A poem I wrote (I’m not a poet) but here goes…

Selfies at Age Sixty

 

My mother lives inside my skin

In the mirror, her smile cracks across my face, above

her chin,

soft jowls that started sagging at my

fifty-eighth year, but the only way I remember her chin,

the wrinkles that frame her lips under

my skin all disappear in the wide open smile

so I smile

and smile in

A world of selfies that Mom would have eschewed.

 

Why do you cover your mouth, your hand

across your smile? I ask her, studying her face in the mirror,

my own peering back, hers long buried.

I look so goofy, she says across the years, as she said

long ago. My mouth is

so big. A crater on my face when I laugh.

No! I cry. Your smile is beautiful, isn’t it? Is my smile goofy?

No, she insists from beyond the grave. Not yours. Only mine.

The same, I say.

She shakes her head, her hand

Across her mouth.

 

I know the day in high school I saw myself laughing in the mirror

And saw my mother’s face,

covered my mouth, that smile too big. I understood

and started putting my hand over my laughter,

too.

A legacy.

I catch myself laughing,

My hand gone to

My mouth like

A tic.

 

But now,

But now,

I wear purple* and smile

And laugh,

Mouth wide open,

with Mom, move my hand

from my mouth

to my phone,

and all my selfies

are of both of us.

 

*”When I am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple,” by Jenny Joseph

I had a dream…

IMG_4124In the midst of some distraught sleepless nights between Election Day and Inauguration Day, I had a series of recurring dreams. They are still vivid in my mind, so I decided I had better write them down. I don’t think I’ll forget them, but rather I feel as if I should go on record having said this before it actually happens.

In each dream, I was with a different person or family. Each had voted for Trump, and was telling me how He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named had NOT made good on campaign promises to help the “little guy”: to provide jobs, to help small businesses, to make taxes bearable, to “fix” healthcare. Each person was disappointed and angry.

Some of these people I knew and some I didn’t recognize, but in my dream, they came to me to voice their discontent. From there, they traveled to Trump Tower in NYC since Trump was hiding out there instead of living and working in the White House.

In the first dream, a small crowd was gathering around the doors of the building, all yelling, “Let us in!” “We want to talk to you!” “You promised us!” “You lied to us!”

In each subsequent dream, the crowd grew and grew. By the final dream (and I haven’t had the dream for many weeks now–not since Inauguration Day), the crowd filled the streets around Trump Tower, and spilled to fill all the surrounding blocks–as big as the crowds resisting on the day after his inauguration. Everyone was yelling: “You lied to us!” “You lied to us!” “You promised!” “You promised!”

I believe that many many people who voted against Hillary already feel this way–I believe voter regret will be bigger in the next four years than it has EVER been. There will be those who blindly believe he’s making America great again, if they don’t look at the repercussions of his edicts and appointments. However, I’m afraid my dream is well on its way to seeing the light of day. I’m worried for this country, but we will keep on keeping on.

 

What can we do?

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Today, the country is in an uproar, as it should be, about Trump’s executive order and travel ban.

One suggestion that has been made, if Trump requires Muslim registration–like Jewish registration in Nazi Germany–like Japanese registration here during WWII–that we should ALL register as Muslims.

Here’s an article addressing the possibility. I think you can click it and enlarge it.

I’m ready to join my Muslim friends in this way if our country comes to this.

 

While I’m at it, read IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE by Sinclair Lewis, written in the late 30s. The man was a visionary.  Read it!

More Bob Feller, etc.

Today, I came upon this article by Bill Livingston, journalist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Since I discovered Bill in a recorded interview about Bob Feller, while doing research for my historical novel, I have followed Livingston’s sports reporting. His voice is fresh, honest, and reads like a captivating short story. Every time. I’ve become a fan. And I like baseball, but for the first time, I’ve laughed out loud reading about the Cleveland Cavaliers, for example.

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So…the article links to a series of photos of Bob Feller. I’ve included three of them here, just because I’ve been such a big Bob Feller fan. You can see more at the link above. My Bob Feller “Rapid Robert” fandom has grown even more while doing research about Feller to create the character Grant O’Grady, title character in my book Slider’s Son, who idolizes Bob Feller.

Bob got drafted right out of high school to pitch for the Cleveland Indians. Grant, a 13-year-old pitcher wants to be the next Bob Feller more than anything in the world.

Here’s Bob’s high-kick wind-up.

signing-ballsHere’s Bob Feller with young fans.

 

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And here’s Bob showing a hold on the ball for a pitch, I assume.

