Month: February 2016

Rain or Shine, We’re Sisters

I am five years old. She is the sun.

She pulls me into the ancient bathroom and sits with me on the claw foot tub so we can “talk.” I hear the drip-drip of the leaky faucet and the sound of cars racing by on the street outside the window. Her light brown hair circles her pretty face like an angel’s halo. She grabs my hand. She holds it in her own.

“I’m getting married,” she says. “Do you know what that means?”

I nod. Of course I know what getting married means.

She watches me carefully, her blue eyes peering, perceptive. “It means I won’t be living here any more.”

I wonder: Why does she think I won’t understand? She and her boyfriend had gotten engaged. There was to be a wedding. I would be the flower girl. I knew all of this. Had known it for weeks now.

Dark days
But I didn’t understand. Not really. Not in the deepest part of me that knew she was always available in a way my mother couldn’t be. With a smile. Or to bring me treats or small toys. To give me hugs or advice or whatever my little five-year-old heart needed at the moment.

It would only be later, much later, in the dead of night or in the ordinary humdrum of a day, the truth would come crashing in, bearing down on me with all the force of a locomotive steam engine. After I had thrown a temper tantrum at her wedding, my tears soaking the pink roses on my chiffon dress and small fists pounding the church floor. When I sat alone in our dark house and watched outside the kitchen window as my parents and older siblings spread manure on the garden amidst a first November snowfall. When I awakened at night, cold and shivering with the sheets steeped in my urine. That’s when the ugly truth of her leaving wormed its way into my young heart and made its home there.

I'm one sad little girl on my sister's wedding day.

These pictures say it all. I am one sad little girl on my sister’s wedding day.

image

My angel sister–the one who taught me to walk, who saved my first lock of hair when I cut it myself, who made me hand-sewn outfits and bought me my first Barbie–this dearly beloved sister was gone.

Oh not forever, of course. She was only a forty-minute drive. But my mother didn’t have a license. Visits were reserved for the occasional weekends my sister came to our house or the week I spent with her every summer.

A bone-crushing isolation descended on me like a claw, pinching and scraping the tender walls of my heart. At five years old, the long, solitary road of my existence stretched out in front of me like the barren railroad tracks that ran next to our house, the trains cranking out a lonely whistle every hour of the day.

In a reoccurring nightmare, my sister and I made our home in a tent in our yard. I begged her to run away with me. But my mother stood outside the house and called us in, her worn hand beckoning, like a priestly summons. In the dream, we could never ignore the call.

Sunshine
The funny thing about life? If we wait long enough, if we endure through painful moments, happiness has a way of breaking through the dark shrouds, reviving the dead parts.

Time passed. I learned how to live without her daily presence like a person without an arm. You always know it’s missing but can get around pretty well without it. This severing and learning to adapt was necessary. My sister was not my mom. She needed to move on with her life as a new wife and later, mother of two daughters. I needed to forge a stronger relationship with my mother.

Flower tarts, made with love

Flower tarts, made with love

Last Easter, my family and I paid my sister a visit in Arizona, where she lives with her husband. She pulled out all the stops–purchasing our favorite snacks, decorating for Easter and making beautiful flower cutout cookies, buying my daughter a birthday cake and present. Once again, I found myself basking in her unconditional love and caring.

My twelve-year-old daughter felt it, too. “I really like Auntie,” she told me. “She’s so kind. It’s like…she and I have a special bond. We like the same things. You know what I mean?”

For a moment, I am transported back in time. The sun peeks out from the clouds and shines down on us, its radiant heat nurturing, protective. “Yes,” I tell her. “I know just what you mean.”

Love this photo of my daughter and my sister.

A favorite photo of my daughter with  my sister.

My mom, sister and I

My mom, sister and I

Via @AuAuthor, Rain or Shine, We're Sisters #amwriting Click To Tweet Via @AuAuthor Sisters are friends for life #amwriting #sisters Click To Tweet

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

That is the question:
Whether tis better to embrace Twitter
And all it has to offer or to remain in blissful ignorance
And by opposing avoid it entirely?
To tweet or retweet; or give or get a favor.
To see your followers go up and down then up again.
Aye there’s the rub.

Chances are if you’re an author, you have a Twitter account, which you are using to follow other writers, agents and publishers and post your own news and comments. You probably have quite a few followers, too. Twitter followers seem to come and go like waves on the ocean–they rush in, they depart again.

Writers go social
From the moment I completed my first manuscript, I was advised to develop an author profile on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. Facebook was easy. I already had 300+ friends, so it wasn’t hard to create an author page and invite them to like the page. Twitter, on the other hand, took more effort. I had to learn the hashtag concept, figure out how to tweet, determine frequency and decide who or what to follow.

Although it’s been a year since I posted my first tweet and garnered my first follower, I have made a few observations:

  • It’s fast. Like a speeding bullet, life on Twitter happens much more rapidly than on other social media platforms. The minute I tweet, someone else is there to retweet, comment or favor.
  • It’s mostly impersonal. Unlike my 300 Facebook friends, the majority of whom I have met in person at one time or another, I think I know maybe five of my current Twitter followers. The rest are strangers who share a common interest in books and writing. Do we talk? Sure in about ten words or less.
  • It’s noisy. Scanning my Twitter feed is a lot like being in a roomful of people with everyone shouting at once. Who do I tune into? Who do I tune out? What important conversations do I miss while I’m trying to make up my mind? And how can I possibly be heard with all the noise going on around me?
  • It’s powerful. Over the last two weeks I participated in two Twitter events: #Pit2Pub (to pitch publishers) and #PitchMatch (to pitch agents). Each involved composing a compelling tweet describing my book and posting it during a certain time period. The first event garnered seven favors from publishers and generated one contract offer (so far). The second did not win me or the majority of the other participants any favors. But I came away with a new respect for Twitter as a tool that might, with the right amount of luck and timing, attract a legitimate agent, editor or publisher. Neither of these events were time consuming, and both allowed me a glimpse into what those on the receiving end of our pitches are seeing.

Recently, a writer friend sent me a list of 91 free Twitter tools and apps. Many of these are designed to provide users with a better idea of who to follow. Clearly, there are a lot of eyes on Twitter.

So should we tweet? I’d twitter a guess we should.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Click To Tweet

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