Category Archives: Storytelling

Happy Anniversary to B&B

Last Friday was my parent’s 62nd wedding anniversary. Remembering this brought on a feeling of sadness that I haven’t felt since they passed on from this life.

My dad, Babe, passed almost two years ago now. My mom, Bonnie, followed suit one year, one week, and one day after that.

None of us can claim with any scientific certainty that heaven exists. But I believe there is another dimension where our souls land once our earthly bodies cease to be.

It gives me comfort to envision my parents together in this dimension.

I like to think that Mom is not in any pain whatsoever. That she can walk and move with ease. That Dad’s mind is all there. That he doesn’t feel angry or confused or frustrated with himself. That in this other dimension he exists as the person he was prior to the fall where he hit his head. The hard hit to his noggin that eventually led to a diagnosis of dementia.

He wouldn’t be holding Mom’s purse, because she doesn’t need one anymore.

That was one of the things about these two, Bonnie and Babe: he accepted her shopaholic tendencies while holding her purse from store to store.

Bonnie and Babe made an impression on people wherever they went. In many ways, they were opposites. In some ways, they were two of a kind.

They were social creatures. They loved to have other people around to “BS” with. To feed. To take care of. To travel with. To celebrate with. I’m grateful for that aspect of marriage they modeled for me and Hubs.

Bonnie and Babe; separate, yet together, circa 1970 or thereabouts

I didn’t know it till I was 14 that Mom and Dad met when my brother was just a toddler. I loved that my Dad had love in his heart for a boy who was not his own. He married Mom in 1958 and legally adopted Craig shortly thereafter. I suspect that he faced judgement about it from my Grandma Pearl, but ironically she grew to love and depend on my Mom more than probably anyone else in our family.

I love that Bonnie and Babe were hard workers. They always had so much energy and together they created so much for the enjoyment of so many.

I love that they were spontaneous. One day, out of the blue from my perspective, they decided to start a business. Despite working full time and then some, Dad agreed to Mom’s proposition that they buy out our small town’s women’s clothing store. It had been a bar years before. They decided to call it “Bonnie’s Clothes Bar”.

With Dad taking care of the books and Mom doing running the store for several years, I was able to attend college without any of us taking on any debt. That is something they were very proud of.

Bonnie and Babe were always very physically affectionate with each other. I remember cringing as a pre-teen while Dad would lovingly call Mom “Mama Buns” (she had an ample ass for much of her adult life). They held hands on the regular.

I remember a story they told about their first trip to Europe. It was an extremely hot and humid day in England (or France? I wasn’t present). They were waiting outside for a ride to take them to a museum or something. Dad spied an ice cream truck and made a bee-line for it. Came back to Mom and sat down on a bench next to her.

Dad was savoring the sweet cold deliciousness and Mom asked for a lick. He obliged. Within two seconds she was asking for another lick. He again obliged. A few more seconds pass and she’s asking again. He said something to the effect of “Why don’t you get your own” to which she responded with “Now Babe, I just wanted one more lick”, then proceeded to berate him for his complaint.

This pushed Dad over the edge. He took the remainder of that ice cream cone and smashed it on her chest, creating a cold, sticky mess all over her top. I wish I could have seen the look on her face. The face she made just before the two of them erupted into laughter.

My Mom and Dad’s song. They have gone down in history when we want to see how true love should be.

Passwords and Other Secrets

Recently I changed my primary work password to “GOODJuJu!!”

And I don’t care that you all know it now. What on earth would you do with it anyway? Break into my office, type it in and read my totally uninteresting emails? Go ahead, knock yourself out.

I think this is the best password I’ve ever come up with. Every time I type it in, I remind myself that my daily goal is to spread light in all my interactions with others. Not like I achieve that goal on the regular. But I try nevertheless.

Since I’ve shared my work password, it makes sense to follow the thread of spilling secrets. Tell you about the stuff that I’ve been doing to gain clarity for myself as an ambitious and creative writer.

Don’t get too excited. It’s all really just baby steps. But I think they still count for something.

First secret: I partook in David Sedaris’ Master Class online for Storytelling and Humor. Truth be told, I signed up for this class because of the “storytelling and humor” part-not so much for David Sedaris. I can’t say that I don’t like him, I do; it’s just that I knew of him but hadn’t read anything he has written. Still haven’t, actually.

Signing up for this class was something I did to help me learn in more detail how I can improve my creative writing. My ability to tell humorous stories that people can relate to and appreciate. It was a purely selfish investment that I decided to make in myself. And I have no regrets.

I had have great interest in interacting with the “community” within this online class. I’ve introduced myself, entered a piece of my writing in a contest even. The prize in this contest is David’s feedback on your piece. I think it’s safe for me to assume that I’m not going to win. And this is not me feeling sorry for myself or me being fake humble. My life is too good and blessed for that shit.

I’m not a great writer. I might be, someday. Or not. Either way, the joy writing gives me will not be overtaken by feelings of self-doubt about my ability to grow my readership on this blog or elsewhere.

I would estimate that it took me 3 hours, within the span of 5 days, to decide which piece I should enter for this contest. That’s how I found “Grammerly”, because in order for my piece to be accepted for consideration, it had to be under 600 words.

“Grammerly” also informed me that my piece was at an 11th to 12th grade level. So clearly, there’s room for improvement.

After doing a bit of editing on the piece I chose, I gave it a couple of days, then went back in to see the one comment made on my piece. It was “I feel like there’s too much information in this piece. I’d like to see it pared down to it’s bare bones”. He was spot on. I veer into the rabbit hole of verbosity in both my speech and my writing.

