June 29, 2011
I went to another Tiger’s baseball game a few nights ago with my sister-in-law. It was a cool, beautiful evening. Perfect baseball weather. We would have been by Brennan Boesch, but he was playing left field instead of his usual right field position. Maybe that was a forewarning.
In the third inning, the people sitting in front of us arrived–six teenage girls. A few of them had been drinking. I don’t think any of them ever once looked at the game. I know this because they were busy taking pictures–of themselves. And asking everyone in the vicinity to take pictures for them. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say they took at least fifty photos–of themselves.
Once that image of six giggling, tipsy girls, unaware of any ballgame and having photos taken–of themselves, is firmly planted in your mind, imagine that one of these girls (the one who had imbibed the most alcohol) wanted to be the center of attention of the entire universe. OK, I admit I’m exaggerating. I think she just wanted the attention of everyone in the stadium. Well actually, only the males in the stadium.
This girl was being very suggestive in a voice that carried throughout our entire section. To her credit, she had more than one salivating male buy a beer for her. At one point, she decided that the Jay’s player, #19, fielding near our seats was the guy for her. And she was determined to let him know just how “sexy” she thought he was, and some of the things she would like to do with him. She would screech, “Hey baby, number 19…” I don’t think she ever learned his name (Jose Bautista).
It was slightly bizarre, because some of the guys who’d bought beer for her were obviously jealous and they tried to warn her of #19′s various shortcomings. When that didn’t work, they resorted to yelling comments, in Spanish, (not their first language) about the player’s mother.
It was very annoying. As I listened to her remarks becoming more lewd and suggestive, I found myself actually feeling sorry for her. I remember all too well those years that my self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence were inextricably, inexplicably tangled up somehow with boys. Most of my friends were the same.
In our world, attention from boys equaled worth. I didn’t get much attention in that area. I was always the best friend that guys vented to about their girlfriends (usually my friends). On the scale of self-worth and confidence, I was in the negative numbers.
I had friends who were very popular with guys, for the same reason the girl at the Tiger’s game was popular. These friends had more boyfriends than I, but no more self-esteem or confidence.
It would be easy to blame guys for this predicament, but it’s not that simple. We were the ones who decided that we would settle for attention based on our looks and bodies. Didn’t we realize how empty that was? Or, were we so desperate, we didn’t care?
I wasted so much of “me” in those days and I’m so thankful I outgrew that mentality. Part of me wanted to put my arms around the girl at the game, and tell her that she was worth so much more than she was giving herself credit for.
But I don’t think she would have believed me.
The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.
~Robert Louis Stevenson
June 24, 2011
On Fridays, many bloggers post the “Friday Five”–a list of five from any subject they choose. Usually it’s the top five tweets of the week. I don’t tweet. So I thought I’d do the top five movies of all time.
Ha. Like I’m qualified to do that. OK, moving on. I thought I could share my five favorite movies in a post and you could share yours. That sounded good. While I was cooking dinner, I made a mental list of movies. I went over the list later (I have a terrible memory, and didn’t want to forget my list), but remembered movies I’d forgotten the first time around. The list increased exponentially. In fact, every time I went over my list, I’d think of more movies. Now I’m up to one hundred. Scratch the ”MyFive Favorite Movies” post. Feel free to comment on yours though.
Here, finally, is the five I’ll be posting. Five funny quotes. One of my little quirks is that I love looking up funny quotes. They make me smile, or chuckle, or groan, but they’re always a good pick-me-up.
Five Funny Quotes:
1. A computer once beat me at chess. But it was no match for me at kick-boxing. Emo Philips. BTW-Who’s Emo Philips?
2. Another good thing about being poor is that when you are seventy your children will not have declared you legally insane in order to gain control of your estate. Woody Allen
3. When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did, in his sleep–not screaming like the passengers in his car. Will Rogers
4. How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter? Woody Allen
5. Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before. Mae West
Hope you got a chuckle. I’d love to hear others that have made you laugh.
June 20, 2011
Inspiration to write another book zapped me again. And it was kind enough to provide a title before I ever wrote a word–A Voice Among the Thorns. Scenes and characters crowded my mind and I couldn’t wait to begin writing. I knew making the main character, a seventeen-year-old girl, “real” was going to be a challenge.
I think the essence of “girl-hood” is the same from one generation to the next. Feeling disconnected. Navigating relationships with boys. Managing hormones (actually do we ever learn that?). Struggling to become independent from our families. Dealing with the pain this separation causes. Most importantly, learning to make choices, some of which will affect lives forever. I lived that–I can write that.
