Archive for March, 2009

My husband and I like to get Net Flix DVDs of movies. He loves historical fiction and war stories. I like most everything, but especially true stories. Somehow they have a special meaning for me. And I am so impressed with other authors who write about their own true life stories without cleaning them up to be acceptable to other family members or who pad them with dramatic occurances that didn’t ever happen in order to juice them up.

This weekend we saw a Net Flix of  “Changeling” which was directed by Clint eastwood and starred Angelina Jolie. Great stuff and all true!! Also we went into Ventura to the Rubicon Theater to see a local production of  “Fiddler on the Roof.” There were no big stars in it and I don’t know who directed it and it was so-o-o-o good. They did have four dancers in it that I knew must have been professionals. Later I found out that three of them indeed were professional, but the fourth one was a 16 year old high school boy who never had a dance lesson. Wow!!

But then I got to thinking about the fiddler story itself. It was not a true story about any individual family. It was a true story about a zillion Jewish families who lived in Russia or the Ukraine who most decidedly lived that story. It was the universal story of the persecuted Jew and his struggle to survive … not too different from the story of Becoming Alice. And it also depicted the adjustments that had to be made and the humor that found its way into their lives.

Great stuff!!! Go to see it if you’re anywhere around. You’ll love it.


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Talking to India

I played tennis this morning as is my custom on evey Tuesday and Thursday, baring a rain storm, a wind storm, or an absent fourth player who forgot to come and play. This morning’s conversation started out with an update of what maladies have befallen our tennis group and their families, or if we are fortunate, what good fortunes have come their way. I had one of each. One divorced dauthter has finally fallen in love with who she thinks is Mr. Right. Another daughter is in the process of divorcing whom she thought was Mr. Right fifteen years ago. Such is life!

After we had played three sets, sets which I played abominably, we gathered again to set up future games. I was surprised anyone would be interested in repeating this painful experience again, but they were. This was because each one of them had had days like mine before. At least I had an excuse.

I have been trying to find a way to manage my own website, http://www.alicerene.com, without hiring a webmaster. So I called Yahoo and was connected to a very polite gentleman in India. Luckily, his English was good enough for me to understand 90% of his dialogue with me. Unfortunately he did not know how to solve my problem and after many long pauses, asked if he could call me back. “Of course,” I said. I didn’t know that his call back would be at 10:30 P.M. and I would be half asleep already. I wonder what time it was in India. It was close to midnight when I said I’d have to continue sometime the next day.

This day has come and gone and I haven’t the courage to start the process all over again. Perhaps tomorrow morning after a strong cup of regular coffee. I wonder what time it would be in India then.

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I’m still sorking on my website, http://www.alicerene.com. It may not be perfect and there are a lot of website professionals who would like to sell me their expertise to try to make it perfect, but their charges are more than I think it is worth. Maybe I’m wrong. But then again, I’m not sure that “perfect” will get me tons of traffic and tons of sales. Maybe I’m wrong.

What I would like to do is be able to change things around as soon as I get an idea for improving the website a bit as I go along and learn how to make it better. I can’t even do that without paying someone to make even a little bit of as change. And another thing, I need to add to my EVENTS page all the time, as I book them. Again, I’d neeed to pay someone to do that.

I’m going to attack the problem from another angle. Learn to do it myself. I’m sure it may take a good part of the rest of my life to do it. But, here I go. Wish me luck. I’ll let you know what happens.

Oh, if anyone has any good ideas, please let me know.

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Last week’s reading included the 2009 California Drivers Manuel with all the old and new rules for driving your vehicle on streets, alleyways,  and highways, in the fog, in the snow, on icy roads, and at dusk. And then there are the rules for minors, seniors, and drunks. there are different rules for cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and trucks … in varying axel sizes. Of course all the rules come with varying numbers, such as how many feet from about everything before you must signal, or stop, or slow down, etc. etc. etc. Some too many hours later having read the entire manual and memorized it, time I’d rather have spent reading a good novel, I took the written test and got every question right. Hallelujah! I’m home free for another five years.

After that adventure, I took part in the WOMEN’S EXPO Ventura County, a book signing on Saturday, March 17th. that also happens to be St.Patrick’s Day with a huge parade down Main Street taking every otherwise unemplyed citizen of Ventura to watch it, instead of attending the EXPO. I was disappointed for Becoming Alice, but I felt so much more sorry for the owner of Bank of Books who sponsored the event for the local authors.

