Discovering the Past to Understand the Future

Sometimes discoveries from our past can help us understand our journey to the present and the road between. No matter how we envision our future, it never turns out like we imagined.

When retrieving my daughter’s birthday presents, I discovered a long ago forgotten and deteriorating cardboard box hidden in the dark corner of my art room closet. It was filled with Badger Herald Newspapers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I had illustrated the top stories for a few issues when I was an art student. I pulled out the first three.

Badger Herald

Nostalgia washed over me with a glimpse into my college days and memories associated with some of my drawings. At that time, I imagined illustrating for an advertising agency after graduation. I hadn’t dreamed of becoming a medical illustrator. Like the golden hue of the old newsprint, I remembered popcorn for dinner, skip-and-go-nakeds (beer, vodka and lemonade), and all-nighters spent in creating art projects and cramming for blue book exams. I found them too.

I thought about how much my life has changed in those thirty-five years. I worked as a professional illustrator, married, moved to Colorado, have two amazing kids and only recently found my passion in writing. Talk about wildest dreams.

It’s funny how ironic life can be. I gasped when this flash from my past peeked out from the box. I had totally forgotten that I had drawn it. Back then The Empire Strikes Back was the newest movie in the Star Wars franchise. Finding my old illustration coincided with the new release. The two movies echoed my life with changes of their own.

The Empire Strikes Back
My name has changed from ‘Sue McCartan’ to Susie Lindau.

When attending a premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it struck me how the thirty-five years had been melted down and recast to reflect changes in our society. Instead of the typical male lead, the movie began with a badass female protagonist, Rey, who meets her black sidekick named Finn. Their romcom chemistry sizzled on the screen similar to the attraction between Han Solo and Princess Leia.

Star wars geek

That’s a pretend light saber in my hands. A real one is too dangerous.

Compared to Leia’s confining robe, Rey’s leggings and layered garb proved to be a better choice for fighting and running. She could take care of herself and didn’t need to be rescued. Another role reversal duly noted.

Instead of Yoda, we meet Maz Kanata, another female to balance out the male cast. She is the leathery, wizened counterpart without the strange manner of speaking.

When my favorite characters, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, and finally Luke Skywalker, appeared on screen, it was like reuniting with old friends. I slipped into the comfort of their easy banter and one-liners like my college hoody. We had all grown older, hopefully wiser and wore more smile lines than frown. I didn’t want it to end.

When the credits rolled, my shoulders slumped. This spectacular feature film ended in the ultimate cliffhanger. Another new episode won’t premier until May 26th, 2017. Just like when my college days had ended and I packed up that cardboard box, I wondered what the future would bring. This I know. It will be different than I imagine.

Are there characters from a movie you would like to see again? Did you see The Force Awakens? Are you looking forward to your next class reunion?

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Elfish Holiday Survival Tips

If you are a little behind in your holiday shopping, decorating, and baking, don’t get down on yourself. You can always regift, dim the lights and order from the bakery.

This is the time of year when everyone believes in Santa and Christmas miracles. If you don’t, keep it to yourself.

Embrace your inner elf. You’ll burn extra calories from the overwhelming anticipation of Christmas, so you won’t gain any weight from the dozens of cookies you’ll consume. Continue reading

Is it safe to go back in the water?

When I read in the newspaper that Jaws would be shown at a local pool, I had to go. The last time I saw it in its entirety was in a Madison, Wisconsin theater in 1975. When a bloated dead guy floated out of a capsized boat’s window, I kicked the seat ahead of me so hard, I bruised my leg. I didn’t want to take a bath for a week.

The idea of allowing people to swim while watching a film that terrified me forty years ago was too much. This was an adventure I didn’t want to miss.

When we arrived, we staked out our turf across the pool from the big screen. The showing was free so I expected a mob. A surfing music band played poolside to get us in the mood.

photo 2 (5)

There were about as many people in the water as out of the water.

Continue reading

Tales from Denver Comic Con 2015

Courtney's doppelganger

I was a Comic Con virgin. It has always evoked images of nerdy Treky fans and comic book geeks. Neither tickled my happy parts. I haven’t kept up with Star Trek since the television series ended and the one and only comic book I bought back in the seventh grade was Archie. So when my daughter, Courtney, called and expressed interest in going to Denver Comic Con 2015, I hesitated. Continue reading

It Was A-Maizing!

corn mazeMy obsession with mazes began as a child. I remember trying to find my way through them on paper and having a difficult time. I’ve always been directionally challenged.

maze

When I discovered a great corn maze was located down the road from our house, my husband, Danny, and I had to go. Continue reading

Seven Ways to Thrill Me!

thrillers

How long has it been since you read a real page-turner? A while? Yeah. Me too. I think that’s why I love watching thrillers. They are the ultimate in creating and sustaining suspense. Talk about tight writing. They race ahead with twisted turns in a world where you’re hooked into finding out what happens to the characters or who survives.

