I decided to burn my journals. I know, it was kind of a big deal. They were tucked away in a grocery bag on the top of my closet and every time I glimpsed them I felt burdened. If I were to suddenly die, would I want anyone reading my private, messy thoughts? Absolutely not! It was like I had a bomb on my top shelf. Before I struck the match, I read through them, sometimes skimming and other times absorbed by my ideas, my worries, things I found funny in the world. And then I started asking around, what were my friends doing with their journals? Had they read their mother’s diaries? I wrote about the burn here. I’d love to know what you plan on doing with your journals, or, if you’ve read a loved one’s private pages. Shoot me a note.
Here’s a confession. I’m ridiculously weak when it comes to the crack pipe of likes on my Instagram feed, on FB, and to the sweet ding of an incoming text or email. I’ve definitely noticed a shift in my attention span. And the pathetic thing is, I’m the person in control of where I put my attention. Aren’t I?
Here comes the irony, my device is saving me from my device. I’m certain most of you know about Freedom, an app that allows you schedule lock downs, denying your computer internet access. But you might not know about Forest. It’s an app that rewards you with the growth of virtual trees when you commit to NOT looking at your phone. (I see you shaking your head at me!) Say you commit to 90 minutes of no phone, you’ll grow a tree! Build your forest! Earn points to get new varieties of trees! And, if you fail…your tree dies. That stricken tree skeleton will populate your forest to remind you to be stronger. Go ahead, judge. But you might find that while you work on your novel, your stories or essays, you grow a forest as beautiful as mine
I also kept Grace Paley by my side. Something about her gossipy, smart voice makes me feel I’m at a beloved auntie’s kitchen table. Paley says, “The outside world will trivialize you for almost anything if it wants to. You may as well be who you are.” I brought along, Grace Paley, The Collected Stories to read before sleep each night. Paley also says, “But what’s a writer for? The whole point is to put yourself into other lives, other heads—writers have always done that. If you screw up, so someone will tell you, that’s all.” Unshackling screwing up from shame and failure is a great gift.
I was in DC last week and had a chance to eat at the fantastic Tail Up Goat. Not only was the food amazing, the wine delicious, but the staff was so much fun to be around. My husband and I sat at the bar and chatted with Jo Beth, who didn’t even realize her name came straight out of Little Women. One of the many delights was a vegetarian cabbage, apple butter and sweet potato dish. The best thing about it? Delicata squash chips which I am going to try to duplicate at home. Sprinkle them on soup? MmmHmm. Substitute them for croutons in a salad? You bet. Eat them to revive from an afternoon slump? Yes, please. I found a couple recipes online, here and here, depending upon whether sweet or spicy is your jam.