Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Unfinished Chapters: It's Never Over Till It's Over

If Life came with a “rewind” button, we could insert ourselves into missed opportunities, give voice to unspoken words, make amends for hurtful deeds, keep friendships from falling by the wayside, and even linger to smell the roses. Twenty exceptional writers share their true stories of love, loss, missteps, chance encounters, do-overs, and the musing of “woulda/coulda/shoulda” moments that make us so uniquely human.
My contributor's copy of Unfinished Chapters arrived this week, just in time for me to make good on my promise to myself to spend some time at the ocean. My story in this collection, "Secret Love," is set at what used to be known, back in the forties and fifties, as Tin Can Beach.
Tin Can Beach in earlier days
It's now spruced up as Bolsa Chica State Beach, pristine with fire pits, evenly spaced lifeguard stations, and meticulous restrooms. I revisited the site last month, an evening bonfire singalong respite from the long vigil of sitting in ICU at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange where my daughter-in-law had been surviving on total life support.

Then, when Mari Lou Laso Elders died on September 28, just two months after her 53rd birthday, one of my closest friends, Chris, suggested we needed to go stare at the ocean. It's always been soothing for my spirit to watch the waves roll in. Chris, a musician, had been reading yet another biography of John Lennon, so we discussed Lennon's sibling rivalry with his Liverpool pal, Paul McCartney...and debated if the two, who fell out when the Beatles dissolved, ever would have reunited. He and I agreed it was likely that they would...they, of course, had unfinished chapters to write.

I'd been reading my copy of my Unfinished Chapters yesterday morning. The title reminds me of  F. Scott Fitzgerald's concluding lines in The Great Gatsby, the words engraved on his tombstone that I once saw in the St. Mary's churchyard in Rockville, MD.
Yesterday afternoon while Chris and I stared at the Pacific at Alamitos Bay in  Long Beach, we breathed in the brisk ocean air, fretted over a seagull that seemed unduly tired, and watched a bevy of hydrobike riders pedal out toward the far shore. I thought more about lives cut short...John Lennon at 40, Fitzgerald at 44, Mari Lou barely 53. And I wondered about their unfinished chapters...what turns their lives would have taken had they lived.

I had been delighted to have "Secret Love" chosen for inclusion in this particular anthology. Earlier this year, editor Christina Hamlett, had staged an international essay competition to discover, as she writes on the back of the book, the best "true stories about love, loss, missteps, chance encounters, do-overs, and the musing of woulda/coulda/shoulda moments that make us so uniquely human." Released now in paperback, the collection features the work of twenty writers. Copies can be purchased directly from the publisher or via Amazon, Amazon UK, and Amazon Europe. A Kindle version will be released later this year.

So far I've read half a dozen of the stories, and am eager to's difficult to put this book down. Each writer has presented a scenario that raises the eternal questions about the road not taken...the moment not seized...the twists of fate that intervene as we struggle against the tide with our flimsy oars. 
Sunset at Bolsa Chica State Beach
 Here are the writers who share their personal stories in this engrossing and thought-provoking compilation:
Christina Hamlett (Author), Debbie McClure (Contributor), Chaynna Campbell (Contributor), Johanna Baker-Dowdell (Contributor), Tina Jensen (Contributor), Maeve Corbett (Contributor), Rachael Protzman Hardman (Contributor), Lisa Romeo (Contributor), Marnie Macauley (Contributor), Rachel McGrath (Contributor), Anita G. Gorman (Contributor), Cindy Matthews (Contributor), Kelsey Poe (Contributor), Danise Malqui (Contributor), Catherine S. Blair (Contributor), Josephine Harwood (Contributor), Tracy Falenwolfe (Contributor), Terri Elders (Contributor), Charlotte Nystrom (Contributor), Clifford Protzman (Contributor), Robert B. Robeson (Contributor)

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