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Here is an excerpt from my Work in Progress, titled Searching for Here: Mapping an Unfenced Life.


Bellevue, Iowa.

December 21, 2019, the winter solstice.

The days are dark, the nights are cold, and I'm thinking of the tropics. What would it take to get out of cold dark Iowa, besides time and money? My husband and I could get in the car and drive south, likely traveling through weather even more wet and icy than it is here. I'm terrified of thundering semi-trucks, reckless sports cars, and heedless SUVs on winter roads. I wonder about the alternative of flying. Specifically, I wonder about flying with a dog. Therefore, I google the phrase "flying with a dog." I know people bring dogs with them when they travel. I've seen big hairy beasts crated up in travel kennels, loaded into the cargo bay of an airplane along with the luggage and golf bags. I can only hope those dogs are well sedated before they're strapped in. For my own dog, this would never work. At 8 pounds, this short-haired chihuahua would freeze to death before the plane left the tarmac. I'd have to find a way to carry her on board and wrap her in a blanket on my lap. I recall the times I've flow out of the nearby airport in Dubuque, which only has one destination: Chicago. From O'Hare we can board flights headed in all directions of the globe. Have I ever booked a flight out of that airport that has been on time? Nope. How on earth would I keep a skittish, 2-year-old dog settled on a long, unpredictable journey? I guess we're staying put. Not just for today or for the winter. Probably, forever.

December 22

Tomorrow, in Bellevue, Iowa, the day will be four seconds longer than today. That is, we'll start escaping the doldrums between the period of shortening days and shortening nights. On only one day do sunlight and darkness find counterpoise, and today is it. What better time to journey inward? Thus, my first go at daily writing since I was a ten-year-old in Kansas City, and just knew the world would be fascinated by my thoughts. Yet, I couldn't bear the idea of anybody knowing them. That's why I kept my little diary locked with the little key it came with. Nancy Drew-like, I tucked my mystery under the mattress of the lower bunk, while my sister spent her nights on the upper bunk. Four years older than I, Leslie knew where the diary was and where the key was. She couldn't have cared less although she teased me by threatening to read it. Fifty years later, I'm a middle-aged woman living in a small town in the middle of the county. I’m invisible to most of the world. Yet I still feel somebody out there will be fascinated by my every thought but can't bear the idea of anybody knowing them. That's why I'm sitting here on a dark Iowa morning, freezing rain spitting on my poet-garret window, secretly working out ways to illuminate my truth with fictional devices like character, conflict, narrative voice, and plot types. Of the seven basic plot types, I'm going with Voyage and Return. That seems to be the story of my life. Or at least the one I tell people.

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