Monday, August 29, 2016

A LITTLE MORE WHICH WAY HOME THAT WILL PROBABLY BE DIFFERENT EVERY TIME YOU LOOK AT IT BECAUSE I ALWAYS SEEK THE PERFECT WORD

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Yesterday I read an article about William Styron and how he wrote The Confessions of Nat Turner, a beautiful though controversial book. He wrote in pencil on a pad of paper, six hundred words a day. Then he gave the paper to his wife, Rose, to type. He seldom revised because he sought the right word in every sentence he scribbled out.

I want the perfect word every time I write. Sometimes I can't find it. But you will find that when I publish a bit of what I've written, if you read it again in a couple of days or a couple of hours, it will probably be different. It's not that I change the plot. I change the words because I want the exact word. Every word.

I appreciate your kind comments on my writing, but I appreciate your suggestions, too. I take them seriously. Something that I don't want to change when you suggest it might change in a month or a year.

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Janie


Prologue

You've heard people say their lives changed overnight, right? They woke up and heard the lottery numbers and knew they were millionaires. They fell in love at first sight. 

More often, the change is bad because one day everything is fine, and the next? 

It is all fucked up. 

I read once that Marie Antoinette's hair turned white overnight in jail while she awaited the loss of her head. 

What people don't think about is that the overnight device is a saying. Nothing but a cliché. It hardly ever takes that long: eight hours, twelve hours, or however you define overnight, for a life to be transformed. Most of the time, it happens in one or two seconds.

I bet Marie's hair betrayed her during a few seconds of a nightmare when she saw the guillotine's blade slice through her own milky neck.

How many seconds does it take to purchase that lottery ticket or to decide to stop someplace for ice cream? These decisions may be part of a change that's a long time in the making, but when the hair whitening attacks, it happens in a flash. 

And the flash of the blade in the sunlight can be so bright it nearly blinds you. 

Chapter One

Clue

The yellow piece of paper on the windshield of Aggie's black minivan stood out like a beacon in the dusky evening light as she left the urgent care center. She waddled along with a purse and diaper bag slung behind her right shoulder, Ruth Ann perched on her right hip, and a still sobbing Elliot hanging on for dear life to her left hand.

She shook free of El's sweaty grasp so she could pull the paper out from under the wiper and unfold it. "ASSHOLE" it said, printed neatly in red letters on a scrap torn from a legal pad.

"Mom!" Elliot pawed at her, as Ruth Ann's head drooped onto Aggie's shoulder. Aggie stood rooted to the asphalt next to the car so she could check out the area. What had she done this time?

White painted lines of parking spaces, empty now, spread out across the parking lot like whitecaps on the ocean. White, white, white, except around her car, where she now saw yellow lines. Two yellow lines on each side of the van and an arrow underneath it that marked the route to exit the lot. The only route between the parking spaces.

Drivers must have woven around her van for hours before the lot cleared out. Tire tracks in the mud provided evidence that they ran her blockade by driving off the asphalt and into the landscaped border along the sidewalk. Flowers and juvenile trees had been flattened.

Aggie pictured the line of vehicles and hated herself. The waiting cars stretched for miles. An imaginary driver, his face contorted in righteous indignation, jumped out of his Volvo with a legal pad in his left hand and a red pen in his right hand. Angry lawyer. Furious lawyer. Late for an appointment, and it was all her fault. He held the pen in the air, a sword that dripped bloody ink, chose the perfect word, wrote it, and jammed the note in its place.

Then sedans, sports cars, and pickup trucks careened over the sidewalk and curb as pedestrians dragged their terrified children out of the way. Jam-packed cars held drivers and passengers drawn as if cartoons. "ASSHOLE" filled every balloon above their mouths because they all knew what she was. Not one could be fooled into thinking she might be a polite and pleasant person who would never park in the EXIT lane on purpose.

"I am an asshole." She was the only person who heard herself. El stood right next to her, but couldn't hear a word over his own cries, the kind of cries that came out of his mouth when he wasn't hurt anymore but still wanted to make noise.


That's it for now. As I wrote, a migraine danced before my eyes. I don't know if I'll be here tomorrow. At least I have migraine meds now. Thank you, Dr. Lacroix.


Friday, August 26, 2016

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: DIVORCE BITES THE BIG ONE

Michael D'Agostino of A Life Examined hosts a bloghop called Flashback Friday––a time of the month when you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn't get enough attention, or that you're really proud of, or you think is still relevant, etc. 




If you'd like to join us, Flashback Friday occurs on the last Friday of every month.