Whether or not I go back in, make some major edits and re-submit is up in the air. I honestly don’t know if that’s even allowed or appropriate. Or maybe it’s expected?

For now, though, I just want to share what struck me most from being a student of this class. The following is taken directly from the notes I made to myself as I participated in this class and worked through the accompanying workbook.

David’s “work spaces”. Loved the imagery. Made me think that I could write about my ideal work space. Like a “she shed” type deal.

Tuning into your surroundings will open you up to moments that could become stories and the parts of your world that belong in your writing.

“I don’t like to write about people I don’t like”. I concur, David. Neither do I. So I won’t. Period. Hopefully this declaration doesn’t come and bite me in the ass later.

David has a conversation with every person in line at his book signings. He also writes thank you letters. He’s such a nice boy.

Take incidents and stitch them together for a story. I love the creative reference of stitching. Also, following threads. And rabbit holes.

Paint a mental picture in a readers head. Go to readings?? David said he learned a lot from doing this. A lot about what not to do, that is.

Now onto my second secret (or is it my third? That’s subjective, I suppose): During the time I was taking this class, I received an email announcing spring 2020 dates for the Listen to Your Mother shows.

Let me back up for a sec: I first heard about this annual event in 2016 from a local-ish “mommy” blogger named Stephanie. Essentially, LTYM is a franchise that is locally produced in various cities in the U.S. Primarily women get up on a stage and read original pieces on the theme of “Motherhood”. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales goes to charity.

I instantly loved this whole concept. The idea of others sharing their personal stories about motherhood, a topic dear to my heart and which I have much to say about, really intrigues me. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, someway, somehow.

So, with David encouraging me to do readings, I started considering applying to be part of the cast. I congratulated myself recently when I realized that I could simply click on the “word cloud” I have featured on my blog’s front page and read all the posts I have written on one particular topic.

But then after reading the few posts I have published that featured “Motherhood” and then proceeded to view video clips of past LTYM speakers, I was overcome with self-doubt. I mean, if this is is all I’ve got to offer and these are examples of my potential “competition” why the hell should I proceed?

Now is the part of this post where you might expect me to say something along the lines of “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” or “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Both of which are 100% true.

However, while I’m not closing the door to auditioning for LTYM, I’m also not necessarily doing it this year. At least not with any of the pieces about motherhood I have published on this blog.

I think it’d be wise to heed David’s advice: attend readings. For me, it’ll be the LTYM show this spring. See what it’s like. Take notes. Make some connections.

Baby steps, right?

My last blog post for 2019: What are you ISO?

Man, I love myself a good acronym. Almost as much as a finely crafted mantronym (for those of you new to this blog, that’s a mantra that presents as an acronym).

The first time I saw “ISO” it was on a work email. One of the other social workers was “ISO” something or other. Probably a way to get rid of bed bugs, because that is the type of shit we had to help our clients with on a disturbingly regular basis. I had to read the body of the email before I understood that “ISO” was “in search of”.

My personal theory is that we are all “ISO” pretty much all the time. It might be a lost sock or cell phone. It might be recommendations for a dog walker. It might be for the best cheesecake recipe. Or it might be something deeper; like meaning, purpose, or peace. Or maybe a little bit of all of the above and more.

This song comes to mind as I’m writing this. I happened to hear a truly awesome version of it recently as I was tooling around in my CRV. Here it is:

I have gratitude for the fact that in this life I have found what I was looking for: a happy marriage, a place to call home, two awesome adult children, a grandson, a dog, and a career that have all brought me a lot of happiness.

But there’s still more I’m ISO.

What might that be? Well, a whole bunch of things honestly. But what it boils down to more than anything is balance.

Balance between writing/doing/connecting is what I’m searching for in 2020. Maybe I should christen 2020 as my year of Clarity. I need to avoid the “overwhelm” and remain rooted in the present, in my writing life, professional life, and personal life.

One of the major take-aways for me from 2019 is that working is highly important to me. Working at my part time job running the food bank. Working on my writing; improving my blogging skills. Working on strengthening the connections I have with the people I love and making new connections with those people I have yet to meet. I like staying busy, moving forward, accomplishing things.

What I know for sure about 2020 is that it’s incumbent upon me to work even harder that I did in 2019. Up my game at work. Find ways to improve myself professionally. So that I can contribute more to the team, to our clients, to our mission.

Another thing I know for sure about 2020 is that I will need to hyper-focus on my writing via this blog (and otherwise, but that is currently a batch of baby WIPS that will need some careful coaxing to show themselves to the world).

Suffice it to say: I have much to say about a variety of things-from my personal history, my current reality and the (hopefully) fabulous future. I have stories to tell. I have more to say about some of the topics I brought up on this blog in 2019. I have more to do and say in and about the present. And I have a freaking ton to say about the future.

While all of the above is true and right and good for me personally, I recognize that I can’t blow off taking care of myself. Because in real day to day life of the year 2020, there’s gonna be obstacles. Some I am fully cognizant of and others will be new and uninvited. So while I don’t anticipate becoming a self-care guru (because really, we have so many of them we can refer to on the internets and in real life if we are so fortunate), behind the scenes of this here blog, I will be aiming to practice a healthy amount of it.

I sincerely hope you stay tuned.

But first, please indulge me and answer this question in the comments:

What are you ISO in 2020? This particularly curious mind would love to know.