Do you remember…

My mom’s favorite color is yellow. I don’t know if she would still answer that question the same way, but for me, her favorite color will always be yellow. When I was in kindergarten or first grade we were told we needed to find out our mom’s favorite color for a gift we were making in class, without letting her know what it was for. I clearly remember hatching my plan. I ran out from my bedroom and asked my mom her favorite color. And then, to keep her from figuring out what I was up to, I ran back out and asked my dad for his favorite color. His is red. She was never going to figure me out now! For a long time my little yellow plaster hand print hung on the kitchen wall. Along with a braided potpourri ball we’d made as another gift. It too was yellow.

I’ve always thought I had a pretty good memory. I can remember making a house out of a giant box with my uncle Duane when I was a kid, and being impressed he was big enough to use a pocket knife. I found out much later from my grandmother that we built the house the day my little brother was born. Two weeks before I turned 3. I can clearly remember Duane cutting in a little window that day, but funny enough, I can’t tell you anything about my little brother being born. Actually, I can’t remember my little brother coming into my world at all. More accurately, I can’t remember my world without him. The way my brain has remembered things, my brother has always been there.

A few weeks ago my memory was tested by my friend Piper. For reasons I don’t remember, we were talking about the day of my wedding and the fact that I was late. She arrived first and called me to make sure we were still coming so she could do my hair but she didn’t remember that part. What she does remember is the day I came to her house for a practice run on my hair. A practice run  that I don’t remember. AT. ALL. While Piper remembers vividly our practice run, doing the twists, practicing with the tiara,  and something to do with a make up drawer – I don’t. Not exactly anyway. The more I thought about it, the more I thought maybe – just maybe – it did happen.

Focusing I what I couldn’t remember, I eventually remembered something happening at Piper’s house a week or two before my wedding. The thing is, no matter what, I don’t remember that thing having anything to do with my hair. What I do remember now is being at Piper’s house before my wedding because she was giving me the “something borrowed” part of my wedding tradition. I do distinctly remember sitting in her room while she pieced through her jewelry box, and deciding on a ring our friend Lori had given her before passing away. I even remember some other pieces of jewelry – a bracelet I think was from Sarinda? But no matter what, I don’t remember practicing my hair. I wouldn’t have been worried about what she was going to do with my hair, I trusted everything she came up with from the start, and maybe that’s why it isn’t what stayed with me.

I don’t understand what makes some things stick in your brain and other things to float out into the universe. Why is it that I can remember an insult thrown at me in the eighth grade(ever been called a goody-goody slut? I have.) and the response I came up with (Pick one, you can’t call me both.) but I can’t remember my wedding hair? Where did my brain stash that little bit? Why can’t I recall something that, knowing Piper and I, had to have gotten mushy at some point? I think that was probably one of those moments my brain should have held onto. Am I the only one? Is there anything you remember that you don’t know why, or things you’ve had to be reminded of that should have still been around?

 

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The Other Side of Depression

The news of Robin Williams’ suicide rocked me yesterday, as it did so many others. Facebook and blogs filled up with remembrances, and reminders of the importance of mental health treatment. My Twitter feed was full of personal memories, favorite movie roles, and retweets of suicide prevention hotlines. Some of the posts choked me up, some made me laugh, but one set me on fire. It was one little comment on a Twitter feed. Less than 140 characters, said by a total stranger, in regards to the death of a man I’ve never met. One question soaked with blame that went straight to my heart.

 “Where were his family and friends when he needed them?”

            The answer to that question is “Right there.” I would brave to guess that his wife and his kids and his friends were all right there with him. And like so many of us who do watch from the side lines, they were hurting right along with him. To believe that the effects of depression are only felt by the person with the diagnoses borders on delusional. The tentacles of depression are far reaching. Anyone who cares for a person with this disease understands this. In our house, my son’s diagnoses came at the age of six, shortly after the first time he vocalized thoughts of suicide. And for the twelve years since, we’ve watched his battle and done everything we could think of to help, all while mostly feeling helpless. I imagine this is a feeling Robin Williams’ loved ones were familiar with.

