In a totally unexpected turn of events, I found myself acting out monologues and learning how to write gripping tales that would command the attention of movie audiences.
Spirit led me to a writing coach that helped me take my craft far beyond my first attempt at a book. Was Michael’s spirit giggling when I discovered that the teacher’s name was Peter and the workshops would take place at the home of Wendy? I went with it and carried my writing assignments in a Tinkerbell folder, much to the chagrin of some of the more sophisticated-looking writers who I sometimes caught looking over at me with silent sneers. I wasn’t taking myself seriously enough. Phffffffffft.
I had visualized a perfect world, but as Peter pointed out after having read my first manuscript, maybe things were a bit too perfect to hold an audience’s attention, or best get my point across. Nina’s world was perfect, but a bit lonely. She wished to meet her soulmate.
“Nina and three friends danced under the Mazin moon with the crackling firelight as their music. Every movement had meaning. Every step was worship. The young women celebrated their Goddess in the dance. This night, the warmest of the year, Nina’s dance was especially meaningful, as it was a dance to summon her love.
The powerful energy sent from the woman summoning, reached throughout the island like invisible fingers. Women of Mazin would choose the time, usually when they were at least sixteen years of age, sometimes much later in life, when they wished to meet the one they would marry. In the months that followed her heart’s decision, the one who best suited her, who would fill her longings and match her desire, would be compelled to come to her village. It would then be a matter of days or weeks before the two would be drawn together. If the summoned boy already lived in the same village as the one drawing him, this would surely speed the process.”
I was planning to write more about Endymion here in Part 3 of my story of how this book came about. I will still do this, yet an unreleased song of Michael’s kept coming back to me until I finally listened to it today. The lyrics have my heart doing flip-flops because they speak of the person in the song being drawn to a perfect place, through a mist, drawn by a woman… all too much like the premise of my book to be a total accidental coincidence. “A Place With No Name” so perfectly describes Mazin. The lyrics might also be a haunting picture of a man ascending to a heavenly realm – a place with no name, indeed. I wonder if the lyrics were intended to be a metaphor for physical death. More later on this feeling.
“Mazin’s villages were rich with beautiful plants and equally beautiful traditions. The Earth was young, and if you listened very carefully you could hear the Reniala trees conversing. Their spirits spoke to each other of how the island country had flourished peacefully for hundreds of years, and how they would be sad to see the change. The trees sensed the change was imminent. They were never wrong, for the water of wisdom flowed through them. Their trunks were enormous, with branches all the way down to the ground. Seekers of wisdom had simply to climb the trees and sit close to the trunk on a welcoming branch. You will not find them like this today, for they grew weary of being ignored and began growing their branches high above the ground, leaving their trunks bare. Seekers would now have to stretch their arms wide and attempt to embrace the trees, listening closely in order to coax these magical beings into sharing their wisdom.
In this ancient peaceful time, families of Mazin worked together in a nurturing community. Sacred rituals were passed from mothers to daughters, the spiritual caretakers of the people. It was quite a long time ago, when women were reverenced as sovereign life givers and men were at peace.
The night was luminous—a lonely sky befriended by thousands of stars. Nina looked up into the heavens and began swaying back and forth near the fire, trying to let all questions leave her mind.”
Now to let all questions leave MY mind, and get back to the order of things…
The number 23 became a constant companion of mine. Everywhere I looked, it was there. To go back to when I chose the name Endymion – it was a bit after I had started writing the book (May 10, 2007). I put place-holder names in for the lead romantic role in the story, but wasn’t happy with them. When I found Endymion, on a name-finder website, I had not remembered hearing the name before, but I loved the flow of it. It seemed mysterious, yet fluid and comfortable. These are the elements I loved about the character. I looked at other names to make sure. I could not let go of Endymion once I found him.
That sentence ended word 823 as I glanced over at my word count in this piece so far. It’s like that. Everywhere “23.” And this brings me to the fact that my writing coach, Peter, drove a car with the numerals on the license plate of “823.” Where I live, the license plate number consists of 3 letters and 3 numbers. Since Michael had passed, I had grown increasingly attached to number signs. They were my map in a sense. They pointed me to things and led me to important people in my life. 23 was a sign of important connections. “823” didn’t mean anything to me except that I had grown attached to the number 23. Yet I do remember that as we were following Peter’s car one snowy night after the workshop, I said out loud to my daughter, who attended the weekly workshops with me, that I knew “823” would be important to me one day.
Please come with me now. We’ll travel through an adventure of numbers.
