A gorgeous woman walked into my office. She looked about 40, dark hair, dark eyes, luscious light brown skin. She wore a skirt that flipped up around the bottom and a blouse with a scooped neck. She wore very high heels. She looked like she was born to salsa dance with a handsome man beside her.
I knew how to salsa dance.
“Hi,” I said. “How can I help you?” She came up to the counter that separated us. Before she had a chance to open her mouth, I said, “Would you like to go salsa dancing on Friday night?”
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Many decades ago, when I was in high school, we learned to waltz and square dance in P.E. class. Dancing was deemed that essential by the school system. There I was, a very tall girl, prancing about the gym floor with boys a foot shorter than me, making square patterns of footsteps in 3 quarter time. But you know what? If you asked me to waltz today, I bet I could do it.
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I remember a great day with the family, running around Austin and having fun. We stopped at Amy’s Ice Cream to both enjoy the ice cream and appreciate the antics of the help behind the counter.
Loud music was playing. The younger members of the family got up and danced an abandoned jitterbug right there in the ice cream store. A beautiful memory.
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There’s that certain Taylor Swift song – you know the one – that makes me jump up and dance. I can’t stay where I belong when that beat begins. My old bones respond to the rhythm in ways I can’t control.
You know, some of us around here were dancers in past lives. We may be past our prime, but we can still have a good time. I’m not the only one who gets wound up by Taylor Swift.
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I cover books for my magazine. I interview a lot of writers in this job. They love it when I ask them about their process. They love to explain how they do what they do, as if all the other writers in the world would do better if they did it the same way.
Here’s my process. I sit down in front of a keyboard and move my fingers over the keys, like a monkey writing Shakespeare. Just write.
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I heard the caged bird sing. I heard the train outside the Whistle Stop Cafe. I heard the crow speak “nevermore.” I heard the mountains echo. I heard the whispering wings of the monarchs. I heard all that in the pages of a book. All that I heard and felt and thought inside those books makes my life richer, fuller, happier.
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I know it’s been a long time. Almost 30 years. But there’s crap left behind. Some neurons connected in a cycle of fear and pain that still exists. I know it does because it comes out at night in nightmares. What I want to know is how to unconnect those old synapses – make those old tapes quit replaying in my sleep. Be at peace.
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Two old women sat on the bus in the seat behind me. I could hear every word they spoke. They picked at each other like an old married couple – maybe they were an old married couple.
“How could you forget your phone?” said lady on my left.
“It was charging. I forgot!” said lady to the right.
Left side said, “I never go anywhere without my phone.” She scoffed. “I can’t believe you did this!” There was a pause and she started in again. “What if something happens to you today? Did you think about that? What if you need help?”
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Now everybody has a camera in their pocket 24/7. But I still like to go places with my big camera strapped around my neck. It protects me from a lot of small talk, which I’m not good at. I can wander around quietly, invisibly, and snap shots of things that catch my eye. I do like to participate, not only observe. However, I love looking at things through that viewfinder, that lens, that particular focus.
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“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” She muttered. “Okay.” She sighed. “Okay, I’ll floss my freakin’ teeth.”
She left the dentist’s office still muttering. Floss. You’d think it was the second coming the way the dentist talked about it. All that BS about cavities and receding gums just sounded so gross. The damn dentist was lucky she remembered to brush sometimes. Bossy bitch.
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