The wake of Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'm so heartbroken to see the destruction that hurricane Sandy has left in it's wake.  It's awful to see the places of my youth and the place I still think of as my home in such devastation. The Jersey shore is in wreckage and parts of it will never be restored to be what it was in so many of my precious memories.
I have heard from most of my loved ones and know they are safe. Most have been lucky to have minimal damage, but there are so many who have lost so much. I am seeing on the news that there are houses on fire right now on the Jersey shore.  It's just unbelievable.
I am still waiting to hear from my best friend who lives in NY.  Parts of her area have been destroyed and I am hoping that it’s due to the loss of phone lines and power that is keeping her from letting me know that her and her family are okay.  It’s morning here and knowing it will be hours before the sun comes up on the east coast is enough to make me crazy. All I can do is wait and try not to let the worry get the best of me.



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Beside myself

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I had to spend my morning trying not to watch the news knowing because of the time difference, it would be many hours before I could call my loved ones back home (in NJ & NY).  To help pass the time, I took my son to the movies and started making calls on the walk home.  I spoke to my parents, sister and a few friends getting confirmation of my family's safety and most of my friends.  I still can't reach my best friend who lives in Staten Island, NY.  I've been trying to call her once and hour every hour for the last five hours, but still haven't reached her.  Every hour that goes by makes me more and more anxious and I am beside myself with worry.  I spoke to her yesterday.  She was supposed to be evacuated, but chose to stay.  I tried to talk her into going, but couldn't change her mind.  I made her promise she'd call first thing in the morning, but it didn't happen.  Large portions of Staten Island have been devastated by the hurricane and I can't say how helpless I feel not being able to reach her. All I can do is sit and wait.

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I show up

Sunday, October 28, 2012
I volunteer as class mom at my son's school every week.  I usually do it on Tuesday, but I was sick on this week and went on Thursday instead.  My son has two teachers.  They both have babies at home so they split the week.  I've never been there with the teacher that was there on Thursday.  The Tuesday teacher is always really happy to have me.  She gives me loads to do and makes me feel welcome from the minute I arrive, but with the teacher this week, it was a much different experience.
When I arrived, she told me she didn't have anything for me to do.  I said, 'Oh, Sarah always puts me right to work.'  She replied dryly by saying, 'I'm sure she does.' and she walked away to start the class.  I stood to the side and watched her teach.  The other teacher had a much different teaching style.  She was warm and sweet (firm when she needed to be, but sweet).  This teacher was very different.  She was more firm than sweet and expected a lot from very small children.  She didn't even allow fidgeting or moving around.  She expected them to sit very still and when they didn't, she took out these little mats that the children had to sit on.  She said they were magic mats that would keep them still.  My son was one of the children to sit on the mat, but even if he wasn't, I would have thought it was a bit excessive.  These kids are four years old for God's sake!
My son was very excited to have me there.  He kept looking over at me and smiling or waving.  This did not keep him still and I could see it was bothering the teacher.  I kept motioning for him to sit back down.  Some of the other children were smiling and waving too, but for the most part, they were all being really good and paying attention.
At playtime, I was surrounded by about eight children (including my son) that all wanted to play with me.  Being the mother of an only child, I'm not used to being around so many children wanting my attention.  I played everything from follow the leader to Simon Says to pretending to be stomping dinosaurs.  It was really adorable and I have to say that it was really nice to be the center of attention for so many children.  They all laughed and really enjoyed the games and I was hugged by almost every one of them at some point in the day.
After lunch, I returned to the classroom and was asked by the teaching assistant to do some laminating in the teacher's lounge.  She gave me a stack of about 100 pages, showed me how to use the laminating machine  and left me to it.  I looked at the stack of pages and knew it was a ploy for the teacher to keep me out of the classroom for the remainder of the day.  I went back to the class to speak to the teacher.  I told her I didn't mind doing some of it.  I was there to help, but 100 pages was a bit excessive.  I told her about the arthritis in my back and let her know I couldn't stand for such long periods.  She said, 'I wanted to talk to you anyway.  The thing is, I don't think it's a good idea for you to come back.'  It's nice that you want to help out, but maybe you can help another class.' she said it with a plastic smile and then began to walk away.  I was shocked and furious.  I stopped her and firmly said, 'No, I am not going to help out at another class.  I am here for my son.  I know he's been a little disruptive today, but I'll go home and talk to him about it and we're going to give it another try next week.'  She was taken back.  I guess she expected me to just accept what she said without another word.  She said that she didn't think it would make a difference and it was a waste of all our time.  I said, 'No, my son looks forward to having me here.  I am here for him.  I want to get to know the other children and see him in the classroom environment. I want to be a part of his experience because that's the kind of mom I am - I show up.   So I'm not going to let you tell me no.  I will go home and talk to him and next time, I'll come when Sarah is teaching if it bothers you, but I'm not letting you tell me no.'
She agreed, but I'm pretty sure it was only because I was quite strong with her and may have intimidated her.  Which is fine with me because I don't like her much and gave her the exact impression I wanted her to have. I wanted her to know that when it comes to my son, I'll be making the decisions - not her.



