The Writer and Her Papa

1926734_10204222512019405_7922414794304983180_nThis is my Papa. I met my Papa when I was thirteen years old. I was already taller than him. And he still had some color in his hair.  Since then we have both grown quite a crop of steely gray hair.

According to legend, he fell in love with Momma over homemade spaghetti.  She didn’t cook it mind you.  He did and he had forgotten to stock up on red pepper flakes.  When he mentioned it, Momma pulled a large container of them out of her purse. .

I am not sure how a large container of pepper flakes made it into her purse.  Maybe she was using them as a cheap version of pepper spray? Throwing the whole container at would be assailants and hoping that her aim was true to hit them in the eye or at least the shock of seeing a flying pepper flake container would slow them down.

A few weeks or months later, Momma came by to pick me up for an outing with Denny.  After Denny came into her life I saw Momma more and more.  If he did nothing else he brought my mother back into my life.  (But, he did do more)

You see a year earlier, we lost our house.  Momma went to stay with friends and I returned from my annual stay at my grandmothers house to live with my father. The separation would last nearly a year.  It wasn’t by choice on either of our parts.  In the meantime, life became a serious of events where I tried and failed to win the approval of my birth father and stepmother.  Every decision I made questioned and denounced as immature and lacking thought.   My interests were weird and I was disrespectful. I didn’t know how to please them and eventually just retreated to my books and imagination.

My father and mother had divorced when I was six.  He told my mother that he didn’t love her anymore.  And she told him to leave. I don’t know what it cost her to do it;  to go against everything that she had been taught about life and marriage. She came from the work it out generation. Her parents were married for over fifty years.  The only way out of marriage was death.  And she let my father go alive. She could have killed him for cheating on him.  She could have raged against him. She never did at least not in front of us kids. She told him to go.  Told him that he had to go that they weren’t just going to go through a divorce sleeping in the same bed or living in the same roof .  She told him to go and where the boundaries were.  I love her for that and everything she did that followed to do right by us. We never made it easy.

Sadly in the months following the divorce I blamed my mother and tried to fight her.  She rocked and held me close until I calmed down.  She didn’t understand that my father had just told me he was going on a business trip not that he was leaving permanently.

My father is not a man known for his sense of humor or love of literature. Actually, I don’t know why people like my father. I do know that he hated my nose was always in a book and wanted me to get out and do things.   I wanted to do things. The things in the books I was reading.  The characters had horrible lives to be sure (I was a huge VC Andrews fan), but their lives were filled with excitement and love.

Love is something  my father still has difficultly communicating to his nearly forty-year old daughter. He rarely says it and every time I hear it, I question whether he is sick or not.  Dying being the event that would induce an out pouring of emotion from his tight lips.

Papa has never had trouble communicating his love, frustration or anger with me.  It hasn’t always been smooth and he has been so angry at me that I am sure he was seeing cross eyed.   I was never the rebellious teen. No, I did all my stupid, worry the parents stuff in my mid to late twenties after I came home to live with them.  When I was a pain in the butt, he let me know.  And while we will never agree on politics completely (so far we both hate Trump), we always agree on the fact that I am his daughter.

Maybe he didn’t provide half my genetic sequence, but he did provide all the love and support a child could wish for. He showed me what it was like to have two loving and strong parents in the home.  He gave me what I missed as a child of divorce the feeling of a strong family unit.

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Father’s day is hard on a lot of people.  Some people like my Papa didn’t know their fathers or have fathers like mine who won’t accept them for who they are.  Papa doesn’t always understand me, but he loves and accepts me.  All of me. It is what a father does.

 

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The Writer & the Interview

So after weeks of sending out resumes and expecting it to take weeks, I finally got a response from two principals in my district.  Ten years at the same school. Ten years knowing the boundaries and pushing them. It is time to push new boundaries and serve new students. Two interviews, two chances. Two opportunities to venture down new pathways.

Or in my case, new characters.

Keep pushing for your dreams, Keep pushing for something that fits better and as always ….

Keep writing.

 

The Writer and the Day Job.

