Nailed it!

Hello Friends,

As we get ready to say goodbye to summer, I want to take a moment to reflect on the past few months.

Last year, I wrote a woeful post on how I did summer wrong. And I did. I let it pass by with nary a nod of notice.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed this summer immensely. In the two months since school let out for my children, with the help of gorgeous weather, we’ve managed to grab Long Island by the horns and ride the hell out of it. It was the summer of “Sure!”

“Mom, can we go golfing?” Sure!

“To the beach?” Sure!

“Fire Island?” Sure!

“Splish Splash, twice?” Absolutely!

camping

Parties? Sure!  Movies? Sure! Camp nights on the sand? Sure! Jones Beach concerts, ice cream outings, berry-picking, barbecues and bonfires. Sure! Sure! Sure!


summer

Long Island is an amazing place to be – and summer, it’s most boastful season.  This year, I took full advantage of it’s offerings and as a result, I can say goodbye without regret. There are still plenty of things we didn’t have time to do: Montauk, the Hamptons, wineries…We’ll never get to all of it, but that’s okay –  next year.

Wouldn’t you get sick of chocolate if you ate it every day, month after month?

Okay, bad example. But you get my point.

Now, I know for many of us, September brings on a whole new set of stress: teachers return to work, students to school, racing to catch the bus, homework woes, forms and tests. It’s imminent and there’s nothing we can do about it. The upside? The spectacular colors of Autumn are coming for us; apples are ripening, the turkey is getting fat, holiday shopping, shows and songs are around the corner. The fireplace is waiting! Let’s bring our clothes bins out, say so long to the summer dresses and hello to that warm, cozy sweater you forgot you had. Let’s do it – let’s look forward to all of it!

The beauty of Long Island is evident all year. The change of seasons: foliage, pumpkins, the serene blankets of snow, raindrops, new leaves, bunnies and bird calls eventually brings us back to the sultry, relaxing, entertaining days of summer.

I can’t think of a better way to get there, or a better place to be.

Happy Labor Day!

xo

 

A theory on my chances as a writer

Some time ago I read Jeanette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle, a phenomenal account of her childhood raised by two eccentric characters more colorful than any fictional personalities I’ve come across.  I was amazed by her story and would highly recommend the book to anyone.

While immersed in her unfortunate tale, a theory began to form in the back of my mind as to why I’m having such a difficult time making my mark as a writer.

When I finished her book, I put my fledgling theory aside and continued to read and write whenever I could find the time. I wrote a manuscript, edited the hell out of it and started to send out queries.

This month, Wine Not Read (book club no. 2) chose Jenny Lawson’s mostly true memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.

 Among other things, the book is filled with unbelievable anecdotes about Jenny’s father.  I’ll give you an example: The man woke his young children from sleep to show them a “puppet” he made from a dead squirrel he found on the road. His hand was inside the animal’s body, its blood dripping down his arm as he playfully tried to convince the girls that it was a “magic” squirrel.  Oh yeah, there are plenty of others..

Jenny’s book, though very funny, is sort of like reading a 300 page blog. However, what the book did was reignite my fledgling theory and I know why I am having such a tough time making it in the literary world.

My life was too easy.

How can I possibly write a story filled with angst and longing when these emotions are foreign to me?

In The Glass Castle, Jeannette’s parents’ refusal to work left Jeannette and her siblings forced to endure a poverty-stricken nomadic lifestyle that pushed the boundaries of my imagination. The children often scrounged for food, sometimes living on popcorn for days and were shlepped across the country from crappy home to crappy home, leaving any personal belongings they might have amassed along the way, just so their mother could cram all of her painting paraphernalia into the car, a dream she refused to give up though she had an underutilized teaching degree and no money.

I lived in one clean, moderately-sized house my whole life, sat at the same table, day after day, where a balanced meal was placed before me. Had my own room, white wicker furniture, a bed displaying an array of stuffed animals, full closet of clothes and toys. How in the world would my comfy, stable upbringing help me with my career?

