Monday, December 20, 2010

Rain powered writer

Guest Post by Carolyn J. Rose - with FREE Book Contest
(Enter a comment below and you're entered to win a copy of HEMLOCK LAKE).
Writing through the dark days of winter – 
How to be a precipitation-powered writer

Rain. It’s a fact of life in the Northwest.

If you live out here, odds are you’re going get wet—either because you forgot your waterproof jacket, figured you could outrun a shower, or failed to check the warranty expiration date on your roof.

In early October of 1989 my husband and I came to the Northwest on a job search/vacation. We experienced a full day of sunshine before the clouds rolled in. “It will be lifting soon,” Mike and I told each other every morning and again before we went to bed.

On day six, drenched and depressed, I interrogated the waitress at a diner in Florence, Oregon. “When will it let up?”

She took a quick peek out the window at what looked more like a stream than a street, tore the check off her pad and said in a tone that implied I’d asked the dumbest question of the decade, “April.”

The joke was on her. I got a job at KVAL news in Eugene and moved to Oregon anyway.

Right away I found that the perception of participation was far different than it was in Albuquerque or in the Catskill Mountains where I grew up. Back there we’d had rain, thunderstorms, and occasionally drizzle. But out here there are many more words: rain, mist, drizzle, showers, storms, thunderstorms, sprinkles, drenching rain, continuous rain, and intermittent all of the above. There was, I discovered during the years we lived in Eugene, also lot of fog, and beyond that, freezing fog. Sometimes there was snow, especially in the hills.

But my first Northwest winter was filled with new experiences and so, as I got to know my way around, I scarcely noticed the weather. My second winter, however, was marked by deep depression. Fog moved in not on little cat feet but like a cougar driving a bulldozer, and it hung around for weeks. I made it through by eating too much chocolate and spending too many hours in bed, propped up on a pile of pillows, indulging in comfort reading.

The next year I decided I wouldn’t give in to depression, wouldn’t allow myself even a few hours of the blues. I vowed to write through the winter and focus on the weather in my fictional settings instead of outside my window. So, in late September, I sat down and made a list of what I would do to prepare for the onslaught of Pacific storms. It worked. By spring I was halfway through a novel and hardly noticing the hammering of thick drops on the roof.

If you want to power your own writing through the dark days of winter, here’s my list:
  • Drench yourself in Ds. Step up your vitamin D intake during the dark months.
  • Turn on more lights. Full-spectrum bulbs are good. But any kind of extra light is a bonus.
  • Stay away from greasy foods and heavy meals.
  • Don’t overdo coffee and caffeine. Sure, it wakes you up on a dreary morning, but too much can mess with your sleep patterns.
  • Cut back on alcohol. The buzz might feel good, but remember that it’s a depressant and will bring you down later.
  • Escalate the exercise. It’s easier to get depressed when you’re sedentary, so keep moving.
  • Get out and confront precipitation. Walk in all weather.
  • Splurge on high-quality waterproof winter wear.
  • Two final words: cute boots.

If you have tips for powering your writing through the winter, please share them in the comment spaces. I’m always looking for ideas to add to the list.

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She teaches novel-writing in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

She is the author of Hemlock Lake, Consulted to Death, Driven to Death, and Dated to Death, and the co-author of Sometimes a Great Commotion, The Big Grabowski, The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, and The Hermit of Humbug Mountain which will be on sale as a Kindle during December.

Visit her virtual home at

Editors Note: Leave a comment to be entered to win a FREE copy of Hemlock Lake by Carolyn J. Rose.

Carolyn J. Rose was my teacher for Novel Writing Boot Camp I and II. Out of that experience sprang an incredible critique group that has produced two Pacific Northwest Writing Association winners, Melanie Sherman and Pam Stanek. PNWA has noted on my entries, "Really good writing here," which is reward in itself, and I continue to claim, "I can criticize anyone to success."


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Social Media for Writers

Vancouver Writer's Mixer
December 4, 2010, 5-6:30 pm
Featuring Carol Doane:
Social Media for Writers

Saturday Carol's got the internet wired for fun, for feedback and success! She's the doyenne of Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, and many another virtual publicity websites.
Carol will be demonstrating the basics of navigating these treacherous technical waters.  Find out why you should dabble, even just a little, on-line. 
By the time we're finished, you'll be amazed and eager to get out there and start networking!  It's so easy, even Smedley the bookstore cat tweets. Carol will touch on hot social media topics such asTwitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube, Plancast and blogging.
Learn quick tips, easy to use shortcuts and what to do if you hate the idea of marketing yourself. 

Carol Doane was a top finalist in the 2010 Social Media Awards of the Pacific Northwest (SoMe Award) for her volunteer campaign for the Southwest Washington Blood Program. Winning campaigns awarded to Air New Zealand, Travelocity, PAX East, Mio Gelato, Portland Fit, Hotel Max, Mio Gelato.

