Lucy Crowe's Nest: 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Chicago Christmas

Four thirty pm and three bitter degrees in downtown Chicago, the wind cutting in from the Lake and the sky giving itself over to a glassy color like pearls. The trees are outlined in white twinkle lights and street performers in full swing beat out “Joy to the World” on garbage can lids while the throng pretends not to notice.  Women clutch holiday bags and children clutch coattails, all breathing the glorious stink of the city – kettle corn and upscale steakhouse, sewer and garbage.

The red line huffs to a stop at Randolph and a Muslim woman ushers her daughter across the salt-chipped sidewalk, looking neither left nor right before slipping like a shadow into the car; she is nearly invisible beneath her hijab, and the white bread girl who sits next to them doesn’t acknowledge them.

Daughter strokes the fur on the blonde woman’s Almost Famous coat and mother jerks the hand away.

Long limbs encased in boots and leggings cross primly.

The L rattles and sways and Feliz Navidad is audible through the headphones of a Latino sitting closest to the doors; he appears to be sleeping, hands in coat pockets, the pink Victoria’s Secret bag incongruous at his feet.

At Clark, the decline in speed is sudden enough to jostle the passengers against each other. They recover from this unwanted intimacy without speaking, and the doors open for a large black woman who is head-to-toe fur, face lost beneath layers of scarf and blue-rimmed Buddy Hollys. The glasses have fogged and she’s carrying bags, and for a moment she can’t find a seat. By the time she lands, the man behind her is furious. He’s wrestling a plethora of holiday bargains – dolls and stuffed dinosaurs peering from half a dozen bags - and he walks with a limp.

“Move your ass!” His voice is harsh above the racket of the L, and his skin is a shiny color like good dark chocolate. He heaves himself into a seat across from the little Muslim girl and the passengers collectively shudder.  “You go left, you go right, you can’t make up your mind! Get the hell out of my way!”

The woman floats the bird before taking her seat and the child’s mouth drops open.

Her mother shrinks a little into her hijab and the Mexican’s eyes blink.

The white girl pretends interest in her phone.

“Don’t you even!” The man splutters, and the tirade that follows throws a pall over the whole car - anger and unhappiness and fear like a nasty puff of skunk.

The woman responds in full cry, calls the man a cripple, a beggar, a steaming pile of horse dung.

The Muslim woman places hands over her child’s ears. Child squirms free; her eyes are bright as the buttons on the white girl’s boots.

The black man winds up to deliver his final epistle. “You ugly!” He hollers. “You SO ugly!”

The little girl can’t help herself – she leans forward to assess, peering around her mother.

“She is!” The man leaps upon the faux pas, and now the white girl, too, sends a furtive glance the length of car before staring fixedly at her phone again. “Isn’t she?” The man crows. “Take those glasses off and show everyone how ugly you are!”

The woman again utilizes her longest finger and the little girl goes saucer-eyed before giggling out loud.

Tiny sound, at first. Musical, clear as a lingering high C, four breaths long.

Mother clucks a warning; child can’t stop.

White girl’s mouth twitches; Mexican’s iPod goes quiet.

Now the little girl laughs out loud. “Your mouth is ugly,” she at last articulates carefully, to the man, (and to her mother’s horror) and now the black woman laughs, big belly-laugh, happy.

Finally, the man laughs, too, and suddenly the air in the car is breathable again. In fact, it’s light; it smells a little like peppermint.

The black woman stands at the next stop, heaves her purse over her shoulder and grabs her bags.

“That’s right, get your ass outta here now!” The man bellows at her. “And have a Merry Christmas!”

Monday, November 28, 2016

Curse of the Stone Arms: Kitty-Boy's Tale

From the desk of Gothika, Dark Lord of the Grimalkins aka Kitty-Boy
                “It was a dark and stormy night.”

                No.

                “Once upon a time, in a land far away. . .”

                Oh drats! How does she do this? And why? Slavering for public approval like one of her hulking outdoor “pets” – is nothing beneath her dignity?

                 Actually, it was a rather ordinary night, but for the enormous Iah,  (which modern humans, tapping into their full  literary and imaginative potential, have dubbed “the Supermoon.” *sigh*). I had watched its ascent across the night sky, and had fallen asleep contentedly on the kitchen table (the Man having gone to bed hours earlier) when I was awakened by the horrible shrill of my human’s Pavlov Response system. (Please see footnote#1.) Inevitably, the humans shine at classical conditioning exercises, and I watched with some pride as they hurtled from their bed, donned boots and clothing, and scurried from the house. Their performance was marred only by a brief collision in the bathroom doorway. Both snarled and swore most impressively. My Human showed her teeth.

I did not see them again until the lovely Iah had disappeared over the hill. They came home positively reeking of house fire, their noses black with smoke and their eyes circled with it. Most alarming of all, My Human had turned to stone from wrists to elbows. (Please see footnote #2) She seemed most vexed at this transformation ie, more colorful swearing; she is truly well versed in language skills. The Man, as is often the case, was also quite vocal about the inciting incident, and implied that the entire fiasco could have been avoided had My Human slowed down and looked before you f**ng leaped.

                I haven’t the faintest notion what My Human leaped into, but the results have been catastrophic. She has the temerity to pat my head with her stone hands! I very nearly chipped a tooth whilst defending myself. She is hit-and-miss with my food dish and her attempts at scooping my litterbox have been dismal. In the spirit of generosity, I left my latest offering on the floor next to the toilet and the ingrate swore at me! Who would have realized the tenuous connection between human hands and brains? Is her mind turning to stone as well? I fear it is a possibility.

                My Human knows I must have ice in my water bowl at all times, and yet she is failing at even this simplest of tasks. When in desperation I stand on the (dirty!) dishes in the sink to drink from the faucet, she responds in the vilest manner by trying to lift me bodily with her concrete arms. I will not stand for it!

            Alas, I fear for my well-being. If you are reading this, please send help. Preferably in the form of salmon.

Pink, Alaskan salmon. Fresh.

Canned tuna offerings will be summarily rejected.
#1 Nine-one-one page to a fire.
#2 Arm casts from wrist to elbow.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Those Who Have Left Us

All Soul’s Night creeps upon us in new darkness, the sun snuffed before six thirty as effectively as calloused fingers pinching a faltering flame.
Light, then; we’re seeking light.
And we find it, in a fashion. Here in these old wooden pews where the same families have sat for generations with the stained-glass saints gazing impassively from above, already immortal. Here in the scent of candle wax and cool, moist brick. Here in the words, the kneelers, the lovely ritual.  
Eternal rest grant to them oh Lord. And may a perpetual light shine upon them.
Ah. Them. Those who have left us. If you’ve lived very long, you have them; if you’ve lived well, you loved them and you probably still do. Everyone here carries this with them. Think about that for a moment – all of us here, suffering that quiet loss together and yet still so alone. I could name you . . . ah well, they’re gone.
My line of work loans itself to the occasional death; my keenest losses are sometimes total strangers, and I don’t know if that makes it easier or harder. I only know that it is. And so, I am thinking of the hands I have held, the comfort I have tried to extend, the way that death slides over a face as implacably as the lavender sky smoothing after the sun has set. I am thinking this when something the priest says reels me back.
“If we live to give God joy,” he says. “Then we live in joy.”
Such a lovely voice, this man – an even and perfect tenor that loans itself well to sweeping statements. He imparts this nugget as though it is ipso facto.
Is it?
Live in joy.
But no. Sweet October has blown away as quickly as it came, and with it the color, the laughter and the bright expectations. November is as gray and chilly as the Chicago lakefront; it knows no joy. And the dead are – whether by accident or design, holding your hand or not – dead.
Ah, but they’re not. We’re here, tonight, because of them, aren’t we? And don’t we feel them – the caress on our cheeks, the voices in our ears, the little breath of life stirring the downy hair of the child sitting in front of you?
Where they are, they are living in joy.
But it’s bigger than that. The priest is right. If we – all of us here, and everyone we knew – were to go forward in joy from this night on, then our worries, our sorrows, our carefully cultivated grudges – none of these could hurt us ever again. We’d have no room for hurt, or for tears, or for misunderstandings. Joy. Each moment, every breath, etched in gold. The utter certainty of loving and being loved. We could wrap ourselves in that and this fear – this fear of loss, of heartbreak, of dying – would cower in our wake until it finally disappeared altogether.
That’s so big, it’s probably too big for us. But maybe we’re meant to try.
Outside, darkness has set in with a vengeance, the tiny pools of crystalline light from the stained-glass windows fading completely before I have gotten to my car. But I crank Sister Hazel on my iPod, and I sing along, all the way home.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

October Magic

October soared homeward in the middle of the night, landing in her yard somewhere before daybreak. By dawn the spreading oaks in the cemetery had taken on a crimson tinge and the air had become so clear and chill that to drink of it was to know an immediate intoxication.

She would have known it was October even with her eyes closed. Would have felt it in her blood, would have remembered the way it slipped like a cool satin cloak around her shoulders.

And so, she kissed her true love right away, because there is nothing so magical as love, and as always in October, she was insanely, delightfully in love again.
 
After that, she danced to the soundtrack of Practical Magic with her black kitty, folded every single summer dress she owned into the closet, and put a purple witch hat on the scarecrow.

She burned leaves just to watch the smoke swirl in curlicues against a sky as shiny and hard as blue ceramic, and she sent good prayers skyward with each plume.

The Halloween box had spent eleven months in the basement but there wasn’t a speck of dust on it. In fact, when she pulled it from beneath the stairs, she noticed the way it glittered like moon light beneath her fingers, and when she removed the lid, a chorus of little voices sang forth:

Ooooh, there’s my favorite ghost, Mommy!

Halloween’s coming, skeletons will be after you!

I want to take the bloody knife to school tomorrow!

For a moment, she hesitated with her fingers still clutching the lid; she could feel the passage of time as ominous and cold as November thunderheads, rolling and tumbling and never-ever looking back, and she knew another year had passed. But October isn’t about regrets, and when the thunder passes . . .  well, the fat, white moon owns the sky; she dug into the box with both hands.

She unearthed cackling jack-o-lanterns, hanging skeletons, swooping bats on invisible wires, and by evening some of the little voices from the box had dropped by in their adult form, only to become children again. (Hershey bars and candy corn are the best cure for dull adulthood, but if you persist in being a grown-up, you should sip a little apple wine to relieve that headache.)
The sun lay down earlier than it had all year, in a nest of golden feathers, and the big dipper poured star dust over the yard. By midnight, she had really and truly let summer go.

Hello, beautiful October.




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Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Great Boatlift of 9/11

The great boatlift of 9/11 became the largest sea evacuation in history. Larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II where 339,000 British and French soldiers were rescued over the course of nine days. On 9/11, nearly 500,00 civilians were rescued by boat. It took nine hours.
If you don’t do anything else this September 11th, watch this video.

If you’re feeling glum about being American, watch this video
.
If you’re one of those who believes we have become increasingly sedentary, uncaring, sheep-like, watch this video.

What I love most about the Manhattan Boat Rescue story is the fact that, for so long, it was an untold one. That, for years – while the firemen, EMS and law officers were lauded for their heroics on September 11th, were given their (very) just dues – the New Yorkers depicted here went largely unnoticed. In fact, they were probably kicked back in their boats, tipping a beer and sharing tales of their . . . well, yes, their heroics.
   
They look like such ordinary people, don’t they? Because they are.

But listen, just listen, to what they did. When the towers were burning, when absolute panic and chaos had set in, they turned to their spouses and their kids, and they said “I’ve got to do something.” And then they did. They got into their boats and, without training, without protection, with no thought whatsoever for their own well-being, they went to work.

It’s easy, now, to remember September 11th through a veil. A day in history that has begun to take on sepia tones. But the reality was absolute terror. And when these ordinary people in their “ferries, private boats, party boats” answered the Coast Guard’s call for help, they had absolutely no idea what they were getting into. Their world was burning, Manhattan was being evacuated in the only way possible – by boat – and like the firemen, they were running into the fray.

“I just had to do something.”

Listen to them in the background, that edgy accent encouraging, cajoling, steering people – strangers – to safety. “Over here,” and “I want you to hold my hand.” Listen to them and ask yourself if you’re not proud to be an American.

This, this is who we are. Sometimes, we only need a mirror to see ourselves
.
Here, today, when we commemorate our darkest moment, let these common, ordinary New York Boat Rescuers be your mirror. They are America
.
We are America.







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Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Professional Editor Lady


“Big News, guys.” The Nice Writer Lady gathers her characters on the front porch, her anxious gaze darting from one pensive face to the next. It is August, and the light has an aqueous quality to it, sun motes floating through the lazy flip of fat green leaves.  The old Sugar Inn has been home now for several years, and they’ve all left their mark on it – Rush’s guitar leaning in a corner, the girls’ shoes abandoned by the back screen door.

“How big?” Bob O’Neill, quintessential alpha male, leans on the railing and folds arms across his chest, already firm in his disregard for The 
Nice Writer Lady’s (admittedly often dubious) proposals.

“I’ve hired an editor,” she blurts, and she can feel astonishment in the ensuing silence – Rush’s calm stare spiking a flush in her cheeks, Bobby’s derision making her squirm.

“But we were done!” Nicola combs fingers through her hair, vexed. “Remember? We talked!”

“And that was a huge help.” The Nice Writer Lady placates. “But we need to do more.”
“What?” Bobby demands.

“Your name, for one thing,” she says, and enjoys his apoplectic expression just a bit. “The Bobby/Benny thing is just too much for a lot of readers.”

“Are you kidding me now?” he splutters, and she regards him through her reading glasses, silently consulting her higher self until she can ride smoothly past his complaint.
“I’ve learned a lot,” she says. “About story structure and character arcs and what the reader wants. It’s been fascinating.”

“Reader who?” Bobby is furious, but Rush quiets him with a dismissive hand wave before making a gimmee motion at the Writer Lady.

“Tell us more,” he says, and she is proud of him all over again.

“Well, take Nicola for instance,” she says. “Do you see how she just disappeared from this conversation? She has to quit doing that.”

“Nope,” Nicola says. “Going fishing.”

“And Benny.” The Writer Lady persists. “There’s kind of been a public outcry about her. I mean, she was supposed to be central.”

Benny is currently swimming. All eyes turn to the lake, the slender shape cutting a path through the glittering tide. Is that Angelo with her, or Toot?

“The Professional Editor Lady is sure the story belongs to Benny.” The Writer Lady can’t help sighing just a little. “Oh, and you two, Rush and Bobby – or whoever you are now – you’ve got to go to work. I mean, what do you do all day?”

“Hang here and play guitar,” Rush said. “Sometimes sip from a glass of Jamesons.”

“Exactly,” the Writer Lady says. “You have an exciting career” – Bobby snorts - “You’re narcotic officers. Let’s see more of what you do.”

“Okey-dokey.” Rush rises slowly to his feet and plants a kiss on Nicola’s head. “We’re setting up surveillance downtown tonight. Wanna ride along?”

“I do,” The Writer Lady is already on her feet. “But only if this relates to Benny. And, existentially, to Nicola.”

“We’ll make it work,” Rush says after a heavy pause. “You’re not rewriting the whole thing, are you?”

“Oh heavens no. Only pieces. Say, can the Professional Editor Lady come along too? Her name is Bonnie; you’re going to love her.

~*~*~


Bonnie Milani 


"The Professional Editor Lady" is now accepting new clients. Interested writers can contact her through her LinkedIn profile here.  Bonnie is also the author of several books, which can be found here.





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New to Lucy Crowe? Get to know Benny, Nicola, Bobby, and Rush in her first novel "Sugar Man's Daughter," and join the mailing list for blog posts and updates on Lucy's next novel,"Maypops in September"

Friday, July 8, 2016

Here in America





Here in America, we’re pretty sure the sky is falling.

A lot of us have quit watching the news, but the fall-out leaks onto us anyway, through well-meaning Facebook buddies and Twitter posts that are more “shout” than “tweet.”

So here it is: a couple of rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth lunatics running for the highest office in the land. An unconscious college student raped behind a dumpster; forty-nine beautiful, dancing, happy people killed in Orlando; another lovely man shot by another terrified cop; five men in blue slaughtered in retaliation.

The evil foisted upon us by each other is chilling, and every single day there is a new story. 

Does anyone understand that we are doing this to each other? That we are the enemy? The dancing people aren’t gay, the murdered man isn’t black, the cop isn’t white. While we’re at it, Donald probably isn’t the antichrist and maybe Hillary hasn’t earned her striped pajamas just yet. No – we are all just people, we are all just us.

We are all afraid together, and it’s killing us. 

Fear is the impetus, the new driving force that has become such a part of our day we don’t notice it anymore. We ingest it by the spoonful with our morning coffee.

So take a minute and think about it.  Think about what is being handed to you by the media, your neighbor and the girl at the check-out counter day after day after day.

Fear. 

The first part of conquering it is recognition. We have to know we’re afraid. We’re not angry, or hate-filled, or religious or patriotic – or any of the other hackneyed excuses we slap like Band-Aids over a gaping wound that Quick-Clot couldn’t fix. No, we’re afraid. 

We’re afraid when we listen to the news and tally the latest loss of life. 

We’re afraid when the Isis soldier encroaches on our social media with another bloody trophy head clutched in his fist.

We’re afraid when the people in the next booth speak a different language. 

When we hear a siren, when we see a thundercloud, when we feel a lump beneath our skin that wasn’t there the day before.  

And the fear makes us smaller day by day. 



The antidote, of course, is love. And it’s hard to even say that, because it sounds like such a platitude. 

Try not to see it in pastel colors, soft and fuzzy as a teddy bear. Make it bright in your mind - a noisy, deafening cymbal crash, a massive, rolling wave. Love as a verb. Love as an affirmative action. Love that floats a battle cry, clear and sharp as the rebel yell. Love that storms the beaches, takes no prisoners, conquers and stands firm.


Love that shelters the refugee and shakes the illegal’s hand. Love that doesn’t care if you wear a rainbow, a sombrero or a turban.

Think of it as a grass-roots movement, a refusal to be controlled by the fear-mongers. You can start small, and be absolutely assured that nothing you do in the name of love is ever small. Dragging a tree limb from the road might save a life. Holding a hand can thwart a suicide. See yourself as a vital part of the whole, and then . . . well, act accordingly.

What if we all refused to be cowed ever again? What if we weren’t afraid of Isis or illegals or racists or cops or thugs or internet bullies? Imagine believing that the God in you – the one filling your lungs and making your heart beat - is just as alive, just as whole, in every other person you see today. 

Because He is. Believe it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Hello, Beautiful June

It’s June!

Who remembers the opening to “Dandelion Wine”, Douglas lying in bed on the first day of summer? Wake up , world! He exhaled and the streetlights went out, blinked, and the old people across the way stepped onto their porch for the morning paper. Opened his fists and dawn spiraled across the sky, spilling gold and pink and lavender over the mist-shrouded town. Mourning doves rustled their feathers and sighed like complacent church women, a new breeze tickled the willow branches, and the windows slapped open on the house next door. And . . .

Summer. Began.

And Douglas knew, even though he was only twelve, that he was completely and utterly alive that day. And he recognized the responsibilities of being alive – the main one being, of course, to be aware of said life. In a way that, quite possibly, only a child could master, he goes through the summer with a sort of hyper- awareness, noticing . . . well, the snap of a silken web across his cheeks, the heady stink of a dandelion beneath his nose, the power of feet and legs, sinew and bones that enables him to run forever.

Dear God, I want to be twelve again.

But summer is upon us, and here is what I know about that: if, in the evening, when the light is a lemony slant through the green tangle of the lilac bushes, I take a tall glass of rum-and-coke to the porch swing and wait there, the Winter Girl steps back. She who huddled in the cold shadow of her losses begins to stretch in the sun’s dying rays. Tears already drying, she sniffs the wind like a small forest creature and registers the sweetness of grass and new tomato plants. Her skin goosebumps beneath the tread of a tiny ladybug and her eyes follow the circle of bats at the streetlight. And summer explodes in her mind with the fizz and pop of a thousand Thunder Snaps. 