Lawson grew up among ducks, goats, raccoons, the occasional bobcat and an assortment of petrified stuffed animals (her father was a taxidermist).

I had a de-clawed housecat named Misty. Really?

My one shot at a painful experience came at age eighteen when my parents decided to split. However, their divorce turned out to be a severe disappointment as they were so amicable and accommodating, it was easier to endure than their marriage which I thought had been pretty good.

I called my mother to tell her my failure at reaching my dreams was her fault, to which she responded, “I’ll never apologize for being a good mother and for your information, you’re also a wonderful parent.”

Great. I’m ruining my children’s chances at a creative future too.

What I am is a monster.

To my horror, my father vehemently denies my failure, insisting someone out there will realize my true genius and incredible talent. “Just be patient pumpkin.”

My normal upbringing led me to meet and marry my husband, a clean cut, corporate suit with a spotless record, further fueling my disdain for my predicament. We live in the suburbs and drive a family sedan. I’ve reached the pinnacle of ennui! Who wants to read about a happy, well-adjusted person who had all of her needs met, the love and support of family and friends? Where is the trauma?

Maybe I can exploit the lack of support I’ve received from my husband who refuses to beat me, cheat or spend all of our savings in order to help me. When I complained, he said, “Don’t worry, you’re not that well-adjusted.”

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen preparing dinner when I heard some strange thumping noise coming from the front yard. I looked out my window to find six boys of varying ages, amid a paused game of Can Jam, shaking their groove thing along with an older guy in a cowboy hat who had his car door open in my driveway and latin music blasting as loud as all get-out.

When the boys eventually lost interest and returned to their game, he sashayed into my house. This man, my father, referred to as “Peepah Rico”, or “Peepah-with-the-hat” by his grandchildren, was once a dirt-poor jewish kid from Brooklyn named Howard. Now, he’s a latin dance instructor who refers to himself as Rico Suave Salsa.

“You see the way the kids look at my car? Everyone gets it confused with 007’s.” He said to me.

I looked again out the window, at the small silver Tiberan with purple pin striping along the sides, the name “Rico”, painted on the doors and a license plate that said “SUAVE” with a silver chain border.

“I can see how that can be confused with Bond’s Astin Martin.”

“People take notice.”

I looked at the man in his straw cowboy hat, his black pants, black shirt with white diamonds and bone-white shoes.

“Yes, I’m sure they do.”

He stayed for dinner, entertaining our boys, as usual, with stories of his time in the army (6 week basic training camp that somehow has garnered more stories than any veteran in the Great War could muster) and left after half a cup of coffee and a healthy piece of pie.

As we cleaned up, I noticed Rico left his hat behind. I dialed his number and got his machine: You’ve reached Rico Suave Salsa, the sultan of swing, the maestro of meringue, the lord of latin dance… Leave a message.

I hung up and looked at my husband. He rewarded me with a raised eyebrow that spoke volumes. Maybe I do have a little crazy in me..

If nothing else, I’ll never run out of stories.

Why YA? Why Not?

I’m a middle-aged woman who loves to read, as evident by my participation in two book clubs, Lit Ladies and Wine Not Read. My literary tastes run the gamut from historical fiction to biographies to mysteries and almost everything in between.  However, lately I’ve been finding myself gravitating toward Young Adult (or New Adult) literature. And I’m not sure why. I guess it started back when I jumped on the Hunger Games bandwagon and got quickly sucked into the trilogy. A young girl kicking ass in a futuristic, bleak world run by overindulged, wealthy bad people who watch children fight to the death for sport? Who doesn’t want to read about that?

hopelessEarlier this year, I read Hopeless, by Colleen Hoover, on the recommendation of a friend. It’s about seventeen year old Sky, who has basically been kept in a bubble by her devoted mother who home-schooled her until her senior year and kept her from any technological gadgets (sort of like living in the seventies). Sky meets hunky Dean Holder who is quickly taken with her and eventually she is forced to realize who she really is and that she has been living a lie. I couldn’t put it down. It grabbed me by the heart and took me for a ride. It was awesome.

