Imitating Gertrude Stein (43)

The assignment, to imitate a voice
so I read her letters to a friend
letter after letter
as dusk deepens
and white-crowned sparrows
chatter in the courtyard
and go silent
I write my little piece
into the dark
so easy to fall into her voice
familiar and dear to me
for forty-three years.

New Year’s Day, 2020 (34)

Today I spend the day with Sylvia Boorstein, and her guests, from afar, livestreamed from Spirit Rock. Beforehand, I debate the all-day commitment on this day, but being in her presence even virtually and getting to listen to her wonderful stories feels like such a reassuring way to begin the year. After, I feel vulnerable. I am achey and tender and sad. I am all opened up. I feel a kind of longing, I think. Longing to be able to be part of something like this always? Partaking in her big warm love and acceptance? More connected to people like this, this deep kindheartedness? Always with Sylvia my old voices arise, want to lament I didn’t find her years ago when I could have worked with her for decades. Maybe, though, another voice says, you wouldn’t have felt this way about her then. Maybe you wouldn’t have been ready, or maybe she needed time to grow into who she is today. In the end, I settle back into gratitude for the day, for the gift of her. But in me, too, is secret hope to get to spend more time with her, maybe even years of it.

Valentine’s Day Retreat?

Friday Feb. 14th (and the 15th and 16th?)

Okay, this is kind of goofy. I want to offer a writing day on February 14th (and maybe the 15th and the 16th, too). But I’m not sure where it might be or if it might need to just be online.

I told you it was a bit goofy. But after our extraordinary experience at the Joshua Tree retreat in November, I had a dream telling me to do the next one on Valentine’s Day. I let myself get swept up in life, and I didn’t pursue this, but I still want to honor the dream even if it’s much belated.

So. Please save the date(s) if you’d like to do a nice long chunk of writing together (true stories, creative nonfiction prompts, lovely camaraderie, laughter).

Stay tuned. I will let you know if I find a space for us, or if this will be something we can do online together. Oh, and maybe let me know if you are interested. Not sure what we might be able to pull together at such short notice, but you never know. And it’s a holiday weekend, too!

Sending good wishes to each of you for this and for 2020!

Riba
_________________________

Riba Taylor
760-327-9759
https://499words.org/

Tweet 11 White Guilt

I learn the FHA refused African Americans home loans in good areas. First I’m angry. Then I’m selfish. I could’ve had black kids on my block. Another heartbreaking part: this denied blacks the chance to build generational wealth. Hard to hold it all without white guilt.

[re-posted from today’s tweet @tryingmywings]

Tweet 5 Ashamed in Advance

I’m agitated when I walk outside. We’ve made course rules, no cross-talk, no unasked for feedback. I’m afraid I will break them, blurt things out, cause harm. I face west, stretch my spine. I swing my arms from side to side, let the warm desert wind brush away my shame.

[re-posted from today’s tweet @tryingmywings]

Tweet 4 Fuzzy Memory

We’re in the girl’s bathroom, plain white tile, 5th grade. The group of black girls in my class are breaking the rules, I think. I am a goody-two-shoes, say some snooty, uptight white girl thing? Later, our teacher names me the ringleader, and the black girls laugh.

[I plan to post one tweet each day in November @tryingmywings. I am re-posting them here.]

Tweet 2 School Bus, 4th Grade

My stepfather’s house in Connecticut, five acres, a creek. The school bus stops on a dirt road, long, sand-colored buildings, no trees. All the black kids get on. I am eight years old. Today, at 61, I cringe. Even then, shouldn’t I have known something was deeply awry?

[I plan to post one tweet each day in November @tryingmywings. I am re-posting them here.]