Tag Archives: memories

Open Letter To My Son–Part 2

26 Apr

Dear Pat,

Remember when I took you across Bucharest, on a beautiful September morning, for your first day of school? The bouquets of flowers, the loud kids and their parents, the gray and white building called Liceul Aurel Vlahuta that was your home for 1st and 2nd grade? Remember the wooden bench and the black board, Frau and the twins who became your best friends?

Remember when we moved to the States and the second day after our arrival, Grandma and Aunt Cathy took us to Manitas Elementary School to enroll you in 3rd grade, barely speaking any English? Remember how brave you were every morning, backpack slanted on your shoulder and off you went? Miss Hebert, who could’ve won Teacher of The Year Award, and Miss Calleros who we both hated for a whole year in 5th grade?

Remember when you started middle school at Pueblo, and how much you struggled with math, but thanks to Mrs. Segerson you actually started to like it? Remember the bullies and how we talked every night about how to handle them? Remember how you had a crush on girls I won’t name here, but how we laughed reading Calvin and Hobbes?

Remember starting high school at Corona del Sol, your first day afraid seniors will play pranks on you as they did with all freshmen? Remember the friends you made and the people you avoided? Remember the cafeteria and the disgusting pizza you ate? Remember your first car and your first kiss and your first heartbreak? Remember Miss Glick and her daring to-read-list?

Remember your first day at Arizona State University, our coffee run that morning before first class in W. P Carey International School of Business? Remember my pestering you to stay on top of your homework, asking endless questions and checking your grades? Remember our lunches?

Remember when I told you it will get better, nothing lasts forever and you will get there? Well, dear Patty Cakes, you are there. You are at the end of your student life and about to start your career.

Make the best out of it and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from success. May this new chapter be what you want it to be, nothing more, nothing less!

Love,

Mom

Open Letter To My Son–Part 1

25 Apr

Dear Patrick,

It’s been a long time coming and now that it is so close, emotions and memories run wild like spiffed toreadors chased by a herd of bulls … tumultuous and raw overwhelming my heart.

Sixteen years of homework, studying, successes and failures, tests and grades, friends and bullies, good teachers and not so good ones, semesters and breaks, all coming to an end. Sixteen years of early mornings, sleepovers and drop offs. Sixteen years of classes, projects and subjects, one by one plating a seed of knowledge and another piece of puzzle in the map of your life. Sixteen years of hopes, anxieties, concerns and perseverance, always pushing forward no matter the obstacle, no matter how hard.

Sixteen years since you entered through the doors of public education for the first time, coming to an end on Thursday when the bell will ring for the last time in your life as a student. A chapter will close and another one will start. A door will close and others will open. Through all of it we loved you, taught you to the best of your abilities and saw you become a strong, healthy and responsible individual. Couldn’t been prouder of your achievements!

Thank you for being the kid you were and for the man you became, Pat! Thank you for allowing us to stand by you through all of it, good and bad, and for never giving up, always chasing after your dreams. The key of your future is in your hands now, enjoy the ride!

Love,

Mom and Dad

When the past haunts your present

22 Oct

“Why do you need two mascaras? They are identical,” I told Lumi, my sister the other day while at the mall.

“Cuz,” she said, moving to the next shelf and grabbing two bottles of shampoo. “When ones ends, I have another one handy.”

“But you can also go to the store and buy one when you run out of it, right?”

“That too, but I feel better having an extra one, for when time comes.”

I could’ve continued to argue with Lumi that buying two mascaras is a waste of money, potentially a waste of product if she’d have it stored for too long and it would dry out. Or chose to drop it, which I did because if anyone knows my sister, they also know, no one has ever won an argument with her. Like everrrrr. But I kept an eye on her and her buying habits and, at the end of the day I realized she has a problem: buying several of the same products, never just one.

giphy

I know curiosity killed the cat (they say; I for one never seen a cat killed by that), but I had to know why, so after a day on our feet, and being 110% convinced my arms lengthen by at least a few inches because of all the bags we’ve carried, I teased Lumi, over a banana & nut blizzard, that maybe she needs help with her impulsive buying disorder.

