I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD-SLAPS, SPEED-BUMPS and LIGHT-BULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life, is the name of my memoir/essay collection with why I wrote what I wrote and what happened after. They were published once and as every writer knows, once is not enough.


Friday, February 28, 2014

The meaning of trivial


Listening

I am home alone.
The house is quiet ?
I don’t think so.

Doctor Phil is droning on downstairs in the living room. He is my morning theme-song filling the void which is this big house when it is only the dogs and me.

Like a beating heart the small plastic mantle clock, bought at Walgreens for a dollar ninety-nothing, sits atop the file cabinet in my office. My office, the smallest of the spare bedrooms made into a sanctuary, library, schoolroom, cave, stage and word-workroom by my daughter and her husband as a Christmas present. Their gift lent credence to my daily efforts and lifelong dreams. It’s meant to be shared with my husband, we have a partner’s desk, but it is mine mostly.

The incessant ticking of the little mantle clock was once annoying; it reminded me of how quickly time passes, it reminded me that my time was running out. I don’t need a constant reminder that there is less life forward.  And then its battery died. It’s a cheap piece of Chinese plastic, not worth the price of an EverReady, I said. I was glad to be rid of it.

The room seemed empty without that metronome. I’d look up to see how much longer before I had to leave for work and, oh yeah, I forgot, the clock was gone. Shifting my eyes to the lower right corner of my computer screen, which shows milliseconds silently, was more a nuisance then lifting my head and focusing on the ticking atop the file cabinet. I always wear a watch but turning my left wrist, lifting my sleeve, and focusing on my Timex, was even more annoying. It was the habit I was missing, it was the constant reality regarding how much time spent and how much time left, I missed.

I found a battery.

It ticks. I sit back and listen. Are those seconds gone, never again to be claimed, or are they like a bedside machine confirming a heartbeat? The little ticker isn’t shouting time lost or time wasted, it’s validating the seconds I am here to live them.

I turned off Dr. Phil. Though I could not actually hear his guest’s tragedies of life I knew the downstairs was filling with negative word bubbles. I don’t want negative anything brought to me between commercial interruptions about cars costing as much as a house, carpet half off and getting immediate medical help if your erection lasts more than four hours. I want positive. I want a soothing world. There is music now, a new anthem to my morning.

Seeing

The whiskered trees cast long shadows on the month-old snow blanketing the forest floor. The window I peer out of is frosted by the breath of the house. The sun on the sill is blinding as is its reflection on the dirty white behind the house where the trees are set back and farm equipment is parked. Stakes from last summer’s garden are like roadside markers, symbolizing where an accident claimed a life. In our garden they mean the peppers and tomatoes are but memories on our tongues until next season. The black netted deer fence flaps and sways in the wind which rocks across the wide expanse of iced over barren yard. We never turned the dirt and tidied the garden; we had a funeral to attend that weekend. The resting growing place stands monument to one too soon taken.

The gentle sounds and simple sights from this very chair are what my mornings are made of. The fan in my precious laptop just tuned on, the heat beneath my wrists is comforting even though I know it is taxing the tiny mechanical brain. I am noticing that which I have all too often dismissed as fleeting and unimportant. Odd that I thought these sights and sounds of my day were trivial, because the importance of the inconsequential is exactly what I write about all the time.

What is trivially important to you?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Doors and 'flutter-bys'



Am reading Katrina Kenison’s THE GIFT OF AN ORDINARY DAY. It was given to me awhile back by a co-worker who loved it. When I started it back then, I thought, of course she loves it, she has two sons like Kenison and one of them is even named Henry, just like Kenison. I couldn’t connect, and set the book aside, until last night.

There is was on the floor next to my couch in the bedroom. Don’t know how it got there, it was just by itself in full view where I plug in the heating pad when I want to keep my feet warm while reading. I know TMI. Anyway I picked up the book and started to read it again.

Kenison’s writing is lovely, very smart, very well done. I easily got lost in her life changes and challenges. And then, at the beginning of chapter five her words about a Joseph Campbell quote flew off the page and startled me like a butterfly rising off a flower I had just buried my face in. Doors, she wrote about Campbell’s doors.

“Joseph Campbell suggested that there is a unique track, a particular life adventure, waiting for each of us, and when we step forward to embrace our adventure, doors begin to open that we never saw before, doors that could not open for anyone else.”

