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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tossed salad and scrambled eggs......


Trapped in a Sitcom

 

Has it ever happened to you?  Have you ever been in a situation so strange, frustrating or silly that you felt like you were trapped in a scene from a sitcom?
Years ago I saw a lady in a hospital hallway.  I was young and she was an older woman, perhaps in her sixties.  She was leaning against the wall, looking down, struggling with something, one foot raised behind her.  I quickly realized that her slip was stuck to the heel of her shoe and for whatever reason she could not bend the right way to free the damned thing.  I offered to help.  She said, “I’m having a Lucy moment.”  I knew exactly what she meant.  She was a little embarrassed but obviously relieved when the slip was removed and stuffed quickly into her handbag.  “Oh, Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!” 

Sitcoms make us laugh because the fictitious people in the show are in uncomfortable situations.  We laugh because it isn’t us.  Better you than me!  Haha.  Only, sometimes we are in uncomfortable, silly situations.  Then they aren’t so funny.  Until later….maybe…..perhaps.

I was invited to the “writer’s group” in my condo community.  The sweet lady with the British accent who called me on the phone to extend the invitation was very gracious and, in spite of knowing myself well enough to dread being a part of any “group”, I agreed to it and went to a meeting. 

First of all, it was too early in the morning.  I got up in the middle of the night for years in order to submit to my indentured servitude.  I am not a morning person.  I no longer have to get up in the dark and I do not like getting up early.   I felt horrible.  I wanted to sleep.  My tea made me feel sick.  Ugh.

I found the room where the meeting was held – there were already about 4 or 5 people there.  SILENCE as I entered the room.  Ah, that’s always comforting.  Sends you right back to grade or high school, feeling left out or like everyone else knows something that you don’t.  The English lady was there, thank goodness, and patted the seat next to hers indicating that I should sit there.  Everyone else stared.  I wanted to run for my life already and I had just arrived.  This was going really well.

The man to the English lady’s left was the “leader.”  He spoke very softly and was almost impossible to hear.  He appeared to be extremely old.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against old people.  It is what inevitably happens if we live long enough and I am on that trajectory, just like everyone else.  However, this man could barely move anything, including his lips.  Then he wanted to take attendance.  Attendance?  Damn, maybe I AM back in grade school!   Seriously?  There are five or six people here and you have to take attendance?  

Here we go around the table.  Oh, joy.  What fun.  First he said his name and then told the person to his left to speak. Next was a youngish (meaning in her sixties) woman with short gray hair who smiled pleasantly.  Then another woman, similar.  Same thing.  Then a burly guy. Next to him was another middling woman, slightly overweight, poufy gray hair (indicating to me it was teased, so she might be 5-10 years older than I).  She appeared to be a nervous type, constantly on the verge of tears.   Then a woman who was also on the pretty, pretty, pretty elderly side and  an old man, bent over, with a few straggly white hairs on his head who sat to my right.   Last one in is a rotten egg!  That was me.   I guess everyone knew the English lady.  Or they forgot about attendance at that point.

The great leader then ordered each person to read something they had written aloud.  Oh, great!  Now it’s show and tell time!  The pleasantly smiling woman shared something trite and juvenile that ended with a quote from scripture.  Something about colors and butterflies.  I tried desperately not to roll my eyes or spit.  I don’t remember what the next person read.  It must have been impressive.  The burly guy didn’t have anything so he just told those of us gathered there that he had received his 19th nervous breakdown.  No, I’m kidding, it was his 19th rejection from publishers.  Wow, that must be fun.  (Indie publishing is looked down upon as inferior and self-aggrandizing.  I don’t care.)

The teary eyed woman said that her book had been published.  She was published.  So there.  (I found out later that she was not approached by a publisher or given an advance.  No, in fact, she had hired a company to print and bind her book.  She paid for it.  She is no more “published” than I am.)  She read something about Italy that supposedly was set in the 1940s or 50s.  It was long winded and didn’t really go anywhere.  I wasn’t sure what the point was supposed to be.  At least she didn’t cry.

The elderly lady was hard of hearing.  This became apparent when she started speaking because she was very, very LOUD!   I hoped my horror didn’t show on my face.  I tried desperately not to laugh or snicker, but she was hurting my ears.  I wanted so very much to up and leave.  But I was trapped now, terribly trapped in a bad sitcom.  


The man to my right pulled out an entire collection that he had fashioned into a book, of sorts, or a large folder.  This was his anthology, his masterpiece.  They were all poems, essays, homilies dedicated to his wife.  His late wife.  His late wife who died ten years ago.  This man needed a grief counselor, a psychiatrist or a support group, not a writer’s group.  This was both sad and alarming and pathetic.  My feet were itching to get the hell out of there.

