A Memoir of a Week

Dear Reader,

A week ago, one of my favorite authors, Eloisa James, hosted a book signing for her new memoir, Paris in Love. A lovely, heartfelt, and honest snapshot of moments shared by her and her family . . . and by extension, we the reader. As I vicariously walked in her boots down Parisian rues and avenues (i.e., listened to her wonderful readings, and in turn, continued with her memoir until the wee hours of the morning), I was struck by the fact that this wasn’t a book about life in France, but much more.

It’s a book about capturing small gold nuggets of shared memories for a larger treasure chest. A family’s photo album of words. A reflection on life and love after cancer. An optimistic wake up call to slow down. Breathe. Enjoy the day.

I can understand this urge to hesitate and savor even the smallest moments. Ironically, her book came at a tough time in my life and gave me perspective while mourning the loss of a dear soul to cancer.

So, this blog is inspired by Eloisa James. And dedicated to dearest Allie, who is looking down on these small moments from far above.

I would love for you to share a glimpse of your day. I hope it was a wonderful one.

XXOO, Michele

***

Outside my kitchen window, a round-bellied robin scampers about across the lawn. A fat feast for the stray cat lurking about as she waits for her morning meal, if Madame Rockin’ Robin isn’t careful. An early Spring means an overabundance of insects. I imagine Madame Robin feasting on gnats and mosquitoes in excess, so now her tiny wings can’t manage her great weight. I wonder how many insects the little gal consumed . . . until my eyes fall on the empty cat bowl on the outside patio.

***

A broken ankle isn’t exactly a catalyst for losing weight. Which is why today, I headed off to meet with a dietician, hoping to rediscover a newer, slender self by following a diet my aunt Pam swears by. One of the profile questions asked: Do you think of (unhealthy) food as a reward? I was tempted to confess how I partook in my version of “The Last Supper” en route to the dietician and ate a “farewell, junk food” hotdog. I checked yes next to that question.

***

Part of the life of a writer is social networking. The idea is establishing a following, and pray they will become pre-established fans of your book. Today I checked Facebook (a personal and author page), tweeted, worked on blog, added photos to Pin It, worried over how my tumblr page is outdated, checked personal and author e:mails, and realized my personal blog and webpage need serious revisions. No writing was done on my book.

***

Picturesque fields a faint tawny color, like fawns with their first coats, flank both sides of the country road that is my commute. Symmetrical rows divide the earth and carry the eye along their pathway. Spring corn will be planted and as the husks take root, remind me of time passing.

***

A fifth grade boy proudly wore a T-shirt with the statement: Jingle Bells, all girls smell. Which sums up his spirited personality perfectly—girls are silly, yucky, and to be merely tolerated. He prefers digging up bones from his backyard, boiling off the rot and dirt, and transporting the lot of them to class via his book bag. “What animal do you think it is?” he questions the class. “A muskrat,” one girl guesses. Of course, the size of the beast’s skull rules out this possibility, though her unusual reply garnishes a slightly raised eyebrow. “I think something is living inside,” another girl offers, shaking the bone. Sure enough, something inside rattled. All thoughts of smelly girls vanished, replaced by common curiosity over a yucky, unknown-animal infested cow head.

***

These days, so many treetops resemble flattened grass beds, stretching out horizontal branches with a kaleidoscope of green leaves. An October ice storm has clipped off their tops, given them an exotic appearance as if they’ve been transplanted from some subterranean tundra to decorate New Jersey lawns. I’m thankful to find branches softly dancing in the springtime breeze once again, no matter the direction.

***

My fellow femmes plus Jenna Blue and I are exchanging e:mails about our GNO (Girls Night Out for those of you who—like me—didn’t at first understand the acronym). Each month, I learn a little more about my friends via this plan making process; who is a theater, garden, and baking buff. How everyone’s life is full of children, husbands, and carpools. How they manage to juggle family, career, writing, and life in general, and still find time for a monthly catch-up.  Super-Moms with rich, flavorful lives, which I’d say equates to rich, flavorful story-telling.

***

What I love most about my place are the windows. Facing southeast, an early light casts pale yellow rays, golden latticework across my hardwood floors. On warm days like today, windows are opened wide and I feel closer to nature. And, closer to my neighbors. Neighbors whom I’m being reacquainted with as they plant posies, golf, and socialize outdoors. Familiar voices, that filter in like a song and catch me up on the goings-on.

***

Madame Robin has found her wings. I have a clear view of her, perched on a surviving limb in the tree in front of my window and bunkered down beneath the deep green leaves. The stray cat, however, is lounging on my carpet, full and content.

***

As the school year ends, I look for signs of student learning. My own NJASK, of sorts. Clearly, the lessons on persuasive writing were well learned—every day I’m greeted with another “suggestion”. Today, an incredibly intelligent student—ironically, for reasons unknown, gifted students are often placed in my class—came to me with a sheet full of coding. “You know how you showed us eighth grade algebra?” he asked. For a moment, I thought I’d been busted, for any math that is not part of 5th grade curriculum, I call 8th grade math—with great effect on their self-esteem. The # signs and abbreviated words on his paper were as foreign as French. “Do you think I can have a copy of our writer’s checklist?” little Einstein continues, “I YouTubed how to write an app, and thought the checklist would make a perfect one.” Without hesitation, I printed a fresh copy and handed it over, thinking how I’d better up the ante to 12th grade or higher.

***

Five pounds lighter. I’m ecstatically filled with a sense of accomplishment. This feeling carried me through the Wegman’s cheese department, down the bread aisle, and past the pastry display without a single hesitation. The smell of fresh bread sang out to me but my tune has changed, hopefully, for more than a week.

