So What Am I?

I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?

We used to chant this to each other at primary school, whenever someone called us a rude name.

You’re stupid!

I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?

A stupid dick!

I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?

Shut up, you’re a mean, stupid dick!

I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?

Our child-size lizard brains exploded with frustration at answering a direct question, only to have it turned back on us over and over again. We fumed. Smoke billowed out of our ears; we danced on the spot with rage. We didn’t know about logical fallacies. We thought if we could just come up with the ultimate insult, we could smote our opponent. They would be felled by the devastating completeness of their new epithet. But it was always served back.

Continue Reading →

Abandonment and Annihilation

A little less than a year ago I ditched my book. I’d been writing it for almost three years at that point and had revised at least 4 times, re-mapped the storyline, gotten rid of an entire main character.

And then I felt overwhelmed. I decided that I had zero business writing a novel and needed to work on my actual skills before I jumped off that cliff. The plan was that I would write and revise a collection of short stories and try to submit them for publication.

Continue Reading →

Alchemy In Spring

I’ve been cold for months. The older I get the longer the cold takes to seep out of my bones. It kind of sits there, at my deepest marrow-level and crouches until spring. The green air warms me and the sun penetrates everything until the smells and the chartreuse of spring are there, just as the cold was.

We’re in the brown time now. Everything is crackling and stark, wood scratches on bare wood branches. The sky gets bright but the way the sun hits you is alarming. It blinds and makes you squint as you see your breath in the air in front of your face.

Continue Reading →

Where do you draw the line? An experiment with “found” writing

Due to a recent tweak in my insomniac four-year-old’s bedtime routine, I now spend hours each night sitting outside her room waiting for her to fall asleep while answering the questions that run through her head while she winds down: “Mum, what’s a fawn?” “How do you spell poison?”

It’s painful, but at least it affords me some reading time, and as a consequence I’m churning through the books at the moment. One of the latest is The Beat of the Pendulum by Catherine Chidgey.

Continue Reading →

Connecting + Writing = A Happier, Healthier Brain

Recently I watched an eight-part docu-series about the brain from Dr. Mark Hyman who, among other things, is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. It was filled with words like mitochondria, neurotoxins, and glutathione. Each episode would expire after a short period of time so I watched them intensely over the course of the week.

Of all the things I heard, there were a few stand out concepts that made a big impact on me. In discussing exercise, one of the doctors used CrossFit as as an example but not only due to the activity but also because this group in particular supports each other within that culture—it’s a sense of community. Her research suggests that being cared for could cause the brain to release chemicals that inevitably lends itself to healing (biological changes in the body) and happiness.

Since hearing this I felt compelled to reach out to a few old friends that I love but let the business of life grow distance between us. Because why not—I want a brain that’s full of happy pathways free of plaque. I didn’t expect the outcome of relieving a bit of my self imposed isolation, nor did I see that this would make for a more powerful writing experience.

Continue Reading →

Being Real—In Life and in Writing

When I was in elementary school, my mom and I lived with my grandparents for a few years. Each morning, I would wake in my daybed and tiptoe, pajama-clad, out to the second-story landing overlooking the living room, dining room, and the breakfast bar of my grandparents’ large kitchen. Down below, there they were: sitting in the dark on stools at the breakfast bar, sipping coffee from matching white porcelain coffee cups and talking in low murmurs. Eventually, the sun would rise and light would fill the whole first story of the house. My mom and I would join them for breakfast. The TV eventually would be turned on to catch a glimpse of the morning news, traffic, and weather reports.

But for my grandparents, the morning started with stillness, darkness, conversation, and coffee. Since my parents divorced when I was a toddler, my grandparents were my model of an adult relationship. I wanted that: a partner to start the morning with, over coffee, in the dark, until sunlight flooded the house.

Continue Reading →