Wherein I pause to the theme from Mahogany

Diana Ross

Diana Ross has got a lock on her image and work. Wikimedia.

First, I want to lament that the theme from Mahogany, otherwise known as Do You Know Where You’re Going To is not alive on the internet. Luckily, Diana Ross is in my music library so I can get my fix later. Lady knows how to cast a spell.

Imagine the sparkly diva as you read:

Do you know where youre going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you
Where are you going to?
Do you know?

This is my meditation as I contemplate this last day of Zero to Hero, the blog-building initiative.

Hero to Zero

As an aside, early in January I tagged a post herotozero, which, beyond being an amusing mistake was also a sort of warning. How do we balance community courtship with our other blog intentions? Or is building community the only blog intention that matters? What do you think?

Now what, dear reader?

I must say, I’m a bit winded, but in that pleasant pink-cheeked sort of way. I won’t be able to sustain this level of engagement, that’s for sure. So, how do we make the best use of our time together?

What are your thoughts? Do you like the nonfiction stuff best? Fiction? Musings about writing or indie publishing?

I’d love to know what you enjoy reading, dear reader. And thank you. I enjoy our time together and appreciate our conversations.

Diagnosis #2

Parkinsonia

Jerusalem Thorn (Parkinsonia): Karen Blixen

I mean, no wonder it’s an ulcer.

You’d think Dr. Johnson would apply the Hippocratic Oath to his whole life, not just his practice. I will keep them from harm and injustice. That’s part of it! But you know that. It’s in the Greek. I guess he doesn’t think that applies to his neighbors.

Now, there you go. I can see you judging me. You think that I’m overstating, but it wasn’t your garden. It’s just like I tried to explain to that terrible judge. You spend years of your life tending to the flowers and trees and then it won’t seem a small thing.

I know, I know. There was no proof that he poisoned my Jerusalem Thorn. But I know he did. That tree was thriving until he started to complain. As if you can control trees. I mean, it was only just growing onto his property by a bit. And what would you rather have, a thriving tree or a perfect fence?

Besides, I invited him over many times to discuss the issue. Many times. But no, he always had a conflict. Some patient needed him. That nurse needed him is more like it. I definitely saw her over there more than once and I doubt it was a professional visit, if you know what I mean.

If he had come over, maybe it wouldn’t have happened, you know? Maybe the tree could have lived somehow.

Why are you looking at me like that?

Oh, no, that’s not what I meant and you know it. I just meant that if he had been willing to come over for tea, just once or twice, he probably would’ve realized that the tree wasn’t a problem. That it was bringing us closer. But now, because there was no justice, everyone in this village looks at me like I’m crazy. They act like I’m the one who poisoned the tree.

You don’t think that, do you? I mean, you’re my therapist, so you can’t think that. You can’t think anything, you just have to listen.

Read Diagnosis, the first installment of this story.

Diagnosis

The thing is, I knew it couldn’t be Thai food, because I’ve always loved Thai food. I grew up on it. Tom Yom soup was like breast milk to me. But something was wrong. Definitely wrong.

Tom yam kung maenam

Nope, it’s not the Tom yam kung maenam.

I didn’t want to make an appointment with Dr. Johnson for obvious reasons. God, how I hated that he was the only damn doctor in our village. But with each passing day, and each wrenching stomachache I got closer and closer to making an appointment. I mean, my pants barely fit with all the bloating. And things usually didn’t smell that bad, if you know what I mean.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking now, because you can be really judgmental. You don’t mean it, but you are. So no, I’ll just tell you, no, I couldn’t go to a neighboring village. It would’ve required renting a car and that’s too much power to give one man. Dr. Johnson could not make me rent a car. I mean, it’s been years since it happened and we’re both adults and he’s a professional and has taken the Hippocratic Oath and everything.

Of course while I was waiting for him in that ugly little examination room – he could decorate it you know, warm it up a little – I went back in time in my head. I couldn’t help it. We hadn’t seen each other since that stupid judge made her verdict and frankly, avoidance was the best for both of us. It’s not easy in this village, you know. I have to make sure to go out and do my shopping when he’s work, which is most of the time. That was part of the problem, of course.

Dr. Johnson and his work. He thinks it’s so important. He always has to be on call. I mean, he has zero boundaries. None. He was there for anyone, everyone, all the time. Except me of course. He wasn’t there for me.

So get this, at first he tries to avoid me. He sends in his nurse instead. That woman. So ridiculously loyal. I mean, sometimes you have to make decisions for yourself, but I bet that’s not something she does often. Yes, Dr. Johnson. Of course, Dr. Johnson. It’s enough to make you sick.

I tell her about what’s bothering me and she’s polite enough and so am I because I’m not going to let her get the best of me, you know? She listens for a while and then stops me, stops me, right in the middle as I’m describing my latest, ahem, evacuation. Then she leaves.

