Stuff I Write, Stuff I Like

Stuff I Write: On Writing, 40-Somethingness, Mortality and Red Cake

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Here’s an excerpt from my essay, “It’s Over Before You Know It.” The nice folks at Hobart published it in their May issue. It’s about writing, mortality, and of course red cake. Get a bigger piece over at Hobart.


Last week, my birthday passed without time to celebrate. No cake, no party. I’ve been working a lot.  My daughter refuses to believe I’m a year older because I didn’t blow out any candles.

“If you don’t blow out your candles, you’ll never be 49,” she says, a good thought.


I don’t worry about age, though I spend money on a moisturizer by a company called Bliss. The moisturizer’s called “The Youth as We Know It.”  I like companies with a sense of humor about laugh lines. I like companies named for happiness.


Still in this, my last forties-year, I do wonder about time–the way it passes without me realizing it, how much I’ve wasted by focusing on the wrong things or the wrong people or the wrong landscapes.

“It’s over before you know it,” my father used to say about living.

“Patience, jackass.” My father used to say that, too.

Every year for my birthday, my mother would make my favorite cake–red devil’s food with maple frosting. It’s a difficult recipe, at least that’s what she always said.

“Can’t you pick something else?” she’d say, and sigh.

“For Christ’s sake, do not stomp in the kitchen,” she’d say when the cake was in the oven. “This one’s sensitive.”

“We’ll see if it comes out this year,” she’d say every year, though every year it would come out just fine.

I’m not sure what the fuss was about, except that the recipe came from my grandmother, who was notorious for leaving out ingredients so no one could duplicate her recipes, which meant no one could ever replace her.

“It’s about immortality,” I said the other night to my friend, Ed. We weren’t talking about recipes. We were talking about writers, why some people wrote so many books.

“People shouldn’t write so much,” he said, but I disagree. I think writers  should write as much as they can. Not because it makes them immortal, not because, as Ed would say, they’d be trying “to write for the ages,” but because writing is work and it’s what we’re made to do. It gives us purpose. It’s useful.

It says, “I was here. Maybe this life mattered a little.”    Read more and get the red cake recipe at Hobart.

  1. Was delighted to “meet you” on the LA Writers Tribe web site, especially because I grew up near Pittsburgh with bookie uncles and numbers runners at the news-stands and similar characters. I’m eager to read both your memoirs and poetry! Wishing you great success with the Bridge book!!
    A fan from Uniontown, now LA….Diana Rosen

  2. Hi Diana! It’s nice to meet you, too, and I’m glad we share a bookie past. We’re both lucky like that! Best wishes with your writing. Those Writers Tribe folks are the goods.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: