Lucy Crowe's Nest: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Murder, Romance, and Mystery: The Bare Bones of "Maypops"

Here’s What’s Coming! The tangible reward for all these long, long winter days spent indoors with nothing but time on my hands. What is it? Hmmm . . . A mastery of P90X and the resultant ten pound weight loss? Pursuit of online continuing education hours in my chosen profession? A Cleaver house complete with tidy cupboards?
These flowers are Maypops - aren't they the brightest, 
most bizarre flower you've ever seen? Also known as 
Passion Flower, and crucial to my story,
but that's all I'm saying for now!

Alas, none of the above. (Lol! How well do you know me?)  But rest assured, dear reader, December and January (and ahem, the previous year and a half) have not been wasted. And so, without further adieu, I give you . . . The Sequel.
Okay, this announcement may be somewhat premature, trapped as I am about two thirds of the way through. But I’ve become a firm believer in early promotions and so - well in advance - I want to set forth the bare bones of Novel Two.
I loved my people so much I couldn’t leave them! And, in fact, I hoarded them all away from "Sugar Man" and stuffed them into “Maypops in September.” (Don't worry, they fit.) Rush is classically cool as ever, tattooed and grungy and totally hot. And Benny is absolutely incandescent beneath her own spotlight, putting her “gift” to use in all sorts of dubious ways. Bobby has a much stronger role, and although I hadn’t intended for him to fall in love (he’s way too smart-ass and oh-so-jaded) when Sophie walked into the Valley Booze, he fell - as he would say - like a hammered sheep. There was no saving him, and very quickly I decided I didn’t want to; this side of Bobby has been so much fun to work with.
What else? Murders, of course. Plural. Romance – the sort of sexy, gritty, streetwise love that my characters seem to excel at. More EMS and fire! My crew got tired of not having enough to do, so they’re featured a couple of times in this novel, in some pretty major ways. I love these guys, such big heroes; Nic is up for lieutenant, so exciting!
Mystery, undercover narcing, and oh yes, Delilah. Johnny’s daughter has every bit of his smarts and cool, plus a heavy dose of angst and a lovely flair for dramatics. Fatherhood isn’t a role that Johnny has dabbled in as much as he should have, so he’s more or less on a learning curve.
Big crime, although I haven’t quite solved it yet.
But I will! “Maypops in September” should be reaching completion by summertime, and I’m so looking forward to dressing it up with a gorgeous cover and tossing it out there.  Get ready people, here it comes!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

To Believe in Miracles

So, how many of us practice the Law of Attraction? Some of us do unwittingly, I think – certainly those a generation or two ahead of me, for whom positive thinking was more a natural thing. They had learned it, I think, through hardship.
For others of us, this frame of mind takes a conscious effort.
Positive thoughts! Ah God, we need them now in January, when our blood is chilled as last July’s margaritas, our car batteries dead, and our bellies cramped with flu-like symptoms.
No! This is not how you do this! (I’m learning about this through my awesome oldest child, who – along with her brothers - was given to me as much for my own enrichment as hers) Okay – rephrase. Positive thoughts are good in January, even though we already have an abundance of lovely, sparkling snow to look at by the light of a full Cold Moon. Even though we already have safe transportation to get to work and we’re not hitching up horse and buggy like our great grandparents. Even though we’re still eating enough left over Christmas candy to give us – yes, flu like symptoms.
Lol! Well, maybe tongue-in-cheek, but better, right?
The law of attraction teaches us that we can manifest anything into our lives just by believing it will come to us. By having continuous, positive thoughts about our needs and desires. Like Santa Claus? Well, I don’t know if you can ask for a pony or not.
But why not? How badly do you want it?
I’m Catholic, and this is one of the self-truths that I hold most closely. Because it allows me to believe in miracles (we believe, after all, in Christ’s presence on the altar every day) and not only that, but to name the miracles. The return of my beloved de-clawed kitty when he’d been wandering lost for days amongst the coyotes and stray dogs. What about the patient who lived when he had no business doing so? The reading glasses that miraculously appeared on the coffee table when I know I had already looked there twice?
Well, maybe I couldn’t see them, right? Tee-hee-hee!
But isn’t it better to believe? To have something to hang onto?
Wallowing in negativity is not only a soul-eater, it is an exercise in futility. It’s impossible to move forward when your mind is spinning with the anxieties of possible bad outcomes, past failures and gloomgloomgloom. At some point, you have to turn the page, and in doing so, you have to discover why it is that you are here, what is your purpose, and what tools you need to fulfill said purpose.
Which is all really deep, I know.
But start simply  - good thoughts to replace bad, gratitude for what you already have. A conscious effort to rearrange your thought patterns, turning the dark ones oh-so-slowly towards the light.
Maybe play “Here Comes the Sun” and dance in the kitchen with your baby.
Maybe name your Law of Attraction “God” and acknowledge that what you’re doing is one part hope and nine parts prayer, and He’s listening.
Maybe start eating jelly bellies waaaaayy before Easter; pick a different color every day.
Or maybe . . . okay beautiful people, close your eyes, manifest . . . Spring! 
It will be here sooner than we think.  

