Oh Captain My Captain… There But For the Grace.


*As you start this post, know that there are some great links here. I spent a lot of time digging them up– there are so many, it’s hard to choose!  Play them.

It’s been a full week since I heard the news that Robin Williams was dead. I was driving to Seattle for a concert with a good friend and our two sons, and my friend’s older son texted us the news. When he added that it was suicide, we all gasped. That’s not some literary description; we truly gasped. All four of us, 17-50’something year-olds, were utterly shocked. Honestly, I felt such a jolt that momentarily it felt wrong to continue on our way to a happy event. It was like the world tipped sideways a little and everything felt off balance.

Throughout the evening as we listened to the Arctic Monkey’s perform (an amazing concert) the news washed over me. Oh my God, Robin Williams killed himself?  When I went to the bathroom, it was obvious that others were were stunned too– people looked dazed. As I stood washing my hands, I realized that all of these much younger, much hipper women were talking about Robin Williams. “What?! Are you serious?” “I can’t believe it!” “Oh my God– Robin Williams!” “That’s so sad!” “I can’t believe he’s gone.” Robin Williams crossed so many generations, in his appeal. Those who hadn’t heard were shocked and incredulous, and those who’d heard earlier, were stunned and reeling, like me.  Sadness prevailed, as we stood washing our hands– strangers sharing knowing glances and sad acknowledgements. We were all at a sold out concert, and this is what people were talking about. When we got home that night, my 17 year-old son and I were in our kitchen. It’s hard to know that he was that sad and hopeless, I said to him. “Mom, it’s really sad to know that he was busy making so many people happy–making so many people laugh– and he was that hopeless.” Out of the mouth of babes.

The next morning, when I woke up, the news rushed right back in and jolted me all over– like hard news does, as it settles on your brain. It’s been hanging on me all week– spider webs in my head, sticky and dark. Given the number of things written this week, the Facebook posts, and the news items, I’m clearly not alone.  It’s been a week since we heard; it’s all been said, and yet my mind is still swirling, trying to make sense of this tragedy.



I’m 51 years old and I’ve followed Robin Williams since I was 15 years old; it feels like he’s been around my entire life. For some of you, he has.  When he debuted on Mork and Mindy in 1978, he blew. Us. Away. My brother and I took turns bending our hands and saying “Nanu, nanu” in a funny voice; my friends and I all bought and wore suspenders, rolled our pants up and wore colorful socks. Mork was everywhere; Robin Williams was everywhere! His comedy was crazy brilliant; his talent was enormous!

Robin Williams shifted gears faster than most of us could think. His imitations and routines were high octane; his physical comedy was so electric, you couldn’t take your eyes off of him. Three minutes of stand up, and he’d do so many characters, my head would spin. But he always made me laugh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi3Eg3c_82M

Google images

Google images

Over the years his talent expanded, and amazed me even more. His serious roles in movies touched me as much as his huge humor made me laugh. The Dead Poet’s Society has always been a favorite movie of mine. When I heard he’d died, “Oh Captain, my captain” is the first thing that popped into my head. In his tribute, Jimmy Fallon used that same line, and brought me to tears.

The fact that Robin Williams was a bit broken inside came through in many of his performances. I always felt that it was that vulnerable place in him that made so many of those serious roles that much more compelling. His sadness felt real. Behind all of the crazy, zany facial expressions, his eyes looked sad, as often as they twinkled. He seemed to understand pain and struggle, and when he played certain  characters, that shined through. It’s what made his Mrs. Doubtfire so relatable and touching. It’s why his Peter Pan– in one of our three favorite family movies, Hook, held you. You felt for that broken Peter, and cheered that much louder when he found his Bangarang again. His Genie in the animated movie Aladdin was a character that my kids knew was something more than funny and crazy– and they loved him for it. Robin Williams brought heart to everything he did, and that’s what touched so many of us.

The many faces of Robin Williams:

I was and remain a huge fan, and like so many others I’m grieving.

Other celebrities have died: drug overdoses, cancer, accidents, old age– you can’t escape real life– And I feel a loss of their presence and contribution to film and entertainment, but there is something much more troubling about Robin Williams’ death: the idea that he was that sad, that broken, even as he made so many people laugh and feel happy, is troubling beyond words. It’s hard to justify those two facts and not be left feeling incredulous, helpless, sad, a little lost. If he had died any other way, it would still be shocking. It’s hard to believe that anything could put out that wattage, but the idea that he sat there alone and chose to end his own life, is what shakes me the hardest.

I’ve always told my own children that “suicide is never the answer,” that the hopelessness you feel in that moment, always passes, but that the loss you would leave in your wake, would never leave those you leave behind. “Dad and I would never recover from something like that,” I told them, hoping that as they weathered the potentially rocky years of youth, that point would stick. Yet four years ago this December, when I felt so hopeless and dark that suicide seemed the answer, all of my own words deserted me. In those hours, I could only hear my own self-recriminations, my own loss– a mountain of pain and hopelessness seemed insurmountable; the voice in my head were ruthless and harsh.



