On Loss and Living Onward

What do you say to someone who has experienced the devastation of major loss?

Nothing. Just listen.

Filmed by Michelle Lehnardt, with score by Eliza Smith, and soundtrack editing by Corbin Sterling.

Featuring author and bereaved mother Melissa Dalton-Bradford, bereaved parents Lana Kemp Smith, Melodie Webb, Dean Menlove, Coleen Menlove, Lisa Garlick, Dean Garlick, Tom Linkous; bereaved children Eliza Smith, Calvin Smith, Millie Smith; bereaved spouse Marshall Smith; and bereaved sibling Kevin Linkous.

Global Mom: A Memoir – Book Trailer

You’re invited to this, the exclusive trailer premier. Let me bring you to my treasured Norwegian farm table in my cozy home in our little Swiss village. Take a brisk look at a few images chronicling our family’s life, and listen as I invite you to read what I hope will be for you a valuable – even life-changing – book.

Please give me a birthday gift by sharing this with all your family and friends.

(Let’s flood!)

How Technology and Social Networking Shape Publishing

It was early summer, 1977. . .

foxnews.com

foxnews.com

. . .when I stood blinking in the movie theater after the final credits rolled. I wore cork platforms. I had a Toni home perm that I was trying to grow out.  My date’s name was Clay. I’d been home fewer than 48 hours from living most of that past year in Austria. Maybe that fact – that I’d been out of the US loop for a while, residing on another planet, playing lonely goatherd near Salzburg – is the reason I said the following words as Clay and I got ready to leave the theater:

“Well, hmmm,” I mumbled, “I can tell you one thing: that thing’s never gonna catch on.”

Clay cocked his head, trying to check if I was joking. “But you didn’t even think those. . .those Stormtroopers were–?”

Head shake.

“And not even Princess Leah?”

Smirk.

“What about Han Solo? Don’t you think he was-?”

Contorted, noncommittal, wrinkled Calvinist librarian grimace.

“Oh, come on! Not even that little – what was his name? C3P0? But that was pure genius!”

Dead pan glare.

“Mark my words,” I said with disdain and self-assurance, “The soundtrack’s good, yeah. But the rest? It’ll never catch on.

Forget that my flippancy was an insult to my date who’d just paid for my opening night ticket. Forget that I made him awkward. That I then felt awkward.  I squirmed a bit in that windy gape of silence, teetering on my cork platforms, fluffing the frayed ends of my Toni perm.

1977. First time in Paris. Last time to have a perm.

1977. My first time in Paris. My last perm.

Forget all that. The real deal, the reason this moment has stuck with me, is that I. Hadn’t. Gotten. It.  I hadn’t gotten something really big, important, sea-changing, intergalactically cosmically epic.

Seven episodes, 25 Oscar nominations, (10 Oscars), video games, Halloween costumes, books, spin-offs, a global cult following and an oribatid mite genus named darthvaderum later–  and I’m chawnking on my words.

What Else Have I Not Gotten?

I just don’t seem to get the genius of some things. And a lot of those things end up spinning the planet.

For instance, I remember 20 years after Star Wars when a friend told me that the “next wave, Melissa – watch for it, it’s coming fast – the next wave,” she said,  “is technology.”

“Aeck,” I said. “You really think so?  Aeck [again], I hope not.”

In those days, I wrote (by hand, on onion skin paper, with special pens and in gorgeous calligraphy) epistles to my friends. I resisted my first computer. My second one.  My third.  When friends’ responses to my handwrought letters popped up on my PC screen, I thought they looked as personal as ingredient lists on a cereal box.  Sterile, generic, dehumanizing sound bytes.

pcmusuem

pcmusuem

I clutched my fountain pen in defiance.  I licked postage stamps until I got drunk on the glue.

But it didn’t take long to realize that as a writer, my quaint Thoreauvian methods of communicating just weren’t going to cut it in a rapidly changing world. So I capped my pen, shelved my envelopes, plugged my nose, and dove into email.

(So you know: I dove like Jacques Costeau.  Ask my friends. They call my emails “Melissives.” I write dense emails. Daily. )

And Then There Was This Thing Called a BLOG.

thewisdompearl

thewisdompearl

“Melissa, listen: You just have to start a blog!”

This was my technobility friend, one whose career has kept her steeped in that cyberocean since the days it was no more than a puddle.  For years, she’d been following our global life through me (on parchment, then, when I caved, via email), and was trying, I dunno, to oil me up for the 21st century.

I balked.  Blog. BLOG?  It sounded like a bloated trunk of a hacked down Sycamore rotting in an eddy of the Mississippi Delta. Never on your life.  It couldn’t be real writing, I protested. Besides, from all (the 3 blogs) I’d sampled, it was too exhibitionist, intrusive, prone to much-too-long daily dwelling in one’s own head. (Don’t these folks have jobs?, I thought. Families? Obligations? Water meters to read?)

