Odd Man Out

6:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 14 Comments

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Can you believe it's October?

I can't. Pretty soon I'll have to put away my flip flops, and that makes me sad. Even the upside of winterizing, AKA ending daily leg shaves and toe nail polishes, the legs and feet  doesn't console me.

It was just July, right? Now suddenly, it's October?

Wow.

Speaking of sneaking up, my son got a letter from his college. His tendency to take extra hours each semester made him eligible for early graduation.

He was shocked. He hasn't even applied to a single law school. What would he do if he quit his undergrad early?

I was shocked, too. I'm seriously NOT ready to be the mom of a college grad. I mean, when you're kids are in school, it evokes images of school buses and lunch bags. Sure your student has a full beard and an ID to buy alcohol...you can still pretend they're still that same little fella who asked you to search two malls for that one certain Power Ranger shirt.

So, I told him to stay in school another semester. Everyone needs a triple minor, right?


Thanks to our hosts in this weekly check in: LexaL.G, and Tonja Drecker
1. I am back in edit mode. I got started today and completely forgot to quit until my husband got home from work. Sure, he caught me looking like something you'd see at Walmart in the wee hours, but I was getting something done.
2. My son takes his LSAT to get into law school on Saturday. It's his second attempt. His first score was a 163 (which is a great score), but the guy who had graduation sneak up on him needs a 170.
3. The IWSG Anthology challenge is coming! Are you signed up?



Welcome Jessie Andersen! Jessie is a long-time writer friend going way back to pre-blog/publication days. Wow. We're getting old. 

Jessie's new book is out now and is FREE this Friday and Saturday! 
Even if you have no time to read it now, grab the download and read it later. 

Now, here's Jessie!!


THE ODD MAN OUT

Andersen_headshotOne of the things I love about the Hidden City in my book, THE BREEDING TREE is that they accept and love everyone despite their differences. Kate mentions how there are people who are different, physically and mentally, from what she’s used to. Differences are good. They challenge us and help us to appreciate the vastness that is humanity. I learned this lesson from living in a small town of about 500 people.

If you happen to be in my town and mention the name Phyllis, everyone knows who you're talking about. Most people probably couldn't even tell you her last name (Cline) because she was simply known as Phyllis.

Phyllis would sit on the bench outside the Superette, cigarette hanging from her mouth. Her frumpy clothes hadn't seen a wash in weeks and judging from the grease, neither had her hair. But this didn't stop the townspeople from loving her. This was how it was every day until the snow fell: Phyllis on the bench. When the weather turned, you could find her at a table in the back of the Superette, chatting or eating with the townsfolk who gathered there. Every day from morning until the sun set, you could find Phyllis at the Superette.

In the spring and summer, my husband and I would take daily walks with our kids hauled behind us in a wagon. Inevitably, Phyllis would be sitting on her bench. "What are your kids' names?" she'd ask. And we'd tell her. "They're so cute," she'd say. She'd attempt conversation with them, but being young and seeing this strange woman scared them into silence. Day after day it would be the same. "What are your kids' names?" … "They're so cute." Until finally, years later, she began to remember. Then she'd see me without them in tow and ask me how the kids were.

On occasion Phyllis would launch into a more interesting story, sometimes asking awkward or personal questions no one in their right might would ask a stranger on the street. She'd also talk about her past. The older she got the more outrageous the stories became, for her mind, which was never strong, failed with each passing year.  You see, according to her, she was related to Elvis...and Lucy.

I have memories of her from my childhood. She lived in the small apartment on the main street for as long as I can remember. We'd walk down the street on an evening when the air had cooled and hear her talking to people. People who weren't there. She'd even yell at them and occasionally swear at them.

 Then there was the time that she joined the wedding party, dancing in the local fire hall at a wedding reception...that she wasn't invited to. But that was her way. The party had moved into the truck bay to take advantage of the warm, humid night, and hearing the music, Phyllis and her husband, Henry, saw it as an opportunity to have a good time without paying a cent, for you see, they didn't have a cent. So off they went to join the party, to swing each other around, and to hoot and holler like only Phyllis and Henry could. Though I didn't witness it, my guess is they helped themselves to whatever was to eat. And the people let them.

My mother always said that Phyllis could only survive in a place like our small town where the people would take care of her. I learned later that those who spent time with her, listening to her stories for hours on end in the Superette were also the ones who helped her balance her checkbook and pay her bills after her husband died. The people here, even the young ones engaged her in conversation when she had no one else to talk to. This isn't a town that merely tolerated her presence, ignored her and hoped she'd go away. No. These people accepted her. Loved her. Cared for her when she couldn't do it herself.

Now that she's gone, I feel like an icon of our community is missing. That a piece of who we are has been taken away. And I grieve to think that my kids will have no memory of Phyllis. No opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and care for someone who was strange, dirty, and awkward. To love someone who had no one else. No one except the 500 or so members of a town who loved her.

What about you? Who has influenced your life in a way you never thought possible?

THE BREEDING TREE-- final cover
Get you FREE copy Friday and Saturday!
Is the opportunity to create the next generation of life a dream come true or a deadly nightmare? 

When seventeen year old Katherine Dennard is selected to become a "Creation Specialist" in Sector 4, the opportunity sounds like a dream come true. But Kate soon discovers the darker side of her profession - the disposal of fetal organs and destruction of human life. It makes sense, really. In a society where disease and malformations don t exist, human perfection demands that no genetic "mutants" be allowed to live. For Sector 4, "survival of the fittest" is not just a theory - it's The Institute's main mission. 

When Kate discovers that The Institute is using her DNA to create new life, her work gets personal. In order to save her unviable son, she'll have to trust Micah and his band of underground Natural Born Rebels. The problem is, if The Institute discovers her betrayal, the next body being disposed of could be hers.




14 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Jessie!
    Hope your son nails that test. Very cool he can graduate early.
    Thanks for plugging the IWSG Anthology Contest!

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  2. My sandals are all-year-round shoes here in FL. :)

    Wow on your son's early graduation! Good for him.

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  3. Way to go for your son. Hope he passes this time.

    Tried to get Jessie's book but they wanted to charge me $12 for it.

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  4. OK, when I followed your link, they wanted to charge me. When I went into Amazon.com and searched for the book, I found it offered for free. Thanks Jessie.

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  5. Congrats, Jessie.

    Hope your son gets that 170 or up this time around too.

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  6. The Power Ranger shirt got me! I did the same for 'Thomas the Tank' - many moons ago. You mean it's not July? i'm in trouble. Good to hear about the editing return and you're son's adventure. Best of luck to him.

    Love Jessie's book!

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  7. Time flies! Hope your son scores well on the LSAT. Three minors??? Wowza.

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  8. Almost a college grad would be a shock. . .but I'm sure he'll swing it. They usually do somehow. Can't believe it's October already. I feel so far behind. Glad your editing went well and may it happen again!

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  9. Your son sounds like an Alex! I want to know if the townsfolk put up a statue of Phyllis? Got the book!

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  10. You're right, your son should definitely savor his final year of school and not graduate early. Grad school and then real life will be on his plate all too quickly. Yay for getting things done with editing! I just finished my WIP and am starting the editing process too. We can cheer each other on. Have a great weekend!

    Phyllis sounds like quite a character. Wishing Jessie much success!

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  11. Congrats to Jessie. Good luck to your son. He can do it. I look a hot mess when I'm editing.

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  12. They grow up so fast, don't they? Sounds like he's a smart guy! And yes to the year flying by. I'm enjoying wearing jeans and sweatshirts again, though!

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  13. My sweet little boys are shaving now. It's so strange!

    Congratulations, Jessie. :)

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