The curtains of his bed were drawn aside. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.
I really love this description of the appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Past. Not because of the way the spirit actually manifests itself, coming to Scrooge at his bedside in the middle of the night. The thought of some "unearthly visitor" suddenly staring down on me while I'm sleeping kind of scares the crap out of me. No, it's Dickens' little appearance at the end of the paragraph, standing at our elbows like some extra Christmas phantom.
Whenever I write a poem or essay or story or blog post, it's a little part of myself that I'm sending out into the world. Think about it. Wherever you are reading this right now--sitting on the toilet, surfing the Net naked in bed, sipping a Diet Coke on the beach, sneaking a look at your desk at work--I'm right there with you, sharing the experience. Depending on what you're doing, that may be comforting or embarassing.
The poet Edward Hirsch once compared writing a poem to scribbling a note on a piece of paper, stuffing the note in a bottle, and throwing the bottle into the ocean. Eventually, that bottle washes up on some shore, and a stranger comes along, opens it up, and reads the note. Any writer who says s/he doesn't think about that stranger is a liar. All writers want to be read. Just ask J. K. Rowling or Stephen King. (Of course, they both could publish their grocery lists, and people would buy them.)
Today is my sister's birthday. I forgot about it until this morning. For some reason, I thought it was next week. You, kind stranger on the beach, should have reminded me to get a card and a gift. It's your fault. The next time my sister's birthday rolls around, send me an e-mail reminder. We will be having a party for her tonight. By that time, I will have purchased something to commemorate her birth.
From now on, Saint Marty is going to blame his disciples for his mistakes. After all, saints don't make mistakes.
Confessions of Saint Marty