Sarah's Blog

After an Absence

morning walk 4

Creek on the road

It’s over a year since I have put anything on this blog.  Right now, I am supposed to be grading essays.  I just took a minute to check my e-mail, saw that my WordPress money is due, decided not to waste the fee for yet another year, and here we are.  The picture is one I took on a morning walk when I went to a Kentucky wedding two summers ago.  I started an essay about the trip but never finished it, never even got a good start because it took me back to all sorts of childhood drama, and so on.

Though I write a journal nine days out of ten, I have not written anything “real” in years, maybe even since before I started this blog. It’s weird, but this sort of essay-type writing comes easily to me, maybe because I have taught composition for so long.  When I talk about “real” writing, I mean stories and poems, but these years, even writing simple everyday thoughts is a treat.  Writing assignments for my students and paragraphs for committees at work do not feel valid.  Even the paper I gave at a conference this semester doesn’t feel like it counts, but that is not really true.  Words on the page count.  We have to start somewhere.

Here is hoping that I start again this summer with whatever presents itself, whether I consider it “real” or not. It’s really a matter of setting boundaries, saying no to some things and people in order to say yes to words on the page with all the joy and frustration they bring. Here is hoping that everyone who wants to write is able to start again and that those who are already disciplined can  keep going with joy.

Now for those papers . . .

Sarah’s “Procedure”

picture source:

picture source:

Shortly before they put me under for the colonoscopy, a huge dark-skinned black man wearing a shining white surgeon’s mask walked into the room. Built like a refrigerator, he carried a 60 foot long roll of thick black tubing. The nurse quickly covered my bottom (which she was lining up for the machine). “Who are you?” I asked the man. I was afraid he was going to say he was doing my “procedure,” but he said his name was Jay and he put the roll of black tubing in a closet (not in me, thank God). Then he left. The nurses said he was just passing through and, when they could stop laughing at the expression on my face, they apologized for his upsetting intrusion. “I’m not upset,” I said, also laughing. “Have you already started the drugs?”

I woke up during the exploration, and that was a surprise. Fortunately, I did not wake up to pain, just pressure and the sight of my innards on the television screen. I wanted to discuss the situation, but strong hands were pushing me around, trying to get me in the right position for whatever they or the camera was doing. The tiny nurse doing the hoisting said I was doing fine–and then I guess the other nurse put some more drugs in my IV because the next thing I knew was in “recovery.”

Here’s how the day went. First we sat in a waiting room with a bunch of people for over an hour, during which I went to the bathroom several times because the “prep” was still working. The bathrooms there have motion activated paper towel machines. Each time I washed my hands, I had more trouble getting the machine to give me towels. Waving my hands around to no effect made me so angry I wanted to scream and pull the machine off the wall, but I was so tired, hungry, and depleted that maybe small things seemed large.

Finally I went upstairs: no watch, no Kindle, nothing but me. This time I waited on a chair in a foyer. A woman from the miniature conference room came into the area crying hard, and I put my arm around her. She said she had to be strong, and I told her she didn’t have to be strong just then. One of the reception clerksgave her a box of Kleenex. Now I am worried about her and her family, wonder what her story is. She left, probably to put on a calm face while she delivered devastating news.

After a while a nurse took me to a toilet-equipped room, had me put on incredibly ugly baggy blue paper shorts, made the machine give me a paper towel, and started an IV. Then she parked me on a stretcher in a hallway beside another woman. (Someone brought me a HEATED blanket, which was incredibly kind.) I think my “hall mate” is the woman who hit my car last year, but I could be wrong. We were not at our best. She was waiting for a colon scan too. They had a small television on the wall playing a cooking show. Insensitive, that. At any rate, a nurse came for me while the fellow victim and I were complaining about the assembly line nature of our day at the hospital. I told the nurse that the other woman was there first, so it was her turn, but she said each doctor has his own room. Everything was so slow that I thought they had to share. I suggested that the doctors did not play well together. The nurse laughed and said that was true.

Unfortunately, the scan did show a polyp, but it is probably benign. Whatever it is, it’s gone.

I slept for almost three hours when we got back. Absolutely forbidden to drive the next day (which is today), I have a second day off. I wonder what will happen . . .

Beginner blogging

I do not know what I am doing. How do I get a row of tabs across the page? Make everything look better? Clicking around on random tutorials confuses me. Decades ago, a pompous therapist said I was wandering around like a blind pig in the woods, and that is what this feels like.









Here’s a sample  question.  How do I get rid of that extra space up there?  

