for Sue

We met virtually in Corporate America amidst deadlines and downsizing.  I was a home-based trade show planner, working with a small team that was mostly located in another state.  She worked out of one of the company’s many satellite offices, in customer service.  If our trade shows needed books, she was our contact.  When procedures changed, she and I acted as each team’s representative to trouble-shoot issues, update procedures, and communicate the details to those who needed to know.  She took care of us.  If our books didn’t arrive, it was only because of planes, trains or autos.  When she was out of the office on vacation, we literally panicked.

We exchanged pleasantries via email, but neither of us had time to truly socialize.  When I got downsized the second time (there was also a first time, but that’s for another post), I made a point to say good-bye.  It was at that time that I learned she, like me, enjoyed nature photography.  That should’ve been my first clue.

A few months later, I ended up back at the same company (also another story for yet another post, or better yet, an entire new category), and she was still there.  I managed the trade shows.  She managed the orders.  Work went on.  Then, the real fun started.  Massive lay-offs.  Her job was sent overseas.  A few months later, my job was simply eliminated.  Both of us were angry, shocked, scared, angry, sad, stunned and angry.  Once again, we had something in common.

Three years later, we still email each other all the time.  We vent.  We cry.  We encourage.  We vent some more.  We get over it.  We move on.  We digress.  We vent again.  She understands my sarcasm and dark sense of humor.  She’s upbeat and positive and always helps me look on the bright side.  I’ve tried to do the same for her.  (I doubt I succeed.  I’m getting grumpy in my old age.)  We have new jobs now and have met new colleagues.  We have issues with our new colleagues and ask each other for advice.  We discuss men, children, our lives and our weekends.  We’ve become the best of friends.  “Sisters from another mother”, she says.

We’ve never met.  I’ve never sent her a photo of myself or vice versa.  We aren’t even Facebook friends.  None of that matters.  In this day and age of online (instant) communication (gratification), we’re like vintage pen pals.  We’re both busy with life, yet we take the time to reach out.  Why?  It’s simple.  She gets me…

for Mrs. R.

This is my very first post.  It’s all mine.  It belongs to no one else.  I can write whatever I want.  I’ve always wanted to write.  According to Stephen King, if you want to write, then write.  My friend, Sue, says I should write.  Okay, here I go…

My first true words of encouragement came from my high school freshman English teacher.  She gave us a poetry assignment.  We were supposed to write in various forms and about present-day topics:  haiku, politics, rhyming, not rhyming, one really cool poem made of seven lines with each line containing the same number of syllables as our home phone number.  Talk about fun homework!  I typed each poem on a separate sheet of paper.  (Yes, I said typed.  On a typewriter.  Not a computer.  I’m old.  Hush.)  Then, I cut out each poem and glued it to a sheet of brightly colored construction paper.  (Do they even sell construction paper anymore?)  I stapled the pages together, making a book, and anxiously handed it in.

When the teacher handed back our graded assignments, I was eager to read her comments.  I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw her handwriting under my haiku:  “Your haiku is very worthy poetry”.  I did a little dance in the hallway.  She also gave me information on a state-wide poetry contest.  I entered the contest and won third place for that haiku.  I still remember the day I received the winner’s announcement.  I did a little dance at the mailbox and skipped all the way up the driveway.

It didn’t need to be first place.  That’s not what mattered.  What mattered was that someone liked what I had written.  Someone.  Liked.  What.  I.  Had.  Written.  At that age in high school, we all wanted everyone to like us.  Personally, as an only child, I couldn’t stand it when someone didn’t like me.  It crushed me.  Thankfully, I’ve outgrown that feeling.  Well, I’ve almost outgrown it.  A few more years and I’ll nail it for sure.

Okay, so my very first post is almost complete.  Do I care if you like it?  Yes.  And No.  In my opinion, the real question should be:  How do I feel about writing this?  Pretty darn good.  I’m writing.  For real.  I’m published.  I didn’t solve world hunger.  I didn’t bring about world peace.  This isn’t chapter one of the next New York Times best seller.  And yet, my heart feels a little less heavy.  My mind seems a little less anxious.  Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere…