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I Can’t Make This Up – Kevin Hart

So, I’ve been on a biography/autobiography book-reading kick lately. There’s just something about hearing someone tell you their life story. It is very personal. It makes you reflect on your own journey.

I just finished reading Kevin Hart’s I Can’t Make this Up – Life LessonsAfter reading this book, I discovered the difference between books that I can’t put down, and books that I don’t want to put down.

When I read a book that I cannot put down, it means that it is so engrossing that I do not get to other things in my life that I need to. Sometimes, a distraction like that is great. Life gets crazy and you get stuck in your head and then a good story comes along. It becomes the thing you need to have fun again.

But, in reading I Can’t Make this Up, I found myself deeply engaged, but also taking breaks in reading (for chores and life stuff) where I would then ponder what I’d read. I told my husband (not a huge fan of comedians) about Hart’s journey. I found myself inspired by Hart’s hard work ethic. That ethic engineered and crafted a niche and a career. It’s making me get back to Marta and the re-write.

So, you should read it. Tell others about it. You’ll come out of it impressed and inspired.

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How The Conversation Could Of Gone…

***The following is an imaginary conversation between my daughter and I.***

In the car, driving Kiley from her college to our home for the Fourth-of-July holiday, which she’ll spend two days at home for.

Kiley: “Mom…so, Beck invited me up to Erie for the weekend.”

Me: Holding back a long sigh. “What about college? What about studying?”

Kiley: “Oh! We’re going to do it up there! Beck totally gets that I have to study and he’s going to study, too.”

Me: Working hard at holding back the sigh. “Really? Truly? You are going out of town with your boyfriend for an ENTIRE weekend and the plan is to….study? Really?”

My Husband: “Beck?! What kind of name is Beck?”

Kiley: “Dad! Ugh. We’ve been through this. His name is Beck! He didn’t have a choice in the matter in his naming, you know.”

My husband: Shrugs. “It’s a stupid name.”

Kiley: “Stop saying that!”

My husband: “I’ll stop saying that he has a stupid name just as soon as he stops  having a stupid name. Also, no. No going to Erie. You can stay in town at your dorm.”

Kiley: Grunts, sucks at her teeth and smacks the tops of her thighs with her hands. “Mooom!!! I want to go!!!!”

Me: “Dear, God. You sounded like you did when you were twelve.”

Kiley: Takes deep breaths and squeezes her hands. “You know, I could go and not tell you about it.”

Husband: “Fine. I’ll disconnect your cell phone!”

Me: My heart rate increases and my left eyelid is starting to do a dance. “Kiley? Can you understand why we might be doubtful as to the…studying that will happen in Erie?”

Kiley: “Mom! We are going to study!”

Husband: “Your coursework, or other things?”

Me: “Stop it!” I say to my husband. “Kiley: Why do you want to go to Erie?”

She was quiet for a moment. Ha.

“Because…it will be fun. College is supposed to be fun.”

Husband: Scoffing. “Yeah, right. College sucks.”

Kiley: “Dad! You’ve got four college degrees.”

Husband: “And every single one sucked.”

Me: “I don’t know why you think it’s supposed to be fun. With the exception of Anthropology and Business Law, I hated all of my college courses. Also, when I was your age, I got in trouble during my non-working hours. With guys.”

Husband, as he turns the blinker on to turn at a light. “Oh, good. This’ll be fun,” he says on a groan.

Kiley: “I’ll be responsible,” she says.

Me: “What does that mean? Tell me; what does responsibility look like, for a nineteen-year-old college student?”

I watch as my gorgeous daughter tugs at her bottom lip as she looks out the window. “You were happy to have me as a single mom,” she whispered.

Me: “I was. I am,” I said, my voice full of conviction. “I also had a job, an apartment, and a car. You are at year two of college. You aren’t on your own yet.” I let out a sigh, not wanting to attack her. She isn’t looking at me, and I know that I am about to lose her interest. “Tell me more about Beck.”

Kiley: “What about him?”

Me: “What will a…successful weekend with Beck look like? What does Monday morning look like – for you?”

She looks at me with a furrowed brow. Her pitch-black eyes look super dark. “Ummm…we’re closer? He tells me he loves me? I meet his family.”

I look at my husband, who lets out a sad sigh. He says nothing, though.

Me: “Is that a plan this weekend? Going to Butler to meet his family before going to Erie?” I gently ask.

Kiley: Lets out a sad sigh. “No.”

Husband: “I get it, Kiley. Traditional is boring. It’s easier to go with the flow. It’s easier to keep things uncomplicated.”

Kiley: “I know,” she says on a sigh.