Does anyone else flounder around before wondering how to do things?  In Education-speak, I am a haptic learner, someone who doesn’t read or listen but charges around on her own and drives teachers crazy. Most of the time, charging around is pretty fun,  but right now it might be easier to follow a little structure.  Flipping through pages and index hopping still beats clicking on links.  Who knows about a good, EASY book about blogging?  The idea seems sort of counter intuitive,  and I would rather tell you all about this year’s gardens, but . . .

McCracken County Fair Head  2014

P.S.  This post was supposed to take about ten minutes and it has probably been two hours.   

The Best Writing Teacher

The Best Writing Guide for Folk like me

The Best Writing Guide for Folk like me


Through this book, Natalie Goldberg taught me a whole lot about spilling everything on to the page and finding material from the  result.    When I named the blog Writing Practice, I was using her ideas.  For that reason, this picture and explanation should go in the header, but I haven’t figured out how to get it there as a thumbnail image.  So, Natalie, I do not want to plagiarize you, but right now, this is my best shot at fairness.

Goddesses . . . and not

Many of topics want out of my brain: this year’s gardening, teaching tales, responses to novels, and many more.  Getting my first leg and bikini wax (at grandmother age), however, is my latest adventure.  Think about the position a woman assumes in order to let the aesthetician rip out the pubic hair.  In Yoga, they call it the Goddess Pose. To me, the posture seems awfully submissive, especially when I am trying to be less like a marshmallow and more like  Kali (Hindu) and Vajrayogini (Buddhist).

 Considered violently compassionate, they kill the ego in order to lead us to enlightenment, and these two figures seem to be the same. The ego  is the part of us that wants to be separate from everyone else, that part of us that does not want to be part of the Tao, the Universal Mind, God, etc.  The ego wants to be one shining drop of water instead of the whole ocean; it is the part of us that wants to be good, bad, the best, the worst–separate.  As far as the goddesses go, additional research may show whether anything more than the names change between the two traditions.  While you are waiting or searching for that information, however, you might enjoy these pictures.  Look how happily Vajrayogini  dances with her necklace of skulls.

Buddhist ego killerHappy to kill the ego

Revised from Tricycle caption.

  See how Kali sticks her tongue out at anyone who tries to understand her.  Look carefully:

She kills our notions of separateness.

Hindu image of the happy ego killer.

 On the western side, the Greek Goddess Athena represents wisdom as well as war.  If you are familiar with The Iliad, you know that Athena supported her favorites in the Trojan War.  All of the Greek gods and goddesses took sides, but Athena was quite fierce on the proud Achilles’ behalf. (stay tuned for picture).  The Israelites were wandering around in the desert around the time of the Trojan war (or around the time Homer’s poem was being performed), and some of the Jewish women were bold.  Consider Judith and her murder of Holofernes.  She saved her people by first drugging him, then driving a tent peg through his head and  cutting herself a trophy. ( This story is in the book of Judith, which is in the  Apocrypha and described as an addition to the book of Esther. )

European view of Judith and H.

Judith and Holofernes  as imagined in 1530

By the time folks became Christians, however,  the women excelled at suffering. Of course, that may be inaccurate or unfair or both. Still, the photo below is Donatello’s sculpture of Mary Magdalene in the desert.  She is certainly not a physical warrior.

Mary Magdalene

One image of suffering by Donatello (Mary Magdalen in the Desert)

Saint Joan of Arc subverts the weak sister paradigm, but look what happened to her.

Rossetti's Joan at prayer

Joan of Arc by Rossetti

Sculpture of the dying Joan

Sculpture of Joan. Suffering as an object of devotion

This year I  realized that my personal “goddesses” represent the ego—two sides of which are the Should Bird that sits on one shoulder and tells us what to do and the Shit Bird that sits on the other shoulder and screams, “Not Good Enough!  Not Good Enough!”  You know them, right?

Before I knew the bitches were parts of my own ego, I wrote stories about two of them.   Witchy Poo  is my internal editor.  She yells at me for being self indulgent.  Mrs. Blutmore, a giant rabbit with sharp teeth, is mad because I ignored my imagination for many years and still don’t make time to write stories.  Baba Yaga, a deadly witch in the Russian tradition is a fairy tale favorite.  Very wise and powerful, she kills anyone who is dishonest or stupid.

When I started this post in May, all of this goddess and ego business frustrated me, so I went to my place of peace:  a neglected flower border.  Digging in the dirt beats thinking any day.  Here is  the first  garden picture of 2014:

how I spent my hour off

Sweet William Survived winter in the nursery pack.

Now it is July and I am still playing around with this very first post that now may need its own page and a bibliography. What do you think about goddesses and ego?  How much would you rather create something with your hands?


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