In our universe, can yin exist without yang? East without West? Flim without flam? Where, oh where, is my balance?
In the past four weeks, having the house completely to myself, I may have stumbled upon a truth. I think I might have an obsessive personality. I have seen glimpses of it in the past. When I started my cityscapes design business in NYC, and could easily and happily work 18-hour-days and nights. When I first fell in love with cooking and spent hours watching Food Network 24/7, and read nothing except Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines and cookbooks. What probably kept the pendulum from tipping completely over the edge in those circumstances was that I was surrounded by people, people with needs, wants, desires, and expectations. That reels you back from La La Land and forces you to stay grounded. Babies need diapers changed, bathes, and visits in the night. Husbands need time, attention, dinners prepared, and a companion for vacations. Everyday stuff that keeps one from going loop de loop.
Being completely footloose and fancy-free for one month, obligated to no one and no thing, except Pooter and Booger, has allowed me the freedom to do whatever I want when I want it, with my dressing on the side. And all I want to do is immerse myself in writing my novel. I woke up this morning and realized with a jolt that I had failed to post either a Friday OR Tuesday blog, which I’ve been quite religious about for eight months. I just can’t get this balance thing going; it’s like I’m on a teeter-totter where I can only go up but can’t come down. I can choose to reside in Blogville, keep my posts regular, and keep up with my subscriptions and Freshly Pressed, or I can immerse myself in my fiction and do little else.
I have become so fond of my two female characters in “Texas Toast” that I don’t want to leave them behind at night when I turn off my laptop; I don’t want to close the lid on their world. I love these two feisty, tough, tender, karma-challenged, kooky ladies, and apparently can’t exit their universe long enough to tap out a little biweekly blog, for fear my main characters might take offense. For two weeks, a second book idea has been trying to knock at my mind’s door, but I fear giving it my full attention will in some way denigrate my wonderful Annabelle and Katie, diminish them, disrespect them in some subtle way. Conversely, I’m terrified that if I don’t pause and give proper attention to this new idea, it might dart away like a frightened hummingbird, never to be seen again.
Balance, oh balance, where ever art thou? Do any of my fellow bloggers have this issue? It should really be quite easy to separate a blog of daily events and observations written in the first person from a fictional world where you are God and everything you create is under your control. It seems, at least in theory, the simplest thing in the world. Dash off a blog post on Mondays and Thursdays, post it the following morning, and spend the remainder of the week focused on the novel. Since that balancing act seems to be my unique challenge, and since I am also answering the siren song of summer waaaayyyy too much (beach, garden, hammock, boats, cook outs, etc.), I have decided to do one original post a week until fall, with a repost of some of my earlier blogs that received the most hits. This way I can stay connected to my faithful blog readers, and hopefully unleash my inner novelist out onto lucrative pastures. Below is the prologue for “Texas Toast”.
Prologue, Belton, Texas 1958
The little girl’s grey eyes drifted off to the group of Brownies and troop leaders hovering around the cookout area half a football field away. No one so much as glanced in her direction. She knew that if she wanted to make her move, this would be the moment. With heart racing, she quickly slipped into the beautiful aqua blue water and made a bee line for the massive ladder that lead to the hugest slide she had ever seen. Up, up, and still further up she climbed. If this went wrong she was in seriously deep doo doo, as her mom had warned her repeatedly earlier in the day not to venture to this part of the pool, but who could resist this?
She paused for a brief moment while she parked her butt at the top of the slide, savoring the delicious whoosh and thrill she knew she would feel on the wild ride down. She sighed as she realized she would have to admit this to Father at confession Friday, but some things were simply worth the price. She inhaled deeply as she pushed away from the sides of the slide and swooped down. My God, this was soooo worth it! The adrenaline rush she felt as she hit the water hard was immediately followed by a sense of something very wrong. Where was the bottom of the pool? She began to sputter and choke in a blind panic as she realized she couldn’t gain the purchase necessary to propel her back up to the surface of the water.
Arms now flailing frantically in an attempt to grab hold of anything that would save her from this awful mess, the little girl realized her mistake and knew she was drowning. When darkness began to swallow her, she suddenly felt herself being half lifted, half drug to the surface of the pool by her armpits, where she was deposited against the rough concrete edge, and clung on as if her life depended on it. Coughing, gagging, choking, rivers of snot and water gushing from her nose as she gulped for delicious air, she swooped her sodden hair from her face and glanced cautiously around to see who had rescued her, fearing it would be her mother, and knowing that a whipping with a belt would inevitably follow.
Instead there was a lady in a swimsuit, tall, quite pretty, with reddish-brown hair and the kindest eyes she had ever gazed into. She didn’t know this lady, had never seen her before, in fact. The stranger said nothing, just continued to stare into the little girl’s eyes in the oddest way. The child realized that what she was seeing reflected was utter, total, all-encompassing love. She once again reached up to swipe hair out of her eyes and when she looked the stranger was gone, nowhere to be seen. The child quickly glanced all around to no avail; she hadn’t even had the chance to thank the lady for saving her life.
Where could she have gotten to so quickly? She leapt up from the edge of the pool and began to dart in and out of any place the lady could have gone, restrooms, the concession stand and dressing rooms, but the little girl was completely and utterly alone. As she scurried past the giant slide that had almost been her downfall, she realized where she had made her mistake. The slide’s ladder started in three feet of water, but the bottom of the slide culminated in the pool’s deepest end. She hurried over to the Brownie troop where her mom was busy grilling hotdogs for the other children; she had to enlist her mom’s help in finding the nice lady.
“Katie Shaunessy, whatever would cause you to make up such a tale as that? Our troop has rented out the pool and grounds for the entire afternoon; it’s closed to the public, and none of us have seen this mystery lady you’re describing. I think what happened is you disobeyed me and went where I told you not to and now you are making up fibs to get out of a spanking. Well, you better think again, sister.”
Katie sighed deeply. This was what always happened with her mom. She was always accused of making up tales or exaggerating, no matter what. As she bit into the hotdog her mom had handed her, she realized she would never forget the expression on the woman’s face and that she would never stop searching until she saw that look in someone’s eyes again.