An Introvert Walks Into A Book Signing–My Year-End Wrap-Up

author-reading
Scary Author Appearance (trying to look calm)

A year has now passed since my husband and I moved from our relatively quiet suburban neighborhood to a narrow canyon populated by herds of coyotes and packs of wild burros. (The coyotes tend to get going about 2 am every night when they yowl and howl in unison. Whey they get too loud, the burros bray at them to shut up. It’s charming.) We’re just a few minutes from the freeway, but it’s a different world here, with moments of unexpected beauty. Two afternoons in a row, at approximately 1:20 pm, we caught a roadrunner pecking around our Asian pear tree for fig beetles. Then there was the night we listened to three Great Horned Owls hooting to each other from across the canyon. (That gave me goosebumps.) The largest alligator lizard I’ve ever seen slithered through our shrubbery one cool spring day. She was so long, I couldn’t capture her entire length on my phone’s camera, but I’d estimate her at thirteen inches from tip to tail. As I said, it’s different here. Our not-brave-at-all Border Collie Echo continues to ignore the wildlife, instead focusing her attention on me.

This past year also saw my mother-in-law coming to live with us–a move fraught with daily perils. Steve and I do the dance of being fully-grown adults in this situation where MIL instructs us on how to, basically, do life. We get helpful comments like, “You’ll need a jacket.” Or “You’ll want to put the mayonnaise on the bread first to coat it.” Endearing stuff like that. But we realize that she can’t help herself; she’s been a mom for much longer than I have. Her behavior is embedded within her at the deepest cellular level. She will never stop being a mother, and we will always be “the kids.”

Our son is away for his second year of college, so we worry about him from afar. He’s determined to save the world. (I’d say he has his work cut our for him.)

I still report depositions, but the majority are done over the phone, so I can wear my fuzzy slippers, pajama bottoms, and slouch my way through the proceedings, if I want to. (Isn’t this the way all business should be conducted?)

In author news, I’ve been busy, and I’ve done several things that have taken me out of my comfort zone, like:

1. An author appearance where I was invited to talk about my books, writing, and the publishing process to an assembled group. (Scary.) (See above picture.)

2. A live podcast with the subject matter: “When You Receive a Breast Cancer Diagnosis” for eCareDiary. (The “live” part was terrifying, but it went pretty well. I think. Listen for yourself, if you like.)

3. A radio interview with a CBS affiliate out of New York to discuss my memoirs Let Me Get This Off My Chest for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Again, terrifying, but I managed.)

4. A new book release in October, My Friends Are All Strange, the companion book to my YA novel Normalish.

5. A live author Skype chat with a creative writing group in Tennessee to talk about My Friends Are All Strange (after the members had a chance to read it). That was a lot of fun–after we worked out the technical glitches. (There are always glitches.)

6. I was part of a breast cancer survivor’s calendar, so I can now add “calendar girl” to my list of unexpected life happenings. The photo shoot took place back in August, and it ended up being a powerful, life-affirming experience. (It’s funny when I think of how this group of mostly strangers ended up topless in such a ridiculously short amount of time–and not everyone was drinking!)

7. And to begin the new year, I’ve just agreed to a book signing for the end of January for a local breast cancer nonprofit group, The Care Project, Inc. (Just long enough away so I can give myself plenty of time to stress over it.)

I’m going to try to keep pushing myself to do things outside of my comfort zone by remembering that:

Life is short

We need adventures

-and-

We never know what the positive consequence/outcome of our actions will be.

I wish you a new year filled with good health, good news, kindness, compassion, and, above all, love. Peace be with you, my friends.

Advertisement

Futon Stories

futonbox

Steve and I were looking online at futons for the spare room the other day. We wanted a place for a guest to sleep, but as per the usual, we’re on a budget. We found a few reasonably-priced futons and began reading their reviews. I noticed something after the first few, though. Inasmuch as they were reviews of the product–its durability, comfort, appearance, etc.–these bite-sized descriptions offered glimpses into the lives of the reviewers.

