I am in NJ, under a slow ceiling fan, having celebrated the 85th birthday of my brother’s father-in-law. The two mother-in-laws are chatting about the overuse of cellphones; my niece is reading; and in another room my sister-in-law is teaching her father how to use free weights. I think my brother is with them. Traffic lulls by. It is summer. It is sultry without the wind. We are older than we think, yet the pulse beats. Outside on the terrace, the tomatoes grow incrementally bigger.
1. Make kombucha for the first time. It will become an obsession , which you need because of this return.
2. Buy rose petals from a spice shop, just in case you need them one day. The return is now colored pink.
3. Add rose petals to the kombucha, which returns your attention with fizz.
4. Get a pedicure with bright nail polish. It is another gift to yourself, a return to counter defeat.
5. Do not compare yourself to other people because your story was returned; you can still pun.
6. Do not wonder if it was returned because you are fat.
7. Remember that Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream has less cholesterol than Talenti cookie crumble, if the return makes you seek solace in a fleeting thing.
8. Remind yourself how often other writers get stories returned, even if they are no one you know, and thousands of stories get published every year, only not yours.
9. Try not to wear black all the time, though it is slimming. You don’t live in NY, and you are not published.
10. Do not decide your story was returned because you do not live in NY, and by NY you mean the city, and possibly Brooklyn.
11. Yes, though your story was returned, it is too late to apply to law school.
12. Think about Wallace Stevens in the face of your returned story, and his notion of the yes that follows the no.
13. Go ahead, and do the next thing. Your story was sadly, dispiritingly, forlornly, most likely reluctantly, returned, and everyone will cope.
Sunday, in the gardens, with mom. A slow meander through half of the featured gardens. Defeated by the sun, we retired to the museum for cucumber sandwiches and lemonade. Inside, the galleries were full of flower paintings and sketches, entrances.
There are many ways to jolt a a creative stasis. Last week, I took a photography class taught by photographer and writer, Joanne Dugan . In an imitimate class of six students, we took photographs for assignment and wrote corresponding text. Such a simple preocess, yet the effects were startling. My fellow students photographed and told stories about children, street signs, the erosion of the Herring Cove parking lot, inanimate oddities around town, and the Ptown 4th of July, a celebration emphasizing individual freedom, and rights for all people.
I photographed flowers, close-up.