The Clay Pot on the Table

Yesterday morning, we took our coffee out to the backyard, sat on the chairs we rescued from the curb down the street, put our old portable radio on the little table, and listened to the recording of my essay The Parish Hall on the local public radio affiliate, WUWM.

Because the WUWM studios are closed due to the coronavirus, I had to record the piece myself on my phone. It took eleven tries to get it right but, finally, sitting in front of my desktop and silently scrolling through pages, the last version passed the producer’s muster. I had never done recorded myself before, but it worked. And I was so pleased by that.

Outside, sitting in the morning sun under a sky that couldn’t have been any bluer, I just decided to be proud of myself – for going to the celebration of life on which the essay is based, for writing a self-absorbed, meandering first draft which fellow writers at the Red Oak Writing Roundtable gently and completely picked apart. For rewriting the piece a dozen times until the last version finally rang true. And for deciding the night before that I needed to make sure the friend to whom I refer in the piece was aware that the essay would be on the radio. I never, in a thousand years, thought she would mind but I hadn’t told her. So instead of sorting through why I didn’t need to, I just did. And, of course, she didn’t mind. Still.

So then all that was left was the potential mistake finding. What should I have said differently? Where was my reading not right? But there was none of that. I sat in the old chair, the seat of which is starting to splinter and presenting its own threat to my wellbeing, and I regarded my essay as I might a perfectly thrown clay pot, glazed blue or maybe gold, just sitting there to be admired. It’s a good thing to be proud of having done something worthwhile. I didn’t always think that way, wound up as I was in how good things were just okay, and that everything could be made better.

Sometimes a perfectly thrown clay pot is beautiful just as it is.


The text and audio of The Parish Hall is here.

8 Comments on “The Clay Pot on the Table

  1. By the way, Jan, how long ago did you start attempting to throw a clay pot?


  2. Nicely thrown clay pot, Jan: Parish Hall essay. Brought tears to my eyes. I was with you all the way, especially with the ” cloak of acute differentness. ” Imagine experiencing acute differentness everyday of your life. Never any let up, never being able, ever, to jump in a truck. . . and go home. Still, well done, Jan.


    • Of course I have more to say – the wanting to flee was so visceral and memorable even though I stayed, I can’t say I wasn’t relieved to go and this despite no one doing a single unkind thing to me. It’s that cloak.


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