Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Saturday, August 31, 2013

6-21-13 RMB Time

6-21-13 RMB Time
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
It’s not really June 21st, but that is the next day that I should have written the next Rita Mae Brown letter. That would be the next date of the next letter, if I were writing a letter every day. Sometimes I think of letter content, mull it over in my head, and then write two or three at once, filling in the dates.
Many dates have passed, but today, in this very moment, I refuse to lose them. Odd though, I never feel the need to write more than one letter per day, nor to skip ahead. I suppose if I am reinventing the past, then I could reinvent the future, but I don’t.
Time is an interesting concept. It’s something we all have but none can hold. It slips away from us and sneaks up on you.
I invented an expression that drives my “adult” sister nuts…negative time. That is when you plan to do ten things when you only have time to do five…you are mentally operating in negative time.
If anyone can flex time, she can, accomplishing more than most on any given day. Of course whatever doesn’t fit within the confines of the day, can be accomplished between one and four am. She is the night owl.
I have come to the awareness that we have all the time in the world and yet we only have today. This baffles me.
I read numerous books on goals and accomplishment, planning and execution, mindset and focus…but the days slip by and I am still not a writer. I console myself by saying that I am getting closer. I am writing more; more than just RMB letters. I read my work. I enjoy it. I enjoy writing more, reading more and in the end all is well. Because all we have is today. And today I am writing.
Sweet dreams,

Thursday, August 29, 2013

6-20-13 RMB Blue Dots and Red Bows

6-20-13 RMB Blue Dots and Red Bows
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
I enjoyed reading the “blue dot theory of human sexuality” first hand in chapter seven of Bingo. I enjoyed it all the more because the main character states “I subscribe to the blue dot theory of human sexuality. Actually, I don’t subscribe to it; I made it up.”
I had heard of the theory via other writers writing about Rita Mae Brown. Reading it for myself, I felt like I had arrived in some way. Does it mean I have read enough of your work to have reached a certain pinnacle? I don’t know. Maybe it is more of a connecting of the dots, no pun intended. I heard of it and now I’ve read it in the work where it was first written…sounds awfully melodramatic.
For anyone not privy to the theory… “If on a given day every single person who has ever had homosexual sex woke up with a blue dot on his or her forehead, either three quarters of adult America would stay in bed or they’d be brazen and hit the streets, and finally all this huffing and puffing over who sleeps with whom would be over…the color of the dot should reflect the level of one’s activity…” and there is more of course. I like the theory. I like that you made it up.
I made up the “red bow” theory. A “red bow” is a task or process that you must do to keep the powers that be in charge happy, whether it makes any sense what-so-ever or not. It originated one evening while I was working in a restaurant. I was minion number four and minion number three decided he needed to argue with the power that be on that particular shift about a certain process, the equipment, proper procedure, etc, etc, etc.
I informed my co-minion that if so and so said do it, it was his job to do it. “Take it up with management later, but for tonight…just do it…please!” I did not want to do my work and minion number three’s work too. I could see the writing on the wall was quickly heading that way.
He proceeded to explain to me (and I could not have cared less) about the proper procedure, process, measurements, blah, blah, blah. I said “You are absolutely right.” He was smugly surprised by my assent. “However,” I continued, “she is in charge and if she says put a red bow on that piece of equipment, then it is your job to put a god damn red bow on that equipment! You can tell the manager tomorrow what a waste of a perfectly good bow it is. But tonight, she is in charge. You are not.”
Needless to say, he did not get my point. He lost his job over the need to be right at the wrong time.
Since then, my family and co-workers have become familiar with the “red bow” theory. Every once in a while a mom, or a boss will spout a directive and two or more others nearby will recognize it for what it is, roll their eyes and mouth the words… “red bow”.
Sometimes getting along means allowing someone else to be right…even if they’re not. Cheers to blue dots, red bows and finding a way to get along, to accepting one another, to accepting all shades of blue dots and the occasional red bow task…for the sake of the greater good.
Many happy returns,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

