Ode to Joy.

February 22, 2012 § 4 Comments

There were eight of us, all women, in the spacious vacation rental on St. George Island.

With the bold act of signing on for a writing retreat we had renounced our daily lives, and even the lure of the beach.

Desperate to write, we had gone from stealing minutes from the rush of daily life to seven straight days of staring at a page or a blinking cursor.

But although each writer had come with a project burning to be put down on paper, going from stolen minutes to seven uninterrupted days was overwhelming, like being told, “Oh, go ahead, eat the whole Whitman Sampler right now.”

Confidence waxed and waned. But no one wanted to let go of the thread of their writing. The time was too precious and too hard-won. This was the one chance all year any of us had to say what we had to say perfectly and fully and without interruption.

Visits to the refrigerator provided an easy excuse to walk away, until one of the writers discovered a pulpy thesaurus among the popular novels on the bookshelf in the living room.

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February 15, 2012 § 8 Comments

I carry a mental picture for many words, including “attitude.” My image illustrates the word’s number one dictionary definition: A position of the body or manner of carrying oneself.

“Attitude” is a man hurtling toward earth. He’s fallen from a high place; not so high that death is certain, but it is definitely a possibility. What he does next is critical, how he arranges his body for impact will make all the difference.

The results of falling–or jumping–from a great height will always be bad, but how we choose to meet the moment of impact is up to us. Here are some attitudes that, while counterintuitive, often work.

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Winter in full.

February 9, 2012 § 10 Comments

Once upon a time in New Jersey I inhabited winter and it inhabited me. I knew of no place beyond its reach.

It rang beneath my shoes as I walked with my sister to the barren corner of Penn Lyle and Canoe Brook.

Standing at the bus stop, thighs pressed together, the wind funneled up our skirts. It chapped our legs from bare knees to panties.

The winter of my childhood swallowed the sun early and spat it out late. It clutched the day so close the sun could barely lift itself above the horizon.

It froze our eyelashes, our ears, our breath.

It wrote on our windows with frost.

It stole our mittens one at a time.

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Now that you’re sure you’re not Elvis.

February 4, 2012 § 7 Comments

My mother, husband, and I stood around the crib like Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmothers, imagining the life that awaited our new daughter.

“Josie will be an opera singer at the Met, or a dancer with the ABT,” my mother proclaimed.  “Or a gold medal figure skater.” She was gifting Josie with the possible futures she herself held most dear; she could wish for nothing less for her first grandchild.

I never got to express my hopes because fairy godmother, Ray, said “… or a Senior Clerk Typist.”

My mother whipped around and stared, as if her fellow fairy godmother had said, “I gift this child, the most precious ever born, with… a toaster oven.”

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