Fiction Friday, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

My Mystery Object Speaks

It was a circular, silver jewelry tin I’d received, from my oma, on my twentieth birthday. She handed it to me, in her kitchen, at our combined birthday celebrations. Hers was three days before mine. When I was turning twenty she was turning eighty-three. Inside the tin I discovered twenty loonies, Canadian dollar coins, one for every year of my life.

Why hadn’t I thought of that for her? Would have needed a bigger tin.

🙂

Fast-forward more than eleven years and I placed the silver tin, faded from sitting on a dresser in my bedroom, on a conference table – my contribution to my new writer’s group and the game called: Mystery Object.

It was, I’d recently discovered, an excellent writing exercise. I was pleased I was getting the chance to bring the object for this week’s festivities.

The rules are: someone brings an object, an air of mystery to it, and the remaining time is spent with everyone, after having passed the object around the room, writing a story where the object plays a part, no matter how big or small.

Past mystery objects have included:

— A painted model of a dragon

And

— A ticket stub from a visit to the Eiffel Tower.

I guess I cheated because I didn’t just bring the silver tin, but inside, instead of twenty Canadian dollars, there now rests a necklace, a blue pendant on a chain.

Two for one I guess, but nobody seemed to complain. I’d taken the necklace as the object, originally; however, as I’d needed a case to carry it, in the moment I grabbed the tin and placed the necklace inside.

This gave us all more options. We could write a story about the tin, the necklace, or any combination of the two, more or less.

They even wanted to know the history of the mystery.

🙂

The mystery object meaning the necklace, which a few of the women around the table murmured comments of interest over. The guy with, what I’m guessing is a British accent, he was supportive when I told the group a little bit of history about the blue gem on the chain.

“It was originally a Christmas present for a friend who never came back to claim it. A bit of a falling out with that friend, the end of a friendship,” I told them vaguely, leaving plenty of room for creative licence and imagination.

“‘Looks like you came out on top,” someone said. I appreciated this person trying to make me feel better about the situation myself and my necklace had been through in the past. I appreciated that, as new as I was to the writing group, any one of them would say that, as my relationship to these people is still just beginning to develop, for whatever that might mean.

My first attempt at the mystery object exercise resulted in a narrative, made up of two people in an antique shop. This is one of my favourite settings for a story, since my senses were set off strong upon entering an old building, converted into an antique shop in my town, on a dreary October day a few years ago.

I have had a dislike for old things ever since childhood, but now I see their stories in the feelings they bring forth in me and in others.

This mystery object exercise is brilliant. I love to see what the other people bring and, in this case, I couldn’t wait to find out where their minds would go when attempting to write about the object I’d chosen to bring.

I know what the silver tin and the blue necklace mean to me, the history they played in my own life, but the trick would be letting all that leave my mind for an hour, allowing me to write fictionally about them. Then I was waiting to hear what they would come out with.

I’ve considered publishing all the pieces I come out with during these bimonthly writing groups, posting them here afterward. I have had the feeling of not being naturally good at writing fiction, as I have been told and felt myself that maybe I do better with nonfiction and memoir especially, but that is why I like this group. I can write like they write, and I get so much from that interaction already, and I’ve only gone three times so far.

This latest time I wrote about a jewelry store burglary and the mystery of why the thief took only that necklace, leaving the rest of the jewelry behind.

I did not finish the story and have no idea what was so special about that necklace. Time was up for the evening, the library closing and the cleaning crew anxious to start their work to prepare the building for the following day’s borrowings.

I purposefully did not volunteer to read my jewelry store tale, preferring to hear the other stories, on the off chance that we would run out of time, which is exactly what ended up happening.

I’d preferred my previous Wednesday night’s fiction writing exercise attempt, starring the Eiffel Tower ticket, dropped from above and onto the Paris sidewalk.

Some of the stories written about the tin/necklace included:

— One rooted in hints of the wardrobe leading to Narnia and a reference to the famous sketching scene in the movie Titanic. (This movie came up, somehow, in our chatter at the beginning of the evening’s meeting.)

— One about a love sick young man and the jewelry he purchased and later returned, bought for the object of his affection.

— One beginning with a wonderful scene of a little girl dying to arrive at her grandmother’s house and ending with that little girl finding a beautiful blue necklace in said grandmother’s spare room, unaware of the history it has.

— One about a spur-of-the-moment dropping of a necklace in a coat pocket and the chase others take to get it back.

I love to listen to the other writers read their stories, how different each one is, but the theme of the past of a piece of jewelry (real or fantastic) was a thrill to me, the person who really does own it.

People feel different about reading their work, depending on the day and what they come up with in the group, but not one person said they weren’t able to write something using my contribution to Mystery Object Wednesday. I was happy about that part. I was pleased to have spurred their imaginations, even if I couldn’t quite let go of what I know about the necklace in my own reality and past.

The true story of the friendship which ended with that necklace, indirectly, is best left for another time, but I just wanted to mark this occasion, as was pointed out to me the other night by one of my new writing friends: if that friend had stayed and taken the necklace, events wouldn’t have been able to lead up to the experience of my mystery object contribution with those who bravely took a stab at coming up with alternative storylines for a blue necklace on a chain.

For next group we’ve all been given a small slip of paper, containing a scenario and we are supposed to use it to demonstrate the concept of a favourite writing rule: show don’t tell.

This is the sort of homework I am more than happy to complete, I think. I will keep posted on what I manage to come up with for that one.

Mystery objects are exciting things, fiction that bursts forth from each and every one. They mean different things to different people and tell a story worth hearing. They are helping me get to know my fellow writers, one story at a time.

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Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Shows and Events, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer, Writing

Why Men Lie – Not What It Seems, #VIP, #BlogShareLearn, #BluSkyFriday, #LinkYourLife

“I’m sorry,” said the server, with a tap on the shoulder, “But this is a VIP lounge. Not that the two of you aren’t important or anything, but…”

Two girls had been looking for the bar, while waiting for the official author event to begin. They’d wandered through a revolving door and into a world of words.

