Tag: novel writing

Aspects of Fall

Aspects of Fall

24 September 2017

Fall is officially here!  The temperatures are slightly cooler in the morning and beginning to drop more in the evening.  Here in New Mexico, the sun still keeps us toasty during the day.

I’m torn between which season is my favorite: summer or fall.  I love summer because of the dry heat; I can curl up on a chair on the lawn with a book and an icy beverage and get lost in another world, and I love to live in my tank tops, shorts and flip flops.

I love the fall because of the temperatures, which makes it easier to walk Duke early evening. There’s green chile that I will never be without in my life, and took time to package my own last weekend.  It took me the majority of the day, but was something I felt that I had to do.  Next year, I may buy it already roasted, peeled and cut, but for now, I’m happy with the 14 containers in my freezer, while also setting some aside to eat fresh last week.  I enjoy cooler nights huddled in a chair, wearing a bulky sweatshirt next to the fire pit; it’s the perfect time to play more golf, and, of course, football. I love receiving packages of apples from home, and my aunt sends me the different colors of maple leaves.

Unfortunately, the fall is also a season where every part of the environment bothers my allergies, and I suffer.  I’m not the only one; poor Duke is on allergy medicine for a few months every fall and spring now.

I created new summer traditions, and beginning to create new fall traditions, although every season and holiday now warrants a new tradition.  I am always thankful for friends and family.  I have turkey day plans now, which I am very excited about. I am off the hook for cooking (of course), but in charge of the pies and cranberry sauce. I have a new freedom in December, and plan to spend it with my sister, her husband, and my new nephew ready to enter this crazy world in a matter of days!

Fall is a great season to use for showing (not telling) in writing.  You can see it: leaves changing color, leaves falling off trees, crops being harvested; baseball winding down, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta; feel it: cooler temps; a crisp morning chill that justifies why we dress in layers in NM; hear it: leaves rustling on the sidewalk, on the lawn, being tossed up in the air or in garbage bags; the echo of high school, college, and professional football games being played across the country; taste it from foods associated with the season: apples, green chile, pumpkin; and even smell: there’s a distinct smell in the crisp air, lawns still being mowed, the first cool night that causes fireplaces to be lit and the smell of burning wood infiltrating the atmosphere; green chile being roasted; I begin to bake a little bit more, and I even change my perfume according to seasons.

I have used the seasons and weather to show my readers where characters are in a story.  Weather can certainly play an important factor, as I used the howling snowstorm in my previous (unfinished) novel, Stricken, to set up the turmoil my protagonist endures.  Finishing Stricken, followed by Women in the Library, is my early 2018 goal after I have moved and settled in to wherever my new home will be.

I begin edits on Natalie’s story in October while plotting out my next novel for NaNoWriMo.  Another sign that fall is here, and I’m excited to have another focus once my October volunteer obligations are completed.

Life is certainly exciting, and I am keeping busy.  I am also focused on ways to bring happiness into my life.  I auditioned for Socorro Sings yesterday. Although I didn’t get picked to advance to the December 1 competition, all who auditioned were invited to return to sing a group song on that day, and I just might do it.  I figured I would have a better chance being published than picked from a singing audition, and I gave it my best.  It’s really nice bringing the arts back into my life.

While I’m done watching my team today, I do have the Red Zone and NFL Mix, on the tv in the background.  This is the perfect fall day to sit on the patio and get some serious writing done!

Images below by Karen M. Hellinger, 2017.  Green chile: from roasted to cooled to peeled. This is the good stuff New Mexico has to offer!

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Soaring

Soaring

18 September 2017

This is football season.  I am back to my “fall” schedule, watching my New York Giants play, while paying attention to how the other teams in the NFC East are doing, knowing the tv will be on all day Sunday, Monday and Thursday night until playoff season.  Some days I have the Red Zone displaying, so that I can watch everything.  I contemplated not renewing my Sunday Ticket this season for financial reasons, but it’s really hard to live without it.  I’ve been an avid NFL since I was a child. And now I’m adding college football to my fall repertoire. This is really going to be a fun 2017!

