It's another New Years' Day

I’m so happy that the winter holidays are almost over. People keep asking me what I’m doing for New Years’. My response is usually – “Oh, I’ll probably be spending a quiet night at home.” But in my head, I’m thinking, Nothing. Why?

I know its a big night for many, whether standing in Times Square watching the ball drop or watching it on TV. Around town, the restaurants and hotels are booked, and there ‘ll be plenty of fireworks… I’ve never been much of a partier – my nod to the New Year comes on New Year’s Day with the Rose Parade.

 When I was a young child, my dad would take us to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, to celebrate New Years’. My sisters and I would bundle up in our pajamas and car coats and make ourselves comfortable in the old family station wagon. Dad would find a good spot along Colorado Blvd., stretch out on a cot, and save us a place to watch the parade New Years Day morning with the thousands of other parade attendees. He froze his ass off, sleeping out in the cold night air. Dad could sleep anywhere and soundly enough to sleep through a bomb blast, so the revelers and drunks and tourists wandering about the street didn’t bother him at all. Meanwhile, Mom watched over us as we slept snug in the warm car until it was time to get up and hunt for a bathroom before finding our saved place on the boulevard with Dad.

 The parade’s a mega-event, and when you’re standing on the parade route, it’s a real assault on the senses. The sound of the marching bands passing you by can be deafening. It’s not just the rousing music, it’s the hundreds of feet against the asphalt – as well as parade watchers pounding their feet and clapping their hands to the music. The horses clip-clop down the street with colorfully costumed riders on their backs. Everybody loves horses, and they get a lot of appreciation from the parade watchers. When the beautifully and intricately decorated floats appear, there’s a mixture of oohs and ahhs and lots of applause. 

 By the time the last parade entry brings up the rear, you’re feeling warmed by the sun, and your belly is sending you hunger pangs. The crowd begins to fold in on itself. Many people get up and walk away, as if they’d stopped by chance to watch the show. Others meticulously gather up their gear and the kids and try to remember where it was they parked. Then there’s the long walk back to your car.

 After the parade is over, you can go over to the lot where they park the floats and get a close-up view. On television, those floats look big and beautiful, but up close, they’re enormous! Every flower, petal, and seed is put on by hand, and the work is stunning. They are genuine works of art. You can’t smell the fragrance of the floral work watching on the TV – but in person, WHEW! It’s overpowering.

 Having watched the parade on television annually over the last several decades, the memories all blend together. I can only recall the feelings of the sights and sounds of those family adventures. Well, that and going to my grandmother’s house to eat Menudo.  

 I did make it again to the parade when I was in high school with my church group. It was a bunch of teenagers and a couple of adult chaperones. As exciting as the idea of staying up all night sounded, it didn’t turn out to be much fun spending the night out on a cold street along with the drunks and panhandlers. We were tired and grumpy by the time the parade began… and I think it was the only time I didn’t enjoy the big event.

 Many years later, when my own children came along, their dad would take them to see the parade. He had a friend who had offices on Colorado Blvd., and they were able to watch the extravaganza from the rooftops. It was a great way to avoid parking hassles and the crowds of people on the parade route. And from their vantage point, they could see everything. They still remember those adventures with their dad.

 Though I left California years ago, I watch the Tournament of Roses Parade every year on the television. I still choke up as I watch the Air Force flyover, the Marine Corp Color Guard, and the Marine Corp band. I look forward to some of the marching bands and floats, and can’t wait to see what the two Cal Poly University schools have cooked up as their entry. I ooh and aah and applaud until the very end. Corny – I know.

  That’s the way I start my New Year. Oh, and I always have a bowl of Menudo at breakfast – it’s tradition. After that, I call my folks and wish them a Happy New Year… Then I get on with my life.  

 For me, that means keep writing. I just finished my book DEAD RINGER and sent it to my beta readers. In a week, I’ll meet with my writing group and have them go over the copy one last time before it goes for publishing. I’m also going to be working on my next book – (which was my first book) BLACK CAT. I’m doing a rewrite. It’s a good story but has too many words. My blog needs regular entries, so I’ll be agonizing over those also. It probably doesn’t sound like a lot to you… but I’m not a great multitasker. For me, it’s a lot.  

Happy 2020. My wish for you is the same for me…

Don’t make excuses. Pursue your dreams.

Putting Myself Out There

I’ve told stories most of my life. Yes, even the kind my mother told me were wrong and shouldn’t tell. As the oldest of five siblings, I was always looking for a way to escape my real world. Mom introduced me to books at an early age. A reader herself, she knew the power of stories as a means to escape. I devoured stories and went through almost every book in my mom’s collection. At school I read endlessly in the library, and couldn’t wait for those days the Bookmobile would drive into the schoolyard with even more books to borrow. When I discovered the public library, it was like being given the keys to the kingdom.

As a Baby-Boomer, I am unapologetic about being a TV addict. Its a whole other wide world of stories. In my house, we watched a lot of family-style entertainment, but my favorites were the shows like Thriller, Chiller, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Creature Features, and Night Gallery to name a few. I became so enthralled with these old horror shows that my parents would use them as leverage – If I didn’t do my homework, or wasn’t being nice to one of my siblings I wouldn’t be allowed to stay up and watch that night’s favorite.

I know now that many of our best horror writers contributed to these shows, but at the time I simply enjoyed the outpourings of their broad and twisted imaginations. Their stories have been an influence for me to write my stories.

While my own children were growing up I fantasized about being a writer, but simply didn’t have the time or the energy. It’s taken me many years to arrive at a point in time where I can take the time to write. I have no excuses. Now that I’m here, I want to put myself out there and not be afraid to share my stories. Fear is a theme in my writing – it’s something that’s held me back from a lot of living – I refuse to let it stop me now.