These boots are made for walkin....


I'm afraid I've been voted off the island.   
By my family . . .

But it's kind of hard to feel bad about.  If I were voted off the island on Survivor, I think I'd say something like "Oh yeah?!  Well I'm going to be eating a cheeseburger in a whirlpool tub tonight!" as I left.  In fact, I'd probably pay them a million dollars to let me go home.

I feel a little that way now, actually.

November is the grayest month in Minnesota, statistically speaking.  (And it's a bit gray in my personal psyche, truth be told.)  The loss of light somehow deals me a blow that is hard to recover from.  Of course, by the time the holidays roll around, I'm as full of good cheer as the next guy.  But the adjustment can be tough.  So someone had the idea (was it me? was it them?) that perhaps I'd be happier going to the desert for the month of November and sitting in the sunshine.

There wasn't a whole lot of arm twisting involved....on either side, actually, which I guess should offend me a little, but....I'll recover from the sting.

I suspect I may discover that leaving Minnesota in November
is what all the smart people do. . . 

The Wise Men, who, incidentally, were also following light. 
This is what I've been working on this week, part of an ongoing Christmas collaboration.  
Eventually it will become fabric and join the Nativity I did this summer.

(And the really smart ones probably look hard at a destination for February, as well.)

The only downside is that November needs to be a big work month for me, with Baltimore looming in just 3 months (yes, I'm going to Baltimore!) So there's a bit of packing that needs to take place.  I'm wondering if I'll even get started working before I figure out everything I've forgotten that makes it so I can't do what I need to?

Oh well, if that happens, I'll just strap on my roller blades and blow off some steam, or maybe eat a little fine Mexican food to soften the disappointment.  (And then get creative about working without all my usual supplies, of course.)

The good news is, you're all invited!  So I hope you'll enjoy a little sun with me once I get there....which is going to take a few days.  Small Works will return a week from today (November 4 already?! EEEK!), full of sunshiny goodness and all the beauty that is St. George in November.

Bring your blades!  We're going to put them to good use!  (and a few art supplies, please, because I have a feeling I'm going to forget something.....)

Now I've got to get busy packing, 
and pretend to feel really really sad about leaving.....

Happy Weekend!



First Thoughts.

You'll have to forgive me . . . *yawn . . . 
if I seem a little tired.  

I finished the book I was reading last night soon after I climbed into bed and it left me still wide awake and looking for another chapter.  So I grabbed a book I had purchased on my recent trip to New Mexico thinking it would probably put me to sleep immediately.


Instead I was soon asking the book "where have you been all my life?" and promising myself "just one more page...just one more page...just one more..."  At first I was trying to tell myself to slow down, because it was a book I needed to savor.  Then I just decided if I wanted to savor it, I'd simply read it again.

I bought the book because when I read the blurb about the author, I could see that she spent her life bouncing between Minnesota and New Mexico, so I thought we must be related.

And because it was about writing, of course.

I've been scaring my family lately, having packages of information about Creative Non-fiction MFA programs show up in the mailbox and on the kitchen counter.  Just daydreaming, really, but it's good to keep them on their toes...You know, remind them that the old girl has some life in her yet.

But if you are already a writer, or an artist, or a dancer, or a businessman, or an auto mechanic, and you want to do any of those things better, this book seems like it would be a good place to start.

Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

The book is not divided into chapters so much as into small essays -- the author wanted each to be able to stand alone, so the reader can pick them up individually -- and the one that struck me right out of the gate was called "First Thoughts."  Natalie Goldberg says this:

"... the aim is to burn through to first thoughts, to the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what your mind actually sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see or feel.  It's a great opportunity to capture the oddities of your mind.  Explore the rugged edge of thought.  Like grating a carrot, give the paper the colorful coleslaw of your consciousness.

