Monday, January 27, 2014

Snow in Other Lands

Here is an excerpt that I have been working on. I've been revising it as I am excited that my brother's wife is bringing another Lundquist into the world. I hope you enjoy it!


--Maine in the wintertime mimics the topmost parts of Canada. 

Moose walk around the untouched forest of snow, and gray covers the sky in constant preparation for precipitation. The sky holds a foreboding, a mystery that I haven’t found to be the same in many other parts of the world. There is a ‘town’, which is an Ace Hardware and a Renny’s, but a few steps into the woods and there are creatures that I would have written about when I was 7 with my first novel “The Unicorn”.  It chronicled the life of a unicorn trying to get home and finding help along the way from creatures and one human, a girl probably named Esperanza, and they become friends. Mystical. I think it is sitting in my box of stuff from my younger and better years.

My aunt lost at least one cat every year to minx, foxes, and other cat eating beasts. The level of magic and fear only increased because their house was built in the early 1900s, and it creaked every step I took upstairs. The cozy house was as if it was still in the 1800s, that we were like the first people here, that wolves haunted the barn, and we had to venture into the white snow to get eggs to eat from the coop. 

I loved the mystery of the woods. It was nothing like the woods near my house that quickly intersected with a neighbor’s. My uncle would direct me through the trees, off the trail, to follow animal tracks, and I was afraid. He seemed to know what he was doing, and I followed him diligently, letting my mind pretend. Besides eating rice pudding, there is not much to do up there but read, listen to my aunt sing old tunes, and walk for as long as you can in the snow until you feel like your toes are going to fall off. I’m pretty sure I gained about 7 pounds every Christmas. 

After dinner, I would roll onto the grey, sinking couch after a smorgasbord. Swedish meatballs, lasagna, salad, homemade bread, sweet Christmas bread, lingonberries, cheese, crackers. You can’t skip anything. The long wooden table parallels a smaller wooden table in order to accommodate all 10 of us. Earlier that day, we woke up and opened presents one at a time. The Christmas tumpten (my little brother) gave each person a gift from under the piney christmas tree. My grandmother looked around at all of us with dark blue eyes, as if they held the ocean she crossed to start her life over. 

Her simplicity was bothersome for a long time, and while I loved her dearly, I was confused by her.  Why did she only wear long woolen skirts and white blouses? And stockings, even in the summer? She had Swedish tchotchkies in her house, woke up at 5 am, and why were the sheets and towels at her house so stiff? Why couldn’t she be like my friend’s grandmother who had soft, baby pink towels? She said “Yuh” with sort of an intake of breath. She loved attending all of my sports performances, and she was always the only one on the sidelines in the woolen skirt outfit beside Andover mothers in their new hairdo and stank perfume. It was bizarre.

My father was always so interesting next to her. It was like they were from another world. There was a yearning in his eyes for her to be happy, for her to be his mother still, for her to not grow older... but she was. Her hair was whiter every year, thinner, though still perfectly curled from the soft pink and yellow curlers she curled up at night. Her clothes looked the same, but even older. My grandfather had died when I was young, and for nearly 20 years after she spent days by herself on the Cape, cleaning her old house, working on the pine needled yard, and walking along the beach in frigid Northeastern winters. I wondered about it. How could she be like this? It wasn’t until I was older that I wished I could spend more time with her. That someday I wanted to name my child after her. Vivian.

In the winter, we were all freezing up there in Maine, so I would snuggle into the nook off the couch in front of the hot wood burning stove. I loved the after dinner time. Everyone was together in one room. For one day of the year, everyone: all three of my brothers playing Risk with my cousin, my mother and I reading on the couches, my father chatting with my aunt, my grandmother watching it all. I wore feety pajamas, which would eventually get hot by the wood burning stove and my feet would sweat. I watched the snow come down outside the window, two universes separated by a window pane.--




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Revelatory Dreams

I had a crazy dream last night. 

In it, I dreamt that I was a detective of sorts, and I was trying to figure out what kept happening to people left and right of me that were dying. I wanted to figure out the scheme and save everyone. Then, all of a sudden, the killer was in front of me. All of those signs were for me, that I was going to die. It was very real, the kind of dream that makes you toss and turn and cringe. I had a chance to say goodbye to my family before he took me outside to do the deed. When faced with the imminence of death, I thought not of my job, not of yoga, not of my house or the mountains. I thought only of the people closest to me. 
I gave my little brother a huge hug, something that rarely happens because we live so far apart and have had a tough time connecting, and cried and told him how much I love him because I do. I hugged my father and my mother, which was insanely difficult even in my dream to imagine being without them. To really say goodbye. And then I was let outside the house to end my life. 

And then I woke up. 


