Life Not Fiction

No Chapter Two…or any other chapters for that matter. Now is not the time in my life for fiction writing. I’m not sure there will be a time for that. I love the idea, and maybe that is still in my future, but right here and right now is not the time. So, I will just write from the heart, the funny, the sad, the real stuff that happens to me. I’m just an ordinary woman trying to live life while keeping my neuroses in check.

Lately I haven’t been doing such a good job with the psychological stuff. I was on a roll and then circumstances beyond my control popped up and bit me in the ass. And there is a great deal of ass here to bite. Ever been where I am?

You know, that place where life just hums along and everybody who matters are just doing their thing, predictably and then, suddenly they change course and your like, “Whoa, wait a minute, you’re supposed to be doing this, living here, being this kind of person. What do you mean making changes in your life that affect me?” I know it sounds petty and childish, but don’t pretend you’ve never thought those things!

The problem is, they have every right to make changes and if those changes are for their good, who am I to feel this way? The word selfish comes to mind. I really don’t mind change…as long as I am the one doing the changing. I know, back to that selfish thing. I am baring my soul here, give me a break. Despite my advanced years, I still have quite a bit of growing and changing to do. I want to work on these things before I get so old and set in my ways I become that person no one wants to be around because she is always complaining. Back to my ample ass…I give you (and you know who you are) permission to kick me in it if I get too out of control and maudlin.

I’ve always reveled in being the unpredictable member of the family. The one that doesn’t do things according to family norms and lives life by my standards and enjoys being impossible to pigeon-hole. Anytime anyone tries to label me as any certain thing I am determined to prove them wrong and fly off in the opposite direction. There is nothing worse for me than my mom telling me “You’re just like your mother.” I detest that not because my mom is a horrid person, or because I don’t like her or love her. No, I detest it because I know I am like her and I accept that; what really gets to me is this sense that “Can’t something just be mine?”

“Mine.” This is a running theme in my life. I know it is a toddler like mentality, but why do toddlers behave in this manner? Control. They want something in their lives over which they can exercise control. Good parenting teaches them how to gradually handle this intoxicating power.

Please, for the love of all things good, tell me I am not the only sixty-something that is still dealing with things like this.

What I do know is that God is the ultimate parent. The all loving all knowing Father who does and allows whatever is necessary for our own good. I have more to say on the subject, but I’ll let you digest this and then tomorrow I’ll flip the page and we will talk about the positive side of this dilemma.

 

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Chapter 1

August in Texas has got to be God’s way of reminding us He is in control. It is positively the worst month of the year. Everything is either burnt to a crisp or dripping with sticky humidity. Sometimes it is both. If we are lucky enough to get a little of that twenty percent chance of rain, the air cools slightly while the water is falling, but when the clouds are empty, they descend to earth like a thick wet blanket. I swear I can see the air moving. I imagine that life most anywhere else is just about perfect compared to here. Especially today.

“Would someone please answer the door?” came a shout from the kitchen. Aunt Marge ran her kitchen like a drill sergeant. Pots and pans clanking, water running, drawers and doors opening and closing mixed with high pitched voices fusssing at each other. Somebody’s in the way, not moving fast enough, or just flat out doing something wrong. This is living proof that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. I’d rather sit back and let them fight it out, opting to clean up later…by myself…in the quiet…just me and my memories. Will there ever be peace in this house again?

It is a tradition in Texas to have a meal after a funeral. Most times the church has folks that help with this. Sometimes it happens in the church fellowship hall, and other times the food is brought and set up at home. Family and friends gather to remember; to laugh and to cry. To promise to do a better job of staying in touch. It is all very well meaning, but everyone knows that when they go home and real life resumes, nothing will really change, until the next funeral. I’m no different; I make the promises, with all sincereity as the words flow from my mouth. The problem is my brain and my mouth are not generally well connected at times like this.

“Jewel, Sam, it’s so kind of you to come, Please, come in.” Marge said breathlessly as she held the door open.  Sam and Jewel were two of MiMi’s dearest friends. MiMi, Mary Margaret Brooks, was my grandmother, and so much more.

Marge, scurrying from group to group, is busy making sure everyone’s comfortable and with a nice cool beverage on this all too typical August day. Marge shows them in, making necessary introductions then heads off to the kitchen for those glasses of sweet tea they both were craving.