First thoughts have tremendous energy.  It is the way the mind first flashes on something.  The internal censor usually squelches them, so we live in the realm of second and third thoughts, thoughts on thought, twice and three times removed from the direct connection of the first fresh flash. 

First thoughts are also unemcumbered by ego, by that mechanism in us that tries to be in control, tries to prove the world is permanent and solid, enduring and logical.  The world is not permanent, is ever-changing and full of human suffering.  So if you express something egoless, it is also full of energy because it is expressing the truth of the way things are.

First thoughts . . . are not a cover-up of what is actually happening or being felt.  The present is imbued with tremendous energy.  It is what is."


Wait -- what did that say?

Not "it is what it is," which is kind of a popular saying right now.  But -- the present is what is.
It's really the only thing that actually is at all, if you think about it. But we don't always spend our time here.

Do we live in a realm of second and third thoughts?  Actually, I think I often live in a realm of 50th or 60th thoughts.  Thoughts on thoughts on thoughts -- about other thoughts.  

I am a person who lives under an enormous pile of filters.  Some who know me may scoff at that idea, because the filter between my brain and mouth often seems to be thin and of little use, but the filters operating in my brain are immense and complex, thick and judgmental and clogged with fear.

As I was reading I was thinking of the time when it was Chelsea's birthday (she was maybe 10) and we took her to a restaurant, and when the staff came out clapping and shouting to embarrass/sing to her, they had her stand on a chair and they put a coffee-filter on her head and had her hold up a dessert with a burning candle -- a sort of Birthday-Statue-of-Liberty.

She was darling and blushing, but the image of the girl with a filter on her head has stuck with me.  And I have wanted to pluck it off ever since.

First thoughts. 

The idea that speaks before it even takes time to worry about what it's going to say.  Or how to say it.  Or perhaps most importantly, how it will be received.

It seems to me to be what's at the heart of all creative activity -- the desire to capture the essential, elusive flash, to coax it to stay while doing nothing to take away its immediacy or its spirit or its fleetness.  And I think that's why we respond to great art.  We see in it the seeds of first thought, and it speaks truth to us in a way that plows right through the filters and gets to the heart of things.

Get yourself a copy of the book.  Or you can borrow mine, if I'm ever done with it.  It may be a little beat-up by the time you get it, but that will just be a testament to its value.

And now, is it bedtime yet?  
A nap perhaps? 
Because I'd like to do a little more 
savoring of my new favorite book....



Maybe you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but is there hope for your mother?

When I had little kids, 
they enjoyed all of the usual toys. 

Susan & Hannah, ca. 1988
(incidentally, one of us has more hair now and one has less)

Many were the same Fisher Price things we were raised on -- the clock that tick-tocked and played music, the "popcorn popper" that a toddler pushed and it made no end of ear-popping racket (the kind of gift a grandma gives . . . *wink), the Little People with their farm and their house and their parking garage, CandyLand, and the See 'n Say "Farmer Says."  You know, where you pull the string and the pointer in the center spins around and then stops and it says something like, "the cow says 'moooo.'"

So I felt really old the other day 
when I met Lindsay for lunch . . .

She had the cute baby girl she nannies (not yet two) in tow, and her state-of-the art stroller was enough to make me feel like a dinosaur, but what came next was much worse.  I mean I basically understand a stroller, because we had them for our kids. Only they folded up like an umbrella instead of being the size of a small car. 

Anyway, Lindsay was excited because she had a new app for her iPad that she hoped would keep the baby busy while we ate.  I could not imagine giving a baby an iPad, but I was intrigued.  The app basically turned the iPad into a See 'n Say.  The baby could cruise through pictures of animals and it would say the animal's name and make the noise.  She told me the baby had never played with the iPad before (but she can operate Lindsay's phone.)  It was fascinating for me to watch Lindsay show her how to sweep her not-yet-two-year-old finger across the screen to change the pictures and tap it to make it stop on the one she wanted.  She only had to show her once.  And the baby played.  ( For the record, it took my own children a little longer to master pulling the string.)

