Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Eye of the Storm

Today is April 28th. You know what today is? The Day Between the Birthdays.

Brett, my brother, and I had just a day apart from our birthdays. Well, 2 years and 363 days. I'm October 11th, and he's October 13th, and man oh man, there hath no sin committed by my mother greater than forcing Brenda to share a party with Brett. Well, at least until I grew up and saw the convenience of it. When he and I were little, it made even more sense; it's not like we went to school yet, so all of our friends were from church, and therefore, friends with both of us. Yet I hated it all the same. I specially remember one birthday in particular. It was a rare birthday in which my parents bought a store-made cake (Mom usually made our cakes) and it was split right down the middle, decorated in two themes, one for him... one for me.

He played peewee football, so his side had little football players all over it with goal posts and everything. Made sense... he was a little football player.

My side was done in Halloween, with witches. Made sense, right... since I was a little... wait a minute!! *indignant pause inserted here*

I don't remember many shared birthdays after that, and please do not get me wrong here, in fact, if I'd been Mom, I'd forced shared birthdays forever.

I can say that because I find myself in the same situation, but instead of just three years apart, my two are SIX YEARS apart. And well... (sighs) Okay, I admit it: it's my fault their birthdays are only separated by one day.

Little Miss Carly Victoria was born five days late, induced on April 29th, 1994. YAY! Pizza anyone? (Inside story). Then, six years later, I was in the most horrific pregnancy ever, and having 5 pregnancies, I can say that. So the doctor gave me two dates in which to induce Baby #3: April 27th, or May 5th.

Well... in hindsight, being the Beast that hindsight IS, I should have held out for May 5th, but the pain got the best of me, so on April 27th, 2000, Sydney Elizabeth burst forth into the world.

So April 28th is the Day Between.

I've tried pretty hard since Syd was born not to "share" the birthdays. Unfortunately, Syd came home from the hospital on Carly's 6th birthday, and of course, people in their sweetness and ignorance told Carly she got a new baby sister for her birthday. Well Carly didn't ASK for a new baby sister -- she just wanted a Barney video or Barbie or cash to hide in her room (another inside story). So after that, I did my best to keep the birthdays as individual as the girls themselves.

Then this year came.

My goal is to always give the weekend before the birthdays to Sydney, and the weekend afterward to Carly. For traveling family (like Mom and Dad, plus friends, like Margaret and company) this doesn't always mean you get the visit ON the birthday because it's a bit to travel two weekends in a row. But this year is unique. The weekend after the birthdays, on Friday, Carly and Sydney and me and a few girl scouts all head to Girl Scout Camp at Texlake in Austin to camp in treehouses, so there's no way to party the weekend after.

So we partied the weekend before. Combined.

We had about 25 people here. Shandie came up from Texas State (a 2 hours drive), Mom and Dad and Margaret and Charlie and Cari all came down from Ft Worth (a 2.5 hours drive). Neighbors came over for the cookout (about a 20 second drive in Cameron), and Sydney had NO. IDEA. AT. ALL.

I'd told her last year that from now on, all birthdays were family only. No more friends invited who never show up and never RSVP (so irksome). So she thought there was NOTHING. In fact, her father told me the following:

Sydney to her dad: Can we buy me some party favors?
Brian: Why?
Sydney: Because Mom said no more parties, but if I can buy some favors, at least it'll FEEL like my birthday.

Guilt much, Sydney? Geeze, child.
Thankfully, Brian knew of the plans already made and did not give in to the favors.

Instead, Sydney walked into the backyard to hear everyone say SURPRISE and get showered with gifts and love. It was also for Carly, but she knew about it, and didn't seem to mind sharing it with Sydney.

At least this one time...
So Happy Decade Old for Sydney Elizabeth and Happy Sweet Sixteen to Carly Victoria. I love you both more than you will ever realize until you're blessed with your own beautiful daughters. (In 30 years or so, of course.)

As for Brenda, Happy April 28th -- my day of nothingness.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'll Have What She's Having

Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.
Sally Albright: I don't see that.

