Fandango’s Friday Flashback: July 24

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: July 24

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year….Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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The following post was originally posted on July 24, 2018

(my blog, still a baby, was a mere 5 months old)

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Diaries Revisited – 2018

 

diaries line up

My writing life started with diaries – the kind with the tiny keys. Keys implying a privacy that wasn’t actually possible. But which gave a 9 year old a sense of importance. Tucking away private thoughts in a safe space. A comforting fantasy. Trusting that the key really worked.

As I got older, diaries (keys long gone) were followed by small spiral lined notebooks (written with an orange Flair pen – this was, after all, the ’70’s). Next… black hardcover “blank books.” And then back to small spiral notebooks and thick journals. I actually preferred the printed lines to guide my sometimes erratic handwriting; angled in anger or loopy with emotion. I went through a calligraphy stage in college and carefully inked my thoughts with spaced precision. An art form! And since I was the sister who was NOT the artist, I felt mighty proud about that.

My good friend Debbie gave me a new 8 1/2″ x 11″ black blank book when we were both 20 and about to start sharing an apartment – a first for both of us. We would finish up our last 1 & 1/2 years of college together.

She filled the first page:

Here is the book you wanted. It means so much to have a book like this…to write down thoughts, feelings….watch how you grow, how your feelings change and how much more aware you become when you read back through it… 

The second and third pages contained Pink Floyd lyrics from “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Breathe, breathe, in the air…Don’t be afraid to care…Leave, but don’t leave me…Look around and choose your own ground…. 

I followed Debbie’s directions and kept filling that journal off and on for almost 18 years. (It didn’t come with a key. I wonder if it should have.) I was as open with my written words at 20 and 25 and 30 as I was at 9 and 10. Kind of shocking really. And now sometimes embarrassing – and painful – to see my heart splayed open on the page over and over, year after year.

Entries became sporadic and eventually just covered major life events – or the night before major life events – as I pondered their significance. Marriage. Career. Parenthood. Family dramas. Joy. Grief. Loss. I started and stopped various notebooks, journals and blank books. A brand new one always a hard-to-resist invitation to begin again. Maybe it was the fresh, smooth paper & its possibilities…like getting new notebook paper, pens and pencils for the start of school each September.

At the ripe old age of 27 – about 2 weeks before the birth of my first child I wrote…

It seems that the older I get, the faster life goes by…We Are Going To Be Parents!!…It will probably be the most important thing we do….”   

The next entry (in that journal) was 10 years later when I had a weekend away by myself.  By then I had a second child and a consulting job. I was still in my thirties. The 4 page summary began with…

Motherhood has changed my life more than anything else before it. 

And ended with…

After all these years I’m finally starting to acknowledge that there’s another side of me that’s been buried – perhaps a more creative side – I’m not sure…”   

Looking back, I was spot-on about the motherhood thing.

…I also have several well worn notebooks filled with stories of all the amazing, funny, and truly one of a kind things my 2 children ever said or did.

Truly like no other kid ever in the history of the world. Obviously. For example: How many 8 year old boys do you know who can make an earring out of a Cheerio?  And whose mother wrote a story about it?

I couldn’t help myself. It was such fun….

Two years later…

The most extraordinary thing about writing is that when you’ve struck the right vein, tiredness goes. It must be an effort, thinking wrong.

Virginia Woolf

 

window desk
Desk View
February 26, 2020

Two years ago today I started posting on oneletterup.com. At first I just “practiced” and kept the blog private, as I built up courage to go public 2 months later on April 15. I began with my adventures in moving. The empty nest. Stories from childhood.

I had always been a “writer” since I first took pencil to paper in a diary at the age of 9. I put the word writer in quotes because I was in awe of real writers who crafted stories that transported me to exciting places. Writers of actual books! How could I call myself a writer too? A real writer. I could not possibly be in that league.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help myself. I wrote letters. Cards. Notes. I kept journals. I took a writing class in college. Joined local writing groups. Attended a week long writing symposium at a university in 2007. I wrote story after story about my children’s childhood moments. When the details were fresh in my mind…I couldn’t help it…I just had to record the sweet magic I witnessed. I put together memory books and stories for family. In the 1990s I submitted stories to magazines. A few held on to them…we’ll see if we have a need for this…but ultimately no publication.

