Throwing Away My Shot

I’ve known for a few months now that I was going to have a chance to shoot a free throw on the court at Madison Square Garden. Part of the reason I bought my tickets was that free throw. The idea of standing on that court where I’d watched so many games, where I’d seen so many great players, was too good to resist.

So I knew … but I didn’t do anything to get ready for that moment. Instead, I spent most of my time thinking of ways to get out of having to take the shot. I had no illusions, was entirely certain that I would miss the basket by a fairly large margin. I was mostly concerned about embarrassing myself in front of the dozens of people who’d be on the court with me.

Last night was the game, Knicks v. Pistons. I haven’t been to a professional basketball game in a long time, and it was fun to be there, fun to remember my long-ago history of being an avid fan, of traveling to games as a teenager, of shouting myself hoarse, of my favorite cheers from high school, of following NCAA games with my sister … of having the Knicks break my heart every year, and Patrick never getting his championship ring.

The Knicks came through last night, however, winning 96 to 84. That was satisfying.

It was also clouded by my growing nerves about the foul shot moment that was fast approaching. It came, it went. And no one’s blowing up my phone trying to sign me for a WNBA contract. (heh)

I worried that I wouldn’t get the ball anywhere near the net, pretty sure that I don’t have the upper body strength or the awareness of what to do with my body to propel the ball correctly. Yeah, right on all counts. Mine was one of the more glorious whiffs of the night, at least in my eyes. Alas.

There was this shining moment, however, when I looked like I might actually know what I’m doing:

Foul Shot_3-8-20

The ball felt good in my hands — light, manageable, small and tossable. I had a brief flicker of, “Maybe … ”

And three seconds later it was the walk of shame off the court to get my coat and get out. Sigh.

I have other talents. And it’s good to remind myself of them in moments like this.


It’s March, which means it’s time for the
13th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Curious? Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

Three Short Years — SOLSC 13

I met with my mentee this morning for a couple of hours. I’ve been volunteering with Girls Write Now for three years now. It’s so hard to believe it’s already three years, and that Naima is about to graduate from high school. Being her mentor has been a great experience for me — and for her, too, I hope! — and I’m excited to see her move into the next stage of her life as she starts college in the fall, and I’m already thinking ahead to what I’ll do next year. Yes, I can re-up as a mentor and meet a new, equally-wonderful young woman to work with. And it’s likely that I’ll do exactly that. But Naima and I clicked so instantly and our meetings were great from the start. Surely I can’t get that lucky twice in a row.

But those decisions are for another day. Today was about laughing over cups of tea at our favorite cafe and doing some writing. I found some great writing prompts on the Warren Wilson College website, and we’ve been working through them. We’ve tried writing stories using only one-syllable words (so hard!) and writing a story that’s 26 sentences long, each sentence beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. Today we wrote about our first names — why they were chosen for us, what stories are attached to them, what they mean.

I have a few months of Sunday morning hangouts with Naima left. I’m already feeling nostalgic for them.


We’re almost halfway through the 2016 edition of the Slice of Life Story Challenge! Head over to Two Writing Teachers to see what the rest of the slicers are up to … and to post the link to your own slice!

SOL image 2014

It’s alright if you love me …

Had an audio flashback yesterday that’s still playing its tune today. I was sent back in time to the first time I heard Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. “Breakdown” was an instant favorite for me. Something about the way Petty sang those first lines:

It’s alight if you love me.
It’s alright if you don’t.
I’m not afraid of you running away, honey.
I get the feeling you won’t.

I’d never heard anyone sing like him. The sound of his voice, the sound of that lyric. They just clicked so hard for me. I was young and unworldly enough that I didn’t fully understand what Petty was singing about, but the song communicated with me all the same. Fox (my younger sister) and I used to sing this song all the time. I was Petty, she was the Heartbreakers. If we’d grown up Irish, “Breakdown” would have been one of our party pieces.

Heard five seconds of the intro guitar behind a promo for a news show on my way out the door yesterday … and I was cast back, back upstate, standing in the living room in front of the stereo, singing with Fox.

Woke up with the song in my head today. First thought, before “snowmageddon 2015,” before conscious thought. Thanks, NPR, for that musical time travel magic.

Something inside you
is feeling like I do.
We’ve said all there is to say.

Baby —

Breakdown, go ahead and give it to me.
Breakdown, honey, take me through the night.
Breakdown, now I’m standing here, can’t you see —
breakdown, it’s alright.
It’s alright.
It’s alright.


It’s Tuesday, friends. There’s snow on the ground, and it’s a Slice of Life day. Head over to Two Writing Teachers to see the rest of the day’s slices.

SOL image 2014

The one about me and Elvis.

(Not that Elvis.)

There have been a few slices this month about music and memory, songs that take us back to some particular place, time, person. I’ve written a few posts like that, too.  (My favorite is the one about Prague and She’s Crafty.) These new posts are inspiring me to dip back into that well.

There are so many songs, right?  So many memories tied to music.  The first workshop we did for Girls Write Now was “Music Memoir,” and I wrote a piece about a song that called up sadness over the loss of my father.  And then there’s the one about When Doves Cry and the memory of falling in love in Ljubljana.  So many songs.  So many memories.

The one that keeps tapping my shoulder tonight is from the same trip that gave me the Beastie Boys memories of Marek.

