Remembering September 11

It was a Tuesday.

The sky was a searing blue.

Here the news came early, the first crash, the second crash.

I remember driving my kids to school on such a perfect September day.

I remember the anguish and the fear running deep through my body, the sudden vulnerability coming on like a swift disease, lingering in the days after.

I remember that first week, the sky over the soccer fields quiet, empty except for the sun.

It felt like we were all holding our breath, it felt like the days were too bright.

I stop to think of that day eleven years ago, the lives lost and the lives shattered by loss and by all the losses since in the two wars–and that isn’t even all the lives.

I won’t go to any rallies today or hear any speeches. I’ll be far from the shadows of those twin towers.

But I stop.

How do you remember?

Not what you’d expect: Pocket poetry reading this Sunday

Cody Walker and I will be reading Sunday, August 26, at 4:00 as part of the Pocket Concert series from Unexpected Arts and Jack Straw. It’s part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations for both the Seattle Center and Jack Straw. And it will be fun! (If you’ve heard Cody–former Seattle Poet Populist–read before, you know it will be fun.)

Join us for a half hour at the Seattle Center’s Poetry Garden (the fancy name for a pocket at the Southeast corner of the fountain). But in case of the unexpected, look for our signs.

Scandal, and a way to help

I feel like I’m watching a train wreck… in slow motion.

I was so excited when I heard about Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine. This was what I’d asked for: the brain science behind creativity!

Earlier, I’d read Brain Rules, which was about learning. I asked them about creativity, and they said that it’s pretty much the same. I didn’t believe them. I finally had my aha moment when I realized that both learning and creativity are memory based. In learning, you’re pulling information out of memory. In creating, you’re brain’s juxtaposing different memories (information, experiences) in a new way. But that was just my theory. Now there was a book!

Eureka!

I bought a copy at one of my favorite indy bookstores. I recommended the book to everyone–including my boss’s boss’s boss and my whole team at work.

But then, accusations of misrepresenting, misquoting, the publisher pulling copies from booksellers, a departure from the staff at The New Yorker.

Scandal.

I’m disappointed, and I’m wondering how much–if any–of the science is actually true and represented accurately.

It reminded a teammate of Three Cups of Tea, which is still on sale after allegations of lies and fraud. More scandal. Even diverting donations from building schools to funding book tours.

Really?

No book proceeds were used for my East Coast Book Tour (although I’m thankful for all the people who put me up and glad I could purchase my plane ticket with airline miles).

When you buy a copy of Into the Rumored Spring, all the author proceeds go to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

It’s one way to help.

At last, at least, the weather’s great

Canterbury bells in the sunlight
Canterbury bells catching sunlight on the dark side of the yard

As in fantastic. And it’s a counterpoint to my mood.

Which has been dark most of the day.

Warning: Whine alert. Feel free to skip to the bottom for the good stuff.

I’m in one of those at-sea places where I don’t know what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to be doing and suspect I’m doing all of it wrong.

Ever feel like that?

I thought my mid-life crisis started when I was 39. Hah! That was all warm-up. Now we’re into the thick of it.

And then I have to admit that my worries and insecurities and anxieties are what my daughter’s friend would call “rich white girl problems.”

After all,  I have three wonderful kids and we’re all still speaking to each other. I have a loving husband. I have a job that, even if it puts me through the wringer sometimes, pays me. (Paid for wringing reminds me of my days working at the laundromat.) I have a house that surely needs some attention, but it’s a house and I have loved living in it. I have money for groceries. Check, check, check, check, and check.

So why the whining?

I hate feeling like a failure. I hate feeling like I’m failing myself and my family. I hate feeling on the outside, and I hate feeling too normal to be good at anything and not normal enough to fit in.

That’s a lot of vehemence for such a beautiful day. A warm day!

An Independence day spent independently–alone with time to pull great loads of weeds and try to write a poem. And write this (classically self-absorbed and whining) blog post.

And the alone time has reminded me how much I value friends and readers in real life and even on Facebook. I’m kind of a hermit, and it isn’t always so good for me. But I remember you’re out there–and I appreciate you. Thank you.

How do you shake dark days?

In memory, Adrienne Rich, 1929-2012

Adrienne Rich gave us a compass. She held up a lantern. Her passing leaves a huge gap for me.

In the early 1980s, I picked an anthology called Rising Tides and found poems by Adrienne Rich. An introduction, and it took me out of the poems I’d been writing, into a new way to write and to consider–writing and living. A new way to think about this journey and the courage to take each step. I’ve faltered plenty, and I’ve been grateful for that compass, that lantern.

She leaves us her poems.

Peace, maybe now.