unlucky update

Insightful piece in The New Yorker: The Tortured Bond of Alice Sebold and the Man Wrongfully Convicted of Her Rape. See my previous post: unlucky.

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We received almost a foot yesterday–March 27th. During graduate school, I wrote a paper (long lost) about John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl. I forgot how long the poem is, but maybe I’ll reread it and perhaps write a new essay about snow.

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what I did over spring break

I tested positive for COVID-19 on March 5, 2023. According to recent reports, the pandemic began on March 11, 2020. I made it almost three years before contracting the virus. On March 12, I tested positive again, so on day 9 (today) I opted to stay home and teach online. After 10 days, I should be okay to venture out into the world.

Such a weird bug. I tried yoga on day 5. Big mistake. The headache returned, and I felt like crap the next day. From one day to the next, I feel energized then exhausted. From one hour to the next, I feel good then bad. From one minute to the next, I feel hot then cold. My sense of smell and taste changes throughout the day. My sinuses feel clear, they feel stuffy. I get dizzy. I get hungry, I get nauseous. I get dry mouth. I forget what I just said. I remember the lines from a song I heard 20 years ago. I wait and wait and wait for the fog to dissipate. And I eagerly await bedtime, which gets earlier and earlier every night. Daylight savings time be dammed. I can sleep anytime, anywhere.

No skiing. No southern Utah trip. No relaxing days reading books and watching movies. Instead a slog of a week. A slug moves faster and enjoys the journey.

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I don’t make them. I mean I do, but then I quickly abandon them. I tell everyone I don’t make them so I don’t have to tell them I’ve already quit doing whatever I promised myself I wouldn’t do, or stopped doing whatever I promised myself I would do. Last night I fell off the wagon, which I’d only been riding for three days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. By Thursday, I needed/wanted a drink.

Apparently I’m not alone. Today, January 13, 2023, is Quitters’ Day–the day when everyone quits, gives up, abandons their New Year’s resolutions. The second Friday of January is the date by which we’ve all decided it’s just too difficult to change our behavior:

“Quitter’s Day is set aside to recognize those who set new year goals and fail to achieve them — and to encourage and equip them to try again and ultimately succeed. Research has shown that people quit their resolutions for the year by the second Friday of January.”

Fascinating! I’m part of the 80%. Do I get extra points for quitting early? I didn’t plan to resolve anything. I mean I have no resolve. I really just want to survive–survive the return to teaching, the winter, the next few years of my life. Drinking, even in moderation, probably doesn’t prolong my life. But how bad is it really? I mean the battles I wage with myself may be doing more harm than the booze. Perhaps I could give myself permission to be imperfect, to have the occasional evening of whiskey or wine.

“Progress not perfection.” I exercised every day this week so far = progress. I woke up early and wrote–at least a little bit–every morning this week = progress. I kept up with my classes in person and online = progress. I made time to read a book = progress. I practiced the piano = progress. I knit a sock = progress. I skied = progress. I avoided the TV news most evenings = progress. I spent quality time with my cats, daughter, and husband = progress. I wrote and mailed thank you notes for Christmas = progress. I came to this coffee shop and wrote a post for my blog = progress.

I resolve not to worry about being the imperfect being that I am. I resolve to be enough, for now.

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Happy to have this post up on So to Speak.

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new pubs page

After owning this blog for I don’t know how many years, I’ve finally added a new page, Publications, which includes the following sub-sections:

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sabbatical update – fall 2022

One month away from returning to teaching, and I’m feeling okay with my accomplishments. I completed my chapbook manuscript. Here’s the synopsis:

Unraveling disentangles the strands of the narrator’s life in order to reveal a woman’s capacity to unknot pesky relationships and unsnarl nasty situations. As she unravels the troubling bits, she knits together a freshly-pressed fabric of hope, joy, and love.

