Do It Again

While I'm getting ready to bake my pies and pound cake for Thanksgiving (and no doubt most of you are busy as well), I figured I'd do what network television does during holidays . . . run repeats. There's no law that says I can't repeat a blog column.

On the first of March, April, and May, respectively, I ran character blogs for the three main characters of my mainstream, If These Walls Could Talk, which was released May 29th. Following that well-worn advertaising technique of mind saturation, I'm running them again through Wednesday. If you haven't read the book, you should find them entertaining. Even if you have read the book, this is first-person text that was never intended for inclusion in the book. The purpose is to give readers a feel for each characters' mood and personality at the time immediately prior to the start of the novel.

And to saturate your brains, of course, with my novels. (The characters from my upcoming Once Upon A Project will be introducing themselves to you via guest blogs after January 1st.)

Character: Dawn Young from Brooklyn, NY
Book: If These Walls Could Talk, published May 29, 2007
Setting: October 2001, Brooklyn, NY

My name is Dawn Young. I live in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn with my husband, Milo, and our son, Zach. Our twelfth-floor apartment has great views of the Manhattan skyline . . . or maybe I should say had. Sadly, the skyline isn’t what it used to be since the terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center last month, on what had been a glorious late summer morning. Now all that’s left of the Twin Towers is a mountain of rubble . . . and a cloud of dust as a heartbreaking reminder all can see for miles around. The dust will eventually fade. The memory of that day won't.

Hundreds of people are down there working at the site, clearing away the rubble and pulling out bodies. You mark my words. Lung ailments in New York are going to shoot up in a year or two. It can’t be healthy, breathing in all that dust and toxins. And the odor of decomposing bodies isn’t exactly good for a person’s respiratory system, either.

I was worried about after-effects of the attacks on Zach, who’s just nine. The truth is, he’s handling it better than me. Of course, Manhattan is kind of distant for him. His world is pretty much confined to Brooklyn. Milo and I, on the other hand, go there to work five days a week. I’m a nervous wreck. I can barely breathe on the subway. I find myself eying my fellow riders carefully, my suspicions rising when I see someone who looks Middle Eastern. I know it’s not right — I’m not behaving any better than the white folks who’ve been keeping my people down for hundreds of years — but I can’t help it. Who knows when some maniac might try to do underground what some other maniacs did so far above ground? And all the innocent people they'll take with them.

Those people in the Towers that day did nothing wrong. They were just going about their business, trying to make a living, like Milo and me. I just can’t imagine the fear of those people trapped on floors above the impact zone. One minute, to be laughing and joking about what was on TV last night, and the next faced with a horrible choice between burning to death or drowning in smoke. A lot of those poor folks ended up jumping out of windows 85 stories or more above street level. And every one of them was something special to somebody: Somebody’s son or daughter, somebody’s mother or father, somebody’s sibling, somebody’s dear friend. That awful morning left gaping holes in the lives of a lot of people. It easily could have been Milo or me, leaving our Zach with one less parent and changing his life forever. Both of us work in high rise buildings in midtown. I’m on the seventeenth floor, and he’s on the twenty-eighth. I know, I know. That’s too low for an airplane to slam into. Like that's really gonna make me feel safe. Before September 11th it never bothered me, but now I feel that it’s too damn high. If I never have to ride another elevator in my life, I’d be happy.

Fat chance of that happening. I can’t even get to my apartment without riding an elevator, unless, of course, the times when
both elevators are out of service. Which lately has been happening a lot more often than I’m comfortable with.

When I was a kid growing up in East New York, the elevators terrified me. I’d be okay if I was with somebody, but I’d never ride by myself. If the last person got out before I did, I’d get off with them and take the stairs the rest of the way. That probably explains why I was so skinny as a kid.

These days, I’m what you call statuesque. Milo loves the way I’m built. He likes all the meat on my nice round booty and my big boobs. To be honest, I rather like my body myself. I’m not fat, just big. I do have a defined waistline. But I know I’m carrying more weight than I ought to be, even with my height. I’m tall, five-nine. When I wear heels I’m often taller than Milo, who’s barely five-eleven. I’m bigger than he is, too. Milo has always been on the thin side, and in the years since we got married he’s put on a few pounds around his middle, but that’s all.

I keep telling myself that by the time I turn forty I’ll be in shape. Not toothpick thin like all those women you see on TV. I want to be gloriously full-figured, but I want to be under two hundred pounds. It means dropping about forty pounds. I should be able to do it. I’ve still got a couple of years.

At this point in my life I’m too heavy to be huffing and puffing my way up twelve flights of stairs when the elevators are out at home. The building I live in has eighteen floors, technically seventeen when you consider that there’s no 13. Lots of buildings in New York go from floor 12 to 14 because people are superstitious. Still, with a building that tall I don’t see why they couldn’t have put in a third elevator. Even when one elevator is out, it takes forever to get down to the lobby.

I really wish Milo and I could afford a house. Not some silly co-op, not even a condo. Most of those are just glorified apartments. So what, they put in vanities and movie-star lights in the bathroom, parquet floors, and oak kitchen cabinets. It’s still an apartment. The residents still have to pack up their laundry and bring it downstairs.

My dream is to one day have a real house, two stories, with a front yard and a back yard with trees. A formal dining room with a big, beautiful table and a cabinet to display all my china instead of a nook tucked between the living room and the kitchen. Lots of windows dressed with beautiful treatments. A kitchen big enough to put a table for casual meals. A
laundry room, where I can have my own washer and dryer. And Zach could have the dog he wants.

To me, that’s the ultimate in convenience, having your own washer and dryer. Lots of people in the building have them now — dishwashers too — but they’re not supposed to. They’ll be in big trouble if the management finds out they’re there.

It’s nice to have dreams, but the reality is that I’ve got a much better shot at success of losing those forty pounds than I do of ever owning a home. This is New York, traditionally one of the most expensive real estate markets there is. Neither Milo nor I know anyone who has a house. Everyone on both sides of our families, plus all our friends are tenants, paying rent every month. Rent that goes up every year, I might add.

Don’t get me wrong. We live pretty good, better than a whole lot of people. We take a nice vacation every summer. Our car is always a new model. And we’re some of the best-dressed folks you’ve ever seen. I just get a little jealous when I hear people at work, who commute from the Island or Jersey, or even from Queens, talking about re-paving their driveways or having their houses pressure washed or painted. Sure, some of them make more money than I do, but some of them don’t.
Makes me wonder what Milo and I are doing wrong.

Read more about Dawn Young in my novel, If These Walls Could Talk, now available in bookstores everywhere (and if they're sold out, they can order it!!!).


Gwyneth Bolton said...

That was great. And what a great idea. I like this first person connection to the character. Have fun preparing for Thanksgiving.


Donna said...

I loved this. Dawn sounds a bit like me (physically speaking). I enjoyed this and look forward to the other character blogs.

Looks like I have another book to add to my TBR list...

Happy Thanksgiving! And remember, calories don't count on Thanksgiving day.

bettye griffin said...

Gwyneth and Donna,
I'm glad you're enjoying these. Don't forget to tune in tomorrow.

So calories don't count on turkey day, eh? Tell that to my tummy!

Patricia W. said...

Thanks Bettye! I've got this one on my TBR pile so I guess I'd better get to reading!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!