Okay, so now what? They’d stumbled into the wrong place. What a way to begin the evening. It’s hard enough to feel like she fit in there, even though she loved it so. It’s strange to feel so at home in a place, and still feel completely out-of-place all at once.

Where had they stepped into, being excluded from, politely excused? Who were those very important persons? They did not ask. The two girls simply continued to wander. Up the stairs, where the server had directed them, to the cash bar they were looking for, just to check the prices of the drinks.

By now they were afraid of entering somewhere else they did not belong, so when they approached two closed doors, they hesitated and right back down they would go, until they noticed others going the way they’d just come. So, back up they went, feeling more than a little ridiculous.

***

She was a doctor, not a writer like her friend. She was leaving her baby girl at home, for a couple hours, at the request of her oldest friend, who had wanted someone to accompany her to a literary event.

The main event was a question and answer session with a local arts reporter and a well-known Canadian journalist. He’d been an investigative reporter for Canada’s CBC Television for many years. The girl, relatively new to the world of writing, she had no aspirations to become like him, not as a journalist. She simply liked to listen to his maritime accent and the way he told stories about a diverse array of people, places, and things.

On this night he spoke about his books, works of fiction she hadn’t known he’d written. She only thought he was a reporter and a TV personality. Her respect and admiration grew, for this man, when she learned of his fiction. She was on a continual mission to collect books and have them signed by their writers. Her collection was growing. First Carrie Snyder, then Douglas Gibson, and now Linden MacIntyre.

The talk on this night was about the question:

Does a good journalist need “fire-in-the-belly” to be good at their job?

The journalist’s answer:

No. Fire-in-the-belly could get one into trouble. It could lead to emotional reactions and lack of professionalism or the required objectivity.

Wouldn’t fire-in-the-brain be more appropriate?

He made a good point. Many in the crowd nodded in agreement. While the writer girl cringed at her least favourite word, since childhood, “belly”, the doctor thought of physical conditions that might be the cause of “fire” in the belly or the brain: appendicitis or meningitis.

The girl with the literary aspirations sat and glanced around at the other tables, full of local college and university students mostly, and wondered what she was doing there with them. Did she fit in? Did she belong there? She tried to squash her insecurities, as she listened to the murmuring and the muttering, because, maybe, she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. After all, wasn’t insecurity and self doubt not uncommon for writers?

She knew only the doctor sitting beside her, her closest childhood friend, who felt more at home in the world of science than literature, but who put her heart into the evening and gave it her best, because that’s just the sort of girl she always had been. This wasn’t the first event the writer friend had dragged the doctor along for in recent months, and it always worked out, turning into some of the memorable times they’d always been capable of having together. The doctor and her little girl had been around, as fate or life’s cruel irony would have it, but this wouldn’t last.

A professor of humanities had organized the festival, with all the authors and events, spread over the weekend, including a poetry night, lectures on creativity, and much much more. He went on to introduce the panel of other writers: political writers, comedy writers, and poets.

After the panel answered questions and promoted their work, the two girls stood up, along with everyone else. They weren’t sure where to go next, but the literary one was determined to get her next signed book.

Immediately, upon the wrapping up of the presentation, the featured authors were swarmed by people from the audience. There was no other option. And so, back down the stairs the doctor and the writer would go.

Back down in the lobby and the doctor’s resourcefulness shone through. No lack of VIP status would stop her from helping her friend.

“There’s one of the authors. HE’s right behind you. I could walk us right into him, if you want. That’s how close.”

The doctor was one-of-a-kind and made even awkward literary events fun, disarming the beginner writer, making her feel less uncomfortable, in hopes of more less uncomfortable literary events for her in the future. They got themselves a copy of one of Linden’s novels, “Why Men Lie”, and off they went, on a search for possible answers to the question.

Very soon the doctor spotted him. He had made it down and away from the throng at the stage upstairs, down into the group mingling in the museum’s lobby. The doctor waited for the opportune moment, when he was not speaking to another, and introduced her shy writer friend.

“What’s the name of the one this is for?” Linden asked this to the two lovely young women standing before him, unsure which one it might be.

“It’s Kerry, spelled K…e…r…r…y.” People couldn’t be blamed for getting it wrong, but to avoid another Ricky Martin incident, clarification was necessary. “I remember, about ten years ago, when you did a story on the whale from the Free Willy movie. Not sure if you remember.”

“Yes,” he said immediately. “I went to Iceland for that one.”

He seemed pleased that someone would remember him for that one in particular.

“Well, I love writing about marine biology specifically,” the girl spluttered. These encounters were always a little uncomfortable for her. She took her newly signed book and the two girls departed.

But, before leaving, back out the revolving door and into the still November night, the doctor home to her baby and the writer home to her books…

“There’s the professor who interviewed all the authors,” the doctor spoke, conspiratorially. “Wow. He’s shorter than I thought he would be.”

“Shorter than me?” the 5 foot 2 writer asked.

“Maybe. Let’s go see,” suggested the nearly equally short doctor. This was just the sort of crazy idea she often had, of which made spending time with this particular doctor anything but boring.

And so the doctor and the writer followed the professor, darting through the people, until the two girls and he were standing only feet from each other.

“Well…is he?” the writer asked, attempting to speak quietly enough so she wouldn’t be overheard, but she already knew the answer.

The two girls had to leave then, as their attempts to remain inconspicuous would not last long if they remained in that serious literary environment. They then took their non VIP selves out of their and did not look back. They never did find out why men lie, but then again, some questions have no tangible answers.

***

Note: The writer girl in this story is, it turns out, a VIP (visually impaired person).

And, in that VIP’s opinion, so is the doctor. After all, aren’t doctors very important, in their own right, in the work that they do, everyday?

Not to mention the importance this particular doctor has played in her writer friend’s estimation, since the two girls were ten years old. She will play an extremely important role for so many patients who count on her expertise and her compassionate care.

VIP is all relative.

Journalism fuels Linden MacIntyre’s fiction writing

For the answer to the question of why men lie, guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

And if you are someone who is offended by the assumption of men as lyres, Linden wrote the book.

