Thursday, August 23, 2007

A small reminder

From here.
Dear Self:

Thinking about not writing.

Daydreaming about not writing.

Chatting about not writing.

Reading about not writing.

All of these things are a delicious part of the whole writing MEAL, but without the main course, they are just so much garnish.

It's OK to start again. As long as you start.

The One who is Stuck


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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Diaries

From here.

Isn't it seductive, perching on a Great Writer's shoulders, privileged to watch the slow accrual of genius? Even the set backs, the struggles, are satisfying because the ending is a foregone conclusion. Art. Creation. Fame. And occasionally, even fortune. That's the allure of the writer's diary...the ability to observe a creative mind at work and play.

This is why, even if I became exceedingly famous (hey, a girl can dream), I'll never allow my diaries to be published.

For starters, you know that nascent seed of brilliance, carefully nurtured in the fertile soil of the diary? Yeah, not so much in mine. In my pages, I am barely literate, barely conscious, perhaps because usually I am barely awake. For the last couple of years, the only consistent diary I have kept are those morning pages recommended by Julia Cameron. Stream of consciousness pages that stream forth the way real, considered writing barely ever does. Picture me, propped against the kitchen counter, pushing pen against that pocket of resistant time. Words piling on words frantically until, inevitably...mama! Or a little hand comes to pull me away from the page, back into my life.

These are not the words I want to be remembered by.

And then there are my girlhood and adolescent diaries, where I freed myself to explore every obsessive enthusiasm without the fear that I was making anyone (i.e. my parents) nervous. When I loved or hated, much to their chagrin, I kept myself at a white hot pitch of excitement, stoking it with the words of all of my favorite writers. I loved like Scarlett O'Hara. I wrote like Jo March in a “vortex” (or wanted to). I wanted to experience what couldn't be put into words...and then write about it, like D. H. Lawrence. I told myself that I contained multitudes, like my beloved Whitman.

Unfortunately, like most adolescents, my diaries fluctuated between high-minded philosophical musings and boys, dreams for the future and boys, imitations of my favorite authors and boys. I wanted to be offbeat, not to care about teenage crushes. But I was depressingly normal in that way. I cared about my teenage crushes, passionately.

I can't see any of that as a worthy legacy.

Sometimes I do think about starting a writer's diary, using my life consciously as material for stories, as a way to practice my craft and observation skills. But, I shrink from having yet another place where I have to perform, where I can't just relax, be foolish, naïve, angry. Bad. I use my diary to dig, dig through the surface emotions, to try and find a deep breath between them. I don't want to become self-conscious there as well.

So, no, I won't ever publish any of my diaries, should I ever become famous enough for someone to ask. The diaries are all process, not product. My terrible handwriting is like the jagged lines of a lie detector—the pages keep me honest, but they don't really reflect what I would like to do as a writer. Hopefully, whatever work I manage to produce will speak for itself.

That being said, if the literary establishment is very insistent, I'll can always point them towards a certain blog...
To unlock more secrets in a diary, go here.


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

On the Road turns 50

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”-Jack Kerouac, On the Road

I don't remember exactly when the Beats came into my life. It feels like they've always been there, lurking in my life, whispering confusing axioms that only make sense in hindsight (and after some wine).

But I do remember the first time I read “On the Road

In college, a close friend of mine began dating an Irish man—green eyed and poetic. I was torn between disapproval (she had a wonderful boyfriend back home) and envy (he was the type of man who had never been interested in me). One day, I was assigned to babysit him while she attending a rehearsal. We walked along the lake—I was diffident, a little shy. He knew I was an English major, so before long we were talking literature. Romantic poetry. James Joyce. He expressed surprise that I'd never read “On the Road.

He stopped walking and gripped me by the shoulders. “It changed my life...look, I'll lend it to you. You need to read this book.”

He was true to his word. The next time he came to campus to visit my friend, he brought his slightly battered copy of “On the Road.”

I found it difficult to follow at first; Kerouac's use of language was so different from what I knew—thoughtful, precise, scholarly. No, his language was a rush, exuberant, a dare that took you careening from page to page. He wanted to bend language until it wailed like a sax, until it droned low like a railroad car. He wanted it to burn through your eyes, burn through your mind, burn to the touch.

And it did.

