Archive for March, 2010

Recently I’ve become addicted to NPR’s “This I believe” essays. I love them. Each little essay takes five minutes to read and is packed with hope, clarity and gorgeous writing. Consider a few recent titles: “How to Refill an Empty Life”, “Tomorrow will be a better day”, “The Making of a Poem.” They’re so pretty, Daddy, I want one.

I decided to try and write my own. Why not, right? I poured myself a fresh cup of coffee, put on warm socks, locked my cats out of the den and opened up Word. How long was the screen blank? Long enough to finish my coffee, grab a cookie and find a pillow for my back. I tried again…and again. I decided to just jump in and just type. I could fix it later. But after typing, “I believe” I just sat there.

Turns out, I don’t believe anything. Maybe it’s my age, or maybe the mundane details of my life have eroded my insight, but I got nothing remotely NPR-worthy to surmise. In fact, I feel devoid of any strong beliefs right now. I’ve been actively trying to be tolerant, but in espousing tolerance have I become indifferent? Have my edges gotten so soft, they’re dull?

Ah, screw it. I’m not having any defining moments, just a lot of basically fine ones – which are less poignant, but less messy, so I believe I’ll take them.

Today I believe I’m a fat mess and too old to be considering a maxi dress from Old Navy. I believe I’m the only one who picks up after herself in my house. I believe American Idol sucks this season. I believe my kitchen floor hasn’t been washed in over a month. I believe no matter how many vegetables I cut up and place in my fridge, I will always push them aside to find the cookies. I believe a nap cures all.

I believe I’m done. Anyone else out there with beliefs? Do share: what do you believe?


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The word was out. Renee Dyer was the one to tell me — find a four leaf clover and you’ll have good luck. She claimed the day after she found one, her mom bought her a Barbie townhouse. I wanted a Barbie townhouse…and white go-go boots — the patent “leather” kind with stretchy laces up the front.

The next day, I went out searching. Our yard had nuthin’, but I’d heard the family down the street, the Footes, had lots of clover. I went over and got down on my knees in their backyard. Sure enough — the Footes had clover everywhere.

I peeled apart patches. Several times I thought I had one only to find it was two three-leafed ones tangled up together. Tricky bastards. Every day I went and sat in the Foote’s backyard and picked though their lawn for hours. Funny, the Footes never asked what I was doing out there — just your basic hang-out-alone-in-a stranger’s-yard 1970’s childhood pastime.

I never found that illusive four-leafed minx, but two decades later, I married an Irishman…and Oh Danny boy, was he lucky (wink, wink). Now I’ve got a yard profuse with those obnoxious clover. They’re pushy with my grass, and they invite bees over when they flower. And of all the bazillion of them out there, I guarantee you, not one of those rude lawn-crashes has four leaves.

On the other hand, it’s supposed to be 60 degrees today. Maybe I’ll take out a blanket and a shot of Old Bushmills and go have me a look-see. My wish list is long, but I’m Irish-ish, which makes me lucky today. I’m sure I can narrow it down.

What about you? If you found one, what would you wish for?

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The writing class is over. I promised my teacher I would write a review, and I will –when I can actually figure out how to write.

I’m totally stuck. I can’t put together more than a simple sentence with risky comma placement and a serious effort to not use these…oh, how I love these…so instead I’m trying to use more of these — which I read somewhere are preferable.

So I found Betsy Lerner’s blog . She wrote this amazing book on writing. I left a comment. It was pathetic. All of the other commenters were of the New York Times variety, discussing literary concepts with polysyllabic words and obscure author references. I think I used “OMG” to express my point. OMG, so bush league.

I found another blog from a woman in my writing class (yes, instead of writing, I stalk other writers). She’s in this new essay critique group I joined, formed by some women who took the class. Her blog has writing prompts. The most recent one is to write about citrus fruit. She instructs us to “use your novel words. Practice your metaphors. Use flowerly language, then be sparse.”

So I start: Lemons are yellow. Then my brain stops. Yellow-y lemons snuggled…(more ellipses…stalling for time…). I stop. Lemons nestled together in their shiny yellow slickers. Ugh, you have got to be kidding me.

I have no metaphors, no evocative language, no sense of smell (other than: lemons smell clean – see?).

In addition, I can’t decide on a broader scope what else to write about. I read this article in Writer’s Digest that said readers come to your writing not to learn about you, but to learn about themselves — to see “what’s in it for me?” I think this is absolutely true (even if this means using a useless adjective). As I look over previous posts, I see proof. My post on my grocery list – no one cared. My summer reading list — ditto. But when I wrote about depression, my second martini, my kitten dying, my husband losing his job, people commented.

What’s surprising about this? Nothing – except that ever since I read this, I’ve been paralyzed. I can offer you nothing. I feel fine (my back hurts a little), my husband got a new job, my house is a mess, my kids are bugging me. That’s all I got. My fruit bowl is a total yawner.

Even this post — why read it? In fact, why am I still writing it?

Someone please, give me your hand and pull me over this hump. Otherwise I’m going to have to go work at The Gap — if I’m lucky, because I have no retail experience.

Okay, no clever way to end this, er…I’m done.

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