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A Revelation

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
After eight years of marriage, my husband is finally realizing I'm a shit housewife.  I've been telling him for years that I never signed up for being a housewife.  Don't get me wrong, I keep a clean house and when I cook, I cook damned good, but being a housewife was never something I ever wanted to be.  I never learned to iron (not well anyway), I do the laundry, but tend to forget to take it from the bottom floor to the 3rd floor where the bedrooms are.  My husband often runs out of underwear and has to go downstairs commando to get them.  I am constantly telling him, 'If you see that you're running short, tell me and I'll make sure you have some or here's a novel idea, go do it yourself.  You are a grown man.'  I say this tongue in cheek of course.  Which is usually followed by a smile and a reply like, 'It's a good thing you're good in bed.'  I always  tell him, 'I know Babe, I definitely know my strengths and I think you'd prefer it this way than always having clean underwear when you want them.'
Tonight he came home and asked me what we were having for dinner.  I was bringing my son his dinner at the time (my son eats dinner early so he doesn't have to go hungry waiting for his dad to get home from work).  I told my husband, 'I don't know, I've been busy all day and haven't given it a thought.'  He responded teasingly with, 'You're useless.'  to which I replied, 'You really need to lower your expectations.  If I'm busy, we're ordering in.  It's been eight years, I'm a shit housewife.  Stop trying to change me.'  He laughed and nodded thoughtfully.  I think it's finally dawned on him that this is as good as it gets.

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My driving theory test

Monday, October 22, 2012
I woke up this morning with a full on flu - achy, sweaty and as they say in England, full of cold (which just means having a terrible cold).  I've not been feeling well since Friday, but this morning it was bad.  I had my appointment to take my written driving exam this morning that I already paid for.  I really didn't want to go and didn't feel ready.  My flu didn't help, but as I paid for it and would have to pay again to reschedule, I decided to suck it up and go.  I am so glad I did because I passed despite it all!  Woo-hoo!
I've taken two driving lessons with my instructor and have to be honest - it's awful!  I feel completely incapable of driving here! Wrong side of the car and wrong side of the road really screws with your head.  It feel impossible to judge anything on the left side of the car!  My instructor grabbed the wheel a few times on both lessons.  Every turn I take, I have to tell myself over and over again -'Stay to the left.  Stay to the left!' The roads here are very narrow and there's also a real parking problem so more times than not, cars are parked on the side of the road which forces you to go into the oncoming lane to pass them.  This goes against every instinct I have as a driver.  In NJ, you never have to steer into oncoming traffic.  Here, it's done all the time and drivers expect it and know to make room for you.  Every time I have to do it, I feel panicked and start to inch back over.  My instructor pushes the wheel back and I fight her every time!  I feel unsafe!  I feel like I can't drive!
The most bizarre side effect to being on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road is that I confuse my right from my left (A concept I've had down since around the age of five). When I'm driving here, my instructor will tell me to signal left and I signal right!  It's crazy!  I know my right from left and yet I still do it!  She says it's because I'm thinking too much about doing everything opposite than I'm used to so everything gets turned around.  She says this will pass and at some point it will all click into place, but it makes me feel stupid!  If I would have tried driving on the open road like I do with my instructor with my husband, I surly would have gotten us killed, but she's trained for this and also has a brake on her side of the car (which she's had to use on more than one occasion  so she's been able to keep us safe.  I can't put into words how stressed I feel for the entire hour I'm driving.  When the lesson is over, I am so relieved and can't wait to get out of the car!  She says I'm doing great, but it's not how I feel and I dread every lesson!
My son is off from school next week so I won't be able to do any lessons with him home (having no-one to leave him with) so I've told my instructor we'll start again the following week.  I want to do at least 3 lessons a week to get used to it.  Having lessons so few and far in between in pointless.  I can't say I'm sorry to have the break.  If it wasn't an absolute necessity to start driving here, I'd give up and never get behind the wheel again!

