Young Love

4074137_sIn a tweet somewhere along the way, I know I mentioned that we have a sixteen-year-old working at my office for the summer.  I have to admit, both my co-worker and myself were not that thrilled about this.  It’s not that we don’t like young people, but we were worried we’d have to do more babysitting than anything else.  It came as a surprise to me actually, when I found out my co-worker had the same attitude as I; mainly because she is such a social person.  I, on the other hand – the older I become – the more reclusive.  Yes, I said it.  I have only recently admitted this out loud.  I may even be headed toward that “Finding Forrester” character, you know the withdrawn writer?  Well, maybe not that unsociable, but let’s just say, I do fine working on my laptop or desktop for hours – not having the need for human interaction.

How is it that I always manage to drift off topic?  Okay, reining in my thoughts.  Keeping in mine what I said earlier, this young one has somehow attached herself to me.  One day last week, she had the need to come to me and spill her friend’s guts.  Seems her sixteen-year-old best friend is topsy-turvy over a nineteen year old.  And, as if that weren’t bad enough, he recently left for duty at some military installation in Texas.  Not to mention her parents are not happy with it.  If you are a parent, young, or otherwise, think about it for a minute.  You have a baby girl, or a fifteen year old; you cringe every time you hear a scenario such as this.  But, I’ve been sixteen, and wonky over someone older; a person I could not have.  I know you’re asking, yes?  Maybe not, but anyway, my favorite aunt had a new beau – a thirty year old from the island of Jamaica. And, can I just say, more gorgeous than you could ever imagine.  I couldn’t sleep, or eat for days.  But, what could I do?  Not only would my parents have had a cow, he belonged to my favorite aunt.  And, right now I’m thinking a fourteen year difference? WOW!  At this moment, I cannot for the life of me remember how I managed to get over it.  But, we do, don’t we?

This is that first love for this young person.  Can you remember him or her?  It’s funny; I belong to Romance Writers of America, which consists of hundreds of writers, all writing, and wanting to pen that unmistakable love story.  What I’m getting at is, all through the ages – from the beginning of time, up to today none of this has changed. Right?  Love is love, and no matter how you tell the story it’s all for the same reason.  Its human nature, something for which we were all designed.  However, my new little buddy is surprisingly focused.  All by herself, she came up with a solution.  She decided to talk to her friend about backing off for a bit. Then, I reminded her that at nineteen, there is a strong possibility this young man would not keep the relationship exclusive.  Funny, when she reported back to me a few days later, the friend thought the exact same thing; another dilemma averted.  And, just in time, because the military decided to send a nice little letter to the girl’s parents. I didn’t ask why, I didn’t need to know that.

I know there are many people who marry their high school sweethearts, and that’s fine for them.  Actually, there is definitely something special about both parties who can have, and hold onto such a relationship.  But, my philosophy is this:  We all grow, and most times not at the same speed.  When I think back to my first love, in order for us to have stayed together, I would have had to remain in the same neighborhood, and associate with the same circle of people – restricting my growth, if you will.  What does that do? It causes intense resentment.  My parents taught me at an early age to always search, and keep searching. When you do that, you, at the same time, grow, which makes it easier to distinguish what it is you really want and/or need.  Granted, I am somewhat envious of those who have married their high school honeys, and they are both the same now, as they were then.  But, you see, that’s the catch – being the same now as you had been so many years ago. Because of what my parents taught, there is no way I could have lasted.

As for my new little friend and her “BFF,” they have so much lying ahead of them.  They both have their sights set on college, and the one at my office is talking law school.  As long as she doesn’t get hit with what I’ve heard called, “The Thunderbolt,” she should do just fine.  Did you marry your first love, or that love from high school?

