There are some things
That you can only do alone.
Like lying on your stomach in bed
Watching the sunset
Sudoku open in front of you
Your favorite music playing softly.
Like watching TV
Sitting in Dad's seat
Eating ice cream in the living room
Covered in a hand-crocheted blanket.
Like crocheting sunflower hot pads
While binging Buzzfeed Unsolved
Or watching Criminal Minds
Or listening to Weird Al parodies.
Like turning on your lamp before the sun rises
And opening your Bible
And conversing with the God of the universe
While snuggled in bed with your pillows.
There's a certain joy in loneliness.
But being alone is a form of art
That cannot be taught, only learned
And you will fail a time or two--
But don't worry, darling.
You'll learn. You'll learn. You'll learn.
Tell us your major,
And tell us your name.
(No one will remember,
All these posts look the same.)
Where do you live, kid,
And where are you from?
And what sort of person
Do you hope to become?
Do you have children?
Do you own dogs or cats?
What are your hobbies?
How do you relax?
And none of this matters,
We'll all soon forget.
Just don't post a detail
You'll come to regret.
What a week!
If you've been following my blog for the past week, you know what I've been up to. Well, part of it. I've also been installing hardwood floors with my dad. But a week ago today, I drove through four states to Iowa City, Iowa. And a week ago tomorrow, I met my biological mother.
Last week, I gave some backstory, and I'll give a few extra details by means of review. I was adopted as a newborn in an open adoption and, since I was twelve hours old, have been raised by the wonderful couple that I call my parents. I've known my whole life that I was adopted, and I've had some contact with my birth mother--email and Facebook messages, mostly.
And now? Honestly? I'm feeling every emotion known to mankind. I'm not really used to feeling things, so the past few days have been a little rough for me. But I'm...well, 'getting over it' isn't the term I'm looking for. But it's the closest thing I can find.
The visit itself was sort of typical. We talked a lot. I met my birth mother's four cats and wore her armor (I felt like Hiccup trying on Stoick's gear, for all of you How to Train Your Dragon fans) and we went out to various restaurants. We also went to an Amish grocery store and toured a bit of the college campus. The library was closed, unfortunately.
I also met my biological grandparents over Zoom. They're quite a bit younger than my adoptive grandparents--probably in their 60s or early 70s as opposed to 83 and 85--and rather nerdy. Just like my birth mother. Just like me.
I'm surprised at how alike my birth mother and I are. We're both word nerds with nearly the same Myers-Brigg personality type. We both read Ellis Peters' Cadfael Chronicles. We both like swords and cats and all things medieval. We both tend to keep people at arm's length until we know we can trust them, and we both like cats.
As for my biological father, Sam? I have an indescribable amount of apathy towards him. Complete and total disinterest. Especially after learning a few unsavory facts about his side of the family. I'm glad that the only things I inherited from him are intelligence, big hands, and a fast metabolism.
As far as Iowa goes...it's a nice state. The place is one giant farm with some woods near the southern border. And as far as our visit, it was pleasant. I hope to go back sometime, once I'm an adultier adult. And in the meantime, life goes on. I'm still a Piazza. Still a Texan. Still a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.
Let's try something different in the comments. Ask me anything. About my trip, my background as an adopted person, my books. Anything. And your questions, should you give permission, will end up in a future blog post. God bless you, dear readers, and good luck as school starts up!
It's strange, really. I never thought
Too much about what it would be like
Even though my daydreams were fraught
With similar situations.
Twelve hours and four states north I went
And in her driveway I paused nervously
Not knowing why two days I'd spent
Driving just to panic here.
And then she opened the purple door
Of the green house, and I ran
Into arms that held me once before
But I'd long since forgotten.
It was just that hug. Just that.
And then upstairs I was brought
To see the house and pet the cat
And talk about books.
It was almost like meeting an aunt
You'd never seen before at a wedding
And realizing later that you can't
Bear to part with her.
