Name: Kim Tracy Prince
Web Site: http://www.kimtracyprince.com/about-me/
Bio: I am a writer. Most of my material is on the web, but the best stuff is still in my journal under the bed.
Posts by ktprince:
Kid comes in the door after school today.
Kid: Hi, Mom.
Kid: Do you have someone over?
Kid: But you’re wearing flip-flops.
Kid: And you’re…dressed.
The bar is low, people. Very low.
I told my friend “In the game of How Many Summer Vacation Days Before Mom Loses Her Shit?, this year’s score is the number of days between the last day of school and today.”
-Back here after being home for over 3 weeks. Usually I break down right away. It takes several days for me to be able to talk to my East Coast family and friends again. Too sad, too homesick, too busy restoring my house. Laundry, putting away, acclimating to the time zone.
But this time I hit the ground running with back-to-school preparations, PTA president that I am. It’s the butt of a joke, a thing nobody wants to do, but I’m doing it. That’s a different story. My homesickness was delayed, anyway, while I barreled through my to-do list and all the meetings.
-PTA. Enough said. People are lovely…I just have so much to do. To be clear, this alone is not the taxing thing. It’s one of many in a perfect storm of Calgon-take-me-away.
-I got sick. I got a very bad cold that knocked me down for three days. It felt like there was a swimming pool inside my head. I called a client and asked for more time on a deadline. “I can’t string a coherent sentence together,” I told her. “I’d hate to do a less than stellar job for you.” I’ve never talked to this client before – our dealings have been completely through email before now. She was kind, at least, and appreciated my candor.
The cold lasted three days, and then the ancillary fatigue lasted another three. I thought I might have mono. I made an appointment with the doctor. But then, on the seventh day, the cloud began to lift. I canceled the appointment.
-My children, left to their own devices, were going stir crazy. Calmly asking them to do something did not work. Raising my voice did not work. Raising my voice A LOT AND LOSING MY MIND finally made them pay attention.
And then I felt terrible. In the aftermath, we all cried and apologized to each other. I had a medicinal gin and tonic and went to bed early. In the morning, perspective returned.
I do all of this for the children. I take them back to my hometown and risk the heartbreak of leaving each time. I freelance so I can be home with them. I PTA so their school can thrive.
The lesson here is that I’m only human – the physical body is vulnerable, I need regular breaks, I need to cut myself some slack, and I need it from my family too.
I hired a cleaning crew to restore order to my household. I caught up on emails and made a killer to-do list (really, literally, it would probably kill a lesser woman). I stretched my back. I watched a Jon Stewart mash-up.
I feel better. Now let’s hang out.
Did you ever have that one friend, boss, coworker, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. who was so amazing to you that you got involved in the thing he or she was most passionate about? That passion for a religion, a product, or a way of life emanated from that person so strongly, and you were so vulnerable, so lonely, so in need of something in common that would make you feel like you belonged.
Donna Carol Voss did, many times, and her willingness to succumb to the gravitational pull of others stemmed from an insecurity created in an emotionless family when she was a child. So goes her memoir, One of Everything. The titles alludes to the saying “I’ll have one of everything,” because Voss sampled many different lifestyles, identifying at different periods in her life as a pagan, a drug abuser, a bisexual, a married woman, a mother, and finally, a Mormon.
What promises to be an in-depth back story of a by-choice Mormon adult woman who adopted a family of at-risk siblings instead turns out to be a laundry list of questionable choices. I mean, we are all made up of those, (am I right, ladies?) but Voss rolls out one story after another about how she got caught up in tarot-reading, or lied to her senile father about hitting another car with her own in Mexico, or didn’t have the courage to break up with a girlfriend, or married a man she knew wasn’t right for her. And on and on.
Each story is something special: together they make a life, one that continues to affect a great many people. I respect that. As a collection of tales that is meant to tie in to a good read, well, to be honest, I found the main character frustrating. I know that must be hard in a memoir, to portray yourself fairly, and indeed Voss is brave about revealing her mistakes and selfishness in every instance. But she also manages to include the blame she feels should be put on others in her life. Her parents, her college dorm mates, her employers, and ultimately, of course, her mother.
The list of things I will have to forgive myself for someday is long, the fight with Coral the most humiliating, the lowest point I will ever reach. And yet the moment of laughter with my mother, the silver lining that embroiders its bittersweet edge around even this, makes it precious. I would do it all again for that moment of laughter.
The writing is competent even as the stories seem to be, one after another, a string of attempts by Voss to convince herself, more so even than us, that her life choices are okay.
She’s made it this far, and published a book about it, so she must have done something right. You’re going to be okay, Donna, I wanted to say to her as I read her book. All of us are, in the end.
One of Everything by Donna Carol Voss
$13.60 on Amazon
I’m currently reading All the Light We Cannot See, the now-famous book about two young people in Europe during World War II. Writer Anthony Boerr has already mastered the art of taking me there. I remarked to my mother over the top of the book: “That must have been a terrifying time to be alive.”
I knew the subject matter of the book and so I’ve avoided reading it and others like it until I just surrendered to the peer pressure of a fellow writer who cited the beautiful language. Every sentence is a masterpiece, she said. And yes, she was right.
All these books about World War II, and still there are so many stories to tell. The Book Thief. City of Thieves. Atonement. Tale after tale of human triumph and great, resounding evil.
Another one came to me in a PR pitch and I almost clicked away – war-torn, Lithuania, generations, etc. – when this descriptor caught my eye: “In 1973, Prudence was born with a pair of wings molded to her back.”
And so of course, I read it.
Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone is told from the perspective of present-day Prudence, a mid-30’s ornithologist, and 1980’s Prudence, a restless teen. Indeed, she was born with wings. Instead of full-blown magical realism, the story is explained – her parents authorize the wings’ amputation and consider them a birth defect. She doesn’t learn until her teens that women in her family, generations ago, had wings as well. Instead, she feels ghost-wings at her back throughout her entire life.
Woven through the novel is also the story of the The Old Man, Prudence’s paternal grandfather, the World War II survivor. In present day, he is dying. In the novel, we learn about his life and how it intersects with Prudence’s, finally, and how he helps her reclaim her heritage.
The language here is beautiful too, evoking salty marshes and the feeling of the ocean in the air, Prudence’s maternal instincts applied to tiny baby birds instead of humans, their kindred spirits wanting to fly instead of remaining here, wherever here is. Even the title is dreamy, borrowed lyrics from a John Lennon song. Within its pages, another idea that also interested the songwriter:
Climb on and off the Ferris wheel. Pay the carny to leave me up top staring at the horizon. Let the sun set…We’re going round and round, and on our way down, the stomach drops, and on our way up, the heart leaps. This is the best place to be.
I gobbled this book up. I took it on a press trip with me, when I had several pockets of alone time and a set of flights. I like to parcel out my reading to make it last through my travels, but I finished Above Us Only Sky, the hardcover version, at the gate in San Jose, even though I knew I would have to travel with it (Real books! So big! So heavy!) in my backpack. That was okay, though. It nestled inside like a friend, up against my computer, reminding me that I had read this story and met these characters, and that someday soon I would get to tell you about it.
Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone
$13.10 on Amazon