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Culture and the Movies

12668631_sI had this post marinating in my blog post folder for some time, but since I had culture on my mind this week – I figured, why not. What brought about these thoughts? On Sunday, instead of writing, I curled up on the sofa, and spent the afternoon watching, Out of Africa. Just as I’ll also do when I find another one of my favorites being shown, Fiddler on the Roof. I will put everything on hold to watch – yes, for the umpteenth time. Yes, I have watched a movie or two in my life, but do we have to turn to a foreign film, or the Cannes Film Festival to find the culture any longer? My husband always has a difficult time understanding my junior and senior years of high school, because my classes, I guess, leaned more toward Liberal Arts. Why do I mention this?  Because I attribute those high school years to igniting the cultural sense that completes me. For instance, instead of Physical Education, I had Modern Dance where we learned interpretive moves to the music of West Side Story and Dave Brubeck’s Take Five; even though that composition hit the shelves as I gave up formula. From there I sauntered over to the music room. In there I began my love affair with strings in what they labeled, Music Appreciation. Finally, I had Journalism, which took me to the Associated Press Club, and Reuters; not so academic, but definitely preparing the mind culturally. I think back in the day, especially in the north-east, schools were big on exposing students in a way to enlighten and polish.

What do you think of when you hear the word culture? Does it bring about thoughts of your heritage. Nowadays, I guess it’s politically correct to proclaim ones ethnic background. I mean, celebrities do it all the time. My lineage is of African-American, Native American and Scottish descent. But if that had become public knowledge many years ago my grandfather would have given birth to a literal cow. However, it has never been something that bothered me. Why do I bring this up, and what does this all have to do with a classical movie? What you’ve been exposed to over time. When you settle in to watch a movie such as Out of Africa does that mean your nationality has to be one of European decent? I don’t believe so, but I do think what you’ve been exposed to over time, plus one’s background will produce such an end. But, for me, I would definitely have to attribute those beginnings to high school again.

Please forgive me if I’m rambling, I merged two different posts, attempting to make one point. Anyway, with all that said, I also caught The Last Voyage on American Movie Classics (AMC) not long ago, which is another fine Hollywood classic. Who do we thank for these wonderful works? The actors and actresses, the powerhouse directors/producers; the novelists/writers who gave birth to the book/screenplay? The three movies I mentioned earlier, definitely set my brain to recall the best of Hollywood. Yes, I love to read, but I love a good old movie as well as the next person, and especially if they’re classic. Because of my cultural exposure in school, I wouldn’t trade any of that teaching for anything.

Let me end by saying, the task of breaking down the best from the list did not prove at all easy, but I have noted a few of my all time favorites?  Okay, thirty. Are any of these on your list? And, let me warn you, I’ve reached way-way back for some:

  • Dark Victory – 1939
  • Wuthering Heights – 1939
  • Cabin In The Sky – 1943
  • Rhapsody In Blue – 1945
  • Mildred Pierce – 1945
  • The Big Country – 1946
  • The Best Years Of Our Lives – 1946
  • The Ghost & Mrs. Muir – 1947
  • The Snake Pit – 1948
  • Bird Of Paradise – 1951
  • Moby Dick – 1956
  • Carousel (Musical) – 1956
  • Peyton Place – 1957
  • South Pacific (Musical) – 1958
  • Imitation of Life – 1959 Version
  • The Last Voyage – 1960
  • Fanny – 1961
  • West Side Story (Musical) – 1961
  • To Kill A Mockingbird – 1962
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane – 1962
  • Lilies Of The Field – 1963
  • Fate Is The Hunter – 1964
  • Dr. Zhivago – 1965
  • A Patch Of Blue – 1965
  • Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte – 1965
  • Bonnie & Clyde – 1967
  • To Sir With Love – 1967
  • Funny Girl (Musical) – 1968
  • Fiddler On The Roof (Musical) – 1971
  • Out of Africa – 1985

Haven’t we all watched a movie or two? After a look at my list, do you have any that I may have missed, and are your favorite?

