Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Today was one of those rare days that takes you by force and leaves you nothing but the shell of your former self.

I got to meet Emma Lou Thayne at her cabin in Mountain Aire. (A dream come true, though there was no tea.)

The bonus being that my mother--she who introduced me to this great woman, writer, poet, thinker--was with me. Underneath a wilderness of pines we sat and listened to Emma Lou talk about her latest book, The Place of Knowing, a book she calls a spiritual autobiography. It's the story of her soul--don't you love that concept? I can't wait to write my own.

By the time we returned home I was so tired I couldn't see straight. I couldn't stand straight. I tried to cuddle with the kids on the couch but my mouth would fall open, my head would flip back and my eyes would shut slowly like a barn gate. By the way, what is it about kids seeing their parents in a consciously vulnerable position that makes them get crazy? Ever was trying to roost on my head and The Chief was attempting to use my lap as a springboard. Finally Chup roped them into the car and took them to, I can't remember, because it wasn't long after that I went dark in my head. And by 6:30 I was in bed for the night. That's right, I said to Chup, "I am going to bed and I don't intend to get out of it until morning."

That Chup fed the two Circus Acts, washed them, wrangled them into pajamas and put them to bed. And it's not like I've never done that feat solo before myself, but I certainly have never done it because my spouse was lounging in bed feeling lifeless. So, three cheers for him. By the way, I am still in bed. I stay true to my word.

All of this to say, I have so many thoughts about today, but I have a fear that if I don't record the most poignant ones tonight I will lose them by morning. I intend to have a tsunami of sleep tonight--possibly spilling over in the afternoon of tomorrow--not likely but one can always dream.

*Emma Lou explained that those of us who are called to be writers, the writers of life, have to pay attention in a different way. We have to reserve quiet time to write what we feel. I've always loved Emma Lou's pledge to her children, "I love you with all my heart, but not all my time" meaning that the solitude time was part of her ability to thrive. This paying attention and seeking for quiet time goes along with two ideas I've had lately, one about balancing the senses (seeing as much as hearing, touching as much as tasting) and another about this quote, "I hold this be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other." Rainer Maria Rilke. Also, I've come to realize that most of my frustrations can be worked out either by hard work (labor) or solitude. When scrubbing the sticky dishes isn't clearing my mind, a walk by myself usually will.

For more on this, you've got to read her first Huffington Post essay called "Learning to Go Away" I absolutely love that she's writing for the HP and her determination to be what she feels she needs to be in Mormon culture (my spirit always tells me what I need to be me, but many times I reject it because of my culture, WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK? Emma Lou seems to have stopped caring what people will think, and in turn she's found a balance of self and religion. What a spirit!)

*When I met Emma Lou today she looked at me directly and said, "Tell me about you," and I said, "Well, I'm a writer. But I have a really hard time calling myself that," and she said to me, "I don't have a hard time saying I am a writer, but I have a hard time calling myself a poet. That seems more pretentious." And this is a eighty-six year old woman who writes prolifically, daily poems. Thousands in her lifetime. Then when she signed my book she gave me a command to 'Write!" amongst other empowering words, which meant more to me than she will ever know.

*She says she lives without feedback. "Don't need it," she told me. Then, "Write what is in your head. Write for yourself, not for an audience. These essays are for you, and let them teach you about yourself." I know exactly what she meant by that. Sometimes I sit down and write with an idea, but by the time I have finished, the idea is completely turned around I sit back, re-read and suddenly understand myself better. SO THAT'S HOW I FEEL. Or, SO THAT'S WHAT'S BOTHERING ME. (Yes, in caps.)

*"And maybe down the road your opinion changes from what you once wrote. That's fine. That's part of being a writer."

*When my mom and I had a chance this evening  to talk about the day (she came and got in bed with me) it was about how Emma Lou made us feel more than anything she said. She had this extraordinary presence about her, a human who had worked through thoughts and ideas, had sloughed off the unnecessary and embraced the necessary. When I think about her, her skin, her smile, her energy I think about gold. A golden human who shines with durability and grace. I wanted to tell her all about my thoughts and ask her all my questions, I think mainly because she is not only a person who I admire, but a woman and a Mormon. If some of my Mormon friends who suffer with the dogma could sit and chat with Emma Lou, I think they'd find strength in their resolve.

My prototype for my  Heavenly Mother is Emma Lou Thayne, something tells me I am not far off.

Thanks Michele and the Foothill 7th ward for letting us crash your party. What a party it was!

And now, good night.