Finding my voice
Finding my voice took some practice. For the longest time I wailed: I want to be a writer! Some very good friends said: So? Write. So? I did.
I once had a cra-cra writing mentor who—I learned later—had been using heroin while she taught us and which in retrospect makes so. Much. Sense. Anyway, that writing teacher was brilliant, which explains how she could teach while zonked out of her mind, or fighting the pangs of opiate hunger while she taught, which also in retrospect makes so. Much. Sense. Well, this brillint writer/teacher said: just write. Don’t’ try to make sense of it, your subconscious will connect the dots. Best writing advice I ever got and has served me well for years. Maybe it takes that reckless, dangerous behavior to get to the really good stuff, because after all, writing is a physical act. Writing is a physical act that brings the immaterial into physical being. No, it is not simply mental or imaginative. Writing. With a pen and paper, is really writing. If I were super famous, I would expect a landslide of email contradicting that point, but this is my process and one which incidentally, requires fine motor skills, and a good pen moving across reasonably fine paper to translate neural impulses that form into thought in one part of the brain while another part of the brain parses the sounds of Mozart on the Dot and finches in the hedge outside my window. Physical. Here. Now. Finding voice takes practice. If for nothing else, to discover belief. It takes familiarity with your own voice to learn to believe it, and to believe that others might believe it, too.
What I Never Told Anyone
- You’re smokin’ hot!
- That hat makes you look fat.
- No cake for me, thanks.
- I’ll have seconds of that liver!
- That mushroom tapenade doesn’t look like dog food.
- I’ll have the duck feet.
- Let me wax the car, darling!
- Move over, there’s room for all of us.
- Give me your tire iron.
- I love to go car shopping!
- Why yes, I’d love to get into a bidding war for that condo!
- Fried clams: mmm!
- There are never enough wildfires.
- Oregon pinot noir: meh.
- Travel is over-rated.
- Self-care is a waste of time.
- My chosen tribe doesn’t get me.
- True love is an illusion.
- God takes all my plans very seriously!
- Who needs income equity?
- Democracy as we know it is in no danger whatsoever.
- Creative writing is for fools.
- Canada is just too nice.
- Civility is for suckers.
- Watch out – that dog looks dangerous.
- Please, let me shave that beard for you.
My Oldest Living Relative
My oldest living relative would by my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was one of four children, and she had nine babies with my uncle. As a reward for a life well lived, she is our matriarch. It is so strange to move inevitably closer to that category: the elder generation. The wise ones. The ones with institutional memory. Where do the stories go when the elders are gone? Does the narrative lose its bite? Do the family mythologies soften around the edges like a cherished photograph carried for years in a wallet? Perhaps family stories are like an image that over time fades until only the ghost of an persona remains.
Stories I Tell Myself
- One more cup of coffee won’ hurt
- But I need these shoes
- That spider could bit me
- Once bitten, twice shy
- My roommate is an absent minded genius
- I will drink more water
- I will relax in traffic
- Traffic isn’t so bad
- I have the best commute in the world
- Other people do more
- She makes it look easy
- The world is falling apart
- The world is a shared hallucination
- Quantum physics
- My chakras need clearing
- I love it when it rains
- If I eat the tomatoes now, I can save the artichoke for later
- Its hot enough to go to the pool
- Ninety degrees is the minimum to make the pool a good idea
- Check windspeed
- Journal Camp is awesome
- Here I grow again
- This is my favorite summer in years
- Its never too late for a happy ending
- I am a creative genius
- We are all creative geniuses
- Hooray for creative geeks!
- I am grateful
- I could be more grateful, more often
My Mother’s Scent
She wore Chanel No. 5. On nights my parents went out, she drifted out the door on a cloud of deep musky-floral pheromones, an accommodation of the sophistication she yearned for. Periodically, when we were old enough for them to leave the brood with a reliable steel-belted sitter for the weekend, they journeyed north to the Banff Springs Resort in British Columbia. There are photographs of them from one trip, souvenirs from a night club they had attended. My mother appears to be in her thirties, young, pretty, wearing a classic kind of Jackie O sheath dress. The photographer caught her smile and a sparkle in her eyes. She seemed happy then, and glamorous. I imagine that in that dress, in that club, she was enveloped in a cloud of Chanel No. 5. She later switched to a fragrance called Interlude – with the same base notes, a similar mysterious, musky presence. Other scents of my mother that I recall: Breck hair spray, spray starch, despair.