Breaking Into The Conversation

Breaking Into The Conversation

You’re with a group of people. It could be family. It could be a gathering of friends. Or even your work buddies out to relax or maybe form a group to complain about something going on within the office walls. Then consider: you want to break into the conversation, but you can’t. Even with family gatherings this happens–no one is giving you an opening because someone is the leader, someone is choosing the topics and you find you are no longer listening but just waiting, waiting for a chance to break in. You lose the thread of the conversation. Or after a while you don’t even care.

CONVERSATION SHOULD BE AN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS 

  • We all anticipate being with people we care about and sharing conversation.
  • Often we are tired at the end of the day and eager for something fun.
  • And to add to our eagerness, we dressed up to be with friends for some meaningful exchanges.

This is part of being a member of society–the anticipation of TALKING to one another. You might even have some news you want to share and you’re just excited to be with this group and see their reactions and how they will support you. (Come on People, we still like the warmth of camaraderie and don’t have to open our minds and souls through Facebook all the time, but can wait for that gathering of hugs and smiles to give our news.)

We all crave that small spotlight when people will focus on us and listen to what we have to say. The KEY is the exchange. And friends and family can be so generous about our news or our opinions. From youth to old age–being able to steer the conversation is empowering and helps us grow no matter the topic:

a new job; the choice of a school or a career; the person we are dating or going to marry; the person we just broke up with; the death of a friend or someone being ill or someone injured or someone recovering. We made money; we lost money. We just met someone the group already knows; we have a new idea for our art work, writing project, music presentation. There are millions of topics. So enough–you get the idea.

But what if you’re having a bad time and you can’t break in or you suddenly don’t want to break in. There are a variety of reactions to this.

  • you give up and walk away
  • you try even harder to break in
  • you find yourself getting angry
  • you attempt to peel the person sitting next to you away from the group

I’ve been in situations with friends when the conversation was all about people I did not know. Everyone else was comfortable with remembering these folks, but since I didn’t know them, I sat quietly wondering when the conversation would take a turn into a topic where I could join in. Has that happened to any of you?

I think if you care about the group you are with you tend to be patient, maybe help yourself to another drink and wait for things to change. But if this happens to you a number of times, you tend to become sensitive to groups that do that. Your awareness of making a conversation COMFORTABLE for everyone in the room becomes one of your goals. When you are the host you are very aware of this. Conversation can be hurtful. Unfortunately it goes with bringing a variety of people together. Drinking can loosen tongues. You intended to have a fun party and maybe there are people leaving your gathering with hurt feelings and unless they tell you, you will never know.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? WHAT WILL YOU DO?

There are going to be many situations in the next six plus months where the main topic of conversation will be politics. I think in some situations we will have to decide to preserve the friendship and so if the person is on the other side–better not to go there at all–or give it a try?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Again, what will you do?

It’s a hard choice. Strong feelings about a candidate can make us want to get up on a bully pulpit and shout to the world. If only we could always stay on an intellectual plain of ideas. Tricky, tricky stuff.

FLOOD YOUR BRAIN WITH IDEAS 

I found this note in one of my notebooks: Each of us has a pool of stories, opinions that we offer in conversation when there is an opening, when we find the space to express our views. But what if this pool would become so narrowed down that we might be expressing 20-25 ideas. There is never an excuse for not reading and learning about possibilities. The world is wide open inviting us to read, consider and take new things in our minds and hearts. Maybe that will help us break into the conversation of living–and people will no longer ignore what we have to say. They will be eager to give us an opening–they will be looking to us to YES, guide the conversation.

AGAIN, WHAT DO YOU THINK?  WISHING US ALL GOOD LUCK WITH THIS ONE.

Photo: Merlot Marketing.comBreaking Into The Conversation

Breaking Into The Conversation

For Mother’s Day–An Invitation to Meet Some Moms!

For Mother's Day--An Invitation to Meet Some Moms!

In FACTS OF LIFE Cara knows about fireflies, mosquitoes and bats. But is there more for her to learn?

We all come into this world because of our moms, and often we define what a mother is from that first experience: we are all a child to a mother. Today I invite you to meet some moms–five of them. Some you might immediately identify with, some you might criticize, pity or weep for. But all of these women are moms and they all have a story to share with you.

Anne: She is in her thirties and divorced, a working mother with one child–twelve-year-old Cara. Her co-wroker Mark wants a relationship. But is she ready? Is Cara ready? When an attempted kidnapping occurs near Cara’s school, Anne has to ask herself if any of the decisions she is making are the right ones. How will Anne answer that question. Find out in my story FACTS OF LIFE.

Claire Emmerling: Unmarried and unsure, Claire is in her early forties and pregnant for the first time. The father is neurosurgeon Christian Farr who Claire has worked with for many years. She will not reveal the pregnancy to him. But when she finds Polaroid photos of her own mother pregnant with her–Claire realizes that baby was incidental to the sex, but the child that moves within her is everything–the sex incidental. How will Claire move forward? Read SOMEDAY IT WILL BE DECEMBER.

Hazel Enright: Hazel cannot eat hard-boiled eggs or stand the smell of scorched linen. These and other experiences plunge Hazel into the memory of being pregnant at sixteen and her parents forcing her to “go away”, have her baby and then give it up. Has this experience changed Hazel’s life? Read HAZEL’S CHILD.

Emily: She feels abandoned and lonely, her husband constantly on business trips, her children off to college and her doctor telling her she must have a hysterectomy. But when her old friend Veda calls and asks her to meet, Emily learns that maybe she is not in the autumn of her life. Because there is always change, Veda revealing her own life is not the fantasy Emily thought it was. No life is. The tables are turned in MAKING CHANGE.

Sunny: She’s a landscaper with a cheating husband, a daughter of her own and an adopted daughter, Colette who one day takes too many pills and is rushed to the hospital. Now Sunny’s life has one focus–to understand and help Colette. Can she find the right words to make Colette see that there are good things in life? Find out in YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG.