🙂

Not me.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Poetry, RIP, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature

In Flanders Fields’: One Hundred Years Later, #JohnMcCrae #InFlandersFields

Somewhere out there there is a field, a field full of silent meaning and distant regret.

I’d like to see this field, to experience the meaning of a poem up close. I will get there one day. I will stand in that spot.

It’s a field full of red…red flowers that grew out of the mud and the graves.

Red blood, having made way to red flowers.

I don’t know why I’ve developed such an attachment to this particular field, so far away. Why does its sadness mean anything at all to me?

Most times I get concerned when November 11th approaches. I feel anxious, like I don’t feel what everyone else is feeling. I know it’s no jolly holiday to celebrate, but there is a certain intense pride that comes out in the hearts and voices of many Canadians, with the ceremonies and the laying of wreaths in remembrance. Canada has lost a lot in war and I can’t feel proud of this.

I am proud of the poem one Canadian doctor wrote, one hundred years ago. He lived, not so far from where I live. He did, what I know can be done with literature, he used words to mark so many things, a shared humanity.

He went to fight in France and Belgium and he lost his life, but not before he composed a poem that would one day be read to me, every single year, in school, when November arrived.

In Flanders Fields’: Canadian children recite our 100-year-old poem

What did my four-year-old niece’s school do, with her and the other children today?

What did they say to explain today to her and the other children?

I can’t even explain it to myself. I listen to stories of loss and death and suffering. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

I don’t always understand poetry, as much as I love literature, of all sorts. So why do I want to cry, any time I hear the lines about those red flowers?

Pieces of red velour, representing all that valour. A moment of observed silence. Eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The pride I can’t quite feel makes me worry about my level of respect toward so many humans, those who lost their lives, fighting for so many reasons, but I know it’s not about me anyway. I am not the point. I did not have to fight directly, to sacrifice, for the freedoms I have.

The closest I’ve seen the affects, happened, not in a distant world war, but in the 21st century.

http://www.honourthem.ca/masterDetail.cfm?ID=165

It happened to family, family of family.

I did not know Tyler Todd, but he was only one year older than I am, when he died. This fact practically knocks the breath from my body.

I feel like a jerk because I don’t know why we were there, why that happened, why why why?

Afghanistan is so far away, farther even than Europe, even as the veterans from the conflicts of the last century fade, there are those who are suffering the loss, new and again.

I am just some silly idealist, who doesn’t understand why peace can’t be maintained. I want peace, don’t understand why we can’t just have it. What am I missing? The realist in me knows.

And so I return to the poetry, because that, at least, is something strangely beautiful I can cling to, when I need to feel more. When I need to try hard to understand. It makes sense of the nonsensical, or at least attempts to put the images and the realities into an order out of all the disorder and the chaos.

It’s a hard life. It’s a hard life. It’s a very hard life. It’s a hard life wherever you go. And if we poison our children with hatred, then the hard life is all that they’ll know.

It’s A Hard Life

And so I look to the markers of the past, like poppies mark graves of unknown soldiers, unknown to me anyway.

Ever since I wrote about the start of World War I,

100,

I think about the war that began these rituals we follow.

And I will mark the occasions, as 1914-1918 and one hundred years hence.

I try to write in eloquence, as McCray wrote on that battlefield, but I fall short of the mark. When I hear the stories, when I think about the life that was lost, of the family who know loss now…

I can’t just sit back and feel pride, when I put my own brother in that place, when I think that he could be that one taken by war, in a day when we should not romanticize the idea of war, as was done in 1914 and I am unable to let go of my reaction to this day.

This is not the time or the place, some would say.

Or is it the perfect time to say so?

I can’t speak the words “sacrifice for one’s country” without the lump in my throat and the feeling of something so wrong. No disrespect meant, really, to all.

With the swearing in of Justin Trudeau I hope for peace, with Canada leading the charge. I hope for it, while so many acknowledge the losses suffered.

I want to explain myself, to discover my own paying of some tribute. Instead, the lines of “In Flanders Fields’” run continuously through in my head.

I am sure the feeling must be strong there, on 11/11/11. I have never experienced those bagpipes up close. I’ve only listened on the television. I hear the pain in the voices of the families. I watch the broadcast, live today.

What War Memorials Say About Us

I can now say I’ve been at the memorial, in Ottawa, but the crowds weren’t there. The day, though just as grey, was silent and still.

I don’t wish to stand amongst the crowds, but I do long to stand in that silent field.

I want to write (a blog post, a poem, a work of fiction about WW I/II). I want to pour out my idealist/realist thoughts. I need to see it for myself, that field.

I’m rambling, I realize this now, and still I press on. I’m free to pour out my thoughts, to write, and no war rages on around me as I do so.

John McCrae fought and wrote, in that war so long ago now, so one hundred years later I could write in a peaceful time and place, about war, about peace.

My country is silent now, but I write. And as I write…

“Fire!”

The planes fly low and the bagpipes play their mournful song.

Gun shots. I will never understand such symbolism as this and I hope my insensitivity isn’t a problem, but I need to speak.

Isn’t that why all the fighting was done? So I could be free to state my feelings on what war means to me, how we mark the peace and the lives lost to achieve it, and why I just can’t follow the crowds?

McCrae wrote of poppies, crosses, larks, guns, torches, loved ones…

***

We are the dead.

Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved,

and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

***

I feel pride in the poetry and I always will. This is why I keep writing, why I wanted to write, not to let these words ever be forgotten.

Why I am proud to be Canadian.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Writing

2015 October Platform Challenge: Day One

kerport-005-2015-10-1-14-29.jpg
October has arrived, once more. Hmmm. This is not very Halloweenish, but here goes.

Growing up, we started getting a subscription for Reader’s Digest. Soon, very soon, the wall of our computer room in the basement was lined with Reader’s Digest volumes, in braille.

I read one particularly gruesome story in RD, on the way to a family function, and I never read from those braille editions again.