I came as close to where Robin Williams went, as I ever want to be again. I reached out in desperation and luckily a friend answered that night. We were both left shaken; it took me weeks to recover any vestige of solid ground. I felt numb and cut off, shaken by what I’d done, but still unable to really feel hopeful.

Ever since, I’ve been in my own 12-step recovery. I watch for the signs that I’m “flooded,” and I reach out to the very small group of people who I can be truly vulnerable with. That circle has changed in four years, as I learn who to take care of myself. I seek refuge when I need it– I will probably always be someone who needs to drive off in my car. I continue to work on my own insecurities and demons– All. The. Time. It hasn’t been easy. I feel very lucky that my husband and kids understood and have supported me. I feel grateful that most of the (very few) friends and family who I told then, stood by me. Others couldn’t accept that I was suffering, and needed a life line. That I would bounce back eventually, and not remain so lost.

In the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide, I’ve heard so many people say: If only someone had known, if only he’d reached out for help. My guess is that maybe he did reach out at some point, but I’ve also learned that people sometimes react from their own place of fear, insecurity, or inability to understand, when they hear that someone is feeling that hopeless. Just weeks after my own fumbled attempt, I was talking to a friend who didn’t know what I’d been through, and the topic came up (after a suicide where he lives). My friend said: “I have no compassion for someone who chooses that route– They leave such a mess behind. It’s so selfish.” He’s not a callous person at all; he was being honest. I got it; it’s not that far off from what I’d always told my kids. I also knew that while his words might be a bit harsher than some others might be, he was not alone in that thought. But it shut the door on my ever being able to talk to him about my own struggle.  I instinctively knew not to share it lightly, or with just anyone. For a long while, I felt alone in my struggle, knowing that only a small group of people were there, and I wasn’t always sure if I could call and bother them. That’s how your brain works when it’s depressed.  The voices you hear, are not the supportive, healing, confident ones… they’re the ones that would push you off the ledge.



It’s taken nearly four years for me to be able to talk about this without feeling like people will run away, or judge. Some of them will; I’ve seen the awkward expressions, heard the conversation change quickly. I noticed who called to say are you ok, and who avoided bringing it up. I’ve accepted that and moved on. I may have lost some friends and connections, in the aftermath of my depression and suicidal hole, but I climbed out with the help of some friends who became that much dearer in that same aftermath. I let go of my need to cling, and do whatever I thought it would take, to make a relationship work. Over time I got a lot clearer about boundaries and what makes me feel safe and happy. I’ve spent so much of my life taking care of other people and feeling responsible for their feelings and lives, that it’s been truly freeing to let that go, and take care of myself. I keep working on me.

I think that what haunts me about Robin Williams death is that I really get it. I got so close to where he went, and I survived. I came to understand that all those words I’d fed my kids were true. It does get better; the potential for it to get better is always in your own hands. I truly get that you can feel so tired of trying, and so sad that the potential seems hopeless, but it’s not, unless you’re terminally ill, and truly suffering. My mother knew there was no hope of ever feeling better again. She was depressed; she was in pain, and she knew it would only get worse. Aside from my sister and I, and her grandchildren, she was alone. Her doctors knew the same thing, but at the time there was no Death With Dignity law in Washington state (there is now).  Still, her doctors advised that she would benefit from palliative care and would die faster, without intervention, honoring her wishes and her life. She did, and it was the right decision. It gave her time to say whatever she needed to say; to be free from pain, and to die with some dignity. However, aside from those horrible cases where the end is clear and there is truly no hope, suicide is never the answer.

Robin Williams’ death shakes me because I wish he could have truly understood that. I wish he could have had the good fortune I’ve had: to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel; that those who love you really do need you to make it to that light; that we grow and expand emotionally when we let others in, and let them see our vulnerabilities, our imperfections and “idiosyncrasies“and that it’s not all about making everyone else feel better. We don’t always have to be “on.” I wish that he could have rested peacefully and woken renewed, rather than leaving us all to question the missed steps and wishing him rest in peace. I wish he could have gotten it. It.

The many faces of Robin Williams, the actor:

I will never watch Hook; or Dead Poets Society; or Good Will Hunting; or Mrs. Doubtfire; or Aladdin; or Jumanji; or Jack; or Patch Adams; or Night At The Museum; or Awakenings; or Good Morning Vietnam; or countless other movies and videos, without feeling a little sad– without registering the lost opportunities and wasted potential. I think of his children and those who loved him, and hope they can find peace, in a loss that is so enormous.  The world is a little less funny, a little less brilliant for now. Someone else will come along and fill that hole; that is how the real world is dear people, but Oh Captain my Captain, you will be missed for a long time to come.


On a personal note: I’m fine. I’m working the program, and I feel like I’ve come a long way in four years. I really appreciate how many (TFTM hit 4,000 followers last week!) of you read these posts and reach out to me– but if you see me in town, or we run into each other, this is not something I want to talk about. I’ve said it several times: I write without filters– let’s face it, if you know me, I live without filters. As one very caring person pointed out recently– between vegetables and crackers– that makes me vulnerable. I can’t be any other way… good or bad. However, when I write I go to a special place, and when I go to get my laundry, I go somewhere else… the laundromat. I like to keep it that way. If you’d really like to pat me on the back, hit Like at the bottom of this post, and then leave a comment. You don’t have to use your name, but I’d love to hear what you have to say. Despite what I’ve said above,  thank you so much to the wonderful people, increasingly common, who have told me that my writing touched them, that it means something– that, means a whole lot to me, in return.