Licking a spoonful of her ice cream, Lumi responded, “Do you remember living back home, in Romania? Do you remember the shortage on everything, the ratio food, the empty shelves and when they weren’t empty, the little that was there was of such bad quality that no one wanted it? Do you remember any of that?”

“I do, but what has that to do with the fact that you pack now like a squirrel on steroids?”

“It has everything to do with it,” Lumi said, lifting briefly her brown eyes at me, brown that when the sun shines, turns to green. “Communism scarred me. I used to tell myself if I ever have money and the possibility to live somewhere else, I will never go hungry, be cold, walk in bad shoes or wear terrible clothing. I used to tell myself I will never have nothing, but will have everything. And that to me means buy at least two of each product. It makes me feel . . . safe, covered, protected somehow.”

I laughed. “You definitely need a therapist.”

Later on when I got home, I unpacked my shopping bags and the more bags I emptied, the more I realized . . . I’m in the same boat as Lumi! I do buy at least two of the same product. I went to my closet, to my drawers, to my pantry and everywhere I looked, I found more and more proofs that I too am a shopaholic.

shopping

And it got me thinking: am I crazy? Who in their right mind buys two of the same dress/shoes—not even in a different color, which might be an excuse, right? Why am I doing this?

Lumi’s earlier words came to mind and somehow they opened a flood of memories from my childhood back home in Romania. The constant fear of authorities, the poisoned indoctrination the Communist Party shoved down everyone’s throat but also the poverty . . . the constant hunger . . . the smothering feeling . . . the emptiness and helplessness I felt on a daily basis, with no hope things would get better.

And yet a lot has changed since then. I lived more than half my life under freedom and democracy, and for the past 13 years I made the U.S. my home, the best country ever (no offense, world!). A lot of the things I had witnessed/experienced during my life in Romania and under communism are just that, things from the past, a past I prefer not to remember too often for it mostly brings sad/bad memories. I also know that some of those things left scars and made me into the person that I am today. And I think for the most part I accept everything, except I would rather blame communism for my buying disorder (the other option would be to confess I pack like a squirrel on steroids and the image is not very appealing…).

giphy-1

Happy Dog Day!

26 Aug

As a kid I feared dogs and loved cats. I lost count how many times I got in trouble (to be read: butt too tender to sit on) for hiding cats under my bed or feed them milk from my own bowl. Let’s not go there, but go back to dogs because as I grew older, dogs no longer scared me, and I totally swapped camps: dogs rock! 

bella collage1

I know people love their pets and think of them as family members, so no one would think of me as crazy when I say Bella, my pooch is my daughter, right? She has two birthdays: one when her mommy gave birth  to her–April 22, and one when she became mine–August 8, and we’ve been together ever since, 14 years to be exact. A white fur ball with black button nose and coffee-bean eyes, a goofy personality and stubbornness galore, that’s my Bella, queen of the house, owner of the backyard and our hearts.

I have so many stories about her from the time she was a puppy chewing all shoes left unattended, to playing hide-and-seek, to learning tricks only if rewarded with popcorn, to falling in the pool, to hating being groomed, to eating dirt and the list can go on, but I will stop here. For a while I feared I won’t remember all the things she’d done, worried that once her time was up, time will dust her memories as it does will all our lives. Luckily I found a solution and added her to the “characters list” in my novel A World Apart; for as long as there will be books Bella will live on, not only touching my heart but that of anyone reading my book.

bella collage 2

I don’t think there is possible to love Bella more than I already do nor imagine a world without her, although I know her time with us will eventually come to an end. My biggest consolation is that I gave her a great life, took care of her, protected her, but above all: I loved her. Happy Dog Day, Bella!

bella4

One a rainy Friday April 13th, waaaay back when…

13 Apr

On a rainy April day way back my mom was born. But make no mistakes, that was no ordinary day; it was Friday and if that wasn’t enough, it was April 13th. Back home in my native Romania, Friday the 13th is a day you hide in your house and the only decisions you make is… what to eat and when to use the bathroom. If you don’t want his highness Bad Luck to find you, that is.