But part we did, on Saturday
And that parting embrace and "I love you"
My mind has often replayed
But why I can't imagine.
Good morning, dear readers!
Every once in a while, when I know I'm going to be very busy on a Thursday, I'll write a post beforehand and schedule its release. Since my life is fairly boring, this doesn't happen often. However, today is one of those busy days. I'm probably halfway through Oklahoma right about now, traveling north on my way to Iowa.
What's in Iowa, you ask?
Corn. Lots of corn. Also soybeans and sunflowers. Or so I've heard. Oh, and also my biological mother.
One thing that you might have picked up in Where the Clouds Catch Fire and Where I Stand is the theme of family. In the first book, Alynn and Lukas come to see each other as father and daughter. Alynn's reunited with her long-lost mother. In Where I Stand, Alynn works through some daddy issues and gets her little brother back. As a foundling, Lukas spends some time puzzling over what it's like being part of a real family. I like to think that he comes to figure it out.
What you might not have known, though, is that I have a very personal reason for putting these things in my books.
Back in the spring semester of 2000, a couple of college students forgot to use birth control. A friend of a friend of the girl's parents were struggling with infertility. I was born during Finals Week, my parents met me twelve hours later, and I can now win every game of "Never Have I Ever" by saying, "Never have I ever met a biological relative."
As an adopted person, I have a few...peculiarities. I'm extremely clingy. Not in a "you-can't-go-to-the-store-without-me" way, but in a "I-can't-function-without-hugs" way. I also have a hard time feeling like I fit in with social groups, although being homeschooled for ten years and/or suffering from a phobia for half a decade might play into that. But there are plenty of non-adopted people who are way more messed up than I am, so I consider myself (relatively) normal.
Anyway, you probably have some questions. Why have I never mentioned being adopted on my blog before? It's not really that important. Do I plan on adopting when I'm older? I don't know, I'd really like to have my own. Am I excited about meeting my mom? First off, she's not my mom, she's my birthmother. And second off--you know that feeling that's somewhere between excitement and terror? That's what I'm feeling right now.
So I bid a hearty farewell to my chances of winning "Never Have I Ever," and a hearty hello to my native Iowa. I'm on the trip of a lifetime.
Any other questions you have for me--about being adopted, my trip, or otherwise--ask in the comments, and I'll try to get back to you. It might not be until Monday or so, though. God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
"Good evening, folks! We are in for an exciting time tonight as M.J. Piazza is opening her Microsoft Word document for the first time in weeks."
"You know, Tim, in almost a decade of writing, it's been really rare for her to take so much time off. COVID-19 has really negatively affected her creative flow."
"And she's not the only one, Charley. Have you been on Instagram recently? It's been a regular mess over in the comic section. Alright, here she goes. The Word document is loaded, and she's off to Chapter Three."
"And now for the first word...oh, don't tell me, Tim. What's the hold-up?"
"It looks like she's picking up her phone, right at the get-go here, this could be a deadly mistake...but oh, it looks like we're in luck. She's opened the YouTube Music app. She's picking out a playlist as we speak."
"What's your take on the music?"
"Well, Charley, it's actually a pretty common anti-distraction tactic. M.J. here has taken it to another level, though, by typically only listening to music that's not in English! How many languages are represented in this playlist that she's opening right now?"
"Hard to say, Tim. You've got your instrumentals, of course, and quite a few of the songs are in Gaelic, actually. Then we've got some in Latin, one in Hebrew--alright, she's picked a song manually to start off with, and it's in French."
"Sounds like she's starting off with a classic. 'La Chanson de Mardi Gras,' sung by none other than Hozier before his solo days. And she is turning her attention back to the Word document, and she is writing...no, wait, she's deleting."
"Bold tactic here."
"You know, Charley, sometimes the creative juices just can't pick up where they left off."
"I know that's right, Tim. Looks like she's only deleting about half a paragraph. Mostly dialogue."
"Alright, and she's starting the dialogue fresh. Who's talking?"
