Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Fighting with a 6-year-old…

pillowsExcerpts from This Morning’s Pillow Fight:

Him: Ow! Ow! Ow! Oh, that didn’t hurt.

Him: I need a rest. [pause] I can’t rest when you’re tickling me!

Him: Don’t hit me there!
Me: Sorry. Pillow fights aren’t exactly choreographed.

Him: Best pillow fight ever!

I believe Round 2 is on for tomorrow morning…


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writing blog picI’m in the midst of writing a short story. Since I mostly write poetry, this is a bit of a change. Especially since I’ve challenged myself to write every day. Consistency is not my strong suit—not when it comes to my own personal schedule. But since this story has grabbed my attention I’ve written for eleven days in a row (it’s a start…).

I think I read somewhere that you need to do something for at least twenty days in a row for it to become a habit. As much as I love to write, I’ve been inconsistent and haven’t made writing time a true priority. This was part of the reason for setting this challenge for myself—how can I seriously call myself a writer if I don’t take my writing seriously? I guess it’s not that my writing isn’t a habit; it just isn’t a very consistent one. That’s something I’d like to change.

Something I’ve learned during these past eleven days: I kinda’ understand why some authors drink. Ha! There have been moments, and tonight is one of them, when I’ve been nervous about writing. Not because I don’t know what I’m going to write, but because I’m not quite sure how it’s going to come out. I can totally see how a drink or two would relax you before you take to the pen—or keyboard, as the case may be. (Please understand that I’m writing this tongue-in-cheek. I’m not advocating alcoholism for anyone, author or otherwise.)

So tell me, does anyone else get nervous about writing a particular scene? I’ve been getting actual butterflies in my tummy at points. Typical? Or am I more neurotic than I thought?

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First love runs deep…

lots o booksI loved the idea of reading even before I knew my letters. I credit my father with this, and his ability to bring the world of Dr Seuss into a vivid and vocal reality. My love of reading led me to a deep and lasting friendship with the books themselves.

Going to a bookstore is one of my favourite pastimes. And always, before I enter, I must take a deep breath and smell the air. The paper and the ink and the knowledge inside combine to make, for me, an intoxicating scent. Honestly, how excited was I to learn that Karl Lagerfeld created my own personalised scent?

And libraries smell different from the stores. You can smell the anticipation of the new books, waiting anxiously to impart their adventures, or wisdom, or humour—waiting for that first crack of the spine when they’ve finally been purchased. Library books are more stately, more secure in their knowledge that they will be useful and read.

I can never purchase a book without first experiencing it. The weight, the feel of the paper, the size and style of the font. All are part of the aesthetics of a book.

Books have been my friends for as long as I can remember. They accompany me everywhere, and always have. I suppose my tattered copy of Fox in Socks was my version of a security blanket. Sometimes I will take a book with me, even when I know I won’t be able to read it, especially when going somewhere new or where I am unsure of myself. My book is a tangible, portable friend, something I can hold on to and use to keep myself grounded in uncertain times.

Just as I am loyal and protective of my friends, I am this way with my books. And I like to introduce the two to each other. Sharing a memorable book with a good friend is one way for me to stay connected with the people I care about. It’s a bit like playing hostess at a party—you want to introduce people who haven’t met but will have something in common, some spark to connect them. So please know if I lend you a book it’s because I care about you and trust you, and want to share a bit of myself.

Just please don’t bend the pages.

Share with me: What’s your favourite book? And what, or who, got you hooked on reading?

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What are you scared of?

There was a time when the answer to this question was obvious and straightforward: spiders and needles. Duh. Then, of course, there’s the usual fears about something terrible happening to one of my children. All mothers fear this, and that fear is simultaneously irrational and totally expected. And it will never go away. But what am I scared of? This has become rather a loaded question of late.

Because now I’m afraid to be positive. Usually that’s a good word. And can be combined to great effect with myriad other words — positive thinking, positive energy, positive affirmations, positive reinforcement, positive pregnancy test — although this last carries plenty to be scared of. Trust me. But one word that ‘positive’ does not go well with is ‘biopsy’. Last week I went in for a biopsy of my very own and am now waiting for the results.

And I thought waiting two minutes for the result of a home pregnancy test was hard.

I do try to put a positive spin on things (find the humour, look on the bright side and all that); my love of sarcasm comes in pretty handy for this. I didn’t know what to expect during the procedure (having never done this before), but I was, naturally, expecting it to be awful. I mean, there are just certain parts of the body that needles and scalpels and other sharp instruments should stay away from. Far, far away. And the words ‘punch’ and ‘vagina’ simply don’t go together.* At all. So I couldn’t help but be amused when the doctor asked me — in the middle of the process — if it was as horrible as I’d anticipated. I told her that only someone prone to exaggeration would describe the procedure as horrible and I never, ever exaggerate.