 *Art by Amy Roemer

Monday, January 13, 2014

Life in the Spin Cycle

My laundry has, in the past few months, gone almost entirely to darks. Which, okay, doesn’t sound significant, except to say I’ve been working some very long hours and my uniform is, of course, the traditional navy blue. Cargoes, sweatshirts, polos, socks - all blue.
Does anyone else out there gauge their life status in terms of laundry?
Twenty-one and single meant laundry was a once-a-week thing. At Mom’s.
And as a newly-wed, I ironed my husband’s work shirts – can you imagine? Just so, with a crease down the sleeve. Of course, I didn’t get it right – ever – and I finally tossed the laundry basket across the room ( maybe out the window, but it was open, I swear) and that was the end of husband laundry, for a time.
Baby laundry. Itty bitty onesies and blankets and bibs.
“Mommy’s jeans, Rachel’s shirts, Philip’s socks.” My youngest liked to sit on top of the dryer and instruct. Towhead in footie pajamas, chocolate chip mess on his chin.
(Sometimes I still see a trace of the toddler’s smile on the adult’s face.)
Store clerk uniform, art smock, baseball jerseys.
Detasseler’s clothes, some of the worst – mud caked on jean cuffs and ground into knees, athletic socks forever gray.
            Football gear – odor like none other, except for – okay, maybe – whatever we wore to the last house fire.  
The dress clothes my daughter needed for her hostess job. Lay flat to dry, good grief. Wash with like colors. Don’t leave them in the hamper with the football clothes, ugh.
Cigarette smell on tee-shirts, cologne scent in summer dresses, five dollar bills rinsed smooth and pocket knives tossed in the spin cycle. Kids growing up in record time, a blink, a heartbeat, done.
So. Nowadays, my job is colored navy blue, but I still get the occasional flannel shirt or fuzzy pajama bottoms emerging from the chaos in my laundry basket  - remnants of children semi (okay, mostly) grown. And I have the new addition of husband shirts again – these are pocket tees, no creases!  Life is hurtling forward – morphing and changing and moving moving moving. Hurry up – sort and fold!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Capturing 2013

It feels odd to take a year and try to pare it the way a chef would an orange – good slices and bad, delicious and unpalatable. I think because time, to me, always has a fluency about it – this rapid forward motion that makes it almost impossible to corral, or to section off in any way. Months have a tendency to overlap, years to blend together, and only much later do they stand apart in any fashion. And then only through the largest of events – a birth, a death, blizzard or house fire or baptism.
And so, I’m capturing 2013, now, on the very edge of it's demise. Before it begins to fade and blend
This was the year of the book! The little girl inside me – who wrote her first full length novel at age fourteen – was, and still is, thrilled beyond measure to hold the finished work in her hands. Joy, joy!
Another bright thread in the weave looks like this – a patient winking at me, just once, from his hospital bed, breaking my heart in an instant, so that I can barely catch my breath. Such a sweet, crystalline sorrow. I know I won’t see him again.
(And how could elation and heartbreak have much the same effect? Chest tightened, soul squeezed, sudden awareness of the heart beating. Maybe these emotions aren’t so far apart as we believe them to be?  Thought for another day.)
In between the pinnacles – my first anniversary; I love him! Our last high school graduation, Johnny grown up! – lies the middle ground of life. And that looks a little like this – my kids and I at midnight Mass. We hold hands during the Our Father, and while I know the brothers are squeezing the blood flow from each other’s fingers, I am still absurdly grateful for this moment. The four of us together, happy and healthy. 
Or this – my bedroom by lamplight, long shadows on the cream-colored walls. Here is a refuge; I am safe and warm and loved.
My daughter, home on summer break and pedaling ahead of me down the bike path with the sun on her hair and the wind carrying her laughter.    
My parent’s house – home – on Sunday, with the fantastic noise of siblings, nieces and nephews, Mom and Dad. Another year gone by, and this thread is still strong and vital.
My partner and I after a particularly rotten call. The helicopter noise has faded into the distance and we are going about the business of red-bagging our bloodied equipment, and he manages a joke. I don’t remember the joke now, it isn’t important. What matters is the effort, taut smile held bright against the blackness of that day. We’re here for each other, and that means everything. 
Or maybe 2013 could be summed up in the simple image of our cat asleep on the couch. Little fat black kitty, so content, he must know more than the rest of us.

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