What’s in your drawers?

I’ve been writing a lot lately about renewing old friendships. On Wednesday, in fact, I challenged readers to contact someone they haven’t seen in over ten years. Have you done this yet? I’m going to my college homecoming next weekend where members of my graduating class will be celebrating our thirty-fifth year out of school. I should find some long-lost friends there.

Friendships aren’t the only things we can renew. As writers, I dare say, we all have manuscripts, short stories, scripts, songs, poems–something–we haven’t looked at in years. Most of us hide them in drawers, so we aren’t constantly reminded of these old projects. Why not open your drawers (or slide the boxes from under your bed) and pull out a work-in-progress you’ve previously discarded? It might be as simple as perusing some old computer files. You did back them up, didn’t you?

You could find a jewel and know exactly what it needs to be polished and published. At the very least, I suspect, you’ll get a laugh or two. As I look at my writing from over the years, I have one of two reactions. Either I’m surprised at how good it is or I’m appalled at how horrible. I have to confess there are way more projects in the second category.

After you call that long-lost friend, locate some of your old work. At the very least, you’ll have a laugh–or cry–from the experience. Let me know which it is.

Happy weekend.

~Kay

                                           



Roommate Reunion — 223

On my way home Dina’s funeral Sunday, I had a layover in the city where my college roommate lives. We’ve talked on the phone and e-mailed, but haven’t seen each other in over twenty, maybe twenty-five years.

I first met Linda Ann when we were six or seven and attended the same dance school; let me amend that–the only dance school in our county. We lived in different towns about twenty miles apart, and I’m guessing we were six or seven. I don’t think we were in the same dance class, but we did recitals together and were aware of the other’s existence. Our paths next crossed during a high school typing tournament (not much to do in rural Alabama counties).

The summer after I graduated from high school (1973) I accompanied my former dance teacher and sixteen of her students to New York City for three weeks of jam-packed activities. The morning after I arrived home, I was awakened by an early morning phone call (probably 10 a.m.).

The conversation went something like this:

“Hi, Kay. This is Linda.”

“Hi, Linda.” Linda who? The only Linda I could think of was a girl in my graduating class and I could think of no reason she’d call me.

Linda continued, “I guess you know we’re both going to the same college, and I was wondering if you wanted to be roommates.”

“Sure, that sounds good.” I’d been a little antsy over who I’d room with and even though I wasn’t 100% sure I knew to whom I spoke, she sought me out. It had to be better than pot luck. Actually, I did know Linda Ann and I were going to the same college, but I was severely sleep deprived and it took a few seconds minutes to connect the dots.

As it turns out it was a great fit. We lived together our first two years of college. We had private rooms our third year because we both crammed a four year degree in three years. Looking back, WHY would we do that??? Were we crazy???

Our room those first two years was a little larger than a breadbox, but not much. It had two “sofas” that pulled out into twin beds. They were permanently connected to the walls and parallel to each other. Now that I think about it, all of the furniture in that dorm was anchored, so there was no rearranging it. Linda’s dad made us wooden bookcases (painted yellow) that we somehow attached to the shelf on top of flip-up yellow storage bins which served as the back of our sofas. We each had a desk with a hutch and our own closet with a luggage size space above it.

The community bath was down the hall and the pay phone was right outside our door. We splurged and had a private line installed in our room–we anticipated being very popular. We put a small refrigerator between the desks and as I recall, there was next to zero room to walk when the beds were pulled out.

When we finally arrived at school our freshman year, we went to Penny’s (or maybe Sears) and got matching bedspreads. They were orange and yellow, a floral print, I think. Linda was taller than me, but we were close enough to the same size (then) we could share some of our clothes. We both tried out for and made the elite eight-member dance team called “The Huntingdon Honeys” so we spent even more time together at rehearsals and performances (mostly basketball games). Even so, we didn’t take a lot of classes together. The only one I can recall was Romantic Poets and neither of us found much romance in the poems of Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Byron, Coleridge and certainly not in the dark poems of Blake. But we both aced the class.

