The Odd Trip

Hello lovelies!

I might have looked at the date on the last post I did and cringed.

So here we are on the far side of Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and I’ll give you the cliff notes version. From my last post you’ll know my sister got married in September with me as her maid of honor. What I kind of didn’t tell you lovely folks, unless you follow me on Twitter, is that I’d given my two weeks notice at my old job (no more testing asphalt for me!) and said yes to a contracted position with a large, privately-owned food company in the city of Buffalo. When I was in college and finishing up my degree, I wanted to either be in forensics or in food science, and it took me about five years, but I finally made it happen.

October was my first month at the new job and a bit trial by fire but so great, and so much fun, and exactly what I’ve wanted to do for years. Also in October was a rather whirlwind trip to Cape Cod and back with the Mama, and Mads.

It’s absolutely stunning out on the coast.


Dennis Port, MA

October rolled into November which rolled into Thanksgiving, which rolled into my ten year high school reunion. I’m still not totally over the fact that I’ve been out of high school for ten years, okay? There weren’t a ton of people there, but it was good to see the ones who were, and catch up with them. 

November has predictably rolled into December. It’s also brought snow, which isn’t unusual for Western New York. And that’s about where we’re at now.

On the writing front, I’ve sent out my first full manuscript since Lady of Sherwood (which was way back in early 2016), and I’m now more or less in a holding pattern until I hear back. I have my fingers crossed – I’d actually gotten the opportunity in early November to pitch this particular agent in person at a workshop in downtown Buffalo – but it’s still a waiting game, and I’ve got to be patient. Which is not as easy as it sounds. At any rate, life is pretty damn good, regardless.

That’s about it, for now. As always you can find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Hope & Kindness,

-ML


Five Years On

(This is an open letter my 23-year-old self exactly 5 years ago. CW: medical procedures, discussions of death.)

I see you, laying there in the sleeping bag on the hotel floor with your first stuffed in your mouth, desperate not to make any noise even though tears are streaming down your face. All you keep thinking is that you haven’t had enough time. Mads has just turned 5 – is that all you get to see? Is that all the time you get to spend with her? Is that all she gets of you? There are so many places you want to visit, and so many people you haven’t met, things you haven’t done, and 23 years doesn’t seem like enough.

It isn’t. You know this, sure as you know your own name. There’s a whole wider world to see and you’re less than eight hours away from being flat on your back on an operating table. You’ve signed the papers. You know the side effects. Hell, you asked the surgeon to walk you through the entire surgery process, start to finish, because you have to know what you’re getting into.

It’s scary as fuck, and you’ve spent the last month trying keep calm and carry on. The less worried you seem, the less worried everybody around you seems. So you don’t buck up and bury it down for you, you do it for your mom. Your sister. Your friends.

You could die.

You. Could. Die.

But you don’t. Well, you do – you flat line in ICU – and you don’t get to be one of those people who doesn’t remember what happens before and after surgery. You remember everything. Waking up in ICU. The breathing tube.

You remember everything, and even 5 years later it still makes your breath catch.

Yes. Five years later.

You survive. You survive.

Twelve days after surgery you help Mads with her homework. She calls your scar your “hole” and she never lets you be far from your cough pillow. You don’t take your heavy pain pills because they give you nightmares – you gave it up in the hospital, a full day after you were out of ICU – and you wear support hose to help with your leg circulation. Your fashion sense, what little of it there was, takes a nose dive because you can’t really dress yourself. Hell, you can’t bathe yourself, either.

But you’re alive, and it’s enough.

Putting a t-shirt on feels like you’ve climbed a mountain. Ditching the support hose feels like another step back to normal.

You move out about 6 months after surgery – you got a job! – and a little after your first surgery anniversary, you get green-lighted to play soccer again. Almost 3 years on and you ride rollercoasters again. Mom gleefully kicks your ass at bumper cars.

You write more books. You visit Savannah, GA. You move to Buffalo.

You publish a book.

And sometimes, when the night is long and dark and the air is still, you remember that person in the sleeping bag, sobbing silently because she feels like she’s out of time and there’s so much she wants to do. She knows life isn’t fair, but this? This feels cruel.

She lives.

She lives.

I wish you knew this, going into that morning. You’ll feel like you haven’t slept (and you really haven’t) and you’ll scrub with that weird soap they give you at the hospital, and you’ll put on an expression that says I’m okay even when you’re really not because it makes everybody else feel a little bit better. You’ll struggle for something to listen to on your way to the hospital, and you’ll put on a brave face for Mom & Dad in the pre-surgical room until they sedate you because you’re so busy trying not to upset them that you’re upsetting yourself and they don’t want that.

You say goodbye to them, that you’ll see them in recovery, but there’s a voice in the back of your head that says that might be a lie. This could be it. That could be how they remember you.