For the first time in 2 years, I returned to an NFL game.  I met up with friends in Dallas to watch NYG lose terribly. I am still perplexed that there wasn’t a bigger focus on offense during the draft.  Our O-line hasn’t been cohesive. I am thankful the defense is strong… Hopefully, they’ll do much better for Monday Night Football.

So, this has been quite a week.  From suffering a minor hand injury the Friday before I left for Dallas, to flying back Monday morning, then dealing with a perpetual 2 year old deciding to tango with a skunk, a concert that was temporarily stopped for 30 minutes due to thunderstorms, the NMT President’s Golf Tournament, Saturday football, preparing green chile for freezing, and Sunday football.

I mentioned going to a concert.  A friend went with me.  I had lawn seats, but I wasn’t going to complain since the tickets were free. It wasn’t one of my top picks, but I wasn’t sure I would have the chance to use my voucher before it expired.  At least it was a rock concert, and at an outdoor venue that I enjoy attending.

I was looking down on the stage, and my friend noticed I was distracted. I began talking about events over the past week.  He pointed out to me that I had always watched football and attended concerts long before I met my ex-husband.  I was claiming to take it all back, but he pointed out that it was mine all along; I was simply sharing my experiences with him.  He’s right.  He does a very good job putting things into perspective when I’m trying to juggle with my thoughts, or attempting to piece things together to make some sense of my life.

Maybe that’s why he says I’m Karen 4.0.  I skipped the phoenix cliché, by not just rising out of the ashes, but jumped straight up from the ground, not even preparing to take flight, to soar. The same friend who once reminded me to be gentle and kind to myself earlier in the year was the first to comment that I am soaring.

I am soaring because I have the support of my friends and family.  I am soaring because I still fight battles (that many don’t see or know about) and I resolved to put “fun” back into my vocabulary and life. My wingspan is wide.  Everyone has a different definition of fun.  My definition includes: being happy, laughing, enjoying time with friends as if it is the last, talking to family; doing the things I love to do, and living life.

And my imagination has gone wild, constantly creating stories and poems.  I have a large file full of story ideas.  Or, the ideas that I capture immediately. I do not like being without pen and paper most days.

The time has come for me to wrap up the story of Natalie and Adam.  This is a good story, and one that should be read. The themes between this one and the next are going to intertwine a bit, so I will need to spend time including a twist to make each one sound exciting and new. Between everything else I have going on in my life, and watching my calendar continue to fill up, I am looking forward to the finale of the story; the sigh of relief with a large smile knowing my novel is as complete as it can be.

New routines.  That’s what I’ve found with the return of the NFL season-new routines and time management. I have music to practice, a novel to write, a poetry book to wrap up, friends to hang out with, a life to declutter, and a dog who is under close supervision after the skunk incident this past week.  I have finally gotten the smell out of the house, so now I am waiting to take him to the groomers to rid of any last remaining smell.  I guess most people would be terribly upset about this type of episode, but I have found myself laughing (with tears running down my face) because there’s nothing I can do about something that is done.  I simply have to clean up the mess, fumigate the house, and watch him closely when he goes out at night. Yeah, I’m still chuckling a little.  This is my first skunk incident.

I do like fall. I look forward to my NY apples to eat and make pies. I love football.  I forgot what I was doing long before I went back to school, but the only thing that matters now is what I want to do every day. I still take things one day at a time, and thankful on the days I only manage to breathe, but the other days that are full of laughter more than makes up for the harder days. This woman is soaring, but still remembers to touch ground every so often.

Photos: Hoffman hot dogs and coneys from NY-the only food to grill while tailgating with friends. Arlington, TX, for the NYG vs Cowboys game, Sept. 2017.

Welcome Back Old Friend: New Horizons. A New Story. A Fresh Chapter.

Welcome Back Old Friend: New Horizons. A New Story. A Fresh Chapter.

10 July-9 August 2017

This is the life.  Liberating.  Free. With no one to answer to.  I’m 100% accountable for my actions, and, did I mention, how liberated I feel? I am returning to old and new ways.

