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Alethea and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Magical Day

SunflowerThis is the thing I’ve been putting off…the thing that I must write before my brain can move on to the rest of my incredibly aggressive to-do list. I haven’t wanted to…heck, I haven’t wanted to do much of anything. We’ve all been stumbling around the house, grief-sick and exhausted, like there are weights on every limb of our bodies we just can’t shift. Spending this time with my big sister in Vermont at the birth of Fall has been a balm for both of us, allowing us to postpone our lives in all their inevitableness.

I’ve been writing this story in my head for the last eleven days, waiting for the universe to give me the strength–or the circumstances–to make the words real. Gods know I don’t want the rest of it to be.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014
Josh’s Funeral
(
Also Known As: Alethea and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Magical Day)

I knew I was crazy. I had made the conscious decision to err on the side of insanity the minute I announced my intention to perform Josh’s eulogy. Dad worried the most on behalf of my mental state: having previously attempted to deliver the eulogy at his beloved Uncle Arch’s funeral many years ago, my father–the charismatic public speaker like whom I aspire to be–broke down so hard he was almost unable to speak.

Be it laughter or tears, we Kontises are an emotional bunch, it is no secret. But I had received the call about Josh roughly ten minutes before my hour-long panel with Sherrilyn Kenyon at Dragon Con. I cried right up until I stepped onto that stage, at which point I switched into Performance Mode and the show went on until the dealers room closed that night. If I could do that, then surely I could deliver a simple eulogy, right? Right?

It was the thought of Josh that fueled my stubborn inspiration–Josh and my sister Cherie, his mother. I needed to do this for them. Josh wasn’t quite twenty-four when Memere died last winter. He felt her death strongly–we all did–but Josh was always more sensitive when it came to the passing of a loved one. Even still, there had been much laughter in that funeral home, in no small part due to Josh. That’s just what our family does. We remember and celebrate each other.

Soteria and I wore tiaras to Memere’s funeral. I performed both readings at the church in a floor-length gold duster and stripey socks, with a purple silk flower in my hair. Josh had wholeheartedly approved, and shared Soteria’s hidden flask in our grandmother’s honor.

Mom walked in on me applying my face paint the morning of Josh’s funeral. She took a long look at my corset, glitter, silk flowers and tiara. “Good,” she said. “I’m glad you’re doing that.”

Memere would have understood my not being able to give her eulogy. She would have been totally okay with Dad and I leaving that job to the priest. But having been through that, I knew I couldn’t leave Josh’s farewell to some Catholic guy who–let’s face it–didn’t know anything about Josh at all.

Josh’s eulogy had to be irreverent. Blasphemous. Funny. It had to be delivered by a glittering fairy princess whose faith was born more of incense and candlelight than consecration and confession. Something in that ceremony needed to be about Josh, not Jesus. I needed that. My sisters and brother needed that. I was presumptuous enough to assume this same desire was shared by all whom Josh left behind.

“Are we going to laugh or cry?” Mom asked when I finished writing my essay.
“Both,” I said. “But I’m prepared for anything. I’m prepared for nothing at all. If I can get even one laugh out of this, I’ll consider it a success.”
“Be careful,” Dad counseled. “Making people laugh at a funeral is virtually impossible.”

I didn’t sleep much the night before. None of us did. We hadn’t slept well since the news. In the very early morning of August 31, Josh had come home from a raucous night out with the boys, gone to sleep, and never woken up.

I checked the Sleep Tracker app on my phone: I’d had a raucous night, too, as one does at Dragon Con. I didn’t go to bed until after 3am. By all accounts, Josh had been asleep by 2:30. That night, I outpartied my nephew.

I’m not sure any of us will sleep well again.

I may have forced myself to take a couple bites of protein bar that morning…maybe not…I don’t remember. What I do remember is looking at the clock. Five hours, and this will all be over. Three hours, and this will all be over. One hour, and this will all be over.

Performance anxiety kept the emotions at bay. The eulogy came first in the service, which was tough. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to keep it together afterward. It’s not like I had done this before. Also, I had a limit of five minutes. The priest had been adamant. He pulled me aside to remind me of this before the service, and I’d showed him the pages. My essay was a little over 600 words. In my experience that translated to four and a half minutes at most, undoubtedly less…barring a total emotional breakdown.