6-19-13 RMB Writing

6-19-13 RMB Writing
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
So this is writing for me, on one particular night of a failed experiment to write in bed, the first and last time I will try that…I change into my sleepwear, which at the moment consists of a loose tank top and shorts, then I lay down in my bed because I am exhausted. But there are a few things I want to add to the story, the almost a novel story about the character America. So I stretch my legs out and prop my pillows up, setting my laptop on my lap. I type a while and lay my head back for a minute. A minute becomes an hour…or two.
I wake up. Think I should put the computer away and really go to bed. But first I want to finish my thought. One thought leads to another and an hour later I can’t keep my eyes open. So I rest my head back for a minute, legs still outstretched, laptop still whirring on my lap. A minute becomes an hour.
I wake up. It’s 2am now and I think I am wide awake. I type for a while, until I lay my head back to piece together some words that don’t seem to fit. I lose the battle to keep my eyes open. I sleep.
At 5am I wake up. I put away the computer, having “finished” the novel…again, I even type “The End” as my last two words, lest my helpful reviewers think to encourage more scenes.
I curl up in the fetal position, a welcome change to legs that have been stretched out for hours under my laptop. The pillow is cool and I have a half hour to sleep before I have to get up to get ready for work. A half hour becomes an hour.
I email friends and family the new “finished” version and head into work where, oddly enough, I feel exhausted. I guzzle down a pot of coffee.
I think to myself, this being a writer business…there must be a better way.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

6-18-13 RMB Same Love by Macklemore

6-18-13 RMB Same Love by Macklemore
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
On my walk I listened to the radio and heard a rap song on NPR about gay rights. Rap and gay rights, not two topics often found in the same sentence. But that was NPR, where life is discussed differently, with more acceptance and their stories include messages from around the world, a variety of cultures, including sub-cultures. I listen to the station sometimes to hear the accents, life of a different flavor, brought to me from them, from the outside world to be a part of my insides.
On that walk, the topic reached me from a different angle, from the inside out, words combined with more power than I could have constructed. Macklemore is the artist, the rapper, the writer of lyrics that move humanity forward. Because now it plays on other stations and in other nations, others are listening now.
[excerpt of Same Love by Macklemore]
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition
Playing God
Ahh- nah, here we go
America the brave
Still fears what we don’t know

Macklemore, I’ve never heard his name before in my life, but he has made my hero list for this contribution. When I look up the song, I see there are others, Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg, just to name a couple, who have stepped up, who have spoke out.

They all speak for something beyond gay and straight, beyond rights for one group. They talk of acceptance for all, equality for all. I like the links of this convoy. I like where it is going…to a better tomorrow.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

6-17-13 RMB Contribution

6-17-13 RMB Contribution
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
On the flight home from vacation, I began reading Bingo. As always I anticipated the words prior to page one, like a child opening a present, I looked forward to their contents.
They contained “it”. The “it” that drew me to Rita Mae Brown. I carried them with me for days, still do, literally and figuratively, as I read Bingo. I had a niece read them. “Yes, that is what my instructor, my mentor, says about acting! That’s exactly it.” She get it. She gets me.
I read the words to a sister and had a coworker read them, who said “I see why you like her now.”
These are some of those RMB words…
“I have been fortunate in my readers. Not only do you faithfully buy my novels, you show up by the hundreds and sometimes even thousands to hear me speak and you send me blizzards of fan mail. I am grateful. Who could ask for anything more?
Well, I am going to ask for more. I’m going to ask you to consider carefully your own creativity. Many of you set aside your creativity for “practical” reasons. It isn’t within the scope of an introduction to list painfully why and how people abandon their imaginations but it is within the scope of this introduction to encourage you to find yourself again. You haven’t lost your creativity, your imagination – You’ve simply misplaced it…
…You might wonder why I’m impassioned about your creativity. There are two reasons for this. The first is that I will be enriched by your creativity. Whether or not you publish a book or sell a painting isn’t what I mean. What I mean is that activating your imagination is going to make you more exciting to yourself and to others. The second reason is that imaginative people forge new solutions to old problems. Right now we need every thinking person to set forward and contribute to a safe and sane future. Your are part of that process. I celebrate your contribution.”
This was dated February 28, 1987, and is still as true today as it was 26 years ago. This is another reason for my admiration. You see the challenges we face, the ones that will take decades to solve, and you offer hope, a path to follow, a way to participate in a resolution, a nudge forward.
Many leaders will draw up documentation, tell others how to live, enforce order. Then there are some that see beyond today, who know that it is not what we do today or how we do it that matters. It is who we are, what we can draw out of each other…and what we leave behind. It is how we affect one another on into the next generation and the generations that follow after that.
RMB, I celebrate your contribution,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

