Trying To Be Brief While Serially Lost Part 1

And being brave – combining two prompts on one post!!

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

What a perfect prompt to describe my relationship with my doppelganger! She was my BFF in college and for quite a few years after. It happened when I told her I was pregnant with my second child. She was the first person that I told after taking the pregnancy test when I got knocked up with my first child seventeen months before. I was 35 at the time. That’s how close we were and how long we had been that close.

My two children had come way too easily when I was way too old to get knocked up while she was having way too many problems reaching the same state. She had been married for a few years and had already had a couple of miscarriages. She and her husband decided to use a surrogate but they were going to pass off this pregnancy to his coworkers like it was hers! Clearly, she was jealous of the ease with which I was popping out kids while she was going to these great lengths to do the same. She was hurt that I couldn’t understand her pain and suffering. That’s how and why we didn’t keep in touch for the best part of 20 years.

I got an email from her on my birthday this year. It was sort of a catch up personally and professionally and suggested we might try to meet in person again sometime. It took me four months to figure out how to respond. When I did, it was with a 596 word email plus a 1,020 word attached letter.

We have been promised that Daily Post will let us know when it’s time to write parts two and three. She and I have been trying to have a phone meet-up for the last 2 months. Parts two and three may be written as a result if the meet-up ever happens so stay tuned for additional brief updates!?

This post is ONLY 400 words. Success!

Commit to a Writing Practice Part B – 3 important songs!

1. Roll With It – Steve Winwood

“Just roll with it, baby!”

This is my philosophy of life. It was initially a self-defense and sanity maintenance mechanism.

The title became my theme probably about halfway through my ten year tenure at Shinmaywa (California), Ltd.. I started my full time job there as a Senior Buyer following a one year period of unemployment. SCL provides supply chain management and quality assurance services to support ShinMaywa Industries aircraft production and other special programs in Japan. I had worked on the Space Station program under contract to McDonnell Douglas for three years before that. ShinMaywa (Japan), SCL’s parent company, had a contract from McD to build some major commercial aircraft subassemblies. At that time, I think SCL was hiring just about anybody who had any tenure in any capacity at McDonnell Douglas on their resume, whether that experience was directly transferable to their requirements or not.

During my time at SCL, I bought (or tried to buy) a mind-boggling range of products. I also learned a lot about the Japanese way of doing things, and it was nothing like what I’d expected! They were inefficient and disorganized. They were also some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. Before I adopted “Roll With It” as my theme and philosophy, I had taken to calling my work at SCL “The ShinMaywa California Adventure, an E ticket ride every day!” This was an homage to Disneyland, and anyone who grew up in Southern California before 2000 or thereabouts would know the basis for these references. What I specifically meant was that I never knew what I would be working on or fixing or trying to locate on any given day when I walked into that place. It was fun and exhilarating, much like an E ticket ride at Disneyland, for quite a while. At some point, though, I just couldn’t handle that much fun and exhilaration AND STRESS on a daily basis anymore. That was the point at which I decided it would be better for me to “just roll with it, baby!”

At about the same time, my life outside of work was getting more unpredictable and stressful, too. So, amazingly, I decided that my entire philosophy and way of handling life in general, from that point forward, would be to “just roll with it, baby!” This approach has served me well ever since and I can highly recommend it.
2. Just You and I – Crystal Gayle and Eddie Rabbitt
http://youtu.be/WZ8NWiG3h4Y

This one is a rather traditional choice as it was the song to which my husband and I shared the first dance at our wedding reception. If you click the link for the video, you’ll see the lyrics. My favorite line is in the chorus.

“We’ll be all right, just you and I” is how I felt then, when I was 34 and knocked up (fortunately by my husband), how I have felt through all the trials and tribulations we have gone through (I won’t say shared because we haven’t always) for the last 25 years, and how I feel now that we are finally enjoying our retirement together.

3. Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel

A simple line that’s repeated in this song is the most important affirmation that two people in a loving relationship can give to each other.

“I love you just the way you are.”

It’s what I say to myself about my husband when he’s grumpy and doesn’t want to go out and do something fun with me that I want to do and he doesn’t. It’s what I said to myself when he was drinking too much before he checked into rehab. I imagine he may say the same thing to himself when I’m talking his ear off and probably what he said to himself when I cried all the time for a year or so before I started taking the right meds.

It applies even when one or both or you are not the same as they were when you loved them the way they were before, earlier in your relationship. We have changed, but we love each other just the way we were, just the way we are and, hopefully and maybe most importantly, just the way we will be.

I would tell my children that it’s the promise they will make when they speak the traditional marriage vows, and that it helps to remember that promise and those vows before they think about giving it up or leaving. I know it’s helped me.

Commit to a Writing Practice Part A – 3 important songs?

I have no idea how the description and title of this prompt is even remotely related to writing about the three most important songs in my life and what they mean to me. So I am going to split this into a two part post with relevant tags on each.