One review particularly struck me. A mother wrote that the twin-sized futon mattress was comfortable enough to sleep not only her, but her eight-year-old, and her five-year-old, all together. Beautiful imagery of mother and children drawn close. And such a maternal thing, a mother protecting her children, keeping them safe in the most vulnerable time, as they slept. The three on one futon suggested many things, a minimal living space being one. Did they share a home with others, multi-families, cramped, living on top of each other? Where was her mate? Was she single? Had she escaped an abusive relationship? Her review showed no emotion other than her happiness and satisfaction with the product. Of course, none of my scenarios may be the truth. Maybe she just needed a futon. Maybe it was just that. My mind has always gone to the sad, tragic side of things, though. Since I was a kid, I’d see people who looked down on their luck, and I would imagine the lives they led and think about them, worrying about them on the drive home. Now, I sometimes look at myself, how Steve and I are dressed, now that we are older and not as concerned about what strangers think when we run errands. People probably see us as we’re knocking around town like a couple of hobos and think, sadly, “Aww, look at them.”

Another futon story that caught my attention was the guy who broke up with his ex. She got the bed, so he needed a futon for his small apartment. Images popped into my head of a guy in a tiny apartment with nothing but a lamp, television on an overturned box, eating ramen, while sitting on his futon/bed. She got the bed. The bed. How much does that suck to have to give up one’s bed? I’ve never split up with someone where one of us got the bed and the other didn’t. But then would I even want our couple’s bed and all of its associated memories? Maybe I would rather have a futon and my freedom, my cramped apartment, and my ramen. But what if the bed were one of those Tempur-Pedic mattress beds, the type where the mattress adjusts up and down to suit the individual sleeper?

Tough choices.

We all have our stories to tell, whether they involve futons or not. And that is life.

On an unrelated note, my son is home for his spring break this week, and everything feels as if it is in balance. It took the three of us just twenty-four hours to demolish his celebratory homecoming chocolate cake. Life is good.

After I wrote this post, I received word from a friend about the tragic loss of someone dear to her, a young man. Much too young. If you read this, my dear friend, know that I grieve for your pain. Sometimes life makes no sense at all, and we are left grappling for answers to the unanswerable. You are in my thoughts.

I’m Terrified

In a few weeks, my elderly mother-in-law will be moving in with Steve and me. I’m terrified. (So is he.) When I tell people that she’s moving in with us–and these are sometimes strangers who don’t know her–I see the terror in their eyes, too. This tells me they’ve been there, they’re going to be there, or they’ve heard stories.

Don’t get me wrong, we get along great. We love each other, and she thinks of me as the daughter she never had. It’s just, we’re so different, she and I. She’s a prepper; I’m a run-out-to-the-store when we run out of that thing. She gets up at five in the morning, whereas if I have to get up when it’s dark outside, I wonder why God is punishing me. She’s the ant; I’m the grasshopper, humming along casually without a care. (This explains my sad checkbook.)

We’ve been moving her things in gradually, and last week, she asked if we’d take her boxes of Kleenex. “Sure. No problem!” There were a couple of boxes on her front table. Then she took me to the cupboard and started hauling out more boxes. There were more boxes in a different cabinet. We now have enough Kleenex to last us through a zombie apocalypse. We can get creative with them, making blankets out of the individual sheets by taping them together. Or maybe a smallish-sized tent. When it rains, I can use them as a temporary hat until they become too waterlogged.

Don’t even get me started on her paper towel supply. Or the ball of string…

Last night I dreamed that I was walking her little dog, Kai. For some reason, we ended up at an elementary school’s open house, and a young woman had taken Kai. When I went to claim her, the woman demanded $20 ransom, which I didn’t have on me. I’m not sure what this means, if anything, other than I may have some unresolved anxiety about living with Kai (who is a little bit of an ass, to be honest).

It’ll be different, for sure. Maybe it’ll be the best thing the three of us have experienced, living together, sharing our evening meals together, going on walks with her, slowly, carefully. My mother-in-law, in actuality, is probably more terrified than we are. It’s a big deal, leaving the house you’ve lived in for so many years, going from being independent to having to make compromises like you do when you live with others. One thing I know for sure is that we won’t know how it will be until it happens.

One day at a time.