I was amazed.  But then, my phone has no camera.  My phone only makes phone calls.  It can text too, but there is no keyboard.  And it flips closed.  And I have a cell-phone charm on it (consisting of an antique bottlecap that says "imitation grape soda" and some beads).

Forget the bottlecap, my phone is an antique --   which is perfect because I've always liked antiques. And I love my phone.

I probably started being eligible for a new phone about 6 years ago.  But this one works, so why would I need a new one?  And more importantly, I know how to operate the darn thing.  (At least enough of the features to make phone calls and send texts. My kids say it can do more, but why would I need more?)

But I want to transition to being able to swipe credit cards on my phone (I know, right?!) so now suddenly I need a REAL phone.  It makes me nervous just to think about.  Finally forced to step forward into the future! . . . er, I mean the present.  Chelsea worked at T-Mobile for several years, so she has volunteered to take me and hold my hand.  But first, she's going to reassure me that operating the kind of phone the rest of the world has been using forever is actually within my intellectual reach.

She hands me her android phone to "play with", hoping we can start to make friends before she takes me to the store where I will embarrass her with my stammering and sweaty hands.  And I look at it and I have no idea where to even start. There are no buttons.  

And suddenly I'm like the old person --

who occasionally steps up (in front of me because I've picked the wrong line)
to place an order at McDonald's and asks, 
"What is the difference between a Quarter Pounder and a Big Mac?  
And what comes on a Filet-o-Fish?"


And the young thing running the cash register can't even understand the question.

She's much too young to sing, "two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun,"  but I can hardly restrain myself from busting it out.  (And there's no guarantee I wouldn't go straight into "grab a bucket and mop...")

Who doesn't know the McDonald's menu? 
I mean -- we were raised on it!

But I think the cash-register-girl 
was actually born knowing it. 

All of which brings me back to the baby with the iPad.  For anyone who doesn't believe in evolution, I feel I need offer no further proof.  We don't even need to have a discussion, let alone an argument.  Because the See 'n Say has become an iPad, and the kid running the thing knows exactly what to do with it, even though there is no string . . .




Sometimes I come to the end of the week and it feels like nothing has happened in the studio.  Progress is slow when you are in the "Good Things Take Time" business, and when you have weeks that are hijacked by life and its attendant activities and concerns (read: doctor appointments, fights with banks and insurance companies, etc.etc.etc.) even a little progress resulting in something shoddy or thrown together seems like it might be welcome.

Plus, I am working on something I don't want to think about, let alone talk about....

It involves the "C" word.


 (ahem! Christmas, of course.)


 Speaking of which, remember the nativity piece 
I made for a Christmas cd?  
The cd is just coming out -- you can find it here!


Now where was I . . .

Oh yes -- On weeks like this, I feel like 
I am trapped in the Mark Trail comic strip.

Russ and I started reading Mark Trail a long time ago, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and quickly realized that it was so ridiculous, we couldn't possibly stop.  We can't believe that someone gets paid to produce it.  And that people read it (which seems silly since we read it, I know, but -- )


 here's a sample of the progress Mark has made this week

We can go on vacation for 10 days and come back, and we haven't missed a beat because the story has not advanced.  It's worse than a soap opera.

I thought it was bad when I took 20 years off from TheYoung and the Restless and then was able to pick up immediately, but Mark Trail makes Y&R seem like it's moving at warp speed. (I am currently on another multi-year Y&R hiatus, incidentally. Hopefully they will cancel it before my next 20-year check-in).

Mark Trail still feels like something 
that would step out of the pages of my 1950's magazines.

It actually started in 1946, originally drawn by a cartoonist who worked as a national parks guide, and focused on nature/environmental themes.  In the 1950's, there was a Mark Trail radio show, as well as a series of comic books and a magazine.  And then the world moved on.  But Mark stayed in Lost Forest.

