I might be crazy, but all the best writers are . . .

Some people think I just sat down one day and decided I was going to be a writer.  But it doesn’t work like that.  First I had to fall in love with the art of writing and storytelling.  Then I had to go out into the world, meet people, and do things.  Writers write what they know and I only know what I have done and what I have thought.  Writers decide life is important enough, strange enough, funny enough, and inspirational enough that they are going to write it down.  Sometimes I sit and write a whole bunch of nothing for hours and when I look up it is dark outside and I realize I have forgotten to eat dinner.  There might only be one or two good sentences in those four pages of nonsense but that’s more than I had when I started.  Some of the best stories start with random sentences born from nonsense.  Sometimes I stare at my computer screen or notebook and I think how will I ever publish anything because I have nothing to write about (the infamous writer’s block).  That usually goes away because in about ten minutes I have tripped over air or said something quirky to myself as if I’m a comedian.  I have small issues that I can blow up if I feel like it and sometimes I am a mess (physically or emotionally) and sometimes I am a crazy person.  Sometimes I laugh like a hyena.  Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry and I can’t breathe and I basically turn into a YouTube worthy disaster zone.  I get random hiccups that literally take my breath away and cause my life to flash before my eyes (did I mention I’m dramatic sometimes?)  Speaking of life flashing before your eyes, have you ever sneezed while driving? Basically the scariest moment ever, right? Wrong.  Scariest moment ever is driving the car while my mom sneezes in the passenger seat (I love you, Mom, but your sneeze is deafening and terrifying).  My sister is a goon and I could write several very large books about all of her shenanigans.  One time she made me laugh while I had lemonade in my mouth and I spit it all over her.  She used to try to teach me how to do cartwheels every summer.  I could never do it because I was afraid of throwing myself towards the ground- what if I broke my arm!?  We used to swim in the pool with our feet crossed pretending to be mermaids.  I have met some very odd people in my lifetime.  One time a man came into Wegmans when I had my long hair all the way down my back and offered to buy my hair.  How is one supposed to answer that?  I think I can talk in an accent a lot better than I actually can and I’m sorry to all the British people I have probably offended in my lifetime.  Hugs from my dad are precious moments and that is something I have taken my sweet time learning (I guess I’m sort of stubborn just like he is).  I used to feel like a rebel when I chewed gum with my braces (then I immediately spit it out for fear it would get stuck in my braces and my mom would have to take me to the orthodontist…and there would be yelling…and probably tears…) No one can snap their fingers as well as my mom (don’t try, you’ll lose).  I used to sit on my little sister because it was fun to trap her but now she’s stronger than I am and can just pick me up (actually I’m scared of her).  Speaking of Kellie’s muscles-maybe you’d like to hear about the time she did pull-ups at the fair at the Marine tent and all the men stood in awe that a little second grade girl could do more pull ups than the 25 year old men walking by.  I guarantee she could still show up the marines in pull-ups today.  I’m telling you-she’s strong, don’t make her mad.  She’s basically my mom’s security guard so take this as your warning.  I have a serious anxiety attack if I don’t have my Pandora ring on my finger.  I feel naked, and I just hold my finger like it might fall off if my ring isn’t there.  That would be pretty terrifying if that happened.  I love the color pink and maybe it’s childish but if there is glitter involved you can bet it will be all over my face in .25 seconds.  One time my sister ran into the wall in our living room so hard it shook the entire house.  She also walked right into a metal clothing rack at Kohl’s once.  Don’t worry, she still has both of her eyes.  I had this pink purse in high school that had pink fringe all over it and it had a long strap and was probably my favorite thing ever.  I have absolutely no idea what happened to that bag (which actually is making me sad right now) but I do remember I used it for everything.  