DUMPSTER FIRE

Pete was not a good friend, in that he was neither very good nor very much of a friend. He was the kind of kid who came over to your house and drank your cough syrup. He was the kind of kid whose parents never knew where he was and weren’t too worried about it.

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Photo from firedepartment.org

We met at All County Band, where I was third-chair flute and he was not in band at all, but was riding a contraband skateboard through the hallway. I was bored with John Phillips Sousa and the (marginally cooler alternative) Beverly Hills Cop theme song. I was over the competition of All County Band and the nervous knowing that I was only third-chair flute by some fluke. Not because I was good. I wasn’t good because I didn’t practice. Continue reading

MARIAN APPARITION

Maybe it’s because he’s new to town but already on the rise, already with a convertible and plans for a salon of his own. That kind of fast fame is intoxicating.

Maybe it’s because he’s pretty. Soft-faced. Feminine. Maybe it’s for that reason that his mother gave him a girl’s name and not just any girl’s name but that of a virgin saint. He is no virgin saint but his name implies trustworthiness.

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WISH YOU WERE HERE

After deleting 139 photos of my ex, my photo gallery looks like I’ve only ever vacationed by myself. I suppose that’s sort of true: Me leaning casually against Hadrian’s Wall; me at Edith Piaf’s grave; me, in an optical illusion, touching the top of the Temple of Kukulkan as if it’s miniature and I’m a giant.

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I can barely remember feeling hot that day, in Chichen Itza, or motion sick from the bus ride. I recall those details like an itinerary, like a packing list, like a fact that could also be a lie. Like a movie I once saw while sick with the flu that I later, inadvertently, adopted as a series of scenes from my own life. Memory is like that: Fallible, slippery. Continue reading

SOMEWHERE A TOWN IS WAITING FOR YOU TO ARRIVE

I found a folder of 68 photos, from a 2015 trip to Ireland, on a forgotten SD card. Like finding an old role of film, it turned up some treasures and lots of questions. What is this shot even of? What was I feeling on this day? Who was I, three years ago? So this week’s post is a flash fiction on that theme.

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It’s not this town. And you’re glad, though this town is scenic, sprawling along a mineral-gray lake. The banks are mossy and the sky is pale blue and the hill beyond the village is artfully terraced by ancient people who carved civilization from the land with Iron Age tools. Maybe it was Bronze Age. You should know from all the museums but you don’t know. Continue reading

On creativity, growth, and freshman orientation

It’s the time of year when kids go back to school and people on the precipice of adulthood go off the college — some for the first time. This year it seems like everyone I know is the parent of a 17- or 18-year-old who is starting college, so my social media feeds are full of photos of Move In Day(s).

It’s a rite of passage — one of many that I, a person without children, have not been through.

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Move-In Day, 1948 , from University of Mary Washington

Two things: 1) I barely recall being dropped off at college for the first time. I know my mom took me. I remember she had a perm at the time. There’s a photo of us somewhere and I’m wearing cargo pants. She might have been sad to leave me, but that’s not how I remember it.

So the going-off-to-college initiation is likely more impactful for parents, because the teenager’s life up to that point has been nothing but change, nothing but new experiences. It’s been school and life lessons and body morphing. College is of all of that (on steroids) with different scenery and less adult supervision. Continue reading

Room to bloom: Rethinking Beltane and Fertility Festivals

After I separated from a partner of 15 years and was headed for divorce, I found the return to pagan traditions to be a great comfort. I connected to the cycles of the moon, the agricultural calendar, and my ancestors. I joined a community of women. I rediscovered my sense of magic. But as Beltane neared, I felt outside again. Middle aged, single, full of questions about sexuality and my relationship to relationships (ha!), I couldn’t envision a place for myself in Beltane’s celebration of fertility, conception, passion, marriage, and sex-positive heteronormality.

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Xochiquetzal, left, by Thalia Took, and Artemis by PinkParasol

But, as my connection to the divine feminine and earth magic deepened, my perspective began to shift. Traditions are important, but spirituality is a living thing and, as such, breathes and morphs and expands to serve the needs of its practitioners. Our connection to spirit shapes us, but we’re active participants. We shape spirit, too. We evolve with it and in it and of it. Continue reading

Why writers need community, Part 1

It’s well established that writing is a solitary art form. It takes discipline and focus to forgo the social events and TV shows in order to slowly compose and polish a poem or short story or essay. And there are lots of books and blogs and, probably, TED Talks about how to make that happen. I mean, there’s an entire month — November — dedicated to writing a novel in 30 days.

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Beat writers at a cafe in New York City. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

But what’s equally important to the writer’s life — and this is less-often discussed — is community. I’ve spoken about this, recently, to creative writing students at my alma mater and a writing/marketing class, and was met both times blank stares and skepticism and protest. And I get it. We’re all too busy and meeting new people is weird and we’re comfortable with our own writing voice/style/process and don’t need outside input. Only, the thing is, we really do. Here’s why: Continue reading