6-16-13 RMB America

6-16-13 RMB America
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
My family reunion vacation is wrapping up. A sister and her husband drive out early to prepare her for missionary work in Nicaragua. A nephew is slotted to go home with his grandparents to help with the yard, another type of missionary work, lending a hand where it is needed.
Even the dog, Cleo, knows when it is time to go home, she carefully monitors the packing, sniffs the suitcases and steps aside. I guess it all met her approval.
Another sister flies out early for New Mexico. Two brothers, with wives and kids and kid’s kid all travel by car to their Alabama homes.
I fly with two sisters, a brother-in-law and one niece back to California. Everyone has something or someone waiting for them, work, housework, loved ones, pets.
I face a re-structuring at work, a new employee, possibly an intern too. Change. Have I mentioned I don’t like change? I know I have. Thank you for your patience with me.
I escaped all the change around me on this vacation by combining over 20,000 words to tell a story. I thought it complete. Then my friends and family reviewed it. After taking their advice, now it is at 41,000 words and climbing. They say it still needs more “filler”, more background, more detail and finally…more sex. I fear it is growing too big. But then I’ve never written a book before.
Side thought, my RMB letter file contains 55,710 words. Hmm, is it “filled” enough?
So I “fill” in background, details and add sex. I fear I have added too much in all three areas.”How much is too much sex?” I ask a friend.
“Oh I doubt that you would add too much sex. Go for it.” She knows me. She knows I’ve never written a sex scene. She knows how much I fretted over the only kissing scene in the story.
This was her response after reading the first draft of the story with added sex:
Wow. Um...yeah, you have the knack all doesn't work as the end of the book, but it works in every other way. Jeez.”
Another friend reads it and simply responds with a smiley face. Both tell me to write more; continue the story. They say it is publish-able. I have doubts, but then I am not done yet. Maybe time and “filler” and more description, possibly even more sex, will rise me above my doubts.
If it does come to pass, you will know the story I am talking about by the character named America, which is also the working title at this point. This endeavor has solidified my respect for you and any writer that has sewn together a book’s worth of words, let alone fifty of them. My cap goes off to you RMB.
Time to get back to writing,

Monday, August 19, 2013

6-15-13 RMB Inner Compass

6-15-13 RMB Inner Compass
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
I am nearing the end of High Hearts. As you describe the perspective of Lutie, her view on the Civil War and its effect on her, what “seeped into her marrow”, I am moved by the clarity and beauty of your words.
“She had seen things that decades would not wipe from her mind. It wasn’t really the occasional grotesque sight that shook her…What seeped into her marrow were the little things, those incidents that caught her unawares like a bright, shining pool of blood on cobblestones. No body in sight, yet the blood was as fresh and slick as if someone dumped a bucket of red paint on the street.  Those were the things that shifted her inner compass…No one would be the same. Not the men who fought, or the women who nursed them, or the children who bore mute witness to the carnage.”
“What seeped into her marrow…”
“Those were the things that shifted her inner compass.”
 “... the children who bore mute witness to the carnage.”
These are important words laced together. What seeps into our marrow to some degree or another, or is blocked and refused admittance, is all telling in its own way.
Our “inner compass” is forever being shifted by new findings, insights, a well phrased sentence even…What causes the shift is as relevant as the direction it takes and the distance it travels. 
Lastly, we are the children of our universe who witness the carnage in our world, some more than others, all do to some extent.

Too often we place one foot in front of the other, not looking back, nor looking within, only stepping, sometimes missing the view from where we stand and lacking the awareness to look ahead.
You created the character Lutie, told her story, an average life lived in an extraordinary time. The depth of your Civil War research shows through the hearts of your characters; the heart, the life of Lutie.
You looked back and brought forward emotions, tragedy and triumph. “What do I stand for?” Words from the song Some Nights echo. Your work begs one to ask this question of ourselves.
As I read your books, I see you as a caretaker of sorts. The way you bring forward the past, examine the present and offer hope for the future, it is all done with such care, such insight.
I am glad I found you, found your work. I worry about our world, our souls, we often seem so lost…and then I remember you, pick up a book and read…and worries subside. Some good does exist. There is more to us than what we are. There is a whole future’s worth of what we can be. Our thoughts, our words will take us there.
Yours truly,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

