Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mothers & Daughters

In my newest short story (Skincare), Chrissie Sorensen finds a way to rebel against her mother, but ultimately her choice is more self-destructive than vengeful.
I've long recognized that an inordinate amount of my fiction writing is devoted to mother-daughter relationships. I'm also aware that, duh, this is because of my relationship with my mother.
Yeah, yeah, yawn. Here we go with another Mommy Dearest tale.
From my mother, I learned to make a decent bechamel sauce. I did not learn how to fix my hair, put on make-up, drive a car, or act like a mature adult. These were not things that she herself could do, ergo, she could not teach them to me.
Granted, I was a difficult child, and I remember more than once her shrieking at me, "I hope you have a daughter just like you someday."
I have three daughters. They are now all over 21. Raising them has been the joy of my life and, today as I look at these beautiful and accomplished women, I'm amazed that they were once the tiny girls I tucked into bed, read stories to, and whose boo-boos I could heal with a kiss. I really can't take credit for who they've become because try as I might, I have not always been up to the task of being "Mother." As they grew older, I lost the ability to give them answers, fix problems, or be a role model of perfect behavior and good decision making. I screw up. I do and say stupid things and continually expose myself to them as a deeply flawed human being. For that, I quite sincerely and publicly apologize. Being a better mother still ranks right up there with all the other things I wish I could give my girls.
Oscar Wilde once said something like: "Children often love their parents, but they rarely forgive them." Such is life. I can only hope that maybe through my stories, the girls and I and anyone else who reads them might take a step closer to understanding the webbed and intricate complexities of mothers and daughters.

Monday, September 14, 2009

On Down the Road

Labor Day weekend, Woki and I met a very interesting person, Wendy Witchner. She, unlike Mariah, is absolutely non-fictional.

Wendy is a jeweler who was among the 200-plus artists exhibiting with the Deer Path Art League's Fair on the Square, and her unique and lovely work drew me and many others to her booth. As I perused the necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that she had crafted from silver, beads, and antique buttons, I listened while she chatted with her customers. She told us that she made her first jewelry at age twelve, that her mother had been a scuba diver on the West Coast back when that was an outrageous job for a woman, and that she herself had been a flight instructor in Alaska. Now, she lives with her dog, Allie, in a 26-foot motor home and travels from art show to art show all year long.

For the rest of the afternoon, I found myself thinking about the romance and difficulties of such a lifestyle. There is certainly a beguiling allure to being so self-contained: one's home and business always at hand, the comfortable companionship of a faithful dog at one's side, the ability to pick up and leave--or stay--in one spot on any whim of the soul or the weather.

I bet there could be a pretty cool "Adventures of Wendy in Wonderland" blog. Perhaps it could even be spun into a fictional series: each episode, Wendy pulls into a new town where she discovers trouble (someone else's), solves the problem (cleverly), and drives off into the sunset.

Ah, but there I go trying to take her to Fictionland. Wendy is a real person, working hard to make a living in the real world. While the notion of being free and unencumbered enough to have one's entire life contained in 26 portable feet is the stuff of fantasies, in reality it could also be the stuff of nightmares. What happens if the "car" breaks down or has a flat tire? What about bad storms? Wendy spends a lot of time in Florida where tornadoes treat RVs much as sharks treat tender swimmers. And financial security in the sunshine artists' community is oxymoronic.
Hers is a lifestyle that requires more courage than I could muster, even in my wildest dreams, but I really admire her spirit.

I went back to her booth and bought a bracelet of silver beads and snowflake obsidian. Wendy is many miles down the road by now, but the bracelet will be a reminder of the value of independence, and perhaps somewhere down my own road, one of my characters will find herself living in a 26-foot motor home.

Please visit the real Wendy at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mariah Returns

A day or so ago, Woki and I were joined on our afternoon walk by Mariah Springer. (We had first encountered her a couple of weeks ago as she dashed past us on her way to the train.) As we walked along together this time, I learned quite a bit about her.
She lives in one of those really big houses near the Lake with her husband, Steve, and their ten-year-old son, Charlie. She and Steve both grew up in L.F., but he is eight years older than she, so they never knew each other as kids. They met when Mariah had just graduated from high school and they both happened to be at a Deer Path Gallery opening--Mariah's mother was showing some of her paintings, and Steve was there with his parents who had donated a significant sum of money to the Gallery.
Actually, Steve sounds like kind of a jerk. He's very controlling. The kind of guy that has to know her every move, which isn't too hard since Mariah doesn't even have a driver's license. Personally, I can't understand how anyone can get along without driving, but she said she walks to town almost every day, and if she has serious shopping to do, she takes the train into the city.
"What about groceries?" I asked.
Turns out, they have a housekeeper and a cook who take care of all that. They get deliveries from Sunset Foods twice a week, and anything Mariah wants, she just puts on a list for Carmella. (She's the housekeeper.)
So what does she do all day long?
She spends a lot of time in the dance studio they had built on the third floor. Mariah was going to be a professional ballerina before she married Steve. It's still her passion. Three times a week, Duncan DeMiro comes to the house to give her private lessons, which Steve doesn't mind because it is so obvious that Duncan is, in Steve's words, "gay as a Christmas pudding." Sometimes, Mariah sees Duncan as her only connection to the outside world....

So nobody's life is perfect. And there is a story here, which I plan to post on the Friends' Writers' Group blog as soon as it is up. Please keep checking here at Liminalesque to find out when that will be, and anyone interested in the Friends' Writers' Group (a.k.a. FWG) please email the group at