Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ready or Not

I submitted a story to a literary magazine this morning. Took about 5 minutes to complete the process.

Well...5 minutes plus two years of dithering.

Two years ago I set the story aside, thinking it wasn't ready. Over the last few days, I changed about 12 words . This morning I pressed "Send."

The story may not be ready yet. I may never know where a story is going or how to get it there. But writing makes me feel alive, and leaving my stories in a digital file gathering virtual dust makes no sense.

I've missed the last few Wednesday night bike rides. Too busy at work, don't you know. Last night I was pressed for time to start with, then the brakes on my bike failed, the road I needed to take to the park was closed, and the wind was blowing 30 miles an hour. I stopped, took off my helmet, and wondered why in the world I persisted despite all the obstacles. I pulled my phone from my pocket and toyed with the idea of calling my dad to come pick me up, thinking I'd just forget the whole thing.

A cloud scudding across the sky caught my eye. I decided it didn't matter how long it took me or how hard the wind was blowing. I was outside. The sun was shining. Exercise is good.

I walked the bike half a mile down the torn-up road and headed to the trail. Two hundred yards down the road, I knew why I didn't give up. The juice is in the doing, in the trying.

This morning, I tried. I sent the story. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reviving the Color

I opened one of my old stories last night, one I wrote when I was working on being a Writer instead of working as a writer/editor/word flak.

My first impulse is to say I don't remember how to write like that, but the truth is, I never knew. All I did was open myself to it and wait. It's more accurate to say, I no longer remember how to open myself to the gift.

I do remember how it feels. I remember the pulse of energy, the rush of being pulled into and through myself by something larger and stronger and wiser. I remember electric prickles when something beautiful arrives on the screen, something for which I am the conduit but not exactly the creator. I remember the deep blue surprise and the blood red joy.

Working too much at making a living and not enough at doing the living has faded the colors of my life. I long for that rush, that connection. I long to see a story emerge from the great beyond.

The answer, of course, is to make the time. My acceptance comes and goes, but the giver never falters.

Monday, April 26, 2010


My garbage disposal broke Friday night.

When I flipped the switch, the sound it made told me something was stuck in there. When I flipped it off and back on, it made no sound at all.

Resetting didn't work. I whipped out the special Allen wrench, but the impeller wouldn't turn. On Saturday, when I pulled the unit off and disassembled it as much as possible, I discovered a little screw had fallen in and gotten stuck between the impeller and the wall. It took forever, but I finally managed to pry out the little screw. Then I reassembled the unit and reinstalled it. Shortly after that, I was back in business, grinding up little bits of leftover food.

Year ago, my garbage disposal died, and I replaced it. Katie--then about 8--and her friends watched me struggle for hours, trying to get the new one in place. When I finally got it working without leaks, the girls and I danced around the kitchen, singing "I Am Woman" and dancing. We tossed old bread and a couple floppy carrots into its maw and cheered with abandon when it ground them up and washed them away. We had ice cream to celebrate.

Saturday, there was no dancing. No singing. No ice cream.

Sometimes I wonder if being so able to take care of myself and my home is a blessing or a curse.

Before the shower for Evan and Kristin, I power washed and resealed both decks and did a little maintenance on them. My neighbor came outside at one point, and watched me go up and down a 10-foot ladder about 100 times. When I came down from driving some screws to secure a loose spindle, she looked at me and smiled.

"Honey," she said, "you need a boyfriend."

Maybe if I couldn't tighten my own spindles and repair my own garbage disposal, I'd have one. Maybe I'd be more assertive or less picky. Maybe the Universe would be more cooperative. Maybe.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Part of Me

I dreamed of an infant in the back seat of my car. I would see her and think "Oh---I must take take care of that baby!" Upon arrival at my destination, I'd get swept up in the usual whirlwind of activity and forget. When next I heard her cry, I'd be overcome with remorse and promise myself to do better, then promptly forget about her when I reached my destination and got sucked into what the people there needed/expected from me.

The baby's name was Lorraine (the name of a cousin who died of SIDSs when I was 10). After days of this, I got into the car and realized Lorraine was near death--dehydrated, emaciated, nearly catatonic. My greatest concern then was how to get medical help without letting anyone know I'd forgotten her for so long. I wasn't afraid of being prosecuted--I was concerned about what people would think of me.

Lately, I've been working too much and at the wrong things. I edit furiously, 12 to 14 hours a day, and do the best possible job I can. I want to earn a full-time, permanent job with this client. From time to time, I think of my stories, the ones inside, longing to get out. Sense memories, the feeling of the act of writing arises and drifts away like a runner's breath on a cold morning.

And can we talk about my obsession with what others thing?

Know what I've been doing in my "free" time? Power washing and sealing my decks. I'm hosting a shower for Evan and Kristen a week from Saturday, and I've been obsessing over every inch of the house, including the decks and arbor. Three days in a row I edited from 7:00 am to noon, worked on the deck from noon to 7:00 or 8:00 pm, then edited until 2:00 am or later.

All this so no one looks at my decks and thinks I could use some help now and then.

What part of me is the baby in the back seat, slowing starving to death?