9/11. Hope at Ground Zero

Like millions of other people on September 11, 2001, I sat transfixed to the TV screen watching and re-watching images I simply couldn’t believe were real. It all felt so chaotic, so horrific, the truth was I didn’t want them to be real.

But they were. And as the fiery clouds of smoke continued to engulf and consume all in its path, little did I or the millions of other people watching realize to what extent these unfolding events would change us as Americans forever.

Looking back fifteen years ago, we were a different country. We seemed to stand apart from the rest of the world in the fact that we remained untouched by foreign invasion. Suicide bombers, sniper attacks did not encroach upon our day-to-day lives. And because of that we took certain truths for granted. And we shouldn’t have.

It’s a strange seat to suddenly find yourself vulnerable. We were unprepared for what happened that day, and as much as I’d like to think we’re now smarter, more secure, I can’t help but ask: Are we?

Three thousand people perished that day. Three thousand brave men and women who fought to save their lives and the lives of others ended in a wreckage of glass and steel right before our eyes.

As a New Yorker and a fellow participant in this bowl of humanity, I felt what we all feel when something this crazy and senseless happens. It drives us to question, to cry, to lay flowers, to sing mournful songs, to reach out to those bereaving families. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t do those things. I didn’t pay tribute to those fallen angels the way I wished I had. So when I found myself in Manhattan today, I made sure Ground Zero was on my things to do list.

The outside memorial of two enormous waterfalls set within the original footprints of the Twin Towers is a magnificent structure and quite peaceful as you stroll around and gaze at all the names etched in.

The inside museum tells a different story. It offers us something more. A glimpse behind the wall of smiling faces telling us this one loved to play golf. This one coached Little League. This one just got married. This one just had a baby. So many names, so many faces, I kept thinking as I moved from exhibit to exhibit until I finally came to the end. Thoroughly drained and profoundly touched.                                          

History teaches us that the events of the past shape our future. It begs us to not forget. To not wipe clean the memories. It tells us to use all that we know to honor our cultural differences and rectify those injustices in this great story of human existence. It provokes us to think. To act. To develop a better lens in which we see the world and keep us safe. It gives us meaning. It provides opportunity to build character and integrity in the lives of our children. And it teaches us the most important lesson of all … hope. For without that, there’s nothing.

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Confessions of a Moveaholic

As of late, I realize I’ve been terrible at blogging. More than superstar status though with Facebook, Twitter and whatever other silly thing I can think of to distract myself with. It’s what I do best, I suppose. That and moving. Yes, I do that brilliantly. And should since I’ve done it a total of twenty-two times over the course of my adult lifetime. Wow. What an astounding number given I’m not in the military (FEMA doesn’t count), and according to the US Census Bureau the average American only moves twelve times. And for all the normal reasons. New job. Better job. Bigger house. Smaller house. Getting married. Getting divorced. One kid. Ten kids.

However, while some of those reasons were applicable to me, for the most part I believe I get up and go more often than most simply because I can. I don’t feel encumbered to maintain roots in any single place, not with a middle name of “tumbleweed” I don’t. Nor do I stress out so much about money, where it’s coming from, where it’s going to, because I’ve always believed where there’s a will there’s a way.

Perhaps that sounds a bit naive. And maybe it is. But it works for me. And now with my recent move squarely behind me, all the knickknacks and mishegosh of my life acclimating once again to their new environment, I find myself digging a bit deeper into that why factor.

First and foremost, I hate clutter

Moving gives me that excuse to get rid of all the junk hiding under the bed, in the closets and anywhere else one chooses to squirrel things away. It also permits me to shop till I drop. Not that I ever needed an excuse for that, but it certainly sounds good.

I get to wear a badass bandana and have fun

Not everyone can pull this one off. Yet I think it looks good on me. No?

How else do you get to make new friends in such a short amount of time?

I tend to think that while certain relationships are fleeting, it’s all about living in the moment. Especially when those moments are also fleeting.

I love to travel

Some people are content right where they are. I’m not. I get bored easily. Places and faces grow stale after a while and in my mind there’s nothing sexy about knowing what’s around the corner. Whether I move down the block, across the state, across the country, to another country, the experience is always exhilarating. Sure getting on a plane to San Francisco, Italy, Greece, or some other yummy destination for your annual vacation is very nice. But it’s not the same thing as moving there. Nothing touches one more than going out of your comfort zone, way out there, setting up shop where you don’t know anyone and have to start from scratch. It’s tough stuff. It tells you exactly what you’re made of.

