Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Embracing the Masters

In recent days and weeks I’ve felt the need to commune with, to consult with, some masters. Whether it has been my own anxieties or fears or concerns about my life, my relationships, or my work, or the reality of having been bit on the upper lip by my dear dog Beau, I’ve recognized I needed some help.

In earlier posts on this blog I talked about perhaps consulting a psychiatrist, getting on anti-depressants, and a number of other assorted potential solutions. But consulting with the masters has really made a world of difference.

Eckhart Tolle is a master of awakening to the presence, or the Being, that is within us, the awareness that we are, that we exist, and that our existence is really defined by what is happening “now.” We only live in the now, not in the past (unless we choose to, which is generally not very healthy) or in the future, which doesn’t yet exist, so how can we live in it? All of our life, every single day is experienced in this one present moment. As long as we recognize that, indeed, embrace it.

Curtis Scott is an expert dog trainer. He came by the house last Sunday evening. Within five minutes he said, of Beau, “He’s a good dog. There are some issues, he needs leadership, he needs to know who’s boss, but he’s a good dog.” Turns out my wife and I have created a bit of a spoiled brat, and we weren’t paying attention to some of what he (and our other dog, Max) needs. Discipline being one of those things.

Tolle and Scott are masters. They have studied their subjects for many years, they have trained and observed and read and listened and heard and seen things that give them insight and wisdom. How foolish would it be of me to not at least listen to their words, their suggestions, their thoughts? And, when I find them compelling and sense-making, how foolish of me would it be to not work to adjust my own behavior such that I can learn and implement the lessons of their wisdom?

I am working (an irony there!) to be in a state of non-resistance, of acceptance, of embrace, of learning, or growing, of maturing to their wisdom. I have small successes and smaller failures. This is okay. What happens happens. What is this moment is, in fact, what is. (And, this is not dependent upon what the meaning of the word “is” is, as William Jefferson Clinton once famously uttered.)

A friend and colleague called me earlier today to give me an update on a project we’ll be working on together in the upcoming days. She told me what she knew about the project and then said something along the lines of, “There might be a 5-minute video scene, but I won’t know about that until Thursday, if that’s okay.” I replied, “Well it is, so I guess it is okay.” Then I joked, “No, it’s not okay, you need to tell me know!” Isn’t that absurd? And yet, how often do we do that sort of thing rather than accepting that what is is? If she doesn’t know, she doesn’t know, and my wishing that she would know won’t change that. Accepting that fact is liberating. Really.

This lesson I learned from a master. I embrace it.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Taking Things Personally

We all do it from time to time, I suppose. Or, at least many of us do. We take things personally in ways or at times that are not technically appropriate. What do I mean? Well, some of us (I plead guilty to having done this in the past) can, at times, even take something as manifestly not personal as the weather personally. Arrgghh, that wind, that cold, that rain. And, what?? More snow today? It’s the end of March for crying out loud! Like Lear, we rail against the bitter winds that care not a whit about us.

Another example: Our Sheltie, Beau, bit me on the lip the other night. It hurt (still does a little), it was scary, and it is certainly neither acceptable nor appropriate behavior from a dog. But what it wasn’t is: personal. A dog doesn’t distinguish between a nip on the hand or the leg or the face. My wife Gloria and I had a good conversation with a highly experienced dog trainer a short time ago. The gentleman’s name is Curtis Scott and he will be coming by tomorrow evening to get to know Beau and to try to properly diagnose the situation and create a plan to move forward. I don’t know that we’ve completely committed to keeping Beau, but it seems at least worth making this effort to see if we can get control of the problem, reset the roles, and (hopefully) be able to enjoy Beau in a healthier environment again. If we can’t, we’ll do what we need to do.

But I have certainly learned one very important lesson already. Taking this incident personally is not going to lead to a productive way forward. Taking the bite personally leads only to fear and misgivings – and, you know what? I’m kind of over that.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Dog Bites Man

Okay, so I really don’t want this blog to be a downer or anything, but sometimes we don’t exert very much control over what happens in our lives. Yesterday’s news brought the troubling story about the effective end of American Theater Company’s ensemble and the better news that is the flip side of the story: the rebirth of American Blues Theatre, populated by so many artists for whom I have so much respect and affection.

Last night brought another story, the titular story: Dog Bites Man.

