Writing Into 2011, Part II: Community

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

—Dorothy Day

For most of teens and early twenties, I misunderstood the tension between my deep inner longing for solitude and my desire—just as deep—for connection and community. In high school, I thought that my ease in forming friendships and my busy schedule (band practice, student council, drama club, church, etc.) meant that I was an extrovert. For most of college, I shared a suite with six other people. Our rooms were a series of singles and doubles along a u-shaped hall, with bathrooms at either tip of the u. We ate and studied and walked to class and danced and played volleyball and celebrated birthdays and rode the T into Boston for Chinese food. It was rare to return to the U after a day of classes and find it empty. After college, in Belize City, I lived in community with three other Jesuit Volunteers. We shared cooking and cleaning responsibilities and ate dinner together every night. It was in Belize that I learned I am an introvert. It was in Belize, with no television or car, that I began to write.

Today, I try to cultivate both solitude and community, and it is in this spirit that I dedicate today’s blog entry to the Vessels Team, those people who have made a devotion or a donation of service or money to support me in completing a draft of my memoir-in-progress, Vessels. (To see all the ways to join the team, please visit my December 16 blog post.)

The Devotees

Andréa S., Neri, Valerie, Tomás, Daniel, Hilary, Juan, and K. have each committed to regular creative expression. Hilary is weaving. K. is writing. Tomás is painting.

Writers, Catherine D. and Dawn H., have pledged to complete work on their respective projects by the end of January.

Andrea M. has joined me in sacrificing beloved chocolate; Sabi is washing her dishes every day; and artist, Deborah G., is giving up television!

My wonderful yoga teacher, Erin, is devoting her daily practice to Vessels and me.

Gifts of Time and Talent

Kristine Maltrud first encouraged me to start a blog and invited me to join the ArtSpark crew. She has kept the ArtSpark community up-to-date on this project, and continues building an organization that supports artists and arts organizations. Read all about ArtSpark at http://art-spark.org/

Three angels are donating their time to the Chocolate Party. Angel 1 has volunteered to coordinate the event. (Aside from actually finishing a draft of Vessels, planning the party was my biggest source of anxiety.) Angel 2 will help with party duties. And Angel 3, also known as Frances V., is making a flourless chocolate cake for our eating pleasure.

Erin has offered a private yoga session when the deadline looms large and the chocolate feels far.

Luci is picking me up at Dulles Airport in DC. The added bonus is that I get to spend time with her before hitting the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (AWP) the next day.

In the fall of 2009, I taught a Writing to Heal workshop at the Harwood Art Center. When the course ended, Marisa (of Magic Room fame) offered to continue hosting a writing group in her home. This week, I have been invited by Marisa and the group to attend, speak about the Vessels Team, and make an official appeal. (Marisa even said we could do a dollar dance to raise funds!)


A. and D. have donated $50 each, which pays for two coaching sessions with Demetria Martinez.

Anonymous donated an airline ticket to cover my travel to the AWP Conference in Washington D.C.

Each morning I write at Suzanne and Rufus’s South Valley studio. It continues to feel like home.


Thank you, subscribers and other readers of this blog, for receiving my weekly entries with open hearts and minds.

And Books

A few weeks before the fire, Andréa Serrano borrowed from me Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, for inspiration and help in officiating her first wedding ceremony. I lost all of my books in the fire. Fast forward to December 2010: Andréa is looking for a journal on her bookshelf and finds The Prophet wedged between two hardcover textbooks. She wraps it up and gives it to me for Christmas, unwittingly kicking off the Vessels book drive.

I have teamed up with Bookworks, an independent bookstore in Albuquerque’s North Valley, to rebuild my library.

Read a special post this Thursday to learn about the book project and how you can participate further.

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I enjoyed reading your post, Michelle. I always thought I was an introvert but I think that I have developed into more of an extrovert…or at least more balanced between the two.

    That is an awesome story about your lost book coming back to you. If I lost every book I owned getting The Prophet back would be one of the very first ones I look to replace.

    • Ray, you taught me a lot about balance when we were in Belize.
      You are also responsible for my deep love of The Prophet.
      Good to “see” you here in cyberspace.

  2. Please overlook the grammatical errors in my previous reply. I is a high school social studies teacher.

  3. thanks for this lovely post Michelle. I went to Bookworks to get you a book the other day but they did not seem to have a list. So maybe I was a bit too early, perhaps you will give them a list soon. Again your words are so very inspirational and the devotional aspect of this makes my heart open a little more each day.

    • Deborah, I apologize for the confusion. The list will be available on my blog tomorrow. As a subscriber, you’ll receive the post right in your inbox, with instructions on how to contribute. Thank you for all your support!

  4. I am THRILLED at the prospect of helping rebuild your library, Michelle!!
    I had no idea this was coming. I have an attic FILLED with boxes of books. Many years ago, I reduced my buying (I borrow from the university and get a year), and have often toyed with the idea of setting myself up as an independent seller—but no, I must send whatever I can to Michelle Otero!!!
    can’t wait–
    love always,

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