My dad fixed the strap and the zipper more than once and slowly the fringe started to fall off.  The inside had pen marks all over it and there was an incident with lotion exploding but I still loved it.  I really wonder what happened to that bag.  Maybe it got thrown out.  I had a white t-shirt of my mom’s when I was younger that I wore to bed as a nightgown.  It was a WYRK (country radio) shirt and I lived in that thing.  Until one day I noticed it had been missing longer than it usually took for the laundry to be done.  My mother, the woman who raised me, had the nerve to throw it out without consulting me!  I’m still grieving but don’t worry mom, I don’t love you any less.  I have real pajamas now and they don’t have holes in them.  I am a shopaholic.  Just walking into a store is enough of a drug fix for me.  Even if I have no money I still go to the store and try clothes on because I LOVE shopping.  One time my sister mistook my uncle for some random old guy roaming in our backyard.  We retold the story at Christmas and everyone thought it was funny- except my uncle.  I like surprise parties.  Let me elaborate: I love throwing surprise parties.  I thought it would be just as fun to have one for myself (and it was absolutely amazing, I was totally surprised and honored you guys did it for me) but somehow I like the planning and seeing the initial surprisee’s (yes, I think I just made that word up) surprised reaction better than anything.  It’s like when you’re at a wedding and the best part is looking back at the groom when the bride comes down the aisle.  Every girl wants someone to look at her like that.  I am in love with babies.  All babies.  Seriously, if you have a baby, I will probably steal your child and love it forever.  I mean, I always bring them back but I will be more than happy to take him/her off of your hands for a while.  I have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to Ryan Gosling, because why not?  Someday I am going to actually walk into Gap Kids and have a reason to buy baby clothes instead of just walking around staring at all the cute itty-bitty baby clothes.  One time I dragged Shannon (very much against her will) into Gap Kids to look at baby clothes (for no reason other than baby clothes are extremely adorable) and she detested every moment of it until she saw a darling outfit with ducks all over it.  Then she melted just like me and that was definitely a bonding moment for us.  I still sleep with the teddy bear my mom made for me when I was little.  She has patches on her and has been sewn and re-stuffed but I love her just the same.  Over the years I have found I have either a very high pain tolerance or my inner self just refuses to allow pain to be felt.  Ignore it; it will go away (probably).  I once cut my entire finger open at work and didn’t notice until blood was streaming down my hand minutes later.  Best part of the story: I was sweeping and I cut my hand on the top of the broom.  Like, what?  How does that even happen?  I somehow get the most unusual injuries.  I went through a phase in high school where I painted my nails every single day with different colors and intricate designs.  To the girls I have met in bar bathrooms, we should all get together and publish a book because let me tell you those are some of the most interesting moments.  I have been cooking basically since my mom taught me how to use the oven but somehow at 21 years old I still don’t know how to cut a jalapeno and promptly wash my hands before touching my face.  I really like the name Oliver.  Once in high school as I went to sit down in the lunchroom I slid right on to the floor and had no idea what had happened so I just sat there and laughed for a minute.  As Shannon has pointed out, even if I don’t know the song I will hum along to it basically unknowingly.  It’s a whole brain processing thing-maybe-or maybe I’m just a little weird.  Actually, I’m a lot weird.  And that’s why I am a writer.  Because if you laughed at least once while reading this then I guess I am going somewhere with all of this.  When I read I want to laugh and think and believe in something.  Life is about believing in something.  And more than ever, I believe that all of my beautiful weirdness is my little candle to light this little corner of the world and wherever I end up next.  So basically this is my disclaimer that if you are a part of my life, you will most likely end up in a story of mine at some point.  I love writing about the things and people surrounding me so get close and let’s be crazy and novel worthy and throw a little sparkle around.

