Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Didn't Catch a Single Worm. Didn't Even Try.

Here's the truth. I like to sleep in. Between 7 and 8 a.m. the perfect Goldilocks temperature settles over my body. My brain swims around in the last dreams of the night. I fish for story ideas, character tics, conflict development. The day is untarnished by forgotten promises and obligations, dropped balls and time wasted. That hour in the morning contains all my greatest hopes, a sharp contrast to the hour of night that amplifies my greatest dread. Why would I spoil that one perfect hour of the day by getting up to do vertically oriented things?

Despite my lazy ways, I managed to write some pieces of short fiction and even submitted them to various literary journals. Lo and behold, a star in the east. No, wrong piece of fiction. Lo and behold, both pieces were accepted for publication and a third is forthcoming this spring.

So, maybe it's time to get back to blogging. Maybe I'm supposed to be doing other things to promote my works and the journals where they appear. I don't know. Blogging is such a relic. I don't tweet or facebook or instagram. I don't even have a smart phone. I'm not sure I'm ready to change those facts for the sake of trying to connect people to my work. I don't know where to begin. So for now, I'll get back into this and go from there.

My short fiction can be found at:

What You Don't See - Crack the Spine Issue 63

Flo's Gold - Fiction Fix (at that link, scroll down to Issue 13 and click to read.)

I'll let you know when The Safe Escape of Bears comes out in Stoneboat. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Early Birds and Catching Worms

When I opened up the mailbox today I found a letter addressed to me, from me.  Self-addressed stamped envelopes always throw me for a bit of a snail-mail loop. There's some metaphysical thing going that I'm not philosophically astute enough to analyze, but basically, it's déjà vu in a business-sized security envelope. 

I wrote the letter the morning of the last day at writer's camp, sealed it up and handed it off to a woman named Pat, who promised to mail everyone's letter out at some undisclosed point in the future. This was one of those self-check-in letters to follow-up on a week dedicated to talking about writing, thinking about writing, listening to other people's writing and even actually doing some writing, too. Toward the end of this Dear Jen letter, my back-then self asked my future-self if I was being true to the small list of personal goals I'd established to help hone my writing craft. When I read the list today, I wanted to kick my back-then self in the arse. What was I thinking? Really? That goal? Again? I shook my head and thought, "Don't I know myself better than that? Maybe I'll just never learn." 

I wish I had a tally of all the times I've said or written in a journal: "Tomorrow I vow to get up an hour earlier than normal and  ________."  At various times in my life the blank has been filled with: do yoga, meditate, go for a walk, write personal morning pages, go for a run, write fiction, revise fiction. 

Not once have I been successful at this self-improvement goal. Yes, I love worms. In 5th grade I sported stickers in the upper right corner of my desk that spelled out, "I (heart) Worms". But getting up like the proverbial early bird to catch them is just not in my constitution. Or so I tell myself. What if I could do it though? For some reason I can't seem to shake the idea that there must be magic present in the early morning hours and if only I could get my ass out of bed I might harness some of that magic for myself. It feels like a character flaw that I can't overcome the desire to push the day's beginning off as long as possible. It seems like if I could just change my night-owl into an early-bird, something would be better. But I don't really know what exactly. 

I never stop wondering what it would be like to become a morning person, to add one more hour to my day, a quiet hour. Maybe there would be magic in that daybreak hour, maybe I would come to love it, to rise from bed not with dragging feet but with an eagerness for my day to start. For many things in life I believe that we can change our behaviors with practice and persistence. I should be able to will myself into a morning person, set the clock earlier, get up out of bed and carry on. Repeat until it's a habit.  And so, here it is on my list again. Maybe this time...this time....this time...

Stay tuned....





Sunday, September 9, 2012

a run on Simple things

I worked a good day with people and at a job I love then dined on delicious food and drink with a friend for 3 hours that felt like 30 minutes, leaving us with so much more to discuss next time, next time, then drove home on congestion-free roads to my simple home where I stepped out of my car under a galaxy of stars poking pinholes in the night,  to eavesdrop on the melancholy conversation, "who cooks for you, who cooks for you",  between distant Barred Owls.

Gratitude for all the beauty that surrounds my existence.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do you have this problem too?



Pardon me for a moment while I talk about something unbecoming to a proper lady like me (hey now, is that a guffaw I just heard from you?). Car seats and shifting underwear - it's a real problem. Is it just me or is it truly impossible to remove oneself from the driver's seat without also then needing to adjust one's underthings? Maybe it's how I get out of the car. Maybe it's my underwear. Perhaps this is the unspoken reason why people opt for the "luxury" of leather seats at some point in their lives. Or does this still happen even on the decreased friction of leather? 