Let me tell you about this really neat bookstore. It is independently owned and situated at the end of Main Street–yes, the one mentioned above. Primarily a small, used book store with shelves from floor to ceiling and islands stacked full, in two stories, main floor and basement. Anything you might ever have wanted to read is there and if you can’t find it, the owner Cleary will get it for you. And you know what is the best part of walking through the front door? Cleary will greet you by name. I like that. I like hearing, “Hey, how are you, Alice?”

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It came in the mail the other day … the letter telling me I had to renew my driver’s license. No driving test, just the written and en eye test. The eye test is nothing, just put your glasses on and you’re in business. But the driver’s test is another story. I had to get the updated manual and go over all the rules I’ve been obeying automatically all along, but probably would get wrong on a multiple choice test. then there are all the new rules they’ve made since my last test, like it being against the law to drive while holding your cell phone up to your ear. Annoyed!

I went to my local DMV to get the 2009 California Driver Handbook. I pulled into the rather large parking area and, guess what, I couldn’t find one open parking spot. Just as I was about to go into the street to look for one down the block, someone pulled out in front of me. I stopped to give him/her some room and that set the person behind me off . He/she hit the horn and didn’t let it go. Annoyed! Once inside the DMV I shoved my way through 4-5 long lines to get to the handbook and realized I did not want to come back to this place again.

I’ve calmed down now with an appointment at a DMV facility way out of town and my annoyance quotient has recovered. But it got me thinking about how different people have different “Annoyance Quotients.” Mine, of course, is better than my husbands.’ I was trained for that by having a father whose quotient was worse than my husbands.’ The last test came when I’d forgotten my lipstick one night when my husband and I were driving down our block to go out to dinner and I announced I’d forgotten my lipstick. No problem for me to run back into the house, but he was Annoyed!

Back to my Driver Handbook … if I don’t pass the test I will be the most Annoyed! ever.

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The last several days have been “bad.” My mom alwasy said the pendulum always swiwngs from good to bad to good and on and on. I’ve been at “bad” for a while. First the water heater died and then the freezer stopped working. I had to grind a fortune of spoiled defrosted food down my garbage disposal, all the time thinking about all those kids, like the ones in “Slumdog Millionaire,” that could have used it to keep from starving to death. Still at the “bad” line of the pendulum, I get a phone call from number one daughter telling me that she is getting a divorce from her husband of fifteen years.

Now, I’m way down in the dumps. Can’t wait for that pendulum to get to the other side of even keel. I can fix the water heater and the freezer, but not the marriage. I’ve got to let go, but it’s not easy. Somehow, when you’re a parent, the drive to nurture your kids never gets used up. However, I’m working on it.

I must think of all the good things I’ve got going in my life to balance out the negative. And I do. Everybody I care about is healthy. Some of them are really happy … most of the time. We haven’t been put in the bread line by the economy. My book, Becoming Alice, is doing really well; I’ve gotten three more book stores to stock it. And I must concentrate on all those positives. Maybe it will push that …..penulum over to the “good” side!!!

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Harsh Parenting

Every time I do an event it is different from any other. The last one was yet another book club, I thought, but boy, was I in for a surprise. What happened was that two book clubs combined for my visit and there were close to thirty people in the room, all seated in four rows of fold up chairs facing me and wrapping around the sides of the room. Obviously it was in a very large home with a very large living room. And, there were a large number of men in the room. Hooray! Most of my prior book clubs were women’s affairs.

This group had for the most part already read my book , setting the tone for a presentation that sort of fills in the gaps in the story. They seemed to eat up the “fillers” which made me think that perhaps I should have written those parts into my memoir.

Toward the end of my talk I asked for questions and that’s when I find out what part of the book people respond to most strongly. For example, there was a portly, older guy with curly greying hair who told me that his father was so much like my father. He was treated just as harshly by his father as my brother was by ours. He told me that every time he did anything wrong as a kid, he was called “stupid.” I was trying to think back to my book and count the number of times my Dad used the word stupid in Becoming Alice. It made me think that perhaps that was the way parents were in Europe at that time. I hope not.

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