What dreams are made of

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:40 PM

The question comes up quite a bit between my friends and I. What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question as old as time, I suspect; one we’ve all heard since we were children. It started with adults asking how old we were and what were our names, and the minute those same adults suspected we had grown enough to answer a more thought-provoking question, they asked it: What do you want to be when you grow up?

We were conditioned to think we could be anything and most especially President, boys and girls alike. And as we grew older we decided we knew exactly what we would be. A teacher, an astronaut, a meter maid. I wrote a paper in 8th grade about becoming a photographer. I don’t believe I had ever taken a picture before in my life but it seemed like a very cool thing to be, a photographer. I would travel the world, go on safari, photograph giraffes and lions on the Serengeti; I would photograph the Eiffel tower and the Coliseum and Half Dome, only mine would be better than Ansel Adams. I outgrew that fairly quickly and then decided that I was born to be on stage before transitioning, effortlessly, to film. Or maybe I’d be a rock star. Never mind that I couldn’t sing. It was the dream of it all that mattered, the possibility.

In college, I temporarily lost focus and my dreams clouded. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I started out as an art major and I was, at best, mediocre. I also didn’t have the passion for it. I had always excelled in English and in writing and I found myself leaning in the direction of Shakespeare and Faulkner, of Eudora Welty and Maya Angelou and Mark Twain, of DH Lawrence and Henry James. My major shifted to English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. I had no idea what I would do with such a degree when I graduated from college but like the great heroine of the quintessential Civil War-era, Southern novel Gone with the Wind famously posed: I would simply think about that tomorrow.

But what happens when tomorrow comes and then the next day?

Each one of us has dreams, some we’ve acted on, some we haven’t. I know I still do. I dream of writing a beautiful novel, of spending my days creating a reality that exists only in my head and transferring it perfectly, exquisitely to paper (metaphorically and literally). I dream and I refuse to stop.

I know so many people who are doing things to change their lives, to change the world. I’m writing several books for the man who started an important and non-profit health organization. His name is Bob Knutzen and he started the Pituitary Network Association to help spread the word about the incredible prevalence of pituitary disease. He’s passionate about it.

A woman I worked with years ago at Sebastian, Adrianna Reo, was laid off after 19 years and took a good portion of her severance to start The Reo Bakpak Company to provide homeless kids with good, strong, and even cool backpacks so that they feel more empowered when they go to school.

There’s a dog rescue in Washington State called Second Chance Dogs, a group of women who have dedicated their time and energy to rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing abandoned, abused, and neglected dogs.

My friend Bobbi is a perfect example of someone who understands the importance of dreams and not just because she’s a therapist. She never went to college, but in her 30s, decided that she was going to become a psychologist. She went through an undergrad program, and then got her master’s degree, and then had to complete 3000 hours of interning in order to take the test to become licensed. She did all of this while also working full time as a graphic designer. She’s also started, with other therapists, a group called The Conversation Group. I don’t think she realizes how inspirational she is.

Or her husband Roy, a fine artist who made a living for years as a creative director and an art director. Now in his 60s, he’s returning to his first love: art. And creating with a passion I’ve rarely witnessed.

There’s a man named Charlie Annenberg, a vet (I believe) who founded a non-profit organization, with his golden retriever Lucky, to provide therapy dogs to soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s called Dog Bless You.

And my buddy Tucker, a therapy dog who, along with his mom Dr. Wendi Hirsch, works to help kids fighting the debilitating effects of cancer and its treatment to feel a little bit better because of a snuggle and a kiss from a beautiful blonde, furry boy.

I have a client who is committed to raising funds for cancer research through one of her products, Cure. Her mother died of breast cancer; her sister has successfully beaten it back twice.  And my friend Pam in Maryland, whose salon, Mason and Friends, participates in Cuts for Cancer each year, a local fund-raising event. She’s a cancer survivor, too, and a former dancer. One day, perhaps, she’ll dance again if for no other reason than because she can, and because she dreams.

My husband ditched his corporate career some ten or so years ago to go into web development, web design and Internet marketing. He also builds furniture and dreams of making wine.

Even while doing all of these things, each of these people – and so many, many more – myself included, continues to dream of what we’ll accomplish, what we can do, how we can change the world, what we will be when we grow up. That’s why today, I’m celebrating all the dreamers, because they are the biggest believers in the possible.