She is also a published writer (chapter in Laughing Nine to Five: The Quest for Humor in the Workplace) and she has two completed fiction manuscripts now in the hands of literary agents on both coasts.

 Many, many thanks to Angst Gallery owner Leah Jackson for allowing us to hold the mixer in her venue. If you want to chat with Carol after the event we'll be taking over the couch in Niche Wine & Art next door.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tomorrow's leaders will be defined by . . . well they can spell.

I was checking out FutureWorks, the top agency in the US for social media, digital and public relations integration led by Brian Solis, and I watched the entire, actually entirely too long, entrance video. (Screen shot of website above).

I spent more time on the first page than I normally do, and as I did my eyes wandered down to the copy blocks and I began to absorb what top public relations practitioners say about themselves:

“FutureWorks is an award-winning digital and social media agency founded and led by author, speaker and thought-leader Brian Solis. FutureWorks fuses “best of breed” social media, new media, digital influence and work of mouth marketing. (Boldface and italics mine, screenshot below).”

From this description, namely the reference to ‘work’ of mouth, it is clear they must also specialize in dentistry.

I know advertising people. Some advertising people are my best friends. Some may say I might be one. And yes, there's some heavy drilling that goes on when marketing people attack the world to influence us with their version of information, and here is the EXCITING news FutureWorks is ahead of their time.

FutureWorks may have found the shortcut to the hours spent on research to understand the target demographic, the shortcut to gathering intelligence from focus groups, the steep investment to hire top creative managers and renowned web designers. Certainly, they have discovered how to eliminate the hours upon online hours drowning in understanding and participating in social media. Potentially, they may have found the way to avoid all the small marketing testing and near misses, and to immediately deploy on large scale.

It's clear FutureWorks has decided to get in our heads through our mouth.

I'm thinking a good tooth yanking would definitely make me buy ANYTHING.

Or, perhaps FutureWorks should learn to spell.

P.S. It's ‘word’ of mouth marketing.

Carry on.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Do not operate a submarine while reading this blog

I downloaded a new app to my smart phone and prior to engaging it the application required me to read the End-User License Agreement.

Most of the time I click the box that means, yeah, I “read” it.

Pay attention non-readers, not every boring End-User License Agreement is boring. In fact, these manufacturers believe that * I * am anything but boring, too!

Mostly, they're right.

But to make sure we were on the same page, the End-User License Agreement detailed what was intended by high risk activities I should avoid conducting while using their product, and I quote:

HIGH RISK ACTIVITIES: The software is not fault-tolerant and is not designed, manufactured or intended for use in hazardous environment requiring fail-safe performance, such as the operation of:
  • Nuclear facilities
  • Aircraft navigation
  • Air traffic control
  • Implantable human medical devices
  • External human life-support machines
  • Explosives control devices
  • Submaries
  • Weapons systems
  • Or in controlling the operation of moving motor vehicles in which the failure of the Software could lead directly to death, personal injury, or severe physicial or environmental damage.

Let's be clear. I agree. The above bullet points are high risk activities. I also think if you are intelligent enough to engage in the above activities, you are smart enough not to conduct the stated activity while using your cell phone.

But maybe not.

So, let's be clear about you. I believe you are smart. You read my blog, follow me on Twitter and make comments on such, and due to your high use of good judgment it must also be stated that you are bright enough not to perform those activities while operating a phone (yours or mine), yelling at at kid (yours or mine) or entering into any life changing event such as getting married (while reading my blog).

In case you're not that bright, this blog is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including, but not limited to anything I have said, might say or may never say and any of the preceding that may or may not appear in writing under my byline.

If you have any questions about the above, please leave a comment below. I will review your comments with my attorney and will craft a reply that will not place you in further danger of End-User Agreements.

If you do not place a comment, you proceed into life and future End-User Agreements at your own risk.



Friday, October 1, 2010

Quote of the Fri(day)

“Trust that little voice in your head that says ‘Wouldn't it be interesting if...’; And then do it.” ~ Duane Michals, American photographer, (1932 - ).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Taking life out of the box

I opened a box and peeled back the pages of my life. Nestled between official documents and immunization records was a little poem. It was scrawled in my handwriting and twice as long but edited to be succinct. It read . . .

Have you always been standing next to me,
Or was it just yesterday we became a family?
Wherever we go, whatever we do,
I'll always be mommy and I'll love you.

This time of year there is a birthday and a moment when we share what it means to be a family. It's the moment we pause under the rays of a warm sun, take a moment to hug and say, ‘I love you,’ and realize how very lucky we are.

Happy birthday, baby.

