May I have a second (or seven) of your time?

Not calling after a date is one thing.   “Forgetting” to return a call (or two or twenty) from that friend who you now realize is craZy (and not in a good way) is   socially acceptable.  But not replying, in any way shape or form, to not just a job application (from a highly qualified candidate) but to a follow up email, is downright unprofessional.

I realize every open job these days must get a gazillion applicants.  (Though in this case it was a Graduate Assistantship on campus with a limited pool of applicants: only graduate students would be eligible.) I know everyone is busy busy busy, overwhelmed with email, and probably even doing extra work because budget cuts necessitate doing not only your own job, but the job of your co-worker who was laid off or not replaced when he retired.  I know that you don’t care about my employment status or my feelings.

But still.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

And if one of those highly qualified applicants wrote a personal email follow up inquiring if the position had been filled SIX  SEVEN DAYS AGO….  well then, I think a reply email would be the professional response.  You know, because this is a business.  Or a university, or whatever.

How long does to take to hit the reply button, type “Yes,” then tap the send button?

Seven seconds.  That’s all it would take. (I timed it,because that’s the kind of detail oriented person I am.)

Anniversaries

 January 28 is the anniversary of my mother’s death.

Sometimes I forget, but my body always remembers.  I become achy. I want to hunker down in my own house, stay in bed longer than usual.  Here in Albuquerque it’s easy to chalk it up to winter–January is the coldest month–but it’s neither winter nor the cold that makes me weepy.

It’s been 34 years and most of the time I don’t get bogged down with grief and longing for something, for my mom, but writing this dissertation means I’ve been dredging up the memories; I’ve been deliberately putting myself back in that time when I was a messed up teenager.

Last week I was at the Children’s Grief Center, where I co-facilitate a bereavement group for teens.  During our facilitator check-in I mentioned that the anniversary of my mom’s death was coming up.  I said I was feeling a little sad, but I was glad to be there as a volunteer.   A couple of people came up to me after the check-in and asked if I was okay.  I said “Yes,” and I meant it.

And then, two days later I had a meltdown in front of my professor and two of my colleagues.   Right there at Winnings Coffee.  It was weird.  I started the meeting feeling good about my pages, about the state my dissertation was in.  (I’ve made peace with the fact that at the time of my defense it won’t be perfect, but it will be defendable. )  We were talking about my latest revisions, and all of the sudden a thought came into my head–that my mom wouldn’t be there.  That my dad wouldn’t be there.  I felt this flush of sadness simply overwhelm my body and I started to cry.  And then I felt stupid for crying.

I know grief comes in waves, and I know that even years later you can feel the loss, that sometimes something triggers the feeling of loss.  But Geez! it’s been THIRTY FOUR YEARS.

I explained to my colleagues that the following day was the anniversary of my mom’s death, and to please just understand that sometimes I feel emotionally unstable at this time of year….  I dried my tears, pulled myself together, and we moved on.

The next morning Suzanne called.   I was buried under my down comforter listening to the radio and just about to start feeling guilty for not being up and about…

“I know you said that today is the anniversary of your mother’s death.  I don’t know if you do anything special….”

“No. Mostly I just feel weepy,”  I said.  Since I’ve been volunteering at the Grief Center, and writing this memoir, I’m much more aware of these kinds of feelings, and much more willing to be open about them, speak of them matter-of-factly.

She invited me out for a walk and showed up an hour later, holding a lavender plant, our mutual friend Cassie in tow.  We spent the morning walking along the Bosque trail, talking and laughing.

A four mile walk may not be something specific I would choose to do to honor my mom, but it was great way to hang out with good friends, get fresh air, enjoy my favorite part of Albuquerque along the Rio Grande (the only place where there is water) and not feel alone.

…..

February 1 (today) would have been my Dad’s 79th birthday.

This anniversary isn’t as tough emotionally.  I had more time with my dad. He was older when he died (though he could have lived longer had he taken better care of himself).   I’m spending the day working on my dissertation, the thing that will get me the MFA degree.  My dad worked hard, worked a lot, he was smart. He had two master’s degrees, so I think he’d be proud.

Maybe I’ll go for a walk later….

Revising, revisiting, rewriting

The comment from my professor and the chair of my dissertation committee, scrawled at the bottom of a section titled “Baking Banana Bread,” and barely legible said:

“I think this section needs to do more.”

But WHAT? I wanted to scream.

Instead, I pondered, I mulled, I percolated, I discussed with friends.  Did I need this section at all? Was it repeating something I’d already expressed in the section on making Mom’s Chicken Divan?  Could I make it say something different?