As the great writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old; they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

What is your dream? What is it made of?  I would be willing to bet that it’s made of hope.

 

 

In which I celebrate the sheer joy of the bookstore

by Lorin Michel Sunday, July 17, 2011 10:49 PM

For a writer, a bookstore is like crack cocaine to a drug addict. You walk in the door, feel the cool rush of air conditioning and breathe in the intoxicating scent of paper and ink mingling with the blood, sweat and tears of the writers whose names grace each jacket, each cover. In new bookstores, the shelves that greet you are long and welcoming. Tables stretch ahead, adorned with signs touting “new releases,” “great new writers,” “new in paperback,” and “discoveries.” In used bookstores, the fragrance is almost overwhelming. It’s slightly musty, obviously old, like walking into an antique store, but that fragrance is rich in history, and the pages of those books, those pre-owned books, bear the mark, feel and scent of those who turned the pages before.

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet dictates to Baruch the scribe the mode in which his book was written. Scribes are considered the earliest booksellers, supplying copies of the books they heard dictated to those who asked. Aristotle is said to have possessed an extensive library; Plato is said to have paid quite a bit of money, one hundred minae, for three small books by Philolaus the Pythagorean. One of the first libraries, the Alexandrian in Greece, was founded in 300 BC, with various people procuring books to showcase for the masses.

In Ancient Rome, it became a fashion statement to have a library as part of a household and Roman booksellers flourished. Their shops were called taberna librarii. So great was the desire for books that a law was passed granting scribes the ownership of the material written.

During the Abbasid Caliphate in the east and Caliphate of Cordoba in the west, medieval Islam also encouraged the development of bookshops and dealers. And the great demand of copies of Christian gospels and the bible increased demand for books by scribes and new stationers even more.

Bookselling took on even greater significance in 1470 when Antony Koburger introduced the art of printing. Henry VIII and Edward VI on England tried to meet the demand for books but were stopped by the monarchs of the Tudor dynasty. Regardless, the first patent for a king’s printer was granted to Thomas Berthelet by Henry VIII in 1529 and book printing and thus bookselling progressed from there.  Unfortunately, the great fire of London in 1666 destroyed many of the books of the time because they had been stored in the vaults of St. Paul’s Churchyard. Pity, that.

Which brings me to Barnes & Noble, the bookseller founded by Charles Barnes in 1873. The first actual bookstore was opened in 1917 in New York City by William Barnes, Charles’ son, and G. Clifford Noble, at 31 West 15th Street. In 1932, it moved to its flagship location at 18th Street and Fifth Avenue. I thought of this store today, a store I visited when I was in high school and traveled to New York with my mother for the weekend. I remember walking Fifth Ave, popping into Tiffany’s and other stores, but the one I remember most was Barnes & Noble, the premier bookstore of New York, of the world. The front of the store was sidewalk to ceiling glass, stocked with books, of course, and the inside was pure drug-fueled magic to this budding writer. Today there are 717 stores and some 637 college bookstores. Most now provide a place to curl up with a good book, along with a coffee café because a cup of coffee and an entrancing tome go hand in hand.

Walk into a bookstore and breathe in history, romance, war, magic, mysticism, drama, comedy, literature, art, film, poetry, reference and more. I did earlier today when I entered the Barnes & Noble in Westlake Village. It was Sunday morning, and this bookstore on this day was my cathedral, my place of worship.

I worshipped to the tune of nearly $150, and I thank god that such a place exists for addicts like me to get a fix.

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live out loud

The great first paragraphs from "The Memory Keeper's Daughter"

by Lorin Michel Monday, July 11, 2011 10:16 PM

“The snow started to fall several hours before her labor began. A few flakes first, in the dull gray late-afternoon sky, and then wind-driven swirls and eddies around the edges of their wide front porch. He stood by her side at the window, watching sharp gusts of snow billow, then swirl and drift to the ground. All around the neighborhood, lights came on, and the naked branches of the trees turned white.