I am writing in places I’ve been, while experiencing new territories.  I’m living.  I’m laughing.  I’m happy, or as happy as I can be given each passing day.  I am in the slow process of healing, but I am nowhere out of the woods yet.  This is going to take some time.  There are going to be so many bumps, potholes, and other obstacles in my way, but if I remember the little stuff is not worth the stress, I can focus on what’s important.

I felt the moment when a connection of (still is) lust was made in January, and that was the final moment I began a long journey. However, this is neither here nor there because this is a new chapter to a new life, new beginnings.  This is the time of reinvention.  I am discovering what I want, what I don’t want; surprised by a few things I’ve done or have planned.  I am in the re-creation stage.  I am rising from a pile of ash.  My voice is stronger.  Fear has left me. I am more determined and motivated than I have ever been in my life to pursue my dreams.

So, let’s talk about fear.  The absence of fear doesn’t mean I’ll do anything.  That’s called a dare, more or less.  One of my fears was basophobia (fear of falling).  I could never get on the Tower of Terror without having a death grip on handles of the seat or against the wall.  I could never get on Soarin’.  I was petrified.  My first trip to Disneyland since my divorce was quite the experience, in a gazillion ways that I can’t even begin to discuss.  I was on the Guardians of Galaxy at least six times.  Arms were up.  With the numerous drops, I felt my butt leave the seat completely feeling the adrenaline rush.  I didn’t hang on.  My second trip, a month later, back to Disneyland was even more interesting.  My last day in California Adventure was an early morning.  Since I had done nearly everything during my June trip, I decided to try Soarin’ again.  Sure enough, I inhaled the experience without hanging on as if my life depended on it.  I watched the scenery unfold in front of me, silently saying, “Been there, done that.  Going to do that next.  That’s on my list.”  This is only one of many examples.  So much more will go into my next work-in-progress; hoping to finish November 2017.

My cousin put it perfectly. People are coming into my life for a reason.  I may not have the answers to why, but I’m not going to question it and simply take it for what it is.  I am learning to love myself, if, for nothing else, to be a better person.  I have a wide network of friends, worldwide.  I am thankful they are a part of my life, and continue to be.

I don’t need a career at this point in my life because I have made writing my career; I just need a job to pay the bills until bigger things happen.  This is my new dimension.  Welcome to my next adventures as Karen Hellinger, aka Karen 3.0.

Photo by  Karen M. Hellinger. 2017.

One

One

12-21 June 2017

Flying solo.  It’s not the first time, but it’s official. There’s more on that later.  However, the moment arrived on June 11, at 3:30pm when I turned in my very last assignment, turned off my computer, closed the blinds, packed up a dog and a human to spend time away on vacation (I still get separation anxiety when I board Duke).

Or, as I call it, the “escape I’ve been wanting since January.”  I was on a mission, a one week tour, and on a self-care program.  I was celebrating three milestones in life, focusing more on my birthday and graduation.  I was concerned about surviving the last three weeks of school.  I was simply trying to move forward one day at a time.  It was the hardest part of my life, but I am thankful I had the trials and tribulations because it gave me a focus.  This is something I’ve spoken of many times.

One.  It was just me.  “How many in your party?”  One.  “How many?” Just one.  Single riders inquire here.  So I did.  “Tell me about single riders.  I’m one.”  A few male cast members fought over who was going to give me a pass as a single rider on the Indiana Jones ride; the third one-upped them and gave me a pass that was even better, and more like a Fastpass.  It was my birthday, after all! They asked about my novel, that I am now calling the most anticipated read of the year.

I spent the best three days of my life at Disneyland, and completed a bucket list: physically spending my birthday at both parks in CA and FL.  I was at Walt Disney World five years ago.  Crazy how time flies!

I did my normal 14 hour marathon. I got the photo I’ve always wanted: an empty Main Street at night.  I ate a little, treated myself to a manicure/pedicure, a nice steak birthday dinner, and discovered the kids menu around the parks was better suited for my appetite.  I lost more weight.  I watched the fireworks on my birthday.  I spent time hanging out in Mickey’s house.  Sitting on the couch, at his desk, shaking my head at the kitchen, and his gardening tool house (still not for me).  It was great…and I forgot to get selfies!!!  Mickey applauded me, and Pluto gave me wet kisses.  LOL.  I want to thank the Green Army Men who taught the crowd how to clap.  I was on the bench finishing two beers before heading back over to Disneyland.  I was drinking when the Sergeant told a guest, “There isn’t any noise when your hands are open, ZZ Top action figure!”  and almost spewed the drink out. He spoke to “ZZ Top action figure” several times during their performance.  I am not afraid or ashamed to laugh out loud, and that’s exactly what I did.

