Emotional Footprints

This last weekend, my daughter and granddaughter came over and we spent the day together.  One thing that my two girls love to do is go thrift-store shopping.  So off to Goodwill we went.  While there, my hubby and were cruising the aisles.  Hubby stopped and was giving something his serious attention, so I went to see what had caught his eye.

It was a vase.  But it had been decorated with some bead work and had some painted inscriptions on it.  Someone had made this vase for a fiftieth anniversary gift.  This couple was married Nov. 22nd 1953.  The gift had been given in Nov. 2003.  It had names of the lucky couple.

There was something nostalgic and kind of sad to see the vase at Goodwill.  Or maybe it wasn’t so much sad as it felt as if there was an untold story there, a Pandora’s box of two people’s lives that begged to be opened up. Hubby even contemplated buying it. We didn’t.  But I did take a picture of it.

And for some reason I was curious.  Mentally I guesstimated if the couple was married at age of 20 then they’d be eighty-six now.  I was going to add the picture to the blog, but I Googled the names. And it appeared the couple may still be alive.  So to add it felt somehow like stalking.

But that feeling, of an untold story still lingers.  I get that feeling a lot when I go into antique stores and I see old photographs.  Or I see postcards and I turn it over and read it.  The crazy thing is that it’s not all of them.  One photograph or postcard will sudden catch my attention and draw me to it.  And I find myself with tons of questions.  Who was this person or persons?  What’s their story?  Did they have dreams that they accomplished?  What were their struggles?  What lessons could the world learn from their stories?

You know, some people believe that objects can hold an emotional essence, a footprint of sort.  Is that why some photos just speak to me, the reason that the vase at Goodwill had the same effect on me as it did my husband?

What do you think?  Do you ever get that untold story feeling? What was the item that made you stop and ponder? Or does this only happen to someone with a writer’s and writer’s spouse’s curiosity?

School Memories

School lunches.

What goes through your mind first?

Just those two words conjure up all sorts of smells and memories for me. I especially remember walking into my high school cafeteria on tuna noodle casserole day. Actually, I could tell tuna casserole was on the menu long before I ever got to the cafeteria. It wafted down the hallways. And it’s not like the casserole ever tasted good. No, I dislike the smell to this day.

In fact, I used that memory in One Foot in the Grave, the first book in my Mortician’s Daughter series. Riley walks into the cafeteria of her new school and is hit by the tuna smell.

When I was in school there weren’t a lot of choices. There was usually a featured dish or a hamburger, but the hamburger tasted more like mystery meat.  Schools didn’t serve salads then. Pizza day wasn’t too bad, but back then I hadn’t had really great pizza. So I didn’t know any better.

About the only thing I really liked that was served were the chocolate oatmeal fudge cookies. I’d skip whatever food they had and just savor that cookie.

Today, a lot of the schools bring in food from fast food places. So there is more variety, but it’s probably much worse for you—and more expensive.

Thoughts of school-lunches also evoke memories of me feeling like the odd man out.  Sort of like Riley in my Mortician’s Daughter series, I wasn’t a big fan of lunch period.  I had a couple of friends in school, but we didn’t share the same lunch break every year. And those years, I’d end up sitting by myself.  It was kind of odd how one can be in a room of so many people and feel completely alone.

So, when you were in school, what did you like or hate about school lunches. What food did you like, or hate?  And if you’re still in school, what do you like or hate about school lunches.

Winner!

Congratulations, Diane Garland, you’ve won one of my C.C. Hunter t-shirts. Please email me at christie@christie-craig.com with your postal address and your t-shirt size.

What’s Your Thing?

Right now I’m working on a new proposal for another young adult.  As I start this process, I begin by fleshing out my character.  And one of the first things I ask a character-in-the-making is:  What’s your thing?  In This Heart of Mine, Leah, who thinks she’s dying in the first part of the novel, is a book geek.  On her bucket list is to read a hundred books.  In Two Feet Under, Riley is into art.  This is very important to her, because she learns her mother was an artist, too.  In fact, the book video shows Riley painting.  And I love how the video shows it as if it’s important to her.  And it is.

And while creating my new character that I’m calling Andi, it got me thinking about having a thing.  About how important it is to identify our interests.

You see, when I was growing up, I was in awe of my peers who had a thing, or in some case, things.  Girls who loved volley ball.  Girls who joined debate clubs.  Girls in gymnastics and girls into cheerleading.  There were the band lovers and the book clubbers.  I envied those girls who knew their “things.”These girls seemed happier.  They seemed to have more self-confidence.  It appeared as if most them had tribes.  Because the people who liked the same things as they did, bonded together.

