Friday, March 11, 2011

Memory...the diary we all carry with us. ~Oscar Wilde

Hey all,

Another guest blogger is here today.  Fellow Loose Id author and also a member of Truly Madly Deeply Romance Authors, Elizabeth Silver writes some awesome stories.  Let's find out something about her, shall we?

International woman of mystery and wearer of many hats, Elizabeth Silver is a writer, a worker, a nerd, and a self-proclaimed internet junkie. An avid reader all of her life, Elizabeth also began writing at an early age, and fell in instant, undeniable love. It's been a long and wicked affair, but literature is damn good in bed with a cup of cocoa.

With her feet planted about halfway between New York and Philadelphia, Elizabeth has often been accused of having her head in the clouds, although what she's really doing is just thinking really hard. Elizabeth can frequently be found at the local diners or coffee shops with internet access and bottomless refills, working on new story ideas on her own or with her close friend and co-author, Jenny Urban.

Got you curious?  Me too!  So let's take this time to welcome her to the blog and see what she has to say.  Welcome, Elizabeth!!!


Thank you, CJ, for this wonderful opportunity to visit your blog. I have to admit, I went through a lot of ideas, trying to come up with the perfect blog post to share with you. I only hope this one does the job. ☺

What I want to talk about is the funny miracle of human memory. Stop and think, if you will, about how our lives are just collections of little snippets of time, mental photographs and over-exposed video from our childhood reinforced by the stories our family tells about us when we get together for birthdays and holidays. My eldest sister-in-law loves to tell tales about how cute and demanding my husband was when he was little, the late in life baby for his parents, and sometimes I swear that I can see him like the little toddler she remembers, up at sunrise and ready for a whole day of playing.

Memory can play tricks on you, too. When I was eighteen, the Boyfriend (now Spouse) and I went to Scotland with a bunch of silly Americans for the first proper Scottish Highlander: the Series convention. It was matched up along with a regular science fiction con, much to the Boyfriend’s delight, but all I cared about were my Immortals and Watchers. There was the regular convention, and a long, gorgeous tour of the Highlands afterward for us Americans that I’ve got an entire photo album full of. But if you ask me or anyone close to me about that trip, none of that will be what comes to mind first.

Instead, I’ll tell you that drug- and bomb-sniffing border dogs like chocolate just as much as normal pups.

We’d flown all night, from New York to Glasgow; coach seats, Northern Lights out the window, a screaming baby in the back of the compartment, white-knuckled at the thought of flying over a flipping ocean. When at last we landed and shuffled into the queue to get into the airport proper, none of us really cared much about the security dogs. The worst I had was a couple packs of cigarettes and a few chocolate assortments from the factory I worked in – gifts for specific people. Nothing I couldn’t live without, and nothing I wasn’t half sure customs wouldn’t give a fart over, anyhow.

So the German Shepard and his handler came down the line – I’m looking for drugs, looking for bombs – the dog’s head damn near swiveling off his body when he passed me. On the second pass, of course, Fido ignored the yummy smells coming from my bag and walked on by, but I was marked.

“You.” A customs officer pointed to me as I bee-bopped past him, dressed in pastels, my long hair in a sloppy tail and the Boyfriend trailing about ten feet behind me, looking like the Spectre of Death, pale and all in black. “Come here.”

So we went over, and listened to the officer as he listed the various things one was forbidden from bringing into Scotland. Guns, knives, drugs, explosives… “So,” he asked, “do ye have any records?”

I blinked sleepily at the Boyfriend, who had managed a couple of hours of sleep. Clearly that made him custodian of the communal brain. “Records?” I asked him in a hushed whisper. “Did you…?”

He shook his head. “No. You?” It was beyond us why anyone would bring records on an airplane. Hell, I hadn’t even been able to find a needle for my mom’s turntable in over two years.

As we continued to whisper back and forth, worried that we’d somehow missed something, other customs agents began to close in on our little group. And then, suddenly, I understood. We were, after all, two nations separated by a common language.

“Oh!” I said, reaching into my purse. “I have this CD! He’s at the convention we’re going to!”

I brandished my Jim Byrnes CD at the officer, who did a slow fade, closed his eyes, and just waved us on, subtly signaling the other agents to fall back.

It bothers me, a bit, that I can’t remember the names of most of the people I spent the following two weeks with. We did all the usual convention things for that first weekend, and then went all over the Highlands, having what I’m sure was a grand adventure, if the pictures are anything to go by.

There are other stories from that trip, of course. There’s the story of the Menacing Spider that Would Not Die. The tale of how Liz learned that you never, ever water down good scotch with ice. And of course there’s the Glasgow karaoke bar full of kilted guys singing “It’s Raining Men.” But the story of how I almost got arrested by the Scottish border officials over a box of chocolate and a blues CD is the one that, naturally, stands out the most.

But the point is that at least I have learned my lesson about the fragility of memory. That one moment, early on in my trip of my young lifetime left its mark all over my mind and recollections, so that even to this day, more than a dozen years later, when I mention that I’ve been to Scotland, and someone inevitably asks how it was, that is the first thing that comes to mind.

I learned, in a roundabout fashion, that it’s all in the pacing. You don’t want to have the best bits in the very beginning, because the rest will be forgotten far too easily. It’s helped me in my writing, in my story telling, and taught me the true value of a really good punch line.

Because, you see, it wasn’t until a year, and at least half a dozen retellings of The Story later, when I got to the “records” part of the story with a coworker, that it suddenly clicked. I ran off, and called the Boyfriend.

“Records, baby,” I said. “As in criminal records.”

There was a long pause. And then, “OHHHHHHH.”


That was great!  LOLOL  I didn't get the records part either.  I was scratching my head wondering why they'd worry about any type of music.  When we went to Scotland, no one cared what music we were listening to!   LOL

Anyway, let Elizabeth know in the comments below what you thought.  Did you figure it out?  Or like me, did you get to wait for the punch line?  

Like what you read?  To learn more about Elizabeth and what she’s up to check out her online hangouts.

Website and Blog:
Truly Madly Deeply Romance Authors:

I'll be back on Monday with a fun blog about another type of PERFECT FIRST LINE.  Don't forget to check it out!!!!

Hugs to all,
CJ England

Follow Your Dreams


Phylis said...

That was funny! I had it figured out. Can't you just hear the custom's officer? Scottish brogue and all...muttering about nutty Americans. LOL! The tales told to co-workers!

Mannouchka said...

Woo this story it very funny like Phylis said :it's a tales to tell co-workers
Have a wonderful week-end


Elizabeth Silver said...

Hi @Phylis and @Mannochka, and thank you!

I probably should be embarrassed for being so clueless, but it's such a GOOD story... *grin*