Monday, November 24, 2014

The Twelve Must-do’s for Thanksgiving


(To be sung to the melody of the 12 Days of Christmas.  Good luck.)
1.     The first must-do for Thanksgiving: buy a pair of sweatpants in one size larger.
2.    The second must-do on Thanksgiving: run both parades on the TV even though no one will watch them.
3.    The third must-do on Thanksgiving: watch all three NFL football games (or take a nap while they are on).
4.    The fourth must-do for Thanksgiving: create four meals with the leftover turkey.
5.    The fifth must-do: eat five servings of your favorite dish: stuffing, potatoes, pie, whatever.
6.    The sixth must-do: eat six pork tamales to offset all that turkey.
7.    The seventh must-do on Thanksgiving: watch seven holiday specials (parades and football games count also).
8.    The eighth must-do: take 8 shots or 8 squirts of any or all of the following: booze (tequila), beer, wine, canned whip cream.
9.    The ninth must-do of Thanksgiving: if on the ninth day, you still have leftovers in the fridge, throw them away, plastic container and all. Eww.
10. The tenth must-do: give $10.00 to your local food bank for each person living under your roof.
11.  The eleventh must-do: say Happy Holidays to eleven family members or friends before the end of the day, especially those who live alone or live far away.
12. The twelfth must-do on Thanksgiving: learn how to say Thank you in twelve different languages and use them all today. Here’s a starter:
Shukran (Shoe-Krahn) - Arabic
Xie xie (Syeh-syeh) - Mandarin
Merci – French
Danke – German
Efharisto (ef-har-rih-stowe) – Greek
Mahalo – Hawaiian
Toda (Toh-dah) – Hebrew
Grazie – Italian
Arigato – Japanese
Obrigado – Portuguese
Gracias – Spanish

Asante (ah-sahn-the) - Swahili 

Monday, November 17, 2014

He calls me Goddess and I call him HoneyBunch.

Our eighth anniversary is right around the corner.  HoneyBunch and I were just discussing how our eight years together have been the easiest years of our lives. Eight years is a good amount of time, yet it has sped by. It feels like we have always been together, yet we were married for long amounts of time to others and we have grown children to prove it.
HoneyBunch is my true soul mate; the kind one reads about in romance novels.  He is the true love one writes about in journals. He is the knight in shining armor discussed in legends. What makes him so easy to love is that he is a true gentle man.
To say I love him is not sufficient. There is no word in our language to describe what this man means to me. He is my friend, my lover, my husband, my critic, my comfort, my true other half. 
 He has never done one thing that would make me lose my trust, my respect, or my affection for him, but he is not perfect.  He does sometime annoy me or cause me to roll my eyes in embarrassment or boredom.
He forgets to replace the toilet paper when it is his fault it got down to nothing but the brown cardboard roll or he takes the last bit of coffee in the 12-cup pot every single morning when he knows I never get a second cup. He never just answers my questions. Oh no, he has to first go through long, long historical or political explanations before surrendering a simple yes or no.
Yet, he is irreplaceable in my life. It is an honor and a joy to be his wife.
Sometimes I wish we had met when we were younger so we could have forged our lives and careers together, raised our kids together, shared more time together.  I wish I could brag on the double digit, multi-decades we have been together instead of . . . eight, but he reminds me that our lives had to travel different paths before we could appreciate the rich present we have with each another now.

I love this man and for the first time in my life, I feel comforted in that love. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

When Did I Lose My Groove?

I used to be hot.  I could walk into a room and the music stopped, heads snapped around to get a better view, and women knew they had been outmatched.
Yes, I used to be sizzling.  Even when the pounds started pounding and the years started whizzing by, I still had my groove.
I was a Ten before the world even had the decimal system.  (Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture.)
Then all of a sudden, I lost my groove.
Instead of “Hey, Baby,” winks, and ogles, I started getting a lot of “Yes, Ma’am,” frowns, and respectful regards. Instead of men blocking my path to bug me about my phone number, men rush to get the door for me because I remind them of their grandmothers.
I went from Groovy to Grandma in a matter of years.
I blame this durn gray hair.  I should never have stopped dying it.  I was going to “make a statement.”  I was going to “age gracefully.”  I was going to “accept the inevitable” with a smile.
Well, pooh.
I want my groove back.  I want someone other than my dear husband and loving children to think I am beautiful.  I want someone other than my grandkids to see me at a distance and skip for joy that I exist.
Sure, sure.  I still get an occasional leer.  Some old gent will notice me at the doctor’s office, but I used to get that kind of look for the sway of my hips and not because I saunter in without a cane or a walker.
I want my groove back and while I am wishing for the impossible, I would like to lose twenty lbs off my weight and ten inches off my waist. 