Eventually, we got rid of them, when I moved out and we were cleaning house.

I was delighted when I discovered, not only was there such thing as Reader’s Digest (as much as I loved to read) but that Writer’s Digest existed too.

A lot of selling of their products, but I loved to write and I am now participating in their month long

2015 October Platform Challenge

As for platforms, I have mixed feelings.

I know it is important, in this modern moment in time, to have one. I have one and am trying to find my voice there, but the mood comes and goes. I am not quite sure why.

Here goes and I am not participating in the commenting on WD’s website. It involves all that fun stuff I just love about websites. I tried to sign in and it wasn’t a simple process.

Surprised? Not at all.

😦

I don’t care about winning some prize of a huge book for writers, one I can’t even read anyway, so I will go with the daily promos and see how that goes. See if I make it through the month.

I have never gone and done any monthly challenge, posting every day, so I hope this will not annoy the hell out of any readers I have gained in almost two ears of blogging.

My platform is this blog and the second blog I began a year ago, I guess it was now.

Name (as used in byline): I am Kerry Kijewski

AKA

Kerry L. Kijewski

Kerry Kay (a future author’s website title idea)

Her Headache

The Insightful Wanderer

Kerr

Kerr-Bear

Take your pick.

🙂

Position(s): published author, writer/blogger, public speaker, travel writer, interviewer/interviewee

Skill(s): writing, literary writing, creative writing, fiction, non fiction, memoir, reviews, interviews, poetry, articles and blog posts, speeches, public speaking

Social media platforms (active): I am on Facebook and Twitter most often.

I have a LinkedIn page, but not sure I like it.

Also, an Instagram account for any future travel, but not sure I like it. Need a photographer on staff.

😉

I started a Pinterest page a few weeks ago. Don’t yet understand that platform at all.

Did I do that, trying to find more of a platform, just because everybody else did it first? Why do everything everyone else does anyways?

URL(s):

This blog.

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

Accomplishments: being a blogger, published author, Certificate of Creative Writing, public speaker, guest blogger on many blogs

Interests: creative writing, fiction, non fiction, memoir, doing interviews, blogging, reading, travel, movies, psychology, marine biology, astronomy, feminism, women’s and gender studies, history

In one sentence, who am I?

Kerry is, first and foremost a writer, but also she blogs and she is interested in honing her writing skills for any and all future possibilities which might present themselves.

I am bad at summing up, at being brief, and that is why I hate these one sentence questions.

“Feel the rain on your skin. No one else can feel it for you. Only you can let it in.”
–Natasha Benningfield, Unwritten

THIS IS MY PLATFORM!

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/2015-october-platform-challenge-guidelines

Guidelines were made to be broken, right?

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Who are you? What is your platform? Can you sum up who you are, using just one sentence? Or do you need more than one, like I do?

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Bucket List, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Piece of Cake, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

My Perfect Day

Okay, so I am a week behind on this, but I like this particular writing prompt and wanted to still take my shot at sharing my dream for a perfect day.

“Our theme this week is to write a day in your life where there would be no boundaries and you could do anything you want.”

http://originalbunkerpunks.com/blog-battle-zone-1/

I have been published on this witty, satirical, thought-provoking website, full of writers who want to get the conversation going and who do that very well.

Check me out here.

Then, earlier today

I ended up reading a piece on this site

and I went on to expressing my feelings, which meant criticizing the authors involved in the writing.

They were only being humorous, provocative; yet, due to the news of a two-year-old girl and her father being murdered in Alberta (which could be the inspiration for a more on time response I could write for this week’s prompt), this heartbroken Canadian wasn’t able to see any humour whatsoever.

It made me think about writing and its possible consequences because I was able to have a productive discussion with these writers, after-the-fact, and I wanted them to know why I may have sounded at all harsh. That is not how I usually am. Just a bad day.

Thank you,

Original Bunker Punks,

and now…onto my perfect day.

***

Something seems odd about this day. What could it be?

Oh yeah, I am pulling into my driveway. Yes, me.

For years it was me, in the passenger seat, the passenger. Shotgun was where I was designated to be.

Now I am driving. All those self driving cars in the works, for so long, well they are out and they are becoming the norm. Sure, it could lead to some sort of science fiction nightmare, cars becoming intelligent and driving their riders into trees and over bridges, but I overlook this fear because things are perfect now, right here, as I don’t have to have sight to operate a motor vehicle.

I enter my house and notice a suitcase sitting out, ready for packing to commence. We are soon off on another trip.

We met at TBEX, a travel expo I finally made it to a few years back. It was in Honolulu, my dream spot. I’d always wanted to visit there and this travel writing/blogging conference was the perfect chance. Two birds with one stone as they say.

I didn’t expect to meet him, but, I must admit, I hoped it would happen, sooner or later. I am comfortable with some independent travel now, after a lot of practice, but it’s still nice to have someone there to experience the world with.

He is a photographer and knows about technology and websites.

I may be able to drive a car, but I haven’t wished hard enough for perfect sight, at least I guess not. Huh.

If I had that, I wouldn’t be The Insightful Wanderer, as the whole position of my travel blog would be altered. I am insightful, just as I am, but I will never stop wandering. It does not have to be a bad, lost, aimless way to go through life.

I struggled to learn about my blog and website, for a few years, but am glad I can leave that responsibility to him.

I am still The Insightful Wanderer and Her Headache. I am KerryKay.com too. Bought that domain ages ago, as my writing needed my real name to be known and featured more prominently.

Branding is a strange thing, but I have embraced it and now am known as three brands in one.

I haven’t given up on my writing, memoir and literary mostly, because fiction is a beautiful thing, but not where my natural talents are.

I walk past one of the many bookshelves in my house, and there are some of my books there, a few are fiction. I had modest success with that, beginning with the anthology I was accepted into, my first real big break really.

I have written three books and am currently working on a fourth, two memoir and two fiction: Piece of Cake, Connecting the Dots, Till Death, and Out Beyond the Hedgerows.

The first two are memoirs about my life, struggles, with disability, being a visually impaired woman in a mostly sighted world.