Summer. Is here.

Douglas took the summer of 1928 and bottled it. Dandelion Wine lined up in gleaming bottles on the basement shelf, each with its own label and its own memory. This bottle: the smell of peonies, this one: the cold rush of creek water over toes. So when the inevitable winter returned, he had only to traverse stairs - spiders and damp mold stink – to find, again, his joy.

Were people smarter back then, or is a child, simply by the nature of the best, always more intelligent than the rest of us?

The girl on the porch swing sips through a straw, closes contented eyes and toes her shoes off onto the porch boards.

Hello, beautiful June.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Seventy-Seven Steps: Happy Memorial Day!

Seventy-seven weathered, moss streaked steps to the cemetery. Ivy wraps the wrought iron railing and the hum of bees is a far-off, languid sound - mosquito whine is closer, intimate as the tiny mole beneath your lover’s left earlobe.

The kids run ahead, shouting, peony blossoms clutched in sweaty fists; the petals leave a trail not unlike a bride’s path. fragrant and pink and utterly vulnerable to the whims of the breeze. The women follow slowly, iris bouquets cradled to their chests.

“Do you remember Daddy and that old riding lawn mower?” Their voices are a continuous rill, energetic as bird song.

Shriek of laughter; a soft hand slaps a lady bug from a crimsoned cheek. “Didn’t he just love it?”

 
“Aunt Millie put sugar in the gas tank, I swear she did.”

“She was a mean old thing.”

“But” – and here is the satisfying conclusion – “She had a good heart.”

The voices overlap, memories caught in the reaching arms of the elms where they remain, nestled like robin eggs in the silvery wind-tossed leaves.

The kids have reached the summit, have abandoned their flowers and are playing tag amongst the tombstones, their laughter pin-wheeling against a heavy sky, a sky that is just beginning to forgive. The women don’t offer correction because the cemetery above the village has been a playing place for generations; here, in fact, the dead are more alive than anywhere else.

And comfortably so.

Here beneath the live oaks with the dandelions rioting and the prairie breeze pushing in the homey stink of cows. Here where grass is a thousand jeweled shades of emerald and nobody notices if you slip out of your shoes. Here, where everybody from down-the-hill comes home at last.

“Do you remember Junie?” One of the women kneels, lays her bouquet beside a listing gravestone. “The first time she came up here – and she was just a little thing, couldn’t read – she ran right up to Grandma’s stone and said how pretty it was.”

They’re off again, magpies chattering while the sky at last splits to reveal a hands-span of azure so bright it hurts the eyes.

“ . . . and he had the bluest eyes, didn’t he? Well the whole family did.”

“ . . . didn’t think Eddy could go on after . . . “

“ . . . used to bring the cows down from our hill, remember?”

Remember, remember. And the dead - while they are in a place where time matters not at all - are here as well. In words, in thoughts, in little girl’s smiles. As real as your child’s shadow darting quick as Peter Pan on the cobblestone path or the squirrel tossing acorns from the tree limb. Here, Memorial Day is not so much an honoring as a simple acknowledgement, Scout greeting Miss Maudie on the screen porch step.

That’s how close your loved ones are.

The women at last finish their task and gather at the spigot by the gate, where they cup cold water to their faces like the children they were the-day-before-yesterday, drinking and scrubbing the sweat at the back of their necks. They gather up discarded shoes and the sourball wrappers that seem to follow children everywhere and shoo their offspring towards the steps.

Early evening already, the limpid light sweet as lilacs.
 
Seventy-seven steps down, home on either end.

Friday, May 20, 2016

"Incandescent, Shining, Vivid"

The word of the day is luminous.

Oooh, this is a peach, yes?

Writers collect words the way your grandma hoarded knick-knacks, squeezing every inch of them for meaning, beauty and usability. Here’s what the Oxford says about “luminous”:

1. radiating or reflecting light; shining; bright.
2. lighted up or illuminated; well-lighted: 
the luminous ballroom.
3. brilliant intellectually; enlightened or enlightening, as a writer or a writer's works

Ha! Well, of course.

