I remember the first time I voted. The year was 1972, and thanks to The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 18 year olds were granted the right to vote (July 1, 1971), and it was the quickest amendment ever to be ratified. I remember the national debates over lowering the voting age because it focused on all our friends being drafted to fight in Vietnam when they had absolutely no say about the war, who was sending them, and why. Having participated in the anti-war movement with hundreds of thousands of other young students across the country, I’d like to think our protests made a difference and forced the government to lower the voting age. So, when the time came in 1972 to vote in the presidential election, I cast my ballot for George McGovern.
Shortly before the election, McGovern came to the University of Cincinnati where I was studying. After his campaign speech, he thanked all the volunteers back stage, and I was thrilled to shake the hand of the next President of the United States of America. I just knew he would win. And, trust me, to this day, I still can’t believe that Nixon won (by a landslide) despite the fact that 52% of 18-24 year-olds showed up at the polls, the highest ever voter turnout of young adults including the 2008 Obama-McCain election.
So, I write this post the day before the elections as a reminder that anything can happen, and every vote matters. Here in North Carolina, we have a very important Senate race. I know who I’ll be voting for? You?
Let me introduce you to, Casey Curry, wife, mother, and educator who has just published her first novel, Promises. Curry is a master at weaving together fragile family alliances and with four aspiring African American daughters growing up in a military family all over the world, Curry has tons of material to not disappoint her readers. Like her protagonist, Pamela Sloan, Curry is a woman over 50, and the wife of a naval officer who takes us on a thirty year journey full of family secrets and promises.
I mention that the daughters are African American because it was that one fact alone that piqued my interest enough to read the book. It made me realize how little I knew about Black families in our military. Truth is, I had not read much about military families in general, and must confess, had only seen films about families coping with war and death as a young adult – starting with WWII, Viet-Nam, and now Iraq. Films or TV series that stand out are: Coming Home (1978); MASH (the 70’s); even Hogan’s Heroes from the 60’s and all those had an all white cast – or at least that’s how I remember it. It wasn’t really until Glory (1989) and Red Tails in 2012 that Hollywood portrayed African American families in the military.
So, Curry’s book allowed me to enter a world I knew very little about. What did I find? Having grown up with two sisters, I found the relationship between the siblings to be not all that different from my own EXCEPT mine didn’t involve military espionage, family sacrifices, or vacationing on the Vineyard. Interwoven between the daughters’ stories is Pamela’s story, their mother whose past is nothing like her daughters. Raised by a father because her mother was either absent or should’ve been, Pam managed to marry well while her half-sister struggled as a poor single mother with an ungrateful and selfish daughter. The contrast between Pamela’s tight knit family and her sister’s rather sad existence with her spoiled daughter is significant and what stories are made of.
I think Casey’s story will resonate not only with readers who have struggled with an empty nest or who are military wives but with women of all ages who have struggled to protect their family. The whole time I was reading Promises, I kept thinking this would make the perfect Lifetime channel movie – one of my guilty late night pleasures.
Casey Curry is the Director of Creative Writing at a fine arts magnet school in Tampa, Florida where she teaches poetry and fiction to high school students. She holds a B.A. from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and M.Ed. from Norfolk State University in Virginia. She is a 2012-2013 National Arts Teachers Fellowship (NATF) winner. The novel, Promises is her second book, and was born out of the NATF project, formerly funded by The Surdna Foundation. Ms. Curry is married to a retired Naval Officer and is the mother of three adult daughters. Her youngest daughter, Tori Rose, was the inspiration for her first book, I Remember You Today, and died of a brainstem tumor at the age of three.
Ladies, (not only women over 50), have you ever left your cell phone on a restaurant table? Or how about searched for your glasses when they were already on your head functioning as a headband? I’m sure none of you have ever lost your keys even though you threw them in your purse – that infamous black hole where objects vanish.
If you’ve ever done any of these things, you will surely identify with our beloved Nora Ephron when she says, “I am living in the Google years, no question of that. And there are advantages to it. When you forget something, you can whip out your iPhone and go to Google. The Senior Moment has become the Google moment, and it has a much nicer, hipper, younger, more contemporary sound, doesn’t it?” I Remember Nothing.
