Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy anniversary to us!

Today we are married 39 years. And, I remember that day 39 years ago like it was yesterday. In the morning my sister and I picked up mom and dad in Long Beach as they disembarked from a cruise and brought them home. Then I went to get my hair done. My hair was about as long in those days as it is now. But then it was mostly dark brown, not mostly gray.

And then we went to the Beverly Hills court house for a little private ceremony. Mom and Dad signed the license as witnesses and my cousin, with her gambler former husband, was the photographer. Bob's old college friend with his ex-wife were there. And my 21-year old sister. That was it. No other friends, no other family.

After the ceremony we went back to mom and dad’s and had champagne and talked to my brother. Even though my mom and dad weren't happy with my choice of mate, he said he couldn't ask for a better man for me. But, then he and Bob always got along. They called each other boyfriends.

We had a wedding dinner at a now defunct restaurant on Beverly Drive. Dad wanted to pay, but Bob insisted. Because my parents were so resistant to our getting married, we didn’t want to be beholden to them. We never had another party or a shower. We just got married. We had made up our minds three weeks before, bought a diamond ring and wedding band for me and set the date. I also quickly found the perfect dress for my second marriage -- a cream colored silk, shirtwaist style with a wide sash. When I look back at those old photos of us repeating our vows I wonder what I was thinking. The dress was so short the shirt practically skimmed my pantie line. But, hey, that was the style back in 1970.

I tried to find a rabbi who would marry us, but didn’t have luck with that, since Bob isn't Jewish. If we were marrying today, I probably would have been succesful. But, I was okay with a Jewish judge. That worked for me.

So, against the odds, we made it all the way to here -- who needs a rabbi, a party, and the approval of doubting parents to make a marriage work?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Still querying

So, this is going to be another agent – the soul of a gnat – rant.

From last Sunday to last Wednesday (my birthday) I thought I had a real nibble from a real agent. She is someone my son referred me to – whom after hearing what my book is about and said yes she was interested, and whom after she responded to my follow-up query said yes we should talk and that she is extremely impressed with my material, decided to pass after all. And, the excuse she gave was, and I quote: “We are concerned about being able to find a publishing home for your memoir. Our past experience has been that very few books of this nature can make it through a publishing committee unless there is someone famous involved. Regretfully and after much consideration, we must take a pass at this time.”

Okay, I can accept the reason for the rejection. I can understand that in this publishing climate, upbeat subjects and famous people are a better publishing risk. However, what I can’t accept is that she didn’t tell me that during our first conversation. I certainly gave her the chance.. She knew then what she told me later, but what she chose to do was waste both our time.

And, now here’s the real kicker. I Googled her and found a 2004 article about an agent with the same name who had bilked a cookbook author of over $400K and then disappeared from the scene. Maybe that’s why her name isn’t listed in the two agent guides I have or on any online lists of agents. Even on the website for the agency she resides in now, only her husband’s name is mentioned – also the same as the husband’s name mentioned in the article.

Okay, I’ll be good and not name names here. What’s true is I have no idea how it all turned out with the cookbook author, so the article posted on the web could be completely bogus.

Let it suffice to say I probably dodged a bullet on this one. More reason to keep querying on.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sixty-nine years of accomplishments

I just revisited my blog entry from one year ago today. I didn’t say much about my birthday except that I thought I looked younger than my years and certainly felt better than my years. Well, the same is mostly true today – except that I do look like I’ve aged quite a bit. I have more lines, bags under my eyes and I’ve let my hair go quite gray – totally my choice. I’ve also grown a bit around the middle. But, I’m becoming less vain about all that. I’m 69 for Pete’s sake; I might as well show that I’ve lived those years.

So, today I’m thinking about what I’ve accomplished in those 69 years.

For one thing I’ve accomplished good health. I don’t have any major or even minor illnesses, and I have no aches and pains. My cousin-in-law says everyone past 60 has pains. Sorry, he’s wrong about me. I don’t. I’m as fit as I was 20 years ago. I don’t jog anymore, but I think nothing of working out most days and taking up to two-hour walks with absolutely no problems afterward. In fact, I think I’m more limber today than I was a year ago – thanks to regular Pilates and Yoga stretching.

Another thing I’ve accomplished is a long, happy marriage. I didn’t get off on the right foot in that department. I had a first marriage (a practice one, some say) that I got into too young and for all the wrong reasons. But I must congratulate myself for realizing my mistake early and getting out. I remarried five years later and am about to celebrate 39 years of marriage with husband No. two. A woman couldn’t ask for a more loving and caring and giving husband. I am blessed.