I became obsessed, reading Kerouac's books one after the other, then reading some of the many biographies about him and the Beat movement. I admired them immensely—they wanted to make their mark, to live so artistically as to dazzle the world into giving them a place in the exalted canon. They wanted to read everything, to learn everything, and then to distill it into a way to live life more authentically.

There was just one problem. The more I read about them, the more I started to feel excluded by the very words which had set my aflame. See, the Beats didn't have much use for women. Oh, sure, they slept around, maybe even fell in love. But no woman could compete with the group, with the writing. The women existed to pay the bills, to do the mundane living work so that the men could make Art. These were men with discomfort about women—Kerouac's “mommy issues” were legendary; Ginsberg's mother was institutionalized while he was very young; Burroughs's “accidentally” shot his wife during a game of “William Tell.” Female characters in their fiction were either burdens on the men's vaunted freedom, or personifications of mythic sex, or reflections of the Eternal Mother. They weren't people. The exception, for me, was Mardou Fox, a character in Kerouac's The Subterraneans. Despite his attempts to view her only as the “exotic Other” (Mardou was half black), she came alive for me.

It helped that she was the only female character to willingly walk away.

To read them, to admire them, I felt as though I had to take their side, and I couldn't really do it. I knew, even as I devoured their words, studying them (I ended up writing my undergraduate thesis on Ginsberg's bardic poetry), that they would never have taken me seriously, looked at me twice. I would have been one more Square, frightened by their excesses.

And they wouldn't have been wrong. I was frightened by their excesses—their wild drinking and drugging and that ceaseless travel and their relentless mind-scraping self-absorption. No, I couldn't have been friends with them, alas. It took me many years to be able to say that without (too much) self-hatred.

I loved them, and yet I couldn't see myself in their world at all.

I still can't, but I've brought them down into mine. I don't necessarily believe in the whole myth anymore. I don't think writing entire books in a Benzedrine haze is the One True Way to genius. I don't think editing destroys the first thought. I don't admire their fear of growing up, of responsibility. But...they wrote anyway, in spite of their fears and their drugs and their many insecurities. They were messes, not always mythic. But they wrote through it all.

And years later, I still hear their voices whenever my life grows too stifling, too conformist. They remind me that there is more to me than my motherhood, than my dailiness. They whisper awake that bit of wanderlust that flows through my veins like mercury. And I still long to follow.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Goosebumps (a fairy tale)

Once upon a long time ago, before our mothers' time, and their mothers' time, there lived a beautiful Princess in a kingdom on the edge of the world. This Princess lived a very solitary life, with only scores of moonfaced, silent servants and no playmates except her Shadow. Her own dear mama and papa, the Queen and King of the land, had both passed away when the Princess was just a baby. She hadn't thought much about this—it was just a vague, dull ache of confusion—until she heard the whole story whispered in the hallways of the palace.

Her parents had hosted a large, sumptuous dinner to celebrate the Princess's first six months of life. All of the nobles from around the land attended. and merriment went on far into the evening hours. But all was not well. The door knocker banged—one, two, three. And then there was one unwanted guest, a disgruntled fairy who had been overlooked for the Chief Fairy position one too many times.

“Bumps!” she had shrieked without preamble. “Bumps will end your lives...all of them—and doom this kingdom forevermore!”

Well, no one wanted to upset the fairy further, to be sure, but, as far as curses went, this one wasn't exactly menacing. So first a footman grinned, then a lady in waiting giggled, and before long, the room was engulfed in helpless laughter. Even the King and Queen smiled, wanly and carefully, as they had the most to lose. The infant girl on the Queen's lap paused in her nursing to clap at the tumult.

The offended fairy might have forgiven the servants in their witless merriment, but the sight of the King and Queen smiling sealed their doom. She turned red, then blue, then green, then striped (very difficult for a fairy, unless in a right fury). And then, she vanished without another word.

She was as good as her word. Every single person who attended that dinner fell victim to some bump or the other. The Queen perished from an infected bee sting. The King tripped over a bump in the royal carpet and bled to death. Only the small Princess was spared, because in her infant wisdom, she had merely clapped, not laughed.

After the endless time of tragedy, the people of the kingdom grew deathly afraid of bumps of any kind. Carpets were smoothed ritually every hour. Bees were kept under strictest supervision. The mashed potatoes were stirred until they were smooth as milk, to say nothing of the gravy.

