Support, Don’t Subvert, Other Writers

{{A re-post!}

 

Writing sweats it out of you, sometimes turnip blood, sometimes holy water, but the act is always a birth, a labor to be endured with sturdy legs and open mouth. There’s such pain rooted in the craft, which is inexorably tied to bliss, both binding together in a paroxysm of creation. A single burst of inspiration sometimes. A hard-scrabble bout with crippling insecurity others. And you never apprehend the way it ekes from you – a spurt, a stream, a leak? – to make it happen just the same way twice. Words are water, writing is wind; it puffs, it squalls, it sings; it hauls you up, it plants you down. I know this all to be true, every unsettling consequence, and still I puzzle it out, usually in the midst of a tunnel I’m scrambling from, clutching scraps of paper with messages I’ve scrawled and bled out: Why all this fuss, all this fracas? Must I twist in the labyrinth, search for words, trust them to lead me somewhere I’ve never been?

 

Yes. Because the the light gleams in the nethers and I will forever coax it out. The shadows bubble there, too, somewhere profound and bottomless, and it’s equally important to summon their mournful stories of closed bedroom doors and the girl waiting inside. I’m not always ready for the surfacing, but I welcome what comes because the girl needs me to bust open the door. But sadly, so sadly many writers shut it. Told one time or another they’re no good, they should stop trying, or worse, they’re not writers. Somberly still, these arrows of criticism are sometimes slung by the people closest to us, and those are the deepest gashes to the soul. That kind of silence is the heaviest of all, a thunder clap that erases all else but the voices in a writer’s head. Belief in self is unyielding for some; but for writers, it can be wearisome and a mountain to scale with scabby fingers and burned-up spirit.

 

It takes some of us years to shed the belief that our words have no value, don’t hold worth; that we should shut up because who wants to hear what we have to say.

 

So why would someone, anyone, especially another writer, join the army of voices in your head?

 

We all know what it’s like, the sweat, the shadows, the silence. Put down your battle axe.

 

The wind calls us both to the labyrinth.

 

PROMPTuesday #173: Found

 

Have you ever organized your desk, scoured the attic, or browsed garage boxes and found old letters from lovers, high school friends, or…yourself? Encased in dust, scourged by yellow, or just plain unread for years?

 

I did recently, and was amazed at how so much — and so little, really — has changed. In a recent bureau drawer cleanse, I discovered 1989 letters I wrote my mom from college, and the trademark insecurity, flippantness, and introspection is there; as are a girl’s words spoken into the world unfolding in front of her.

 

Eye-opening, sobering, amazing, centering, and bittersweeting.

 

Meanwhile, would you share one of your “found” letters here? It could be from someone else (bonus points for juiciness) or from YOU to someone you love/d, hate/d, admired, cherished, dumped, believed, married, broke.

 

Please post your letter (bonus bonus points for pictures AND explanation) in your blog and leave a link in the comments here.

 

First time to PROMPTuesday? Read a bit about it here. Want to see what’s been written in the past? Catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.

 

P.S. I’ll be back here tomorrow to expand/expound/post the letter I wrote as shown above.

 

The Vast and Beautiful Sound of Silence

 

In the days when I’d visit my dear friend Rebecca, I remembered silence. Those afternoons of unrelenting nothing. Of near to zero noise and conversation and TV buzz. So many days, a million, we’d sit cross-legged from each other, she in her rocking chair, I in a vintage gold velvet-covered, straight-back number, and just melt into air. In complete repose, Rebecca would cross her hands over her chest of many colors — how she loved color — while I’d struggle for something to say to bridge the vast resounding quiet. There was this teeny smile that’d play over Rebecca’s lips because she knew how I roiled against the not talking and filling the gaps with small talk, but as always, she knew me well enough to know I could learn a lesson.

 

My eyes darted and skimmed and eventually settled because if someone doesn’t want to talk, no amount of your nervousness is going to make her. I smelled the musky dried lavender she’d collected a year earlier and placed in one of her small glass containers, probably a jelly jar; and I heard the calla lilies outside her window stroke each other’s silk, and there was a clock ticking. Soon enough, I stopped hearing it. But there were pictures — so many! — that she painted with an impossibly steady hand for 92 years old, and scriptures, and newsboy caps on boys who’d died in 1912.