Early on we formed a pack–anything discussed in room 223 remained between the two of us. We shared tears, successes, a few failures, gossip (I know you’re shocked), hopes, dreams and secrets. Even now, when we disclose something in confidence, we evoke room 223. Although there were plenty of antics, I can’t blog about them. Just think two cute, smart, small-town girls, away from home for the first time, in the seventy’s, and you’ll get a close enough picture.

~~~

Last Sunday, I left the secured area of the airport and met Linda in the lobby. After a five-minute hug, we talked non-stop for 1 ½ hours. The people around us probably thought we were drunk or having seizures as we relived memories and got caught up with each other’s life. At times we were laughing so hard we couldn’t catch our breaths.

 

Linda Ann and me

~~~

The sudden death of a friend way too young to die and the reuniting with my college roommate reinforced for me how important long-time friendships are. I challenge you to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve not seen in over ten years. In fact, I challenge you to do this once a month for the next year. Let us know in comments who you’re going to call first. I’m going to make these calls. How about you?

~ Kay

 

 

Old friends, new friends, forever friends

 

As you know if you read my blog, my friend, Dina D’Gerolamo, passed away recently and her funeral mass was Saturday in New Orleans. From my immediate circle of friends, five drove from Nashville and three of us utilized Southwest. The first van of “drivers” timed it perfectly and picked us up from the airport before going to our hotel to check in. We’d gotten suites so we would have living areas to hang out.

Our initial destination after freshening up (dressing to go out) was Dina’s favorite bar, Daiquiris, where we met a group of her high school friends, others from Nashville, and sorority sisters—from both her collegiate and alumnae chapters. Some we already knew, some we didn’t. After drinks, part of the group went to restaurants near the bar. Others of us drove to a local mom and pop type place where we feasted on New Orleans fare. Stuffed and happy someone took the photo below.

A few of Dina’s friends out for dinner

 

Saturday dawned and was a bright, sunny day. Humid, but it was New Orleans, and the locals said it was much cooler and less humid than the prior week. I was missing our Nashville 60’s weather, for sure.

Dina’s two brothers and their families received visitors at the funeral home. The place was packed. Her casket was simple and draped with dozens and dozens of red roses. After the graveside service, the priest invited those who wanted to, to take a rose. Of course the AOIIs dive-bombed the spray for a remembrance.

The mass was elegant in its simplicity with her childhood priest presiding. Our sorority sister and one of Dina’s besties, Donna Kumar, read an original poem entitled Forty-six Roses. At the end of the service, a cut was played from the CD Make Someone Happy. The vocalist was recording artist, AOII sister and Dina’s close friend Monica Ramey. Those two remembrances almost did me in.

One of Dina’s nephews assisted with the Communion. Her two nieces, ages seven and eight, paid a special tribute, which they ended by leading the mourners in, I dare say, an original version of Amazing Grace. They sang loud, they sang with gusto and they sang every verse—some twice. When they stumbled a little in the middle of what, after a couple of stanzas had become a duet, the Priest asked if they’d like to finish there and they said, no, they wanted to sing it all. Dina would have absolutely loved it! The congregation certainly did.

The interment service was at the family vault where she joined her parents, both of whom have died in recent years. As you probably know, in New Orleans bodies are not buried but instead are put in a mausoleum or some other type of above ground structure. Of course, this is because the city is below sea level. This particular cemetery was severely damaged from the devastating hurricane and I was told at Dina’s Dad’s funeral the destruction had still been obvious. On Saturday, I would never have known Katrina had paid a visit.

After the services (and another change of clothes) we proceeded to Dina’s childhood home where we were welcomed by family and neighbors. Let me say funeral feasts are different in Louisiana than in Tennessee. Cajun cooking at its best and desserts that added pounds if you dared to walk by them.

Even after all of that food, we made our way to Cafe Du Monde for their world famous beignets. Yummy!

Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

The Nashville gals made the decision to have a quiet night in before heading home on Sunday. One of our fold had thoughtfully brought the movie Bridesmaids and most of our crowd had not seen it. Saturday was my third viewing of the hilarious movie, but it was so nice to scrunch together on the sofa bed surrounded by chairs and do something mindless. Of course when we got to the scene **spoiler alert** where the new friend visits the old friend to report the bride was missing, our hearts skipped a few beats. ** end spoiler alert**. We knew the movie would end happily ever after, but it of course reminded us of the two days Dina was “missing” before she was found. The best part of the night was knowing Dina would have loved the movie and would’ve been in the middle of the pack could she have been there. She was with us in spirit.