Right between the eyes that butterfly fluttered until I couldn’t help but take notice. I won’t go into the doors which have appeared in my life but there are many, I mean, many, many and they have afforded me, as Kenison quotes, ‘the privilege of a lifetime, is being who you are.”

I have fought the impossible, sought the improbable and reveled in the inevitable. It’s a battle every day and yet when I remind myself that there is a path, and all I have to do is part the weeds to find it, I am at peace with where I am.

I wonder what doors are out there for me today.
What doors are out there for you?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A view from sea-level and above



View from a kite.
I live on a hill, two hundred feet above sea level. Doesn’t sound like a lot of elevation but along the coast of Connecticut, two hundred feet up is a big deal. We live in the woods up here at the end of a winding one-thousand foot gravel driveway. It is quiet and beyond peaceful. The trees around our house are so thick, that in order to see Long Island Sound, I’d have to mount a twelve foot step-ladder on the highest peak of my roof now, mid-winter, when there are no leaves on the trees.

A half mile from my house there is a road, which because of its acclimation (few trees) and elevation (same as us) affords locals a blue-strip view of the Sound way off in the distance. 

Our beach and the jetty at low tide.
In the summertime my husband and I drive to the town beach almost every night after dinner. Sometimes we get take-out, park by the water and enjoy dinner right there, sharing crumbs with the gulls which parade the parking lot. 

I love where I live and I love how I live. I have been blessed with good health and a Capraesque existence I simply describe as A Wonderful Life.

Some would call me privileged, I am not. In the sense that fate has smiled on me, yes I am, but my husband and I, and our parents, and their parents, all the way back to the late 1500’s when they came over here, have worked damned hard for every single roof shingle over our heads and every morsel on our plates. We struggle week to week and yet I’d call us an American Success story. Our middle of the spectrum wealth can be defined in hours worked, good choices made and with an abiding faith in our government, ourselves, a higher power and luck.

My good life didn’t come easily. My good life wasn’t handed to me by parents who had nothing better to do than leave me more than what they could spend in their lifetimes. My good life came with struggle, dark times and payments made with chits printed with the word ‘why’ all over them. My good life wasn’t always good.

For almost thirty years I’ve been writing about ‘me’, my opinions, my triumphs, my failures, my dreams both good and bad. Oddly enough, folks have wanted to read what I’ve written. Editors have kindly put my words out there, I guess, because they believed my life experience has value and I am able to communicate that, in a general way. I am constantly amazed by how much we all have in common.

At the request of some of my readers, and especially because of my family, I am in the process of compiling about a hundred of my op-eds, essays and columns in a book. I have written many times about this project. Always, it seems, when I work on it I wonder, who in their right mind would want to read about my simple, yet blessed life. I am a nobody with a postage stamp sized platform. Lining up my life via a group of essays seemed pointless until January 17th of this year. That’s when my audience grew by one, my first grandchild was born.

I won’t go into the wonderfulness of that moment right now because a lot of my columns will be devoted to our granddaughter and what’s it’s like to experience the joy of our diluted DNA. But what I will say is that the recurrent theme of age vs. time left is a daily reminder that the little girl born a wink-ago will never really know me unless I put all the words together, just for her. 

The revelation came quite recently that this collection of published work, along with the force, fall-out and transitioning of thought between pieces, is actually a memoir. 

A memoir?
Me, writing a memoir?
You mean, all along while I’ve been stitching together my writings into a quilt blanketing my life, it’s been a memoir? Yea, I guess it has. My target audience, one.

This will not be a squishy plastic bath-book or a shiny thick-paged cardboard bed-time read for a toddler. It’s for the grown-up girl who may decide someday to finally read that book her Nana put together. I can say with confidence that she and every single person who chooses to scan the contents, will be able to at least find one, out of the one-hundred, that will give her, and them, a head-slap, speed-bump, or light-bulb moment.

On January 17th this project took a turn, from a list of thoughts and considerations, to a mindful portrayal of one’s life; produced by time, directed by life and with the most famous and allusive character of all, truth.

So...here I sit, in my house on the hill, the rock walls peeking out from under a carpet of snow and the trees barely dusted by white. Maybe we’ll take a ride to the snow covered beach today, park at the edge of the blue, count gulls and throw crumbs. The sun is shining, it would be a good day for that.

Who would you write your memoir for?