It isn’t.

You sleep. You wake up. A man in scrubs and a hair net asks you how you are, and you tell him you’re cold. You sleep again. You wake up again. And you smile at Mom from around a breathing tube, awake, happy, and deeply appreciate that she puts your glasses on your face so you can see beyond the first six inches past your nose.

You’re still breathing. You’re still here.

What nobody explicitly tells you, from diagnosis to surgery, is that it’s okay to be scared. So you tell yourself, wrapped up in bed and with nobody to hear you.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to want to scream into your pillow. You do all of those things at one point or another. This isn’t an easy choice to make – nobody likes to look their own mortality in the eye – but you tick the boxes and sign on the line.

And you lay on the floor.

But here we are, 5 years later. We have a kickin’ new scar, a decidedly different outlook on life, and while the world has gone to hell a little bit, sometimes…sometimes we’re so stupidly grateful to be upright and breathing it hurts.

You’ll make it through this. I promise. And after this? We will do what we have always done: carpe the hell out of this diem and then some.

We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.

-Bukowski

 

August Update

Hello.

I know it’s getting on to be the end of August and I’m more or less saying hello since the beginning of June, and…summer is the busy season. That’s really all I’ve got.

However, coming up this weekend is going to be some shenanigans with the family – the Mama, H, and Mads – because we’re going up to Toronto. It’s MLS rivalry week, and we’re going to see Toronto FC take on Montreal from the third row! I’m going to do my best to take a ton of pictures and share them for everybody to see.

I have some ideas rattling around in my head for next week: August 29 marks Five Years since I had open heart surgery, and I’m feeling the need to write a letter to my twenty-three-year-old self. It’ll make me cry, I know that, but it feels…right.

As always, if you can’t find me here, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Hope & Kindness,

-ML

The Ol’ Alma Mater

This weekend was great for a variety of reasons. One of them was that I got to see friends I haven’t seen since my college graduation and before open heart surgery five years ago. Another was that I got to visit my favorite hangouts both on campus and in Geneva.

I stayed on the same floor in the same dorm that I lived in when I was a first year. It still has the same Jackson Hall smell when you first walk in. And yes, in a way, it was like coming home again.

Friday night was full of hanging out with people I knew, and a great number of people I knew were in my class year but didn’t necessarily know their name.

Saturday was the Almuni Author Signing at the bookstore. I was absolutely thrilled and honored to be asked if I wanted to participate.

authorsigningcollege

They sat the rookie next to the rock star – seriously, she had over a dozen books.

Photo is courtesy of my friend E.H. who snapped it while I was signing our mutual friend’s copy.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t take a lot of pictures this weekend. Hell, there was a lot of time when my phone stayed in my wallet. I wanted to see friends – including one guy who I thought hated me, but who completely surprised me by absolutely not hating me – and I wanted to just soak in the atmosphere of the weekend. I was back on campus with people I liked and who liked me. We swapped stories. Tried to remember how we’d met. Talked about classes and professors.

Talked about how many times we’d run from campus safety, too, for a variety of reasons. I plead the fifth on this one.

There were a number of classes celebrating milestones, and then there was a lady who was 103 and had graduated in 1936. I didn’t get to see her, though that’s absolutely amazing and I hope she had a wonderful weekend. She probably has a ton of wonderful memories and stories to tell, especially considering she was here during the early years of William Smith College. Who knows, maybe Pulteney Street still divided the two colleges back then. (Hobart was on one side, William Smith on the other. Literally.)

Honestly, this weekend was like a giant inter-class party, and I’m so, so glad I went. I told my friends, before we scattered back to our respective cities on Sunday, as much. I’m glad I went, and I’m very, very glad to have gotten to hang out with them all again.

The shine of the weekend has worn off a little bit (I went to the dentist yesterday morning and came out with a clean teeth and a new filling), but when I think about it? When I think about stepping in the door of the dorm again which, my God, they’re SO TINY and how did we honestly fit two people in a room that size? and wandering campus and laughing with old friends and new? I smile. And that I’ll hold onto until it’s time for my ten year.

Hope and Kindness,

-ML

collegesigningcloseup

The last two weeks have been a sort of runaway freight train for me at work. Coming up next weekend is my five year college reunion and my recreational dance recital.

Before that happens, though, you should get yourself over to Amazon because THERE ARE SO MANY BOOKS THAT ARE FREE!

kindle unlimited

There are plenty of great Clean Teen Publishing and Crimson Tree Publishing books available for free this weekend – check them out!

Hope & Kindness,

-ML

Some Favorite Things

I have, apparently, not killed my houseplant. Which is glorious, because I was worried for a couple weeks after Mama and I re-potted him. Henry looked pretty bad for a while.

There is the high probability that I actually screamed out loud in my lab on Thursday.

