Saturday, May 17, 2014


In 2008, I bought a new laptop. Unfortunately for me, it came with the Vista operating system, which I rapidly learned to hate. It was constantly freezing and simply drove me crazy. One day in mid-2010, I became frustrated with it and slapped my laptop closed with a little too much force. I hesitated to open it and check the screen, but thought I better look right away. I opened it and took a peek. Yep, I had cracked the screen. Well, I thought, in for a penny - in for a pound. So I stood up, took the laptop and dropped it on the floor as hard as I could. Then I jumped up and down on it about 25 times. It felt so good!!!!

After I finished giggling, I grabbed my purse and drove over to Best Buy to get a new laptop. I was a happy woman that night! Later, it hit me that I had quite a bit of writing on the hard drive of the demolished laptop. But I didn't feel very motivated about figuring out how to extract the files. So when I moved from Pennsylvania to Georgia in 2012, I still had the old laptop with me. And when I moved from Georgia to Arizona in 2013, I will had the old laptop with me.

Yesterday, the "new" laptop (purchased in 2010) died. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the screen turned a lovely maroon shade and no amount of Ctrl/Alt/Del would restart the sucker. I even turned it completely off, left it a while and came back. Nope. So off I went to Best Buy again. While I was there, I asked about my old hard drive and my old OLD hard drive. The salesman sold me a hard drive case that I could plug into my new machine in order to download the data off the old hard drives.

I certainly didn't get the job done without a few starts and stops, but I'm proud to say that I recovered all of my old writing from BOTH hard drives. It felt so good! So, last night and this morning, I read through some of my older stuff. I've made a commitment to myself to try to finish some things. I'm great at starting, but not so great at finishing. I have 7 months left in 2014. I'm going to finish something!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

the proust questionnaire

Every so often, I like to challenge myself to answer the Proust Questionnaire. My answers tell me whether I am brave or not. More truth in my answers means I am brave. Hedged or incomplete answers, or outright lies, tell me that I am cowardly. This is an exercise for me more than for you. In fact, I suggest you do the same on your blog, or on your computer, or in your journal. If you write fiction, the questions can also serve to develop a character. Have fun!
  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Sitting in the dappled shade on a reserved lounger in The Sanctuary, a private section available for rent on most Princess cruise ships. The ship is either sailing or docked in a lovely location. I am being waited on hand and foot. I alternately read and doze. Occasionally, I deign to put on clothes and join friends or family or complete strangers in the dining room for a sumptuous meal.
  2. What is your greatest fear?
    Dying alone. If I allow myself to fully explore this fear, I'm able to conjure up the discovery of my body, days after my death. Then I expand the horror to include my sisters discovering the contents of one particular drawer in my bedroom.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
    My ongoing failure to exercise. I'm fatter than I would like to be, but keep hoping I will simply wake up one morning with the body I feel I ought to have.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
    Rudeness to service personnel or customer service individuals AND rudeness from those same people.
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
    Any woman who has claimed her own personal power.
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
    Watching television or reading while housework remains unfinished.
  7. What is your current state of mind?
    Slightly worried.
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
    For entertainment purposes, I often embellish the telling of events that actually happened.
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
    See question 3. I'm also now sporting my mother's double chin.
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
    Any religious person who invests a great deal of energy into trying to force everyone to comply with their particular religious beliefs.
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
    The ability to focus on the needs of others.
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
    The ability to run her own life without concern for what others may think.
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    Have I told you about the time ...
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
    My previous partner, now a good friend. We've known each other since 1975.
  16. When and where were you happiest?
    Lying on my belly on the sail of a huge catamaran as it sailed around the Bora Bora lagoon at sunset, peering down into the water, listening to the steel band play and occasionally sipping at whatever rum concoction someone handed me.
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
    The ability to FINISH at least one novel or short story. I'm a fantastic starter, though!
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    I would be less critical of others.
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    My 27 year-old son sees people as people. He makes friends from all walks of life, every hue and every ethnicity. I believe I had a hand in that and I am very proud of this achievement, particularly since I raised him in rural Georgia!
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
    A gingko tree.
  21. Where would you most like to live?
    Montreat, North Carolina.
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
    A numbered print of The Forgiving Father by Frank Wesley.
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
    Hating any group of people based solely on their belonging to that particular group.
  24. What is your favorite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
    The speed at which I can be reminded of a story which I will need to tell at that very moment OR the speed at which I can be reminded of a song which I will need to sing at that very moment.
  26. What do you most value in your friends?
    Their willingness to listen to my stories (and tell their own) and the ease with which (most of them) sing along when I burst into song.
  27. Who are your favorite writers?
    Anne Tyler, Edith Wharton, Nevada Barr, Marilyn French, Pat Conroy, William Faulkner, Dana Stabenow, Jonathan Kozol, Studs Terkel, Ruth Rendell ... the list goes on.
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
    I have two. Mira in The Women's Room. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
    The suffragettes.
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
    My father and his father for their integrity and huge hearts. People who live on the margins and maintain open hearts and authenticity.
  31. What are your favorite words/names?
    Samuel, koi, sakura, whisk, petrichor, and so many others.
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
    Mean people.
  33. What is your greatest regret?
    Many years ago, I sent someone out into the world because I felt he needed more world experience. I expected him to return to me, wiser and better equipped to handle a lifetime of love with me. He married the next woman he met.
  34. How would you like to die?
    Instantly, with as little fuss as possible.
  35. What is your motto?
    Never put a raisin where a chocolate chip could go.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

special dark torture

I grew up as the youngest of four children. Every Christmas morning, five stockings (four kids plus Mom) were carefully displayed in five distinct locations in the living room. Any loot located in or next to the stocking with your name on it was yours. The stocking contained apples, oranges, tangerines, assorted unshelled nuts, Hershey's Kisses and Hershey's assorted miniature chocolates. Mother would have carefully counted the assorted chocolates to make sure that we each got the same number of each type: Mr. Goodbar, Milk Chocolate, Special Dark and Krackel.

All of the fruit in our stockings went into a huge ceramic bowl on the dining room table. All of the nuts went into a wooden nut bowl which also contained a nutcracker and a pick. But the miniature chocolates were left as individual property.

Now I loved the Krackel and I liked the Milk Chocolate. And I would eat a Mr. Goodbar in a pinch. But I hated the Special Dark. Everyone knew this. As soon as we opened our stockings, I started trying to trade with my siblings to try to get Krackels before they ate them. My brother traded right away. But my oldest sister refused. She knew if she waited, that I would blow through my Krackels and Milk Chocolates and would then be desperate. This would put her in a position to offer a 2 for 1 deal. She would give me one Krackel in exchange for two Special Darks. I would howl in protest, but I would eventually take the deal. Sometimes my Mother would take pity on me and trade me for my Special Darks.

Only recently did it occur to me that Mother could have prevented the whole thing by simply giving the Special Darks to the people who actually liked them. Sigh. Her treachery knew no bounds.