fiction · inspiration · speculative fiction

Storytime: Feb 20

2.20.19.jpgIt was easy enough to imagine how it had all begun, looking over the vast crumbling waste. Gertie hoisted her pack higher on her shoulder and squoze her little brother’s sweating hand. Addie turned bleary, out-of-focus eyes up toward her, a mess of dark hair matted against his feverish forehead.

I have to get him somewhere cool, she thought, not for the first time.  From where they stood, she could make out the glint of a snaking stream off to the north, what she knew was north because of the dense, curling moss on that side of the trees they’d just come through.  Between their woods and that stream was a groundswell of tumult, and silence.

It was one of the eeriest pieces of this disaster: the one lonely caw of a raven, maybe returned in hopeful camaraderie, maybe echoing out like fingers grasping in the dark for a friend no longer there.

Adam sniveled a little, bringing Gertie back from her reverie.  It was difficult to stay focused when the dim, umber air clung so close.

“You feelin’ a swim, l’il bro?” she asked more cheerfully than she felt.

“Water,” he nodded, solemnly.

Gertie swung her eyes over the dirt-to-gravel-to-pavement path before them, into the hulk of what was once “the city.”  She inhaled deeply, steeling herself, and that nasty, sour air twisted in her lungs, but she held in her cough and breathed it out slowly, slowly to keep from making the same racking sounds Addie’d been making for the last hour.

One foot out, she began to lead him down.

 

action · inspiration · self-care

That’s Better!

3.28.18

Not usually one for a “day in the life” blog, but it seems essential following yesterday’s declaration of time limiting my literary indulgences.  So what did I do yesterday with all my “new-found” time?!

Firstly, on the drive to work, I did listen to The Success Principles… but only after I tried to listen to NPR, to music, (dontwanna dontwanna… oh wow, this is really inspiring).  And so it was.  The author, Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, was describing the “principle” of delegating anything that is not in our “core genius” or core competencies.  (I immediately texted my girl friend to ask for the number of her house cleaner!)

At work, during my break, I went outside where it was sunny and hot and I could watch my soon-to-be-graduated 8th graders play basketball while making gangly attempts at flirting with one another;)

On the drive home, my copy of The Year of Yes had expired, so I went into podcasts to see what Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations had for me — and they had Lin-Manuel Miranda.  *swoon!!*  I think his interview has been the most authentic of those I’ve heard, and I was thrilled to listen as I slogged through the traffic home, where we were all set upon by an awful accident that increased my 45-minute commute to 1.5 hours… BUT!  After Lin-Manuel, I began the Stephen Colbert interview and by the time I parked out front of my house, it was still sunny, warm, and light out.

Drop off my bags, change into stretchy pants and sneakers, douse on some sunscreen — and text a girl friend.  I arrived home to the pair of tickets I’d ordered to SF Symphony’s pipe organ recital — THE THING HAS OVER 8,000 PIPES!!!  I’m enamored of pipe organs and would go and diddle around on the one at Mills College when I was studying there.  The one in SF is grand, gorgeous, and I had a gift certificate, so I bought two hopeful tickets without an idea of who might accompany me.

Yesterday, I finally had a brainwave (with all my extra, non-dragon-eaten braincells) to connect with a girlfriend from Mills whose been active in a group of medieval songsters.  Yeah, that sounds like the right person.

So off into the sunshine I went, for an hour and a half!  I walked the cemetery/park I used to run, and talked with a heron and an oak tree and some sparrows.  I jogged the downhill and leapt into the running/flying part I love so much.  It was light out, warm, and easy.  I remembered how much I love to run/fly.

On the walk back, I texted with another girl friend and on arriving home went straight to the couch to read.  Physics.

I’d ordered a college text in January when I thought I’d be able to attend College of Marin’s physics class, but it turns out I need the prerequisite that’s only offered in the fall.  (The math-based prerequisite.)  But!  One step at a time.  So I lay on the couch, reading the dry humor of a physics professor for an hour, watching the time tick towards 8pm when I could finally open the 5th book of the Game of Thrones.

