23 February 2017

My First Collectible

I remember acquiring this little thing when I was probably three or four years old. My mother and I were at some kind of antique or collectible store (for what reason I don’t know as we never shopped at such stores to my recollection) and I was admiring this little porcelain thing. The owner of the shop, entranced that I was such an adorable tike, just gave it to me. I was surprised, but it made sense (seeing how I was adorable).

Not sure what it is, but probably an individual salt cellar, porcelain with gold paint and roses printed on the side. No identifying marks, but it’s at least 50+ years old (based on my age when I got it). I’ve had it in my possession all that time. Can’t tell you what struck me about it originally. I liked the roses or the shiny paint or whatever. No idea. I remember the man was really nice. Seriously, it’s like it just happened day before yesterday.

I’ve collected a lot of neat things in the ensuing five decades but this was the first. This in no way reflects my taste in collectibles, which runs toward mid-century modern. But, there you are!

15 January 2017

Two Years and Counting

Today is two years since the heart surgery that saved my life. I literally had about two weeks to go before a valve would have failed and I would’ve ceased to have heart function. Pretty scary to think about how things might have been. I can't say that brush with death made me rethink my life, to make every minute count, to do the things I always wanted to do. I’m fortunate that I’ve always done what I wanted to do without regard to the disapproving looks from my parents, or the disappointed comments from friends. Fuck 'em, I always thought, and just went ahead and did what I wanted. For me, every minute has always counted. We only get one shot at this life and I wanted to be able to look back and say I always spent each minute the way I wanted, doing what I wanted with MY life.

Of course, in these two years I also found out I had cancer. Oh, well. Shit happens. I’m coping with that the same way I always coped with everything else: do what I want (to the extent my energy -- and kidneys -- hold out) and keep moving forward. Sure, my time on this planet might have been shortened, but I can honestly say there is nothing I ever wanted to do and didn't do. Except maybe visit Tokyo. That's still on the list of things I want to do. Hopefully, that’ll happen. If not, well, I've done all the other 99.75% of things I wanted in my life. I think that's pretty good.

I've made these last two years count just like I made all the previous years count, just like I hope to make the next year or two or three or however many count. Don't wait to do the things you want. Do them now because you might not have an extra two years to do them in.

03 January 2017

Being Nice Has Advantages

In 1992, I was in a pretty bad car accident (see photograph). A commercial truck went through a red light and I plowed into the side of it. I wasn’t hurt much, but the car was. (The police officer told me I was lucky to have been driving such a well-made car, otherwise, the result would have been much worse for me.) Being the sap that I am, I called the owner of the company and asked him not to fire the driver who caused the accident. Even though he wasn’t hurt, I was worried that he would lose his job.

Fast forward several weeks. The insurance representative for the company vehicle was insisting my precious 1977 Mustang II was totaled and offered me $500 to close the case. Insulted? You bet I was. 

Finally fed up with arguing with them, I called the owner of the company for which the other driver worked. I calmly told him I was being treated very unfairly by his insurance company. I explained that my father (of all people) said I should call my insurance agent and say my neck hurts and my back hurts from the accident (none of which was true) to get more money. Shocked, I told my father that people who lie like that are why insurance policies are so expensive. There was no way I would lie. I told the owner all I wanted was my car repaired like it was before the accident. Nothing else.

The owner was very understanding and told me he had to make a call and would call me right back. In about ten minutes, his insurance company called and told me they would pay the several thousand dollars needed to repair my car AND arrange for me a free rental car in the meantime.

I called the owner, shocked at the change of heart from the insurance company. “I have millions of dollars of commercial insurance with that company,” he told me. “I told them to treat you right otherwise I would pull all my policies and go to a company that would.”

It took a long time, but I got my beautiful car back, good as it was (see photograph).

28 December 2016

So Many Forces

A few years ago I noticed that all of my novels feature strong female characters. I never set out intentionally to do this; it’s just something that happened. Personally, I’ve always been attracted to strong women, successful women, smart women. I guess without a sexual attraction to women, that was next in line. I was surprised when I realized this, and wondered what possible influence could have been responsible.

And then Carrie Fisher died.

Of all the horrible things that have happened in 2016 (including my cancer diagnosis) this upset me the most. Why would that be? People die all the time; death is a part of everyone’s life.

Then I started seeing clips from Fisher’s films on the news.

Perhaps the appeal of strong women stems from her portrayal of Princess Leia in “Star Wars” which I saw as a teenager when it premiered in 1977. She was sure plucky, and smart, and strong willed. I’ve always enjoyed the movies of strong female actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Ida Lupino -- but those all came after. It must have been my subconscious working when I began writing my novels featuring strong female characters. 

Whatever the inspiration, I was impressed by Fisher and her performance in “Star Wars” and am very sad that she died so young -- even after living such an adventurous life.