Stories about travel, life, writing and parenting my college-age children (who think they don't need any more parenting). Oh! And the occasional amazing photograph (I like to play pro photographer on vacations.)
Thanksgiving doth approacheth! It's that traditional time of year when we all tend to focus on the many wonderful blessings in our lives—those blessings we've sometimes taken for granted at other times of the year. I figured it might be nice, in honor of the upcoming holidays and all, to do a TOP TEN list of things I'm grateful for this year.
So, if I could have a drumroll please…
I am grateful that…
10. God make chocolate a bean so I can be confident I'm always getting my daily requirement of vegetables.
9. My son and daughter have let me be their "friend" on Facebook and haven't blocked me even when I post comments on their wall and put <3 (hearts) on their pages and on their friends' pages for the entire world to see.
8. My son can't hear me when he's on the soccer field and I'm yelling things to the other players like "Does your mother know you talk like that?" "Yo! Stop pushing my kid!" "No cheating!" as well as my myriad helpful tips for the referees.
7. I haven't had to change a diaper in 13 years!
6. My sister-in-law taught me the secret to opening spaghetti sauce jars so I can have spaghetti even when my husband isn't around to open the blasted jar for me. (Man, that was frustrating!)
5. Whenever I blank out on somebody's name I have a whole bunch of over-40 friends who can't remember the name either so I can therefore conclude with confidence that it's not just me and I truly do not have dementia.
4. Naps...'nuff said.
3. My daughter's bedroom has remained immaculately clean for the past three months. (Yeah, yeah, okay. So she's not exactly living in it right now, but it's still really sparkly clean.)
2. My dog shares my home office and actually looks at me when I'm talking to myself—er, to him, so I don't appear as crazy as I really am.
1. I'm RICH, I'm RICH! And it's all because of you--my beloved family and treasured friends both online and in real life.
A couple of weekends ago, my daughter Ashleigh came home from college and she, Joshua and I attended the high school fall play, Mother Hicks. One of her closest friends had the lead role.
The play is set in southern Illinois during the great Depression. It relates the tale of three outsiders—an orphan girl known only as Girl, a deaf mute named Tuc and an eccentric recluse, Mother Hicks, who is suspected of being a witch. The story chronicles the journeys of these three characters as they find themselves, and each other, during this troubled time.
When the play ended, the lights came up and Ashleigh turned to me as we gathered our things, "Well, what did you think?"
"The actors did an incredible job!" I gushed. "Your friend was awesome!"
Then I paused.
Ashleigh cocked her head. "What?"
I took a breath. "You realize I'm going to have to change the ending."
Joshua rolled his eyes and Ashleigh groaned at this.
"Mom," she said in her best I'm trying to patient here, but I've been studying ancient Greek literature for the past two months and you really don't understand art voice. "It's supposedto end like that."
"Yeah, yeah I know." I said, waving my hand airily. "But I need an ending with more…closure."
My family members already know this about me. And honestly, as a writer, I would probably have a BIG problem if I knew people were doing this with something I wrote. But as a reader and member of the audience I've gotta be honest here…
I change endings.
Call me shallow. Tell me I don't appreciate true literary art. But I can't help it. I want happy, satisfying endings! I do not want to be left hanging or confused. I do not like loose ends. And most of all I do not like unhappy endings. I figure there's enough misery in the world without my choices in entertainment adding to it. (For the record, Mother Hicks does not have an unhappy ending, just too many loose ends for my taste.) Perhaps I'll "evolve" at some point. But for now, gimme my happy ending darn it!
Allow me to share some examples of what I mean…
(I'm discussing the endings of each title listed below.
If you haven't read the books or seen the movies,
you may want to step away from the blog!)
Okey dokey, then. Let's start with MOVIES..
Pay It Forward (2000)
No way does main character 11-yr.-old Trevor McKinney die in the end! That ruined the whole movie! Instead, in my ending he comes to his friend's defense, standing up to the bully, who then ultimately realizes what an awful person he's been, breaks down and decides to become part of the positive "Pay It Forward" movement.
Arlington Road (1999)
Are you kidding me? Sorry folks, but in my ending single dad Michael Faraday, does NOT become an unwitting pawn of the terrorists, blowing up a federal building and leaving the psycho terrorist neighbors to raise his 9-yr.-old son. Instead, Faraday uncovers a critical piece of evidence making it clear that his "crazy" allegations about his neighbors are absolutely true. In a race against time, their plot is uncovered and they're busted just before they can complete their mission.
Pirates of the Carribean: At Worlds End (2007)
Uh…no. Will Turner is NOT mortally wounded while trying to retrieve the Deadman's Chest and therefore is not forced to become the new captain of the The Flying Dutchman, destined to see Elizabeth—his true love and new wife—only once every 10 years. Yeesh. Instead Captain Jake Sparrow is! And he's fine with that because his true love is the sea anyway.
Now for some BOOKS…
Romeo and Julietby Shakespeare
(I know, I know it's Shakespeare. How dare I?) But in my ending Romeo arrives at the tomb to find Juliet presumably dead. He agonizes over her, of course. Then, just as he's about to put the poison to his lips, Friar John miraculously locates him! He relays the message from Friar Lawrence telling him Juliet's only taken a sleeping potion to appear dead. Romeo smashes the poison container against the stone wall and seconds later Juliet awakes to find her true love waiting to embrace her. Then they and their families all live happily ever after.
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is an amazing writer! And her fans were super hot when the major motion picture of this book debuted with an ending that was completely different from the book. But I was completely frustrated with the book's twist at the end and I've gotta tell you, this time Hollywood got it right. They ended their version the exact same way I did.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
(Ooooh, I'm on dangerous ground now! Heh, heh!) But I was required to make a few minor changes to the end of this final book of the incredible Harry Potter series. In my version, the following people do NOT die:
* Fred Weasley
* Colin Creevy
I'll let Mad-Eye and Snape go, for dramatic effect and all, but that's it. Everybody else lives happily ever after.
C'mon, admit it. Aren't my revised endings much more satisfying?
So, I had parent/teacher conferences for my son last night. Our local paper recently ran an article on the topic of parent/teacher conferences which is apparently receiving national attention.
It seems a local prosecutor is requesting a law mandating jail time for parents who skip parent/teacher conferences. Her proposed plan requires parents to attend at least one conference per year, or spend three days in jail. If it passes, this law would be the first of its kind in the nation.
I've never missed a single parent/teacher conference for either of my kids, but I'm thinking: Really? Will facing jail time make parents who aren't interested in how their children are performing academically suddenly care? I doubt it.
My initial thought was, what the heck are single working parents supposed to do?! But the plan does make allowances for parents of students who are "excelling" as well as for those parents who have health issues, or are "actively engaged" with teachers via another route such as phone calls or e-mails. The prosecutor is pushing this plan locally, but ideally wants to make the mandate state wide.
Supporters of her plan claim that parents who aren't involved in their children's education are guilty of child abuse. While the opposition calls the idea "dumb" and points out that jail time won't make a difference to parents who don't care anyway.