The thesaurus gives us “incandescent, shining, vivid” and a thousand more ways to use just this one, gorgeous word.

“Rush loved the way the light came up in Nicola’s eyes, the luminous, birthday candle expression.” Or “The storm stripped the trees of their new blossoms and the petals danced, luminous as pink fairies in the premature darkness.”

So much fun!

But there’s more. In 2002, Pope John Paul 2 updated the Rosary to add the Luminous Mysteries, which are by and large concerned with miracles – the transfiguration, the changing of water into wine, the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Incredible events, they could have just as easily been the “fireball” mysteries or the “wheee! Awesome!” mysteries, but that wise man chose “Luminous” instead, thereby casting a beautiful shine over those days, inspiring a sort of quiet awe.

In photometry, luminous energy is the perceived energy of light, and should you choose to research this, you’ll soon be agog in technical terms. “This type of energy can be collected from luminous wisps, located south of Sophanem at level 90 of Divination.” What? Not a clue, but isn’t it lovely? I wish I could paint the luminous wisps; this feels Dr Seuss-ish to me.

Virginia Woolf said that, “Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”

Or wait – look at this song.
Admittedly, I’m not a big fan, but these lyrics:

Luminous more so then most anyone
Unapologetically alive knot in my stomach
And lump in my throat
I love you when you dance.

Fairly awesome, yes? The power of the word is amazing to me; as a writer, I never get enough of it. 
So today, I’m going to take “luminous” and put it in my pocket, rub it smooth with my
thumb the way you would a Saint Michael medallion or a worry stone, and make it my
own.

Tomorrow’s word??



*Art by KaritaArt



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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Nicola and "The Writer Lady"

As of this month, I have entered my upcoming novel “Maypops in September” in several competitions, the results of which should be so exciting! Of course – and perhaps inevitably – the submissions have caused a bit of anxiety, which has spilled over into the lives of my characters . . . Well, here is a glimpse of what this looks like:

John Rush sits in the slatted sunlight leaking through the window blinds, guitar in his lap, cigarette forgotten in the ashtray. He’s working out the bumps to Heart Shaped Box and watching his wife, who lies supine on the floor in front of him. She’s in sweats and a dago tee, blonde curls haloing her head. Biceps flex and knot – she lifts the kettle bell over her head, lowers it again, slowly.
                “The Writer Lady’s coming over again today.” Bob O’Neill leans in the kitchen doorway, tall coffee cradled in his broad hand.
                “Ah God.” Nicola lets the weight drop over her head, rattling the floor, huffing her indignation. “She wants to work on me.”
                “Easy, babe.” Rush’s fingers pause over the strings and then find the melody again. “She’s just trying to help.”
                “I’m not sure I even want people to like me.” Nicola sits up, pushes her hair back with the flat of her palm. Sweat glistens on her shoulders and arms, darkening her firefighter tattoo. “Why do they have to like me?”
                “It’s all about her Amazon and Goodreads rank.” Bobby flops on the other end of the couch and bats at Rush’s cigarette smoke. “You’re holding the rest of us back.”
                “Bob.” Rush cautions his friend with one word, brows raised minimally. Picks his cigarette up and inhales deliberately.
                “Not true!” Nicola pulls an ugly mug, bottom lip thrust out. “And why the hell am I the main character anyway? I don’t even like talking to her.”
                “Work on it, sugar.” Rush exhales a nicotine cloud, ragged plume settling just in front of Bobby’s face. “Might be important, right?”
                “Not.” Nicola scoffs. “Look, the writer lady has a real job when she’s not hanging with us. Why doesn’t she just stay in her stupid fire station and leave us alone?”
                “I dunno.” Bobby has settled behind the smoke screen, cobalt eyes half closed behind his glasses. “She found Sophie for me. That was good.”
                “Yup.” Rush is strumming his guitar again, not looking at his wife. “And she lets us have all the booze and sex  and cigarettes we want. That’s worth a lot.”
                “Fine!” Nicola tugs her hair in frustration. “What do I have to do?”
                “Tell her who you are.”  Rush’s words flow over the music; in the next room The Writer Lady catches her breath in anticipation, and fumbles her Tablet out of her purse. “Just tell her who you are.”
 