Meet and read about these moms and eight others in A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE, a perfect gift for you or a mother you know for MOTHER’S DAY, May 8th. To purchase A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE from Amazon, B&N, kobo etc go here.  And don’t forget the dark chocolate–one piece to go with each story.

To read a story from A Mother’s Time Capsule go here.

COMMENTS ABOUT CAPSULE

What a wonderful book this is – filled with heart memories, a perfect gift for Mother’s Day for yourself or someone else! I love Elizabeth A. Havey’s writing! Carol Boyer

Beautifully written. Emotional, thought provoking tales which are the perfect length for dipping in and out of. Cathy L.

This author has a unique voice and writes with such profound emotion it’s as if she’s left a part of herself on every page. Susan Haught

The extraordinary imagery of these stories is evocative of the early years when I was raising my two sons. “A Mother’s Time Capsule” artfully describes the woes and wonder of being a mother. I will read it over many times. Kelly M.

 

For Mother's Day--An Invitation to Meet Some Moms!

A Mother’s Day Gift!

Writing, Nostalgia and Spring

Writing, Nostalgia and Spring

She listened to the steady pounding of her feet along the roads. And after a while, she could feel it running in her veins, something that turned backward to rituals of spring–Lent, events of her childhood, like painting rain-washed colors on hard boiled eggs. The sky would scuttle from grey to blue to grey, rain spitting just as intermittently. But the air was becoming velvet, enveloping, warming the skin and when she walked now crunching spring detritus, a hollowness opened up inside her, a sweet opening as if she were ready, also, to suffer, to feel pain, to live and embrace. (from The MOON DOCTOR)

Writing about SPRING

I wrote those words years ago. They are part of a novel that sits in a manuscript box under my desk. I love those words and many springs I come back to them. But words of published writers also speak SPRING to me: “It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.” John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga There is simply something about the season that pulls words from the mind to the page.

Writing and Nostalgia

In a recent piece by author Jonathan Lee, he writes about the disquiet that occurs when a book is written AND published. Finally, it is out of your hands. You can’t mess with it anymore and yet something pulls at you about this fact. WHY? Anxious, Lee went to the library: looking for a book with a title like How To Get Through The Period Between Finishing A Book and Seeing It In A Bookstore Without Losing Your Entire Grip on Reality. But Lee failed to find it. He did find The Book of Disquiet, a collection of opinions of various writers. He decided it was a very sad book, drenched in nostalgia.

NOSTALGIA. Curious about the roots that formed the word, Lee looked them up and discovered: nostos (return home) and algos (pain). Writers, especially fiction writers, almost always deal in nostalgia. They are constantly attempting to return home, to reassemble in words the pain of life–and yes, the joys. But LIFE always seen through the lens of their own experience. The drug for writers is remembering–remembering who we are and where we come from and what we have experienced.

As Lee so beautifully states: We all know by now that the past is as much a work of imagination as the future. We re-form. We invent. We chase after moments that have already fled. We can never quite recapture the passion within the passion, nor the grief within the grief, but we make a version we can live with, shape, touch with color, and we start to exist within its architecture.

Reshaping Our Reality

All of us do this–not just writers. We shape our memories so that we can live with them. Sometimes to a fault, as we struggle to assign to ourselves a minor role in some conflict when truly we needed to accept more guilt. But that “remembering” allows us to move into the future with our recreated selves.

Writing by Committee

I am currently polishing and working toward a final rendering of my first novel–with the goal of publishing. I have rewritten the first chapter over six times. Writing is plastic, yes, but what affects writers today is the chatter about HOW TO WRITE. If the drug for writers is remembering, the antidote for that drug is all the VOICES on the internet imposing their views on what an agent or a publisher wants. It messes up your memory. It’s tougher than tough.

Writing by Committee occurs when a friend or fellow writer or agent who has rejected your query complains about your VOICE, or says the writing is too CLIPPED, or can’t fall in love with the character after one page. I do listen. Thus the changes. And thus I understand even more why some authors self-publish–they don’t want to write by committee–this is the book they have created, the book they love. But again, after it has escaped from the writer’s hands–the characters might still be walking around in one’s head, maybe changing their actions, altering their words. The only cure is for the writer to immediately immerse herself in another story and “forget those people”–or at least decide you did the best for them that you could possibly do.

Thoughts on The Reader 

Writing will always be a form of communication. But the question will also always present itself: do I write to communicate with myself or with future readers? Jonathan Lee concludes his piece:” …writing can be a beautiful and conflicted act—a private process through which we try, even with our most ridiculous lines, to reach an understanding with others.” So I write-on. And I read, always. Wishing for all of you a book that offers a tender rendering of life, an immersion in conflict, a perfect SPRING of a book. Let’s hear it for nostalgia.

THANKS FOR READING.

Writing, Nostalgia and Spring

This one is in print. I have let go!

Gifts from Where You Live

Gifts from Where You Live

I’ve kept my early publications.

On any given day, writing is my escape, my amazing friend, my intellectual stimulation as I seek and often find the right word, the exact phrase–or dream about finding it. Either way I go to writing to find myself, always hoping to give back something of value to my readers. I think of writing as a special gift and yet I have often referred to it as THE JOYFUL BURDEN, because I cannot walk away from it–even if rejections and disappointments are part of the entire process. Writing is something I want to give anyone who will read it. Writing is a gift from where I live.

A Story Here an Article There — My Writing History 

There was that two page story about a tornado, written in pencil in the fourth grade. There was an awful poem, written in freshmen year of high school that won a prize. There was my creative writing teacher in senior year, who knew I would always raise my hand with an offering, but encouraged me to be more judicial in what I considered FINISHED or WELL DONE. She taught me not to LOVE everything that went down on the page.

Things were more challenging in college and I struggled through my Creative Writing course. When I thought I had a gift and could breeze through assignments–I wasn’t even close. And there were a lot of people who could write better than I could. Still I had two things accepted in the literary magazine and my writing dream stayed afloat.