 

And I absorbed them all into my ether until I’m quite unseparate from those melting minutes days.

 

We didn’t stay that way too long because Rebecca took pity and pulled out something she wrote or I wrote and asked me to read. All this naked nearness — without silly sounds to plug the ticking clock — let me hear who I was and what I wanted and who I was, to me, the most important part because we do forget.

 

There’d be these simple, so complicatedly simple sentences she’d give me, which against the billowing silence grew round and profound and distilled the deepest confusion of the soul into its smallest part — you know who you are, you know who you are, you know who you are.

 

She knew who I was.

 

She made it so I would know too.

 

Now there’s noise, most which I make myself. Taking the time to take time is lost like feathers to the wind. I hear, I say, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” and it makes me tired and scattered. I’ve forgotten to look inside. There’s too much outside.

 

But I’m quite unseparate from those melting minutes days.

 

Because there is always the silence.

 

It calls like November, like crossed hands on a chest, an empty chair, dried flowers breaking when you don’t notice, when you’re asleep even while awake; it cries, it keens, it pulls at you.

 

It knows who you are.

 

And if you’re lucky you find the person, you even, who listens until the noise outside fails to scare you into who you are not. Any more.

 

Holiday Entertaining: Food/Drink Ideas!

Entertaining, especially holiday style, ranks way up there as one of my favorite feel-goods. I dig putting menus together, selecting festive cocktails, and planning stupid party games my husband nixes (i.e. throw random strangers together, hand them one word written on a file card, make them talk about it amongst themselves). (Every time, he says no and breaks my spirit) (I call it a “Conversation Party.”) (Or I would. If my spirit weren’t broken and hanging precariously by one fragile soul thread.)

 

Lately, we haven’t had as many people over like we did in the old days, pre-recession and economic suckage, but I still like to fantasize about what I’d do if I were to plan a shindig. At the very least, I enjoy coming up with appetizer/drink ideas to bring to other people’s parties. That’s fun, too.

 

Coincidentally, last week, I was invited to a party hosted by Fresh & Easy (the grocery store, Pervo EntendrePants), and came across so many cool apps and drinks to serve that I had to share it with you. So you can serve them at your Conversation Party your husband would probably let you have if you asked. (I mean, come ON! The strangers get to know each other during the forced conversation that would only be awkward for probably the first 10 minutes. Or until everyone left immediately.)

 

At any rate, here’s what I would serve:

 

-FOOD-

 

Cranberry Sausage Skewers

 

 

What you do:

Take Fresh & Easy’s Cranberry Sausage (sliced), sweet potato cubes and tomatoes, put it all on a skewer, quick grill it, then glaze with Fresh & Easy pineapple/cherry glaze.

 

Butternut Squash Risotto Cakes

 

What you do:

Scoop out balls (watch it, Pervy) of Fresh & Easy’s Butternut Squash Risotto and freeze about 20 minutes until firm, but not frozen.
Then coat the balls (I HEARD THAT) with a beaten egg mixture and Panko bread crumbs. Place on a baking sheet, spray with extra virgin olive oil, bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, let cool, and serve.

 

Pumpkin Bisque

 

What you do:

Warm, pour in shot glasses, serve. (I loved these bisque shooters because sometimes pumpkin overpowers, but these offered just the right amount of festive deliciousness.)

 

Fresh & Easy Triple-cream Brie, Spinach and Artichoke Purses, Shrimp Platter, Fruit and Dip Plate.

 

What you do:

Try not to eat all at once. These are ready to go, and major temptresses. Especially the Brie. Best I ever had, no lie.

 

-DRINK-

 

Fresh & Easy Dreamstone Pink Moscato

 

What it is:

A pretty sparkling wine that’s a great start to a party. And it’s less than $5 a bottle. This also makes a cool hostess gift.

 

Fresh & Easy Doon Buggy Red Blend

 

What it is:

A blend of 90% Syrah, 10% Merlot that is mellow and under $10.