Final note: If you are considering suicide, please get help. It really does get better, and suicide is never the answer. It’s true, you will be out of pain, but you will leave a world of it in your wake. Call a friend, reach out to someone who loves you, or call the suicide prevention hot line; trust that it can get better and reach for a lifeline. Don’t believe the voices in your head– they are hurting and broken, and are not the right voices to trust. Trust me on this. Ask for help.


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What do I want? I’d love to see my Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 500 likes in 2014. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, it’s where I try to be brief. If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014 Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 Heart-Broken Words

friday-fictioneersAfter weeks of happy stories with happy endings, this week I don’t have that story in me. As if all the horrible news around the world weren’t enough, the death of Robin Williams on Monday really rocked me– as it did so many. Suicide. I don’t know if he left a note, but when I saw this photo, that’s where my head went.  Monday night, my 17 year-old son said: “It’s so sad that while he was making so many people laugh, he was that unhappy.” Out of the mouth of babes, right? My boy is young, and suicide is far from his reality. But, I get it. This resonates and shakes me to the core. Ultimately, I feel a deep sadness for the loss of someone who has made me laugh, touched me with his rivetingly performances in serious roles, and been present since I was in high school– but who was clearly so broken.  “Oh Captain, my Captain!” Rest in peace, sweet man. (The scene, in this link, is one of my favorite movie scenes ever, in one of Robin Williams’ finest roles. Especially poignant give the news this week). 

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge: Using a photo prompt, write a 100-word story, with a beginning, middle, and end. This week’s photo comes from Jan Wayne Fields. His wonderful wife Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is our hard working and fair minded leader. If you’re interested in participating, or would like to read other stories in the series, please visit her blog Addicted To Purple.

© Jan Wayne Fields

© Jan Wayne Fields

100 Heart-broken Words

In the quiet of my private night, there’s nothing left to laugh at.

Worthless, unable to pull my shit together– hopeless–

I’m so tired.

It’s not your fault– I love you more than anything else.

If it weren’t for my babies… and you, I would have given up

A long time ago.

It’s me; I’m broken–

Fucking spent. 

There’s nothing

left in me to give.

Please understand–

It’s me, not you.

I can’t hurt anymore; and I don’t want to

Pull you down with me.

Nothing left– I’m empty

And useless…

I just can’t do it anymore.

Forgive me.

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If you enjoyed this post, please hit Like and then leave a comment; I love to hear what readers have to say.  Check out Tales From the Motherland’s Facebook page (my goal is 500 likes this year; I have a ways to go!), and Twitter, where I struggle to keep it brief.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014 Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

Posted in Awareness, Blog, Blogging, Daily Observations, Death, Flash fiction, Friday Fictioneers, Life, News, Tales From the Motherland, Writing | 47 Comments

I May Be Lame, and Clueless, and Demanding… But You Still Came Out of My Vagina (and other ugly truths)



Here I am, circling the drain again– banging my head against the same old wall– built with bricks of crumbling self-esteem, and topped with barbed-wire of razor-sharp self-loathing and remorse.

On the heels of a stellar summer of travel and adventure, it just sucks a little more than usual. I came home from three+ weeks in Scandinavia and BlogHer14 feeling excited, confident and enthusiastic– only to find that the same issues that drive me to fight or flight response were all waiting right where I left them. You can run, baby, but you sure can’t hide! It’s incredible how a few rough patches with my kids, or my husband, or a glimpse of exclusion on Facebook, can erase all the sparkle and steam I gained– from wrangling glaciers, discovering Vikings, meeting really cool people who thought I was equally cool, and generally living in my own happy groove for a while. It took a hot, miserable minute… And some key bad words.

Let’s rewind here.

No sooner had my two eldest children arrived home for the summer, and the power plays began. A fight “to the pain” (if you haven’t seen The Princess Bride, you should) over where shoes should be put (In your locker or in the garage, not on the kitchen floor); when dishes should be cleaned (When you’re done eating. Period.); who should clean something up (Ideally, the person who made the mess, but whatever– not me. Figure it out.); and, get this one: whether I am allowed/entitled/justified to weigh in on matters that are taking place in my house, but which don’t directly involve me– For instance, whether I’m “allowed” to say who’s turn it is to do the dishes, take the car, etc.– according to said grown kids.

