Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Can't Wait for Summer

I have only one more day of driving before I hang up my school bus keys for the summer. Last year, I was as excited and delighted as I am now. But last year, after I backed my bus into its parking spot and turned off the ignition, I started to cry. Not because I was unhappy about leaving, but because I suddenly realized driving my bus was helping me stay connected to someone I lost the year before.   

This year however, I have a lot to look forward to since I’ll be travelling even further than I did last year when I went to Mississippi and Tennessee, where I did research for the book I’m writing, a follow up to my memoir Rude Awakening. This year I am flying to Europe to visit my son in Darmstadt, a city just south of Frankfurt. From there we are heading north to a quaint little town called Celle, where we will visit his wife’s mother, one of the loveliest women I’ve ever met.

I also intend to visit two of my favorite sites - Heidelberg and Lichtenstein. (Did you know that during World War II there was an agreement between the British and the Nazis, one in which the British agreed not to bomb Heidelberg and the Nazis agreed not bomb Oxford?) 

Whenever we’ve gone to Heidelberg in the past, we’ve parked the car and gone down a whole lot of steps, actually descending into the city. Last time we went, we had lunch in a tavern under a great big stained-glass dome that looked and felt like sitting beneath a Tiffany lampshade. In Lichtenstein, which is located at the top of a mountain, there is a beautiful old museum and a cafĂ© from which you can look down and see the cars - which look like ants - as they move along the country road below.

Then, while my son returns to work, my daughter and I will be travelling to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre, to walk along the Seine and to drink coffee on the Champs Elysees – a place I’ve read and dreamed about since I was a child. I am so excited!

Then it’s back to the airport in Frankfurt, where I’ve the feeling I’ll be shedding more tears before I return to my  bus once again in September.

Monday, June 6, 2016

On Writing

I read this book, Stephen King’s On Writing, years ago when I started my memoir and now I’ve started reading it again because I knew that reading it would give me the swift kick in the pants I needed to finish my second book. 

I learned a lot from this book. For instance, I learned that Stephen King has a wicked sense of humor. I learned how to spell a word, which despite my Italian heritage, I would never have learned how to spell. Fuhgeddaboutit! (That’s the word!)  And I learned that Stephen King sometimes thinks the way I do (parenthetically!)

But the most important thing I learned how to do while reading On Writing for the second time was to turn off the TV, which I have always turned on in the evening for company and for noise. I’ve been trying to turn it off for ages and finally, at his suggestion, I succeeded.

It’s been five days since I last had it on and I’ve experienced no tremors, no DTs! Just peace and quiet and lots of time for writing and reading. And guess what else I learned. I learned that instead of keeping me company, the TV was actually making me feel more lonely and that reading has the exact opposite effect.

In his book, which is part memoir and part how-to-write guide, Stephen King says that despite being a slow reader  (Really Stephen?!), he manages to read at least 70 books a year. So I’ve decided to challenge myself and see if I can match that. (Game on!)

Wish me luck!