I’m fascinated by this idea. Unfortunately, I’m apparently like Sally Albright, because it appears that even though I don’t view myself as High Maintenance, others DO. I’m not sure why, but they do. So… I did some research.

On Facebook, I put it in my status, asking others what they thought High Maintenance meant to them. Several said the way I view it: Perfect hair and make-up, designer clothing, wanting only the best of material things, blah blah blah.

One friend said when he and I dated, I was pretty laid back. Which is funny, since I was only 19 at the time and 19 in general is a living, breathing hell, but given who his girlfriend was before me, that may be why he viewed me a “laid back”. I just know I wasn’t going to argue since he’s apparently one of the very few who think of me as low maintenance.

A few years ago, in fact, it was 2007 because I remember it vividly, it dawned on me that there is emotional high maintenance so very different from how I’d viewed high maintenance in materialistic ways. Needing reassurance, mental stimulation, the spark and connection. I could see me high maintenance that way. Of course, it was also pointed out to me by someone else that those things weren’t high maintenance in their opinion, but just basic human necessities to feel needed and wanted and loved, and if those things were not being fulfilled and thus creating the high maintenance fallout, that was on the other person to not provide as promised. Which makes sense; I’ve always claimed Love is a verb, an action, so if those actions aren’t made and the love isn’t evident, then yeah, the questions and insecurities would definitely flair up. Anyone can say they love someone else. But showing love – that’s worth much more than diluted words someone may utter just to float by in life to maintain a status quo.

Anyway, back to topic:

Another friend said: It’s like a high performance car. If you want the best out of it, you have feed the best into it. (paraphrased)

A third friend said I’m a drama magnet, which used to be very true. But note the magnet – it somehow finds me, but isn’t generated by me. That was good news. And I think it’s the Libran in me attempting to fix and balance others and then getting dragged into it, but… (shrugs) That friend also said that the good thing about my brand of high maintenance is that it’s never boring.

Um. Thanks. I think.

I know I’m definitely not the materialistic high maintenance. I like to shop as much as the next person, but I really like finding good deals, etc, and name brands are not my thing. But the emotional high maintenance, I think if it’s being nurtured and fed and reinforced, that’s not high maintenance at all: That’s what I call Happily Ever After.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday's Five -- Heroes

Five qualities my heroes always have:

1) Self-confidence boarding arrogance but not crossing the line.
2) Intelligence. Most definitely.
3) A scorching look.
4) Barely contained passion toward everything important to him.
5) A innate need to protect what he deems is "HIS".

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

True Love and Fate

While working on BARELY THERE, I’m digging around in Delaney’s past and Mitch’s past, seeing what makes them – well – them. One of the most important things in my hero and heroine’s make-up is how previous relationships have affected them, and how that past relationship makes them view the idea of new relationships. This isn’t just in novels, obviously, but is something we’ve all probably have experienced in our own lives.

Most everyone – aside from Rick, apparently – knows the movie The Princess Bride and tons of the movie quotes, including “TruuuUUUUe Love”. But before that particular quote, there’s another one regarding the real-deal True Love. At the beginning of the movie, when Buttercup is speaking of her love’s assumed death, she states:

“I died that day.”

And I think this is true. If one has loved, truly loved, and it dies a shocking, violent end without consent and closure, we all die a little. We’re not remotely the person we were before. We are jaded. We are scarred. The scars may fade in time, the jaded outlook may calm, but part of us will never be the same again. Ever. The innocence of that purity of love is forever gone. You know now there’s a fantastically bitter alternative that you hadn’t experienced before. You are forever changed. Part of you has, indeed, died.

And it’s my personal belief that if you were to see that person again (as in a break-up, obviously not as in death situations), that part of you will emotionally fling back to that pain. Instantly. You may have memory jolts of the extreme love and happiness, but I promise you’ll also have shards of the pain pressing against the tender scars.

