Thanksgiving – The Year I Was Shot

November 23, 2011

Song of the Day: Feel Good Drag by Anberlin

Thanksgiving –a time to give thanks for the people in our lives, our accomplishments, our successes and failures, and our bounties, that which makes us stronger.

Like many, I have a patchwork of memories that weave a fabric of nostalgic moments in my life.

When my grandparents were still alive, every year the family gathered at “the farm” for Turkey Day. We reflected on the amazing tales my grandfather told of the wars he fought. We shared loads of laughter during the wild storytelling of my father and his siblings’ antics –some of which include wasps, pyromania, and cat poop. We ate dry turkey, drank watered-down instant tea, and dodged rolls that were not passed but rather lobbed (helmets at the table were optional). Those were invariable staples of our holiday.

No thanksgiving would be complete without some sort of chaos. Every family experiences them. Right? Riiiight? The obese uncle who, after his second trough-full of food, scares the family into believing he was having a heart attack. A trip to the emergency room confirmed it was just indigestion. How about the turkey that sat in the oven for hours only to be discovered as everyone sat down at the table that the oven hadn’t been turned on. Or the food fight, not surprisingly, started when a wayward roll bounced off the wrong head. I might add that coconut pie (not the chocolate pie as we never, EVER waste the chocolate pie) is a nightmare in long hair.

My favorite memory includes my bronco-bustin’, ninja-trained, flyboy cousin who was home for the holiday from the Air Force. Seems he had taken up a new hobby. Competition Paintball.  And he had brought his high-power guns. Looking back in hindsight, I’m convinced my cousin waited until after the big turkey dinner to play paintball because the rest of us were slow moving targets. Combined with his ninja skills, he hunted us down, picking us off like screaming monkeys in a barrel. Not one of us made it out “alive”.  I won’t lie, getting shot by a paint ball HURTS!!!! Even when wearing jeans. I had a bruise the size on Montana on my thigh. Diving and rolling for cover looks so much easier on TV. But I didn’t get it as bad as hubby. He got nailed in the middle of his forehead as he peeked up from his hiding place. It was HILARIOUS!

Ah…good times… good times.

Do you have a funny Thanksgiving story to share? What family traditions do you have? I’d love to hear from you.

Take A Journey With Me To The Home Of My Heart

June 16, 2011

Writing, I think, is not apart from living.  Writing is a kind of double living.  The writer experiences everything twice.  Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.  ~Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957

The Coast of Malaysia

Muse Tracks is a wonderful blog site to obtain information on all aspects of writing and I hope I’ve contributed a slice of knowledge with my group of articles on marketing. I was all set to continue delving into the overwhelming, and often confusing, world of branding, selling, publishing….blah blah blah , but I have no heart for it this week. Rania, a reader from Greece, stated she believed she might be too romantic for this part of the business. That thought resonated with me.

If you are not careful, it has the potential to suck the creativity, the soul of your writing out the proverbial window. I have taught myself some cool techniques for marketing my book and that makes me happy. It’s empowering to take control of my career. I’ve also let it consume a lot of my time which has weighed on my mind. Do I have the energy to see this through? I can’t answer that today.

So, I’m taking a hard left and travelling down memory lane. There’s a reunion this weekend for the folks that went to the Singapore American School and one next summer for those that attended the International School of Kuala Lumpur. I’ve spoken with many sweet voices from my past and this has left me floating in a pool of memories.

I remember the first time I spotted Malaysia out my airplane window. Vibrations rumbled through the plane’s body as the wheels lowered and flaps were positioned to slow us down. The muddy brown waters of the Klang River became visible as it dissected the city into halves. Tree tops bubbled above the ground bursting in a kaleidoscope of greens. Roads gave way to rice paddies which gave way to tin mines and towering mountains. A sprawling metropolis lay directly below, architecture proclaiming a history rich in many cultures. Kuala Lumpur is a dichotomy of old British colonial grandeur and modernity.

Sprawling freeways wound along the ground like giant snakes baking in the warm sun. Turrets on a mosque covered in tile and glass glistened in the sunlight while it passed under the belly of my giant metal bird. As we descended, people came into view. A young teenage boy herded a water buffalo with only a wooden switch in his hand. Women walked between villages draped in colorful batik sarongs, woven baskets balanced on their heads. Surrounding them were rubber trees that stood in rigid rows on plantations like soldiers guarding their wonderful paradise.

I fell in love with the country before I ever set foot on its fertile soil. That afternoon, so many years ago, began a relationship that lasted for eighteen years of my life. I landed when I was a young girl of nine years and when I boarded an airplane for the last time out of Subang Airport, I was a twenty seven year old woman and my heart was breaking.

You see, I’m what is known as a “third culture kid”. I don’t belong to their culture, I’m foreign, in so many ways, to my own so where I do belong is in a nether land that doesn’t really exist- the third culture. It’s a phenomenon that’s been documented thousands of times by people who were blessed to have had an opportunity to grow up like I did. I’ve made a great home here in the U.S. and I do get to travel. My husband, who grew up in many different countries as well, bought me a ticket to go back to South East Asia for ten days for a giant reunion held in Singapore. Everyone who went all said the same thing as they waited to leave. An overwhelming sense of panic clawed through their insides at the thought of saying good-bye one more time.

Am I sad?

How can I be?

I’ve lived a life of dreams. I’ve experienced things most people only see on T.V. and my journey continues with exciting adventures. Malaysia will always call to me and it will always be the home of my heart. I thank you for letting me share a taste of it with you.

P.S. In letting myself explore memories and what was in my heart, I decided I liked my descriptions so much, I added chunks of this piece back into my novel. As my heroine lands in Malaysia, she now sees what I saw that morning landing in a strange new country.