I’m back!

Essays, Newsletters

I’m thrilled to be back to writing a newsletter and talking directly to you, my friends. I missed you!

I’m like a baby giraffe, wobbling around on my writing sea legs right now. I am the kind of person that makes lists. I set intentions. I choose goals, meet them, and often exceed them. I don’t know how to move through life without something to achieve. 

I know. It’s obnoxious.

On Jan. 2, when I had hand surgery that went awry with complications, it threw off my whole world. Obviously hand surgery is not as serious as about eleventy billion other surgeries, but without my dominant hand it was difficult to function. Additionally, I had to go to the ER by ambulance two days after my surgery when an iron pill lodged in my throat and I couldn’t breathe. (What a stupid reason to go to the hospital, I thought.)

Oh No Omg GIF by CBC - Find & Share on GIPHY

Before that, I had a vision: I would launch my new website in January and reboot my newsletter and write more, and, and, and. 

You know how it goes. You’ve been there too I’m sure. Haven’t you?

I was to accomplish none of that. The Universe saw me making progress and plans and said, “Who do you think you are? Taylor Swift? Sit the hell down and be quiet.”

Then, the pain. The excruciating post-surgical pain took over my entire body and my life. I took massive antibiotics the size of a baby’s foot four times a day. That, combined with intensive wound care, brought me back to life slowly.

So here I am. In April, finally waking up to the new year. Is it 2024 y’all? I didn’t realize. 

It’s like a hangover from a three-month binge except that I remember everything and have no good stories to tell from the experience.

On the other side of the pandemic I’m a bit more introverted than I was, so one of my goals this year is to be more social. To that end, I attended a workshop for subscribers of Katie Hawkins-Gaar’s newsletter, My Sweet Dumb Brain. It’s my favorite newsletter and I was eager to connect with other readers and writers. When Katie’s invitation hit my In Box I clicked “attend” immediately, and was excited. 

As the day drew near I was tired. And exhausted. And had a lot going on. (You know? You know.) I didn’t want to put on a bra (why do we torture ourselves?) or “real” clothes, even from the waist up for Zoom. Guided by my new year’s goals, I did it anyway and I am so glad I did. What I found was an uplifting group of women who also felt that the new year, in March, had just begun. The saying goes, “misery loves company” and this was true for me. But beyond commiserating, I was inspired by hearing projects that these women were doing, or trying, and it gave me hope.

“Never take away someone’s hope,” I tell people. It may be all they have.

I wonder where the first part of the year has gone (How is it April? How?) but am determined to make up for it. 

Goals, remember?

“I am passing through the needle of spring,” wrote poet Billy Collins, and I find myself there too, in the land of rebirth, new life and assessing my plans.

I heard once that, as adults, if we have trouble finding our way, we should revisit things that we enjoyed as a child. As a child I loved to color and, while that might seem quaint, I can’t really sit at my college-professor desk and color if I want to be taken seriously. (I do, however, invite you to enjoy the photos below of a book I once made, when I was about 8, about girls who attended various high schools. All cheerleaders and majorettes. I was raised in the South, what can I say? Also, why did I give them plus sign eyes?! Creepy.)

I’ve been thinking about writing and why I like it, or even if I actually enjoy it. Or have I just been doing it so long I think that I like it? I once overheard my mother tell one of her friends that she was amazed I’d been able to make a living writing. Me too.

In the junk drawer of my mind I sift through memories and there it is in black-and-white, underdeveloped film: I did love to write as a child. I have proof.

In sixth grade I wrote my first award-winning piece of writing. It was a poem that won a citywide contest in Birmingham, Alabama. I was quietly thrilled. Even then I knew about the Southern tradition of storytelling. I was proud, but secretly so. Girls in the early ‘80s in the Deep South couldn’t be openly proud without judgment.

I remember glimpses of the scene as I read the poem I wrote: I stood in front of the class. My shiny braces surely blinded classmates as the light bounced off them. The knees of my jeans were worn and frayed from climbing trees and playing soccer in an early bid to keep up with the boys.

I don’t remember exactly what the poem was about (and honestly I do not want to unearth it from the basement). But I do remember it was sad and funny, like me. I remember my classmates and their faces, how their mouths gaped. How they applauded when I finished reading. I was genuinely surprised by their reaction. Painfully shy at the time I thought maybe, just maybe, this gave me some credibility. That I wasn’t a geek. That maybe when people called me “weird” it wasn’t such a bad thing. I suppressed a smile as I returned to my assigned seat.

Yes, I like to write.

To be a writer you have to write, I tell my students, but because of my surgery I’ve not been able to – or felt like – doing that for quite some time outside of academia and work-related freelance pieces, mostly book reviews. Even with voice-to-text technology it was difficult. Most robots hate Southern accents and going back to fix the mistakes took so long I didn’t want to write anything I didn’t have to. I got a crash course in accessibility and a tiny fraction of what much of the disability community has to deal with.

Impostor syndrome set in. I was a writer who couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) write.

So I read constantly as I recovered. I’m a total memoir and essay whore. I will read any memoir I can get my hands on. Other people are fascinating.

One book I read was “Baggage” by Alan Cumming (proud, Scottish last name!). He talked about the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay, the last day of the old year that carries into a New Year’s celebration. It includes the tradition of opening the front door to let the new year in, and the back door to let the new year out. 

It’s finally spring, so I can now open the doors, literally and metaphorically. For me this means writing regularly again. 

It’s good to be back. Thank you for reading.

✍️ What I’m writing:

I wrote a post on Medium about how the iconic easter candy Peeps are made in Christmas City

I just reviewed “Magnolia Parks: Into the Dark”, the latest in the Magnolia Parks/Daisy Haites universe.

I also reviewed the latest book by one of my favorite authors, Michael Arceneaux, “Finally Bought Some Jordans.”

📚 What I’m reading:

Two books by R. Eric Thomas: “Congratulations, the Best Is Over” and “Here for It!”

👉🏻 Quick hit:

These articles about the + symbol, from The Atlantic and Time magazine, made me think about the plus sign more than I have since I took algebra in college.

☕️ Please support my caffeine habit ☕️

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