Month: March 2010 (page 1 of 3)

At My House…

* It’s snowing. And sticking.

* Colds are returning. Tissues disappearing. Noses reddening.

* Term is ending. Papers printing. Folders organizing.

* April Fool’s Day is coming. Bewaring.

* Hearts are healing. It’s time-taking.

* To-Do lists are growing. Not shrinking.

* Sugar-avoidance continuing. Tummy flattening. Pounds dropping. (I think. I threw away my scale. In the garbage can. And the man in the big white truck took it away.)

* Teeth falling, teeth re-growing. 12-year-molars aching.

* Pita making is soul-stirring. Not kidding.

* Costco strawberries are startling. Big as fists and delicious. Addicting.

What’s up at your house?

¡Olé!

So I’m trying to imbed a video. It’s not happening. For some science-y reason. But there you go. Nonetheless, take 18 minutes out of your life and watch THIS. My excellent SIL Jen sent it to me. It’s Elizabeth Gilbert – remember her? (in the video. not my SIL.) She wrote “Eat Pray Love” (of which I rather enjoyed the Eat section). Now she gives a talk about Genius. If you don’t have 18 minutes, here is a cliff’s notes version, with some of her great words.

She has a concern that society sees creatives as necessarily Suffering Individuals. She uses words like Odious (which makes me love her) to describe this perspective. But she goes back to ancient Greece and Rome, where they shared a similar view (to each other, not to Suffering): There’s this outside source of ideas and creativity. Greek called it a Daemon (not so much a demon), and the Romans called it a Genius. The distinction is important: the person isn’t the genius, he has been visited by the Genius. It’s the Muse. She calls this a “protective psychological construct” – you can never take all the credit for your creations, because your Genius is really responsible. And, on the flipside, when you do a bad job, the worst someone can say to you is “your genius was kind of lame.”

She mentions, briefly, the idea that the Work exists outside of the creator, and I love this. Do  you know who Arnold Friberg is? He’s a painter of heroic portraits, religious or patriotic in content. Husband and I heard him lecture once, and he said the same thing. The picture exists, and comes tapping on his shoulder. If he won’t paint it, someone else will. Of course, he said it much more eloquently… But here’s the thing. I love that thought. That there is a Source for all this creativity.

Gilbert skirts around it for about 16 of her 18 minutes, but I wanted to raise my hand and say, Hey, Liz – I know what that is. That’s what we call God. The most Supremely Creative being. Your Heavenly Father. He has all creativity, and He wants to share it with you, His child. It’s called Inspiration – the breath of God. But, wait. Because then she ends with the great story of these ancient African dancers becoming so attuned to their dancing that they would become transcendent. Lit. Inspired. And their Moorish audience would chant “Allah. Allah. Allah.” As in, we see God in you.

How about that?

And then, the Moors went ahead and conquered Spain, and their chant got an accent: ¡Olé! ¡Olé! ¡Olé! We see God in you.

And that, my friends, is the feeling I get when I read wonderful, Inspired writing. When I see a great, uplifting film. When I look at breathtaking art. My heart leaps, and I want to shout, ¡Olé¡Olé¡Olé!

I see God in you.

Proud Mama

I just got back from watching Kid 1 perform in the region drama competition. Can I tell you what? That is one brilliant kid. She is stunning. On stage, she opens like a flower, and all this depth pours out.

Wow.

Just wow.

The play the did is a one-act adaptation of a show called “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.” It’s the story of a WWII concentration camp called Terezin, where a woman held school for the children at the camp. They drew pictures (she had paint) and wrote poetry that will break your heart. Kid 1 played Raja as a child, then another girl played her as a teen, and a third as a grown woman, remembering. It was devastating in that healing way. Do you know what I mean?

So now I’m wondering why I don’t try to do some playwriting. Because, why not? I can handle dialog. And lots of plays are short on plot, right? (Yes, we all know that is my weakness.) And wouldn’t it be fun to have some work performed right here in my little town, by these kids I’m growing so fond of? Why, yes. Yes it would. So maybe that should be my next project.

But for today, I’m going to bask in the reflected light of my little girl, The Actress.

I am Writer, Hear Me Tap-tap-tap

So, so many times I’ve had this discussion:

What makes you a writer? Well, I write. Okay, but when did you first start calling yourself a writer? Oh. That. When I was published.

See? I’m an oxymoron. Oxy- part optional.

But what I mean is that to be a writer, you write. That word, WRITER, then describes who you are. But writing as a career, well, that’s so different – and still FAR, FAR off for me. Justine Larbalestier (whose blog I visit nearly every day) posted THIS about the whole dilemma. Career versus Identity. Lucky the people who are both. But really? Lucky any of us who love the sound of the tapping keys. Lucky all of us who hear dialog in our heads. Lucky us who create characters worthy of our love and disdain and concern. Lucky us who discover the joy of being WRITERS.

What is this feeling?

So there’s sadness. Grief. Sorrow. My sweet, wonderful, generous, laughing, picture-taking, movie-loving, wave-running, Beach Boys-listening, Elvis-adoring, milk-drinking, compliment-giving father-in-law passed away yesterday. As I held his hand in the ICU this week and listened to him breathe through the oxygen mask, I wanted that hope that his girls felt, that hope that he would pull through. But I didn’t feel it. I felt Inevitable. And I felt okay with that, but still so, so sad.

And there’s guilt. Because I’m not there. I’m not standing with the family, surrounding the hospital bed. I said my last goodbye over the phone. How tacky is that? I wasn’t holding Husband’s hand while he watched his dad go Home. And I should have been there, of course. So, guilt.

And then there’s excitement. Giddiness, even. Because I get to be a Star. Our play (“Joseph”) opened Thursday. Dad W. passed away Friday morning. We performed Friday night. And tonight. And tomorrow, and next week, and it’s SO FUN and I really, really love it.

