Friday, August 13, 2010


I'm sitting here laughing with Dave and pondering this next blog entry. I lift my fingers to type and then pause as we laugh again. So I shall write about laughter! A good, hearty laugh is medicine for much of the stuff we deal with in life. I'm not talking about a snicker, chuckle, or giggle. I'm talking belly laugh here, the kind that hurts afterward. The kind that takes you by surprise and makes you double over, gasping for breath. What makes you laugh like that? (Aside from those sudden hilarious moments we can't plan, like the time I was young and dropped my dad's Polaroid camera in the parking lot and it started taking photos of the car trunk and wheels and parking lot, upside down, and spitting them out one after another. Remember that, Dad?)

My family gets a big kick out of funny animal videos, the strange things our cats do, sticking weird things into the shopping cart that none of us would ever buy and watching each other find them (pickled pigs' feet! dog food! a skimming net for our pool! it would be great if we had a pool!). Dave and I love sending each other amusing texts. THE CAT PEED ON ALL YOUR GUITARS, EXCEPT THE STRAT. HE NEEDS IT FOR HIS GIG TONIGHT.

Write down the things that crack you up every single time, because you may not be able to remember them in the middle of a bad afternoon. If you're feeling stuck, discouraged with yourself or just plain sick of what you're doing, it's time to pull out the list and make yourself laugh. Take a break and let loose. Yuck it up. Whatever was bothering you...what was bothering you? Can't remember? Exactly. Take a tip from our cat Ellie, who finds GET FUZZY comics hysterical. Forget everything else and LAUGH.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sleeping in Boxes

My little cat Zinnia is currently asleep in her sideways box under the kitchen table. It fits her perfectly. She doesn't need a cushy cat bed (though there is one), a soft blanket (though there are several), or a human pillow (again, several). She just needs her box. It feels right.

Remember being a kid and playing in boxes? Especially the huge ones from refrigerators? The best! Those boxes were rockets, time machines, caves, offices, everything. And they made for perfect sleeping if we were allowed to sleep in them.

At the age of 25, I slept in a box. Fortunately not on the street- and I don't say that lightly. I got a refrigerator box up to my rented room and went nuts with it. I colored flowers along the outside, made a window, added some whimsical touches. In went my pillow and blanket. I slept in the box for a week. It was awesome, and even more awesome to tell people what I was doing. They thought I was crazy, or silly, but some of them got a faraway look in their eyes. They remembered boxes.

I did it to remember, and I did it to access my inner child. It did help my writing. I did it mostly, though, because IT WAS FUN. It made me feel giggly and artistic and yes, different from all those boring people who would never decorate a box, let alone sleep in one.

And if you are reading this and thinking it's amusing or inspiring but your back would never recover from sleeping in a box: a single air mattress can fit in there. Foam toppers can fit in there. Several layers if necessary. And- if you are feeling so bold- a box can fit ON YOUR BED.

Boxes rock.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


So often we pretend we're not stuck- not stuck in our writing, not stuck in our ruts, not stuck in the middle of a crisis. We pretend we're okay, at least around most of the people we know, and sometimes within ourselves. How many times do you say "I'm okay," when asked how you are? Even if things suck and you want to cry or throw a toaster across the room or hide in bed for a year? Wouldn't it be nice to be honest around everyone? We should feel more comfortable saying "I'm not okay," and getting a brief but heartfelt hug from a friend or acquaintance. It would help us all, at least a little, and bond us. We need to trust that people can handle honesty and respond with compassion. They can look into our eyes and say they feel for us. They can let us know they understand. And once in a while, they can unhook our claws from the curtain.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Table

My problem is not doing laundry, but folding it and putting it away. I'm regularly running down to the basement to grab a shirt or shorts or towel from The Table, an ordinary card table buckling under the weight of all those clean jumbled things. Dave will say, "If you have time, you know, sometime today, there's a load of towels on The Table," and I'll cut him off with, "I know! I know! I know!" Dave is a man who does his own laundry, washes more dishes than I do, and generally cleans more, so he's allowed to drop hints or suggestions about The Table and its contents. And I ignore them. I do like drawers full of easy-to-find clothes, but being a creative person, I guess I don't see the point of folding and transferring them when I could be doing one of a million more interesting things. My hand reaches toward The Table and stops- really. And I think about grinding some Guatemalan coffee beans or checking out Ben's ant farm or writing a poem. I've also never heard the laundry complain. I imagine all the clothes happily snuggling together like a pile of cats. And I get exercise every time I need a shirt. Plus, once in a while, I like to think I'm so busy having a Meaningful Life that taming the laundry is maybe even beneath me. this a problem? Or is The Table actually a solution, somewhere to go when I need confirmation that Life is full and wonderful and so many mundane things can wait? That may be the real reason I leave it the way it is- because I know! I know! I know!

Luna Moth

The day I met my first luna moth reminds me of what it means to be a writer. I was standing at the side of a lake when the gorgeous creature literally landed in the water in front of me, struggling to save herself. I lifted her and without even thinking about it, set her on the front of my shirt to dry her wings. Right over my heart. She waited, and lifted her wings a bit; she waited some more. She knew when the time was right. When it was, I lifted her on one finger and she flew high, high, high into the trees. What a magical moment.

It's important for us as writers to dry our wings, to wait until our words are truly ready to venture into the world. When they are, who knows how far they'll go? And when we struggle, may we all find someone to lift us from the water and give us shelter until we're ready to fly.