In Praise of Friendships

I have a friend that has been my compadre for thirty-nine years.  I’d like to call her my “partner in crime.”  Now, along the way I have had other pals, which I now consider more as acquaintances.  I’m sure we have all had people who started out as a companion, but somewhere along the way something happened – they went in one direction, and you went another.  My thirty-nine year bud has been there through integral times in my life, as well as I in hers.  We’ve loss touch from time to time, but suddenly, she’d pop up, or there I’d be, and when that happened we’d just pick up from where we were last.  I have never had to perform a special feat to prove what she meant to me, and neither has she.  There are many women who are not this way, so if you have a relationship like this, hold onto it.  Recently, we just found each other again on Facebook, and the two of us are up to our old shenanigans, just more toned down, since we both have a few years behind us.

I think a friend is the dearest and most precious gift one has.  And even if, for whatever reason, it doesn’t appear that way at the moment; after life’s ups and downs and, roundabouts, when the dust settles and a person is still standing with at least one at their side I think they have been blessed.  No one stood at the hour of our birth with an injection opening our minds to stressful moments up ahead; to the fact that along our travels we would occasionally need a commandant with which to share intimacies – someone other than our significant others.  In addition, we were never told at a young age that is, that after reaching a certain point in life, if there were more than that one buddy standing nearby, then you truly had been visited by fortune.

I consider a true chum, a person that I am completely comfortable around.  I can talk to them about anything, and maybe not so much to give me advice, but just to listen – someone to cry with; literally, if needed.  Also, I don’t think it’s truly necessary to have many, many years behind that acquaintance – although we know that makes for an even deeper relationship.  But, what I’m saying is, I think two people must click at the first. Otherwise, they don’t have the similarity, and it takes a little more work to form a connection.

People meet in many ways.  I remember back to when my family moved from Brooklyn to Queens, I happened to be catapulted into an acquaintanceship with three other teenagers in the neighborhood.  As we got older, one moved away, and then, I got married.  I do recall us being pretty close, at least that’s what I thought at that time.  Then, through the years I looked at it again, and I realized the expectations of me were to follow, instead of allowing the slightest bit of my personality to stand out.  A true companion allows a person to be themselves – one won’t have to follow or lead.  Now, I understand those are the two categories with which people fall, but like a solid marriage, a concrete close tie will also bend and twist in order for both party’s qualities to shine.

This post came from my heart, as do they all.  But,  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about people who have come and gone, and those who have passed on, too soon; my childhood acquaintances, and who I’m left with at this moment.  So just consider this piece a composition praising friendships, and reminding everyone to cherish what you have in the true compadre you call a friend.  Do you have a life-long amigo that you wouldn’t trade for anything?

Photo courtesy of iStock Photo

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Developing Characters

Be Attentive

Be Attentive

 A writing buddy of mine, once mentioned going to Panera Bread with her laptop to write. Panera Bread is right up the street from my house, but this is something that has been so far from my thoughts it would have to be written in large bold letters, and waved in front of my face (that being a tweet). I don’t know why. Anyway, the instant I read the message, the switch flipped – I threw a hand to my forehead, and thought, man, am I a ditz or what? I haven’t made it there yet, but it is definitely about to become a part of my routine, since I love being out and about, writing and people watching. I want them so sick of me that in order to keep me away, they’ll have to stamp my card. I recall reading how Ernest Hemingway frequented the local bars and restaurants in Florida to do nothing more than observe folk. He also had a compulsion to incorporate things he noticed into his own made up characters. I always try to remember this whenever I’m out anywhere, since this has always been one of my favorite pass times.