I taught English grammar, writing and literature at the secondary school level, which did not afford me much time to write. But in the Illinois community where we lived a newly chartered university, Governors State University, offered me another opportunity. It was the early 1970s and a woman named Helen Hughes started a literary magazine entitled THE CREATIVE WOMAN. I was introduced to Helen, started sending her stories and articles and again, I was published.

As a young mother raising two daughters I was able to squirrel away early morning hours to  write short stories. They were big in the eighties and my goal was to publish in REDBOOK or McCALLS. (I actually was on a first name basis with the fiction editor at both publications, but never made the cut.) So I gave my work to little magazines, one called GREEN’S MAGAZINE. I also had a few columns published in THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Bottom line, I kept writing.

From Fiction to Medical Writing

After going back to school and becoming a registered nurse, I wrote CEU’s for Nursing Spectrum now called NURSE.com. A totally different kind of writing, it required a lot of research and footnotes. But I enjoyed it. During that time, I also co-wrote and then published through Meredith Books, MIAMI INK–text and color photographs that complimented the television program about tattoo artists.

The internet changed everything about writing and publishing. In the late eighties and beyond, I was composing at a keyboard and loving the ability to erase large blocks of text in seconds. Spell check was a bonus too. From 1998 to 2007 I wrote three novels. By 2009, I was blogging and have been contributing to Boomer Highway weekly ever since. I am back to  writing fiction and published a collection of my stories this last May–entitled A Mother’s Time Capsule, it actually contains some of the work I had written in the 80s.

Finding Those Gifts 

Writing and publishing has moved into a new world since I began writing. Before, I used to hold my breath for the mail–waiting for that letter from a magazine editor. Now it’s an email. But the internet has allowed so many people to find and develop their own personal gifts, and from where they are living and working. Etsy has moved product from studio, backyard, shed, garden, sewing room out to the general public. Blogs do similar things, allowing artists, sculptors, screenwriters, novelists, seamstresses and people with a new idea to shout to the world–here I am, see where I live and what I have to offer. Abundant gifts.

So this is just a thank you to my readers for hanging in there with me as I find new topics and research and write about them.

Do you have a health issue I could research? Have you written some nonfiction that could benefit from a read and an analysis? Leave me a comment. I’ll let my fingers walk the keyboard and see what I can find. Now it’s back to my fiction. See you soon.

Comfort Versus Rejection--Which Do You Choose?

Thank you always, Charles M. Schulz

From the Creative Woman: Table of Contents in the late 70s.

Fertile Goddess by Tobi Casselman 24

The Goddess in Three Bodies by Tobi

Casselman 24

Waiting for Christine by Elizabeth A. Havey 25

Creative Lives: Lynn Thomas Strauss by

Margaret Brady 28

Book Review: Dreaming the Dark: Magic,

Sex and Politics
by Starhawk

Gifts from Where You Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing Better Than A Book

Nothing Better Than A Book

No matter where you are in holiday gift giving–there is nothing better than finding a good book to stick in a stocking, wrap up and put under the tree or offer for one of the blessed days of Hanukkah. Thanks to author and friend, Normandie Fischer, this post is bringing you seven amazing fiction choices to add to your Gift List. Check out the summaries below and head to your favorite book seller–after all tomorrow is Cyber Monday! And please join our author group for our Facebook Party on December 10th at 1:00 pm EST for Giveaways and chats.

Normandie FischerTwo From Isaac’s House, A Story of Promises Journey with Rina Lynne who though recently engaged decides to spend her inheritance before settling down. Her travel adventure starts in Italy where Rina meets Tony (aka Anton) an engineering geek whose Israeli cousins have convinced him to become a sort of spy.  When Rina comes on the scene, Tony loses a grip on his assignment and Rina, who is part-Jewish, forgets her fiancé, allowing herself to become involved with this Arab-American. Against the gathering storms of the Middle East, certainly more storms are brewing.

Ashley FarleyMerry Mary This novel explores a theme that is perfect for Christmas. Investigative journalist Scottie Darden longs for a child. While photographing the homeless for a series she calls Lost Souls, Darden comes upon a tent in a downtown city park were an infant child is alive, but the mother dead. Lacking her cell phone, Scottie follows her instincts and takes the baby home. She promises herself she will report the child’s situation, but as a strong bond forms, she rationalizes her decision to keep the child, knowing she might face a life on the run or worse–imprisonment for abduction. Farley’s story examines the connection between a woman who stumbles into the role of mother and the child who definitely needs that person.

Wendy Paine Miller–The Short and Sincere Life of Ellory James Ellory James has six months to live and she is only seventeen. As her mother frets and worries, Ellory agrees to create a bucket list for her remaining time on earth. But Ellory is mischievous, asking her neighbor Pete to help her make it look like she’s truly carrying out ten of her lifelong dreams. She’s actually decided to fake the entire bucket list concept, until she completes the first one of the ten, which just might be the most important one of all. Miller’s book asks the question: what if life isn’t about the things we do as much as it is about WHY we do them and who we do them with.

Me, Elizabeth A. Havey–A Mother’s Time Capsule Yes! I’m included in this lovely seven author group, but because you’ve heard about my book before, I’ll make it truly short. The book of 13 short stories about motherhood includes: a hyper-fearful mother; a mother struggling with the life-chore of revealing what sex is; an empty-nest mother facing surgery and loneliness;  a mother whose daughter attempts suicide; a pregnant single mother; a mother whose child goes missing–and more. “Lovingly detailed, sometimes heart-wrenching stories of real women who come alive on the page. Moving and powerful.” Anne R. Allen, bestselling author of the Camilla Randall Mysteries

Jane Lebak–Half Missing  As an arsonist inspector, Amber Brickman sifts through burn sites looking for evidence, working against the memories of weeks before her wedding when her fiancé was murdered. But family history never departs and Amber’s mother insists that Amber had a twin, stolen at birth. When a woman on the news looks and sounds like Amber, her mother is convinced–this is the missing twin. At first Amber wants nothing to do with what she considers insanity. But as her mother pursues the past, Amber is drawn into the search–one that requires she risk everything, her job and her heart, in the process.

