What and Where Is This Place Called Home? Part 1

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.  -– Maya Angelou

When I was twenty, I left my family home. Sometimes, when telling this story, I say I fled. Sometimes, when telling this story, I say I left so fast I nearly broke my damn neck.

Abstract red rose in a swirl of inky water

My immediate family consisted of two brothers and a sister, technically called half-siblings, my stepfather, and my mother, though “step-“ and half-“ were not descriptions we ever used. (I had an additional family member, my remarried father, with whom I maintained a wonderful relationship with until his death.) By the time I was ten, maybe eleven, my parents had saved enough money to move us from a primarily black three-story public housing complex in the famous Hill District (the “Hill” in “Hill Street Blues,” the birthplace of playwright August Wilson, and the musical playground of jazz artists Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey and  Billie Eckstine) to a three-story house with porch, front and back yard in an ethnically-diverse neighborhood in Oakland, home of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Library and Museum, and Carnegie-Mellon University. Continue reading

I Am NOT My Books…or My Nook

Cover of a Dick and Jane reader I have been a voracious reader since — well, I don’t have a memory of not being able to read. I don’t even have a memory of learning to read Dick and Jane. I was, as my mother might say, a “reading fool.”

I remember reading my mother’s books:

The Bobbsey Twins "The Secret At the Seashore" book coverLittle Women bookcover

(I used to have a Polaroid that my father had  taken of me: I’m about six month old. Someone has put me on a bench covered with newspaper.  I’m on my stomach and have managed to prop myself up on my forearms, but my face is downward. I look to be reading the paper. That photo used to make me laugh and think, Even then, even then. No wonder I’m so nearsighted!) Anyway, I read everything. I  cried for David Copperfield. I read my mother and stepfather’s sex textbook with the acetate overlays of the external and internal human body. Death Be Not Proud scared me. Continue reading

Beginning…Again

There was a time when writing was my everything. It was plays. It was poems on napkins. Term papers. Thesis. Stories. Beginnings of novels. An agent. You could say I was on a track, on my way.

And then something changed, something happened and writing moved further and further from my center. Health challenges, a devastating fire, finances, you name it. The depression I had managed to stay well ahead of finally reached out and grabbed me by the ankles, and I went down for the count. You could say my voice was silenced.

I have a long-time friend, Judy Bolton-Fasman, a memoirist, and I admire her courage and honesty as a writer. I’m not used to writing about myself and my life. I’ve never had that kind of courage. But I’m going to cultivate it even as I continue with fiction. I’m going to go for broke, you could say.

Even now, as I write, I wonder if I should link this blog to my Facebook account. I don’t know. I haven’t decided. Twitter, yes, where I have more anonymity.

But for now, I begin.