R. J. Nello

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ-born, πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§-based, novelist.πŸ“– Writing, travel, culture and more. Always holding "auditions" – so be careful or you may end up a character in β€œ1797”…and perhaps an evil one.🎭 (And why do I suspect some of you might like that latter in particular?)πŸ˜‚

To Each Of You

February 17, 2018
R. J. Nello

My wife’s 88 year old aunt lost her husband in late 2016. Since then she too has fallen terribly ill. She has been in and out of hospital for over a year.

Certainly not a tourist attraction, but one of life's necessities: the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. We visited an ill – 80-something – aunt there last evening.πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ₯πŸ“Έ . She's improving after being near death several weeks ago.πŸš‘There was a nursing shift change in progress while we were at her bedside. The new staff came around to see her.πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ‘©πŸ½β€βš•οΈπŸ‘©β€βš•οΈ . "They are all so lovely," she said after they had lightheartedly spoken with her – and momentarily with us – and moved on. "Many of them are foreign, too, Robert." . "I gathered that," I replied. "Geez," – I added, smiled and whispered to her – "foreigners are everywhere nowadays…"🌎 . Speaking as a "foreigner" myself, too, of course.πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ˜œ(Which got a laugh out of her when she realized my point.)πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ . Have a good day, wherever you are.😊 . #London #NHS #RoyalFree #hospital #health #travel #photo #photography #nurses #family #humor #humour #expats #expatlife #Americans #NewYorker #writers #writing #authors #authorsofinstagram #writersofinstagram #travelblogger #blog #blogger #Hertfordshire #England

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She is now largely confined to her London home. Council carers come in twice a day. Her son usually also makes a daily appearance.

Many in her situation would probably stare at television all day, but not she. As long as I have known her (nearly 20 years now), she has been a novel reader. Apparently she reads now more than ever; whenever we have visited her over this difficult last year and a half (despite her own numerous problems, she invariably asks me how my dad is coping: “I know he misses your mum…”), beaten-up paperbacks have been stacked up half a dozen high next to her bed, which is now in her lounge as it is no longer easy for her to walk upstairs.

My wife suggested to me back in the autumn that her aunt might like to read Conventions. But I wasn’t entirely sure. However, pre-Christmas, without warning I decided just to send her a paperback and a short note.

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We Should Be Grateful We’re Flying…But Still…

November 13, 2017
R. J. Nello

Hello again from Hertfordshire (just north of London), England. We left Dad’s in Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon…

[Dad’s back porch. Pennsylvania. Photo by me, 2017.]

…and headed to Newark Airport. It’s easiest to land there and drive to his place, and to our place in the Catskills. Going to JFK from that direction requires driving across New York City to reach it in Queens, which is an additional hassle distance-wise and traffic-wise. To be honest, if you ever visit NYC (especially Manhattan tourist areas), the best place to land is actually Newark Airport, New Jersey: it is just across the river from Manhattan.

Newark is not JFK, however. The international terminal lacks to some extent the amenities you find at JFK after Security. There are fewer restaurants (actually, there are just two) and places to shop and even sit. That said, there’s more now than there was; it’s actually better since some refurbishment in the last few years.

[Terminal B, Newark Airport. Photo by me, 2017.]

Unfortunately, the BA flight that also awaited us was on my old nemesis: the Boeing 777. I’ve read pilots love it. But as a flying customer, I think the plane stinks – and I have felt that way since I first flew on one nearly 20 years ago.

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Two Years Ago Today

October 26, 2017
R. J. Nello

My mom died on October 26, 2015. (The cause was lung cancer, probably contracted as a consequence of decades of smoking. We could never get her to stop. I would not wish how she died on my worst enemy. If you smoke, STOP! If you don’t, please DON’T START.)

The Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” – probably THE MOST 1960s song there is – was one of her favorites. I’ll always associate it with her:

[My iPhone last night. Photo by me.]

I was in a class play when I was age 10 in which my teacher, Miss B_____ (who seemed REAL old to us kids; thinking back from now, she was probably about “25”), had us all dancing to that. I can still recall overhearing Mom laughing to Dad about her after the show: “That one is definitely a former hippie.” I had no clue what a “hippie” was.

