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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Starting Over ~ and Over and Over…

Empire State Building - my hometown symbol.

Empire State Building – my hometown symbol.

ONCE A NEW YAWKER…

A few years ago, I shared the news about the  birth of my first granddaughter on my website.  One reader wrote to me and said I had to move to Florida, that I could not live a thousand miles away from a grandchild. Well…okay.  Maybe I agreed in spirit, but practical reasons prevailed then. Now, however, I know she was right!  Nothing beats living near family. So, for the fourth time in my married life, I’m starting over in a new home. Which might sound like a royal pain in the neck to many of you.

I grew up in the Empire state, in New York City, with aunts, uncles, and cousins nearby. For those of you who might imagine New York to be only a hustle and bustle place, let me assure you that family neighborhoods thrived. My childhood was secure in Jackson Heights, Queens, with many friends and real everyday people living in apartment houses, attached row houses or single family homes.

As a young married woman, I moved north to the Bay state, to a place called Worcester. I had never heard of the town and was very nervous about relocating and leaving my familiar territory. So Mike and I made weekend trips every month or six weeks back to the city to visit everyone. Both sets of parents visited us as well.  Grandchildren are such a draw! Worcester, Massachusetts became a place on the map for all of us. It took just a little time for us to settle in very well.

When our sons were in college, Mike and I headed to the Lone Star state because of a new job. Was I thrilled about moving?  No. We’d become very comfortable in Worcester and didn’t want to leave our friends behind. Who wanted to start over again? But, we did..Whether by plane or car, we headed back up north regularly. Every time LaGuardia airport came into sight, my heart raced with excitement. And two years ago, we started over in the Sunshine state.

I’ve actually loved living in all four places – New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Florida – and feel lucky to have tasted life in various sections of this beautiful country. What can beat genuine Texas B-B-Q or the casual lifestyle? “Hey, y’all. How’re doing?” Texas Friendly is what I call it.  And what can be more breath-taking than the blazing autumn foliage of New England, or more fun than apple picking time? I scarfed up the clam chowder and lobster whenever they were on sale.

The time it took to transition from tourist to resident, adapting to the culture of each region, became shorter with each move. But no amount of regional delights could erase my New Yawk beginnings.

It seems to me that ‘starting over’ is NOT a problem that interrupts your life. It’s simply part of the  long adventure that IS your life. Whether it’s a new home, or a new husband, I think starting over enriches the journey. While my New York roots remain strong, and I will always reach for a second cup of cawfee, a glass of Florida orange juice tastes very sweet, too. .

I’ve set several of my stories in New England and Texas. Oddly enough, The Soldier and the Rose, a WWII love story, was the only book I’ve written that took place in New York City. Are there any native New Yorkers out there reading this blog? How about visitors to my hometown? Or is New York the last place on earth you’d go?

DRAWING!  Post a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of Family Interrupted. Winner chosen tonight!  Will post winner’s name on Thursday.

I post a new blog every Tuesday and Thursday.  Hope to see you for the next episode of Starting Over.

Best always,

Linda

 

Starting Over ~ A New Home

These match. Mine don't :)

These match. Mine don’t 🙂

LET’S GET REAL…

Happiness in a  home can be measured in closet space. Whether you live in a one bedroom apartment or a four bedroom ranch house, closets are the real in “real estate.”  As an extra challenge, basements don’t exist in the southern tier of this country, So say goodbye to a terrific storage alternative. I spent my early married life in Massachusetts in a house with an unfinished basement, but it was large enough for us to throw down a rug and use as a playroom.  Mike even built a “sports” closet under the staircase–much appreciated for the basketballs, baseball gloves, ice skates, even sleds and whatever else kept our three boys busy during each season.

Then we moved to Texas, and now live in Florida. Southern enough? Definitely no basements. My organizational gene was challenged, but with a little surprise help, I conquered this issue..

In Texas, my lower kitchen cabinets were filled with a hodge-podge of pots, pans, storage containers, cutting boards, trays, colanders and even a George Forman grill. I will never have a color coordinated matching set of anything because everything I have still works beautifully, So how can I throw them out? Besides, I’m a basic cook. A decent basic cook. I know which pots I use for brisket – the two Dutch ovens. I know exactly which crummy one I use for boiling eggs so no other pot will turn black inside.  I’ll admit I’m a creature of habit and comfortable with my array of stainless.

