Archive of ‘LWOAM’ category

Writing for My Life

Last night, I had the honor of meeting Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author Anna Quindlen.

Okay, when I say I “met” her, I sat in the audience and heard her speak about her new book, “Write For Your Life,” asked her a question about writing my memoir, and stood in line for her to sign my book. I spoke to her for no more than a minute, and yet her words have changed me as a writer.

For instance, why write? Yes, I have a personal connection to Parkinson’s Disease and often feel I was put on this Earth to raise awareness and tell that story. However, it isn’t the only reason. I also write to be known. That doesn’t mean I long to be famous or win awards, far from it. I hope someday my 50-year-old grandchild (f I should be so lucky to have one) discovers my blog, reads my stories, soaks in my words, resonates with them on a personal level, and ultimately knows me as a person. And then, my writing becomes my legacy long after I’m gone.

Another gem from last night was during the Q&A when someone asked Ms. Quindlen what advice she has for aspiring writers. I love when people ask this of other authors. The answers always vary and are often either practical, inspiring, or esoteric. Quindlen did not disappoint.

“Put your butt in the chair,” she said. It is the only way to be a prolific writer. She said to write when you are in the mood and when you aren’t. Write when you feel you have nothing to talk about. And write the minute something strikes you because if you don’t, you run the risk of forgetting about it.

She is so right. Sitting down to write can be a challenge for me. It isn’t that I don’t have something to say. (I always have something to say. 🙂 ) It’s the real-world distractions like housework and errands that keep me from my passion. I also have a day job that I love, but where I constantly write, leaving little creative juices left for writing my memoir. All of this is why this blog too often winds up at the bottom of my to-do list.

So, I’ve taken a few actions to remedy this problem. This week, I signed up for HippoCamp, a small writer’s conference in Lancaster, PA, specifically for creative non-fiction writers. This is an important distinction because so many events focus on fiction writing, with only a handful of workshops dedicated to personal essays, biographies, and memoirs. At HippoCamp, I’ll learn to fact-check my family story, use my five senses to bring back long-lost memories, and how to infuse my weird sense of humor into complex topics. The writers who attend this conference are supportive, brilliant, inspiring, and, like me, they want their stories to be known.

I’m also putting my butt in the chair. This requires a drastic change to my morning routine. No more sitting on the couch for an hour and scrolling through Facebook. I waste precious time there. Mornings are the best time for me to write. So, I will set my alarm and stop hitting the snooze button. When I wake up, I will drink coffee, do the Wordle, and write. Because this book isn’t going to write itself, and this blog will soon be forgotten if I don’t give it some love and post more often.

Most importantly, I will never be truly known, and that yet-to-exist grandchild will never read these stories until I sit down to write them.

Death by Questions

Last Monday, I tested positive for COVID-19. Today, I tested negative. YAY!

In those five days, I have been shown so much kindness and concern from all of you. Your text messages, phone calls, Facebook messages, and suggestions for binge-able Netflix shows and movies were so appreciated. And, my fantastic work friends were so thoughtful to send me a Shabbat dinner for tonight so that I didn’t have to cook. So many of you texted me daily to make sure I was still alive. I am really and truly feeling the love right now. 

But the questions… the endless stream of questions that came my way almost killed me. It’s hard to be peppered with questions and expected to answer coherently and in great detail while symptomatic, and trying to rest and recover. So, I did the only thing that made sense to me. I started to make a list of all the questions. Not the answers. Just the questions. So many questions.

I kid you because I love you all. And now that I’m on the mend, I’m declaring the question and answer period officially over.

The Kindest of Questions

  • How are you feeling?
  • Do you have a fever?
  • Are you coughing?
  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did the symptoms start?
  • How is everyone else in your house feeling?
  • What are their symptoms?
  • Did you have COVID before this?
  • Is it as bad as it was the last time?
  • Can I get you anything?
  • Do you want me to go grocery shopping for you?
  • Can I bring you some chicken noodle soup?
  • Are you taking medicine?
  • What are you taking?
  • Do you have any Vicks VapoRub?
  • Are you vaccinated and boosted?
  • Did you sleep?
  • Did you lose your sense of smell or taste?