But there was still time to spare… I couldn’t open it til 8:00… what to do??

Well, I could floss?  Okay.  I could do those dishes in the sink?  Okay.  Ah, and here’s my Mills singing girlfriend agreeing to accompany me in May.  And now it’s 8:01!

Perfect.  Truly, perfect.

 

action · art · community · dreams · help · inspiration

Re-Ignition.

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Unstructured time isn’t the best for me, and yet I am
feeling a bit panicky about my upcoming full-time employment in sales starting
on Tuesday. What has been lovely about
this time, besides the “brain space” I spoke of the other day is that I’ve
gotten to take my long walks again, meet up with my folks again, play with my cat again.
I’ve enjoyed being unemployed, though I know it’s not
sustainable.
On that note, though, I’ve been meeting up to “co-work” at cafes with a friend
also looking for work and get some applicationing done.
This has led to conversations, which have led to ideas, which are leading to
action. Particularly around things that “light me up.”
Such as the long-lost “LocalArtists Productions” I started
a few years ago, which hosted a successful group art show, but in which I
put too much of my own money and ended up in a pickle. Since then, I’ve
sort of let that idea drift. But talking to my new friend about what lights me,
I said, “My favorite thing I’ve ever done? This group art show I put on.”

Even as I sat listening to my friend at her CD release party
the other week, I looked around the space. I came home and looked up the rental
costs for that space: this could be a great place to host another one.
I love bringing people
together, people who “normally would not mix.” I’ve met so many types of
artists on my path – poets, writers, painters, photographers, musicians, actors – that
it only makes
sense that I bring
them together. “Oh, you make jewelry, my friend does still photography, maybe
you can work together.” “You’re a painter, my friend just participated in an
open studios, maybe you can talk to her about getting your work out there.”
There are too many opportunities to learn from and
collaborate with each other. I don’t want us to miss any!
So, I may be starting a Kickstarter campaign soon. To pay
off my back rent (accrued when I was in chemo) so that I can rent out the art
studio space on the 4th floor of my apartment building. I said to my friend
over our laptops, “Yeah, people would be willing to donate to a cancer survivor
who wants to produce art again, wouldn’t they?”
They’re slightly different avenues I’m beginning to chase
down again: One is the studio space I want to rent so that I can start working again. The other is the creation
of a space for artists to get together, these events and gatherings that I
love to host.
I feel putting grease behind one will help with the grease
behind the other. And so, before I start my full-time work on Tuesday, my
friend and I are going to brainstorm about the video, and maybe even get to
making it.
Because time is ticking away and we all have art to make and
people to meet. 

career · clarity · inspiration · love · spirituality · writing

I’ve started hearing voices again.

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I’ve started hearing voices again.
Now, before you call the padded-room brigade, this is a good thing.
In the time and space I’ve had since quitting my full-time
job at the end of October (despite the roar of negative thoughts and virulent
self-questioning), I have begun to find space behind the thinking. And it is
within this space that I’ve always germinated the seeds of my writing.
When I explain it in person, I raise my arm behind my
head, and wave my hand in the general direction of “back here.” I tell them
that it’s like there’s a room back behind my head, where the ideas start to
percolate. They marinate, germinate, ruminate, and when they’re ready — the indicator popping up like the thermometer in a slab of roasting turkey — I open
the door and chase them onto a page.
By the time the door opens, they’re pretty fully-formed. But
they need the time and space and freedom to sit back there, talking amongst
themselves, these ideas. I can hear them back there, murmuring. I begin to hear bits of
phrases. The sense of a topic, a genre.
My waking thoughts start to curve in that direction; they
start to gather information that all funnels to the same place. I collect these bits and feed them like coal into a furnace.
It’s partly, I know, the time and space that I have to
think, not crowded with the demands of a 40-hour job. But it’s also working on
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” reading the book at night, becoming immersed the language. (I used the word “rightly” twice in a recent blog; I become a sponge and a
regurgitant of what I feed my brain.) It’s also watching Netflix’s “Peaky Blinders,” and
being stunned by the cinematography, the bold and sweeping camera work
inspiring me, reminding me of the nuance and exaltation of art.
It’s listening to NPR, and a man’s purple report of bison grazing in Canada, when the song of birds “split the
silence like a candle,” and it became “the end of a day that started as a
morning.”
I begin to collect these images, words, sensations like a
magpie, not knowing what will be useful, but shoveling it all in anyway,
trusting my process of alchemy.
I’ve begun hearing voices again. And this brings me hope.