But I wasn’t comfortable messing around inside the cabinets, trying to dig out the exact pan I needed. Aerobics in the kitchen. Bend. Reach. Bend. Reach. Left, right, center. Crash. Crash, crash. Oy, the noise! Every time I went through another crash routine, I’d think about installing sliding drawers which I’d seen at Lowe’s. But then I got busy and forgot about it until the next time.

Finally, next time arrived.  One Saturday, I walked into the kitchen to see a mess of Reverewear, Farberware, Emeril and whatever else I’d collected all over the floor. Mike was lying on his back, his head and arms scrunched inside that bottom cabinet. I could hear the curses and grunting emanating from the depths. Then the commands:

“Lin, hold this screw.”

I held it.

“Lin, I need the screw.”

I gave it.

And twenty minutes later, I had a stainless steel two-drawer storage unit. Pots on the bottom; covers on top. I couldn’t stop smiling.

“Surprised?” he asked.

“Sure am. How did you know to take this on?”

“Hard to miss with all that complaining you did.”

“Moi? Complain?”

His eyes gleamed. “Maybe just a little. Now, how about a kiss?”

I stepped closer, my feet bumping into the pans still on the floor. This time, I didn’t care about the noise. All I saw was the pleasure on Mike’s face for having made me happy.

So maybe “real” isn’t about closet space at all.

In Florida, I actually have enough drawers for the pots and pans, but those plastic and aluminum foil rolls, the plastic baggies and dish washing soaps had to go somewhere. And the space beneath the sink is totally inadequate the way it is.  Another item on the “honey-do” list.  And another kiss–maybe more than one–from me. Just keeping it real 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping by, Hope I see you next time for another story about Starting Over.

Linda

Thanks so much for stopping by.  If you have a story you’d like to share about what love looks like to you, send me an email and it might appear in this column. Spelling and grammar don’t count!  

DRAWING:  Remember to leave a comment and your name will be in a drawing for a free copy of Family Interrupted. Drawing held at the end of the month.   

 

Starting Over ~ The Writing Life

hands on keyboardWRITERS ARE NOT LONELY…

All writers begin as readers. As a kid, I read voraciously. My weekly trips to the library are still etched in my mind’s eye. I felt rich with a pile of books in my arms! As I walked through the stacks, I occasionally wondered about the authors of my favorite books. I was happy NOT to be them. In fact, I felt sorry for them. Always alone in a room, writing, writing, writing. No friends to play with. No fun. I had a much better life 🙂

What does an eight-year-old know? When I’m engrossed in writing a story, I’m never alone. I’m never lonely.  My characters are alive, talking to me and I to them. The hours disappear and night falls. When I taught the adult GED class in Houston, I often wondered how the heck I arrived at my job. Daydreaming about my book people, I must have driven on automatic pilot because suddenly I was at work. Going home was no better, and I often missed my exit. Fortunately, I knew the roads very well, and couldn’t go fast due to the heavy traffic. I know, I know. That’s still a lousy excuse for a driver.

At a party one time, Mike and I were chatting with a small group of people. Sweetie said something–don’t remember what–and I replied: “What if the husband leaves her?”  A total non sequitor. Silence grew in our immediate circle. Quizzical expressions appeared on a few faces.

“What did you say? Who’s leaving their wife?”

Mike grinned, shook his head. Finally he put up his hands and said, “Nobody’s leaving anybody. She’s working on a book.”

The others nodded as if they understood, then flashed looks at each other. I recognized those kind of expressions. The guests thought I was crazy. I didn’t understand why. Other professionals, deep into their careers, think about work a lot. On weekends. At night. Maybe even behind the wheel…  Writers are no different.

I’m starting my writing career over, and I am not lonely!  How can writers be lonely when social media throws out tempting lures? Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads. Not to mention ordinary e-mail.  Loneliness has been banished for writers and everyone else. In fact, there are too many interruptions. Too many temptations. How many times have I promised myself a five minute Facebook break which turned into 45 minutes? I like catching up with my friends. I like sharing the latest about my own writing life or interesting items I’ve come across. So monitoring my on-line social time is a must.

I also love writing this blog and reading the comments you leave. It’s communication in another form. More intimate. More in-depth than some other social media. So, where do you fit? Are you lonely behind your computer? Distracted by too much on-line social life? Or have you managed to balance your time? If you have, please share your secrets!!

I appreciate your visits here and our conversations. If you leave a comment, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free copy of Family Interrupted. Winning name drawn on April 30th and announced in the May 2nd blog. As Kristin Lamb says in her wonderful writing blog, Kristin Lamb’s Blog: We Are Not Alone “to show you my love, I’m giving away…”  She keeps her promises. So do I. 

Until next time,

Linda