A beautiful spirit of song, Selena Quintanilla-Perez, simply known to many fans as “Selena,” was a guiding spirit for my daughter as well, and as I discovered while writing Nina’s Story, was a member of the same religious organization to which Michael Jackson long pledged his loyalty. My childhood church had been patterned on this same religion. My book had to do with freeing oneself from some elements of this and similar religions, like the one that Michael had pulled away from in his physical lifetime. Writing pieces such as “God” in his book Dancing the Dream, he showed how his spirituality had moved far beyond this one organization’s narrow view of the divine. Selena, whom I paid tribute to in Nina’s Story, describing her as one of the looks of the goddess Inana, was killed at the age of 23.
This is also why I envisioned the goddess of music, Luna in my book MichaeLuna, as being the age of 23.
My father was 23 years older than me. My parents were married on December 23. In another story for an entire book unto itself, my father was cruelly tricked into leaving his place of residence in May of 2011. He was living just ten minutes driving distance from me. He left me, his other children, his familiar doctors and care-givers, in a secretive scheme dreamt up by one who desired to control my father and others in my family, regardless of the cost. The cost to my father was his earthly life. Those who loved him lost precious time that could have been spent with him. Had he not been moved, he would have had at least two more years to live, as I was told by the spirit of his mother, my grandmother. My grandmother was 23 years older than my dad. She passed away when I was eleven, and I have remained connected to her spirit. I was desperate when my father was tricked into leaving. I felt so powerless. I was so very grateful that my grandmother’s spirit guided me through one of the scariest and most heart-wrenching times of my life. Before he left, but when I got wind of the ill-conceived plan to fly him from Colorado to Washington, I was desperate to convince him NOT to go. I firmly believed that since he had a heart condition, the flight would be fatal. He could be extremely stubborn, and I realized that the entire set of circumstances leading to his being convinced to move away, was too big for me to fight. He was too hurt to stay, too mistreated by one he had trusted. He told me exactly who had conceived of the plan to move him, thinking that this person was being “nice.” So I know whose idea it was, even though this person later denied it. There were others that saw that the plan was carried out. My dad wanted to prove that he could start fresh, make a new man of himself, and he was promised the moon by one who knew the things that would most tempt him away. Once he moved, he got to enjoy nothing of what was promised. Others tried to warn him, but he believed the promises.
My family was due to travel to California on the same day that my father was being moved away. I was able to have a tearful last goodbye with him, hoping things would end better for him, yet my heart told me it would be the last time I would see him. It taught me a painful, painful lesson. When someone is convinced of something, no matter how untrue it may be – you cannot convince them otherwise unless they want to see it.
Three days after my father arrived at his destination, he was in the hospital. Six weeks after he arrived, he was with my grandmother and the other angels in Heaven. She let me know each step of the way, what was going to happen, but it didn’t make it easier. I spoke with him often on the phone. I didn’t tell him he was going to die. I held out hope till the end that things might change. The last phone number I had for him was 823-2323.
Even after he passed, there was no kindness from the family members who had taken him, no apology for what they had done. His box of ashes was taken to the place he had asked to be buried. I was grateful that his wishes for this were respected, but there was no consideration of other family members. No planned graveside service, because we weren’t told where he was buried. We had to investigate to find out on our own. The family members who were praying that my dad would not have been moved and that his death would not have been hastened in this way, had our own service in his hometown, a few states away from me, on August 29, 2011.
There had been a promise of a headstone (for the grave site that was not disclosed to me). But that person had not ordered one, as I found out later. I cannot even tell you the pain of all of this secrecy and cruelty. I would not have made it through this sadness without my spirit guides.
It may seem silly to some, and my dad could be silly and child-like often, but one of the last phone messages (saved on my cellphone) that he left for me was simply, “It don’t matter if you’re black or white. Bye.” Huh. My funny dad. I had loaned him Michael’s Live at Bucharest Concert DVD a few weeks before I’d found out about his move to Washington. There was more behind that phone message than just silliness though. It had led to a serious discussion between father and daughter. He had been influenced by our hate-filled and ignorant church leaders that had harshly condemned me for dating outside of my race throughout my dating years as a member of that church. I tried to follow all of the church rules, but that one I couldn’t understand AT ALL! For some reason, after watching Michael’s concert DVD (Dad hadn’t seen him in concert before) he had an epiphany, and had a talk with me, apologizing for being so rough on me about dating black men. He said that I should have been allowed to date/marry whomever I wanted. That was a healing moment with my dad – so unexpected, yet so needed. I hadn’t known how soon our heart to heart talks on this earth would end, but I am so grateful for that one.
My dad left this world on July 5, 2011. He’s stayed in touch since then.
When the headstone (that we were misinformed about) was not placed, we started checking into it, and I decided to order and design one myself, with my sister’s help. This simple, but beautiful tribute to my dad was placed on November 23, 2011. Twenty-three. The night before I received the phone call confirming the placement of the headstone I received a very sweet number sign. I had not known when the stone would be placed. We live in another state, so I was in contact through phone conversations with the monument company, and was hoping it would be placed before the first snow of the season; otherwise I was told we would have to wait much longer. It was hard to plan this from another state, but the lady at the monument company was very sweet, understanding and helpful. The sign I saw the night before was on a car in front of me when I stopped to get take-out for my family’s dinner. On the license plate were my dad’s initials and the first two numbers of the 3 number progression were “23.”