Unknown Wonders

The warm sun soaks into her skin

as she lies on the grassy hill above the town.

She stares at a flock of birds

not sure where they are going.

The soft wind blows through her hair

as she rides her bike along the road.

She follows the blacktop obediently

not sure if it will ever end.

The cool rain drops roll down her face

as she walks through the garden

She inspects every leaf and stem

not sure when the flowers will bloom.

The bright moon reflects on her face

as she polishes the grave with silent tears.

She listens to the coyotes in the woods

not sure why they are crying to the moon.

The endless night sky wraps around her body

as she sinks in the foggy air.

She rests her head by the polished stone

not sure of the sun coming tomorrow,

sure of hopelessness and sorrow.

Virginia Mary Lemieux

It is with a heavy heart that I post this.  Recently my grandmother passed away and it brought many tears to my family and I along with everyone who knew my grandmother.  My family asked if I would write and read the eulogy at her funeral and I immediately thought I would never get through it.  My grandpa hugged me and told me I knew my grandma and I could do it better than anyone.  So on Monday I took a deep breath, blinked away the tears momentarily, and spoke words that I somehow put together. Perhaps the best gift she gave us is she taught us how to be strong and Monday was my turn to be strong for my family and say the things they all wanted to say but couldn’t.  I love you, I miss you, grandma.  Nothing will ever be the same now.  Rest peacefully.

Virginia, known to most as Ginger, was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. She devoted her life to her family and her many passions.  She loved her animals and passed this love on to her children and grandchildren.  Horses, dogs, and cats populated her life all starting with the cocker spaniels her mother raised.  She followed in her mother’s footsteps and raised basset hounds through GinDic’s Bassets.  One of her reigning qualities was her drive to follow her heart and she taught all who knew her to do the same. As a member of the Basset Hound Club of America she connected with many people and gained many lifelong friends.  She will always be remembered as a determined and strong woman filled with kind words and honest advice.  I learned quickly that she knew more than she let on and was always watching and protecting her family.  She never feared others opinions and always showed her truly unique personality.  She was a mentor to many, always willing to give her thoughts.  There are many great memories of my grandma and each of us have our favorites.  We respect her for her intelligence, talents, and confidence.  I will always remember her as a practical woman with a very specific taste.  One year she took me shopping for my birthday and taught me a very important lesson I still look back on to this day.  She taught me that getting something or achieving something in your life should be on your terms whether it is a pair of bedazzled jeans or following a career across the country.  My grandma was also known for her cooking and baking.  She always made sure man and beast were constantly well fed.  There was always an open invitation to her dinner table.  This is a trait she has passed down to us.  We will always graciously open our homes and our hearts for people as my grandma did.  I find it impossible to make dinner just for the people I am expecting because she has taught me to be over prepared and to expect the unexpected.  The kitchen is where a great deal of family memories were made.  All of her children made dinner with her and will always remember the special moments they shared like peeling apples to make homemade apple crisp every fall weekend and spending hours canning and freezing with her.  Another great quality is that my grandma knew people, she could read people, but better yet, she knew herself.  My grandma was truly one of a kind and could never be replaced.  She could never be forgotten because there are parts of her in all of us.  I often find myself thinking “Grandma would say that” or I hear her voice in someone else.  She lives on in the hearts of everyone who knew her.

Normal Isn’t Unique

This is a simple, short story that started as an assignment in a creative writing class and has been a work in progress.  I edit and change it often but the story always says the same thing: be unique.  What is life if we try to be exactly like everyone else? Stand out, be brave, and embrace you because you are the most beautiful person.  Stay sparkly!

All of his ties were folded neatly in the top drawer of his dresser.  On the right side the solid colored ties were arranged in an organized, horizontal pattern. The patterned ties were kept on the left side of the drawer in the same horizontal pattern.  The man had sixteen ties in the drawer all together and each day he took out a different tie to wear to work.  He had a system in place so he could wear each of his ties once without repeating them.  He would wear a solid colored tie, then a patterned tie.  The next day he would wear a colored tie, followed by another colored tie. On Friday he would wear a patterned tie and the next Monday he would wear a colored tie.  He had worn his ties this way for over twenty years without adding any new ties or getting rid of any old ones.  The ties knew when it was their turn to be taken out of the drawer and spend an entire day displayed around the man’s neck.  They looked forward to their day by imagining themselves hanging smooth and proper against the man’s crisp dress shirt.  They liked to discuss their importance and brag about being “the man’s favorite”.  “His mother bought me for him,” one bragged and another chimed in “I was bought for his job interview!”  The ties loved the man and always stayed in the best condition so not to disappoint the man.

One tie was consistently forgotten and never got the chance for his day outside of the drawer.  He had been given to the man fifteen years ago as a joke at an office holiday party.  The tie had been sitting in a drawer for many years after being given to someone who never wore him, and then regifted to the man with all the fancy ties.  The tie thought this was his chance at freedom!  The tie thought he would be worn by a nice man who appreciated his value.  But the man never wore the tie because he was not like the other ties.  He was bright orange with misshaped green dots all over.  The tie felt embarrassed and he could not change his colors no matter how hard he tried.  The man never took him out of the drawer and the other ties never acknowledged him.  They told him he was not a real tie and no one would ever wear him.  He didn’t understand why he had been made with these awful colors if no one wanted him.  He dreamed all day, every day, about the day that he would get to be worn by the man with the fancy ties but he was starting to believe it would never happen.

