Feminine Form

I wonder if innocence ends faster in this internet world. Every question a young person asks is at their fingertips.

Unlike years ago when you relied on family, friends, and your librarian.

Of course if you were like me, you didn’t know what you needed to ask. I’ve talked before about how my life was spent in the dream story world and how naive I used to be. But sometimes I don’t think people realize just how seriously out of touch with not only the world, but with myself, I actually was. That story world was more real to me than the life around me. I actually don’t know how I functioned, but I must have been one weird kid.

Lisa 5th birthday

I remember a friend telling me how clueless her little sister was about anatomy. She said ‘she didn’t even know women have three holes! I told her one for pee, one for poo, and one for the man and baby!’ I laughed right along with her, shaking my head at her sister’s cluelessness. But inside I remember thinking, a little shocked, three holes? Really?

I was around seventeen at the time.

19th birthday 1979

I remember during one menstrual cycle becoming so frustrated with feminine napkins. (Hope this doesn’t offend or embarrass anyone.) But my cycles were like a whitewater river in full flood. Hit all at once, storm through the channel taking trees and boulders, houses, and cars, and then just as fast, over. We’re talking overnight pads, doubled up. I used to be mortified buying those big boxes wondering what in the world people used those tiny little panty liners for. Were there women who just daintily dripped?

So that day of frustration I called my younger sister. How do you use tampons? Do they work? What happens if they get sucked inside? Do they float their way upward and come out your nose? I was embarrassed because mom raised us to know only certain types of girls used tampons and they were the kind found under football bleachers smoking cigarettes. My sister explained tampons, without laughing. I believe I was married at the time. In my mid-thirties.

Lisa Brazos River Texas

The younger sister and I used to get together and play cards. One time she went off to change diapers on her second, and tossed a new deck of cards in my lap. The backs of the cards were photos of naked men. Wow. So that’s what all the fuss is about. How do they run? Mid-twenties.

You never know how ignorant or oblivious you are until you gain knowledge. So I can’t be blamed for not knowing what to ask. But I can be blamed for not knowing my own body. For being ashamed of the feminine form.

Even back then I was envious of those I perceived as strong women. My sisters; all three of them. One in particular even had the courage to talk back to the parents and have a child without a husband in the 1970s. Where did she find that strength?

Beth 009

When I moved up into the hills, I found four women in particular who have always epitomized courage to me. Sabrina, Kim, Nora, and Cate. No last names to protect their identity in a public forum, but some of you will know them.

These women take on whole mountains. They cuddle alligators (literally; one has a pet alligator, plus a boa). When they go camping it’s not with a truckload of gear and a campground with toilets. It’s backpacks and bushwhacking into high country where there are no trails. It’s hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with an injured knee. It’s rock climbing up a ravine to rescue my dog. One of these women, an avid jogger, hikes into  alpine wilderness alone. Think about that a minute. Alone.

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These women find their way into my stories. I admire and highly respect them and know I’ll never be them.

But how did they get that way? How did they grow up confident and secure in who they are as women? I imagine they knew about those three holes before they were in their twenties. I bet they didn’t entertain co-workers by showing up late one day around age twenty-three, and saying they were late because ‘all these construction workers were jacking off on the side of the highway with no signs or anything!’

Lisa & smoker built for wedding

I wish I’d learned much younger what it means to be woman, not necessarily feminine, but female. And proud and strong with that knowledge, within my skin. Although at the same time I’m not sure I’d have traded my story world for knowledge. Writing is my core.

But hey, I’m learning.

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Shrinking Siblings

There were five of us. Six if you counted the one my brother brought home who never really left. For the most part we got along, and now as adults we’re all close.

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Sisters

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The brother with his nephew

Well, there was that Friday Night Gripe Group. Dad started it because we must have been not getting along. By the second meeting, the youngest sibling was bringing a long list. I think the group got cancelled after about a month. Dad said it had turned into a tattle-tale session. We know who was responsible for that, don’t we?

Cowgirl

A villain even then. I used to pull her socks out the toes of those shoes so she couldn’t walk.

Then there was the time my brother and sister were fighting about something. He couldn’t reach her for revenge because he couldn’t see her. She’d smeared tunafish all over his glasses. But yeah, we got along.

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Look how sweet and innocent that youngest appears.

Oh, wait. That youngest sibling again. The time she threw a rock at me and broke my glasses. She told mom she was just throwing rocks and I accidentally got in the way. And mom believed her!