Could I, should I “kill my darlings?”

The hardest part of revising is knowing when to let it go, and knowing when to keep pushing through, moving blocks of text around, re-writing, adding and removing words, deepening and broadening the ideas.  And of course, knowing when it’s done.

But is it ever done?  Over burgers and beer the other night with my friend Samantha Tetangco we spent a good amount of time talking about  The Dissertation.  Sam finished hers last year; this year she’s been teaching English at UNM.  She is still working on what was her dissertation, and is now her novel-in-progress.  She’s working on it diligently.

We talked about a panel we’d both attended at the 2010 AWP conference:  a group of writers talking about AFTER the MFA. It was eye-opening.  They’d all spent a few more more years revising their work before getting their books published.

A few more years? I thought then.  I’ve already been working on this damn book since 2005.  It was discouraging.

But now, as I think about the most immediate deadline in my future–  the dissertation defense–it is encouraging to think that my dissertation does not need to  be ready to run to a publisher or an agent.  Sure, I want my dissertation to be the best it can be. Yes, I want to present good work to my committee.  Of course I will spend hours each day preparing for my defense (which means writing).  But it doesn’t have to be perfect.

What I do need to work on is making sure that I don’t quit after the dissertation, that I find a way, even if like Sam I only write an hour a day, to keep moving forward, keep pushing, revising, revisiting, rewriting until I’ve made something I could take to a publisher or an agent….  at which point he or she will probably want me to revise and rewrite once again, maybe twice.

It always comes back to this:  that writing is a lot like life, we’re always revising. If not, we might as well give up all together.

 

How did it get to be 2012 already?

Anyone who has followed my blog (both of you) may have noticed that I’ve not posted anything since–gasp!– July!  The good news is that I’ve been focused on other writing endeavors, most importantly The Dissertation– the book that I am writing that will get me the M.F.A. in creative writing for which I came to New Mexico.  Now that the end is in sight–I’ll be defending this semester, late March or early April–I’m wondering (and everyone is asking),

What next?

And it scares me.

 

I hate that question mostly because I don’t have an answer.

 

When I left San Diego to attend graduate school I envisioned completing  my degree, and returning: to Southern California, to my marketing job, to my friends, to my family, to my life.  But when I lost my job in February, everything changed including my well-crafted plan to return to California and pick up where I left off.

Instead, I’m at a place where I have to figure out what’s next.

First, if I want to teach college level English, I’m at a disadvantage because (1) I don’t have any real, front-of-the-classroom teaching experience, (2) Funding cuts to institutions of higher education mean fewer jobs, or part time jobs with no health insurance benefits (3) For a tenure track position teaching creative writing I’d need a book published (or on contract).   It’s not that think these are insurmountable obstacles, but I’m a realist.  If this is what I want to do, I need to find ways around those obstacles.

I’ve thought about finding a job.  Jobs are much more plentiful in San Diego, especially if I want to go back into online media and marketing.

I’ve thought about freelancing: consulting businesses on creating and managing online presence. The benefit would be that if I can build up a good revenue stream, I could take that “job” with me wherever I go.

I’ve thought about editing, and manuscript consulting.

I’ve thought about getting my book published, about getting a grant for some of the creative / community projects I want to do. I’ve thought about my next book, and the one after that….   and writing proposals to get those paid for up front.

I’ve thought about running off to Hawaii.

I’ve thought about applying for fellowships and residencies and other opportunities for freshly minted writers with MFA degrees.

But mostly, right now, I’m thinking about finishing my MFA degree:  it’s number 1 on my list of goals for 2012.  Other goals on my list include:

Listen..  to others, and most importantly, to myself (this is more of an intention than a goal, as goals need to be measurable).

Write… 1 blog post per month and work 5 hours per day on my book (“writing” time includes planning, reading, revising, submitting and researching).

Submit…  craft 4 “chapters” of my book into stand-alone essays, send out to a minimum of 48 literary journals (that’s only four per month).

Create…  a multi-media essay of one of my short essays.

Yoga… twice a week.

Develop…  a plan for what’s next.

I know I’ll be ok.

I know I’ll land on my feet.

I just don’t know where.