“It’s not up to me,” he said, “this is mandated by the diocese.”

On the plane from Florida the night before, I’d had a waking-dream about Josh’s other grandmother who passed away in 2010. My family is lousy with fortune tellers and vision dreamers–I am not one of them. I don’t dream of dead people; they leave me and my psycho psyche alone (maybe because they know I’d blog about it). I knew Sito was gone, but in my airplane-meditative state I suddenly looked forward to seeing her at her house after the funeral. She found me in the front room full of knick-knacks, most of which I’d helped unpack when the Jarvis family had moved in. She wore a yellow and orange flowered muumuu (though royal blue was her usual color). This larger-than-life force of nature opened her arms and hugged me and told me that the eulogy was perfect.

So I listened to this stern priest tell me these Rules of the Catholic Church, but inside I was thinking, “If Lucille Jarvis gave her blessing to this eulogy, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to stop it now, dude.”

Besides, Victoria had already promised to body-check the priest if he so much as looked like he was approaching the pulpit before I was finished.

Finally, the church bells chimed eleven. Four of Josh’s friends carried the ark containing the urn, and we followed behind. I slid in on the end of the second-row pew, behind Cherie and Billy (my brother-in-law) and next to Victoria and Danny (Billy’s brother). I tried not to crush my giant Monsters Inc box of tissues beneath my trembling fingers. After an incredibly short amount of time, the priest called my name and invited me up to deliver the eulogy.

I stood up and stepped forward, though I had no idea where to go. I paused, and the priest indicated a podium way behind the altar, almost in the back of the church, so far away from my family that I could barely see them. Certainly I wouldn’t be able to hear them. But as long as they heard me, I supposed it didn’t matter. I set my box of tissues on the podium and unfolded my essay, now covered with colorful editorial scribbles.

“Hello,” I said into the microphone, because you always say something inane into the microphone to make sure it’s working. It was working.

“I was going to start by asking forgiveness for this,” I said, indicating the crucifix hanging above the altar between me and the other mourners. “I figure this is the best place to do that. So here goes. The title of my essay is, ‘Dammit, Josh.'”

If anyone chuckled at the title, I didn’t hear them. It was okay. I went on. There might have been a sound after the line about Billy picking his nose…but if not, that was okay, too. I went on. I spoke slowly and carefully, constantly shutting down my emotions so that I could concentrate on every word. And when I got to “…a Nashville strip club…” the entire church burst out laughing. I know, because I heard them, all the way in the back.

Score.

I almost lost it before the last paragraph, but that worked too. I pointed up to the ceiling and said, “Dammit, Josh,” then took a deep breath and delivered my last lines without so much as a hitch. Sito had been right. It was perfect.

The hardest part was the silence. There is no clapping or cheering at a funeral. I stood there for a moment, almost wishing the priest had been on hand to escort me from the podium. But it was just me up there. I had put myself on that stage; I could exit the same way. I let my hand brush the wood of the ark before sinking back down into the corner of my designated pew.

If I met Cherie’s eyes, I don’t remember it. I may have touched Billy’s shoulder…I don’t really remember that either. No one hugged me or said anything, which was good. I stared at the top of my tissue box, frozen in time, careful to let nothing damage my calm while I built my emotional guard back up. And then Danny reached out to squeeze my hand.

We did not look at each other. We didn’t need to. My sister and Danny’s brother had been together most of our natural lives–I was five and Danny was seven when Cherie and Billy tied the knot thirty-three years ago. We might not have stayed super-close over the years, but that didn’t change the fact that we’d known each other forever. Right then, I needed that hand–that connection with my family–no more, and no less. Danny let go, and I went back to clutching my tissue box for the remainder of the ceremony.

I performed a reading after that as well. I stumbled over a word. Didn’t matter which one.

If I cried again, I don’t remember it.

I performed the requisite Catholic calisthenics–sitting, standing, kneeling, standing, sitting–and didn’t touch another person until the “Peace be with you” bit. (I may have been raised Greek Orthodox, but I attended mass with Memere enough times to remember the basics.) I hugged Cherie and Billy, Danny and Victoria, my brother West.