It was needful to take you on this path through my father’s part of the 23 phenomenon in my life. Miraculously, months before he was moved, he and I were able to talk about Nina’s Story, and he asked to read it. So even though he never saw it as a published book, he was able to read the entire manuscript and also helped me with some editing. I remember I couldn’t finish writing the book as fast as he could read it. I would take sections of the manuscript to him as I finished them, and he actually helped me to finish it faster, because it’s more fun to write when you know someone is anxious to read it!
I have made peace with the way things happened. I know that in his heart, my father wanted to leave this world. He was too sad to stay, due to the way he was being treated by one he never stopped loving. I am so grateful for the time I had with him, being able to cook his last birthday dinner, and Easter dinner, and my family being able to watch one of his favorite comedies with him as part of his birthday celebration. Thank God for “Throw Mama From the Train.” That movie will always make me think of Dad, and smile.
In following the line of events that led to my father’s death, I skipped over the part about my surgery. I won’t bore you with the details of that. I was in pain. I discovered that I needed surgery. Not cancer. Very lucky. Weeks later I was fine, if a bit weak and wobbly. It was my first major surgery and I didn’t recover as quickly as I thought I would, but I did recover and I’m grateful that it went well.
I had to take a break from my writing workshops, which had begun in November of 2009. My surgery was March 1, 2010. My daughter was recording the writing workshops I missed, and I was on my back recovering for a few weeks.
The important stuff is that my hospital room number was 223, and the 23rd of February, which is how that number translates as an American date abbreviation, became an extremely important number to me in connection with Endymion.
In March of the following year, a beauty beyond compare took her last bow and departed from this world. Michael’s dear Elizabeth joined him in a heavenly realm. I had thought previous to her passing, that 223 was a sign from Michael about her. He began telling me she would soon leave this earth a few months before she passed. He kept saying “23” and I took it to mean February 23. This day came and went. When I heard the announcement on the morning of March 23, 20ll it was on the radio as I was returning home after dropping my son off at school. I turned to the radio station after they had said her name, but I knew it was of her that the radio announcer was speaking. I was a month off in the translation, but it was the 23rd.
On April 11, 2011, I stumbled upon a beautiful movie, and a story I was not aware of, a poet I had not paid attention to in the least, except for repeating one line in particular that I loved, and that I had heard every time I watched my favorite Disney movie, “Mary Poppins.”
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
As I watched this unfamiliar-to-me-movie, “Bright Star,” I was mesmerized and felt a little light-headed during several of the scenes. Released in September of 2009, this movie about this man, portrayed so beautifully by the actor, held me transfixed. The character had a sweetness, a mystery, a kindness, a hypnotic power that seemed familiar. And as the movie progressed, (which I hadn’t seen from the beginning) he began to speak of his first book of poetry entitled “Endymion.” Whaaaaaaat? I kept watching, feeling that I had left my body and was dancing on the ceiling…wait…that is also a scene in Mary Poppins.
I was completely unaware of his love affair with Fanny Brawne, of the way his poetry connected to my soul, of the fact that his first published work had been entitled “Endymion” and I was totally surprised by the movie’s revelation of his untimely death. He was only 25 when he died on February 23, 1821. John Keats. There was my “223.”
Sometimes you write something, and later you find out why. So my dear writers – write! Let the words flow from your fingers. Let your heart flood the paper, poured out for all to see. Many or few, it doesn’t matter. The work is there. Some may hate it at first, or feign hatred that is merely jealousy (As Keat’s first book was slashed to bits by critics of his day).
But one day, those who are meant to find it, will find it. So write!
After all, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
This “23” business is not over. It has only just begun.
And as I was saying – this keeps going real time: I just listened to “A Place With No Name” this morning. Yeah, I’m a latester – every other MJ fan has heard it a hundred times and downloaded it by now. I was avoiding it for some reason, but notifications kept coming to me about this song.
Once I took the time to listen, it affected me deeply. The lyrics of having to leave your car (Jeep, specifically) finding a paradise, feeling so loved, being looked at from above by one with tears in her eyes, and taking out his wallet to show her his family whom he wants to meet there one day too….” It’s starting to add up as a metaphor for dying and reaching Heaven. Hearing his voice and feeling his feelings of this total love. I knew that even though my dad didn’t want to go, he did.
So today – just a couple of hours ago I went to pick up my son from school. I thought I had completed Part 3 of this series. I’m waiting for my son to come out of his school so I can take him home, and I see a vehicle with the license plate beginning with “823.” It is a Jeep. What am I supposed to think?