~*~*~

New to Lucy Crowe? Get to know Nicola and Rush in her first novel "Sugar Man's Daughter," and join the mailing list for blog posts and updates on "Maypops in September"

 Sugar Man's Daughter



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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter 2016: Joy, Laughter, Life!

Easter makes me itch, always has. When I was little, it was the damned dress, all lace and unforgiving elastic around my chubby middle. Hair ribbons! Pulling the skin taut across the skull, hiking the eyebrows. Perfect little Mary Janes and tight-tight tights. An endless church session – drone drone drone – incense tickling the nose and sweat crawling the ribs.  It was monstrous, I’m telling you.

In adulthood, the itch has become more a thing of the mind.

Well, here it is . . . why so quiet? Really, why is nobody shouting about this back-from-the-dead thing? Shouldn’t we be?

I think we should build a huge bonfire on Holy Saturday night and just push the darkness all the way back to the horizon. We should have all our friends over and sit talking beneath the moon with a wine glass in our hands until dawn cracks the sky open.

And then . . .  bells should be ringing everywhere, joy on the very air we’re breathing; we should be delirious with it. Because – in case anybody missed the big memo – we are God’s children and, ipso facto, we are happy. Poof! There is no anger, there is no hate, and here is the big one . . . there is no fear.  Because Jesus took that package for us. He wrapped it up in blood and tears and humanity and he tossed it in our laps and said, “open it.”  Inside?

Life. There is life
.
We’re meant to be joyful.

So throw away the pastels. Color the day in vivid emerald and sapphire and fill it with laughter. Toss every little transitory death that has victimized you into the clean blue fire and call it good. They were never yours anyway. Don’t ask yourself what you believe, or why or how. Just believe. Wrap your mind around the incomprehensibility of Eternal Life, and let yourself be awed. Not only are you good enough - you are, by your birthright, incredible. You just have to own it.
 
In a nutshell: Easter is probably the biggest thing that can happen to us here on Earth. I think we should all stop yawning and take notice.

Roll the stone away, people. Celebrate!



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Friday, February 19, 2016

Lovely and Forever: Rest in Peace, Harper Lee

Art by SSC-Art
Harper Lee died today, and that has me a lot more bummed than I would like to be.

So I pour a cup of coffee and I take it with me to sit on the stoop at Fire Station B, where a fierce Spring wind is scouring the prairie, warm enough to plant images of dandelions over the last vestiges of gray February snow.

I shouldn’t be so unhappy over the loss of someone I’ve never met, but I feel bruised inside, and I want . . . My fingers comb my pockets for the memory of cigarettes and come up with a small scrap of creased paper
.
Ah. I know what it is without opening it, so I leave it folded and return it to my pocket without looking at it.

The paper has last week’s accident victim’s name on it. She had a funny name, foreign, and I had scrawled it out painstakingly at the ER in order to have it with me when we did the report. I’ve actually washed these pants twice since that encounter, and each time I return the paper to the pocket without asking myself why.

Evidence of burn out maybe.

Maybe coping mechanisms slipping just a little.

No matter. The patient died, and now she is here with me while I think about Harper Lee.
That dead woman colored my childhood. Her words strung through my soul like the gentle drift of fireflies and illuminated within me the biggest desire of my life. The desire to write, to create . . . to take a piece of my own humanity and keep it, lovely and forever preserved for anyone who wanted to come in and look.

Lovely and forever.

So there it is. These deaths – the accident victim, the death of my beloved hero author – highlight nothing so much as the fleeting nature of life and the way we try so hard to hang onto it. We set the book on the shelf and we keep the paper scraps in our pockets and we pretend we know nothing at all of who God is and where the dead people go.

They do go. They do.

And that is okay; it is in fact exactly as it should be.

My fingers find the paper scrap, wad it carefully into a tiny ball and toss it into the wind.

RIP




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