Radio Days

Well, I haven’t been able to do much blogging, and I have a lot of ideas I want to explore. Which makes me frustrated. But I have been busy getting my short story collection, “Radio Days” off the ground. It took a lot of organization and detail work, which is not my forte. Neither is self promotion. A couple of people have asked me about my book sales and I’ve looked at them with horror. Book sales? OMG!

I do feel good about myself that I followed through on this. When you’re young, you feel you have so much time to accomplish all you want. And then 70 hits you in the face. My motto has become, “Do it now. While you still have a chance.” Tick tock.

So here’s my book. You can order it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Also go to my author website at cyndymuscatelauthor.com to watch the book trailer and learn more.

Here’s a little blurb on the book:

 

Conflict and character are the basic ingredients of a story well told—and Radio Days is brimming with twenty-three such stories. Spanning decades, the stories in this thoughtful collection follow very different characters: the rich and the poor; the young and the old. Many are on a hero’s journey along a path to self-knowledge. Others never face reality.

And from the early part of the twentieth century until today, the radio has played in the background of our lives—just as it does in each of these tales. In “My Father’s Story,” set in rural 1924 America, Sidney, the son of immigrants, tries to stop his father from burning down the family store. “Khrushchev In My Dreams” centers on a teenager’s fear of annihilation during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. “Eruption” recounts a family’s urgent journey to survive the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption. And “Confessions of the Hot Flash Queen” follows a twenty-first century woman coming into her own with humor and strength.

 

 

An Old Dog Learning New Tricks?

I think I’m so smart but I’m as stupid as ever. One of my NYRs was to slow down and see the world around me: to not be in such a rush; to not cram more into a day that can fit; to not rob Peter to pay Paul. But give me a chance and I’ll do them all.

Take this morning. I started my day right with a walk and yoga. But on my walk to yoga, I talked to my daughter the whole time so I was basically in two places at once. I attempted to stay in the present during yoga but my mind wandered to places all over the world.

But that wasn’t so bad. It was on the way home that I really blew it. I started doing my email, thinking that I could do it then and save time when I got home. Fortunately something made me look up and I realized what an idiot I was being. My walk is on an ocean pathway that is gorgeous any day. But today it’s very windy (there’s a storm somewhere) and the surf is amazing.

The waves in front of me hit the rocks with such force that the spray blossomed like a fireworks flower.

Why was I looking down when all this glory was around me?

“Put your phone down,” the actually wise part of me said. “Quit multi-tasking and enjoy!”

A lesson learned? I hope so.

 

Radio Morning

So I did the radio interview. I did a two-hour preparation for the eight minutes, consolidating and outlining my main points. I’m not much for promoting myself but I knew this was an opportunity to push Radio Days so I had half a page just on the book. Someone advised me to spread out the pages on my desk so I could see all of them at once, which I did. But the time went quickly; I didn’t have time to look at the color coded pages. Eight minutes goes so fast that I left some important things out. Like thanking Writer’s Relief for guiding me all these years.

 Not to say I’m an anxious person, but I did wake up at 4:30 in the morning—of course I did. Even if I’m in the elderly category, I’m still a nervous jervis. As my Aunt Lil always said, “Where ever you go, you take yourself with you.”

Besides, when you’re in the senior aging department, you have more to worry about than simply failing. You have to make sure your hearing aids have fresh batteries and are tuned up. You have to make sure your voice will be clear and not hoarse. (This required gargling with salt water, drinking tea with honey and sucking on a cough drop.) Another problem I have as a senior is sneezing a jillion times. Since they mowed the grass today, I had to use the Neti Pot and take Sudafed. Also, I only get two bars on my cell phone so I had to remind myself not to move while I was talking.

One good thing though about radio—it didn’t matter how I looked.

Renewing My Vows

The last time I wrote a blog for A Corner of my Mind was two months ago. A lot has happened since then, good and bad. A lot of it was crazy making stuff that took me away from my writing. Yesterday, amidst a lot of stuff going on (all good), I looked at this wrinkled scrap of paper I’d taped to my computer. It contained my New Year’s Resolutions from a couple of years ago. The last item was, Write a blog every two weeks.

