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Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer

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December 2012

A Holiday Rerun

1255290707dzuL99Please enjoy this excerpt, “A New New Year’s,” from my upcoming memoir.

I must have been insane to do it.  Maybe my ability to reason had not been fully restored.  I still operated under my old personality.  It was the end of 2007, and the old me loved going out to ring in the new year.

Vivian looked cute.  She wore tight metallic pants with a black silk scoop-neck and the strappy heels with the high cork wedge I’d passed on to her.  I loved those shoes.  Even as painful as they’d been after a night out, I loved them.

We waited in a short line.  The girls wore tops covered by leather jackets that would later be shed to reveal sparkly colors and glitter and too much skin.  I was conscious of my jeans and frumpy black sweater.  I wore flat, black boots that might as well have been corrective shoes surrounded by all those tottering heels.  These women clacked.  I clomped.

Viv began making our way, pushing the wheelchair toward a large empty table up front that had a homemade sign with the words, “RESERVED — BAND” on it.  Rob came over from practicing to thank us for coming out.  He didn’t know we were grateful to have an automatic place to go.  I used to love that when we were dating.  Viv’s husband was in a band too, so we always had a choice of venues.

People parted as we cut across the dance floor on our way to the table.  I received lots of attention, “Happy New Year!” wishes and condescending “you go girl!” pats.  Apparently, my very existence among the scene was to be commended. Continue reading “A Holiday Rerun”

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All the Good in the World

You know I have to write about it. I need to write about it. Like the rest of the nation, I am deeply saddened by recent events in Newtown, CT. But, I thought it was too sad, too awful, to be included here. I like my blog posts to be positive and uplifting. After all, I prefer to get my news online or in the “week in review” segments of CBS Sunday Morning, right before the more benign human interest and feel-good stories.

But, I didn’t want an uninvited elephant lurking around these cyber pages either. Because, let’s face it. Like an anniversary of 9/11, we may go about our business not talking about it, but you know we’re all thinking about it.

In deciding to face the topic head on, the question then became — when? Last Sunday was too soon. I hadn’t processed my thoughts yet. Details were still coming to light. That left today. At first, I worried about the closeness of the upcoming holiday. As it would turn out, this past week brought out the good in this horrible story. The world and I needed that time to take the unthinkable and put our own positive and uplifting spin on it. And just in time for Christmas. Continue reading “All the Good in the World”

‘Tis the Season

hIt’s been hard to get things done lately. Getting up at the unreasonable hour of 4:30 a.m. has lost its appeal, even for me, a self-proclaimed morning person. These cold and misty, foggy mornings are enough to make me want to stay under the duvet. Combine that with a little hot chocolate, Christmas cookies and the fact that it’s dark by 5:00 p.m., and it’s a wonder I accomplish anything. And why should I? Seriously folks, we need to take a tip from the bears this season and hibernate.

Several of my posts have been about getting organized, staying motivated or eating right. Not this one. Even the most health conscious among us need to just give it a rest. Literally. I used to have a yoga teacher who said we should follow nature’s lead. When the days get shorter and there’s less daylight — do less! Simple, sound advice that I, for one, plan on heeding, which is why if you ring my doorbell at 7:00 p.m., you’re likely to find me in my pajamas, if I come to the door at all.

hThe body and mind need time to recharge. Despite popular opinion, this is not the time to be running around after dark doing your holiday shopping. (Do what I do — shop online!) Why do you think so many people get sick this time of year? It’s all that dangerous candle burning people do trying to get everything done. Trust me, your loved ones would rather have you around healthy, than not. That really is the best present.

So consider this permission to do a little guilt-free indulging. Key words: guilt-free. Slip into your sweats, curl up with a blanket and watch that sappy Hallmark Channel Christmas special. (You know you want to.) And don’t forget, animals live off their stored fat during the winter, so I say it’s okay to put on a few pounds this time of year. Hey, what are New Year’s Resolutions for? Happy napping.h

Since When?

