the Muse

climb

somedays She grips you like a lover, other

times She just grabs you like a scrap

of paper . . . writes something down

on your heart… this thought

is yours, it is for YOU…please

SEE IT… cuz if you are busy

not feeling your life, She uses

whatever . . . a fence . . . a flower

a friend . . . the fall

of a load-bearing wall
© Seaver, 2015

1. Anaphora on Me: My favorite review ever was when B called me a “polyglot.”

as-above

2. A guy in my group at the famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop I attended always wrote on my work, “enough w/the ellipses” and crossed them out.   I like love ellipses… they are so SOC (stream of consciousness), so conversational…  so thought-full.  So  “I could keep going…” because “I’m still thinking” about all this…  I like using them and I like it when others use them.  So this guy criticizes my use of … which only makes me want to use … more (3. OK, I just outted some passive-aggressiveness here).  I think I’ll start including them on grocery lists and client invoices—right after the Balance Due total.  Maybe even when I sign my name:  Leeanne…or Liana.  (See what I did there?)

4. My three children are all named after a person and a place. I kinda want a do-over on one first name because it doesn’t fit him all that well, and he doesn’t like it so much. Maybe we should have held off until his personality started showing up. That’s what my kids did with their new kitten because they couldn’t decide between Seamus or Kitty Man or Clement Parmalie.

Maybe someday my son will choose a name for himself that works better—fine with me.  Do what you gotta do so you can Be Who You Really Are…like the poet/performance artist at said Iowa Writer’s Workshop who renamed herself “Blueberry Morningstar.” Apparently, this feels better than “Louise Johnson” when demonstrating how to make noises with your body and pencil to an audience of sardonic writers.

5. I genuinely enjoy smart, tasteful cursing.  In my writing group, (www.lakeeffectwritersguild) all members are required to demonstrate intelligent use of the F word in order to remain in good standing. So it was with no small disappointment that I heard my friend Kristine, who had just polished off her second margarita, announce that her New Year’s Resolution was to stop cursing. She wanted her sons to be able to recall something honorable about her, but she doubted that she had many admirable qualities, at least compared to her own mother.  She felt guilty that she hadn’t been a more exemplary mom, but maybe she could just accomplish this one small thing. I could tell she had started out trying to say something funny, and was as discomfited as the rest of us by this turn towards vulnerability.

The light, tipsy mood of the New Year’s Eve party faltered as we heard her confession. I thought I should maybe save my friend by owning some dark truth of an equivalent nature… just dismal enough to norm regret, but not spiral us down too far, it was New Year’s Eve after all.  Before the pause in the room got really awkward, my other friend Suzy blurted out “what the hell kind of resolution is that?” And Tom jumped right in with “yeah, f#@k that.”  A group release of expletives and laughter rescued the evening, the glasses were refilled, and the subject quickly changed to the canoe trip we all took on the Meramec last spring when Pete got Ann’s swimsuit off WHILE she was driving home because the sand in it was just chapping her ass, (she didn’t want to pull over to strip down because she’d lose our caravan). In the interests of curse-accuracy, Rick pointed out that this was not how to use ‘chapping your ass’, and Ann said, well, you didn’t see my ass. Pete said “well, I sure did” and Ann suggested that maybe he’d like to kiss her ass.

The rest of the night we played board games, drank more margaritas, ate too many rich foods, and did our level best to shoot Kris’s resolution all to hell.

6. I like roller skating and ice skating… and not reading long blocks of copy on a blog. For being a person who finds it hard to read long blocks of copy on a blog, I sure am writing some long blocks of copy.

7. I apologize to anyone who also doesn’t like reading long blocks of copy on a blog…sorry. You’re welcome.

Liana, Moon

I’m a little unfocused sometimes.

8. But speaking of audiences, once I attended a lecture on reincarnation by famous psychiatrist and author, Brian Weiss, MD. He said he was going to attempt to hypnotize the entire room for a past-life regression.  I was skeptical, but settled into the relaxation exercise, the whole while thinking, rats, I’m still here and I’m still me.  Finally, he said, “ok, I’m going count back from three, and when I get to one, just look down at your shoes.” I slowly opened my eyes and saw smartly pressed wool pinstripe pants leading right down to a man’s polished wing-tips, circa maybe 1912.