***

As I proof my anecdotes from the week, I keep thinking about a diary I faithfully kept as a preteen. My entries were formatted like a letter, beginning with Dear PJGR—the first initial of the Beatles, beginning with my favorite Paul. It was a white, faux-leather (a.k.a. plastic with grooves in it) with a lock. Privacy was essential, as documented in these pages were the names of every crush—and there were numerous—, girl drama, reactions to parental wrong-doings, and basically everything a young girl might confided to a best friend. You see, my best friend had moved, and it wasn’t the same recounting all my secrets over the telephone. One monumental evening, as my family sat down to dinner, my younger sister started quoting my diary. “Dear PJGR, you’ll never believe who looked at me in math class.” To my horror, my younger brother chimed in. That was the death of PJGR.  Years later, these entries are precious glimpses of myself, family, and the turbulent teen years. Small moments of time captured and recorded for better or for worse.  This week, I’m reminded of this diary, and how important it is to appreciate each day, as life passes on by.

***

This week, I hope you will do the same. Hesitate a moment. Catch a glimpse of a little detail of your life. Record it as a keepsake, and as  a reminder of how time is precious.

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8 Comments

  1. Michele, this was so wonderful. At various times in my life, I’ve kept a journal but never stuck with it. It’s a shame, really. A friend of mine has kept a journal his entire life, and he can tell you what he was doing ten years ago, twenty years ago, and so on. I get random emails from him saying, “Ten years ago, you and I did X.” I’m always jealous he can remember and I can’t.

    And….(record scratch!)…. you lost five pounds in ONE week? Or was this over a month? Regardless, congratulations!! I want to hear all about this diet the next time I see you. Maybe it’ll help me cure my Cadbury addiction.

    xo

    Reply
    • Hi Joanna, thanks for posting! I can barely remember the previous week let alone ten years ago, so having a friend who kept a diary is WAY COOL! I’ll have to bring the one I’m referring to to a GNO – so simple, the concerns of a preteen compared to an adult.

      Had my first weigh in today – 6.8 lbs. But, the next few weeks will be less. Must love veggies and must NOT love pasta. Walking past the cakes at Wegmans, I chanted the words “Fat, fat, fat” –what it will do to me, not the people at the counter. No one took it funny, luckily. 🙂

      Reply
  2. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  May 7, 2012

    Beautiful post, Michele! Thank you for sharing your week! I have kept a journal at different times of my life. I wish now that I had been consistent. Like Johanna mentioned, it is easy to forget things from years past. If memory serves, I was more diligent with the journal writing when I was going through a difficult time. Your beautiful snippets of everyday life have me thinking that my approach was wrong, even if the writing did help me get through whatever challenges I was facing at the time.

    I love that your visit with Eloisa sparked your imagination and desire to keep a journal and to then share it with us.

    Thanks again…and congrats on the weight loss!

    RoseAnn

    Reply
    • Hi RoseAnn, Thanks so much for commenting. I’m curious how many writers kept journals in years past. Kind of wish I did more of it. I know what you mean about writing getting you through tough times. It is helpful to put your feeling to paper.

      Cheers, and get that COMPLETED (yeah) manuscript out! Michele

      Reply
  3. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  May 9, 2012

    Hi, Michele! I love your poetic ramblings about your week. They are so illustrative! I think that, even if you take a moment, as you have, to write a paragraph about something you are experiencing, that moment will stick in your mind longer.

    I used to keep a little notebook by my bed, and every night I would take five minutes to just jot down one thing I was thankful for that day. Sometimes, when life gets hectic and crazy, and things aren’t going the way my type A brain wants it too, it’s hard to remember the things/events/people that really matter. Or why that person with whom I am butting heads is so important to me.

    I need to resurrect that habit, and add the Femmes, Jenna, and our GNO to my list of blessings.

    Great job on the getting healthy plan…I need to get serious, as well. I was doing well, then the weather got bad again and my exercise plan went out the window! Time for plan B.

    Keep writing those observations down…maybe they’ll make it into a story one day.

    Hugs,
    Jaye

    Reply
  4. Nice post, Michele. When I was a teenager, I used to keep a journal but not any more. I get very easily caught up in all the things I need to accomplish and am always doing 2 (or more) things at one time. Plus, prioritizing and trying not to stress about what I’m not getting to. Watching my son’s tennis practice or my daughter’s softball games has forced me to “sit”, somewhat. I had the pleasure of celebrating my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary last weekend. It was a great time to celebrate life and all the happy memories. I had fun looking through old pictures and reminiscing to times when things were simpler (although I probably hadn’t thought they were at the time). It was a happy time to stop and celebrate just being.

    Reply
  5. hieubietusa

     /  May 14, 2012

    This post is more than interesting. It cuts right to the heart of gender differences. Though in today’s (I don’t know how to describe it) world…the word differences is racist…or sexist or well…fill in the blanks.
    As a teacher I saw countless girls with their “journals.” It ranged from a Hello Kitty notebook, to a simple notepad.
    The boys? You were lucky that they possessed a notebook to jot down their homework.
    Even myself, at any age, found taking notes or some sought of thoughts of the day impossible. My memory must have been gigantic. (not really)
    I open it to discussion…viva la difference…oops is that sexist?

    Reply
  6. jennablueblogs

     /  May 15, 2012

    I just love this post, Michele! Fabulous entries. I enjoyed every one, sometimes laughing, sometimes sighing, sometimes cheering! I’m so glad for all your successes in writing and life, but must specifically call out the loss of 5lbs! : ) Congrats! That’s awesome!
    Julie

    Reply

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