Writer’s laryngitis



Writer’s laryngitis and its related condition, bloggingitis, is a painful loss of a writer’s voice, which if left untreated can lead to chronic guilt, shame, and increasingly lame excuses.



The ailment results in an uncontrollable urge to erase words on paper or hit the delete button on a computer; a stuffed up wastebasket, oozing over with crumpled papers; and complete avoidance of blogging sites, Most cases develop into a full-blown allergy to all forms of written expression.

Courtesy Pink Sherbet Photography: D Sharon Pruitt

Courtesy Pink Sherbet Photography: D Sharon Pruitt


Most of the time, writer’s laryngitis is caused by unhealthy amounts of latent procrastination in the writer’s blood. Other times an underlying cause is narrowing of the imagination, which reduces the flow of ideas, until they are completely obstructed. Some experts, such as Dr. Frye of the Americans Who Do Research Group, and his rival Dr. Frye of the French Who Do Too Group, are currently researching the causes. The American Frye contends there is a  a link to tube tuber tubby syndrome, what is commonly known as couch potato disorder. However, the French Frye considers this a half-baked idea.


Risk factors and complications

In mild cases, patients have an idea but cannot find the right word and so give up. Eventually they cannot find the left word, either, or even the ones in the middle. In severe cases the patient can do little more than stare at blank screens or blank notebooks. In some cases, sufferers find they cannot string more than two or three words together on a thread of thought.

Prolonged loss of voice can lead to linguistic atrophy, flaccid brain syndrome, and over-consumption of dark chocolate. If flaccid brain syndrome is not treated, the patient may become inert, find it impossible to get up off the couch, or even change the channel.


Treatment and drugs

There is currently no known medically approved treatment, but of course, there are drugs.

Spontaneous return of voice happens in some cases when the writer gets a new spirit, such as red wine. Other times, the cure comes by way of a talisman. Some writers swear by their lucky underwear, but may suffer a recurrence of the condition when the underwear is in the wash. Failure to wash the underwear can lead to social isolation, a leading cause of inviting too many cats into the home. Others have reported success by spitting into the wind three times on a Tuesday or writing blindfolded. No one treatment has proved efficacious for all cases.

Danger of Contagion

Writer’s laryngitis is not contagious, but it is highly annoying for people around the sufferer who are subjected to excessive sighing, whining, complaining, excuse-making, to say nothing of the need to do all of the channel changing.

Phases of the moon


Once I was a new moon, unseen, hidden in the dark universe of my mother’s womb. As she fed on the sun, swallowing sunlight silently gathered by plants, I grew into a small sliver of a crescent moon – a mere curl of the girl I would be.


Waxing day by day, more of me could be seen – small hands, feet, and face slowly revealed from the soft tissue, while the bones, pliable as new twigs, lengthened. Mother hid her lunate shape until I increased and she felt my orbit. When I reached the first quarter phase, her belly mirrored me.


For some length of days, I waxed gibbous within and her universe expanded. She knew my time would come soon.


When she could eat no more light, I shone through her, a full moon making my own self visible.


We women belong to the moon, following her cycle through the sky, waxing and waning through our lives. In this way the world is born again and again.


I have waxed full in my spin around the world, and despite an empty universe of a womb, I have had two full moons orbit my life.


Now I wane, and this phase – my last quarter – is almost spent.


Once I was full of light, but now so much is hidden. I follow the path forward, shrinking my way home in the dark night under the starshine, In the early morning hours, curled upon my bed, a small crescent shape beneath the covers, I wait and wonder about that final phase when I am too new to be seen.




Photos courtesy of Jay Tanner on Creative Commons

Waxing crescent: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-040.jpg
First quarter: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-088.jpg
 Waxing gibbous: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-134.jpg
 Full moon: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-168.jpg
 Waning gibbous: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-224.jpg
 Last quarter: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-265.jpg
Waning crescent:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-327.jpg

Spring is supposed to be the season when feathered hope sings



Spring is supposed to be the season when feathered hope sings, yet the mother was alone with six little ones to care for. All of the responsibility for food and shelter rested on her. She found a small place not far from where I live, barely big enough for one, yet they all squeezed in. It was little more than a place to sleep, but it sheltered them. It would be easy to judge her for leaving the little ones alone when she went out looking for food. She always waited until dark and stole most of it from the neighbors.