My Flashback Friday post for August is titled Divorce Bites The Big One, so I guess you know what I was up to when I published it on February 15, 2010 (my third month of blogging). The post has had fourteen page views and zero comments. I want to re-publish it because I like my idea for a "divorce surrogate."



Gentle Readers,

Today I had an "Oh My God I'm getting divorced and will it ever end" day.

Divorce, unless you've been married two minutes and have no community property, drags on forever.

The lawyer can't find my affidavit of income and expenses and I have to do another one. Why wasn't the first one filed months ago, and why oh why didn't I make a copy of it?

I still don't have my computer and some of the information I need for the affidavit is on the computer.

The lawyer has used up the entire retainer and already wants another $432 and my husband, who said he would pay my legal expenses, is balking at giving up more of his vast fortune. The richest people are the cheapest.

The lawyer also wants copies of all my medical records, so I have to write to all my doctors giving them permission to give the copies to the lawyer, then wait for them to tell me how much the copies cost so I can pay them and then they will send the copies to the lawyer.

I have already spent a small fortune copying documents for this damned stupid moronic divorce. It's so easy for my husband. He can make all the freaking copies he wants for free.

So, I have come up with a solution to my problems: Men used to hire substitutes to serve in the military for them. I want a sub to go through the rest of the divorce for me. I will hire her to deal with everything that needs doing, she can be miserable and cry for me, she can fight over money, and I will just relax.

Don't you think that's a good idea?

In the middle of my misery today, and oh by the way I did get the house super clean even though I had to stop from time to time to cry, I remembered something that happened a couple of weeks ago that made me laugh.

We couldn't let our dogs out in the fenced in back yard because one of the little devils, who weighs 80 pounds, broke one of the barriers that keep the dogs from going under the deck, then under the house, and trotting out to freedom.

So the dogs who are not trustworthy, and that's most of them, had to be walked around the front yard on a lead or be chained in the back yard. The 80 pounder who started all the trouble would not poop when he was chained or on the lead.

After a couple of days, obviously he was getting pretty desperate. My favorite younger man left his bedroom door open and Mr. 80 Pounds sneaked into the bedroom, hid behind the door, and took a gigantic dump.

I mean, really, you can imagine the poop that would come out of a dog that big who hadn't gone for a couple of days. I had to use the pooper scooper to clean it up.

Ah, well, that's life with dogs and divorce. Somebody's always takin' a shit on ya.

We used to have a blind dog. When we took him for a walk on a lead, which he handled very well in spite of not knowing where he was going, he did the most hilarious thing. When my husband would bend down to tie his shoe, the dog would pee on him - just the same as if he were a stop sign post.

I guess my husband didn't think it was as funny as I did. Toughski shitski, as the Russians say.

Tomorrow I might write about a famous Olympic dumper, and may God grant that my computer will be back with me.

Oh, and I thought of something I forgot to tell you about the L word yesterday.

In the romantic tradition, it was believed that love entered through the eyes. Thus the saying Love at first sight.

I have only experienced love at first sight with my children, my dogs and my favorite younger man's dogs.

Love,

Dumped First Wife

Tomorrow is another day, Miss Scarlet!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MOVIE WEEKEND: RICKI AND THE FLASH

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today's movie wasn't a blockbuster at the box office and it didn't garner another Academy Award nomination for its star, Meryl Streep, but I love it. It's something different for Meryl. She's the lead singer in a not-very-successful band called Ricki and The Flash (2015, PG-13, Available On DVD).


Once upon a time, a woman named Linda was married to a man named Pete (Kevin Kline). They had three children. But Linda left her family so she could live her rock and roll dream. She becomes Ricki, who as an older woman has never achieved stardom, but Ricki and The Flash are the house band at a small bar. Ricki also works as a cashier at a Whole Foods-type store. Her band mate, Greg (Rick Springfield), is her lover. She's estranged from her now-adult children.

Then Pete calls Ricki and asks her to visit because their daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer, who is Meryl Streep's daughter and a successful actress in her own right) has suffered a crisis. Pete's wife Maureen (Audra McDonald, a singer of great fame on Broadway who does not sing in this movie) has been a devoted step-mother, but she's out of town.

Ricki reluctantly returns for an uncomfortable reunion with her children. She connects with Julie, but Ricki's sons openly resent her and look down on her. Maureen returns and makes it clear that Ricki is not needed nor wanted.

Can this disparate group of people form a family of some sort?

I can't say that Jonathan Demme's direction of this movie is brilliant, nor is Diablo Cody's writing a revelation. I like the general plot, although it's rather predictable.