When I faced forward again, I saw that the priest had come to shake hands with Alana (my niece, Josh’s sister), Cherie and Billy. To each of them he said, “Peace be with you.” Then he met my eyes, sort of pointed and waggled his finger, said nothing, and turned away.

Alana and I looked at each other with wide eyes. What was that? Cherie said later that he’d done the same thing to Diane–Danny and Billy’s sister–because she had also performed a reading. Alana and I got a different vibe entirely–more of a cross between a scolding and a futile prayer for my immortal soul. I was both amused by and totally fine with that.

The priest lit incense and walked around the ark and urn. Still no tears. I remember going through dozens of tissues during Memere’s funeral–shouldn’t I have been bawling right now? I just didn’t feel like it. In fact, I mostly felt like laughing my butt off. Josh would have found so much of this whole thing ridiculous.

When the priest spoke of angels meeting Josh and escorting him to heaven, I thought, “I at least hope they look like Victoria’s Secret angels.” I bit my lips together and swallowed hard to prevent that particular round of church giggles.

And then it was over. I filed out behind everyone else–all these people arm in arm with someone to cling to. I took a quick step forward and took Caleb’s elbow. Poor Caleb…almost sixteen and having to go through all of this. He’d lived with Josh most of his life–Josh had only left home a few months ago for this new job in Tennessee. I snuggled into Caleb’s shoulder, thoroughly covering his black suit in glitter.

Victoria helped out with that, too.

We all went back to Sito’s house on Lake Champlain–we kids called it “camp” back before there was a huge house there–where Billy’s Lebanese family laid out quite a spread, including kibbeh (both cooked and raw) and spanakopita, provided by our godfather Nectar.

Mom and Dad and I had transported a bunch of the flowers in our rental car, and some friends helped us carry them into the house. As I moved to shut the trunk, I noticed that a white rosebud had fallen out of an arrangement–the stem was short enough, so I stuck it into my hair amidst the silk petals there. I have no idea what it looked like. I didn’t care.

I didn’t eat anything. I didn’t speak much more. I just felt sort of floaty and numb. I went into the backyard and sat in a chair by the water, looking out over the lake where I’d spent so many of my summers. Summers before Josh. People came by to thank me for the eulogy. Lots of people.

I sat there until it started raining, then moved inside and hid in corners where I didn’t have to talk. I found a good spot in the kitchen–good until the trash needed to be emptied and the drawer behind me ransacked for a spatula with which to serve the cake. At that point, Danny led me out to the garage, where his brothers and father escorted departing guests to their cars beneath borrowed umbrellas. The fresh air was nice. The not talking was better.

Somehow, I made it back into the kitchen, sitting at the table where my little sister ate her way through an entire bowl of movie popcorn and Mom sipped at her contraband tequila. “Are your friends in that band still playing today?” Mom asked. “You should go. Take Caleb and Cole. I bet they’d love to go with you.”

See…the universe does this thing to me where horrible things happen in the best way possible. When I got the call about Josh there was still another day of Dragon Con left, but it was my last day of scheduled panels. Mom didn’t want me driving home to Florida through the night, but that was okay too. I was surrounded by friends, some of whom had been holding me together since Christmas, when the universe started using me as a punching bag and significant pieces of my life had begun flying apart. I was in a cocoon of unconditional love, and free to leave first thing in the morning.

My little sister, as it happens, was just finishing up a job in New York. Instead of flying back to Charleston, I told her to just go straight to Burlington–she’d end up having to connect through New York anyway, in the long run. Our brother West just so happened to be visiting my parents for Labor Day weekend, so none of them were alone when they got the news. Mom, Dad, West and I caught a flight to Burlington–a straight shot from the little airport in Sanford–and arrived just in time for the visitation.

On top of all that, I had checked to see if my friends in the Adam Ezra Group were playing in the area that weekend. I hadn’t seen them since my birthday–crazy, brief, traumatic event that it was–and they rarely played in Florida. After the move, I wondered if I would ever see them again.