adulthood · authenticity · inspiration · letting go · poetry · transformation · uncertainty · vision

Who’s Next?

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“Creativity requires the courage to let go of
certainties.” ― Erich Fromm
This is the quote of the day relating to the daily
meditation I’m doing through the Oprah/Deepak 21-day challenge.
Strangely or not, it’s what I was writing about in my
morning pages before I logged into the meditation. The idea of uncertainty, of
letting go of what’s known. And how very close to that I feel right now.
I found out yesterday I didn’t get the job I was in several
rounds of interviews and mock sessions for during the last two weeks. And all
for the better, I think. In fact, I’d reached out to an old schoolmate I’d seen
on LinkedIn had worked there to ask her thoughts. And when I wrote back that
they didn’t hire me, she wrote: You are better off. That place is a shit hole.
So there’s that!
But, this morning as I reflected on where I am, with the one
avenue I was pursuing more actively than others cut short, I find myself
without an exact destination. Which is where in fact I’ve been, but I’ve been
distracted with the possibility of this employment.
What brought me to considering the question of Who’s Next
was my bringing out an old reader packet of poems from an undergrad course I
took. I’d brought it down a few days ago; I was 22 when I took the class,
finishing up from the lost semester when I’d been otherwise engaged in a padded
room.
The day after I brought the packet down, a friend of mine
mentioned teaching again, putting together a C.V. (a teacher’s resume) and
syllabus. I went online to higheredjobs.com yesterday to poke around and see.
And again, I sort of went all blank about it. I see titles like Professor of
18th and 19th Century Romanticism or of Rhetoric, and I call myself
uninterested and unqualified.
And then after a while of poking around online anyway, my
computer overheated and shut down on me, which was probably for the best!
But, today I opened that packet labeled Twentieth Century
Poetry II, and I read the names and poems of Robert Bly, Gwendolyn Brooks, yes, even the
ubiquitous Plath. I read my margin notes, and was amused to see that my
handwriting looked as it does now.
I was interested in the poems, but I wasn’t sparked. These were the
dreams and longings of a different person. The person who ate these poems up,
who devoured and analyzed and waxed prosaic marginalia.
I remember the classroom I was in when we read Spenser’s
Faerie Queene. I remember being the one student who was really intrigued by his
epic traitorous, political poem hidden in monarch-approved meter. I remember the classroom where the professor
told us stories of the poets’ lives, who’d met who and exchanged letters, the
relationships behind their lyrics.
I remember the room for my make-up semester, on a different
campus, since my cohort had graduated. The computer lab where I wrote short
stories and saved them onto the new smaller, square floppy disks that were
actually hard.
This morning I reread the same works that meant so much to
me then, a woman who felt she had no voice, and poetry was a quiet art that
could conjure hurricanes, that could release those that were teeming in my
body.
But, I don’t feel it in the same way now. I of course want
new generations of students to hear tales of those smoky rooms where creativity
was incubated and smile in camaraderie at Spenser’s thinly veiled subversion.
But, I don’t know. Is it me? Is it me now?
There’s a quote from a Yogi tea bag I have taped over my
kitchen sink, along with all the others I felt necessary to collect. It reads:
Empty yourself and let the Universe fill you.
I haven’t ever really known what that meant, or how to do
it. I haven’t known how to let go of all I know, of all my plans, of labeling
what I know and feel and have done as relevant or useless. I haven’t been able
to answer the call of that tea quote until today.
I do feel emptied. I
feel emptied of direction, of specific ambition, of perspective on myself. But it’s not a negative
feeling.
I feel like a student in a new class, but one I don’t know
the course title to. I don’t know which of my skills will be useful in this new
class, what of my knowledge will be relevant.
I don’t know if I’ll need a paintbrush or a calculator, what I’ll grow to learn, or who will be my teachers. I don’t know who else I’ll meet in class, and who I’ll
never see again. I don’t know the iteration of myself who will be called upon to
show up here, or who will be created from being here.
I only know that this nameless class is the only one on my course schedule
for the foreseeable future, and that perhaps at the end of it, I may be able to
answer what iteration of Molly is next.