If you’re shaking your head and thinking that I’m a pushover, you don’t have grown children. And, my kids would have you know that I’m much more demanding than “any of their friend’s parents.” That makes a lot of you the pushovers, apparently. If you’re shaking your head and thinking that I don’t have the confidence I should have, to stand my ground and not be sucker punched by grown kids, who aren’t necessarily entitled to be living at home at this stage– well, you’re right; but, again, I’d counter with: you probably don’t have grown children, or you’re a boxer.

images-1 It just isn’t as easy or clear as I thought it would be, when I was raising my three young children. That was tiring: Mommy can I have…; mom can Alison/Max/Mike sleep over; I’m scared/hungry/not tired…; I don’t like that; Mom! Little Man/Principessa/Middle Man called me a jerk/baby/loser/pain; Can I get my ears pierced, a guinea pig, an Xbox36o– Alison/Max/Mike did! etc. I can’t deny it; parenting young children was wonderful, sweet, frustrating, demanding– but above all, it was exhausting. At the time, I resented the “older moms” (read: mothers of older kids) who told me how easy it was with little kids, and how much harder older kids were– that I should enjoy it; it would be over in no time. Now that I’ve been there, done that, I know that this just isn’t true. It is in fact over in no time– “no time” being a long blink, that only feels short, after you’ve refocused your vision. But like marriage, parenting is inherently hard work. If you grow up, decide to get married, and create a family, you need to know that it will be hard work– beginning to end. If it isn’t hard at least sometimes, then I wager you’re missing the boat, or raising a turtle. Turtles are pretty easy.

Raising good human beings shouldn’t be easy; it’s too important.

Do Arianna Huffington's children call her lame?

Do Arianna Huffington’s children call her lame?

That said– and again, having been there, done that, I admit that it would be a bit easier if my own self-esteem wasn’t so chronically weak, and if I wasn’t so willing to pitch my own needs aside when challenged by those I love most. I’ve heard a thousand times that: you’re their parent, not their friend; stand your ground– don’t negotiate with terrorists; be consistent and follow through– Countless excellent parenting gems have crossed my path, but making them work is another story. Self-esteem is my Achilles Heel, and the troupes figured that out a long time ago. They are smart human beings, as well as good ones. I may have come home from BlogHer14 with Arianna Huffington’s words ringing in my ears: “No, is a complete sentence,” but that message is lost in translation with my almost adult kids.

Things have changed enormously since I was walking their path, and I don’t really believe we’re headed in the right direction. When I finished high school, it was clearly understood that the door did not swing back open for anything more than a visit. My peers and I went off to college with the expectation that we would be working in the summers; that we’d get apartments and roommates (a critical first step in navigating the world), and we wouldn’t be moving back in with our parents. Returning home during college was not ideal, but certainly after graduation, it was the walk of shame– and I was determined to not go there. I lived in a few really awful apartments; I had some lousy roommates, as well as some wonderful ones; I ate macaroni and cheese for an entire summer, trying to save money. I worked really hard, but I earned my independence, and I grew up. I did not live with my mother.

Well... if only I'd read this!  ©blogtalkradio.com

Well… if only I’d read this!

I’m surrounded by other parents scrambling for cover, just like me, as we negotiate with semi-grown kids, who come home and think their parents are their roommates, and “grown-up” means having survived a year of keg parties. Hey, I left my dirty beer cups and snacks in the lounge at our dorm, what’s the problem with leaving stuff in the sink? What’s wrong with my shoes on the kitchen floor? I’m just going to wear them again, when I’m done doing “stuff.” And the infinitely ambiguous: I will. (When? For the love of all that’s holy, what does that mean?) It’s exhausting! If you’re kids are that minority, who come home and get good jobs, clean up all their stuff, and speak respectfully all the time, then clearly you are entitled to scoff at me. However, I imagine there are a few more parents nodding along right now. But I forget all about these other parents, when I’m fighting my own battles, and I just feel like an isolated failure.

For the record, I didn’t start out the summer feeling deflated. I started with a bold statement that I thought would make things clear:

I’m not your roommate; I’m your landlord!

But, my kids know that I will blink first. They love me, but they also see me through their unique, twenty-something prisms. By their reckoning, I am unreasonable (What does it matter if my shoes sit there a little longer?) and demanding (Please put them away now!). I am clueless and lame. I can’t keep up with their gigabytes; Gap years; texts; plugged in-tuned out attention spans, their technology, and their attitudes–> Clueless. Lame–>Me.  I wanted to raise free-thinking, independent kids, but I want them to do as I say in my house*. I wanted them to explore the world, but my heart fractures when they fall in love (with a person, place or thing) and leave*. I want them to check their expectations at the door, but I run around making their favorite meals and ultimately seeking their approval*. I wither when communication crashes and they say, or suggest with a well-honed look, that I am in fact unreasonable, demanding, clueless and lame, and apparently hypocritical*.

Worse, if we come to verbal blows, the fallout is crushing. As a mother, I may know that my child is actually anxious about big changes and new directions, and that his/her nasty mood and careless words are not directed at me, but stray shots leave me bleeding out. When I feel myself losing the ground I thought I’d won, I lash out with angry words (enter the “key bad words”) and injured statements; they in turn reload and take closer aim, causing wounds much deeper than they know. It’s not their job to know, or their responsibility. I’m the adult here. Right? But that self-esteem issue undermines all of my strength and confidence, and when things get really rough, I inevitably circle the drain.

I drive off in my car; I sit alone and stare at the water. I turn on myself, and withdraw from others. I pick at my own scabs and unearth all of the flaws in me, which I imagine must have led to this moment. I cry.

Oh, to hold onto this feeling!