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Saturday, October 20, 2012
I spent the last few hours taking a trip down memory lane - literally.  Well actually, virtually.  I read in a book on writing memoirs that said a trick to bringing back memories is to draw a map of a place where the events took place.  It gave me the idea to look on Google Maps at various places.  My husband sat with me and navigated as I tried to visualize things and drum up the memories to find what I needed. I looked at a hospital where I spent a great deal of time with a friend before he died.  I think saw what I was looking for there, but couldn't zoom in close enough to know for sure.  It helped a lot though because I did start to remember more.  I have a real mental block where he is concerned.
I looked for the houses various people lived in at that time.  I could only remember so much and zoom in so close so I'm not sure we actually found the right places or houses. I looked at a park I spent a lot of time in.  Actually, I looked at the back of a park I spent a lot of time in.  Google maps didn't take me down any of the streets I wanted.  I saw it in an over head view, but it was just frustrating because I wanted to put myself there and look around.  Technology can only do so much, but it was an amazing exercise and did  help me to remember more.  This sort of thing actually works slowly.  More and more will manifest itself into my memories in the coming days.  Out of nowhere things will come to me and I'll be able to write more.  It's really quite remarkable how it works.
I had to give up because my head is killing me.  I have a really bad head cold and feel like my sinuses are going to pop from the pressure.
  


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Removed Posts

I've taken some posts down today.  It's come to my attention that some things shouldn't be out for the world to see.  We all have a story, but what is sometimes overlooked is that our story also is a part of someone else's story and we're only telling one side - as we see it.  Our perception may skewed by time or emotion or inaccurate assumptions that were never actually backed up with any facts and may lack integrity and in turn may paint an inaccurate picture. With this in mind, I need to be fair to all of the people that share my story because what they say and how they feel does matter.

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A Twenty Year Old Loss

Friday, October 19, 2012
I cried this morning.  I sobbed out of nowhere in the middle of my kitchen when I went down to make coffee.  I had a one sided argument with someone via email yesterday and this morning, I thought about something I said to them and completely broke down over a 20 year old loss.
I won't go too far into it, but when I was very young, my best friend died and at the time, I tried so hard to be strong through it, that I never really grieved.  I told myself I was so blessed to have had my time with him that I didn't really allow the grieving process.
I went through another loss at the same time.  A much different loss, but a terrible one all the same.  Again, I tried to be strong and forgiving and just got on with it.  Not long after, forgiveness gave way to anger and that was how I dealt with that loss. It's amazing how you could desperately love someone and yet still be so angry with them. Later - much later (far too late), forgiveness eased it's way back, but again, I'm not sure I ever really dealt with that loss either.  I skipped a bunch of steps in between.
If those losses took place at different times, maybe it would have been different, but being faced with them both all it once was impossible to bare at such a young age. 
Twenty years later, I've just started writing about it all and I think what I'm finding is that through this project, I'm going through my grieving process and maybe by the end, I'll make peace with the things I tried most of my adult life not to face.



