Sunday, November 29, 2009

Response to “It’s Over.” (this piece was published a few weeks ago - read it first if you have't yet.

Copyright 2009, aaron paul lazar

When I found you that morning in the barn – your neck encircled in that rope, all purple and swollen – you were barely breathing. If it hadn’t been for that rotten beam, you would have died, my friend. It makes me shudder just to think of the horrible possibility.

If you had been successful… I hate to think of it. Never again would we sit in your glider, admiring your beautiful flower gardens, and exploring deep thoughts that pass the time so pleasantly. My heart breaks to think of that ending.

Why didn’t you call me? Why didn’t you tell me you were sad? And why didn’t I notice when we sat and talked in front of your woodstove drinking your superb Riesling and chatting about art? I hadn’t the slightest hint of your inner demons, and you know I pride myself on being observant of human nature.

You have so much to offer the world. Your kinds eyes and gentle manner have soothed many a child. I brag about your sumptuous gardens to all my friends. You have a superb eye for photography and I know someday you’ll be world-renowned, with a coffee table book filled with amazing photographs of the wild.

But most of all, you are a writer who enthralls, thrills, comforts, and teaches. I fell in love with your characters in your first book, and it’s still my favorite. I know some day your books will line the shelves of bookstores world wide, and that they’ll fill people’s homes and hearts. That’s why I keep your books locked in ziplock bags and put them away for safety. I know they’ll be treasures in the future. It frustrates me to no end that you haven’t been “discovered” yet, at least in the best-seller realm.

I know you’ve been worried about the job hunt. I’ve been so worried that you’ll jump in a new direction that won’t support your primary role as an author. That would not be good for you, or the world. It would be a disaster! Sure, you’d be good at all those things you keep thinking up, but what you are is a writer! Now’s the time to prove that to the agents, to push like hell and get them to recognize your value! Please don’t let the job hunt interfere with your true calling.

As I sit here by your hospital bed and watch you struggle to breathe, I feel like the world’s worst failure. What could I have done to have prevented this?


P.S. Did I ever tell you that you're my best friend in the world?


Note: This is the response to the piece I posted a few weeks ago from the man who was literally at his rope's end. I wrote it to illustrate how communication is so often lost between two people, and how misinterpretations can lead to horrific endings. Let me know you think, below.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hi, Folks!

Here's hoping those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving has a wonderful holiday. We sure did - I cooked for the whole family and it was a fantastic day with my wife, mother-in-law, three daughters, the grandkids, Balto, and Toby. And yes, the food I made was exactly the same as Gus prepares in Upstaged, the second LeGarde mystery!

If you're not off shopping at the malls (LOL), please join me today (Saturday, 11-28-09) on Barry Eva's radio show "A Book and a Chat" from 11:00-11:30 EST. We'll have a lovely talk about my latest books, writing, and whatever else comes up in this friendly half hour. We'd love to have you in the audience! Just click on the link from your computer, and turn up the sound. Hope to see you there. ;o)


P.S. Sunday, Nov. 29th: You can listen to the recorded show here:  Podcast

Friday, November 13, 2009

It’s over.

No longer will I hold my arms open and welcome you to my home as “friend,” waiting for your eyes to bore into me and squash me to the ground.

No longer will I seat you in my room of treasures, wondering if you’ll ever notice the soft patina of the cherry wood, or comment on the colors so carefully blended, or the subtle beauty of the cherished Oriental handed down by ancestors long lost while you gloat about your friend’s lovely homes.

No longer will I pour you a glass of my best wine–hoping it bears up under your scrutiny–and gently place it beside you while you vomit your latest accomplishment as I smile and listen and… grovel.

I hate that about myself, but I was raised to be polite. But damn it, you never stop talking.

Nor will I listen to your long list of accomplishments or acquisitions, feeling belittled and betrayed by your absence of empathy. Do you ever detect that flicker of annoyance in my eyes? That glazed-over “help me” expression?

Of course not. You don’t look at me. You hold your wine in those long brown fingers and talk about yourself while your own dark eyes glow in appreciation of your own words.

Do you ever notice how much you talk? How I sit and nod and say the appropriate things to each of your new revelations? How I try to squeeze in a sentence or two and am immediately ground under your wheels in your constant games of one-up-manship?

No longer will I be forced to bear your words responding to my latest decision to try something–anything–instead of wallowing in this land of no-one-wants-me. Never is my new-found passion the "right thing for me," the appropriate interest, the proper fit.