Oh, to hold onto this feeling!

I don’t remember that others read my writing and respect it. I don’t remember that people I admire have asked me to take leadership roles in their organizations. I don’t remember that I climbed a glacier; I navigated airports, train stations, Viking ruins, foreign cities and countless strangers– I travelled thousands of miles and had endless successful adventures this summer. I forget that I came home from the BlogHer14 conference feeling inspired, capable and empowered. That all dissolves with one dismissive glance, an angry tirade, a strategically placed land mine:  “Mom you’re so unreasonable/lame/clueless.”

I stare at the water, until I rediscover my bearings. Inside, there is a kernel of strength, that helps me bounce back, that helps me staunch the bleeding. I’m not irrevocably damaged or flawed, and somewhere inside I cling to that, and keep working on myself.  “You come from strong stock;” my aunt’s words replay in my head, and help me heal. “Your writing really helped me;” a young, grieving reader’s comment pulls me back to solid ground. “Mom, not many other mothers would go on an adventure like this!” My own son’s matter-of-fact verbal hug shimmers from the corners of my self-destructive mind. I sense a shift, as I lick my wounds and turn away from the sea.

And I begin to reclaim my ground again, and work on myself… some more.

Times have changed. Kids are coming home, and they have some attitude. It’s a different generation, with new challenges and issues to deal with. In many ways it’s harder for them than it was for me and my friends, and in other ways, they have it easier. The economy is tough; a college education doesn’t guarantee a job, and kids return to nests in ways that my generation would not have considered, confident that their parents will welcome them home. It’s not easy, and I’m not alone. I’m not the best mother in the world, but I’m not the worst either. You know kiddos, I may be lame and sometimes clueless, about things you find simple. I may be lame, and clueless, unreasonable and demanding sometimes; I may be all of those things, but you still came out of my vagina– So check your attitudes at the door. My door.

Are you parenting older kids? Are you cruising along, or flailing in the water with me? What has worked, and what doesn’t? I’m not looking for reassurances that I’m a good parent, thanks though. I’ve said it before, this is where I work my shit out. Thanks for riding along.

•    •    •

If you enjoyed this post, please hit Like and then leave a comment; I love to hear what readers have to say.  Check out Tales From the Motherland’s Facebook page (my goal is 500 likes this year; I have a ways to go!), and Twitter, where I struggle to keep it brief.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014 Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

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Friday Fictioneers: Just Like Those Movies…

friday-fictioneersWelcome to Friday Fictioneers, a weekly 100-word flash fiction challenge with a photo prompt. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields leads our merry band of writers, asking that we do our best work, and make an effort to read and support our fellow Fictioneers. If you’d like to join in, or check out the other stories, visit Rochelle’s blog, Addicted to Purple. This week’s photo comes from Björn Rudberg. And a big thank you to Mr. Rudberg, for reminding me to link up… something I am notoriously bad at! Forgot again this week.

bjc3b6rn-6 Just Like In Those Movies  (102 words)

“When I were little, I dreamt of a differnt life– a handsome prince in a fancy car… Our family took the bus to the market and church; we couldn’t never afford a car. My prince would have a small, sexy one and he’d drive up to our tiny house and whisk me away to his castle on the hill.

And that’s just what Johnny done! His red Pinto was so hot– he didn’t have to ask twice! We’ve lived in our beautiful house on this hill for twenty years now. The road is steep… but life is sweet, just like I dreamt.”

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veryinspiring_bloggerawardNote: I’d like to thank Jill at Ripples of Truth for sending the      my way. I told Jill that I don’t really participate in these awards anymore. Too big for my britches? No; I just don’t have the time, and I’ve answered all of the questions that come along with the gig. That said, it’s always an honor and I’m always touched when another blogger recognizes my work, and sends some love. So I’m sending love back to Jill (a pseudonym) at Ripples. She’s a twenty-something year old blogger and “wallflower,” who writes about her life as she tries to make sense of it. She’s studied in the UK, traveled a lot, and she shares her experiences on her blog. Check it out! Thanks Jill!

If you enjoyed this post, please hit Like and then leave a comment; I love to hear what readers have to say.  Check out Tales From the Motherland’s Facebook page (my goal is 500 likes this year; I have a ways to go!), and Twitter, where I struggle to keep it brief.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014 Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

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Friday Fictioneers: The End

friday-fictioneersWhen I first saw the photo prompt last week, my immediate thought was of Hiroshima. I’m not sure why, but it nagged at me for days. However, I was really busy, and wanted to write something “happy,” to counter my dark mood. But even after I wrote my happy story, Hiroshima stuck with me.

I wrote this in minutes, and then Googled Hiroshima. There was the story of Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last remaining airman of the Hiroshima mission, who died this past Wednesday, at the age of 93. He died one week to the day, before the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945. I went back and added his name and his description* of that day. There are many who feel that the horrific events of August 6 and 9th (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), were singularly responsible for ending WWII. I hope y’all don’t mind my dual entry.

Please visit Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog, Addicted to Purple, to participate or read others stories in this series.

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The End (100 words)

“Do you think it’s the right thing to do Sir?”

