Posts Tagged friendship

Celia: 8/19/53 to 3/9/91

Scan 1My friend Celia died young. She left two young daughters as well as a number of good friends. She had many varied interests in life. She was a wood carver/sculptor. I once said to her that she was lucky because with sculpting vs writing, she could leave her creations out and people would notice them. She laughed and said hardly anyone ever said anything about them.

Today is the 24th anniversary of her death, and in honor of her talent and lack of recognition I am posting two photos of wood she sculpted.

Scan 3Scan 2

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March 9, 2014

Celia near Pompelli’s at 18.

We’d been friends since 7th or 8th grade. She sat across the aisle from me in homeroom and we’d converse in sign language, the going communication method in those days. When we couldn’t sign fast enough, or the teacher wasn’t around, she’d talk in an almost monotone, swinging her foot, staring straight ahead, almost unaware of her words. She was the first of my circle of friends to have a steady boyfriend.  That boyfriend put a year or two rift in our friendship, since she wasn’t as available t o talk, but when she dumped him at the end of junior year, we called each other nightly.

For years we wrote letters, but she died prior to the dominance of the Internet and email. I often wonder what would have happened if she’d lived into the days of quick and easy email. Even during the last year of our snail mail correspondence the frequency dropped. Would we—I—have been able to pace an email exchange so that neither of us was exhausted or bored?

Celia in the Hickories at 28.

Although my brother had died prior to Celia, his death had been more or less expected whereas hers was unexpected, sudden, and mostly unexplained. The March day I found out was similar to this March day in Colorado. It was warm enough to have the front door open, and the park across the street was full of kids playing.  My husband had gone fishing. I’d hung up from talking to a friend who wanted me to go to the movies with her—I said no—when the phone rang again and Celia’s husband told me she had died. I said, “Okay,” and sat on the stairs and cried.

Later he sent me the letters I’d written to her over the years. She had unfolded them and kept them in a file. I had all hers but I’ve never attempted the task of matching mine to hers because she was notorious for leaving off the date.  One of my earliest blog posts (Sept 28, 2013) used a quote from her letter, which is still hanging on my bulletin board.

She’s hard to forget and someone I will always miss.

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Facebook, Friends, and Writing

For me, one sign of a good workshop or conference is making a new friend. Pre-Internet I meet a woman at the first conference I attended, the Southwest Writers’ Workshop. We reconnected at the yearly conference. Between times we exchanged manuscripts. By the time email became the main mode of communication, we’d lost touch. She divorced and I don’t have enough information to find her again.
In 2008 I participated in an online writing workshop. The teacher suggested we join Facebook. So I did.At first my only friends were the other members of the group, as well as a friend’s daughter who felt sorry for me when I told her every time I opened the site it announced, “You have no new friends.” Probably those of us in the workshop were too busy critiquing and discussing on the workshop site. Side conversations were via email. When the workshop ended, a few of us kept in loose touch through Facebook. I met two of the workshop members at AWP in Denver. One of them, M.E. Parker is the founder of a well-received photography and writing journal, Camera Obscura. Even five years later I sometimes exchange critiques with another member.
I met at least four of my Facebook friends at a conference/retreat held at a dude ranch outside of Tucson. I’ve met up with two of them at other conferences and occasionally interact with them on Facebook. At this Springs’s Pike’s Peak Writers Conference I met a woman who became the newest member of our writing group. During the recent RMFW Conference I added three writers to my list of friends.
My most recent foray to a retreat yielded twitter contacts, no new friends. This small retreat was held in a lovely mansion hotel on Long Island. Meals were included and were served off a menu; not your usual banquet chicken! About eight years ago I attended another small workshop and thought I had not come away with any new contacts but last month I did reconnect with another participant at RMFW. Possibly somewhere down the line I will be in contact with some of the other writers from the Writing and Yoga Retreat. This event is sure to grow and include more participants in years to come.

The Glen Cove Mansion, home of the Writing and Yoga Retreat

The Glen Cove Mansion, home of the Writing and Yoga Retreat

The lack of a compatriot at this last retreat might have been, in part, due to the small size of this retreat. This was the initial foray of the two leaders into putting on a retreat. The likelihood of making friends might depend on a critical number of participants. The Tucson workshop had been small, too. There were 12-16 of us. I garnered four friends from that group. This last retreat had a mere five women, plus the two leaders. Three of the women were close in age and bonded easily. One of the other participants was related to one of the leaders, and both leaders were already friends. This left me as the outlier with no natural partner and although I am following or being followed by four of the six others, I feel each is a tenuous connection at best.
Not long ago I ran across an article, Whether Facebook Makes You Lonely Depends on How You Use It. I posted this on my wall and asked my friends which way they felt. Those who commented said happier. My response would be mixed. Probably the largest proportion of my contacts consists of high school classmates, whom I “collected” for a recent reunion. The rest are workmates, neighbors, a few people from college, my “real life” friends, and sundry others. Some posted often in the past but have either gotten bored and moved on or now interact with a select group that doesn’t include me. Many never comment or post status updates. A large number post only lost cats, recipes, photos of dogs, and quotes of others. Some are lurkers. A few routinely send holiday and birthday greetings and then sink back into the sand of anonymity. Possibly I shouldn’t expect more; this may be who they are in their everyday lives. Maybe this lack of interaction is related to differences in personality type, but I find the lack of response and interaction frustrating. Often it makes me unhappy and I wonder why I bother checking in.
But when it comes to my writing connections, I find Facebook both useful and entertaining. Many friends post interesting articles related to writers, writing, and publishing. Recently one acquaintance reviewed a book she found in a used bookstore that sounds right up my alley. I plan to look for it. I’ve asked for book recommendations and help with problems related to the mechanics of writing, computer glitches, and story concerns. I belong to at least one page that lists calls for submissions. My writing group created a private group to conduct our business. We’re currently doing our October short story writing month and sharing prompts.
Because of its usefulness to me as a writer, I’ll remain a dutiful user of Facebook until something better comes along. Google+? If you know of something, let me know, but until then, I hope to continue to expand my circle of writer-friends.

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Words of Encouragement from the Beyond

Like many blog writers, I’ve started more than one. One of my writing group friends had a short-lived blog, which she recently wiped off the Internet. I’d posted one comment to something she asked, and she kindly sent it my way prior to eliminating that entry. I think she must have asked what was on our bulletin boards. My response was this:

I decided to see if I had a quote of any sort on my bulletin board. Usually I have some vocabulary words posted, but I didn’t even see them. The only writer-related thing on my board, which mostly had pictures from a calendar tacked to it and a check I needed to cash, was a letter my friend Celia wrote to me a few months before her death in 1991. It said in her large print, some words capitalized, others underlined with a inch of emphatic scribble:
Catherine, LISTEN UP: I don’t think you should ever quit writing. Even if you do it now and then as a hobby. Keep your hand in, for crying out loud. You write very well, and it would be a horrible waste if you quit. DON’T DO IT.

She might have been slightly biased, but who can give up when you have friends who believe in you?

What keeps you going in the face of rejection, finding out the response you’re waiting for is never going to come because the story you thought you’d sent never arrived, etc, etc?

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