Taos: it sneaks up on you

So far during this month I’ve had the opportunity to spend a total of seven days in Taos, New Mexico.  First, I attended the University of New Mexico’s Taos Summer Writers’ Conference.  This annual conference will always hold a special place in my heart.  The first time I attended the conference, in 2005, I had my first experience reading and looking at my own writing through the lens of craft in Greg Martin‘s “beginning” memoir class.  The lesson continued with the 2007 Master Class in memoir (also taught by Greg Martin).  In 2009 I took a class with Jesse Lee Kercheval, and in 2010 with Summer Wood.

Just to be clear, I have many others to thank for teaching, and encouraging me– I took classes and workshops in San Diego with some wonderful writers like Jill BadonskyJudy Reeves, Sue Diaz and Candace Toft and I learned a lot from them all…

But this post is about Taos.  Sort of.

This past week, rather than take a more challenging course in memoir, one that would require me to submit pages to my classmates and a teacher, and participate in a read and critique, I opted to take a class that was geared more towards generating new writing.  Taught by Jeffrey Davis, the class “Where It All Begins: Writing, Yoga & Wonder” turned out to be just what I needed.  I wrote some really bad stuff, and some really good stuff, tapping into someplace I hadn’t been in a while–my imagination.  You see, when you write memoir sometimes you forget that it doesn’t all have to be true.  That is one aspect of  the “creative” part of  “creative non fiction.”

In the piece I like,  “The Way It Was Supposed To Be” I imagine a fight with my mother that never happened, a fight that couldn’t have happened because in the scene I wrote I was 15.  In reality, I was 13 when she died….    I’m still working on this as either short memoir piece (under 1000 words) or developing a longer piece, I’m not sure.

I also wrote a piece that I’m not as excited about– its Word document title is  MomDream.doc.  It is based on a dream I had–which is of course tricky because really, who wants to know about your dreams?  In the dream I find out my mother had not died, had in fact been in a mental institution and that the family had decided it would be better if we (my sister and I) didn’t know.  If that is not weird enough, in the dream, my mother comes back–  she’d gotten out of the institution, divorced my dad, married some new guy and was living in Boca.  (Boca?!  yeah, I know)  This writing is not so good, I’m not sure I can make it into an essay or a chapter, but there are some good lines in there that may make their way into something else.

I wanted to be sick, to puke purple words and foggy letters, to crawl back into bed, or run out the door, down the street, over the back fence in Lisa Johnson’s yard, through the woods to Dillon’s horse farm. I wanted to take Trixi, my pinto pony, and gallop along the old abandoned rail road tracks all the way to Richmond.

I wanted to scream in capital letters with exclamation points to make myself heard. WHY?!! WHY?? WHY? ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS NOW?! I wanted to scream WHAT THE FUCK?!

And just like a cartoon, the swirl of words and letters and punctuation marks screeched to a halt in a halo around my head, frozen in mid air, hanging for a full minute before falling to the ground and shattering like old brittle bones. The rest of the day became a blur of words and images, memories, maybe real, maybe imagined, I didn’t know anymore.

 

Or maybe not…  we’ll just have to see what happens.

All this to say, Taos, for whatever reason, stimulates parts of my brain that don’t get stimulated very often, things like imagination and wonder. Plus attending a conference full of like minded people all pursuing creative endeavors is pretty damn encouraging.  It doesn’t hurt that Taos is at least 15 degrees cooler than Albuquerque, and Taos is downright paradise.

Last night I went back to Taos.  My friend and writing coach Jill Badonsky is hosting “Electric Skies and Creative Thunder” a creative retreat at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house.  And since Jill and I missed connecting in Albuquerque before she drove up on Sunday, she invited me to come up for the night, to have dinner there at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, and participate in the evening’s Salon, a kind of open mic.

Jill is (I hope she won’t get mad if she reads this) less about writing, about the craft of writing and more about tapping into the creativity.  That is to say, a Jill workshop is not going to talk about rising action, or character development or discuss the character’s motivation or if the obstacles are formidable enough.  I would be shocked if she drew a Freytag Triangle on the board.

I’m sure Jill knows about the triangle, the elements of story and all that, but that’s not at all what a Jill Badonsky workshop is all about. She’s about inviting the muse to play (all nine of them, plus a body guard), she’s about tapping into imagination, and exploring your own innate sense of creativity.

It had been a long time since I’d experienced this with Jill, but last night I had the opportunity to not only have a fantastic meal at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house,  but to watch Jill work her magic.  At the Salon, 9 of the 12 participants, all women (except one brave husband),  showcased the sculptures they’d been working on all day–  an assignment that mandated they include a small sheer fabric bag and pipe cleaners in whatever they created.  And each creation was more amazing than the next!  From a dream catcher-like sculpture of wood tied to rock with pipe cleaners and ribbon to the actual embodiment (as in she made herself a piece of art) of a sculpture to a diorama to a talking stick, to a worry tree, to a I don’t know what to call it but it was fabulous sculpture….  To watch these women, from all walks of life, from all parts of the country, some in need of some healing, find a kind of power within themselves was truly amazing.

