Home from Alaska
Twelve hours of travel, but not in real clock time. We crossed
a few time zones in an airplane – at least it was a direct flight. Then we picked
up our luggage, the car; drove home, showered, and drove to work for a 10 a.m. meeting. It was crazy. I think I may
have slept for two or three hours on the plane, but I’m not sure. I didn’t feel
tired that evening. I didn’t go to bed until 10 that night… and slept for the
next 14 hours. Who says you can’t catch up on sleep?
The First Day Home
A day of unpacking, laundry, catching up on email, sorting
through USPO mail, sorting presents into piles invisibly labeled “Souvenirs”
and “Christmas presents.” A timeless sort of day… no more schedule to
follow for meals and entertainment. Do I leave the house? Do I need to? I haven’t
driven a car – except for that off-roading Jeep adventure – in over two weeks. Back
to reality, in a surreal sort of way. Repeating the same vacation stories over
and over until you forget who has heard what, until the entire experience
becomes summarized in two words: Great trip.
A few years in
and many art fairs later
she noticed a
Yes, I do.
stopped in my appreciation
to find that
I’m glad she
I even took a
wait until the night
I divided my
paper in four
so that I could
work on one picture
while part of
a drawback of that
She looked at
my red sun
“Don’t do that
We couldn’t do any of the things that I usually like to do
on my birthday – camping, kayaking, camp fire, wine, S’mores… We had just
returned from a two-week vacation, and we were tired. It was good to sleep in
my own bed again. But I wanted to do something fun. Damn the germy person who
made me sick on the ship. I cursed myself for that one time that I didn’t use
hand-sanitizer that might have prevented the world’s longest summer cold. I
didn’t get my cake, but I did get Cold Stone Creamery the next night.
that little thing
keeps the people informed.
that helpful message
lets people know important things.
the extra tasks I was able to complete because I had an extra day. but it was
not worth the sacrifice.
loss of a day.
only four hours of time.
rush of days in
only someone had said…
only someone had noticed
only someone might have mentioned
months or so ago
the choice of that week
not a good one.
would have started later.
Building a character
I see a woman with her mouth open, wearing a green shawl,
blue shirt, yellow and orange skirt, and black flats. Her arms are spread wide,
as if she’s embracing the world around her. She wears a black hat and an
expression of happiness, if only slightly embarrassed. There is a tent behind
her. The crowd observing her has their arms stretched wide, imitating her
gesture. She is performing. She travels with a circus. She is a one-woman show
in which she plays many characters. One of her characters is a diva. This is
her debut performance.
a fountain not yet full:
has it not yet been attended to
or does it patiently wait for rain water?
in a clearing, a statue cries
and when his tears dry,
the tracks of rust
give away his sadness.
What is the cause of his sorrow?
Who is he – Jupiter or Jesus?
two paths lead into the woods and I have yet to check my map
dreaming of the luxury to explore without a map, without time
a seemingly uncharted territory –if only to me
getting lost never bothers me when I have the gift of time:
the chimes sound the hour
bells of all sizes
with ropes of fifty feet long – or more
are they automated now?
just a very loud speaker
hidden inside the tower
visually they are still there
aesthetically as they ever were –
they rise above the edifice
as brass as ever
I do not recognize the tune –
are the bells playing a hymn
or are they merely a random
melody of chimes?
I used to live next door to a Methodist church.
across the small stream –
the parking lot was the end of the street.
the chimes sounded the hour –
Cranbrook House and Gardens
thought is of natural beauty:
second thought is of created beauty:
thought is of wealth:
everyone lived this way?
fourth thought turns inward back to me -
for the art and architecture,
by the creativity,
relief that I’m not paying the mortgage on this vast estate.
where are you
have I been
desire to connect
something in common
an “I remember
to compare one
knowledge with another
pieces of the tree fall on my arms
in my notebook
to remind me
to spend more
and the man on
the wall still cries
comes too near
have been predicted for the next several days.
I wonder what the
fountain will look like next week.
I’m so very sorry that your
son died two years ago.
I’m so sorry that the school
It would be if it were run by
you, of course.
There are so many ways to
improve a life.
but this is summer.
it’s a happy time.
some people can’t ever let go
of the negativity.
I make concerted efforts to
stay away from those types of people.
the blue dragonfly lands on a
then is gone.
the metallic color –
the iridescence of his wings –
or maybe of hers? –
I often wonder at the palate
of colors in nature.