Marge is MiMi’s long suffering sister. Like most families, we all have our assigned roles. Doesn’t matter how long we’ve been apart, who has said what to who, when we come together like this, we all have a part to play. And we do it well.  In our family, Marge is the perpetual martyr. She’s the one to whom everyone turns to get things done. She is often the face of the family when none of the rest of us want to be visible. She works tirelessly, sacrificing all, taking nothing in return. At least on the surface. We all count on Marge at times like this all the while knowing there is a price to be paid.

“Sam, you hungry? We still got lots of good food in here. Don’t need anything going to waste.”  “Mom! Brian is hitting me.” Shouted one of the great grandchildren. “You hit me first.”  Brian responded hoping to offset any possible consequences. Fortunately all the adults in the room were too busy crying and laughing to notice the squabbles of a couple of youngsters. “Well, I’ll be, you are getting so big…come over here and give me some sugar.” “I wonder what they are going to do with all this stuff?”

The conversations all swirl together forming a caucaphonous fog that descends upon me, slowly and completely until I feel invisible. I sit transfixed, in MiMi’s chair, overwhelmed and alone.

I long to be anywhere but in this room yet unable to summon the strength to stand up and move. Then, like a little angel from heaven, Picot, MiMi’s typically aloof cat, rubs a figure eight around my ankles, purring gently. As I reach down to stroke her blue gray fur, she takes off running towards the back of the house. She stops at the hallway and looks back at me as if to say, “Come on!” Knowing that the family stories would continue for hours, I force myself to follow the cat.

NaNoWriMo

I signed up to do this and had every good intention. I researched and wrote out several topics, but when it came to November 1st, 2017…I froze. Actually the cooling off process began several days before when I got distracted from my goal with other, equally valuable pursuits. 

You may or may not know that I have a second blog: The Woolen Hook. This is where I chronicle my love for crochet and all things wool, yarn and fiber related. The Woolen Hook is in the process of becoming a real brand with a real purpose in the world. There you will only find posts about those subjects. Where as here, you will find anything and everything that strikes my fancy at a particular moment in time.

So many people believe they have a story in them that worthy of telling. I believe that is true and I am one of those people. Ever since I was a little girl I loved to write. I still have poems and things that I wrote as a very young child. One of the Sheryl Stories that entertain my family is a sentence I wrote in the second or third grade. We had to use a vocabulary word in each sentence. I don’t remember what the vocabulary word was, but my sentence was “Kiss me you fool!” Surely it was something I had heard on television that just plopped back into the frontal lobe of my brain then onto the paper. Wherever it came from, I’m sure it wasn’t what my teacher expected.

The examination of my kindergarten report card indicated I did not start off well in the areas of making up stories and creativity. Something I found to be quite shocking. But then when I looked more carefully, it was grading verbal expression of such things. I have never been good at making stuff up on the spur of the moment and – I suck at improv. But putting things into writing, that’s a whole different subject.

So, back to NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – this is something to challenge oneself to actually sit down and write every day for a month and complete the draft of a novel in that time period. Well, as is usually the case, I’m doing it my way. So, every Monday until the story has been told, I will post another installment. My goal is to tell a complete story and then have the basis of something I can work on to be a full novel, unless it is so complete that I just need to write something else. 

In between these posts I will have my usual food, homemaking, decorating, grandchildren, and husband stories to tell. I’m not extraordinary, I’m just an open book. I write these things not because I’m special but because I find humor in in my humanity and hope that helps you do the same.

The story I am writing is loosely based on family members as they have been described to me and the rest totally made up. It is rooted in research I have done for The Woolen Hook and my maternal grandmother. I never really knew any of my grandmothers (I had two biological and one step) so in my story I am making up a relationship I would have liked to have had with my maternal grandmother – Willie Brooks Woodring. 

I don’t know who these women are. I bought the photo because it inspired me. I look into those faces and there is a story to tell. Though this story I’m writing now will be set in a different time, I will write their story as well.

I’m off to spend the rest of my day reading. H.G. Is literally off hunting and possibly gathering this weekend. The first weekend in November in these parts is a sacred ritual for deer hunters. For me, the television has been off all day, classical music, writing, drinking coffee, and now a good book will complete the experience. I am re-reading Little Women. I know this will be sacrilege to some of you, but I cannot remember how old I was when I first read it. Because of my friend at the time who read it as well, it was likely fourth grade. It is a timelesss story and one that fits nicely with the mood I am currently living in.

Until tomorrow…