I don’t know if I am supposed to let her f*ck up or not. I don’t know if I am supposed to give this Beck guy the benefit of the doubt, or not. I mean, what is she supposed to do in downtown Pittsburgh over a weekend? Could she get into worse trouble by staying behind? For sure.

Me: “Okay. Go on up and go.”

Husband: “What?!”

Kiley: Says nothing, but beams from the back seat of the truck.

Me: “But keep in mind that…little choices add up to big choices. A little compromise here and there can lead to bigger compromises down the road.”

Husband: “Just…keep in mind what the results might be for every decision you make.”

Son: Our son pulls off his earbuds from his ears. “Hey. Are you coming to watch my Parkour tournament this weekend?”

Kiley’s smile drops as she regards her little brother. “That’s this weekend?”

Son: “Yeah. I texted you about it,” he angrily says. “Twice.”

Kiley: Forces a smile and nods. “Yeah. I”ll be there.”

Son: “Awesome!!!”

*****

But all of this is fictional, of course. My daughter doesn’t go to college. She didn’t go to high school, junior high, or elementary school, either. But it is nice to say her name out loud – a lot. It’s nice to fantasize about what could of been.

 

Cyndia Rios-Myers

 

 

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Stranger Danger

The easiest time of the day to pat myself on the back is when I am outside, running the trails with my kid. I am grateful to have a strong body that can run. I am glad that I have the motivation to do so. I am glad that in my post-forty age that I can still get out there and put a couple of miles in.

I am glad to teach my kid to love it, which my kid does. I love teaching that tough can be taught. I love looking at the local birds with my kid. I love seeing the greenery around us. I love watching how the seasons color the flowers and leaves. I love deliberately running into the leaves of an overhanging branch and catching the cold morning dew on my face. I love the way the sunrise paints the trail in shades of orange and pink. I even love smiling and greeting the regulars I see on the trail.

I don’t love the feeling of having to commit to memory the faces I see while running. I am not that threatening-looking a woman. I run with my kid. But I do greet every runner I see and I look them in the eye. I don’t let heat, humidity, rain, cold, or snow stop me from my runs. I don’t want a dangerous person to stop me, either. My cell phone is in easy reach, as is my bottle of pepper spray.

Men have been a danger to women from the beginning of time. It’ll never stop, I know. I hope that I can teach my kid how to act when a stranger becomes a danger. Because we can’t always tell. It’s kind of sad to think that “stranger danger” never stops being a thing. Running makes it trickier, because you put yourself into a more vulnerable position for a longer period of time.

But I’ll keep going out there. Hopefully my face will become a familiar one to many. We’ll see.

Get outside. It is worth it. (So is staying safe).

 

Cyndia Rios-Myers

Blog, My Books

To Retell a Story

Can it be done, though? Can you you retell a story in a different way, or is it a rewrite?

In Marta’s case, I think it is a little of both.

I am rewriting Marta Cleans Up. I’ll tell you why. The original version is very good. However, it is told in a women’s fiction vein, and not in a sleuthing series way.

I’ve kept all of the bones of the original Marta Cleans Up. The backstory is 100% what happens in my original book. However, the rewrite features a lot more action.

What spurred this?

I’ll tell you. A literary agent’s good critique did this. I’m at the point of my writing journey where I am not too proud to take good advice. There was an occasion when I didn’t take good advice. I wish I had. I wish that I didn’t think that my story was an infallible, real-life creation.

Now, I know that a fiction story can be pressed and pulled into different directions. I know that it is desirable to want to reach a bigger audience.

So, I’ll keep you posted!

 

Cyndia Rios-Myers

 

Blog

An Amusement Park for the 40+-year-old Set

So, we recently took our son to an amusement park. He loved it. I loved that he loved it.

But, did I love it?

No.

Parking so far away from the entrance wasn’t fun. (And I am not lazy either; I’m a runner and a hiker). I simply found myself feeling demoralized as I walked through the large, hot, asphalt-floored maze of cars that would lead me to the entrance of the park. (And I wasn’t the only one. No parent looked happy, trudging through that parking lot).

Dear. God. The lines were so long. The refreshments were so expensive. The rides were rough!

My motion sickness made it to where I had to sit out a couple of rides. Also, I could not stand to watch my baby (okay, not a baby anymore, but my baby) boy get on rides that could possibly kill him. So, I left that for my husband while I stayed on the ground and looked at other things.

But, I did enjoy aspects of it. The music was nice. The benches were good. It made me wonder, what would a perfect 40+-year-old amusement park be comprised of?

