Category Archives: B. Lynn Goodman

December 10 – Giving in Paradise (California)

By B. Lynn Goodwin

Volunteers matter—especially when emergencies come up. At the Butte County Fairgrounds in November my husband and I found a mixture of hope and despair, of gratitude and anguish.

We couldn’t get near “Paradise Lost,” as reporters dubbed the Northern California town ravaged by fire, so we went to the tent cities at the Butte County Fairgrounds and the parking lot next to Walmart.  We found unparalleled need along with volunteers helping those who’d lost everything but their lives.

My husband and I took a huge stack of $50 gift cards donated by people in our church.  We followed the suggestion of a church guest, who returned to Paradise on weekends. He was there with his wife, who barely made it out ahead of the flames. They’d lost their home but had each other. He said, “Take gift cards and give them directly to the people.” My husband loved the idea.

What would you take with you if you had three minutes to escape the flames racing down the hill towards your home? Cash or pictures? A wallet or clothes? Your bankcard or your child’s favorite toy?

What if you never bought insurance because you couldn’t afford it and now you had no cash for socks or a tank of gas?

Admittedly a $50 gift card doesn’t go very far, but you wouldn’t know that from the reactions of displaced people who never dreamed of strangers handing them a gift card outside their tent. I will remember the shock and amazement on their faces forever.

All we did was offer enough to fill a gas tank or buy a family dinner or “buy my wife a pair of pants so she can get out of her pajamas,” as one man said. Even though we’ll never see those people again, some will remember they were “visited by an angel” as a middle-aged woman told us while picking up her child’s toys.

What a pleasure to see all the volunteers working directly with those displaced. Whether they were delivering the take-out donated by local restaurants, supplying hygiene products, or simply listening to those with a missing relative, they were providing a much-needed service. How the problem happened doesn’t matter. Finding a solution does. We all went there to be a part of the solution.

The people in our church rock. Their generous donations gave us a chance to play Santa and Mrs. Claus early. With so much controversy over human behavior and ethics in this country, it felt good to remember that giving makes everyone a little richer. It’s the original win-win.

B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advicewww.writeradvice.com. She’s written Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 (memoir), Talent (YA) and You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (self-help). Never Too Late and Talent are multiple award-winners. Shorter works have appeared in Hip Mama, The Sun, Dramatics Magazine, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com, and Flashquake. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network. She lives east of Berkeley and west of the San Joaquin Valley with her husband and their highly intelligent terrier.

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May 11 – Six Police Cars…What’s Up?

by B. Lynn Goodwin

BLynnGoodwin 11:49 pm: Drove about two miles from my house to Starbucks and saw six police cars…What’s up? After the events reported on Monday I can’t help worrying. Monday at about this time, a fifteen-year-old high school freshman was found face down in the high school’s swimming pool. A coach pulled him out as class was starting and tried to resuscitate him. How I hope the kids weren’t already outside to see that!

He was air-lifted to Kaiser Hospital and he died there.

There’s a memorial on the chain link fence outside the Big Gym, which was called the Boy’s Gym when I taught drama at that high school back in the seventies. Lots of notes. Lots of flowers. A couple of on-site news trucks with dishes and size zero reporters, telling the same story I just told you—except for the part about my being a teacher there in the seventies.

I know some of the drama students I taught there are now grandparents. One recently lost her husband. I keep in touch with those I’ve found on Facebook. Back when I was in my twenties . . .  but what’s the point in looking back? Students die in car accidents, and I’ll never forget the one who killed himself in his garage when he was supposed to be in my English class. He was a quiet boy who did excellent work up until his last couple of days on earth when he did nothing. Then one spring day he was out. His first absence all year. When I heard that he sat in the family car and asphyxiated himself, I was stunned

At Starbucks right now a helicopter is flying over, going south, where I saw the police cars. Please God, don’t let another tragedy be happening while I write this. Are they looking for a fugitive? Looking for a teenager responsible for bullying Monday’s drowned boy to his death?

The high school administration had virtually nothing to say, except that a lot of rumors were going around. Something more than rumors is happening right now, and I can’t get this case out of my mind. It influences my dreams. Parents should not bury their children. If there was anything I could have done to save Tim, the student who inhaled gas in his garage when he should have been in my class, I don’t know what it was, and I’ve had thirty years to think about it.

BLynnGoodwin 2I took a quick look in e-mail and found this report at 2:05:

“Danville Police are currently searching for a missing elderly man. Reynaldo Rabia, 72, was last seen in the vicinity of Laurel Drive wearing a blue striped shirt, blue vest, and khaki pants. Mr. Rabia suffers from dementia and may be confused about his location. He uses a walker with a yellow towel on the handles.”  

“Any person spotting Mr. Rabia is asked to contact Danville Police Dept immediately either at 9-1-1 or (925) 820-2144.”

I’m breathing easier, and now I have a totally different question. How can Mr. Rabia be an “elderly” man when he’s only 72 and my husband is nearly 74? He’s not elderly and neither am I—except when I stand up.

B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice,. Her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 was released in December. She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Talent, which was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book AwardGoodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com and many other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network.

April 4 – Talent

by B. Lynn Goodwin

Chapter One

This is the day that could change my life.

I’ve been living in the shadow of my big brother, Brian Mason, all of my life, but in five more minutes, I’m going to audition for San Ramos High’s spring production of Oklahoma! I’m reading for Ado Annie, who sings and dances and flirts, but if I don’t get it, maybe I can play Gertie or Ellen or somebody else with lines.

Across the room, the ugly Senior Sofa is crammed with drama’s elite in skinny jeans and faux fur jackets. They’re hoping for leads too, and they’re seniors. Where does that leave a sophomore like me? I slide my hand into my backpack and pull out two red M&Ms. The chocolate melts on my tongue and soothes my stomach.

Jenn McCall, the best singer in the sophomore class, slips in next to me, drops her backpack on the floor, and says, “How’s your diet, Sandee?”

She has an angelic voice inside her sexy body, but sometimes she acts like a diva. I’m about to tell her my diet’s fine, but I never lie. Instead, I smile and say, “I gave it up. I’m a girl, not a stick.”

“Okay, forget your figure. What’s the chocolate doing to your vocal chords? You might as well wrap your instrument in cotton.”

I eat when I get nervous, and today I’m so nervous I grabbed a whole handful of M&Ms without even thinking.

Mrs. G, the drama teacher, taps the end of her pen on her notepad like it’s any ordinary day. “We’ll continue with solos for Ado Annie. Jenn McCall, you’re up,”

Jenn wears a red skirt, a black turtleneck, and leather boots that fit like gloves. She slinks up the stairs, smiles at Mrs. G, and says, “I’m ready.”

Mister Jackson pounds out the opening chords with his strong, dark fingers, and she sings, “I’m just a girl who cain’t say no.” I don’t believe she means it, and that’s pretty sad considering what a flirt she is.

Calm down and focus, I tell myself, just as Mrs. G says the words that could change my life, “Sandee Mason, you’re next.”

I race up the stairs with my blood pulsing in my ears. A voice that sounds like my brother Bri whispers, “Go for it, Sandee.” I want to turn around and look, but I know no one will be there.

Bri disappeared in Afghanistan seven months ago.

ExcerpteTalentd from Talent, by B. Lynn Goodwin.

 

 

 

 

Goodwin

B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com. She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing) and TALENT (Eternal Press). Her work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; Good Housekeeping.com and elsewhere. She’s working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at 62.