"Caitriona, I think. M.J. hasn't used a dialogue tag in a while, though, so it's a little hard to tell. And we've got the first word of the day--oh wow, looks like a full sentence. 'I didn't mean it like htat.'"
"Type-o time. She's fixed it."
"So much for the hot pen method, Tim."
"You know, Charley, she's never liked that method much. Sometimes her fingers go in the wrong order on the keyboard. You remember that classic blunder back in '17, she typed 'vafroite' instead of 'favorite.'"
"She was sleep-deprived at that point, I thought--and she's off again--look at those fingers flying, Tim. Nothing like it. She's got a whole 'nother sentence out already."
"'Alynn made herself smile as she clutched Elsie tighter to her chest.' What emotion is being conveyed here! What depth of--"
"Oh no, what's this?"
"Bad news, Charlie. M.J.'s getting called downstairs to feed the dog. This has happened before, and it normally destroys her train of thought. Will she or won't she leave the keyboard--"
"Oh, she's left! Two sentences, eighteen words, not even one song finished on her playlist. What a disappointing turn of events, Tim!"
"Oh, don't worry, Charley. She'll come back. She always does. Tune in next time to see if Chapter Three ever gets finished."
There are a lot of things I can do in life.
I can vote and drive a car. I can crochet, sew, knit (to a small extent), latch hook, tablet weave, lucet, cross stitch, and nalbind. I can write books and poems and dramatic monologues. I can play a few songs on the piano. I can even tell the difference between yarrow, Queen Anne's Lace, and poison hemlock.
There are also a lot of things I can't do in life. I can't swallow more than one pill at a time. I can't sing well or play the guitar. I can't run a mile in less than eleven minutes. I can't pronounce the word "ration" for some reason. I can't sleep unless the room is completely dark and I can't watch the new Star Trek: Picard series without having a panic attack. More frustratingly, I can't keep plants alive.
There are exceptions. By some miracle, the plant my mom gave me for Valentine's Day is still alive. It doesn't have any flowers and I really need to get around to picking off the dead leaves, but the plant itself is still vibrant green. I've got a pepper plant in the front yard that produced a single wrinkly red pepper, and I've got a few herbs that are barely producing. But mostly, my plants die.
My crowning inglorious moment was when I managed to kill an aloe plant. Aloe Vera is supposed to be notoriously hard to kill. I forgot to water it for about three months straight and then overcompensated.
So finally, I bit the bullet and got me a plastic plant.
Hobby Lobby has a vast array of fake plants. I love it. They have flowers and leaves and everything in between, in all the colors you can think of. The plant I purchased looks sort of like oregano--it has lots of small leaves arranged on creeping stems. It was either that or a fern. I have an irrational love of ferns; they're right up there with yarrow and wild fruit-bearing plants on my list of favorite flora. But the fake oregano was cheaper.
You know, everyone has things that they just can't do. And that's okay. The modern world has done a pretty good job of supplementing our inadequacies. If you can't bake your own cupcakes, store-bought is fine. If you can't grow your own houseplants, plastic is fine. If you can't raise your own chickens, trade a pot of chili for a dozen eggs. If you're nice, you'll get your Tupperware back.
Well, I have to go don a little black dress with a white apron and grab my feather duster. The house isn't going to clean itself, and I've already been procrastinating. How's your luck with houseplants--or, if you're lucky, a vegetable garden? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to review us on Amazon!
"You're not normal," I'm told, "because you don't care about clothes."
I care about clothes. I care that they're comfortable. I care that they're durable. I care that they cover everything they need to. That's why I lounge around in Bermuda jean shorts and T-shirts whenever I can help it.
Fashion? Hmph! My last reincarnation made dresses out of flour sacks. Talk to her about fashion!
But then I think back. Back to the eras that even my old soul has never seen. Back to those eras of history relegated to books and legends and historians and the nerds ostracized by today's society even though they rule it.