I enjoyed my drinks. I found another new hangout place in California Adventure, in conjunction with the Karl Strauss beer truck.  I had a stalker. I met some new friends, and spent the remainder of my last night in the parks with them.  We met another person who was doing a one-day marathon and wanted to get in a few more rides before he had to leave.  One became three, then four for a while.  AND, there was football talk; three NFC East rivals/fans present: NY Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys.  (The season can’t come soon enough!)

I had the best time with me, myself, and I.  I was told if anyone could pull off Disney alone, that it would be me.  And I did it.  I did it all.  I would do it again. In fact, I’m itching to go back.  Disneyland is a short flight west.  I am also looking at a 2018 Walt Disney World vacation, before I say goodbye to New Mexico.

I have stories.  Then again, as a writer, don’t we always?  I spent time with my in-laws and helped a very special young woman celebrate her first major milestone graduating from high school.  I am proud of her.  She’s seizing an opportunity to pursue her dreams.  We’ll be friends for a long time, and I’m still proud to call her my niece.

If I can replicate a Carthay Manhattan (there’s still something missing), then I can do something with these lemons that are still waiting to be pulverized into the perfect drink.

I miss my patio days.  I miss writing from sun-up to sun-down.  I miss the days waking up late (because sleep still eludes me), not having to go into work because I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I couldn’t perform efficiently.  Several of my family and friends might be relieved to know the drinking has slowed down, and I’m rebuilding my bar.

There are new chapters ahead, but I can’t get to them yet until I finish writing the last ones to wrap up this journey.  I have learned a few more things about myself during the week away.

And for my thesis?  Well, I have approximately 50,000 more words to write to complete the novel, and I’m still writing.  Now, I call it work and make it a priority to write every day.  I have some back stories to insert, and a few clarifications to make.  It is an epic story, and a crossover where women’s fiction meets speculative fiction.  There is female empowerment.  There are moments of paranormal activity.

Stories, journeys, lemons, individualism, an empowered woman; a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a friend, a new friend; a stranger, a peer, a colleague, a former student…a writer.  I’m not going anywhere, and, as I mentioned, there are a few more chapters remaining here.  More importantly, there is nothing wrong with being alone.  There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.  I am far from the latter.  I encourage you to embrace being alone sometime!

Stay hydrated and cool!

Featured image: Stunning New Mexico sunset.  Below: Walt and Mickey.
Photos by Karen M. Hellinger.  2017

File Jun 21, 11 44 56 AM

 

Crashing

Crashing

9 June 2017

It’s another month of spending time on the patio, writing, reading, listening, learning, growing, and finishing school.  This is week ten!!!  Two long days away.  It’s short because today is Friday and Sunday is the end of this journey.  It’s long because I am working on my thesis defense, and other components of my second final project for my English class, and revising my research paper for my 20th Century American Literature class.  The good news is the bulk of the writing is done, and I can focus on revisions.

The fence that divides my yard from my neighbors has been in disrepair again.  It’s been propped up for several weeks now.  Nothing says vulnerability as much as a fence that’s on the ground, leaving a wide-open gap exposed.  The rabbits loved it, as Duke and I would discover them eating the grass on the lawn in the mornings and evenings.  However, I felt unsettled.  Add this to the wide range of feelings and emotions that hits me at any given moment of any given day; it’s not pleasant.  But, I am no longer responsible for something major like this.

Thursday was a chaotic day.  I felt like I walked into a storm, feeling the power of the waves crashing against me.  Because of a growing strength (on many levels), I felt the force bump me, knock me around, and try to throw me off my feet.  It didn’t last anything more than a minute before I realized what was really happening.  I walked up to and through the waves, walking past the sound of them whipping and whirling, making contact and impacting rocks and the shore.  The shock factor that followed was watching me walk away. And I didn’t look back as the door closed behind me.

