Category Archives: a little bit serious

Out on a limb like a monkey’s uncle

I just hit send on an email that was too long in the making. A real editor is going to take a look at one of my short stories, and it’s kind of terrifying. I’m sure it’s full of errors and clichés and poorly used idioms, despite my repeated attempts to edit them out. But I went out on limb and, though I held my breath when I did it, I clicked that button.

Perhaps there’s a comfort we feel when we hit a certain age and with that, a confidence to do something different and push our own boundaries. I’m inspired by people around me who do this.

I have a friend who is thinking of quitting her job and pouring herself full-time into her jewelry business. A past client opened a cute bottle shop in North Portland. My step-mom went back to school for her PhD when most people start to think about retiring. For all of us that “certain age” came at different decades in our lives.

The timing for me wasn’t right before now because of my own doing. My confidence was too low and my fear of rejection too high. I’d like to say that having kids inspired me to write, but really it was needing to have a moment to myself that did it. My husband and I now know that writing keeps me sane. I think it’s because I feel more confident about working and writing than I do about my parenting skills (more accurate to say skilz?). Probably because I’ve been doing the former two longer. See? Comfortable.

Despite my base reasons for starting to write, continuing to write does have an beneficial upside as a parent. It’s important for me to show my kids that finding a hobby and an outlet that makes them happy is an important part of their social and psychological development. Their eyes glaze over when I use those words, so I have to show them – By leaving them with their father for an evening and not letting them read what I wrote because they’re stories for grown-ups, thank-you-very-much.

So, maybe I have to keep working on showing them, just like I have to work on lots of things. At least at this point in my life I can do my best and have the confidence to know that it will be good enough. In fact, it might be really good. Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!

About those idioms: I’ve been kind of fascinated with them since I started writing again. Did you know that “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle” dates from the Scopes trial about teaching evolution in school. And before that most people didn’t know or weren’t taught of evolution, despite Darwin’s best efforts. It’s things like this that will probably keep me too sidetracked to ever complete that novel.

The Dancing Jacket

It seems appropriate that I post this on Father’s Day. My Dad, who is fabulous in his own right, learned from one of the greats: my Grandpa Mal. Yesterday I went to a great writing workshop where we were tasked with writing a very short piece about an article of clothing. The most obvious, for me, was a certain blazer that took on a persona of it’s own at my wedding. It became an ode to Grandpa. So, to the wonderful fathers in my life, Dad, Grandpa, and John, Happy Father’s Day!!

The blazer was the life of the party. It had its beginnings a long time ago and was reborn at my wedding.

I was the first of my cousins on my Father’s side to get married. Just before the ceremony, my Mother said, “Grandpa was going to wear a terrible jacket. I told him he could not!”
I didn’t know what coat she was referring to, but I knew that my mom was misguided in admonishing my Grandpa. I was disappointed that it wasn’t making an appearance.
Later, after the ceremony, as we were making our way around the reception, Grandpa mentioned something wistful about the coat.
“Your room is close. Go get it!” The bride had given her blessing, so he did.
The Blazer in Action

On the dance floor a handsome, mustachioed gentleman appeared. He sported a blazer of the finest polyester. White background, shades of red and blue weaving together into a plaid pattern that, sadly, you just can’t find today. Silky(ish) brown lining. A wide collar that has probably come back into style and will again.  

“Grandma and I used to go dancing every Saturday.” Grandpa’s friendly tanned face pulled into a grin, white caps showing.
He wasn’t dancing, just standing with the smile. “So, let’s dance!” I said. And we did.
When he got warm Grandpa Mal needed to take the jacket off, but the jacket didn’t seem to want to leave the floor. It quickly found its way on my brother’s shoulders. He insisted it had climbed onto his back of its own accord. Todd, once wrapped in the blazer, seemed to need to dance. An uncontrollable urge took over. He danced like he was on Soul Train, with a continued performance out of Solid Gold. His exuberant dancing tore a little bit of the seam in the lining.  
I put the blazer on. It compelled me to dance like a moron and like it.
It had become magical. It stayed on the dance floor, the center of attention all night.
And when the blazer made its way back to its true owner, Grandpa Mal, that’s when I could see the real magic of it. This amazing man was getting all the attention he deserved and had earned in his long life. Sure, it was just dancing after a wedding, but everyone knew who the star of the night was.
The blazer has made its appearance at several more weddings since then. Each time the lining is a little more worn, and it smells a little more like body odor. But also, each time the coat’s magical owner has strutted his stuff and by doing so has taught us so much about how we want to grow old: Happy, surrounded by family, and still willing and able to dance. 

Let’s DO This Thing

For the record, let me just say that I think that people who Blog are crazy. They often share too much and are probably a little narcissistic. But there’s a “but.” I like to read them, it’s nice to see that others are as weird or normal or whatever as you, and it’s fun to write. And, maybe, I also find myself gazing at my reflection a little, too.

Not my lieteral reflection. It’s a little too uninteresting for my taste. I like a little bit of the exotic. But reflection in the dictionary’s “fixing of the thoughts on something” way. [I wanted to insert a pic of me looking reflective in a mirrored reflection. It was A) too silly and 2) Um, when did I get those sunspots?]

Last weekend I skipped my college reunion. Let’s just say it was my 10 year reunion. Just say. Instead I went with some girlfriends to the coast.We relaxed and drank fancy drinks and talked and had an impromptu dance party and talked more. (BTW, happy birthday Jen).

Arch Cape with the ladies


We weren’t there for any sort of retreat, but there were a few conversations that felt a little bit that way. We had a support group for floundering carreers. We had a kumbaya session on how we actually really like our husbands. I realize the cheeziness of it, but it was really nice. I left the weekend feeling really good about life and my place in the world.

As I was driving home I thought, no, reflected on this. I decided that I’m finally feeling inspired to actually write instead of talking about writing. So here it is. I have no idea who will read it, but it doesn’t really matter. I have friends who support me, kids who love me and a solid rock of a husband who both loves and supports me. I’m going to write whenever I can.

Then I got home and walked in to flopping, boneless, tantrumish kids. I realized that taxes were due and I hadn’t even started them. I was behind on paperwork for a couple of transactions for work. Ugh. What was I feeling just a moment ago? Inspired? Yeah, I’m having trouble locating that feeling again.

No, no, scratch that. The kids are fine, they just missed me. The taxes, after pulling my first all-nighter since the aforementioned college, are all done. The paperwork is fine thanks to my fabulous transaction coordinator. It’s all good.

Let’s DO this thing. I say this knowing that with so many projects I start out strong and energized and lose momentum a little too easily. I have some problems with follow-through. No, really I do.

So (for now) let’s DO this thing!