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Happy Polyp to Me

Dear Writers:

My birthday is on Halloween. This year to celebrate being 53 years old, me and my cervix, whom I call Fred, headed to the OB-GYN clinic at 7:45 in the morning to get our polyp removed.

For my special day, the team at OB-GYN is dressed up like characters from The Wizard of Oz. An affable Cowardly Lion checks me in at reception. Then a smiling nurse in a pink-and-white tutu takes me back to one of those little rooms and writes down stuff that’s wrong with me and what vitamins I take.

“Have you seen The Wizard of Oz?” she asks me.

“About a thousand times,” I say, not much of an exaggeration since I had the movie soundtrack on 33 LP when I was a kid. I knew right off that her costume was one of the Lullaby League ballerinas that welcomed Dorothy Gale to Munchkinland, and I can sing you the song on our next road trip.

“It was kind of hard to make a tutu,” she says, strapping a blood pressure cuff around my arm. “Everybody said a tutu would be easy, but it wasn’t.”

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I stop myself from saying that she just needed to lightly tack the muslin to the lining waist before gathering the ruffles to get them straight. I stop myself from saying this not because I’m being polite but because I have a damn polyp on my cervix and the contrast with a nurse in a tutu is a little much to take at 8:08 in the morning sans caffeine.

My mom was a wicked-good seamstress and made me the most amazing Halloween costumes. Being in a stuffy little room with a nurse wearing a droopy tutu and knowing the gist of the medical procedure that is coming my way makes me all of a sudden miss my mommy. A lot.

Nurse Lullaby takes my blood pressure: 116/74 with no caffeine in my system. Who in hell has time to do the pre-how embarrassing if the OB-GYN sees how much hair grows behind my knee caps type of shower, feed dog who takes forever to eat, walk dog who takes forever to pee, find the damn medical referral slip, forget to get gas AND make coffee and still get over to the clinic on what street is it on again? at this ungodly hour?

In a few minutes, in comes the doc, who is dressed in normal clothing. Although she looks quite a lot like my college biology teacher, so it does seem befitting that she is an OB-GYN.

“It’s going to be OK,” I whisper to Fred.

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Fred is my cervix, in case you forgot. Fred is a girl, and this isn’t a piece about gender identity unless you decide it is, which is your prerogative as its reader.

The doc wants to know if I’m sexually active.

“No, I abstain when I’m not in a relationship,” I reply. That’s Latin for No man will talk to me unless he’s trying to sell me electronics or a car, and I’m fairly sure the mannequin in the Macy’s window is getting more action than I am this decade.

“About how long has it been?” asks the doc, reminding me that lots of medical terms have Latin root words, i.e., I am so busted.

“End of 2012,” I confess.

“Ohhhh, it’s been a really long time.”

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Thanks, doc. Yes, Obama was just starting his second term the last time my hoohaw saw any hoopla.

She stares at me, and I think she’s wondering how on earth Fred grew a polyp in my sensory deprivation chamber, but she explains that sometimes polyps bleed during intercourse (that’s Latin for GETTING IT ON, in case I forgot), but “we can’t know that in your case,” she says.

She shrugs, perhaps a little disappointed at the not knowing. I get that. In order for a scientific experiment to work, there needs to be both a control group and a test group, and I’m a boring control group. It’s like a thin plot line without any dramatic climax, and believe you me. Continue reading

Red Wheelbarrow Writers

Managing Family Relationships While Writing About Them ~ Guest Post for Red Wheelbarrow Writers

Dear Writers:

What should come first? Publishing your memoir or preserving family relationships? Sometimes writers feel they have to choose—on occasion, they do. We’ve all heard stories about what happened when the family flipped out over a memoir someone published . . . .

I was honored to guest post for Red Wheelbarrow Writers on the topic of Managing Family Relationships While Writing About Them. Read the full post on the RWB site.

Red Wheelbarrow Writers hosts an amazing array of workshops and events, including the celebrated WhaMemWriMo (Whatcom County Memoir Writing Month) that is happening right now. They just published an anthology, Memory Into Memoir. Find out more about RWB and how to get involved at their website.

XO Laurel Leigh

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Clover, A Literary Rag ~ a reading at Village Books Today!

Dear Writers:

I’m wildly delighted to be a part of the Clover reading today at Village Books in gorgeous Fairhaven WA. Authors from Clover 11 will present excerpts of their work and Clover editors Mary Gillilan and Norman Green will host the event that always fills the house. Come by the Readings Gallery at 4 p.m. to join the fun!

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There’s also this going on — a secret a brewing that will come to light at today’s reading. Here’s the clues:

Mike Allegra in natural habitatMike Allegra Salamander Doodle

 

 

 

 

I defy anyone to guess in advance, but I will totally buy you lunch if you do.

XO Laurel Leigh

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Will We See You at the 2016 Chuckanut Writers Conference?

Dear Writers:

I’m delighted to once again be involved in the Chuckanut Writers Conference right here in Bellingham WA! And further pleased to introduce conference intern Helen Pendergast, who will tell you more about this year’s event. Write On!

 

What is the first thing you think of, when you hear rain? Is it the pitter-patter of your footsteps out in the morning air, letting your rambunctious retriever mix pull you into shallow puddles, or is it staring up at the magnificent pine trees littering the horizon line? These are just a few of the things that can inspire the writing and stories that you have to share with a community of writers in Bellingham. That is why the Chuckanut Writers Conference (http://chuckanutwritersconference.com/) is back again for another year!