For years Russ and I have wanted to take Mark Trail strips and swap out the dialogue for something much ...  racier! ... and publish them online.  Turns out someone already does that.  Rats.  In fact, I didn't have to search long at all to figure out that there is an entire underground Mark Trail world populated by self-described "Trail-heads".

I'm not sure I'm a full-blown Trail-head yet, but if you'd like me to catch you up on the story so you can pick up Mark Trail yourself, let me know and I'll send you a sentence or two.  That's all it will take.

 In the meantime, I'm going to stay here 
in Lost Studio and conduct a safari of my own,
trying to find what I did this week -- 
I'm sure it's buried somewhere 
on this mess-of-a-desk . . . 

Mark sez:

Happy Weekend Trails, 
one and all!



Wednesday? Well then . . . A Conundrum for your Consideration.

We go back and forth at our house (it's a dinner topic oft revisited) between believing that Etsy is the greatest thing that ever happened, and thinking that Etsy is the evil empire and is making it a little harder every day to be in the handmade business.

When it comes to killing time or spending money, you can't beat it.  The amount of great eye candy and the ready availability of almost anything you can think of makes Etsy an excellent gateway drug to lure people to the land of "made by hand."  

But! . . . Never before have people been able to buy so much great stuff, and at such a cheap price!  Sure, people want the hand-knit scarf, but they have come to expect to be able to have it for $15.00.

Hannah and I were just having this conversation yet again --

and despite her eloquent tirade against Etsy,  the next day she reported another sale with a big smile.

Always I come back to the conclusion that anything that helps people to make the connection between goods-and-maker benefits all of us.

I remembered this list I came up with for a post on the TAFA blog awhile back.  
I'm standing by it.

You don't have to think 
very hard at all 
to come up with 15 good reasons 
to buy handmade:

1.  You're helping the economy.  Most craftspeople are small business owners who can really use your support.  And if you buy at a local show, you're keeping the money close to home.

2.  It's good for the environment.  Many hand-produced goods are made using green methods and/or materials.  And there's no impact from fuel burned in shipping long distances.

3.  There's a human connection.  The kind you won't find at Walmart. It's a very different feeling when you pick up something that was made with care by a pair of human hands.  

4.  The item tells a story.  Either in the item itself or in the hands that created it, there's often more than meets the eye.

5.  It's personal.  An item that you've picked specifically for someone, or had created just for them, is a more intimate gift than a gift card can ever be.

6.  It's unique.  No two hand-crafted items can ever be exactly alike.  That's the point of handmade!

7.  It can be inspiring.  Seeing a well-crafted object might inspire you to look at your own scrap bag/wood pile/free time in new and exciting ways.

8.  You're helping someone else.  Buying handmade gives an artist the opportunity to continue doing the work they love, and helps them make a living using their skills.

9.  You spread the word.  Buying and giving handmade is a great way to spread the gospel of hand-crafted.  

10.  There's a potential heirloom. When you commission a piece to commemorate a specific occasion, a handmade item will carry the story you want to tell down through the generations.

11.  It's interesting.  In addition to enjoying your hand-crafted object, there's always plenty to learn about the person who made it, and the materials and techniques that were used in its creation.

12.  It's fun.  Shopping at craft fairs or browsing online is a great way to fill your hours with eye candy.

13.  Your item is well-crafted.  The kinds of people who create beautiful objects are the kinds of people who derive joy from the process.  Your item is likely to be made to last.

14.  It'll give you a good feeling.  For all the reasons listed above and many more, you'll feel good when you buy and give handmade.  It's the right thing to do.

15.  It's easy!  Etsy makes it easy to find thousands of hand-crafted items from the comfort of your own home.  Never before in history has there been such easy access to all-things-handmade . . . (And if you're looking for something a bit more upscale, the ACC is chock-full o' artists who will be happy to help you, online or at a show!)