The third is a fictional story about how death and loss affect three different generations of one family.

And the fourth is an historical novel, based on family who lived through World War II.

I did not start to write a string of genre books, ones that get put on Amazon and Smash Words and of which I would have needed to keep on putting out to gain any momentum in the book world. I found my own path to success.

I have books everywhere, which brings me peace and solace when I’ve had a bad day.

It’s so nice to have found a partner who loves travel and we are a team. He takes care of the site and its visual elements, while I write. Writing has its place, but the world is and always will be a visual one.

I think a world of all blind humans is worse than the one where the cars take over, but I can’t say. Science fiction writing is not my area of expertise.

I have checked off many of the items on my bucket list, which brings me great pleasure, but it’s nice to know I will soon have a husband who is committed, not only to me, but to helping me achieve the rest. Life is precious and it goes by like that! We are making the most of every day.

I have broken the record for longest living kidney transplant recipient and the medications have made it possible that this won’t change anytime soon. When I reached my twenty year mark (June 5, 2017) I had a huge party to celebrate and everybody I know came.

In this fantasy, we have not cured cancer yet, but we are actually getting close this time, no fooling.

We’re still trying to decide what kind of a wedding to have and where to have it. Being the travellers we are, a destination wedding is most appealing, but I don’t want to put that pressure on the people I hope will attend.

I want to have it at the hotel in Niagara Falls, the one from my childhood and its precious memories, moving to the closest hotel to the falls for the wedding night. I will finally feel that vibration of the roaring falls through the window of our room.

Maybe we’ll get married on a beach or on top of the CN Tower in Toronto. I loved it up there, the first time I tried it, and a wedding on that ledge sounds strangely perfect to me. After all, isn’t marriage a little like standing on a ledge?

It’s scary but exhilarating. It’s freeing, once you find love and let yourself feel worthy of having and holding onto it.

I can admit, finally after years, that wanting marriage, a wedding, this does not make me weak. I am not some Disney fairy princess, waiting to be rescued. I want a partnership and that commitment is and always has been important to me. I’ve been shown what that can be like, through the examples of my wonderful parents and their parents before them. It’s in my bones, just like writing and travel.

I can make a living from my writing now. I was afraid that was holding me back from finding a guy who could understand, accept me for me, and not let money and pride and the pressures of that get in the way. I am not rich, but I am rich in all that I really will ever need.

I have seen my words in print, in a book, on my shelf and in a bookstore.

I have an advice column which helps people. I can write and offer my advice, which can be a tricky thing to give others, but I know I’ve had more experience with the hard stuff than most. Plus, this side work allows me freedom to travel. I can answer people’s questions from anywhere I might happen to be.

I hand out my business card:

The Insightful Wanderer

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

And on the other side.

KerryKay.com

Her Headache

Blog. Writing. Travel writing is my first love because the world is everything. It’s all around us. We are it.

I had to build up my writing portfolio. I had to practice my craft, art as pure as anything.

Now, I can admit that making a reasonable living off of that is no crime. People are paid for all kinds of things, some that might seem less deserving, but that’s how the world works. It’s all about money, for so many, but it doesn’t have to be.

We discuss having children, after we decide on a wedding spot, but the jury is still out on that. I can accept that, even as I know the rules of this writing challenge aren’t at all limiting, because sometimes life means accepting some realities and hard truths.

It’s still open for discussion. Age doesn’t have to matter because I want to freeze this day, in time, so my parents are here and the children currently in my life stay the sweet age they are.

We will deal with the future tomorrow, but let this day and the moment linger.

Anyway, we are off, to make our flight. I will finally get my chance to swim with jellyfish, in their lake home, on the island of Palau in the south pacific.

***

Why do we feel so guilty, why do I, just for speaking up and admitting what it is we want for ourselves?

Why do I feel so selfish and awful to be so open with the things I dream about having, the life I would ideally wish for myself?

Do you ever feel that way?

If you could have an ideal day in your own life, what might that include?

I know I am worth it, I am worth everything, and I want to say so. I know what some people say, about the universe and just by saying it, you are actually letting into your life the things you believe you deserve. This is what I am doing here, today, because I am tired of holding myself back.

Yes, believe it or not, this blog has been me holding myself back, up until this point.

🙂

I have been blogging for a year and a half now and I continue to be myself, to let my self shine through here. That is what is at the essence of Her Headache.

Check these guys out on Facebook.

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, This Day In Literature, Writing

September Streams and Dreams Come True, #SoCS

SoCS

September almost qualifies for this week’s prompt, but not quite. So, instead, I will write about how my September is going, so far.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

***

I am watching only the fourth episode of the new Late Show with Stephen Colbert. His guest is writer and author Stephen King. I am listening to these two brilliant guys, Stephen speaking with Stephen, as they discuss writing. I am left to contemplate writing: Stephen’s and my own.

Now, what makes me think I should even bother with the contemplation of my name and his in the same sentence?

This week I can finally refer to myself as an author.

I have read many things about writer VS. author. What makes someone a writer? What makes them, me an author? When is it okay to call myself the first or the second?

King has written dozens of books. His newest book of short stories is being released in November. What an astounding catalog of writing the man has produced. He writes. He is an author.

My first short story to be published is out now, in print. It was finally placed in my hands just the other day.

I will never forget the feeling. I wonder how that feeling has changed, for Mr. King, from the first time to all these stories and years later.

I contemplate what being a writer means to me. It means that I write. I don’t just talk about it, but I put my money (words) where my mouth is/are.

I can string sentences together, words, correctly spelled…you get my drift.

It doesn’t yet feel natural to me, fiction that is. Writing comes very naturally. All so uncomfortable, unnatural, even though it feels, at the same time, like I’ve been doing it all my life.

I contemplate with confusion.

I hold the book in my hands, flip through the pages, turning to where I perceive my words to be, as I’ve been told how many pages in, my story can be found. I can’t see my own writing. I am told it is there, but any book could be handed to me, anyone telling me the words are mine. I would never know if it were true or not.

