Would You Want to Be Immortal?

One of the trends on Facebook and other social media sites is “Throw Back Thursday” or “Flashback Friday” where your friends post pictures of themselves or their families from a long time ago. It’s cute to see some of the old pictures, but really, do we need to be reminded of plaid polyester and oversized collars? I guess, if only to make sure we don’t repeat history.

I haven’t posted any old pictures, because frankly, I’m too lazy to dig them out, scan them, file them in a new folder in the picture gallery on my computer and then upload them. Nobody cares that much about the yellow, red, purple, and orange flowered pant suit I wore in the 4th grade except my mother and Mrs. Owens my fourth grade teacher. May she rest in peace.

But this week “Throw Back Thursday” had me thinking of long ago events like the first time I ever went to a concert. Van Halen, April 3, 1984. That was 30 years ago and 30 is a very large number. Wasn’t it only yesterday I pulled on my white jeans, red sweatshirt, and tied a red bandanna around my thigh as a testament to my loyalty as a VH fan? How can it be that my own children are now asking to see their favorite artists in concert? (Let me just say the price of concert tickets today do not resemble the price of my VH ticket in 1984.)

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Not exactly Alex Van Halen’s drum set, but you get the idea.

How about friendships? I have friends I’ve known for more years than my Van Halen concert anniversary. I’m grateful for those friends and in my eyes they will forever be 14. I can only hope they see me the same way and not the middle-aged, lined face individual I have morphed into like a demon character in a sci-fi novel. I’m also grateful for my Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick in Warm Beige. Just saying.

The alternative to having large numbered anniversaries is having small ones or worse, none at all. Even though many days I want to believe the date on my driver’s license is a lie, I still feel like that kid going to her first VH concert. There is so much I still want to accomplish like learning to play the drums or speaking Italian (the real Italian and not the dialect of my crazy family) fluently. I haven’t hit any of the best sellers lists yet and that goal might take me well into my golden years. Hopefully, air brushing technology will continue to improve so my author photo will resemble me and not that demon character I’m fighting off with my foundation stick.

Honestly, I’ve thought I might like to live forever like Dorian Gray, but minus the magic picture business. (Maybe just drink an elixir) Then I’d have all the time in the world to slay dragons while speaking Italian. And if I can’t live forever than 150 years would be good as long as I could still do yoga. If I could make it to that age, then I wouldn’t be mid-life but heck, maybe still a toddler with lots to learn. I’d want the people I cared most about to grow really old with me too otherwise, I’d have no one to go to Van Halen concerts with.

So, what about you, faithful reader, would you want immortality? Why or why not? What would you be willing to do to get it?

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Mother – Daughter Relationships

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No, this isn’t us. I’m not a blonde – yet.

I’m currently navigating the Mother – Daughter relationship with an almost 12 year-old. Let me tell you, it’s no picnic. I already navigated the Daughter – Mother relationship and I think my mother and I survived the growing years with only minor injuries. Not bad for an Italian family where there is a constant threat of being hit with a wooden spoon. But I digress. 

I can’t seem to get this Mother – Daughter thing right and maybe I never will. Or maybe by the time I realize I did, my daughter will be a mother herself. Which will make me old enough to have lost my mind and I won’t care. Either way, the road through the growing years is more like a war zone. And not so much for raising a boy. His road seems to be filled with minor pot holes. Relatively easy to drive around and only a few that bend your rim beyond repair. I feel badly about that. But why should I think raising two different children should be the same? Because I’m a stubborn Italian, that’s why.

And being a stubborn Italian doesn’t help any when you’re playing the role of Mother. I want so badly for my daughter to heed my advice. Doesn’t she realize I’m wasting valuable air because I love her and want the best for her? Not now, she doesn’t. Nope, now all she wants is to figure it out for herself and all I want to do is convince her to listen to me. I’m working on that. Like the other day, when I arrived at her Lip Sync tryouts with a brand new hula hoop she needed for her act. I had stopped work early, drove in the pouring rain for 20 minutes to purchase a stupid, plastic hoop filled with water. Well, guess what? She didn’t like. She said it was too light. She wanted her old one that was peeling and looked like we dragged it out of a dumpster. I wanted to tell her they were the exact same thing from the same company and hula hoops don’t come in different weights. It’s a six dollar item. Not something used by Olympic athletes around the world. But, this time I caught myself.