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The Price of A Bullet

When I thought to write of this latest school shooting, I said to myself – do I really want to take on this topic?  But, the brain would not go another route.  So, here I am, out here in the dark, possibly headed in a bad direction.  But, here goes.  Another traumatic and sorrowful event in the halls of learning outside of Cleveland, Ohio has grabbed our attention.  Yet the latest fatalities to plague our already fragile children.  We are well aware, this is not the first such incident as this, however, I certainly hope it is the last.  My only child is done with her years of education, but I cannot imagine having this type of news given me, and I then, had to rush off, praying each mile I drove that all remained well with her.  If you are an older person reading this post, think back if you will.  It’s the ’60s or ’70s, and you have some type of run in with another student.  Maybe it’s something where a young woman/young man, someone you already disliked, talked to your boyfriend/girlfriend or some uninvited person took your seat at the cool table.  There may have been some inappropriate pushing and shoving, but the worst of it would have involved a promise to meet after, where one or the other would certainly have his or her butt kicked around a bit.  And, the most dreaded of this would surely mean it all would take place in front of a host of other students.  Excuse me, but what happened to those days?  Is it not fashionable to go home any longer with a black eye or a bleeding lip.  Can I simply ask, when it went to carrying guns.  I don’t know about you, but it outrages me to think of metal detectors in these corridors – what has happened to society?  Let me also add, I’m not condoning violence of any kind, I would simply have my child come home with a bloody nose, than not come home at all.  Am I right?

I remember my husband and I having a conversation about Hip Hop/Rap music.  We both came to the conclusion that in order to put us in the category of our parents, moving us into old age, times had to become drastically different.  But, I’m left asking, does that also include the sanctity of school.  We all know it’s already difficult being a teenager – so many changes going on, but shouldn’t this be a happy place.  And, yes I understand this is not happening because some deranged person came in from the street to inflict harm on our children – these occurrences have been due to students, someone already in attendance.  My next question would have to be, have times become so drastically changed that we’ve also lost touch with our young people?  I recognize in this age, things are certainly difficult with all the social networking, which has led to more out-and-out open assaults – one child to another, but would it seriously make you a bad parent or an old-fashioned one to tighten the screws. And who cares as long as it got the job done.  Yes, I also understand that’s not always the case.  Also, we cannot attach ourselves to our offspring ever hour they are awake.  But when, where and how did things get to this point?  When did the meaning of life become the same as the price of a bullet?  I guess my question is, what is the correct answer?

As adults we are aware how mean children are to each other – this is something a child won’t recognize.  But, are we not supposed to pass down the same learning we received from our parents?  Have we become so caught up in problems outside the home that we cannot catch sight of a predicament happening right under our nose?  I think morals has a lot to do with it; the ones going down the drain, taking our families with it, as well as this country.  Just imagine for a minute – how horrible would it be to have a belief system set in place for that son or daughter?  Okay, here and again, one of them slips under that wire as well.  But, for the most part, I think that is still the better way to go.  Last week, a sister writer, Jenn Nixon, wrote her blog on bullying, probably for the same reason I’m writing this.  She mentioned how she had been harassed in her young years.  For a short time, I myself came under this intimidation.  Bullying has been around since the stone ages.  In fact, I had tons of photos to search through on the topic, and I must say just perusing them caused me to become nauseous. Jenn, and I both understand now, the problem did not lie with us.  However, how does a young mind accept that the attacker has difficulty with jealousy or self-esteem, while in the throes of a provocation, even if it has been explained to the attackee over and over.

There have been groups formed to combat this problem, “No Bullying” signs put up, as well as other measures, I am sure.  But I must say these troubles begin at home.  Unfortunately, school is becoming, more and more, the place where these dysfunctions are exploding.  It is an awful thing for a stable child to suffer, and have to deal with the wrath of another person’s malfunction  – with their life or simply by coping with the mental stress on them, and their friends.  I’m leaving the floor open – what do you think the answer should be? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Listen While You Work