Going back to April 13th, the day my mom was born. I was told it was a gray and cold day, pouring rain starting at sunrise, a rain that didn’t end until the next day. After long hours of labor, through thunders and lightening Grandma said she heard a tiny voice screaming bloody murder coming from this baby, redder than a lobster and beating the air with her tiny arms.

She named the baby Stefania and, after a few days she took her home, but she never really made a connection with the baby and soon, she took her to her parents’s village and left her there for them to raise her. During Mom’s first seven years of her life, my grandma only visited her once when she was about three years old.

When Mom turned seven, Grandma uprooted her once more, this time taking her back to Bucharest. Fall came and Mom started first grade. Soon she was joined by a sister and a brother but for some reason my mom never felt love, never had a real connection with her mother.

Fast forward several years, my mom married my dad. Eventually they had their family, three daughters to be exact. I’m the middle one. Throughout her life my mom had always tried to be the mother her own mother never was: loving, protective, caring, forgiving, generous, supportive. She always was there for her girls, celebrating our successes and suffering along with us during our trials. But above all, she loved us unconditionally, with all she was, with all she had.

I resented my grandma for as long as I’ve known she never loved my mom the way every child should be loved by their parents. In some ways I always felt the need to love Mom that much more, trying in some ways to make up for the love she’d missed as a child. 

Life took me away from my parents, many many miles away. Today, when we celebrate my mom’s birthday I’m an ocean away but my heart and my spirit is right there, next to her wishing her from the bottom of my heart, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! Blessed to call you my mom and be loved by you! ❤

mama 2

The green blanket

25 Feb

Death scares me. Dead bodies scare me, a scare I’ve been living with ever since I saw my grandpa in a coffin. I was twelve at the time and still remember his stench, his body still, and decay distorting his face in ways for years I kept dreaming of.

The other day as I drank a cup of burnt coffee in the waiting room outside my nephew’s hospital room, a family walked in. From the conversation they had I understood that the older, limping woman just lost her husband. Her daughter and son held on both sides as she sat across the room, diagonally from me. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but being just them and myself in the room, crumbs of the conversation reached my hearing.

“You need to take better care of yourself, Mom,” the daughter sniffled.

“I will.” The woman sighed, looking down at her bony hands resting on her lap.

“You need to get out of the house, do something,” the son added.

The woman didn’t respond right away, staring at her fingernails as if she saw them for the first time. After a long exhale she said, “All these years, I’ve taken care of your father. I’ve stood by his side . . . Now he’s gone and I can live again. Maybe I’ll get that garden going. Maybe the library takes me back for volunteering. I have so many books I want to read. Or maybe I’ll travel. There are so many places I want to see . . . Or maybe I’ll have my hip replaced . . .”

“The pastor is here,” a hospital employee announced and the family followed her.

I remained in the waiting room, thinking about the widow, about the family left behind and how they coped with their loss. To the worries about my nephew’s life, somehow sadness snuck inside me. Hospitals—unless when a baby is born—aren’t happy places, and if I never step inside one, I won’t miss it.

I got up and stretched, walking down the hallway, my mind all over the place and nowhere in particular. I stopped at my nephew’s door to listen if he was awake, but he wasn’t, and so I continued my walk.

Patient’s rooms marked one side of the long hallway. Above some doors a red light signaled the occupant needed help. Nurses in colorful scrubs walked in an out, with either trays with meds or syringes peaking from their breast pockets. The other side of the hallway was reserved for offices some closed some open. Further down double glass doors lead to the ICU.

