Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dear Mr. Auctioneer

Dear Mr. Auctioneer,

Here's the thing: I'm going to need my large sum of money back please.

You see I was all swept up in the moment of the evening and I'd had several glasses of that white wine they were serving by the bucketful. I was wearing my favorite summer dress, strappy sandals and a spritz of my best perfume. The babysitter and the kids were cozy at home watching a movie. There under that tent of yours, the breeze was coming off the ocean, there was shrimp on toothpicks being passed around, and my husband was like a movie star in his tie and sear sucker jacket and gorgeous proud smile. We saw friends old and new, we drank lots of wine, and it became crystallized in that moment that summer is here and I don't have to work for a loooong time.

Also, truth be told, I liked the feel of the paddle with my number on it going up in the air when you were saying, "Do I hear blahblah?" with that baritone auctioneer voice of yours. The ocean wind was blowing my hair just a bit, and I thought I looked pretty good with that wine in my system and that paddle in my hand. It felt sort of powerful and strong and decisive when I was waving that paddle with the number 242 on it. I'm not too proud to admit that I loved it, sir. And at that moment, I loved you and your command of the situation too.

And when you looked through that sea of anticipatory people, right at me, and said to everyone under that fancy tent that the item was "SOLD! to number 242, the lady's bid!" I almost crapped my pants.

Sir, it was the wine and the illusion of power doing the bidding that night. So, if you please? Could I have my large sum of money back? We all make mistakes, right?

I know, I know. The money goes to Hospice. It will help families in their time of need. There you go again with the hypnotic way of yours and that singsong blahblah voice you have. Stop it, please. I'm not drunk anymore, and I don't feel even moderately sexy without my number 242 paddle in my hands so you can save your sweet-talking for someone vulnerable and needy. I'm past that now.

I will gladly accept cash, check or credit card refund because I'm flexible like that.

Thank you so much for your understanding.

Yours in learning and growth,

-Susie (#242)

Pouring Out

When we poured her ashes into the sea, we mixed them with her oldest son's.
The waves brought them both closer to us before they pulled them away
Like a child's dreams of fame.
The two boxes of ashes were different one from the other.
She was browner but smoother
He was gray, chunkier, less uniform.
The lighthouse stood over them as they mixed with eternity
But it took a whole lot longer for them to leave shore than it seemed like it should have.
The waves churned them
But they stayed put
Gray brown in the blue ocean.
We watched and waited for a signal that we'd achieved closure
The boat in the distance had a symbolic name that I thought must be god trying to tell us something
But now I can't remember the name of the boat, so either I'm not listening or he needs to speak in plainer terms with me
But the wake helped to bring them out further, mix and agitate, dilute them, and for that we were grateful.
There were birds all around:
Gulls and sparrow like things swooping down
Into them.
Eventually we left them there in the ocean
Together without us
Blue, brown and gray

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Get Your Stuff

Yesterday we found the real, honestagod light of the late morning sun streaming through the windows in our kitchen. We saw it and we felt it. It made the dust sparkle and float like fairy dust and it had the same magical effect on us. The breeze from the ocean brought tales of a lowering tide. I brought my coffee onto the deck and sat down in one of the two Adirondack chairs, face tipped toward the sun. I thanked the heavens for making me a teacher in the summertime. What are the odds of that? Split second decision to call to the kids to get your stuff cause we're going to the beach. The sea glass isn't gonna wait around forever, I told them.

But it did wait for us, even those precious pieces of blue that we love so very much, and so did the hermit crabs and the beige baseball cap that floated in from the harbor. All those treasures greeted us at our favorite beach in town. It's the small beach where we said goodbye to our beloved Moanie, mixing our own saltwater with hers. It's the beach where we take a picture every year on the same rock so we are forced to acknowledge our kids' breakneck speed of growth. It's that beach where I can always breathe and time stands still except for the setting sun that takes me by surprise every time. It's the beach that creates tide pools just right for kids with buckets and shoes or no shoes. We make our crabby day cares and our drip castles, we crawl up on the high rocks to be the lookout pirate, we bury our feet in the sand and eat our peanut butter and jellies. We wave to the familiar people of this town who are passing by, and we drink in the joys of summer in this place.

