Marianne Brown, Writer Sharing What Matters in My World

Just Sayin'

Working Woman

I’ve a new hobby–submitting writing pieces to magazines. I’ve done five of them in the past few weeks. I do not expect any of them to be accepted for publication, and that’s okay. I’m enjoying the work and don’t expect to make a living at it.  I’m too old to take it seriously, since I could be gone tomorrow. Additionally, I am well aware I have lost a great deal of my intellectual abilities. Reading over work I did several years ago confirms that. I was a much better writer then. Sigh.

As we grow older we are surprised at some of the changes in ourselves, at least I have been.  I expected wrinkles, gray hair, hearing loss, cataracts, stiff joints and a general slowing down Nobody told me I would lose my mind!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. I fear Iam not that good, thus I call it a hobby rather than a career First of all, I am way too old to take anyting I do with an eye to the future. Second, I have been writing for about twenty years and recently pulled up some of my older pieces. I was much more clear headed and articulate a few years ago. I’ve suspected for some time I’ve lost a great deal of the talent and intelligence I enjoyed at a younger age.

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Curiosity’s a Curse

 

I’ve enjoyed having a highly developed sense of curiosity all my life (some might call it nosiness.) But, right now I wonder why!

To explain, I have to start with the fact I’ve been writing for some twenty-five years, mostly memoir and nostalgia pieces. Writing memoir brought up questions, which led to phone calls, letters and notes to friends and relatives, which led to renewed acquaintances, which led to ongoing contacts, questions about mutual acquaintances, internet searches, etc. etc. Add to that the fact I am a bit of a pack rat and a sentimentalist to boot. So of course, I never threw away any of the resulting paper (I started before Facebook.)

I moved from Washington State to Nevada in 2014, bringing only what I could move by car. I left a four drawer file cabinet, storage boxes and plastic boxes full of greeting cards, letters etc. I had received. I had forgotten how much! Meantime I resumed writing, collecting people and their missives, and creating more files in my new location.

Last week, my daughter retrieved my things from the Washington storage. I have been busy going through all the “stuff” ever since.

Oh, my!! Days of sorting, combining “stuff” from the two state stockpiles have barely made a discernable dent in the resultant mess scattered about three rooms and the garage. Imagine duplicate files on everything from hiking and camping with references, maps, books, flyers; a recipe collection gathered from magazines, friends, the internet;  the files for writing two books of memoir at the same time, files on dozens of essays started, in process, finished, submitted for publication; files containing my fervent but unstructured attempts at poetry (about which I know nothing!); genealogy files (a separate enterprise from memoir); correspondence with friends, some that goes back sixty or more years (I’ve never been able to throw away even the most generic greeting card); the usual files for utilities, rent, other bills, etc. that I am sure I must keep forever or some divine entity will smite me over the head with the life sustaining need for the very one I threw out last week.

I started out confidently expecting to create three efficient areas of the stuff as I sorted it: one area to be discarded, a second to be filed and a third requiring action. Guess which lonely area suffers from an anemic lack of stuff? Yeah, the discard one. There is nothing there except a crumpled and stained magazine article about George Foreman and his grills. Since I own one of the grills I actually felt I could throw the article away.

Progress!

Back to curiosity: probably 75% of the files in question were created by my curiosity about one subject or another. Once I investigated and obtained hard copies of information on whatever subject had caught my interest I had to keep them. Right now, I really wish I had never been curious about anything, because the resultant “stuff” owns me; I do not own it!

I’m really tired of dealing with stuff and thinking about stuff and writing about stuff. I’m going to sign off and do something else to wind down so I can relax enough to go to sleep.

“Tomorrow is another day” and hopefully I will tackle my project with clearer purpose and renewed determination to get rid of some of the clutter in my files and my mind!

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Rant of the Day – Missing Good Produce

The list of fruits/vegetables I no longer buy gets longer every year. They are raised to benefit the grower/shipper and the consumer suffers as a result. Bred more and more with thick skins so they won’t bruise in shipping: bananas, peppers, avocados, even green onions have a tough, thick outer skin hard to slice. It peels off and leaves you with half what you thought you were getting. Picked-green stone fruits peaches, nectarines, plums hard as apples. They never ripen, no juice, texture like sponges; and we already know what happened to tomatoes and strawberries. Lately, I find even lettuces yield only half their size by the time you remove the tough outer leaves. Sadly, there are shoppers who have never had a peach or a melon that tastes the way they are supposed to, or who have never had a small, juicy, vine-ripened strawberry. I expect some shoppers accept and buy the produce the way it is not knowing what they are missing. The growers and shippers get their money so they don’t care how much the consumer and/or the produce manager throws away. If we keep buying it they will never have to make changes. So, for me, I no longer get to enjoy many of the items I used to love from the produce department.

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I haven’t posted for a long time. Gave it up because I was so lost trying to use my blog. I felt like the tutorials in WordPress Blogging 101 assumed we (I) knew much more than I did. I felt too old and too slow to understand widgets, and other stuff I no longer remember that confused me. I’ve decided to try again in spite of my “FOFT”–fear of failing technology!  I’ll  just stick to the basics until I feel brave enough to try more. In the meantime, I’m hoping some kind folks with much more knowledge than I will be willing to help.

This page looks a lot different than from what I remember. There is a list of things on the right side under the heading Post Settings. It looks similar to what I remember being on the left side. I think I am okay with categories. I don’t know what Tags are.

What are Pingbacks & Trackbacks?

I don’t see how to get to the advice page I remember where questions were asked and posts were entered providing answers. I don’t see a link to Blogging 101, or doesn’t it exist any more? If still available where do I sign up?

Why is there a blue square that says “Get current location?” Is it necessary for WordPress to know my location?

Thanks very much for any help!

