I mean to make you a life raft

I mean to make you a life raft

One of the interesting parts of my work, and the work of anyone who works for themself, is sharing it with the world, marketing it. You can create a beautiful offering, but if you don’t let people know about it you’ll be the only one at the party. This is what I was thinking about a few mornings ago as I debated whether to share a new Wild Writing program I’d just created. The day before we’d all witnessed the spectacle of madness outside of the Capital building, and if you were like me, that was all you were thinking about. Still, for weeks I’d been preparing to launch this offering I was excited to share with people, and now I wasn’t sure if it were the right thing to do, whether it was tone deaf when all sorts of dark craziness had been unleashed into the world. There were more important things to focus on than creating a writing practice. I remember at the beginning of the pandemic, days after being told to shelter in place, I was getting the same emails I got all the time from clothing companies trying to sell me jeans, or furniture companies trying to sell me living room sectionals. There were discounts on skin cream and hair products, and I was like, what the hell, people, really? There’s an invisible virus out there and you want me to think about my skin? One thing that matters to me very much is paying attention to the world around me … I want my work to be a life raft in the midst of...
I Dream of Pie

I Dream of Pie

I wrote this entire blog post in my sleep this morning. Which is to say, I dreamed that I had to make all these pies – savory and sweet – for a wedding, but that I’d put the task off – probably because pie making intimidates me – all those special things you have to do get the crust right. To make matters worse, there was this big sack of pie filling leaning against the kitchen table that was on the verge of going bad, but in the dream, someone told me there was still time to make the pies, so I took a big breath and I baked. This was the blog post I was going to write, me telling you about the courage it took to make some pie. I woke up at 5am this morning to transcribe the story, and as I entered the kitchen, I realized there was no wedding, there was no pie making, there wasn’t even exactly a blog – there was just this dream that I thought was real. I honestly thought the whole thing had happened. I stood there for a minute lost in the gauzy fabric that separates real life from dream life, and it took me a moment to sort it out, me standing there in my kitchen at 5am in the gray morning light, my pajama bottoms sweeping the floor because they’d lost their elastic years ago. No pie to be seen. It’s been a year like that; the life before, the life now – how what seemed like a dream, an impossible way to live, has become...
Spooning with my Mother

Spooning with my Mother

Well, I finally got the courage to ask my 83-year-old Mother if she wanted to spoon with me in bed.  I’d been wanting to ask her to cuddle for days, ever since my daughter and I arrived at her house earlier in the week. My Mother’s house is small, perfect for one, with a little bedroom and an office. It’s bright and sunny with windows which look out into the garden. I was supposed to be sharing the fold out couch in the office with my 25-year-old, but it proved too tiny for two grown ladies. So after a few nights of tossing and turning, I headed over to Mom’s bed down the hall, which she shares with her two little dogs, Jack and Jackie. To this day I do not know which is which, but my Mother speaks to them as if they are her children. “You’re as close to human as possible,” she whispered to the fluffy white one just two minutes ago as I sat here writing, “but better,” she cooed. The first night I gingerly peeled the covers back on the far side of Mom’s queen-sized bed so I could slip in unobtrusively – almost like I was never there. My plan was to sleep and rise without messing up the sheets. Partly because I felt like I was intruding, but also something deeper, and which would take me a few days to understand. We’d come to L.A. to help her with some house projects, and to give her company during the pandemic, which she’d weathered alone with the dogs. We’d work in the garage,...
What Belongs to Us

What Belongs to Us

(From a line from a Marie Howe poem of that same name.) Not the way I set my alarm for 5am so I could get up and make her coffee before she set off for 12 hours on the road. Not the way we sat across from one another at the kitchen table in the dark, her blond hair stuffed under a scruffy cap, her face unwashed, her glasses smudged. Not the blue fish earrings she thought she had lost the day before. How she said she loved fish earrings, and that I didn’t know that about her, my own daughter. How I said whatever she thought she’d lost I would find. Not the way I opened the iron gate for her car 10 minutes later, how I’d gone out into the yard, my loose pajama bottoms trailing in the dirt, a lit stick of sage in my hand as I walked around her car, blowing smoke on it to protect her from the road. How she stood in front of me, arms extended, eyes closed, so I could blow the smoke all over her, something my ex, her father always did to me when I’d leave the house for a trip. How I’d often roll my eyes that he believed a little sweet smoke could save me. Not the memory of the day two weeks earlier when she drove to California from Boise, and had literally crawled in the bathroom window to surprise me, a plan she and Ruby had hatched a week before. How when I saw Zoe standing there, I sunk my head into her neck...
Uncertainty Soup

Uncertainty Soup

Prior to Covid, I was one of those people who liked to say things like, “change is inevitable,” and “everything is transient” – the words floating out of my mouth, making me sound like the good Buddhist I wasn’t. I wasn’t a liar, I just didn’t know what I was talking about. Yes, I’d let go of a long marriage, and I had watched my father die – which, 11 years later still feels inconceivable as I scan for him in crowds, sure he’s out there somewhere. My children have moved away, an important and deep relationship ended this year, my ex husband is about to move out of state with a new partner. I do understand that things change, but it wasn’t until the entire world fell to its knees in what seemed like a matter of days that I felt the truth of impermanence and got an actual taste of the fragility of our lives. The poet, Ellen Bass, has a beautiful passage in her poem If You Knew… What would people look like if we could see them as they are, soaked in honey, stung and swollen, reckless, pinned against time? I’ve read this poem many times, but I think I preferred it as just a pretty thought – something that would be good to remember when I could, but not practice if I didn’t have to. I remember the day in March when I first heard the term “sheltering in place,” and how I kept forgetting it over the days that followed. I’d turn to my daughter and say, “Sheltering where? What are we doing?” Or the...