October 31, 2010
— E. E. Cummings, 1894-1962
I took the day off from fiction today. In the morning I drove to Jericho, about twenty miles over Vermont Route 15, to attend services at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. It was Reformation Sunday, the day the members of this congregation take to make their annual pledge of financial support to their ministry. The visiting pastor spoke about abundance, and afterward there was a meal of egg and cheese strata, spanikopita, sausage, and an assortment of desserts. Just as in Wyoming in 2005 and in South Carolina in 2009, I was welcomed as an honored guest and offered a seat at the table.
The children of Good Shepherd were being urged to take boxes for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. Vermonters seem to love Halloween. The back roads that I traveled last week to get to the Northeast Kingdom had a lot of decorated houses and yards. They also have a lot of old, small cemeteries, likely remnants of the 18th and 19th century tradition of family graveyards set on private property. I mistook several front yards decorated with fake tombstones for real cemeteries. The giveaway was usually the skeleton or the vampire figure propped in a corner.
I slept most of the afternoon — the cold I averted last week has started up again — and then worked set-up for the dinner shift and attended the first of the residents’ readings. I passed some trick-or-treaters on the Pearl Street bridge as I walked from my studio to the lecture hall for the reading. Afterward, I returned to my studio to arrange my materials and make my work plan for the coming week, and to watch via my computer Game 4 of the World Series.
Yesterday, I was feeling almost exactly the same as I was in Georgia in 2009. “A certain loneliness and lostness has hit me tonight,” I wrote then. “The excitement of embarking and arriving and setting up and acclimating myself has given way to an anxiety that I really don’t have what it takes to write fiction worth reading. I miss my house, I miss my family and my friends, . . . I miss my ten o’clock dramas, I miss all the distractions I use to pretend that it is lack of time and not lack of talent that keeps me from achieving as a fiction writer.”
On Facebook tonight I was treated to a plethora of postings of my friends’ children in their Halloween costumes. One of them was decked out as Dorothy of Oz, in a blue gingham dress and rick-rack-trimmed blouse that looked a lot like the one I made for Lynn when she was in first grade. That made me nostalgic for those bygone days.
Above you see her first Halloween outfit, actually a size T-3 pajama set. She’s two years old there, and the expression on her face has always made me feel good all over. In 2003 I wrote about the Dorothy outfits I made for her. Tonight, while I watched the Texas Rangers stumble sadly through Game 4, I put together a Facebook album of the Halloween costume pictures of her I have on my computer. Even if you’re not one of my Facebook friends, you can see it here.
I didn’t read any fiction nor write any fiction today. It’s back to work for me tomorrow. I’ll be addressing a story in which a man experiences intense nostalgia for a part of his life that is over. I’ve probably already written him pretty well, because I know how he feels.
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