Love you lots,



Friday, September 24, 2010

Quote of the (Fri)Day

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." ~ Albert Einstein, Nobel laureate and the father of modern physics, (1879 - 1955).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote of the (Fri)Day

"Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't."
~ Pete Seeger, American folk singer, (1919 - ).


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

GUEST: Author Carolyn J. Rose

Today's post is by a unique guest, author and teacher Carolyn J. Rose. 

Rose shares her thoughts on growing up in the Catskill Mountains and how those memories can create a strong setting. Rose earned an honored position on the list of Celebrities Who've met ME! when I took both her Novel Writing Boot Camp classes. From that experience blossomed a loyal critique group that has produced two Pacific Northwest Writers Association winners--attesting to her  skill as a writing coach.

Carolyn' J. Rose is the author of several books, most recently Hemlock Lake available in hardback or Kindle.  Here's Carolyn . . .

In Washington, where I live now, the term I hear is “forest.” But when I grew up in the Catskill Mountains, the leafy realm that began at a dozen yards from our house was always called “the woods.

Trees dug in their toes at the edge of a scabby lawn sprouting through
rocky soil scraped into a semblance of level by a tractor blade. This was no spongy, springy, emerald green lawn. This was a pale lawn of ruggedly individualistic blades of grass, roots corkscrewed in among pebbles and stones, clinging to scant, glacier-scoured soil.

Each spring we reclaimed the edges of it from an advancing army of sumac, oak, and birch, from hemlock, pine, and cedar. We hacked away at brush and vines, lugging what we dropped to piles that would be set alight in the dark of winter.

The summer woods seemed impenetrable, the winter woods empty, bleak, and barren.

As a child, one of the biggest treats was a Sunday afternoon walk with my father. It was a pursuit of adventure, of wildness—it was piquant sauce for the predictability of the Sunday dinner of ham or roast, that Sunday sense of waiting for things to begin again with Monday’s dawn.

My father would identify tracks and droppings—deer, bear, raccoon, skunk. He’d name trees and point out nests aloft.

I’d try to walk silently, but winter winds had scattered twigs and branches that snapped beneath my shoes and slabs of shale slid underfoot when we climbed the ridges.

I became fearful when we left the landmarks I knew and could identify, worried we wouldn’t find our way back to the dinner simmering in that cast-iron kettle. But I was always confident that if I stayed by his side, we would return safely. After all, these were the woods he had roamed in childhood and if he’d found his way home as a child, he could surely do the same as an adult.

And this was no dense green-black forest of Douglas fir—no wall of forest, shadows, and night. This was a woods where sun spangled through the leaves of the hardwoods. This was a woods of saplings and bright autumn tints, of long, stark shadows cast by a weak winter sun. This was a woods where stone walls intersected like lines of longitude and latitude. Even humped under winter’s snow they provided a means of navigation.

Looking back, I realize how “tame” and “civilized” those woods were. And yet, they were mysterious, filled with unanswered questions: Who had left that sickle blade hanging in the crotch of a sapling and when had the tree grown around it? Who had left an ax leaning against a spur of stone wall and when had the handle rotted away? Whose initials were those scraped into lichen-scarred stone, carved into the puckered bark of a tree? Where had these people gone and when and why?

As I wrote Hemlock Lake, I often imagined myself back in the Catskill Mountains, back in those woods and I created mysteries of my own—a man who roamed the ridges seeking his lost self, ghosts, a man bent on vengeance, a killer. Hemlock Lake deals with universal themes—betrayal, revenge, love, loss, and redemption—but my memories of those woods make the story unique.

Editor: Thank you Carolyn for continuing to share yourself with your writing students and the reading community.

Listen to an interview of Carolyn J. Rose as she speaks about writing Hemlock Lake on The Author Show.

Purchase Hemlock Lake on Kindle here.

Read an interview of Carolyn J. Rose. It can be read in three parts:

Carolyn J. Rose also founded the Vancouver Writers Mixer with Mel Sanders of Cover to Cover Books.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Family vacation, borders and flying suitcases

Family trips evoke horror ridden memories or gut wrenching cackles. During the trip to the homestead in Idaho a suitcase got left on the top of the car. The wind blew it off. We stopped to pick it up. Inside was a clock which, packed by my overly cautious uncle, suffered nary a scratch. He’d bought it during the trip and was flying home and had packed it to withstand airport handling.

The clock survived the flight off the car and the flight home.

My daughter’s memories include seeing all the license plates, falling asleep listening to a book on tape and not minding missing any of it as the nap made the travel time pass quickly. My dad’s vacation memories center around history and being in the middle of something exciting, for example, where fur traders traversed from Taos, Mexico to Yellowstone, or having sensory overload at places like Cabella’s.

