On Victory Gardens and Finding Love in the Time of Coronavirus

April 27, 2020

I hope this post finds you well.

home gardening young rucola
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

I’m not sure if I’m suffering from ‘quarantine fatigue’ or if I’m sick of the constant rain, chilly temperatures, and blustery wind, it’s awful. This week’s weather forecast calls for rain, followed by partly sunny skies this weekend, and more rain next week, ugh. Fortunately, we’re mostly in the high 60s and I saw a few days next week in the 70s. I’ll take it.

The lettuce, kale, and spinach plants in my Victory garden are still small but happy; they love cooler weather. I check them each morning and offer encouraging words and good energy like I did my children because I love these little guys. After a freeze warning last week, I’m vigilant with the vegetable, herb, and flower seedlings now living in larger pots on the kitchen porch. In the past, I bought established plants to get a headstart in the garden and since that wasn’t possible this year, I really need these seed babies to grow! It was fun to start from scratch with heirloom varieties, but for every seed that germinated and wilted, my heart sank. I suppose it’s survival of the fittest when it comes to starting with seeds. I’m doing my best to help them along.

The other day, a new age guru, or was he a scientist? I don’t remember, but he described the novel coronavirus pandemic as a ‘thinning the herd’ event. He didn’t explain, which would have been interesting, but his comment rubbed me the wrong way. He went on to say if we’re still here, there’s a reason for it. Again no explanation. Buddy, the reason I’m still here is that I don’t leave my house and I live alone. How long that remains feasible and healthy for me and others is anyone’s guess.

Today I paid my real estate taxes, and the water and electric bills online. I buy groceries online. I bank online. Tomorrow, I’ll be video chatting with my endocrinologist. When I’m down, I say the rosary with the priests at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. I’m taking an online course on ancestral medicine and signed up for five free courses with The Monroe Institute and set up Zoom chats with my family, friends, and my The Artist Group participants. It all works…for now, but I don’t know how I feel about that being our new, not-normal future. I miss hugs and hello kisses. I miss hugging my tribe.

The rest of this post is kind of tongue in cheek. I need a bit of humor today.

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Photo by Jasmine Wallace Carter on Pexels.com

Love in the Time of Coronavirus. I’m claiming that as the perfect title for my memoir.

After a long hiatus of dating, and in light of this quarantine lasting until the end of summer, (maybe winter?) will I return to dating? Online dating? What will dating look like in the time of Coronavirus? Will we return to finding love like in Jane Austen’s novels, when women and men wooed and seduced each other with romantic notes and love letters written on crisp stationery and envelopes sealed with burnt crimson wax seals? I actually have one of those thingies and several sticks of crimson wax, I would love that.

In the past, I was never okay with online dating messages that read, “Hey”, or “wassup”. I always thought those lazy men were alone for good reason. Write me a sonnet, Mister! Or a poem about my limpid, grey-green eyes and the way the moonlight hits my pale, dewy skin on a soft summer eve. Pale because I don’t get out much, but write it anyway. Send me nosegays of fragrant Spring flowers. Mark my words, gentlemen, you’ll go far.

Single women on social media are joking that couples who were more than iffy in the relationship department and other couples who were legally separated before COVID-19 and now forced to stay together during this pandemic for financial reasons. Some may have secretly given a divorce lawyer a retainer or found a good moving company. What they were getting at is there will more available women and men in the dating pool than before the pandemic. As a single woman, that got my attention as the dating pool of eligible good men always looked more like a puddle to me. But it also made me sad. I say if a couple (especially with kids at home) can survive this pandemic and remain stronger than before, more power to them. Be good to each other.

So, if you’re an available man, anywhere in the world, and you’re thinking of writing me a sonnet, I’ll contemplate reserving a post office box. Of course, we must show multiple, negative COVID-19 tests and proof of antibodies.

We can’t lose our sense of humor, people. Some days, it’s all we have and it’s good for us.

Still no stimulus check…

Be safe, stay healthy.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Her adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which gives her a lot of pride and allows her to write full time.

On Ancestral Medicine, the Kegel App, and Making Bad Art

April 17, 2020

woman standing in front of flowing water
Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

Good morning and happy Friday. I hope you and yours are well.

