Friday, September 30, 2011

Just Like I Used To Do...

by Amy LV

Students - lately I have been focusing more on writing regularly in my notebook. It may because of all of the peeks I've been taking into others' notebooks at my new blog, Sharing Our Notebooks. It may because I'm digging into Julia Cameron's book FINDING WATER: THE ART OF PERSEVERANCE. But no matter the reason, I'm so glad to be nestling into fresh pages this fall.

Yesterday I was diddling along in my book, writing about the quiet morning, the colors outside my window, and the steam-patterns rising from my mug of tea. I always allow myself to change directions, switch ideas at any time, let the writing find its path, and that's just what I was doing. At once I was writing about a memory I've told you before.

Years ago, when Mark and I lived in the suburbs, we had some sweet girl-neighbors. One day they came by to swing their dolls in our blue hammock...but they had their dolls hidden in plastic bags so no one would see that they still liked dolls. Well, I still like dolls. And I like my daughters' dolls too, even though none of us play with them so much any more. Dolls, like so many other things, feel alive to me.

So during yesterday's writing time, I imagined one small interaction between a girl (Me? My daughter? My old neighbor girl?) and her doll, a little snatch of pretend-time. In it, I saw me as a little girl and my daughters as grown-ups, my mother as a child, and me as a grandma. We girl-women in my family all used to play dolls, but so suddenly it seems that things change. Just yesterday I was putting plastic ice skates on my Ginny doll. And now...I'm a real mom! Strange.

In Jamie Lee Curtis's book WHEN I WAS LITTLE: A FOUR YEAR OLD'S MEMOIR OF HER YOUTH, the narrator talks about things she "used to do." What did you "used to do"? Try making a list of all of the things you used to do...and all of the things you do now. Choose one thing and write, write, write. Don't think too hard; just follow the line of your pencil.

Dar Williams illustrates a feeling of change very well for me in her song, one of my favorite songs, "When I Was A Boy."

One way which I feel very privileged to be spending some of my autumnwinter time is as a first round poetry judge for the 2011 CYBILS. The CYBILS are the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, and nominations for every category begin tomorrow, October 1 and go through October 15. To learn more about the CYBILS, visit here.

Happy Poetry Friday to all! Sara is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Read Write Believe.

(Please click on POST A COMMENT below to share a thought.)


  1. Hi Amy, very powerful poem in its stark simplicity. Thank you for sharing that.
    And yes, congratulations on being chosen as one of the judges for Cybils! That's bound to be lovely work.

    Dar Williams is also one of my favorite singer-songwriters. Speaking with Angels though is my fave among her many songs. I also have Jamie Lee Curtis' book "When I was Little" - I believe I bought this as a present for my then-four-year-old girl. One of her favorite bedtime tales when she was four. :)

  2. I never talked to dolls; they mostly stayed on shelves, looking out. But the stuffed animals and I carried on quite a lot. I still have one teddy bear. What a beautiful poem. I like the words you had her say, just as we all thought, those 'things' took care of us. I also enjoyed your explanation of how things can change, and the poem shows that wistfulness for what was.

  3. Just like I use to! Thought provoking words......Who Am I now? Who was I then? If I could talk to "My little Girl" what would I say. I wasn't a girl with dolls, I was a girl with kitties. Ooooh the things I use to do with my kitties....they were always there for me, through it ALL. Reading this it makes me wish I had a doll, I may have to go and buy one! Thank you for the inspiratin!

  4. Great post, Amy - nostalgic for folks like me and timely for younger readers! I was very attached to my stuffed animals and dolls - and, I, um, have my whole glass animal collection on a shelf above my drawing table in my office right now.... like Toby, I love "one shoe off - hair unbrushed."

  5. Your poem reminds me of my 12 year-old granddaughter. Softball, cello and fantasy novels vie for attention while the dolls of just a few years ago sit in corners. And I remember my Ginny dolls! Thank you, Amy.

  6. Congrats on being a judge. I've served several times, and loved being able to talk poetry with other passionate poetry lovers.

    My old Raggedy Ann doll sits in my writing office. She a very kind muse. :)

  7. I love that little view of a girl and her doll - brings back memories for me of the times I felt myself moving away from my beloved dolls and toys. Bittersweet.

  8. Wow. This poem really touches a chord deep within me. I won't even get started with the personal stories here, I'll just drop a book title: THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL by Kirby Larson. Must-read book to go with your poem.

  9. Thank you, friends, for the stories. It's amazing how time goes by...and we have these worn tokens to remind us of what we once so loved. Mary Lee - I'll definitely be reading that book. A.