I’d managed to do that pretty well until November. As I sat there yesterday, I vowed that I would get back to doing so ASAP. Nothing like the present to achieve that goal.

I’m not sure what sent me off the rails. True, I didn’t have the use of a computer around Thanksgiving. When I did, I was dealing with police detectives investigating our burglary, and with contractors who were rebuilding our home after our flood.

Then the fun stuff started with our grandson’s visit with three college friends to our condo in Hawaii. After the friends left, the whole rest of our family came for the Winter Holiday. We have three grandsons in college–a whole subset of culture. One night I cleared out my freezer by making every kind of junk food stored there–perfect college fare. Then we have two granddaughters. The seven-year-old adores her sixteen-year-old cousin!

I love watching my family interact–it’s a grandmother’s delight. I didn’t want to miss a moment of pool time hi-jinks or even just sitting around talking. We’re only together now for a short time, once a year, so forget writing.

But by the time they left on January 3rd, I’d gotten out of the habit of sitting in front of the computer and putting my thoughts on paper. I started doing things like making soup, watching football and ironing. Fortunately, I started teaching my memoir writing class on January 7. This got me back on track with a chapter in my own memoir. And I remembered the feeling of being in the zone that I can only get from writing.

So once again, I’m baaaccckkkk! Happy New Year!!!


Oh, What To Do? An update!

I’m in trouble. I’ve lost my calendar which is akin to losing my mind. I had it yesterday, but since it’s coming onto December, I thought I decided not to take it with me. But it’s not on my desk where I thought it would be.

I’ve been trying to remember what other data I have in the calendar besides places to go and things to do. I’m afraid of what could be on those empty pages, like my credit card numbers. Yikes!!!!

Besides, I’m totally flummoxed. I can’t do anything and I’m feeling deja vu all over again. It’s like I’m in a chapter of “Toad and Frog”. Did you ever read those books? One day Toad loses his list of things to do and that’s it for him. He can’t do a thing for the rest of the day.  That’s me right now. Besides hunting for the darn thing, I haven’t done a darn thing.


This is so bad that it might push me to convert to using the calendar on my phone. And that is something I’ve been resisting. I’ve used the same format for years and I love it. Or loved it.


Last year’s 

I’d write more, but I’ve got to get back to hunting for my calendar.

The above blog is such yesterday’s news. I found my calendar where I’d left it when I was leading the book club. Well, someone found it and turned it into Security. Which means someone probably read my list of what stresses me out that was tucked into the calendar. That’s embarrassing as it’s mostly just white whines. Oh well. Oh hell. At least I now know what I’m doing tomorrow.


Oh, To Just Be a Hypochondriac!

So my hair is falling out. With my fine, sparse hair, I need this to happen like I need a new hole in my head.

In today’s world of taking photos all the time, I could go back and see when it started. My hair (for me) looked full and healthy in June at our grandson’s high school graduation. It looked fine when I had cataract surgery in July. It looked okay in August when my daughter and granddaughter visited. By September, the truth was becoming obvious.

I went to see the dermatologist about it.

“Oh yes, “ she said with relish. “Your hair is definitely falling out.”

You want your physician to have a positive take on things but I thought this was taking positivity a bit too far.

“I started using some products in August that were supposed to give my hair more volume and body. Maybe they were too harsh,” I suggested.

The doc shook her head. “No, it’s not caused by damage. Your hair is shedding at the roots. “

Oh great, I thought. I just threw away sixty bucks of product for nothing.

“It’s called Telogen Effluvium.,” she continued as if she didn’t see the distress on my face.

“What causes it? Does it last forever? Am I going to be completely bald?”

I actually only asked the first two these questions, even if the third was uppermost on my scalp.

“Stress is the major cause,” she said. “Are you under any stress?”

“I’ve been under terrible stress since November 8, 2016 and it hasn’t gotten better as time goes by,” I said. “When they started taking babies away from their parents who were trying to get asylum, even my always low blood pressure went up.”

She looked at me as if I were speaking a different language. “Pardon me?” she said.

“Never mind,” I said. “Yes, I’ve had several stressful months. My husband has been sick.”

“Have you changed any medications?”

I nodded. “Several.”
“How’s your thyroid?”

The conversation continued this way for a while. I left the office with something called “Women’s Alopecia Solution” and an information pamphlet.

