Friday, April 01, 2022

All of a Sudden

This morning I started a sentence in my journal with "All of a sudden," and I remembered a moment when I handed my mother a story I'd written. I used the phrase a lot in my story, but I wrote it "all of the sudden." My mother corrected my usage. "It's all of a sudden, not the." I was stunned, and a little confused. What difference did it make, really? A. The. They were both articles, signifying a noun up ahead. Was sudden a noun? An adjective? I learned the phrase was an idiom, which sounded too close to idiot for me. 

All of a sudden was a favorite phrase of mine, and it still is. As someone who feels like everything in life is happening all at once, it works. All of a sudden, my pen ran out of ink. All of a sudden, the ducks were in the road. All of a sudden, my fake mustache peeled off and fell into my coffee with a fuzzy plorp.

Everything is a surprise with all of a sudden. An unexpected delight (or not).

It turns out we've been using "of a sudden" since Shakespeare first coined it in The Taming of the Shrew. "Is it possible That love should of a sodaine take hold? (antiquated spelling alert!) Sudden has been used as an adjective since the 15th century, and it was once a noun, too, meaning "that which is sudden." Today the noun form is obsolete, except in the phrase "all of a sudden."  

What a gem! 

All of a sudden, the word sudden is no longer a noun.

All of a sudden, thanks to Mom, a memory, and the internet, I know a little more.

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Call Me Jenny or Jennifer

I'm shouting it here, because there's great reward in shouting into an empty space to hear the echo:


I mean it. Please. Stop changing my name for me. People do it even when I call myself Jenny or Jennifer. It happened yesterday on the phone, and this week in a variety of emails.

When I correct people, it doesn't work. They often go back to calling me Jen. 

There are so many things to be angry about. Much more important things than this nonsense with my name. 

But oh this is a splinter under a hangnail caught between my teeth as the fingernails rake across the chalkboard.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Crone Bone

I am teaching third graders, over Zoom, how to actively listen. "Make eye contact. Be generous with your attention."

Will they use this skill in their futures?

I am heartbroken today, for a variety of reasons, but the main one is I wish to have conversations, to connect with people in a meaningful way. Even this blog isn't a conversation. It's just me moving my scattered thoughts from head to hand to a public room behind many other public rooms that are discotheques of language paired with images and video. Be witty, be clever, engage with quick quizzes  -- whatever it takes to keep the viewer's (reader's?) attention for a full 30 seconds. Everyone is jumping up and down in those rooms. I feel trampled in them, bumped into, rattled. My head pounds from all the dippy filters and polls. The audio files that everyone uses for their videos homogenizes messages, plays them on repeat, while filters make faces melt into sameness, too.

I will not be a part of wherever this is headed, which is why I keep returning to this quiet space. Eventually I think I will stop writing for this empty room, too. I keep telling myself that this short attention span communication is leading to something new and exciting, that future generations will be prepared for what is needed to survive, to create. But this sort of talk just feels like the happy surface nonsense you say while your gut feels the deep rumblies of doom.

Books may be a thing of the past.

In defiance, I am reading as many books as possible and writing lengthier work no one will ever read. 

I am a chalkboard filled with words everyone just wants to clear off so they can go clap out the erasers.

I am the typewriter that no one knows how to use. 

Where do I feel the heartbreak in my body, no one asks? My jaw, my neck, the weight of my suddenly ponderous legs, my empty gut, a deep tightening in my ribcage. I hold my breath too much. 

No one cares, and self-pity is ugly, so here we are. I mean, here I am, a crone with her bones, trying to divine.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Some Sunday Images

On my way to a friend's house yesterday I saw a porcupine by the side of the road. I've never seen one "in person" before. It was armored, showing off its boundaries. They prefer the safety of forested areas, which I was driving through, but it must have lost its way and been anxious to see cars instead of understory.

While at my friend's house, I spotted a fox in her backyard, twice. She has chickens, and like me with the ducks, is on alert. The second time she went out to shout "like a wild woman," I realized the brownish blur I saw was her neighbor's dog.

So, did I see a porcupine? Or was it a discarded, upturned scrub brush? If I believe I saw a porcupine, did I see a porcupine? Such is the way of thinking for those who wear glasses. Our visions are questionable.

That same drive produced for me a number of images I enjoyed, questionable or not. The first being a sycamore, trimmed to stubbiness for the fault of growing by a powerline. The tree had put its energies into growing a branch that curled around the powerline without touching it. A brilliant and childlike defiance.

Can we talk for a moment about setting words 












It makes them difficult to read. Still, businesses put up their banners and flags that announce what they are selling inside with each letter stacked on top of the other. I guess it has to do with economy of space, but I wish we'd stop setting words in this way. When read from behind, which is possible with most of these banners since they are printed on thin fabric, the reader has to sort out letterforms that are backwards and up and down. Funhouse signage. In a way, my brain loves it, and rises to the challenge, but does it in ways that can be unsettling and revealing. Yesterday's sign announced a WINERY. Read from behind, and vertically, I saw MISERY. My eyes only caught the last three letters of the word, and filled in the rest of the spaces it saw with MIS.