A female alone at night has to think about personal safety. She did, but care for her offspring compelled her to take chances.



She managed, at least for a while. Two weeks or so ago, she didn’t come home. The six she left behind waited, used to her absences, yet confident she would return. She never did.



Then several days ago the last of the snow melted, and the half-past-cool of the thermometer lured my grandchild and me outside to pull up the dead plants in the garden box. Tugging the skeletal remains of last year’s petunias unearthed tufts of gray and white rabbit hair mixed with cut grass placed carefully over a small indentation in the earth. When we began to move away the hair and grass, we uncovered six small but perfectly formed bunnies nestled together. In spite of the carefully built nest, not one was alive.



Their fur-covered skin showed they were at least eight days old; a week later they could have left the nest and started eating the remaining plants in my garden like their mother.



I laid out their small bodies on the dirt; and the two of us, grandchild and a grandmother, marveled at the grandeur before us. Such exquisite beauty hidden beneath the weeds. Life buried, created to rise up and live. All around us, life busied herself, greening the grass, sending up worms for the fat robins to tug out of the ground; and at our feet, death.



Last summer at the petting zoo, the two of us spent a good amount of time holding bunnies, feeling their hearts beat rapid and strong against our hands, like small drums calling us to dance, to breathe, and to embrace the sky. In the growing cold of this day though, no drumbeats were heard, only the grandchild wailing for the music that should have been.



I could offer no comfort; we each must face this horror alone. Death attends every banquet life throws. We don’t always see her, but she’s there; and when you least expect it, she shows her gaunt face and stares at you with those eyes. Like black holes in space, you feel their power to draw you in, sense the pull of that ravenous hunger, intent on swallowing up the world. What can you do except wail?



After I gathered up the grass and tufts of hair, plucked by the mother from her own body, I placed them in a small bag. Then I gently laid the kits, as bunnies are also called, and put them in the garage. It was a small concession to the child, who believed that if we kept them, they would forever remain as they were in death.



This stubborn hope of the child made my heart ache and at the same time strangely comforted me. We are creatures of hope, living in a world of unspeakable wonder. And this stubborn hope is the ancient hope, as ancient as spring itself.


Carried by hands


Hand Reaching

She comes out to greet me in the waiting room. I haven’t been waiting long. It is at day’s end and my work is finished. During the wait, I scratch in my final words to tell her what I need. I will not need to speak anymore.

She leads me into the room. In the dim light I notice only the table and chair. “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she says. I leave all of my clothes on the chair and wall hook; then I crawl under the covers and wait for the knock.

I lie on my stomach, my face cradled in the open circle at the top of the table. She turns on music, soft flutes and ocean waves.

I yield to her hands, oiled and searching. She finds my pain. Some aches I knew I carried; others lie hidden, deep within me. She seeks them out – knots of worry, muscles clenched, holding their breath. She forces them to breathe.


The pain cannot leave me until I feel it. Worry, long-forgotten deadlines, and anger hide within, cling to my bones. Her hands draw them out.

She murmurs and I turn, eyes closed, heart and mind still. Inside this room, I am outside my life, an in-between place.

I arrived once just as I am now, unclothed, at the mercy of hands. My leaving will be like this. An angel will prepare me for the crossing over. Her hands will find my hurt and pain and carry it away. I have swallowed darkness and sorrow; it clings to my bones. But it will yield to those hands.

We shall not speak; my words, as they are now, will be left there in the waiting room.

Then she will push my barge into the waters and the music will carry me across. And there will be hands, familiar hands, waiting on that other side.

Grand Teton National Park

Back massage photo courtesy of Nick Webb   

Wild horses could drag me away


Female_horse-champ_Kitty_Canutt_(1919)_by_unknownThe spoken language is a herd/heard of wild mustangs, thundering through the mouths of millions of speakers who ride the nearest horse at hand. And because they’re wild, you see and hear fights breaking out between verbs and subjects who are never going to agree this side of Wichita, Texas, so you may as well get used to it. Wild horses don’t care if the verb and subject agree; in fact, it doesn’t take much to pit one against another as they rush through the air straight into your ear. Listen now and you’ll hear them stampeding by, saying, “My brother and his family from Illinois lives just down the street.” And if pronouns concern you, you may as well start wearing earplugs or walk around with your fingers in your ears because I guarantee some horse-whipping fool is going to tell you a secret and warn you not to tell anybody because it is “between you and I.”


