Changes, Choices, Friendship, Women

What We Need We Do Not Know.


What we need we do not know but find on the street corners, women in soft t-shirts walking dogs, mothers, the milk, just strangers who pause to savor that day of freedom November 8 the talk of children and leaves not small circles pressed deep with pens and pencils or choices all the ones we have made over and over for everyone but ourselves for today is our day.

What we need we do not know November 9 we push our fingers frantically, beating against our streaming words and screaming soundless fury, scrolling and scrolling and hoping the next line will make us better, so many words to find one answer the rainbow bleeds to white at the unfathomable red fury.

What we need we do not know but find anyways when we push off the noise, once the rain falls relentless and the paper stays unopened we float curled on the couch seek with coffee and friends anchor at our kitchen tables the tired in our bones rising, the tired that comes just before the fight and the starting gun.

What we need we do not know but it’s been buried deep and anyways will take four years to recognize, to age into the imperfect terroir clinging to our tongues staining our breath the taste of loss and resurrection of sweetbitterlove.

What we need we do not know but we discover in a humble safety pin. We push the sharp end through our ragged skins, catch the torn edges, secure the clasp. Begin in pain anyways bleeding and mending,my skin fusing with your skin my children scarring together with your children my vote cast with your vote. Again.

What we need we do not know until we find ourselves at the corner with the women holding each other, laughing at the joy of ourselves.

Alexandra Dane, November 11, 2016


Changes, Mini Cooper, Vote



Funny how stress works: it wasn’t the Mini dealer that rendered my car unusable after the yearly check up yesterday with massive brake failure last night. Nor the rental car run, torrential rain or chest cold. No — it was the raisin smushed in my slipper sole that finally caused me to lean against the sink and wail this morning.

Is it just me or are we all a little touchy right now?

I feel a collective traumatic response in everimg_0221one — the stores, the street, the coffee shops. Distraction and sharpness. I have begun to turn away from the television, the radio, the newspaper. My faith in people is being tested as we head to the elections. Maybe the mechanic was listening to Fox News when he replaced my brake fluid.

As I sit and wait for the tow truck ordered by the Seattle Mini dealership I am having difficulty focusing on my work. My chair has been empty for a few days now, trying to beckon me back.

How do we get back to some sense of pride in our country and ourselves? I have no sense that whoever ends up less bloodied at the end of the November 8th Presidential elections will make me supremely happy. I just need this to be over. Having been raised in politics you will not see me make predictions, either. So what brings sunlight to this crappy run of media trolling and endless Facebook shots of Trumpkins?

You tell me. But I suspect a walk to the pie guy on Phinney and another espresso, some soothing yoga, a good movie or book reading may be the way. Self-preservation before destruction. Peace instead of danger. I am going to try removing myself from the chaos and not clicking on the updates all day long — limit reading the paper, the online sites, the running horrors under the newscasters. There doesn’t seem to be anything new.  How can any more revelations, debates or exposed tapes change who those candidates are?

You know who you are voting for– just please vote.

In the meantime, I recommend the holiday pumpkin pie with candied walnuts.  Or the bourbon butterscotch if you need more. And a scrubber brush for removing slipper raisins.

Meanwhile, my chair awaits.



I am fresh off summer. Too tan and crunching sand in my closet. Today I aired sweaters and gazed with dismay at the soles of my feet. Waistbands are not my friend yet.

I brought some tokens home from summer holiday, tucked into pockets and the bottom of my duffle bag. Something to remind me of the light on the water, the lull of the crickets, the soul-warming smoothness of a summer day.


I was choosy. They had to be smooth. Just the right round. Just the right shade of grey. Warm when I picked them up. They had to fit in the palm of my hand with fingers closed or my palm open to the sky.

I often forget to look down and under my feet, I am so busy getting places. I talked sternly with myself on the last beach walk: slow down, take time, notice the details, remember this day, you don’t know when you will return.

Yesterday, I piled them on the edge of my writing desk, feeling a little guilty, a little bit like a thief. Little bits of mica I hadn’t noticed winked at me. I saw they weren’t just grey at all — veins of pink and white ran through and around them. I have already stacked them two different ways while thinking out a word. I worry the roundest one in my hand while I reread paragraphs.

I believe they will carry me through the darkening days of fall, just as they steadied me on the uneven shore. beachstone

Just five arbitrary stones lifted off the sand. I caught endless flak when everyone realized why my bags were so heavy. But there is a good chance that I will return them next summer, a gesture of good faith to that little beach. And say thank you.

I swear they still feel warm when I cup them in my hand.




The sky is blushing like dry rosè tonight. I am packing up a family vacation feeling the usual mix of relief and regret, fatigue and rejuvenation. August had been action packed:  my Connecticut childhood home was sold and emptied, the eldest’s wedding has taken form, winter travel has been hashed out. What we are not doing is prodding a child along to get ready for school and writing a tuition check —  not one remains on an academic schedule this fall, 2016. The first time since 1990.

At first, a boulder of grief lodged under my clavicle when August began: things were not what they had been, or should be, or would be again. In Connecticut I leaned against a tree that shaded me when I read my first Nancy Drew. I photographed the weathered boards of my first pony barn to remember the texture of the two-hundred year old cedar. I ran my hand along the settled, lichen-grey stone wall I watched built, stone by stone, when I was six. I visited my small foot, imprinted in cement, 1964.

Who would remember the stories?

Ahead, there are no lacrosse schedules, student art shows, parents weekends.

Everyone now works the day after Thanksgiving.

The boulder grew unbearable as I followed the moving van out the driveway. Swallowing was impossible. Nothing would ever be the same. I steered the car north and didn’t know who to call.

But here’s this:

The words of 86 year-old Triathlon athlete and nun, Sister Madonna Buder.

“You carry your attitude with you…you either achieve or you self-destruct. If you think positively, you can even turn a negative into a positive.”

I have to reconstruct as time and life changes me. Positively and with purpose. Otherwise  I would never realize the potential of the next day, of myself and the potential of my family and friends. And that, I believe, would be a waste.

As I put away the beach towels, the old flip flops, the worn picnic blanket I think to myself September will be my month — my own reconstruction time, sharpened pencils, another quiet birthday, a wonderful engagement party is on the calendar, there will be travel and visits with good friends. Soon, I begin a new workshop in Seattle that pushes me to the next step.

A new type of promise this fall.

I sip my sunset-colored wine and watch the sky begin to deepen. I think of all the new opportunities. A fireball of excitement warms me from head to toe. The boulder dissolves.

All good.


Cuttyhunk Island sunset, August, 2016