I turned to look at the ICU doors opening with a clicking sound. A nurse pushed a bed, a green blanket stretching over the entire bed. Underneath the blanket laid an obvious form of a body.

I froze in place, the memory of my dead grandpa flashing before me eyes. Walking right by me the nurse pushed the dead body, an emotionless smile plastered on her lips. She was doing nothing but her job, a job like any other job.

For a moment the urge to run strangled me, but fear crippled me, rooting me in that very spot. My own eyes refused to look elsewhere but at the motionless form beneath the green blanket. Feet, legs, protruding belly, shoulders, head, nose . . .

Life has never seemed so fleeting and fragile. One minute you’re here, the next gone. One minute you make plans, build memories, a family, love and work, and just as quick you become nothing more than an empty vessel covered with a green blanket.

I’m still here. Breathing, blinking, walking. And I’m still scared of death. I know it’s natural, irrevocable and part of the circle of life.

No one knows when we are sentenced to go, me included. But what I do know is that I want to live, feel every breath I take, every heartbeat, every tear and smile. Build a different kind of garden; read books, travel, work out, spend time with my parents. Go to happy hour with my girlfriends. Go on dates with my husband. Fall asleep resting on his shoulder. Watch Smallville with my son. See him become the man I raised him to be.

Because after all, life is fleeting and fragile.

PSYCHED– Juli Caldwell’s newest release

10 Jun
We start this week with my dear friend and awesome critique partner Juli Caldwell presenting us her latest release, PSYCHED. I absolutely love the cover.
Here is the deal: When Juli introduced our group to her story I literally was in awe struck by her abilities to be such an incredible narrator, mystery builder, character creator and tension designer. I warned her that if I start sleeping with the lights on because of her book she’ll be in doodoo. Well, once I finished the book, I turned them off, but I now leave the hallway nightlight on and HATE to go potty middle of the night afraid some damn demon lurks out there. I hope she’s proud of herself.
If I’d have to choose one word and one word only to describe this novel I’d say: gripping. But I wouldn’t do it justice because Juli wrote a novel that was much more than that: it was fascinating, thrilling, scary, intriguing, mysterious, detailed. For those of you loving suspense, paranormal, thriller mixed with a hint of romance this novel is definitely for you. For my full review click here.
And now, without further ado, I give you PSYCHED.

 
Cover Art by Morteque

You can find it on Amazon, and look for it soon in paperback!

So far, great reviews for Psyched!

This is one of those books you just can’t put down. What I
love about Psyched in addition to a great, spooky story is strong characters
and narrative voice. Aisi is the most awesome chick, strong-willed, sassy, and
deals with some crazy stuff happening with a spunkiness that I loved…
Psyched is well-written, riveting,
surprising and genre-busting. Teens will love this book, but it definitely has
a more wide-ranging appeal
.”
and…
Aisi Turay is one awesome girl. She
has power to see the dead…as in their souls…This is a great read, filled
with suspense. I NEVER knew from one chapter to the next what was happening. It
is well written and a very enjoyable…and a bit scary!

Psyched is part ghost story, part suspense, part demon-hunting thriller, part budding romance, the story of a girl named Aisi who’s doing her best to keep it together for her wreck of a family. She is smart, sassy, and sarcastic enough to keep things interesting. When she meets Vance on the single worst day of her life, she finds a guy who just might be the first person ever to get her, to believe in her, and to out-random her with bizarre observations at the worst possible moment. There’s just something about him that she knows she can trust.

Together, Aisi and Vance wander through the memories of others to unlock the secrets of her past while battling a demon who wants to ensure she never finds what she’s looking for. Aisi vanquishes demons all the time, but Malus Indolus is too strong. And he has plans for her…and her family.

Psyched is Juli’s second novel, the first as an indie writer,
and her first experiment with her true love as a reader: paranormal
fiction. Her debut novel Beyond Perfection is also available.

You can find Juli on her webpage, Twitter, Facebook,  and blog.