And here’s the full list of stuff I did:


  1. submitted VCEL article to Metropolitan Journal (7/7)
  2. connected with writing group
  3. compiled list of journals & deadlines
  4. researched chapbook publishers


  1. applied to artist residencies
  2. read various essays, memoirs, and books re: writing
  3. submitted “a rip in the fabric” (8/15)
  4. began The Artist’s Way 12-week course (8/24)
  5. submitted “Why I get up early” (8/31)


  1. met with memoir chat group (9/6)
  2. submitted three shorts: “black coffee,” “disorganized,” and “mouse” (9/9)
  3. attended Creekside Arts residency in Eureka, California (9/21-9/28)
  4. read three works (“Unraveling,” “Three Shorts,” & “Bubba”) @Creekside Arts (9/25)
  5. published “Why I get up early” on Brevity Blog (9/26)
  6. read various essays, memoirs, and books re: writing


  1. met with memoir chat group (10/21)
  2. submitted “a retreat to advance” (10/24)
  3. received acceptance for “three shorts” from Rathalla Review (10/30)
  4. read various essays, memoirs, and books re: writing
  5. started Write Your Memoir Month 2022 self-guided class (10/31-11/25)


  1. submitted Unraveling chapbook (11/11)
  2. completed The Artist’s Way 12-week course (11/16)
  3. submitted “cousins” (11/20)
  4. outlined memoir, Fanning the Flame
  5. drafted first chapter of memoir
  6. completed Write Your Memoir Month 2022 self-guided class (11/22)
  7. submitted “between” (11/22)


  1. began weekly blog posts (12/9)
  2. read various essays, memoirs, and books re: writing

Classes completed

  1. Personal Essay (April)
  2. The Artist’s Way (August – November)
  3. Write Your Memoir Month (October – November)

Chapbook completed

Unraveling (November)

Essays published

  1. Why I get up earlyBrevity Blog
  2. three shorts: black coffee, disorganized & mouse – forthcoming in Rathalla Review
  3. a retreat to advance?
  4. cousins?
  5. between?

Residency attended

Creekside Arts (September)

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happy birthday Cindy

You didn’t make it to 60.

I’m still in shock that you’re gone, though it’s been 2 months. Poof. Gone from the world. Nothing left. No children, no pets, no written words, very few photos and none recent, no sounds of your warm and infectious laugh, no lingering smile or mischievous grin, no witty rejoinders, no affectionate nicknames (Lux, Researcher Ray, Engineer Ed, Biology Bob), no dance moves to the Cure, no late-night chats about our love lives, no birthday emails exchanged, no visits to catch up on all the minutiae of our lives, no more hockey matches or swim meets or guys to obsess over, no more love to spread across your sphere. But perhaps I’d lost you long ago, in 1999, when you married and moved to Maine.

The slow, not so slow, march to death. I can see why Carolyn Heilbrun chose to leave early, though she delayed her departure by almost a decade. Go before someone parks you some place and you have no power to leave. If Georg was smart he’d have a plan to to end it. If he cannot function without you, however, he probably doesn’t have the means. Hard to imagine being so utterly dependent on another person. Did you like having him so vulnerable, so needy? Did it give your life purpose?

As I’m working on my own sense of purpose I imagine that having someone so reliant could at least give you a reason to get up every day. Then the equation changes: one of the components is removed. So what happens with the remaining one? Kind of a dumb analogy. But there it is. I often wonder about my parents–who will fail first, how will the other one respond–and about me and Dave. Surely a clean exit without any entanglements would be best.

All the time runs out and then it’s over 10 years since your sister-in-law saw Georg, and she has no idea how to help him. The sister says he has Stockholm Syndrome. What about you? Were you abused? Did he hurt you? Why didn’t I reach out to you more often? More than once a year for our birthdays. And maybe I should have visited, tried to be involved in your lives. So much I don’t know–and will never know–about your relationship. I can barely understand my own.

I wonder what you’d hoped to do today…were you and Georg planning a party, a trip, a dinner out?

Cause of death: obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

You couldn’t breathe. Your heart gave out.

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Why I get up early

Happy to have this post up on Brevity Blog.

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Today I am 60 years old. I’m tucked away in a cabin amidst the redwoods halfway between Eureka and Arcata, California. I slept for 10 hours last night. Only waking when the flickers pecked at the side of the house. The sun emerges between the trees and warms the floor while I stretch my old body on the yoga mat. Then just as I imagine sitting on the floor to do my morning reading and writing, the sun disappears. The floor once more cold. I’ll take myself to the shore, find some sand to walk on, hope for a sunny spot to contemplate life.

My C-section scar started itching in Reno. By the time I got here, it was raw and red. Why would it be hurting now? Have I gained so much weight that the skin stretches and strains the scar? Over 22 1/2 years since anyone emerged from the abdominal cut. Why pain now?

The sabbatical moves along, the writing not so much. I’m working through the 12-week course of The Artist’s Way, which makes me feel mildly productive. And I read lots of books. Perhaps the scar signals an upcoming spurt of creativity. A birth of some kind.

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