authenticity · community · courage · direction · faith · help · inspiration · perseverance

From all quarters (and nickels and dimes).

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Of time necessity, today’s will be short. Strangely(?), I had a
very particular intention yesterday to show up to my job and do my best–my
actual best, not my “sorta kinda all you need to do” best.
By 1pm, I had a migraine so awful, I thought I’d puke, and
went home.
In addition, yesterday morning I received an email that proposed an
answer to a few of the questions I’ve been posing about purpose, direction,
intention, and desire for next steps. I forwarded it to a friend, and asked her
professional opinion and input. We got to talk (or email) about what interests
me, and what doesn’t, what I do want to engage in, what I don’t. And through
the course of our conversation, I came to a pretty good conclusion that may
result in more action. Because of the nature of my readership, I am necessarily
vague, but know that I sit here today with more information than I had
yesterday in answer to some of my recent questions.
As the saying goes: Call it odd, or call it G-d. 

community · direction · doubt · faith · inspiration · leadership · life · purpose · spirituality

“What’s the use in clapping if Tinkerbell’s just gonna die anyway?”

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Yesterday at rehearsal, I was changing into my costume in
the women’s stall and overheard two of the other actors reciting lines from
their monologue class last semester. This was the line.
It sounded so maudlin, purple, dramatic – and hilarious.
It’s nice when these kinds of pessimistic, nihilistic
phrases sound like humor to me instead of like truth. Depending on the day, it
could go either way.
But for right now, it sounds funny to me.
Because it’s a question I pique to. It’s a question I (and
we) have to answer for ourselves every single day. What is the use in trying,
living, loving, exploring, creating, learning, sharing, expressing, including,
communicating, if it’s all gonna turn to rat turds anyway?
I think it’s a question we are also privileged to be able to
ask ourselves. In many economic circumstances, in many not so small corners and
countries of the world, there isn’t the option to see the breadth of life and
question why we engage in it—there’s only “do what’s in front of you to keep on
living;” there’s only survive.
Therefore, it is a gift (and a curse) to have the opportunity to ask ourselves why we
should keep on keepin’ on. And we can choose to take the opportunity, or not.
If we forget the finality of mortality, we are (I am) apt to
waste time. To plod along, to not question, and not look up to see what
direction we’re going. Which is what yesterday’s blog was about.
I won’t repeat what I wrote around Cancer Time, about the
crazy-making imperative clock that then
can begin to sound when you start noting the temporality of things, which makes
you question if you’re allowed to sit on the couch and watch Netflix – or if
because of the finite nature of things, you’re only allowed to participate in activities that move the
needle of your life and humanity forward.
That kind of extremity can lead to paralyzation. We all need
a mind break.
But, what when that mind break goes on too long? When again
you begin to feel what Martha Graham called, “a queer divine dissatisfaction, a
blessed unrest”?
I have that divine dissatisfaction; it’s part of what keeps
most artists (and mathematicians and inventors)  tinkering at their “finished” work – there’s always something to
do, to improve, to make divine itself. But there is a quagmire when that divine
dissatisfaction is coupled with absence of direction or intention or
consistency.
Then it is only failure. And you’re back to paralyzation
again.
My dear aunt wrote me in response to my blog about courage
the other day. She was galled. She asked, in essence, if I, Molly, am not
courageous, if I am not a warrior goddess, than what on earth am I?
I agree with her (sometimes), that I am a warrior goddess.
Not that I’m unique or special in that; many of us are. But, I wrote a blog while sick that was
called, “What’s
the use of being a Shaman Warrior if you don’t get paid for it?
I asked myself in the car yesterday, driving to rehearsal,
what a warrior goddess does for a living? I thought about Gandhi and Mother
Theresa (if I may be so bold as to compare). And I answered, She teaches others
how to be warrior goddesses, too.
What that will look like, I wish I had more ideas. But, I
will continue to clap for Tinkerbell – because the “use anyway” is that I (and we
all) have been given the chance to touch and enhance the world around us and
within us. The use is that every time that we exchange a
moment of compassion and joy and true connection we illuminate the world. The use
is that every one of us is a beacon for everyone else, if we’re bold enough to
shine.
As you can see, I have the blessed unrest – if I could only
have the blessed roadmap, we’d be in business. 

