Goodbye, 2018!

This has been a year, hasn’t it? I mean, they all are, of course, but this one seems to have had more than 12 months in it.

We had to spend the first eight months fighting to protect our little family. Someone got it into her head to try to take our puppy away from us. Lots of drama, strangers being sent to our door, the police sent to our house (first time that’s happened), going to court… in the end, Good won, Evil lost, and Gingeroo is right where she belongs — with us.

It chewed up months of our lives. Our birthdays, our anniversary, everything got swallowed by The Battle For Gingeroo. But in the end, we found out we have a few really good, true friends who were willing to help us, we met an absolutely genius lawyer, and we reaffirmed that Good can triumph, if it’s willing to keep fighting and take good advice.

We finished our novel, and saw it getting favorited on Amazon’s new book program, so much so that it made the “hot list” several times — but then Amazon ended the program. Oops! Back to square one, so we’re shopping for an agent, while writing three new books. Meanwhile, the first novel has done well with beta readers and in live readings, in addition to the love it got during the Amazon program, and a great review. So we know there’s an audience and just have to keep plugging away.

During the process, we’re learning a lot about querying, social media, all the stuff that comes with being an author. We’ve been writers (magazines, newspapers, radio), but now we’re becoming a brand. Which feels odd. And requires learning lots of new skills, which is actually more fun than I thought it’d be.

We lost two of our friends at the same time, people who had never met but who both left our lives at almost the same moment. This is an experience I’ve had before — my mother and grandmother died 30 days apart — but is also one for which you can’t prepare. We’ve lost people slowly, and lost them quickly, and there is no “better” way. You’re never ready to lose someone you’re fond of. It still doesn’t seem quite real that both John and Kathleen are gone.

But we’re taking what they’ve taught us into the world. Kathleen was an enthusiastic, generous person. She loved to shop. I’m not much of a shopper, so I don’t have the skills a talented shopper has. Kathleen was great about sharing tips and tricks. I recently used some things she taught me to score something Mark and I wanted, on clearance, free shipping… Kathleen would have understood why I was trying to “high five” myself (for the record, I still haven’t found a way to do it that doesn’t feel lame).

John was a singer/songwriter, a musician and music producer. Music was his life, and he was really good at it. He was also funny, generous and kind. Even when illness was bringing him to his knees, he played benefit concerts. If he couldn’t play, he sang. Every holiday season, we would visit and join John and his wife (a lovely, fierce, wonderful lady who hadn’t planned to be a public person but fell in love with John, so I won’t put her name here) for dinner. Mark and John usually talked shop — music, audio, recording. They agreed about a lot, but had some things they didn’t agree on that became running gags.

His wife and I would catch up on family and friends, and just, y’know, chat, the way you do with a friend. Mark and I would get tickets for the benefit John was sure to be playing, and the shows were always great, but the best memories are of the four of us around a table, eating and talking.

One time, we went to Barton G’s in Hollywood. It was hilarious. They brought out the food with props. Popcorn shrimp in a big popcorn machine. Sushi with a sword stuck into the platter. The best were the desserts. John and his wife ordered an ice cream sundae that came in a pirate’s treasure chest (a big one), surrounded by edible gold nuggets, graham cracker crumb “sand.” John looked at the shovel sticking out of the sundae, started laughing, and said, “Do we eat the shovel? I can’t tell what’s food and what isn’t!”

Our dessert had a cotton candy bouffant hairdo on a wig head, with candy stuck all over it. The four of us found ourselves acting like sharks, nibbling random things just to see if they were edible.

Before we left, they invited us over and we met the sister of John’s wife, who was charming. John played tracks of songs he was working on and told scandalous stories, and we all just relaxed.

Thinking about all of this has me more than usually aware that I need to be fully present when I’m with a friend. Not distracted by things I want to get done, or things I think I should be doing. Someone once said, “If you ain’t where you is, you ain’t nowhere.” I’m going to try to be where I am in the new year.

I hope wherever you are, your “where” is good to you. Happy New Year!

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