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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category


Some time has passed. I’ve had writer’s paralysis. Depression? Check. Pain? Check. Lack of motivation? Check. “Write about it,” people said. “It’s therapeutic.” The words just didn’t come.

September of 2015 brought yet an additional surgery that began another cycle of despair. Six months of living in a Connecticut hospital, waiting for the fistula that was left behind by the surgery to “fix” things, to heal – to no avail. Whatever pleasures I might have had to keep me going were taken. The caring surgeon, clearly frustrated that he couldn’t do more, struggled along with me to know what to do next. Tick tock went the clock. The weeks became months before a frank discussion moved toward finding a more experienced doctor who took on difficult cases. My doctor found a world class doctor in NY who could do it; he would fix this problem and life would finally go on.

But it didn’t. Even he professed he did all he could and suggested yet a higher level of care. Another month, another hospital, another doctor, also “world class.” “Yes, I’ll take the case,” he said. Another surgery; more pain; more time slithering away. A temporary fix; an interim step, perhaps to a more complicated end solution I am not ready to entertain. But this one, we hope, enough to get me home for a stretch, to live half a life. Half is better than none, right?

So I prepare to go home after 8 months of confinement with limited pleasures restored for a time, to take care of the unfinished business of living. It is a mixed bag. Just as the convict about to be released after a long confinement, who lived miserably but knew what to expect. So too, it is with me. The fear of the unknown. Being more than a nurse call button away from help. Being in a different state than my medical teams. And feeling like such a burden to my husband, who has never uttered a word of being burdened, rather expressing nothing but utter happiness that I will be coming home.

This journey is a long one but it is my hope there will be something at the end worth waiting for. Just normal, boring, everyday life is all I’m asking.

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Like many creative pursuits, production is part inspiration and part discipline. My problem is the latter. I get going on my new project, and when something new tantalizes me, I’m off in another direction. It’s not that I don’t like my first (second and third) projects. It’s just that I am easily distracted.
And to add another barrier to producing regular blog entries, I am studying French and taking a writing class, which focuses me on writing at least one story a week.
So that’s a good thing, right? Yes and no. I am producing, but not for my audience, who is following any one of my blogs, not my storytelling. So, I owe you a big, fat apology.
If you will stay with me, I hope you will at least get something out of those blogs, when I publish them. Hey, here’s another idea? While I am taking this class, would anyone be interested in reading/critiquing the stories I am writing? More eyes on them, with constructive feedback would be most welcome.
Let me know! I thank you in advance.

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OK, I admit it. I have ADD. No, I’ve not been officially diagnosed, but I recognize the symptoms. I can’t seem to finish any one thing, instead leaping from one thing to another. At the end of the day, I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. It’s not that I have accomplished nothing, it’s just that nothing got finished! In fact, as I sit here and write, I’m doing laundry, cleaning up the studio, unpacking, and making phone calls. I just thought I was overdue for a blog entry, so here I am. Ah, but what to write about? How about this phenomenon? Wait a minute while I put the clothes into the dryer. . . .

OK, I’m back.

So why the connection between ADD and creativity? Creative minds seem to be all over the place at once – examining, synthesizing, figuring things out, making things better, noticing things, appreciating beauty. Is this not a list of ADD behaviors too? It’s just hard to BE in stillness. The only way I get into any kind of zone is when I am immersed in creating something – but the truth be known, the ADD sometimes gets me stuck at organizing first, so I can “relax” into the process. We see possibilities in everything.  We hoard objects  (another ADD/OCD type behavior), knowing they will come in handy for some future project. I know I’m not alone in this, after talking to so many other artists about it.

Maybe we create art, because we have ADD – just so we have an outlet to calm ourselves sometimes. It’s the only way we can still our minds, even if only for a short time.

Well, I’m feeling guilty that there is so much else I should be doing and am procrastinating because I hate to do them (like bills, and taxes). But before I go, I need to confess . . . . .