When I told my husband the diagnosis, he said, “What stress?”

I’m telling you, my main stress producer said this with a straight face.

“Let me count the ways,” I said.

There’s nothing like hair loss to make me want to create change. I’m actually doing things to reduce my stress. Number one, I don’t watch television or read the news. I’m meditating a bit and slowing down. And I try not to think about the thinning that’s reduced my bangs to a teensy bang.

“Worrying about losing your hair is only going to stress you out,” my husband had advised. That seemed true.

As I clean the hair droppings out of the sink, I try not to freak. The good news is that at least I know I’m not just paranoid and delusional.

But oh for the good ol’ days when I was only a hypochondriac.

 

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Survivor Guilt 2: The Massage Therapist

via Survivor Guilt 2: The Massage Therapist

Survivor Guilt 2: The Massage Therapist

 

IMG_1180Has anyone had a horrific massage experience besides me?

All of this Kavanaugh stuff is bringing up memories I’m not that fond of. The massage happened when I was forty. My kids were 17 and 13. I thought I was old.

My back went totally out that year when we were on vacation visiting my parents in Palm Springs. “Get a massage,” my husband suggested.

The only massage therapist was male and I said I didn’t care. I just needed some relief.

It all started fine. He was very strong and could get at my tangled muscles.

Then he said, “I can’t believe you’re forty. Your body is perfect.”

I should have heard the warning bell clanging “DANGER” but again I say, I thought I was old so I ignored the comment.

A few minutes later, he had pushed his body so close to my side that I could feel his erection.

That caused all kinds of alarms to go off. What the hell? I thought and scooted towards the center of the table. I tried to be subtle about it, nice girl that I am. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

He moved to the head of the table–it was not good. This kind of thing continued until I was scared to death. “Just let this be over,” I said to myself.

I didn’t know what to do. Now I would have said, “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Get out of here.” Then I started praying that my husband would come to meet me.

Which he did. The massage was over and I was standing in the room (I have no recollection of what the room looked like or what I was wearing, etc. ) when I heard my husband’s hearty voice at the door. I’ve never been happier to hear him because the massage therapist had just told me to hug him.

I was a well brought up, polite woman. WHO DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF. I needed my husband to rescue me.

And again I felt guilty. What was the matter with me that things like this happened? What was I doing wrong?

Did I report this man? I thought about it but I didn’t. That’s what I did wrong.

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Survivor Guilt #1

via Survivor Guilt #1

Survivor Guilt #1

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Surviving sexual assault brings with it another load for survivors to carry: guilt. People demand to know: “Why didn’t Dr. Ford  come forward right away? Why can she remember some details and not the others.”
I can’t answer for anyone else but me.
I can tell you this: you never forget the fear.
I was 22 and I can still feel my revulsion as his stubby fingers came at me. I was lucky. I was not raped–I was barely touched, but I get a sick feeling to this day when I think about it.

I was teaching at Meany Junior High in Seattle. Someone had been sending me notes for weeks, each getting more suggestive. I ignored them, thinking if I did that it would all go away. The last note demanded that I meet the sender at a coffee shop. I didn’t go, of course. But what if I had? (Interesting, I remember the notes, but I don’t remember if I threw them away. Did I tear them up?)

The next morning before school, my classroom door was flung open so hard that it sounded like a gun shot when it hit the wall. I looked up. This man I considered my mentor came rushing towards my desk, shouting. He grabbed me, still shouting. He accused me of leading him on. Then he tried to kiss me. I struggled to avoid his lips. Luckily I was hardly touched. The bell rang and a student came into the room. Talk about being saved by the bell.

I was not raped physically but I knew if the situation had been different, I might have been. But had I inadvertently been leading him on? Maybe it was my fault.
I didn’t tell anyone for 25 years. It was the Anita Hill hearings that induced me to tell my husband and parents. My mother had said, “Oh, I don’t think that’s true. Why wouldn’t she have said something over all these years.”
I said so quietly that they didn’t hear the first time, “It happened to me and I never said anything.”
I remember some of that morning fifty years ago, but details have faded. Like I said, I remember the fear. I don’t think I had bruises on my arms, but I can’t remember. I wanted to forget it had happened. So I buried it deep.

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