Sunday, December 6, 2009

I haven't changed much

Many thanks to Kathy for inviting me to contribute to Writer's Rising. I can see I am in good company. Kathy asked me to introduce myself in my first post. At the age of 44 I don't have an impressive biography. I do have a good education, good relationships, somewhere nice to live, good health, and a purpose. I'm not going to say much more about those things here. Instead I'm writing about the 2 things about me that haven't changed in nearly 40 years. I figure that these things are very essential and core information about who I really am, so they will suffice as my introduction as a new contributor on Writer's Rising.

The first core truth about me is that I love the natural world so much that I collect souvenirs.
Picture this. A blood red 2 door Torana. My lovely mother in a head scarf,and my handsome dad driving. Five (yes 5!) children aged 5-8.5 years in the back seat. Yummy foods, drinks, a blanket and some Lazy Boy chairs in the boot. Destination? Weekend family picnic.

Imagine this. The winding roads and sharp bends leading to the picnic grounds are exaggerated by the pile-up of kids against the 'lucky' two with the window seats. Car sickness complaints are rising from the back seat in anticipation of a travel lozenge doled out to 5 sweaty hands.

Here is a photo of my sister and I aged 6 and 5 years at one of our weekend family picnics. We are holding hands and shyly smiling. Our outfits are identical from the shoes up and so are our haircuts. I am the younger sister on the right. My sister's right hand grasps my right hand and in my left I am holding something. It's difficult to see what it might be. Recently, as I scanned this photo and it was magnified on my laptop screen, I realised that I was holding a small blossom.

Forty years later and my sister and I rarely, if ever, hold hands. We have different tastes in clothing and very different hair styles. But I still bring home souvenirs from my almost daily forays into the natural world. At the moment I have a bottlebrush in a glass near my kitchen sink. Tomorrow it will be something else. Yesterday it was a large fragrant pine needle branch and the many days of nature walks before have seen feathers, shells, flowers, and bright autumn leaves find a home on my sink. When I look at these momentoes throughout the day I am transported back to my walk. Loving nature and bringing it home with me is something I have always done and will probably always do.

The second essential and enduring thing about me is that I love and respect the library and its contents. I know how dorky and nerdy that sounds believe me. Let me explain.

When my 4 siblings and I were growing up our lives were very routine. My mum was a nurse from the 'old school', so breakfast was at 7am, morning tea at 10am, lunch at 12, afternoon tea at 3pm and dinner at 6pm. Mass every Sunday and every Friday night was a whole family trip to the library and fish and chips for dinner.

We lived in a small seaside town so the fish and chips were good. Along with enough chips for a family of seven we ordered potato scallops, fish and sometimes dim sims. These were eaten at home later with pickled onions and fresh white bread. Five Twin Pole icecreams were paid for and wrapped in newspaper ready to collect with our order.

While the fish and chips fried we all went to the library. This was the highlight of my week. I loved the silence, the order and the anticipation and smell of the books.

We were allowed 3 books each so that meant that 15 books came home for the week. I learned to read at age 3 to keep up with my older siblings. There were many whispered discussions in the library stacks before we all agreed about what was coming home that week. The chosen 15 were shared around. Subjects varied from cricket and football to sewing and the Famous Five series. By the time we had all finished primary school we had read every book in the kids section a few times and had moved on to the adult section. At home we read comics and magazines and the newspaper. We each had a book case in our bedrooms filled with books, and we had quiet reading time for 1-2 hours in the afternoon during the holidays and on weekends.

Today I read at least 2 or 3 books a week. This has helped me get through a University degree and post graduate studies. I still love the library. I have worked in the University library as a student searching for rare books, retrieving books from basement collections and scanning and sending articles and chapters to external students. I love entering a library and feeling the excitement of bringing a few books home with me. Reading has helped me find solutions for many of the problems I have had. There is always someone going through something similar and there is always someone writing about it.

Words Become Honey

I remember sitting in my 5th grade class when the teacher asked us to compose a short story. She may as well have told me I could skip ahead 6 grades--this was how giddy, and ecstatic it made me. With little legs swinging joyously under the desk, I set about to capture in words the onslaught of imagery that filled my head onto paper. My imagination took a flying, soaring, roaring delicious leap, with chapters, and chapters of adventures for my characters to fulfill. In my mind's eye, I saw an entire book in vivid movie form not "just" a short story.

Somehow I missed the part where she told us we had only an hour to achieve the writing task. When she told us to pass our papers forward, I nearly fainted. It was like I had drawn an elaborate picture, and then had my crayons abruptly taken away before I could finish coloring it. I got a D. Not because of my writing, but because I didn't turn in a complete story with a beginning, middle, and conclusion. [insert a BIG sigh here] I was crushed but not entirely squashed. I went home and continued to work on it anyway. That's when I first discovered my passion for writing. I've been chasing it with a butterfly net full of paper and pens ever since.

