Lists, Dashes, Memories and Romance

By Ali Vali

 

Since this is the list making time of year, even for people who detest making lists even when asked to by loving partners who send me to the grocery for two more items than I can remember, I’ll share with you the two items on my list of things I find truly annoying.

 

  1. Repetitive noises – think people clicking their pen over and over, tapping their finger on something or perhaps a car alarm that goes off for an hour. This list is long so I’ll stop there.

 

  1. Christmas music! Don’t get me wrong, and I’ve written about this before, I like Christmas music just not weeks and weeks of it. After hearing Jingle Bells for the two hundredth and ninety-ninth time I could strangle someone with wrapping ribbon.

 

I won’t go into my tirade after going to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra because this was one of the items on C’s list of things she wanted this year, so I got tickets. Note to the Trans Siberian Orchestra people, when you place the word orchestra prominently in your name like that, I’m expecting I don’t know, an orchestra and not six people with stringed instruments, the biggest drum set I’ve ever seen in my life, and five guys with electric guitars.

 

My only question about those three torturous hours I’ll never get back is why the hell didn’t someone tell me these people play really hard rock music? I’m not trying to offend the really hard rock fans our there, but hard core hard rock music isn’t my favorite, so imagine how happy I was hearing the hard rock version of Christmas. Also imagine my surprise when the Christmas Cannon played about a million times on the radio during this time of year sounded more like Black Sabbath does Christmas when performed by these people.

 

The only thing that didn’t happen during this concert was someone biting the head off a gingerbread man and spitting it into the audience. There was a part with a dragon who invited his dragon friends to attack a castle because that of course screams Christmas. I’ll have to ask Ruth and Kathi if there’s perhaps something in Hanukkah that involves lizards that breathe fire.

 

Okay my second thing turned into a tirade so let’s get back to my blog.

 

On the flip-side of the first list are my two things I love about this time of year. The first is remembering all those memories of sharing special times with those you love. The second is shopping for the right thing for the special people in my life, and seeing their expressions when I manage to pull off a surprise.

 

This year, even though I really don’t like making lists, I started on my bucket list and managed to check off a few things. I never thought of myself as the bucket list kind of person, but things happen that changed my perspective of time and what I’m going to do with the amount I’m blessed with. Don’t worry I’m not sick, but we lost a friend this year that was my age from a sudden heart attack and a few other things that made me not want to procrastinate on anything we’d like to do and experience, so we got to see Jeter play in Yankee stadium before he retired, we went to Hawaii for the first time, and tried our best to live up to one of Mama’s last requests.

 

Garth Brooks put it best in the chorus of Pushing Up Daisies. “There’s two dates in time that they’ll carve on your stone and everyone knows what they mean. What’s important is the time that is known as the little dash in between.” Mama told us that you get this one life so make the most out of it and enjoy the hell out of it. All those moments are what make our memories and they ease the pain of loss because even when life gives us situations we don’t particularly ask for, they can’t be taken away.

 

My partner C and I were on our way home from a Christmas shopping trip recently and our conversation centered around all our Christmas memories together and as children. We’ve had some wonderful holiday seasons together, but the one I told her about that night was the first Christmas my family celebrated in the states.

 

As most of you know by now, my family is originally from Cuba, and we arrived in the states in 1968. A month after that I turned five and had no idea what Christmas was about except for the stories my mother told us as children. In Cuba we celebrated the religious aspect of the season since being born into a communist state wasn’t the best for getting gifts simply because there were none to buy. In four years I got one toy on King’s Day, (there’s no Santa in Cuba either – the three wise men bring gifts on King’s Day) so my parents made up for it that first Christmas.

 

Even though I was only five, I still remember waking up and finding all those gifts under our tree. It was all small things considering we were as they say poor as church mice back then, but my mom made the most of the little money we had. The one thing I remember most was this little desk that had a green seat attached to the desk part and the top was a chalk board. When you lifted it up inside were these little pegs and a hammer so you could make designs. I loved that thing, but not as much as the memory of that day.

 

Those memories and all those that followed are what make me smile even though I’ll never see Mama here in one of her tacky Christmas sweaters she loved to wear to embarrass my brother and me. She’s probably laughing her head off in heaven seeing that tacky sweaters are now the in thing and a big business. Since I’m not five anymore I realize those times we shared and the memories I have because of those days are the best gifts of all.

 

By now you probably thing my trip down memory lane is to take my mind off the holiday music streaming out of every speaker on the planet, and you’d be somewhat right, but I’ve got memories on the brain. The reason I started with my parents is because I also remember them together having fun at pretty much everything they did, and how that never really stopped until Mama was gone. That my father misses her is easy to see in his demeanor since he wears his sadness like a winter coat.

 

When I met C, there was plenty about her that grabbed my attention, but the one thing that stood out about her and what I’m most grateful for is the fun she’s brought into my life. At times she makes me laugh when I’d rather not or think I can’t, so I decided to give her one gift she asked me for aside from the concert tickets, and that was a book where no one died some gruesome horrible death. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t want me to retire from the gruesome horrible death business at least on the page, but she was ready for a romance.

 

The Romance Vote The Romance Vote 300 DPIis one of C’s Christmas gifts this year and I picked the setting of politics because we met working on a campaign over thirty years ago. Believe me that’s where the similarities with these characters end. Well except for the fact that we’re madly in love too. How’s that for sappy from someone known for the aforementioned gruesome horrible deaths? I may start singing Jingle Bells at any moment but then I’d have to strangle myself and wouldn’t be able to finish this.

