Roll of the Dice?

We—by we, I mean my tween, my eight year-old and myself—are a teeny, tiny bit Yahtzee-obsessed at the moment (and Saskia, in her very own way). There’s something so simple about the game, a little bit strategy, a little bit rock-n-roll the dice, plus of course, luck. (Full disclosure: I’m not the biggest game gal, but when I love a game the way I’m loving Yahtzee, I really do love playing; there’s no feigning enjoyment for the kids going on here).


Yesterday, I started reworking an essay, draft number seven. It’s not a little tweaking of an essay; it’s like toss out most of it and start with new eyes. A couple of things: one, I’ve been racing around for a number of weeks so most of my writing has been of the easier variety, which is to say articles for work or kind of breezy blogging, a fun-to-write-up interview, stuff that generally I feel competent to do and isn’t making me dig so very deep to marry emotional discovery and artistry or craft or whatever we call literary essay writing. It’s hard to go from a lot of busy to mining the depths. In divers’ terms, you risk the bends. Thus, yesterday, I was struggling to “show up” and then I was struggling to dive in, and also I was struggling with the humbling exercise of tossing out all that hard work on one essay in order to work hard on it again.

It’s so not fixed… yet. I was fortunate to get some helpful feedback on how it’s not working. Today, if there’s a little time, I will endeavor to dive in some more.


Is it like Yahtzee, writing? You have these dice, you keep rolling, you maybe add a little strategy, but there is that little bit of how it all shakes out when the numbers land on the table and you see what you see?

That’s a stretch, huh?

Still, rolling with it—the struggle to find the words to articulate big feelings or handling not enough sleep and teenagers newly with cell phones who forget to turn them on when their parents might be worrying about them or three year-olds who wake up at three in the morning (maybe “three, because I’m three,” which is her answer for many things these days)—all benefit from the good intentions to roll, regard, and move on.

You definitely have to roll with disappointments, in writing and game playing and life.

Despite it being a stretch, I’m going to try to carry that Yahtzee wisdom with me as I continue to do what feels like really hard work.


On a totally other note, but related—in that you-can’t-control-the-dice fashion—I’ve been following the news, as best I can stand, about abortion rights in the wake of the Planned Parenthood funding (insert expletive here) debacle. The kinds of things people opposing abortion dream up I won’t even list. I’ll say that being “pro-life” (don’t get me started) does not extend to women—or women’s lives—for the most rabid anti-abortion folks. I’ll say that I’m squarely in the camp of believing the most extreme organizers opposing abortion have abolishing birth control next on the agenda.

When my cousin got intentionally but not entirely intentionally pregnant—to clarify, she’d stopped taking birth control pills, but wasn’t so, so, so crystal clear about parenthood, more like leaning toward it—she called to share her good news and said one of my favorite things ever, which I’ve repeated to many people: “Sarah, birth control really works.” To which I replied, “I know.”

It does work, much of the time and sometimes it doesn’t or we don’t and you’re back to dice rolling. I hate thinking that accidents, or pregnancies that are life threatening or any number of bad combinations of the dice make it so you lose your chance to decide something so huge about your life. As I’ve said before, no woman goes through a pregnancy without attachment. It’s not a small thing. I feel terrified to imagine a world that can’t forgive mistakes, that can’t support informed choices, that doesn’t value women’s agency and equality. I guess I can imagine it, because we seem to be heading in that direction. But I don’t want to go there.

To that end, I am really and truly raising some money for abortion access and I really and truly hope you’ll help: you are my Standing in the Shadows team, helping the National Network of Abortion Funds meet women’s needs, give poor women a voice, address issues of access and champion equality. We’re nearing the end of the NNAF bowlathon event. Please give, if you are able.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our daily newsletter!

You don't want to be left out, do you?

Sign up!

You have Successfully Subscribed!