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The big bad wolf

Thursday, October 18, 2012
I just had to have a real difficult talk with my son.  I guess I should start from the beginning - I was class mom at my son's school this week (he's 4 and just started school in September).  I'll be doing it all day every Tuesday from now on.  Those teachers need so much help! This week was my first week.  For the most part, it was a great experience.  I got to see how the teacher teaches and what my son is learning.  I got to see what he gets up to when he's not at home and meet his little friends.  I got to work with a bunch of the kids as well; helping them with learning to write, with arts and crafts and phonics.  It was a really rewarding and lovely day.  My son LOVED it.  When the teacher introduced me to the other kids as his mom, he beamed with pride!
The part that left me feeling really unsettled was that the kids leave the classroom unattended to go to the bathroom when ever they need or want to.  I witnessed kids say they were going to the bathroom, but walk off in another direction.  They didn't leave the area, but they could have.
During gym class (which is in a whole other building) the kids could leave the gym and go down the hall to the changing rooms on their own.  The teachers have 30 kids to look after.  How long would it take to realize one was missing?  The door of the building was locked, but school employees can come and go.  My son trusts everyone and is very social.  He'd easily be led away.  It occurred to me that I needed to raise some red flags and start to take away some of his innocence. It killed me to do it, but I knew it was time.
Tonight I told him the two places no one is allowed to touch him.  I told him he shouldn't talk to grown ups he didn't know.  I could see he wasn't getting it and told him that some people are bad and might want to hurt him or steal him away from Mommy and Daddy.  You can't always tell when people are bad - kind of like when the big bad wolf dressed up like Grandma.  They may look nice, but might not be.  I told him to never go anywhere with a grown up that wasn't Mommy or Daddy - even if they say that Mommy and Daddy said it was ok.  He said, 'You mean they might be fooling me?' I said, 'Yes, that's right, Baby.  You run away and find a teacher or another grown up.'  I could see he was getting disturbed so I stopped there, but it's so hard knowing what to say and how far to go.  I apologized to him for having to talk about scary stuff, but it's my way of keeping him safe.  I just wish it wasn't so necessary!



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Writer's block is gone - for now

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
My writer's block is gone for the time being.  My homework for my writer's block was to write the opening paragraph for my book (which I've chosen to be my class project as well).  I was panicked when she said it because I wasn't sure how to start my book.  I knew I wanted a story line that wen back and forth between present and past, but had no idea what the present story line would be.  I still don't, but I wrote an opening scene the minute I got home. In about five minutes.  It just came to me.  I may change it a hundred times over, but it's a start. Phew!
I'd love to sit here and write an update on all I've been up to in the last week, but I have five minutes before I have to go pick up my son from school.  I think my taxi is here now...



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Thank You BrokerFish.com

Sunday, October 14, 2012
BrokerFish.com - International Health Insurance
I've just been informed that the good people at BrokerFish.com have chosen my blog as one of their favorite travel blogs of 2012! How cool!

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My Favorite Author

I have had 'readers block' for the last month.  I also am having trouble writing again.  What better way is there to inspire you to write than to read, right?  I just can't seem to stick to anything.  I had to read Fifty Shades of  Grey for book club this month.  I got 375 pages in (only because it was for book club) before I gave up, but that's another blog post...
Readers block happens from time to time and usually, I turn to Jonathan Tropper (my favorite author)  knowing that I will cured of my readers block with the very first page.  Here's my problem - I only have one Jonathan Tropper that I haven't read.  Once I read it, there will be no more until his latest book comes out in paperback (due to my arthritis, I don't read hard cover books).  I don't like the thought of no more unread Johnathan Tropper books left on my shelf.  It gives me an unsettled feeling.
Last week, Jonathan Tropper had a book signing right next door to my home town.  I get email notifications for him on Goodreads.com and when I saw, Hey New Jersey, I'll be reading and signing at River Road books in Fair Haven, I thought 'Nooo! I want to go!'  (I'm pretty sure he won't be coming to England any time soon).  I asked everyone I could think of to go on my behalf.  No one could make it.  I even put it on Facebook.  I had one person I've only seen once in 25 years offer to go for me, but when I realized she had to get a babysitter to do so, I told her not to worry.  I had another friend who is recovering from major surgery offer to get a ride over because she hasn't been cleared to drive yet.  I couldn't in good conscious let her do it.  I even asked my mom to go (knowing it was a stretch) and she said no.  No real excuse, just she didn't want to.  I was livid.  She said she didn't want to wait on line for an autograph.  I thought, an autograph??  He's not a movie star!  He's my favorite author signing my favorite book! A signed copy of my favorite book (the book that inspired me to want to write my book), is a little different from asking to get me an autograph! I didn't say any of it because I didn't want to fight.  So, I just said, 'It's ok' and hung up with her.
A few hours later, she called me back and said she spoke to my step-father about it and they'd be going after all.  I was really happy, but also worried that they wouldn't make it a priority.  On Facebook, I had two friends from book club ask me to get them copies.  I knew this would be pushing the envelope.  Shipping to the UK is really expensive and I doubted my parents would want to do it.  So, I called the book store, explained the situation and asked if I paid for the books and the shipping if they would do it for me (including the copies for my friends).  I knew it would cost a small fortune for shipping, but figured it would make good Christmas gifts for the girls, plus I would have to worry about my parents not making it over.  The book store agreed to do it.  $100.00 later, it was arranged.
I called my mother and told her a friend would go in her place (not wanting to tell her I paid $100 for the guarantee I would get the books).  She said, 'Oh, Okay' sounding disappointed. I asked what was wrong.  She said, 'We got dressed up.  I had what I was going to say all planned out.  I was going to tell him you were writing a book and were inspired to do by his book.  I called the book store to make sure they had it just in case I had to look around for it.'  I felt awful and I was also really surprised.  This wasn't like my mom.  She's not really the type to do something like that for me (which is why I called the bookstore in the first place).  I was touched.  I told her, 'Wow, that's really nice.  You can still go if you want.'  She said no, that it would save her the trip, but asked me to make sure my friend told him about me writing my book because of him.  I called the book store and made sure they'd tell him for her.  They said they would.
In a few days, I will have a signed copy of 'The Book of Joe' Made out to me!  It's not as good as getting to meet him, hearing him read from his new book, being a part of a Q&A afterwords (I really would have loved that), but it's pretty good.
So, here I sit with my last unread Jonathan Tropper novel with a bad case of reader's/writer's block.  To read or not to read...

