Did I mention I was in school? On top of working and mothering, I decided to return to school and I am pursuing an MFA in Children and Young Adult Literature at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Each month I read about ten books (from picture books to middle grade to YA), write two critical essays and produce 40 creative pages. It is fabulous, amazing and A LOT. You know that phrase: writing in the margins. Well it has new, deeper and more specific meaning for me as life has gotten bigger and the margins skinnier.

One of the books I read this month was Linda Sue Park’s Tap Dancing on the Roof. It is an illustrated (Istvan Banyai) book of Sijo, which is a type of poetry that originated in Korea. Sijo has a fixed number of stressed syllables, usually divided in three or six lines. It is like a haiku but it has more syllables and the last line is usually has a twist. Also the poems are about everyday events.

Here is one I love that Park wrote:


For this meal, people like what they like, the same every morning.
Toast and coffee. Bagel and juice. Cornflakes and milk in a white bowl.
Or—warm, soft and delicious—a few extra minutes in bed.

At the end of the book, Park gives specific pointers for writing Sijo. Re: the last line, she she says, “ I try to think of where the poem would go logically if I continued with the idea, then I go in the opposite direction.” Re: the syllables and stress count, Park encourages beginners to work with the 16 syllable count per line. Advanced poets can try working with stress count, which is a bit more complicated. Titles are optional.

I tried the beginner variety. Here is my effort:

A is for Alice

For her very first day of school, Alice puts on a brand new dress;
Hair fixed. Shoes tied, Pencil sharp. Back Pack on. She is ready to go.
Then she climbs into bed and sets the alarm. Eight more hours to wait.

Dick Extension

Remember The Dick Monologues of last month? (See August 26 post.) Well, the fabulously handsome Dick Singer/Songwriter SouthPaw Jones just completed his sixth or seventh CD Cruelty. Paw has a beautiful voice and, more importantly, likes to craft songs with some heft and meaning and a fair amount of words. Because of that love of words and story, Paw decided to have a CD release at BookPeople and invite friends and Dick Monologuers to read his words aloud as works unto themselves.

Probably because I was on the email list of Dick Monologuers last month, Paw extended the invitation to me to be one of the readers. I accepted. The song I asked to read was Main Street. It is near the end of the CD. A quiet song. An irreverent lullaby about disillusionmant with all things we hold sacred. It’s beautiful.

Afterwards, I sort of apologized to Paw because I read the song as a straight piece, a serious poem. Many of his songs are very, very humorous takes on life. He said it was okay.

Actually, he said it was more than okay. In email response to my thanking him for letting me participate, he said: And thanks to you, Lindsey, for participating and reading “Main Street” beautifully and sincerely!  It may be the most cruel of all the songs, because it represents a grown up me walking away from all the comforting things I was led to believe as a child.

Yep he’s sweet, smart AND cute.


What month is this?

One of the things about writing a monthly column that gets a little weird is handing in the column a month before the publish date. So for the September column, I send it to the editor around August 1. Most of the time, this temporal gap isn’t a problem because family and parenting issues are not time sensitive. But this month—remember, it’s August—I’m pressed for time and it’s hot and I can’t think of a thing to write. So I dig into my file of press releases from other parenting sources and decide to put together a column of other people’s news and success stories.

But what about the lead?

Hmmm…In retrospect, I could have simply said: “Too hot, Can’t think, Here’s some news from other folks.”

But oh no…I decided to make an elaborate analogy between never ending New England winters and endless Texas Summers beginning with this sentence: September is the cruelest month, purposefully echoing T.S. Eliot’s opening in The Waste Land: April is the cruelest month…which was not referencing weather so much as desire and awakenings but what the heck…

Sure enough, my editor shot me an email: “If you write September, it’s as if you wrote the column on August 31.” I said I thought would be okay. He didn’t. So it opens: August was the cruelest month. 

It was still August. I was still hot. I went with it.

Click to access 09-08_family.pdf

Note to self: Avoid specific references to time in the lead.