I was honored to be a part of this celebration, to read two short pieces and for a moment I felt like I was part of it. (so again, Thank You, Jill).

The evening ended with some original music by another Jill and her husband Doug, two very talented musician-singer-songwriters from Dallas who’s last name or band name I did not get, but I just used my mad google skillz to find– check her out here:

 

All this to say, whether I’m hanging out in the garden drinking coffee at Wired Cafe, wallowing in the artistic landscape, enjoying the physical landscape (from high desert to ponderosa pines and green meadows), or sharing good conversation, good food and art with friends, Taos is a special place. It sneaks up on you and gets under your skin.

 

Why I Won’t Change My Facebook Status for a Cause

One of my pet peeves about Facebook is the plethora of posts that go something like this:

If you care about [insert your favorite cause here] then change your Facebook status….

 

I care about a lot of things, for a lot of reasons:

  • Children:  They are our future….  plus they’re cute, and defenseless.

 

  • Breast Cancer:  My sister has it–Stage IV; I would love to see it cured. I would love to see her cured.

 

  • Cancer (in general):  My mom, my grandma, my aunt, my friend’s dad, my friend’s mom…  a lot of people get cancer, and I can say with certainty that Cancer Sucks.

 

  • Autism:  A good friend of mine has an autistic child.

 

  • Drug abuse/ Alcohol abuse:  I drive.

 

  • Unemployment:  I am unemployed, I’d like good jobs to be available.  I’d like others to have good jobs to fill up the coffers of the United States so we can continue to offer services to those less fortunate.

 

  • Immigration:  aren’t we all (well most of us anyway) immigrants? plus, I believe that our society is made richer for the many immigrants we have here already.

 

  • Violence against women (or anyone for that matter):  Like cancer, Violence Sucks.  I’ve been lucky.  I know people who have not been so lucky.

 

  • Women’s Reproductive Rights:  I am a woman.  I want to have a say in what happens to my body, and I want others to have that opportunity as well.

 

  • Equal opportunity for EVERYONE:  again, I’ve been lucky, and I would like the same opportunities that I have be available to everyone.

 

  • The War in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else for that matter.  War is wrong.

 

  • The Environment:  I like breathing clean air, I like having clean water. I like animals and pristine meadows and pine forests…. and I don’t trust the Corporate World to take care of these things for me.  They’ve proven their inability to do so time and time again.

 

  • Health Care for everyone:  see above note about Cancer.  When I finish school and have to go get a job, if I don’t find one with health insurance I’m looking at at LEAST $400 per month for a basic crummy plan that would at best keep me out of bankruptcy should something catastrophic happen…    So do the math on that:  a minimum wage job (in New Mexico it’s $7.50/hour) take home pay is $15,600 annually.  After paying for health insurance, that would leave $10,800 take home to cover rent, utilities, food, transportation, clean underwear…  While I am going to assume that I can bring home more than minimum wage, there are many many people who can’t.  And let’s face it, many of them are doing the jobs we don’t want.

 

I could list even more issues that I care about, but you get the point.

If I change  my Facebook status will you change your mind about anything?   Does anyone with any power read my Facebook status ?  (I will say ‘no’ because my privacy settings only allow Friends to read my status.)   To me, the call to “change your Facebook status” is nothing more than slacktivism at its finest.

This is not to be confused with CALLS TO ACTION, actions that may indeed invoke change:  donate money, sign an official petition, contact your representative, write a letter to the editor, participate in an event, or even get educated about an issue and then share that knowledge.

So I won’t be changing my Facebook status for a cause, and I won’t ask you do to the same, but don’t be surprised if you see me ask for your support on an issue, urge you to vote, or invite you to an event, or remind you to let your city council, your county board, as well as your state and federal representatives know how you feel about an issue.  And if you don’t agree with me on an issue, polite, civil discussion is always welcome, or you can say “no thank you.”

If you like to change your status to reflect your support on issues, by all means continue to do so.  But if you’d like tips on how to parlay your social network into action, check out this article, “How to Turn Slacktivists into Activists with Social Media.”

