Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Where I Live Now—AKA What I’ve Learned on Facebook

By Kay Kendall

If you watched me go about my life these days, you would think you know where I live. You would say, why, that’s a snap to answer. She lives in Texas. Look, there’s her house on that Houston street. You can look her up on Google Maps.

Yet, strangely, you would only be partly right. In fact, only one-third correct in your answer—to be exact.

Sure, there’s my normal life and it’s lived in Houston. But to that you must add the year 1969. Living in that year makes up the second third of my life these days. That’s when my work-in-progress takes place, Rainy Day Women. I’ve been living in that world for more than a year now. Moreover, for two years prior, I was living in 1968—the year when my debut mystery is set, Desolation Row. Hence, I have been spending lots of time in the late 1960s for many years now. In fact, I’m going deeper and deeper into the detailed past the longer I write about the late sixties.

(I have a vivid imagination and a good head for detail. I’m surprised when people don’t remember things as I do. Some get downright anachronistic, wanting to put cell phones into a plot where they don’t belong. Boy oh boy, can technology change a story—or ruin it if it’s done incorrectly. But, I digress.)

The third and final piece of my life is now lived online. I’m a gregarious person and as my career as an author has solidified, I’m staying put in my writer’s lair more often than I used to. My husband and I are living a quiet life. So, to reach out to other people, I go to social media several times a day. The majority of that time is spent on Facebook.

Kay says CHEERS to Facebook!
Many of my Facebook friends are boomers, as I am. I can start up a thread on a hot topic from the 1960s or 1970s and watch folks chime in. Then they share my head space with me. I enjoy that a lot. This week’s subject has been what people remember about the Watergate saga. Some of the answers have fascinated me. One man had a neighbor who was one of the good guys attached to the Watergate investigation. Another woman worked for a polling firm in Washington DC that compiled data for the infamous Committee to Re-Elect the President (later nicknamed CREEP, no kidding). She recalled going to the airport to pick up documents and delivering them to the office of the special prosecutor for Watergate...and found it a fascinating time to live in the national’s capital. Since I’m a history buff, I would have loved that too, although I’m sure many would disagree.

The great crime writer Tim Hallinan began a thread on his Facebook page a few days ago that asked his friends to nominate their favorite rock albums. Well! You can imagine how cantankerous that got, with many responders irate that their faves didn’t win. My pick did not win—it was a Dylan album, naturally—Blonde on Blonde. I was not irate, however, since I won a free copy of one of Tim’s mysteries. Since the only other thing I’ve ever won in my life was a flashlight, I was thrilled beyond words.

On Facebook I’m drawn to historical detail, interesting trivia, and those silly BuzzFeed quizzes. On the most recent quizzes, I scored ten out of ten for world history, found out that the classic novel that best fits my personality is Pride and Prejudice, and was told that among Jungian archetypes I turn out to be the sage.

Two fascinating posts hooked my interest over the past week. First, one FB friend had discovered a parakeet in her backyard. She wasn’t able to find the owner but did turn up a neighbor who had also lost her parakeet. The neighbor agreed to take the bird, vowing to search for the real owner and if s/he wasn’t found, then she would adopt the lost bird. People commented on this, explaining similar situations. This was fun and interesting. Sadly, a second Facebook friend lamented that her sister who suffered from angina had died. The sister had forgotten to carry her nitroglycerine tablets. When she had an attack, no one could revive her. That true story devastated me.

I guess I’ve always lived in my head. As an only child, I read a lot, as many potential writers do. I just didn’t know that at the time. First it was horse stories and fairy tales, then Nancy Drew and Little Women, followed by the grand Jane Eyre. After that it was more and more classics. Someone told me I should read all the classic novels in order to be prepare for my SAT tests, and boy, did I go at it. At sixteen I was far too young to appreciate the finer points of Anna Karenina, but I could tell you the plot of it and dozens of other great novels.

Last summer I went back to Kansas for my high school reunion. Along with a few dear, long-time friends I trotted around our old high school building and reminisced. Pal Nancy could tell each of us where our lockers had been and where our homerooms were. Most of us had no idea, although I was more clueless than most. I’m guessing I was lost in my head back then too. Nancy, however, must have been fully present in order to recall all that detail of her life in high school.  

Do you live in your head a lot, like me? Do you enjoy Facebook? Do you have another favorite among the social media types? Or do you loathe the whole scene?

That’s all I’ve got for now, my friends. I feel the comments on Facebook tugging at me. Excuse me while I succumb to their sirens’ song.

 Kay Kendall set her debut novel, Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery, in 1968. The Vietnam War backdrop illuminates reluctant courage and desperate love when a world teeters on chaos. Kay’s next mystery, Rainy Day Women (2015) finds amateur sleuth Austin Starr trying to prove a friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. 
Kay is an award-winning international PR executive living in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too.


  1. I do live in my head a lot--but because I have a big family, they pull me out when they are around.

  2. I didn't realize that's what I was doing, either: living in my head. I wasn't an only child, but I often wandered around the ranch where we lived, spinning stories in my head. I did the same whenever I had a boring task to complete, and on a farm, there were many of those.

    I love reminiscing about the 60s and 70s...and some of my books are set in those times, too.

    Now I am going to check yours out!

    1. Marilyn, I have events to pull me out of my head so with me it's sort of feast or famine, people-wise. I would be seeing my friends (not virtually but nose to nose) TONS more if I didn't have to finish up my WIP on a deadline. My family is small and dispersed, alas, with the two grandkiddos many states away. We see them about four times a year, not nearly enough. The boy is a great reader, which warms my heart, and he is only six. Soaks up words and facts like a little sponge, and when he's not immersed, then he goes crazy from boredom and acts out.

    2. Laurel-Rain Snow (such a lovely name), I am now going to look up your books too. I think we are going to start seeing a real uptick in fiction set in those decades. And if the fortieth anniversary of Nixon's resignation this week doesn't set our little boomer heads reeling, then I don't know what would. Thank you for your comments.