Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wish

I am a wisher. I work hard at it. Really. If wishing was a sport I would be one of those guys that has all the gear: the hundred dollar sweat-wicking undershirt, the helmet made out of titanium, the little gloves with the fingers cut out. I know it sounds absurd, but it's true. In a way I have made a sport out of wishing.  

I've been this way since I was a little girl, finding ways to wish on anything. Maybe it's partially a belief in something magic, or the hope that if we want something badly enough we must be able to influence the world.

And there's an abundance of things to wish on if you're looking: shooting stars, dandelions, four leaf clovers, numbers, candles, scraps of paper.

But lately I've been wondering what it might feel like to let those wishes go. I've always thought that hope was the greatest virtue, the thing you must hold onto until the end. But maybe there's more beauty and grace in the act of letting go.

I kind of like the image it evokes: 

My hand holds onto a string; at the end of it floats a big white balloon. With the smallest movement, I open my fingers and that ball of hope floats off into the sky. Gone. And here I stand, empty, but free.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Venice

Today I'd like to walk those damp streets
in a thin cotton dress
as soft as well worn sheets.

I'd take your arm as we crossed
the Rialto and turn the corner
to our hotel

looking up at the bright
flags of clothing hanging
against the gray sky.

And later as we stand in
the Piazza San Marco
with the pigeons swarming

around your arms and head.
I promise to look only at you,
no longer peering

over your shoulder
past the crowd of onlookers
towards the boats in the distance

wondering if I might
catch a glimpse of
somebody that I used to know.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Ugly

Yes, I admit it, I'm one of those people who hates going out of the house without a little make up on. But that doesn't mean that I'm not afraid to show my ugly side every now and then. No, I'm not talking about the dark circles under my eyes or the way my nose gets really red in the morning. I mean the ugly side that doesn't show; the prideful, the insecure, the scared me.

Some of my favorite people in the world are the ones who wear their faults proudly instead of trying to hide them. Yes, maybe they end up sticking their foot in their mouth every once in a while. Maybe they end up looking stupid, or rude, or ungrateful. But it's those people who show their faults who also show their humanity.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather be friends with someone real and flawed and human, than someone who wants me to believe that they're perfect.

What about you? Are you afraid to let the ugly side show or do you run out of the house flapping it behind you, banners waving?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Suit

You wear yourself like a suit,
stiff, over laundered.
It hangs on you, this new self,
baggy in the chest, too wide
across the shoulders.

You must have admired it
on the hanger,
held it out in front of you,
watching the way
the expensive thread caught the light.

This is who I am now,
you thought.
Not that old version
who danced with 
wicker basket hats  
and licked the plate
after a particularly delicous meal.

So you slipped it on and set
the other aside, next to
the wide seventies ties and
the sneakers worn thin 
across the toes.

But it's too late to change back now.

If you discard this new suit
I promise not to laugh
while you stand naked,
pale skin showing
who you really are.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Remember

As a person with the memory capacity of an ant, I often dream of what it would be like to remember things. I'm related to a number of people who can not only remember the exact dinner that they ate on a trip to San Francisco ten years ago, but what they were wearing, and the conversation that they had while they were eating (Yes, Tanya, I'm talking about you!). I, on the other hand, have trouble remembering the names of my children.

So maybe I was a bit more eager than a normal person to read MOONWALKING WITH EINSTEIN: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. If there was a trick to remembering inside its pages, I wanted to learn it, stat, before I forgot anything else.

Although I might not have learned a magic recipe for remembering by reading Foer's book, I did come away with a great understanding of how and why we remember and thoroughly enjoyed his exploration of the mind as well as the goofy world of the USA Memory Championships. The ancient techniques of using a Memory Palace, which Foer describes in some detail, are not only beautiful metaphorically, but made me itch to try out. I love the image of strolling through the elegant estates inside my mind and carefully placing my memories inside their sunlit rooms.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Question

One of my favorite phrases in the whole word is "What if?" These are the words that wriggle into my brain while I'm driving, showering, falling asleep; when I read an interesting magazine article or hear an intriguing interview on the radio. They are the trigger for almost every story I've ever wanted to tell, the first two words that begin it all.

What if...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Passion

Patience, practice, perseverance, procrastination, perspective, I guess most of the things I need to work on in life begin with the letter P (besides laundry, of course). But luckily, I've always had an abundance of passion. When I think of all the things I want to do, all the things I want to learn, I'm grateful that this river will never run dry.

Sometimes I like to imagine all the jobs I'd love to have. I've been lucky enough to have some of them, while others I'll just have to wait to try out in another life. 

  • psychologist (although maybe I need my own first)
  • doctor (even though I grow faint at the sight of blood)
  • artist (in any and every medium)
  • woodworker (making craftsman style furniture)
  • professor (art, English, I'm not picky) 
  • costume designer (give me an elaborate Victorian dress and I'd be happy)
  • novelist (YA, middle grade, adult fiction... throw in a little memoir)
  • horse breeder (on a mini horse ranch of course)
  • architect (designing cozy cottages)
  • poet (why can't I just BE Billy Collins?)
  • screenwriter (just don't make me move to L.A.)
  • actor (if only I could memorize the lines)
It's times like these that I really do wish for the chance to live a hundred lives.  What job have you always dreamed of doing?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Observe

The rain this morning has washed away
the dust of the every day that clogged my vision,
uncovering a new world.
Outside the window the leaves
of the rose bushes still hang heavy
with tiny silver orbs.

The dog has decided to bring the wet inside.
His coat is dusted and the underside
of his belly is soggy and brown,
but the rain has awakened something in him too
and he prances on the slick linoleum,
before finally laying his head down
on the ground between his paws.
Looking up at us with those kind eyes.

We walk out the kitchen door
and stop to breathe that cold, wet air.
Even the mountains have noticed
the difference and to celebrate,
have dressed themselves in lacy white collars
that would make Victorian women swoon with envy.

The dog trots happily down the sidewalk,
unaware that the world has changed,
that bits of the sky float in the gutters;
puffy white clouds
and bits of blue.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nose

I'm going to try to hop back into the a-z challenge. After a rough week, my inclination was to post about nostalgia, but heck, I need a break from the weight of memories. It's time for something a little lighter.

It might seem strange, but I've always had a little obsession with people's noses. For some reason it's the feature that I usually envy most in other people. Maybe it's because I've always been a little self conscious about my own nose. I've never considered it to be huge. As I've grown, I've started to like it more and more for it's slightly beak-like pointiness. But when I was a little girl all I wanted was a cute little button nose that turned up at the end.

My best friend, Jenny's older sister had a button nose that I quite admired. Sometimes when I was lying in bed at night I would hold the tip of my nose between my pointer finger and thumb and imagine that when I woke up in the morning it would be shaped like a gentle ski slope.

Over the years I've admired many a nose and at times I've even considered having a nose job. But time and again I've realized that I like my nose just the way it is because it's mine.

Is there a part of yourself you've always wanted to change?

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I'm sorry for the interruption in the A-Z challenge, but the past week has been extremely difficult. Not only did my grandma die on Sunday, but last night my husband's father died after complications from a heart attack that he suffered last Monday. Needless to say, I might be taking a bit of a hiatus from blogging for a bit.

Take some time to enjoy your loved ones and give them an extra tight hug!

Monday, April 9, 2012

I is for IQ

In 1987, when I was ten, my dad married Marilyn vos Savant. He was smitten by her, attracted to her porcelain beauty, her jet black hair and most certainly seduced by the celebrity of her behemoth mind. At the time, she was touted as the world’s smartest person.

And of course I was star struck too. We had a soft-back copy of the Guinness Book of World Records that we kept on the bookshelf in our family room. Inside I liked to look up Marilyn’s name listed under the highest IQ on page 29. On the opposite page was a photograph of the woman with the “world’s smallest waist” and I was often distracted from reading through the entire paragraph about intelligence quotients, mesmerized as I was by the woman’s 13 inch midsection. There was also an entry on “longest fingernails” and “lightest girl”— Lucia Zarate, who only weighed 4.7 pounds at age 17. Her tiny, doll-like features were both frightening and intoxicating. And somehow,
seeing Marilyn’s name beside those other anomalies made her brilliance seem not only legitimate but exotic.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

H is for Home

My sweet little 96 year old grandma died this morning. Four and a half years ago she moved from Connecticut to Utah to be nearer to us. For most of her life she lived in Connecticut, but after her kids grew up and moved away and many of her friends and family died, she decided that her life might be more exciting if she was around me and my three little kiddos. 

As much as she loved being around us, she still longed for home. It may have been the home she lived in for more than fifty years that she longed for, but we often thought that the home she truly wanted to travel back to was the one that existed in 1940, a home with kids and her "best beau", the love of her life.

I don't blame her. I think the home I'll always long for is the one I'm living in right now. This place. This time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Goodbye

I don't know if it's time to say goodbye
to you, little bird of a woman.
I hold your bony hands and stroke
back the fine white hair above your brow
while you doze in and out of sleep
and wakefulness.

Who are those four men? You ask me.

And I turn around to stare at the
golden rectangle of the doorway leading
into the kitchen, as if I half expect
to see those men standing there,
leaning against the wall,
their arms folded and waiting.

The borders between dreams and
the solid world are blurred and fuzzy lately 
like the soft, white film that has started
to circle your light brown irises.
And I wonder for a moment if the borders
have blurred between this world
and another,
the one I've forgotten how to believe in.