Yet, when I try to force you to listen by gently prodding you, kidding you, making you take notice of my latest interest–you chide me and say you’re surprised I hadn’t learned about this when I lived in Boston 30 years ago, where everyone was doing it. Your knowledge in the field is deep and well renowned. So you say. Once again, I am belittled. Once again, I plunge into an abyss of worthlessness.

When I discover an interest in working with the disabled, you frown and say I haven’t the skills. “Who would hire you? You have no experience.” You toss out your own dalliances in the field as cavalierly as you can, bragging about famous connections. No, you find fault with it all, and tell me with tongue in cheek that maybe I should try… being an author.

Damn, that stings.

I mention my newest book, a saucy expression crosses your face and you say with near distain I liked your first book better, when everyone else disagrees.

Your words seem to matter, cut deeper, than all the praise in the world. Why?

Still, I hand you signed copies of all my novels. You never offer to pay for them, even when you stop by to pick one up to give to a friend. And when I mention the price, your eyebrows shoot to the moon, as if shocked I actually would charge you, my privileged friend. So I back down and donate it, once again.

You frown at me for not being a best-selling author yet, and tell me about your friends who are. You say, “You need national coverage,” as if I haven’t been trying for years to get there, to sell a hundred thousand books in a year. You show me hardcover books with jackets and gold printing and say, “that’s how your books should appear,” as if I WANT my books forever released in trade paperback.

You show up unannounced, and expect me to stop dinner, or playtime with grandkids, or my outdoor projects, to stand and nod my head and say, “Wow,” with every new announcement, for grueling hours at a time.

Yet I call you friend. Yet I know you believe you’re doing me a favor by granting me the privilege of your experience and advice. And yet tonight, I don’t care.

Of course that’s a lie. I hate myself for being your doormat. I hate it worse than the rejection I got yesterday from Home Depot. And I hate it more than being a scientist with years of brilliant discoveries, elegant solutions, with scores of patents lining my walls. Overqualified, undervalued.

That’s me.

I care so much it woke me up tonight and made me walk outside to the barn.

When you stand at my grave, will you bow your head in a knowing fashion and say, “I knew he was fragile?”

Will you have regrets?

Or will you find another patsy to call your friend?

I’ll never send this, because it’s over. And like I said, I was raised better than that.

Sweet relief now rests in my grasp, ready to free me from the failures, but especially from you.

I snap the bristled rope in my hands, testing it to see if it will hold, and glance at the beam overhead.

The swallows make unsettled noises in their nests. They probably wouldn’t hold up to your inspection either.


Okay, now let me explain. ;o)

At a recent “career conference” I took a seminar in communication entitled “The Three Deadly Sins: what not to do in a job interview.” It actually didn’t have all that much to do with job hunting, but it was a fascinating session where I bumped into dozens of past colleagues who like me, are still searching for work. It got me thinking about misinterpretations and misunderstandings, and somehow brought me to the idea of letting emotions enlarge to outlandish proportions, and using them to drive a plot.

I worried and wondered about some of the folks I met, especially those who seemed rather fragile. If I–a normally confident guy who had always seen the glass as half full–could be occasionally be reduced to someone who feels worthless during this difficult job hunting time–then what would happen to them? Armed with new intentions to stay in touch and help them along the way, my writer’s mind wandered in not-so-pleasant directions.

I pictured some without family or friends, and how hard it would be to stay upbeat if you were alone. I blended ideas of snippets heard at the conference. One fellow–a scientist–had mentioned being rejected for a job at Home Depot. My heart went out to him, because I’d just applied to Wegmans earlier that week.

Then I read S.W. Vaughn’s letter from her character, Gabriel. While it was tongue-in-cheek and totally delicious, it prompted me to want to write something in that format, especially after getting really ticked off at a guy who calls himself my friend.

I’ve also become enamored in recent times of the use of repetition in writing and played around with it a bit here.

This is what came out. Sometimes it’s fun to let your imagination run a bit rampant.

Will it turn into my next novel? I’m not sure.

(And don’t worry. I’m not holding a rope in my hands.)


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Goodbye to Headaches

I've suffered from headaches all of my adult life. They're ranged from daily morning headaches that seemed to come from the sinus area, to sharp, knee-buckling migraines that could only be assuaged by sleep. I remember lying on my pillow in a darkened room while Dale tried to keep the little ones quiet downstairs... the noise of my head rubbing against the pillow fabric was torture.

