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December 16, 2007 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as ,

by Rebecca Forster

I guess you’ve figured it out. The months of the year are my inspiration for this blog. You tune in and I give you my take on – well, something about the month. Sometimes it’s a stretch, sometimes not. But now it’s time for the big one.
December. Xmas. The holiday season.

So much to write about and so little time. Gifts. Holiday music. Horrid materialism which, if truth be told, would be relabeled miraculous generosity if I was the one opening a little blue box from Tiffany’s on Christmas morning. Be that as it may, I’m a writer and this time I’m not going to take the easy way out. I want to give you something to think about. I want my words to paint a picture that is eloquent in its simplicity, deep in meaning. In short, a blog that is unforgettable.
I want to tell you a cautionary Christmas tale. It is true. I saw it with my own eyes.

We lived in Los Angeles then. Our families were still in the South Bay. With parents getting on, brothers and sisters spread out all over the country, we felt obligated to spend the Christmas holidays driving: Long Beach, Redondo and back home to Los Angeles more times that I could count.

Back and forth; forth and back. Nothing spectacular – until two days after Christmas. The children were asleep in the back of the car. My husband was silent, tired of the freeways and cheer that had run its course. I sat beside him, my head resting on my upturned palm, thinking about nothing in particular. It was late afternoon and I would have nodded off too – but then I saw her.

I sat up straight and touched my husband’s arm. I raised my chin. He looked. His eyes narrowed. We didn’t wake the children. We didn’t want them to see the woman standing on the off-ramp but we couldn’t take our eyes off her. We passed her slowly. For a fleeting moment I wondered if we should stop. She looked so pitiful. I started to speak but my husband shook his head. He drove by. I swiveled in my seat hoping she saw that I, at least, sympathized. Perhaps she felt my interest. She turned to watch us. I saw the terror in her eyes. We could have helped. We didn’t. She held up her sign. The words were burned into my memory.

Spent too much at Xmas. Please help.

I turned my back just as the late afternoon California sun caught the diamond on her hand and shot a Christmas star of light into my eyes. She pulled her fur coat tight around her, shook back her streaked hair and turned to the next car. There, I thought, but for the grace of a credit limit, go I.

Merry Christmas to all those who give and those who receive.

Rebecca Forster

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November 16, 2007 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as ,

by Rebecca Forster

Like hopscotch, anyone who is anyone (think Hallmark, Macys, my children) leap off Halloween, land firmly on Christmas and roll their broke –and- tired- of- celebrating selves into a new year with only a quick touchdown in November for Thanksgiving day. All this makes the month of November seem irrelevant, a step child, a wallflower at the dance. A chapter that one can skip without missing anything important to the story.

Case in point. The grocery store, November 1. Milk is the mission. To get to the dairy case I had to dodge the sale bins of Halloween candy (brown corrugated cardboard) and slalom around the even bigger full-price bins of Christmas candy (red and green corrugated cardboard) . When I finally got to the milk it was surrounded by little soldiers encased in waxy yellow cardboard – the infamous eggnog..

To be fair, I did spy a display of cornstarch (bright yellow cardboard), Cornbread stuffing mix (brown cardboard) and pumpkin pie goop (hallelujia, a tin can). I suppose my brain should have registered Thanksgiving but the wreath display above the end-cap made me think Christmas dinner.

Which brings me to November and its one-day claim to fame – Thanksgiving. Other months are filled with days of celebration. October is spent sewing costumes, watching horror movies, getting ready for trick-or-treat. December’s days come with luncheons, holiday parties, gift exchanges and cookie baking. Thanksgiving’s frenetic cooking and eating is twenty-four hours long and the next day Christmas sales wipe November from our minds completely.

For me, though, ignoring November is like skipping over a chapter that really deserves attention. Sure there may be a hot love scene in chapter twelve, but chapter eleven gives you all the subtle little insights into why you’ll care what happens next. So here is my November; here is what I would miss if, every year, I leapt over this chapter in my life.

November is the month when I first feel the bite of a cold wind that reminds me even California has seasons and that, in reality, I’m still a Missouri girl. It is the month when long days become short and the early darkness makes me feel like nesting. Cuddled under a quilt of my own making I take the time to truly appreciate the feathers of that nest: chicks who come and go, a husband who still finds this bird the most lovable in the flock after 31 years, a warm place to hunker down if the rain comes.

November is a month in which we celebrate the birthdays of my sisters-in-law – a set of twins and one more. They have been my good friends for what seems like forever. It is the month I travel to see my own brothers and sisters half way across the country. I can’t wait because seeing their faces – even if it is only now and again – makes me feel as if I am still young, my father is still with us, my mother will still rule the roost and all is right with the world.

November isn’t the end, so I still have time to do things that will make me feel as if I am wrapping up the year well; it is not the beginning so there isn’t the uncertainty that what lies ahead might not be as good as what was left behind.

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September 16, 2007 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as ,

by Rebecca Forster

“We’d like you to blog,” Michelle Thorne said.

“What would I write about?” I asked.

“Anything you want,” she answered.

Okay. That was kind of like bobbing around in the middle of the Ocean of Whatever hoping to spy the Land of Interesting. The choices were endless. My day? My mother? The darn screen that keeps popping out of the upstairs window? Thankfully, choices can always be narrowed. For instance, when the phone rang I was in the middle of a choice: start a new book or stick my head in the oven. Both had valid reasons for being viable. Thinking about that led me to consider point of view.