“Use your old one,” I said. And off she went with a look of triumph. It wasn’t worth the fight. Score one for the Italian.

Maybe there’s hope for me yet. Maybe not. There’s still a lot of terrain left to travel on this Mother – Daughter road. And if all else fails, there’s always the wooden spoon.

Do You Want to Be in a Book Club?

A friend of mine was recently asking about a kids’ book club. I ran a book club, adult actually, for seven years,DSC02090but as a writer, a speaker at schools, and a mother I thought I’d put together a how to on holding a book club for kids. Many of these same suggestions apply to adult book clubs.

Decide whether this book club is for kids only or do you want a parent involved in the discussion too? That could depend on the ages of the children, but keep in mind this isn’t a babysitting service. Don’t do the drop and run.

Which leads to, where do you want to hold these meetings? You could have them out at a Barnes & Noble or local coffee shop. I’d stay away from the library because the kids will have to keep quiet and if the discussion gets animated why stifle that? Plus, they can have a snack if you’re in a coffee shop or diner. Or you could host the meetings in your home. There are pros and cons with hosting in your house, like you might want to clean up before they come, and you might have a mom or two who definitely think it’s a chance to run to Kohl’s for a minute. I would have snacks if you’re hosting and make sure the host rotates so no one mom is always using her house.

Having said that, make sure you put some parameters in place right up front. In my book club, we agreed to some small guidelines, just to keep everyone honest. Like, you must participate in the discussion. You’d think this was obvious. Because we met in Barnes & Noble it was tempting for some to read magazines instead of talking to us. Which I didn’t understand since they bothered to read the book, but I digress. If someone doesn’t agree with your guidelines, then this book club isn’t for them. That’s okay. They can start their own.

My beta readers for my books are middle school kids and we have a discussion about the book just like a book club. It helps me know what’s working and what doesn’t. I keep that discussion to roughly thirty minutes. I suggest you do the same. Build in some socializing time because the reality is book clubs talk very little about the book and a whole lot about everything else. Make sure to use open ended questions.

To keep your discussion from going totally off the rails, have discussion questions ready for each meeting. You can assign that task to whoever is hosting or whoever picks the book or the leader of the book club. Everyone should get a chance to pick a book. In my book club it was required that everyone pick at least one book for the year. The person who picked the book was responsible for the discussion questions. It worked out well. We also liked to pick books in advance so if someone finished a book and wanted to read ahead they could. Picking in advance also allowed for sharing of the books.

Another suggestion for the kids is have them make connections while reading and bring those to share with the group. Have them mark a favorite scene or a passage they might need further explanation of. They could highlight a favorite quote or a spot where they laughed out loud or have them tell you when they first decided they liked the main character. All of these suggestions will add to your discussion. Just remember everyone is entitled to their opinion so no judgement please.

Regardless of what path you choose, it’s your book club and you can decide to run it however you want. Nothing is set in stone. The idea is to share our love of reading. Go forth, my faithful reader and start that book club.  Then come back and let us know how it’s going.

Happy Reading!

Sunday Afternoon – Not in the Park

I was at the Flemington Jewish Community Center waiting to give a workshop on developing character. No one showed. No one except Husband and my friend. (She had to unlock the FJCC to let me in, so she was kind of wrangled into it, but I appreciate her just the same.) I’ve read and heard the stories a thousand times about an author who sat through a book signing and no one came except the homeless lady who wanted out of the cold and the chocolate. It’s funny, really. Well, funny for me, maybe not the author whose only visit was the homeless.

I thought I’d be totally bummed. But I’m not. So what no one came. My name ended up in the paper. Very cool. I was listed on MSN.com. Super cool. My mother has started a scrapbook for me. It can’t get much better than that.

And yet it does. Daughter goes to school and peddles my book! (She takes after her father the salesman.) My friends repost my links about my events. Love them for that. They “like” my posts and cheer me on. I’ve even sold a couple of books. Not too shabby.

Sunday afternoon was a total success. Can’t wait to do it again.