It’s Spring break time at my house. And while I imagine this in my head…
I am marooned here for a quiet week of sun and reading (not necessarily in that order.)
In fact, my Spring Break starts with a…
Luckily for me, the van is headed to Portland, home of Powell’s Bookstore! I may not have the tropical beach, but I will definitely have the books.
Now, it’s true I am an e-book author and love my Kindle a lot, but I also read old-school :) I’ll post some trip pictures on Facebook so hop on over and join the conversation! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kathy-Dunnehoff/100342156725545?ref=hl
Meanwhile, Happy e-Reading & paperback reading too!
The bad hair day (in addition to mine!) is suffered by the main character of Back To U, Gwen. The novel is a free download today on Amazon, and the beginning of the first chapter is below (and yeah, she’s having the kind of bad hair day you wouldn’t wish on anybody).
But if your Sunday is less than stellar, have a novel on me! It’s free just until midnight, so let your girlfriends know (even the ones who never have bad hair days.)
The addition of a powerful ingredient can change the whole recipe.
Missy loved chili. That’s what was important. She’d just keep telling herself that as she chopped the onions and tried to ignore the sharp vapors that stung her eyes. Gwen felt the first tear seep out and stepped away from the cutting board, chef’s knife still in her hand. And there, in the middle of her butter-yellow kitchen, two months after Steve walked out twenty years into a lifetime commitment, her eyes gave up.
A flood of tears unleashed, and flood was all she could think when the cascade began down her face. It fell over her jaw like Niagara, and along the neckline she felt lacked the smoothness she’d taken for granted until her last birthday, the sneeze away from forty, thirty-nine. She lifted her face to the farmhouse reproduction pendant light she’d shopped for all fall when Missy started her senior year. She felt the deluge of tears pour into her blouse, soak the collar, run in a rivulet between her breasts. She loved that light. That light was never going to leave her.
She lowered her face to check the time, but the clock on the Viking Stove wavered in a black and white blur. She’d have to estimate since her eyesight was swamped. She’d started the chili at four. She’d browned the meat, chopped peppers. Had to be four-forty-five when she’d hit the onion. Missy wouldn’t be home for an hour. Gwen didn’t want her to see her mother like some kitchen serial killer, onion soaked knife in hand, unhinged and venting tears. It would be the last night to even wonder when Missy was coming home. She’d be gone too.
Gone. Gwen could cry every night alone in her kitchen. She looked at the light again, the tears not even slowing. She thought some moisture had traveled down to the waistband of her capris. That damn light. The two of them would be left there. Steve in his condo. Missy in her dorm room. She hated the stupid farmhouse reproduction pendant light, and she was going to do something about it. First, she’d stop crying and finish the chili. Missy had to come home to eat it. It was the last supper. Gwen shifted as the tears made their way into her underwear. And after the last supper, Missy would get in her graduation car that Gwen had filled with a coordinated mini household. There was the Egyptian cotton duvet cover and poppy red towels with a monogrammed laundry basket. It was everything Gwen had wanted that first year of college. And when the graduation car and the matching hangers left the drive-way, Gwen was going to yank out that damn farmhouse reproduction pendant light and do nothing but chop onions and weep until she was dry.
She’d need a job too. Yank out the light and get a job chopping onions to pay the utilities for a house no one lived in. She took in a breath. Had she been breathing in the deluge? It was like getting air under water with no possibility of coming up to the surface. It was a surface where no one lived, not even her. She’d be there with her twelve inch chef’s knife and onions and do what? Keep getting up? That had been hard enough when Steve left in the spring and there was only the occasional sighting of Missy. For months the possibility that Missy would share a meal or at least say hi had kept her going. She’d wait for the moment Missy would sail in to grab something out of her bedroom, her first bedroom that had become her second all those nights she’d stayed with her dad. But even the chance of a Missy sighting would be gone in about fifteen hours if her water-soaked estimation was accurate.
She had to pull herself together. Her mom had suggested a good bra and a new haircut, like that had helped her mother ever steer them in a useful direction. Gwen knew she could get control of herself again. Hadn’t she held her life steady for years? She shook her head to clear it and felt the tears fly like water off a dog’s fur. It had even soaked her hair. The salt would frizz her curls for a week. She wiped the back of her free hand over her cheek, the knife still in the air. Maybe the flow of tears had slowed. Like a hard summer rain, it couldn’t last long. She felt her eyes still producing plenty and her vision remained blurred, so she could just be kidding herself.
She tried to set down the knife but missed the edge of the counter. It was the same light shade as the floor, and she couldn’t trust that she could see it well enough. Maybe her eyes hadn’t slowed their leaking after all. She shuffled across the kitchen, one palm out and one hand led by a blade. She felt her way to the living room, jerked as her progress was stopped by the knife digging into something solid. She felt with her other hand. It would just take a little wood filler to repair the chunk taken out of the back of the dining room chair. No one would know but her.
Luckily, the August sun blazed through the high south window of the bathroom, and she could, thank god, follow that much light. The feel of carpet gave way to tile, and she knew she’d arrived. Slowly she lowered the knife, heard the rattle of metal on ceramic and pushed it until it stopped at what had to be the baseboard. She straightened and began to feel her way towards the shower. It seemed a better, bigger place to aim for than the sink, and she could warm up from the chill a soaked shirt in the air-conditioning had given her.
She grabbed at the row of towels and felt the first hunk of soft cotton. The second one she reached for fell to the floor, but she clung to the last one. If she just used it like a rope she could measure her way to the shower stall. A couple of steps and the porcelain tub stopped her progress. She felt it crack her right shin and might have sworn on her way down to her knees. Her life had all come to this was the thought that wanted to skitter across her mind, but she stopped it. Optimism could work in any situation. The good news? Despite the searing pain her shin bone radiated, she wasn’t crying any harder. It wasn’t even real crying. It might not count since she felt like she was leaking. There was none of the hitched breathing and sniffling that had accompanied every crying spell she’d ever had, not that she could remember the last one. A couple of years before there’d been an orphaned girl movie she’d seen with Missy when dark teen drama held great appeal. She might have cried at the end of that one too.
Still on her knees, she unbuttoned her blouse, so clammy it made her shiver to touch it. She’d have to get it in the washer as soon as she could see and, of course, after she’d gotten the chili simmering. Her bra, wet as well, she tried to rest on the blouse but couldn’t see clearly enough to be sure she’d succeeded. She stood, the throb of her leg reminding her to scoot back from the direction of the tub just in case. The capris slipped off, the wet waist band cold along her hips. The underwear was mostly dry. Things couldn’t be too bad if your underwear were okay. If paramedics were called in, she’d have that going for her.
She felt for the tub with tentative sweeps of one hand and heard the swoosh of shower curtain. She pushed it aside, lifted her foot higher than the tub rim could possibly be, and stepped into the slight grain of the tub floor. She’d never noticed the texture before. Necessary, she supposed, to prevent accidents, and god knew a woman blinded by her own tears, hands covered in onion juice, husband run off, daughter running off, needed to be protected from falling on her ass.
The shower knobs were easy, a sixth sense in your own home. You always knew how far to turn the cold, the hot, to give you the right mix. She reached for and knocked over three bottles before she gripped one. A shampoo? Body wash? A conditioner that would just seal the tears into her skin? Whatever it was, pushing on the top of the bottle didn’t pop it open. Apparently everything needed to be difficult. She gave up, unscrewed the lid and threw it over the shower curtain. She squeezed the bottle and a gush of something lavender-scented filled her palm and slipped between her fingers. She rubbed her hands over her hair, face, along her throat, and between her breasts down to her waist, the path her tears had taken. She turned into the blast of water and let everything wash away.
Sixteen years ago I became a Mom, and I celebrated the day.
Thirteen years ago I became a Mom again, and I celebrated the “Mother’s Day Three Day Weekend.”
This year with a sixteen-year-old daughter and a thirteen-year-old daughter, I have been referring to May as “Mother’s Day Month!”
But this year in addition to receiving, (’cause my family knows when Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy) I’m doing a little giving.
All day Mother’s Day Sunday, I’m offering my novel, Plan On It, for FREE. This full length romantic comedy is about a woman who sets out to have a baby and decides to choose the father based on what she knows best… the science of biology! You can download it right from the Amazon Kindle store
I wrote Plan On It by swapping babysitting with a neighbor, and I’d like to celebrate Mother’s Day by giving it away. I’ve given away over 50,000 downloads of my other novels and want to see moms out there enjoying a free read on their special day.
I hope you enjoy Mother’s Day… Mother’s Three Day Weekend & Mother’s Month!
June first has probably always been a day I’ve looked forward to. Living in Montana, winters are long and spring is something of a miracle. (To give you a feel for my mood in January… I throw a neighborhood women gathering I call The Donner Party Tea.)
Springtime this far north doesn’t arrive on June 1st necessarily. That day can bring snow just as readily as sunshine. But this June 1st I’ll have my new season regardless of the weather. It’s the day my novel, The Do-Over, will be available.
Long Winter of Publishing
And yes, I have waited through a long winter of publishing… many, many long winters. I like to think I was supposed to tell the stories of women at mid-life and needed to get there myself to understand the terrain. Who else could capture the joys and irritations, the exhaustion and stubborn hope than a sister who is also knee-deep in permission slips and peri-menopause?
Admit it, if you were looking in at your own life, you’d find it interesting. (And I don’t mean a can’t-look-away-from-a-train-wreck interesting.) You’d see, as I do, that women at this stage in life are working hard for others and just beginning to see that they can begin to shift some of that amazing caretaking energy back to themselves.
I think of The Do-Over as a female fantasy in which we get all the good things and some of the bad things we deserve. Most of us don’t want to blow up our lives so much as take a break from them. And not just a vacation from warehouse shopping and work, but a vacation from our own limits. That’s what Mara Jane Mulligan does, and it’s what I hope mid-life lit. encourages us all to do.