Joy, joy!!! My turn!  Here are my books.  Please pass them around the table”.  Okey, dokey.  One is a memoir, the other a children’s book.  Yes, I’ve had some sales.  Yes, I am an indie pub writer.  The English lady thought people would have questions about that and be interested in finding out how to do it.  There were no questions, no one gave a ding dang damn.  19 rejections said, “Good for you.”  Yep.  I also get paid to write for a blog.  “That’s nice.”  It is possible that they had no idea what a blog is, but I will never know. 

The English lady, who actually worked for a real, live publisher once, read something, but my mind was already gone.  I looked out the windows.  I calculated how long it would take to walk to my car and get the hell away from them.  Ah, ta da.  The meeting is adjourned.”  Oh, please come back!   Please come back?  Are you for real?  I’m in hell.  Not coming back, leaving as fast as I possibly can.  I’m sorry, dear English lady, you are the only one here who is anywhere near being a professional and the only one who has shown me any interest or respect.  Well, they won’t have me to kick around anymore. Sure hope they have fun at their next masturbation party.

Being trapped in a sitcom is absolutely no fun at all unless you are an actor in an actual sitcom.  When we have sitcom moments, Lucy moments – they are terrible. 

Ah, but that was long ago, over seven months ago, in fact.  Long enough now that I can actually laugh about it. But I get to be transported back to the entire experience every single month when I get a message on my phone machine. “The meeting will be this Thursday.  Please let us know if you will attend.” 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                   ~June Volz

                                                                                                                                                                                                    June 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Time keeps on tickin', tickin', tickin', into the future....


The Clock

It’s just a Timex and getting quite old

Little black box with red digital display

It’s never gone off and works really great

But its’ time is ahead by minutes of eight.

 

Just resetting it doesn’t help at all

It just jumps ahead anyway.

I must employ math for my orientation

In time and space and the constellations.

 

And math is not my favorite foray

I have quite a phobia for numbers, I fear.

I had a bad teacher when I was a teen

And the trauma stays with me, it seems.

 

His name was Mr. Scanlon and

He had the whole class scared to pieces.

The school board stepped in and let us all pass

Without learning a single darned thing… alas.

 

So I look at the time and count backwards by ten

Then I add up two more to make eight.

Short of using my fingers, it’s a total disgrace

But that’s how I do it, that’s simply the case.

 

Although I managed to take two college courses

In various mathematical subjects,

And understood precisely what I was doing during those moments,

I then promptly forgot what Venn diagrams, sets and factoring meant.

 

So my little clock that rushes through time

Reminds me how ghastly my skills in math are.

Why is it in such a hurry to get through the day?

Why must it always torment me this way?

 

I shouldn’t complain, since other than that

The hours are usually right on the money.

I’m used to its’ quirk, it’s really just fine…

Except… now it’s ahead in minutes by nine.                                                                      - June Volz 

                                                                                                                                             June, 2015.

 

 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I've gotta be me...

Well, for better or worse, I did it again.  I've collaborated with my daughter and turned out another children's book.  This one is called, "KittenCat."  A day in the life of a mischievous kitten who finds fun things to do all through the house.

"KittenCat" is meant to be read to the littlest ones or for early readers: first, second or third grade.  It rhymes and contains original and colorful illustrations by Alyx Weaver, who also illustrated, "The Amazing Canine Adventures of Harry Spotter."

All are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.  Alternatively, if you contact me via gmail - junivolz@gmail.com.  I can offer a discounted price, free shipping and a signed copy.

 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spottermobile

We've signed up for some events this summer.  Happily, I was invited back to the "Dogfest" in August.  And there is a restored Colonial village nearby that has events all summer - I'm going to try and do two of them, depending on how the first one goes.   And my condo community has a "Trunk Sale" day - we've signed up for that. 

This time, besides the discounted price for Harry's book, and a free bookmark, I will also have refrigerator magnets to give away.  And, we will be driving in the "Spottermobile!"  I purchased two car door magnets with Harry's cover image.  It's really cute. 

If anyone is interested in the discount price of ten dollars (it is higher on Amazon because Amazon wants to make a profit) I can be contacted via junivolz@gmail.com.    You will get a signed copy and bookmark and free shipping.  Remember, 20% of all proceeds are donated to "Almost Home Dog Rescue of New Jersey."

 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Somewhere that's green.....


