Slice of Life Tuesday: Backwards Journal

This post is part of the weekly Slice of Life challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Check them out!


Before I landed here, among the cicada noise and the soon-to-be-fireflies and the cooling air and the driftings-in of neighbor sounds;

Current view. Not too shabby.
Turn the volume up if you like cicada sounds! (But please let me know if you can’t see this video. WordPress has been weird.)

Before I was in the kitchen, prepping weekly lunches and garden pesto and night-time banana oat snacks and oh, yes…DINNER;

Before I drove back to the gym for the groceries I reminded myself to take out of the gym fridge;

Before I biked home to discover that even though I reminded myself to take the groceries out of the gym fridge, I must somehow have neglected to do so;

Before I struggled my way through a phoned-in half-workout, half-physical therapy session and a mobility class;

I know my coach will have something to say about this form. I’ve got me some work to do!

Before I planned out how I was going to run my errands via bike and chuck my oops-I-forgot-to-get-important-groceries groceries in the gym fridge so they didn’t go bad on a sweltering day;

Before I wasted an inordinate amount of time on social media wondering why on earth I haven’t been motivated to write more;

Before I finished the book that kept me company for the two and a half hours I was in line;

This…was a summer read. Entertaining, quick, fun.

Before I finally got through with the paperwork for my new Real ID driver’s license;

Before I trucked back home to get a second “proof of address;”

Before the clerk discovered that one of my “proofs of address” (yes, the one I originally brought) didn’t actually have my address or even name on it;

Before my hero son saved the day and brought me a second “proof of address” while I was waiting in said line;

Before the woman taking care of waiters-in-line told me all my papers were okay, but I needed a second “proof of address;”

Before I gasped amazed, agog at the line ahead;

This was actually after I had moved up!

Before I packed my backpack ready for a long wait with a trusty book, a GAMES magazine, chewing gum, a writer’s notebook, and my morning chai;

Before I walked my slow, addle-brained, high-strung but wise-beyond-her-many-years doggo;

I lay, eyes open-ish, eyes closed-ish, gathering my wits about me, wondering what my day today might have in store, what kind of story the hours would tell.

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16 Responses to “Slice of Life Tuesday: Backwards Journal”

  1. Sonia Jaffe Robbins Says:

    You did have a busy day, and i enjoyed your backwards journal format, along with your photos. That long line for the DMV, the cicadas’ hum on the video (New York City’s cicadas never materialized, alas), and how did you get the photo of your exercise routine?

  2. Betsy Hubbard Says:

    Love love love this form! I was quickening my pace to get to the ending! I think this is a perfect volume building exercise, but even better, a great way to tell a story.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks! It was fun to experiment with the form. I’ll probably try it again some time, and even recommend it to my kiddos.

  3. Terje Says:

    Oh, my the line was long! I am glad your day ended with a cool and relaxing evening. I am surprised how loud the cicadas are. I enjoyed how you played with the structure to such detail.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you! I had seen someone else do this structure before (wishing I had saved the link so I could credit them) and thought I’d give it a spin.

  4. arjeha Says:

    What a full day! I am an impatient waiter. Don’t know if I would have stood in line…unless maybe there was food at the end. But hey, you got it all in. I thought we would have some cicadas here, but not a sound.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      You know, it took a long while for both the cicadas and the fireflies to show up around here. Long enough that I started to worry. And yes, I’m one of those weirdos that actually like the cicada hum.

  5. mgminer Says:

    Just marveling at all you packed in a day! And I loved A.J. Fikry:)

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      I liked it too! It was a welcome departure from some of the heavier books I’ve been reading.

  6. Juliette Awua-Kyerematen Says:

    Beautiful, everyday has many stories. I enjoyed the format Lainie. Thank you

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you! You’re right. Every day DOES have stories. Guess I need to remember to find them…

  7. Fran Haley Says:

    THAT LINE. Insane!! It is a wonder you got through it to do any of those other things. A couple of years ago, right after my husband’s heart surgery, he had to get his license renewed. The notorious DMV lines – in the summer heat – led us to go to an office in a small town vs. a larger office, at 6:00 in the morning. We got the first spot – I have a photo of him sitting on the sidewalk in the shaded doorway, leaning against the building, waiting for it to open at 8:00. There’s no way he could’ve endured otherwise. But – mission accomplished! Hooray for your hero son! I was writhing over the proof of address thing. I so admire your tenacity, the keeping of the workout (impressive regardless of form, just sayin’), the retrieval of the gym groceries (oops), and this method of storytelling – just so fun and engaging, all the way through. And CICADAS. They’re a recurring symbol for me in my writing – one of my favorite sounds in the world, stemming from childhood. I for one cranked the volume with joy. That was the cherry on top of this treat of a post, Lainie!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Funny you should mention, Fran. My husband has to get his new license as well. He took one look at the picture of the line I sent him and went online to schedule a time at one of the offices running a pilot program for appointments. As for the proof of address, I’m still scratching my head about it. I am usually SO very careful and thorough about things like that, and I can’t imagine why I didn’t spend more time reading up on the requirements. And…CICADAS. I should also have guessed that you are a fellow cicada lover. There’s just something wonderful and hypnotic about their hum. For a while, I worried about them – they were awfully late this year. Glad you enjoyed their song along with me!

      • Fran Haley Says:

        Agree with your assessment of something wonderful & hypnotic about the hum of cicadas. When I was small and stayed at my grandparents’ country home in the summer, they were always in full throttle; the earth shook with their loud rhythmic rattle, rising and falling… to this day I find it a comforting sound, one evoking a sense of belonging…have written poems about it and am sad Brood X isn’t in my area! Cicadas are not as plentiful as usual around here but I am happy to hear the few…and best of luck to your husband on his DMV visit (!!!!).

  8. Tim Gels Says:

    After re-reading your slice, I imagined it starting with, “Just before I sad down in a chair with a glass of something cold and a cushion for my feet!” What a day — thank you for sharing it with us!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      ah, yes! Well…no cushion for my feet, but the chair you see in the photo serves as my footrest. Maybe that counts?

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