It keeps me young

Well it used to. I have to admit this last one was a killer. Since I’d sold off all my furniture traveling from California back to Florida and I have not as yet had the opportunity or the wherewithal to buy anything other than a bed, a desk, a chair and a laptop (all this writer girl actually needs, but that occasional person dropping by might not agree), I believed this would be a slam-dunk of a move. However, even the most diligent of movers could not have anticipated the elevator breaking down. And with a 95-degree sun beating down on our backs, hauling twenty boxes down four flights of steps, needless to say my son was not at all a happy camper. Nor was I.

maudit i love lucy my favorite episode

New doors open that weren’t open before

I have to admit in those early years I had no clue what to expect. Maybe that’s what makes it so grand, the unexpected. I knew I would eventually make new friends, find a new life wherever I went. However, what I came away with was so much than I could ever have imagined. In Forest Hills, NY (my first move), I found my sense of independence. I saw a glimmer of my older self. Who I was to become. In Guadalajara, Mexico, I found love. I lost love. In Florida, I found a family. In California I absorbed quite a few pearls of wisdom. Things I knew, things I’d forgotten along the way. We are who we are. No regrets. Love thyself, all of thyself. Lots of good stuff, without a doubt.

And now that I have come full circle back to Florida, I found the greatest gift of all. A baby named Cupcake. Need I say anything more on that one?

At this stage of the game, I have no idea how many more moves are in the cards for me. Only time will tell on that one, I suppose. That and perhaps a winning Lottery ticket (which I never buy). But in the meantime, here I stay. And with Cupcake’s second birthday coming up in a few days, here I definitely stay. Well, at least for a little while anyway.

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About My Career As Novelist, FEMA Reservist and Grandmother

A lovely interview with writer Effrosyni Moschoudi for her website.

Today I’m pleased to present to you L. Donsky-Levine, another fabulous author from my writer’s group, eNovel Authors at Work.

I understand that The Bad Girl is your literary debut?

Yes. Like many other folks who’ve dreamed about writing that great novel, life required me elsewhere. So, I guess I’m what some might call a late bloomer. It’s taken me a lifetime to get here, but thrilled that I finally made it.

Well, we are too. And, I see, based upon the reviews, that the subject matter is pretty intense. Can I ask what was your inspiration for it?

I can’t say that this exploration into humanity’s darker side where all those social issues we don’t like to talk about roam free, evolved out of any sort of inspiration. As a victim of sexual molestation, as a little girl, as a woman grappling with the shame, the stigma, and the anger I felt toward people and their reality blinders, I knew one day I would write about it, I just didn’t know when. And the strange thing was, I was in the middle of writing a completely different book when the idea of it came back with such full force, and I knew this had to come before all else.

So now that you’ve accomplished that, what’s new, project-wise, on the horizon for L. Donsky-Levine?

I’m actually working on two projects. The first is the book I’d started before THE BAD GIRL. It’s a tale of somewhat more epical proportion that fuses together all those magical things I personally look for when I want to get lost in between the pages of a truly wonderful book: time travel, history, adventure, sex and romance. Oh yeah, gotta have the love factor in there because whatever the problem, whatever the question, the answer will always be the same. Love. Without that . . . what else is there?

So true.

And the second project I’m working on is actually a book club tour. Or should I say “a personal challenge” which I’ve titled: The Bad Girl Book Club Tour. Reading Across America. Fifty States. Fifty Weeks. I’m hoping, as the title indicates, to travel to every state within a year’s time. Now aside from a smattering of states here and there, the majority of my trip will obviously be done, virtually. Which is cool because I belonged to a virtual book club where we all met online and it was such incredible fun. So if there’s anyone out there who belongs to a club in the US or has a friend or relative that they know belongs to one, and they don’t mind doing a little arm-twisting, well then . . . I’d love to hear from you!

Sounds like you definitely have your hands full. But happily. Which leads me to wonder with all that you’re doing, is there anything in particular you like to do to get the creative juice flowing?