But, I also live in a bubble and I’m technologically and socially network (or social-networkcally?) stunted and I haven’t been seventeen since–let’s just say it’s been a while.
I could write a book about a seventeen-year-old listening to Backstreet Boys on her boom-box, playing Pacman at the arcade, wearing a banana clip in her hair, and watching My So-Called Life on TV. (These examples are used only for the purposes of illustration. I didn’t like the Backstreet Boys or play Pacman. I did love banana clips and boom boxes’). I could use words such as, “cool,” “totally” and “foxy” (granted, before my time). But the character in my book lives in 2011, so the details of the book should be up-to-date. Something I am definitely NOT when it comes to high-school life.
I started my research on modern youth, by reading a YA book that’s very popular today. There was only one mention of music and it was about Pink Floyd. Definitely not what I was hoping for. I thought about just listening to girls when I was out and about–how they spoke, what they talked about, what they wore. But that would be just a little too creepy for me.
So, I decided to start another blog specifically for girls. I could ask questions and get input and ideas on everything from clothes to relationships to the meaning of life (that one should be interesting). I even found a way to make surveys for girls to take. Naming the blog was easy: A Voice Among the Thorns. Getting girls to participate may be another story.
I’m excited to see where it all leads. And I figure if girls don’t participate, I can always set the book in the 1980′s. Maybe the girls of today just want a story about the good old days.
June 15, 2011
I love the book, Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy. It’s about Mrs. Large who tries to escape for a bubble bath with her tea, toast, cupcake and newspaper–just for five minutes. I could have told her mothers never get five minutes peace if they’re in the bathroom. Laundry room, maybe. But a mother in a bathroom is a natural child magnet.
Peace is about so much more than quiet anyway. Not that quiet is bad, it just doesn’t necessarily mean peace. We all know children and prolonged quiet often mean trouble.
I don’t even think peace means absence of problems or stress. Problem-free, stress-free times that last more than a few hours, set me on edge because I know it won’t last. Kind of like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Don’t get me wrong. I love those moments of quiet, when I can read a chapter of a book without interruption. Or that feeling when I get a room cleaned and I know it will stay that way for at least five minutes. I especially love those moments we’re playing a family game and everyone is having fun and laughing, before the first quarrel breaks out.
But the really good kind of peace, the kind you can feel deep down in your core, even when things are really bad, or kids are fighting or the house is a mess, that peace needs to be refilled occasionally or we run out. Without that peace, life gets overwhelming.
Over at Countingducks, he gets his peace on his early morning walk, feeding apples to the horse in the field. How cool is that.
For me, some time at the little chapel at my church can fill my “peace tank”. I can go in there and just bask in the quiet. But it’s much more than just quiet. I feel rejuvenated when I leave. Sometimes the peace shimmers on my surface for a little while, and nothing fazes me, not even an overflowing toilet (happens at our house more often than it should). Sometimes, as soon as I walk in the door at home, I’m frazzled again. But it’s a more peaceful frazzled. Seriously.
If peace could be made into an everlasting gobstopper, we could just suck peace out of them all day, put them on our nightstands before bed and grab them the next morning. What a world that would be.
But I would still go to my little chapel.
June 11, 2011
It began harmlessly enough. So many things do, you know.
My capri pants and remarkably pale calves (they had an alien-like glow in the sunlight) were an unsightly combination. I decided to use a little self-tanner to give them some color.
Those of you who are fair skinned can empathize. I’m so pale, my lovely French sister-in-law fondly commented on my “milky white complexion” every summer for years. In high school, (before skin cancer awareness) my friends were tanning a deep golden bronze. The only bronze I would get was from my freckles. The rest of me merely turned a light shade of pink. Occasionally I would burn and hope it would fade into a delicious tan, but it only peeled.
Self tanning was easy that first summer, smearing lotion on my calves so they wouldn’t blind people when I went out in public. The next summer, I decided I wanted tanned arms and neck to match the tanned calves. It looked very nice, and I got a few compliments on my “tan”. My tan plan wasn’t well thought out though, because near the end of summer, someone remarked that my face was very pale compared to the rest of me. Huge faux pas. All this time I thought the darker shade of foundation I was using matched the tan.
Early in the spring of the following year, I did some research on self tanners:
- For a darker tan, use the formula for darker skin
- Rub body lotion or baby oil into palms, elbows and knees prior to applying self tanner to avoid darker spots in those areas.
- Wait thirty minutes and reapply for a darker tan.
- Wait twenty minutes before putting clothing over self tanned areas.