Musical Energy

Today, I’d like to talk about listening to music as you write.  I’ve been finding more and more articles with regard to this topic.  An author who will remain nameless, said something to the effect that if a person could do that, they only listened, and didn’t write; he thought they lied if they said it helped.  I think, and I’m the first person to say we need to edify each other, but that comment sounds light years from the truth.  What’s that old saying about music, and the savage breast?  I believe it kind of works in that fashion – eases the mind, and allows the thoughts to flow effortlessly.  What about those helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon that pipe in the classical compositions – that’s how I envision inspiration for my own masterpiece.  I always find myself struggling for words or stream of thought when I’m left to silence.  I remember reading that Pope John Paul II said, “Music is my only sin.”  I do not believe this is a sin, I understand the arts being here for our enjoyment – what would this world be without your favorite artist.  But, I would in no way want to dispute the Pope, that’s just my opinion.

Therefore, when the words won’t come – when it’s like extracting deep-rooted wisdom teeth, I find breaking out the Cleveland Orchestra, and their version of Rhapsody in Blue or Joshua Bell on his violin playing Song to The Moon from Rusalka relaxing, and calming to the point of productivity.  However, those choices are just me, and believe it when I say, they are also just the tip of my musical iceberg. My mother introduced me to  the industry at a very young age, then in high school, Music Appreciation helped to smooth over the rough edges.  Being accustomed to cleaning the house to it, and getting that job done so much faster, why wouldn’t adding this to the challenge of sculpting that great American novel assist in purging those artful words lying dormant in the back of your mind.

My husband knows how much I love the stuff, so when he purchased my laptop, an iPod came along.  I can’t imagine working without that little gadget.  Nowadays we don’t have to “whistle while we work,” we simply plug ourselves in.  It’s a funny thing though, each day you must perform the test.  On one occasion, classical gets the words flowing, but the next day it could be easy listening, contemporary jazz or soft rock.  It’s always like a treasure hunt, but with tunes.  I found in 1999, when writing that first novel, a love scene would not be a love scene without the right melody.  Usually, I have to go back in time though, and retrieve the Old School Love Songs; they always seem to work best for me.  After I learned that, it carried over, and became mandatory with every scene.  But, I will admit, anything above soft rock – dance tunes, for instance – will not work; they would only have you dancing, and I don’t think a person can do the latest dance moves while trying to write, for crying out loud.

I’ve learned there really is a science to applying the mood of the song to the disposition of the scene.  For instance, if the day is to construct a heart-wrenching setting – say a situation of unrequited love, one wouldn’t tune in to Sammy Hagar’s, I Can’t Drive 55 or Jay Z’s latest hip hop release.  I know that’s silly, I only mentioned that to make a point, and not to insult anyone’s intelligence. But, regardless, your brain will tell you what’s right for the moment.  Sometimes I can get stuck in my Pop/Vocal category for days, and although I’m singing and tapping my toes, the words are still falling on the page.  Because the thing is, you know the song – you don’t have to think about it.  Then, you’re free to consider what the character in your story is going to say next – all at the same time.  Is that ambidexterity?  Making you the ultimate multi-tasker?  Like a Ninja thinker, huh?  Hey, has that been scientifically proven?  If not, a scientist somewhere should get to work on that.  For one, I’d like to know.  So, what am I listening to now – I am, like I said, stuck in that Pop/Vocal category.  Okay, specifically?  I’ve got a mix of Randy Crawford, Barbara Streisand, Adele, Basia, Norah Jones, Gipsy Kings, India Arie, and Michael Jackson, to name a few.  Can you say eclectic? Now, I can’t give you all the statistics on who listens, and who doesn’t or why one should or should not.  But, if you don’t, at least – maybe, I can spark an interest or at least set your mind to the wonder mode.  Take the time to leave a comment on what tunes get your creativity flowing.  In the meantime, I’d like to end this week’s post with a profound quote from the Nineteenth Century English Novelist, Arnold Bennett with his synopsis of this art:  Its language is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate.  Happy listening.

Info on Arnold Bennett courtesy of Wikipedia

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