What’s going on with wedding receptions these days?
My husband and I were apparently married in a bygone era, the pre-YouTube era. Consequently, our bridesmaids and groomsmen did not choreograph dances, put on a ballet, or produce a Broadway musical during our reception for the entertainment of our guests. I would never have asked them to do so. And, it wouldn’t have occurred to them.
Now, the newly engaged search YouTube for what’s “traditional” at wedding receptions. Because if it’s “traditional,” it must be on YouTube, right? And, if the newly engaged believe the videos online, then an important part of the reception is the “Introduction of the Bridal Party” who are called out by name and title by a DJ, as if he were introducing contestants on the Price is Right.
“Introducing the Mother of the Bride! Mary Smith, come on down!” yells the DJ as music booms loudly in the background.
The members of the bridal party then enter the room in pairs or individually, dancing into the room possibly with props, to the applause of the gathered guests. Sometimes, the entire wedding party then gets together and performs a choreographed dance number for the watching crowd. Based on YouTube, this is a required duty of the bridal party and an important part of entertaining the guests. The bridal party had better be ready to put on a show.
Not having been involved in any weddings recently, I had no idea that this practice had become so ubiquitous. Back when I got married, the bridesmaids went to showers, paid for a dress, showed up at the wedding, and posed for pictures. The maid of honor and best man had a few other duties as well: giving speeches and planning parties. So, when asked to be a bridesmaid recently, I said yes, not knowing that I would be receiving instructions on choosing an appropriate song for my grand entrance, selecting props and/or costume items, and, of course, choreographing my dance moves.
I have never aspired to be on Broadway or dance in musical theater. I have two left feet and no sense of rhythm. The ballroom dance class I took in college taught me quickly that my ability to see a dance step and then copy it was almost nonexistent. Imagine my shock when I received my instructions.
So of course, I told the bridal couple that my husband wasn’t willing to do any of that stuff. He’s a required member of the wedding party, so I threw him under the bus. The bride was surprised, but understanding. Having carefully studied YouTube, she hadn’t realized that bridal parties haven’t always danced into the reception. It never occurred to her that we didn’t know that entertaining the crowd with a dance routine was a duty of the bridal party.
In days past, I remember the bride and groom being introduced as they came to do their first dance. No one bothered to introduce the entire bridal party. Bridal parties didn’t do choreographed dances and post them online in the pre-YouTube era, that bygone era, before 2005.
N. M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her debut novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).
[Forgive me. This post is longer than I intended, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I had no idea I’m so enlightened. If you stop reading before the end, I’ll forgive you. But you’ll miss the good part.]
My husband once told me that when I tell stories, I should start with the headline. So here it is.
My CT scan twelve months after completing radiation treatments was clear.
The first time I posted about having cancer, I said I would write about the experience. I am a writer, I said, soI will write, or words to that effect.
The statement dripped with drama. You can practically hear the rolling r‘s: I will wr-r-r-r-r-r-ite.
Such overstatement is normal. We newbie writers are always trying to reassure ourselves. We’re just starting out, we haven’t published much (or anything at all), we don’t make a living from writing* (we may make nothing at all), we ‘re not confident in our abilities, and–let’s face it–much of what we write stinks (and we don’t know it stinks until a member of a critique group tells us).
Established writers encourage us: If you write, you are a writer. Believe it. Say you’re a writer.
We believe it until someone asks what we do. Then we either clam up; shuffle our feet, look at the floor, and mumble, I’m a wmbrl; or declare, too loudly, I’m a WRITER. Then we blush and shuffle our feet.
After publishing the aforementioned post, I re-read it, then blushed and shuffled my feet. I’m been shuffling ever since.
But moving on:
When I said I would write, I probably had the idea I would learn secrets of the universe and share them in capital letters and red ink.