There are two definites that never fail me when I sometimes find myself staring at a blank screen. Reading a great book and baking something super delicious. The book (especially if it’s a good one) gets those mental electrodes pumping while the fussing about the kitchen relaxes me. I’ve been baking for a long time. My mother was/is a super baker, so naturally like most little girls we want to emulate our mothers. I was probably around five when I made my first batch of cookies. Chocolate chip. Nothing ever tasted so good as those cookies, warm and gooey right out of the oven with a tall glass of cold milk. Oh yes, yum!

Now that you’ve got my mouth watering, Lauren, I understand you have quite a diverse background. So if you could choose another profession, what would it be?

It’s true. Over the years, I’ve worn a plethora of professional hats. I’ve been a chef, an insurance agent, an executive assistant, a clothing designer, a restaurant general manager, a sales rep, a concierge, a freelance writer, a nanny, a driver, and probably a whole heck of a lot more things I just can’t remember at the moment. But the one profession that I never did achieve and dreamed about from the time I was a little girl, was being an archaeologist. But since I was not the best of students and I’d discovered archaeologists earned very little, I chucked that idea real quick. However, the dream never left me. And so now, even though I’ll never be able to put on my Indiana Jones hat (not in public anyway), I have the next best thing that will make all that possible for me: a pen.

I understand that in addition to now writing full-time, you’re also a hands-on grandmother; you paint and you’re a FEMA Reservist, too. That sounds like a lot.

Yes, now that you say it that way, it does. But it somehow works. And given the fact I’m the world’s greatest juggler, doesn’t hurt any. I love spending time with my granddaughter; she’s the love of my life. Painting, for me, is like breathing. And as far as my work with FEMA, I can think of no other honor than being of service to my country men and women when they need a helping hand the most.

What would you say you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? And if you had a choice would you still go indie?

As many of us know all too well, being an indie author requires a lot of hard, hard work. That and a never-ending capacity to wear so many different hats when all we really want to do is just write and leave all that other business to someone else. We’re writers and that’s our first priority. But ultimately we’re in the catbird seat. We get to control our own destiny, and I love that. And somehow, I can’t help but imagine going traditional would change things. Would bite into my freedom to work at my own pace, to write perhaps what I want, how I want, when I want. And if you’re asking me, knowing that, given a choice, would I still go indie? Well, I don’t know. Perhaps if the contract offered a whole heap of zeros in there . . . I just might!

Speaking of authors. Do you have any favorites you’d like to share? And if so, what do you love about them?

Oh gee, there are so many that I love and admire. But if I had to narrow down the field I’d have to say: Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon and Tess Gerritsen. Anne Rice was/is an original. She brought us tales of sophisticated and sexy vampires long before anyone else. And talk about a powerful sex scene, wow, this lady has that down pat.

Same for Diana Gabaldon. I love the way she drew me into the Outlander series. Slam, bam, thank you ma’am! Everything about each book, is unique. And so well written that when I wasn’t reading about the characters, I was thinking about them.

Tess Gerritsen though is in a different arena. The mystery/thriller genre that requires a deft hand and sharp mind to keep the plot reeling and the pages turning. She has all those qualities and more. She’s one of those writers I read everything she puts out. I love her writing. It’s clean and cracker-jack crisp. Something I continuously aspire to.

What would you consider the biggest life lesson you’ve learned the hard way?

That nothing lasts forever. Life happens in a blink. One minute we can have it all, or what seems like the happiest of situations, and then without even realizing it, it’s gone. I’ve experienced what many people experience. The loss of a great job, the loss of a marriage, the loss of someone dear. And for me that was my sister. I can’t say that my every waking thought has been filled with regret: things I wished I’d said to her, things I wished I’d done differently. But they’re there. Like a needling reminder to call my children and tell them I love them, or to hug my parents . . . while I still can.

I appreciate you sharing that with us, Lauren. And if I might ask you one last question … how would you like to be remembered?

Oh, that’s easy! I want to be remembered as that sassy New York girl who loved black and white cookies, and finally made good. And for those folks out there who don’t know what black and white cookies are . . . like the state tree or state flower, it’s New York’s state cookie.




Delightful Author Effrosyni Moschoudi is all about her homeland, Greece. One of my favorite places in the world. To learn about her novels, click on the cover below.


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