”
He downed the rest of the coffee. A peck on her cheek, and then he was gone.
Lori cleared the table. Grabbing her lunch, she checked the clock. Crap, I’m going to be late if I don’t get out of here.
The car seemed to be on auto pilot as she hurried to Healthy Smiles Dental Clinic where she spent the day picking tartar off other people’s teeth.
“It could be worse,” she’d tell her friends, after a few glasses of Merlot. “My mother wanted me to be a teacher.”
Just dropping her children off at school when they were little was enough to give Lori a headache that lasted the whole day. She couldn’t imagine being locked in a room full of screaming kids.
After gliding into an employees’ only spot on the perimeter of the parking lot, she flipped the vanity mirror into the down position. Tiny crow’s feet etched her eyes and mouth. Her smock stretched a little too tight across her chest and the elastic waist on the scrub-style pants pinched.
“Oh, well.” Lori sighed. At least Jack had stopped nagging her about the new rolls of fat that had settled on her midriff. She struggled out of the car and surveyed the distance to the office. Huffing and puffing, she finally reached the door of the building. The walk seemed more strenuous every day. She promised herself again to get serious about losing a few pounds—or else get a job at a building with more convenient employee parking.
Three dreary days later, the weekend arrived and Jack reappeared.
“I’m beat,” he said, when Lori greeted him at the door.
She concocted a couple of martinis and clicked the remote to start the faux fire logs on the hearth.
Lori perched on the edge off her chair, waiting for her gift. She was dressed in her new one size larger black pants and a loose fitting tunic top.
“So, when do I get my birthday gift, Jack?”
Jack’s face was usually a mask. But this time, he looked alarmed.
“Oh, yeah. That…u-m-m. Hold on.”
He dug around in his overnight bag and fumbled with a package.
“Sorry, honey, I didn’t have time to get you a card.”
“Really? I would have thought that you might have passed about 200 Walgreen stores between here and Rochester. Isn’t there one just around the corner from the house?” Lori asked testily.
“I’ll get you a card later—when we go out to dinner. You did make a reservation somewhere, right? I hate waiting for a table on Friday night.”
He handed his wife a box with Lord and Taylor emblazoned on the top.
Eagerly, Lori opened the elegant box.
Nestled in crinkly, almost sheer tissue paper was a spaghetti–strapped silky wisp of a nightgown.
Lori drew it out of the box. The scent of an exotic perfume wafted from it. She thought she recognized Chanel #5, an indulgence she just dreamed about.
She examined the garment. It would be a perfect fit for a woman the size of a Barbie-doll.
Holding it up in front of her size sixteen body, she looked up at her husband. At that precise moment, a card slipped onto the floor. Lori and Jack bumped heads as they both bent to retrieve it.
“Sorry, honey, I guess I left the saleswoman’s card in the box,” Jack said nervously, as he slipped the tell-tale card into his pocket.
Lori stared at her husband. Seriously, she thought. Does he really want me to believe he bought this for me?
She watched him squirm.
Then in a voice hard with sarcasm, she said, “Jack, don’t you remember that red is not my favorite color?”
Picture courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art
Another mass shooting today—it must be morning in America.
I don’t know which is worse: the feeling of helplessness that overwhelms me when these things happen, or the fact that they happen so often.
This one hit especially close to home for me. San Bernardino, where 14 people died for going about their daily business and 17 more were injured, is where my daughter works. Thankfully, she was never in danger. The shooting occurred at a county agency and she teaches at the university several blocks away.
Still, I was anxious—at first because I didn’t know exactly where the shooting had taken place. It took almost 15 minutes to find out. And because my daughter has friends who teach on that campus, too, people I know and like. I worried for their safety as they traveled home later in the day.
Then I found out that my daughter was traveling through the city to another campus. I hoped that she wouldn’t be affected by the manhunt that was underway for the perpetrators.
Now I wonder how she and her colleagues will handle this tragedy when they gather with their students tomorrow. I feel deep sympathy for the people who tonight are mourning loved ones or keeping a bed-side vigil for an injured friend or family member.
Both my daughter and her closest friend posted on Face Book that they were safe and had not been in immediate danger. Then they both admitted to being exhausted from the stress of dealing with the events of that day.
The fallout from this incident will play out for many days ahead.
Those of us who were not directly involved will forget and move on. Those who were in San Bernardino at the time will have to process what happened and attempt to make sense of it.
I wonder if we are safe—anywhere. Shouldn’t people be safe at work, at school, in movie theaters, in restaurants?
We all know we aren’t.
Instead, we try to compensate for our lack of safety. We’ve armed our police with combat gear. We’ve taught teachers how to properly lock-down their classrooms. Children understand the terms “active shooter” and “mass shooting.”
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
When I was teaching, we could always tell whenever there was a full moon by the children’s behavior. If previously mild mannered, cooperative children began acting slightly crazy and hyperactive, the teachers would console one another by predicating that the full moon was either upon us, or looming. Most often, on days like that, I’d check the nocturnal sky and the moon would be displayed in all of its rotund glory.
For the last few years, I’ve noticed something strange. Whenever I feel especially down or blue, it’s caused by, you guessed it, the full moon. How relieved I am whenever I see that huge yellow orb hanging in the nighttime sky!
Whew! Seeing the full moon reaffirms that I’m not terminally depressed and that I don’t need to rush to the doctor for a stronger anti-depressant. Rather, like the children I used to teach, the moon is causing some kind of disruption in my emotions.
I don’t remember the full moon having that effect on me in my younger years. Perhaps I was too busy dealing with the erratic behavior of my young students to be able to notice that I, too, was affected by the lunar cycle.