Probably since I lived in New Jersey for so long two other writers come to mind; Albert Einstein and Orson Welles. Why do I bring up New Jersey when I mention these two greats? Because in case you didn’t know, Einstein used to frequent the Nassau Inn, which sits right on Nassau Street in Princeton, since he taught at the college. Secondly, Orson Welles lit a fire to his career with the infamous War Of The Worlds broadcast of a Martian invasion in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, which is a stones throw from Princeton. As I worked in this college town three years for a Manhattan based firm, I had the chance to get up close with these two locales. Having lunch one day at the Nassau Inn, I sat across from the wooden booth bearing Einstein’s name (it is said he carved it there). Although his works were philosophical, and not at all in the same genre as Welles or Hemingway, I still envisioned him taking in human behavior and writing on his note pad before he inscribed his name in the wood. I don’t know how Welles picked Grover’s Mill as the scene for his ruse, but he did. As a lover of the art of television, radio and the screen, he also had to have an inclination toward building personalities. Let’s think about some methods of constructing a character:

  • Watching while out having dinner or at the local watering hole;
  • Eating lunch in the park – there are others there enjoying their meal as well;
  • An oddball you remember from your past may make a controversial bad guy;
  • Friends who have lost touch;
  • Family members/Friend’s family members;
  • Boyfriends/girlfriends from the past; and
  • Growing LARGE ears and eavesdropping on nearby conversations as mannerisms are carried over into speech.

Those of us who have been around for some time know this, but are you newbies on your toes? One day my husband and I were having breakfast at the Seville Diner on Route 18 in East Brunswick when a large family across the way caught my eye. The father had three tea bags in his cup of water. Now, that’s not something you notice everyday. Of course, you know one of my people had to have that little oddity. As writers, we are attentive creatures; sometimes though, it’s not inbreed, some of us have to learn the trait. But, either way it is a critical part of creating riveting individuals in our work. Tell me how you go about devising/developing a personality?

Listen

Listen

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto

Information provided by Nassau Inn & Wikipedia

Don’t forget, if you haven’t contributed to the Hurricane Relief efforts, you can get to Red Cross from here, by clicking on the Globe with the Band-aid.  Everyone thanks you.

The Holidays Approacheth

Is Thanksgiving next week?  My head is spinning, because I just got up on April 30th, and hit the “public” button on my website.  At least, I thought I did.  Now, Memorial Day, 4th of July, the summer, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, and finally Veteran’s Day have all passed.  Is it age?  I remember the old folk saying to me as a young woman, just wait until you’re older, then the time really does fly.  I think when one is younger, they are so busy living and enjoying, they aren’t cognizant of time’s passage.  Of course, that’s an entirely different topic; one for another day.  As a high-ranking member of the Procrastinator’s Club, I have to say – each year I plan to do my gift shopping during the summer months and every time, there I am running around all of December trying to get it done.  Why don’t I ever learn?  But, for this upcoming holiday, I will take my two days to do some much-needed resting and allow someone else to do the cooking.

Moving on, has anyone reading this ever watched the show Love/Lust?  No, it’s not about that – it’s broadcast on The Sundance Channel, and each week they feature one other thing after which we on this planet love or lust.  The other day they discussed comfort foods.  The episode began with Mac & Cheese, then moved on to Pizza, Soul Food, Hamburgers, and finally the infamous Jewish Deli.  I said that to say, the holidays are a time when we all look for that familiar spread – each ethnicity to their own, and although some years I have stepped away from the traditional; I do find it kind of mandatory to enjoy my ethnic comforts at least once a year.  Even as I write this, I have to smile – I get giddy when I think of the Thanksgiving and Christmas eats, and depending on your nationality it could instead include Chanukah, Kwanzaa or whatever other day that’s celebrated in this time frame.  But these really are times when it’s almost obligatory to present the classic pacifiers.

However, food or not, “Tis the season” for getting together with family and friends –  making your way through some crowded airport or stuck in traffic on one or more of the many highways and byways; all to spend time with your folks.  Not to get off topic, but I just need to add a complaint.  I think every year industrialization pushes us one day – two days – one week further away from the beginning of the festivities by shoving their time clock in our faces.  I don’t know about where you live, but the local Rite-Aid by me, had December 25th items in the store the week of Halloween.  Someone left a joke on Facebook of a turkey screaming at Santa – “Okay, Fat Boy, get back in your sleigh and wait your turn,” (something to that effect).  Although, somewhat crude, I found it right on time, and a turkey after my own heart.  Over the years, statistics have proven that this approaching celebration is the busiest of all, since at Christmas most people are home with their children.  So, right now take a deep breath, slow down, enjoy the scenery, and let’s operate on our own time clocks.  Now, although it’s a whole week away – have a happy.