Oh, hey, I got this great tip from Facebook.  It was so easy, I had to try it.  Really simple.  Just save the water you boil your vegetables in and then water your plants with it.  Doesn’t cost a dime, so why not?

 

I love broccoli and green beans and peas and lima beans.  So, I found this old Tupperware pitcher type thing – actually, I think it was supposed to hold cereal, but I never eat cereal, which is why the thing sits in the cupboard empty year after year.  Well, now I have a use for it.  So, every night I take the Tupperware container out of the refrigerator and drain my veggie water into it.  Then I pop it right back in the fridge.  Easy peasy.
 
 
 

It takes about a month to fill it up.  When it is all full, that’s when I water the plants with it.  Let me warn you, it is somewhat stinky.  I mean, think broccoli combined with sewage.  Yuck.  But it dissipates in about a day or so, no big deal.  When everybody is watered, the container goes back in the fridge for the next round of veggies.
 
 

I’ve found that the plants really love this veggie water.  I used to use plant food – you, know, buy the stuff and mix it with water.  This is so much easier and so natural and conserves water, too.   After a couple of months I could see the difference.  The leaves on some of the plants were getting outrageously large.  Super large.  Larger than I ever saw them before.  And other plants were changing color, actually becoming a deeper green, quite noticeable.

Gosh, the plants are loving this veggie water so much they are taking over the windows.  I took the mini-blinds down.  Who needs them?  I have natural green shades.  It’s amazing.  I can barely see outside anymore.  These plants are really thriving.
 
 


Gee, some of them began climbing the walls.  Seriously.  They’ve grown to the ceiling and are attaching to the walls and the ceiling.  They are so totally out of control.  Giant leaves, deep color and now they are just going wherever they want to go.  One threw a piece of its’ pot at me the other night.  I’m not kidding – this rather large piece of ceramic went flying across the room, whizzing by my head.  Like it was aiming at me or something.  Haha.  It actually busted right out of its’ own pot!  I had to go right out the next day and get a really, really big pot and more dirt.  It was a big job.  Not easy.  Wow.  I see some others are getting pot bound.  I have to remember to pick up more large pots when I can.

There is one plant I call the “Monster.”  It’s really big.  Well, it was always big, but it’s really, super big now.  It keeps sending up new leaves that are larger than my head.  And it pops out roots out its’ side, and sends them down into the pot, almost like legs.  Hahaha.  You can almost picture it getting up and taking a stroll.  Snarf.  Silly.  How silly.  I know that isn’t rational. Hahaha.
 
I don’t know.  I’m thinking about investing in some doors.  Maybe I should put a door up between the sun room where the plants are and the rest of the house.  Just a thought.  They’ve taken over the whole room and I think they might want to expand into the kitchen.  I know it sounds kind of crazy, but sometimes I think I can hear them at night.  Like I can hear them growing.  Almost like they are moving around.  Of course, they can’t do that, I know that.  Silly thought.  Still, I get a little scared when I think I hear them.  I think they talk to each other, too.  Not in words, of course, that would be weird, but they seem to communicate with one another.  I know it is stupid to feel so uneasy, but I really think I need a door.  Soon.
                                                                                                                       - June Volz
                                                                                                                          March 2015
                                                                                                                         (Copyright material)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

You don't have to say you love me....

People really get to me.  I'm not good with them, never have been.  I tend to be quite shy so I find social encounters uncomfortable.  I find selling to be absolutely distasteful.  And I much prefer the company of dogs. 

That being said, I don't understand why people say things that they don't mean at all.  It's very perplexing.  Why?  Why, why, why?   If you think my work is garbage, well, then you really don't have to say anything.  No need to crumple my self esteem.  But if you come to me all glowing praise, all enthusiasm and then SAY you want to buy a book and SAY you are going to call me and then you don't.....and then you run and hide from me....I ask, why?   Why all the effusive, phony nonsense? 

This has happened several times.  I can take people making no comment.  Believe me, it isn't easy, but I can take it.  But this vacuous, needless lying makes me very angry. 

I was told by someone on the community paper that I would be called and interviewed.  It never happened.  I was told by a neighbor that she wanted to buy a book and that she would call me.  It never happened. 