So it’s only there when I believe them, when I believe it and let the reality wash over my heart and my mind.

I don’t know, can’t possibly stop contemplating what it must be like to have the kind of creative and artistic success that Stephen King has had.

I don’t know how many more times I will experience my own publication, as I did in the month of September, in the year 2015, but I will never forget this week. Never, as long as I live.

***

September and this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, inspired by:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/09/11/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-1215/

Linda’s blog and the writing prompt, “temp”.

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Bucket List, Feminism, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TToT, Writing

TToT: Second Chance Stories

“He’s so precious!”

We were sitting in the lobby of the long-term care facility where my aunt now resides. We were spending the morning with her and we wanted to get her out of her room, bring her somewhere else, so she could watch people and we’d already determined that the wind was too much for her outside.

Suddenly a voice spoke and my head jerked upward at the words.

Who was that? Whom were they referring to? Who was just so precious?

The lady who spoke walked over toward my father who was sitting to my left.

“I’m going to give you a hug,” she said.

Then she blew kisses to us all and went on her way. It was time for lunch.

Ten Things of Thankful

Sunday: Happy 18th Birthday Malala!

For a strong example of what truly matters in this world and the greatest hope we have for the future.

Malala Yousafzai has been through hell and back and is fighting using words and education, against the violence and hatred shown toward her, to come out on the other side to fight for–

BOOKS NOT BULLETS

sounds like the best idea I’ve ever heard.

That is the outcry and the call to action of one tough young woman.

Monday: first dates sometimes lead to second ones.

For the chance to meet someone new.

It’s not so easy, for me at least, to find someone I can talk to and click with.

I am grateful for a connection made and a new friend, at the very least.

Wednesday: Happy Second Anniversary Bri.

For selfless angels who give the ultimate gift and for the strength shown from their family too.

On July 15th, 2013, my brother received a kidney from a selfless angel.

I’d watched him attached to dialysis machines and unwell, unable to move forward with his life for years.

Finally, he could start to live his life again.

For a long awaited release and a dream of mine that I have now checked off my bucket list.

secondchancesoutnowmeme-2015-07-19-10-30.jpg

On my blog I wrote about my short story and the reason why I wrote about love, loss, and starting over.

One Last Kiss

I am very proud of my story and the anthology it can be found in.

After the Scars: A Second Chances Anthology

Thursday: sometimes travel brings unexpected things.

For the unexpected stop on a road trip.

Me and a giant apple.

000-2015-07-19-10-30.jpg

Enough said.

For old buildings and holding onto history.

I have always had a a phobia of old places and things. I remember it from an early age. Visiting a local pioneer village was not my idea of fun. I disliked secondhand stores and antique shops.

Now I try to introduce myself to the past because it matters.

On my latest few days away I stayed in a bed and breakfast, an old house which has been turned into a lovely place to stay.

Where I stayed was up on the second floor. It had two bedrooms, a full kitchen, and small sitting room. Plus, it had a nice porch.

This house would have been over 100 years old. It felt very homey and comfortable, even for someone as picky as myself. I slept well there and stood at the window, in the morning, enjoying the warm sunshine on my face.

Friday: life does not stand still and we all age.

For another chance to visit with my aunt. She’s not in an ideal situation. She is unable to take care of herself now and must be in a long-term care facility.

I worry about her there, for her days of endless monotony. She will be there for the rest of her life, more than likely. I wish she wouldn’t have to.

For the chance to have met her, made possible by my parents, who believed that distance (whether physical or emotional) shouldn’t prevent family from getting to know each other.

My family visited her several times over the past 25 years and made some memories I’ll always cherish.

I hope, if she can hold onto a memory, that she remembers that we care, always.

For a lovely lunch, provided by my cousin.

She is full of energy and so is her daughter. They offered lovely conversation and a delicious meal.

I’d never had a dill pickle wrap before.

I’m glad we got to know them and could spend the afternoon together, catching up.

For a spectacular view, even if I can’t see it and must take other people’s word for it.

We ate our lunch at the golf course, with an amazing view of the Ottawa River in the background.

I can not see these views anymore, but I can imagine them and I can feel their presence. I will never forget or take that for granted.

Whether it’s the woman from my story earlier, girls wanting an education, the little anecdotes revealed when entering into any new relationship, or a book of stories (part fiction and part non) we all have inside our imaginations – I am grateful for my own and for the learning and discovering of others.

zsecondchancescovercheckedsmall-2015-07-19-10-30.jpg

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Book Reviews, Bucket List, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, This Day In Literature

One Last Kiss

You put everything into love and into a relationship, another person (good or bad).

This is what it’s like to be in love.

But what about when that love comes to an end?

Then come the questions…

Do you miss me?
At what point did you realize us was not something you wanted anymore?
Was I a bad girlfriend?

http://elitedaily.com/dating/what-i-would-ask-my-ex/1093489/

There are a lot of irrational thoughts. I had them. I desperately needed a way to make me feel like the thoughts I was having weren’t completely crazy.

I needed to write this story (although based on true events, turned into a work of fiction from my own imagination).

I was going through an incredibly difficult breakup at the time I started writing. My story became the one thing I found, to help me deal with how my relationship came to an end, but also the exact thing to help lift me up and out of the fog and the pain. It became an exercise in much-needed catharsis.

ONE LAST KISS

***

We are very proud of Hazel’s first anthology, and a lot of that is down to your powerful and beautifully wrought stories. Reading through them was a privilege and clearly many of you have researched or the issues have touched you in some way.

The anthology is full of experience, sensitivity and most of all hope.

Little Bird Publishing House
London

www.littlebirdpublishinghouse.com

giveaway

http://katiemjohn.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/a-conversation-with-author-hazel.html

buy links

UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B011LW085W?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

USA

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011LW085W?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

BLURB

A moving, inspiring and hopeful collection of women’s voices.

“We will rise from the ruins of our broken dreams and stand tall.”
(Angela A. Fardellone)

An anthology of fiction about moving on and standing tall after experiences of emotional and physical abuse. Stories about women searching for freedom, recovery and love.