I also have a wonderful son – age 35. He is handsome, smart, and talented as a tennis player/instructor and an actor. He still hasn’t fulfilled his dream to become a successful actor, but as of today, he has a lot of possibilities. He works hard at it, and I respect that. I also love him unconditionally. And I think that love is reciprocated. We tell each other I love you every time we speak, and we mean it. Unfortunately, he is my only surviving son. I cannot believe that the last birthday I celebrated with Paul was 10 years ago. There’s no healing from that. There is only living fully with what I have and moving on.

And, live fully I do. I have a successful career producing proposals for a large aerospace company. I’ve done this job off and on since I was one year out of college. In fact I was a sort of trail blazer for the women coming into the company after me. Early on it was almost impossible for a woman with a college degree to get a job with equal status and pay as men doing the same work. And I was a part of a class action suit that paved the way for that to change. Nowadays women are almost equal in the lower level professional jobs. Yet, there’s still a bit more to go to get equality in the number of women in vice president and other high level management positions – at least at my company. I’m confident it will happen someday – maybe not in my lifetime – but someday.

I supplement my career with a fairly successful writing avocation – something I’ve actively been doing since Paul was first diagnosed with bipolar disease in 1993. Just recently I’ve had three poems published, won an honorable mention in an essay contest, and had an excerpt from my memoir published. Speaking of, I’ve completed a first draft of a memoir that I’ve been marketing to agents for about a year. And the steady stream of rejections doesn’t deter me. I keep querying on. I also co-wrote a non-fiction book published in the early 90s, co-edited a poetry anthology published in the early 2000s, and recently wrote the poems for a book of photography – another book I’m trying to market. So, the writing is going well and most importantly, keeping my creative juices flowing. I’d be lost without this creative outlet.

Okay what else? Travel, reading, movies, plays, operas, dining out, meeting with friends, and the relationships I have with my nieces and nephews and other family members are all a big part of my life. Someone recently asked how I’ve survived the death of a child. I told her using one word, “Diversions.” Diversions and friends and family have helped me survive – and that survival is probably my greatest accomplishment of all.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Blog tour

I’m very excited that my blog will be part of the Women on Writing (WOW) blog tour. That means another author, Stephanie Riseley, will stop by to chat about memoir writing and specifically, writing to heal and the road to finding representation and a publisher for your memoirs. So, please check in. She’ll be here on June 12.

Stephanie Riseley is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. Her book, Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality, tells the story of her husband dying in her arms and coming back to chat. In it she shares the deeply emotional and powerfully physical story of the continued relationship between her and her husband Dan after his sudden death. Exploring the ways in which love and forgiveness can transcend the boundaries of life and death, the book intends to change perceptions of the emotional and spiritual relationships two people can share. Problematic marriages and challenging relationships will take on positive new dimensions.

Besides being a writer, Stephanie has studied hypnosis since 1971. Over the years, she's helped hundreds of people get healthy, quit smoking, and make empowering lifestyle changes.

I’ll post more about this tour visit in the days to come.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


The birds are out by my fountain in force this morning. It's lovely to see them hopping in and out of the pond or walking on the large leaves beside the pond. It's not sunny yet, but it's going to be a warm day.

This was an uneventful week workwise, except I had lunch with someone I hadn't seen since 1971. Actually he was someone I dated a few times before Bob and I got serious about getting married. We only spent an hour together yet it was enough time to get down and dirty about some of the events in our lives. And, it was enough time to know that I probably don't want to go there again.

He picked me up outside my office and we drove to Beaches downtown Manhattan Beach. During the drive he told me he has had both hips replaced so he has trouble with balance and walking – especially upstairs. Beaches is an upstairs restaurant that he picked! And, besides his hips, he is hard of hearing, has arthritis in his fingers, has lupus that affects his skin – he showed me some of his skin lesions that won’t heal, and he recently had open chest surgery to remove an aneurism. I actually jokingly asked what else was wrong with him. Well, he really is an old man, I thought.

After we ordered we talked some more. He is married – he got married at age 48 – 10 years after Bob and I. He has two sons, both in their late 20s, and his wife is a social worker at a private school.

So, during lunch we kept it light though I told him about Paul – and he barely reacted. We talked about work and Hungary where he grew up and escaped from during the 1956 revolution, and a few people we both know. It really wasn’t interesting – until the way back. I said we shouldn’t wait to get together for another 30 to 40 years and he said next time he would tell me about all the shit in his life, and without missing a beat, he told me about his older son who has been a drug addict since age 13 who might be going into jail for 6 months, his young son who barely contacts his parents, and his wife who is an enabler. Yet, he did admit that he's never been a mother, so he can understand how a mother would not want to cut her drug addit son from her apron strings -- something I can definitely relate to. So, it appears that we have more in common than what first appeared. I told him more about Paul and about how Bob and I didn't see eye to eye about how to treat and care for him most of the time, yet my lunch date really didn’t want to listen to that. He wanted to tell me about his own stuff. He also said what he most wants to do is go away to Hungary – and I suspect without his wife. WOW – a lot more stuff than I bargained for. It just goes to show that everybody has a story if you dig in deep enough.