“After dinner he built a fire, venturing out into the weather for wood he had piled against the garage the previous autumn. The air was bright and cold against his face, and the snow in the driveway was already halfway to his knees. He gathered logs, shaking off their soft white caps and carrying them inside. The kindling in the iron grate caught fire immediately, and he sat for a time on the hearth, cross-legged, adding logs and watching the flames leap, blue-edged and hypnotic. Outside, snow continued to fall quietly through the darkness, as bright and thick as static in the cones of light cast by the streetlights. By the time he rose and looked out the window, their car had become a soft white hill on the edge of the street. Already his footprints in the driveway had filled and disappeared.”

 

The great first lines of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, the story of a man who gives one of his newborn twins, born with Down Syndrome, to his nurse for proper disposal. The story begins in 1964, and unravels through several decades. It was Kim Edwards' first novel.

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great first paragraphs

It's all about the story

by Lorin Michel Monday, June 27, 2011 10:22 PM

Did you hear? Tell me what happened. It was about a year ago. Just last week. Once upon a time. It was a dark and stormy night. As creatures of this planet, our lives revolve around a story. We are, ourselves, each a story. As Dickens’ David Copperfield begins so astutely: “To begin my life at the beginning of my life, I record that I was born.” And his story develops from there. We are born into a circumstance, we grow up with family, we fight with siblings, we go to college or out into the work force, and a new story begins, our adult story. Sometimes along the way, there are dramatic plot twists. Someone gets sick, a parent dies, a first love cheats and breaks your heart. Each one of us is a non-fiction story that is at times interesting, occasionally heightened and most often painfully ordinary. That’s why fiction exists.

There are many kinds of stories and story telling and they are all part of the rich, textured, quilted and fraying fabric we call life.

Ever since there were humans, we have been telling each other tales. The caves of ancient dwellers remain illustrated with their stories, of how they hunted and slew their prey; of how they migrated to new caves, men dragging their women by the hair. Native Americans are famous for the stories they told verbally, a tradition that would be passed from generation to generation, nothing ever being written down but rather enhanced by memory and time, becoming ever more colorful, warriors described as increasingly brave.

The ancient Egyptians told stories in the great pyramids using hieroglyphics. The Greeks created gods and goddesses, as did the Romans. When Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth, his followers began the stories that would become legend, many of them ending up in the number-one selling short story book of all time: The bible.

“In the beginning…”

Once man (and woman) began to actually write things down, more stories began to emerge in forms that people could keep for themselves. Plays were created, along with poetry and sonnets, and exquisite letters penned by nobility. Novels were written and great literature was born. Journalists and anarchists alike wrote stories of what was happening in the world, often painting a picture of a place readers would never see except in their minds. That’s what the greatest stories did and still do: transport the reader to another place, often another time, into a different world other than the world in which they currently reside. David Carr, a media columnist for the New York Times describes journalism as the space that exists between people.

Songwriters are phenomenal storytellers. They are poets with guitars, pianos and a good beat. Some of the best are still telling stories today. Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer come to mind. Is it possible to listen to a song and not get wrapped up in its particular story?

“The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves; Like a vision she dances across the porch As the radio plays; Roy Orbison singing for the lonely; Hey that’s me and I want you only; Don’t turn me home again I just can’t face myself alone again.”

Photographers tell a story on film as do filmmakers. These stories, told visually, are the new version of cave paintings and hieroglyphics.

In the old days, people sat around a fire, telling stories, spinning tales. Sometimes they did this because they couldn’t read or write and the stories only existed in their minds. It’s how children tell stories today. They may not have command of the language yet, in terms of writing something down, but they have exquisite command of their imaginations. Listen to a child as they create a universe that you’ve never visited, where the colors are vibrant, the people are all short and the sky is purple with six moons, where the land is populated by puppies and bears and their job is to save those puppies. Where the bear caves are dark, scary. Where the roars are loud, ear shattering and teeth clattering. These are the stories of children.

They’re about creating a world for them to exist, even temporarily, where they are heroes and heroines, where they can conquer all and save the puppy. Funny how it’s never the kid sister or the parents.

The stories we tell ourselves are similar. We create worlds we want to live in, where we’re stronger than we actually are, capable of dealing with any situation with grace and wit, where we always know the right thing to say and do. I love the idea of the story, the poetry of it, the imagination of each one. I think the space that exists all around us and flows in and out and through us is where our stories reside.

Mine is a work in progress. What’s yours?

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live out loud

May I call you Jimmy?