Thus, the Princess grew up in a world as wide and flat as a piece of unlined paper. The horizon stretched endless, like the monotony of her days. She sat with her Shadow where the garden had once been. It was now a patch of perfectly even dirt.

They were bored.

“You know,” she said to her Shadow one day, “I'll bet if we rode hard for three days, we could reach the end of the land. Maybe we could find the fairy and beg for her clemency.”

“At the very least, we'd see a few shrubs.” agreed Shadow. They packed food and water, and set out.

On the evening of the third day, as the Princess drowsed by the (perfectly level) lake, she heard a scream. Her only friend, her faithful Shadow, was gone!

Immediately, she mounted her horse and rode after the abductors, but to no avail. Her Shadow was gone. The Princess fell to the ground, weeping. By the by, she heard a soft voice. “I can return her to you...for a price.”

Instinctively, the Princess knew the Fairy's voice.

“I'll do anything.”

“Are you sure about that?” The Fairy asked again. “Seems you didn't lose all that much. You could go on, much as before, without your Shadow.”

“I don't want to.” the Princess whispered. “Tell me.”

“I get cold in the winter.” the Fairy said. “Make me a quilt that contains one patch of fabric from each peasant hovel by the border. You must earn them—they cannot be given to you. You've gotten enough handed to you. And don't bump will spell your end.”

With that, she vanished.

For the first time, the Princess knew real fear. The peasants lived underground, as any dwelling they built after the curse would be considered a “bump” on the land. She ruled over them, but had never seen them.

But then she remembered her poor Shadow, lonely and terrified. She couldn't bare to think of that utterly even palace without her Shadow there. So she rode off towards the border.

When she arrived, she knocked on the ground until one of patches of earth slid open. “Who goes there?” A deep voice asked.

“The Princess.”

“And what does she want with our humble abode?”

“To cook and clean—do whatever it takes to earn a small patch of fabric from each of your houses.”

“That could take a long time.” The voice sounded amused now.

“I have nothing but time.” The Princess replied.

Finally, the voice rose up and became a young man, covered with dirt and dust and the occasional bruise. He was not handsome, but his dark eyes glowed with intelligence and good humor.

“Come on in.”

He took her down into the Under-kingdom—dark, dank, but...not flat. At all. The hovels went down into the bowels of the earth, and rose up almost touching the perfectly smooth lawn. They were ugly, but individual.

The Princess was fascinated. And the peasants were, as well. By her.

“But...we're just give you the fabric, your Majesty!” they said, bewildered. “Is this some sort of loyalty test?”

“No, no...and thank you for the offer, but the Fairy stipulated that I needed to earn them.”

After a long silence, one of the woman said, hesitantly. “I...I could use some help with the pigs.”

And with that, the Princess lived among the peasants. Hours turned into days turned into months. She slopped pigs, swept floors, tended babies. She also became bruised, dirty, scratched. But miraculously, no bumps marred her smooth skin.

In between her work, she got to know the young man who had opened the Under-kingdom to her. He shared his most secret dream with her—to build dwellings like those he had created underground, but that touched the sky. “We all want to see the sun again.” he confessed. And she told him about her loneliness, the vast emptiness of her life without her parents. He was the only person who understood exactly why she needed to rescue her Shadow, without asking.

“I'm not beautiful anymore, but bruised and dirty.” She said to him, ruefully.

He shook his head. “Before you were merely beautiful. Now you are beautiful and interesting. You tell a story.”

She blushed at all she felt at that, and could not say.

Soon, the Princess had all of the necessary patches to make a glorious, if somewhat grimy, quilt. But she didn't know how to sew.

“I'll teach you.” The young man said. And he did. They stayed up for three days and nights until it was done. When she triumphantly unfurled it, the young man took her into his arms and kissed her. And a million butterfly wings batted in her stomach, and she shivered with her first ever case of goosebumps.

“Now I will surely die.” she said. “But...I die knowing love. I must thank you”

He held her close as they waited for the curse to be fulfilled. “There are many ways to be dead,” he whispered to her. “Take me with you.”

And they waited. And kissed. And waited.