And I don’t know how to feel that all inside this one heart.

And it’s hard to balance it all. My head would explode if I tried to feel it all at the same time. So I have to take a breath and remember: It’s time to feel this. It’s okay to feel that. And I let myself compartmentalize it all so I don’t just dissolve.

Is there a word for that?

Writing

Nope. Not that kind. In fact, I have nothing to report on the Creating Something front.

No, I’m talking about pencils.

Do you love pencils? I do. Right here at my left hand is a jar (Mason. Pint. Narrow mouth.) full of pencils. Hang on, I’m gong to count them. Nineteen. Plus two Sharpies (one fine, one Ultra-Fine), and two pens (one red ink which writes too thin for me, and one black, pretty much just right). Also a 5 mL tube of acrylic paint (white). And a Fingerbowl moist towelette. (Don’t ask me, I just live here.) Four of the nineteen pencils have red lead. Five have some eraser left. One is mechanical.

Do you find this fascinating? Me, too. Funny thing is, pencils are very hard to come by when Kids come home from school and need to do homework. Suddenly There Are No Pencils In This House. Which, obviously… Well it’s just not the case. But nobody does the written kind of homework in the office. (It’s sort of forbidden, seeing as how it’s so, so easy to forget the Geometry problem you’re working, and just accidentally end up on Facebook.) Only the computer kind of homework gets done in here. Everything else happens at the kitchen table. All over the kitchen table. For several hours every afternoon. And here’s another small mystery of the universe: How can Every Single One of my gifted (that’s public-school Clocked, not only My Humble Opinion) children forget to put something under their homework Every Single Time? I’ve given up on the welts in the table. In fact, I sort of like them. All those chicken-scratchy divots prove that, over the years, much Work has been done, with matching Character built. But here’s what I hate: when they turn homework over to Side B, and all the pencil-marking hieroglyphics rub through onto my cheap kitchen table’s surface. The table, though? Loves those little pencil marks. Loves them so much it wants to hold on to them forever. Nothing short of sanding the surface of the table gets those pencil marks all the way off. And if you think I’m going to sand a table, well, you’re new here, aren’t you?

And I have to say, I love my old-school crank pencil sharpener. Because kids only sharpen when it needs to happen. As opposed to the fancy, battery-powered desk models, which sing the siren song, and my poor kids are helpless against it. I tie them, Ulysses-like, to their chairs and stuff spelling practice papers in their ears, but they insist on taking just a peek. Oh, the hubris. No kid in this house is strong enough to resist the call. Once-tall pencils are bitty nubs within moments. Prevention? Taking the extra steps (literally) to walk into the pantry, turn the corner, and crank the sharpener till the pencil is pointy-fine. That lasts just long enough for my kids to feel the Need to hide the pencil so nobody else could use up the super-pointiness. Hence, There Are No Pencils To Be Found. (Because none of them can remember where their exquisite hiding places were. Ever.)

But luckily, there are still markers and crayons. Because otherwise, how would Kid 3 (who as you may recall spent several days in the hospital last month) have written this note to her Grandpa John, who is in the hospital right now?

Dear Grandpa,

I’m sorry you’re sick.
The Hospital is NOT fun.

Get well and get OUT.

See? the important writing is still getting done. A sentence at a time, with pencils or without.

Look!

Yesterday it was a thin layer of icy snow.

Today? Slickshiny mud, with a small fat red tulip-tip peeking out. And another. And another. It may be just one corner, but it is happening. It is coming. It is.

Now please excuse me while I lie on the driveway with my nose pressed to the dirt.

Half

Does it feel like Thursday was a long time ago to anyone else? Yikes. And I’ve been Momming and Playing so much that I haven’t written a thing. Not a blog post, barely an email. Certainly no revisions. So all my big plans of submitting? They’ve gone the way of the… well, whatever. Gone, anyway. No submitting, at least not this month.

But that’s okay. It IS. Because submitting by the calendar is a great idea, but only if your work is ready. Which mine is not. If I were a baker, my work would still be dough. Were I a tailor, there would be no hems, and my dress full of pins. A filmmaker? Lots of footage, but far, far from locked picture.

Sorry. I know. It’s been a long time.

And there was stress here this weekend. And also strep. Not me, though. I’m still in voice for OPENING WEEK of JOSEPH. I know. I was really concerned last week, seeing as we had not actually learned all the songs and dances. (Not so worried about the songs. I know the songs. Dancing? Not my forte. Really. Stop laughing, brothers who read my blog. See? They know.) But we’re costumed (basically) and ready around here, so bring on opening night. (That’s Thursday. If I suddenly drop off the face of the blogosphere, you’ll know why.)

Does anyone else wonder why the word “strep” comes up misspelled, but “blogosphere” is fine? Yeah. Me, too.

On the literary front (stop laughing, brothers. I mean it.) MRRO is getting fun reviews and lots of blog-time. There’s another week to enter to win a copy over at Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books, so go get signed up. Or don’t. But it’s only fair if I tell you all about it.

Also, it was my little brother’s birthday yesterday, and I forgot to call. Is he still my little brother if he turned 34? Yup. And do you want to hear a cute thing from my kidhood? Here it is: His birthday, like I just told you, was March 14th. And my half-birthday was (and is) March 15th. And seeing as at the point in my kidhood we are discussing, there were only 3 kids in our family (as opposed to the 10 that we had a little later), there was always half a birthday cake left over for my half-birthday. And my Mom always made just enough of a big deal about it that I was pretty sure that I was special. I know, right? She was pretty awesome.

So happy half birthday to me. Now I must go and practice that one part I always mess up. Yes. THAT one.

Bye!