Dreams can show a lot and remind us of what we are missing. It can also show what has been on your mind, in your subconscious, and what is on the backburner. It was interesting to wake up really FEELING this dream and remembering that there is so much more to life than doing well at work, staying fit, and ambition for further accomplishments. 

It is in the simplicity of being with your family and loved ones. It is about the people and community and love.




Thursday, December 26, 2013

The coffee pot from the writing prompt


The coffee pot. Sometimes, it is my only savior when I need to feel awake. Used incessantly, like a charm every morning, reminding me yes, it is possible to awaken and move. This might sound counterintuitive for someone who is a yoga instructor, but it is possible to be a yoga instructor/writer/project manager who is just like everyone else. The ritual. Dump the grinds, wash out my reusable filter, take the Trader Joe’s can ou t of the freezer, scoop in the good stuff, pour out the old drip, fill with water, and stick the friend under the magic top. The handle is like an old friend shaking my hand as my feet freeze. The sides of the pot maintain a coffee resin, and the sound and smell of the drip reminds me of my parent’s home outside of Boston. In this way, I wake up. In this way, I can take on the day and attempt to make something beautiful out of it.  The ritual is just as much a part of the security as is the effect of the aromatic bean. Occasionally, I have time to read a few pages of E.B. White’s essays before work, and a sense of settling within the jump of the coffee before I go to the office is lovely. 

Last night, I had a dream that I ran into a teacher of mine from college, though it was really more of a mixture of her and the other inspirational teachers I’ve had throughout the years. She and I spoke chit chat about what I am doing, what she is doing. In my dream, we were at a department store and she was with her family, and I was by myself. She talked about working on some new novels, and how much she loved that she could do what she wanted and get paid for it. When I woke up from sleeping, I realized, I am not doing what serves me best. I am taking too much time in front of the television, shopping, diversion, diversion, diversion. There is a balance, and I am a perfectionist, and I really think that at this point in my life I need the discipline. Maybe it is because of the turning of the season, the beginning of a new year and all that resolution stuff, but I think it is also enough time of being out of the academic world and recognizing that in order to maintain that part of myself, to remember that I am more than a workhorse in the working world, I write. And the coffee pot helps.


Also, check out my new website at www.exhaleasheville.com FINALLY finished it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Expecting Greatness.


There is a fault line between reading E.B. White’s essays in the morning and then getting to work and getting lost in Facebook for half an hour. At first, it is interesting. People I had completely forgotten about, wondered what they were up to, how we were living our lives after high school. I looked at some profiles of random people I knew from high school. They were pretty much the same- same money, same makeup, a bit older, some prettier, some with their own houses, impressive jobs. I turn it back on myself, judging their life vs mine. Stellar beach house and Louis Vuitton bag, salary, fancy shoes and perfect dimples. Facebook gives the mirage of the life you think about. That people actually make it. And I want it- but then again, do I really? What is it that I am really looking for? 

When it gets right down to it, I am more of an E. B. White person than Louis Vuitton in Paris. I don’t think you can win in that life. There is always the next best to be, the prettier, the wealthier, the more impressive. Friends competing. When White writes about New England in the winter, Maine, the quiet magnitude of the forest and the pleasant life, I recognize it. The immediate happiness, the opportunity for sitting next to a fire and listening to music, true recognition of the love in my boyfriend’s eyes, regardless of how I look in heels and jewelry (though of course I do indulge from time to time). 

In all reality, I think, I’m happier in the quieter life. In the mountains of North Carolina, the steady hum outside my window at night of insects and the occasional dog barking, my pup sleeping peacefully at my feet. My happiness in what I read and write, in true friendship, in the changing color of the leaves. I like the not trying. I did it for a while in high school. I guess I could do it if I wanted to. But really, I’m happier wearing the softer colors and Danskos and hiking along the Blue Ridge. Of course, a wicked beach house in Chatham would be nice. Enough money to do whatever I please. Traveling to Versailles. Who wouldn’t? But at the end of the night, I’d trade all money in the world for a satisfaction deep in my heart. I’d rather hear the crunch of leaves under my sneakers than the pavement under heels. I’d rather be free from others’ expectation and live up to my own.



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Spin off on writing prompt about home. Welcome back to my blog....

I never wanted to leave my home. 

When I was little, I told my mother I would go to Merrimack College because it was still in Andover and so I could still live in our house. She smiled and said, “We will see how you feel when you are older.” “No,” I responded, “I will never want to leave.” Well, I now live in Western North Carolina, and I do miss my home. Especially in the fall. There is something special about Massachusetts and the crisp Autumn air. It feels familiar, yet new. Changing. It reminds you to look at yourself since last year when the leaves crunched underfoot. Where have you been since last time the leaves were falling? Since the sweaters started to be worn and boot shopping became a must? 

