Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lostmnesia.....a process with some victories

I don't want anyone to think that just because I've had a short story and a feature magazine article published this month that I think I'm a rock star or some kind of super hero. But what really does deserves a pat on the back is that I overcame the limitations I placed on myself long enough to finally make something happen with that writing.

First off, Lostmnesia was rejected by twenty four literary magazines. Twenty-four. Twenty four times, I had to read why someone thought my story was good but needed just a little of this or a lot of that or just wasn't right for them at this time.  That's a little like: it's not you, it's me, so let's just be friends.

And then there are all the literary magazines that just plain ignored me. I didn't even get the closure that at least comes with a rejection.

If it wasn't for my supportive friends in my writing group - Writing Safety Tree - and my amazing husband, my writing wouldn't have happened.

Some of us couldn't come because of mommy duties but from top
left to right we have Laurel Janssen Byrne, Julie Gardner,
Charlene Ross, me, Kim Tracy Prince and Lexi Rohner

Writers (or me) are very sensitive people. So everything can hurt. But you have to be sensitive to pick up on the little things and then process them well enough to articulate what happened to complete strangers. Or friends. Or family.

It all starts with sorting through the feelings in your own head though. And that can be a sticky uncomfortable mess. You don't know what's in there or where it's been or who's touched it. Ick. I think maybe that's why many people stay away from it.

But then there are the masochists brave ones who insist on not only touching it but sorting through it and putting it together in an orderly fashion so that the next person might better be able to sort through their own sticky mess. I think that's what writers try to do. Or, I guess, what I try to do. Organize then inspire.

But then there are the mean voices. You may or may not have them in your head but the ones in mine do two things when I finally decide I'm going in. First they say, hey, look at all the stuff you have to do, like dishes and ordering prints for that summer album, before you can sit down and waste your time with your trivial writing pursuits. Then they say, you have nothing to say anyway and even if you did, you don't know how to say it in the right way.


I didn't used to have the strength to show up and write anyway. Well, maybe only in my journal but then I'd worry that someone would find it and I'd be exposed. But if the planets did align and I did actually find myself in front of my computer (avoiding Facebook) and actually getting some thoughts down - finding that kernel of truth inside that chaotic spin - the result inside my body after was almost orgasmic. Yes, it's that kind of high. Overcoming fear, deciphering the noise and putting together a tangible sentence leaves me walking on a euphoric cloud.

So, why can't I gather, to the forefront of my consciousness, all these fantastic memories of feeling just that and know that all I have to do is show up and sit down? Because the mean voices are louder than any others I can muster on my own. And it wasn't until I met my husband, who tries to drown out those mean voices with praise, that I started to suspect their lies. And it wasn't until I joined my writing group  that I no longer felt destined to share a lifelong prison cell, inside my head, with those mean voices.   I found out those voices live within every writer in our group. So, together, we lock hands and refuse to let them scare us anymore.

And, that's the real victory. It's not that I've had two things published this month. No, the victory is despite the roadblocks my own head has put up to deter myself from doing the only thing in my life (besides motherhood) that I've desired with my full heart, I've managed to break through with the help of my friends and the love of my husband.

So I guess that's the point. We are stronger together than we are alone.

It's still a challenge sometimes (um, especially now that there are kids in the picture who consider me their on call servant 24/7) but it's less so today than yesterday.

So, if you love something, go find someone that also loves that something and do it together. It's the miracle of communal creation. No one achieves anything alone.

And if you want to read my new short story, you can find it here. And if you want to leave a comment on their website to tell them what you thought of the story, you will have my eternal gratitude (well, only if you actually liked it, ha ha).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

LA Parent photoshoot - the UNCUT version!

I was honored this month to be published by LA Parent Magazine.

It's the story towards the top of the page about Dating Your Husband. The article is based on a post I wrote for this blog called Secret Dates and if you haven't run out and raided your local Vons, Pavilions, Gelsons or library for a print copy of the February could read it here (and leave a comment if you want to make me look good, I mean, help others with some great ideas of your own, ha ha). But it's so much more fun to see it in print. For me anyway.