That Memorial Day, I was prepared to go all the way. I locked myself in my bedroom and got out the tanner. I took a deep breath before smearing it on my face, hoping it wouldn’t cause my sensitive skin to break-out. I emerged an hour later. Would the tan be worth it?
By that evening, I had a gorgeous tan. All the hours I spent trying to get a tan in high school couldn’t add up to this. It was like going back in time and getting it right. It was so worth it–for one day.
The nightmare began a few days later. I had to reapply it because it was fading off in splotches. It faded in the shower, rubbed off on my clothes and bed sheets and needed to be reapplied every two or three days. Refer to the process outlined above, in case you’ve forgotten what a huge pain application is.
But I didn’t stop, because I HAD A TAN. Something I thought I’d never have and let’s be honest, I looked younger with that glowing bronze complexion. By August, I couldn’t wait for winter so I could stop tanning. But the tan needed to be babied until I could start wearing long sleeves, and it could fade off in splotches without being seen.
I know. You think that summer would have cured me. I’m sorry to let you down, but over the winter I lost that last miserable ten pounds (writing my book) and I bought a bathing suit. The first one in ten years. A two-piece, no less. I needed a tan.
Here’s where you lose all respect for me. Now, I had to tan my back and stomach in addition to what I’d been previously tanning. This was also the year of the open toe sandal, so I had to be very particular about tanning my feet. Did I give it up? No, I was hooked.
I spent a good chunk of that summer locked in my room, waiting for the tan lotion to dry. But was it worth it?
D² and I were in a store in late August and I saw a woman with a very dark tan. I mentioned to D² that I was glad I wasn’t that dark.
“But you are,” she said.
I was shocked. I hadn’t realized that every time I applied the stuff, I got a little darker. I just saw a nice tan, not the Malibu-Barbie-Meets-Jersey Shores-Tan. Self-perception is a funny thing.
Fast forward to spring 2011. Memorial Day was fast approaching and I was faced with the daunting task of tanning. “Next week,” I kept telling myself. Then, after years of vacationing, my sanity and reason returned: I realized I didn’t need a tan.
I think I can finally be comfortable with my milky white complexion. I hope I don’t change my mind when I put on the bathing suit.
Have you ever become hooked on something that began harmlessly (like a video or computer game? Or maybe an ooey-gooey coffee drink?) If you need to get it off your chest, this is the place to do it.
June 7, 2011
Inspiration is a funny thing. It can be elusive and unpredictable. It’s very inconvenient when I’m faced with a deadline and my inspiration is AWOL. Inspiration can be forced, although it’s not a pretty sight. Close your eyes tightly, tense every muscle in your body, concentrate intently and try to squeeze out inspiration, so it flows through your fingertips. This has never actually worked for me, but maybe you’ll find it worth a try.
I don’t know how it is for you, but inspiration strikes me when I least expect it. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. You know, the way you feel on a first date, or waiting at the top of the world’s tallest, fastest roller coaster. Well, I don’t ride coasters, but I imagine the feeling is the same. Maybe it’s more like wearing a that first pair of fabulous looking 4 1/2 inch heels. You feel great, but you know you might wobble or worse, trip.
It found me today. A brilliant, blinding flash sparked inside my weary, little mind and there she was, the main character for a book I had no idea I was going to write, vague and fuzzy, but warm and real. Snippets of her life and bits of conversation appeared in rapid succession in my tingling brain. I’d been zapped by inspiration.
Inspiration can be something of a curse and I’m afraid to tell my family that I’ve been struck again. I don’t think they’ll welcome the news, after what they endured the last time I was inspired to write a book. I was often in a daze, straddling my two worlds. I cried a lot, daydreamed often, lost ten pounds (OK that was not a curse), and went to bed at ridiculous hours. Friends would ask me if I was “ill”.
Imagine a plaintive voice: “Mommy, I’m hungry. When are you going to make dinner?”
“Dinner?” I answer, “Dinner? Nicole just saw her husband making love to another woman, and you’re worried about dinner!” That didn’t really happen (that I remember, anyway), but scenes like this were always a possibility when I was immersed in writing.
I do remember driving in the car with my husband, and suddenly spotting a Lexus. “What are you looking at?” my husband asked as I strained to watch the car as it passed.
“That’s the kind of car Jason drives, ” I told him. ”Hey, let’s drive through the Lexus dealership. I’ll show you the kind of car he has.” In case you don’t realize the extent of my insanity, Jason was a character in my book.
Another time, in the middle of a conversation with my husband, I became hostile. “Why do men cheat?”