In this collection of stories, Hazel Robinson, author of ‘Something Missing’ has brought together some of the best emerging voices in the Romance genre to create a collection of stories that are both emotional and inspiring. A collection of stories written by women for women in order to explore the ideas of self-discovery, rebirth and finding love and hope after periods of darkness.

Interwoven into these stories are poems that offer beauty and reconciliation.

***
http://romanceanthologieshfbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

I am incredibly grateful to Hazel. She not only had the idea to pursue the anthology, but she took a chance on my story, allowing it to be a part of this collection of women’s narratives on love, loss, and rebirth.

https://www.facebook.com/thesecondchancesanthology

Thank you to her and to Little Bird Publishing House over in London, England.

Letting go isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright hard to do – hardest thing I’ve ever done.

One year later and I hope time has healed and provided me with some much-needed perspective.

Next week I will write more on my thought process for One Last Kiss, why I needed to write it when and how I did, and the universal questions I still continue to ask.

zsecondchancescovercheckedsmall-2015-07-15-12-46.jpgsecondchancesoutnowmeme-2015-07-15-12-46.jpg

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, The Blind Reviewer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Reviewing Blindness

July is moving along.

Okay, well I could always complain, but I won’t. Not now. Maybe later.

🙂

Last week, I wrote about how:

Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter.

This week is a free post week.

I have freely chosen to go back seven or so years, to write a movie review of sorts.

***

I was randomly watching television the other day and suddenly I got this yucky, icky feeling.

It’s a feeling I get anytime I happen to think about one particular movie that I saw when it came out in theatres back in 2008.

It was only a commercial, announcing the airing of a film on television, coming up this weekend.

I had never heard of the novel: “Blindness”, before seeing the film.

Sure, the title intrigued me and my brothers. We chose to see it, but I had no idea, going in, what to expect.

What would happen if an entire city lost their sight?

This film, developed from the Jose Saramago novel of the same name, is a social commentary of sorts. It examines a very good question, but i did not like the results of this particular examination.

I did not like the answer to the question and I was not alone.

NFB Protests Opening of Blindness in 37 States

Several US organizations and groups protested the film on its release. They said it painted blind people in the most horrible of lights. I agree, but I know, deep down, that it is only a story.

It is a question that I have wondered myself. I know just how terrified most people become at the very thought of going blind. It is society’s worst fear, but that’s because it is so very possible. Losts of people lose their sight, mostly due to old age, but not always. What if it were to happen, as some sort of epidemic that began to spread, mysteriously?

The city in this film is not named. Most of the characters aren’t named either. It’s the boy or the woman with the dark glasses or the King of Ward 3, receptionist or the accountant or the man with the eye patch. We don’t learn about these characters as people, who they are or who they were, before they lost the most important of all the senses, the one most people could never ever imagine living without.

It has been several years since I saw it, so this review may be vague in some spots, but others are burned into my brain.

There is loyalty and compassion, but there is mostly chaos, disorder, and the sudden White Blindness seems to be the reason for a total breakdown of law and order, of civilization.

The doctor (Mark) he treats a patient who has suddenly and mysteriously lost his sight. Several car accidents are going on around this unnamed city, because the drivers simply lose their sight and crash into each other.

I remember the entire film sounding quite muted. There is a lot of silence, even behind the traffic noises, the dialogue, and eventually there is yelling and danger.

The doctor’s wife (Julianne) is the only one who is spared, for whatever reason, but pretends just so she can accompany her husband, so they will not be separated. This puts her in danger, but she shows her courage.

The newly blind citizens are locked up in an insane asylum, to keep them safe, but soon they are trapped and cut off from the rest of the world, from any possible help.

This is where the blind community has protested. The situation declines rapidly into madness. Sanitation becomes a problem. There is nobody cleaning the facility and soon there is filth and faeces in the halls. Food becomes scarce. People turn on each other and survival is their only goal. Mob rules is the way of it. Those in favour would claim that this is more a display of how humanity would break down, not blind people specifically, that this is no real reflection of blind people.

The Federation of the Blind would say it still paints blind people as unclean, violent, crazy and dangerous.

I know, logically, it is just a story. I knew that as I sat there, in the theatre, watching the events of Blindness play out on the screen in front of me.

I still reacted the way I reacted. It was a reaction I could not help, that I did not expect.

Are Protesters of Blindness Missing the Point?

As conditions decline, a gang of thugs holds food hostage from the starving prisoners, and then there was the rape scene. I was horrified by what I saw, a mass rape scene, which made me want to get up and leave the theatre then and there.

That, paired with the fact that the people were locked up in an asylum, both made me angry and wishing I had never went to see Blindness.

I guess the idea that any government would lock up its citizens, after they started to go blind, this is more drastic, but it made me picture segregation. I don’t even like the schools for the blind that do exist, but this was a fictional horror that I knew wasn’t real, and still I felt sick.

I will never be able to truly enjoy either Julianne Moore or Mark Ruffalo again, in any other role, after seeing them portray a couple who must survive and take care of each other and others in such a scenario.

I don’t know if I can or will ever read this novel. I don’t know, but maybe seeing it as a movie first is the reason, but watching it disturbed me so much, deep down. I don’t know, but books are often more detailed than movies.

Of course, the author of this book had feelings when he heard how blind people were reacting. He used blindness allegorically, to make his point about the humanity (or lack thereof) and breakdown of our society.

Everyone had their own right to feel the way they felt: whether it was the writer of the novel or the people with the disability he wrote about.

Author decries Blindness protests as misguided – Arts … – CBC

My reaction had nothing to do with the quality of the book, as I have never read it, but my physical reaction to seeing the story come to life on screen.

As for Blindness, the novel: I don’t think I will get to it. So many books; so little time.

🙂

I don’t think I could stomach it, but, then again, never say never.

But perhaps I’m missing out on something brilliant, a marvellous piece of fiction.

He was described as a pessimist.

No way!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindness_(film)

So, upon entering the theatre, when they took our tickets…

Movie employee: Enjoy Blindness.