The next storm that soon followed was more like a shipwreck.  I braced myself.  I observed the storm, taunting me to with a destructive force, chiding, searching for any loose items that could easily be manipulated and pulled away by the brute force of wind and water. I survived, with the boat intact, but slightly battered and bruised.

A third storm of waves was released later in the evening.  I stumbled. I phoned a friend, discussing the storm, as I was in the moment, and we talked for hours.  It is nice to have friends to turn to at all hours of the day, but I still spend the worst parts of the night piecing together moments of my life alone. I still attempt to wrap my head around the train wreck that hit me at full speed not so long ago.  The short duration, and the lightning speed of actions to immediately follow, makes it nearly impossible.  But, I think I found a book that might help me understand more.  We’ll see.

Sleep still eludes me.  The adrenaline continues to pump through every crevice of my body.  The big crash is coming, but, as my friend and I agreed knowing who I am, it will occur in smaller waves, not being as dramatic…which will be rather refreshing.  But it is coming.

My revised thesis was turned in this past Sunday.  It was complete, as far as the assignment dictated.  But, to begin querying an agent or editor it still needs approximately 50,000 more words.  This means the story is not over yet!  A few edits were made, including changing the name of Nick to Adam.  It seemed to suit the character better.  He was fleshed out a little more, enough to satisfy the final thesis.  What I discovered was his back story that will be written as part of the 50k words to turn it into a complete work of fiction.  I will admit there was one moment when I thought about the 138 page thesis, pitching it as-is.  It is a great product of how hard I’ve worked for 15 months, and writing it in less than 7 months. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby as a short novel, and the book is brilliant!  I had a rock star moment thinking mine could be just as brilliant, but the reality is if I pitched it today, it would be too short.  It still needs more.  I know exactly what I have to do, and will not waste any time writing to reach “The End.”

I am battered, beaten, torn down a little, vulnerable, uneasy, exposed, uncomfortable.  However, I am freakishly strong, independent, learning how to walk through the forces of water after walking through fire, empowered, and finding the right tools to deal with the extremely bruised psyche.  The fence is temporarily repaired, and even single boards have been reattached, so I feel safe once again. I  am focused on finishing the last remaining days of my education strong.  The final chapters of this journey are almost written to its own completion.  The bushel of lemons is on my counter again as I try to make the ultimate lemonade.  “YOU CAN DO THIS” remains on my computer monitor as I force my way through the storm that’s not quite over yet.

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Empowerment

Empowerment

2 June 2017

It’s evening here. I have put on a sweater, and sitting outside (no fire) writing this.  The patio has become my favorite writing place.  Duke sits close by wondering what I’m doing outside, while watching for the ever-elusive bunny to invade our lawn again.  The bunny was just mere steps away from the front door yesterday morning and tonight when I finally got home.  His reaction to bunnies is that of the dogs in “The Life of Pets” as they are easily distracted when they see a squirrel.  Hilarious movie.

Several thoughts flit around my head, along with a gazillion topics to create new blog threads.   I remind myself to stay focused.

I was originally going to write about being fragile.  I had a small issue at the concession stand at the movie theatre.  I only wanted to grab a small snack and the smallest Diet Coke (no ice) they could give me, and watch the movie.  Emotions ran high, but I maintained my cool as I was humiliated in front of lines of people. What I was asking for was something simple.  What I got was disrespect as a customer.  I took my money back.  I was late for the previews (I love previews!) and found a seat.  Tears streamed down my face, and I was surrounded by strangers, unable to escape.  I pulled my sunglasses down as I silently cried. Sometimes some of the easiest things will ignite a fire of emotions for a woman in the middle of a divorce.  Especially for a woman who has been through hell and back, having an affair flaunted in front of her for six months, and I think it goes all the way back to Lausanne, Switzerland, before Thanksgiving now.  I resumed normal viewing, without my sunglasses, when I composed myself. Towards the end of the movie, I heard women around my crying, but my tears had run dry…for a bit.  (I swear, Kleenex and Puffs should have had me as their spokeswoman this year!)

