A Favorite Meal

I’m altering the rules on this Writing 101 assignment. First of all, it’s the assignment from several days ago. Yes, I fell behind. I’m okay with that and hope you are, too. Anyway…

Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

I’m writing about one of my favorite meals that happened when I was a grownup (or at least the parent of children). It was when friends were visiting.

For some reason my son decided to make lunch for our friend. He was under five, I believe, and we were all quite impressed. Out came the sandwich options, and our son went to work while we adults yakked. He proudly came over to us, bearing his delightful creation of…

peanut butter and jelly — and bologna.

Yup. PBJ and B.

When my son turned around, I quickly and quietly offered to play the magical swap out trick all parents MUST have in their repertoire. But our friend kiboshed that. The sandwich was made ‘specially for him, and he was going to eat it by golly.

How he sucked that down, I’ll never know, but it sure meant a lot to all of us. This is what I do know: That friend is now our third son’s godfather.

My Buddy – Who Was – Yet Still Is

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Well, he’s still part of my life, just not in a physical sense.

I make my living using technology, and one of my greatest teachers/supporters/technological playmates was a quadriplegic named Buddy.

Buddy went to school with my sister, who is three years older than I. They were friends, and I remember the day when I learned that he was injured during a football game (he was in 11th grade). He was paralyzed from the neck down.

TBH, I’m not certain when he and I became friends. Or the moment when he became more family than just friend. All I know is that by the time my son CJ was born, we (myself, my husband and Buddy) all jokingly called him CJB (with the B standing for Buddy, of course).

Back in the day of the landline, we would talk for hours. He made it through college with a degree in something computer-related, and it fascinated me. In the early 1990s, it was Buddy who got me chatting in IRC, and it was Buddy who introduced me to the magic of Dragon Naturally Speaking.

I started to learn code after Buddy died, and I landed my dream job with Automattic four years after he left our planet. But I still find myself mentally sharing my technological successes with him, and I will always thank him for his part in my journey.

When I go to WordCamps and see classes focused on Accessibility, I can’t help but think of him. How thrilled he would have been to see the Internet open for people with disabilities like his.

I was at an amusement park the day I found out Buddy died. As a non-crier, I resented the tears that flowed, but I could imagine Buddy laughing at me. Laughing in a body that was totally free. He didn’t complain to us, and he was always filled with hope and positive, encouraging messages. But I know his reality was far from ideal. I’m glad he is free now.

I miss you every day, Buddy. And I thank you every day, too.

Three Songs – My Favorites – What are Yours?

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

That’s today’s assignment. As a music-lover this should be easy-breezy right?

Bet you thought I would say it was difficult!

But actually, it was pretty easy for me.

I have eclectic taste in music. I enjoy the Disney channel on Pandora as much as I love Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis, Broadway tunes, Skrillex, Aerosmith, Rachmaninov and Pavarotti.

But I still know my three.

1. Edvard Grieg’s Wedding at Troldhaugen

Back when I was a little one, my mother played this while I played with my toys. Watching her hands fly across the keyboard was a true delight. When I was nine we went to Norway, and I got to see Grieg’s studio overlooking the fjord. It tugged at the very root of my Nordic ancestral soul. When I was in seventh or eighth grade (I can’t remember which), I was able to play this in a school performance, and my best friend played it at my wedding. She loved it so much, she had it at her wedding, too.

2. Little Brown Church in the Vale by William Pitts

This one’s a bit hokey, but that’s part of why I love it so much. My in-law’s have some cabins at a little tiny church campground. My mother-in-law has been going there for over 80 years. For ten days every summer, a group of families gather for worship, singing, games and general relaxation.

Our tabernacle is a building in the center of the campgrounds, and the sides of the building are propped open when the weather is nice. At night when we gather, we are generally tired from doing crafts and classes in the morning, walking through the woods and swimming at Little Falls where we also hunt for crawfish. We sing together, and often wind up belting out a hearty off-key rendition of this song. Although tired, we leave this place to have ice cream and yak with our friends.

It ain’t fancy, but that little tabernacle in the camp is a haven for my family and me.

3. And finally…Brokedown Palace by the Grateful Dead

This will hopefully be played a my funeral someday.