But I’ve had no mystical experiences. Altogether, it’s been mostly humdrum. But I’ve learned a few things about myself, and about life in general, and I’ll share those:
Chemotherapy isn’t the same for everyone. I went around saying the side effects were mild. When I’d been off the evil drug for a month or two, I realized I had felt pretty rotten. Still, I was lucky. It wasn’t that bad. Surgery wasn’t difficult either. Radiation was nothing: I showed up for twenty consecutive days, let the techs admire my cute socks, and went home. That was it. Lucky.
Being complimented on my taste in socks makes me feel good. The radiation techs liked the ninjas and the cats wearing glasses the best. The oncologist asked what the ninjas were; I had to tell him I didn’t know. One of the techs told me. I don’t know why the oncologist was looking at my socks.
I have no vanity. Hats and turbans were hot. I tossed them, went around bald, and discovered my head, just like Hercule Poirot’s, is egg-shaped.
It’s possible to survive for months on Rice Krispies, as long as you don’t run out of sugar.
If you don’t drink enough water, you keel over in the oncologist’s office, where you went just to check that great big lymph node that popped up under your jaw, and end up in the hospital. If your temperature doesn’t go down, the night nurse comes in and jerks your three blankets off, and you spend the night under a thin little sheet, slowly turning into an icicle, but your temperature goes down. (That’s opposite to the way my mother did it, but whatever.) They call in a specialist in communicable diseases who orders tests, and when you ask the nurse what they found, she comes bopping in about midnight and says, “Guess what! You have the common cold.” And she’s so sweet and so cute, you feel bad about nearly (deliberately) knocking her off the bed while she was trying to do that nasal swab.
Airports have wheelchairs. Thinking you can get from gate to gate without one is dumb. Don’t try it.
Chemo brain is real. At present I am dumb as dirt, and not in the way mentioned above. I picked up a brochure about chemo brain at the clinic and, I am proud to say, was able to read (most of) it with my forty-five-year-old Spanish. Because I knew what it said before I picked it up: It’s real, don’t worry, talk to your family/friends/counselor/minister/doctor/whoever and tell them to get used to it, make a habit of writing-things-down-putting-your-keys-in-the-same-place-when-you’re-not-using-them-everything-you-ought-to-be-doing-now-anyway, and it’ll go away, maybe. I may have missed a couple of points. If I ever want to know what they are, I’ll google.
Chemo hair is curly. I knew it would be curlier than before, but it is c u r l y. I’m tempted to get it buzzed off again.
TRIGGER WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AUDIENCES: When a twelve-year-old flat-chested surgeon you have to see because your surgeon went on vacation–my doctors always go on vacation–insists you must wear a sports bra and says, “We’re going to get you out of that pretty lacy bra,” do not hold back. Tell her that pretty lacy bra is made of cast iron, and that all the bras you’ve ever had since like 1962 have been made of cast iron, and that sports bras might as well be made of spider webs, and she can take a long walk off a short pier. You’ll feel a lot better if you say that. I would have felt a lot better if I had.
The kindness of strangers is real. When they see a woman with no hair, they understand what’s going on. Women wearing turbans whisper, “Good luck.” People smile. If you wobble a bit, they run to prop you up and offer to help you get wherever you’re going. I didn’t have to take them up on the offers–my wobbling, like my reaction to chemo, was mild–but I appreciated every one of them. Mr. Rogers’ mother told him when things got scary, to “look for the helpers.” She was right. They’re out there.
In addition to boosting your immune system, a smile can lift your spirits. It’s good for your doctors, nurses, and everyone else in the clinic as well. Oncologists don’t have it easy. They need all the support they can get.
According to my radiation oncologist, cancer is now a chronic disease. But in one way it’s the same as it was when I was a child: It’s kept under wraps. The word isn’t whispered as it was then, but it isn’t spoken too loudly. That’s one reason I didn’t cover my head. The topic needs to be brought out into the open. People need to see.
On the other hand, a little denial can be a good thing. And it can be balanced with acceptance.
I didn’t fall apart when told my prognosis, including the average length of survival. I’d always wondered what I would do under those circumstances, and now I know. That time, at least.