This is what I came up with: A tree-canopied field featuring checkered sheets on it. Picnic baskets full of food, and wine. Live bands playing music of all eras. Valet parking. All-inclusive pricing. Paddle boats. Perhaps a few walk-in only salons, so you could get your hair and/or nails done. If you want the “thrill ride” experience, you could go to a mingle section where you would meet new people with similar interests as you.

You know what this is sounding more and more like? The Villages over in Florida.

But you know what? It sounds like those folks have a lot of fun. Might have to keep that in mind!

 

 

 

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Marrying Into a Family

Because that’s what truly happens when you marry someone – you marry into their family. If you are lucky, you get a great mother-in-law out of the deal. Or a good father-in-law.

And…depending on what you consider lucky or unlucky, you marry a guy whose father is ultra-religious, drinks a good bit, and forces everyone in his family to help him build a big boat.

I wonder how other families perceived Noah and his family. Was it positively? He had three sons. Families with many daughters might have looked into unloading a daughter onto Noah and his kin.

So, maybe a girl who had to do too much at home would have looked at her new potential family with some hope in her eyes. Maybe Noah’s sons were quite handsome. Maybe, a girl could do worse.

So, she marries. Has a lovely time with Ham in their marital chambers. But then, Noah puts out an edict. Everyone is to help build this boat, and no one is told why. The new wife still spends time with Ham, but it is spent building. She spends very little time alone with him. It is saddening, but at the same time okay, as she is so tired after working that she can barely tell that.

Then…she is told. About the rains. The flooding. And about all who will perish in it. Can you imagine her heartbreak? Can you imagine the tears and arguments shared between her and Ham? Would Ham have to get heavy-handed with her? Maybe.

So, she says goodbye to her parents, siblings, and their children. She helps get the animals – scary animals – on board the huge boat and then gets on board it herself.

Then, the rains start.

The flooding begins.

She then hears the people gathered outside the boat, begging to be let in. Does she hear the voices of her parents? Does she hear the voices of her siblings? Does she hear the cries of children and babies, all while cradling her abdomen and the growing babe that Ham put in there?

Then, the cries stop. Probably more scary sounding then when the cries were their loudest.

All she has to do now is cook and help tend to the animals. She has to walk the dark floors of that scary boat all by herself. Does she scream when she hears a lion roar? Does she wet herself when a snake gets loose and hisses at her?

She gives birth to her and Ham’s first child. She isn’t too lonely, though, as she has three sisters-in-law who are as shell-shocked as she is.

One year later, the boat touches land. She wonders where everyone else is. Her father-in-law tells her that there is no one else. She then learns that her and Ham’s children (she is with child again) will repopulate the earth with their cousins.

It is daunting. This work before her will take a while, but she has a lot more living to do.

*****

So, where did the inspiration for this come from, you might be wondering. Well, we are Catholic here. The devout type. Masses, rosaries and holy days of obligation are things of paramount importance in this household.

But you know what else is? A good story.

Yesterday, my little family went to Kennywood (a Pittsburgh-area amusement park) for fun. And it was. But what surprised me was how PETRIFYING the Noah’s Ark “ride” was. Apparently, it used to be a fun house. It was rehabbed, though, and made less scary. Still, the dark passageways, the rocking and swaying (even for this former sailor) are daunting. The life-like statues of Noah and his wife Naamah are particularly petrifying. I don’t know if that was the plan, but if you think about it, it fits. Noah was doing God’s work, but the job was a hard one. Naamah was probably just as scared as anyone else on that ark.

But…Naamah had three adult children with Noah. She’d been married to him for quite a while before the building of the Ark. So, she had time to get used to her husband’s devotion. Who knows? Maybe her devotion matched his own.

That leaves me wondering about Noah’s daughters-in-law. They kept their lives, but loss so much. Definitely something to mull over.

 

Cyndia Rios-Myers

 

Blog, My Books

Marta Cleans Up Update: Queries

As of today (and beginning on July 2nd of this year), I’ve sent 71 queries on Marta Cleans Up. So far, I’ve received 14 rejections. No telling how many agents will not like and not reply to my query. So far, I’ve received one “Tell Me More.” I’m not pushing that agent. I hope she likes the first 50 pages I sent her. I hope she wants more. We’ll see what happens after that.

The truth is that I am getting better at receiving rejections. Sure, they are not fun. Still, when you send so many queries out, the rejections lose their sting. Which is a good thing.

I’ll keep working the queries until I get to a certain number. I have an idea or two as to what the next move will be. I’ll keep you all posted!

 

Cyndia Rios-Myers

 

And now…an unrelated picture of Bueller the cat: