Friday Friends: C. Streetlights “Tea & Madness”

Happy Friday, Friends!  It is my pleasure to  feature authors and bloggers on Fridays. Today I am delighted to announce that Tea and Madness by C. Streetlights is rereleased!  This gorgeous book really touched my heart.

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Tea & Madness, a memoir written in prose and poetry, is separated into the four seasons inspired by C. Streetlights’ experiences: grieving a lost baby, coping with depression, anger, betrayal, surviving rape, and the accepting that there are some things she cannot forgive. Balanced somehow within this darkness is the wonder in motherhood and empathetic relationships. As her seasons change, she continues trying to find the balance of existing between normalcy and a certain kind of madness.

“Pears” from Tea and Madness
by C. Streetlights

My grandma had already been divorced when she met my grandpa. She was the older woman; eleven years older than him when they were married. He grew a mustache to hide his true age—19-years-old. They settled into a somewhat quiet life in Compton, California. I can appreciate the bravery my grandparents had to have had in order to pursue their love better now that I am an adult than I could as a child. As a child they were just old people. As an adult, I recognize the social dynamics that should have prevented their joy.
By the time I was eight years old it became clear my grandmother had what people called Old Timer’s Disease—Alzheimer’s. And this is how I remember her best; an old tired woman fighting a losing battle against her own mind, not as the vibrant woman I know she must have been.
I had to spend a weekend with my grandparents during a time when Grandma was beginning to deteriorate in her dementia. It was an unmemorable visit except for two things: First, I learned to eat mashed potatoes by melting cheese on it, and second, my grandmother called me a tart after accusing me of stealing her lipstick.
I can laugh about this now.
My grandmother had a vanity table with an oval mirror in her bathroom—very Gibson-girlish. It displayed the cosmetics she no longer wore. I would sometimes run my fingers over their gilded cases and hold up one of her make-up mirrors. Cosmetic cases today are created for disposable or utilitarian purposes rather than display, but my grandmother’s compacts had intricate filigree designs woven around the edges. Lipstick tubes had images of birds or flowers. And what little girl could resist the powder puff?
I came home from school and overheard her being consoled by my grandfather. Curious, I went into their room and bathroom to investigate—neither room had ever been “forbidden” to the grandchildren. I stood there at the bathroom doorway watching the small drama when Grandma turned on me without warning. Her finger in my face, she asked where I put the lipstick, but her eyes weren’t accusatory. Her eyes were afraid. I was confused and told her I didn’t know what she was talking about. My grandfather put his hands on her shoulders and tried to tell her I was her granddaughter. It dawned on me at that moment that my grandma didn’t know who I was, and it broke my heart even though I couldn’t fully comprehend it. All I heard was, “There is no way this tart is my granddaughter. She stole my lipstick!”
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After writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took twenty years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her memoir, Tea and Madness won honorable mention for memoir in the Los Angeles Book Fair (2016) and is available for purchase on Amazon.

You can connect with C. Streetlights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon Author Central, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.
http://www.cstreetlights.com

 

 

 

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Friday Friends: Cee Streetlights

Happy Friday!  Today I am happy to feature the delightful Cee Streetlights, author of Tea and Madness. Cee was so kind to help me out on my own book launch virtual party, and I am more than happy to offer her the spotlight here today.  Without further adieu, here’s Cee!

How did you decide to write your story?  

Tea and Madness came about because I had no faith in myself, to be honest. I was determined to not set expectations whatsoever so that I could safely put off any thoughts that might dangerously become goals. I knew I wanted to have a collection of poetry and prose, all selected from this time period when experienced enormous pain and struggle because it’s important to me that I show the reader that life is authentically messy. This chaotic time period was also extraordinarily formative for me, important to me, and I wanted to share that with readers, to share with them this truth I learned for myself – that we are all incredibly messy individuals and there is no reason for us to try to cover it up and pretend anymore. We already spend so much of our day inundated my “perfection programming” in the media, messaging that is just as toxic as any other abusive language. I felt it was important for readers to see “a year in the life” of an average woman who has lived through some wreckage and is still standing.

Was the final version somehow different than you had expected?  

Yes and no. I visualized my book to be divided up into seasons, symbolic of a year in a woman’s life. Because I first thought I would be self-publishing, I had planned on including artwork unique to each season but unfortunately this wasn’t able to happen in the end. My first title was a terrible and generic title; I don’t even remember it anymore. I was never committed to it and I think I somehow hoped I’d come up with a better one. The biggest difference would have to be the title and the inclusion of tea etiquette and information in the appendix. I was stuck in traffic one afternoon and all I wanted to do was get home to have a cup of tea. I had just been talking with a friend of mine about how making tea is a calm and ritualistic process for me. And it is. Bringing the water to a boil only to let it cool enough so the tealeaves can be steeped in the perfect temperature is so symbolic to me – we go through so much trial at times that we don’t know why we’re experiencing the difficulty. It’s only after the trial has passed that we are able to have the perspective to really flourish.

Including the tea etiquette and information felt right to me somehow. I liked having the dichotomy of my madness juxtaposed with the orderliness of tea.

Describe your first perfect cup of tea. 

I couldn’t stand tea when I was a little girl. We only had chamomile tea and I thought it tasted like old ladies. I avoided it whenever I could. When I reached my 30s, the health craze caught on to green tea as a means of losing weight. I did not care for green tea and still don’t. I didn’t try tea again until about a year after my first cup of green tea and went to an afternoon tea at a high-end hotel with my husband. I can’t remember the exact tea I ordered but I do remember it was a white tea with a delicate flavor. Drinking it immediately soothed me and filled me with a warmth that was more than the drink. The scent was lovely, the taste complemented the sandwiches and cakes perfectly, and I have been hooked ever since.

Do you have any crazy writing habits? 

I tend to be a binge writer. I will go days and days without writing anything until finally all the words have to fall out of me. I’ll write for hours and accomplish so much that I’ve yet to come up with a reason to not do this other than it doesn’t fit deadlines very well. I’m also a word hoarder. I’ll create fantastic phrases or sentences and then I won’t want to use them. I hold on to them like fancy wrapping paper or cute fat quarters that I think I’ll sew something from.

What music inspires you?

The music questions always stump me because I’m not a very auditory person. I generally don’t listen to music at all when I write nor do I ever really listen to it and will it spark some creativity. I am more visual, really. I will see photographs are drawings (I keep track of them on Pinterest, for example) that will make me wander around in my mind. People also fascinate me and different types of people will generally begin a thread of conversation in my imagination.

C

 

After writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took twenty years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her new memoir, Tea and Madness is now available.

 

You can follow C. Streetlights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.