There was never enough time to make writing a top priority. Without feeling guilty that there were more important things I should be doing.

Until my husband and I moved from our house to this condo. Until my children were grown and independent. Until I retired from my consultant job in dietetics.

Until I had a room of my own.

Two years ago, I took the plunge and thought…why not? After all, I wasn’t getting any younger…or healthier.

A blog would be a place to write what I wanted. Try to ignore the inner critic. And see what happens.

I discovered the creative fun of writing challenges, photography challenges…and what has turned out to be the best part…

…Meeting and interacting with other bloggers. It is like being in a virtual writing (and photography!) group. I’ve learned so much from all of you.

My mission in February 2018 was to start writing and not look back.

So far…mission accomplished!

A big thank you to all my blogging friends for your support and encouragement,
one letter Up
(aka Andrea 🙂)

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V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #85: Mission

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: January 31

This post inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback – January 31

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?..Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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This post is from January 31, 2019 in response to V.J.’s Weekly Challenge.

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Upside-Down

 

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #33: Upside-Down

 

img_7811

upside down: in or into total
disorder or confusion

 

right side up…
everything
in its place.
comforting clarity…

safety wrapped around
believing.
blind trust.
knowing what’s to come

until sucker punched…
tilting.
lights dimming
without a map…

spinning…
belonging
nowhere.
losing balance…

tumbling alone.
crashing
into
a
blank slate…
the new reality.

upside-down
learning to focus
all over again.

footprints

 

Shreds

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #69: kindle

How do you ignite motivation when stalled? Or perhaps, you perceive need for a kickstart elsewhere.

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To write or not to write?
That is the question.

Well, not the entire question.

To procrastinate or not to procrastinate?
That is the real question.

How to get past that pile of crap sometimes planted squarely in the way…

How to ignite a dormant fraction of an idea that briefly appears – and perhaps even feels momentarily brilliant…before it evaporates in a mist of uncertainty? Ghostly voices echoing unimportant not good enough who cares…before sinking it into the muck of inertia.

So I plod on, searching for the proper mix of kindling.
To ignite…to spark.
To silence the ghosts.

To harness the energy in such short supply.

My current mantra…
Hold on.
Begin.
One sentence at a time.
The purpose will make itself known…

…When I was in college I wrote every day. Didn’t think twice about it. Not just research papers. Or chemistry lab reports. But a personal journal with a jet black cover given to me by a girlfriend – a full size sketch book.

Fresh kindling tumbled forth without fail…plenty of sparks back then…filling pages…line by line.

Questioning. Worrying. Wondering. Planning.
What if? Why not? Why now? How will I? Should I? Oh no.

Careful script or hurried scrawl. Grand calligraphy moments of introspection.
Unfiltered and often painful, it was all there…

This past summer, I revisited – and read – what I had written decades ago.

Pages of words to heal.

Their purpose…fulfilled.

shreds long

Time to let them go.