Unsolicited Reviews

One of the things I love about being a children’s book author is reading aloud to children. Why? Because I love their unguarded reviews of the book. I love it when they say, without hesitation, “That was the best book I ever heard.” Or when I look up from a page I am reading and I can see them wrapped in the suspense of what’s going to happen next.

Adults, of course, are a bit more reserved in their audience response. But when they open up and let you know, in this case, that they liked something, it is a sweet gift.

Last night’s Dick Monologues were a howling success. From the very first song by the oh so handsome Southpaw Jones to the rivetting revelations by Rudy Ramirez (alliteration intended) , the audience warmed with each monologue, alternating between hanging on every word and rolling in the aisles. I had a blast. My monologue, Making DIck Happy, was hilarious fun to read and, with this particular audience, turned out to be a delicious give and take.

There was a moment in the middle of my monologue when I am describing my first dance with a boy and his ‘down there’ turns into boner much to my shock and amazement. Judging from the audience reaction, most of them had had a similar thing happen to them and were relating heartily. THen as I walked into the bushes with this boy who proceeded to nudge my hand to his crotch, well, the audience was on the edge of their seat. I knew as I wrote it that it would be funny but I didn’t know that when an audience is excited, so to speak, and tingling, with anticipation, so to speak, you can literally hold them in that tingly spot for a moment before you say the line: I touched it.  And I did. Just before I said those three words, I looked out and paused. Just slightly. And I could hear a collective giggle trembling through the audience. One escaped and just as they were about to let loose, I said the three words and one great big spasm later, they went over the edge. Wow. Was that ever fun!

Then I turned the wheel of the monologue into a deeper, more serious place. Because the audience was warmed to me, so speak, they went with me. At the end of the evening, one woman I didn’t know came up to me, and said, “Thank you so much for writing that piece. It meant so much to me.” Words from a stranger that you’ve touched is a lovely unexpected gift. Yes. I loved emails from friends in the audience saying they loved it. But when you touch a stranger, it is a fine thing.

So thank you, Spike Gillespie for saying yes. And thank you Southpaw Jones, Sarah Barnes, Marrit Ingman, Jaycee Wilemon, Kristine Kovach, Sarah Bird, Robin Chotzinoff and Rudy Ramirez for making room for me at the table.

Dicking Around

The Short Version:
On Wednesday, August 27, at 7 pm, at the Hyde Park Theatre (43rd & Guadalupe), I will perform a monologue I wrote, ‘Making Dick Happy’ as part of the Dick Monologues. 
The Long Version:
A little more than a year ago, Spike Gillespie and I began this correspondence about her break-up with her now ex-husband. Actually, I think it was an email argument which ended with me apologizing for making an observation which had absolutely no sensitivity about what she had gone through. In one of the emails, though, she mentioned that she had just put together a show called The Dick Monologues, a series of monologues by Austin writers and performers  telling their stories about all things dick. (You know, those things that happen as a result of interacting with a dick or even even behaving like a dick, e.g. making observations that have no sensitivity.) I was intrigued. I went to see it. It was good. Funny. Fun. Serious. I went to see it again. I got to thinking about my interactions with all things dick and wrote a monologue called “Making DIck Happy.” I emailed a copy to Spike and bugged her (sort of) to let me on stage. I was thrilled when she said yes. Of course, now I am gagging with nerves and thinking, ‘Oh shit what have I done?’ But mostly I am very happy to join Spike and company onstage on Wed August 27 @ 7pm at Hyde Park Theatre and tell the story of Making Dick Happy. The Dick Monologues have played one night a month to sold out houses over the last year. This one is, in Spike’s words, “beyond sold out.” If you would like to attend the next show, you must email Spike Gillespie at and ask her to put you on the list and she will email you when the date, time and place is set. WIll I be performing with them the next time? Don’t know. This is a guest spot. So we’ll see how I do. We’ll see if they clamor for more…