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Favorites

These are a few of my favorite things:
  • a warm blanket on cold toes
  • sun shining through leaves
  • the first ticklings of a new idea
  • singing really loudly in the car with my favorite people
  • a brand new bar of soap
  • felt tipped pens
  • the first bite of a warm cookie
  • the sound of birds through an open window
  • crystal blue skies
  • new leaves
  • the shuffle of my kids feet past my door in the morning
  • my puppy's grin as he runs
  • warm grass and puffy white clouds
  • a page filled with cursive
  • giant maple trees
  • a new tube of paint
  • freshly vacuumed carpet
  • sidewalk cafes
  • a hot bath after a good meal
  • Italian cream sodas
  • waking up after a deep sleep
  • driving past lit houses at night
  • patios decked with twinkling white lights
  • a window streaked with rain
  • the sound of geese flying overhead
  • crushed ice
  • a tight hug from my kids
  • listening to my girls singing in the shower
  • the tidy look of a pastry case
  • the remnant of paint on old brick walls
The world is full of my favorite things. I could never list them all.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Enough

Right now it's enough to wake to the buttery dawn knowing that all three bodies are still warm underneath their covers.
It's enough to listen to your breath, slow and deep and steady beside me, while my leg drifts to the cool corner of the bed and I imagine the day set before us like something cream filled and chocolate coated, a confection served on a silver plate.
It's enough to know that outside our window the chartreuse leaves of the aspen tree, as small as coins, are moving softly in the breeze, drinking up the new rays of a spring morning.
It's enough.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dresser Drawers

I've loved a lot of the art dolls that I've made, but this one is by far my favorite. Not only did I love her for purely aesthetic reasons, but she was a piece of artwork that I could relate to metaphorically. Without realizing it, I might have sculpted my own self portrait.

I love the idea of drawers, compartments, cubby holes. There are so many tiny places that we store things inside of ourselves, so many different dreams that we compartmentalize. I'm sure if someone opened me up, this is what they'd see, hundreds of tiny drawers filling me up. Some would be crammed full, while others would have only one special trinket resting inside them. Some would be as messy as the junk drawer beside the stove in my kitchen and some would be immaculate.

What do the drawers inside you hold?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Calf (the baby cow kind)

We've already established that I was a girl in love with animals, so it won't surprise you that in the early 80s when my dad took me to the lab at the University of Utah to visit the baby cows that his artificial hearts were first implanted in, I was ecstatic.

In my memory the place is zoo-like and friendly. I overlooked the urine and manure on the floor, the loud hissing and clicking of the machines. I only remember the calves, with their wobbly legs and knobby knees, their large square heads jutting out between the bars of their cages and the dark globes of their eyes.

There’s a picture of me holding a handful of hay out to one of them. I’m not very old in the photograph, maybe four or five and I stand a few feet from the brown and white calf, clutching the hay with two tiny hands, hoping with all my might that my dad will let me take it home to keep.

 I didn’t understand that this calf wouldn’t live much longer, that his life was expendable. After proving that he could survive, he simply wouldn’t be needed any longer. “Sacrifice” was the word my dad used, describing it. It wasn't until much later I started to wonder if I had been expendable too. What need had I filled in him that simply wasn't required anymore?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Beauty

When I was in Junior High I went through a period of being more than a little obsessed with beauty. I was a "cute" girl, with freckles and a slight build, but I dreamed of being a beauty. I spent hours leafing through Seventeen magazine, dreaming about what it would be like to be one of "those" girls. I'd pick out my favorites and send vibes out into the universe begging the Grand Power of Being (or some cosmic deity) to see fit to bestow a bit of that beauty on me.

For years I thought that I'd grow into that beauty. Maybe when I was fifteen...sixteen...seventeen, I hoped. But of course I stayed the same girl that I'd always been, just a little older, a little taller.

I can't remember how old I was when the longing for beauty finally wore off. It wasn't a grand revelation, not an epiphany that struck in the middle of the night, but more a gradual reimagining. New desires took over. The hope that I'd one day grow up to be a beauty was replaced by the longing to be a good mother and writer and artist. It feels good to look for beauty in other places, in art, in family. And there's plenty of it there to be found.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Animals

I know this month is going to be crazy with Script Frenzy, but I couldn't pass up the A to Z Challenge.

A is for Animals:
Yep, that's right. If you know me, you know that I could collect animals the way some people collect shoes. It's a problem  passion that I've had since I was a little girl and saw my first horse at the circus.

I used to dream that I'd find a horse on the side of the road (I guess like a stray dog) and that I'd be allowed to take it home and keep it. I imagined how I would ride my horse to school each morning, tying him up outside near the bike rack. Yes, watching Little House on the Prairie led me to believe that little girls could ride a horse to school.

I had books full of horses that I'd look through religiously, imaging which one would some day be mine. Normally I was drawn to the black stallions with flowing manes and large, muscular bodies.

Maybe this dream stemmed from my love of the movie, The Black Stallion (sugar cubes would ever after remind me of Black's velvety lips). As a little girl I got to sit on the back of the real Black Stallion. My dad met the owner of one of the horses used in the movie and arranged for me to get to ride him during a trip to Texas. For the longest time we had a picture of me straddling his broad back with my arms spread wide.

As I grew up I never stopped loving animals. I don't have room in my yard for a horse, but I do have three dogs and a bunny rabbit. My dreams have shifted slightly. I still want my black stallion, but now I want the farm to go along with him. I can see him there, grazing in the green fields. I'll come outside in the morning when the dew still covers the grass and I'll place a sugar cube on top of the fence, waiting for his velvety lips to snatch it up.