Heather Webb–Rodin’s Lover Known for her historical fiction, Heather Webb’s Rodin’s Lover is the story of Camille Claudel, an aspiring sculptor who becomes the apprentice of the amazing and world-renown Auguste Rodin during the Belle Epoque in France. Claudel becomes his muse and as their love affair proceeds they inspire one another to create groundbreaking works of art. But being a woman in a time period unable to honor female achievements, Camille’s success is pushed aside by Rodin’s rising star. When she finds herself caught in a tragic dilemma, obsessed with him and with her art, crossing the line into madness just might be her only escape.

Robin Patchen– Finding Amanda  Seduced as a teen by her psychiatrist, Amanda Johnson is now a chef and a popular blogger. When she decides to write a memoir that will include the devastating events in her teen life and help her heal, her estranged husband Mark, a contractor and veteran soldier, tries to stop her, worrying that the psychiatrist might reenter her life and attempt to silence her. Amanda fails to listen to such advice and to hear that Mark still loves her. Vulnerable, she travels and does encounter her abuser from her past, only to have a stranger rescue her and offer protection. Now Mark must save Amanda from the psychiatrist who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.

As December approaches, I wish all my readers warmth and happiness. Holidays can be joyous–but they can also be stressful. Remembering the important things, like the love of family and friends, is what should truly be our focus. Sounds like a topic for another post!

Book Giveaway: A Mother’s Time Capsule

Book Giveaway: A Mother's Time Capsule

13 stories about motherhood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boomer Highway Readers:

The GIVEAWAY is for FIVE SIGNED COPIES of A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE!

To sign up for the Giveaway click here or http://elizabethahavey.com/a-mothers-time-capsule-giveaway/ 

TO ENTER: fill in your contact info and leave a comment in the box on the Giveaway page. AND for a SECOND CHANCE to win, provide your email address. No purchase is necessary to participate. (Directions are on the entry page.)

Winner selection is based upon a random drawing from all comment entries and people on the email list after the close of the sweepstakes. Winner will be notified via email and must provide their mailing address to receive the prize. If winner does not provide their mailing address within two weeks after being notified of winning, an alternate winner will be chosen. Entry is limited to U.S. residents.

The Giveaway runs from 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time Tuesday, November 10, 2015 to midnight Pacific Time on Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

Here are a few of the reviews I have received on Amazon.

Lovingly detailed, sometimes heart-wrenching stories of real women who come alive on the page. Moving and powerful. Anne R. Allen, bestselling author of the Camilla Randall Mysteries.

I’ve long been a fan of Elizabeth A. Havey. I’ve followed and welcomed her writings on Boomer Highway.org, an exceptional blog of perceptive and stylish essays. Now with the publication of A Mother’s Time Capsule, Havey gives us an important collection of powerful and beautifully crafted short stories, and begins to take her place as an important American writer. James Wagenvoord, author

This author has a unique voice and writes with such profound emotion it’s as if she’s left a part of herself on every page. These are exceptional stories, ones I found myself immersed in from first sentence to last. I enjoyed the fact they were short stories and I could dole them out as a treat at the end of the day–but I cheated (just like I do when I try to limit chocolate) and read more, because I didn’t want the stories to end. Highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to her next book. Amy

The extraordinary imagery of these stories is evocative of the early years when I was raising my two sons. “A Mother’s Time Capsule” artfully describes the woes and wonder of being a mother. I will read it over many times. Geri

Havey writes beautifully with a sharp eye for the particular and deep sympathy for her characters. Anyone interested in nursing and parenting should read her stories. John

Want to see if you would enjoy my stories? You can read two of them that I have previously shared on Boomer Highway. To read WINDOWS click here. To read PUMPKINS click here.

We all lead busy lives and being able to read one story–with a piece of the chocolate of your choice–is a great way to relax at the end of the day.

Thanks for your support. Questions about the giveaway? You can leave a comment on Boomer Highway.  

PUMPKINS, A Mother and a Mother-in-law

PUMPKINS, A Mother and a Mother-in-law

That day was a Friday and she drove with the pumpkins in the back of the car.

Dear Boomer Highway Readers. Happy Autumn,  a time to put the garden to bed, dream about the coming holidays and picture yourself curled up with a book. After all, it’s the time of colder weather and strong winds, maybe snow and staying indoors. So find that warm corner by the fire or the heater and read! My offering? One of the stories from my collection of short fiction A Mother’s Time Capsule which was published in May. This is another short one. Comments and questions? Greatly appreciated. So whether you live in California where it’s cloudy and we had some misty rain, or in the Midwest and East where there’s sure to be snow, please enjoy. I think I love just everything about pumpkins.

Pumpkins

That day was a Friday and she drove with the pumpkins in the back of the car. They were going on the front porch. Now, this year, there would be only two. Heather drew the faces on in black magic marker. Maybe she would look more carefully at Heather’s pumpkin face this time. Children’s art revealed things.

She zipped the car through sloshy puddles under the viaduct. The windshield wipers set a pace. The pumpkins rolled in the back. She had been thinking about him off and on all day since it was his birthday. Only last year they had both, for a joke, entered the date and year of his birth in a computer. It told them his birth occurred on a Thursday. She had liked that. Heather, too, was a Thursday’s child. They all had far to go.

The traffic light was changing, running through the old cycle backwards—red to yellow to green. She worked the gears and hurried. Her mother-in-law was nervous about the dentist. It was crazy for her to be doing this, but she’d gotten into the habit. Keith worked. Who else would take her? And moments later, there was the straight brick apartment building, the yellow slanted lines in the lot.

