Kenyon Writers Workshop right now, indulging in a week focused on writing and fulfilling my obligations as a fellow. Among those obligations was giving a reading along with the other eight fellows Sunday night. I knew exactly which piece I was going to read, an excerpt from my memoir manuscript that was recently accepted by the Wall Street Journal for their Mansion section. With 800 words it took up less than the eight minutes each one of us was allotted. I am always nervous about reading my work in front of an auditorium full of people. No matter how much I practice reading the piece, when I step up to the podium, my heart is racing, my fingers shake, and my voice sounds unsteady to me, even if it doesn't to the audience.
Still, I made it through, and many people complimented me on the piece afterwards, and even approached me the next day to say something they appreciated about it. After all that nervous exertion, those accolades made me feel uplifted.
But before the reading, as I was walking the main "drag" of the Kenyon College Campus to my apartment accommodations, I passed by this poster, copies of which were affixed to the columns of the bookstore porch, and I spotted my name. I thought to myself, "Yes, aha, that's me. My name is on a poster. I'm reading tonight." In a way it was as if I were looking in a mirror: Yes, I am a writer, and I am here as a fellow, and I am reading. And that was oddly reassuring even before I had delivered.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Today is video day at the Blogathon, and with that in mind I shot my first video using my Smartphone (a simple step but also a big one...) last week, when I had a chance, once again, to walk Loyola Beach on the North side of Chicago. That beach is one of those places that makes me supremely happy every time I spend time there; I've featured it in many photo essays here, in winter, in fall and in summer. We are lucky if we have such a place, aren't we? A place that makes us happy?
As I sat in the cool sand (it was a beautiful day last Monday but not exactly a warm one), I thought, how about capturing the surf, the whipping of the wind, and the wide open horizon, just exactly as I heard it and experienced it in a little video? So here you go. If it sounds gusty and noisy, and you hear more wind than waves, well, that's the way it was that day.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
For Father's Day I want to share two of my most treasured possessions: a giraffe and a donkey that my dad made out of wire - a simple present for his parents when he was a student and had very little money. As an engineering student he did have plenty of malleable wire though, and I love how he fashioned these two sprightly animals by bending two different colored wires into shape. The donkey and the giraffe are more than 50 years old now and not any worse for the wear. Once in a while they need a little straightening to stay upright, but they faithfully graced the shelf in my grandmother's living room, and now they grace mine.