Two weeks ago, an advertisement for ancestral medicine popped up on my Instagram feed and caught my attention. I liked what they shared about where we are today and what we, the global collective, can do to heal the planet and ourselves during the current pandemic. The gent teaches an online course on the art of ritual, mysticism, the religious traditions of world religions, the spirit world as helpers (much like praying for the intercession of God, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the Catholic saints and archangels). And about healing our ancestors to heal ourselves. Hmmm, I was intrigued by that last bit.

In the early days, as our current global pandemic began to unfold and show its lethal virulence, I’d been thinking (and writing) about ancestors, ancestor worship, and my ancestors. As a nature-loving, Reiki practitioner, and non-churchgoing, prayerful Catholic, who loves everything history, healing, mystical, and spiritual, the course appealed to me on many levels.

Since we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and I have a bit of time on my hands during writing breaks (which seem longer than they were pre-COVID), I thought it might be perfect timing to learn something new. I checked out the ancestral medicine website and course curriculum. In light of my interest in the ancestors (and because I believe in synchronicity), before I could talk myself out of it, I’d signed up for the online course on ancestral medicine and ritual.

During a family Zoom call, I told my kids I’d signed up for the course. My daughter immediately joked that I would learn how to heal with leeches and my son mentioned bloodletting. Smart ass kids! We laughed our heads off and I joked we’d probably learn about sin eating, too. I love that my kids keep me grounded in the here and now, and remind me not to take things so seriously, smile.

This week I completed Lessons One and Two, the introduction to ritual, which included videos, additional reading resources, and homework. Since I’m used to and enjoy the rituals and meditative prayer traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and the healing arts I learned from my maternal grandmother from Puerto Rico, I’m enjoying the course.  I was immediately reminded of my first novel, A Decent Woman, which is chockful of prayer, ritual, spiritual practices, African healing traditions, and the worship of Orisha deities. I thought how wonderful this course will be as a primary source research tool for my second novel and work-in-progress (WIP), The Laments, which is the story of a young novice nun and an aging Spanish friar.

After completing the first two lessons, which were essentially reviews for me, I did wonder if I should have signed up for the advanced course…but it’s always good to start at the beginning. I like a story well-told, from the first word to the last. I don’t want to miss a thing.

Without realizing it, I’d put my desire to learn something new and relevant to what we’re currently dealing with into the Universe and the teacher appeared. On my Instagram feed.

Here’s to hoping we all find new ways to cope in the new normal and nurture those new skills in the future.

Be well, stay safe. Don’t listen to Trump. Listen to Dr. Fauci and to your gut instincts.

Eleanor x

***

April 18, 2020

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Good morning, I hope you and yours are well on this beautiful Saturday.

Before I discovered my passion for writing, I was a full-time, exhibiting artist. I painted portraits and still lifes in watercolor and entered my pieces in art competitions all over Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. I won watercolor awards at the Torpedo Factory and The Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, and throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland. I’m a good artist and lately, I miss that part of my life.

Yesterday I drew a silver box that sits on my writing desk in my typical realistic style. Wow, it looked like a double-vision drunk person had drawn it. It was bad, very bad. From the grave, Picasso raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh, mija, bless your little ol’ heart. Just stop”. Admittedly, I was shocked by my drawing skills that lacked depth, dimension, accurate proportions, and any semblance of artistic elegance; exactly the opposite of what I’d intended. Instead of languishing in despair over losing my skills and my artistic muse, I laughed at how bad the rendering was and decided I hadn’t lost a thing–I just need more practice. The added bonus of that artistic hour of enjoyable focus was not stressing about this damn virus, our future, and how much I despise certain politicians. There’s that, too.

So. I’ve decided when I can’t find the words for my WIP or a blog post, I shall paint, draw, make a collage, or write a poem. If necessary, I’ll do all four. We are all creative spirits. We create, that’s what we do best. All forms of creation are necessary and helpful means of expression when words fail us, especially now.

My teleworking friends are also making art in the evenings and on the weekends. Others are baking bread and cakes; creating floral arrangements; hand sewing whimsical cloth toys; writing children’s books; posting funny videos of their quarantine experiences; reading books to their young children; and trying their hands at gardening, even if only in large pots on their balconies. Make something. You’ll feel better.

What I’ve learned about myself and life during quarantine:

I must keep drawing and painting to get my art mojo back, even if at the moment, it’s bad art. It’ll return.

Humor, music, my kids, friends, and good books are key to having a good day. God bless the goofy comedic actor Leslie Jordan (@thelesliejordan), whom I follow on Instagram. These days, he’s saying what most of us are thinking.

Thank you to my kids and my family members for their good humor, love, patience, and for their honesty on days when they are struggling. We’re not alone.

It’s perfectly okay to eat fried eggs, omelets, and tuna melts without bread directly from the frying pan.

Melted dark chocolate can heal most of my emotional low points.

As long as my bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen are kept in a semi-orderly state, I feel good.

Do I need a Kegel Exerciser with an app? Instagram thinks I do.

I have a high tolerance for watching Netflix series in my jammies for two or three days. All my clothes are stretchy and black.

I honor my intuition and early coronavirus freakouts about dwindling food supplies. I bought enough food for a few months and I’m glad I did. Last week, I couldn’t get an appointment for curbside delivery at my supermarket for all the money in the world.

Thank God for my dog Sophie, the current love of my life.

The annoying, annual Spring occurrence of a bird’s nest under the air conditioner unit in my bedroom with loud, hungry baby birds reminds me that life goes on. And that I’m hungry again.

NATIONWIDE TESTING IS CRITICAL BEFORE REOPENING OUR ECONOMY. Yes, I meant that all in caps. Listen to Dr. Fauci…except that yesterday he said that nationwide testing isn’t the only way to open up the economy. Good God, is Fauci drinking the White House Koolaid? I hope not. In my opinion, nationwide testing is the ONLY way to keep everyone 100% safe. Or at the very least, test each employee who physically returns to the workplace. Is that feasible? On second thought, nationwide testing is the way forward so we aren’t faced with a second wave of outbreaks far worse than the first.

Again, God bless our doctors, nurses, mental health therapists, and everyone on the front line at this time. As for the World Health Organization response in the early days of this pandemic…hmmm. I wonder if they may soon have to answer some deadly serious questions.

Be well, stay home, and be safe out there. Wash your hands.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is in quarantine and working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

In Quarantine: On Humor, Gratitude, and Safe Distancing

April 1, 2020

This is no joke. There are so many confirmed cases and deaths in the US and around the world. I feel sad and at a loss for words today.

Stay safe, continue to make art, and hang in there. This too shall pass. It’s anybody’s guess when that will happen.

That’s all I’ve got today.

***

close up photograph of flowers
Photo by Secret Garden on Pexels.com

April 2, 2020

Good morning, I hope you and yours are safe and well.

This morning the sun is shining, the lilac bushes are full of buds, and the peony bushes are two feet high. The vegetable and herb seedlings in trays and egg cartons are growing like weeds, and the lettuce, kale and spinach seeds I sowed in the garden a week ago are beginning to push through the soil. The Lily-of-the-Valley plants are popping up near the grapevines. Muguet du Bois. French is such a gorgeous language. I’m hopeful for a beautiful garden and a bountiful vegetable harvest this year to share with my neighbors.

I truly hope the sun is shining where you are and that you can get out for a bit of fresh air today…wearing your mask, of course. Jeez, where did that come from? That mask reference came from our new normal, but of course, nothing is normal today or ever will be normal like we knew normal back in December 2019. How’s that for a badly written, run-on sentence?

Yesterday, as I was working on an elevator pitch for my work-in-progress, THE LAMENTS, (they are a bitch to write), I was startled by a knock at the front door. These days, except for the post person or the UPS and Fed-Ex people, all heroes to me, no one knocks on my door. So I went back to writing. I no longer rush to the door like before to bring in the packages—that involves serious preparation. There are gloves to put on, a mask to secure, and at least a 20-or 30-minute wait before opening the door because minute coronavirus droplets could be lingering in the air. Or is it three hours on surfaces, 14 hours in the air? Jesus. That sounds nuts, doesn’t it? Welcome to the world.

The person knocked again. I peeked through the curtains and it was a masked man. What fresh hell was this? I was immediately filled with dread. My heart raced. All the films I’d ever watched about viruses, pandemics, and zombies came to mind, and since we’d been evacuated from our homes two months ago for a city gas leak, I nearly panicked. I wasn’t leaving my home again, that was crystal clear to me.