Don’t forget – mosey on up to my Facebook Fan Page and click “like” if you’re here.  Thanks.

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto

Developing Characters

Be Attentive

One week or so ago, a writing buddy mentioned going to Panera Bread with her laptop to write.  Panera Bread is right up the street from my house, but this is something that has been so far from my thoughts it would have to be written in large bold letters, and waved in front of my face (that being a tweet).  I don’t know why.  Anyway, the instant I read the message, the switch flipped – I threw a hand to my forehead, and thought, man, am I a ditz or what?  I haven’t made it there yet, but it is definitely about to become a part of my routine, since I love being out and about, writing and people watching.  I want them so sick of me that in order to keep me away, they’ll have to stamp my card.  I recall reading how Ernest Hemingway frequented the local bars and restaurants in Florida to do nothing more than observe folk.  He also had a compulsion to incorporate things he noticed into his own made up characters.  I always try to remember this whenever I’m out anywhere, since this has always been one of my favorite pass times.

Probably since I lived in New Jersey for so long two other writers come to mind; Albert Einstein and Orson Welles.  Why do I bring up New Jersey when I mention these two greats?  Because in case you didn’t know, Einstein used to frequent the Nassau Inn, which sits right on Nassau Street in Princeton, since he taught at the college.  Secondly, Orson Welles lit a fire to his career with the infamous War Of The Worlds broadcast of a Martian invasion in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, which is a stones throw from Princeton.  As I worked in this college town three years for a Manhattan based firm, I had the chance to get up close with these two locales.  Having lunch one day at the Nassau Inn,  I sat across from the wooden booth bearing Einstein’s name (it is said he carved it there).  Although his works were philosophical, and not at all in the same genre as Welles or Hemingway, I still envisioned him taking in human behavior and writing on his note pad before he inscribed his name in the wood.  I don’t know how Welles picked Grover’s Mill as the scene for his ruse, but he did.  As a lover of the art of television, radio and the screen, he also had to have an inclination toward building personalities.  Let’s think about some methods of constructing a character:

  • Watching while out having dinner or at the local watering hole;
  • Eating lunch in the park – there are others there enjoying their meal as well;
  • An oddball you remember from your past may make a controversial bad guy;
  • Friends who have lost touch;
  • Family members/Friend’s family members;
  • Boyfriends/girlfriends from the past;
  • Growing LARGE ears and eavesdropping on nearby conversations as mannerisms are carried over into speech.

Those of us who have been around for some time know this, but are you newbies on your toes?  One day my husband and I were having breakfast at the Seville Diner on Route 18 in East Brunswick when a large family across the way caught my eye.  The father had three tea bags in his cup of water.  Now, that’s not something you notice everyday.  Of course, you know one of my people had to have that little oddity.  As writers, we are attentive creatures; sometimes though, it’s not inbreed, some of us have to learn the trait.  But, either way it is a critical part of creating riveting individuals in our work.  Tell me how you go about devising/developing a personality?

Listen

Don’t forget to click “LIKE” on my Facebook Fan Page at the top right of this page, and thank you.

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto

Information provided by Nassau Inn & Wikipedia

Long Road Trips

As a child I spent lots of time on the road from New York to Virginia, and from Virginia to New York; occasionally on the train, but mostly by car.  I remember Rt. 301 before I95 ever came along.  In fact, other than Rt. 1, no other direct means existed.  I also recall that dreaded William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge through Maryland, which by the way, has changed its appearance completely from the old days.  Along with that bridge came the Verrazano-Narrows and the Goethals.  Now, depending on what direction my father chose determined which of the later two spans we took. But regardless they are still what I consider nightmares of my youth.  In my first children’s book, I decided to give the main character, Lally Summers a fear of bridges – since she is very close to my heart.