Last week I had some out-patient surgery.  (No worries, I am fine and back at work.) The same day, it was announced that the BETA Center would be closing its doors in June. I have been a teacher there since 2009.

My day job for the last ten years as been as a teacher of exceptional students in Orlando. No, I don’t teach at the gifted program. My first assignment was at a mental health facility.  I was there for ten years.  And my students, all young woman, were there as a result of trauma.  I loved them and they loved me.  They learned and so did I, but it wasn’t until BETA that I really began to develop as a teacher and a writer.

Teaching me

Take in 2006 when I first started teaching.

BETA, my current assignment,is part of a private public partnership that provides for the needs of teen mothers.  There is a day care on site run by the agency (BETA). They also provide counselors for the students and help with everything from diapers and food to career counseling.   BETA also houses a residential program.

Combined with the school, we have one of the highest graduation rates in the county.

My students aren’t statistics. They are real human beings who are working for a better future for themselves and their children.  They don’t need to “close their legs” as one commentor to the Orlando Sentinel article on the closing responded.   They need compassion and the one and one attention that BETA gives them.  They need to be seen a real  whole people not “breeders”.

My first year there one of my students was a victim of abuse.   She was nineteen.  A mom working her way to graduation.   When she was eighteen, she came home to find her apartment vacant.  Her parents had left her and her baby. They moved without telling her.   She didn’t let that stop her.  She continued to come to school.

The next year she had moved in with her boyfriend trying to finish school when things turned violent.  He didn’t care if the bruises showed or not.  He didn’t care.  She was his and he could do anything he wanted with her and to her.   BETA helped her get out.  She is alive today because of BETA.   She wants more for her life because of BETA.

Her daughter is in the second grade because of BETA.

She wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the last teen mom to face emotional and physical abused.  Every year students come into my classroom having faced horrors that no teen should ever have to face.   It isn’t just bullying that these young woman face.  Any parent can tell you how hard being a new parent is.  No image being a teen mom without the ability to provide the basics for your child.   Many of the students work and go to school at night.  One young woman, I taught for two years was worked until two in the morning at cleaning service.   She came to school and fought everyday  to stay awake.  She didn’t graduate with honors, but she did graduate.

BETA helped make that happen. My day job does this. Helps young woman find their voice and direction and beat the odds.  It is more than just a job. More than a career.  It is part of what makes me a good writer. My students aren’t one dimensional people.  They are amazing. They inspire me. And they all have stories.

My classroom for the last seven years.

My classroom for the last seven years.

Yes, there are other places that can serve the needs of the community but none of them are like BETA.  BETA is a place that saves lives and gives hope.  I have had students who have survived domestic violence and homelessness.  The BETA  serves as an emergency shelter and is currently the only local shelter that can provide shelter to  a minor with a child. My heart breaks for my students and their children. It is also breaking for the community as well.

There are efforts underway to try and keep the doors open.  If you can, I encourage you to donate by following the link.  Every bit helps.  It really does.

P.S.  BETA also helped make me the writer that I am today. It was working with my students that pushed me from just talking about writing to actually writing.  My students overcome so much just to get to school some days to reach their goals, how  could I complain that I didn’t have enough time to write? So I did and I keep doing it.

Back to the Work

When I posted the Work, I didn’t mean to come across as complaining and I wasn’t really in a bad place.  I was attempting to express what that one moment was screaming at me. I was just tired of feeling like I am trapped on the giant cosmic hamster wheel of tedium.

Things never seeming to get better. Just one day after another and no visible end in sight to the dilemmas and conundrums.

Things undone and needing to attention. Things that need to be seen.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I am being seen.  Like my problems and issues are too mundane. Too first world to count.

I know I am lucky. I know that I have been blessed with more than two decades of continuous employment. I have been everything from a model to a legal secretary.  Since 2006, I have been a teacher.

It was my dream job.  The dream that I let myself have.

The one that was acceptable.  Honorable.

But for the last thirty years of my life, there has been another dream.  The writing dream.

Many of us have it.  Many of us give it up to find things that pay the bills. Dreams are pretty good at not paying the bills.

