Fasting, Memoir, HNY!

So, today’s the day to do the blog. Here I am. Showing up even though I have only an idea of what to write. Ok first, I hope the holidays have treated you well. They can be stressful, but there is a lot of joy, too and that’s good.


I kinda sorta took a break from Instagram, so I didn’t post, but I took a picture of a gift I received (a first) because I hadn’t gotten a new sewing machine since I was a freshman in High School and I was a bit astounded. Been a bit busy, but might get the courage to try it today, as I have some time, both kids are occupied, It’s a coverlock machine, which is a kind of a serger and they can be very hard to thread and get the tension right, so requires fiddling and patience.


Today I announced that fasting is my Christmas present to myself. I’m on day 4, will end it on NYE, and maybe now the ketones are kicking in. I’d been sorta weighed down and even though I seemed cheery enough on the outside, I wasn’t cheery enough on the inside.


It takes 3 days of fasting (in my opinions) for the wheels to start turning. The first two-three are a challenge, you have to commit, you have to fight off the urge to eat for a variety of reasons and you need to get through some discomfort as your cravings ease up/disappear. There is the tiredness, too. The first extended fast I did, I did as a purist. Water and water only. Now I take some vitamins at night, and have some coffee, but strictly speaking, it’s not a “true” fast.


I’m giving my body a rest from digestion and seeing if it will do some repair work on my knee, which hurts. It’s a new hurt, and I don’t really want it to stick around if I can help it. Might need to get back to yoga or some exercise, but I’ve been kind of loving not exercising/running/swimming/biking one or more that I’ve done consistently since I was in Jr. High. It was hard at first, to not exercise. Part of my identity seemed askew. I was always a “runner,” and if I wasn’t now a “runner,” then who was I?


(Who am I?)

(Who are you? Are you nobody? Then I'm nobody, too)  


So. Maybe I already mentioned my New Year’s Resolution? I didn’t always make one, as I do a big thing on my birthday in February, but maybe for the past 4-5 years I’ve had one. It’s been some version of “Use it up/Use it or lose it” and while I still have things to give away, I’ve been really Using things up. So this year I morphed the resolution into “No Backlog” which for me means getting those tasks done that are on my mind. The photos and albums. The familial stuff I don’t really want. The papers to organize.


 It’s not really a big deal to organize my paperwork, especially my songwriting, because I usually come up with something new, but if there are really horrible lyrics, I could probably purge them. And, I have written a few poems here and there and it would be nice to compile them. I love poetry even though I don’t read it often. My mother used to recite a few Emily Dickenson poems and she was such a big fan that it was hard not to get a bit enthusiastic with her. She was passionate about the one that begins, “Will there ever be a morning, Is there such a thing as day”

Ok, I remembered that wrong: it’s actually:

Will there really be a "Morning"?
Is there such a thing as "Day"?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?

Has it feet like Water lilies?
Has it feathers like a Bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?

Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!
Oh some Wise Men from the skies!
Please to tell a little Pilgrim
Where the place called "Morning" lies! 

 --Emily Dickinson


I went to see the exhibit of some of her papers and work at the Morgan Library in Manhattan. I really liked her pressed flower book, because it showed her visual arrangements and many of the pages were beautiful for their layout and script. Beautiful script is not something that is usually practiced these days, but it can be lovely to get lost in.


So anyway, just having a small folio of my poems for my own sake would be nice. I illustrated one when I was in the 3rd grade and my teacher send it off somewhere and I got to attend the Illinois Young Authors Convention as a result. I don’t remember much about it, though there is a picture somewhere and I think I’m wearing an outfit I bought with my own money from K-Mart (I delivered the Park Forest Star newspaper twice a week starting in the 2nd grade). The dress is polyester.


I have a certificate somewhere and there was a book with all the authors’s pictures and biographies, but eventually, I got rid of it and only saved my page. I think I say I like my hamster. (I distinctly remember not having a clue what to write and my teacher had to help me.)


My father was angry at me for what he perceived to be my lateness in getting ready for the convention, which I think had some workshops and a ceremony where the authors were presented with their certificates, though I think it was held on a Sunday and I would have delivered the newspaper first and then hurried to get ready, and his admonishments made the drive to Decatur (I think it was there) less than optimal. I was never supposed to fuss about my clothing or seem to care about it in any way, though of course I did!

It bothered him to no end that when I was younger, my Great Aunt Ethel had given me a doll I named Karen and sent along matching clothing for the doll and me. The clothing was, to my young eyes, magnificent as she made just about every dress in a different style, with fun kid-centric fabric and colorful buttons. So, who wouldn't be tempted to change outfits multiple times a day? Periodically, until I was about 7, she would send a package and there would be something new for Karen and me. I suppose it wasn't fair that she didn't send my brothers hand made clothing, but I assumed it was because sewing dresses was easier and never having married, she never had a chance to make clothing for men or boys. 


Well, this is great, because I have been thinking of writing a memoir about my dad, mostly, being inspired anew by one I’m reading now, “The Only Girl in the World” by Maude Julien. My story is not as horrifying as hers is (or I hope not) but I would like to exhume the ghosts and let them rest.


I’ve strugged with this memoir for many years, and have a cache of over 40 typed letters he sent me over the years, though there were more. The first two he handed me when I was about 9 have vanished along with others that were ripped to shreds in frustration, but my first idea was to simply publish the letters and be done with it. At the time, 2002? I let a few literary friends read them,  but the way to go seems to be to start blogging. So, here I am!


I thought I’d begin with his death, in 2006. And then go forwards and backwards as the story unfolds. I have no idea how this will sound/turn out, but I’m sure I’ll learn something along the way. (I already learned something by relating that Young Authors story).

Sometime shortly after the convention, someone my father knew was visiting our house and my father gave him my certificate to laminate, which upset me. He never gave it back to me and I assumed it was lost, but after he died I found it hidden at the bottom of his dresser drawer.


Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2018!! Love, Leslie

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