Category Archives: Auth: Jamie Brazil
Love stories abound this month, but I know you’re busy. So on a practical, and succinct, note I’ve curated the best stories. Quoted and paraphrased for brevity. Here we go, 60 seconds of IRL love:
“Costco. Bought one tire at a time until I worked up the courage to ask him out.” (17 + years together )
“She was my student. Adult ESL.” (9 years)
“It was after the war. My best friend’s boyfriend’s buddy needed a dance partner.” (50+ years)
“1965 anti-war protest. I was studying to become a priest.” (40+ years)
“Scattering the ashes of deceased husband.” (3 years)
“Knew him from square dancing. We were doing dishes when he threw the dishtowel over his shoulder, got down on one knee and proposed.” (20+ years)
“On the job. Funeral home.” (25 years)
“On the bus, commuting to work. Saw each other every day.” (30+ years)
“Conference. Slept together before our first date.” (15+ years)
“Too broke to take a vacation, I played tourist with my best friend and an acquaintance set up a sailboat trip for us. Met the love of my life.” (50+ years)
“Overseas. Volunteer relief work. I was drawn to his compassion.” (20+ years)
“She put her paw in my hand. Everything went still in that moment.” (6.5 years)
Though See Jane Publish steers clear of politics, the other day I found myself in a line up (Portland is famous for long lines – from donuts to dive bars, there’s ALWAYS a line) discussing strong women in history. The usual suspects came up first: Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany), and Hillary Clinton.
Blame it on the election year. The conversation with strangers made me think about other types of female empowerment… and realize a trend that’s been gaining ground in publishing:
Ever since Gone Girl and the Amazing Amy (capable of appalling feats that make readers love to hate her, and prompted almost 43,000 reader reviews on Amazon) publishers have been chasing those resilient bad girls. Is a new definition of a STRONG WOMAN emerging?
Fast forward to 2016. I just finished Maestra. A 27-year old art house assistant, Judith Rashleigh, wears an aspirational tweed suit as she plays by the rules in the art world she lives and breathes. When she takes on a second job in a champagne bar entertaining older men, her darker side emerges, and is later ignited when she is fired from her job.
Rage becomes her full time job as she plots her revenge. She becomes dangerous and glamorous. Manipulative and lonely. She is decades of complicated with an alcoholic mother and an obsession with 17th century artist Artemsia Gentileshci. I couldn’t help but like her (and Googled all the references to Gentileshci as I read).
Even as her scheming ramps up to murder, and she brutally slices the Achilles tendon of her victim before brutally butchering him to a slow death, I mentally cheered “Go Judith!”
Okay, so this is just fiction, not real life. Yet I have to wonder if the popularity of these heroines—or rather, anti-heroines—is a reflection of the strength many women seek?
I mean, we can’t all be serial killers, but we might occasionally play one in our imaginations, yes?
Or perhaps the conversation I had in line offered a glimpse of the future? Are we reverting back to Lizzy Borden, Lucrezia Borgia, and Marquise de Merteuil (Dangerous Liaisons)? If we are seeing a resurgence of the manipulative bad girl, we may want to take a very close look at who we’re voting for in the upcoming elections.
The older I get, the faster time flies by. Thankfully, this post isn’t about bygone years, plans, and everything I haven’t yet done. It’s about my resolutions for 2016. This brand new year of … oh what the hell… three and a half months have passed and I’m still not setting the world on fire with ambition.
Which is okay. I’m doing abundance resolutions this year: actions that bring me joy.
- Drink coffee from a rainbow unicorn mug every morning (Elwood!). CHECK.
- Send GREAT cards. Not just birthdays, all occasions. E-cards, mailed cards, handmade cards, this year I’ve resolved to show others how much I care for them. With cards. CHECK.
- Sip exquisite tea every day. Chocolate mints, jasmines, bergamots and chamomiles. I began the year with an excellent stash and found some new ones along the way, too. Yet the daily ritual of tea I started back in January has slipped to every few days, or once a week. The tea resolution is going the way of an abandoned gym membership. UH-OH.
