goodbye to a decade

The decade 2010-2019 started with great promise for me and ended with a dull plop: 2010 was incredible, 2015 was scary as all hell, 2016 was horrible, and by the end of this decade I just want out.

In 2010

I finished my doctorate and started a new chapter of my professional life.

DH and I moved to a new home.

We learned our first grandbaby was coming!

In 2011

I started a new job that they all told me I was supposed to want. I lasted 5 years, while I also adjuncted (is that a word?) at university, and ran myself ragged.

Jonathan arrived and made me Grammy (which he at first pronounced Dwammy).

In 2012

Signed with a literary agent.

Joined writers group.

Revised first novel many, many times without going on submission to publishers (as promised at signing).

Ended contract with literary agent, and lost all confidence that traditional publishing could work for my novels.

In 2013

Grace K. arrived and changed the world immediately.

In 2014

I founded my own small press (LMNO Press) and published my first novel, OR NOT TO BE.

I used up the last shreds of my knees and ran my last half-marathon. (or maybe that was in 2013?)

In 2015

DH had major surgery, after which he set goals to continue to run races, and, while bored during recovery, bought a car and a beach condo.

Evy (Jingle) Belle arrived and my heart grew three sizes.

In 2016

Five weddings, including our lovely architect daughter to her lovely architect husband.

After promotion to associate professor, I left a position that was not right for me, and I started a dream job. Was asked repeatedly why anyone would do such a thing. I just grinned and enjoyed myself, finally finding and knowing what was right for me.

Clemson won the National Championship (to welcome me there).

The country lost its collective mind and elected a clown.

In 2017

DH changed jobs.

James arrived and reaffirmed that the world is a beautiful place.

In 2018

LMNO Press published my second novel, INFINITY LINE, and my first children’s book, I LIKE TREES LIKE THESE.

I baked (and photographed and wrote about) dozens of pies.

Clemson won the National Championship AGAIN!

In 2019

No new grandbabies, but two grand-puppies arrived: Lady and Tucker.

The Mueller Report confirmed a criminal occupies the WH. Elected leaders pretended they did not read it and told us lies about what is said. I read it. Here is a reminder of what it said.

IMPOTUS the Third: December 18, 2019. Congress finally and bravely stood up and  confirmed what we all have known all along.

For complex personal reasons, I left my dream job. Today, actually, is my final day of employment.

In 2020, I will:

continue to hope, continue to doubt, continue to worry.

start a new and promising job, hopefully my last, but we’ll have to see about that. There are too many opportunities and this life is too short.

enter my first screenplay to competitions.

complete one (or two!) novels.

(perhaps) find an illustrator for my second children’s book.

lose the same 10 pounds yet again. (And then gain them back because food tastes (but does not rhyme with) good.)

try to stay as quiet on the inside as I am on the outside.

bake often. Making a mess in the kitchen silences the outside world.

sleep and read and listen.

 

#FREE BOOKS!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!
LMNO Press will give away one paperback copy of each of my books on January 1, 2020. Just comment on which book you’d like to receive and a random drawing will be made on New Year’s Day!
Here are your choices:
1. OR NOT TO BE, a love story for the cynical geek.
2. INFINITY LINE, opposite of The Handmaid’s Tale: females in charge, men controlled, family and love be damned.
3. I LIKE TREES LIKE THESE, a children’s science picture book about the wonder of trees.
How to enter: Spread the word! Tweets and comments! Tweet about this unconventional giveaway on Twitter and tag me @lauralanni and state why you’d like to win the book you choose. You may enter for each book, but must enter individually for each. If you are not on Twitter, you may simply comment here–which book and why. LMNO Press will round up all kinds of entries.
FINE PRINT
Deadline to enter 1/1/2020 11:59 pm EST.
The Kindle version of OR NOT TO BE  and INFINITY LINE are available in place of the paperback at the winner’s discretion. These novels are both also available to read for free in #kindleunlimited. The children’s book, I LIKE TREES LIKE THESE, is only available in paperback.
Entries (tweets, comments) that do not specify a book choice will be excluded.
Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. Paperback copies only available to addresses in the continental United States. Kindle versions available to anyone with an email address.
Always read the fine print.
#asktheauthor
#giveaway by #indie press

fragile, broken, and glued

fragile, broken, and glued

squares of dough rolled to translucence

wrapped around bamboo

corner to corner

glued by egg

fried in fat

dredged in sugar

filled with chocolate,

and more sugar, and cheese

consumed after meatballs and bread by families


But what if the egg glue lets go and the pastry tube unfurls in the fryer?