Since I knew I couldn’t open the door and wasn’t sure if he could hear me through the window, I motioned for him to wait. I suited up and cracked the door a bit. Instead of remaining where he stood on my front stoop, he approached the door. Way too close. “Woah, mister! Back it up, please! I can hear you from here.”

“Sorry!” he replied, a bit embarrassed. Then I recognized him. It was the nice delivery man from my local pharmacy with my delivery of meds, wipes, and Vitamin D pills.

“Oh, it’s you! Just put the bag down, and I’ll collect it after you leave. Thank you!” I said, still fearful of the nice man because who the hell knows who he’s been around in the hours leading to my delivery.

“I’ll do that, no problem, but you have to sign for your stuff.” Shit. I’d forgotten about that part. He handed me a little piece of paper for me to sign and offered his pen.

“No, no, no”, I said, waving my hand. “I have a pen. Hold on.” I closed the door and as I went to retrieve my sterile pen off the writing desk, I turned to my dog and said, “Can you believe this shit?”

Now. Don’t get it twisted. Please don’t. I’ve been writing this pandemic blog series for over two weeks now. I’m VERY appreciative and grateful as hell for every single hero and heroine who is keeping our world going during this horrible pandemic. I just wasn’t prepared for that bit of drama today, not at all. I signed the paper, cracked the door again, and returned the signed slip of paper. “Thank you! Be safe out there,” I said before shutting my door again.

My two-week self-quarantine was interrupted. I wondered if I had to start from day one again to see if I’d been infected. Lord Jesus. After he left, I stood on my stoop, emptying out the contents of the bag. I threw the plastic bag into the trashcan and wiped down each item before bringing them inside. There’s got to be a better way, but it is what it is, right?

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the folks, who are still at work to keep us, you and me, safe, healthy, fed, and sane.  And to those of us who are sharing funny memes and stories; raw and real videos of living through this pandemic with children and teens; and to those who are sharing drawings, poems, music videos, and frolicking baby goats, thank you. A special thank you to Netflix and the Tiger King–that was awesome.

Be safe out there and for God’s sake, say home, if you can. I miss my kids.

Oh, and don’t forget Winter Goose Publishing, my publisher, opened their entire eBook catalog on Amazon for FREE. You’ve got until Saturday, so fire up that Kindle and download some books, including mine. Happy reading!

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Jonisha Rios

Welcome back to the Author Interview series at The Writing Life blog. I’ll be chatting with authors every Tuesday until the end of November, so please do check back in.

Today I’m pleased to chat with my first guest Jonisha Rios, author of Curse of the Blue Vagina.

Jonisha Rios is an accomplished screenwriter, author, director, and actress who currently resides in California. She teaches Solo-show workshops to adults and kids.
Jonisha Rios
Welcome, Jonisha!

What is your book’s genre/category?

Women’s Fiction /Humor-Empowerment, I guess.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Curse of the Blue Vagina is a collection that includes two short stories and a one-act play. The stories are about women. The first is a story about one woman’s journey to break a curse that keeps her from attracting the love that she desires.  

How did you come up with the title?

I was sitting next to my husband and we were talking about the concept of “Blue Balls”, you know when a man is left feeling physically in pain when he is not sexually satisfied. I never gave him those, by the way.  But there we were chit chatting about it, and then I told him that women go through the same thing.  Only for us, it’s more of an emotional rather than a physical pain. For us, the Blue Vagina occurs when the love we want isn’t reciprocated. 

What inspired you to write this book, Jonisha?

What inspired these pieces were three distinctly different things. For the first story I wanted to explore the dynamic of first time love.  My aunt who had cancer inspired the second story.  I was blown away by her incredible faith despite her unfortunate diagnosis.  And the third inspiration was a night out with the girls whose vivid conversations had stayed with me long after our night of hanging out was over.  I remembered each story had a life of its own and a clear voice.  So if I had to summarize in one word, I would say unshakeable, amazing women inspired my book. (Okay, that’s three words.)

What is your favorite part of writing?

The freedom to use my imagination.  I love to get away and create scenarios that make me laugh out loud, and also make me feel empowered and even romanced. 