Not only were the Adam Ezra Group playing in New England that weekend, they were playing in Burlington…the afternoon of the funeral…at a festival open to all ages…in a park that was literally down the street from the house on the lake.

I had bought two tickets, but I wasn’t sure I should go…or that anyone would want to come with me. Mom made that decision for me. She rounded up Caleb and Cole and West, and we all went to the concert in the rain.

Is the concert still on? I texted to Adam.
yup! Very wet. u doing ok?
I’m coming to see you. Bringing my brother & nephews.

It took us forever to find a parking space, but we managed it. We walked around the fence to the covered table set up for ticket sales–I felt terrible for the organizers and the poor girls volunteering at this cold, wet table. The Spreading Light festival has its roots in mental health and suicide awareness, a cause about which I feel especially strong, and this weather was tanking their attendance.

My fingers shook as I dug through my tiny little purse searching for the ticket receipt–I kept pulling out the eulogy and the reading. The tent was dripping rain down my back and I was completely soaked, not that I felt much of anything. Finally, I yanked everything out of the purse and set it on the table. “Sorry,” I told the girls. “We just came from a funeral. The receipt is in here somewhere. I’m just a little out of it.” They sweetly expressed their condolences as I handed over the receipt and paid for Caleb and Cole. They offered us all trash bags as makeshift ponchos.

The boys took the “ponchos” and left me the umbrella. The four of us made quite the spectacle as I passed out wristbands and helped the boys fashion their trash bags into suitable concert wear. In the end, everyone was laughing. That’s just what our family does.

We walked out onto the grass before the band shell–the opening band was still playing. I handed the umbrella to Caleb and asked the boys to wait a moment…then I walked over to where Turtle was talking to some people beneath another umbrella. I quietly stood before him with a smile until he noticed me.

“Oh my god,” he said, “you’re here.” And he swept me up into a giant bear hug.

That.
That is when I cried.

I introduced Turtle to the boys…and then Corinna…and then Josh Gold, who each found me to share love and hugs. I kept an eye out for Adam, but I knew their set would be starting soon, so I didn’t really expect to see him. There would be time enough afterward. West and Cole and Caleb and I took our places in the rainy grass, front and center.

There was a tap on my shoulder. “Excuse me,” said the girl from the ticket table. “We wanted to give you this because we know you’re having a hard day.” She handed me a beautiful sunflower. I thanked her graciously and threaded it through my purse loop so it wouldn’t get smashed. Adam launched into the first song and I started the set with a smile.

I did cry again, though, a couple of times. The first was during the spoken word portion of “Burn Brightly,” which Adam alters to fit each performance, so the song is always unique. He said a lot of kind words about the Spreading Light festival, and all the Vermonters out in the audience dancing barefoot in the rain, and when he spoke about illness and suicide and the loved ones we’ve lost…well, yeah, I lost it a little bit.

I covered my mouth with my hand–Corinna and I had been smiling at each other most of the set, and I didn’t want her to see me break down while she was performing. One of the dancers saw me, though, a barefoot woman with short hair and a bright green shirt.

“Can I give you a hug?” she asked. I opened my arms.
“Thank you,” I said into her hair, and then she went back to dancing.
I looked up to see Corinna smiling brightly at me again…and I smiled back.

The second time I cried was when Adam dedicated a song to us. Adam’s dedicated a lot of songs to me in the years we’ve known each other. It’s never the same thing–at Dragon Con last year it was “Half a Hero.” On my birthday it was “Taking Off.” This time it was “The Toast.”

And this time, I wasn’t the only one crying.

None of the band had ever met my nephew, but they could not have played a more perfect song to his memory. I hugged Caleb and wept, but I knew it was okay. I saw Cole wipe his eyes and West blow his nose. What I didn’t realize at the time was that West had recorded the whole song on his mp3 player. He played it back for Cherie the next morning at breakfast and I cried all over again. West said that when the song ended, two seagulls came soaring over the band shell and executed a crossover maneuver worthy of the Blue Angels. I’m sorry I missed it…but I’m glad he didn’t.

Directly after “The Toast,” the band played a censored version of “The Devil Came Up to Boston,” which had everyone laughing again. I love that song. Josh would have loved it, too.