I saw “Wonder Woman” today-opening day.  When I wrote my post about her, and superheroes, a few weeks ago I honestly didn’t know there was a movie!  I have been so out of the loop: I don’t know what’s going on in the world; I don’t know what’s going on in the state; I barely know what my friends and family are up to.  I have been in a shell, perhaps to protect myself, but to also keep my focus on me and my studies.  I have spent too many days these past two weeks hiding in the dark.  This morning was no exception.  I didn’t open the blinds, but they’re not room darkening, so Duke had some light; just not as much as I would like.  Poor little guy.

Wonder Woman.  Ever since I was very young I’ve identified with her.  Now I know why.  The cinematic rendering, along with the actress playing a very strong female role, demonstrated traits that I possess.  I question my strength.  Where did it come from?  How did I become so resilient?  Diana, Princess of Themyscira, was born with a power. I have used her bracers to deflect gaslighting.  I have used her shield to protect against waves of blame, agendas, words that were spoken to pierce through the skin.  I have been fighting a battle that some women could never begin. I am the voice that many wish they had. I continue to fight battles nobody sees, or realizes what I am going through. So many battles fought alone, and could only be done alone.  So many battles I dare not speak of.  So many battles and I’ve had to choose which ones to fight.

In the movie, Diana’s mother tells her, “the world of men don’t deserve you.”  This particular line resonated with me. It still runs through my head.  I know why.  I think I’ll keep it there for a while.

I knew Wonder Woman as Lynda Carter, and I watched the tv show.  Gal Gadot is only the second WW I’ve known, as I didn’t know there were others.  I’m looking forward to seeing her in “Justice League” and, hopefully, a sequel to her own movie.  I even bought the soundtrack, something I generally don’t do, and have it playing as I type.

This movie was an inspiration to women of all ages.  The special effects were really neat, but, as a writer and a fan of the character, I was looking beyond.  What she discovers in the end is what I’ve lost.  However, the resilience to keep pushing forward, to never give up, and do what you must are strong character traits that is part of my character make-up.

I don’t know how I’ve survived, or gotten this far, or how I even got here, but my therapist, attorney, friends and family tell me it’s because of a very powerful strength I possess.  I identify with Wonder Woman.  I know somewhere, out there, there is at least one other person who identifies with her, too, or wants/hopes to be as strong as I am.  Just as little Diana watched her aunt, and all the other Amazons, in training, aspiring to their level, I know there’s a certain niece out there who is astounded by all that I do, and aspiring to her own level.  If Wonder Woman was such/is a role model for me, I can be that same role model for my niece.  I can push beyond the disloyalty that is not a marriage, say “NO MORE” by taking a stand and voice for someone who has a hard time trying to find her (or his) own voice.

Those damn lemons are still waiting to be mixed; the boundaries keep growing bigger and longer.  All of my previous posts seem to be coming together, intertwined, as I look at finalizing week 9.  Thesis revisions.  Empowerment is also a theme in the novel I am writing.

I left the theatre feeling empowered.  Something I needed.  What I discovered, once I reached my vehicle after the movie, is for another thread…

 

(Featured image: https://www.123rf.com/profile_lightwise’>lightwise.

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Memorial Day: On the Patio Because of Our Military

Memorial Day: On the Patio Because of Our Military

29 May 2017

Today is Memorial Day.  My family and friends have served in the military.  Some have been lost in combat.  For all those lost, we continue to remember their service to our country on this day.  We adorn their graves to help remember and honor.  We decorate our loved ones graves because plants and flowers begin to grow (and survive, as it stands in my NY hometown).

And THANK YOU to those who continue to serve.

During my travels, I see military personnel in airports a lot.  If they’re not pre-occupied, I will step out of the way, trail off from my path for a moment, to thank them for their service. I don’t do this for me, and I have arrived late at my gate when I stop for a few seconds, but the plane is still loading; I do not care.  I do this because they deserve recognition.  They deserve a standing ovation.  It’s respectful, and an act of good citizenship.  I appreciate what they’re doing for our country.

Because of them, we feel safe flying around the globe, driving across state borders, going to concerts, football games, and more.