The worst part about watching someone you love fight against depression is that, as the one on the outside of their brain, you don’t always know which side of the battle they’re on. If he comes to dinner with us and smiles it could be that he’s winning for the moment. Or it could be that he’s trying really hard to convince us he’s winning for the moment. And there’s only so many of those days he can get through in a row. More often than not, stringing together those fake good days ends badly. I have no way of describing what those dark days are like for my son. I can tell you that they are heartbreaking for the rest of us. But we don’t give up. We hold on and fight forward, and on the days that the disease really has a hold, we drag him kicking, and hope we can convince him not to give up either. I know we’re not the only ones who do this.

There are days – spans of days, even weeks – where we feel like we’re on calm seas. The tension eases and we all go about our lives with the depression just being part of the backdrop. Other days – or spans of days, at some points even weeks – the depression is front and center for all of us, and we jump around on egg shells and hold on. And unless you’ve experienced the fear of opening a door to a quiet room, or had a knock-down, drag-out, scream-fest with someone you love more than life, over whether or not they need to stay alive; you have no idea where Robin Williams’ family and friends have been. But many of us do understand. And our hearts go out to them as they face the nightmare the rest of us selfishly hope to never have to face ourselves.

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You are a writer….

 

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”

– Earnest Hemingway

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Writer’s Blog Tour!

Thanks Ipuna Black for the Writing Process Blog Tour invite! She writes YA fantasy and is in the process of querying agents with her completed novel. You can follow her on twitter @IpunaBlack, on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ipuna.black, or on her website atipunablack.com, so check her out!

 

  • What are you working on?  Edits! I am doing what I have vowed will be my last round of edits for my novel The Myth Maker unless I’m eventually ordered to do more by an agent or publisher. It’s a long and grueling process but well worth it. After attending the Las Vegas Writer’s Convention in April, I came away with a lot of great hints on how to improve my story. Once the edits are done I’m going to make a serious jump into the wild and wacky world of queries! And, just because that is never enough, I’m also working on the second in Kat’s series, which is yet untitled.

 

  • How does your work differ from others in your genre?  There is a vast and talented group of writers who produce crime and mystery novels like I do. Writing about murder and the dark side of humanity is not an original idea. I think what makes my work stand out from others is my characters. I pour my soul into the characters I write, and I want readers to connect with them like old friends. The fact that test readers have come to love Kat Lang and the rest of her crew as much as I do, means everything to me.

 

  • Why do you write what you do?  This ones easy! On my list of “What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up”, I always had two things: a cop and a writer. There were other ideas that I floated around from time to time, but I’ve always had a strong interest in law enforcement. I chose motherhood and a desk job over law enforcement so, I live vicariously through the characters in my stories. I have made a few attempts at writing projects that don’t involve people dying, and I’ve failed both times. The first was meant to be a fun and silly romance novel but, less than half way through, a murder appeared all by itself. The project is still on my to-do list!

 

  • How does your writing process work?  I use what I like to call the organized chaos method. I’m not the kind of writer who can sit down and make a point by point outline, start at the beginning, move onto the middle and then finish it up with the perfect ending. I write scenes as they come to me and figure out where they’re leading me. Sometimes I first have to figure out which story they’re supposed to be in, but it usually works out. When I get a strong scene finished I kind of build out from there in all directions and figure out how to construct the story around it. When I was writing The Myth maker, I actually wrote the entire end scene with only a few pages of a beginning and absolutely nothing of a middle. Everything that I originally wrote stayed in the ending, even though I didn’t have a clue at the time how I was going to get all of my characters to that point. Once I get enough pieces of the story written out, I make an attempt at an outline but my outlines tend to change on a regular basis.

 

 

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