When You Lose Your Diamond.

Twenty years ago I sat in front of an annoying fellow in pathophysiology class. He was a stereotypical class clown, always whispering jokes in my ear while the professor lectured, and it became his daily mission to make me laugh at the most inopportune moments of the lesson.

Unlike Mr. Wisecrack, I was a no-nonsense kind of student who took meticulous notes and his whimsical commentaries during lectures were not the least bit appreciated. In fact, I found the guy infuriating since his stupid jokes did make me laugh, or rather snort, aloud in class like an idiot. And who got in trouble for these delightful outbursts? Me.

So when Sir Smarty-pants tapped me on the shoulder one day and asked me to go out with him on a date, I gave him a snappy and much deserved ‘no.’ He’d caused me enough trouble in class with his silliness and the last thing I needed was more distraction from him. Besides, he was probably just joking about the date anyway – you never knew with a comedian like that. Except that he wasn’t joking and was suddenly as serious as the myocardial infarction we just covered.

When he insisted again despite my refusal, I told him the only way I’d agree to a date was if he could take me somewhere I’d never been before. There wasn’t a restaurant, theater, or bowling alley in Central Arkansas I hadn’t set foot in. The man had no chance.

He rubbed his chin in contemplation. “Hmm… I’ve got it! I’ll take you ice skating. Bet you’ve never done that before,” he popped, raising an eyebrow.

What the Mr. Suave didn’t know was that I grew up ice skating from the age of 3 at the only ice rink in Arkansas. When I looked over my shoulder to explain to him that he’d lost the bet, his cocky expression greeted me and a devious plan birthed into my mind.

“Nope, never done that before,” I lied.

He smiled in victory. “Don’t worry, I’ve been a time or two. I’ll hold your hand so you don’t fall.”

Oh, you do that.

When we arrived at the rink that Saturday, I didn’t bring my own skates. Instead, I donned the rentals like a total amateur.

After we stepped onto the ice, I put on an Oscar-worthy performance of near-miss falls that had him “saving” me left and right from potential E.R. visits. Oh yes! Mr. Don’t-Worry was getting his paybacks for all the trouble in class he’d caused me.

“Look, watch me. Like this,” he said, demonstrating how to glide gracefully without flailing ones arms about like a hummingbird on crack.

“Like this?” I returned, holding my arms steady, pretending to mimic what he was “teaching” me.

“Yes, like that!” he said proudly, no doubt patting himself on the back.

“I want to skate backward. Can you show me that?” I suggested.

“Uh, well.. I can’t do that,” he confessed.

“Aww. Come on. You said you’ve done this before!”

“Not that much.”

“Well, I’m gonna try,” I announced.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea. You nearly broke a hip back there,” he said, looking concerned.

I swiveled myself around and began gliding backward, hummingbird arms and all. “Look at me! I’m going the wrong way!” I teased.

I began skating at a faster pace.

“Slow down. You’re gonna fall,” he warned.

I wobbled and swung my arms in circles again.

“Shit,” he complained, trying to catch up to “save” me.

Just before he could get his heroic hands on me, I took off like a banshee with back cross-overs, followed by a toe-loop, and ended my new-found abilities with a miraculous scratch spin.

The look on his face was something forever etched into my brain. Mouth agape, eyes as big as dinner plates, and for the first time ever… the man was speechless.

But the date didn’t stop his ridiculous humor or my snorting responses. No, it turned into more laughter which morphed into conversation and, somehow, as I got to know the annoying fellow who sat behind me in class, I fell in love with the doofus. Oops.

Eighteen years ago that hilarious man gave me a special rock of carbon from the Earth’s mantel and asked me to be his wife.

Seventeen years ago he put that rock on my finger to symbolize the strength of our love and commitment to one another.

One month ago, that rock disappeared from it’s prongs and left me distraught as I realized I’d spent the entire day doing yard work and planting flowers. My rock was buried who knows where in my backyard!

After one month of sifting through mounds of dirt, leaves, and grass, I gave up and accepted that the special rock that my annoying comedian had given me was lost forever.

One hour ago, my daughter was looking for some change in the bottom of my purse and began shrilling,”Mom! Mom! Mom! I found it!”

In my PURSE! It was with me the WHOLE time!

When you lose your diamond and find it, it’s like seeing it for the first time all over again.

