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By Appointment

What are you “looking forward” to?

I love the word hiatus, not really because of what it means but because of how I learned what it means. The story recalls one of those moments when I felt my own brain expand, like sitting on the dryer at the age of four, watching the indefatigable Arlene Snyder, a Mennonite woman who did housekeeping and childcare for our family, fold sheets hot out of the dryer. “Hot,” she said to me. “H-O-T spells hot.” “Hot,” I repeated, “H-O-T spells hot.” I spent the rest of the day celebrating, “H-O-T spells hot.” I shouted it. I danced it. I napped to it. H-O-T is the first word I ever learned to spell.

I don’t remember subsequently learning to read, but when I could I devoured the TV Guide each week. As I sometimes remind the ever-astonished Twelve and Fifteen, we had no Internet, no cable, no smart phones, no Netflix, no way of recording shows even—we watched them when they came on or we missed them. Television viewing was by appointment, and in our household it was even more so because my brother and I had television viewing allotments of seven hours each per week. That meant reading the schedule for the entire week and circling the shows we wanted to watch, plus negotiating if we chose shows in the same timeslot. It wasn’t long before I started reading the features that filled the front of the glossy book, maybe six inches wide by nine inches tall, on slippery paper with a square binding. There I read about up-and-coming celebrities, new shows, television in other countries, and shows “on hiatus.”

In graduate school I would learn that our vocabulary expands via frontiers. We can grab a list of words we don’t know and force feed them into our memories, but the words we will really learn and learn to use are the words that we have several exposures to and one day realize are familiar. Then when we look them up we’ll have context for them—a landscape with features that are becoming landmarks. With context, we assimilate a word far better and more completely than if we have no associations for the word. When I studied frontier words, I remembered, oh yes, like “hiatus.”

Because I didn’t know, reading the TV Guide at a young age, what it meant for a show to be on hiatus. I probably ignored it the first few times I read it. Eventually I saw the word enough times that I took notice and thought to look it up in the dictionary. This I remember doing. And then I learned that the word meant not canceled, but not on the schedule either. A hiatus is a pause, a gap, a break or an interruption in a series or sequence. In TV land it logically comes when a network likes a show but it isn’t raising revenue. The network isn’t ready to cancel the show altogether, so it goes on hiatus until its future can be figured out.

In the days leading up to my last real post on 12.5.14, I thought about announcing that I was going to take a hiatus from Overneath It All to focus on enjoying the holidays with my family, rebuilding the studio website and posting my novel on Smashwords. At the last minute, happy with my post “The Rhythm of Life,” I thought to myself—it’s not a huge commitment and I’ve got my writing times set for this month, why let it go? I can do all of the above.

Then along came a plot twist. A huge plot twist.

The blog and the website and a lot more went on hiatus when my heart got broken. Smashed, really. Smithereens. All I wanted to do was spend each day curled up in the fetal position hiding under the covers. I haven’t been able to, of course, with holidays to observe, a family to care for, my business to tend, and the myriad of other issues of modern life that require seemingly endless attention. A couple of times I thought writing might help, and I made a few attempts at starting pieces, but nothing stuck. I find the love I have lost impossible to categorize, but it doesn’t do to categorize such things; what I know is I have dissolved in this heartbreak. At the Solstice new moon and the January full, I looked up and my commitment to post fluttered and I dropped my head again. I let go of a lot of the things that I do professionally and for myself, or really I let them be. Writing, in particular writing blog posts, was one of them.

There have been several major plot twists and a sizable speeding ticket since—none of which, to my dismay, included a rekindling of love lost. Nor have I found a magic lantern to rub, releasing a genie to make my hopes and dreams come true nor fill my bank account, a constant worry. I haven’t even been able to go one whole day without crying, often silent tears as I fall asleep, sometimes noisy ones alone in my car. But this morning when I woke up I thought, I know one thing I can do about this. All of this. I know what I teach—that I need to make and keep appointments with myself, with the world. Writing is one appointment that will make me feel better, stronger, more certain of my voice. When I write and when I put my words out there, it helps me put together what I know and lift my head up just a little bit.

What is it I’m looking forward to? My concerned friend asked me yesterday when we got together for lunch. I don’t really know yet. But I do know that I’m not going to get there if I don’t keep the appointments to do the things that nourish me—writing this blog is one of those things. A big one. And while I’m posting today in between the full moon and the new moon, I’m also declaring that I have writing appointments for next week on my calendar, that I will post again by the light of the February 3rd full moon, and that this is the end of the hiatus.

In between Christmas and New Year's, Twelve, Fifteen and I visited the city I love the best in the whole wide world. Here's my attempt at an art shot, taken near sunset at the Lincoln Memorial. Like a sunflower, I do tend to head into the light ... eventually.

In between Christmas and New Year’s, Twelve, Fifteen and I visited the city I love the best in the whole wide world. Here’s my attempt at an art shot, taken near sunset at the Lincoln Memorial. Like a sunflower, I do tend to head into the light … eventually.

A special thank you to readers Barbara P., who let me know that my experiences and my writing about them are something she looks forward to, Mya N., who said simply, “and I love reading your blog,” and Annemarie C., who has challenged me to find the humor she associates with sitting at the island in my kitchen in my written voice. Not to say that this piece has much to laugh about in it, but learning to write funny is on my frontier. Happy New Year to each and every one of you and thank you, Rxo


About Robin Bourjaily

I currently perform my own stunts as a mother, writer, editor, yoga instructor, and certified Yoga As Muse facilitator. Overneath It All is a medium for sharing my stories--my commitment is to post on the full and new moons, plus or minus a day or two, and the occasional personal holiday. My novel, Throwing Like a Girl, is now available in e-formats on Smashwords. Please visit to download. Thanks for checking in. xoR

8 responses »

  1. yeah for funny the meantime, keep those appointments, dear.

  2. xoxo — hang in there.

  3. I remember you saying ……”Breath by breath, I come to my own rescue.” Now, perhaps, word by word or appointment by appointment , you will come to your own rescue. How about Moon by Moon?????

    You are the “magic Lantern”, Robin Dear.

  4. Your writing evokes such feeling and emotion. I look forward to your blogs, begin reading them immediately when they appear in my inbox, often have to put them aside until I have more time, then savor them a few times. Your messages open my heart, touch my soul, and you have such warmth in your words. Please do continue. And I absolutely love your connection to moon phases!


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