A Lesson in the Wheelhouse

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This is fine. It’s really fine, in fact.

I am not, contrary to popular opinion, a people person.

I write what makes me comfortable and sometimes what makes me squirm. Or I just sit on one end of the picnic bench.

Unabridged Adventure Series: The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays

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Two tickets from State Capitol Tours on page 131.

“It weighs 10,000 pounds. It has over 200 light bulbs. A Volkswagen would fit inside. Capitol rotunda chandelier designed and made by Louis Comfort Tiffany. For more information call 360-586-TOUR.”

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Unabridged Adventure Series: A Pleasing Birth

As promised, the Unabridged Adventure Series now continues outside of my dictionary. On to other used books! The first I came across this week while doing my prenatal homework: A Pleasing Birth: Midwives and Maternity Care in The Netherlands by Raymond De Vries. On page 246, a note. Addressed to me?

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The note in its entirety:

“Hi Christine–

I hope you want to join us for another adventure.

–Heather”

Reason not to Write #8: Naps.

I love naps, plural. And long walks. And small talk with strangers. But I learned at an early age that careers don’t generally include these activities. (I felt astutely prepared for a nine to five.) It took me a while to confront the lion in my driveway: what is productivity?

For a while it felt productive to sit in front of the computer and try. That is, until I realized I wasn’t writing. Anything. (Blank pages provide poor inspiration.) But naps gave me vivid dreams; aimless walks set scenes.

What did you do today? someone asks.

Took a few short naps, went for a walk, talked to this guy I didn’t know.

I dread the question to this day.

 

As it turns out though, I’m maturing. I’m also fortunate to live with a supportive husband in a place where art has value. And so it might, after all, only be my neighbor’s housecat.

In the Black Forest, Germany

In the Black Forest, Germany

 

Book Club Update

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We forgot to take photos, so there aren’t any. Look for staged shots later.

We found the book readable but not worth re-reading nor re-recommending. No link will follow.

We found the food good. The company lively. The lingering husband short-lived and two mingling cats unusually friendly.

My Girl Canon

Catch 22

A friend of a friend has a new worthwhile website up and running. Check it out today to read a list of the ten books that have most moved me. Read below for a more detailed description. Or follow them here: http://girlcanon.tumblr.com/.

Girl Canon- About Us

“The power of a personal canon, secret or not, lies in the authority one needs to create it. Women need to trust that they know what’s good, what’s bad, and what serves them intellectually in order to reject or reclaim the books in their lives. […] What “No Regrets” argues for most powerfully is the right of women to reject that line of thinking and to believe that they are qualified to decide what literature should be. It argues for the public claiming of formerly secret canons: the right to create your own vision of what is best in the culture and to have that vision influence what books other people read and value.” – Sady Doyle, “The Perils of Reading While Female,” In These Times, 2014.

We are GIRL CANON, and we want to know what you read.

grrrlcanon [AT] gmail.com

Happy Friday.

Sometimes, by the end of the week, everything sits just right. But sometimes it’s Friday morning and I do this. Really.

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I Have Been a Writer

I have been a writer since sixth grade. A quick response to the common question, What do you want to be? (For the record, my teacher, whose name I fortunately cannot remember, then also quickly said, No, no I mean, what do you really want to be, like for a career? Her response will be addressed in a much later much angstier post.)

Later that same year, I wallpapered my bedroom with my own (mostly terrible) poetry. (Below is a brooch I’d like to buy on Etsy.com.)

For Progress in Writing

So this writing career is  approximately twenty years old. And yet, I have never belonged to a book club. Sure, sure, I’ve debated plenty of books. In living rooms, literature classes, at bus stops. Once I even debated Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead in a public restroom. The arguing went on for so long that three of my friends eventually came in to see if everything was all right. Freshman year of college at Brandeis University, we all were required to read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, but that’s the closest I’ve come to the official tradition.

Truth be told, I’m not much for traditions or clubs, or even large gatherings. I prefer intimacy. I prefer not having things in common. A lot of times, I simply prefer to be left alone.

On Friday, however, all this will (at least temporarily) change. A mix of intelligent women will gather, some of literary backgrounds, some not, and we will eat and drink and discuss Richard Morais’s The Hundred-Foot Journey. I’m skeptical. I’m excited. I’m unsure what to expect. I will be there to listen.

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Happy Friday, to me anyway.