6-12-13 RMB Teambuilding

6-12-13 RMB Teambuilding
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
A sister tells me she will be going to Nicaragua in a week for a week. It is a missionary trip to build a home for someone in need of one. We walk for over an hour and find solutions for the world’s problems.
It all seems so simple when two minds meet, whether they stand as one or side by side with opinions that differ. Eye to eye we see one another’s perspective, whether we agree or not, each evolves.
These reunions are teambuilding exercises; some cook together; some walk together; others play games; all interact; evolving into a new family; a stronger family. An education seeps in. When one learns the preferred soda of a cousin, more is learned than meets the eye, the inflection of one’s voice; the strength of one’s bias, “Any soda is fine” or “I’ll only drink…”. There is a big difference there. And there is so much more. 

I walk on the beach to collect shells for the New Mexico sister. I won’t go in the water; won’t wear a bathing suit or even shorts anymore, maybe someday, but not today.
A nephew helps me. He searches the ocean floor for shells under the waves. He comes to me soon after, “All I could find are rocks.” He hands me three big pebbles…this is the nephew, now twenty-eight, who at two, brought me pebbles, helped me find my way home.
Often what we find is something even greater than what we seek.
PS. If you read the letter dated 5-29-13, this one will make more sense, I’m just sayin’.

Friday, August 16, 2013

6-11-13 RMB A Good Quest

6-11-13 RMB A Good Quest
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
“How do you know she is good?”
“Because you married her!”
“If all three of the guys were evil, wouldn’t that be something.”
“I don’t think any of the guys are evil.”
“See, I’m not drunk.”
“At this point I don’t know what to think.”
“It only takes three for evil to win.”
“Well, you’re on the quest.”
“This quest does, in fact, succeed.”
“Did I not tell you I was good?”
These are words said at a ‘round table’ where three generations play a game. The table is actually rectangular, but the game is in the spirit of King Arthur, complete with quests, good and evil. There is much laughter, joy and merriment. They are having fun. I am having fun listening to them.
These are the moments my father gives us. He is not in the room, having retired for the night hours ago. His work here is done. Starting a couple years ago, he contacted family members, arranged the dates, the place – a big house on Alabama’s Gulf Shore, the airline tickets, sleeping quarters, the activities and the atmosphere. He brought one from New Mexico, a couple from Kentucky, several from California, many from Alabama; four generations, comprised of nearly two dozen people and one dog.
The man who spent a lifetime establishing boundaries builds bridges, from generation to generation, from sibling to sibling. His efforts reunite some parted for decades; introduce generations to one another.
These moments are his greatest gift. These moments were costly, financially for him, costly in time for each individual. We all took time out of our lives to be here, some despite health issues or work issues or just plain old issues. Because of these reunions, family members email one another, open up to one another. Friendships are formed and existing bonds strengthen.
Interesting how, in these costly moments, it is our history, our everyday moments of yesteryear that bring us together. The retelling of stories, while etching new ones in our lives, solidifies who we are, to one another and our own awareness of ourselves.
He discusses finances; gives us pointers for our future security. But what I am learning from him is something that can’t be measured in dollars and cents. His efforts demonstrate that the very best gifts we can give to ourselves and others, are certain moments; moments like these. Some cost more than others in a variety of ways, yet all are precious.   
Cheers to enjoying your moments,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