My vacation memories usually center on leaving work with a clean desk—should someone need to find something in my absence the possibilities increase with each item I file or discard. Then there’s the thrill of finally being on the road and maybe driving fast with a radar detector.

Other family members might complain our hunger clocks are not in the same time zone, of restrooms too low or too tiny, of missing the correct turn-off, and keeping expenses straight so everyone pays their part.

I gaze out the car window and admire green velvet fields. I watch the breath of the wind blow across them and change their hue. I take in green and tan corn stalks stretching behind wood post fences, farmhouses, silos, irrigation wing spans, the rare red-roof barn, a gentle border of trees signaling a creek, a white steeple church, wind turbines, mile long trains that parallel us, blue sky sparsely peppered with dark clouds or glowing with white billows.

We drive.

We cross state boundaries and face personal ones. These borders of our soul help define who we are, what we are for or against, and what we want and do not want. And sometimes we find ourselves not strapped on, wheeling precariously across the roof of the car, the next bump and we disappear. We may pray someone notices, or we may pray they drive on without us.

If family neglect left you on top of the car, did you fly off and survive, or crack with a hurt too big to repair?


Saturday, June 5, 2010

How does a book start?

Start here.

End there.

I closed the front door and started my walk. I needed fresh air and a stretch to clear my thoughts. I believed I walked alone. I was mistaken.

I arrived at the National Historic Reserve and discovered a young girl paced with me. Her emotions flared and she fought for control. She had adopted a steady, proud pace and walked boldly into her future, into a family she didn’t know, toward a man she didn’t love.

Her travel companions had tried to slow her pace and had said, “We don’t need to go fast, we need to go far.” Was it that they could not keep up, or something else that made them want to linger in the trail? I paused, sent my questions out and waited with my dream catcher.

Images flickered, focused and spun away.

I allowed my eyes to wander over the reserve. I saw an Indian tribe watch the young girl come down the path to their village. Tools dropped as the men watched her approach, women halted and stared, small children ran circles around her, tugged on her clothes and made fun of her dress. It was foreign and trail worn. She stopped and let them tug. When their teasing brought no response from her they disappeared.

She had fortitude, smarts and survival skills.

As I walked I heard her inner thoughts, her need to grasp what she believed belonged to her and the scheme she crafted to cheat the person who had cheated her father.

Then a brother cheated a cousin, and a man who doesn’t love her, but wants her because she is smart, rejects the woman he was destined to marry. It rips the family apart.

And that is how a book starts.

It is already there. It exists and waits for writers to peel away the pieces and work to get the broken shards to make sense. The difficulty for this story is that it occurred in the past. Only the writer’s pen exists today. The context, the scenes, the music must be drawn from history and I struggle.

In order to move my stymied efforts forward, I took another trail that led to the Cathlapotle Plankhouse in Ridgefield, Washington. I spoke with two Chinook men. They had no context to understand my plight or need to ask question after question in search of seeing the house of this young girl with clarity, or of sharing the voices of the family.

The Chinook have had visitors before. Television shows that take enough footage and cut and cut and redraw until what they produce is so romanticized it is unrecognizable as a representation of their tribe.

Who am I to tell this story?

I am not sure. But the pen has been passed and a Native American family waits to be heard.

Whose story is waiting for you?


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blue Lily, imagination and fragments of family we all miss

I’m writing at the moment. Sunk deep into a story. It occupies my thoughts when I wake and whispers to me in sleep. I have the idea mapped out in my mind and anxiously look forward to each moment in front of the computer.  But in-between the imagination and fingertips is another universe, and as I get to the end of each chapter I realize nothing is exactly as I’d envisioned it.

The story takes on a life of its own and I am merely a guest on it’s journey.

I wonder how I can assert so little control.

I wonder why I don’t know what will happen until it taps itself out on the white screen.

I wonder who is really writing the story.

My current project is named, Blue Lily, a nod at my great grandmother who went by the nickname Lily and whose hair was so black it was blue in the sparkling sunlight. Her given name was Carol, like mine, but more. She was Carolyn.

I feel simple and small beside her memory. She was adored by her granddaughter, my mother. And two lifetimes after her Lily’s death my mother can still cry. “You never get over missing family,” she explains and I know exactly what she means.

But I wonder if I am speaking as me or as Blue Lily.

Who are you missing?


Sunday, May 2, 2010

My birthday party is a social media HIT!

AWARDSCarol's Save a Life Birthday Party is a TOP FINALIST for a SoMe Award. (Pacific Northwest Social Media Award).

Every two minutes someone in Western Washington needs a blood transfusion. Sean Debutts, Social Media Coordinator at Puget Sound Blood Center, sent a direct message via Twitter to @TheFirstCarol to ask if she would spearhead a blood drive and help meet that need. The First Carol looked at her watch, realized no new adventure lay on the horizon and quickly said, "Sure!"