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, June 15, 2011 7:49 PM

When I was in college, studying Creative Writing and English Literature in order to get my bachelor’s degree at the University of New Hampshire, I did both a lot of writing and a lot of reading, getting lost inside stories that transported me like Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, or journeying back to Shakespearian England to tread the boards and sometimes choking through works that I liked but didn’t love, words that I read but didn’t absorb, like the short stories of James Joyce, the Irish novelist and poet considered one of the most influential and modernist avant-garde writers of the early 20th century, a writer I truly appreciated because I knew I was supposed to but a writer I could never really embrace though I do remember reading and liking – sort of – The Dead, the last short story in his book of short stories entitled Dubliners, about a man named Gabriel who has an epiphany about himself, his wife, their past, the living and the dead, ultimately revealing his smallness and insecurity, an introspective philosophy that I didn’t quite catch at the time because I was only 21 and not yet attuned to the fine art of symbolism as applied to great works of literature and especially as applied by Joyce…

… who would go on to pen one of the novels ranked first by the Modern Library on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, Ulysses, a book that both paid homage to Homer’s Odyssey – Ulysses is the Latin name for Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s book – and turned it completely on its head with Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness technique (the last episode or chapter is comprised of run-on sentences that employ little to no punctuation), unique structuring, experimental prose, puns, parodies, allusions, humor and obscenities that actually put the book on trial, but which I have never read even though I’ve tried because it’s just too obscure, though I have to admit that his stream of consciousness idea is one that intrigues me as both a writer and a story teller and I’m seriously considering picking the book up again one of these days, after I plow through some of the other piles of books that I haven’t read but want to, to finally read a book that’s actually one of those books that achieves greatness without actually being a great book, a category I suspect many books from the 19th and 20th century fall into, but no matter;

I will open the book about Leopold Bloom and read about his ordinary Dublin day, taking place on the 16th of June 1904, a date that is celebrated annually as Bloomday on the streets of Dublin, Ireland where James Joyce penned his most famous work and all of his works, and where one day I hope to visit, but not until I read that damned book so that I can fully appreciate and participate in this most literary of celebrations even as tonight I trying something a little different as part of my own celebration of James Joyce and that’s the run-on sentence because if you’re still reading, which I sincerely hope you are, you may have realized that this entire post is one, long, drawling, ridiculous sentence: a true celebration of language, grammar and punctuation because even with this whole thing being one sentence, Microsoft Word has not seen fit to underline it in green to tell me that it’s wrong. 

Rainy days and Mondays

by Lorin Michel Monday, June 6, 2011 10:12 PM

There is an old Irish blessing that says: “May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all your heart might desire.” This morning dawned gray, with a gentle rain slapping lazily through the trees and trickling from the roof into the gutter outside our open bedroom door. The birds still sung and the day, a little darker than usual, arrived at the same time. As I lay there in bed, listening, I thought two things: It’s Monday and it’s raining. My husband and dog were near, and yet I wondered if I should feel blue.

I decided I didn’t need to. Mondays are just a day and a way to welcome the week. Yes, it means work for many, but work is good. It means interaction and communication, challenges and solutions. I love to work, love to write, so much so that it’s usually not work for me though some days it is. On those days, I’d rather read something someone else wrote.

And the rain. Oh, how I love the rain. I didn’t used to. It depressed me when I was younger and lived in a part of the country where rain falls all year long.

“What I’ve got they used to call the blues. Nothing is really wrong, Feeling like I don’t belong.”

I’d wake up to the sound of rain and the knowledge that everything and everyone was wet, and my mood would be set. These days the rain cheers me. I love the cleansing of it, the feel of it, to run and walk in it, to smell it. Here in the desert where it doesn’t rain often, the ground is dry and cracked, the earth gasping for a drink, and when rain falls, the smell of dust turning to dirt turning to mud is wondrous. It’s like the planet is coming alive.

I love the sound, the fact that I can almost taste it. This morning, I rolled over and felt the nearness of my husband, the heat from his body even though we weren’t touching. I listened to the rain and my dog breathing out through the screen door, out into the morning.

“Funny but it seems I always wind up here with you, Nice to know somebody loves me.”

In ancient mythologies, rain and thunder gods were more prominent than sun-gods. The rain dances of the Native American Indians used drums and rattles to imitate thunder and falling rain. Rain’s purpose then was to replenish the earth, to make it fertile. It’s the same today.