Beau is a 5 ½ year old purebred Sheltie who my wife and I adopted about a year and a half ago. Early on in his time with us, he occasionally nipped either Gloria or me. He’s bitten Gloria a couple times when she was brushing him, breaking skin more than once, but it somehow didn’t seem like a huge or insurmountable problem. He’d bitten me on my leg, once on my head when I playing a little too roughly with him, so I always let it go. Until last night.

The scene: Gloria and I are sitting on the couch watching a DVD. Beau is on the couch, lying down between us. At one point, I leaned down to kiss Beau on his head (a gesture I’ve successfully performed hundreds of times), and Beau bit my upper lip, leaving two gaping gashes in the process. The bleeding was, well, profuse. Today, I have a fat lip with two black scabs on it – neither attractive nor comfortable. As much as it breaks my heart, we are going to have to part with Beau. We’re exploring if there is a Sheltie rescue group that might help, we’ve already contacted PAWS (where we’d adopted him) to see if they will take him back. It saddens both of us, but there comes a time when enough is precisely that.

Yesterday when I was walking Beau and his much older brother (figuratively, not literally) Max, there were two different young children who stopped to pet the dogs. Had Beau bitten one of these children (which he didn’t, thankfully) the police would have him put down instantly. It’s a risk we can no longer take, I’m sorry to say.

Here’s to a better day tomorrow.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

When Families Split

My heart has been heavy today upon learning that twenty-three members of the American Theater Company (ATC) Ensemble have decided to break away from the theater and restart American Blues Theater, which is what ATC was first named when founded in 1985. Nearly one-half (eleven, to be precise) of the departing ensemble members were invited to join the ensemble during my tenure as that theater’s artistic director, between 1997 and 2002.

Let me be very clear: I wish each and every one of those artists (and they are all artists, and highly accomplished artists at that!) nothing but the best. I hope that American Blues Theater rises like the proverbial phoenix from what seems to be a very splintered, very sick ATC. For many years, these people were my family, my “chosen family,” as several of us liked to term it. We spent countless Thanksgivings and New Year’s Days together. We labored to produce plays and to find a way to squeeze two dollars worth of value out of every one dollar we spent together. We lifted many a beer and many a cocktail together. When one of us was sick or mourning, we comforted one another. When one of us suffered a loss – like the death of a family member – we were there for one other. We attended funerals, weddings, and baptisms.

I left my position as artistic director of ATC in October of 2002 because I felt certain that the theater could not only survive, but thrive, without me. And it did. I have had no formal relationship with the theater in these past nearly seven years, but I have continued to support it. I remain close friends with several ensemble members – both past and present, or, present until today – and I have always only wanted the theater to succeed. Today is a death of sorts. And a rebirth, I suppose. But death is always to be mourned. Or at least noted. Respected. As Arthur Miller said, “Attention must be paid.”

My old family is going through a difficult time. I send them my love and support and my very best wishes for happier times ahead. I am so very grateful to have been privileged to lead this extraordinary group of artists for six years, and yet also deeply saddened that the ensemble has been ripped asunder. I hope for healing, both for ATC and for the newly reconstituted American Blues Theater. Or, perhaps they will return to the original spelling, theatre. Either way, I wish them well.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Our Pragmatic President

Earlier tonight President Obama held his second prime-time news conference. He took questions from 13 different reporters from a wide variety of news outlets, including Univision, Fox News, and Stars and Stripes (the military’s newspaper), among others. After his speech, the pundits pounced: “He looked tentative.” “He looked tired.” “He was angry when our own Ed Henry (I was watching CNN) asked why it took him so long to express outrage at the AIG bonuses.”

Well, fortunately they replayed that clip. He didn’t seem angry to me. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “I don’t like to talk about something before I know what I’m talking about.” He didn’t raise his voice or furrow his brow or anything that might suggest that he was angry. He said, simply, and calmly, “I don’t like to talk about something before I know what I’m talking about.” (Or, something like that.)

What I saw was a president in command of the issues and thinking pragmatically. He said, “If we don’t deal with energy, health care, and education, we won’t have an economy that’s growing – at all.” He is absolutely right. So the White House is counting on 2.6% growth (in the near future) and the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) is expecting 2.2% growth in the near term. These four tenths of a percent matter hugely to the budget deficit we will be facing in years to come, but they aren’t THAT far away from each other.

