Now You See It
by Jennifer Paros
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
~ Marcus Aurelius
I had just gone grocery shopping and, at the request of my teenage son, bought a new kind of cereal. When I returned home, I mentioned it to my husband, showed him the box, and put it away. But by evening I could not find the cereal. I searched everywhere, including neighboring cabinets and places that didn’t make sense. I checked my son’s room; perhaps he’d decided to have some as a snack straight from the box. That was not the case. But my inquiry garnered his interest and soon he too combed the kitchen with no success.
We laughed at the unsolved mystery – though mildly tormented. When my husband returned home, I mentioned it to him and he too, like the third domino in a line, toppled over and succumbed to searching. I watched dispassionately as he explored the turn-style where we kept cereal, around and underneath the shelf, then onto surrounding cupboards in one last failed attempt. I decided then to let it go. It seemed a familiar story with a somehow inevitably happy ending.
The next day, my husband went to the cabinet to get granola and found The Missing Cereal in with the other cereal. He then Sherlock-ed an explanation. e theHeHeThe cereals we buy come mostly in brown boxes except for the granola; it’s the one in the white box. The new cereal was in a white box but we all thought it was in a brown one. Because the new cereal box was white, we mistook it for the other and didn’t “see” it. The box was never missing; we just couldn’t find it because we believed it was brown. For hours, our reality was “the cereal is gone”. Its’ absence was fact-based. But our facts came and went with shifts in our perception. more...
Writing is Like Yoga
I avert my eyes as I walk past a cluster of Lululemon clad women, and shift my generic yoga mat from the right side of my body to the left, in an attempt to disguise it amongst the sea of expensive Manduka’s. I’ve been coming to this yoga class religiously for the last two months, and the cheerful instructor working the front desk calls out, “Hi Skylar!” I don’t bother correcting her this time nor the three times before. Skye…it’s just Skye. I give her a half-smile and eye the colorful row of Yogitoes towels for sale behind the counter. The super-absorbent, flashy-colored, ultra-grippy, perfectly mat-sized towels hiding behind their sixty-two dollar price tags mock me, and I clutch my giant, blue-striped beach towel close to my chest.
In the quiet of the hot room I examine myself in the three walls of floor to ceiling mirrors. Thighs still touching in the middle, belly not flat enough, generic mat rolling up at the corners…not good enough. I listen to the perfectly toned and tanned and manicured women laughing and chattering through the thin walls. I want desperately to be one of them. I want to float into the studio and find my place amongst the giggles and the air kisses, picking up my gossip and stories from the day before as naturally as children picking up the same game recess after recess.
After class I scurry out of the room while everyone else relaxes in savasana; their mouths peacefully turned up at the corners and their eyes gently closed. I had spent the last hour forcing my body into painful postures, pushing myself past my “edge,” and driving myself mad in attempts to calculate the calories burned. more...
This or That or These or Those
by Cherie Tucker
If you bring out two desserts to a guest and ask which one the guest prefers, you might say, “Would you like this” and show the brownie or “ would you like that” and indicate the snickerdoodle. The guest will know which you are referring to as you raise each plate with the cookies on them.
The problem arises when you are using the plurals of this and that. The plural of this is these, indicating more than one item near you.
These will come in handy on your trip.
The plural of that is those, indicating that they are farther away.
Please take those to the kitchen when you go.
The felony occurs when you add the unnecessary (and incorrect) “ones,” as in “these ones” or “those ones.” The plural is already taken care of by the plural pronouns, these and those. Unfortunately, you hear the redundant “these ones” often when people are asked which item they prefer, as in “Should I buy these ones or those ones?” more...
The Meditative Pep Talk
Years ago—via the work of Gabriele Rico, Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—I learned about the right brain vs. left brain, the creator vs. the critic, the writing of the shitty first draft, the generative power of flow. These concepts helped me a lot as a writer. They helped me surrender to the flow (the dream, the trance) of writing. Writing unharnessed, I could feel my unconscious do its work. When I was in the flow, words poured onto the page; patterns and meanings emerged.
And yet there were competing voices. Voices that said writing is hard. Really, really hard. The boot camp voices: You must be disciplined. You must keep your butt in the seat. The existential voices: You have to open a vein and bleed on the page. You must kill your darlings. The masochist: If you don’t suffer, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t sacrifice your life to your art, you are a poser.
These competing, contradictory voices fought inside me. As a result, I experienced stretches of flow and confidence, followed by expanses of scarcity and deep doubt. I wrote numerous short pieces, but I stopped several books fifty pages in. more...