Three years later, at age 13, I wrote my first song. It was 1965 a year after the Beatle's Invasion. The kids in my class told our teacher I'd written a song, and much to my surprise, she asked me to get up in front of the classroom, and sing it for everybody. Shyness nearly robbed me of that moment of glory but wobbly kneed, and with a weak voice, I did it. The kids loved it but I'm sure the teacher had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. For me it was a taste of honey I've hungered for ever since.

Beatle boots and a surfer haircut
That's what I like
Tight pants and a leather jacket
Riding on a motor bike

There was more to the song I just don't remember it. I'm surprised I remember that much of it. I even remember the melody, and could sing it to you some 44 years later. But don't ask me what I ate for breakfast yesterday. I'd be hard pressed to tell you.

That's me in the picture performing at a beauty pageant in SO CA in 1970 at age 17. I wrote, and sang a song I composed. The next day, the newspaper headline said, "New Queen Can't Read Or Write Music But She Can Compose". I received my first standing ovation, and won the competition which led me to compete in the next leg to the Miss California pageant. I didn't win that next pageant but a new dream of writing simmered under my rhinestone crown, and filled my mouth with honey once again.

That dream never left me, and I did indeed grow up to become a singer-songwriter with nearly 25 years under my belt of singing professionally. I've recorded three projects/albums and toured nationwide. You can check out my photo journal here that highlights my bands, and documents my steps along the way. Out of that journey I realized writing in all forms was like medicine to my soul. Seven of my short stories have been published and my forthcoming book, "Six Days to Haight-Ashbury" is as good as it's gets for a girl who's favorite song is Over the Rainbow.

"Six Days To Haight-Ashbury"

A young girl sticks her thumb out to find the Summer of Love

Lille Diane's forthcoming book chronicles one of the most colorful times in history during the last century--the magical sixties. In 1967 the California freeways were lined with hippies seeking ways to tune out, and turn on to freedom from the establishment. Like 100,000's of young people, Lille stuck her thumb out on a freeway on ramp to find peace, and love in San Francisco's historical Haight-Ashbury district. Those six days became a lifetime to a 16 year old girl.

"Riveting, and real!" readers say. Take a trip back in time to see what all the fuss was about, and to find out what she was running from.....

To read an excerpt click HERE.

My blog Woodstock Lily has given me yet another outlet to use writing but this time as a healing balm. After a bad auto accident in May 2008 I was diagnosed with PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. I'm using writing, art, photography and blogging to help me jump back into life again.

Thank you, Kathy, for inviting me to be a part of this writer's group. I feel like swinging my child heart's skinny legs under my desk, and humming a tune loudly for all the world to hear. That's how happy I am to be a part of this. Thank you fellow writers, for I know inspiration will drip like honey from each one of you. How exciting to have a place to come together, to meet, to grow, and to cheer each other on. I'll stop by to visit your blogs or websites, too. Now I know ya'll are dying to ask me.... go ahead.... ask me to sing that song I wrote in the 5th grade... you know you wanna.

Biography: Rayn Roberts

I've been asked to post a bio so people know me better. I have a profile on here in case anyone wants more.... Here you go:

Rayn Roberts moved to Seattle from Asia where he lived and worked in Japan and Korea for 15 years; the last 8 out of 9 years in Korea. He appears in print and online in Rattle, The Sow's Ear Review, Voices in Wartime, PoetsWest, Chronogram, The Pedestal Magazine, Rattapallax and other journals plus four anthologies.

His poetry is heard on radio in PoetsWest programs and is available on CD from PoetsWest in Seattle. In 2006, Celestial Arts, Berkely/Toronto, included him in their book, "Illuminations" on interfaith understanding. His last book, “Of One and Many Worlds” and others are available from Poetic Matrix Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and numerous small book dealers.

It's About Time

I know, I know, it's about time I start posting...So..O.K..I am a very shy person..Here we go....In the beginning, I'll say a huge "thank you" to Katherine for inviting me here and another equally big "thanks" to the other members, for having me here.

Now, the hard bit...something about myself...where to start? I was born in Romania 44 years ago and I am currently living in Israel (long story, another time). I am a former journalist that tried to be an English teacher (in Israel) and failed with flying colors! I am currently a staying at home mum, and of course, I am called "imaaaaaaaa" (mother in Hebrew) by my three years old baby-girl Maya and my 24 years old son, Darie.

Back in Romania, in my glorious days as a journalist I published a book, a traveling/history/personal experiences type about Israel. It is called "Between the Central Bus Station and The Wailing Wall". But that was a long time ago, in another life...Now, I am working at a big, secret project, a fiction book, and it is really big for me as I attempt to write it in English...I am training my hand in writing here: where I watch my life unfolding before my eyes, where I can go and live among my memories from time to time...
That is for now...I'll be back soon. now I have to go to take Maya from the kindergarten. So glad to be here!