Instead of the death, the Fairy appeared, hand in hand with the Shadow. “You have pleased me well, my child. You've always shown great promise, even as a baby. And now that promise has been fulfilled. The curse is lifted.” The Princess and the Shadow embraced, weeping. Then the Princess introduced her young man. “This is the man I will marry.”

At that, the hovels rose out of the earth and became splendid houses, and the thrilled peasants were suddenly rich landowners. Music sounded in the background, and the Princess and the Builder became King and Queen.

The King fulfilled his dream of buildings that scraped the sky. The Queen ruled compassionately and well. And the Shadow enlivened them with story and song.

And they all lived happily, and bumpily, ever after.
For more tales that go (goose)bump in the night, go here.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Movie Review: Becoming Jane

It seems almost unnecessary to say that I love Jane Austen's novels. She's a beloved icon for bookish women everywhere, who created characters ahead of their time. What woman doesn't want to think of herself as an Elizabeth Bennett, full of intellectual vigor and witty repartee? A woman loved for her mind and personality more than her beauty. Who doesn't cry when cool, reserved Elinor Dashwood finally breaks down and admits her love for Edward? And secretly, come on, don't we all want to be Marianne Dashwood, all fire and passion and romance? We know we would have fallen pray to Willoughby too, at least for a moment. But hopefully our good Elinor sense and Elizabeth sense of humor would save us from going too far down THAT path.

I'm not a purist, though. I'm happy to take my Jane set in high school, or even filtered through the brain of one exceptionally funny, neurotic British woman.

That being said, I wasn't sure what to expect from the movie Becoming Jane. I've never been that curious about Austen's life, assuming that she put all of her what was best in her inside her unforgettable heroines. But...the question IS there. What was Jane Austen really like? She was a brilliant, sardonic observer of the mores and morals of her society. She was an extraordinarily gifted writer. But...who was she, really?

This is the question the movie brings to life. It's absolutely a fictionalization, a “what if?” exercise of the finest order. So bring your imaginations and leave your encyclopedic knowledge of her life (if you possess it) at the door.

Anne Hathaway surprised me in this role. Not only did she produce a credible British accent, but she inhabited the role with a sort of edgy intelligence—exactly the way we all imagine Jane Austen would have behaved, especially at an idealistic twenty.

Like Austen's books, the movie takes us through the tense desperation straining underneath the genteel manners of polite society—the desperation of women who must either marry well or live in poverty, even as men were also cautioned against marrying women who didn't have their own wealth. Jane, like her heroines, is not rich, but unlike them, has already chosen to be a writer. She shares her latest words with an approving audience, but...oh, all is not well in Austen-land.

Enter Mr. Darcy, er, Thomas Lefroy (James McAvoy), a friend of her brother's who doesn't quite entirely share in the general esteem for Jane. So, of course, inevitably they must fall in love (having many witty and literate Austen-ian exchanges along the way), Pride and Prejudice style.

I love period movies and this one did not disappoint. The clothes, the bucolic British setting, the elaborate balls—it was all cinematic chocolate for this tired Mama. The dialogue was appropriately literate and cutting (good work done by the screenwriters, Sarah Williams and Kevin Hall); the actors, especially Maggie Smith as Lady Gresham, as well as James Cromwell and Julie Walters as Jane's parents, seem to have been born to wear velvet and britches. McAvoy and Hathaway have excellent romantic chemistry, and you believe (or want to) that he will defy his father's all very romantic. And, in our hearts of hearts, we WANT Austen to have had that blinding romance, to have lived by our modern ideals of marriage for love only. After all, no one is a better spokeswoman for that point of view than our Elizabeth Bennett herself.

The writers concocted the story from brief mentions in a few of the real Austen's letters; they didn't rewrite her life story, and thus, you know how this one will end.

But I can't consider that a tragedy. After all, regardless of what happened in her life, Jane Austen lived up to her ambitions. She created works of enduring power and beauty despite living in a society that didn't support independent female artists. She claimed her identity as a writer.

I'd say that was a wonderfully happy ending.

For more reviews of Becoming Jane, please visit Mother-Talk.


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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bullets and Awards

Writing that last post about decision making was more emotional than I could have anticipated. I've always laughed it off, this indecisive nature of mine, nodding ruefully at TEG's and my family's gentle (and not so gentle) ribbing. But it BOTHERS me, this distrust of my own desires. When I spend the better part of an afternoon fretting about the best way to make use of an Amazon gift certificate (an activity which should be FUN, damn it!), then I know this is something larger than just a joke.