I had thought there was a possibility that we would even be on the cover because they sent out this very talented photographer, Jodye Alcon, who took countless pictures of the families that were able to come to the park for the shoot. This is the photo they used in the magazine:
I think we look a little like a soap opera

So this isn't going to be about romance or relationships - well maybe a little. This is going to be  the UNCUT, behind the scenes version about the lovely group of people whose experiences helped shape my first magazine feature article. 

First off, it was a lot of kids.

And they weren't all exactly listening.

And they had some feelings.

But Mommy-extrodinaire, Jen Press had a bright idea.....

It was actually a bright blue idea.....
yes, their mouth are blue

Which got their attention.....but may have not been the best strategy right before picture time.....

However we got it done as you saw from the first picture.

And, I was obviously very excited and in the wee hours of the morning before we were to meet at the park for this photoshoot, I had some great ideas for some fun pictures.

First, I wanted all the guys to wear aprons.

Don't they look handsome?
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at the eventual mutiny.

I also thought it'd be cute for the girls to have roses, you know, to symbolize romance. We like flowers right?
Maybe just not in our mouths, yuck.
I really wanted to impress the editors with my creativity. So we went for the Charlie's Angels look.
I think we look very intimidating....or confused....why are we trying to look scary with roses again?

And then we started taking pictures of the families individualy, which was really fun so go with me here....

Terri Harrah used to be my roommate in Santa Monica when we went to CSUN. I majored in Journalism and she in Drama.
she really is quite dramatic
Terri is a down to earth, true blue friend. She cares about the planet, treating other people with kindness and dignity and homeschools her two boys Truman and Ethan.
Ethan, 6 and Truman 9
And she is happily married to her (working) musician husband, James Harrah. They prioritize their relationship because they know it all starts with them.

Maybe Jen Press is such a quick witted parent because nature has forced her to be so. She is a work-outside-the-home mom to three boys. She's also a lot of fun. I don't get to see her as often as I like. (One of her most memorable sayings is "Only floss the teeth you want to keep." Yes, she's a dental hygenist.)
Zach, 6 is between Trevor and Dylan, 4 - who are TWINS
God bless her. Did I mention that her husband Jeff is helping to open restaurants all over the country, called Firehouse Subs so he travels A LOT. Good thing she is patient and takes the time to plan outings that keep their fires kindled (oh and yes, they like to camp a lot too).
I don't know how they make it look so easy
Laurel Janssen Byrne is a writer too. She is writing her own life story with strokes of compassion as she is the gal to go to if you need a little TLC fix, and some steely nerve. I keep forgetting she's not from NYC because she and her husband Matt are so edgy. No, not cranky just so off the cuff honest with each other and the world. It's refreshing.
Yin and Yang - such a perfect fit
And they make cute kid.
good thing she is cute cuzz this couple is ONE AND DONE
And of course, there was my family.
Kyle wasn't here because he went surfing this day
And my guys were unusually patient and smiled on cue.
brotherly love (rare moment)
Kaleb, 5 - loves rainbow loom, dodge ball and bey blades
Knox, 3 - loves his doggie blanky, all sports and homemade biscuits

So thank you to the awesome families that were brave enough to share their stories and hopefully inspire couples to reboot their love lives....bring the sizzle back to their fizzle....make love not war. OK, I'll stop. But here again are the lovely families who make my life so much better by being in it. Thank you again.....

Two other families couldn't make it to the park this day (it was after all New Year's Eve day) so I just want to acknowledge and thank them too for sharing their stories.....

Morgan and Todd Addab (not their real name, ha ha) couldn't come because Todd had to work. Todd and Howard used to be fraternity brothers (insert the Animal House soundtrack here because I'm sure it applies) and their friendship has travelled the circuitous route that our lives sometimes take and has brought them together again at a time when our families are child compatible. And how many of our friendships end up being based mainly on this criteria? But in this regard we got lucky and I just love his wife Morgan who is one of the most gracious and kind people I've met.
Jon Jr., 20, Morgan and Todd, Justin, 5

Nicole and Danny Baraz are the hip element of this article. Oh the days when we were hip.....

Danny and Nicole, Mason (now 9) and Odessa (now 6, but gosh arent' they the cutest!)
Thanks for reading and I hope you find the article useful or helpful in some way. Even if your relationship is solid and you couldn't squeeze more romance into it, at least there are some great date ideas! Now, go and spread that love! And Happy Valentine's day!