Book ’em!

I have a friend who just finished writing his second book. I edited it for him, and I now have a much better appreciation for what a huge task it all is…frankly, I’m in awe.

I continually tell myself that I need to write more, and I get lots of love and encouragement from those who read what I do manage to get in writing. However, being a dues-paying member of the Procrastinator’s Guild, I’ve pretty much just been poking a stick at the process for quite a while. Not a lot of actual writing going on, but I have been jotting down a few initial sentences and notes. In a tentative, half-assed way, I guess I’ve finally started making the first attempts at beginning to write my own book.

One thing that’s been a big challenge for me is feeling like I don’t have a crystal clear vision of what my first book is supposed to be. Hell, I don’t know that I even have a muddified Portland fall morning’s notion of what it’s supposed to be. I keep worrying at it though and (in fun) here are some of the titles and ideas I’ve been throwing around in my head…


Lessons From Losers

The diary of a middle-aged woman as she reflects back on the more entertaining choices in suitors that she’s made. Not for the faint of heart. (Look for the upcoming sequel   —   Go Ahead…Date the Drummer.)


The Know-It-All Life

(sub-title: A Professional’s Guide to Pissing People Off Without Even Knowing It)


Don’t Wear Your Hoochie Mama Dress to Court…The Tammy Kelly Story

A racy coming-of-age tale with just enough bluegrass, booze and jury duty to keep you on the edge of your bar stool. (Come on, you know you’d buy it.)


Big Hair…Will Travel

She came into town with a can of Aqua Net and a dream. (Soon to be a minor made-for-tv movie…see your local LifeTime channel listings.)



It’s obviously still a work in progress, but I’m feeling better about it every time I put fingers to keyboard. Stay tuned for further developments!


Lord Byron has left the building

I’ve been processing some very sad news that I recently received. My second husband (affectionately known here as #2) passed away two weeks ago today. He was only 50, and I still don’t know exactly what happened, but I strongly suspect that the disappointment he had in his own life just finally caught up with him.

My ex was a huge man with an immense hunger for love, poetry and romance in the true sense of the word. His heroes were Hemingway, Baudelaire and (most of all) Lord Byron, whom he adored and emulated whenever possible. In fact, #2 wanted to be that ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ poet whose profile he had used when we met on an AOL chat site so many years ago. If he couldn’t have that, he would have settled for living in Hemingway’s Paris of the 1920’s, or for walking about an Ivy League campus with the leather-patched elbows of an English professor. This smart, funny man surrounded himself with books, candles, wine bottles, old paintings and dreams of being someone else…anyone except a warehouse worker from New Jersey.

I was recovering from my long, drawn out breakup with my first husband when I met #2. He powered into my world, bringing laughter, love and a sense of home back into my life. Even more importantly, he helped me to open my heart enough to rediscover the importance of family…something my cross-country move with husband #1 had forced me to bury out of sheer pain. For that gift, I will be forever grateful.

I didn’t write this to talk about myself, but it’s confusing and there’s just no way to know how you’re supposed to feel at a time like this. Obviously, there is sadness, but it’s a strange, muffled ache…like a heart-break once removed. We hadn’t spoken in years, and I no longer had any connection with his life back in New Jersey, but this man was once a huge part of my life. It has taken some soul-searching, but I definitely know that I’m not responsible for my ex’s fate…for someone else’s decisions or for the way their life turned out. I guess that what I’m grieving for is actually the life unlived…the fabulous, fulfilling life that this sweet soul could have had with a little more self-love.

We spent six years together, and were divorced ten years and two weeks ago.

Rest in peace Richie. Thank you for the lessons you shared with me, including this one.



Self doubt

This post is a bit of a departure for me. It’s not intended to make you laugh (although it might), and it’s more about me than about things that have happened to me.

We all have tapes. They keep cycling through your being,…reminding you of your limitations and fears…the sameness of them feeling somehow right. Even when you know they’re not true, they carry a weight and form that is seductive in its safety and stability. They’re just…there. You don’t even realize it until you figure out that you need to get rid of them…that’s when the fun starts.

I learned about my tapes when I was 37. I was trying to figure out what to do about a marriage that had run its course, and I found a therapist who might (I hoped) be able to help me find my own way. What I didn’t bargain on was everything else that would come along with therapy. I showed up, provided some money, and in exchange was (over time) called out and made to look at all the lies and fabrications I’d been feeding myself for a lifetime. That woman SAW me. (Hell, she ‘saw’ me for eight years…we used to joke that I had personally paid for her hot tub.) Honestly, it was a pretty good trade-off.

That was a long time ago. Since then I’ve gone through two divorces, and I eventually figured out that I’m doing pretty damn well all on my own. I established a decent career, bought a home, and traveled around the world. I stopped caring quite so much about what other people thought of me, and I finally learned to love (and believe in) myself. I was still, however, afraid to create. Most of my other tapes had faded away…well, they were at least at a much lower volume, and I had a few new ones in the rotation that were actually positive. Unfortunately, the ones pertaining to my being a creative soul were stronger than any of the others, and they resisted my efforts to dislodge them like a cat avoiding a bath.

It’s odd, but I’ve known for most of my life that I could write. Not that I would actually let myself do it…”Oh no, I’m not good enough!” In spite of having grown up in so many ways, I continued to rely on that excuse for many, many years…I obviously wasn’t worth reading, so why bother?

Until the day when, almost five months ago, I just started typing…and it miraculously turned into writing. I still don’t know what it was that prompted me to do it–to just stop believing that line of bull I’d been feeding myself for at least 30 years. All the words I’d been running through my brain for a lifetime (I have no imagination…I’m not interesting…Who would want to read what I have to say?) just stopped. It was eerily quiet and I could hear the thoughts that had been drowned out for so long.

Then a really crazy thing happened…people liked what I had written! They even encouraged me to write more. I was excited but scared…afraid to disappoint anyone, but desperately needing to do what it was my heart told me was important to me.

I am a writer. In spite of the doubts I sometimes still have, I know that I am supposed to be creating, and words are my medium. The amount of joy I feel when someone tells me that they love my blog is amazing, and it just reminds me that tapes can be erased.



Tammy was intrigued by the writing exercise that encouraged her to try something new to ‘think outside of the box’, so she decided to just write…just start writing like Kerouac or Faulkner or Joyce or some other GOOD writer who didn’t have to be poked with a stick to try something different. So she sat at her desk and had no clue how to write ‘stream of consciousness’ or what it even meant…did it imply simply writing tons of run-on sentences or did it mean something deeper and more interesting? Not knowing, or caring for that matter, she just started writing the way she always did, but without worrying so much no fretting over how many times on one page she had used the three dots she loved so much (what do they call those things…oh yeah, elypsis) her best friend when trying to get across the mess of thoughts she had going on, tried to tease them into a coherent sounding sentence one that might make sense to someone else and not just sound Southern which is what she often did, both on purpose and as a result of growing up in the part of the world where words drag out into so many finessed syllables that they sometimes sound like completely new words…that often irritate her until she throws her hands up yet again, either to fling the ‘southern’ off of them or just in sheer weariness of worrying about words and inflections and such. Breathe..just breathe and keep writing that’s what matters she told herself, and don’t be stressed because someone might think that you actually just compared yourself in any way to Kerouac or anyone else for that matter, because you know you didn’t really, but that it feels kind of good to be trying something new, and you write this damn thing for yourself anyway. Right?