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Dear Marlene, with love, sometime roundabouts your 10-20-30 & 40th birthdays:

October 16, 2014

Dear 10-year-old Marlene. It’s the 80’s. You play for the Athabasca Tomboys. You look like this:

softball (3)

You’re the wrong size and shape and you’re always in left field kicking dandelions, watching clouds drift by, and wondering why you strike out when it’s your turn to bat. The other girls on your team are all effortless grace, beauty, and athleticism. Well.  It seems that way from left field. Your big brother  is about to come to one of your games, notice how terrible you are, and take it upon himself to teach you how not to throw like a girl. This will be an important lesson for you. It will be the most important thing you ever learn. This is the secret: the ball goes where you throw it. Your intention matters. He’ll also teach you how to bat and catch. Same dealio: intention and effort. Sounds simple enough, but you’ll get the biggest shiner of your life figuring that one out.

He’ll throw pop fly after pop fly into the air while yelling at you to “Get under the ball!”  You’ll eventually do it — run to the spot where the ball’s trajectory plainly tells you it will land. You will watch it come towards you and it will land on your eye socket. It will hurt very much. But it will be a revelation: you need to watch where the ball is going, run to where the ball is about to land, and  stick your glove between the dropping ball and your upturned face. “Thwack” is the sound it will make landing in your glove. It is a beautiful sound. Once you get it you’ll catch every pop fly. Then you’ll get to be a short-stop. That will be a lot more fun.

Dear 40-year-old Marlene:

That’s all you know, really. Life is balls. You’ve gotta get under them. It requires effort and risk. Effort and risk  are the twin engines that make anything go. That’s how you make a baby laugh. That’s how you write a play. That’s how you bet out of bed in the morning and how you love someone. Effort and risk are the twin engines of love. Effort and risk are the twin engines of creativity. Same dealio.

Dear Newborn Marlene:

I hate to tell you this but you are a writer — not the famous kind. It’s going to suck and it’s going to be wonderful. I don’t think there’s much you can do about it. In the meantime, please try to nap as much as possible. You’re going to need your strength. Please, please, please, Marlene, at this very important point in your life do not resist sleep. Resisting sleep and refusing rest is a bad habit that will exhaust you and those around you for the rest of your life and you should stop —  just stop it — right now. You look like this:


You think your mama is the most beautiful thing in the universe. You are right. Of course. She is.

Dear 20-year old Marlene:  It’s the 90’s and you are a baby who wears plaid and army boots and patchouli. Holy smack you’d be mad at me for saying that. Because you’re a baby. I could also offend you greatly by telling you that you have small-town hair. Because you do. You think it’s hard to be 20 but that 40-year-olds effortlessly have their shit in a nice tidy pile. You’re right — it is hard to be 20 though I’ll be damned if I can remember why. Something about being at the bottom of some very steep hills? Something about trying way too hard to appear not to be trying? Something about being judged, graded, cut loose, and expected to fit into a world you didn’t make? But you’re wrong about the effortlessness at 40 part. That one will come back to bite you in the ass when you start teaching 20-year-olds at 40. Hahahaha. Dummy.

marlene (2)

But whatever. Like you’d listen to 40-year old me. Don’t. Have fun. 20-year-olds are better at having fun than anyone else. Make some great friends. Oh, and the freedom! And the having time to kill! Go ahead and kill time, Baby. Waste it lavishly and feel sorry for yourself about all the responsibility on your shoulders. Hahahahaha. Responsibility. Don’t be ashamed about being young, 20-year-old Marlene. There is nothing shameful about young. If you are too busy trying to act like you know everything already you won’t learn anything at all. Protect your face with your glove, of course, but don’t be so protective of yourself that you don’t bother running for those pop flys. Effort and risk, Marlene. Your intention matters.

Dear 30-year old Marlene. You’re going to spend this decade producing a small pile of babies in the suburbs. It will be the most wonderful thing that every happened to you, pudgy cheeks pressed up to yours and milky dreams, and it will be exhausting and paradoxically lonely. You won’t have a photo of yourself in this decade without babies and toddlers cropped out of it. Your house will be a disaster and you’ll often wonder if you’re doing everything wrong. You’ll feel like your writer-self is lost down some rabbit hole. Don’t worry about any of those things. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. The intensity of making all those decisions will ebb. Having babies is not an easy thing. It is better than easy, it is worthwhile. Worthwhile costs and it rewards.

mamamarlene (2)

But you should probably worry about money more. Or perhaps less? I don’t honestly know. We should ask 50-year-old Marlene when she gets here.

Marlene Wurfel medium


40-year-old Marlene

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Agnes Wurfel permalink
    October 16, 2014 2:35 pm

    Most interesting Marlene with a very original twist to it. I always love and am tickled pink by your compositions if that’s what you call it.
    By the way which big brother taught you to catch a ball or did that really happen?

    • October 16, 2014 6:04 pm

      Thanks, Mom. It’s nice to have a number 1 fan. Yes, of course it really happened. I wouldn’t fictionalize in a blog post. It was big brother Ed. He was kind like that sometimes. He also taught me self-defence. 🙂

  2. Tracey permalink
    October 16, 2014 9:34 pm

    Beautiful Marlene. baby, 10, 20,30, and 40… I truly enjoy reading your blogs. YOU, my friend, are a beautiful lady!!

  3. Jeanette Flesher permalink
    October 18, 2014 10:55 pm

    Hello Marlene, I have a great deal of admiration for the 40 -year-old you have become, and I feel very fortunate that Brent “got you”. Love Jeanette

  4. October 20, 2014 8:27 am

    What an honour to have been a part of most of your decades of growth, Madame Wurfel. Always fierce, always honest, always forging a strong path. Love you and your hot writer self.

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