Monday, March 26, 2012

The Day I Became Diabetic

As a child I watched how my father’s family coped with diabetes.  My grandmother’s brothers and sisters all had it.  The moment “los tíos” went into the hospital and started losing a foot or a leg, it signaled the last fight against the disease.

My grandmother never had it, neither did my dad.

My younger sister discovered her legacy at an early age – Diabetes, Type 2. She kept it from our parents for a long time, trying not to worry them.  Then my mother had it. My youngest sister and both my brothers followed.  It was everywhere around me.

They are all savvy as to the course it takes.  They share information.  They make jokes when they dig into a taco or fork into a dessert.

It seemed to skip me. It made sense.  I resemble my dad and paternal grandmother.  Maybe I was the lucky one?

My internist gives me meds for cholesterol and blood pressure.  She recommends a low-dose daily aspirin to keep strokes and heart attacks at bay.  I take these meds because I am “borderline” in all categories.  I take these meds to ward off my double shotgun genetics. 

Until last week.  The day I became diabetic.

It would be inappropriate to write the words I’d like to use here, but know this – I am angry, very angry.

I took precautionary measures – meds, exercise, diet, yet I didn’t escape my genetics.  I eat Kale, for mercy’s sake!

Honestly, I didn’t become diabetic last week.  It started a long time ago, before I was born.  Along with the pride I have for my rich family bloodlines, I also inherited its burdens.

Goodbye donuts.  Hello Nikes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Zeugma I Am Poem

I am all ears, all thumbs, and all the better for it – it keeps me honest.

I wonder if words are out and iPads are in, what will replace that one day . . . how many days are left, if the Mayan Calendar is right . . . is it right that Big Brother uses our social media to monitor our words . . . if words are out . . . ?
I hear.  I also smell, see, taste, and touch.
I see through, see into, and see the point, but not right now – gotta see a man about a dog.
I am out on bail, out of words, out of money, and out of time. Over and out.



I wanted to play with a zeugma – a language device that plays with words by linking them together in an unexpected pattern.  The words within the sentence are not of equal meaning or usage but together they form a “fun” sentence. I also needed a form where I could use this device repeatedly, so I decided on a poem.  I used the first stanza of a formula poem called the “I Am” poem. I did not stick to its formula other than using the first two words in each stanza: I am, I wonder, I hear, I see, and I am.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Author’s Voice: An Acquired Taste

It is difficult to pinpoint what creates an author’s voice in a piece of writing, but it is identifiable.

It’s a flavor, a fingerprint, a signature.

It takes more than knowing all the ingredients to create it.  It takes lots of practice and an innate skill.

When my grandmother passed away, we all tried replicating some of her signature dishes.  We knew the ingredients.  We even knew the measurements. Though they turned out good, they weren’t exactly like hers. We lacked her skill, her “fingerprint.”  

When my three-year-old grandson declared Leslie Patricelli as his favorite author, I understood completely. He was identifying with her topics (genre), subjects a little one could enjoy; and he loved the way she said it on paper (voice), using words and images he understood or could envision.

I feel the same way about my favorite authors.  

In good writing, the words and sentences voice the author’s images. There is a cleverness, a freshness in the detail and in the manner how it is said. We get the metaphors.  We feel the emotions. We look forward to the nonconformity and the rebellious non-cliché. We form a camaraderie with the author’s personality. The pacing and the plotting are at our speed, and the mood creates a tone our blood pressure can handle.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Turning Pro

Back in the late 80’s, a friend lent me a novel.  She said it reminded her of me.  Flattered by that comment, I read it that weekend. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Up to then, I’d read only the latest “serious” book club selections, and this was my first ever, light romance.

But, I was offended that my friend saw me as the protagonist – a plump, haggard, divorcée, raising three kids on her own. (Where did she get that idea?)

I didn’t know whether to thank her for introducing me to something new or ban her from my Christmas list.

She kept feeding me more romance novels on a steady basis, so I soon forgave her.  Somewhere in there, I had the epiphany all English Majors have at least once in their lifetime - I could do this.  I could write a novel.  How hard could this be? (Hint: Notice the date of said epiphany.)

Cut to present time.

I have written several things over the last three decades, some for a by-line, some for money, and some simply for the glory of vying for a contest title; but the novel has evaded me. I have a two-drawer file cabinet filled with copies of past attempts as testimony.  The only person to have read them is me – and with good reason.

Two years ago, I eased into the task again.  First, I wrote several children stories and took a deep breath.  Then I attempted a collection of short stories that was a bit longer in length.  Finally, I plunged into a novel of 70,000 words.   

Here I sit, two cases (yes, cases!) of paper later.  Only God and my angels know how many ink cartridges, pens, and notebook paper it’s consumed.  My “simple, little” woman’s novel is almost done for the (I am not exaggerating) sixteenth time. 

So when someone says they are “writing a novel,” don’t believe them until you actually see it in print.  One, it’s not as easy as it looks. Two, it’s just a hobby until it’s published.