 

Our first months together were like a roller coaster ride of fun and getting to know each other like the fact that I hate repetitive noises, and she doesn’t like violent movies, and through it all we managed to build a strong foundation that’s held firm no matter what life’s thrown at us. It was the same feeling I wanted to give the two main characters Chili and Sam – that sense of forever my dad had with my mom and I have with C. So in this book you have politics, humor, romance, heat, and hunting (well sort of hunting.) Sounds disjointed but trust me it’ll come together once you read The Romance Vote.

 

As another year comes to a close we have plenty to celebrate on the romance front as far as Bold Strokes Books is concerned. MJ Williamz and Laydin Michaels got married as did Lisa Girolami and Kari Cranfill. Congratulations to all of you, C and I wish you all a long and happy life together, and as many fun filled times as you can possibly cram into each day. I’ll share with them and all the happy couples out there the last bit of wisdom Mama gave me, which was to enjoy life to the fullest every day and always try your best to show those you love how much they mean to you. It’s what makes life not only worth while, but it’ll be those special things you do for someone, and not so much the things you buy, that they’ll remember always.

 

Unfortunately we lost Cate Culpepper, and her passing silenced a prolific story teller and good friend to many. Thankfully her books will live on to be enjoyed by future generations of readers and fans. She will be truly missed.

 

Memories, like the brightly wrapped gifts you’ve worked hard to get for your loved ones, bring joy when you take the time to unwrap them and enjoy. In our family, thankfully for me, we do that often by recounting the stories that make up our history. This year as we celebrate the holidays, we get to watch the next generation find the wonder of what these days mean to our family since my great niece experiences her first Christmas. I’ve actually missed walking through the toy store searching for the perfect gift like I did for her father and his sister. Of course most of the ones we bought for the baby this year make noise because I’m that kind of aunt. Repetitive noises don’t bother me when I can go home after delivering gifts, one of which plays It’s a Small World when you press any button on the board. My nephew and his wife might disown me after that, but I thought it was cute so the baby’s getting it.

 

We also are conscience of the importance of time since two of our cousins are battling cancer. One of them is really ill, and like with Mama, we’ve been sharing some of our most treasured memories. From experience I’ve found that laughter helps ease some of the pain, so there have been plenty of phone calls back and forth where we talk about those times as children like our epic fireworks battles, and not about the illness. It’s a wonder we survived all those days since we actually shot fireworks at each other, and it makes me feel for Mama and my aunts since we did things like shoot fireworks at each other.

 

Our family isn’t the only one experiencing sad times so please know you and your loved ones are in our prayers. My holiday wish for you is to reminisce about all those treasured times along with the eggnog and presents as we enjoy ours. The top on my treasured times list is meeting the girl who stole my heart and has filled it with love and joy. The Romance Vote is for her, and I’m glad she decided to vote on me.

 

My hope is you enjoy it as much as the holiday season with those you love because, as in all my books, every word is also written with the reader in mind. Thank you all for your kind words you send, and for your continued support, and our wish if for all of you to have a

 

Happy Holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

12 Responses to “Lists, Dashes, Memories and Romance”


  1. 1 Carol December 23, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Very nice blog, Ali. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself here, and in The Romance Vote. It’s a beautiful book.
    Happy, healing holiday to all.

    Like

  2. 2 laydin December 23, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Nice blog, Ali. It’s the memories. Thanks for giving us a peek into yours. Merry Christmas!

    Like

  3. 3 T Little December 23, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Thank you for sharing your memories. Can’t wait to read The Romance Vote.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 4 Dawn December 23, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Just read The a Romance Vote this week and it was a great book and I think you made us feel all the things you wanted us to experience!
    Happy Holidays

    Like

  5. 5 treimoir December 23, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Wonderful blog Ali! Happy holidays to you and C! We hope your new year is especially filled with great health for you both. I know this past year was a little rough. Oh, and you wrote an awesome present for C! The Romance Vote is a great read, as usual!

    M&M
    (Melissa & Marlyn)

    Like

  6. 6 Beth December 23, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories. It’s so easy to get stressed with the holidays and we often need a reminder of what is truly important. Wishing you and C a Merry Christmas and a New Year that brings you even more love and laughter.

    Like

  7. 8 Mary December 23, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Ali, I can hear reading this in my head. Happy Holidays to you & C.

    Like

  8. 9 Dorinda Depp December 23, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    Hi Ali, nice of you to write a book that C could enjoy and of course the rest of us too. The rest of what you wrote made me smile. I’m glad you were willing to share with your readers. Hope you and C have a wonderful holiday. Dorinda

    Like

  9. 10 S.A. December 23, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    Wonderful blog, thank you! Very appropriate thoughts for the holiday season. Thanks for sharing the personal notes and memories. I laughed out loud several times before I finished.🙂 In particular, thank you for the reminder that time is precious, as are friends and family. (That “dash” that GB speaks of; very insightful to put it that, way actually.) Happy holidays!!

    Like

  10. 11 Lee Lynch December 23, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    Terrific holiday column, Ali. I’m glad you and C and your dad get to celebrate another year together.

    Like

  11. 12 Devlyn December 23, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    Note to self: don’t worry about bucket list number 6 ‘seeing the Trans Siberian Orchestra’. Thanks for the tip!
    Another wonderful blog Ali and thanks for sharing with us readers, not only your thoughts of the year been but of the characters and stories that are created in your head.
    I look forward to reading your latest. All the best to you and C for the holidays, stay safe and happy and continue to have fun.

    Like


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