The Workbook.

November 29, 2012 § 10 Comments

Each night at about three, I am suddenly awake, with no transition between dream and full alertness.

It is an artifact from being a young mother who had to go from dead asleep to wide-awake in the moment when my baby drew that deep jagged breath and began to cry.

With no baby to run to in that wakeful moment, I begin to think. The world is dark and, aside from the quiet mantra of my husband’s steady breathing, almost silent. It offers few distractions.

Sometimes, I wake up, not to an empty brain, but to an idea.

The other night, I woke up to the clear picture of a workbook, the kind in which a kid might practice the loopy letter L. I could almost smell its grainy acidic pages. The wire spiral that held it together had the slightly crushed look of a notebook carried in a backpack.

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Instructions for travel.

November 22, 2012 § 21 Comments

You will arrive wet and confused in a place too brightly lit, too cold.

But don’t worry, they’re waiting for you.

They will hold you and keep you warm.

You will discover the things I have packed for you as you need them: the good pair of hands, the strong legs, the mind that will throw questions back at me like winged darts.

I also tossed in waltz time and boogie woogie and two feet that’ll know just what to do, so enjoy.

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Fiction Among (Girl) Friends.

November 14, 2012 § 7 Comments

There were twelve of us, all women, who had signed up to share a house and a week; writers on retreat.

I don’t know how men would prepare for seven days of cloistered togetherness.

We began with a buzz of emails introducing ourselves, our hopes, our fears, our wine and stiffer-drink preferences for evenings after we’d finished writing.

As it turned out we never finished writing.

Luckily we could multi-task.

Someone suggested that hats would be nice for our group shot.  In our minds we were already a group.

During our first dinner, one of us took a steely look around the table, asserted that we were all women here, then took her uncomfortable bra off, Houdini style–if you’ve never seen this slick move, it all happens inside the gunnysack of a woman’s shirt.

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The running stitch.

November 5, 2012 § 10 Comments

The first stitch I ever learned was the running stitch.

It’s easy-cheesy.

Weave the needle back and forth through the fabric for several stitches—be sure to leave enough of the pointy end free so you can grab it and pull.

Needle, then thread, slide through the fabric, the thread stopped by the knot that was spit-twisted, rolled against a finger and pulled tight (a much more difficult skill to master than the running stitch).

The stitch can be neat or loping and erratic—I’ve been teaching this stitch to the kids at my library and have watched needle wobble through fabric leaving a trail of stitches like bird tracks on snow.

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The amateur.

November 1, 2012 § 13 Comments

I am new at being old. Although, at sixty-one I can probably maintain my amateur status a while longer.

Having always been young my subconscious reaction is that being old is something I will get over, like  a cold. I will look in the mirror and the face I see will be the one I know, not my mother’s.

I avoid my first-thing-in-the-morning reflection.

Words like “tousled” make the disheveled state of waking up sound cute.

The old do not get tousled. Their hair just sticks up funny and their faces, when slept on wrong, stay creased a long time.

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