 

 

 

 

Conversations With a Teen Daughter

15yo: Working on the house so you’ll have a surprise when you come home.

Me:  Oh, I love surprises!

15yo:  It’s part of Operation Sssss.

Me:  What’s “Operation Sssss?”

15yo:  It’s the plan my sisters and I created as secret siblings.

Me:  Can you be more specific?

15yo:  We’re the Scheme Team.

Me:  Yeah, I get that. What are you girls up to?

15yo:  A pet.

Me:  We have 5 pets already. A dog, guinea pigs, fish. What kind of pet are you wanting?

15yo:  We’re trying to convince Dad to let us get a Python.

Me:  A PYTHON? Have you lost your minds?

15yo:  Ball pythons are very friendly and easy to care for. You only feed them once a week. The males don’t get very big.

Me:  What do you feed them?

15yo:  Rats.

Me:  This just went from bad to worse.

15yo:  They’re not live rats. They’re frozen.

Me:   And just where do you plan to store these frozen, dead rodents?

15yo:  Duh, Mom. In the freezer.

Me:  Next to our food? Gross! No, no… just NO!

15yo:  Don’t worry. I’ve already priced small freezers. We can keep them in a separate freezer in the garage. I found one for $150 at Best Buy online. What a deal? Huh?

Me:  How do you plan to pay for this new freezer?

15yo:  Spot cleaning a house.

Me:  Whose house?

15yo:  Ours.

Me:   I’m not paying you $150 to clean your rooms and do the dishes!

15yo:  Not just the dishes and our rooms. It’s a surprise.

Me:  [after arriving home from work] Wow! The kitchen looks fantastic!

15yo:  Look. We cleaned every room in the house. [takes me on a tour]

Me:  You organized my shoes by color?

15yo:  Yep. And your books are all organized and alphabetized by author on the shelves now too.

Me:  [writes check for $150] How much is this snake?

15yo:  Depends on the type of Ball Python. There are hybrids of all kinds. They’re so pretty. [pulls out phone to show examples]

Me:  [shivers] Well, best of luck to you. Dad is terrified of turtles. I seriously doubt he’d allow a snake in the house.

15yo:   No worries. I alphabetically organized all his movies and X-box games.

Me:  You sound confident.

15yo:   Yep. Gonna name him “Monty.”

 

Conversations With a Teen Daughter

Me:    Do you want anything?

Her:   No. The food is so unhealthy here.

Me:     It’s fast food. We’re in a hurry. Get a salad or something.

Her:    Um… I’ll have a Triple Chocolate Sonic Master Blast.

Me:     *stares in disbelief*

Her:    What?! If I’m gonna eat bad food, might as well go all out.

Me:     Go all out?

Her:    You know, get the worst thing on the menu.

Me:      And that’s the worst?

Her:     Yep. Even sounds dangerous. I’m living on the edge.

 

The Honorable Ones

Today, I received my first review of The Honorable Ones manuscript. Since I’m an unpublished author trying to land a literary agent, I felt submitting the manuscript for possible review might help to get some unbiased, constructive feedback.

The manner in which I submitted the manuscript gave no guarantees that it would even be read, but I liked this concept of uncertainty. Why? If the novel’s hook wasn’t enticing to a reviewer, then it certainly needed work before pitching it to an agent. Further, the manuscript had no book cover, so I knew if it sat untouched by a reviewer then I needed a stronger pitch. I was delighted to find the manuscript was picked up by a reviewer and that it received a 5-star rating.

Here’s what the reviewer had to say about it:

5 stars! Reviewed By Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer.” The Honorable Ones is a suspenseful romance by Snow Brooks. Caleb Capossi, second-in-command in the Knights of the Paladin, wonders why Vince, the Capo dei Capi, wants him dead. When his wife, Abby, is attacked on Vince’s orders, Caleb goes into hiding after faking his own death to plan revenge. Abby passes her husband’s staged murder scene and has a mental breakdown, while using a method known as “boxing” to forget her husband’s existence. Caleb searches deep into the Paladin’s organization with the help of Matisse, another Paladin member to unearth Vince’s motives, but it’s more complex than he imagined and difficult to distinguish friends from foes. Nevertheless, that’s easier than trying to unblock Abby’s memory and Caleb would rather die than live without his love.