It's Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer who make the movie worth watching. Gummer's Julie is heartbroken. One look at her face shows it. The relationship that develops between Ricki and Julie helps Julie "walk on." Streep has a beautiful voice, though some wouldn't agree with me after Mama Mia!, but she proved it long ago in Postcards From the Edge. In Ricki and The Flash, Streep speaks and sings in a lower register. It's fun to see The Iron Lady and The Devil [who] Wears Prada as the odd woman out because of her rocker sensibilities.

I also like the relationship between Ricki and Greg. I would not kick former heartthrob Rick Springfield out of my bed for eating crackers.

Ricki and The Flash earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Coolness and Approval. It's not for children. I don't know if it would interest older teens.

My neighborhood postal worker who doesn't always pick up my mail delivered this DVD to me on behalf of Netflix.

Happy viewing!

Rick, will you please sing us out?

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Meryl Streep as Ricki


Meryl Streep and Rick Springfield

Mamie Gummer and Meryl Streep

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BOOK NOOK: ORPHAN TRAIN BY CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Many of us who live in the United States today are unaware of the phenomenon known as "orphan trains." From 1854 to 1929, children's aid societies sent more than two hundred thousand children from New York to less populated parts of the country, most often the Midwest. Some of the children truly had been orphaned. Others were abandoned or homeless.

Chaperones accompanied the children on the trains, which stopped at towns where a farmer might want to take in a boy to help with the heavy workload, or a couple might want a girl to help with their younger children. Some children were adopted and became true family members. Many were nothing more than indentured servants.

The children were known as "train riders." When they left the train to be considered by the townsfolk, a child might find his teeth checked by a dirty farmer's hand. Babies and older boys who appeared strong were usually the first to be adopted. Some children might get off the train at one stop after another, only to return––unwanted–– to an orphanage with the chaperones. A number of children also landed in multiple "homes" before they found a place where they were wanted and loved.



I haven't discovered any train riders still living, but it's believed they left behind as many as two million descendants.

In Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline pieces together the intricate fictional story of a 1929 train rider with that of a Penobscot Indian girl in 2011 who is about to age out of the foster care system. Together they create the quilt of an elderly woman who wants her attic cleaned out. Or does she?



Nine-year-old Niamh Power and her family leave Ireland in search of a better life in New York City, but Niamh is alone after a devastating fire in their apartment.

There is no adult on this side of the Atlantic who has reason to take any interest in me, no one to guide me onto a boat or pay for my passage. I am a burden to society, and nobody's responsibility.

Niamh becomes a train rider in search of a home. During her journey, she befriends a young man named Hans, known as "Dutchy." Niamh and Dutchy vow to find each other someday.

Molly Ayer is an unwanted seventeen year old who lives in a foster home.

Through her bedroom wall Molly can hear her foster parents talking about her in the living room, just beyond her door. "This is not what we signed up for," Dina is saying. "If I'd known she had this many problems, I never would've agreed to it." 

Molly attempted to steal a library book and has been sentenced to fifty community service hours. Her boyfriend, Jack, asks his mother if Molly can fulfill the service requirement by helping the wealthy lady for whom she keeps house clean out her attic––a large task that Jack's mother doesn't want to undertake.

Parallel lives intertwine when Molly meets Vivian Daly.

I believe in ghosts. They're the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind. Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened.

I am ninety-one years old, and almost everyone who was once in my life is now a ghost. 

Orphan Train touches on the theme of writing the story of one's own life, but delves mostly deeply into the theme of loss––including the loss of family, but moreover, the loss of ancestry, the loss of a culture. The coming together and separation of people who long to see each other again, but might not ever do so.  I tend to dwell on the many losses in my life, but then a book such as Orphan Train reminds me that loss is offset by gains, perhaps more gains than the losses we experience.

As a book I could hardly bear to put down, Orphan Train earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Very Highest and Greatest Approval For Beautiful Writing and Enchanting Characters.

Happy reading!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

You can learn more about the orphan trains at The National Orphan Train Complex Web site: http://orphantraindepot.org/




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TIP TUESDAY: ALLOW MYSELF TO INTRODUCE . . . MYSELF.

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

What's the deal with "myself"? I hear it all the time:

Myself and Bocephus went to the bar for a snootful. 


Here I sit, judging myself.

The problem with "myself" in the snootful sentence is that it should be a reflexive pronoun. Reflexive pronouns end in -self and refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause.

Maybe this explanation is simpler: Myself is a pronoun. Pronouns take the place of a noun. Example: Henry's dead, and he don't look so good.

"Henry" is the noun. "He" is the pronoun.

