Unless otherwise attributed, all content, text or image, on this site is © TaunaLen 2005-2011.
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Friday, May 23, 2008

What Myself Said to Me

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
And write.

Just trust your voice to say what needs to be said.
Trust your pen to write what needs to be written.

You have amazing in you.
You have potential and beauty and talent and purpose.

And focus.
And let go.
And write.
Trust yourself.
Just do it.
Because no one else can write your words --- nobody will spill your heart.
If you don't write --- those words will die in you.
And the world will mourn the loss of what it never knew.

You don't have time to waste.

Get to it.
Lay it out.
Ask the questions.
Make the choices.
Plan and commit.
Follow your pen.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Venetian Carousel

The flashing lights fill her blue eyes as she brushes the blonde curls from her cherubic face, and stands almost-patiently in line with her handful of tokens. The sign says “Venetian Carousel”, and it is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. If she stands on tiptoe, she can see over the shoulder of the girl in front of her, and she is trying to decide which animal to ride. Horses in every color stand ready to run; but horses are boring. A zebra with black and white stripes looks inviting, though all she can see from here in the line are his flanks, and the red ribbons in his tail.

She shifts from one foot to the other in her excitement, and almost drops her tokens surrendering them to the tall boy at the gate. Running quickly for the steps, she takes a quick turn around the first level of the beautiful carousel. The red and gold benches are cool to her touch. She smiles at a black seal with a blue saddle, next to a black and yellow dragon with bright red spikes. A blue dolphin and a long-eared hare stand side by side, ready to race around the track, and she laughs with glee at the princess cars and the teacup ride, before mounting the steps to the upper level.

Her heart pounds in her throat with each step. She is a little afraid, but holds tightly to the railing, and finally makes it to the top. A white-faced panda greets her, as she weaves her way through more horses, a lion, a seal and a red and brown dragon. Then she sees him. A blue and white seahorse stands before her, sparkling in the flashing lights—the most beautiful thing her seven-year-old eyes have ever seen. His orange and purple saddle is just low enough that she can scramble aboard. She hugs his great, strong neck, and shivers with anticipation, as she cranes her head to see her grandpa down below.

She starts to wave in his direction, but the bell rings sharply, and she grasps tightly to the pole. The music plays, and the carousel begins to move. Laughter rings out all around her, and it feels to her as though the black horse behind her is gaining ground, but she knows her seahorse will not let him pass. She closes her eyes and imagines she is racing through the ocean on the back of this beautiful creature.

Soon the music slows, and the carousel stops. The race is over, and she has won. Kissing her seahorse goodbye, she bounds down the stairs to the winner’s circle in her grandpa’s waiting arms.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Yellow Line

Another treasure box post. This time, the treasure comes from the box of a friend.

The yellow line stretches
to the horizon and beyond
like so much ribbon.

I gaze at it long and hard
until it blurs in the distance
and something in me tightens
like a guitar string
waiting to be struck.

Shimmering off of
the road ahead,
the heat seems to vibrate
in time with the starting
of my reluctant engine.

I let it idle
for a moment or two.

A breeze finds my
open window and lifts
the damp hair from
the back of my neck.

I tug on the gear shift,
and smile as the crunch
of gravel echoes
in my head.

Pulling onto the
deserted black top,
I feel my heart race
as that yellow line
stretches out in front of me,
measuring the distance
between here and the
hazy edge of the world.

I’m not sure
what’s out there,
but I know
I have to chase it.

I have to get closer
to something I can’t find
back there parked
on the side of this
long black road.

TLS, 2008

Stopping Time

As I continue to sift through my treasure box, I hope to write about some of the things hidden there. The following is an example:


What is it about a stopped pocket watch, a wristwatch with a dead battery, or a grandfather clock in a dark hallway, covered in inch-thick dust?

I have an affinity for time-pieces, a room in my house where the walls are covered by bookshelves and clocks—pendulums swinging, soft ticking echoing off of the ceiling and sliding down the walls to the hardwood floor. I like that time is measured, meted out…that if I’m waiting for something to happen, there is a moment, when it will, and when the preceding moments are counted down, that split-second of realization will arrive. That thought helps me be a bit more patient, to hope knowing the moment isn’t always somewhere out there in the future…it must get closer, it must finally arrive. So, the whole working, ticking, functioning timepieces thing makes sense to me.

Then there are the broken watches, the dead battery timepieces in my treasure box. What do they represent? I think maybe they are mementos of history. Moments past, marking a lifetime, mine, or someone else’s, when something significant happened. Those moments when everything changed. Or when time was frozen, as by a photograph. I think a wristwatch that is forever stopped at 1:37 may be a reminder of the very moment when someone said “I love you”, or the devastating news was delivered to the one whose heart would be forever broken. There’s significance in these frozen hour and minute hands, even that second hand that is normally in perpetual motion, is beautiful stopped on that tiny second line between the nine and the ten on that tarnished silver wrist watch.