 

 

Patriotism

You may think I’m not the most patriotic American you’ll ever meet.  I don’t go around saying “God Bless America” or waving the flag.  I don’t fly the flag on holidays, and in fact, I gave away the flag that was my grandfather’s–a retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he flew his flag on every holiday, and even had a booklet on how to properly fly the flag.  I gave the flag and the booklet to a friend who likes to fly the flag on holidays.   I don’t think the U.S.A. is the best country ever, though it’s probably right up at the top of the list and for now I’m happy here.  My friend Michelle wrote a nice post on what she likes about the U.S. that I think is a pretty good summary, check it out.

 

Fourth of July 2006. On July 5, 2006 we buried my Dad (Capt. USN ret) at Arlington National Cemetery

If it weren’t for the fireworks ( I LOVE fireworks), I would probably say I hate the 4th of July, much in the same way I hate Christmas–the forced reverie, the compulsion to prove on this ONE day that you love your country (or your family on Christmas), and the pressure to spend money to do it:   presents, food, drink, decorations….

The thing I hate most about the 4th of July is the hypocrisy.  Waving a flag, setting off fireworks, wearing red white and blue, does not make you patriotic. And this year, in the state of New Mexico, lighting fireworks, in my opinion, is exactly the opposite of patriotic, it is idiotic.

Here in New Mexico we’re experiencing extreme drought conditions, and if you’ve watched the news at all in the last week, you’ll know that a massive wildfire has burned several homes, many acres of land sacred to the people of the Santa Clara Pueblo, forced the evacuation of many and threatened our Los Alamos National Labs (and by extension, the rest of the state given the amount of nuclear waste and god-knows-what stored there– but that’s another post altogether).

Now as I said I LOVE fireworks, I have many fond memories of lighting sparklers, and when we lived in states where it was legal (personal fireworks are NOT legal in all states) we’d light all kinds of rockets and roman candles. When we lived in Hawaii the firecracker was de rigeur.  In fact,  in Hawaii it was common to  light strands of a thousand or more firecrackers, and in the morning the streets  would be covered in red paper.  Good times. (except for that one time a still burning piece of paper landed on top of my foot where I still have the burn scar).

For some reason I don’t entirely understand the State on New Mexico cannot implement an outright ban on fireworks.  Instead, the governor, and every other official, has been pleading with people to NOT set off personal fireworks this weekend.  The brush is so dry that even a tiny spark could start the next fire, and our resources are already stretched to their limits.

Many local stores have pulled fireworks from their shelves because it is the right thing to do, the responsible thing to do.  Some have not, and there are still several roadside spots to purchase fireworks.

Watching the news the other day (remind me not to watch the news, it just makes me mad) they interviewed a seller of said fireworks who claimed that folks would just go somewhere else to buy fireworks, and that would be worse.  How I’m not sure.  They also interviewed a dad holding his oh so precious little two-year-old girl who said, “At first I thought it was a good idea to tell people to not light fireworks.  But then when I thought about it I got mad. I have a RIGHT to light fireworks, and I didn’t want to disappoint the kids.  Besides, we always do it responsibly….”

Really?  a RIGHT?  Like it’s there in the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness right to blow stuff up.

Or maybe it’s in The Constitution, or the Bill of Rights?  Yeah. I don’t think so…    I wanted to reach right through the television screen and slap that man.  I seriously doubt his kids would be that upset for very long, it’s not like they’d hold it against him forever…  end up in therapy because Daddy would not light fireworks on the 4th July back in 2011.

How ’bout teaching those kids about RESPONSIBILITIES instead of just about their (imagined) rights?  How ’bout attending the public “Freedom Fourth” event (it’s even free)  sponsored by the city of Albuquerque and already paid for with your tax dollars?  How ’bout reading those kids The Constitution and toss in the Bill of Rights while you’re at it?

If you want to show your kids how to be patriotic, get involved with your community, protect the environment so they’ll have clean water and clean air in their future.  And how ’bout voting…  the United States has an appalling average voter turnout rate of 48% (higher during national election years, lower during off years).  And how about ensuring education is available to ALL our youth so they’ll understand the ramifications of their votes, and can participate in the economy, and make cool things (not blow stuff up on the 4th of July).

So be  patriotic, be responsible, act in a manner befitting a patriot by loving your country and supporting its authority and interests.

Free DVDs

When my Dad died in 2006, my sister and I inherited a ton of DVDs.  Most of them were of movies neither I nor my sister were interested in ever watching (like all the Bruce Willis Die Hard movies) and the collection of Steven Seagal flicks…  as sensitive and progressive as my Dad was, this was proof that in the end, he was a guy–  a guy who served in the U.S. Navy for 30 years.