As a pronoun, "myself" needs to take the place of a noun. Example: Ah'm fixin' to fix myself some popcorn to eat while I watch the best movie ever, Walkin' Tall. 

"Ah'm" (a.k.a. I'm) is the noun. Thus, "myself" is the reflexive pronoun that refers to I.

No more using myself all by itself because its feelings are hurt when it's alone and lonely. It has to be paired with a noun.

Would anyone like to have some fun writing a sentence with the correct or incorrect use of "myself"? Be as creative as you like.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Thanks, fishducky!

Monday, August 22, 2016

WHICH WAY HOME REVISED (AGAIN) PROLOGUE & A FEW GRAPHS FOR CHAPTER ONE

Prologue

You've heard people say their lives changed overnight, right? They woke up and heard the lottery numbers and knew they were millionaires. They fell in love at first sight. 

More often, the change is bad because one day everything is fine, and the next? 

It is all fucked up. 

I read once that Marie Antoinette's hair turned white overnight in jail while she awaited the loss of her head. 

What people don't think about is that the overnight device is a saying. Nothing but a cliché. It hardly ever takes that long: eight hours, twelve hours, or however you define overnight, for a life to be transformed. Most of the time, it happens in one or two seconds.

I bet Marie's hair betrayed her during a few seconds of a nightmare when she saw the guillotine's blade slice through her own milky neck.

How many seconds does it take to purchase that lottery ticket or to decide to stop someplace for ice cream? These decisions may be part of a change that's a long time in the making, but when the hair whitening attacks, it happens in a flash. 

And the flash of the blade in the sunlight can be so bright it nearly blinds you. 

Chapter One

Clue

The yellow piece of paper on the windshield of Aggie's black minivan stood out like a beacon in the dusky evening light as she left the urgent care center. She waddled along with a purse and diaper bag slung behind her right shoulder, Ruth Ann perched on her right hip, and a still sobbing Elliot hanging on for dear life to her left hand.

She shook free of El's sweaty grasp so she could pull the paper out from under the wiper and unfold it. "ASSHOLE" it said, printed neatly in red letters on a scrap torn from a legal pad.

"Mom!" Elliot pawed at her, as Ruth Ann's head drooped onto Aggie's shoulder. Aggie stood rooted to the asphalt next to the car so she could check out the area. What had she done this time?

White painted lines of parking spaces, empty now, spread out across the parking lot like whitecaps on the ocean. White, white, white, except around her car, where she now saw yellow lines. Two yellow lines on each side of the van and an arrow underneath it that marked the route to exit the lot. The only route between the parking spaces.

Drivers must have woven around her van for hours before the lot cleared out. Tire tracks in the mud provided evidence that they ran her blockade by driving off the asphalt and into the landscaped border along the sidewalk. Flowers and juvenile trees had been flattened.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

LOGGINS & MESSINA TELL THE DIRT BAND, YOUR MAMA DON'T DANCE AND YOUR DADDY DON'T ROCK AND ROCK

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

You turned out in droves to vote in the August 15 Battle of the Bands. The song was House at Pooh Corner, written by Kenny Loggins as he faced the prospect of his high school graduation and leaving behind all that was familiar to him.

It might seem to be a children's song, but it if you listen carefully, it has more of a loss of innocence vibe, as does the last chapter of The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne when Christopher Robin's carefree days of childhood end.

Christopher Robin was going away. Nobody knew why he was going; nobody knew where he was going; indeed, nobody even knew why he knew that Christopher Robin was going away. But somehow or other everybody in the Forest felt that it was happening at last.

Of course, Christopher Robin will go away to school, and he tells Pooh, "I'm not going to do Nothing any more." But we're left with the knowledge that "in that enchanted place on top of the Forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing."

Personally, I'm not ever going to reach that silly point of not going to do Nothing. I shall always do Nothing in my enchanted place.

I have promised Penelope and Franklin.

Now for the winners of the Battle of the Bands:

Loggins and Messina           23

The Nitty Gritty Dirty Band  6

I didn't vote because it's quite a decisive victory.

Loggins and Messina were a successful pop/rock duo from 1970 to 1976. After they split up, Jim Messina pretty much disappeared, while Kenny Loggins became a huge draw during the '80s. Didn't we all cut Footloose?

Thank you to Mr. McCarthy for hosting our Battle of the Bands. I enjoyed all the other battles. 

I'll be back on September 1 with another battle, but I hope to see you before then so we can learn new grammatical skills together. And perhaps we'll get in a book and a movie review here, there, and everywhere.

Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina, will you please sing us out with something cheerful?


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug, who remains in her Enchanted Palace, guarded by Franklin and looked askance at by Penelope