It's summer. We live at the edge of land, just near our favorite place on earth. What do you suppose the odds of that are?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Buh Bye: Baseballs and Kitchen Guy

I've decided that my ability to blog is directly related to David Otiz's ability to crush the ball. For all you non Boston types, David Oriz is Big Papi. You know. On the Red Sox. He was crushing it and then he. Just. Stopped. But he just hit another homer. So I'm blogging.


We're planning to gut and remodel our kitchen this summer. We refinanced the house to free up some cash, and we're in the process of interviewing contractors. We're looking for someone honest and fair, someone with experience, someone who likes dogs and doesn't mind feeding them and letting them out and embracing the stray dog hairs that end up in his mouth (it's freaking everywhere in this house). He should be good with the big picture as well as the details. He should be able to pick out all the stuff for us, faucets and paint colors and all, so that we have to do pretty much nothing but enjoy the finished product. We'd like someone who can see as clearly as we can that our kids are lovely and gifted and sweet and charming. This someone should have done a minimum of 45 kitchens in the past year or two, economic downturn aside, and should most certainly be dedicated to timeliness, cleanliness, thriftiness, artiness, and funk. This person should also probably look hot in his tool belt (that part is really my idea, not Peter's so much) and he should be extremely articulate. He should hire subs who are just like him, too. And they should all listen to cool music while they work. But we'd like it if they were only here for a week or two (tops!) so as not to overstay their welcome in our house.

The first guy we interviewed was decent (he had the "hot" thing down pretty well) but he seemed to think we were a little demanding or something. I could feel it in his vibe. I think he may have rolled his eyes just the littlest bit too, and I really feel like that's no way at ALL to try to impress your future employer. I mean, hello? We have cash in our hands, buddy! From the refinance! But...yeah. That guy thought maybe we hadn't done enough leg work or something. So we said thanks but no thanks to that guy. Buh Bye, hottie.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shitty First Draft of Garbage

Anne LaMott wrote in her infinitely wise and profound book Bird By Bird, that writers should write shitty first drafts. They should lay down all of their pent up anxiety about writing, throw caution to the wind, and just write. Shitty, boring, whiny, self-indulgent stuff that even the writer herself wouldn't want to read. She believes that's the only way to begin. Anne LaMott is one of those writers who makes me wince in her pain, blush at her embarrassment, cry out in her panic, and also grieve my own shortcomings amongst her sheer brilliance in writing. So, I guess if she says to write a shitty first draft and not to sweat it anymore - to just START already - then I should do it. I should face the screen with an open heart and get to work.

Henriette Anne Klauser postures in her book Writing On Both Sides of the Brain, that in order to avoid writing paralysis, we need to completely separate the process of writing from the process of editing. The two sides' goals oppose each other, she says. One side, the editor, strives for succinct perfection and poetic cadence and the other side (the writer) is just desperately trying to get stuff out without being judged. So she says to separate the two completely. First write garbage. Then, invite your editor side to come in for a peek, but remind her to please be kind in her analysis and corrections of the draft. Henriette says the editor will respond with a polite and dignified, completely non-judgemental editing of the writing because she has been purposefully invited into the scene. Editor side will apparently be Martha Fucking Stewart.

But here's the kicker with Anne and Henriette: they say no one's going to read that first draft anyway, so what the hell's the big fuss.

Enter blogging.

You read my garbage! My shitty first drafts! Anne and Henriette told me the key is not to worry about the reader, but I do. I do!

I know you're out there reading (all three of you) and I can't quite get past it into free writing territory. You've never said a nasty thing to me, you're actually a bundle of kindness and empathy, really, but I have this nagging fear that I'll bore the living hell out of you. I want to take good care of you, reader, and when I start feeling like I can't do that just right, then I just QUIT.

Which is what happened. I got all bogged down. Paralyzed. For like a month. Or was it even more?

But I'm trying to get over that. Right now I'm trying hard to follow Anne and Henriette's words of wisdom.

Because I like to write for writing's sake as well as for your sake.

Writing is cool in a wacky fun fucked up sort of way, and I actually really dig it. And I love to read the stuff that's imperfect in its funny or sad or confused or tormented way, so why should my stuff be any different, really? I like to write.

Even if you don't like it, I guess.

But I still hope you do.

So here it is. I give you my shitty first draft and my garbage.
Come on in. Nice to see you!

Do you all get this way too?