Monday, April 26, 2010

It doesn't really sound like a love poem . . .

. . . but it's supposed to be. Three years ago today, Dick and I stood on a beach in Cabo San Lucas and pledged our undying love before a minister we didn't know, a nutty, but great photographer and two fisherman. It was the best day of my life. And I'm pretty certain it always will be.

Here's a little poem I wrote about what it's like to love someone so much that it's as scary as it is great.

Dress Rehearsal

One night--
years from now, I pray--
one of us will go to bed
without the other.

I remember asking a woman
who lost her husband what the hardest part was.
“Night time” she said.
“Nights are terrible.”

And I wonder,
what if
you leave
before I do?

I can’t help imagining
lying down on my side of the bed,
leaving room for you on your side
as though you could return.

I would stare,
waiting to see if an invisible you would sit down,
make the bed sigh under your familiar weight,
and then, corrugating the sheets, lay down beside me.

I would hold your pillow and inhale,
filling my lungs until it hurts,
then worry that I would use up
all that’s left of you.

I would lie awake and wait
until morning came
to nudge the living from sleep
so they can make coffee, read the paper,
get the kids ready for school.

Why do I do this to myself?
Why rehearse what will be
the hardest thing I must do
at what will be the loneliest point
I will face?

Because on the nights
I go to bed before you do,
when I draw the shade,
slide underneath the sheets,
pull up the white bedspread,
and run my fingers over its fraying stitches,
it seems wrong
to be alone.
Even though I know,
I’ll hear your footfall
on the stairs before to long.

And sometimes I remember what she said.

“Nights are terrible.”

Then I open a book
and read the same sentence again and again
with intention and still
I don’t know what it said.

So I give up and reach over
to the lamp on the nightstand
and I turn it

In the dark,
I weep
not for what I will lose--

but for what I am lucky enough
to have known.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Teaching: 101

Last week, I had the opportunity to address the Glendale Elementary Writers' Club, thanks to my friend Kathy M. and the founder of the group, Ms. Cindi Jones.

Well, of course, I was a nervous wreck. The only thing I'd ever taught was Sunday School for pre-schoolers when I was in my mid-twenties.

I was terrible at it back then. I used to bribe them to sit down at the beginning of class by giving them Kool-aid and those little gem-colored suckers on string-loops, the ones you could buy by the cellophane yard. The hyperactivity/sugar connection never dawned on me. Plus, they failed to appreciate all the work that went into each class. It took lots of colored felt and valuable Saturday night hours to cut out all those people, commandment tablets, doves, you name it, whatever was necessary to re-enact Bible stories on the magic blue-felt covered lesson board. As a kid, I'd always loved to watch Miss Furniss take out her little felt props--sheep, shepherds, the altar where that one guy was supposed to slay his son until God said, "Nah, not really, Abraham, I kid! I kid because I love."

Anyway, when it was MY turn to use the felt board, I was thrilled to work my magic. Only my kids weren't nearly as impressed. They had no idea how much work went into making my little gray felt tomb for Jesus, complete with the roll-away stone. My strongest memories of those years are mainly little kids jumping up and yelling "Hurry, take me potty, I'm gonna wet my pants!" Once, when the kids were actually listening to the lesson, a little boy raised his hand and I was elated. "Good!" I thought. He's interested, and he has a question. When I called on him, he asked in all seriousness "Does God ever jump?"

But I digress.

Partly because of the holiday weekend and partly because some of the writers chose to go to hiphop club instead (and who can blame them?), there was a small turnout. But I think it went OK. I bribed them with buttons and song cards this time, and they seemed to really enjoy writing their "Six-Word Memoirs." (Thanks for the idea, Mrs. Nixon. Anyone interested in what I'm talking about can go to

Anyway, the above pic shows some future writers of America. And I was happy and proud to meet them.

P.S. Kudos to Ms. Jones for starting a writers group for elementary kids. I wish we'd had one.
I'd have sucked at hiphop.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm baacccckkk! With fascinating new discoveries!

I am a lousy blogger.

The quickest way to lose followers is to let too much time go by between posts.
Guilty as charged.

I wish I had a hilarious story, but I don't. I wish I had something edifying, but I don't. What do I have? Three discoveries that led to further quandary.

Discovery: Life is unfair.
Question: I probably learned this truth at a soul-deep level immediately before or during my birth, so why does it continue to surprise me? Is it because, to quote Emily Dickinson, "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. . . ?" (Which, in turn, makes me wonder, is it truly possible to sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas?" Or was that one of those English major myths? You know those nutty English majors.)

Discovery: Eloquence does not necessarily equal intellect. Just because a person has the floor in a public forum, and they LOOK smart and use really big words (I intentionally did not say "polysyllabic"), doesn't mean that they ARE smart. Sure, sometimes they are. But other times, if you listen closely, you'll discover they're no smarter than you are. (Read Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin if you need further convincing. I LOVE this guy's theory.)
Question: Why am I only now discovering this? And am I choosing to believe it simply because personally validating? Or do you guys think it's valid? I'm curious to know.

Discovery: Hot flashes feel like an arsonist has started a four-alarm fire inside your body which, in turn, immediately triggers millions of teensy-tinsey personal sprinkler systems, one per pore. Uncomfortable, unpleasant and embarrassing, they often happen right after you've put on clean clothes and are ready to leave for work in the morning or when your significant other wants to sleep very close to you through the night.
Question: What, besides black cohosh, can alleviate such embarrassing moments? Does Vitamin E help?

That's it for me today. I hope you're still out there. And if so, I thank you.