This president looked into the camera and said, “We’re going to make mistakes. And, when we discover them, we’ll fix them.” “What a relief!” I say. “How refreshing!” I say. After eight long years of a president who couldn’t own up to any mistake, I find it terribly/wonderfully refreshing to hear a president say, “We’re going to make mistakes, and as soon as we spot them, we’re going to fix them.” How adult. How responsible. How accountable to the American voters is that?

What I saw tonight was a president who knew the issues, who demonstrated that he has thought about them very carefully, and who was willing to be open to another person or persons having a better idea than his. That’s leadership in my book. He said, “If Republicans or anyone else has a better idea how to fix the economy, I want to hear it.” Amen.

It’s time for us to come together as Americans. It’s time for us all to put our petty politics aside and work for the regeneration of our economy. I am not for a minute suggesting that we shouldn’t question President Obama’s or Treasury Secretary Geithner’s prescriptions for the economy. Rather, I’m suggesting that if we have better ideas then it is our duty to share them. In the meanwhile, we should support what they are trying to do. As Mr. Obama said tonight regarding the question about charitable donations: “A bus driver who makes $50,000, or $40,000 a year gets to deduct 28% of his charitable donations, but I (who make FAR more than that) get to deduct 39% of my charitable donations. That doesn’t seem fair.” You are right, Mr. President, it isn’t fair. And, it’s time for this to change!

I make far less than President Obama’s hypothetical bus driver and still contribute to charities. I don’t do it for the tax deduction, as I’m sure he doesn’t either. It’s nice, but it’s an after thought, a gimme, if you will.

Let’s back our president. He ain’t perfect, but he’s pragmatic, and that’s a far cry better than the last eight years!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Writers In the Storm (With apologies to Jim Morrison)

As I sit at my kitchen table this evening nursing a Jameson Irish Whiskey (the last of the night) I think – what? I’m thinking about the day, about my work, about my wife (she’s upstairs reading Tim O’Brien’s “In the Lake of the Woods” and if you haven’t read it yet, you should!) and, I’m thinking about my two dogs, lying on the floor on the rug in the center of the kitchen. One of them, Max, is old. He’s gotta be at least 14 by now, maybe 15. And Beau, Beau is around 5, he’s still a little young and very energetic. He’s a purebred Sheltie and he barks his head off at cars or trucks or really anything with wheels of any sort. Fortunately, he doesn’t bark all that much inside, mostly outside.

Today I wrote a bit, read a bit, walked a bit, visited with Gloria a bit, watched a movie with her (“I’ve Loved You So Long,” a wonderful film featuring Kristin Scott Thomas), and thought a lot. Nothing wrong with thinking. Sometimes it’s what we need to do the most. Especially if it is productive thinking. Thinking about what I will next tackle in my writing, thinking about how I can find a better, more perfect word for a story that is almost done, almost ready to send out into the world.

Earlier today I ran across this website (http://mfaconnect.com/) and it looked very interesting. I composed a posting and sent it along to them and they wrote me back saying my posting will be listed within a day or two. I think we writers benefit when we connect with one another, when we remind ourselves that we are not so alone as we might sometimes feel, so I sent the post. It’s an open invitation to connect, to communicate, to share. They tell me that there will be a link to this blog when they post what I wrote, and that’s great, because I want more connection with other writers, not less. I want to break our solitude, not romanticize it.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

This moment, now.

Sometimes, in the stillness of a night or in a moment of sweet repose there is a clarity heretofore unknown. An understanding of the machinations through which we put ourselves, hanging on to painful memories, bitter disappointments, and our own sins of omission and commission. How much have we held on to that which causes us pain? Or grief? Or sorrow? Or fear? Or, as Frank Conroy wrote of in his memoir Stop-Time, to “irrelevant tears?”

The thing is, I seem to at long last be learning, we get something from these feelings. We need to feel sad or small or angry or a failure or doomed. If we embrace those feelings, then we trick ourselves into thinking we will be immune from the pain when it is once and for all established that we, in fact, are sad or small or angry or a failure or doomed.

Problem is, it doesn’t work. Never has. Never will.

