Monday, September 20, 2010

Time to Celebrate!!

I passed a bit of a milestone a few weeks back:  On September 1st, 2009, I officially started this blog! My husband had been encouraging me to exercise my writing skills, and assured me that this would be a great way to start.  So, nervously, I did!!

I thought I'd post that very first entry today, as a belated anniversary celebration. I must tell you, I was TERRIFIED!  I figured no one would care about my silly stories, and I felt so vulnerable sending them out into the blogosphere!  I was so sure I'd get nothing but negative feedback, I initially disabled the comments option.

What I found, instead, was this lovely, encouraging blogging community that has been so wonderfully supportive through every step of the way!  Thanks to ALL of you!  I really, really appreciate it!

So much has changed in just one short year since I started this blog.  A year ago, I had just moved to York, PA, and my Dad was relatively healthy, living a happy life of retirement with my Mom in Florida.  Today, I live in Nashville, TN, and my Dad has passed away.  I'm so grateful I was able to record some of the wonderful memories of Dad on this blog, for all eternity.  Although he never read any of my stories, I'm certain he'd be proud of the words I've written here.

So, here it is, my first entry, from one year ago.  Can't you just HEAR my knees knocking?...

In The Beginning...

So, I've decided to join the ranks of Those-Who-Think-They-Can-Write-And-Who-Also-Think-That-Others-May-Even-Want-To-Read-Their-Stuff! Thanks to my husband Alan's gentle urging and reassurance that my technologically-challenged brain can actually maneuver this baby, I officially throw my hat into the literary ring.

So, here's my story: I'm a 45 year old white female, raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. It was in school there that I received my first creative writing assignments and discovered that I really enjoyed completing them. In seventh grade, my english teacher read one of my fiction essays out loud to the class. I was both mortified and completely jazzed. My mom bought me a thesaurus for my birthday. I was going to be the next Ernest Hemingway.

Then I was cast as the lead in Nordonia High School's musical production of "Anything Goes." That was it. My thesaurus never stood a chance. I became a musical theater major at Syracuse University, graduated, and began my quest for the great Broadway Stage. What I didn't figure on was how miserable I'd be living in New York City. I hated it. I gave it a few good years, did a few decent shows and somehow ended-up moving to Orlando, Florida. I spent sixteen years there, thirteen of them doing the Terminator 2/3D show at Universal Studios. It was a fantastic, awesome gig, and I loved every minute of it.

But, my stud of a husband (you'll hear more about him in later entries) got promoted, which brings us here to our new current residence in York, PA. So, with the lights of the theater fading behind me now, I keep spotting that old worn thesaurus out of the corner of my eye. It beckons me to give my first love a try. I decided to listen.

The name of my blog is a nostalgic nod to something my grumpy, old, Irish dad used to say. He had a lot of sayings: "Hit the Bricks!" (Get Out of Here!), "Tough Tarantula!" (Sucks to Be You!), or "Not too shabby!" (You did good, kid. I am proud of you!). When he was fishing off the deck of his beloved boat, a can of Pepsi in hand on a sunny afternoon, he'd lean back in his chair and say, "I wonder what the poor people are doing today!" But my favorite Jack Donnelly quote growing up was the classic, "Anything Fits a Naked Man." Simple, but true, no? Hard to complain when you're in need!

It is with that quote in mind that I undertake this new adventure. I'm just going to test the creative writing waters once again, naked as I am! Hope you enjoy...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Showing Up

This won't be a long post today.  I just wanted to drop in and thank all of you for your kind, supportive words regarding my Dad's death.

To all my dear friends and acquaintances from out of town who called, e-mailed, facebooked, and sent lovely hand-written notes, thank you.  I can't tell you how much it means to me.

You should've seen Dad's wake.   There wasn't an empty parking space at the funeral home, because so many people came to pay their respects to this brother, uncle, friend, colleague, and teacher they knew and loved.

Dad's former students were the ones that touched me the most. You may remember from an earlier post that Dad was a high school shop teacher for several years (although he hated that term, and insisted we call it "Industrial Arts.").  His students were often not the most  academically gifted in the school, but Dad's class offered them a chance to excel at something else; working with their hands and creating something to be proud of.

Imagine how much it meant to my siblings and I to have these grown men approach us as we stood next to Dad's casket, and tell us how profoundly Dad affected their lives.  They could have bought a sympathy card at the grocery store, signed their names at the bottom, and mailed it to the house.  But they didn't.  They showed up. And I'll never forget it.

They put on suits and uncomfortable shoes, combed their hair and drove a few towns away, just to pay their respects in person.  They grabbed our hands and looked into our eyes and told us how much they appreciated our father.  And I'll never forget it.

There were others who showed up, too.  Like the now grown-up boys who lived next door to us thirty years ago.  They used to make Dad crazy because they mowed the lawn in their bare feet (safety hazard) and yelled loudly at each other during spirited games of whiffle ball played in their backyard.  We hadn't seen any of them in years.  Yet, there they were, to grab our hands and gently say, "So sorry to hear about your Dad."  They showed up.  And I'll never forget it.

Then there were my friends.  Not friends of Dad's, mind you (although there were plenty of those, too), MY friends.  High school friends who didn't know Dad that well, but came to comfort ME.  They showed up with warm hugs, handing me their phone numbers written on slips of paper for "if you just need to talk, or get away for awhile."  Gay, my childhood friend, and her parents, whom I haven't seen in over two decades, showed up.  And I'll never forget it.

Many of the people I've mentioned above don't read this blog, and will probably never get this message, but I hope you'll indulge me as I send it anyway:

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Not only were you a tremendous comfort, you taught me an invaluable lesson.  Showing up means much more than I ever imagined.  Before that evening, if my childhood next door neighbor had passed away and I learned about the funeral,  I may have penned a quick note to their children and dropped it in the mail, feeling really good that I "reached out."  But now all that has changed.

I will show up.  I will curl my hair, put on makeup, hose, and a dress, and I will be there.  I will wrap my arms around you, and remind you how loved you are.  You have my word. Because based on my experience, it's the absolute best thing I can do.

Thanks for Reading.