Serenity Now! 

So…

In case you’re new here, life has been pretty high stress lately (Who am I kidding? Lately? I should have had Rosie O’Donnell’s heart attack years ago. Ladies, watch her “Heartfelt Standup” special if you can find it. We don’t have heart attacks like men, so it’s time to learn the symptoms)

I am an adherent of the Law of Attraction and I have manifested things, situations, TIMELY pieces of good fortune when I need them. Amd I acknowledge that a contributing factor to my current set of circumstances has been some poor choices on my part. Not the entire reason, but as I’ve said before, I’m no angel. 

I have watched “The Secret” many times and before you snort, it is very comforting when I need it. Like now. (It’s actually a more slickly packaged version of Esther and Jerry Hicks and Abraham). One of the things it teaches is that emotions are important and to attract better situations in the future, one should have

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(I loved Stiller & Meara, although all I remember of their routines is Anne Meara saying “Happy Chanookah.”)

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I think it’s related to Festivus.?

Calm. Serenity. Attitude of Gratitude. 

I will need a home a week from Thursday and it’s stressful (my current hosts have done as much as they can for me and I am extremely grateful for their help. However, people can only do so much and they need their homes back). My bank account is overdrawn and that’s stressful. My phone is off due to non-payment and that’s stressful. My iPad’s charger has decided to go on strike and that’s stressful (because that’s my computer since my laptop bit the dust). I’ve applied for a truckload of jobs for which I’m highly qualified and not gotten an interview and that’s stressful. I’m in danger of losing my worldly goods because they’re in storage and I’m behind on the rent (and since I don’t have my own family, this is precious to me. My life)

However,

I don’t need the home this very minute. I am sheltered, fed, clothed, clean and warm (thanks to my trust yak hair blanket. That’s right, I said “yak.” Lightweight and WARM. Get one. Or mortgage your house, get a bunch of yarn for one your knitting friends and get a sweater). The bank account will get resolved. The charger can be replaced and the phone back on. Just takes money. And that can come at any time from anywhere. 

So in this moment, I choose to be calm, to be grateful for what I have and to trust the Universe (I know there is something bigger than us out there. Whether it is the God I was raised with or the Force or someibg else, there is something there) to help me. It hasn’t let me down yet. 

Character Study: Judge Frank McCafferty

This is the sixth post in a series  exploring the important characters of “These Foolish Things,” who they are, some background, and how I came up with them.

Meet Judge Frank McCafferty.

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My writing process is best described as watching a movie in my head and translating it into words. Movies need actors and I cast Charles Durning (in case you didn’t recognize him).

Frank is a Superior Court judge for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and sits on the bench In his native Boston. He’s known as a tough but fair jurist with little or no tolerance for nonsense in his courtroom. The judge is famous for handing out contempt of court citations by asking the offending attorneys if they’d brought a toothbrush.

Frank is taken with Liz Gardner’s legal writing skill and her ability to out argue one of the best litigators in the country, Ty Hadley. Because he thinks he sees so,etching between them, Frank uses a courtroom faux pas by Hadley to issue a contempt citation and gives him a choice: either jail time or take Liz out on a date. Ty chooses the date and things go from there. Like Beanie ( Character Study: Beanie) , McCafferty is one of the catalysts in the story and is never too far from the main narrative.

Like Ty, Fank is an alcoholic, but he’s been in recovery for years and volunteers with the substance abuse prevention section of the Bar Association (there is such a thing. And I am a member of the Mass Bar), mentoring attorneys recovering from substance abuse. Frank becomes a father figure to Ty. As for Liz, her persuades her to come work for him as a clerk.

There is a Mrs. McCafferty, but we never meet her as she is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and confined to a treatment facility. Frank has been lonely because of it and welcomes his inclusion in the lives of Liz and Ty.

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Brian Dennehy would make a good McCafferty.

