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A Writer's Valentine's Day

My lawyer’s office manager just wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day. “If you care about such things,” she said, and giggled.

“Well, it depends. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week,” I said. “Right now I am thinking about my first NYU class tonight, a 331 page manuscript I am evaluating, running my car--no alternate side parking today, it’s also Ash Wednesday—pulling some cash from a local ATM that donates $1.19 to the Actors’ Fund—lots of performers in my hood—and buying some milk. I’ll walk up the stairs at 187th Street, the Mt. Everest of Washington Heights, my exercise for the day.”

“That’s a long answer,” the office manager said.

“I’m a writer. By definition, we’re verbal.”

I think she needed to get off the phone. I hadn’t even asked her my burning question yet: “When will the next invoice be sent out?”

“Next week,” she said.

“Okay, good,” I said, cutting myself short. “Have a terrific rest of the day.”

“Good? You are looking forward to the next invoice?”

“Very much so,” I said.

We both laughed.

My day had started well: contact with a friendly person. Connection. Shared humor. Writing is a solitary occupation and maintaining contact is fuel and solace. One reason, among many, I love to teach. And I just used the word “love.” Happy Valentine’s Day to me and all my students, past, present and future.

Who will be my next-- please listen to my story-- victim? Well, my husband is in his office working. I can hear him on the phone. When I’m not writing or talking on the phone myself, or reading, I start to accumulate stories, questions, ideas, worries that I have to be expressed or I feel as though I’ll burst. Performers, visual artists, writers—we all feel an urgency normal mortals do not share: an impulse to express ourselves publicly, to share our experiences, observations and opinions. We don’t hold much back, we don’t want to hold much back, so we search for the medium—based on our particular talent—that best serves what we want to say. We’re not always successful, but we try.

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