“Funny but it seems that it’s the only thing to do, Run and find the one who loves me.”

When it rains, I fall in love. With the weather, with Monday, with my dog and especially with my husband. Nothing to do for awhile, Rainy Days and Mondays always make me smile.

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May you always have work for your hands to do.

May your pockets hold always a coin or two.

May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.

May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

Irish Blessing

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The great first paragraphs from "The Magus"

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, May 10, 2011 2:29 PM

"I was born in 1927, the only child of middle-class parents, both English, and themselves born in the grotesquely elongated shadow, which they never rose sufficiently above history to leave, of that monstrous dwarf Queen Victoria. I was sent to a public school, I wasted two years doing my national service, I went to Oxford; and there I began to discover I was not the person I wanted to be.

"I had long before made the discovery that I lacked the parents and ancestors I needed. My father was, through being the right age at the right time rather than through any great professional talent, a brigadier; and my mother was the very model of a would-be major-general’s wife. That is, she never argued with him and always behaved as if he were listening in the next room, even when he was thousands of miles away. I saw very little of my father during the war, and in his long absences I used to build up a more or less immaculate conception of him, which he generally – a bad but appropriate pun – shattered within the first forty-eight hours of his leave."


The opening lines from The Magus by John Fowles, published in 1966 but begun in the 1950s. It’s a fascinating story of physiological illusions that can and do become increasingly dark and serious.

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great first paragraphs

Joyce

by Lorin Michel Sunday, May 8, 2011 3:07 PM

It was a Friday. Lou Gherig retired from baseball. President Roosevelt delivered a radio address about tyranny. The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds, 6 to 4, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Congress declared the date a federal holiday meaning banks, the post office, and all government organizations would henceforth be closed should the day fall on a Monday thru Friday.

It was warm, not much of a breeze. The air was thick with the smell and feel of the steel mills. The three rivers – Youghiogheny, Monongahela and Ohio – rushed together, and birds darted amongst traffic and trains. Later that night there would be fireworks alighting the darkness. It was the 4th of July, 1941. The day Joyce Beverly Harrison, my mother, was born.

Mom, age 3

Of course it would be another twenty and a half years before she became my mother. In the interim, she lost her father, a turret gunner on a B-17 flying fortress bomber who was shot down over Europe in 1944, she was shuffled between her own mother and her father's family, and grew up in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. She went through high school, was home coming queen, had boyfriends, learned to drive, and was a normal, rebellious teenager. At 18 she was able to go to college because of benefits paid to the children of men killed in WWII. She chose Edinboro State, also in Pennsylvania, where she met my dad. And then along came me. She celebrated her first Mother's day in 1962.

The first days honoring motherhood can be traced to the Egyptian goddess Isis who was the mother of the pharaohs. The Romans celebrated the Phrygian goddess Cybele, or Magna Mater. Mother Earth. Cybele was descended from the Greek goddess Rhea, mother of Zeus. Europe honored motherhood through the church, hence the term “Mother Church.” It wasn’t until the 1600s that real mothers were brought into the celebration by the British. They called it Mothering Day.

Mom and I, then

Julia Ward Howe, who penned the Battle Hymn of the Republic, made a mother’s day proclamation in 1870 when she called on all mothers to protest the death and carnage seen on the battlefields of the Civil War. She even proposed converting July 4th to Mother’s day. Howe’s cause was taken up by Anna Jarvis in 1908, and in 1912, West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother’s day as a national holiday. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson officially signed it into observance, declaring the second Sunday in May as the official Mother’s day each year.

Today is the second Sunday in May, and I’m celebrating my own mother’s day. Justin called from Tucson where he’s in finals hell and we talked for a while. Maguire swished his tail when he saw me this morning, then yawned, and Kevin brought me pre-breakfast in bed: cantaloupe and coffee. I’ve wished my sister a happy day, which she’s spending with her two kids.

But I’m also celebrating my mother as I do every year. I celebrate her humor and her amazing way of inflicting guilt, and of being right when she did it. I celebrate her teaching me how to fold towels and set a nice table, of how to wear just enough makeup, of being OK with who I am but of still striving to always be a better person, a better writer. I celebrate painstakingly made Halloween costumes and Christmas ornaments, vacations in Maine and movies; drives in the Mustang with the top down. I celebrate her spaghetti sauce because that's what we called it; not pasta sauce. I celebrate birthday cakes in the shape of whatever character was popular. I celebrate tears shed when I did something stupid as well as when I did something smart, like graduate from high school and then from college. I celebrate her independence and her voice and her smile.