It was a long set, which made me happy–I only hoped my boys were enjoying it as well. It had stopped raining, and we had all dried up considerably, but they’d had the same long day I had. Asking them to stand up for two hours in the cold to listen to a band they’d never heard of before…for some people, that would have been asking too much.

A silly thought, in hindsight. The people who love me are extraordinary, so much more than “some people.”

As they’ve done in the past, Adam and the rest of the band came out of the band shell to play the last two songs on the grass with us, acoustic style. They did this in DC, the first time I ever saw them, and they bowled me over by playing a cover of John Denver’s “Country Roads.” They played that song again, here, for the finale, and invited everyone on the grass to sing along. Caleb and Cole were too young to know the words, but West and I sang right along with the crowd.

I’ve been to a lot of Adam Ezra concerts. This crowd had the best singers I’ve ever heard. We were a choir of strangers, repeatedly petitioning the heavens to take us home, to the place we belonged.

I stood right beside Adam during the acoustic set. He didn’t look at me and I didn’t approach him–he was in Performance Mode, and I was not about to burst that bubble. Whether or not he heard me singing, he knew I was there.

After the last address to the crowd, after the last thank you, the moment the set was officially over and done with, Adam looked right at me…and winked.

Adam and the band then headed directly to the merchandise table. I turned back to my boys, cautiously awaiting their reaction.

“That was way better than church,” said Cole.

Love that kid. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

West was blown away as well and gratefully so–his last concert experience had been with Josh. And as it turned out, this show was Caleb’s first concert ever. Talk about the Cool Aunt Award. I promised that I would buy them all CDs and took them up to the merchandise table (once the substantial line had died down a bit) to meet the band all over again. I shamelessly collected another round of hugs…including my long-awaited promised one from Adam.

I stood patiently until Adam bid a new fan farewell, and then I jumped into his arms. I don’t remember what it was he said then, but I remember that it made me laugh out loud.

“Figures,” I said. “Hugging Turtle makes me cry, and you make me laugh.”

But then, that’s just what our family does.

There was no one left at the house on Lake Champlain by the time we returned, so Cole drove us all back to Morrisville. We talked about the band and told lots of stories. Cole popped his new CD into the player. I sat back in the seat and looked at my sunflower, still beautiful and unsmashed, and I thought about just how frightful and amazing this day had been. I remembered the rosebud in my hair–undoubtedly limp and wilted now–and I reached up to pull it out. Turns out, it wasn’t dead at all.

It had bloomed.

Despite the cold and the rain and everything else, it had bloomed.

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Princess Alethea and the Power of Words

As promised, here is the small speech I gave at the World Book Night Givers Reception last night at Gum Springs Library. xox

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WBN Loves Cover“Words have power.” This phrase was said by Mama Woodcutter to her youngest daughter Sunday, in my novel Enchanted.

Words have power. We all know this to be true…of course, in my book, I took it literally (no spoilers for those who haven’t read it!).

Words have power. Enchanted contains around 74,000 of them. I’d say that’s a decent amount of power.

If words could be converted into kilowatts, this library could light up the city. But when I say “power” in this context I don’t mean electrical…I mean MAGIC.

And, as I always say, Magic is best when shared.

It was my father who first shared this magic with me, reading to me every night when I was a baby. When I was three, Mom realized that *I* was the one reading, while Dad snored peacefully away on the bed beside me.

THAT’S how powerful words are to me. I never remember learning how to read. It’s like I just knew. To me, words have always been magic.

From that point on, books were my life. They were my favorite things in the world. I was not shy about telling people this, so I always got books as gifts from my family. Some kids get turtles or unicorns or teddy bears–I got books.

I still have the ones that were inscribed to me by my grandmothers and my aunt. Thanks to a plethora of Library Book Sales, I even have a bunch of books inscribed to other people. I love those just as much, even though I never knew the givers or the recipients. It simply adds history to the character of the book itself, giving it a place and a time, a purpose, and a life.

Tomorrow night, World Book Night Givers will be giving life to half a million books all across the United States.

That’s some pretty powerful magic, if I do say so myself.

