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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 86 - Ode to my Heros

“If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it.”
~Erma Bombeck~

"It's very foolish to laugh if you don't know what's funny in the first place."
~Blubber  by Judy Blume~

"I will not play tug o' war. I'd rather play hug o' war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”
~Shel Silverstein~

Today I'm Grateful for:

Erma Bombeck. When I am the kitten in the "hangin in there" poster, Erma is the branch. Her book "Motherhood: the worlds oldest Profession" eased the fears of a petrified 18 year old new mother. She let me know failure was not the worst thing that could happen. And her book "The Grass is always greener over the septic tank" helped me see the adventure in the mundane. Without me ever knowing it, she shaped me into the type of author I am today.

Judy Blume. As a dyslexic child reading was nearly impossible for me. For years words just laid flat on the page and were one dimensional. They were the enemy, sent by the devil to confound me and make me look stupid in class. They made my teacher think I was lazy and my parents think "There's something wrong with that child". Then, with the help of Dr. Henry Lesser & Judy Blume, words became the single most valuable position I have. Judy Blume's books told me I was not alone, there were others out there just like me and "Are you there God? It's Me, Margret" told my mother what I couldn’t say. Judy Blume made my life better, filled it with magic, and made the aloneness of an only child of the military less....alone.

Shel Silverstin. I ask you my 10 loyal stalkers, do you ever wonder about the way I put words together? Odd combinations that seem to make no sense until you read them a 2nd or 3rd, or 12th time? Do you ever wonder "Where in the world did THAT come from?" Well it was Shel Silverstein. He taught me that just because it's not in the dictionary does not mean it's not a word. That it's OK to make up my own words and be the only one to "get" it. He freed my brain from the leash my English teachers put on it. He took my leash off and let me run.

Mr. Ling & Mr. Sellers. My two favorite teachers. Mr. Ling was 6th grade, the very best year of my scholastic life. This year I learned to read, this year Mr. Ling spoke to me like I was a big kid. Mr. Ling would tell jokes in Latin and be the only one to laugh. Mr. Ling made me unafraid to go to Jr. High. And Mr. Sellers my 12th grade English teacher and the only English teacher to say “Yes, you can”.

words in all their forms. If you think this world is bad now, trying it without commutation. THAT is an existence I never want to live to see.

Dr. Henry Lesser. Optometrist and hero to a pudgy, dyslexic, superhero wannabe.

my husband. He fought for me, he saved me, and he said it first.

my parents. Without them, I would not be me.

my kids. They made me this way. Blame them.

God. He really should be at the top of the list but then, I figured you'd stop reading. He's OK with that, he knows he's #1. He made me this way. After 46 years, I'm just figuring out why.

I know I've been cheating all week
But I really have been busy :)
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Yesterday I officially submitted my manuscript to Little Red Tree Publishing (thanks George). Every time I stop and let myself think "You really did it Beth. You wrote a book." something inside me swells. No one but me can understand what a huge deal this is. You, my loyal stalkers must be understandably sick of hearing about my little book and I'm sorry, truly but I just can't help it.

Each time I look at it, read it, edit it or submit it, I think back to that 11 year old girl, in 6th grade, working harder than anyone knew, to learn to grasp the meaning behind the flat black marks on a page. Her hero Dr. Lesser training her eyes and brain to work together, creating a series of odd exercises that seemed to have no connection to learning to read but did just that.

Of that pudgy, lonely little girl discovering the joy of reading. It took her a long time to finish a book, she was slow but steady and a deep love was developed. A life long love of words started. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was curled up in my bed one Saturday morning reading "The Pink Dress", the very FIRST book I ever read for pleasure and not forced to read by school. My mother kept calling me "Beth Ann! Get out of that bed and clean your room!" I'd yell back "Yes Ma'am!" and stay right there reading more.

My room never got cleaned, my mother, absolutely flabbergasted by the discovery of me, in bed, reading a BOOK, made her leave me alone. By the time I finished, it was late at night and it was dark outside. I remember closing the cover and crying. Crying because the book was done. I didn't want it to be over, I wanted MORE! With tears in my eyes, I said out loud to the stuffed mouse at the foot of my bed "One day I will write a book like this. One that makes you cry when it's over."

Within five years, life swallowed up that little girl. She was lost in puberty, boys, school, marriage, babies, divorce, more babies and more...well...life. She was lost for 33 years until one day, in a desperate attempt to connect me to my life, my shrink said "you like writing in your journal right? Try free writing. Just sit there and type what pops into your head. Today's assignment is to remember the last time you were truly happy and content." From that free write, that pudgy, lonely 11 year old girl made herself heard. She said to me "KEEP YOUR PROMISE!"

If, 20 years from now, Oprah has never called, my mother is still the only one with a copy, and I still have not been published, I will still feel this rush when I say to a complete stranger "Hey, did you know I wrote a book?"



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