These terms are overly simplistic, wrongheaded, and self-tortuous at best. An emotion is just that, an emotion. Eckhart Tolle suggests (and for the record, I think he’s right) that if we allow ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling then it will soon simply matter less, hurt less, and do less damage. If we accept that “there is, at times, an unhappiness within us,” the mere act of acceptance begins to rob that unhappiness of its power. Because the thing to remember is: that unhappiness or fear or anger is not us, it is not you, it is not me – it is simply and solely a feeling that exists at a particular time. If we accept it and let it be okay, we soon learn that there are a bunch of other emotions we are capable of feeling at the same time. Gratitude, peace, calm, love.

We live in the moment that is, regardless of what we so often tell ourselves. I know that I spent more years than I care to mention spending all my energies (or nearly so) anticipating how GREAT things were going to be when x, y, or z happened. But it never really pans out that way, does it? Of course not. Why? Because by the time those things happen, we already have compiled a new list of x’s, y’s, and z’s that are required in order for us to be happy, to be content, to be whole.

We’re whole right this very second. This one. No, this one. This one. You see? It is always about the moment in which we are, the moment we live is this one right now. Enjoy it!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Laying One’s Self Off

Today I laid myself off. Put myself on furlough? Trotted myself over to the Illinois Department of Employment Security to apply for unemployment benefits for the first time in the nearly seventeen years that I’ve lived in this state.

Work has rather dried up. The last project my company (Russell Creative, Inc.) produced was in January. The last paycheck I was able to cut for myself was more than a month ago. So now I’ve laid myself off.

But think about that terminology for a moment. It’s patently ridiculous in some fundamental ways. I am, after all, still myself. The “self” that others recognize in me still exists, it’s not as if that “self” or “identity” has been released, let go, set aside for a time. I am me and I am always me – working or not, writing or not, fill-in-the-blanks. Only death will terminate my “me-ness,” my identity. And my identity is not what I do to make a living, what I do to keep food on the table and clothes on my back.

More accurate than “I am me” is “I am.” That’s it. It’s that simple. It’s the same for you. You are. You exist. You live.

Of course it’s not a terribly pleasant event to “lay one’s self off” but it’s important to maintain a perspective. Unemployment Insurance is just that: it’s insurance! My company has paid the premiums for years, now, and I’ve simply never filed a claim before today. I probably should have done so long before today. After all, if you get sick, do you not go see a doctor? (At least if it’s a serious enough illness and you have insurance.) If you have insurance, you use it. Why should it be different as regards unemployment insurance? Why should there be a stigma or a stain to filing for something to which we are entitled – not because the “state” should take care of us, nonsense! – but because we paid for it. I had to give myself a talking to in order to convince myself to file the claim, believe you me. I can be a stubborn so-and-so sometimes, nearly always to my own detriment, my own harm.

Therefore, new language: Today, I temporarily discontinued my employment with my company and filed for insurance benefits to help until the next project comes along or I find a different job. Isn’t that a tad bit less negative?


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Soul of Creative Writing

A couple of hours ago I finished rereading Richard Goodman’s terrific, charming, engaging, and insightful book, The Soul of Creative Writing. [Full disclosure: Richard was my mentor for my first term in Spalding University’s Brief Residency MFA in Writing program.] I first read the book just as my six months of working with Richard as a mentor was commencing. I’ve spent nearly six months with a different mentor – working in a different genre as well, fiction rather than creative nonfiction – but, as I’m returning to creative nonfiction for my final two semesters at Spalding, I was required to read Richard’s book again, as it is the Faculty Book in Common for my upcoming May residency.

I am so grateful that I “had” to read this book again. Richard’s breezy and confident narrative voice – dare I say avuncular? – is pitch perfect in each of these ten essays that he likes to describe as “a love letter to the English language.” Indeed, it is. If you care a whit about the English language, about words, then you simply must read this book!!!!!!!!!!!! (Those who have read the book already will carefully note how many exclamation points I used at the end of the last sentence. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.)

Richard’s writing is, quite simply, inspirational. His command of the language is impressive and his respect for it is readily apparent on every delicious page. (I know writers are counseled to avoid adjectives whenever possible, but sometimes they are required.)

The Soul of Creative Writing has recently been released in paperback, so do yourself a favor and surf on over to Amazon or walk down the street to your savvy independent bookseller and get yourself a copy right away. It’s that good.

Ever wonder how to approach finding the “exact right word” or “le mote juste,” as Richard’s hero Flaubert is said to have written of? Read this book. Want to know how strong and resilient punctuation is and what wonders a writer can accomplish through the creative use of punctuation? Read this book. Care about rubbing shoulders against some of the greatest literary figures in Western literature? Read this book. Now. Go on. Do it.

You’ll thank me.


Monday, March 16, 2009


Isn’t that a wonderful word? It carries a couple of meanings. On the most basic level, it is the act of making unambiguous, or, to put it another way, the attainment of clarity. It also has a linguistic meaning, which is the establishment of a single semantic or grammatical interpretation of a word or phrase – for instance the word “bass” can be both a fish and a low, male voice type. Disambiguation clears it up.

I’m using the former definition in regards to what I experienced this past weekend. I was mired in ambiguity, betwixt and between (to use a cliché), and struggling with anxiety – both of known and unknown causes. Finding myself in a bit of an existential quandary and facing some long-standing demons, I started to listen to and read Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” In it, he suggests that we (many, if not most of us) are driven by ego and thoughts, that we define ourselves by what we think and believe rather than who we really are behind our thoughts, behind the received wisdom that colors so much of our thinking and our behaviors. He talks about how we often take (perceive) negative events (even something as impersonal as a snowstorm) personally, as if the weather cares about us one whit!, one iota!, and demonstrates the awakening power of separating one’s self from an emotion and recognizing it for what it is, thereby defanging it of its power to cause anguish.

While this entry will in no way be a comprehensive study of Tolle’s book (I’m still reading it, after all), I would like to share one remarkable re-casting of the word “sin” that he provides early in the book: He writes, “Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering.” Wow. I love that definition. It makes so much more sense to me than my previous understanding of the word, which had something to do with doing bad things like stealing or lying or cheating on your taxes.

In this definition, Christianity’s “original sin” (a term with which I have never been comfortable) is not as harsh as it has always seemed to me. It is a missing of the mark, an error, or, for tennis fans, an unforced error. Isn’t that radically different than a clear “wrong?” Tolle writes of a “dysfunction inherent in the human condition.” This dysfunction is, largely, a confusion between the endless array of thoughts that stream through our minds constantly and the notion of who we really are. We think that our thoughts define who we are when, in reality, who we are is simply who we are. Behind the thoughts. In spite of the thoughts, perhaps. Our thoughts matter, of course, but they no more define who we are than what we order for lunch does.

My first posting to this blog was entitled “Embracing Ambiguity.” This evening, I am enjoying embracing disambiguity. Clarity. Peace. As Confucius said, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” I think the beginning of being able to do that is recognizing that our feelings do not define us; they are part of us. Recognizing that our response to any given situation is more operative than the situation itself. As Tolle observes in his book, "The Power of Now," (and I'm paraphrasing here) even on the cloudiest day, the sun is still there, it’s still in the sky, we just can’t see it for a short time. But we can take comfort in the clear and certain knowledge that it is still on the job.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Not religious… but, Spiritual

In her blog, “All Shall Be Well,” my mother writes the following, in part as a response to the first entry in this blog:

“I still struggle with what it means to be ‘spiritual’. I have often said the same thing myself, ‘I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.’ What does that mean to me? What does that mean to my son?”

While I certainly can’t ascertain precisely what this means to my mother, I can attempt to answer what it means to me, her son.

It is not an easy question to answer.

What chafes me about many (most?) organized religions is their dogma, their certainty that theirs is the one, true, right way – especially when this is extended to the absolutely ridiculous notion that all “nonbelievers” (meaning people of other faiths as well as true nonbelievers) shall be condemned to hell or some such excruciatingly painful place. I believe in Hell. It’s here. In the Elah Valley. In the deserts of Darfur. In Bagdhad or Bangladesh or the barrios of the Bronx. What I don’t believe is that Hell is a fiery place overseen by Beelzebub in red cape and horns.

So, why would I assert that “I am not religious, but I am spiritual?” I suppose it has something to do in how one looks at the women and men around us. My wife Gloria likes to ask: “Do you think man is inherently good or inherently evil?”

Well, we can all point to countless examples of man’s inhumanity towards man and of countless deeds that appear very evil indeed. On the other hand, we can see many examples of good if we allow ourselves to recognize them. (These acts tend to receive less newsprint than the latest murder or genocide or Ponzi scheme.)

I guess I embrace the word “spiritual” because I think there is more that binds us together than that drives us apart. We all must share the scarce resources of this tiny planet hurtling through space at I-can’t-recall-how-many-miles-an-hour. We all breathe from the same atmosphere, and we are all impacted by the billions of gallons of pollution that choke it on a daily basis. We all derive benefit from our various communities – be they friends, family, book discussion groups, or churches. (I’m not anti-church, per se, I just choose not to participate.)

So, these shared experiences, these communities that enrich and enliven and support our lives are perhaps what constitutes “spirituality” for me. I’ll borrow another phrase from my wife, who is also not religious, despite having been raised as a Catholic. She has told me several times about the experience of looking out on the vast, beautiful expanse of Lake Michigan, which is only a mile or so from our house. She’ll describe her awe and wonder and then thinking, or even saying aloud, “I didn’t make this.” Indeed. Whether you call it nature or God or Allah, not one of us can take credit for the grandeur of the Rockies or the lush beauty of the Everglades. Organized religion didn’t make it, either. And no matter what they tell you, they don’t know who did. This is the mystery. This is what “spiritual” means to me.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cory Booker Is Da Bomb

Okay folks. This guy is the real deal. Tonight, my wife and I watched Bill Maher’s show “Real Time” that originally aired last night (Friday, March 6th). Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was one of the panelists. This man is a breath of fresh air. He is a pragmatist and a positive person and a true American – what word should I use here? – I’m not particularly fond of the word “hero,” and I don’t know whether or not he’s done anything particularly heroic, so let me just say he’s an American. Who wants to find solutions.

He’s not interested in demonizing others and casting blame and pointing fingers, he’s interested in working to solve problems in our communities. Where we live. Where we work to pay our bills and raise our children and keep our streets safe. This man should be the second African-American elected president, after Barack Obama has served eight years!

There is wisdom in some of the simplest things we were taught when we were young. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Don’t take what isn’t yours. If you borrow a tool or a pen or an anything, put it back where you found it. These are not tough lessons to learn. But, apparently we need to learn them again as a country.

The real estate market didn’t implode by itself. It had help. It had help from greedy speculators who were looking to make a quick buck. It had help from normal folks who thought they could bite off more than they could chew. Regardless, we are all in the fix now, and we all need to try to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. We need to spend wisely and save what we can. We need to support those in our communities who need help. We need to not stuff money into our mattresses, but save it or invest it or spend it – wisely.

But who am I? I’m just another Chicago writer…

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dilated Eyes Can't See So Well...

So about six or seven weeks ago, I went to see an eye doctor to get a new prescription for my glasses - tri-focals, or what they like to call "progressives" thank-you-very-much. During that exam, the doctor determined that there exists some sort of asymmetry between my optic nerves. The left didn't match the right or the other way around. Given that my insurance coverage for medical (as opposed to Vision Care - which optometry falls into, but ophthalmology does not), he was unable to perform the sorts of tests he thought I needed - namely, to determine if I have Glaucoma, so I was referred to another Eye Doc who works with the medical insurance I do carry. 

Well, today was the day. Good news, I don't have glaucoma and the Eye Doc thinks it unlikely that I will develop it, although he would like the opportunity to torture me again in a year, if that's all right with me. The bad news. I couldn't see. All day. No reading, no writing. Blurry, blurry, blurry. No focus, no nothing. It is now a little after midnight and I left the doctor's office at approximately 11:15 am. Now, I can finally see, although, truth be told, it's still a little fuzzy. 

Now as I write this I am thinking about a friend of mine who lost her sight completely for some time. She wrote a wonderful memoir about her experiences. It's called, "The Seeing Glass." Look it up, get it, read it, you'll enjoy it. So, I know that one day without clear vision and tight focus is not the worst thing in the world to happen. But WOW does it smack you upside the head in the sense of: "This is something I've been taking for granted!" I've taken for granted that I can pick up a book and read it when I want, or do a crossword puzzle when I want, or compose and reply to emails when I want, or write the revisions that I so desperately need to write on 2 or 3 stories currently in progress when I want. 

Not so fast Buster. Not if you've just had your eyes dilated. So, I head off to bed soon, grateful that my lids will be covering my weary, blurry focusing eyes, and so very grateful that they will (most likely) focus well again in the morning.