Most important, and over and over, I learned that David is good. Not a good husband, or a good man, but good. I knew it when I married him. Every day, he proves me right.
Finally, I learned something else I already knew: There isn’t enough time. We all know it, but the knowledge carries more weight for some of us than for others.
I think of Andrew Marvell:
Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, Lady, were no crime…. But at my back I always hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity.
And of Keats:
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
My brain isn’t teeming, and certainly not at the level of a Keats, but I would like to write more than I have. I’d like to do a number of things I won’t have time–would never have had time–to do. Time’s winged chariot is following close. Still, I commit the crime of wasting what I should spend. The post I wrote last month about playing Candy Crush is not fiction. But…
The next CT scan comes in March. Till then, I’ll write what I can, do what I can, and say what Anne Lamott calls little beggy prayers.
In other words, I’ll go on with life as usual.
The Usual photograph is detail from a statue of Angelina Eberly, the “Savior of Austin,” that stands at the corner of 6th Street and Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas. In 1842, following the Texas Revolution, Sam Houston sent Texas Rangers to Austin to remove the government archives to Washington-on-the-Brazos, where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed (and very near the town of Houston). Houston claimed Austin was too vulnerable to Indian attack for the documents to be safe there.
Angelina and other residents of Austin, the capital of the Republic of Texas, claimed Houston was stealing the records because he wanted to make the city of Houston the capital. Angelina knew Sam Houston didn’t like Austin; he made no secret of his dislike, and while president of the Republic, had lived at her inn instead of at the official residence. The fact that the Rangers came under cover of darkness gave more credence to the her view.
When Angelina heard the Texas Rangers up to no good, she hurried to 6th and Congress and fired off the town cannon. She missed the Rangers but blew the side off the General Land Office building. Noise from the cannon alerted the populace, who came running and scared off the Rangers.
Thanks to Angelina Eberly, Austin remained the capital of the Republic of Texas, and is capital of the State of Texas to this day.
The statue of Angelina Eberly was sculpted by cartoonist Pat Oliphant. The accompanying plaque attributes Austin’s continued status as Texas’ most premier city to Angelina’s combination of “vigilance and hot temper.”
*Stephen King makes a living by writing. Danielle Steel makes a living by writing. Mary Higgins Clark makes a living by writing. Agatha Christie made a whale of a living by writing. Other writers either have a day job or have won the lottery.
Literature does have its purpose. If you doubt it, see my post on Telling the Truth, Mainly: “A Mind Unhinged.” It isn’t as long as this one.
Ah yes, Mark Twain. “Huckleberry Finn”, “Tom Sawyer” and so many more stories this man, born Samuel Clemens, wrote for the world to experience. Ernest Hemingway once wrote of “Huckleberry Finn” that ‘modern American literature came from that one book’.
There are many who admire his work, others who wonder what the fuss if about. We each have our opinions about his work. I personally always loved “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and “The Prince and the Pauper”.
There are many reasons to like Mark Twain, but for me it is more a sense of understanding of the area he grew up in. I myself grew up about an hour from Hannibal Missouri, where Twain spent his childhood. The Mississippi River was a major part of my early years, much like his. While I didn’t work on a river boat, I did spend many a day boating on the river, fishing and swimming. He even spent time in Keokuk, Iowa just across the bridge from Illinois, my home state. He helped his brother Orion Clemens put out the Keokuk Journal.
There is something about mid-west sensibilities that Twain tapped into and enhanced in his chronicling of the human condition. I think that may be the part I admire most. He tried and was unsuccessful at jobs until he found his calling. While he had his critics and still does, his observations and ability to make you laugh while making you think is still as relevant today as it was in his time.
As you know I love reading. It is one of my favorite things to do. There is nothing as satisfactory as losing yourself in a book. For me reading a good book can turn hours into minutes. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started a book at 8pm and then stayed up until 2a to finish it.
So it is probably no surprise that I get a little thrill when I find new book I’ve been waiting for on the library shelf. Actually, since I don’t pay much attention to when an author has a new book coming out I like it even better when I happened upon a new book by my favorite author. Seriously, it can turn a ho hum what shall I read trip the library into a wish I had a self driving car so I could start reading on the ride home.