Then my publisher, Christopher Robbins, crash-coursed me about authors’ blogs. Today’s serious authors maintain robust blogs. I scoured dozens of them. They’re packed with great practical material, some truly fine writing, tips on the craft, and links to (you guessed it) more blogs.

And so here I am. And here you obviously are. I’m doing this blog thing with conviction and exuberance, while also doing my job, loving my family, fulfilling my obligations (like significant ones I carry within my beloved church).  And I’ve not yet neglected our water meter.

Alors, Qui Ici N’est Pas Encore Mon FRIEND Sur FACEBOOK?”

wired.co.uk

wired.co.uk

As with Star Wars, email and then blogs, I initially winced at the drug called Facebook.  But now I’m a dealer.  At church.  It was last night, in fact, in our church parking lot after a big activity with my sweet Swiss and French charges, that I called out: “So, who here’s not yet my Friend on Facebook?”

Nearly every last person was. Facebook’s become not only the mechanism that keeps my personal self interconnected globally, but it’s also the portal through which my professional self shares her voice and gathers a readership. (You).  And it’s where you can offer me feedback and invaluable reader’s insights. You cannot fully appreciate how much I love your feedback!

(Haven’t visited the Global Mom: A Memoir FB page?  Bah, voilà: Click right here and be sure to “like” it.)

my little Twitter avatar. Thanks again, Luc.

My little Twitter avatar. Thanks again for the photo, Luc. 

Crystal, Kim, and Chirpster 

Email? Blogs? Facebook? How far can a former technophobe possibly slide down the slippery social network slope?

My two PR mavens have taught me.  Crystal and Kim at BookSparks are the minds  behind my book’s summer release campaign. (Still pinching myself, honestly, that there’s a team so invested in making my words fly.  And yes, I fawn all over their expertise). They have events in the works for NYC, Utah and LA, and have hoisted me onto various social media platforms.  This is why I’m now linked to Chirpster (Oh. You call it Twitter? Hm. That’s cute.) And am cuckooing every day.  Join in, if you want, at MDBGlobalMom.

Between this blog, the Global Mom: A Memoir FB page, and Twitter, you’re bound to bump into me on a daily basis. I’m signing off here so I can go work on some promotional pieces I’m writing for Crystal and Kim, and so I can also go edit the first installment of my Global Moms vlog series, which you can access on my YouTube Channel or the Global Mom: A Memoir FB page.

As long as you’re here, how about a vlog clip?  Watch. Leave a comment. Tell me what you think, what you would change to improve this piece, and what questions you would ask mothers like myself who live this kind of internationally nomadic life.

Krakow, Poland: Pre-Easter, Post-War

This post continues a week of daily posts on Global Mom’s recent family trip to Poland.

Decorated carraige horses on Rynek Główny, Krakow's marketplace dating from the 13th century

Decorated carraige horses on Rynek Główny, Krakow’s marketplace dating from the 13th century

On the train from Warsaw to Krakow, our family lucked out. We shared our compartment with Jan, a native Pole who has lived the last three decades in the UK. For three uninterrupted hours, I’m afraid I gave the man no rest by interviewing him about everything from world politics, World Ward II and post World War II reconstruction, Jews in Poland, and Catholicism in Poland, to Poland’s best foods, best cities, best music, best sites, and details of his family history. (He was interested in genealogy, a point of common interest).

It was only after all this questioning and note-taking, that I realized we should get footage of this to share with you, and so here’s a brief segment of our time spent talking about his family, whose profile arcs over pre and post WWII. Jan’s now-105-year-old mother experienced the length of it while his father spent seven years in a Prisoner of War camp. As Jan explained (but you might not be able to hear too well; trains are noisy), his father left one morning, telling his mother he’d be home by dinner. Seven years later, that father returned, having spent nearly all of those seven years in prisoner of war camps. “Things got better,” Jan said at the end of this part of the conversation, “after Stalin died.”

I think we all agree on that.

As Jan had promised, Krakow felt warmer than the thermometer measured. Even with a cold front dragging its stiff arm across all of southern Poland, the town square seemed to smile in daffodilled defiance. Easter decorations hung everywhere.

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Students gathered. People ate at the open stalls. The market was busy.

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Music played from the many cafés. And every hour on the hour, a trumpeter stood in the taller of the two towers of St. Mary’s Basilica, cracking the air with the sounds of a traditional tune called the heynal. The heynal links to legend, I was told. It always ends abruptly and midphrase, a tradition holding from the 13th century, when a trumpeter warning of the Mongol attack, took an arrow to the neck.

