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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

It’s been a long time since I took up my figurative blogging pen, but, in my defense, it has been just as long since I have reserved a corner table at the local Starbucks. The two are directly tied together. Thanks to some generous birthday gifts and, with any luck, a more peaceable schedule, I hope to get back to both.

So grab your favorite hot drink and join me for a little catch up…
Where to start? Coffee. I still love coffee. And my niece. She’s full of smiles that warm my heart. Oh yeah. I had a birthday. The best birthday so far.

IMG_0310I went into work one average Monday morning to find a scavenger hunt had been laid out for me. I admit to being a bit thick at the time of day and slightly stuck in a mire that had quenched both creativity and intellect, so it took me far longer than it should have to understand what was coming. As it turned out, my parents had booked a midweek get-a-way to NYC for hot-tubbing, shopping, eating really good food, and–most importantly–The Piano Guys first concert at Carnegie Hall (which also turned out to be a live recording… so cool!). I had dreamed about going to the concert in that savory ‘I’ll-never-do-this-but-it-would-be-once-in-a-lifetime’ way, especially because TPG was flying in artists from all over the world in a special celebration. But that my parents pulled the trip off in the middle of our busy lives and a WORK WEEK… epic.

So the very next day we headed down to New York, where I promptly found that Marvel’s Avenger S.T.A.T.I.O.N. was stillIMG_0362
very much alive in the Discovery Museum just outside Time’s Square. Who could turn down becoming agents or trying on Iron Man’s armor in a virtual sim that allowed for flight and weapon’s testing? And, yes, we had Starbucks in the city on a less-crowded walk before proceeding to Carnegie Hall for what will become one of my favorite memories. Showing my dad–who is definitely not a city guy–the M&M’s store and petting a life-sized Sven at the Disney Store was the whipped cream on my hot chocolate.

The Piano Guys exceeded my expectations and the whole trip had the effect of restoring good spirits and creativity to my seriously depleted stores. The proof is in the pudding: the very next day I had a writing marathon of 13,000 words (to give you some context, the aggressive NaNoWriMo program gets people to write 50,000 in a month).

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Flash forward to my actual birthday–one of cake and goofy faces and family–and I had all I could wish for. I could continue to go into great detail about the fun we had and the jokes we shared and the friend that took me to the movies that coming Friday, but I think I have probably used up enough words for the time being. 483 to be exact.

Thanks for joining me in a cup of joe and a good conversation. May your day be full of funny faces and joy. Your friendly neighborhood writer,

Jessie Mae

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On this quiet morning, with my parents still asleep above me and the furnace warming the house, I find myself with an unfamiliar ache. I woke up missing my Sister Kate (she’s on vacation with her husband. Good for her!) with a furry that actually made me stiff and sore. That I would miss her was no surprise at all. Kate and I have been joined since I entered the world of men. But, being a reflective sort of person, I thought that the pain of her being on vacation was a bit over dramatic. Pretty soon I realized that I might have been misplacing some of the longing for a sister.

When other sister was four years old, she stood up in church and told the congregation what she was going to do with her life. Now, twenty-six years later, she’s in the Middle East to do just that. When we traveled through the ice and snow last weekend to say our goodbyes and join in her farewell service at her home church in New York, I felt very little other than a healthy dose of affection for her. In the first place, she has lived away most of my memory-making years (for college, grad-school, and a year and a half in Southeast Asia). And in the second place, I have been prepped since birth to accept her leaving. So while I was prepared to miss her, I wasn’t prepared to feel this. It is not missing, really. I probably wouldn’t have spoken to her in the last week anyway. No. It is the deep understanding that as she pursues her calling, life will not return to the way it was. Twice-yearly hang-out trips turned shopping and Broadway in New York City are behind us. Teaching a class together, editing a novel, watching Netflix on the couch until we both fall asleep, coffee dates… Those things may or may not ever happen again.

But that ache I woke up with, once understood, could be turn to joy. Because while life will never be the same, that may be the best thing ever. Just imagine, teaching together at a University in the Middle East instead of New York, or sharing a cup of coffee as tourists in Jerusalem, or creating a novel based on the things I witness when I visit her. Yes… Life will never be the same again. And that is perfectly okay.

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1528476_10202258398838086_581389364_nSpending Christmas Eve Eve with my nephews was thoroughly worth the cold they could not help but share. That said, it made for a strange Christmas. A holiday of slowness. Of television marathons with a grand total of hours that would have been simply shameful under other circumstances. Of sharing tissue boxes and drinking tea and resting in piles on the couch. And then… Christmas was over.

Church came around and post-chaos/sickness cleaning began. We continued to find time to rest on the couch, but soon we did so alone–without my New York Sister or Sister Kate or her husband. There was still fun to be had. In cleaning out closets, we could not help but try on old ball gowns, reliving memories of each occasion. We snatched moments alone to dream and reset. We even eked enough life from ourselves to drag ourselves to the movie theater, catching the Walter Mitty remake. And now as the real world officially begins again, I am grateful for a little more oxygen in my lungs, for good, good memories, and for the new church family that has made me feel so at home.