Being a child, those excursions for me had the impression of the longest road trip ever, and unlike most people, I did them without siblings.  Therefore, my parents/grandparents didn’t have to endure the “Would you stop touching me?” scenario.  Because they were long for me, I used to play games like checking out the farthest scenery.  I would stand on the hump in the middle of the floor, in back – remember those – and peer through the windshield as far ahead as possible, marking a spot.  I’d watch the highway until we got there, and then, I’d begin again.  I did this until I wore myself out.  As an adult, my husband and I have made that same journey many, many times.  Occasionally, during his turn to drive I have found myself playing that same game.  Then, I’d realize what I had been doing and, I’d chuckle at myself.

Recently, we went to Disney World from here in Virginia.  We chose to drive, because we thought it would be fun, since neither of us had explored the land anywhere south of North Carolina.  As always the adrenaline rush, due to our excitement, shortened the ride down.  Now, although we had the best time – halfway through the week we could only think of our return home.  FYI: I would say from a bit south of Washington, D.C. all the way to the Rt. 4W exit off of I95, the scenery is completely unchanging.  Therefore, do yourself a favor, and fly.  You would think that as an adult I’d have a hint the games of a six-year-old, simply helped pass the long hours.  So, what does one do as an adult?

Talk about long hours in the car, we have many friends who have driven from New York/New Jersey to Florida where they split the driving, and make it in twenty-four hours.  But, as I go back and recall my childhood game – it simply tells me, I wanted to be elsewhere.  Being cooped up in that tiny space created a world of anxiety.  Now, with all that in mind, why would that same person long for, yearn a cross-country trip?  Fourteen hours from here to Florida is one thing, but three thousand-plus miles?  Solution: Find something of interest in each state; map out so many miles per day, and lastly, set aside three months at least to do it all.  What’s the old adage – It’ll cure the itch or….  Share your extreme car outings with me.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Bridge Information courtesy of Wikipedia

In Praise of Friendships

I have a friend that has been my compadre for thirty-seven years.  I’d like to call her my “partner in crime.”  Now, along the way I have had other pals, which I now consider more as acquaintances.  I’m sure we have all had people who started out as a companion, but somewhere along the way something happened – they went in one direction, and we went another.  My thirty-seven year bud has been there through integral times in my life, as well as I in her days.  We’ve loss touch from time to time, but suddenly, there she is or there I am, and when this happens we just pick up from where we were last.  I don’t have to perform special feats to prove what she means to me, and neither does she.  Of course, for the most part, women are that way.  Am I right?  Recently, we just found each other again on Facebook, and the two of us are up to our old shenanigans, just more toned down, since we both have some years behind us.

I think a friend is the dearest and most precious gift one could have.  And even if, for whatever reason, it doesn’t appear that way at the moment; after life’s ups and downs and, roundabouts – when the dust settles and a person is still standing with at least one at their side, I think they have been blessed.  No one stood at the hour of our birth with an injection opening our minds to stressful moments up ahead; to the fact that along our travels we would occasionally need a commandant with which to share intimacies – someone other than our significant others.  Also, we were never told, at a young age that is, that after reaching a certain point in life, if there were more than that one buddy standing nearby, then one truly had been visited by fortune.

I consider a true chum, a person that I am completely comfortable around.  I can talk to them about anything, and maybe not so much to give me advice versus just being there to listen – someone to cry with; literally, if needed.  Also, I don’t think it’s truly necessary to have many, many years behind you – although we know that makes for an even deeper relationship.  But, what I’m saying is, I think two people must click at the first. Otherwise, they don’t have the similarity, and it takes a little more work to form a connection.

