27 September 2008

like music

There are many theories about how to write. As a reader, I am most moved by works that connect me in an emotive way, the confluence of intellectual and emotional and shared human experience.

Music moves me at the same level. Or perhaps beyond as it surpasses language. It is emotive from a different direction. That being the ultimate challenge for a writer - to evoke connection in a holistic way. Breathe life into character and story, with subtlety and balance. Like music.


14 September 2008

City streets

There's noise on the street. The two strangers in front of me at the Starbucks on the corner. The produce guy who brings me fresh cucumbers from the back, talking over the counter to the woman in the bakery. The gas man trading quips with his co-workers across the pumps. My husband's friends downstairs in the Cigar Room at Kells that feels like a real old-fashioned speakeasy. Everyone's talking about it. Election. Power. Abuse of power. Counting votes, opinions, days.

While I am amused by the daily stupid human quote that makes it to the internet and then, days later, the local news, I hope to stay out of the debate. Especially the one that breaks out in my living room between the brother-in-law, nephew, and step-son.

But I enjoy the buzz. The conversation. The flight of words. Sometimes it's exactly like the old soup-can phone, string pulled tight between our refrigerator-box houses. It's like eavesdropping on the collective.

And then in the stillness of a breath, a moment of silence for David Foster Wallace. Be at peace.


07 September 2008

Turning leaves

Along the Sylvan Hill ridge, the alders bear the first speckled yellows and reds of autumn. Football season begins. The school zone lights flash and on the side of the road, there's the square flags of the crossing guard. Morning is more dark and sharp with the glint of something colder.

How did it happen so quickly this year? Where have I been?

Austin was so hot. Crater Lake was a bright, glimpse of unearthly blue. Takhlakh Lake and Rainier were a brief intake of breath and sun. Orlando was a string of conference-room days and theme-park nights, bright lights and fireworks. Was I gone so long?

Or perhaps it was just me. Flowing just under the surface, it has been a summer of grief, a thick, weighted loss that presses your head down, even some days so that you cannot see past your own feet or just barely into that small space ahead to watch for the jutted edge of sidewalk you know is coming so maybe you can keep from ending flat on your face with a bloodied lip and your front teeth knocked out.

I carved out space for it this time, gave it honor so as to allow its full course - lessons learned from old grief caught in stifled cracks of self-will and fear. But now, looking back, it was in Orlando when it began to lift.

Our midnight flight landed, and some hours later at the hotel, I swam with my daughters in an expansive, silent pool under a black sky lit by a vaguely familiar pattern of stars. The days were a flurry of schedules, new faces, lectures and PowerPoint presentations, but on the second night, we took off our shoes and I walked with my girls in the black curl of the Atlantic Ocean under the Cocoa Beach Pier, under christmas lights and a local rendition of Sublime.

We swam every night for relief from the humidity that made everything sticky damp. Hurricane Faye was incoming but not so close to be responsible for the evening lightning or that mid-afternoon downpour that moved the closing party indoors where we exchanged handshakes and hugs and then went to SeaWorld where the whales leaped and twisted in the damp air just the same, I expect, as in those sunlit commercials.

Strangers know they are sisters - my three daughters - even as they are distinctly different. As their mother, something unspoken and connective happens when I am with them. Something no less than awe rises in me to see from inside a lobby window as they walk across the courtyard and cross the bridge together. The swing of one's hair, the way this one moves her hand, the curve of the other's smile.

It was not anticipated, this change of course, not at least by me. Collectively, the smallest moments of joy throughout the summer have become entwined to keep me intact, and then unexpectedly, my daughters' presence bore me light. So that I might see the alder leaves.


01 September 2008

what stories?

Per request:

Black bird, 2008 Very Short Story Anthology, by Lunch Hour Stories, Editor's Choice Award, Dec. 2008, www.lunchhourstories.com

Falling away at the edges, Duck & Herring Pocket Field Guide Cold Weather Edition, Nov. 2008, www.duckandherring.com

Lysis complete, 42opus, Oct. 8, 2008, www.42opus.com/

Doing time in the real world, The Noneuclidean Cafe, Volume 3, Issue 2 - Winter-Spring 2008, Apr. 2008, www.noneuclideancafe.com

With the surety of a revelation, Poeticdiversity, Apr. 2008, www.poeticdiversity.org

Road dogs, Etchings IV: the Art of Conversation, Mar. 2008, www.ilurapress.com

Thicker than water, Bewildering Stories Issue 273 and Bewildering Stories First Quarterly Review of 2008, Jan. 2008 and Apr. 2008, Editor's Choice Award, www.bewilderingstories.com

Black bird, Whidbey Island Students' Choice, November Student Choice Award, Nov. 2007, www.whidbeystudents.com

Last resort, The Flask Review, Jul. 2007