 

Fresh & Easy Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider

 

What it is:

A non-alcoholic, seriously flavorful, holiday-ey drink. This was my favorite. It’s a really nice option to offer people who don’t drink.

 

-THE EXTRAS-

 

If nothing else, you must procure the Fresh & Easy Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake.

 

Take it from a cheesecake head (I went to college in Wisconsin!)

 

And to sum up: Enjoy the holidays. Let me know if you talk your husbands into my Conversation Party brainstorm. First two words to discuss: AWESOME IDEA.

 

{{Fresh & Easy does not know I posted this. But they did give me granola and nut clusters (SHUT IT PERVY.)}}

 

The Birthday Year

I turned eight on November 22, 1976. I asked for pierced ears and ballet lessons. Not normally accustomed to receiving what I wanted — my mom substituted items for what she thought would be more suitable (an encyclopedia set; a sporty Mickey Mouse watch with his tennis ball as the second hand; a bible) — my mind blew when one San Francisco fall morning, I opened up a box of pink ballet shoes, and a promise for pierced ears. I promptly called my best friend, Laura Tomasini, and asked her to come with me for the piercing, and to please please please ask her mom if she could get her ears pierced, too.

 

Her mom said yes, (this was turning out to be a wondrous birthday of many delights), so we all hightailed it to the mall and the waiting ear guns. For some reason, I, normally afraid of everything and nothing all at the same time, could care less that holes were about to be punched into my ear lobes, flitted from jewelry rack to jewelry rack. “These,” I said, holding up a pair of blue mushrooms, “I want these.” Enamel with fake-gold-filled posts, it was no wonder infection raged through my ears a scant week later, but they were MY earrings, MY infection, MY symbol of best-friendship. Because Laura got them, too.

 

We gallivanted about Foster City, CA like we owned the place. Hey look everyone! We’re best friends! And also! (Said I) I’m a big girl now! A big girl with jewelry in her ears, and ballet slippers upon her feet (never mind that most kids had been taking ballet for five years already).

 

Speaking of which, at those ballet lessons, my severe-cheeked Russian instructor directed her class to NEVER eat meat, because it would make you less graceful, not to mention we were killing animals, so for the next five years, I refused to eat anything of a killed-animal nature; a practice that drove my Wisconsin-raised father absolutely nut-shit. But the decision was mine, I was a girl of independence and my own vegetarian practices, and by GOD, I would grow up whether he wanted me to or not.

 

Nineteen-seventy-six was also the year I moved away from Laura Tomasini, and my ballet teacher, and Foster City. It was how I started over in so many ways, finding out who I was and where I’d go.

 

Even now, I remember that time as when I became me.

 

And I see the same in my daughter, turning eight in a few months, asking for pierced ears, and I wonder how my parents felt as I began, ever so slowly, to move away from them.

 

PROMPTuesday #172: Laundry List

You know how such complicated things are really quite simple? Like, you want to work out? WORK OUT (San Diego Momma). Or, you want to write a book? WRITE A BOOK (San Diego Momma). Or maybe you’ve been meaning to reclaim your soul from social media saturation. STOP TWEETING SO MUCH AND WRITE YOUR BOOK (San Diego Momma). So for today’s writing prompt, I’d love you to laundry list something that sounds complicated, such as:

 

How to avoid that overwhelmed feeling:

1. Set boundaries.

2. Tell people no.

3. Tell other people yes.

4. Sleep more.

5. Wake up earlier.

 

See? Done! Tra la la la la! A feeling of calm probably just came over you, am I right?

 

As for YOU, laundry list something. And…Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

First time to PROMPTuesday? Read a bit about it here. Want to see what’s been written in the past? Catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.

 

Holiday Comforts

(This post is sponsored by Tempur-Pedic, the brand millions of owners trust to deliver their best night’s sleep every night. Enjoy our Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer now and give the gift of custom comfort to someone you love.)

 

 

The people I love.

 

I’m hesitant to admit this, because I make fun of these people every year, but I’m secretly playing holiday music already. And in that vein, I’ve noticed that holiday commercials are airing earlier than usual. Is it just me? It’s not even the middle of November yet, and I’m already feeling Christmas. Thank God, too, because in all honesty, the last few years have rushed by without me getting in the spirit at all. I hate writing that, I really do. Because as I put the words down, I realize that I haven’t been in the Christmas mood for more than just a few years. It’s been since 1997.

