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 Category:  Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction
  Posted: March 7, 2015      Views: 621
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Chapter 6 of the book The Tres Amigas
An advice column
"The Tres Amigas--March 8, 2015" by Spiritual Echo

The views of three diverse women living in the US, Mexico and Canada will be shared in response to questions sent in by readers in an on-going advice column.

Dear Amigas;
I just finished writing my memoir. It took four years carefully culling my memories and penning my story. Now, I want to enter the next phase...to publish, but I am fearful for several reasons. I have changed the names and places of most characters, but the ex-husband doesn't fare too well and is a lawyer. Could he sue me? And most importantly, I do not want my daughter to know some of my well-kept secrets...so how to publish without my closest ones knowing? That is the question. I have changed my pen name and do not talk about publishing. She just thinks I wrote my story for an on-line writing site and I am done. She has read some of the chapters and laughed because she remembers those "times" well. Thanks, dear writers. Signed, In a Quandary.

Could your husband, the lawyer, sue? Probably, if he ever finds out about the existence of the novel. You need to consult an attorney, specializing in publishing to get the definitive answer for your state or country. It would be a wise investment.

Unless you are a celebrity who has written a tell-all book, given that you have already changed the names, it makes no difference whether you publish this as a memoir or a book of fiction, something to consider. Presumably, the book will appeal to a certain market group and will sell based on content, not real names.

At some point, your daughter will uncover the manuscript as she has already read portions and knows of its existance. You are not asking her to read it or take sides against her parents, therefore, I would forget about the effects and continue as you planned.

Anyone who spends four years writing a memoir and does not want it read by friends and family was not motivated by revenge, but rather a need to write a story. Good writing is based in raw truth, and you need to ask yourself whether the information in the book will cause damage or is simply your truth from the life you lived. If that is so, do not hold yourself hostage to anyone else's opinion, except your own. A four year investment should be given the room to earn interest.

I doubt either your daughter or ex-husband will look for or find a book written using a pseudonym. In the 'tragic' event your novel becomes a best-seller, the publicity of a lawsuit will send sales through the roof. Hey, you'll be able to afford the best lawyers and likely your publisher will pay the attorney fees.

As for your daughter being privy to your innermost thoughts and experiences, I suspect the truth will bring you closer when she discovers her mother isn't a saint and her childhood wasn't spent in Eden.

When it comes to the question of whether or not someone can sue you, I recommend you contact a lawyer familiar with the pros and cons of publishing. You say you have changed the names and places of MOST of the characters, but you need to change all the names of people still living as well as places that they are familiar with. As long as you publish this under a pseudonym and a title they will not connect to you, you should have no problem. If you do not want anyone to know your secrets, I also recommend you not tell your daughter the title of your book and be sure not to keep a copy where she can find it.

Dear Amigas;
I am recently divorced after being married for eighteen years. I am planning on starting dating, but don't know how. What are the rules? Is the three date limit really when you have to sleep together? Who pays? What about dating sites? Signed, Rusty Dater

There is no rule that states you have to sleep with someone after a specific number of dates. But you are getting ahead of yourself. The decision of who pays depends upon what arrangement you and your 'date' come up with before you go out.

I would focus more on where you plan to meet your prospective date, rather than on when you should or should you not sleep with him or her. Do not do what many others do which is going to a bar to meet someone. There are many places that are far better such as church groups, book clubs; focus on places that will include people of similar interests.

I know a few people that recommend dating sites, but personally, I do not. People tend to exaggerate and worse, just lie about who they are. My advice is to take it slow and just wait until you find someone you are interested in and who is interested in you.

After eighteen years of marriage, being out of practice is natural. The rules have changed somewhat, but the basics have not. Presumably you miss male companionship, but it may be too early to consider shopping for a new mate.

It would be helpful for you to take a long look at your marriage and perform a relationship autopsy, writing out the qualities you admired and those that led to the end of the marriage. Using a dating-site's questionnaire might help you focus on what you need and want in a future mate. Many present day relationships began on the Internet, but I'd try the old-fashioned way first, letting your friends know you are ready to start dating again and ask them to set you up. The advantage is that your friends would know both parties and have a sense of whether you would be compatible. Matchmakers love to meddle. Let them.

As for sleeping with a new partner, sex is an intimacy you should reserve for a deepening relationship, not a reward bestowed for money spent on a date. When you reach a level of trust, you won't need to ask the question. 

You're asking me--a born-again virgin? All right, serious response, though the reclaimed virginity is true. During my business years, I entertained male customers often, and trust me, few men blinked when I picked up the check--always--but that was business. The general rule is the person who does the inviting does the paying. To make this equitable, you might buy concert tickets and he buys dinner. Dating can be a financial drain if you expect wining and dining. Try to keep things simple. The goal is to get to know someone and that can be better accomplished over a coffee date than in a noisy club. The good news is that today a woman does not feel any stigma asking a man out, and what could be less threatening than Starbucks?

