It doesn’t seem real to think you’ve been gone for twenty years, Pingon. It’s never easy at the end of September as I let this day loom over me. It’s been twenty years but I still cried a few times today. Rich bought me some Cherry Garcia, and I finished the new final chapter of the novel I’m writing. You’re in it, you know? It’s a small part but I smile when I write her – that Lori – who also loves hairspray and hooker boots.
It’s really not the amount of time that has passed that gets to me when I think about you not being here. It’s about the amount of moments we didn’t get. The guys, the marriages(I’m one and done), the kids(Alex is 25 now!), the jobs, the hobbies, the heartbreaks, the adventures, the setbacks. All the things I’ve tackled in life that you didn’t get to be there with me for. I’ve made it a long way from that last shopping trip we went on together before you passed away. I hope you would be proud of me.
I wonder sometimes what you would think of what we’ve all been up to. What you would think about the things I’ve done – would you like Rich? Would you read my multiple drafts of my novel and give me unlimited feedback? Would you visit us in Washington? Where would you be if you were still here? Who would you be? Losing all of those moments is what hurts the most after twenty years. I think it always will. Love you, Lor.
“If you’d waited another two years we’d be dealing with cancer.” That was one of the first things I heard after my first colonoscopy one year ago today. Personal? Sure. TMI? Maybe to some. But that was a moment that triggered me. Motivated me? Woke me up if nothing else to making sure my life is what I want it to be. I’d been dealing with “health issues” since the beginning of 2020 that were new. My doctor was looking into a few things, test were done, meds were tried, and then it was time for the specialist. I was in her office for less than 15 minutes start to finish, and in that time she’d started with “we’ll do some tests and decide if we need to schedule a colonoscopy.” and switched to “I think we need to just do the colonoscopy. We’re going to need to check for cancer.” She said a few other things after that but my brain was stuck on her use of the word cancer.
I went home from that appointment a little rattled. I mean, I didn’t like having anyone use the C word regarding my health, but then I decided we were both probably overreacting. Two days after that appointment Chadwick Boseman, a man my age, died. When they said he died from colon cancer I spent the rest of my evening running down the rabbit hole. Attached to one article was a questionaire – 9 Signs You Might be Dealing With Colon Cancer. I took the test and scored 7 out of 9.
The next two weeks were fun for my husband! I flipped back and forth from I absolutely was dealing with colon cancer, and I absolutley was a hypochondriac and was probably wasting everyone’s time. That was the mindset I went into the actual procedure with two weeks later – I’m going to have to apologize for wasting everyone’s time.
When the results came back I was relieved. But I was also well aware that I’d gotten lucky. I had a great NP who was going to get to the bottom of things. And I had a great RN cousin who was willing to answer a few embarassing questions and gave me the recommendation to the specialist that I trusted right away. If you’re 45+ talk to your doctor now, and make sure you’re getting scheduled for your colonoscopy.
They’ve reduced the suggested age to 45 because the number of younger people – people like Chadwick Boseman – are a fast growing number of colon cancer patients. There’s no need to wait for 50 anymore. My symptoms were the types of symptoms that we sometimes ignore. Please don’t ignore them. Please have enough faith in yourself to trust when you think something might be wrong, even if it’s embarasing to talk about. That embarassing conversation could absolutely save your life.
I’ve been writing. A lot. I write. I write. I doubt myself. I write some more. So, if you haven’t heard from me, this is what I’m doing. I’m almost done for real. I know a lot of you have heard that before but it’s true this time. Looking forward to some time with some yarn and some needles and hooks, but for now I’m writing.
On a regular basis I wear armor. On some days it’s all the emotional armor I can layer over my insides, but on other days I need more than that. On some days I need a little bit of the real thing. On those days this is my piece of armor.
Last year required a strength I wasn’t sure I had, and in the middle of it all my mom gave me my piece of armor. Putting it on reminded me of my little girl days, wrapping strips of tin foil on my wrists, pretending to be Princess Diana. Those tin cuffs made me invincible back then.
I put this bracelet on every couple of days when I need a little reminder of who I am. A reminder of what I’m capable of. On those days that I need to be reminded that I am a Wonder Woman.
So, I’m working on watching what I eat, trying to lose weight. I don’t always do well with this whole eating healthy thing. Mostly because I have a natural affinity for pretty much all things containing sugar.