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Just making the time to sit with no interruption is a challenge. Between shuffling my son around to various classes and working part-time as a nanny, by the time I am done running around with three kids, I am too tired to write.  But, I do it anyway. When you are a mom and a writer, oftentimes you have to write when the kids go to sleep. Other times you have to write when there are countless interruptions. Whether you are tired or interrupted a million times, your brain can feel like mush.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Honestly I’ve read so many books I don’t really have any specific favorites. I genuinely get into whatever I am reading, so that whoever wrote the book I am reading in the moment becomes my new favorite author. Right now my favorite book is “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo. I have her second book “Spark Joy”, and it’s a great companion piece to go along with the first. I just love those books. You see, I used to teach classes in Feng Shui and this book has been so much fun for me to read. Your outside world is often a reflection of what’s going on in your inner world.  I also love books on Homeopathy and joke books.  Pretty much anything on Kindle Unlimited!

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City), Chelsea Handler, Woody Allen (his early years), and Alisa Valdes, (Dirty Girls Social Club).

Do you have a favorite place to write?

The bathroom or the closet.  These are not fancy big spaces but they are all I have to escape to when I need to write.  Because I live in a loft, it’s just one open space with no one place for me.  So I decorated the closet as my own little hideaway nook. I put some Christmas lights up and added a meditation matt. If it is too noisy during the day, then the bathroom is my number 2 spot, (no pun intended lol). 

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I not only teach Feng Shui workshops, I do live blood analysis and provide guided healing counseling sessions – check out Eyezikchat.com. It’s a gift I have. I believe having the ability to meditate allows you to tap into a stream of consciousness that opens up imaginative pathways to creating whatever you desire.

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

Learn how to format or hire someone who can handle it easily.  Make sure you tell them to give you a version you can correct.  Even after having had my work professionally proofed several times, I found that once the book was formatted, errors jumped out at me that I didn’t notice before.  I was lucky enough that my formatter allowed me to fix these things, but it was a very expensive lesson.  So I guess even before that step, make sure you have your manuscript proofed no less than 5 times. And in the end, if it’s still not perfect, let it go. As long as people connect with the story, that is all that matters.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I completed it.  I took it from A-Z and once I did that, the floodgates opened for me. That was when a team of supporters magically arrived to support me. I love my agent Leticia Gomez, manager Marilyn Atlas, and most importantly, my editor Elizabeth Lopez. These people were instrumental in the completion of this book.  I’d also like to thank my husband for giving me my blue vagina! lol

And I thank my son Iysaac. I raced to finish up this book before he woke up at night. That was the fire under my ass I needed to get it completed. Mama got it done.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

If you don’t have a team of people out there to help you get the book to where it needs to be, I would suggest you go about completing the book from start to finish on your own.  That needs to be the goal and the team will arrive. If not for your first book, then for the second one, for sure. My friend did that recently and got himself on Amazon and other sites. He had a goal and made it happen. I think that is the key.  If you want to get published, go about having a plan to publish yourself as you are sending out query letters to different publishing companies and agencies.

Website?

www.Curseofthebluevagina.com

Where can we find Curse of the Blue Vagina?

The above website works.

What’s next for you, Jonisha?

My next book and some web shows and pod casts are in the works. Follow me on Facebook to see what is coming up next.

 

Fun interview, Jonisha. Best wishes with Curse of the Blue Vagina!

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

Sacred Writing Spaces

I know many writers who are quite content to write in coffee shops and diners, and between their kids’ dental appointments and soccer games. I know a few who can write on the bus, subway, or in between meetings. I am in awe of them. I’ve tried writing outside the home and it doesn’t work for me. The inevitability of major distraction is a fact: I need a sacred writing space.