The man’s nephew, Jimmy, came to spend a few days with his uncle.  Jimmy was so excited- he idolized his uncle and loved watching him put on his fancy suit and ties.  The man thought Jimmy might enjoy picking out the tie so he uncharacteristically broke his routine that morning.  Jimmy admired each tie as if it was made of gold.  “I can pick any tie, uncle?”  The man nodded and Jimmy’s smile spread across his face.  Jimmy ran his hand along all the ties, evaluating each of them carefully.  The orange tie didn’t even bother getting excited.  “Jimmy will never choose me,” the tie thought.  But, then the tie felt five little fingers wrap around him! “I like this one,” Jimmy exclaimed!  The man’s face contorted and he a quickly took the orange tie and placed it back in the drawer.

“That tie is not appropriate for businessmen, Jimmy.”  Jimmy was shocked- he thought it was the most fun tie in his uncle’s drawer.  It was the same color as his favorite dump trunk.

“Have you ever worn that tie?”

“No.  I told you- it isn’t proper to wear to the office.  Now choose a more appropriate tie.”

“I want the orange tie.  I like it.”

“I am not wearing that tie, Jimmy.  I work in a very big office where everyone wears normal ties and if I came in with that tie everyone would stare at me.”  Jimmy didn’t understand why grownups were always trying to look like each other.  He liked being different and he decided if his uncle wouldn’t wear the orange tie, then he would.

When Jimmy’s mother came to pick him up she was met by a unique sight.  Jimmy was dressed in his jeans, blue dinosaur t-shirt, racecar sneakers, and the unwanted orange and green tie.  “Mommy! Look what I have!”  The man shrugged his shoulders and Jimmy’s mother stared at the strange looking tie.

“Why are you wearing this, honey?”  Jimmy saw the same look on his mother’s face that he had seen on his uncle’s face.

“Because I like it, mommy.”  Jimmy smiled down at his tie and walked towards the car shaking his head.  “Silly grownups.”

The Brooke to my Haley

Our thoughts, actions, reactions, and memories make each of us individually unique.  The way we spend our days in between birth and death are the moments that define our characters.  Over the period of time that we have on this earth we have many choices to make.  We choose to breathe.  We choose to open our eyes.  We choose to nourish ourselves.  We choose to see more than the physical things and feel more than a physical touch.

We all live.  I have been living since the morning of September 24, 1993.  I have done many things since that day.  I learned to walk on my own, I became a big sister, I learned to share my toys, I made friends and lost friends, I got a part-time job, I decided on a career, I graduated high school, and I went to college, and I changed my mind about my career.  I have been creating moments every second since I took my first breath that Friday morning 21 years ago.  Yes, I may not remember the very early moments of my life but I experienced them.  I had a mind and a soul and I felt the sensations racing through my body.  I have chosen every day of my life to breathe and to continue moving no matter what is thrown at me.  It wasn’t until recently though that I can say I honestly remember my life beginning or that I remember feeling so strongly about something.  I have had my fair share of heart break from people I trusted and I’ve felt anger and happiness- all of which are promising feelings that create our personalities which in turn become our reason and way to live our lives.  Something that had always been there but that had been buried over the years was found and started growing to the surface.  A passion was ignited.  I wanted to change-to become the best version of myself and the version of myself that I wanted to show to the world.  I was scared and intimidated but I made the choice.  I felt like I was about to end my life-the only life that I had ever known-and I was absolutely petrified out of my mind.  I had been scared for over a year.  I was so scared that I had repeatedly made excuses for myself but my feelings were changing so fast there was no way I could turn back-even if I wanted to.  The day I realized I didn’t want to turn back was the moment I changed completely.  I ended my life as I had known it.  It was time to start fresh which was going to take time and effort.  Not knowing how long until I recognized myself again or when I would be comfortable was entirely frightening and powerful.

