Monday, April 23, 2012

Redux for Debut: When the Moon Is Gibbous and Waxing

The opportunity to repeat a past post couldn't have come at a better time. I just got line edits for my novel, and the publisher wants them returned this week, so I don't have time to write a brand new post. (Yes, I'm a slow writer. You probably suspected that, since my posts usually come in barely under the wire.) So what better post to repeat than the first page of said novel? 

When Natalie recorded the final reading for the blood she had drawn from her guinea pigs that afternoon and looked up from her meticulous notes, she realized how quiet the lab was. No wonder. The clock over the door read 11:30. Once again she’d lost herself in her research so completely she’d stayed far past the building’s official closing time. She sighed. If she didn’t leave soon, the janitors would be knocking on the door to chase her out. They got a little testy when students interfered with their work.
She quickly gathered all the slides she had prepared and cataloged them for later study in case she found something she wanted to revisit. When she slipped into her denim jacket and walked out of the lab into the dim, silent hall, the hands on the clock were nearly touching twelve.
As Natalie stepped out of the building, the moist south wind clutched at her jeans and the long braid of her hair, making her struggle for balance. Dead leaves skittered around her feet, then escaped into the darkness across the parking lot. She glanced up and shivered. The full moon always made her anxious. When she was a child, her grandmother sometimes sat up with her until she finally drifted off to sleep—often well after midnight.
            Natalie's eyes misted over. Grammy had died six months ago, and Natalie felt foolish still getting weepy at every thought of her. But Grammy had been Natalie’s only family, and her sudden death left Natalie feeling very alone.
            The feeling of aloneness hovered over Natalie as she walked toward the ‘78 Omni at the far end of the back parking lot. The ten-year-old Plymouth was the only car left. Back here, the full moon's silver light was lost in blacktop, leaving only swarthy ponds created by lights in widely spaced medians.
            Then the feeling of aloneness was gone, replaced by an eerie presence of evil behind her and to the right near a clump of trees. Fear tightened her stomach.
            Natalie walked faster. She glanced back over her shoulder. You're being silly. It’s just the full moon. But her heart continued to pound, and gooseflesh crawled up her thighs. Absorbed in her fear, she stumbled over a pile of damp leaves. The musty smell nearly made her gag. Light glinted off little patches of moisture on the blacktop. She glanced back again.
            Two men had stepped out of the trees and were following her across the parking lot. She gasped and started to run. Get to the car. Just a few seconds. That’s all I need. But now they, too, were running. She could hear their breathing as they drew closer. She reached for the door handle.
            The car was locked. Frantically she tried to open it, but the keys slipped from her shaking hand. As the crash of their fall reverberated in her skull, she smelled the men's excitement and knew they were reaching for her. She sobbed.           
            Then her fear grew cold, and colder, until it became anger and turned to heat that ran through her body like fire, and she realized she had nothing to fear as she turned to meet her attackers.

When the Moon Is Gibbous and Waxing by Angela Parson Myers is scheduled to be electronically published about the middle of next month by Etopia Press.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Now That I'm Not Trying to Write About Home

I‘m sitting at my dining room table, which has somehow morphed into an office (we eat here only on special occasions), spending more time looking out the big glass doors to the deck than I am writing. The skies are overcast, and the wind is spinning the CDs our neighbor strung up to keep deer out of his garden. I’ve given up writing a blog on “home” because another Sunday has brought another subject, and I still can’t decide what “home” means to me.

I actually started thinking about this shortly after my husband and I retired and he brought up the possibility of moving “home,” meaning the area where we were reared. (We grew up not 10 miles from one another.) I told him I’d miss him.

The house where he grew up no longer stands, yet he feels some kind of deep connection to the land. I do not. Many times I’ve driven past the house where I spent most of my childhood (photo left) and asked myself what I’d do if it was put on the market now that I’m no longer required to leave my house to work. I don’t think I’d feel the need to act.

I can’t help but wonder if the vagabond nature of my very early life caused me to grow such shallow roots. I spent more time on trains than on terra firma the first couple of years, then lived in rented houses until after I started kindergarten. My husband was brought home after he was born to the same house where he and I were married twenty years later.

What does he feel that I lack? I think the concept of “home” must be of a magical place where you feel you belong and are at peace. The house I live in now (photo left) is the fourteenth place my husband and I have lived since we married. It’s a humble but comfortable house with a good vibe, and I like to come back to it after I’ve been away. But it lacks that magic, that peace. I’ve felt that only one place in my life—at the old resort in the Missouri Ozarks where my family sometimes spent long weekends.

And that, my friends, is a blog for another day.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

They Say It Skips a Generation

You can fill in the “it” blank with any number of things. Let’s use—oh, say—dancing.
My mother, I’m told, was a heck of a jitterbug dancer as a teenager. My younger daughter took every kind of dance class she could find and excelled in all of them. Guess where that leaves me?

Yep. Middle generation. Two left feet.

Back in the dark ages when I was in middle school (they called it junior high back then) ballroom dancing was part of the PE curriculum. The only requirement was that I learn to move my feet according to pages the teacher handed out. On the pages were pictures of feet connected by dotted lines with numbers showing position one, position two, etc. I can close my eyes and still see those patterns. What I had trouble with were the numbers. This led to some interesting moves on my part and some very unhappy, wounded partners.

There was also this thing about leading that I just didn’t get. If we both memorized those pictures, why would one person have to lead? And why did they call it leading when the “leader” usually was actually pushing. And, by the way, what’s with the leader being the guy, anyway? Why didn’t we at least take turns? That seemed fair, though I knew without a doubt we’d both do much better if girls led. Eventually I learned, though, and developed enough grace to earn a firm C on my report card.

I justified my clumsiness by telling myself I just took after my dad, who had never danced a day in his life. Then, as he and my mother neared retirement age, she finally talked him into taking ballroom dance lessons. My memory of my father from my childhood was of him in khakis and ankle-high work boots, resisting dance classes with every bone in his body. Now in his 50s, he bought dress shoes with leather soles to slide over wood and brightly colored dress clothes to go dancing. He got so good, in fact, that other couples would stand aside to watch him and my ex-jitterbugging mother sweep over the floor to the tune of “Dance Across Texas,” which became “their” song.  I was orphaned, left-feet-wise.

Still, I wasn’t really bothered. I hadn’t needed to dance so far and probably never would. Then, as I approached middle age and had given birth to two kids, I started putting on weight. I knew it was time to put aside my distaste for sweat and find that life-long exercise program I had so carefully ignored to this point. And the studio where my daughter took dance was offering belly dancing…oops…make that “Middle Eastern tribal dance” lessons. Sounded like fun, and at least nobody had to lead.

We learned hip movements first: vertical figure 8, horizontal figure 8, around the world… No problem. I could even roll my stomach and shimmy. I’d finally found a form of dance I could do! Then we learned arm movements. Nothing too complicated: arms in kind of a hula position, arms in front, click those little finger cymbals. Cool!

Ok, now move the hips and arms at the same time... Say what? The lessons ended and I still could dance with my hips or dance with my arms, but I could not dance with both at the same time. For years I looked back at that experience with some bemusement. An anomaly, surely. After all, I can pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time—even rub my head and pat my stomach. Although—that is just hands…

Then, a year or two ago, I tried my hand at tai-chi….

Yeah, it definitely skips a generation.