Dredge it anyway and eat it warm.

Or what if the Sugar Girl grows up and goes to medical school, our best Roller gets married and moves to Virginia, a fearless Fryer works 12-hour nursing shifts across the state line, and it snows or the sun gets in our eyes, and life tosses in a defensive line with burly blockers, and our assembly line can’t get together?

Bring the fry daddy, aprons, bamboo rods and tongs across the country and make the mess in a borrowed kitchen.

And what if the fragile bamboo rods break?

Protect them for a decade in a dark and quiet box until an idea sprouts. Wander through stores for hours searching for parts. Carefully glue (not with egg). Add candlelight.

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Spontaneous Semester

Spontaneous Semester

At the beginning of the semester a student occupies an energy state called READY. Rested, fed, and hopeful, full to the brim with anticipation, skis locked on, goggles on tight, poles dug in. She crouches, eager for the push.

The first week is misleading, like a bunny hill. A slight downward grade. Still sufficient hours to sleep, eat, and laugh. Lectures don’t seem like time wasted when she should be writing a report or studying for a test. Even the professors smile.

End of the second week: activation energy gets sharply and suddenly steeper. The climb out of bed and into the flow of the day is exothermic. Labs start, homework is due, that first orgo quiz looms like dread in the closet. The universe demands your tithe of entropy. No time to fold the clothes. Just let them rest where they land.

Third week. Lectures no longer seem bright and shiny. That cute guy smells unwashed and hasn’t shaved. Professors pile on new material every damn day. Skipping a lecture isn’t worth the hole it digs that you’ll have to climb out of. No time to eat. Just grab a coffee. No time to exercise. Just lug the heavy bag half a mile across campus. No time to brush the hair. Just pile it on top and jam on a hat. No time for make up. Just wear yesterday’s mascara.

Fourth week. First round of exams. Why do they all schedule them at the same time? (Do the math. It’s logical.) Someday in your real life after college, the baby will puke on you and the tire will flatten when you’re late for a flight while time shrinks to a pin-prick. College is life training; it’s a preview to show you how much you can take while your choices lead you to the life they all told you you wanted.

Fifth week. Are you kidding me? There’s still a month until Fall Break? You climbed the activation energy required for that first round of exams, did your best, blamed each exam for the one-letter-grade lower you scored on every other one, called mom and cried twice but then talked her down and begged her not to come to campus. You tried to find that blue shirt that matches your eyes. You tried to find two matching socks. The universe has shuffled the world. Instead you found half a granola bar and ate it anyway.

Week ten. You count 40 chapters of material learned in five courses so far. Well, maybe “learned” is too strong a verb. That much material cannot get in and actually stick. You glossed over most of it. Hoped the harder parts wouldn’t be tested and maybe you could guess your way on the multiple choice. If only your dog was here to hug.

Fall break blooms like four dizzy days on an oasis. You will eat. Laugh. Play. Catch up on everything. Instead you sleep like the newly dead. You do not shower. You hardly speak. You take energy in to try to climb back up to that READY spot. You can see it but it’s too high. You rationalize there are only six more weeks, so you only need to get halfway back to READY. You fall asleep on your mother’s clean rug, exhausted from thinking about it all. You awake hours later under a blanket someone has draped over you. You smile and drift back down to sleep some more. On the Sunday before you have to go back, you decide to drag your bags of laundry out of the trunk, a bit worried about the odor you’re certain to find there. Instead you find clean and folded clothes, socks matched, towels fresh for the first time since August. Mom.

First Monday back you go to 8 am lecture and the room is full. You’ve never seen these people before.

By the second day back, you have decided you’ll make less laundry if you just wear the same clothes until they must be changed. Most of your clothes are comfortable enough to sleep in anyway. Wednesday morning 8 am goes by without a thought and you miss a quiz. You email the professor asking if there is any way you can make it up but never receive a response. You email a second time and craft a mild catastrophe, an excuse, a cry for mercy. The notification dings on the email response: read the syllabus.

Four weeks rush by with no notice of the passing of time, with no day-by-day plan for survival. You simply fight each fire. Another round of reports and exams leave you wobbly and weak. Sleep and food are for wimps. You’ll sleep in December.