Was I a half-empty kind of girl or half-full?

Would I really stick my head in the oven or was that simply an expression of boredom.

If I did stick my head in the oven, would I be overcome by the need to clean it before I was overcome by fumes?

Was I emotional, irrational, impulsive or a critical and creative thinker?

Was I too lazy to type?

Was I a tough guy or a quitter?

And all that got me thinking again! This time the word that popped into my head was angles – which point of view invariably becomes. Like in the old movies when someone asks “what’s your angle, buddy?” What they’re really asking is “whaddaya want? What’s in it for me?”

Okay, so what did I want? I wanted to do something concrete and didn’t feel like doing it. From my point of view, the day was a bust until Michelle presented me with another choice. Write a blog.

Cool. Different. Manageable.

If stuck my head in the oven the payoff was lousy. If I started a new project I might actually hit the jackpot and write a bestseller. Still, that was a tall order and it wasn’t a tall order kind of day. A blog, however. That I could do. It sparked my imagination. What would be my angle? Whatever it was, it had to be right. Write Angle (don’t you just love it when the road leads somewhere?)

Engineers and architects use angles to create solid foundations, strong walls, perfectly peaked roofs and expansive bridges. Artists use angles to form new shapes that please the eye and fire the imagination. Think of a dancer, body laid flat in space, feet planted firmly on the ground. Writers use angles to keep the story interesting.

We’re all angling for something. Mostly we’re angling to feel productive and happy and creative. We’ll have days where we’re bored stiff and others where we’re revved up. We’ll have ideas that go nowhere and others that we have waited for all our lives. Me, I’m just angling to keep things interesting. Sticking my head in the oven is out. Blogging is in. And that bestseller? That looks good from any angle.

Rebecca Forster

Rebecca Forster

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Smokin’ Valentine By Rebecca Forster

February 24, 2007 by in category Worst Valentine’s Day Ever Contest tagged as

I’d been dating Marty for three months when Valentine’s Day rolled around.

He wasn’t the most demonstrative guy, but he knew what he was doing in the sack and that counts for a lot. He laughed at my jokes when he was around to hear them, didn’t have a string of exes or kids to compete for his time. He looked great in a suit, not so great in jeans. His buddies meant the world to him. If I was a piece of real estate I figured I was right up there with the State of Maine – small but solidly on the radar. I could live with all of this as long as Marty hit the high notes. So, the day of hearts and flowers was kind of a milestone and I prepared appropriately.

The steaks were ready, the table set. I was bathed and perfumed. The music selection was lined up. I would start with sweet and move to seductive. I set aside the fake wax log in favor of real wood for the fireplace. Seven o’clock passed by forty-five minutes when there was an insistent knock on the door.

Better late than never, I figured. I also gave him points for being eager.

I adjusted my cleavage, licked my lips and loved the way the fire threw off just enough golden light to make me look warm and inviting. I opened that door real slow, narrowed my eyes, let a smile play upon my ultra-glossed lips. All wasted. I was looking at the old lady from across the street.

“Your house is on fire, dear.”

She stepped back, raised a hand, rolled her eyes. I thought she looked quite nice in the firelight, too. This fire, though, was shooting straight out of the chimney.

“Damn.” I muttered.

“I should say,” she answered. “I called nine-one-one.”

“Great.” Just what I needed. Company on Valentine’s Day.

On the bright side, Marty would hear the sirens, rush to my side, gather me up, turn my head into his shoulder, whisper he was grateful that I was alright. We would fall in love, marry, have children. Our children’s children would re-tell this tale of love at our funerals.

While I waited for Marty’s entrance, I pushed the neighbor onto the lawn and ran for the hose. This was no easy feat. My WonderBra was too tight, my dress too long, my heels too high. I made for it with a sort of whump of a gallop that left me stuck in the thick grass every third step. Breathless when I finally got to it, I grabbed the darn thing and headed back to the middle of the lawn. I hollered at the little old lady as I passed.

“Spot me!”

She hightailed it over to the faucet, her eyes never leaving the flames that now shot five feet in the air. A breeze kicked up. Cinders flew. Every damn house on the street had shake roofs including mine. The sirens were louder but they weren’t close enough.

“Turn it on!” I screamed, holding tight to the nozzle.

“Turning it on,” the old lady screamed back.

I planted myself and waited for the rush of water. My hair was coming loose from its chignon. My arms were tight to my sides. I was Woman – hear me roar. Marty would be so impressed when he arrived.

“You’re not straight dear!” The old lady again, pulling me out of my daydream.

She unkinked the hose before I was ready. The water shot out, soaking my dress before I got it on the roof. Then came the red lights. Noise. Men in yellow suits and helmets coming to save me.

It went pretty quick after that. Hunky guys put out the flames while the old lady and I watched. Marty never showed but a damn good looking fireman grinned down at me from his perch on the roof. I smiled back. The evening wasn’t a total loss.

Long story short. The guy wasn’t smiling, he was grimacing. He’d slipped on the roof I watered down. His ankle was broken. They took him away on a gurney. My dinner burned. Marty never showed. The old lady and I finished off a bottle of wine, toasting our brave hearts. By the time we were done, I didn’t care that mine was just a little bit broken, too.

Rebecca Forster
Hostile Witness
Silent Witness
Privileged Witness

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