I interrupted this post 9 times: to take/make 2 phone calls, wash, dry or fold clothes, eat (twice), check email, Search for a restaurant online, make a reservation, watch a Ted Talk and let the dogs in or out a few times.

Oh no. Will anything get done (finished) today?

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I must admit. In spite of success at every level of college, induction into every honor society and summa cum laude credentials, I panic when it comes to multiple choice tests. I did not do well on my SATs all those years ago, and it stays with me to this day. I would rather write a thesis. You seem, my strength is in assimilating and synthesizing information, not in memorization. I wasn’t ever good at it when I was young, and now, with an aging brain, it is overwhelming. For people like me, the multiple choice or short answer test instills great fear. OK, I could do one on a few chapters at a time, but a comprehensive exam covering an entire curriculum? Cold sweats, sleepless nights, obsessive studying, crying, pulling out my hair and barking at the family, are par for the course.

So this morning, test day arrived, Rather than just tell you the end result, please humor me as I recount the whole experience, for it only made my anxiety worse. Plus, I am practicing my writing skills, and building suspense is a skill I need to practice.

I arrived at the test center at 9:15 as instructed and the building was locked. Another test taker and I waited as we got more and more anxious, as if we didn’t arrive with enough anxiety for an army. Thoughts of going on vacation with a clear head and keeping my new job intruded on the calm I had achieved after 12 days of meditating daily.

The proctor arrived at 9:35 with nary an apology. We went in for the test and she asked me if I had my login information. “What login information?” I said. Forty five minutes, 3 hot flashes and 10 deep breaths later, I was logged in and finally beginning the exam.

There were a disproportionate number of math problems so I breathed easier because math was my strongest subject as a kid. Then I relaxed into the feeling that I knew a lot of the answers, though some questions puzzled me with trickery.

I finished the test. I pressed the button to get the results, my heart pounding. A survey about the process followed, so I got to tell someone what went wrong at the test location. Then, I was informed to see the test administrator. I stood in front of the little window, waiting what seemed like an hour as she typed on her keyboard. Then one sheet of paper emerged from the printer, holding my destiny. She handed it to me upside down to protect my dignity.

I scanned the numbers and words on it. Seeing low numbers, my heart sank. It said that I earned a scaled score of 25 out of a possible 50.  But oh, I missed the first line under my name that said, “Congratulations! You have passed the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians.”

Thank you all my dear family and friends for your faith in me, your positive energy and prayers, and patience in reading my story.I hope it was entertaining!

You are all invited to my notebook burning, date to be announced. I’ll take pictures for posterity.

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This is a follow up to the last post, Chapter 1

Chapter 2 – The Man
Brooklyn Heights had crept first into Park Slope then to Windsor Heights, in real estate proximity parlance. Gentrification is defined in an ever expanding way, as real estate moguls seek to establish the next “in” locale. such was the case in newly named regions like Dumbo, which never existed before real estate developers came along.

I moved first to Park Slope, just before it became the “in” place, but after it became impossible for me to afford anything larger than a small one bedroom apartment with an amputee kitchen. It may not be a politically correct description, but it accurately describes one’s ability to reach everything in it by pivoting on one leg. I do little cooking and less entertaining, so it didn’t matter to me much. It was comfortable enough. There is space in my bedroom for my queen size bed, a desk, a bureau and ample closet space for my modest couture collection. My bed was not purchased with intent to cohabitate or even entertain the ladies. Rather, my 6’4″ frame requires it for comfort. My living room with large enough for a couch, easy chair, TV, my collection of books and a small table and chairs. The building had an elevator which I rarely took. Not having enough patience to wait for it, provided me with an excuse for a little exercise. The train was a brisk three block walk and local buses were available a block away in either of two directions. All the provisions I needed; a small grocery store, produce shop and dry cleaners were within easy walking distance. Most everything else I procured through online shops.

