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My upbringing, education, and inner purpose compel me to write. To find clear words for complicated moments. Clients pay me premium fees for my word-finding skills. But this week I am at a loss. In my ineloquent hours this week, I have sought words from other writers. These writers. They helped. A little.
- •Gloria SteinemWhen I woke up Wednesday morning, she was my waking thought. Her words came a couple days later. I thank God they came at all. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/after-donald-trump-win-americans-organizing-us-politics
- •Dan RatherI studied journalism. Objective reporting. Investigation. Good questions. Measured observation. He is one who still practices this art. I love his presence on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/theDanRather/posts/10157694316495716
- •David RemnickHow on earth did he compose this in the wee hours of Wednesday? While he was writing and editing and publishing, I was crying into my pillow, trying not to wake my exhausted, despondent husband. Meanwhile, David was tapping away at his laptop. Articulate. Reasoned. Forceful. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/an-american-tragedy-2
- •For perfect parallel parking on the first try when someone is watching
- •For finishing the laundry with no orphan socks
- •For parents who refrain from profanity when stepping on a Lego brick
Today's #CreativeSprint prompt suggests getting input from someone I respect: have them select a favorite from my past month of work, then refine it. I don't want to rehash an old list. So I asked my husband, whom I respect immensely, how I might twist the prompt. He suggested that I list people who have influenced my writing. Good one, baby.
- •Juanita TerpeningMy mom, who encouraged me to write from the time I was very young. She spent hours on end at the table with me, working on penmanship, spelling, practicing vocabulary, and diagramming sentences, so I would have the technical skills required of the writing craft. She bought me my first book of journaling prompts and kept me stocked with notebooks and pens, even when money was scarce. She nagged me relentlessly about deadlines, made time to proof moy work, and was always my biggest fan.
- •Phyllis KennedyMy first boss, post-college. She valued accuracy and was an exceptional editor and proofreader—helping me develop my technical skills far beyond what Mom and I achieved at the kitchen table. But the best gift she gave me was advice about conducting interviews. Preparing me to be a ghost writer for senior executives, she told me to consider my ignorance an asset. As long as I was curious and willing to ask "dumb" questions, I would get the story.
- •Anne LamottThe author whose writing about writing has most shaped and affirmed the way I write. "Bird by Bird" liberated me. I was already creating shitty first drafts; but Lamott's description of her own writing process showed me those drafts were not only okay, they could be transformed into truly good work.
From my childhood, I recall only two costumes. If there were more, they didn't leave a lasting impression. The fun began post-college, when adult friends hosted Halloween parties, often with costume contests. (The thrill of competition!) And then when children came along, I found yet another excuse to play dress up every October 31.
- •Witchmany times over when I was young, and several times in adulthood, too ... so many possibilities: cute, ugly, scary, sexy ...
- •Clownthe year I got hives all over my body while trick or treating ... at age six or seven, I was too stubborn to stop collecting candy, so I just didn't tell my mom
- •Kerri Strugthe year she prevailed over a serious ankle injury to complete a vault that earned Olympic gold for the US women's gymnastics team ... I looked just like her and won gold in that year's costume contest among our friends, narrowly edging out my husband dressed as a very convincing Jesus
Today's #CreativeSprint prompt says to make something inspired by another sprinter. I'm loving how Noah Scalin is involving his young daughter in this month of making. Their efforts have reminded me of so much creative play with my own kids when they were little. They're bigger now, but sometimes we still play. Here's a list of faves from way back.
- •Fabric yo-yosWe cut circles of fabric, then basted long running stitches close to the edge. When we pulled that thread tight ... voila! The fabric cinched up into a smaller, puffy circle. With a button stitched onto the center, the puffy little circles made great pins, hair accessories, and magnets.
- •Race car paintingMy son chose his least favorite matchbox cars and used them as "brushes" to paint tracks all over many, many sheets of paper. With sound effects, of course.
- •Shaving cream marblingWe drizzled and swirled ink over a bed of shaving cream, then laid card stock on the colorful surface. When we lifted the cards up, only the marble-y ink patterns stuck to the paper. We felt like fine artists—and we smelled good, too.
- •YellowI've never found a shade of yellow that flatters my skin, my eyes, my figure, my teeth, or my mood. Plus it's my least favorite color. So there.
- •Short skirts or shortsThese thighs need a cloak for cellulite, and your eyes need shielding from the white.
- •StilettosI'm all for high heels. Given that my spouse is nearly a foot and a half taller than me, I depend on them. But let's have them chunky, solid, stable. I don't like to teeter.
- •RegretIt doesn't look good on anyone. I may wrap myself in it briefly, but pretty soon that shit has got to go. Moving on and looking forward are more my style.
- •Breadas often as possible with family, because mealtimes are some of our best together times
- •A legfiguratively, several times in very amateur performances
- •A footliterally, merely walking up the stairs a few years ago
My husband recently lamented the loss of a list he wrote (on paper, the old-fashioned way) years ago: an inventory of favorite smells. I remember him reading the list to me when we were dating. I learned so much about his sensibilities and memories. So beautiful. My list isn't nearly the same as his. Will this inspire him to rewrite that list?
- •Bacon fryingduh
- •Freshly washed childhair still damp, body all cozy in clean PJs
- •Leaves burning in the fallbest just as I open the door (car or house) and catch the scent
- •How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat. Some dance to remember, some dance to forget ...
- •Animals strike curious poses. They feel the heat, the heat between me and you ...
- •Listen to the music of the moment, people dance and sing ...
Here are some moments I'd want to watch unfold.
- •The day my parents brought me home from the hospital.What did my 14- and 18-year-old siblings say and do? How did my 45- and 52-year-old parents manage fatigue and disruption in a very established routine?
- •My first day of kindergarten.I feel like I remember it ... but do I really? How much of that memory is real, and how much is invented from photos I've seen and stories I've heard? Was it raining? Who sat with me on the bus? Was I shy? Did I make friends on day one? What did I talk about that night at supper?
- •The day I passed out trying to run 600 meters in gym class.No one had yet diagnosed my asthma. I remember a cold, unsympathetic scene, with a whistle-wearing teacher and nosy students standing over me as I came to, far out in the field behind the elementary school. They accused me of faking, of dropping to the ground to get attention and avoid finishing the run. I had ALL the attention and ZERO assistance getting back to the gym. Were they really so cruel?