I wrote this little poem in response to my weekly Friday prompt. The subject was something I forgot:

Not Quite The Same

I forgot what he looked like.
After all, we hadn’t seen each other
in almost 40 years.
And when I saw him again
he was just as before.
Well, not quite. He’s aged
as we all have aged.

Yet there they were:
the same smooth round cheeks,
the same playful grin,
and the accent,
ah, the accent.
that’s what I fell for
so many years ago.

But we’ve both come a long way.
There’s no bridging those years,
those events,
those life stories.
I’ll have to remember what
he looks like today
if I ever see him again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We need more healing thoughts

Here are the "Nextdoors," our next door neighboors. They always give their names and say nextdoor afterward, so we've taken to calling them the Nextdoors.

That's the fun part. The not so fun part is that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last November and though she says her tumor marker has gone down from to 420 all the way from a starting point of 2600, she is having a hard time. She recently wrote: "I am on chemo again and I know it's working but it's a challenge. I have been a hermit in hiding, because that is my way of processing all of this....I have a hard time concentrating on my beautiful life, the positive things, like my beautiful children, a loving husband, a happy and healthy father...but the numbness in my hands and feet, the deep deep pain in my hip, and nausea tend to rear their heads and distract me. Then I get teary and all that I can do is take some stupid med that makes my life fuzzy. I am told to be peaceful, rest, and take in this chemo the best way that I can."

They've ageed to come over for dinner tomorrow night. She says she feels more comfortable eating in than going out, so hopefully, I'll be able to cook something for her that she'll enjoy.

So, please hold good healing thoughts that the tumor marker will continue to go down and she'll finally be able to have surgery to remove it completely.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is always a bittersweet day for me. I love celebrating with Ben - he'll be here in about an hour and he's going to hit some tennis balls with me - and I miss Paul so much more on this day. I don't miss Mother's Day with my mom -- it was always difficult and not enough with her. I wrote ths poem the first Mother's Day after she died.

Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day I don’t have to give
my mother the perfect not too flowery or gushy card.
For no matter what it would say
she doubted my love
unless I wrote, “Dearest Mom”
across the top. This Mother’s Day
I don’t have to comb the stores for
the perfect gift – hand lotion, a gold charm,
a silk scarf, a sweater. For whatever I bought,
she always said she didn’t need it
and could I change it for something else.
When she died so many of those gifts
came back to me. And I cherish them
because they were hers.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Remembering my dad

My dad was born on May 7, 1903. Here he is with baby Paul, the love of his life, in 1973 -- two years before he died (at the young age of 72). I'd like to believe they are up there somewhere together -- though I really don't.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We need healing thoughts

Two weeks ago my brother-in-law, R, got the results of a final test that showed he indeed had Stage 2 lung cancer, and he was told to come back to see a surgeon this week. Waiting two weeks seemed a little cavalier to me. After all cancer is nothing to take one’s time about. But he seemed okay with it until yesterday, when the surgeon told him that another tiny spot was found on his other lung. If this new spot is malignant, it means that his cancer is spreading even before he has surgery to remove it from the first location – his left lung and three lymph nodes associated with that lung.

Anyway, this all started several months ago. During a routine physical exam prior to knee replacement surgery his doctors discovered that he had a heart blockage that needed fixing before he could undergo the knee surgery. That surgery happened and once he was fully recovered, he went back to his doctor in preparation for knee surgery once more. And, that is when more tests revealed he had suspicious spots on his left lung. Again more tests – two showed nothing, the final one – a PET scan - showed the hot spots.

Right now we’re thinking good, healing thoughts that the spot on his right lung is benign and he can proceed to surgery to remove the cancer on his left. Otherwise all bets are off, and his cancer will be Stage 3 or greater.

Please think good healing thoughts with us.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beard or not?

I've never been an admirer of facial hair -- or hairy chests and backs for that matter. Maybe it's because my first husband was a very hairy guy and I wanted to get as far away from anything like him as possible when I made up my mind to leave that marriage.

My current husband, who when shaved has wonderfully soft and smooth skin, has grown a beard a couple of times during our 42 years together. The first time -- back in the late 70s -- it looked sparce and straggly, and in my biased estimation pretty ugly. This last time was two weeks ago. And, he's received a lot of kudos about how good it looks -- not from me of course. I don't like how it feels and I personally think it makes him look a lot older. And, I can't see anything attractive about a lot of white hair stubble growing on someone's face.

So you be the judge -- prebreard and two weeks growth:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Family photos

Ben's girlfriend took these photos while we were recently having dinner at PF Chang's.