My blind brother and myself: We always do.

***

At what age were you or your loved ones diagnosed?

That is the question I will be answering, one week from now, for

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

And…

Check out the

Redefining Disability Awareness Project On Facebook,

for all this and more.

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History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Spotlight Saturday

Love and Despair

Canada has lost two icons, in the last two weeks. This is my tribute to them both: Lois and Jonathan.

Lois Lilienstein, dies at age 78

Sharon, Lois, and Bram were a part of my childhood.

Sure, I wasn’t a huge fan of the giant, silent elephant, but I did watch the three performers and I liked their songs.

Somewhere in between Polka Dot Door and Today’s Special.

The Elephant Show was full of skits and songs and it was always there, seemingly just there, in the background of my early years.

It was comforting like home.

The theme song is unforgettable for anyone who has ever heard it.

“Love you in the morning and in the afternoon. Love you in the evening and underneath the moon.”

The folky sounding music they sang together made them some of the best children’s performers around. They volunteered for certain children’s events, such as appearing where I saw them, met them, and had my photo taken with them.

I was a teenager by this time, but my brother and I had both received kidney transplants at Sick Children’s Hospital in downtown Toronto.

We were at a celebratory event, one afternoon, in the hospital’s main atrium. We posed with Sharon, Lois, and Bram by the cake.

Then, as I grew, I’d long since outgrown kid’s shows and soon what became important to me was what made me proud to be Canadian, with the development of my love for my country’s literary history.

I was shocked, last week, when I first read, in my news feed for Facebook…
Jonathan Crombie, dies at age 48

This was the last thing I was expecting.

There’s always a certain obvious morbidity in my mind, as one celebrity dies and I already start thinking, I wonder who the next one will be to pass away.

Jonathan Crombie was only forty-eight and died, a few days before the official announcement, from a brain hemorrhage.

Right away I felt a sickening feeling inside.

He was Gilbert Blythe. He “was” the role. He WAS that character.

I knew the PBS mini series before I really read the books. It all came to life for me, on screen, with the descriptive video I received in the mail in the late nineties.

Most girls had their prince charming, Disney prince of their choice. I had Gil. He was what an ideal male would be. He became the ideal for me.

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe always reminded me of my grandparents, right from the first time I became truly aware of their love story.

I never thought I would be writing about why this character means to me what he does, not for this reason. I had assumed it would come up eventually, here or somewhere else, but that I would talk about the significance of Anne and Gilbert or Gil himself, as an upbeat writing on my favourite literature.

I didn’t think, couldn’t predict I would be writing about what Jonathan’s role as Gil meant to me, not as a tribute to the life lived by the man behind the beloved Canadian literary character, at the time of his premature death.

But here we are.

I don’t know exactly what Jonathan felt about his time playing Gilbert. I would assume he realized what that role meant to people like me. I read he would often answer to “Gil”, but whether or not this is true I can not say.

I do know he played the role of Gilbert for all three movies. He started as a fairly young guy in the eighties.

He was the son of David Crombie, Mayor of Toronto, long before Ford would make the position famous for so many other things.

Jonathan performed on the stage, Shakespearean roles, at the Stratford Festival Theatre.

I wish I could have seen him in that role, as a bit of a variation from Montgomery’s character. Just a small variation of course.

Jonathan would return, years after his original debut as Gil, when the third Anne film was made, at the start of this new century.

It was a bit of a shock, to me in that moment, when I first saw him again. He was older, obviously, his voice having changed a fair bit from what I’d known it to sound like.

He pulled off a whole new, more serious role this time, going off to perform medical officer duty in a retelling, of sorts, of a story from World War I and I was newly impressed by where he would take that character.

It was a bit of a stretch from Montgomery’s original writing, but I wouldn’t read more of the books until several years later.

Of course, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for L.M.’s brilliant creation of the great love story of Gilbert and Anne, but Jonathan brought the character to life in ways I will never forget.

It was the way Crombie pulled off the deep and unwavering devotion and dedication to Anne and his pure love for her. I envied it. I only dreamt that anyone, in my real life, could or would ever love me like that.

Even as an old-fashioned story, theirs is a fictional love story that didn’t have lots of drama and back-and-forth, at least not for him. He played always his part, Gilbert Blythe, the cool, calm, and collected gentleman. The chivalrous doctor that once was a love-sick schoolboy.

Nothing, betrayed in that character, seemed to react. They took a sombre period in Canada’s history, now one hundred years ago, and they portrayed it, both Jonathan and Megan, and the rest of the cast, with grace and dignity, feeling and heart.

The tragic romance of doing the hard thing, the spectre of having to be separated, all coming alive from the pages of any history book I’ve ever read. A fictional story that I could, so easily, picture in real life.

Of course, I knew it to be a work of fiction, but Jonathan made me feel it in every line he spoke as Gilbert.

I wanted to include my favourite moment from his performance in Anne: The Continuing Story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr20pRzTiTc

I will return to this story, again and again, to always see him in this greatest of great roles.

Watching the above clip of their reunion always did bring tears to my eyes, caused the all-too familiar butterflies in my stomach when I immediately went to watch on hearing the sad news, caused my heart to race like always, and will forevermore stir a deep feeling of nostalgia that can hardly be explained through words.

It is why I believe in the art of a fictional performance, when in spite of all the silliness of what acting often is, sometimes an actor gets it right. Sometimes it isn’t silly or frivolous. It means something.

And so I dare to be so bold as to use a line from Montgomery’s books and from the films themselves, not in an attempt to be over-dramatic for the sake of it.

Anne Shirley said it first. I say it now.

I didn’t know him. I never had the chance to meet him in person, but I would have liked to tell him all this, if I had.

“In the depths of despair.”

His passing has caused a strange empty feeling in me since I heard he was gone for real.

From what I read, his organs were donated. This only makes me love him even more.

How many people get to mean the things he’s meant to people like me and to give others a second chance at life through the sudden end of his own?

RIP Jonathan, Gil.

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