Me?  I felt thingless.  And in a lot of ways, I suppose I lacked in the confidence arena.

I think if I hadn’t been dyslexic, I’d have been a book clubber and even a writer.  Yes, I loved a story.  But with my learning disability, I never felt I could even attempt writing and reading was more of a chore than enjoyment. So I just made up my own stories in my head.  Frankly, it didn’t feel like a thing.  In fact, I didn’t tell anyone that I spent so much time living in my head.  I didn’t have a clue that what I was doing all those years was building my storytelling and plotting skills.

When I finally admitted I wanted to be a writer and I jumped into the that I’m-an-author lifestyle, when I let myself feel the passion, I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it was.  I finally had a thing.  Shortly after joining a writing organization, I found a tribe.   I’m lucky my thing, my passion, ended up being my career.  But that’s not always the case.  In fact, I think we need more than one thing, especially if one of those is a career.

As I’ve matured, I’ve discovered other interests as well.  I love wine and enjoy doing tastings and joining wine clubs.  I love cooking and looking for new recipes and spending time in the kitchen creating dishes.  I love reading and discussing books. I love going to casinos every five or six months and gambling with small set sum that I can afford.

Have you ever been talking to someone you didn’t know that well and the conversation hits on their passion, and they just light up and that person just takes on a whole new dimension? I love hearing people talk about their “things.”  I believe we all need to have these interests no matter what our age.

It doesn’t matter what it is.  People are passionate about Elvis, Star Wars, ballet or Broadway plays.  It can be crocheting or square dancing.  Football or going to yard sales.  It can be finding potatoes that look like celebrities.  It can be anything, as long as it gets you excited and offers you a sense of self and of accomplishment.

When I meet people who aren’t what I’d call depressed, but they aren’t completely content or maybe they are just bored, I often realize that these people are like I was as a teen.  They are thingless.  They don’t have passions or hobbies.  They don’t have a tribe.

So as I ask and try to help my soon-to-be-character discover what her thing is, I’m going to ask you as well:  What’s your thing?  I thought it would be fun to tell each other about our hobbies and passions.

Do you not have one?  If not, I encourage you to find one.

GIVEAWAY!!

This week, I’m giving away a new C.C. Hunter T-shirt to one person who shares their “thing or things.”

Happy New Year, Y’all!

It’s hard to believe the holidays are behind us and it’s time to turn our attention to 2019. This is the time of year that I usually ask you about your New Year’s resolutions, and I tell you all about mine. But this year, I have something new for you to consider.

This week I listened to a podcast with various people discussing their resolutions. There were the usual ones: lose weight, exercise more, spend less time on social media, etc. One of the guests (and I can’t remember who it was) had a different approach. She said her therapist told her to stop making New Year’s resolutions because she was setting herself up for failure. Not that the therapist thought she wouldn’t follow through with any of them, but that even if she slipped up on one, she would see that as failure.

Instead, the therapist suggested she make intentions. They are easier to follow and it isn’t a pass/fail situation. She said we beat ourselves up enough without setting up a list of things we can fail at, then feel guilty over. Now, while I believe in goals and resolutions, I admit that at times I feel a little guilty, too.  So, I’m not going to make resolutions this year, I’m going to make intentions. And while I intend to do these things, if I don’t, I won’t feel like a failure.

Her final piece of advice? Always give yourself a second chance. I like that, too.

So what are your intentions for 2019? What would you like to see happen?

Me.  I want to get healthier.  I want to slow down a little and do some of those crazy things on my I’d-like-to-do-that list.  Go to Scotland and Ireland.  Maybe a take a cooking class.  And always, spend more time with friends.

Pillow Talk

Can we talk bedroom stuff?

Calm down, I mean what’s on the bed and not what happens in the bed. I am a pillow connoisseur.  Hubby says he can’t find me for all the pillows I use.  I use one under my head, one under my knees.  One across my stomach and I love it when I can have one to my side so if I roll over I have a side pillow.  I know.  I know that’s a bit extreme.  But hey, sleep is important.

