MY CREATIVE FOUNTAIN IS A CHLORINATED POOL

I’m privileged to be interviewed this weekend on a fascinating website called MAJK INK. Melody-Ann Jones Kaufmann asked me some very thoughtful questions about writing and my Incomplete Passes friends. If you’d like to go behind the scenes with IP and also meet Melody-Ann, a multitalented woman who is an author in her own right, here’s a link: http://www.safireblade.com/2012/11/incomplete-passes-reflections-on-life-love-and-football/.

In this blog post, I’m going to answer one more question about my work.

Del and I at East High

I once read an interview with Stephen King, in which he said the question his fans ask him most often is, “Where do you get your ideas?”  I guess that’s what readers generally want to know about authors.  Of course, since I’ve only written one book so far, and that one’s a memoir, I get a variation—“How do you remember all that?”

I suppose I do remember more about my childhood and teenage years than the average person my age. And my IP friends help me, although Del recalls very little. I think maybe she’s blocked things out because her father was ill through most of her teenage years and died while she was in college. Del seems delighted to have me tell her about things she did as a girl. She was tickled recently when I mentioned that in my earliest impressions of her, she wore a Brownie uniform.

My longtime friend C. Linda Dowell sparks memories when she scans old photos and shares them. Here’s one from the slumber party Del had for her fourteenth birthday. I’m wearing the cats-eye glasses, Pam has the braces, and Del is in front of us. We’re holding onto a baseball bat that was one of Del’s gifts.

But oddly, most of my memories come when I’m working out at the Mercy Healthplex in Cincinnati. Sure, it’s logical that the smell of chlorine from the Mercy pool takes me back to the YMCA pool in Green Bay, where I had my celebrated bathing-suit malfunction. But I think it goes farther. When I work out, I recapture the sensations I had when Carla, Del, Pam, and I capered across the Allouez school playground, playing touch football in the spring of 1961, the year we got together.

Allouez School. Site is now a drugstore.

I’ll never forget what I owe to Carla and Del. As active teens, through example, they transformed a lump of a girl into a tenacious, if untalented, athlete. That spring, my stomach flattened and my calf muscles became defined. “For the first time I experienced the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground, my body connected at the core, all the muscles working together.” Those feelings return as I work out today, and so do the memories.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2006 and ordered to resume an exercise program. I joined the Healthplex and lost fifty pounds. When, in due course, my rib cage and hip bones reappeared, it was like reconnecting with valued friends. In the company of these old pals, I became the girl I used to be—the honor student and writer with a bit of gym rat thrown in. It’s no coincidence that my desire to write was rekindled shortly after the diagnosis.

So I can’t recommend exercise too highly, for creativity as well as health benefits. There’s just one problem—when I flash back to the Sixties, I sometimes miss what the instructor is saying. So if you’re working out with me and I miss a few steps in a dance routine or crash into your lane during water aerobics, don’t think, “She’s a klutz.” You’re watching creative genius at work.

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