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.”


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.


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.”


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

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



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

To Rhyme or Not To Rhyme

Dear Writers:

I’ve been having the most fun sort of agony over my latest assignment to write a children’s poem for the SpeakEasy event at the posh Mount Baker Theatre on April 12. I’ve learned a lot, such as when trying to write a kids’ poem it’s helpful to:

A) Be an actual poet

B) Have some kids

C) Have been a kid at one time Continue reading

And The Winner Is…

Dear Mister Allegra,

I’m writing to you on account of missing that contest of yours by a day. Sometimes things come up in your life, and sometimes you are a day late.

That last sentence, although written in second person, refers to me.

I’m talking about the contest where someone could go to your blog called heylookawriterfellow and say what pet we wished we could have and why, and then your kid draws all the names from a jar, and whoever wins gets to have a doodle of said pet doodled by you, specifically for them, and they can frame it and hang it on their wall over their desk or in the hallway or on the fridge.

But I was a day late, like I said, so somebody named Sarah won, and I don’t have anything against Sarah, and in fact I don’t know her, but now she gets the doodle I’m pretty sure I would have won, or at least had a chance of winning if you weren’t so picky about deadlines and all.

The pet I would have said was a salamander, and here’s why. As you know from dropping by my blog now and then, I write stories for grown-ups. But for some reason, this guy called Luther asked if I could come and read a children’s poem to some kids at this show he’s putting on with a bunch of actual poets who do write stuff for kids, and probably have some kids of their own, which I don’t, so it’s hard to practice saying a kid’s poem to your dog. And it’s not really fair, because some of them can draw too, but I can’t.

So when I was trying to figure out what I could write that wouldn’t include my usual character lineup of grifters and drifters who swear and such, I went outside to drink some tea on my patio to think about it. There was a salamander hanging out on my patio, which at first I thought was dead but he wasn’t, and we ended up having a pretty good talk. He was a little parched from being stuck on my patio in the sun, but I rescued him and put him in some soft leaves and put water there for him. He had to go home then, but I was thinking it would be nice to have a pet that was a salamander, and I wrote a poem-ish thing in his honor to read to those kids.

Here’s one other thing. My friend Luther is going to use technology to project our poems on the wall while we say them, and if I had won your contest yesterday I could have had him put a picture of my new friend the salamander on the wall, and the kids would like it, and I could tell them that you drew it especially for them and that you also write books and stuff. But now it’s too late, because of one teensy weensy day. A day!

Once in sixth grade I was late and got a zero. The teacher said you shouldn’t complain because it was your fault that you were late and someday you will understand why it’s important to be on time. So I guess this is that time. And I’m happy for Sarah, because she does seem like a very nice person who is a librarian and a mom and also a writer.

Okay, so bye.

Your friend, Laurel

P.S. I’m sorry you hurt your finger.

Hey, Look! A Writer Fellow!

The Penguin Ice Bucket was filled with more than 100 ballots! The Penguin Ice Bucket was filled with more than 100 ballots!

Holy cannoli, those Win A Doodle contest ballots came pouring in!

And along with the ballots came a wide and wild assortment of possibly perfect fictional pets. Some choices were inspired (Brain from Inspector Gadget) others were suicidal (Smaug from The Hobbit), and, in one case, bewildering (Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights).

Unfortunately, none of you selected the correct pet:

It's this guy. It’s this guy.

The perfect fictional pet is Gromit from Wallace & Gromit. The pooch is cute, quiet, brilliant, self-motivated, a cracking electrician, a fine housekeeper and a superb knitter. He also doesn’t shed, is not slobbery, and can take himself out for walks with or without Techno-trousers. He is also loyal enough to accompany his human to the moon and back.

As I said, perfect.

By the way, if you haven’t seen a Wallace & Gromit movie, please get on that won’t you?


Before I…

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Ghost dad LOL

Dear Writers,

Check out this amazing post about grief, bracelets, and infertility from Very Bangled . . .

Very Bangled

Alanna from White Girls Be Like posted a challenge, a competition! She’s hosting a Funny Blog Friday which sounds pretty alright. Since I’m competitive, and I like to think I’m funny despite my total inability to remember punchlines, I raised my hand.

But then I started re-reading my blogs. Turns out grief, bracelets, and infertility don’t make for a rollicking good time. So here’s a collection of my worst, darkest, least funny, most painful, absolutely terrible thoughts recently. Let me welcome you to rock bottom.

-If my dad were still alive we’d probably go to the baseball game tonight.
-My dad was the only person to ask me how my day went.
-It’s getting darker earlier and soon I’ll be walking home from work in the dark. Because my dad used to be my ride home and now he is dead. And nobody asks me how my day went anymore.

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