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The Feeling of Perfection


by Jennifer Paros


The true perfection of man lies not in what man has, but in what man is.

~ Oscar Wilde


perfectionSmallWe often reassure each other that nothing’s perfect. There’s supposed to be some sort of comfort in that, a bit of release from the trap of striving for the unachievable or judging what we have as not good enough. It’s supposed to, I think, help us accept the “eh” aspect—the aspect of our experience that’s not quite what we want. Yet while we bemoan the grisliness of perfectionism and plot our escape, a desire for perfection often remains. It remains because the feeling of perfection is actually available to us regardless of how things may appear or how we may judge them.

In the television show Say Yes to the Dress, brides seek the perfect wedding dress in a posh New York bridal boutique. The show focuses on both the hunt and, of course, the juncture in which bride and gown find one another in rapturous recognition. So many brides, so many dresses, therefore so many “perfect” dresses. But what is perfect for one is often highly imperfect to another. So the definition of “perfect” is acknowledged as subject to the individual’s desires and particular perspective. When a bride finds her gown, it is a coming together—an experience of rightness, alignment with the way she wants to feel and its outward expression. Despite the show’s limitations as entertainment and its repetitive nature, it provides a good example of “perfect” not being about the achievement of a faultless thing but about the person’s moment of feeling perfection—meaning, feeling right within themselves. more...


Three Ways to Reignite Our Writing


by Ingrid Schaffenburg




We all experience times with our writing where it just isn’t flowing, when it becomes a real effort just to put a coherent sentence together, and we fear we’ve lost our mojo. Times like this we begin to wonder if we’ll ever hit that zone again. The longer we write, the more we realize that this is just a normal part of the creative cycle. We all have our good days and we all have our bad days. Even though we may be aware that it’s totally normal, sometimes we need a little reminder on how to get back into our groove. Here are a few suggestions to reignite your writing when you find yourself in a slump:


1. Switch It Up


If your daily routine starts to feel dull and monotonous, it may be time to switch it up! Try visiting a café you’ve never been to and find a cozy spot to hole up for the afternoon. I have a favorite independent coffee shop and bookstore near me called The Wild Detectives that’s so unique with its bungalow setting and thought-provoking reads that I get inspired every time I walk inside. They serve wine and beer in addition to their coffee, so I get to sip on a cabernet with my manuscript and imagine I’m Parisian for a day, which always helps my writing. No idea where to go? Visit sites like yelp.com or gogobot.com where you can search for a spot by area and read reviews. more...


Phil Goes for Coffee Again


by K.E. MacLeod



He suspects people do not think as well of him as they once had. Or perhaps they never did, and he is just realizing it now. Or perhaps he is heading for a delusional state from which the only exit is the fog of medication. And, of course, by then it will be verifiably true that people don’t think of him as they once had.


Phil knows this metaphysical malaise is not uncommon when he (1) has had too much sleep, (2) has read a bunch of contemporary literary fiction and then (3) has spent time in the coffee shop eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. Though he knows this is a predictable chain of events, it is almost impossible to resist the impulse to enter into the emotional slurry. Which is why he is, once again, installed at a central table in the neighborhood bistro. Which is why he is listening to a family seated nearby with as much attention as possible while pretending to read a paperback.


The wife says, “It takes forty-five minutes to get downtown.” She spills about a quarter of her triple-pump, sugar-free hazelnut, soy latte on the tile floor. Immediately she yoo-hoos at the barista and announces “There is coffee on the floor.”


The husband says, “It is hard to see coffee on this type of floor.” He gets up and makes a trip to the condiment counter to get a stirring stick, tracking light brown wet stuff from table to counter and back.


The mother-in-law says, “They have scones here.” She provocatively rattles a small paper bag. The wife reaches over, breaks off a piece of the bagged scone and tucks it into her mouth. The mother-in-law laughs while moving the little bag to her side and comments “There is no line at the cash register.” more...





Passing Ships


by Joan Frank



A year ago I drove to a pretty town up north, to speak to a group of seniors. Their association's monthly event featured a catered lunch, door prizes, and an author as speaker: this time, me.


They were mostly widows, some quite old—reminding me, depressingly, of the accuracy of actuarial tables. Some appeared vibrant and fit, curious, mischievous. (These latter, I sensed, were the ones who'd live longest.) Others seemed vague and infirm; still others indifferent and glum.


Any writer with eyes in her head registers, with a bolt of shock, that she will one day become some version of one of these individuals. After the shock comes bewilderment. Are such personal fates (vital, dim, gloomy) happenstance? Or are they chosen? It felt like smacking into a gong to gaze at this group, because it was clear that the clamorous world had—fairly or unfairly—turned away from them. What might each day hold for these people now?


As I ate lunch at one of many filled tables in the room, I tried to learn about my tablemates. They had hobbies. They read—in scattershot ways. They doted on grown children, grandchildren. Overall they seemed a bit aimless: some more fatalistic and cheerful about it than others.


I could not ignore the obvious. One huge appeal of today's event for these elders was that it filled time. Most of the people I know, including me, never feel we have enough time. These souls had too much. The very brightness of the daylight through the windows felt—considered through their eyes—like something to be endured, an indictment. Was this the Promethean fate waiting for us all, the unfunny punch line?







How Ya Doin'?


by Cherie Tucker





It’s such a common greeting, like “How are you?” that people don’t really think about it, nor do they really care about your answer. But you should.


The most common answer to that how-ya-doin’ question is, “Good, I’m doin’ good.” What most people don’t realize is that they have just said that they are performing charitable acts.


Doing is an activity, and the question “how ya doin’?” asks how that activity is being performed, which requires an adverb, a word that describes how things are done. They can be done well or brilliantly or even be just fine. But they aren’t done good.


You can be doing good if you are building houses for Habitat for Humanity, for example, or curing a disease. But the question wasn’t “how are you?” If it had been, you could say, “I’m good” or “I’m well.” One answer is about your state of being, and the other about your health. more...


November 2014

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