the neighbor’s air conditioner
a passing truck
the car alarm in the mini-mart parking lot on the corner
the street light out front
conversation of two passers-by
a police siren
I’m sitting in my office this evening thinking about the ways in which our surroundings influence us. Today is Independence Day in the U.S., and I hear the pops, cracks, and booms of fireworks (legal/illegal) outside my window. It’s been a warm day for Seattle – 70s-80s – and deeply cloudy this evening, a strange sort of gloominess in the sky. Yet the circle of light from my desk lamp casts a friendly light on my writing and this little evening moment with words connects me with writers all over the world, with writers of the past and those who will write in the future. Words are our connections, aren’t they? Language and thought and the poetry of conversation.
Photo by Theresa Barker.
Where do you like to write? Whether in a nearby coffee shop, at the kitchen table, or (if you’re lucky enough) in a…
Have you thought about the development of voice in your writing? Have you seen, or fallen in love with, other writers’ voices? In this month’s writing newsletter we explore voice and its effect on writing and the reader. Take a look!
When I stroll down my block, or look around my yard this time of year, there seem to be flowers on the shrubs everywhere. As I think about the progression of the seasons I often wonder why I don’t remember how bright and festive the lavender blooms on my rhododendron are, or how lively and engaging the tiny white flowers on my thyme bushes can be. But even so, the surprise of discovering flowers bursting forth this time of the year can be delightful; perhaps more so because each year the flowers seem altogether unexpected and new.
I am sitting at my desk this Sunday morning, looking out at the overcast sky that promises sun later on. The 100-foot Douglas Fir tree outside my window is popping forth with small orange mini-cones – pollen pods? – on the tips of its green-needle branches, like little kernels of orange popcorn dusted across its boughs. A squirrel prances along a long branch inside the sheltered-needle casing of the tree, two – no three! – stories above the ground.
Squirrels are so amazingly unafraid to scamper along waving boughs of maple trees in my neighborhood, or atop the thin wire of an electrical connection to the power pole outside. They seem to think nothing of it. It makes me think: what am I afraid of, and how might I overcome my fears? Years and years of evolution have probably given the squirrels in my yard their…
This week I wanted to write more about Jaime, our Tattoo Girl. This is becoming a long-ish tale, and readers have been so encouraging about hearing more on the story – thank you!
This post is standalone, but if you’d like to read earlier installments, please see links at the end of this post.
The day Jaime got her cat tattoo she was mad at André. That’s what she told her friends afterward, but it wasn’t the truth. The day Jaime got her cat tattoo she was sad, empty and lonely, even though she was already married to André the lawyer and they had moved to Houston for his job. And she was painting her art in their apartment’s second bedroom, but the painting wasn’t going well. Something, something, something else was needed. She thought, maybe it was a tattoo. She knew friends who had gotten that first little butterfly on the nape of the neck, or a small rose at the ankle, or a heart at the wrist. New friends she’d met in Houston at the art collective. But even though she made friends she still felt lonely, André working long hours (It’s a new job, I have to show I’m committed), and she’d only married him (she realized later) for security. Her father had been a lawyer. It was classic transference, at least that’s what the psychology wags would say. She wouldn’t say that. She’d never say that.
She’d say, it was a mistake. We all make mistakes.
Security. The day she got her tattoo she was ready. But it took some months, more than a year after the tattoo, to finally make the split from André. Why? Well, you think, it’s not so bad. It could be worse. But what you don’t know is that little part of you that is dying from inside. The part of you that wants affection, that hopes to be close to another person, that wants to feel like you’ve been chosen as a partner, not just married by default because no one else was in sight.
Okay, she’ll admit to herself, it took finding out that André was involved with someone else to make her finally leave. But she was ready. When she saw those emails to “Cheryl,” a paralegal at his office (paralegal? not even another lawyer? what was that about?), discussing their meet-up arrangements at a local hotel, she was ready. Back to Seattle, back to art. Back to being who she wanted to be, not the person André thought she was.
The cat tattoo came with her. And Mr. Mittens came along not too long after.
Fate brings strange and wonderful things.
What do you think? Have you made mistakes that you didn’t see until you were beyond them? How did you recover from those mis-steps?