Take this, she says, after coming back into that freezing grey room. Of course, I want to know what it is, because you need to know what you’re taking. You can’t just trust medical people because they’re all in it for the money. Or most of them are. Everyone is trying to rip you off all the time. So I ask her what it is and she tells me it’s a urea breath test.

A what? I mean, have you ever heard of such a thing? She tells me to drink it, this urea, and that it’s going to help with the diagnosis. Well, I thought. It’d be nice if you told me what you think the diagnosis is going to be. Then she said, that’s for Dr. Johnson to decide. Oh, of course it is.

I drink it. I mean, what else am I going to do? The stomachaches were getting unbearable. Then I wait. Keep in mind, that I’m still wearing one of those terrible gowns. It’s so sheer. My nipples are showing straight through. Something Dr. Johnson may like, I’m sure.

Then, then! He comes into the room. He barely looks at me. He tells me to exhale and then nods as if my breath tells him everything he needs to know. He starts talking gibberish and says something about isotope-labelled carbon dioxide in my exhaled breath. He thinks everyone is a medical expert.

It’s a peptic ulcer, he tells me, then promptly leaves the room. Unbelievable. I sat there and waited, but he never came back.

After reading your comments, I went on to write a second installment, Diagnosis #2.

Inspired by yeahwrite.me, Speakeasy #146.

What does the internet give you when you go looking for love?

Cocktail

A little bit of love is in this glass.

I went searching for “love” in my blog reader and here’s what I found.

Love may mean having to say I’m sorry

Meet Lola. She’s an “English single mother in her thirties. I have the morals of an alley-cat, loose lips and, on occasion, even looser knicker elastic.” What’s not to love about that introduction?

I picked Lola up in the middle of a story, so to speak, when I read Is Sorry Really the Hardest Word? In it, she asks about apologizing to someone from your dating past. Would you? To whom? I’d probably rather apologize to my friends about how I acted when I was trying to date in my early twenties. Ugh.

Which brings me to…

#538: Forgiving a Friend’s Darth Vader

Captain Awkward. She is awesome. She’s a screenwriter and director and will tell you how to confront your tricky situations in cinematic style. In this case a reader asks, How obligated are we to try and forgive our friend’s significant others for the harm they have caused in the past? What do you think?

Related, I’ve definitely had a few friends say to me, Really? This guy? Luckily those days are over.

Now, this makes me think of the novel I’m working on. Jill, our protagonist, keeps going ’round and ’round with the same guy. Her best friend Dee makes no secret about being totally over this guy and how he treats Jill.

Sometimes that’s the best thing about best friends. They give it to you straight.

Love on the page

Best friends can also be life-long, if you take care. They’re there for you on the big days and in the little moments. That’s what I thought of when I saw this snapshot of love from the everyday from The Daily Think.

The illustrator of The Daily Think is Laura Quick, who says, “…the funny little things we experience everyday, the things which are often forgotten immediately after they have happened, need to be recorded.”

In her January 18, 2014 sketch of two moms nearly passed out in adirondack chairs while their kids play at the museum, I see love in between the story. It’s between friends and family, children and adults. It’s the love those two mothers have for their kids. It’s the love the two of them share, as friends. Or, if they’re strangers, it’s the love they share as two humans who can understand one another, in that moment.

Inspired by The Daily Post.

An Ode to Judy Blume, my hero, my guide.

I’m not really a hero kind of person. I mean, we’re all human. But I’ve been falling in love (all over again) with Judy Blume.

So this is an Ode.

Forever by Judy Blume

This is the edition that went around our sixth grade class. Ralph!

Dear, sweet, Judy, you make us feel less alone
And tell us we we’re okay just as we are.
‘Tis you I read when I’m the only one home,
Then emerge from my skin feeling a star.
At first there was Blubber, then there was God
A reminder, each, that kindness could live
Your voice comforted, assured, said human we be.
One copy of Forever shared on the quad
Feelings of angst did drain through a sieve
Through your eyes we did learn to see!

Not quite John Keats, but the heart is there.

So the question is, why is Judy Blume so damn awesome?

Let’s start a list. Judy Blume is:

  1. a pioneering writer who tackled all sorts of taboos.
  2. a champion against censorship.
  3. wise about writing.
  4. inspiring!

She also has that way about her, that unapologetic, take-it-or-leave-it way that I absolutely adore.

Judy Blume influences me today

The other day I remembered something from when I was quite young. It was a flash – one of those things you’ve forgotten about yourself, your past – until something makes it bubble up. I got to thinking about when my mom and I lived in a one bedroom apartment after my parents split up. I was ten. I set-up her word processor on the dining room table and began writing stories.

Thinking about Judy Blume the other day brought that memory back. It was Judy Blume I was reading when I began writing. It was Judy Blume who helped me navigate adolescence and understand my new feelings of longing. It was Judy Blume, I now realize, who informs my writing all these years later.

So perhaps she is not so much a hero as she is a guide. This may be why Monique commented on my last Judy Blume gush that she loves her, too, even though she’s in her 40s. Judy Blume is a guide for the ages.

What do you love about Judy Blume?