I grew up in an average house, living comfortably but not extravagantly.   I have two parents who love me and will do anything to be there for me.  I have a little sister who went from being my tiny nightmare (she was definitely a little evil as a young child but thankfully she has outgrown that) to becoming the sister I couldn’t live without.  I didn’t achieve genius status in high school-I was an average student.  I was never the “popular” kid.  I made a few friends, good and bad, and ultimately learned what betrayal felt like from these very people who claimed to be my friends.  I didn’t have a real best friend so I learned to keep my true secrets to myself and I became comfortable on my own.  My parents raised me to be independent, the world made me stay independent, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.  It is the moments in life that make us individuals and make us genuine.  If you continue to read this, I know you will understand and you will relate.  Maybe you didn’t experience the exact things that I have but everyone knows what it’s like to want and need someone in your life who you can’t imagine living without.  For some of us that is a sibling, a mentor, a significant other, or a best friend.

Pushing our way through life’s obstacles alone is stressful, difficult, and takes a toll on our health-physically and emotionally.  I have had more “best friends” than any person should have in a lifetime but eventually I learned they were not my best friends or even my friends.  I didn’t know what it felt like to have a true best friend (outside my sister) and by the time I had graduated high school I was beginning to think that best friends like Thelma and Louise and Brooke and Haley didn’t exist in real life.  But somehow the universe has granted me the greatest best friend in the world.  Shannon is my best friend, she always will be, and in a way she always has been.  We first met in middle school and then became better acquainted with each other through mutual friends in high school.  After graduation, the people I called my best friends vanished and somehow I was still clinging on to Shannon.  I remember sitting at the lunch table in high school and thinking “someday, she is going to be my best friend.”  We often joke about me disliking her high school boyfriend purely because he would show up and whisk her away during the only five minutes I had with her (hey, we walked to Chemistry just fine before he showed up- but I digress).  Even after we graduated high school I still didn’t know the real Shannon all that well.  I knew her enough though to know she was my best friend and someday she would be the Brooke to my Haley, even if she didn’t know it yet.  After two years of suffering through college and only seeing each other about once a month I had decided to transfer to Fredonia (where Shannon had transferred the year before).  We decided that first week we spent together is the week we absolutely became best friends.  From that moment, wherever one went, the other followed.  To this day we are basically one travelling unit.  If you see Shannon coming, I can guarantee I am not far behind and vice versa.  We are together so often that people (even some of our friends!) question if we are actually just best friends or a super adorable couple.  I promise we are just best friends but as soon as we find guys who are the male “Jenna and Shannon” I guarantee we are kidnapping them forever.  Our friendship is one of a kind and can’t be written down.  I can’t tell you what it feels like to know that there is someone who will accept you for all your amazing and weird qualities, lets you vent about stupid things that annoy you, and knows exactly what you are thinking just by one look.  Our friendship is filled with lots of laughs, constantly tripping over things, 3am conversations on the bathroom floor, long homework sessions, hugs, some tears, walks for miles, a slight pizza addiction, and lots of genuine, wonderful, perfect moments.

Now before I lose you, which I may have already lost some of you, but for those of you still reading let me tell you why I explained my friendship with Shannon.  Even though I have written it out, I still don’t feel like anyone can truly understand our friendship unless you are standing next to us and experience one of our “Jenna and Shannon moments” for yourself (now accepting reservationsJ).  When I came to Fredonia I was dead set on pursuing something I wasn’t even sure I loved anymore.  I was going to spend the rest of my life convincing myself to be happy in something that had changed into something I wasn’t willing to change my beliefs on.  I was also convinced that having real relationships that mattered and changed your life for the better didn’t happen outside of a movie.  I am extremely grateful to have found my best friend so early in life and to be able to say I am finally figuring things out.  I am focusing on my passions, expanding my interests, learning about new things, meeting new people, and most importantly creating the best memories.  I finally feel like I am living- like I have something special to share with the world.  I hope everyone is able to find their one person that takes life to a whole new level.  I have learned so many things because of my best friend.  The world completely changes when people connect and grow together.  Smile at a stranger or hug an old friend because new or old, friends are one of the greatest gifts life gives us.  Thank you for being my Brooke, S.  But more importantly, thank you for being you.

Stay sparkly, everyone!