She dove into a complete social media campaign and results are in, the party was a hit and it's a top finalist for the Pacific Northwest Social Media Awards in The Scrappy & Engaged Award category.

The judges were, "A crew of social media enthusiasts in Texas and beyond," reports Sean Lowery, Executive Director of the InnoTech Conference which is spotlighting the awards.

"Social media is very personal and this campaign struck a chord for me," says The First Carol. "I have an innate curiosity to see if I can drive people out from behind their computers to share a cup of coffee and many will, but this project asked them to extend past surface conversation and participate in a needle-in-the-arm way."

The Puget Sound Blood Center maintains eleven donation centers in Washington and continues to benefit from her efforts. "For an hour the SlideShare I created to help explain the campaign to the judges was Hot on Twitter," notes Carol. "It's all these little wins that makes diving into social media fun." The slide share, Carol's Save A Life Birthday Party, continues to be featured on SlideShare's Health and Medicine category.

Sean Debutts, the initiator of the direct message that launched Carols's party says, "Carol deserves the honor after all the hard work she put into her drive and all the visibility she gave the concept."

What's next on the adventure agenda for The First Carol? "The hardest part now," she muses, "Is explaining what a social media award is to my parents."

Social media is an all encompassing term for the mixing of technology and social interaction to add value to the community. The SoMe Awards honor the best social media projects, programs and campaigns in the Pacific Northwest. Winners will be announced after the InnoTech Conference in Portland, Oregon, a business and technology conference sponsored by top brands IBM, Microsoft, Integra Telecom, and others.

Registration is $20 and includes two drinks and dessert at the prestigious Multnomah Athletic Club, 1849 SW Salmon Street, Portland, Oregon 97205 on Thursday, May 7, 2010 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Event registrations are accepted online:

"If you missed the birthday party, it's a great excuse to attend the awards party," says The First Carol. "It's a chance to meet me and you might get included in a future blog post."

Are you coming?

More information about the awards can be found on the SoMe website:


Friday, April 2, 2010

She pulled out the needle, I pushed it away

The gal who greeted me pulled out the needle and thrust it my way. I pushed it aside. I insisted on a gun and a bucket. I was ready to bleed.

The receptionist at the SW Washington Blood Center chuckled and explained she was the person who collected information not blood. She held out a clipboard along with that... pesky needle.

I examined it more closely. I noted it was a pen. I might have been nervous.

I reviewed the educational materials and worked my way through the official blood donation questionnaire. The receptionist and I had a brief exchange over the baby aspirin I'd taken two days prior. It fell within the 48 hour range and needed to be noted. I colored in the round circle over the grayed out 'Y' and hoped it didn't disqualify me from participating in my own birthday blood drive.

The receptionist handed me off to the phlebotomist who hauled me into an interview room. She scrutinized my answers. She asked three more questions and noted my responses on the form. Satisfied, she pulled out her gear and I felt the first prick. I don't remember much after that... until I started to breathe again.

When I lifted my head off the table she grinned and presented me with my first birthday present. Nothing fancy, not really expensive, but something I could really, really use: a band-aid.

Custom. Flesh colored. Nice.

She continued to smile and escorted me to the donation area. I seemed to be sort of a celebrity (my reputation had preceded me), they had decked out the center with balloons and general party paraphernalia including a lovely cake, and the big bosses shifted out of their offices to get a good glimpse of me. They cheered me on as I approached my donor destiny.

I slipped into the thick, cushioned recliner and rolled my neck and shoulders trying to get comfortable. Something clicked and a voice buzzed in my left ear. The pheblotomist handed me a remote control and waved at the television hanging from the ceiling, noting I had my very own set and could watch whatever I wanted.

I never watch TV anymore (I write) and had no idea what to do except flip through channel after channel. When the screen flickered to black and white I knew I'd landed at the right spot. Perry Mason entered the frame and the courtcase began.

My white-coated escort settled at my side and scrubbed at my inner elbow. I turned away. I steeled myself. I stifled a cry. When I turned back I realized she hadn't stuck me with anything and praised myself on my wonderful imagination.

At that point, I had to keep a close eye on her handiwork if only to save myself from embarrassment. The last thing I wanted was for them to call the birthday girl 'the big baby' before anything was accomplished. I barely flinched when things got set in place. Seriously.

I turned the TV volume down low and focused on pumping the hard rubber ball and fulfilling my birthday mission to save a life.

Squeeze, relax, squeeze, relax.

Seven minutes later I had filled my quota and we admired the nice pint my efforts provided.

This is when the party started.

We ripped the plastic cover off the Safeway cake, sliced up polite-sized pieces, and bit into chocolate cake embedded with chocolate pudding. The receptionist fired up the espresso machine and plunked a steaming, hot cup of coffee in front of me and waited for me to pass out.

