(A short piece based on 3 random photos in my instagram feed)
A jumble of letters lay on your desk. Your baby rests at your feet, smiling and snug in her bouncy seat, just content to gaze up at you. But you break the gaze and it feels like a tiny piece of your heart snagged on the moment. That moment of turning away from her to your desk. From her to yourself.
Your palms press into the smooth wood. Sitting here feels foreign, like you don’t quite fit here anymore. Not like you used to.
Not like when you could stay up until 2 AM because the words were just spilling out of you and who would walk away from that for mere sleep?
Now sleep is precious. You hoard moments of sleep like a vagrant lost in the depths of the desert hoards drops of water.
Now you gladly trade words for sleep.
No wonder you no longer fit here.
You swipe up a handful of the letters, shaking them in your palm like dice, feeling and hearing the solid yet delicate clink of ceramic edges gently colliding. Maybe if you shake long enough actual words will emerge from the letters.
Maybe a whole story will tumble onto the desk like the elusive Yahtzee you played as a kid.
The misshapen cubes fall out of your hand, landing on the desk, scattering into an incoherent pattern. No story. No words. Just random letters adding up to nothing.
You glance down at your daughter and see her eyes have closed. She is asleep. You know you should follow the rule of new motherhood and sleep when she does. But rolling those dice in your hands has left your palms itchy. That familiar twitching of your blood and cells beneath your skin tugs at you to show up to the page. You remember it doesn’t matter what you write at this point. Just write. Just show up and who knows where you’ll end up.
Maybe in the skin of an old woman sitting on a bench in the grocery store next to the mechanical horse.
Maybe you’ll end up in a memory of your grandma knitting a pair of slippers with pom-poms that bounced off the front of your foot with each step.
Or maybe you’ll end up on a boat with children, gliding through space, parting the stars with the bow, leaving a swath of stardust in its wake.
You never know where you’ll end up unless you show up.
You pick up a pen.
You open a notebook.
The snow slants to the frozen earth outside her window.
A wind comes and disrupts the precision with which the snow descends, scattering those individual particles of frozen atmospheric water vapor frozen awry, off the path.
Her path is on the snowy white of the paper beneath her hand. Or the glaring white of the screen on her desktop. Both waiting to be filled with the “breathings of her heart.”
They don’t care about the quality of the words, of the sentences, of the stories. They only wait for the presence of the words, sentences and stories she needs to tell in any given moment.
Sitting at her desk, her dog curled up behind her, the silence broken only by the soft hum of the space heater at her feet, she writes.
She claims this time as her own.
Claims the space as her own.
The space around her.
The space within her.
She claims the page.
She claims it all.
But mostly she claims herself as a writer.
And don’t ask if you can buy her books on amazon or find them in the library as if having her words bound and packaged and marketed for human consumption is the only proof available to back up such an audacious claim.
That kind of question diminishes her path.
Diminishes her claim.
And she won’t be diminished.
Each time she shows up to the page, she stakes her claim on this path of writing.
The path is slanted like the snow outside her window.
It is easily blown off course.
It is filled with mud
And vast swaths of desert
And frozen tundra.
But she shows up.
Not for the so-called validation of having a book published but
because she must.
If she doesn’t show up
to the page,
she doesn’t show up
This was written in response to Day 11 of the #WriteYourselfAlive challenge.
I like hard work and I don’t like pretending things are perfect.
I’m a fan of any book that starts with a preface titled: Writing is Hard.
I’m even more of a fan when that book is written by Amy Poehler.
I mean, I’ve always liked her. Loved her on SNL. Thought she and Tina Fey killed it on Weekend Update. And I think they should host every award show from now until the end of time.
But after reading her book, I wanna be her BFF. She’s funny, smart as hell, sassy, real, takes no shit, tells it like it is.
And she admits writing is hard. Because it is.
I love the structure of her book. Or maybe it’s an anti-structure. It’s not a straight up memoir. It’s a collection of essays, thoughts, lists, letters, and haiku. Yep, haiku like this:
We know it’s Botox
And not your vegan diet
Nice try, Margaret
She cracks me up.
We hear about her life from childhood to her improve days.
We hear behind the scenes stuff from her time at SNL especially the memorable Sarah Palin rap.
We hear about her marriage, divorce and the mature stable relationship they’ve managed to maintain for the sake of their kids.
We hear about her kids and being a mom.
She tells us her rules for sex for men and women.
She tells us about her friendship with Tina Fey.
What it’s like being a woman in comedy.
We hear it all.
And I still wanted more.
A sentence I love: It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.
“The Good Sister” a YA novel by Jamie Kain
It’s strange how someone you never knew and will never know can change the course of your life forever.
The three Kinsey sisters grew up with hippie parents and without many rules. When, Sarah, the good sister, is lost in a mysterious accident the other two sisters Asha and Rachel are left even more adrift than before Sarah’s death. They grieve alone, pushing each other’s buttons as sisters do leaving themselves isolated without the weight of Sarah’s presence to anchor them.
The story is told in alternating chapters of each sister’s voice, including Sarah who has died and is trying to make sense of her life and her death.
Each sister has a unique voice and story and they weave together to finally discover the truth behind Sarah’s life and death.
A sentence I love: Everything about my life felt stolen.