Archive for November 26th, 2007

The Wedding Gift 1991, Desert Rose Franciscan place setting and teapot, blue linocut print © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

There’s a tree outside the window near where I sit. I don’t know what kind of tree it is; it’s almost winter and the branches are bare. But I notice it has what look like buds on the thinnest limbs — although, how could that be? Maybe these are bud placeholders, dormant points where new life will come in spring.

I worry as a writer whether my mind can capture and hold the names of trees. Here, I’ll list the ones I know: Cottonwood, Catalpa, Oak, Maple, Plum, Red Bud, Blue Spruce, Apricot, Apple, Peach, Cherry, Russian Olive, Ponderosa Pine, Juniper, Globe Willow.

Growing up we had a Sycamore tree that grew in a round-topped formation. The seeds of the Sycamore hung like itch-bomb ornaments, which we plucked and threw at each other or exploded on the sidewalk for fun.

When you go to a restaurant, do you notice the color of the plate on which your meal is served? Is it red, and if it is red, is it brick red or candy apple red? I sometimes check my fork to make sure there’s no dried food in between the prongs, but I usually miss whether the handle has a beaded edge or a plain one.

I can tell you that right now I’m drinking coffee and steamed milk out of a Starbucks to-go cup, the medium size (although I don’t remember, is that tall or grande?, because grande makes more sense to me, yet it seems Starbucks considers it a tall).

The point I’m trying to make is, you’ve got to have detail when you write. You’ve got to be awake to what is around you.

Do this. Sit down, take out your pen and notebook, and do a ten-minute writing practice on “What’s in front of me.” If you need something more, empty out your pockets and write about what you see.

And if you’re ever at a loss for a writing topic, use “What’s in front of me.” It will remind you to be present to your surroundings. The more you wake up, the more detail you can call on when you write.


Pieces Of Becoming A Missus 1991, black linocut print © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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I feel loved when I feel appreciated. When people show up for me. Is that an act of service, showing up? I feel loved when I feel connected to something bigger than me. Like watching the Swenson-Lee family of 10 from Minnesota on Extreme Makeover – Home Edition. Their father died in an auto accident 5 years ago, their mother and her boyfriend shot and killed a year ago by a deranged ex-boyfriend who stalked the mother, first stabbing her in an attack, and finally killing her, the oldest daughter witnessing both her mother and father die.

I could not believe the courage of this young girl. It’s strange but I felt an all-loving god when I watched that show last night. Like a giant angel was hovering over the entire family and the sister that took her nieces and nephews in, treating them like her own. I cry every time I watch that show. I feel loved when I see people helping other people.

I feel loved when I walk through the woods. The smell of earth, a drip of rain, moss on a rolling stone. Yesterday, driving the Rebel along the parkway, as soon as I turned on to Theo Wirth, all I smelled was forest. The Eloise Butler Wildlife area is 100 years old this year. A vision of preservation and beauty. Thank goodness Minneapolis was raised on an elaborate system of parks, lakes, and Mississippi River trails, green city space.

I feel loved snuggling close, eating popcorn, watching a movie under a warm blanket. I feel loved when a person shows gratitude for my gifts, for the things I am able to give. I felt loved when I visited my family a few weeks ago. For all of our differences, there was so much love in that room the night I popped out of the birthday box for Mom. I feel loved when my friends give me a hug and say they are glad to see me. Or they have missed me.

I do like touch. Not in the same way I used to. I no longer equate sex with love. Sex can be a part of love. Sex is not love. I am talking about more loving touch: a kind gesture, an acknowledgement with the eyes, a touch on the cheek. I feel loved when Mom calls me Honey, or Liz calls me Shug, or when I listen to an old voicemail from my step-dad that begins, “Hey, Shug, I just wanted to talk to you before you leave…”, the Southern accent warm and comforting to me.

I feel loved when I listen to my saved voicemails, a chosen few, one from each person who is important to me. I save them because, once in a while, hearing the voices of those who love and care about me is enough. It lifts my spirits. I don’t have to be next to them. I know they are always with me.

Love is more of a feeling for me. I don’t really care about material possessions. I value time with loved ones. I feel loved when my opinion is considered. I feel hurt when I become invisible. As a girl, I tried to be invisible. To wrap up in the tiniest ball I could muster and disappear. In the loneliest of times, I thought I had succeeded. I feel loved when people really see me, deep down, for who I am, not who they imagine me to be. I am vulnerable, insecure, sometimes fearful and needy.

There is strength in vulnerability. This is the wisdom that comes from living. To be vulnerable is to be strong. Don’t believe them when they tell you it makes you weak.

Kindness and love, no, they don’t make you weak. It takes more courage to stand up and admit a mistake, to make amends, to tell someone you disagree with that you’re sorry and you love them, than it ever does to cut ties and disappear. I’ve run a fair time or two. It leaves a vapor trail. I try to show up, to do what I say I will do. I don’t always succeed. And if I can’t show up, I have to make amends.

I feel loved when I connect with the people that are important to me. I feel loved when Liz washes and folds the laundry, or Mom or my brother makes a home cooked meal for me. I guess those truly are acts of service. People do these things out of love and care. When I lived alone all those years, I felt loved when a friend would call to check on me. I used to think I could disappear into the woodwork of that old Northeast apartment and no one would find out for weeks.

I thought I might die old and alone. But in the end, I decided to take the risk of living, connecting, being hurt, opening up for others to see. I am flawed. And vulnerable. I don’t want to hide my weaknesses anymore. I feel most loved when I allow myself to fail.


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, November 26th, 2007

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