Gift of the Tsunami

I have been faunching at the bit (yes, faunching is a word.) to share a bit more about Surrey.

Of course, I just got off work from a twelve-hour shift so my brain isn’t real clear, but I am too excited to have a computer back, sort of, not to write.

I have gotten things out of order and I will try to get back on track soon, but I’ve really been thinking about Lisa Norman lately. Lisa is a magnet for people with fascinating stories. I have a tendency to attract “colorful” people. (Remind me to tell you the story of the elves between my knees sometime.) Lisa attracts people with fascinating stories. I was fortunate enough to room with her and it really was like a long pajama party. She never said a word about the undies hanging on the towel bar or my clothes scattered everywhere as I dashed out the door for something, or me hanging out at the bar until they ran me out, or me prattling about all the fun things. She is such a sweet, kind, generous and loving person I don’t wonder that strangers would gravitate to her like children to a puppy.

I found Lisa in the bar one night, visiting with two ladies she had met earlier. I, by that time, had been invited to send pages to my two wonder agents and the editor. I was still convinced all te agents pretty much invited everyone to submit because they were very nice people. Lisa, Beth, Jenny, Tara, Donna and all the rest of the gang were telling me they didn’t invite unless they are interested, but who am I to listen to a dozen other people? I was still convinced everyone who was at the conference was getting invitations.

One of the women Lisa met was lamenting the fact that she had nursed her ungrateful husband through prostrate cancer, stuck with him for years prior to that and then the worthless bastard left her. Her friend had also written a story about being the faithful wife for years and then getting dumped and having to start over. I was swilling down the beer and trying to look interested. Lisa smiled her angelic smile and said, “Yes, Julie knows all about that.”

Truth be known, Lisa had come perilously close to making the perfect foursome of middle-aged, and I use that term generously for some of us in the group, single women starting over after years of marriage.

The problem with me is I am not the redhead with the gift of patience with people and the angelic smile. That would be Lisa. I’m the one who once told a woman in Walgreen’s there’s a leash law in this town and she needed to put that little beast on one after her daughter ran a shopping cart into me.

I’m calculating in my mind exactly how much money I have left and how much more I can drink so I can get an angelic smile like Lisa’s or at least a stupid grin that might pass for angelic in a fairly dark bar.

This woman is going on with her story of woe. I’m thinking back on Hee Haw and the song that started out, “Woe, despair and agony on me.” Lisa is drinking her Coke and smiling through this story which she has already heard and I nod occasionally as I look around for the waitress to get another beer.

The lady really is quite attractive for a middle-aged woman and seems to be pleasant enough and life should not over because that worm left. Even the name of her book was enough to make a person snooze. I can’t remember what it was now, but it was something like. “Left Alone After Thirty Years of Marriage. One Woman’s Story of Starting Over.”

Shoot, even my tale of woe, despair and agony had a better title, “Flight to Freedom on a Forklift.”

I’m being pleasant. Several beers do that to me. Margaritas make me friendly, daiquiris make me sing and beer makes me pleasant. It was a beer night, so Lisa didn’t need to muzzle me…much.

This woman can’t understand why no one wants her book. She pitched to some agents and an editor I think. No one wanted her story and it’s fascinating. Her friend nods. “Yes, it’s fascinating.”

She’s talking about starting over and then says, almost as an afterthought, “That was right before the tsunami in Sri Lanka and I packed my bags and went to help with the relief efforts.”

I roused from my game of counting the chairs in the lounge and sat up like a meerkat watching a mouse. “You did what?”

“I went to Sri Lanka and helped the people after the tsunami. I stayed there after the relief work was done and helped some women set up some cottage industries to help support their families. They were living in absolute poverty and I had to do something. They make paper out of elephant dung and I showed them how to make these beautiful greeting cards they could sell.”

“There’s your story,” I said. “No one cares about the other stuff. Start your book with a brief introduction and go straight to the tsunami. This is an awesome story, but you’re hiding it.”