“Son, I try not to think too much; bigger men than us make those decisions. This is our mission, and I’ll sleep fine tonight, knowing I did my job.”

“Yes, Sir. ” Crewman VanKirk remained quiet, double checking coordinates.

As their payload disappeared, the powerful plane shook, and for an instant he feared something had been sheered off.

“Oh my God. There’s nothing left.” He whispered to the universe.

“Let’s hope this ends the war, men!” The pilot called.

Below them, Hiroshima dissolved into a pot of black, boiling tar.*

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If you enjoyed this post, please hit Like and then leave a comment; I love to hear what readers have to say.  Check out Tales From the Motherland’s Facebook page (my goal is 400 likes this year), and Twitter, where I struggle to keep it brief.  Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.© 2014    If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.


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Friday Fictioneers: Just Jump!

friday-fictioneersTalk about late for the party! It’s been another crazy week of things that keep me from writing. As you can see from Rochelle’s photo, I had the wonderful fortune to meet up with Amy Reese, a fellow Ficitoneer, when I was at BlogHer14 last week.  Our meeting was delightful in every way!

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my work, and welcome any feedback that is thoughtful or constructive. I am so grateful to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for her wonderful dedication to Friday Fictioneers!  If you would like to write a 100-word story, visit Addicted to Purple for more details. Or, stop by to read all the wonderful stories that come with each photo prompt!


© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


 Just Jump! (98 words)

“You can do this! Just take a deep breath and jump!”

Jamie held on tightly to the door and shook her head no.

“You’ve practiced; you’ve planned; now you just have to jump!”

Mike, her jump buddy, tried to be reassuring, but over the sound of the plane engine, his yelling only rattled Jamie more.

This is not about heights, she thought. I love Brian and I’m ready to marry him tomorrow. This is not about heights! She looked down at the field far below and breathed deeply.
“I’m ready!” Thumbs up, she leapt into her new life.

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If you enjoyed this post, please hit Like and then leave a comment; I love to hear what readers have to say.  Check out Tales From the Motherland’s Facebook page (my goal is 400 likes this year), and Twitter, where I struggle to keep it brief. © 2014 Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks. If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.

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Pop Goes My Cherry… Losing My BlogHer Virginity

Welcome to BlogHer14

Welcome to BlogHer14

Note:  I wrote most of this post, on the plane home from BlogHer14, five days ago. I was feeling energized, excited and enthusiastic to share the experiences I had there. But re-entry was not easy. I got home to all kinds of transitions and issues, and my writing has suffered all week… along with my emotions. Today, I’m trying to recapture some of the sparkle I felt a week ago, by finally loading photos, summarizing and posting this.

Also, please note the links here. If you click them, you can check out all the incredible bloggers and experiences I enjoyed at the conference.

First, There Was a Dream… Or At Least A Desire To Get Away:

I’ve wanted to go to BlogHer for several years. But, honestly, I’m not sure why. I’d read a few things about it, and it sounded cool. Because I blog, people often asked me if I’d been, and I began to feel like I should. But, if truth be told, I was a true virgin– when it comes to BlogHer. I’d visited the website; I kind of knew what it was all about; I wanted to be part of this thing that so many people buzzed about.  Like many virgins, I was both anxious to go all the way, and really nervous. There was lots of hype, but what if it wasn’t all I’d heard it would be? What if I found myself let down– Or worse, what if I gave up my virginity and ended up alone, and disappointed?

Unlike my first boyfriend, who promised it would be great, but left me feeling… well, let’s leave that for my memoir, no offense to said “first boyfriend.”  In the interest of full disclosure, at my age I’m not an easy lover. I’ve come a long way from that girl who followed my first boyfriend– blinded by love, into the world of adult relationships. I have a good life, and I’ve come to expect that when I pay as much as BlogHer costs, I’ll have my socks rocked. I’m not that woman who finds the sparkly good in everything– I’m a bit more pragmatic, despite my ability to also be swept away.

Do You Know The Way To San Jose? (and that song/joke got a lot of play…)

While I may not think that the cost was entirely worth the hype, BlogHer14 delivered in ways I had not anticipated, when I packed my carry-on bag (pragmatic, right?) and headed to San Jose, nine days ago. I signed up for the whole kit and caboodle, figuring that I might as well dive into the deep end, rather than dip my feet in the shallows, so I signed up for Pathfinders. I arrived knowing no one, and decided right up front to put myself out there and see what came of it.

“I’m here by myself. I plan to go to the bar for a drink and then get dinner out tonight. Anyone want to join me?”

I posted that message on the Attending BlogHer14 Facebook wall, with it’s nearly 900 members. Chirp, chirp, chirp. I got a few likes, but no responses. Admittedly, I was a little deflated, but I’m not afraid to eat alone, so I figured I’d dress up a little and head out with my Kindle.