Perksofbeingwallflower1Then I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky,  a coming-of-age story told through letters, written by socially awkward freshman, Charlie, who is experiencing, among other things, teenage angst, molestation, death, fitting in, acceptance..yada, yada, yada. Loved it.

In June, I hosted Wine Not Read and chose The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, mainly to accommodate the many teachers among us who needed a quick read because they had to deal with the end of the year festivities. Not to sidetrack, but in my next life, if this writing thing doesn’t pan out, I’m coming back as a gym teacher. Sweats all day? Summers off? Pensions? These people are brilliant.

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsI digress. I read The Fault In Our Stars and thought, this is YA? At seventeen, I never once had a conversation that would have compared to the ones shared between Hazel and Augustus, two well-read teens in cancer remission who fall in love. In fact, I was never in their league. A typical conversation between my friends and I at that age (and I wish I were joking) would have revolved around Taco Bell, who was driving and what we were going to eat, which would explain my single status at that time. I promise things got better, but I’d be lying if I told you I still didn’t make a run for the border every now and then.

Anyway, the story was sad and beautiful. The whole group read it and agreed.

slammedI was on vacation in July with the family, waiting for the library to send me my next book club pick, Reconstructing Amelia, when I decide to spend some more time with my friend, Colleen Hoover. I read Slammed, the story about eighteen year old Lake, who suddenly lost her father and is forced to move across the country so her mom can work. She makes it as far as her new driveway, still in the U-haul, when she meets Will from across the street. They connect immediately. He takes her on their first date to a poetry slam and Lake is hooked. So am I. Of course, Will and Lake find out quickly they can’t be together and I can’t turn the pages fast enough – they HAVE to find a way! I read the story in two days, thanks to Florida rain and a husband who teaches Texas hold em to two impressionable teens. I even tweeted Colleen and told her how much I enjoyed the story.

What is it about the YA books that has me so enthralled? What does it say about me?

At the pool, a girl who couldn’t be older than sixteen planted herself on a lounge chair clutching The_Book_Thief_by_Markus_Zusak_book_coverThe Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. It took everything I had not to exclaim from the deep end how much I enjoyed that book. Death is narrating, I wanted to yell to her, how cool is that? I refrained only to save my fourteen-year-old son complete embarrassment.

Instead, I tread water trying to convince myself I’m not regressing..You loved Unbroken, I silently pointed out, The Great Gatsby, Catcher In The Rye…State of Wonder for Pete’s sake. Thoughts of abandoned Anna Karenina collecting dust on my bookshelf crept into my psyche. Pull yourself together!

Floating on my back, the sun on my face, I decided not worry about the types of stories I enjoy. The fact is, I enjoy them. Isn’t that enough? Don’t we all have enough stress in our lives? If I want to read a YA book, then by God, I will. Kids are smarter than we were anyway. I still have so much to learn.

Bear With Me…

Okay, so this blogging thing is still new to me. I’m trying to understand all that is available here and since I’m not technically proficient (yet), it might take some time. So, you might not see many pictures or you’ve probably already noticed different fonts for each entry.  In short, it’s a work in progress.

We went out with a few couples to dinner the other night and I mentioned that I had started a blog. In true male fashion, before any alcohol was consumed, the guys immediately started with juvenile potty talk:

Really? I just dropped a blog before I got here. 

I’m going to drop a blog right after dinner.

If the food’s not good, I’m gonna blog all over the table.

Our landscaping friend said he wanted to start a blog too. He’ll call it “Mulch…I put that shit on everything.”

Just gives you an idea of the kind of support I’m getting. Can you feel my pain?

There are a lot of us out there. And I will do my best to differentiate myself from the hordes of people vying for your time. I’m still ironing out my plan, but I am confident this will be an entertaining venue.

I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate you stopping by. I hope you leave with something more than you came with and that you visit again. And let me know where you are. I’ll do the same.

In the meantime, onward I go. Wish me luck.

Kim