Two weeks ago I did a writing exercise that involved dreams, an exercise designed to draw on the subconscious in order to create emotionally resonant material. I drew a blank. I can recall childhood fears, but not childhood dreams. There is the one where I’m being chased and my legs are lead and I struggle to run. There are dreams where dead relatives appear and we’re reunited, and I don’t want to wake. But there isn’t much I can access beyond those. This morning, I couldn’t breathe. We were at the beach and I was encumbered, toddler strapped across my body in the sling, beach bags and umbrellas slung over my shoulders and arms. And I couldn’t get any air. My thought was, I just have to situate everything, then I can breathe. I had to set up the beach chair first, except the beach chair became the massive lime green upholstered rocker from her nursery, the one I’d labored and nursed and rocked in for countless hours. If I could just situate the rocker in the sand and set my daughter down, I could take a breath. I was gasping when I woke, coughing and gulping air. Deep sleep must’ve suppressed my cough. My throat was sore and swollen and my ears ached. It seems the virus that’s been making its way around the house has finally caught me. I filled my lungs with long, slow, deep breaths. And I thought about the massive rocker, my determination–and my inability–to settle it safely in the sand, to get it just right.
(Post 256 of 365)
Every time I come to this space, I am forced to think: truth. What is the truth today? What am I willing to tell? And how do I capture it? Dickinson is always right here whispering, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”
A dream is taking shape. And I’m going to follow it.
(Post 112 of 365)
I still want to get my MFA.
I was thirty one and studying for the GRE when I met my husband. I’d been looking at the MFA program at Brooklyn. I had a boring office job (albeit great co-workers) at a home accessories company on 34th Street and I was living in an apartment in SoHo I couldn’t afford.
The year before, I’d been accepted into a writing workshop at the 92nd St Y with Josh Henkin, an excellent teacher and incredibly kind human. Almost everyone else in the class was a professional writer (editor at Scholastic, writer for the Daily News, writer for the Financial Times). The class jelled, and when the workshop was over, we agreed to continue meeting on a monthly basis. Somehow I became the organizer and host, and every month Write Club met at my studio apartment. Tall french windows, original tin ceiling, exposed brick wall, a hot water pipe that spit and hissed during the winter. I had a futon for a couch that seated three; everyone else spread out on my bed and the floor, and we’d workshop two stories a month.
My (not yet) husband was from western Massachusetts. He called that lovely little studio, those precious 400 square feet in a coveted neighborhood that I’d luckily inherited at an almost rent-stabilized rate, “jail”. He interviewed for a few jobs in New York, but ultimately landed one in the Berkshires. I was hemorrhaging money in the city. The Berkshires seemed like a bucolic dreamscape. Not to mention cheap. I was wearing the rose-colored glasses of new love, a really thick pair with no peripheral vision.
And, just like that, I let go with both hands.
Now. Here I am. Thirty nine. Husband. Baby. Mortgage. Dreams…