This is a #TBT. Originally Published October of 2010.
Writers and Other Liars
By Deb Carpenter-Nolting
I was five, and I knew how to write.
I stood in the living room, fondling two new red pencils.
“There should be one pencil for everyone. Did you take an extra pencil?” my mother called from the kitchen.
“No, I just have one,” I answered, as I quickly hid the other one behind my back.
When she entered the living room, I extended the one pencil for her inspection, while keeping the other behind my back.
“Are you lying to me?”
“I know you are lying,” she said in a hurt voice, taking the culprit hand from its hiding. The evidence was right there, a second red pencil clutched in my naughty writer’s hand. Her voice sounded different. I caught the disappointment in it.
The pencil wasn’t an expensive item. It wasn’t so important that I had taken an extra one. The issue was I had knowingly lied. I felt so guilty that I disappointed my mom, the truest and best person I’d ever known.
I’ve tried very hard to never lie again, and for the most part I’ve succeeded, but there’s just something about a shiny new red pencil that still beckons me to lick the lead and be wicked.
I threw myself so hard into Fall that I didn’t have time to see December coming. Before I’d been sitting on the docks with my feet dangling in salty water, and my eyes were closed. I felt content here, watching the pinks and oranges dance behind my lids. I plopped my big toe into the sea and watched a ripple form, bigger and bigger, never ending. I love the sea. I love the idea of mermaids and rosy coral breathing in the deep. Summer’s fingers were combing my hair, bleaching the curly ends out with sun. A seagull flew in the distance. A chill stirred in the air. Summer shivered.
“Fall’s coming,” Summer said, with eyes in slits. I threw myself up and peered around, to see if fall was really there, but fall was just a distant shadow, and like a bat circling the sky, it soon vanished. The chill left the air, and Summer smiled again.
“C’mon,” Summer grabbed my hand, “We’re swimming.” Summer jumped off the dock, and I looked down at my hand, and it was so hot, it burned.
In 1995, I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. I was thirty-five years old, in the best shape of my life, and had just gotten a clean bill of health with an annual physical. The incident resulted in the need for a craniotomy, where a metal clip was strategically placed to stop the bleeding. The blood seeped into various parts of my brain, so once inside, a massive cleanup was required. Back then, micro-neurosurgery was a relatively new technique. Prior to that time, the most likely outcome was death. Given the same circumstances, odds for survival are only slightly better now.
How can I show my Spanish students the various similarities all languages share? In Spanish we say paz, in French one says paix, in Italian you see pace, in German one finds as frieden, and in English the translation is peace. These words differ in spelling and in pronunciation, but all contain only one definition that the entire world understands. “This is amazing!” I tell them.
In a time when the world had lost the concept of forgiveness and had forgotten the meaning of love, a young girl named Rayna walked to the edge of sadness and there she took up residence in a rundown cottage, overgrown by tangled brambles. “It is better to be alone than lonely,” she reasoned. The humble dwelling had once belonged to a cruel man who, over time, had filled the rooms with broken dreams, shattered plans and mismatched cast-a-ways. Every nook and cranny was smothered in cobwebs and dark secrets. Gloomy shadows refused to give way to light. Rayna recognized the despair. It was the very likeness of her wretched past. She thought it a suitable home.
I was a child who was told by a 2nd grade teacher that I was “not good at art.” I took that as gospel. I couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler. In fact, it became the long running family joke.
In 1995, at age 35, I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. At the peak of my game, I was knocked off the playing board altogether. I made a journal of the events during my 6+ month recovery. As my looks began to transform back to my “old self,” after being a “zipper head” due to the major craniotomy required, I longed to put the dreadful experience behind me. I just wanted to go back to “normal.” As an acquaintance said the other day, the only place she has seen “normal” is on a washing machine! That’s another story. I did the old fashion way of copyrighting, mailed my manuscript to myself, tossed it in a plastic storage bin, and moved on for over a decade. I thought, someday, I’d write a book about my incredible experience. In fact, my mom suggested once or twice a year that I “get right on that!” I wasn’t quick to act. Continue reading “Farewell My Friend, Until We Meet Again by Kim Justus”→
Special Editors, Board of Directors, Members, and Friends:
Marty Pierson died Tuesday evening about 6 p.m. She was sedated to handle the pain of her inoperable brain tumor. After she lost her vision and became blind in December, the tumor was discovered, as doctors were looking at her eyes. Many years ago, she said that since she had no remaining kin she wanted to adopt Fine Lines as her family. She came to almost every editors’ meeting through the years and taught elementary children at each summer camp we had since she discovered our writing network. After teaching at Norris Middle School and Technical High School in the Omaha Public Schools for many years, she retired and devoted her time to helping needy students advance in school by providing scholarships for them, working in the arts, and discovering that she was an artist with words. She was most surprised to find out after retiring that she had something to say, people listened to her, and enjoyed writing. We will miss her a lot.