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Feeling Better

Just to give a quick update, I'm feeling a lot better.  The eye drops have helped a lot!  It feels 100% better and almost looks normal as well.  I have to do the eye drops for another week and go back to the eye doctor this week, but I am feeling better.
My shoulder is still not 100 %.  I'm going to try to start working out again this week.  Fingers crossed, it will be fine as long as I take it easy.

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My first UK Driving Lesson

Saturday, October 13, 2012
I just got home from having my first UK driving lesson.  If you know me, you may be wondering why I'd need a lesson when I've been driving half my life, but driving is very different here and we figured it would be the best way to get me test ready.  I actually thought I would just need a few lessons, but was definitely off with my estimate.
With my first right hand turn, I ended up driving on the wrong side of the road!  Not a great start right?  The good news is that my instructor told me it would happen.  She said it's happened with every American driver she's taken on.  She said when you start driving you go directly into auto pilot and just do it.  I thought, no way, I've been living here 8 years.  There's no way I'm going to do it.  The worst part was that I didn't even realize I did it!  She had to tell me!  By the 3rd time, I wanted to pull over and declare myself unfit to drive.  By the 4th right hand turn, I finally got the hang of it.  It's a matter of re-programming your mind.
I have to admit that roundabouts sent me into a frenzy of anxiety.  In NJ, when you go around a circle, it's literally every man for himself - there's no rules - only chaos.  They have always scared the hell out of me, so my initial reaction to anything resembling a circle sends me into anxiety overdrive.  I did okay, but I white-knuckled it the whole time!
The good news is that my instructor told me I did the best out of all of her American drivers on their first lesson.  The bad news is she thinks it will be more like 10 - 15 lessons apposed to just a few! I totally agree!  What a nerve wracking experience!

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Iritis

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I'm having a flare-up of Iritis which is an eye condition (inflation of the iris) that is common with Ankylosing Spondilitis (which I suffer from).  I've been told if I ever saw signs of it, I should go straight to the hospital.  It's been 2 weeks.  I've been in denial. A friend told me yesterday that it looked pretty bad and by the end of the day, I was in a lot of pain.  I went to the ER and was told to go home  and see my GP because he would give me the same referral  to go to the eye doctors in the hospital as the ER doc would (Being sent away sounds worse than it was.  The last thing I wanted to do was spend another night in the ER by myself).
I called my doctor today and he got me in to the eye specialist.  They gave me some eye drops to treat it, but said it may take a couple of weeks to clear.  On top of the Iriris, I also have Anterior Uveitis (inflation of the eye) - I look soo pretty!
I haven't been spending a great deal of time in front of the computer as my eye is light sensitive. Even now as I'm typing, I have one eye closed.  I just thought I'd put a quick note up explaining my absence.