Although The Honorable Ones falls under the category suspenseful romance, it also has its fair share of mystery and murders that give the engaging drama a subtle mafia flair. Caleb is handsome, strong, ruthless when necessary, and deeply loves his wife. His determination to regain Abby’s love is admirable, but there were times when I was irritated by Abby’s self-centered attitude and how she dealt with problems. The plot is very good and I particularly liked how the Knights of the Paladin hierarchy is structured. Snow Brooks’ writing is well paced and creative. She constantly leaves twists when you think you’ve got a part figured out. The Honorable Ones is a lovely book worth reading.

 

Mother’s Day

Mom1

It’s been 22 years since I lost my Mom. A couple weeks before she died we had a frank conversation about life and death. She was diagnosed with breast cancer so we both knew that death was a possibility, though no one expected her to die so suddenly.

I told her I was terrified at the thought of living without her, that she was my best confidant, and I would be lost without her.

She assured me, “If something happens to me, you’ll be fine. You’ll have a family of your own someday and find happiness in them. So don’t worry.”

Well, I was right. Losing her was devastating. But she was right also. I survived the grief and my family has brought me so much joy.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! Love you!

Three Quote Challenge: Day Two

For Day Two I have chosen:

whitman

This is great advice for everyone, especially young adults who are deciding on a college major or career path. Most of us spend the majority of our lives working in a field we choose as young adults. For this reason, I believe that deciding on a career that gives you joy is crucial.

As a family nurse practitioner, I’ve enjoyed my job in healthcare for 18 years. To me, there’s nothing that brings greater pleasure than helping others.

I often have people ask me, “Why didn’t you work as an artist instead of a nurse?” or “Why didn’t you go into music? You’re so talented.” The truth is I would’ve enjoyed jobs in a number of fields and I considered them all. Had my mother not passed away suddenly when I was 18, I probably wouldn’t have considered a path in nursing.

The day of her death, I walked into the kitchen, overcome with shock and grief. There, on the wall, I noticed a plaque of her favorite phrase When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In that moment, I wanted to smash the plaque to smithereens. How could any good possibly come from such a horrible event?

When I returned to college a couple weeks after her death, I found myself reading medical journals trying to find answers to why my mother had died so unexpectedly. Even the doctors couldn’t explain it. I had an extreme desire to understand exactly what had happened and I developed a thirst for medical knowledge as a result. So, I read… constantly. That semester, I changed my major to nursing and it was the best decision I ever made.

In each of my patients I see my own mother, my own family. I feel their pain and have tremendous empathy for their suffering, but also their joy. For me, each life I save and patient I help just makes more lemonade out of that lemon.

And besides, who ever said I couldn’t be a nurse and an artist, composer, or author? I enjoy them all. So here’s to Walt Whitman – do anything, but let it produce joy!

My three nominated bloggers for today are:

Abigail

Stella

Liz

 

Three Quote Challenge

Millie Thom, author of the Sons of Kings trilogy, has nominated me for the Three Quotes Challenge and I do love a good challenge so here goes…

The rules are quite simple:

  1. Post on 3 consecutive days
  2. Pick 1 or 3 quotes per day
  3. Challenge 3 different bloggers per day
  4. Thank the blogger who nominated you

Since this is my first challenge and I’m new to blogging, I’ll keep it simple and post 1 quote per day. For Day One I have chosen Emily Brontë:

Bronte

I was 16 years of age the first time I read Wuthering Heights and I distinctly recall getting goosebumps after reading that passage. What a profound proclamation of soul-bound love! The idea of a soulmate was novel to me then, but it struck me as a beautiful concept even if it only existed in literature.

Now as a writer, I interpret the statement as more esoteric than simply a statement of romantic love. As an author I often create characters that resemble nothing of myself, yet the characters are no less a creation of my own imagination. In that sense, they are a part of me. Yes, even the nasty antagonists.

I often wonder if this quote was as much a reflection of the inseparable bond Brontë felt toward Heathcliff as her own creation. If you are a writer, do you feel this connection with your characters as if they are an extension of your own being? Even if they are malignant villains? If not, why?

I pose the same question for songwriters, composers, and artists. Do you feel your musical or artistic creations are a connected extension of yourself?

My three nominated bloggers are:

Stan Stewart

LA Edwards

Katy Nika Raet

Thank you Millie Thom! I’m enjoying the challenge!