When The Fireworks Started:

Then, just as I was ready to leave, I saw two posts from other bloggers. The first, from Lisa, said: “Just got in from Seattle. I’m staying at the Fairmont, and I’m sitting in the bar with a glass of wine. I’ll be here until 5pm if you want to join me.” Wait! I’m from the Seattle area; I like wine, and I was staying at the Fairmont. It was 4:41pm.  I’m on my way down! Where are you sitting? I desperately responded. The second post announced: “We’re on our way from San Francisco, anyone want to have dinner?” From Julie and Chloe. Yes! I’d love to join you; what are your plans? I typed. (hoping I didn’t sound needy in addition to desperate). I sent the messages and left with my iPhone, just beginning to feel the needy and desperate actually slither in a little.

When I got to the bar, my messages informed me that “Lisa” had gone to her room, but would come back down to the bar. There was a new response from “Tonya,” saying that she’d be right over too. There was nothing on the dinner invite. I grabbed a seat in the spacious bar at the Fairmont and waited. And then, it all began to change and unfold… in magical and surprising ways. Lisa (Journey Cook)– a marathoner, mother, traveler and cook– and I found each other and instantly bonded over our shared geography, similarly aged kids, and countless other dots that connected effortlessly.  Ahh, I felt the anxiety begin to melt; I began to relax.

Then Tonya (Women Do Everything) arrived– A fireball from the minute she walked in; Tonya is a home maintenance expert who exudes chutzpah and verve. I liked her instantly, and we kept finding each other all weekend. Right away Tonya informed me that Julie and Chloe had responded to the dinner post, and that they’d be meeting us in the lobby shortly. As I got to know Lisa and Tonya, I suddenly had dinner plans with two other women, who I hadn’t previously met. Hello and welcome to BlogHer14!

Lisa was tired and excused herself from dinner, but Tonya and I found Julie (Fabulous Blogging) easily, and Chloe (INSERT BLOG) showed up shortly after. While we all took a little time to get a feel for each other, it was remarkably easy. It felt like I’d met them before, and we all fell into easy conversation, easy restaurant choices, and an evening that organically morphed into a spirited dialogue on aging, home-improvement, sex, marriage, blog development, and the empty nest… to name a few hot topics. Julie is a web and blog designer, whose smile is equal parts impish fun and the ninja her business card promises. Chloe (Chloe of The Mountain) is a labor and delivery nurse, wise women and hot mama, whose sharp wit kept me dizzy all weekend. All three of them had been to BlogHer before, and as we talked and laughed and connected, I found myself more and more enthusiastic and hopeful, that BlogHer14 would not let me down. I’m not sure I could have imagined a more dynamic start to my weekend!

After the initial (and infinitely disappointing) Pathfinder day, the full conference started on Friday, and some of the big magic kicked in. There are two bloggers who I have gotten to know on-line, and have come to like very much. We’ve talked about meeting some day, but that day kept slipping past us… until this conference. Emily (The Waiting), was a Voices of the Year winner, and she’s been a wonderful support in my blogging, and a friend behind the scenes. Amy (Amy Reese Writes) texted me and let me know that her son would be competing in a sports event in San Jose, and asked if I’d meet her.

Hello Universe, thanks for that dollop of icing, on my double-fudge weekend.

Together, at last!

Together, at last!

I was thrilled! Emily and I met earlier in the day and felt an instant bond, which comes from late night chats online, sharing our writing, and feeling like we’ve already filled in the blanks. She was so much quieter than I expected– a true southern woman, with a charming accent and introvert demeanor that I didn’t anticipate. It was a wonderful surprise, and reminded me that there was more to learn about her.

me, Kylie, Emily and Amy

and it gets better… with: me, Kylie, Emily and Amy

Amy showed up at the conference center late afternoon and we laughed and erupted in happy connection. Again, having shared our stories on-line, there was a comfort level that made our meeting seem so much easier and organic.  I have come to envision so many bloggers as extroverts, based on their posts and online presence, and one big take away this weekend, was that our written voice is not always our in-person voice. Amy is soft-spoken, listens fully, and thoughtfully. Her smile sparkles in person, even more than it does on-line, and it felt easy and happy to connect the two images. Emily joined us eventually and we all shared a glass of champagne, and the selfies that dominated the entire weekend… BlogHer14 having designated it a “Selfiebration.”

If I Were To Leave You With One Kernel… But I Never Stop When I Should:

There were so many amazing moments over the weekend. But, this first night sums up what was for me the best part of attending BlogHer14, the easy, dynamic, amazingly real connections I made with other women, who I had not known in person before, or in some cases known of, just days before. Time and again, other women bloggers introduced themselves, jumped into fun conversations, offered advice, or shared glimpse of their lives. They made themselves vulnerable, sharing their stories (at Voices of the Year) or listening to others; they patiently shared knowledge, without worrying about competition; they laughed out loud and danced with abandon. I felt part of something so much bigger than I’d anticipated, and I was so grateful to be there. There was an ease and sincerity that is sometimes lacking when women get together in other venues and I wanted to soak it up for as long as I could!  I’ve been a parent of 3 kids for 24 years now; I’ve spent most of my life around other women,  and the women at this conference were so inclusive and positive, it was amazing!

Famous People Were There:

Me and The Bloggess... clearly a bigger thrill for me, but she was delightfully fun.

Me and The Bloggess… clearly a bigger thrill for me, but she was delightfully fun.