6-8-13 RMB High Hearts

6-8-13 RMB High Hearts
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
It nears midnight. I am in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The family reunion is in full swing. I showed up. I am here, in a corner of the living area, off to the side, outside of the circle of couches and chairs where family gathers and talks. I write Dear Rita Mae Brown letters.
Well, actually I checked email and answered a question for work first…then I retreated into the last couple of letters, ones forming in my head over several days. And I correct my stories. A friend has emailed me back her comments on the progression of one story…it starts with “Nice!” and then proceeds with typo corrections and wording suggestions. “Nice!” I like that.
What I like even more is that there are many reading my words now…a sister, a nephew, a niece and several friends. Sometimes they write “I want to know more” or “What happens next?”
We are all busy, yet they make time for me, for my stories. I am blessed. And I know that indicates my work is not horrible, skewed as their praise may be.
On the plane I read High Hearts. Is any war worth the cost of one life? That is a question posed. I would venture to ask does any war truly save lives? Aren’t all of them touted to do that in some way? We teach children to resolve their differences with words then to draw their weapons as adults.
A concern of mine is our history and lack of advancement. Some say it is human nature to fight, to dominate. The phrase “let them duke it out” comes to mind, indicating that is acceptable.
I became frustrated and angry at someone the other day, angry enough to strike, but I didn’t. I used words, at an elevated volume and perhaps those words left marks of their own, but words were a better option than striking out.
If one person can find a better option, knowing it is still not the best solution, can the best be found? Can others find better options? Can nations find better options?
Nelson Mandela was hospitalized for a lung infection. The headlines label him a Peace Activist. I watched Invictus with my boys about a year ago. I use this man as an example often. If one man could endure so much and do such good, what are we each capable of?
Many pray for him, visit him and voice their support of him. How many mirror his courage, kindness and foresight? Could that be the logical next step? Is that what he hoped for in his life’s work, to leave a world with knowledge of the mountains that one person can move and further more the impetus for us to move mountains?
In an earlier letter I wondered if we would find courage, and certainty to act on it, if we sought opportunities to be courageous, to help one another. My struggles of late remind me that action need not be grand, nor extreme, to hold court. Sometimes it is a minor act in a single moment that sways the direction of destiny.

Monday, August 12, 2013

6-5-13 RMB 4am

6-5-13 RMB 4am 

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

The other night I wrote until 4 am in my stories. The next day, exhausted I went to bed early, but woke at 4am …to write. I am at once reminded of why I write and of my own limitations. I write because that is where I am in my element…whether my words are entertaining or of any interest at all to anyone else is another story. 

I am limited, because writing does not yet “fit” in my life, between work and kids and other familial obligations and walking…I find myself writing at hours previously spent sleeping. How long can I rob myself of slumber to allot that time to write?

Or do I adjust my walking regimen and walk less? I have lost 54 pounds and plan to lose 51 more. As is, much of my walking time is spent in character development and scene mapping.

I multitask my friends into my life to make room for them. A friend, the one that pointed out I am ye’ of little patience, has already informed me that she would like a conversation with me, just me. She would like me to call just once when I am not walking, watching boys, washing laundry, or shopping. She would like a call that is a call not accompanied by another task. She is asking a lot. 

Wow, what a complainer I have become…perhaps I am cranky…from lack of sleep.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

6-4-13 RMB Just Show Up

6-4-13 RMB Just Show Up
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
I have been writing stories, escaping into them, escaping the changes in my life, escaping the needs of friends and family, escaping thoughts of our upcoming family reunion vacation. If I can just coast by, the time will pass on its own accord. The changes will transpire, run their course.
All I have to do is show up. Show up for work and handle each challenge as it presents itself, show up for family and friends and lend a hand where I can, show up at the family reunion and just be there,
I try not to think too much, not to think about the sales that won’t happen while the Sales Manager (me) vacations, because I have no sales crew. My one employee, who also handles marketing, just gave her notice. It is a good opportunity. I encourage her to grow, to move on with her life, while trying to figure out how I can grow sales alone. I email myself all I think I will need to continue working outside the office. Can I work and vacation at the same time? We shall see.
I try not to think of friends and family going through changes, adjusting medication, facing challenges, just be there, just help when I can; be the taxi; be the proverbial “shoulder” to lean on. Just be present.
I try not to think of the family reunion, of emotions that simmer under the surface with family, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, several generations, so much history, so many issues in one house for one week, two dozen of us. Just be there visit, reconnect, move forward, never back, today is more important than yesterday, tomorrow more important than today.
If I think too much, my stomach clenches, my head spins and I literally tremble. Thinking leads to feeling, opening paths best left un-tread. I don’t have the answers; I can’t solve the issues in our small company alone; I can’t make the world make sense for someone else (it doesn’t even make sense to me); I can’t heal the wounds in my family - not even close. And everyone everywhere has wounds; perhaps that is the most frustrating element.
Really, there is more good than anything else. I know change is part of progress. I know I am fortunate to be in this family. Siblings, halves, steps, and wholes, all care for each other. Overall, we all treat each other kinder than any other family unit I have known. Each generation has cared for someone, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a father, who needed caring for, temporarily or as they ended their final days, months and years.
I know I am fortunate. Although even with all that is good, it overwhelms me. Wuss…But I can be there. I can do whatever I can do in the moment. I can do my best…and I will.
All my best,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