You see, back in the high off and far away days of the Vikings, there was a man. Don't ask me his name. My brain is full of more important information, like the population density of an island that doesn't exist.
Let's just call him Fred.
Fred, like any decent Viking man, got into a fight. Perhaps it was a war. I don't remember the particulars--my brain is full of more important information, like the eye color of a character who died seventeen years before the book starts and is only mentioned once in the sequel.
Anyhow, Fred gets injured in this fight. So terribly injured that he's carried off the field of battle and tended to by a doctor. Now, just like today's physicians, this doctor liked to work on naked patients. He tried to take off Fred's pants to assess his injuries.
His pants wouldn't come off.
The doctor rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. "Fred, you're too worried about fashion. Your pants are far too tight!"
Fred groaned. "I don't care about fashion," he said. "Not one bit!"
The doctor looked at Fred's leg a little closer.
"Oh! I'm sorry, Fred! There's a spear through your leg. No wonder your pants won't come off! Nurse--nurse, fetch me that axe over there. Sorry about this, Fred. You'll do great with a peg leg."
In other words, Vikings wore skinny jeans. They also wore eyeliner and tweezed their eyebrows and bleached their hair with lye. But don't ask me where I learned all this. My brain is full of more important information, like the fact that the first functional prosthetic was a wooden toe used by an Egyptian.
Well, it seems that this generation isn't the first to care about fashion. And it seems that I'm not the first weirdo to question the clothing choices of the majority. Which is good. It's always fun to realize that people share your peculiarities.
Before we get into today's blog post, I would like to announce that we have a book signing on our hands! On July 25th (this Saturday), we'll be at 410 Collective in Denison, Texas from 9:00 to 3:00, or until we're sold out. This is the first time Where I Stand will be available for purchase, so I'm super excited. See you there!
I, generally, believe that a fair amount of human beings place way too much emphasis on music. Why must you always have noise in the background? Are you afraid of being alone with your own thoughts? Nevertheless, music certainly has its place in the world. I listen to it while writing in order to stay focused. I've been known to listen to Weird Al parodies while crocheting. I sing to the babies while volunteering at the church nursery, and I play piano on worship team.
Yesterday, I stumbled across a YouTube playlist I'd made a while back. It's full of songs by Twila Paris, along with a few by Selah and Sierra. But mostly Twila Paris.
For those of you who haven't heard of Twila Paris, you're in for a treat. She made Christian music back in the 90's and early 2000's. I'm especially fond of her because, when I was very young, my mom would play her True North or Where I Stand album every night while I was falling asleep. Listening to her music today provides a very nice calming effect.
Additionally, Hillsong released a song not too long ago called "Jesus Loves Me." Everyone's heard the original nursery rhyme. Mom would sing it to me every night, right before she turned on my Twila Paris CD. I even have a memory of my grandmother singing "Jesus Loves Me" while rocking me in a rocking chair, then carrying me through the living room and the hallway and into the nursery.
My sister played Hillsong's rendition of the song the other week. I almost fell asleep listening to it.
Interestingly, Irish myths tell of a fairy timpan (a lyre-type instrument) that was able to put people to sleep. Its peaceful songs were said to soothe wounded soldiers and mothers in labor. Since fairies aren't real, the songs aren't real either, but perhaps there's some truth to the notion that songs have a calming effect. In fact, there's a scene in Where I Stand to that effect....
"Leif had brought with him a three-stringed lyre, and Rowan tuned it after dinner. He played the reels and jigs Alynn had grown up with, plus a few more he'd learned in Scotland, and everyone sang along. Caitriona pulled Alynn out of her chair and danced with her while Drostan watched with shining eyes. When Caitriona was out of breath and Rowan was running out of songs to play, the lyre's melody changed. It was calmer now, like a glassy starlit sea, and under its spell Lukas fell asleep.
"They were blessed. They were so very, very blessed."
Book signings are so much fun! They are for me, anyway. I get to dress up like a Viking and bring a plastic sword. I get to smile and talk to people and sell my books.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.