I spent a lot of time walking during that trip to Prague.  And a lot of time alone.  My friends all had school or jobs, so their days were spent in their lives and we would meet up after dinner.  So during the day I walked, from one end of the city to the other, through tiny cobbled streets, in and out of parks, up to the castle, back and forth across the bridges over the Vltava.  I listened to music most of the time because it was a way to put up a wall. (Hmm … that probably needs explaining, but that’s a longer story.  Maybe tomorrow.)  And although I listened to a lot of different music — Jimi Hendrix, Joe Jackson, Joni Mitchell — the song that is locked to the city for me is Elvis Costello’s (The Angels Wanna Wear) My Red Shoes.

I hear the opening beats and I’m sitting on a bench by the river, writing in my journal, trying to find the words that will make the golden light and the smell of lilacs stay alive on the page, trying to keep track of the few words I was learning in Czech, starting to work on a story that would grow into the first long story with a fully completed arc I’d ever written. I hear that song and I’m riding the tram, and I’m walking, walking, walking … up to the castle, back down through the gardens, around the Old Town, around the Kampa, stopping for coffee or ice cream (two of the three kinds of “food” I knew how to say in my first days in the city), and then starting over again.  I remember the gorgeous garden I discovered on some side street, the gate open and the ivied stone benches too inviting to pass up.  I have no idea if that was someone’s private home, a school, a business.  There was no one around for the whole time I sat there dreaming.

I haven’t been back to Prague since that trip. I imagine it is hugely different now (that visit was in the mid-80s, after all).  I hope I would still find it magical, still find at least some of the tiny corners of loveliness I found on those long walking days.

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Find all of today’s slices on Two Writing Teachers.

SOL image 2014

Hungry, hungry, I am hungry. Table, table, here I come … (SOLSC 31)*

Long ago, I was 16 and a member of the youth group at my church.  That year, we decided to raise money for a) the Kodiak Baptist Mission Project in Alaska and b) the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.  I have no memory of us making these decisions, no idea of how we would have heard of either of these groups in our sleepy little, caught in a 1950s time warp town.  But somehow we did.

Our plan: get parishioners in the church to give us their recipes, make their recipes into a cookbook, and sell the cookbook back to the same people that donated the recipes.  A million-dollar idea!

Sure to make our plan a hit?  The section headings illustrated by — you guessed it — me!

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I am at my mom’s for Easter and for Fox’s birthday, which is also today.  This morning, my mother asked if I’d like to have the cookbook, since I made it and it might be a nice keepsake for me.  Tonight, Fox and I flipped through the cookbook to see what amazing meals were popular back in 1979.

There was a somewhat shocking number of jello-based salads.  Even a town hung up on the 50s shouldn’t have that many jello salads.  There was the surprise of finding recipes for hummus and granola.  There was a recipe for “Wassail,” which makes me think some of us were in a Dickensian time warp rather than a Happy Days one.  A recipe for “Mystery Pudding,” which, since the ingredients are listed right at the top, isn’t much of a mystery at all.  And there is a special collection of “Campfire Cooking” recipes that includes such amazing numbers as eggs cooked in orange shells over the coals (seriously) and Porcupine Meat Balls, which don’t contain porcupine meat or anything spiky, but which do include ground beef, grape jelly and ketchup … and which confuse the mess out of me.  My favorite of the campfire recipes is the one for “Angels on Horseback,” which lists three simple ingredients: slices of cheese, slices of bacon and green sticks with a pointed end … you know, for holding your cheese and bacon over the fire, which is basically the whole of the cooking instruction.  How, exactly do you cook slices of cheese on a stick? Really, how?

Best of all best-ness, however, is one of the last recipes in the book: Marriage Stew.  Please remember that these recipes were all donated by the adults in my church.  This one by a man named Will whom I don’t remember at all.  Because it’s so amazing, I’m going to share the full recipe, exactly as it appears in the book:

Marriage Stew (2 full servings)

2 concerned persons                                             2 cups love
2 pinches understanding                                       2 teaspoons patience
2 cans trust                                                           2 well rounded sex
plenty of honest friendship

First combine the two concerned persons with the two cups of love in an adequate, comfortable mixing area.  Next blend in the understanding and patience and beat lightly with a spoon made of laughter until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.  Now add the two cans of trust and pour mixture into the casserole of life and place over low heat to simmer.  This is also the time to add tears, dreams, touching, remembering, or any other spices you feel will make your stew more exciting.  As the mixture is simmering, saute the sex in tenderness and perhaps a little wine on special occasions.  Add this to main casserole until desired strength is reached.  While stew is cooking, you might want to sprinkle in a little singing, dancing, playing, or praying — you be the judge.  Cook to taste; garnish with a kiss or two and serve with the honest friendship.

“2 well rounded sex”?  Sauteed in wine?  And why are tears the first “spice” to be added?

I don’t remember how much we sold the cookbooks for.  I can’t imagine we sent a whole lot of money to Alaska or the Philippines.

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And that’s it for another wonderful year of the Slice of  Life Story Challenge!
Thank you Stacey and Ruth for bringing us all together every March.
Thank you to all the fabulous slicers, too!  See you next year!

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* The Super Supper March. Thank you, Dr. Seuss Song Book!