Throw eggs at me if you’re not the Valentine’s celebrating kind of person because this post is very heavily inspired by Valentine’s Day and love.
Call me a hopeless romantic but I was never the single person who was very bitter on Valentine’s Day. I think it’s because I don’t attach my value and self worth to whether I was in a relationship or not. Progressive of me, right?! I was always ahead of my time (I joke).
So, this blog post is my Valentine’s gift to you because it’s chock full of goodies. First I have a pop culture inspired short story for Valentine’s Day. Then I have my monthly feature of the week in the form of a pop culture discussion of the recent Oscar nominations. And finally I share an update on my memoir with an excerpt from it inspired by Valentine’s Day. You can’t say I didn’t get you anything for Valentine’s Day! 💐 🍫
Short Story: “Spoken For” By Laura Hagemann
Frances had a hard go of it lately so she planned to really relax and enjoy the afterlife. When she was greeted at the pearly gates (that are really more silver than pearly) by her best friend Slyvie (who had died of cancer two years earlier) Frances was almost giddy. She felt like she and her friend were embarking on a relaxing vacation and the bubbles of excitement she was feeling were being emitted as tiny girlish giggles. She hadn’t giggled since long before Slyvie had died and it felt really, really good! Slyvie looked at her giggling friend and said a line that she had heard other people say to their newly arrived friends at the silver/pearly gates: “I’m happy to see you but not happy you’re here.” Slyvie had learned in her Heaven 101 class when she first arrived in heaven to never ask a new arrival “WHAT HAPPENED? How’d you die?” Even when people first arrived at the silver/pearly gates with crazy things like knives stuck out of their body. You weren’t supposed to ask. It wasn’t polite or kind. Even though Frances looked battered and bruised, she didn’t ask. (She also didn’t ask because she unfortunately assumed from her knowledge of her friend’s troubled marriage that Frances was probably battered, bruised, and newly arrived in heaven because her no-good, abusive husband Frank had finally done the thing that Slyvie had been warning her friend for years: killed her.) But again, she didn’t ask.
The two friends embraced as they smiled from ear to ear. Slyvie took Frances’ hand and squeezed. “Ooh, your nails need some help!” Slyvie said as she looked at Frances’ rough and jagged nails. Frances laughed good naturedly and said “Dying is hard on your cuticles!” Slyvie loved this line and told Frances that she needed to tell Alice, Slyvie’s Heavenly Manicurist, who they were about to go see. “She is updating the advertising for her salon so she might really like that line” Slyvie said as she steered her friend across the heavenly street. Frances looked dismayed, “You mean that there is even advertising in heaven?!!” As if in answer to her question a cloud cab floated by emblazoned with ads on its sides. Slyvie laughed “You wouldn’t believe all the earth-like things here in heaven!” As they entered the salon Frances said loudly to her friend “Please don’t tell me that there are telemarketers in heaven!” A slender woman with purple streaks in her hair laughed at Frances’ comment as she greeted the women and showed them to two chairs. “Thankfully no telemarketers here because there aren’t really bottom lines that have to be met. When God is your landlord he doesn’t charge rent or require you to pay bills, so no one has to employ crazy ways to get money like telemarketers,” Alice (the woman with purple streaks in her hair) said as she gently placed Slyvie’s hands in a warm bowl of water to soak. The women spoke about a variety of topics as Slyvie and Frances had their nails done. The mood in the salon was light and jovial until a petite redhead hurriedly rushed in and sat down with her eyes clearly red and brimmed with tears. The happy buzz of the salon turned to a hush as the redhead quietly sat clearly trying to swallow her tears. Frances wondered what was happening until the woman doing Frances’ manicure, Evelyn, turned to the redhead and started to console her. “Grace, dear, what is the matter?” It was then that Grace told a story of heartbreak that Frances knew that heaven really was a lot like earth.
