Friday, November 19, 2010

My Apologies, My Blog Has Gone Wonky

Okay, what do I do?  According to my dashboard the posts I were referring to did NOT publish.  
Yet, they show up in Google Alerts.

Did you guys get two weird posts prior to this one?  Tonight?
Again, I blame blogger and my apologies.

The last two posts were not yet to see the light of publishing.

I blame blogger of course.

I will try to post something you can actually read tomorrow.

Nighty night.

Monday, November 8, 2010

If Only High School Was As Fun As The Reunion

Despite the childish insecurities that reared their freakish heads here days before the event, I walked away from my 30th high school reunion wishing I could do high school all over again.  I wanted a do over!

You read that right.

I know.  It’s strange.  Particularly because when I was in high school I could not wait to get the hell out.  I spent hundreds of hours daydreaming about moving away and starting my life fresh and the summer after graduation, I packed my luggage and with the few mementos I held dear and off I went. 

I never looked back.

Yet, years later, here I was having the time of my life with the very people I couldn’t wait to escape and judging from the youthful squeals, tight embraces, and toothy smiles, everyone in the room was feeling the same way. 

Thanks to Facebook the rough edges of the reunion-rite-of-passage were smoothed over before we got there.  The social network provided a safe, casual forum for us to reacquaint and reveal so that by the day of the event internet familiarity quickly turned into genuine intimacy. Thirty years had knocked the wind out of the puffy chests and tugged away at the coats of armor, leaving behind a congenial and forthright group who, for at least one night, all drank happily from the same nostalgic kool-aid.

I liken the friendships made in high school to those made during summer camp, natural disasters, even war;  all products of battle creating bonds perhaps easily forgotten but never broken. With only a few exceptions, I have rarely been in a room where I felt a deep connection to so many.  I know this was, in part, an illusion.  These people don’t really know me now, they didn’t really know me then, but they know where I’m from, they know how I began, and having lived 30 years and thousands of miles away, I realized that night, that counts for a lot.

It’s a curious feeling but in the week that followed my reunion, I felt more grounded.  Rooted.  Whole.  Like missing pieces of an unfinished puzzle had finally slid into their rightful place. Corny, I know.  But true. I also felt sad, regretting friendships and fun that could have been,  time I wasted misunderstanding and being misunderstood. 

But I  have no regrets about going to my 30th.  In fact, I highly recommend it.  If nothing else, it can serve as emotional closure.  It’s enlightening.  It’s fun.  It’s a chance to focus solely on you (the single you, the you sans obligation) which in my world, and I suppose many of yours, is a rare opportunity indeed. 

I look forward to my 40th.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reunion Scoop Comes Later...

...although I will say this, I am totally glad I went.  I'll leave you hanging in suspense beyotch that I am...

Meanwhile, I read this essay by Kathryne Young in the most recent Glimmer Train.  It hit close to home as I am at this very moment, and for the last few days,  trying to resume my writer's life which has been on hold since June.  (Hence the break to READ about WRITING, heh.)

I thought it worthy for those of you who may share my pain...

Article got cut off so here is the link.  Enjoy.

On Writing, Not Writing, and the Writing Life Follow glimmertrain on Twitter

Writers are a ragtag, scattered bunch. We scribble things on napkins, on receipts, squirrel them away in pockets, in folders, in cigar boxes. In her essay, "On Keeping a Notebook," Joan Didion writes, "The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself." My mother told me something similar when I was young: you don't get to choose whether you're a writer; your only choice is whether to be a writer who writes or a writer who doesn't. What she didn't tell me then, though I'm certain she knew, is that if you're a writer and you're not writing, you will never quite be happy.
After I finished my MFA program, I wrote almost no fiction for four years. Life, as they say, was getting in the way: law school, divorce, teaching, coming out. The obstacles to writing are different in every case, but they are also the same. They are urgent, and tap our physical, emotional, financial, and intellectual resources. We tell ourselves we'll have more time soon: on the weekend, in the summer, in the winter, when the baby stops teething, when the conference is over, when we get tenure, when the house is tidy.
I started writing again when I started reading again. Haruki Murakami, Amy Bloom, Paul Auster, Miranda July, Aravind Adiga, and Don Delillo beckoned me back with their alluring characters, plights at once believable and fantastic. I listened to audiobooks on my commute; I took a solo vacation on which I did little but hike and read. When I read great things, I can't help but want to write. I began scribbling things down in a notebook again. I went back to stories I'd started years earlier. I started some new ones.

I'd like to think that my writing self is different from the self who stands in front of sociology undergraduates and dutifully lectures them about qualitative research methods. I'd like to believe she is wiser, wistful, more creative, and that she comes out of hiding on certain early mornings when the time is right and the coffee is rich and hot, that she writes a few stunning pages and slips back into bed while my other self drives into Palo Alto to make a living. Perhaps this division appeals to me because it makes me feel less guilty when I haven't written anything in a month: only my writing self can write, and she's moody. If the conditions aren't perfect, she can't be expected to emerge.

But in the end, there is only me and my busy, imperfect life. The days that I write are victories. And even after the most discouraging, least productive sessions, I never regret writing. I learn over and over that time spent writing is time well spent.
"Roadrunner" is a special story to me because it's the first thing I managed to write after my four-year dry spell. I started the story in my MFA program, but my first drafts were terrible (no climax, no development; nothing happened). I plucked it from the drawer years later because at 29, I'd finally signed up for a writing workshop again, but wasn't ready to start something from scratch. Reworking my words, understanding the protagonist, peeling away layers of the story to find its core—these things did not come easily, but they felt like coming home.
Life is short, but by God's grace, for most of us it is also long. This gives us a great deal of time to follow Samuel Beckett's famous imperative to fail, fail again, and fail better. To succeed, we have to fail. To fail, we have to try. To try, we have to put ourselves on the line—risk freezing our limited, myopic worldviews onto the page for everyone to scoff at. We don't "discover" our writing selves. We build ourselves into writers by realizing that our busy, imperfect lives are the writing life.


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