action · change · creativity · direction · faith · healing · inspiration · spirituality · trust · work

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

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Call it Spring. Call it some planetary phase. Call it the
fact that I’ve been back at my job for one year in April. But the past few
days, I’ve begun to feel like things are about to shift. Change is afoot.
Could be wrong. Could be indigestion. Could report the same
old, same old here for the next sixty years. But, I don’t think so. I don’t
feel so.
It’s kind of a stupid thing to report, that you feel change is afoot, in a blog that is supposed to be
about updates and reflections and actions. To simply take a moment to let you
know that I feel like things are about to be different seems antithetical and
anticlimactic. But, nonetheless, I tell it as it happens.
There’s some sort of coagulation that has happened, that I’ve begun to recognize. Maybe it was sitting with that woman on Sunday and
reflecting on the change that’s occurred within me and my spending habits.
Maybe it’s noticing that it’s been a year at this job, which has provided a
foundation of stability and structure, and enabled me to heal. It’s also realizing that things are going to change soon at my work, the nature of things are going to be reorganized, and perhaps it’s just a time
to reassess what’s happening and going on.
It feels like a time to pull my head out of the sand a
little more. To reassert what it is that I want out of life, and address those
things that hinder me from heading there, or even dreaming them up. It’s what I
wrote yesterday in my morning pages: It’s time to dream again.
When you’re in a storm, all you have attention for and time to
do is to batten down hatches and lower the mainsail and hope to Jesus and Allah
and George that you get through the rough patch safely.
When the clouds do clear, you spend the time assessing
damage, swabbing the decks of all the debris you took on board during the
crisis, and getting a new roll-call of who’s still with you, who’s got a
broken arm.
Eventually, the water has evened out, the crew is back to
its old galley routines, and it’s time to point the ship toward the horizon
again.
I’ve been very clear this time, as I ask for direction and
guidance, to be open to what’s
said/heard/intimated. How do you want me to earn? How do you want me to live?
How do you want me to share the gifts I have?
I feel I’ve made an awful mess of hampering myself, like an
anchored ship attempting to get anywhere new. And I know that some of the
internal and external work I’m doing is to untether that stagnation,
resistance, and fear.
A friend once told me, years ago, that things wouldn’t work
out for me with theater until I addressed my trauma shit. Another friend told
me while I was battling chemo that I wouldn’t get out of this pattern of
self-immolation until I moved through my father shit.
Despite all the rowing, all the sails pointed in the right
direction, no movement can be made if you’re still anchored to pain. No
sustainable movement, at least.
So, I suppose this feeling, this sense that things are about
to change, is an indication that I’m hoisting anchor.
Where I go from here? I’ve got to take a deep breath of promise and divine creative unrest — and trust my compass.
(Thank you for indulging my ship metaphor! I hope you
enjoyed it as much as I did) 😉

community · inspiration · love · persistence · service · spirituality · willingness · writing

Did you live happy? Did you live well?