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I love rain. Cold rain. Hot rain. Just right rain. Rain that spits or soaks or wakes you up in the middle of the night as it slashes sideways against your window. And the forecast in ‘s-Hertogenosch, Nederland this weekend is nothing but, you guessed it, regen.

I love running in the rain, biking in the rain, and, most importantly, writing in the rain. Or, more accurately, writing indoors next to a big bay window and not just watching it rain but knowing, with every punch of the keyboard, that it, most certainly, is. I love day darkness and monochromatic clouds and everything gloomy that comes with the package.

I love precariously walking my laptop in some kind of plastic grocery bag to the nearest café and commandeering a window seat to write stories about the woman in the perfectly-belted beige trench coach and Gucci umbrella, the little kid decked in one-size-too-small purple slicker, the man who didn’t notice the chasm of intersection puddle that soaked his mesh tennies and white gym socks. And, if, today or tomorrow or next year, I’m the one unknowingly prancing through the puddle, I’d love it if you wrote about me too.

Oh, rain, I love it all. Head to toe. Tip to tail. Rock to rump roast. Happy Friday. Happy raining, blowing, storming, writing weekend.

Forecast 2

Return of the Unabridged Adventure Series

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As some of you may remember from a previous post, I bought, not too long ago, a five-inch-thick dictionary from 1937, which is now proudly displayed on a re-purposed deck railing stand in my living room.

I began documenting the items I found inside the book. First, a newspaper article. Then some rosesA sketch by Mom. Finally, a fern. I was reminded of all these fine findings when I accidentally flipped to the first blank page of the dictionary this morning, only to see this lonely blossom that must have somehow migrated from page 231.

I’ve decided to expand The Unabridged Adventure Series to include my entire book collection. Many copies purchased used. Many purchased new and now used, likely to contain bits I’ve left behind.

Productive Spaces: the Productivity of being Flexible

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I have a small home office. Complete with desk, shelves, printer, ambient lighting, inspiring paintings, and reference books. But in the morning, the sun comes in the house here. It’s a an empty soon-to-be baby room with psychedelic wallpaper of safari animals.

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In the spring, this trees blooms, and so I sit here, smell here, have coffee right under it. Sometimes the neighbors give me long Dutch stares. Sometimes a child stops by with a soccer ball to ask me a question I don’t understand. (I know neither Dutch nor soccer.)

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In summer, it’s usually the backyard. Everyone is close at hand, but the eight-foot-tall fences allow me only to speculate, and hence, to write. A little girl yells. A bike bell dings. Someone splashes in–what is that?–a kiddie pool. A moped passes far too quickly in the back alley.

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And none of this is as perfect as it sounds. Sometimes the writing comes; sometimes it sticks like globs of crunchy peanut butter to the back of my brain. Sometimes it rains on my laptop and I have to run inside. Soon, there will be a baby in one of my writing rooms, and so I’ll have to move on. And that is, I think, what writers do: move on. Change perspective even if it only means the domestic scenery. Write in the attic laundry room where the morning light also comes in quite nicely.

(For a short piece of fiction on this topic, see “The Year-Ago You” published online at Tethered by Letters: http://tetheredbyletters.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=380.)

Monday Metaphor

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First, you buy flowers. You love them so much you can’t seem to part. They sit in your living room, on your dining room table, on that hard-to-reach-but-totally-worth-it shelf in your upstairs bathroom where no one sees them but you and only when you’re in the tub. They sit so long that now a soft cough in the same room strips them of their petals. A politely closed door anywhere in the house. Now is time to carry them outside. And they fall apart, each pink petal adding to the story.

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Thank you, Amtrak.

Train from Bratislava to Budapest

Train from Bratislava to Budapest

I often write while watching things go by: people, scenery, that dappled horse in the back corner of a farmer’s field rearing up just as the train passes. So the writers’ residencies to be put in place by Amtrak definitely deserve a spot on my blog and my Facebook page and anywhere else I can write about them, for that matter. Thanks, Amtrak, for realizing the value of artists, the financial struggles they go through, and the ways in which you can help contribute to their success.

Click on the link above or here for The Wire’s full article.

Happy Friday.

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I don’t usually post photos of my bosom. Grammar tank tops are now the exception.

Don’t Lose it, Use it…as Inspiration

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Here, I’ll make up my own: Don’t find it, grind it. Um, maybe, bind it? All I’m saying is, go with what you’ve got.

As established by my last post, I love coffee. And this morning, I’m staying in. Above is what my coffee bag says. It was a gift, and I’ll take it.

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