13 September, 2006


I am launching this journal eleven hundred and sixty seven days from my fortieth birthday.

I know, at face value forty is just a number, not inherently any more or less significant than 39 or 41. But it is a number charged with meaning all the same. In the story of the Great Flood, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert. Christ spent 40 days in the wilderness. In the Judeo-Christian culture, anyway, forty seems to mark the end of soujourn, a time of deliverance and re-emergence. It is the number of retrospection, and of looking ahead to the next epoch. A time to collect oneself.

It seems to be a liminal number. Like the bordertime between day and night, the turn of a season, or the edge of the woods. One of the thin places. Look at all the nervous energy it provokes in people. "Lordy, lordy, look who's forty!" We sense the magic in the number, the sheerness of it. We bring to the occasion the same air of mockery and bravado with which we approach Halloween, another of the bordertimes.

And there it is, flickering, on my not so distant horizon.

If I have acquired any wisdom at all in the thirty-seven years it has taken me to get this far across the wilderness, it is that there is no telling what life will throw at me in the next 1,167 days. But for a long time, I have been saying that I want to have a book of poems completed by the time I am forty, and it has lately been dawning on me that I might have to actively particpate in that process.

There are so many reasons not to. I have three children. A part time job. Numerous other interest and commitments. Poetry can be hard and lonely work. And it scares me. To me it feels like mining, or deep-sea fishing. Sometimes I go in, and I don't know if I will come back up to the light of day.

This blog is a way of tying a line on. Of digging in, without getting lost. It is intended as a way to set a specific goal: a manuscript-length collection in 1,167 days; 36 poems in a little more than three years. I also hope it will be a means of accountability for myself, like telling the world I am quitting smoking, or losing ten pounds. You are witness to the intent.

It's a measure against the loneliness and the long silence that comes with writing sometimes. A place to test-drive poems, and a sketchpad for fleshing out ideas. A place to talk about the creative process. And being as narcissistic and needy as the next poet, I also hope it might be a source of feedback and encouragement.

Who knows what it or I will wind up being or doing?

But the journey of 1,167 days begins with a single step, and this is that step.



Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

i will follow you.........

5:12 PM  
Anonymous SBird said...

It's weird. I just stumbled across your blog(s) today. Talk about having the experience of a thin place...I'm turning 40 on Monday and have been contemplating writing a post on What.That.Means. You did it very well. I may have to link to you in the next few days, in case you get pinged.

I am also a poet. Published, awards, the like. But my goal for turning 40 was to be a mother. So far, that hasn't happened. And only 5 days to turn that around. Gah.

6:56 PM  
Blogger Voigtlander said...

I'm a couple of years past 40, it was ..... well you'll find out. When I turned 30 a young man I worked with asked me why I hadn't gone to carrousel to renew. (if you've seen the movie - you'll understand. )

Somewhere along the way I think I did renew.

good luck in your journey - I'll check in from time to time to see how the trips going.

8:30 PM  
Blogger littlepurplecow said...

Glad to bump into you via BlogHer. 2009 is my four-oh! year as well. Enjoying your perspective and looking forward to following your poetry path. I too dig a good deep dive.

9:14 PM  
Blogger K. said...

Thanks for the supportive comments. Almost immediately after I published this page, my stomach did a flip-flop, and I thought, "what am I doing?"

Knowing that I have even a few affirming readers on the very first day helped dial the anxiety way down.


7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the song I dream of singing in karaoke fashion - I know I could do it~! Hear Sophie Tucker sing it, if you haven't already.

...and please come visit again soon for coffee & blvd treats. :)



I've often heard it said and sung
That life is sweetest when you're young
And kids, sixteen to twenty-one
Think they're having all the fun
I disagree, I say it isn't so
And I'm one gal who ought to know
I started young and I'm still going strong
But I've learned as I've gone along...

That life begins at forty
That's when love and living start to become a gentle art
A woman who's been careful finds that's when she's in her prime
And a good man when he's forty knows just how to take his time

Conservative or sporty, it's not until you're forty
That you learn the how and why and the what and when
In the twenties and the thirties you want your love in large amounts
But after you reach forty, it's the quality that counts

Yes, life begins at forty
And I've just begun to live all over again

You see the sweetest things in life grow sweeter as the years roll on
Like the music from a violin that has been well played upon
And the sweetest smoke is from a mellow, broken and old pipe
And the sweetest tasting peach is one that's mature, round and ripe

In the twenties and the thirties you're just an amateur
But after you reach forty, that's when you become a connoisseur
Then it isn't grab and get it and a straight line for the door
You're not hasty, you're tasty, you enjoy things so much more

For instance, a novice gulps his brandy down, he doesn't understand
Observe a connoisseur, the way he holds it in his hand
How he strokes the glass, fondles it, warms it as he should
Smacks his lips, aahhh, slowly sips, hoo boy, it tastes good

Life begins at forty
Then it isn't hit and run and you find much more fun
You romance a girl of twenty and it costs you all your dough
But when a forty thanks you, she hates to see you go

And girls of twenty, all they want are big men
Big men with strong physiques
I don't say that it's bad
But you do get tired of those damn Greeks

Life begins at forty
And I'm just living all over again!

10:02 PM  
Blogger Sacred Center said...

I just found your blog and realized that we are probably close to the same age, from my calculations I think you are about 200 days older than me. What a wonderful idea this is, love your exploration of the significance of 40 and I look forward to your growing wisdom. My husband and I have birthdays a day apart and are the same age, so we have joked that for our 40th we should have a joint 80th birthday party!
Blessings, Christine

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Jen Zug said...


I have been toying with the idea of writing more about the process of writing on my blog, but for some reason I'm more more insecure about my intentional writing projects than I am about discussing my menstrual cycle on the internet.

I am encouraged by your post, and challenged to step out more on my own blog regarding my writing dreams. Thanks for sharing your heart and I look forward to reading your poetry.

11:35 PM  
Blogger (Ni)mo.Ni said...

Recommending this blog to my mom!! :)

6:08 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...


You are so blessed - your father's gift of words, your mother's gift of brains and Nana's gift of the joy life brings each of us.

At 42 I will faithfully cheer you on in your journey. I wait with hand on heart for you to cross the finish line and find the greater joy on the other side!

7:46 AM  

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