That post, and your responses, have forced me to think about it, and more importantly, to think about ways to work through it and change it. So, as always, thank you.

Stealing from the best isn't really's more like an homage. So, here is my homage to the bullet point posting style that Phantom Scribbler uses.

  • You would think that after the emotional pummeling I received last month when my parents came to visit, that I might be alittle hesitant to see them again so soon. And you would be right. And yet, in two short weeks, the Madam and I will be winging our way to South Florida to see them again. And my whole family. Wish me serenity.
  • Yes, Madam is speaking now. Just single words, but OH, how much less frustrating our lives are! I ask her what she wants to play with, she says, "'ide" for slide and everything is wonderful!
  • Not to mention, hearing her say mama is...well, it's indescribable.
  • But weaning is still nothing but a pipe dream.
  • Or it would be, if I were sleeping.
  • I have decided to speak to myself as though I were a really good friend of mine for the week.
  • I realized that if I had a close friend whose husband was working about 100 hours a week or so, and she was tending a toddler about the same amount of time, I probably wouldn't yell at her because she wasn't working on her novel.
  • That being said, I have been working on mine. Well, does thinking count? I've decided the tortoise is a beautiful and underrated animal.
Thanks to Crystal King and Tammy Vitale for awarding me a Rockin Blogger Award and a Blogger Reflection Award, respectively. I'm honored...thank you!

I need to pick five bloggers to pass on each award. To make it more challenging, I've decided not to allow myself to pick bloggers I've already awarded in the past.

When I Finally Decided to Get it: Tori consistently inspires me with her open spirit. It's like she is EATING life, which definitely rocks.

Marvelous Madness: Alexandra is busy studying and living, so she's not posting as much as she used to, and I am sure I am not alone is saying that I miss her unique, beautiful spirit, and her fabulous (literally, as she has an amazing imagination) posts. Come back, Alexandra!

Earnest and Game: This one is cheating, a little bit. Heather is a dear friend in life, and thus I can personally vouch for the fact that the witty, erudite voice she uses on her posts IS in fact the way she speaks. Which rocks.

Bohemian Mom: Because have you SEEN her dioramas illustrating scenes from her favorite horror movies? And have you read her fun, hopeful posts? She, well, rocks.

Creative Everyday: Leah's art is simply gorgeous and her posts never fail to make me think...

Which leads me to the Blogger Reflection Awards:

Bub and Pie: Her fertile mind can make connections between even the most incongruous topics. I always feel like I've gotten a delightful brain massage when I read her posts.

The Silent K: She turns her life's experiences into alchemy. Krista's words resonate long after I've read them.

Be Alive Believe Be You: Melba's experiencing what can only be described as a total life awakening and her excitement and thoughts are contagious

Frida's Notebook
: Even in the midst of her important, difficult work, her writing glows with soul and beauty.

Mother Words-Mothers Who Write: Kate is what I aspire to be--a mother who can use her entire life to create beautiful works of writing. She expands my ideas of what is possible for a mother-writer.

And because I can't help but break the rules slightly, here are three people I COULD NOT leave off this list:

The Believing Soul
: Amber is the reason these types of posts exist. She gets into the depths of her life, and imbues it with faith and meaning.

Simply Wait: Patry Francis is living the dream now, sure, but she's always been an amazing, generous writer--she can't help herself.

Phantom Scribbler: It doesn't matter WHAT she is writing about--the woman can WRITE, and her words never fail to make me see things a different way.

So, there you go! My awards. And phew, I'm tired.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Decisions, decisions

But is it ever..REALLY?

You know how difficult it is for me to make a decision? I just wrote out about eight different first sentences for this post—and that was after I spent a few hours debating whether I should attempt to write fiction or nonfiction!

Seriously, I am probably one of the most indecisive people you could ever meet, a fact that has caused me serious unhappiness in my life. I'm a devotee of the “deer in headlights” method of decision-making, aka “if you ignore it long enough, it will change and then you won't HAVE to decide.

I once debated for years about whether or not to buy a pair of sneakers.