How many words end in ERY and have three letters at the start that might announce a business? BAKERY. EATERY. Even CELERY would be a better choice than MISERY. The CELERY store.

On my way home I stopped at my daughter's apartment to drop off some Girl Scout cookies. Her apartment had that Sunday quiet about it. A pot of soup gone cold on the stove, books and art supplies on surfaces, cozy slippers cast off on the floor. Her heart wasn't Sunday quiet though. We had a conversation about boundaries, red flags, what we will allow in our lives, what we hope for the most. I told her about the porcupine I saw, or thought I saw. A vision, I see clearly now, of all those things we were going to discuss.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Good Morning

January is all about long shadows and blue light. The bodies of trees, the reflection of light on lingering snow. Lines everywhere. Angles, angles, angles, not that far from angels.

The woman in the room next to me at the dentist had a laugh like a goat calling out. She found the weather hilarious. We'll laugh at anything at the dentist, just to be liked. There's a lot of forced comedy in the dentist's chair -- one of the most vulnerable places for a human -- leaning back with your mouth wide open. The gateway to the body. Anyway, she sounded like a goat, which I found funny, not false.

I don't like wind. I want to be pals with it, but it just messes with my internal equipment. It throws me off balance, makes me eat my own hair, slaps me in the face. I try to find the positive in it the way you try to seek the kindness in a bully. "It spreads seeds," or "It has other moods, like breezes, which you like, and look how it makes the trees dance," but when it's cold and I'm lifting 50 lb. bags of feed, we're not chums. Sorry.

Which brings me to meditation. My hands are in my lap. and I am paying attention to my breath, and then the instructor's voice tells me to let all the negative thoughts go. It's like being faced with a plate full of marshmallows, and being told not to eat any. Marshmallow gorge fest. I don't even like marshmallows, so I'm not sure why I went there with that image.

GMO seeds are "brokenhearted seeds planted by a brokenhearted people." - Rowan White. 

I love the word brokenhearted, because you can turn it inside out and it still means the same thing. Heartbroken. Of course, you have to lop off the -ed ending, but you get the idea. It's like a really disappointing reversible jacket.

Is there anything better than eight puppies for a mood lift? I saw eight puppies with the mother dog yesterday and was so delighted. Everyone at that vet's office was smiling, including the dogs.

Mustard is good brushed on cauliflower if you roast it. I added some dill. That's my recipe for the day.

I wish I had deeper thoughts, but you get what you get.

When I write the word "the" I give up on it after the letter t -- the "he" looks like someone stepped on it.

A book I ordered arrived yesterday from Thriftbooks, so late I forgot I ordered it. "One Hundred Poems From The Chinese." Kenneth Rexroth's translations. I think we had this book at Paper Kite at one time, and sold it. I was never into the Chinese poets when I was younger. Their stark images and humor speak to me now as I hear doors closing behind me.

Coffee is cold. This was worth it.

Friday, January 07, 2022


Snow celebrates the unseen — bird footprints, fox tracks.
Snow celebrates the edges of things — curved branches, 
the tops of fenceposts, distorted diamonds of chainlink.

Snow spotlights the holy dry weed standing in the field alone.

Snow celebrates quiet — slows all human traffic, alters schedules, 
changes moods, puts the kaybosh on sound, shuts off lights.
Snow celebrates coldness  — it packs itself 
into the ribbing at the wrist of your glove, 
the ankle of your boot, reminds you of the warm pulse inside you.

Snow celebrates longing and impermanence 
as the building material for snowmen, 
and wishful, ramshackle hideaways during snowball fights.
Snow pulls its comforter over graves, reminds the dead 
and the living of the celebration of rest and spirit.

Snow celebrates newness, cleanliness, and chaotic order 
in a show of snowflakes, and endless white surfaces.

Snow makes it easy on the hawk, but hard on the chickadee.

Snow celebrates without knowing it is a celebration.
Beauty has a lack of awareness of its supremacy — 
its message of brevity: celebrate now.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Some Messages You May Receive

Your primary tab is empty.

There is Fool's Gold in your third eye. 

You have reached your time limit for today.

Your paternal grandfather is behind you, to your left.

You have successfully unsubscribed from this list.

Meet the gaze of your dead mother.

You've logged 124 hours of meditation. Way to go!

You have a strong heart.

Level up. 

What would it take to say "I know"?

Power down.

You are very powerful, you know that? 

You have three new notifications.

Your daughter: "It's in the words, Mom."

What would you like to watch?

There you are at 4 years old, in the mirror.

You shut down because of a problem. Error 101.

 Go ahead and skip that rope, then let go of it.

Your credit card statement is ready.

Your third eye is like the star on a Christmas tree.

We've received your message.

You have the awareness.

Leave meeting.

Connect to the natural world.

Sign up for rewards.