Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lucky Seven Challenge

I'm still writing, although not here. I free-write each day (today was 70 days in a row), and I've finally gotten into a rhythm on the novel I announced two years ago (egad) that I was writing. Some discipline finally has crept into my work; I write a minimum of 1000 words a day, five days a week. Suddenly the novel has really taken off (surprise), though it needs much revision, and also more research. I passed the halfway point in my rough draft earlier this week!

What brings me here today is a challenge by my writing pal, Talya Boerner, whom I met at a writers' retreat in Arkansas last fall. She blogs at grace grits and gardening. This is her challenge:

Go to page 7 or 77 of your latest work. Read down to the seventh line and then post online the next seven lines or sentences. Then head off and tag seven more writers.

I am not going to tag anyone. Since I seldom blog, I don't think that's fair! But if you wish to play, I'd love to see what you are writing!

Here's mine, from page 77 of the rough draft:

"If you desire, I should be quite pleased to write you a reference.”

The young man beamed. “Thank you, Professor. What you just said means a great deal to me!” He hopped to his feet but paused at the door. “Feel better, sir.”

"Thank you. I'll simply need to get up on the other side of the bed tomorrow." Stafford smiled. Martin grinned and left, his footsteps tumbling down the stairs.

Notes in hand, Stafford strolled to Christ Church the following Monday to speak to the garden club as he had promised Miss Jameson. He hoped his relaxed gait belied the knots in his stomach.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Catching Up...

    We are back in Rapid City after several months in Saint Louis.
     I have so enjoyed the time in the Lou. We left Rapid in late March, furnished our cute little Art Deco apartment, and set to work getting to know the area. I loved that I could walk right out of my door and go to a bakery, a library, an Episcopal church, or even to Target. If I wanted to write, I threw stuff in a bag and strolled to a coffee shop or to the library, or even went to the back of our apartment and closed the door. Sound doesn’t carry as well there as it does in our huge Rapid City house; I cannot escape the noise of the television in Rapid City but I can in the little Art Deco apartment. Odd.
    The grandchildren have been such an incredible joy. I took one each week for lunch and a special afternoon. We shopped, played games, explored book stores. I loved watching them eat sushi! My son and his family took me to the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden. That was a magnificent evening.
    A problem with this particular stretch of time spent in STL was the insane heat wave/drought that punished the region. Taciturn does not handle heat or humidity well; he surrendered in June and went back to Rapid City for the duration of the summer. I came back in July for the Antiques Roadshow and stayed three weeks, then flew back to the Lou for a month. During the time alone I wrote, studied, exercised, made a wonderful new pal, grew deeper into the church community. I even polished up a piece related to my novel and read it at an open mic night!
   The return to Rapid City I dreaded, even as I wanted to see my husband. Two and a half weeks I’ve been back, but already I’m aching to return to STL. There I feel at home; indeed, that is where my late mother grew up and I feel closer to her, seeing the places she frequented when she was young. And it is just easier to write. We will return in November for the holidays.
   Alas, time passes and people leave us. A dear friend from my Rapid City church died of inflammatory breast cancer in mid March. She lived not even a year and a half after her diagnosis; there was no delay in treatment, and the doctors did all they could. It was just a horrible, aggressive cancer. I miss her so much. A voice mail she left me not even three weeks before her death remains on my phone. And a former lover from my grad school days who once meant a great deal to me died while riding his bicycle in late July. He was not a person who was a candidate for a life partner. A self-professed hedonist, he called himself “a fun junkie;” part of the reason we separated was my increasing attraction to the liturgical life, which he did not care to understand and even ridiculed. But most of our time together was good, and he was kind to my son. I mourn his passing.
    Going to Centering Prayer tonight at my Rapid City church. My dear friend who died once was the facilitator; must get used to another person. We all are expendable. But that is fine; it is the River of Life.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

SDPB Booth - Antiques Roadshow 122

Taciturn and I took a break from St Louis to visit the Rapid City taping of the Antiques Roadshow. I'm holding a volume of the complete works of James Whitcomb Riley, copyright 1916, and a dinner ring inherited from my grandfather. T has an early 60's game he bought on eBay. Nothing worth a great deal, but lots of fun!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Full Circle

In November we moved back to South Dakota from Vermont after several months of preparation. Speechless from rage at first, both literally and in my writing (or lack thereof), I'm rediscovering my voice, reaching again for the pen. As my anger subsides, I find myself tired, fragile. After all, this is the third cross country move we've undertaken since summer 2007. Toss in the loss of both of my parents just 4 months before the second move and one finds a recipe for total breakdown. But, I have adapted before and will again. I just hope the constant chaos that comes from not having a steady place to plant will end.