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The Widower

February 18, 2017
R. J. Nello

Yesterday, I was having what I had thought was an innocuous FaceTime with my father. There was our usual current discussion of the weather in his northeast Pennsylvania, and any snow – including what is up at our house in the Catskills. There was also the required exchange about what the new U.S. president is up to. And there was other chitchat.

As I thought we were about to sign off, abruptly he veered without warning into again reviewing my mother’s cancer and death in October 2015. Through hard personal experience, I’ve learned a lot about widowers since then. “The widower” is a particularly difficult area in our culture.

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Once Upon A Time, There Were Only Blogs…

November 21, 2016
R. J. Nello

We don’t think a lot about it. But we have to remind ourselves how potentially dangerous spending too much time in front of screens may be. By midday Friday, I found myself developing a terrible headache.

Too much time writing and staring at my Microsoft Surface in recent days had probably been the main culprit. I do try to take breaks when I’m at the screen for a long time. “Ten minutes” every hour at least.

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“The sword of Gerzeanam…”

November 18, 2016
R. J. Nello

I finally saw some of my cousin’s 20 year old daughter’s writing. Evidently she is somewhere on the Fan Fiction Plus app, but refuses to give up her screen name to her mother. My cousin finally succeeded in getting some pages out of her so I could read a bit of her writing…

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a medieval castle.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a medieval castle.

When I read it yesterday, I almost fell out of my chair. I won’t share any of it here because I don’t have permission, but this is my pathetic impersonation of what I saw opening one chapter. In no way does it do her writing full credit:

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“Conventions” All In One Place

June 24, 2016
R. J. Nello

Well, that’s that for the time being. My brief visit to New York and Pennsylvania is winding down. I’m heading back to England today.

It has been good seeing Dad. He’s doing okay now, eight months after Mom’s death, so I’m not leaving feeling lousy about leaving him. He told me, “I’m adjusting to the new reality. That’s what the hospice newsletter said anyway.”

For today, I thought I’d share a brief update here on what I’ve added to the blog. At the top you may notice a new page: Sneak Peeks Into Conventions: The Garden At Paris.

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“Time to check on the chocolates”

May 27, 2016
R. J. Nello

We take public safety essentially for granted nowadays. We all think nothing of driving alone at night, walking well-lit sidewalks, or cycling for carefree miles, as if it were all somehow the perpetual norm of the human existence. Yesterday, I was annoyed, writing here on how some seem determined to forget how we have evolved to this previously unparalleled and happy civilizational situation, and appear not to consider how fundamentally fragile it truly is.

Relatedly, we also tend to forget how long-lived and healthy we are and why we are. A large part of the reason for that isn’t down to “good genes” as it would have been for most of human history. We are assisted in great measure by the medical care we now also appear to take for granted.

Royal Crescent, in Jane Austen's Bath. [Photo by me, 2015.]

Royal Crescent, in Jane Austen’s Bath. [Photo by me, 2015.]

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Mother’s Day: A Year Later

May 6, 2016
R. J. Nello

I wanted to share some U.S. Mother’s Day personal thoughts here – two days early. I choose to do that because, well, this is the first year my mother will not be here for one. Also, I don’t feel this post is quite appropriate for Sunday itself.

Screen capture of my iPhone calendar this morning.

Screen capture of my iPhone calendar this morning.

I don’t mind others celebrating, but I wish I could’ve “blocked” Mother’s Day just for myself this year. The barrage of ads that have been landing in my inbox seemingly hourly reminding me of the day and how I need to remember Mom with flowers or something, get deleted unread by me the moment I see them. They have led me only to remember one year ago: Mother’s Day 2015.

That day, from Britain, I had FaceTimed Mom over in Pennsylvania. I had expected an innocuous “Mother’s Day chat.” After thanking me for our card and flowers, she said she felt a bit under the weather. My father had booked dinner out, but she didn’t feel up to going to a restaurant.

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Bereavement: Another Life Challenge

February 27, 2016
R. J. Nello

It’s not always by any means, but there are times lately that I feel like the loneliest person in the world. True, I’m sure in reality I’m not. But how disturbing and ugly the feeling is.

I know it’s got to be rooted in my mother’s and my uncle’s deaths. The feeling can hit me at the most unexpected and routine of times. Last night, it caught me as I was briefly alone, washing up some dishes.

