Category Archives: Auth: Jamie Brazil
Yesterday I threw out my January 2017 poster board of goals. In a quest to Marie-Kondo-ize that closet you see there behind me — the closet that up until yesterday held a mash up of both literary and garage sale sins — I figured out that I lost my sense of humor.
Yeah, it’s been a tough go of things this year.
My sense of humor was NOT in the closet. It is somewhere, but it was not in the closet.
In the meantime, I heaped piles in the middle of my office floor and edited. Brutally. Boxed papers for shredding. Stacked a four-foot-high tower of stuff near the front door to be re-homed. There are wicker baskets (why do I own a large collections of wicker baskets?) , hangers, clothes that don’t fit me, things I’ll never get around to selling, books (lots of books) and the ramblings of half-finished projects. Oh, and at the aforementioned garage sales, I’ve found REALLY USEFUL things like light-up animatronic flamingos.
Hmmm. The center of the floor was still a mess.
Disheartened by the chaos I bailed and went to a movie (Wonder Woman… brilliant… though the stabs of humor in the script felt forced).
Mentally restored, I returned home and tackled the last of the pile, finishing my task around 9pm. Exhausted, with an aching elbow that I don’t know how I injured, and still humorless.
What I do know is that I need a fresh start. For writing, for excavating even deeper than an office closet, and for laughter that comes from the belly.
Do April showers bring May flowers? We’ve had enough rain last month, and on a personal note, many tears too. When the Janes gathered last month at the RCRW Spring Fling I had no idea the month would end in such heartbreak: less than a week ago my two-year old Bloodhound passed away Whether it was an accident or intentional, he was poisoned
Though my “fur-baby” Angus is gone far too soon, I try to remind myself how fortunate I’ve been to have shared my home with not just one but TWO Bloodhounds. Each one magnificent in his and her own way.
So here’s hoping the rain wraps up, the sky clears, and the blossoming flowers in the coming days of May lift everyone’s spirits.
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!