Friday there was cake at work. A lot of cake. I didn’t have cake. Sunday there was soooooo much Easter candy. I didn’t have candy. Monday there was a huge celebration cake at work and it looked like it had real frosting. My favorite. I went back to my desk without any of it.
But tonight…tonight I caved for a traditional Easter Snowball. It was green. I don’t feel (very) guilty.
As a writer of fiction, one of my main goals when writing a story is to create characters in a way that will make readers connect to them. Each person I put on a page is unique, with their own collection of quirks, trauma, and limitations to add to the story line.
In the world of fiction writing there seems to be a widely used trap for developing female characters. Specifically in the way trauma is created for female characters. It’s a trap I see over and over again to the point it has stopped my progress in a novel. The trap is sexual assault.
To be clear; I am in no way downgrading the traumatic effect of sexual assault. I am not saying it does not happen. I know it happens in alarming numbers across the globe. And I am not saying that it does not have a place in fiction. What I am suggesting is that there’s room in fiction for more, and we should start filling those spaces in with something more.
Women are amazing creatures in the real world. We suffer and conquer so much. Traumatic issues that often strike men in the imaginary world, strike women in the real world. Women lose parents, lose spouses, lose limbs. They have gambling addictions, drinking addictions, sex addictions. They blow chances, blow careers, blow up their lives with a multitude of mistakes. But writers tend to go the easy road. If they need to show that a female character has been made strong or made broken, they pull out the sexual assault.
Two examples of where the sexual assault line was unnecessary for character develop were the recent move Split and the novel Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes. The movie was alright but – without giving away any spoilers – there were two major life events, not even touched on by the film, that would have been enough to create a hard outer layer for their female lead. Instead Shyamalan relied on what’s become the standard.
The novel by JoJo Moyes is brave. And it was a book club book I actually enjoyed. The subject of whether or not a person has the right to decide to end their life if they deem there is no longer quality to it is a big topic to take on. She did it well, with feeling and emotion felt by people on both sides of that debate. To further be able to take such a heavy subject and meld it with a heartbreaking love story, was impressive. She kept it from being over the top, and the ending was exactly what it needed to be.
But half way through the development of the story, as you’re getting to know Louisa and Will, the flow of the story comes to a halt as Louisa delves into a clouded memory of a drunken night and an assault in a garden maze. It was a scene the writer called “almost a throwaway” in this article in the Washington Post, but was used as a way to explain why she was who she was. As if we hadn’t already been given insight into Lou. For me it was jarring, and did not further my understanding of her.
Louisa was quirky. Her family life was a little on the dysfunctional side, her sister was spoiled to say the least, her relationship with men showed me how that home life had influenced her. Louisa was the sister expected to tow the line, just keep moving along, don’t grumble, don’t protest, give up your bedroom and sleep in the closet room, and she had always fallen into that role. Her whole life had been that role.
That girl was who she had always been. Not just after the briefly-mentioned assault. Nothing makes that more clear than the famous bumblebee tights, which she explains were her favorite in childhood. It was a contradiction to the belief around the telling of the assault that her strange sense of fashion was a way to keep people away from her, and made the maze story even more unnecessary. If the book had received the same editing by Moyes as the movie did, I doubt readers would have had any difficulty understanding Louisa.
In the future of fiction I would like to see writers give their females more. Open up their worlds to both good and bad. Let your women and girls taste things, experience things, and survive a beautiful or torturous variety of emotions. Let them have moments of weakness. Let them survive all manners of trauma. And occasionally, just let them be strong.
It’s International Women’s Day and I think it’s a great thing to recognize women and for us women to recognize ourselves every once in awhile. It’s a good thing to take a step back and say to ourselves; ‘Self, we rock.’ It’s a good thing to give a high five to your female friends and family and coworkers and the barista at your local coffee spot. Because the truth is, we deserve it. We do rock. Being a girl can be tough.
I know some people don’t like the F word but I consider myself a feminist. I know that we all put our own spin on what that word means for us as individual women. For me it means toughness and strength with a soft, sensitive inside. It means accepting my good side and my bad side. It means recognizing that I am just as capable as anyone else at being successful and being happy. It means I am in control of that success and that happiness. It means no one is better than me just because of what’s in their pants.
