Tag Archives: Family

My Time in Front of the Camera

Even when I was younger, I hated having my photo taken.  I’m showing my age here, so bear with me–do you remember that episode of Friends where Chandler has a problem smiling for the camera?  Yup, that’s the one.  Funny, right?  Definitely, if you aren’t the one facing the lens.

I am the female version of Chandler.  I think I have the best smile possible and as soon as someone says “Cheese!” it’s over.  My sweet look of serenity has been replaced with the look of a rabid chipmunk on ecstasy, no less.

I have a sister who has perfected the art of looking decades younger as soon as the smartphones come out.  Understand, I’m the person who takes photos of others and then I hide in the back row if I have to be in one.  I’m only 5’3″, so the back row of any group except pre-schoolers means I’m invisible.

“See my shoulder.  That’s me at the Coliseum!”  You get it.

I’m not terrible looking, but my facial muscles haven’t gotten the message yet.  I have a photo or two that I look okay in, but taking selfies to get one decent photo is a  full-time job.  Thank goodness, we have digital now.  Back in the olden days, or should I say my youth, you took a photo or two and after they were developed you picked the least offensive one to use for whatever project needing an image of yourself.

If I take one thousand photos, the odds are, I will get one I won’t find too horrific, and I’ll recognize it immediately and can delete the offending ones forever.  That’s a pro for digital.  The con is everyone and their half-brothers have a camera to take that one photo when you have your mouth stuffed full of pizza or when you are captured in the worst angle possible.  Is that my @** or a Volkswagen?

I hate when people say, “Get my best side.”  For some of us, the best side is back behind the camera.

Today, I had to do a YouTube video.  Not just one snippet of time where I need to contort my features into something pleasing, but minutes of me flipping my hair, rolling my eyes, and showing my old lady face on a medium that can be transmitted around the world.  The incessant babbling of the newly deranged is more coherent than my moments on camera.

Finally, after 45 minutes and about 20 takes, I come up with the least embarrassing video.  I’m sure by the time it’s edited they will remove everything except my rabid chipmunk smile and the two short sentences which will actually make sense.

I wonder if therapy will help?


Spending Time

My mom is 82 years old.  Two years ago, she battled breast cancer and won.  Now, we have a different battle.  She has gotten progressively weaker making it difficult to get up out of a chair and walk with aid of a walker.

She remains independent in her own home but relies more and more on the help of others for meal preparation, personal cares, and day-to-day activities.  It saddens me to see these gradual changes.  My younger sister provides much of this assistance.  When she planned her vacation, I offered to step in.

So, I’m spending my Valentine’s Day with my mom with my husband’s blessing.  Today, Mom asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day.  I told her being with her and spending this time was gift enough.  I know it touched her heart.  I’m very much like my mom in that I don’t like to show vulnerability.  I keep many emotions private showing myself to only those people I trust.

If you have read my book, Exodus, you will recognize this character trait in my protagonist, Clare Thibodeaux.   Just for clarification,   I’m not Clare and she is not based on me.  Aspects of her character tend to mimic some of my more flawed personality traits, but she is a work of fiction.  

While I’m writing this blog, Mom is watching her favorite shows — “Judge” shows, talk shows where people throw chairs and pull hair, and reruns of comedies from the eighties.  I have to admit to loving the Hallmark Channel’s movies.  I’m a sappy romantic under a tough exterior.

I’m blessed to have the time to spend with my aging parent.  So many children don’t have those opportunities because of work obligations, distance, and other constraints.  I find myself becoming more introspective.  I realize I will be the oldest member of the family of my youth.  Will my great-nieces and nephews call me “the old one” as my sons had when meeting my grandmother?  Will I be that wacky aunt who wrote suspense novels, studied Tae Kwon Do, was an Army officer and embraced aspects of the hippie culture of the 60’s and 70’s?

I would love nothing more than to be a real-life character in the stories of future generations, just as my father and mother are destined to be to the current young ones.  My tough South Bronx gang member father with his Irish immigrant parents married a farm girl from the Midwest who played basketball and wanted to be an FBI agent at a time when not many women worked outside the home.

Looking at the white-haired woman sitting by the window in the sunlight, it’s hard to picture the young woman from the past.  Spend a bit of time with her and her steely resolve and iron-will become recognizable if one takes the time to look.

I believe as William Shakespeare wrote so eloquently that life is a story and we are all characters with our parts to play.   I am my mother’s audience during this week of “Spending Time”.

All the World’s A Stage

(from As You Like It, spoken by Jaques)
                                        All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Football, Facebook and Family

Families.  So many words describe them — loving, supportive, close-knit, and warm.  In January, some families can be described in less than flattering terms as the countdown to the Super Bowl begins.

Our family isn’t any different.  My husband, sons and myself are avid Green Bay Packers fans while several other family members are Minnesota Vikings fans.  My younger brother is such a fan, he has a large Vikings insignia tattooed on his upper arm.

Facebook has become Ground Zero for jabs, trash talk and a whole lot of crowing when someone’s team is doing well.   My feed gets blown up with every snide meme about the Packers on the internet.  The closer it gets to Super Bowl Sunday — the crazier the antics become.  The dinner table is surrounded by purple jerseys and green and gold t-shirts. Conversations go from current events to stats, game plays and predictions about the outcome of the next NFL game.

Plenty of beer, pizza, mini tacos and a boat-load of appetizers make the rounds as all eyes are zeroed into the action on the TV.  We even have soft miniature footballs we throw at the television when we are unhappy with the play-calling or disagree with a penalty the referees have called on our team.

The competitive spirit between all of us ends with the end of the football season; at least until March Madness begins.  But that is another story…

Christmas Is…

December 25.  One of my favorite days of the year.  Yeah, yeah, almost everyone loves Christmas.  I hear you.  What’s not to love?  Sparkling lights, Christmas trees, Christmas stockings, Christmas cookies — the list goes on and on.  And who doesn’t like presents?  No one.

Christmas is about family.  Gathering together to celebrate the holiday and the family.  Mary, Joseph and their tiny baby, Jesus huddled together in a stable.  Now each year we travel near and far to be with the people we love and care about during this special time.

Christmas is about children.  Santa Claus, his elves, and that crazy red-nosed reindeer were the subject of stories, cartoons, and some pretty terrible photos with Santa.  Don’t even say you didn’t have certain Christmas programs you couldn’t miss — Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (to name a few).  Parents wrap gifts on the sly while the kiddos are asleep.  Most parents have experienced the early, early  A.M. construction of a bike or a wagon.  It’s followed by two hours of sleep because the kids are up at 5 A.M.

Christmas is about doing good works for others less fortunate than ourselves.  Donations to Toys for Tots and food pantries are synonymous with the season.  Inviting people to your celebration who would otherwise spend it alone with a microwave dinner.  It should be a time of peace and harmony.

Christmas is about our spirit, our soul, and our faith.  A Midnight Mass with the church packed full of the faithful singing the beautiful hymns and carols with real joy.  It’s standing in the cold night outside of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome waiting to go inside to Midnight Mass with the Pope.  A couple of voices join together singing a carol to pass the time.  Before long, a diverse group of people from my different countries add their voices to the song.  This memory from twenty-five years ago can still make me cry with the beauty of humanity.

I wish you a joyful, peaceful holiday where love is the order of the day.

And, I pray for compassion and kindness in abundance this day and every day.