Mom & us

The gullible mother

Okay, so there was also the time when the youngest sibling fell off her bike and knocked herself out. My brother and I dragged her to a ditch, laid her out with her hands crossed over her chest, and left her. Turned out she had a concussion, but poor mom thought she was dead.

Anyway, I don’t have a long list like some. I did used to wonder though why no one questioned how much time I spent in the bathroom.

I spent a lot of time in that bathroom.

Creating concoctions.

I had a plan. I’d sneak a bowl in there and mix whatever I could find in the medicine cabinet. Each mix was an experiment so I had to try different combinations and different amounts. Crushed baby aspirin, iodine, mercurochrome, calamine lotion, toothpaste. Hydrogen peroxide was very satisfying when everything foamed dramatically.

I almost got caught once. An older sister found the bowl on the back of the toilet. She said it smelled like chocolate and accused me of sneaking food. Ha! If she’d really known, she’d have been terrified. Actually, now that I think about it, she’s probably lucky she didn’t end up with brain damage from sniffing fumes.

Beth, me, Arthur Lake Serene

No brain damage and a great hiking partner

After mixing each concoction, I’d take the bowl outside and smear the foaming mess on rocks. And then wait.

The goal was to create something that would shrink rocks. Because I had a little cage.

You can guess my ultimate evil plan. I was going to shrink the siblings and put them all in the cage.

I’d have my own bedroom. I’d have the freedom of the whole house. I’d have mom and dad’s undivided attention. I wouldn’t have to sneak chocolate into the bathroom.

Holly chocolate frosting face

Ha! Proof! It’s the youngest sibling again – with the chocolate face

If a concoction worked on rocks, it would work on them. I’d paint them at night while they slept. They’d never know what happened until they woke up in that cage.

Unfortunately I could never figure out the magic combination of materials. So instead, we all grew up. Which is a good thing after all because honestly, I love my siblings.

But for that youngest one, I’m compiling a list to send to Santa this year, you stinker.

Lisa Holly Christmas

Peeking At Reviews

Book reviews are weird things and I think most authors have a love/hate relationship with them. They also know the old adage to not read reviews, understanding that not everyone will like their books.

And yet, authors need book reviews. Don’t worry, this isn’t a post pushing you to write a review. Indie-authors in particular need them. The more reviews, the higher the book floats to the top of the visibility pile. It’s vital to have reviews. It’s vital to have people ‘share’ posts rather than just ‘like’ them. All these little things equate to word of mouth advertising, which, as everyone knows, is the best kind.

Warning: I have no idea what kind of photos tie to book reviews, so I’m just inserting whatever catches my eye. Except for the last one that SO relates to peeking.

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Prax – the local banded raven waiting for cats to be fed so he can steal kibble

But here’s the thing. Even though we know not to read reviews, sometimes the temptation is just too much and we peek. Or at least I do. Kind of like peeking in the Christmas stocking before everyone else gets up. Or peeking at the last page of a book to see if the author agrees with you who the bad guy is. Or peeking at the text being typed by the person crammed intimately into the airplane seat next to you.

I just realized peeking is like solving a mystery. And I do love a good mystery.

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Taken from the back door last week. Snow level is dropping.

Anyway, this is my problem on those rare occasions when I peek at a review. It’s one thing when someone writes out a review, but those people who just click on the number of stars and don’t say why can be frustrating.

It has nothing to do with the number of stars. I don’t care if the book got five or one. As long as there’s an explanation, that is. You hate the book? Tell me why, because maybe it’s simply that my book and you weren’t a good match. Or, more importantly, maybe it’s actually something I can learn from.

Those who say nothing and only assign the stars, aren’t giving me the end of their story. They’re not allowing me to peek into their life, to see why, to understand. Sounds selfish, I know.

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Rocci – the kitten someone dumped a couple weeks ago that the husband rescued

That can drive a mystery writer bonkers. Probably all writers. You immediately ask the same questions you asked yourself when you started writing the story. What if…Why…How can I…In other words, there’s a need for dialog.

Let’s talk. Explain it to me. Help me see your view. Allow me to explain. Allow me to show how the words ended up the way they did.

That may sound a bit pathetic but I’m sure you get what I mean. It’s not out of desperation. It’s out of a desire to understand, to interact, to grow. It’s also an excuse to talk writing with people, which is absolutely wonderful.

So if you take time to click on stars, consider taking a few seconds to tell the writer why.

Because even if writers know they shouldn’t read reviews, everyone peeks.

Bath 2

The epitome of peeking. Look how happy I am. I started young.