I participated in the No Women campaign today. I participated by not going to work and wearing my red Wonder Woman t-shirt. I read articles on the movement, watched updates on the various rallies, in this country, and around the world. But I didn’t go to any actual protests. I hung out with my husband today. I didn’t avoid spending any money. We went to lunch at a locally owned place. We did some grocery shopping at a locally owned grocery store.
I did that because our waitress was at work today, we added to her tips. The girl in the bakery who boxed up two eclairs for us, and the girl that watched us self scan our groceries were at work today. Those girls depend on their jobs, which depends on those stores, so in a small way we were letting them know they can depend on us. Supporting women, supporting our local economy, is not anti-feminism. Not in my book anyway.
So to all the females out there I hope you found a way to celebrate yourself a little bit today. In fact, celebrate yourself a little bit every day. Take the time to remind yourself that you rock.
Living in Utah, I’m no stranger to odd liquor laws. We can’t buy anything other than beer in our grocery stores. In a restaurant you can’t buy a drink unless you’re also buying food, and restaurant bartenders have to pour your drinks behind what we lovingly call a “Zion Curtain” so fragile people don’t see the scandalous act of pouring liquor from a bottle.
Because of all of this we were somewhat impressed when Brewvies was awarded a liquor license here in Salt Lake. The establishment offers movies, food and liquor to patrons 21 and over. It’s been an awesome addition to our downtown. But a vaguely written liquor law is threatening the fun and pitching the owners of the bar against the state, and the reason might surprise you, even for Utah.
The theatre played Deadpool. And – SPOILER ALERT – you see boobs and sex in Deadpool. Utah has a ridiculous law that says you can’t show nudity or sex AND serve alcohol. Because somehow, grown adults can only be trusted with either alcohol or movie sex scenes, but we cannot be trusted to indulge in both at the same time.
I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen if we do drink a vodka and Coke while getting a glimpse of a naked bum, but the state thinks it’s lose-your-liquor-license bad. To make the situation worse; if they had edited those scenes out and just shown you the fight scenes with the blood and the gore and the killing, the state would have no issue with showing Deadpool at Brewvies. None.
And that is what I have the biggest issue with. I need someone to explain, in a way that makes sense, why it’s perfectly acceptable to mix liquor with all the bloody violence Hollywood can cram into a script, but the second a boob comes out or people start knockin’ boots, we’ve suddenly gone too far? When are we going to stop being so afraid of naked bodies and fake sex, especially as adults? Really, we need to talk about this…
So…Our six week project has taken a little longer than anyone expected. The kitchen/dining space finally looks like a real space. We’re only missing the counter tops, sink, and the lights which are all up for this week. All of that should happen this week. Last week the new bay windows went in, and the hood range went up. Rich added all of the pulls and knobs so that our crew would have fewer small projects to deal with as we near the finish line. After the end of the inside project, our outside project is predicted to take 2 weeks. I’m so anxious to get it all put together. 🙂
Tonight I’m hanging out in my favorite pair of grey sweats watching Top Chef with Rich. It’s just a typical Friday night after a long work week. But the one thing that stands out for me about this Friday night is that this is the last Friday night of my 30’s. As of tomorrow my age will officially start with a 4. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.
Yesterday, a friend asked what advice I would give 30 year old me. I think he asked because he’s soon turning 30. The first thing that came time mind was that I’d tell myself to finish my book a lot faster. ‘What if you don’t writer books, then what would you tell yourself? What would you do different?’ he asked. And I really had to think about it. Would I do anything different than what 30 year old me did? I honestly don’t know that I would.
During that conversation yesterday I said that I try very hard not to live with regret, and I mean that. When I think back on the last 10 years I can’t deny I’ve had my share of ups and downs. There were times when I was tested and times when I celebrated, but I don’t think I would take any of it back. I was trying to figure a lot of things out in my 20’s – I was figuring out adulthood and parenthood all at the same time – but by the time I hit 30 I felt like I had some of it finally under control.
I decided awhile ago that we all have things we look back on and think ‘What the hell did I do that for?’ Instead of dwelling on those moments, letting them eat me up as regret, I decided to look at those moments as lessons. Rather than saying ‘What the hell did I just do?’ I can feel much better with a simple ‘Well, we’ve learned we should never do that one again’. By changing that one little statement I can look back on my 30’s and say I did pretty well and I learned a few lesson. So, bring it on 40. Let’s see how many lessons you can teach.