For me, last fall I was still in college, beginning my last year as a student. I was happy to be there yet done with it in many ways. It felt monotonous. I was taking a John Crutchfield class, which is always a plus in my book (and many journal entries whether I liked it or not), but somehow always encouraging and truly believing in his students’ writing. I recently emailed this professor of mine, to connect, find out if he was in Berlin (he is!), and for some advice on my graduated-non-writing-ness. I thought for sure it would be something like, “Well, maybe you aren’t a writer,” for that was my thought  to myself. This thought has been haunting me for the last few months as I transitioned from full time writing student to full time project manager for a web company in WNC. What do I have to write about? Who cares about my life (I was writing a memoir last year)? 



Instead, his response was typical Crutchfield. Full belief in me as a writer, reminding me that we all go through these lulls, and fortunately, at some point, you will pick up your pen once again. Truthfully, I didn’t totally believe him. Yet, instead of letting the dull thud of my own doubt knock around in my head, I let his words saturate my mind. My fears of my writing not being as great as the Greats still abound. My fear of not being a good writer after college exist. But at least I picked up the pen again.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Snippet into my book...

Oh yes, in the works. Here is a piece of a piece that may or may not make it in to the finished product, but one that I find comical. Aunt Debbie. Pullin out the stops.

Thanks to my boi Dan for inspiring me to post. Check out his blog at http://killinitinnc.blogspot.com

My background is different from a lot of people. Growing up pagan, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist sets me up in an interesting situation.

Plus, I currently live in the south.

I specifically remember going to my cousins’ bar mitzvahs and family celebrations, and the older I got, the more I received the question: "Have you found a nice Jewish boy yet?", My overmakeup-ed aunt would ask me with that intense New York accent. "What are you doing? If you ever want to run away, you can always come live with me,” my aunt Debbie would say in a wicked thick NY accent. Her perfume offered a whiff into a life I never really knew. As if my suburban lifestyle was just oh so awful. I mean, living in New York would be nice. But it is not as if my unique religious background was making me want to run away. I think it was an endearing thing to say, as though she loves me so much and would want me to live with her, but I still found it rather odd. She would say it with a smile and I would laugh, and my mother would say “Debbie” and she would smile and hug me. My mother would lovingly take my hand and lead me onto the dance floor to sway to the music.

There were no artificial scents here. A true deadhead at heart (and at one point, on the road), my mother’s never shaven legs and free flowing skirt was a stark difference to my suburban town and Jewish family. Sure, I went through an awkward stage of being embarrassed like we all are, and wondering why she doesn’t wear makeup or care about driving a BMW like the rest of my town in Boston (or much of my New York family). We figured out together as I sat at the edge of the bathtub how to shave my legs, where she continually told me I did not need to if I did not want to. My health educator in 7th grade told us differently.

She looked like a seaweed in the ocean. I danced alongside her, and the older I got the more I ended up looking and dancing like her. She never drank (this is where we differ and I take on my father’s characteristic). My father would have a decent amount of wine or beer and end up on the dance floor doing the “boogaloo” as he coined it, which equated to him doing something looking like he was squishing a bug into the floor. But I think it was my mother who instilled this incredible joy for moving the body to music, sans the booze.
 
 The pagan part of my childhood is from my mother-- she is kind of like the Jewish hippie earth loving deadhead. The gem. The super sweet, married at 22 to my father, and commenced to having four children and living not in New York or New Jersey (gasp) but in Boston. He was a journalist, a much calmer and put together self made American dream of Swedish immigrants. They fell in love, and one day while walking on the beach he said, “So, do you like, wanna get married or something?”.

Mama bear and I in San Francisco circa 2010

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rejuvenation. Relaxation. And fantastic adventures on the horizon!

The past few weeks have been so nourishing and revitalizing! It is so nice to have the time to relax, strengthen, and stretch... funny enough, that is my tagline for my classes. I am planning a yoga retreat with my friend and yoga instructor Sarah Jean to Peru in June, so stay tuned for updates on that amazing adventure.

The easiest summation for this blog post may be as a list of some of the rejuvenation I have experienced the last few weeks. Hopefully it will inspire you to seek out what it is you are looking for...

Soak in hot springs
Hike all around the Blue Ridge Mountains with my dog
Eat delicious food including sushi and chocolate cake
Spend time with family
Make new friends and hang out with them
Go on awesome dates, including a yoga date and a writing lecture date
Attend writing lectures- especially free ones
Work and make money... and then go shopping
Revamp and rework your workout routine
Go out to dinner with yourself. Also, go out to dinner with friends
Go to hip hop shows
Go running
Drink hella ginger tea
Play pool and drink beer (but not too much of it. This applies to both pool and beer)
Drink almond milk lattes
Read
Write
Repeat
my brother and I at a cool bookstore in Portsmouth, NH. It is the sister bookstore of Raven Books in Cambridge, both of which are stellar.

Ms Wishnick at Max Patch, NC

The Royal Baby