People meet in many ways.  I remember back to when my family moved from Brooklyn to Queens, I happened to be catapulted into an acquaintanceship with three other teenagers in the neighborhood.  As we got older, one moved away, and then, I got married.  I do recall us being pretty close, at least that’s what I thought at that time.  Then, through the years, I looked at it again, and I realized the expectations of me were to follow, instead of allowing the slightest bit of my personality to stand out.  A true companion allows a person to be themselves – one won’t have to follow or lead.  Now, I understand those are the two categories with which people fall, but like a solid marriage, a concrete close tie will also bend and twist so that both party’s qualities can shine through.

Please understand this is in no way preaching or to make anyone believe me to be a Doctor of Philosophy or a Doctor of Psychology.  I have simply been doing a lot of thinking about people who have come and gone – about two other people with whom I had a bond, and have passed on, too soon; my childhood acquaintances, and who I’m left with at this moment.  So just consider this piece a composition praising friendships, and reminding everyone to cherish what you have in the true compadre you call a friend.  I would enjoy hearing more tales of life-long amigos.

Photo courtesy of iStock Photo

Life Is But A Breath

In watching the weather channel, and understanding that summer has arrived, we began talking about growing up with large families.  My husband mentioned that his parents would throw all seven children in the back of their 1954 Blue Chevrolet Bel Air with no air conditioning, and drive everyone off to their aunt’s house.  Of course, a 1954 Chevy anything back then probably equaled the size of a 2011 General Motors Yukon Denali today.

But, it sparked the topic of big family units.  Myself, together with two of my closest friends were the only daughters born to our parents, and I have always been a bit envious of sizeable ones.  Let’s face it, with so many siblings the chum factor is built-in.    Although, it’s been explained to me that not all of them get along.  Each person has a favorite; I find that a tad strange.  Coming from a single child home, I’ve been told I have no idea.  My defense, I always seem to need one when this topic arises and I guess that is my ghost, but, for a while I lived with a cousin and we were very close, like being born of the same mother.  But, my significant other’s head begins to wag as he insinuates, no – nope – not the same.  I understand it has something to do with being from the same womb.  Pff…what do I know.

But let’s discuss large versus small.  In the first group there are no leftovers to serve for dinner; bedrooms are shared; some may have to forfeit Christmas gifts, and when eating out they’re usually made to drink water, since anything over four sodas is costly.  On the other hand, in a one kid house, the same thing is served until it’s gone – two or three nights even; the individual has their own bedroom; tons of gifts for Christmas, and as much soda as they want.  Is everyone getting the picture?  And, of course, my preference would be to have at least one other soul with which to share memories of mother.

We have a set of cohorts where the husband is from an enormous brood, and he makes fun of his wife by saying her relatives could have their family reunion in a coat closet.  Well, guess what, so could mine.  His on the other hand rents three or four beach houses.  Has anyone seen these beach properties?  They sleep ten – twelve – fifteen people.  My co-worker has theirs at Disney and rents a block of rooms.

By now, we’ve established that many brothers and sisters add up to numerous pals, which in turn is equivalent to countless bodies in the house at any given time.  I remember my mother-in-law’s house at – let’s say Independence Day or Labor Day.  Those times spelled  giant outings; cronies of seven people, including the parent’s buddies, and by the time I came along that meant grandchildren and their comrades as well.  Whew!  That’s a lot of folk.  Now, back before myself, and the grand’s that still came up to a vast amount.  But, what I remember most of my mother-in-law is that she loved – loved having a crowd around, the bigger the number the happier it made her.  I guess that’s the thinking pattern when you make the decision to have four or more offspring.  All in all, added youngsters mean extra aunts and uncles, which comes down to a great quantity of cousins, other relatives, and lastly a whole bunch of acquaintances.  Summing it up, not only am I jealous, but I’m developing a migraine.

Digesting what I’ve discussed here, I can say that what I have learned through the years is that life certainly takes on a different meaning when they begin to lose each other.  For someone like me, who grew up as an only child and all the stuff that comes along with that label, it saddens me when I hear of siblings who have gone years without speaking.  By the time we reach a certain age, we have to grasp the reality that life is but a breath.

Photo courtesy of iStock Photo