a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, March 29, 2015


March 23, 2013

I try on slices each day like I try on clothes. 

Maybe I should write about running outdoors for the first time since fall, I think as I puff breaths of steam into the crisp air.  I could write about how good it feels to put feet to path and pound out a rhythm of health.  But it isn’t all good, is it?  No.  I am struggling to breathe, my side is cramping, and these yoga pants that used to hug my body in celebration of curves are creating bulges where bulges should never be. 

I toss that idea aside like the pair of jeans I have to suck in my stomach to button. 

Perhaps today’s slice will be a moment from yesterday.  The conclusion of an ongoing story—M’s decision to abandon War and Peace in favor of another graphic novel. I could celebrate the way he said, “Mrs. Rush, I think I am going to stop reading this book.  There just isn’t any action,” instead of saying, “Mrs. Rush, I just don’t get this book.  It is too difficult.  I give up.”  I could celebrate the way he will always carry this moment of having begun reading War and Peace and having chosen to stop—not quit.  I could celebrate how this shows he has grown as a reader—how he has become a reader. 

I leave this idea folded neatly on a shelf like my favorite sweater, the one I have to be careful not to wear too often or I will wear it out too quickly.

Instead, I’ll try writing about my new couch. 

I drape the idea over the armchair, planning to pick it up and put it on another day—when the mood suits me.  I am careful not to rumple it, leaving it untouched and fresh for future wear.

Rather, I could craft a slice today about my sister’s reappearance in my life.  How all of a sudden a call on my cell phone is a casual occurrence.  How after years of no communication, she stayed at my house to care for my dogs while we were at the Illinois Reading Council Conference.  How although I don’t trust her so much that I am willing to unguard my heart, my mother is the only person in the world I trust more than my sister when it comes to watching my dogs.

This idea itches like a wooly sweater.  The one I remember feeling just too tight in all the wrong places.  The one I want to love and am not willing to let go of, even though I know it is unflattering ever since an ill-fated journey through the laundry.  Maybe one day it will fit just right again, I tell myself.  Maybe one day the damage will be reversed.

I try on slices each day like I try on clothes.

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