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What better topic for my first post in my renewed determination to blog regularly. I tend to be a private person, sometimes acting more as an information-gatherer than a conversationalist, so when in the company of friends I blurt out an unknown fact from my past, I get looks that say, “Really? I never knew that about you.” What things have you already figured out and which ones surprise you?

  1. I was a dietary cook in a retirement center in Cincinnati for a couple of years. I grew up learning to cook from the time I was old enough to stand on a kitchen chair to reach the counter to watch one or both of my parents doing everything from rolling dough to shelling beans, preparing everything from scratch. When I had the opportunity to take the dietary classes required to pursue a career as a cook, I jumped at the chance. This was not a glamorous job as one imagines from watching television cooking shows, mostly strenuous and exhausting work rushing around a large commercial kitchen eight hours a day, beginning at 6 a.m. But I enjoyed the interaction with the residents aged anywhere from sixty-five to ninety-five. Little did I know that some of those colorful characters would provide future book fodder for me.
  2. Later, I worked as a Personal Care Attendant with the elderly and handicapped. I interrupted my work as a bookkeeper to start my own business providing the assistance for elderly people. A new movement had started in Arizona, and around the country, to enable people to stay in their homes and avoid nursing homes by having someone come in to help them with everything from grocery shopping to shower assistance. These services were more for the unfortunate ones who did not have local family or were on their own. I took training at Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL) where I met a woman who continues to be my oldest friend in Arizona. Yes, that’s you, Sulon. Having grown up with grandparents living in our home, I had developed an empathetic attitude, or maybe a keener realization that all of us will find ourselves in this stage of life eventually—it’s the condition of our bodies that will vary. Caring for others is not only satisfying, but provided the opportunity to form several close relationships with some of the most interesting characters I have ever meet. When you meet a person who has lived close to a century, stop, and listen to their stories. Even non-writers benefit from their broad perspectives.
  3. I sang in my high school Glee Club. As a young girl, I had the idea I would be a singer (didn’t everyone?). Unfortunately, I had terrible stage fright that I still cannot overcome. Singing in a group rather than alone made public appearances easier. At the time I belonged to the Glee Club, there was a geek stigma attached to it and I ended up leaving to share more self-destructive pastimes with my peers. Funny how much street cred  Glee Clubs have acquired since then. And a television show! I never followed that path, but at least I know I’m an alto. I know how to sing from the gut rather than the throat. And I know when to take a breath during a song.  Great for my car performances.
  4. I’m a fool for a man who can play Chopin on the piano for me. As a tween and into my late teen years, I used to listen to the classical radio station while I fell asleep. There is something bordering on the spiritual about a classical composition. The purity of the sounds of each instrument both isolated and blended at the same time. Years later, I developed a greater appreciation for a well-played solo piano piece for its resonance and tonal quality, and its ability to send me into a meditative state. Contemplative, recuperative, inspirational, and non-intrusive. Back in the days of private duty work, I worked for a piano teacher recovering from a long illness who said she needed to play every day to keep in practice. I sat next to her and her grand piano, listening while she played her favorite composer, Chopin and his mazurkas. I can’t recall our conversations, but I retain the sensory memory of her performances and their impact on me. Piano isn’t the only instrument I enjoy, but it’s the most powerful. Sadly, seeing a piano in someone’s home does not mean they play, or have played in years, dashing my hopes of getting another private concert. So someone who plays the piano, and plays it often and exquisitely—well there’s nothing hotter.
  5. I think I’m hilarious and cannot understand why no one else does. I think I know how this idea got started. It stemmed from a couple of incidents with a high school friend. She and I had known each other from grade school, and while we both had brown hair, she has hazel eyes and I have brown eyes. She was athletic and short with a square face; I was a tall and skinny bookworm with an oval face. Regardless, we ran into people who asked us if we were twins. We found this so ridiculous that we started saying yes to serve them right. Foolishly, they seemed more satisfied with a lie over the truth. Could it have been our mannerisms and speech patterns? We never knew, but I found spinning outrageousness tales to be amusing, more to myself than to others, I guess. It’s the private joke you laugh at that no one else understands. The humor of that foot-in-the-mouth frivolity that stuns, waiting to see if the other person knows you’re putting them on. Or saying something outrageously ignorant, and expecting the other person to give me that knowing look. The down side is that some people never get that I’m having them on. I’m sure I’ve insulted more people than I can imagine. That in itself is funny when you think of how many times we look back at a situation and wish we had something witty or cutting to say. In the end, I just tell them that only children know how to make their own fun.

To be continued…

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On June 21st at 2:00 pm, I will be signing my book, Here Lies Buried, at the Dog Eared Pages Used Book Store in Phoenix, Arizona.

Along with Robert Serocki, Jr, I will be joined by Tara Majuta, Auburn McCanta, and Steven Allen Fleischmann.

Dog-Eared Pages Used Books 

16428 N. 32nd Street 

Phoenix, Arizona 85032 

Store Phone 602-283-5423 

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