I resisted the latest teen
sensation until three books were out. Then I read them sequentially so that
they blended into one story in my head –how did Twilight-the-movie end without the
big fight? “That was in New Moon.”
Bella was a terrible role
model. I was nauseous; I feared that millions of girls dreamed of being Bella.
Imagine my relief when I learned that, for them, the book wasn’t about her. Team
Edward. Team Jacob. Pick one.
Who is warning these girls
about the dangers of falling in love with fictional characters? Humans are
never going to measure up.
I long for a cabin in the woods
near a blue lake
with white sand
and a kayak.
There would be a tall kitchen counter
and the perfect barstool,
a desk in the living room
with my shelf of writing books.
My meals would all be healthy and delivered –
and then magically cleared away afterwards.
Is it wrong to wish for a house-elf or two
to keep in my writing cabin?
There would be other writers in other cabins nearby.
to get feedback and inspiration to continue.
I do not wish to be
alone all the writing time.
The perfect writing retreat.
why the woods?
I do not know.
When I need a break,
there will be a quaint little town nearby
with a winery and a restaurant
for eavesdropping as character development.
and the best homemade ice cream shop,
and a community theatre
showing one of my favorite plays –
perhaps a musical.
There’d be an area of historical significance
and a protected natural area.
to wander through the woods with only a water bottle, my
notebook, and a pen –
to encounter animals unafraid of humans
because the animals perceive the humans
as neither threat nor food.
I would have no fear of being lost in this forest.
a GPS backtrack built into my notebook?
no cell phone
no email or facebook to distract me
no house to clean
no laundry to fold
no rooms to paint
or pictures to hang
or closets to organize
or furniture to arrange
a maintenance-free place
for me to take care
of only me
I need to memorize more poetry:
The Red Wheelbarrow;
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening;
a few by Maya Angelou;
some Emily Dickinson perhaps –
something more profound than Fame is a Bee…
Getting along with other people is one of the most valuable
lessons that can ever be learned. Not school subjects, the kindergarten sharing
In school, I hated group projects. Group projects meant that
the smart kids did all the work while everyone else took credit. Group projects
were never subdivided such that success was the sum of the parts, navigated
solo by each contributor. If only…
Admitting when you’re clueless:
It’s never fun to not know what is going on, to be the only
one in the room who doesn’t get the joke when everyone else is laughing.
I glanced at the spiral staircase to wound ‘round the brick
wall. Right now, I did not want to be trapped in this open space. The fresh
oxygen stifled; I longed to breathe the stuffy, musty air trapped on the other side.
I wanted to hide in that space where everyone could see me. I picked a stone, closed
my eyes, and concentrated. “Open,” I screamed in a soft whisper. I saw that
nothing had changed. I picked another to the left and pictured it in my heart. “Please,”
I whispered in my regular voice. The wooden door had appeared.
To have a yard so big
with gardens such as these
with walls to scale
and trees to climb
and Jupiter or Jesus -
to be so far from the real world
and yet still right at home
would it detract from the escapism
if this were my very own yard
or lead to a more relaxed me
to have my own writing space
hidden in my own backyard?
nature would be perfect
if there weren’t any bugs
I’d heard of robin’s egg blue
and there it is –
half of it, anyway
After six years of counting words in hour-increments, or by
1667-word days, or by 10,000-word weekends, it’s strange to stop counting at
100 words is enough to say something profound and
100 words is enough to question a decision,
100 words could be enough to change your mind.
100 words is enough to describe a setting,
100 words is enough to give characters depth,
100 words is enough to explain a motive,
100 words is enough to create a plot chasm,
100 words is enough to redeem a friendship.
100 words is enough to break a heart.
Photo-quality Printers: Trip Pictures
Despite the cds that we’ll eventually have, and despite the online
gallery, I still want a physical album of printed pictures. I don’t know why.
It seems like the major trips must have albums. It’s comforting to pull out the
photo albums and admire the scenery and goofy self-portraits on something other
than a screen. Although I have to admit that watching our slideshow on a 52” tv
was really cool… He just stuck the flashdrive in the USB port on the television. I’m not that old and I’m relatively
tech-savvy, but that was still impressive.
I was aware of July 18th. It’s not that it went
by completely unnoticed. It’s just that the date didn’t get the same attention
that it has in other years… the first: a case of wine; the second: a mystery
trip to N’ahlins; the third: the room at the Ritz – complete with the romantic
package of wine, rose petals, and S’mores. The fourth was almost ignored, until
I picked out a ring, for my right hand. This year was the 7th, but we
now celebrate in another season, with prescribed lists of modern and
traditional gifts to commemorate the year.