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Day Eleven: make a Prompt Personal

Always something there to remind me:   “Melody of Love” was a top hit when I was a teenager. My Dad bought  the record for me and then had to endure my playing it over and over and over while I sat on the front porch dreaming about my boyfriend. Chuckie would hold me in his arms on that porch after the Friday night movies. In 2 1/2 years of going steady we kissed only once. Years later he would tell me it was because he was afraid of my Dad. At the time I didn’t understand. Sometimes I wished he would kiss me but  believed girls should accept the boy’s leadership. My girlfriend would often ask “Has he kissed you yet?” I started to feel there was something wrong with me. I. tried to be  content with holding hands and cuddling while I waited for the kissing to begin. It never really did..I loved him with all the fervor my teen-aged heart could stand to feel. The words from the song… “Hold me in your arms, Dear. Dream with me.” were my mantra. Playing the record when we were apart allowed me to  dream for hours about cuddling and kissing on the front porch. Sixty years later the sweet sound of Billy Vaughn’s saxophone playing transports me back to those days of innocence.

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Day Five: Love Your Theme

As the instructions note, it is easy to get lost in the world of themes, and I did. I am afraid this world of blogging and all the options are too much for me! I do not have the time or the ability to concentrate in order to take advantage of all the choices. I shall stick to my theme and my simple blog until I get a lot smarter about all this!  I tried to do some customizing and was not successful. I’m sure it’s easy if you know what you’re doing, but I do not. One question: Is it possible to change the color of one line of type? My blog has the tag “Just Sayin'” in white–very hard to see. I would like it to be bolder. I can’t figure out how to do that. Thanks for suggestions/advice.

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Day Four: Identify Your Audience

We’ll have these moments to remember:

Strapless formals over stiff crinolines, sock hops, duck tail haircuts, turned down bobby socks and turned up collars,one piece bathing suits, singing on the school bus, band practice, study hall, drive-in movies, going steady, Eddie Fisher, Pat Boone, Elvis, Lassie. Dad working to buy a house, a car, and pink flamingos for the yard. Mom in the kitchen in an apron canning tomatoes, or out in the back hanging up the wash. Open windows and unlocked doors. Screens slamming. Being called on to help with the ironing, set the table, shovel the sidewalks, push the lawn mower, rake the leaves and pile them up to burn for wienie roasts. Reciting the pledge to One Country Under God. The Nativity Set on the church lawn at Christmas.

Saying damn or hell got you in big trouble. Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were good guys at the Friday night double feature. Music came over the radio, or on 78 or 45 speed records. Our telephones sat on the desk or hung on the wall. Calls were made by responding to the operator’s request for “number,please” or dialing with your finger. We’d never heard of the Cloud,  erectile dysfunction, or terrorism. Sanitary supplies and birth control devices were never seen or talked about, especially not in print ads or tv commercials. New babies appeared without explanation. It was a safe and happy world.

The good old days of the 1950s. I lived them and loved them. I cheer-lead and danced and laughed my ass off. Good grades were important and being a “brain” was admirable. I went to Sunday School and church. I hung out with friends after school and football games, eating french fries and drinking cherry cokes. In summer we drove up to the hamburger stand and ordered burgers and malts to be delivered on a  tray that hooked over the car window. There were fairs and carnivals and parades, park dances, and swimming lessons. In winter there was ice-skating on the river, sledding down snow covered hills, screaming ourselves hoarse at basketball games. The winter band concert, the school production of South Pacific.

And there was the darkness and despair. There was anxiety, grief, terror and rage. Nobody knew, or if they did they weren’t acknowledging what went on.  Everybody minded their own business. Child abuse, spousal abuse, sex abuse, mental illness, dysfunction of any kind were secrets. You didn’t talk about them to your friends or boyfriends or relatives. Kids had to take whatever happened without complaint. You figured it was your own fault for being bad. The death of a loved one was endured and you went on as though nothing had changed.  You vowed to keep your family together no matter what.You found a way to do the impossible. You lied to teachers, doctors, police officers, child welfare workers about how great everything was. They pretended to believe you.

That is the gist of my story. Each family member has their own truth. Who’s to say which is reality? Mine is mine; yours is yours.

I believe the secrets are sicknesses, to be brought out into the light of day so they can be healed. I believe there are many children of the 1950’s whose experiences mirrored my own. I’d like to share with them. I’d like them to share with me. Together we can tell the truth behind the myths told by The Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best. The truth will set all of us free. We can acknowledge our humanity, the same humanity with the same conflicts and struggles that has existed forever. We can talk about being real. We can tell the world that it’s okay, and will be okay. We can tell ourselves that we survived and be proud. We can preach love and forgiveness and tolerance. We can forgive the world for not being perfect, and ourselves as well.

The house I lived in during my high school days

The house I lived in during my high school days. Picture taken in 2012.

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Day Three: Say Hello to the Neighbors

Assignment, Blogging 101: Follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs.

Okay, it’s dawning on me. Blogging isn’t nearly as much about what I write as it is about sharing what others are writing. I got so lost in reading the rest of you the whole afternoon passed before I knew it. I have read poetry, short stories, observations on life, love, death, etc. I have read stuff so professional and deep I thought “I’ll never be anywhere this good.” I read whimsy. I read of grief, nostalgia, heartbreak. In short, I have spent the past several hours living life in all its confused, profound, petty and glorious highs and lows.

Thank you, fellow bloggers for your wise, witty, and fearless sharing.

I am exhilarated–and intimidated.

I am inspired–and intimidated.

I am scared and intimidated.

But I’m going to go ahead and write, damn it!!

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Day Two: Take Control of Your Title and Tagline

Changed my title. This is probably far from the final but will do for now. My imagination is just not working today!

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