The written language, on the other hand, is a corral of horses, tame or almost so, taught to let the writer/rider hogtie other people’s minds and hearts, just so the horse whisperer can win the rodeo, even if there’s only a few people in attendance. Once you fall in love with horses, you can’t do anything else. After you make a few of them eat out of your hand, they own you, and you spend the rest of your life lying in wait in cold canyons biding your time until some of those wild mustangs stop to eat; then you lasso as many as you can and take them home.


It’s a cold and lonely business, and it’s not always pretty. Their hooves are sharp and they can leave you bloodied, dirty, and discouraged. Not a few can jump any fence you can build. But sometimes, just sometimes, you pick yourself up from the ground for the one-hundredth time, ready to quit and swear off horses, but you don’t. You dust yourself off, climb back on, and the horse lets you stay. When that happens, nothing else matters. It’s just you and the horse, and you feel like you can ride forever.



Death in two parts


_DSC2549 - Version 2 

I. Death is an empty place


The heart dies first, emptying slowly until its fragile shell sits silently in your chest. The lungs resist, hungry as wolves in winter, biting after the air, until they starve, buried in the noiseless snow.


The ragged-edged knife of sorrow scrapes the bones clean. Despair burns the bones to ash, washed away by what tears are left. The rest follows until you are hollowed out, your body weightless, floating through the world, tethered against your will.


The dreams are the last to go.


Only the echo of your voice remains. Your family, friends, and acquaintances fail to mourn you. They cannot tell the living from the dead.


But you know.


Death is an empty place.




II. Rising from the dead is harder than it looks


In death you grow fond of silence. You rest in the stillness, free from pain or want.


If you could only close your eyes forever, you could remain in that emptiness. But the world lies in wait. A leaf splattered with red and green falls and when you stoop to touch it, the sun’s fire scorches your hand. Longing with its pain enters you, furtively like a thief. The moon waits for you behind a hedge of cloud, reaches out and holds you like an old lover. Its soft light cleaves the darkness. In the distance, you see hope and turn away. Too late. One by one memories trudge back, dragging promises to fill the empty room.


The lungs resist breathing again. You dread that old hunger, the desire for air that can never be satisfied. Every breath seeks another and another.


Life abhors a vacuum; it forces its way back in. The daily meals, the work, the cleaning, the bills, the neighbors, the care of children, they all crowd into you, jostling for space, clumsy and needy. They crush that empty shell of a heart. You spend the rest of your life trying to put it back together again, looking for the pieces. It will never be the same. When your misshapen, patched-up heart finally beats again, you cry, because you know the heart is always the first to go.



It happened in August


It happened in August. I knew better than to wade into the water, but I’m compulsive that way.


The water seemed calm enough, barely a ripple on its surface. Maybe it was the shattered sunlight, winking and blinking like a thousand sequins, that drew me farther in. My feet followed the slope of the earth until I stood in chest-high water.


That’s when I saw the wave out on the horizon. I always think it is a small wave brought by some unseen current, a wave that will wash over me gently, but not pull me under.


So, I stood there and waited.


I should have known, and if I’m honest, I did know, but I have a chronic case of optimism that affects my vision. I’m so nearsighted that I cannot recognize reality until it’s right in front of me.


When it was too late to turn back, I saw what lay beneath that wave: the great whale. And it swallowed me, as it has done year after year.


For four and a half months I traversed the ocean in the belly of that whale, my old companion. Then last week, he spit me out, worn and wasted, my eyes unused to the light. For two days I lay on the beach, asking myself if I would return to the beach or move inland.


Next time it will be different, I tell myself. Teaching will not swallow me whole; I will teach and have a life. Sitting by the fire here on the shore, watching the small waves roll in, I believe that.


Next time it will be different. In January I will return to the shore, believing, always believing.


I am called to the sea. I cannot stay away.



 Photos: Seashore   Whale