In time, the neighborhood got too trendy, making it harder to be incognito. It seems everyone wants to know everyone else in the neighborhood, so standing in line became an excuse to tell your life story. Only, I didn’t want to hear it. I took to carrying a book whenever I thought the wait would exceed five minutes – the maximum amount of time I could indulge them.

I suppose I lead an uneventful life by others’ standards, but I find it quite interesting and fulfilling. I own and run a factory in Red Hook, that makes adhesives. I also have a thriving psychoanalysis practice in Manhattan. I know this seems incongruous. Perhaps it is; but it works for me.

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My First Novel


No, I haven’t written my first novel – yet. I am just getting my toes wet. Following up on advice from Anne Lamott (see my last post), I am writing, experimenting, and writing more. I began with a sentence. From nowhere, a story began to take shape. It was just the description of one scene really; advice that Anne Lamott had given in her book. I really don’t know where the words were coming from but they came just the same. So I wrote them down and just allowed things to go where they would. The first short chapter follows. I would be much obliged if you would read it and tell me if it engages you to a point that you might pick this book up and read it. (Assuming there were more chapters to follow. I have only one more written.)

A NOVEL

Chapter 1
The grit of the subway tile held the stories of those passing through it. Forty-second street, a hub of people going everywhere and nowhere, was abuzz with the morning rush to get somewhere. Between the hours of 7:30 and 9 AM, people shuffled zombie-like, to automatic destinations. Work, school or a new location to hustle, the station teemed with people carrying briefcases, suitcases, shopping bags, lunch boxes and burdens not obvious to anyone but themselves.

I suddenly noticed a small commotion beginning at the bottom of the stairs. A woman, a tissue held to the corner of her eye, was crying. Slowly, a person, then another, approached her, presumably to inquire about her predicament. They spoke in hushed tones. The woman did not answer. This continued for five long minutes, until the train pulled into the station and the strangers took their leave. The woman remained on the platform staring eerily into space.

The next train pulled into the station. A man got off. I noticed him in particular because of the way he carried himself. He stood very erect and at easily several inches taller than 6 feet, stood above the crowd. He walked in a stiff manner, and wore a nondescript gray suit, white shirt and blue, striped tie. He had distinguished gray hair with white stripes at the sides. He approached the woman slowly and stopped in front of her, waiting for her to acknowledge him. She slowly raised her eyes, though not her head, and gazed at him with a faraway look. He said something. She didn’t. He spoke again, turned gently and put his hand lightly to her elbow. She followed his lead to the opposite end of the platform, where I stood. Now I could hear his voice but not what he was saying. An occasional word, punctuated with a voice a few decibels louder, made its way to my ears. I heard, “must consider,” and “take my number.” A northbound train arrived. She got on. He waited for the southbound train then embarked. I went about the busyness of my day.

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I have always loved to write. Most of my writing has been of the non-fiction variety: informational, business oriented, research papers, editorials, website and brochure copy, articles or humor, with a few short plays in between. I have (as have may other writers) always wanted to write a novel, but I never seem to be able to start. Does one start with an idea, the whole story laid out, characters developed, plot decided? Or do you let it unfold, like the leaves of a flower (like that?)? I know fiction requires a lot of descriptive language, but my experience has taught me to remove extraneous words, not to add them.

So who could have been more surprised than me (or is it “I”?) when I started writing fictional scenes and stories in response to prompts from the book, “Bird by Bird,” by Anne Lamott?

This seminal book for writers is not about form, structure, plots or character development. It’s about her struggle to write, what she went through and lessons she learned. But in the process, you learn how to write. She removes the barrier of perfectionism, shares the self-doubt ALL writers go through, and gives you permission to try and fail and do it again. I can’t believe what this freedom has enabled me to write. I wrote 2 chapters, on the fly – meaning that I had no idea where the story was leading me, who the characters were going to be and what was going to happen. I just started writing, and miraculously, a story is developing before my eyes (or in my pen), as I ride the train to work.

Always with multiple balls in the air, this is one ball I must not drop. It feels good. I love it, and perhaps a book will some day be written.

 

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