But…here’s the real question circling around my brain today: what happens while the wound is still fresh, blood is still leaking out around your hasty bandage, and someone else comes along? It’s pretty natural, at least to me, to find someone quickly to help dull the pain, to justify that you’re worthy enough to be with someone else, etc. And there’s a name for that: rebound.

And we all know how rebound relationships go, right?

But, just for “what if”, let’s say it’s NOT a rebound, or at least it’s claimed not to be a rebound. That this is IT, The One. (cue Snow White’s chirping birds here)

Is it possible to have BELIEVED you truly loved when in fact, you hadn’t? Is it possible to claim that your future only seemed bright with that first person, only to find that the level of brightness isn’t comparable to the newly neon shine of the latter love? Any proclamations made to the first may have been true at the time, but then a couple of weeks or so later, another person stumbles into your life and suddenly, the first doesn’t have the glow you once thought? At the time, you thought you’d never eat again, sleep again, smile again – your life and the future you’d planned on having with that person is gone gone gone with no hope of renewal but a month later, your head is spinning with love and happiness and the future dawns bright again.

In my world, that doesn’t make sense at ALL but really, I have no idea of these answers and the more I think about it, the more questions I end up asking myself. This is one of the reasons I hate hypothetical questions. I can’t pinpoint the validity of the answer, especially if I’m not the one living it.

From another one of my All Time Favorite Movies, EVER AFTER:

Prince Henry: Do you really think there is only one perfect mate?

Leonardo da Vinci: As a matter of fact, I do.

Prince Henry: Well then how can you be certain to find them? And if you do find them, I mean really the one for you, or do you only think they are, then what happens if the person you're supposed to be with never appears, or she does but you're too distracted to notice?

Leonardo da Vinci: You learn to pay attention.

Prince Henry: And let's say... God pus 2 people on earth and they are lucky enough to find one another, but one of them gets hit by lightening, well then what, is that it? Or perchance you meet someone new and marry all over again, is that the lady you're supposed to be with, or was it the first? And if so, when the 2 of them are walking side by side, were they both the one for you and you just happened to meet the first one first, or was the second one supposed to be first? And is everything chance? Or are some things meant to be?

Leonardo da Vinci: You cannot leave everything to fate, boy. She's got a lot to do, sometimes you must give her a hand.

Okay, taking Prince Henry’s rambling thoughts to mind, let’s say you’re foolish enough to fall in love again – and your gut tells you that it’s real FOR REAL this time. Should it end yet again and the future is gone gone gone yet again, will the pain be as blindingly horrific as the last time, or, because you’ve experienced it already, the pain is muted, even if just a little, because scars cover the previous wounds. The most pain now would be an itching against that scar, a reminder of what you’ve already survived and acknowledgement that you could – if you had to – survive a great loss again. And, because of that survival, because of the jaded past that now defines the new you, are you that much more willing to toss away love and futures and walk away because you know you can survive it? If you begged that first relationship to not be over, but on the newer one you tend to think of ending it more often, what, exactly, does that mean? Is it a gut reaction to stave off pain like you barely survived, and is an acidic “I don’t even care as much as I used to” type situation? What makes someone change the core of who they are so completely? What makes them go from begging one person, then the second person they supposedly “really truly” love they don’t cling to it just as strongly? Ugh, so many questions!

OR! Maybe this is all a male vs. female thing. Maybe men do recover from lost love faster than women do. I don’t think this is the answer, but it could be. For my hero and heroine, this is what they’re telling me, but it just poses a lot more questions of their past and their personalities to figure out their future.

Because you know me: I have to have my Happily Ever After. There’s no alternative for that in Brenda’s World.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday's Five -- Websites

Today I'm posting the websites I go to every day, without fail:

5) eBay

Also on there would be gmail to check my email, but I didn't think that'd really count.

What are the websites you go to every day without fail? Maybe I can find a few new ones to add to those I already visit.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Put Up or Shut Up, Brenda

So... I either messed up, or it was fate, or something similarly squicky, but either way, a revelation definitely happened today, one I knew -- in my heart -- but hadn't really looked at too closely until this morning, and the shock of it jolted me. Violently.