The prompt told me to try free writing and gave a bunch of advice intended to let all my fabulous ideas and wonderful words just flow on to the page. Unfortunately, my self-evident truths will not allow me to accept any of this advice because it all runs counter to who I am and how I write. Here’s each point of advice and how I feel about it.

• Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you’ve just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying.) No, that’s trying to make sure that what I’ve said might make some sense to the reader.
• Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.) If I don’t edit as I write, the post will get too long and convoluted. I wouldn’t want to read a post that was too complicated or too boring.
• Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.) I draft in Word which does this all for me.
• Lose control. I have, but more around the number of posts I want to write, not what goes in each post.
• Don’t think. Don’t get logical. I’m a German Taurus so I have to do both under the laws of the universe.
• Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.) Gotcha! I’m good with this one. Anonymity helps.

The prompt goes on to say “Just let go” and ends with this quote from Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator

“Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.”

Borges’ first published book included a series of non-fictional essays and short stories, using fictional techniques to tell essentially true stories. Borges also wrote poetry, essays, screenplays, literary criticism, and edited numerous anthologies. His poems embrace the same wide range of interests as his fiction, along with issues that emerge in his critical works and translations, and from more personal musings.

My self-evident truth about the relation of Borges’ advice to my writing is that, since it’s more appropriate for fiction writers and I write non-fiction, it’s not related at all! The philosophical term “Borgesian conundrum” is named after him and has been defined as the ontological question of “whether the writer writes the story, or it writes him.” I can get behind that thought in some of the non-fiction stories I write. Thanks, JLB.

A Room With a View (or Just a View)

Where shall I go? What shall I do?
If I could zoom, where would I go?

Maybe I would go to that room where I could find Scarlett, Rhett and a cast of thousands.
That room might be a good old fashioned library, filled with books and only books
Just books of all titles and sizes, subjects and authors, old and new, true and not.
I picture the library in one of those films that I watch over and over again.
That’s “Ever After” with a young Drew Barrymore and a young Dougray Scott –
So young that the movie makers were not afraid to give us a hint of the young man’s manhood in his white tights and codpiece!
There’s a spiral staircase in a many-windowed tower where all the walls are bookcases
That’s light and bright
With inviting nooks in which to sit and read and includes one of those great and precarious ladders that slides across the tall bookshelves

Come to think of it, maybe I would go to that other room where I could find Scarlett, Rhett and a cast of thousands
Any, preferably, old movie theater would likely do.
There is only one snack bar. It’s on the ground floor along with restrooms that are fabulous architectural monuments unto themselves.
All accessories are heavy and ornate, especially in the screening area.
Like the old and now demolished Carthay Circle theatre in Los Angeles, where my dear and now departed Dad took me to see Gone With the Wind for the very first time.
I miss them both.

carthay circle exteriorcarthay circle interior

Holiday Traditions of A Blended Faith Family

Traditions: we’ve all got ‘em, especially around the holidays.  What is it about my family’s traditions that keep them going strong for my children in our blended faith family?

I was raised by two liberal Jewish parents.  The Hanukkah tradition in our home included lighting the menorah each night, then opening one of the presents that had been arranged around a three foot tall foil covered Star of David my dad made as a substitute Xmas tree.  The presents grew in size (and probably in value) over the eight nights of the holiday.  I think one year we might have broken Mom down and got a tree, which we euphemistically called a Hanukkah bush.  Every year Dad put the blue and white “Xmas” lights in the window.

My spouse was raised as a Mormon and was married a couple of times to at least semi-Mormon women.  He brought a lot of leftover ornaments to our marriage.  I was pregnant when we celebrated our first Xmas together.  He was so excited and told me that our baby had to have a Xmas tree, even if she wasn’t here to see it yet.   I went along with it when he went out and purchased a new fake tree and put it up in front of the window in his house.   He pulled out the recycled ornaments and lights and we decorated it together.

Fast forward about 3 or 4 years.  We now have two daughters who are well acquainted with both their Jewish and Mormon grandparents and know that the beliefs of each are nowhere near the same.  In the interim, every year, we put up the new fake tree with the recycled ornaments.  By this age, the kids are in pre-school and other places where making Xmas ornaments is standard practice.

So we expanded the tradition by adding a menorah, and then two menorahs so there would not be fights over who would light the candles.  I continued my family’s Hanukkah gift-giving practice starting on the first night with equal or equivalent dollar store items for each of my girls and ending eight nights later with equal or equivalent department or book or electronics store items.  The kids made new ornaments and decorations at school and scouts every year.  We also started to buy ornaments as souvenirs on family trips so over the years the new ornaments replaced the recycled ones, which were falling apart or breaking anyway, and the fake tree became a very real part of our holiday traditions.

Later, decorating and undecorating the tree were added as family activities.  Our family, being non-traditional in many ways at this time of year, did it a little different than most I knew.  Dad and Mom would take the tree out of the box and build it.  Then Dad and kids would string the lights, followed by Mom and kids unpacking boxes of ornaments and decorations, trimming the tree and the house. The whole process, including participants, happened in reverse at the end of the season.