Imagine eighteen incredible authors, industry experts, and agents (http://chuckanutwritersconference.com/speakers/) from all over the Pacific Northwest right at your fingertips, helping inspire your writing into action.

The conference will be held at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, WA on June 24th and 25th. This experience benefits all writers of any stage in their craft, helping to develop each and every unique voice and story. Whether you are interested in knowing why sitting in coffee shops or on a park benches with a notebook glued to your lap is so satisfying— or you have published four bestselling novels already; there is still vital knowledge you will take away from this conference. Most people leave with new practical knowledge, ideas, contacts, lifelong friends … oh, and an incredible swag bag too!

In its sixth year, the conference is featuring unforgettable master classes that hone in on your craft just a little closer. This year our Thursday master classes include, “Ventriloquism on the Page” from Fairhaven author and lover of the big city, Sara Donati, “The Wilderness of Revision” from Elaina Ellis, poet and Associate Editor of Copper Canyon Press, and “Creative Non-fiction: Doing Somersaults on the High Ridge” from Robert Michael Pyle, a full-time biologist, writer, teacher and speaker.

These classes fill up fast, so be sure to register as soon as possible! (http://chuckanutwritersconference.com/register/)

Thursday holds our pre-conference events in the afternoon, followed by the Chuckanut Radio Hour (http://www.villagebooks.com/event/CRH-rejections-6/23/16) featuring a Seattle-based band– The Rejections (and Trailing Spouses) kicking off the conference with great music and conversation.

The conference continues with multiple breakout and plenary sessions from the esteemed faculty, check out the schedule (http://chuckanutwritersconference.com/program/) to see what you don’t want miss. There is a ton going on, so I wish you luck narrowing in on just a few! If you are finding that you have a few projects going on already, I suggest signing up for an agent pitch session (http://chuckanutwritersconference.com/agents/), to help keep your projects moving forward, and your ideas out of your own already cluttered head.

What’s great about this conference is that there are plenty of opportunities to mingle at our Friday night reception over food, approach faculty during book signings, get your voice heard between conversations with marketing experts and other attendees– but my favorite part? Continue reading

2.27.16 Wall Walk Split

Home Is a Handstand: Arm Workout

Dear Writers:

Doing some handstands!

This journey home to a handstand thing is becoming a thing. After thirty years of not working out much, it feels pretty great to be upside down again, and I can’t believe how much love people are sending my way. Thank you! I put a clip on Facebook and people asked me to keep posting, so there’s a few more clips of my workouts on YouTube. Maybe someone should take all our video phones away . . . nah.

 

See more clips of Home Is a Handstand on my groovy new YouTube channel.

Also I wrote an essay about my former gymnastics coach, which Dogpatch Writers Collective just previewed.

XO Laurel Leigh

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Home Is a Handstand

Dear Writers:

I spent part of Thanksgiving break at home in Idaho, staying at the condo of my former gymnastics coach. I slept on a huge air mattress in his office; the mattress is like a big crash pad, so I felt right at home. In the morning, I sat on the comfy “crash pad” in my sweats, hair uncombed, teeth not brushed, and tearfully told Coach how much I still miss IT after all these years.

IT meaning being up on the balance beam, swinging around on the unevens, or flying over the vaulting horse.

IT meaning hanging out in gyms, working out barefoot, owning more leotards than other clothes.

IT meaning the athletic life I’d always thought I’d have as a coach/dancer/choreographer/fitness guru—the specifics weren’t formulated in my teenage mind, but I’d known my career path would be an outgrowth of being a high-level athlete.

I could have still done some of those other things, but along with losing the ability to land my stunts, I also lost my belief in myself.

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Me back in the day

I often tell writers that they can get away with anything in a story—as long as they do it boldly. For example, not bothering to have a transition but just hopping over to another part of the story. Poof, we’re there, without even an “and then.”

Actually, please not an “and then.”

Because you have to be enough of a smartass writer to break convention often and wisely. What’s critical though is to understand and to be able to effectively employ the convention that you’re breaking. That’s what I think, and I think I’m right. I’m a pretty skilled editor, especially when it’s not my own story and I’m therefore not traumatized about it and can get in and diagnose its issues.

It’s incredibly fun to figure out what’s not yet working with a story and how to maximize its potential. Because there’s always potential, and there’s always that one awesome thing that made the story worth writing and will make it worth reading. And there’s that awesome author behind the story, who sometimes just needs a little thoughtful coaching to help them keep their stride in the home stretch of their revision.

I crashed on my bar dismount and blew out my knee. Back then, there wasn’t a surgery that could fix it. There was what I call my “I don’t give a rip because I can no longer do gymnastics” era. I took a lot of risks and am alive out of sheer dumb luck. I suppose I was seeking an adrenaline rush. Continue reading

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Good-night, Sweet Swingline

Dear Writers:

Alas, stuff of mine has been breaking lately. Specifically:

Glasses nose piece: Popped into the eye doc’s to get a new one put on and didn’t notice till I got home that the new one is clear and in contrast, the used one on the other side is darkened with age and skin wax? Not sure which is dorkier—the lopsided effect or the fact that I’m relatively unbothered by it. Continue reading