Things are falling down on me
Heavy things I could not see
When I finally came around
Something small would pin me down
When I try, to step aside
… I move to where they’d hoped I’d be
>>”Heavy Things,” Phish
This summer, after more than a year of talking, we finally created a writing group. It consists mostly of colleagues from Mrs. Fall of Because’s English department, but I am allowed in because I’m “a writer” and because I’m the coordinator’s husband, so they have to let me. (Joking aside, I’m already mixed in with them socially to the point I’m welcomed as “one of them,” except I don’t have to teach teenagers or grade papers, hallefuckinglujah.)
It. Is. Awesome. I mean, all of the participants (about 7 so far) are already pretty good friends, including me, so it’s not too awkward nor susceptible to annoying participants the way a book club can be. Thankfully, they’re all good writers, and they have something to say. And we have different styles. And impressively, for just two meetings (so far), good constructive feedback is exchanged.
The result is like a wonderful condensed evening/afternoon of great new things to read and fun things to discuss. Everyone should be so lucky to experience this. Each meeting is like someone recommending six new pieces of short-form writing that you know are worth your while. Then add to it thought-provoking feedback and thoughts about the writing process. I sometimes fear I need this more than they do.
Anyway, last time I felt bad that the two poems I had for review were both somewhat existentially depressing. I feared quickly getting the rap of that guy: “Oh, great, another sad story and dark reflection on human behavior and regret.” (Thankfully, it got a positive response and constructive suggestions anyway.) So to avoid laying only Heavy Things on people, I cheated and dug up an archive from my journal, er, blog, that would make people laugh and could use a revision or two.
Incidentally, KayO just blogged a story, introducing it with a fear I identify with: “Have I already written about this?” Unlike with repeated oral stories — and repetition is part of oral tradition, right? … right? — at least on a blog you can go back and search your redundancy “if so inclined.”
So in that spirit, I’ll say hey, read this old story I already told you (if you were here) two years ago, which is the one I just used in the writing group: It’s “Romancing the Throne,” a reflection on my dad’s attachment to his toilet, and wonder at Man’s (and in this case, I do mean Man-not-Woman) affinity for his time on the throne. (You don’t really need to read it; but if you haven’t before, I promise you’ll enjoy it. And it’s not gross, exactly.)
The “reflective” stuff at the end is probably more fit for blogging than a finished piece — but even those are sincere moments of wonder.
And just to “add user value” to this bit, in case you already went there before: When we were going to visit the Czech Republic after my dad died, we first heard (via phone) that he died in his sleep. Later, through email and amid further details, we were told he died in the hallway, on his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
But when we actually got to the house of the friends he’d been staying with until his death, they proudly showed us the actual site of his last breath. Want one guess where it was?
Yep … on the toilet.