A moment of thanks…

I visited with a new client yesterday afternoon and as she told me her story, I realized we have much in common, but really are living in two completely different times. From a young age she’d known that she would pursue a degree and career in journalism. And, after receiving her education, she sought out positions with the local newspapers, realizing quickly that while she possessed the same qualifications as some of her male counterparts, as a woman she would be hired as a “journalist” by title only, and would spend her days fetching coffee, answering the phone, and filling the role of secretary or receptionist, instead of writing the hard hitting news stories she so yearned for. Thus she pursued a career in education, becoming an elementary school teacher, and later a reading specialist.

Flash forward to myself, a single female, 60 years later, who’s decided to press pause on her technical education after receiving her Associates Degree, and instead of pursuing book smarts in the form of an astronomically priced Bachelors Degree, is earning her education through the school of life – working a few months as a freelance reporter for the local newspaper, a monthly columnist for a local entertainment magazine, published in a magazine that holds as an institution in most American homes, and all the while writing whatever I’d like, about whomever I’d like, with the dream of having a book of my own resting on the shelves of a local bookstore.

Thank you, to those that have come before, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath… Those who faced the struggles they met head on, because of you, I’m able to do me.

~ m

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…and nothing…

Well, this is my last full day relaxing here in sunny southern cali and as if doing it’s part to help me prepare for the transition back home, to rainy western Washington, the clouds have made an appearance here in the valley. It’s still a gorgeous morning, and one that I’m hoping to use as a productive one, seeing as how I’ve done so little writing while I’ve been here. I embarked on this trip with lofty plans of an utterly carefree relaxing week, spending time accomplishing nothing of consequence with my best friend, catching up on some sleep, reading, and brainless television, od’ing on vitamin d, and of course going home with a full manuscript written, edited, and ready for publication – the words magically flying from my fingertips due to my amazing new surroundings.

I’ve accomplished everything, save the last. I’ve been sure to dedicate time each morning and evening to sit with my laptop, open a blank document, and wait… After too much impatient waiting, I’ve found myself opening the files of pieces that I’ve been working on for the past year and for whatever reason feel like there is just one or two small things missing before they’ll be complete. Sadly, I’ve yet to stumble over any of those missing pieces either, but I have reread them, a few times, and while disgusted with them at times, I’ve found that for the most part I have a great sense of pride over the pieces that I’ve created in the past year. It was after all just about a year ago now that I attended my first writers conference, in beautiful Coupeville, Washington – and whether it was the location, the like minded company, the intuitive leadership, or perhaps it was just the right time for my stories to be told – but I returned home with what would be a prize winning short essay for the Reader’s Digest Magazine, as well as solid starts for 4 other essays, and best of all, a newfound confidence in the power and validity of my own “voice.”

I suppose I was hoping for the same kind of magic on this trip. Believing that perhaps removing myself from the hum drum of my daily routine, the chores that are constantly beckoning, and the phone that seems to be always buzzing; that I might allow myself a moment to breath, and to purge another piece or two of those thoughts, memories, dreams, and fears that I’ve been carrying.  While I haven’t been writing, I have been reading and just finished re-reading Bag of Bones by the infallible Stephen King – a story that I suggest for anyone and everyone, whether you’re looking for an escape from reality, a good fright, or in my case, inspiration and reassurance that even an award winning novelist created by the master, experiences (and overcomes) writers block every now and again.

Alas, the day isn’t over yet, and either way, this has been an amazing vacation spent with a kindred spirit and I’ll be flying home tomorrow refreshed, and as ready as one can be to reenter the 9-5 life of a working stiff.

~ m

Vitamin D, if you please…

I feel like a hypocrite, a traitor. Turning my back on everything I know, and the land that bore me. Being a Northwest Washington native, I find myself constantly playing defense to the plethora of negative insults and slander so often associated with the region that I call home. Yes it does rain, a lot, but without that constant moisture we wouldn’t have one of the most uniquely lush and green areas of the United States. This past Friday morning, I strayed from home in order to visit with a good friend who lives in LA, far down in Southern California, away from the rain, and calm that soothes me – and instead place myself in the midst of the hustle and bustle of horrible drivers who are either unaware of or completely oblivious to the invention of the turn signal – dry heat and more differing shades of brown and beige than a girl could ever know existed.

I landed in LA a little before 11am, the flight was smooth, with just enough turbulence to unnerve the Hispanic woman sitting beside me, and cause her to cling to her husbands arm like an owl clutching a vol.  Personally, I enjoy the little shakes and rattles experienced in the sky. It’s a reminder that while man may have mastered the power of flight – the forces on the exterior of our large phallic shaped vehicles will never be defeated completely, nor will they be ignored. On this particular flight the turbulence served an even greater purpose of quieting said Hispanic woman, allowing me a welcome, albeit brief, intermission midway through her rather detailed, and yet crudely enunciated life story and vacation plans. I quickly learned, well not that quickly, her English was lacking and my Spanish skills will get me nowhere but a bathroom or a bar, that this trip would be the first she and her husband had ever enjoyed, without their children. And, while she did miss her 3 kids, now that they were attending college, and creating lives of their own, she was giddy with anticipation for this much awaited trip, just the two of them. I’ll spare you the gory details, as I wish she had been kind enough to do, but will tell you that she’s got some serious plans for her husband and his appendages over the next few days. Horny Hispanic Lady has definitely been one of my most memorable “single serving friends,” as Tyler Durden would say, thus far.

I’ve been in LA 2 days now and am having the time of my life. The weather is amazing, aside from my having been tailed by a few stray rain clouds, which excites the natives here, and while helping to stifle any homesickness I may have experienced, I’m okay with them burning off and clearing way for the sun.  Saturday afternoon we went for a beautiful walk around the neighborhood, which included plenty of grass covered hill sides, horses, surely wicked tree remains, and breath taking view points. Aside from a handful of great photos, that still come no where close to doing the actual place justice, I also took home two of the largest blisters I’ve ever seen, one on the bottom of each foot. How is it I always manage to find a hiccup of sorts that will make my vacation less than enjoyable? I suppose it’s my subconscious’s way of keeping me in check, or perhaps it’s my mothers way of confirming I will return home and not decide to stay. (A recurring fear for her, for whatever reason.) But did this trips discomfort have to lodge itself on the sole of my feet? Ugh! Perhaps I’ll feel brave enough (read: inebriated enough) to perform surgery this afternoon, and I won’t look like I have such a large stick up my ass when I walk tomorrow.

This morning, Sunday, my friend and host took me for an amazing drive through the Malibu Canyon, and along the Pacific Coast Highway, cruising the coastline, to the invigorating purr of  CJ, his cherry red 1970 Dodge Challengers engine, and the relaxing lull of the ocean breeze. The drive was absolutely gorgeous, and shows a much softer, playful side of California, than the overcrowded, smog locked, barren desert I tend to think of.  That is of course leaving out the 3 minutes of driving through fields that for whatever reason smell disturbingly of celery. It was amazing to see how differently the Pacific Ocean looks here, than it does from my coast at home. The Washington coast always looks a little disgruntled, and maintains its undertone of grey no matter the weather pattern, with the waters edge dotted heavily by large boulders and jagged – but along the Pacific Coast Highway here in California, that same ocean has seemingly transformed into a crisp refreshing blue, complete with crashing waves capped in frothy white foam, reminiscent of the peaks on a well prepared lemon meringue, meeting a sandy graham cracker crust at the waters edge.

~ m