Life shouldn’t just be about paying bills. It should be about living. It is easy to get caught up in the things that we do to make the money to live.  It is even understandable.  The electric company won’t take a free copy of my last book as payment for next months electricity.

Paying the bills is a necessity.  But, the life you choose to live doesn’t have to all the bells and whistles.  It just has to have the ones that matter to you.  Not to everyone will understand.

And they don’t need to do .

You just have to get to the work that makes you happy.  That work that feeds more than the bills.

 

A Break From

Sweet Spring Break.   You will mostly be a break from my day job although I have work to do there for which I will be sneaking into school and completing later this week.  Not that I really want to, but lesson plans have to be written and prep.  Such is the life of a teacher.

The life of a writer is also similarly never ending cycle of work.  This week, I make no promises on what I will be accomplishing on various writing projects.  I will be writing, but school breaks tend to be horrible times for me to write as everything I put off during the school year gets shoved into a break.  I do promise to do a lot of reading.

Recently, I finished the “Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer.  I own both the book and the audio book.  I can’t recommend the audio book by enough.  It is like having Amanda Palmer speak directly to you.

Currently, I am listening to the audio book of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and narrated by Scott Brick.  And reading the Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead by Heather Pringle which is an invigorating look into the lives of the preserved dead.

After that, I am not sure. I have a lovely stack of to be read books waiting for my attention.  Although, I expect to be distracted by the latest offering by Edward Medina. Bones, Crowns and Gaman is the second novella in the Adventures of the X Pirates series.  The first book is the Demise of Foxy Jack which is available on Amazon Kindle. There is also a prolog entitled a Murder of Crows.

Alethea Kontis will be releasing the next book in her Arilland series on the 28th.  Sadly, this is the day that I go back to work so I will have to wait to dig into it.

If you need something for your reading list, check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon.

The Work

The work is hard, but I do it. I try to complain less and listen more. I try to do my best.

I try and do my best.

But, lately the work of my life seems to be bring me down. One of my students confided in me today that she just wanted her struggles to be over. I didn’t want to tell her that they were only beginning.

She is about to graduate from high school.  Things are about to get real for her.

My students love me.  I know this to be true. They may not always like me. Once or twice a year, a student will come in to the classroom and announce that we are no longer friends.  That’s ok, I respond. I am good with being their teacher.

The one thing that bugs me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me is that they don’t see their teachers as a success.

All the complaints made by teachers (including myself) and the media about teacher pay have led them to believe that teaching isn’t a good career choice.  The thing is even with a budget I am struggling  to make ends meat.  There are no summers off for me.  I have to find work or go deeper into debt.  Most of the time both things happen.

In the meantime between lesson planning  and general life maintenance, I write. Lately the maintenance has been taking more and more of my time.  The cold, I wrote about over a month ago never really went away.  It is now a sinus infection.

My body pleads for sleep and my mind denies it.

The work has gotten muddled for me in politics. The politics of having male bosses with a mostly female workforce.  Being denied a promotion because the principal likes people he can talk to.  Not even granting me an interview for the position I worked so hard for.

Everything has gotten lost in my  inability to find a way to make all the things work.  Maybe I need to get a roommate again and give up the office that I took so long to create for myself. The office whose door is still undone.

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Maybe it is time to give up writing and worrying about making it a career. I have my book.  It has been moderately successful.

Maybe it is time to retired to an ordinary life.  Not the one I attempt to live.

Maybe, but let’s be honest. I have never taken the easy road. I have been back down from a challenge without a plan to regroup.

This is where I am now.

Here in the muck.

And that is ok.

Writing is hard.  Really hard. But it is always something that fills me with joy when I am not indulging  the fraud police (thank you, Amanda Palmer for that and so much more).  As does teaching.

Ignorance has I tell my students is not cute. You will learn things in this class whether you like to or not.  It is a lot like life.  You are going to learn something whether you intended to do so or not.

Good night all. Good luck in your work what ever it is.

Love,

Lu

P.S. . Check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon.

Anxiety and the Writer

It is no secret that I have anxiety, a tricky little beast inside my head that is the captain of the Fraud Police squad that lives in my head.  Captain A has been incredibly successful recently at getting me to stop what I love and live in fear.