I am a writer, after all.

So now I wait. And if I thought the biopsy was bad, the waiting is even worse. The uncertainty. The not knowing. The worst-case-scenario imaginings. And my imagination has gone to town the past five days.

But I do what I can to stay calm. I breathe. And focus on the positive. But not being positive.

And I wait.


*Side Note: Who the hell came up with the phrase ‘punch biopsy’? Because I kinda’ want to punch that person in the nose.

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Musick has Charms to sooth
a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a
knotted Oak.

-William Congreve, 1697

Music is such a universal joy in this life. With so many styles and genres, I think it would be the rare person who couldn’t find some sort of music that brings joy or comfort.

Several of my musician friends have spoken about hearing music, a sort of soundtrack for their lives. And just like in movies, some of the music is original and some has already been composed—the lyrics and tempo and melody just seamlessly fitting in to the action.

But life soundtracks change. What might be compelling or important to you may not stay that way indefinitely. This is why I’m hard-pressed to select specific songs as favourites. That changes, depending on mood, circumstances, even location. But if I’m unable to settle on favourites, I can point to songs that have made a lasting impression on me. And while there would be quite a few to choose from if I were forced to make a list, here’s a representative sample:

‘I Can See Clearly Now’, Johnny Nash—I remember my mother once telling me that this was one of her favourite songs. After she was killed in a car accident, choosing the music proved to be one of the most difficult aspects of planning the funeral service. My brother, sister, and I each chose a song that we felt represented our mom. I chose this.

‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ from Orfeo ed Euridice, Christoph Willibald Gluck—I played the flute from the time I was in the 4th grade through my freshman year of high school (after which time I gave up band for drama classes). I didn’t play for a long time after that. Several years ago, though, I picked it up again (and have since pretty much stopped). A medical condition has compromised my fine motor skills, and I thought playing the flute would help preserve the dexterity of my fingers. (It’s also why I taught myself how to knit.) I chose this solo to practice during my lessons, and it still makes me smile whenever I hear it.

‘Bus Stop’, The Hollies—My best friend introduced me to this song many (many) years ago. Such fond memories connected with this song, as well as numerous others I associate with our friendship. Whenever this song comes on, I can’t help but crank up the volume and sing along.

My list could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. What are the important songs in the soundtrack to your life?

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free writes
lead to
and re-writes
lead to

Just go with it. This is an expression favoured by my 6-year-old son of late. I’m not sure where he picked it up, but he has embraced it fully. He also seems to utter it just when I need to hear it most. I think it’s part of why we make such a good team.

Adults can learn so much from children. Being present. Being in the moment. Not being self-conscious. Appreciating what you’ve got right before you.

As a stage manager, I frequently tell my actors that if they want a lesson in commitment, they need to watch a young child eat an ice cream cone. Especially if it’s hot. Do they care about the ice cream running down their hand, down their arm, to their elbow? Do they care that their face is a mess? No. The mission is clear—eat as much ice cream as possible, minimise loss. Everything else is secondary, inconsequential.

It’s so easy to get caught up, as a grown-up, with inconsequential matters. I do it. You do it. And sometimes, when things aren’t going as planned or as hoped, you have most likely not been presented with an insurmountable problem. It’s helpful to remember life wisdom as seen by a 6-year-old.

Just go with it.

N.B. (added the following morning) Last night, as we were getting ready for bed, my son complained that his nose felt ‘uncomfortable’. I handed him a tissue and suggested he try blowing. He did try, but told me there wasn’t any snot left in it. Then he crawled back into bed and said, ‘I’ll just go with it’.

Oh, he makes me laugh.

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I wrote a poem a couple of years ago (and I think I even posted it here on this blog), but it goes so well with a picture I took yesterday that I am compelled to post the two together.

Plus, it’s just too hot to write anything new. I’m still readjusting to the desert heat of New Mexico. The intense, scorching, debilitating heat. Let’s face it, in Seattle a broken air conditioner in your car is an inconvenience. In Albuquerque? It’s brutal. It was 91° today. Thank goodness for Sonic’s afternoon happy hour–slushies for a dollar each!

Anyway, here’s my old poem paired with my new photo.

Blowing Bubbles

easily made
easily broken
gentle floating
spheres whose
destruction delights
your smile
wraps itself
around my


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