Driving often precipitated a headache, and of course loud television sound tracks were guaranteed to get me going. But most of all, I woke every morning (or in the middle of the night) with throbbing headaches that wouldn't go away.

After suffering for years, and after dealing with my family's more severe health issues that always took the forefront (MS, childhood development issues, teen rebellion issues, etc.) I finally saw a headache specialist.

He prescribed a very strong medicine that had pretty scary side effects. (heart related risks) But I was desperate, so I tried it. I remember him saying it would "get worse before it got better" each time you took it. Driving to work one sunny morning, I took a dose when a headache hit. The head pain grew almost intolerable, then backed off a little. The headache didn't go away completely, and I got very sick to my stomach.

I tried it a few more times, then got so fed up I went to the market and bought and over the counter solution. Advil, blue liquid capsules. I figured if it was over the counter, it couldn't be too bad for you, right? After all, it was just a liquid, too, which should pass through my stomach easily and not cause ulcers or anything. Right? Hmm. Read on.

The Advil helped immediately! Pain was gone and I was thrilled. I started taking it automatically every morning (2 pills) and sometimes two at noon and two at night. I'd take it in the middle of the night to resolve the headaches that woke me up, and it worked. By golly, it worked! It was cheap, and it worked!

Then I saw my doctor for something totally unrelated - a badly strained back. I'd never mentioned the Advil to him, since it was "over the counter" and it was already helping the headaches. Why bother? But this time he recommended an ibuprofen type drug to help the swelling. I told him I'd already increased my Advil to help the pain, but it hadn't helped much. I was taking six Advil a day.

He looked at me with those gentle eyes of his that suddenly grew wary. "How long have you been taking it?"

"Ten years. But not this much. Usually I just take two in the morning and sometimes during the day."

"Every single day?"

"Pretty much."

It was then that reality hit, square between the eyes. He said I was at high risk for developing bleeding ulcers, and that he'd sent many people to the ER who almost died from such because of taking too much aspirin or Advil. He told me I was probably having "rebound" headaches from the Advil, and that my body reacted with headaches when I didn't take it.

Frankly, I didn't believe the rebound bit, but he scared the heck out of me with the stomach ulcer warning. So I stopped. Cold turkey. And I had two weeks of solid head pain.

Eventually, the daily headaches lessened. Some days I didn't have any. But they still showed up and I had to simply tough it out. He was right about the rebound, but the Tylenol he suggested as a solution didn't cut the pain in the least.

So I suffered. Until last spring, when I was waiting to get my hair cut at Lisa Marie's Hair Salon in Livonia, NY. In the middle of reading a newspaper article, I sat straight up in my seat. A scent had wafted over to me from Lisa's station - something so powerful and pleasant and uplifting that I couldn't stay put. I wandered over to her (how bold was that?!?) and asked her what it was. On her table she had a collection of little brown bottles with colorful labels on them. She lifted one to me and let me sniff. Then she put a little on my hand and rubbed it in. I think it was the Thieves blend of essential oils (cloves, cinammon, lemon, rosemary, eucalyptus radiata), or maybe the Christmas Spirit blend (cloves, orange, spruce). I can't remember now. All I remember is that I was attracted to this stuff like a character in a cartoon. It was as if I lifted off the ground and floated toward it, then inhaled it like an aphrodisiac or a drug! While she cut my hair she told me about her personal experiences with the oils, how the Peace and Calming blend had helped her little son focus better in the classroom (verified by his teacher, who didn't know what Lisa had tried), and about her brother who'd been in a horrible accident, and how the oils had helped relieve his pain where no other meds could. And so much more.

I was both intrigued and skeptical. I wanted to learn more, to be sure it wasn't some kind of scam product. I soon learned that these little bottles of oil were supremely legit - used by the Beth Israel hospital to treat patients and by many other fine physicians around the world. They are purely organic and from the earth. Nature's bounty, carefully processed with the highest quality standards and organically produced. I fell in love with the oils, bought a starter kit with nine bottles (Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon, Frankincense, Purification, Thieves, Valor, Panaway, and Peace and Calming) and started to experiment to see what they'd do for me and my family.

That's when Peppermint Oil became a major part of my life. I learned that in addition to its many other properties (see list below), it was known to relieve headache pain. I applied a couple of drops to the nape of my neck, to my temples, and across my forehead - but not too close to my eyes, as this stuff is VERY concentrated and can make your eyes water. One drop of peppermint oil is a s strong as TWENTY cups of peppermint tea.