Or

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Larry Miller. He is best known as a comic, but did you see his two “Law & Order” episodes? Stone cold.

Or

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Yes. That’s Harrison Ford. Why not? Might be an Oscar in it for him.

There are some notoriously eccentric  judges in the Bay State. And there are judges whose offbeat sentences (like wearing a sign  or T shirt with the crime printed on it, or sentencing teenagers to do community service at a retirement home.  My Civil Procedure professor frequently told us stories about Boston judges and “Did you pack a toothbrush?” ?I have seen a couple of them in action (observer for school, not as a party to an action).

McCafferty’s admonishment to Liz (“Only the ones wearing the robes get to swear in the courtroom”) came from a Boston courtroom.

I guess one of the underlying themes of these two books is people with fractured family histories coming together to build a new loving family of choice.

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Character Study: Beanie

This is the fifth post in a series about the key characters in “These Foolish Things,” discussing their origins and inspirations. Beanie is Liz Gardner’s cat.

It may be a head scratcher to some people as to why I’d go in depth about the character of a cat. Especially one that doesn’t talk or do anything other than be a cat. Beanie is important to the story. Before Ty Hadley comes on the scene, he is her closest companion and his arc is a catalyst of the action.

Beanie is a cat who found Liz as she was in treatment for breast cancer. He was a stray on the grounds of the hospital whre she was being treated, jumped into her bag and hitched a ride home with her.

This is the inspiration for Beanie:

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He knew he looked adorable.

His name was Toulouse (aka Loosey). A friend of mine was vacationing in Florida when a friendly stray cat approached her outside her hotel. She petted him on the head and went back to retrieving her bags from the rental car. When she got the bags into her hotel room, Toulouse popped out of one of them. She said he was skinny, filthy, covered in fleas and mites, but so charming she couldn’t resist. Given his markings and lively personality, he was at least part Turkish Van.

Loose eventually became one of my cats when he came for an extended visit and bonded so tightly with my cat, George that the two moped when they were separated.

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George is the orange one.  Squirrel watching was one of their favorite pastimes when they weren’t wrestling. The term coined for the two of them was “Bouncy Cat Boys.”

Toulouse was one of the smartest cats I’ve ever met and I’ve never met a dumb cat. He figured out how to open cabinets and doors, knew how to charm the neighbors, and if I was eating something he thought was interesting, a white paw would reach over and gently guide my hand with the spoon to his mouth. Or try. I didn’t let him win very often. He really did learn “Get your furry ass out of there.” That all-black tail of his seemed to have its own little control because it was always in motion, especially when he was figuring out something naughty to do.

One January night in New Hampshire (and it was bitterly cold), Toulouse dove out the front door during a Chinese food delivery. I searched for him and couldn’t find him in the dark. The next morning, I was outside with a bag of cat cat food and the little bugger popped right up and came in as if nothing had happened. He spent the next two days sleeping.

Loose went from being a Florida cat to Virginia to New Hampshire and finally out to California. I lost him on May 28, 2003 to kidney cancer.

As I was writing “These Foolish Things,” I had “help” from Toulouse (and George and Cookie and Sam) and it seemed natural to include a cat in the story. Writing Beanie was easy because I was just relating Toulouse’s antics.

As I said, Beanie acted as a catalyst in the story and as comic relief. The name came from the old Beanie & Cecil cartoon.

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The name seemed like a good one; it just popped into my head. As Liz was an attorney (or an aspiring one), it seemed natural to come up with a link to law for him and I worked backwards to make it short for “Breaking & Entering.” Beanie’s inspiration, Toulouse, was a master of cat burglary.

I will not put spoilers here, but Beanie’s story isn’t completely happy. I miss his inspiration, Toulouse, every day.

If I could inspire readers to any kind of action, I would tell them to go adopt a cat from the local animal shelter or volunteer. Toulouse was proof that there are wonderful, loving, entertaining animals out there just waiting for a home. Go find a Beani of your own.