On this Mother's day, I celebrate Joyce Beverly Harrison, now Joyce Harrison Shields. Jo, as my husband calls her; GmaJ, as Justin calls her. Mom, as I call her.

A happy day to you, mom. I love you.

Mom and I at my wedding, 1998

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friendly celebrations

The great first paragraph from "The Prince of Tides"

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 30, 2011 11:36 AM

“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.

“I grew up slowly beside the tides and marshes of Colleton; my arms tawny and strong from working long days on the shrimp boat in the blazing South Carolina heat. Because I was a Wingo, I worked as soon as I could walk; I could pick a blue crab clean when I was five. I had killed my first deer by the age of seven, and at nine was regularly putting meat on my family’s table. I was born and raised on a Carolina sea island and I carried the sunshine of the low-country, inked in dark gold, on my back and shoulders. As a boy I was happy about the channels, navigating a small boat between sandbars with their quiet nation of oysters exposed on the brown flats at the low watermark. I knew every shrimper by name, and they knew me and sounded their horns when they passed me fishing in the river.”

 

The opening lines from The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, one of the most exquisitely written books I’ve ever devoured. It is truly haunting in its prose.

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great first paragraphs

Son rise

by Lorin Michel Thursday, April 21, 2011 10:57 PM

He came into my life when he was four, and nothing has been the same since. All red hair and huge glasses, big ears and a lopsided, crooked-toothed smile. I was hooked from the beginning when he gazed at me, mostly uninterested, from a car seat in the front seat of his father’s gray Mitsubishi pickup truck. He weighed less than 35 pounds, and he was still in pre-school.

We eyed each other warily, both loving the man whom we shared, and not quite knowing how we would fit. I decided early on that I would simply let the relationship develop; at his young age, he evidently decided the same. We became good friends after that, and eventually became mother and son. Justin Thomas Michel and Lorin Michel.

He visited for years, once every four or five weeks, flying by himself for the weekend. He started asking to live in California when he was nine. He finally made it before he started high school. And then the real fun started. We had many issues, both normal and extreme, but we got through them with love and anger, hurt and healing. Now he’s 20 and a sophomore in college, studying to be a lighting designer for theater. I’m as proud as any mother could be.

When he first came to live with us, he was elated and yet had horrible emotional problems, largely due to issues with his biological mother. He also had some school issues. He wasn’t stupid; just the opposite. But the quality of his education prior to moving to Oak Park and the quality of the parental contribution, was lacking. As smart as he was, his grasp of things as simple as grammar was severely lacking. Sentences started with “Well, here’s sorta what I know,” and included abbreviations like U for you and 2 for to, too and two. As a writer, it drove me crazy. We worked and worked and worked.

Soon, he graduated from high school and started college. Today, he sent me a paper to look at. It’s due on Monday and it starts: “The world of automated lighting has quickly taken over many facets of the entertainment lighting world. Automated or intelligent lighting fixtures are everywhere, from high school to world music tours, from China’s Olympics to the University of Arizona musicals.”

Not a texting abbreviation in sight.

When he came home at Christmas, he pulled into the driveway late and sauntered into the house, all low-slung jeans and waffle knit long-sleeve tee. He needed a shave and a haircut, his auburn hair curling just at his collar; his glasses sliding down his nose. We gave him a bit of wine, he’s getting into wine, and listened as he told us about lighting. He might as well have been speaking Japanese; we didn’t understand it at all. But it was incredible, inspiring, amazing. Kevin and I were so proud. He knew things we would never know or understand. He was grown up, nearly grown and his entire life was stretching in front of him. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.

We met 16 years ago. I’m his (step)mother, he’s my (step)son, but he couldn’t be more mine had I given birth to him. I suspect he feels the same. For all the angst and irritation, the challenges and successes, we’ve come through it. My kid, his mom. Our dad/husband. And dog.

Life stretches ahead. Behind us the issues have set, but on the horizon I see the sun rising. And it is bright and wonderful and amazing. 

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