“You know it’s Keith’s birthday?”
She nodded as Mrs. Oates climbed in, pressing her body against the other bucket seat. “Call him, Rachel, call him. He’d call you on your day, now wouldn’t he?”
Rachel backed the car down the drive.
“What’s that rattle, your car can’t need repairing already, you just—”
“Pumpkins,” Rachel said.
Mrs. Oates watched out the window. She shifted her body and filled the car with some cloying perfume. Rachel rolled down a window.
“Don’t open that now, please. I can’t afford to catch a cold. I’m going through all this pain right now, I don’t need–”

Her voice stopped. Rachel looked over and noticed that Mrs. Oates wore a new raincoat. Her mother-in-law wasn’t a fat woman, but she made great pies and cakes and made them constantly. The raincoat was a juicy berry color and it plumped around her. “I got him a lovely angora sweater for his birthday. It’s a blend. But I spent a lot of money on it.” Rachel decided Keith would hate it. He would complain about the tiny angora hairs messing up his dark pants.

“It’s hard getting to be my age,” Mrs. Oates said. “You have trouble getting to the stores and then when you’re there what do you buy your son? What? It was easy when he was little, but now?”

At the dentist’s they sat together on an orange vinyl couch. Mrs. Oates folded her glasses into a case. She snapped the case and then unsnapped it. She touched Rachel’s arm and told her about an exercise program that she watched. “The girls have these little tummies. You ought to do it, Rachel.” Her breath was warm and sick. Rachel thought about the mints buried in her purse. She thought about exercise. She didn’t need to lose weight, when you didn’t eat much, that wasn’t a problem.

The hygienist came for Mrs. Oates. She nodded for Rachel to follow. Root canal was somewhat serious in an older person with a heart condition. Rachel followed. She watched the berry-colored coat come off and she thought that cakes and pies were even worse for one’s heart. But it wasn’t her business. Not really. And yet when Mrs. Oates was settled in the chair and the dentist made Rachel look at the x-rays, look down into Mrs. Oates’ mouth to confirm, it was her business. No one else’s. She backed out of the room. She could still see Mrs. Oates’ grey hair against the back of the chair. She walked. Keith was 39. Mid-life. Mid-life crazies. Mrs. Oates’ hair, probably auburn, had spread out on a table, some delivery table somewhere, and then Mrs. Oates spread her legs and touched the roundness of her belly and used energy and will to push Keith out. Thirty-nine years ago. It was her business. Mrs. Oates a connection.

Rachel went and called Heather.
“Did you get them, Mommy?”
“Yes, two, one big and one medium sized. They’re in the car. Did you get a lot of homework?”
“I’m doing it. When you get home, then can we?”
“Yes.”
“I’m going to design my face on paper first.”
“Don’t spend too much time, Heather. Your homework.”
“The other kids were asking why we do it this way. They like to cut theirs. Yuck—all those seeds.”
“Heather, I’ll be home by six, okay?”
“Just listen, I forgot to tell you. I want to draw this picture for Dad’s birthday. I had a dream about it. The picture is me carrying a birthday cake, but it’s not a cake, it’s noodles—a noodle cake!” Rachel smiled, saying, “There must be some significance there.”
“Oh Mom—it’s just a dream. It doesn’t have to mean anything. Bye now.”

Rachel hung up. The little artist was always at work. Creativity clung to her like the fragile blonde fuzz that Rachel could see on Heather’s legs and arms when they wrestled in the sunshine. But Heather’s fingers didn’t always move the way she wanted. Her fifth Christmas, five years ago, she had worked at the card table every day. Rachel watched. Some of it was clay, some playdough, some drawing, pasting, cutting.

On Christmas everything went into a bag. During the gift passing, Keith got the first one—a playdough face with runny-black hair and bulging eyes. He started to laugh before Heather could tell him the sculpture was of him, her Dad. Everyone clamped down on the laughter, turned serious and began the compliments. But Heather knew. Later when Keith announced it was her turn to give again, she looked into her bag, looked for a long time and then raised her face that was pink with grief. “It’s all garbage,” she said quietly, fighting so hard for that control. “All garbage.” Rachel still grieved, thinking about that moment—Heather’s face quivering, tears moving down her cheeks, the adults having broken through the barrier, crashed into that perfect place she thought she inhabited.

“We were cruel, all of us,” Rachel had told Keith. “She’ll get over it, Rachel, don’t take it so hard.”

The dentist’s waiting room was empty. Even the receptionist was gone from her desk. Rachel sat listening to the music. It was the feathery kind that no one really wants to hear. All distinguishing features had been removed so that it was clean and sterile like the alcohol and cotton in the back rooms. When she tried hard enough Rachel could identify a song. Now an old McCartney tune about a “butter pie.” Rachel heard the melody and worked to remember the lyrics. Then she saw their first house. Keith had painted all the rooms a light celery just for her. It wasn’t a well-built house, but the rooms were airy and they made love without worrying about apartment neighbors, and they turned the radio up loud and sang and chased each other up and down the halls, laughing like children. There was no clutter around them then, they had almost no furniture. But in the second house, even though they filled up the rooms, Keith kept buying more and weighing down their life. There was little space for music, and none for any more children.

“Mrs. Oates?” Rachel heard the name and looked up for her mother-in-law. The old woman wasn’t there. The hygienist stood in the doorway. Rachel thought she saw blood on her white pantsuit.

“She’s okay, isn’t she?” Rachel was standing.
“Yes, of course. The doctor just wants to discuss the post-op care with you. Follow me.”

Mrs. Oates moaned all the way home. Rachel talked quietly to her, but after a while she had no energy for words. The rain still came down; the car radio talked about the end of Indian summer, the series of inevitable rainstorms. Rachel felt the words like pressure, a dark curtain descending. All she could see was this older neighborhood, the houses leaning toward the street, apartment buildings with cracked front stairs, older people moving along with little wire grocery carts.

“Here was are, Mom.” Rachel jumped into the rain and helped. Mrs. Oates leaned on her into the vestibule. Then she turned.

“Don’t come up with me, Rachel. I’ll be okay. Keith’s here. I saw his car. You’ve had enough Oateses for one day.” She let go of Rachel’s arm. The pressure still clung there and Rachel reached out, wanting something back. But the door clicked and the woman was gone.

Heather had her pink bathrobe on. Her hair shone in the lamplight and powder smells filled the hallway. Rachel burdened her with two slightly cold but brilliant pumpkins.

