It’s a Funny Thing About Hair

Untitled 2 I cut my hair last year. This spring, I cut it even shorter. But I am not happy with it.

When this happens, I get out a pair of scissors, thinking I can do a better job than my hairdresser. Which is laughable. Now I’m lopsided and asymmetrical.

Symmetry has always been important to me. I love teaching the “magic three” to emerging writers. “Isn’t it cool how you can include three parallel words, phrases, or sentences to give your writing rhythm?” I ask. They don’t usually share my enthusiasm.

I like the art on my walls to line up. And I hate my eyebrows, which don’t.

So this letterpress printing pushes me out of my comfort zone. Nothing is symmetrical, perfect, or even. The whole idea of this fascinates me since overall I’m not a detail person. I lose notes, don’t follow recipes, hate to clean, and often read over mistakes. But in a handful of ways, being even and perfect matters to me.

Recently, though, I’ve begun to enjoy the process of printing much more than the product. The rhythm of placing lines and lines of metal type back in the appropriate sections of the type case, letter by letter, size by size, becomes meditative work. Using tweezers to remove and replace an errant letter challenges me to breathe deeply and focus. Then, after all the tedious toiling, I ink card after card, waiting for the right mixture of ink and pressure from the roller. This is a small, tabletop proof press that produces one page at a time.

These days, I am delighted when I hold a finished product in my hand that shows the age of the type, the failings of the printer, and the love of the work. Imperfections in all its glory.

Now if I could only leave my hair alone.

It’s SO in my Head

Screenshot 1:11:13 1:46 PM

I’ve thought a lot the past few years about how my thoughts create my reality.

I know. It’s all a little “woo woo.” But it’s true.

After slamming my head into the sidewalk two weeks ago during a run, I’ve spent time recovering with a bruised, scraped, and sore face. It seems every little thing reminds me of how much I hurt. A wire clothes hanger fell out of my closet and hit me in the forehead. Usually it’s not such a big deal, but this week? OUCH. And then there’s the pretty color of my face–a greenish yellow, a pukish color that has remained after the black and blue.

But I would have been ok with that incident. After all, it could have been so much worse.

Then, my right hand, the one with the arthritis in the thumb basal joint, started acting up. It seems I may have carpal tunnel, too. Even trying to unload the dishwasher made me wince.

So I’ve been grumpy. Really grumpy. And taking it out on everyone.

Yesterday, I realized I can let myself be so overcome by the darkness that I fail to see the light–my wonderful writing groups, the progress I’m making on my memoir, good friends and family, and a fabulous place to hang out during the day.

As George Harrison once said, it’s all in the mind. Here comes the sun…..

A Dead End

In my worst nightmare, I am 5 or 6, riding in the back seat of my family’s car. My dad is driving up a steep mountain, around and around, almost like a child’s cylinder cone I used to play with. Suddenly, we stop. As we look out the front window, we realize the road has ended, as if it has fallen away.
A dead end.
I was thinking about this today when I read a piece about an artist’s need to balance control and risk. So often we find ourselves at a dead end, a place that seems to have no way out. A poem fails. A character loses authenticity. A sentence forces itself. We stop.
Our culture tells us failure means loss, an emptiness, a lack of worthiness. And yet, isn’t it in that space we often find ourselves?
This poem has failed at least five times:

I glimpse a second of your life
as the train barrels past Philadelphia and then south.
Smokey clouds pulse to rhythmic clacking
The toddler, too long in one place, runs up and down,

bumping into books and food, saying “Mama, Mama, Mama”
a thousand times.
And we ride along, managing our own stories

But, something in the telling makes me want to rewrite it again. I may finally pluck only the first line. But the poem will not have failed.
In my dream, my heroic dad manages to turn the car around inch by inch, until we are heading back down the mountain to safety.

I’d like to think I can turn this poem around as well.



I am compiling rejections from my poetry submissions. But, don’t feel sorry for me. Each one comes back, looking for a second, third,  or twentieth massage.

That’s what good writing takes–effort. And, holy cow, is this fun. Revising feels like a word game for introverts–the only competition is with myself.

When I’m not revising, I’m surfing/reading. I had no idea there were so many literary sites. Everyone wants to write these days, it seems. This is my newest find where I just read (and will share with my writing peeps) — this.

It’s like my own little MFA.