I stayed upright.

After all, one doesn't have just one piece of cake on the birthday you donate blood.

Should you find yourself in the position to be a donor I highly recommend it. Although my fiction account would have you believe otherwise, the pain is nominal. The results of your gift, however, are phenomenal.

People often think that blood transfusions are only used for trauma and accident victims. In fact, blood transfusions are frequently used for cancer patients, blood & immune system diseases, organ transplantation, surgery, burn patients, and heart & blood vessel diseases. There is no substitute for blood and no artificial blood product. There is no substitute for you.

EACH DAY our community needs 900 people to donate blood. Thank you everyone who participated. Your gift means a family stays intact, a baby breathes, a mom smiles, a dad gets to hug his kid.

And we get to eat chocolate cake.

Back to Web-site

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Party starts at noon. You coming?

The party this year skews slightly vampirish because I'm asking all my friends to bring their blood. It's a social media adventure started by  @SWBlood on Twitter. They sent me a direct message asking if I would spearhead a drive. I gave them an enthusiastic yes and started pressing friends and strangers into service.

The online appointment scheduler has a couple of open spots, so get yourself signed up! We want to fill the day to keep the Puget Sound Blood Center-Vancouver busy. And while you're laying there saving lives you can think about all the presents you gave someone that they never used.

I realize this gift costs you something—your gas, your time to get to the center, maybe a little anxiety, but what does it cost if we do nothing? It costs someone their life.

And if you can't come to my party, I promise there'll be another one. The Blood-Mobile shows up at some of the finest places with juice and cookies, rockin' music and friendly, encouraging smiles. But today, you'll get to party with me, and that doesn't happen very often.

Please come!
Carol's Save a Life Birthday Party

Puget Sound Blood Center - Vancouver
9320 NE Vancouver Mall Blvd
Suite 100, Vancouver, WA 98662

Follow the Schmap to the Blood Center
Follow Google map to the Blood Center

Make your appointment online:

Want to, but can’t on the 31st?
Call 360-567-4800 for an alternate date.

EACH DAY our community needs 900 people to donate blood.

1. Eligibility:

2. First Time Donors:

3. Donation FAQs:

If you would like to see the lives that are touched by blood donation visit the Puget Sound Blood Center patient videos page.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Husband Hunting Part IV

Chye nudged me and whispered, “Stand.”

The sermon had ended, a song had concluded, the offering had come and gone, and a prayer uttered over the full, bounty of gifts.

I realized we were at that part of the service. The minister had announced us as guests, not that I’d recognized my name, but apparently it was our job to stand and present ourselves to the Korean Presbyterian congregation. Our covert position in the back  insured that the entire gathering had to twist themselves around to gawk at us. I popped up, gazed at their upturned faces, nodded acknowledgement, and plopped back down in the pew. A gasp of horror from the onlookers told me I had made a mistake. Chye flapped her hand at me, frantically motioning at me to stand back up.

I rose.

The organ burst into a full, bright chord and I jumped. I patted my hair back into place, and hung on to the pew back as the gathering opened their mouths wide and sang, “Welcome, dear guest,” or something to that effect. I’m likely making it up at this point, if only due to the complete, unnerving experience. That and I don’t speak Korean, so honestly, they could have sang anything, for example, “No sweet girls, there are no husbands here.... at least none as old as you, unless you want to consider... Never mind.”

They sang a full verse. They sang a chorus.

They sang a second verse.

They repeated the dang chorus.

I pulled my face into a wide, sloppy grin. My knees began to creak and bend toward the pew, but straightened suddenly at the start of the third verse. I felt trapped behind the smile plastered on my face and my lips began to dry on my teeth. At the final stanza, their arms rose in unison, palms open, then pointed our direction as the final chorus catapulted out.

My knees were a little weak but I lowered myself and settled softly into the upholstered pew. I pulled my head down and prayed for the announcements to end so we could scoot out of there. The minister joined me in prayer, except his wasn’t silent.

“Ah-min,” the congregation heaved loudly.

His robe flapped in a self-created breeze as he strode past. 

Chye and I rushed for the aisle, taking huge mother-may-I steps toward the exit.

She made it before me, but the minister’s stance guarding the door slowed us down. Chye did as she'd been taught: she bowed low. I automatically reached out to catch her thinking she would fall over, but she had it under control. The minister caste his gaze on me. Just behind him stood the open door. Freedom. I bobbed my head his direction and turned to bolt, but my inept head jerk gave the Korean women time to set their trap. The babbling began. Their voices rose along with the volume and I yelled at Chye as they closed in on us, “What? What?”