And this one is of Feller with his wife and sons. He’s holding the catcher’s mitt his dad used when Bob pitched to him as a kid. I love it.

All these photos are used from the Cleveland Plain Dealer wire services, on the site linked above, and from the Dennis Goldstein collection.

Teaching, (and aging early as a result), and the rewards

My friend and former student, Corey Taube just posted on Facebook:

teacher-stressedHAHAHA.

This is SO true for the last two weeks, while I grade research papers and stress trying to get everything done for everybody at the end of the semester.  I feel ancient and exhausted.

I have had some moments of pulling my hair out, but I’ve also had some moments where I’m reduced to tears over the beauty of a student-crafted argument in a final research paper.

Then. I just read this one.

I am sitting in awe for a moment. This semester, as usual, my Composition class read “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon. The narrator in this book is on the Autism Spectrum. One girl in my class who had several mental health diagnoses in the past (Borderline personality disorder, bulimia, ADD, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety), recognized herself in the protagonist’s characteristics. She committed herself to a mental health facility and asked to be tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Bingo. Her self-diagnosis was spot-on.

THEN, she did her research paper on the misdiagnosis of women on the Autism Spectrum. I just read it. It’s beautiful. It’s far more than I expect from a freshman research paper. It’s beautifully done, crafted, and supported with serious research material. Women, more socialized as girls to respond emotionally, learn to mask their symptoms, and withdraw in social settings instead of acting out, and don’t get recognized as being on the Autism Spectrum. Those who are functional and intelligent students get by in every way…and sometimes diagnoses don’t happen until twenties or later.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I’m stunned and grateful, and as much as the picture above is true, this is one of those moments when teaching is far, far, far-and-away worth every painful moment of fatigue.

Slider’s Son! And is anyone else sick of paranormal…?

Slider’s Son will be published September 2017.is

I wish my agent George Nicholson were alive to see this happen. He “loved” this manuscript when he read it, and that meant the world to me since he never used that term with my other novels, although he certainly championed them.

I’m getting my ducks in a row–wait, no, I’m not getting them in a row yet, but I’m herding them toward rows–for publication in ten months. That means setting up some book events and making myself available for young writers’ conferences and book fairs, libraries, schools, and, and, and…and it means lots of work, which is exciting work and fun work. I love doing book events.

However, it also means lots of social media time and online promotion. THAT I’m not such a big fan of. But I’ll do it. I’m delighted that North Star Press promotes its own authors’ events. That gives me great hope. I’m excited to publish this book with them.

The BEST news right now is that I found out last week that I will be receiving a Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Grant (PLRAG) Mid-Career Artist Grant to help promote this book!  I’m excited. And GRATEFUL!

Okay, besides the excitement,  I sat down to write here because I just followed a thread of a YA book promotional publicity group, thinking ahead to that social media aspect of publication. EVERY, and I mean EVERY book in the top thread was paranormal romance, time travel, or dystopian. A few dozen books down, I found one realistic-fiction romance book. Is anybody else sick of paranormal romance and dystopia? I really do love historical fiction. That’s what I love to read, and that’s why I wanted to write Slider’s Son, based on true stories, but set in the 1930s. I’m following my own passion, and it’s not the trend right now, but that’s okay!

Okay, that’s my vent for the night. In spite of the vent, I really am EXCITED to have Slider’s Son out in the world!

Happy Birthday Freya!

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Happy Birthday, Freya!

Yesterday was Freya’s birthday. It was Soooo HOT that she refused to move from the basement after our initial early morning walk. I gave her a frozen raw bone from the butcher, and that was her birthday treat. She seemed to make the most of it, even in the basement.

 

 

It was an eventful day. Nikki and Tom and Alec and Lia left our house for their Calgary, Alberta adventure. After a delightful four-day visit, it was TOUGH to see them go.

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Lia and Freya

 

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So, after waving them out the driveway and drying my eyes, I got in touch with my friend Paul and saddled up for a 43 mile bike ride. Best way to avoid the blues that I know! It was, however, in the 90s and HUMID, so we were dripping wet by ten miles in. The heat made a bit of a challenge, but cycling moves the air, so I never notice the heat as much on my bike as off. Paul and I had much fun, as always.