Lisa smiled her angelic, and knowing, smile. “I told you she had a great story.”

She did, but I was busy arranging peanuts on the table and playing war with them. Peanuts and pretzels look a lot like knights jousting after all.

I shrugged at Lisa, who is very patient with me. Thank goodness. Did I tell you she didn’t even complain about the undies on the towel bar? The ones that smell like mandarins and mint?

“You need to get rid of that title, too,” I said. Remember me? The one who can’t even come up with a title for my own book?

So, I quit playing war with the peanuts and pretzels and we started brainstorming for a new title. My entry was, Gift of the Tsunami.

Lisa did what Lisa does best, and encouraged this woman to keep trying to sell her book. I even encouraged her because this really is one of the most intriguing and fascinating stories I’ve ever heard and she is hiding this wonderful tale under layers of “he done me wrong.”

I wish I had gotten her card or name because she sells cards for these ladies and helps them with their businesses. If I’m not mistaken, she still goes back there to check on them. She took a story that happens to thousands of women every year and turned it into a blessing that truly changes lives. What a story. What a wonderful story and what a tragedy if she never gets it published.


  1. Your undies smell like Mandarin and Mint? That’s is the best thing I think I’ve ever heard. (vbg)

    Oh, and I could just hug you right now. You made me laugh my horrible mood away.

    Come hell or high water, I WILL see you again at Surrey next year. (g)

  2. (1) faunch

    (2) woeXXX gloom despair and agony on me

    Welcome back, even at 160 degrees. Appreciate, among other things, the opportunity to do some gratuitous Web research on a gray and rainy Friday afternoon.

    I’m going to be seriously disappointed when the time comes if the story about the elves did not take place in (a) polar regions or (b) the hollow of a tree. Or, for that matter, to find out that The Elves was the name of a horse.

    But, ahem, to core matters: That story about the post-tsunami volunteer was amazing. Both in its own right (love to hear about people like this), and also as an example of not seeing the forest for the tree you keep running into.

  3. Justus, I’m really pretty decent at critiquing books, I think. I’m grammatically challenged, but that hasn’t stopped me from slicing up someone’s story before.

    Seriously, I always try to find the points that are wrking well and stand out, as well as the problem areas. I think too often authors delete things that are really good in an attempt to fix problem areas. They need to see both sides of the coin.

    Aside from that, it’s just too disheartening when you hear nothing but what’s wrong with your work. The atta boys are enough to keep you going through the valley. Having said that, I don’t pass out false praise. If I comment on something positive, I think that is a good part of the work.

  4. John, thanks for doing the web search, I was too tired to try and look up faunch. Normally, it refers more to the way a racehorse champs at the bit, but the nervous aggitation is the main gist.

    I couldn’t load the Woe link, but I appreciate you finding it. It promptly shut down the net. I’ve noticed that happens. Art wasn’t wrong when he said I would be prone to shutting down without warning.

    I’m going to have to invest in another computer with the tax refund. This jerking motion on this one gives me headaches pretty quickly.

    Gray and rainy Friday? Where the heck are you? Yes, I noticed, I’m quick like that.

    Elves between my knees. Nope had nothing to do with polar regions, the hollow of a tree or a horse. It happened while I was waiting in line to get Garth Brooks tickets.

    Did I ever mention I attract insane people also?

    It’s good to be back. I missed you all so much.

  5. Miss Tara, yes! Mandarin and mint.

    That’s a whole other story and I will devote a blog to the joys of mandarin and mint-scented undies.

    In case you didn’t notice in Surrey, I can pretty much turn anything into a strange story. Or, perhaps, strange things just happen to me. Possibly, it’s a combination of both.

  6. Oh, my. Premature blog injecton.

    Yes, I better see you at Surrey next year. It was so much fun talking to you all.

    I’m glad I made you laugh, but I’m sorry you were having a bad day.

  7. Justus, I think we do each other no favors when we are less than honest in these situations. That doesn’t mean we need to be sadistic. There is always some good point to start building from.

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