“Fantastic,” Heather yelled, leading her mother back into the house. Rachel saw the table set. “I did everything I could. How’s Grandma? I hope you don’t have to do this every day.” “Everything’s fine. Go get your drawing and I’ll be right there.”

At the kitchen sink Rachel turned on the water. She stood waiting for it to get warm. Though she could hear Heather’s chatter in the next room and feel the light and space around her, she was still looking down, still seeing her mother-in-law’s face and remembering what a doctor once told her at a cocktail party. “You wouldn’t believe the number of children women are capable of having. Why even after they’re dead, you can cut open the ovary and there they are—all those seeds.”

Rachel bent to the water, cupping her hands. In a moment she would hold her face in the towel for as long as she needed to.

PUMPKINS, A Mother and a Mother-in-law

That day was a Friday and she drove with the pumpkins in the back of the car.

Thanks for reading PUMPKINS. If you liked this story, there are 12 more in A Mother’s Time Capsule, ebook–now at a new low price.

www.elizabethahavey.com 

PUMPKINS, A Mother and a Mother-in-law

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WINDOWS–One Mother’s View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Dear Boomer Highway Readers. Happy Summer, a great time to kick back on the porch or patio with a glass of lemonade or something with more of a jolt AND READ A BOOK. It’s truly a summer necessity. In a future post I will be sharing some of my favorite reads for summer 2015–and I better get started before the summer is over.

In the meantime, here is one of the stories from my collection of short fiction A Mother’s Time Capsule which was published in May. This is the absolute shortest one, and if you like it, I’ll share more. Comments and questions? Greatly appreciated. So whether you have a rainy summer day, or a hot mid-afternoon break or even a porch lit with soft lighting on an evening when the fire flies are chasing the sky–please enjoy.

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Windows

Kate is on the ladder. She’s got a roll of paper towel tucked under her arm. She’s permeating the film of old winter dirt with a thick spray of Windex and then wiping across and down in a definite pattern. She’s slipping into something familiar, the hot sun on her arms, the jiggling of the ladder, the tops of the evergreens brushing her bare legs as she leans over to swipe at a corner. Her position on the ladder allows her an abnormal height as she looks down into her daughter’s bedroom through the now clean pane.

She pauses to take in all that is there, thinking that maybe it’s her position, her being able to see the room from a totally different angle that makes the looking so interesting. She’s a voyeur seeing the rug running a different way, seeing the bed from the headboard down instead of the usual footboard up. And there are other things leaping into her vision.

On the bed, three books, a stack of notebook paper sliding into an arc over the side and a pile of rumpled clothing. Kate presses her face to the coolness of the glass. Brinn’s underwear rolled up, piled and scrunched and then on the floor, almost kicked under her bed but not quite, a box of Kotex. Kate pulls a clean towel from the roll. She gives the top pane another squirt and works her hand in a circle. They’ve talked about keeping these things rather secret, not secretive-scary, but reasonable.

Jody is only five and doesn’t need to be asking a lot of questions. Brinn could learn to put her private things away. But then it is all new to her. She’s had one period and Kate guesses today is the start of another, though Brinn seemed her usual crabby self, the one that can’t find time to pack a school bag, dress and eat breakfast before the bus. Kate looks back into the room as if to find another explanation. There is only one. Brinn doesn’t have her period again, the box simply got kicked out from under the bed.

Kate starts down the ladder, but something else moves forward in her mind, something she feels more than thinks, like a shiver to signal that she’s about to topple from the ladder—Brinn has her period and doesn’t need to mention it to Kate—ever again.

On the ground she lifts the light aluminum ladder and moves it down the side of the house. She’s almost done. She wipes her forehead and sighs, because it feels good, because that’s been a response to a lot of what she’s heard lately. And yet the sighs are often pleasurable.

Her mother: I’ve become a modern thinker. Well maybe not modern, but I think you do entirely too much for that man and always have. I think it’s time you stop it.

Hot sunshine on Kate’s arms, the contentment of staring at a clean window, the pull of the wind at her back, the caress of air on a sweaty forehead—yes, getting things done. She backs away and looks at the house, sees so much about it that is hers—the newly painted red door, the dug-out flowerbed around the tree.

Entirely too much for that man.

She wants to laugh aloud. Her mother doesn’t even watch soap operas, that she knows of, but the line is so perfect.

She climbs the ladder to do one more window. She is careful holding the sides, but distracted by the bird in a bush beyond that sings a song, wee-who, wee-who, like one note up, one note down, like the squeak of an old porch swing—the bird on the swing.

Other women have time to shop, I mean shop for parties they’ll attend—or they meet for lunch or play cards. Other women–” 

“God, I don’t want to play cards. Spare me that.”

Her mother was smoking a cigarette, the ashtray on the floor near her feet “so the smoke won’t bother anyone.” She’d just had her hair done, and though Kate is never really sure what that means, it looks okay, always the same. Her mother seems pleased.

“He’s been out of town, right?”

“Mother, my husband’s name is Ted and yes there was a business trip this week.”

“Well—when is it your turn?”

Kate has trouble adjusting the ladder for this last window. The ground is uneven and the ladder wobbles and there’s no one around to hold it for her. She could wait until Brinn is home, but she has to pick up Jody from Kindergarten soon and it would be great to finish.

She climbs, inching her way up. This is Jody’s bedroom window, the rumpled bed inside, stuffed animals everywhere. There’s never enough time.

And your children should do more. Delegate. I learned that from your father, God bless him. You don’t know how to delegate. Believe me, I’d never do some of the things you do.

She balances carefully, works at each corner where a thick layer of grime has settled. Kate on the ladder, sunshine on Kate. She’s good at pushing away things her mother says. Of course she had better not fall, her mother would explode in front of Ted. And then Kate gasps, the roll of paper towel slipping out of her grasp and falling. She holds on tightly. She’s at least a story and a half up. Her mother would have to nurse her, watch the children—she’d get to hear about the fall every five minutes.

She finishes by turning the soaked towel over and over until the window is clean enough. The bird is still in his swing. She starts down.

