Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why I Love gchatting

I got into an email exchange with a client this morning. We were both hitting "send" every five minute or so.

Finally, I emailed him: You should use your gmail account, I wrote. Then we could have quick little chats and check-ins. And you could have them with . . . too. I keep up with my daughters with gchat and one or two friends.

It's so fast that you write in your talking voice. And, ah, what a voice. Sounds just like you. That talking voice is one we want to hear and readers do too--it's natural, spare, slangy. It's YOU, writing what you would be talking if you weren't gchatting but were, say, on the phone with this person. Talking is writing on the air, says Pat Schneider. OK. So, consider this: Writing is talking on the page.

The chatty voice in your head is going directly onto the screen, while your gremlin nods on your shoulder--unaware there's something happening that he could tear up and spit on.

All chats get saved, automatically. I would suggest you not dwell on this--thinking about "saving" might wake up the gremlin. He'll have a good belch, then smell fresh coffee brewing in his little dark kitchen full of knives.

Prompt: Have a dialogue with your gremlin. And if you don't know what a gremlin is, you're lucky. But you probably do have one and just call it something else--the censor, killjoy, &%$*$#!

In the following quote, replace 'say' with 'gchat':
"If you say what's on your mind in the language that comes to you from your parents and your street and friends," writes Grace Paley, "you'll probably say something beautiful."

And real.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Grief In its Own Time

I wake up with blog post ideas. Yes, that's a good one, I tell myself. And I can use the photo from . . .

Over the past month I've considered lots of entries, but somehow when it's time to open the blogger dashboard, my fingers freeze and I stop.

My last post is a tribute to Daphne, my 14-year-old golden retriever, who died on July 23. I haven't wanted, been able, to consider supplanting her muddy face with another post, until now. I pause, ready to leap into my new idea, but . . .

Many times I've walked down to her grave at the end of the yard, by the compost bin, and chatted with her. "Hey girl," I say, "I miss your impish energy, your wiggling up out of a deep dirt sleep to trot around the yard with me and tease me when I dump the vegetable droppings.

"Oh isn't she being a conscientious citizen," you would say--if you could talk, jerking your head back in a challenge, your black lips parting in a smile. "You're such a good girl, unlike me, the wolf dog." You would bark and invite me to chase you or play a game with you. You'd drop a ball or a stone at my feet. "Throw it," you'd say. Whenever Bill came out, you would try to block him when he shot baskets in your yard--try to get into the game with him. He swore you laughed when he missed a hoop.

Yesterday, without you at my side, I strung a clothes line out back, something I could never do when you were alive. For a day or two you would have ignored the damp prey. But then, on a lazy afternoon, a pillow case waving in the breeze would have been too much and you would have ripped it down, shaken it to break its neck, and dug it into one of your mud holes. Next a sheet, a t-shirt, anything you could reach.

Now I have a line up. I have a screen door since you're not here to paw through it at the first threat of thunder--the change in weather you always sensed long before we did. Our TV room no longer smells like a vet's office. There are no clumps of golden hair clinging to our kitchen chair legs. I can take a brisk walk and not feel guilty for leaving your rickety self at home.

I set out to write a post about something else, thinking I was ready. But you have taken over. That's how grief works--it has its own timetable, surprising us.

I choose this picture, looking up the driveway from the Wildacres resident cabin. At the top of the slope, light bursts through but down here we are in a darker place.