Outdoors Childhood

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #62: Child/Childhood

…ponder what it means to be a child.

~~~

1964kite

To be a child…Part One.

Eyes first opened onto a world to explore.

To wonder. To question. To know.

Narrowed eyes gazed back…

I took my cue…

Slammed that screen door
And ran out.

Bright sun. Low clouds. Green grass. Climbing trees.
Raindrops soaking. Snow falling. Wind blowing.
Kite in flight.
Bicycle racing. Balls bouncing. Swings swinging.
Hopscotch. Tag.
Duck Duck Goose.
Hide and Seek. Ready-or-not-here-I-come.
Roller skates. Jungle Gym. Kiddie pool.
Slide. Sandbox. Snow forts.
Leaf piles…crunch crunch…jump…
Shout!

Nourishment absent inside four walls.

Outside
My respite. My peace. My place.
Fueling many Part One days…
An endless horizon of hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recovery

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #61: Recovery 

What does it mean to recover? What would full recovery look like, and is there such a thing? Recover from what?

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Everything else you grow out of, but you never recover from childhood.

Beryl Bainbridge

 

Time to come in for dinner! 

Whoops.

It became kind of a family joke when I was a kid – that I often ended up needing stitches on Thanksgiving…or Easter. Usually a holiday with visiting grandparents. More than once.

I’m not sure how many times it actually happened, but as I recall I’d be sent outside to play while the turkey was roasting. In my dressy clothes and patent leather shoes, I’d start running around like usual…climbing the monkey bars…swinging on the swings…riding my bike. Jump roping. Inevitably, without my “play shoes” on, I’d slip and fall. Many times on the cement patio or out in the street. Back then, we played in the street. Kickball. Baseball.

Before long there was blood everywhere…a huge gash on my chin, forehead or knee. At the same time the turkey was just about ready to carve.

I’d ruin the rest of the day as someone would have to take me to the Emergency Room – or the pediatrician’s office…who would be called in on a holiday (this was the 1950’s & ’60s…and they did that then) to stitch me up.

I obviously healed and recovered from the consequences of my holiday mishaps. The stitches were eventually removed. The scars faded, but remain….

I was branded for the duration of my childhood. My fearlessness and budding athleticism were not what a girl should be. My mother enrolled me in the “Junior Miss Club” when I was about 10…where I was supposed to learn how to be more ladylike. It met weekly after school and included practice walking with a book on my head. The goal was to keep it there. Boring as sin and to this day I am mystified at why that was a desirable skill. Ballet was almost as frustrating. Too slow and regimented. Baton twirling lessons were a disaster.

Girls who liked to play outside and get dirty and collect bees in jars and play baseball in the street were not “normal” girls. We were called tomboys. And grew up to prefer jeans to dresses. My poor mother desperately wanted me to be a normal daughter. She never got what she wanted, despite her heroic efforts. Which continued through my high school years.

Nobody has a perfect childhood. Nobody.

However, I have to believe some sort of recovery is possible…

Depending on the scars…

And how fast they heal.

dress on bike 1959

 

 

 

 

Believe Me

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #60: Belief

This week, let’s think about the beliefs – personally, socially, culturally – that define our realities.

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bxw rock

 

The most profound disappointment in life is when your truth is not believed.

When reality becomes distorted. By people who matter. And even by people who don’t matter.

But those close to you…that’s when the knife cuts the deepest. Because the hope hangs on. And on. And on. Maybe if this, maybe if that….then they’ll believe me.

Wait, I know that’s what happened. I was there. I heard it. I saw it.

But what if we are programmed from an early age to tell the world – or, more specifically, our world – family, friends – no everything is just fine.

My father would stare into the sad face of one of his children and chant over and over: Don’t Smile! Don’t Smile! Don’t Smile! Laughing…as he repeated his mantra. He’d crouch down and get right in front of a small unhappy face, his mouth stretched tight in a wide grin. His brown eyes, behind thick glasses, betrayed the frivolity. They were mocking. Perhaps fearful.
As if we presented the impossible possibility that one so small and helpless could struggle with an emotion so complicated, so fraught with need.
Need for compassion, understanding, some measure of support. Validation. That we mattered.

I understand now why. He had no idea how to respond. Maybe he was overwhelmed. As it reflected his own dark emotional beliefs. The message: Don’t Be Sad. Deny the Sad. It’s not okay.

Of course, it didn’t take long for our smiles to take shape. If for nothing else, to make the laughing father stop. Smiles did not match up with the eyes or heart. And especially they did not reflect our truth.

My mother, on the other hand, would ask us what we did wrong to cause this emotion that made her so uncomfortable.

I didn’t know what to believe.

Now I do.

 

deering A

Five Words

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Just when I thought…

Life seldom unfolds in straight lines. It’s not necessary to repeat the prompt phrase, but this week let’s think about the times when life has turned an abrupt corner, or caught us off guard.

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This topic jettisons me back almost 30 years to one of those moments. Which caught me off guard…and remains clear in my memory even now.

