Category Archives: advice-like

accepting Jo March

As 2009 quickly approaches the halfway point, I constantly stop and think of how just a few short weeks ago, I could’ve easily chalked up the entire first six months as a failure.

Oh, there were a small smattering of successes, but there were also disappointments seemingly lurking around each corner just waiting to take the place of those successes. And right away, I tried to throw my long-used  self diagnosis in the ring.

Quite a few years ago, I was stricken with a terrible malady of epic literary proportions. I, in fact, gave myself the deadly diagnosis of Jo March Syndrome. Jo March — the tomboy, writer, next to oldest sister in Little Women, dreamer, always longing for adventure, travel, etc. That one. Oh, trust me. I went through the list of Little Women characters and picked out traits I shared with each one, but Jo fit me to a tee. Never would I realize how perfect of a fit it was if events of the first half of the year hadn’t unfolded as they did.

Very early in the year, well, in fact, late last year, my closest friend announced her forthcoming marriage inside the walls of a local florist/coffee shop. Amidst the wonderful caffeinated and inspirational smells and sights, I felt a dark, loneliness creep in. Sure, I was happy for her, but just as Jo finds it difficult to let her sister Meg make the leap to marriage, I found this difficult as well. Just as Jo longed for everything in her life to remain the same and she didn’t want to be left behind, I longed for life to go on as it had before.

Soon after, Jo, through no fault of her own, falls into restlessness, growing pains, dissatisfaction and discomfort. Over the next few weeks and months, I found myself shunning the things I used to enjoy. I stopped blogging. I cut out Twitter. I couldn’t stand reading about the successes and failures of others as they didn’t help me any. I longed for close friendship, support, empathy and concerned phone calls. Truthfully, none of this ever came and when in late March a beloved piano teacher passed away, a part of me died with her and terrible, unmentionable thoughts crossed my mind. To me, all hope and inspiration had suddenly vanished.

After I’d finally gotten the worst-case scenario out of my thoughts, I vowed to run away. During all this stress, turmoil and uncertainty, though, I failed to realize there were people — people not having the diagnosis of Jo March Syndrome — who were going through the process with me. My boyfriend suffered too. Having spent a month with my friend, he’d gotten to know her as another sister and ironically enough, my friend’s wedding was to take place just two days after his sister celebrated her 10-year wedding anniversary. As I fidged and pulled myself out of yet another bout of depression, his mother always reminded, “This too shall pass.”

And it did. In much the same way that all dreaded and feared events pass, it soared to new heights of perfection. One step came right after the other in a smooth and natural way and nearly six months of dread and worry culminated into one weekend of new memories and fresh snapshots of the future — a future not to dread, but to embrace.

Now, I’m writing about it which, I suppose, is satisfying another symptom of Jo March Syndrome.

But, as I was leaving the wedding reception and all  the events of the past weekend and months came back to me, I made maybe the most important realization of all. If I was, in fact, living out Jo March Syndrome, then I was nearing the end of it because after all my longing, writing, dreaming and depression, everything felt complete and all I wanted to do was go home and get on with life.

In much the same way many literary heroines realize — Jo March, Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara — I was ready to go home and start up the next chapter.

There’s much more to come.


But, wait a minute…

I plumb forgot the resippie, didn’t I?  Hold yer horses. The resippie……..

will remain a secret fur now. Until I’ve perfected it, that is. You see, I made it directly as soon as we arrived home from Floridy and it sent RP and Grizelda to they sick beds for quite a while, so I really must do some major tweakin’ on it.

Also, the good pastor has agreed to write a column this afternoon after church on the efficiency of his power pulpit and how it improves the overall atmosphere of the church.

Maybe a little later on this week, I’ll have some serious additions to the paper as Scout will be writin’ about her experience in her friend’s wedding and the cascade of emotions she felt in bein’ a part of it. And mebbe, just mebbe, she might get brave and share some quite excitin’ information that should make all the readers happy.

Like I said, though, jest hold on about the resippie. Gotta work out the bugs. Those danged Japanese beetles….

On a more serious note: A guest column

Hi again, everyone.  Scout here.  First of all, thanks to Editor Hogenswallow for allowing me to interrupt the news of Bell Bottom Creek to do a little explaining as to why I pretty much dropped off the map.  Let me try to start where I left off when I ended Scout About.

As you know, I had a full plate of monstrosities and wasn’t dealing well with any of them. In the middle of the deaths and neverending suffocation from growing pains, I lost all motivation to write and just up and quit my blog. Just like that.

But now, I have to tell you about something that happened recently and though I took it the hardest of any of the bad news I’d experienced this year, it ultimately motivated me to start blogging again.

It all started with a few notes and ended with a complete song. Or, at least, I have to make myself believe that it will.


I never really wanted to take lessons from her. Never had the desire to start back with piano. So, when it was time to go over to her house, I ran away and climbed a tree. I thought I’d learned all I’d ever need. As luck would have it, I got tired and came down.

Mrs. P wasn’t the most traditional of piano teachers. Her stubby fingers looked better suited for the constant baking she did rather than the running over of the ivories, but she had been making magic on the keyboard for years. I came to her small house on Etheridge Street expecting a review of  the usual chords and measures and left with the knowledge that I’d gained a grandmother.

Mrs. P didn’t only teach piano. I found that out from the very first lesson. She had been successful in the business for over 40 years because she taught life and she taught it to people from all over our area. A visit to her house brought the unique mixture of Clair de Lune, homemade coconut pie, pictures of her children and grandchildren and conversations on topics ranging from church to the best place in the area to eat catfish.

The piano served as the centerpiece and learning the notes served as the driving force behind each and every Tuesday afternoon and the person I’d once dreaded meeting became the person who made my week. We began venturing out her home and on two occasions she invited me to be her “daughter” at her church’s mother/daughter banquet. I beamed at the thought that out of dozens of “pupils” (her word for “students”) I’d been picked to be her “daughter.” 

Then she moved away. She moved to Lexington to be with one of her daughters and then later moved to Cordova. Initially, I never forgot her birthday and made sure I sent regular letters. Always always at the tip of my tongue hung the phrase, “I need to go see her.” And then I missed a couple of birthdays and as I knew she was approaching 90, my phrase changed to, “I need to go see her before she dies.”


A couple of Saturdays ago, I attended the funeral of Mrs. P.  The service was long and full of wonderful piano music and was attended by many friends and family members. Mrs. P’s nephew got up to read a “work by a former student” and the work turned out to be something I’d written for Mrs. P 13 years ago.

Walking back down the street after the funeral, I was inconsolable.


Over the past few days since the funeral I’ve been reliving these overwhelming feelings of depression that come over me every time I go over those words, “I need to go see her before she dies.” I feel as though the funeral served as closure for so many people. The usual, “Oh, she’s in a better place.” But that’s not been so for me. I’ve felt nothing but regret, guilt and sadness that I didn’t act quickly enough. As I told my boyfriend, I feel like a part of me is dead. That simple yet powerful inspiration that was my guiding force for the better part of my growing years.  The hearkening back to happier days. So many thoughts, terrible thoughts, have been running through my head lately. Unspeakable thoughts.

How will I ever get over this? I have no idea. But, my dear friend  is right and I’ve been thinking about her advice a lot lately. Never ever pass up the opportunity to go see someone and tell them you love them. Please do it before it’s too late.

And Mrs. Pritchett wouldn’t want me to stop blogging. She wouldn’t want me to stop practicing. For writing. For piano. For life.