 

Wow. There’s some honesty for you. I wasn’t even aware of that myself until I read it right now. But it makes sense I suppose, because 1997 was the year my mom passed away. It was November 10, just weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas. No one in the family felt much like celebrating, so the four of us kids and my dad escaped to Lake Tahoe for a week to avoid the heaviness of what being home meant. We spent Christmas Eve at an Italian restaurant, each of us alone together, numb and clutching at the ghost of the person who should have been in the sixth chair.

 

Since that year, a lot’s happened. I got married, had two kids, moved to the town I live in now. But the holidays have this…sad aura…about them now. Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday. She draped tinsel, lit candles, and hummed carols, usually the day after Halloween. Once we all moved out of the house and into college dorms, she’d call us first thing November 1, excitedly planning when we’d be home for the holidays and could we stay a few extra weeks? Maybe go see the Nutcracker with her? Or to midnight mass?

 

I miss that, and her, and how I used to feel at Christmas.

 

So I suppose my inner self decided to not feel Christmas anymore.

 

But then, my dad got sick. Just last month, in October of this year, I rushed to be with him in the hospital — all of us kids did — and I all at once realized how I’d closed myself off to…feeling. Sitting in the hospital, considering the passage of time, and the temporariness of the hours you have with the people you love, and that shutting down doesn’t protect you, it prevents you; considering all that, I unfolded. Quite in spite of myself, the spigot of emotion opened again, and it hurt and it sucked and it was great.

 

My dad is all right. I’ll see him again for the holidays. Because I can’t escape Christmas, and its memories of those I loved who aren’t here with me now. I HAVE people I love with me now. Right now.

 

So I’m playing holiday music early.

 

This post was meant to be about holiday comforts. And so it is. Because what more is there this time of year – any time of year – than the people you love and who love you, wherever they may be.

 

Comfort is the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday gift list, so be sure to take advantage of Tempur-Pedic’s Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

 

I’m Doing a Body Cleanse

Not sure if you all remember this:

 

 

Or this:

 

 

Or way back in the day, this:

 

(I used to have semi-musculature!)

 

But here’s what’s been happening:

 

Hold on…I need to find the most apt word…

 

The one that really sums up my healthy activities of the last three months.

 

It needs to the just-the-right word.

 

Realllly perfect.

 

Um…

 

WAIT!

 

I got it, Jove!

 

It’s nothing.

 

Nothing’s been happening.

 

A BIG, FAT absence of something.

 

I have sat on my butt and unexercised less in the past few months than in all the trimesters of my pregnancies put together.

 

I am so unhealthy. Like, really, grossly, unkemptly, portly-ey, greasily, gassily, unhealthy.

 

I don’t even CRAVE green things anymore. Unless the green thing is made with a soft serve ice cream dispenser or Wesson Corn Oil.

 

In addition, I think high fructose corn syrup is a vegetable.

 

And there are more nachos in my gut than rosaries in Rome.

 

So when, yesterday, a lovely, glowing woman of health asked me if I wanted to cleanse next week, I said no.

 

But then my ass said yes.

 

And because my ass could smother me in my sleep, my ass won.

 

So I will cleanse.

 

With this stuff:

 

 

And there are solids on the plan, so I will not die of liquid asphyxiation, I hope. (Each day I get two fresh pressed green juices, a superfood smoothie, raw soup, salad, immunity elixir, teas, supplements, and other amazing items of health!)

 

I start Monday.

 

And I end Monday. (I’m just testing it out, see.)

 

But apparently my healthy button will be re-set and so will my ass deflato button.

 

Stay tuned!

 

And if you live in San Diego, there’s a special going on this cleanse until November 10. Let me know if you’re interested in knowing what it is, and I will tell you who to contact.

 

Sincerely,

San Diego Momma, Ass Association of America, Honorary Member and Hall of Famer

 

P.S. I’ve never done a “cleanse” before unless you count the six days before Prom ’85 when I only ate candy corn.