Top Three things I (re)learned in New Orleans over the weekend:

1. Dina had a lot of friends and touched many lives

2. It’s easy to get (and stay) lost — even with GPS

3. We can’t take for granted those we love will be here tomorrow. Tell them you love them today.

Losing Dina so suddenly and so young reminded me how valuable friendships are. I booked my return flight so I’d have a layover in the city where my former college roommate lives. We’ve stayed in touch during the many years since college, but neither of us could remember the last time we saw each other, but agreed it was at least twenty years. She met me at the airport during my layover. I’ll tell you about that reunion on Wednesday.

Until then,

~Kay

RIP Dina D’Gerolamo

This is the second consecutive Friday I’ve taken a “day off” due to the death of a friend. I’m on my way to New Orleans with several Nashville friends for Dina’s Memorial Mass tomorrow.

Sorority friends gather for annual holiday dinner at Dina's

        Dina is on bottom right (red jacket); I’m top left (pink)

A quote from Dina’s Facebook page:

Life is too short to wake up with regrets 

Love the people who treat you right

Forget about the ones who don’t

Believe everything happens for a reason

If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands

If it changes your life, let it ♥

Photo taken by Dina the weekend before she died

 

Until Monday,

~ Kay

I hurt all over


 

Of course my heart hurts from the loss of my friend, Dina D’Gerolamo, but the rest of my body hurts too . . .

About a year ago, I joined a tap group of ladies in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. (Yes, 70’s!) We do an annual recital in June with the little kiddies, a big-time competition in December and fill in with other events throughout the year. Last night we danced at a United Way celebration held at Nashville’s largest mall.

After a two-hour rehearsal on Sunday, a three-hour lesson/rehearsal on Monday, and performing last night absolutely every part of my body hurts.

Yesterday I woke up in the middle of the night with a severe leg cramp. I kept it wrapped in a heating pad much of of the day prior to the show.

Today I woke up at 6 a.m. with the beginnings of a migraine. I took my migraine prevention medicine, then got out the ice packs–one for my shoulders, one for my lower back, one for my butt, and another one for my calves. While, wrapped in these ice packs, I “rolled” my feet over a frozen water bottle. I suppose I could dump a bag of ice into a cold bath and get the same effect.

I wonder if someone makes a “full-body” ice pack and if so how much freezer space would it take? Hum, maybe a frozen yoga mat. I could be on to something here.

Last night’s show was a lot of fun and the Tap-N-Dolls were a hit. Hubby said some of the teenage dance teams were taking notes from our routines, especially Rock Around the Clock. We also did Next Big Thing, Dancing Fool and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. With only five minutes between numbers for complete costume changes, it was quite frantic, but a 50’s DJ kept things hopping.

I’d hoped to post some video, but Hubby used his phone to record us and I don’t know how to transfer what he captured. I welcome remedial advice on the subject. (The file is too large to e-mail.) Some of the “dolls” took photos so if I can get any of them, I’ll add them to the post.

For now, I’ll stick with the ice packs and probably skip today’s three-hour lesson. My migraine medicine makes me more goofy and off-balance than normal, so spinning and turning might not be the smartest thing to do. But I’ll be back in the studio on Monday and will practice at home until then. Really, I will. Competition is only three months away.

~ Kay

 

 

Friends and loss

In my prior life (first marriage), I lived in a medium-sized town in northeast Alabama. This was my home for over fifteen years—I’ve been gone for sixteen. Even so, I feel most of my closest friends are from my former hometown.

Back then, I had seven primary groups of friends with some crossover from one group to another. My then-husband was a physician and I was active in the Medical Auxiliary. Two other groups were social clubs or Krewes. The sole focus of each was to throw a big party once a year. Revelers traditionally held its bash the last Friday before Lent; the Maskers’ ball was the first Friday after Easter. I saw my tennis friends almost daily during temperate weather. My co-advisors for a nearby college sorority I saw less frequently, maybe monthly, but we talked on the phone a lot. (This was before e-mail.) My best friends were the six ladies with whom I worked in addition to members of “the birthday group” where twelve of us met monthly to celebrate. In three of the groups (work, advisors, and birthday), I was the youngest and I loved it. (Vanity, thy name is Kay.) These are women I can go months, even years, without seeing, yet when we get together it’s as though no time has passed.