You have to say the right things to your mother, be tactful, but point things out to her. Then she’ll see that you’re not my slave. Ted’s take on equality—they discussed what he does, what she does. Think about the life your mother led when she was raising you. She didn’t do her nails and shop with friends. She worked like a Trojan. I’ve heard some of those stories.

Kate drops the Windex to the ground, grips the ladder, walks carefully to the shed to put it away. She worked like a Trojan.

And the story of stories comes circling back: “When you were just a little girl, I got locked out of the house once. I was hanging the washing and the door blew shut and I was locked out. You were asleep in the upstairs bedroom and the windows were open to the breeze, so I pulled a ladder from the garage and climbed it high onto the front of the house. I prodded you with a broomstick to wake you up. I knew you were old enough to go down and open the front door for me. I was just frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.”

So how was it really, that day. She hanging laundry. Working like a Trojan. Was she panicked thinking that Kate’s father would be angry, locking herself out of the house, leaving the child alone? And what was she wearing, going up the ladder—a long-skirted dress, or maybe shorts and a blouse. Or was she in high heels, her hair done, smoking a cigarette, her perfect nails clicking on the metal of the ladder. Or was there an apron, the cling of soft fabric that is warm and scented like nothing but spring air. Or a worn apron with food stains, her feet bare, the wind tossing her about, sun on her arms, drafts catching her precariously.

Was she agile, was the ladder shaking as she hurried up it? In the room—a child napping and how old, four or five, tossing in nap-sleep, drooling on the pillow. A hot day and her mother leans over to the open window and calls softly Kate, Kate and then prods her child gently with the end of a broom. And the edge of Kate’s dream becomes a stick, becomes poking and the voice outside an upstairs window calling her name—but her mother’s voice, like a song.

Back inside the house, the phone rings.

“I’m lonely today. Could you just drop all those chores and go out to lunch with me?”

“I’ve got Jody. Have to get her from morning Kindergarten.”

“Of course you do. She eats, doesn’t she.”

Kate looks out the kitchen windows. She can’t hear the bird any more, can’t quite remember its song as the memory of her mother’s words lingers. I was frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.

Thanks for reading WINDOWS. If you liked this story, there are 12 more in A Mother’s Time Capsule, available in soft cover and ebook.  www.elizabethahavey.com

Photo: ourvintagehomelove.blogspot.com and somavida.net and all you.com

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Mother's Time Capsule by Elizabeth A. Havey

A Mother’s Time Capsule

by Elizabeth A. Havey

Giveaway ends August 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

How I Dealt With Fears of Kidnapping

How I Dealt With Fears of Kidnapping

The Pied Piper

In my recently published book A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE, one of the themes that I work with is that of losing a child—to accident, death, but also to kidnapping, abduction—your child goes missing. And a week ago, in a piece published on the Huffington Post, I wrote openly of such a fear: …in 1983, when my daughters were nine and five, ten-year-old Jeanine Nacarico was kidnapped from her home in Naperville, Illinois. Though the kidnapping was in another Chicago suburb, it was something unconscionable that could happen: Jeanine home alone sick, her mother checking on her, and then a man breaks in, takes her, rapes and murders her. Days later her body is found. I couldn’t get a grip. I read newspapers for answers—the mother did something careless? Absolutely not. The horrific event made me realize again: these things actually happen…

There is no soft landing when a child is taken. Within days, the Nacaricos knew the unspeakable fate of their daughter. But then again, there is Etan Patz. Thirty-six years ago, May 25th, 1979, Etan disappeared while walking to his school bus in the Soho district of New York City. He was never found. Recently, a hung jury was unable to convict the man who claims he strangled Etan and dumped his body in a trash bin.

News such as this grabs mothers. Because after Etan, there was Adam Walsh, taken and murdered in July 1981 and two Des Moines Register paperboys: Johnny Gosch taken in 1982 and Eugene Martin, taken in 1984—never found. There was also a string of child and adolescent murders in Atlanta. Then in 1983, President Reagan declared May 25, the day of Patz’s disappearance, National Missing Children’s Day. And in 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was formed.

A curtain of fear descended. A wall went up between naïve security and scary reality. As a young mother, the climate of fear came into my mailbox as periodically, along with catalogues and Better Homes and Gardens, the Advo flier appeared, listing the current MISSING child and a grainy black and white photo. What did I do about all of this? In my Huffington Post piece, I describe in detail what my husband and I did to raise our three as safely as we could. You can read it here.

But the other thing I did, was take that fear, that feeling of being paralyzed, and try to deal with it through my fiction. The three stories mentioned below are all in TIME CAPSULE. 

In SONG FOR HER MOTHER, I worked beyond the finding—trying to discover some form of healing and forgiveness to bind up the wound of the forever separation and the unknowing.

Ana wondered if there wasn’t a place where all missing people gathered. A place deep in a wood where the trees arched overhead to form a cathedral-like space, and underneath, a pocket of peace, a place shot through with golden light. The missing found each other there. And while they spoke and learned each other’s history, more kept coming. They held out their arms to new arrivals. And they wept on each other’s shoulders or picked up the children and held them and wept again. And after a time they settled into a life of waiting in stillness and quiet, until the pattern of the trees and branches against the light above them became so intense and all-consuming that their memories of those they had lost melted away.

In THAW, I made myself work directly with the Nacarico case, of course changing names and ages, but always working through my own inner terror.

Maddy once said that it helps to think that Jessy is two years older now. She’s not eight, she’s ten and she understands what happened to her and the terror of it has subsided. Karen decided a year ago, though she never brought it up with Maddy, she never wants to ever bring it up, that Jessy was unconscious almost immediately; they beat her and raped her and she didn’t know anything. Karen had decided.

I also wrote a story entitled ANGEL HAIR, which though it’s a story about children going missing—the blame lies not with the abductor, but with the falsehoods, the cheating, the penchant for war and blame and fighting that still riddles our societies. Using the old story of the Pied Piper worked well: a well-meaning person is accused or taken advantage of and in retribution he or she uses the children as collateral.