What are you waiting for?!

For instance -- time to get busy on that Christmas list yet?  
Ouch!  I said the word!  Sorry about that.  
I promise not to say it again until it's time for me to offer specific complaints about my to-do list.  Which judging by the Christmas stuff I saw at Target this week, could be soon.  I will not feel guilty before Halloween...I will not feel guilty before Halloween...I will not feel guilty before Halloween... Hmmm. It appears the big box stores may be much more evil than Etsy.



Take-your-mind-off-it Monday.

Some of my favorite things 
are favorites for no particular reason.  
One of those things is this sampler:

I've had it for years -- picked it up at an antique store somewhere along the way.  It has no date, no name, no clues whatsoever as to its maker.  I don't know whether or not it came from a kit, but I assume it did.  The frame is in atrocious shape and was dime-store quality to begin with, and yet it suits it somehow and so it has endured.

I've always had a soft spot for samplers.  Much of my own work, with its rows of decorative borders, repetitive images and wise or quirky mottoes definitely owes more than a nod to the conventions of sampler-making, especially when taken in the context of the greater domestic needlework tradition to which I trace my lineage. So I suppose that's reason enough to explain my connection to this one.

We've recently been juggling some art around in the house,

the latest arrival, happy in its new home

trying to find new or better homes for things and incorporate a few new ones.  It's nice to mix things up now and then just to encourage our eyes to notice them.  After several years, even the most beautiful and inspiring art becomes invisible when viewed as part of the daily wallpaper.  I toyed briefly with the idea of moving the sampler or getting rid of it altogether, but I found I just can't do it.  And so it survives another round.

I was thinking about samplers to begin with . . .
because of some extraordinary work I came across the other day while wasting time on the internet.

Nothing is more appealing to me than traditional work that leaps the time chasm and finds a foothold in the present!

 Michael Dinges, from Hand/Eye magazine

Michael Dinges' work is technically described as scrimshaw, a fascinating historical art in its own right.  (I suppose that traditional scrimshaw could have been considered "samplers for sailors," and I thank the artist for connecting those dots for me!)  Rather than ivory, Dinges works his magic on ubitquitous plastic. And although he transforms all kinds of society's plastic discards, the specific article I came across was about his "Dead Laptop Series."  

Please visit the artist's 
website to view the collection here!


In the article, Dinges explains his sampler connection in this way:

Beyond tattoos and scrimshaw, it’s important to say that my “Dead Laptop Series” was formally inspired by 19th-century American schoolgirl needlepoint samplers. Images here often included the alphabet, botanicals, and simple moral verse meant to inspire virtue.  Samplers almost look like laptops in size and they sort of represent the keyboard by way of the alphabet. I love the moral verses on them, and how their “knowledge” gets codified and transmitted in an intimate way. I make up my own simple poems to engrave, which are intentionally not meant to be great poetry but simply posit moral questions."

So very cool! And something to take your mind off a hum-drum Monday (assuming you're having one, since I certainly am.)  

Sometimes it helps me stumble through the laundry with a smile when I remember that someone, somewhere is doing something that is so much... more... interesting. 




"Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?" . . . Phyllis Diller

And having endured all manner of physical trials in the past 6 weeks or so, I have to ask myself that question quite seriously...

But when I came upstairs the other day and my husband had not only cleaned the bathrooms but dusted EVERYTHING, I had to wonder why. 

"Was it that bad?" I asked, trying my best combination
of sheepish/coquettish/completely innocent.

He just gave me a look. 
The look said a lot, including:
"I have not been able to actually 
see the television in several weeks."

So yesterday I took a good look around, and it wasn't pretty.  I mean, it STILL wasn't pretty, despite his well-intentioned good works.  

It's amazing what you don't see when you don't care to.

"When it comes to housework 
the one thing no book of 
household management 
can ever tell you is how to begin. 
Or maybe I mean why.