“Everyone warned me when I first met him to not fall for him!” Grace sobbed “but did my stupid heart listen… [gulp]…[sobs]…NO!!!” “Of course he doesn’t love ME. He loves HER and is waiting for her!! [gulp]…[sobs]…he’s been waiting for 40 years for HER!!” Grace blubbered all this in between chest rattling sobs. She loudly blew her nose and looked up at the women (Frances included) who were giving her sympathetic looks throughout her literal sob story. “You mean Allen?” Evelyn asked quietly as she handed Grace another package of tissues. Grace nodded as she slid down in her chair. “And she finally arrived today after 40 years!!” Grace blurted as she dissolved in a fresh round of tears. Evelyn brought Grace a cup of tea and they all listened, riveted to every word, as Grace told the tale of how once she had arrived in heaven that she had fallen in love with Allen Ludden, a man who had been waiting for the heavenly arrival of his true love, his wife, Betty White. Those earth-bound souls know Betty White as a comedic actress who was as funny as she was devoted to her husband, Allen Ludden, who had died in 1981. Betty was a successful actress (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) when her husband was living but had several more runs at commercial success after Allen died (“The Golden Girls”, “Hot in Cleveland”, and movies). As soon as Grace revealed WHO she had fallen in love with, Frances couldn’t help but momentarily dislike her a little bit (because how dare she try to take sweet and wonderful Betty White’s true love)! Frances hadn’t known that Betty White had arrived in heaven at the same time as her. She couldn’t help but feel a little starstruck at the mere mention of Betty’s name.
However, after hearing all of Grace’s story about how she arrived in heaven freshly out of a horrible relationship that had consumed her and left Grace raw and empty, Frances couldn’t help but feel a kinship with her (their stories of bad relationships were really not dissimilar).
Apparently when Grace was newly arrived in heaven (about a year ago) she first met Allen Ludden. He was kind, genuine, funny, and a gentleman. He was the polar opposite of her horrible earthly husband Hank. Grace and Allen served on several heavenly committees together (yes, there are still committees and meetings in heaven). Allen was always a polite gentleman to Grace and never led her on. He was as open with everyone in heaven about his devotion to his Betty as Betty was open about her devotion to Allen to everyone on earth. Grace knew of Betty White! (She hadn’t lived under a rock when on earth!) However, her poor battered heart, ego and self-worth couldn’t help but blossom under the kindness of Allen’s friendship. She had been so self-loathing when she first arrived in heaven that she couldn’t really make eye contact with anyone. Allen noticed and was ever the caring friend and poor Grace’s heart mistook that kindness for love. Logically Grace knew Allen would always just be her friend, that he was spoken for, yet her poor battered heart didn’t pay attention to logic. And so now here Grace sat sobbing in a nail salon and trying not to smudge her fresh manicure (a light pink shade called “Heavenly Blush”). After more cups of tea and quiet consoling, Frances and Slyvie left the salon with the promise of calling Grace the next day. Slyvie could tell her friend was touched by Grace’s story and saw herself in it. “That’s a good lesson for your first day. Don’t fall for those who are waiting for their earthly true loves. That’s another thing that’s the same here in heaven: people can still be off-limits because they’re spoken for” Slyvie said as she led her friend down one of the shiny streets of heaven.
Monthly Feature of the Week: Pop Culture: Oscar Nominations
To be honest I haven’t been this disengaged from the Oscars and movies in a very long time. I would like to check out a few of the nominated movies and this article gives a nice list of where/how to watch the nominees. Nominated movies I am definitely going to see: CODA, The Power of the Dog, The Lost Daughter.
#MemoirMonday Monthly Focus: Discussion of the Week- Write First Half of Memoir
Note: If you’re new to my blog, I am working on writing a memoir about recovering from a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and coma that I experienced in September 2016. Each Monday (or really just each week) I focus on a different area of writing my memoir in a weekly blog post I call “#MemoirMonday.” You can read more about my memoir on my dedicated Memoir Monday page.
I talked last week about adding visuals to my memoir. I haven’t made any progress with that yet but the memoir class that I am taking on Meetup.com is INCREDIBLE and VERY HELPFUL so I have high hopes for my progress this month. For Valentine’s Day I thought I would share an “excerpt” (I am in such an early stage of writing that it’s hard to tell if this will be in the finished memoir). It’s semi-related to love!
“I couldn’t believe we were back here again with loved ones setting me up with strangers. And this nerdy, awkward, tall, gangly guy in a sweater vest carrying a guitar was a downgrade from previous setups. I mean he had to be pushing 60 (and I wasn’t even 40 yet, at the time). Yet I sat quietly as he serenaded me and played his awkward little heart out all while smiling from ear to ear. Too bad music was lost on me then (because I was completely deaf for three months following the car accident and coma I experienced). I look back on this memory and I think this may have happened before my parents and doctors knew I was non-hearing following the accident. (And I didn’t really know it myself and couldn’t express it and just instinctively read lips.) I had been hearing before the accident and loved music. So my parents had happily signed up to have a music therapist come work with me in the hospital and that was the gangly sweater-vest wearing guy with a guitar. He wasn’t serenading me. I wasn’t being set up again. Thankfully. Hopefully a coma and Traumatic Brain Injury is a “Get Out of Being Set Up Free Card- FOREVER!”