I recently read two blog posts written by male writers, who said that the idea of a sacred writing space is pure hogwash, ridiciculous. I disagree, and I’m not a diva, thank you very much. The only sounds and images I want to hear and see whilst writing must come from my imagination; directly from my story and characters. How can I hear what my heroine is saying amidst singing baristas, crying babies, and people who can’t seem to speak in low tones in small spaces? And that’s just inside. Add to that, sirens or disgruntled drivers honking car horns. I can’t, but I’ve sure tried because sometimes I need human interaction as much as the next writer.

pierre on my laptop 002

Here’s what happened the last time I tried to write at one of my favorite coffee shops on a cool summer morning. I sat at my favorite table, plugged in my laptop and began to work on a chapter of my WIP. I was the only customer for an hour until a man entered the coffee shop wearing a trench coat on a summer day. Yeah, a trenchcoat. Like in the movies. He mumbled something to the owner and I began to panic, looking for the nearest exit, which was behind me. As far as I saw, he didn’t buy a thing, and when he left, I asked the owner what he’d wanted. The man was looking for work, she said. I breathed a sigh of relief, and sat back down, irritated at myself for being afraid. Then, I remembered all the shootings and bombings around the world and gave myself a break. I tried to figure out how I could add the man to a short story I’m working on, and then remembered I was there to work on an important chapter in my work in progress, a novel.

Fifteen minutes later, I became irritated by a young woman who yanked a crying toddler off the floor by his arm. Memories flooded in to when as a young mother I’d dislocating my young daughter’s elbow by pulling her up by the arm as she stepped off the curb, deadset in crossing the street alone. God, I’m so glad my kids are grown! That incident was followed by watching a woman sitting outside feeding her tiny puppy bits of an Everything bagel, and wondering why she’d do that. None of my business, I know, but I am a people watcher. I watch!

When I’m writing, I must live as a cloistered nun, sequestered from the world in a convent atop a Himalayan mountain.

I need the solitude, tranquility offered by nature while still feeling part of the world, without the crowds. It’s fortunate I live alone, so no one is bothered by my late night/early morning writing binges, which is the best time to write as far as I’m concerned. There are few cars on the road, and the only sounds I hear are the click clack of the keyboard, early morning birdsong, and the distant sound of freight trains whizzing past. Heaven.

Alone with stacks of books, notebooks, myriad stray pieces of paper with scribbled notes and quotes, a dictionary, and a thesauraus that litter my oak dining room table turned writing desk, I’m in nirvana. At this moment, there are two empty coffee cups (one from yesterday), one water glass, hand lotion, a small lamp, Chapstick, an ashtray, photos of my kids, assorted pens, pencils, and highlighters, and my cell phone, which is on mute. That’s how I like it. Oh, and a chopstick to put up my hair.

Christmas 2013 012

Last holiday season when gifts, Christmas cards, and rolls of wrapping paper took over the dining room table, I was forced to write upstairs in my bedroom–the coldest room in the house. Most days, I wrote in bed with a cold nose and a toasty body under two down comforters. The following Spring, I moved back to the dining room with a view of the garden, and by summer’s end, I’d finished the draft manuscript of my first book at my river lot on the West Virginia side of the Potomac River. With no Internet, TV, and only one radio station out there, it was perfect tranquility and silence during the week with a river view I adored. Weekends brought the ‘crazies’, the loud party people, who I tried to avoid unless family or friends were visiting. Then, of course, we joined in the merrymaking. By the following autumn, I was writing at the dining room table again.

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I’ve since sold the river property, and my dining table has become my #1 sacred writing spot. Christmas 2017 will find me wrapping presents on the living room floor–I’m not moving all that stuff again. I happily write at the cluttered dining room table/writing desk, situated right smack in the middle of my house where I can easily get to the front door to receive packages from Amazon (books, of course). I have a beautiful view of my garden from two windows, and in ten steps, I’m at the kitchen. When I hit the lottery, I’m having a bathroom installed downstairs because as it it now, the only bathroom is upstairs and that’s a major pain. But…as it turns out, besides gardening, climbing the steep staircase of my old house is a good workout since I write for many, many hours on end.

So, if you come for dinner, my writing gear will be safely tucked into two French wicker market baskets, which I’ll hide in the armoire. You’ll never see my clutter as we wine and dine, and I’m a good cook. But I can’t promise I won’t bore you to tears talking about writing, or the book I just finished, or about my new story, book #2, and my awesome new characters.

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani.