Because of them, I can sit on my patio in the mornings with a mimosa.  I can sit on my patio in the afternoons with a glass of bourbon, strong-add ice; write, study, and feel safe in my home and backyard. I can sit on my patio in the evening with a steak- overcooked- potatoes not grilled up correctly, but, yet, I have my glass of wine…as I continue to write: this blog, tweet, revise my thesis, finish reading a novel, compile my poetry book, and have the freedom to take Duke for a walk any time I want.

THANK YOU AGAIN!

********************************************************************************

I feel it’s important to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. I feel it’s equally important to take one minute out of our lives (again, we have our freedom) to thank those who continue to serve. As a civilian, I may not understand what they go through, especially when called for duty, but to stand up and volunteer to keep the U.S. safe and protected is a massive burden to carry…while being an honor.

Which leads into a different type of discussion because my literature class this term has been focused on 20th Century American Literature.  It was not what I expected.  We have been examining how literature, from poetry to fiction, has changed since WWI.  Add in WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Beats Generation, and (now) Post 9/11.  That’s a ton of information to consume and filter…especially as I am waging my own personal war; some of this shit gets too heavy for me.  And I do not mean shit in a disrespectful way.  We just finished The Yellow Birds, a novel by Kevin Powers, about the Iraqi war.  Since I just finished a short paper on the unreliable narrator, I won’t go into my soapbox.  What I can say, however, is the books chosen for the course, and the contents contained within, brings forth a new perspective on literature and its evolution over wars and movements.  I was hoping for discussions about Gatsby; perhaps a tie-in from Victorian literature, but that was not the case.  Instead, I battened down the hatches (here goes the clichés), braced myself, and rode the torrential waves and storms that came at me for the past 8 weeks.

Yeah.  This is week 9.  This is the official thesis revision week. Something happened at 12:15am, the turned into paper writing a 2am, and giving up by 2:30am (I think).

I began Memorial Day with an 8am hour-long conference/Skype call, but it was okay because it was with new and old friends.  Any friends that enter my life these days are warmly welcomed.  We had a good discussion, and ended with laughter.  Although, I am curious to know how intimidated a male colleague, from another country, with zero understanding about American football felt as two women drove their own narrative about the game, fantasy football, the players we like, the teams we follow, and plans to attend an NFL game together…

Shall I put that into perspective for you again?

Females conversing about all aspects of the NFL.  Male from another country with zero knowledge-asking for a short version about the purpose of the game, etc. (perhaps something less than the Cliff Notes version).  Females talking about their favorite teams.  Male caught in between two females being enthusiastic about the NFL.  Male just shakes his head.

😊 This may be a long 5 months for him as we continue discussions leading up to a conference, and I begin to take over conversations at our committee meetings specifically involving football.  Yep, just counting the days until the NFL season returns!

I have spent many, many mornings on the patio.  Drinking coffee and writing in the morning.  Writing in the afternoons.  Reading mid-afternoons.  Drinking wine and writing in the evenings.  Reading/writing into the late evenings.  Simply enjoying the crap out of a home that consumed my inheritance.

I have returned to work, but it is now short-lived.  I will be taking a leave of absence again (my friend calls it a sabbatical! hah), through June.  However, because I am still waiting for the perfect lemonade cocktail to be whipped up, I am looking at longer.  For the first time in my life, I am only focused on taking care of myself; re-discovering who I am, who has been hiding behind glass walls, and who wants to break out. I may not necessarily have to decide on a set career at this point in my life, because I want to be the next mega-author, but I need a job that will help pay the bills, cover insurance, ensure extra biscuits, treats, and pay annual medical bills for Duke, and…make me happy.

This is my time, my year, my focus to get myself back into rebuilding a new system, and I dare anyone who wants to try to stop me!

We are free because our military protects us, keeps us safe.  The next time you see someone in a uniform, take a few seconds out of your schedule, even as you are rushing to your next gate, to stop and thank them.  Treat them to a cup of coffee if they’re behind you in the drive-thru of a coffee shop.  A random act of kindness goes a long way, and we can sure use a lot of kindness these days.  Lastly, keep remembering those who died sacrificing themselves for us to live in a world we have today.

Duke thanks our military, too!