I can only describe it as feeling like walls closing in, trapped with nowhere to run. I felt like I wanted to smash the dish I was holding…. and then smash the next I could grab, and the next…. My outlook and feelings are made worse, I’m sure, by certain years-long “living” family frustrations (on both sides of the Atlantic) that I have been unable much to influence (forget about resolving them), or even to get away from, idiocies which show no signs of abating, and, indeed, seem worsening.

Free Stock Photo: A blank tombstone with flowers.

Free Stock Photo: A blank tombstone with flowers.

I accept that the deaths of close loved ones will bring you down for a while. However, I’d heard from a bereavement counselor that it’s not uncommon to feel the loss even harder some 3-6 months after the loved one has died and the rest of the world has “moved on” – but you haven’t yet. Obviously I’m about there now chronologically.

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Feeling Fine In Chesham

February 16, 2016
R. J. Nello

Yesterday we visited with my wife’s octogenarian aunt (and godmother). She has lived in Chesham (in the Chilterns) nearly forty years. The town is the last stop on the London Underground’s Metropolitan line – with a tiny above ground station.

She lives just outside of the town. While we’ve been to her home numerous times, we’d never been into the town center itself, so we drove in and she took us on a short, late-afternoon stroll around. It’s very pleasant. I played “tourist” briefly and took a few photos:

Chesham, Buckinghamshire. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Chesham, Buckinghamshire. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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Recovery Mode

February 12, 2016
R. J. Nello

Over dinner last night here in London, without warning my mother-in-law observed that she believes the week over in France helped me a lot. She remarked that she felt all I’d gone through with my mother’s and my uncle’s deaths in October and the weeks after in the U.S. trying to cope with the aftermath, particularly with my dad’s grief over Mom, had naturally tired me out. She believed that stress had been showing on my face (in a weariness), but felt I now looked better than I’d had in months.

Naturally only others really know what I “look like,” but, yes, I said, I’d loved last week; that I like France goes without saying, but that visit had been a true distraction. It had been fun, restful, and taken my mind largely off the sadness on the other side of the Atlantic. Relaxing lunches like this certainly played a part:

A French pizza. A lunch last week. [Photo by me, 2016.]

A French pizza. A lunch last week. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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Because The Mourning Can’t Start Without Her

January 7, 2016
R. J. Nello

We’ve had a great deal of sympathy since my mother’s October 26 death (and my novelist uncle’s two weeks before – who I especially miss as a friend and a mentor). It has all been much appreciated. But there’s always others out there lurking, aren’t there?

You may unfortunately know the type yourself too: relations who are easily insulted, who are always stirring the pot, and are also always demanding – like overgrown children – to be the center of everyone’s attention, and if not given their way seek to create still more trouble, and often do their “stuff” in a deviously and underhanded manner so as never to get the entire family offsides. Divide and (try to) conquer, so to speak. (Please excuse the coarse language that appears in the following.)

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Lessons I’ve Learned In Writing Three Novels

December 9, 2015
R. J. Nello

I had been planning to keep this private. But given this post, and everything I’d written about him here over time, I felt I should share it here. The “story” needed an “ending”:

Screen capture of Messenger.

Screen capture of Messenger.

A pat on the back is wonderful, but that’s not why I posted that. It’s because I can’t believe that brief message marked the conclusion to the roughly two decades’ long correspondence between my novelist uncle and myself – first by email (when he was on something called “CompuServe” and I was on something called “America Online”) and then mostly by Facebook. That October 3rd Messenger note was the last one he fired off to me just before he went into the hospital for what we had all thought would be a “routine” procedure.

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Stages Of Grief

November 11, 2015
R. J. Nello

This morning I’m driving my now widower father, and my 44 year old sister (she lived with my parents, and so now lives with my father: let’s please not go there right now), up to our (my wife and mine’s – and I know that’s ungrammatical, but I don’t care right now) place in the Catskills for a few days.

We probably don’t have to do this, but I desperately want to. Dad agreed. He needs a different view and I think he knows that.

And I have to get the hell away for a while from this (my nowΒ late mother’s) October 26 place of death. Increasingly, I can’t bear this f-cking house. I never wanted them to move here to Pennsylvania (it’s not about PA itself; but let’s not go there either right now), and my late mother is “everywhere” here still, of course.

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