I feel confident in saying that there are a lot of writers and creative people out there with anxiety, a lot of them.  They live with it from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed and all through out the night. It is the reality of many creative types. Creating the thing we live for is often times the thing that creates the most them.   I don’t often have writer’s block, I have writer’s anxiety .

A million things flood into my mind. Every nasty thing that I have ever told myself. Every piece of self doubt. Every ounce of criticism level at me from parents, teachers, siblings and well meaning friends. Every whispered insult.   So I avoid being creating. I avoid sitting down to write and work through the demons that tell me that I am useless and I will be a failure.  I think that is the reason that I often have wine while I am writing.  It is an attempt to get the bastards drunk.

It doesn’t always work.

Sometimes it does and the story takes hold.

Sometimes I am the one who gets drunk as Captain A laughs at me.  For the record, his laugh is similar to a hyena both evil and juvenile.

So let me tell you a story.  Don’t worry it has pictures.

A picture of the main stage courtesy of Gretchen H.

A picture of the main stage courtesy of Gretchen H.

Once a upon a Wednesday afternoon a plan was hatched. A conspiracy among myself and one other teacher.  It was simple, attend the Eddie Izzard concert and then stay home the next day.  Teachers are dedicated individuals.  We give 110% every day. Some days that effort is easy to achieve. Others it is a struggle, but that struggle on only a couple of hours of sleep one thing that this time around neither myself or my co-worker were prepared to take on.

Much of Thursday was spent like this in p.j.'s and with a puppy dog on my lap.

Much of Thursday was spent like this in p.j.’s and with a puppy dog on my lap.

So when the alarm went off, I got up and took the dogs for their walk then promptly went back to sleep.   There had been a plan to call the doctor and see about moving up my ankle appointment. I wasn’t awake long enough to implement any part of it.  I sleep all day and when I woke up it was only for a couple of hours before heading back to bed. The next day another day of hooky for me. My coworker went back to school or at least that is I what I assume happened.  Friday morning, I took off  for Sanibel Island to meet some friends who were vacationing there.  It was heaven.  The whole adventure. Even when I was pulled over for speeding. It wasn’t the brightest part but it wasn’t awful.

Normally, being pulled over would have reduced to me tears. The budget is already tight.  The concert and the trip to the coast were special treats.  A three hundred dollar ticket would have crushed my little ragtag budget .

Yes, that is right. I was pulled over.

And I wasn’t nervous.

And I was in the wrong. I was speeding.  I was guilty.

I didn’t fuss at the officer or cuss. I just apologized. And you know what I was happy that he pulled me over. I was on unfamiliar roads. Speeding really and truly wasn’t a wise idea. I didn’t know what was coming up. It was an easy way to get in an accident.

The officer left me with a warning and a ticket for my registration being out of date.  I didn’t even panic when I called my boyfriend to tell him about the ticket.  It was weird that all of these things that aren’t normally in my routine didn’t set my anxiety off into over drive.  In fact, the only part of the trip that tickled it was the drive back to Orlando in the dark and rain.  I got nervous a couple of times could feel myself on the edge and then nothing. I teetered but never went off and had a melt down or panic attack.

I picked sea shells by the sea shore

I picked sea shells by the sea shore

Instead, I went on to have a wonderful afternoon and evening with two of my dearest friends from college.  There was lunch at the Island Cow and shell collecting as well as a tour of Crow Wildlife rescue.  It was a quiet day with no fussing or mussing. And no fraud police.

Now, I am sure that the Fraud Police and Captain A will be back. I am sure that the next time I go to sit down I will be struck by what a failure I am, but for nearly three days they weren’t with me and it was heaven or close to it.

And if I can get there once, I can get there again.

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook.  Her new novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon.

A New Year’s Message

How you begin this year should not indicate how the rest of it is going to go.  A few bad days doesn’t mean that the whole year is going to suck.

Please remember that as you move through these first couple of weeks of 2016.  It is a new year, but the only magical thing that happens at midnight on December 31st every year is an agreed change in our perceptions.