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The day has arrived, folks! Mark of Orion is finally available for your reading pleasure. It has been two years since my last book release, but it seems like just yesterday we were doing all this for Xsardis.

IMG_20131115_140209_737I am sitting at my kitchen counter with a million curlers and bobby pins in my head, putting together Power Points and playlists and generally organizing. It has been a surprisingly smashing day…

My New York Sister Julie spent the morning running errands with me. We got coffee, caught up, printed tickets, bought more than a dozen lemons (to the odd looks of the guy at Sam’s Club), previewed the ballroom, and came home. Then I was passed over to my mother for food, beauty treatments, and more plotting. Eventually I got some down time to practice my speech, organize my thoughts, and blog.

Maybe it is the nature of a good day that puts me in a freer mood. Otherwise, I am not sure I ever would have posted a selfie (I think this is my first)–let alone a selfie of me in curlers! “Hello, inner-child. I missed you in all the craziness,” I think.

So, friends I know and friends I don’t, may you enjoy this November 15. Here in the frozen north, it is a wonderful occasion for gathering, slipping into unusual masks, and dancing our hearts out to the beat of Waltz music. Wherever you are, enjoy your inner-child and you’ll be celebrating with us in spirit.

Countdown to Mark of Orion: 0 days.

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I am immeasurably tired. So tired that my mom and sisters had to fight just to keep me up until 9 PM on the night before we left New York. Not that we did anything very exhausting. I’m just tired. And I can’t say why. But with each passing day bedtime comes a few minutes earlier–and it has little to do with the time change.

All this fatigue lets loose thoughts I usually keep in perfect check. At first blush, this feels like a negative outcome, but maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe it is time I realized what I need to deal with in my life so that I may being to deal with it. Maybe good times with sisters and moms allow me to begin to process and maybe that, in itself, is what is so exhausting.

So, with a mind a jumble, I’m signing off from this blog and turning my focus to the task of completing my NaNoWriMo word count for the day.

 

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Oh I do love the open road. Nevertheless, my brain was the consistency of jello when I finally made it to New York. It was not today’s drive that killed me. It was the drive to and from New York on Tuesday, followed by this drive, that nearly sucked all my capacity for logical thought away. So, like any sane person, as I ransacked my sister Julie’s cabinets for food I settled on chocolate chip pancakes. They may not have been the best choice for food to follow up the three cups of coffee (one was decaf) I had tapped into on the drive, but oh they were good!

Listening to sermons in the car is a great way to pass the time, learn some good things, and keep your mind in a solid place. There is no telling what big thoughts will pop into a person’s head as they sit all alone in a car… My pastor’s sermons are all online and I downloaded several onto my iPod before leaving home, along with a new CD to keep me company.  So, with less near-death experiences than I usually face on a short drive in Bangor (we Mainers are crazy drivers), I made it to Nyack, New York in one piece. Tomorrow: Virginia.

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After the draining Lyme appointments of yesterday I decided to cut my trip a bit short and head back to Maine this afternoon. I was already fatigued enough to feel the tears, but when I heard about the events in Newtown they just started coming out. The adults; the children… I think of those kids so full of dreams and potential. The ballet performances they might have been preparing for; the political speeches they might one day have given; the books they might have written; the mission fields they would have impacted; the presents waiting for them under the tree. I did not, I do not, know how to pray for their families adequately. I cannot fathom their sorrow. Children have a unique place in my heart. I wanted to throw up. Despite the fact that I was traveling a road I had gone down many times (and using a GPS), I got lost twice on my drive from New York. Eventually, I was so shaken I had to pull over.

In between segments of inescapable news, songs like Frosty the Snowman played and that seemed even more wrong. I prayed; I wept; I asked God to teach me how to process the news.  It was especially bitter that this event at Sandy Hook Elementary happened around Christmastime.

Then God reminded me that it is because of events like this that Christmas matters. It was to redeem us from the sin and death and sorrow in the world that Christ came. We think of those children as innocent; look what an innocent Savior died on the cross. We think there is no hope; Christmas is all about hope: the fulfilment of a promise and new promise that Jesus would return. Since Eden, death and loss and sin have been a part of our world, but that has never been something God has wanted or simply allowed to happen without a fight. He has fought, He is fighting, and He will fight for us. Through Christ, He has been working out a plan. Sending His own innocent Son to face persecution, hardship, and death, God offered us redemption. He knows the pain of these families in Newtown; He cares. If anything, Christmas and Christ should remind us of this. I do not yet know how to pray for the families who lost loved ones, but I will still pray and God–Who understands–will hear.

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