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The Dark Season

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I was supposed to have my first UK driving lesson today, but had to cancel because I had to have a cortisone shot in my shoulder this morning and it's killing me!  The good news is that the doctor says I can start working out again on Monday! I've had a bad shoulder for years and once or twice a year have to have injections that usually do the trick.  If I could have it in all my joints, I'd do it in a heart beat - the day of pain would be totally worth the months of relief I'd have.  Unfortunately,  the doctor says it's not recommend for my arthritis.
It's been raining nearly every day for the last 4 weeks.  It makes me feel like I'm 80 when we have weather like this.  It's also depressing.  It's too early in the season for the dark grey weather.  It doesn't usually happen until November.  The sky goes dark and  grey from November to about March in this part of England (maybe all of England, but I can't speak for the whole country).  It doesn't always rain, but it always looks like it might.  It's damp, cold and dark for months on end.  It's too soon for it and I'm really hoping the rain stops and the sun comes out for a while before the dark season begins.

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Love Songs

Monday, October 8, 2012
I've spent a good portion of the last couple of days listening to 80's love songs to try to bring on some memories to help with a chapter of my book.  It was an idea that was suggested in my writing class. What a weird experience it's been.  I researched by going to the billboard archives and looking at the top hits for the years I was interested in and then went to youtube to listen to the songs.  Today I downloaded some mp3s and listened to them while I cleaned the house.
It's funny what we forget and what we choose to remember.  It's also amazing what music does to bring you to a time and place you long forgot.  Today I listened to 'Right Here Waiting' by Richard Marx for the first time in many, many years.  It's one of those songs you know from the first few notes and I've always chose to turn it off as soon as I heard those notes.  Not today.  Today, I listened to it at least 3 times just trying to channel some ghost from the past.  I can't say it worked because I didn't write today, but it sure did take me back.
I also listened to 'Angel' by John Secada which was sent to me on a mix tape a long time ago.  I forgot all about that song, but listened to it over and over.  It's a beautiful song, but the end result was surprising because it made me a bit angry.  It's hard to explain, but that how it made me feel (among other things).
I listened to 'Hands to Heaven' by Breathe and that sparked a memory that was completely forgotten before hearing it. If only I could remember the conversations that went along with the memories.  I listened to quite a few songs and have a bunch more to get through.  It's all hard going and all in the name of inspiration for the chapters I need to get through.

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Moroccan Chicken


This recipe has moved to my new food blog.  Click here to be redirected.

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Saturday

Saturday, October 6, 2012








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Uncertain

Friday, October 5, 2012
I've been going over the outline of my book that I'm trying to write (but may be re-thinking) with various people.  I've told stories and rehashed events that I haven't thought about in years.  It's exhausting.
I woke up this morning before anyone else was up.  I'm usually in too much pain to lay there, but this morning I was tired and laid there listening to the rain.  I swear I had a flashback that was right out of the movies.  I was so deep in thought that I actually jumped when my son called my name.  It was like being woken from a dream. 
It's all weighing on me and a part of me wants to forget the whole thing.  Maybe I should write something totally fictional.  The thing is that I've always wanted to do this.  It's just that re-hashing things may change my feelings on people or events I made peace with a long time ago.  It's leaving me feeling unsettled.  I'm hoping if I just drive on and get through this part, it will get easier.  I don't want to keep drifting off, thinking about days gone by.  I don't want to end up with questions that can't or won't be answered and I don't want to be looking at things with new eyes and end up coming to conclusions I never saw coming.  I'm older now - wiser and more cynical so of course I'm going to look at things differently.  I am already feeling unsure of some things and foolish about others.  There is a part of me that wants to go to the others involved and ask questions or look for reassurance, but I just because I'm going through this doesn't mean they have to and then there are the ones that will just close the door on me (so to speak) even if they don't really want to, they will because they just don't have the courage to face me or the things we've been through.  So it would be pointless and futile. I'm left to do this on my own and I just don't know if it's something I should follow through with.

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Changes to come...

Thursday, October 4, 2012
With taking this writing course, hopefully in the coming weeks and months, you'll be seeing changes in my writing and my entries.  I hope to be posting short stories and other pieces that I've been wanting to write, but haven't because I have long forgotten the writer I once was, but let life get in the way.
Here's the hard part - I'm going to have to start reading my own writing.  I never do.  I hardly even check for typos.  With this blog, I write it, send it our there and never look at it again.  It's hard for me to read and I almost never do.  I don't even let my husband read it in front of me.  It makes me feel exposed and vulnerable.  I'm going to have to start editing my work.  Maybe not just yet, but soon.  I just hope I like what I see.

