Monday, October 26, 2009

Waking Up in Harrah’s/Being the House

I recently found myself (a self-declared non-gambler) in Atlantic City, due to what I refer to as a family obligation, making the best of things while playing Blackjack to pass the time. The dealer was showing an ace.
“He’s got a ten under there,” the slightly inebriated, total stranger sitting next to me, whispered into my ear. “Never fails. Odds are always in favor of the house.”
Turned out the stranger was right. The dealer had a blackjack, then had about five or six more. Nobody at that table stood a fighting chance. Still we wagered our chips, we hit, we stayed, each of us indulging an unspoken fantasy that we’d end up with pockets a little fatter than when we started. I was heading straight over to the Swarovski store with my winnings. Umm – yeah. Didn’t happen.
The casino was bulging at the seams. (Did someone say recession?) If I was a betting girl I’d go “all in” with the notion that the vast majority left for home far lighter, monetarily speaking, than they’d arrived. Were they all just too obsessed with the remote chance that they could somehow, someway beat those nasty old odds?
I want to beat them too. I want to see the world through cut crystal eyes, want to bring a dream to life, feed an insatiable fire in my gut, pull a 21. It’s a gamble I wake up to every day. Like it or not, I’m addicted to the possibility that I can beat the odds – be the dealer for a change. Or be the house.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What William Knew

It was a special kind of torture, having to read Shakespeare in high school. All I could think back then was, “What the hell is this guy trying to say?” and oh yeah, “What does he know anyway?”
Fast forward twenty-something years. Still don’t read much Shakespeare, I’m afraid. Only now I’ve managed to figure out a thing or two about his many quotes. And you know what? They actually make sense. I wonder if I had to grow up some in order for the words to have meaning. Maybe I had to get divorced to appreciate, “The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.” Maybe I had to have two kids to get, “How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" (Note – my children have since found their manners.) And who in their right mind can’t relate to, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”
Perhaps I had to become an author-in-waiting to understand, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
I’m attempting to write, pushing doubt and fear aside to promote my novel, and wrangling hope that one day I’ll see it in print. It may be a crazy, long shot but, after all, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't."

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I don’t know what made me think of her. My grandmother, gone for a decade, yet still smiling out at me from the picture frames scattered here and there, most in need of a good dust rag. But it seems her memory comes calling, like a neighbor you weren’t expecting but you’re just as glad to see. I sit with the faded conversations, hers and mine; visiting the ones I like best. Then I remember the Gramisms –shots of wisdom, advice delivered in her sweet way, never preachy, condescending or glib.

Keep your underpants clean and your conscience cleaner.

If you leave the house and forget your manners, go back for them.

Take a minute, just one, in 24 hours and help yourself to a fresh lungful of air. Then immediately thank God that you can.

Carry a song in your heart or someplace close by. When the rain falls, and it will, reach in and sing it away.

Life was simpler then, with my grandmother alive and a younger me with a younger mind – more spacious, excited, ready. It drizzles more now and I sing less. My conscience needs a dusting too. Please and thank you are often optional. I breathe mostly without a careful gratitude – until the memories come calling. And I answer.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One Loyal Heart

I remember it like it was yesterday. Creative Writing 101. I was eager to learn...bright-eyed, bushy-tailed; the Energizer bunny on steroids. We were a motley crew, assembled in desks meant for more youthful bodies, strewn together in the same way a homemade quilt is created - swatches of colors, shapes, sizes; mismatched and uneven. Yet our goals were so close they were nearly indistinguishable one from the next. Our first assignment was two questions long. Why do you want to write? And what are you going to say? Answer must be 100 words or less. Just last night I found my homework. That one. It went like this :

I want to write a perfect story about an imperfect world.

I want to write about the way I believe things ought to be because it can be a welcome escape from the way things really are.

I want to write about ordinary people with ordinary lives who discover themselves to be extraordinary when given the chance.

Most of all I want to write to breathe easier, expose a truth, bond with another human soul, and deliver a dream to the light of reality because these things make me who I am.

That was well over five years ago. And yet, those very things still ring true today. Seems the more changes that come, the more the heart remains loyal to itself.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Just a little Romance

I promised myself I wouldn’t ever discuss love. Mostly ‘cause it’s all been said and done before. Why then, at my ripe old age of (clears throat, mumbles,) why does it seem like the topic of romance never seems to go away? I’m a sucker for the girl meets boy, girl flips for boy, cue the drama, heartache, toss in a tear or two, the good, the bad, the ugly. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I thought once I reached a certain point in my life I’d mellow out; stop living in the hearts and flower fantasies that, in my mind, almost always end up happily ever after. Not so. I still actively seek a love story. In fact, sometimes I chase it, regardless of the worn out plot line, familiar characters and unoriginal premise. And regardless of the endings.
It was Benjamin Disraeli, a novelist in the 1800’s who said, “Romance has been elegantly defined as the offspring of fiction and love.” It’s no coincidence than, that as an aspiring writer I am intensely and eagerly drawn to both. I’ll take no more than my fair share. Indulge me in the written word. Perhaps I’ll be a glutton there. But just a little romance will do.