He was getting used to my bizarre behavior and didn’t miss a beat. “Not all men cheat,” he said patiently. “Women cheat too.”
Then I became defensive. “Nicole cheated to get revenge on Jason.”
Looking back, I’m surprised they didn’t have me committed.
Well, I’ve been “struck” again. Soon, I’ll be straddling two worlds–the one I live in and the one I’m creating. Once inspiration strikes, you can’t fight it.
Inspiration strikes everyone, spurring new ideas, new creations, new ways of doing something or new things to try. What are some of your most memorable inspirations? Does it strike you like lightening or slowly and quietly? Do you think it can be forced?
June 2, 2011
The banks of the Detroit river-July 29, 1763
The soldier drew a hand across his sweaty brow. His heavy breathing left only the faintest whisper in the air. He looked around at the 260 men preparing to spend a short night on the banks of the Detroit river. The silence with which they could set up camp no longer surprised him. It was a necessity when only ten miles lay between you and the enemy and surprise was your greatest weapon. Tomorrow they would strike Chief Pontiac and his vast army, breaking his three-month siege on Fort Detroit.
Out of the corner of his eye, the soldier spied a movement across the river. He stood straight up, shielding his eyes from the sun with his hands, and gazed intently at the opposite bank. Another soldier, noticing his sudden movement, followed his gaze and jumped to attention. Was it a child wearing a coat of red fur? Impossible in the July heat.
As the small figure moved from behind the trees to the river’s edge, it began to dance, a grotesque, monkey-like dance. It came closer to the bank and the men gasped in spite of themselves. Both had seen its glowing red eyes. It was making a raucous sound, like the cawing of a crow, showing a row of teeth, the ones not rotted were long and pointed.
The imp continued his bizarre dance until he stood directly across from the captain’s tent. He pointed to it, his movements becoming more frenzied. The movement alerted a few other soldiers. Before anyone could move, the creature scurried out of sight, the sound of his cawing floating eerily back over the river.
The sighting was reported to Captain James Dalyell, but he shrugged it off impatiently. He had no time for imaginary demons. Tomorrow they would ambush Chief Pontiac and he had much left to do.*
In the end, it was the Indians that surprised the British at Parent’s Creek the next day. How Pontiac learned of the planned ambush and was able to prepare for the battle has never been discovered, although rumors whisper of supernatural help. The British were defeated in a battle so bloody, the water of Parent’s Creek flowed bright red that day. It became known as the Battle of Bloody Run. Sightings of a small, red creature dancing on the banks of the bloody creek after the battle were reported by both sides. Le Nain Rouge had paid a visit.
This was not the first appearance of Nain Rouge (Red Dwarf) in the area that would become Detroit, Michigan. In 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, Detroit’s founder, had a run-in with the little red demon and soon after lost his fortune. Multiple sightings were reported in the spring of 1805. A few weeks later, most of the city of Detroit was consumed by a fire.
General William Hull and his troops were sent to defend Detroit during the War of 1812. Hull reported seeing Nain Rouge leering at him through the fog. General Hull surrendered to the British a few days later, his troops having never fired a shot. He was later court-martialed and sentenced to death for his incompetence (he received a reprieve).
Several people reported seeing Nain Rouge the day before the break-out of the 1967 Detroit riots. When the riots ended five days later, 43 people were dead; 1,189 injured and 7,000 arrested.
In 1976, two Detroit Edison workers saw what they thought was a child climbing a utility pole. Before they could rescue it, it jumped 20 feet from the top of the pole and darted away. The next day a snow/ice storm, (considered by many weather authorities to be one of Michigan’s worst natural disasters of all time) blasted Michigan. Sixteen people died and 400,000 were left without electricity. My family was among those without electricity; we stayed at my aunt and uncle’s for days.
Nain Rouge. Legend or “harbinger of doom” as he has been called? Are you a believer or skeptic? My advice is the same to both–If you encounter Nain Rouge, flee from Michigan for the time being.
*The Nain Rouge was sighted by British troops on the banks of the Detroit river the day before the Battle of Bloody Run and described as “harassing the captain”. The details of his appearance to the troops are my interpretation.
Do you have anything to share about Nain Rouge or legends that are famous in your area?
The Red Gnome: Scourge of Detroit
The Red Devil of Detroit
The Nain Rouge: Detroit’s Genius Loci?
Myths and Legends of Our Own Lands by Charles M. Skinner (available on-line through project Gutenberg)
The Legends of Le Detroit by M. C. W. Hamlin, a 19th century book.