A couple of women  in front of us motioned us toward their dining hall. Another women positioned herself behind us, placed one hand on Chye’s back and one hand firmly on mine. She braced herself, dug her feet into the carpet and began to push.

She. Pushed. Us. Down. The. Hall. Literally.

When I saw what was on the table it was too good to miss. I ran the last few steps, a goofy grin gaping across my lips.
Krispy Kremes and Kimchi.

Klearly Korean.

Oh, by the way, we went back the next week.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Husband Hunting Part III

Adventure embraces every moment of our lives. We have no idea what is coming next. I had no idea Chye (a co-worker and Korean woman) would ask me about the Korean Presbyterian Church I had attended some months back. Crashing their service was a personal dare to further my book research.

It had not been a comfortable experience.

I am not Korean.

Chye had embarked on a personal quest, to secure a Korean husband, and had completed preliminary research--general fact finding about Korean places of worship in the larger metro area, plus she had joined and joined a Korean dating site.

At mid-thirty the time was now. Marriage and baby were her goals.

As an an artist/designer, Chye recognized and was appalled by the Korean dating sight and the lengths single women went to in order to photoshop a model-perfect profile photo. Chye would rather you know her as she is. I peered over and wondered what it would take to convince her to remove her beret, comb out her long, dark hair, and dab on light makeup--if only lipstick.

Oh, and a little weight wouldn't hurt, either. By government standards she was probably five lbs. underweight, but that underweight was valued by Korean men. In fact, it might impress her latest long-distance interest, an architect in Korea who engaged in intriguing, online conversations. He sounded like a stunning prospect, so I had demanded, "Why is he not married now?"

"I wonder same thing," she noted.

Korean men are not easy to please. Last year on her annual visit home, a high-school classmate had convinced Chye to meet up with him. He was a doctor, who as a teen, had been smitten with her and waddled behind her like an imprinted duckling. Apparently, Chye had become too Americanized. Their first in-person conversation in years ended abruptly when he cancelled their dinner date and explained, "You're too fat."

There's something about that bone thin Asian women that is hard to shake from some men's fantasies. "Keep eating at Burgerville-USA," I advised. "It saved your ass."

The music played, someone uttered a prayer, and programs shuffled as eyes reviewed what was next in the service. We sat in the back row. I felt slightly self-consious, if not borderline unacceptable (church behaviour-wise), as I pulled out my Droid and snapped a few pictures.

I had no clue if tweeting from church was practiced by Presbyterians, but what could it hurt, I wondered and scribed a couple of 140's.

The music drifted away. The minister began to speak. Instinctively, we both felt the spirit at the same time. We spontanesouly reached out for deeper communication. We were, after all in God's house. Things should be said, things should be shared.

I wrote the first note. "There were more people when I was here before." She glanced at my notepad and shrugged as the minister's voice rose in dramatic fashion. "I LOVE the sound of the language. Beautiful," I wrote and added a smiley face to underscore my appreciation.

Chye slipped the small, spiral notepad from my hands and plucked the pen from my fingers. "He has nice voice!" Her head tilted away as if listening, then wrote, "They are too serious make me very uncomfortable."

I nodded.

"Do you go to church?" Her script on the notepad asked.

I answered, "I used to—this past year, no." Then I drew a little arrow in case she didn't know to turn the page. "And I'm Presbyterian!" I wrote, as if that should allow me entrance to the Korean church mysteries.

"Ah, I don't have religion," she answered in her crisp printing. This makes very strange." She listened and translated the current theme of the sermon then crossed it out, but it was still readible: "Talking about donating and offering money to god." Then she repeated, "I'm very uncomfortable."

She passed the pad and pen my way. "I felt the same way the first time I came here," I wrote, although my reasons had more to do with feeling like I didn't belong than about what I did or did not believe. "Better this time," I finished.

"Hahaha. I'll feel same way if I go to American church." Her next sentenced betrayed that she had spent too many years away from home. "There are too many Korean here." Then she got right down to it. "I don't see any available men. I feel real guilty here. I'll stick with"

Guilt belongs a lot of places, but not in church.

Okay, guilt is created in church, but I encouraged, "Don't feel guilty—it's an adventure. Not all are successful, but the stories we will tell!" I finished with a larger smiley face.

Chye nudged me and pointed to the notation in both Korean and English in the church bulletin that said, "Welcome."

This is going to be good, I thought, and imagined them asking us to share a little about ourselves as way of introduction. Yes, I'm here with my friend Chye. We are looking for a husband for her. Who is single?

That's when my prayers began in earnest. Yes, Lord, please let us find Chye a husband and get this over. Please, please, please.

To be continued...


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Manhunt Part II

I wonder sometimes why I do some of the crazy things I do. I think it’s because I don’t want to miss out, I don’t like there to be places where I don’t belong, and I like to know what’s behind closed doors. I will be the one who—after everyone has gone home—pokes her head in the men’s bathroom. Just to see what it looks like.