The weekend was highlighted by Keynote speakers at each meal. Teneshia Jackson-Warner started things out on day one of Pathfinders and was a wonderful surprise. Honestly, I didn’t know who she was, but her kick ass history impressed me, while her down to earth availability was refreshing.  The biggie for me was The Bloggess, who wowed me with her humor, vulnerability and down to earth realness. Having read her work for so long, I expected a celebrity of sorts, but her warmth and sparkle are what really pulled me in. She was generous about signing books– posing for a photo with each of us, and taking a moment to chat. I’m a bigger fan than I was, and really enjoyed hearing her speak. Arianna Huffington was much funnier than I expected and full of one-liners,  in an entertaining  interview with hottie Guy Kawasaki. She preached the powers of sleep, something I admittedly could use more of, and I her “No is a complete sentence” was a true “Aha” moment for me. Now, to convince my family…  Ms Huffington’s book signing was much more “wrangled” and rushed. Kerry Washington from Scandal was lovely in person, but not as interesting from a blogging/writings perspective. She was charming and very grounded, but I wanted more from writers.


If This Was Losing My Virginity, There Was Also Some Masturbation Involved:

I took enough Selfies to be permanently labeled “Lame” by my kids… Now that I’m home, I’ll give them that point. It seemed like a good idea at the time, as I tried to win a new computer, popularity, a date with Guy Kawasaki, and other sundry things that first timers want. My Twitter account, which is usually quiet and boring, was exploding with evidence of my virginal journey. It never occurred to me that other innocents were out there trying to turn their feeds off.

The Summary That This Whole Post Could and Should Have Been… But I Talk To Much:

There were big hits and there were big misses over the weekend:   I was touched by The Mrs’ (watch this video!) magic mirror and “I’m enough” campaign; I was insulted and bullied by Khloe Kardashian’s security team (as I innocently stood in a public pathway, and got myself pushed).  I met countless amazing women who get where I’m coming from. I wasted money on a Pathfinder day with two authors– one of whom was narcissistic and the other who was boring, and seemed unhappy to be there (neither of whom offered anything unique or informative, or anything that wasn’t read from their slides, or worth the extra $150). The food was lacking at times and the water was all together missing– there really should have been a hash tag #where’sthewater? or #gotwater? because it was blistering hot and there was no water to be found! But there were free slushies at the Sonic booth and free shots of flavored liqueurs and bottomless popcorn, in the Expo hall. I got to meet two women who I’d known on line and now count as friends, and was introduced to a new blogging friend, Kylie Minoque (The Life of Kylie), who joined this epic meeting, and helped make my second night fantastic too. There were secret deliveries to my room– something that equally weirded me out, and thrilled me.  I took selfies at every sponsor booth, every event possible… but I didn’t win any prizes. There was hours of dancing to Rev Run at the closing party, and shared Happy Meals with Emily. After a nine year hiatus from McDonalds, this was as good a place as any to go there again, and the best company possible.  When I got back to my hotel, the closing party was topped off with a jello shot party in a room filled with badass amazing bloggers like Chloe, Julie, Gunmetal Geisha (who has a real name, but I was star-struck), and Aussa. If I hadn’t been so tired by then, I might have stayed… and gone blind.

Oh yes, McDonalds made me smile... or, that's what I would say... to win prizes!

Oh yes, McDonalds made me smile… or, that’s what I would say… to win prizes!

The Morning After…

And so I’m home. My BlogHer cherry is popped and no one here gives a rat’s ass that I felt like a princess for a few days. It doesn’t matter that a few people said “Oh my gosh! You’re Tales From the Motherland!” (Seriously, that moment would have been enough), or that I loved spending time with so many cool new friends, or that I got lots of free swag (admittedly, most of which was not worth the $25 baggage fee, when my no longer pragmatic self had to shamefully check my luggage!), or that I felt juiced to learn new tech terms and figure some things out. No one cared that I got to meet Michelle Weber, my personal Word Press goddess (and fellow semicolon fan)– whose coolness in person is only trumped (a teeny bit) by her über- cool gravitar (deserving of 2 dots over the u).  No one at home cares what a gravitar is. So, there is re-entry; there’s the morning after.  There is this d post-mortem. BlogHer14 may not have been perfect for everyone, but for me it was a dose of much needed encouragement and fun, for the part of me that I most want to encourage. It was a boost for my creativity and passion, for my dreams and goals, and for four sparkly days, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about what anyone here thinks… either.

Other Posts I’ve written or enjoyed About BlogHer:

Putting My Best Foot Forward (Tales From the Motherland); Come Fly With Me (The Waiting); BlogHer14 Recap: Is This The End of BlogHer? (Chloe of the Mountain); Meeting Bloggers in Real Life (Amy Reese Writes); BlogHer: The Good, The Bad, and The Awkward (Aussa Lorens).  There are so many, but honestly, my week has been crappy really full, and I haven’t had time to write, read, or poop.

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If you enjoyed this post, please hit Like and then leave a comment; I love to hear what readers have to say.  Check out Tales From the Motherland’s Facebook page (my goal is 400 likes this year), and Twitter, where I struggle to keep it brief. © 2014 Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks. If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.


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