5-29-13 RMB Seeing Magic

5-29-13 RMB Seeing Magic
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
I came upon this blog post from August 11, 2005 Here are some quotes I found interesting:

Regarding Rubyfruit Jungle:
I had to turn from the last page right back to the first to absorb it again. I read it twice in one long night”
“You cannot force open a closed mind like cracking a nut. I can, however, live with honor, respect and dignity.”
“I had been obsessed with Ms.Brown’s work for many years….I saw her speak at a little bookstore in northern California…I felt like I had seen God and heard her speak…only to come to the realization that she is only a woman, like anyone else. An intriguing, woman who knew how to beautifully and articulately speak her mind.”
This person writes of moving on with her life, growing up in a sense. I hope I never grow up. The “growing up” I refer to means losing your ability to see the magic. It means seeing a woman as just a woman, or a rock as a rock, rather than a pebble that has the power to help you find your way home.
There is a Winnie the Pooh story of how he tried leaving a trail to find his way home in several ways, ultimately pebbles did the trick. It’s derived from an old fable, but I like Winnie the Pooh’s version.
My “adult” nephew connected with that story. When he was with me, he brought me pebbles wherever we were. I tucked them in my pockets. At two he knew something about me that no adult knew. He knew I needed to find my way. He knew to bring me pebbles and that I would cherish them.
Years later, when a friend was going through storms of her own, I told her the story. We worked together. When I sensed she was having a bad day, I would leave pebbles on her keyboard. She never mentioned them. One day I asked her, “You do know I’m the one leaving pebbles on your keyboard, right? Do you remember the story?”
She laughed, “Yes, I remember, but even if I didn’t, I would know it was you leaving me pebbles.”
I was confused for a moment “How would you know it was me if you didn’t remember the story?”
She put her hand on her hip and with a bit of attitude replied “Really? Who else would give someone rocks??? Only you would do that.” I had to laugh. She had a point there.  
I often told her she was amazing. She is. I call another friend my hero. She was a cop for 17 years, but the main reason she is my hero is that her heart is strong and brave and loves more fully than any other I have known. There are others whose magic I see too. In you Rita Mae Brown, I see a unique spirit, one that became brave in the face of adversity, one that healed hearts and carried the passion of a warrior with the heart of a guardian. I hope I always see the magic in a pebble, in my friends…and in you.
With much admiration,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

5-28-13 RMB Destiny in the Wind

5-28-13 RMB Destiny in the Wind
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
In reading High Hearts, I gain an odd comfort in reading about the characters that lived in your mind who spoke with characters that lived in their minds. I enjoyed Ernie June’s explanation of the “familiars”, a person imagined that eases your heart, and Banjo’s conversations with his deceased wife.
Our minds, our souls, they are linked in ways undefined. It will take open minds seeking explanations to map the paths that minds free of restraint already roam.

One paragraph that I found particularly insightful was where Lutie contemplated the moments in time directly preceding the Civil War “this lull, this rosy prelude to whatever shall follow, she thought. We laugh too readily. We speak more openly to one another than before. Perhaps we say things that would better be left unsaid. The smiles are brighter, and the men more gallant. Is anyone as afraid as I am? The grain of destiny is in the wind.”
“The grain of destiny is in the wind.” That is a powerful sentence. It is a sentence that reveals something about the writer. Only a gifted person can feel the “grain of destiny” stir, only an insightful person sees its effect on others, as described by Lutie through the words of Rita Mae Brown.
We all have the ability to discover our gifts. Too few of us have the inclination. Seeing it and feeling it remain far from understanding it, further still from any degree of control over it or influence upon it.
Yet all we do is of influence, positive or negative, it all registers. There is a connection between our moments, our days and our lives; our future and our history. Every second counts. I seek the best direction, the most beneficial for us all, the paths are numerous, the steps - an infinity of choices.
One life, of such insignificance, in the midst of all life, it is all that I have to offer. I once struggled madly to make everything better, until it unraveled me. Now I attempt to make something better, anything better, if only to simply better myself.
To give more than you’ve taken, to help more than you’ve hindered, a sweet dream.
Sweet dreams to you,