And what better way to share the magic of reading? It’s so wonderful when a friend puts a book into my hand and says, “You must read this!” There are billions of books out there, but that one made it through the slush pile and was vetted by my very own personal pre-reader. What more could I ask for?

I remember those moments–powerful, strong memories. I remember when the local bookseller handed me the hardcover of Robin McKinley’s Deerskin and told me I was going to love it. I had just graduated high school. Almost a decade later, my co-worker Kitti walked into my cubicle and forced a book into my hands, making me SWEAR I would read it. That book was A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Of course, I am TOTALLY guilty of pushing books off on other people as well. There are books I look for at book sales for the sole purpose of hoarding multiple copies to force upon my friends at will. Some of those titles have been: William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Orson Scott Card’s novelization of The Abyss, and The Monster at the End of This Book, starring Grover. (Still one of the best baby shower gifts of all time!)

Givers, tomorrow night, you will be making these memories. You will be the one who means something to someone so powerfully that they will remember it for the rest of their lives. It may not be the same with every person you hand that book to, but at least one book in that box you’re taking home with you tonight is going to make a difference. And that is a powerful thing.

Because words have power. Words are magic. And magic is best when shared.

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Today Is My Birthday!

I rang in my birthday with the Adam Ezra Group serenading me in full Rocking Style, with glitter on my face and a tiara on my head. I slept in, all cuddled up to my warm giant, who took me out for a breakfast gyro before I got in the car (blech) and drove back to Baltimore to pick up my parents from the airport.

Now I’m back at Aunt Theda & Uncle Dave’s (YOU KNOW THEY MISSED ME). I’ve had an epic present-opening session, and now Dad and I are being treated to a fabulously posh dinner.

The weather may be dismal here, and I may be missing my Fairy Godfamily something mightily..but all in all, it’s been a pretty darn magic day.

Love you all! xox

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Rainbow Sun

I meant to post this the other day, when I accompanied FGB into DC to help him with some work. I was looking out the window for a street sign and the sky took my breath away. There was a full, perfect rainbow all around the sun.

Rainbow Sun

I thought this a fitting magical image with which to wish my father a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY today!

Love you, Dad. xox

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ENCHANTED Book Signing Pics (Dulles)

Some GREAT pics from the book signing last night, courtesy of my fellow mermaid and lovely assistant, Carlene Love Flores (and super-salesman, Aidan)! There were bubbles and little girls and fairy wands galore! Check out the rest of the album here.

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Nominate Me! 2011

I published a few short stories this year. Not many, but a few. Really good ones, too.

But as promised, I am only touting one story that I would like to have nominated for awards in 2012. This is The Best Story I Have Ever Written. It has a special place in my heart, and I hope that one day it will find a special place in yours…and your children’s…and your children’s children.

If you have not read it already, “The Unicorn Hunter” is still available online here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/70431258/The-Unicorn-Hunter

Happy Holidays, and Happy Reading! xox

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I Made This

Everytime I see those words, I hear Chris Carter’s Ten Thirteen production company credits from the end of The X-Files in my head. (Geek tidbit: The boy’s voice belongs to Nathan Couturier, the son of the show’s supervising sound editor, Thierry Couturier.)

I make stuff up for a living. It’s what I do. I’m told I’m fairy good at it. I think I could be better. I work harder. Sometimes, it works so well, it’s creepy.

Sometimes, I make things up, and they turn out to be real.

I probably wouldn’t have ever known it if I didn’t live in The Age of Google, but yes, it has happened. The biggest one was the made-up town of Haven, Kansas, in which I set my YA scarecrow-witch story (please, someone, hurry up and buy this manuscript before something else called “Haven” is released, thanks!). After I’d written the entire screenplay (It was originally a screenplay, which made for a great outline), I looked up “Haven” on www.weather.com to see what other towns in the US there were with that name.

There was only one. It was in Kansas. (Yes, I went to visit, and changed my manuscript accordingly.)

Earlier this year (or was it last year?) I started writing a silly ghost story about a haunted pickle (“The Revenge of Cap’n Pickle” — don’t get your hopes up; I never finished it). I used a bunch of friends from high school for character names, and I made up the name of the lake around which this campfire story was priginally told, basing it after the name of my high school, Spring Valley High.

