THAT AWKWARD STAGE

It is almost autumn in the northeastern United States. Two more days.

There are no more bright green leaves splashing against the hot summer skies.

There are only tired, slowly drying, brownish remnants drooping from transitioning boughs.

There are no beautiful crimson, orange and yellow leaves speckling the trees. Not yet.

Nature is at one of its awkward stages. The in-between time. The time between fond remembrance and eager anticipation.

I hate this time of year. It’s like being eleven again. Not good. Not old enough to have a boyfriend or girlfriend—but too old to play doctor with any friend.

C’mon, nature. Get on with it. Fall!

 

TEARS ON THE WINDSHIELD

It’s August, and parents all over the country are crying.

Some are crying tears of joy…finally summer is over and the kids are heading back to school.

Some are crying tears of fear…their “babies” are heading off to Kindergarten.

But the most all-encompassing tears are being shed by parents of young adults who are moving into dorms in preparation for their first year of college. — Their tears cascade over their cheeks in an unexpected gush of joy, pride, anxiety, anger, awe, and yes . . . fear.

Joy for their offspring, as they see their beaming smile while they unpack in the closet posing as their new home.

Pride for producing such an obvious genius compared to all the other losers wandering the halls, unable to find their assigned rooms.

Anxiety about all the sage advice they worry they may have forgotten to impart . . . oh, and about that unusual looking character covered in tattoos and piercings who was part of the welcoming committee for their child’s dorm.

Anger due to frustration with the roommate’s parents, who insist their child must take the lower bunk because of ‘back issues.’

Awe, as they take the campus tour given by their brilliant child, who remembers the name and location of each building after only visiting the campus once before . . . six months ago.

And finally —

Tears of Fear,  as they slump into the front seat of the family car, preparing for that emptied-soul, heartbroken, lonely trip home, and then wrench their necks as they try to get one more glimpse of their “baby,”  . . . which raises the fear they may have to visit the chiropractor at the college medical facility before they can hope to be able to drive back home . . . where they will be able to cry, sniffle, and wail noisily, without embarrassing their very own newly-minted college freshman!

 

 

Photo Credit: Sue Panzone Rosica, Belmont University, Tennessee

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BABE IN THE WOODS

I have a confession to make . . .

I’m freaking out a bit.

You see, I’ve agreed to be one of several authors at a  local venue next week for a book signing! What the hell was I thinking?

I have personally witnessed book signings (by others) about four times in my entire life. Two of those times were for my indie author husband, where my participation involved ironing the table covers and making sure there were cookies for his “fans.” Not exactly activities I could include on my resume as “book signing experience.”

What I do know:

Bring 10,000 copies of my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia”                                                                  Wait a minute . . . did I say 10,000? . . .  I meant 10.

Bring a pen (that works). On second thought —better bring two.

Bring a table cover (freshly ironed, of course)

Bring the clever(?) bookmarks I spent hours designing and re-designing to give away to anyone who gets within three miles of my table. (I do know how to make paper airplanes!)

Bring business cards — to make it easy for reps from those big publishing houses and movie moguls to contact me day or night! (Think positive…think positive…think positive)

Bring a stiff upper lip —so I don’t dissolve into a puddle of disappointment if no one shows up — or worse, if people show up, but no one buys my book…or, God forbid, doesn’t even talk to me.

Oh damn! I almost forgot —bring cookies!

 

Seriously folks . . . if any of you, Dear Readers, have  helpful  advice to get me through this horror show called “A Book Signing,” I will be checking back every day for the next week to read your comments.

It’s so weird — I keep hearing Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” in my head. Sorry to leave you with that ear-worm!

 

TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Sometimes when writing, you are required to go back to some point in time in your own past to recall a scent, a touch, an emotion, or perhaps a scene, in order to convey an experience your readers can relate to.

When you do that, it can be difficult to relive a moment that evokes the gut-wrenching pain of an emotionally draining event. There are also the memories of embarrassment or shame that somehow have to become a series of words forming sentences on a page, which draw your readers into another world.

In reality, it’s a black and white sketchbook of word-pictures drawn from the author’s most intimate life experiences.

This grueling process could explain the far-away stare emanating from that dreamer, whose morning beverage is getting cold next to their laptop perched upon the corner table, in the coffee shop where you stop every day on your way to work.

Don’t try to disturb them. You can’t. They won’t hear you. They are not in this world. They are creating new ones for you to enjoy.

(Featured image:  Memory Extraction Spell – Harry Potter)

 

BELOW “THE NECK”

Boss cartoonExcerpt from my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the Bloody Fifth in Philadelphia.”  http://tinyurl.com/zbtz6an

1907—A glimpse at some of the bosses…

 

The Vare brothers—George, Edwin, and William—were dominant figures in the city of Philadelphia. With their start as sons of a South Philadelphia pig farmer, they all got involved in contracting with the city and had their hands in local politics from a young age. George, a produce huckster, drew his brothers into rubbish, garbage, and street-cleaning contracts. Called “slopcart salesmen,” they dumped the collected garbage along the Delaware River.

George Vare got elected to the State Senate, where he played a considerable role in making Boise Penrose (“the big grizzly” as he was known by his admirers) an important figure by the time Thomas Smith arrived in Harrisburg.

William S. Vare was the current recorder of deeds, having been re-elected in 1904 and now again in 1907. In this position, he had influence in the surety business of the city. It was Bill who arranged this meeting for brother Ed with Tom Smith.

All strong Republicans, they had deep roots in the densely populated area of Philadelphia below South Street and all the way down to “the neck”—home of the Philadelphia Naval Yard.

 

The more things change…the more they stay the same. Sad, but true.

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MIND GAMES

Ever wonder why many old people get along so well with little kids? I think I’ve found the answer!

Young brains are constantly absorbing everything in the world around them for the first time. Old brains have stored so much they get to the point where they have to release some of what they’ve accumulated, or their heads will explode.

The logical thing for the elderly to do is hang out with little kids and shower their tiny brains with old people’s excess creativity. Problem solved.

“Psychology Today” in 2009, provided this more scientific blurb, for those of you who like sciencey-type explanations…

“Finally, intelligence studies indicate that older individuals have access to an increasing store of knowledge gained over a lifetime of learning and experience. Combining bits of knowledge into novel and original ideas is what the creative brain is all about. Thus, having access to increased internal warehouse of knowledge provides fertile ground for creative activity in the aging brain.

Many seniors are already making a mark for themselves in creative fields. Consider Millard Kaufman, who wrote his first novel, the hit book Bowl of Cherries, at age 90. Then there’s 93-year-old Lorna Page, who caused waves in Britain with her first novel A Dangerous Weakness. Following in the footsteps of Grandma Moses (who did not take up painting until in her 70’s), former patent attorney John Root Hopkins turned to art in his 70’s and had a showing of his work in the American Visionary Art Museum at age 73. There are numerous examples throughout history of the creative power of the aging brain: Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal lens at the age of 78, Thomas Hardy published a book of lyric poetry at age 85, Frank Lloyd Wright completed the design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York at and 92, and Giuseppe Verdi wrote Falstaff, perhaps his most acclaimed opera, at the age of 85.”

This explains, quite clearly, why I wrote my first book and started this blog at the age of 152!