What is the import of a splash of milk billowing up gray and beige under the tinted surface of my morning tea? Who can say whether it is better to spend a day on a snowy hillside or in the radiator-heated coziness of my office? And what does it matter to the universe that I want to write a book?

Sometimes my mind gets caught in the web of abstraction. My morning begins with poetry.

I pour tea,
add sugar,
a small, sacred splash 
of milk.
I spin it with a spoon, 
ridding the sky
of its cumulus clouds.
(Elevation 7,000 feet)
Sip. It is clear
my life begins at conception.

The good news is that, even after my mind is thus entangled, my body (in particular, my typing fingers) can still function in real time. 

The tea is too hot. I take up a short stack of good books, ones that resonate months and years after the initial read. I flick pages and stick Post-Its on pages that jump out and say, "Remember me? I once blew your mind!" Then I open a blank Word document and begin to type my review. Keywords, key characters, key characteristics. I write, I prune. Soon I have condensed the plot and my rating to a mere 120 characters.

I know what you're thinking. Audrey? Write something THAT short? No way. 

I don't blame you. Here on TGBTRD I have all the room I want to wax philosophical. But Twitter has rules, and I must abide by them. This pet project of mine is finally live! I have just launched my Red Door Reviews:

Tweet-sized offerings on book content and quality. Title, review, link, star rating. A rapier wit as space and context allow.

If you feel so inclined, please follow me @RedDoorReviews on Twitter. 

This project began with a simple concept: People who love to read want to know what other people who love to read have read and why. The constraint of 120 characters helps me reduce some of my trademark (hah!) pontifical wandering in favor of true review. Naturally, my reviews are all offered IMHO.

My tea is cold. What exciting new venture will my mind and heart conceive tomorrow?


Poetry is an important art form, and part of that import is in the inherent subjectivity of the genre. What you take away from a given poem will absolutely be different than what I take away from it. And isn't that marvelous? A single stream of thought on the page, an observation, a proverb, a magic trick, can evoke countless reader reactions. 

Before a poem can be written or a story can be told, the teller holds her story in the palm of her hand. It sparkles like a cut diamond. When held up to the light and spun, the story's flat, pure faces cast a rainbow of reflections against the far wall. These are the many versions of that story, the vantage points on a single event or series of events. The question for the teller is how she can and should enter that story. And write it down to share.

That same question exists for the reader, too, even after a story is told one way. It is the reader's prerogative to take it from the black velvet cushion of the gift box and raise it once again to the light. To spin it. To read the flashings and points of colored light on the wall the way one might read tea leaves or the shallow, pink creases in the palm of a hand. 

This is what makes some stories (the best stories) timeless. Mythology lingers because each generation reads with new eyes, with the benefit of an even longer history. 

When I was in sixth grade and learning the Greek myths for the first time, I fell in love with the tale of Persephone. It is a story that was first told hundreds of years B.C. As an American 12-year-old in 1995, my vantage point on the story was immature, but passionate. If you'd asked me then, I would have said it was the tale of a daughter taken from her mother.

That isn't the way I look at it now.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a new friend and her four-year-old niece. The little girl spoke no English, with a couple of pleasant exceptions. "Okay." "Gimme five." "Yo dude." 

"Makes sense," I said, sipping my peppermint mocha. "She's spending so much time with a California girl."

"Believe it or not, that wasn't me. My Norwegian sister-in-law actually taught her that one."

While we adults talked, the little one played and played. A toy tube of fake lipstick kept her occupied for a few minutes. Eventually the separate plastic pieces skittered across the floor. Then she scribbled and sketched on a paper placemat. Then she crawled under the table and proceeded to "hide" from us for a while, shrieking with delighted terror when we "found" her. 

After a while, though, she'd had enough of our all-English conversation, our low-and-steady adult voices, and she popped up like a gopher, grabbing for the delicate white and black patterned infinity scarf around my friend's neck. 

The brain of any child is a mystery to me, but I enjoyed watching her take this scarf through its paces. From one moment to the next the scarf was a hat, a blanket, a hammock, the veil of a sp√łkelse (ghost). Her voice warbled through the fabric, a haunting howl. When the ghost-game was done (in a matter of less than two minutes), she demanded a dress from her aunt. My friend proceeded to wrap the scarf around the child's tiny waist, covering her red Helly Hansen snow bibs, and then tied and tucked the remaining end, pulling her hands away to reveal a makeshift dress. 

The little girl stared down at her new garment in wonder, twisting her head far around both sides to examine it, making sure it was a true dress, that no part of her was left exposed. Determining herself truly elegant, she drew back and hurled herself into her aunt's lap, wrapping her slender arms around my friend's neck. Grateful.
As of midnight on New Year's Eve, I only had one spoken-aloud resolution. 

"I want to take the time to sit and eat breakfast each morning before checking my email." 

It was a noble, if somewhat unambitious, goal. I've noticed that my heart races and I can't calm my mind at night if I've spent more than a little time before the glowing specter of my computer screen. It's just email. It can wait fifteen minutes for me to make tea and peel a banana.

Day Two dawned and I slipped into my office and began working without a moment's hesitation to boil water for oatmeal. 

Resolution Fail. 

So, what's important? What am I aiming for this year? After all, there must be a goal, something to work toward and anticipate. 

I'd like to post more often here. My thesis work sometimes coincides with first drafts here, but not always. It would be good to take some of the pressure off of myself and write journal entries here, too. After all, daily life just isn't always interesting, inspiring, or memoir-worthy.


Dear Journal:

Woke up late. Checked my email before breakfast. Resolution Fail. Got caught up with work while listening to Adele belt out Someone Like You on repeat for two straight hours. Her voice haunts me. I switched to Adele after trying the same thing with Maroon 5's Moves Like Jagger, and ended up dreaming about a stomping, gyrating Carson Kressley. The growling of my stomach startled the cat into jumping off my lap around 1:30. Almost forgot to eat lunch. Down to my last frozen bagel, really only a bagel in the literal sense. Round. Risen dough. Works as a vehicle for cream cheese. I'm dying for Noah's.

Especially since the cream cheese is hardly worth chewing my way through a make-believe bagel. I cave and buy reduced-fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese every time I visit the store just because of the look Jonathan gives me when I grab the real thing. Like he knows so much better. Like we'll gain ten thousand pounds if I shop the way I want to. Like I don't know that. So, I buy the reduced-fat garbage and suffer through the oddly rubbered texture of it all for peace at home. And less poundage on my hips. Hips which, as Shakira warned me years ago, do not lie. 

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