Paul and me 8.10.1613886467_1081043135276460_1618886200407948600_n

 

Got some other work done, and then saddled up again to go on the Nicollet Bike Women’s Ice Cream ride. I figured that’s usually a leisurely paced, no-drop ride, so I could do it in spite of an earlier ride. Well, we moved right along and split into a couple groups, and I dropped a sweaty water bottle–fell right through my fingers–but Emma retrieved it, and all was good. Mom and Pop’s Ice Cream is, as always, a delightful way to end a hot, fun ride. . Good friends, good fun. https://www.facebook.com/nicolletbikeshop/photos/a.495357077178405.1073741826.139081836139266/1081043135276460/?type=3

 

Then, last night, I was sorting boxes from my basement in the Rapidan house. I found pictures of Nikki and me as toddlers. Here’s a rather delightful comparison:

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baby Nik and LiaI’m on the left. Nikki’s in the middle, and Lia’s on the right (taken two days ago). I guess there’s a little resemblance. It’s fun to see three generations carrying on. Nikki in the middle, by the way, is also playing with a tea set. Ha.

 

All said and done, what a good life.

This morning I went to the eye doctor, and the only problems are normal problems with aging. Nothing concerning. And with a new appreciation for life, I’m happy to have eye aging problems. It’s so much better than the alternative, which could have been mine!

 

Some news, Reflecting…and some wedding pictures

_MG_8303 Reflections on getting married and life in the last couple months… The big news is about my novel Slider’s Son. It looks like it’s going to get PUBLISHED in 2017! So before I launch into that explanation, which is a long story, I owe you a few wedding pics…

First of all, this is our gang. Tom and me with our kids and grandchildren.

Left to right:

Ashley holding Charlotte, Chase in Dusty’s arms, Kari, Ben, Tom, me holding Lia, Josh, Emily, Alec who doesn’t want his picture taken, Tom, and Nikki. Tom’s offspring are on the left side of the photo, and mine are on the right. What a terrific crew of kids. Ashley had the idea to dress the girls the same and the boys the same. Turned out ADORABLY in my opinion.

So, getting married the year I turn 60. Some might think it’s nuts, but to us, it feels just right. Secure, solid, content. We’ve been together so long, there are no questions about trust or if we can make it work. We just want to make one secure home (instead of two) for ourselves and for kids and grandkids to visit. It’s good. We like this.

Laughing, ceremonyWe had a good time at the super-informal ceremony outside in our backyard.

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And of course, Freya was our flower girl, thanks to Kirstin providing her with a wreath-collar! True to form, Tom didn’t leave his shirt on long after the ceremony ended.

It’s been a busy summer, the garden is bursting at its seams (with vegetables AND with weeds), and school starts in a couple weeks. I am happy, happy, happy to have survived an aneurysm and to be alive!

Oh, yeah, my name is now Becky Brooks, but I’ll still use Rebecca Fjelland Davis as my writing name. Just FYI.

Whew. And thinking of Muhammad Ali

This has been one heckofa month of my life. High highs (wow!), a big disappointment or two, but mostly, life is REALLY good.  In the next blog post, I’ll have information about some of these happenings that I don’t have time to dive into right now. But it started with the trip to Missouri for the filming of Chasing AllieCat and just this past weekend, Tom and I got MARRIED! It’s been sort of a whirlwind. But a good one. More on all that soon.

Right now, however, I want to show you this article. Davis Miller is my friend. He knew Muhammad Ali personally, and he wrote extensively about him. I loved his book, The Tao of Muhammad Ali, and I’m not really even a boxing fan. The book was what one might call transcendent. It transcended being about Davis or being about boxing or exclusively about Ali. It was about how we connect with other humans, and how our shared stories–personally as well as in literature–allow us to recognize our connections. Weirdly, Davis’ Great Pyrenees died shortly after Ali did. There’s something karmic about that, and the loss felt that way to Davis. Anyway, this article captures the relationship, and does homage to both men and to their friendship. It’s worth reading.

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2016/06/08/muhammad-ali-friendship0608_Davis-miller-ali-624x653

A Muslim at Prom

30prom-web1-master768A Muslim Prom Queen

YES! I’m so excited to read this article about a girl who was voted prom queen, wearing her hijab and all.

I have written a novel about a romance between a Muslim boy and a Lutheran/Christian girl. Titled Who the Frack is Maddie Jackson?, it’s under consideration as I write this. I’m hoping to find a new agent, since George Nicholson died.

I have done tons of research, spent hours talking with my Muslim students, and I feel I’ve portrayed the relationship honestly. I worried that no Muslim teen would get permission to go to prom, but HERE is proof that what I imagined can happen. I am so happy to read this today. Thanks, Trisha Speed Shaskan, for posting the article so I saw it!