One of my favorite places to visit every day is Lucy March and it's really great to watch her on a daily basis as she travels emotionally and mentally through Life right now. I replied to her post, and then she replied back, and reminded me of an email I sent her years ago after reading her first book, TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR, and if you read my stuff at all, you'll know it's one of my all-time favorite books. I'd forgotten about that email I'd sent until she reminded me of it, and in doing so, I went digging through my blog, back to 2005, and time after time of reading blog post after blog post, one thing kept sounding loud and clear, and I sat here, staring and reading, it was like roadkill I couldn't look away from.

A huge, vast galaxy of excuses.

I wasn't writing because of this. I wasn't writing because of that. Day after day, week after week, YEAR AFTER YEAR!

I sat here, staring at my laptop.

So okay -- the other side of it. In the last five years, tons of changes have happened in my life. HUGE, HONKIN' changes. Two moves, Sydney's asperger's, Cooper's epilepsy, Shandie off to college, a divorce. Finding who I really am, aside from wife then ex-wife, mother, daughter, Rick's girlfriend, online friendships, now Girl Scout leader and real life friendships. If I strip all of that away, over the course of these years of turmoil, I'm pretty comfortable now with who I know I am.

So, today, April 7, 2010, I'm drawing my line in my own sand. For FIVE YEARS -- five years -- my God just to type it... I've spewed excuse after excuse on why the writing isn't forthcoming. In the last two months, I've written more than I did the last couple of years, but it's not enough. Sure, I've made progress, but it's NOT. ENOUGH.

Two years ago I said I wouldn't attend another National conference until I had something ready to pitch, and I didn't have anything ready, so I didn't go to San Fran or to DC. But this year, this is the year I was going to return, I was going to be in the writing world again, and I was going to write and be ready to pitch. I know I want to write for Blaze. I've created myself a one year, five year and 10 year plan. I've learned collages. But I'm still not producing pages on a daily basis. I'm a realist enough to see the progress I've made and give myself credit for it, but also to understand, deep in my soul, that it's simply not enough.

As Rick said when I talked to him about this, my writing STILL has not become a priority. And, as usual (grumble grumble): He's right.

April is always a tough month for me. Easter and then Carly and Sydney's birthdays. Money is tighter than usual. So I said I didn't think I'd make it to Austin for my writers meetings (it's an hour and a half each way to travel.) But if it's important, I'd find a way, so we'll figure it out to make it happen because *It's Important* that I do so.

For me to keep my promise to myself not to attend Nationals unless I can pitch, I have until May 18th. Early registration for Nationals ends on May 19th. That means that as of today, April 7th, I have six weeks to FINISH this book I'm currently working on.

If I do not meet this goal, I will walk away from writing altogether and simply be a fan of some of the most wonderful women I've ever met and support them as much as I can. This is my line.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Friday's Five ~ Language

Five words I wish would come back in everyday language, just because I like them, which of course, is reason enough right there:

1) Nonsensical -- noun

  • words or language having little or no sense or meaning.

  • conduct, action, etc., that is senseless, foolish, or absurd: to have tolerated enough nonsense.

  • impudent, insubordinate, or otherwise objectionable behavior: He doesn't have to take that nonsense from you.

  • something absurd or fatuous: the utter nonsense of such a suggestion.

  • anything of trifling importance or of little or no use.

2) Thwart -- verb (used with object)

  • to oppose successfully; prevent from accomplishing a purpose.

  • to frustrate or baffle (a plan, purpose, etc.).

3) Happenstance -- noun

  • a chance happening or event.

4) flummox [fluhm-uh ks] -- verb (used with object)

  • Informal.

  • to bewilder; confound; confuse.

5) Glib -- adjective,glib·ber, glib·best.

  • readily fluent, often thoughtlessly, superficially, or insincerely so: a glib talker; glib answers.

Side note: glibber is an awesome word -- never heard that one before!

So, any you wish would come back into language style?