As much as I love discovering new authors there is something so comforting about reading a book with familiar characters. Or if the author doesn’t do a series, it is the joy of reading someone who can make you laugh, or cry. Whose words jump off the page at you and encourage you to stay up way past your bedtime reading that final chapter.
Of course, on that rare occasion you get a book that is a dud. For whatever reason, your favorite author has let you down. Maybe the plot didn’t work for you, or this time that little quirk the main character has isn’t that charming (perhaps it reminds you of an annoying co worker), it’s downright irritating.
Sometimes this can be remedied by putting the book in a time out. Other times it is necessary to skip the end and call it a day. There is always another book on the pile.
I have a condition (completely made up) that prevents me from reading a recipe from start to finish. I don’t know why, but I’ll start reading the ingredient list, and if it is more than 7 items long I start to skim the rest of the ingredients. And, you have no idea how much trouble 2 column recipes have caused. My eyes/attention just don’t last long enough for 2 columns!
It is the same with the actual steps to make the recipe. If they are long an complicated, or over max 5 steps long. I simply stop reading. Which means I miss crucial steps like say “chill for X amount of time”.
I have apparently passed this trait on to my daughter. Yesterday, I planned on making pancakes for supper, but my daughter wanted to do it. She had a recipe for cinnamon roll pancakes that she wanted to try out.
It was a basic pancake recipe (flour, sugar, wet stuff) but it had a “filling” of brown sugar, cinnamon and butter, that needed to chill for at least 20 min. Kid started making pancakes 15min before we wanted to eat them. She’d missed this step completely. OOPS!
It turned out okay, we simply made a cinnamon brown sugar mixture to sprinkle on the pancakes before we flipped them. They turned out absolutely delicious. A happy accident to be sure.
Happy Autumn, or as I like to call it Pumpkin Spice day. The day when every other flavor dies and pumpkin spice becomes the only flavor available until the peppermint mocha days of December.
I like pumpkin spice the way God intended, in a pie. I don’t want it in my cheerios, oreos or coffee.
Other than the over abundance of pumpkin spice, I love fall. I think it is such a romantic season, with the trees all ablaze in color; plus darkness falling early means candles (and who doesn’t look their best in the glow of a candle?). Not to mention the cooler weather is perfect for snuggling under a blanket with someone special or your favorite book.
I don’t even mind that my garden is almost at its end. After a really long, hot summer I am happy to be released from watering duty. Also, I am already looking forward to next year’s garden.
And, most importantly fall is the start of knitting season. Yes, I knit during summer, but not as often, some days it was just too hot to be handling wool. Plus, I can start wearing all my knit items again.
This past weekend my oldest daughter volunteered in a face painting booth during our city’s annual Cornfest—yes, it is just what it sounds like a celebration of sweet corn.
The event is held at a local park, it has a nice little craft/shopping area, a cute little petting zoo, the obligatory carnival and the “Kiddie Corner”. Now, the Kiddie Corner is where the face painting booth is located along with other fun “kiddie” stuff like a bouncy house and a mini golf.
Here is the problem. I told my daughter that the booth was in Kiddie Corner, and she took it to mean a literal “corner”, so when I dropped her off at the gates she started looking for a booth that was in a corner.
Needless, to say after two laps around the Cornfest she still hadn’t found her booth and she was mad (did I mention that it was lightly sprinkling? So she was a mad, wet teenager). She called me to help her find the booth.
I met her at the entrance and we started looking for the booth. Within two feet I spotted the kiddie corner and the face painting booth in all its glory. She’d walked by that booth at least twice and didn’t see it. Most likely because the booth itself wasn’t in a corner, and it didn’t fit the picture she had in her head. And, how many of us are guilty of this? Allowing an image we have in our head hold us back or prevent us from going forward?
I hugged my wet, grouchy (the I had to ask my mom for help kinda grouchy) and left her to paint faces.