Dating Internet sites can provide endless hours of entertainment before you meet the person on the other side of the screen. If you go this route, make sure all clients are screened and proceed with caution.

Treat dating like an adventure, not a mission to find a replacement program for your husband. You don't mention how long you've been divorced, but there is a danger of inadvertently being blinded by attention and an urgency to restore the intimate aspects of marriage. You are vulnerable and may respond inappropriately to attention you haven't received for a long time. Take your time to avoid rebound relationships.

As for the sex, that's easy--when it feels right and you are ready.  But some things HAVE changed.  Even if you can't get pregnant, insist on condom use.  Sex will expose you to every sexual partner your 'date' has slept with.  Guarding against sexually transmitted disease is very much a part of the modern dating scene.

Dear Amigas;
I am an only child of a eighty-five-year-old widow. I am no spring chicken and was at war with my mother for a year to get her into a retirement home. She fought me all the way, but expected me to be at her beck and call every day. I know she participates in the social activities and staff says she's fitting in, but whenever I go to visit, she complains and says I've put her in prison. Or worse, she asks for something from her house that she knows has been sold and blames me for everything. It is making me sick and I can't enjoy my life. Any suggestions? Signed, Senior Slave.

I sympathize with your situation. I doubt your mother is going to change and you need to decide whether to put up with her behavior or simply move on. Knowing she will complain should/could help alleviate some of the stress when you visit. You didn't mention how often you visit, but you might consider seeing her less often and for shorter periods of time. Possibly bringing her a gift may help cheer her up. She is eighty-five and since you are her only child, putting up with a few hours every couple of weeks will go a long way to eliminate the guilt you may feel for not spending more time with her when she was alive.

When you were a child, you weren't particularly grateful for the roof over your head or the food on the table. It's unlikely you ever considered whether your parents were tired, overworked, financially strained or facing other problems besides administering to your needs. As adults, we tend to expect acknowledgement for our service and sacrifices, but aged parents often see their care as a duty of the children they raised. A little gratitude for your attention would be nice, but don't expect it.

For your own sanity, try to schedule your visits so that they become part of your agenda and your mother has something to look forward to and can count on. Part of the reason parents in nursing or retirement homes become so ornery is their own frustration of failing health and their dependency on other people. We all tend to take our frustrations out on those that are closest, and your mother is blowing off steam. Try to take it with a grain of salt.

Been there--done that. I did my duty, but I had ugly, horrible thoughts and my mother too was cantankerous. I would beat myself up for all the negative, and angry crap in my head, until one day a very wise person said to me, "It's not what you think, it's what you do that counts." I was doing and I was eventually able to forgive myself for the resentment I fostered.

What helped in keeping my mother's mood stable and enjoying the visits was to participate in the social activities the home offered. I would join residents for bingo games, sing-a-longs and attend church, all activities that focused away from idle chatter and required attention apart from our relationship or her list of complaints.

I also discovered a new currency, bringing her candy and a dozen tangerines she enjoyed passing out to other residents.  It made her popular and encouraged the formation of new friendships.

She loved to crochet and I made sure I brought new and varied colored yarn to distract  her.  For the most part, it helped.

We are part of the sandwich generation, looking after our elderly parents while trying to be parents to adult children, often feeling in a tug-of-war or being squashed in the middle. It's unlikely anyone will notice your needs. Try to be good to yourself.

Dear Readers;
Thank you for your participation, reading and submitting questions to the Tres Amigas.  Yes, we received some real doozies. Some we chose not to print and a few we didn't dare put up for public consumption.  However, this column will be wrapping up by the end of March.  If you have any questions you are considering asking, please do so this week so that we may reply before our last issue.



The book continues with Tres Amigas March 15, 2015. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
FS members will be privy to know the identity of two of the authors, Spiritual Echo--THE CYNIC--and Smurphgirlsasha--THE HOOKER. The identity of THE LIBRARIAN will remain hidden. Letters may be edited for length.

This dry run on FS is a serious project the three women are testing with their esteemed fellow members, but the intention is to submit the idea to national newspapers in Canada, Mexico and The United States.

Your feedback on the literary aspects is always welcome as we fine-tune our presentation for public submission.

However, as this is a serious column, we will answer questions that are sent by PM to either Spiritual Echo or Smurphgirlsasha and include them in our weekly column each Sunday. All identities will be protected by creating a pseudonym for each letter.

Column are posted each Sunday, alternating between Spiritual Echo and Smurphgirlsasha

All columns/chapters can be found in Spiritual Echo's portfolio.

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