My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as to those who simply love to read. You will find snippets of things I am working on and special announcements here.
Years vanish. Months collapse. Time is like a tall building made of playing cards. It seems orderly until a strong gust of wind comes along and blows the whole thing skyward. Imagine it: an entire deck of cards soaring like a flock of birds.~Dani Shapiro
A long time ago, I stood in the home goods section at Walmart. The in-laws were coming to visit and stay with my family. The girls would give up their bedroom, and the grandparents would brave the trundle bed. New sheets were in order. I didn't have much money to spend, but settled on the nicest sheets that Walmart sold, the pattern in the fabric a subtle, lavender Swiss dot. Yesterday I took that same cloth, now splattered with green paint, and covered my current husband's Vespa. The sheet had outlasted a marriage, and survived longer than the lives of those grandparents who had once lain on that Swiss-dotted cotton. And their son, the father of those little girls, gone now too.
Life is fragile. We don't talk about that much in our culture. We think we'll live forever. Yet when the gusts of loss interrupt our denial, our structure, we are faced with reality. Grief is exhausting, even when it co-exists with promise. My first husband and I had not been together for over twenty years when he died, yet I've been pummeled with memories of him. The way we'd savor breakfast dates, sitting in a Wisconsin diner, drinking cup after cup of coffee. Our bright yellow car that we drove way too long. Our rental house on the Oregon coast.
I contnue to read It's Never Too Late To Begin Again by Julia Cameron. The book contains 12 weeks of material with tasks to complete. One of the assignments is to break up one's life in five-year segments and answer questions that evoke thoughts and emotions and memories. This week I answered questions spanning ages 16-20. Those were hard, lonely years, perhaps hard and lonely for anyone emerging into adulthood. One of the questions Ms. Cameron asked this week: "What were callings you tried and then abandoned?"
I'm unsure if writing poetry would be considered a calling, but for a time during those years I wrote poems, and some were published in the university's literary magazine. I'm not sure when I stopped writing poetry. Or why. After about a year, I abandoned the art form. I've written three or four poems over the last decades, but nothing as prolific as that one year in college. As I remembered myself at that age, I felt great love for that young woman. She did not know her strength. She did not understand the breadth and width of God's grace. I wrote her a poem. I went back to that time in history to honor her courage, her perseverance. She serves me now. I draw on her vulnerability and brave heart. Perhaps she has led me back to poetry and whispers, "It's not too late."
The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it's a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers--of persistence, concentration, insight and sensitivity--to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.~Susan Cain From Quiet
I spied the crescent moon as I backed my car out of the driveway on the way to work. I shifted into park and sat gazing awhile at that comma shape smoldering in the early morning sky. Was the moon speaking to me in its silent, glowing punctuation? It seemed to be enticing me to pause. I yearned for a slower life pace. For weeks, I'd been saying to myself, "Let me off. Let me off this ride. It's too fast. I can't keep up."
The culture is often too noisy for me. Requires too much talking and promoting that leaves me exhausted. I was blocked from Instagram and know not why. I filed a report, attempting to discover my error, but still no word. I cannot post or comment. At first I fretted, but then realized it doesn't matter that much--just another expectation to "get oneself out there and be noticed." What if one does not really enjoy "getting out there?" The very pressure to promote one's writing these days is a job in of itself. I calmed down. Let it go. Maybe I'd get unblocked at some point, but if not, that's okay.
If we address stories as archaeological sites, and dust through their layers with meticulous care we find at some level there is always a doorway.~From The Ten Thousand Doors of Januray by Alex E. Harrow
I learned a new word this week: omnium-gatherum. The word is defined as a miscellaneous collection. Often I've felt my life could be described by such a phrase, yet more negative than positive--a mismatched plethora of scraps, faded photographs and dog-eared books. Mistakes and riddles unanswered, and a sprinkling of gold dust that sometimes reflected a life more shiny than it truly was.
Sometimes, maybe a lot, if I'm honest, I've identified or wanted to identify with other peoples' stories instead of my own. Individuals who are more physically attractive, richer, smarter. Better writers. Over the years I've strayed from my narrative. Discounted it. "Oh, anyone could have done that, or survived that." "I could have done more, most likely--I could have done a better job." "That accomplishment was merely a fluke. I probably could never do it again." My life downplayed. Minimized.
Then I saw the photo of the door. I could not let its symbolism drift away. How was this image speaking? And why?
Be alone with the sea for it is there you will find answers to questions you didn't realize existed.~Khang Kijarro Nouyen
I longed for something I couldn't name. I tried to read, but my mind raced. The words on the page blurred, and I read the same paragraph over and over. I couldn't go shopping to assuage my emptiness. I needed to stay out of stores. Save money. I wanted the ice cream in the fridge, but I knew I would feel horrible if I ate it. My yearning was not physical hunger.
Between my junior and senior year in college, I lived and worked in Hawaii for one summer taking classes. I didn't always make enough money to buy food every day. Many nights I bought a package of corn nuts at a convenience store on my way back to the dorms. I savored each salty, crunchy morsel, making the bag last for two hours. I worked for a local hair salon, handing out coupons on a busy street corner in Honolulu to tennis shoe-clad tourists. I got paid on Friday mornings according to how many persons presented to the owner's salon and used the coupon. I was broke most Thursday nights, but knew I'd have cash the next morning and could buy an Egg McMuffin. To distract me from the hunger pangs, I'd head to Waikiki Beach, wading in the ocean at sunset, picking up shells. The lapping waves and sky decked out with streamers of russet and orchid distracted me from my growling stomach. When I got back to my room, I'd place the shells on the window sill to dry, little scraps and snippets of beauty from the sea.
Perhaps I thirsted for beauty now. I opened a notebook I keep by my bed. I write eclectic lists, quotes and ideas in it. The notebook is messy and crammed with yellow legal pad sheets folded in rectangles. Here are some things I found, in no particular order. Like the shells, the words are lovely. Little bits of beauty that filled my longing for something I could not name.