That said, there is one more move in the immediate future. We rented an apartment in St Louis where we can live part time. South Dakota never will be my home. Missouri is the place I refer to as "home" when I say, "I'm going home for a visit." And St Louis is the place where Taciturn and I met and married in the late 90's. We both like it, and thought eventually we would end up there. He says he must have a place in the Black Hills where he can just be, a place to return to gather strength. Unfortunately the place from which he draws strength has the opposite effect on me. So the compromise is the St Louis place, to which we'll go starting in March. A lovely side benefit of going back home is proximity to the Episcograndchildren who now live in St Louis as well. Living in my home state, with my son and family just 25 minutes away instead of a 17 hour drive--well, that is just a bit of heaven on earth for this midwestern gal.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Please pray for my friend

I'm surfacing from a wild and crazy life to link to Kirsten's blog. She has melanoma that has spread throughout her body, and she is too ill to be left alone any longer. Andee, her friend and roommate must work, so they need help. Please read the bloglink and if you can help, please do. Above all, please pray for them.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Prayer

Dear God, the troubles of our world have left many of us speechless. We don’t know how, in the numbness around jobs lost, illnesses we don’t have the resources to cure, a planet imperiled by the accumulated effects of our greed, and the seemingly endless presence of war and violence, to say our prayers. We are lighting candles, though – in our Advent wreaths, quietly, in side chapels of our churches, in our rooms where no one else but You can see. The candle flame is our prayer, wordless but filled with meaning, with petition, hope, and faith. And the candle flame is your answer to our prayer. You lighten our darkness, O Lord. Amen.

-- Marc Andrus, Bishop of California

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Taciturn, Am I Going to...

In my last post, I mentioned the emotionally wrenching exercise in which my hospice class engaged during the last meeting. The premise seemed straight forward enough. We stood in a collective circle. Then we each asked the person next to us a devastatingly simple question. "Joe, am I going to die?" Then Joe (or whatever that person's name was) was to answer, "Yes, Lauralew, you are going to die." Then you answered the question for the next person. The rules were we were to use names, and speak in complete sentences.

All righty then.

When my parents died so close together less than a year and a half ago, my notions of mortality were brought very close to home. Never have I felt like I have been afraid of death, although I admit I'm in no hurry to experience it. The work I engaged in most of my adult life has been spent in its presence, and I feel familiar with it. But the idea of death was an intellectual one --something experienced by others--until my parents died. Suddenly I realized at the deepest levels of my being that I could die, not only me but also my husband, my son and my grandchildren. This new revelation is close to the surface practically all of the time.

This seemingly simple exercise was not at all simple. The young woman next to me was already awash in tears when she asked me the question. I could answer it for her, but slowly and in a whisper. I could not state in my professional voice tuned by thirty years of intensive care, oncology and hospice experience, "Yes, Jane, you are going to die." I always had thought I came across as empathetic, but now I wondered.

Then it was my turn. Of course, since I took the class with Taciturn, he, my husband, was the one of whom I had to ask this question.

I couldn't do it. Not right away, at least. Instead I stood with twenty-three other people all watching me and cried my eyes out. I felt the need to explain, "This is my hus--" I couldn't even get out the word husband. Of course, everyone knew T was my spouse anyway!

Finally I croaked, "Taciturn, am I going to die?"

"Yes, Lauralew, you are going to die." His answer was brisk and professional, like the physician he is. Then he quickly turned to the next person and asked almost nonchalantly, "M, am I going to die?" And so on.

We did not speak of the exercise afterward. I never presume to speak for him, but for me this was valuable. To have the experience of having someone say to me what is true for all of us and internalize it was so moving. Plus it begged the question: Am I as unafraid as I always say I am? Also, to put myself in the place of my patients in that manner is not something I've ever done before. This was a starkly jolting experience, very useful and powerful for me.

On Tuesday I meet my first patient as a hospice volunteer. I'm driving up with the volunteer coordinator for introductions then hang out with the patient for the afternoon. I'm looking forward to it.