But then in one of Jeff’s runs down the lawn, she heard sounds, the soothing notes of a high piped birdcall, or the humming of bees wings, and she smelled the pungent fragrance of shorn grass or scattered rose petals and saw the flash of a yellow/red cloak engulfing the sunlight for a split-second to reveal a shadowy opening in the hedge at the end of the lawn. Then in a blinding light there was Jeff, that was all she could see, the strands of his hair and then his entire head, and his entire body becoming golden and brilliant.

And maybe this last story is closest to truths we need to look at. We should teach our children to be aware of strangers, but we should not live their lives for them and we can better insure their futures by working to improve society—all aspects of it.

Fact: many of today’s parents tend to be over-protective—yes there are reasons for that, but society has jumped on the bandwagon, like charging a mother with neglect because she allowed her two children under ten to walk home from a park. Let’s not go crazy.

In a recent article, Meghan Daum gives us some stats: An oft-cited figure when it comes to missing children is that 800,000 are reported each year. What that number belies, however, is that the definition of “missing child” includes runaways and children abducted by a parent. Research from the Department of Justice puts “stereotypical” kidnappings at just over 100 per year — an unsettling number but hardly a national scourge.

Daum wants mothers to not sweat the small stuff in the face of the horror of kidnapping and disappearance. We can entitle our children to safety, but we must also get them out the door into their own lives where responsibility and initiative creates a full human person. In other words, we don’t want them to be entitled to life.

In a recent talk with a college professor, the extreme of entitlement presented itself. He told me that some students now verbally assault a teacher if they don’t get the A they think they deserve. And then if the complaint doesn’t cause a grade change, which it won’t, the student takes revenge and writes up a poor teacher eval.

Daum ends her piece with some thought-provoking words: Statistics (see above) are important to remember as we are, once again, being instructed to be scared for the nation’s children. This time, the boogeyman isn’t a mostly nonexistent marauder who strikes when parents aren’t looking. It’s the ever-lurking, overbearing parents themselves.

Strong words. What do you think? How do you handle the fears you have for your children and grandchildren? What societal changes would better protect our children, yet give them the tools to be independent?  As for me, I continue to mine the theme of MISSING in a novel I hope to publish next year.

Thanks to Eyeofthesoul Mixed Media On: monIster

 

Announcing: A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE

Announcing: A MOTHER'S TIME CAPSULE

NOW IN SOFT COVER AT AMAZON.

Mother. Writer. Those are two of the titles that I have proudly claimed for a long time. But today I have something to show for those two titles—A Mother’s Time Capsule—my first published book. It’s fiction, a collection of stories that grew from being a mother, but more importantly from being a writer. Because writers can be alchemists. We absorb life experience and then, with hope in our hearts, we work to create gold—something meaningful that honors the human interactions that we have witnessed or experienced. Writers also read and read some more, and listen–eager to hear the stories of people’s lives, their joy and their pain. Over time my stories accumulated and some of them made it into small magazines. But when I began to really look at them, I saw that they all dealt with some aspect of motherhood. My book was born.

A Mother’s Time Capsule takes you on a time-travel journey, some stories pulling you back in time, others taking you to a present and immediate place. Though the experience of pregnancy, birth, raising children and the empty nest has commonalities, there are many more variables. In these stories, mothers are married, divorced, aging, young, facing their fears and blinded to them. You’ll meet their children who struggle with responsibility, know the pain of an absent father, ruin the one opportunity to bond with an absent mother, go missing, attempt suicide and teach their parents that being fearful is not the way to live one’s life. There are mothers whose lives are welded to helping their children, and mothers who must settle for only the memory of a child.

The book is dedicated to my husband and three children who are the children of my dreams and of my life. But know, these stories are not pure autobiography—instead they are tangential to what I have experienced as a mother to my children and the daughter of my mother.

Last week I wrote about how Boomer Highway came to be. Now I want to thank you for the opportunity to share more of my journey from writer’s desk to the publication of my first book. I hope you enjoy A Mother’s Time Capsule and I welcome comments about the stories on here and on TwitterFacebook, Goodreads and Amazon. I have also created a board on Pinterest with an illustration for each of the stories. You can find it here.

A Mother’s Time Capsule by Elizabeth A. Havey ebook available now and soft cover will be available soon. Check : www.elizabethahavey.com  You might want to share it with the mother in your life this Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015.

Events: On Facebook, I will be chatting about CAPSULE with Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) on Tuesday, May 5th at from 1:00to 1:30 eastern time. Here’s the link

And Thursday, May 7th, on Twitter, I will be talking with Sezoni Whitfield on Writer’s Kaboodle. That’s from 1:00 to 1:30 eastern time. https://twitter.com/SezoniWhitfield

Below are a few examples from the 13 stories in the collection:

FRAGILE: It’s a given that mothers worry about their children. But can a wife and mother who worries too much shape her own reality? And how would that affect the father who is almost a stranger to such concerns? In the story, a couple takes their young daughters, eight and four, on a camping trip and an accident occurs. My husband and I had two daughters those ages. I certainly had fears, and he was often traveling. As I wrote the story, my fears came onto the page and I worked through them, actually learning from my children.

MAKING CHANGE: Motherhood totally changes the direction of a woman’s life, filling up the days and determining choices. The empty-nest years can offer shining promise, but they sometimes bring confusion, health challenges and regrets. Whether a woman has many children or just one, there will come a time when that child takes on an individual life and the mother’s trajectory changes. Even if a full-time job filled the mother’s life, the empty-nest years can bring about challenge.

WHEN DID MY MOTHER DIE? We all know a mother, our own, and even if during our lifetime we never have children—as our mothers age the role will reverse, and like it or not, we will know many aspects of motherhood. This is my most recent story, written after my mother died in 2013. It reflects the anguish and confusion of loving someone so intensely that when they develop dementia and their lives are narrowed down to sitting in a wheelchair, you can hardly bear it. But you have to.

Thanks to FOREVERLAND PRESS.