Now I know what it feels like to want to “Howl at the moon!”
Picture courtesy of Pixabay
It’s always something: Something to celebrate, something to mourn, something to regret, something to attend to. I miss my husband. Because it is always something: a phone call or three; a doctor’s appointment; walking the dog; visiting friends, laundry; cleaning; the list is endless. I do it all alone. Alone. If I need help,…
One of the most powerful boosts for many writers is Amazon.com. It provides a platform for unknown authors to bypass the stranglehold traditional publishing houses have on the industry. Services like Book Baby, Create Space and others support the independent writer by providing an accessible and affordable platform to bring their work to life.
There are many reasons why an author may resort to self-publishing. In my case, I made this decision after pitching my book for several years at writer’s conferences (where I paid a fee for the privilege) and sending numerous query letters to agencies. I sent the required three or whatever chapters, synopses of the book, author bio, and cover letters to agents I had investigated.
It was time consuming and ultimately fruitless—although I had at least two agents who would “have loved to promote my book if only…”
So, I turned to a small press publisher who did bring my lifelong dream of being a published author to life.
Then the hardest work began—promoting the book. I am not naturally good at self promotion.
I rely on word of mouth and whatever opportunities come my way to talk about my book and my writing.
But the one thing that all authors—including me—must have to survive is book reviews. And that’s where you, dear reader, come into the picture.
The five or ten minutes it takes you to write a few simple sentences telling other folks that, yes, you enjoyed the book you just finished are the greatest boost you can give to any writer. Just log onto Amazon.com, find the title and author of the book, and choose the option to review the book.
You don’t have to do an in-depth analysis of the plot, the nuances of character development, or compare the book to others in its genre. Just say that you liked it (or not) and why.
And speaking for all struggling authors like me, your review will be deeply appreciated.
It’s hard to chase a dream. Dreams are ephemeral and unpredictable. They’re illogical. They don’t follow the rules of physics.
Dreams can make you feel elated or leave you empty and confused.
When you wake from a dream, it can be a hard landing back to reality.
I feel like I am chasing a dream right now as I face the most difficult part of having my latest book, Elvis Saves a Marriage…published: trying to foster interest in it.
It’s an intricate ballet of pushing the book a little here and there and exhausting people. You don’t want your efforts at promoting the book to feel like forcing people to watch a never-ending telethon.
But it is a necessary step in being an author. Even mid-list authors have to promote their books—through personal appearances, radio interviews, and book signings. The only ones who are somewhat exempt are A-listers who are a sure sell. And they have staffs to plan their promotion campaigns—and get to travel to exciting places and be on TV interview shows.
Writers like me are the author and promoter all wrapped up into one person. It can feel daunting.
From the time I was old enough to envision a future, I knew deep in my heart that I wanted to spend my life writing. I describe myself now as a writer who was disguised as a teacher for many years.
But I am a dream chaser. And no matter how upside down, how illogical, or how difficult it is, I will continue to follow this dream.
Graphic courtesy of Pixabay
Some friends and I had a wonderful day out today. We went to nearby Winter Park, a chi-chi destination in the Orlando area. We took the iconic Winter Park Boat Ride—an attraction (for want of a better word) that has been around for decades.
An open boat powered by an outboard motor cruises through three of the Winter Park-Maitland chain of lakes. It’s a pleasant ride featuring views of beautiful homes, scenery, and parts of Rollins College.
The tour guide was a man who probably helped launch the business 40+ years ago. He pointed out all of the historic sights, and commented on the beautiful homes that ringed the lakes. I don’t need to tell you that the homes were enormous—some as large as 20,000 square feet! He also entertained us by telling us that purchasing a lot on the lake would cost at least a million dollars.
When I lived in Western New York, my husband and his brother co-owned an outboard motor boat. We loved to go out on Lake Erie and ogle the mansions that lined the lake shore.
We’ve also been to Ft. Lauderdale where there is a boat ride that travels through the canals that crisscross that city. And, needless to say, part of the cruise takes you past big, expensive mansions, and yachts that have their own swimming pools and helicopter pads!
It occurred to me at one time that these cruises had one odd thing in common—taking middle class folks past homes they could never afford to own. It’s almost like a tease—“See what rich folks have—that you will NEVER have!” It reminds me of a song from Camelot, “What Do the Simple Folk Do?,” only in reverse.
There I was again today, ogling the unattainable real estate—and loving every minute of it!
Picture courtesy of Pixabay
What is the price of progress in a state like Florida where developers are king and progress is measured by how many houses can be built on a tract of land?
In a recent post I wrote about my dismay at changes that were coming to an especially scenic area across from the walking and biking path where I take my dog every day.
I lamented the clearing of land across a lake that I love, a lake that has soothed me when I needed it, and has been a delight for many years.I’ve watched the clearing of the land for the last week or so. At first it seemed judicious, and then the heavy machinery moved in. Overnight huge mature trees were uprooted and piled like so much trash along the bank across the lake. The piles of debris are easily viewed from the walking and biking path. Large swaths of land are now visible, forming lots on which houses will sprout like mushrooms.
Other residents, people I see almost every day on my walks with my dog, have remarked on the change. The consensus is that the once beautiful, calming view has been destroyed.
When I am rational about this change, I realize that my neighborhood was just as lush and green before houses were constructed as the tract of land I am lamenting.
I am sure buyers will come along in a few months, excited about the lovely view from their new homes.
Meanwhile, I will see this construction as more scars upon the land.
Yes, we pay a heavy price here in Florida for the autonomy developers have been granted.