Monday, August 5, 2013

5-27-13 RMB Captivating Adventures

5-27-13 RMB Captivating Adventures
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
As change swirls around me, the uneasiness I feel is settling into the facts, the proper course of action for the cause of the unease. Other’s lives are affected, not just my own. So I will elaborate later, when all is said and done.
I walk a thin line of lending support, while keeping my own balance, my own sanity. “Sanity” may be a bit overdramatic, but it is in the ballpark. Change wrecks me.
While lamenting to my wise friend three thousand miles away about the frustration of waiting to see where the cards may fall, she said “You are not a person that has much patience.”
Offended I remarked “I’ve put up with you for over thirty years, I think that shows a certain level of patience.”
Her response was a hearty laugh. Something must strike her quite funny to garner that response, which caused the thought to cross my mind that perhaps it was she that exhibited patience in putting up with me for the past thirty years. I thought it prudent to drop the topic.
This brief exchange caused me to determine to be more patient and, if falling short of that, to at least be aware of my own level of patience. I tested it out that night with a relative, listening more, paying more attention, wrestling down my own urge to flee, to escape into myself, my book, my walk.
A peacefulness came with the added patience. Patience = kindness. That is not an equation I would have structured previously, but it is the one that came to mind as I evaluated the peacefulness and its source.

In High Hearts, I am enjoying the characters more than I normally do in any book. You draw unique personalities with depth. One can sense the electricity between Geneva and Mars. Good writing reaches inside a person and moves them, to laugh or to cry…to feel.
The way you place a person in a position to discuss something from one perspective with another person of an opposite mind, each holding varying degrees of knowledge, that draws interest from the reader to discover, what will be discovered next between the characters. Your books are captivating adventures.
Peace be with you,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

5-26-13 RMB “Man is More Ape then Angel”

5-26-13 RMB “Man is More Ape then Angel” posted 8-4-13
Dear Rita Mae Brown
I am almost half way through High Hearts. About the Civil War, the character Mars says “…after this war, there will be another war, and one after that. Man is more ape than angel.”
The boys, my three nephews, argue all the time and I ask them, when all is said and done, what have they gained in the arguing? Do they feel better? Did they get their way? Or did everyone get sent to their rooms to cool off? Did they learn anything, maybe how to argue better… or perhaps that arguing often sets us back more than it moves us forward?
How many lives have been lost to war? Everything has averages and a projected outcome. If all leaders considering war were to look at the lives that would be lost, the cost to state and humanity, would they under any circumstance say “We can afford to lose a hundred soldiers or a thousand soldiers. Let’s just line them up, shoot them now and get it over with. Let’s save the cost of travel and ammunition for them to shoot the other guys, because after all isn’t it the richer nation that wins?”
What a crazy idea, we would not kill our own…yet is that not what we do, sending them in harm’s way?
This method, it would remove the element of winning. What do we win? If it is the greater good we are fighting for, isn’t there a way of finding it, without bloodshed? Shouldn’t it be obvious, after all it is the greater good, not a mission to determine the most murderous nation, right? Or does goodness have absolutely nothing to do with war and the reasons touted for it?
If every person did their best to be their best, if every nation showed equal respect for one another, for their own citizens, what would we have to fight about?
It’s easy to ask rhetorical questions. When my own temper rises, I am far from level headed. Those six RMB words spell it out clearly, “Man is more ape than angel.” Knowing that, it seems there must be a way to tame the ape, to value its strength, preserve its passion…and honor life, all life, at the same time. 
When we look for answers, we find them,

Friday, August 2, 2013

5-25-13 RMB Two Loraines

5-25-13 RMB Two Loraines

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

I conclude from all that I have read about you and by you that you are a hard worker. Consciously or not, it seems your work and your life intertwined such that there is little separation. Work earns us more than dollars, it earns us respect, a voice, recognition, skills and more. Your work is a testament of your life and vice versa. It is as though you saw this early on and made the best of your efforts.