--Katharine Whitehorn

I decided the floors were most worthy of my immediate efforts, but in doing the preparatory work for that herculean job, I noticed this:

I felt bad. Now, I really need a haircut myself, so it's not as if I've been lolling around a salon while the rest of the family is forced to walk around holding their bangs up out of their eyes, but REALLY.

I went through a topiary phase that lasted most of the 90's -- this is the sole relic of those years.  For one thing, ivy doesn't grow well in Minnesota -- our houses are too dry.  But this one refuses to die.  It started life as a 4" houseplant from Target, when Hannah was in elementary school.  It lived on the lanai in Florida, which is probably where all houseplants should begin life, because it has been happy ever since.  When we moved from Florida, we had to drive the van up just so we could bring it with us.  It rode in the back next to our cocker spaniel, who, incidentally, was so scared he stood up for the entire drive.  (The ivy wasn't nervous in the least.  Even when the two of them rode out a tornado in Tennessee while we sought shelter in an Outback Steakhouse and calmed our nerves with cheese fries.  But I digress.)

"I hate housework!  
You make the beds, you do the dishes, 
and six months later, 
you have to start all over again."  

--Joan Rivers

Exactly.  And this darn ivy just keeps growing.  We've put it outside for the summer and hoped the sprinklers reached it.  We've put it in the basement for the winter and pretty much forgotten to water it for 6 months.  We've potted and re-potted.  This last time, we vowed that the next time it outgrows the pot, it is just going to be too bad.  It is in its final resting place.  But I suppose I should reward its spunk and loyalty with a little more dignity in its old age.

30 minutes and a full garbage bag later, we both felt much better about ourselves. 

Two+ hours and the dirtiest mop water I've ever personally been exposed to later,  the kitchen looked quite improved as well. 

"Housework is work directly opposed 
to the possibility of 
human self-actualization."  

--Anne Oakley

So I'm not sure whether this last bit is true or not.  It's difficult to feel terribly self-actualized when you can't find whatever you need to get that way under the layers of dust and/or clutter and/or grime.

Right now I think  I'm going to go drop my sandwich on the kitchen floor, and then eat it anyway.  Because I can, and there's a fair amount of satisfaction in that.  It doesn't happen often.  

But I'd better hurry... 24 hour rule...

Happy Weekend! 



Writing Wednesday.

Not a Magpie Tale today, 
but a bird of a different sort . . .

My walk was so utterly lovely yesterday, with all the poignancy of a last embrace.  And indeed today rain and wind are snatching the last of autumn's splendor off the trees as I type. 

As often happens when confronted with beautiful things, 
my walk got my word-wheels turning. . .

and when I came home 
I just had to jot some lines 
about what I had seen.

There's a sharp divide over birds in my family, with some viewing them as creepy dinosaur leftovers and some who love everything about them, from the birds themselves to bird-as-metaphor.  (I fall into the latter camp, in case you are wondering. But I suspect you knew that.)

Anyway, my brief morning encounter with a feathered friend who was also busy soaking up the last sunshine resulted in a poem --

Autumn Cardinal
a crimson flit, fickle
unable to stay it offers
its lovely apology
a sliver of red song
on a quivering yellow perch --
shimmering coins, a curtain
of summer's last currency to spend
laid out against the blue
and counting out their worth
a pivotal contrast, this stark duet
of voice and color reaching
to sing the highest notes
hoping to be heard
above all else, remembered
the tremulous crescendo of a song
that will need to last awhile

-- smh

A little memento of a picture-perfect morning.
I hope you've been able to bask in a bit of autumn beauty in your own neck of the woods, or wherever it finds you.



More than she bargained for . . . !!!!!

I am prone to hyperbole.  And I think we can all agree that is not an exaggeration.  However, in this particular case, I feel that my complaining has been completely justified and proportionate to my suffering.  The main problem is, I feel that when I made the decision to have nasal surgery, I underestimated what I was setting myself up for.

