Friday, February 21, 2020

Parts of Self

A big chunk of me has slipped back into place unexpectedly.  I call it my nature girl.  Suddenly I’m appalled by fracking---especially in Pennsylvania.  And by the continents of discarded plastic, ghost ships cruising ominously across the ocean.  By the pellets of plastic lodged in the throats of seabirds and whales.  I don’t want to shout slogans or disrupt traffic or get arrested.  But I do want to write letters, post in my blog, watch what plastics I consume. 

This part of me went underground for the past 20 years.  It was the “biological imperative” that hijacked me, the compulsion to have a child. The cultural imperative for women.  But I wanted it, wanted to nurture another person into his or her genuine self: whole, authentic, happy.

Last night, Max’s face was bright with excitement over a new girl.  “She’s already beautiful,” he said. “If she puts on a little makeup, I won’t be able to look at anything else.”

Yet just the day before, he’d alarmed me and my husband and his teachers with a declaration of unhappiness and depression, completely uncharacteristic of him.


I was walking home on a cold crisp February morning in Minnesota, about 16 degrees, the ground still covered in snow.  As I rounded the corner a half block from home, I caught the sound of a wind chime, swinging from a tree in our neighbor’s backyard.  It was blowing gently, each long tine tapping the others, speaking the deep, minor notes of an old church bell.  Then the sound lifted, no longer originating from the actual chimes but now the voice of the wind itself speaking a gentle reminder: go to whatever church you know, worship what or whom you can, remember gratitude for all your beloveds (my husband, my son) and for the long privilege of living, here, on earth.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Staying Connected, Letting Go

Here's an experiment with dogs.

The dog has not eaten for 24 hours, and the owner's been gone for the same amount of time.  A door opens.  At an equal distance from the dog is a bowl of food and the owner.  What does the dog do?

He runs to his owner.  The ecstatic greeting ritual comes first.
Right now, my cat is sitting on my open notebook and head-butting my pencil.  He lives to go outside. But when we get home after a six-day trip and walk in the door, there’s a moment of hesitation.  He glances outside, maybe even takes a step in that direction.  But he turns back. 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

My Son Gives Me A Gift

I mentioned you twice already in my creative writing class, Max said.

Really, why?

I told them you were a writer.  That’s why I was taking this class, to see what you had gone through.

I blinked.

And to see if I wanted to do it, he added.

My throat closed.

Cool, I said, casual.

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Forging the Second Self: A memoir in progress.

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