Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Monday, I had the wind knocked out of me. Literally. My daughter wanted to go ice skating for her 11th birthday. I was a figure skater at a girl, so skating always feels like coming home to me--the taste of the sharp, cold air, the dig of the blade in the ice, the faint trail it leaves behind. This time, however, I fell. Hard. My toepick caught in a divot, and before I knew what was happening, I went down, smack, on my stomach. A guy bent down to see if I was okay, and I couldn't answer him. I couldn't talk at all. It was the strangest sensation. "You don't have to be embarrassed," he said. I wasn't--I just couldn't speak. Eventually, I could feel the air in my throat, bracing and raw; I let him help me up, I dusted myself off and made my way off the ice to catch my breath and collect myself. I'm a bit bruised today, but grateful that I wasn't hurt more. Now that my husband is recovering from his injury/surgery (he started physical therapy today), we don't need more broken people in the house!

I feel as if the wind has been knocked out of me in another way, too. The news coming from South Asia is too devastating to comprehend. I feel like I did belly-down on the ice--speechless, stunned. I look at the photos of parents mourning their lost children, I hear the accounts of being swept out to sea, and my stomach feels slapped, my head filled with a metallic ringing.

The earth is so powerful. We are so small. But our lives have so much meaning, and to see so much life, so many stories, snuffed out on such a major scale is almost too much to bear. We sent a donation to Doctors Without Borders as soon as we heard what was happening. I wish there was more we could do. Here is a compilation of other organizations that are accepting donations towards relief efforts. Tsunami Help is another clearing house of information.

I hope all of you are having a beautiful holiday season, despite all the pain in the world. May the new year be full of healing and peace on a global scale.

Monday, December 13, 2004

I am humbled and excited and genuinely mindblown to announce that I have been chosen as a 2004 Writer Who Makes a Difference by The Writer Magazine (along with Jane Yolen, the late George Plimpton, and three other wonderful recipients. If you pick up the January, 2005 issue, you can see the feature article.) This award feels somewhat premature--I feel as if I am just beginning to do the work I'm supposed to do on this planet--but it inspires me to go further, to push deeper, to use my words for greater and greater good.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

MJ Rose has posted my Letter to Book Biz Santa on her kickass Publishers Marketplace blog, Buzz, Balls and Hype. (You'll have to scroll down a bit--I'm not one of the "bah humbug" authors. Speaking of "bah humbug", my daughter was a brilliant Little Fan--sister to Ebenezer as a boy--in a production of "A Christmas Carol" this weekend! Her first professional gig!)

You can send your own publishing hopes and dreams to Book Biz Santa via MJ at mjroseauthor at aol dot com.

(Update, 1/3/05: You can no longer access my letter at the link above, but you can find it in the archives if you click on "December 2004"...)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

My online class, Writing the First Novel, begins January 19 and runs through March 23. I had such a wonderful time with this class over the summer and look forward to teaching it again. You can register online through the UCLA Writers Program.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Supposedly, I've enabled the Comments feature. Let's see if it works...

Okay, it works, but you can only post and view comments if you click on the time link that appears below each post. I will try to make it all more accessible. In the meanwhile, feel free to leave a message behind the (iron? velvet? virtual?) curtain!

Update: I've figured out how to make a real-life Comments link. Yay! I'd love to hear from you (all those "0 Comments" lines look so lonely...)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I have been thinking a lot about what holds things together. The tangible and intangible. The screws and plates in my husband's leg. The way the bone will knit itself back together. The connection I feel when I put my palm on his swollen foot. Such a rich weave.

One thing that doesn't stay together: my clothes. Take it from me--if you're going to give a reading or talk, don't wear clothes that tie together. The first time I gave a Fruitflesh reading--my very first event as an author--I wore a lavender colored wrap blouse. It felt elegant, grown up (which, in my wardrobe, and in my mind, is rare.) At some point in my reading, I felt air on my stomach. I looked down and realized that my blouse had untied and had opened up so that the whole front of my body was exposed (I was wearing a bra, but I still showed a lot more of my own fruitflesh than I had intended.) Later, someone told me I should do that at every reading, but I decided against it.

Recently, at the beautiful Performances for Peace event, I wore pants that are held up by a single blue satin ribbon. A long blue satin ribbon. As I was sitting in the audience, somehow the end of the ribbon got under my friend's foot, and when I stood to give my reading, I could feel the ribbon untie. While I tried to be as present as possible with my work and with the audience as I read, part of me spent the entire time worrying that my pants were going to fall down. I think I was probably standing in a sort of I-have-to-go-to-the-bathroom, legs-together, kind of way throughout the performance.

So, my clothes may not stay together, but I'm amazed by the way everything else in life merges. Even after it's been shattered.