There is a Spring Lake not ten minutes from us here in Northern VA. (I haven’t been there yet.)

So it happens. Life imitates art, and art imitates life. Then art becomes life. Like all the rest of the magic I’m surrounded with — I used to get creeped out about it. I don’t anymore. Now it’s just cool.

Enchanted–you know, that book that used to be called Sunday and is now coming out next May–takes largely from the original Grimm Brothers “Cinderella” tale, most importantly involving the role of the oft-overlooked Two White Pigeons. These pigeons roost in the tree planted on Cindrella’s mother’s grave. They are the ones who threw her the dresses she needed to go to the balls. They are also the ones who cried foul when the prince drove away with each of the stepsisters, who had cut off parts of their feet so that the shoe would fit.

In my story, one of these white pigeons has a spot on its breast that looks like a drop of blood. There is no precedence for this affectation–it is all of my own doing, made to illustrate my main character’s broken heart. There cannot be love without loss.

So you can imagine my estatic cry of holy crapness when I received an email from my dear friend and ex-sk8r grrl Tracy in TN containing pictures of “Beautiful Birds Seldom Ever Seen” and saw this:

They are called “Luzon Bleeding-hearts”, and while they are not solid white (fairy tales are allowed poetic license), they fo have white breasts upon which the red splotch looks EXACTLY HOW I IMAGINED IT WOULD ON MY BIRD.

The Wikipedia entry also tells about claims that the female of this species has purple irises, of which I know Tamora Pierce would be very proud. I love my magical birds.

Do I think it’s possible that the Luzon Bleeding-heart might have made an appearance in the real “Cinderella” fable? Probably not. They are not white pigeons, only partially so. They live in the Philippines, and while the Grimm Brothers wrote of Cinderella in a European setting, it’s also thought that the tale might originally hail from dynastic China, when the binding of feet was seen as fashionable and tiny feet were a mark of exceptional beauty.

Besides…I made them up!

You’re welcome.

xox

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I wish…

We all make wishes. On lots of things. Ariell and I were just discussing this the other day. We came up with an incredibly long list of things — not that we wish FOR, but things we wish ON. It makes me wonder exactly how much time I spend a day wishing on things. Because, of course, I wish on them all.

What I can remember off the top of my head (and things I’m adding as they come in from the site comments, FB, and LJ):
Falling stars
first star
Birthday candles
11:11
four sneezes
eyelashes
Dandelion fluff
Full moon
lucky pennies
wishing wells
fountains
Wishbone
necklace clasps
ladybugs

What else do you wish on? Please put your answer in the comments. I’m curious…

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On a Rainy Sunday

Yes, I certified my Geek Street Cred this weekend and finally learned to play Magic. Late Last night, Alethea Queen of the Elves stomped the table and triumphed in a bloody battle. (I know, I know, Gypsy stacked the deck. But I was learning to play! I also learned that I have slightly more evil tendencies than an all-green deck affords.)

Today it’s cold and rainy outside, as the world gets ready to warm up. Today, we’re teaching Chuck to play.

Later on, I’ll be taking Chuck to rehearsals. It’s the only way I’m going to be able to escape the tournament and get Chapter Eight done.

See, Mom? I’m working. I promise.

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You Learn Something New Every Day

We’re out in the garage earlier — I’ve got my head down on the nice cool picnic table, sucking fresh air in between the puffs on Gypsy’s cigarette, and Gypsy’s explaining to Morgan about what she refers to as her “mosquito deck” of Magic cards. She goes on to say:

“You know, the mosquitos that bite you are only the females. The mosquitos that buzz are only the males. So if you’re in your bedroom in the dark and you hear the little bastard, you have nothing to worry about. But if you feel yourself get bit, you better wake up and kill the [insert nasty word here].”

After doing a bit of research on The Intarwebs, I have discovered that this oft-repeated saying is a myth. Both sexes of mosquito — though each at different frequencies to aid in mating — do, in fact, sound like buzzing to the human ear. Having never heard the myth before, I found it interesting. Having discovered the truth behind it, I know to better arm myself next time at night. In the summer. In the dark. In the swamp. In India. And now you know too.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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