Cracking Open

Dear Writing Friends,

It is Monday and I am in my studio, sneaking in a few moments for writing before finishing my preparations for Passover. I have a brisket in the oven and two Pyrex dishes piled with roasted vegetables. I spent the better part of yesterday complaining that I didn’t want to chop them. My right thumb hurt from repetitive stress – between the iPhone and writing by hand, I’ve been asking a lot of it lately – and my shoulders were sore from sitting in bad theater seats on Saturday. I felt fatigued and didn’t think I had the energy to face one more task. But I promised my cousin, who was gracious enough to invite us to Seder.

I hauled my ass to the kitchen and laid out the produce I purchased the previous day: four sweet potatoes, eight white potatoes, four rutabagas, a bag of carrots, six beets, two onions and multiple cloves of garlic. I oiled the Pyrex and began peeling and slicing. It was difficult at first. My peeler isn’t as sharp as it used to be and those root vegetables are tough. I put on Chimes of Freedom, a tribute album to Bob Dylan, and felt my body relax. The vegetables instantly became more interesting as I exposed their interiors. I found white veins inside the blood red beets, and discovered two different layers underneath the skin of the rutabaga. As my shoulders loosened, the vegetables became easier to chop. Even the grater worked more effectively. When I came to the point in the CD when Diana Krall sings “Simple Twist of Fate,” I cracked open. I remembered I was engaged in something holy—not only a Jewish holiday, but the simple privilege of preparing fresh food.

These small awakenings of the mind are the pivotal points of story, moments when inner turmoil gives way to clarity. In the course I’m teaching this spring, we’ll mine these moments to creative powerful, personal essays. There are a few spots left. I hope you’ll join us.

My best to each of you,



Writing Topic: The moment I realized something.

Quotation: If you stay in relation to writing (rather than zoning out for six years) and you connect with writing friends, read, listen deeply, you will write wha tyou want but most likely never the way you imagined it.   (Natalie Goldberg, The True Secret of Writing)



(C) 2011 Saundra Goldman