Universally,  the decision was made that when the clock strikes midnight everyone gets a chance to start over.   Articles are published about New Year’s Resolutions, people share their hopes and dreams,  and we all move forward as if something momentous has changed for all of us.

The problem is that we wake up the same people that we were when we went to bed. We have accepted the narrative that while New Year’s is a great time to make changes while also accepting  no one is really going to hold you to those resolutions.

Sometime in February the articles on why we didn’t succeed in our resolutions and we will feel better about letting ourselves down.

We have gotten use to disappointing ourselves and looking to others for inspiration.  We tell ourselves that if  others can do it we can do it and then we beat ourselves up for not doing it.

My 2016 has been a little rough. Yep, three days in and things are a little bumpy.

Sick Lu

Sick again?

My first day of 2016 found me in bed after being sent home from my mother’s house for being sick. My family looked at me, declared that I was deathly pale and sent me packing. Not the best way to begin the year, but it is how I began my year.

On the second day of 2016, I tried to dye my hair purple and ended up dying the bathtub and my finger nails. Don’t ask me how, just know that I really did this things.

And today, the third day of 2016, I am cleaning the house with a headache and trying to write a new blog.  True, I am sick. True I still have the bills that I didn’t pay staring at me and a house that really needs to me to attend to it. Oh, and I forgot to pay a traffic fine in 2016.

Sweet Potatoes from my garden. I grew a thing.

Sweet Potatoes from my garden. I grew a thing.

However, it is also true that yesterday, I baked two sweet potatoes that came right out of my garden, that last night I was able to spend time with a dear friend on her birthday and that there is still a pretty comfortable roof, albeit a messy one, over my head. I have gotten myself up every day even when not feeling well and gone for a walk, done some stretches and done some writing.

The good is mixed in with the not so good.  Oh and there is a nice pot of chili on the stove.

I think it is important to note not how you begin a thing, but how you finished it and all the little steps in between.  And it can’t hurt to listen to the wise words of Julie Garland. Have a great 2016. Make it a great one.

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A Note Before The New Year

A lot of awesome things have happened this year.  And some not so awesome.  It’s the Saturday before Christmas and the only decoration up at my house is a Darth Vader door knocker that I found at the dollar store. just haven’t felt like making the drive to storage to get everything.  And I am fine with it.  I am not going to have a Crank level Christmas rejection of the season, but I think it is alright to take a break from what is expected to do what is best for yourself.

My mobility has been composed for the last couple of months by tendonitis. I am mostly better have been clear to go back to some of my usual activities. I just can’t jump back into them at full speed. I am not so good at standing but I can walk my dogs and go for a swim when I want. Now, all I have to do is find a pool.

As I slowly make my way back to a healthier and happier year, I hope to get things going on this blog again. I have already scheduled two blogs for the upcoming year and between then and now when I get stuck on my next novel, I will be working on this blog. reviewing books, sharing scattered bits of poetry and my thoughts about life.

The New Year brings hope, but so does every dawn. We have the power to change our lives everyday not just when the calendar fits.

If you are not happy, then do what makes you happy. Find a way to bring happiness back into your life.  I started this year by changing my own story and getting out of the house and doing stuff. I also gave away a ton of stuff that I didn’t need or want.  It feels good, but I have a lot more work to do.

For myself and my life, less stuff means more time out and about with friends and love ones.  I don’t have any miraculous resolutions for the coming year.  2015 was better than 2014 for me and 2016 is going to be better than 2015 because I am going to make it so.

See you next year, my friends,

Lu

Season of Giving

For the past six years, I have had the honor of working with the students at the BETA center in Orlando. The young women I work with are amazing and it isn’t a cliche to say that that inspire me everyday.    Yes, sometimes they frustrate me.  But, they always make it worth it.   Their stories would break your heart, but those are their stories and not mine to tell.   There is a lot more to the BETA center than my school.  A lot more. They help 1,000’s of families every year in Central Florida each year.   They really do change lives.

Please consider giving or at least sharing this link with others.   BETA Center Go-Fund-Me .   These beautiful young women are trying to do what is best for their children like all of us they could use some help.