Carriages in front of St. Mary's Basilica, which is famous for its elaborate altarpiece by Veit Stoss

Carriages in front of St. Mary’s Basilica, famous for its two mismatching towers and its elaborate altarpiece by Veit Stoss

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Towers of St. Mary's Basilica

Towers of St. Mary’s Basilica

The central Cloth Hall on the Market Place with statue of the Polish Romantic poet, Adam Mickiewicz

The central Cloth Hall on the Market Place with statue of the Polish Romantic poet, Adam Mickiewicz

Statue of Adam Mickiewicz, considered the Goethe or Lord Byron of Poland

Statue of Adam Mickiewicz, considered the Goethe or Lord Byron of Poland

The Renaissance Cloth Hall with interior arcade

The Renaissance Cloth Hall on Rynek Główny with interior arcade

Upon the Nazi invastion, the Market Place was given a German name, Old Market, then became Adolf Hitler Platz

Upon the Nazi invasion, the Market Place was renamed as Old Market and then  Adolf Hitler Platz

The city was overtaken, and many of its cultural landmarks ransacked or decimated.

The city was overtaken, and many of its cultural landmarks ransacked or decimated.

The Adam Mickiewicz statue was toppled

The Adam Mickiewicz statue was toppled

Palac Bonerowski, which stands on the Market Place, a noble residence-turned-21st century hotel...

Palac Bonerowski, which stands today on the Market Place, a noble residence-turned-21st century hotel…

...became a backdrop for the Nazi presence. . .

…became a backdrop for the Nazi presence.   Note the statue in the lower lefthand corner

The same statue stands in the same place today,having  witnessed many changes

The same statue stands in the same place today, having witnessed many unspeakable events

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Upwards of 15,000 Jews were forced to live within the  ghetto, from which they were then deported to concentration or extermination camps.  The following four images courtesy of the Oskar Schindler Factory museum

Upwards of 15,000 Jews were forced to live within the Krakow ghetto, from where they were then deported to concentration or extermination camps. This and the following three images courtesy of the Oskar Schindler Factory museum

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Families crammed into small living spaces – normally four families per apartment – if they were fortunate enough not to end up living on the street. These plaster figures depict the shared living quarters. Oskar Schindler Museum

If they were lucky enough to not live in the streets, families crammed into small living spaces, normally four families per apartment.  These plaster figures depict the shared living quarters. Oskar Schindler Museum

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Oskar Schindler, whose enamelware and metalware factory served to employ (and save from extermination) several  hundred Krakow Jews. Schindler's writing desk.

Oskar Schindler, whose enamelware and metalware factory served to employ (and save from extermination) several hundred Krakow Jews.

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Retracing the steps of the Jewish ghettos and deportation routes

Retracing the steps of the Jewish ghetto and deportation routes

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St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral

St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral

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Easter snowfall

Easter snowfall

Interior courtyard of Wawel, Krakow's royal castle

Interior courtyard of Wawel, Krakow’s royal castle

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Leonardo da Vinci's Lady With an Ermine, whose symbolism and complex history is almost as intriguing as the beauty itself.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady With an Ermine, which hangs in a private room in Wawel, and whose symbolism and complex history are almost as captivating as the beauty of the painting itself.

Leaving Krakow. . .

Leaving Krakow. . .

For Auschwitz and Birkenau...

. . .for Auschwitz and Birkenau…

© Melissa Dalton-Bradford and melissadaltonbradford.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Warsaw, Poland: Time Travel Kitchen

This post continues a week of daily posts on Global Mom’s recent trip to Warsaw and Krakow.

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© Melissa Dalton-Bradford and melissadaltonbradford.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melissa Dalton-Bradford and melissadaltonbradford.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

**

Tomorrow’s post takes us by train south to Krakow, which, in spite of sub-zero temperatures, is a bustling, cheerful university town built around the largest open market square in Europe dating from the middle ages…

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Following that post will be two posts (if I manage to limit myself to just two) devoted exclusively to our visit to Oskar Schindler’s factory, and then our icy day spent at the concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

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I hope you’ll reserve time to delve thoughtfully into the final of these posts, and that you’ll share with others.

***

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U Kucharzy: a thoroughly authentic Polish dining experience dating from 1938. Not only has the interior of this restaurant remained nearly unchanged since before the Cold War, (check out the black and white floor tiles; they’ve never been replaced, like some members of the staff, I think), but the kitchen itself is entirely open so that you can dine inches from the massive wooden chopping block where the chefs prepare your food. I passed on the house speciality, beef tartare, and politely busied myself with the art of making the perfect vat of Polish dumplings.

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