I was told that the "writer's group" would be helpful and supportive.  Calling it a writer's group in the first place was a laugh, only one person there was "published."  I got the distinct feeling that I was being mocked with faint praise since she had to inject into each mention of her work that it was "published."  (I am an indie author - rather than waiting for five hundred publishers to reject my work, I published independently) 

One person there mentioned his many, many rejections.  The others weren't writers at all.  One pathetic old man writes ditties to his dead wife.  Another woman wrote things I found not only unoriginal but juvenile.  But I don't think writing is her true intent.  She includes "scripture" quotes at the end of everything she does, so her agenda is shove her religious beliefs on anyone and everyone.  Even Miss Published admitted that her publisher took money from her and she hasn't made a dime, so I wonder at the ethics and legitimacy of her "publisher."  I guess they didn't notice that I didn't show up again since the cadaver who runs the group keeps calling me each month to remind me of the meeting time. 

And then there was a man at the gym.  He said, "I like your shirt."  I was wearing my Harry Spotter shirt in shameless self-promotion.  So I smiled and said, "Thanks.  This is my book."  His response?  "Oh, yeah, I remember.  You're the writer." Ooohhhhh, yeah, I am.   What the heck was THAT supposed to mean?

Alright, I have to give myself a pep talk and polish up my ego and carry on.  Sometimes, I understand, it takes years to become an overnight sensation.
 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

She's gone


My Sister Died

 

My sister died a year ago this month and my life opened up.

You’re thinking what an odd thing that is to say.  But you see, there was a wall of silence in our house as far back as I can remember.  It was just there.  It was something that was sensed, feared and respected.

The wall got thicker after my parents divorced when I was twelve.  My older sisters were already grown and out on their own.  I lived in my mother’s silent house.  I could not get past that wall, even if I tried.  Sometimes, in great frustration, I did try.  But the silence was stronger than I.

I, too, went out on my own.  I made mistakes and struggled a lot.  I married and had a child.   My family, such as it was and it was not close but distant and chilly, shallow and cautious, drifted away. I moved to many different places, trying to find myself, trying to save a marriage, trying to raise a disabled child, trying to finish college and always working, working, working.

My sister sent me a letter, informing me that my mother had passed away.  One of our brief and infrequent communications.  One day soon after, I was seized with the notion to find my father.  At age forty, I had not seen him since the day he walked out of that silent house.  He was living in Florida.  He had a wife.  We spoke on the phone and arranged a visit.

There was a picture of my father and his new wife in their bedroom.  In it, my father was very young, much younger than I ever knew him to be.  They were at the beach and the style of his current wife’s hair was clearly outdated as was her swimsuit.  This photo was taken a very long time ago, possibly in the 1940’s, which would mean it was taken before I was born.

In my brazen adulthood and naiveté, I mentioned this.  What I got was a heated denial.  No, no, that was taken in the late 60’s.  My silent upbringing in my silent house had trained me well.  I did not laugh and I did not argue, but I knew it was a lie.  The visit didn’t go so well, there were awkward silences and flashes of anger, palpable tension in the air.  It was the wall.  It was here, too.  But I had figured out what it was made of.  It was obvious from the old photograph.  My father had been cheating on my mother for decades.  Worse yet, the “other woman” was my father’s best friend’s wife.  They worked together in my father’s business.  He not only cheated on my mother, but on his friend and on all of the children.  My mother was not a stupid woman, she probably knew but buried her fury in silence just as he buried his guilt and shame. And the wall of silence was built.  That disastrous meeting was twenty years ago.

When my sister died, my niece reached out to me.  She is a grown woman. Indeed, I have three beautiful grown nieces, a nephew and a small gaggle of grand nieces and nephews.  We emailed.  We connected on Facebook, all of us.  My nieces were well acquainted with the wall of silence and we were determined to break it down.  Pictures were posted that brought back a veritable deluge of memories and, sadly, sometimes no memory at all.  I could recognize myself at a moment in the past with my mother or sisters and have no recollection of the day or occasion.  Times and places were forgotten, faces were recalled. There were many tears but also smiles.  We found our common ground. We are all liberals and we all love dogs and cats.  We seem to also share a certain wry sense of humor. 

Suddenly, I had a family. Now I have a reason to buy greeting cards for birthdays and holidays. As mundane and cliché as it sounds, I have pictures on my hallway walls of people I’ve missed and children I haven’t met yet. Like thousands of other homes, my home has the same ordinary display.  But for me, it is extraordinary and gives me great pleasure.  My daughter has cousins who bear a physical resemblance and she already has travel plans to visit them.  We did it, we finally broke down that great wall of silence that trapped my parents and was carefully protected by my siblings.  So now you understand, don’t you?

My sister died one year ago this month and my life opened up.
                                                                                                                                   - June Volz
                                                                                                                                     December 2014
                                                                                                                                 (Copyright material)