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The Red Maple Tree

Outside the house I grew up in, there was a little red maple tree.  I watched it grow from something tiny to a big beautiful tree and when I think about it, I can't help, but think about how much that tree witnessed in my life and the lives of my siblings.  It watched us take our first steps, form our first friendships, have our first kisses, leave for dances, come home with our hearts broken and watch us leave to start our lives outside that house.
It watched us as children as we rolled down the hill in the yard, learned to ride our bikes, climb trees, twirl and dance, sing and cry.  It watched girls tell secrets, boys that teased and lessons learned.  It witnessed laughter and tears, cartwheels and falls, friendships come and go and my father as he left.  It witnessed loss, love, anger, joy and despair.
It watched on those nights as boys came to my bedroom window, stood in wait when I left with them and kept me company when I wished they'd come, but never did.  It witnessed every ring of my doorbell, every letter arrive, flowers delivered and every door that was closed. 
That tree was there overlooking my life in beauty and I had no idea how much that little tree meant to me until I went back to see that house on a recent trip home and saw that the current owners ripped it out.  I didn't mind the extension that made the house almost unrecognisable or the new color paint or the fence that was built, but the tree was gone and there was no sign of those scenes it witnessed.  My childhood home was nowhere to be seen and a piece of my past was taken away.  I won't go back to see that house because without the tree, it's just a house with an extension, a fence I don't recognise and a yard that just looks bare.



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My first writing class

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Now that Ethan is in school, I have time to do things I've wanted to do, but haven't had the opportunity as a full time mom.  I enrolled in a writing course and the first class was this morning.  I have had both writer's & readers block for weeks now.  Every blog entry has been forced and uninspired because I need to try to write every day, but what do you say when you have nothing to say? 
My class was fantastic.  It was inspiring.  We had a free writing session at the end of the class.  The teacher gave us a sentence to write at the top of the page, set a timer for 5 minutes and we had to just write what ever that sentence made us write.  I was worried that I'd sit there, pen in hand with nothing to say, but I found just putting the pen to paper was inspiring enough.  I started thinking I'd go in one direction and ended up somewhere else entirely.  I just did it.  I didn't over think it - I just wrote.  The end result was writing about a red maple tree that was in my front yard in the house I grew up in.  A tree that holds significance I didn't know it had.  I'll write about that tree later.  Maybe I'll even post what I come up with, but the point is I wrote.  I didn't write about something mundane, I wrote with inspiration and emotion that I haven't been able to find in weeks!



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The 80's Night

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
My friend that had the 80's party over the weekend, read my blog and called me a miserable sod (she's apparently English).  She said I should write a retraction because I ended up having a such a good time.
I am writing my retraction or should I say I am apologising for complaining about having to take part in the fancy dress thing and the 80s throw back party.  It is true, I had a really great time and although I was highly uncomfortable having to dress as I did in my youth, it was amazing how easily it came once I got going.



I changed my costume form the lace and denim look (that I was never a big fan of) and went for a more every day 80's look (it's me in the pink with the big hair). It came back to me in no time.  I started with the brightly colored, sparkling makeup which isn't easy to see in the photos (a look I swore I'd never wear again) and as soon as I put the under eye liner on (a look I haven't had since about 1988), the hair was shockingly easy. I asked my husband (who I had to leave home to stay with our son) to turn on the oven for me.  He asked, 'The oven?? why??' I called back to him, 'It's an 80's hair trick, you'll see..' I dried my hair with my head hanging upside down over the slightly open oven door (scrunching and fluffing the whole time) and before long, my hair was bigger and curlier than it's been in years.  I went back to my room sprayed and teased and sprayed again and all of a sudden, it was my teenage self looking at me from the mirror!  Oh, what an odd sight!  Unfortunately, the photos are later in the night after I got caught in the rain and after I had a few drinks (hence the perma grin - I was laughing in every photo).
The whole night was 80's -  the music, the costumes (I included a group shot of some of the party guests) right down to the Captain Morgan's bottle I was photographed with (unfortunately, that one didn't come out) because what's an 80's night without a little bit of Morgan?
All in all it was a really good night and I'm really glad I went (happy, Ang?)



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