1283776894777VNBI’ve run into a bit of a snafu while editing my book. It seems that somewhere along the way in writing it, I wizened up to the fact that the rule had changed from two spaces after a period or end of a sentence to just one. As a result, about half of my book is written one way, half the other.

I dropped an email to my writing coach asking her if I could let this slide, fully expecting her to say ‘yes.’ She said ‘no.’ I have to change it. And if that weren’t bad enough, I didn’t know where the handy ‘Find and Replace’ feature was on my Mac. I wasted an entire week trying to change every single sentence in my book until a certain writer/editor I know clued me in.

I was lamenting about all this to a friend when she asked, “When did that change?” Good question. I looked into it and found out — years ago! The Internet is full of discrepancies, of course, but one source says it changed with the dawn of the personal computer! Good grief! Talk about feeling stupid. And I call myself a writer.

But apparently, I wasn’t the only one in the dark. Some friends (writers and non-writers alike) didn’t know either. If, like me, you learned to type on a manual typewriter (all you youngins — see photo above,) then you’re familar with the two space rule. See, typewriter fonts are monospaced. Each letter takes up the same amount of space. The logic goes that the extra space was needed between sentences to improve readability. Now that most of us are typing on a computer keyboard with its proportional font (i.e. an “m” takes up more space than an “i,”) we no longer need the extra space. Supposedly, with improved technology, came better readability. Maybe it’s my double vision or failing eyesight, but I found it easier to read before. But no one asked me.

I want to scream at the injustice of it all. Can they do that? But I know the answer. Rules change all the time. Of course they can. I don’t even know who “they” are, except maybe the powers that be at the three most widely accepted authorities on the subject, The Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Stylebook and the Modern Language Association. Personally, as I get into the nitty gritty of grammar, I like the Grammar Girl site so much it made my list of favorite places (see sidebar.)

But, don’t sweat it. The average person receiving your emails isn’t likely to start counting spaces. Especially, in a world where “ur” and “nite” have become acceptable. If you’re a student, a writer or just a person priding yourself on your grammatical correctness, then by all means, get with the program! Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just pass them on. Even if I am years late.

Letting Go

I’ll assume from your lack of commentary, that you weren’t sure what to make of my “reblogging” last week.  That or you were busy shopping. Or you were lulled into a post-turkey eating stupor by the holiday. Most likely, no one commented because one of my most loyal commenters wrote the thing — and she couldn’t very well comment on her own blog, now could she?

After all, there’ve been plenty of times when she’s been the only voice out there to let me know I did, in fact, hit ‘publish’. But the point is, I spent enough time fretting over this whole reblogging thing to make the entire experiment in time saving null and void. I need to learn to let go.

I am plagued by a severe case of perfectionism. First, I worried over publishing someone else’s words. Then, I wasted time figuring out exactly how to do it. And finally, I spent at least an hour obsessing over the fact that the two sentences I did write kept popping up at the bottom of the post and not the top. Sometimes you just have to stop.

I have no problem knowing when to quit in other situations. For example, I have another writer friend who marvels at my succinct blogs. What she doesn’t know is, I actually forget half the things I planned to say in the first place. And by the time I remember them, usually during a proofread, I realize it sounds pretty good without them and it’s too much work to figure out where to fit them in anyway. Writing secrets of the senile.

I also have no problem letting go of my book. I’m done (yes, that’s right, finished!) and you always hear about authors missing the process or their characters. I don’t. Maybe, that’s cause I wrote a memoir. My main character is me and it’s pretty hard to miss yourself. My other characters are my mom and Frankie and hey, they’re right here. As for missing the process, well, I’ll just start another book. I’m looking forward to trying my hand at fiction. My next character will be the opposite of me. Maybe, a marathon runner. Who’s scared of dogs.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on this idea of letting go. It would be nice to have a  messy house once in awhile and focus on the things that really matter. Or to not spend half the morning making my bed, rolling back and forth, back and forth, straightening the covers. But, say what you will, I’m never giving up my alphabetized CD’s. That’s just plain sense.

By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.

~Lao Tzu

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