First, because, THERE’S A NEW RIVERS OF LONDON BOOK COMING OUT NOVEMBER!

Aaronovitch Cover

There’s a synopsis and the rest of the RIVERS OF LONDON covers located here. If you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend it. It’s become one of my favorites. My love of Thomas Nightingale and Peter Grant knows no bounds.

The other thing that made me happy scream in my own lab before I’d had most of my cup of coffee was this.

Now, my love of both Moulin Rouge and Aaron Tveit, separately, knows no bounds. Put them together? Cue the happy screaming and the immediate watching of this video, and the start of the plan to get myself to Boston at some point this summer because I HAVE to see this.

(So, fairly fun fact – I kinda can’t embed videos at the moment. So you’ll have to trust me and follow this glorious link to YouTube to see what, exactly, I literally yelled about.)

Trust me. I’m really excited.

I have to pop into work today for a bit, but I hope everybody’s had an awesome weekend.

Hope & Kindness,

-ML

Book Fair Fun

Before this past weekend, the last time I’d been to a book fair had been when I was in elementary school and it was the Scholastic Book Fair yes it deserves the capitals and those were amazing.

This weekend was also amazing, for a number of different reasons.

One of which was that I got to meet nineteen other authors local to WNY. Some of them, like me, had only one book. Some had three or four. One guy in the corner had an entire table full complete with some sets in cellophane and he had hoodies. HOODIES.

I don’t need hoodies but damn, did I seriously think about making one of those list type t-shirts with the outlaws names on them.

Anyway.

One of my big takeaways – and something I didn’t have – was something that listed my website and my social media handles. I do have bookmarks, but those are very much LADY OF SHERWOOD focused, not so much me as an author. As a result I’m looking into getting some sort of business card. If I hear good news about an opportunity in the fall, then I’m definitely going to need them.

That sounds really cryptic, but when I have good news, I’ll share it.

I did my best with my display. I was wingin’ it, okay? I’m wingin’ this whole author thing start to finish.

newfane author event

And I sold some books, too. Which is exciting.

I got to chat with other WNY authors. We got to share experiences, advice, and make the event fun for everyone who came to visit. And that, at the end of the day, is what mattered most.

There were some folks taking pictures – even a couple of Facebook live streams – but I have no idea where any of that got posted, and I can’t find it anywhere. It’s out there wandering the internet somewhere, having a grand old time, probably.

In the meantime, we’re halfway through the work week, which is always a bonus.

Hope & Kindness,

-ML

 

Tuesday Magic

Hey!

Hope your week is going well. We’re almost to the weekend! That’s a good reason to cheer.

If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, then you probably saw this photo from Tuesday night.

dichotomy

Those are my tap shoes in between my work boots.

I grew up playing soccer. I love the sport. I played it for years, took a little break, wound up having heart surgery, and then went back to the sport I loved. I haven’t found somewhere to play during the winter yet, but it might happen again. Instead, when I moved out here back in 2016, I’d somehow tapped into this previously hidden well of bravery and wanted to dive even deeper. I wanted to do something I’d always wanted to do but never had the chance to because soccer and that thing I’ve always wanted to try was tap dancing.

It was a struggle that first year, I’m not going to lie. But it was also rewarding as hell to fight with something and win a little bit each week. Each new eight count was a battle to win and making it to recital – feeling good about recital – was more or less winning all the battles to get to the final boss.

This year there’s still the tap struggle, and I added jazz to the mix.

I’m not graceful. I can’t pivot. And yet on Tuesday nights starting in September I set aside the steel-toe work boots and step into the studio to try something new, and fight more battles. The jazz one I’m really not entirely sure I’m going to win, but apparently it looks pretty good and I’m doing fine for someone who’s never done this in her life and as for the tap part of it, well…that’s still one of my favorite parts of Tuesday nights. It’s also why I have “Black Velvet” stuck in my head for hours.

If you haven’t already seen it, you can check out of me and my tap teacher in the studio in a video here.

And remember, friends, it’s almost the weekend.

Hope & Kindness,

-ML

That Author Thing

Hi Friends!

First, I hope your weekend was great mine was great up until I literally puked on Saturday night, but I’m feeling much better today and that your week gets off to a great start.

I’m going to be doing the author thing this weekend!

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 6.08.34 PM

If you’re in Western New York you should absolutely come say hello and check out the awesome lineup of local authors (there’s 20 of us!) – maybe even win a Kindle. If you do live in WNY and you are planning on being there on Saturday AND you already have a copy of LADY OF SHERWOOD, I will absolutely ask you if I can sign your copy. And I’ll be handing out bookmarks.

Everybody else will also have books for sale, and you should absolutely check them out, too.

I’m really excited for Saturday, and I hope to see you there!

Happy Monday!

Hope & Kindness,

-ML