Do you notice other people adjusting their underwear right after they get out of the car? I'm not sure I've noticed that, and believe me, I'm watching. Or maybe people are more tolerant of skewed underwear than I am. Maybe the popularity of thongs has made car seat wedgies a moot problem. Perhaps the perpetual wedgie given by dental floss underpants offers benefits that I've been ignoring. 

Does this happen to you? If not, what do you think accounts for your ability to remove yourself from your car without underwear disruption?  And please spare me the obvious answer. I don't want to know that about you! 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Writer's Camp Fallout



Fair to middling
Mediocre amateurs,
Word, words, his, hers,
Words, words, words, blurs.
Unhinged.
Unopened.
Unable to stop.
My, his, her words,
blurs,
wordswordswordswords.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The fall of a giant

We idle three cars back from where the road worker turns the STOP toward traffic and the SLOW toward the yellow dinosaur juttering up the narrow road on its steel caterpillar tracks. All the workers wear reflective safety orange and should look burly, out-sized, like they do on the village roads. But down here in the hushed ravine, under the soaring forest cathedral, they seem almost inconsequential, furtive even. They know how the tree will fall.

It's just one more tree in a forest jammed so full. I know there are others waiting in its shadow. But this tree is not ready. In fact, there's never been a tree less ready to meet its end. Look at it and tell me otherwise. Look at how it stands there, proud without ego, strong with no effort, a sentinel along a ribbon of road, secured to a rocky stage. Think of how its gnarled and knobby roots reach down into the earth, beyond where our eyes can see, into the soul of the forest, with depth and mass that must rival what we see above.

The backhoe's bucket has been removed. Just a cylindrical metal finger juts from the end of the jointed arm. It rises up toward the prepared tree, makes contact with the wood and taps. Once. Twice. Like it's nothing more than a friendly finger hoping for the tree's attention. That's all it takes.

The first crack of the trunk's base - so big around that three of those men couldn't encircle it with a group hug, if they did that sort of thing - sounds like no more than a chicken bone, snapped in greasy fingers. Then a pause, space just big enough to take and hold a single breath before the King's Mast of a tree rends through a ringed century of growth. Boughs that towered since before these men were born, boughs that offer gentle benediction to the beech, maple and hobble-bush below, topple, whoosh and whoomp down through the arms stretched toward it. The sound never seems as big as it should. The moss and ferns, the deep years of duff, muffle the fall.

An orange, safety vest spins the STOP to SLOW.  Another catches my eye as we pass. His lips press together, his face is grim. Like mine. He nods once and I reply.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Time's Messenger


Maybe the news you've come to tell me is unexpectedly good. Maybe, as Time's messenger, you've screeched into my driveway with raucous honks, pounded at my back door on the night of my birthday, to tell me that from now on, Time's passage will be different.


The montage of my thirty-eight years bullets by like scenery through the window of a bullet train, smeared  into a silky ribbon of visions that slips through the grasp of my mind. Even just twelve years ago is too far gone to remember with any truth, it seems. "What did we cook for dinner back then, back on Walnut Avenue in Belmont?" I ask my husband. I can't remember. But neither can he. We shake our heads, laughing at our inability to remember such a simple detail and change the memory question to something more recent, more tangible and solid: "Did my parents bring us this old green couch when we lived on Dorsch Hill or not until we moved to Springfield?"  Consensus is shaky and takes a while to form. "It's gone by so fast. It's just a blur almost" we agree.


So maybe you're standing here on the threshold of my house, smirking at me because you've come to grant my wish.  Just moments ago, I'd squeezed my eyes shut, let the last line of that awful, annual anthem drift away and puffed out the candles on my cake and thought : "Oh, Time. Please slow down. Please. It's all so good now." 


Because suddenly, life is flying by. That's the catch. Once you figure out where to find your joys, the things that fill you with wonder, the love, the friendship, the connections to be discovered around every corner, time starts to go faster. I swear it does, like some kind of quantum mechanics riddle. Once you find the secret to uncovering all the nuggets of beauty, life speeds up.  I want to savor it all two times, no fives times, no infinity as long! 


And so here you are Time's Messenger, telling me with that smirky smile that you shall grant my wish. For me - no more speeding bullet train. For me - time will become like a butterfly that floats and pauses, meanders and rests.  And oh, how I rejoice at this bit of unexpected good news!  Until I realize that I can't have it both ways. There can't be both infinite time in this life and infinite moments of beauty, wonder, friendship, love.  Those things are precious because of their inevitable end, because of my inevitable end. And yours.        And yours.         And yes, even yours.  


So, Time, I take back my wish. I retract the breath that extinguished the candles on my birthday cake. Fly the way you will. Let the years blur by, the days feel too short. Let there not be enough hours to in the day to wonder over ever bit of Nature. Let me never have enough time to read Nabokov until I fully understand his dizzying prose. Let there never be enough years to hold my husband's hand as we listen to the silence of a black and starry night. 


Time - do your thing. Race!  And I'll do my best to keep up.