Simple goals, not necessarily creative ones. Unlike other years, 2016 is not a year of high individual creativity. It’s about a community effort and using the storytelling skills I’ve been working on for the last 15 years in a new form. In the meantime, I raise my rainbow unicorn mug (filled with tea maybe?) to all who are tackling their 2016 resolutions with gusto. When you arrive, let me know. I’d love to send you a congratulatory card!
Is it just me or is February a busy month? With Superbowl over, and the Year of the Monkey (Chinese New Year) officially upon us, there’s barely a moment to make plans for Valentine’s Day. Which why we are dedicating this month’s theme to the best love of all, PUPPY LOVE.
It could also be an excuse to share MORE of our favorite dog photos.
A little less than one year ago a five month old puppy named Angus came home with me. A re-home. A Christmas present gone wrong, he was an ad on Craigslist.
Last winter, I really didn’t want another Bloodhound. Really, really wasn’t ready. Still grieving the loss of Frankie, my first Bloodhound, I’d already booked a vacation back east. I didn’t want to deal with the complications of boarding a puppy. To top it all off, I wasn’t certain about my future income.
Yet my heart was breaking. There was a Bloodhound puppy that needed a home. When the timing is right, I told myself. When my job situation settled.
I’ll just look, make an appointment with the owner and help her make sure she adopts him out to the right type of owner – Bloodhounds are not a breed for everyone. They’re working dogs, and quite destructive when bored.
And there he was in all his soft-eyed, slobbery glory.
After visiting him twice a day for three days, and having him sleep in his crate with my husband’s old stinky t-shirt, we were ready to bring him home. On the fourth day, he hopped into our car without hesitation and began his new life with us.
The heart wants what the heart wants. Or in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “Buy a pup and your money will buy Love unflinching that cannot lie.”
Every morning, hours before the dawn, I lace up my steel-toe boots and head into a cavernous warehouse filled with millions of pounds of freight. For the last 30 days I’ve been hiding out in a FedEx hub, avoiding all things Christmas and discovering muscles I never knew I had.
My original plan was to lose 10 pounds, make a few bucks, and emerge fit and confident in the New Year, ready to job hunt for something in my field. What I found during the hours spent methodically loading row after row of holiday boxes was a new level of meditation. I climbed a mountain of packages, summitted the peak of chaos, and found my own Zen retreat. All in the back of a semi-trailer.
Despite the blare of buzzers, the roar of engines, the grind of conveyor belts, and, from the deep recesses of the operation, profane howls of managers in distress, there is a great stillness. A stillness in me. A stillness the Dalai Lama might even approve of.
To be clear, I’m not physically “still” at any point. The job requires scanning and stacking 400-plus packages per hour. No, this was my brain coming to a total and complete stop, floating in a sea of 100% present-ness. And in that state of present-ness, epiphanal moments were as abundant as Smart TVs after Cyber Monday.
Here are my top four:
- Enjoy having a job that brings joy. I know I’m not Santa, but I am a small part in the chain that delivered presents around the world.
- ICs (InCompatibles) happen. These are overweight or irregularly shaped packages. Into every load some ICs must fall – or sometimes they comprise the entire load. They’re like a karmic reminder inflicted upon all package handlers. Still, I learned how to push, drag, and nudge everything from 84-pound truck rims to my personal best, a granite-topped martini bar that I slid and gently tipped into place using my own body weight as a counterbalance.
- Every thing has a place. Heavy stuff on the bottom. Light on top. And maximize every square inch of trailer. Package handlers never ask philosophical questions like: Is the semi-trailer is half full or half empty? It’s always full. Every thing has a place.
- Treat all beings, and packages, with respect. Do not cause suffering for others. It doesn’t hurt that FedEx has a rule that throwing packages equals instant termination. However… I also empathize with my co-workers when I hear the f-bombs from neighboring trailers. Avoid package avalanches!
Now that the holiday rush is over, I’m still employed and wondering what comes next. Did I lose weight like I hoped? Nope. Not a pound, though I’ve definitely lost inches, my arms are toned, and I dare say, even muscular. My clothes fit better and I’m feeling good about whatever comes next in 2016.
But am I ready to move on, say goodbye to morning sunrises and taut biceps, and return to the nine-to-five haul of sales?
Tuesday morning I’ll put my steel-toe boots on one at a time and see if the answer is waiting for me in the next semi-trailer.