My heart simultaneously leaps with the evil guy who comes into view behind his latest victim in the dreary, deserted park. “Turn around. Turn Around! TURN AROU… Oh, never mind. Too late.” I slump down in my seat, heart hammering in my chest like I ran a 100 yard dash.

I’m not a slasher or horror movie watcher although they can be thrillers too. I couldn’t get through Nick Cage’s Drive Angry, although I loved the creepy, alien-like quality of the accountant played by William Fitchner. It was too violent for me. Silence of the Lambs haunted my nightmares for years.

I love the white knuckle-busting, heart-tapping, “Oh my God, He’s in the house!” terror. Continue reading

Getting My Creepy On!

Desiccated leaves, dismembered from branches, rot in the dying light and crunch like brittle bones under my boots. The wind whispers ghostly verses of songs sung long ago. Halloween is approaching. It’s time to get your creepy on.

“How do I do that?” you may ask. Sometimes eating candy corn and slaying a few pumpkins isn’t enough. Summerlike weather may defy the season or you feel like you’re too old for the holiday.

Watch thriller movies.

Freaky movies like Single White Female starring Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Steven Weber will get you in the mood. I twitched for hours afterward while sending quick glances over my shoulder. I half expected my husband, Danny, to come home with my identical haircut and color. It’s one of those movies where you want to shout, “Get out of the house, NOW! NO! DON’T GO DOWN IN THE BASEMENT! NOOOO!”

BONUS – It’s a great cardio work out without breaking a sweat.

single white female

Decorate indoors. 

Before I became obsessed with writing, I collected antiques on the weekends. Found objects are perfect for creepy Halloween decor. Old framed photos, black containers, and silver candlesticks highlight the season. Don’t polish the silver! The tarnish adds to the effect. I know. You’re welcome.

creepy Halloween decor

Sticky spider webs are not for me. I don’t want to find them months later. Instead, I use cheesecloth, cut the edges and rip holes by shredding it with my fingers. Continue reading

I Fear it’s Time

foggy day 1

October is fright fest movie month. Even though vampires, witches, zombies and ghosts don’t exist (Wait. I believe in ghosts!), many of us will sit on the edge of our seats, spellbound with pulses racing. We will be held tight by the tension created in these movies.

220px-The_Birds_original_posterForeshadowing is a literary device used also in film, to hint at a future event. The creak of a floorboard, the rustle of the wind, or the banging of a shutter is often followed by a shadowy figure inside the house.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, Melanie Daniels (played by Tippy Hedron), enters a pet shop. The canaries go wild. It won’t be long before other cute little birds become predators with outstretched wings, talons, and pecking beaks. Continue reading

Do You Think It’s Wonderful?

Its_A_Wonderful_Life_Movie_Poster

When you think about how many films you have viewed during your lifetime, have you ever wondered why some remain timeless? They can be watched over and over again without losing their impact.

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favorites. Somehow this Christmas tale produced and directed by Frank Capra has kept its relevance every year since it was released in 1947. It still is #1 on the American Movie Institute’s list of most inspirational films. The movie is based on a short story written in 1939 by Philip Van Doren Stern called The Christmas Gift.

I am about to start on my last rewrite of my novel and examined this movie in a completely different way. Not as a movie-goer, but as a writer. I  discovered its magic and why it has left audiences spellbound for the last 66 years. Continue reading

Gift or Curse? Flash Fiction

Cutting across the yard on the way to school had been a habit for Oscar. But today when he gazed at the caution tape across the old McAllister place, he shivered while memories niggled like dead flies waking up on a warm windowsill in winter. Continue reading

Cara Mia, It’s Halloween!

I get into the Halloween spirit by watching glimpsing at horror and thriller movies on television. While multitasking, I peek through my fingers once in a while to see what mayhem has arisen.

I’ve seen zombies, one of the Scary Movie series onslaught and one scene from Friday the 13th complete with Freddy Kruger. When flipping through the channels the other night, I stumbled upon one of my very favorite Halloween comedies – Addams Family Values.

The lines were poetic, the quips unrelenting, and the cast replete with Angelica Huston, the late Raul Julia, Joan Cusack, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd had me laughing out loud. I have always loved these deathly, creepy, and wonderfully morbid characters. Continue reading

Oh Thrill Me Baby!

October arrived at midnight like a blanket of fog cloaking the twisted path. I woke to this first day with a rekindled primal need deep down inside my core. Lust and longing permeated my senses. I needed an adrenaline rush.

Flooded by memories and covered by goosebumps, I realized there was only one cure.

I had to make a list of my favorite spine-tingling thrillers of all time. Continue reading