Kindle or not to Kindle? Sony Reader, anyone? When I get mine, it will be a
Kindle #(whatever) because my cousin now works for them. My cousin works for
Amazon-not as cool as saying that I work there, but it’s the best I can do. I
love books. I will never give up on books. But I’d love to take a Kindle on a
long trip, with ten books that I’m interested in reading, not worrying about luggage
weight, or packing only two books and finishing them on the first flight out. And
Todd doesn’t even like to read…
that make me happy right now:
on my novel
& my annual book goal/list
dinner cooked for me every night
and being loved by other people’s kids
checks/paying off Visa
& movie-theater popcorn
the guest bathroom
my movies & music again
things (boxes, containers, shelves)
photography & the instant gratification of
& collecting watercolors
up with friends on FB
I will save up thousands of dollars so that I can go to an art fair and buy
whatever I want – price be damned. There was an amazing metal piece in 2-d
called Open Water. Gorgeous. It would totally fit in my house. And there were
some wonderfully bizarre yard-art sculptures that I loved… I would have picked
out just one. And the jewelry… While it’s not hard to find jewelry that I like
at art fairs, it’s hard to find pieces that I’d actually wear. I don’t wear
small pieces because they’re cheaper – they’re just not my style.
Sunday… slept in a little, then made some jewelry for my sister. Took her to
Olga’s for lunch. Then swam at a friend’s for a while. I don’t know why I feel
compelled to write events specific to the day. Maybe that will go away in
August. I liked reading randomly for inspiration – hence the watercolor entry.
Maybe now that I’m able to participate daily that will change – as opposed to
catching up on a whole month starting on… was it today or Monday – the only empty
day on my calendar? I was busy, but what did I do?
last day of the month – not chronologically, but compositionally. When I finish
this entry, I will have written 3100 words… most of which I might not have
otherwise written. Some of which I had written but not typed, a technological
form of revision, if there was revision to be had. What will August bring? Will
I be able to keep up on a daily basis, or will I have to write for several days
at a time? To treat it as a writing exercise and not a diary-type journal will
be the challenge. Characters - different points of view.
Groups of Friends
My first friend group lasted from K-3rd – and then I moved. It's
hard to keep up with your best friends when you're only 8. The second didn't
happen again until 8th grade...and lasted less than a year. High school was
rough without a group of friends. I had a few individual friends but lacked a
core group for consistent hanging out... and this is one of my biggest regrets
from high school. I had the potential to have that amazing group of friends,
and I lost them. I found my friends-for-life group in college. It’s okay now.
Feeling alone in a room full of people
most conversation goes on without me
most conversation is uninteresting
There is nothing I need or want to say
except to change the subject:
books, movies, landscaping, vacations…
but it never stays changed for long…
too much work talk
on summer vacation
is this all we have?
there are work friends –
and then there are friends at work.
When I am off duty, I am a real person
with outside interests
even my inside interests are of little interest
to those around me
R’s first sleepover in her purple room. After the movie ended, she said, “Now
it’s time for my sleepover!” So, she brushed her teeth, and I tucked her in.
She’s been up five times. The fifth time, I asked why.
just checking on you.”
you the grown-up?” She smiled and held out her hand to lead me back to the purple
room to tuck her in – again.
I think it’s cute because I’m not her parent. Otherwise,
she’d be in trouble. This is (one of the reasons) why it’s more fun to borrow
other people’s children.
hit an invisible curb in the grocery store parking lot on my way home and blew
out my right front tire.
Fortunately it was the grocery store near my house.
Unfortunately I had to carry a gallon of milk, groceries, 2 pizza boxes, and a
Fortunately there was a package on my porch.
Unfortunately it wasn't for me.
Fortunately there was chilled wine in the frig.
doesn’t taste very good.
there are two more chilled bottles.
picked up my antibiotics today at the drug store.
haven’t started taking them yet.
Swimming and picnic
today. The world’s best hamburgers, watermelon, cookies… a family of friends
and a sister, niece, nephew and husband. The pool was cold after the recent
rain. The air only warmed to eighty-four degrees – when the sun was out. The
mermaid on her kickboard. some beach ball volleyball. missing torpedo shark. West Bloomfield juried art fair on Orchard Lake in Beaumont’s parking lot. The search for a fused glass face
pendant. No kettle corn this time. Chicken on the grill for dinner. Mexican train
domino domination – two nights in a row. Ah, summer! Lazy vacation time has