The call for submissions to end all submission

I am a sucker for signs. I see evidence for action in unusual places: on the bumper sticker that says “I miss you!,” on the tractor trailer in front of me on the highway, or in that dream in which cats have snuck into my hotel room and eaten up all the free pastries left on a tray by the door, or when Nina Simone sings “For Myself” at the same time an article on the Self written by Maria Popova pops up in my feed.

This week, old houses keep popping up, too — mine and others’. In poems I haven’t written yet, but also in my waking life.

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Clue #1: After my middle son finished Key to the Treasure the other day, I was certain he was going to choose Clues in the Woods because choosing Haunted House would be very unlike him — he, like I am, is scared to be scared, especially before bed.

But he chose Haunted House, and after checking in with him to make sure this was the one he wanted to read next, we began.

Clue #2: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: “Leonard had grown up in an Arts & Crafts house whose previous owner had been murdered in the front hall. The grisly history of 133 Linden Street had kept the house on the market for years.”

Clue #3: This article from December about memory and mentally mapping our homes — it showed up at the top of my Twitter feed today. More than the study results, I was struck by the dollhouse image used to illustrate the story.  Dollhouses have a way of being so inviting and so terrifying at the same time. Like old hotels. Like Stephen King. I felt this way before I read The Dollhouse Murders and long before I saw The Shining.

Clue #4 is a secret. I won’t tell it, but no matter.

* * *

I am going to enter the contest to win a bed and breakfast in Maine.

I haven’t figured out yet how to explain to Janice in 200 words why it feels as though I am already the winner.

This makes me sound like a narcissist and I want to sound like a dreamer. Or at least like someone who lives her life one foot atop one pole and one foot atop the other.

I want to explain to Janice that the word Maine is blue and that I love that northern state because I spent four summers at overnight camp there, three of which I spent in love and that this is a good thing, not a thing that makes me crazy, but makes me the type of person who other people — guests — will be happy to see in the morning. And anyway, my husband will be the one cooking breakfast and serving pancakes in the shapes of native birds. Once he served our dinner guests sweet potato pancakes with a dollop of wasabi sour cream that was as delicate as a meringue. I will be the one who organizes the books in the library each night. (There will be vintage National Geographic magazines and perhaps a set of Encyclopedia Brittannica, too.) I will be the one who changes the sheets. I will keep the ghosts appeased. I will invite them to have tea in the garden so they don’t frighten the guests.

* * *

I had a dollhouse once. It was this one. Not this exact one, but its doppelganger.

(photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/magnoliasra/kh/)

* * *

I still love miniatures.

I love it that my husband sneaks into the bathroom before bed to set up clever scenes with the Playmobil my daughter left behind after her bath, with the purpose of surprising me when I happen upon them before brushing my teeth.

I especially love the miniature toilet and the European style hand shower: Bathroom appliances were never furnished with the dollhouses I played with as a child.

Which brings me back to the dream of the cats eating pastries in my hotel room.

I had been in the bathroom when they snuck in. They took advantage of my uniquely human need to relieve myself in privacy.

I was angry at first, but I couldn’t blame them. After all, I had left the front door open.

Synchronistically delicious

I am often troubled when I hear people use the word “serendipity” when I think they mean “synchronicity.” But I never really investigated the difference between the two words.

In my unresearched opinion, I always imagined synchronicity as attached to “meaningful” or extraordinary. Whereas serendipity is more playful, like a cup of frozen hot chocolate.

serendipity

Lucky. Fortuitous. Unexpected. Right place at the right time sorta thing.  Whereas synchronicity … when it happens … almost feels as if its arrival was fated. Expected, even if not by the participants. Anticipated, in some way, even if unseen to all but the gods until the very moment the synchronicity occurs.

Synchronicity, to me, carries in its meaning a certain divinity, a certain magic.

So much so that I remember distinctly when and where I was when I first heard the word and its layperson’s explanation.  I was at the lake house of a friend in celebration of her engagement. While dipping my feet in the lake, I chatted with a friend of the bride-to-be whom I’d never met before. She shared with me the details of a paper she was working on (perhaps her Master’s thesis or her dissertation), all on the topic of this experience called “synchronicity.”

I admitted to her that I’d never heard the word before.

“Oh,” she smiled. “But you’ve certainly had this experience.” She went on to describe what I had always thought of (at least since reading The Celestine Prophecy in 9th grade) as “meaningful coincidence.”

However, “meaningful coincidence” always sounded lame. Such a deeply moving or spiritual encounter needed a better descriptor.

“Synchronicity,” a word steeped in the concept of time (my favorite philosophical topic of conversation both then and now), was perfect for me. I was so thankful for having met this woman at the lake. Our meeting was, in fact, meaningful. Synchronicitous (synchronistic?), we joked at the time.

Perhaps this is why I loved so much Ginz’s response to my “haiku challenge” yesterday.

Walking alone is
often the first step towards
synchronicity.

This, indeed, is what I was going for when I was trying to describe the outcome of a walk alone I took yesterday. Too me, synchronicity, isn’t just a word, but a timely, yet timeless explanation for magic, for meaning, for connection.

When “alone” unexpectedly transforms into “no longer alone.” And loneliness is replaced by oneness.

Carl Jung said life begins at 40

Courtesy quotepixel.com

Courtesy quotepixel.com

Carl Jung, man … his words are a treasure box of quotes waiting to be mined for social media memes.

I was looking on Google this morning for a passage he wrote in his autobiography — Memories, Dreams, Reflections — and in passing discovered the above quote, not at all on the topic I was researching.

Nodding my head, I quickly downloaded the picture and uploaded it to my blog, eager to share it with all of you. Waiting for your “hell yeahs!” and your “don’t we know its!” and our joint agreement  that life sure does begin at 40.

But then I stopped. Right here. On this very line.

Did Jung really write this? The sentence phrasing sounds more like an inspirational poster they sell at university bookstores than a statement made by Jung.

Then I stopped again. On this very line.  Right here. And asked myself, “does it matter?”

Of course it does — in the long run scheme of things. No one should be out in the world molesting Carl Jung’s words and turning them into pretty pictures for Pinterest.

But in the short term scheme of things, maybe this sentiment was exactly what I was looking for today, and didn’t know it.  

Or maybe this quote led me to write this post which led me to find this article which led me right back to the information I was looking for.

Jung, man.

 

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Enjoy this post? Want to read more posts about turning 40?

Putting out fires at almost 40 

The “new 40”

Let the “summer of 40″ begin”