Andrea Uptmor


Step one: Go to any large body of water. It’s best if you can find an ocean, because of the flickering foam of the white edges. But a lake will do. A puddle can be used in emergencies, if you live in a rainy place and there are large potholes in the street. Be mindfulof traffic.

Step two: Put on your headphones, click-clack down to any of the songs listed on page 63 (piano, classical guitar, soft chimes, etc). Press play. Begin to walk slowly along the coastline (or in careful circles around the puddle).

Step three: Look at the water, listen to the music. Look at the water, listen to the music. Look at the water, listen to the music. Sit down. Now look at your fingertips. What are they made of? Notice how they glow, translucent.

Step four: Do you remember where you were when you were nine years old? Remember how you stood on your grandmother’s back porch, snuffed in the cold air and thought, “It’s February 7, February 7, February 7, and I am nine years old. I am making a memory.” You looked at the sky and spun, up, up.

Step five: Cry. Let fat drops of yourself slip out the corners of your eyes. See them splash on your sweater and disappear as they become part of the fabric. Look at the water, listen to the music. Look at the water.

Step six: How does your tummy feel right now? Write it here:______________________________________________________________

Step seven: Observe how the sun hits the wobbly water. If it is night and there is no sun, you have done something wrong. Go home, get some sleep, and try again tomorrow. Watch how the water first looks like Jell-o, then plastic wrap, then the sky. Remember the feeling of holding your palms right on the surface of a warm bath. Do not actually touch the water. Your ipod will get wet. Listen to the music with your hands in your pockets. If you do not have pockets, put your hands in your armpits and clamp down.

Step eight: See the line where water becomes sky or cement. Imagine opening your mouth, tilting your head back, and dragging a soft tongue along this line. What does it taste like? Write your answer on page 84.

Step nine: Watch a bird fly overhead. Decide if you honestly truly love this bird. What would it mean if you did? Listen to the music and think about this. For extra help, use Henry Cowell’s “Aeolian Harp.” You may have to play it two or four times. Think about what the bird’s belly must feel like if you poked it with your finger. Would it be squishy? Let your eyes follow the bird’s path, the lazy spiral it floats, catching itself and pushing up out of each turn. Draw the bird’s path in your workbook. Write the date at the top of the page. If you do not remember the date, write “February 7.”

Step ten: Feel how your throat closes when your eyes fill with water. Wonder if there is an intelligent design in crying. Why do your eyes want to wash themselves off? What is it they do not want to see? Lick your own cheeks slowly, tenderly. Do not write these questions down. Do not attempt to make any more guesses about the purpose of anything. Let all hope slip to the tip of your eyelashes and dive. If some drips on your workbook pages, circle those spots with your pen.

Step eleven: Wait until the sun begins to fall. Watch it in the sky, watch it in the water. Listen to the music. Count how many colors you see. Use your fingers to count. Do not stop at yellow, red, orange, pink, purple, white, blue, peach, indigo, lavender, mauve. Close your eyes and feel how it is taking a part of you down with it. Can you find the sun’s absence on your body? Point to it, slowly. Open your eyes and see that your finger is over your sternum.

Step twelve: Decide you did love the bird. With all of your heart, mind, and toes. Let that carry you home.

Andrea Uptmor is the recipient of the 2006 and 2008 Union League Civic & Arts fiction prize and was Northwestern University's 2007 nomination for Best New American Voices. She has been published in The Chicago Reader, Shore Magazine, and Cram: Volume 2. Andrea writes daily life plans at

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