So, now you’re wondering what my memory has to do with the perfect pouch. For starters, it’s attached to my body. It is a perfectly designed, handmade pouch that clips to your jeans or any pants/skirt via belt loops. It’s stylish and sized perfectly for your cell phone, car keys, and lipstick. I love it, and so do all my friends who’ve received them as gifts who in turn buy them for their daughters. It’s my gift du jour and I have designer, Kathleen Lewis, to thank.
Kathleen Lewis has spent over forty-five years creating art with fabrics, fibers and other art mediums in Asheville, NC. Kathleen can take a piece of fabric and change it into something totally different such as a whimsical owl to carefully stitched bags, one-of-a-kind hats, and beautiful hand-dyed clothing. I can’t thank her enough for that perfect pouch.
To Shop or Not to Shop On-line – That is the Question? I am not an on-line shopper – at all. However, after spending an evening with several female friends (they know who they are) I’m wondering if I should be. Over dinner, they listed all the advantages: time saved; never running out of things; catching some great deals; and of course they never pay shipping. So there I sat eating my Salad Niçoise at the Laughing Seed with two women I admire and respect trying hard to figure out what’s up with me that I don’t shop on-line. Weeks rolled by, and I forgot all about that conversation until I grabbed my must-have Deva (curly) hair product only to realize I couldn’t squeeze out one more drop, and I did not have another one stashed away in my closet. I’d have to live with a bad hair day for sure. Digging deeper into this 21st century phenomenon, I started thinking about my big aversion to shopping on-line is and why I find it all so overwhelming.
For starters, I’m on the computer much of my day at work, and then again in my spare time at home working on my book whenever I can, so getting back on the computer to shop doesn’t excite me. It’s not that I’ve never shopped on-line. I admit to buying presents at holiday time for out of town family and friends because I hate packing up presents not to mention the waiting in line at the post office during Christmas time. Another reason I hate shopping on-line is all the popcorn, bubble wrap, shredded paper and boxes I have to deal with from my husband who doesshop on-line. The packaging spills all over the kitchen and then it piles up in the garage where I then have to nag my husband to break it all down and schlep it to the recycling bins across town. All that packaging can’t be good for the environment and then what about the carbon footprint? Besides, I still like to touch things and try things on and neither my feet nor my body always fit into the same size. And returns? I really hate that too, re-wrapping and taking it to the post office.
Last Saturday, I was out doing errands – a lot of errands. I think I spent close to 4 hours driving all over town to Trader Joe’s, Pet Smart, the dry cleaners, and worst of all to the Mall to get the Deva product I had run out of, and then finally to the kitchen store to get the Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Slicer Cutter (millions sold in Europe) and I got to thinking about my two smart friends who said they save SOOOOOOOOOOO much time, and what about the price of gas? It’s a dilemma for me. So, what do YOU do? Any advice?
I never expected to finish the revision of 25 chapters in five days. Of course, I must admit I’ve been revising for ten years so I guess it’s not all that surprising. But who cares? It’s done – 311 pages. Now, all I have to do is make copies and give it to my devoted writer’s group for one last look. I can tell you they’re probably sick of it but they’ve never had all the chapters together to actually read it through like a real book. I know there will be changes, albeit minimal ones. I’m terrible with comas and sometimes I get mixed up when to use italics for newspaper quotes and when I should just use quotation marks. I used to know those things but have learned to rely on my group for that. As for commas, Peggy is the comma Queen so she’s got that covered.
If you recall, there was a dove nesting on a planter on the steps of the condo where I’m staying. Yesterday evening, when I was leaving, I was delighted to see the dove resting on its nest. I tried to be quiet when I closed the door behind me but apparently I scared her off, and she flew away leaving behind two perfect white eggs. I don’t know much about birds but prayed she wouldn’t view me as a predator and abandon the nest.
The next morning (Day 5) when I arrived, I was a little apprehensive about what I’d find. Thankfully, the dove was back on its nest incubating her eggs. While she still has a ways to go, I couldn’t help but see the symbolism in this bird’s nest and the finishing of my book. So, here’s to hatching birds or books or whatever else that needs hatching.