Questions from the COVID-19 Detective Squad

  • Where do you think you got COVID?
  • Where have you traveled to lately?
  • Did you get it at the swim meet?
  • Do you think you picked it up when you went to Towson last week?
  • Were you feeling sick when you went for your colonoscopy?
  • Was anyone coughing around you?
  • Were masks required everywhere you went?
  • Were you wearing a mask?
  • Was anyone wearing a mask?
  • Was there a vaccination requirement?
  • Did you have to show proof of vaccination?
  • How long did you stay?
  • Were you around people who were exposed recently?
  • Who let the dogs out? (Just making sure you are still reading 🙂 )

Testing! Testing!

  • When did the symptoms start?
  • When did you take the test?
  • Was it a rapid test or a PCR test?
  • Are you going to ask for a PCR test?
  • Where did you get the home test?
  • Did you buy a test, or did you have one already?
  • Did you take another test?
  • How many tests are you going to take?
  • How accurate is the test?
  • Did the line show up right away?
  • Was the line dark or faint?
  • Are you sure there were two lines?
  • Did you wait the full 15 minutes?
  • When can you test again?
  • Do you need more tests?

Quarantine Questions

  • How long are you supposed to quarantine?
  • Are you self-isolating?
  • Is Scott feeling okay?
  • Did you call the doctor?
  • What did he say?
  • How long does the CDC recommend you self-isolate?
  • Did you do the proper contact tracing?
  • Did you let everyone know?

Personal Questions

  • Are you and Scott still sleeping in the same bed?
  • Where is he going to sleep?
  • Do you have a sofa bed?
  • Where is the dog sleeping?
  • Is the dog sick too?

Work Questions

  • Does your boss know?
  • Do your colleagues know?
  • Do the people in this Zoom meeting know?
  • What did the people at work say?
  • Are you working this week?
  • Can you take sick time?
  • Does anybody really know what time it is? 🙂

Even More Questions

  • Are the kids staying away from you?
  • Did they take a test?
  • Was it a home test or a PCR test?
  • Didn’t they have COVID this year already?
  • When did they have it?
  • How are they feeling?
  • Do they have any symptoms?
  • Are they still going out with their friends?
  • Do their friends know?
  • Do their friends’ parents know?

Questions from our Kids

  • Can you sit over there?
  • Can you not touch my food/breathe on me/come into my room?
  • Should I play water polo this spring?
  • Can you drive me back to college on Saturday?
  • What’s for dinner?

Into Thin Air

Some mornings, it’s my purse that goes missing. The other day my car keys were MIA. And yesterday, I couldn’t find my glasses.

I searched the entire house twice. I remembered when I had them last. I was sitting at this desk on an after-hours Zoom call with a colleague putting the final touches on an email that needed to go out in the morning.

I looked on my desk, underneath it, and to the side where items tend to fall. I even lifted the standing desk, which is risky because wires cross and unplug with this tricky maneuver.

I formed a search party. Andrew looked downstairs. I went upstairs. My dog, Chloe, followed me around the house, offering unspoken love and support. And Scott followed me around the house, peppering me with questions.

Did you look in the car?

Did you check your coat pocket?

When did you see them last?

Did you retrace your steps?

This well-meaning interrogation wasn’t super helpful. Of course, I looked in all of those places. And yes, I retraced my steps. I am the patron saint of lost items when it comes to finding things for other people. I know where to look. But for some reason, my sixth sense failed me in my time of need.

Typically, it wouldn’t have mattered, but those glasses are key to my ability to function these days. Last week, the eye doctor diagnosed me with dry eye and banned me from wearing contact lenses for ten days. Not only does dry eye suck the moisture from my eyeballs and eyelids, but it forces me to wear glasses. I don’t mind wearing my glasses on the weekends, but I’d prefer to keep the camera off on Zoom calls.

I’m close to tears which would probably be good for my condition but not so much for my situation. It’s amazing how one minute I can be so organized and have everything I need at my fingertips. And then have a morning where I find myself moving throw pillows and shaking blankets like a crazy person.

How do these things disappear into thin air?

Finally, I turn over the middle cushion on the living room couch where I fell asleep last night—green frames with trifocal lenses stare up at me.”There you are!” I scolded them as if they were a child. I called off the search and placed the glasses firmly on my nose. Instantly, one of the arms breaks off.

Now I need to find the Super Glue.

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