This piece I wrote while stranded in a car with my daughter Lucy during a rainstorm. I remember balancing a paperback book on my steering wheel as I scribbled on the back of envelopes I had with me.
It hardly matters that it did not get published because it returns me to that moment in time so perfectly.
Be Here Now
There is a Zen precept, “Be Here Now” and today I am forced to live it. It is pouring down rain — making Nashua, New Hampshire look like Hawaii — and I am stranded in my car. Well, not really stranded. If I did not have asleeping two-year-old girl in the car with me I would brave the deluge. If she were not so tired that she has not opened her eyes during the onslaught, I would pick her up and run into the house, getting both of us wet and making both of us laugh.
It has been a wonderful day so far. Lucy and I went to her play group this morning, where four little girls dismantled an immaculate home in the space of thirty minutes. Then we met a friend and a daughter for la greasy lunch at the airport. We watched airplanes glide onto a runway while the girls tried to stack onion rings into towers. But when we got into the car to go home, and Miss Lucy, usually a fairly cooperative child, said “No home, no home” in the plaintive way that she has lately.
I’m not sure what this “No home” means, so I ask Lucy.
“Ducks’ home, Mommy,” she answers happily. “Feed ducks.”
This essay was written sometime in the early Nineties, sent out a few times, and then reworked. After the reworking, I sent it out again, but it was never accepted. I think it may be too much of what my essay writing group calls "beads on a string" — lovely bit after lovely bit that leads back to where it began. I'm too close to it to know if that's true.
Oh, and they hate the title, too.
My love affair with the element of fire started along with puberty, when I set my hair on fire for the first time. I was lighting the backyard incinerator on a windy night, holding the matches close to myself, trying to keep the wind from blowing them out. I got one lit, and when I bent over to throw it into the drum, my bangs, which needed trimming, caught on fire.
They sizzled out immediately, without hurting me, but left my bangs a grizzled mess, the mark of the secret rebel that I was. I watched the trash burn with a particular glee, happy in the knowledge that I had the upper hand. I was wrong. Fire had me in its grip.
This piece is quite old. It is an essay I wrote about an event that actually happened not long after Bill and I were married, so it's probably close to twenty years old. It got some good rejections, and I think if I had left out the secret ingredient The Christian Science Monitor might have taken it.
Dustin and I had a complicated relationship.
The first time I met him was over the chocolate cake at my then-boyfriend's company Christmas party, where I clung to Bill like static cling and hoped his friends would like me. Dusty let me take the last piece of cake, providing I gave him some.
Dusty was the party's host, as well as Bill's boss, and he had a wonderful sense of humor. When one of the employees stuck a sofa pillow under his shirt and started swaying on the dance floor,
I am not surprised that this piece never found a home — it took me countless drafts to get it down to this length from the original draft of nearly 2200 words.
"Summons" is the account of an experience I had at during a spiritual retreat at Rio Caliente, in Mexico, team led by Caroline Myss and Suzanne Fageol. Caroline is a medical intuitive and writer and Suzanne is an Episcopal priest. Suzanne was one of the first women to be ordained as an Episcopal priest in the United States and was imprisoned in England for serving communion.
It was a difficult piece to write, as I was sharing something quite personal and none of the journals I sent it to 'got it'. That's fine. Now that I am nearly twenty years older, I am glad to have written an account of the experience when it happened.
And, as far as I know, it was the last retreat that Caroline and Suzanne lead at Rio Caliente together.
I wanted my spirit back.
First, I had to confess.
When I signed up for the retreat in Mexico, I had no idea that I was going to be repeating the sacraments with a group of thirty-five other spiritual seekers. All I knew was that this retreat was lead
This is one of those pieces that I think editors found unbelievable, but is taken verbatim from my life. It happened in Nashua, at the Greenbriar Home. With apologies to my friend and former piano teacher, Alison Bailey, I present:
My Concert Career
At the recital, I was the fourth student to play. I followed three pre-schoolers sporting new haircuts and Baby Gap formalwear. I wore black, which I thought appropriate for a forty-plus pianist making her debut. Little did I know how appropriate.
When my piano teacher told me that there was going to be a recital, I smiled and nodded. Although I was relatively new to the piano, I would be ready. I have, after all, given presentations to hundreds of people at professional conferences. I have played leading roles in secondary school theatre. I have even sung solo in front of people other than family members.
The recital, my teacher reassured me, was a slam dunk. There was no way to fail. It was going to be held at a local nursing home. The audience was hardly critical.