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I don’t really believe in heaven and hell. I suppose if I
believe in anything, I believe in some kind of version of reincarnation. Not
that my soul gets inserted into some new being on the planet, but that the
anima that makes my heart pump disseminates into other things – surely, the
worms, and dirt, and grass that’ll be fed by me, but also, I feel like there’s
some way our spirit gets to try again.
Maybe not. Maybe we’re all worm food. But I think about the
concept I’ve heard that we choose the life that we’re born into. That
we somehow float cosmically one step outside of this reality, and when it’s
time, we are born into the lock that our life provides the key for – and the
lessons and situations we walk into in life are what turns the key. Toward
what? Who knows. Enlightenment sounds like such a heavy word. I don’t know that
there’s ever any “fixed” or “done” for us. I think that’s part of what our
souls, for lack of a better word, enjoy about the whole thing.
It’s sort of like an infinite book of Choose Your Own
Adventure. We’ve all heard me talk about how the lessons we’re here to learn
aren’t always the ones we want; it’s not like I would have chosen some of the circumstances that have surrounded my life
or the situations that occurred in it. But, on some level, perhaps I have and
did. And perhaps for some benevolence greater than my own. – Or not.
Sometimes I ask my cat what she did in former lives to be a
cat this time. What she was before? And who she bribed to get to be as pretty as
she is?
Sometimes I think about the Indigo Girls’ song Galilleo, and how maybe the being we’re born into next time will
have so much baggage from our fucking things up, or not “evolving” enough, to be
the next great writer and artist, or inventor fixing the world.
Sometimes I sit home sick and watch Saving Grace on Netflix and write a blog about theology. Like
today.
I have heard about the whole Pearly Gates thing, and we (or
Christians, at least) get asked questions. And I wonder if I were asked the
questions in the title of this post, what my reply would be? And if it will
continue to change, as it’s surely changed before.
A friend of mine has a mission statement for herself and her
life, and squares the actions and activities she engages in against it. If it
doesn’t jive, then she finds a way to align her wants with its message: To be
of maximum service to myself and others, for the good of all involved.
The other day, as I was sitting in my car, waiting for
the call with my potential new somatic therapist, I was struck with a phrase for
me and for my life that feels pretty appropriate. It was less a mission
statement at the moment, and more a simple observation of the sum total of my actions & endeavors, at least in
adulthood: To voraciously expand my consciousness of love.
It’s sort of what I have been doing lately, I think. It’s
sort of what I think I want to continue to do. It’s a tall freaking order, for
sure. And it’s uncomfortable and vulnerable and occasionally plain biting, but
at its base, at my base, I think it’s a pretty good mission for my soul to have chosen.
Once, in meditation, I got this edict for my life: To love,
as much as you can. What comes to me from that is that it’s also really as much
as you can on any given day. Do your best on any given day, and that level will
change, and sometimes will be really freaking low. But if I believe, which I
do, that I am here for a purpose, and if I believe today that that purpose is
to voraciously expand my consciousness of love, then it’s sort of like when
they put those bumpers in the gutters of the bowling lane: I’ll never be too far off center. 

inspiration · recovery · writing

Climbing Kilimanjaro (or at least, reading the Guide Book)