When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. She adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is at work on her second novel, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ and thinking about the sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’ titled, ‘Mistress of Coffee’.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

 

 

 

 

 

Lily Pulitzer Reading Glasses and Getting Older

20150405_160228Last night while eating dinner, I realized my reading glasses were still perched on the bridge of my nose. I lifted the reading glasses and looked at my dinner plate. Fuzzy. My tuna salad looked like a green, congealed mess with flecks of black and red. I lowered my reading glasses and voila–tuna salad on a bed of crisp, green Romaine lettuce with bright red tomatoes and black olives. I looked across the room, out the window, and spotted my neighbor’s daughter, the one with curly brown hair and cute dimples. My reading vision is getting worse, but my distance vision is 20-20. Now. But that wasn’t always the case.

In 2004, I decided it was time to look into laser surgery for my failing vision–I had -7 vision in both eyes, which put me in the legally blind category. My vision was so bad that without my eye glasses or contact lenses, I couldn’t see the nose on your face if you stood three feet from me, and if I lost, broke, or misplaced my eyeglasses, I couldn’t drive home even if I was the designated driver that evening. My life with eye glasses started in the third grade after a teacher noticed I was squinting at the black board, so believe me, by 2004 I was ready for laser surgery.

I contacted a highly recommended eye surgeon who lived near my home in Brussels, Belgium and made an appointment for a consultation. Sadly, he informed me that I wasn’t a candidate for laser surgery because my corneas were too thin. I was so disappointed. But as it turned out, he was one of five eye surgeons in the world at that time who performed lens implants–quite a new procedure. Now, the idea of having my eyeball cut and a foreign object placed inside my eye gave me nightmares. What if his scalpel slipped? Then where would I be? Completely blind. Well, it took me two weeks to decide if it was worth submitting to this extremely delicate procedure. I made the appointment. One of the perks was that in Belgium, this type of surgery wasn’t considered cosmetic. Hallelujah. My insurance would cover it. The only issue I might encounter, said the doctor, was a bit of trouble driving at night, and that I’d probably need reading glasses, which at that time, I didn’t need, but had always thought were very cool. No problem.

As I sat in the surgeon’s waiting room, I was given a Valium and on the operating table I went. The worst part was the apparatus to keep my eye open, but the lovely Valium helped a bunch. The procedure took thirty minutes per eye, and when I sat up, I was handed dark sunglasses to protect my delicate eyes. The surgeon asked me to look out the window and I could see. I mean, I looked out the window and saw the narrow stripes on the store awning across the street AND I could read the signs all around his office. I cried like a baby and hugged the surgeon and both nurses in the room. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. In a day or so, I was able to remove the dark glasses and he was right, I soon needed low-prescription reading glasses. My first pair was a black pair like Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo wore, who happen to be some of my favorite actresses. I loved those glasses. Then, an addiction reared its’ ugly head.

I became and still am addicted to reading glasses. I know, it’s nuts. I’m owning and admitting it. I have reading glasses in light aqua and brown (stolen from an old boyfriend), brown, turquoise, tortoise-shell, black, silver, and gold, and I used to own a pair of reading glasses in Lilly Pulitzer colors. Remember her preppie, pastel-colored vacation clothes? Yuck. I must have been insane to wear those clothes in the seventies. I gave that pair away. Well, I’m always on the lookout for a new pair of reading glasses. When I travel, I look for new colors and must pack at least three pairs because there’s nothing more irritating or unseemly as trying to read a Washington, DC, Paris or London subway or street map with your face all scrunched up. Lately, I’m craving a lavender pair of reading glasses.

As a writer, I can easily sit at the laptop for eight to ten hours a day and in that time, my little reading glasses rarely leave bridge of my nose. Every now and then, like when I run to the kitchen for a cup of tea or coffee, let the dog out, or take a walk, I take them off, but pretty much, they’re on my face. I have reading glasses in my car, by my bed, in the bathroom, near the couch, by my laptop, and in several purses. Actually, I should leave a pair at my son and daughter’s houses, too. I can think of no other item that I have as many duplicates of…well, okay…I have a helluva lot of shoes.

Twelve years on, thank God my vision is still 20-20, and I still drive at night with no problem. I’m adapting and accepting my age. I’m getting used to my fluctuating weight, creaking knees, gravity, and my more than taut than muscles that need constant stretching, but my eyes are special. I take good care of them. So since I know I’m never giving up writing and blogging, or wearing reading glasses, I’m enlarging the font and getting on with it!