Monday, November 3, 2014

Choosing when to Show and when to Tell

In the movie Men in Black, the agents have a pen-like gadget that causes amnesia.  I could have used one of those this past week. 
Two years ago I wrote on how to show and when to tell, so I wanted to be able to reference the older post. In it I gave five pointers on how to “show not tell.” That advice turned out to be erroneous.  Yup, it was wrong. I wish I could take it back, erase it from cyberspace, claim an alien abduction, but alas, I can blame no one else for that post.  In all my eagerness and ignorance, I wrote it and I apologize.
Now, not all of it was bad advice; it just wasn’t what it advertized.
I suggested that a writer could ensure “showing” by eliminating the passive voice and limiting the use of adverbs in the manuscript.  That, folks, is not “showing;” that is a key to strengthening any kind of writing.  It makes for well-written sentences, meatier passages, and stronger manuscripts; and it strengthens both showing and telling sentences.
Showing is more complicated than that. 
It is the difference between Ben Stein reading the nightly news and Carol Burnett and Company acting it out.  It is the difference between a one-hour discussion with Siri on your cell phone and a one-hour discussion with a two-year-old while you chase him through the house.
Both could be entertaining but too much of one without respites of the other would be an overload. A good writer chooses what to show and what to tell.  The showing passages must impact the manuscript, not just overdo it. 
Emotions should always be shown and not told.  When someone is glad, sad, or angry, the reader should experience the emotion without it being mentioned anywhere on the page.  The senses are involved. Comparisons are created by newly created, fresh similes and metaphors.
Broad, non-specific adjectives should be eliminated.  Everyone experiences “fuzzy, cool, weird, scary” differently, so the reader needs to be shown exactly what it means to feel these descriptors. (The only time these words should be permitted is in dialogue, when they are a part of the character’s daily vocabulary.)
Setting must be shown when it is integral to the tone or the mood of the story.  Think about the decrepit, lonely bedroom that belongs to Ebenezer Scrooge, or the drab diner where Toula Portakalos ages along with the Formica in My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding. Description of the setting is a must when the setting is as important as its characters.
But not all action has to be “shown.” Stage directions where the characters sit, stand, walk to the door are important but they must be stated as subtly as the words in dialogue tags, like “said” or “asked.”
Action that moves the plot forward is shown. Descriptions of the actions along with the emotions that trigger them have to be elaborated. It doesn’t have to be all car chases and bullets flying, but important moments that affect the characters or the plot. Take the scene with Scrooge and Christmas Present where abundance surrounds the ghost and Scrooge asks about the future of Tiny Tim. Dickens introduces us to the two orphans Want and Ignorance, and we feel the remorse Scrooge feels. We are left to hope Scrooge changes with the experience.
*     *     *     *     *
I hope this post atones for the previous one on this subject.  I deleted the other post but maybe I should have left it up on my blog so that the two could be compared and contrasted, and the improvement could be noted, but I am too ashamed.

Instead . . . look into the light - 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Oldest

My brother was a year and nine months older than I was.  According to my parents he was supposed to be my playmate and my protector.  He considered me nothing more than his pesky younger sister whom he could blame whenever we got into trouble with the parents.
There were times his protective, big brother nature did prevail and he would rescue me from boyfriends who did not know how to take no for an answer, and I, in turn covered for him with our old-fashioned, unhip parents.
People often thought I was the oldest.  He was always so youthful looking and so handsome.  I looked mature at the age of twelve and never outgrew my bossiness.  
He went off to Vietnam and I went to college and that was where our paths started to go separate ways.  We both married within two years of each other. 
His life was fraught with pain, the after effects of Agent Orange and PTSD. He went through three marriages and struggled to win back the affection of his two sons.  My life was full with two divorces, a career, and three, amazing and forgiving children.
We resembled each other the most, even physically, so when he was diagnosed with Diabetes, I knew it would soon show up in my make up as well. His was more severe.  Like my mother and my other three siblings, he went straight into pills and injections, but from the very start, he stubbornly refused to care for himself. He had always been thin, so maybe he thought it would not affect him as much.
He went into a diabetic coma and died on December 26, 2012.  He was 64 years old and nine months old, and at the end of this month (October 2014), I will reach the same age - 64 years old and nine months. It still surprises me that he is gone.  He was my protector, my front line between me and mortality.

I will officially become the oldest among my siblings, but I would rather have my brother.