In less than ten minutes, my headache simply vanished. The relief lasted a few hours. I reapplied, and the same thing happened. I started to get all nervous because I was afraid to get too excited about something that affected such a huge problem. How could this work? Why would it work? I researched like mad, and found the whole essential oils story to be steeped in history - from ancient Egyptian practices to those mentioned in the Bible. Eastern cultures have used them for years, taking the goodness from plants, trees, and shrubs and using them to treat all sorts of conditions. I wore my peppermint into a Thai restaurant, and one of the servers, of Chinese heritage, said it smelled just like the "Chinese medicine" (oil) her family uses to rub on the forehead for headaches!

So it wasn't new. It just wasn't widely embraced *yet* but our Western world.

I don't go anywhere without my peppermint anymore. I just ordered two more 15ml bottles to be sure I don't run out. I keep it by my bedside, in the kitchen, in my car, and in my pocket. One bottle does last a long time, but now that I've found such a super solution I want it available all the time.

I've tried it on my cousin - her headache went away. My mom wanted to try it on her sciatica. I was skeptical that it would help, but now she sleeps every night pain free. She figured that one out on her own and just bought another bottle of it! She also says a dab of it on her forehead keeps the gnats away when she's gardening. She lives near a swamp and has TONS of those pesky things. I've met other oil lovers now (at expos and conventions) who have similar stories, accounts of peppermint (and the other oils) working wonders in their lives. My life has changed dramatically now, and everywhere I go, I suggest a different oil or combination to my friends. I guess you could say I'm newly obsessed, but in a good way.

And yes. I'm going to write a book about it!


I'm not a doctor. I don't claim that peppermint will work for everyone's headaches. But it's worth a try. If you're interested in getting a kit or a single bottle, here's my website:

(note: there's no "www" in the address!)

P.S. If you're interested, I recommend you sign up as a "distributor." I did. There's no pressure or obligation, you just get your future oil purchases at 24% off retail if you do. And then, if you fall for them like I did, you can share them with your friends at the same discount. (you also make a little money yourself for selling them, it's a legitimate business that many people actually make a very good living on!) Sort of like Avon products, but for your health and home. :o)


Here's a list of ways folks have used peppermint in the past:

o PEPPERMINT - (Mentha piperita) is one of the oldest and most highly regarded herbs for soothing digestion. Jean Valnet, M.D., studied peppermint's effect on the liver and respiratory systems. Dr. William N. Dember of the University of Cincinnati studied peppermint's ability to improve concentration and mental accuracy. Alan Hirsch, M.D., studied peppermint's ability to directly affect the brain's satiety center, which triggers a sense of fullness after meals. Peppermint is grown and distilled at the Young Living Farms.

· Put a drop of Peppermint on your tongue and/or one under your nose to increase alertness and concentration-very helpful if you're starting to feel tired when driving!

· Rub 4-6 drops over your stomach and around your navel to relieve indigestion.

· Add a drop of Peppermint oil to water or herbal tea to relieve heartburn or nausea.

· Massage several drops of Peppermint oil on an area of joint or muscle injury to reduce inflammation (around, but not directly on, an open wound).

· Rub several drops of Peppermint oil on the bottoms of your feet to reduce fever.

· Apply a drop of Peppermint oil topically on unbroken skin to stop itching.

· Inhale Peppermint oil before and during a workout to boost your mood and reduce fatigue.

· To relieve a headache rub a drop of Peppermint oil on your temples, forehead, over the sinuses (stay away from the eyes) and/or on the back of your neck.

· Diffuse Peppermint oil in the room while studying to improve concentration and accuracy; then inhale Peppermint oil while taking a test to improve recall.

· Place a drop of Peppermint oil on your tongue, or put a drop in your palm or on a tissue and simply inhale the aroma to relieve congestion from a cold or sinus problem.

· Add Peppermint oil to food as a flavoring and a preservative.

· To deter rats, mice, ants or cockroaches, smear a few drops of Peppermint oil along their path or point of entry to deter them.

· To kill aphids add 4-5 drops of Peppermint oil to 4 ounces of water and spray the plants.

· Drink a drop of Peppermint oil mixed in a glass of cold water to cool off on a hot day.

· Place a drop of Peppermint oil on the tongue to stop bad breath.

· Inhale the fragrance of Peppermint oil to curb the appetite and lessen the impulse to overeat.