For the Love of Words

A few years back when my grandpa passed away I not only lost my last grandparent, but the world lost one cool cat; a man who not only played trombone in the Sooner band, but married his college sweetheart who was, in his words, “the prettiest girl in Norman,” and he had a penchant for saying, “Dear Gussie!” in his measured Midwestern lilt whenever you impressed or shocked him, which delighted me to no end. He was known as a man who had a way with words and he could spin a tale that kept the rapt attention of all his grandkids, especially me.

When the extended Graves family got together to say good-bye to Daniel Maloy Graves II we each took turns sharing a favorite memory. My dad shared several memories, but one in particular made a lasting impression, “He had the best vocabulary and a system to improve it. When he would come across a word he didn’t know, he’d look it up and write down the definition. He would then make a point of using that word in conversation at least three times the next day to commit it to memory. I always admired that.”

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Traveling Through Time

Waking up to the dulcet tones of Soterios Johnson, my morning routine is always the same: listen to the news of the day and wait until he tells me the current temperature in Central Park, for only then will I get out of bed. From there I pad down the hall to the kitchen to make coffee before settling down in my office to write.

February 1, 2013. A day that centers around two New York historical figures — legendary mayor Ed Koch who died today and Grand Central Terminal celebrates its centennial.

Grand Central with all its opulence and grandeur. The turquoise fresco that draws your eyes up to the heavens where celestial bodies watch over passengers as they bustle through corridors to train platforms or out onto 42nd Street. When I lived in New York I was fortunate to work on 42nd Street and thanks to the 4/5/6 train, I could enter/exit Grand Central Terminal on a daily basis if I wanted but usually avoided due to the crush of people (opting instead of a small exit down on 42nd and 3rd). Just standing in the main concourse of Grand Central you can feel the electricity in your bones, the spirit of how train travel used to be (one could say the same of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and part of Washington DC’s Union Station).

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Blocked.

It’s obnoxious.

Dare I say, painful?

It physically hurts. And it’s lasted for more than a week.

I’m starting to get concerned.

Writer’s block that I can’t seem to overcome. I even attempted the trick where I start out writing about my writer’s block, which I’ve read can help. People seemingly stuck in their tracks find a way to write through the block, prose bursts forth and they’re writing a masterpiece. Ok, probably not a masterpiece but at least the start of a rough, really rough, 1st draft. But me? I keep asking questions: why is this happening? Why can’t I seem to break through? What type of writer am I? The questions are endless and with each new question the words seem farther away.

Yesterday I was at my wit’s end, and turned to writing in my journal. I figured if I couldn’t write a story at least I could write about how I felt about not being able to write. With each sentence my anxiety grew until I couldn’t stop writing—in capital letters. I was essentially yelling at myself in my journal. Who does this? With each swipe of the pen on paper, my frustration mounted until I just started scribbling on the page, essentially ripping it from the binding and then promptly burst into tears. Until there was nothing left.

But then? One breath, followed by another. I sat with my mangled Moleskine. I attempted to compose myself and gather my thoughts. I walked away from yesterday’s writing session with silence and a bit of clarity. I suppose sometimes you have to break down everything (barriers, preconceived notions, your mental state) in order to start from scratch and rebuild.

A Dog-Eared Page: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Yeah, yeah. I know.

I’m about a decade late to the Dave Eggers party. What can I say? I’ve already explained my extensive “to read” list of books—on my nightstand, the Kindle, the electronic list that grows exponentially and on and on.

Reading “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” is just that. Genius. Eggers’ stream-of-consciousness prose reminds me of “On the Road” and I find myself getting thoroughly absorbed in its pages.This passage made me stop in my tracks, dog ear the bottom right corner, grab a pencil and underline:

“…we’re putting something together that will smash all these misconceptions about us, how it’ll help us all to throw off the shackles of our supposed obligations, our fruitless career tracks, how we will force, at least urge, millions to live more exceptional lives, to [standing up for effect] do extraordinary things, to travel the world, to help people and start things and end things and build things…”

I stopped reading altogether to consider the tug we often feel as we go through our lives. This is a common question that I often find I wrestle with—are we doing what we should be doing with our lives? Is there something bigger, different from the norm, off the beaten path that we should be exploring? Something radically different that we should be doing with our lives if we would only be still and heed the call.

So Long 2012

Every day my mouse hovers near the WordPress Dashboard link on my Bookmarks Bar and never once makes it to the “click” phase. With each passing day I felt a little guiltier like I’m neglecting an important writing outlet. After all, I write nearly every day: working on short stories, outlining new ideas, the occasional pitch. I am, dare I say, prolific? Yet a blog post is seemingly out of reach and I wonder how many other bloggers struggle with the start-stop-start of blogging?

Six weeks are enough of a lag time though and let’s face it, the type-A girl that I am would be mortified if you looked at my archives and noticed there was a month missing (see: March and July 2012, not to be repeated). In thinking about my first foray back to blogdom after an extended absence I couldn’t decide on a topic, so I figured a brief synopsis on five events that would have been separate blog posts had I got my act together:

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