This is not good. This leads to regret. And I do regret—I regret almost everything that I've done in my past—or failed to do. The wrong jobs. The right jobs left for the wrong reasons. The wrong jobs left for the right reasons, but which perhaps could have worked out if only I'd stuck it out. Not going to graduate school before getting married. Not going after getting married. And most of all, I regret not using that lovely expanse of time before motherhood to write seriously. Oh, sure, I wrote, in spurts...but considering how much time I had to work with, what else was I doing? Sleeping? Eating?

Hopefully, sleeping.

It's ironic that I want to be a writer at all, considering how much decision making THAT entails. I have no doubt that is why I am so often blocked. Should Catherine break up with Nick before or after she gets fired from that last acting job? Should Marisol reveal her family's deep dark secret in order to save her best friend's life? And...what would that dark secret be, again?


And it's not just plot points. Every time I read a book on craft, I am paralyzed by the sheer number of concepts I need to keep in mind. Narrative arcs. Character arcs. The three act structure. Point of view. Is my dialogue moving the story along, and revealing character without being too “on the nose?”

By this point, I've vowed to read and re-read the Literary Canon before attempting to write another word. Or else I've already allowed my attention to wander to the television, or to conversation. Or, usually, I just keep writing in my head, convinced that if I just work out all of the possibilities in my mind, I'll smooth out the tangles before my words land on the page.

Writers, stop laughing.

In fact, I think this ceaseless search for certainty—for direction that will help me avoid mistakes—fuels my passion for reading. When I'm feeling more self-confident, I read novels—exploring each character and their universe, discovering snippets of wisdom along the way. When I am feeling less-than-confident, I read self-help books. And writing books. And horoscopes.

Guess which ones I'm reading more and more lately.

I think my inertia about decision making stems from this absolute belief, one I can't shake, that if I make a mistake, I won't be able to fix it. If I go down the wrong road with my novel, I will have ruined it beyond repair, squandering a promising idea and proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that I'm never going to accomplish anything in my life. If I apply to the wrong graduate school program, then I will have squandered our hard earned money, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that...well, you get the idea.

So I wait. And I read writing books. And every day, I decide to stop, and then I decide to start. Stop. Start. I dither, and doubt, and do everything except just write. I try to keep William Stafford's exhortation in my mind, the one about "aiming lower." I really try. those OTHER immortal words, the ones said by Yoda, "There is no try. Only do."

I can't even choose whose advice to take...about making a choice.

I'm not sure how to end this post. Maybe I'll decide that later as well.

Oh, and I finally bought those sneakers. And enjoyed them to no end. But never really felt like I lived up to them.

There's probably a lesson in there somewhere.

If only I could decide what it was.
Decide to read more posts here.


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Friday, August 03, 2007

The place that is home

Madam heard them first, as she always does. She stopped her reading, chubby finger still holding her place, and looked up at me. Engines! she said. I nodded, as one, two, three ambulances screamed by. I said a silent prayer for the intended passengers, and out loud as I reminded Madam, “Remember...good luck, people. Good luck, people.” She nodded solemnly, and we went back to our book.

A few minutes later, the phone rang. My parents, asking for TEG without preamble. See, the bridge had just collapsed, and they remembered that TEG uses it a lot, and...

Confused, I reassured them that we were all OK, and went online for information.

It looked...well, you all know how it looked by now. The school bus dangling precariously near the edge. The truck in flames. The tons of concrete falling and falling. The people.

It was incomprehensible. See, if you know Minneapolis at all, you know that we ALL use that bridge. All of us. And you know that it's always choked with cars. Always.

Unwillingly, I imagine what it was like for those cars, those people. To have something as solid as earth give way. To fall and not know.

I've only been here a year, but I've developed so much love for this city. Not just because it's the site of so much of Madam's growth--first crawling, steps, words, classes—but also because it's welcomed us. Never a day goes by when I don't share a delighted “Minneapolis story” with TEG—a nice lady helping me with my tray at the bagel shop; a teenager inquiring if he should shut the window on the bus because “the baby might get cold.” Quite simply, I have never met people like this anywhere. And so, a city in which I only intended to stay out my lease has become a place I want to stay.

The place where my daughter learned to say “home.”

I wish there was something I could do, to give back to this city which has given me so much—friends, beauty, kindness, pleasure, community, inspiration. So I pray, for those who have already been lost and those who are still missing.

Good luck, home. Good luck.


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