Most of those movies we donated to an organization that puts together care packages for troops serving overseas.  In fact, I had this great idea to put stickers on each DVD that said, “From the George Simpson DVD Memorial Collection” and directed folks to a website, http://www.CaptainSimpsonsDVDs.com.  I don’t think anyone ever went to that site–  either not seeing the sticker, or the sticker had fallen off…  oh well, the important part was that we got those movies to people who would appreciate them.

Dad had an interesting collection, though that included some less testosterone-laden movies.  Some I saved so I could watch (The Virgin Suicides)  , or save (Logan’s Run, Manchurian Candidate -the original)….  and some, that I have never watched, and now 5+ years later realize I never will.

SO. if you would like to claim any of these titles, let me know:

The Good Thief

Stayin’ Alive

The Edge

The Man in the Moon

The Virgin Suicides

Silkwood

A Walk to Remember

Phenomenon

and…  The Complete First Season of the original Superman TV Show and Superman and the Mole Men (full-length feature)  bundled together in one nifty box set.

 

Mean People Suck.

<ON MY SOAPBOX>

When did we forget The Golden Rule? (to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, in case you are one who has forgotten).  It’s a code of moral behavior that predates Christ (and Christianity for that matter).  Through my extensive research (glancing at the above linked Wikipedia article) I’ve found evidence of some form of The Golden Rule in nearly every religion on every continent.

And my own mother used to say “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,”  a quote that I can’t seem to attribute to any one in particular after an exhaustive search, also known as a google query.

I understand that when a person puts their work out into the public arena they expect (hope, pray) that the public will respond.  Critique and review can be a good thing.  I regularly read the L.A. Times Books section, or the NY Times Book section.  But the reviewers are never mean.  They don’t call the writers names or throw sticks at them, but rather the judge the work.

When you blog, when you put your words out there on the internets, you open yourself up to criticism as well. I know the internet is public.   But for most bloggers I know their audience is at best an extended circle of friends and family.  These are not the people that will call you a nasty name or tell you to quit whining (if they are, it’s time for new friends).

And if you post your blog in a more public arena, clearly you are inviting more response….

All this makes me wonder about the people that opt to say mean things, or worse take a disagreement, a difference of opinion, of taste, to a personal level, calling someone a whiner, or worse (trust me, I’ve been called worse both in person and online).  How is name calling contributing at all? Is it so hard to just move on?

As far as I’m concerned, if you think you can do better, then go ahead and do it. Do better.  We could use more awesomeness in this world. Write your own article, set up your own blog, participate on Salon or HuffPo, or whatever.   Publish a novel, produce a t.v. show…

Wouldn’t there be much more satisfaction in experiencing your own success than in bringing others  down?

</OFF MY SOAPBOX>

How Does Writing and Re-writing Change Memory?

Bisquick Easy Deep Dish Pizza

It’s weird, how memories come back slowly, at least that’s how it works for me.  I’ve been working on this essay / chapter and I wrote that I didn’t recall ever eating pizza with my Mom, that I couldn’t recall what her favorite pizza was, and that it made me sad.  I wrote  “Maybe we just weren’t pizza eating people.”

I swear a week ago that felt completely true.  But as I am re-writing (in the manner suggested by the illustrious Gregory Martin, aka my advisor) an image came to me of Lefty’s Pizza Parlor in San Diego. It was near Miss Vernetta’s Dance Studio and the old Jack in the Box on Morena Drive.  I would almost swear I remember playing foosball there.

I still can’t remember actually eating pizza there, but I felt one step closer.

Then I remembered Shakey’s Pizza.  It seems like it was a place we would go after a dance recital or event.  Still, no memory of eating pizza.

I opted to not add these not-quite-formed memories of not eating pizza into the essay.

Now, as I’m typing this, I remember a pizza we made, together–my mother, my sister and I–with a crust made of Bisquick.  It was more of a pizza pie filled with ground beef and green bell peppers.  If I close my eyes I can almost taste it– the tangy tomato sauce base, the salty beef and sweet bell peppers….

And so I did what I always do when I’m curious about something, I google. (Actually, I used to go to the Encyclopedia, but The Internet is so much better.)

I found the recipe, “Easy Deep Dish Pizza.”

If it ever gets cool enough to turn on my oven again, I may just make this pizza.  Cooking is one of the ways I can bring back memories of my mother.

I won’t however, add this detail to my essay; it just doesn’t fit.