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Finding Alice

At the end of a beginning, what’s next? And who, or where, is Alice?

Take a cleansing breath and exhale. It’s Dec. 26 and the world didn’t end, so it’s official.

We made it to my favorite week of every year! No more wrapping, baking, or undone “To Do” lists. As long as it isn’t a “Spare the Air” day, you deserve to put your feet up and enjoy the decorations. With just a few short days left in this tired old year, rest and live in the present moment.

For me it feels like New Year’s Eve came a week early — that familiar melancholy that sets in when you mentally archive a year’s memories and look forward to the New Year with a mixture of uncertainty and hope. In real time it’s Christmas Eve and I sit beside a glowing space heater in our warehouse, honoring my final Patch deadline. I still have unwrapped gifts, unsent Christmas cards and undelivered cookies, but this comes first. It’s a new love, and my heart is a bit broken now that it’s over and I’m moving on.

This virtual territory changed me profoundly. After a lifetime defined as someone’s daughter, little sister, girlfriend, wife, or mother, Alameda Patch gave me the opportunity to find myself and become a writer. I did it.

It took half a century, but I did it.

As a result of my weekly deadline, I made several shiny new friends and unfortunately with less spare time, may have lost a few older ones along the way. I embarrassed my family regularly by violating their privacy rights, but they love me in spite of it. I learned the awesome power of the words “what I really mean to say…” and the necessity of capturing good stories and phrases immediately, before they wander into the mist and become lost forever.

You think you will remember the really magical ones. Trust me. They go on walkabout.

So what I really mean to say is thank you, Laurie Wagner and Eve Pearlman, for having faith in me when I had little in myself. Thank you, Patch readers — from the faithful readers who gave priceless feedback through comments, emails, or a random “Atta girl, Alice!” in the middle of a crowded Alameda grocery store…) to the quiet, kind ones who choose to keep more critical opinions to themselves.

When I worry that no one is out there reading, my family reminds me I have more readers than I know. Several of Sarah’s friends follow me, either here or through her shared Facebook posts — high school classmates, summer camp counselors, UCLA sorority sisters, and even a few U.C. Berkeley colleagues (…Go Bears!).

Sarah and I had dinner together in Napa last week. We sat across from a mother and son — close friends of Sarah’s true love. I was poised and polite, trying to make a good first impression. Within a few minutes, I found out they knew me through my piece about Sarah’s flooded Oakville cottage. I realized that it was pointless to pose as anyone other than my authentic self.

That’s a good lesson to learn at any age: Be yourself. Trying to be any other self is pointless and exhausting. The people who love you will love your true self and the people who don’t can go… well… find themselves somebody else to love.

I am Alice, and I can’t help but be myself in your virtual presence. After almost two-and-a-half years, you know me well. You know my imperfect but beloved mother even though she died many years ago. You know our daughters, Sarah and Emily, grandpuppy “Honey Bee,” assorted free range grandchickens, grandbunnies “Nicholas” and “Sharona,” and beloved senior citizen canines “Frances” and “Gracie,” who can’t count high enough on all four paws to tell you their ages in dog years.

You know my husband, Si, and that he loves me more than he loves the sum of afternoon naps, salty friend chicken, and Nantucket Island times ten, and shows it by his public love notes in the comment section following most columns. (I can’t complain. Turn about is fair play, and I am lucky to have a love like that.)

So here I go, and I hope you’ll follow. With help from two of those shiny new friends, Greg and Keith, I am now the proud owner of the domain name www.findingalice.net where you can sign up to receive more candid and embarrassing stories after I sign off below. (Thanks, guys!)

First warning: My site is a work in progress and I am learning by doing, so bear with me as I navigate the curve. Just like me, it promises to improve over time if you’re patient with it.

Second warning: The new site ends with a “net” and not “com” because someone stole the “com” before I got there.

Third and final warning: “Find” me; don’t “seek” me. I hear the “seeking” site is X-rated, and I am a strictly PG kind of girl, with the exception of the occasional R word popping out at random and inappropriate moments.

Enough said. Best wishes for a terrific 2013! If you haven’t found yourself by now, may 2013 be the year you do it.

It’s about time.

Love, Alice

P.S. Please share the news and the link www.findingalice.net!  I don’t want one single reader to wander off into the mist.

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Victoria December 28, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Thank you so much for keeping the East Coast family part of the mix with the West Coast family. I miss you guys so much and your column has been my only way of staying in touch with what is going on with my "missing brother". Keep up the good work and don't worry; blogs are as easy as falling off Weight Watchers and eating a piece of decadent cake. Love you all.
Alice Lewis December 28, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Renee - You are such a great cheerleader! I look forward to returning the favor with your blossoming stringed instrument career. XOX
Alice Lewis December 28, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Kathleen - You are my reason for escaping the chaos that is my desk on Thursdays! Thanks for reading. I look forward to many more good times to come.
Alice Lewis December 28, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Hi Vicky! The silver lining in being so far away from your brother is that it keeps the East Coast family out of print, for the most part. Feel free to send any good dirt my way. Happy New Year to a favorite little sister! xoxox
Lori Sinclair December 29, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I will sure miss you here, but I found your new home on the blog ....see you there!

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