Over the weekend, Hubby and I made the four-hour drive to visit one of my friends from the birthday group (and both social clubs). Her husband had died the prior week, and I couldn’t get there for the funeral. But I had to see her. I had to give her a hug.

It still amazes me every time I go back, even after sixteen years, I see people I know when I’m out and about. Friday night, we were at a restaurant where we’d met some of my former co-workers and their significant others. When we were leaving, I happened to see several other couples from the old days. One invited us for brunch the next morning, another asked us stay with them during a future visit. It was as though I’d never left.

~~~

When I moved to Nashville, I bonded with a group of sorority sisters, all younger than me. It was rude awakening to no longer be the baby of the group. All of a sudden, I was an elder, maybe even a mentor. Though I made other friends during the years that followed, this special group of women remained my core group of besties. We get together several times a year to celebrate birthdays and catch up. There were eight of us. Now there are seven.

While I was in Alabama, I learned one of my Nashville friends, Dina, was “missing.” No one had heard from her since Tuesday night. She was single, but great at staying connected. She’d gone to Kentucky for a business meeting and was scheduled to return home on Wednesday. The local police took a report on Friday (they wouldn’t take one earlier) and contacted the authorities in Kentucky. Friends called television stations, deluged social media with her photo and pleas to help find her, and set up a network connecting some of the different branches of friends in her life.

Friday afternoon she was found dead, at the location she’d spent Tuesday night. There was no appearance of a break-in or foul play and the death was ruled “natural causes.” There has been an autopsy, but the results haven’t been released to my knowledge.

Dina was in her mid-forties, active, vivacious, and involved in more activities than I can count. She seemed healthy and was not into drugs, so her death was a huge surprise. Most of us are still walking around in shock. Already there have been at least two gatherings, one Friday night, the other Saturday afternoon, where friends have gotten together to remember her.

Both of her parents have passed away during the past few years but she has two surviving brothers (and their families) who still live in her native hometown of New Orleans. Tentatively, if the coroner releases the body as planned, the funeral will be Saturday in New Orleans. Four sorority friends have decided to drive and will rent a van if more want a road trip. At least eight others are flying down. That’s probably what I’ll do as well.

For me, it isn’t real yet. However, one friend framed it nicely. “At least Dina will always be young and beautiful.” Rest in peace, my friend. Rest in peace.

~Kay

 RIP Dina D’Gerolamo

Time off for good behavior

Hubby and I are out-of-state to be with a friend whose husband died a week ago.

Today, I’m going to spend my time visiting with friends rather than creating a post. I’m sure you’ll understand.

Have a grand weekend. See you Monday.

~Kay

RIP Tom Parsons

Pain and more pain

Here I sit with an ice pack around my waist and another one under my bottom as I roll my feet over a frozen water bottle. Oh, the life of a “senior” tapper.

The tap troupe to which I belong, the Tap N Dolls, is aged 53 to 76. One might think compensation would be given due to our age, but not with a 64-year-old former Rockette as our choreographer and teacher. Here are a couple of short videos of the group before I joined them.

 Chorus Line

Mambo # 5

We have an upcoming performance for United Way next week and our three to four hour practice sessions not only consist of preparation for the show, but also learning not one, but two new dances for future functions. In addition, we’re getting ready for a competition in December where sixteen of us will dance before NYC judges.

I have pain, but it’s not injury pain. It’s the pain of hard work. It’s like going to the gym and exercising to the point where everything is sore, but nothing is hurt.

This physical pain reminds me of the cross-eyed, brain-dead pain associated with ten straight hours of writing. I’m pleased to have accomplished so much, but unable to carry on a coherent conversation. Whether body or brain, I call it my feel-good pain.

What about you? Do you have feel-good pain? Can you function after a whole day of writing?

Oops! Got to go—it’s time to change my ice packs and get ready for today’s class.

~Kay

Monday Meanderings

I didn’t make good choices for myself yesterday.

First, I read the newspaper including every word of the 9/11 accounts. Then I caught up on my blog reading. Because I follow blogs of authors, agents, and editors—quite a few located in NYC—there were numerous accounts of where-I-was, what-I-saw, and what-I-did ten years ago. The most poignant for me was that of Meg Cabot. Wow!

Though I’d blogged about the 9/11 memorials on Friday, I’d not seen pictures until I read today’s paper. I love how pools with fountains were built on the footprint of each of the twin towers. Around the base of each pool are bronze parapets inscribed with the names of victims. Surrounding the North Pool are the names of those from WTC North, Flight 11 and the six victims of the WTC bombing of February 26, 1993. The South Pool embraces the names of those who perished in the WTC South, the first responders, Flight 175, Pentagon, Flight 77 and Flight 93. The Freedom Tower, scheduled to open in 2013, will be the centerpiece of the memorial complex, which will include a total of seven buildings.

The Pentagon Memorial consists of 184 illuminated benches, each with a victim’s name arranged according to age (from three to seventy-one). Benches for Pentagon victims face the south facade where the plane hit and benches dedicated to those on the plane face skyward along the path where the plane traveled. Coolest of all, in my opinion, are the memorials where more than one member of the same family died during the attack. Family names are listed in the reflecting pool under the individual benches.

In Pennsylvania, the memorial wall has forty spheres, each with the name of a Flight 93 passenger or crewmember. Also created were forty Memorial Groves, each with forty trees, such as sugar or red maples for a total of 1,600 trees. The Sacred Ground, which absorbed much of the impact of the crash, is now a flower-filled meadow and hemlock grove.

After all my reading, I needed human interaction so I called a friend from another city whose husband died Friday.

I was home alone and, not surprisingly, I was feeling quite melancholy. I decided to cheer myself up by watching some football—the Titans lost. When Hubby got home from his workout, we decided to watch a movie. All we could find were war movies. I know better than to watch war movies, especially those of the Vietnam era or since.

Finally, during a commercial, I came to my senses and told him I didn’t think we should watch any more war movies after the one we were watching ended. His twenty-six-year-old son is a Marine scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in October. He knew I was serious because I don’t make many of these types of requests. The only other appeal he’s currently living with is not to text in the car, even at red lights. He agreed, WE wouldn’t watch any more war movies, but didn’t commit for him alone. However, after a few more battles in the movie we were watching, he suggested we turn the television off.

I went to bed with my widowed friend, 9/11, and war movies in my psyche. It’s no wonder I had vivid nightmares. Too bad I don’t write scary. I finished a murder/mystery yesterday so it’s time for me to start a new book. I think I’ll choose something light and fun. I’m already making better choices today.

~Kay

 

RIP Tom Parsons

In memory of 9/11

 

When I was eighteen, I visited the World Trade Center. If I remember correctly, there was a restaurant near the top and the study group I traveled with had lunch there. I thought it was big-time cool the tower we were in was so tall we had to take two elevators to get all the way to the top. (It didn’t take much to impress this small-town girl.)

I returned to NYC several times in the years that followed, but it wasn’t until 2007, that I went back to that historic spot with its new name—Ground Zero. It’s impossible to explain the emotions I experienced when I saw the humongous hole in the ground or as I walked through a church where artifacts and photos were lovingly displayed. I know there are those who’ve capitalized on this national catastrophe, but all I saw was reverence and respect. 

Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11—the biggest tragedy in my lifetime.   

According to Wikipedia, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, located at the World Trade Center site, will be dedicated on Sunday and the Memorial will open. The museum is scheduled to open next year. The twin towers have become the icon for 9/11, but there are two other crash sites we must remember. The Pentagon Memorial opened in 2008, and a temporary memorial was created at the crash site in Pennsylvania until the Flight 93 National Memorial is completed. Almost 3,000 people were confirmed to have died on that infamous day.

My heart aches for the victims of 9/11—not only those who lost their lives, but also their families and friends. And for our country, which never be the same. How sad the events of one day could cause so much grief. Ten years have passed but the day and the victims will never be forgotten.

 

 

~ Kay