You hear so much advice as a new parent. Or a young parent. It comes at you from every direction. Other parents. Friends. Family members. Books. Magazine articles. I’m talking pre-internet…when I was raising children.

In the midst of all this advice, there were times I neglected the inner barometer. My parenting radar and instincts still not fully developed.

My 3 year old son’s 8 month experience at a local daycare center was one of those times. When I should have picked up on the signs. That it wasn’t the best place for him; even at only 2 days a week.

Irritability. Anger. Clingyness. But not all the time. I increasingly felt something was off, but rationalized my uneasiness…as over-reacting to normal toddler adjustments.

Until an exchange one evening while changing his diaper. When paying attention became front and center. And a turning point for me…

I am a bad boy.

The words jarring and new…from a child who talked little. Dark green eyes glanced up at me, and then away.

I froze; his two ankles balanced between the fingers of my left hand as I tried to still their movement. He was anxious to be off the changing table. Arms and legs swinging up. Down. Sideways. Body twisting. Trying to roll over. Two damp middle fingers plunged deep in his mouth. No more words came as the sucking became rhythmic.

With my free hand, I smoothed blonde hair back from his forehead.

His eyes met mine. SweetieYou are a Good Boy. A wonderful boy. And I love you!

I pulled the diaper up between his legs and gently held it on his belly. I let go of his legs. They scissored the air like bike pedals. Wrinkled fingers slid out of his mouth.

Bad Boy he repeated.

I leaned closer…You are the best boy in the whole world.

He strained to be upright. I pinned the diaper, pulled up the pants and stood him on the table. We were almost eye-to-eye.

I felt my outrage growing, the tears close behind….

You Are A Good Boy.

I kissed his cheek. Wrapped my arms around him. Lifted him up. He hooked his little boy legs around my waist and rested his head on my shoulder. His body finally still.

I knew there was only one place he could have heard those words…and gotten that message.

I withdrew him from the daycare center.
I quit my consulting job.

And learned a hard lesson…

t beach

Follow your instincts.
Pay attention.

Children let you know what they need.

 

Dream Vacation

Inspired by Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #55: Dreamy

 

Living in the northeastern United States, I have endured many snowstorms, blizzards and variations on the theme of freezing rain and sleet. Along with gloomy cloudy skies for days on end – with matching sub freezing temperatures.

I know there are people who enjoy the sitting-by-a-roaring-fire aspect of that time of year…known as late fall, winter and early spring where I live. They enjoy wearing multiple layers of cozy flannel shirts, wool socks and thick sweaters. Before venturing outdoors. To navigate the front steps. Which are icy.

Not me.

I dream of warm…and sunny…and relaxing.

Destination?

San Diego – more specifically Coronado, California.

I was lucky enough to vacation there 6 or 7 times. Just my husband and me. Our two children came along twice. They loved it too.

In 2006 – my last visit there – it was me, myself and I.  Back when I could travel easily. Hustling through an airport with several suitcases…not a problem. Eating whatever and wherever I wanted to. Enjoying local cuisine…with no worries or restrictions.

And most importantly: the energy to walk and explore for hours.

I’m so glad I didn’t wait.

 

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Coronado Beach 2006
california031 copy 2
Sunset Cliffs, San Diego 1999
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Coronado Beach 2006

 

 

 

Twisted

Inspired by Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge. The prompt: Twisted

 

All it takes is a simple twist. Or two. Or three. Of wire, silk and nylon.

Six strings stretched tight. But not too tight. The ends threaded into post holes. Then twisted…little by little…with the turn of a peg. Carefully. Adjusting the tension.

Until each one – when plucked – sounds…just right.

On a simple guitar made of wood.

twisted strings

 

My first – and only – no-name guitar shows its age. As do I.

Bought with saved up allowance for $28 on September 29, 1967.

I headed to guitar lessons taught by a local folk singer. For weekly group lessons with other aspiring young guitarists…struggling together to strum chords…

G  and D7…to play through Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.

C, F, Am and G7…for Blowin’ in the Wind.

Added Em and B7…and we managed to make it through Cruel War.

By that point the fingertips on my left hand were sore and complaining. From pressing down on those strings…especially strings 4, 5 & 6…the thickest ones.

three strings

Those twisted strings were replaced many times. As I sang and played through a thick looseleaf binder of mimeographed folk songs assigned by my teacher. To which I added my carefully typed copies of Homeward Bound, Hey Jude, It Was a Very Good Year, Leaving on a Jet Plane…among many others. Guitar chords written or typed in red above the words.

I did not sing or strum with much finesse, but it was the 60’s after all – and it was fun.
It never occurred to me to take it more seriously. I never saw any female guitarists on Ed Sullivan or American Bandstand, heard any on AM radio or in my stack of 45s.

This guitar went to camps and college with me. It was then retired to a closet…until my son tried it out after his college days. It traveled up and down the east coast with him for a few years…until he had a guitar of his own. Like his dad…and his sister.

And now it is back here with me.

my guitar

Ready for its next chapter.