You lift your eyes to the horizon on the Friday before final exam week. Before you stands the highest mountain. It is your own personal mountain and must be climbed alone. You hoist your brick-laden pack while cold rain pelts your face and the only rations are Ramen noodles and coffee. Gotta get to the other side with your soul and some sanity still stuck to your core. Buckle up, buttercup. A college degree is printed on hefty parchment in indelible ink for a reason. You are here because you are smart, so smart. And determined. And worth all of this effort. Ask your mother. Ask your dog. Heck, even your professor sees it.

Peeling an apple in one coil, reading a love story, laughing while we cry: things women do

Peeling an apple in one coil, reading a love story, laughing while we cry: things women do

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The light of the bright fall afternoon shines through the windows at the back of our house and glances off Bethany’s glasses as she peels apples, slowly, each in one long coil. She mixes butter with flour, not gently. Clouds of the white dust waft around my kitchen. Eventually, each speck succumbs to gravity, settling upon any horizontal surface that will stop its fall and convert kinetic back to potential energy.

My daughter is the only functioning body in the place. The cat sleeps on the heating vent with his long, bushy tail shielding the day from his eyes. Joey must be under his bed again. Eddie hasn’t moved from the blue chair yet. The stubble on his chin is graying. I imagine his breath is deadly. He is pathetic. I should feel sympathy for him because he looks like he could use a hug. But I don’t. I can’t yet because I don’t understand his reaction to my death. I wish I could have hugged him and made him smile more while I was alive, but we squandered our time together. Regrets overwhelm me.

I watch my Eddie frown when he smells the apples and cinnamon from the kitchen. I know he’s thinking about me, about us. I try to stay away, but he pulls me into his thoughts with the same magnetic intensity as when he pulled me into his arms thousands of times, still never enough, when I lived.

Anna?

Cinnamon reminds me of you. I can’t go into the kitchen. With both of his large hands, he rubs his face hard and blows out his breath.

| | | |

Enticed by the good smells from the kitchen, Joey creeps down the stairs and climbs up on the step stool. He leans to Bethany for a hug. She starts to cry when she hugs him back. She sits him in a pile of flour on the counter. Joey is alarmed by her tears; now that his sister has started to cry, she can’t seem to stop. She wipes her face on the belly of his shirt and gives him an apple slice slathered in sugar and cinnamon.

He takes in the mess of flour and butter she’s concocting and asks shyly, “Apple squares?” He pops the chunk of apple into his mouth.

Bethany nods as she wipes her nose on her sleeve and eats a slice, too. Joey thinks he can help her stop crying. He says with a full mouth, “Hey, Bethy, hold your tongue and say apple.” He shines his wicked grin on her.

Bethany sticks out her tongue and holds it and says, “Athole,” and Joey loses himself in giggles. Eddie hears the sound from the other room, and we both think at the same instant: My children are laughing?

Now, I have left them all. It was not my intention, and I am infinitely pissed. Given a second chance at that choice, now I would have stayed home on Friday, November eleventh. I would’ve tried harder to stay on the same team as Eddie to keep us from falling apart.

As I watch my children, I feel like they are holding my heart.

Death really hurts.

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Excerpts from Chapter 4 of OR NOT TO BE

© 2014 Laura Lanni

used with permission from LMNO Press

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A note from the author

My debut novel OR NOT TO BE will turn 5 years old on Monday 11/11/19 and some of you have neither read it yet nor gifted it (wrapped in glittery paper and a big bow) to your sister or best friend for Christmas or her birthday. Here’s your incentive to pull this story to the top of your TBR pile.

For one day only (11/11/19) the Kindle version of OR NOT TO BE will be available for FREE! Click here.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE! Suppose you read this tragic love story and LOVE IT (or like it quite a bit or even very much). Then you’ll surely want a copy of the paperback to gift to someone you love. So here’s a second and even better offer for OR NOT TO BE fans: Post your review of OR NOT TO BE to Amazon.com or Goodreads or both. Send a link to your review to me on Goodreads (lauralanni) or email lauralanni2014@gmail.com, and we’ll arrange payment and shipping details. If you do all of this, LMNO Press will send you two copies of the paperback for $11.11, free shipping (of course) to anywhere in the continental US. What a great BOGO.

This BOGO paperback offer will last until 50 pairs of copies are claimed or 11/25/19 at 11:11 am EST, whichever comes first, so get started with your #free #Kindle copy on 11/11/19! Limit two (2) paperback copies (for $11.11) per customer. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. Permission to share reviews is granted by all who participate. Always read the fine print.