9. I travel a lot for work, mostly by air. Typically, there is an oversized John Deere executive passed out beside me, blissfully unaware of his snoring or that his black leather wing-tips are squeaking rhythmically against the seat frame in front of me. The woman in that seat is coughing virally in the general direction of, but not actually into, her bent elbow, her head craned sideways so the germs are propelled directly back into my breathing space.  Sometimes I just loathe air travel, but not always. There was that time an inexperienced father traveling alone with his miserable wailing baby took me up on my offer to walk the aisle with her.  I swaddled her snuggly into her blankets, sang with the hum of the engines, and felt her little body relax into sleep. When I looked up, everyone’s grateful, soft smiling eyes were canonizing me.

light-spores

10. Global Warming is my fault because I voted for Ralph Nader.  Jon told me I’d just thrown my vote away, and that people like me cost Al Gore the election…I explained that I’ve just grown too apathetic to find a greater motivation at election time than cancelling out my father’s ultra-conservative vote.  Jon shook his head, sighed, and told me that I could not afford to remain so blissfully unaware of the world around me.

I only wish I was blissfully unaware of the world around me…if only.

His story starts this way . . .

The Pulse of Hope Cover

“The first poets I admired were the trees. It was a blessing to be surrounded by nature during childhood. It gave me a sensory vocabulary for things that couldn’t be contained in words, by which I suppose I mean feelings, but even more than feelings. Does that make sense? For me, nature expresses truth in a way that explains joy, suffering, irony, and people. Growing up as I did, I had to work hard at understanding the world, and my place in it. I was born William Allen Reed on July 18, 1927, on the backside of Kokomo, Indiana, to a family too poor to feed another child. It was the summer of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Al Capone . . . just before the world went dark into the Depression.

We were already living in dire conditions before the Crash of 1929, but things went from bad to worse then. It was a hard-scrabble existence. There were eight of us kids, four to a bed inside the thin walls of the small frame sharecropper’s cottage we rented. We had a coal-burning stove in the middle of the living room as the sole source of heat, and an unheated outhouse out back. There was never enough food and what we did have was often courtesy of local county assistance program. There were no special treats, birthday cakes, or Christmas presents, except for what came from the county. Once I got a light blue sweater, generically given to a “Boy, age 9,” but I can’t recall anything else except the raw feeling of not having what other families seemed to have. It was a stark, meager life made tolerable by my mother and a growing awareness of the beauty that I easily could have missed.

My mother Aldine helped me glimpse the bigger picture. She would show something beautiful just to me, of all her children. She would point out a rose or honeysuckle and in that pointing was a woman seeing more than her bitter, angry, unemployed husband and her hungry, anxious children. It was a vision she shared with me, a quiet leaf of a boy who desperately needed to see that there was more to life. That’s what comes of reading trees and flowers and nature—a grasp of the finer side of one’s circumstances and people. People are a lot like plants. Life has given me ample opportunity to gain fluency in this perspective.

There in the quiet hunger of my childhood, I was a detached observer of the passing scenes. I was raggedy, barefoot, underfed, and hollow-eyed with hair like oat straw. I felt estranged from much of life, a survival tactic no doubt. I’m not sure I can explain how I changed from that skinny, confused kid to the young man who decided he was going to be a doctor; or how I went from a doctor to one of the earliest successful heart surgeons, and then from the surgeon to a horseman raising racing thoroughbreds, and a philanthropist.  A lot of people have asked me to tell the story of how I did that. If it helps anyone to read it, then it’s worth a try.”

It took me about a year and a half to write William Reed’s memoirs . . . he talked and I listened.  I came to know his “voice” as well as the way he wanted to sound, which is an even greater challenge for a ghostwriter.  Then I wrote.  And wrote.  AND WROTE.  When I wasn’t writing, I was taking pictures of his beautiful horse farm where the thoroughbreds would race over to the fence in hopes that I had a peppermint for them.  I knew they would stop in time, but the presence of such speed and strength never ceased to make my heart leap.  The book cover photo is one of mine–didn’t know it would end up on the book when I took it.  But it surely belongs there.

We launched the book on November 1, 2014.  The Pulse of Hope is available at http://www.thepulseofhope.com or from Rainy Day Books:  http://www.rainydaybooks.com/WilliamReed