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Posts published in August 2010

Scenes from a childhood

By Kristan Hoffman

In my parents’ office, there were four tables pushed together to make a single large one. I remember sitting underneath those tables while my dad worked. I was out of school, for the day or for the summer, and I needed to be entertained. My dad gave me an old toolbox filled with china markers and colored pencils. For several minutes I drew squares and triangles on blank sheets of paper and pretended to be an architect, like him.

I remember sitting in front of his shoes, close enough to touch but far enough not to get in his way. I looked up at the underside of the table and tried to imagine the schematic he was working on just above my head. A house? A school? A bank? I talked to him through the the tables, pushing my little voice through the cracks where the tables met. I giggled when he answered, even though he wasn’t intending to be funny.

I remember his pipes. He kept four or five of them on a stand on the other side of the room. I thought they were cool, and grownup, like him. But he almost never smoked them. He had only picked up the habit, he said, because back when he taught at Yale, that was what all the professors did.

I remember how he reached for one of the pipes. Held the bowl in his hand, ran a finger along the stem. I crawled out from under the tables to watch.

My dad took the mouthpiece between his lips, sat back, and closed his eyes. As he savored the taste of years long since passed, I could see that he was not my father. He had been someone else before me. There would always be a part of him I didn’t know, and those pipes would never let me — or him — forget it.

I stopped thinking the pipes were cool.

Now, decades later, the pipes sit on a shelf, untouched and unremembered. He hasn’t smoked them in years. He has been my father.

Dreams

By Kristan Hoffman

Last night I fell asleep imagining all the things I want in life. I pictured my future home, with granite countertops in the kitchen, the breakfast bar where I will work in the mornings, the sunlight filtering in through the windows. I pictured the big grassy backyard where my dog and kids will play. I pictured the book signings, the emails and phone calls with my agent and editor, the special shelf in my library for my own covers to be displayed.

It’s not easy for me to talk about these things, because I am a bit superstitious. I knock on wood after I make jokes, afraid to jinx the good things or foretell the bad. I believe there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and I do my best to stay on the right side of that line because I believe in karma.

But I subtitled my website (kristanhoffman.com) “writing dreams into reality” because that’s what it’s about — what I’m about. I’m working hard to turn my dreams of being a writer into my reality. And I transform many of my “dreams” (ideas) into real, written-out stories. That’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was 9 years old, and I hope to do it until I’m 90.

Sometimes it’s a slog, let’s be honest. Sometimes I would rather be sleeping, or going out with friends, or eating a pint of ice cream on the sofa while watching Grey’s Anatomy. Sometimes my back hurts, or my wrists hurt, or my neck hurts, or my eyes hurt. Sometimes I can’t think of a single good word, much less a whole sentence. Sometimes I get so tired I could cry.

But it’s those times that my dreams matter most, and that’s why I’m sharing them now. As a reminder to myself that I’m working towards something tangible, even when everything seems out of my control and about as real as Tinkerbell. As a reminder to any of you who have dreams that you shouldn’t give up on them. Dreams are part of what make life worth living.

Did I think that by 24 I’d have found a wonderful man I want to marry? Or that I’d have the bestest, cutest dog in the whole world? That my friends and family would still be supporting, encouraging, and inspiring me every day? That I would have an editorial team interested in my stories?

No, once upon a time, those were just “silly dreams.” But now here I am, and here they are. And that’s how I know there’s more to come. That’s how I know that if I can dream it, I can achieve it.

And I will.