This week I might check out the mall for reading glasses. Maybe they’ll have a lavender pair that come with a cute case, and maybe it’s time for an eye glass chain. Look, the way I see it, because I was brave, I saved money on what I would have otherwise spent on contact lenses, eye glasses, and opthamology appointments, and I spend $10-20 a month on my addiction–reading glasses. See what I mean?

About Eleanor

ellie

Puerto Rican novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and a refugee case worker, inspire her stories.

‘A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, and is listed in Centro Voices, The Center of Puerto Rican Studies, ‘Essential Boricua Reading for the 2015 Holiday Season’. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, she loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor adores her two adult children, animals, and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Immaculata’ and working on a collection of short stories.

http://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia-ebook/dp/B00TUP47W

 

 

 

The Writing Life in 2016: Slow Down Already!

The Writing Life in 2016: Slow Down Already!

by Eleanor Parker Sapia

I don’t know about you, but I am experiencing the unsettling urgency of a new year like nobody’s business. I woke up today and realized the date was January 6, Three Kings’ Day. Where did the first week of 2016 go?

Honestly, the last time I truly felt organized was New Year’s Day, which I spent washing and putting away a small mountain of plates and glasses, thinking back to the fun party I’d hosted the night before. We had a great time. I drank a gallon of orange juice and popped 400 mg of Motrin twice that day for a banging headache that wouldn’t let go. I’d also enjoyed hosting my family for Christmas Day dinner, which was a lot of fun. It was one of the best Christmas holidays I can remember, except for missing my son who lives in Europe. We will see him soon, though! But back to feeling disorganized.

This morning I sipped my coffee and realized the last blog post I’d written was posted a few days before Christmas Eve. And I hadn’t touched my work in progress in two weeks. This startled me. I’m an organized person. I’m a writer. I write for a living! Then I remembered: this scary scenario happens to me every January. I felt a bit better because I always make up for a slow start to the new year by working hard during the year, and ending the year with a bang. But January 6 was staring me down. I opened the closet door and dragged out three wicker baskets that contain my WIP; several bulky notebooks; the research material for my second book; a short pile of envelopes (read, December bills); and my 2015 calendar, all hidden away in the closet, so we’d have enough dance floor space on NYE.

I ripped ‘December 2015’ off my calendar and squinted at the tiny January 2016 calendar on the next page. No good, I couldn’t read it, but I did see where I’d written ‘Nothing due this week’ on the side. Thank God. But where was the 2016 calendar I’d bought before the holidays? Everything was a blur. I remembered buying a calendar, but couldn’t be 100% certain. What a mess. Thank goodness I hadn’t let anyone down with a promised guest post, an author interview, and I didn’t have any meetings or appointments this week. It was a major relief, but that early January shock to my system was jarring.

Unlike a lot of folks, I’ve never enjoyed putting myself through the tedious, annoying, and potentially humiliating process of writing down my new year resolutions that I damn well know I’m not going to keep…for long. Who likes to revisit the list, say in March, only to realize you accomplished and crossed off one or two items? If you’re anything like me, you resent the items you’ve written almost immediately because you hate routine and yes, you’re a bit on the rebellious side. I’m not going to stick to a list of resolutions. I know myself very well, so no.

Instead, I wrote a simple list to keep me on the straight and narrow because I didn’t like the emotional, disorganized, fast-moving train I was on this morning—a train I was ready to abandon before the next stop, which I wouldn’t be prepared for because I didn’t know what the destination was, or how much time I had. Clearly, I was in a bit of a fog. I needed to slam on the brakes and get it together. I made a large pot of coffee and made a decision. I needed a list for this week. Yes, I liked the sound of that. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Once a week, preferably Sunday evening or Monday morning, make a list.
  2. Stick to and update the said list.
  3. Say no to all social invitations.
  4. Remain in writing seat until the book is finished.
  5. Cancel Netflix.
  6. For goodness sake, buy another 2016 calendar.

About Eleanor

ellie

Puerto Rican novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee caseworker, inspire her stories.

‘A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, and is listed in Centro Voices, The Center of Puerto Rican Studies, ‘Essential Boricua Reading for the 2015 Holiday Season’. Book clubs across the United States continue to enjoy A Decent Woman. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani. She is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and the Historical Novel Society, and she is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor is the mother of two wonderful adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel and a collection of short stories.

http://amzn.to/1kzKdGq