I too value work, to a fault at times. I’ve heard the message “In your last moments, you won’t have wished you worked more.” In my case, I just might. Many have encouraged me to pull away from work “get a life.” I watch those same people dread going to their workplace daily. I often look forward to work. Who’s to say who has the more comfortable life?

In my late twenties, I worked at a furniture store that also did turn key temporary housing, the idea being that you sign on the dotted line and you can walk into a new home with the turn of a key, complete with furniture, running water and electricity humming …or so the theory goes.

Daily there was a crisis here or there, missing furniture, no utilities or worse a “missing” apartment …when an apartment, expected to be vacant, was occupied…by someone else. Often I had to talk to irate clients, regardless of who was at fault, the furniture company, the utility company, the apartment complex… it all resulted in me getting an earful on the phone.

One July sixteenth evening I assured the client I was doing everything I could to right the situation. The client was sure that was not the case at all. I was tired. It neared 9pm. I had been at work since 9am, on the phone dealing with this particular issue over three hours.   
“This is my birthday and I will stay here as long as it takes until this is resolved to your satisfaction.”

“What a ridiculous thing to say!” My comment was not believed and taken as an insult.

“What is your work’s fax number? I will copy my driver’s license and fax it to you. It will be there when you get to the office in the morning.” The client believed me. Shortly thereafter we found amicable ground. I was able to go home. Once home, I celebrated the remaining two hours of my birthday by falling into bed, only to awaken the next day and start the process of furnishing furniture and accoutrements all over again. My life was work, sleep, repeat.

Certain days stand out, like the one above. Another was an October afternoon when my “adult” sister called me at work. My family rarely called me at work, there was work to do, no time for chit chat. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, I have some news for you and I wanted to tell you myself. I had the baby. She is a healthy baby girl.”

“Wow, that is great news.” Mentally I was wondering how I had lost track of her due date. Was the baby early? I recalled the commotion over picking a name that started with an R, so they would be the four R’s. “Did you decide on a name?”

“Yes we did. Her name is Rochelle Loraine and we spelled it wrong, just like your name.”
I was speechless. Tears snuck up on me and filled my eyes. Eventually I found my voice, “Really? You didn’t tell me you were going to name her that.”

“We wanted it to be a surprise. We were not sure of the first name, but we were sure of the middle name. The nurse tried to tell us to fix it so it would be spelled right.”

Apparently the nurse that helped our father did not know that Loraine is normally spelled Lorraine, with two Rs. My sister was named after a saint for her first name and our father, a feminine version of his name, for her middle name. I was named after no one and both names were misspelled. I think it was an omen. My mother thought she was giving birth to an Elisa Lorraine, but ended up taking a Lisa Loraine home.

So thirty year’s later, Sis was explaining to a nurse why they left the other second R off…on purpose.

This is my niece. She befriended another kindergartner because he was teased, distant, in need of a friend. He became her shadow. In a lunch room governed by strict lunch ladies, all students were instructed to sit with their class…with one exception. This boy and this girl, in a lunch room of hundreds, were the only two allowed to sit with one another. Not even the strict lunch ladies could bear to see the boy’s heartbreak if he were parted from his guardian angel for a single lunch period...throughout their entire grade school experience. Over a decade and a half later, his presence remains. Now, it is hard to tell who is saving who, who is protecting who, who is following who. Both are loyal to the core.

She championed for justice, fairness and honesty before she knew the opposition that would confront her, before she knew that it was also I, her namesake, that she championed for. Once a schoolmate made a derogatory comment about a photo of two men embracing that was on the cover of her notebook They were two actors playing roles on television. That schoolmate, and all within earshot, learned it was not such a good idea to express prejudice in my niece’s presence.

Earlier this month I emailed her the RMB letters. The note accompanying them expressed a gratitude to her that I had never fully been able to express before. I had never discussed my relationships with her. “Thank you, a million times over. You have no idea how much your words and actions have meant to me... Know that whenever you defend anyone against prejudice, you are defending everyone against prejudice.”

Twenty years after that October afternoon call, two Loraines walked for over an hour one Saturday night. She had read all the RMB letters. We talked about my life, the letters and my past. We talked about her life, school and her future.

She is an actress, a straight A student at the University of Southern California, a champion for the greater good and a friend. This is my niece who, I am proud to say, carries my name.