Uh, yeah.

The people who know me would not be surprised by that disclosure. They might, however, be surprised that some of my antics require me to get my nerve up. But Sunday, entering the Korean Church felt quite comfortable now that I was in the company of a Korean, my co-worker Chye.

The time I came without her, the Korean greeters had taken one look at my auburn hair and round eyes and waved the Korean bulletins in their hands as if to ward off smoke from a campfire gone awry, shouting “This is not the right church.” Of course, they said it in Korean, but it was quite clear they believed I had made a wrong turn and ended up in their midst by mistake.

I smiled.

They gaped.

I neared.

They took a step back.

I took another step, reached out, and my smile tensed as I tugged a bulletin out of the tight grip of one of them. I gave it a cursory glance, nodded and entered the sanctuary. I sat as close to the back as I could, certain I was a distraction, but hoped I wouldn’t ruin the service for the people who worshipped there regularly.

This morning they had the same set-up. Two Korean guards women greeted the oncoming with smiles and bowing heads, handing out church bulletins. Their eyes glowed when they saw Chye and the Korean words rushed and swirled as the introduction conversation ensued. With grand hand gestures, one of them handed Chye a blank piece of paper and a pen. Chye wrote something down, turned to me and told me to write my name down.

“Why?” I asked suspiciously.

“They want to introduce you. They say your name and you stand.” She pointed at a spot in the bulletin, ‘Welcome’ it said in bold letters followed by circles and hash marks I recognized as Korean.

“No. No, way,” I answered, taking a step back.

“Just do it,” she said, then the smile tightened on her lips as if to say don’t embarrass me.

I glanced at the women. They smiled encouragingly and waved the bulletins as if to fan the fire of invitation. I grasped the pen, narrowed my eyes on Chye and scratched my name on the paper under hers. Just you wait, I thought, if they make us speak I’ll announce we’re on a man hunt.

We stepped into the carpeted sanctuary and eased into the back row as soft music lilted from the small orchestra at the front of the church: violin, viola, cello and keyboards. We stared at our bulletins. One of us could read it.

A congregational hymn began, a few hands clapped in rhythm. My head jerked up.


I understood Korean. At least one word...


More to come...


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Husband shopping

I went to church on Sunday and understood exactly two words. It's not because I don't get God. I do. I totally get God. It's simple. He's in charge. I am not.

No, I only understood two words because the service was conducted in a language I do not speak. Korean to be precise. Yes. On Sunday I visited the Vancouver Korean Presbyterian Church (밴쿠버 한인 장로 교회(미국장로회 PCA). It was my second time. The first was a personal dare. Book research. And was likely one of the most uncomfortable church experiences I've ever had. Mostly because the tables were turned. Suddenly, I was the sole auburn-haired maiden in a sea of dark, bowing heads.

I was the minority.

Afterwards, I discussed the experience with my friends telling them that I felt every white American should do exactly as I had done, attend an Asian church service and discover what it must feel like to someone who is not culturally in sync, to enter our white bread places of worship, to sense how out of place one feels, how difficult it is to understand or communicate, how happy you are to flee.

One of the people I shared this with, Chye, was not necessarily a close friend, but a supportive co-worker, a Korean woman who happily answered questions that arose as I created a Korean family in my first manuscript. She thought I was odd to go to church, she doesn't have faith, and even odder to thrust myself into a cultural morass, but she evidently stored the 'spiritual visit' away, allowed it to percolate then surface when her stage of life changed.

She nabbed me in the hall, referenced the Korean church, and noted she needed to find out where they were located. Why do you seek out church if you are ambivalent at best about heavenly matters? My curiosity piqued and after a few questions I learned, she wasn't shopping for a good God experience. She was shopping for a good husband.

Where does a nice, divorced Korean girl meet a nice, single Korean man? With approximately less than 0.6% of the local population Korean, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Unless you go to church.

While my Korean church experience had been excruciating I was still drawn to to the little building on 18th Street and possessed some longing to go again, but could not muster the courage. Accompanying Chye would be my ticket back in so I volunteered to go with her. "Really?!" she said astounded. I nodded.

Worry clouded her dark eyes as they swung back and forth between mine. She was particularly stressed about connecting with the local Korean community. She feared they might latch onto her and not let go. Set some sort of Korean-cultural trap from which one doesn't escape, pursue her, push her into a relationship with someone she didn't like. Ridiculous I thought and countered, "I'll be the matchmaker. They'll have to be approved by me, and if they bother you, I'll handle it."

I thought I was invincible. I had not met The Koreans.

To be continued...


Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Weight Loss Tools

Related Posts with Thumbnails