I just had a new work accepted in an anthology. My heart skipped a beat when I found out. This is my second piece that will be published.
I am a long way from being jaded or bored with people reading my work. I can barely contain my eagerness when I ask family, friends and other writers to give me their feedback.
“Have you read it yet?” I text with the persistence of a child on a long ride who wants to know are we there yet.
I hope two things: that I keep publishing and that I feel a thrill every time. I will write more about the new piece as more information on the anthology becomes available but this has me thinking about the first story I ever published.
In April of 2018, my short story, The Closing, was published by The Esthetic Apostle. It’s a lovely publication featuring poetry, prose, artwork and photography. They were a new publication when I sent them my work.
Last night, I spent some quiet hours surfing around past issue reading poetry and prose and loving the artwork and photographs.
The world is reminding me of my life in San Francisco in the 1990s. Along with that has come a longing for the creative life I once led. A time of writing, painting, and drawing.
So I am sprinkling seeds for the future all over the place. I don’t know what will take root or when.
Today I was walking and ran into an acquaintance. She shared that she was a writer and editor. And boom. It hit me. When coincidence presents itself, reach out with vulnerability and gratitude. Life if too short not to welcome the gifts.
So in a very San Francisco-like drizzle, I shared my love of writing and my desire to get back to it, to make connections in the writing world and, most importantly, craft compelling stories that make my heart soar.
If this was a Hollywood film, that little encounter would have kicked off a series of events that ended in a book deal.
Turns out my wonderful neighbor was a retired science and non fiction writer. The gift wasn’t a professional contact, it was the feeling of joy I experienced talking about the process of writing. How I take an issue and create a person who lives in different circumstances and watch them interact with the issue. The way I listen to character the for days while they tell me their story and find their meaning. The passion I have for writing.
The paths are familiar. I remember bike rides and jumping in to rescue my son from a fall into two inches of rich chocolate brown mud. His front side perfectly clean and his back perfectly covered like he had been dipped in mud.
I remember catching frogs in the ponds and our squeals.
I remember an enormous pile of pine cones and an industrious squirrel. My amazement couldn’t not translate to my tween son.
Today I walk alone, my teen son sound asleep. I notice weeping branches against the gray sky. Runic messages in the roots telling me my fate if I care to translate. Today I love the texture and mess of wet spotted leaves. No instagram filters here.
A splash of green has me curious. Why so bright just weeks before the first snow. I feel the joy of those green leaves. Externally hopeful.
I’m a lifelong Democrat who loves my country. I’m definitely a liberal. In all my years, I don’t believe that I have ever met someone who wants to take away all guns. They are out there I’m sure but most lefties like me want some common sense changes.
I want guns and accessories with some features regulated. Brand name and the look of the gun makes absolutely no difference to me. You are right, the hunting rifle with it’s wood finish looks traditional and yet does exactly the same thing.
Here’s what I want: Reduce the number of rounds before reloading. Reduce the number of shots a person can fire per minute. Eliminate gun show and private sale loopholes. Improve the background checks process. Ensure that violent behaviors such as domestic violence are reported. Provide a mechanism for families to be able to address suicidal family members. Too many veterans are lost because trauma left them suicidal and they had access to a gun during their darkest hour.
I think some conservatives like yourself could collaborate with us lefties on a few common sense solutions.
Please help me remember a time when we could work together.
Once, our people valued compromise. Differences in opinion were not reasons to scream insults. There was power in restraint and a common code of decency.
Please tell me that my hindsight is not just rosy nostalgia.
Part rosy and part true. Our people have a history of hate and bigotry. Waves of white supremacy have swept through our country. So many people lost their lives and livelihood to weak people driven by hate. Over and over again, the bigots have been defeated when decent people unite.
Please tell me how the old battles were won.
Many people spoke up and stood side by side. Many people risked everything to speak against hate. The risks were high but the cost of being agreeable in disagreeable times is too much to accept.
Please tell me everything will be okay.
There’s good reason to hope.
The marginalized voices have much to say. Are you ready to listen? They are ready to lead. Are you ready to follow?
Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been many seasons since my last confession.
Father, I was drawn to the world of reality tv. At first, it seemed so modern and fresh.
I laughed in shock as women with sculpted faces in expensive clothes screamed obscenities at each other and flipped tables. And broken glasses of Pinot Grigio sparkled like the diamonds on their fingers.
I tuned in with anticipation as helicopters and private jets delivered finalists to studios filled with props that branded showmen as adventurers and successful billionaires.
I smugly thought it could do no harm as I watched the aw-shucks shenanigans of quiverful families promoting “god” sanctioned female subservience.
Like the viewers who joined me, my attention fed narcissism, discord, avarice, isolation and hate.
For these and all my media sins, I am truly sorry.
Binary thinking is essential in acute life and death circumstances where a split second second choice will determine your survival. But it is a detriment to complex and collaborative issues that may very well affect the lives of millions but are nuanced.
The binary sets up anger, judgement, feelings of betrayal. One misstep, one disagreement and the brain must make a decision about which category to place that person. Binary feels safe because it seems clearer. But the clarity of division has significant ramifications.
A full spectrum thinking allows balance. We can see where we are alike and where we are different. We approach each other with curiosity We can say to ourselves and others, “I don’t like where you stand on this but I like you. And I liked where you stand on these other things.”
Curiosity and acceptance of differences allow us to move out of the lizard brain and explore ideas in these situations. It moves us out of reactive into reflective thought
Let’s work together on the good that we agree on and maybe the shared experience will allow us to get closer to agreement on the areas that we disagree about. And if not, we’ll discover other areas of agreement.
A year ago, I considered myself an engaged citizen.
I voted! Almost every election!
(except those little ones that almost no one really cares about.)
(Occasionally. Mostly old clothes.)
I spoke my mind.
(Except when I was worried about offending someone with my liberal views or I was afraid of being shamed, attacked or called ugly names on social media.)
A year ago, I cuddled under the warm protective cover of PantSuit Nation where I shared my views with like minded people.
A year ago, I believed that sexism had been defeated. Funny how I didn’t notice that I was sheltering myself from the very forces that I had imagined vanquished.
Today, I donate to candidates, ACLU, Planned Parenthood.
Today, I speak my mind in the open, never hiding behind anonymous profiles.
Today, I amplify the voices of women and men fighting to defeat bigotry and hate.
Today, I vote in every election because the school board is the nursery for the next group of political leaders and I want to know who is growing and developing.
Next year, I will look at this year and see a stronger voice with a deeper impact.