I love my down pillows. I was so proud when I found some down pillows at a discount outlet and I only paid in the $20s. It was a waste of money when I realized these had the stems of the feathers and during the night you can get pricked by your pillow. Then a couple of years ago, I went out and bought two $100 down pillows.  Then hearing all the talk about the memory-foam-stay-cool pillows I went out and brought one of those for another Benjamin bill.  Last year when I felt like my down pillows were going a little limp, I went and bought another one for $130. (I always buy at Bed, Bath & Beyond and use their 20% off coupons, but my point is I think a great pillow is worth digging deep in my wallet.)  But this year, I told hubby what I wanted for Christmas were some good pillows. He told me to go pick them out. I did. And WOW.  I got sticker shock.  For a king size down pillow—which is what I like—a good one starts at $189.00 and goes up to $269.00.

I stood there in a punch-drunk state, trying to justify spending $500 dollars for two pillows.  I couldn’t do it.  So . . . I got a saleswoman to show me some alternatives. They took me to the down-like pillows. None of them felt right, so I went with the newish shredded memory foam pillows with Viscose covers made from Bamboo. They were approximately $40 each. I like them—not as much as my down pillow—but I don’t dislike them enough to pay $130 more.

Now here’s my problem. These are my gift. But hubby thinks one is for him. You know I share, but I reserve the right to tease the heck out of him.  Why?  You see, in our early years, we had a pillow fight.  Not hitting each other with a pillow but fighting about pillows. When we were planning to get married, hubby and I went shopping for our new place together. He took me to Wal-Mart and while running the aisles he picked up two (the cheapest they had) $3.99 pillows.  That should have been a warning sign, but nope, I married him anyway.  However, in that Wal-Mart I looked him right in the eye and said, “Uh, no!”  His reply was, “Why not?  I could use anything for a pillow. Heck, when camping, I use a wet life jacket, and I could use that at home.”

In a firm voice, I told him, he was free to use a wet life jacket, but I refused to use that or a potato-sack of chunky foam that they claim is a pillow.  He bought the sack of foam, and I bought the nicer pillow, I think mine cost around $12 dollars. I seriously thought hubby was going to have a heart attack. Yeah, this does point to the fact that he has mellowed with age, and it’s also probably due to our better financial situation. But it’s not all age or finances. He just learned how wrong he was.  You see, within seven months of bringing home that nicer pillow, I bought another one.  One night, Hubby pulled one of my pillows over and used mine as we watched TV.  When we turned out the light, I asked for my pillow back and handed him his.  His reply was… “But can’t you use the cheaper one under your legs, and let me have this one?”

Yup, he was caving and discovering the benefits of good-pillow life.  But years later, in the month of September, something happened that really had him eating his words. We went camping.  When packing I grabbed two pillows and two blankets to take with me. Hubby shook his head. “No. You don’t take pillows or blankets camping.  You use a life jacket and your sleeping bag is all you need for cover.” My reply.  “Oh, yeah, I remember your wet life jacket point.  But my point is that I agree to sleep on the ground, pee in a dirty camping bathroom that I might have to walk blocks to get to, but I’ll be damned if I go without a pillow and a blanket”

So my pillows and blankets were packed. My hubby and son, both playing the macho card, refused to bring pillows or blankets.  That night while roughing it in a three-man tent, it got cold.  Yeah.  Really cold.  Then it started raining.  Hard.  The ground was so cold I used my unzipped sleeping bag so I wouldn’t feel the chill from the ground.  I was snuggled in, quite toasty with my blankets on top, one pillow under my legs and one under my head.

My son cratered first. “Uh, Mom. Can I have a pillow and blanket. This life jacket is wet and I’m cold.”

I muttered under my breath, but I’m a mom and relinquished my knee pillow. Hubby joined in with his pity request and tossed his wet life jacket to the side of the tent.  “Yeah, and you love me so we can share a pillow and the blanket.”

He knew he was toast and had given me lifetime bitching rights. But I still felt sorry for him, so I shared.  After that he gave up the notion that he didn’t need a nice pillow.  In fact, he started fighting for the better of the down pillows, claiming I could use the now-slightly-limp, cheaper down pillow under my legs since I use the memory foam pillow under my head.

And since I brought home my Christmas pillows, he’s already taken ownership of one. When I jabbed him about it he said, “You should be proud for me.  I’ve come to see your side of this issue.” I countered with, “You just need to invest in nicer life jackets.”

So, what kind of pillows do you like and why?  How many pillows do you sleep with?  Is a wet life jacket sufficient?  How much do you spend on pillows?  Am I the only one complaining about pillow inflation?

Winner!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Rosanna Brafford. Congratulations! Please email me at christie@christie-craig.com to claim your Amazon gift card.

Happy New Year!!!