It was big.

Actually, I'd like to go a step further and in a rare instance of being grateful to George W. Bush for making up words, I'd like to use a word even bigger than underestimated --

I would go so far as to say --  misunderestimated. 

Underestimated with a little extra something . . . for emphasis. 

It could be my ENT's utterly bland demeanor as he very briefly explained the procedure and the recovery --  
to hear me recount the details, for instance, would be quite a different experience. 

It could be the book they gave me to read in advance in which everyone looked so gosh darned normal, just carrying on with their day to day lives as if they had not just endured a life-threatening invasion of the worst

(Kind of like the movie Walt Disney made 
to sell menstruation to girls 
and make it seem like a fun part of growing up!)

I felt justified in my combination horror/self-pity/despair when my oldest daughter looked at me the other day and said, "Good.  At least your eyes have gone back in their right place."  WHAT??!! Thank goodness she had not previously remarked that my eyes were NOT in their right place, which would have only heightened the nightmarish scenarios my own brain was concocting overtime during sleepless hours of snotty suffering.  

Although I'm standing by my surgical decision in the hope that it will indeed pay off, I must admit that at times it has seemed like the worst idea since my previous worst idea:  jumping off a jungle gym as a kid while holding a bag over my head.  I thought there would be a cool parachute effect of some kind.  Instead there was a crash, which may have looked cool but was actually very painful (and also temporarily robbed me of the ability to breathe, now that I think about it.)

At any rate, when I wrote about my impending "procedure" last Monday, I did so fully expecting that I would be back here laughing about it with you on Wednesday, perhaps slightly loopy from pain pills but those would only add to the charm and merriment of the essay. 

In reality, on Wednesday, I was wishing and thinking dire things that are not suitable to print or even consider on a family friendly website such as Small Works

I would tell you more but I fear there are not enough exclamation points available to underscore the depth of my feeling about the experience!!!

Partly because the over-use of the exclamation point has sucked
all possible meaning out of it, leaving us with nothing when we
really, really need to communicate that we mean it. 

As Jennifer Egan (recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her brilliant work, A Visit From the Goon Squad) observed, "The more exclamation points you use, the more you need to use in order to create an impression of exclamation."

My predicament precisely!

Although Mark Twain decried the use of the exclamation point as being akin to laughing at one's own joke and instead advocated a more understated burying of the punchline, we unfortunately do not all have Twain's talent to communicate things with exquisite precision through a deft (almost surgical!) choice of words.

So instead we use an exclamation point as if to say, "Look here!  This is what I mean!  It's the important part!" And without such crutches to make communicating things easy, we might never get the email/essay/text message written at all.

"But not many would think of that. 
They would think of it next day, 
but that is the difference between talent 
and the imitation of it. Talent thinks of it at the time."

--Mark Twain

It's much easier to just stick an exclamation point (or 5) on the end and then think of what might have been the right words later, when you are smacking yourself on the forehead for your dopey overuse of exclamation points...

In a recent NY Times article on the proliferation of exclamation points, Aimee Lee Ball explained that "Writing is by definition an imperfect medium for relaying the human voice,  And in the age of electronic communication . . . many literate and articulate people find themselves justifying the exclamation point to convey emotion, enthusiasm or excitement.  Some do so guiltily, as if on a slippery slope to smiley faces."

So since punctuation has become meaningless, and the face (definitely not smiley!!!!!!) icon has not yet been invented to suit this particular purpose, I suppose I shall be content just to tell you that: 1) I am glad I am back, and that 2) my absence was somewhat . . . er . . . more trying than I expected. 

But I can't help but wonder if it would have changed things if, ANYWHERE in the literature or the doctor's calm delivery, there had been one single well-placed exclamation point . . . something along the lines of :


(At the very least it might have helped me prepare for impact.)

Happy glad-to-be-alive Monday! (*sniff)

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