I love school supply time. Okay, so I don’t love having to purchase an entire warehouse full of supplies, but I do love the idea of all those fresh new notebooks, pencils and yes, even tubes of glue. There is so much promise in all those lovely blank notebooks. They are just waiting to be filled.
And, what could be better than a box of freshly sharpened color pencils. We have an entire container of now dull colored pencils. Yes, we have multiple pencil sharpeners, but who wants to stand there sharpening a pile of pencils!
When the kids were smaller and still did art projects and coloring I would love the sound of them sifting through the crayon/colored pencils looking for the perfect crayon. In order to be perfect it had to be the right color and it had to be sharpened or at least not worn down to a dull nub.
One of my daughters refused to use the “nakedy” crayons, those that had no wrapper, she didn’t like how the crayon felt in her hand.
As the kids get older their school supply lists change from crayons, markers and colored pencils to loose leaf paper, post it notes and binders. There is nothing fun about purchasing 15 black 3” three ring binders.
I might just have to pick up a box of colored pencils and an adult coloring book just for myself. How about you, do you love new supplies?
I’m there. Just about ready to send my manuscript in. I have five small corrections and then it’s off to the publisher. I had sent DECTECTIVE RULES to this particular publisher before and she wrote back that she thought it was very funny and loved the PI’s POV, BUT, she didn’t like the main character that much. Say what?
She went on to explain that she understood that he was a new and inexperienced private investigator but she read him more as incompetent than inexperienced, doing things no PI would do. She thought it’s hard to root for a character like that. That was the first time I had received that note. Could she be right? I decided that since she felt this way, other readers, maybe not all, would agree with her.
The publisher offered me a Revise and Resubmit. She forwarded me detailed notes of her concerns and was most encouraging. I agreed and dove right in. As I made the changes she had suggested I found that I wasn’t happy with other scenes and chapters. I had written the draft she read 2-3 years ago and felt that I had become a better writer since then. (I have written a novella and ¾ of another novella, plus numerous short stories after Detective Rules.)
What I thought would be a quick fix became an almost total rewrite. Most of the action was the same but after reworking it, the dialogue became crisper and truer, not forced as it had felt before. The whole process took nearly a year. I sent the publisher humorous updates along the way to let her know I was still working on it. She sent back nice emails and kept saying, “No hurry. Send it when you think it’s ready. “
Now it’s ready. With one click of a button it will be out of my hands. I don’t know if the publisher will like the changes, or even the rest of the story as she hadn’t read the whole book. But I do know that it’s a much better novel with her notes and inspiration and if she doesn’t want to buy it, there are more publishers out there. (But let’s hope she does.)
I’m glad I’m finally done with DETECTIVE RULES as I’m that at that point where I can’t read it anymore. I have my doubts that anyone will like it. All the negative thoughts have invaded my mind. Time to set it free.
What to do now? On to the next project…Convert my novella, The Mindreading Murders to a full novel.
Where are you on your writing project?
Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not –An Unreliable Anthology. His short story, Seth’s Big Move has been accepted in the LAst Resort put out by the LA Sisters in Crime in April 2017. He is expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel. He’s just finished the latest draft of his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner. http://www.stephenbuehler.com
My son is taking an Avid class this summer. Today they had a lively discussion about whether or not it is good to be bored. I asked him what position he took in the debate, and he said he took the position that it isn’t good to be bored. My mother happened to be visiting today and she pointed out that when she was a kid, saying you were bored ensured that you got the nastiest chore your mother could find…consequently you were “never” bored.
As a reader/daydreamer/people watcher/crafter who never has enough time to do the fun things she likes to do I said that I didn’t think you could ever be bored. There is ALWAYS something to do.
The kids were not impressed with my line of reasoning. My middle daughter said she thought it was possible to bored in school and that if you were bored it was a failure on the teacher’s part.
So what do you think? As an adult are you bored? Do you agree that boredom in school is a teacher problem or is it a kid problem?