I was on the phone this morning with my friend on the East
coast. She recently returned from her frankly stellar honeymoon cruise around
the Mediterranean, and after regaling me with her now-insider-tourist viewpoint
(Istanbul Markets = Yes; Parthenon = overcrowded; Sistine Chapel = Who are we
kidding, Yes.), she asked me what I was up to.
I told her that I’m recently reading memoirs on marriage. I
said, even though it’s not something that’s currently on the radar, one day it probably will be, and like someone who’s gonna climb Kilimanjaro, I ought to read the
guide book.
So, I now have on my coffee table, Vow: A Memoir of Marriage
and Other Affairs
, one woman’s story of how
infidelity on both sides corroded her marriage, and
No Cheating, No
Dying: I had a good marriage, then I tried to make it better
. Also, out of a rubber-necker’s curiosity, a while ago I’d read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed to see if her second book would be as good as the first (and, well,
sort of).
To me, reading these marriage memoirs is like getting the read-out from a fallen plane’s
black-box: What went wrong? What went right? What are the junction places and
fuses that tend to blink out first? What can you do, if anything, to reinforce them before they do?
I’ve had a thirst for this kind of reading over the last
several years. I was a Fiction Fiction Fiction only reader for many years,
Stephen King, Ray Bradbury,…JK Rowling, because real life was *so boring,* and allegory could be so much more useful… But, lately, I find myself almost
exclusively prowling the non-fiction, first-persons; most specifically,
picking those that have something to do with where I want to be.
Last Spring, it was the memoirs of Tina Fey (comic, leader,
success), Betty White (comic, still-kicking), Nora Ephron’s I Remember
Nothing: And Other Reflections
(writer,
comic, realist) and
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest
Trail
by Cheryl Strayed which actually
inspired me to research the best hiking boots for someone with flat feet (not purchased).
I read the following to balance out the light, or rather I
read the above to balance out the dark I was reading at the time: Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When
You Could Be Normal
and Augusten Burrough’s
Running with Scissors.
I wanted to know many things from reading these books: I
wanted to know how to be a successful woman in tough businesses, I wanted to
know how to be an artist, writer, performer and make it stick, and mostly I wanted to know how
you keep moving forward in a hard world, and keep your sense of humor.
During the time I was sick, you couldn’t peel me from a
cancer memoir. It was all I read. Except for that one on divorce (Stacy
Morrison’s Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the
Hell of Divorce
), since it seemed equally catastrophic, and I like the
word
optimist in a title.
When my friend first leant me the Lance Armstrong book, It’s Not About the Bike, last
October, I said thanks with a pressed I’m-never-gonna-read-that-Nobody-else-knows-what-it’s-like-to-have-cancer
smile. But, still, I brought it back to the hospital with me for my second
round of chemo, and eventually hardly put it down between temperature- and
blood-pressure monitorings.
People asked what I thought about all the controversy that
was coming out about him then, and I said I didn’t give a shit – He survived cancer, and lived to write a book about it. That’s all I needed to know. 
Honestly, I can’t remember the other ones I read – chemo
brain, perhaps – but that’s what I read these books for: How in the hell did you
do that? How can I?
This summer’s reading of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A
Year of Food Life
resulted in home-made
tomato sauce (and a half a plat of rotting tomatoes), an awkward okra experiment, and many afternoon delights with a basket of fresh figs.
And now, now, it’s marriage. It’s also, Going Gray: What
I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything
Else that Really Matters
, Anne Kreamer’s
exploration of what it means to grow older in American culture, one strand at a
time.
This is probably the book that sparked my whole memoir
thing, long before I actually read one. I’d still been living in San Francisco,
Borders was still in business, and I was at the Stonestown Mall. Somehow,
perhaps while looking for some “recovery” related book which are often in the
“self-help” section, I saw her book, and remember picking it up, reading the
back copy and noting that it was an interesting idea.
This week, I saw Kreamer’s book on the memoir shelf of my now-housed-in-a-trailer-behind-a-school
public library branch. I picked it up. And devoured it.
So, what about all this? What does it “mean” or matter?
Well, one thing, I suppose, is that reading these books enables me to see that
I’m not alone in my struggles–I’m not alone in living in the world with real
people and real tragedies and real humor, and most importantly, real chutzpah.
Also, aside from Lance Armstrong and the Burroughs one
(which frankly left me more disturbed than helped), all the books I’ve been reading are by women.
Women, claiming their right to share their inane
(Betty White), heartbreaking (Winterson), path-back-toward-the-light
(Morrison) stories. Women using their voice to say, Here, here is where I’ve been frayed and flayed and fraught and
fought, and I’m still here to tell you about it.
These women are my heroes. And so I will continue to head
straight for that shelf in the library/trailer, because I want to climb Kilimanjaro,
too.