I am, I guess, a lover of minutes. All of them. They are the things that make up a life, a relationship, a memory. I guess the moments past are as important to me, as the ones yet to come…those seconds of “appointed time” that I am waiting to see come to pass. I am a child of time, and cannot imagine timelessness. I need these markers, to tell me where I’ve been, and where I’m going.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fireflies in a Velvet Sky

The wind sighs through the leaves on the tree overhead, as twilight descends upon us. The sky turns to velvet, with a single, diamond-like star, sewn into its fabric. I long to reach out and run my fingers over the textured folds---in varying shades of blue and black. I stand at the corner of the house, and gaze down an overgrown path. Tractor wheels have recently flattened the green, spring grasses into two long lines that disappear in the distance. The trees reach toward each other overhead and draw my eyes toward what I know to be a grove of cedars just beyond the curve and out of sight.

But in my imagination, this road could lead to any number of magical places. In the distance, fireflies dance just beyond the lights of the truck behind me, and I know that if I followed them, I could escape this world and enter a new one just inside the tree line. Overhead, the moon glimmers, and I can hear the call of a whippoorwill and the sound of crickets.
Behind me are the voices of loved ones sharing conversation with each other, and a crackling fire in a barrel-shaped pit. The smell of hamburgers lingers in the air, but beyond that is the wet scent of early evening.

I am comfortable here, loved ones within sight, within hearing range – but my face, my body is turned toward that imaginary place at the end of this lane. I long to go there---not so much physically---but in my mind. I long to write of where that road might lead, and what it would be like to step into a world where fireflies are my friends---where they lead me on a treasure hunt for beauty that can take your breath---to a place where trees and frogs and water speak in voices I can understand, and each welcome me back from a long journey, to a place as familiar as the voices of those family members sitting in the twilight around the fire.

I take a step in that direction, close my eyes, and I am gone…

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Treasure Box

I’m thinking of a list of things, items that inspire me and make me smile. Little things, keepsakes, mementos, what most people would label junk, and probably sell in a garage sale, or toss in the trash bin. If I had a treasure box, the kind you find hidden under the bed of a ten-year-old child, here are a few of the things it would contain:

skeleton keys
tiny silver spoons
scraps of red ribbon
a handful of thimbles
coins from other countries
leftover ends of used candles
a set of my father’s cuff links
phrases, quotes, and peculiar words
pocket sized, aged, cloth covered books
faded photos of strangers and strange places
a set of my Mimi’s salt and pepper shakers
jars of buttons in every shape and color
stopped wrist or pocket watches
one of my grandfather’s pipes
notebooks half full of poetry
smooth multi-colored stones
the sounds that frogs make
postmarked stamps
an old library card
a broken teacup

Funny thing is, these treasures make their way into my stories. They appear over and again, and make me smile. These pages are my treasure box, and if you read them, it’s the same as sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom and exploring the depths of that treasure box.

What’s in your box? What pieces of ephemera find their way into your stories, just because you love them, and want others to hold them in their hands, gaze at them, and remember, too?

Friday, May 2, 2008


Today I’m watching my oldest child don her cap and gown. She’s complaining about how unattractive they are. She finds the tassel amusing. “I should have unwrapped this thing a week ago, and hung it up so the wrinkles would fall out.” She laughs, and waves it off.

Sometime after eight o’clock tonight, she will be awarded her Associate in Arts Degree in Music. For her, tonight is a dry run. A dress rehearsal. “It’s not a real graduation, Mom. That one happens in two years, when I get my Bachelor’s degree. You can make a big deal then.”

But for me, this is a big deal. Tonight is a right of passage. I’ve watched her for two years… filling out paperwork for grants and scholarships, staying up late to write papers and practice guitar, piano, and voice. I’ve been to performances and recitals, read papers, and watched her grow.

She did this. She worked long hours to pay for it. She worked long hours to earn her GPA. She jumped in and got involved in student government. And tonight marks the end of a season for her.

No big deal.

But as she chooses her dress, and models her mortarboard, I can’t help but swallow hard, and take a deep breath. This is a very big deal. Partly because the other thing she’s doing today, is organizing her stuff---into boxes. She has a rental lined up, two great roommates, and the deposit has already been paid. She got her acceptance letter in the mail last week. August. She’s really going. My baby is gonna be a Missouri State Bear.

I guess that makes me the proud Mama Bear.

Very proud.

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