Let me be frank. I want no pomp and circumstance when I go. I’m cool with taking the next step in my journey and look forward to heaven. I don’t need a tombstone, and I don’t want people to spend $ they don’t have for travel unless they really feel they need to.

That said, if I could plan my own ideal send-off, it would be aweseome if my loved ones had an all-night party, celebrating life. Goodbyes are important, I know. So tossing my ashes into some body of water as the sun rises and this song plays would, imho, be the perfect way to part. The rising sun symbolizing a new beginning for my loved ones in a world without me, and for myself as I embrace paradise.

Mama, Mama, many worlds I’ve come
since I first left home …

Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul

If you had to name your three favorite songs, what would they be?

Where Would I go?

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

That’s today’s assignment. My mind raced as I mulled that one over. A Janis Joplin concert? My perfect moment in the woods when I was a child? Ancient Egypt? Which adventure would I choose? When my answer hit me, it was actually quite sobering, but real. And writing is often about bringing perceived reality and actual reality to light. Right?

I know where I would go.

It would be a small, slightly chilly room where I was strung with wires. A nurse hovered over me, shaking her head. “We are just waiting for him to show some movement–just a kick or something–during this time frame.” She said. Or something very similar to that. I don’t remember the exact quote.

I do remember that I laughed as I told the nurse to let me roll to my left side since he always kicked when I did that.

The nurse nodded and helped me roll my prodigious belly to the left. Levi kicked and passed the test with seconds to spare.

It was one of his last kicks.

How I wish I could retract my words. He would probably have failed the test, and we would have investigated further. Maybe induced labor to keep him alive.

Then again, maybe if he had lived our next child wouldn’t have come into existence. Or the one after that. I don’t know. I remind myself that we all did the best we could with the reality we had. If that child was meant to live, he would have.

But if I can imagine myself traveling through time and space, I’d also like to allow myself the freedom to merge my actual reality and that alternate reality in my mind–and picture all my sons together–if only for a moment. I cling to the hope that will happen someday in Heaven.

* The Featured Image today is where we said goodbye to Levi.

Writing 101 and my Stream-of-Consciousness

Photo credit: Incessant Flux on Flickr

Last month I got to play with photography, this month I get to write. I love my job!!! For Writing 101 at the Blogging University, we are instructed to do some stream of consciousness writing. It makes me think of all the different types of writing I’ve done in my past.

My Pop Pop encouraged me, rejoicing with me as I won an award for writing in first grade. I think that was a poem (or as he insisted, a po-EM, not a pome). Words wended their way from mind to page during my teen years. All those things you wouldn’t say out loud, yet screamed for release.

Eventually I found my niche in children’s writing. Stories are around me everywhere. My piano professor once told me I was like a talented actress who didn’t know how to read. It was his kind way of saying I was clueless on music theory. And he was right. After decades of playing, I can’t tell you what key I am in when I play (unless it’s C or G). Frankly, I don’t care. What I love to do is play the story I hear in my head, and people seem to like it.

For several years I tapped out stories for children, and they filled my shelf nicely. But never got much further than the shelf. Then it evolved. By this point in time I was part of a writing group, and there was a day where I had to tell my writing buds that I was crossing over to the dark side. Writing for adults. But it was kind of okay, because I mostly wrote about children and children’s media.

That journey took me on a path that included editing and writing for magazines and websites. It was fun. I connected with other writers and loved the writing community. We all shared highs and lows in the market’s ebb and flow. Always the constant struggle of remaining true to self, topic and unique approach — while balancing the SEO.

It makes me think of my favorite writers. My Aunt Anne sent amusing, detailed observations of life to dear ones back in the typewriter days. Now she continues on computer. My writing group gifts us with historical fiction books, ghost stories, vampire tales and stories about animals. My cousin Lars pens Byzantine and Nordic history. Some writers allow words to dance across a page, while others dare you to continue reading. Some make you think, some make you laugh. All so different, and all so inspiring.

That’s it. My stream-of-consciousness time is up. But my writing continues. At least in my mind. I don’t think that will ever stop.

* Featured image credit: Incessant Flux on Flickr
* My writing heroes:

Linda Stanek
Linda Covella
Jen Funk Weber
Dale Ibitz
Lars Brownworth
And Mary Beth Schewitz whose writing dreams were a bit deferred as she focused on a truly amazing cause–the Max Schewitz Foundation.