A List of Hobbies I Gave Up When I Got Serious About Writing

Baking Gardening Thai food cooking Garage sales Beadwork Jewelry making Watercolor painting T-shirt painting Apron painting Hot gluing used coffee filters to the tops of glass jars and stamping them with Amish-style stamp designs Hot gluing cotton balls to the tops of glass jars and then gluing fabric over the cotton balls to make the lids puffy and then filling the jars with candy Wreath-making from vines I cut from random bushes on the side of the road Knitting Cutting hearts out of the pages of old books and Mod Podging them to glass jars and putting candles inside Mod…

Work Hard

  I have a saying in my classroom: We work smarter not harder in Wanket World. (My name is Mrs. Wanket at work. I know. I know.)  That doesn’t mean we don’t work hard. It just means we work with purpose and focus on our collective and individual goals. We don’t flail around with busy work. We have goals. We do more in such a way that we get more. More skill, more pages written, more ideas explored. The classroom scene gets me to thinking. . . .I can do so much more in all areas of my life with just a…

Imagine

If you don’t believe in magic, stop right here. This post will just annoy you. Hello everyone. Let’s take a deep breath. We can speak easy now that the muggles have excused themselves. This is a story about notebooks that make the impossible come true. You can buy one of these notebooks for yourself from any purveyor of notebooks. You’ll know when you find a magical one. You might already have one in your possession. Probably it’s the journal you’re already using. Once in a magical notebook, I wrote that I would find for my family a specific kind of house with…

Avoid Complaint

Today, I complained at one point that it was still morning and not lunchtime. I complained about Loretto High School closing while I was still working there. (This was a sad event, and perhaps worthy of complaining about. Seven years ago.) I complained about the requirement of having to stop at a stoplight on the way to my child’s dentist appointment. We had plenty of time. We got there early, in fact. Right now I’m complaining about my complaining. Language makes reality. Complaining does not reflect reality. At the stoplight I was a woman in America with the means to…

Write Letters On Paper

My friend Laura and I have been exchanging handwritten letters for twenty-eight years. The first is from the summer of 1988. I still have it. The last was from over a week ago. I read it and reread it. My friend Laura is an excellent artist and writer. She is a storyteller like no one else I know. When email started being a thing I was afraid our letters would stop. She lives in L.A., I live in Northern California. Email was so easy. We can’t write too many emails, I warned her.  I shouldn’t have worried. Now we message…

Remember Savasana

Today is a Sunday with no plans. Nowhere to be. At some point I’ll need to venture to the grocery store for lunch fixin’s for the week. That will take maybe thirty minutes. I did a little laundry. Made eggs for my daughter and her friend. Straightened up a bit. Putzed. Now I’ll write a few letters. Read. Think about things. Wander into the backyard and marvel at the plants and trees. My sweetheart is a good gardener. Two of my favorite TV characters when I was little were Farmer Green Jeans from Captain Kangaroo and the Professor from Gilligan’s Island….

Just Say Thank You

This was me when Sue, the wonderful organizer of Sacramento Stories on Stage, first asked me to send her my work for consideration: “Oh, no.  Are you sure you really want it? I’m not that good.” My friend Valerie grabbed my arm. “When someone asks to see your work, always just say thank you.” Thanks, friend. I needed that. My first reaction to a compliment, a gift, a favor, or an offer, is some kind of waffle-mouthed “Oh no, surely you don’t mean it, I don’t want to be a bother, I couldn’t possibly accept.” Reader, it’s bullshit. I never…

Be Generous

2016 is going great so far. Amazing great. For example, this month a friend gifted me with a two-day writing workshop with the author of the truly excellent short story collection Refund, National Book Award Finalist Karen E. Bender. I am an enthusiastic fan of Ms. Bender’s work and vision, and I was going to have the chance to work with her in a small group format. In the two-day workshop, we listened to Karen Bender’s wisdom about the craft of writing fiction. All of the participants read one another’s work and came prepared with notes on each story. Everyone got a turn for…

When I Spill Coffee on My Laptop Say Thanks

I had an entire year once of annoying events. It started on January 1st when a tree fell on our house in a terrible storm. Our kitchen floor became alarmingly spongy. The water heater broke. An airport van driver ran into my car door in the Safeway parking lot and drove off without even giving me her name. Money shrank as the list of wrong and broken things grew. A strange string of other distressing people and events served to vex us throughout the year. We invented a comforting mantra: Well, that was annoying but at least it wasn’t evil. As a sort of bookend…

Fire the Introject

The introject, as I understand the term, is the critical, disparaging voice we hear inside our heads after being criticized and disparaged over a period of time by others. That is, if there were people in my life who hurt me, I continue their abuse on myself long after the relationships with those people are over or minimized. I’ve done some serious inner work this past year over firing my introject. It hasn’t been easy. This isn’t about going to the sink and getting a glass of water and feeling better. This is about taking an honest look at the…